The Swan and the Witch
Story Summary: Once upon a time, there was a castle with a curse upon it that belonged to a fearsome beast-sorceress. A young woman ends up trapped at the castle with its inhabitants. What will she discover about this strange place, it's odd residents, and it's even more mysterious mistress? Can she break the curse? Beauty and the Beast re-tell, Swan Queen
Emma was sitting in her room after breakfast and messing in one of the drawers when she found the hand mirror from the first night. She ran her hands gently over the ornate mirror.
She stared into her own eyes before taking a deep breath and speaking as clearly as she could, "David Nolan."
She held her breath, wondering if it would even work without the Queen there to make it so. But, within only a few secondsm, it filled with purple smoke just as before, clearing to reveal David and Mary Margaret sitting at the kitchen table, eating breakfast.
She stared at them with some longing, familiar faces, familiar places. A small wave of sorrow went through her, but then it passed. Because now she had a plan. Now she knew that she wasn't dealing with a crazy witch or an insane queen—she was dealing with a woman, Regina.
Witches and queens she didn't know. But people she could handle, people can be reasoned with. She didn't have to escape now, she had to convince Regina to let her go. And those were two entirely different situations. Especially since now she knew that at the very least the queen didn't want her to die—evidenced by her rather badass rescue a couple days ago.
All she needed to do was work on that notion. If they became friends, then surely she wouldn't keep her prisoner, right? It would take some time, the queen had walls more impregnable than those her castle, but Emma was fairly confident—she was rather skilled at scaling walls. A misspent youth of thievery was coming in handy once more.
She refocused on David and Mary Margaret, thinking she might even begin to see a bit of a bump developing under Mary Margaret's dress. "Damn," she thought aloud, "I wish I could hear what they were saying…"
The mirror swirled once more with purple and Emma frowned before shaking it. Was it broken? Maybe she could only look for a little while at a time? Or the witch had to be there for it to work longer?
Then the glass cleared once more, except…Emma's mouth fell open. Except now she could hear them. "What the…?" she began before closing her mouth and listening.
"….just don't know what else to do," David was saying. "They don't believe me, I can't go back by myself, and I can't leave her there." He sighed heavily and rested his head in his hands.
Mary Margaret soothingly rubbed his back, "I know, honey. We'll figure something out eventually."
"I just hate the idea of her stuck in that horrible place with that crazy witch."
"I'm so sorry I let her go, I should have come with her. Then maybe we'd all be home safe," Mary Margaret admitted.
"Don't say that," David said fiercely. "You couldn't have known and I don't think you coming would have made a difference anyway. To take on that witch we would have needed more than one extra person. We need an army. But these stupid villagers won't listen!"
"Hey," Mary Margaret protested lightly, "This is my village. It's a hard story to believe. They're just afraid—especially since you didn't exactly make it sound like an easy task. People would rather pretend to be ignorant and dismiss you than admit they're cowards."
"That doesn't make it right," David said sadly.
"I know, my love. I know. We will get her back though. We will find her. Family always finds each other."
"I know," David responded, calming down. "I know. Right now our focus has to be on the baby. It's what she wanted."
"Yes, and once they're here, we'll have come up with a plan and we can rescue Emma."
"You're right. You always are. How'd you get to be so sensible?" David asked, his wife's smile and confidence managing to pull him from the downward spiral his thoughts had begun to take.
"I've always been this sensible," Mary Margaret said, turning up her nose, before looking side-long at him, "After all, I managed to get you to marry me."
David laughed and shook his head, "I think that's evidence of the opposite, my love."
Emma watched for a few more minutes until they kissed goodbye and went about their separate days. It filled her with a combination of the new sorrow over missing them and a feeling that was not so new. Sure, they were cheesy around each other, but often she wished she had something like what they shared, the way they understood each other and wanted to same things. A partner.
She sighed once before shaking herself out of her thoughts. Her mind latched onto the first distraction she thought of: getting a message to David. The conversation had convinced her that, while it was good that she had a long term plan, she also needed a short term one.
David and Mary Margaret deserved to know she was safe and she wanted to ease their worry in any way she could. Getting a letter to them would help make sure that they worried less, blamed themselves less, and would hopefully make sure they didn't do anything foolish. The idea of the couple ripped apart by those wolves made her shudder.
Plus, it would also be a good way to test out her overall plan. After all, if she couldn't convince the Queen to let her send a letter, it was not very likely that she could eventually convince her to let her go.
