Author's Note: I don't own anything Once Upon a Time. I'm just borrowing for my own entertainment and sharing that with others. This is a Swan Queen fic set during Season Two. Anything in italics is a Fairytale Land flashback. I'm trying something new so the first few chapters are spilt up in three segments, FTL current time, FLT flashbacks, and Storybrooke current time. Let me know what you think :) And enjoy.
It was a rush of moments all clamored together, leaving them both breathless. Getting sucked into the hat's magical portal, waking up in what was left of Fairytale Land, waking up at the sharp end of a sword, being treated like villains by Aurora and Mulan, and carted around like prisoners with their hands bound, and then thrown into a holding pit. It was a lot for Snow to deal with so she knew Emma was feeling very overwhelmed. Who knew where things would have gone if not for Lancelot and her past with him. Mulan and Aurora both seemed hell bent on blaming them for the death of their prince, but he wouldn't let them. Lancelot told them who she was and she in turn explained who Emma was. Then he told her what had been going on, about being frozen in time and waking up not to long ago. She calculated it to Emma's arrival in Storybrooke and the weakening of the curse. He told her that everything except this part of the land was devastated, destroyed, and she knew she had to see it. Her friend was reluctant but agreed. He sent her and Emma off once again with Mulan and Aurora, who now seemed attached at the hip, with the promise that Mulan wouldn't be a threat. She would obey his orders to protect them rather then harm them, and she could explain things a little more along the way.
They moved through the far reaches of the Enchanted Forest towards what had once been the lands of Snow White and James, Cinderella and Thomas, and the Evil Queen. Emma was still feeling very disoriented and for the last several days she felt as if she were about three seconds from freaking the hell out! The only reason she hadn't was the threat of Mulan and all the uncertainty since waking up here. She and Mary Margaret, no, she and her mother Snow White were in Fairytale Land, walking through the Enchanted Forest with freaking Sleeping Beauty and Mulan! Who by the way did not find it funny when she asked when all the singing would start. Snow didn't look amused either. But Emma needed to joke around; she needed a way to process all of this. As if her life couldn't get more bizarre, it just kept showing her how wrong she was when she thought she'd finally gotten to the limit.
From behind the trees and dark vines that cluttered the landscape she watched the small group as they walked along the trail. She wondered if they had food. They seemed to be traveling light so they must not being going far, but they did have a horse with them so they might have supplies. Maybe if they stopped soon she could sneak in and grab something. Probably not though, the long raven-haired woman was wearing armor so she was clearly a guard of some sort. And the
blonde in the strange clothes looked alert in that way that said she could take care of herself in if she had too. The one with the short raven hair looked even more alert and ready to jump into a fray at a moments notice. The only one who didn't seem to fit was the royal blonde. Maybe if she were lucky she could get something from that one.
As the girl watched the group of women she wondered where they were going and who they were. Though she'd only been out here a few days, well sort of a few days she was still very confused about everything, she knew enough to realize not many people were left. She didn't know what had happened but she knew that whatever it was, it was bad, very bad. She wasn't use to being out here like this, she didn't know about moving quietly through the brush, so as she followed them she was making the leaves of the scrubs rustle and then she stepped on a twig.
The sound caught Mulan's attention first. She made the others stop, stepping over to where she'd heard the rustle of leaves to have a look rather then were she'd heard the snap of the twig. Emma not one to let others do what she was damn well capable of doing, namely protecting herself and Mary, moved to stand with her. Mulan used her sword to move some of the leaves and branches out of the way and then tightened her grip at the sudden yelp it caused.
"Stop!" Emma said as she shoved Mulan's arm, causing the warrior woman to withdraw her sword from the greenery. "There's someone hiding in there."
"Yes." The beautiful raven haired Asian woman said. "And now they know we know that."
While the two adults bickered the girl tried to scamper out of sight, only to be found by Snow. "Hello." Snow said softly as she looked down at the girl who'd just crawled out of the brush. "It's alright. We won't hurt you."
Wide brown eyes looked up from a dirty terrified face. The girl scampered to her feet and took several steps backwards away from Snow but then she stumbled and fell, landing in the forest debris with a thud and a softly yelp of pain.
