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Truth and Dare

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“Come on, sing it.”

“I don’t want to sing it.”

“It’s a classic.”

“It’s not.”

“’S your loss.”

Anastasia Tremaine closed her eyes and sucked in her breath and, not for the first time, wondered if her past sins were really so bad that this was the penance she was forced to serve to make up for them. Her date this fine Christmas Eve was someone she had at one time (a long, long time ago) thought would be a possible match for her- Keith, former Sheriff of Nottingham. They were both originally from Sherwood, they were both a bit morally ambiguous without being downright villainous (at least not anymore), and they both looked dead sexy in leather pants. Unfortunately, that was where the similarities ended. This was their third date, and though she knew Keith expected to be unwrapping her under his tree later tonight, Anastasia was sure she was going to be walking home alone. The fact that his idea of a good date was singing along to Christmas carols with the lads rather than talking to- or even looking at- her was an indication of how disastrously it was going; he hadn’t even brought her a present- not even a silly trinket! Anastasia looked up at his chiseled jaw and sighed. It truly was unfortunate that she couldn’t wrap her head around taking him to bed. He really was pretty good looking, and it had been a very long time since she’d been with anyone at all.

“I’m headin’ over to the bar,” Ana shouted to her date, her Sherwood accent much more noticeable since she was surrounded by it, and she stood without him even acting like he’d heard her or noticed her change of position. He probably hadn’t. The classic he’d wanted her to sing along with was The Pogues’ “Fairytale of New York” and Storybrooke’s own version of the drunk tank was sloshing its steins back and forth as it warbled about scumbags and maggots. Oh, how the mighty have fallen, Ana thought as she made her way to the bar, falling into a mood that was growing blacker by the minute.

She ordered a shot of Jameson at the bar, and on her way back to her table she stopped at the jukebox and plopped in a quarter. After some careful consideration she made her choice (something a bit more upbeat, for the love of humanity), and a gentle roar of applause faded in. She wasn't exactly sure what year it was supposed to be here in Storybrooke (did anyone, really?), but Springsteen was still the Boss, right? Now this was a classic; she had chosen his classic version of "Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town."

With her Christmas spirit somewhat lifted, Anastasia turned from the jukebox to make her way back to her table, determined to try and salvage her date.

And turned directly into someone's chest.

"Oh, shit! I am so sorry!" she cried as she immediately crouched to pick up the man’s fallen glass and try to mop up the spilled alcohol with a napkin.

"No worries."

Oh, shit. Please don't be... But it was. Of course it was. Ana looked up into Will Scarlet’s big brown eyes as he crouched down to help her collect the glass. She held out the mug to him, and he took it, standing as he did so.

"I'm sorry." She gave him a little nod which he returned, and then with a final check that she had done all she could to help the situation, Anastasia returned to her table.

For once she was glad for her date not to be paying attention to her as she sat back down, her hands folded in front of her. Will had had a new girl with him. The heat flushed red in Anastasia's face and she felt stupid, useless, unwanted tears form behind her eyes. Of course she had seen the new girl. It wasn't bad enough that she'd humiliated herself in front of Will, but she'd had to go and do it in front of his new... ugh. "She's not even a main character!" Anastasia spat as quietly as possible to no one in particular, hot, angry tears welling and threatening to spill over. "Who the hell is she? No one knows because she's just filler. She's some princess' maid or something. She's common." At her side Keith was standing, shouting along to, “Saaaaaaaaaanta Claus is comin’ to town,” paying absolutely no attention to her, probably still thinking that he would be getting lucky that night. All of a sudden it was too much for Anastasia to bear. It was Christmas, she was on a date with someone who didn’t even know she was there, paying for her own drinks, in the same place as the man who had most recently broken her heart- the only man who had ever broken her heart. Nope, she thought with a sudden clarity. No need to stay here.

Again, Ana stood. Keith barely looked at her until she announced she was leaving.

“But it’s still early! I’m not ready to leave yet!”

“Oh, don’t worry, Keith,” Ana reassured him. “You don’t have to leave. I’m going home alone. Don’t call me anymore.” He gaped after her for a moment, and she was halfway out of the bar before she heard a half-hearted, “bitch,” behind her, but it didn’t surprise or bother her. She was used to that kind of treatment from the single guys in Storybrooke- most of them fell somewhere on the villainy scale. It was no coincidence that they were still single.

Normally the walk home was a good time to clear her head. It was dark- her favorite time of day- and since everything in Storybrooke was already closed it was pretty peaceful and quiet with only the sound of the ocean crashing in the background. It was a good time to think.

But she didn't want to think tonight. She especially didn't want to think about him. She had thought that subject was done and dusted and then he just had to go and show up with a new girl right at the exact moment that she had just come to realize her newest maybe relationship was definitely not going to work out and she was probably going to remain single for a very long time! How utterly and inexorably rude! Ana snarled and scowled up at the leaden sky; that was something else to be upset about, right there. Christmas Eve and there still wasn't any snow. Days and days of gray skies and heavy, pregnant clouds and cold and wind, but no snow. Even with Christmas lights gleaming Storybrooke looked gloomy and wrong. Ana's walk took on an almost tromping gait as she stewed over the wrongs that had been done her- both emotionally and meteorologically, but she stopped walking and straightened up when she heard a voice from her memory. You're having a tantrum. It was Cora's voice, she realized. She stood still a moment and took a deep breath. That's right, Cora told her. If you’re upset about how common your life has become, then the answer is simply to not be common anymore. Anastasia may not have a crown in this realm, but that didn't mean she had to act like it. Maybe that silly White Rabbit would show up again one of these days and she’d be able to head back to Wonderland- she couldn’t devolve back into Ana of Sherwood Forest, now could she? Anastasia imagined her precious crown on her head. She could almost feel its weight. That was better. It was oh, so hard to stoop or bend with all those rubies balanced on your head.

A few more deep breaths had her settled, and she continued on her walk, now ready for the night's quiet. She could think now. So what was she really upset about? That Will Scarlet still existed? Yes, to a point. She supposed that feeling might never go away, but when she felt that way she knew she was really upset at herself. The journey from Wonderland to Storybrooke had been a long and convoluted one, and in the very rare moments when she allowed herself to be completely and totally honest she knew she'd had doubts about their second relationship almost from the very beginning. Without question, the Will Scarlet who had come back to her in Wonderland was the same Will Scarlet who'd first journeyed there with her all those years before. His integrity had never been the question. But even when she'd been dreaming the scheme to win him back with Jafar, Ana had known that she was different. She wasn't content with simplicity or a quiet life in the forest. She didn't want anything easy or relaxed. She didn't want to be an easy-going, charming little lady. Anastasia liked the strong and independent woman she had grown to be as the Red Queen. Of course, she could part with the facets of her personality she had adopted that were more mercenary and actually kind of a little bit evil, but she shouldn't have had to give up who she had become just to fit his idea of what a good woman was.

But that was Will had always wanted, after all. Oh, of course he hadn't said that- had said the exact opposite, actually- but that's what all of their fights had boiled down to. She was being too forceful or too willful or wanting something that Will didn't agree with, so it must be the wrong thing. At first she'd gone along with most of his requests. He had, after all, come back to her and waged war against an evil sorcerer on her behalf (Ana never reminded him that the only part of his fight against Jafar that had been on her behalf had been a single kiss). But Anastasia found that she could only stomach so much of the goody-goody act, and besides the fighting that had become a near daily occurrence, Ana reached another sad conclusion. She was bored by Will. By the time he'd convinced her to come with him to Storybrooke they'd been hanging on by a thread, and if she was really being honest, the way he'd described the technology and the fashion of the time had intrigued her more than any of his talk of a land of heroes and other fairy tale characters; it had only been a matter of time before something happened to break them apart permanently. Truth be told, they'd been fractured long before the affair. It had been no fault of the librarian, but Anastasia was not one to allow herself to be seen as a woman easily scorned. She wondered if Belle had ever figured out it had been her who'd put the snakes in the library's after-hours book drop. Probably. The girl was fairly smart, after all.

So Will was with another new girl now. So what? Ana definitely didn't want him back, so why did she let the fact rattle her so much? Because he's got someone and you're alone. She heaved a deep sigh as she shoved her hands deeper into her coat pockets. Yes, that was probably it. And the girl was such a downgrade! He'd had a Queen! A real, literal Queen, and he'd traded that in for some skinny little thing who somehow looked like a cross between a mouse and a bat. And she'd been wearing khakis- seriously, khakis. To a bar. She looked like Will had ordered her from the "Girl You Bring Home To Mother" catalog.

Still, it sucked to be alone at Christmas. It hurt her more than she liked to admit that she was all alone at the holiday. There was a lot of stuff she didn't like in Storybrooke- like most of it- but she really did like Christmas, and she really was still hurting from Will's abrupt departure from her life, even if it had been over a year ago.

Anastasia's little house came into view fairly quickly; one of the reasons she didn't mind the walk most nights was its proximity to downtown. She had really lucked out when it came to real estate, since the market was so hit or miss in Storybrooke. It was tiny- only one bedroom, one bathroom, a miniscule kitchen, and a combination living/dining room- but what it lacked in space it made up for in views. The front had its own little yard complete with a little white picket fence, and the back had a postage-stamp-sized yard on a cliff overlooking the ocean. The neighboring cottages were similar, though a little larger, having been added on to since they were first built, and all of the homes on the street were separated by an additional empty lot. It was perfect for someone whose view of the general public was as unfavorable as Ana's was.

After turning on the lights (including the little table top Christmas tree she’d bought for herself) and taking off her coat, Ana plopped down on the couch and flipped on the television, tired and frustrated. There was bound to be some silly Christmas movie or special on that she could zone out in front of before she got ready for bed. Some channel surfing produced a rerun of the Christmas episode of Pretty Little Liars (a guilty pleasure Ana felt absolutely no guilt in watching), and she felt herself relax into the cozy corner of the couch, hugging a pillow to herself. Although the episode on the television was progressing, Ana's eyes were drawn more and more to the tiny lights on her Christmas tree.

It was skinny, her little tree, and it was lit up entirely in red lights. She had wanted a red tree like she'd seen on the internet, but she hadn't been able to find one anywhere in Storybrooke. She hadn't been able to find any artificial trees at all, for that matter. But she'd made due by choosing this little table tree and buying the smallest strand of red lights she could find- a majority of them still trailed off the end, across the table, and down to the plug. Looking at it now she supposed it really was too small for lights, but she wouldn't change it. It just wasn't Christmas without a lit-up Christmas tree. She had wanted to decorate more but had never gotten around to it. Maybe her own brain had asked what's the use? and kept her from going overboard. Plus, she thought a little glumly, it's hard to be cheery when there's no one to share it with.

And it wasn't like the single thing was going to be changing any time soon. The dating scene in Storybrooke was absolutely not promising. Keith had had potential, but like so many of the men she’d been on dates with, he’d been too interested in what was in between her legs and not interested enough in what was in between her ears. She doubted if, even after three dates, he could even tell what color her eyes were. And it had been a bad idea to date someone from Sherwood. If she was going to look back fondly on old times, Sherwood was not the venue for that.

There was someone who understood you once, her brain whispered, and Anastasia tried to clamp down on that train of thought almost as soon as the words formed. Too late. Visions of warm brown eyes ran through her mind. Unlike Will's these brown eyes were demanding and intense. Jafar's eyes had challenged her, sometimes threatened her. The more she tried not to think of him, the more the memories came. She could feel his hands even now, dried and roughened by his work with potions, taking her hands, holding her chin to make her look him straight in the face, running over her body and holding her just below her hips. Plunging a knife into your back.

Ana growled and lay down on the couch, staring up at the ceiling. This is where all memories and reminiscences of Jafar eventually ended up. They had to. Despite any redeeming qualities or goodness there might have been (way far down in his soul), the simple fact remained that he had killed her. Somehow the weak protestations of But he brought you back to life! didn't hold a whole lot of water- at least when she was thinking clearly. Sometimes when she'd had a few drinks she allowed her thoughts to wander past that little death incident in her past and into some more dangerous territory. Much more pleasurable, but much, much more dangerous territory. Her eyes closed and blocked out the red glow from the Christmas tree, and suddenly she was back there again.

*** His eyes were big and warm, and right now they were so deep and dark that their intentions were completely unmistakable. For just a moment she could have sworn they'd lit up bright white, but that was silly and impossible. His eyes were wonderful, happy. Loving. He walked toward her, his arms extended, and waited for her bridge the final gap between them.

“You do love me, don’t you Anastasia?” Her face split into a grin at the question. Of course she did; how could he even ask that? But one more look at those big, dark eyes told her that he was, indeed, questioning it, and Ana’s grin softened into a sweet, reassuring smile. She took a small step forward, placing her hand on his heart and looking up at him. Just the feeling of him at this proximity, the smell and the heat, everything about it felt right. Of course she loved Jafar. How could she not?

Still, she hadn’t said the words, and she could tell he needed to hear them. She felt Jafar’s large, warm hand envelop hers over his heart, and she stepped closer against his body. Her face was next to his neck now; her lips were so close to him- to his throat, his cheek, his ears, his lips. If she spoke now- if she told him now… she was so close… her lips would touch… Smirking her best smirk, Anastasia turned her head the tiniest fraction of an inch, and when she answered him her lips skated over the hollow where his jaw met his throat. “Yes. I love you, Jafar.”

His only verbal answer was a growling sound, and with a swift hand motion all doors in the chamber slammed closed and the poor maid who had only been doing her job in the back of the room was simply vanished. Somewhere in the back of her mind Anastasia hoped the poor thing was merely relocated and not killed, but at present there were much more attractive and much, much more pressing matters at hand.

Jafar crushed her to his body, bringing his mouth down to hers in an almost brutal kiss, and Anastasia moaned. Oh, this was good. Not that she had much to compare it to. Sex with Will had been good and her marital duties with the King had been surprisingly un-terrible, but she could already tell that this was going to be in a league all of its own. Even now, even in just a kiss, she could tell that Jafar wanted her. It was heady and intoxicating and she definitely wanted as much of it as she could get. Their hands had been roaming all over each other during the kiss, rough and demanding, and when they broke apart to breathe Ana found herself clutching Jafar’s robes as if they were lapels on a jacket while his fingers dug into her hips so hard she was sure she would be bruised there in the morning. Her lips tingled, and she could tell they would be puffy and swollen, and though she wouldn’t have thought it possible moments ago, Jafar’s eyes were even darker, his pupils dilated so far his entire iris seemed black. Feeling wicked, Ana bit her lower lip and rutted her hips up against him, confirming for herself the erection she was sure he must have and earning herself a low moan from him in return. She made to move away again, but Jafar held her flush to him. If she hadn't known him so well she would have sworn that there was an almost vulnerable, unsure look in his eyes.

“Bed?” he asked, before dipping his head for a kiss.

“Bed,” she confirmed eagerly once her mouth was her own again.

***

She wondered how much of it had been real- if any of it had been at all- and how much had been the... was it a curse? A spell? And why had Jafar cast it, whatever it was? Did he actually love her or did he want her or did he just want to have that power over her? Physically, he'd needed no aid to get himself ready or to consummate the relationship, but Ana wasn't modest or naive enough to think that love was needed to do the things they'd done. Even the little kisses they'd exchanged in front of Will to convince them they were in love were little more than pecks and could have been convincingly pulled off by actors in a high school drama club. So had it been real, even a little bit? Had Jafar really cared for her? Did she really care for him? How could she? They had doubled-crossed and betrayed each other so many times she'd lost count. He had literally killed her. How could she ever trust him, let alone love him?

But to be fair, butted in a part of her brain that was obviously counting the days since she'd last had sex like an inmate marks the days on his cell wall, he never meant for you to stay dead. Oh, yeah. He's just a stand-up guy. But she knew that she did have feelings for him. After the spell had been broken, even though she had been happy with Will she had dreamed of Jafar, and she hadn’t exactly felt remorseful about it. There was something about Jafar that grabbed her soul in a way that no one else ever had- the games they played, though brutal at times, were at least exciting and challenging, and there was probably a padded cell somewhere with her name on it for thinking it, but she could only wonder what she would do if he somehow ended up in Storybrooke. Would she want him? Flirt with him? Try to make a relationship work with him?

Ana snorted at the absurdity of her thoughts. "Only if he showed up with a big, red bow that said, 'Merry Christmas, Anastasia,'" she said aloud, and she got up off the couch, headed for a shower. Maybe a cold one.

Chapter Text

That night she dreamed she was back in Wonderland. Like most dreams it was vague and nebulous to begin but once it began to take form, she was immersed in the happiness she'd felt when she'd first found herself ruling in her throne room in Wonderland. It just felt right to be up there upon the throne; ruling was what she was made for! And besides that, her dream-self knew, it wasn't just her kingdom to rule- not anymore- and Wonderland had been so much better off since their King had taken his place beside its Queen. The people were happier, the peasants were less likely to form unruly and unpleasant mobs, and even the slums of the Underland were slightly safer to traverse; the petitioners in her throne room showed her respect now instead of belligerence. Anastasia beamed as she surveyed her court and laid her hand on top of the King's on the arm of his throne. Looking over into his smiling brown eyes, she was met with a shock. Those adoring brown eyes were not her beloved White King's. They did not even belong to her long-lost Red King.

The new and much-loved King of Wonderland was Jafar.

Anastasia woke with a gasp and quickly shook her head as if to physically rid herself of the vision. Where on earth had that dream come from? Too many deep thoughts and reminiscences last night, apparently. Thinking over the dream again Ana nearly laughed. Oh, yes. Wonderland would have just loved having Jafar for their King. He would have introduced so many new and exciting forms of punishment to the populace. She doubted that the citizens of such a strange land would ever live in such peace and tranquility as had been present in her dream even under the best circumstances, but they absolutely would never see such harmony under King Jafar- he who had turned an entire audience chamber to dust just to empty it quickly and without a fuss. Jafar was not a kind man, and he would not make a beneficent ruler, and why was she thinking about him, anyway?

But she knew why- or at least had some idea. Every time she got worked up about Will somehow her feelings about Jafar got churned up as well, and even though a younger Anastasia would have sworn that Will was her true love- her only love- this Anastasia wasn't sure of that at all. She had only ever been involved with three men. The Red King had made a surprisingly good companion and an even more surprisingly undemanding (though skilled when he did request her company) lover, but he had died- naturally and with absolutely no ill will between himself and Anastasia. Of her three relationships, somehow her only marriage had been the least complicated.

It was the other two who had (and still) caused her grief. She had thought over the problem of Will to the point of exhaustion and didn't even want to let her brain form his name any longer. He was done; that story was over. The problem with that was there had been a spin-off story from Will's and its name was Jafar.

She couldn't remember exactly when she'd first realized she had been attracted to Jafar, but it was fairly early on; he was mouth-wateringly gorgeous, after all. She'd known he was dangerous- she would have been stupid not to (and even though she played it that way when it was to her advantage to do so, stupid was something she most definitely was not)- but she couldn't help it. In the past she'd been attracted to dangerous things, and she'd even thought she'd been attracted to a dangerous man, but sorry, Will. There was nothing dangerous about Will Scarlet when compared to the pure, seductive dark power that radiated from every inch of Jafar. Still, at first any attraction she'd felt for him had been completely physical and easily ignored (though fun and useful to play with at times)- the point of her partnership with him had been to win Will back, after all.

But the longer their partnership had gone on, the more they had worked together, she had begun to fall for him. She had never admitted it, of course, but she knew now that it had begun to happen. She had come to crave their cat and mouse games- their sometimes malicious back and forth teasing- and when she had challenged him she was almost sure she had seen the same desire in his eyes. The look that said all of this silly fighting was some absurdly masochistic form of foreplay. Looking back she had no idea what she would have done if he had made a move on her before he'd changed the laws of magic. She had wanted him, yes, but she had never really forgotten that her real purpose was getting Will back.

