He noticed a sudden shift in all of his instruments, and knew something had gone horribly wrong, more wrong than he ever could have imagined. An entire parallel universe on Earth just disappeared, and reappeared somewhere in the United States. And he couldn’t get a fix on how to get there; it was as though something was blocking him.
There were loads of evil characters that had lived in that world, and there were a few capable of pulling something like that off. He had his suspicions, but he had to wait. He’d check every few months, even when inside he began to give up hope. Then twenty-eight years later, he got a lock.
He pulled up all the information he could on Storybrooke, and by the time he was done checking he knew, sadly, exactly who he needed to talk to. And so he set his TARDIS down in a large backyard, next to an apple tree missing some limbs, having looked to be hacked off with a chainsaw, and a woman picking up apples.
She stopped when the doors opened and he stepped out. Oh, he knew she would recognize him. She had come to him for help before. River didn’t know exactly how right she was when she said he was the wizard in fairy tales; all of Earth’s fairy tales were based on the people inhabiting this very town, and he had to play the part sometimes to make sure things happened the way they were supposed to, especially with Rumpelstiltskin walking around making a mess of things, as was his nature. “What on Earth have you done?” he asked quietly.
She stood up, dusted her hands off in front of her and then put her hands on her hips. “I’m the Evil Queen. I’m doing what I’m supposed to do, be evil.”
“Yes, but what did you do?” he asked with emphasis, moving closer.
“I took away their happy endings,” she said, standing her ground. “I am getting my revenge, and there is nothing you can do to stop it, Wizard.”
He got up in front of her, his face full of anger. He had not felt this angry since the day at Demon’s Run. But she was not someone he could intimidate and brand a name that would make them a laughing-stock; she was evil on the level of Madame Kovarin, and he remembered bitterly how that had played out. She had played her hand, and played it well…and yet something had changed, because for twenty-eight years he hadn’t been allowed to intrude. He let the rage fade. “Your end is coming,” he said quietly.
“And just how do you know that?” she asked, crossing her arms and staring him down.
“For the last twenty-eight years I have not been able to get a definite fix on this place. I’ve been blocked.” He took a step to the side and gestured to the TARDIS. “And yet here I am today. Something has changed, something has tipped the balance of power into other hands, and that can only mean your downfall, your Highness.” And with that, he turned and began to walk back to his home.
She looked startled, but recovered quickly. “This is your fault anyway.”
He stopped, and the anger flared back to the surface. “Don’t you dare try to blame this on me,” he said, his voice mimicking a growl.
“You could have helped me,” she said, her voice rising. “You could have saved him!”
“It was a fixed point in time! There wasn’t anything I could do without unraveling time and space as you and everyone else knew it!” he said, stepping back to her, his voice rising. “What you did is beyond despicable, and it in no way eases your pain. It is petty revenge, nothing more, and I will do whatever it takes to ensure this gets fixed.” His face was scant inches from hers, and there was a tense silence before she finally took a step back. “Mark my words, your majesty, something will set things right, and I will personally be there to help it along.”
“And I’ll fight you every step of the way,” she said.
“Then I suppose this is war,” he said, turning away again. He walked away, knowing she was watching him. He could feel her eyes digging bores into his back. He was quickly strategizing, though. He needed to find out what had changed and protect it, as was to be expected of a wizard. He would turn things back to right if it was the last thing he did.
I’m not quite sure if Emma would be this trusting this fast without her special skill, so I’m playing up the fact she can tell when someone’s lying so she knows Eleven’s not lying to her. I’m pleased with this part, though, despite it feeling just a tad off. I’m also still debating if I want to get River involved, so thoughts on that would be lovely.
He had no clue what exactly the curse had done. Her vague “taking away happy endings” could mean a number of things. But the queen, or rather Regina, as she was called here, had given him no hint, used no tells. And she was crafty. If she declared war he must be extra careful. He landed his TARDIS deep in the forest, far away from the town but not so far that he could not get there easily enough.
“Not often we find strangers in the forest.”
He had just stepped outside and he froze at the masculine voice.
“That was where you found my mom,” a younger voice pointed out.
“I found her on the road, not in the forest,” the masculine voice corrected.
“Stop calling me your mom,” he heard a woman mutter under her breath, just barely audible. He turned, and saw three people before him: a younger man in a vest, long sleeved shirt and jeans, a young boy in a school uniform and a young blonde woman with a white tank top and red leather jacket. He knew immediately who the man was, and he knew he must be very careful, because Regina would keep her Huntsman on a short leash. “What is that thing, anyway?” she asked, her voice louder.
He pointed a thumb backwards at his home. “It’s a British police box,” the Doctor replied.
“Yes, but what is it doing in the middle of the forest?” the Huntsman asked. The Doctor gave him a cursory glance and saw a badge on his chest. Ah, he was the Sherriff.
“Practical joke, we thought we’d have a bit of fun. I’m a traveler. A way maker, if you will. I make a way where there is no way, and I love to leave police boxes in my wake.” He hoped that convinced him, but the skeptical look in both adults faces just confirmed he had not.
However, at that moment the boy’s eyes went wide. “He’s the Wizard,” he said quietly, pulling the woman down to him.
“Why yes, that’s one of my names,” he replied with a wink at the adults. Immediately they relaxed a bit; they had no idea it was the truth, and the fact he was humoring a boy made them a little more at ease with him. He hoped it was enough, but once again he saw something that made him stop. “Would you like to see inside my box?”
