DISCLAIMER:: do not own. just borrowing for purpose of creative expression. no profit obtained.

A/N:: sorry this took so long. this is the seventh time i've rewritten this conclusion. i invested so much time in this story that i wanted to end it right and i hope i've done that. i really love how it turned out. and i'm not gonna lie, i kinda sorta cried (we're talking wailing/sobbing) for hours while writing this. there were celine dion and reba mcentire songs involved... it was not pretty. anyways, drop me a review and let me know what you think. enjoy and thanks for staying with me on this crazy ride. my readers are love.


She stood in the street where forest suddenly broke way into the little sleepy town that she had called home for thirty years. It had changed little in her absence. It still appeared just as they'd left it, as if waiting for her to come back. She wondered briefly how people in this world explained the sudden abandonment of a town by all its citizens. Mass exodus had been a part of history before, but to leave everything behind? There were traces of the lives that had been lived here everywhere, but no sign of those that had lived them.

She stopped in front of an old familiar building. Mr. Gold's Pawn Shop. The sign in the front door told her the shop was closed. As she peered through the front door, she took note that most of the items he'd collected over the years were gone. It seems they too had returned to the old world when the curse broke. Everything had gone back to its proper place. All that remained in the shop were the items he'd acquired after coming to this world, pointless knick knacks from the fake lives lived in this town for all those years. She wrapped her arms tighter around herself and continued on.

Next she came to a stop in front of the diner. The handmade signs advertising the current specials still hung in the windows. She walked up to the door and tried it. It was unlocked. She went inside and looked around the place where she had spent so many of her days, first by herself, then with Henry, and finally with Miss Swan. She walked over to their usual booth and sat down, running her hand fondly across the aged and chipped surface of the diner table. She looked towards the counter and could almost see Ruby flouncing around behind it, apron folded over and tied around her waist, white t-shirt barely managing to cover her cleavage and offering up a sliver of stomach to the eyes of the patrons. Her hair would be a wild mess, but somehow it worked for her, her cheeky grin permanently affixed to her face. Regina missed the easiness of this place. She sighed and got up. She was here for a reason, and it wasn't to reminisce.

She exited the diner and walked the couple blocks to the schoolteacher's apartment on autopilot. It was as good a place to start as any.

She stepped up to the door and raised her hand to knock, but immediately dropped it. She tried the knob and was unsurprised to find it unlocked. The empty little loft apartment greeted her. She glanced around. Would Emma have returned here? She would have gone someplace familiar, surely? "Emma?"

There was no answer. Just silence. Emma wasn't there.


The station seemed just as cold and empty as the rest of the buildings in town. But there was a difference here. She saw traces of Emma Swan here. She stood in the doorway of the small office that had belonged to the blonde when she was the voice of the law in Storybrooke. Regina smiled to herself. All in all, Emma had been a good sheriff, when Regina had let her. She looked to the empty deputy's desk across the room where Emma had first made a name for herself here.

Regina eyed her warily. "Why'd you do it?"

Emma smiled. "Kiss you?"

Regina nodded. "Was it just to mess with me?"

"Because I wanted to."

The two women stared at each other for several drawn out moments.

She looked away from the younger woman. "What am I doing here?"

She had said it more to herself than to Emma, but the sheriff answered regardless. "You don't want to feel alone anymore."

Emma's finger traced Regina's bottom lip lightly and she took a chance at a connection and leaned in, kissing her dizzily.

Regina closed her eyes against the memory, tears pooling at the sides, threatening to fall. It just reminded her, once again, of why she was here.


108 Mifflin Street. The white house seemed somehow less imposing now than it had all the years in which she'd occupied it. Now it was merely an empty house in an abandoned town. She cautiously opened the front gate and walked up the pristine walkway. The house watched her with empty eyes. Despite having spent over half her life in the other realm, somehow this still felt like home. Her happiest memories were spent in this house. This was the first place she'd ever truly touched Emma, ever been kissed by her and kissed back. It was the place she'd raised their son. How could it not be home?

She reached into the little hidden space behind one of the shutters and retrieved the key she already knew would still be there. She unlocked the front door and opened it, going inside. Her breath caught in her throat. She hadn't expected to feel this way coming back here. She saw the pictures on the foyer table, a couple of Henry, one with her and Emma. She put a hand to her mouth to hold back the sob. Her reason for being here was the only thing that kept her knees from going out from under her.


Silence answered her.

She migrated through the rooms, memories assaulting her with each step. Walking through her former home was like exploring her history. She felt her connection to this place with every breath. It was a temple to the life she'd created here, the only life that had ever mattered.