Plus, I'd probably be dead right now, she told herself. She doubted that if she had allied herself with Jafar before the laws of magic had been changed that the Nyx would have seen fit to give her her life back. With a sigh Ana sat up and got out of bed. After putting on her favorite fluffy slippers, she padded into the kitchen with the intention of making herself some tea. Before she could pick up a mug, though, she was stopped by the sight that met her in the living room.

What in the world? she thought, shaking her head, her eyes wide. You've got to be kidding me. A giant smile broke out across her face as she took it all in.

Although her tiny table top tree with its single string of tiny red lights still sat on the end table, a new bright red artificial tree stood in the space between the television and the front door. It was a tight fit, but somehow it was perfect there. The red branches were graced with hundreds of white lights, all twinkling merrily even though Ana was sure she'd turned off all of the switches before she'd gone to bed the night before, and there were ornaments of all kinds in every shade of red, from crimson to cranberry, baubles in silver and gold, and silver tinsel garland wrapped around the branches. A silver lighted star topped the whole thing. It was the exact tree Ana would have chosen if she could have dreamed one up herself. It was absolutely perfect. On the wall next to the tree hung a beautiful red velvet stocking with an A beautifully embroidered in intricate silver stitches in the middle. Anastasia took a step forward to peek inside ; it was packed full of fun and frivolous things- lip gloss, nail polish, candy... I bet there's even an orange in the toe like in all the stories, she thought, smiling. Pulling a tube of lip gloss out of the stocking to examine it further, Ana took a step back. It was only then that she noticed there were gifts under the tree, including something that couldn't possibly be there. Anastasia gasped.

But I wasn't even serious! her brain screamed, but it was too late. It was here now- he was here now- to do with as she pleased.

Under the tree, twinkling and gleaming under the bright new lights, Jafar's bottle sat propped up and waiting for her, wrapped with a bright red bow. Even from where she stood she could read the tag.

Merry Christmas, Anastasia!

Jafar. What the hell was she supposed to do with Jafar? Anastasia stumbled back until the backs of her legs hit the couch, and she sat down hard. She stared at the bottle, her hands covering her mouth. Her eyes were wide and unblinking, and she couldn't quite remember to breathe for a few moments. She had no doubt that the gift had been well-meant, but she had no idea why she had been gifted with the genie. Her first thought, so that she could take revenge on Jafar for killing her and then resurrecting her only to put her under yet another spell, didn't strike her as particularly likely- not very like Santa Claus. And she didn't think she would have been given the genie just because Ol’ St. Nick thought she deserved a few good wishes- or a good lay. Still, he couldn't have brought her the bottle just because of a stupid joke she'd been dumb enough to make out loud- and only half out loud at that! Surely Santa's elves knew the difference between real Christmas wishes and the ramblings of a lonely, horny ex-evil Queen, right?

Ana took a deep breath and sat back, her eyes never leaving the bottle. If she was going to let him out of the bottle she was going to have to sort through a lot of issues first. Like, maybe how she felt about him killing her. To say that she hadn’t thought about it and him would be a lie, but she wasn’t sure she had ever come to a point of closure about it. She thought she was pragmatic about that whole death thing. There were a lot of ways she hadn't trusted Jafar, but she had trusted his magic wholeheartedly. She was definitely not happy that he'd killed her, but in the end she'd survived, and she had to believe he had never meant for her to stay dead. Her death had only been used to prove his new power once he changed the laws of magic and to make sure Will’s heart worked. She couldn't blame him for wanting to show off his new skill or for using every tool at his disposal to get what he wanted; she certainly wouldn't have killed him if it had come down to that (she didn't think), but there had never been a doubt that Jafar was the more ruthless of the two of them. No, as far as their working relationship was concerned, Anastasia considered them square, or at least at a place where she was willing to let bygones be bygones. She was alive, after all, and had been for long time now. The real issue was...

Don't even think about it, Ana.

But it was too late. Thoughts of her personal relationship with Jafar were so twisted and convoluted that they seemed to fall to the front of her mind in one big lump. It was completely impossible to unravel; like a tangled necklace, the harder she tried, the worse the jumble became, and even when she was completely sure she'd unknotted something, it only resulted in more issues getting tangled up. It would help if I had ever known what he was really thinking at all.

Rolling her eyes and snorting, Anastasia crossed her arms across her chest. Funny that the man who had always stressed honesty so heavily had been so utterly untrustworthy himself. The only thing she'd convinced herself of was that she could never trust him to be honest, and yet...

It was kind of funny, but she'd almost thought that he'd really meant it when he'd wanted her to be in love with him. There had been something about him, the way he'd looked at her and touched her and held her, that even now made her think that he really had loved her too. Or at least that he'd wanted to. She may have been cursed, but her ears still worked, and she'd heard the hurtful things he and Will had said to each other. Maybe Jafar hadn't had a whole lot of love in his life, but he had wanted to change that. He had wanted her to change that. Or at least that was what she'd thought. She could still see his eyes as he spoke of her, feel his lips curving into a smile as he kissed her. She had dreamed of him even after Will had broken Jafar's curse, and even if she'd come to accept that she had never really loved him she had never lost sympathy for him. And she'd never been able to shake the feeling that maybe Jafar hadn't been pretending all that much.

And so what if he did love you? He made you a slave. He gave you no choice. He took you from the one you wanted to be with. He probably would have wanted to have given Wonderland heirs with you- all without your consent. And there's also the matter of him torturing and killing you! Does that sound like someone who loves you? Why do you even have to think about this?

Anastasia growled and rubbed the heels of her hands into her eyes. I don't know, brain. Maybe because I know what it feels like to not be loved, especially by those who are supposed to love you best.

You still think he deserves love?

Ana made another aggravated animalistic noise and clutched a pillow to herself. This was how almost all reminiscences of Jafar ended up- fights between head and heart (and sometimes, depending on how heated the issue became, libido entered the arena). Up until now, however, her thoughts of Jafar had all been speculation. She had truly thought she would never see the man again in her life. Now that he was a very real reality she had no idea what she was going to do. She supposed his bottle would make a lovely knick-knack on her book shelf if all else failed.

Wait, could genies see out of their bottles? Did he know where he was now? Could he see her? Ana racked her memory for anything she'd ever heard Will or Cyrus say about their bottle and thought she remembered something about a window. Oh, no.

As quickly as she could, Anastasia jumped off the couch and ran to her bedroom. She may meet Jafar again soon, but she would not do it in her pajamas with bed-head.

Chapter Text

Ana stood in front of her closet for a long while trying to decide on an outfit that was pretty but also didn't convey any sense of trying to look good. Of course, since it was Christmas she could have some leeway- she could always justify trying to look good because of the holiday. Finally she settled on an oversized, super-soft white sweater with little threads of silver running through it and a pair of skinny jeans. Though she didn't usually wear jewelry when she didn't plan on leaving the house, she put on some diamond (diamond-like) studs and a huge glass ruby ring. Despite her shower the night before some of the glitter hairspray she’d worn on her disastrous date still hung on stubbornly, and it made Ana smile a little as she brushed her hair up into a sloppy bun. Once she was dressed and as put together as she was going to get, Anastasia took a long look at herself in mirror, breathed deeply, and centered herself.

Ready or not, here we go.

The sight of the living room all made up for Christmas filled her with joy all over again as she made her way down the tiny hallway. She may be steeling herself for an encounter with an old partner/friend/lover/enemy, but it was still Christmas, so there was that to be happy about, right? She faltered slightly. Was this a mistake? Did the North Pole have a hotline you could phone to have toxic gifts recalled? She knelt down in front of the red Christmas tree.

With her sleeves pulled down around her hands, Ana picked up the bottle. It was pretty, a battered and pitted gold with glimmering red stones- a variety of rubies and garnets and all other kinds of stones Ana couldn't even identify- scattered over the surface. If nothing else- if she chose to put the bottle on a bookshelf and never let Jafar out- the bottle would make a nice, sparkly knick-knack. But she knew that would never happen. If she simply left it as it was she knew she would only feel him watching her, the bottle’s presence pressing on her more and more until she finally just gave in and rubbed its shining surface or "accidentally" managed to touch it while dusting. So here she stood, holding Jafar's bottle, looking at her own reflection in its finish. It was time to make a decision. A big decision.

What was the risk, really? Sure, the sight of him might set off a mighty emotional upheaval and bring up all kinds of memories and feelings she hadn't known she'd been repressing about that whole dead thing that had happened to her (that she was totally over, by the way), but if that was the case she could make him go back into his bottle once he'd officially declared her his Mistress. And to be completely honest the thought of being someone's- especially Jafar's- mistress sounded terribly intriguing to Anastasia. Thoughts of making him clean her cottage while wearing nothing but a loin cloth made her smile wickedly and led her to think about other orders she might be able to give. After all, she couldn't make him love her, but no one had said anything about wishing for lustful wishes. That would probably backfire, though. She'd experienced Jafar's lust firsthand; too much of it would be a very, very dangerous thing indeed.

But that brought up a good point- if she decided to rub the bottle it would be better for her to have wishes prepared ahead of time. That way, even if she was flustered by the sight of Jafar she could still get what she wanted, and by taking her time beforehand she could make sure there would be no unforeseen side effects or any sneaky genie way he could twist it into something other than what she actually wanted. For example, she might have wanted her clothes and jewels from Wonderland, but if she simply wished for those, she was bound to receive them as they were now, no matter their condition- gold melted down or shaped into different forms, dresses torn apart or moth-eaten. If she asked for her things in their original state, she might get them as gold nuggets and uncut rubies or bolts of crimson velvet. She would have to be extra specific and ask for them as they were when they had first come into her possession.

With a notepad and a pen (shaped like a candy cane and with ink smelling of peppermint- one of the gifts from her stocking) in hand, Ana sat at her tiny dining table and began to jot down a list, crossing out anything that might be too vague or that might give Jafar reason to bring her the wrong thing. It was a time-consuming and exacting task and more than once Ana heard herself muttering "bloody genies" over the low hum of Christmas carols in the background. She had thought herself well shot of genies after the whole Jafar debacle in Wonderland, but apparently Santa Claus had had other ideas.

In the end, her decision was stunning in its simplicity. It would depend a bit on Jafar's cooperation, but she was fairly sure she knew him well enough to know he'd accept. Ana let out a sigh and pressed her lips together, decision made. Picking up the bottle in her left hand, she shrugged her right sleeve back away from her fingers. Slowly, she brought those fingers closer to the bottle, and suddenly her vision was flooded by the memory of his face. Her fingers twitched, and before she knew it her thumb was caressing the bottom swell of the bottle as once it had caressed Jafar's cheekbone.

The pinkish red smoke began to pour out of the bottle almost immediately, and Anastasia took a step back. As the smoke took the familiar shape of Jafar, Anastasia's eyes grew wide. He looked exactly like he had when she had seen him last. When I loved him. Her heart skipped a beat then began to speed up. Oh, God, what had she gotten herself into?

Without lifting his eyes from the ground Jafar began to speak, "Mistress mine, my will is thine. Tell me your wishes three." His voice was bored, contemptuous; clearly he was not a fan of his life as a genie, and for the first time Anastasia wondered how much time had passed for him. With the help of the White Rabbit, she had been able to rebuild Wonderland, pop in to visit Alice several times, and finally wind up here all within the span of about five years, but if she were to look at things from Alice's point of view it had been around a hundred and some. She knew- she and Will had visited Alice and Cyrus' graves before settling in Storybrooke. How did time pass in genie bottles? Had he had any masters in the meantime or had he been completely solitary? He looked the same from what she could see so far. He wore the same robes. But then, she supposed eternal youth was part of the punishment. Immortality was part and parcel of being a genie, so dying of old age couldn't happen.

Realizing a moment had passed since he'd stopped speaking, Anastasia tried to respond but found her throat was suddenly parched, her tongue stuck to the bottom of her mouth. Even her body couldn't quite believe he was here now. With a quick swallow she tried her best to compose herself and finally managed a few words that came out in a throaty whisper much, much sexier than she had anticipated or intended.

"Hello, Jafar."

The genie's eyes immediately snapped up at the sound of her voice, and once they had confirmed that the speaker really was who he thought it was, he took a step forward. His hands opened and closed as if involuntarily, and confusion and something like hope skittered and played across his face as his eyes continued to search her for any sign of deception.

"Anastasia... How?"

Upon closer inspection of his face, Ana could see that years inside the bottle had definitely taken their toll. Not necessarily on his actual face, but behind it. A genie's work- and more importantly, Ana guessed, a genie's captivity- had wrought hell on Jafar's soul. Assuming he has one, that is. The man in front of Anastasia looked perfectly fine physically (absolutely perfectly fine), but behind his eyes he looked like he'd been wandering in the desert and had just spied an oasis. Just now he was wondering if the oasis was real or a mirage.

It was funny, Anastasia would think later; after worrying so much about what she would say to him or how she would greet him that pure instinct would simply take over. She saw him there and remembered. Remembered everything that had happened between them, but mostly what had gone on those last few days. Her eyes narrowed and she bit her lower lip, and with a quick step forward, she smacked him right across the face.

"That," she spat, staring straight into his stunned eyes and pointing into his chest, "is for killing me. Don't you ever do that again!" She punctuated each of the words in her last command with a little jab of her pointing finger, and she tried to hold her glare, but as the words faded from the air she realized how bizarre they sounded. That, combined with the utterly lost look in Jafar's eyes, made her start to grin, and the grin soon enough turned into giggles.

Jafar simply stood there dumbfounded.

"Sorry. That's been building up for a while, I guess." The giggles died down and for a while all there was silence as Anastasia and Jafar looked each other over. He looked as though he had seen a ghost, and in a way, Ana figured, he had. As big a shock as it had been for her to receive his bottle, it must have been an even bigger one for him to realize after all this time that she had survived after the laws of magic had reverted to their original state.

"But," he sputtered. "How... how are you alive?" He stepped closer to her and took her hand. His other hand came up as if to trace her face but after a moment he just let it fall. The gestured unsettled Ana, and though she let him keep hold of her hand, she motioned for them to both sit on the couch.

"I'll tell you, but first, I have an offer for you. You give me my three wishes the way Cyrus gave Alice hers, and I let you live a mostly normal life here in Storybrooke."

"Why?" Poor Jafar was still completely stunned, she could tell. Good. Keep him disoriented. All the better to get what I want.

"Because what I want most from you, dear Jafar, is answers. I can either waste a wish trying to force honesty out of you- making you one wish closer to being stuck in the bottle again for God only knows how long- or I can choose to use my best judgement when dealing with anything you say and offer you relative freedom at the same time."

"Relative freedom for how long?" he asked, the first hint of the old Jafar finally poking through his shock as a shrewd look took over his face.

Anastasia beamed at him, a cat-that-ate-the-canary smile she really hadn't smiled since the last time she'd dealt with Jafar; it felt good to be playing this game again. "Until I'm done with you, darling."

Chapter Text

Jafar looked Anastasia up and down, a careful, considering look in his eyes.

"I will accept your offer on one condition."

Ana let out an exasperated sigh. "And what would that be?" she asked, eyes rolling to the ceiling as if anything he had to say was completely inconsequential to her.

Jafar's face was set, though it lacked its customary menace. "Explain-" he waved his hands around him- "this."

"This?"

"This" he reiterated quite succinctly, his shock quite lost by this point. "Where we are. How you're alive. You know, the little things."

"If I tell you those things, you'll accept my offer- All of it? You'll stay with me and answer my questions, tell me what I want to know, until I make my wishes?" In answer to her question Jafar simply held out his hand. Glittering in his palm were three tiny ruby-colored wishes. She stepped forward to take them, but he snapped his hand closed.

"Not until I'm comfortable that you've fulfilled your end of the bargain."

Ana smiled and nodded. "Get comfortable, darling. This is going to take some time."

Ana stepped around the front of the tree and back into the kitchen. Her stomach was reminding her she hadn't eaten since the night before- an unfortunate inconvenience since all she had in the house was canned soup and Christmas cookies. She pulled out a plate and piled it high with the cookies. Who knew if Jafar was hungry too. Did genies eat? She asked him if he wanted anything to drink, and when he declined, she decided to take her time and make herself the tea she hadn't gotten around to earlier this morning. It wasn't that she was avoiding tell her story; it was just that she really didn't want to tell it again. But Jafar really doesn't know, she reminded herself as she placed the cookies on the coffee table and curled up on the opposite end of the sofa from him.

"So, first things first. If you're looking for someone to blame for me being alive, blame the Nyx."

Immediately Jafar's eyes narrowed. "You stole water from the Nyx's well?"

"No. She gave it. Apparently she said it was time for the Red Queen to die, but Anastasia was meant to go on. Or at least that was what Will said. Though thinking on that now, it seems awfully convenient. If I thought he was smart enough to come up with that on his own I would be suspicious."

Jafar looked around, obviously taking in the sight of her tiny peasant cottage. She wouldn't have asked him to stay with her if she was still with the Knave, now would she? And she definitely wouldn't be talking about him like that. Interesting. Seems like yet another case of True Love's Kiss being a well-meant but entirely misspent piece of magic. Very interesting. Then again, he could have told her all that all the way back in Wonderland. If you have to trick someone into loving you or change the past, it's not real love. And you would know all about that, wouldn't you, Jafar?

Out loud he said, "And after you came back to life?"

Ana sighed and took a sip of her cocoa. "Settle in. It's a long story." And she told him everything- from Alice and Cyrus' wedding to going back to Wonderland for a while and becoming known as the White Queen to all of their adventures in time and different realms with the White Rabbit to ending up here with Will to ending up here without Will, her life as a part-time shop girl at Modern Fashions, her hatred of the menial work, her desire for something more, her half-assed wish for a genie bottle (she left out the part about it being his genie bottle), and the kindly old elf man who gave out gifts on one night of the year in this realm and who had brought him to her.

"If you hate your work so much and you wanted a genie, why didn't you use your wishes for money so didn't have to work?"

"For one, I've spent too much time around genies to know that no wish is as straight forward as all that," Ana said dryly, her eyebrow cocked at Jafar. He could only smirk back. It was probably true. She was smart enough to probably find a way to wish for riches that wouldn't backfire if she wanted, but she was also smart enough to know not to think before she wished. "And besides," she added coyly, "when I knew it was you, I just couldn't let you go before catching up, darling. You know, see how the bottle's been treating you."

"Is that you asking your first question?"

Ana shrugged. "I suppose it is. What have you been up to while I've been not dead?" She'd meant it as a playful question, a simple, catching-up kind of question, but it seemed as if she could see every single year he'd been captive in that bottle written across his face as he began to speak.

"I've been in this world, actually. All one hundred and some years. I know they call it the Land Without Magic, but the people out there are quite eager to believe in genies when they find one for themselves. Human greed is eternal, and in recent years it has exploded exponentially. There have been weeks when I've gone through three masters just because people are so materialistic they know immediately what three things they'd like almost before I'm done giving my little speech at the beginning. Of course, that's nothing to the masters who want cheating wives or lousy business partners done away with."

"They actually wish for that?"

"They do, but I usually do it so the evidence points back at them anyway. No one ever thinks through their wishes."

Anastasia couldn't help but smile. Not many people would think they'd have to specify for a genie to kill their wife but not to have the evidence point back at them.

"So you've been busy, then?" she asked, more to break the silence than for any other reason. Jafar only nodded, and Ana could see that he did look exhausted. Out of sheer curiosity she asked, "Could you give the water back to the Nyx if we found her? Would that set you free?"

Jafar only shrugged. "It worked for Amara's sons, so I would assume so, but you never know with creatures like the Nyx. I don't think she likes me much." Ana smirked to herself and took a sip of her tea. That particular sentence could describe most of Wonderland.

There was a lull in the conversation for a while with just the gentle hum of Christmas carols from the radio Anastasia had playing in the kitchen. It was actually quite peaceful, with the snow outside and the comforting voice of Bing Crosby on the stereo but after a while Jafar began speaking again.

"So Alice finally got her genie."

