Part 1 of 1
"We should make camp here," Mulan states as she peers around the immediate area. There is a stone surface beneath the trees that creates two separate levels of earth. The rocks jet out a bit from the soil as the roots wrap around them in intricate weaves.
Behind Mulan on the make shift pulley, Emma lays wheezing and twisting about in what appears to be agony. Silent agony.
"It's hardly even dusk," Aurora mentions as she turns her horse around leading the mare towards the trees Mulan and Snow have already hitched their steeds.
Mulan surveys the area again before moving towards Aurora, her back to Snow and Emma. She grips the make shift saddle and pets the golden mare's neck. "Emma has gotten worse," she whispers, her eyes staring at the Princess' leg, unable to meet her blue eyes. "We must stop here for the night."
Aurora doesn't say a word; she looks over Mulan's shoulder at mother and daughter before dismounting her mare with Mulan's help. The Princess smiles her thanks to the female warrior but Mulan has already walked away, back to her stallion. Mulan pretends she does not hear Aurora's deep sigh as she takes her canteen. As she straightens up Mulan watches Snow White brush matted locks of wet blond hair behind Emma's ear as she kneels at her daughter's side.
It seems private. It makes her uncomfortable. "I shall go and collect fire wood and find a stream. We need more water." Mulan takes Aurora's offered canteen before making her way stiffly towards Snow.
Mulan watches as Snow uses the last of her water to cool down Emma's fever, drizzling some onto her forehead while using the rest to wet a ripped strip of cloth from her own outfit to hold against Emma's head.
Mulan looks up and meets Aurora eyes over Snow's shoulder for a moment. She sees the Princess' concern shinning in her expressive crystal blue eyes. Mulan can also see fear. Fear that they will be too late.
"Here…thank you." Snow breaks the silence as she offers up two canteens for Mulan to fill. The fear Mulan can see in Aurora's eyes are matched in Snow's. It is too much. Mulan looks away. She does not have time to think the worst.
They need to make camp for the evening before it becomes too dark. There needs to be fire wood collected, and she needs to search the perimeter to make sure there are no ogres. She cannot dwell on the sadness she has seen shining in her companions' eyes.
"I shall return shortly." Mulan promises them as she makes her way from camp. She moves deeper into the woods, careful of what might lay beyond what she could physically see. While moving Mulan's mind drifts back two days prior when for all their good intentions the worst happened.
Emma had been fine for the greater part of their travels. They followed Hook to his beanstalk knowing there was the promise of a compass that would lead Emma and Snow home. Mulan did not understand where home was for these two women but felt obligated to protect them. They were allies against the woman who killed all of those friends that Mulan had made in the last year. Cora had killed all the ogres had not. All Mulan had left were these three women and she would do her utmost to protect them. Especially Aurora. She owed Phillip that much.
When they'd found the beanstalk Emma made Mulan swear to cut it down after ten hours. Thankfully Emma returned in time to stop her from hurting Snow to keep her promise to Emma. Snow was determined to never lose Emma again, and although the mother daughter bond between the two women was odd due to their similar ages, Mulan did not doubt the bond existed. It was new, barely a flicker on the candle's wick, but there was a great deal of love between the two of them already. It would just take more time to cement the bond.
When Aurora had looked for Hook Emma explained that he would not be moments behind her. Mulan begrudgingly grew to respect the blonde for doing what she felt she had to. It took a great deal for her to trust someone let alone respect them. But Emma had already begun to find a way past Mulan's natural suspicious walls.
It was only five hours into their journey away from the beanstalk when Emma became disoriented. Emma stumbled over her own feet and was having trouble seeing what was two feet in front of her. Emma tried to wave off their worry over her but her pulse had jumped, racing as if she had just come from battle. Her cheeks flushed with color and her body began to tremble with a fever. It hit far too quickly to be natural. There was magic involved. Mulan had felt it.
But what magic it was she did not know. It wasn't until Emma began to pant after only climbing up a small hill, bent over while losing the content of her stomach that they knew she was putting on a brave front for them while feeling very ill. Emma collapsed and began rolling down the hill they had all just climbed. Snow had screamed and dove after her daughter, grabbing her and keeping her from continuing her tumble. With Aurora's help the three of them dragged Emma back towards the tree-line.
