AN: Well folks, this is it; last chapter. Thank you for all the great reviews and messages, and for the follows and favs!
There's such a fooled heart
Beating so fast in search of new dreams
A love that will last within your heart
I'll place the moon within your heart
As the pain sweeps through
Makes no sense for you
Every thrill has gone
Wasn't too much fun at all
But I'll be there for you
As the world falls down
The masquerade party was in full swing when Emma entered through the grand doors to the hall. Beautiful masks decorated the faces of the room full of strangers as they danced and laughed all around her. She felt slightly out of place as one of the only people without a mask to disguise her, but that didn't seem to bother her as she hefted the bell of the gorgeous white gown she wore and proceeded to walk around the room. She didn't know who she was looking for, but she knew she was looking for someone. Her eyes scanned the crowd and she would perk up when she swore she found the person she was searching for, only to be disappointed when they would disappear into the mass of people.
Regina watched from her perch upon the center stairs as Emma combed the crowded room looking for her. She noted with a rueful smirk that the white ball gown and head full of golden curls gave the blonde the appearance of a princess, something she was sure Emma would never want to be told. As a matter of fact, Regina was positive Emma didn't even own a dress back home, but tonight the queen made sure to put her in one and she wasn't disappointed; Emma was gorgeous. As for her own attire, Regina was outfitted in an open front dress that half hid the leather pants and boots she adorned, which she topped off with a blue sequined jacket over a frilled white shirt. It made her feel feminine yet powerful, an image she strove to deliver, especially when seducing a beautiful woman.
The hairs on the back of Emma's neck stood on end and she knew the person she was looking for was watching her. Spinning around, brown met green from across the room as their eyes locked together in a heated gaze. Emma remained rooted in place as she watched Regina descend the stairs and approach her in careful strides until they stood a mere inch apart. The heels of Regina's boots gave her an edge over Emma, but not by much as they were almost eye to eye.
"Care to dance?" Regina asked in a husky tone and she smiled when the blonde offered a small nod in response.
The rest of the room and its occupants seemed to fade away as Emma felt the brunette snake her arm around her waist and pull her in close before they clasped their free hands together. Emma had never felt so content as they started to sway to the music, but something still niggled at the back of her mind that she was missing something. Russet eyes gazed upon her with such hunger and Emma blushed from their intensity, feeling as though Regina had just stripped her naked from what should've been a simple look.
They continued to dance for a while, but Emma couldn't shake the feeling that something wasn't right. Her eyes started to dart around, looking everywhere but at the attractive woman in her arms, and that's when she noticed that everyone in the hall was staring at them, whispering to each other as they kept a wide berth for the two women on the dance floor. She felt too exposed and abruptly stopped dancing before she pulled away from the brunette.
"What's wrong?" Regina asked in concern.
"I have to go," Emma muttered as she started searching for an exit.
"Go where?" Regina prodded as she trailed behind the distressed blonde.
"I don't know, I…," Emma paused when she noticed a clock hanging on the wall. It hit her all at once where she was and why she was there. "Henry!"
Before Regina could say a word, Emma bolted for the doors on the far right and ripped them open. A swirling vortex greeted her on the other side, much like Jefferson's hat, and she took a deep breath before she jumped into it, falling through the spinning portal until she blacked out.
When she awoke, she noted that she was back in her normal clothes and lying on a couch in the center of what looked to be a huge library. Slowly sitting up, she realized her memory was starting to fade. Henry and the goblins, the queen and the hearts, a dance and a dress; all of it left her mind piece by piece until she sat there on the couch with a blank stare, unsure of who or where she should be.
"Oh goodness, I didn't see you there," a woman quipped as she made her way over to Emma's side. "My name is Belle. What's yours?"
"I, uh…I don't know," Emma answered before she furrowed her brow. "Where am I?"
"You're in my castle, inside my library. Perhaps you came for a book?"
Emma got to her feet and looked around at the thousands of volumes with a confused expression. "I think I was looking for something."
"Maybe I can help you out. Here, follow me," Belle indicated as she led the blonde over to a section of books.
Running her finger over the bindings of several titles, Belle stopped on one and pulled it out before she handed it to Emma.
"That's the story about Beauty and the Beast," she indicated with a grin. "It's my favorite story."
Emma started to leaf through the pages, but nothing seemed familiar about it.
"This is a good one too," Belle quipped as she handed over another book. "It's Alice in Wonderland."
"I don't, this isn't…"
"Oh, here's another great story! And don't forget this one!" Belle sang out as she kept piling books up into Emma's arms.
"I can't hold it much longer," Emma confessed and soon the growing pile of books fell to the floor, scattering across the ground in a chaotic mess.