"She did. They had a daughter. My Tweedle was so enraptured he moved to England to be the girl's nanny; he always felt out at sea without someone to serve. I'm sure they still have descendants somewhere over there- Alice and Cyrus, not Tweedle and the girl," she corrected herself at Jafar's startled look.

"And the Knave of Hearts has found his tart," Jafar said with an unkind twist of his lips, but Ana only smirked back at him. He had been in this world a while if he knew that nursery rhyme.

"Indeed he has, and she's plain and common and nice and everything I'm not and..." She trailed off. All of a sudden she was okay with it. Maybe it was having someone like Jafar to talk with, someone who didn't judge her for the very thoughts in her head, but all of a sudden it was all very clear to her. She didn't like Will's girlfriend, but it was okay. Because, really, she didn't like Will very much anymore, either. And she was sure the feeling was mutual. And that was all okay. "And I'm better off without his cheating arse."

"I have to admit I never thought Mr. It-Hurt-So-Much-I-Tore-Out-My-Heart would be the one to cheat."

Ana snorted. "You and me both. But we were constantly fighting. He always told me he loved me for who I truly was, not for who he wanted me to be, but it wasn't true. He loved me for who he thought I was, and he wasn't ever able to accept that I never really was the girl he thought I was, not even in Sherwood Forest. If I ever had been, I never would have married the Red King. I always wanted more out of life than he did. I still do."

What are you doing? her brain screamed at her. You're supposed to be getting answers out of him, not the other way around! But there was something so right about talking to Jafar, so comfortable. He was clearly more lacking in the soul department, but somehow she felt like he understood her, like they were kindred spirits.

Or maybe she'd just missed having someone to bitch and gossip with. No matter the reason, she'd had some big epiphanies during this little chat, though she hoped she'd answered enough of his questions to finally make the deal she'd proposed to him. Their conversation had taken the better part of the afternoon, and the early winter sunset was coloring the horizon pink already.

"So," she began, "that takes care of how I'm alive and how I got here, so that was it, right? That's all your questions?"

Jafar smiled. It was hard for Anastasia to tell, but she was almost sure that smile, small though it was, was genuine. This time when he unfolded his palm the three glittering wishes were strung together on a delicate silver chain. An involuntary "ooh," escaped Ana's lips as she scooted forward and touched the new necklace. He motioned for her to turn around, and he placed the wishes around her neck he simply stated, "Mistress mine, my will is thine."

Chapter Text

"Mistress mine, my will is thine."

Ana clamped down on a shiver as his words and his fingertips flitted over her skin. Did he linger there a moment longer than he needed to, or was she imagining it? Either way, she scooted away as soon as she was sure the necklace was clasped and turned back to face him. "Thank you," she said. "The necklace is very pretty."

"Yes, well, someone once told me I should learn the value of keeping pretty things around." Ana was speechless, and all of a sudden her mouth was dry, her tongue heavy and dull; she resisted the sudden urge to lick her lips. The way he looked at her made her think he may not just be talking about the necklace.

Only off-balance momentarily, she batted her eyes up at him. "She sounds amazingly intelligent." Ana glanced out the window then at the rapidly darkening sky and decided that if she was going to try and take him out for dinner her window of opportunity was rapidly dwindling. "Look," she said sort of sharply as she changed the subject. "I have nothing I can make for dinner. I wasn't planning on any guests. I can take you out, but I have to get you some modern clothes first, so I'm going to have to call one of my friends and see if he'll let me borrow some- and fair warning: they may not fit. I don't know what you want to do while I'm talking to him- there's the television, or I have some books, or you can take a shower if you'd like-" Anastasia cut herself off when she saw Jafar's face briefly light up at this last option. Oh, God, why hadn't she thought of that sooner? If she'd been without a shower for a hundred years, she'd be dying for one! "A shower, then," she said. "Right, let me show you the rest of the house."

It was not a long tour, and she could practically feel Jafar judging her for its smallness and commonness as he followed her, but soon enough she was handing him a pile of fluffy towels and sending him into the bathroom alone. As soon as the door was closed and she heard the water turn on, she raced to her bedroom and closed herself in. She needed to call the Hatter, Jefferson- the only person she really knew in Storybrooke- and beg him to help her. Otherwise she'd be left to deal with a naked, wet, dripping Jafar, and as much of a Christmas present as that might be, it was not what she wanted right now.

Are you so sure, darling? She clamped her legs together over her traitorous libido and clenched her jaw. Not now, dammit! Think dirty thoughts when this has all been sorted out and he's sleeping out on the couch completely unaware that you're in here thinking dirty thoughts about him!

She thumbed through the contacts of her phone quickly- easy to do when you had few friends- and silently prayed (though she didn't know to whom) that Jefferson would answer and wouldn't be upset that she was calling on a holiday. To her immense relief not only did he pick up, but he didn't even act like her asking to borrow two days' worth of men's clothing plus a winter coat was an odd request or that her insistence that she couldn't leave her house wasn't inconvenient. "Thank you, Jefferson," she said before hanging up. "You're a life saver."

When she was done Ana left her room and closed the door. Thankfully Jafar was taking his time in his first shower in a hundred and some years. She was waiting at the front door when Jefferson rang; he must have flown over to Ana's little cottage with impossible speed. She opened the door to him, though she stopped him before he could actually come in. There was no telling when Jafar might come out of the bathroom, and there was also no telling what he might be wearing when he did. Jefferson hadn't been in Wonderland at the same time as Jafar, but that didn't mean he couldn't tell a sorcerer- or a genie, if Jafar happened to come out sporting nothing but his shiny gold binds- when he saw one.

"Thank you so much, Jefferson," Ana said. "I hope I didn't ruin your Christmas with a silly emergency!" Jefferson gave her a sly smile and handed over two of the three bags he was carrying. Ana put the bags just inside the door. She liked that smile not even a little bit.

"An emergency, huh?" he asked, trying once more to look past Anastasia into the cottage. "Would this, by any chance, be a man emergency?" The way he said it made her face flush with embarrassment, and the way he'd emphasized "man"... Wait... she'd seen him at The Rabbit Hole last night. Did he think...?

"Oi!" Indignation brought Ana out of her doorway as she stepped forward and swatted Jefferson on the arm. "Do you think I pulled a guy from the bar last night?"

Ana's movement had finally given him a good look inside. If he had been hoping to see one of the bar regulars, he was sorely mistaken. He could, however, see straight through to her closed bedroom door. He laughed. "What else was I supposed to think when you asked if I could lend you some of my clothes?"

"If you must know, I'm clothing a homeless man." Technically true.

"Right. There are a lot of those in Storybrooke."

Ana only shrugged innocently. She knew he didn't buy it for a minute. Oh, well. She wasn't about to introduce Jefferson tonight. Tonight Jafar was her secret, and for some reason she wanted to keep it that way. Jefferson could think she was hooking up with someone from the bar if he really wanted to; he wouldn't hear the truth from her. Unconsciously her fingers flew up and began to worry at the bead-like wishes at her throat.

"Fine," Jefferson said with a smirk, handing over the last of the bags he'd brought with him. "I also picked up dinner for two at Al Tandoor. I really wanted to catch you in the act, but since you're no fun, have a nice romantic dinner with your invisible homeless man."

Ana took the bag from him and smiled. "Well, thank you. I can guarantee that dinner will be had but not that it will be romantic." After a pause she continued. "Seriously, Jefferson, thank you. For all this. For coming so soon, for the clothes, for the food, for interrupting your holiday... for not asking too many serious questions."

"Goodnight, Anastasia," Jefferson said as he turned his back and walked back to his car. "Merry Christmas!" he called over his shoulder.

After Jefferson left Ana quickly put the bag of food down on the dining room table then picked up the bags of clothes. Curiosity almost had her rummaging through them, but the thought of touching Jefferson's underwear (even though she was sure he would bring clean underwear- if he brought it at all; they hadn't discussed that matter, and now that she actually thought about it, she thought she remembered Jafar being more of a commando kind of man) popped into her mind just in time to keep her hand out of the bag. Instead, she simply dropped both bags outside of the bathroom door and knocked.

"Jafar! I put clothes outside the door. Remember they might run a bit small. My friend brought food, so I'm going out to the kitchen to see to that. Join me out there when you're ready." There was no reply, and the water hadn't stopped running (it was going to turn cold soon, that would probably get him out if nothing else would), so she couldn't be sure he'd heard her, but it was a very small house. If he hadn't heard her, she was sure she'd know sooner or later if he had questions.

Thankfully, the dinner Jefferson had picked up was in labeled idiot-proof containers, so all that fell to Anastasia was setting the little table that sat in the nook to one side of her living room. She felt like the meal deserved something a bit fancy- it was a holiday, after all, and after a quick check of her kitchen she'd come up with a not-exactly-seasonal black table cloth and some pretty red placemats she'd bought on a whim the day after she'd learned Will had been cheating on her. Close enough, she thought with a mental shrug. It's just a last minute Christmas dinner with a former partner in evil, turned murderer, turned genie. Oh, yeah, and he's also gorgeous. And you have a sexual history with him. So you see, it's just a casual thing. Suddenly frustrated (in more ways than one), she finished setting the table and set out the food just as she heard the water turn off. She took a deep breath, smoothed her clothing, and turned on the television. Sliding on to the couch, she intended to pretend she'd been casually and unworriedly been relaxing the entire time he'd been in the shower instead of running around like a chicken with its head cut off. She heard him approach several minutes later but acted like she was completely immersed in the Lifetime Christmas movie she'd switched to until she heard him bark her name. She was almost sure what had Jafar's knickers in a twist. Literally.

"Did you purposely call your smallest friend?"

Ana looked into the archway between the kitchen and the living room to see Jafar standing there for the first time in modern clothing. Oh, boy. She licked her lips. She couldn't stop herself.

"Stop being dramatic, Jafar," she said as she stood to get a better look. Jefferson's clothes fit Jafar like doll clothes. No, not quite that bad, she corrected herself, but still... it wasn't quite fair that Jafar could pass a century or two and the only physical change she could see in his body was that it looked like he'd spent all of his free time doing bench presses. Jefferson's old t-shirt stretched to its very limit across Jafar's chest, and Ana thought she could see actual rips along the shoulder seams. The sleeves themselves rode up so high they were little more than very-overstretched straps; Ana could feel the way they must be constricting all the way from where she was standing. The sweat pants, at least, were a little bit more forgiving, since they were made to run on the baggy side. Jefferson's sweats were definitely not baggy on Jafar, but they didn't fit like leggings, either, and Ana didn't know whether she was relieved or disappointed about that. She was satisfied knowing that when she did get a glimpse of his backside the pants would be sufficiently complimentary. The clothes may be tight, but it would only be for one night and then for as long as it took him to pick out an outfit tomorrow.

Trying to change the subject, Ana gestured to the table and motioned for Jafar to sit. "We'll have to get you some modern clothes tomorrow. You can't walk around Storybrooke in your old clothes. This town is very serious about not liking villains, and that outfit just screams that you're up to no good. Jefferson was very kind to bring over anything at all on a holiday. Plus, look, he brought us dinner so we don't have to go out tonight after all."

This did not amuse Jafar, though he did come and sit at the table. "If we're not going anywhere why did I have to change?"

Ana could only roll her eyes. Men. "If you'd really prefer to wear the same outfit you've been wearing for a hundred years straight, then by all means, go put it back on again."

"That won't be necessary," Jafar mumbled.

"Good. Now, come on. Let's eat before it gets cold."

The food was good, and Ana and Jafar chatted amiably enough, but when the meal was over the mood of the conversation shifted where Ana had been hoping it wouldn't- at least for the time being. She hadn't had enough time to think.

"Well, Anastasia, you said you wanted answers from me. What's your next question?" The look on his face was nothing but inquisitive, but Ana could see the gears turning in his brain. Hell, she could practically see the smirk lurking behind his placid look of inquiry. Oh, it would be fun to be sparring with Jafar again.

She put on her best innocent look in return, even batting her lashes a little to sell the effect. It was ruined toward the end, though, when she couldn't keep the left corner of her mouth from turning up.

"All in good time, darling. All in good time."

Chapter Text

"I promise you, first thing in the morning, we'll go get you new clothes."

The promise may have lacked gravity due to the fact that its bearer was short of breath because of the peals of laughter that racked her entire body. The sight in front of Anastasia was like a soft-core calendar flipped to December, except that the model was extremely pissed off. Jafar stood there, gloriously haloed by the lights of her Christmas tree, his t-shirt torn in pieces. He had just noticed the presents underneath the tree and had tried to stoop down to pick one up when there had been a mighty rip and the shoulder and side seams had finally given way. Ana had let out a tiny, "Oops," before bursting into a fit of gale-force giggles, but Jafar was not amused. He looked at once murderous and humiliated.

Anastasia stepped up to him and took both of his hands in hers. "Come now, Jafar, it's just a silly shirt. My house is nicely heated; you can sleep comfortably without one, and I promise tomorrow we'll buy you an outfit that fits as soon as possible so you can be comfortable here in Storybrooke."

Jafar looked askance at Anastasia and took off the remnants of the shirt. She really wanted him walking around her home half-naked? Storybrooke really was a far cry from both Agrabah and Wonderland. As he balled up the scraps of fabric and threw them on the couch, he gestured under the tree. "Anyway, I was pointing out these boxes underneath this silly holiday tree."

"I was so shocked to see your bottle that I forgot to open my other Christmas presents!" Ana cried with a little clap of her hands and a tiny, excited jump. Kneeling in front of the tree, she was thrilled to see that the boxes were all wrapped with shiny red foil paper and silver ribbon except for one at the very back that was all in a matte black. That's odd.

There weren't many gifts, but Ana was excited to have any at all. Santa Claus was right on the money, too- not that she was surprised; it was his job, after all. She opened a bright red zip-up hoodie, black leggings with red roses printed on them, a gorgeous ring with a gigantic red crystal (that went fantastically well with her new wish necklace), and a fabulous pair of black boots.

She could tell Jafar was bored with the whole production, but that all changed when she got to the last present, the one wrapped in black. Written in gold across the face of the matte black paper were the words, "For Jafar."

"This one's for you," she said as she reached behind her to hand the package to him. Jafar was taken aback.

"But I don't... I don't even know anyone."

"Doesn't matter. Santa Claus knows you." She didn't know how Jafar had come to be known by Santa Claus, and she definitely didn't know how he hadn't received a lump of coal, but what she did know was that there was a package for Jafar there in her hands. "Take it. It's not a trap. Just open it." From the feel of it Ana was almost sure it would put an end to Jafar's pouting.

Jafar sat up a bit straighter and took the present from Anastasia. He still wasn't quite sure about it, but he set to unwrapping the thing anyway. After the black paper fell away with no incident, he cautiously opened the rectangular box only to find a pair of jeans and two black tops- one crew-neck t-shirt and one polo shirt.

"See?" Ana asked. "No tricks. Santa just knew you'd need new clothes. Crisis averted. Now you'll have something to wear when we go shopping tomorrow and a shirt to sleep in. He's good, that Santa Claus."

"But how does he know?" Jafar asked, mystified. "Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town" ran through Ana's mind, but she didn't really want to explain that to him, at least not right at the moment. Instead, she shrugged and gave him a winning smile.

"Magic."

The rest of Christmas evening was spent with Anastasia being disappointed that she couldn't find a new technology to introduce to Jafar. Having been around this world for so long, Jafar had already become acquainted with everything from television to smart phones. Anastasia had thought it would be like one of those movies where a time traveler is introduced to microwaved popcorn or something, but Jafar was unfazed by everything she threw at him. In the end they watched the television since that's what she had planned on doing with her night all along. Soon enough it was time for bed, though, and time to lay down some ground rules.

"Okay, look. I'm going to bed now," she said, hoping her voice was commanding without being too mistress-ish. "You can stay up as long as you like, watch TV, read any of my books, take another shower, whatever you want, but you need to sleep either on the couch- I have blankets and pillows- or in your bottle. You can come in my room if you need me for something, but you need to knock first. You understand?"

Jafar only nodded, apparently stunned into silence by her sudden commands. Ana moved to the tiny hall closet and pulled out a few blankets and throw pillows. As she placed them on the couch she turned to face him.

"Do you need anything before I go to bed?"

Seemingly back on solid ground after the barrage Anastasia had just thrown at him, Jafar studied her a few seconds before responding. It had the desired response; he could see how the appraising look unnerved her the longer it went on.

"Are you sure you don't have another question to ask me yet?"

Anastasia could only clench her jaw and plaster on a falsely bright smile. Somehow he could tell how unsure she was, but she wouldn't let him win.

"Are you so ready to be rid of me and back into your bottle, dear Jafar?"

"Not at all, Your Majesty. I just want to be sure that you're getting your end of this bargain."

Anastasia snickered. "There's the Jafar I remember, always concerned about the welfare of others." For a moment they looked into each other's eyes, both challenged and entertained, the spirit of their old relationship coming alive again. It was Anastasia who broke the eye contact as she reached down to fluff the pillow on the couch. "Goodnight, Jafar."

"Goodnight, Anastasia."

Once she was behind her closed bedroom door, Anastasia let herself decompress. She stood with her back flat against the wall and let out a long, long breath. Was it hot in the little cottage? Why was it so much cooler in her bedroom? Before she could think too hard about the reason why her skin was so warm, Ana stripped off her sweater and jeans and slipped into pajamas- a nice long-sleeved set tonight. Without preamble, she went to bed; sleep, however, was a long time coming.

Instead of dreams, the only thing her mind would provide her was a replay of the whirlwind the day had been and speculation of what the days ahead would hold. What, after all, was she supposed to do with Jafar now? Right now, tonight, was fine, as long as she didn’t think too hard about him being naked and wet in her shower earlier today. Stop it right now, brain! she commanded herself as she shifted uncomfortably in bed. So she wanted Jafar, fine, she could admit that to herself, and why not? The man was impossibly gorgeous. If she was being completely and totally honest with herself she didn't think it would be outside the realm of possibility to build a real relationship with him, no matter how strange or stressful their history had been before. Besides, Santa Claus had brought him to her, and when had Santa ever brought a mean or malicious present? Still, she knew enough to tread lightly and approach him cautiously in all things. Any man who had been trapped in a bottle for a few hundred years would be gun shy on a number of fronts , and though he didn't have any magic in this realm she had no doubt his personality was in no was changed. You could take the venom out of a snake, but that didn't negate its instinct to strike.

 

Anastasia tossed and turned, sleep eluding her as her mind raced. She'd told Jafar she wanted answers, and that was true. She just had to decide which answers she wanted, in which order she wanted them, and exactly how badly she wanted them. Because no matter what she was sure that she was not going to like the answers to most of the questions she asked. There was a problem when it came to Jafar. She knew that he was trouble- more accurately, quite close to evil- but she had- if not a blind spot, certainly a soft spot. Maybe he reminded her of herself in some way. Maybe it was because he was so good-looking. Maybe it was because he was so charming. She had no idea why it was. But the fact remained, she was too forgiving of his flaws, and she needed to watch that. Just because she had fun with him didn't mean he should be able to walk all over her. And if he was going to answer her as honestly as he had promised, she knew she was not going to be pleased by the answers he gave her. Because deep down maybe she already knew the answers. She just needed to hear him say them.

The advantage that she wasn't sure Jafar knew she had was that she didn't plan on asking him just about herself. She wanted to know why most of all, and he didn't know that she'd learned the story of his father from Cyrus and Will. Between learning all of the crucial things she wanted to know for herself, like why he had killed her and why he had made her love him, she would learn all about his father and Amara. There had to be some connection between his background and what he had done to her, and as silly and pointless as it might have been, some part of her still believed that there was a part of Jafar who truly and genuinely did care for her. The more she thought on it, the more the knot in the chain of her emotions tightened. She wanted to know, but she was afraid of the real truth. But then again, there was that part of her that truly believed there was the tiniest spark of honesty and good in him still.

Aggravated and confused, Anastasia turned over and punched her pillow into what she hoped was a more comfortable position. Sleep would be a long time coming tonight.

