AN: So this idea came to me before the idea for "Through Another's Eyes" actually. However, for the longest time it remained just the first section. As of late, I have gotten more written on it and though I should not start posting another story, I am anxious to see what people think of this rewrite of cannon. I plan on updating this as the mood hits, so updates will not be regular. Please let me know what you think of this take on things.

Disclaimer: Characters are the property of Crown Media

Elizabeth sat alone in her home. Rosemary had invited her to stay with Lee and herself for the night but Elizabeth had turned her friend down. She knew she wouldn't be very good company and she didn't want to impose on her friends. Rosemary had then offered to stay with her. Elizabeth had assured Rosemary she would be fine.

Apparently she had convinced her friend of that fact as Rosemary had finally gone home. Now, Elizabeth just wished she could convince herself she was fine.

The newspaper she had gotten off of Laura's father sat on the table in front of her. The headline that had caught her eye stared back at her in black and white. It was a headline she had never hoped to see but one that wasn't unexpected. She knew that the conflict in the Northwestern territories would be dangerous. The newspaper article had put that danger right in front of her eyes though. The Mounties had taken heavy losses.

Was Jack one of those loses? Was that why her husband had not written to her recently?

Elizabeth lifted her left hand. Both her diamond and the wedding band glinted in the lamp light. She did not regret insisting that she and Jack wed when he was home for Christmas Day. To her that blizzard delaying Jack's returning to the fighting had seemed like a sign. She had suggested they get married not even an hour after Bill had shared that telegram with them. Jack had been resistant. He had wanted her to have the wedding of her dreams. She had told him she simply wanted to spend as much time with him as possible before he returned to the Northern Territories. Getting married would mean they could do just that without people talking.

Jack had consented. With Lee, Rosemary, Bill and Abigail as witnesses, Pastor Frank had led them in a simple ceremony just before noon on Christmas Day at the café. Afterwards, Abigail and Rosemary had prepared a meal for the seven of them and Bill had quickly put together a simple wedding cake. Jack had surprised her with the wedding bands, which had been his grandparents. Their wedding night had been the only Christmas present that Elizabeth had needed.

Jack had left town two days later, promising her a proper wedding and honeymoon when the fighting was over. Two months later, Elizabeth was starting to despair that would never happen.

It was late when Elizabeth finally fell asleep last night. Though exhausted, she went through the motions of teaching class the following day. Though Rosemary had told her she could substitute if she would prefer, Elizabeth declined the offer. Elizabeth knew that she would do better with something to fill her days.

A week after seeing that headline in the paper, Elizabeth was sitting in the schoolhouse after school grading papers. She could have taken the papers home to grade but she had been trying to spend as little time as possible at home. Being home led to her thinking about Jack. Since reading the headline about heavy loses, Elizabeth had not been able to shake the feeling that she was not going to see her husband again. She had even given up checking with Ned for a letter because she knew she would just be disappointed.

A knock on the door caught Elizabeth's attention. Looking up she saw a figure in red serge standing in the doorway. For a split second she thought it was Jack but she soon realized it wasn't. The Mountie was too lanky to be Jack. As he removed his hat with his left hand, the Mountie's right arm nestled in a stark white sling, Elizabeth noticed that though dark, his hair was a different shade than Jack's

Though she had initially risen to her feet, Elizabeth suddenly felt the strength go out of her legs. She sank back in her chair, knowing that her worse fear had been realized.

"Are you Mrs. Thornton?" the Mountie asked, walking slowly forward. There was a compassion and sadness in his voice that told Elizabeth that the news he bore was not good.

"Jack's gone, isn't he?" Elizabeth asked, not bothering answering the man's question. She just wanted to know. She just wanted this all to be over.

The Mountie was approaching the platform now. "I am sorry, ma'am," the man said. "I regret to inform you that your husband, Sgt. Jack Thornton was killed in battle a week ago today."

"No!"Elizabeth said, the tears blurring her vision.

Elizabeth didn't want to believe it! She didn't want to believe that Jack was gone! Getting to her feet, she headed toward the steps to the platform. She had this silly notion that if she could just get home she would find Jack waiting for her. However her legs were no more wiling to support her now than they had been when she realized the Mountie was not Jack. She felt her legs give out but instead of sinking to the floor, Elizabeth suddenly felt a strong arm around her as she was leaning against something strong and solid.

Though she realized the stranger was holding her, Elizabeth could not stop the torrent of tears that came then. Grasping the Mounties serge, she hid her eyes and cried. If the stranger was bothered by the display of emotion, he did not show it. Elizabeth felt his arm around her, supporting her in his grief. He remained silent as she let out her grief. He did not move or speak until she did so first.

Her tears spent, Elizabeth simply rested against the Mountie for a few moments trying to collect herself. Finally feeling more in control, she finally pulled away, the stranger letting her go, though his arm still remaining at her elbow.

