Most of the characters are straight from the show but to make it work with my story I had to introduce some new characters, and some old characters in new ways. Since this story doesn't have Henry, August is the only one who can make Emma believe, he has to be there the whole time.
"Emma." Kelly glanced over at the sullen teenager sitting in the passenger seat. "You need to at least try."
"Why even bother?" Emma said, not bothering to take her eyes from the passing countryside. "This is a joke."
"This is a new start." Kelly said. "I think it will be nice for you to get out of the city. It will be a nice change of pace, relaxing."
"It's called Storybrooke." Emma rolled her eyes. "You've got to be kidding me. I don't want to go to another house, stay for a few months, have the family realize they don't want me, and then go back Augusta, changing schools, again. I'd rather just stay at Stonegate and save us all the hassle."
"You never know, you might actually like this place." Kelly persisted. "I wouldn't normally have placed you here…"
"Then why did you?" Emma cut in sullenly.
"Because of the recommendation." Kelly answered.
"The what?" Emma looked over at her social worker, clearly taken aback.
"A very good friend of mine received word from someone who apparently works in this area, and they thought this would be the perfect fit for you. They named you specifically." Kelly answered.
"Why me?" Emma asked.
Kelly shrugged. "The source wanted to stay anonymous."
"Oh well that makes me feel comfortable about the situation." Emma rolled her eyes and put her head back on her hand, returning her gaze to the road.
"Please Emma, we've done background checks. We're not just going to send you off to some random home on the word of a stranger." Kelly shot Emma a sideways glance. "Her name is Mary Margaret Blanchard. She's young, but she offered to take any age of foster children. She's a teacher and single, and this is her first time, so try not to make it too hard on her."
"She's single, young, a teacher, and it's her first time?" Emma looked over at Kelly. "And someone thought it would be a good idea to pair us together?" Emma shook her head and laughed. "This might not even last a few months."
"Emma." Kelly warned. "You need to give this a shot. Just try, for me?"
"Fine." Emma sighed as she caught view of a sign. "Awesome, we're here." Emma tried to take in her surroundings as the drove through the small town of Storybrooke, Maine. The town had a gloomy atmosphere, people walked around, but not many interacted with each other on the streets. In all honesty, the town gave Emma the creeps; there was something off about it.
Kelly pulled the car to a stop in front of a bookstore on the main street. "We're here."
"Here?" Emma gave the bookstore a suspicious look.
"Above it Emma." Kelly said as she opened the door. "It's an apartment."
"Joy, small living quarters." Emma mumbled as she pulled her backpack over her shoulders.
"Kelly?" A voice came from in front of the bookstore. Two women were standing there, looking at the pair of newcomers. Emma sized them up. One was tall and had the looks of someone who could be absolutely drop dead gorgeous, if she hadn't put red streaks in her long dark hair and wasn't dressed, well, like a tramp. The other women, the one walking towards them was slighter, modestly dressed, her hair styled in a pixie cut. Emma struggled not to roll her eyes, the woman looked like someone straight out of a fairytale. "I'm Mary Margaret." She held out her hand to Kelly. "This must be Emma."
"Yes." Kelly nudged Emma and looked at her expectantly. "Emma?"
Emma sighed and uncrossed her arms. "Emma. It's nice to meet you."
"It's nice to meet you too." Mary Margaret smiled warmly. Emma wanted to jump back in the car, but she knew it wasn't an option. Kelly would never let her get away with it.
"This is my friend Ruby." Mary Margaret introduced the other woman. "She and her grandmother run the diner in town. I'm sure you'll get familiar with it soon. They also run a bed and breakfast."
"The only bed and breakfast, it's a small town." Ruby added and held out her hand. "It's nice to meet you Emma. We don't get a lot of visitors around here so it's exciting when a new person comes."
"You don't say." Emma didn't seem surprised at all.
Kelly returned from the trunk, carrying Emma's two bags. "Here's your stuff Emma."
"Is that it?" Mary Margaret asked.
"Well when you live off the state and don't have a family, you don't exactly collect a lot of belongings." Emma said, receiving a jab in the side from Kelly's elbow. "I mean, I like to travel light." She shot a glare at Kelly.
"Well you'll have more than enough space in your room." Mary Margaret smiled. "Why don't we go up and see the apartment?"