Chapter Text

"No."

Jafar clenched his jaw. He hadn't anticipated that shopping with the former ruler of Wonderland would be anything he would consider fun, but he truly had not thought it would be the torture that he was experiencing now.

"And why not? They seem to be the only type of trousers available at this bloody store."

Anastasia gave him a look that would make most men quaver before walking over to him and taking the offending jeans from his hands. "Because, dear Jafar, these are skinny jeans, and skinny jeans are not for you," she said with a meaningful cock of her eyebrow and a sexy smirk. She brushed against him as she replaced the pants on the stacked table. "Plus, acid wash? Really? Now these," she said, reaching even further and leaning across him noticeably as she picked up another pair of jeans that- to Jafar- were utterly indistinguishable from the ones she'd just put back, "are more your style, and my guess is they're your size, too. You can try these on."

He answered as she straightened up and placed them in his waiting hands and was rewarded with a cocky smile. "Your beneficence is astounding, Majesty."

"Indeed. If you like the way those fit we'll come back and get a few more pairs, and then we'll start looking for tops. And maybe if you're good some dress clothes in case I ever take you somewhere nice."

"Forgive my bluntness-"

Anastasia cut him off with a snort. "That's an awfully big ask, and, really, darling, I don't think you mean to change, but go ahead." She was rewarded with a mock scowl as she beamed back at him.

"How are you paying to outfit me with this whole new wardrobe? You said you work in a menial job that you hate, and your whole house here would fit in your privy chamber back in Wonderland."

For a moment shock at his brazenness at entering her privy chamber in Wonderland rushed over Ana, and she couldn't help her reaction. "When were you in my privy ch- wait, never mind, doesn't matter. To answer your incredibly impertinent question, my menial job is here, and since I get a discount, I'm sharing it with Storybrooke's newest arrival. Now will you go try on those jeans before the store closes? I swear we've been here for a year already."

By the time jeans were tried on (Anastasia had been right about style and size, he was aggravated to admit) and t-shirts, hoodies, and sweaters were picked out it was almost lunch time, and Ana had proclaimed she was "starving."

"It would have helped if you'd eaten breakfast," Jafar pointed out, but Ana stayed sullenly silent on that point. She didn't want to tell him that she'd only had two pieces of bread left, and that was what she'd given him for toast. She did, however, choose to use her growling stomach as a chance to introduce Jafar to a Storybrooke institution: Granny's.

"Everyone comes here," she said. "They have really good food. Service and coffee are so-so, but for the most part the food is good. There is the problem that it's kind of like the clubhouse for all of the goody-goody types, so sometimes you can't get a word in edgewise with your waitress because people are all talking over you about the town exploding or something, but mostly it's just pancakes and hot chocolate."

Unfortunately for Anastasia, it looked like today was, if not a straight-up goody-goody convention, a meeting of the mommy mafia and their minions. There, taking up the big booth in the corner were her stepsister Ella (Ashley, now, she had to remind herself) with two-and-a-half-year-old Alexandra, Aurora with little Phillip, Mary Margaret with baby Neal, Ariel looking as clueless as ever, Ruby Lucas (Great, the only waitress who's any good is off today), and- oh, fantastic- Belle.

As Ana and Jafar were seated- right across from the so-good-we'd-never-even-jay-walk group- and given their menus, she gently nudged him with her pointed boot. When he looked up and caught her eye she tilted her head the slightest bit, making sure he knew not to overtly look at the other table.

"Remember the story I told you last night?" she whispered. "That brunette on the end is the one Will left me for." Jafar's eyes skated over to the other table, but he made no other movement. Looking back at Anastasia he only raised his eyebrows; he knew all too well there was no right way to comment on the situation. Call her ugly and Anastasia would know he was lying. Tell the truth and say she was pretty, and well- he would never be that stupid... He was interested in knowing more about what kind of a woman would marry the Dark One- and then cheat on him (even if they were on a break, Jafar knew he'd consider it cheating) with Will bleeding Scarlet, of all people- but that was not a conversation to have with Ana. For now, a knowingly raised eyebrow was all he needed to add to the conversation. Anastasia returned the raised eyebrow with pursed lips.

Although he had been raised mostly on the streets of Agrabah, Jafar knew the ins and out of dining in restaurants fairly well, and he thought that both he and Anastasia were being exceedingly polite and charming as they were seated and their orders were taken, and so why was it, as they waited for their food, it wasn't his eyes that were wandering over the new place and taking in the new people and things, but the eyes of everyone else that seemed to be trained squarely on himself and Anastasia.

"Ana," he began quietly as their food arrived after he thanked their waitress, an act that somehow seemed to have gotten him more stares instead of fewer. "I do believe we are the main attraction here today."

"I know," she hissed, annoyance barely kept in check behind her face. "Let's just eat and get out of here. I have no idea why I thought this would be different with you. It was the same when I got here. It's the same when anyone of note gets here. Everyone wants to know everything, and if they learn who you really are- what you really are, they may not be too friendly. This town has a real vendetta against anyone they consider a villain unless they think they can rehabilitate you."

"You sound as if you speak from experience," Jafar said in between bites of his lunch, slightly amused to see the frustrated anger on Ana's face.

"There's a song in this realm called 'White Rabbit,' and it has the lyric And the Red Queen's 'Off with her head!' Do you know how long it took for me to convince people that that wasn't how I was? If anything, that was Cora! But no, because some hippie band in the 60's wrote a song while they were stoned, I'm forever not-to-be-trusted, say the good citizens of Storybrooke, Maine!" Jafar was openly laughing at her now, and even though it made him extraordinarily attractive, she wanted to punch him. She settled for taking a deep breath and scowling. "You'll see," she warned, and she opened her mouth to continue, but before she could she felt a hand on her shoulder.

"Hi, Anastasia." Ana would have known the voice even if she hadn't heard the tiny accompanying "Hi, Aunt Ana," coming from significantly closer to the floor. A quick glance to the side confirmed what she had suspected since hearing Ella's voice. The booth next door had emptied while she and Jafar were eating. Now it was time for Storybrooke intelligence gathering, apparently. She plastered on a fake smile and turned in her seat.

"Hello, Ella. Hi, Alex. I haven't seen you in a while." Ana's tone was polite but somehow also chilly. Even without knowing the particulars of the situation Jafar could tell that this was not a close friendship. For her part, the other girl looked a bit uncomfortable and flushed slightly as Ana acknowledged her, but she stood her ground.

"No, gosh, I haven't seen you since..." She looked down as she spoke, pushing a strand of hair behind her ear.

"Since Will," Anastasia finished, a tight smile that was more like a grimace on her face. "You can say it. You haven't seen me since Will dumped me."

The other girl looked up, her eyes wide. "I didn't mean it like that, it's just that since Sean and Will work together..."

Ana made calming motions with her hands, and let a small but genuine smile twist the corners of her mouth, "It's okay, Ella. I get it."

There was an uncomfortable silence as the two girls looked at each other and Alexandra colored the toe of her sneaker with one of the crayons meant for coloring the children's placemats. Casually, Jafar cleared his throat.

"Of course," Ana said, snapping out of her silence. "Ella. Ashley, this is Jafar. Jafar, this is my stepsister Ashley and her daughter Alexandra."

"A pleasure," said Jafar as he shook Ashley's hand. Ashley could only smile at Jafar, dazzled at his good looks this close up. Ana would be willing to bet that Ashley had been the sacrificial lamb of the gossip mill due to her relationship with Ana and had been forced to come over and learn what she could for the good of all of the rest of Storybrooke. She knew as soon as she got home- possibly as soon as she got outside of Granny's- Ashley would be on the phone to Ruby, and from there the phone tree would spread, and soon news of Jafar's arrival in Storybrooke would be everywhere.

Still holding on to his hand, Ashley began her interrogation. "So how do you two know each other?"

"We knew each other in Wonderland," Jafar stated. He could feel Anastasia's discomfort and wasn't sure exactly how much she wanted to disclose to this woman. The fact that he had never known she'd had a sister said a lot about how close their relationship was, and he figured the sooner this encounter was over, the better.

"Oh! How exactly did you-"

Anastasia had had enough. She plastered on her biggest, politest, most get-out-of-here-now smile and placed her hand over Jafar's resting on the tabletop.

"We were partners," she said, smiling up at Ella in a very territorial way.

Take that back to Thomas to take back to Will.

After that Ashley ended their conversation and promised to call Ana soon because "we really should get together some time!" and after she and Alexandra were completely out of the diner, Anastasia turned to Jafar.

"Well, after that little encounter, do you think you're up for an introduction to the rest of Storybrooke?" she asked.

Jafar sat back in his chair, crossed his arms over his chest, and considered Anastasia. "Let me just clear up what that little encounter was first."

"It was my stepsister- she's a princess, by the way- getting the dirt on you so she can spread the gossip to everyone else in Storybrooke. It's a very small, very boring town."

"You never told me you had a sister."

"I have two sisters, Ashley and one who's not here. My life before Wonderland is not worth talking about," she said with a dismissive shrug.

"You told her we were partners."

"Darling, we were partners."

"You insinuated more."

"Like I said, it's a very small, very boring town. I like watching their brains explode. Besides, I'm so sick of them all being fake sorry for me every time they see me- all, Oh, the last time I saw you was before you and Will broke up. They say they feel bad, but they keep bringing it up. I'm over it, so why aren't they?"

Jafar nodded. It made sense in a way. What he'd seen of this town didn't look like it would be enough to keep Anastasia satisfied. If he could help her make some fun, why shouldn't he?

"All right," he said. "Show me this great capital of art and culture."

Chapter Text

It was close to bed time that night when Anastasia finally worked up the nerve to ask him. She waited until she was already in her pajamas and had her face washed and teeth brushed so that in case things went spectacularly wrong somehow she could make a hasty retreat to her bedroom and hide there until tomorrow. Just in case, bases were covered.

Jafar sat on the couch, and she worked very hard to eradicate any lingering vestiges of fear before she approached him; she was sure he could smell it. But he didn't seem to notice anything different as she came to stand next to him. Well, at least I've convinced someone I'm not nervous.

"Alright, Jafar," she began, "listen up. I'm going to ask you a question, but I don't want your answer now. I want you to think long and hard about your answer because I want the total, complete, brutal truth when you answer. I don't want any prevaricating or twisting words or leaving bits out. I want everything; you got it?"

She was serious. He could tell by her steady blue stare and the set of her jaw. She was gorgeous when she was in charge of a situation like she so clearly was at the moment. Jafar nodded as he assented. "Perfectly clear, Your Majesty."

"Good. Now, tomorrow morning, I want you to tell me why you killed me." They held each other’s stare for a solid minute, assessing the seriousness of the situation. Finally, slowly, Jafar nodded once again.

“I can answer that for you.”

His cool, unruffled stare finally flustered Anastasia, and she had to look away. “Good. Tomorrow, then.”

“Tomorrow.”

“Goodnight, Jafar. I’ll see you in the morning.”

“Goodnight, Anastasia. Sweet dreams.”

It was only after her bedroom door had closed behind her that Jafar let his knees finally collapse and his body sink into the couch. All of that build-up and then that question? That was hardly what he thought he was going to have to answer for, and his body was reacting like a man caught red-handed for murder (which, truthfully, was what he was, but did it really count as murder if she’d been resurrected?). Sitting there he tried to calm his racing heart and slow his tortured breathing. He was fairly sure she knew why he’d killed her; she’d told the Knave he was going to do it, after all, so why would she ask that instead of...

He lay back on the couch and stared at the ceiling. He did not look forward to the day when she asked him about that. Most of the time he couldn’t even satisfactorily explain to himself why he had made her love him, why he had turned such a spirited, feisty, strong woman into a plaything who would never even think to disagree with him. The tiny reptile brain may have thought it would be good to have a woman for fucking and little else, but Jafar had never been so easily entertained. If she asked him about her time with him in Wonderland and demanded the same honesty as she did about her death, he may not be able to give it. He so very rarely even admitted it to himself.

”This,” he said, pulling the crown out from behind his back, “is for you.” Anastasia’s eyes lit up, and she sat up in bed, pulling the crimson sheets to her chest (as if he hadn’t seen her glorious nakedness only moments before). She reached for it, but he pulled the crown back from her questing hands before she could snatch it from him. “Sorry, my love, you can’t have it just yet.”

“But why not? It’s mine, after all,” Anastasia pouted, and the sight of her kiss-swollen lips very nearly made him hard again. Not now. Now we have to focus.

“Because, my dear, you haven’t had your coronation yet,” he cajoled, setting the crown on her dressing table and picking her dress up from the floor. She pouted some more at the clear sign that it was time to get out of bed and get dressed again, and crossed her arms over her chest.

“Jafar, darling, I was coronated a long time ago.”

“But not as my Queen,” he said as he came to sit next to her on the side of the bed.

“My dear Jafar, is that your way of proposing to me?” she teased, her eyes sparkling at him as she twisted to better face him. Jafar ran his hand over her bare arm, and she shivered then leaned in for a few brief kisses.

“Well," said Jafar in between kisses, with a smile on his face, "I suppose I could go down on one knee, but we know what happened the last time I did that, and we do have a bit of a schedule to keep today.” He smirked wickedly and again waggled Ana’s velvet dress at her. When she sighed, he placed the fabric on her lap and stood, giving her space and time to redress.

“And when shall this wedding take place, my King?”

“Once I’m one-hundred percent sure Amara and her sons and Alice and your Will Scarlet are out of our way. We wouldn’t want anything to ruin our special day, now would we?” He was expecting a snappy retort, something Anastasia-ish, but was instead surprised by the sweet sincerity that greeted him.

“Any day’s a special day when I’m with you, love.” The utter earnestness of it stopped him dead in his tracks, and he felt the statement like a gut-punch. A somehow pleasant pain, the hot impact resonating from his stomach all through his body. The look in her eye... there was no guile or malice, no ulterior motive, no sarcasm. He knew the real Anastasia didn’t love him, but now she really did, though, and it was so real it took his breath away. She didn't want anything from him or have plans that needed him to succeed. She just loved him. And in that moment Jafar's heart broke; she genuinely loved him now. She could never hurt him, so there was no need for the walls he'd built up his whole life. He could admit it, at least to himself.

Oh, Anastasia, I love you, too. I am a horrible, awful man, but I love you.

The only real love he’d ever known had been his mother’s, and when he thought about it (which he tried not to), he supposed he was glad that it was hers that he’d been exposed to if he only got to have one person’s. She had been the ultimate model of unconditional, unending love, and it had been a life-altering experience not only to lose her but to learn that not all people were good like she had been. To learn that, in fact, most people were not like her. No one had ever loved Jafar again, not even people who were supposed to love him, like his own bloody father (see where that got you, Father?) or Amara, who had claimed to love him but who had only used him for his body and his magical prowess. When it came down to it, was there really any surprise that Jafar had turned into the monster that he was? No one had ever loved him, and no one ever would.

And yet, when Anastasia had looked at him just then... He had believed her. He had believed her and wanted to feel that feeling more- wanted it so much it scared him. It wasn’t about the sex; they’d already done that, and it had been amazing (as he’d always expected it would be between them). It was about love and caring, and God, he wanted that more than anything. He wanted her to hold his hand and ask him how his day was and kiss him for no reason. He wanted her to laugh at his jokes and come to him when she was scared and hold him when she needed to cry. He wanted her to need him, to miss him when they weren’t together, to love him for no reason at all except that she did. That was what all that True Love stuff the stories were always going on about, wasn’t it? He wanted that, wanted her, every part of her, and there was no way around it. No right way to do it. Because Anastasia didn’t really love him- or at least she hadn’t before the spell. So he had two choices: live without love- and by extension without a Queen and heirs and a legacy for Wonderland, or use the spell that he’d worked so hard to change the laws of magic for anyway. His conscience would bother him with the latter option, but he honestly didn’t think he could live with the former. And he would never be the type to treat a family as a business arrangement. He’d learned firsthand the effects of having a world-class asshole for a father. He didn’t care enough about Wonderland to screw up some poor kid’s life because of it.

So he would just have to tamp down on his conscience (small and scarred though it already was). As soon as matters with Amara and Alice et al were sorted, he would marry Anastasia, and they would rule Wonderland together. They would make a magnificent team, and their legacy would continue on for generations to come.

"Jafar?" Anastasia asked hesitantly. She had fully dressed, including her long velvet gloves, and she had come to stand next to him, gently caressing his shoulder. "Are you alright, darling? You zoned out a bit, there."

“Just thinking, my love. One question before we attend to our business, my sweet." Ana looked at him inquiringly. “Would you have any objections to henceforth being known as the Black Queen?”

Anastasia worried her lower lip. “But I look so good in red!”

Jafar sighed and, getting up from the couch, turned off the lights in the living room before returning to his little makeshift bed. He knew he wouldn’t sleep; even if his thoughts wouldn't be turning in on themselves the whole night, the moon was exceedingly bright, and there were no curtains over Ana’s front window. No, he wasn’t looking forward to the day Anastasia asked him about making her fall in love with him. She had changed somehow since he had last known her, and even though she had been strong then, there was more of a quiet confidence in her now. Maybe it was because she no longer had a populace to put on a show for. Maybe it was because she was older. Maybe her loss of Wonderland compounded by her loss of love had made her sadder but also smarter. He couldn’t be sure what the difference in her was, but it was there, and he was fairly sure she would know if he tried to lie to her or hold back some part of the truth. And sometimes, the way she reacted to things, he was almost sure her upbringing hadn’t been all that dissimilar to his (though he knew her father hadn’t tried to murder her, so he figured he still won the “worst childhood” award).

In the dark he lay there, staring out at the dark moon, very glad she couldn’t read his thoughts. Because there was a very real chance that he was still very much infatuated (he wouldn't say he was in love) with Her Royal Highness Anastasia Tremaine.

Turning over, Jafar sighed as he contemplated the question at hand. On the surface, the question of why he killed her was laughably easy to answer, but given her insistence that she wanted the whole truth, he was intent on giving it his all.

He wondered if she even knew about the first time he’d attempted to kill her.

The paint chipped off under his nail and his heart began to thud in his chest.

No.

He threw the bottle against the wall and it shattered into a thousand pieces. That was when he knew. His chest was practically exploding.

She had tricked him. She had tricked him, but more importantly she had betrayed him. She had been the one to insist that they were partners and that she was just as much a part of this scheme as he was, and she thought that she could betray him?!? No. He had thought that there had been something different, something special about the Red Queen, but he had been wrong. She was just a lying and conniving bitch like all the rest of humanity. She thought she could outsmart him or do it without him, but, oh, that little girl was wrong...

Jafar set to work on the spell, the turquoise smoke taking shape as he lovingly crafted it. Why had she betrayed him? He had had such plans for her, for them! She had shown so much promise! In a way, he hated having to do this. In a way, he wasn’t just killing her, but killing the future he’d had planned. They would have looked so good, so striking, ruling Wonderland together. He could already see their royal portrait. Jafar sighed. It was really too bad she’d ruined all that.

The spell completed, Jafar collected the storm in a bell jar and guided it to the window. It was a beautiful creation; he was proud of it. He smiled as he let it free and murmured, “Find the Red Queen and kill her.”

It had just been dumb luck that the storm had failed and that instead of killing Anastasia it had hit Cyrus, setting in motion the chain of events that would lead to the final showdown in Wonderland. Of course now he was glad that he hadn’t succeeded in killing her then, but at the time it hadn’t been a bright spot.

Now the second time... The second time had been a bit of a cat and mouse thing, and to be honest, he hadn’t even been sure he was going to do it until he really needed to. But the fact remained that she had hurt him- and he suspected that she knew it. It had been fun- at first, at least- to give her over to the Jabberwocky.

“It never would have worked out between us, darling,” Jafar flirted cruelly as he made sure she was secured in her chair. He then turned to the Jabberwocky as he left the cell. “Don’t stop until she’s broken.”