"Something on your mind, Miss Swan?" Regina drawled as she studied the blonde across from her. Emma had finished eating a few moments ago and had switched to staring at her plate, pushing around some green beans. Occasionally she would look up or open her mouth before shutting it or looking away with a sigh.
The Queen wasn't sure if she was more amused at the fidgeting, annoyed that she wouldn't just say whatever it was, or suspicious as to whatever she might be up to that was making her so nervous. It was unusual especially since Emma was very rarely nervous—even when she probably should be.
The blonde froze at the question and looked up sheepishly, "That obvious?"
Regina merely lifted a furry brow.
"Right, well… I was thinking—" Emma began.
"Are you sure that an entirely safe pursuit for you to undertake?"
Emma scowled and actually had to resist the urge to stick out her tongue. What was it about the Queen that made her want to act like a five year old? This would never work if she didn't stop letting the brunette rile her up. She took a deep breath, "Yeah, yeah. Okay. I was wondering, you sent David home with magic, right?"
"Yes…" Regina had no idea where she was going with this and it showed, contorting her catlike face strangely.
"Well, then you can send other stuff away by magic too, right?" Emma proposed.
"I could," Regina acknowledged. "But to what end?"
"I was wondering if you would send a letter. For me."
"A letter," she repeated.
"Yeah, like a letter to David, telling him I'm not you know, dead or something?" Emma suggested.
"I see…" Regina said slowly. It had never occurred to her to do such a thing or that Miss Swan might ask for such a thing. Neither of her previous guests had asked, although they had no one they would have wished to write to anyway.
She herself had never been much for personal correspondence, even before the curse. She never had any friends to write and any ruling related messages had ceased being necessary when they had all been cursed. She supposed it made sense for Emma to want to reassure her brother she was alive. It wouldn't be too hard to magic a letter over to their little cottage. Truthfully, the curse did not limit her powers when sending other things out of the castle—only sending herself and any of her servants or summoning things from outside in.
She couldn't see any harm in complying with Emma's request and yet she was unsure if she should. She wasn't sure if she should be granting Emma's every whim like that—she had already given her nicer rooms than any other guest and saved her from the wolves—at a rather escalated personal risk than she had anticipated. She did not want to appear to bend to each demand the younger woman had. And yet it really was such a simple thing. It would probably solve some other issues as well—like the foolish shepherd attempting a rescue or whatever it was that foolhardy shepherds did.
She shook herself out of her deliberations, impressed that Emma had managed to remain quiet and let her think it through without cutting in. "I shall have to consider it," she finally said.
Emma's face fell at the ambiguous response.
"However," Regina continued, "I shall give you my decision by tomorrow night at dinner."
"Oh," Emma blinked, assuming that the Queen had only said she would think about it to avoid saying 'no' outright. But she had given a deadline for an answer without prompting. "Alright. That seems fair."
Regina nodded, "If that is all for tonight…?"
"Oh! Yeah. That's it," Emma said, still rather caught off guard by how civil the conversation had gone. She thought she'd have to argue more and that the queen would say no immediately.
"Very well," the queen stood up. "Good night."
"Good night." Emma answered before the queen left.
Emma paced the next night, glancing at the clock as the hand slowly moved towards the six. Would the Queen agree to send her letter? Would she have to argue her case? Would her magic actually work as she said it would?
She sighed dramatically before falling back on the bed. Pongo whined lightly in response from where he'd been watching her on the bed next to where she had fallen back. She leaned up, supporting herself with one hand and scratching behind the Dalmatian's ears with the other. "I know boy, I hope this works too. I know you miss David."
Truthfully, Pongo seemed to miss David more than she did. As the days went on, it was getting more and more obvious that he didn't understand why his master wasn't back or why he couldn't go to him. Not to mention how the magic of this place seemed to upset him, confusing his senses.
"I know," she continued to croon to the dog. "I miss him too."
After a long while lying on the bed, thinking, she sat up and looked at the clock. Finally it was time to go to dinner. She gave Pongo one last pat before getting off the bed and heading for the dining room.
She actually arrived before the Queen, five or so minutes early. She went to her seat, the candles lit and plates out. She fidgeted with the silverware until another set of doors other than the ones she had come through opened and the Queen swept in. She didn't halt when her eyes landed on Emma already in her chair at the table but her eyes did communicate her surprise.
"Miss Swan, early for once?" her voice was low and, dare she say, amused?
Emma smiled, "It's been known to happen on occasion."
