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Strong Intentions: Episode 6 - The Saviors

Chapter Text

Hogwarts, Scotland, Our World – Many Years Ago

Dawn. The day when the Wizardry World was free of Voldemort’s reign. For Harry Potter, the dark haired seventeen-year-old wizard, watched Bellatrix Lestrange sent to Azkaban, where she would spend the rest of her days. For Harry, the work had only just begun and… why wouldn’t his right hand stop shaking? Even after all he’d been through, and giving Severus Snape the grave he deserved to be placed at… somehow, his right hand would not stop shaking.

What was wrong with him?

“Harry,” it was Hermione Granger, the bushy haired girl who had befriended him. She was the first to notice, other than Harry, about his shaking hand. “What’s wrong with your hand?”

Where had he heard that before?

“Harry, what’s wrong?” Hermione asked him.

“Nothing,” Harry said, relieved his hand stopped shaking. “I need time alone.” He snaked his way upstairs to Albus Dumbledore’s office. As he understood it now, with the Wizardry World in the process of change, Minerva McGonagall was now Headmistress and it was her office. But to Harry, this room with the spiral staircases would remind him of Dumbledore, Headmaster and friend to him and his friends. He would miss Dumbledore. That much was certain.

“It’s a shame, isn’t it?” said a shadowy figure. Harry jumped back at the slippery deep voice. “Being the Savior. Saving all those lives to defeat one villain. And yet your work is not finished.”

Harry brandished his wand, ready for an attack. “Who are you? How did you get in here? I thought this castle was well protected.”

“Forgive my intrusion.” The shadowy figure stepped into the light, revealing a tall man in robes, donned in a turban and carrying a snake staff. “I did not expect meeting the great Harry Potter. As for who I am, it is not a question of when, but how. I am Jafar.”

“Jafar,” Harry repeated.

“Yes, and you’re Harry Potter,” Jafar spoke again, cackling softly. “Well, we could discuss names, Savior, or you could tell me how it feels to be the Savior. You save people every day. I call that a feat. But you are not the first Savior to have met me, nor crossed my way. So from now, choose your friends wisely or you could end up with the Darkness encased in your heart.”

“What do you want with me? Why are you here?” Harry asked, keeping on his guard. His wand stayed pointed at the robed man.

“Oh, we are the same, you and I. Me, the Sorcerer, and you, a boy wizard becoming a man.” Jafar shook his head, teasing. “I can assure you, it will not end well for you. Keep that in mind, Savior, while you still can.”

“It’s Harry to you,” Harry warned.

“Oh indeed. Until we meet again. This time, you are Harry Potter. Next time, you may be something else entirely.” With a wave of his staff, Jafar flew out through the open window via magic carpet.

Harry rested in front of Dumbledore’s desk. His hand shook violently. What did Jafar mean by those words? The Savior? He helped people. That’s what he did. His life wasn’t perfect. What then did Jafar want with him? Or even… he checked his right hand. It still shook, not by his control. Just who was he. What was to become of him? Where did his fate take him this time? And where there more than one Savior around? These questions he could not answer, but then… it astonished him.

“Who am I?” Harry recalled asking this question to his owl Hedwig, when she was still alive. But now it did beg to question. Just what was his fate? If so, was there any chance he would be free from whatever burden came his way. He hardly knew and this was where he stood, pondering his fate… at least, for a while.

And yet, he had to ask himself one final question, before leaving the Headmasters and Headmistresses’ office: what did Jafar want with him? Or better, or worse, what was the Sorcerer’s plan? He feared he might not get an answer straightaway. But it was the best he could go on, for now anyway…

Chapter Text

Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

Granny’s Dinner never smelled so good. What with the decadent cinnamon rolls, drizzled in white frosting, to the gooey grilled cheese and spicy, but hearty, lasagna, Frodo Baggins already felt at home again in the town of Storybrooke. So much had happened since he was put under the first curse: what with magic, traveling to new worlds, even daring enough to become the Dark Lord (wait. What that something to be celebrated?), Frodo had seen so much. He had been through a lot.

And yet, he wasn’t afraid now. He was Frodo Baggins again, no longer taking up his cursed self name Asher Beutel, who was as shy and closed off that he almost became. No, things were better now. He was Frodo and that’s what counted. But then, he hadn’t accounted for his parting with Elsa. Yes, he still missed her, but she had responsibilities and he was only a hobbit. Not really royal. And still the height of a Man. Then there was Mindy, who he only just met weeks ago, almost a month ago, maybe.

“Let’s sit over there!” Mindy cried in excitement. “It’s right next to your friends.”

“Right,” Frodo said, following her. Even he could take a hint, such as this. What surprised him more was taking a seat right next to Mindy. Were there butterflies growing inside his stomach? No. What could be better—except he didn’t plan on Anakin taking a seat at the same booth, right across from him and Mindy. Frodo was shocked. “Anakin. What brings you here?”

“You still suspect me as Sauron, don’t you?” Anakin said.

“Well…” Frodo nodded.

“If you were Sauron, you would have changed by now into him,” Mindy said.

“Yes, about that,” Anakin started. “That’s exactly what he did to me. He posed for Harry. Harry Potter.”

“You mean he’s real, too?” Mindy asked, stunned.

“Yes,” Frodo and Anakin said together.

“I met Harry Potter, but in this world they think he’s…” Frodo hesitated. “They think he’s fiction.”

“Well, he isn’t,” Anakin said. “We know that now.”

“Where did you find him?” Mindy asked.

“A better question: where is he? And my son Luke?” Anakin said. “Now, I must tell you both that my story’s about to play out, and if I don’t use the serum, Darth Vader will surely come to light. I just hope I don’t meet any familiar faces or enemies while my stay here is brief.”

“But how—” Frodo was cut off by Samwise Gamgee/Curtis Greenhow’s entrance in the diner.

“There’s a blimp outside! A huge airship is comin’!” Sam/Curtis shouted.

“Come on. Let’s go,” Frodo said, standing up.

“What about our food?” Mindy asked, confused.

“Come on.” Anakin said. Frodo joined in a second later, “You can eat later. Let’s go.”

“Come on!” Frodo said, taking Mindy’s hand and dragging her outside. Together, accompanied by Anakin and Frodo’s friends, as well as who else remained in the town, reach the forest. To his surprise, Mr. Hyde announced that it was his town.

Anakin had a different opinion. “Sauron loaned me this town, just so my story can play out.”

“Well, that’s hardly surprising when we know what will come of that,” Hyde said. “Aren’t you – yes! Now I remember. You become Darth Vader. I can assure you, your time is up on being a Jedi.”

“Why you—” Frodo was cut off again. This time, visions swirled across his thoughts, including a battle and a ship in a glowing golden light on an elven harbor. He snapped out of it the second Mindy touched his hand.

“Come on. Frodo, are you all right?” Mindy asked him.

“I’m not sure.” Frodo said. He extended his hand to her. “Here.” The second she took his hand, Frodo led Mindy through the forest and into the crash site. The airship had just landed, but objects were all over the place and the balloon was torn to shreds. It sure looked deserted. And yet, the second Frodo touched a sword, he received more visions. Only this time the focus was on a red bird, as well as a woman dressed in robes and carrying a black snake staff.

What did the visions mean? He hardly knew, but he felt sure he would find out.

~~~

Land of Untold Stories – The Present

Sauron, still in his angelic elven form and donned in silvery iron armor, studied the parchment map that Anakin gave to him, just before they parted ways. It was enough that he had Anakin’s map of the Land of Untold Stories in his possession. How else was he to figure out his way around? Well, it wasn’t Middle-earth, that was for sure. And his mind swirled over the choices he made, including his decision to speak to Anakin in the first place…

“This map will tell me where to go?” Sauron asked Anakin, before he left.

“Yes. From there, to find a way to redeem yourself, look for Psyche at her house. Over there,” Anakin said, pointing to the red X on the map, close to the edge of the cliff. “Don’t ask me how to get there. That journey is one you should make. But I’ll admit, she doesn’t take to strangers well, not after losing her husband on her way to becoming a goddess.”

“Well. Then I will just have to coax it out of her,” Sauron said, taking the map in his grasp.

“Be careful. It’s a long journey to reclaim a kingdom.” Anakin said. “You won’t like it.”

“I don’t have to like it. I just need to know the destination,” Sauron said, charging out of the map room.

“Don’t say I didn’t warn you,” Anakin said, just seconds before Sauron was out of earshot.

“I’m not afraid,” Sauron said, as he approached the front door of Psyche’s house. Calming his nerves, he knocked on the door three times. His breath stilled when the door opened, revealing a woman with blonde hair and donned in a white dress. She looked so appealing to the eyes. “Madam, are you Psyche?”

“Yes. You seemed troubled. Almost like you’re attached to someone. But I must insist that you go.” Psyche said, her voice light and trilled. “You have no place here.”

“Don’t. Don’t walk away. Look at me.” Sauron grabbed her arm. Only something changed. He felt so light-headed. He… passed out, right back into the Void. But how? When… how…

~~~

Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

Frodo pawed his way through the wreckage, scattered throughout the crash site. The dirigible was huge, but it wouldn’t stop him. Something was causing the visions. Something… something purple…

“No!” Frodo cried. His mind raced. There was a battle with him against a hooded figure. Emma was there, too, but this was his own fight. Why were there two hooded figures? Yes, he saw them now. And there was a sword, and a purple glowing wand. No. How could it? And David, Hook and Henry were there, too. Wait… what… what… Merry, Pippin and Sam… no. It couldn’t have been…

“Frodo!” Archie’s voice. Archibald Hopper. Jiminy Cricket. How… Frodo stepped backwards, right out in the opening, with Archie’s help. Did he know something? “Frodo, what did you see?”

"Archie, I thought you went back to the Enchanted Forest," Frodo asked him.

"I stayed because I thought it best that I should help out." Archie said. "The dwarves are here, too."

"But not Gimli," Frodo said.

"I'm sorry. He hasn't shown up," Archie said.

"Well, he's home now," Frodo said, relieved.

"What about you? I mean these visions you've been having. Your foresight," Archie said, going on a tangent.

Frodo faced him. “What do you know about it?”

“Frodo, your friends are worried about you.” Archie said.

“You came because of my friends.” Frodo said. He paused, calming down. “Look, I just came out here to find something. Something to explain these visions I’ve been having.” He picked up the purple glowing wand. It stopped glowing at his touch. “This was what the visions were pointing to.”

“That’s not the only reason I’m here,” Archie said. “You’ve hardly had a break. You’ve been fighting these battles for some time now. That must tear you apart.”

“I didn’t come here for a therapy session,” Frodo said.

“Your friends are worried about you,” Archie repeated. “With all these battles coming and going, you need someone to talk to. Someone who understands what you’re going through. Please, let’s talk.”

Frodo paused. How could he say this properly? “I’ll reconsider it after I find out why I keep having visions of the future. It’s always the same one, more recent one actually. Until I find it, please. Let me see what I can do.”

“I’ll be over here with Emma if you change your mind,” Archie said, walking away.

Frodo turned his gaze upwards. There was a red bird, flying away before he could catch up. In haste, he followed the bird through the woods, hardly hearing Archie and Emma’s cries. And he found the bird’s perching spot. Only there was an auburn haired young woman, dressed in white robes and carrying a black snake staff.

“It’s you,” Frodo said. “The one I saw in the vision. The woman I mean. You’re her.”

“I am.” The woman announced herself. “I’m an Oracle. Do you wish to see your future?”

“I am,” Frodo nodded.

“Look at the staff.” The Oracle said. Frodo averted his eyes from her, turning them instead to the snake staff’s red eyes. Visions swirled around Frodo’s gaze. The battle, the wand, a hand grabbing his hand… and the ship in the west, him saying goodbye to his friends as he followed Gandalf. It looked so peaceful. The flashes stopped. Frodo was back in the present.

“What was that?” Frodo asked her.

“It’s your future,” the Oracle said. “What you see, even though you may change it, the destination will stay the same.”

“I’m allowed to leave into the West, to the Undying Lands,” Frodo said, gulping. “Isn’t there any way to prevent.”

“No. The destination remains the same, no matter what you do.” The Oracle told him. “That is the end of your story, according to the books from whence your story finishes.”

“What about after the Grey Havens? Isn’t there a way…”

“I can only show you the future. But once your book ends, it ends and there isn’t anything that can be done to change its course,” the Oracle said. “Sooner or later, your wounds will return and nothing can stop that. But where you journey next remains to be seen.”

“I thought those wounds were healed,” Frodo said. “Why would they come back?”

“If you wish for your wounds to be healed, then you must stop Sauron. The future can change. You’ve been given two paths. Two paths that will determine your fate. You must stay on one path if you are to get home. After that, it’s unclear what happens next,” the Oracle said. “Good luck, Frodo Baggins. You’ll need it.”

The red bird’s calls reverberated across the forest. Frodo looked up at the bird as it flew away. Nothing happened. But the second he returned his gaze at the same spot, the Oracle was gone. Where had she gone? And how could he change his fate if the destination was clear? Maybe there was more to be told of his tale, but… was there a chance for him to survive this upcoming battle? Surely his wounds wouldn’t return. Weren’t they healed? He thought they were. Oh, it didn’t make sense. None of it made any sense or difference. Oh, what was he to do now? Besides tell his friends… yes, that was a good idea. See what they had to say about the Oracle’s prophecy about him and his destination, his fate.

Indeed, it was the best idea he had so far to explain this new turn of events. He wasn’t about to waste time not discussing them. He would discuss them… if only he knew where to begin admitting the truth.

~~~

Psyche’s House, Land of Untold Stories – The Present

Sauron touched his forehead. It burned so much. Why did he smell liquor? Was he drunk? No, it was an herbal tea he smelt, and rather strong in mint and basil. Oh, he wasn’t feeling well. How could this have happened to him? He was just talking to Anakin Skywalker, and practically planning on turning him into Darth Vader himself. Oh, he would get that Jedi Knight, if it was the last thing he did. That would show him who’s the real ruler of Storybrooke and the Land of Untold Stories…

“Oh, you’re awake, I see,” Psyche asked, shrilly. “Oh, you must have had terrible amount of dreams. That isn’t surprising, seeing as you were just dethroned from Mordor thirty some years ago. Not that that matters to me.” She dabbed his forehead with a wet cloth. “Oh, you poor, poor baby. Can I cure your cold for you?”

“What did you do to me?” Sauron asked, dazed.

“Oh, my old remedy on curing the soul.” Psyche said. “Yours needs cleansing badly, Sauron. Or shall I call you Mairon?”

“How dare you!” Sauron moved off the bed. “I am Sauron and if you do not tell me how to get Mordor back from the heroes… ah!” Psyche touched his face with her cold, clammy hands! No. Already there were visions of him facing off against Frodo Baggins, him with a wand that glowed purple. And the hooded figure. Who was the hooded figure? Why was he witnessing the hobbit Ring-bearer’s battle? Surely there must have been something wrong. “NOOO! Take your hands off me. I need to return to Storybrooke now!”

“You’re still feverish,” Psyche told him. “It’ll take hours to wear off. You can’t possibly leave now. You’re hurt.”

“Open the portal!” Sauron proclaimed.

“Oh well,” Pysche said, pulling out a blue glowing wand and waving it at the empty air. Immediately, a portal was opened. But Sauron felt weakened in his heart. “I told you, you’re not well, Sauron. Climb back on the bed. You need herbs to heal you.”

“I’m afraid this wound is grand. You can’t turn me back into a hero.” Sauron said. “That side of me is gone.”

“It’s not gone. It’s still there,” Psyche said. “You were a hero twice now. Three times counting your trip in the Alternate Reality. Do you really think you’re any match now against those heroes? They outsmarted you once, they can do so again.”

“Then I’ll do away with them,” Sauron said. However, he couldn’t move from where he was. He looked on at the portal as it vanished. Next time. When he was better, hopefully soon, he would return to Storybrooke. The last thing he needed was a Ring-bearer’s help, let alone seeking him out. He would find a way back. Oh indeed, he would. It was time to make the Ring-bearers’ pay for the loss of his Ring. He would not lose again, no matter what happened to him or to his precious ring. That he was certain of would come to pass. That was what he desired now, more than anything else: when he ruled Mordor again.

~~~

Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

Frodo breathed in and out. He could do this. He could tell his friends what had happened to him out in the woods. Okay, he was ready now. He moved up the stairs and into Granny’s Diner. To his surprise, there, sitting at the table, were his friends: Sam/Curtis, Rosie Cotton-Gamgee/Samantha Willow, Merry/Donovan, Pippin/Edric and Mindy. They cheered, greeting him to their table.

Frodo smiled. Yes, this was the best time. Quietly, he found a seat near the end of the table. Already, given the number of people in the diner, Frodo had no doubt that it wasn’t crowded.

“So what happened out there?” Merry/Donovan asked Frodo. “In the woods? Frodo?”

“Where’s Bilbo?” Frodo asked, looking around.

“He should be along shortly,” Pippin/Edric said. “Anyway, we saved you a seat.”

“It isn’t like Bilbo to miss out, isn’t it?” Mindy asked.

“Um…” Sam/Curtis started, “the truth is Miss Mindy… Mr. Bilbo surpassed Old Took. He’s um…”

“He’s younger,” Merry and Pippin said. “Younger than we are.”

“He’s my age, Merry, by looks,” Frodo said. “The Fountain of Youth had something to do with that. It couldn’t save Thorin Oakenshield, unfortunately.”

“So, are you going to tell us what happened to you out in the woods?” Merry/Donovan asked his older cousin. “Or do we have to worm it out of you?”

Frodo chuckled guiltily. “This is a story better discussed at my house.”

“Let’s talk about this after we eat then, shall we?” Sam/Curtis suggested.

“Fair enough,” Merry/Donovan said.

Frodo could agree to that. He was starving. Still, he hoped his friends would understand when they heard the truth of the events that led him to the Oracle.

-.-.-

Sauron wandered down the lonely, dark alley. He was back in Storybrooke. The blue swirling portal behind him vanished, leaving him alone with his thoughts. But then that was a good part of this new turn of events. He took a good look around at the downtown area. Oh yes. There was Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin observing his pawnshop. Sauron shook his head. He knew better than to take advice from Rumple. Still, he hoped there wouldn’t be any more deals he would make with the imp. His determination now was to get revenge on Anakin, Frodo and others that stood in his way.

This Dark Lord would return to Mordor well enough. He would see to that, that was for sure.

-.-.-

Bilbo/Bane closed and locked the door to his house. He was overjoyed to discover it was still intact. Just as he had left it last. Now the only thing left to do was… no. He dropped his paper bag, the contents strewn across the floor. Good thing they were staple foods, but still… there was Frodo. Only he was dressed up as his Dark Lord self, complete with the long leather trench coat with the collar curved out and his curly hair sleeked back, with a pony tail tied close to his neck.

Yes, it could only be Dark Lord Frodo, alive and well.

“You.” Bilbo asked. “No. Frodo defeated you.”

“Hm,” Dark Frodo grunted joyfully. “Did he now? Is that what you think?”

“Get out of my house,” Bilbo warned.

“Not until I get my revenge,” Dark Frodo said, coyly. “And you are going to help me do it. You were a dark lord once before. He’s still intact inside you. Besides, even if you could kill me… well, it wouldn’t be as fun, would it? Now please,” he moved a beer bottle towards Bilbo, “let’s have a word like civilized men. Or should I say, civilized hobbits?” He grinned with satisfaction. “It’s good to be back.” He added last, toasting Bilbo with his own beer bottle, “Welcome to Storybrooke.”

Chapter Text

Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

“If I didn’t know better,” Bilbo said to Frodo’s dark half, setting his fifth beer bottle down on the table, “I would say you were trying to get me – HIC – drunk.”

“Mmm hmhmhmhm!” Dark Frodo cackled behind his teeth. Setting his first beer bottle down, he added, “that is the idea.” He passed to Bilbo a vial filled with blue liquid. “Drink. It’ll make you less sleepy, but still drunk. Where we’re heading is one filled with dark magic. I need you at your best.” He gestured. “Go on. Drink it. You need your strength.”

Following Frodo’s dark half as best he could, Bilbo drank the blue liquid. Blue colors swarmed his vision. Where were they headed? They were… they were outside his house, heading towards the Toll Bridge. No. How could dark magic be hosted here.

“I don’t understand. Where are we heading?” Bilbo asked, confused.

“Patience, my friend. We’re here,” Dark Frodo said, waving his hand around. The effect caused a dust storm to blow in, drilling past the trees and revealing a hidden tunnel. It was right where he wanted to go, and even gestured Bilbo forward. “Come on. We’re not that far now.”

“What do you mean?” Bilbo looked around the lair. Dark Frodo smiled. He recognized the deep blues, reds and black colors that made this lair so unique. But Bilbo confirmed it to him. “We’re in the lair. The same lair Frodo and I used when we were dark lords.”

“The very same,” Dark Frodo said, shifting through papers.

“What are you looking for?” Bilbo asked, confused.

“The one person who can assist me with the task I set him out to do,” Dark Frodo said. “You wait and see.”

“Well, this friend of yours had better be important,” Bilbo said. “Otherwise, you would not have sent me here.”

“Oh, don’t worry. You’ll probably remember him soon enough. He was in the Land of Untold Stories. I would follow my last request of bringing him to me, but I fear that the messenger will receive his just reward.” Dark Frodo said. “Now, where can I find Belle? I need to speak with her over something very important. And I promise you I will have my way.” He added in confirmation, “Now, that wasn’t so hard. Was it, Bilbo?” Bilbo hardly knew what to say. He only hoped Frodo’s good half knew what awaited him… against whatever or whoever it was that his dark half would soon unleash upon the town of Storybrooke.

-.-.-

Hours Later…

It was a peaceful morning. Frodo drank his coffee in silence at Granny’s Diner. Oh, how he missed the smell and its earthy taste. But as he read through the Daily Mirror’s newspaper, a thought dawned on him. Where was Bilbo this morning… his gaze was averted from the newspaper to the door. He already knew those from the Land of Untold Stories was here. So who was the dark haired soldier entering the diner at this hour?

“Excuse me, but…” Frodo questioned further, “…you came from the Land of Untold Stories.”

“That’s right,” the man said.

“Can I have a name?” Frodo asked, politely.

“I’m fearful you may not recognize it,” the man said, passing to him an envelope. “Give my regards when you read it.”

Frodo’s brow furrowed. This was unusual. But then the seal with the letter T in bold, in the center of the red seal, did give the man away. He was from Middle-earth. But how? And who was he? These were questions Frodo feared he wouldn’t get a straight-forward answer. But he had to try something, for the sake of his friends and for his sake alone.

Then just what was the sealed envelope about and why him? The only way he would answer these questions was by opening the envelope and finding out what was inside its contents.

~~~

Beleriand – Middle-earth’s Distant Past

Túrin Turambar looked about his new home. From the thatched roof to the décor and lifestyle that made the kitchen so unique, Túrin inhaled deeply. It was good to be the warrior, a soldier of Middle-earth. Yes, everything was just fine.

“Here. Taste this,” his wife Niniel said, offering him a spoonful of the soup. Túrin licked the spoon clean, nodding in delight.

“It’s good.” Túrin said, kissing her forehead. “Some of the best carrot soup you have done so far this year.”

“Thank you, Túrin,” Niniel said with a faint giggle.

The cups moved. Turin looked around but no one was present.

“Perhaps it’s a wight,” Niniel said, confused.

“Wights don’t come this way.” Túrin said, grabbing his sword. “I’m heading out.”

“No need.” A gold speckled man, wearing leather skinned clothes, said. Túrin brandished his sword at the creature. “Oh, there’s no need for that. But this,” he showed them a glass rose, sitting on the table, “is what you should be worried about. This glass rose will determine when the curse breaks on your family. You see, there’s a certain someone who might not appreciate me coming here and helping you out, but here I am. Rumplestiltskin at your service.”

“We don’t need your services,” Túrin said. “You can leave this house.”

“Oh fair enough.” Rumplestiltskin said. “But consider this rose a token of my gratitude. You’ll thank me later. I promise you will.” He poofed himself out of the house in red smoke. Túrin looked all over the house, but Rumplestiltskin was gone, leaving only the rose as their guide. Túrin was confused. Why was Rumplestiltskin helping them? They didn’t know him. And yet… well, maybe… the rose meant something. Encroaching danger? Sword fights? Deceit? Túrin hardly knew or guessed what would happen next in his life.

~~~

Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

Frodo stared at the note in utter confusion. It was a very clear message, addressed to him.

Frodo Baggins,

I, Túrin Turambar, request your presence at the Toll Bridge by one o’ clock today. Failure to do so will result in grievous wounds I do not wish to be held accountable for.

Don’t be late.

Túrin wanted to meet up with him at the Toll Bridge. What could possibly be over by the river that made it so easy… no. Frodo remembered the spot. That was where he was when he was the dark lord, and then Bilbo afterwards. It wasn’t a well-known spot for a villain, but it was extra protection and a hiding place for his vials, potions and scores of books he wanted to keep safe down there.

Honestly, didn’t Túrin know what he was getting himself into. And how could he go about this. He had no choice. It was time to face the man… and he poofed himself there. No way. How was the tunnel already opened? It was seal with blood magic.

“Right on time,” Túrin said, brandishing his sword. “Ready to prove yourself worthy? Now fight like a true Baggins that I know you are, Halfling.”

“How did you get here?” Frodo asked, confused. “How?”

“I came through the same way you did. To the Land of Untold Stories,” Túrin said. “Yes, my story has its ups and downs. A sad tale, one I dare not wish to repeat anytime soon. Now do we have a duel or not? I can’t waste any more time talking all day long. Will you or will you not face me, Frodo Baggins?”

~~~

Beleriand – Middle-earth’s Distant Past

Túrin wept for who knew how long a time. Depression was getting to him. His sister Niënor, the woman who he just realized was… no. That deceitful dragon Glaurung. And what’s more! The glass rose Rumplestiltskin gave him. Its leaves were turning into dust, just like his time. Maybe he was better off…

“STOP!” Rumplestiltskin bellowed from behind. “What are you doing?”

“You,” Túrin spat in rage. “You knew this would happen. You saw it with your own eyes! And now my sister is dead. And there is nothing left for me now.”

“Ah ha! I wouldn’t do that,” Rumplestiltskin said. Túrin stared him in the eye again.

“What do you mean? Oh, there isn’t anything for me here now,” Túrin said, ready to plunge his sword straight through his chest.

“Yes, but I know of an alternate route to end your pain and suffering. But know that if you return, your story resumes.” Rumplestiltskin said, holding out a key. “This will solve all your problems.”

“What do I want with a key?” Túrin asked, confused.

“Well, this key will take you to a land where stories stall. You’ll be free to live your life there, as promised. But if you return, your story resumes as it was meant to resume. Ready to try?” Rumplestiltskin said.

“It seems I have no choice,” Túrin said.

“Oh, everyone has a choice! But do you choose this?” Rumplestiltskin asked. “Ready to try it?”

“I’m ready,” Túrin said with a nod.

“Then proceed through this door,” Rumplestiltskin said, waving his hand in the air. A door appeared, opening by itself and revealing a golden-hued portal. Túrin looked at it once, before returning his gaze to the gold-speckled man.

“And nothing will happen to me, while I’m there,” Túrin asked, searching for reassurance.

“Only if you don’t let it happen. Farewell now,” Rumplestiltskin said, waving him on.

Túrin nodded. “Thanks.”

“Don’t you mention it,” Rumplestiltskin said. Túrin proceeded through the portal, only to discover a sign that said Welcome to the Land of Untold Stories. He was clearly in the right destination.

~~~

Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

“Túrin,” Frodo said, raising his hands, “listen to me. You don’t want to do this. You’re a soldier of Beleriand. You’ve fought battles, proved you’re a soldier of men. Now do it again. Refuse this battle. You have to fight it. Be you again.”

“You came to me once. Seeking knowledge that would allow you to face the darkness,” Túrin said, raising his sword with great caution. “Prove to me you are the hobbit I remember.”

“Oh, he already is,” said a darkened voice. Frodo stared past Túrin’s shoulder. There was… no way. The figure was draped in black leather robes, but the malevolent smile told enough about who he was, besides the fact that he looked identical to Frodo himself.

“You,” Frodo recognized him at once. “You’re dead.”

“Oh,” Frodo’s dark half said, “it seems I’m not. But you can quite plainly call me your Darkness.”

“Please,” Túrin pleaded, his eyes widened, “don’t make me do this.”

“Oh, I won’t have to,” Frodo’s Darkness declared. In quick movements, he shoved Túrin’s heart back in his chest from behind. Frodo rushed over to Túrin, who was coughing and sputtering badly. Only Frodo’s Darkness wasn’t yet finished. “Oh, how pathetic. Both of you. I’ve never seen such…” he gulped, “…mortality.”

Frodo stood up, facing his Darkness. “What did you want him for? What were you planning?”

“Oh, what am I planning?” His Darkness cackled, “I am going to make sure that you know what it feels like to be drawn to the darkness. And once I’m through with you, you’ll be nothing more than a husk of your former self. A wraith. It’s not over. Did you really think those wounds would heal?” He cackled. “Some things cannot be healed, Frodo Baggins.” He took a step back. “I’ll watch and wait until you’re so low in stature and grief that you cannot see two ends. Your story – our story – will play out as it was meant to play out.” He added, last, “This won’t be the last time you see me, nor will I expect it to be. You take care, Frodo.” He vanished in a puff of deep purple smoke. Frodo stood there for a moment, caught between who he is and who he was. It was a difficult challenge, but—

“Help me get up!” Túrin cried, no longer playing the man with vengeance in his heart, but the man who cared about others. Frodo rushed to his aide at once, understanding the turmoil Túrin had been going through and relieved he overcame it, before something tragic happened to either one of them.

“Can you stand?” Frodo asked him.

“Yes.” Túrin said. “Thank you, my new friend.”

“Don’t mention it,” Frodo said, “Túrin.”

~~~

The Land of Untold Stories – Weeks Ago

Túrin sat in the parlor of his house. The Land of Untold Stories had been so kind to him. What could they possibly do wrong, now that he was here? But then, time didn’t seem to matter here. That much was certain.

THUMP!

“What on earth was that?” Túrin asked, approaching the heaped figure. “Sir. Sir, are you all right—” He was cut off. He could hardly breathe. He looked up, gazing into a fair Halfling face, with trembling hands. “Please…” The hobbit released him. Turin sputtered for a time, grabbing his sword in his defense. “I will fight you if I have to. Now tell me, sir, where are you from?”

“I’m from the Shire,” the hobbit said. “My name is Frodo Baggins. I’m… the Dark Lord. The new Dark Lord. But I won’t hurt you. I promise. I can’t control it.”

“You don’t sound like a Dark Lord. What are you doing here?” Túrin repeated.

“Probably for the same reason you’re here: to find a home, somewhere we both belong,” Frodo said. “Who are you?”

“I don’t have to answer to you,” Túrin said, infuriated. He calmed down, slightly, “Now why are you here?”

“To ask a favor,” Frodo said. “I won’t hurt you anymore, but… may we find a way to even the odds. I show you mercy and you give me your name.”

“It’s Túrin. Túrin Turambar,” Turin said, calming down. “You’re no dark lord.”

“I am,” Frodo said.

“Not to me, you’re not,” Túrin said. “You show me mercy, you leave my house.”

“I’m on my way out. Thank you,” Frodo said.

“No, thank you. Thank you for saving my life,” Túrin said.

“Anytime,” Frodo said, vanishing in a cloud of black smoke. Túrin lowered his sword. Maybe the Halfling was in the right. He showed him mercy. What could possibly be owed for this kind gesture? He feared he wouldn’t know the answer, not right away.

~~~

Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

Granny’s Diner wasn’t as packed as it was earlier in the day. Now that it was nightfall, the atmosphere in the diner was relatively pleasant. Frodo entered the diner in peace, waving to Emma, Snow and Regina, who waved back. So far, it was a relatively good night, complete with Túrin taste testing the new brewed batch of coffee.

“Mmm.” Túrin said, smacking his lips. “This is good. Delicious.” He said, gleefully. “Coffee you said it was.”

“If only Yoda could hear this compliment,” Merry/Donovan said, delighted. He warned fast, “Just don’t smash your mug, okay. We wouldn’t want another Thor incident.”

“Whose Thor?” Túrin recovered, “Well, I did hear about him in the Land of Untold Stories. People talk.”

“Merry was just making a point,” Pippin/Edric said, “because Thor did that in one of his movies. Smashed his mug. It created quite the scene.”

Túrin pointed to him. “Good to know.” He took another long swig of coffee. “Mmm. Delicious.” He said, smacking his lips together a few times.

“Yoda,” Frodo said, shaking his head. “Anyone could have pulled a Star Wars reference, but then we have Anakin in Storybrooke. What are the odds of that happening?” He set his mug down for a second. His hand trembled again. The same visions returned in the forefront of his mind: the hooded figure, his friends and the ship sailing into the West, to the Undying Lands… how could they…

“Are you alrigh’?” Sam/Curtis asked, concerned.

“Um…” Frodo didn’t know how to answer. No. Now he remembered. “I should leave. Head over to Archie’s office.”

“Oh. Well, take care Mr. Frodo,” Sam said.

“I will, Sam,” Frodo said, taking his leave. Sam sighed. How could he help Mr. Frodo now when… he looked back at the table… it was a jeweled turnip. How did that get there? No. Sam scrambled out of the diner, taking the jeweled turnip with him. However, his mind returned to the present by a grimmer version of Frodo, watching him.

