Chapter 8: Worlds Away from You


Red lifted her head as a small cart rumbled into the village; her eyebrows shot up at seeing one of the passengers.

Snow cast her a smile as she had the servant pull the cart to a stop in front of the dark haired woman. "Hello, Red." She hopped down and then reached up to help the young blond woman who had been sitting next to her down.

"Princess," Red began cautiously, eyeing the stranger.

The princess helped the young woman get situated with her crutches before turning both of their attention fully to the dark haired woman.

"Red," Snow began, "this is Ella De Barbarac, I brought her here for a visit and I'm hoping that we'll be able to induce her to stay and help the dwarves." She turned to the blond. "Ella, this is Redell of Everbrook."

Red had relaxed substantially at her princess's informal attitude and casual voice. She reached out a hand to the young woman. "It's a pleasure to meet you."

Ella accepted the handshake with a warm smile. "You as well; Snow has told me so much about you."

"Well, hopefully I'll learn as much about you soon." Red grinned. Her eyes flicked to Snow who was observing them with a satisfied smile.

"We're actually here to meet the dwarves for lunch at Granny's," Snow explained. "Would you like to join us or does Granny need you to help?"

Red grinned at her. "Things have been quiet lately; I'm sure I could get the time off."


The three women began making their way over to the pub, maintaining a pace that Ella could comfortably keep up with. When they entered through the kitchen door, Granny looked up and moved to meet them, eyeing Ella.

"Princess." She tilted her head expectantly.

Snow, as always, placed an affectionate peck on the woman's cheek. "Granny."

The old woman's shrewd gaze turned back on the young blond woman. "And who do we have here?"

"Granny," the princess moved over to wrap and arm around the younger woman's shoulders supportively, "this is Ella De Barbarac. She's thinking about moving here and possibly working for the dwarves. We're actually meeting them for lunch here."

Granny eyed her consideringly. "Hmm, well, if she's thinking of working for those men we're gonna need to put some meat on her bones." She shooed them into the dining area along with Red after granting her granddaughter the lunch time off.

Snow's attention was caught almost immediately after entering the dining area by the tailor's family; she glanced at her two friends. "I'm going to say hello to Daniel, Michelle and the children before we order."

The other two women waved her on while they made their way to a free table.

Red's eyes remained on her princess, watching her speak warmly with the family and "ooh"ing over the baby. "What happened?" she asked the blond woman next to her lowly.

Ella looked at her a bit startled. "Sorry?"

Red turned to her. "Before she left Snow was somewhat distracted, but now…" She frowned. "She's forcing herself to not be distracted, to stay busy. Which tells me that something happened," her eyes moved back to the princess, who was now kneeling down beside Sophie, "and by the shadows in her eyes something upset her." She looked back at the other woman.

The blond bit her lip. "I'm not sure what happened, truthfully. I haven't had the chance to speak to her since we left Riverdon. But she became very quiet after Prince James left."

"Prince James was there?" Red was quick to pick up.

"Yes." Ella nodded.

"Well…what happened?" the dark haired woman questioned a bit impatiently.

"I know that they spent some time together and they really seemed interested in one another," Ella slowly elaborated. "Then the day before we left he received a message from his father and he had to leave for Agrabah." She frowned. "He said he was going to leave after lunch but then abruptly changed his plans and left hardly an hour after breakfast."


The blond shrugged. "I'm not sure. I saw him leave from my balcony; I only knew that he was because Snow was with me when the maid came in and informed us. Snow all but ran out. I went to the balcony and I saw Snow running out of the palace to where Prince James was beside his horse. From what I could tell they were both very upset; he kissed her hand a couple of times, he didn't seem to want to leave, and then he mounted his horse and rode off."

Red was frowning deeply. "And she didn't say anything about it?" Her eyes cut briefly to the princess, making sure that she was still preoccupied.

Ella shook her head. "No. She was just really quiet for the rest of the time we were there and became even quieter on the ride here. Then this morning when she came to get me for breakfast she was back to a facsimile of how she was before, but her heart wasn't in it."

Red's frown became even more troubled. She had known her princess far too long not to recognize the signs of something bothering her, but she hadn't seen Snow so bad since her mother died. Her eye was caught by the princess rising to her feet and bidding the family goodbye before moving back to their table. Red put a smile back on her face; out of the corner of her eye she saw Ella doing the same. Perhaps, she mused, the quiet blond was the local ally for whom she'd been looking for years to help Red protect Snow from herself.

The princess took a seat, smiling. "It's good to see Michelle and the baby doing so well."

"Yes," the other dark haired woman agreed, "Doc said that even with the complications of the birth little Aaron will likely grow up strong and healthy."

Snow's eyes turned back to the family, smiling. "That's what Michelle said; I'm so glad to hear it."

Red was watching her princess very closely and saw the longing that always colored her expression whenever she thought about children and family, but there was also troubled confusion and an almost lost look in her eyes. It made Red want to storm right up to Prince James and demand to know what the hell he'd done to her best friend.

A cacophony at the door to the pub drew the attention of just about everyone. The seven dwarves had arrived in their usual sound and fury. Grumpy was the first one to see them and pointed the three women out to the others.

Snow rose and proceeded to hug each of the seven men who were like brothers and uncles to her; real love and affection filling her face as she laughingly spoke to them and introduced them all to Ella.

Red's eyes turned to the blond who looked like she was still trying to decide how to react to the group.

The dwarves also seemed to be sizing her up.

Grumpy caught Ella looking at him in particular. "What are you looking at, sister?"

"Grumpy," Snow gently chided, "be nice."

His eyes went to the princess, his whole demeanor softening. All of the dwarves adored Snow, even counted her as one of their own, but for some reason that Red had never been able to fully divine, Snow and Grumpy seemed to have a particular fondness for each other. Goodness knew Snow could nearly turn the dwarf as soft as down with one quiet word or look, and he was protective of her to nearly the extreme.

"Sorry," the gruff man muttered contritely to Ella.

"It's fine," Ella was quick to reassure, "I wasn't offended." She bit her lip. "I'm sorry if I was staring, I'm just still a bit overwhelmed by everything that's happened."

"That's understandable." Doc patted the young woman's hand.

While the dwarves began talking to the young blond, all of them getting to know each other, Snow sat quietly at first watching them, but soon Red saw her gaze become distant as her thoughts slipped to elsewhere.

"What's wrong with Snow?"

