A/N: Because the show got very, very close to everything I have ever hoped it will be. Spoilers for 1x07.

heart

Once upon a time there was a Queen who once had a first name, but people called her wicked and did not care to remember her as a human woman, much the less one with a name.

Once upon a time there was a Queen who had married a man with a daughter who looked serene but was incurably wicked, with lips red as the rose, hair black as ebony, and skin white as snow. The Queen hated the daughter and so, despite the love she bore the girl's father, she destroyed him for bringing such a beautiful terror into the world.

Once upon a time there was a Queen who knew that she must keep more blood off her hands, no matter how desperately she wanted to be rid of that little changeling people called her stepdaughter. And she used her Magic Mirror to find a huntsman in the woods, one who would not know the meaning of empathy, who would show no mercy, who could bring the daughter's heart back to her.

Once upon a time there was a Queen who wanted that huntsman for her bed, and she told him that she would give him the world if he proved himself wolfish enough. He told her he was raised by wolves, and he would not fail her, and he would prove to have no heart. But when the time came to kill her stepdaughter, he was a sheep, and he let her live, and gave the Queen a stag's heart instead.

Once upon a time there was a Queen who decided that despite this failure the huntsman may still be of some use. So she crushed the stag's heart he had given her and replaced it with his own, and when he was heartless, she found him useful and willing and perfect in her bed, for at last he was the wolf he had promised he had been.

Once upon a time there was a Queen who laid out a powerful curse and pulled the hopes of all she knew down low. She found the huntsman again under a different name and he proved useful and willing and perfect in her bed again for a long, good time. And she wound him in her arms, and he never wanted to leave.

Once upon a time there was a Queen and her heartless huntsman who had a good life, once, but were disrupted by a wicked swan girl, with long blond hair and a need to invade everything. And one day, the huntsman kissed the swan. And everything was ruined because now he knew who he had been, and he knew that he no longer had a heart.

Once upon a time there was a Queen who knew the huntsman's time had run out, both in this world and the next, and tears rolled down to her ruby-red lips as she squeezed his heart for the very last time. The huntsman was dead, his hour over once more. And sometimes late at night she would still curl around him though he was not there. And when she awoke she would remember his betrayal, and the way he had looked at the swan, and the way he had gasped when she had taken his heart, and each day she grew more and more enraged.