"I have to run back to the diner Mary Margaret." Ruby waved. "It was nice to meet you Emma. I'll see you soon."
Emma nodded as Ruby left and glanced up at Kelly who gave her a firm look back, as if to say there was no running now. "That sounds like a great idea." Kelly said to Mary Margaret as she picked up one of Emma's bags.
Mary Margaret reached to pick up the other one. "I can get it." Emma said quickly.
"Ok." Mary Margaret looked slightly taken aback as Emma picked up the bag, ignoring Kelly's shaking head. "It's just up this way." Mary Margaret led through a side door and up the stairs. When they reached the landing she moved to open the door on the left. "August, the man who runs the bookstore, lives across the hall. He's a recent arrival as well. Very young, just out of college, but we all love what he's done with the shop."
Emma followed Kelly into the apartment and took in her surroundings. The apartment looked nice enough. The white brick walls and wooden floors gave a kind of industrial feel to the place but Mary Margaret had managed to bring a warm atmosphere with the whitewashed wooden island and dining table. All the furniture was either an ivory color or white, clearly Mary Margaret had a favorite color. A small living room area was off to the left. "You're room is up in the loft." Mary Margaret led them up the metal staircase.
Emma surveyed the room. It was actually very nice. A queen bed stood in the middle of the room, Christmas lights entwined in the wrought iron headboard. Refinished desk was pushed up against the wall, a lamp and space organizers sitting empty on it, a picture board hanging empty on the wall above. A small dresser with a mirror above sat close to the big window, overlooking the rest of Storybrooke. The walls had been left mostly bare with the exception of a dry erase calendar. "You just happened to have this room sitting around?" Emma raised her eyebrows.
"I used to share this apartment with my friend Ashley." Mary Margaret explained. "But circumstances intervened and she could no longer afford her half of the rent and she refused to stay here for free."
"You never found another roommate?" Emma asked.
"There's not a lot of want for a room in a town that has very few people coming in and out." Mary Margaret shrugged. "I guess I just never found the right one, until now."
"Right." Emma said cautiously as she sat her bag down on the bed. "Well it's very nice. Thank you."
"Your welcome." Mary Margaret smiled. "The bathroom is through that door, and then you have your closet. My room is downstairs if you ever need anything. That's pretty much the whole place. It's not much, but it's home."
"I think it's great." Kelly smiled and looked expectantly at Emma.
"Yea." Emma nodded. "It's really nice."
"Well I have a long drive back so I should probably hit the road." Kelly said. "Bye Emma, I'll see you soon."
"Bye Kelly." Emma let her social worker give her a hug.
"Mary Margaret, would you walk me back down the car? I just have a few quick things I'd like to go over with you."
"Of course." Mary Margaret nodded. "Emma why don't you get settled, I'll be right back up."
Emma nodded as the two women left. She sighed and sat down on the bed, glancing around the room, wondering how long she'd actually live in this place. She pulled off her jacket and laid back on the bed staring up at the ceiling.
"It seems like you guys have everything you need. I'll file these papers as soon as I get back and you will be all set." Kelly smiled as she tucked the manila envelope in her bag. "Look you seem like you have good intentions and that's great, really. But Emma, she's been through a lot. She has a lot of walls up because she's been hurt so much. She's hardened herself to the world. "
Mary Margaret nodded and crossed her arms against the cold. "Has she really had it that much harder than everyone else?"
"She's had a rough go of it. She's never really known love, her parents left her on a highway when she was barely an hour old. She's bounced around from home to home; she's lost hope. It might take some time to get through to her, but just don't give up. She's not going to make it easy, but she's a good kid. She's just been burned by almost everyone she's ever put her faith in." Kelly said sadly
"I understand." Mary Margaret gave a sad smile. "How is she, other than that? Like in school, and social settings?"
"She's a good student." Kelly nodded. "She doesn't participate in class much and recently she's skipped class a few times when she's upset, but she turns in her homework, she makes good grades. She's smart. When she has to socialize, she's good. She has friends, but she's not the most outgoing kid. It's hard to make relationships when you move around a lot. Just don't let her push you away. She wants someone to be there for her, I just don't think she know it yet. Good luck Mary Margaret."
