Title: The Swan and the Nightingale

Author: RebelByrdie

Rating: M

Fandom: Once Upon A Time

Pairing: Regina/Emma

Disclaimer: Storybrooke, its population and its drama belong to its creators. This is a work of not-for-profit fiction.

Summary: This is a Post Queen of Hearts SwanQueen AU based on one single premise: What if there was one, just one, person that has always loved Regina and they arrive in Storybrooke with a few old friends from the Enchanted Forest. SwanQueen, SleepingWarrior, RedBeauty.

Author's Note: I have been out of the fan fiction writing game for a very long time, but the insane chemistry between Lana Parilla and Jennifer Morrison on Once Upon a Time and the amazing #swanqueen tag on tumblr has dragged me back this isn't too awful. I have no beta-reader so all mistakes and the absolute destruction of the English language is entirely on me. Italics indicate a scene took place in the past.


Tiny bare feet beat a rapid and familiar path on the cold flagstone floor and through the always open door. A moment later the nightdress clad four year old launched herself at the still half-asleep woman in the bed.

"Nan! Nan! Nan!" The girl tugged on the woman's uncovered arm. "Up! Time to be up!" The woman didn't respond and the girl's small face fell into a pout, "Na-an!"

Then, as quick as a snake, the woman twisted to the side and wrapped her arms around the girl in a tight bear hug, "Good morning, My Nightingale."

"I had a dweam again."

Green eyes flashed and the woman pulled the girl closer with slender arms that were several shades too dark to have given birth to the precious baby they were around, "A bad one?"

She felt the little girl shake her head, and breathed a small sigh of relief. There were so many nightmares that a good dream was a great gift.

She pushed the bedcovers off of her and twisted around to get out of bed. She stood and smoothed her own night dress out before reaching down to pick her girl up. The nanny settled the four year old on her hip and they walked back into the nursery together. "Tell me about you dream."

"A pwincess."

"Princess." She corrected the girl absent-mindedly while she selected the girl's dress for the day. She knew that the child would eventually master her r's, but her mother expected the girl to speak properly now.

"Was that princess you?"

The girl had the nightdress half-way off and tangled in her arms above her head. "No."

The Nanny pulled the large shirt the rest of the way off the girl, "So another princess, then?"

"She was encha-enchan-magiced. She's a swan during the day and a princess at night."

The nanny helped the girl into her petticoat, and tried not to chuckle at the baby's struggle with the long word. "A swan and a princess. It sounds like a very strange curse."

"She's sad and so is her queen."

"You mean her king?" Sometimes the girl got titles confused, it was something they were working on.

"No. It was a lady, a sad queen. Everyone thinks she's bad, like mamma, but she's nice like you."

Her heart melted a little bit at the girl's innocent words. She could not explain to anyone how much she loved her Little Nightingale.

The little girl held her chubby little arms up for her dress, "She looks mean and people are scared of her. I think she's cursed and needs the princess to save her."

"I see." She really did not see, but felt that this was important. This dream seemed far more vivid than normal. She helped the girl into her light blue frock.

"How does the Swan Princess save the Queen if she is also cursed?"

The little girl shrugged, "They have to save each other, but they don't know how."

The Nanny tied the sash behind the girl's back. "There is only one way to break such dark curses, my Little One."

The girl turned to her, dark eyes full of hope, "What is it?"

The nanny smoothed dark hair, "True love's kiss, Regina. No magic is more powerful than love."

Their conversation was interrupted by three staccato knocks on the door. Marie, the maid, brought in a tray, "Breakfast, your highness."

Regina, always easy to distract, brightened, "HI MARIE! Did you bring pancakes?"

The Nanny walked back into her own small chamber to dress for the day and tried to shake off the foreboding she felt. Regina was pacified by pancakes for now, but the story would come back. She knew it in her bones, this was not only a dream.

When Prince Henry came to see his daughter, as he did every day, Regina told him the tale as well. The Prince doted on his child and praised her imagination. "You should paint a picture of it, Regina. Maybe one day we can make it into your very own story book."

The paintings, colorful but crude, were drying by the fire an hour later.

She looked over Regina's work and could pick out a wobbly white shape on a wide blue oval that could be a swan on a lake. The next page was a black castle with a dark triangle with dark lines that represented hair. The dark triangle had to be the queen. The third page was of the lake again but instead of a smiling sun there was a crescent moon and dots of stars in a dark sky. There was a blobby red triangle with yellow hair-the cursed princess. The fourth page had both triangles on it and a yellow blob that Regina called a horse. She smiled at the pages, they were beautiful, just like Regina.

At precisely three candle marks before dinner the nursery door flew open. Regina, playing with her dolls by the fire, jerked and immediately stood. Though she smiled at the woman who strode through the door, her dark eyes were wide with fear. "Hello Mother."

Princess Cora looked at her small daughter imperiously, "Put down the doll, Regina." She turned on her heel. "It's time to put your childish things aside and come with me for your lessons."

Regina put her beloved doll on the nearby chair and immediately hurried to her mother's side. "Yes Mother."

Cora paused to glare at the Nanny. "Gypsy."

Esmeralda sank into a very shallow curtsy, "Your Highness."

She watched mother and daughter walk out and winced when Cora put her hand on the back of Regina's slender neck and sank her nails into the tender skin there. "Stand up straight, Regina. Queens do not slouch." Whatever else she said was lost as the pair turned the corner of the corridor.

Esmeralda was left in the empty nursery with a sour stomach and bitter anger burning in her stomach. She wished, not for the first time, that she was Regina's mother and not just her nursemaid. Her eyes fell to the paintings and she collected them with shaky hands. She did not know why, but she knew without a doubt that Cora could never see these drawings or know about Regina's dream. The wicked woman would find some way to twist the tale to her own means. She would use the story, the one that Regina was so sure was true, to hurt the little girl and she would not let that happen. This unknown princess, this Swan, would save her Nightingale one day.