“Like my gift?” Frodo’s Darkness asked.

“This matter was closed a long time ago.” Sam told him, serious. “Where did you find it?”

“Well, that’s the thing about Storybrooke: you find anything here and anyone… all right, I bought it off of Rumplestiltskin’s shop for a price, of course,” Frodo’s Darkness said. “Please, have a seat. I welcome anyone who wants to make a profit, be my friend… my best friend who I’m sure will choose me over my better half any day.”

“And why do I have the feeling this jeweled turnip resolves to my past,” Sam said. He added, “This matter was settled years ago. You can’t have anything to do with this.”

“On the contrary. Frodo was in Buckland and you…” Frodo’s Darkness said, moving towards him, “…do you really think this matter ended in the Shire, when it’s still,” he hissed, “ever present? I didn’t think you did resolve it.” He added last, “Food for thought. Wouldn’t you say, Samwise Gamgee?” He vanished in a puff of deep purple smoke. Sam stood there, perplexed and confused. How did Frodo’s Darkness know where to find him? And the jeweled turnip. He hadn’t seen it in ages. But it couldn’t mean… no. It couldn’t be, could it? He didn’t know. All he knew as of now was that Frodo was on his way to see Archie. That’s what counted. Wasn’t it?

Sam knew one thing: he wasn’t about to let the Evil Queen and Frodo’s Darkness control his fate. Not if there was a breath left in his body. They would be defeated. He felt sure they would be. Why else would he still be in Storybrooke and not home in the Shire? His friends needed him right now. That’s what mattered to him in this moment. That’s all he needed to hear to set his heart free, to set it on the right path. And he would need all the help he could get before the night was out.

-.-.-

Bilbo/Bane sighed in relief. He was happy to be home again. And to complete his evening: a fine stew of barley, meat and steamed vegetables, cooked just right. His nostrils picked up on the pleasant smell, especially when he added in the mushroom broth. Yes, it was good to be home. Yes…

“Surprised to see me?” Frodo’s Darkness answered. Bilbo jumped a little, but not enough for him to lose his balance or stop cooking the stew. Frodo’s Darkness continued to speak, sniffing the air as he did. “Mmm. Hmhm. You’re cooking rabbit stew. How quaint.”

“Whatever business you have here, it doesn’t end here with me,” Bilbo said, paying attention to his stew.

“Well, I see my offer hasn’t swayed you one bit.” Frodo’s Darkness cackled. “You let me know when the stew’s ready to be eaten whole. I promise you, much like my better half, I am a good eater and have a very healthy appetite, so you know.”

“You’re not convincing me to take up on your offer.” Bilbo said. “We’re done here.”

“For now,” Frodo’s Darkness said. “But until then, you’re on my list of folk I visit with candor in their hearts and a full belly.” Bilbo’s brow furrowed in confusion. He turned around in time to see Frodo’s Darkness vanish in a deep purple smoke.

“What have I unleashed?” Bilbo asked himself, as he seasoned the stew. It sure smelled delicious and it… yes, it tasted good. Nothing like a stainless-steel pot filled with the best rabbit stew any hobbit could cook up for himself. He sighed again, hoping that Frodo and his friends would defeat this new enemy as soon as possible.

-.-.-

The night air was cool and crisp. The street lights were a guiding light for Frodo, leading him exactly where he needed to go: straight to Archie’s office, where he was putting away folders into his filing cabinet. It was just Archie for the moment, but Frodo couldn’t stand it… no. He needed to stay calm and focused. It was just Archie.

“Frodo,” Archie said, facing him, “what brings you here at this hour?”

“Look,” Frodo approached his therapist and said, “okay. You remember these visions I’ve been having. And Anakin’s arrival in Storybrooke. It all makes sense now.”

“And what have you learned about him?” Archie asked instead, “Frodo, are you worried he might turn to the Dark Side and become Darth Vader? Is that what upsets you? You think he’ll become the thing he fears most?”

“I think I recall that he wasn’t a part of my vision.” Frodo said. “There was someone underneath that hood. Someone who wasn’t a part of the vision. It could mean Anakin or it could mean someone else.”

“Frodo,” Archie asked, concerned, “what are you trying to say?”

Frodo looked up, a panged expression on his face. “I think we’re in danger.”

Chapter Text

X-X-X

Cinderella’s story has played out. Emma has saved her life, in turn helping the woman who she saved first. However, the Evil Queen has released Mr. Hyde from his cell in the hospital. And Frodo’s Darkness remains in hiding. How will Frodo help when his hand trembles? And what other stories do his friends have that they have kept secret from him?

The tales are about to unwind.

X-X-X

Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

Frodo’s Darkness checked the vials again. All the ingredients were there, present before his eyes. Now if he combined it… no. NO! He threw the vial into the fireplace. Smoke fused from the flames. It wasn’t enough… why couldn’t he… he knew his better half wasn’t quite so adequate with potions. He could cook, certainly. But as far as learning potions was concerned… no! He needed someone who knew what the correct ingredients were for this potion.

Rumplestiltskin. Yes. For sure him. And he was here in Storybrooke. In a dash, Frodo’s Darkness poofed himself outside Mr. Gold’s pawnshop. He waved to the Evil Queen and Mr. Hyde, who were practically laughing. Now it was his turn. And heading inside he did just that… only to come face-to-face with Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin with a new haircut.

“You changed your appearance.” Frodo’s Darkness said, entering the shop. “But that’s not why I’ve come here.”

“We’re closed,” Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin said, his words harsh.

“I’m sorry, but weren’t we discussing something earlier,” Frodo’s Darkness asked. “Something… something of value.”

“What could you possibly want here?” Mr. Gold said. “I don’t have what you want.”

“Doesn’t matter.” Frodo’s Darkness groped. “You can’t kill me. You tried it on Hyde and I bet you haven’t tried it on the Evil Queen. Why should I be any different?”

“What do you want?” Mr. Gold asked.

“Something from my past,” Frodo’s Darkness said. “Something my other half might want to dig in.” He turned to Mr. Gold, asking him, “The thing I want most. What I need the most.” He said. “Surely you know that has some value to me and you.”

Everything moved so quickly in a manner of seconds: Mr. Gold threw Frodo’s Darkness up against the wall, his hand grasping his neck so hard. Colors swarmed across Frodo’s Darkness’ vision… but he wasn’t dead. Out from the choking gasps, Frodo’s Darkness laughed sinisterly. He wasn’t alive, but choking haphazardly.

“Will you let me go?” Frodo’s Darkness choked out. “You know you can’t kill me. But my other half will feel the pain, too.”

“No,” Mr. Gold released Frodo’s Darkness. The hobbit gasped and sputtered for a moment, stunning the man with the short cut hair. “You should be dead.”

Frodo’s Darkness stood up, massaging his neck. His voice was back, stronger than ever. “Now, where is it? Because I have very important work to do.”

Elsewhere, Frodo managed to stand up. His throat felt so hoarse, but he was alive. Unless… unless it meant his darker half was attacked. “What was that?” he managed to say, once the oxygen returned into his throat and voice. How could this happen? What was his darker half up to?

-.-.-

Hours Later…

Frodo sat down at his table with a mug of coffee in his hand. The Daily Mirror certainly brought about such terror, including the Evil Queen’s return. But as for news on his darker half, his darkness, that was hardly in the newspaper. Did they just forget about him? Or hadn’t anyone said anything? It was time to tell his friends that… a folded paper was on his table. But how? Sam.

“Sam, what is it?” Frodo asked, concerned. “What have you learned about my darker self?”

“Not much,” Sam/Curtis sat down. “But we need to get started. It think it’s time we discover what Anakin Skywalker’s up to. We’ve got to find out his business here. He couldn’t have arrived without knowing somethin’ about the town of Storybrooke.”

“Sam, how do you know him?” Frodo asked, confused. “What’s your role in this?”

“My journey began long ago, when Anakin entered the Shire.” Sam said. “It is a tale you’ll be wantin’ to hear.”

~~~

Bagshot Row, Hobbiton, the Shire, Middle-earth – The Past

Sam, at age twenty-one, hadn’t expected this big turnout in his father’s, the Gaffer, house. What did he expect would come out of this? It was a gardener’s party. Well… maybe he was justifying his actions too much… wait. Who was that man dressed in a black tunic, trousers, boots and cloak? No. He must have been lost, hadn’t he?

“Sir,” Sam called to him. “Sir, I’m sorry, but the Gaffer said we weren’t inviting Big Folk. It’s his rules.”

“He can come in!” Hamfast ‘the Gaffer’ Gamgee said, joining his son. He turned to the robed man. “I’m sorry, sir. I don’t believe we’ve been introduced.”

“Well, you were told, I’m sure, that Jedi are allowed to be at your party,” the man said. “I’m Anakin, by the way. Anakin Skywalker.”

“I’m the Gaffer!” Gaffer shook his head. “No. I’m Hamfast Gamgee. And this is my son, Samwise Gamgee. It’s very good to find you here.” The Gaffer clapped his hands together. “Now, shall we enjoy this party? We’re wasting time gabbing. More festival music.”

“Do you mind if I stay?” Anakin addressed Sam.

“If you’ll be wantin’ something else,” Sam said. Tremors shook in his hand.

“Something wrong with your hand,” Anakin asked. “I may know what’s troubling you.”

“It’s fine,” Sam said.

“No, it isn’t,” Anakin said. “Now, I may have a cure for you, if you’ll let me help you.”

“What do you know about it?” Sam asked, quite confused.

“Come with me.” Anakin whispered. “Alone. Your father will be alright. It’s you I’ve been meaning to speak to.”

Sam was unsure about this meetin’. What if Mr. Anakin was dangerous? What could he do then? What advice could this… Jedi offer him?

“Come on,” Anakin gestured with a wave of his hand.

“Oh well.” Sam said, following the Jedi down the hallway.

~~~

Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

“So you see, Mr. Frodo, I…” Sam’s hand trembled. “Anakin was here and in the Shire, too. I think he’s trying to help us.”

“How long has your hand been trembling, Sam?” Frodo asked, concerned.

“A while.” Sam/Curtis said. “I didn’t think you’d understand after the First Curse broke, but it happened again recently. Ever since the folk from the Land of Untold Stories arrived.” He admitted. “He’s been searchin’ for Harry Potter.”

“Harry?” Frodo asked, confused. “You mean he’s here in Storybrooke.”

“Possibly,” Sam addressed. “I don’t know where he is, but Anakin’s been searchin’ for him for a while now. They were in…”

“I met Harry in the Land of Untold Stories,” Frodo said. “And Hermione. I didn’t see Ron, though.”

“Either way, I think we need to help Anakin out as best we can,” Sam said, standing up. Frodo clamped his hand on Sam’s jacket sleeve.

“We don’t know where to find him, let alone where he is,” Frodo said. “We can’t go blind in this. We need a plan. I think we’re in danger because Anakin’s come to Storybrooke. We don’t know yet if he’ll become Darth Vader.”

“You think we should distrust him,” Sam said. “He halted his story.”

“His story continued. It’s going to follow through,” Frodo said.

“You don’t know that,” Sam said.

“What do you know about him?” Frodo said, serious.

“Because that one time we were in the Shire, Mr. Anakin told me somethin’ important, something that altered his own story,” Sam said. “No one in the Star Wars universe has done the things he did.”

“Sam, what did he do?” Frodo asked, concerned.

“His son changed fate when he went back in time,” Sam said. “The story followed through, but Anakin… he can’t go back to his universe. He can’t. It’s against the rules.”

“Sam, what did happen?” Frodo asked, serious. “You can tell me. I’ll listen.”

~~~

Bagshot Row, Hobbiton, the Shire, Middle-earth – The Past

Anakin searched through the cabinets in the makeshift greenery. He had to find the right vial. Something that would ease those tremors he’d been having. How did it not occur to him that another would seek out his aide? Unless… no. His senses were right. He beckoned Samwise Gamgee to meet him here.

“Ah!” Sam cried softly. “These tremors. They won’t stop…”

“I know what they are…” Anakin turned around, unveiling underneath his black glove a pale hand, that was also trembling.

“Why do you wear a glove?” Sam asked, concerned.

Anakin sighed. He restored the glove over his right hand. “It’s a bit of a long story. My story wasn’t meant to turn out this way. Living… in an altered reality that I cannot change now… is hard. But ever since my son saved me, all those years ago, I’ve lived a good life. Until the tremors started. Luke, my son, has them too. The price of being a hero.”

“No. Surely it’s for another reason,” Sam asked.

Anakin chuckled. “It is. We’re heroes, you and I. Chosen ones, no doubt. When the tremors start, your life changes. Everything hinges on us saving people. Chosen ones and saviors. That’s the reason why I’m trying to find a cure, to cease those tremors so we can return to a normal life.”

“Normal?” Sam was confused.

“Yes.” Anakin grinned. “I dearly long to have one with my wife, Padme. But I cannot change fate. But maybe you can.” He approached the hobbit. “One day, you will have the pleasure of protecting one of your friends. I cannot tell you the full details, but know that you are not alone.”

“I’d be more alone without the tremors,” Sam said.

“What?” Anakin asked. “You can’t be serious.”

“If savin’ people is what stops the tremors, then I’ll take it.” Sam said, heading towards the doorway. He looked back at the Jedi. “I hope I can return the favor to you someday.”

“If I find a cure, you mean,” Anakin said.

“Good luck, sir Jedi. Maybe you’ll find a cure for all of us heroes,” Sam said, leaving the room.

Anakin stood still, unsure what to do. He wanted to find the cure. But the hobbit’s courage… and sacrifice. Maybe that was all the cure he needed, that he could find. He grinned. Yes, that was the cure.

The tremors in his right hand stopped, as if that was the cure. There was hope. Anakin knew that now. He would find that hope yet. He had it right here, as promised.

~~~

Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

“So you see, Mr. Frodo,” Sam/Curtis stated, “that’s why we need to help Anakin.”

“So, you mean to tell me that he cannot turn into Darth Vader,” Frodo said. “You’re sure? You’re absolutely sure?”

“He doesn’t go on absolutes, Mr. Frodo,” Sam said.

“So you’re defending him, after all he’s done,” Frodo said.

“His life was altered, the minute his son shielded him from the grief he had after his mother died,” Sam said. “Anakin could have turned evil in that moment, but he didn’t. His son, Luke, saved him that day. Altered his timeline. The Star Wars universe hasn’t been the same since. There are just some realities that cannot be changed once…”

“Sam, we could still save Anakin’s…” Frodo froze. No. If Anakin was put back on that path… then Darth Vader would come out. It was a dark thought, darker than he would have imagined.

“Mr. Frodo, it is wrong, but Anakin’s original timeline has been his path to the darkness,” Sam said. “Don’t you see? It’s not that I defend him, but… I think we need to have that timeline restored, no matter what.”

“It would lead us down a dark path.” Frodo said. “I just got rid of my dark half and he’s loose in Storybrooke. On top of that, these tremors I’ve been having, the fact that Mindy is trying to protect our timelines. We can’t possibly do this. It’s too much.”

“It’s for the best,” Sam said.

“No,” Frodo said, serious. “The stories that are here in Storybrooke are different than those told in the fairytales, horror stories and adventure tales. Like it or not, our actions have altered our own timeline. Things have changed, Sam.”

“But not yours,” Sam said. “I’ve been debating this for a while now. Whether we should let Luke stop himself and just let Anakin…”

“It’s still a dark path, Sam. Even if we could…” Frodo was cut off at Merry’s entrance. “Merry, what are you doing here?”

“Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde were killed,” Merry said. “And you two have been gabbing. You missed it.”

“Mr. Merry,” Sam said, serious.

“Come on, Sam,” Frodo said, heading out of the house and into his car. He glanced over his shoulder at Sam and Merry. They were in the car, too. “What are you two doing here?”

“Come on, Mr. Frodo,” Sam said. “Drive.”

“Like I have to do everything,” Frodo said, turning on the engine.

POP!

Frodo jumped a little at the sound, but it didn’t stop him from driving to the docks. The drive took a couple of minutes, but in little time, he found a parking spot and turned off the engine. He stopped, staring at the bodies of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, with the same bloodstain on the side of their lips. What the… how did this happen? He approached Regina and Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin, who were in a deep conversation.

“Let me guess.” Frodo said, getting their attention. “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are… dead.”

“Dead,” Regina added a second after him.

“It seems that way,” Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin said.

“How did this happen?” Frodo asked, crossing his arms.

“Well, we found a loophole.” Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin said, “the only way to kill the Evil Queen and your Darkness, Frodo Baggins, is to kill the original host. You two.”

“What?” Sam and Merry asked, perking up.

“We have to… die,” Frodo said. “But the vision…”

“There are some things that cannot be changed,” Mr. Gold said, “Mr. Beutel or do you prefer Mr. Baggins. I can only imagine what your welcome home party will be. Now, if you’ll excuse me.” He walked away, leaving Frodo in a reminiscent state. How… he would have to die? But the Oracle’s visions… could it be he was wrong… about everything? There must be something he could do to prevent this from happening… something…

“Hey,” Emma’s voice drew Frodo back to reality. “What’s wrong? You look distressed.”

“I’m going to die, Emma,” Frodo said.

“What?” Emma asked, confused.

“That’s the only way to stop my Darkness,” Frodo said. He turned to Regina and Emma. “Look, the both of you have shared the darkness and light before. I need you to do something for me. If anything happens to me, I would prefer it if you both got me out of the fix I was in. Show me the light again. Can you do that?”

“Yeah. Sure,” Regina said, folding her arms.

“Of course,” Emma said, gazing into Frodo’s blue eyes.

“Thank you,” Frodo said, his voice filled with remorse and understanding. He felt better now. That was a plus for him. He just didn’t know how to tell Sam… but then again, Sam only had a brief moment where he touched the Ring. But then, wherever Bilbo was, Frodo hoped he would confide in him what he had just asked Regina and Emma to promise. The feeling was mutual at least.

There was hope after all.

~~~

Bagshot Row, Hobbiton, the Shire, Middle-earth – The Past

Anakin stared at the blank pieces of parchment on the table. The greenhouse was filled with books and scrolls on gardening. He needed to find the plant he was searching for. Athelas. Kingsfoil. It was the only herb that could…

“Looking for something!” A gold-speckled man asked, startling Anakin and nearly making him accidentally knock the small table over on the polished wood floor and red rug. “Did you really think I wouldn’t notice?”

“Rumplestiltskin,” Anakin said. “You’re the last person I want to see right now.”

“Not even for this,” Rumplestiltskin pulled out a vial with green herbs inside. “One drop of this and you can travel to any realm you desire.”

“Give it to me,” Anakin said.

“Not until you tell me what it is you want,” Rumplestiltskin said. “And what I want to make sure your timeline runs exactly the way it seems. Didn’t you tell anyone about your wrecked timeline, all because of your son, who is not yet born?” Anakin’s lip curled. He so wanted his timeline righted and restored. Just not like this. Rumplestiltskin continued anyway. “I must warn you, there will be consequences.”

“My life is already filled with consequences,” Anakin said. “Hand it over.”

“Uh uh!” Rumplestiltskin asked. “What will you give me in return?”

“You owe me a favor.” Anakin said. “After that, we’re through and I get my timeline back.”

“So, you didn’t tell Samwise Gamgee about his soon-to-be altered timeline,” Rumplestiltskin said.

“Why should I?” Anakin said.

“Well, let’s just say you’re not the only one with an altered timeline,” Rumplestiltskin said. “Do we have a deal?”

“Yes,” Anakin said. “Now where can I find Harry Potter? I think it’s time we met in person.”

Rumplestiltskin chuckled lightly. “I assure you, Anakin Skywalker, you will.”

Anakin stared at the vial in his hand. It was now or never. Uncorking the vial, Anakin drank half of the bottle, before throwing the green liquid onto a plant. The spell worked. The green portal was open. He nodded to Rumplestiltskin once. By a scream, he ran through the portal, disappearing from sight. Rumplestiltskin laughed, taking the vial with him. He grinned once at the hobbit who returned, Samwise Gamgee.

“Ta ta, my dear.” Rumplestiltskin said. “I hope we meet again.” He vanished in a puff of smoke. Sam was stunned.

“What – what just happened?” Sam asked, confused. He had no idea when he would get an answer for what happened. But then, what went on while he was away? He feared he wouldn’t know the answer to his many questions. And that’s what scared him most.

~~~

Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

Frodo drank a shot of whiskey in one gulp. He about had enough to drink as it was. He was tired, and given the events that happened today… it was enough to swallow. Still, he was in Granny’s diner, drinking away his sorrows. But what did it matter. The only way he could get rid of his Darkness for good would be… no. He mustn’t think like that. What would the others say? What would his friends say about him in this beveled state of mind?

“Mr. Frodo,” it was Sam’s voice. Good ol’ Sam… “are you alrigh’?”

“I wish I was, but then…” Frodo was cut off by another voice. It was Mindy’s, showing in front of him a small chessboard.

“Come on. Let’s play a round or two,” Mindy said, chipper.

Frodo laughed merrily. “Are you sure?”

“Well, I’ve got to keep your mind occupied,” Mindy said, beaming with a warm smile.

“I’ve love to play a hand,” Frodo said, helping her with the pieces. It was good to be a hobbit. He needed this reminder, which he appreciated gratuitously. “Thank you, Mindy, for this at least.”

“The game hasn’t begun yet,” Mindy said.

“Right,” Frodo said, also smiling, “let’s play a hand or two.”

“Good luck,” Sam said, gulping down a swig of his mug… until Merry interrupted him by tapping him on the arm, nearly spitting out his drink. Frodo stifled a laugh. Yes, he was very fortunate to have his friends around. Maybe nothing would happen after all. He would be fine. He would see to that, that much he felt certain would come to pass. Nothing would stand in their way now.

Nothing.

-.-.-

A ginger haired man wandered through the woods. He wore a grey trench coat and was donned in a white shirt, grey trousers and black dress shoes. But his business was more urgent than what it seemed. Even as he advanced through the woods, he could feel her spirit moving, as if his Patronus could sense her presence.

“Sigrid,” the woman with dark hair addressed him.

“Shirin,” the ginger haired man replied, passing by her. He knew what he was doing. And there was the flaming red haired Oracle, awaiting his presence.

“I thought you wouldn’t come,” the Oracle said.

“I had to see for myself,” Sigrid admitted. “Shirin, she’s…”

“Jasmine,” the Oracle said. “They haven’t sensed your presence either.”

“I thought if I stuck around,” Sigrid told her, “that I would find them. Have you seen Harry or Hermione?”

“No, I haven’t,” the Oracle said. “But they are here. You will find them, Ronald Weasley. I know you will.”

Ron nodded. “Yes. I guessed they would be here. My brothers Fred and George know they are. After the ship crashed in this forest…”

“You will find them, Ron,” the Oracle said. “I guarantee you will.”

Ron sighed. “I hope you’re right.” He would not lose his friends again. That much was certain.

Chapter Text

London, England, Our World – Years Ago

Diagon Alley: a bustling alley filled with witches and wizards alike. There were a variety of shops there as well, including an ice cream shop and a sports shop for all essential Quidditch needs. However, they hadn’t expected a man in robes, with a black turban, carrying a serpent staff and a red bird perched on his shoulder.

The man was Jafar, who felt it safe to wear his robes in this alley.

“Diagon Alley,” Jafar mused, “a hive for sorcerers and sorceresses. But I seek one sorcerer. A boy.” He announced, before turning to an elderly wizard, “Do you know where he is?”

“Who?” the elderly wizard asked.

Jafar spoke to the crowd. “I am looking for the Boy Who Lived. If any of you are hiding him, please show me. Announce his presence. I would be grateful to meet him in person.” There was silence throughout the alley. “So be it. If he is not here, I shall look elsewhere.” He vanished in a puff of red smoke.

The crowd sighed in relief, but they were still frazzled by what had happened. The silence passed and the crowd of witches and wizards returned to their current business. Amongst the teenagers, a note was passed around, eventually making its way towards a fourteen-year-old wizard with a mess of black hair and wearing a black robe over his green sweater and tan pants.

“What is it, Harry?” asked his ginger-haired friend.

“We need to go to Madam Malkin’s shop. Now,” Harry said, gazing over at his friends.

“Oh Harry,” said his bushy haired comrade, “you aren’t going to try anything, are you?”

“No.” Harry said. “Of course not, Hermione.” He glanced over at the street. “But this is important. I just know it is.”

“What could go wrong?” his ginger-haired friend said.

~~~

Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

Frodo stepped out of his car. He was close to the forest now. And yet, Anakin’s message did not make sense.

Frodo,

I have a lead on the Saviors and Chosen Ones role. I think you’ll find him in the woods.

Anakin

“What does this mean?” Frodo spoke to the note. He hadn’t seen Bilbo yet. It was like he had disappeared. Not only that, he had no idea what was happening in Middle-earth or in other worlds. Was Gandalf all right? Was Kovu? And what about his suspicions towards Anakin. He knew the Jedi was hiding something from him and his friends. Something he wasn’t telling them… yet. “Oomph!” He grunted, as he collapsed on the paved road. It was a ginger-haired man, but… wait. “Wait!” He grabbed the man’s shoulder again. “Who are you?”

The ginger-haired man faced him. He was alarmed.

“Who are you?” Frodo repeated.

“Did Anakin send for you?” The ginger-haired man asked.

“Yeah, why?” Frodo said. “Do you mind telling me your name?”

The ginger-haired man fell silent. Frodo had no choice. He would take the man with him to the Sheriff’s station, see what the Charmings had to say about him.

“Come on,” Frodo said, leading the way.

“Right. After you,” the ginger-haired man said, gesturing to the car.

“It’s my car,” he protested.

“Right then,” the ginger-haired man stepped inside on the front passenger’s seat. Frodo followed, driving them back to town.

-.-.-

“You’re Ron Weasley?” Anakin asked the ginger-haired man. Frodo had barely entered the Sherriff’s station, when Anakin dragged him and the man he met on the road inside. And they weren’t alone. Frodo’s friends were there, too, after receiving a strange summons from Anakin. So far, Frodo had yet to be convinced on whether Anakin was truly up to something.

“My reputation proceeds me,” Ron spoke up right after Anakin asked his question.

“And you don’t have a clue where Harry and Hermione are?” Mindy asked him.

“Well, that’s what I came to find, to ask you about. Aren’t you supposed to be an author?” Ron said.

“How do you know about that?” Frodo asked him in turn.

“I heard the rumor no more than a week ago,” Ron said. “Well, things were changing. Somehow, I ended up in Storybrooke after the First Curse broke. No one noticed me back then.” He asked the group, “So where are they? Harry and Hermione? I doubt they came alone. Didn’t they fly in on the Dirigible?”

“It’s hard to say,” Anakin said. “I’m looking for my son, wherever he is in town. If we can find him, we’ll find your friends.”

“Thank you,” Ron said.

“Come on.” Sam/Curtis gestured. “Let’s show you around.”

“Have you heard anything about Túrin?” Merry/Donovan said.

“No. What?” Pippin/Edric said, confused.

“He’s searching for his sister,” Merry said, “The last we checked up on him…” his voice faded as he left the Sherriff’s station with Pippin, Sam and Ron.

“You can go with them, if you want,” Frodo told Mindy. “I won’t be long.”

“I really wanted to stay,” Mindy said. “Come on. You can’t leave me out of this, not if there’s an adventure in mind…”

“I think he’s right,” Anakin said, facing her. “Frodo needs to tell me something. We don’t need you now.”

“Go on,” Frodo said to Mindy, whose expression was filled with shock.

“Please don’t leave me out…” she was cut off by Anakin and Frodo.

“Go on,” they told her.

Mindy left the Sherriff’s station in silence. Frodo sighed. He didn’t want to do this, but… he needed to speak with Anakin. And he soon got his wish granted.

“What is it, Frodo?” Anakin asked the gentle-hobbit. “There was something on your mind, wasn’t there?”

Frodo faced him, suspicious. “Why did you come here? First, you’re not Sauron. Then you trust Samwise. What is up with you? Why are you doing this?”

“You’re not the only one seeking answers,” Anakin said.

“Then what aren’t you telling me?” Frodo asked him.

“You’ll find out soon enough.” Anakin said, departing from the Sherriff’s station. He said to himself, “We all will.” He opened the doors. Frodo was alone again.

~~~

Hogwarts, Scotland, Our World – The Past

Harry couldn’t believe it. Albus Dumbledore was dead. His mentor was gone. What was he to do? Well, he could bid farewell to Ginny Weasley now, while there was still time. He had to do something. He couldn’t have her come with him on his quest to find the Horcruxes. What if Voldemort captured her? He had to think of something… only by the Lake, he hadn’t expected to see Jafar again.

“Jafar.” Harry said. “What are you doing here?”

“I came to help you, of course,” Jafar said. “You know what the price is of being the Chosen One, don’t you?”

“Like you’d tell me,” Harry said. “Get out.”

“Not before I give you something,” the sorcerer pulled out a brass key.

“What is that?” Harry asked, confused.

“The key to your salvation. A place where stories stop ticking,” Jafar said. “If you set yourself down the right path, the Wizarding World, your homeland, will be safe. Nothing bad will happen there. I can assure you.” He placed the key into Harry’s hand. “Something to remember me by when we meet again. And we will meet again. I guarantee it.”

Harry looked down at the key. It did seem ordinary, but… he looked up. Jafar was gone. Now what was he to do?

“Harry,” Hermione called, coming over to him. She asked, upon seeing the key, “What is that?”

“A way to stop time, should we choose it,” Harry said.

“What’s that?” Ron asked, approaching him.

“The key to the Land of Untold Stories,” Harry said, “or so it says on the side.”

“You’re not going to use it now, are you?” Hermione asked, concerned. “Because we have work to do.”

Harry sighed. He could use it. But there was so much happening. Voldemort was out there. Bellatrix Lestrange was out there still. He closed his hand into a fist around the key. He wouldn’t use it now. But he had a plan.

“When the time is right, we can use the key to go to another land,” Harry said. “But not now. Let’s go and defeat Voldemort.”

~~~

Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

Ron’s house looked very similar to the Burrow, complete with its stories towering over each other like the Tower of Pisa. And yet, it stayed firm and in place. Frodo right away assumed magic was at work here. But then, he already had a hands-on experience with magic.

No. Instead, he and his friends were inside Ron’s shed, making a combination of spells in a cast iron cauldron. However, Frodo pulled Sam off to the side.

“Are you sure this is wise? Putting our trust in someone whose about to become a dark lord,” Frodo asked him. “We can’t trust him. He could be anyone.”

“Have you seen Sauron in him?” Sam/Curtis asked in turn. “He won’t harm us.”

“Well, his original timeline is…”

“Mr. Frodo, that’s in the past. Whatever fate has in store for him, we can’t be certain of it,” Sam said.

“His son Luke’s still around, possibly.”

“What makes you say that, Mr. Frodo?”

“Because when I was trapped in the Academy, Luke looked just like Anakin, if not the same age as he,” Frodo said. “There’s something off about him that we don’t fully understand…”

“Here we are!” Ron said, pulling out two red and gold scarves. “These are Harry and Hermione’s scarves. And with just a hint of magic… ah. There!” He poured the potion onto the scarves. Frodo stared at the scarves then and there, his thoughts letting go of his concerns, if only for a moment. The scarves glowed red, before floating in the air and onto the sidewalk.

Frodo caught Anakin’s troubled expression, if only brief. Their mission now was to see where the scarves would travel… and after a flight through the town of Storybrooke, the group reached Storybrooke’s Heritage Park and the lake. Frodo stopped just long enough to grab Mindy’s sleeve, nearly toppling her over and himself.

Standing before them were two figures, overlooking the lake. The first was a grown man with black hair and donned in a leather jacket, a blue shirt and black jeans. The second figure was a young woman with bushy hair and wearing a red sweater and a long grey skirt.

The woman spoke first to Ron. “Did you miss us, Ron?”

“Hermione!” Ron was ecstatic. “Harry! When did you arrive?”

Harry smiled. “It’s good to see you, Ron.”

~~~

Hogsmeade Village, Hogwarts, Scotland, Our World – The Past

It had been a day since Voldemort and Bellatrix Lestrange were defeated. There was so much work to do. And yet, Harry couldn’t stop looking at the brass key Jafar had given him.

The Land of Untold Stories. It seemed fitting to use it now. Maybe he should…

“Harry, you’re drunk,” Hermione said.

“I’m not that drunk, Hermione,” Harry said.

“But you’re still planning on leaving the Wizardry World,” Ron said.

“There’s loads of work to be done,” Hermione said.

“You said that the first time we had this key,” Harry said.

“Harry, please don’t do this,” Hermione said. “There’s other ways to go about this. We don’t need time off.”

“Yeah. But I need to do something. Maybe in a couple years from now, the Wizardry World will be fine. Until then,” Harry turned the key on a door. It worked, causing a golden-hued barrier to reveal itself. He turned to his friends, “Come on. Let’s go.”

“This had better not be a habit,” Ron said.

“It’s fine, Ron,” Hermione said, standing up.

“What am I supposed to do?” Ron asked, confused. “Harry? Hermione. Don’t do this.”

“You can find us again,” Harry said. “We’ll be back. I just hope the Wizardry World is alright.”

“You sure you won’t need me?” Ron asked.

“We will. Find us again. I haven’t given up on you, but…” Hermione said, walking through the portal.

Ron asked Harry, “Why did she just agree to this? It doesn’t make sense.”