"Thank you Kelly." Mary Margret waved as Kelly got in her car. She took a deep breath before turning to walk back up the stairs. She closed and locked the door, leaning against it, wondering what to do next. Mary Margaret hesitantly walked up the stairs, making her presence known before entering Emma's room.
"Yes?" Emma looked up from where she was sitting at the desk.
"It's nearing dinner time and I thought maybe for your first night in town you might like to go down to the diner, meet some people." Mary Margaret suggested.
Emma shrugged. "I'm up for whatever you want to do."
Mary Margaret smiled. "Grab your coat. We'll walk over."
"Ok." Emma nodded and moved to grab her red leather jacket.
"You haven't started unpacking?" Mary Margaret noticed.
"Oh I…" Emma looked around the room. "I just haven't had a lot of time yet…Let's eat though, I'm starving." Emma put her jacket on quickly.
"That's a pretty jacket." Mary Margaret said as Emma walked past her.
"Thank you." Emma shoved her hands in her pockets. "It was a Christmas present. One of the few things I own that's not second hand."
"It suits you well. " Mary Margaret grabbed her coat and purse off the counter and followed Emma out the door. "August." Mary Margaret seemed surprised to find her neighbor in the hallway.
"Mary Margaret." The young man smiled. "How nice to see you. Who is this?"
"This is Emma." Mary Margaret put her hands on Emma's shoulders. She felt Emma tense under her touch and slowly pulled them away. "She'll be staying with me."
"Emma?" August seemed slightly surprised, staring at Emma in shock, before regaining his composure. "Tell me Emma, where are you from?"
"Augusta." Emma answered.
"Augusta? That's where I'm from too." A look passed quickly over August's face.
"August, from Augusta." Emma said dryly. "What are the chances?"
"I know, my parents weren't exactly the most creative individuals were they." August smiled. " I haven't lived in Augusta in a while I'll admit. I left for college as soon as I could, and traveled the world."
"Really?" Emma seemed genuinely intrigued. "Where'd you go?"
"All over." August smiled. "I backpacked through Europe, climbed mountains in Africa, spent time in Asia, but my favorite place had to be the Thailand."
"Wow." Emma breathed. "I hope I can travel like that some day."
"You can if you want to." August said.
"You have to have money to do that." Emma pointed out.
"You never know how creative you can be to find your way around the world." August said.
"How did you end up here selling books then?" Emma asked.
August laughed. "That's a good question Emma. I love books because when you can't travel, they give you a way to travel to other lands, with your mind."
"Right." Emma said slowly. "Well it was nice meeting you."
"I'm sure I'll be seeing you around." August said. "I'll let you two get on your way."
"Goodbye August." Mary Margaret said as they walked down their stairs.
"Goodbye Mary Margaret." August called as he opened. "It was nice to meet you Emma."
"He's…interesting." Emma said slowly.
Mary Margaret gave a small laugh. "Why do you say that?"
"Well, he traveled the world, and then settled down here, in Storybrooke of all places." Emma started.
"What's wrong with Storybrooke?" Mary Margaret asked.
"It's nice and all, but it's a change of pace for a world traveler." Emma explained. "And no offense, but it kind of creeps me out."
"Why in the world would it do that?" Mary Margaret smiled.
"I don't know." Emma shrugged. "Anyway, I get the strangest feeling of familiarity from him."
"Well you both did live in Augusta." Mary Margaret pointed out.
"Augusta is a big city Mary Margaret." Emma looked at the woman.
"Well you never know." Mary Margaret said as the approached the glowing light of Granny's Diner. "Here we are."
"Is this the only restaurant in town?" Emma asked, seeing how full it was.
"No." Mary Margaret pushed open the door. "But it is the most popular."
"Mary Margaret, Emma." Ruby walked over to meet the pair. "So glad you decided to join us for dinner. You'll meet a lot of people here tonight Emma."
"That's great considering what a people person I am." Emma deadpanned before she thought the comment through. She wriggled uncomfortably under Ruby and Mary Margaret's stares.
"Mary Margaret." A man smiled as they passed by his booth. "How nice to see you. Who is this?"
"Emma." Mary Margaret answered. "Emma, this is Dr. Whale. He's the head doctor at the hospital. This is Archie, he's the town therapist. Hopefully you'll never encounter them in their actual professions."
"Nice to meet you Emma." Archie smiled awkwardly.
