Author: Kat Lee
Dedicated To: My dear, always supportive sister, hughville
Fandom: Once Upon A Time
Challenge/Prompt: faerie_wish13: August 2018: Sports (Archery) and hughville's request to write something with "Red and Snow realizing they are more than friends."
Word Count: 3,141
Date Written: 28 August 2018
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to their rightful owners, not the author, and are used without permission.
“I don’t like this,” Red said, pouting.
“What?” Snow flashed her a quick grin. “You don’t trust me?”
“It’s not that,” her best friend answered quickly. Their eyes met and locked for a moment before Snow looked away. There was something new growing between their gazes lately when their eyes connected like that. It made them both uncomfortable for each felt she had no right to look at the other woman in such a way.
Red knew she couldn’t promise Snow a good future, especially nothing the likes of which the one the Prince her dearest friend loved could give her. Not only was she a commoner who often couldn’t scratch together two copper coins, but she was a monster. She had no right to want Snow to stay with her, and although she’d chosen to stay with her out here in the wilderness so far, she knew there would come a day when she was ready to go back to her own people. Once the Evil Queen was defeated, nothing would stand in Snow’s way of returning home, especially Red. She’d have to make herself disappear, she knew, after that final battle and free her friend from any obligation she might feel to stay with her.
She had to release her from the wild instead of back into the wild like the tiny bird they’d saved a couple of months prior. The poor, little thing had fallen out of a tree, as best as they’d been able to figure, and had broken her wing. They had set her wing, nursed her back to health, and made certain she was able to fly before carrying her back to the very place where they’d picked her up. Red had been surprised to find the same bird singing to her when she’d awakened one morning a week later, but although the bird had returned to her territory, she could never expect Snow to do the same. Once she was freed from the Queen, she’d be free to live her life, and Red was going to have to let her do just that.
She swallowed hard as she turned around and placed her back to a tree. This was the same tree she’d caught herself clawing the other day, the same one into whose bark she had wanted to carve her initials along with Snow’s, but she had stopped herself from finishing the task when she’d realized what she was doing. The markings were down near the base, however, and Snow would never notice them.
Besides, her friend had asked her to do this, having heard stories of the feat being completed successfully in other parts of the world and wanting to prove her own skill with a bow and arrow as being equal to any man’s, even the legendary William Tell’s. Red had been tempted to tell Snow that she was certain there was more to the story than what little they had heard in the tavern, but she hadn’t wanted to upset her friend. She sighed and grumbled underneath her breath. There were so many things she wanted to say so often but never did because she didn’t want to upset Snow, like now when she asked her if she trusted her. Of course she trusted her -- she had killed her own mother to save her life, had she not? --, but it wasn’t a matter of trust.
Snow had had too much to drink, Red decided upon sniffing the air again. She struggled to still her jumping nerves as she placed both hands behind her and against the hard, smooth bark of the tree. She had to have had too much to drink, because otherwise she would never dare to try this. She wouldn’t test her talent by risking her life, but maybe she knew it wasn’t risking her life, after all, Red argued against her survival instincts. Her wolf was more than fast enough to dodge an arrow she knew she was coming.
“Then what is it?” Snow asked as she strung her bow.
“Do you really have to ask?” Red retorted. “Look at where we’re doing here!”
Snow arched an eyebrow at her. “You don’t think I can do it?” A wide grin flashed across her beautiful face. “Do you?!”
Red sighed. Once again, it wasn’t that either, but she’d have to be a fool to just let her fire an arrow straight at her head. But she could move fast enough to avoid the arrow coming at her if Snow misfired, Red reminded herself, and if her aim proved as true as it always did, Snow would be pleased, happy, and for a change, proud of herself. She curled her fingernails into the trunk of the tree behind her.
“You can do it,” she told her. She always told her she could do anything, and she believed she could. One day, they would even defeat the Evil Queen with all her dark magic tricks. They would free Snow, and then she wouldn’t have a chance to have her secret love shoot an apple off of her head. She wouldn’t have a chance to be near her, because she would have to leave her. It would be the only right thing to do.
“Then stop protesting,” Snow teased her with a grin, “and hold still.” She raised her bow as Red set the apple she held onto her head and leaned back against the tree. Snow narrowed her brown eyes as she zeroed in on her target. Red heard both their hearts pounding and noted again, as she often did, how they seemed to sound in rhythm. “One.” Snow readied herself and her bow, bracing her feet firmly on the ground beneath her. “Two.” She started to pull the arrow back.
“Oh, just let it go already!” Red snapped.
Without any further warning, Snow did just that. Her arrow zipped through the air. Red saw it coming, tensed, and remained ready to spring into her wolf form. She ducked at the last possible second just as the arrow pierced the apple.
“Aha! I knew it!” Snow declared, pointing at her.
“What?” Red asked innocently, pretending she hadn’t ducked. “I told you you could do it!”
“If you believed I could do it, why’d you duck?” Snow demanded, striding forward to meet her in the meadow.
