A/N: Well, chapter 1 has turned out to be a bit longer than I first planned. Initially it was going to be another purely Graham / Fairytale Land chapter, but then a natural sort of break in the story occurred and rather than posting another chapter were actually not a lot happens, I decided to add in a bit of the "Real World", to set the scene for Emma and Henry. Hope that its not too disjointed. Comments are always welcome!


The Company of Wolves.

Chapter 1: Down by the Riverside.

The mud was frozen for the most part. Dirt hard-packed and stone-like, smothered by the ice and snow and offering a solid -if a somewhat slippery- surface for his unsteady legs to travel across. But there were other parts of the forest floor -that his feet found when he was not looking down or paying attention- that were quagmireish. Full of peaty waters that sucked at his boots and ankles, trying to swallow him down into a boggish belly. As if Death himself were out to reclaim him for the grave…and perhaps he was. Graham had somehow cheated him out of another soul for the count after all.

He should be dead and yet he wasn't; and that puzzled him. But, right then, he was far too cold -his mind fogged by it- to come to any sort of conclusion; rational or fantastical or otherwise. He would abandon any attempts at thinking on it until he figured out where the hell he was at least, and had found some sort of shelter against the biting, unrelenting wind that threatened a blizzard was not far off.

Oh, of course he'd realised that he was back in the Enchanted Kingdom a little while after he'd woken (blurry-eyed and reeling as if he'd drunk a skin-full the night before), once he'd regained enough sense and coherence to understand that he wasn't dead after all, but lying on his back in the depths of an unfamiliar part of the forest. There were no landmarks that looked even slightly familiar, and whether that was because he just didn't remember this place after being saturated with Storybrooke, with cars and diners and technology, he could not tell.

Despite his disorientation, there was a distinctly familiar taint to the air. A sharpness that spiked through his senses, that laced through the wind, thrilling with magic, making the hairs upon the back of his neck prickle and rise in a manner that had nothing to do with the cold and how it made him shiver. It was comforting and strange in the same instance. Yes, he had definitely returned 'home'…or at least the place that he had called home once…before…

The truth of it was that he wasn't entirely certain if he was grateful for being spared or not. He wasn't entirely sure if he wouldn't rather be back, curse and all, in Storybrooke. At least he had not been alone there. What was the point in it all? What was the point in him being alive and returned to the emptiness of the Enchanted Lands? What good was he here, while everyone else remained in Storybrooke? Was it his punishment? Perhaps he was dead after all and this was his hell.

His feet sank again suddenly, snared in the viscous ground and he went down (as he had upon a regular basis since first beginning his blind walking) like a sack of bricks; the breath leaving him in a sickly 'whoosh' that made his lungs feel leaden. And he lay still for a long moment, tired of the struggle to right himself yet again, his energy seeping from his limbs as fast as the cold crept in. His mind was running away with him again, pondering over the why's and the how's when he'd promised himself that he wouldn't. He needed to focus. His memories as Huntsman were still a sluggish unfurling in his brain, still slow in coming. He remembered, but he didn't quite understand a lot of it. The modern day man in him, who had lived 28 years in the other world, recoiled from being thrown head first back into nature. He wasn't cut out for this! But something primal in him told him to keep going, keep striving, that there was some purpose for him. Told him that bogs and mires meant that he was getting closer to a source of water, and a source of water meant food at best, a stream or river to follow out of the forest at worst.

That was his plan for the moment then. Shelter. Food. Out of the forest. And after that? Well, that was enough to be getting on with for the moment.

His instincts having been correct, Graham reached the banks of what once had been a wide river -swathing it's way through the very heart of the forest- after an hour or so more of struggling through the undergrowth. It was frozen now, almost solid save for the very middle, where the current was no doubt strong and constant preventing the ice from forming for too long. He couldn't cross it at this point without plummeting through and into the water. The cold would certainly kill him then, whereas if he travelled further down the bank in search of a bridge it only might kill him.

That drew a grim, humourless smirk up at the corner of his lips.

It had never before been this cold in the land of Fairytale. The wind had never howled so harsh and relentless, so cruelly. It only added more questions, more riddles to his list of the unanswered…

It was partially to stop thinking again and partially to keep moving, an attempt to keep warm, that he lurched back into motion abruptly, turning down river and quickening his pace to a jog now that there were thankfully no tree roots or sink-holes to trip him, hot breath leaving his lips in smoky plumes.


"I miss him."

Emma hastily swiped at her eyes with the heel of her free palm, the one not wedged vice tight beneath her elbow. She took a deep breath before she turned to the speaker.

Henry's own eyes were rimmed red and puffy, shimmering with the threat of more tears. He bit his lip to keep from crying though, perhaps for her sake, and moved across to where she stood in the shadow of the church, watching the group dressed all in sombre black.

