For once, it wasn't the fault of some old story or bad guy with powerful magic. No, the blame for this little misadventure could squarely fall on the shoulders of someone everyone generally overlooked save to keep him on the sidelines.
Henry Mills. Son of Emma Swan and stepson of the Evil Queen herself. Grandson to the Queen of Hearts, Rumplestiltskin/Dark One/Beast, Snow White and Prince Charming. Nephew to the Wicked Witch.
His family tree was for some reason full of villains, and the only one he was blood related to was the worst one of all. The irony of this fact did not escape him.
It all started shortly after his friends in New York introduced him to a video game series call "Kingdom Hearts". The reason being that he had an unusual fascination with fairy tales, and the series heavily leaned on the Disney franchise which was full of them.
When they returned to Storybrooke, having their memories restored and the bad guy defeated yet again...only to bring rise to yet another crisis, Henry chose to do something to kill time until the dark magic was defeated again.
It was really rather monotonous at this rate, so he didn't let it get him that excited (despite how he acted on the outside).
He wrote fanfiction. Mostly he pretended to be the hero his mother and grandmother were, while he stayed out of the way of his mothers saving the day again. He was the researcher, and he knew it.
However, everything changed the day he became the author. He thought by destroying the quill, he no longer ran the risk of his little stories coming to life.
He was wrong. He should have remembered that above all, magic finds an outlet, one way or another. That, and he really shouldn't have started leaving his laptop filled with his own stories in the Sorcerer's Mansion, which was where the storybooks were kept.
And it is here our story begins...
It was wet, it was sunny, and it felt like the sea. He wondered if someone had decided to play a prank on him and drop his bed into the bay outside Storybrooke, but he knew better than that. Anyone stupid enough to do something that silly was liable to get their head bitten off by his mom Regina.
Besides, how would they get past his grandparents, who slept on the floor below him long enough to dump him?
Waking up, he quickly realized the water was too clear and bright to be the one outside Storybrooke. Not to mention the water was too warm. It almost felt tropical.
Seeing land, Henry woke up properly and started swimming. Worst case scenario, it was an island with cannibals or deserted. Best case, someone could tell him where he was and how to get home.
He was almost exhausted when he was able to touch the shore.
"Hey! There's someone there!" shouted a voice. It was someone about his age if he didn't miss his guess.
Henry sat in the soft sand just trying to catch his breath. As he did, he took in his surroundings. The thing was that the place looked strangely familiar.
It wasn't until he saw the owner of the voice that he realized why.
It was Sora, Riku and Kairi. He vaguely remembered them from the series he got hooked on while living in New York. They almost sounded the same too.
"Hey, are you alright?" asked the boy who looked exactly like Riku.
"Yeah. Just a little disoriented I guess," said Henry.
"Who are you?" asked the kid who looked like Sora.
"My name is Henry. Henry Mills. Where am I?"
"You're on Destiny Islands. Are you from another world too?" asked the girl.
"Another realm. One called Storybrooke," said Henry. He was officially weirded out now.
"I'm Sora!" said the brunette.
"Riku," said the silver boy.
"I'm Kairi," said the girl.
Henry slowly started to have an inkling as to what was going on, but the bigger question was...which one of his stories was he in?!
He had been obsessed over Kingdom Hearts. Had kept all his written fanfiction in his laptop in the same folder with different titles. He could be in any one of them. Half of his stories were self inserts that crossed the Story Book with the Kingdom Hearts storyline.
He just hoped it wasn't one of the darker ones. Ones where the Beast was his grandpa. That would be bad. Very, very bad. Though nowhere near as bad as the ones where he fell with Riku and ended up turning evil thanks to Maleficent.
"And this is our raft," said Sora, bringing Henry back to the present.
"Looks pretty cool," said Henry diplomatically. Sora beamed, putting his hands behind his head in that familiar manner.
"So how'd you end up on the beach?" asked Sora.
"I woke up in the water, and saw the shore. Figured my best chance was to swim and hope for the best. Seems to work for my mom and grandma a lot."
