This story is COMPLETELY different than the show or the books. I have altered past experiences that, in turn, change the characters. Although some character traits are still the same, some will be different.

The sound of birds chirping outside awoke Richard from his sleep. The sunlight was pouring into the small room, illuminating half of his bed and part of the wooden floor beneath. He sighed as he slowly opened his eyes, grimacing at the bright light. He sat up in his small bed, blinking and adjusting to the morning. His body ached, his muscles sore from the previous days activities of hunting. Chase had banged on the door so loudly that Richard had awoken with a jump, scrambling towards the door without grabbing a shirt. Chase had smacked him on the back, informing him that they were to go hunting. Richard complied, and the entire day was spent tracking a deer. They weren't able to make a kill until just before dusk. Today he was supposed to go with Chase to the market, grabbing various ingredients for a dinner Emma had planned to make.

Richard groped at the side table, his hand clumsily grabbing at a small canteen of water. He gulped the liquid greedily, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. He yawned as he swung his legs over the side of his bed, reaching for the shirt he had discarded earlier. He pulled his shirt on just in time to hear Chase's deep voice accompanied by his heavy knock. Richard chuckled as he pushed himself off the bed, happy that this time he was able to wake of his own accord. He moved out of his bedroom and into the small living area. Chase would joke with him, telling him he needed a bigger abode in order to entice a woman to his bed. However, Richard liked his small cabin in the secluded woods. He had no intention of bringing a random woman to his home. If he had found a woman he truly cared for, he figured that she wouldn't care about where he lived or the size of his house. Richard swung the door open with a smile.

"Ah, you're awake this morning!" Richard rolled his eyes as Chase laughed, the hearty sound filling the air.

"I see you are here to run Emma's errands," Richard teased as Chase smiled and nodded. As far as he was concerned, Chase was the epitome of a family man. The way he and Emma interacted always made Richard smile. He hoped he'd be able to have that with a woman one day. Chase doted on his children in the most peculiar way. He would constantly insult them, calling them ugly and bothersome. The children would always laugh and cling to him, causing Chase to give up his facade and resort to tickling them to get them to leave his legs. Chase's love for his family was apparent.

"If we wait long, we will make the wife very unhappy," Chase stepped forward, waving a hand in Richard's direction to follow. He smiled as he closed the door behind him, jogging a few steps to catch up to Chase's long strides.

"I still don't see why I have to come with you to do this, she isn't my wife." Richard joked, bumping against Chase's shoulder, soliciting a downward glance from Chase.

"Consider this training," Chase smiled, nudging Richard with his elbow. "One day, when you have a wife and children, you'll appreciate all the times I dragged you to do their bidding." Richard threw his head back and laughed.

The walk towards the market seemed rather short, Chase and Richard joking along the they entered the area, Chase quickly separated from Richard, maneuvering through the crowds to acquire what he needed. Richard sighed and shook his head, looking around to see what he could do to pass the time. Chase hadn't informed him of what Emma needed, and with him on the other side of market, Richard was left alone to wander the various shops.

Richard walked by a small jewelry stand, offering small trinkets to any who would pass by. "A bracelet for your beloved?" He smiled sadly and shook his head at the woman. She nodded as she put down the blue jeweled bracelet she had been holding towards him. "A shame," he heard her mutter under her breath. Richard furrowed his brows together as he cocked his head towards her.

"Excuse me, miss?" He asked. The woman looked up at him with hazel eyes, the spark of life quite prominent in them. Her light brown hair was pulled back into a messy bun, her face only slightly withered with age. She held a shawl around her shoulders. She smiled as she looked up at him. He found the gesture comforting.

"A shame," she repeated.

"What's a shame?" Richard questioned, assuming that she was referring to a failed sale.

"That a man such as yourself does not have a beloved." Richard's eyebrows furrowed again as he bit the inside of his cheek. The woman laughed. "You act as though such a statement is a shock."

Richard smiled at her and shook his head. "I'm sorry, it isn't a shock. I'm just surprised that a woman who knows nothing about me automatically assumes it is a shame for me not to have a beloved." She shook her head and smiled, glancing down towards the bracelet she had previously tried to sell him. "My name is Richard."

"Ingrid." She responded, nodding her head and smiling. "Well, one day, when you have a beloved, you can come by my shop and I will sell you something to give to her." Richard laughed as he glanced over the items on the table. "I will give you a very good price." She chuckled as he continued to inspect the jewelry. Something was drawing him to the blue bracelet she had waved in front of him. He drew his bottom lip through his teeth in concentration and looked up at Ingrid.

"I will take you up on that offer, Ingrid." The brunette nodded and he turned away, his breath catching in his throat when he saw Caroline making her way through the crowd.

She approached him with speed, quickly latching onto his arm and trying to lead him away. Richard sighed.

Caroline had a small frame, her blonde hair full of curls as it hung limply around her shoulders. Her eyes were the dullest shade of green. For the past few months, she had been desperately trying to win his attention. At first, he thought it was endearing, but now he just found it annoying. She would hang on his every word and readily agree with whatever he had to say. Richard found that the most annoying of all her traits. He tried his hardest to avoid situations with her, and when he was forced to communicate, he kept it at the bare minimum. He had no interest in pursuing her, but she never seemed to catch on.

Usually, when Chase was around, women would shy away from him. Chase's bulky exterior caused many to fear him, most of which included women. Being around Chase allowed Richard to avoid contact with women of whom he didn't wish to speak. It seemed as though no one caught his attentions, that the women who were available to him were just bland, not worth chasing. Sadly, Caroline soon found out that Chase was a kind man, and had no problem approaching Richard when Chase was around. Still, he wished his friend were there to help him fend her off.

Richard allowed Caroline to drag him around the market, her hand persistently tugging on his arm. He didn't listen to what she had to say, her words falling on deaf ears. There was no way he could separate from her without appearing to be rude. His only hope was Chase, who seemed to be lost in the crowd, his arms full of ingredients.

"Perhaps you don't wish to be in the marketplace, maybe we should leave. Explore the woods, possibly?" Caroline looked up at him with eager eyes, a toothy grin on her face. Compared to most girls in Hartland, she was definitely on the higher ends of beauty. He began to wonder if this was the best that was ever going to happen to him. Maybe Caroline is the beloved that Ingrid would sell him jewelry for. Maybe if he gave in to her advances, life could be easier. Maybe he was shooting her down for unrealistic fantasies, and if he had the opportunity to be with her, he would fall for her. He doubted all of these, but it seemed better than the alternative of being alone.

"May-" Richard stopped in his tracks, Caroline failing at trying to get him to walk forward. She pouted as she tugged on his arm, fully aware she was almost near victory. Richard's mouth dropped open.

Across the marketplace was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. She had long, dark hair. It appeared to be black, but when the sunlight danced along it, brown was present. She had a slim frame and Richard had the feeling that her body would meld perfectly into his. She walked with grace and dignity, as though she was the most important person in Hartland. To Richard, she currently was. She was dressed in a loose blouse, the dark blue color showing the intense contrast of her porcelain skin. Her black pants were tighter, showing her shapely legs. Her hand moved to brush away hair that had fallen in her face.

When she looked his way, her blue eyes made Richard's heart stop.