Author: Albion19 PM
The curse is broken and Jefferson wants to take his daughter home. Emma, dealing with the truth of her parentage and her own magic, gets caught up in Jefferson's strange life. But burgeoning attraction and a fragile trust are all threatened by an awful truth. Discovering other worlds, the hunt for lost children and missing memories force Emma and Jefferson into an uneasy alliance.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Fantasy - Emma S. & Mad Hatter/Jefferson - Chapters: 16 - Words: 66,509 - Reviews: 136 - Favs: 80 - Follows: 52 - Updated: 08-04-12 - Published: 06-10-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8204049
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The fall that she had experienced before had been slow, like sailing through treacle, but now she is plummeting, shooting towards a light ahead. With a scream she squeezes her eyes closed as the light suddenly erupts around them and they are ejected out onto sand. Rolling onto her back Emma opens her eyes to see a clear blue sky above and a gull cries out in the distance. Estimating that she is unhurt Emma sits up and sees the vast stretch of the Atlantic before her, blue and calm.
"Someone's moved my hat, we should have come through in my garden," says Jefferson's irritated voice behind her and she turns to see him pulling Grace and Henry to their feet. He comes over to her and offers his hand which she takes.
"And wasn't it winter when we left? It's really warm," Henry says and takes off his jacket. He is right, it has to be fifteen degrees warmer then it was before. Emma stares indicatively at Jefferson, waiting for an answer and he throws his hands up.
"Don't look at me; I guided the hat to a second after we left. By rights we should be back where we started," he unbuttons his coat and strips it off before picking up the hat. He inspects it carefully, turning it this way and that and grows troubled.
"What?" Emma asks, pulling off her extra layers. She is still attired in the second-hand dress and petticoats that Jefferson acquired, her jeans and blouse in his bag.
"I've used the hat to create a portal to a different place before. It takes a lot of magic and it's easier to just go to the Realm Room but it can be done. Except…" he trails off.
"Except?" Emma prompts.
"Except I've never travelled using the hat this way. We entered and existed through the same gateway, separated by time and space but it's still the same hat. So with that in consideration I, uh, I might have overshot a little," he admits, humiliated.
"Overshot by how much?"
"A couple of months? I didn't mean to, the magic you had packed a punch."
Emma fingers her necklace and feels a flare of energy against her skin. Jefferson had channelled some of what she possesses into the hat but it feels like a thimble amount compared to the ocean she's got laying against her chest. The Grand High Witch is astoundingly powerful.
"I can't wait to tell everyone at school," Henry says excitedly and he and Grace race up the beach towards the ruined playground. As their parents follow behind the tranquillity of the summer's day slowly starts to change into an eerie foreboding. The beach and the path to the town are silent and empty, when they should be packed with sun seekers and swimmers. As they approach the town Emma looks around sharply, searching for familiar faces.
"Where is everyone?"
"Yeah, it does seem a little abandoned. Maybe they did the smart thing and decided to leave?"
"Maybe," she mutters, unconvinced. As they reach the main street with not a soul in sight Emma begins to run in the direction of her apartment. Mary Margaret and David would not just up and leave, not when their family is unaccounted for. Emma tells herself this but a part of her, a voice that she has listened to for almost her whole life speaks up.
Why would they stay? They didn't raise you; they gave you up like they all do. You're damaged and maybe it is for the best that they run before they see how much. You wanted to be loved and valued but that only leads to heartbreak. You know this. The apartment will be empty, their things gone, you'll see…
Emma harshly pushes this voice away as she reaches the building she lives in with her parents but then comes to a jarring halt when something catches her eye. To the west is a stone tower, grey and massive, one that had not been there before. The top of it is just visible above the town and a flag waves but it is too far away for Emma to make out.
"Well that's unexpected," Jefferson utters dryly, coming to her side.
"Do you think its Regina's?" She asks and Jefferson shrugs. She tears her gaze away from the tower and enters the building, racing into her apartment, Jefferson and the children following behind. The place is as she remembers it, nothing has changed or been removed. She calls out Mary Margaret's name and then David's but only silence answers her.