"Careful." Snow said gently when she saw the girl flinch. "We're not going to harm you, honey. It's ok." She took a few cautious steps closer and smiled warmly at the child. "My name is Snow." She said as she crouched down, locking eyes with the child, and smiling. "What's yours?"
The girl simply shook her head. If she said her name they might know who she was, though she doubted it. No one knew her, not before and not now. She didn't exist outside her home. She'd spent her whole life sheltered from everything, hidden away, cared for but alone.
"No you don't have a name?" Snow asked with the same easy tone she used on her kids at school. "Or no you can't speak?"
"I can speak quite well thank you." The girl replied before clapping her hands over her mouth. How had the woman done that? With a simple smile and soft words she'd gotten her to say something when she'd had it set in her mind that she wouldn't.
"Then it's a name you don't have." Snow replied. The girl was around Henry's age give or take a year. She had long dark hair that had once been held back in a neat braid but had clearly been unattended for several days. She had big chocolate brown eyes that stared up at Snow with so much fear that it broke her heart. When the girl tried to scamper away again she heard the soft hiss of pain when she moved her ankle. "Lets have a look at that."
Emma moved closer to where her mother and the child were, she watched the tender way Snow was with the girl and was reminded yet again of what she'd missed out on. So why wasn't she more angry at Regina about all of this? Why was she stuck here in this weird place but all she could think about was Regina and wither she was safe, and about Henry and if he were all right. "Is she ok?" Emma said as she looked around for anyone else who might be hiding.
"Yes, she's alright." Snow said as she looked at the girl's ankle. "Just a bit of a sprain." She gave the girl another warm smile. "Can you stand?"
The girl nodded. "I think so."
Snow helped her and then smiled when the girl could put weight on her ankle. "See, just a bit of a pull. We're ok. Aren't we?"
Again the girl nodded. Then she stood there looking at the women, a slight tremble overcoming her small frame. She didn't know what to do. Run? Running would be best right? They might hurt her or do something bad to her or worse they might take her back.
"This is my daughter Emma." Snow told the girl gently.
Those big eyes went wide as she took the two women in. The girl titled her head in confusion and disbelief. How were these two mother and daughter? They were the same age!
Emma laughed. "It's complicated."
"Were you trapped too?" The girl asked, her curiously about what was going on getting the better of her.
"Kind of." Snow answered. "But not in the same way you were." When the girl's stomach growled Snow smiled again. "Lets see what we can find you to eat."
While the girl ate a portion of Snow's lunch the adults clustered together to talk. Mulan didn't think they should allow the girl to come along, but Snow wasn't having it. "I'm not going to leave a little girl out here alone on her own to face whatever dangers lurk in the darkness. She's coming with us so we can take her back to the camp where she'll be safe."
Mulan wanted to argue but Aurora agreed with Snow. "If she's separated from her family the camp will be the best place to for them to find each other again."
While Mulan and Snow argued Emma had been watching the girl. There was something familiar in her eyes. A particular look that kids get when they feel lost in the world. A look Emma had seen in her own eyes more times than she could count, a look she'd seen in Henry's eyes that night in her apartment in Boston.
"Then it's settled." Snow said in a tone of voice that made her daughter look at her oddly. Emma was use to the meekness of Mary Margaret, so the assuredness of Snow would take a little getting use to. "She'll come with us to the boarders and then back to the camp."
As they traveled the girl stuck close to Snow and Emma. Snow used what she knew from spending the last twenty-eight years as a teacher to get the girl to open up a little. She also used her knowledge of life here. The girl's dress was clearly something a child from a well off home would wear; it was almost noble in style and color. A girl like this would have a certain education she'd automatically fall back on. "You know, we've told you all our names but we don't know yours. It's rude of us to keep calling you the girl."
Big brown eyes looked up at Snow. She had a point, but she couldn't tell her her name. She thought about it for a moment. Maybe, maybe she could tell her the name that Nanny used, the one only the closest of her caretakers knew. "Lucy."
