Red Swan (Red/Emma)
SUMMARY: FTL. In which Emma finds her heart and vows to never let go.
DISCLAIMER: I do not own Once Upon a Time or its characters. I do not own 'I Hope You Find It – by Miley Cyrus'. I am not making a profit from this story. In fact, if you recognize it… I probably don't own it. Actually, I'm kind of happy I don't own it; I had a hard enough time keeping my fish alive.
A week had passed, yet there was still no sign of her daughter. Only going inside to sleep, and even that was only after she got Grumpy to stand guard for her while she got the barest minimum of shut-eye, Snow stood vigil alone at the gates to the castle. At first James had stood with her, but he was soon called inside to deal with different matters of state. This left Snow to venture out alone every day, and when James would ask, like he did every morning, why she couldn't wait inside like the rest of them, Snow would give him a look and say it was maternal instinct that drove her. Then, every morning without fail, James would reply that it wasn't instinct that drove her but the same thing that drove their daughter; unadulterated stubbornness.
No matter what exactly drove her to wait out in the cold day after day for her wayward daughter, Snow knew it was the right decision as sure as she knew Emma would be back for Red. And so, when Emma finally rode up on the eighth day, clothes a mess and tears in her eyes, Snow silently thanked her resolve. Watching as her baby stumbled from her heaving horse, a croaked 'mum' escaping her lips, Snow snapped into action, rushing forward and enveloping her little girl in a hug full of motherly concern.
Snow rubbed Emma's back as the blond pressed closer, mumbling over and over in her neck that she was sorry. "Shh, love." Snow whispered, once Emma calmed down a bit. "It's okay now. It's going to be alright." And Snow knew it would be alright, just like she knew Emma would need her at the gate.
Emma hiccupped once, twice, before pulling away slightly; reluctant to leave her mother's comforting arms yet also too far gone to stop now. "Red?"
"Gone to Granny's." Snow watched as Emma tried somewhat successfully to get her emotions under control, a watery resolve settling over her features. "Go, Em; she needs you as much as you need her."
Nodding sharply, Emma broke away from her mother and started marching back to her horse, only to stop as her mother called her name.
"Wait, here, take this." Snow ran up to Emma, unclipping a locket from around her neck.
"But isn't this…" Emma trailed off, confused, as Snow closed her fist around the locket.
"Yes," Snow smiled nostalgically, touching the spot where it had rested against her chest. "I feel it'll come to better use in your hands, than in mine."
Emma opened and closed her mouth, shocked, before nodding slowly. Stuffing the chain in her pocket, she whirled around only to be stopped once more by her mother.
"Wait, Emma!" Chuckling at her daughter's exasperated look, Snow stepped out of sight for a moment, only to come back holding the reins of a tall white stallion. "Take your father's horse; Knut is the fastest in the stables, and Biscuit needs a rest."
Thanking Snow once more, Emma quickly climbed up the large horse's back, feeling the power in his muscles as she kicked him into a run. Knut's long strides quickly ate up the ground, and it was only a few hours later that Emma saw Granny's cottage in the distance. Practically jumping off of the panting yet immensely proud horse, Emma stumbled over to the door. Raising her hand to knock, the door suddenly surprised her by swinging open, its well-oiled hinges making nary a sound. Emma didn't even have time to squeak before a soft yet firm object connected solidly with her head, sending her tumbling to the ground.
"You!" Granny muttered, vexed, before lowering the pillow to her side yet clenching it all the harder. "You're the reason my baby was hurt! You have some nerve, showing up around here; princess or no!"
Emma opened her mouth to speak, yet couldn't get a word in edgewise as the older woman continued her rant.
"I have raised that girl all her life, and let me tell you I have never seen her that broken hearted; not when she found out she was the wolf, nor when she realized she was the one to kill that wastrel Peter!" Granny paced back in for in front of the doorway. "The girl locked herself in her room for two days, refusing to come out even for food. Then, when she finally did venture out, even the smallest things made her burst into tears. I found her one evening sobbing into a gods-be-damned wooden spoon because the crack in it looked like a lemur!"
Granny stopped abruptly, breathing hard, before whirling towards the younger girl. "Well? What do you have to say for yourself?" Granny finally took a moment to actually look at the blonde, and was taken aback.
Emma still lay sprawled in the dirt, her usually golden hair gnarled and a dusty brown color, her eyes red and puffy. Her clothes were riddled with tiny holes and she was covered in a thick layer of mud from the waist down. Growling slightly under her breath, Granny harrumphed, yanking the choked up woman back to her feet.
"Now see here, princess," Granny threatened, eyes narrowed. "If you ever break my baby's heart again, I will break out my crossbow and turn you into a pincushion so fast you wouldn't have time to say 'dwarf'. Got it?"
Emma nodded dumbly, still unable to speak yet adamant that she would never knowingly cause Red pain ever again.
"Well, what are you waiting for girl?" Granny scowled, moments later. "I sent her into town a few hours ago. Go! And don't come back until my baby is in one piece again!"
Emma didn't need to be told twice, and was in such a hurry she forgot her horse in the middle of the lawn.