"Where are you?"
"I'm afraid you're too late dear," says a voice and Emma spins around to see a woman standing in the kitchen. For a second she thinks it is Regina but this woman is older but carries the same poised air as the mayor. A string of pearls sits around her throat and she is dressed smartly in a grey business suit. She is the very picture of middle class America but Emma recognises her for who she is.
"You're Cora, Regina's mother."
"I don't have a daughter anymore but my name is Cora," she answers calmly, trailing her hands along the tabletop, inspecting it for dust.
"Where are they?"
"Yes you've missed a lot while you've been travelling," she looks at Jefferson as she says this and something hungry gleams in her eyes. He glares at her, standing by the door to bar Henry and Grace from entering but they peer around him curiously.
"Like what?" Emma says and begins to back away, wishing she had her gun. At this wish her pendant pulses warmly and she takes strength from it, even if she can not wield its power.
"Like all the residents here I was also effected by the curse. Regina had given me a new identity and life, one unbefitting her mother. She kept me imprisoned for twenty eight years with no idea who I was," she says harshly and her eyes flash with an icy fury. Emma freezes, her insides squeezing in fear.
"But now you're free?" Jefferson says and she turns to him with a smile, her fury gone like it had never been.
"Yes, thanks to the imp. When Miss Swan arrived I started to remember who I was and what that ungrateful girl had done to me and I waited. I knew her plans would fail, as they always do, and now I am restored."
"Where are my parents?" Emma says fiercely and Cora gazes, sizing her up before she smiles pleasantly.
"When the curse was lifted some people left to venture out into this country, maybe further. But a door opened can be accessed both ways and we received some unwanted guests," she says this lightly, almost bored.
"The government of this land took notice of a small town in Maine that had not been there previously, filled with people claiming to be storybook characters. You can imagine the furore, especially when they saw magic with their own eyes and could no longer deny the truth. Then their curiosity turned into something…crueller."
"Oh my god," Emma whispers, hand going to her mouth. "What happened to them?"
"Nothing, I made sure of it. Regina had grown complacent, focusing on this trifling war with Rumpelstiltskin and so I had to do something. I stripped her of her power, gave her a similar fate that she had dared to inflict on her own mother and made sure this town was as inconspicuous as before. The people here are safe again."
"You imprisoned Regina?" Jefferson asks, coming forward a little but still keeping his arms out to block the children from entering.
"Does it please you? I hope so. Right now she is without magic and friendless. As she is my daughter I do not have the heart to take her life, though she would gladly take mine," she utters sadly and pins Jefferson with a gaze. "She used you, a childhood friend, but I will prove a more worthwhile ally."
"Ally?" he says incredulously. "I'd sooner trust Regina."
"You always were an impertinent little boy, I see nothing has changed that," Cora responds sharply and comes around the table to stand before them. Emma backs away towards Jefferson.
"Where is everyone? What did you do?"
"Those that wished to stay and eventually go home are safe and sound."
"And those that didn't?" Jefferson asks.
"Are exactly where they should be," she answers breezily. "But do not concern yourself with them; even if they transgress I still want to save them. You see I promised them salvation and a way back home. I just had to wait for a realm jumper."
"Me?" Jefferson asks.
"But of course. While I possess more magic then either of you can fathom I lack your skill. If you agree to help me you will find me magnanimous. Whatever you desire I will grant it, if it is within my power."
"You have nothing to offer me that I haven't already got." Jefferson glares at her and she smiles, inclining her head.
"Nothing to offer? Not even your wife?"
"My wife is dead," he answers roughly.
"She is not. I know she is alive and I can take you to her. All I ask in return is the use of your services. What do you say?"
"Alice is dead, I watched her die," his voice cracks and he stares at her intensely. Emma edges closer to him, not liking the desperation on his face.
"The eye can deceive, the mind plays tricks. This you well know, better then anyone here. What you saw was what they wanted you to see. She is alive and I can take you to her."
