Two Households Of Dignity
Chapter 5: And It's Peaceful In The Deep
I still haven't spoken. Her confession leaves me speechless. I watch her for a moment, alone in my own world. She is raw in front of me; hands still in her back pockets, shoulders raised with apprehension.
She is waiting for me to respond.
How to I respond to that kind of confession?
"Do you want to go for a walk?" Walking the only comfort I know to offer.
Her anxiety visibly leaves her at my offer and I know I've said done right. She smiles and takes her hands out of her pockets. "That sounds perfect."
For the first time since I've seen her today, I feel a smile on my face.
"Great," I say. I turn back to my Father, who looks impressed. He smiles to me encouragingly as I turn away to wave to Jiminy. "See you soon," I say to them and point out of the garage. "Let's go."
She follows my finger and turns right. I follow her. When she turns the corner away from my Father's sight I catch up with her.
She looks at me when I reach her side, but quickly looks ahead of her. "Where are we going?"
I point to the hill ahead of us. "Just up there. It's a nice little hike."
"Okay" is all she says.
We walk in silence until we reach the bottom of the hill and the trailhead. We look at each other; both asking silently if the other is ready to go.
She steps in front of me and walks until she loses herself in the shades of the tress.
"So," I wonder how I should start the conversation. "Where's Henry?"
She takes a deep breath. "He's with my parents."
I smile at her. "That was hard for you to say."
She shoots me an annoyed look. "Don't get me started."
I can't help letting out a small laugh, which annoys her even further. "Oh, come on! It can't be that bad."
"You have no idea," she starts. "I woke up to both of them watching me sleep this morning."
I try to hide my smile knowing I suggested the idea to her father last night.
"They're just trying to make up for lost time. I'm sure they just wanted to memorize every detail of their daughter's face."
She stops at my words and puts her flat palms out in front of her at me. "Okay. Here are my three rules."
I try really hard not to laugh at her frustration. "There are rules?" I ask, mocking her a little.
"Never, ever defend my parents to me. You are my protector, not theirs."
She is possessive of me? That's new. I don't know if that's what our savior-protector relationship is supposed to be, but I kind of like it.
"I don't think being your protector includes siding with you. If anything shouldn't I be helping you have a better relationship with them?"
Which I'm not really doing anyway by hanging out with her against her father's wishes.
She ignores me and raises her voice. "Rule Number Two." The expression on her face is hilarious. She is trying to sound serious, but clearly knows her rules are a little bit ridiculous. "Do not call me Your Highness, Your Royal Highness, Princess or anything relating to that form of title."
I look at her face and laugh. "How many people have said that to you today?"
"Too many," she says quickly and I can tell she doesn't want to elaborate. "Rule Number Three." Her feet are firm on the ground and I can tell now her rules are actually important to her. "We, the two of us, are not going to talk about our past; not our past in Storybrooke or anything that happened to us before we arrived here. Understood?"
The last rule is interesting. My bet is we can't go two days without our past coming up. For now, though, I like it.
"It'll be like nothing important ever happened between us," I say in my mocking voice. "We'll be strangers who know each other very well."
She narrows her eyebrows at me. She is so cute when she frustrated. "Rule Number Four." She makes up on the spot. "No mocking Princess Emma."
"Oh-oh!" I let out. "So you're allowed to call yourself Princess and I'm not? I don't think that's going to work. We wouldn't want your ego to inflate too much, then you'll lose some of your savior charm."
She opens her mouth, crosses her arms, and shakes her head back and forth. "You just broke rules two, three, and four." She walks ahead of me. "I don't think we can be friends anymore."
I wait for her to realize I'm not walking behind her. While I'm waiting, I marvel at the way she can become frustrated and how adorable it is.
She turns around after a minute. "Aren't you coming?"
"I thought you just said we weren't friends anymore."
"Friends or not friends, I still need my protector."
I run to catch up with her. "Oh, so now I'm not your friend, just your protector?"
She nods. "Right now you are."
"You have to protect me from these big scary woods."
"No, I'm just here so you can have someone to lash out on."
Her expression turns serious for a moment. She's not sure if I am poking fun at her or not.
I finally laugh a little and she understands my intentions. She lightly pushes me off to the side of the trail.
As I come back to her, I see her smiling. Her friendly push is her payback. When I walk next to her, everything is perfect.
We walk up the rest of the trail in silence. Our silence is not because anything is awkward or because we have nothing to say to each other or because I'm afraid of breaking her rules – which obviously I'm not.
I keep her request for silence when I understand why she came to me in the first place. She needed some rest, needed some fun, and needed some understanding. I look at her face again as we walk and understand the most important thing she needs: peace.
So, that's what I give her for the rest of our walk. Besides a little conversation here and there, we make it up and down the trail in silence.
And it's nice.
As we're coming down the trail, I notice her physical appearance has changed. It's not obvious, but I can tell she feels better. Her hands casually by her side, her shoulders lowered from less stress, and her worried creases in her face have disappeared.
