Wraith and Love: End of Winter
Disclaimer: I don't own Once Upon a Time. This ongoing series is mine, though.
Regina blinked and tried to stand, to be stopped with her shoulders inches above the ground by pain in her torso. "What the hell happened to me?" she asked.
"You mean you..." Emma said.
Regina looked at her and furrowed her brow. "What are you talking about?"
"You got shot."
"Let me guess, by you."
"You charged me with a knife. I thought you were dead."
"Please." Regina held her hand over the first of her wounds, in the shoulder, and the bullet shot out of her and into her hand. She tossed it aside and moved on to the second wound, in her diaphragm, with the same result. Then she stood. "Now, where's this knife?" She took a step. Something shimmered in the light. After she dusted off the snow, she noticed the hilt of what used to be the Knife of the Dark One. The rest of the pieces were scattered about in the snow. "Guess there's no saving it."
Emma stood slowly and holstered her service weapon. "You don't remember anything that happened?"
"Not since I went looking for Rumpelstiltskin's knife, no."
"You've been crazy for weeks."
"There's a difference between crazy and desperate." She looked around at the black, bare trees. "Where are we?"
"Don't look at me."
"Did you say anything to me about mental help?"
Regina nodded. "Just checking."
"You seem different. Less crazy."
Regina turned toward Emma. "You know, I don't know what it is, but I feel...better." She turned toward the trees without a further explanation.
The citizens of the Enchanted Forest stirred around Rumpelstiltskin. Regina was awake and having a civil, if brief, conversation with Emma Swan. Was it the destruction of the knife? It seemed to lose all influence, so was Cora...
He cut off the thought and looked down at Baelfire, still asleep across his chest, and smiled, stroking the boy's hair away from his face. "Good job, Bae," he whispered, maneuvering so that he could stand with his son in his arms. He turned in a slow circle, studying the trees and the clearing enclosed by them. The snow crunched underneath his feet. He didn't remember much snow in the Enchanted Forest, except some winters, and around the Dark Castle, which was nowhere in sight or sensing range. When he thought about it, he really couldn't feel anything, not even Regina or the fairies, who were undoubtedly close. He chewed his lip and looked down at Bae. Beautiful, brave, sleeping Bae. He smiled.
Bae shifted, and his head rolled to one side. Poor Bae. He must've been exhausted.
Morraine turned and walked over to him, picking up Bae's bow and arrow and reaching out to touch Bae's forehead. She hesitated, and then she touched him. Her fingers curled around strands of his hair. Bae's mouth twitched. She smiled. "He's so peaceful this way, as if nothing happened," she said.
"Yes, he is," Rumpelstiltskin whispered. "He is."
Rumpelstiltskin looked up and met Morraine's gaze. "I think I know what happened," she said in a voice meant only for him. "Jesse told me about her future, this world of ice." She cast her eyes about the clearing. "This could be what used to be Sherwood. The size of the clearing proper certainly fits."
"How long was she with you?"
"Three years, almost four before we escaped." She looked back down at him. "It's good that he's sleeping. He needs it." Rumpelstiltskin nodded. Morraine pulled her hand away and looked around. "Yes, it looks like Sherwood."
"You think that's where we are?"
"It's a theory."
"And what would be at the edge of this, beyond the Ring?"
"I've always thought it was on the border between the Enchanted Forest and the Black Forest." Rumpelstiltskin nodded. "But without the Ring and its effects, I can't say exactly. We could be anywhere, any time."
"Operating on the assumption that this is Sherwood, where exactly does this part of the forest end?"
Morraine pointed behind her. "The closest place is about a mile that way."
"Beyond that, though, I can't be sure."
Rumpelstiltskin turned in the direction Morraine indicated. Trees prevented him from seeing farther than a few feet, and it reminded him of the forests around Storybrooke. He nodded his thanks to Morraine and scanned the crowd for Jesse.
The Merry Men congregated between two thick trees, one of which split into two trunks some feet above their heads. August pulled himself out of a snow drift and shook a few flakes off himself before approaching Rumpelstiltskin. He looked down at Bae and asked, "Is he dead?"
"Asleep," Rumpelstiltskin replied.
August's shoulders sagged in relief, and then he looked around. "Any answers as to where we are, Mr. I-Know-Everything?"
Rumpelstiltskin tilted his head toward Morraine. "She believes we're in what used to be Sherwood."
"Okay, so she knows where we are and can help us get out of it."
August nodded. Morraine walked over to the other Merry Men, who, judging by their conversation, had reached the same conclusion she had. People had begun to wander about in confusion, so she let out a sharp whistle and yelled, "This way." She and the other Merry Men walked through the trees to the edge of Sherwood Forest as it was when it was enclosed by the Ring. The rest of the fairy tale characters promptly followed.