We went back through the portal with Cora who was pretending to be dead. We were going to hand Cora over to Regina and let them figure out what happened next. I was crossing my fingers that nothing went wrong because I didn't know what we'd do if Regina found out we'd been lying. The Queen was waiting when we exited the portal. Killian dropped Cora onto the chaise I had been sitting on earlier that day and she landed with a thud. Regina walked forward and inspected the body. She left the room for a moment and I glanced at Killian nervously but he was staring off into space intently. Regina came back into the room with a guard and had him take Cora away. She didn't say much to us but motioned for us to follow us down the halls of the castle.
When we reached a room at the far end of the castle close to the gardens she motioned for us to wait outside. "You think she bought it?" I asked Killian quietly.
"Seems like it."
"She seems sad about it." He didn't say anything and I sighed. "I don't trust Cora."
"Neither do I."
"Then why are we doing this?" I asked.
"If we forget who we are I'll never be able to kill Rumplestiltskin and you'll never be able to go home."
I thought about what Cora had said about everyone getting a new identity. It didn't seem too horrible, to start over from scratch. I didn't voice these thought because I knew Killian would disagree. We waited a few more minutes in silence.
"What's going on in there?" I asked. Before Killian could answer Regina opened the door and walked past us. Killian and I both ducked into the room. "Cora?" I whispered.
She sat up and pulled herself out of the box. "Change of plans."
"Change of plans, you can't just change the plans and not tell us," I said.
"Calm down," she said waving me away. She walked out of the room and motioned for us to come with her. She didn't explain anything until we were quite a ways from the castle. "The curse is on its way. I'm going to make a protective space for us so it won't affect us. According to prophecy the curse will be broken in twenty-eight years, until then we will be frozen in time here. After that we will be able to leave here and continue on with our plans."
"Twenty-eight years? As in I won't get home for twenty-eight years?" I asked.
"You will stay exactly as you are now, it is only your friends and family who will change," Cora told me. "Either you stay with us or you go with the curse and lose your memories, either way you won't see your family for twenty-eight years."
"I'll stay then," I said reluctantly.
"Good, it's always better to work with a team," she said patting my arm.
Twenty-Eight Years Later
I drew in a deep breath. It felt like I hadn't touched fresh air in years, which I guess I hadn't. I glanced around though nothing appeared to be changed. "Does this mean the curse is broken?" I asked Cora.
"Well I guess it does," she said happily.
"We should find out who else got trapped in this bubble," Killian said. "There should be some towns in here with food still.
"Yes, the two of you should. I have lots of things to take care of if we're going to get back to your world, Wendy," Cora told us. "Don't worry about where I'm going. I'll find you." She was gone in a cloud of purple smoke.
"Great, this is just great," I said.
"Come on, there are ogres in these parts," Killian warned.
"Ogres? She could pick a part of the world with nice sparkly unicorns or something?"
"Don't be silly, unicorns aren't real," Killian said.
"But ogres are? That's hardly fair."
"If we don't get out of here before dark we're going to get eaten by one, so you may want to hurry up." I groaned and followed him deeper into the forest.
"Shouldn't we be going the other way? How many towns could really be in the middle of a forest?" I asked.
"The other direction is wasteland; the curse took everything on the other side of the wall. This direction is our best bet; hopefully there is something on the other side of these trees."
"And again I want to know why Cora couldn't have picked somewhere nicer to save."
We had walked for hours and had yet to find a single person. "Maybe one of us should climb a tree or something, see if we're going the right direction."
"Good idea, I'll give you a boost," Killian said.
I rolled my eyes. "I was actually hoping you'd do it."
"You're smaller. These trees look pretty weak they're more likely to hold you."
"Fine, send up to my death. No big deal."I sighed and picked a tree that had a few fairly low branches. "Aright help me up."
He held out his hands and I stepped up. He lifted me up as high and he could and I jumped to grab the branch. It took a little work to pull myself but once I got up the climbing was fairly easy. I pulled myself up as high as I thought would hold me then slid across the sturdiest looking branch to get a better view. Talk about a wasteland. I could see the line where the bubble had enclosed us, the trees around us had birds and squirrels but past that everything seemed so dead and empty. I turned to look in the direction in which we were walking and saw the end of the forest not far away. "Thank god," I said. I crawled back across the branch and then back down the tree.
"See anything?" Killian called.
"I'll tell you when I get down. Catch me!" I jumped from the lowest limb and into Killian's arms. "Good catch." He sat me down and I took a step away.
"Afraid I was going to leave you up there?"
"Maybe," I said with a shrug. "The forest ends not far from here. I think I saw some houses past that."
"Good, I'm tired of these trees." We walked on for a while in silence before Killian finally said something. "Eventually you're going to have to start trusting me."
"Same goes for you," I said.
"I already do." I glanced at him skeptically. "You kept Cora from attacking me."
"It was a reflex," I said. "Anyways, you kept her from killing me."
"Reflex," he said smirking.
"It's not that I don't trust you, it's just that I-"
"Don't trust me?"
"Well, I don't dislike you. That's got to count for something."
"How many times am I going to have to save you before you start trusting me?"
I shrugged. "I don't know. Just keep doing it."
"You got it, Darling." He winked at me and I shoved him away laughing.
"I feel bad for the people that got trapped here," I told Killian a few days later. We were sitting outside a farmhouse we had found; the owners had given us some food and told us we could stay in their barn if we wanted to. "They have no idea what happened to them. They might have had family on the other side of the border and now they're just gone."
"They're better off. At least they remember who they lost. Everyone on the other side lost all of that. Who knows what Regina is doing to them now?"
"Would it really be so bad? Minus the whole Regina thing. I wouldn't mind starting over anyway. There's a lot I'd like to forget."