“Sure,” the boy said.
“Henry!” the Huntsman, or rather the Sherriff, said, a pained look on his face.
“It’s just a box, Sherriff,” Henry said, taking a step forward.
“Look, I’ll walk up to it with him,” the blonde woman said with a shrug. “It’s just a box.”
“Precisely,” he replied. He let them walk up, and started to unlock it. “Whatever you do, let there be no sign you see anything more than the inside of a police box show on your faces,” he said quietly.
“What?” the woman whispered.
He finished unlocking the door and opened it, and to their credit it only showed in their eyes that things were not as they seemed. He shut it quickly. “Quite boring, as I’m sure you can attest.”
“Yeah, boring,” the woman said, shrugging. “Henry, I think you should go back with Sheriff Graham now.”
“But—“ he began.
“Your mother already hates me. If she found out you followed us here she’ll think it was all my idea, and then she’ll make it harder for us to meet.” She leaned forward slightly. “I think he might have convinced me you’re right,” she added quietly, so that only he and the Doctor could hear.
“Yeah, I guess you have a point,” he said in a slightly sullen voice, but his eyes looked too bright for a disappointed young boy. “Well…bye…what’s your name?”
He froze for just a moment. John Smith was common enough, but it might also seem suspicious. “Rory Pond,” he said finally.
“Well, Mr. Pond,” Sheriff Graham said. “You need to take that box somewhere else. Don’t want someone getting locked in by accident.”
“Right, right,” he said with a nod. “I’ll find another location for it.”
“Do that,” he said with a nod. “Come on, Henry. Let me go take you back to your mother.” The two of them walked away, and he found himself alone with the young woman.
“You’re name’s not really Rory Pond,” she said, crossing her arms and then leaning her shoulder against the doors of the TARDIS.
“No, it’s not. My name is unpronounceable by human standards. You may call me the Doctor. Most everyone else does.” He opened up the door again and stood by. “I believe we need to have this conversation in private.”
She stepped into the TARDIS, and this time she allowed her eyes to widen and her mouth to hang open a bit. “We came out here because old Mr. Coates said he heard a strange sound near his hunting blind,” she said quietly. “What is this thing?”
“It’s the TARDIS,” he said, going to the controls. “Now. I gave you my name. What is yours?”
“Emma,” she said. “Emma Swan.”
“You don’t belong here,” he said, fiddling with the controls.
“No, I don’t. But Henry’s my…biological son, and he tracked me down, and so I’m here.” She started slightly. “Oh my God, I don’t know why I told you that.”
“Because you know deep down that he’s right,” he replied softly, looking at her. “This isn’t magic, though. This is alien technology.”
“You’re not lying,” she said quietly. He raised an eyebrow. “I can always tell when someone lies.”
“Ah. A very useful skill.”
She nodded. “So they really are the fairy tale characters? And you’re the wizard? But you don’t like…old. You look my age.”
“I regenerate. Most of them met me when I looked older, and when they see me they see what I looked like when they first met me superimposed on the new me, so they always know it’s me. The Huntsman didn’t know me, though.”
“You mean Graham?” she asked. “He’s the Huntsman?”
The Doctor nodded. “I can’t figure out why, though.”
“The curse. They don’t remember their lives, or at least that’s what Henry says.”
“Henry is the little boy, correct?” he asked.
She nodded. “Yes. His adoptive mother is the mayor of this town. Is she really the Evil Queen?”
“I’m afraid so,” he replied. “She blamed me for this, and while I was angry at her there is the smallest tinge of truth to it. She wanted me to save someone I simply could not save, and I left before I ensured she would not wreak havoc on the Enchanted Forest. She did this for revenge.”
“Against my mother, according to Henry,” she said.
“And who would that be?” he asked.
“Snow White,” she said. “Or rather, his teacher, Mary Margaret Blanchard.” She shrugged. “Whatever happened, it didn’t give her the right to take away their lives and stick them here.”
“I absolutely agree with you,” he replied. “And I intend to fix things.”
“I’m supposed to do that,” she replied. “I’m special. I can break the curse, he says.”
“Then it’s very good I found you when I did. After all,” he said with a smile, “it’s always good to have a wizard on your side.”
She looked at him. “So what are we going to do?”
“For right now, we’re going to learn everything we can about all of the residents here. I haven’t been able to locate them for twenty-eight years, and I don’t know their identities here, though I’ll recognize them on sight.”
“I think the first thing you should do is hide this thing,” she said.
“I did. River taught me to use the cloaking device when I had to go to the White House. I moved us somewhere I don’t think we’ll be bothered much, and we’re practically invisible now.”
“Regina’s not going to let you have free run of the town,” she said.
“Oh, I won’t be gathering the information. Every other time I’ve been a wizard, the people who need me or help me come to me. I’ll sit tight here and try and figure out exactly what kind of curse was used. I have old books on magic, many of them. I just need to find them.”
“Exactly how big is this thing?” she asked.
“Quite large. I need to figure out if the books got ruined when the swimming pool went into the library or if my girl sorted it out when she fixed herself up. I haven’t been back in there for fear that there’s still a pool in the center of the floor.”
“Ah,” she said, a bit skeptically.
“Do you have a place to stay here, or at least a way for me to contact you?”