He had only come back down to the dungeons because it had been an extraordinarily long time for a supposedly terrifying monster to wring three little wishes out of an already half-dead monarch, and he arrived just in time to hear the Jabberwocky’s deceptively calming voice sing-songing on about Anastasia's life of fear, of how her stepsister had been chosen to marry a prince instead of her, how she felt love was forever out of her reach. The Jabberwocky went on about the darkness spreading in Anastasia’s mind like a disease, and then about her biggest fear: that she would never get Will back, but that that wasn’t what she really wanted anyway or she wouldn’t have accepted the Red King’s proposal in the first place.

Oh, Jafar thought, that’s interesting. Her biggest fear is that she doesn’t really want the Knave as much as she thinks she does? He put that piece of information in the back of his mind for later; it might come in handy. He didn’t have too much time to think on the information, though, because almost as soon as the Jabberwocky had wrung that bit of fear from Ana, she had also prompted her to wish for her crown.

“There,” Jabberwocky said in a mocking tone, “doesn’t she look pretty?” Anastasia’s head lolled to the side, the weight of the crown too much in her exhausted state, and Jafar’s heart leapt. One wish down! One wish closer!

“Now wish for your jewels!” he commanded.

The Jabberwocky caressed Anastasia’s hair and turned her face to look toward both her and Jafar. “Now,” she said. “Wish for your jewels.”

Barely a hoarse whisper from Anastasia. “I wish for my jewels.”

Jafar punched the air. Two down, one to go.

“Now,” the Jabberwocky crooned, “wish for this all to be over.”

“Don’t do it, Ana!” Will interjected from his seat opposite. But Anastasia was well past the point of hearing.

Anastasia turned her head and whispered to the Jabberwocky, so low no one else could hear. The ruby bead on the bar next to Jafar disappeared, and Ana fell into a deep, exhausted sleep.

Watching her like that, Jafar started to feel the slightest bit sorry for what he’d had to do, and what he knew now he’d have to do in the near future. Of all the humans he’d been forced to work with in his long life, Anastasia had been the most surprising. Normally he would have found that infuriating, but in her it had been intriguing, intoxicating. For a time he had even thought he might have even been falling for her. That was all for the good, though, he supposed. It would make the coming part of his plan so much more enjoyable.

He didn’t decide he needed to kill her until it became necessary. At first he thought she had put some sort of spell on the Knave so that he couldn’t react to it, but when the truth came out that he didn’t have a heart, he felt like she’d betrayed him yet again. When he found out that she hadn’t known, either, it was like a sick validation (though he was still childishly angry at her). However, she had foreshadowed her own fate when she’d said that if Will didn’t have a heart she was of no value to him anymore. She just didn’t know that he would use the inverse of her statement, and as soon as the heart was back in Will’s chest, he’d murder Anastasia in front of her beloved’s eyes.

He had to be sure the heart was working, after all. The spell to change the laws of magic was too important to leave to chance.

Jafar sighed. Amara had once asked him if he had been willing to do whatever it took to get what he wanted. He was willing, but that didn’t mean he was always proud of doing it. But then again, as he’d said as he’d looked lovingly down at Anastasia’s glass coffin, knowing full well that she would be alive (and his) again within the day, “Love makes us do the maddest things.”

By the time Jafar had sorted through all of his memories and made sure he had his thoughts straight dawn light was filtering in through the windows. It made little sense to try to sleep now. Ana would be up and about soon, and she would be expecting answers. He was tired but not exhausted; genies didn't technically need sleep, after all. He picked up the blanket and pillow that served as his bed and did his other morning tasks, a sense of dread hanging over him. She definitely was not going to be happy.

The bedroom door creaked open, and Anastasia stepped outside. She looked up as she entered, and seeing Jafar, she gave a strained smile. Once she had made her way out to the living room and taken a place on the couch, she simply sat there, not really knowing how to proceed. It felt a bit rude to just open her hands and go, “Well,” but she had been thinking of nothing but this question all night. Finally, she patted the seat next to her and invited him to sit. Looking him straight in the eyes, she spoke.

“Last night I asked you a question. Do you have an answer for me?”

He took a deep breath as he sat. “I do. Are you sure you want to hear it? The entire thing?”

Anastasia nodded.

“I will tell you as much as I can, as simply as I can." He proceeded to tell her all that he had worked out over the night before (excepting the parts about quite possibly still being in love with her), and at the end he broke it down to most basic just to reiterate that her death had boiled down to no reason more noble than because he was a vile human being. "I killed you because you betrayed me. Because you hurt me. Because it felt good to do it. Because I needed someone to bring back from the dead just to prove I could. Because I wanted to.” He looked her straight in the eyes and asked, “Do you need me to go deeper?” Tears shone behind Anastasia’s eyes but did not fall as she shook her head. “Are you happy now?”

“No,” Anastasia whispered, though she never broke her eye contact with him.

“Do you believe me?”

“Yes.”

Chapter Text

She threw a softball of a question at him before leaving for work the next afternoon, and so Jafar decided it was high time he took advantage of his time alone in the cottage to snoop around through her things. The urge had been eating at him ever since he had gotten his bearings here in Ana's world; he had merely been biding his time until he'd been alone and had a big enough window of time to go through things to his satisfaction. Today seemed like the perfect opportunity.

A cursory investigation of the living room turned up the usual assortment of questionable romantic comedy DVDs and some surprisingly well-worn books (a like-new hardcover edition of Alice's Adventures In Wonderland sat next to a dog-eared paperback set of the Harry Potter series) as well as a stash of candles and framed photographs- mostly of Anastasia and others he had known in Wonderland, namely Alice and Cyrus, but also one of her Tweedles (the non-beheaded one) here in this world, but obviously in another time period based on the dress style. Not a single one featuring Will Scarlet, though, he noticed. Did she really not have any friends in Storybrooke, or were those photographs just not worthy of framing, he wondered. The next photo he picked up, however, made him stop and think. She hadn't mentioned... Surely she would have... And yet...

The little girl had dark brown hair, almost black, and her skin was dark enough that it was possible...

And it could be possible... He had taken absolutely zero precautions when he and Anastasia had been together back in Wonderland; he hadn't expected to be cursed into a bottle, after all...

She could be yours.

Jafar's mind tried to reason with him- if the girl was his and Anastasia's, where was she now? Ana had made no mention of having a child, and she had said that only five years had passed for her, but still the realization that he could have been stuck in that bottle, abandoning his child just as his father had abandoned him made him want to vomit. He quickly shuffled through the arrangement of frames, trying to see the little girl's face anywhere else, and he breathed an incredible sigh of relief when he found it, nestled cozily between Alice’s and Cyrus', looking very much like it belonged there. That was better. That made so much more sense.

Replacing the frames, Jafar wandering from the living room to the kitchen. He'd already seen most of what this room had to offer, but a quick glance into the deeps of the cabinets revealed that somewhere, sometime Anastasia had considered herself crafty. Dusty chocolate molds- in the shape of crowns, of course- took up the very back of the cabinet reserved for baking utensils. Interesting, but not very useful. Jafar shut the doors and narrowed his eyes. She wasn't really this boring, was she?

He skipped the bathroom; he'd been through the drawers and cabinets in that tiny room so often by now that she couldn't have hidden anything even if she'd wanted to. The same applied with the little linen closet right before her bedroom door. He already knew the most embarrassing thing in there was a Pirates of the Caribbean beach towel that she refused to feel embarrassed by, so there really was no fun in it. That left only one door in the house- the Holy Grail- her bedroom.

Jafar had never set foot in Anastasia's bedroom before- not in this one, at least- though he'd seen into it many times while the door had been open. He had to admit, after the opulence of her chamber in Wonderland, it was a bit of a letdown. Of course, this was a rental, so she probably wasn't allowed to paint or put up her own window treatments, but still- the whole thing didn't strike him as terribly her, he thought as he walked further into the room. That was, of course, except for the bed. Swathed in a blood red comforter and piled high with pillows of every conceivable shade of crimson, cranberry, and carmine, the bed stood out like a jewel in the blank neutrality of the rest of the room. Jafar smiled to see it. It looked very comfortable, and it looked very much like Anastasia. Now, first impressions done, the choice had to be made where to look first: drawers or closet?

The closet won, and though he was stunned by some of the more risqué pieces in her wardrobe, the one thing he had been sure he would find somewhere in her home had been located there, on her closet shelf.

"Hello, lovely," he purred as he pulled the crown down from its place of honor and inspected it. "I haven't seen you in quite some time. I'm glad Anastasia found you. You may just be her best friend." He had heard that diamonds were a girl's best friend, but he was quite sure in Anastasia's case she would trade all the world's diamonds for this one batch of rubies. Though the crown obviously wasn't being worn with any frequency, it was definitely being taken care of and loved, and as he put it back, Jafar caressed it gently.

Just as he thought he had gone through all that he possibly could, Jafar noticed that Anastasia's nightstands had drawers. He smirked in anticipation; there was bound to be some good stuff in there. The first one looked promising but ended up being boring. In it was a book that looked very much like a journal with a pen clipped to the cover, a box of over-the-counter allergy medication, some tissues, a tube of lip balm, a book mark, and some cough drops. Jafar eagerly reached for the journal only to find that there was nothing written in it. Either she had anticipated his snooping and had torn out her journal entries, or, like so many other people, had had very good intentions when buying the book and then had never cracked the cover. He replaced the book with a scowl. Was her life in Storybrooke really so boring that she had nothing to write about? Surely Today I got a genie might have rated a diary entry?

Jafar moved to the other side of the bed to look in the other nightstand, not expecting much by this point. Probably a Bible with the luck I'm having today. Instead, when he looked inside he was met with a much different sight. Jafar grinned wickedly to see a box of condoms and a small "personal massager." So Anastasia was human after all... He wondered how many muscle cramps Anastasia was plagued with; he wondered if he could help her with those. He began to chuckle as he shut the drawer. Finally, after a whole day of snooping, he'd found to something to make it all worth it. The question was: how to use it against Anastasia? Closing the door behind him, he wondered if he meant that literally or figuratively.

Ana brought dinner home that night, and as they were eating, she looked at him challengingly.

“Well,” she began, “did you think about what I asked you?” Jafar nodded around a mouthful of food, and she went on. “So tell me, then, why was it you picked me, out of everyone in Wonderland, to help you get to Alice and her genie.”

He swallowed and cleared his throat, taking a moment to dab the corners of his mouth with his napkin. “Is this really what you want to know from me, Ana?”

She clucked her tongue at him and shook her tongue. “Now, Jafar, you promised to tell me whatever I wanted to know, no matter what. Don’t tell me you’re afraid to tell me the reason you chose me.”

“Not afraid, my dear, merely bored. But if you really want to know... Cora was already gone by the time I arrived in Wonderland, but from what I’d gathered you had a closer relationship with Alice anyway, so that put one check in your column. The Caterpillar was an option, but his motivation is so basic and unreliable- he could have been bought off by anyone who chose to oppose me and offered him more money. Plus, you’re much more attractive.”

Anastasia regarded him skeptically. “Is that all?”

“Yes.”

She shook her head, her eyes never leaving his. “I don’t believe you.”

Jafar’s eyes narrowed slightly as he inhaled. So he'd been right. She could tell when he wasn't being completely truthful. He wasn't sure if he was happy his instincts had been right or bothered that she would probably be able to catch on to anything he tried to pull on her. “At first, I thought you would be easy to control. You don’t look as strong or as smart as you are. By the time I figured out I would be working with you instead of simply having you working for me we were far too involved in our scheme for me to try and un-involve you. In the end it may have been simpler to work with the Caterpillar, but then where would we be?” he ended with a sexy smirk. Anastasia smirked right back.

“Where, indeed?”

Chapter Text

The next night Anastasia surprised him by coming home early and bringing pizza with her. At the sight of her, snow-covered and rosy-cheeked, he raised an eyebrow and lazily turned a page in the magazine he had been leafing through. Not that Women’s Fitness was really holding his interest, even if the latest pop star du jour was on the cover.

“Ana, darling, you’re home early. To what do I owe this unexpected pleasure?”

Anastasia smirked and rolled her eyes as she placed the pizza on the table and shrugged out of her coat. Oh, he was a charmer, all right. Too bad she knew enough to hear the teasing and sarcasm underneath his words. Although the teasing is fun...

“This freak snow storm. The shop is dead. I offered to cut some payroll and leave early.”

“Such a good team player. Tell me, how many times have you been employee of the month?”

“If there was such a thing, you could bet I would be! Now come and get some pizza before it gets too cold. It might not have fared too well on the walk home.”

“Why do you walk when you have a car?” Jafar asked, a question that had been on his mind from the first time he'd seen her walk off in the cold and dark.

“There’s no off-street parking at the shop," Anastasia explained, "so most of the time if I drive I end up parking almost as far as I’d have to walk anyway, so I usually only walk when the weather’s really bad.”

“You mean like when it’s snowing?” Ana rolled her eyes at Jafar as they both settled down at the table and grabbed pizza. Though cooler than normal, the inclement weather had not done anything terrible to it, she was pleased to see.

“Snow is not bad weather.” Jafar muttered something under his breath that sounded suspiciously like, “Could’ve fooled me,” but continued eating without further audible comment. Outside, the wind howled and the ocean roared; that snow had begun to fall once again was an understatement. It was like all of the snow that had been promised in the lead-up to Christmas was now being dumped on the Northeast. Most people- who had been complaining about the lack of the precipitation only a few days ago- were already announcing they were "over it" and bemoaning the slushy sidewalks and the slightly-harder-to-navigate roads. Traitors, Ana thought. Jafar's voice brought her out of her reverie.

“So how was your day?”

“My, you are chatty today,” Ana teased, smiling and licking her lips.

Jafar's eyes flicked down to her lips briefly before he teased back, smirking. “I’m sorry, is my interest in your life annoying to you?”

“No, just a touch unsettling,” she answered with a smile. “Besides, I’m the one who’s supposed to be asking the questions.”

“And yet, I couldn’t help but notice you didn’t give me anything to ponder this afternoon before you left.” It was true. Ana hadn't been able to think of anything to ask him today. It was true that she wanted answers from Jafar, but right now she was just enjoying having his company, and if she was being honest, she thought she understood his motives a lot more than she cared to admit. The only thing she still wanted to hear straight from his mouth was... that thing, and she didn't want to ask him about that. Not yet. So what was a girl to do? She still wanted to ask him things, just not necessarily things he would normally answer...

All of a sudden the lightbulb went off in her head. Perfect. She knew exactly what had to be done. “All right, then. I have an idea. A game.”

“A game?” Jafar raised an incredulous eyebrow.

“A game from this realm. We’ll both get a chance to ask all the questions we like, and we can spend our unexpectedly free evening together doing something fun.”

“What makes it a game?" he asked skeptically. "It sounds like we just ask each other questions.”

Ana grinned and jumped up from the table. “It’s called ‘Truth or Dare’ and there’s always the option to do a Dare instead of answering a question. Plus, the adult version includes alcohol,” she answered as she pulled a full bottle of vodka from the freezer. Jafar sneered but accepted her challenge. He wondered if she knew that genies couldn’t get drunk. Anastasia explained the rules of the game to him, including the one that said that if either side was unsatisfied with the truthfulness of an answer given or the completeness of a dare performed, the answerer/dare-ee had to then take a shot as punishment. “But we’ll keep that to a minimum, won’t we, darling?” she asked as they settled themselves facing each other on the couch.

“Of course,” Jafar promised, and since he had been so inquisitive during dinner (Ana’s words), he was allowed to ask the first Truth or Dare. “Anastasia, Truth or Dare?”

She looked as if she was seriously considering her options for a moment, but soon enough she said, “Truth,” and his brain worked overtime trying to find the perfect first question for her- nothing so deep to make her cry foul, but something prying enough to get some satisfaction.

“What would you wish for if you were going to use your wishes? And be careful how you word this- you don't want to accidentally use your wishes.”

For an instant Ana's eyes glossed over, and a far-away smile came over her face before it resolved into a full-on beam and she began to answer. “Did you know there’s royalty in this world, too? And I don’t mean the fairytale royalty, I mean, real royalty. I wouldn’t be silly enough to want to automatically be a royal, but on one of my trips to England with the White Rabbit, I did sort of change a few old books with family titles and stuff so that my family name is listed as being part of the nobility in England from all the way back to the Middle Ages. I still have that much magic left, to be able to manipulate words in books. My plan was always that somehow I would get enough money to get out of Storybrooke, move somewhere really nice, and pretty much do what I did in Wonderland, minus the ruling part. You know, have time for the stuff I actually like to do- my roses, chess, reading, shopping. And then when or if anyone ever asked what I did for a living I could just say I came from old money and this really old and fancy family in England that’s been close to the crown since the Middle Ages. Most people would believe it without a second thought because people in America just love royalty, but if anyone ever did check it out, there it would be- Tremaines everywhere in British society all through history. So I don’t know exactly how I’d wish to make it happen, but that’s what I want. And my house has to have a pool. That’s all I really want. And a hot man, of course.”

“Of course,” Jafar agreed with a sage nod. That was actually a really well thought out plan, and not terribly greedy compared to all of the things he’d seen in his time as a genie. Anastasia would never be called simple, but she was not exactly high maintenance; she could take of herself with relatively little help. There was a great self-assurance about her, and Jafar found that incredibly attractive.

“Now it’s your turn, Jafar. Truth or Dare?”

Well aware that he was basically contractually obligated to answer her questions anyway, Jafar simply answered, “Truth.”

“What made you want to change the laws of magic in the first place?”

“Amara. She was my teacher, and she took me in when I had no place to stay. She was obsessed with collecting the three genies- she told me it was to perform the spell that would change the laws of magic, but apparently she really just wanted her sons back.” There was such bitterness in his voice as he finished that Anastasia made no comment, only decided that she knew what her next question would be, so she nodded at him to continue the game. He took a breath, looked her in the eye and asked, “Truth or Dare?” to which she replied, “Truth.”

“Why don’t you like your stepsister?”

Anastasia made a face and then shrugged. “I don’t know, really. And I’m not even all that sure that I don’t like her. We were just thrown together at a bad time in both of our lives, and my mother didn’t make it easy for us to get along- in fact she made it downright easy for my real sister and me to be perfect little bitches to Ella, so...” She shrugged again. “It wasn’t her fault, and it wasn’t really mine- although, more mine than hers. I guess I never really got to know her when we were growing up, and I’m civil to her here, but she’s not the kind of person I really like hanging out with. We used to, though, because Will and her husband are friends. She’s just too...”

“Good?”

“Yeah. I mean, I get being a good person, but that whole unfailing optimism thing is just so exhausting. Anyway, your turn, and I’m not even going to ask- you get all Truths until I say differently," she said, confirming his earlier thought. "Tell me about Amara.”

“That’s not a question.”

“Yes it is, now tell me. Tell me everything.”

“Amara was a dark sorceress even when I was a young boy. People say she had been there for a hundred years even before then and she never aged, so I honestly have no idea how old she really was. She was feared by all, but I wanted revenge on my father, so I went to her to ask her to teach me. She saw my aptitude and took me in. She raised me from that point on and taught me everything I know of magic. She... thought she loved me, and she took me for a lover as soon as I came of age.” Anastasia wrinkled her nose in disgust. Oh, ick! That was more than a little weird, right? You take a kid in off the streets and raise him like your own, teach him your own craft, and then as soon as he grows a mustache you jump on him? That sounded kind of wrong to her. Something about the way Jafar had said it made her think that it didn’t quite sit right with him, either. He, however, didn’t notice Anastasia’s reaction, and kept right on speaking. “If you’re looking to blame anyone for my ruthlessness, blame Amara; it was she who taught me to do whatever was necessary to get what I wanted, including murdering innocent people. She thought it would be the two of us who would work the spell to change the laws of magic, but I didn’t quite feel like working with a partner- at least for that time- so I harnessed her power and turned her into my staff. She loved snakes," he added absently. "I believe you met her shortly after she reemerged, probably acting like she was an innocent in all of that unpleasantness.”

