Home Is Where the Heart Is
Title: Home Is Where the Heart Is
Summary: After the rebuilding of the kingdom in the Enchanted Forest, Hook turns to Regina with a desperate plan to rid himself of his heartache. This sets off a chain of events that will either unite the kingdom, or destroy it and its people utterly.
Disclaimer: I own nothing, just the DVDs.
Pairings: Killian/Emma, Snow/Charming, Archie/Tinkerbell, Regina/Robin Hood, Neal/Tauriel, Ruby/Victor, Rumple/Belle, Will/Anastasia and some other minor ones.
Warnings: Drama, romance, angst, character death, and all of the awesomeness that comes with a Once Upon a Time story.
Winter-Rae: I would like to thank the people who sent me messages urging me to continue with this story. Knowing that people are still interested in it really helps. So, this one is for you!
Chapter 20: Don't You Worry Child
Emma wasn't certain how she should react. But judging by the nervous and almost fearful reactions on the faces of the others, she felt her guard go up and she pulled Henry behind her. Regina followed the Saviour's actions and stood in front of him as well, allowing both of her fists to ignite with fire. She had heard of the savage power that the Jabberwocky possessed; and she'd be damned if she was going to let this creature hurt her son or her loved ones.
"Show yourself, beast!" Regina snapped. The only response from the Jabberwocky was a bone chilling laugh that seemed to lower the temperature of the very air around them.
"Can we not antagonize the invisible monster?" Emma asked, sarcasm ringing in her tone.
"I'm trying to force her to appear," Regina replied shortly, "I'd rather know where she is."
"Yeah, I got that, but I doubt she'll respond to name calling."
"I don't see you coming up with anything."
"Enough," Rumplestiltskin warned, while his stance was calm, his voice radiated caution, "We must be careful around this one." He seemed to be the most nonchalant of the group, which probably meant that her powers weren't much use against him, "She can see into minds and use your greatest fear against you."
"Hmm, I can see that my reputation precedes me," the feminine voice mused, "How very interesting that the great Rumplestiltskin would take an interest in little, old me." A pillar of swirling dark smoke suddenly appeared close to one of the windows and a very tall, very beautiful woman appeared before them. Her dark eyes observed each of them in turn, a slow smirk building on her lips.
"Nothing 'little' or 'old,' about you now is there?" Killian pointed out. This earned him an annoyed nudge from Emma and an amused smirk from the Jabberwocky. She paced in front of them, still eyeing each of them with a look of curiosity on her face. She looked like some sort of tiger stalking her next victim, enjoying every moment that they flinched under her intense stare.
Robin, who had had enough of the game, set an arrow to his bow and aimed it at her chest, "Back away, creature," he warned her. She paused in her pacing, annoyed, and placed her hands on her hips. However, she was never once concerned with Robin or his threat. She merely locked her gaze on him and the others could only watch as his eyes widened and suddenly he dropped his weapons and his hands went to his head, as if he was trying to force something out. Regina moved to his side, wrapping her arms around him as he fell to his knees.
"Make her stop," he gasped in pain, "I can feel her in my head!"
"Leave him alone!" Regina snapped, feeling nothing but rage towards this creature that was hurting the man that she loved. She approached the Jabberwocky and a powerful force left her body which pushed the Jabberwocky back, breaking her hold on Robin. He regained himself quickly and allowed David and Killian to help him back to his feet.
"You alright mate?" Killian asked.
"Yes, though I don't think I'll be trying that again."
"Thieves are usually the smart ones," the Jabberwocky pointed out, she then turned her attention back to Regina, "The evil queen then," she said thoughtfully, adding a mocking bow, "My apologies, sometimes it is necessary to remind people just what I am capable of. Fear not…well, actually fear all you like, it sustains me. But truthfully I mean no harm to any of you, this day. You have something that I want, return it to me and I shall be on my way."
"And what might that be?" David ventured. Anastasia stepped forward and motioned to the sword she wore at her hip, "She means the Vorpal blade; I took it from Charlotte when I left."
The Jabberwocky turned her eyes to her and moved towards her with calm and confident steps. Emma had never seen a woman carry herself with such power and purpose before. The very presence she possessed was unnerving. She watched as the woman held out her hand towards Anastasia, gesturing to the sword, "I will have that, now, if you please."
Anastasia paused, "No, I don't think so."
This angered the Jabberwocky, her eyes seemed to flash darkly and Anastasia visibly winced.
"Ana," Will hissed, "What are you doing? Give the thing back to her."
"No, this is a brilliant opportunity," Anastasia pointed out, as she struggled to regain her composure, "Everyone has fears, even Jafar. We could use her against him."
"I dislike being used," the Jabberwocky snapped, taking another threatening step towards Anastasia and reaching out in an attempt to take the sword by force. Killian rushed forward and grabbed the blade, quickly pointing it at the Jabberwocky's chest. This made her freeze in her steps and a look of actual fear filled her eyes.
"You'll kindly take a step back, lass," Killian requested. The Jabberwocky did as he asked but her eyes held a look of deep contempt as she watched the pirate. Killian could feel her trying to get into his head and latch onto his own dark memories, but he was ready for her as he filled his mind with every good and precious thought that he held. It was enough to frustrate her into pausing with trying to twist his fears and use them to her advantage.
"Killian Jones, I remember you well," she purred, regaining her confident posture, "You and the pirate queen took the sword in the first place, freeing me from my prison. Not exactly an intelligent move; but then again pirates have never been known for their intelligence."
"Smart enough to keep you back a few paces though," he pointed out. She sent another glare at him before continuing, "I was content to let you have it, since that meant I would have my freedom. Now, things have changed and I want it back."