“I have a cell phone, but I don’t have a place to stay. I got booted out of the inn on Regina’s orders. I was going to camp out in my car.”
“I have rooms,” he said. “You’re more than welcome to stay here.”
“It’s a small town. People will talk if I take off and disappear in the middle of the woods each night,” she said, shaking her head.
“I’m no longer in the woods,” he said. “There’s an abandoned campground near the outskirts of town. I’m there. It’s not too terribly cold. You can sleep in your car out there, as far as the local citizenry is concerned, and stay in here in comfort.”
She thought about it and after a moment nodded. “Fine. I guess I can stay here.”
“Excellent!” he replied with a clap of his hands. “You look to be much the same size as Amel—“ He stopped, and a frown crossed his face. “My last companion. I can show you where her clothes are stored.”
“Is it that obvious I came unprepared to stay?” she asked wryly.
“A bit, yes,” he said. “Follow me, Swan.” And with that, he lead her out of the console room and towards the living areas, briefly wondering if this was a good idea before realizing that if the boy’s words were true and she was the only hope, then he wanted her as close as possible. Her life could very well depend on it.
When Regina heard Henry and Graham come in the front door, she was still fuming about her encounter with the wizard. How dare he try and take away what she sacrificed so much for! He wasn’t able to help her then, and she would be damned if he took away the revenge that was rightfully hers. She paused at the stairs, though, when she heard mention of “the man in the woods,” knowing it was him. So. He was planning on staying. She didn’t have to make it easy for him, though. She could make his life hell just like she was making Emma’s life horrible.
“Hello, Henry,” she said with a smile. She tried to inject warmth into it, but when she was this irritated she knew it usually didn’t come off as friendly. He said hello, and after catching the look on her face looked over at Graham, then waved to the Sherriff and went up the stairs to his room. “We need to talk.”
“You heard about the blue box in the woods already?” Graham said, surprised.
“Yes. But more importantly, I knew the man who owns it. He’s trouble. He’s a con man, and we don’t need that here.” She crossed her arms. “He paid me a visit today.”
“Were there any witnesses?” he asked.
“Did he attempt to hurt you?”
“No,” she replied, her irritation level rising.
“Until he actually makes a threat, there isn’t much I can do except tell him to leave you alone.”
She shut her eyes. He was unhelpful. What was wrong with her Huntsman? Why did he always have to make things harder for everyone by being so…good? “Fine, Graham.” She made her way back up the stairs. “You had best forget about coming over tonight. I’ll be busy.” She didn’t turn around to see his face, though he expected his expression to be hurt. She had plans.
She went to Henry’s room, knocking on the door when she got there. “Henry?”
“Yeah?” came his response from the other side of the door.
“I need to go out. I made dinner. It’s downstairs. Go ahead and serve yourself, sweetie.” She knew he was probably going to sneak out and see Emma. He thought she was blind, but she knew what he was doing. She knew he was trying to make a bond with that blonde strumpet.
“All right,” he replied.
She went back to her office downstairs and got her suit jacket. Just a quick trip to the abandoned library, a quick jaunt down to her secret abode, and she could make sure she took care of the wizard. She went outside and saw Graham getting into his car. She waited for him to leave, then walked to the library and let herself in.
It was always tricky lowering herself into the caves, but she was able to do it. She immediately went to her potion ingredients. She couldn’t do much magic here, but she could do this little bit. Soon enough the potion was ready, and she bottled it up. Now all she had to do was sprinkle it around her hone and he wouldn’t be able to cross her property. It would make her a little safer.
She made her way back up and left the library. She’d taken only a few steps away when she collided into Mr. Gold. It was her misfortune to see him twice in the same day. “Gold,” she said coldly.
“Mayor,” he said with a grin, tipping his head towards her. “Fine time for a walk.”
“Yes,” she said.
“Heard we have another visitor. New people are coming from all over, apparently.” His grin widened. “Must be something in the air to draw the new additions here.”
“You can’t trust everyone you run across,” she said, a slight scowl on her lips. Mr. Gold nodded towards the other side of the road, and she turned. Emma was making her way down the street, heading towards the diner. “Why can’t she just leave?” she murmured under her breath.
“Perhaps she has a destiny to fulfill,” he replied with a twinkle in his eye that she could clearly see when she turned back to face him. He inclined his head to her again. “Have a good evening, Mayor.”
Regina moved past him, her eyes glancing back to Emma. Finally, the temptation to go do something about the woman became too much. She hurried across the road. “Miss Swan!” she called over.
Emma froze and tensed as well. Then she turned, arms crossed across her chest. “What is it now?” she asked.
“I just thought I might give you a friendly warning, that’s all,” Regina said sweetly, a fake smile on her face. “Come near my son again and I’ll make sure you pay for it.”
“You know, I’m not afraid of you,” Emma said. “And you’re not the only one with power in this town.”
Regina looked at her closely. Had the wizard gotten to her? If so, she would have to be careful. “That may be true, but I have access to more power than you could possibly dream of,” she said. “Just remember that when you’re making friends here in Storybrooke.”
“Fine,” Emma said. “Are we through here?”
“Yes,” Regina said. She pushed past Emma and made her way back towards her home. If Emma really was the savior that her precious step-daughter and foolish husband had thought her to be, of course she would align with the wizard. But that was all right, she thought to herself as a wide smile formed on her face. She would just work around it. After all, she had Graham wrapped around her finger, which meant she had the law at her beck and call. She would need to keep a tight grip on him, but she could use him to her advantage.