"It's very nice to meet you Lucy." Snow said with a warm and comforting smile.
"How'd you end up out here all alone?" Emma asked once Snow had the girl talking. "Did you get separated from your parents or something?"
"My parents are dead." Lucy said softly, a flicker of sadness and longing in her dark eyes. "My father was killed in service to the Queen." A small tug of a proud smile played at her kind of full lips, but just as quickly as it happened it was gone. Sorrow and guilt flooded her eyes next. "My mother, well that was my fault."
"Your fault?" Emma asked.
"She died in child birth." Lucy explained.
"Oh sweetheart." Snow said as she put her arm around the girl. "That wasn't your fault. That's just something that happens sometimes."
They walked a while, letting Lucy recover from their conversation before Emma pressed a little more. "Who's been taking care of you?"
Lucy looked up at the blonde and shrugged. "Servants." Who else took care of children? Even kids whose parents weren't dead were raised mainly by nannies weren't they?
Before they could get any further with Lucy, Mulan announced they were at their destination, a peak that over looked the land before them. Snow looked towards her kingdom, or what had once been her kingdom. It was absolutely devastated, rumble and ruins, and those black ominous vines as far as the eye could see. The gleaming crystal waters that could be seen even here on a clear day were blacken as if covered with a slick of oil. There was no sign of life other then the presence of ogres. The sight laid out before her brought tears to Snow's eyes and a strangled sob to her throat.
Reaching over Emma took her mother's hand as Snow grieved for the only home she'd ever known. "I'm sorry."
"She'll pay for this." Snow vowed. "I'll make her pay for this."
That made Emma feel really uncomfortable. Yes this was bad, it was very bad, but something inside told Emma that she wouldn't let anyone do anything to Regina, not even her mother. She just wished she could explain why she felt that way. Regina was a hateful bitch that dissevered everything she had coming to her. So why did some part of Emma just want to see Regina happy?
When Snow couldn't stand it any longer they headed back to the camp, the safe haven, that had been erected after the curse began to break. Survivors arrived almost every day, dazed, confused, and looking for answers as well as family and friends. Snow felt the pull to stay, to help, but she couldn't. She had to get back to Storybrooke, back to her people, her friends, and back to James. Emma needed to get back to Henry. They couldn't stay.
"We've packed you some provisions." Lancelot said as things were prepared for Snow and Emma. "I hope you find your way, Snow."
"Thank you." Snow replied as she hugged him.
As they were getting ready to leave Lucy came running up to them. She couldn't explain why but she felt safe with Snow and Emma. They'd shown her kindness and concern, and she couldn't stay here. If she stayed here she'd be found and she didn't want to be found. "I want to go with you."
"Lucy." Snow said softly. "Honey, you can't come with us. We're looking for a way to leave this land."
"I know." Lucy said, her eyes glittering with tears. "I want to go back there with you. Please."
"Your home is here, Lucy." Snow said gently.
Lucy shook her head. "It's not."
There'd been something about the girl that Emma had just felt drawn to. Something other then the look of loneliness and neglect she'd seen flickering in her eyes, or that look that said something she was scared of was chasing her, a foster kid look she'd know anywhere. There was just something about the kid. Maybe she reminded her of Henry. Whatever it was it made Emma said, "Alright kid. You can come."
Snow's eyes widen and she turned a disapproving glare on her daughter. "Emma we can't…"
"Who's to say that if she has family they aren't in Storybrooke?" Emma replied. "If she doesn't have somewhere here why make her stay?"
"We don't know for sure she doesn't have someone here." Snow said, dropping her voice so only Emma could hear her.
Emma looked at the girl and asked, "Do you have someone here you trust? Someone who loves you and will take care of you?"
Lucy shook her head. "No. Nanny was old she died before…" Before she ran before time stood still before the world went freaking nuts. "She just died."
Emma nodded and then turned back to Mary. "She's telling the truth. She'll just get lost in the chaos here." Emma argued.
Snow wasn't happy with this. " You thought Regina was telling the truth about the truce and what she really wanted was for you to eat her apple."
"Emma." Snow said a little more sharply.
