She doesn't want to go.
As she looks at them all starting back at her—faces and people she's come to care about over the past few months, fairytales more surreal for their reality than they ever were in her childhood books and daydreams—she wants to dig her heels in and stay. With them.
She wants to forget about being a hero. She wants to reclaim the life she lost when she was put in that wardrobe twenty-eight years ago. She loves them. Yes, she knows that they were always what she'd searched for. They are the reason she made her heart a fortress impenetrable to hope; but they are the reason why she tore it down again, brick by brick, hurt by hurt, her hands a raw, bloody testament.
She did it all for them as much for herself. So why does being the savior keep taking so much away from her, again and again?
She doesn't want to go, she mourns, eyes flicking desperately across each of their faces. But it's so hard to see them now with all this blurriness and wetness getting in the way. How can she remember them if she can't even see them? No—
There will be no memories of them. This is the end. These nondescript shapes with their meaning already stolen.
It isn't fair.
And for once, she isn't afraid to cry because she feels doubly like a lost girl, untethered from the family and hope she'd only just found, drowning in the threat of oblivion. A whirlwind is sucking her away to a place where she will neither be able to remember or capable to forget. This is worse, this knowledge of loss, so much worse, than all those years where she only wondered.
The sob barely hitches in her throat before her mother—no…no…Snow White, the dark-haired, preternatural beauty, takes the step forward that her own body cannot initiate, heartbroken as she is. Woolen hands on her cheeks, a gentle kiss on the head, and all the loving tenderness in identical green eyes that was yearned for for her entire childhood.
In that moment, she knows—she knows—that she is loved. (How could she have ever doubted before?) She can sacrifice this for her son because they...he...will fight for her.
It's enough to make her brave, and it's the only reason she can step away, turning her back on them all and rush into the car, her son by her side. The engine turns over smoothly, which fills her with relief and sadness at the same time, and as she puts her seatbelt on, she sees him look behind them. She wishes she could, but her courage will only hold for so long.
Pushing down the pedal, she steers them away. Away. Over the line where memories are stolen. Past the sign where it all began and ended.
Glancing over at him, she smiles at the way the sunlight turns his hair dark red, enjoying their favorite weekend drive, away from the chaos of the city, and wonders what it was that he had been staring back at.