The Doctor managed to find the books he was looking for, but the more he read the more he realized that he couldn’t just send Emma out to do all the work. What she had done was tremendous in the three days she’d been there; he now had names, photographs and small details on all the residents who resided in Storybrooke. Henry had played his part as well, handing over a book he had with him. Whoever had written the book had paid trememndous detail to the lives of the citizens in the Enchanted Forest, and he was finding out more about their lives there than he had ever known before.
But he had come to a crossroads in his searching. He hoped and fervently prayed that there was at least one other person in Storybrooke who knew the truth, and with some help from Emma and Henry he made his way into town to the local pawn shop. A bell announced his arrival as he opened the door and looked into the darkened shop. “Hello?” he called out.
He heard the thump of a cane before he saw the person it belonged to. No doubt, this was Rumpilstilskin, though he didn’t look like he did when he had magic. He appeaered as the man who had come to him for help in locating his wife Milah all that time ago. If Rumpilstilskin recognized him as the Wizard, he gave no outward sign. “You must be the newest stranger everyone is talking about,” the man said with a smile. “I’m Mr. Gold. How may I help you?”
“I need information,” the Doctor said, coming further into the shop. “Information about something that happened twenty-eight years ago, in a place far away from here.”
“I don’t believe I can help you,” Rumpilstilskin said, spreading one hand out to the side as the other rested on his cane. “And you seem to be a studious sort. Surely you have books you can research from?”
“I do,” he replied with a nod. “But they don’t hold the information I seek. I need to know about curses, you see.”
“Well, our library is shut down, I’m afraid, and I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
The Doctor advanced on him. He had enough of this game, He needed answers and he needed them now. “You know who I am,” he said quietly. “I’ve been cleaning up your messes for years, Rumpilstilskin.”
The other man blinked slightly, and then his face grew taut. It was as though he was debating in his head whether to continue the game or fold his hand, so to speak. Finally he sighed. “Wizard, you always were a thorn in my side.”
“So you do remember,” the Dcotor said triumphantly.
“Yes, yes, I remember,” Rumpilstilskin said with a nod. “It was built into the curse. If it was ever used I would retain all my memories. I also got a promise from Queen Regina that she would do whatever I asked if I asked nicely.”
The Doctor blinked. “She must not have thought things through clearly when she made that agreement.”
“Perhaps not,” he replied with a slight shrug of his shoulders. “But I have power and wealth. I am content.” He leaned forward slightly. “I can tell you what you need to know, but at a cost. You know how I am. I do so love my deals.”
“Yes, I know,” he said, crossing his arms. “What is the terms of this deal?”
“I know Miss Swan is working with you. I’ve seen her playing private detective in town, gathering information for you. The deal is this: keep her safe from Regina’s wrath, and I will tell you everything you need to know. She is the only one who can break the curse, after all.”
“Why is that?”
“She’s the product of true love,” Rumpilstilskin said. “What her mother and father had was pure, true love, the most powerful magic in the world. It was rather rare for anyone to find their true love in fairytale land, and for them to have children was even rarer. Not everyone was entitled to a happy ending, even with their true love by their side.”
The Doctor nodded. “I promise I will keep her safe. I’ll start accompanying her on her excursions here in town.”
“That will do nicely,” the other man replied with a nod. He turned then and went into his back room. When he came back out a few moments later he was carrying a small leather bound book and a case. “The book will tell you everything you need to know about the curse. Unfortunately the only way to break it is by the Saviour doing something showing she understands true love, and even I don’t know what Miss Swan can do to break the curse specifically. The case contains her father’s sword. As the Wizard, it would be best coming from you rather than me. I want to keep my part in all of this as quiet as possible, if I can.”
The Doctor took the book and the case. “I will keep your role in all of this to a minimum,” he said with a nod. And with that, he turned to leave.
“I will admit, I am curious about something,” Rumpilstilskin said, and the Doctor paused a foot away from the door. “How did you manage to escape the curse?”
“I’m not from your world,” he said as he turned around. “I only come when called; the rest of the time, I reside here, in this place.”
“Ah,” Rumpilstilskin said. “You aren’t magic, are you?”
“I’m an alien,” he said. “From another planet, in another part of the universe.” Then he shrugged slightly. “That’s all there is too it. I wasn’t in your world when the curse was unleashed, and so I escaped. I couldn’t find this place until a few days ago, and I’ve been looking for twenty-eight years.”
“It coincides with Miss Swan’s arrival,” the other man replied. “As I said, she’s the best hope you have of the curse being broken.”
“Then I’ll hold up my end of the deal.” He lifted the book up in a form of a salute. “I’ll see you later.”
“I rather hope not,” Rumpilstilskin replied as the Doctor opened the door and left.
“Have you seen that new man in town?” Ruby quietly asked the two people sitting at the counter of Granny’s Diner, Sheriff Graham and Mary Margaret Blanchard. “He seems kind of…odd.”
“I haven’t spoken to him past my first meeting in the woods a week ago,” Graham said, keeping his cup of coffee in between his hands.
“I have,” Mary Margaret said before taking a bite of her pancakes. It was a rather chilly Saturday morning, and she was enjoying her breakfast at the diner and the company of her friends. Graham had been doing the same, though he had been keeping an eye on Emma, who was sitting in a booth nearby, looking over a book. “He seemed pleasant enough when I talked to him, though.”