"Where is she?" Grace cries out and barrels past her father to stare urgently at Cora who smiles and cocks her head in recognition.
"Hello again child. For you it has been only a few days since you saw me but I have waited years to see you again. You are remarkable Grace and your mother will be so proud. Would you like to see her?"
"Grace!" Jefferson yells and crouches down to stare into her eyes frantically. "Don't listen to her; she's a liar who will say anything to get what she wants. Don't trust her."
"But what if she's telling the truth? What if she is alive?"
Jefferson shakes his head and straightens to glare at Cora. "Do not speak to my child again or you will regret it."
"Oh I think you will regret it boy. I am telling the truth and have no reason to lie. Unlike my foolish daughter I do not blame many when the fault lies with a few. I have no quarrel with you unless you cross me which I know you will not do," she speaks kindly but her honeyed tones hide malevolence, Emma can feel it.
"Of course you have reason to lie, you need Jefferson," Emma says but the sense that she has relied on her whole life is mute. She can not tell if she lies or not, only what her gut is telling her.
"I need a realm jumper," Cora clarifies and eyes Grace swiftly before she inhales with a small smile. "But all in good time. Soon you will see I speak sense and take up my offer. All I ask is the use of that hat, nothing more but in return you will have what was taken from you. That goes for you to Miss Swan."
"Mary Margaret? David?"
"And your other friends," Cora answers. Emma backs away, pulling Henry with her as Cora makes for the door. She turns on the threshold to smile at them in consideration. "I do hope you see sense Jefferson, as much as that is possible. Unlike Regina I do follow through with my promises."
"I will never help you; I don't care what you say. You're a monster."
"But Papa — "
"Pity…maybe a little encouragement is needed…" Cora says and comes towards Jefferson with a cold glint in her eyes. She stops inches away from him and then moves to whisper something into his ear. Whatever she says causes all the blood to drain from his face and he stumbles back from her in horror, clutching at his throat. Cora watches him in bemusement and begins to laugh.
"Jefferson? What's wrong?" Emma asks but he will not speak and continues to stare in terror at Cora.
"Oh he just learned what happens to people that disappoint me. If you are no use to me maybe there is someone else," she turns to Grace who looks at her father slumped against the wall in shock. "Grace, what do you say?"
"Come with me and I will reunite you with your mother," she says kindly and Grace stares at her with pained eyes. She takes a step towards the witch and this seems to jolt Jefferson from his shock. With a roar of utter rage he grabs a rolling pin from the counter and swings at Cora's head, a killing blow. She is so focused on Grace that she only has enough time to stumble back and the blow lands on her shoulder instead of her head. She falls back with a scream, clutching her arm and then Jefferson is knocked back against one of the iron pillars, his head connecting with horrible cracking noise.
"Henry get outside with Grace!" Emma yells but he stands there, rooted to the ground. Emma grabs him and Grace and throws them out of the door and then turns to see an enraged Cora approaching Jefferson, a ball of flame in her hand while her other arm hangs oddly.
"You think you can attack me, Hatter? Fool!"
"Hey bitch!" Emma yells and grabs the pendant in her fist and directs an outpouring of magic that propels the woman back like she has just been hit with a cannonball. The power that she unleashes not only sends the woman flying but blasts through the wall behind to send debris flying over the street below. Emma watches in surprise as Cora lies unconscious on the ground and then dashes to Jefferson who has not moved. Blood pours from his head and down his face and Emma tries to stem to flow with her skirts.
"Oh dear, seem to be in a bit of a pickle don't we dearie?"
The Scottish accent, higher then usual, issues from above her and she sees Gold sitting on top of a table, legs crossed at the ankles. He grins in wicked delight.
"The very same! Well almost but now isn't the time for clarification. Pretty boy looks bad," he says and then lifts up his hand and clicks his fingers. With a horrible ear popping sensation Emma squeezes her eyes shut and then springs them open to see a surreal albeit familiar sight: the Boston skyline.