Red turned at Grumpy's muttered question in her ear. "We're not entirely sure," she whispered back. She nearly told him that they suspected it was about Prince James but was afraid how the dwarf might react; she didn't want the prince hurt if it was just a misunderstanding or something.

He frowned. "She's too quiet. I don't like it."

Red pressed her lips together. "Neither do I."



Thomas was standing on the balcony outside his office; it was still strange thinking of this whole palace being his, no longer being under his father's rule but running a household and kingdom of his own. He really wished that James was here for him to talk to in moments like this, when it was hitting him particularly hard how insufficient he felt to the task.

He sighed, leaning his hands on the railing.

To say that he was shocked at being suddenly accosted by a bird would have been an understatement.

He waved his hand as the bright blue animal continued to circle his head, twittering at him insistently.

Finally the animal, apparently satisfied that it had harassed him sufficiently, fluttered down to the railing and continued to chirp at him.

He looked down at the excitable animal, once he had the bird dropped its head, pushing a long thin scroll toward him with its beak.

He reached down, picking up the scroll. "Uh… I take it this is for me?"

He took the chirp the bird gave as an affirmation.

He unrolled the paper and was pleasantly surprised to see Ella's name at the bottom; he lifted his eyes to look at the bird. "Umm…thank you."

The bird chirped at him again and settled down on the railing; it looked almost expectantly at him.

He looked down at the letter. He had heard of animals being far more sentient than most people gave them credit for, but had never really experienced it until now and it was slightly unnerving.

Dear Thomas,

I wanted to write you, but since sending a letter by conventional means would be improper, Snow offered to have one of her blue birds carry it for me. Her name is Azalea. She's been instructed to wait until you tell her if you want to send a response; Snow's only request is that you see she is well fed before sending her back.

Thomas glanced at the bird, Azalea; he turned to the table behind him where he'd been eating lunch, picked up a roll from his plate and, breaking it up, set the crumbs before the bird. It chirped in what he figured was thanks before it began gobbling up the pieces. He turned back to his letter.

I hope that all is well with you. I'm not sure if you're still in Riverdon or if you have returned to Seaborn, but Snow has assured me that Azalea will be able to find you regardless of where you are. I can only hope that she is correct, but she seems very confident.

What have you been doing? How have you been doing? Have you been able to read any of the books I recommended to you? If so what did you think of them?

I am settling here in Everland happily; Snow has introduced me to her friends not only here but three royals from other kingdoms: King Gaspard of Rosewood, Princess Aurora of Glenbriar and your cousin, Prince Eric of Seaside. They were all so wonderful, and warm; I liked them almost from the start. Aurora and Eric bickered and teased each other like siblings while Gaspard was rather like an indulgent older brother. Red helped Aurora and Snow needle the two men and invited me to do the same but I'm not quite as comfortable as she with them yet.

I just realized that I mentioned Red above but have not even explained who she is. Red, a nickname for Redell, is the granddaughter of Beatrix of Everbrook, the owner of the local Inn and Pub. She and Snow have been friends almost all their lives, they're a lot like sisters really. She was rather wary of me at first but seemed to warm up soon enough. Red's grandmother, Granny as she insists everyone calls her, is a force to be contended with; her word is law and she will order around everyone from princess to peasant. Red told me that while your brother was here visiting Granny had him peeling potatoes in the kitchen.

Thomas chuckled at the little anecdote.

I'll admit to being rather overwhelmed at first upon meeting the seven dwarves; they're so boisterous and full of character, definitely a little rough around the edges but good-hearted men. I have agreed to work for them, and in all honesty I believe that working for seven miners who can't seem to conceptualize the basics of neatness will never be as hard as working for my stepmother and stepsisters. Snow had a servant drive us out to their home so that I could look around; the cabin they have for me is in a bit of disuse, but Snow and Red have both promised that they'll help and it shouldn't take too long before we have it sorted. It is a small place, but it will be cozy and it will be my own home, something I haven't had in many years.

Thomas ached from missing her, but found himself able to be glad for the obvious happiness in her tone of writing.

I have to admit to being worried about Snow, as are the rest of our friends. She hasn't been the same since your brother's departure from Riverdon. Do you know what happened? Why he left so suddenly?

Oh, did Thomas ever wish he did; he grimaced. He had only received two short notes from James since he left and neither had been enlightening about the situation. He worried for his brother as well, since the man's disquiet was obvious in the few words he had written.

Gaspard is attending the gala in Agrabah; he said that if he was able he would speak to James and see if he could find out what was wrong.

Thomas wished the man good luck, knowing his stubborn, tight-lipped brother.

You asked me before I left if you could call upon me after I had settled here.

His breath caught.

I plan on moving into the cabin in a week, once my ankle is stronger. I would welcome a visit at any time. I have missed you, Thomas. I hope that you will come soon. I have been reading the book of fables that you gave me; I look forward to the chance to talk about them with you.


Thomas looked at the bird with a wide grin. "You might want to take a nap, this will take a while."


Several Days Later


James was in a foul mood. Had been since he left Riverdon. He'd been able to temper his emotions by either engaging in sparring – though he was pretty sure that at this point he'd run off any potential partners for that with his rather fierce fighting – going for rides across the sands or practicing his archery. But with the gala today he hadn't been able to do any of the above, and to make matters worse Midas had been prodding him about proposing to Abigail. All in all he was in such a bad temper that he was staying off to the side and all but glaring at anyone who came near him.

His glass was deftly pulled out of his hand and he found himself being turned toward one side of the room by his arm. He looked down and was met with the tempestuous princess of Agrabah. "Jasmine…"

She continued to steer him with surprising strength toward a goal unknown to him. "James, you're gripping that glass so tightly you're about to shatter it."

He grimaced. "I'm sorry, Jasmine."

"No need to apologize to me." She pulled them to a stop off to the side and turned him so that they were facing each other. "Now. The training grounds are empty right now, go work off this…" she waved her hand vaguely at him, "whatever this is, before you offend someone."

He took a deep breath. "I apologize –"

"Stop apologizing and just go!" she pushed him in the direction of the stairs out.

He allowed himself to be directed away, honestly thankful for the reprieve.

Less than fifteen minutes later he had shed his outer shirt and cravat and was standing across from a target firing off arrows at it, feeling little better for it. Out of the corner of his eye he saw someone moving toward him, the gait, height and hair color were unmistakable. After he fired off the arrow currently in the bow he turned toward the advancing figure. "Is there something you needed, Your Highness?"