“Yeah, but he says the oddest things. When he came in here, he asked me for fish fingers and custard.” She made a face. “When I’d figured out he wanted fish sticks and pudding I was kind of grossed out. Who eats those two things at the same time?”
“Maybe he wasn’t going to?” Graham said, pulling his attention away from Emma. “It’s not nice to gossip, Ruby.”
“Yeah, I know, but two new visitors in a week is kind of something big, you know?” she said, going back to wiping down the counter. “And speculating on them is more fun than anything else in town at the moment.”
“That is true,” Mary Margaret said with a slight smile. “Not much happens here in Storybrooke.”
“This town is dead. What I wouldn’t give to live somewhere else,” Ruby said with a sigh. “But I’m stuck here until Hell freezes over.”
Emma suddenly closed her book, left her money on the table and left. Ruby, Graham and Mary Margaret watched as she left the diner and went across the street to meet the new man in town. “Perhaps now is a good time to get to know him better. If you two will excuse me.” And with that, Graham left. He stepped outside, checked to make sure he wasn’t going to get hit by a car as he crossed the street, and then went over to the two of them. “Hello. Glad you decided to stay, Rory,” he said to the man, offering his hand.
The Doctor shook it. “Seemed like a nice enough town.”
“I heard that you know our mayor,” Graham said. “She says you’re a con man.”
The Doctor looked insulted. “I’m nothing of the sort! We met a long time ago and disagreed about a few things. She just doesn’t like me.”
“Well, I believe it would be in your best interest if you steer clear of her.”
“I intend on it,” he said in a huff.
“And I guess the same warning applies to me?” Emma said, crossing her arms and raising an eyebrow as she looked at Graham.
“It should, but since Henry wants to spend time with you I don’t think it can be helped,” Graham said with a smile. The expression on Emma’s face didn’t change. “Just be careful around her. I know about what she had Archie do with those files. He told me the truth. If she wants to, she can make your life hell.”
“Tell me something I don’t know,” Emma said with a sigh. “It kind of sucks sleeping in my car.”
“At least you’re not in a tent,” the Doctor replied with a grin.
“Maybe I can see if Regina will relent and let you both stay at the inn,” Graham said.
“You must have some kind of pull with her to think you can do that,” Emma said, shaking her head. “Something beyond just being the Sheriff.”
He shrugged slightly. “If I do, that’s my business.”
She looked at him, then her expression softened. “Sorry. I’m just not used to having someone do something nice for me.”
“It’s all right,” Graham said with a grin. “I’ll ask, see if I can convince her that two frozen bodies in the woods won’t be good news for the town.”
“Thank you,” the Doctor said with a nod. “We appreciate it.”
“Well, I’m off. Even in a town this small there’s always something for the Sheriff to do.” He nodded towards the two of them. “Have a good morning, the both of you.”
“Thanks,” Emma said as he turned and left. When he was out of earshot she turned to the Doctor. “You know, I don’t know if us staying at the inn is a good idea. Then we won’t have a reason to go out into the woods.”
“I know, but we don’t want to alienate any allies we might have. I’ve read that book of Henry’s. The Huntsman knows mercy. That’s why he let Snow go. And he lost his heart in the process.” He paused. “I’ve been thinking I might try and find it.”
“Find his heart?” Emma asked, surprised.
The Doctor nodded. “I may not know everything about human emotions, but I see the way he looks at you. Queen Regina isn’t stupid or blind. She can probably see it, too. If we can keep him as an ally, I want his heart somewhere where she can’t reach it. Preferably safe on my TARDIS.”
“Do you have an idea of where to look?” she asked as they both began to walk in the opposite direction of the Sheriff.
He nodded. “Henry said something about a crypt in town that looks like something in his book. I think I’m going to poke around there, see what I can discover.”
“Won’t you need a key?”
“I have something better,” he said, pulling out his sonic screwdriver and grinning. “I’m going to head to the cemetery. Why don’t you go into the diner and listen to what they’re talking about?”
“Newsflash, Doctor. We’re the big news item around here.”
“Well, then talk to Snow White. Err…Mary Margaret. It wouldn’t hurt to count her as an ally while wee try and fix this.”
“She did bail me out of jail,” Emma said thoughtfully. “At least I can thank her.”
“That’s the spirit!” he said, clapping a hand on her shoulder. “Go make friends, Emma. I’ll let you know when I’m done.” And with that he continued to walk in the direction of the cemetery as Emma turned around and went back to the diner. It didn’t take him very long to locate the crypt once he got there; it looked exactly the same as her vault in the book. He used his sonic to let himself in.
It only took him a few minutes to realize how to open the secret vault. He pushed the coffin stand out of the way and let himself in. He saw rows upon rows of handles in the wall, and after pulling one open he realized they held hearts. He scanned all of them until his sonic told him he’d found the Huntsman’s heart, then he opened the drawer and carefully took the heart out. He knew this was risky, but it needed to be done. They needed all the allies they could get, even if they were under the curse. He then made sure everything looked as it had when he’d gotten there and he left.
He pulled out the cell phone Martha had given him so long ago and called Emma. “Well?” she asked upon answering the phone.
“I’ve got it,” he said. “The Huntsman should be safe. I’m off to go deposit it in the TARDIS for safekeeping.”