"What will you do if I return it to you?" Killian asked. The Jabberwocky seemed to ponder his question for a moment; she also held Killian in her gaze and Emma felt a jab of panic, was she going to go after him as she had with Robin? This didn't seem to be her intention however, as she merely circled Killian. It was as if he was prey, and she of course, was the predator.
"I can see your fears…but they are not normally seen in pirates," she pointed out, "They are selfish beings, concerned only for themselves. But not you. You're a protector?"
"People change," Killian replied through gritted teeth.
"So it seems," she mused, "Let's see; what if you can't protect the woman you love so dearly? Or the family you have yearned for all your long and lonely years. And will you be a better father than your own, for the child that is not yet born?"
Emma felt many eyes on her in that moment. She avoided their questioning stares, keeping her eyes ahead, on Killian and the Jabberwocky. The woman paused in front of him and reached out to gently touch the Vorpal blade, "I fear things as well, pirate."
"And what do you fear?" he asked.
"A cage, that blade is my cage," she replied bitterly, "But if I were to possess it, I could rule it and therefore no longer be afraid of it. Give it to me and I will go. There is fear all over the realms for me to feast on. Since it is a constant state I never have to cause it. So I give you my word to never interfere with whatever is going on in this realm or the others."
"What's to stop you from working with our enemies?"
She scoffed, "Help foolish men seeking revenge, as if I had nothing better to do."
Killian thought on her words and then a devilish smirk, one Emma had seen many times, filled his face. The Jabberwocky seemed curious by his expression and smiled slightly.
"You are a handsome one, pirate," she pointed out, "But surely you know this?"
"I might have heard it once or twice before," he replied, "Feel free to continue with the praise."
She laughed suddenly, "You I like. Speak your mind; it seems you have a plan forming."
"I'll make you a deal," Killian offered, as much as he was unnerved by this powerful creature he could see the potential in having her owe them a favour, "You can travel between realms, yes?"
"Of course," she replied, "Is there a reason for this line of questioning?"
"We need a way to travel between the realms that won't cause harm to a woman that is with child," he explained, "If I return the blade to you, will you do this favour for us?"
The Jabberwocky was taken aback by his request. She glanced towards the others, her eyes settling on Emma and then Snow, she seemed to know that they were the women he was referring too.
"Very well Captain Hook," she purred, "You have yourself an agreement."
Killian made to hand her the sword, but pulled back at the last second, "How can we contact you? This won't be a onetime thing after all."
"Just call out for me, and I will come."
He let her take a hold of the blade; she seemed to relax and even heaved a sigh of relief, "You have my thanks for this, if that means anything to you."
"Just keep your promise," Killian told her.
Before another word could be spoken, she vanished in another swirl of smoke. Killian, who was looking rather pleased with himself wasn't expecting the disapproving stares of the some of the others. David, Tinkerbell and Anastasia glared at him with annoyance evident in their eyes.
"What makes you think she'll even keep her word?" Anastasia demanded, "You gave away the only bargaining chip that we had. She could come back here and kill us all without a second thought."
"She owes me a favour, not only did I return the blade to her but was responsible for her being freed in the first place," he replied, "If there's one thing that creatures of darkness hate, it's owing a favour to a mortal. She'll keep her promise. I have no doubt of that."
"As much as I hate to admit it, he does have a point," Tinkerbell muttered.
"So I'm supposed to trust that thing with my pregnant wife and daughter?" David asked.
"We need a safer way to go between here and the Land Without Magic," Victor said, coming to Killian's rescue, "If there is a complication with either of their pregnancies I need to catch it right away. Even if she doesn't keep her word, now that she has the sword she'll be off doing her own thing. And like Hook said, she owes us. I trust him."
A murmur of agreement seemed to go through the group; this made Killian feel better about his quick decision. Even if the Jabberwocky didn't help them, she had no quarrel with them. So in the end they actually got rid of a dangerous creature by giving her what she wanted. If she came back and tried to harm them, well he would deal with her personally.
"I'm sorry to be the only positive one here," Ruby suddenly said, sarcasm in her voice, "But isn't this a time to be celebrating? Snow and Emma are both pregnant!"
She turned and hugged her two friends in turn, offering words of congratulations.
"We were hoping to keep it quiet for now," Snow mused, "At least until we're at peace."
"Explains why you didn't volunteer," Regina pointed out, "But I am happy for the both of you."
"I'm gonna be a big brother! And a nephew!" Henry said enthusiastically. Robin and Neal shook David and Killian's hands offering their words of congratulations as well. For a few moments, they were all able to put the more serious and dangerous aspects of their lives out of their minds. It was a much needed respite, but when night fell and it was time to retreat to their bedrooms for some much needed rest, the anxiety and fear returned with full force.
Snow had her arms crossed against her chest, a clear sign of her worry, as she watched her husband. He was moving around their room, gathering up what he deemed essential for the journey that he would embark on with Robin and Killian in the morning. David could feel her eyes on him as he picked up his sword and tested the balance of it. Honestly he wasn't sure why he did it because he knew it was fine; he had used this sword more times than he cared to count and it had never failed him. The real reason for the small distraction however; was that he was hoping to avoid a disagreement with his wife.
He glanced back at her and offered her a smile which she didn't return.
"Something the matter, Snow?" he asked her.
"Maybe we should have stayed in Storybrooke," she said softly, "If we did, we wouldn't be going through all of this. You would be home and not going off to find dragons that may or may not even help us at all! Emma wouldn't have been taken, Killian and Will wouldn't have been hurt, and we wouldn't be worried about if we can even have a baby safely."
David crossed the room and placed his hands on her shoulders, gently squeezing them in the hopes of reassuring her, "We managed before, I know you're scared and so am I, but I know that we can get through this together."
