/|\ Paradise /|\
Spoilers for the entire season
Once upon a time, there was a princess.
Now, this wasn't just any ordinary princess. She is Princess Emma, with her golden curls framing her face and her wide inquisitive blue eyes, and her unique stubbornness. The savior of all of the land, the hope, the one who relinquishes the hold of the Evil Queen's curse on all who live in their kingdom. She is the sun, the brightness, the light to everyone who has had the luck to know her.
The thing is, though, nobody remembers her.
Oh, there are a select few – such as Mary Margaret, who is cradling her bleeding husband, trying to kiss him awake. Her white dress fans out under her, and she feel a digging and painful soreness in her lower abdomen. Her hair is longer, slightly damp from sweat and hanging down past her shoulders. And then the man does awake, gasping, and clings to her, squeezing her to his body. She laughs breathlessly, and looks up at the magical wooden wardrobe. A baby sits there, gurgling happily, fists waving at the air, twisting back and forth in her customized blanket.
"David," She grins down at the man in her arms. "She did it. Emma did it."
He pulls her down for a kiss, and sits up. He looks slightly dazed, his hair rumpled, and he drags himself over to his daughter, picking her up in his arms and resting back next to his wife on the ground.
"Emma's amazing," He breathes to her, and his heart stutters in his chest just looking at her blinding smile. He rocks the baby, and hands her to the woman.
"Oh, Emma, my baby girl," Mary Margaret – now, returned to Snow White – coos gently, holding her close to her chest. "David – we're back. We're home."
He reaches up to cup her neck, his thumbs running across the apples of her cheeks. "It's James now, Snow. David's gone."
Snow blinks at him, her fingers curling at her squirming daughter. "I think... we'll always be Mary Margaret and David."
He grins at her, and leans forward to rest his forehead against hers. She sighs happily, cradling her in between their warmth. This is one of the happiest moments she can remember. She feels like she is floating, and the way James is looking at her, his eyes gleaming with tears that haven't been shed yet, she can tell he feels the exact same.
"Snow, what are you doing out of bed?"
Time seems to pop the bubble, and she looks up, dazed. Doc is looking down at her, his eyes puzzled, and then they widen almost comically at the blood on James's white shirt.
"What – why are you bleeding, James? And why is your daughter here..."
Snow's eyes widen, and she looks from her husband to the dwarf, her own eyes wide. "James he... tripped and I heard him shout. I got worried."
James nods along with her.
Doc scratches his scalp, and pushes his glasses up the bridge of his nose. "And you brought Emma, too?"
Snow stares at him with her mouth open, fumbling for a response, when James pipes up, "Uh, she didn't want to leave her alone. With the Evil Queen around, it seemed like a large risk."
Doc's eyebrows lift, his nose wrinkling. "I'm sorry, who?"
There is a dead silence, where both James and Snow's stomach fills with dread. She grabs James's arm, and throws Doc a smile. "He must've hit his head when he fell. Right?"
The last bit was forceful, and James swallows and nods in agreement. "Yes, of course."
The dwarf watches them, a look of amusement and confusion still across his features, before he shrugs. "Well, you just gave birth, Your Majesty. You should come back to your bed."
They scramble up, Snow leaning slightly on James, and they lie down in their bed, as close together as possible, holding the sleeping Emma.
"Nobody remembers the Evil Queen, Charming," Snow says, her head tilting back to look at him.
His hands rub against her arms. "Maybe this is a result of Emma breaking the curse. Nobody remembers the horrors Regina caused, here or in Storybrooke. All the happy endings she robbed from everyone..."
"Perhaps it is a blessing," Snow muses out loud. Emma clutches onto one of her fingers in her sleep, and she smiles down at her softly. "For all of us."
The two are quiet for a moment, before James speaks up, his voice catching in his throat. "Henry doesn't exist here."
Snow is immediately saddened, and she pulls herself closer to her husband. "Maybe one day, we will see him again. No one can be gone forever. But for now, our priority is Emma. To raise her like we couldn't before..."
"Anything for Emma," James agrees quietly, repeating his daughters name with a reverent voice.
They stay up all night, soothing, feeding, or changing their daughter when she awoke in a fit of tears, and just watched her, taking in her pink and delicate face, the gentle and cute slope of her nose, as well as the smattering of blonde peach fuzz at the top of her head, already starting to gently curl into spirals.