“Be careful. Regina was headed out that way in her car about three minutes ago.”
“So noted.” He quickly made his way out of the cemetery by going into the woods behind it. It took him nearly a half hour to get to the abandoned campground, but once he was there he snapped his fingers and the TARDIS doors opened. He pulled the heart out of his coat pocket and made his way to his study, setting it somewhere safe. He’d figure out a way to put it back into the Huntsman if it was the last thing he did. Perhaps he would make another deal with Rumpilstilskin; after all, no one deserved to be without a heart.
When he was done with that he made his way back to town, walking into the diner just in time to see an enraged Regina yelling at Emma for all the diner’s occupants to see. She stopped when the door opened. “You,” she said.
“Hello again, Regina,” the Doctor said smoothly.
She came up to him, her face nearly inches from his. “I know what you took,” she said, her voice quiet enough that no one else would be able to hear them. “Don’t think I’ll let you get away with it so easily.”
“Then you’d have to admit you had it in the first place, and we know how well that would play out,” he said calmly. She looked at him, murder in her eyes, and then turned on heel and left the diner. He straightened his bow tie and went to the booth across from Emma. “We must be careful now,” he said quietly.
“I know,” she said. “Is Graham safe?”
“Safe enough,” the Doctor said with a nod.
“Good,” she said, leaning back in the seat. “I think we can kiss rooms at the inn good-bye, though.”
“Yes, I believe so as well,” he said with a slight smile. “Guess we’ll just have to rough it out in the woods.”
She smiled a bit as well. “Guess so.”
“Well, I’ve heard there’s some amazing food here. Anything you’d recommend?” he asked, leaning back in his seat before taking a menu and looking at it.
“The hot cocoa is good, and so is the pie.”
“Banana cream?” the Doctor asked hopefully. “Bananas are wonderful fruits.”
She shook her head. “Apple or cherry.”
He made a disappointed face. “All right. Perhaps a slice of apple pie and a hot cocoa, to celebrate our success.” He motioned over to Ruby, who came over with a smile on her face. He placed his order and then leaned forward, putting his forearms on the table and lacing his fingers together. “I think we’re doing just fine, Emma. Don’t worry.”
“I’m not worried,” she said. “I just…I don’t want her to take any of her anger out on Henry. I may not be the mother he grew up with, but I am his mother. I gave him up because that was what was best for him. And I still want that.”
“Henry will be fine,” the Doctor said reassuringly. “Regina knows better than to take her anger out on him. And, also, I think she knows it would just drive him closer to you. So don’t worry. He’ll be fine.”
“I hope you’re right,” she said.
“I am,” he said with a nod. “Trust me.”
“Can you do magic?” Emma asked the day after the Doctor had rescued Graham’s heart from the crypt. She had been right in that they were not invited to stay at the inn. Graham had apologized for it that morning and both of them had assured him it was no fault of his own. Graham didn’t know the particulars, and they didn’t feel the need to fill him in on the theft.
“I can, but only in the Enchanted Forest. It doesn’t work in this place, or any of the other places I’ve been.” They were in the TARDIS library, going over everything they had collected. “It isn’t that hard to learn, to be honest. With a spell book and the right teacher, just about anyone can pick it up. It helps if you are associated with magic ahead of time, though.”
“How did Regina get it?” she asked, looking up from the book Rumpilstilskin had given the Doctor earlier in the week.
The Doctor leaned back in his chair, steepling his fingers together in front of him. “Her mother was very powerful, and very evil. When I wasn’t trying to fix one of Rumpilstilskin’s messes, it was to fix one of Cora’s. There were a lot of times I wasn’t able to, but a few times I managed to turn the tide and actually make things right. But the two of them were very powerful, more powerful than I was, and much more skilled. They were also more ruthless. They would do whatever it took to get what they wanted, including killing people.”
“They sound like monsters,” she replied.
“They were, though for a long while Rumpilstilskin had his son around, and that gave him some humanity. Oh, he would still do wicked things, and he was still far too ruthless for my taste, but his son tempered the homicidal urges. When Baelfire disappeared, he changed. The spark of humanity was gone.” He paused for a moment. “He asked for my help. The Dark Lord asks for the help of no one, but he came to me, trying to find a way to find his son. I told him his son was beyond the Enchanted Forest, but he might just be in my reach. I’ve looked for him, every chance I get. He had met me once. I assume since he left before the curse was enacted he might still have the ability to recognize me.”
“That’s kind of tragic and all, but how does that relate to Regina?” Emma asked, stretching slightly.
“He was her teacher.” Emma paused and stared at him. “I’ve seen the way they act towards each other here, but I assure you, long ago they had a different relationship. She was eager to learn, and he was eager to teach.”
“I just can’t imagine them getting along long enough to get through one lesson, let alone enough for Regina to become all that powerful,” she said, lowering her arms. “They hate each other.”
“Yes, they do. I’ve never figured out what changed, though perhaps once he had taught her everything he could she no longer saw a use for him. And, towards the end, he was obsessed with finding his son.” He shrugged slightly. “Maybe one day I’ll find out what happened.”
“You said her mother was ruthless,” Emma said. “Not that that’s an excuse, but it probably didn’t help.”
“Regina was actually a sweet young girl when she was younger,” the Doctor mused. “I had had to tell her mother off a few times. Cora didn’t scare me. She concerned me, yes, but she didn’t scare me. And Regina was always polite to me when I came over. If I had to wait for Cora we talked. She loved horses when she was young.”