She looked away from him and he could see tears shimmering in her eyes. He pulled her close and wrapped his arms around her, waiting patiently until she did the same. She clung tightly to him and he allowed it, wishing that it would be enough for her to see that he wasn't going to leave her. He wasn't going to let anything happen to their family.
That was the whole point of this task, finding enough allies so that they could better protect the ones that they loved. He hated not being by her side, but he knew that what he was doing was for the best. At least that's what he kept telling himself. There was always a small voice in the back of his mind that made him second guess everything he did however, but as a king he had to ignore it and push forward. That was what he was doing now.
"It will be fine," he said to her.
"How do you know that?"
"Because it has to be," he replied, "So that we can finally have some peace and quiet to enjoy our family, help Emma plan her wedding, and redo the nursery for the new baby."
Snow finally let a small smile appear on her face as David set his hands on her stomach, "Are you always so sure of yourself?" she asked, teasing in her tone. He grinned at her, "Not at all, but I would be a little more if my beautiful wife would kiss me."
Snow couldn't help but roll her eyes, but in the end she gave in, kissing her husband deeply.
"I love you so much," she said to him, holding his face in her hands. David returned the kiss and whispered a promise to her, "I love you too and I'll be back before you know it."
"Just stay safe, and make sure you bring Killian and Robin back with you," she replied, "Emma and Regina have had enough heartache and I wouldn't want them to go through anymore."
David had to smile at his wife's good heart, "Don't worry, I'll keep an eye on them too."
Robin sat on the edge of Roland's bed, watching his son as he slept. Some days he couldn't believe just how fast he was growing, and other times he wished he wouldn't at all. He wondered what sort of man Roland would be when he grew up, with any luck he would be a better one than him. While Robin had long ago accepted his role as a thief, he was also very proud of the code that he followed and it was the code that he that raised his son by. Hopefully Roland would make something of himself honestly, not using the tricks and other less savoury techniques that Robin himself had used.
He smiled at Roland, thinking or how much he looked like his mother, Marian. He still missed her, and still thought of her from time to time; but now he had another good woman in his life and he was thankful for her. Regina had come a long way since her days as the 'evil queen,' she was passionate and loving and he knew that one day Roland might call her 'mother.' He wondered how she would react to that.
Speaking of Regina, he could hear her moving around in their room; which was connected to his son's, no doubt she was preparing for her mission with Mulan, Tinkerbelle and Belle. It was something that he should be doing as well, so he tucked the blankets around Roland and kissed his forehead. He then crossed over to their room and lent against the doorframe taking note of how Regina was carrying herself. She was nervous, he could tell by her pacing and how she was wringing her hands together.
"Regina, love, are you alright?" he asked her, making her pause and look back at him. Robin was never prepared for the way Regina looked at him, as if he was the only man in the world. There was so much devotion and love that he felt unworthy of it all, that someone as regal as her could love someone like him; he'd never understand it.
"I'm fine, but there are too many unknowns about tomorrow," she replied, "I don't like it. Mulan is a capable fighter, Tinkerbell's magic will be helpful, Belle on the other hand…"
She trailed off and Robin could see the worry in her eyes, "She doesn't possess the skills that the three of you do?"
"She's far from powerless, but…"
"You're concerned about her?"
"She's Henry's step-grandmother, of course I'm concerned."
Robin chuckled, "One day we will have to sit down and write out how everyone is related to Henry, the lad certainly has an impressive family history. Don't worry yourself too much. Belle is stronger than anyone knows. Would you be disappointed in me if I were to tell you that I was worried about you?"
"Robin, you have nothing to worry about," she replied, a smile filling her face, "Nothing will keep me from returning to you."
How was it that such a simple statement could mean so much when it came from her? He closed the distance between them in three long strides and pulled her close, kissing her deeply. He rested his forehead against hers simply enjoying the feel of having her close to him.
"Every day, I fall more in love with you," he told her, "How is that?"
Regina wasn't sure how to respond to that question, all she knew was that she felt the same way.
"Are you angry with me?" Belle asked timidly, watching as Rumplestiltskin busied himself with something at his desk. As she moved closer she could see that he was casting some sort of enchantment over Emma's engagement ring. She arched an eyebrow, wondering just how he had gotten his hands on it and why he was placing a spell on it to begin with.
As if reading her mind, he looked up at her and offered a slight smile, "It's a protection spell," he explained as he held up the ring, "Simple but powerful. The pirate wishes for Emma and their child to be kept safe, so in return for him helping to save Henry I promised him that I would do this favour for him. And of course I am not angry with you, Belle. I can hardly stop you from doing something once you've set your mind to it, now can I?"
"Oh I somehow think that you could, but you aren't because you know how much I want to help," she pointed out with a light hearted tone.
"Ah, you know me so well."
Belle smiled and moved closer to him, wrapping her arms around his neck, "I'll be careful."
"Please do, I'm not entirely sure what I would do without you," he replied, as he placed his hands on her waist, "The world would be a dark and lonely place without you in it."
"I won't leave you alone," she promised. He smiled at her and placed a kiss on her cheek, "I'm assured then, because if there is one thing that I know it's that you always keep your promises."
Belle couldn't help but feel a surge of pride at the faith he had in her, it made her feel as if she could do anything. While she had been slightly intimidated about travelling with powerful and strong women like Regina and Mulan, knowing that he thought her to be in the same league as them gave her more confidence. She wouldn't let him down.
"Exactly," she replied, "So, finish your work and come to bed, there's no need to worry."
"As you wish," he said softly.