“It’s Hermione, Ron. She always has a plan,” Harry said. “Keep the Wizardry World safe for us, until we get back. If not, then we’ll meet again.”

“Don’t get caught, wherever you’re heading,” Ron said.

Harry embraced his friend. The moment lasted all too short, for he released Ron and disappeared through the tunnel. Ron was alone again. Now what was he to do?

~~~

Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

Granny’s Diner was usually packed during the lunch hour. But for Frodo, finding a booth to sit down was half the time impossible to fill. Not that he didn’t mind sitting at booths. He just found the table and stools are more suitable place to read. And yet, with Harry, Ron and Hermione, they were able to find a booth to sit down. How that happened… well, Frodo just wanted to get to the topic at hand. Only Ron jumped ahead with his questions for Harry and Hermione.

“Wait a second.” Ron asked, quizzical, “you mean to tell me that you found Anakin Skywalker and his son Luke there? In the Land of the Untold Stories?”

“He offered us a job,” Hermione said, “one that we couldn’t refuse.”

“I couldn’t believe it.” Frodo said, amazed and stunned. “You mean this whole time you two lived in the Untold Stories.”

“You were there,” Hermione said, stunned, “You saw we were working there.”

“He saw me,” Harry said.

“He saw us both, Harry,” Hermione corrected him.

“But still…” Frodo was cut off by Hermione, who spoke to Ron.

“Why did you come to this place, Ron? This town. What were you thinking? We told you to stay in the Wizardry World.”

“I’m sorry. After being uprooted by two curses and being brought here, you’d think I’d like to know what it feels like to be in a land of untold stories,” Ron said, serious.

“Ron, what did happen in the Wizardry World?” Harry asked him, “When Hermione and I weren’t there?”

“Last I heard, from the rumors the ravens are giving in recent weeks, there’s a new villain in town. He hasn’t left the Wizardry World alone,” Ron explained. “Not only that, there’s rumors circulating that travel between worlds is open. Saruman and a man named Rider have entered our home. We must go back there.”

“We will,” Hermione said, “as soon as we find a bean.”

“Magic beans,” Harry said. “Come on, Hermione. It’s not like we’re looking for food.”

Ron’s gaze averted to a white frosted cake. Frodo saw his gaze then, too. Oh, how he longed for a piece of cake. His mouth watered just thinking about the creamy frosting and… “I’ll go get us a few slices,” Ron said, standing up.

“Just like Ron,” Hermione giggled. “Just typical. Food’s on his mind.”

“He isn’t the only one,” Harry said. That got Frodo’s attention back, for a moment.

“What?” Frodo asked, confused. Not minding Harry and Hermione merry laughter, Frodo’s attention turned to Anakin, who was busy speaking to a blonde-haired Jedi. He recognized the man. Luke Skywalker. So he did make it to town after all.

Just what was their stories? How did they enter the Land of Untold Stories? Frodo could only guess, even as he drank a glass of apple cider and dug into his slice of white cake, that Anakin and Luke must have had a good reason for coming to the Land of Untold Stories. Whatever the reason was for their coming to Storybrooke would wait. For now, it was a good slice of cake. Frodo could agree with Ron on the cake and its frosted flowers. It seemed Ron had a good eye for good food…

Frodo’s hand trembled. But he wasn’t alone, for Harry’s hand did the same. Frodo returned his gaze up to Harry, who shrugged. It seemed they had something in common. They were both Saviors, Chosen Ones… all of the above. What became of them next was unclear. For now, all they could do was hope for better times, wherever the next adventure lay. Frodo just hoped his visions would improve. But how would that be possible? He would find out and see. For now, he could admit the cake was delicious. That’s what counted, right? Yeah, it did.

What more could they do, than enjoy the small things in life? Frodo sighed. He was glad to have found good friends when he did. Now they could focus on the task at hand: the meaning behind his and Emma’s visions, Anakin and Luke’s business in Storybrooke, and also how Harry, Ron and Hermione were to return to the Wizardry World safe and sound. There was a lot to do. But for this moment, Frodo agreed: he would find hope wherever it lay on his path to being the hero everyone needed, even if it meant figuring out why he had these visions and where they were heading. For now, he was lucky to have found good friends when he did. Now he could celebrate with as much joy as would come his way.

And yet, he found himself aware of one thing: Sauron was still in town. Just what was he doing in Storybrooke? He had this feeling he would find out soon enough.

Chapter Text

Forest Moon of Endor, The Galaxy Far, Far Away – The Past

Luke Skywalker turned on his lightsaber. The green blade hummed to life, bringing about it a time of peace and justice. But which side was filled with justice? And which wasn’t? He knew now that his father, Anakin Skywalker, was one with the Force. And yet, during the party with the Ewoks, bear-like creatures that roamed the forest moon and inhabited it, Luke couldn’t help but speak to Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda and Anakin Skywalker, who appeared as blue ghosts.

“I think it will work,” Anakin said, his hand pressed against his chin.

“Dangerous this is,” Yoda said.

“We don’t know if this will work,” Obi-Wan said. “Traveling through time will change the course of history. If one wrong move is made, then…”

“Will it work?” Luke asked.

“Yes, but the repercussions could lead to…” Obi-Wan was cut off by Anakin.

“…a time shift,” Anakin said. “An alternate reality, one we won’t be able to determine…” he sighed. “But we’ll find out later how much this will affect other worlds, other galaxies.”

“If it’s for the best,” Luke said.

“Then take it,” Anakin pointed to the blue bean on the ground. “This will take you to your chosen point in time, to when I attacked the Sand People. If you time it right, Luke, you may help me out. But be careful. We’re not sure where this’ll take us or our journeys here on out.”

“For every path, there’s a decision that must be made,” Luke said.

“That’s right,” Anakin said, nodding in agreement.

“Either way, by doing this, everyone will have two paths, two visions that will be followed,” Obit-Wan said. “The question is: which path do we take?”

“Here it goes,” Luke said, tossing the bean on the ground. A blue whirlpool tunnel erupted from the ground. It was spinning so fast.

“When you get to the point in the timeline, you will lose contact with us,” Obi-Wan warned.

“But only when you’re on the right path will we return,” Anakin said.

“Good luck,” Yoda said.

“I’m not taking chances. I will find you, father,” Luke said to Anakin. “I promise.” He leapt into the whirlpool, vanishing as the portal disappeared. He was now in the past.

~~~

Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

Frodo was stunned. Sure, he had eaten breakfast at Granny’s Diner, but it was here that Anakin and Luke finally told what they’d been hiding. He knew it all along, this whole time. But… the only question was how. How could they keep information secret from him?

“You,” Frodo looked at both Jedi, “you mean, this whole time, you changed time? You changed our own timeline?”

“It wasn’t just our timeline that was affected,” Anakin said.

“We caused a chain of events to occur.” Luke explained. “We’re on an alternate path. An alternate reality. One we’ve had trouble fixing.”

“We have no way of knowing if we’ll all return to our original timelines.” Anakin sighed. “The ones found in the books, not just here, but across galaxies, other worlds, universes. Our timeline is changed.”

“This is my fault,” Luke said.

“No. The fault is mine,” Anakin said. “My Force Ghost began this a long time ago, in the original timeline. He wasn’t alone. Obi-Wan and Yoda were hesitant, but I wasn’t.”

“Reckless as always,” Frodo said. “So, these visions I’ve been having.”

“It’s two paths,” Luke and Anakin said at the same time.

“Two paths lay before you,” Anakin explained to Frodo. “One is the original timeline. The other belongs to this altered reality.” He added, “From what you’ve told me, and from what I know of your original story, in the altered timeline, you face whoever’s under the hood.”

“And the original timeline?” Frodo asked. “What does it say?”

“You set sail,” Luke said. “Heading into the West, to the Undying Lands.” He added, “There’s no way of knowing which path will come to light.”

“Then you’d better fix the timeline,” Frodo said.

“No,” Anakin said.

“No?” Frodo asked, concerned. “Why not?”

“Because this timeline needs to play itself out,” Anakin said. “I just hope you find your darker half soon, or there’ll be more mischief caused that isn’t in our hands.”

“Frodo,” Emma called, getting the gentle-hobbit’s attention, “Do you want to come with me? I’m going to find Aladdin, tell him something.”

“Sure,” Frodo said. He turned to Anakin, telling him, “We’re not done.”

“I didn’t say we were.” Anakin said. “If you have more questions, feel free to find me.”

Frodo nodded in silence. He stood up a second later, following Emma out of the diner and onto the street. Somehow, Frodo had this feeling he would get his say in the matter, even if meant finding a way to get on the proper timeline. Oh, just what was he doing? What was he getting himself into? Well, it was time to find Aladdin, tell him what happened between him, Anakin and Luke.

~~~

Sand People Campsite, Tatooine, The Galaxy Far, Far Away – Farther into the Past

Luke collapsed on the sandy floor. The portal was gone. But where did he land in? Where was he? No. There was a Tusken Raider camp. The Sand People. But how… and there was his father with short brown hair, a ceremonial Padawan braid and dressed in brown Jedi robes. Wait… he recognized this place. No. He wouldn’t let his father, Anakin Skywalker, turn to the Dark Side.

So he followed him inside the tent after his father. There was a middle-aged woman in horrible condition. What could he do? The only thing he could do: gently touch his father’s shoulder. His father turned to him, shock on his face.

“Who are you?” Anakin demanded, alert.

“Your mother’s going to be fine,” Luke said, calming him. “Remember, there is hope.”

“My son,” Anakin’s mother said, drawing her last breath. Luke wanted to help her, but it was too late. But at least he could calm his father, if he could…

“Don’t give into hate,” Luke told Anakin. “Remember, you are one with the Force. I know there’s good in you.”

“They took my mother,” Anakin said. “They will pay.”

“Wait!” Luke said, just as his father brandished his lightsaber hilt. “Think about what you’re doing. Do you really want this on your shoulders? Be the man, the Jedi, I know you are. Father.”

“What?” Anakin asked, putting his lightsaber hilt away. “I have a son?”

“Yes. Now we must leave. Where were you bound?” Luke asked him.

“To the moisture farms.” Anakin said, looking at his mother’s lifeless body. “What am I to do?” He understood. “I’m taking her with us. Do you have a speeder, my son?” He asked Luke.

“If I can find one,” Luke said.

“Come on,” Anakin said, wrapping up his mother’s body in a blanket. Luke watched him, but also noticed another blue bean in his pocket. Should he take it? No. He might as well follow his father back to his, Luke’s, uncle and aunt. Surely they would love to see him, he hoped.

In the distance, somewhere in the Force, Yoda declared, “Take the bean to the portal he should.”

“This is a terrible loss,” Obi-Wan said.

“But it will change things.” Anakin said. “The Emperor will get what he deserves, but not through the Dark Side. Through the Light Side.”

“But that will mess with time further, Anakin,” Obi-Wan said. “You know what will happen then.”

“Yes,” Anakin sighed, “Yes I do. But it’s for the best. For now, at least.”

~~~

Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

Frodo stopped his car behind Emma’s yellow slug bug car. He couldn’t believe it. This was the entrance leading into Storybrooke. He was so used to the sign that read Leaving Storybrooke that he’d nearly forgot about this one. He turned off the engine, stepping outside the car and heading towards them. From the looks of things, Emma and Aladdin, a young man with shoulder-length black hair, were already in a conversation.

“Mind if I join in?” Frodo asked.

“Sure,” Emma said, reassured.

“If this has anything to do with wishing against being the Savior…” Aladdin was cut off by Frodo.

“No.” Frodo spoke up. “It’s about that and also the Chosen Ones, those that volunteer and become heroes, and Saviors who fall into that category without question.” He paused. “That isn’t the point. All of this has led me to this moment. All the pain, all the battles, all the fights I’ve had to endure. I mean, maybe going as far as saying I wish I wasn’t the Ring-bearer, maybe that would change things.”

“Okay,” Aladdin said, confused. “What has this to do with me or with Emma?”

“Just the point is you can’t run from your past,” Frodo said. “If you do, you won’t be happy. You’ll regret it. But if there was a way to change my past, make me see what I would become…” he grunted softly, “…maybe I’m just asking too much.”

“Well, I think we’re in agreement here. Sort of,” Emma said.

“I think I know what you mean,” Aladdin said, understanding. He turned to Frodo, “Thanks for helping. I didn’t know hobbits were so useful, so versatile.”

“Don’t push your luck,” Frodo said.

“I don’t intend to,” Aladdin said. “I just needed the advice.”

“I’m glad I could help,” Frodo and Emma said in unison. However, Frodo could feel his darker half close. It’s just… where was he? No. Frodo’s Darkness vanished in a puff of dark smoke. So he was here, Frodo thought. That’s what he feared. Hopefully, Frodo’s Darkness wasn’t onto something evil. But then, it was his Darkness. Sooner or later, he would have to face him once more.

~~~

Naboo, The Galaxy Far, Far Away – The Past

Anakin stood on the balcony, his hands wrapped around the stone rail. Everything was fine about him. No metal to replace his arms and legs. Although, he couldn’t help wearing a black glove over his left arm. It was just a piece of himself he couldn’t let go.

The galaxy was all right. The Supreme Chancellor taken care of, thanks to Luke Prime. Little Luke was with his mother Padme Amidala. But it was Luke Prime who he still wanted to talk to. It was as if Luke Prime hadn’t aged.

“You know,” Anakin told him. “If you hadn’t stopped me, freed me from the Tusken Raider camp. None of this would come to light. Thank you.”

“Maybe,” Luke Prime said. “I still have one more bean. We could use it, escape from this fate. Go to the Land of Untold Stories.”

“I have my life here. Right where I need it, all thanks to you,” Anakin said, grinning.

“I still want to use it,” Luke Prime said. “This life isn’t how it’s supposed to be. But if I just take you away from here, somewhere where we could figure out why this is happening…”

“Luke,” Padme cried. “Be careful. You’ve already told us this story once before.”

“Yes, but you don’t know how I came to be here.” Luke Prime said. He pointed to Anakin. “All of this happened, happening, was your idea. Your Force Ghost’s idea.”

“What are you saying?” Anakin was confused. “You’re saying we came from another time.”

“Then why not use the bean,” said a gold-speckled man who just entered the apartment. “Forgive me. Rumplestiltskin at your service. And you may yet be in luck. Why not use the bean now? Find out what happens to everyone in the future. But know if you continue down this path, Luke, you may not return.” He sang, “Not until the past’s undone, for the future’s unwritten.” He spoke to Luke, “Does that sound like a plan?”

“You don’t have a deal for us, do you?” Anakin asked him.

“Oh, indeed I do, but I think I’ll wait and see what transpires in this world and in others,” Rumplestiltskin said. “Good luck. You’ll need it.” He vanished in a puff of purple smoke.

“Luke, don’t do this,” Padme warned Luke Prime. “Don’t change the future further.”

“I’m sorry, but I have to do this.” Luke Prime said. “If I can’t get back home, to my timeline, then what hope is there.” He turned to Anakin. “I’m sorry I dragged you into this. I hope you find peace here.”

“Wait. NOOO!” Padme screamed.

It was too late. Luke Prime threw the bean into the water, causing a whirlpool to spur. It was the portal. He needed to take it now.

“Luke, what are you doing?” Anakin shouted. “You won’t come back.”

“Not to this timeline, but you were right. It’s unwise to change the future. To change fate. It’s too risky.” Luke Prime jumped over the balcony. “I’ll see you later, father! I’ll see you in another time!” He was gone.

“Anakin!” Padme cried.

“We’ll see each other again!” Anakin called. He turned to the whirlpool. “I’m coming, Luke. I’m coming.” He jumped, straight into the portal. He came to in moments, collapsing on the cobbled stone street after Luke Prime. No way. The place looked so different, so special. He asked Luke, his son, “Where did you send us?”

“Welcome to the Land of Untold Stories,” Luke said, “father.”

-.-.-

Anakin’s Study, Academy, Land of Untold Stories – The Past, Four Months Later

Luke entered the lavish study, complete with books from all corners of the galaxies and universes. To his surprise, he found his father, Anakin, researching books on Middle-earth. It wasn’t the first time he caught his father looking through books and scrolls on the world.

“Father,” Luke said, “you’re looking up Middle-earth again.”

“Yes. I did,” Anakin said. “It turns out there may be a Halfling who can stop the darkness from coming. His name is Frodo Baggins. We will find him, one way or another and…”

“Are we too late?” asked a bushy haired teenage girl.

“Hermione,” said a black-haired teenage boy.

“They’re new recruits,” Luke told his father. “Anakin, meet Harry Potter and Hermione Granger. They just came here from their home world and are looking for work.”

“Excellent.” Anakin said, standing up. “I think I know what jobs to give them: Hermione in the studies and Harry, you’ll be working on navigation. We must do what we can to bring Frodo here. It’s crucial that we do.”

“And why is that?” Harry asked, confused. “Any reason why we need him? Who is he?”

“Someone we’re about to meet,” Luke and Anakin said at the same time.

“Someone who will help us finish what we started.” Anakin said, finishing his son’s sentence. “We will find a way off this island, one way or another. It’s time Storybrooke met its match. We’ll see to it that it does. I won’t turn evil again. I guarantee that.”

“And if you fail,” Hermione said.

“Ask my son,” Anakin said. “He started this.”

“Actually, you did,” Luke said. “Or your Force Ghost did. So whatever you plan is, you can tell us.”

“Just know that it isn’t us who is in danger.” Anakin faced them. “We’re not alone. We never were. Whoever wants this to happen already knows our plan. That is why we must act fast, now and soon. The fate of the worlds, universes and galaxies rests on our shoulders.” He sat down. “I just hope we’re ready for what’s coming, whatever it is that’s coming. We’ll need all the heroes we can get. Now more than ever.”

“I hope you’re right, father,” Luke said.

“I know I am, this time,” Anakin said, grinning a little. But it wasn’t an evil grin. It was a smirk, a ray of hope that may yet reinstate everyone to their original timelines. For now, he wouldn’t rest until himself, his family, everyone received their happy endings as it was agreed, and prophesized, years before their time.

It was a promise he wouldn’t soon forget.

~~~

Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

The docks were so calming. That's why Frodo chose this spot. Stepping outside, he leaned against his car, sending a few text messages to Merry, Pippin and Mindy. If there was one thing he could count on, but who was he kidding? He needed to talk to Sam. It seemed like the most important lesson, about friendship, that he could have. He needed to trust his friends... but with all that was going on, his darker half on the move, Anakin and Luke quite literally changing the timeline for all stories… he couldn’t take this anymore.

Oh, what was he doing? What was his darker half up to? And where was Bilbo these days? It’s like he disappeared off Storybrooke’s map… he wondered if he would have to find him again. He may yet have that chance a second time, sooner rather than late.

-.-.-

Frodo’s Darkness climbed up the stairs of Sauron’s house. It looked much more sinister than the first time Frodo had entered his house. So much iron and spikes. How could Frodo’s Darkness possibly… oh, the door was open.

“What do you want?” Sauron asked, gruffly, “Frodo’s Darkness.” He added, serious, “You have no place here amongst me.”

“Nor would I to a villain,” Frodo’s Darkness chuckled. “But we are villains, in a sense of the word.” He told him, “We need to talk. Now.”

“Why should I speak to you?” Sauron asked, suspicious.

“Because I think you’ll like where this conversation’s going, and how to turn Frodo’s heart dark. Interested?” Frodo’s Darkness chimed in with a mischievous smile.

“Come on in,” Sauron said, opening the door for him.

“Thank you,” Frodo’s Darkness said, moving into the house, “Sauron.”

“Just don’t push your luck,” Sauron said. He checked to make sure anyone hadn’t followed Frodo’s Darkness. No one was coming. Good. He closed the door, ambitious to know what Frodo’s Darkness had in mind.

Chapter Text

X-X-X

The Evil Queen, after finally getting what she wanted, put Snow White and David’s heart under a sleeping curse. Now caught under the curse, where when Snow kissed David, David fell into a deep slumber.

That isn’t the only problem. Convinced that he must do something, Frodo traveled to Bilbo’s house, hoping he could at last find out what was going on with him and why his Darkness remained in the shadows this whole time…

X-X-X

Bilbo’s House, Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

Frodo walked up the steps to Bilbo’s house. How long had it been since he’d been here? It was just as long as it had been when he last saw Bilbo. No. He needed to speak to his uncle. That was wise.

He knocked on the door three times, expecting an answer. The door opened, but… no. Bilbo was standing there, alarmed.

“Bilbo, what is it?” Frodo asked. “My Darkness. He’s not here, is he?”

“I think you need to run,” Bilbo murmured aloud.

“What?” He was confused. He spoke, plain and simple, “Bilbo, I’m not leaving you here, not until I get a straight answer.”

“You won’t have to,” said a familiar, dark voice. Frodo turned around, facing his Darkness. He hadn’t changed a bit. “You honestly think you can come here at this hour? Not when I have so many things to teach your uncle about you, about us, about this whole bitter darkness that’s writhing inside your chest.”

“If you…” Frodo moved towards his darkness, only to be grabbed by Bilbo. “Let go!”

“NO! Frodo,” Bilbo said, standing out on the porch. “We need not intimidate him. Not yet. Besides, I’ve got this.”

“You’ve got this?” Frodo asked him, concerned. “How long have you been harboring him? Why couldn’t you come to me sooner.”

“Because your darkness is here,” Bilbo explained, serious, “and I didn’t want to give you away, or your plans.”

“No,” Frodo’s Darkness declared, pulling out a mirror in a gold frame, “no, you wouldn’t. You were just trying to protect him. I’m not surprised. Although, your nephew has become quite a nuisance as of late. And you want to know what I intend to do with him, using this mirror?”

“Don’t. Please… ah!” Frodo spoke too soon. The blue mist surrounded him, encased him until… he was gone, inside the mirror. He wasn’t the only one shocked. Bilbo stared at the spot where Frodo had been. But it was too late. It was… too late.

“Nephew,” Bilbo said, shocked. He turned to Frodo’s Darkness. “I will find a way to free him. You wait and see. I’ll find him again.” He jumped back a little as Frodo’s Darkness reappeared in front him from a puff of black smoke.

“You’ll do what to me?” Frodo’s Darkness declared. He shoved Bilbo inside the house, revealing his other prize: Samwise Gamgee, tied to a chair. “This is what happens when you get in my way.” He slammed the door behind him and Bilbo. “Now. Let’s start again, nicer this time.” He grinned wickedly. “We have so much to learn, so much I want to teach you. So, let’s do this quietly. Our work has only just begun.”

~~~

The World Behind the Mirrors – The Present

Frodo awoke with a splitting headache. He was used to them, he guessed. But… everything seemed fuzzy. The light was returning, but it was a sunset over a darkened cloudy sky. And there were mirrors. Lots and lots of mirrors. He stood up, hardly knowing what would happen, but… wait. Was that Emma and Regina’s voices. Maybe they could help him.

“Emma! Regina! Hey!” Frodo waved his hands in the air. They were at a near distance from them. If only he could… reach them. A barrier propelled him back inside a stone gazebo. He shook himself off, but felt… alone. “Why can’t I reach them?”

“You can’t,” said a slithering voice. Frodo whirled around, only to come face to face with a massive boa constrictor.

“You,” Frodo asked, timidly, “you can talk.”

The snake giggled behind his teeth. “Why yes I can. I’m Kaa, the owner of this part of the mirror world. Are you lost? Perhaps, if we work together, I can assist you. But that would be too risky. Now wouldn’t it? I know a way to get out of this mirror world.”

“Really?” Frodo asked, suspicious, “You can help me?”

Kaa giggled a second time. “We can help each other.” He asked, prodding at him, “Now tell me, where might you be bound, so I may join you.”

“Storybrooke,” Frodo answered automatically. Wait. Just what was he doing, trusting a snake?

“Ah yes. Storybrooke,” Kaa said. “Yes, I know the place. I know, too, that Sidney Glass was here. He was the Genie behind the Mirror, was he not?”

“Yes,” Frodo faced him, “yes, he was.”

~~~

Bilbo’s House, Storybrooke, Maine

“I’m tellin’ you, Frodo’s Darkness,” Sam spat at Frodo’s Darkness, surprising him for a moment, “if you don’t let me go this instant, I’ll…”

“You’ll do what?” Frodo’s Darkness chuckled. “You know you can’t do anything to me without hurting the original host, in this case Mr. Frodo.” He smirked. “It’s lovely when I’m in control.”

“What would you have me do?” Bilbo asked him. “You have everything now. You don’t need me anymore.”

“Hm.” Frodo’s Darkness grunted, pulling out a hammer from his backpack. “Let’s just say I’ve been busy helping Rumplestiltskin and Sauron. And this hammer I received from Sauron. It’s impenetrable, but it can also bring a person back, once an object is smashed by this very hammer.” He passed it to Bilbo. “Go on. Do it.” He bestowed on a table a glass apple. “This apple has many uses, but I also intend on bringing the Shadow into Storybrooke. And if you don’t know what that is, that creature, you should probably read Inkheart ahead of time. Or watched the movie.” He looked up at Bilbo then and there. “Never mind such scrupulous details.” He set the mirror down on the table. “You know what you have to do, Bilbo. So, do it.”

“Don’t Mr. Bilbo,” Sam pleaded with Frodo’s uncle. “Don’t do this.”

“Silence!” Frodo’s Darkness spoke up. Bilbo stood between them.

“Wait. At least show me where Frodo is,” Bilbo said. “I’ll do what you ask.”

“Fine,” Frodo’s Darkness said, poofing a circular mirror in a black frame on the wall. The reflection before them was a different world, where Frodo was in the middle of a conversation with a boa constrictor. Frodo’s Darkness’ attention returned to Bilbo soon after. “Go on. Smash the apple. Never mind what my better half is up to in the mirror. He doesn’t have long now. Make your choice, uncle, before it’s too late to decide.” He added, “We don’t have long…”

It was too late for him. Bilbo turned the hammer over to the circular mirror, smashing it. A blue mist swarmed the mirror’s reflection, stunning everyone inside the house.

~~~

The World Behind the Mirrors

Kaa chuckled, his body shaking like waves as he laughed. “Why yes, Sidney was here. Quite an interesting storyteller. He received the best news from me.” He asked, curious, “By the way, how is the Jungle? I dearly love to see it… what’s that?”

“Hm…” Frodo turned around too soon. The blue mist took him, engulfing him and, with invisible hands, dragging him through the mirror.

“NOO! WAIT! FRODO… WAIT—” Kaa lunged forward, but was pulled back by his wooden perch. The blue mist was gone and so was his meal. Kaa tapped his cheek with his makeshift hand. “Oh bother. Just another helpless victim… or two… that I could have eaten. Oh well. Back to hunting for mirror birds.” He slithered on, through the mirror maze and into the mirror forest, where he hoped to find his next meal. He just hadn’t expected that. Now what was he to do? How would he get out of this mirror world prison now?

~~~

Bilbo’s House, Storybrooke, Maine

Frodo collapsed on the wood floor and a red carpet. His head swarmed a bit. The moment passed, relieving him of his distress. He no longer saw mirrors about the room. He was back in Bilbo’s house, and to his relief, being embraced and helped up by his uncle.

“Uncle!” Frodo cried, shocked at first but delighted to see him. “Thank you. That was you, wasn’t it?”

“Well, yes, it was me,” Bilbo said. He turned to Frodo’s Darkness, as Frodo rushed over to assist Sam with his bonds. He told Frodo’s Darkness, “You see. You haven’t won.”

“Not yet, but I do intend on bringing bigger fish into the harbor, bay, fray,” Frodo’s Darkness sneered. “Just as well.” He turned to his better half. “You’ve lost, Frodo! Surely you knew that. I have control of this house, the Mirror World, and anywhere else you…” He grunted the second Sam punched him in the stomach. Frodo felt the pain, too. It was almost revolting, but as he recovered so did his Darkness. Frodo’s Darkness told Sam, “You have a good arm, Sam. And a good fist.”

“Just leave my friends alone.” Sam warned him, “You mess with them, you mess with me.”

Frodo’s Darkness chuckled. “Is that so? Bilbo’s still in my power.”

“Not anymore,” Frodo said.

“I agree,” Bilbo said, turning to Frodo’s Darkness, “Even you aren’t that strong enough. You’ll never have my family, nor take them away again. I’ll guarantee that you don’t.”

“Then enjoy your vacation, Bilbo,” Frodo’s Darkness said. “It may very well be your last day.” He poofed himself out through a cloud of black smoke. Frodo turned from his uncle to his best friend. What had conspired today, he feared, wouldn’t be the last he’d see of his Darkness. Then again, Sam had quite a good punch.

“I’m sorry about your stomach, Mr. Frodo,” Sam apologized.

“Don’t worry about it,” Frodo said. “He’s gone.” He was referring to his Darkness, which he also feared was still in Storybrooke. At least they had peace now, didn’t they?

-.-.-

Sam’s House, Storybrooke, Maine – Sunset

Rosie Cotton-Gamgee/Samantha Willow just finished changing hers and Sam’s two-week-old baby boy. He was their fourth child and already blossomed to life. And yet, Rosie’s attention turned to the front door, when Sam/Curtis entered their home.

“How is he?” Sam asked, curious. “Merry-lad?”

“What happened to you? You’ve been gone all day. I was so worried…” Rosie was cut off when Sam lunged in and planted a kiss on her lips. Sam knew it meant something to her, so when they released, they hugged, as if they wouldn’t let each other go. Rosie, on the other hand, was eager for a story. “Tell me what happened today. Was there danger?”

“Yes, but… Frodo’s Darkness has fled. I will find him,” Sam said, “as will Mr. Frodo and Mr. Bilbo. I won’t forget what happened at Mordor. My friends need me.”

“I know, Sam,” Rosie said. “Then you must go with them, but be sure to be back home before dinner. Promise me.”

“That’s a promise I will keep,” Sam said. He raised a finger, “Excuse me.” He darted out the door, meeting Frodo and Bilbo by the front gate. “What?”

“So you and Rosie, huh?” Frodo said, folding his arms and grinning.

“We’re quite happy that you found a home, Sam,” Bilbo said.

“Hey, do you want to step inside and have some dinner? Rosie’s bound to good a hearty meal,” Sam asked his friends.

“Sure,” Frodo said, grinning. The very thought made him think of all the times he shared with Pearl, Elsa and now Mindy. Would he even consider having dinner again with a lady? The very thought…

“Let’s go inside. Frodo?” Bilbo turned to him.

“I’m coming,” Frodo said. Half the time he looked back, expecting to see a ghost. Or perhaps Mindy… oh. Why bother? But he couldn’t stop thinking about it, wondering what his final moment would be. As he entered Sam’s house, a vision swirled in his head, concerning the hooded figure and his battle against him. There wasn’t any ship now. His future was set… or was it? He had to beat this. He just had to, but where would he begin unraveling this mystery?

There was still a lot more work to be done, before Frodo’s story ended. He would have to start getting busy, finding out how to stop his death or worse. But first, he would eat with friends and family, where it was safe. But how was he to accomplish this goal? And where was his Darkness now? Probably hatching a new scheme or rather… something sinister.

-.-.-

Sauron’s House, Storybrooke, Maine – Late Sunset

Frodo’s Darkness splashed into Sauron’s house, dripping wet and soaked in an air of dark stormy clouds. The effort caused Sauron to laugh out loud in full empathy, but also envy. It was as if he won this battle, which wasn’t really a battle in his opinion. Oh well. Back to empathy.

“Look at yourself,” Sauron said, returning to his sneering glare, trying hard not to laugh again, “A dark cloud spitting out of your perspiration and fear. If you weren’t sweating underneath those black robes, I would say that you ought to find yourself tired of ruining Frodo’s happiness, like he did mine.”

“That isn’t the point!” Frodo’s Darkness hissed, slapping a folder on the table. “That’s your order of things, isn’t it, Sauron, the Most Evil Dark Lord in all the land?” He added, waving a hand to clear the dark cloud and the raindrops. “Next to Maleficent, but she’s too busy with her daughter to find her husband. So that leaves you to finish off the dirty work involved.”

“What’s your point?” Sauron said. “You lost. So let someone else take control. Another Dark Lord for example.”

“Who? Me, right?” Frodo’s Darkness smiled. “Come on. You know this face is pure and clean, and dead set on ruining Frodo’s happiness.”

Sauron stood up, fury in his eyes. “Hey you! The only one who is taking care of these villains is me. The one who is dead set on defeating the heroes is me.” He warned Frodo’s Darkness. “I warn you, Frodo’s Darkness, you will not take my spotlight again.”

“What do you – mean?” Frodo’s Darkness choked as Sauron gripped his neck.

“I could split you and Frodo for good, if I wanted to.” Sauron released his hand, hardly noticing Frodo’s Darkness coughing and sputtering hard on the wood-paneled floor. “But I think I’ll let you live, while I do things my way. It’s time to give your better half a message. And I know right where to begin. Where it all began.” He looked out the window. “At the clock tower. And once I have my revenge, do you know what will happen to you? You won’t survive, not even unto the night.” He added last, in confirmation. “It’s time this Dark Lord came out of hiding, once and for all.”

Chapter Text

Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

The clock’s hands ticked to the eleventh hour. Nightfall swept across the town, bringing with it a peaceful air. If only the clock tower savored this moment, for in the next second a dark cloud appeared in the metal balcony, revealing Sauron in his long dark hair and black armor. He was ready for battle, but not so much… why was Frodo’s Darkness following him around? No matter. For when the dark hobbit appeared in a cloud of red smoke, he stopped by the stairs.