She ran her hand over the closed door to her bedroom, the last room she had left to check, and in many ways, the most sacred. It was the room in which her love had redeemed her. In this room, she and Emma had fallen into each other, they had become something more than the two lonely beings they'd been before they'd found each other. Her hand lingered on the handle, before she took a deep breath and opened it.

The first thing she noticed was the smell, so distinctly Emma that it made her cry out. The bed was unmade, recently slept in. Her heart wrenched. Emma had been here. It had to have been Emma. She stumbled over to the bed and sat heavily upon it. She grabbed the pillow and clutched it to her chest, burying her face in it. One inhale and the scent of Emma filled her nostrils. She was alive; she was here.

Still clutching the pillow, she walked to the window and looked down at her prized apple tree. The jagged stump of a branch where Emma had once taken a chainsaw to it in anger. Where once she had thought it an atrocity, a blemish on an otherwise perfect thing, now she couldn't even remember how it'd looked before. The damage, once unsightly, now was so much a part of the tree. And that was exactly how Emma Swan had always been in her life.


She had tried to wait, but she'd grown restless after an hour. She decided to be proactive and go find Emma herself, if she had indeed stayed in Storybrooke. She could have left a few days ago, tired of waiting for Regina to come for her.

She hadn't intended to end up at City Hall. Emma wouldn't be here, of that she was sure. But her legs had brought her here of their own accord. She stared around her office, so cold and impersonal, a reminder of the person she was before Emma Swan. She wasn't the person who'd been so comfortable behind that desk anymore. Emma had changed her. Love had changed her.

Her heart gave a painful lurch. She wanted Emma. She wanted to touch her. Hadn't it been long enough already? She wasn't at the station, she wasn't at Granny's, she wasn't at Mary Margaret's, she wasn't home…. Where else would she go? And then the answer came to her, plain as day. Of course.


"So this is Henry's castle?" Regina eyed the shamble of a playground, well, what had once been a playground. It was discreet, on the very outskirts of the harbor. No one would come over here. Smart boy.

Emma climbed up and held her hand down to help Regina up.

Regina shook her head. "It looks about to collapse."

Emma rolled her eyes. "We're facing the impending apocalypse and you're worried about the stability of old playground equipment?"

Regina grabbed her hand. "Point taken."

Emma sat down facing the ocean as she had many a time with Henry. Regina lowered herself down next to the blonde.

"He'd be mad if he knew you'd given up his secret, especially to me."

Emma frowned. "I have a feeling he'll forgive me." She glanced at Regina. "I love it here. If I'm facing the end, I'd like it to be here, on my terms."

She stood at the edge of the overgrown parking lot, staring out at the rickety old playground. It looked just as unstable as ever, stoic and unchanged in the absence of the curse just as the rest of the town was.

She was there, her blonde waves blowing in the wind coming in off the harbour. She was looking to the water as if it would deliver to her all the answers she sought. She looked just as she had the day Regina met her, right down to the awful red jacket that Regina had come to love because it was just so Emma.

She walked slowly along the back of the small playground, the blonde still oblivious to her presence. Another breeze blew off the harbour, blowing Emma's scent to her and her knees threatened to collapse underneath her. She stopped just short of the playground castle. What should she say? After all this time apart, all this searching… now she found what she'd been looking for and she felt tongue tied. So she said the first thing that came to her mind. "I thought I burned that awful jacket."

The blonde tensed, her back going rigid. Slowly, Emma turned, crossing her arms and regarding Regina warily. "If you had, you wouldn't be here now, you'd be dead."

"Is that so?" Regina raised an eyebrow.

Emma nodded. "I love this jacket. It's what I was wearing when I met you."

Regina smiled. She couldn't argue with that. "I came for you."

Emma smiled, tears brimming her eyes. "I knew you would." She walked over to the stairs and stepped down, coming around the weather worn wooden structure until she was standing face to face with the brunette. And she looked perfect, the exact being from Regina's fondest memories. "I waited for you."

Regina couldn't stop her own tears from streaming out the corners of her eyes. "I'm sorry it took me so long to catch up."

Emma shrugged, wiping her own tears away. "I would have waited forever."

Regina took a step forward. She reached out, her fingers hovering inches from the blonde's cheek. "Emma…"

Emma took a step forward into the caress, shivering as the brunette's fingers made contact with her skin. Her green eyes brightened at the contact, as if she had believed it a dream until this moment when it was finally proven real. "Regina." Her composure cracked and she pulled the older woman's mouth to hers as tears streamed freely from her eyes.


