Disclaimer: I do not own any part of "Once Upon a Time". If I did, 1x07 would have ended very differently. :P
Author's note: I think Emma will definitely have a very hard time dealing with Graham's death, and Mary Margaret will have to be the one who helps her through it. This is my take on how that might go. Enjoy!
Mary Margaret has just sat down at the table with a cup of tea and a new book when the front door crashes open and then slams shut. She looks up in surprise to see Emma leaning against it, gasping for breath. Her face is tight and she's breathing hard like she's been running. There are tearstains on her cheeks.
"Emma?" Mary Margaret asks, quickly closing the book and getting up. Emma meets her eyes for a moment. She looks one breath away from completely breaking down.
"What happened?" Mary Margaret asks, concerned. Emma shakes her head, her eyes filling with tears. Then she turns and charges up the stairs two at a time.
"Emma!" Mary Margaret gets to the bottom of the stairs in time to see the door to the guestroom slam shut. The phone starts ringing in the kitchen and Mary Margaret finds herself torn between answering the phone and going to check on Emma. On the third ring she finally decides to go get the phone. Maybe whoever is calling will know what's going on.
"Hello?" she says, still looking at the stairs.
"Is Emma there?" It's Ruby. Straight to the point as usual.
"Yeah. She's upstairs."
"Is she okay?"
"Well, she's all in one piece," Mary Margaret says honestly, "but okay is not really the word I would use. Why? What happened?"
"You don't know?" Ruby asks. The way she says it has Mary Margaret even more worried than she was. Upstairs she can hear something shatter. It sounds like the lamp from the bedside table in the guestroom being thrown against a wall.
"Know what?" she asks, almost afraid of the answer.
"The sheriff's dead," Ruby says.
"Oh no!" Mary Margaret gasps. Her hand flies to her mouth as she suddenly understands Emma's reaction. She looks up as another loud noise echoes from upstairs.
"Apparently they were both in the office and he just dropped." Ruby snaps her fingers to demonstrate just how fast it had been.
"Emma was there?" Mary Margaret asks.
"Yup," Ruby says in that matter-of-fact way of hers. "Archie heard her screaming and called an ambulance, but by the time they got there he was gone. They said it was probably a heart attack. Emma ran as soon as they said it."
"She ran all the way here?" That would explain the red face.
Mary Margaret rubs her face, trying to get a grip on her own emotions. She can feel tears welling in her eyes at the thought of the worried young man who entered her classroom mere hours ago. She takes a deep breath. There will be time to grieve later. Right now Emma needs her.
"Thank-you for calling," she says quietly.
"Maybe you can help her," Ruby says in a rare moment of concern. Ever since Emma helped Ashley save her baby Ruby has shown an unshakeable loyalty to Emma that Mary Margaret has never seen the rebellious girl show to anyone but Ashley.
"I'll try," Mary Margaret says around the lump in her throat.
"Good luck." There is a click as Ruby hangs up.
Mary Margaret stands still for a long moment, just staring at the phone. Then she makes herself set it down on the counter and climb up the stairs. The door to the guestroom is still closed.
"Emma?" she calls, pressing her ear against the door. There's no answer. Mary Margaret carefully opens the door and peeks in.
Emma is not exactly a messy person, but she's no clean-freak either, and her room typically reflects that. The scene that Mary Margaret finds inside, however, is definitely from an emotional tornado. Several of Emma's meager possessions have been thrown around the room. Judging by where they landed, most of them were aimed at walls. The lamp from the bedside table is among them and is lying on the floor in shattered pieces. Emma herself is sitting on the floor with her back to the bed, her knees to her chest and her arms wrapped tightly around them. Her cheeks are wet and her breathing is ragged. She looks up as the door opens but immediately looks away again. Mary Margaret doesn't know what to say. She sighs and then goes and quietly sits down beside Emma.
"Ruby called," she says quietly. "She told me what happened. Emma, I am so sorry."
"I should have known better," Emma says hoarsely, refusing to look at Mary Margaret. "For some stupid reason, I got it in my head that maybe you were right and that maybe this time would be different, that maybe for once I wouldn't get hurt. That maybe, just maybe, there was someone out there who could love me without leaving."
"Emma..." Mary Margaret's heart is breaking for her housemate. She doesn't know what to say. She knows Emma is only making these confessions because Graham's death is wrecking havoc with the emotions that she usually keeps under such tight control.
"Everybody always leaves," Emma says emotionally, swiping angrily at her cheek. "It's like there's some kind of universal rule that Emma Swan is not allowed to be happy, because every time I start to think that maybe it might be possible, someone dies or they find someone better and I get left out in the cold!" She swallows hard and a tear runs down her cheek.