Sauron kept his gazed fixed on the large glass window, as the minute hand moved a little passed the twelfth number. He wasn’t about to lose this fight… not now. Not when he was so close…

“Sauron,” Frodo’s Darkness spoke up, “I brought the pen. Now what…”

Sauron faced him his eyes hungry for vengeance. “Excellent.” He picked up the silvery black pen from its long black case. In an instant, he returned his gaze to Frodo’s Darkness. “Now I have another task for you. Bring Frodo’s girlfriend to me.”

"His girlfriend." Frodo's Darkness spoke. "She’s also my girlfriend." He snapped. "I don't see you going after Merida like you used to." He stopped. His throat tightened by Sauron’s invisible hand. He couldn’t breathe.

"I'm not asking for much from your girlfriend. I need her as bait to trap your better half." Sauron released him. "Now do I say."

Frodo’s Darkness stood up. He was too annoyed for this. “Fine. Fair enough. I see how it is.” He added, coyly, "Good luck with your search, Sauron. You'll need it." He waved his hand, vanishing in a cloud of purple smoke. Sauron returned his gaze to the glass window. It was time to enact his vengeance on the Ring-bearer that took his ring to Mount Doom. Even if he had to ensnare him himself.

-.-.-

Hours Later…

“Frodo,” Mindy said to him as they walked down Main Street. It was eight o’ clock in the morning. Frodo agreed to take her with him to Granny’s Diner for breakfast. And yet, her mind was uneasy, “you said before that your dark half was a nuisance. And yet, I have this theory that may merge you two together.”

“Gandalf’s not here, Mindy!” Merry/Donovan cried.

“I know he’s not. But maybe there’s a chance…” Mindy was cut off by Frodo’s laugh.

“Mindy, the next time I trust my dark half, it’ll be…” Frodo was interrupted by another voice. An all too familiar voice from a figure dressed in black, who poofed himself there by a purple smoke. “You.”

“Frodo, wait!” Mindy said, grabbing his arm.

Frodo asked his dark half, suspicious, “What are you doing here?”

“I’m not here to argue,” Frodo’s Darkness said. “But neither am I willing to trust Sauron again. He wants your girlfriend.”

"Why?" Mindy asked, alarmed.

"He wouldn't say how," Frodo's Darkness said. "Just know that he's coming for you."

"Why would he do this?" Frodo asked, concerned. "What's this got to do with me? Why did you team up with him?"

"That is a good question." Frodo's Darkness said. "I thought by teaming up with him, there would be a partnership. That he'd leave you alone. But he's not." He explained, "He'll use Mindy to get to you. She's the bait he needs to uncover his true plan. And for that I do not know what he's up to."

"You were with him this whole time, and you don't have any idea what his plan is," Sam cried.

"Sam," Frodo said, quieting his friend and gardener.

"It seems we have a common enemy," Frodo's Darkness said.

"Even so, why did you leave him?" Frodo said. "If you're still a villain."

Frodo’s Darkness' eyebrows raised. "Why did I – my alliance with Sauron shifted. It's over. The deal's broken." He admitted, "I would rather team up with you now. Your lot seems good and...” he faced Mindy, grinning affectionately at her, "...decent."

Sam chose this moment to corner Frodo's Darkness. "Are you in love with her?"

"That's the thing about being a half of someone, Sam," Frodo's Darkness said, "you share in their emotions." He added, "Or should I admit that Frodo also cares for Mindy."

"I haven't said anything," Frodo said, "not yet and..." his voice faded in confirmation. He admitted, as Mindy blushed in admiration, "...maybe, but..."

“What if there’s a way to merge you and Frodo back?” Mindy suggested.

“Do what?” Sam was confused.

“It seems like the right idea,” she said.

“I hate to admit it, but I agree with her,” Frodo’s Darkness said. He faced his good half, “Come on. I think it’s time, by now that we merge and get this over with. Deal?”

“Just don’t play any tricks,” Frodo said.

“I’m done with that,” Frodo’s Darkness said. “Unless you would rather let Sauron take her, I suggest we come up with a plan. Now. Before it’s too late.” He added, “I know what I’m doing. Trust me.”

Frodo stared at his darker half. Was it wise trusting him? All he expected was to turn him dark? What if he turned on him and his friends? Frodo wouldn’t have that, but then they did need a plan to stop Sauron.

“What’s your plan?” Frodo asked his darker half. His Darkness smiled like the Cheshire Cat. It seemed he did have a plan after all. A sinister plan. But that was typical of darker halves, wasn’t it?

~~~

Mairon’s House – Ages Ago

It had been a few weeks since Eru Ilúvatar created Mairon. It was already decided what he would take on. And yet, being the Maiar that he was, with dark hair and a composing perplexion, Mairon was on his way to being a powerful being, a force to be reckoned with. If only he could survive the day… no. He’d rather just read his book on crafting. There was so much to learn…

“Mairon!” Aulë, one of the Ainu and a powerful smithy, burst into the Maiar’s house without a second’s delay. Mairon shook his head, but spoke with a calm mind.

“I just repaired that door. Eru’s given me permission to study a craft.” Mairon turned to his books. “I have yet to fully realize what it means to be a crafter. Where do I start?”

“Ah!” Aulë spoke up, briefly looking at one of the hardbound books. “Then it seems you will need a tutor, an instructor. Someone to guide your light without a second’s notice. Someone who…”

“Are you done?” Mairon asked.

“Right! Good question,” Aulë sat down at an empty chair. “But, in this case, you will need to find your place amongst us.”

“I know. That’s why I wish to study crafting.” Mairon faced him. “You’re a good crafter, are you not?”

“Me?” Aulë placed a hand on his chest. “Why yes, I am a good tutor. A good crafter. One who sees the light in all…”

“Is that what happened to the dwarves?” Mairon asked. “How you nearly got away with your skills?”

“Just stick with me, Mairon.” Aulë said. “I will teach you what I know and love.”

“Crafting, you mean?” Mairon asked.

“Yes, with crafting,” Aulë said. Mairon chuckled happily. He was so at peace. Aulë winked at him. “Come on. It’s time to inform Eru of your choice, your decision.”

“Right on it,” Mairon said, following his new master outside. Indeed, he was ready for this and whatever awaited him this day or the next. Well, he needed to start somewhere and this was it. This was his vocation: a crafter at heart. That’s who he soon would be. What could stand in his way now?

~~~

Sauron’s House, Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

Frodo led Mindy and the others towards Sauron’s house. They stopped by the porch steps, splitting up in seconds. Frodo and his dark half faced Mindy, her legs quivering from nervousness, guilt and regret.

“I can’t do this,” Mindy faced Frodo and his dark half. “What if Sauron attacks me?”

“It won’t come to that,” Frodo said. He turned to his dark half. “He won’t, right?”

“No, he won’t,” Frodo’s dark half said. He turned to Mindy and said, “Find the good in him, if you can. He won’t hurt you. He wants to attack me and my better half. That’s all.” He added, “But you are here to make a bargain with him, to let you go. Or else Frodo will take action upon him.”

“You said I could be useful here,” Mindy said. “But I feel a shroud of bad luck coming upon me.”

“You sound just like a writer,” Frodo’s dark half said, patting her back. “I’ll go follow our friends, Frodo.” He whispered in Mindy’s ear. “Good luck with him. You’ll need it.” Frodo waited until his dark half had left him and Mindy alone, before handing to her a small silver dagger.

“Now, let me know if he does attack you.” Frodo told Mindy. “I’ll be in there in a second. Good luck.” He gently kissed her cheek.

“Wait.” Mindy said, clutching his jacket. “I’m not sure if I can…”

“Go on,” Frodo said, tenderly. Mindy grinned a small grin, understanding things would be okay. She could do this. Just after Frodo walked away, turning the corner, Mindy walked up the porch steps and knocked on the door.

“Hello?” Mindy called. She knocked again. No response. “Sauron?” Her gaze fell on the door. It was ajar, but only slightly. In haste, she flung the door open, entering the abode. It was dark inside and there were a lot of weapons and pictures. A few candles lit up, including one that revealed a picture of a blonde-haired woman wearing a white dress. But her attention soon turned to the dark shape in the house. “Sauron? Is that you?”

The candles were alight, revealing Sauron’s cold face. However, there was something else he showed: anguish, fear, loathing and curiosity. Mindy gulped. She would have to act fast.

“I was hoping we could bargain,” Mindy said.

“Are you afraid?” Sauron asked her.

“Well…” Mindy’s voice faded.

“Because if you are, that would be very unwise. Now, I will take those shears and you… you will be my bait to trap Frodo Baggins. And now…” Sauron readied the iron shackles, attached to large chains, a minute too soon. Just as Mindy took a few steps back, Frodo threw the squid ink at Sauron, petrifying him. She sighed in relief. Frodo had made it on time. Sauron glowered, “You. You tricked me. All of you.”

“Who’s the woman in the photo?” Mindy asked him.

“That is none of your business,” Sauron growled.

“Come on,” Frodo told Mindy. “We better find out what’s in the treasure room. See if there’s something we can find that will stop…”

“You think you won.” Sauron told him. “Fine. Look through there. There’s only small trinkets in there that aren’t of any value to me.” He grumbled. “Just when I think there’s a chance I’ll come out of hiding, you heroes ruin it for me. Fine. Then I’ll find myself a portal, free Morgoth and then leave this place and Middle-earth behind. You guarantee you heroes aren’t in my way again.”

“Come on,” Frodo told his girlfriend, “I think we’re done here.”

“You mean Sauron is going to leave us alone? After everything that’s happened?” Mindy asked.

“Now you pity him?” Frodo’s Darkness asked. “Come on. Honestly, he deserves what he’s got. His past is his own and no one else’s.”

“But who was that woman in the picture?” Mindy asked, curious.

“His former lover. His first love,” Frodo’s Darkness said. “It’s a long story in of itself.”

“What happened to them?” She asked further.

“They parted ways,” Frodo’s Darkness said. “He hasn’t seen her since. But who knows if he’ll see her again, in this life or the next. There’s nothing we can do for him now, except hope that he’s turned a new leaf, a new page in his book, in his life. He won’t be happy here not until he finds his love.’

“And if he does?” Mindy asked, curious.

“Then we’ll wait and see, won’t we?” Frodo’s Darkness said.

~~~

Eru Ilúvatar’s House – Ages Ago

“Come on Eru!” Aulë said, clasping his hand on Mairon’s shoulder. “Mairon is the best crafter we have seen yet.”

“Is he?” Eru said, standing up. “Tell me, Mairon. Is this your choice?”

“I…” Mairon stopped. There was a beautiful woman with golden hair, her white dress flowing. She was so beautiful. “Excuse me.” He approached the woman. “Miss. What’s your name?”

“Ravenna,” the woman answered, her voice like a songbird. “What’s your name?”

“Mairon,” he said, smiling back at her.

“Pleasure to meet you, Mairon,” she said, blushing.

“Yes,” Eru said, turning to Aulë. “You may train him. I think you are meant to train him.”

“Yes!” Aulë said, excited. “We will begin Mairon’s training soon.”

“Go,” Ravenna told Mairon. “You belong in the crafter’s hall. My place is here.”

“We will see each other again,” Mairon said, kissing her hand. “Mi lady.”

“I know we will. Someday,” Ravenna said.

“Why not now?” Mairon asked her.

“Because I have my duties. Soon, I will help Eru with the children. They are due to enter the world and find their tasks. I must do that if I want to accomplish…”

“I understand. Yes,” he answered. “Then it is here that we part ways.” He told her, kindly, “Good luck, Ravenna.”

“And you. I must go,” Ravenna said, darting out of the hall. Mairon stood in the same place, wondering what had happened to him. To them both.

“What have I done?” Mairon asked, perplexed. “What have I done?”

~~~

Sauron’s House, Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

“You mean he just let her go,” Mindy asked Frodo’s dark half. “Just like that.”

“Well…” Frodo’s Darkness was shushed by his better half. “What? Oh.”

The treasure room was filled with coins, racks and drawers torn up, jewelry and weapons scattered throughout the room. Frodo only knew one thing that came from this: Sauron was angry. But he hadn’t seen a temper tantrum like this in a long time.

“Well, at least he got something from this,” Frodo’s Darkness said.

“What?” Frodo asked, searching the room.

“He certainly did not approve of the abandonment of his apprentice,” Frodo’s dark half said.

“Yeah,” Pippin said, searching through the pile.

“What could Sauron have kept in this room?” Merry asked, tossing a sword and sheath on the floor.

“I don’t know,” Sam said. “Mr. Frodo, did you find anything?”

Frodo didn’t have to look for long. There was a silver-bladed dagger on a black hilt. It looked so much like the Dark One’s dagger, only different. There were hardly any designs on it. Just engravings of a sentence, that read: The Compass Knows Its Direction. Find the Compass. Defeat the Monster Behind the Mirror. The dagger looked ordinary until Frodo lightly touched its hilt.

All at once, a vision swarmed Frodo’s mind: he was on Main Street, facing the hooded figure… Emma was there, too… and their family and friends… Anakin was now in the vision, but Harry, Ron and Hermione were missing… his hand trembled violently… the hooded figure pulled out the dagger… stabbed him… causing him to see the silver blade and the dagger’s black hilt…

Frodo came to. His hand trembled. The tremors didn’t stop Frodo from grabbing the dagger. His hand stopped shaking, but the dagger was now his.

“Mr. Frodo, what is it?” Sam asked, confused.

“This is the dagger that will kill me. In the vision,” Frodo said. He stared at the dagger, convinced now of what he must do. “Now maybe we’ll have a chance.”

“To do what?” Pippin asked, confused.

“To stop the hooded figure,” Frodo said, looking up at the stained-glass window, “before he kills me. I only hope we’re not too late.”

~~~

Mairon’s House – Ages Ago

Mairon stared out the window in his parlor. He still had things to do, places to go, but… what happened to Ravenna? They had only met two more times, before she parted from him. Was she safe? Would he ever see her again? Perhaps he could do something special for her. A ring! Of course, a ring. That was the best idea he had yet. But how would he go about crafting the ring for his desired love.

Ravenna was his true love. He could feel it in his bones, to his heart and to his very thoughts. He wanted to be with her, if only…

“Mairon,” it was Aulë. Of course, he would appear at this time. Aulë spoke to him once more, “are you ready?”

“Hmm?” Mairon was confused, but his thoughts were too great. “Ready for what?”

“Why your training, of course!” Aulë spoke up, merrily. Mairon followed his new master, as Aulë continued his speech. “Oh, you’re going to love the smithy halls. So much for you to see and do there. It will be a grand experience.”

“Aulë.” Mairon asked, “I wonder if I might see Ravenna again.”

“Ravenna’s in another world. She bringing plants to life as we speak. You need not worry about her. Eru said you might see her again someday. Whenever that day comes,” Aulë said.

“Then let that day come quickly,” Mairon said. “I will not lose her again, not if my life depended upon seeing her one last time.” He added, promising, “I will find her again someday. That’s a promise I intend to keep.”

~~~

Granny’s Diner, Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

Night passed over the town. Frodo spent his time at Granny’s pondering over the silver dagger. He set it down on the table, as his thoughts returned to the conversation at hand. There was Mindy, but so were Anakin and Luke seated at the same booth as them. He knew there had to be something done.

“So this is the dagger that will…” Luke was cut off by Frodo, who nodded.

“Yes,” Frodo said, nervous. “I’m not sure yet who the hooded figure is.”

“Then there’s still a chance that we can save you and restore the timeline,” Anakin said to Frodo.

“I’m not sure if it’ll be enough,” Frodo said.

“What?” Anakin and Luke asked, confused.

Frodo looked up. “If the visions are true, that original timeline is gone. We’re stuck in an alternate reality. We all have.”

“What about the time when the Author and Authoress changed the realities here,” Mindy asked, concerned. “Wasn’t that?”

“A reality-within-a-reality-within-a-reality,” Luke said, with Anakin finishing off the sentence.

“Either way, we might not get a second chance,” Anakin said. “We need to restore the original timeline.”

“If that’s even possible,” Frodo said. “All I know is my fate is leading me in one direction. I have no idea what’s coming or how to stop them. I just know is that I need to prepare for my fate.”

“You’re really going through this?” Mindy asked, surprised.

“If it helps everyone,” Frodo turned to Anakin and Luke, “then I’m ready to pay it. I won’t lose my family and friends. Not if there’s a beat left in my heart.”

“Spoken like a true Savior,” Luke said. “We’ll stand by you through this, Frodo. You won’t be alone.”

“Thanks.” Frodo sighed, distressed. “I just hope it’s enough to last this night and the next. And for all the days to come. It’s time to stop the hooded figure, whoever they are.”

-.-.-

Sauron stopped by the fence, in front of Granny’s Diner. There was Frodo and his friends, Anakin too. Why did it have to be this way? He said he was coming out of hiding. Well, he was out of hiding now. More than anything, he wanted to throw a fireball at the diner, smash it to bits. He could do that.

But what about Ravenna. What about her? Well… he had enough. If there was no place to go to satisfy his needs – having been tricked by the Halfling that carried his ring to Mordor – then there was no place for him in Storybrooke any longer. Yes, that’s what he would do now. Find Ravenna and get her to undo this curse upon himself.

He took one last look at Granny’s Diner, convinced there was nothing for him now. Would he release Morgoth, tell him what happened? Maybe he should wait. And he would wait and see what happened now? With a wave of his hand, a blue portal opened. He had enough here, in this town, with these people. It was time to move on. And with a few strides, he was through the portal, which vanished behind him. The Dark Lord had left Storybrooke. Where his fate rested now remained to be seen. But one thing was certain: he had tasks to complete, away from the town, away from the heroes who double-crossed.

This would not be the last time they saw Sauron. But now Rumplestiltskin, the Evil Queen and Frodo’s Darkness knew that he was gone. Would he return? That was something for the Fates to decide. For now, all was quiet. But one part in this tale was certain: Sauron had left Our World behind.

Chapter Text

 

Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

“Do we have a plan?” Frodo asked Anakin, concerned. They had long since left Frodo’s car and Sam/Curtis’ new red van in the driveway to Ron Weasley/Sigrid’s estate. And it sure was a huge house with wooden planks and an English roof on top. “No one said Ron’s estate was next to my house.”

“Didn’t you notice?” Mindy asked, concerned.

“No.” Frodo said, as they climbed up the porch steps. “When I helped Emma plant the Dark Curse, I hadn’t thought of it being next to Ron’s house… but then again, life was much darker after Emma became the Dark One and I the Dark Lord.”

“That’s over now,” Sam/Curtis said, as Anakin rang the doorbell.

“I know, Sam.” Frodo turned his gaze to the wooden framed door. “I just hope that things are different.” He very nearly said ‘wish’, but given Bashful’s word-of-mouth that Aladdin was now a genie, saying ‘wish’ might not be the best plan. At least not right now, not when his dark half and the Evil Queen could be listening. “Remind me why we didn’t bring my dark half along.” He admitted, “He’s had his eye on Mindy, ever since he joined our alliance.”

“I wouldn’t trust him,” Luke said.

“Given he’s your dark half, Frodo, how long do you think that alliance will last?” Anakin asked.

Frodo countered, “I’d ask you the same question.” He remembered, “But then your son changed your history.”

“That doesn’t mean I can’t be counted on my actions.” Anakin said, before turning to Luke and telling him, “We will find a way to get back to the original timeline.”

“How?” Luke asked, curious and confused. “You still haven’t told me the plan.”

“Well,” Anakin shrugged. “The plan will come.” He turned around as the door opened, revealing Harry Potter. “As will this one.”

“What are you doing here?” Harry asked, concerned. “How did you know where we were?”

“Word of mouth,” Frodo said, “Also, Ron’s next door to me, to my house.” He stepped back as Harry, Ron and Hermione entered the front porch, with Ron locking the front door. “We were hoping you might help us with the Evil Queen.”

“Well,” Merry/Donovan said. “Or Pippin and I can stay here.”

“No, you and Pippin are coming along,” Frodo said. “I need my backup. You two are the best scoundrels for this job. Give the queen a good distraction.”

“Ohhh.” Pippin/Edric said, grinning.

“So, what’s the plan?” Merry asked, concerned.

“What is the plan, Frodo?” Mindy asked, facing the gentle-hobbit.

Frodo stared at each person. Should he tell them the plan? Yes, he had it in mind. It was time to get rid of the Evil Queen. He just hoped that his Darkness wouldn’t try anything to stop them, before they begun to see the plan in action. There was just one more piece of the puzzle that needed to be resolved.

“Sam, stay with Luke, Harry, Ron and Hermione.” Frodo said. “I can handle the queen…” he showed him the silver dagger, “…and with any resources, any luck I have…”

“Mr. Frodo,” Sam sighed, “how can I put this… are you sure you won’t need my help? You remember what happened the last time you went on your own.”

“Sam, I won’t be alone this time.” Frodo said. “Just stay here. I’ll be right back.”

“Okay,” Sam said, watching his best friend leave. “Good luck. And don’t get caught or in trouble.”

“Sam, I’ll be fine,” Frodo chuckled. He waved briefly. “I’ll see you later.”

“Goodbye,” Sam said. Frodo stopped. Those were the words… well, the word he didn’t want to hear from Sam. Well, anything but hope was needed now. Oh… he would need it, especially now. Oh. He might as well just follow his friends. And he did, leaving Sam behind on the porch with their friends.

It was time to stop the Evil Queen.

Frodo had just arrived in Granny’s Diner, a brief moment after Emma, Hook and David had arrived. He rushed towards the Evil Queen, only to be caught in a paralysis spell. And… his Darkness was there? How?

“You,” Frodo said.

“Oh, you know each other?” The Evil Queen asked. “That’s right. Your better half, Dark Lord Frodo.”

“You knew we’d be here?” Frodo warned his dark half.

“I don’t recall you bringing Mindy into this,” Frodo’s Darkness said. “But then…” he turned to the Evil Queen, “…I don’t recall paralyzing him will stop him or Emma from our plan.”

“Hmm… good point.” The Evil Queen said, releasing Frodo.

“We will fight you and you will lose,” Emma threatened her.

“Oh. I do recall this,” the Evil Queen revealed a gold genie lamp. She rubbed it, summoning an orange smoke which revealed Aladdin. Frodo was stunned.

“No,” Frodo said, surprised.

“I’m sorry,” Aladdin said.

“Now on with the wishes,” the Evil Queen said.

“Go right ahead. All wishes come with a price,” Aladdin told her.

“Indeed. However, with this instance, it won’t be my wish, but rather one wish befitting two people,” the Evil Queen said.

“How?” Aladdin asked, knowing what would happen, “a wish can only be made once. Granting two wishes at once is just that.”

“Befitting, but I have my own way of getting what I want.” The Evil Queen said. “So, that is why I will wish for something that the Savior and the Ring-bearer made. I wish that Emma Swan and Frodo Baggins’ wish – to have never been the Savior and the Ring-bearer – be granted.”

Frodo’s eyes widened. But then, his dark half’s smile went away, shock in his eyes. Wait. Could the Evil Queen do this? Aladdin was resisting, but for how much longer? No. Frodo wouldn’t let the Evil Queen do this. He needed to act now. And Frodo charged towards the Evil Queen, dagger at hand, only to disappear into a realm of light…

He was… forgetting… everything…

~~~

Middle-earth, the Wish Realm – The Present

The Lake’s water lapsed against the sandy shore, gently smacking against the stone platform. Frodo’s gaze fell on the water’s glassy surface, drawing forth his reflection. He was still a fair faced gentle-hobbit, only this time wearing a white dress shirt, a warm green vest and brown breeches, nearly passing him off as a seaman. A fisherman no less.

The char danced in the water as well, drawing in their last bit of comfort, before being scooped aboard a nearby boat. It was the water that drew Frodo to this moment. If only he could remember… something. His dreams were made perfectly clear. There was something out there. Someone… but who knew, right? Maybe he was just dreaming.

“Frodo,” it was Pippin Took, his cousin. Frodo faced him, grinning with delight and joy at seeing his youngest cousin turned into a knight of Tookland. “Merry wants to speak with you, cousin.”

“Yes cousin,” Merry Brandybuck said, joining the fray. He too had become a knight of the Shire. A knight of Buckland, no less. Frodo had to admit, their knighthood meant everything. He was proud to call them his cousins. And yet, his heart was not settled.

“I’m sorry, but after Sam’s disappearance,” Frodo explained, “and taking his wife Rosie with him. It just… doesn’t feel right without them here. They brought such joy to our homeland.”

“Frodo,” Merry said, “Sam went mad after the Ring was destroyed. We haven’t seen him since.”

“But all is at peace now, right?” Pippin said, cheery-eyed.

“Maybe.” Frodo said, uneasy. “I don’t know. I keep having this dream that we were in Storybrooke, facing Sauron again. And this,” he pulled out the silver dagger, “this dagger keeps calling me on another mission. Maybe if I could go, then I could help you both out. You know what I mean?”

Pippin snatched the dagger from his hand, testing it fondly. “Cousin, you’re not built for battle. Mind if I take this dagger? I have a sheath.” He sheathed it in his leather sheath. “Fits like a glove. I guess it’s the right size.”

“Frodo, can we speak about this for a moment?” Merry said, dragging Frodo off to the side. “Frodo – how can I put this – you’re not fit for battle. I’ve seen you scared of mice. You’re afraid, cousin. And until you face this fear, Pippin and I will look after you.”

“And what of Mindy?” Frodo asked him. “She’s a hobbit after all.”

“We’ve sent her away ages ago. Right when she, like you, spoke of Storybrooke,” Merry said. “She went mad. I wouldn’t put much stock into what she says.” He changed the subject, “Come on. It’s time for your tunic fitting.”

“Right,” Frodo said, following Merry and Pippin to the tailor’s shop.

~~~

Storybrooke, Maine

“Where is he?” Mindy asked the group, serious. “We know the Evil Queen sent Emma and Frodo away. And Frodo’s Darkness is more than a little considerate, not in the best way.”

“Calm down,” Anakin said, lowering his hand. “We need a plan.”

“You’re right, father,” Luke said. “But where do we start?”

“And by standing here arguing isn’t going to solve anything,” Regina said, agreeing with Jasmine.

“You’re right about that, your majesty,” Anakin said in agreement.

“We need a plan,” Luke repeated his father’s words.

“And we need to think this through, before we jump to conclusions,” Regina said, willing to calm down.

“How do you propose we do that? Getting Emma out is one thing, but we…” Hook was cut off by Pippin.

“Well, that’s why we need heroes,” Pippin said.

“I agree.” Sam said. “I should go find Mr. Frodo.”

“Sam, right now that is not the best idea,” Regina said. “Odds are, the Queen and Frodo’s Darkness would have thought about putting you into their wish ahead of time.”

“I should go find him,” Sam repeated. “He’s my friend. I can save him, like I have dozens of times.”

“Frodo saved me once,” Pippin said. “You all did when I lost my memories the second time.”

“Right. And I saved Frodo in the alternate reality.” Merry answered. “Sam has saved Frodo on several occasions.” He told Sam. “No. You would be the obvious choice. So, that leaves Pippin and Mindy to go find Frodo. Gives you two the chance to be heroes.”

“Right. So Pippin should go save him,” Mindy said.

“No,” Pippin shook his head. “I’m not going in there alone.”

“Then let’s waste no time and find the Evil Queen and Frodo’s Darkness,” Regina said, heading out of Granny’s Diner.

“You coming?” Pippin asked Mindy.

“Pippin, you have yet to save Frodo. Shouldn’t there be a chance that you…” Mindy was cut off by Pippin.

“Listen Mindy, I’m already a hero in many ways. But I’ve also grown on this quest and these adventures,” Pippin said. He whispered in her ear. “If I don’t go, there’s still a chance I’ll face whatever happens here. But I want you to go and save him. Prove to us that you care about him. Why not?”

Mindy fell silent. She looked back once, only to see Anakin gesturing her to continue onwards. She hoped Anakin and Luke had a plan of their own… or they were just going to try something else, something to stop these villains from taking over Storybrooke. Nonetheless, she followed Pippin and Regina over to Regina’s office. There was the Evil Queen and Frodo’s Darkness, but also Aladdin who was making appletinis. Mindy peered over her shoulder. Pippin was desperate to get a hold of the lamp, until he whispered something in Regina’s ear that Mindy barely caught. She jumped a little upon seeing Frodo’s Darkness winking at her, smiling mischievously.

But then, Regina brought up the one loophole that made Pippin and Mindy smile. Regina was also the master of the lamp, much to Aladdin’s delight, but also wiping smile off of the Evil Queen and Frodo’s Darkness’ lips.

“Genie of the Lamp,” Regina turned to Aladdin, telling him her wish, “I wish for Mindy and I to go to the same place as Emma and Frodo.”

“No,” Frodo’s Darkness snarled angrily.

Pippin chimed in fast, telling Mindy, “There you go. Good luck, Mindy. Find Frodo. Bring him home.”

Just like that, Mindy closed her eyes automatically. The office and the sounds of the fireplace melted away. She opened her eyes. Before her was a forest with tall trees and a wide dirt road. Regina was there, too.

~~~

The Wish Realm

“Where are we?” Mindy asked Regina, curious and concerned. Civilization seemed so much better now.

“Welcome to the Enchanted Forest,” Regina said, leading the way.

Mindy slapped her arm. “Bugs. They won’t leave me alone.”

“That’s the least of your worries out here,” Regina said, spinning her around to a narrow path. “I think that’s your road.”

“I thought Middle-earth was a world away, and an ocean away, from the Enchanted Forest,” Mindy asked.

“This is the Wish Realm. Given by that sign, Bywater’s only a mile away,” Regina said.

“A mile?” she was stunned. “Oh come on. I’m not walking a mile to Bywater.”

Regina gave no response.

Mindy huffed. “Fine. I’ll see you later. And hopefully, I’ll receive news when you find Emma.”

“Good luck,” Regina said, continuing on her way.

Mindy slapped her arm again. “Bugs. Why couldn’t I have put on bug spray, before coming out here?” She stopped in her tracks. There was Merry and Pippin, only they were wearing armor. “Hey! Hey.” She slid up in front of them. “Don’t you remember me? I’m…”

“The woman we sent away, ages ago, when you were telling the people of Bywater lies about this place called Storybrooke,” Merry said, poking her chest.

“What?” Mindy said, a little tempted to slap Merry’s hand away from her chest, “Merry, Storybrooke exists. I’ve also come to see Frodo, if that’s all right.”

“We should at least take her in for a fair trial,” Pippin said to Merry. “Come on. What are the odds she’s telling the truth?”

“I’m not here to hurt your friend or cause mischief,” Mindy said, wondering if she wasn’t second guessing herself. She concluded, “Look, please let me see Frodo. Let me help him. Is he in danger? Does he need my aide or yours? Is he a hero?”

Merry and Pippin laughed. Mindy stood still, confused. Was there something she said that was laughable? She slapped her arm again.

“Bugs again,” Mindy hissed softly. “Why isn’t there any bug spray around?”

“Come on,” Pippin said, leading her down the narrow dirt road. “You’re quite enjoyable company.”

“Unlike when she became so defensive, we had to lock her away,” Merry said, snickering.

“Yes. There’s that,” Mindy said, guiltily. What had she done again?

“And here we are,” Pippin said, moving away a bush, which revealed a quaint hobbit village that looked about human sized.

“What? This is Bywater?” Mindy asked. “But you’re all – huge. Human sized.”

“Well, you’d be surprise what you’d find here,” Merry said, moving Mindy close to a curly brown haired hobbit, who was handling the flowers in a barrel. “Frodo, this is Mindy.”

Frodo jolted upright. Mindy jumped back, too.

“Um…” Merry said, “she’s going off again about Storybrooke. She thinks it’s real.”

“Well, I won’t talk about it, if it’s too much,” Mindy said. “I won’t. Okay?”

“I think she’s telling the truth,” Frodo said.

“Well,” Pippin said, “she does act less defensive than when we put her away.”

“Where’s Sam?” Mindy asked the three hobbits. “Isn’t he Mayor? Isn’t he… doesn’t he have a home here?” Again, the hobbits laughed. Frodo joining in. Mindy was confused. Just what was so hysterical? “Like I said, if a subject’s too much, I can always…”

“No. You’re hilarious,” Merry said, cackling. “I needed that laugh!”

“Yeah,” Pippin said, still chuckling.

“I’ll take her,” Frodo said, taking Mindy’s hand.

“Good to know. Let me know if she tells you anymore stories,” Merry said, patting Mindy’s back.

“This is really… strange,” Mindy said. She shrugged. “I mean….” She spoke to Frodo, “…well, while there is something strange or lyrical or… I’m just making up words now.”

“Let’s talk in the Green Dragon. All right?” Frodo whispered in her ear. Mindy grinned. She hadn’t seen him so happy before.

“All right,” Mindy said in agreement, following him into the Green Dragon inn.

~~~

Weasley House, Storybrooke, Maine

“The portal’s nearly ready.” Ron said, examining the bean. “I should have it done in about… there! Got it!” He showed his friends the bluish-white bean. “This should take us out of Storybrooke, without the need for whirlpools and tearing up the floor.”

“We’ll check back later,” Anakin said, as he and Luke fled through the front door.

“Where are you going?” Merry asked the two Jedi.

“Look, we’ll find a way to bring Frodo and Mindy home,” Luke said. “We just need to get a few things.”

“We’ll see you later,” Anakin said, closing the door before Merry could ask further questions.

“Well, look at that,” Merry said, appalled and surprised.

