Author: Kat Lee
Fandom: Once Upon A Time
Character/Pairing: Red/Snow, Granny, mentioned Charming/Snow
Challenge/Prompt: femslashbb August 2016: Seventeen Days Later
Word Count: 1,389
Date Written: 9 August 2016
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to their rightful owners, not the author, and are used without permission.
It's been seventeen days since she saw her last. Seventeen long, hot days and lonely nights have stretched between their last embrace and now. She shouldn't be worried -- Snow's been gone for a lot longer before --, but she is. Every sound has her looking up, eyes raising in expectation and widening with hope that is soon dashed as the sound turns out to be just another bird in the brush.
She walks the lands upon which they have romped in silent solitude. The moon has not completed its cycle yet, but it will soon. She'd promised she would be back before her next change, and Snow never breaks a promise willingly, not any more, not after the last promise she broke as a child that ruined her life.
Not for the first time, Red contemplates that event. It ruined Snow's life -- took from her everything she'd ever known and loved except for her mother, who was already gone --, but if it hadn't been for the Queen hunting her, she wouldn't have been in the forest. They would never have met. She would be truly as alone as she feels now.
"Come inside, child."
"But, Granny -- "
"I've got the cloak on," Red complains as she enters their small cabin. "I promised I wouldn't take it off again, and I meant it."
"That's not what worries me." Granny eyes the entrance to the dark forest. "There are other forces afoot tonight," she says, shifting her crossbow slightly in her lap, the same lap that once held Red when she was a little girl. "You're not alone out there."
"What do you mean?" Red asks, puzzled and wide-eyed.
"We're being watched. We need to move out tomorrow. Go to that little hut you girls built together."
"We're being watched? By who? The Queen's guards?"
Granny nods. Red's eyes flash back toward the forest. She studies the tall, dark trees but can spot no movement. Still, she knows better than to argue with her grandmother when it comes to safety. It's a lesson she learned the hard way, and yet another horrible part of her life for which Snow was right beside her. Her gaze glances to the moon before she withdraws fully into the cabin.
"You really miss her, don't you, child?" Granny observes quietly to which Red nods.
"I do," she whispers, more so than she dares to admit to her granny or even to herself. Snow's on her mind all day long and all night, and when she finally shuts her eyes in the dark of night, her dearest friend is there waiting for her in her dreams.
Granny shakes her head. "You know she's in love with that Prince."
"I do." Red nods. How can she possibly not know that her love can never love her as she does her? How many times has she already helped her to get a message to her Prince, or assisted her in sneaking into his kingdom for a secret rendezvous? She's no fool, even if she is naive on some issues. She knows Snow's heart will never belong to her.
She considers, for a moment, if things would be any different if she had been born a man. Could she have then whisked Snow's attention away from her beau? Could she have wooed her, made her fall in love with her? Would her chances of winning her love have been any better?
Red sighs, knowing she'll never know. She was born into this body, Werewolf and all, and in this body she has to stay, even if there are whispers of a potion that will change a woman into a man. It wouldn't matter. Snow knows her as she is and loves her as her friend; nothing will ever change that.
Granny shifts in her rocking chair and looks at her almost as though she knows the thoughts running rampant through her mind. Red blushes and lowers her head a little, but the old woman doesn't admonish her. Instead, she speaks with kindness gentling her order, "Better not to think about what can't be, girl."
Red nods again. "Can I sit with you, Granny?" she asks after a long pause. She doesn't want to be alone tonight.
"Sure." Red kneels on the cold, hard floor. She curls up with her back against her granny's rocking chair and her magical, red cloak wrapped protectively around her. She looks to the forest first but gradually her gaze moves to the crackling fire in the hearth. She watches its crimson and orange flames dance. She feels a small, reassuring pressure on her shoulder as her eyes slowly drift shut. "We move tomorrow," she hears from if as from afar just as she catches sight of Snow's wide, warm smile. She grins in response and chases her through the woods on a full moon night in her dreams, and in her dreams, when she catches her, they do more than she knows they'll ever do in person.
Red wakes the next day to find Granny already packed and ready. "Goodness, child. I was beginning to think you'd sleep all day."
Red lowers her head slightly, but there's a gentle tone to Granny's fussing today. She's also learned that, as frustrating as the old woman can be, her grouchiness hails from her concern for her, so she lets her fuss as she bustles around their cabin, making certain they have everything they'll need. She remains silent even as their journey starts, but her footsteps are quick as she strives to put space between herself and the dreams she knows will never happen.
Their journey to the hut only takes two days, but Snow isn't there when they arrive. "Don't worry, child," Granny clucks, seeing the disappointment on Red's face. "She'll be along." Red nods but isn't feeling half as convinced. She tries not to worry about Snow as she assists Granny in putting away their things, but all she can think about is her friend and her unknown whereabouts.
During the course of that one day, she pictures all kinds of grisly horrors befalling her dearest friend until she wants to both cry and howl at the same time. Instead, come night fall, she is again by her granny's feet.
"Go ahead, child," Granny instructs.
Red looks up puzzledly at her. "What?"
"Let it out. No one can hear you here. The Queen doesn't even know about this place yet." When Red still looks puzzled, she adds, "It'll help. Trust me."
"What will help, Granny?" she finally asks.
"Howling." The old woman smiles at her granddaughter's obvious confusion. "Like this." She throws her head back and howls. Her long, low howl echoes through the small hut and bursts out the closed windows and door to resonate across the land. When she finally stops and looks at Red expectantly, the girl pauses only a moment more before following her grandmother's example, throwing her head back, closing her eyes, and howling.
They spend the night howling together. Red expects to be hoarse in the morning, but instead, she finds her granny's right yet again. She does feel better! She wakes before Granny and is considering rising and making the old woman breakfast when she hears some one at the door. Her wide eyes turn to the latch. She's reaching for Granny's crossbow when the door opens and Snow steps into her view.
Red gasps aloud and jumps to her feet. Snow shuts the door behind her, drops the hood of her cloak, and smiles brightly at her friend. "I heard your howls," she says, not daring to tell her how much she'd felt lost in her heart at the time she first heard her. "I heard your howls," she says again instead, "and I followed them here."
Red throws her arms around her and hugs her tight. It no longer seems to matter that Snow's heart belongs to another or that she will never love her the way that Red loves her. All that matters is that she's home. They're back together, and she's safe. And in that moment, Red knows no matter what becomes of Snow's love affair with her Prince, they will always find each other. She hugs her tightly and promises herself she'll never let go -- at least, not for long.