"I see," Regina took her own seat and the kitchen doors opened soon after, Granny with the trays of food.
Once the food was on the table the Queen gave a small mock toast with her wine glass, "Shall we?"
Emma nodded and began to start helping herself, although more for something to distract her from her nervous anticipation of what the Queen's answer to her request would be than her usual ravenous hunger. She had hoped the other woman would tell her if she would do it before food, but it seemed she would have to wait until after they ate to get an answer.
Regina watched the blonde woman across from her with veiled amusement as she delicately ate her food, her guest's impatience obvious as she swallowed her food rather hurriedly instead of letting out her usual sounds of delight at the well-prepared feast.
She was careful to act as though everything was normal, although she didn't comment on the fact that Emma was silent, no unusual questions tonight.
For once, the younger woman finished first, setting her silverware to the side and taking a second helping of cider. She looked at the Queen impatiently, but the brunette gave no sign that she noticed Emma's agitation. "So…" Emma began, desperate for any conversation. "Nice weather today?" She winced as soon as the words left her mouth.
Regina looked up from her plate, her mouth involuntarily twitching in amusement. Emma thought she might even see a mischevious twinkle in the purple eyes, before she dismissed it as her imagination. Regina pushed her plate back and regarded the woman across from her, "Really? That's the best you can come up with?"
Emma scowled and humphed. "Well, if you would just tell me your decision…" she grumbled.
The Queen resisted the urge to roll her eyes at the blonde's immature display. "Honestly, how old are you? It is unbecoming to pout like a child waiting for a sweet."
Emma did roll her eyes, "Well I think its "immature" to play with your food," she then blinked at her words, remembering who exactly she was talking to, before hurriedly adding, "so to speak."
"Of course," Regina responded dryly. "I suppose I should put you out of your misery then," she paused before adding, "so to speak."
Emma gave her a look that clearly said "not funny", but refrained from saying anything else lest she make the Queen change her mind.
Regina cleared her throat, "I have decided to grant your request."
Emma blinked at her in surprise. "So you'll do it?" she asked, wanting to verify that was what the Queen was saying.
The Queen nodded. "Yes."
Emma stared at her for another minute in shock. She had actually said yes. She was going to let her send her letter home. She was so prepared to give an impassioned speech about why she should get to send it and why David deserved to know and the Queen just….agreed. Without her having to plead or anything.
After a minute of silence, Regina raised a brow, "Unless you have changed your mind about wishing to send it?"
That jolted Emma out of her state of shock, "No! I mean, yes I still want to send it!"
Regina suppressed a chuckle, Emma was so easy to rile up. "Alright then. Do you have one prepared or do you need time to write it still?"
Emma stared at her again, did she want to do it now? "Yeah, yes. I wrote it already. In case you… Yes." She reached into her pocket and frowned, before checking her other one. "Umm…. I think I left it in my room," she admitted sheepishly.
This time Regina gave into the urge and rolled her eyes, "Honestly, Miss Swan."
"I can go get it though," Emma began to stand.
The Queen waved her back to her seat, "I can summon it here with magic—wouldn't want you to forget it once more or get lost or some other such nonsense."
Emma pouted, "I haven't gotten lost in days!"
"Of course," Regina mocked lightly. She made a gesture and the letter appeared in a cloud of purple smoke in front of Emma.
As Emma picked it up, scanning it to make sure her message was still what she wanted to say, Regina spoke once more, "Anything else you'd like me to fetch for you to send back? A fruit basket perhaps?" Sarcasm positively dripped from the Queen's voice, but, per usual for Emma, it seemed to have been misinterpreted as the blonde frowned as if considering if there was anything else she wanted to send.
Regina sighed, she shouldn't have said anything. Oh well, she had asked. "What is it?"
Emma squirmed under the penetrating purple stare, "Do you think you could send Philippe back too? I'd like to keep Juane with me, but David could really use Philippe. And…" She looked to the side, thinking, before heaving a sigh. "You should probably send Pongo back too. He's really David's dog. They're missing each other, I know it. David got him when he was only a puppy and this is the longest they've ever been apart."
"I was not being serious," Regina said deadpan. "I am not some sort of delivery service."
"Oh, so you can't do it?" Emma asked surprised, "Sorry."
The Queen glared at her imperially, "That is not what I said."
Emma held up her hands in a placating manner, "Of course, of course. Forget I said anything."
Regina growled, the little blonde was practically taunting her, dismissing her abilities. Of all the nerve… She caught a glint in those blue-green eyes and realized the younger woman was doing it on purpose. The small attempt at the more subtle manipulation startled a chuckle from her.