Red’s eyes again met Snow’s. Her gaze flashed from her merrily sparkling eyes to her wide, smiling mouth. For just a moment, she thought of what it would be like if she could work up the nerve to silence Snow’s protests by placing her mouth over her own and drinking of her rich, true nectar, but she couldn’t do that. It wasn’t just a risk of Snow pulling away from her. She couldn’t condemn her to spending the rest of her days with a wolf -- and that, Red admitted sadly to herself, was if Snow didn’t leave her entirely. It was a risk no matter which way she looked at it, and she could never condemn either of them.
Even if, she thought sorrowfully, she was going to have to one day condemn herself to secure Snow’s freedom and happiness. But at least then she wouldn’t lose her friendship, not entirely. She would have to leave her to make certain Snow got the happily ever after ending she deserved with her Prince Charming, but she would know that, no matter where she went or how long she stayed away from her to give her a chance to settle down into marital bliss, the one person who was dearest to her in all the world would still love her as a friend. That, Red knew, would have to be enough.
She flashed her a wide, teasing grin. “Who’ll help you kill the Queen if you behead me?”
“I wouldn’t have beheaded you,” Snow replied, bending down to retrieve her apple and arrow. “Even if I’d missed, you would have still had your head -- “
“But an arrow in my brain,” Red teased.
“Were you afraid,” Snow asked, looking up at her in sudden concern, “truly?”
Red’s chest tightened. God, the woman was so beautiful! She had no idea just how devastatingly lovely she was. “Of you?” she said, reminding herself to breathe. Snow slowly straightened, lifting the apple and arrow with her as she did so. Red’s breath quickened as she found herself standing so close to Snow that their noses were almost touching. “Never,” she breathed shakily.
Snow studied her for a moment. She watched her face and her eyes as though she was searching for something. Red felt heat rush into her cheeks. She almost diverted her gaze, but she knew that if she moved away now, Snow would know something was up, something had changed. Then she thought she saw Snow’s cheeks blush; she knew she heard her heartbeat speed up and smelled sudden, inexplicable arousal.
“Snow, what -- “ she started to ask, but the words froze in her throat as her best friend leaned closer to her. For just a moment, she thought her fondest wish was going to come true, but suddenly Snow turned, lifted the apple, and bit it as though she hadn’t been coming closer to her at all. Red frowned as she watched her, but Snow’s face was now turned away from her -- and her heartbeat was racing faster than any horse Red had ever known. “What’s going on with you?” Red asked, her frown deepening.
“Nothing,” Snow responded quickly, her mouth full of apple. She offered the apple to her.
Red smirked at the sight of the apple still dangling from Snow’s arrow but wasn’t about to be so easily diverted. “No, something is going on with you. Your heart’s pounding.” She stepped closer to her and gently touched the backs of her elbows. “What’s wrong?” she asked again. “You know you can tell me anything.”
“I -- “ Snow looked back at her, and as their eyes locked, Red thought she saw something new in her friend. She seemed to be looking at her the same way she’d watched Prince Charming in the past, only even more intensely. “I’m just hungry, is all,” Snow said quickly, taking another bite of the apple.
“And that,” Red said knowingly, “is a straight out lie.”
Snow’s mouth dropped open, and Red didn’t look away even though she could see the chunk of partially chewed apple in her mouth. “You forget,” she reminded her gently, touching a finger to her own nose, “the nose knows. I can smell a lie coming a mile away.”
“I -- “ Snow looked away again and forced herself to swiftly finish chewing the bite and gulp it down. “I -- I’ll be fine.” She couldn’t tell her what was on her mind, what she had realized the last time she’d almost lost her wolfy. Red might be a wolf, but she’d never be the type of girl to love another girl. She could have any guy in the world she wanted after all, or any woman if she did choose to go that way. Why on Earth would she choose her?
Red caught her elbow again. This time, her grip tightened slightly. “You’re not fooling me, Snow. You tell me everything,” she whispered, sadness that her friend no longer appeared to trust her as much as she once had creeping into her voice. “What aren’t you telling me now?”
“I -- “ Snow looked back at Red, saw the tears beginning to glisten in her eyes, and caught her bottom lip with her teeth. She chewed her lip nervously before finally, slowly saying, and choosing her words carefully the whole time, “I think I’m in love.”
“We already know that,” Red said as though it was the most obvious thing in the world. “You’re in love with your mysterious, charming Prince.” She spoke the words almost tauntingly and again released Snow. This time, she was the one who started to turn away.
“No. I think . . . I think I’m falling in love with a woman.”
Red turned swiftly back. She frowned deeply at her as she searched her face and eyes this time. “Who?”
“Oh! I . . . Hum . . . “ She hadn’t expected her friend to ask her that question, but she should have known it was coming. “Huh . . . “ She desperately raked her brain for an answer that wouldn’t give her away.
“Who?” Red asked again, pushing. “And don’t even try to lie to me. You know I can tell.”