Neal was walking Tauriel back to her room, hand in hand, when she suddenly paused; a look of concern on her face. He stopped as well and looked back at her, watching as she thought about what she was going to say. One thing he had noticed about Tauriel was that whenever she was about to ask something important she always took her time to think about how she would word it. He could tell that she had something on her mind, as it had been there ever since David had asked them to travel with Henry, Will and Anastasia. He briefly wondered if she had a problem with their travelling companions or even their task.
"Something wrong?" he asked, "Worried about tomorrow?"
"Hmm, no, not especially," she replied, placing her attention on him, "I am confident in my skills and also the ones of those we will be travelling with. I am, however, concerned over matters that are slightly more personal. At least they are to me."
"You can tell me anything," he told her, "Maybe I can help."
The elf hesitated for a moment and then reached out with her free hand to gently touch his face, a sad smile playing on her lips. Neal couldn't help but wonder what was going through her mind when she did things such as this, it seemed to him that she was remembering something but he had never gotten up the nerve to ask her about it. She moved forward and placed a soft kiss on his cheek, but instead of moving back again she remained pressed against him. Her free hand reached for his and their fingers lightly brushed against one another.
"I enjoy being close to you," she confessed, her breath was light and cool against his skin, a good thing too since he could already feel his skin heating up from being so close to her.
"Now you're avoiding the topic," he murmured in her ear, "Please tell me what's bothering you."
She didn't pull away from him but he could feel her sigh, "Do you think it would be best for me to remain behind?" she asked, a serious tone in her voice, "Or perhaps I should travel with David's group. He is the king and surely he will need a bodyguard of some kind."
Neal pulled back so he could look her in the eye, when she tried to avoid his glance he reached out to touch her face gently, "What's with the change of heart all of a sudden?"
"I do not think that Henry will appreciate having me there," she replied, sounding somewhat embarrassed, "I believe he is…uncomfortable around me."
Neal gave her a reassuring smile, "Are you sure it's not you who is uncomfortable around him?"
Tauriel shifted her weight and crossed her arms over her chest, looking frustrated, "Things are done differently here," she pointed out, "Where I come from, a union is forever, but you and Emma are no longer together and you were never married when Henry was conceived. I do not understand this. Did you not love her enough to make her your wife?"
Neal paced the hall, trying to find the words that would best explain the situation to her. From the reading he had done about the elves of Middle Earth, he knew that they took matters such as this very seriously. The majority of elves even waited until they were married before they were ever intimate with anyone, something that had become almost unheard of in the Land Without Magic. Love and intimacy was hardly taken seriously and playing with someone's emotions and breaking their heart was considered to be a twisted game. While he and Emma had once loved each other they were never meant to be a long term thing, since they both of them were destined for someone else.
"You're right," he told her, "Things are done differently. If you had seen the world I lived in before this…I think it would break your heart."
Tauriel's eyes widened in alarm as her hand rested over her chest, "I don't understand."
"Love isn't the same over there," he explained, "It's twisted into some kind of game where people are never honest with each other. Couples fight, hurt one another, and use each other for their own satisfaction before moving on to the next relationship. It's rare to find love in any form at all, finding true and pure love; that's almost a joke."
Tauriel frowned, "You and Emma…used one another?"
"No, no, of course not," he assured her, placing his hands on her shoulders, "Emma and I were the one bright light in the dark time of our lives. We did love each other once; enough that we wanted to settle down and find a home…find our Tallahassee. That was our name for it," he added when he saw the confused look on her face, "But while we were meant to have Henry we weren't meant for each other. Emma belongs with Killian and I was made for you."
A faint blush tinted Tauriel's cheeks at the thought of Neal being made especially for her. She found it hard to believe that whatever forces at work here thought her worthy of such a gift; the gift of love. True and undeniably real, love.
"Times are difficult, but I am thankful that they somehow brought us together," she said, "I will also attempt to put aside my feelings of unease. Henry is a remarkable boy and I wish to know more about him."
"Well, this will be your chance then," Neal pointed out, "I'm sure he'd like to hear everything you could tell him about Middle Earth."
Tauriel seemed to ponder that for a few moments and then a smile broke out onto her face, "I might have a tale or two that I could tell him, my lifetime has been everything but dull."
Neal felt assured now that Tauriel's concerns had been addressed; the last thing he wanted was to drive a wedge between the two of them by ignoring something like this. She had yet to fully understand that Henry had a place in his heart for all of his family, and that family now included her. He was suddenly reminded of the fact that Tauriel's parents had been gone for many years now and maybe she wasn't used to having a family and a place that she could consider her own 'Tallahassee.'
"You know this is your home now too, right?" he asked her. She cocked her head to the side, looking slightly confused for a brief moment, but then a content look replaced it, "Yes, I know," she said, "My home is wherever you are."
Ruby frowned at Victor as he flipped through a large and rather dusty tome that he had picked up from the palace library. He had found it a few days ago while searching for books that might give him more information on how to use and maintain his bow and arrows. He had become rather adept in his new skill and he was always looking for ways to improve upon it.
While Ruby had rather hoped he would brush up on his 'how to deliver babies so that nothing bad will happen to our friends' skills, she supposed it would be for the best to not bother him about it. She knew that the reason why the book had caught his interest was that it held stories and legends that reminded him of his own world, The Land Without Colour.
"So, what exactly is in that thing?" she asked him.
"Oh you know," he replied with a shrug, "Ghosts, werewolves, vampires; all that good stuff."
"Werewolves?" she asked, her curiosity aroused, "You had werewolves back home and you never told me?"
"We had rumors and myths about werewolves," he corrected her, "I never saw one myself. Saw a mummy once, smelled terrible."
