12 Days of Snowfall
AN: First I want to say to my faithful readers of Destinies Entwined that I have not given up on that story. The next chapter is nearly done, but caught up in the Christmas spirit, I felt like writing such a tale for my new favourite tv show: Once Upon a Time. At best, this story will be four or five chapters long and with any luck will be done in time for Christmas. Contains spoilers up to and including 1x07 so take care as you proceed.
I hope you enjoy this wintery tale.
12 Days of Snowfall
Mary Margaret Blanchard took a deep sip of the hot cocoa before her, too late realizing her mistake of impetuosity. She gasped inwardly as the hot liquid burned the tip of her tongue, leaving it raw and numb. Even the brief taste of cinnamon could not ease the pain of impatience.
She nodded as Emma walked into the room wearing her usual skin-tight jeans and even tighter white camisole. You would hardly know it was winter outside by the way Emma dressed. Mary Margaret daren't say a word against it, though—Emma had lost far too much to suffer through the pettiness.
The sorrow was all too evident in the young woman's eyes, though a smile concealed the pain in her expression. For too long, she had pretended to feel nothing for the sheriff. Too late, she had accepted that part of herself. Their feelings declared he had died seconds later in her arms. A true tragedy—like the kind you read in books—it had affected Mary Margaret deeply. She had wept the night through after learning the news, though the truth of her sorrow lay deeper than the loss of Graham.
Nearly a month after the incident, Emma had hastily put up a façade of acceptance; Mary Margaret knew better. Her own heart was still heavy, though it was a different name pounding in her own heart. David Nolan.
She shook it from her mind. She had promised herself that she was over him, that whatever she had believed to feel for him had been a mere consequence of having saved him—the nurse/patient syndrome.
Ever since Graham, she'd realized how selfish she'd been, imagining that her life was falling because a married man had chosen to remain faithful to his wife instead of choosing her. She'd hated herself for sleeping with Doctor Whale too, and had quickly put that terror to an end. Emma's tragedy had given her a second glimpse of what life was, and she was no longer willing to pretend that life was all sunshine and rainbows and prancing, white ponies.
"It's cooler now."
She'd hardly noticed Emma pouring herself a cup of cocoa, or taking the seat opposite her own. Now that she did, she made her best effort to ignore the deep bags under Emma's eyes—more proof of sleepless nights—and the extra sticks of cinnamon layering the cup above a cloud of whipped cream—unmistakeable comfort food.
"What are you up to today?"
Mary Margaret paused to take another sip of her cocoa, glad that it had cooled, but sorely disappointed that the taste was marred by the rawness of her tongue. Placing it aside, she forced a reply from her lips. "Not much, really." It was Saturday, so her usual duties could not act as an easy lie. "I was hoping to get some Christmas shopping done."
Emma's eyebrow rose suspiciously, as if she could sense the falsehood in the air. "I hope you don't intend to buy me anything."
"I actually have a lot of little ones to get to first, but you do fall somewhere on my list." A slice of truth.
It was not that she wanted to lie to Emma, or that she believed the woman was too weak to know that she spent Saturday afternoons volunteering at the animal shelter, a job that had once belonged to a most beloved sheriff. She just didn't want to draw attention to the fact.
Emma shook her. "I don't want anything, honestly." This was a lie, too. Mary Margaret knew well enough that there was indeed something Emma would give the world for. "Besides, if you buy something for me, it means I'm contractually obligated to but you something too."
"Gift giving isn't a contract two people enter into, Emma," Mary Margaret chided gently. "I give expecting nothing in return."
"That might be your life motto, but it isn't mine. Everything comes with a price." Emma's voice cracked as she finished her sentence, her eyes fading to a place far away. The price for opening her heart had been devastating.
Biting her lip, Mary Margaret desperately tried to change the subject. "Well, I don't know about you, but I'm in the mood for an omelet. Can I tempt you for a pepper, cheese one?"
"No, thanks," Emma responded vacantly, standing quickly. "I'm on duty." Her fingers fell gently across the Sheriff badge pinned to her belt. As if everything else wasn't enough, each day was a reminder of the terrible loss she had suffered. Still, Mary Margaret knew that the job was one of the things keeping her strong. She had fought tooth and nail for the right and, with the backing of most of the town, had succeeded in gaining the prestigious title, beating the Mayor in their small war. Yes; the job and Henry were the only things keeping Emma breathing. "See you later. Good luck with everything."
Her last few words, brief, trite gestures of well-being, held a resonance of absent-mindedness. She was falling away to the past, the tracks of her invisible tears shining brightly for Mary Margaret to see. And as she watched Emma disappear, her own tear trickled down her cheek.
