Disclaimer: I do not own any portion of this show.

Author's Note: This story was something that popped into my head after episode 7 and refused to leave until I wrote it down. It's a month late and I'm still not completely satisfied with it, but here it is anyway. The title is the name of a song by Thriving Ivory (one of my favorite bands) that I think captures some of what Emma might be feeling after Graham's death. Please listen to it. Enjoy!


Flowers for a Ghost

Emma makes it nine days after Graham's funeral before she finds herself back in the cemetery staring down at his grave. She didn't really mean to come. In fact she's been trying to stay as far away as possible, almost as if pretending that there isn't a fresh headstone there with his name on it will somehow increase the chances of him walking through the door of his office with a box of doughnuts and another lame joke that Emma already knows the punchline to because she heard it in a bar a year ago. But Regina showed up today just as Emma was locking up and made some snide remark, and by the time the mayor finally left because the two of them had extinguished their arsenal of verbal bullets Emma was so angry that she just started walking and didn't stop. The next thing she knows she's halfway across town staring at Graham's grave.

"Hey," she says awkwardly, stuffing her hands into her pockets. She doesn't really know what she's supposed to say or do in this situation. Before Graham's she had only been to one funeral in her entire life, and that was for some obscure relative of a foster family that she stayed with for a month when she was twelve, so it hardly even counts.

She stands there for a long moment, allowing herself to stop moving and just be for a minute. It's quiet out here. Really and truly quiet. The wind is blowing through the trees nearby. Graham would have liked knowing he was near the trees.

Emma reaches down to her belt and fingers the deputy's badge that hangs there. If she's perfectly honest with herself she isn't even sure why she accepted it in the first place. She wants to tell herself she did it just to spite Regina, if only because it's easier than the truth. She did it because she wanted to prove to herself that she can do something right for once. She wanted to be here for Henry, to be the hero he thinks she is. But deep down she knows the biggest reason was simply because there was just something about those brown eyes and that stupid humor that she couldn't resist.

Graham picked me to be deputy.

And damn him for doing it. If it hadn't been for that stupid deputy's badge she wouldn't be standing here right now. She wouldn't have been there the night he died. Hell, she probably wouldn't even notice that he's gone. But he offered her the job and for some insane reason she decided to take it. And now she's standing at his grave wearing the symbol of a profession that this town really doesn't even need. Why? Because this job is all she has left of him. Because sitting in his office, driving his police car, drinking his crappy coffee, and wearing the badge he gave her is as close as she can get to being with him.

"I guess I shoulda brought you flowers," she says awkwardly. "I'm not very good at this yet." She shakes her head, a hint of a smile on her face. "Hell, who am I kidding? I suck at this."

She looks down, digging at the dirt with the toe of her right shoe. When she looks up again her eyes are wet. She sniffs loudly, pushing back the emotions.

"I wish you were here," she admits suddenly, her voice hoarse.

Almost immediately she shakes her head.

"The hell am I thinking?" Letting out a long breath she reaches up and rubs her eyes with the heels of her hands. She lets out a small humorless laugh. "Talking to a piece of rock."

Movement on the right catches her eye. She looks up and immediately freezes. Less than fifteen yards away is a wolf. And it's staring right at her.

For a moment neither of them moves. Then the creature blinks and suddenly Emma realizes that its eyes are different colors. She's seen this wolf before. This is the wolf she and Graham were following. Somehow that eases her mind and the fear fades. It shouldn't, but for some reason it does.

The wolf moves forward and Emma stands perfectly still. She knows some part of her should be worried, knows she should be running away. But for some reason she isn't. The wolf comes to stand directly beside her and turns to look at the grave. Then it looks up at Emma, almost as though it's waiting for something.

"If you're looking for Graham, he's not here," she says. Then she rolls her eyes and throws up her hands in exasperation. "Great. Now I'm talking to animals too."

The wolf moves forward and nudges her hand with his wet nose. Emma looks down at it, trying to decide what to do. She's always had a soft spot for dogs. Mostly because it only takes a little bit of food and petting to earn their eternal love, something that seems to require an infinite amount of work with humans and even then is never completely certain. Even then it disappears the minute someone else comes along with a better offering. But dogs... Dogs understand loyalty.