"No," King Gaspard said smoothly. He bent over, picking up a bow and a few arrows in one hand before limping over to stand beside James.

The prince observed the young king as he set down his cane and loaded an arrow into his bow; James turned back to his target doing the same.

The king released the arrow; it hit just a little off center. "I have a friend who enjoys archery a great deal."

James's arrow hit dead center; he notched another.

Both men drew back their bows nearly simultaneously.

"She's quite a good shot…Snow White."/p>

The prince's arrow flew to the far right hitting the wrong target.

The king lowered his bow, arrow unfired; one corner of his mouth lifting as he faced the prince who was still staring at his target. "And she becomes just as distracted when we mention your name."

James lowered his head, allowing the arm that held the bow to drop, his hand clenching around it. His chest ached at Snow's name; everything in him crying out for her. "How is she?" his voice was rough.

"Very distracted…" King Gaspard looked at him watchfully, "and confused and distressed…do I need to continue?"

His jaw was clenched. "No. I have the picture." He glanced for a moment at the other man. James had never had many chances to speak to King Gaspard; he was only a year older than James, but like Snow had chosen to withdraw from High Court life until two years ago when the time for his coronation had approached and forced him to once again rejoin. Some Court members were still shocked and repulsed by the disfiguring scars that the young man bore, calling him the "Scarred King" behind his back, but James had seen just as bad, and worse in battle. As it was Gaspard and his parents, when they lived, had only attended High Court functions sporadically; Snow had explained that the only reason they had become friends was that their mothers along with Aurora's had been close friends themselves and the three had bonded together over visits. From the affection in her voice and the way she spoke of the young king, James knew that she thought of this man as her older brother. And from the look in the man's eyes she was his little sister, and he had every right to be angry with James for hurting her. He pressed his hand to his chest where the ring still hung; he couldn't leave it behind, keeping it with him while he struggled to find a way for him and Snow to be together.

The king observed him for several moments before bending over to pick up his cane and limping over to set it in the rack alongside the others. "Prince James, I'm not known for my tact." He moved over to a bench, sitting down and looking at the prince. "But I am good at reading people." He eyed James thoughtfully. "You're suffering. Whatever it is that is keeping you from her is tearing you up, as much as this absence is hurting Snow."

James felt exposed under the king's all-too knowing gaze and frank words. "What do you know?" he asked in an even, tight tone.

"Only what Ella has told us of what she knows happened in Riverdon, what Red and Snow told us of your first visit and what we have all been able to deduce from it all." His gaze was unnervingly steady. "Why did you leave like you did?"

He looked off to the side, lips pressed into a thin line. "I didn't have much choice in the matter." He tapped the end of the bow on the ground agitatedly. "I was put into a position that I felt I was fairly trapped and to leave like that was my only choice…as much as I hated doing it."

The king's eyes narrowed. "What made you feel that way?" He studied the prince a moment longer. "Or is it a who?"

James lifted his eyes to meet the other man's, his hand clenched around the top of the bow. After several moments of their eyes not wavering in their silent stalemate James opened his mouth.


Both of their heads turned at the call.

Jasmine pulled to an abrupt stop at realizing that the prince wasn't alone. "I'm sorry."

"It's all right, Princess Jasmine," King Gaspard assured her. "You have something to tell Prince James?"

She looked the king up and down for a moment warily before turning to the prince. "Your father is looking for you. He seemed pretty insistent on seeing you now."

James was already moving, putting the bow away and picking up his fine shirt and cravat. "Thank you, Jasmine."

He began following his friend back toward the palace, but stopped and turned back mid-way there. "King Gaspard?"

"Hmm?" the man acknowledged, turning to him as well.

"When you see her –" his voice broke; he swallowed thickly before he continued. "When you see Snow...could you tell her that, what I told her about my dreams…it's still true."

The king eyed him thoughtfully before nodding. "I will tell her."

"Thank you," he managed around the tightness in his throat.



Ella was leaning on her crutch – her ankle was feeling steadier and she had decided to start just using one crutch instead of two – as she wiped at one of the windows in her cabin. Her cabin. She couldn't help grinning every time that thought crossed her mind. This was her home that she could arrange as she pleased and no one could order her around. She had piece by piece been regaining control of her life, taking charge of it once more, and changing it. It felt good.

"You know," Ella turned at Red's voice; the dark haired woman was scrubbing a few dishes in the sink, "you haven't stopped smiling since you received that letter from Prince Thomas." The other woman's eyes were glittering with mischief.

The blond cast her a look. "I have many reasons to be happy right now." She dunked her rag in the bucket of water and continued to clean the window.

"Not the least of which being having a prince showing an interest in courting you," Red teased.

Ella flicked water at her. "He has said nothing of the sort." She bit her lip, trying to suppress a grin.

"But he is coming to visit you…" she commented slyly.

The blond pressed a hand to the pocket of her apron, where she still carried his reply. She was helpless to prevent the grin that slid across her face. "Yes, he is."

The dark haired woman gave a put-upon groan. "You know, between you and Snow it's almost sickening."

A well-aimed rag splatted against Red's shoulder.

"You're just jealous," Ella teasingly taunted.

Up went a sarcastic eyebrow. "Right…that's it." She slung the rag back; it was caught in a deft hand.

They shared a laugh for a few moments.

Red's eyes were drawn out the window above the sink and the amusement faded from her face.

Ella followed her friend's gaze.

Snow was hanging linens on the line, but even from their distance both of the women could see that the princess was miles away, eyes unfocused.

"What are we going to do?" Red murmured worriedly. "She's just getting worse."

Ella pressed her lips together. "Maybe Gaspard will have some good news when he returns, or at least some answers."

The dark haired woman let out a weary sigh, looking back down at the dishes. "We can only hope."


Thomas kept an eye out for the landmarks Ella had told him of in her letter, thankfully they weren't difficult to find, and before long a low sprawling cottage with a smaller cabin behind it came into view. What assured him he was in the right place was the sight of Snow White, standing at the wash line hanging sheets. Ella hadn't been exaggerating about the princess's inattentiveness, she didn't notice him until he was nearly atop her.

When she looked up surprise flashed through her expression but then a warm smile spread across her face and she turned toward the cabin. "Ella, you have a visitor."

There was audible rustling from inside the cabin as the prince dismounted and tied his horse to a tree branch; his breath caught when Ella appeared in the doorway. She wasn't wearing any finery, just a simple dress of a lovely robin-egg blue, with a white apron and a kerchief covering her hair, but she was the most beautiful sight he had seen in almost two weeks.

