Disclaimer: I own nothing related to the show!
A/N: Well after that tweet read round the world (at least the Gremma shipper world), I had some major feels that needed to be felt. This is mostly just Gremma musing/me desperately wishing they'd never killed off Graham.
Even when it's all over, she can still feel his breath against her lips.
His hands are around her face, and although he's not making much sense (what does he remember?), she smiles at him. She wants him to open up, to tell her what he knows, what he remembers, and at the back of her mind, she also has a flicker of hope that if he can open up to her, maybe she'll one day open up to him.
He moves closer to her, and her heart begins to flutter with anticipation. But it happens suddenly, cruelly: as he leans in, he suddenly gasps, a horrible, choked sound like the air has been forced from his lungs. He's on the ground before she knows what's happening and she cries out his name before she can even think. She rolls him onto his back; she shakes him; she screams his name. But when she places her ear in front of his mouth, she feels nothing. The breath that had lingered over her lips is gone. Her fingers find the spot on his neck where there should be a pulse, but there is none.
In that moment, it feels like her own heart has stopped along with his.
And despite the fact she hasn't cried in years, the tears start to come. The sob escapes her lips before she can stop it, and before she knows it, she's got tears streaming down her face as she cradles his head in her hands. His face is still warm, and that makes her cry harder.
But as quickly as they start, the tears stop. Because Emma Swan's never been one to give up, not when there's something still to be done. She reaches up to the desk and grabs the phone and dials 911. She knows she's incoherent, but she gets her point across to the operator. She replaces the receiver and shifts onto her knees so that she's leaning over him and then she begins to pound on his chest. Her arms begin to ache with the effort, but she doesn't stop. Every thirty seconds, she leans over his mouth, praying to a god she doesn't believe in that she'll feel his breath against her skin once more.
But there's nothing. For ten minutes, nothing, while she waits for the ambulance to arrive. And when the paramedics finally show up, she falls back against the desk, exhausted, but she also allows herself a glimmer of hope. They've pulled out the defibrillator, they've torn open his shirt, and she watches as his body arches up from the floor as shocks of electricity are sent to his heart.
But after just three tries, they're shaking their heads. One of them moves toward her, saying something she's not listening to, but she imagines it's some platitude about loss or sorrow. All she can do is stare at his body as they load it onto the gurney, and all she can feel is his last breath, still lingering on her lips.
The hospital room is quiet. Too quiet. He's lying on a gurney, the same one he was rolled in on. It seems silly that he was taken to the hospital at all since he was all but pronounced dead at the office, but apparently it's the law that the hospital call time of death. She doesn't understand these rules.
But they've let her in to see him now, and what's more, they even gave her some privacy. She doesn't know how long she has; surely she'll be kicked out the second Regina shows up. But she's grateful that no one else is around. She's already cried more in the last hour than the past ten years combined, and she doesn't want an audience in her moment of weakness.
Her breath catches in her throat as she steps closer to him. There's a white sheet covering his face, and she grips it with trembling hands. She steels herself, and then pulls the sheet back.
His eyes are closed, and if she didn't know better, she'd say he was only sleeping. There's a certain peace in his expression that she never saw while he was alive. She wonders if it's because of whatever he remembered in the last moments of his life. She wishes he'd had the chance to tell her, because whatever it was seemed so important to him, but she supposes that doesn't matter now.
What kills her is that she let herself believe for one moment, one beautiful, painful, heart-breaking moment, that she could love someone again. She's sworn off love since – well, since him – but in that one moment, her resolve had been broken. If she'd let him, he could have torn down all her walls. And if he'd let her, she would have penetrated all of his.
But that's gone now, a hope so fragile and fleeting that it's already been lost.
She leans closer and gently brushes her lips against his. For a second, she actually wishes she could be like her son and believe in fairytales. Snow White and Prince Charming. True love's kiss that can break any curse and wake Snow White from a death-like sleep.
But this isn't sleep, it's just death. And when she kisses him again, she doesn't expect anything except emptiness. She can close her eyes and imagine they're back in his office, that when her lips touch his, he responds and fills her with warmth. But no she feels nothing but cold.
Her eye catches it just as she's about to leave. His boots are on the chair; they must have been taken off for some reason. She notices that one of the shoelaces is undone.
She doesn't know why she takes it, but next thing she knows, she's got that shoelace clenched in her palm as she slips from the room.
At first she doesn't know what to do with it. It alternates between her pocket, her drawer, and her key ring. But she's terrified she'll lose it, her last remaining tie to him (besides the memories that invade her dreams and haunt her nightmares), and she can't bear to lose another piece of him. It takes her tearing apart her entire sock drawer in a frantic search for the shoelace that she finally realizes the only way she'll never lose it is if it becomes a part of her.
That day, she ties the shoelace to her wrist. She knows that her roommate has noticed it, but no comment is made, for which she's grateful. She's never been one for sentimental objects, and she can't quite understand why she's made an exception, but she knows that having a piece of him with her brings her comfort.
When she's lying awake at night, her right fingers close over her left wrist, and she can feel the ridges of the lace under them. When she bites down on her knuckles to keep from crying out in grief and pain and loss, she feels the lace on her wrist. That piece of him that she'll always keep with her, and that no one, certainly not the woman her son calls the Evil Queen, can take that away from her.
And on nights like tonight, when she feels the tears start to come, she looks at her wrist and sees him with her. And when the tears recede and she manages to smile, she whispers thank you, the last words he said to her.
Sometimes she hears him breathe you're welcome, the last words she murmured to him.
And sometimes, when she closes her eyes, and closes her fingers around his shoelace, she can still feel his breath against her lips.
A/N: I hope you liked it; please let me know what you thought! This is just a oneshot (sorry, no sequel), but if you are in a Gremma mood, consider checking out my Tangled-inspired Gremma story, I See the Light. Thanks, everyone!