"gather up our hearts and go"

Genre: Angst, Romance
Rating: T
Time Frame: 1x07
Characters: Evil Queen/The Huntsman

Summary: It is a stain he does not yet know how to wash away.

Notes: Drabbly introspection that I had to get off my chest.

Disclaimer: Nothing is mine, but for the words.

"gather up our hearts and go"
by Mira_Jade

His brother wolf had a pelt as white as snow; as thick and pure as the winter sky above. Still, his muzzle was one that could be mired with the blood of the hunt, and later be clean of the fatal blow. The kills he took were those with honour. Following upon that same path, he rubbed copper and crimson away from his human hands – pink and smooth - until there was only dirt under his nails, a faint dullness to his blade to speak of his kills. His brother's mismatched eyes approved, and for a while he forgot that his prints were not those of a wolf in the wet parts of the ground. Later, as his years grew and gather, he took to wearing dark leathers in order to hide the stains of his hunts. Dark leathers and forest shadow and coarse stubble upon his chin in order to better swallow himself within the shaded parts of the woods.

She wears black for altogether different reasons. She cloaks herself in shadows, like the night, first out of mourning – for she had been queen and wife and mother, and now she was only widow and mother to a fatherless child. Queen to a kingdom left lost in the absence of light from its throne. She smiled more after her husband's death, her courtiers whispered, and her smiles were all teeth, sharp and bare until the points of them reflected in her eyes. The whispers reached the forest long before her call, and he learned the scent of her blood on the air even before she held his heart in her hands. When he did meet her – the pillars of her chambers like oak trees, ancient and storm strong - her eyes were a gaze that swallowed. They were never mirrors, but gaps. The spaces between stars. The punctuation marks of wishes.

She was a woman who wore a hunt in her eyes; a hatred in her heart.

He was a man with a hatred for humanity to match hers; and he was the hunt which so consumed her. When given his task, he did not think twice.

But the girl . . . the snow white child, she would be a smear he would never be able to wash clean. And so her blood did not spill upon the forest floor, not from his hand. All that white and fair skin . . . she never would have been able to come clean again. She was as pure as his brother wolf, and he would not see that fairness tainted.

And so, he let her run – run and run and run until the white slip of her was swallowed by the black parts of the forest. There was still a hunt to be had, and she would give the dark queen a mighty one, he knew. He dipped his fingers in deer blood for the girl, and gave her the head start she needed from the carrion queen.

At the memory, he could feel the Queen's nails play over his heart – dark and red things that were talons to anyone who knew how to spy a hunting animal. A wolf in sheep's skin. He winced at the sensation, but refused to hold a hand to his hollow chest. She noticed, of course she noticed - her eyes ever sharp for the sight of pain. As he recovered, she still held the beating organ with her right hand, her thumb passing in a caress where a major artery should have continued – should have attached to flesh and bone; and he felt the gesture as a balm. His chest ached. Beyond them, the moon wavered in time to the song of wolves below.

She was still holding his heart in her hand when she reached her left arm up around his neck. Always, she was shadow strong, and moonbeam winding - like ivy, all about him. And, he can't help but think as he bent down to meet her (she pressed nails into the skin upon the back of his neck until she drew blood – always force, putting him where she wanted him, and still he followed), that this too will stain.

It was a blemish he did not yet know how to wash away.