A glowing smile spread across her face. "Thomas."

"Hello, Ella," he greeted, moving toward her.

She bit her lip. "I didn't expect you so soon."

He came to a stop a couple of feet in front of her. "Well, I wanted to see if there was any way I could help in preparing your home."

"What is it with the men in your family being willing to be put to work?" A tall dark haired woman in a scarlet skirt was leaning in the doorway, smirking at him.

Ella rolled her eyes. "Thomas, this is Redell. Red, Prince Thomas."

"Red" straightened up and curtseyed, but there was amusement in her eyes as she did so. "Your Majesty."

He nodded his head, eyebrow raised. "So you are the infamous Red that I've heard so much about from Ella, Snow and James."

The dark haired woman gave a mocking bow. "I try." She began turning to go back inside. "If you know how to use a hammer, the hinge on that shutter over there," she pointed at the object in question, "could be reattached." She sauntered inside, calling over her shoulder. "Ella, get back in here and sit down for a few minutes. Doc'll have our heads if you stress your ankle too much."

The blond gave a put-upon sigh before grinning at him. "Thank you," she whispered, squeezing his hand as she passed him.

A warmth blossomed in his heart and he couldn't have stopped the smile that spread across his face if he'd tried. "You're welcome."

With one last shy grin she followed the taller woman inside.

"You should feel flattered."

He turned at the laughing tone behind him. "Why's that?" he questioned the Everland Princess.

She shook out a sheet before beginning to clip it to the line. "Red rarely takes to anyone so quickly." Her eyes were dancing with laughter.

"Well, don't I feel special," he remarked drolly as he pulled off his jacket to hang it on the horn of his saddle.

Snow laughed softly; she bit her lip, staring at the linen in her hands with a little more attention than necessary. "I thought that you might be in Agrabah, at the gala."

Thomas shook his head as he rolled up his sleeves, moving over to the tool box sitting by the sagging shutter. "I try to avoid going there whenever possible."

The princess raised both eyebrows at him. "Why?"

Rummaging through the tool box he grimaced. "Because every time I see Sultan he tries to set me up with his daughter." He looked at her over his shoulder. "And while I like Jasmine well enough, I don't want to marry her. That would be like…" he turned back around to the tool box while he considered how to put it, "like shooting myself in the foot with an arrow."

Snow gave a choked laugh. "That's quite a…vivid picture."

He snorted. "As I said I like Jasmine, but she's too…temperamental for my sanity. And she has something against any man her father is trying to set her up with."

She laughed softly. "I don't remember much about her from when we were children; I'll have to become reacquainted with her someday."

He paused in pulling back the hammer for the first strike, contemplating the image that presented. "You know, that thought scares me… The two of you meeting again."

They worked in silence for several moments, Thomas waiting for the inevitable questions.

She cleared her throat. "So, does Sultan try to set James up with her?"

"He used to." He began to mentally pick his words carefully, unsure of how much she knew of the "Midas situation".

"But he hasn't since Midas's proposal for a marriage between James and Abigail."

Well, that settled that. "Right."

"James told me," she explained.

A thick silence fell again.

Snow's voice thin when she spoke again. "Have you heard from him?"

Thomas felt a pang of sympathy for her. "Very little, only a couple of notes."

"Oh." She clipped what he thought was a table cloth to the line. "Is he well?"

"He doesn't say," he told her between sharp raps of the hammer. "Which means 'no'."

When she didn't say anything he looked over his shoulder to see her staring off into the distance, wringing the fabric in her hands unnecessarily. In that moment, seeing the momentarily unguarded pain in her eyes, Thomas wanted to grab his brother and drag him back to Everland by the ear, demanding he set this right.

Snow shook herself and returned to her work.

Oh, yes, James was going to be hearing from him. And when they broke for lunch he found out he wasn't the only one.

Red grabbed him by the arm as he was passing her to go to inside, and she discreetly pulled them just out of earshot of the other two women.

He raised an inquiring eyebrow. "Is there something you need?"

"Yes." Her mouth was set in a grim line. "I need you to tell your brother to pull his head from wherever he has it stuck and at least send Snow a letter. Because if he allows her to continue in this agony, I don't care if he's a royal, I will run him through myself."

Both of his eyebrows shot up. "I'll let him know."


With the fierce look on the dark haired woman's face, Thomas found himself exceedingly glad not to be his brother.


Later that evening before sunset, they were gathered in Granny and Red's, for the moment, quiet kitchen, mostly so that Thomas and Ella could have some chaperoned, but relatively alone private time.

"There was something I wanted to discuss with you." Ella brought the tome of fables that Thomas had given her to rest on her lap.

He leaned closer to her. "What is it?"

She cracked the book open and flipped through the pages to a particular one and showed it to him. "I take it that you're familiar with the Legend of the Sea?"

"A little," he joked.

She grinned at him, resting her hands on the pages and leaning her head closer to his; her eyes cut momentarily to Snow before looking back at the prince next to her. "Have you ever heard of the legend about how Everland was born?"

He shrugged. "No."

Her grin grew wider.


"What are they talking about?" Red was staring at the couple bent over the book with a frown.

Snow kept her head bent over the wrap she was embroidering the edge of for Aurora as a birthday present. "Nothing that is our business," she said dryly, knowing where this was leading.

"He's sitting very close to her."

The princess rolled her eyes, looking up at her friend. "They are being entirely appropriate." She shifted her hold on the fabric. "You're being very protective of Ella, since you haven't known her that long, even more so than you were of me."

Red frowned. "You can easily hold your own with any man; Ella is much younger and sweeter and more innocent."

"I thought you liked Thomas," Snow quietly pointed out.

Red looked back down at the sock she was darning. "I like him well enough…except when he is showing interest in my friend."

Snow shook her head, a wry grin pulling at her lips.


Thomas was looking at Ella with amused surprise-near-disbelief. "Seriously?"

Her eyes were dancing as she nodded. "That's the Everland's legend."

He turned his head to glance at the princess before looking back at the blond woman, laughter spilling out. "I wonder if James knows about this…"


Two days later

Thomas had had to leave the day before needing to see to several things back in Riverdon before he returned to Seaborn in five days. His visit had left Ella with a smile lingering on her face, which Snow was happy for, even as her own heart continued to ache painfully.

She was sitting on the bench that curved the whole way around the central fountain in the garden, her arms crossed atop the ledge with her chin resting on them, staring at the water cascading down.

