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Author's Note: Written for flipflop-diva for the Yuletide 2011 Challenge.

The Swan Princess
by LJC

Emma Swan never liked fairy tales. Or Disney movies. Or signing mice, riddles, anything involving leiderhosen, or even when you got right down to it, stories with girls in towers waiting to be rescued.

Emma Swan never understood the appeal. Sure, there were supposed to be kickass earlier versions-before the House of Mouse got ahold of them-where red Riding Hood gutted the wolf herself, or Cinderella's step sisters cut off their heels and toes (ew!) to try and make the glass slipper fit.

When she saw little girls in pink tutus, wearing tiaras and waving magic wands, all she wanted to do was give them copies of Anne of Green Gables and suggest they focus their energies on learning useful skills like lock-picking, small arms, and how to pack a week's worth of clothes into hand luggage.

Emma was aware that this did not really help her make friends and influence people. Particularly her peers from high school who tracked her down on Facebook, most of whom had rugrats who had drunk the Disney Kool-Aid and gave her dark looks when she suggested that Kiera Knightly from Pirates of the Caribbean was a way better role model than Ariel. She got to mack on Orlando Bloom, Johnny Depp, and the hot guy from Coupling, not to mention became a Pirate Queen.

So when Henry showed up at her door with that damned book and told her he had to help lift a freaking curse, Emma knew what she ought to have done was slam the door in the kid's face and take the next job out of town immediately.

Instead, here she was in Storybrooke, ME, which was straight out of a freaking Twilight Zone episode, filled with crazy people who may or may not be feeding her kid's delusions with their little quirks and foibles.

Like Madame Mayor with her damned apple tree.

(Oh, but it had felt so good to heft that chainsaw, and see those shiny red apples hit the dirt.)

Or the shrink with his ever-present umbrella.

Sure, Henry was a great kid and all. He'd definitely inherited her mule stubbornness, and knack for cutting through bullshit. That was for sure. But she just couldn't buy the idea that there was any other world out there than the one they were living in, taxes and pollution and all. Nobody got woken up from a coma with a kiss. Princesses didn't prick their fingers on convenient spinning wheels. And there was no such thing as Fairy Godmothers who made all your wishes come true with a diddy and a handful of glitter.

The real world-the world they were all stuck living in, whether henry liked it or not, was full of disappointments. You got up and did your job and maybe, just maybe, no-one screwed you over. If you were lucky. Emma Swan believed in luck. She'd had enough of it (bad) to make her look out for number one first and foremost. She'd seen enough of it (good) to know that the kid she gave up for adoption lived in a freaking mansion, had great teeth, and would probably end up a Harvard MBA if his scary mother had anything to say about it.

If more little girls swapped their tutus for cutlasses, Emma was convinced everybody would be better off. No more waiting around to be swept off your feet by some dude on a white horse with more hair gel than common sense. No more sleeping for a hundred years, waiting for love's first kiss. Who falls in love before they've even taken someone for a test-drive, anyway? And who in their right mind would trust some dude who fell in love with a pretty face, having no idea if it belonged to a someone who knew the name of the Speaker of the House, or how to make scrambled eggs? It just never made any damned sense to her. Fairy tales just set you up with ridiculous expectations, and none of the skills to actually make your own dreams come true.

But what really got her was Graham.

The guy probably looked about twelve under the beard, and the accent was appealing and all, sure. But what was up with the vests? Not to mention the fact that she was constantly getting mixed signals from him. One minute he was cozying up to her with doughnuts, trying to get her to be his Barney Fife. The next minute he was leaping hedgerows in a single bound to hide the fact that he was shtupping the Dragon Lady.

Okay, so maybe Emma was more than a bit narked by Graham G. Graham. Because every now and then she'd catch him watching her out of the corner of his eye, looking like he wanted to ask her to the prom and maybe wear his letterman's jacket. And the next he'd be all business.

What bugged her most about Graham was that she was sitting around, waiting for him to make a move. That had never been Emma's style. If she liked what she saw, she made sure the guy knew it. Okay, so her relationship track record was practically non-existent. But at least with Graham, if they ended up handcuffed to a motel room bed, at least one of them was sure to have a key. But when she was around him, it was like she was a dorky tenth grader with braces and frizzy hair all over again, too unsure of herself and her own feelings to make any kind of move other than passing him a note in study hall with "Do you like me? Circle 1: y n" written in blue ballpoint.

It was like she had given in to Henry's crazy psychosis, and built her own walled tower brick by brick and was waiting for him to show up and ask her to throw him a rope ladder.

As she sat in the diner, nursing a cup of coffee, watching creepy Mr Gold walk up and down the street like he owned it, she wished just once that the town was full of pirates. Maybe if there were sword fights, it would all be better. Then she could just swash and buckle her way up to Graham, jump his bones, and swan off with a grin and a rapier, instead of waiting for all this "Happily Ever After" crap to kick in.

Emma Swan figured, hey... if you gotta be stuck in a Disney movie, screw the singing mice. Pirates were totally the way to go.