Anastasia stayed silent, taking in his words, and when she didn’t pose a follow-up question or comment Jafar took it as a signal to continue. “Anastasia, Truth or Dare?”

She had been pondering his story, but in order to continue the game Anastasia smiled at him and answered, “Truth.”

Jafar thought hard about his next question. He had revealed a bit more about his past than he had intended to, and honestly a bit more than he had ever wanted to, and a part of him was itching to lash out at her and make her pay for the impertinence of her question. A flash of memory from Wonderland shot through his mind, and he sat forward as he asked. “The Jabberwocky said you lived a life of fear. Explain that.”

Anastasia’s eyes flashed, and she seemed to shrink a little bit into the corner of the couch. The Jabberwocky. Now there was a memory of Wonderland she would rather forget. “I would have thought she explained all of that herself.” Her voice wavered, and she hated it.

“Not the stuff about the Knave or the crown. Before that. What happened in your life to make you so afraid?”

For a moment Ana’s eyes slewed toward the vodka. It might be worth it to take a shot and not answer. But it was the past, after all, and it couldn’t hurt her now. Fear stabbed through her even at the thought of her mother, and along with the fear, guilt for leaving Drizella. She wondered what had happened to Drizella, how bad her life had been after Ana had left for Wonderland. But she had seen no sign of her- of either of them- over here in this world- not to say that they couldn’t pop up at any time- but even if her mother could see her now, what of it? She couldn't hurt her. She had been Queen, damn it.

But you're not anymore, are you? You should be so lucky to be my chamber maid. You're so lowly you're a shop girl. Pathetic.

Anastasia screwed up her face and huffed out a sigh, visibly turning away from the vodka. No, she would answer this. Her mother had no control over her anymore. “My mother was... ambitious. If I was kind I would say she only wanted the best for us, but I’m a realist, and I know that she really only wanted the best for herself, and she knew that the better we looked, the better it reflected on her.”

“Who is ‘we’?” Jafar interrupted.

“Me and my younger sister Drizella. My father was a merchant, and he was brilliant- everything my mother wasn’t- but he died when we were young. My father’s work gave us a comfortable life, but my mother always wanted more. From the time we could understand, she began drilling it into our heads that we needed to find a prince to marry. Our entire worth as human beings was wrapped up in whether or not we were acceptable to men, particularly royal men. When we failed, over and over again- mostly because it’s impossible to fake your way out of how little money your family actually has- my mother berated and punished us to the point of breaking us. The Jabberwocky was right; I lived a life of fear, fear I would never be enough, fear I would never be loved, fear I would never make it out from under my mother’s thumb... But I’d like to think I’m past that now. I know I at least did something better than my mother ever thought I was capable of- she wanted a princess; I became a Queen.” She ended with a victorious smirk.

For his part, Jafar was astounded. How on earth could anyone ever make Anastasia Tremaine feel insecure, especially where men- even royal ones- were concerned? And for that to be one of her deepest fears? She had played him like a fiddle, and she had barely even tried. With a little cough to clear his throat, Jafar began, “I know that the scars we receive in childhood are often the hardest to come to terms with, but believe me, my dear, you need have no fear of your... acceptability to men.”

“Thank you, darling. That’s very sweet of you to say," Anastasia said, feeling heat flush up her neck and cheeks. She tried very hard to tamp down on her by-now natural response to flutter her eyelashes at him, and she was never actually sure if she succeeded. "Now, since we’re unearthing all of our childhood traumas, tell me why you needed to take revenge on your father so badly.”

“I daresay you’ve learned what I did to him?” Anastasia nodded. “It was more than personal for me. Of course I wanted him to pay for the pain he put me through- the shame and humiliation and degradation- and of course, the attempted murder- but as I grew up I started to realize he must have done something utterly horrible to my mother. She was such a good woman, she would never have willingly been with a married man, not even the Sultan. And she would never have done anything to hurt the man I thought was my father. I don’t remember much of him, but I remember how much they loved each other. But still, she kept the Sultan’s secret- never asking for anything in return except- I’m sure- for protection for me when she was gone because she told me he’d promised to take me in. When I grew old enough to understand all this, what he had to have done to her, and probably more than once, since he’d known at once whose son I was when I presented myself to him, that’s when my plans for revenge really began to take shape. At first, I had contented myself with the thought of killing him, then I added in killing his son in front of his eyes. I added in a few decades of captivity and torture for good measure, then, finally once I’d changed the laws of magic I made him love me, just to see if it would even affect me after all this time. I admit I teared up a bit, but even with the spell he was going on about how love had to be earned... had his precious Mirza ever done anything to earn his love? That boy wouldn’t have known how to run a nation if he’d been tutored by Winston Churchill. But, really, that was just the warm-up. What I really wanted, what I needed, was to see the look on his face when he was betrayed by someone he loved. The look in his eye as he drowned was all the revenge I needed, for me and my mother.” There was a look of peace in Jafar's eyes as he finished speaking that was scary when you considered the subject matter, but it also convinced Anastasia of the answer to her next question before she even asked it.

“You loved her very much, didn’t you?”

“It’s not your turn to ask a question.”

“Just answer it, Jafar. You’re on a roll.”

Jafar sighed. “Yes. My mother is the only person I have ever loved in my life and the only person who has ever really loved me, at least that I can remember. My other father died when I was five or six years old, so I only remember him slightly. Is that sufficient? Can I ask you now?”

She wanted to reach across the couch and take his hand- he looked so lost for a moment- but instead only answered him. “Yes, go ahead.”

“Anastasia, Truth or Dare?”

“Truth.”

“Why did you choose the crown over love? If you were so scared that you’d never be loved, then why take the risk?”

“Well, to begin with, I didn’t want to admit it, but I wasn’t happy in Wonderland with Will. I wanted to go back to Sherwood, but he kept insisting that as long as we were together everything would be all right. But I didn’t know how he could think everything was all right when we were starving, and I was clearly unhappy, and he was just brushing it off. I just always wanted more; it was hard to ignore that feeling in the best of times when it’s been bred into you, but on an empty stomach the urge is completely undeniable. And when the circumstance presented itself, it was just kind of hard to turn down. And I did get cold feet right before marrying the Red King, but Cora was there and talked me through it. She made me believe in myself and see my self-worth in ways that my mother never did, and in a way that was how I started to see being Queen- becoming the real version of myself. After the initial shock to the system it was easy to say that Will was part of Anastasia’s life, not the Queen’s, so I didn’t even need to think about him. Besides, I knew that he would never forgive me for what I’d done, so there was no hope of getting him back. It wasn’t until you entered the picture, with your promises of being able to change the past that I thought I might be better off with Will instead of the crown.”

“And how’d that work out for you?”

“You’re sitting here with me, aren’t you?”

“Touché.”

“Now, Jafar, darling, speaking of changing the past, why didn’t you just change the past so that the Sultan accepted you all those years ago? You could have been a member of the royal family of Agrabah, maybe even Royal Vizier by now. Or even better, you could just go back and make your mother not die.”

“I considered it for a moment, but revenge was so much sweeter. I had to make him pay. If not for my sake, for my mother’s. Besides, if I had not been forsaken by my father I would not have grown into the man I am today, and excepting this latest foray into the realm of the genie, I quite like the man I am. I don’t think I would trade my experiences just for an amoral ruler’s acceptance. As for my mother not dying... she was very sick, and unfortunately the healing arts are not my specialty. I doubt I could have saved her even if I had tried. If I had gone back to that time I would have just relived her death, and that would not have been beneficial to anyone.” He let the words hang in the air for a minute before asking her, “Truth or Dare?”

“Truth.”

“Why did you never marry Will? Did you never want the whole American Dream thing here in Storybrooke?”

“Honestly, Will and I had our ups and downs from the very start. I think we liked the idea of being together more than we liked actually being together. Don’t get me wrong, I loved him, but we were just wrong for each other. We were just kids when we were first together, and we really grew up while we were apart- in two different directions. We just didn’t want to admit it. I’m glad we didn’t try to force a marriage or kids because it just would have been wrong. We were fighting like cats and dogs towards the end. And, yeah, eventually I guess I want what every girl wants, but it’ll have to be on my terms, and if it doesn’t happen that way, then it won’t happen at all.... Now, Jafar, have you been with anyone since Wonderland?”

“Yes; in fact, my last mistress was rather unhappy in her abusive marriage and wished for, shall we say, repetitive stress relief. She quite understood that I couldn’t do anything about falling in love, and she didn’t need that. She was rather good-looking, and it had been quite a long time for me, so I didn’t mind- believe me, I’d been living in fear that someone would wish for that the whole time I’d been a genie. Unfortunately, her husband eventually caught on to her, and the poor woman did not survive that particular scuffle. Why she didn’t just wish him dead, I’ll never know.”

Anastasia snorted. “Because you’re bloody gorgeous and you show up suddenly out of the blue telling her you’ll do whatever she wants. It’s a grown-up fairytale, right there.” My first instinct would be to shag you, too.

“And you, Ana? Have you been with anyone since Will?”

“No. I haven’t even been close. I don’t know why. I’ve been on some dates, but nothing’s gotten that far. Guys in Storybrooke just don’t... I guess, so far no one’s impressed me.”

“Really?” he asked, a playfully suspicious glint in his eye.

“Really.”

Really?”

“Yes, really, Jafar, why is that so hard to understand?”

“I just want to know, if you’ve been as chaste as you say you’ve been, why you have a box of condoms in your nightstand?”

“Oi!” Anastasia cried, reaching across the couch and slapping Jafar across the chest. “Why do you know what’s in my nightstand?” He laughed at her, and playfully grabbed at her wrist as she moved to slap him again. They began to play-fight and tumble around the couch.

“You leave me alone in your house so often, and you expect me not to snoop?”

“Well, you weren’t much of a snoop if you didn’t see that the box of condoms wasn’t even open! They’re probably expired by now!” They tussled and wrestled, jostling for position until finally Anastasia came to straddle Jafar. The wrestling stopped, and she looked into his eyes, hers as stormy as the ocean outside her cottage, his as black as pitch. He held her wrists down by her hips, and she licked her lips. No one was laughing now; they were both almost in a state of suspension, barely breathing, barely blinking. After a beat, she spoke, her voice low and hoarse. “Jafar, Truth or Dare?”

“Dare.”

“Kiss me.”

Chapter Text

He had been holding her wrists down at her sides, a position of dominance from their impromptu wrestling match, but after looking into her eyes for a long moment Jafar ran a hand up to cup her face, breaking eye contact only at the very moment his lips touched hers. It was all too much, and Anastasia couldn’t help herself; she whimpered against his mouth and let herself sink down into his lap, making another little mewling sound as her core settled down against his erection starting to make itself obvious against the fly of his jeans. Jafar moaned, too, and as his mouth opened Ana took the opportunity to slip her tongue inside. The kiss intensified rapidly then, as their tongues thrust and their bodies began to move together, completely subconsciously. Anastasia ran her hands along his chest, up his neck, through his hair, while Jafar moved the one that was not guiding the kiss to the small of her back, gently guiding her hips' movements as their bodies came together over and over again.

Not content with just kissing one area of her, Jafar slid his lips across her face to her cheek, to her jaw, making Anastasia shiver when he licked and sucked the little hollow under her ear where her jaw met her throat. She moaned and tossed her head back, making Jafar smile wolfishly as he placed big, wet kisses that would probably leave marks on her all along her lovely white throat. As she leaned back to allow him access her lower body scooted closer to his, and he bucked his hips up into her, earning himself another little noise of pleasure from her. God, if he could only bottle that noise and save it for later! He held her around the back with both hands now, and he leaned over her so that his upper body was draped over hers. For the time, at least, Anastasia was lost to the sensation, and that was fine with him. He pulled her up closer to him, into more of a sitting position and pulled the collar of her t-shirt to one side to expose as much of her shoulder as he could. At first, he began to kiss her there, but not too much longer after, the kisses turned to licks and sucking, and this time he was intentionally marking her. His feelings from Wonderland returned. She was his. Only his. For now, he would put his markings where they may not be readily visible just in case this was only a game to her, but this was not a game to him. Anastasia Tremaine was his, and he was hers. She could mark him back wherever the hell she damn well pleased.

When he was done, he lazily licked at the spot- nicely coloring now- and kissed her long and deep again. Then, with a smirk and a cock of his eyebrow, he asked, "Anastasia, Truth or Dare?"

She smirked right back at him, her lips puffy from kisses and her shirt stretched out of shape by his questing mouth. She looked sexily messy, and he had to stop himself from grabbing her and kissing her again. Anastasia bit her lip and pretending to consider, but when she took too long, Jafar bucked his hips under her, and she gasped, rolling her eyes back in her head. "Dare," she whimpered, her hands coming to rest on his chest.

Jafar's eyes turned black with desire as he considered his Dare. He knew what he wanted, but he also knew she had the option to turn him down. And they were having fun, yes, but... was it too much? He looked into her eyes, as dark and stormy as he'd ever seen them. She wouldn't say no, would she? It wasn't so much, was it? Anastasia's hands roamed over his chest as he thought, paying special attention to the nipples that were clearly erect under his t-shirt, and Jafar closed his eyes against the sensation. If he didn't ask her soon things might progress anyway... He might as well... When he spoke it was almost as if being tortured, and his words came out in a hoarse whisper. "Touch me."

She didn't react for a second, and Jafar was terrified that she was going to deny him, but soon enough she gave a little rock of her hips and leaned forward to whisper in his ear. "But, dear Jafar, I am touching you." He could feel the smile on her lips against his neck, and soon enough she was kissing him there, leaving tiny kisses up and down the side of his throat and still running her hands along his chest. But as her kisses moved more southward, so did her hands, and as she began to pepper his chin and jaw with little pecks, one of her hands landed right where he had wanted it- where he needed it- and began to rub his erection through his jeans. The sound that escaped his mouth was not the most manly, but it had been a long time since anyone had even remotely thought about his needs, and seeing Anastasia's hand there on him, even though they were dressed, even though this was just a game, was in itself an utterly satisfying experience. She continued to kiss him, at times passionately on the mouth, and at times playfully around his neck and chest, but the whole time she continued to let her hands and mouth roam. And though he was grateful for the contact, he was beginning to wonder if that was as far as she was willing to go. Until, that was, she moved into a new position, and not breaking the kiss she was giving him, began to use both hands to undo his fly.

Oh, thank you, whatever gods are listening. Thank you so much.

When she did break the kiss, she didn't say a word, but she did slip from his lap so that she was kneeling in front of him on the floor. Jafar was too stunned to say anything, but he did comply with her unspoken command to scoot forward. When he did, she finally opened his jeans, and very gently removed his very erect cock from its confines. He fought the urge to close his eyes and lost; he wanted to see everything, but he was too overcome with sensation to do anything else. Did he imagine it, or did she make a little mmmm noise? For his cock? After he had recovered his ability to hold his eyes open he met her gaze, and she smiled at him.

With her thumb, she smeared the liquid that had already spilled from the tip all around the head, and Jafar groaned. Anastasia smiled victoriously, and, her hand now slippery, began to pump him up and down.

Jafar thought he might die. It had literally been a hundred years since anyone but himself had touched him like this. And, yes, for pure mechanics intercourse was technically better, but there was such an intimacy in this- especially in the way Ana held him and looked and him and the sounds she made; he could feel that she was doing this because she wanted to, not just because she'd been dared to or for some other reason. He could feel that she cared about him. At least he thought he could. And he was fairly sure his suspicions were confirmed when her blue eyes took on a devilish twinkle and she began quite innocently kissing the insides of his thighs.

No. She's not going to, is she?

She looked up at him again before she did it, holding his cock in one hand and silently asking him the question. When no answer came, she kept hold of his cock and then gently ran the flat of her tongue along the length of the bottom of it.

Now Jafar was sure he would die, and he was okay with it. He cried her name and fell back against the couch, unable to stand the pleasure. No one had ever done this for him. He could feel her smile as she continued to lick all around his shaft, but he almost jumped out of his seat as her tongue circled the head and finally dipped into his little slit, licking up all of his pre-come. She laughed a little at his reaction, but placed her hands on his hips to keep him down. It wouldn't do to have to explain a broken nose as an oral sex accident.

After she was sure he was acclimated to the sensations, she sank her mouth down over him, taking him into her throat as far as she could. Pretty soon the two of them had worked into a rhythm, and Jafar sighed contentedly, letting his hands come to rest in her hair. If he had thought a hand job was intimate, this was infinitely more so, and his adoration for Ana was growing by the second. He could see how this could be used as a merely sexual act, but the way she was doing it now didn't feel that way; it felt like she was doing it because she cared about him- maybe even because she might feel about him the way he felt about her. For the first time he considered that Anastasia might reciprocate his feelings and his heart swelled. Hope wasn’t an emotion he was used to feeling, but at this moment he hoped he was right. He hoped so very much.

It was getting harder to concentrate and harder to keep from bucking into her mouth, and Jafar began to wonder how he was supposed to end this whole thing. Of course he knew how it ended, he just didn't know the proper way to go about it. What was the protocol on these things? Did he excuse himself to the bathroom? This was why fucking was easier in so many ways. There was never a question of how to end. Luckily, Anastasia was once again his savior and chose that moment to pull her mouth off of his cock with a soft pop, and in between loving little licks, she asked, "Jafar, Truth or Dare?"

Now? Really? He didn't understand, and he didn’t want her to stop. His cock ached for her mouth, or at least for her hand to move on him instead of just hold him, but he figured she knew what she was doing.

"Dare...?" He hoped that was the right choice.

Anastasia smiled up at him and kissed the tip of his cock, making him shiver. She waited until she was sure he was looking her straight in the eyes before issuing her Dare. "Come."

Jafar's eyes went black, and if it was at all possible his cock got even harder. Though it was difficult to focus, he decided he wanted to watch Ana at her work and tried his hardest not to close his eyes no matter how overwhelming the pleasure became. She began to suck on him again, and this time Jafar had no reservations. He let himself experience every little bit of pleasure she could give him, and though her hands still held his hips down she let him rock them a bit. The feel of her hair between his fingers made him feel closer to her than he actually was, and as he watched her, he felt a pang of longing so sincere it was painful. Soon enough, though, he could feel his orgasm building and with it a kind of panic; he still didn't know what to do. Ana had asked him to do it, though, so apparently she did. The closer it got the more he wanted it, and he tried to warn her, but either she didn't hear or she didn't care because as it approached she took the hand that had been resting on his thigh and began to caress his balls.

And that was when he lost it. He saw a flash of Ana moving her mouth as far down on his cock as she could before he was blinded by the most intense orgasm he'd ever encountered, and then he felt it- he was coming inside her. All sorts of thoughts flashed through his head, but the one that stood out the most was that he now understood why so many men were so obsessed with this particular act.

Before he could even register what had happened, everything was over, and Ana was gently tucking his flaccid form back into his jeans.

"You might want to zip that up yourself," she said, flushed and out of breath. "I'm afraid of snagging anything sensitive, Mr. Commando." He simply looked at her with a dazed expression, and when he continued to be silent, she started to look down, embarrassment making itself known on her pretty features. He needed to say something, and fast, but his mind was heavy- almost as heavy as his tongue. Instead he held out his arms.

Ana crawled into his lap immediately, thankful that she hadn't just blown him just to have him turn that vicious Jafar sneer on her. There was always that chance, after all, when dealing with Jafar that he was not who he was pretending to be. Still, it wasn't like him at all to be completely silent. "Are you all right, Jafar?" she asked, noticing a tiny love bite darkening on his shoulder at almost the same exact spot where he'd marked her. She knew hers would be considerably larger and probably not concealable unless she wore a turtleneck. Underneath her, Jafar's body began to shake with laughter.

"My dear, I don't think I've ever been more all right," he said and kissed the top of her head. "Just a bit dazed, is all."