"Two miserable, heartbroken faces in less than a week."

Her head whipped around at the smooth, measured cadence behind her and her lips quirked up.

Gaspard leaned easily on his cane. "I really don't enjoy seeing such things ever, but so close together…now that's quite depressing really."

She tilted her head to the side, giving him a look. "Does your commentary serve a purpose?"

He nodded his head. "It does." He moved to sit beside her. "I have just come from Agrabah."

This got Snow's attention. "You were there for the gala?"

"Indeed," he nodded easily, his gaze watchful on her. "I happened upon a certain prince while I was there."

Snow's breath caught. "How is he?" She didn't bother pretending not knowing whom he meant.

Gaspard's eyes remained trained on her. "As distracted and hurting as a beloved friend of mine."

Tears pricked her eyes.

"And," he continued, "he asked that I pass on a message to you."

She sat up straighter, very interested. "What is it?"

He looked up thoughtfully. "He said to tell you that what he told you about his dreams is still true." He looked back down at her.

The ache in her heart, for the first time since James rode off, eased a bit. A small, but genuine, smile lifted her lips. "Thank you, Gaspard."

He bowed his head. "My pleasure, Snow."


Gaspard watched Snow out of the window in Granny's kitchen; she was reading a book to a group of children. Sophie, the smallest, was in her lap while the rest of the children were clustered around her as close as possible.

"She looks better than she did only this morning," Red commented from beside him.

"But not entirely," he quietly countered.

"No," she agreed.

They stood just watching the princess for several moments.

"What did he say?" Red finally turned to look at him.

Gaspard sighed, tapping his cane softly on the floor. "Other than a personal message for her, very little. What I could gather from his demeanor and what little he told me, he didn't really leave willingly." He looked at the dark haired woman beside him. "He loves her as much as she loves him, whether they've said it or not." He turned his head back to their friend outside. "But something is keeping him from returning to her, no matter how much he wants to."

"So you don't believe he's stringing her along?" Red asked; he knew she didn't really believe that was the case but she wanted reassurances.

"No," Gaspard confirmed definitively, "he's a man of honor. And somehow," he pressed his lips together, narrowing his eyes, "I think that might be part of the issue."



James, send her a gods blessed letter!

James had long ago learned that his younger brother only used oaths when he was particularly upset, annoyed…or angry. And from what his younger brother had written he had reason to be all of the above, in fact all of Snow's friends did. The letter had been waiting for him when he arrived home from Agrabah, though Thomas wasn't due back for another two days. James scanned the words again, he had notice woven between his brother's annoyance was the warmth and affection that had colored his writing of Ella; it was blindingly obvious that his little brother was falling in love with the young woman. James mentally wished him good luck before his eyes were once again caught by his brother's blunt words which echoed King Gaspard's own.

Her friends are worried sick…so am I…not smiling…distracted…hurting…What in the name of all that is good and holy were you thinking…make this right...Ella can't stop worrying…Red's angry…threatened to run you through herself…FIX THIS!

He lowered the letter to the railing of his balcony, lifting his gaze to stare out over the moonlit sea. He inwardly castigated himself over causing Snow such pain, hating himself for it. Rules of propriety and society be damned, Thomas was right. He needed to write to her, and try to at least reassure her; the question just became how to get the message to her…

That hurdle barely lasted a minute before his mind quickly came with a solution and a grin spread across his face as he moved over to his writing desk. He dipped the quill into the inkpot and prepared to pen the letter.

Dearest Snow,

King Gaspard and Thomas have told me that I hurt you. I am beyond sorry for any pain I have caused you. I would never have had you feel such hurt or doubt. It tears me in two to think of you in pain, and that I am the cause kills me. It was no fault of yours that I left Riverdon as I did, but of my own. If the way I left caused you to doubt, allow me to be plain, my feelings for you are unchanged, as are my wishes. I still want you and I want forever. You have my heart, always. I pray that my actions have not caused you to change your mind about me, though I could certainly not blame you if they have. If you are willing to forgive me, as soon as we can see each other again I promise to give you the explanation you deserve.

I miss you, Snow. I can hardly breathe from the ache to see you again. I don't know when that will be, but as soon as there is a chance, I will take it.

With all my heart,




For the first time since James rode off Snow felt a full, real smile spreading across her face. She still ached with missing him, but the words of his letter were a balm to the pain in her heart, easing it to a tolerable point. Her eyes went to the post script.

P.s. I know she's not a blue bird – Snow could hear his teasing tone in her head – but this dove can carry a message back to me, should you wish to send one. –His voice took on an insecure and pleading note.

She glanced over at the dove that was pecking up the crumbs of honey bread and sipping the water from the plates she had set out for it. Snow reached out a gentle finger to stroke along the bird's neck.

"Well, my girl, after a rest would you be up to carrying a letter back to him for me?"

The dove cooed an affirmation, bringing a smile to Snow's face. "Thank you." With a final affectionate stroke of a finger, the princess stood and went to her desk. Whimsically she propped the letter up where she could look at it, and then, dipping her quill in ink, set about a reply to her prince.

My dear James,

She looked down at the piece of paper for a moment, trying to find some words that at least sketched out what she wanted to say.

Please, find me when you can. Like you promised. And I will try to find a way to see you. I will expect a full explanation for everything.

I miss you all the time. I want my Prince Charming with me, now and always.

My heart is yours. Forever.

Your Snow



A warm smile curled James's lips as he finished reading Snow's letter. It was short, her words few, but it soothed the ache considerably and reassured him. Her simple "Your Snow" meant the world to him.

The dove, Rhiannon her name was according to Snow's post script, was fluttering off from the balcony toward the roost in one of the highest towers, where she and the other members of her flock lived. How his beloved found out the dove's name he didn't know but he didn't question the validity of her information either. She had as much of an affinity for animals as she had for children.

"I'll take it from that grin that it's good news."

James didn't bother to look over his shoulder at his brother, who was leaning back against the doorway to the balcony. "Nothing you need to know of, Little Brother."

The younger man gave a soft snort. "You two are far too obvious."

Turning to walk inside he cast his younger brother a look. "I believe that not too long ago you made a comment about a pot and a kettle?"

Thomas rolled his eyes following James inside. "I don't see why you don't just go and propose to her already?"

James stiffened, the glow that Snow's letter had put in his chest dimming a bit at the reminder of why they weren't together at that very moment. "There are things to deal with first," he told him tightly, as he tucked the letter away next to his heart.

