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 gave a slight roll of her eyes. 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 before set her sights on accomplishing something so magically ambitious. 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 quickly, she would have a cranky sheriff on her hands. And she did not want a cranky sheriff on her hands because a cranky sheriff would just as quickly lead to a cranky queen. "It's not a dumb idea," she assured Emma somewhat offhandedly. 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, her eyes wide in concern. "You think it's too sentimental?"
From his position next to his wife, Killian Jones shot Regina a warning glare. Her eye-roll reflex on 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 basically your mother's middle name. They're going to adore it."
Emma's shoulders slumped in relief as a tiny smile tugged at her lips. She dropped her gaze back down to the book, content for the moment to continue her search. 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 Emma, though. What she'd said was the gods' honest truth. 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 love it with all their hearts.
Heaving another sigh, Regina went back to rummaging in the trunk. She felt like they'd been in this damn vault for hours. A glance at her watch proved that they had.
She hadn't anticipated giving up her day to help Emma create the perfect anniversary gift for her parents. The savior had a very specific idea of what she wanted to do but so far, it didn't look like it could be done.
Still, Regina wasn't one to back down from a challenge. And somewhat selfishly, a little voice deep inside her wondered if maybe helping Emma with this project would help to make up in some small part for the grief she herself had caused Snow and Charming all those years ago.
Emma's project had seemed simple enough at the outset: she wanted to create a home movie. She'd thought of it after spotting her mother surreptitiously recording her 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 she wanted to give her parents a home movie 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 record 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 at 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 were bound to be nice times Emma had lost sight of, good moments that had gotten lost in the upheaval of her life. The trick to it all was somehow extracting those memories from Emma's head, changing the perspective so Snow and Charming could watch their little girl as she experiences those happy moments, and copying them to a medium that her parents could view.
Not exactly an easy feat.
"And you're sure you can make it so that it only takes the good ones?" Emma spoke up, 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. It seemed a tall order, picking and choosing like that, but the cherry-picking had turned out to be the easiest part of the project so far. "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 assured her. He rested his hand on her shoulder and squeezed.
Regina never thought she would say this but she was glad for the pirate's presence. He had a calming effect on Emma, for one, and surprisingly, he'd also given Regina the direction for beginning this project. When Emma had explained what she wanted to do, the pirate had noted that Emma had used dreamcatchers to watch others' memories on more than one occasion.
He'd seemed somewhat hesitant to even bring it up. Regina could understand why – Emma's history with dreamcatchers wasn't exactly sunshine and puppies – but she was glad he'd silenced his reluctance 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 recorded on something Snow and Charming wouldn't need magic to activate.
Emma had, of course, brought both a blank VHS tape and a recordable DVD. 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 while Regina was ruminating 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 her constant motion was beginning to set Regina's teeth on edge. Emma Swan clearly needed something to do that wasn't paging through a book on the off chance she would stumble across something helpful.
"Emma, you and Killian can get started on the potion for the memory extraction." Regina winced at the sharpness of her tone as soon as the words were out of her mouth. She hadn't meant to sound so annoyed.
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 just grateful to be given something to do. "Sure. Just tell me what the substitutions are."
Since she'd worked the memory extraction magic before, she was clearly comfortable enough with her assigned task. Regina filled 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. This wasn't helpful. She was never going to find what she was really looking for. After all, it wasn't as if VCRs existed in the Enchanted Forest. 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 do anything to stop the impending disaster. "No, wait, not that one!" Regina cried but it was too late.
Killian had already handed the blue bottle to Emma, who was now uncorking it and turning it upside down over the beaker. The second a root from the blue bottle made contact with Emma's potion, the flashover occurred. Regina ducked behind the trunk as the potion exploded in a flash of bright light and a billow of white smoke. Her only hope was that 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 had certainly never expected the sight before her. Her jaw dropped open in shock and she blinked to make sure she was seeing clearly.
No doubt about it; two small children were now standing where Emma and Killian had stood.
Regina found herself staring at a boy and girl, both appearing to be about ten years old. The girl's hair fell around her shoulders in blonde waves as apprehension and confusion clouded her green eyes. The dark-haired little boy darted his curious blue gaze around the vault, his shoulders tensing when he realized he didn't recognize his surroundings.
Oh no. No, this couldn't be happening. This couldn't really be happening.
The second the girl's gaze landed on Regina, she stiffened, took two steps backward, and set her shoulders. "Where am I and who the hell are you?"
Her voice seemed to draw the boy out of his shock. "Where are we? Where's Liam? Have you done something with him?"
Then again, maybe it could.
Wonderful, Regina thought in irritation. (And yes, 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. She didn't know what steps in the magical process Emma had taken, so she wasn't exactly sure how the memory extraction potion had turned into … well, this. It wasn't as if Regina could just ask her, either, because she was now a ten-year-old who clearly had no memory of what she'd been doing two minutes ago. From what little Regina knew of Emma's childhood, at this age, she wouldn't believe in magic and fairy tales anyway. And she couldn't simply reverse the magic if she didn't know what had been done in the first place and … gods, this was a nightmare.
Regina looked from little Emma, whose green eyes flashed in defiance as she crossed her arms 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 Charming?