“So how did she go from sweet girl to Evil Queen?” Emma asked, leaning back in her seat.
“Her mother killed her true love,” he said quietly. “I never got the full details. When she had come to me she was Queen Regina, married off to King Leopold, Snow White’s father. But something had happened before the wedding, and then Cora was nowhere to be found and the new Queen was begging me to bring her true love back to life.”
“You can do magic, right? It should have been easy to bring him back.”
The Doctor shook his head. “Death is the one thing magic cannot undo. Dead is dead, even in fairytale land. She begged and pleaded, offered me riches beyond imagining, high status in her court. When I couldn’t help her, she turned to other means.”
“Rumpilstilskin,” Emma said.
“Correct. She went to him to learn magic, and he taught her, and then something happened and she went from heartbroken woman to evil, power-hungry queen seemingly overnight.” He sighed and ran a hand over his face. “I should have done more to stop things. Should have investigated further, should have stopped this whole mess before she used that curse. Then things would have been different. They wouldn’t be trapped here with no memories of their old lives.”
“Hey. From everything you’ve told me, you had a life away from the Enchanted Forest. They had to call you, right? Maybe they thought they had it handled with me and they didn’t need you. And there’s the chance you couldn’t have stopped it. Would you have been willing to kill Regina to keep her from casting the curse?”
He shook his head. “No.”
“Were you at least as powerful as she was? As ruthless and driven by a need for revenge? Would you have sacrificed people to stop her?”
“No, no and no,” he said.
“Then there probably wasn’t anything you could do. You’re doing what you do best now: fixing messes. This is a big mess, and even without the magic you’re starting to change things.”
“But is it enough?”
“If nothing else, you’re going to save Graham. She can’t sacrifice his heart anymore. You’ve removed that part from her power, at the very least. And Mr. Gold gave us the book. We’ll figure out what I need to do to break the curse and we’ll break it.”
He looked at her. “Are you going to be okay once it’s broken?” he asked.
“What do you mean?” she said, not looking at him and picking the book up again.
“You know Mary Margaret is really your mother, and I hope that your father is out here somewhere. When the curse is broken, they’ll know who you really are. They’ll know you’re their daughter.”
“I haven’t thought that far ahead,” she said quietly.
“You have a lot of anger and resentment built up towards them,” he said quietly. “And rightfully so, but…it’s going to be hard to truly accept all the changes when the curse is finally broken.”
“I’ll deal with it when it happens,” she said brusquely, pulling the book closer to her face. He knew this was a sign she didn’t want to talk about it yet. They worked in silence for a few moments before she spoke again. “Graham asked me if I wanted to have dinner with him tonight.”
“That’s interesting,’ he said with a smile.
“I said no.”
“Why on Earth did you do that?”
“Because he’s Regina’s boy toy. As pissed off as she is at me now, if I swipe him out from under her she’ll never forgive me. She knows she’s the Evil Queen. This will just be another case of the Charming family taking what she believes to be hers.”
“But you do like him, don’t you?” he asked, looking at her shrewdly.
“He’s…interesting,” she said quietly.
“Then take a chance.” She looked away from the book, looked directly at him. “Your parents, they had true love. They fought for it, and even though this curse happened, when you break it they’ll have that back again. The one thing I learned well was that there is no magic greater than true love. And I’ve seen it away from the Enchanted Forest. My last companions, Amy and Rory? They had it. He was brought back from non-existence because she loved him so much, and when the Auton programming took him over she got him back his humanity because she loved him. And he waited nearly two thousand years for her because of how much he loved her." He paused as a confused look crossed Emma's face. "It wasn’t magic, it was more complicated than that, but she did it. And he waited two thousand years for her, protecting her from all harm. Your parents, they’re the same. And you should see if you are ever so lucky to have it too.”
She looked at him intently. “You really think I should give him a chance?”
“Absolutely,” he said with a nod. “You should call him and agree to dinner.”
She started to reply when her phone rang. She pulled it out and glanced at the number, frowning at it for a moment before answering. “Hello?” There was a pause and then she said “Henry, slow down. Calm down. Now, tell me again why you need the book back?” Her eyes suddenly went wide and she nearly dropped the phone. “Okay. All right. I’ll bring it back into town with me when I go get some lunch. Can you meet me at the diner?” There was a pause. “I think your mother would pitch a fit if I went to your school. Just meet me after school, all right? Mary Margaret will probably be at the diner after school anyway. You can give it to her there. I’ll see you then, okay? Bye.”
“Well?” the Doctor asked.
Emma stared at her phone. “Henry thinks he found my father. He’s in a coma at the hospital, listed as John Doe. He wants Mary Margaret to read to him.”
“That actually sounds like a good plan,” the Doctor said approvingly. “It doesn’t hurt, at any rate.”
“Yeah, but will it do any good?” she asked, turning to look at him again.
“Well, they have true love, and that is very powerful magic. It could go well. It might have no effect at all. We’ll just have to wait and see.”
“I guess so,” she said.
“Don’t worry, Emma. Everything will be fine.” He gave her a reassuring smile. “I can just feel it.”
Mary Margaret was at the diner with Henry when Emma and the Doctor got there that afternoon. Henry looked happy to see them, but the only look on Mary Margaret’s face was concern. “Hi, Mom!” Henry said.