She arched an eyebrow at him and saw at once that he was teasing her, she swatted his arm playfully and smiled at him, "I honestly don't know why I put up with you," she teased.
Victor was having none of that however. He stood to his feet and wrapped her up in his arms, making her laugh and then sigh as he pulled her close for a kiss.
"Ah yes," she mused, "That's why."
"You are such a tease," he told her, "Part of your charm."
The couple kissed once again before a serious expression filled Victor's face, "Seriously though," he said, "I really need to look over this book once more. Recruiting Emma and Snow for a mission of my own wasn't exactly a lie."
"What do you mean?"
"I found something that might help us, I'm just not sure if it will be worth the risk," he explained, "So I wanted them along to give me their advice."
Worry filled Ruby's face, "I'm coming along," she insisted. Victor grinned, "I wouldn't have it any other way."
The two of them then began to pour over the tome, Ruby's mind racing at what Victor hoped to find at the old monastery the book mentioned.
Will couldn't help but shake his head as Anastasia nervously paced the floor of her room. The clicking of her heels against the stone was actually a little soothing to him. If he was to be totally honest it was because he liked it when a woman wore high heels. The heels that women wore back in Storybrooke were much more impressive than the ones here, but Anastasia had always carried herself with an elegant poise that would allow her to pull off any type of heeled shoe.
"What if I say something wrong?" she asked, bringing his attention back to her.
"Ella will forgive you."
Anastasia tossed him a doubtful look, but went on, "What if she wants me to hold the baby?"
"The baby is your niece," Will replied calmly, "Of course Ella will want you to hold her."
That answer didn't help to calm her in the least as her eyes widened, "What if I drop her?"
"Aw come on, you're a natural, you won't drop her," Will chuckled. She glared at him, "Could you please take this seriously, I haven't seen Ella face to face since she left to marry that prince of hers. And I was so horrible to her. I don't know why she even wants to bother with me now."
"Probably because you're her sister."
"Step-sister," Anastasia pointed out. This correction left Will to roll his eyes, "I don't think the specifics matter much to Ella, as far as she is concerned you're her sister and she wants you back in her life. This is a good thing for you, why are you so worried?"
"It all just seems too good to be true," Anastasia replied, crossing her arms over her chest, "I've done a lot that I am not proud of and yet I have been given a second chance. Not only by you, but by the one I hurt most. It just doesn't make sense to me."
Will crossed the room and placed his hands on her arms, squeezing them lightly, "Let it go," he said gently, "Your family wants you back, and so do I. We forgive you and we've moved on. It's time for you to do the same. Don't you think?"
Anastasia met his gaze and couldn't help but return the smile he was giving her. She stepped closer to him so that she could wrap her arms around his waist and rest her head against his chest. He was quick to respond to the embrace, hugging her tightly.
"I suppose you're right," she mused thoughtfully, "I should enjoy every second of this."
"Brilliant, no more worrying, we have work to do in the morning," he told her, taking a moment to kiss her forehead, "See you in the morning."
"Of course, goodnight my love."
Will felt his face heat up at her words, while he had agreed that he wanted to start their relationship over again he wasn't entirely sure how to go about doing that. He still loved her, he knew that much. He had missed her when she had been gone as well. But there was a part of him that was still terrified about being hurt. Still, despite his worries he knew that he had to let them go, just as he had instructed her to do about her own concerns.
"Love you too Ana."
The look on her face, the sheer joy of being accepted by him even though they shared a slightly negative history, assured him that everything was going to work out one day.
Mulan was sitting in the room that had been given to her, working on sharpening her sword. She was going over in her mind the route that she would take with Tinkerbell, Regina and Belle the following morning. Mushu was chattering away about how they should deal with Katla once they found her; that was if they found her at all. For all he knew someone else could have found her already. Mulan highly doubted that since they could have used her to cause all sorts of trouble. That seemed to assure Mushu enough that he dropped the topic, at least for the moment.
"I'm just saying," Mushu went on, "Be careful out there, don't want nothing to happen to you."
Mulan smiled and patted her friend on the head, "Don't worry so much, I'll be fine."
A knock on her door surprised her as it was already getting to be rather late and she had assumed that most of the others would already be asleep by now. Mushu climbed up onto her shoulder as she went to answer it. Surprising her further was the fact that Henry, the young prince, was at her door with an unsure expression on his face.
"Hello prince Henry," Mulan greeted, offering what she hoped was a welcoming smile.
"Just Henry please," the boy said, shifting his weight awkwardly, "Umm, I know it's late but could I talk to you for a minute?"
Mulan stepped to the side, allowing Henry to enter. He turned to face her and heaved a huge sigh, "I need to ask if you would do something for me."
Mulan arched an eyebrow, curious as to what the boy might need from her; he looked awfully distraught but seemed to be trying his best to cover it. She motioned for him to follow her to a small table close to the fireplace. Henry took a seat and rubbed his hands together nervously.
"What's troubling you?" she asked, taking the seat across from him.
"I have a really bad feeling about all of this," he admitted, "I can't sleep because of it. Something is going to happen, I just know it. Please, you have to protect my mom and the others tomorrow."
The fear in Henry's voice unnerved Mulan. She began to wonder if he knew something that they didn't. She was aware that Henry was showing special gifts of his own and with a family history like he had there was bound to be some special magic at work in his life. For all she knew he could see things that she couldn't.
"Henry, did you see or hear something?"
The boy shook his head, "Not exactly, it's just a feeling that I have. I see things sometimes, when I dream, but this is different. Mulan, I don't want anyone to get hurt because of me."
"You? Henry, none of this is your fault," Mulan replied.
"But it is, at least some of it," he insisted, "I know my family is trying to hide this from me but I know about the hearts that Jafar and the others are after. One of them is mine. So if someone gets hurt by those people it will be because they want me."