Granny grumbled under her breath, grabbing the large horse's reins and leading him into the small barn. "Damn kids." Knut sneezed in agreement.
Emma rushed through the woods in the general direction of town, breath coming in pants as she exerted her exhausted body. Reaching the crest of a small hill, Emma sees a flash of red out of the corner of her eye. Barrelling down the small incline, Emma practically tackled the distracted girl, causing them to both hit the ground in a roll, Red's basket flying through the air.
Red gasped as she came to a stop, gazing at the form on top of her in astonishment. Once again Emma found the dam breaking as she buried her head in Red's neck this time, mumbling choked apologies in between frantic gasps of the other girl's comforting scent. At first too astonished to react, Red's eyes soon filled with tears as well, never having seen the other girl this emotional.
In fact, in all the time she had known Emma, Red had never seen the blond cry; not even once. It was this fact, coupled with Emma's uncontrollable sobbing, that convinced Red that Emma was telling the truth. Blinking through her own tears, Red pried the shorter girl's face from her neck despite her protests, before connecting their lips in a frantic, salty kiss.
Emma gasped into the kiss, trying to bring herself impossibly closer to the brunette as their teeth and tongues dueled frantically; the kiss bruising in its intensity. As Red parted reluctantly for air, Emma made a sobbing sound of displeasure before connecting their lips once more; this kiss being noticeably softer, more emotional.
This time being the one to pull away, Emma gazed down at the watery eyes beneath her own, tears still streaming down their faces, before something green caught her eye. Spotting the beaten artichoke on the ground next to the basket, Emma couldn't help the gasp that escaped her, nor the renewed deluge of tears. "I'm s-so sor-rr-ry I bruised your h-heart."
An almost hysterical laugh escaped Red, the chuckle turning into a choked sob at the last minute as she shook her head. "I know."
"I'm s-so s-sorry!" Emma hiccupped, again.
"I know." Red reiterated.
As Emma finally calmed down again, Red blinked the moisture away once more, hesitantly raised her shaking hand to cup Emma's cheek. "You're real, right? This isn't a dream?" Her voice was so pitifully soft that Emma's heart clenched in pain, another sob being wrenched from her lips as she leaned into the touch.
"I got your letter," Emma whispered as a thumb gently wiped away her tears.
"I was so afraid…" Red trailed off, averting her eyes. "I didn't think I'd ever see you again, because I-I, even though I wrote those words I'm just-it would have been too painful if you-"
Emma cut off Red's broken-hearted ramblings with another kiss, this one long and slow and full of promise. As they broke apart, and Red finally smiled up at her with that cute little half grin Emma adored, she finally noticed they were still sprawled out in the middle of the road. About to stand up and apologise for using the other woman as a pillow, Emma was yanked back down as Red curled up around her, uncaring that they were on the ground.
The two of them lay cuddled there in the dirt, each reaching out for the other every once in a while to make sure the other was real. It wasn't until the both of them had exhausted their tears did Emma shift once more. Reaching into her pocket, Emma grasped the locket her mother had given her.
"Move in with me." Red turned her head, startled, only to meet Emma's puffy but serious gaze.
"Are you sure-" Red started, aware of the older girl's need for space, only to be cut off.
"Move in with me. Please." Emma looked pleadingly into hazel eyes. "You. And Granny can come too; the castle is big enough."
"Okay," Red said quietly after a moment, not even having to think about it.
"And even though she's kind of intense and threatened me with a crossbow, I can't stand the thought of not seeing you for-wait, what?" Emma blinked, stopping mid-rant.
"Okay," Red said again, smiling.
"Okay?" Emma grinned.
"Yes." Red made a contented noise as Emma gave her another drawn out kiss, before pulling back.
Biting her lip now that the easy part was done, Emma gazed down into slightly confused orbs as she pulled the locket out of her pocket and handed it to Red.
"Emma, it's beautiful," Red gasped as she took in the pink gold heart-shaped locket, running her thumb over the twin swans on the cover.
"Sn-, my mum gave it to me. Apparently Granddad gave it to Grandmum on their wedding day, only to keep it close to his heart when she passed away. When he died, Mum inherited it." Emma explained, shyly.
"Emma I, I can't take this," Ruby gasped trying to give it back to the blond, but the princess stubbornly refused to receive it.
"No, please. Keep it." Emma implored, causing Ruby to hesitantly concede with a nod. Glancing away, Emma opened her mouth, only to close it again. Chewing on her lip, she glanced at the locket, before steeling herself. "Look at the back."
Red looked at Emma curiously, before flipping the locket over, her fingers tracing the delicately carved words as she mouth them aloud. "With this I vow."
Gathering her nerve, Emma blurted out the words in a rush; the words that had been fighting to come out for so long. "I love. You. I love you." And as she said them, Emma was relieved; relieved the world didn't come tumbling down around her, relieved her chest felt lighter, and relieved that she was finally able to put what she felt for the taller girl into words.
Relieved that Red, with another choked sob, crushed their lips together once more; all the while mumbling the same thing over and over again.
I love you too.
A/N:… I've got to stop listening to sappy songs when I'm overtired.