Emma quirked an eyebrow at the other woman as she paid no mind to the incident, only adding to the clutter as she climbed a ladder and threw more books down onto the floor without a care in the world. Shaking her head, Emma gazed upon the scattered volumes before an open book a few feet away caught her attention. She quickly scrambled for it and flipped it over to read the title.
"Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," she read out as she flipped back to the page that caught her attention. It was a woman dressed in a white and gold renaissance gown as she stood beside an older gentleman. "Regina."
"What was that, dearie?" Belle called down.
She ignored the book-crazed girl as she flipped through the pages and landed on another familiar face.
"Grumpy…Regina, Grumpy…the labyrinth!" she suddenly remembered as she tossed the book to the side. "I have to save my son!"
"Wait! You can't leave!" Belle shouted as she watched Emma run out of the library. "Come back here!"
Emma ignored the other woman as she bolted through the long and twisted hallways of the giant castle. Corner after corner she turned until she found the front doors and barreled through them. The gates to the Goblin City stood before her and she turned back to see if she was being chased, only to be stunned to see that the castle she just came from was gone.
The blonde looked over and saw Anton and Grumpy making their way to her side.
"Thank God you're safe! We went back for you and you were gone," Tiny explained as he leaned over and patted her shoulder.
"Did you just see that castle I came from?" Emma questioned as she was still trying to catch her breath.
"What castle?" Tiny wondered as he looked around in confusion.
Emma chuckled. "Never mind."
Grumpy stood back a little ways as he worried his hat between his hands. Emma figured he felt guilty for the apple and knew in her heart that it wasn't his idea. She walked over to him and smiled before she lightly punched his shoulder.
"I know the queen made you do it and I forgive you," Emma offered. "Besides, her plan didn't work."
The dwarf looked up with wide eyes. "You forgive me?"
"Yeah, don't fret over it. Come on, we have a castle to storm."
Grumpy put his cap back on before he shouted, "What are we waiting for? Let's go get this rat who calls herself the queen."
Anton shoved open the massive doors protecting the city and the three quickly made their way inside.
Regina hummed softly while the tired infant mewed in her arms, his tiny hand finding purchase around her finger as he started to drift off.
"Your Majesty! Your Majesty!"
Henry's face scrunched up at the intruding shouts before he started to wail at the top of his lungs. Regina narrowed her eyes at the meddlesome guard before she hissed, "You better have a good reason for storming in here and waking the prince."
"T-the g-girl," he stuttered out.
"What of her?"
"She escaped the sleeping curse and Belle! She's in the city and on her way to the castle as we speak!"
"What!" Regina roared in anger, causing Henry to scream louder. "Sound the alarm! Call out the guards! Stop her!"
"Is it just me or does it seem a little too quiet around here?" Emma questioned as they strolled through the abandoned city.
"Um, Emma," Tiny stated as he pointed ahead. "I think you spoke too soon."
The trio watched as an army of goblins poured out from the castle, armed with swords and shields at the ready as they headed right towards Emma, Grumpy, and Anton.
"Go Emma!" Grumpy ordered as he rolled up his sleeves. "We can handle this."
"What? Are you nuts?! I'm not leaving you two here alone to fight them!" Emma protested.
"Grumpy's right, you need to go. Now!" Tiny ordered.
"Are you sure?"
"Yes, we're sure. Go and get that baby of yours," Grumpy said with a half-smile.
"Thank you, both of you. I couldn't have done this without you!" Emma praised as she sprinted into the alley on her right and disappeared.
Running came natural to Emma and she ducked and hid throughout the city streets, avoiding the searching goblins as if they were the cops that were sent after her for stealing. The nearby clock tower indicated that she only had ten minutes left and she hurried for the unprotected castle doors and entered.
Reaching the interior of the fortress, Emma quickly made her way from one room to the next, searching for the missing queen and her son, but they were nowhere to be found. She was starting to lose hope of ever finding them until she reached the queen's bedchamber and burst through the door, discovering Regina as she stood by the window with Henry clutched tightly to her chest.
"Give me my child," Emma demanded as she approached the other woman.
"Beware, Emma," Regina warned as she glared menacingly. "I have been generous up until now, but I can be cruel."
"Generous?" Emma scoffed as she stood before the brunette. "You've imprisoned the people of this world and you take out their hearts to control them. You steal my kid in the dead of night and bend the rules to your will. That doesn't sound generous to me."
"These people are here because of my mother! I had no hand in their fate," Regina snapped.
Emma softened her features a bit before she asked, "Can't you send them back?"
Regina released a forced chuckle. "As if that were even possible. My mother controls everything. The only way to send everyone back to the Enchanted Forest is to destroy this world, and that can only be obtained through true love's kiss; my true love's kiss to be precise, except there is no true love or happy endings in this kingdom. Therein lies the conundrum and why we remain stuck here for all of eternity."