“Kid, we went over this,” Emma said with a sigh, clutching the book Henry had given them.
“Well, you are my mom,” he said, rolling his eyes. “You brought the book?”
Emma handed it to him. “Yup. Here it is.”
Henry handed it across the table to Mary Margaret. “Read the story about how Snow White found Prince Charming to the man in the hospital,” Henry said. “He could use a good story.”
“Henry,” Mary Margaret began, but he gave her a look. She looked to Emma and then to the Doctor and sighed. “All right, Henry. But I don’t think it will help.”
“You might be surprised,” the Doctor said from Emma’s side with a kind smile. “If it’s all right, I’d like to see him as well.”
“Sure,” Henry said with a grin.
“He’s in a private room,” Mary Margaret said. “I think it will be hard enough for me to visit.”
“I’m sure they’ll make an exception,” Henry said.
The Doctor happened to glance out the window as Rumpilstiltskin hobbled by. “On second thought, I need to pay a visit to Mr. Gold. I’ll see all of you later.” He turned and left the diner, catching up to Mr. Gold within moments. “I need to talk to you,” he said quietly.
“Is this a conversation about a curse?” Rumpilstiltskin asked just as quietly. The Doctor nodded. “Then perhaps we should continue this conversation in my shop.”
“Very well,” the Doctor said with a nod. The two men walked to short distance to the pawn shop and then Rumpilstiltskin opened the door. He shut it behind the Doctor after he walked in and left the closed sign out. “I want to know if the John Doe in the hospital is Prince James.”
“He is,” Rumpilstiltskin said with a nod.
“Will he have curse implanted memories?” the Doctor asked.
Rumpilstiltskin spread his hands. “I’m not sure. He should have come here healthy and whole if he was alive when the curse was enacted. The fact that he’s in a coma means he was probably near death when it hit.”
“So he may have his Enchanted Forest memories,” the Doctor said, beginning to pace.
“Or he could have no memories at all,” Rumpilstiltskin countered.
“Is there anything in this town that would trigger his curse memories?”
Rumpilstiltskin nodded, and picked up an old windmill. “I believe this would trigger his curse memories, if Regina goes that route.”
“I want it,” the Doctor replied.
“Then make a deal.” Rumpilstiltskin walked closer to him. “If I give you this, you need to find someone for me.”
“I’ve spent the last three hundred years looking for your son,” he said.
Rumpilstiltskin looked surprised for a moment, and then shook his head. “Not him. Someone else. She disappeared before the curse was enacted, and I haven’t seen her here. I want to find out if she’s alive. Her name was Belle.”
“I don’t have the vaguest idea where to look,” the Doctor said sadly.
Rumpilstiltskin thought for a moment. “Then perhaps you can owe me a favor.”
“I won’t kill anyone for you,” the Doctor replied.
“Yes, Wizard, I know that goes against your code. You won’t have to kill anyone. But you’ll owe me whatever favor my blackened heart desires.”
The Doctor appeared to think it over for a moment, and then held out his hand. “Done.”
Rumpilstiltskin came up and shook his hand once. “Then we have a deal.” He handed him the windmill with his other hand. “I would burn this if I were you.”
“I intend to,” the Doctor said, clutching the windmill. He gave Rumpilstiltskin a nod and then left the shop, nearly colliding into Emma when he got back to the diner. “You look stunned.”
“Graham asked me to become his deputy,” she said quietly, and he saw she was staring at the sheriff’s vehicle as it drove away.
“That might be a very good job for you. Something that can get us closer to those who might need our help.”
“Yeah, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to stay. I mean, I know Henry’s here, but…”
“You’ve never had a home to call your own,” the Doctor said gently. “Perhaps this is a good place to start.”
“Maybe.” She looked at the Doctor after a moment. “When Graham made the suggestion, Mary Margaret said it might be nice to have a roommate. I think I just got a place to stay and a job offer within five minutes of each other.”
“You should take them both up on their offers.”
“Maybe I will. But what about you?”
“I still have my own home to go to, and my own job to do,” he said with a smile, holding up the windmill. “The first order of business being to burn this.”
“What is that?”
“The only thing in town that will implant the memories associated with the curse on your father.”
“So John Doe really is Prince Charming?” Emma asked, surprised.
The Doctor nodded. “Yes, Emma. He really is your father. He may still have his fairy tale land memories, or he may have no memories at all. We won’t know until he wakes up. But Snow White reading to him may just be the thing to spur him awake.”
Emma frowned slightly. “What do you know about his curse memories?” she asked.
“According to the book, he has a wife here, a wife who is not Snow White. I don’t know who, but considering the players I would not be surprised if it is Princess Abigail. I believe here she is known as Kathryn Nolan.”
“Then I really hope he has no memories, because if he knows he’s Prince Charming and my mother doesn’t, things could get really messy.”
“Yes, they could,” the Doctor said with a nod. “So I hope you are correct in your hopes.” He looked around. “Why don’t you go tell your mother you accept her invitation to live with her? Then you can go to my TARDIS and get your belongings and watch me burn this dreadful totem.”
Emma nodded slowly. “Okay, I can do that. Just give me a second.” With that, she turned and went back into the diner. The Doctor watched from outside. He didn’t like having to owe Rumpilstiltskin a favor, but if it kept one more player in this game out of the Evil Queen’s clutches, then it was for the best. He just hoped it would truly be worth it.