Emma is three and a half when there is the first assassination attempt.
Snow was roaming the castle gardens, holding Emma's hand as she giggles, picking up the odd flower or leaf and showing it to her mother, face splitting into a wide grin as she beams with child-like pride. The hot summer sun shines down on her golden hair, light reflecting off of it, and Snow watches in amazement as her daughter twirls around, carefree and happy, her dress shifting and bubbling up around her.
She's sitting down next to the fountain, absently reading a book as Emma tumbles around in the grass, when she hears a scream. Snow panics, throwing her book aside and leaps up.
"Emma!" She yells out, voice cracking slightly, panic consuming her.
The little girl in question starts crying, holding onto her left arm, blood seeping through her fingers. An arrow is embedded in the tree behind her. Guards are already pouring out of the castle as she runs and grabs her daughter, holding her as close as possible. A triage of arrows begin bombarding them, digging into the ground behind her feet, and she ducks into the castle.
Snow is panting, holding her crying daughter, when she hears the guards capture whoever the assailant was. But she hears his bone-chilling exclamation before he is dead.
"For the real Queen!"
She chokes back a sob for her own daughter, and carries her to the infirmary, murmuring comforting words the entire time, rocking her back and forth.
"No one will hurt you again, baby girl, I promise."
It's a saying that clings to her from the world with no happy endings, where every one used to be trapped. It pops up, unbidden and uncontrollable, in her head.
Promises are meant to be broken.
She's thirteen, smiling from on top of her first horse, her father holding onto the reins as she leads her around a specially set up ring with small jumps. Her hair is still long, still curly, and is still as bright as the sun. Hints of childish fat cling to the edges of her red cheeks.
"But Father," She rolls her eyes, fidgeting her large dress as the horse lopes around gracefully. "How am I supposed to canter quickly if I'm to be riding side saddle in a dress?" She sneers the word, her nose wrinkling with displeasure, making it sound like a forbidden cuss.
Her father slows the dappled gray horse, and grins up at her from under his lashes, a teasing smile spreading over his face. "I think you're too young to go that fast."
Emma puts on a faux pout, fighting to hide her own smile, and crosses her arms. "Mother wears trousers – even leather ones on occasion! And she can wander around the forests alone. Why can't I?"
James over exaggerates his sighs, before he lifts out his arms, stretching up towards her, and her own blue eyes light up and she grabs his shoulders. He lifts her up into the air, and pulls her down towards him. She laughs at the height, grabbing him to steady herself.
"Now, where do we get a pair of trousers for girls, Father?"
He opens his mouth to reply, but the sound of a sword unsheathing freezes them both. He whips around, his arm already pushing his daughter behind him, ignoring her surprised protests and squirms.
She gazes at the man in armor – a deep black color which radiates something malicious that makes her subconsciously gulp in fear and shrink backwards, away from the threat. Plumes sprout off the back of the midnight helm, and the black armor covers the bridge of their nose, keeping their identity unknown. Emma isn't sure where her father drew his sword from, but she watches in slight fascination as the two circle each other like predators.
"My Queen wants her dead," The deep voice growls menacingly, sword gesturing with a jerk towards her own slight form. Icy cold pools in the pit of her stomach as she lets out a gasp.
"Your Queen is the one who is dead." Her father calmly retorts back, his words spitting out at the armor-clad stranger.
She isn't sure where the idea comes from, but her hand slips behind her towards the saddle of her horse, reaching into the side bag, and pulls out a dagger. She slides it up her arm, holding it tight, careful to keep the blade away from her own skin to prevent damage, and hiding it from view.
"She's quite a tiny thing, isn't she? Not very appealing. One so small to destroy such a powerful Queen, our one and only Regina. "Bring me her heart," she said."
"Leave," Her father points his own sword at the intruder, eyes growing hard at the name, his grip firm around the blade. "Leave, before I kill you myself, rebel."
The eyes of the two men appraise each other almost clinically, and then they lunge, their swords parrying against each other with a loud metal clang. Emma backs up into the muscular legs of her horse, hand clutching the dagger tighter. The hilt of it digs into her skin.