"So you enjoyed our little game, then?" she asked, nuzzling against him and trying to hide the embarrassment that still flamed up her face. It had been a long time since she’d been with a man, after all, and being greeted with silence, and then laughter was not exactly the response she had hoped for.

Jafar grinned and leaned down to kiss her. "Oh, very much so."

Chapter Text

Anastasia and Jafar sat there, cuddled together for some time, occasionally kissing lazily, and running their hands over each other’s bodies, but eventually the aftershocks of what had just transpired wore off, and Ana began to shift in Jafar’s lap. What do I do now?, she thought as the awkwardness of the situation started to make itself known, and Ana tried to cover up her confusion by placing yet another kiss on Jafar’s neck.

She felt rather than saw his smile; it seemed to warm his entire being, and he wrapped his arms tighter around her. Kissing the top of her head, Jafar gently squeezed her against himself. “You know, Anastasia,” he murmured into her hair, “I couldn’t possibly let you go to bed tonight without at least trying to return the gift you’ve given me.”

Oh. Oh, boy.

Ana, whose heart rate had been coming down in the moments since Jafar had come, suddenly felt her eyes widen and her stomach drop. She turned to face him and was immediately stilled by the predatory grin on his face. For a moment she could do nothing but stare but as soon as she got hold of her senses she licked her lips and smiled right back at him.

“Is that right?” she asked with a cocky quirk of her eyebrow. Jafar only nodded, and an irresistible urge to kiss him took over Anastasia. This time there were no timid little pecks or chaste little nibbles. The kiss was passionate from the very beginning, and soon enough, Jafar had maneuvered their bodies so that he had laid them out on the couch, his body over hers- at least as well as he could on Anastasia's small piece of furniture. Both Anastasia's and Jafar's outside legs hung off the couch, and when tried to rotate his arm to get a better grip on Ana's shoulder- also protruding from the couch due to an abundance of throw pillows along the back- his hand knocked into her Christmas tree, very nearly toppling it. In between kisses and touches and moans and growls Ana began to giggle. "Perhaps," she murmured breathlessly, "we should move this into the bedroom." Jafar stilled and held her gaze for a moment as if to make sure she was serious, but when she didn't renege her offer he simply stood and offered her a hand up.

Before they could make their way to the bedroom, though, it seemed that they had to stop nearly every two feet for a whirlwind make-out session. Against the refrigerator, next to the linen closet, right outside her bedroom door... Every step was too far to go without touching or kissing. Jafar held her right below her hips, a spot he had fallen in love with during their time together in Wonderland, and pulled her flush against him. Anastasia sighed every time, and kissed him with a passion he had never known was possible. Once inside the bedroom Ana walked backward, kissing Jafar the whole time, until the back of her knees hit the bed and she sat down. From that position she ran her hands along his hips and then around to grab his ass. Jafar grinned and placed his hands on her arms to still her, though he did let out a contented mmmm sound.

Anastasia smiled up at him and released her grip to scoot back on the bed. She turned her big eyes on him and with a coy twist of her lips and a playful little beckoning gesture she asked him to join her there. In no time Jafar moved to cover her body with his own, and soon enough he was moving against her, his cock rapidly hardening again as she writhed underneath him and wrapped her legs around his waist. He growled as he rutted against her, and she moaned his name in a hoarse whisper as she dug her nails into his back, but when she snaked her hand between them and tried to undo his fly he stopped her.

"Not this time, love," he crooned as he kissed up and down her neck (Here come more hickeys). "This time is for you." He framed her face with his forearms and looked down at her, and she cocked an eyebrow at him, a clear sign for him to show, not tell. Jafar grinned wolfishly back at her and, after planting yet another kiss on her lips- he simply could not seem to stop kissing her- he shimmied both of their bodies closer to the middle of the bed. When they were both safely situated with no body parts hanging over the edge of the mattress, he began to set about his task in earnest. "Now," he said with a lick of his lips. "Where were we?"

Ever so lightly he ran his hands from her neck, over her collarbone, to her shoulders, and down her arms. Though she was still fully clothed, Anastasia shivered, and goose bumps were fully visible under her short-sleeved t-shirt. Jafar took in every detail of her as he touched her, looking for any little difference he might find from Wonderland, for he still remembered every tiny detail from their time together there. Slowly, his hands traced the bottom hem of her shirt, and her stomach flinched at the feather-light touches, goose bumps popping up there as well. He chuckled a little at the instinct, just as Anastasia fought- and lost- the urge to giggle from his attentions.

"My darling Anastasia, are you ticklish?" He ran his fingers under the t-shirt and concentrated more on her sides, and the giggles increased, much to his amusement and adoration.

"No, please, you can't!" she cried in between peals of laughter and made to pull down the hem of her shirt, but Jafar only moved his hands deeper inside, and instead of tickling her now, his large hands encircled her rib cage. Ana's laughter stopped and she gasped as she felt the heat of him holding her so securely and tenderly, his thumbs gently caressing her bra line. She looked at him for a few moments before reaching out to touch his face, her thumb rubbing across his cheekbone before she leaned up to kiss him. While the kiss progressed she reached behind her and unhooked her bra, the act causing her breasts to be thrust upward as she did so. Jafar watched the process with rapt attention, and helped to hold her torso up as she wrangled the unruly garment first off of her shoulders and then away from her perfect breasts.

Once the bra had been flung on the floor, it was time for the t-shirt to come off, too. With deft hands, Jafar removed the top, pulling it over her head in one smooth movement; she doubted her hair was even messed up. It took a bit of nerve for Anastasia to fight her instinct to cover herself now that her torso was completely exposed to him, but she let him look at her. It’s nothing he hasn’t seen before, she reminded herself, and Jafar’s eyes glowed with want. The way he looked at her sent shockwaves straight from her stomach down between her legs, and she impatiently rubbed her thighs together, trying to ease some of the pressure that was building at their apex.

Jafar’s hands immediately cupped her breasts, and when his thumbs ran over her erect nipples she whimpered. Oh, it’s been far too long since anyone’s done that! She hoped after tonight she wouldn’t have to say that about very many things any more. Grinning an evil grin, Jafar let one hand wander down Ana’s side. She whined at its loss until she felt his mouth, hot and wet and perfect, come first to lick and then to suck at the nipple that had just been abandoned.

Anastasia moaned Jafar’s name as he began to suck in earnest, and her hand came to rest at the back of his head, buried in the curls there. Oh, even his hair feels perfect, she thought, writhing underneath his ministrations, his mouth on one breast and his hand on the other. But as good as she felt now, she knew she needed something more, her body telling her even now as her hips- quite of their own accord- rocked up and down on the bed in rhythm with Jafar’s sucking. She took his free hand, the one that had been where his mouth currently was, and began to move it lower down her body, past her stomach, just to the top of her jeans, fumbling with the button fly...

Jafar’s hand stopped moving and his mouth let go of her nipple with a pop. In a rather annoyed split second Ana thought, Oh, great, I’ll probably have a hickey there, too.

“What’s the matter?” she managed to ask without sounding as frustrated as she felt.

“Nothing, my darling,” Jafar answered, licking and soothing her breast. All that was doing was proving to drive Ana mad. “I simply have other things in mind.” She was about to ask him if these other things actually involved getting her off or if this was actually just some elaborate revenge scheme when he began to move down her body, placing tiny, wet kisses on her skin as he did so. He kissed her other breast (it screamed for more), her rib cage, her concave stomach, her hip bones, the skin just above the top of her jeans.

When he was far enough down on the bed so that his head was about even with her hips, he began to slowly unfasten the buttons at the fly of her jeans. For every button that came undone he placed a kiss along the exposed skin or the fabric of her thong, and once all the buttons were open Jafar pulled the jeans down her long legs, leaving her completely naked save for the flimsy scrap of her thong. He ran a single finger down the length of the thong’s fabric, gasping as his finger came away damp. “Oh, Ana,” he sighed, turning his head to place an open-mouthed kiss on the inside of her thigh. She was wet already- and wet for him. Despite his earlier vow that this time was not for him, Jafar couldn’t help himself when he reached down to rub himself through his own jeans. He couldn’t remember a time when a woman had been this ready and wanting for him. Ana squirmed a little as she waited for him to continue his ministrations, and he refocused on his task. Although it was pretty, the thong had to come off, and with a quick slide down Anastasia’s legs it was gone, joining her other clothing wherever it had fallen on the floor.

Jafar grasped her thighs and gently pulled them apart as far as he could. He sighed at the sight of her. It had been too long. Even though their time in Wonderland had been short, he had never forgotten a single moment they had shared together, and he had never thought he’d be able to have her again. He’d thought of her and the way he’d had her countless times during his long stretch stuck in the bottle, but now here she was, alive and real and wanting him and he could hardly believe his eyes. He ran a single finger through her folds, aroused and humbled all over again that she was so wet already simply from wanting him, and Anastasia made a little mewling sound as she bucked her hips against the touch, clearly wanting more. Jafar smiled as he continued to caress her. He had more in mind, alright.

The first touch of his tongue to her clit sent electricity all through Ana’s body and caused her to cry out in a way Jafar only wished he had recorded; it was the most erotic sound he had ever heard, somewhere between surprise and pleading and gratefulness. When the next sound he heard was her sobbing his name he was in heaven and he began to lap at her in earnest.

Anastasia was lost to pleasure, and she tried her hardest to rock her hips to direct Jafar’s focus right where she needed it. He held her swaying down with one arm (the better to prevent a broken nose with), and though at first she was put off by the constriction Anastasia came to enjoy the extra pressure against her pubis. Still, she needed more. Jafar’s tongue was talented, and he was enthusiastically licking and sucking, occasionally drawing her clit in between his teeth in a move that caused her to arch her back and beg simultaneously for him to stop and also to never let go, but still she need more. Her body ached for him.

As if sensing her train of thought, Jafar suddenly thrust a finger inside of her. Anastasia cried out and arched her back as far as she could with him on top of her. “Oh, Jafar!”

She could feel him grin against her as he paused in his ministrations, but she was too overcome to do anything but follow her body’s rhythms. Her hips met his lips’ and tongue’s movements and his finger’s thrusts and her breathing came in shallow pants. This was so close to what she had been missing, what she had been needing. She wanted to hold him close, but in this position there was really nothing she could hold on to. She contented herself with burying her fingers in his silky hair. They continued that same way for several minutes, and it felt good- so good, but Anastasia knew she needed something else, something more. God, has it been so long that I don’t even know how to get myself off anymore? Again it was Jafar who knew exactly what it was she needed and when.

For a moment he removed his mouth from her and looked up into her eyes. “Are you close, my dear?” Anastasia only looked back at him, nodded and caressed the back of his head where she held it. Her throat was parched from so much panting. Without breaking eye contact, Jafar then slipped a second finger inside of her and watched as her eyes rolled back in her head, delighted as she moaned. He allowed her to ride his fingers for a moment, to take him in as deep as she wanted, and his cock twitched when she bottomed out and began to move up and down.

Finally, she managed to let out a mangled, “Please,” and Jafar began to move his fingers inside her and bowed his head to lick and kiss her again. Within moments the combination of sensations had her fisting the sheets and panting shallow little oh’s and Jafar’s, and it wasn’t very long at all until the pants became cries, and finally the cries became one short, sharp shout of his name. She tightened around his fingers inside her, pulsing in a way that fascinated him, and her stomach muscles quivered slightly.

When it was over, Jafar removed his fingers from her and gently kissed her stomach. Oh, he was in trouble. If he had doubted or questioned it in the past, there was no doubt now. At the very least, he was entranced with the Red Queen of Wonderland, but he knew there was a very, very real chance that he was absolutely in love with her.

Chapter Text

Holding her now in the afterglow was the most peace Jafar had felt in a very long time. This is what had been missing from their time together in Wonderland, this time to simply be. Jafar kissed the top of Anastasia's head and let himself wonder if this was what it would have been like if he had succeeded in taking over Wonderland. He had played that scenario through so many times, but never had his imaginings ever come close to being as sweet as this. She had initiated everything tonight; was it possible that Anastasia wanted him as much as he wanted her? Ana sighed and turned over in his arms, nuzzling against Jafar's chest. He held her there as well as he could in their current position, and despite the early hour, he found himself suddenly so comfortable and so at peace that he wanted to simply drift off, only waking when the morning light was already streaming brightly through Ana's big bedroom windows.

After a while positions changed once again, and now Ana was half on her stomach and half on her side, her arms gathered underneath her, and when she felt him start to move toward her, she looked out at him from under the fall of her hair, only one bright blue eye visible. "Hello," she murmured before stretching her whole body.

Jafar took in the sight with deep appreciation; he very much doubted if he would ever tire of watching the way Anastasia's body moved. "Hello," he responded as she snuggled closer to him and he brought in his arm to begin to stroke her back. She twisted so that she could look up into his eyes and smiled a cheeky little grin.

"So that wasn't exactly the way I planned on spending my Thursday evening."

"Do you regret it?" Jafar asked, though with the way her still naked leg was wrapping around his clothed one, he tended to think she didn’t.

"No."

"Good."

"I don't, either," Jafar reassured her.

Anastasia smirked. "Well, of course you don't, darling. You got to make out with me."

"You know," he said, looking down at her with smiling eyes, "one of your most striking characteristics is your humility."

Ana could only laugh. "Yes, I know. In fact, it's a trait we share."

"Oh, yes. Definitely." Jafar nodded sagely, and Ana crawled up his body for a quick kiss.

They lay there together in companionable silence for a while, needing nothing more to entertain themselves than occasional kisses and Jafar's light stroking of her hair and back. It was actually quite domestic, and Jafar was brought back to his thoughts from the night before. Had he ever really stopped wanting her to be his? Obviously, he hadn't known she was alive, but if he had, would he have tried to go after her? He had never put an emphasis on love in his life, but that had also been before he had experienced it- contrived or no. She may not have known what she was doing in Wonderland, but he did, and he had felt the results of her loving him. He was man enough to admit that just that tiny window of time, that little fragment of love had been enough to prove to him that he needed love in his life, and he wanted her. Of course, the genie thing had put a damper on any plans he might have had for love, and the failure of the spell to change the laws of magic had meant Anastasia's final death- or so he'd thought.

After a while Anastasia broke the silence. "You were telling me the truth tonight, weren't you? About everything."

"You didn't take any shots, so I assumed you were satisfied with my truthfulness."

"I'm not talking about if I was satisfied. I'm talking about the actual truth. You told me the real truth, didn't you?"

"Wasn't that the point of the game?"

"Yes, but... I suppose I'm just used to you getting around the truth with me, like you never trusted me enough to be straight with me. Unless the truth hurt, then you gave it to me in spades, but normally when I've needed you to be straight with me it's been like pulling teeth."

"I've had a hundred years to think about things," Jafar said, his voice heavy with regret. "And, remember, I thought you were dead so I thought I would never have the chance to make anything up to you. I've spent the whole time since we last saw each other forced to serve other people's whims and forced to face just how selfish most of my actions were. To see you again is the one bright spot I've experienced in my whole time as a genie, and to be with you like we are now is beyond anything I could have ever asked for. Besides, I owe you honesty. I mistreated you terribly in Wonderland when you were the only one who even ever gave me a chance." He struggled to come up with the right words and fumbled with his hands to try and help to illustrate that. Eventually he just shrugged. "I'm just a bastard, and I guess telling you the truth is my way of trying to make it up to you."

Anastasia ran a finger along the edge of Jafar’s golden bind, and she watched as he shied away, a frown forming on his face.

“You really hate those, don’t you?”

Jafar sighed and replaced his arms around her. “I hate everything about being a genie.”

Ana turned in his arms and kissed his chest. “Tell me about it.” Jafar began to shrug, but Ana continued. “That’s a question. Tell me all about your life as a genie.”

“I don’t know why you want to know. It’s the most degrading, humiliating experience… When I have a master I’m at his beck and call at all times. When I’m in between masters I’m in limbo. It’s a life of serving everyone but myself. That’s supposed to be my penance for being such an awful, selfish human being.”

"What's the worst thing anyone's ever wished for?"

"A man wished his entire family- wife and three children- dead so he could instead run off with his mistress who was half his age."

Anastasia's eyes went wide. "Did you do it?"

"I had to. But like most of the murders people wish for, I made all of the evidence lead back to him. Last I heard he was serving four consecutive life sentences somewhere in Minnesota."

"Could you be wished free?"

"I don't see why not. I've heard stories of it being done before. And after all, isn't that the point of all those rehabilitation fairy tales, anyway? Find someone who cares so much about me that they give up something valuable of their own- a wish in this case- so that I can have something I want- my freedom. It's Beauty and the Beast in its own way."

"Hmm... I never thought of it that way, but it makes sense."

"Believe me, I've had a lot of time to think of nothing else but ways to get out of that blasted bottle."

"Is it really stuffy in there?"

"No," he conceded. "It's actually quite comfortable, just not for years at a time. Sometimes I'm in there for less than a day in between masters, and sometimes it's several years. This is the longest I've been out of the bottle without granting a wish since I was cursed. So, thank you for that."

"You're welcome, darling. It's been nice having you to talk to again."

"Just to talk to?" he asked with a cocked eyebrow and a smirk. Anastasia smirked right back.

"Well, among other things, darling."

She moved up his body to kiss him, and he kissed her back, all thoughts of sleepiness flown from his head. Their kisses were electric, shooting heat across their skin and through their bodies even as their hands continued to roam and explore, lighting little fires along their paths. They both wanted more, but there was a problem- one that Anastasia was in no little hurry to correct.

“You, darling, are still completely clothed, while I am completely naked,” she pouted, pulling at the hem of his t-shirt. “Now what are we going to do about that?”

Jafar sat up and Anastasia straddled him, and with a swiftness just this side of magic she managed to extricate him from his shirt in record time. Her eyes held a triumphant glint as she took in the sight of him, and she ran her hands over him greedily, making sure to test his reaction when she caressed his nipples (she was glad to see he was sensitive there). He fumbled a bit with his shoes and socks while she bowed her head and tentatively licked him there, and she was pleased to hear his jagged intake of breath as she did so.

But topless was only the half of it, and Anastasia knew there was other work to be done, so for the second time that night she set to work unzipping Jafar’s jeans. When he hissed she was afraid she’d snagged something important, but luckily it was only the sound of blessed freedom because he was getting hard again, and lengthening before her very eyes, and oh, wow, was he beautiful.

She left the work of pulling the jeans down his legs to Jafar and took his cock in her hand, slowly pumping it up and down, and she was rewarded with a strangled cry of her name as she did so. When Jafar had completely divested himself, she let go of him, but placed a tiny kiss on the head of his cock before looking him in the eye.

“There. Now we’re even.”

Jafar ran a hand down her bare shoulder and she shivered. “And what are we to do in this… even state?”

She grinned at him wickedly and ran a hand through his chest hair and down, down, down… “Oh, I’m sure we’ll think of something, love,” she whispered.

He pounced, then, pushing her down on her back, and she laughed as he ravaged her with kisses. The laughing stopped, however, when she felt him come to rest on top of her, felt his erection, hot and hard pressed against her belly. She bucked up against him, and he guided his cock through her wet folds enough to tease her but not into her. She moaned and he gave a wolfish leer as she wrapped her legs around him and they fell into a rhythm.

They wrestled like that- fooling around and teasing but not quite fucking for as long either of them could take it, but when Jafar finally took his cock in hand and positioned himself at her entrance, she stopped him.

"What would you do to me if I told you no tonight?" she asked, and her eyes were so clear all of sudden he couldn't tell if she was serious. She bit her lip and looked up at him for an answer.

His voice was strained as he answered. "Ana, my love, are you telling me no right now?"

"I'm asking you a question. You promised you would answer all my questions." Jafar groaned. Not her silly vendetta for unanswered questions. Not now. Not when he was so hard even the thought of being inside of her was nearly enough to set him off.

"If you told me no tonight- which I dearly hope you won't- I would go back to my bottle and violently masturbate and honestly, probably cry, possibly at the same time, but I would leave you until the morning, at which time I would pretend that I had passed a lovely evening and ask you if you'd slept well."

