I've returned from a very long fanfiction hiatus, and am really excited about writing for Swan Queen for the first time. This story takes place towards the end of season 2 and branches off from canon there - before Regina gets captured by Greg and everything goes to hell, Mary Margaret and the others actually figure out a way to use the beans and leave for the forest. The quotes from the musical Into the Woods are used as inspiration for a lot of the themes in this story. Plus, it's the best musical ever. Enjoy!
"Where are we to go? Where are we ever to go?"
-Into the Woods
Emma knew this had been a horrible idea.
She opened her eyes to a world so different than the one she had just been standing in, moments before. Gone were the sleepy streets of Storybrooke, the yellow bug that had been parked on the side of the road and the smell of burgers wafting from the back of Granny's kitchen. Gone was the light rain that still left its imprint on Emma's red leather jacket, a cool, sweet rain in the brisk Maine spring.
Storybrooke was gone, and this is what remained. Leaves, green and thick and everywhere - a forest. Emma rose to her feet slowly, taking in the woods around her and wondering, with not just a little bit of panic in her heart, what the hell she was doing back in the Enchanted Forest.
"We made it!" The cry came from Henry, who was also climbing to his feet, his eyes wide with wonder as he gazed upon the forest for the first time.
"We're back home." David's voice was soft and warm, his face full of a brightness that Emma hadn't seen in a while. Mary Margaret grabbed his hand as she too looked around, all happiness and excitement.
They were back. So why did Emma feel like something was so very wrong?
The last time she had been in the Enchanted Forest, they spent the whole time trying to get back home. To Storybrooke. Because that is home. To her and to Henry, Storybrooke was the place they belonged, not some mystical kingdom...
Emma was pulled out of her thoughts as other townspeople of Storybrooke started to appear around them. The magic beans had somehow deposited them in the middle of the woods, it seemed. They would have to find somewhere to go. As far as Emma understood, the Enchanted Forest was not a safe place anymore - it was ruled by hostile creatures, with only small bands of survivors hanging around. Her parents had argued that Storybrooke wasn't safe, but all Emma could think about were the dangers that met them here - giant beanstalks and ogres and magic...
That's why they had really left, wasn't it? Emma didn't mind being free of the so called Evil Queen - it's not like she missed their tiresome battles in the slightest - but Emma couldn't really see the justice in leaving Regina behind, taking her son away from her forever. She almost felt bad for the woman; clearly the former Mayor had some issues, but Emma really didn't think that abandoning her to brood alone for the rest of her life was doing anyone any favors. They should have helped her. That's what good people do, right?
Well right now, "good people" were beginning to trek through the forest, towards Snow White's castle.
So this was the life she would lead now?
Regina couldn't do anything to stop the tears running down her face. She was furious, absolutely enraged. She felt the magic boil at her fingertips, felt it steam off her skin and flow through her veins in such pure hatred that it made her sink to her knees. She was exhausted. The walls around her were scorched and bashed in, the streets outside were destroyed, cars overturned.
It seemed as though Regina Mills had finally lost it.
"They took my son," she whispered, a desperate, broken voice, the kind of voice that is left over when all the rage has been spent. "They really took him forever."
Regina sunk against the front wall of her mansion, pulling her knees to her chest and sobbing into her own arms. This was a new level of sadness for Regina, a kind of pain that she had not felt since Daniel.
"Oh, how you have fallen, Evil Queen."
Regina's head shot up, the magic at her fingertips in seconds. She didn't move from her place against the wall, however - whoever was here could already see that she was broken. Anybody could see that she that now.
Greg leaned into the doorway, a foolish smile on his lips. Satisfied.
"Get away from me." Regina hissed, holding up a palm that ignited instantly with a fireball. "Get out of my home."
Greg didn't move, however. He clicked his tongue and took a few steps forward to stand in front of Regina. "Now, now, Madam Mayor. I would stop and think before you hurl that fireball at me." The fire burned brighter in response to his suggestion. "You see, your friends are gone, no one to help you out."
"I never had any friends." Regina spat, feeling the venom in her words reflected in the pain that cut through her heart. "And I certainly never needed any."
Frowning, Greg simply stared for a moment. "Really? I seem to remember a woman so desperate for a friend that she tried to kidnap a child right from under his father's nose."
