You don't quiet realize it until you almost lose her.

You don't quite understand exactly how intertwined you are until you see her lying in that hospital bed, red blood on white skin and white sheets and even from the doorway you can tell she isn't breathing properly. You feel it, somewhere deep within you, this sudden certainty that if she's not there you have nothing at all, you are nothing at all. You feel it and your heart rips open and you're forced to remember that she isn't an immortal angel come to save you from yourself, no, she's human and breakable and broken and pleasedontletherdie.

You don't notice you're crying, screaming incoherent pleas until Emma's sister grasps you by the elbow and pulls you from the room, spins you into a tight hug and it feels like her arms around you are all that's holding you together at that moment. You sit on the hard, plastic hallway bench with the rest of Emma's family, arms around shoulders and hands held in silent support and tentative hope while their daughter, their sister, your lover fights for her life behind that wall.

Later the doctor comes to get them, says 'will the family come with me please?' and you stay seated until her mother gestures for you to follow. She says softly, 'come on, Jenny,' and you almost cry with gratitude as you all file into the small sterile room. The doctor starts to disagree, puffs up his chest and goes 'family only!' but Johanna silences him with a sharp glare.

'She is family.'

The doctor concedes, cowed, and as he follows you all inside he cautions you: nobody touch her, nobody speak loud. He takes her parents aside and launches into a rehearsed explanation which you catch snatches of, things like 'broken ribs' and 'punctured lung' and 'internal bleeding' but you're not paying attention. You can't take your mind off Emma, how tiny she looks in that bed and the tubes and needles and steady (thankyougod) beeping of the heart monitor, and the way her eyelids are fluttering slightly like she's dreaming. You just want her to wake up.

Please, Emma, wake up.

You end up sleeping in her room that night because you don't think you can stand to be on your own (you think you might fall apart without her family, her lovely functional living family there to hold you together) and the hospital won't let you all stay. Her father stays there in the hallway of the ICU to maintain the vigil and her mother drives everyone else home, makes a pot of tea, and puts the radio on to break the oppressive silence.

It's like someone's died, you think and it hits you hard, like a punch in the gut, and you feel like you might be sick.

'She's okay,' Johanna says to the four lost-looking children (though you're not children anymore, except for Emma's little brother) huddled together on one couch, 'she'll be okay, she's strong,' but all you can think is that she looked so fragile.

You want her back.

You don't sleep well that night, wrapped up in sheets that smell like her and faintly like sweat, like sex – the two of you forgot to change the sheets from last night before you left the house that morning (oh god, why didn't you stop her?) but you dream a terrible nightmare. You're back at the hospital, looking down at her but this time there's no reassuring mechanical noise, no steady pulse, no movement under her eyelids and you're screaming for help or maybe divine intervention-

-and you're still screaming when you wake up, wracking sobs tearing through you and stealing your breath. Then the door opens and Emma's mother is there, walking towards the bed without hesitation to pull you into a fierce hug, rub your back and stroke your hair until, finally, you can speak without your breath catching.

'I need her, ' you gasp, and it comes from the very center of you, this absolute truth you've always known but never felt in this way before.

'She can't die...'

When the phone rings the next morning and Emma's dad reports that she's awake, they think she's out of the woods, she really wants to see you guys, can you make it for morning visiting hours?' your head believes it but your heart, not quite.

Not until you're there, looking into her blessedly open eyes (so strikingly green against the ghostly pale of her skin) and she blinks, slowly, says 'Jenny...' as though you're the answer to some important question, a missing puzzle piece she's just found. She smiles dreamily and says 'I missed you,' and you take her hand (the good one, her left is in a cast laying across her stomach and you're careful not to agitate it) and kiss it. 'I missed you too,' you say, your throat constricting around the words. Then you lean over and press your lips to hers, ever so softly, and when you feel her kiss you back-

-that's when you feel the weight lift off your heart.


I do not own Hand aufs Herz or it's characters.

Thanks to Hollie and Datsme, who kindly beta'd and kept me from going crazy trying to make this work.