Disclaimer: Nothing you recognize from the show is mine.
A/N: Here it is...my first multi-chapter Mary Margaret (Snow)/Emma story. It's AU, which is a new endeavor for me as I usually stick to canon. But this idea has been in my head ever since we found out that Geppetto's contraption could have held two. As many of you know, I love the mother-daughter relationship between Emma and Mary Margaret; I find it one of the most fascinating aspects of the show. There will be plenty of mother-daughter moments to go around!
A million and one thanks to Melissa for beta-ing multiple drafts!
"Stay close, Emma," Snow warned as they neared the crosswalk. "You have to be careful."
"Yes, Mama." Emma took Snow's hand and smiled up at her.
Snow squeezed back and led her daughter into the street. She still hadn't gotten entirely used to the cars that were zooming by on the busy roads, nor the lights that directed them, but after six years in this world, she'd learned to put her curiosities aside and go along with it. What amazed her the most was that Emma didn't seem to be bothered by them at all, as though she'd never known anything else – which, Snow constantly reminded herself, she hadn't.
She'd been raising her daughter alone ever since she'd arrived here in Geppetto's strange contraption with a newborn in her arms. Emma had been born earlier than expected, but as it turned out, the cabinet could take more than one. The Blue Fairy had arrived at the last minute to say that because Emma was still so young, she could make it through, too. At the time, no one had questioned this decision.
She didn't remember much about that night, but she could remember the pain. The birth was painful, running was painful, and losing James was the most painful of all. The enemy had been on them almost immediately. James fought ferociously, Snow weaving through the battle field, clutching Emma protectively to her chest. She trained her eyes on the cabinet, not daring to see how James was doing. It would have been too hard to keep going otherwise.
It seemed like the best idea at the time, but it still pained her that she didn't know James' fate. She hadn't even had a chance to say good-bye.
"Mama?" Emma's voice seemed to come from far away. Snow felt a gentle tugging on her arm and pulled herself back to the present. "Where are we going?"
"Oh…" Snow blinked at the unfamiliar streets. She had not yet been to the new town hall building. Some donor had given millions of dollars to redesign all the local government buildings last month, and the city center now looked entirely unrecognizable. "I think it's this way," she said, gesturing to the right. She could just make out the impressive white buildings in the distance.
Emma followed her down the busy street, her long hair rippling in the wind behind her. Snow still marveled at how golden Emma's tresses were; her own hair was so dark. She'd expected Emma's hair to turn darker as she grew older, but it still remained as bright and blonde as ever.
"Why do I have to go to school, Mama?" Emma wanted to know.
Snow smiled. "Because you have to learn things."
"What kind of things?"
"Oh, all kinds of things," Snow answered earnestly. "You'll learn about the world. You'll learn about things that happened in the past…"
"But will I have fun?" Emma inquired. "Will I make friends?"
Snow squeezed her hand. "Of course you will make friends."
They reached the town hall building. Snow caught the awed expression on Emma's face that probably mirrored the one on her own. The building was positively gleaming. The walkway leading up to the entrance was flanked by topiary in the shapes of wild animals.
"Can we have that in our garden?" Emma asked, pointing to an elephant.
Snow laughed, thinking about the modest garden she kept at home. It caught the attention of the neighbors, but paled in comparison this, not to mention in comparison to the garden her own mother had once kept. "Only if you build us one."
The atrium was, if possible, even more impressive than the outside of the building. It was simply stunning, built entirely with colored marble. It appeared that no expense had been spared. She made her way over to the directory (gold lettering etched on black granite) to see where they were going.
"Can I help you?"
Snow turned around. A young woman dressed in an immaculate suit stood behind her.
"I was just looking for the superintendent's office," Snow said, gesturing to the directory. "I'd received a notice that I needed to appear-"
"Oh, yes," the woman answered. "Yes, that was one of Superintendent Mills' policies. She's requested to meet with all families here, just to get to know them, since she's going to be running the school district, you know. A bit inconvenient for the families who live far away, but you just don't say no to Superintendent Mills!" The woman beamed. "Did you know she donated all the money for these new buildings?"
"They are truly beautiful," Snow said, impressed.
"Yes, aren't they?" The woman nodded fervently. "The superintendent has a plan to rebuild all the schools, too, hopefully by next fall. She has plans for state-of-the-art facilities. A new indoor gymnasium, a new playground for the children at recess, a swimming pool-"
"Swimming pool?" Emma looked at Snow excitedly. "I can't wait to go to school!"
Snow smiled. "That all sounds wonderful. Now, if you could just tell me where I might find her office…?"
"Oh, right!" the woman exclaimed. "Silly me, I just get so excited talking about Superintendent Mills' new plans! Now, her office is straight up the stairs and to the left, you can't miss it. Could I have your name? That way I can call ahead to let her know you're coming."
"Of course," Snow replied. "My name is Margaret Smith, and this is my daughter, Emma."
It had taken her all of two days in this world to realize that she would have to change her name. Snow White was simply too strange, not to mention obvious. She needed to blend in, to be anonymous, just another name in the phone book. She'd read up on names, learned that Smith was the most common surname. She'd chosen Margaret out of convenience; she'd used it as an alias before.
"Thank you," the woman replied. "I'll let her know you're on your way up." She looked down at Emma. "You have fun at school now."
"Thank you," Emma responded politely as the woman turned to walk away. Snow took her hand and led her up the flight of richly carpeted stairs.
"This building is very fancy," Emma noted. "I can't wait to go to school."
Snow smiled, amused by the innocence of children. It didn't take much to impress Emma.
The superintendent's office was carpeted with a plush red fabric. The walls were white, a sharp contrast to the dark wooden furniture. Although the office was just as warm and beautiful as the rest of the building, Snow felt a sudden twinge of discomfort.
A man glanced up at them as they entered. "I'm Sidney, Ms. Mills' secretary," he introduced himself. "You must be Ms. Smith and Emma." Snow nodded. "Ms. Mills knows you're here. She'll be out to speak with you in a minute; she's just finishing up a phone call. If you don't mind waiting…"
"Not at all," Snow answered. She led Emma over to a set of chairs. Her ominous feeling only intensified when she sat down. She had no idea what had her so on edge, but she found herself wanting to run. Just before she could suggest to Emma that they come back another day, the door to the superintendent's office opened and the superintendent herself appeared.
Her hair was coiffed, but that was the only difference. There was simply no mistaking the dark eyes, high brows, or the triumphant smile playing at her lips.
"Margaret and Emma Smith, I presume?" The queen extended her hand. "How charming to meet you at last."
A/N: I'll probably be posting one or two chapters a week, so you can expect another chapter soon. In the meantime, please feed my muse with some reviews!