Regina rose to her feet in rage, letting loose the fire around her. It rose in a hot flash and licked up the sides of the walls, the magical flames not catching but leaving behind dark scars on the white paint. Greg, for his part, simply took a step backward and grinned.
"Hit a sore spot, eh? Yeah, your own kid is gone now, isn't he?"
The gaze Regina leveled on him was deadly. She stood like an animal ready to spring, her fists tight and her chest heaving. She wanted nothing more than to take Greg by the chest and squeeze his heart into dust, but a small part of her mind whispered an objection.
Henry wouldn't want you to.
Henry believes you can be good.
Regina's own heart felt like it might explode from her chest, while Greg just stood smugly in front of her, watching the fire in her eyes as she warred with herself. Finally, Regina decided that before she tore apart this man's life, she'd figure out what the hell he wanted.
"Why are you here." The icy words were a statement, deadly calm.
"Funny you should ask."
At that moment, Regina heard a cacophony of voices sounding outside the mansion. It sounded as though dozens of people were running towards her house, yelling. This assumption was unfortunately confirmed when, with a crash, Regina's front door burst open and several tall men, armed and dressed in riot gear emblazoned with the words "FBI", stormed towards her.
The blonde's eyes snapped up as Mary Margaret (or Snow, now that they were in the forest?) approached Emma's corner of the campsite. She had been crouched on her still-rolled sleeping pad, fiddling with the strings of the backpack she had brought from Storybrooke, when Mary Margaret came to kneel beside her.
"Emma, what's the matter?" The brunette's eyes were full of concern, so much so that Emma felt a little ill. Sure, the former Sheriff had some love for her mother… but was Mary Margaret really her mother in any way but blood? They had been great friends, but Emma wasn't convinced that suddenly remembering an abandoned baby should result in a normal mother-daughter relationship between the two women. Seeing the worry in Mary Margaret's eyes didn't do much more than make Emma uncomfortable.
"What do you mean?" Emma said, "Everything's… fine."
It was a lie, and it Emma knew that was obvious. She had felt uneasy from the moment they arrived in the woods, and that feeling hadn't dissipated during their long hike towards the castle and while the group set up camp, either. The area around them was beautiful, full of deep greens and currently bathed in the oranges and pinks of a gorgeous sunset. But it was foreign, unfamiliar - it was a fucking fairy tale, and even though she knew her parents' true identity, Emma still had a hard time accepting it as reality.
And then there was the issue of Regina. Emma didn't usually think about the Mayor this much, but ever since she had appeared in the forest she couldn't shake a heavy guilt from her shoulders. It was more than that, though - worry? No, it couldn't be…
Emma looked up to see an impatient expression on Mary Margaret's face. "Uh, what?"
"I was just saying… you look unhappy. You are happy to be here, right?" The hopeful look in her eyes told Emma that any negative answer would not be received well. Lying it is, then.
"Of course I'm happy, Mary Margaret." Emma pretended not to notice her mother's wince at the use of her Storybrooke name. Would she prefer Snow? Mom? Emma certainly didn't like either of those options. She let out a long sigh, and continued her false explanation. "I just… need some time to adjust, I guess. I mean, last time we were here, we were being chased and hunted. This was never my home. I… have to get used to it?"
A sickeningly loving expression filled Mary Margaret's features. "Oh, Emma." She reached out a hand, placing it gently on the blonde's forearm. "Of course. You know it means so much to us that you are here, and we know that it will become home to you in time. Until then, please, if there's anything you want to talk about-"
"No," Emma said, probably too quickly. "No. I'll be fine. Like I said - time."
Mary Margaret smiled sweetly and rose to her feet. "I'm still here, whenever you need." Emma nodded nearly imperceptibly as the brunette left, walking daintily to her shared spot with David a few yards away. Royalty, that woman was - royalty who clearly belonged in this world.
Emma leaned forward, resting her chin on her fists as she stared at a small bug making its way up the side of her pack. Bugs, she thought, just another wonderful perk of living in the Enchanted Forest.
"Hey…" Emma looked up from her cranky thoughts as Henry came beside her, unrolling his own sleeping pad and flipping it over the ground. His presence was definitely a more welcome distraction than Mary Margaret's - as uncomfortable as Emma felt in the Enchanted Forest, she was quite grateful for Henry's company there. Though, in the back of her heart, she felt a strong guilt telling her that Regina deserved the same company.
"What's up, kid?" Emma asked, deciding she should roll out her materials as well.