Almost without thinking Emma moves her hand and begins to scratch behind the wolf's ear. The creature stands very still for a moment, letting her do it. Then he throws his head back and howls. Emma jumps a bit at the sound. But when the wolf finally lowers his head she nods in understanding.

"I miss him too," she says softly. She lets out a long breath and then turns and begins walking back. The sun is sinking and Mary Margaret will worry if she isn't back by dark.

A soft sound makes Emma look back over her shoulder. The wolf is following her.

"What?" Emma asks. The wolf stops and just stands there, looking at her. Emma takes a few steps and then turns back around. The wolf is the exact same distance from her that he was a minute ago.

"Don't you have somewhere to go?" Emma asks. The wolf tilts his head but makes no move to go anywhere. She takes a few more steps and gets the exact same result.

"Oh come on!" Emma says in exasperation. "This is ridiculous. Are you seriously planning on coming home with me?" The wolf takes another step forward and she immediately shakes her head. "No! You are not coming."

When the wolf doesn't move Emma bends down and picks up a rock and throws it. It doesn't go anywhere near the wolf, and if Emma was completely honest with herself she'd realize she really didn't want it to.

"Go on!" she yells. "Get out of here." Instead the wolf comes a few steps closer. Emma throws up her arms in exasperation. "Alright. You know what? Fine. Follow me. But there is no way in hell Mare is letting you in that apartment."

She turns around and starts walking. After a few yards she glances over her shoulder. The wolf is still following her. Emma shakes her head in surrender.

Mary Margaret is going to love this.

... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...

Mary Margaret is in the middle of her new book when she hears a key in the lock signaling that Emma has returned. The door opens and she hears Emma come in. She looks up to ask her how her day went. Then she sees something behind Emma. A white wolf.

"Emma!" she cries, jumping to her feet. Her face is white and her eyes are wide.

"It's okay!" Emma says quickly, holding up her hands.

"It's a... a..." Mary Margaret is too shocked to even get the words out.

"It's okay," Emma repeats. "He's a friend of Graham's."

"Excuse me?" Mary Margaret says, not understanding.

"Graham knew him," Emma explains hurriedly. She's still standing between Mary Margaret and the wolf with her hands up. "He found me in the cemetery and followed me home."

Mary Margaret can't decide which is stranger: that a wolf followed Emma home or that she willingly went to see Graham's grave.

"He won't bite," Emma assures her. A small frown creases her forehead and she looks down at the wolf. "I think."

"What in the world is it doing here?" Mary Margaret asks, still shocked.

"I think he wants to stay," Emma says lamely. "With me."

Mary Margaret stares at her in shock as the words sink in.

"You're serious, aren't you?" she says. Emma shrugs and Mary Margaret shakes her head emphatically. "Oh no. That thing is not staying here."

"Why not?" Emma asks, a small whine in her voice. "Just think of him as a big dog."

"My contract says very clearly that there will be no pets in this apartment other than fish," Mary Margaret says firmly. Her worried eyes keep flitting to the wolf behind Emma. "And that is clearly not a fish."

"What the landlady doesn't know won't hurt her," Emma begs.

"It could kill us both!"

"It won't," Emma insists. The wolf steps forward and Mary Margaret backs up into the couch, almost tripping over it. Emma, however, reaches down and tangles her fingers in his fur.

"And how do you know that?"

"I just... know."

Somehow those words silence the protests about to leave Mary Margaret's lips. She's shocked to find that she feels the same way. She should be terrified by the prospect of a wild carnivore in her apartment, and yet somehow she just knows that it won't hurt her. Suddenly the wolf seems familiar somehow. Almost as if she's seen him before...

She looks up at her housemate and realizes there's something different about Emma now, something calmer. It's almost as if she's finally found one of the pieces of herself that she lost the day Graham died. As Mary Margaret looks at her she suddenly sees a combination of a lonely child begging to be allowed to keep her new friend and a heartbroken young woman trying desperately to hold on to what little she has left of the man she loved. Mary Margaret's heart melts and she knows she couldn't say no even if she had to.