“I know you can,” Snow muttered, her eyes dropping to the small spot of ground that remained between their booted feet. She shouldn’t have said anything. Now how was she going to get out of this without telling her the truth?! “She’s a good friend,” she said slowly. “Probably . . . Probably my best friend.”
“But I’m your best friend.”
Snow’s head jerked up. Her eyes flashed wildly up at her. Her mouth opened, but no sounds of protest or denial came out.
“You’re saying -- “ Red started to ask, but the words again froze in her throat. Facing Ogres, Trolls, the Evil Queen, and all her magic and men was far easier than asking the simple question that bulged in her throat. She swallowed hard and licked her lips.
“To Hell with it!” Snow suddenly snapped. She’d had nothing in the world left to her when she’d met Red, and if she lost her, she’d simply go back to having nothing. She’d still have a reason to live -- to defeat the Evil Queen, of course --, and she’d only be as lonely as she had been before Red had saved her life the first time. Only now, of course, she realized, she’d know what she was missing. Losing Red would be like having her own heart taken out of her chest. Maybe Regina could do her a favor after all these years and simply yank it out for her.
But there was no going back now, she realized. She’d said too much, and she wasn’t getting out of this fix without telling the truth. Red would know if she lied to her as she always did -- there was no fooling the wolf’s nose --, and she wasn’t going to leave her alone until she had the answer she wanted, especially now that she’d admitted that the person with whom she was in love was her best friend.
She looked up at Red, their eyes swimming with emotions and catching and locking again. She’d never shared such a powerful connection with anyone’s gaze but Red’s. She’d never shared such a powerful connection with anyone else, period. No one had ever made her feel like her wolfy did, and no one ever would. But how could she tell her everything that was racing through her mind and heart? How could she ever find the words to tell her what she meant to her?
Actions always spoke louder than words, the Princess knew. She stepped forward, closing the distance between them, and planted her lips firmly on top of Red’s. Red gasped, her mouth opening, and Snow’s tongue slid into her sweet, sensual warmth. Their kiss deepened as, to her surprise and delight, Red began to kiss her back.
Snow dropped her arrow, with the apple still attached, back onto the ground and wrapped her arms around Red’s waist. Red stepped up even closer to her, closing out the tiny distance that had remained between them, and lifted her hands to Snow’s face. She caressed her cheeks, the tips of her long fingers running into the dark, curly ends of Snow’s hair, but then suddenly, she pulled their heads apart.
Snow looked at her questioningly even as Red, panting hard, gasped out, “You do mean what I think you mean, right?!” She was obviously scared though she’d never admit it.
“Yes, you idiot!” Snow declared. She’d just told her she loved her with a kiss, and she knew Red loved her too from the way she had instinctively responded, kissing her with just as much passion. Why, she wondered, did she have to stop them?!
“Then tell me,” Red said, and to both their surprise, a lupine whimper escaped her mouth. “Don’t just kiss me. Tell me you love me and not that damn Prince!”
Snow lifted her hands to Red’s face. She cupped her, felt her trembling beneath her touch, and steadied her as she angled her head down so that they stared directly into each other’s eyes again. “I love you, Red! I think I always did! I just . . . didn’t really know it until I almost lost you last week.”
Of course Red knew the exact moment to which Snow was referring. She had been out hunting for their dinner when some stupid hunter had shot her. Luckily he hadn’t realized he’d been successful at striking her, but she’d lost too much blood and fallen unconscious before she could make it back to Snow or transform back to her human shape. When she hadn’t shown up at their rendezvous point, Snow had come looking for her. She had found her close to death and had to stop her bleeding and talk her into demorphing. She had essentially saved her life, again.
“You scared me that time,” Snow admitted, caressing Red’s face. “I didn’t think I was going to be able to reach you. I didn’t think you’d hear me.” Two tears rolled down her cheeks.
Red was tempted to wipe her tears away, even to catch them and lick them from her fingers, but she wasn’t about to let go of her hold on her beloved friend’s beautiful, honest face. She was still trembling inside but from excitement, not fear. Snow loved her! Snow actually loved her!! “I’ll always hear you, darling,” she responded earnestly, “and I’ll always love you.”
Then she let her lips do the talking for her as Snow had done earlier, and when her Princess tugged her down toward the ground, she went willingly and with more joy than she’d ever before felt in all her life. Maybe they would get their happily ever after ending after all, but it wouldn’t be with any Prince Charming. Her beloved would be staying with her, as they’d always been destined to do since the beginning.
Red’s mind drifted, for just a moment, to her grandmother and the answer she’d given her when she had asked her why she’d never remarry. “Child,” Granny had told her, “when we wolves mate, we mate for life. When you feel love, true love, you’ll know it, and they’ll be turning back. There can never be another man for me. I loved your grandfather with all my heart. I always will, and one day, I’ll be reunited with him.” And she, Red knew as a howl of joy and love burst through her heart, soul, and very being, would always love her Snow!