Emma couldn't quite find voice to respond to him, but she nodded instead and squeezed his hand tightly -small, warm and comforting as it was- when Henry slipped it up into hers.

She'd not owned anything black…well, not anything suitable for a funeral anyway and Mary-Margaret was at least two sizes smaller than she was, despite batting away that point when Emma raised it and offering her a dress anyway. And so Emma had hung back where there was less chance of her being seen wearing her trademark red leather and jeans and knee-high boots. Somehow she was sure that Graham wouldn't have minded though. Hell, he probably would've seen it as more rebellion and grinned.

It almost made her chuckle. Almost. But it fell flat in the back of her throat before it could escape into the air, instead coming as something that sounded a good deal more strangled and tremulous and Henry turned his face into the sleeve of her arm as he heard it. They watched from afar the casket lowering down, down, six foot deep into the ground.

"This wasn't how it was supposed to happen," his voice was high with emotion and muffled by her arm, but Emma heard him anyway.

"No, it wasn't." she agreed. "But these things do happen. We can't stop them." She paused for a breath, to quell the upset in her own voice before she continued. She was trying to make him feel better after all, not using him to offload her emotional baggage. "Dr. Whale said they did everything they could, but his heart-"

"No." Henry interrupted. She sensed him frowning, his fist tightened in hers as if he was angry. Kids dealt with things -traumatic things- in many different ways. If anger was Henry's way of coping, then she wasn't going to stop him. Let him get it out. Let him take it out on her, because damn but she felt like she deserved it.

"No," he repeated again. "Everything was supposed to get better when you came."

Ah. So that was what this was about.

She opened her mouth, hesitant to say anything because she did not want her upset, her anger at Graham's death to come out seeming like it was aimed at Henry. None of this was his fault either and her days of coping through throwing around rage and blame were long behind her. So she hesitated a moment longer before offering a careful, "Maybe I'm not who you think I am, after all. Maybe I'm not the one who can break your curse."

That seemed to affect the boy worse than anything she could have said to him in anger and he shot back from her, hand leaving her grip as if she'd burned him. His frown wavered between desperation and desolation.

"Don't say that!" he snapped, arms clamped to his sides, fists balled. "Please, please, don't say that you don't believe again…"

Emma's heart clenched to see his face to contorted with emotions too numerous to name, it ached just as it ached for poor Graham and -selfishly- for what she'd lost not a few days before.

"Henry," it came as a sigh from her lips as she reached for him but there was another voice calling for him, breaking through the tension and their conversation, drawing their eyes up and towards her.

Regina came no closer to them than calling distance. Pointedly, she did not look at Emma.

"Better go, Kid." Emma muttered, she couldn't deal with the Mayor and her manipulation. Not today, she didn't have heart for it. Henry nodded once. "I'll see you soon?"

Again Henry only nodded, but he did hug her, crossing back across the space between him and wrapping his skinny arms as tightly as he could manage about her middle.

"We'll figure it out." He told the fabric of her shirt. "We'll figure it all out another day." When they were both stronger, he meant. Wise boy. "I'm sorry about Sheriff Graham."

And then he turned and ran away from Emma, back to Regina where her outstretched hand was waiting to grasp his shoulder securely when he did not take it in his own hand. She shepherded him into the waiting black mayoral car with it's tinted windows and high polished chrome and then they were gone.

Emma looked down at the small, wet patch that his tears had left on her, rubbed at it with the tips of her fingers as if that would dry it out and wipe away the pain that had caused them both. Her own tears started falling unhindered.

"Me too, Kid."

Damn it, Graham…


Graham jolted awake so suddenly that he felt as though he'd been shot. Eyes wide and immediately searching he scanned his surroundings (he'd settled down a little way inside the fringe of the forest in the hollow of a dead tree to keep out of the wind for the night), hunting for the source of his disturbance.

He could've sworn that he'd heard his name…

The sound came again then, louder and closer than the one that had served to wake him and Graham froze. Perhaps it was merely an animal, lost and confused in the blizzard (that seemed thankfully to have blown itself out for the moment). Perhaps it was someone else, a survivor like him…

His eyes strained through the night and damn but he wished desperately that there had been a moon out, or at the very least stars. His wishing was for naught however, besides which, their smell gave them away. A smell that even 28 years of modern-day living with soap and shower gel and aftershave could not erase.

They smelt of soil, musty and old, of stale air and clay and bone-dust. The kind of smell that clung to your clothes and skin after visiting a dead relative to lay flowers in their crypt. The kind of smell that you scrubbed your skin raw to remove. They smelt of the very bowels of the earth itself. They smelt of death and that was what told him that he'd been looking too high, that he'd been foolishly searching for something the size and shape of a man when these creatures were no kind or kin of men.

It didn't take his eyes long to seek them out after that.



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