Regina closed her eyes, savouring the feeling. Emma's naked body was draped across hers, their skin still sweaty from the bedroom activities they'd been immersed in for the better part of the afternoon. The blonde, even now, was still pressing kisses lazily to the skin on her throat and shoulder.

"I love you Regina."

Regina felt her heart leap in response to the blonde's words. She had a feeling it would never stop stuttering every time she heard those words fall from Emma's lips. "And I love you, my precious Emma." She ran her fingers through blonde waves.

Emma stopped kissing her skin in favour of resting her head in the crook of the older woman's neck. She was silent for so long that Regina knew she must have fallen asleep, until a hand caressing her hip proved she'd assumed wrong. "Do we have to go back?"

Regina halted the hand running through golden locks and frowned. "What do you mean?"

Emma bit her bottom lip as she lifted her head to look into Regina's eyes. "What would happen if we… stayed here?"

Regina frowned, the hand that had been running through the blonde's hair coming around to caress her cheek. "You want to stay in this world?"

Emma nodded. "This is home to me. I didn't grow up in that world. If it's where you want to be, then I will gladly go back with you and we can live out the rest of our days in your castle, or with my parents, or even in a tree house Swiss Family Robinson style for all I care. But if there's a part of you that feels like you belong here, then let's stay."

"And what of Henry?"

"Henry's a grown man, heir to the throne in my absence. He doesn't remember me, and anything I could have taught him about life revolves around this world, not that one. I'd just be a presence in his life, my time to be a mother to him is long over. It was over the second we put him in that wardrobe."

Regina thought on it for a moment before realizing she had to agree with Emma. Henry was no longer their little boy. Even if he did somehow manage to regain his memories, there was still a huge part of his life that they'd missed and he was a man grown. He was about to marry! She ran her thumb gently across Emma's cheek as she gazed into green eyes. She knew in her heart that her choice had been made the second she drank the contents of that vial. "You realize that, when Peyton opens the portal that will take us back… if we ignore the magic… we may never have that chance again?"

Emma nodded, her eyes having no trace of doubt.

Finally Regina nodded. What did she have to go back to? Now that Rumpelstiltskin was dead, his spell could not be undone. No one would remember her deeds, her very identity there was forfeit. Emma hated being a Princess and the expectation and standards that came with nobility. They'd both be happier here. "My only desire is to spend forever with you, where we spend it is of little consequence."

Emma leaned in and captured her lips in a searing kiss. Finally she pulled away. "Forever sounds perfect."


Peyton stared out the window, a thoughtful expression on her pretty face. It was her wedding day. Today, she was to become a Princess, and one day, she would be Queen of the Enchanted Forest. It seemed crazy to her that less than a year ago, she had been just a villager, in love with a boy. Now she spent her days practicing magic and taking lessons from the Queen on how to be a proper noble. It was exhausting trying to memorize all the rules but she found that the sparkle in Snow's eyes was worth the annoyance. Snow had never gotten the opportunity to be a mother to her own daughter and it was obvious it was a role she was made for. And Peyton herself had never had a mother to speak of, so they fit the missing roles in each others' lives well.

It had been three long months since she'd done the spell to open the portal to the other world. She'd nearly lost her life in the attempt, it had drained her strength quickly. But no one had come through. Snow had collapsed in a fit of tears, her hopes of having her daughter back instantly dashed. The Queen had not noticed the letter that fell through the magical void just moments before Peyton became unable to sustain the portal any longer. It had been addressed to Peyton, so she'd scooped it into the folds of her skirts before the Queen could take notice.

Once she was in the privacy of her chambers, she read Regina's final words. She had successfully located the Princess. But they would not be returning. It had broken her heart and she'd cried for days, the other nobles just assuming it was her grief over the spell failing. But it hadn't failed, they'd just chosen not to return. Regina entrusted her with the secret, stating Snow, James, and Henry must never know. It would surely break their heart to know that Emma had made this choice. She'd had Snow create another glass coffin for Regina, such as the one Emma resided in, just in case, one day, they might have need to come back.

A knock on her door startled her out of her thoughts. She looked up to see Snow White standing in the doorway, in a light green gown that brought out her eyes. She looked grand, just like a Queen.

"They're waiting for you Princess."

Peyton nodded and moved from the window. "A Princess never makes her true love wait." She took Snow White's offered arm and let the Queen lead her down towards the Great Hall and her waiting Prince, the whole time sending her silent thanks across worlds to the two women who had blessed her with him.

And if one took her vacated position by the window they would look down onto two graves by the edge of the sea, the conclusion to the fairytale of the Swan Princess and her true love.