"What 'things' could possibly be so important as to keep you from the woman you so obviously love?"

James lifted his eyes to stare out the window. "Something that I have to handle before I can propose to her."



"Well, there's something we haven't seen in far too long."

Snow looked over her shoulder at Red's teasing voice.

Ella rolled her eyes at Red's teasing before turning her gaze to the princess with a warm smile. "Nice to see your smile back." Her hands remained busy over the darning she was doing on some of the dwarves' clothing.

Red's eyes were dancing; she raised an eyebrow, her quill pausing over the figures she was going over for Granny's. "I wonder what could have brought it on?"

Snow turned back to where she was going over the menu for the week, her father and stepmother had begun having her handle more and more of the day-to-day running of the castle as well as working on the affairs of the kingdom at-large. She bit her lip, trying to contain her grin. "I have no idea what you mean."

Red's smirk was very broad. "You're a terrible liar Snow."

"And you are far too nosy," the princess countered, giving her friend a look.

The kettle over the fire let out a whistle; Ella went over to remove it from the flames and carried it over to their pot. "Ignore her, Snow." She poured the boiling water over the tea leaves. "She's just jealous that she doesn't have a love life to speak of and must live vicariously through us."

Snow turned to their friend with a wide grin, while the other woman rolled her eyes at both of them.

"As I said before, Ella, why on earth would I be jealous of you two? If those princes decide to get around to proposing to the two of you, you're both going to have your hands constantly full with handling kingdoms." She waved her hand at the princess beside her. "Snow'll have two."

Snow gave the other dark haired woman a droll look. "That's not what she meant, and you know it."

Red rose to fetch them mugs. "I have no interest in falling in love, Princess, I like my life just the way it is, thank you very much."

The other two women shared amused, secretive glances. "We'll see," Snow quietly murmured.



James was tired and just wanted to be home already. His father had sent him to deal with a dispute between two towns; it hadn't taken all that long really but he was just worn out. His soul yearned for the solace of the woman he loved, but he would settle for a cup of hot cocoa with cinnamon, a hot bath and a night's rest in his own bed. He had to force himself not to push his steed too hard, Cain had always served him well, and didn't deserve to be forced too hard after the last few days, though the animal seemed as eager as the prince to get home.

Up ahead a wagon was stopped at the side of the road with a man bent beside the horses.

Frowning, James pulled on the reins, forcing Cain to slow.

The small man looked up, hearing his approach; he moved to meet his approach, leaning heavily on a staff.

James and Cain stopped beside the man.

"Your pardon, sir," the man's brogue was thick, "but might I beg some aid?"

Not allowing himself to look longingly in the direction of home, the prince swung down from Cain's back. "What seems to be the problem?" He remained alert in case it was a set up.

The man led him over to the nearest horse; patting its neck. "She threw her shoe and I need help in unhitching her."

James glanced at him. "What about the wagon."

"Oh, I unloaded the goods in town and it's empty," the diminutive man assured him. "The other horse'll be able to bear it alone if we go slowly, but I need to get this one unhitched and tied to the back."

The prince gave a sigh. "Very well."

"My deepest thanks, sir." The man grinned at him revealing not the best-kept grin.

James set about unhitching the horse from the wagon with the man doing what he could.

"How did you manage to get the horses hitched up in the first place, if I might ask?"

"M'bu." There was obvious pride in the man's tone.

The younger man glanced up. "Your son?"

"Aye. He's a good lad, so helpful to me." The man tilted his head to the side. "You know I've been rude, I haven't introduced myself. Rumplestiltskin."

An unexplainable chill ran up James's spine at the name, but he hid it and accepted the handshake. "James," he stated simply, deciding it might be best not to impart to this man his royal status.

"Quite a pleasure, James," the man said genially. "I am most grateful for the help."

The prince had managed to free the horse from the wagon and led it away from it.

"Ah!" Rumplestiltskin gave a pleased grin, accepting the lead rope from James and leading the horse to the back of the wagon. "My thanks again, James."

"You're welcome." The prince nodded his head.

The small stranger tilted his head to the side thoughtfully. "You know, you're the spitting image of your father."

This stopped the prince dead. "Pardon?"

"James of Ashbury," Rumplestiltskin said simply. "Is that not your father?"

He eyed the older man warily. "No…"

"Oh, well," the man said frowning slightly, "my mistake then. You just look exactly like him. But he did die a long time ago and we never did see his wife Ruth again after that winter…"

James went still.

The stranger seemed to be lost in thought for a moment, but then his eyes refocused on James and he smiled. "Well, as I said, my mistake." He turned and climbed up onto the wagon.


"Yes, dearie?" the man inquired.

A wariness had settled into the prince's soul. "When did James of Ashbury die?"

"Ohhhh…" The man cast his gaze upward in thought. "Must've been…nearly thirty years ago… Yes," he smiled definitively "I remember it will be thirty years this fall. He and his wife Ruth hadn't been married even a year when he passed. One day toward the end of the winter she left the farm and never came back." He gave him a grin. "Quite mysterious." He lifted the reins. "Well, safe travels, James."

James nodded absently, not noticing the crafty gleam in the man's eyes as he urged the horse on.

It was several moments before he could rouse himself enough to mount Cain and continued on his way.

The whole rest of the way home his mind was fraught with thoughts of what Rumplestiltskin had told him.


The sun was low in the sky; shining directly through the west-facing stained glass windows and causing the tall bookshelves to cast long straight shadows across the mosaic floor of the library.

James slowly approached Belle's desk, seeing the young librarian bent over her ledgers, making marks and checking records. He came to a stop in front of her without her noticing his approach. Normally he would have taken advantage of her distraction but after meeting Rumplestiltskin on the road earlier he was out of his usual humor. He quietly cleared his throat.

Belle was still a bit startled as she looked up to find him standing there. "James!" She set her quill down. "What are you doing here? I thought that you were settling that dispute."

He lightly rested his fingertips on the desk's surface. "It didn't take that long to get things worked out," he explained. "I thought I'd come by and see you to your father's."

"Oh," she looked down at her ledgers, "I couldn't possibly get off early, I have far too much to do –"

"Belle," he softly interrupted, "it's nearly six."

She went still, eyes wide. "Is it?" She turned to look at the clock on the wall. "Goodness!" She pushed herself to her feet, quickly marking pages and closing books. "I had entirely lost track of the hour."

James stepped back, waiting for her to gather her things. "So I noticed," he gently teased.