"Well…" Henry stopped, looking up at her with an unsure expression.
"Hey, what?" Emma said, halting her actions and crouching again to be eye-level with Henry. He sounded uncertain, and not a little upset.
"I… I'm wondering about my mom."
Emma frowned, taking a deep breath. You and me both, kid. Who knew what Regina was doing right now, alone in Storybrooke - setting the town ablaze? Waging war on innocent people? Whatever she was doing, she was sure to be incredibly upset by what had happened and the loss of Henry. But Emma was confused by Henry's sudden concern; the kid had not objected to Mary Margaret and David's insistence that Regina stay behind - in fact, he had been in full support of it. During the chaos of the teleportation, Henry had been nothing but excited to leave his "evil" mother to the cruelty of the world and to experience the mystical Enchanted Forest. Emma wasn't even sure he had said goodbye to Regina. That thought made her feel heavy with regret. And looking at Henry now, the kid didn't look so confident in his choice to leave the Mayor behind.
Of course, Emma thought, Regina is his mother. Of course he's worried about her.
"Henry, your mom…"
"Is she gonna be alright?"
Emma paused. What was she supposed to say to him? No, kid, because you abandoned her without a second thought. Yeah, lay on the guilt, great idea. I don't know, kid, because we're never going to be able to speak to her again. More guilt. Great. Sure, kid, she'll be totally fine knowing that the one thing she loved in this world is gone forever. Yeah, there really wasn't much to say to make Henry feel better.
"Henry…. I don't know."
Not the answer he was looking for, apparently, because Henry's face twisted in distress and he looked away from Emma. "What do you mean you don't know? You've gotta know she'll be okay, right?" He was looking at his feet, his tone nearly angry with Emma.
Like it's my fault that she's not here. I didn't ask for any of this.
Emma reached out a hand and placed it on Henry's shoulder in an attempt to be comforting. "Look, kid," she said, waiting for him to meet her eyes before continuing, "I have no way of telling what your mother is doing right now. So yeah, I really don't know how she is." Henry started to pull away, but Emma firmed her grip on his shoulder, holding him in place a moment longer. "What I do know," she continued, "is that your mom… well, she's one fierce lady, right? You know her. She'll do whatever it takes to be alright in the end."
Henry held her gaze for a second, and then pulled away and moved to where his mattress would be laid out. "Yeah, I guess." He didn't speak to Emma for the rest of the evening.
Regina didn't have time to think - she reacted on instinct, hurling fireballs towards the FBI agents that were rushing forward. The flames did nothing, however - the men simply ducked behind their riot shields and the orange tongues of fire licked the glass and then sputtered into the air with a hiss. Regina was unsure if the men's equipment was magic-proof or simply fire-proof, but she didn't care to find out. A purple haze rose around her feet as they continued to advance - she was ready to teleport away from the madness.
Just before the magic could fully consume her, however, Regina felt someone grab her roughly around the arm, jerking her hands behind her.
"That's enough out of you." Greg said, pulling a small metal object from his pocket. "None of your filthy magic, as soon as I get you cuffed." He pulled on her wrist, but as she felt the cool metal begin to clasp around her skin, Regina let loose a furious storm of fire from her hands, causing Greg to leap back, shrieking.
Regina hoped that Greg had a face full of charred skin, but she didn't have time to check as she vaulted through the doorway behind her. The FBI agents were directly behind her, screaming and threatening to shoot. Regina wondered vaguely why they didn't - she had already injured one of their own and was escaping. Generally she would suppose that would be criteria enough to open fire.
Either way, the FBI agents were simply chasing her and barking orders, so Regina ignored them and once again called upon her magic to take her somewhere - anywhere but there. The purple mist filled her kitchen in a swirling haze, and soon the world shifted and spun as Regina was swept away from the manor, away from Storybrooke, and into the world.
Regina didn't want to open her eyes. She had no idea what she'd actually find - she had never left Storybrooke before. The air around her felt somehow different, crisper and harsher than the air at home.
Home. Regina scoffed. Not much of a home anymore. No Henry, no Storybrooke. Nothing.
Brown eyes opened wearily, gazing around her surroundings. Regina had transported to a place she had only ever read about before - a city on the West coast that perched on the edge of tall cliffs and the crashing waves of the Pacific ocean. The choice of location wasn't a well-planned decision; for some reason it had been the first place to come to mind when Regina thought "away."
