Author: Kat Lee
Fandom: Once Upon A Time
Character/Pairing: Red/Dorothy, past Red/Snow, mentions Charming/Snow
Rating: 5 September 2017
Challenge/Prompt: femslash100100: Rind
Word Count: 1,558
Date Written: 5 September 2017
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to their rightful owners, not the author, and are used without permission.
She remembers the first night Snow turned her away, how her heart broke, and how she ran and ran until the bottoms of her paws bled. She remembers how her tears, as hot and wild as she, ran in her eyes until she could see nothing of where she was going, but she remembers, too, not caring where she was going or what might happen to her along the way. Nothing seemed to matter in that moment, nothing except for the fact that the thing she had dreaded most in her life had happened: her beloved Princess, her cherished Snow, had finally chosen her Prince over her.
She knows she gave everything for that woman. She risked her life too many times to count. She killed for her without hesitation; she even killed her own mother for her. She followed her to a new time, giving up everything she’d ever known, once unwittingly and once knowing full and well what she was doing, what she was sacrificing, for a woman who, in the end, would always put her family first.
She had always put Snow first, even before herself. She’d had her on a mantle, Red can see now, and when she’d fallen, she had fallen hard and taken Red down alongside with her just as hard every notch of the way. She’d cried herself to sleep many nights, and that night she’d ran from her when she’d openly chosen her Prince, her husband, above her had not been the first night she’d ran for miles and miles until finally collapsing.
But what had happened the next morning . . . Now that had been new. She’d received her first sign of hope that morning. She’d thought, for the first time since meeting Snow White, that perhaps she could love somebody else after all. And it had all been because of what she’d seen that morning after accepting that horrible truth.
The sun had awakened her that day. It had been late in the morning, and it had fully bathed her in its warm glow before Red had stirred back to consciousness. It had been such a bright, golden color that she had had to blink when she’d first opened her eyes, but once her vision had began to clear, she’d seen it, almost like a sign from the Gods, bathed in the same, bright sunshine that had bathed her.
And now, after all this time, she’s looking at it again. Gently, Red touches the old tree. She can feel the life coursing through it underneath her palm. It’s afraid of being cut down, afraid of its life being ended so soon, but its bark is smooth, untouched by human hands or Werewolf claws.
“What is it?” her companion asks, edging closer.
Red looks at the girl, the only one she’s ever loved besides Snow. A smile trembles over her lips, shaken by memory. “Hope,” she answers.
Dorothy frowns. “I don’t understand.”
“I do,” Red whispers as though to speak too loudly would be to break this tender moment. “I finally do.”
Dorothy looks at her warily. “Then explain it to me, wolfy,” she finally says.
“Let me show you instead.”
“Okay.” Dorothy falls quiet as Red allows her fingernails to grow into claws. Carefully, she cuts into the bark of the tree, just enough to punctuate its first layer. She carves away its rind as gently as she can like a tattoo artist digging a needle into human skin to form art. Carefully, she writes, and then she draws.
“Well, that’s pretty -- “ Dorothy starts but stops as Red shakes her head.
“It’s more than that,” she explains. She reaches out, takes Dorothy’s hand in hers, and kisses it tenderly. As gently as she can, she begins to tell her, “You know you are not the first person I have loved.”
Dorothy smiles. “You finally said it,” she starts to say, but Red’s shaking her head again and gently squeezing her hand in hers.
“You already knew,” she tells her, “and you know, too, how badly I was hurt before.”
Dorothy nods, falling solemn. “I do,” she acknowledges.
“I gave up everything for that woman. She enjoyed what we did together, but in the end, I was only her best friend while she was so much more to me. On the night that she told me she was going to be true to her husband, and I knew there would be no further changing her mind no matter what I did, I ran. I ran and ran and ran until I collapsed. I was going in circles just to keep running while not crossing the townline -- I explained that danger to you before -- “ She stops to make certain Dorothy understands and, at her silent nod, continues, “My paws were in a horrible shape. Even after changing into my human form, I could barely walk.”
Dorothy stiffens. “If I ever meet that woman -- “
“You’ll do nothing,” Red interrupts her gently, “because I still care about her. She’s my friend, if nothing more, Kansas. But you’re the one I’m meant to be with.”
“I’m glad you -- “ Dorothy stops talking as Red softly presses two fingers of her free hand against her open lips. She kisses her fingertips and resumes silence, waiting patiently for her girlfriend, the only woman she’s ever loved, to finish her story.
“When I woke that morning, the sun was shining on my face, and once I was able to see through it, I saw what else it was shining on. At the time, I didn’t understand it, not fully, but it had my scent on it. That’s when I knew I would find love again, that Snow wasn’t my begin and end all soul mate like I’d always believed she was . . . “ She looks back at the tree and the heart she’s just carved around a simple message that everyone else who sees it in the future will take for granted. “That’s when I saw the heart.”
Dorothy shakes her head in amazement. Slowly, Red lifts her fingers from her lips, but she still holds her hand. “Your life is so confusing, all this moving around in time -- “
“I know,” she agrees, “but I’m thankful for it. If I’d never seen the heart, I never would have tried to love again, but seeing it told me there was somebody out here for me, somebody back here in this timeline who I had to find.”
“So you came after me.”
“I did,” Red beams, “and I’m so glad I did!” She pulls her into her arms and kisses her forehead and then her lips. “You give me hope, Kansas.”
“I’m glad, wolfy. If it wasn’t for you, I’d never think we stand a chance.”
“We stand more than a chance. We’re going to win this war. We’re going to defeat the Witch, and we’re going to get our happily ever after ending. Our tree was still standing after all those centuries. I take that as a good sign.”
Dorothy nods against her. “Because the Witch destroys everything in her pathway -- “
“Yes. But our tree was still standing, and so will we be after all this is over.”
There’s a long, quiet moment that passes between them as they simply enjoy the feeling of holding each other close. After a while, Dorothy finally speaks up again, “Wolfy, can I ask you something?”
“Anything,” Red instantly replies.
“The one you were with before, the one who was too stupid to realize what she had and hurt you so badly . . . You said her name was Snow.” Red holds her tongue, realizing that, for the first time in talking with Dorothy, she actually gave her her name. “You don’t mean like Snow White, do you?”
“Actually,” Red admits with a small grin, “I do.”
Dorothy shakes her head again, remembering the fairy tales she’d heard and later read herself while growing up. “Crazy. Your life is just totally crazy!” But she says it with a smile and kisses her after her declaration. “I’m still gonna kick her butt, though,” she mumbles afterward.
Red laughs. It’s a beautiful sound that seems, to Dorothy at least, to fill the forest around them with love and light instead of the darkness that is always so close. “No, you’re not!”
“Yes, I am!”
“No, you’re not. It took me a long time to accept this, sweetheart, but Snow’s not what matters. My past -- our pasts -- are not what matters. What matters is where we go from here!” She threads her fingers with her lover’s. “I don’t care where I go as long as it’s with you, and it will be.”
“Damn straight it will be!” Dorothy cries triumphantly. “Now where were we?” she murmurs against Red’s smiling lips.
“Right here,” Red answers, quickly kissing her.
Dorothy kisses her again and again and finally decides to let go of the topic of Snow White and her foolishery for now. If she ever meets her, though, she still vows, she will kick her butt for having hurt her Wolfy so badly, but then, if she’d never hurt her Wolfy, she wouldn’t have her now. “Hmph,” she mutters against Red’s tongue and lips, but Red either doesn’t hear the sound or, more likely with her wolf hearing, lets it go. Life is a very funny, and crazy, thing after all.