Red rushed over and placed the cloak over the wolf, nearly unconscious with exhaustion.
Red watched as the cloak sizzled over the wolf, wondering whom her rescuer was...
He breathed, and Red pulled the hood back, surprised to see her friend, Jiminy- the ginger haired thief she had met not a week before!
What was he doing here?
“Are you ok?” she asked, helping him to sit up.
His strength returning rapidly, Jiminy nodded.
He tried not to blush as he looked at Red, still as beautiful as when he’d seen her last... then realized something. Red was Liza?!
Pushing aside his fury at the imp for his craftiness, Jiminy turned to Red.
“Are you alright?” he asked, his husky voice sending shivers down Red’s spine.
Suddenly Red felt pressure as if something was broken.
She could feel her skirt was wet, yet it wasn’t due to the snow.
Red was alarmed as her stomach contracted, her mind telling her to push...
She needed help, but how? Peter was dead...
Jiminy noticed Red’s face contort into fear and pain.
Instantly his protective instincts kicked in...
“Red, are you alright?”
“Jiminy ... the baby is coming.... it’s time!”
Uh oh he thought. he didn’t know anything about babies, but he knew she needed help, and fast.
Jiminy looked around the area and noticed that the well near Widow Lucas’ cottage was about two to three yards away.
That meant that Widow Lucas was about three and a half yards off.
Jiminy looked at Red and realized the only way to het her home was to carry her...
Dear Jesus give me strength he prayed as his resolve hardened.
No matter how much this was Peter’s fault, he was dead now... the responsibility fell to Jiminy to protect Ruby and keep her safe.
Like Boaz and Ruth before them, it now fell to Jiminy to become Red's guardian... they were in no way kin, but nevertheless...
“I humbly beg your pardon, Liza, but up you go...”
Red gasped as Jiminy hoisted her effortlessly into his arms, despite the fact she was eight months pregnant.
Jiminy was surprised Red was as light as a feather... he’d expected her to be much heavier...
regardless, Jiminy held Red close to his chest, hoping the wolf magic in his veins would keep her and the baby warm.
“Whatever you do, Red, you must not push”
Red looked at him, grinning as she winced in pain.
“I won’t” she promised, snuggling into his coat, his chest warm and his arms strong and steady around her... she could get used to this.
“Thank you for saving our lives” she murmured.
“Save your strength, Red. you’ll be home soon” Jiminy smiled as his ears turned red.
In maneuvering through the snow and brush, Jiminy didn’t once drop Red.
He tried not to think about it, but she was so beautiful, so light in his arms...
Widow Lucas looked out the window, Snow White having run back and revealed that Red had been captured by a pack of wolves.
That didn’t make much sense to Granny, but she prayed to the Good Lord that if it be true, someone would come to her rescue...
Granny gasped and opened the door. the man whom had just bellowed her name looked awfully familiar...
She turned to Snow White, “Quick! Get Red’s gown ready, some blankets, a warm towel, and start up some strong tea...”
"Granny?" Snow whimpered.
"Now!" the old woman hollered.
Snow did as told, wondering what was going on...
Granny threw open the door allowing the stranger to pass her with her freezing granddaughter.
Granny noticed the youth’s ginger hair and remembered... she used to give food and care to him when he was just a mop of red curls...
How had he known...? Granny shook her head. There was no time to think, but this had the makings of a certain imp all over it...
“Good to see you, Jim lad” she nodded curtly.
Jiminy flushed. “Should I...?”
Red was dozing.... she’d have to wake up soon...
Granny nodded, leading him to the back bedroom.
Snow had just finished with the tea, and rushed into the room.
“Granny, I... oh, good day”
Jiminy nodded at Snow politely, and excused himself.
Granny gave Snow a look.
"What?" the princess asked.
“Stay with her and see she’s kept warm.”
Snow nodded and turned to Red who’d been woken up by Granny.
“Jim?” Granny asked.
Jiminy turned from his place at the hearth. Granny could see the worry and care in his expressive blue eyes, and was pleased for Red’s sake.
“She’s alright for now, what I need to know is when her stomach clenched the first time.”
Jiminy visibly relaxed and thought...