She shoved a couple of books into her bag before slinging the strap over her shoulder. "I was just trying to make sure I had received all of the books that I wanted to send to Riverdon." She moved around the desk and began walking toward the door, James keeping pace beside her. "There's just so many."

"You know you don't have to rebuild the library all at once," he reminded her. "Thomas fully expects it takes a few years, probably at least most of his lifetime really."

"I know," the librarian acknowledged. "But you know me."

He cast her a wry grin. "That I do."

She eyed him as they made their way through the halls. "You're very quiet today, James."

He glanced at her briefly. "Tired," he told her simply. "It's been a long few days."

Sharp brown eyes narrowed. "No, not just that. Something's troubling you."

He frowned, always unnerved at how well she read him. "I have some things on my mind."

Belle was frowning, obviously not satisfied with his explanation, but nodded and looked back forward.

"How's your father doing?" the prince asked. "Is he settling in well?"

An affectionate smile spread across her face. "You know Papa. If he has room to tinker he's happy." She turned to him with a wide smile. "You've become one of his favorite people by making it his job to invent and giving him such free rein."

James chuckled softly. "Whatever makes him happy. Besides, the occasional disturbance that he brings around here keeps things interesting."

She rolled her eyes. "Only you would call nearly blowing up part of the castle an 'occasional disturbance' and consider it 'amusing'."

He gave her a charming grin. "The fact that he has these 'mishaps' usually when my father starts bothering me about something endears them to me."

She gave a light laugh. "Noticed that, have you?"

James smirked. "Tell him he as my thanks."

"I'll do that." She grinned.

They had reached the door to the apartments she shared with her father.

"Belle," he stopped, turning to face her, "I have a favor to ask."

Her head canted to the side, one corner of her lips quirking up wryly. "I thought you might."

He gave her a self-deprecating grin. "That transparent am I?"


"Good to know," he chuckled.

She looked at him inquiringly. "So, what can I do?"

"I was wondering if you could help me go through some records tomorrow?"

"Of course. What do you need?"

"Just some from about thirty years ago."


Two days later King George was pouring over reports and maps, and Queen Ruth was working on the household ledgers when James came into the study.

He stood in the doorway for a moment observing his parents before clasping his hands behind his back and clearing his throat.

Both monarchs looked up.

"James," his mother's voice was warm.

"Son," his father greeted in his usual tone.

"Father. Mother. May I have a word with you both?"

The king and queen glanced at each other at their son's tone; they both set aside what they were working on and turned their full attention to him.

"What is it, son?" the king inquired.

James closed the doors firmly behind him before clasping his hands behind his back again. "Two days ago as I returned home I came across a man on the road to whom I rendered some assistance."

The monarchs nodded, not seeing where this was going but letting him know they were listening.

"I only told him that my name was James, not that I was Prince James. After I had helped him he commented that I was 'the spitting image' of my father."

His parents went still.

James's sharp eyes took in their reactions. "Now, we all know that David and I don't resemble Father at all and when I asked him what he meant. He repeated that I looked just like my father…James of Ashbury."

His mother's expression became stricken while his father's was stony.

"James…" Ruth's voice was barely a whisper.

"And then," James continued, turning his attention fully to his mother, "he told me that James of Ashbury was married to a woman named Ruth."

All color drained from her face.

"When I asked he informed me that James of Ashbury died thirty years ago this coming fall and his wife, Ruth disappeared toward the end of the winter." He included both of his parents in his gaze. "Around that same time, you, Father, brought Mother here and shortly thereafter married her." His eyes narrowed. "Then David and I were born less than six months after that…"

His parents looked at each other before turning back to him.

"James," his mother began again, her voice a bit stronger.

"I want the truth." James moved forward, closer to them.

"This is pointless," King George snapped, he pushed himself impatiently to his feet, striding over to James and stopping in front of him. "I have raised you and loved you as my son. That is all that matters." He glanced at the Queen and then spun on heel, leaving the room.

The queen and her son remained in silence for several moments.

James lifted his eyes to Ruth. "Mother?"

Ruth took a deep breath and stood, managing to cast her son a smile. "I feel like taking a walk, would you mind escorting me, son?"

He raised an eyebrow but offered his arm to her, which she accepted.


"King George is your father in all the ways that matter, James; as he was to David." Ruth's hand rested on his easily as they made their way leisurely along the beach. "But one."

"He isn't our birth father," James stated.

"No," she quietly confirmed. "Your birth father was James of Ashbury. When he died I didn't even know I was pregnant yet; according to the physician I couldn't have been more than a week or so along."

He gazed at her watchfully. "He never knew he was to be a father."

"No." She shook her head. "It was an accident; the horse he was riding spooked, his neck broke and he died instantly."

James could hear her pain in the tightness of her voice.

"Your birth father was a good man; a farmer and shepherd." She looked up at her son. "And he was the love of my life; my true love."

He looked down at her, a bit surprised.

"The ring I gave you. Your birth father gave it to me; it had been in his family for generations; he always said that true love follows that ring. It was passed from parent to the first child to be married, whether it be to the son to be given to his wife, or the son-in-law to be given to the daughter. But it always stayed with someone of that bloodline."

James pressed a hand to where the ring hung, the small item he intended to give his beloved taking on a whole new meaning.

"When your father died…" She looked down, shaking her head. "A large part of me just wanted to give up and join him. But then…" her head lifted again to gaze at him, love shining in her eyes, "I found out I was pregnant and I knew I could go on; that I could live."

Her son managed a smile, before tilting his head to the side. "How did you come to be…" he wasn't sure how to word what he meant.

"How George and I met?" she offered. At his nod she smiled. "That winter was a hard one; I was already under a great deal of stress because I had no idea how we were going to survive without your father. I didn't know how we were going to get the crop in the ground of the sheep properly cared for; I was sure we would lose the farm." She took a deep breath. "There was a terrible blizzard. Soon after it struck there was a knock on my door, much to my surprise. When I opened it a man stood there; he begged me for shelter for himself and his horse through the storm. Naturally I was wary of agreeing, being a woman alone, but he offered to pay me well for the stay and I couldn't turn down the money. The storm lasted four days; during that time I soon realized that my guest, he'd introduced himself simply as 'George', wasn't a common man. I thought that he might be a well-born merchant, but didn't feel I had the right to pry. One night I was feeling the stress and grief especially and broke down; I ended up telling him everything, all of my problems and my pains. After listening to it all he confided that he had lost his wife less than a year earlier and had been on his way home from one of his many trips that he took to distract himself from missing her. Once the storm broke he thanked and paid me and then left. I never expected to see him again."