That afternoon Mulan went to get water and searched for several roots, herbs, and plants that would help the young woman wake. Much like she seemed to be doing daily. Once she had refilled their canteens she went searching for herbs her grandmother had taught her about as a child. Thankfully she found several substitutes, like sida cordifolia (mallow), ephedra sinica (ephedra), rosemary, and Eucalyptus globulus (eucalyptus). She just needed to boil some of them together in a satchel and it would help them keep Emma from fainting again.
The search had taken time but it was time well spent. The moment Emma had awoken she slapped the satchel of herbs away from her immediately, coughing at the potency of it. With the assistance of the herbs Emma was able to remain awake and upon her feet for an hour before she fell into another fainting spell. By that hour Mulan and Aurora had set up camp for them to stay in for the duration of the evening.
There was a tension in the air surrounding their camp that evening as Snow watched over Emma. Every few moments Aurora would spare a glance at the sleeping blonde and Mulan would be forced to look away from watching Phillip's Princess. Instead she focused on her needle and thread. They needed a way to travel through the woods, even if that meant pulling Emma across the ground. None of them were strong enough to carry Emma over their shoulders for a great length of time and distance. They needed a pulley of some sort. While Aurora tended to their evening meal, and Snow attended to Emma, Mulan spent a good chunk of the twilight hours collecting the supplies she needed.
While Mulan was cutting and re-stitching her bedroll to create the pulley while taking the first watch of the night Emma woke screaming in pain.
Even now, a day later, Mulan still shivered at the memory of hearing Emma's blood curdling scream.
Mulan had dropped her needle and thread, her hand reaching for her sword immediately. It sounded as if the woman was being torn limb from limb. There was no one there, no one but the Emma's three allies watching on in horror. Snow dropped to her knees first, trying to wake Emma from whatever it was that was making her scream in such pain. No matter how hard Snow shook her daughter she continued to scream and began jerking and spasming. Mulan had stepped closer and felt the heat of Aurora's arm against her own as they stood side by side by the ailing blonde.
When Emma's eyes popped open and she stared up at the night sky unseeing Snow screamed her daughter's name. Aurora fell away, her eyes as transfixed on Emma as Mulan's. Mulan tore her eyes away from Emma and met Aurora's eyes for but a moment. Then she kneeled above Emma's head and held it still as Emma's body continued to tremble and jerk. They all watched as Emma clutched at her own chest, her body spasmed uncontrollably and tears streamed down her face. Even as she seized her lungs released the horrifying screech.
When they heard the groans of ogres in the distance Mulan had to stuff a cloth in Emma's mouth to keep her quiet. Emma's agony had startled all of them and they hadn't been thinking. Mulan wasn't quick enough. Emma's screams caught the attention of many ogres.
Thankfully Mulan had nearly finished the bedroll. She did a half-ass job in tying the bedroll to a sturdy branch, rolled Emma into it, and attached it to the back of a horse they'd found after escaping the beanstalk. She put Snow and Aurora up on the horse, attached the makeshift pulley to it and sent the three women on their way. She stayed behind and made as many traps for the ogres as she could. As she created the traps to trip the clumsy creatures she erased the tracks of the pulley to the best of her ability.
They'd made it out of the woods safely but they needed to take shelter in what remained of King Steven and Queen Cinderella's castle for the rest of the evening. The debris of the once magnificent castle made Snow misty eyed. Apparently the Queen had attended many a balls here in this very hall as a child with Prince Steven and then later in life with Princess-turned-Queen Cinderella. Mulan had no sentimental connection to the broken stone and fallen walls and kept her wit about her.
By the time they arrived at the devastated castle Emma had finally quieted down, but was still running a fever. Snow had left what remained of the main hall—where they had set up their camp—and went to the infirmary. Aurora had volunteered to look after Emma. Aurora had no intentions of sleeping, not when they were all becoming plagued while they slept. While Aurora looked after Emma, Mulan had gone to the armory and stocked up on weapons.