My heart fills when realize I helped cause a positive change in her.
Towards the end of the trail, I see Prince Thomas and Princess Cinderella entering with their baby. I think her name is Alexandra, but I'm not sure.
They stop in their tracks when they see the savior. I can see some of the stress reenter her body as they bust into thanks and tell her how much she looks like her parents.
Princess Cinderella is still gushing over how much the savior reminds her of her best friend, when the savior looks back at me for help.
My hearts skips a beat.
I put my hands on her shoulders as I say, "Excuse me, I am so sorry to interrupt." Princess Cinderella and her husband look up at me. "But I promised I'd return Emma to her parents before dinner, and," I look at my watch for show. "Look, it's almost five o'clock. We'd better get going."
The royal couple looks at me like I'm out of place.
"Who are you, again?" Princess Cinderella asks, confused.
"I'm August," I answer instinctually.
She still looks puzzled. Prince Thomas reads her thoughts and asks, "And why aren't you calling her Princess Emma?"
I make eye contact with the savior for a spilt second. She is torn between being really annoyed and laughing her head off.
"Because she asked me not to." I finally can answer a question honestly.
"Honey," Princess Cinderella says. She picks up the savior's hands in hers, clearly making her even more uncomfortable. "Only close friends and family can ignore your title. The rest should give you respect."
"He is a close friend," the savior defends me.
"Oh. Really?" Prince Thomas asks, trying to understand our connection.
"Really," she confirms with a fake, annoyed smile. "And, like he said, we do need to get going."
"Of course!" Princess Cinderella lets go of the savior's hands. "We don't want to take up anymore of your time." We start to walk out of the trail, when we hear Princess Cinderella running towards us. She reaches for one of the savior's hands again. "Thank you again. Thank you so much."
There is no response and the princess runs back to her family after one more friendly smile.
When she is gone, the savior lets out the laugh she's been holding in for the entire conversation.
"Oh. My. God." She adds between laughs.
I smile as I watch her.
"I see what you mean. That would get annoying."
She reaches for my forearm, we make eye contact, and she stops laughing.
"Thank you," she says seriously but sweetly.
I didn't actually help her or make the situation less awkward. I tried, though.
"For lying for me."
Oh. She noticed.
"Yes, I shouldn't do that anymore, should I?"
"No, I actually like when you lie for me," she informs me. "Just don't lie to me."
I watch her as she says this. Once again, she is so raw, so beautiful, and so honest.
I have to turn away from her. Staring at her fervent face, begging me to give her an answer, is killing me.
"Come on," she says playfully. I know she's smiling even though I can't see it. She reaches for my arm and gently pulls me to face her. "It's not like you're that good a liar anyways."
"That's what you think," I tell her casually. "I'm actually a pretty good liar when I want to be."
She rolls her eyes at me. While it's cute, I'm surprised she doesn't believe me.
"Sure." The savior pulls me forward.
"Where are we going?"
She stops. I realize she has no idea where we're going.
"Actually," her voice loses its energy. "I should get back."
"Ok," I respond, hoping to hid my disappointment.
"Thanks for helping me clear my head."
I smile, "That's what I'm here for."
I think about my words. Is that actually what I'm here for? Is that my role as her protector? Should I be protecting her from emotional hurts as well as physical ones?
That's what I've been doing. For the first time I question what our relationship means. I don't know if I want her to come to me when she just needs to avoid something or clear her head: Not if that's the only reason she's coming to me.
"No, seriously." She puts her hand on my shoulder and raises her head to kiss my check. When I recover and open my eyes, she's looking at me sweetly. "Thank you."
And then she walks away.
I can't go back to my Father's house until she disappears out of sight. Her straight hair is the last thing I see when she turns a corner in the opposite direction of my Father's house.
I spend the rest of the late afternoon with my Father and Jiminy. We share some cider in his garage as he starts a new wooden project. He won't tell us what it will be, but I know it will be great. I'm excited to see it when it's done.
I do actual work for him as he creates another wooden masterpiece. I fill paperwork, collect receipts, and clean parts of his garage where he isn't working.
I feel good after a day like today. Being unselfish has its benefits after all.
The three us go to dinner at Granny's. Jiminy and I decide to take my Father out after he has worked all day. Jiminy points out we've all worked hard for a couple hours and we should all order milkshakes and I can't say no.
Today would have been the perfect day if we had left five minutes eariler. As Jiminy and I are paying the check, I look up when I hear Granny's bell ring, signaling the door's opening and see the savior storming towards me.
"Tell me it's not true," she demands angrily and puts her palms flat on the table.
I am totally confused.
"What's not true, Emma?" I say calmly, trying not to attract any more attention to us. "What are you talking about?"
I look at her face and know I'm in trouble before she opens her mouth.
"Tell me you didn't take my mother's place in the wardrobe."
A/N: See? I listen to my readers! Thanks for your spirited responses. I hope you enjoyed the chapter.