Full Summary: In an Enchanted Forest that was never touched by the curse, Princess Emma Ruth finds herself in an unwelcome predicament. Determined to not shame her family, she sets out for a new life; but an enemy of the past is determined to wreak vengeance.
Pairing: Rumplestiltskin/Belle, Snow/Charming, AU!Emma/Baelfire, Past!Emma/Neal Cassidy.
Author's Note: First Once Upon a Time story. This story assumes that Baelfire and Neal Cassidy are the same. This story takes place after the curse is broken and after 'Queen of Hearts' but Belle doesn't lose her memory. Also, Princess Emma's title comes from the game series 'Dark Parables', if you've never played them, I highly recommend them as they are about fairy tales.
Emma Ruth, Princess Royal and Heir of the Northern Forest and Mountain Kingdoms, stared at herself in the full-length mirror in her room. It wasn't very noticeable just yet, but she could detect a small swelling on her normally flat stomach.
She'd known when she skipped her first monthly that this was a possibility, but she'd prayed that it wasn't true. She was a princess, not a common wench! She couldn't have a baby before she was married, her parents would never forgive her, especially when they found out who the father was.
She'd never meant for it to happen. A new knight had come into the kingdom and, as was customary, he'd come to pay his respects to her father.
He'd said his name was Bae and he'd come from a far off part of the Enchanted Forest. He'd made no secret of the fact that he'd come from poor beginnings but had fought bravely in various wars in other parts of the Forest and had been knighted by King William and Lancelot vouched for him. Seemingly impressed, her father had offered him a place in his army, but Emma had been mesmerized by the new knight. Bae wasn't traditionally handsome, but his eyes were kind and his smile was sweet and for a young girl, that was enough.
Over the next few months, their courtship had been carrying on in secret. Even though neither of her parents put much stock in anyone's family line, preferring to focus on their actual deeds, she knew that they wouldn't be thrilled by her infatuation with someone like Bae, at least, not at the moment. Emma was confident that when Bae really proved himself, that her parents would have no problems with the match.
Then, two months ago, disaster had struck. Word had come of Dark Creatures attacking villages on the outer edges of the kingdom. Her father had gone with a good chunk of his army, including Bae, to deal with the problem. Before he'd left, Bae had pledged his love and had given Emma a ring with the promise that when they got back, he'd speak to her father about marriage. Emma had been so happy; she'd given him more than just her heart. A month ago, her father had returned with the remnants of his army. They'd managed to fight off the creatures, but at the loss of a great many men, including Bae. Emma was devastated, but managed to hide her grief from her parents. Now, she was staring at the consequences of her actions.
One thing was certain, she couldn't tell her parents. Emma loved her parents more than anything, but she knew that they wouldn't be happy when they found out about this, especially since Bae was dead and unable to make an honest woman of her.
Emma needed help, but she didn't have anyone to turn to, just about all the older people in her life were friends with her parents and they'd all tell them and her younger siblings were the worst at keeping secrets.
She couldn't and wouldn't bring shame to her family. She needed to leave the kingdom and go somewhere where no one would recognize her and start over. She'd claim to be a widow and start a new, albeit less comfortable, life for herself and her unborn child.
She gave her everyday clothes a hard look; she couldn't take them with her, as much as she liked them, they'd be useless and might give her away. She looked at the clothes she wore when they went hunting, worked in the garden or when she was learning to fight with her father and Lancelot. Even though the kingdom had been peaceful for years, her parents insisted that Emma and her siblings learn how to survive. They often went on camping and hunting trips where they learned what plants were good for what and how to live off the land. Emma loved these excursions, though her sisters Eva and Ruby were more interested in their dresses and suitors than in learning survival skills.
She quickly dressed in her favorite hunting outfit and began stashing her clothes, hunting supplies, and a few trinkets and things she couldn't bear to part with, including her baby blanket, into a bag that had been a gift from the Blue Fairy for her eighteenth birthday that could hold anything and still be light as a feather.
After making sure there was nothing else she wanted to take and making sure she still had Bae's ring, she crept out of her room. She knew her sisters were deeply asleep and that her parents were in the Council chamber, discussing how to defend the frontiers of the kingdom from further attacks. She slipped downstairs and out of the castle, heading for area at the back of the family's garden. Bae had shown her that there was an area that was undefended most of the time and they'd kept a rowboat there for when they wanted to sneak out of the castle and look at the stars without fear of being discovered by her family, the guards, or dwarves.
Emma carefully climbed into the boat and rowed herself across the lake. It was a lot harder than she was used to, Bae had always rowed them out, but she gritted her teeth against the screaming pain in her arms and shoulders and rowed across the lake, though she didn't remember it being quite so wide when Bae was rowing. After what felt like forever, she finally made it to the far shore and, grabbing her pack, she headed off to her new life, far away.
She was so focused on her plan; she never noticed the eyes following her path through the woods.
****A Few Days Later****
Emma sighed with exhaustion as she slumped against a tree. Not for the first time, she wished that she'd brought her horse with her, but since horses were primarily used by royalty, they weren't conducive to anonymity, so she was walking. She was pretty sure she was making good time, the towns were growing less and less familiar and she was getting fewer and fewer confused looks.
She reached into her pack, she'd bought some food at the last town and had filled her drinking canteen at the town's well.
Emma stretched her legs out in front of her, it was nice to rest her aching feet since walking the way she was while pregnant was not easy and it tired her out a great deal. She leaned her head back against the tree and closed her eyes; she never knew what hit her.
Regina smiled in triumph as she watched the young girl relax against the tree. She'd waited eighteen long years for this moment, waited for Snow and James to lower their guard, so she could finally have her revenge.
The years had diminished Regina's beauty somewhat, but not her burning hatred for Snow White and her determination to destroy any happiness her hated rival might have. She wasn't crazy or stupid enough to try and attack Snow and James directly, she'd hurt them through their children. So she'd watched, watched the children be born and grow up, she'd watched Emma and the knight flirt and make promises. When she'd watched the young girl slip out of the castle, she'd known her time for vengeance had come.
Moving silently, she approached the sleeping girl and pulled out a bean out of a pouch and carefully tossed it on the ground at the girl's feet. A swirling pool of purple light appeared in the ground. Regina crept up to the girl and shoved her into the swirling light and watched as she disappeared before the portal closed.
Regina smirked as she slipped into the forest, one down, two to go and then her vengeance would be complete.