During their evening Snow kept the small satchel with the herbs on hand, so that when any of them began to fall asleep they would wake at the faintest whiff of the herbs. With Aurora having dreams of Emma's son and waking with burns and Emma now stuck in what they could only imagine as a horrifying world of pain and misery, Snow and Mulan swore off sleep too.
Mulan did not need Snow or Aurora to fall asleep and enter a world where she could not follow them.
In the morning at dawn, after a night where only Emma slept, they decided to make their way further on. They couldn't stay here for a second night. The tracks they'd left the night before were too easy for Hook to follow. Thankfully there were horses roaming the lands.
Mulan hadn't thought it was safe to try and ride the wild mares and stallions but she had been outvoted. To Mulan's amazement Aurora was able to calm the wild beasts and saddle them up with ease. They found extra saddles in what remained of the castle's stable.
Watching Aurora speak with the wild equines under the orange and yellow hues of morning was a magnificent sight to behold. The Princess eased up to the beasts and after speaking with a softly spoken whisper she was able to pet the snout of a wild animal as if she had known it all her life. The mare had even bowed before her.
Seeing her amazement, Snow made a crack about how each Princess had a talent with certain animals, or at least so it seemed. Snow had the same calming ability over birds, specifically blue birds, Cinderella could calm and enchant mice, and it seemed Aurora was a natural equestrian.
With horses for each of them, and a forth for Emma when she was well, it was easier to cover their tracks. They kept off what once were the main roads and traveled in the fields where the wild horses had roamed freely. Mulan did not know where their new destination was but Snow was set upon a specific area. The warrior had warned Snow that the men and women of that area had been gone for 28 years. There were no healers left to help fight the curse that Emma was being afflicted by but still Snow was insistent. Mulan only agreed in the end because it put further distance between them and Hook.
Before they made it to their destination Mulan noticed Emma's head swaying from side to side faster and faster through the day. It was when dusk was nearing that she called for the other women to stop and found them a decent camp site for the evening.
Presently, with a half dozen branches in her arms Mulan continues on her way, the canteens bumping against each other, the water she collected from a nearby stream sloshing back and forth. Mulan fears that if they do not find someone to help Emma soon they would need to put Aurora in danger by making her sleep so that she could communicate with Henry. He was where all the known healers of this world had disappeared to with Queen Regina's curse. If they have him speak to one of the healers they can find a cure for Emma. It could save Emma but damn Aurora. Those are odds Mulan is not willing to play with. Mulan does not wish to put Aurora in that type of danger but she knows when the time comes she will be outvoted. Aurora is that type of selfless person, a downfall. One that Mulan knows Prince Phillip fell in love with Aurora over.
Arriving back in camp, Mulan gasps. She drops the branches from her arms as she rushes to where Snow and Aurora are unmoving upon the ground.
Snow groans as she turns onto her side. The Queen's hand moves to cover the back of her head. Seeing Snow awake and somewhat aware—she gasps Emma's name—Mulan focuses instead on,
"Aurora!" Mulan drops to her knees and brushes away the long brown locks of the Princess; above her eye upon her forehead is a thin line of blood. The Princess does not move. "The smelling salts." Mulan mutters.
"Emma, Emma!" Snow calls out as she stumbles up to her feet.
"Snow!" Mulan calls out, forcing the other woman to look at her, her hand already out and open, waiting for the satchel. "The smelling salts!"
Snow tosses her the satchel and makes her way towards the tracks Emma has left behind. Mulan waves the smelling salts beneath Aurora's nose and is relieved when the Princess shoots up and stares unblinkingly at her.
"What, what happened?"
"You do not remember?" Mulan immediately worries that the head wound is worse than it looks.
"Emma, she was talking in her sleep. Saying things that I did not understand." Aurora looks at her hands before meeting Mulan's eyes again. "What is electricity…and something about a, a lab…a laboratory?"
Mulan blinks, "I do not know."
Aurora digests this quickly before she continues.
"She woke up, but her eyes. They were black. It was like she wasn't herself. She attacked Snow when she tried to touch her. It looked as if she was going to hit her again, but she pulled away in pain gripping her head and her heart. I tried to stop her from leaving and she hit me over the head with…something," Aurora recounts, blinking confusedly at the ground before meeting Mulan's eyes. "We have to find her!"