Killian didn't say anything for a while. "I wouldn't want to forget. If you forget what you've been through you forget all the lessons you've learned."
"I guess you're right. Who's to say we wouldn't make the same mistakes in that life as we did in this one."
"I wouldn't want to forget Milah either."
Killian hardly ever mentioned her and I wasn't quite sure what I should say. "Better to have loved and lost than to never love at all."
"What?" He asked.
"It's a saying, from a poem I think."I grabbed a stick and started doodling an anchor in the dirt next to me. "What was she like?" I asked.
"She was adventurous and she didn't want anyone or anything to hold her back. She did whatever she wanted to do, sometimes without thinking about the consequences. But she was brave enough to handle whatever she caused." He paused for a moment and then looked at me."She was a lot like you actually." I hadn't realized how close I was sitting to Killian. I stood up quickly and grabbed the plate I'd been eating off of.
"I'm going to run this back inside," I said. I went around the corner and opened the front door. I sat the plate on the counter and went back outside. Before I went back around the corner I took a deep breath. I wasn't about to be anyone's replacement. I stepped around the corner just in time to see Cora arrive in her signature cloud of smoke.
"Good news, we have a break through," she said smiling. "Snow White and her daughter are currently on the run, from me, and they are the key to making it to Wendy's world."
"Snow White, like princess who at a poison apple and was saved by her Prince Charming?" I asked.
"Yes, the very one. She was taken to your world by the curse, if she's here then that means there is another way to get between the worlds."
"That's great!" I said. "What is it?"
"That is where the two of you come in. Hook, I want you to intercept Snow and her traveling companions. They're going to a camp where some survivors have gathered, I've killed everyone there already. Pretend like you're the only survivor, they won't be able to resist stopping to help. Wendy, I want you to stay here and keep up with these." She handed me three bracelets.
"You want us to split up so I can guard some super unattractive jewelry?" I asked skeptically.
"These will allow us to get up the beanstalk to find the enchanted compass we need to get to your world. I can't risk these getting in the hands of those stupid girls."
"Then why don't you keep up with them?" I asked. Before I finished though she had disappeared. "We aren't splitting up."
"I don't think we have much of a choice. I don't want my heart to be ripped out, do you?" Killian asked.
"It's a bad idea."
"Are you afraid to be alone?" He asked.
"Of course not!" I snapped. He raised an eyebrow. "Ok, maybe a little. I have no idea where we are, this isn't my world!"
"You have a sword and I've seen you use it. You can take care of yourself," Killian assured me.
"What if you can't find your way back here later?" He sighed and reached into his pocket. He unwrapped the chain around it and handed it to me. The pendant was circular and had a key hole shape in the top on the box, I flipped it open to find a compass. "A compass?"
"An enchanted compass." He showed me an identical one that he was wearing around his neck. "They'll always point to each other. That one belonged to Milah." I looked at it again and saw that it was indeed pointing directly at Killian. "Now we won't be lost. Does that make you feel better?"
I nodded. "Yeah ok, just don't get eaten by an ogre or anything."
"I'll try not to."
He left and I sat back down. I flipped open the compass and watched the arrow move. I walked around the barn and tried to find something to do. There wasn't any telling how long Cora would leave me alone and it would be days before Killian got back. I grabbed my bag and stuffed the bracelets into the bottom and tossed it over my shoulder. To hell with Cora and her plans. I wasn't about to sit on my ass while everyone else got to be out doing something.
I followed the compass through the forest. I felt like I was going in circles because the arrow kept moving and I couldn't walk fast enough. Finally the arrow stopped moving and I followed in a straight line until I could hear voices. I couldn't make out what was being said but there were definitely several women ahead. I tried to get closer and see what was going on. When I did get close enough I could tell Killian was tied to a tree being interrogated by some blonde lady. This was precisely why we worked in a team. I took a deep breath to get into character and then ran out of the trees. "Killian!"
"Who are you?" The woman snapped.
"Emma, calm down," another woman with short black hair said. She turned to me. "My name is Mary Margret. Who are you?"
"My name is Wendy. I was heading back to camp and I found it in shambles. I couldn't find Killian but I knew he wasn't dead." Emma looked like she was softening.
"Cut the act, Wendy. I'm going to tell them," Killian said with a sigh.
"I almost had her!" I groaned.
"You are a much better actress," one of the other women, a brunette, told me.
"Do I need to tie you up too?" Emma asked.
"No need, what do you want to know?" I asked sighing.
"How about you start at the beginning?" Mary Margret suggested.
"That would be a very long story. I'm from your world and I just really want to get home."
"You're not from here?" The brunette asked gesturing to me and Killian.
"He is. I'm not."
"How did you get here?" Emma asked.
"Well I was in a different world to start with, but Killian and I sailed here."
"You can sail in between worlds?" Emma asked.
"It's more complicated than that," Killian interjected.
"We can help you get home. Cora is trying to get there too, she sent Killian after you. I have something that might be able to help us all," I told them.
"Cora? I thought she was gone," Mary Margret said.
"She's very much still here. So, can we work together or not?" I asked.
"I still don't trust him," Emma told me.
"It's alright, neither do I. But I trust Cora even less and if I'm going to help anyone get into my world I'd rather it be the two of you that actually belong there. So can we untie him?" Emma nodded reluctantly and the Asian woman who hadn't said anything to me untied Killian from the tree.
"What do you have that might be able to help?" Mary Margret asked.
"There's an enchanted compass that will lead to our world. It's at the top of the beanstalk which we can only climb with these enchanted bracelets on because the beanstalk is spelled," I told them.
"Do you know where we need to go?" Emma asked.
"I do," Killian answered.
"Then by all means, lead the way," Emma said irritated. I liked her; she was almost as snappy as I was.