Once Upon a Time, there was an enchanted forest with all the classic characters we know- or think we know. One day, the found themselves trapped in a place where all their happy endings were stolen: our world. This is how it happened…
Prince Charming rode through the lone pathway that went through the lake on the back of his horse, his companion trailing not too far behind. The road was indeed dangerous, and every corner for his entire life up to this point had been a challenge, but he knew he could not stop. Everything he knew awaited on the other side, and he was far too determined to turn back now.
His horse, Shadowfax, began to neigh at the smell of the dark magic that lay on the shore they had arrived on, and his friend's horse, Epona, was doing the same thing. Link calmed her down quickly, but Charming had no such luck, he merely made the king of all horses push forward. But when he arrived, he found it was already too late.
Gathered around a glass coffin were the seven dwarves, all crying as if the only one who had ever cared for them had died, which is exactly what happened.
Charming quickly dismounted his horse and ran to the casket, and there she lay. Trapped in eternal slumber she was. Skin white as snow, hair black as night, and lips red as blood, Snow White somehow managed to capture the beauty of the living while alive, and capture the beauty of passing in death. But her passing was something Charming could not accept.
"Open it," he begged the leader of the dwarves, Grumpy.
"It's too late."
"I just need to say goodbye!" Charming protested. Hesitantly, Grump removed the top of the coffin and exposed Snow White to the fresh air, air Charming believed she would never breathe again.
And with water streaming down his cheeks, he lowered his head to hers, and laid down his lips. A final kiss for his princess.
But this was a world where true love conquers all, and true loves kiss may break any curse. Gasping for breath, Snow White was awakened, and began to laugh and cry at once at the sight of her Prince Charming.
"You came back," she said happily.
"Oh course I did," he assured her. "I will always find you."
Months passed by, and so much had happened, but it all lead to the moment of their wedding. King and queen would rule over a new age of peace and prosperity, and the whole kingdom had gathered to celebrate the marriage of Snow White and Prince Charming.
And then she arrived.
As the two took their final vows, from down the hallway, she did appear, dressed in all black and carrying the essence of chaos with her, the Evil Queen had arrived.
"Sorry I'm late," she said sarcastically. "I have to drop off my wedding gift."
The crowd stood in silence and stared as Snow yelled "We don't want anything from you!"
"Oh, but it is a special gift. I give you this happy day," said Queen Regina with distaste. "Because soon, everything you love, everything all of you love, will be ripped away from you. That I can assure you."
Charming's best man, Link, brandished his blade and charged at the Queen, but it was too late. She had disappeared into a pillar of black smoke, leaving the wedding hall wondering what she was planning, and what she would take from them.
In another place, another time, a woman sat alone in her apartment. She'd just come back from work, and had made herself at home here in Boston. But she knew that she'd likely move away next month, as there was no point in staying. Her job as a bail bonds woman could be in any state, so why stay somewhere she'd hated. And somewhere where she'd known no one.
Taking out the doggy bag she carried, emptied it and laid the cupcake within on the table, before lighting a candle and placing it on top. Sadly, she blew it out, as a celebration for making it through twenty eight years of this life. That's when she heard the doorbell.
Reaching the door, she looked out the peephole and saw a young boy the age of ten standing there. Opening the door, he was the first to speak.
"Emma Swan?" he asked.
"I'm Henry. Ten years ago, did you give a child away for adoption?"
Her heart shot up to her throat. "Yeah…"
"That's me. I'm your son."
Of course, we all know how this story proceeded. Emma Swan brought her son Henry Mills back to the town of Storybrooke, Maine, where she began her search for his worried mother. Along the way, he explained to Emma a storybook he'd been carrying around entitled "Once Upon a Time." He explained that every story in this book was true, and Emma herself was a character in it.
"So, where do you live again, kid?"
"417, Not Tell You St."
Emma abruptly halted the car and made him get out. "Alright kid, what's the deal?"
"My name's not kid, it's Henry."
"Alright, Henry, what's so bad about this place?"
"It's my mom. She's evil."
Emma knelt down to gain eye level with Henry. "Look kid, your mother is obviously worried sick, and I really need to get back. So please, can you just tell me where you live so she doesn't pop a gasket? It's late, it's already-" Emma looked to the large town clock tower nearby above the closed down library, which read "8:15."
"8:15?" she questioned.
"That clock's been broken since I can remember," Henry assured her.
From down the street, a door closed behind the two people leaving the building. Dr. Archie Hopper and his patient, Sophie Wynne. Archie was around his late 30s or early 40s, but Sophie had exceeded the age of 85. She knelt on her cane as she thanked Dr. Hopper before hobbling off back to her house. Archie spotted two figures outside of a yellow car, and he took the leash that held his dalmatian and approached the two.
"Henry?" asked the therapist. Henry and Emma turned around to greet the balding man in funny glasses when he arrived.
"Archie, hey," greeted Henry.
"Henry, your mother is worried sick, and you missed our session earlier today."
"Oh yeah, I was… um…"
"Who's this?" he asked when he took notice of the blonde woman next to him.
"She's my birth mom."
Archie wasn't sure how to feel. Obviously he was glad Henry had the chance at finding closure with his past, but this would obviously upset Regina.