Mulan's heart ached for the poor boy, she reached out and put her hand on his shoulder, "It might be difficult for you to understand, but we are all doing what we must. Sometimes sacrifices have to be made in order to protect the greater good. If Jafar and his minions were to get the three hearts they could harm us all, so we cannot let that happen. The cost to defeat them might be high, but it will be even higher if we do nothing. Do you understand?"
Henry wiped at his eyes and nodded, "Yes, I just wish that I could protect everyone, I can't though, my magic isn't very good and I can't control it very well either."
"I swear to you," Mulan said gently, "I will protect not only your mother, but everyone else I travel with tomorrow. They will all come home safely. Can you trust me to do that for you?"
"But who will protect you?"
"No worries," Mushu spoke up, "As a guardian of Mulan's family that is my job!"
The faintest of smiles appeared on Henry's face and he stood to his feet and hugged Mulan. Mushu laughed quietly as Mulan wasn't sure how to react to the unexpected display of affection. She opted to awkwardly pat Henry on the back a few times, "Apologies," she said, "I'm not very good at…moments like this."
Henry grinned, "That's okay, and thank you Mulan."
"You are welcome Henry, try to get some rest."
Henry nodded and exited her room, leaving her alone with Mushu.
"Had no idea you were so good with kids," Mushu teased her.
Henry had to admit that he felt a little better about tomorrow now. He knew that Mulan would do her best to look out for Tinkerbell, his mom and Belle; so all he could do now was hope for the best that everything would work out.
"Seems to me, that it's very late for little princes to be wandering the hallways."
Henry jumped and spun around only to come face to face with one of the palace guards. He was tall and lanky with dark skin, oddly coloured eyes and an unnerving smirk that made Henry feel uncomfortable. He took a step backwards, trying to appear innocent, and yet he wasn't sure why he had to act like he had something to hide; this was his home after all.
"I was on my way back to my room," he replied, "What are you doing?"
"I'm a guard, I'm guarding," the man shot back, still smirking at him, "Would you like me to escort you back to your room, little prince."
While the nickname 'little prince,' had an enduring quality when Anne used it, with this man there was nothing but mocking in his tone. Henry crossed his arms over his chest and tried to make himself look as defiant as possible, "I know where my room is, thanks."
The man snickered at him, clearly not fooled by the boy's actions. He approached Henry, his steps hardly making any sound as he walked, which Henry found odd considering he was wearing armour. The man took one of Henry's hands and turned it over to study his palm. Henry tried to jerk it away but the man held it in a vice grip, making him wince in pain.
"Interesting," he mused, his voice so deep that it seemed to rumble in his chest.
"Let me go," Henry insisted.
"Your fate line…it's missing, that's quite something," he went on, ignoring Henry's words, "It means that your fate, your destiny, hasn't been decided yet. Looks like you have someone interfering with that. I wonder whose attention you've grabbed, little prince."
Henry frowned at him and jerked his hand out of his grasp, "Stay away from me!"
He then turned and ran down the hall, towards his room. The man stood in his place, the same cruel grin on his face. All around him the shadows seemed to quiver and move, until they formed a single form which stood beside him, like it was ready to give chase after the boy.
"No, not yet," the man said to it, "We have other things to attend to first."
He turned and walked in the opposite direction of Henry, whistling as he walked.
"Our friends will be very interested in this development," he mused.
Archie was sitting at his desk and watching the flickering flame of a nearby candle, completely lost in his thoughts. He had been having trouble sleeping ever since Emma's short lived capture by Jafar and his people. The main reason had been because of what had happened, or what nearly happened, to Tinkerbell. Will had told him that she had nearly been killed by Jafar and ever since then it had been eating away at him. What if something had happened? He would have been so far away from her while she was hurt, unable to do anything to help her.
He knew that he was limited in many things, especially when it came to knowledge of how to fight. He had never been one to use swords or other weapons, his mind had always been the thing that he turned to. But what good would it have been against Jafar while the sorcerer was hurting someone that he cared about?
He hadn't expected to fall so completely in love with the feisty fairy. Yet he knew that there would never be anyone else for him but her. It was a fulfilling feeling, but also a terrifying one; he hated the idea of losing her. He didn't know that a fairy's life could be taken so easily. It had made him wonder what else he didn't know about them.
So he had taken it upon himself to start reading whatever he could about fairies. Truth be told, the things that he found out bothered him a great deal. According to most texts fairies could live for hundreds of years without ever aging. Not only that but they also never fell in love because it could mean losing their wings for good, since they weren't following their purpose of becoming fairy godmothers.
All of this concerned Archie. He didn't want to lose Tinkerbell, but he also didn't want her to give up anything for him, especially if she ended up resenting him because of it. He wanted her to follow her dreams, and if being a fairy godmother was one of them then being with him could jeopardize that and he didn't want that to happen.
No one had ever told him that being in love could be so confusing.
"Archie, are you coming to bed yet?"
Tinkerbell's soft voice drifted from their bedroom, drawing his attention. He got to his feet and made his way towards it, stopping in the frame and smiling at her. She was under the covers and on her stomach, grinning brightly at him, "It is cold in here without you," she told him. He doubted that very much, but couldn't help but chuckle lightly and begin to get ready to join her.
Once next to her, she snuggled right up beside him and rested her head on his shoulder, sighing contently. His one arm was wrapped around her, and gently running up and down her arm. He tried to cover his concerns, knowing full well that she would need rest to be ready for travel in the morning, but she seemed to pick up on his anxiety. She rested her arm on his chest, "There's something bothering you, I can tell. What's the matter?"
