When I Find You, I'll Find Me,
Written by WickedSong.
Disclaimer/Note: In the first chapter. Well, remember how I said I was a big believer in happy endings? Here we go.
As the snow melts, so her mother's strength grows. Emma watches as she recovers from her near-death experience, and wishes to know nothing of how close she really came to losing her. While her mother recuperates her duties around the castle and the neighbouring villages increase. In Graham's absence she throws herself into her responsibilities and does so with the hope that one day she can be just as beloved by her mother and father.
People from all around their kingdom, and others, make the journey to the old derelict castle where Regina based her power. Emma sets out to make one atrocity right. So many people gratefully receive their hearts back from their princess and it's a sight that sometimes moves her to tears. Each time someone places their heart back into their chest, their eyes light up, their smile is contagious, they hug and kiss their loved ones who hold their heart through it all and Emma's thoughts do wander to Graham.
She's always wondering where he is, what he's doing. Sometimes, when she's out on a solitary ride with Philippe, she'll come across the clearing where they first met, and set down on foot. She'll walk over the ground a few times, taking herself back to the memories of that first meeting, and how far they have both come since then.
Winter makes way to the new nature of Spring, and Emma is delighted to see her mother fully recovered. A party is held to honour the Queen and the hopes of the new season. Prince Laurence arrives with his parents in tow and while Emma worries that he may intend to court her, she is instead surprised to find that the story of her and Graham has spread so far.
The neighbouring kingdoms had voiced their unbridled shock and disdain when Graham had been both declared alive, despite the multiple arrows delivered straight to his chest, and also cleared for his crimes against the crown. Coupled with the suspicious nature of Queen Snow's near death experience and Emma can see where such concerns come from.
But she fights the accusations. Messengers are sent back and forth between the kingdoms, stories are told and then finally her mother, at her ball, speaks of it. She tells the other nobility about her past with The Evil Queen. She openly admits what her late stepmother did, and why she did it. And then she clears Graham's name.
"And he is the man our daughter has chosen." Her wine goblet raised in the air, Snow nods to Emma.
Emma raises her own, her way of saying yes, of course she has.
She stills worries. She can feel him, somehow, in her heart. She knows that wherever he is he is okay. But a part of her wonders if one day she'll just not feel that. If one day it'll go still, and she'll know why.
She just wishes he'd come home soon.
He promised her, didn't he?
Summer is full of waiting. Days are long and nights are longer, filled with suspended sunlight and Emma grows adigated and frustrated with the lack of news regarding Graham. He's been gone for just over half a year now, and she knows he has a long journey ahead of him, but she wonders if she really can afford to just sit around and wait forever.
She isn't even really that annoyed with him, she just hates the not knowing. She loves him, but she wonders if it really is enough.
Maybe he senses her doubts, from as far away as he must be, for a message arrives one late summer night.
When her parents first call her to receive it, she is anxious. But she smiles when she opens it and finds she had no need to be.
It's a short letter, hastily composed of course, but it gives her a renewed hope. He tells her he wishes that he could be with her, that his heart yearns for hers, but that his quest for redemption has to continue.
She cannot fault him for that, no matter how many times she's tried to.
He reminds her that he loves her, and that he will be back soon.
She holds the letter close to her chest as a reminder in her times of doubt.
Leaves are falling and Emma realises that it's almost been a year. She stands on the balcony of her parents' bedroom, feeling the cool crisp air around her, taking it all in. There have been no more letters from Graham but she has kept herself busy, as she must.
From her perch she sees the wolf, hovering just outside the courtyard. The hunting of wolves has long been outlawed but Emma can see the distrust of the servants working outside. She stares intently at the wolf and is surprised to see him turn his head in her general direction. The distinct eye colour startles her.
It's Graham's brother-wolf.
Emma gathers up her skirts and runs, breezing past Red, who jokes where she's going in such a hurry. She just smiles at her godmother, one of those 'I'll tell you later' smiles and continues on her way. Her parents walk arm in arm down the corridor and she only slightly slows for them. At first they look concerned by her haste but once she assures them that everything's alright, they begin to walk away from her and she runs once more.
Outside, she finds the wolf searching for her. Once his eyes lock on hers, he turns, and begins to pad away from the courtyard. With no time to get to Philippe in the stables, Emma slows down and calmly walks after the animal.
The wolf's pace grows faster and so she has to run to keep up, ever so slightly, when she finds herself in that all-too-familiar clearing.
At first she wonders why the wolf would bring her here. But then she hears his voice and it all makes such perfect sense she feels foolish for not thinking it in the first place.
"Emma, what are you-?"
His question is drowned out by her running into his arms.
"Where the hell have you been!?" she asks, relieved to see him, angry that he would be away for so long, and just so happy to see him again.
He doesn't reply, just lets her sink further into his arms and she's grateful for that. They stand like that for so long, just feeling the other so close that it's almost as if their hearts are beating as one. He runs a hand through her hair lovingly and she sighs contently at the touch. Eventually, she breaks away slightly, just to kiss him.
And like that they remain for a good few minutes, until they break apart once more. Emma's hand finds itself to his cheek, where he sports a purple-ish bruise, and she notices his eye looks swollen.
"What happened to you?" This question is much softer than the previous one. She looks at his hands, which show the labour of time away and she wonders on all of the things that have happened to him, stories he's to tell her, some she'll want to hear, and others she won't.
He places his hand over hers, and gives a smile. He shakes his head. "It doesn't matter now. We're together."
She nods, agreeing with that statement. "Don't go away for that long again," she admonishes.
A small chuckle leaves his lips and he looks deep into her eyes.
She already sees a difference in him. And it's not a bad one. He looks more whole now. The glimpses she had only ever been able to see briefly before he had his heart back are now in his whole face. And she loves him all the more for them. She loves him for every bruise or scar he has brought back.
A nudge at her legs and Emma finds the wolf still standing there.
"You brought him back to me, didn't you?" she questions, bending down and stroking his fur, without any of her previous hesitance.
"I think that's his job somehow," Graham replies, also kneeling down beside his brother. He strokes the wolf's fur. "Thank you," he says.
The wolf howls, and then with one look at Graham, the animal heads into the bushes.
Graham helps her up from the ground and notices that she's not in her usual attire for the forest, and instead in one of her gowns.
She realises this too, and then realises how quickly she left the castle and the concerns it might raise.
She grasps his hand in hers and smiles at him. "Come on," she pulls him a little. He responds by moving along of his own accord, a smile on his face. Emma can't wait to see that smile for a very long time to come.
"We should go home."
So that's it. That's how it ends. I intentionally posted it today because that means it's been exactly a year since I first posted this. I don't really know what I can say to you guys to express how grateful I am for all the reviews, favourites and alerts that have been left on this story. Sometimes it has been the hardest thing to write this, and sometimes I've just been falling over my fingers trying to type, but the one constant has always been the encouragement from you guys.
I just have one quick thank you and that is to my friend Molly (clarapond on tumblr; you should follow her js) because she made the graphic for this story and it's really beautiful so thank you Molly! (And also she has always left me some very constructive criticism on the chapters (e.g. 'you are the worst', 'I am going to get a 2am train and come kill you')
And just a general thank you again, again, again to you guys, I just can't emphasis it enough. I hope you have all enjoyed this story, and the twists and turns it took that sometimes even surprised me. It's been great! :)