She stood on a vacant street corner, cars parked here and there but no traffic or people on the road. The sky stretched above her as a soft sea of purple - nighttime was slowly settling in. Regina took a deep breath, trying to understand her predicament. Greg, Tamara, and the FBI had apparently been looking for her, or at least they were probably looking for her now. She understood how Greg had found Storybrooke, drawing from his memory all those years ago, but she had no idea how easily he would be able to find her now that she had escaped. It was possible he could track her magic, or had something of hers that would lead him straight to Regina. With any luck, Greg would be tracking her by magic. So evading him was simple - use no magic.
The only problem with that was that Regina was standing alone in the middle of an unfamiliar place, her makeup running down her face in violent streaks from her earlier sobbing, her shoes covered in soot and her pant legs singed from all of the fireballs she had thrown. She had no money, no connections, no information, nothing. She needed magic. It was all she had left.
Would it even work outside of Storybrooke? Regina bit her lip, concerned. Only one way to find out. She cast a quick glance down both sides of the street. Upon seeing it clear, Regina lit a tiny spark on the tip of her finger, a small smile appearing on her face as she felt the magic flow from deep inside of her.
So the magic worked. This was an immense comfort for Regina, but she knew that it was still incredibly dangerous for her to use her power, in case she was being followed. "Just right now," she muttered to herself, "magic up some money, some clothes… and then no more."
Regina waved her hand, replacing her tattered clothes with a new business suit, styling her hair to perfection and removing the runny makeup from her cheeks. With another flick of her wrist, Regina had a purse hanging from her shoulder and a small suitcase at her side - each packed with necessary items like clothes and money. It was more magic than she would normally use to obtain material items, but desperate times, she supposed.
The click of Regina's heels seemed to echo down the street as she began her search for a place to stay. In Storybrooke, it wouldn't have taken more than ten minutes to eventually run into Granny's Bed and Breakfast. In this new town, however, things apparently weren't as simple - Regina wandered for nearly forty minutes before she finally came upon a slightly run-down building with the word "motel" flashing on a tall sign in the parking lot.
"Can I have a room?" Regina said as she approached an old woman at the counter. She was surprised by the weariness evident in her own voice - it sounded somewhat strangled. Like a woman who had recently lost her son and her home and her entire reality.
"You want a room?" The woman said, eyeing Regina suspiciously.
"Yes." Regina's tone was sharp, much more the commanding mayor than the weakened woman she had been just moments before. She was not in the mood to deal with anyone. She needed to be away.
"Alright, then." The woman shrugged and waddled slowly to the registry computer. "You just look like you can afford better, is all. It'll be fifty-five for the night." She slid a key card across the counter as Regina handed over cash for the woman. "You're in room 46. Check out at noon tomorrow."
"Thank you." Regina said, grabbing the card and heading towards the staircase with her luggage. As she opened the door to her room, she let out a disgusted scoff. It was tiny, for one, and shabby. A small double bed with scratchy sheets sat in the middle of a square room that had been sparsely decorated with horrid paintings. Regina had never stayed in a hotel before, but if this was what all hotels were like, she hadn't been missing much.
She sat on the edge of the bed, unmoving. It still hadn't quite sunk in, she thought - losing Henry had caused her to react quite violently at first, but now that she had been chased out of Storybrooke and was on her own in the strange world, Regina felt - empty.
She rose from the bed and unpacked silk pajamas, frowning a bit when she realized that the expensive garments would have to come in contact with the hotel bed that undoubtedly housed the germs of everyone who had slept there before her. Nonetheless, her weariness took over as she pulled the sheets back and slipped into the bed. She thought vaguely that she should perhaps stay awake, in case they found her again, but as soon as her head hit the pillow, Regina's eyes fluttered shut and she drifted off into sleep.
Emma had been staring at the ceiling of her tent for hours before she finally, finally, fell into an uneasy sleep.
At least, that what she thought had happened - but as she slowly became aware of her surroundings she was a little less sure. She was in a room with a tall ceiling and gray walls that looked somewhat hazy, foggy. As if she couldn't quite see where the room ended.
A dream, she thought, taking a tentative step forward, this must be a dream.
Emma flinched at the stormy voice that had shouted her name. She knew that voice, could recognize it anywhere. Especially when it was as angry as it was now.