"I've been reading," he replied.
"Hmm, I thought you liked to read," she teased, "What have you been reading?"
He hesitated before answering, "Books about fairies mostly."
"If you had any questions why not ask me?" she asked, a frown forming on her face. She had him there and when he didn't answer she pressed him, "Well?"
"I don't know, I suppose I was afraid of hearing the answers from you," he said, his voice soft and his eyes avoiding her own. Tinkerbell hated seeing Archie like this. He had such a good heart and was a very sensitive and emotional person; whatever he had found out had obviously been troubling him a great deal. She also didn't want to get into an argument with him, not before she was supposed to leave on a possibly dangerous task. So she took a deep breath to calm herself and said softly, "Will you tell me what you read?"
"Fairies don't fall in love and live for many years."
"Hmm, that's true, most don't."
"Most?" he asked, glancing at her, only to be met by her loving smile.
"I'm not your common fairy," she replied, "I do fall in love and I want to grow old with you."
"I don't want you to regret anything," he told her, sitting up in bed and holding his head in his hands. Tinkerbell sat up as well and wrapped her arms around him.
"The only thing I would regret is not being able to be with you," she said, "I know Blue said that we don't fall in love, but I don't think that any fairy has ever really tried to make it work. It's like they use becoming a fairy godmother as an excuse to avoid adding something else just as wonderful to their lives. What we have works and I'm not giving up on it or on you. I need you with me on this Archie. Please, don't leave me alone."
Archie felt her grip on him tighten and knew then that he was being foolish. He turned to face her, smiling brightly as he placed a kiss on her lips, "I'm being ridiculous aren't I?"
She grinned, "Yes, but it's alright, we're both still new to this."
"I am sorry," he said, "I didn't mean to worry you."
"It's all forgotten," she replied, "I don't want to dwell on sad thoughts anyway. We should be thinking happy thoughts for the journey tomorrow. We're going to need all the luck we can get."
"Good point and for what it's worth, I am in this with you Tink," he told her, "For as long as you'll have me."
Emma sat on her bed, resting her elbows on her knees, all the while holding her head in her hands. Her mind locked on the events that were to go on in the morning. Everyone, all of her family and friends were going to go off again on another mission of sorts. She didn't want to be negative but she couldn't help but wonder what might happen. She hoped that everyone would be alright. She knew that she would never forgive herself if something bad happened to anyone.
'I'm supposed to be the Saviour,' she thought to herself, 'Why can't I make this all stop?'
Shuffling from the next room drew her attention up and she saw Killian as he finished undressing. He offered her one of his usual smirks which she found difficult to return, that instantly told him that she was not handling the situation well. He moved to their bed and climbed in next to her, reaching out to brush some stray hair behind her ear and tipping her face so that she was looking at him. They held each other's gaze and Emma felt as if he was trying to see into her very soul. She wrapped her arms around his neck and hugged him tightly.
"Swear to me that nothing bad is going to happen to you tomorrow," she whispered to him. She knew it was stupid but she couldn't help it, even if it was a lie, she didn't care. She just wanted some sort of assurance.
"Emma…" his tone was gentle, but she could hear the concern behind it.
"Lie to me, I don't care."
He could feel her tremble in his arms and it worried him. He wished that he could banish all of her fears, but that was a magic he was certain that even the Dark One didn't possess.
"I will come back to you," he told her, "I've lived for a long time love, and I'm very good at surviving. Besides, I have people who need me now and I'm not about to disappoint them."
"I'm holding you to that," she replied, feeling better just hearing the confidence in his voice.
"Can you promise me that you will try not to worry so much?"
"No, but I can promise that if you need help I'll be there to save you."
Killian grinned and kissed her, "Well, I suppose that will have to do. Now please, enough of this depressing talk, everything will work out. I happen to be looking forward to travelling with your father again. He makes for delightful company."
Emma couldn't tell if he was teasing her or being completely serious, but she found that she didn't really care. He was trying to make her feel better and she decided to go along with it for now and try to not let the stress of the evening get to her. She lay back on the bed and laughed lightly, "Admit it, you and my dad are friends now."
"Your father is a good man, one I would proudly call my friend," he replied, "And I'll even make sure he doesn't get himself into any trouble."
"Well, as you know, saving my father's life is always worth a kiss," Emma teased.
"Is that still all your father's life is worth?" he asked, acting scandalized, "Maybe I should save your mother's life next, would that be worth more?"
She grinned and pulled him on top of her, "Shut up and kiss me, pirate."
"As you wish, princess."
The following morning saw Emma and Snow standing together in the courtyard. They had all said their 'see you laters,' their 'good lucks,' and of course their 'I love yous,' but now it was time to see their family off. The separate teams had finished their final preparations and now Rumplestiltskin was giving them some last minute advice before they were all sent on their way.
"I can use my magic to get all of you as close as possible to where the dragons dwell," Rumple explained, "However, there are protective wards all around, set up by each of the creatures in order to protect their homes from intruders. I cannot break them, but I can set you just outside of them, from there you will have to find a way in. I don't expect it to be too difficult; dragons aren't exactly known for their intelligence."
"I heard that!" Mushu barked and then glanced at Mulan, "If I was my real size right now."
"Calm down Mushu," she said softly, "That is the Dark One after all."
"Former Dark One," Belle corrected, "He's changed."
Rumplestiltskin smiled at her and went on, "As I said, I don't expect too much difficulty. Now, I do hope that everyone ready."
Henry glanced at Emma and Snow and waved to them.
"See you soon," he called out.
"Be careful," Emma said to him, "Make sure Will doesn't get into any trouble."
"Me?" Will asked innocently, "I'm always careful."