She isn't sure why the other castle guards have shown up, and she cries out when the black knight pushes her father down and starts running at her. She stays still however, ignoring the tears streaming down her face and her overwhelming instinct to run, and her arm clenches in preparation. The eyes of the soldier are manic, a dark brown that seems to glow black. They are blank, empty of almost all emotion besides one: determination. Determination to kill her. A hand reaches out to her, and she looks at the creases in between the scarred and worn armor, throws her own arm back, and digs the dagger in between.
The man yowls, leaping away from her, the dagger still protruding from his arm awkwardly. Her father already is up off the ground, slamming the hilt of his sword onto the attacker's head and knocking him out. Suddenly, he is on his knees, holding her shoulders and gently shaking her, one hand cupping her cheek to make her look away from the body and look at him.
"Did he hurt you, Emma?" He sounds panicked. She shakes her head in a daze, looking back at the bleeding form of the man behind James.
"Who is the Evil Queen, Daddy?" She whispers, holding him closer. The childish name for him slips from her lips at a moment of severe weakness. "Why are they considered rebels?"
He doesn't answer her, only pulls her into his arms, carrying her to the castle. Her head is pressed into his shoulders, but her eyes are trained on the unconscious form of her assailant, already being hauled up by the castle guards. She blinks back at the scene, and all she can remembers is the red blood that drips down from his arm, soaking into the green grass.
She's lying in her bed, hours later, the open glass window blowing in cool wind from the night. Emma isn't asleep, though; she's staring at the stone wall of her bedroom, focusing on the heated conversation her parents are having just outside of her door.
"The rebels are getting closer, James!"
"You think I don't know that?" She hears her father hiss. A mental image of him running his hands through his short cropped hair pops into her head. "This is the second attempt. If she didn't get that knife from the –"
"Knife?" Snow interjects, her voice raising to a yell. "What knife? She had a knife!"
He sighs patiently. Emma hears the shuffle of footsteps. "Well, it was more of a dagger, but –"
"You let Emma carry around a dagger?"
"Snow!" There is a tense moment of quiet, and when her father talks again, his voice is filled with patience. "I let her use my saddle for a lesson today. It was in the bag."
She hears a muffled thump; perhaps her mother slapping her own face and forehead with her palm. It seems like a weary gesture. "There is a small number of people in our kingdom who remember their other lives. They think Regina is their actual Queen. How are we supposed to protect Emma?" It's a whisper that sounds stricken.
The silence is deafening, and then James says, "We could keep her here."
"What, lock her in a tower for the rest of her life?" Snow replies scathingly. "That sounds like the other world's fairytale."
"She's safer here then she is anywhere else, Snow." He says fondly. There is another one of those silences where she knows her parents are staring at each other with loving and affectionate gazes, the kind that she feels like she has to turn away because she is encroaching in their private moment.
She then hears footsteps, and their words become slurs of indistinguishable sentences as they walk down the hall, presumably to their own bedroom.
Emma stares at the wall, her thoughts whirling around her head, moving too fast to form into a plausible thought or theory.
A wolf howls at the moon, and the sound echoes around her sanctuary. Strangely, the noise seems to comfort her.
Welcome to my new story! I know, no Graham in this chapter... but this story has turned into a beast. It's already 16,000 words... and counting. Another bit of information, English is not my first language! Just some background information: AU, post-curse... and, like Snow said, there are some who are unhappy with being returned to Fairy Tale Land and think Storybrooke is their happy ending. More will be revealed in later chapters. This story also assumes that Graham is Emma's happy ending and vice versa.
Here's a snippet of the next chapter:
" "He is actually my brother."
Her head whips to look at him. He is already half embarrassed, looking away from her and at the counter.
"Who?" She asks, sticking a whipped cream covered finger into her mouth.
She blinks at the Huntsman several times, staring at him, and he eventually looks up at her through his eyelashes to meet her gaze. Emma opens her mouth, and –
– prison cells, I'm afraid Miss Swan you're under arrest again, leather jackets, Sometimes cliches are true, doughnuts, What's with the siren, It's so hard to get your attention, sheriffs badges, You have a heart, I need to feel something, Why do you care how I look at you – " "
Oh-ho, what is Emma having flashbacks of?
And concerning the age difference, since this is AU I've made Graham not even a year older than her because... well, they are each others happiness and the curse restores all the happy endings. More will be revealed in later chapters. :D But don't worry... he's not going to be a pedophile.
Please leave a review!