Emma reached out and took her son from Regina's arms, leaving the blanket behind. She kissed his head and inhaled his baby scent before she released the breath she felt like she had been holding for the past thirteen hours.
"I'm sorry, Henry," Emma murmured softly.
"Please stay," Regina suddenly pleaded as she clutched the blue blanket tightly in her grasp. "Rule the kingdom with me and I will give you anything in return."
"I won and a deal's a deal, but you do owe me a wish," Emma indicated.
"Name it and it is yours."
"Not now, but someday I will call you for it."
Regina tried not to smile at the idea of hearing from Emma again in the future, but she frowned when she realized that it could be years before that ever occurred. Reaching out, the queen gently rubbed her hand over the downy softness of Henry's head before she pulled back and pointed to a floor-length mirror.
"Your way home is through there," Regina advised as she fought the tears that threatened to spill. "I only did as you asked, you know? You asked me to take him and I did."
Emma smiled at the brunette. "I know."
Regina watched on with a heavy heart as Emma walked through the mirror and disappeared before she allowed herself to crumble, dropping into a nearby chair and crying into the blanket that still held the baby boy's scent.
5 years later…
"Ruby! I'm heading home!" Emma yelled to the back kitchen as she removed her apron.
"Wait!" Ruby cried out as she ran into the dining area and handed Emma a small package. "I won't see you tomorrow for your birthday, so I'm giving this to you now."
"What is it?" Emma asked as she eyed the package.
Tearing off the colorful paper, Emma sucked in a sharp breath when she read the title of the small red book that she unveiled. "How is this even…where did you get this?"
Ruby shrugged before she offered, "Some used bookstore on West Street. It was just there among the shelves, sticking out like a neon sign. When I picked it up and thumbed through it, I couldn't believe how much it sounded like your dream. Crazy, huh?"
Emma laughed it off as she rubbed her finger over the title of the book. "Yeah, crazy. Thanks for this, Ruby."
Ruby gave her a quick hug before she winked. "Happy Birthday, doll. Now get going and give that cute son of yours a kiss from his Auntie Ruby."
"Will do," Emma offered before she left the diner to pick up Henry from the babysitter.
After dinner and a bath, Emma got Henry settled into his bed before she pulled the newly acquired red book out and showed it to him.
"Would you like me to read you a new story tonight?" Emma asked.
"What story is it, Mommy?"
"The Labyrinth," Emma answered as she handed the book over for her inquisitive son to explore.
Henry had a passion for stories and already showed intelligence beyond his age when it came to reading. As he paged through the book, Emma noticed that there were illustrations within the chapters and she couldn't help the small gasp that escaped her throat when Henry paused on a particular drawing of very familiar person.
"That's the sad lady," Henry indicated as he pointed to the picture. "She visits me in the mirror."
Emma was shocked by his words before she asked, "When does she visit you?"
The little boy tilted his head in thought before he answered, "At night. She's always got tears in her eyes…that's why I call her the sad lady. Are you gonna read it now?"
Emma was dumbfounded by her son's words. Regina had managed to find a way to keep in contact with Henry without Emma's knowledge. She wasn't sure if she was happy that Regina still managed to find a way to see Henry or upset that she never paid her a single visit in the past five years. There wasn't a single day that had passed without Emma's thoughts drifting to the Goblin Queen, wondering if things could've turned out differently.
"Mommy? Are you gonna read?"
Emma startled at her son's voice before she took the book into her hands and started to read the story she knew intimately well. Within minutes, Henry had fallen asleep but she kept reading, lost in the memories that the book had drudged back up and intrigued by what had occurred after Emma had left.
Regina had freed all of the prisoners from the underground and she ordered all of the hearts to be returned to the people they belonged to. The Siren of the river had put up a fight and a war broke out, but Regina had won in the end and Ariel was no more. Grumpy and Anton were given the task of returning the hearts to their rightful owners and the river dried up after every last beating organ was restored. Only Grumpy and Anton knew the reasoning behind the queen's change of heart and they became her most loyal subjects after she had proven her good intentions to them. The people in the kingdom were happy for the first time ever and they carried on as best as they could in a world they didn't belong in. Regina, on the other hand, was quite the opposite of her subjects as she became more depressed with each passing day.
The final illustration depicted Regina sitting in front of a tall mirror that displayed the image of five year old Henry sleeping in his room while she sobbed into a worn-out blue blanket. Emma's heart broke in two as a tear rolled down her cheek before she flipped to the next page, only to find it blank. She continued flipping, but all the pages were empty.