“They’re Jedi,” Pippin said. “What did you expect?”

“Well, I expected better than to see them run off like that,” Sam said.

“Will you—” Hermione said. She returned her gaze to Ron, asking him, “If you’re sure this is it.”

“Well…” Merry was interrupted. The door swung open, allowing Pippin and Frodo’s Darkness to enter the estate. “What’s he doing here?”

“Don’t worry,” Pippin told his friends. “He won’t hurt us.”

“Where’s Mindy?” Sam asked, concerned. “I thought you were coming with her to the Wish Realm.”

“Is that what was going on?” Frodo’s Darkness sneered.

“It’s not the first time I’ve done this,” Pippin said.

“The last time that happened, it was you leaving us by force,” Merry told him.

“Well, I won’t hurt you, if that’s what you’re asking me for,” Frodo’s Darkness said. “Frankly, I didn’t expect Regina to take just Mindy. That spoils my plan.”

“Then what is your new plan?” Pippin asked him.

“Well, for starters, merge with Frodo again,” Frodo’s Darkness said. “Seems as though I can’t get what I want, then by all means, I’d better try the next best thing.”

“Frodo doesn’t trust you, you know,” Merry said.

“Well, there’s no shame in trying,” Frodo’s Darkness said.

“Right,” Harry said, approaching the hobbits. “Hermione, Ron and I are going.”

“Well…” Sam shook his hand. “Do good out in the Wizardry World.”

“We’ll be back, Sam.” Harry said, approaching Ron and Hermione. “We’ll come as soon as we can. For now, I think it’s time we explore the Wizardry World. See how it’s doing.”

“You ready?” Hermione and Ron asked.

“Good luck,” Merry told them, a moment too soon. Harry tossed the bean in the air, causing a bluish white portal to appear. He waved to Harry, Ron and Hermione, mere seconds before they walked through the portal. The portal vanished in moments, leaving him, Pippin, Sam and Frodo’s Darkness alone. Merry had this feeling it wasn’t the end for them.

“Now, let’s see what four hobbits can do against this encroaching darkness,” Frodo’s Darkness.

“Wait.” Sam grabbed his shoulder. “As long as you’re not up to any tricks.”

“I’m done with that,” Frodo’s Darkness said. “Trust me. I know what I’m doing.”

“So, what is your plan?” Pippin asked him.

Frodo’s Darkness smiled. “You wait and see.”

~~~

Green Dragon Inn, Bywater, the Shire, Middle-earth, the Wish Realm

Frodo took another swig of the apple cider. It certainly tasted good. But wine was what he needed right now. Why then was he thinking about wine, if not… oh no, a mouse. He watched Mindy as she very nearly moved away from the stool. He grabbed her arm, fearing she might do something drastic.

“Frodo,” Mindy said, serious. “It’s a mouse and… oh.” Frodo hardly looked at her. He was too embarrassed. And yet, she spoke to him. “I’m sorry.”

“For what?” Frodo shrugged. “I thought you were going after the mouse. I’m afraid of mice.”

“Must be part of the Evil Queen’s wish,” Mindy said.

“You’re talking nonsense,” he said.

“You don’t remember. Do you?” She asked him. He gently touched her cheek.

“I remember… you were sent away, for talking nonsense about Storybrooke and the Evil Queen. All of it,” Frodo said.

“Oh,” Mindy said, looking away from him, back to her mug. Frodo stared at her, longing to see what she would do next. She didn’t do anything. Was she too afraid of some things?

“You look familiar,” Frodo said.

“Thanks. I’m glad you noticed,” Mindy said, glum.

Frodo turned her chin towards him. “I don’t know why, but I want to try something.”

“What—” Mindy’s voice faded. Frodo leaned in and kissed her lips. In that moment, nothing mattered. Just that he was in this moment with her, like they were the only two in the room. A wisp sound broke free from their lips, spreading out and about. Frodo jumped back, alert, but his memories… he remembered now. He was a hero and a Ring-bearer. But also he had met her in Queen Mab’s realm, back in Camelot. How… “Frodo, are you all right?” Mindy asked, concerned. “Frodo?”

“I remember,” Frodo said, amazed at what just happened. “I remember I’m the Ring-bearer that helped defeat Sauron. The Evil Queen’s wish. That I’m a hero again, too. And you…” he pressed his hand against her cheek, “…you helped me remember. How did you get here?”

Mindy blushed uncontrollably. “It was Pippin’s idea. Emma and Regina are here.”

“I know Emma’s here, but… Regina’s here, too?” Frodo asked, concerned. “Where are they heading? Does Emma remember?”

“I don’t know. I came here to find you. Regina showed me the signpost, leading to Bywater. It’s quite a short trip in this realm, from one location to the next,” Mindy said.

“Right.” Frodo said, standing up. “I think it’s time we leave.” He picked up the mouse from the floor, chuckling to himself. He turned to Mindy, showing her the mouse. “Well, what do you think?”

“Hey there.” Mindy said, petting the mouse. “How are you?”

Frodo chuckled. “Well, at least we know you’re not afraid of mice.”

“It depends on the situation,” Mindy said.

“Come on,” Frodo said, taking her hand. “We’d better find Emma and Regina.” He looked around at the pub, but many of the citizens were stunned and silent. Even Merry and Pippin were quiet, letting him and Mindy pass. “You don’t see that every day,” Frodo said, passing the mouse to Pippin, who in turn passed the Silver Dagger back to him. He took Mindy’s hand again, leading her out of the pub.

Indeed, it was time to find Emma and Regina, before they were too late.

~~~

Storybrooke, Maine

A bluish white portal opened. A gentle-hobbit landed in a heap on the cement street. He looked about him, knowing this was the place.

“Yes!” the gentle-hobbit cheered. “I made it to Storybrooke! Won’t Frodo be exhilarated to see that Bingo Bolger-Baggins survived the trip! And – oh.” He moved away, as a tall man in black robes entered the town from Granny’s Diner. Bingo only needed to look once to know the man meant trouble. “I think I’ll go find my friends. Yes, that’s a good idea.”

Bingo was surprised the hooded man wasn’t following him. But then, he wasted no time. Ah. There was the house that Frodo resided. He knew this just from looking at the mailbox. But no one was home. How odd.

“Bingo,” it was Sam’s voice. Yes. Bingo ran down the sidewalk, right towards the grand estate. There was Sam, waiting for him on the porch. “What kept you? A lot has happened here.”

“I had errands to run,” Bingo said.

“A likely story,” Merry said, his arms folded.

“Maybe he can tell us his ventures,” Pippin said.

“Yes, very good.” Bingo jumped back at Frodo’s Darkness. “Oh! Good evening, Frodo.”

“I’m Frodo’s dark half,” Frodo’s Darkness said, serious.

“Yes, well. Can we all talk inside?” Bingo asked the group.

“Suits us well enough,” Merry said.

“Great! Because I’ve got stories to tell, adventures to seek.” Bingo said. He asked the group, “By the way, where is Frodo and Mindy?” It was a good question. Surely there was an answer for their disappearance.

“Sit down,” Sam said. “I’ll tell how it happened. How they disappeared on us.”

“Okay,” Bingo said, sitting down at a cushioned chair, while Sam and his friends spoke. Clearly, Bingo had missed a whole lot of action. Now where were Frodo and Mindy? He hoped they were all right, safe and out of danger. He hoped as much anyway, even as he listed to Sam and his friends’ stories.

~~~

The Lake, the Wish Realm

“Wait!” Frodo cried loudly, moving across the lake’s shore at double time. He stopped a few times, waiting for Mindy to catch up, before running towards Emma and Regina. To his surprise, Rumplestiltskin was present, but only for a brief moment, allowing the two to pass. Frodo was relieved when he reached Emma and Regina, resting his hands on his knees while panting harshly.

Mindy’s arm rested on Frodo’s back, stunning the hobbit for a moment. “Sorry.”

“You’re fine,” Frodo said, helping her to her feet when they were both ready.

“Frodo,” Mindy asked him, “you’re a hero now and a Ring-bearer. And yet you wished to not be either. Why then would you do that?”

Frodo sighed. “This life is – was perfect. But I was a coward and not me. I know I’m burdened by the Ring’s effect on me, still wonder if I’ll be healed of Shelob’s poison, but the life I’m living now is what I have to gain. I’m a hero. So, that’s what I’d rather stick with.” He admitted, plainly, “Although, me being afraid of mice did push it.” He chuckled. “Why was I scared of mice? They weren’t going to harm me or you.”

“Good question,” Mindy said, right as Frodo stopped her with an arm. They had just been spotted by Regina and Emma, who were pleased to see them, too.

“Frodo.” Regina said. She turned to Mindy, admitting to her, “You took your time. How did you two get here so fast?”

“Well,” Frodo said, standing up. “I mean, Mindy and I could have taken a portal to get here.” He told the truth, “Did you know It was just walk and a flight around Bywater’s lake to get here. It seems we arrived on time.”

“It seems you did,” Regina said.

“Well, are we ready?” Emma asked the three.

“Yeah,” Frodo said.

“Yes,” Mindy answered.

Regina cast the bean on the ground. The bean vanished, taking its place was a swirling green whirlpool. They were close to leaving until… no. Frodo stared. Robin Hood was here. How? Wait. Regina was heading towards the archer. But what about the portal? Frodo looked back at the portal, seconds after Emma and a little before Mindy stared at the portal.

It was gone. They were trapped in the Wish Realm.

Chapter Text

Outside Brandy Hall, Buckland, Bree-land, Middle-earth – The Past

The many flower gardens outside the grand smial, known as Brandy Hall, bloomed so fruitfully. From the red roses to the purple wisterias, spring couldn’t have come at a better time. Even the campfire pit, resting down the hill, sparked with life. This was where Frodo Baggins, the curly brown haired hobbit with those bright blue eyes and usual perky personality, found himself two days after he moved to this smial, to live with his cousins on his mother’s side.

A single tear trickled down his face. He may have been twelve years old, but the memories still hurt. It didn’t help that an elderly hobbit came to sit with him, his smile beaming brightly his way.

“Been a long way from home, young’un,” the elderly hobbit, with his grey flowing hair, addressed him with a warm smile. Frodo didn’t say anything. He couldn’t. How could he go on, now his parents were… gone?

“What do you know about it?” Frodo moaned softly. His gaze now turned to the fire. “I’m alone. It feels like I’m alone.” He looked up at him. “I’m sorry, sir. What’s your name?”

The elderly hobbit laughed. “Don’t call me any name. Call me your guide. Someday, when you need to find home again, you’ll see me. And I’ll see you. Good day, son. Hopefully, it’ll be a brighter day for you, Frodo.”

Frodo perked up. How… how did this elderly hobbit know his name? The elderly hobbit laughed again as he stood up.

“Call me your friend. Goodbye,” the elderly hobbit walked away. Frodo wasn’t convinced. There was something about that man that didn’t feel right. He charged down the hill, only to see an arched golden-hued portal and the elderly hobbit transfiguring into a white wolf with a blind eye. Frodo’s mouth was agape. How did that happen? The wolf disappeared through the portal, leaving Frodo speechless.

“What did that wolf mean by ‘a brighter day’?” Frodo asked, curiously. He feared he might not receive an answer, not yet anyway. But still, he couldn’t help but wonder the wolf’s fate and whether or not they would meet again, later on down the road. It was just a matter of when fate would reunite them once more.

~~~

The Beach, Wish Realm – The Present

Frodo Baggins, an adult now, watched the green vortex vanish into thin air, revealing the stone pebbles and the beige sand underneath. He couldn’t believe it. His, Mindy’s, Emma’s and Regina’s ticket home… gone. Just like that. Now what were they going to do?

“Wait. How do we…” Frodo’s voice faded, his gaze returned to Robin Hood, who was very desperate.

“The jewels, please,” Robin said, extending his hand. “All of you.”

“I don’t have any jewels on me,” Mindy admitted, honest.

“That’s a lie. Where are the jewels?” Robin asked, pressing further.

Mindy showed her blue jeans’ pockets, as well as her white tennis shoes, now dusty from her venture to find Frodo. “See? There’s no jewels.” She struggled getting her shoes back on her feet, which proved very simple to do. “Thank you, Frodo.” She looked over at Frodo’s hand, which released her arm the second she was on her feet…

The sound of hoofbeats approached. Frodo wanted to say something further to Robin, but couldn’t. The thief was already off. Instead, he dragged Mindy over by Emma and Regina, hiding behind a log. There was Henry, grown up but vengeful, taking off on his horse out of the beach. Frodo turned to Emma, knowing then what to do.

“Well, Henry isn’t after me or Mindy, correct?” Frodo asked Regina.

“Not likely. I told her to go after you. She’s not involved in this business and neither are you,” Regina explained.

“Not for long they won’t be,” Emma said, calmly. “We all need to go and find a portal to take us home.”

“No.” Frodo stepped in with his words.

“What do you mean ‘no’,” Emma was distraught. “You’re coming with us.”

“I’ve got an idea,” Frodo admitted, curtly. “Mindy and I go and find Sam. He may know something about getting us out of here. We’ll meet up with you when we’re done.”

“What—” Mindy was cut off, the second Frodo’s hand grabbed her. “Where exactly are we heading?”

“To find the tower that Sam is being kept.” Frodo said, not looking at her.

“Do we know where that is, precisely?” Mindy asked, stopping Frodo in his tracks.

“I’m not sure,” Frodo admitted, bluntly, “but we need to find him. Come on!” He dragged her with him through the forest. He wasn’t about to not find Sam. He would find him. But where would he find the tower in the Wish Realm? Surely there had to be a way to find his best friend, before something became of him and Mindy. Hopefully, there was still time.

~~~

Weasley House, Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

Pippin Took/Edric Tuck couldn’t stop admiring the Jack-in-the-Boxes. There were so many and so colorful, as well as intricate. And yet, when he turned the handle, they also belted out a terrifying scream that made him jump. He had to move a lock of curly gold hair out of the way in the process, but…

“Pippin, will you get over here?” Merry Brandybuck/Donovan Masters asked, sighing in regret.

“I’m sorry, Merry,” Pippin said, approaching his brown-haired friend.

“So, you know what Frodo’s about to face,” Frodo’s dark half, still donned in his black attire, spoke to Bingo Bolger-Baggins. His arms were crossed and his face nearly menacing.

“Who is he facing?” Samwise Gamgee/Curtis Greenhow asked Bingo, curious.

“His name is Gideon,” Bingo showed them a picture. “It’s the best I could get from the Dark Realm, where he lurked. He’s been training for this day when he can vanquish Frodo and Emma.”

“Frodo will be safe, won’t he?” Merry asked, concerned.

“I don’t know,” Bingo admitted, saddened. “His future is uncertain, as are all our fates are uncertain. But if he survives Gideon’s attack the first time, then guarantee that his wounds will start to heal.”

“Back and forth here with Frodo’s wounds,” Pippin admitted.

“How much time do we have?” Merry asked, looking up at Bingo. “Do you know?”

“Well, as far as I know, when Frodo and Emma return, that is when Gideon will strike,” Bingo told them all. “Other than that, I don’t know. I just hope we find Frodo and Emma before Gideon does. We’re counting on their safe return, yes. But let’s hope nothing else goes wrong.”

~~~

Enchanted Forest, Wish Realm

“I don’t exactly recall this on any map,” Mindy addressed Frodo, looking around the area. The trees were so tall, so massive and pine-y. And the ground so brown with pine needles and logs. It was amazing how much she could see here. “Will we find Sam?”

“Yes,” Frodo said, a little agitated.

“And what about that kiss we shared?” she asked, stunned that Frodo faced her in the manner he did. “I mean, it wasn’t bad. It’s just… it was wonderful. Why didn’t we do that before?”

Frodo grinned. “I wasn’t expecting it, but then I was under that curse.” He trudged on, knowing that she was following him, which was fine by him. At least, he knew where she was. “But to be honest, it was a good kiss. I expect more from us. But then, who knows.”

“Right,” she said, unsure what else to say. “There’s that.”

“Oh!” cried a familiar masculine voice. Frodo rushed over to the hobbit, cloaked in a brown cloak. He didn’t know who it was… until he moved the hood off, revealing the one hobbit he hadn’t expected to see at this moment.

“Sam?” Frodo asked, stunned to see him. “Sam, what are you doing here?”

“I escaped from the tower,” Sam said, frantic. “These people are after me, all because of this.” He brandished a gold band, wrapped around a silver chain. Frodo could barely breath for a second. Was it? Could it have been?

“Where did you get that?” Frodo asked, concerned. “I thought it was destroyed.”

“Oh, it does more than that. Vindicus claims he knows of a way to get to Storybrooke, but then…” Sam was cut off by Mindy, who was outright concerned.

“Vindicus?” Mindy asked, confused. “Whose Vindicus?”

“You know, I was about to ask that question,” Frodo said, shaking his head and grinning slightly. His grin faded away as a white wolf appeared. But no. This wolf had a blind eye. “No. You’re…”

The wolf vanished in a cloud of white smoke, appearing inside as the elderly hobbit wearing grey robes. Frodo recognized him immediately. “You. You’re…”

“Vindicus,” the elderly hobbit said with a nod. “And I’m afraid we don’t have much time. Come on now. It’s time to get you home.”

~~~

Sam’s House, Storybrooke, Maine

A full day had passed and there was still no sign of Frodo and Emma. Sam stood outside his two-story house, breathing in the fresh white lilies. He hoped for his friends’ safe return. He hoped it. He just didn’t expect Frodo’s Darkness appearing behind him, as if he were a cat awaiting its prey.

“It’s been a day,” Frodo’s Darkness chimed in. “And still no sign of Frodo or Mindy.” Sam stood up, facing him with as much bravery as he could muster. Frodo’s Darkness continued to speak. “You said they would be back at a certain time, at a certain place. Where are they?” He added, softly, but just as menacing, “Where are they?”

“That is somethin’ you’ll just have to wait on, Darkness,” Sam/Curtis told him. “You honestly thought after all that you did, you would just get off so easily. You may be Frodo’s Darkness, but in your mind you’re pathetic. Frodo is brave and true, and you… you don’t belong here.”

Frodo’s Darkness was furious. Yet he spoke so calmly. Too calmly. “So, is that how it is, after all my efforts. Fine. Fine. Have it your way, Sam. I’ve got my eye on you, and it is not over. I will be back and you’ll see that I’m right.” He raised his hands, vanishing in a cloud of dark smoke. Sam was speechless. Had he said something he would regret? Oh great. Now his life was in danger, but also Frodo’s. Now what was he to do? And where was Frodo and Emma when he needed them? Were they still trapped in the Wish Realm?

These were questions that were in dire need of answering, if only Sam could have the chance to see them through. Then he’d know what it was like to be a Savior and a Ring-bearer. Maybe. Just maybe. He would have that chance to do both. For now, he could only hope for the best, and Storybrooke needed hope. Badly. He just hoped it wasn’t too late to change events.

~~~

Wish Realm

Sauron sulked in his spot in the village, with its dirt roads and thatched houses. At least the campfire was nice and warm. Now, how was he to find Morgoth in this place? He’d been looking for hours and still… nothing. He wasn’t about to give up, but then he needed something to ease his mind. Wait. There was a glowing stick of hay. He plucked it out from the golden hay barrel. The hay stick still glowed in his hand. He smiled a wicked smile.

“At last, Morgoth. We will have our revenge… oh!” Sauron moved behind a log pile. No way. There was Frodo, with his girlfriend and an elderly hobbit. They were of no use to him now. He grinned. Now was his chance to escape… he opened a golden portal and ran through it. The portal vanished a second later.

The inside of Vindicus’ house had a whole stock of herbs and vials filled with various potions, in many shades of color. Otherwise, it was very homey with its wooden table and chairs, bed with a quilt cover on top, and a kitchen with an assortment of dirty pots and pans. For a moment, Frodo nearly thought he was at a healer’s house.

It most certainly seemed that way, until Vindicus pulled out a small box. Frodo was confused. Wasn’t there a portal back to Storybrooke?

“What is this? A portal?” Frodo asked the elderly hobbit.

“In a manner of speaking,” Vindicus said, opening the box, uncovering two green rings. “These came from the world you’re wanting to go back to. They once brought two children straight into the heart of Narnia. They don’t have much use left (only one use, to be precise), but they will take you where you want to go. Just step into this puddle…” he revealed under a knit rug a large puddle, “…and you will find the place you desire.”

“I’ve read about these rings, but I didn’t expect…” Mindy was at a loss for words.

“Here you go,” Frodo said, handing to her one of the green rings. He turned to Vindicus, telling him, kindly, “Thank you.”

“Now, go on. Get moving,” Vindicus said, watching Frodo and Mindy as they stepped onto the puddle.

“Ready?” Frodo asked, gazing at Mindy as if he was about to lose her.

“Yes, I’m ready. Let’s go,” Mindy said, the green ring ready in one hand.

“Right. Let’s go,” Frodo repeated, sticking on the green ring in the same instance as she. He disappeared into a smoky fog, hearing Vindicus’ words one last time.

“Good luck out there! You’ll need it—” the elderly hobbit was gone in a swirling misty fog. Frodo and Mindy were now spinning for a few seconds, until… they landed on the earthen forest floor in the middle of the night.

~~~

Storybrooke, Maine

Frodo looked around for a moment. The trees were massive, but familiar. He sighed. He and Mindy were back in Storybrooke, or at least its forest. The green rings’ glow faded from the band. He took off the ring. Nothing happened. The rings were useless, but maybe would serve as a decoration of sorts.

“Narnia, huh? I hope this ring doesn’t stain,” Mindy said, taking off the ring. She sighed in relief. “Oh good. It didn’t.”

Frodo checked himself. Yes, he was still wearing the same dress clothes he had on, before the Evil Queen made her wish. Good, at least he was still a hobbit as well, with his hairy feet and curly hair to add. But that wasn’t what was important at the moment.

“You’re here. You’re back,” Emma said, stunned to see Frodo and Mindy still alive.

“Fortunately, we are,” Frodo said, helping Mindy to her feet. “Oh.” He picked up the silver dagger from the ground. It was still in one piece. “I thought I’d dropped this. I had it with me this whole time, but…” He jumped a little at the kiss Mindy planted on his lips. It was a stunning moment, one he wasn’t expecting… until she released him.

“I’m sorry,” Mindy said, apologizing. “I just thought I’d try it, see if it was true.”

Frodo gazed into her eyes, kissing her on the lips once more. He released her this time, saying in a kind voice, “Did you think I’d forget?”

“Let’s go,” Regina said, serious.

“Might as well get this over with,” Frodo said, following the others back to Storybrooke. He didn’t let go of Mindy’s hand until they were on Main Street. And there he was: the hooded man.

“My name is Gideon. I’ve been waiting for you two, Emma, Frodo,” the hooded man spoke in a sullen voice.

Frodo looked about the area. There were Emma’s family, but also his friends and family. They were going to stop Gideon… no! Gideon froze them with his magic. Frodo ducked as Gideon and Emma fought. He dived with his dagger, but Gideon was faster, taking it right from his hand, as well as Emma’s sword. His hand trembled. This was the moment they’d all been wondering about… until his magic and Emma’s threw Gideon backwards onto the cement street.

The silver dagger was in Frodo’s hands once again. He wanted to stop Gideon, but Gideon wasn’t attacking. And yet, Emma was on top of him. Just like that, Gideon vanished in a puff of red smoke. Frodo sighed in relief, hugging his friends and family. But was also surprised by the new arrival.

“Bingo, you’re here,” Frodo said, recognizing the hobbit immediately.

“We have a lot to discuss,” Bingo admitted, calmly but worried.

“As do I and…” Frodo turned his gaze to Mindy. She was alone, standing in front of a puddle. He told his friends, “Excuse me.” He approached the woman he met back in the Fairy Realm, the woman who he gave true love’s kiss to. After so many weeks, he sighed, not in distressed or filled with depression, but a sigh of knowing that he needed to do the right thing. He approached Mindy, asking her with some bravery, “Mindy, I know we’ve been through a lot and… would you be my girlfriend?”

“What took you so long?” Mindy asked in turn.

Frodo smiled. “I’m going to catch up with my friends on what’s happened here. Would you like to come along?”

“Yes!” Mindy retreated a little with her words. “I mean, of course I will. I might as well find out what’s going on in Storybrooke, since we left and I had to find you…”

“Come on,” Frodo said, taking her hand and regrouping with the others. He was glad to be back in Storybrooke and not in any Wish Realm. And yet, he couldn’t help but follow Emma, to make sure she was okay. He stopped upon a garage. There was typing going on inside, which presumably stopped. Okay, now he was curious… only to find himself face to face with August Wayne Booth once again.

“Well, come to congratulate me too,” August said to Frodo, all smiles.

“Well, if you call traversing through the Wish Realm one thing, Anakin Skywalker telling me that before I was on two different paths, now on a new path…” Frodo crossed his arms. “It makes me wonder just what it was all worth.”

“Changing our fates,” Emma said with a smile.

“Right,” Frodo took a good look around the garage. There were a lot of tools, some wood carvings and on a long rectangular table a typewriter, with a piece of paper showing words typed in ink on the sheet. “That makes me wonder. What is my fate? What am I chosen to do? I could set sail to the Undying Lands and have my wounds healed, stay here in Storybrooke and face whatever danger comes my way, but I…” He sighed heavily. “I’m not sure where my place is, what I’m supposed to do with myself. They said my wounds were healing, but old wounds return in time.”

“That’s not all true,” August said, grinning. “When you first met Emma and you felt that rush of hope inside you, what happened.”

“I felt like I believed in something, someone. Healed some old wounds,” Frodo admitted.

August looked down at his left shoulder. “Feel your shoulder.”

“What?” Frodo did. Surprisingly, it felt more healed, less in pain. “How did that happen?”

“Well, according to Elrond, you checked at his house the day after I arrived. You sought out some medicine that would take the poison out of your body from both wounds,” August said, knowingly.

“Yeah, but that was a routine checkup. You can’t possibly expect… or maybe you can.” He breathed a sigh of relief. His wounds no longer hurt him. They were healing. Frodo looked up at Emma, who was stunned and concerned, and August, who still had that knowing expression on his face. He asked him, “How is that possible?”

“Because that is a sign of belief,” August explained, frankly, “a sign that maybe your story isn’t all it’s meant to be. You can be healed of those wounds when you believe. And when you reach that point where you know and understand that you can do anything, including changing your fate, you’ll know you’ve got it.”

“So we’re responsible for our fates,” Emma said, understanding. “It makes sense now, as it did back in the Wish Realm. Thank you, August.”

“Thank you, too,” Frodo told August, kindly, “Thank you for believing in me. I guess I can do whatever I want now.”

“It seems you can, Frodo,” August nodded with a grin on his face, “it seems you can.”

Frodo grinned a small grin. Now he got it. And maybe now, with a little practice, his wounds would finally heal properly.

Sauron looked out from an alleyway. Frodo Baggins was so peaceful, so… so… eh. It revolted him, how the hobbit could be happy and he was not! Ooh! He would have his revenge yet. And yet, he looked back at the clock tower. Several minutes had passed since the hobbit’s return and there was Rumplestiltskin’s son, or so he overheard Belle and Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin admit not too long ago. Sauron snickered to himself.

Yes, this war was only just beginning to unfold. It was not over yet.

Chapter Text

Bagshot Row, Hobbiton, the Shire, Middle-earth – The Past

The earth shook that night. Thunder and rain pelted the ground with little control. And yet, a middle-aged hobbit with brown hair moved inside his house, removing his hood to reveal a gentle-hobbit who had seen years of his life move by. He kissed his wife and greeted his infant son.

“How is my family?”

“We’re good, Hamfast, but…” his wife was stunned to see him wander off. “Where are you going in this storm?”

Hamfast revealed a jeweled turnip. “This is what some of the farmers found. It’s a special turnip that when cast in the moonlight will reveal what we want most in the world. The moon is about to show up. I’m going off to see where it leads.”

“Good luck,” his wife told him, “Gaffer.”

“I will,” Gaffer said, heading outside, wearing the hood over his head again. The jeweled turnip glowed a brilliant flash of red. The moon was full and bright. The storm was over. Now to find what he was looking for. “Well, let’s see where you glow most.”

~~~

Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

Sam/Curtis stared at the jeweled turnip in his hands. He couldn’t help it. There was something about the jewel that just felt like it belonged to him. But that didn’t stop him from looking up from the dinner table. He was still inside Frodo’s blue walled house, enjoying his welcome back party.

“Welcome back, Frodo and Mindy,” Merry/Donovan said, clanking his wine glass against theirs. “This time, maybe we can all celebrate in peace.”

“Yes, so it would seem,” Frodo said, wrapping an arm around Mindy’s shoulders.

“Eh… should I know what was going on in the Wish Realm?” Pippin/Edric asked, curious and concerned.

“Excuse me,” Sam said, standing up only to witness the jewel glow in his hand.

“What is that?” Mindy asked, alarmed.

“I don’t…” Sam was cut off. The jewel glowed too fiercely, showing off an image of Rumplestiltskin, when he looked gold-speckled.

“This is a message to all the Dark Ones. Remember what your price is, for when you make a deal, know that it was worth it,” Rumplestiltskin’s hologram said, his image vanishing into the jewel.

“Sam, what is that?” Frodo asked, also confused.

“That is the answer I need,” Sam said, facing his best friend. “I think it’s time I speak to Rumplestiltskin about this.”

~~~

The Mill, Hobbiton, the Shire, Middle-earth – The Past

Gaffer Gamgee journeyed inside the mill. The wood wheels turned inside, making a lot of noise. He could hear the sounds of rushing water outside, where the mill wheel lay. The jeweled turnip glowed more brightly here. If only there wasn’t a giggly voice intruding on the landscape.

“Who are you?” Gaffer said, reading his apple pick.

“That’s not going to work on me, dearie,” said a gold-speckled man, who politely introduced himself. “Rumplestiltskin at your service.”

“What do you want?” Gaffer asked, confused.

“It’s not what I want. It’s what you need,” Rumplestiltskin said, giggling. He admitted, his voice changing an octave, “You see, I need that jeweled turnip for a… special task. You and your family get your life back, everything goes on track. Your son becomes a hero. You win your freedom, becoming the greatest gardener that ever lived in all the Shire. Do we have a deal?”

“What do you get out of it?” Gaffer asked, concerned.

He shrugged. “Oh. Just to watch your life unfold.” He smiled afterwards. “The turnip please? I don’t break deals.”

“Do you ever?” Gaffer asked, curious.

“There was a moment, but that’s another story,” Rumplestiltskin said, serious. “Now, about that deal.” Gaffer, with some reluctance, passed the jeweled turnip to the gold-speckled man. His eyes widened the second the turnip stopped glowing.

“You,” the Gaffer said, stunned. “The turnip was leading to you. How? Why?”

“It doesn’t matter now. I got what I want. You got what you want.” Rumplestiltskin smiled. “So long, dearie. I do hope we meet again.” He chuckled, vanishing in a red smoke. Gaffer looked around, unsure what had just happened. Was he family truly safe? Were they? He hardly knew, but he knew one thing was certain…

“I need to get home,” Gaffer said, taking off out of the mill with a new quest.

~~~

Mr. Gold’s Pawnshop, Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

Sam plopped the jeweled turnip on the glass cased desk. His eyes met that of Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin’s whose hair was cropped and greying. Already, it looked as though Mr. Gold didn’t have any answers.

“I’m sorry. I can’t help you,” Mr. Gold said, slightly annoyed. “I have my own business to attend to.”

“You helped me out,” Frodo said, determined to get the right answer from him.

“And yet, our deals are done,” Mr. Gold said, turning his gaze to Sam/Curtis, “But this is between you and me. I have nothing to offer you.”

“My father had this turnip. Surely you can give me some answers,” Sam said, frustrated. “Maybe you knew what my father told you. The reason why he gave this to you.”

“Didn’t he come with the curse? No, he didn’t. Which means you’re running out of time and patience.” Mr. Gold said, but not before asking, “But why did you come? Truly? This jeweled turnip means a lot to you. What is that you want that you are willing to sacrifice?”

“Information,” Sam said, making a guess. He admitted, calmly, “What would you do for family, Rumplestiltskin? What would you do?”

“Now we’re talking,” Mr. Gold said, opening a photo album. “Ah yes. Here it is.” He pulled out a picture of a windmill. “I believe you recognize this. The turnip was guiding your father, Samwise, to me. I promised to give your family everything you wish, including make you a hero. But that was one piece of the puzzle. I granted it through a deal, but it did not make you a hero all on its own. You did that.”

“My life was given to me by a deal,” Sam said, shocked.

“Don’t be too proud. Your father got what he desired, what he asked for. Any parent would want their child to have a better life than they themselves have already. Putting our children first counts,” Mr. Gold explained, keeping his voice even.

“Then let’s make another deal,” Sam said, desperate.

“Sam!” Frodo cried, grabbing his arm.

“You’d better listen to your friend, Samwise.” Mr. Gold said, looking up at Sam. “I’m done making deals with hobbits. Now, unless there was a really good reason, Sam, I’m afraid we’re done here.”

“Sam. Sam!” Frodo said, trying to help his best friend along. Only Sam moved out of the shop before he had the chance to say anything further. Frodo faced Mr. Gold again, asking him, “Why did you do that? Make a deal so Sam could have happiness? Who does that?”