That was when his stomach decided to protest. He hadn't eaten since dinner, and all that swimming with heavy clothes on had worked up quite the appetite.
"Sounds like someone's hungry," giggled Kairi.
"If he really was swimming in all those clothes, then no wonder," said Riku sensibly.
Now that he was out of the water, the outfit he had on was becoming uncomfortably warm.
"I can take him to my house. Odds are mom still has some clothes that might fit him better. You're too small, Sora."
That made Sora irritated, but he didn't deny the accusation.
From the look of things, he had arrived roughly a week before the raft was to be completed, which meant he had a few days before the story started. He still had his clothes, but they were in his backpack. He had been stuck borrowing Riku's old ones, which were far lighter and more importantly dry compared to what he had been wearing.
At least he was able to keep his shoes.
A few discreet inquiries helped Henry narrow down which story he was in. Not by much, but enough to eliminate some of the darker ones he had written out of boredom. Riku was genuinely nice, and the "lie detector" that his mom claimed to have passed down to Henry. At least enough to detect those with genuinely good hearts.
Riku was too nice to be as evil as some of the stories he wrote. Which was a relief, actually. Those stories barely had happy endings.
It was when he was walking along the beach, trying to make sense of everything that he found it.
"No way. The Book?"
Henry bent down and picked up the infamous book that started it all. On the front were the gold-emblazoned words Once Upon A Time...and when he opened it, he could see himself drifting on the sea until he swam to the beach of Destiny Islands. It wasn't until he found a note in the front that he realized which story he was in.
"Of course. It would be the one with Naminé surviving in it. She's the only one who can manipulate the story like I can."
He had written only ONE story where Naminé lived, and that was one where he had the power to turn good into bad, and bad into good.
That made him feel relieved. Even if it meant he now had the power to involve his overly complicated family tree and had to explain this to his mother. Good thing he had been meaning to make some tweaks to the story before he posted it anyway.
"An old storybook. Looks like the tide washed away most of the ink though, so the words are really faded. I might be able to remake it if I have enough time to decipher the words," said Henry. It wasn't entirely a lie, and it was hard enough to explain without telling them about fanfiction.
"Maybe you could write our story instead, if the ink has been washed off," said Riku joking.
"I think I might. It'll be easier on my eyes," agreed Henry, leaving out the part where the book wrote itself.
A few days later...
Henry was outside when the darkness came. The same darkness that swallowed up his birth mother Emma. He still had no idea how that happened, and he had been so caught up in turning her good again that he had forgotten about his laptop in the Sorcerer's Mansion.
This world has been connected...
Those ominous words that started everything. He knew what happened next. His character fell with Sora.
Naminé, it seemed, had other plans. He felt the water again. Only this time it wasn't hot or cold. It simply was.
What was going on?
Henry looked down and saw...his birth mother in that dress she was wearing when she accidentally altered time? There on the stained glass was his family, including his mom Regina. All around the edges were people and things Emma had begun to consider important to her, like her car and her jacket. The stained glass was gray, almost jaded looking.
Going through the motions was easy, since he picked the same ones every time.
He wanted to learn magic, because he was tired of being on the sidelines protected when something bad happened. He also wanted to learn how to use a sword, since it was fairly common in the Enchanted Forest, and odds were his grandfather would be willing to teach him how to use it. If not, Killian or his grandmother Snow would.
Being on the defensive only made things take longer.
The next platform was his grandmother Snow White, only the stained glass looked more like the one he remembered, not the Disney version. Fighting the heartless was easy. He wouldn't be a Charming if he wasn't brave to the point of stupid.
He wasn't afraid of the monster Heartless either. His grandfather was the Dark One, and his mother had been turned into the Dark One. A large monster was nothing compared to when Rumplestiltskin got creative while in a foul mood.
Even if the third and final platform had made him pause. It was his mom Regina, only she was in her neutral evil side rather than the Evil Queen.
She hadn't been amused when he had pointed out she had gone from chaotic evil to neutral evil. His mother Emma had though, and they had spent a few hours putting everyone into alignments for a laugh.
Emma, Henry, and Killian were all neutrals.