Mulan looks up and sees that their other companion has already left their camp site, and the bow and arrows are missing as well. It takes Aurora two attempts before she can stand, and only while leaning against the tree behind her does she stand. Aurora will slow her down, Mulan knows this, but she does not leave the Princess' side.
"Well, what are we waiting for?" Mulan doesn't think Aurora is steady enough on her feet to join them. Even if she did leave the Princess the stubborn woman would come after them anyway.
With a sigh she leads Aurora slowly into the forest, her guard up and one hand on the pommel of her sword.
By the time they catch up to Emma and Snow they find themselves standing on a cliff side. The forest broke about a half mile behind them and before them is a crease in the earth. Mulan forces Aurora to stand back. For what feels like the first time since they have met, the Princess does as she asks silently and remains several yards away from the two women.
Sure of Aurora's safety Mulan makes her way quietly towards Emma and Snow. Snow is several feet away from Emma, her arms wrapped around herself. Emma is upon one knee, her head turned to the side. From what Mulan can see the woman is in excruciating pain, her teeth are gnarled and her fists are clenched upon the rocky surface of the cliff edge.
"Emma, please…step away from the edge," Snow calls out, panic stricken. It seems she is unaware of their arrival. Emma isn't as unaware as her mother. Mulan meets Emma's eyes, and she now realizes what Aurora meant by them being black. There are no irises for Mulan to focus on. It is as if Emma's eyes are not even there, leaving a void behind.
Mulan takes slow, careful steps forward. She is now only a yard away from Snow.
"He's there…" Emma's voice is husky, and she moans in pain as if saying anything at all causes her immense discomfort.
"Who is? Whose there, Emma?"
"Henry…" Emma's voice breaks.
Mulan's eyes widen as she hears Auror and Snow both gasp at the name.
"Where, where is he, Emma?"
"Stables, he's at the Storybrooke stables." Snow answers for her daughter and Emma is still and silent for several long moments. Too still. For a moment Mulan considers how Emma resembles a statue.
Mulan stands beside Snow, her hand gentle as she touches the woman, hoping she does not frighten her. Snow does not jump, does not look away from her daughter, but her hand falls and grabs onto Mulan's wrist and squeezes it tightly. Mulan wonders for a moment if she should have let Aurora step closer, come with her. Mulan is not accustomed to this type of situation. She does not know how to comfort someone who is in obvious distress. So she doesn't do anything. She just stands where she is, her free hand still on her sword, her senses open for any danger around them.
Suddenly Emma starts to seize again and Mulan has to hold Snow back from running towards her daughter. Emma is too close to the edge. Mulan too worries that another seizure will cause her to topple over it. Emma has been aggressive. Allowing Snow any closer could put both women in danger. That is something Mulan cannot let happen.
Mulan notices that Emma's mouth is open but no sound is released. Her lips move, words are formed but she does not speak them. Mulan tries to pay closer attention, tries to catch some of the words Emma is saying but her lips stop moving before she can.
Emma's moans turn into groans as she grabs at her shirt and tugs at it, her nails digging into the skin above her chest as if she wants to dig her own heart out from beneath her skin.
"Talk—talk to me. Emma. Please…please Emma, talk to me."
"Henry…" Emma groans, her knuckles turning white as she grabs at herself. Mulan wonders if she's grabbing at herself to keep from grabbing at anything else. "He's scared…so scared…"
Mulan notices tears begin to fall from Emma's cheeks as her head falls forward violently. She drops down to her other knee, her body sagging in on itself as she continues to hold onto the collar of her shirt. Her hair falls forward, blocking the sight of her face.
Mulan holds her breath as the wind blows across them, Emma's hair skirting up into its gentle breeze for a moment.
"Pain…so much pain…it hurts so much."
"What hurts?" Snow whimpers, her grip on Mulan's wrist tightening.
Emma looks up at the sky, her eyes are still black but she's blinking now. Trying to make the blackness go away. "Dark, its dark."
"No, Emma, it's light out. The sun's shining."
Several tense minutes pass where no one says anything, no one moves.