"This…this is my apartment!" Emma cries, staring around and then looks up at Gold who is now sitting on her kitchen counter. Emma stares at him in amazement, noting that his once brown eyes are now a dark shade of gold. Emma looks down at Jefferson and sees with a jolt of panic that he has stopped breathing.
"Don't fret Emma for I have healing hands," he says, wiggling his fingers, and bends down to place his hands upon Jefferson's bloody head. Instantly Jefferson inhales sharply, jerking upwards and in a second the blood is miraculously gone. He blinks at Emma and Gold, deeply confused.
"I saved your noggin," Gold replies and Jefferson stares at him in worry.
"There's a catch, isn't there?"
"Usually there is but I'm doing you a solid. You freed the woman I love and that is a debt I have to repay. If I didn't Belle would be most displeased." As he speaks he sounds like his old self, his voice deeper.
"Th — thank you."
"Don't thank me yet. I've saved your life, the debt is paid but you've still got that old bag to deal with. If you won't help her she is likely to just take what she needs," he says ominously and stares at Grace who has been transported with Henry to Emma's bathroom. They both peer out, looking pale.
"Help us!" Emma demands, helping Jefferson to his feet.
"You still owe me Miss Swan. You should be the one helping me."
"What do you want?" Jefferson asks, still looking shaken. He goes to Grace and she runs into his arms. Gold stares at him, his smile frozen as he contemplates Jefferson.
"All in good time but I also need your services. You're a man in demand," he titters.
"Yeah, seems so," he says tiredly, rubbing at his head.
"Now if I was you I'd stay here for the foreseeable future. Those able to leave have left Storybrooke, including your parents and the puppet."
Emma sighs with relief, leaning against a wall. "Where are they?"
"That I can not say, 'fraid you'll have to figure it out on your own. Shouldn't be too hard," he says and hops off the counter. He is far more nibble then before, his walking cane gone.
"Is what she said about the government finding Storybrooke true?" Henry asks worriedly and Gold hesitates before answering.
"Yes. Regina didn't just send us to a place without magic but somewhere horrible and curious. You better hope they don't find out about you Jeff, or your daughter, because they will make your time in Wonderland look like heaven," he finishes darkly and Jefferson clutches Grace to him, looking anxious.
"What are we meant to do?" Emma asks desperately.
"Do? Why do nothing. You've served your purpose Emma, you've destroyed the curse. Live your life, have more wee bairns with this fruit cake and forget about Storybrooke."
"But there are people still there! She's locked them in that tower, I know it!"
"I know Regina is there. Do you want to save her?" He asks with a smile and Emma becomes stony faced, "thought not."
"What are you gonna do?" Jefferson asks.
"Spend time with my lady and look for my boy," he answers and looks out at the view, gaze far away.
He smiles, casting them an odd look and then bows suddenly, flourishing his arms. "I will bid you good day. I'll see you again Jeff." With a wink he disappears, leaving them to stare at empty air in befuddlement.
Bloody and tired Emma strips out of her dress and showers. The others take one after her, having missed the opportunity to bathe in the other world. Jefferson spends such a long time in there that Emma grows worried and ventures in, proclaiming her presence. He does not lift his head from under the shower, his eyes fixed ahead and Emma reaches over to turn off the water which is running cold.
"Jefferson! The water is freezing!"
"What…?" he says and turns to her, looking dazed. Emma exhales a breath before handing him a towel, keeping her eyes fixed on his face.
"Get dressed while I make us something to eat." She turns on her heel and he stands there watching her leave, towel clutched in his hand. He looks around suddenly, eyes wide and spooked and quickly gets dressed.
After a harrowing search through her fridge Emma makes an emergency shopping trip for food and as dusk settles they sit before the panoramic view eating take out in silence. There is much they all want to discuss but Jefferson is not ready, his confrontation with Cora has shaken him to the core. Emma watches him carefully as he inspects the top hat again, going over it obsessively.
"I've put them to bed in my spare room," she says as she sits beside him and Jefferson looks up, blinking in surprise.