"No; it can't end there," Emma muttered before jumped from Henry's bed and ran into her own bedroom.
With a shaky breath, she approached her floor length mirror with the book still clutched in her hands.
The mirror remained unchanged and the blonde huffed at her reflected appearance before she stated, "I want to use my wish. You owe me, Regina."
Emma jumped when the mirror's surface swirled before the brunette she had ached for appeared in front of her. Emma couldn't help but note the sadness in Regina's eyes and the startling fact that she hadn't aged a day since she last saw her.
"Are you immortal?"
Regina chuckled as she hadn't expected that to be Emma's first response. "I'm not immortal, just frozen in time."
"Oh," Emma responded before she said, "I'm here to cash in my wish that you owe me. Can you come through the mirror?"
"I'm trapped in this world, remember? You can come over here though," Regina indicated.
Emma seemed a little hesitant, afraid to leave her son behind in case she couldn't return right away.
"Henry will be fine. We can watch over him while you're here," Regina offered before she added, "You know you always had the ability to come and go as you please. All you had to do was ask."
Emma felt a rush of guilt wash over her for not making contact sooner, but there was nothing she could do about that now. With a tight smile, she placed the little red book on her dresser before she rested her hands against the looking glass and pushed through. She appeared on the other side of the mirror and the two women locked eyes as they stood intimately close.
"So, what is it that you wish for?" Regina asked.
"A kiss from you," Emma reiterated as she held the brunette's gaze.
"That is a waste of a wish," Regina muttered as she fought to keep the waiver out of her voice.
"I beg to differ," Emma countered. "Now, are you going to grant my wish or not?"
"Are you sure this is what you want?"
"As sure as the feelings that I know you feel for me," Emma answered brazenly before she grabbed the startled queen's face and kissed her.
The intensity of the kiss kept the women locked together as their arms found purchase around each others body's. Emma had never felt such an immediate attraction from a simple kiss and her assumption was proved correct when a magical shock wave burst out from their connected lips. The startled queen broke them apart as she gawked at Emma with a stunned expression.
"That was true love's kiss," Regina breathed out. "You broke the curse."
No sooner had the words left Regina's mouth that the two women suddenly gripped onto each other as the castle started to shake violently. They stumbled over to the window as they fought to stay erect before Regina and Emma looked out at the kingdom below. All the inhabitants were disappearing in flashes of magic, most likely returning to the Enchanted Forest as was part of the agreement if the curse was ever broken. A huge chunk of the ceiling landed next to them and the startled women jumped back before Emma started to tug frantically on Regina's arm.
"We have to leave now!" Emma shouted as she pulled the brunette over to the mirror.
"I can't leave!"
"Yes, you can. The curse is broken, Regina. It's time for you to come home…with me," Emma told her before she took the brunette's hand and led her through the floor length mirror.
The two women tumbled out into Emma's room and Regina looked around in shock.
"I'm free…I'm finally free," Regina realized before tears ran unfettered down her face. "You saved me."
"I'm sorry I didn't do it sooner."
Hands suddenly grabbed Emma's face before the brunette kissed her soundly on the lips. Emma pulled back with a cheesy grin and they turned to witness the last of the kingdom crumble away before the mirror returned to its normal reflective state.
"Mommy, I heard a loud noise and…," Henry paused in the doorway when he realized the sad lady was with his mother. His eyes lit up before he exclaimed, "You're here! For real?"
"For real," Regina answered before she caught the boy as he launched himself at her.
Emma watched the scene unfold with a rueful smirk before she questioned, "Just how often did you visit Henry at night?"
Regina blushed as she held Henry tightly against her before she answered, "Almost every night."
Emma chuckled with a shake of her head because she couldn't be mad. She knew she had fallen in love with the Goblin Queen, so it only made sense that Henry did as well.
"Would you like to help me tuck him back into bed?" Emma offered.
Regina's eyes lit up before she nodded. "I would like that very much."
"You're not the sad lady anymore, so what do I call you now?" Henry asked as Regina carried him over to his bedroom.
Regina looked to Emma for help and the blonde ruffled her son's hair before she said, "I think Mama would work. After all, she's here to stay with us forever."
Emma noted the tears that pricked Regina's eyes before they tucked the boy in and kissed him goodnight. Henry snuggled down into his covers and fell asleep as two women watched over him from the doorway, the blonde's arm securely around Regina's waist as she sighed in content.
Little did they know that back in Emma's bedroom, the book on top of her dresser flipped open to the blank pages before they started to rapidly fill with new images and words, depicting her rescue of the Goblin Queen. When it reached the final page, an illustration of their current scene with the two of them watching over their son covered the sheet before eight simple words scrawled out below it: And they lived happily ever after...the end.