“A man, or in this case a hobbit, willing to sacrifice everything for their loved ones.” Mr. Gold said, staring at him now. “If you’re wondering why I don’t make deals that often with hobbits, it’s because those deals have to have very good reasons behind them. Good day.” He got Mindy’s attention next. “If you think you’re doing the hobbits good by sticking with them, even as far as falling in love with one, just be warned: it won’t end well unless something changes. That’s the fate of authors, even fanfiction ones.”

Mindy stared wide-eyed. Could Rumplestiltskin be serious? What he was saying… what if it was true? But then, maybe there was a good reason for her happiness. She hoped it would end well, even as Frodo helped her outside Mr. Gold’s pawnshop.

But then, Frodo’s attention turned to Sam, who stared out at downtown Storybrooke. “Sam, what is it? You got the information you wanted.”

“My whole life has been based around a deal,” Sam said, facing Frodo for a moment. “I need time.” He walked away, unsure where he was going… Granny’s Diner. That was the one place he would go to sulk and get his thoughts out. That seemed like the right place to go to in this situation.

~~~

Bagshot Row, Hobbiton, the Shire, Middle-earth – The Past

Gaffer returned home not so wise as he had been. Giving up the jeweled turnip… what was he thinking? He knew better than to trust any imp that crossed his path. But Rumplestiltskin was too convincing. It felt wrong. He heaved a sigh. There was his wife with their infant son, carrying him in her arms and rocking him to sleep in a wooden rocking chair. Gaffer approached her, knowing what was right in front of him was good.

“Sam will grow up to be a good hobbit. Won’t he, Gaffer?” his wife asked, kissing their son’s forehead.

“Yes. Here’s to Samwise Gamgee, honorary hero and world-renowned gentle-hobbit this side of the Shire has ever seen,” Gaffer said, grinning at their baby, even as infant Samwise slept on without a care in the world.

~~~

Granny’s Diner, Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

Sam drank down his fourth shot of ale. Already, even as he sat in the red cushioned booth, complete with its white table, thoughts of what had happened to him that day came to pass. His whole life had been based around a deal. Was he truly a hero? He couldn’t make another deal just to undo it. What could he do now? If only… oh, Mr. Frodo sat across from him. Him and his girlfriend. He should be delighted, but then, why wasn’t he?

“Mr. Frodo, what brings you here?” Sam asked Mr. Frodo, curtly.

“Sam, what happened to you…” Mindy was cut off by Sam, who was still angry.

“I don’t need your advice. Thank you, but please leave,” Sam said, annoyed.

“Sam,” Frodo said, grabbing Mindy’s arm. “Sam, you can tell me anything.”

“What? That my whole life has been because of a deal,” Sam said, frustrated. “I won’t be a hero. I’m not like Emma. Emma and I have something in common now. Our life is predicted.”

“But it’s not who you are,” Frodo told him, calmly. “Sam, just because a deal is made, it didn’t make you a hero. You did that on your own.”

“Well, it doesn’t matter now,” Sam said, looking up at him. “Because I have no idea how to stop this darkness from spreading.”

“Then we find out together,” Mindy said, being optimistic. “Isn’t that what’s important?”

Frodo grinned. At least his girlfriend had that optimism that he didn’t miss. If only Sam could see it, too. “Sam, do you really think you could have helped me destroy the One Ring due to a deal? Sam, it was more than that. You helped me out in more ways than one. Why won’t you accept that?”

“Because then I’d know what I was getting into.” Sam realized something. “Maybe I’m not a hero as the deal proclaimed. It said, and I went back to Rumplestiltskin, that it brought my family happiness and make me a hero. I’m already a hero. That came true, but your Darkness escaped, Mr. Frodo.”

“What?” Frodo asked, alarmed. “Then where is he? Where would he go?”

“I hardly know,” Sam said, serious. “I just hope he hasn’t caused too much damage.”

Sauron’s House, Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

Sauron looked about his house. The weapons were still lined on the grey and wood-paneled walls, exactly as he had them. So far, so good. He had everything he desired… if only that whoosh behind him hadn’t prevented him from taking his double-bladed axe off the wall.

“Who are you? What are you doing here, mate?” Sauron said, thrashing a sword at the figure. Only the figure came up behind him, stopping him from overpowering the figure. No way. The figure was Frodo’s Darkness.

“Miss me?” Frodo’s Darkness asked, grinning.

“What are you doing here? How did you get so powerful?” Sauron asked, tossing his weapon off to the side.

“That’s not important. Although strength solution stamina potions work wonders on dopplegangers,” Frodo’s Darkness said, collapsing on the grey sofa. “Now, let’s talk, shall we?” He smiled that wicked smile. He knew he had Sauron right where he wanted him. So, why stop there? By this time, he had Sauron in his grasp.

“All right.” Sauron said, sitting in a chair across from him. “What do you want?”

Frodo’s Darkness smiled again, determination in his eyes. “Oh. Don't you trust me? But I do have a plan." He took a sip from his wine glass, filled with grey liquid. "It’s time to stop my lighter half from succeeding, and I know just how to do it.” He smiled, resting his legs against the couch in a relaxed fashion. "So, let's begin. Shall we?"

Chapter Text

Fortress of Angband, Beleriand – The Past

Scorched rock penetrated the earth, sweeping across the land like wildfire. Before the land and its mountains was a black iron fortress, impenetrable though it appeared. It was here that a ruthless battle took place against Sauron, Melkor and Melkor’s forces against the Free Peoples. Sauron, clad in iron armor and donned in an iron helmet, fought to the best of his abilities, even taking some of the free peoples’ down. If only he had planned ahead, then he wouldn’t have expected to see the Vala Tulkas rise up and capture Melkor.

Sauron peered down at the silver dagger in his hand. He crafted this dagger with the finest metals that Valinor had to offer. Now it was his and he was not giving it back, not even for… a giggly voice got his attention. He spun around fast to face a gold speckled man donned in red robes.

“Do you want my help?” the gold-speckled man. “For a deal, of course. Rumplestiltskin is my name, don’t you know?”

“Fine, just get me out of here,” Sauron told the imp.

“Fair enough,” Rumplestiltskin said, poofing them in a cloud of smoke inside a hovel. It was better than Sauron predicted. But Rumplestiltskin’s attention was elsewhere. “Welcome to the Enchanted Forest. And now, I’ll see to it with that dagger.”

Sauron jerked the dagger away. “It’s mine and you cannot have it.”

“Can’t I?” Rumplestiltskin asked, curious. “Very clever. So you want that dagger and I want myself a prized golden stallion, not two hundred leagues from here. Fetch me that stallion and you keep the dagger, and as a bonus no one need know we made this deal.”

“And if I fail. What do you get from all of this?” Sauron asked him, curious.

“Oh, just knowing that I helped a future Dark Lord,” Rumplestiltskin said, extending his hand. “Do we have a deal?”

Sauron, though reluctant at first, shook his hand. “Deal.”

“Good. Now off you go,” Rumplestiltskin said, as the door behind him opened on its own. “Just remember, dearie,” he said as Sauron made his way out the door, “there’s more than one danger here. More than one danger.” He giggled one last time, in an effort to show he wasn’t kidding. Sauron shook his head. Now where did he have to go?

~~~

Sauron’s House, Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

At Sauron’s house, Sauron listened intently to Frodo’s Darkness’ plan. He was keen on seeing how this would turn out, but the one piece of information did surprise him to the very least.

“You want a showdown with your lighter half,” Sauron spoke up. The cushions in his brown leather chair were rather thin and worn down. He would have to fix that soon. “How do you plan on accomplishing this?”

Frodo’s Darkness looked up with keen eyes. “One thing at a time, Sauron. One thing at a time.”

“You do realize you’re going to have to find a way to corner Frodo,” Sauron told him.

“I know.”

“And you’re going to have to keep the heroes away for a while…”

“I know that, too.” Frodo’s Darkness smirked as he poured more grey liquid into his glass. “But that isn’t important. The question is how I corner him that will matter. Do you want to hear more of my plan?”

“Get out!” Sauron said, heading towards the front door. “And don’t come back, looking for…” He gasped. Frodo’s Darkness was on his porch again.

“No matter. I’ll find my own way out. Thank you for listening, Sauron, even if you couldn’t help me out,” Frodo’s Darkness walked away. Maybe he had Sauron. Maybe he didn’t. What mattered was he got the dark lord intrigued at his offer. Maybe he would come to terms with his plan later. He would just have to wait and see.

Frodo’s House, Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

Frodo entered his house, finding the walls in the exact same shade of blue and his furniture neatly placed in their appropriate rooms. Everything was great. Although, he did remember the conversation he had with Sam outside of Granny’s Diner that evening…

“Mr. Frodo, I would watch that authoress of yours,” Sam told him.

“Sam, she’s fine,” Frodo said, curtly. “What could possibly be wrong?”

“Henry’s…”

“What?” Frodo interrupted him. “Henry has a girlfriend. It’s only natural that I…”

“Mr. Frodo, she is not the same as Henry. I know she’s not and…” Sam pulled out a yellow folder. “Take it. You’ll see I’m right. There’s something not right about Mindy. What if she was pulled out of her time, her place, for a reason. To get our secrets out.”

“Sam, she’s not like that,” Frodo said, not liking the folder being pushed into his hands.

“Just read them,” Sam said, walking away from him. Frodo couldn’t believe it. Well, he would look at the papers later, even if to prove his friend wrong about his girlfriend. He wouldn’t know until after he looked at them…

Frodo stared at the yellow folder in his hands. He paused. Should he open it and reveal whether Sam was speaking the truth or not about Mindy? Maybe there was something he missed. Or maybe…

“Frodo!” Mindy cried excitedly, wrapping her arms around his shoulders. Frodo sighed. Oh how he would miss this. She asked, concerned, “What is that?”

“Hmm?” Frodo said, facing her now. She was looking at the folder. “Oh. Um… it’s nothing.” He knew he shouldn’t have lied to her.

“Let me see,” Mindy said, extending her hand out. Frodo, with great reluctance, passed the folder to her. He watched her reading it over, the smile on her face melting away. She looked up at him now. “This says I’m not the same author as Henry. But I already knew that and I told you about that, too…”

Silence entered the room.

“What else does it say?” Frodo asked her, curious.

Mindy slammed the folder shut. “It says that… that… I’m just an observer. I’m forbidden to find love. I’m forbidden to do a lot of things. Oh great.” She dropped the folder on the floor, rushing up the stairs in moments.

Frodo turned his attention to the papers. They were exactly as she said. He knew she was different, but… that explained a lot. But no. She was his girlfriend. Surely, there was an explanation for all of this. There had to be one. How else was she in Storybrooke? He would just have to find another way to find the right answer.

~~~

Glen, The Enchanted Forest – The Past

Sauron moved through the green glen with ease. There was a waterfall in the glen, trickling down as much water as there was. It was such a serene area… enough to bring about a golden stallion? That’s what he hoped. And… oh yes, there was the steed, glowing gold and making the water run golden as it drank. He had the creature. Yes, he clamped his arms around the beast. He just didn’t expect the poof of smoke to bar his way.

“Now, now, we don’t want to kill the beast,” Rumplestiltskin said, curtly. “Not yet anyway. Tie it up or something.”

Sauron did, using his own magic to chain the whinnying steed to a tree. The stallion looked pathetic where it stood. And yet, he watched Rumplestiltskin use his own power to drain the stallion’s magic until it dropped to the ground, lifeless and limp.

“What did you just do?” Sauron asked the imp, confused.

“Just what I needed to do. I now have all the power from this steed. The ability to turn water into gold and do so much more.” Rumplestiltskin said, curtly. “Let’s head back to my hovel, shall we?” In a poof of smoke, they were back inside the hovel. “You are free to go. I have no more need of you.”

“You killed that beast,” Sauron told him.

“What are you sympathetic or something? You’re not sympathetic. You’re Sauron. That beast is alive. Just drained of magic,” Rumplestiltskin said, unsure what was happening here. “Now, be on your way. Our deal is over.”

Sauron planted the silver dagger to Rumplestiltskin’s throat. “Give that beast back his magic, or I will use this dagger.”

“To do what? That dagger’s useless in front of me,” Rumplestiltskin said, sure of himself.

“You do not understand, do you? This dagger has special abilities. It can change fate, but also cut off one’s magic, if need be. Including yours. And that would end the Dark One’s reign and any future Dark Ones to come. And I have the only recipe in order to create more of these daggers.” He pointed to his forehead. “In here. Do not tangle with me. But I fear our work has only just begun. I’ll see you later, after you’ve given that beast back his magic.”

Rumplestiltskin did, sending a blast of golden magic back out into the air. The stallion was back on his feet. Sauron freed the beast of its chains. That was one effort done. Only Rumplestiltskin wasn’t so pleased. He was fearful. “What do you intend to do now?”

“Heading back home. I’ll see you later,” Sauron poofed himself out in a puff of black smoke. Rumplestiltskin looked around. He was alone and he was furious, shoving objects here and there, yelling and screaming. How could he have been bested by a Dark Lord? One who hadn’t been around as long as he had? Something wasn’t right. Not right at all. He would get him back, one way or another.

~~~

Frodo’s House, Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

Dawn. Frodo entered the dining room with the folder on hand. He slammed the folder down on the table, right in front of Mindy, leaving her dreadfully confused.

“You’ve been thinking it over, haven’t you?” Frodo asked her, uncertain how she would take it.

“Frodo, we can’t be together. Not like this…”

“These papers are from 1995,” Frodo corrected her. “Times are changed. There must be a reason why you’re here. Otherwise, we would have been told ahead of time why we shouldn’t be together.”

“But would you have? If the circumstances were different,” Mindy asked him, afraid.

“I would have done what was best for you,” he said, kissing her on the forehead.

“Even if it was for the wrong reasons,” she said, hoping to get an answer.

“Come on. Let’s eat breakfast,” he said, heading over to the counter.

“You didn’t answer me,” she said, serious. “Would you have done so for the wrong reasons?”

Frodo faced her, knowing what his answer was. “Look, if it was to protect you, and if it felt right, then yes, things might be different between us. But you can’t base something that was years ago.” He changed the subject. “I’ll fix us something to eat.”

“I guess that’s the only answer I’m getting…”

Frodo stopped and looked up. Honestly, what was she expecting from him? “Look, I didn’t…” he faced her again. “That’s not what I meant.”

“Then what did you mean?” she asked, hoping for the right answer to come her way.

“Mindy, do you see anyone trying to stop us from being together?” Frodo asked her.

“Your friends are suspicious, Mr. Gold is suspicious. Seems to be something to do with me,” Mindy explained. She asked next, “Am I a problem amongst Storybrooke? I didn’t know that I was.”

“Let’s just eat first. We can talk about this more later on. All right?” Frodo asked her, concerned.

“All right,” Mindy said, a little gloomy.

Frodo didn’t know what else to do for her. It all seemed like things were starting to crash down before them. He couldn’t think that way. Not in these times. He had to be strong. He had to do the right thing. But what did the right thing mean? Were people right about him and Mindy? That was the last thing he wanted to think about. For now, even as he thought these things, his mind turned to making pancakes for him and Mindy. It was about the only thing he could do to keep his mind off the subject at hand. And get back to doing something normal for once, normal for a change. He just hoped he was right in the end, that nothing would happen to come between himself and his girlfriend, but then he wasn’t sure where things were heading these days.

He just hoped the right path to come soon, if not soon enough.

~~~

Beleriand – The Past

Melkor managed to break free. His dark essence gushed outside of himself, while his iron armor shielded him from uncanny eyes. He searched long through the day and night for his servant, his most loyal servant. Someone who would ease his pain. And there he was, Sauron, coming out from the shadows of a cave.

“Sauron,” Melkor spoke in a dark voice. “You fled.”

“Before they could catch me,” Sauron told him, also clad in iron armor. “I have news that might interest you.”

“I’m listening. Go on,” Melkor said, watching Sauron as he told the Dark Lord about his meeting Rumplestiltskin and the trick he did against the imp. He reassured Melkor this would not be the last time he would come face to face with the gold-speckled man, nor would it be his last. Melkor nodded in understanding. “Then we must get to work at once. And do not fear, Sauron. Your path may yet indeed cross with Rumplestiltskin again.”

“When will that be?” Sauron asked his maser.

“When the time comes, you will know,” Melkor said, leading the way.

Sauron had a feeling his master was right. But when that day would come… well, he would find out. Wouldn’t he?

~~~

Granny’s Diner, Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

Sam sat at a booth, drinking tea by himself. It was lunchtime and already the Daily Mirror issue was already becoming more enthralling by the minute. He just didn’t expect or plan Frodo to slap the same folder right in front of him, nor have Mindy sit down at the same side as Frodo.

“What is she doing here?” Sam/Curtis asked Frodo, confused.

“You gave me papers from 1995, scared Mindy straight and nearly caused me and her to do something we would regret,” Frodo explained, serious.

“Well, it’s what’s been going around, Mr. Frodo,” Sam said. “The townsfolk, and myself, are concerned that Mindy could be following the same path as other authors who aren’t like Henry and his job, his role. She has a different role, Mr. Frodo, and I don’t think it involves having us around to protect her. She needs to be doing things on her own. Isn’t that what counts.”

“Sam, until we understand what Mindy’s role is in Storybrooke, we certainly can’t go on old information,” Frodo said, passing the papers to his friend. “I know you mean well, Sam, but…”

“Mr. Frodo, I’m afraid this information has been out for a while,” Sam said, admitting freely.

“Sam, you hardly have any proof,” Mindy said, serious.

“It’s in the library. There’s records of authors from this world. You’re the recent author, aren’t you? It’s possible we could be following the same trend. Don’t get too attached to Mr. Frodo, Miss Mindy. Your role will have to go solo,” Sam told her. Frodo fell silent. How could his best friend say such things? Then again, he knew not to take things at face value. “I think until we learn something more…”

“Sam, where would she go? Let her stay with me, at least until she gets her bearings and until we figure out what’s going on with her and her role in Storybrooke,” Frodo said, agreeing to his friend’s wishes.

“So I get kicked out either way,” Mindy said, stunned. “I can’t believe this is happening.”

“Nothing’s happened yet.” Frodo said, massaging her shoulders. “And until we find out what this is all about, I’m afraid we’re going to have to stick to current affairs.” He looked at Sam then, “We’ll get this straightened out. Don’t worry.” His gaze returned to Mindy, a smile on his face. All they could do now was hope that whatever the future brought for them, it would end on good terms. Then again, who knew what awaited them. Frodo just hoped he would be the hero everyone needed right now, including his girlfriend. There was still hope. There was. He wasn’t about to give up yet.

Storybrooke Heritage Park, Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

Sauron rushed across the green grass to the clear body of water. There was Frodo’s Darkness, waiting for him… or not, depending on how one viewed things. But there he was, standing there and not moving. Maybe this was a bad time.

“You came,” Frodo’s Darkness said, slightly peeved. “Whatever for?”

“Your plan seems sound,” Sauron said, shrugging. “So, how do we stop Frodo?”

Frodo’s Darkness faced him, smiling. “I’m glad you asked. It’s time we start, sooner rather than late.” He smirked. “And I know the place to go, somewhere where we both won’t be disturbed.”

“And where might that be?” Sauron asked, curtly.

“One thing at a time. For now, I am convinced that we finally have things rolling. Now we can stop my lighter half once and for all,” Frodo’s Darkness said, keen on defeating his enemy. “Frodo may not be as brave as I am, or cunning for that matter, but I do know one thing’s for sure. Frodo’s lighter half will finally get its due soon enough.”

“And how do you intend to stop him? Remind me of that plan again,” Sauron asked, curious.

“You’ll see, Sauron. You’ll see.”

“I had better see something fast, or I’ll…”

“Where is your master?” Frodo’s Darkness asked, curious himself. “You see, he’s not here and I’m…”

“You had better make progress or things will look very bad for you,” Sauron said, serious. “Words will only get you so far.”

“Then let’s make sure there’s some action,” Frodo’s Darkness said, confirming the Dark Lord’s statement with his own, “Sauron, before it’s too late.” He smirked, but it was this smirk that would confirm one thing: the end to his lighter half. He was drawing closer to completing that step, one by one.

Chapter Text

Brandy Hall, Buckland, Bree-land, Middle-earth – The Past

The smial Brandy Hall was a massive, luxurious green grassy hill. Well, not today, for it started snowing. Winter had come to Buckland, and yet in the empty wood-paneled floored hallways with beige walls, it didn’t help some who were trying to sleep. Frodo Baggins was age fourteen and already coming into his fair elvish features. His blue eyes intensified as they looked about the room. He didn’t know what to do… he… his hand was sparking blue lights.

“Frodo,” his aunt Esmeralda Brandybuck entered his bedroom. “Frodo, I know it’s been two years since you first came here.”

“I keep getting reminded of my parents,” Frodo told her, seriousness in his eyes. “You have no idea what that’s like.”

“I know enough, Frodo,” she said, sitting next to him. “I know how it feels.”

“No you don’t,” Frodo said, hardly believing her. “It just… it feels… WRONG!” At the wave of his hand, papers flew across the room by themselves, scattering on the floor. What had he done? He looked at his hand now. “What have I done?”

“Frodo, let’s talk about this. Let’s…”

“No. You wouldn’t understand. No one does!” Frodo charged out of the bedroom, unsure how he was so angry. He wasn’t thinking straight, but… maybe that was for the best. He wanted to be alone. That’s all that mattered right now. That’s all he needed to breeze through the day, right? Right? Then again, as he leaned against the wall, a thought came to his mind: just what did he know about himself that he hadn’t already known?

He looked on as Esmeralda spoke to his Uncle Saradoc. Great. Just what he needed. Adults getting in his way, as they had before in his lifetime. Just in his lifetime.

~~~

Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

Frodo’s Darkness moved across the snowy ground. The forest was so calming, so pleasant. Just what he needed in order to find the Evil Queen with what he needed to survive. If only Sauron didn’t just poof in a puff of black smoke in front of him.

“You were thinking about abandoning me,” Sauron told him, ashamed.

“No. You’re missing the point. We are partners in this, Sauron,” Frodo told him. “Partners. Remember? You can’t do this without me.”

“Actually, I think I already did. My mission isn’t over yet. I don’t need you in my way.” Sauron vanished in a puff of black smoke once more. Frodo’s Darkness looked around, startled but feeling amused himself.

The Evil Queen laughed wickedly. “So I see there is a turn of fate for you after all. Mind joining me and Robin for a change.”

“Only if I get what I need.” Frodo’s Darkness approached her. “And what I need is a way to sever my ties with Frodo. My lighter half.”

“You’re in luck,” the Evil Queen said, brandishing a pair of golden scissors. “These scissors cut ties with one’s fate. In our case, we’re on the same side.”

“Then I’m in,” Frodo’s Darkness said quickly.

“I thought you might,” the Evil Queen said, smiling at the scissors.

Frodo’s Darkness dared ask next. “So where are we heading?”

“I think it’s time to send Regina and Frodo a message, one that is surefire to work,” the Evil Queen explained.

“Then count me in,” Frodo’s Darkness said, convinced this plan would work out for the best.

~~~

Brandy Hall, Buckland, Bree-land, Middle-earth – The Past

Saradoc looked in Frodo’s bedroom again. There was Frodo, sitting on his bed, his body moving back and forth in angst. He wanted to help the boy, help him figure out his powers. Only there was that anger Esmeralda told him about. Was that normal? No, not like this. There had to be something they could do to help out the lad.

There was, the second the gold-speckled man in the crocodile skin outfit appeared in the room. “Trouble amongst the family? I have a solution, one that may help Frodo’s magic problems.”

“Rumplestiltskin, you were helpful to Frodo before. Help him now,” Saradoc said, determined to get his nephew back.

“Well, I could tell you, but the lad is right over there, listening, eavesdropping so to say,” Rumplestiltskin said, pointing to Frodo. Indeed, the lad was listening to their conversation.

“You were going to try what?” Frodo asked, approaching the group.

“Frodo, this doesn’t concern you. Go back to your room,” Esmeralda said, turning to Rumplestiltskin. “We can talk about this more in the kitchen.”

“No. I want to hear this!” Frodo protested.

“Frodo, stay in your room and don’t come out until we tell you to! Do you understand?” Esmeralda fired back, crossly.

Saradoc hadn’t seen his wife behave like this, except around the children living at Brandy Hall. He watched Frodo return to his bedroom, his hands covering his face in anguish. He wanted to help him out. Surely there was a way to help him out. Yes, it seemed trusting Rumplestiltskin was the only way to do this, now more than ever. He would not lose his nephew, not over this. Not for anything. It was time to seek some advice, wherever it may come.

~~~

Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

Frodo entered Granny’s Diner, surprised to see Regina with Emma, Henry and Snow. Well, he shouldn’t be surprised to see Regina now that he saw her lighter half, the good half. What was strange was not finding his Darkness lurking about. Maybe that was a good thing.

“What’s wrong?” Frodo asked, approaching the group.

“Apparently, your Darkness and the Evil Queen are working together now,” Regina said, showing Frodo the alternate page from Henry’s book. There was a message there that read: You know where to meet us. Frodo’s Darkness.

“Wait. He’s not talking about… is he?” Frodo looked up at his friends. “I don’t understand.”

“The fact is that now we have a mission: stop the Evil Queen and your Darkness from wreaking havoc over Storybrooke,” Regina said, firm.

“But they’ve already been wreaking havoc over Storybrooke. Regina,” Snow said, surprised.

“I think I should go.” Emma said, rashly. “You two have been through enough.”

“No Emma.” Frodo said, serious. “Not this time. This is my battle.”

“It’s our battle now,” Regina told him. “We need to go.”

“And where exactly are we meeting them?” Frodo asked her, confused.

“The exact same place where the Evil Queen wants me to meet her: at my office,” Regina said, leading the way. Frodo followed, wondering if this was such a good idea.

~~~

Brandy Hall, Buckland, Bree-land, Middle-earth – The Past

The dining room table was long and done in a fine polished oak. Standing against the walls were glass cabinets in their wood frames, complete with scores of dishes and utensils. But it was at the table that Saradoc met with Esmeralda and Rumplestiltskin. And apparently, what was coming out of Rumplestiltskin’s mouth was anything but good.

“A memory potion,” Saradoc was confused. “You want us to give Frodo memory potion.”

“Just enough to help him remember who he is. He won’t remember that he has magic, but that doesn’t mean in the future that it won’t return,” Rumplestiltskin said.

“We’re not…”

“Done!” Esmeralda said quickly, surprising Saradoc.

“Esme, you don’t mean…” Saradoc was interrupted again by his wife.

“What choice do we have?” Esmeralda placed her hand over his. “We can’t let Frodo be consumed by magic. It’ll change him.”

“Unless he can control it,” Saradoc said, admitting freely. He told Rumplestiltskin, “We don’t know what this’ll do to him.”

“It’ll bring back the hobbit you know. The hobbit that’s inside him,” Rumplestiltskin said, standing up. “Let’s begin. Shall we?” He brought over a steaming cup of tea, but also pouring in some grey liquid as well. “Go on now. Don’t say this wasn’t a good bargain.”

“I don’t understand,” Esmeralda asked him. “Just what was this deal we made.”

“Very simple. Memory potion for…” the imp plucked a gold strand from Esmeralda’s hair, “…this. Ta ta now! I hope that memory potion works out for you.” He poofed himself in a cloud of grey smoke.

Esmeralda was shocked. She sighed. It was good Rumplestiltskin left her house. Now if only to find Frodo… drinking the tea. Oh, she loved Frodo’s room with all the green plants and the writing desk, but… how was he?

“Frodo?” Esmeralda asked, concerned. “Frodo, are you all right?”

“What happened?” Frodo asked, beside himself and dazed. He stared at the papers on the floor. “What happened? How did those papers get there?”

“There was wind blowing from outside. It was a big wind. It must have knocked the papers over,” Saradoc lied.

“Right,” Frodo said, already suspicious.

“Would you like something else, Frodo?” Esmeralda asked, moving the teacup away from him.

“Maybe some crumpets,” Frodo said, licking his lips.

“I’ll get those ready,” Esmeralda said, taking Frodo by the hand and raising an eyebrow at Saradoc. Their plan had worked. Frodo didn’t remember if he had any magic or not. But how long would that last before he discovered he had magical abilities. Only time would tell what happened next. At least the worst was over… for now anyway.

~~~

Regina’s Office, Town Hall Building, Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

Frodo surveyed the hallway with its beige walls and wood paneled floor. So far, so good. There was little activity in sight, and yet not so good with its bookkeeping on a nearside table.

“You really need to update this book, Regina,” Frodo chided, giddily.

“Shush!” Regina gestured forwards towards her office. “Come on.”

Frodo slammed the book down gently on the table. As he followed Regina into her office, Frodo asked her, “So, who are we looking for that my evil half and your evil half put up as bait?”

“I don’t know.” Regina said, thinking. “The only obvious person I could think of is…” there was only one thief that she and Frodo saw in the white and black room, “Robin.”

“Now you find me.” Robin said, alarmed. “It turns out your evil half, Regina, is quite easy to maintain.”

“Maintain? Hardly,” the Evil Queen, dressed in black, came out of hiding with Frodo’s Darkness, dressed in the attire that Frodo wore when he was the Dark Lord, following after her.

“Oh look, they arrived.” Frodo’s Darkness chided, chuckling wickedly. “We did a good job, your highness.” He waited until after the Evil Queen poofed Robin out of the room in a cloud of purple smoke, before continuing, “Although, they aren’t very bright.”

“It’s time to end this,” the Evil Queen said, pulling out the gold shears.

“What the—” Frodo was cut off. There were two red beams of light emitting from him and his Darkness, as well as Regina and the Evil Queen. In two snips, he and Regina were freed of their evil halves. He hesitated, finding himself in a strange disposition, as if he had been cut off from something. From himself. Of course, he was.

That didn’t stop Frodo’s Darkness and the Evil Queen from poofing in some swords. “Let’s end this… properly this time.” Frodo’s Darkness said, enjoying his new physique. “And let’s call me Dark Frodo then, shall we?”

“That was my title,” Frodo said, serious.

Frodo’s Darkness cackled. “Right, back when you were evil. Now you’re not, are you?” With a wave of his hand, he sent Frodo against the wall, smashing one of the mirrors. “Not a fair fight, is it Frodo?” He swung his sword, only to pulled back against a pole by Frodo’s magic. He was chained, unable to move. Now it was Frodo’s turn, grabbing a dagger and placing it on his Darkness’ throat. It was enough for Frodo’s Darkness to taunt him. “Go ahead. Kill me.”

“Wait!” Regina spoke up, stopping Frodo from doing anything. “You don’t want to do this.”

“What?” Frodo asked her, confused.

“Go on. Do it,” Frodo’s Darkness said, taunting him.

“What about her?” Frodo asked Regina. The Evil Queen gave her an evil look, so evil that even he could see she was hurting inside. He turned to a mirror, shattered on the floor from where he crashed into the wall. It was his reflection. No. It was his Darkness with a saddened look on his face. Frodo knew then what to do, and he did. Dropping the dagger, Frodo pulled out his Darkness’ heart and his own, blending the light and the dark into each heart. Did he give Regina the same idea? He must have, for she proceeded to do the same thing, before putting her heart and the Evil Queen’s heart back into place.

His Darkness was still staring him down. “What are you doing?” He threatened. “You’re nothing without me. Nothing. But since we’re apart, we’re…” He grunted loudly. Frodo had put his heart back inside his chest, same as he did his own heart. His Darkness felt strange, like the light and the dark were inside his chest, running in unison. He felt different. He was different now. He spoke to his other half, calmly, “What did you do to me?”

“The only thing I could do: show you what love feels like.” Frodo explained, also calm. “If there’s one lesson I’ve learned since being here is you have to confront yourself, as I’m doing with my half, and love all there is about me. It’s one thing to care about others, it’s another thing to both care for yourself and others. I learned that lesson the most since losing my parents, but I gained it back thanks to my friends and family. I hope that’s lesson enough and… here.” He hugged his Darkness. He couldn’t believe it. He was letting the light and the dark in. Letting himself in. That’s what counted. How did he know that?

“Here. I have a present for you.” His Darkness said, touching Frodo’s forehead with the palm of his hand.

Frodo lurched. There were pieces of his memory come back, including what his Uncle Saradoc and Aunt Esmeralda did to prevent him from falling into the Darkness. His eyes shot open. He remembered now. “What was that?”

“Something the heart remembers,” his Darkness said, smiling. “And now you know everything about your past. Do what you must, but first you’ll have to free me.”

“Sorry.” Frodo apologized, loosening the chains. To his surprise and relief, his Darkness didn’t attack him nor Regina and the Evil Queen, who had also turned over a new leaf. So far, things were well, weren’t they?

~~~

Brandy Hall, Buckland, Bree-land, Middle-earth – The Past

Saradoc watched Frodo playing in the snow, alone. The ground was completely covered by it, and yet he was happy Esmeralda bundled Frodo up, given all that had occurred recently. He turned to his wife as she too stepped outside.

“Frodo’s doing all right,” Esmeralda asked, intrigued. “I’m surprised. That memory potion did more than one trick. Not only does Frodo not remember he has magic, but he’s also happy. Like, the memory potion got rid of his depression.”

“That doesn’t mean his depression won’t return,” Saradoc said, serious. “Frodo is fine now, but no one can know he has that inner darkness in him, at least not now. It’s best not to tell him about either. It would frighten him. Alarm him. No. Things are better as they are. At least he won’t need to worry so much nowadays. We did our job.”

“For now, Saradoc,” Esmeralda said, as her husband made his way inside. She turned her gaze to Frodo, who looked at her with innocent eyes. She sighed. “For now anyway.” Or so she hoped this moment would last as long as it could, as hard as it could. She would not lose Frodo now. Not for anything. This was for the best, for however long it seemed. She just hoped he wouldn’t get a surprise wakeup call sometime in the near future. That she hoped the most wouldn’t come to her family. No matter what road lay ahead for them all. She concluded that things were fine as they were, even as she called Frodo indoors for some hot tea.