Henry looked up at him and grinned, he was glad that Will had joined their family. He was like an older brother, a very cool older brother. Henry turned back to wave to his mother and grandmother once again but froze.
Standing behind them was the creepy guard who had bothered him the night before. He sneered at Henry and gave him and mocking bow. Henry was about to call out to Rumplestiltskin to stop the transportation spell so that he could warn them, but he never had a chance. His grandfather waved his hands, there was a flash of light and suddenly he and the others were in another place.
"Wait!" he yelled, he took in their surroundings and then ran to his dad, "We have to go back!"
"Henry, what's wrong?" Neal asked, placing his hands on his son's shoulders.
"That guard, behind mom and Grams, there's something wrong with him!" Henry tried to explain, "I saw him last night and he kept on saying really weird things to me."
"Like what?" Will asked him. Henry had to bite his tongue to keep from saying anything. The last thing he wanted was for all of them to know that someone was interfering with his fate or his destiny…whatever that even meant. Maybe he was overreacting. He knew that his mom and his grandmother were capable of taking care of themselves, but that guard had unnerved him right to his very core. He shook his head and remained silent.
"Give us a minute," Neal said to the others. Once they were out of earshot he looked over his son, "Henry, is there something you want to tell me?"
"It's to do with my magic," Henry blurted out. He expected his dad to be angry but Neal merely nodded with a thoughtful expression on his face, "Okay, keep going."
"Someone has been watching me too," he went on, "When I dream I see him and that guard seems to know something about it too. I don't know what's going on and I feel like something bad is going to happen out here to someone."
Neal heaved a sigh, not entirely sure how he should handle this. He and Emma had discussed Henry's growing gifts when he started to notice that Henry was practising with Tinkerbell and occasionally with Regina. While he would always have his own reservations when it came to magic he didn't want his son to think that he was scared of him because he could use it. But now, knowing that someone was after Henry because of his gifts, it worried him even more.
"I don't know what to tell you Henry," he replied, "All I know is that me, your mom and the rest of the family won't let anything happen to you. We all look after each other. Your mom and Snow are strong; I'm willing to bet that guard doesn't even realize who he is dealing with. If you still want to go back we can, but we'll have to split up because we still have a job to do here."
This time it was Henry's turn to sigh since he had no idea what they should do. He glanced towards Tauriel, Will and Anastasia; all of them waiting for him and Neal. He thought back to Mulan's advice from last night as well. Maybe this whole situation was out of his hands and all he could do was make a choice based on what he could influence.
"We should stay," he said, "We have work to do here, like you said."
Neal nodded and then they returned to their group.
"Alright there mate?" Will asked Henry, who nodded, "Yeah, just worried."
"We all are Henry," Tauriel assured him. Her words comforted him, knowing that someone as old and wise as Tauriel was worried, made him feel like it was okay.
"I can use my magic to try and send them a message," Anastasia added, "If that will make you feel better."
Henry nodded, "Yes please."
Anastasia went to work, retrieving a quill, some parchment and a small ink pot from her traveling satchel. Will smirked at her, "Ready for everything, aren't ya?"
"I try to be," she replied, winking at him. She wrote out a quick message to Emma and Snow, warning them about the suspicious guard, and to watch their backs. She then sealed it shut, saying that it would only open for one of the two women. Then, using a similar spell that Rumplestiltskin has used, she sent it back to the palace.
"I'd send us all to warn them ourselves, but I'm afraid my magic isn't nearly as powerful as your father's," she said apologetically to Neal.
"You did what you could, that's the main thing," he replied, then, gesturing to the obstacle behind them he added, "I'm guessing that our dragon is somewhere in this forest?"
Unfortunately for them, this particular forest was rather large and very dark.
"The little dragon said that this one likes children," Tauriel pointed out, "We should find any nearby villages. Perhaps they can tell us more."
"There's one not too far from here," Anastasia reported, "I used to visit it when my mother became too unbearable to tolerate."
"I remember the one," Will mused, "Well, I remember the tavern anyway."
"You should, it's where we met after all," Anastasia said, grinning playfully at him. Will rubbed the back of his head sheepishly, while Neal shook his head in an amused fashion.
"Let's just go," he said, motioning for them to move along.
The second the groups departed Victor and Ruby hurried towards Snow and Emma, Victor carrying the book they had been studying in his arms.
"Snow!" Ruby called, "You have to see this."
"What is it?"
Victor held open the book for them, "Something that I think could help us, a lot."
Emma scanned the pages and her eyes widened in surprise, "A vampire? Seriously?"
"I thought they didn't exist here," Snow said.
"They don't, well they didn't," Victor reported, "They mainly lived in my world. This book was written by an old vampire hunter, a man named Abraham Van Helsing. It seems that some vampires managed to escape to other worlds. That's why you hear stories about them all over. The one trapped here is supposed to be especially powerful."
"What makes you think he'd help us?" Snow asked, "You can't trust vampires."
"We need resources," Victor pointed out, "He could be a useful one, if not then we walk away."
"So we're going to have a chat with a vampire?" Emma asked disbelief in her tone.
"Looks that way," Snow said with a sigh, "Alright Victor you planned this, so we'll follow you."
Victor nodded and hurried towards the stable to have a carriage prepared. Ruby gave Snow a grateful smile before following after him. Emma crossed her arms over her chest, "It's a good thing that Dad and Killian are gone," she pointed out, "There's no way they'd let anyone do something this crazy."
"I agree," Snow replied, "Which is why we are going to be smart about this and take every single precaution that we have to."
"Right, let's go get ready then."
Winter-Rae: I am so sorry this update took so long. I hope this was an enjoyable chapter for everyone. Please let me know what you thought. Cheers!