"You deserve better than that," Mary Margaret says sincerely. She can feel her own eyes burning for her housemate's pain.
"How long until you throw me out?" Emma asks sadly, finally turning to look at her. "It's what everyone else does."
"I am never going to throw you out," Mary Margaret says, horrified that Emma would even think that. Emma laughs humorlessly.
"I've heard that one before," she says, looking away. "Sooner or later, everybody leaves. Eventually you will too."
Her wall is up now, taller and thicker than ever. Mary Margaret sees her jaw tighten as she begins to get herself together and she knows that if she doesn't say something fast, doesn't convince Emma that it really is safe to trust her, the blonde will stuff all of her pain deep inside and shut out the world for good.
She reaches out and lays a hand on Emma's arm. The blonde doesn't look up.
"I'm not perfect, Emma," Mary Margaret says sincerely. "I can't promise that I'll never hurt you. But I can promise that I will try my hardest not to." She reaches out and takes Emma's tear-streaked face in her hands, gently turning it to face her. "I will never kick you out, and I will never leave you unless you ask me to." She gently wipes Emma's cheeks with her thumbs as Emma's eyes search her face, desperately looking for some sign that she means it. Mary Margaret smiles at her. "I promise."
It's almost as though the words are magic. Tears begin to fill Emma's eyes and then they're running down her face. Mary Margaret reaches out and wraps her arms around Emma, holding her tightly. The blonde uncurls from her protective position and buries her face in Mary Margaret's shoulder. She wraps her arms around the teacher's waist, grabbing fistfuls of her shirt and clinging to her desperately as sobs wrack her body.
"He's gone," she chokes. Her voice is muffled by her sobs. "Graham's gone."
"I know," Mary Margaret says, tightening her arms around the blonde. "I know."
And strangely enough she does. She isn't really sure how, but somehow she finds that she knows exactly what it's like to be on the floor cradling the dying body of the only man she's ever truly loved. She understands the crippling fear and the chilling grief that makes a person wonder if there is even anything left worth living for. It makes no sense because she's never even been in such a situation before. But somehow she understands.
It takes her a moment to realize that there are tears running down her own cheeks. She isn't really sure whether they are for kind-hearted Graham, whose life ended far too soon, or for Emma, who has been through so much and just wanted to be happy for once. Maybe they're for both of them and the life they should have had together. All she really knows is that Emma deserves so much more than this and Mary Margaret is going to do everything in her power to make sure she gets it.
She shifts a bit to get into a more comfortable position and Emma immediately stiffens in her arms, instinctively tightening her grip on the back of Mary Margaret's shirt.
"I'm right here," Mary Margaret assures her, tucking Emma's head protectively beneath her chin. "I'm not going anywhere."
Emma cries for a good hour before her sobs finally begin to slow. Eventually they die down to small shuddering breaths. Mary Margaret continues to hold her, gently rubbing her back. Finally she looks down to see that Emma has fallen asleep, her breathing even and her head resting peacefully against Mary Margaret's shoulder.
On an impulse that she doesn't completely understand, Mary Margaret gently kisses the top of her housemate's head and whispers, "I love you Emma."
She knows a conscious Emma would probably go into panic mode at those words. But she also knows that more than likely no one's ever told Emma that before, and she deserves to hear the words from someone who really means it.
Mary Margaret settles back against the bed and gets comfortable. She knows she could get up now and go to her own room, but for the moment her need for sleep is overruled by her need to know that Emma is okay. Her last thought as she closes her eyes is that as strange as it sounds, there's something about holding Emma in her arms that just feels incredibly right.
... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...
The next morning is a Saturday, for which Mary Margaret is incredibly grateful. She wakes up early, Emma's head still resting peacefully on her shoulder. She carefully shifts the blonde over to the bed and then heads downstairs, quietly shutting the door behind her.
For as long as she can remember, Mary Margaret has gotten up on Saturday mornings and made breakfast. It's the one day out of the week that she gets to eat something good instead of toast or cereal or instant oatmeal or, since Emma's moved in, Poptarts. Mary Margaret loves cooking, but she has to be at work by eight during the week and she teaches Sunday school at the church at nine, so she rarely has time to cook anything but dinner. Saturday mornings, however, are all hers. This time she settles on chocolate chip pancakes, something she recently discovered to be one of Emma's favorite dishes.
She's just turning off the stove when Emma finally comes downstairs in jeans and a white tank-top with her black hoodie over the top.