“Near an hour ago, if not more” he flushed.
Granny smirked. “That’ll do, Jiminy... that’ll do”
“Now, did those rats teach you how to stone a knife?”
Jiminy allowed a smile to come to his lips.
“No ma’am” he said, “you did”
Granny nodded. “Good answer”
She handed him a knife and a stone.
“Red’s friend Mary will be back for that” Jiminy nodded, taking them.
“There’s a strong pot of tea in the kettle...” she eyed him and winked.
Jiminy nodded and flushed again.
He wasn’t given to drink, but perhaps the alcohol laced tea would help ignore his agony as Red lay screaming in pain.
"What do we do?" Snow asked.
"You hold her hand and wipe her brow... I’ll do the rest" Granny said in an obvious tone.
Snow frowned. She felt almost as if Granny didn't trust her.
"Alright Red, you’re already starting to crown, dear... hopefully this won’t take long." Granny said, rolling up her sleeves and sat herself in front of Red on the chore stool.
"What...does that...mean?" Red panted, fear in her voice and features.
Granny smiled. “The head is coming”
Snow and Red gasped.
"Alright, girl... when I say, get ready to push!"
Red pushed... and screamed.
At Red’s first scream, Jiminy jumped.
He supposed it was normal, but he didn’t like the idea of women in pain...
His nerves on edge, he started to pace...
"Granny, is the baby here yet?" Snow asked, feeling the after effects of Red’s third push. Her hand hurt.
“Not yet Snow” Granny growled lowly.
“Alright, Red. I need you to push for me again..."
"Granny I...can’t" Red sobbed.
"You must! We’ve nearly got its head out, now push, girl, push!"
Red clenched again and let out a holler.
Snow, in having her hand released, forgot about her office and soothed her aching appendages.
Upon seeing her granddaughter drenched in sweat and clenching the fabric of the sodden sheets beneath her, Granny frowned harshly.
“Go on, get out you little fool” Granny growled. “Go and get the knife from Jim, I'll be needing it shortly”
Snow, hurt and confused, went to do as the matron asked.
It wasn't that she didn't want to be there for Red, but in the span of time that she'd known her, Snow had witnessed her friend married, and pregnant with a child... two things Snow had come to desire desperately.
Before Regina took control of the kingdom, when her father, King Leopold was still alive, Snow had no shortage of suitors and diplomats, royalty pining for her hand.
Now that they were in fear of Regina, or in her pay, Snow had lost those liberties and was now running for her life!
It just wasn't fair!
She found 'Jim' not pacing in the common room, but out of doors splitting firewood.
“Jim? Jim! Granny needs you!”
Jiminy, slightly confused on how the girl in white knew his pet name, glanced in her direction.
He wiped his brow of perspiration, his shirt slightly undone and dirty, despite being in the snow.
He placed the axe down wiping his brow, as he caught his breath, his chest slightly exposed.
Jiminy glanced at the girl, who blushed.
He shook his head and smirked. Being a princess it was obvious she wasn’t exposed to men very often.
“She needs me, or the knife she entrusted in my care?”
Snow blinked. “The knife, please. Red is almost finished.”
Jiminy breathed a sigh of relief. If he had to listen to Red scream in pain one last time, he would go mad.
Jiminy studied the girl. She seemed a bit uncomfortable.
He supposed it was due to her friend having been married, now a widow, and was at this moment giving birth to her firstborn child.
Jiminy smiled at her, giving her the knife safely.
“Your day will come, your highness... and on that day Red will be the most jubilant of your supporters”
once she had the knife, he stood back.
“Bear in mind, this is her day... she needs you now more than ever."
Snow wasn’t sure why, but something about this man slightly unnerved her; it was as if his timeless blue eyes could see into her soul...
They both turned at the sound of Red’s last keening cry and then the cry of an infant.
Snow, unsure what to do, returned the knife to Jiminy and ran off.
Jiminy stood staring after her, concern etched on his features.
“Mary! get in here! I need that knife!”
Jiminy jumped to attention and met Granny outside the door.
“Jim? where’s Mary?”
Jiminy, feeling terrible he couldn’t talk the princess into staying, shook his head.
Granny winced. this would hurt Red terribly...