"Henry, he's gone. He's safe…" This relieves Emma. Mulan can see her lips twitch upwards before she screams, her arms wrapping around her shoulders as her body begins to seize once more. "God…I…I can't…."
"Emma!" Snow screams, trying to pull away from Mulan and race to her daughter. Mulan rips Snow back while jettisoning herself forward instead. She sees Emma stand up, unsteady on her feet, wobbling from side to side and back and forth. Mulan picks up her speed, hearing Snow's feet pounding against the rock behind her. Mulan unlatches her blade and jumps just as she watches Emma stumble over the edge of the cliff.
Mulan vaguely hears Aurora scream.
With her arm outstretched she catches onto one of Emma's sleeves. Grabbing a knife from her belt she slams it into the top of the cliff's edge. She groans as the weight of Emma's twitching body pulls on her left arm too roughly forcing her to lose her grip on the knife. She too slides over the edge with the Princess.
By some miracle Snow is right behind her, grabbing onto her ankles and stopping her and Emma from plummeting to their deaths.
Then there is a second pair of hands on her legs and they're both pulling on her, trying to lift her up but having a rough time of it. With Emma still flailing around like a fish Mulan can't do much more than hold on. When the woman finally stops, Mulan stares down at Emma.
Emma's looking right up at her. Her eyes are changing. Slowly, the blackness that was around them is fading and her deep blue eyes are distinguishable. Mulan is grateful that whatever was plaguing the woman is receding slowly, especially when Emma reaches up with her free hand and touches her cheek. Mulan is surprised for a moment and stares at Emma as her lips begin to move. This time Mulan is close enough to make out the words. "Let me go…"
"I will not!" Mulan emphasizes her words by tightening her grip on Emma's forearm, doing her best to pull the woman up towards her. But once she tries Emma's hand falls away from her cheek and she begins to seize again.
It takes every ounce of strength in her body, and some Mulan didn't even know she had, to keep a grip on Emma's arm.
"I'm LOSING her!" Mulan screams up to the two women still struggling to pull them back up. The knowledge that she's losing Emma must spur Snow on because suddenly she's being slowly pulled up inch by inch.
Mulan snaps her attention back to Emma when she feels the woman's hand on her cheek again.
This time she makes out the words, "then love again" before the hand against her cheek grabs onto Mulan's breast plate collar. Leaving Mulan puzzled further.
Emma blinks her eyes, turning her head in confusion as she stares into Mulan's eyes. The warrior watches as the last traces of blackness disappear completely from Emma's eyes.
"PULL!" Mulan screams grabbing onto Emma's other arm as the blonde notices she is hanging off of a cliff. The vein in Emma's neck starts pulsing with her sudden fear.
Mulan groans as the edge of the cliffside presses tightly against the break in her armor. Her grip on Emma stays strong until both she and the blonde are no longer dangling over the edge but lying side by side.
Snow is at Emma's side in an instant, her hands cupping both sides of Emma's cheeks as she stares into her daughter's eyes. Noticing how blue they really are, Snow smothers Emma in a giant hug. Mulan doesn't have time to think it lucky that her mother is not present. Before she can finish her thought Mulan finds herself in a similar death grip, slender arms tightly wrapped around her neck as Aurora's face is snuggled up against her shoulder even as the Princess muffles beratements,
"Crazy, foolish, deadly, brave, actions. You cannot be so selfless! You cannot leave me." Aurora whispers softly as she pulls back and meets Mulan's eyes. The Princess' hazel gaze is clouded with glassy tears.
Before Mulan can say anything Emma's hand is touching her shoulder, and she is forced to look towards the blonde and her mother. They both look at her as if they're forever in her debt, something that makes her incredibly uncomfortable.
"Thank you…" Emma whispers, her voice hoarse from all the screaming she's done in the past 36 hours.
Mulan nods once, her eyes looking to the ground to escape the sight of the two women looking at her so openly. Standing up quickly, she brushes off the dirt on her armor and goes to the edge of the cliff where her knife is still sticking up by the pommel. Sheathing that, she makes her way to where she dropped her sword and picks up the belt and secures it around her waist.
