Author: Kat Lee
Fandom: Once Upon A Time
Character/Pairing: Red/Snow, Charming/Snow
Challenge/Prompt: fan_flashworks #143: On the Outside and 1_million_words Cry Me A River: Positive Results and A to Z: A
Word Count: 1,375
Date Written: 14 January, 2016
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to their rightful owners, not the author, and are used without permission.
Special Thanks To: swan_secrets for the nickname idea. I loved her term of "Little Wolf" from Belle to Ruby in one story so much that I had to sort of borrow it here. :-)
She watches her from across the room. She's smiling and laughing tonight, beaming at the friends who still surround her, shining like every bit of the Princess she still is, and seemingly, perfectly all right, perfectly normal, perfectly just herself, Snow White. Ruby's lips pull back from her mouth as she growls at the sight, because she knows it's not real. She might be Snow, but she's not her Snow White. She hasn't been since that thing in her arms was born, and she hates for being so territorial against an innocent child, but that's when Snow started changing again.
She tries to think back to before. She remembers other nights when the atmosphere was smokey and Snow's laughter filled taverns. She remembers other nights when the Dwarfs hung around, and even Charming was there on some nights. But Snow wasn't that type then. She was still hers, and Charming was even okay with the deeper layers of their friendships.
Ruby growls again. Snow was never only a friend to her. She found her missing half in her. She found her calm. She found her light. She found everything she needed to complete her, and now it's all gone. It's all been taken by an infant.
"Jealousy isn't a good color on you, Ruby," her grandmother murmurs as she walks pass her with another tray loaded with drinks. Ruby sniffs -- not a sniffling sound that comes with any tears, but the whuff of a wolf who really doesn't give a damn. They're celebrating some new victory tonight, and yet again, she knows neither what the threat was or how they bested it. She's not involved any more. She's been shut out, and she knows it's cliche, but she'll be damned if it doesn't hurt worse than any knife that's ever cut her.
She almost wishes Snow would cut her. If she'd fight her, maybe then she could find that fire that she used to love watching dance in her eyes underneath the moonlight. There was a quiet ferocity to her best friend back then that could even match the wolf's at times. She was a match for her, more than a match for the human, almost a match for the wolf on the wildest of full moon nights.
But that wildness is gone. It's been tamed, and the damn thing is, Red can't even blame Charming for it. She'd like to blame the man, but he's never once stood in the Princess' way -- well, at least, not after he fell in love with her. Red snorts again at that idea. Why is it, she wonders once more, that despite the old fairy tale of a soul only possessing two parts that are whole once they find each other multiple people continue to fall in love with the same person? She and Charming both love Snow White with all their hearts. Robin loved Marian and loves Regina now. Emma's been loved by two, possibly three, different guys.
Whatever the reason, she's still as alone as the night after she took the life of the first man she ever loved. That should have been a lesson to her: Wolves aren't meant to love. Love only leads to heartache. But maybe her grandmother is right about one thing: Maybe there are a few things in this world that she's too stupid to learn.
She's tried everything to lure her Princess back with no sign of any positive results at any turn. She's tried to be her friend, even tried sitting for the tyke a couple of times. Before that, she tried sneaking Snow away from Charming. She led her into the forest where she had a picnic of all her favorite foods waiting. She even had the River Sprites playing their favorite tune. Snow had jumped back onto her horse and galloped all the way back into town.
Ruby picks up an apple from the table and rolls it around on the bar's smoothly polished surface. Apples used to be their own private language. Taking a bite out of one meant they were ready to take a bite out of the other. More than once, Red led Snow away from Charming and even palace life with a single bite out of an apple. But when she showed up on Snow's doorstep last month naked and biting an apple, Snow shut the door in her face.
"We're never going to become friends again like that."
Ruby blinks, sits bolt upright. Mary Margaret bites her bottom lip to keep from smiling as she can practically see her wolf's ears perking up at the sound of her voice. She's missed her, but that's a chapter of her life she's decided to close.
"You're talking to me."
"Yes." She smiles, and if there's a touch of sorrow to her light smile, neither woman comments on it. "I never wanted to stop talking to you, Ruby, but I can't -- I can't do what we used to do."
"Why not?" Ruby wants to whine, but she can't. She won't. She won't give Snow White the pleasure of having that power over her, especially when she's hurt her so many times recently. She won't let her hurt her again. She may be dumb, but she's not that dumb. Besides, there are far too many witnesses in this restaurant, and the only one who has a right to know any of her weaknesses is Snow, Snow, her Snow, who's finally talking to her again.
"Stop wriggling. I swear you can be so distracting -- "
"Is it working?"
"It's tempting me to stop talking to you again and go back to my family where I belong."
"You told me once they're our family."
Snow sighs, struggles within herself again, and finally places her hand on top of Ruby's. The small gesture makes Ruby's whole face light up, and now they both know her tail is wagging. One token of affection isn't all she's been yearning for all these months, but it's certainly a start. "They are," Snow speaks quietly so no one else should overhear them, but in a restaurant crowded with people whose hearing is so much better than normal humans, they can no longer be sure their words are private. Snow continues any way, lifting her gaze to meet Ruby's, "We are, but I can't be distracted right now, wolfy."
"Wolfy. You haven't called me that since -- " She's beaming now, though tears glisten in her dark eyes as she remembers that night.
"I know, and nights like that will happen again, but you have to give me time. I can't mess this one up."
Ruby frowns. "Mess what up?" she asks.
"This child. I finally have a second chance. I can't mess it up. Not like I did with Emma."
Ruby opens her mouth to start to ask her if she's still blaming herself for what happened with the Curse and losing her firstborn child, but then she shuts it. She knows she does. She always will, just as she, too, and Charming, as well, will always think there should have been something more they could have done to protect Emma. But what is past -- Everything that is past is past. It's possible to go back, but people usually cause more trouble that way.
So instead she turns her hand. She interlaces her fingers with her Snow's. She smiles into her face and leans so close that she almost makes lip contact. Almost. She forces herself to stop before they actually kiss. She smiles, giving her every confidence that she hasn't felt in so long. "We won't mess it up," she promises, and then her Snow is back truly, dragging her back to the table, dragging her back where Grumpy's waiting with two freshly filled drinks, dragging her back to their family. Even Charming looks happy to see her.
Ruby watches her Princess smile and shine through the night, and she wonders about something she heard long ago. If you let them go and they love you, they'll come back, and her Snow has. Perhaps they can't be together romantically quite yet. Maybe she can't bite her apples tonight, but one night soon, she will. Regardless, as long as her Princess shines beside her, she's complete.