Anastasia smiled at his honesty and had to resist the words, "I love you, Jafar," as they bubbled up in her throat. Instead, she let him feel the words as she kissed him, long and hard and passionate, and she pressed her body against his with as much intention as she could muster. When she finally broke away she looked him in the eye as she told him, "I'm not telling you no, love."

Chapter Text

"Do you have any idea how beautiful you are?" he wondered, and Anastasia only ducked her head and scooted closer. When she raised her head it was to kiss him, long and passionate, the short lull over. Jafar raised a leg over her hip and swayed their bodies so that they were now both on their backs, his body on top of hers, and Anastasia moaned, loving the feel of him there. Without her knowledge, her hips began to rock in a desperate attempt to allow his cock entrance, and by chance shifting of the bed she almost got her way. They both stopped as they felt the head of Jafar's cock so close and looked into each other's eyes.

Anastasia's hips gave a tiny little pump against him while she stared at him intensely, her bottom lip caught her teeth. After a gentle and loving caress of her face to replace a stray lock of hair, Jafar asked her, "Are you ready, my darling?" Ana nodded, a hand that had been clutching his hips sliding forward and gently gripping his cock, guiding it home.

Jafar hissed and Anastasia gasped as he entered her. As he slid further and further inside her he uttered some choice profanity, only to hear it being echoed by his partner. Jafar smiled against her skin, and when he was fully inside of her, he kissed her so soundly he felt that he was as entwined with a person as he ever possibly could be. She sighed his name, and when they began to move together, she clung to him, her nails digging into his back.

She breathed into his ear, and he could hear every sound she made, every little, "oh," and, "ah," and, "Jafar," and he thought he might go mad- thought he might in fact die. She sounded as gorgeous as she looked, and she felt even better than those two combined. As he pumped himself into her he ran his hands everywhere he could reach, though he admitted a weakness for tangling in her hair. Anastasia kissed him quite soundly, and when she pulled back there was a predatory glint in her eye.

"Lay back, love," she commanded, her fingernails scratching through Jafar's chest hair and grazing his very erect nipples.

At first he didn't understand, too dazed from all that was going on between them, but after she repeated her request he knew what she wanted. They both whimpered a bit when he left her entirely, but as he lay on his back and looked up at her, he knew that something special- something that had definitely not happened in Wonderland- was about to happen.

She straddled him and took him inside her slowly, and for a moment was completely still, a low moan escaping her lips, but after a second she began to move back and forth, and Jafar was greeted with the most beautiful sight he'd ever seen. His eyes skittered back and forth from her face, a look of pleasure so intense it was almost pain, to her breasts, one of which was being fondled by her own hand, to the place where their bodies met, where Anastasia was now setting the pace- steady and driving. He let his hands settle on her hips but did not guide her; she knew what she wanted, and he was content to let her have it. She was far too precious to interrupt, especially when she was sighing his name as if he was doing any of the work other than meeting her rhythm.

Far too soon for his taste she was draping herself across his body, leaning down for a kiss and then panting in his ear with a little self-deprecating laugh, "I'm tired." They stayed like that for a few minutes, with her lying on top of him, Jafar pumping into her slowly as they lazily kissed and Anastasia regained her breath.

When Anastasia had begun to buck her hips back against his, Jafar flipped them back over so that he was on top of her again, and this time he began to fuck her in earnest. Ana cried out and dug her nails into his back, her legs coming up to circle his hips, holding him close to her. Every cry, every noise from her drove him on further, harder. As she continued to scratch at his back, he bent his head and took one of her nipples in his mouth, earning him another scream. One of her hands left his back and planted itself on the back of his head. Oh, she was amazing. He needed her so very, very badly.

After he began sucking at her breast Anastasia seemed to lose a bit of her rhythm, her motions taking on a sometimes jerky feel. Jafar smiled as he lightly bit her nipple ("Please, Jafar!"). He knew what Ana really needed. Snaking a hand between their bodies, he found her clit, swollen and practically begging for his touch. As he began to rub it Anastasia nearly sobbed, her hips pumping with renewed vigor. Oh, he wanted her to come. He wanted to feel her orgasm all around his cock while he was inside her.

Almost immediately, her movements became sporadic and her cries became shorter and less articulate- more pleading, and after only seconds Anastasia came with an enormous cry.

"Jafar!"

He felt her pulse all around him, and though he tried to keep pumping through it there was no way to describe the pleasure it brought him, let alone the pleasure of hearing his name on her lips at the time of her orgasm. Jafar tried to keep his composure but it was a losing battle, and before the last aftershocks of her own orgasm had even faded Jafar's own overtook him, and he was holding on to her hips for dear life, praising every deity known to him, and emptying himself into Anastasia Tremaine, the beautiful woman who lay beneath him crooning nonsense like, "Oh, love... Oh, Jafar..." over and over as she stroked stray, sweaty curls out of his eyes.

When it was all over he held her close, dazed and awed and still feeling the after-effects of their coupling, and before he could stop himself, before he even had time to think, he nuzzled against her hair, kissed the top of her head, and murmured, "I love you, Anastasia."

Sleepy, Anastasia only sighed, snuggled closer to him, and placed a kiss against his chest, directly above his heart before closing her eyes and drifting off.

Chapter Text

It was still dark when Anastasia first swam back into consciousness, and she was sure Jafar was awake- and even if he wasn't conscious there definitely was a part of him that was awake. They lay spooned together on their sides, Jafar behind her and rocking into her, his erection quite insistent against her bare backside.

Anastasia pushed back against him and opened her eyes. It was still dark outside. "What time is it?" she asked sleepily.

"Late. Early," Jafar murmured, kissing the top of her head. "Go back to sleep, love. I won't do anything while you're sleeping."

In answer she ground herself back against him and began to match the rhythm he had set rocking into her. She was sleepy and warm and comfortable, and being with Jafar like this just felt good. Heat began to build in her core, and she ran a hand down her body to try and deal with some of the pressure she felt building there.

"I'm not falling back to sleep anytime soon, darling," she said, her voice husky from sleep, and she raised her top leg over his, allowing him access. It was all the permission Jafar needed, and with a grateful hiss he slid inside her in one long stroke. Anastasia moaned his name and Jafar shivered.

“Oh, my dear,” Jafar whispered, his lips coasting over her ear, “I wish I could bottle the way you say my name and save it for later.” Anastasia smiled and brought her arm up to clasp the back of his head, loving the feel of his curls between her fingers and the proximity the position afforded.

The pace this time was slow and steady, and when Anastasia’s leg tired from the quite precarious position she had initiated she turned to face him, pulling him on top of her. They kissed almost lazily, neither in a hurry to get to the end, simply enjoying each other’s body and the way they intertwined. Still, after some time Jafar felt his release approaching and was determined not to finish until Ana did, too. He reached a hand between their bodies and began to rub little circles right where he knew she needed him to, and immediately she arched her back, her thrusts taking on an impatient, demanding rhythm as she whimpered. Jafar grinned as he pumped as deeply as he could inside her, loving the play of emotions across her face as she chased her orgasm and the way she panted, “please.” She was just beginning to shake and pulse when Jafar quite suddenly felt himself stutter, a pleasure so intense he shut his eyes and stilled his hand on her taking over him as he came inside her once more.

He stayed inside her as she came, dazed by the combination of the feeling of her and the sight of her in complete rapture because of him, again capped off by her calling his name, and he had the distinct thought that had he not just had his third orgasm of the night, that very combination might have served to make him hard once again. Once the aftershocks had finally faded he gently removed himself, earning a small mewl of disappointment from Ana, and gathered her into his arms, kissing the top of her head.

“Now,” he said, “I don’t know about you, but I am completely exhausted.” Anastasia laughed, sounding as sleepy as he felt and turned so that she was facing into his chest. She snuggled into him and her breathing began to slow almost immediately. She pressed a gentle kiss against his throat, her eyes already closed.

“Goodnight, Jafar.”

Jafar stroked her hair, holding her close to his heart. “Goodnight, Ana.” He opened his mouth to tell her- again- that he loved her, but before he could he heard gentle snores emanated from next to his chest. He laughed softly and contented himself with kissing her head again. He’d told her once, and he would tell her again. Now that he was sure of his feelings- and fairly sure of hers- Jafar wanted absolutely nothing more than to make those feelings known.

When Jafar woke next the clock on the bedside table told him it was 12:34, and his nose told him that Ana was busy in the kitchen; though the door was closed he could even hear her singing softly to herself. What an absolutely perfect morning. He sat up and stretched, reaching his arms in front of himself, and all of a sudden his mood turned black as he caught sight of his binds. The night before had hands down been the best experience of his life, and he would give absolutely anything to be with Anastasia. He finally knew what it meant to love someone- to want to put someone else’s needs before his own- but that choice wasn’t his. She could at any time treat him like the genie he was. She could use her wishes; she could order him into his bottle if she got angry at him. She could just throw him away if she got tired of him.

Calm down, Jafar, he ordered himself just as he heard the bedroom door creak open. He looked up to see Anastasia, clad only in a t-shirt and shorts, carrying a tray with plates of bacon, eggs, toast, and juice. She smiled when she saw him and suddenly his fears were allayed. No, being a genie was not a perfect situation, but when she was smiling at him like that, how could he complain?

“Oh, good, you’re awake,” she said as she sat down on the bed, setting the tray down between them. “I thought New Year’s Day was a good day for breakfast in bed.”

Jafar smirked at her, eyebrows raised. “Really? This is for the holiday?”

Anastasia smirked right back, a devilish glint in her eye. “Well, darling, I figured it was more polite than saying it was Thank-you-for-fucking-my-brains-out breakfast.”

Jafar grinned at her and began to eat. “It was rather good, wasn’t it?” he asked, knowing the answer full well.

Anastasia daintily chewed a strip of bacon, affecting an air of superiority. “You got breakfast out of it, didn’t you?”

He laughed and raised his juice glass. “Cheers.” They clinked glasses playfully and finished breakfast in a lazy manner, joking and laughing. When they were done Jafar found himself on his back with his head in Anastasia’s lap. She was gently brushing his hair off his forehead, and he was so comfortable and contented he almost felt like he could fall asleep again.

“You seem happy here,” she said, after several minutes of companionable silence, and before he could say anything she continued. “Actually happy, I mean. Not like in Wonderland when you were getting your way… I’ve seen you smile more in the past few days than I ever did in Wonderland. Do you really like it here in Storybrooke?”

Happy? Was he really happy? That was something he honestly didn’t ever remember being, except maybe a little before his mother died. But thinking on it he supposed she was right, to a certain extent. With her not using her wishes he knew he didn’t have any duties or responsibilities as a genie hanging over his head, and because of that he felt freer than he had in a century. And he had discovered that one of his greatest sources of guilt- the death of Anastasia- had been reversed, so that had been a giant weight taken from him as well. Besides all that, there was the company. Even before spending this time with her and coming to realize that he did, in fact, love her, he had always enjoyed his interactions with Anastasia. So did that all add up to being happy? Maybe it did. Jafar realized with a touch of sadness that he honestly didn’t know whether it did or not.

“It’s not Storybrooke that I like,” he answered honestly, “though it’s not the worst place I’ve been. Reuniting with you has been the best thing that could have possibly happened to me, and I am so thankful that it did.” He picked up her hand and placed a kiss on the back of it, then brought it across his chest so that she was holding him. They were silent a few more minutes, Ana’s hand gently running through his chest hair, before she began to speak again, and when she did she almost seemed to be in pain.

“Jafar? Last night, you said… you said you loved me. Did you mean that or was that just a that-was-a-really-good-fuck kind of I love you? I mean, I understand if it was,” she added hastily. Anastasia held her breath inadvertently and went quite still. The answer to this question was quite important to her; the problem was she wasn’t quite sure how she wanted him to answer it.

Jafar sat up and looked into her eyes. Taking her hands, he tried to convey all of the sincerity he could- knowing full well it would be hard when he had practically made it his profession to lie to her during their partnership in Wonderland.

“I am in love with you, Anastasia. I know you may not believe me, but I was in love with you in Wonderland, though that was just a shadow of the way I feel for you now. You are such an incredible woman, and you have treated me with more humanity and care than I deserve. The fact that you seem to want me, and maybe care about me, too, humbles me and makes me feel like I could possibly be a better man. You are everything I could ever want in a woman, and, yes, I said I loved you last night, and, yes, I meant it.”

Anastasia’s eyes dropped to where their hands were joined, her thumbs rubbing along the top. When she looked up tears were shining there. “Wow,” she whispered. “That’s a lot to take in. And most people would think it mad for someone who literally killed me to profess his love to me.” She raised her eyes to meet his, stormy blue coming to meet warm brown. She smiled. “Luckily, it’s just as mad for me to love the man who killed me right back.”

Chapter Text

{TWO MONTHS LATER}

The little bell rang over the door, and Anastasia grimaced. Part of her wasn’t sure why she was even making this stop; it wasn’t as if she really needed himto make sure. A simple trip to the drug store would do it, and she was going there anyway… Still, it seemed like it just shouldn’t be able to be possible- after all, genies didn’t need to eat or sleep or any of those other human functions. But if anyone knew, it would be him…

She made her way to counter, thankful she had already checked that Belle was at the library. Bygones might be bygones, but that didn’t mean all was forgotten. Besides, the bookworm might be helpful in some respects but Ana was sure she couldn’t help with her current predicament.

“Your Majesty,” Gold greeted her, “what can I do for you?” The Imp stopped what he was doing and leaned on the counter.

“I don’t need any of your trinkets today. Today I need information. How much do you know about genies?”

Gold studied her, his eyes coming to rest on her necklace with the three gleaming wishes. “I’d daresay not as much as you do, dearie,” he said with a meaningful glance to her throat. Anastasia’s hand flew up to cover her necklace, but Gold made a calming gesture. “Relax. I know I can’t steal him, and if you thought you could keep Jafar a secret from me all this time, you have another thing coming.”

“Fine,” she said. “But I have a question.”

“Ask him,” said Gold with a bored wave of his hand.

“I can’t,” she said, looking down as she felt heat flame up to her face.

“Why not?”

“It’s personal,” she mumbled. This was a bad idea, Ana.

“Oh, now this should be good.” Gold turned around to face her, and his smile was nothing less than predatory.

“Will you answer my question?”

“What will you give me?”

“What do you want?” she asked, but she already knew, her suspicions being confirmed by his long-fingered point even before he even spoke.

“One of those pretty wishes there at your throat.”

“No, I can’t do that. I need all three of those.”

“Sorry, dearie, that’s the deal,” said Gold, not budging an inch.

“I can’t take it,” she said, annoyed but not all that surprised. Anyway, he couldn’t tell her anything she couldn’t learn another way. She had really just wanted him to deny it, to tell her she was wrong.

“Perhaps I can interest you in this instead,” Gold said, conjuring a baby rattle seemingly out of nowhere. “Solid silver mined from Agrabah. I hear it was once owned by a Sultan. You might want to keep it in the family.”

Anastasia’s heart stopped but she forced herself to smile. “Thank you,” she said as she pulled open the door. “You just answered my question.”

Once back at home three little pink sticks with plus signs had confirmed the Imp’s declaration, and after some quiet swearing to herself in the bathroom, Anastasia took a deep breath. She knew what she had to do.

“Jafar?” she called, walking into the living room where he sat reading, the sunlight glinting off of his binds. It was just as well, what she was about to do. The weather would be turning soon, and it would be too warm to wear long sleeves. When he looked up and saw how serious she was he put down his book.

“What’s going on? What’s wrong?”

“Nothing’s wrong,” she answered. “I just think it’s about time I used some wishes.” She sat on the couch with him and took his hands, smiling as reassuringly as she could. “I promise nothing’s wrong, and before I start I don’t want you to worry because I want you to know I love you very much.” She squeezed his hands even as his frown intensified.

“You realize that being told not to worry is the number one thing that makes people worry, right?” he asked, his heart racing. She couldn’t mean to make all of her wishes, could she? She wouldn’t send him back to his bottle. Not after everything they’d been through.

“I know,” she said softly, tracing his face softly and brushing his hair back before leaning in for a kiss, “but I’m serious. Let me make my wishes, and you’ll see. I would never betray you, Jafar.”

Jafar took a deep breath, looked deep into her eyes, and though he didn’t need to, repeated the traditional rhyme. “Mistress mine, my will is thine. Tell me your wishes three.” Anastasia squeezed his hands and kissed him again.

“First, I want a pre-paid credit card that will never run out of money, that has no limit, but if it’s ever stolen will only show whoever steals it a little balance so they don’t bother with it. It doesn’t have any fees, I don’t have to pay any taxes on it, and it’s never declined. I can use it for any purchase, from a pack of gum to a house, and it will always be good, no matter what. It will never expire or run out of money, and it will never attract any attention because these days everyone pays with a card. And anyone I say can use it can use, but no one who hasn’t asked me can- so, like, my family could if I allowed them to, but not a random person who found it on the street. That’s my first wish.”

As soon as she stopped speaking the card materialized in her hand and she felt a bead disappear from her necklace. Anastasia turned it over and noticed her own signature. Pretty impressive.

“Will the Lady Tremaine now be shopping for a house with a pool?” Jafar asked with a smirk. Ana smiled at him and clasped the card close to her. He had remembered her dream. That earned him extra points.

“Quite possibly, but first I have a question for you. If I were to wish for health and a long life for my family, would that include people who technically aren’t my family yet?”

“Who do you mean?”

“Well, I would mean my future husband and my future children. Could I wish for their health, even if I don’t have a husband or children yet?”

Jafar thought about it, seeming to hold congress with the genie intellect in his brain, and after a few seconds he answered, “Yes, I think that would count.”

“Then that’s my second wish- for good health and long life for my future husband and my children.” There was no mistaking the way her eyes lingered on him when she said “future husband,” and apparently the wish was granted because the bead disappeared from her necklace. At that discovery she very nearly ruined her surprise by placing a hand on her abdomen, but instead she scooted even closer to Jafar on the couch and gave him a long, passionate kiss, grabbing the back of his head like she thought he might try to run away. When he heard what she had to say next he just might.

“Jafar,” she whispered in his ear, “I love you very much.”

Figuring he was out of the woods now, with two wishes down and just a baleful look over the words future husband, Jafar nuzzled against her and murmured back, “I love you, too, Anastasia.”

Now. Do it now while he’s vulnerable! Ana’s brain screamed, and before she could chicken out she sat back and looked in his eyes. “Jafar, I wish you free.”

There it was, the third wish. The bead disappeared from her necklace, so she knew that even if it didn’t work there was no going back. She was terrified. She may have just sentenced the father of her unborn child to an eternity of slave labor.

For a moment Jafar sat completely still, struck dumb by Anastasia’s words, after interminable seconds there was a tiny creak, then a pop, and his binds swung open, falling off his wrists. A louder pop followed, and they looked up just in time to see the bottle vanish into thin air. Anastasia jumped up and gasped, her mouth falling open, and though she covered it with both hands, she couldn’t stop the raucous laughter that bubbled out of her throat. Jafar’s eyes were wide and dazed as he turned his wrists over and over, examining them. When he finally looked up at her it was with something close to awe.

“You freed me,” he said in wonder, and when he stood to hold her the dazed look in his eye turned to admiration. “Why?”

Ana was still giggling, and Jafar’s silly question did nothing to stop that. She pulled him in close and kissed him deeply. “Because I love you, and because we couldn’t have a life together if you were a genie. And besides,” she said, dragging his hand from the small of her back and placing it low on her stomach, “because our baby needs to have its father.”

Jafar took a step back-the shocks just kept coming today- but kept his hand on her stomach. “That’s why you wished for…?”

Ana smiled and nodded. “That’s why I wished for…”

“I need to buy you a ring,” he muttered, still staring into space and holding on to her tightly.

Anastasia only smirked. “You can borrow my card.”