"Do you want to sit?" the Mountie asked.

Elizabeth wanted to protest. Part of her simply wanted to rush home, though she knew Jack would not be there. Jack was gone. She didn't know the Mountie standing next her, but she knew he would not be so cruel as to tell her he was gone unless it was certain. However, her legs, though supporting her now, still felt weak. She doubted she could actually make the walk home right now. So instead, Elizabeth simply nodded.

The Mountie led her to the front bench seat, only letting her go when she was safely sitting. His hand free now, he pulled a handkerchief out of his pocket and held it out to her. Elizabeth took it from him, knowing she must look a sight. She wiped her face as the stranger sat beside her.

"I'm sorry," Elizabeth said, feeling a bit embarrassed about her emotional outburst.

"No apology necessary, ma'am," the Mountie assured her."Is there anything that you want to know?"

Elizabeth was grateful for the open question, giving the choice of whether or not she got the details of her husband's death. Though she might want details later, right then she did not think she could handle it. She already felt like a knife had been stabbed into her heart. Details of how Jack died would only make that pain worse. There was one thing that she wanted to know.

"Only, do you know if he suffered at the end?" Elizabeth asked, looking up into the strangers eyes. She saw sadness and compassion in their blue depths.

"Not for long," he told her. "Jack died on the battlefield. I tried to save him but it wasn't possible," he said, the regret clear in her voice. "He wanted me to tell you that he loved you and to give you this," he added reaching into the breast pocket of his serge. The Mountie pulled out an envelope that had clearly seen better days.

With shaking hands, Elizabeth reached out for the letter. This was a final message from her husband. She wondered what it said. Looking down at it, she saw her name written in Jack's handwriting. The letters clear despite the dark smudges on the outside. It dawned on her that it was blood that had been wiped from the envelope.

"I thought about removing it from the envelope, but I thought it might bring you some kind of peace to be sure that Jack and you were the only two who had seen those words."

Elizabeth nodded. Strangely enough, the stranger was right. The fact that the envelope was still sealed did bring her peace. The words contained inside were hers and hers alone.

The two sat in silence for a moment. Elizabeth had a feeling that though he would provide any information she asked for, the Mountie who sat beside her did not want to reveal more than she could handle right then.

"Can I walk you home, Mrs. Thornton?" the Mountie finally asked.

Elizabeth shook her head. She looked around the building she sat in. The schoolhouse that Jack had made sure was built so that she did not have to teach in the saloon. Somehow, reading his final words here seemed sitting.

"I think I want to read the letter here."

"All right," the Mountie replied. "Is there anyone I can get for you?"

Even in her grief, Elizabeth was touched at this man's concern. He clearly did not want to leave her alone for long.

"Could you ask Abigail to come?" Elizabeth asked. "She's our mayor and she runs the café."

"Of course," the Mountie said, getting to his feet. "I really am sorry for your loss, Mrs. Thornton."

Elizabeth nodded, knowing that they were not just words that he thought were expected of him to say. That somehow this was personal for him too though she did not know how. Something inside her told her that given the compassion this man had shown for her she should return the favor and find out. Still, she could not bring herself to ask the question.

Listening to his footsteps retreat, Elizabeth stared down at the envelope. These were Jack's final words to her. Words that in his final moments he had asked a fellow Mountie to make sure that she got.

"I wish you hadn't gone, Jack," Elizabeth said, wondering if her words would even reach him. However, despite that wish, she had understood why he had gone. He had gone in the memory of a friend who had lost his life leading a squad that Jack had been asked to lead first. Perhaps Jack's death had been fated. Perhaps, him delaying his departure to the Northern Territories had simply bought them more time together.

Slowly, she opened the envelope and took out the paper within. The sheet within had been protected from being marred. Other than the lines of the creases, Jack's words lie before her as clear as when he had written them.

Dearest Elizabeth,

I am sorry I have not written in a while. Things have been hectic here and finding the time has been impossible. I should be sleeping now instead of writing this. The soft breathing of the men around me tells me that they are. However, I have a bad feeling about tomorrow. Something inside me tells me that though I will see one more sunrise, I will not see the sun set. If that is the case, I wanted to write you one last letter.

Before coming north, I left a letter with Abigail for you. The words I wrote then still hold true but I wrote them before we were married. Should something happen to me tomorrow I just wanted to say that you marrying me when I was home for Christmas was the greatest gift you could have ever given me. I know our time together was short before I had to leave again, but there were moments that I will cherish forever. I hope that us being together in that way was as special to you as it was to me.

Please forgive me, for making you a widow so soon after we wed. That wasn't my plan. I always meant to come back to you my sweet, Elizabeth. However, if you are reading these words, then I was not able to keep that promise to you. Know that you were in my heart this whole time. Know that the memories I made with you have sustained me from the cold, long nights up here. Try not to grieve me too long, Elizabeth. You are too full of life to live in the darkness. For me, please try your best to find a way to go on. Find something that will give your life purpose and go on for the both of us. I know I will always have a piece of your heart, but find someone else to share the rest of your big heart with, my dearest Elizabeth.