"Fine," she says, giving in. Emma smiles a little and she hurries on. "But only for tonight. Tomorrow he's gone."

"Thanks Mare," Emma says sincerely.

She heads up the stairs and the wolf follows her. Mary Margaret stares after them in amazement. Then she shakes her head, wondering what on earth she has just gotten herself into.

... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...

Of course, any good parent knows that nine times out of ten a stray animal allowed to stay for one night ends up staying for good. Emma's wolf turns out to be no exception.

He leaves the next morning, but he shows back up again after Emma gets elected sheriff. Eventually it turns into a sort of routine. He'll show up for a few days, sleeping in Emma's room and following her around town, and then no one will see him for a while. Eventually Mary Margaret just gets used to opening the apartment door and finding him sitting outside, waiting. She also gets used to fabreezing Emma's room before the landlady drops by. She doesn't really mind in the end. Emma is slowly putting herself back together, and between the wolf and Graham's badge she seems stronger and more confident.

The people of Storybrooke also get used to seeing the wolf by Emma's side. After all, every good law enforcement officer needs a dog. He's even allowed in the diner. He followed Emma in one day when she went to get some coffee, and despite the initial horrified reactions of the customers Ruby immediately fell in love. She bought some dishes just for him, and now whenever he shows up she gives him some cold water and a bowl of scraps. She's also the one to finally name him: Ghost, after the white wolf in the Game of Thrones series. Personally Mary Margaret thinks the name sticks for a completely different reason.

Henry too is thrilled with the wolf's presence. He has always wanted a dog, and despite Emma's insistence that Ghost is not a pet, it takes less than a day before Henry has taught him how to play fetch. He and Ruby quickly strike up a friendship over Ghost, becoming something similar to co-conspirators. Ruby feeds the wolf and Henry plays with him. And Emma lets him sleep in her room.

Regina pitches a fit at the presence of the wolf, but the animal shelter refuses to take anything but dogs and responsibility for anything else falls to the sheriff. And seeing as the rest of the townspeople gradually stop caring as they slowly warm up to him, Regina finally gives up. Or maybe she backs off because Ghost growls and bares his teeth every time he sees her... That particular perk never fails to make Emma smile. In fact, Ghost in general seems to have a way of making Emma smile. She's more relaxed around him, almost as if a part of her wall comes down when he's beside her. Sometimes in the evenings he'll curl up beside Emma and she'll scratch his ear while she and Mary Margaret talk about their days. Emma's starting to open up more, and even if there was no other reason, Mary Margaret knows she would let Ghost stick around just for those precious moments when Emma lets her inside those walls.

... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...

Emma's been sheriff just over a month when Mary Margaret has to stay at school late one night for parent/teacher conferences. When those are over she and the fifth grade teacher go out for dinner, and by the time she gets back to the apartment it's fairly late. At least, late by Mary Margaret's standards. The first thing she notices upon entering the apartment is that Emma is nowhere in sight.

"Emma?" she calls, setting her bag down. Her housemate doesn't answer. Mary Margaret can't remember Emma saying anything about working late, so she climbs up the stairs toward the guestroom.

"Em?" she asks, carefully opening the door. What she sees inside the room makes her smile. Emma is curled up on the bed, fast asleep. She's wearing Graham's jacket, and her right arm is wrapped around Ghost, who is lying beside her. The wolf looks up briefly at Mary Margaret, and then lays his head back down on his paws.

"Good night," Mary Margaret whispers. She turns off the light, something an exhausted Emma apparently forgot to do, and quietly shuts the door. She'll have to remember to vacuum the comforter tomorrow before the landlady comes by. She really isn't supposed to have pets in the apartment. But if breaking a few rules here and there is what it takes to keep Emma sane... Well then, as the blonde would say, what the hell.

As Mary Margaret tiptoes back down the stairs to her own room she decides her housemate is right. What the landlady doesn't know what hurt her.

But just this once.


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