A/N: Thanks for the great reviews everyone. It's been a while since I've seriously written like this, so I appreciate all the encouragement I'm getting from you all. I know I used to have issues with length of chapters before, so I'm going to try my best to work on that. And if there's anything else, feel free to leave a review etc. On with the show.

2 - Swordplay

It was a pretty day like most of the days in the kingdom Charming and his beloved ruled, which encompassed the Enchanted Forest. The ground in the practice courtyard was pleasantly warm from the sun in the morning. Which Emma found out suddenly, as her balance was offset and her face planted into the earth.

"Oof!" She breathed heavily as a small cloud of dirt drifted around her where she fell. Her practice sword had flung a few feet to her right while the wooden shield dangled on her arm tenuously as she pushed herself up from the ground.

An annoyed glint passed through her eyes as she wondered how exactly she had landed face first in the dirt during practice. A bird chirped above, apparently to agree with her thoughts. She hadn't had a belly flop since the first couple months of seriously taking up the sword and started her training.

Glancing around the square practice area, the courtyard only had a few others practicing their skills at the moment. A couple knights that she had gotten to know, along with either their attendants or squires. All of them were busy doing their own drills, a fact she was thankful for. Even though she knew none of them would ever say anything.

She huffed, blowing a piece of hair from her face that had dislodged from her ponytail. The man responsible for her tumble to the ground had a worried look on his face. "Are you alright Princess?"

Shooting an annoyed look at her teacher for the day, the former Sheriff tucked her flyway hair behind an ear, and took the offered hand up.

"It's Emma. Seriously, humor me." A roll of her eyes accompanied the slight chiding tone as she bent to knock some of the dirt that covered her pants. Too bad these aren't jeans. I feel bad getting these leather pants dirty. Back home these things would have cost a pretty penny.

"Of course Prin-" Blue-green eyes glanced up at him as she continued swiping at the dirt, "I-I mean...Emma."

A grin was his reward as she walked over a few steps and picked up the practice sword. Her wrist rotated quickly, making the sword circle and dislodge whatever dirt was on the blade with a quiet woosh through the air. As she turned, she lowered her center of gravity and positioned her sword and shield once more.

"Let's keep going, yea?" And at her word, the practice continued.

Between blows, Emma couldn't help but mentally comment on her opponent's style. They traded three quick blows in succession, attacking and blocking fairly well. The loud crack of the swords against each other rang throughout the yard.

Thinking back to earlier during the practice, she thought again to how he had gotten through her guard. Normally she never would have hit the ground like she had. At least, not against this guy anyway. She blames the thoughts that had been having a party in her head since breakfast. The blonde berated herself for getting distracted by thinking about a certain someone, again. Really, while swinging a sword she should be concentrating on-…Jared? Hn. She couldn't quite remember this guy's name.

Her regular mentor was out for the day, maybe longer, doing some task or other for her parents. This one came from a neighboring uh, realm? Her brow furrowed as she tried to block a downward sweep and at the thought of the appropriate term. Darien, or D as he'd jokingly told her to call him one practice, was considered the best swordsman in the Enchanted Forest. Compared to him this one barely challenged her, though he did put up a good fight.

She'd noticed throughout the fight that he seemed to swing differently than what D had instructed during her lessons. His movements seemed more…rigid? Like he hefted some great weight instead of the light practice swords they were using.

As he made to take a swipe at her, the action seemed more towards lopping someone's head rather than any sort of technique. When he started a swing, all the power came from his shoulders. Perhaps this is what D meant about a majority of swordsmen relying more on brute strength rather than skill and agility.

With their blades locked for a moment, Emma knew she couldn't hold up both his weight and the force behind the swing. Sliding her own blade quickly towards the hilt of the new guy, she dropped her shoulder and used her lower position to push up with her body and robbed him of his breath. Hooking a foot behind his stance, she gave one more shove, twisting her sword slightly to punch her pommel in his gut to cause more pain so he would step backwards. That caused him to stumble and fall to the ground.

Emma let her sword point drop into the compact dirt. Leaning against it, and breathing a bit heavier, she looked down at her fallen sparring partner. "I think we're done for now," she said with a satisfied grin.


"Snow, I can't say I'm feeling a ball." This was said with a huff as she pulled on a new shirt, a dark blue almost black one. She left the dueling leather pants she had on. She was planning on a ride after lunch, and saw no reason to dirty another pair of pants.

"But Emma, dearest, it will be your introduction to the neighboring realms. Enough time for acclimation has passed since we got back to this world." Snow White chastised, her hands going to her hips. "While some of our allies like, Cinderella and her husband know you from Storybrooke, the other kingdoms that didn't get caught up in the curse have no idea who you are."

Rolling her eyes at her best friend turned mother, she looked towards the other woman. Lacing up the shirt in the front, the thought ran through her mind of how much easier it would be if she could just wear her tank top.

"Can't we just send them a postcard? Messenger?" As Snow's mouth opened to tell her, of course not and the impropriety of the suggestion, Emma cut her off, waving her hand. "I know we don't have email, but a ball? With the dancing, dresses, and chatting with people and about topics I don't know? You know how I avoided anything like that in Storybrooke. And you want me to do that here?" An eyebrow raised as the blonde folded her arms in front of her and her hip jutted to the right.

"Emma, I know how uncomfortable the idea is, but we really should do this. Even though time passed differently here and we weren't gone quite as long as our stay in Storybrooke, the political state of the area is still a bit of a mess."

Snow stepped forward, gingerly placing her hands on her daughter's shoulders. Having these few months to get to know this woman with no interruption was a joy. She was completely grateful to have found her again and hated forcing her into doing this. Twenty eight years had passed before she could find her, but the fact was she did, and Snow wanted to share the great woman before her with their allies. They could start on their happily ever after, as a family.

She just had to get her stubborn daughter to work with her so they could stabilize the kingdom and their home first.

Emma's gaze rested on the young face of her mother. It still felt odd to think that this was the woman who gave birth to her. The many jokes about Henry's fairytale theory traded between them in Mary Margaret's apartment ran through her mind. Truth was, she actually did have her chin. She sighed, uncrossing her arms to hold the hands on her shoulders gently.

"Look, if it's that important, I guess I'll do it. Get this shindig out of the way." Her gaze was reassuring as she looked to her mother. Even with the thought of how boring the upcoming event was going to be.

"Thank you," Snow said as she squeezed lightly the shoulders under her hands, trying to impart how grateful she was. And, that she recognized that this wasn't something Emma was entirely happy to be doing.

"Don't thank me yet," the blonde said with a small sardonic laugh. "Let's just see how this thing goes first, and then you can thank me."

Dislodging her mother's hands as she turned, she went to go pull out her red leather jacket and find her riding gloves. She had stored her trademark jacket for moments when she missed the world she had grown up in. That and it looked way better than the regular cloak she would have worn for a quick jaunt out of the castle. There was just something about all that fabric, just flinging every which way with the wind. She had enough trouble controlling a horse without wearing flashy, flappy clothes.

She shrugged the leather on as Snow White left the room with a content look on her face. Emma hoped she'd find something to entertain her on her ride out. She gave a small laugh to no one but herself as she went to make her way to the kitchens for a packed lunch. Seems no matter where I go I'm always looking for something.