Love, Jack

Despite having thought she had shed all the tears she was capable of, tears were rolling down Elizabeth's cheeks as she finished the words. The fact that Jack had known he was not going to come back, both saddened her and filled her with pride. Even with that premonition, Jack had fulfilled his duty. He had gone through with whatever the mission was with courage.

Surely she could find the courage to go on as her brave husband had asked her to.

Leaving the schoolhouse, Constable Nathan Grant headed back toward the little town. He knew who he was looking for, having already spoken to Mayor Stanton when he had come into town on the wagon bearing Sgt. Jack Thornton's body. The woman had asked him if he would like her to come deliver the news to Elizabeth Thornton. Nathan had declined, telling her that Jack had asked him to be the one to tell her and that he wanted to fulfill his friend's last request of him.

Though he had only met Jack Thornton last summer, Nathan felt like they had been known each other longer. Facing situations like they had in the Northern Territories tended to bring people together faster than one normally did. Elizabeth had been everything Jack had described her as. This town was everything that Jack had described. Though he knew that serving here in the wake of Jack Thornton's death was going to be hard, Nathan did not regret making his squad leader and friend that final promise that he would request Hope Valley as his posting when his time up north was through and that he would look after Elizabeth Thornton for Jack.

Though the Northern Territories had not quite been secured yet, Nathan would not be returning to the fight. Things were winding down there. Projections were that the battle would be over in the coming weeks. He had been told he would not be out of the sling for another two weeks at least. After that, he would need to regain strength in his arm before returning to full duty. In the meanwhile, he would get the lay out of the Hope Valley area while doing what he could. The local sheriff, Bill Avery, had not seemed thrilled over his arrival. Under the circumstances, Nathan did not plan to hold that against the man.

Nathan found both Mayor Stanton and Sheriff Avery in the Office of the Mayor. He relayed Elizabeth's request for her to Mayor Stanton. The woman thanked him, asked Sheriff Avery to help get him settled and was out the door. That left Nathan in the office alone with the gruff looking sheriff.

"So, the Mounties have so little confidence in my skills that they sent an injured Mountie to look over my shoulder, did they," Bill stated not long after Abigail had left. He was staring at Nathan, clearly not liking the Mountie's presence.

"I do not know what the brass' opinion of your skills is," Nathan replied evenly. "I requested Hope Valley as my posting. As the fighting up North is likely to be over by the time I could return, it seemed practical to take the posting now while I continue to heal."

"Why request Hope Valley?" Bill asked, a little of his annoyance now gone from his tone.

"Because one of Jack's final requests of me was to look after his town," Nathan told him, holding the man's gaze. "Knowing that my efforts to stop the bleeding would be futile, promising him to fulfill his final requests I hope at least allowed Jack a little peace of mind in those final moments."

"You served with, Jack?" Bill asked, though the answer was obvious.

"I did. I may not have known him as long as his friends here did, but he was my friend. I feel his lost too and no matter what people might think of me, I plan on fulfilling my final promise to Jack."

Bill's gaze softened as he held his left hand out to Nathan. "Welcome, to Hope Valley, Constable Grant."

Nathan shook Bill's hand, sensing the shift in the man's perception of him. Perhaps he and Bill Avery would get along well after all.

"The housing request from the Mounties for you requested housing for two?" Bill inquired, after releasing Nathan's hand.

"My eight-year-old niece will be arriving tomorrow," Nathan told him.

"Just your niece?" Bill asked, his surprise evident.

Nathan didn't blame the man. Part of him couldn't believe he was taking Allie in himself. However, his mother had been worn down trying to care for Colleen and Allie these last few months. With Colleen's death just before Christmas, his niece had lost both parents in the past year. It had been only with the help of neighbors that his mother had been keeping things together. Though his mother would have kept going until her own health failed her, Nathan knew he had to step up and give his mother some relief.

"Just my niece," Nathan confirmed. "My brother-in-law was one of the first casualties of the conflict up North. My sister was diagnosed with a blood disorder shortly after he went north. He never knew she was ill but she passed just before Christmas. My mother has been trying to care for Allie but it was too much for her. I have a duty to my family to take care of my niece to the best of my ability."

Bill nodded. "There is an empty row house. It is empty because two of the windows were broken and they have not been repaired. I will make sure that gets done by tomorrow afternoon. For tonight, I will get you settled in a room above the saloon. Your belongings were left at the Mounted Police Office. I will help you get it over to the White Horse."

"I appreciate it," Nathan replied.

Nathan had no clue what the future would hold but surely things had to start turning around soon. He had experienced too much loss this past year, both professionally and personally. Surely things would start to go right for him and Allie.