Charming kisses her goodbye, his tears hot on her cheeks. "I'll find you," he vows, but he's bleeding and unsteady. He's leaning on her as much as she is him and Snow feels fear snaking its way through her, cold and quelling in a way it hasn't been in years. This was supposed to be their victory. This was supposed to be their happy ever after.
She's too scared to be angry and that scares her all the more.
"I will," he says, forcing himself upright. The wardrobe is right in front of them and Snow can hear the sound of swords clashing in the hall just outside. The Queen and her men. She looks to the door and Charming's fingers curl around her chin, drawing her eyes back to his. "I will."
Snow makes herself laugh, trying to sound confident. She know she's failing when she says, "I think I will find you."
Someone bangs on the door, loud and furious. They're out of time. Still, Charming presses his forehead against hers and says, quiet. "It is technically your turn."
Her body seizes with pain, a contraction sweeping through her, and its too long before she says, "You keep score?"
"Have to," he laughs out, crying as he does, "You keep winning."
She's supposed to say something smart and snappy, joking with him to the last, but the baby is coming and the Queen is at the door and it's never, ever enough time.
"Go," he says, pulling back. His sword shakes as he raises it, but Charming is smiling as he reaches past her to open the wardrobe's door. "I'll buy you some time."
Snow closes her eyes as she sits back into the wardrobe, her body protesting every bit of the movement.
The door slams shut and white light flares against her closed lids. When it fades enough that she can open her eyes, a cold breeze pushes against her cheeks. She's outdoors.
A forest not unlike her shelter of old greets her when she does look. So does a familiar face.
He's staring at her, fear pinching his little face, and Snow realizes then the source of the look that had passed between the Blue Fairy and Geppetto. "He lied."
Pinocchio's fear turns to panic and he darts forward. "He didn't mean to, but he was afraid. The Fairy--oh please, your highness, don't turn me back. Father--" he breaks off when Snow cries out. "Princess?"
"The baby," Snow manages. She pushes at the tree, desperate to get out. Despite his fear, Pinocchio darts forward and helps. He's too small to be of much use, but Snow finds herself clinging to his hand anyway. She looks at him, imagining her baby in his place, and she can't blame Geppetto. She can't.
Pinocchio pats at her face, his little fingers mercifully cool to the touch and she tries to smile.
Twenty-eight years. At least someone will know.
"I promised," he says, when she can breath again. "I promised Father I would help. I'll tell her all the stories."
Snow manages to smile. "Yes," she says, leaning her head against his. "You will."
He hovers anxiously, watching as she tries to stand. "Are you all right?"
"The baby is coming," Snow says, doing her best to ignore the pain. "I'll need help. This isn't any place to have a baby." She lays a hand on his shoulder. "Have you looked around?"
"Uh huh," he nods. "There's a path and, I think, a road. It has some strange stone on it and their carriages--" he looks mystified as he says, "There are no horses pulling them and there was a great metal beast that flew through the air."
A world without magic. How would the people cope?
Snow nods. "Okay, well, we'll start with the road." They need to find someone to help before the baby comes. She sets her jaw against the pain and lets go of Pinocchio's shoulder in favor of taking his hand. He curls his fingers around hers and beams a trusting smile at her. She wishes Charming were here, wishes it with everything she has, but she can't imagine condemning this boy to the Queen's curse either.
They can do this. She has to do this.
She looks at Pinocchio. "Come on," she says. "We're running out of time." And they have a lot to do and only twenty-eight years to do it in.
Snow smiles wry, feeling her body tense once more. Twenty-eight years, providing she can get them through the next few hours.
"Hang on, Emma," she murmurs, laying free hand over her child. "Just a little longer and then everything will be fine."
Just a little while longer.
She looks at the sky as bright and blue as the skies of home.
"I'll find you. I'll always find you."