Gold was strictly lawful evil. They had debated that one for an hour before Henry pointed out that while his deals were often more trouble than they were worth, he did always hold up his end.
His maternal grandparents were lawful good. As was Robin.
Regina was neutral evil, as she still had some Evil Queen in her, as much as she hated to admit it.
Zelena (his aunt through his mother Regina), and Cora (also through Regina) were all chaotic evil. Thankfully only one was still an issue.
Waking up on the islands and watching Sora chase after Riku, only to be torn upward into the sky, Henry felt his own body lifting upwards.
He woke up with Pluto licking him in the face, his clothes still firmly in his bag along with the book, and a keyblade in hand.
"So. There are two chosen keyblades. Which one do we follow?" said Donald.
"I don't mind if you go with Sora. He's got less experience with adventuring and saving the day compared to me, and I still have to find my family."
"Why don't you come with us Henry?" asked Sora.
"Maybe later. I heard Merlin lives in this world, and I think I'll learn some magic from him first before I come with you," said Henry diplomatically.
That, and he knew that bringing Cora into this mess was just asking for more trouble than Sora could handle. The last thing they needed was for the Queen of Hearts to suddenly become competent and ripping people's hearts out left and right for defying her.
He had only met that side of her once, and he wasn't going to risk seeing it again. Not after seeing the damage she caused his mother Regina.
"Yeah, ol' Merlin lives on the outskirts of town. He's the man to see about magic," agreed Cid.
Henry wondered if it was a good idea to bring back his Merlin, but decided against it. He might get mad because he accidentally brought one of his stories to life without meaning to. Besides, they still didn't know what happened to Merlin thanks to losing three weeks of memory.
"Hello? Master Merlin?" said Henry.
"Come in! Come in dear boy! Did the king send you?" asked Merlin. From the looks of it he was about to head out on vacation.
"King Mickey didn't send me. I was hoping you could teach me a bit more about magic before I went out adventuring," said Henry.
"Quite the prepared one aren't you? Very well, let's start with the basics..."
Henry was an attentive learner, and caught the grasp of magic very quickly. He couldn't wait to show his mom what he learned. Magic was in his blood, on both sides from multiple sources.
By the time Sora showed up, Merlin was coming back from picking up supplies in another timeline to teach Henry the second tier magic because of how quickly he learned it.
"Henry! You won't believe the things we saw!" said Sora enthusiastically.
"I believe. After all, the heart of a true believer is required for certain magics," said Henry amused.
"Henry here has been a most enthusiastic pupil! He grasps the basics faster than Arthur ever did!" said Merlin pleased.
"Both sides of my family know magic."
They just assumed because he was born in The Land Without Magic that he couldn't use it.
"Henry, why don't you finish reading that third tier fire magic while I teach Sora how to use it?" suggested Merlin.
"Third tier? How fast does he pick spells up!?" said Donald in shock.
"Henry has a very strong capacity for both Black and White magics. And he's been learning them at a phenomenal rate. You could learn a thing or two from him Sora, Donald."
"So this is the ship you were using Sora?" asked Henry. It was just as interesting on the screen as it was in real life.
"This ship is powered on smiles, got it?" said a rather cross Donald.
"I don't think we'll have any problems with that," said Henry grinning. He was enjoying himself too much.
"So Henry, have you been writing in that book you found?"
"It writes itself," said Henry, showing him.
"Hey look! There's us in Wonderland! That Queen of Hearts sure was grumpy!" said Sora.
Henry managed not to pale when he saw what she looked like. It was definitely Cora. Thankfully without him there to catalyze anything, she stayed the same as her Disney counterpart.
"Looks like we're coming up on another world already!" said Donald, before he gave Sora the evil eye "And don't you come near the controls again, Sora!"
Henry frowned. He didn't recognize that world. So he looked in his book, and his eyes widened as the page filled out.
"The Enchanted Forest?"
"The Book said that this world is called the Enchanted Forest," explained Henry.
"Gosh Henry, that book sure sounds useful!"
"It only records, you can't change the content without serious consequences," Henry warned them.
"Alright, everybody off!" said Donald once they parked the ship.