1 2 D A Y S O F S N O W F A L L
Mary Margaret made three mistakes when she left her house.
1st: she left with a cluttered mind
2nd: she forgot her scarf at home
3rd: she took a left turn instead of a right at the third stop sign
The third was no doubt a consequence of the first two, and was far worse too, though this point could be called into contention when the snow began to fall on her tear-stained faced. But we're jumping ahead.
She did not realize her mistake until it was too late, and far before that, her mind was too full of thoughts of Emma and Graham and past lives and animal shelters and Christmas and a certain married someone to recognize her fatal error.
A giving person by nature—Emma hadn't been wrong in that—she knew that the most important thing to do this year was to find a way to make Emma forget. She wished she could make herself forget too, but if repression was the best she could muster, she would take it so long as Emma could find closure in her own heart.
The voice that called out to her was cringingly familiar and finally awakened her to her wrongly chosen direction. Her head instinctively wanted to raise, to greet those hazel eyes, but she kept it down and quickened her pace, hopeful he would let her walk.
"Mary Margaret!" More persistent than before, footsteps followed this louder cry. "Mary Margaret!"
Unable to ignore the pleas, she glanced to her left, her body trembling in the cold, though the cold was not the reason for her sudden shivering. "David."
Desperate to keep her voice nonchalant, she could hear the shaking in her voice as she uttered the single word, her eyes drinking in the sight of the once coma patient in a navy blue jacket, and matching argyle hat, scarf and mitts. His face was red as if he'd been standing outside for a long time, a shovel clenched in his mitted hand.
"I've been hoping to see you," he breathed, a cloud of breath flying from his lips.
"Have you?" She frowned darkly, glancing around. "Where's Kathryn?"
David's beaming expression slipped slightly. "She's inside making hot cocoa."
"Right." For a second, she wondered if he too required an extra dose of cinnamon on top to make the drink complete. She daren't ask. "Well, it was nice seeing you." Prepared to move on, she hesitated as his voice rang out again.
"Mary Margaret, wait!" Rushing forward, his hands fell upon the fence, as if to take them over with a single bound. "Can we…can we talk?"
"About what, David?" She feigned innocence as she turned to stare back at him. His eyes were glittering with something akin to regret and apology. She did not want to face any more apologies. She didn't want him to be sorry for choosing to stay faithful. She didn't want to hate him for having led her on. She didn't want to hate herself for having wanted him to leave. She didn't want any of it. Yet, it was all there.
"I just wanted to tell you how sorry I am. I feel terrible for what I did, and I know it'll be hard to forgive me, but if you can…I would love to be friends. You mean so much to me." The last part came out rushed, trying to beat her to the interjection he knew would come.
She paused before replying to his foray of words. Each sentence rang out in her mind, clawing her mind like sharp talons of an eagle. "Do you think you mean that much to me?" Her voice was coarse and cold. "Do you think I've fallen apart because you chose your wife?"
"I…" His eyes were wide with surprise at her rebuttal. He had not expected such hostility. "No…I just thought…if you felt like…no, feel like I…"
Another voice rang out, one sharply female and concerned.
Glancing past David, Mary Margaret took in the sight of Kathryn Nolan, her heart tightening in such aching pain. A kind woman; a gentle woman; how could she wish her harm?
"Mary Margaret?" Having just seen the other woman standing beyond her fence, Kathryn's eyebrows raised in suspicion. "It's been a long time. How are you?"
"Fine, thank you. I was just passing by. Your decorations are beautiful." She had not really taken the time to appreciate the lights coursing through the thick branches of their evergreen, or the Santa Claus atop the roof, but the tiny gesture managed to bring a genuine smile to Kathryn's face.
"David's been working hard. It's been a while since this place has been decorated…" A glean of sorrow entered her pale eyes as she remembered years believing that David would never return.
The pain in Mary Margaret's chest grew. "Well, I'll be off then."
She hurried off then, not bothering to pay attention to David's last attempt to gain her pardon. This could not happen again. She would leave the Nolans to their lives and get on with her own.
Above her, the clouds thickened and darkened with the weight of snow. Too heavy, they released the white flakes to the earth, allowing the thick fluffs to descend with great strength and agility.
Alone on her way, Mary Margaret's tears froze to her face, crystalizing in the chill of the rather gloomy winter day.
AN: So, what do you think? Reviews are most welcomed. I consider them Christmas gifts this time of year, and I know they will inspire joy, happiness and creativity in my life. Next chapter: Snow and Charming prepare to celebrate their first Christmas together.