~~~

Granny’s Diner, Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

Granny’s Diner wasn’t so packed at this time of night. Still, Frodo couldn’t help but try to explain his own situation to Snow, who was becoming unreasonable in this situation.

“Frodo, I’ll tell you the same thing I told Regina, your Darkness cannot be redeemed,” Snow stated matter-of-factly.

“Well, maybe some darkness can be redeemed,” Frodo’s Darkness said, coming out into the shadows after the Evil Queen. He told Snow, “Snow White, whatever apology is made, I’ll take it. And I hope you can forgive me for any wrongdoing I did to you.”

Snow fell silent. Frodo was surprised. Instead, he turned to Henry, “Henry, are you ready?”

“Ready to send your Darkness to a place with a fresh start. You’ve got it,” Henry said, turning to the book and jotting down on the blank page: With help from his friends, and from his other half, the Darkness was sent to a place where he could have a fresh start. There was a flash. Henry looked back, only to see Frodo’s Darkness disappear into the light. “Where did he go?”

“Home,” Frodo said, sure of himself this time. “He’s going home to where he needs to be.”

Wish Realm Mindy’s Cell, The Tower, The Wish Realm – The Present

Mindy attempted to use a screw on her ankle chain. She couldn’t break through. The screw instead scratched her ankle. She winced in pain. A few drops of warm blood landed on the cold stone floor. She couldn’t get out. What then… no way. The soldiers were letting someone pass. He had a scroll in his hand. Who… the heavy wooden cell door opened, showing Frodo in his Dark Lord outfit.

“How? You’re here. How?” Mindy asked, beside herself.

“Never mind how. I’ll explain when we get there. Since no one figures that Frodo Baggins can go dark again, this is my chance,” Frodo’s Darkness said, freeing the prisoner.

“Chance at what?” she asked, confused.

“For a fresh start,” he answered. He added, amazed, “There is a lot you need to catch up on.”

“Then I’m sure I can’t wait to hear it,” Mindy said, smiling.

Frodo’s Darkness smiled, too. “Then come on. It’s time to explore this place.”

“And find a home.” Mindy stopped herself. “I mean, not right away between you and me. But what I don’t get is how you are here. Isn’t there…”

“Like I said, there’s so much I need to tell you.”

“We have time.”

“Yes we do. Loads of time to catch up on.” Frodo’s Darkness wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

Frodo’s House, Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

Frodo entered his blue walled house, only to find Mindy, the real Mindy, on the computer he had in the living room. To his surprise, there was Harry Potter facing off against enemies using nothing but a wand. He chuckled, hardly surprised by the use of magic Harry had in the game.

“Come on. Great! Not again!” Mindy complained. She looked up to see Frodo standing behind her. “Hey Frodo. Man, the Deathly Hallows – Part One game is good, but it’s so tough to get through the levels. No offense to the game. It’s good. But there we go.” She said in fury. “Not this time! Nooo! I lost again.”

“You seem to be handling yourself well,” Frodo said, kissing her on the top of the head.

“Keeps me busy. About the one time I feel in control,” Mindy said, in the video game zone. She paused the game and looked up at him. “I was house sitting. I wondered where you’d gone. Where is everyone?”

“Off doing heroic deeds.” Frodo plopped himself on top of the blue couch. “My Darkness is in a better place now.”

“Why? What happened?” Mindy asked, concerned.

“Well,” Frodo explained as best he could, “my Darkness and I ended up in a near fight. I saved him, but I now know something. Something that I didn’t realize until now.”

“What?” she asked, pressing further. “You can tell me.”

“I’ve had darkness in me this whole time, maybe even before I ever came to Storybrooke. Before the One Ring even.” He paused. “Now I’m not sure if it’s meant to be.”

“Frodo, you’re a good hobbit. Even when there’s darkness, you’ve managed to come out of it.”

“Not always.” He admitted, promptly. “I mean, I am good at resisting temptation, but not as much as you might think.”

“Frodo, you have that strength in you. You know who you are. You’re the hobbit I came to love. You’re unique. You’re special. You’re different than most hobbits and braver than I’ve seen yet. You’ve fought the darkness before. You can do it again.”

“Mindy!” He took a breath, speaking more calmly, “Today I learned something. I’ve learned to love myself, everything about me. The good, the bad, the in-between. That’s who I am.” He admitted last, “That’s the truth. That’s me.”

Mindy sighed. “Then I’m glad you’ve figured that out.”

“Me too.” He made his way towards the stairs, but not before telling his girlfriend, softly, “Goodnight Mindy.”

“Goodnight Frodo,” Mindy said, returning to playing her video game.

The Docks, Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

Sauron looked on at the harbor. It was pitch black and already on the wooden walkway leading to the docks was covered in snow. It was getting cold, and yet he didn’t move. The boats rocked back and forth against their posts. But he wasn’t thinking about this, at least, not until he overheard Hook and Snow’s conversation.

So, Frodo’s Darkness finally saw the light. Sauron smirked. He knew it. He knew that the Darkness didn’t have a plan in mind. He betrayed him, abandoned him, like everyone else in this town. What could be missing now? The last thing he needed was more heroes invading on his plan. Oh, another gold object. He had all the ingredients now to unleash Morgoth from his prison. If only…

A puff of iridescent light moved in front of him. No. He recognized the light spectrum. It was Eru Ilúvatar.

“You cannot release Morgoth, Sauron,” Ilúvatar told him.

“Yes I can. I’ve got all the ingredients,” Sauron said, showing Ilúvatar the five gold objects he collected.

“So I see, but Morgoth is locked away, under my watch. I put him in there and…”

“And now, I’m setting him free,” Sauron said, walking away from the light. He jumped back when the light appeared in front of him, startling him. “I’m doing this either way.”

“You cannot release him,” Ilúvatar told him. “If you attempt it, you’ll only seal your fate further. Is that a risk you’re willing to take? Manwë will deal with you soon enough.”

“It’s a chance I’m willing to take,” Sauron said, vanishing into a gold portal.

The light shook His head. “Oh Sauron. If only you had learned long ago not to mess with forces you don’t understand.” The light vanished a moment later, leaving the docks in a still silence, a silence that Storybrooke had not heard in a long time.

Chapter Text

Frodo’s House, Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

Frodo paced about the room. The wood paneled floors creaked under his feet. And yet, he couldn’t bring himself to the point of understanding one thing: how did true love’s kiss between him and Mindy worked out? They had only met in six weeks. Maybe he should lay out his concerns then to her, if only his cell phone didn’t ring. It was Emma. She was calling him. He swiped the green phone button and answered it. It was amazing how quickly Storybrooke caught up on technology.

“Hullo,” Frodo answered his cell phone. “Hullo Emma. What? Hook left…” he was surprised at how fast Emma dismissed the notion that Hook would return. Then there fight. But still… “look, I’m sure Hook will come back. Usually, after a big fight I have with my friends, I seem to come back and apologize. Look, I’m sure it’s not a big deal. He’ll come back. Okay, bye.”

“That Emma?” Mindy asked, in the midst of cooking breakfast. Frodo smelled the air. It sure smelled lovely as he entered the kitchen.

“Eggs?” Frodo asked her in return.

“Well, I thought I’d cook something,” Mindy said, curtly. “Listen, about our true love’s kiss. You don’t think this is all happening a bit…”

“Too fast,” Frodo inquired.

“Well, it’s something we keep debating over, every once in a while,” Mindy said in turn. “Are we really meant for each other?”

“Mindy, what happened, happened. Of course I do,” Frodo said, kindly. “I guess, if we truly love each other, as we showed, then it’ll all work out. I mean, we did meet in the Fairy Realm, back in Camelot. If you’re still having doubts, then I wonder if we are moving too fast. We can slow it down. Perhaps start with introductions and our likes and dislikes.”

“I’d like that,” Mindy said, smiling. “Well, for starters, Mab found me and brought me to the Fairy Realm. I love to write, but I also love animals.”

“That’s good,” Frodo said, grinning. “There’s so much I need to tell you.” He added, “Why don’t you finish up and then we can talk some more.”

“We’re still boyfriend and girlfriend, aren’t we?” Mindy asked him, passing him a plate filled with scrambled eggs.

Frodo smirked. “I believe we are. It’s just to get to know one another.”

“Right,” Mindy said, taking a seat next to him with her plate full of food. Frodo smiled at her, just after he put salt and pepper on his eggs.

“Thank you for the meal,” Frodo said, grinning at her.

“You’re welcome,” she answered, also putting salt and pepper over her food. So far, things were going well for them. The same couldn’t be said for Emma, who hadn’t a clue what happened to Hook, where he was, or if he cared about her. Only time would tell what became of them. For now, they would just have to wait and see.

~~~

The Enchanted Forest – The Present

Harry Potter found himself walking about the woods. There was nothing but tall trees, bushes and dirt paths. This was the last place he wanted to be, and yet here he was with Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. They were supposed to be in the Wizardry World… no, that plan went south the moment they were thrown into this realm.

“Weren’t we supposed to be back in the Wizardry World?” Harry complained. “What happened to your sense of direction?”

“Harry!” Hermione cried, surprised.

“Look mate, we’ll find the Wizardry World,” Ron said, certain of their route.

“Then why aren’t we back.” Harry asked, serious. “Where are we?”

“The Enchanted Forest and… Kovu!” Hermione jumped in surprise. There was the dark furred lion, crossing paths with them. “What are you doing here?”

“Can’t you talk, mate? It’s just us,” Ron said, as the lion snarled at them. The lion recovered, staring at them in shock.

“Harry,” Kovu said, recognizing him. “I think I know you.”

“Kovu,” Harry said, recognizing him as well.

“Do you two know each other?” Ron asked, confused.

“Long story.” Harry said, turning to Kovu. “So, what happened? I thought you were in the Pridelands.”

“It’s Rider. He cast a spell. It caused both my world and yours to disappear,” Kovu said, desperate. “I need your help to get both world’s back.”

“Come on,” Hermione said, taking the lead through the forest. Harry, Ron and Kovu followed, unsure just what they would encounter next.

~~~

The Academy, The Land of Untold Stories – The Past

The Academy had many hallways with intricate pillars and long, red carpeted floors. But it was the study that made Harry think for a moment that maybe his best friend, Hermione Granger, would enjoy reading any of these books. The dark oak bookcases were usually cleaned once a day. But it was here that he was also reminded of the library at Hogwarts, only this study had beige, tiled floors and a long dark oak table, complete with chairs.

Harry sighed. At least Anakin Skywalker was enjoying the room. But was that a good thing?

“Anakin, do you really want all these books? Shouldn’t we let Hermione come here?” Harry said, admitting freely. “Where is she anyway?”

“Out for the day,” Anakin told him. “But no need to panic. We… ah. There’s the lion we sent for. He’s here for a day, and then he returns to his world.”

“Who is he?” Harry asked, hesitant towards the dark furred lion.

“My name is Kovu,” Kovu said, announcing himself. “I have a few questions.” He moved towards a cat bed and sat down. “Scar has returned. My kingdom is in danger. I need to know who’ll come to save us.”

“You know I can’t look into the future too much. It’s uncertain,” Anakin said, shooing away the thought.

“But please. Isn’t there something we can use to see what Scar is up to?” Kovu asked, alarmed.

“There is one way. It’s a mirror, but it will let you see where Scar is,” Anakin told him, searching through his holobook. “Yes. Here it is. You’ll find it at the Cave of Wonders. But it’s a dangerous journey.”

“Then where is that cave?” Kovu asked, confused.

“Well, I don’t need to let you see the future to know where it is.” Anakin paused. Should he give away more information. He confessed, “All right. You’ll find it in Agrabah. But where the city is and how you’ll find the Cave of Wonders, you’ll have to do that on your own.”

“Thank you for your help. Now I know one way to defeat Scar,” Kovu said, darting out of the room. Harry turned to Anakin, shocked by the reaction.

“Was that a Jedi trick?” Harry asked, confused.

“I can assure you that was plain logic,” Anakin said, standing up and putting the holobook away on the shelf. “Now for another book to read.” He moved another holobook off the shelf, ready to read that one, too. “Yes, this one should be very interesting. Very interesting.”

~~~

The Enchanted Forest – The Present

“Would someone tell me who Rider is?” Hermione asked Kovu. They had just passed a large grey boulder about half the size it normally is. “Someone.”

“He’s a wizard, taught by Alatar and Pallando or so he says,” Kovu said, leading the way.

“Whose Alatar and Pallando?” Ron asked, confused.

“The Lord of the Rings,” Hermione answered, curtly.

“I didn’t know they were a lord of anything,” Ron gabbed, curious.

“Oh Ron. Alatar and Pallando are from Middle-earth. The Lord of the Rings is a book trilogy, first written by…”

“Shh!” Kovu stopped them. They were right in front of a large cave, complete with a few small green bushes. Already, there was snow covering the ground. He sniffed the air. “Winter’s coming.”

“Game of Thrones,” Hermione answered. “Please tell me we didn’t enter that book series.”

“No. Winter is coming. Which means we don’t have long before the snow starts pelting the ground,” Kovu answered, serious. “But come on. We should be close now. We can find the spell that caused this mess, fix it and be done… whoa!” He took a few steps back. There was Rider, dressed in tan robes and looking quite proud of his work. “You!” He growled.

“Whoa whoa!” Rider raised a hand. “Easy there, lion.”

“It’s Kovu,” Kovu protested.

“Still, you don’t want to go in there. There’s another Grendel inside,” Rider said, walking around the group. “So, you’ve come to break my curse. Well, you’ve come to the wrong man.” He tossed to Ron and Hermione two rings with diamonds in the center. “That will bring them back. All you need to do is summon them and you’ll revert to the lands where you first came from.”

“That’s it?” Hermione asked, amazed.

“You aren’t going to give us any instruction, are you?” Ron asked, confused.

“True love’s kiss. Everyone knows that’s how you break curses. Good luck,” Rider said, heading towards the wintry dirt path.

“What about our deal? You said you were going to find home in the Pridelands, Rider,” Kovu added, unsure where the wizard was heading.

“I did, but maybe being a wandering wizard is the better solution. I’ll see you later,” Rider waved to them, before wandering off and whistling “High Ho! High Ho! It’s Off to Work We Go!”

Kovu looked on, wondering if there would come a time when he would be happy again. However, he needed to look at Harry, Ron and Hermione one more time to see a bright light and his world change. There was the Pridelands, the cold night air and the huge rock with the promontory. He sighed. He was home again and greeted by Kiara, who he kissed tenderly. Their affection towards each other worked better than he thought. By the time he released her, the rippled rainbow light gave way, sending all the animals back into the Pridelands. He smiled. For once, he was happy to be home again. Nothing more needed to be done now, except to relax and have a good time, which was sure he would do once more.

~~~

The Academy, The Land of Untold Stories – The Past

Harry rushed towards the Academy’s stone stairs, just outside the entrance hall. There was Kovu, taking off. Maybe if he was lucky, he could spot him.

“Kovu! Kovu!” Harry cried, catching up to the dark furred lion.

“Harry. Harry Potter. Isn’t that right?” Kovu asked, seconds before admitting in a whisper. “I hear you’re famous.”

“Thanks.” Harry said, agreeing without thinking. “Will we meet again?”

“I’m sure we will,” Kovu said, grinning at him last before charging down the stairs, his path set but unbeknownst to him that he would meet a flaming red haired young woman, who would help him on his quest to defeat Scar once again. He would just have to wait and see what happened next.

~~~

Diagon Alley, London, England, Wizardry World – The Present

Harry spun around a few times. He was back in the alley. There were the witches and wizards in their brightly colored robes and hats, buying school supplies from the many shops lining up on either side of the cobbled road. At the end was the white tall building known as Gringotts, the wizard’s bank where the goblins worked and counted the wizardry money. And there was Hermione and Ron, staring at the two rings, but also embracing each other and Harry as well.

“We’re back,” Ron said, grateful.

“Maybe we should look around for a change,” Hermione said, biding her time and holding Ron’s hand.

“Let’s get ice cream first,” Harry said, directing them to the ice cream parlor. After all the mess they went through, a little ice cream didn’t hurt them one bit. It was his treat and he would enjoy this moment no matter what occurred next.

“You’re filthy,” the manager told the trio. They laughed. Harry sighed in delight. It was good to be back home again. Yes, it was. He just hoped that Frodo and the others were safe and sound, back in Storybrooke, too.

Frodo’s House, Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

It was dusk in the town. Frodo stared out the window, thinking about all that had transpired. First the Dark Curse that ripped him from his home world and caused him to be someone he wasn’t. Then everything else that happened afterwards and his journey through it all. He had seen so much, even became a Dark Lord. But now… now he just wanted a quiet life. He looked back at Mindy. Maybe he could do something worthwhile. He approached her in the living room, where she read a book with a blue hardbound cover. His hand extended her way.

“Care to dance?” Frodo asked her, curious.

Mindy nodded. “Sure.” She took his hand, as he led her out into an open part of the room. “We have no music.”

“We make our own,” he answered, twirling her around once before waltzing with her. If only the moment would have lasted longer. It just had to be interrupted.

“Enjoying the mood for this evening,” Gideon’s voice broke through, breaking the quiet moment. “It’s a shame that the Saviors happen to be two blocks away from each other. It works wonderfully to my plan.”

“What did you do?” Frodo hissed at him.

“Now, now. Ease up, hobbit,” Gideon told him. “You see, I’ve separated Hook from Emma and now I have one of her tears. And unless you don’t cooperate, worse things will happen to your friends and your true love.”

“I don’t know what’s going on,” Mindy said, quietly taking a seat on the couch.

“Good girl,” Gideon said, grinning her way.

Frodo glared at him, while doing his best to protect his girlfriend. “Whatever you want, leave my friends out of this mess, Gideon. You tried to kill me and Emma.”

“Well, now I need your help.” Gideon said, his voice firm but calm, “I want you and Emma to kill the Black Fairy.”

“And what if I don’t help you?” Frodo asked in turn.

“Then I can assure you, much worse will occur,” he said, reassuring his original statement. “Now, are you going to help me or not?” Frodo stared in confusion, his thoughts pressing. Did he have a choice? It seemed he didn’t. But then, he hoped there was a way to get out of this mess and to get even. All he needed was a good plan, wherever that moment would come.

Chapter Text

Brandy Hall, Buckland, Bree-land, Middle-earth – The Past

Pippin Took was nine years old when his little misadventure began. Only he found himself trapped under obligation and under his cousin Merry Brandybuck’s hard gazes. Surely they needed to think of something exciting to do. Brandy Hall was a bit loud, and yet all the furniture and cushioned chairs in Merry’s bedroom didn’t stifle his need to travel someplace.

“Merry, let’s go somewhere,” Pippin said, jumping up and down. “I want to do something.”

“You’re nine years old. What more could we do today?” Merry said, relaxing in his cushioned chair. “We’ve already annoyed the gardener next door, ransacked through piles of salted mud, and now you want to do something else.” He rested for a moment to think. “All right, say we go someplace. Where would you want to go?”

“Scary,” Pippin answered nonchalantly.

“The quarry.” Merry said, shaking his head. “That place is filled with rats, snakes, spiders. Huge ones!” He stretched out his hands as an example. “Scary’s a dangerous place for a young lad.”

“What’s it to hurt?” Pippin asked, curious.

Merry raised an eyebrow. “Are you sure you want to go to Scary? My best intentions say to stay here and not cause mischief.”

“That doesn’t sound like you,” Pippin addressed the matter upfront.

“All right, we’ll go to Scary. Happy now?” Merry asked, between seriousness and joking.

“Yes,” Pippin said, smiling.

“Then get your things packed. I’ll help you. We’re going to Scary,” Merry said, helping Pippin out with his luggage.

~~~

Frodo’s House, Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

Frodo could hardly contain himself much longer. Gideon inside his house. Surely, the robed man knew better than this, especially if he had something to offer, but Frodo wasn’t interested in what he had to offer him, let alone make a deal.

“Tell me exactly what you are doing here,” Frodo said, serious. “You come into my house and expect to make a deal. Then what? You’ll kill me? Is that your plan?”

“I need your help to defeat the Black Fairy. And I will not take ‘no’ for an answer,” Gideon said, showing off his bloody lip. “See this? Your friend Emma did this to me.”

“You deserved it,” Frodo said, plainly.

Gideon chuckled. “You two really are so alike. Your thieves, for starters. But you’re also saviors, except you didn’t break the curse, did you? It seems to me your value is less of an interest to me. But still, I’ll give you a choice. Find me at the clock tower when you’ve made your decision to help me. If not, I’ll understand. This isn’t your world any more than it is mine. The choice is yours, but I won’t wait for too long.” He vanished in a poof of red smoke. Frodo stood where he was, unconvinced by what had happened.

“Frodo,” Mindy said, breaking his concentration, “don’t do it. I have this bad feeling he’ll do something that might… trigger something in you. Please don’t.”

Frodo faced her. “He won’t leave me alone. I need to do this.”

“You’ll get yourself killed,” Mindy said, concerned.

“I’ll come back. I promise. Nothing will happen,” Frodo said, kissing her forehead. He just hoped he was right.

The Shed, Merry’s House, Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

It was daylight. Pippin/Edric, now grown up, entered Merry/Donovan’s shed. Besides the wooden beams and the rustics that made the shed what it was, he still couldn’t get enough of the Rohan tapestries that needed repairing, as well as the horse figures that decorated the place. It was true. Merry had a fascination for horses and maps, which also appeared in the shed. And there was Merry/Donovan, working on writing in the Once Upon a Time book for Middle-earthians, such as themselves.

“Merry,” Pippin said, getting Merry’s attention briefly. “Still working on that book.”

“Ehh!” Merry grunted, his pen falling out of his hands and onto the page. He felt his hand. There was a runic symbol that looked like the pie math sign. It stung him.

“Merry, what is that?” Pippin asked, concerned.

“I don’t – ah!” He winced in pain, feeling his right hand. He paused. There was something that needed to be done. “I don’t have a choice.” He looked up at his cousin. “We need her.”

“Her? Who her? Which her?” Pippin asked, confused.

“Come on.” Merry grabbed his jacket. “We’re visiting the hospital.”

“Okay,” Pippin was astonished. “Why are we going there?”

“You’ll see,” Merry said, escorting Pippin outdoors, before closing the shed behind them.

The Clock Tower, Storybrooke’s Public Library, Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

Frodo climbed up the familiar black metallic, winding staircase to the top of the clock tower. There it was. The clock with its glass window repaired. And there was Emma and Gideon talking over the possibility of uniting to stop the Black Fairy. He made it just in time.

“I’ll do it,” Frodo said, announcing his presence.

“You’ll do what exactly?” Gideon asked, confused.

“He’s just being modest,” Emma said, approaching the hobbit. “Frodo, I’ve got this. You don’t need to get involved.”

“And be useless again,” Frodo said, understanding.

“No. It’s just I saved the town. The town is under my protection. I’m the savior,” Emma explained.

“Emma, it’s been this way for a while now. You get all the action. What do I get?” Frodo asked, curious. He moved towards Gideon, while speaking to Emma. “But you don’t need to protect me now.” He turned to Gideon, “I’m going to help you stop the Black Fairy.”

“Good, because this task requires both of you,” Gideon spoke up, reassuring them.

“What happened to your plan about going it alone, Frodo?” Emma asked him, curious and confused.

Frodo faced her, unsure what to make of the situation. “I don’t… know. I’m…”

“Well,” Gideon stood up. “I suggest we get moving. We’re wasting time standing here.”

~~~

The Quarry, Scary, the Shire, Middle-earth – The Past

Pippin awoke in a daze. The cart had come to a halt. Merry helped him down from the driver’s seat. They were here in the village of Scary. It was a very small village resting right next to the huge stone quarry. This was awesome. Now he needed to find something to… hey! Look a spider. He just… no. The spider was charging towards him, ready to attack. It nearly had him.

“No! Don’t get me! Don’t get me!” Pippin shouted, helpless.

“Pippin!” Merry cried, pulling his younger cousin back.

Pippin gulped the second after the hobbits tore the spider down. It was dead in seconds, but it was the largest spider he’d ever seen. He had to find more. And so he wiggled his way out of Merry’s grasp, heading towards the quarry.

“Pippin, where are you going?” Merry asked him, concerned.

“I have to find more spiders,” Pippin said, eager to keep going.

“Pippin, you just saw one get killed,” Merry told him, firmly.

“Yeah, that’s why I need to—”

“Pippin, stop!” Merry tracked him down, embracing him, “Pippin, do you want to go on a real adventure? I can assure you, there are giant spiders out there, like the one we saw. But it can wait until you’re older, don’t you think?”

Pippin thought it over. After all the hassle of getting to Scary, just for this adventure. He had it. It was in his grasp. Why wasn’t anyone believing him? In the end, even he had to admit Merry was in the right.

“Come on. Let’s go home,” Merry said, dragging his saddened cousin back onto the cart. It was a good stopping point, but even their road would now lead them back home again. He just hoped that Pippin was in a better mood when they spotted a few wild animals on the loose through the Greenfields.

~~~

Storybrooke’s Hospital, Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

Merry/Donovan made his way down to the basement, with Pippin/Edric following behind him. There were beige walls, but the lighting gave way to a greenish glow. Here they were about to do something drastic. If only Pippin knew what that meant.

“Merry, who exactly are we getting out of here?” Pippin asked, curtly.

“We’re not getting them out. We’re going to ask her some questions,” Merry said, stopping in front of one of the cells.

“Um… who exactly?” Pippin asked, confused.

“You’ll see,” Merry said, unlocking the cell door, only to come face to face with the middle-aged woman, wearing an emerald green dress. The woman smiled at him, a pen in her hands. Merry knew who it was now. “Evalyn. I need your help. Can you read this?” He handed to her his notebook, filled with the runic writing.

“Why would you want my help?” Evalyn asked, curtly. “You’re the one who helped put me into this cell. Do you know what it’s like, not being able to leave this cell? And you Halflings always needing to know everything.”

“What do you want?” Pippin asked her.

“We’ll help free you, if you can tell us what this runic writing means,” Merry said to her.

“What?” Pippin was confused.

Evalyn smiled. “Excellent. A piece of good news today.” She looked over the writing. “It’s obvious, isn’t it? This runic scripture means your author’s powers are growing stronger. They’re taking over. Soon, there won’t be anything left of you.”

Merry lunged towards her, only to be backed away by Pippin, who grabbed hold of him. He wasn’t about to let his friend go power hungry on him.

“What else do you want? Name it,” Pippin asked Evalyn.

“I get a getaway car and tickets to see ‘Hamilton’,” Evalyn said, forefront. “It’s a new play and I’ve been meaning to see it. I’m sure Isaac has asked for the same thing. We are cell mates, not in the same cell but still…”

“Deal. Come on,” Pippin said, releasing Merry and gesturing towards the door.

“Finally,” Evalyn said, heading outside the cell. “Let’s get to work.”

Lakeside Mansion, Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

In spite of finding himself inside the Lakeside Mansion, watching Emma and Gideon perform the potion, the whole time, Frodo couldn’t help but feel a little alienated. How was he supposed to be the savior of Storybrooke and the curse if… no. He wasn’t responsible for breaking the dark curse or all the curses that followed. He was only the savior of Middle-earth, but even then he was hardly the one who stopped Sauron in the end. That was Gollum’s doing and he ended up dead. But nothing happened after he was gone except for Sauron’s end. Sure, maybe in this universe, there was a rule for Saviors. Maybe it was different depending on the universe…

“What is that?” Emma gasped, dragging Frodo with her.

Frodo didn’t have to think twice. It was a spider. A giant spider. Why did he recollect Shelob… oh no. He could see flashes of the spider in her lair, being stung… no. He couldn’t think of this now. He… the spider kicked him, knocking him out for a good ten seconds. Just in time to see Gideon disappear and Emma caught in a cocoon. The flashes returned. Being trapped in a cocoon, the venom… it was all happening so quickly. He could barely move. But there was Mr. Gold, defeating the spider and saving Emma. And wait… was he saving him, too?

“Frodo, are you all right?” Mr. Gold asked, helping him up.

“Yeah,” Frodo said, standing up. “Just had an episode with my own spider, the spider I fought last time. Shelob.”

“You had PTSD,” Emma asked, concerned.

“It’s what happens after a war,” Frodo said, serious. “I didn’t think it would happen again. But it did.” He asked the two. “So, what’s next?”

“I think we need to talk about Gideon. How he betrayed us,” Emma said, even though Mr. Gold was unconvinced. Frodo knew better, especially after feeling sharp pains in his chest. He hoped that spider wouldn’t return again, but who knew at this point. This whole time, he had to ask what his role was in Storybrooke. He wondered that much all the same.

~~~

Brandy Hall, Buckland, Bree-land, Middle-earth – The Past

Pippin, nine years old, slept peacefully in Merry’s room, beside his older cousin. It had been quite the little adventure, even though he was almost killed by that spider. Maybe he would have a better day. But then, the quilted cover, showing off bears and insects next to its brown backdrop, reminded Pippin that were still dangers ahead. Merry set his book down, filled with pages on ships and how to build them, before facing his younger cousin.

“Pippin, let’s go,” Merry said, standing up.

“Where are we going?” Pippin asked, confused.

“We’re going to visit Farmer Maggot. Give him a surprise he won’t forget.” Merry said with open arms. “Come on, Pippin. You’re looking for an adventure, right?”

“Right,” Pippin said, squirming to reach his cousin, who scooped him up and dragged him along outside Brandy Hall. It was good being cousins and Pippin wouldn’t forget this next adventure anytime soon. No matter what.

~~~

Lakeside Mansion, Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

The room with its dark oak beams, wooden balcony and rooms with glass windows were covered in webs. Even the walls were covered. It was amazing Frodo managed to still be in one piece, and was grateful to see Sam/Curtis present as well. And yet, the ability to trust Gold again seemed unlikely, especially after he sent Emma and Snow away.

“Gold, I don’t know what you see in Gideon,” Frodo warned him. “If anyone was so fortunate to see, they would have realized he was out to get Emma. I’m just a liability.”

“And yet, here you stand with a bruise on your chest and your quick wits.” Gold said, explaining afterwards, “I didn’t just come here to save Miss Swan, but also you too. And I do hope to change Gideon into a good boy, keep him in the light. So that brings me to ask you, Mr. Baggins, how much use are you to those heroes? You clearly have your own quests to handle. Are you a savior of your home world? A savior to our own? Ask yourself that before you say anything else.”

“Mr. Frodo is a savior,” Sam warned Mr. Gold. “He’s been doing all the right things. He…”

“No Sam,” Frodo said, realization striking him. “He’s right.”

“How can he be right?” Sam asked, concerned.

Frodo faced him, his expression determined but knowing, “Because I’m a hero. As far as savior goes, I didn’t save Middle-earth, not on my own. The One Ring wasn’t destroyed by my hand. That was Gollum. But our world stayed the same.”

“So he died a hero,” Mr. Gold said. “But in a way, Mr. Baggins, you are a savior. Whether you like it or not. You took in part in freeing Middle-earth and that makes you a hero.”

“A hero only,” Frodo said.

“We’ll see,” Mr. Gold said, curtly. “But I think in all respects, you are one, Frodo. You are a savior. Why else would you have those visions, and your trembling hand. The prophecy may not have come true today, but in time we’ll see about it.”

“Come on, Mr. Frodo,” Sam said, dragging Frodo out the door. It made no sense. How was he the savior? He didn’t save Emma.

Frodo started, “Sam, I’m not…”

“Mr. Frodo, you are one. You’re a savior,” Sam told him. “You may not see it, but it’s who you are. You took part on the quest in more ways than even I can count. So maybe Mr. Gold is right about you. Maybe you are a savior. You did more than me.”

“Sam, you’re a hero. You’ve helped me out,” Frodo admitted, kindly.

“Thank you, Mr. Frodo, but only you turned the events around in bringing Gollum to Mount Doom,” Sam said, admitting the truth.

Frodo sighed. Maybe he was the instigator, but did that make him the savior of his own story? He wasn’t the only hero changing Middle-earth during the events of the War of the Ring. But to call himself a savior was another matter. Hopefully, he would find out soon what that all meant. To be the savior. To be a hero. To get his role straightened out. And then to find out just what Gideon wanted in Storybrooke in the first place.

Clock Tower, Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

Gideon looked around. Had his plan failed him? Hadn’t the Black Fairy come? He was about to give up until a voice answered him. It was a pale woman with dark hair and wearing a black dress. It was the Black Fairy, who congratulated him on bringing her to Storybrooke and that their work had only just begun.

Woodland Road, Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

It was dusk and already the vans were ready to go. Evalyn watched Isaac as he drove off in the van. Now she had the black Ford Mercedes, ready for her use. Now all she needed to do was say goodbye to Merry and Pippin, even as Merry held onto the real Middle-earth edition of Once Upon A Time.

“Nice car,” Evalyn told them, concerned, “Are you sure I couldn’t drive a Honda?”

“It’s the best we have,” Merry said, unsurprised. He checked the book. No. There was one more blank page, but only one more. “No. What does this mean?”