But Archie chose to be glad over worried and shook Emma's hand as they properly greeted each other.
"Hey," began Emma, "do you know where he lives?" she asked as she gestured towards Henry.
"Oh yeah, the mayor's house is the biggest one on Anderson Street." He gave them directions and said his goodbye before leaving with his dog Pongo.
"The mayor's house? Your mom is the mayor?"
"She's the Evil Queen."
"Right, and your therapist?
"Right, I thought I saw your nose grow back there."
"I'm not Pinocchio," he said as he entered the car.
"Right, because that would be crazy."
In an enormous inn, famous for its hot springs, there was the Evil Queen on a business meeting. She had stopped by the owner's office, hoping to strike some sort of deal with her. Yubaba was a witch with a head to body ratio that exceeded all others, with her hair in a bun and a nose she could poke you with from a foot away, she seemed more like a monster that the queen of the bathhouse. And it was here where the Queen was sitting next to the fireplace in discussion.
"So, to what reason do I have the pleasure of you being my guest?" asked the old witch.
"I've come for a little business transaction. I require a spell."
"What is it? Do you need to enchant a pumpkin this time? Because that putrid Fairy God Mother stole that one from me."
"No, I need the curse."
"The pig one?"
"You know which curse I refer to."
Yubaba laughed with such ferocity that it had awoke the baby in the next room. The witch ran to the door in an attempt to calm him down- "Here baby! Mommy's here!" but the infant smashed its gigantic foot through the door, kicking Yubaba right in the face. Oddly enough, this seemed to relax him, and it halted its cries for now.
"Honestly woman, I gave you the sleeping curse, isn't that enough?"
"Well, I didn't expect true love's kiss to break it."
"Unfortunately, true love's kiss can break any spell."
"Then I'll just take the curse from you. Nothing can break it, not even twoo wove's kiss."
Yubaba started her cackle again before she remembered the events of a few moments ago, and quietly conjured a ball of energy into her hands.
Regina took the flames from the fireplace and shot them at Yubaba. She ducked out of the way, and threw her spell at the Queen. Regina quickly used her powers to throw the chair she was just sitting in as a counter, shattering the wood with a loud crack.
The loudness of shattering wood awoke the baby, giving Regina an idea. She took the remaining flames from the fireplace and missed Yubaba by at least five feet, hitting the door to the baby's room.
"NOOO!" screamed Yubaba, as she tried using her spells to put out the fire, but Regina used dark magic to enhance its burning potential. While the bathhouse owner was distracted, the Evil Queen went through her desk and found the small scroll that contained the spell.
"YOU HAVE THE CURSE! NOW PUT IT OUT!" pleaded the old witch, and with the wave of her hand, Regina extinguished the flame specific to her. She then laughed again before disappearing into her signature black smoke.
Preparations were being made for the Queen's inevitable attack. The Blue Fairy had made a promise to find three ingredients to ensure the survival of a messiah, prophesized by Rumplestiltskin. First, enchanted wood from a mystical tree. Second, Gepetto and Pinocchio to fashion it into a wardrobe. Third, someone who could enhance its enchantment so it could travel to a world without magic. The day arrived when the queen attacked, and all the land was covered in black smoke, that ripped everyone from that world, all but a baby named Emma, who had successfully escaped through the wardrobe.
Emma returned Henry home to his worrying mother, and he ran into the room of their large home, while crying that he had found his real mom. Henry's mother, Regina mills, invited Emma Swan into her home to discuss the events of the day over homemade apple cider.
"I just don't know what I'm doing wrong," said Henry's adopted mother to his birth one. "It's hard, running a town and being a mother, and sometimes I think I'm paying too much attention to one rather than the other."
"I'm sure you're a great mom," Emma reassured her. "He's just got some issues of his own, like his whole fairy tale thing."
"You know, his weird little theory that everyone in the town is a fairy tale character."
Regina sat there stunned for a moment, then the two had one more glass of cider before she escorted Emma out of the house.
Emma was driving out of Storybrooke, but she looked to the car's passenger seat only to see that Henry had left his book in the car. She looked back to the road, where there were to things. The "Leaving Storybrooke," sign, and a wolf on the road. Emma veered her car, but she crashed into the town sign before falling unconscious.
She awoke the next morning to discover that she was in jail. She looked around her to see that that there was a man with a handsome beard and beautiful features. The man, judging by his uniform, was the town sheriff, who seemed to be arguing with a person in the cell next to hers.
"Please don't make excuses, Edward. It'll just make it harder for you."
"Don't tell me what to do," protested a somewhat high-pitched voice. That was when the sheriff noticed Emma had awoken.
"Ah, you're the woman who broke our sign. DUI, I'm guessing?"
"I wasn't drunk. There was a wolf in the road."
The sheriff (who's badge read "Sheriff Graham Humbert") laughed at this. "Yeah, because there're plenty of wolves in these parts."
That's when Regina entered the room again. And of course, there's no point in describing a story that's been told in the same exact way. They find Henry with the help of Snow White, who in this world is known as Mary Margaret Blanchard, and of course, Emma chooses to stay in town to see that Henry's life becomes slightly better.
This is where the true variations come in.