"Morning," Mary Margaret says, giving her a small smile. Emma gives her a wordless nod before pulling out a chair from the table. In the weeks she's been staying with the school teacher she's quickly become accustomed to the Saturday morning routine. Breakfast together is required, regardless of what other business is waiting. The sleeves on Emma's sweatshirt are a bit long, and she fidgets with the ends of them as she rests her arms on the wooden tabletop.
Mary Margaret sets the table and sets out the plate of pancakes and sausages. Then she takes the pot off the back burner and pours them both a mug of hot chocolate. After adding come cinnamon to both, a strange quirk that they somehow have in common, Mary Margaret goes and sits down at the table. She hands one of the mugs to Emma, who takes it without a word.
"How are you doing?" Mary Margaret asks carefully. Emma takes a drink and shrugs.
"I feel like I got punched in the gut," she says honestly, staring down into her mug of hot chocolate.
"If there's anything I can do..." Mary Margaret begins. Emma just shakes her head.
By some unspoken agreement they decide to begin eating. Together they both pull pancakes off of the small pile that would normally have lasted Mary Margaret almost a week, but with Emma around it will be lucky to make it to tomorrow. Surprisingly Emma only makes it through four pancakes. She pushes the last bite around her plate, staring at something only she can see. Mary Margaret decides it's probably best to just let her be.
"I kissed him," Emma blurts suddenly. Mary Margaret looks up from her second pancake, surprised. Emma doesn't seem to notice. "And he kissed me back. And then he just..." She trails off, her face pained.
Mary Margaret reaches over and takes Emma's hand in her, giving it a comforting squeeze. Emma takes a shuddering breath and lets it out.
"I should go to the office," she says. "Someone has to keep the place running."
"Are you going to be okay?" Mary Margaret asks. It isn't in the stupid way that most people ask it, the way that says "Are you done being depressed now? Because I have things to do." This is more of a concerned, "I can stay with you, if you want."
"I don't know," Emma answers honestly. But the way she says it tells Mary Margaret that she'll let her know if she needs anything. That in itself is a huge step. Mary Margaret gives her hand a final squeeze and then lets go.
"I'll clean up," she says, standing and picking up the plates. Not that Emma really does dishes anyway. But the blonde nods and heads back upstairs to change.
Mary Margaret puts the dishes in the sink and fills it with water. It only takes her a few minutes to wash the two place settings plus everything she used to make the pancakes. She's just drained the sink and is drying the second of the two mugs when Emma comes back downstairs in a red shirt. One look at her face tells Mary Margaret that Emma's wall is up again, but she chooses not to comment. Emma's going to need that wall if she's going to make it through today in one piece.
"Wish me luck," Emma says, picking up her blue jacket from a chair.
"If you want I can bring you some lunch later," Mary Margaret offers suddenly.
"I'd like that," Emma says quietly. Mary Margaret nods.
"Okay," she says, putting the two mugs in the cabinet over the sink. "Call me if you need anything."
"I will," Emma promises, putting on her jacket. She turns and heads over to the door. She rests her hand on the knob, pulling the door open. There she pauses a moment.
"Mare," she says, looking over her shoulder. Mary Margaret turns around. Emma pauses, wracking her brain for the right way to say what she's trying to say. Finally she just settles for, "Thanks."
Mary Margaret smiles. Tone is everything with Emma, and that particular one is the closest she has ever come to saying "I love you."
"You're welcome," she says sincerely. Emma nods firmly, obviously relieved to have said it. It's almost cute how much effort it takes for her to say something so simple.
"I'll see you later then," Emma says a bit awkwardly.
"Bye," Mary Margaret says.
The door shuts and then Emma is gone. Mary Margaret turns back to the rack with the rest of the wet dishes and shakes her head. It's going to be a long couple of days in Storybrooke, particularly for Emma. Graham's funeral still remains to be had. Mary Margaret doesn't know it yet, but when it's all over Emma will have a breakdown in the stairwell on the way back up to the apartment. In the days that follow there will be several broken dishes as she yells at the world for stealing Graham from her, and more than one night where she wakes up crying and screaming his name. There will be days when she refuses to talk, let alone leave the apartment, and there will be others when she drives the police car around the same block until nearly four in the morning before finally coming back to her frantic housemate. Somehow Mary Margaret will pull her through. And in time Emma will begin to heal.
Of course, Mary Margaret doesn't know any of that just yet. But there is one thing she does know. Whatever happens, somehow she knows that they're going to be okay.
So how was it? Please review and let me know what you think!