Aurora is at her side almost immediately and has linked their arms together. Mulan looks to her side, but does not look into the Princess' eyes.
"You know, it's okay to be thanked for your heroism."
Mulan does not mention how she once had the thanks of an Emperor who ruled over a land twice the size of this kingdom. She does not mention how she was betrayed and how by accepting those thanks she put a target upon her back and the backs of all those she cared about.
Instead she simply says, "I shall take that into consideration."
Aurora doesn't say anything, but by the way she stares at Mulan, the warrior knows that the Princess sees. Sees things that she is not meant to see.
Once they make it back to the forest line Mulan stops and looks over her shoulder where Emma and Snow are speaking. Snow is constantly touching some part of Emma's body, inspecting the woman to make sure that she is alright. Mulan looks away where she notices Aurora gently running the fingers of her hand up and down the length of her arm. She cannot feel it because of the armor but now she imagines the phantom touches. It makes goosebumps rise up on her skin. Still, she does not pull away.
That evening as they are sitting around the camp fire that Aurora and Mulan made and eating the rabbit Mulan caught, Snow can't seem to wait any longer for answers.
"What was all of this, Emma? What happened today?"
Mulan stops chewing on the leg she was eating and turns to Emma and Snow. She feels like she shouldn't be here for this conversation, like it's private, but she can't make herself move. She needs to know what happened so that she can stop it from happening again in the future.
"Yes, what was it?" Aurora asked, no longer interested in her meal, not that she had eaten much of it to begin with. Mulan makes a mental note that she'll have to be better about watching what Aurora eats and what she pretends to eat in the future.
"I…I don't know," Emma whispers, only because her voice hurts and she doesn't want to have to speak any louder than necessary.
"Will it happen again?"
"No." Emma shakes her head, her eyes clouding over even as the firelight dances in them. "No, it won't happen again."
"How can you be sure?" Mulan persists.
Emma turns to stare at Mulan. "I just am. You'll have to trust me." Mulan holds Emma's stare but twists her head to the side. She will accept that Emma believes what happened to her will not happen again.
Snow speaks up again, "You said you saw Henry."
"I did. I saw Henry, and David, and Dr. Whale, and…and Regina." Emma's voice breaks at the mention of Regina's name. "I was…I was back in Storybrooke."
Snow's eyes widen, "How?"
"I don't know!" Emma exclaims, one hand immediately moving up to her throat to clutch at it and how raw it feels. "I just…something happened yesterday. It was like I was being pulled to Storybrooke or something. Like part of me wasn't supposed to be here." Emma gestures to herself.
Snow moves to sit beside Emma. "What do you mean? Here in the Enchanted Forest? Emma you were…"
"No. Not here in the Enchanted Forest but here." Emma takes a hold of Snow's hand and puts it above her heart. "Like I wasn't supposed to be in this body." Emma explains and Mulan watches as shock appears across everyone's face; she imagines her own has a similar expression. "When I woke up before, I wasn't, I didn't see you. I didn't see Aurora. I mean, I did but it was like watching two movies at the same time." Mulan wonders what a movie is, but says nothing.
"Half the screen was in black and white and I could see Storybrooke and I was making my way through the side streets there towards the stables. All while the other part of me was here, and I saw you and Aurora but I couldn't control my actions. Whatever it was that I was seeing or was happening, it felt bad. It felt evil…" Emma drops her head so she's not looking at anyone.
"I was going to kill you, and I just, the fear of that shocked me enough out of it that I got some control back. But not much. It was, it was so dark, whatever was inside me was so dark and it hurt. It constantly felt like something was trying to tear me apart, that something beneath my skin didn't want to stay there anymore and was being tugged at constantly."
"You felt as though something beneath your skin was being pulled away. Was it just in one area or was it like your entire body was being pulled at?" Mulan asks, gaining Emma's attention.
"All of my body." She looks curiously at the warrior. "But it hurt most above my heart." She places her hand over said area as if she can still feel the phantom pain.
"Her what?" Aurora asks first, though it's a close tie with Snow who looks equally interested.
"Excuse me." None of these women know Chinese. "Her soul."
