Well my dear Hearties, we’ve arrived. Welcome to the final Christmas edition of #FanFictionFriday. This is the last “Kami’s vision” homecoming scenario you’ll read before we see the REAL one in TEN DAYS!!! Now if you’ve seen the promotional photos of the episode, keep in mind that I wrote these well before they were published; so the two won’t mesh. But I hope you still like it.

This story was my first attempt at a plot longer than a single page. I wanted Jack to be spotted by one of the school children from far away, and Harper’s sweet temperament and fresh-looking face wouldn’t leave my head. So let yourself be swept away to Hope Valley, and watch Jack and Elizabeth reunite in your head one more time.

 

HARPER’S MOUNTIE SIGHTING

Harper ambled his way through the icy grass, crunching his way to the pond. His right hand clutched his fishing rod, his left hand fingered the knife in his pocket. He hadn’t told his friends where he was going; how could he explain why he was going fishing in December? It was because Papa had taught him how to fish, and Christmas had been his favorite time of year.  To Harper, it made perfect sense to put the two together, but it might not to anyone else…so he kept it to himself. He wasn’t even expecting to catch anything; he just wanted to feel close to Papa for a little while.

Harper quietly recited the St. Francis Prayer to himself as he went through the motions of baiting his hook, smiling fondly as he remembered Papa teaching him that too.  He had just started trying to poke holes through the frozen water when something caught his eye.  Quite a distance away was a black horse carrying a rider with a long black coat and a very familiar wide-brimmed hat.  Harper squinted, then froze like the snow beneath him as he watched the rider dismount.  Was it really?  He shook his head; no, it couldn’t be.  Just when he made up his mind to go back to fishing, the rider took off his coat and hat, revealing a bright red serge jacket, and short brown hair.  It had to be!!!  It had to be Mountie Jack!!!  Harper jumped up, ready to be the first one to welcome him home.  Then he stopped himself.  “No,” Harper said aloud, “Miss Thatcher should be the first one to welcome him back.”  With his back turned, Mountie Jack hadn’t seen him yet!  Harper backed away as carefully as he could until he was sure Mountie Jack wasn’t turning around, then he took off running toward town; racing as fast as his legs would carry him.

Jack panted impatiently as he dismounted Sergeant to look at the horse’s left rear leg.  Then he groaned in frustration as he removed his coat and hat.  Sergeant had somehow cut himself pretty badly right on the hock; there was no way he could go on until Jack stopped the bleeding.  “It’s not your fault, boy,” Jack sighed as he patted Sergeant’s back and reached in his saddle bag for supplies.  He couldn’t help but think that if only his fellow Mountie whom he’d invited home for Christmas hadn’t needed to stop in Cape Fullerton first…he might have been able to leave Sergeant in his care; then he could have gotten home to Elizabeth that much sooner.  No sense in dwelling on that now, Jack scolded himself.  Just get it done.  Jack managed to stop the bleeding, then he wrapped up Sergeant’s leg.  “You’ll be all right, boy,” Jack soothed the horse.  “We’ll rest here for a bit, then we’ll go home.”  Home.  The word tasted like honey on his lips.  Honey, not vinegar, he laughed to himself; then a picture of Elizabeth’s enchanting smile appeared in his mind.  Oh, how his arms ached to wrap around his beautiful fiancée, and just hold her!  He could see the pond from where he stood; her row house was only a few minutes from there.  He was so close!  Jack donned his coat and hat again and began to pace, the minutes stretching into hours.

Harper burst into Abigail’s Café, and hastily looked it over, gasping for breath. 

Abigail scurried over to the boy.  “Harper, what’s wrong?!” 

“Where’s…Miss…Thatcher?” 

“She’s at the mercantile,” Abigail replied, concerned.  “Is something the ma…” 

Harper turned, and bolted back outside; leaving nothing but a cold gust of wind, and Abigail’s confused face behind.

Elizabeth was having a rare, but pleasant conversation with Bill while she did her shopping.  He was asking for her Shepherd’s Pie recipe, of all things!  She was just telling him to add paprika instead of pepper, when the door was forcefully pushed open.  Elizabeth gasped, then breathed a little easier when she saw it was only Harper.  He was probably in a big hurry to buy some Christmas candy.  But he charged straight at her! 

“Harper, what’s wrong?!” she inquired as the boy desperately tried to talk. 

Finally he puffed, “Mountie Jack…he’s back!!!” 

Elizabeth felt all the blood leave her face.  She hunched down to his level.  “Harper, are you absolutely sure?”  Harper nodded fervently.  “Where is he?” Elizabeth tried to keep her voice from quivering as her student caught his breath enough to speak. 

“Just beyond the pond, where the hills start.  I wanted you to be the first to welcome him home.” 

A laugh erupted from Elizabeth’s throat as tears spilled from her eyes.  She squeezed Harper tightly, then stood upright.  “Bill, could I borrow your horse?” 

Bill gave her a gruff, but endearing, “Go ahead.  Consider it an early Christmas present.”  Elizabeth pressed a kiss to his cheek, sprinted out the door, mounted Bill’s horse, and flew toward the pond; her heart pounding as wildly as the hooves.

“All right, my friend,” Jack said firmly as he took hold of the reins beside his mount.  “Time to go.”  Sergeant snorted at him, as if irritated.  “I promise to take it slow,” Jack grumbled good-naturedly.  He had led the horse along for about two minutes when a blur of a pink coat and long, curly hair appeared on the horizon.  Jack’s determined face broke into a delighted smile, and his heart leapt into his throat as the love of his life rode up to him, reined in the horse, and jumped down with practiced expertise. Then she suddenly looked uncertain, as if she didn’t know quite how to greet him after so many months apart.  Jack briefly wondered if somehow her feelings had changed, but then he saw the adoration in her eyes, the tears of relief on her face, and his ring adorning her finger. 

“You’re home!” she cried. 

He smiled broadly, and admitted, “This isn’t quite how I pictured it.  I was hoping to surprise you.” 

“Oh, you certainly did that!” her voice continued to quaver.  Then almost at the exact same moment, they both decided they couldn’t stay apart any longer. They darted toward one another, and met in an embrace of pure ecstasy. 

Elizabeth could hear Jack chuckle warmly near her ear, and a shiver rushed through her body.  How she had longed for the warm, tender, and protecting clasp of this man’s arms; this man whom she would marry.  She felt him press light kisses to her cheek and into her hair as if she were water to a dehydrated man, and she shivered again.  He stepped back and cradled her cheek in his hand, looking at her with such devotion she thought her heart would burst.  Then he smiled with mischief in his eyes, and said, “You look cold.  Let me keep you warm.”  And then he kissed her.  Elizabeth barely felt the ground under her feet.  All these months apart, she had let doubts of Jack’s constancy creep into her mind; all those thoughts vanished, and her heart swelled with joy.  Their kiss lengthened, their souls reconnecting.  She finally broke contact so she could gaze into his adoring hazel eyes with equal affection. 

“Merry Christmas, Constable Thornton,” she almost whispered. 

He kissed her forehead, then replied, “Merry Christmas, Mrs. Thornton…almost.”

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