"Likewise." Emma said guardedly. She was no fan of psychiatrists.
"Emma lets go grab our table." Mary Margaret seemed to sense Emma's discomfort. Emma shot Mary Margaret a quick, grateful look as they walked to sit down. "Everything's good here. Feel free to get whatever you want."
"Thanks." Emma said as she looked over the menu. Ruby walked over, discussing something about another girl named Ashley with Mary Margaret. Emma watched them over the menu. Mary Margaret seemed nice enough, she supposed she should giver her a chance. She had friends, she seemed well liked by everyone they had met so far. She just had to make sure she didn't get to attached before it inevitably ended again.
"Emma." Ruby looked at Emma expectantly. "Do you know what you want?"
"Oh yea." Emma shook herself out of her inner dialogue. "Um the club sandwich is fine. Side salad, Italian."
"You got it." Ruby smiled as she turned to put the order in.
"You seem to know everyone here." Emma said.
"Well it's a small town." Mary Margaret said. "You get to know everyone here after a while."
"Did you grow up here?" Emma asked.
"I…" Mary Margaret paused. "Well it seems like I've been here for as long as I can remember."
"Do you parents live here?" Emma asked, confused by Mary Margaret's answer.
"No." Mary Margaret shook her head. "Just me."
"Ok." Emma said, weirded out by the behavior.
"Why don't you tell me about yourself." Mary Margaret suggested. "Like's, dislikes, anything you want."
"Ok." Emma shrugged. "Well I've lived in Augusta my entire life. I guess it's not such a bad town to have lived in. They have a pretty decent school system. I don't hate school. I'm pretty good at it. My favorite subject is science, or history, because it's something to hold on to, it's consistent. I like sports. Soccer is my favorite. I'm allergic to cucumbers."
"Me too." Mary Margaret smiled. "How funny."
"That is weird." Emma acknowledged. "Oh I also hate Avocado. Can't stand it.
"Me neither." Mary Margaret agreed.
Emma smiled, unable to hold it back. As she and Mary Margaret talked for the rest of the meal, she couldn't help but think maybe this time it wouldn't be so bad. Maybe this time would be different.
"Well here we are, home sweet home." Mary Margaret said as she unlocked the door to the apartment. "I'll get you your own key so you can come and go when I'm not here. You're old enough, you can be responsible."
"Yea." Emma nodded. "Thanks."
"It'll be a few days before I can get it made." Mary Margaret set her keys on the counter. "Until then you're stuck with me. After school you can meet at the elementary school, it's a short walk. It'll only be for a little bit."
"Sure." Emma nodded. "So what grade do you teach?"
"Fourth." Mary Margaret answered. "It's a fun age. I have some pretty good kids in the class. It's not a very big school. Neither is the high school, so you'll get to know everyone pretty quick."
"Oh yea." Emma leaned on the counter. "School starts Monday."
"Well you said you liked school." Mary Margaret tried to get a read on the situation.
Emma gave a slight nod. "That's true. But starting a new school, not so much. Especially part way through the school year. It also doesn't help that everyone already knows each other, and that there's never anyone new here."
"I'm sure you'll make friends fast." Mary Margaret promised.
"I'm not exactly good at making friends." Emma said. "Besides I never really stay in the same place long enough to make it worth making friends. I mean I have some back home, but still."
"Well." Mary Margaret looked at the ground and then back up to Emma. "You've made friends with me, so you're clearly not that bad. Besides who knows, you may be here a while."
Emma pondered the idea. "Maybe. So what's on tap for tomorrow?"
"Well we can do anything you want." Mary Margaret said. "I thought we could look around the town. I can get you anything you need for school."
Emma nodded slowly. "Sounds like a plan." She pushed herself up from the stool and began to walk toward her room.
"Where are you going?" Mary Margaret asked curiously.
Emma turned. "I think… I'm gonna go get started on unpacking."
Mary Margaret smiled to herself as she watched Emma disappear into her room. She'd keep Kelly's warnings in the back of her mind, but she had hope. Emma had a tough exterior, but it wasn't completely impenetrable.
Across the hall August leaned out his window, watching the clock tower, which was still stuck on the same time it had always been. A time that had a great significance no one seemed to know about. August sighed, about to turn away when something caught his eye. The minute hand of the clock moved. August smiled. Things were changing in Storybrooke.