Everyone turns to look at Mulan. "What about my soul?" Emma asks, though she doesn't seem as surprised by this opinion as Aurora and Snow do.
"I've heard stories about witches that steal people's souls. There was a story in my village about it, a tale to warn children away from strangers. It is a long story but in the end a man escapes the witch's thrall but explains the pain of what felt like his entire body being split in half, in two, where his bodily spirit, his shen…or soul, was one and the other was what was left of his outer body. It sounds as though you experienced a pull on your soul."
"My soul, no…she wouldn't do that."
"Regina…oh yes she would." Snow mutters, her demeanor changing drastically, her aura almost black as her eyes focus intently on something unseen.
"No. It wasn't her," Emma defends quickly. "She was, you didn't see her. You didn't see the pain in her eyes, the loss, the devastation…she wasn't responsible for this. She was a victim of whatever it was."
"Cora then? But how? What exactly aren't you telling us?" Snow asks, eying Emma suspiciously.
Emma looks away but it is not with guilt, rather apprehension. "It would make sense if it was my soul that was making this all hurt so much."
"How would it make sense? Damn it Emma, talk to me."
"She called me Daniel. I was seeing through the eyes of a man named Daniel. She said that she loved him. And I could feel it…feel that love."
Snow gasps, her hand covering her mouth as she stares unblinkingly at Emma. Mulan wonders why this news is so shocking. It is not unheard of for a soul to be reborn into a different gender than that of the gender it lived as in the other life. Have people of this land not heard of such things?
"That's impossible…" Snow insists.
"With magic, what isn't possible?" Emma asks as she looks up to stare at Snow. "I felt the love wha…he-he had for her. It was so strong." Emma falters as she looks down guiltily once more, "It was what stopped him from killing her. From killing Henry. But we were in so much pain. I caused him that pain."
"A soul cannot live between two bodies. That is impossible. Even with magic." Mulan interjects knowing the tragedy that has followed when people have tried to revive a body without its soul.
"But what you're saying is, that would mean that you have…"
"Daniel's soul?" Emma laughs humorlessly. "I kept them from being together this time. I'm the reason she'll never have him again. Like mother like daughter, right?" Emma sounds broken, battered down.
"No. No. It's yours. It's your soul, it's not his. He can't have it. You can't die. I won't…" Snow begins to panic until Emma reaches out a hand and touches her arm.
"She killed him."
Again, Mulan watches as Snow absorbs this shocking information. She stares for several long seconds at Emma as Emma too stares at Snow.
"She…" Snow swallows thickly.
"She killed him to spare him the pain."
Mulan wonders what more there is to that side of the story, there is something more that Emma wishes to say but is silenced when her mother hugs her tightly. Mulan wishes to know more about the story behind this young man and why the fact that he shares Emma's soul, or once had Emma's soul, is so tragic that it has brought tears to both women's eyes.
Mulan turns when Aurora's hand grasps her. She hadn't even heard the princess move from her seat or sit beside her. She must be losing her edge. This is the second time this Princess has been able to sneak up on her.
"Don't you see?"
"No…" Mulan begrudgingly admits.
Aurora merely smiles at her as she says, "The man was Regina's soul mate."
Mulan looks to the two women and understands. The man and Emma share the same soul. What Emma wouldn't say before, what got caught in her throat, was that the love she felt for Regina was not only his for Regina, but hers for Regina as well. If the soul that possessed that body was mated to the soul that still inhabits Regina's…
Mulan's eyes widen as she turns to look at Aurora again. The woman smiles kindly and pats her hand. Aurora does so in a way that had it been done by anyone else it would have seemed patronizing. Instead it is calming.
"Keep me company for a while?" Aurora asks as she pulls on Mulan's hand and leads her towards the Princess' 'sleeping' area. Mulan follows, giving Emma and Snow time.
Later that night, Mulan watches over Aurora as she tries to sleep and Emma lies curled up in a ball with Snow only a foot away. As they all sleep Mulan listens to the sounds of the night. She wonders what time will bring to all of them. As she listens to the softly breathed name crossing Emma's lips as she sleeps, Mulan wonders what time will bring Emma and the woman whose name forms a smile across the blonde's lips.