Title: Wednesday's Child
Summary: The next time Emma Swan wanted magical help, she was on her own. Because now they were stuck with a pint-sized savior who clearly had an attitude problem and a terrified but pretending not to be pre-pirate.
Spoilers: If you're current, we're good.
Rating/Warning: T, mostly for safety. Family angst/fluff, as per usual.
Disclaimer: Once Upon a Time and its characters were created by Eddy Kitsis and Adam Horowitz and are owned by ABC. I'm just borrowing them but I'll put them back when I'm finished!
Author's Note: I know, I know, this trope has been done a million and one times but it's always fun, yes? I'm already having a boatload of fun with this idea, so hopefully you will, too! Even though it may not seem like it at first blush, there will be plenty of Charming Family interaction in this piece. Feedback is a writer's ice cream sundae! Enjoy. :)
"Maybe this was a dumb idea."
A mildly exasperated Regina Mills heaved a sigh. Similar statements had fallen from Emma Swan's lips a few times during the course of the morning, which was both vaguely frustrating and somewhat concerning.
Emma wasn't usually so indecisive. On the other hand, she'd never set her sights on accomplishing something so magically ambitious before. A little uncertainty was to be expected in this case, Regina supposed.
A lesson Regina had learned throughout the morning was that if she didn't quell Emma's doubts, she would have a cranky sheriff on her hands. Since a cranky sheriff would just as quickly lead to a cranky queen, Regina felt it prudent to nip Emma's uncertainty in the bud. "It's not a dumb idea," she spoke up somewhat distractedly. Her own attention was focused on rummaging through the trunk in her vault in an effort to find something – anything – that would help them. "Challenging, yes. A bit too sentimental, probably, but not dumb."
Emma shot her head up from the book she'd been paging through, sudden concern swimming in her eyes. "You think it's too sentimental?"
From his position next to his wife, Killian Jones shot Regina a warning glare. Clearly he also objected to her choice of wording. Her eye-roll reflex in overdrive, Regina huffed, "Well, of course I think it's too sentimental but the gift isn't for me, is it? It's for your parents, who should own stock in Hallmark if they don't already. Sentimental is practically your mother's middle name. They're going to love it."
Emma's shoulders slumped in relief. Content now, she dropped her gaze back down to the book. Killian gave Regina a silent nod, indicating his gratitude for the way she'd soothed his wife's ruffled feathers.
Regina nodded back. She was, after all, the one who'd ruffled them in the first place.
She hadn't just been placating the savior, though. Emma's plan was indeed overly sentimental – so overly sentimental that Regina was surprised Emma had even come up with it – but her parents would indeed adore it with all their hearts.
Heaving another sigh, Regina resumed her rummaging of the trunk. A glance at her phone proved they'd been in the vault for hours, which made it all the more frustrating that they hadn't accomplished much of anything yet.
She hadn't anticipated giving up her entire morning to help Emma create the perfect anniversary gift for her parents. The savior had a very specific idea of what she wanted to give them but as of yet, no one had even a hint as to how to realize said idea.
Still, Regina wasn't one to back down from a challenge. Somewhat selfishly, she wondered if helping Emma with this project would also make up in some small part for the grief Regina herself had caused Snow and David all those years ago.
Emma's project had seemed simple enough at the outset: she wanted to create a home movie. The idea had come to her after spotting her mother surreptitiously using her phone to record Emma blowing soap bubbles for little Neal in the backyard and his subsequent delight at watching them float around above his head. Where the project became difficult was that the home movie Emma wanted to give her parents was of her own childhood. Minus the video she'd recorded as a teenager with Lily, none existed.
So she'd asked Regina if there was a way to lift some of her good childhood memories and have them appear on physical media, which she could then give to her parents. She even had a short list of memories she wanted captured. There was her third grade class play in which she'd starred as Mother Goose. There was a group home outing to an amusement park when she was eleven. She wanted her parents to witness the meteor shower she'd watched with her foster brother at age six and delight in her winning her fourth grade class spelling bee. A seventh grade field trip to the Museum of Science in Boston rounded out the list.
There were other memories, too, Regina imagined. There had to be nice times Emma had lost sight of, good moments that had gotten lost in the upheaval of her life. The trick was somehow extracting those memories from Emma's head, changing the perspective so Snow and David could watch their little girl as she experienced those happy moments, and copying them to a medium that her parents could view.
Not exactly an easy feat.
"And you're certain you can make it only take the good memories?" Emma spoke up out of the blue, her tone once again unsure.
Yet another concern of Emma's was somehow tarnishing the entire project by accidentally extracting some bad memories along with the good ones. Cherry-picking the memories had seemed like a tall order at first blush but it had actually turned out to be the easiest part of the project. "Yes," Regina assured her. "The clove in the potion will guarantee only good memories will be taken. Relax, Emma."
"It'll all work out, love," Killian added. He rested his hand on his wife's shoulder and squeezed.