Emma glared. "Snow."
"Mom!" Emma said firmly. "She's coming! She's coming."
Snow looked over at Lucy. She felt it too, that tug she couldn't explain, and then she sighed. "Fine. She can come."
As the three of them left the safe haven camp there was a smile on Lucy's lips. This was perfect. Leaving this land, going back to the kingdom Emma called Storybrooke, meant she'd never be found.
She was tired and all she wanted to do was sleep but she was frightened and angry as well, and that fueled her desire to get out, to get away. She was just a kid how could she handle so much? She tried, everyday she tried, but it was never good enough, she was never good enough. So she waited, she waited until everyone in the house was sleep and then crept downstairs with nothing more then a small leather satchel with a few odds and ends. She was going to run away. She was going to go to the Queen's kingdom and hopefully find a place where she could just be a kid. No lessons, no pressure, no demands to be perfect. She would find a place where she was loved. Nanny had said so, before she died, she told Lucy she could find where she belonged in the Queen's kingdom.
So Lucy slipped out into the night and began her slow walk away from the only home she'd ever known. She walked until she was sure she wouldn't turn around and go running back. Then she turned and looked at the house, giving it and the people inside a little wave. The sadness she felt over leaving took her by surprise and she could feel the urge to run home building up in her belly. She could go home and no one would be the wiser about her plan, but she knew better. She would know, she always knew, and Lucy would be punished and things would just be harder. No, this was best. She would run and find a place where she would never be found.
Maybe, she thought as she forced herself to take each step further away from her home, maybe when I'm bigger, stronger, grown up I'll come back. I'll show her that I am everything she wants me to me and she'll be proud of me, and maybe she might even say she loves me.
As Lucy continued to walk she started to feel more and more frightened. Was she being followed? Ducking into the brush she laid down on her stomach to hide. If she caught her she would be in so much trouble! Her skin prickled in that funny and familiar way that made Lucy looked around in a near panic. She knew magic when she felt it. This felt different though, not the magic she was use to, it was darker, scarier, and yet maybe a little familiar. A hazy mist of magic rolled over the kingdom, Lucy gasped, and then everything stopped. For a very long time that felt just like a moment, everything stopped.
"How do I find her?" Regina said to her empty study as she bit her thumbnail and paced. Henry had said he didn't want anything to do with her until she proved her love by finding Emma, so how did she find Emma? Jefferson's hat was trashed thanks to that clumsy oaf of a prince and without that hat how was she suppose to create a magical portal to bring them back? Even if she had the hat her magic was spotty at best. It had been nonexistence until… Emma. Emma had touched her and her magic flared back to life. There was no way for Regina to ignore that. Nor was it easy to ignore the fact that Emma had been pulled into the hat saving her, again. Over and over Emma had come to her defense since the curse broke. Why?
"What is she playing at?" Regina wondered as she finally stopped pacing once she stood in front of her window. "Why would she do that?"
If Regina would allow herself to see it, she would know the truth, but Regina wore blinders for a reason. She hadn't known just how much she loved Henry, how he had gathered up the shatters of her heart and put them back together until she'd lost him, until she'd seen him die. But even though the pieces had been put back together her heart was far from mended so when Henry died, when he went off with Emma, with Charming, those pieces didn't have anything holding them in place so they came crumbling down, shattering into even smaller pieces.
"I should just leave them there." Regina said to herself. "They're finally out of my hair. I'll just take Henry back and remind everyone why they feared me."
A life without Snow White, without Emma Swan, it was perfect, it's what she wanted. Wasn't it? She wondered if Emma were all right, if she were safe, or hurt, or worse. Something inside didn't like the idea of the or worse because she felt a stabbing pain that made her gasp softly. No, no, she would not allow this. Tearing away from the window Regina made her way through her home and out the back door. She walked with purpose and grace to her apple tree, knelt down with a spade in her hand, and began to dig. Buried safely beneath her tree was just want she needed. A wicked smile tugged at Regina's lips as she pulled the old book from the safe box and oilskin she'd had it tucked into to keep it safe from the elements. "Now, about my son."