"Grace didn't say goodnight…"
"She did but you were a thousand miles away," she says softly, watching him as he nods and goes back to looking at his hat. A frown mars his face as he looks at it in displeasure and mutters something under his breath. When his hands begin to shake Emma leans forward and takes them in her own and he looks at her with wide, frightened eyes.
"I feel…strange. I jump at shadows and in the shower I thought I was gonna die. I couldn't breathe."
"It's okay, you probably had a panic attack but you're okay now," she whispers soothingly and takes the hat away from him gently before holding his hands again. She stares into his eyes kindly but she is deeply worried. "What did she say to you?"
He gazes at her intensely in silence and she thinks he won't tell her when he leans forward and whispers, "Off with his head." He leans away quickly, as if to get away from what he has just uttered. He swallows, breathing faster and tries to talk. "It was h — her, the whole time I was there it was her."
"Cora was there?"
"She — she was the Queen of Hearts. And now," his voice trembles, "she wants my daughter. She's going to take her from me like she kept me away from her before." His voice rises and panic seers in his eyes and he gets up to pace before the window. Emma goes to him, shushing gently and takes his hands again.
"I won't let that happen, okay? She's not taking anyone, I promise."
"Thank you," he utters with a smile, "but don't make promises if you're not sure you can keep them. I learned that to my shame…" he trails off, staring at the night time view and Emma looks down at his hands which shake but not as much as they had.
"I'm just saying that I'll be here, for you and Grace," she explains awkwardly as he turns back to gaze at her in kindness. His arms slip around her and he pulls her in for a hug which she accepts willingly. Holding her tight he nuzzles into her hair, which she has pilled on top of her head, breathing in her scent.
Emma is not sure how much time passes like this but after an initial bout of insecurity she grows relaxed, content just to be held by someone who needs it. As the lights of the city start to wink out he pulls back to give her a besotted gaze. He leans close to her slowly, his mouth parting and she inclines towards him until their lips meet. The kisses they have shared before are instantly kindled from passion that gradually cools but now their slow osculation builds into something fervent.
Being careful not to make too much noise they pull off their clothes and fall onto Emma's bed. While she has not been celibate for as long as Jefferson she has felt the lack of intimacy as keenly as he has and responds to his touch eagerly. Naked and panting she lies below him as he kisses a leisurely path along her skin, down her stomach and further. Emma bites her lip, trying to stop herself moaning but his caresses makes her writhe and mew. He attends to her needs as meticulously as he does everything else; taking his time to enjoy something he has been denied for so long. As a result Emma experiences the most intense pleasure that leaves her sated once he has finished. He makes his way back up her body, moving between her spread legs.
He lowers his forehead to hers, staring into her eyes as he slowly pushes into her, his mouth parting against hers as he moans. Pulling back out he sinks into her again slowly, making Emma feel every inch before setting up a steady pace, rolling his hips into her. Emma buries her face against his shoulder and then bites at him to muffle her whimpers, which seems to entice him because he starts to thrust into her harder and Emma rises to meet him, her cries growing louder. He covers her mouth with his hand as she climaxes, jerking below him and he growls against her neck, growing stiff as he comes inside her.
Removing his hand he captures her lips as her breasts heave against his chest, their skin pebbled with sweat. Emma threads her fingers through his hair, pulling him closer before he has to break away to breathe. She stares at him, catching sight of his scar in the low light and moves her fingers along the mark tenderly before cupping his face.
"You should get some sleep. I'll try not to toss and turn," she whispers with a smile and he nods, moving to lie behind her.
He presses against her back, hand on her thigh and within seconds he is asleep. Emma takes longer, thinking of everything that has lead to this point. Intimacy frightens her; the fear of being abandoned propels her to run before things get serious. Never would she have dreamed of letting someone like Jefferson this close let alone trust him but she has. The time spent in Storybrooke has changed her and like he had once urged she is now amendable. She clasps her pendant in hand and falls asleep to the deep and abiding palpitation of magic.
okay I could leave it here, which I planned to but as I you can see there's still more to tell. So I might continue...