For once, Regina was glad for the pirate's involvement. His presence had a calming effect on Emma and surprisingly, he had given Regina the direction for this project. When Emma had explained what she wanted to do, the pirate had hesitantly reminded everyone that Emma had used dreamcatchers to watch others' memories on more than one occasion.
Regina understood his hesitance – Emma's history with dreamcatchers wasn't exactly sunshine and puppies – but she was glad he'd spoken up because the dreamcatchers were the key. All she had to do was modify the magic used to make them so that Emma's memories would remain intact once they were lifted and so that the memories could be archived on something Snow and David wouldn't need magic to activate.
Emma had brought both a blank VHS tape and a recordable DVD into the vault. If memories could be recorded onto dreamcatchers, she reasoned, then surely they could be recorded onto something a bit more modern. Regina wasn't sure that her logic fully tracked but she was willing to give it a shot.
Sometime during Regina's rumination on the magical problem in front of her, Emma had given in to her nervous energy. The book she'd been searching through lay open and abandoned as she paced the length of the vault. Killian kept a concerned eye on her but let her continue.
Which was all well and good for Killian but the constant back and forth was beginning to set Regina's teeth on edge. Emma Swan clearly needed something to do, something more than paging through a book on the off chance she would stumble across something helpful.
"Emma, you and Hook can get started on the potion for the memory extraction." As soon as the words were out of her mouth, Regina winced at the sharpness of her tone. She hadn't meant to sound so annoyed.
Though the pirate shot another warning glare in Regina's direction, Emma either didn't pick up on the mounting frustration – Regina with Emma and Killian with Regina – or didn't care. She was obviously relieved just to be given something productive to do. "Sure. Just tell me what the substitutions are."
Since Emma had worked the memory extraction magic before, Regina felt comfortable filling her in on the changes to the spell. While Emma and Killian got to work, Regina continued poring over her books, trying to find any mention of recording memories onto something other than a dreamcatcher.
After searching for a few more fruitless minutes, Regina slammed the book shut. VCRs didn't exist in the Enchanted Forest; she was never going to find what she was really looking for. No, her only solution was once again modifying the dreamcatcher magic.
As she ran her eyes over her magical items in an effort to determine what substitutions would have to be made, she heard Emma ask Killian to retrieve the clove for her. The pirate crossed the vault, picked up a bottle, and returned to his wife.
It struck Regina a moment later that he'd grabbed a blue bottle.
She kept her clove in a brown bottle.
The next few seconds seemed to happen both in slow motion and too quickly for Regina to stop. "No, wait, not that one!" Regina cried as Emma turned the bottle upside down over the beaker.
It was too late.
The second the contents from the blue bottle made contact with the potion, the flashover occurred. Regina ducked behind the trunk as the potion exploded in a flash of light and a billow of white smoke. Hopefully Emma and Killian had heard her warning in time to duck as well.
Somehow she didn't really think so.
Regina waited for the smoke to clear before almost hesitantly pushing herself to her feet. Adding the wrong ingredient to a potion could result in a range of outcomes, from the mild to the highly undesirable. She didn't get a good enough look at what Killian had grabbed instead of the clove, which meant she had no idea what to expect when she stood to face the savior and her pirate.
And though she'd had no idea what to expect, she certainly never expected this. Her jaw dropped open in shock and she blinked to make sure she was seeing clearly.
In front of Regina stood a boy and girl, both appearing to be about ten years old. The girl's hair fell around her shoulders in blonde waves, apprehension clouding her green eyes. The dark-haired little boy darted his curious blue gaze around the vault. His shoulders tensed and he drew in a sharp breath when he realized he didn't recognize his surroundings.
Oh no. No, this couldn't be happening. This could not really be happening.
The second the girl's eyes landed on Regina, she stiffened and took two steps backward. "Where am I and who the hell are you?"
Her voice seemed to draw the boy out of his shock. "Where's Liam?" he asked shakily. "Have you done something with him?"
Then again, maybe it could.
Wonderful, Regina thought in irritation. (And all right, perhaps a little panic, too.) Just wonderful.
The next time Emma Swan wanted magical help, she was on her own. Because now Regina was stuck with a pint-sized savior who clearly had an attitude problem and a terrified but pretending not to be pre-pirate. Neither one of them seemed to have any recollection of their adult lives, which meant they had no idea who Regina was.
Or anyone else in Storybrooke.
All right, she told herself, think. How the hell had the memory extraction potion had turned into … well, this? Asking Emma was a no-go because she was now a child who had no memory of what she'd been doing two minutes ago. (From what little Regina knew of Emma's childhood, she wouldn't believe in magic and fairy tales anyway at this age.) If Regina didn't know what had been done in the first place, she couldn't simply reverse the magic and … gods, this was a nightmare.
Regina glanced from little Emma, whose green eyes flashed in defiance as she crossed her arms protectively over her chest, to little Killian, who just looked panicked. How was she going to explain this to these children?
Hell, never mind the children. How was she going to explain this to Snow and David?