A/N: Set in 1X03, "Snow Falls." Insert obvious spoiler warning here.

If there's one thing Mary Margaret Blanchard can rely on, she's yet to discover it. Love's not reliable, if you can even find it. Fathers can turn against daughters; lovers can part over the trifles of everyday life. Friends are even less trustworthy than love – they come and go like the southerly wind: here one minute, gone the next. Books aren't dependable, either, for that matter. Mary Margaret has devoted her entire life to books, but Once Upon a Time doesn't always end in Happily Ever After. In fact, it never really does.

Maybe some people would argue you can always rely on yourself, but when has that ever been true? She's allowed herself to be bullied and berated her entire life, and although the huntress inside of her doesn't allow it, her weak and feeble Cinderella self puts up with it. Even now she's gone and made the stupidest mistake of all, falling for a man who doesn't exist. She's crazier than Henry, but at least he has the excuse of seeing the world through child-like eyes. She's an adult, not a fairytale Princess. Adults don't fall in love with people who were never really there, and John Doe – David Nolan now? Isn't that summation of today? – was nothing more than a reflection in a mirror, a wisp of smoke that you can't ever catch with two hands.

Sighing, she allows herself to rest on the steps in her silent apartment, partly from the weariness of an emotional day and romp in the woods and partly from a dragon-like pessimism she can't fight off, and a few seconds turn to minutes as she contemplates the only true thing she can rely on.

She doesn't remember where she found it – was it one of her mother's old pieces of jewelry? Did she find it at a garage sale? The details are all a bit fuzzy… - but it's been the only constant in her life. The ring, with its light green stone and shiny band, is the only thing she can always remember being there in her life. It fills her with a memory, though she can't recall just what. The green reminds her of a leafy forest that she's never actually been to, a voice she can't quite place. It's this simple piece of decoration that keeps her from feeling alone.

But she is alone, isn't she? A silly jewel – and one that's probably fake, at that – doesn't keep you warm at night. It doesn't provide you with stimulating conversation, nor does it put a laugh in your heart and a beat in your step. When it comes down to it, it's just a cold, hard piece of metal, not unlike what her heart feels like more and more every day.

She's decided to throw the thing away, to let it slip down the drain where she can't retrieve it and let her dreams and hopes go with it, when she's startled by a knock at the door. Absent-mindlessly, she slips it back on her middle finger where it's rested as long as she can remember, all thoughts of letting it slip away forgotten.

A person can only be alone for so long.