*I own nothing. *
It had been weeks since that day. Duke Hammond had taken two hours to convince that she was sincere in her desires, and to get him to accept the crown as rightfully his. William was harder. He proposed, like she thought he would, but even if she wanted to she could not accept. He needed to be available for alliances if needed. She knew in her heart that a woman would come along and make him happy, fill the missing piece in his heart that he has unsuccessfully tried to stuff her into. He was a good man; he would cherish his bride and be a warm, but stern father.
During the next few weeks the huntsman periodically showed up and wreaked havoc on her composure. He knew what he was doing, she was sure of that. He always wore a knowing smile, yet his eyes were still closed off from her. Her insides twisted and she struggled with the idea of speaking plainly to him about her feelings, and his.
After his father's coronation William helped her find a place to live. They found a small cottage, close to town but not quite in town. She was near the forests edge and loved hearing the fairy music at night. There was a small care takers home next to the cottage and she hired her chambermaid and moved her family into the little home. Her name was Ida, and her husband Benjin taught Snow how to keep chickens in line and what to plant when. She enjoyed helping him in the garden and with the animals and although she did most everything herself it was nice to have them around. She traveled into town often, bringing soup and bread that Ida made and blankets to the orphans and elderly.
Snow saw Eric often. He rented a room in town and would come by her home most nights after dinner. They would sit in the grass talking and watching the fairy's dancing in the forest near her home. Some nights he held her hand, some nights he kissed her as he was leaving. Most nights, though, they just sat and talked. Tension was building, but there was no release.
One spring day, Ida and Benjin had gone to Glaser to visit Ida's sisters and Snow was home alone. She was making bread, following Ida's directions precisely, and had been waiting for the loaf to rise when she heard a thump and grunt at the front door.
Snow felt her heart drop and ran to the door, finding Eric wiping away blood from his brow with a large dead turkey in his hands. He jumped at the sight of her and stepped back toward his horse.
"I didn't think you were home. Ida…"
She reached forward and grabbed the turkey from his arm and motioned for him to come inside.
"I'll hang this out back, are you selling it? You'd get a good price. Sit in one of the chairs in the kitchen; I'll get some bandages to clean you up."
She quickly returned with a small basin of water and some bandages and salve. First cleaning the wound she rolled her eyes when he hissed in pain.
He nodded slightly and sighed. After cleaning the blood off his head the bleeding stopped and she lightly smoothed on the salve. Through this whole process she hadn't looked in his eyes, she was afraid to. Focused intently on the wound near his hairline she nearly jumped out of her skin when his deep voice penetrated her thoughts.
"Are you comfortable with me, Snow?"
Her hands froze for a moment and then, realizing she was done bandaging him, washed her hands in the basin while answering him.
"Yes, of course. Why wouldn't I be? I love you."
Stopping frozen with the water dripping from her hands, Snow willed the words back into her mouth. She slowly looked over to where he was sitting at the table. He stared at her intently, almost daring her to take it back. She slowly dried her hands off on her apron and took it off. She heard him stand behind her and soon felt his rough hands turning her shoulders. She looked up into his eyes, which were full of vulnerability and something else, something she couldn't quite place.
"Say it again."
Without a full seconds passing, she did feeling her heart lift and bloom as she looked into his eyes.
"I love you, huntsman."
"And I love you."
His lips crashed down on hers suddenly and she felt herself being backed up into the wall. She put one hand in his hair and another on his hip as she poured all of the tension of the last few weeks into that kiss. When they parted for air his forehead rested heavy on hers and his breath was warm on her face. Snow felt her lips turn up in a smile and a bubble of happiness rise up within her. She had been so worried about how to bring up her feeling to him, if she was even going to tell him at all. It seemed that she couldn't keep in her love for him if she tried. Eric pulled away and looked curiously at her face. After a moment a smile played on his lips and he lightly kissed her again.
"Thank you" He said when they parted for the second time.
"It doesn't seem I can help it..." She said with a slight giggle.
He brushed her hair back from her face and looked at her serenely and just as he began to lean in for another kiss the sound of banging came from her front door, soon followed by the sound of children's voices. Eric looked at her questioningly and kissed her lightly on the head before she could escape his embrace.
"I promised them bread…and there's a stew on the fire for them as well…"
She looked at him apologetically as he rubbed his face.
"Ms. Princess! Ms. Snow! I can smell your stew in there!"
"Please don't leave" she whispered as she took hold of his hands.
He gave her a quick passionate kiss that left her flushed and out of breath and began to stride towards the door.
"I would never leave you alone with barbarians such as this!"
"We aint barbarians Mr. Huntsman! We'll behave!" Were the cries from behind the door.
Snow chuckled as she put the risen bread into the oven and pulled out bowls and spoons for the children. She was struck for a moment when she saw Eric carrying little One-Leg-Jon over to the table and setting him down. This man who she loved so much she couldn't help but let the words fall from her tongue. He looked at her for a moment and gave her a sly wink, making her blush again.
At the end of the night, after they had eaten the turkey and bread with honey, Snow sighed and leaned back into Eric's arms. There were a few children who would stay with her when Ida was gone. There was Kate and Robert, who had an elderly aunt they lived with who was blind and bedridden. Then Two-Legs-Jon, Jamie and Amy who lived on the street most of the time. Eric had pulled out two of her fine mattresses that William had insisted on and laid them on the front room floor for the children to sleep on. They were a beautiful pile of quilts, pillows and soft hair and her heart constricted a little at the sight of them. Eric rubbed his lips along her temple and squeezed his arms around her a little tighter.
"I can't believe they keep coming back here, especially since you force them into those baths when they stay the night."
She smiled and leaned a little more into his chest.
"It makes them feel special, no matter how much they grumble. They actually like it; I always catch Robert trying to smell his hair."
He sighed heavily and kissed the top of her head before tucking it under his chin.
"We've not even been to bed and already we have five children…"
Snow giggled and sighed, knowing full well he was right.
*Thanks for reading guys! I really enjoyed writing this!*