“Ruby... is she...”
Granny, surprised at the youth for being so forward, raised an eyebrow and smiled slightly.
“Mama’s doing just fine, as is the little one... come n see for yourself”
Jiminy breathed a sigh of relief and a prayer of thanks as a tear coursed down his cheek; though he was not the expected father, he was relieved that Red and her child were healthy, warm, and safe.
At hearing a knock at the door, Jiminy grabbed a fire poker, and opened the door, to reveal Abel and Marie together, smiling at him.
“Abel?” he asked curiously, slightly skeptical.
“Actually it’s Reverend Valleyson. you remember my friend Marie Ferrin”
Jiminy nodded, a smile playing at his lips.
“Granny! the Reverend has come to call!”
Neither one noticed Widow Lucas roll her eyes.
Red smirked, holding the babe to her chest, covered by her shawl.
“Be nice, Granny” she muttered.
“Pish posh!” Granny hissed.
“Well, Reverend, what can I do for you?” Granny asked walking to the door.
Abel smirked. He’d dealt with the old woman before... she wasn’t an easy person to get to know.
“I’ve heard of the birth of your great grandchild and we’ve come to say congratulations”
Granny frowned harshly.
Ever since the reverend and his family arrived, her Sunday crowd had dwindled down to two. Sunday was the inn’s most prosperous day.
“It would be if you offered your abundance and time” the pastor winked.
His friend smiled. she was a pretty thing, beautiful... Granny really didn’t know why the two didn’t get married...
“The day you get married to this girl, that day not only will I come, but refreshment is on me”
Marie looked at Abel, visibly blushing.
He had to clear his throat to keep from laughing.
“We’ll see” he said, his arm around Marie tightening a little.
Granny humphed and made room for them to pass.
Jiminy smiled, until Abel passed him.
“It seems you did find something special about the town after all”
he winked and patted Jiminy’s shoulder, who blushed beet red to beat the band.
He and Red... they just met!
Jiminy waited for the pastor and his friend to enter the room before he did.
Jiminy, despite the fact he could feel Abel wink at him, felt that sitting on the edge of the bed was too intimate.
He decided instead to sit on a chair beside the bed, which was near Red.
She smiled at him.
He returned her smile and nodded at the baby.
"Have you decided on a name?" he asked, running a finger over the baby's soft, tiny fingers.
Red nodded. “Juniper Lois”
Jiminy raised an eyebrow. Juniper was a dark shade of green...
He tried not to let himself blush. His cloak was the same color.
Granny smiled at them both.
If Red was worried about Mary she didn’t say anything.
she gently handed Juniper to Pastor Valleyson, who said a prayer and blessed her.
“Dear Father in Heaven, we thank you for this child, this little girl, Juniper Lois Lucas born this day to her mother Ruby Elizabeth. We thank you for her, and the means by which you brought her into this world...”
Jiminy jumped slightly as Red gently grasped his hand during the prayer and squeezed it. He smiled and ran his thumb over her fingers.
“May she seek after you all of her days. In your son's name Jesus we pray, Amen”
“Amen” the rest murmured.
Abel smiled as he gently passed Juniper back to Red.
Red in turn smiled at Jiminy. “Would you like to hold her?”
Jimimy blushed and nodded.
“If you don't mind...”
Red smiled and handed him the baby, showing him how to support her head.
As he held the baby, Jiminy was amazed at how beautiful the child was... fortunately, she had none of Peter’s distinct features...
Jiminy smiled, looking from the baby into Red’s sparkling bright green eyes.
“She looks just like her mother” Jiminy murmured.
Red blushed as red as her cloak.
Granny smirked as she returned from seeing the company out.
The pastor had warned her about the proverbial birds and bees, especially where her granddaughter and the youth were concerned...
Birds and bees indeed...
Jiminy’s heart was stolen the moment Juniper yawned, squinched up her tiny nose, and smiled sleepily at him, her hazel eyes gleaming bright in the dimming light of the hearth.
Rumpelstiltskin couldn’t possibly want them the day his granddaughter was born.
Surely he can wait a little while...
He would return when the child grew older.
If only he knew what was to come before the next full moon...