"But you did," James prodded.

Ruth nodded. "Indeed. One day, a week or so later, he came riding up to my home, but now there was no mistaking who he was, so you can imagine my shock." She gave him a wry smile. "He told me that he had a proposition. He needed an heir, but since he and his wife were married for several years and never had a child he couldn't be sure the he'd be able to produce one. He proposed that we marry; he would claim my child as his own. He offered me respect and companionship, and for my child to love and raise them as his own. I accepted." She pulled them to a stop, bringing her son to face her. "When you and David were born we were both so happy. He was thrilled to not only have one son but two. He kept his promise and loved you both as his own."

"And Thomas?"

"Your father and I weren't in love, but we came to care for each other over time. Thomas is an expression of those feelings."

James turned his head to gaze out at the sea. "I would think he'd want to make it so that his own flesh and blood sat upon his throne."

Ruth tugged on his arm, bringing his attention back to her. "I told you, James, your father loves you and David as his own, always has. He was all the happier to have another son, but even if there had been a way to place Thomas on the throne your father wouldn't have. He's always thought of you and David as his own, regardless of what blood runs in your veins." She continued to look into the tumult raging in her son's eyes. She rose on her toes to gently kiss his cheek. "I'll leave you to your thoughts, my son."

James watched her go until he saw that she was safely back in the castle; he then turned his attention back to the sea, watching the waves rushing in and out. He felt adrift in a storm without an anchor, and he didn't know how to regain his bearings.


James moved silently down the darkened halls. It was the dead of night and the staff, save for the guard, were asleep along with his parents and brother. He felt a twinge of remorse at leaving like he was but he knew that his father wouldn't be too pleased with his intentions and he really didn't need to deal with him at the moment. He had reached the kitchen door and went in.

Thomas and Liam were sitting in chairs at the counter.

He went still. "What are you both doing up?" Trying to discreetly obscure the bag he was carrying from their sights.

"Well," his brother began drolly, "I'm here to wish you a safe journey and to tell you to get back here as soon as you feel ready. And Liam," he turned to the general who was rising from his seat, "is determined to go with you."

The elder prince pressed his lips together. "Neither needs to worry about me." He turned to make his way to the door.

"James, I know."

The emphasis Thomas placed on the last word brought James to a dead stop and had him turning to face his now standing younger brother. "Both of you?" his eyes flicked to his general.

"No," Liam denied.

Thomas was also shaking his head. "Mother told me, but I thought it best that you decide whom to tell and how."

James's eyes went to his general who had stepped forward.

"I know that you found out something that has shaken you," his friend stated plainly. "My first loyalty has always been to you, James, not only as my prince, but first, and foremost, as my friend. And I will do what I can to help you now, as your friend."

Thomas stepped forward. "I'm going to see to it that you get the time you need to sort this all out for yourself." He stopped beside his elder brother. "We need you back whole and ready to do what needs to be done."

James raised an eyebrow. "And Mother and Father?"

His younger brother smirked. "Mother'll understand. Father…let me worry about him for once."

They stared at each other for a moment, and then James pulled his brother into a tight hug. "Thank you, Little Brother."

"I'm just trying to make sure that you do what you need to, Big Brother."

They pulled apart. "Take care of yourself," James instructed him sternly.

The younger man nodded. "You do the same."

The young heir of Riverdon then stood back and watched as his brother and the general slipped out the kitchen door and quickly disappeared into the dark. He blew out a breath, glancing at the clock and heading to his room. Tomorrow was going to be a long day; the first of many, because as much as his brother thought he could deal with the revelation on his own, Thomas knew better and was already concocting a plan.


"What do you mean he left?"

Thomas didn't even blink at his father's sharp demand. "James left last night to take some time away to…absorb what he discovered."

In his fist the king clenched the letter from James that Thomas had handed him. "He just ran off?"

The prince cast his eyes heavenward, begging for patience. "No, he didn't just 'run off', he's taking the time and space he needs to deal with what he found out. He told you that he'd be back after the solstice." His eyes flicked to his mother, who was sitting off to the side, staring down at her hands, worry lining her face.

George scoffed. "David never –"

"James isn't David, Father." Thomas's voice was sharp. "As much as you tend to forget that fact." The young prince's eyes were locked with his father's, not permitting himself to back down. "And don't say that he's being irresponsible or ignoring his responsibilities. That's not possible for James." Thomas moved to stand before his father. "When David died James stepped up to the position placed on him without complaint. Because he loved us he saw to it that we were able to grieve, even at the cost of being able to take that time for himself. Right now, all he's doing is trying to take time, time that he won't have once he's married and on the throne, to get himself sorted out, and getting away so that he can do so without the pressures and constant distractions here."

"Where is he?" George demanded tightly.

His son shrugged. "I don't know. He left with Liam last night, but didn't say where he was going."

The king stalked over to stare out one of the windows.

Silence reigned in the room for several moments.

Finally Thomas broke it. "I'm leaving tomorrow to go to Riverdon for a while, and I'm taking Belle with me."

George frowned at him over his shoulder. "Whatever for?"

"Belle has received a large order of books for the library and I have some matters that I want to attend to there. I'll be back a couple of days before the solstice," he assured his father. The summer solstice was the largest celebration for Seaborn in the entire year, which was a major part of the reason the king had been especially upset at James being gone for it. The elder prince hadn't missed a single one, so while it would be considered odd, most people would be quite willing to forgive the "transgression".

"Must you go so soon?"

Thomas turned to his mother, who was visibly further upset at the announcement of his going. "I'm sorry, Mother, but I must," he told her apologetically.

She nodded, lowering her head once more, obviously worrying over both of her sons.

The prince moved over to take his mother's hand; she looked up at him. "Don't fret, Mother." He gave her a warm smile. "I'll be back soon enough and James won't be gone all that long."

She managed a wan smile, placing a hand against his cheek. "Thank you, my son." She kissed his cheek lovingly. "Go on," she urged.

Thomas cast one last look at his father's stubbornly straight back before leaving the room to finish packing.


So, in this chapter we have both Jasmine and Rumple making the scene! They were both so much fun to write! :D I'm going to get to work on the next chapter of Hot Chocolate now, but I should be starting on the next chapter of this very soon! :D Thank you for reading and please let me know what you think!

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