Disclaimer: This is an original story based upon the characters of Gilmore Girls. No profit will be made from this story and no copyright infringement is intended.

Author's Note: The prodigal author has returned! My life has been crazy even more than usual lately and so I've been a little lax on writing. I hope this story will make up for it. Let me know what you think. This story begins before Rory's graduation.

The baby's hair began to curl at six months and it delighted Emily. She loved nothing more than to take a lock of soft hair and curl it around her fingertip. Emily smiled at the memory and wrapped her silk robe tighter around her. She reached into the chest that was tucked in the far corner of the attic. She often came here when she couldn't sleep. It was sort of her secret place. There was a ghastly looking lamp that Richard's mother had given them years ago that provided light, and an old bearskin rug provided comfort as she sat in her solitude and looked at the contents of the old chest. She had it specially made when Lorelai was born. It was hand carved with Lorelai Victoria Gilmore on the top and doves and roses carved all over the sides. A lacy white christening dress with the faintest stain of grape juice lay on the top wrapped lovingly in tissue paper. There was a soft yellow blanket they had brought Lorelai home from the hospital in under She reached in and took out a large silver plated locket. She opened it up and pulled out a long silky curl of black hair tied with a pink ribbon. She held it up to her face--it was still the softest thing she had ever felt. There was a velvet box that she opened up and pulled out a few pressed wild flowers. Oh how mad she had been that day, when Lorelai came tramping into the kitchen with mud caked on her new mary janes, the eyelet lace torn off the bottom of her dress. She had ordered the girl to her room when the child had brought out a small handful of wildflowers from behind her back.

"I picked these for you Mommy," she said brightly, and the mommy's heart had melted. She picked up her girl, muddy shoes and all and hugged her to her.

There were four pictures that she had drawn, one from Sunday School when she was six years old. It was a picture of the three of them. She giggled at the drawing of Richard that took up the entire page, then there was one of her, and one of Lorelai. They were holding hands and there was a rainbow behind them. Written in red crayon were the words, "I luv my famle." There was an old doll, her hair mussed and a big smile made in red nail polish on her lips. She had forgotten the doll's name, but had not forgotten how her little six year old's eyes had lit up when Richard had brought her out behind his back when he had returned from his trip to England. There were two tiny little pink mittens Hopie had crocheted for Lorelai's first Christmas, a little yellow sleeper with a duck on it, and her first little coat, robin egg blue colored with a white downy rim around the hood. So many memories, Popsicle stick creations, the ashtray she had made for Richard when she was in first grade, Emily had saved it all.

She looked down at her wrist watch, three-thirty in the morning. She hadn't slept well for the past two nights; Richard was out of town for the first time since his heart attack. He had gone back to work half days shortly after she had returned from the road trip with the girls and now he had volunteered for a three day trip to California. During the day she was happy, it was nice to have things back to normal, but at night when she brushed her hand over Richard's pillow and remembered how white and still he had looked in the hospital, remembered how scared she had been, she was plagued with a nagging worry. What if he needed her? And so she had retreated to the attic, to relive the days of her early motherhood before Christopher, and before her little sweetheart had grown away from her. It was that same little girl that had brought her the wildflowers so long ago that had told her that night in that awful hotel room that she knew it had been hard for her mother to have her gone. Emily had simply nodded and mumbled, biting her cheek.

You have no idea. I died a little bit every day.

And then they had watched Pursuit of Happyness and Rory and Lorelai had teased her about Will Smith. They had all sat on the bed, dishing out Dots and Little Debbie's. Rory and Lorelai had both fallen asleep during the movie and after it was over she had helped Rory over to her bed, and tucked her in, and then pulled the blanket over Lorelai. She sat on the side of the bed and looked at her daughter's face. Then suddenly she reached down and kissed the top of her head. The action surprised her, she had rarely touched her daughter over the past twenty years. Her daughter turned towards her sleepily and smiled.

"Goodnight Mom," she whispered, and there was something about the way she said it, a softness that Emily hadn't seen directed towards her in such a long time. For a moment, Lorelai was her little girl again. Lorelai smiled again and Emily felt some of the ice around her heart melt and she wondered if perhaps, just perhaps she hadn't been replaced all those years ago. That was what had hurt the most, not just that she had runaway, but that she had found someone else. It wasn't that she hadn't wanted any mother, she just hadn't wanted her. Emily had been exchanged like broken appliance.

"Mom...what I said before...I mean it, I really do know it was hard for you," Lorelai said, breaking her out of her thoughts.

Emily leaned forward and tenderly brushed a piece of hair from her daughter's forehead.

"Goodnight Lorelai, I"ll be here to pick you up in the morning," she said.

Lorelai nodded and turned back around.

Emily brought her knees to her chest and rested her chin in her hands. She pulled the bearskin rug closer around her, it was still a bit chilly up in the attic at nights. She checked her watch again, three thirty-five. She had been awful to Lorelai the next morning, criticizing her over everything from her dress to how she carried her luggage. She had picked apart Mia's wedding, until finally Lorelai had exploded at her, telling her she wished she hadn't come on the trip. They had a miserable ride home, and when she had dropped off the girls, she wondered why she had been so horrible. She hadn't realized it until now, with mementoes of her motherhood scattered around her. It had been the same thing the night that Lorelai had come over to help her with the computer and they had had a drink together. She had comforted her girl, telling her that she would be fine after her divorce. They had stayed up late talking, and then she had helped Lorelai up to her room and into bed. When she had gone to bed herself, Richard had sleepily reached over and wrapped his arms around her.

"Is she alright?" he asked.

Emily nodded, "She's fine," her voice caught in her throat.

Richard looked up and saw that his wife's eyes were closed and her lower lip trembling.

"Emmy," he said softly, "What is it?"

Emily turned towards him, her eyes shining, "She's home. She's home Richard."

Richard leaned down and kissed her. It wasn't long before his breathing slowed and she knew he was asleep again. She had slowly released his arm from around her and went back down the hall to Lorelai's room. She opened the door and went inside. For so long, fifteen long years, this room held nothing but pain for her. It hadn't even been open for the first year that Lorelai and Rory were gone. For several months she hadn't been able to walk by it without crying. She quietly sat down on one of the chairs--she was here, in her house. It was too much, too much to know that her family, her own little family was under the same roof. God knew she loved Rory, but for one night it was just Mom, Dad, and child again. She bit her lower lip as she watched her daughter sleeping in the bed. How long would this moment last? How long would this peace last between them? A day? A week? When would the next time come? The next time her heart would be broken all over again? No, she couldn't bear it, she had to be in control. She had to be the one that called the shots. And so she had made sarcastic remarks about the deposit the next morning and barely looked at her daughter? And she got what she wanted...she saw the hurt in her daughter's eyes as she turned to leave. Why was it what she wanted?

Sighing, she turned and put the treasures back in their chest. Why was life so complicated? She wanted her daughter in her life, but yet when she got too close she pushed her away. She opened the locket again and wrapped the silky curl around her finger and suddenly she knew the answer. It didn't change anything, but she knew the answer.

Because when someone you love so fiercely breaks your heart, life simply is complicated.