Emma stared at her in shock, clearly not guessing that would be her reaction. It took her a second to realize what the noise even was. The sound was strange, although Emma wasn't sure it is was because of her form or merely because the other woman hadn't laughed in a long time. Either way the sound was not unpleasant.
Regina shook her head, "Very well, I shall send the animals back as well."
Emma smiled widely. "Thank you," she said, catching Regina off-guard. When was the last time someone had smiled at her with sincerity, in of appreciation of something she had done? Years for certain. She mentally shook her head to rid herself of such strange thoughts and focused back on Emma.
Emma had sealed her envelope using one of their dining candles, not wanting to say anything that might jeopardize this kind gesture on the Queen's part. "Ready," she said with a smile.
Regina nodded solemnly and with three simultaneous poofs, the letter, the dog, and the horse were gone back home.
David was lost in thought as he made his way down the road to his house for dinner. He was preoccupied with his latest project—not to mention worrying about Emma and the baby coming.
As he passed the small barn, he thought he heard a strange noise. He stopped a moment to listen. It didn't sound like their one pig or the number of chickens they owned. It sounded like…barking?
Ah, yes, it was Pongo barking. The closed doors had muffled the noise, but now it was obviously just Pongo.
He nodded, glad to have figured that out, and started to continue the rest of the way to the house. He'd only taken a few steps when he froze. Wait… Pongo?
Instantly he raced back to the barn and threw the doors open. A blur of black and white fur tackled him to the ground instantly. He fell to the ground as he wrapped his arms around the over-excited dog, not even minding the tongue bath his face was getting. "Pongo! Oh, Pongo. It's so good to see you. Who's a good boy? Oh, you are."
The joyous reunion between man and dog lasted another few minutes until both calmed down. He pulled back, his dog's face in his hands. "How'd you get here, boy? Is Emma with you?" He looked around but already knew she wasn't, she would have come out herself if she was. Pongo whined and David's hands finally landed, not on fur, but on paper. There was a letter tucked into the dog's collar.
He took it eagerly, breaking the seal with trembling hands, and quickly reading the words written in his sister's unmistakable, bold, scrawl.
I'm not much for writing letters, but I have to so I might as well put in a good effort. First off, I am fine. The witch-queen never had me stay in the horrible cell she stuck you in. She also isn't the only living creature in this castle as it first seemed. In fact, there a number of rather…unusual…but friendly servants.
I wanted to let you know that I will find a way to get back home, it just might take a little while. I have a plan. Don't worry about me, focus on Mary Margaret and the baby. I promise I will meet them one day, hopefully not too far in the future.
Pongo, Philippe, and Juane have all been looked after as well. I am glad you are safe and believe it or not, I am too. Try not to feel too guilty about my imprisonment. Everything will work out in the end.
P.S. Don't do anything stupid til I come home.
David's first instinct was to disbelieve the letter, for all that Pongo was home safe. Even though it was in Emma's scrawling hand, it could still have been written under coercion—though to what end he wasn't sure of as clearly the witch was already in the dominant position.
However, something stopped him from thinking that and led him to believe the letter was in fact legitimate. At the bottom corner of the page, there was a small, rather crude, drawing. It was of the bottom half of a circle with a line coming up from the middle with a triangle coming off of one side of it. A child's approximation of a sailboat.
It was also a secret code he and Emma had worked out. It was his way of proving letters he sent from abroad, the few times he'd gone on a trip, had come from him. No one would have thought to include that and Emma could simply have left it off if she was being forced.
No, it looked like the note was genuine.
He stared at it for a moment long before a smile broke out over his face. Emma was safe. Emma had a plan. Emma would be home. She had gotten herself out of tricky situations before and, while this was a special kind of trouble even for her, he believed in her.
He also had some experience going against her famous determination a couple of times. Once she set her mind to something, she was like a terrier. The witch wouldn't know what hit her.
All he could think was, good luck.
A/N: I am so sorry this chapter took so long to finish and post. I promise I got it up as soon as it was done, although I know its still so late. Everything is just super busy right now and won't die down until mid-November. However, I do have some things that I wrote when I first came up with this story already written that will start to be used in the next couple of chapters. Maybe that will keep things from falling even further behind. I do have the whole story planned out so that definitely helps. I'll try not to be so long with the next one, but I really can't promise anything.
Thanks for waiting and reading. Please let me know what you think. :)