“You mean you don’t know,” Evalyn said, smiling, “It’s the final chapter, in which Frodo faces off against his biggest battle yet, alongside the Savior. I can’t imagine it will be a pretty story, but let me tell you one thing: you don’t want to be around when that happens. Goodbye.” She said, driving off in the card. The license plate had letters and numbers that said: JRRT 1973.

Chapter Text

Merry’s House, Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

The page was there in the notebook, written in ink and in scribbled runic scripture. The table’s oak surface had been recently polished, but then it was Merry/Donovan’s dining room. Still, he was relieved to see Frodo, Sam, Mindy, Anakin and Luke present, as well as Pippin, of course. He needed their help with this language.

“What do you think it is?” Merry asked his cousin.

“That looks like runes that Gandalf may have written,” Frodo answered, staring at the runic scripture once more.

“It tells of the final battle, that you and Emma will have to face,” Pippin explained, serious. “Now, we don’t know what that means or who will be present during that time…”

“I do,” Anakin announced. “But Frodo, care to interpret?”

“Sam, Merry and Pippin were present. So was David, Snow, Hook and Henry,” Frodo said, thinking hard.

“And what about me, or Anakin and Luke?” Mindy asked him, concerned.

“I didn’t see you in the vision,” Frodo said, facing her. “The last time I found true love was with Elsa. And then you came into the picture, and now I fear, what may happen is…”

“I’m not there with you,” Mindy said, understanding.

“Well, maybe we should take this…” Merry was cut off. Frodo’s hand trembled violently as he gave the notebook back to him. “Your tremors are back.”

Frodo held onto his right hand. “I know.” He said last, “Come on. Let’s try to find a way to get Mindy home.”

“This world is my home,” Mindy said, confused.

“You know what I mean,” Frodo said, serious.

“You mean back to my old life,” Mindy said, concerned. “Look, I’m sure this is important to you, but I can’t just abandon you like this.”

“One day, you will understand,” Anakin said behind her. “I think I know what he means. And I think it’s time that Luke and I set up a three-way portal.”

“What is that?” Luke asked, confused.

“Oh, you don’t know?” Anakin said, smirking. “You’ve been to the archives a dozen times in the Land of Untold Stories. It’s basically a portal that opens three doors and the way back to our old lives. We’ll start with Mindy first, since Luke and my portals will be harder to open. She’s the easiest because she lives in this world.”

“Then do it quickly.” Frodo said, heavily. “I fear the Black Fairy may already know of our plan.”

~~~

Storybrooke, Maine – The Past, The Time of the Dark Curse

Asher Beutel’s eyelids shot open. He was still under the covers of his soft, lilac smelling mattress. He eased over to a mirror, revealing his striking blue eyes, fair elvish features and short, cropped brown hair that was messed up from hours of sleep. His blue night clothes served him well, at least for that morning.

“Another day and… oh!” Asher picked up a small red flower. The smell was so good. But how did it get into one of his plants. There was a strange pink dust entering his nostrils… no. He remembered. He was Frodo Baggins. And Gold… Rumplestiltskin. Oh, he would pay for stealing his strong box. He changed into his brown pants, white socks, leather boots, blue dress shirt, suspenders and his favorite leather jacket, before taking the golden keys and leaving his apartment.

It was time that Rumplestiltskin paid for the strong box and what was inside its contents.

~~~

Frodo’s House, Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

Frodo managed to unlock the front door to his house when Anakin barged inside. The gentle-hobbit followed him without complaint, but there was still room to complain.

“Would you mind telling me the next time you barge in somewhere?” Frodo asked, a little tense but also jokingly. “Anakin, it’s getting old.”

“I don’t mind,” Anakin said, searching the blue painted walls and blue cushioned furniture for something. “Just as long as I’m getting what I need. And right now, I need to find a flower. A flower the pixies use. It’s small and red, but it’s unique.” He looked around again. “I sense it’s in this house somewhere, but I’ll let you find it for me.”

“Right,” Frodo said, heading upstairs, just as Sam, Merry, Pippin, Luke and Mindy entered the house behind him and Anakin. At last, he came to the master bedroom. His bedroom with its dark oak wood floor, rugs depicting the Shire and Barad-dur, and a manner of vases with green plants inside. But it was one pot on the windowsill that caught his attention.

There it was. The same red flower that Anakin sought after. How was this too easy? How did it grow here? But then, what did it mean? He spun around, right in front of Gideon.

“You,” Frodo said, picking up the silver dagger from his bedside table.

“Relax,” Gideon said. “I don’t have much time. Use your time well. That is all.” He vanished in a poof of red smoke, leaving Frodo stunned. But that wasn’t the only thing that happened. Frodo dropped the flower on the floor. It vanished into dust. No. He had the flower. How…

“Frodo, get down here!” Luke called, alarming the gentle-hobbit. Frodo darted down the stairs, only to see the floor covered in the same red flowers. How?

“The flower I had was destroyed.” Frodo explained. “Turned to dust.”

“That’s all right,” Anakin said, levitating the flowers. “These will do fine.”

“They came up out of the blue,” Luke said to the gentle-hobbit.

“These have enough power to bring us home,” Anakin said, moving his hands to form the red flowers into petals, leaving them into a giant mortar and then into three vials, with pink glowing liquid inside. “Come on.” He turned to Luke and Mindy, telling them, “It’s time we head home.”

~~~

Storybrooke, Maine – The Past, The Time of the Dark Curse

Asher/Frodo barged into Mr. Gold’s pawnshop, hardly noticing the display of various objects inside the glass cases. The paneled wood floorboards creaked under the weight of his boots, but only by so little. And there was Mr. Gold – eh, Rumplestiltskin with his mullet hair and donned in a brown suit.

“Why, Mr. Beutel, what brings you here?” Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin asked, curious. “I’m surprised to find you so far away from the school. Can I help you today?”

“You can help me find that strongbox you took from me, back at Regina’s castle? Or don’t you recall that, Rumplestiltskin?” Frodo/Asher asked him, serious.

“You know about the strong box,” Rumplestiltskin was surprised.

“Yeah, I do know about that. And what you took from me,” Frodo/Asher told him. “So, where is it? Where is the chest? The chest that you took Arwen’s necklace and put it in there. That Evenstar belongs to me. It was a gift from her.”

“Wow. So you’re awake,” Rumplestiltskin/Mr. Gold was stunned.

Frodo/Asher nodded several times. “Yes, and I would like it back, please?”

“Why don’t you wait for me in the woods. Down the woodland road. I’ll hand you something worthwhile,” Rumplestiltskin said, smiling.

“You’re not going to make a deal with me?” Frodo/Asher asked, confused.

“Call this one a freebie,” Rumplestiltskin/Mr. Gold said, before looking through his cards.

“Right. I’ll meet you there then,” Frodo/Asher said, leaving the pawnshop with very little information than what he already knew. Just what was Rumplestiltskin’s plan anyway? Maybe he would find out better once he reached the woods. That sounded about right.

~~~

Frodo’s House, Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

“Ready?” Anakin asked Luke and Mindy, uncorking the vial.

“Wait,” Mindy said, advancing towards Frodo. “I know Mab said I had a purpose here. I still don’t know what that is. Everyone’s just been treating me like I’m not important and now—” She was taken aback by Frodo, who planted a kiss on her lips. Those soft lips touching her own. How she wished this moment could last… there were images flashing through her head. There was Frodo and there were Emma’s family and Frodo’s family. She saw herself, walking away, through a portal. No. She released him, moving a few steps back. “I have to do this now. I don’t have a choice.”

“You could stay,” Frodo said, realizing that wasn’t going to happen.

Mindy smiled at him, a single tear about ready to leave her eyelid. “We’ll be okay, I hope.”

“This is the second time I’ve had to walk away,” Frodo said, pausing for a second, “to walk away from my heart’s desire. Is that wrong?”

“I don’t know. I just hope you can defeat the Black Fairy without me,” Mindy said, uncorking her vial and throwing the pixie dust in the air. The dust worked, forming a door with gold frames. She looked back at Frodo, embraced him tightly for a couple of seconds, and then darting through the door before more tears were shed.

A lump formed in Frodo’s heart and throat. It didn’t feel right. Now he knew how Elsa felt when he dumped her. Why then was this time any different? He looked up, only too late, for the door vanished. He watched in silence as Anakin and Luke threw their pixie dust into the air, forming the doors they needed to return to their timelines.

“Hey, don’t feel bad,” Luke said, patting Frodo’s shoulder. “At least you’ll remember her.”

“Will you be all right?” Anakin asked, getting Frodo’s attention.

“I don’t know,” Frodo said, his heart weighing him down inside his chest. “I hope she’s all right.”

“Don’t we all,” Anakin said, smiling a small smile. “Luke and I should leave. And maybe this time, the timeline will be set right.” He turned to the other hobbits, said his last farewell, even to Luke, before making his way through the middle door. Luke followed in suit, leaving through the right door.

Frodo watched as the last two doors vanished, leaving him alone with Sam, Merry and Pippin. They were alone again. Now what could he do? Other than wonder if it was really the right choice. He feared what the answer was truly like, but he feared he wouldn’t get the right answer, not even if he asked for one.

~~~

Storybrooke, Maine – The Past, The Time of the Dark Curse

Frodo/Asher cupped his hands over his mouth, breathing out and massaging them. It was very cold outside. The snow was everywhere in these woods. How long did he have to wait until Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin showed up… oh, there he was, but where was the strongbox? Something wasn’t right.

“What did you bring me? Where is it? Where’s the strongbox?” Frodo/Asher asked, alarmed. He added, viciously, “You promised me that we would find it. Now you…”

“Calm down,” Rumplestiltskin said, explaining his reasons. “You may not like it, but in time you will find that we have – what do you call it? – a mutual agreement. You’ll offer my services and I will gladly give them to you. I may not always have a way with short people, but you are different. So very different.”

“Are you threatening me?” Frodo/Asher asked, serious.

“No,” Rumplestiltskin/Mr. Gold added, “I’m only commending you and your race. You are… unique creatures. But I can assure you that one day we will find your strongbox, but you won’t be alone. Now drink this,” he held out a vial with blue liquid inside. “This will help you forget. It’s not time yet to find your strongbox. So, you’ll just have to trust me.”

Frodo/Asher took the vial. He looked up at Rumplestiltskin/Mr. Gold, only to see him drink his vial and walk away. Well, here he hoped that he would find the strongbox again, one way or another. He uncorked the vial and drank… his memories… he was Asher Beutel, but… just what was he doing out in the woods? He needed to work at the schoolhouse just now. Seriously, what was going on around here?

~~~

Mindy’s Bedroom, Our World – The Present

Mindy worked furiously at her laptop. She was either into her work or just trying to forget the pain. But she couldn’t forget the pain. She just couldn’t forget… him. He meant so much to her. She couldn’t go back, but at the same time being in Storybrooke was what she wanted to be at. To be with him. To be with… Frodo. She missed him. She wondered if he missed her. It was eating away at her.

She had to stop writing and think. A tear risked leaving her eyelid. She was depressed. Wasn’t there a better way to do this? Let’s face it. She had been in the background the whole time. Had she done it because she wasn’t a part of the conversation? What was she supposed to do? She looked up at the title for her story.

Strong Intentions

Episode 6: The Saviors

It was very well the last story she could write in the series. Maybe this was her purpose. But what happened after the story was finished? She hardly knew.

x-x-x

Anakin and Padme’s Loft, Coruscant, A Galaxy Far, Far Away – The Present

Anakin returned to the loft. He was back at the topmost apartment of the apartment complex on Coruscant. The most luxurious one around. The red carpet and the elegant furniture gave away that there had once been a queen who owned this apartment loft, but he didn’t know…

“Anakin,” said the voice belonging to a brown-haired woman, wearing an elegant dress. Anakin was reminded a little of Jasmine, Aladdin’s beau because of the light blue dress. But he knew this woman better as his wife Padme. He wouldn’t leave her. No. Instead he embraced her, breathing in her fragrance. She felt so real.

“It’s all been a dream, but it felt so real,” Anakin said, sighing.

“Anakin, tell me, where did you go?” Padme asked him, concerned.

“It’s a long story,” Anakin said, feeling unconvinced. “And yet, my quest isn’t over. Fortunately, I’ve found pixie dust. So, I can return there at any time. Back to Storybrooke. Frodo will need me soon. How soon… I don’t know.” He answered, sitting Padme to their luxurious cushioned couch, relaying to her his adventures in a world not his own.

x-x-x

Forest Moon of Endor, A Galaxy Far, Far Away – The Present

Luke looked around. It was nighttime on the forest moon of Endor, with its tall, massive trees and the wood covered bridges. There he was again with the means to change time. Would he choose the right path this time?

“The decision is up to you, Luke,” Obi-Wan told him. “Either go back and change the timeline or…”

“I’m choosing the better path this time.” Luke said, facing the Force Ghosts. “I’m staying on the right path. Let things come as they are.”

“Then let us pray and hope that nothing terrible happens to the timeline from now on.” Anakin said, convinced. “Although, I am worried my past self will travel to Storybrooke.”

“I can’t help him… you. Sorry,” Luke apologized.

“You are brave, son.” Anakin grinned. “It’s time to let things go. Live out your life to the fullest. It’s all you have, all you can do. At least you have friends and family. That will prove well for you in the future.”

“The future, right. For now, I’ll stay here until more things change in the galaxy,” Luke said, finding his way back to Leia, his long, brown haired sister wearing a tan dress.

Anakin shook his head. “So be it. Things will continue as they are.” In a way he was glad, but… how would his past self react now? That was a better question to ask, one he felt sure would find its answer yet.

x-x-x

Granny’s Diner, Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

Frodo took another swig of his shot of ale. It was his fourth drink, and already his mind felt a little dizzy. But maybe it was all right. He needed something to keep his mind off of future events. His destiny. Being the savior, in a manner of speaking. He looked up. There was Sam/Curtis, sitting down across from him at the booth.

“What do you want?” Frodo asked, saddened.

“I know how you must feel about Mindy. But she’s gone.” Sam said, doing his best to reassure him.

“It’s like what happened with Elsa all over again. And Pearl,” he said, softly, “And now Mindy. It keeps going around and around. Over and over again. I’m always alone.”

“You’re not alone. You have your friends,” Sam replied, encouraging.

“I suppose, but… nowadays, everyone’s paired off in Storybrooke.” Frodo said. He shrugged his shoulders. “Well, almost everyone.” He asked, curious, “Am I not meant to be alone? Or am I? It’s hard to say.”

“I’m sure you can find love again,” Sam said, sure of his answer.

“How can I?” Frodo asked, curtly. “It just seems that everything I do, I always end up without someone to love.” He admitted, “Well, maybe when the darkness is finally extinguished, the curse lifted, I’ll find love. Just now I realize that maybe there is hope for me. If I can find it.”

“Mr. Frodo, you will find love, if that’s what you’re askin’ for. I know it’s what I’m hopin’ you’ll have someday and be happy.” Sam added, encouraging again. “Your wounds are healed, at least.”

“Yes. I am grateful for that,” Frodo said, drinking the rest of his ale and watching Merry and Pippin throwing darts. He smiled. Maybe there was hope for him in these bleak times. He just needed to see it and hope that the final chapter of his story wouldn’t bring about more ruin to his life. That was the last thing he needed, now more than ever.

Main Street, Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

Rumplestiltskin, with short graying hair, approached the Black Fairy on the dark street. He was quite convinced his mother, the Black Fairy, would lose this fight and Gideon returned to him and his wife, Belle. So far, so good, but… he didn’t quite expect the Black Fairy’s reaction. She was seeking for a way to stop Emma from breaking the curse she created. By the end of their conversation, they were at an impasse, in which the Black Fairy warned him about testing her and Rumplestiltskin walking away, leaving her with a cloud of doubt and the need to cause further chaos to the town of Storybrooke.

Chapter Text

Palace, Land of Oz – The Year Before the Second Curse

The green vines covered with little orange pumpkins were ripe for the harvest. They were ready enough for Frodo to pick them. Then again, he much preferred his freedom, instead of doing gardener’s work… maybe it would have been better if Sam were with him. Surely, he’d know then what to do. He just didn’t expect the swirling whoosh coming up from behind him.

“How’s my little munchkin doing?” it was Zelena, the Wicked Witch. Frodo shook his head. No. He wasn’t going there.

“No.” Frodo said to himself, softly. “I won’t do it again.”

“Do what?” Zelena said, appearing right next to him and smiling. “You know, last I recall, I thought being my prisoner might be fun.”

“Fun,” Frodo looked at her then, serious. “You brought me here, took me away from my home. How else do you think I’m supposed to feel?” He said with such venom in his voice. He wasn’t one for yelling things, but this was pretty important. “And now you have me planting your seeds, that you brought from who knows where.” He looked away, calming down some, “And I’m missing Sam’s wedding. It’s coming up in a few weeks.”

“Let me guess,” Zelena said with candor, “You’d like to go attend it. I’m sorry, but until you’ve finished picking those pumpkins in my pumpkin patch, it looks like, dearie, you’re not going anywhere.”

“Yeah, well, in case you hadn’t noticed,” Frodo explained, serious, “I came back here after Regina broke the Dark Curse. I should be lucky I’m back. Just not with you.”

“Well, if that’s how you’re going to treat me, then we’re forever against each other.” Zelena added, softly, “And forever’s a long time for a Halfling who enjoys sunlight. Cheers.” She vanished in a puff of green smoke. Frodo shook his head. Just what had he gotten himself into.

~~~

Sam’s House, Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

Frodo knocked on the front door. He still couldn’t get over the new paint job. But honestly, the green shutters mixed in with the beige over splash on the panels? Well, it was a nice touch. Then again, his mind was racing. And no one was answering. Odd. He knocked on the door again, three times mind you. He was really excited. Good thing he brought over the big book on designing and redecorating a house.

The front door opened, revealing Sam/Curtis and Rosie/Samantha wrapping her arms around her husband. How touching.

“Mr. Frodo, this is, eh… a really bad time,” Sam said, wrapping an arm around Rosie.

“Good, you’re up.” Frodo charged into the house, moving straight for the dining room. “I have a few ideas for my house. It needs a brand-new touch-up. And I figure since you’re my best friend and I am yours, you could assist me.”

“Mr. Frodo, this isn’t necessary!” Sam protested. However, Frodo pulled up the paint colors.

“Now, here are some paints I was thinking of doing. Yellow, red, green, brown – no, not brown. It’d be too yucky,” Frodo said, sorting through the colors. “I like red. How about a puce? No, puce would mean purple. And Maleficent’s still out there. Regina’s a hero. Purple’s more their color. Red does look nice. Like a rose…” he paused. It hurt. Why did it hurt?

“I’ll get him some tea,” Rosie said to Sam, darting off into the kitchen. Frodo didn’t know what to say… no, he had to try again. Something to take his mind off of…

“Or maybe I should try a different color.” Frodo said, sorting through his things.

“Mr. Frodo,” Sam said, reassuring and approaching his best friend.

“And these carpets,” Frodo said, flipping his binder to the carpet samples. “There’s shag, wool, plush… fluff… fluff… fluff. I told the real estate merchant not to put fluff in there! Now why can’t I…”

“Mr. Frodo!” Sam spun Frodo around. Already, Frodo could see in Sam’s eyes that he wanted to help. Why then did he have these hurting feelings? “She’s gone. She’s not coming back.” He huffed. “You see, now that she’s returned home… you can find love again, meet someone new. That’s important, right?”

“The whole house reminds me of her,” Frodo said, sagging. “Sam, what am I to do? How am I supposed to live there, now that she’s…” No. He couldn’t say it, but he had to.

“Usually, with a breakup, it’s common, natural, to replace the old and bring in the new. Like what you’re doin’. This is good,” Sam said, nodding his approval.

Frodo shook his head. “Is it? I don’t…” His cell phone rang inside his brown knee-breeches pocket. He pulled it out, slid the phone button and answered. “Hullo. Emma… right, we’ll be right there.” He pressed the end button. “Emma wants us over at the sheriff’s station.” He looked up at Sam. “Apparently, something happened.”

~~~

Palace, Land of Oz – The Year Before the Second Curse

Frodo bit down on some well-done pulled chicken. It was good meat and the dining room table, decked in its tremendous amount of green flowers and flames was a bit too much for him. How did he know Zelena wasn’t trying anything on him? He had to ask her, but then why was she smiling at him?

“You know, maybe you will go to Sam’s wedding,” Zelena said with a smile. “You will, of course, be the best man. I’ve arranged it so well. Did you really think you’d get away with anything?”

“Why should I trust you? You’ll just leave me here. Not only that, but you said you’d torture me if I do anything wrong.” Frodo stood up, banging his utensils on the table. “Well, I’m done working for you. Unchain me, unshackle me and then let me go. I have nothing to lose.”

Zelena stood up and approached him. “No you don’t. Quite frankly, if given the chance, you would leave me, just like everyone else has. Well, I’ll see to it you’ll get what you want. And then I’ll get what I want.”

“How do you know that?” Frodo asked her, fearing he would know the answer.

“Because you won’t remember any of this, or the news that you’ve learned. You’ll hear it from me instead,” Zelena said, poofing some magic into Frodo’s face. Frodo shook himself. He didn’t know what to say or do. Let alone… what happened?

“What’s going on? What did you do? What don’t I remember? I remember something,” Frodo said, unsure of himself.

“It’s just a cloud of smoke. When the shackles break, you’ll remember quite well what we’ve been discussing,” Zelena said with candor. “Now, why don’t you head outside. Tomorrow, I’ll take you to the forest. Which forest… well, I’m not telling. I have something special planned for you.”

Frodo walked away without question. He felt so strange. Just what was it that he was forgetting. He didn’t know. He just hoped that Zelena knew what she was doing.

~~~

Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

Frodo was stunned to learn about Zelena using her magic on the crystals. Yes, Sam had come with him to the sheriff’s station, but had Zelena lost her mind? Then again, he wasn’t the least bit surprised. His memories were back. All of them still intact. And after what she did to him… well, could he forgive her? After all this time?

“Well, Frodo here knows a little about what Zelena’s done to him,” Regina told her family. “Surely he knows what she’s capable of.”

“And you wonder why I haven’t spoken to her much, if at all,” Frodo admitted. He explained as best he could. “When I was unshackled for the first time since the second curse broke, I’ve been ducking Zelena. I couldn’t talk to her, not after what she did. There’s just no way I can trust her. None. So why start now?”

“Why not stop blathering on for starters about how much you hate me?” Zelena asked, making Frodo jump. “That’s what everyone in Oz has done, what they’re still doing to me. I don’t have a home there anymore. But I do have a plan that may thwart the Black Fairy’s plan with this.” She pulled out a box with a heart on top of it.

“What’s that?” Regina asked, concerned.

“It’ll destroy my magic,” Zelena answered, a little shaky.

Frodo hadn’t seen that coming. And yet, could he trust the Wicked Witch of the West now? After all that she did? He didn’t know, and yet he willingly followed the group to Regina’s vault, where he witnessed, much to his surprise, Zelena use the Crimson Heart to remove her magic. A green, swirling mist of tentacles tore in the air, right into the heart. What followed afterwards startled the gentle-hobbit, for a green rippling light zipped its way out of the vault and through the town. He breathed a sigh of relief.

“Maybe you can change, Zelena,” Frodo faced the red-haired witch, grinning his approval. “Maybe you can.”

“I do hope so, now that this is done,” Zelena said, a little weakened.

“There’s one last thing we need to do,” Emma said, telling the group. “We wake up the Blue Fairy.”

“With this,” Regina said, taking the crystal that now had light inside. “Let’s go. It’s time to wake her up.”

~~~

The Enchanted Forest – The Year Before the Second Curse

Zelena poofed herself and Frodo into the forest, right next to a clean stump and a pile of firewood. The gentle-hobbit just stared. Was this really what he was expected to do? He couldn’t take it. Already, he remembered his dislike for the Wicked Witch of the West. Good. He was starting to remember.

“What are you doing?” Frodo asked her, alarmed and confused. “I’m done being your slave.”

“Oh, don’t be alarmed. It’s only until your unshackled. And let me tell you, dear, that isn’t going to happen.” Zelena said, passing an axe to the gentle-hobbit. “Start chopping. And when I get back, I’ll let you know something really important.”

“Yes ma’am,” Frodo said with unease. He didn’t like it, but if Zelena had something on her mind, besides treating him like her unwilling slave, then maybe they had a good starting point going for them. Great. Well, here he went chopping logs. He only hoped he wouldn’t get a sore back after this manual labor, but then who knew, right? Oh great. This was the last thing he wanted to do. The last thing that was on his mind was this. But… what other choice did he have? None, he took it. Oh great. He hoped Sam was doing all right. Better than him anyway.

~~~

Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

For a moment, Frodo was glad Belle invited them in Mr. Gold’s office. What he didn’t plan on was seeing Gold enter, determined to get rid of Zelena. Yes, Frodo had to admit he was just now learning to forgive her, after what she did to him and Gold. But that was beside the point.

“We need to wake up Blue,” Frodo answered, bravely.

“Why would you do that?” Gold asked, curtly.

“Why wouldn’t he?” Belle injected, firmly. “Rumple, we lost twenty-eight years with our son. That’s time we won’t have back. What we can do is help him. And now we need to wake up the Blue Fairy.”

That set Gold/Rumplestiltskin on the right track to silence. “Go right ahead.” He backed off, allowing Emma to crush the light crystal and sprinkle its dust over the Blue Fairy’s body. Frodo watched in angst. Was something supposed to happen? Weren’t they supposed to see Blue awake? He sighed in relief when Belle placed two fingers against Blue’s neck to see if she was breathing. She was.

“Now what do we do?” Frodo asked, curious.

“Now, we wait,” Gold/Rumplestiltskin said, moving away. Frodo just hoped the Black Fairy wasn’t watching them now. Then again, who knew these days, right?

The Black Fairy did know, thanks to her watching an orb. She was furious that the Blue Fairy was awake. When asked by Gideon, she simply answered that the Blue Fairy knew her darkest secrets, something she hadn’t been willing to tell her “son”. She just hoped she could start up the Final Battle before this information was brought up to everyone in Storybrooke, including to her biological son, Rumplestiltskin.

Chapter Text

Bag End, the Shire, Middle-earth – The Past

Frodo Baggins, age twenty-one, smacked the pillow several times to fluff it up. It had only been two days since his uncle, Bilbo Baggins, adopted him and already there was a growing feeling of dread. The kind of feeling… wait. Was he being watched? Did it matter? No. Surely nothing would come between him and…

BOOM!

There was the bright lightning and the thunder that followed. Honestly, the last thing he wanted was to sleep during a rainstorm. Well, maybe he would get lucky and…

“Goodnight Frodo,” Bilbo, an elderly hobbit with greying hair, addressed him at his bedroom door.

“Goodnight uncle,” Frodo said, smiling.

“You sure you’ll be all right,” Bilbo asked him, pointing at him in confusion. “You know there’s…”

“I’m not a boy,” Frodo compromised.

“No.” Bilbo sniffed loudly. “No. You’re not a boy and you’re not an adult either. In that case, sleep tight, lad. Have pleasant dreams tonight.”

More thunder rolling in. Frodo could swear he was living in a house where the roof might fall in. No. He wouldn’t let that happen. And yet, when he looked up, Bilbo had vanished. He was alone.

“Well,” Frodo said, as he tucked himself in. “Here’s hoping there are good dreams tonight. But then, I can’t be sure. But then…” his mind slipped into the darkness, nearing the tendrils of the dream world.

~~~

Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

Frodo sat inside his car, studying the map of Maine and even further the Northeastern coast of the United States. Even with his hand magic, light as it was, Sauron appeared in a few points, none of them giving him an idea of where Sauron was exactly. In anger, he slammed the map down, right next to the black leather gear shift.

“It’s hopeless,” Frodo said, out of frustration. “Where is Sauron?”

The car door on the passenger’s side opened, letting Sam/Curtis inside. “Mr. Frodo.”

“How did you know where to find me?”

“Your car is parked two blocks away. I had to see you, see how you are doing.” He added, “I’m your best friend.”

“Sam, I know that.” Frodo looked away, somber. “I just don’t know where to find Sauron. He’s been missing for weeks and…” He returned his gaze to Sam, whose own gaze was sinister. “You’re not Sam.”

“You’re right about that.” Sam morphed into Sauron, who used his dark magic to lock the car doors shut. “Now you can’t escape.” He laughed as Frodo tried the locks with his own magic. “I told you. My magic is fueled even with your own magic.”

“What do you want?” Frodo protested. “I have nothing to offer you! And even if I did, I wouldn’t give you anything.”

Sauron slapped the hobbit across the face. “No. But with the Black Fairy in town, we need an evil more powerful than her. More powerful than me and you. We need Morgoth. And I need your help unleashing him. And I know you’ll agree to my plan because you have a good heart and I need that good heart to fuel my own needs and wants. You know you’ll take me up on my offer, otherwise I’ll kill you at first glance. And you hardly have all you desire. Didn’t you, eh, lose your girlfriend recently? Or has she already slipped your mind?”

Frodo raised a fist at him, only to be stopped by Sauron’s magic.

“Like I said,” Sauron chortled, “Your magic won’t work on me. Surely, you knew that by now.”

“What’s your plan?” Frodo asked, facing him.

Sauron smiled wickedly. “Now we’re talking. Drive. The town line isn’t far from here.”

“The town line?” Frodo asked, beside himself.

“Drive!” Sauron commanded. All at once, Frodo, against his will, drove his car through the town of Storybrooke. If he had plan, he hoped he could use it against the Dark Lord. He would not let Sauron meddle with him this time or anytime soon. He just hoped the plan he was concocting would work out for the best. If not… then he was in real trouble.

~~~

Frodo’s Dream World – The Past

Frodo wandered through a forest. This forest was filled with a thin grey fog. He hardly knew where he was heading – he jumped to the gravel. There was a yellow slug bug car heading into town. Just where was he? And there before him… it was a hatch, hidden behind a grey rock. It led into a tunnel, a cave network, which he followed diligently.

A stillness reached the tunnel. It was dark, grim, with few lanterns and torches to bear the way. There was something at the end of the tunnel. It was a cage, a cell with a stone wall blocking the way forward. Should he follow through with it? No. There was an elvish man wearing iron armor. Should he be trusted?

“Come closer,” the man beckoned with an index finger. “Come here, hobbit. Yes.”

“Who are you?” Frodo asked the man, confused.

The man laughed. “My name is Sauron. And you are Frodo Baggins? Oh yes. You have come far and you will help me someday, for you see, my master is in this room, beyond this door. If you help me free him, after you’ve awoken, then we will set things right. For even the darkest heart must find the light. And Morgoth, my master, awaits us. Now, Frodo, when you wake up, you may forget this dream, but I will not forget you.” He smiled. “No one can break themselves away from my thoughts. No one.”

Frodo fell backwards. Was he going to crash to the floor? No… instead he fell into the darkness, falling, falling, until… until his legs lurched upwards, landing on the mattress. His eyes shot open. Sweat lingered on his face and chest, sending a fresh body odor right up to his nostril.

“What was that dream?” Frodo asked, beside himself with worry. “What – what happened there?” He didn’t know himself, other than it was a terrifying nightmare, one he wasn’t sure he would ever forget anytime soon.

~~~

Town Line, Outskirts of Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

“Stop!” Sauron cried, his hand sending shots of dark magic onto the brakes. Frodo lurched forward in his seat, stunned and annoyed at Sauron for the sudden movement. He patiently waited until Sauron moved his hand out of the way before parking the car, turning the keys off and stepping out of his car, right behind the Dark Lord.

“So where is it?” Frodo asked, glancing over to find a white gem lying on the ground. He quietly picked it up, stowing it inside his jacket pocket, just as Sauron glanced over at him. Had he seen the gem? Well, it was obvious now that he did. “What?”

“Nothing. Just don’t plan on using that against me, will you?” Sauron asked, cheekily. “Ah! Here we are.” He slid out of the way a grate. “This is it! This is the tunnel we dreamt about for the longest time.”

“Dream? What—” Frodo froze. Of course, the dream. The one where he awoke Morgoth. No. He would do something about it, even pull out the white gem and… now he knew what its use was about… and the look on Sauron’s face said everything.

“What are you doing?” Sauron asked, nervous. “Don’t you know what that thing does? What it’ll do to our acquaintanceship? Please, don’t do it.”

“I am not sending Morgoth back. If that’s where he is, then I’m refusing to take part in it,” Frodo hissed. He turned his gaze to the gem. “Do it. Do your magic.”

“NOOO!” Sauron screamed. It was too late. Frodo saw the white gem’s light breach into his mind. His connection with Sauron and the Ring… it was breaking. He could feel his thoughts returning to his own, Sauron no longer inside his head or even Morgoth, even though the First Dark Lord was closer than he thought. And yet, it worked. His mind was free, no longer under any mind control. Sauron was furious. “You. I’ll…”

BLAST!

Frodo waved his hand in the air. He looked up. There was Sauron, unconscious. He waved his hand at the grate, closing it and covering it up with a thick sheet of grass. He couldn’t believe he did that. His magic was free. It was his own at last… and so was his car. He stuffed the white gem inside his jacket pocket. “I’ll see you later, Sauron.” In haste, he turned on the engine and sped off, hearing in the distance Sauron’s screams of anguish and distrust.

“BAGGINS!” Sauron belted out, frustrated and annoyed. “I will get you for this one, one more time. I will get you, Frodo, make guarantees about that.”

~~~

Bag End, the Shire, Middle-earth – The Past

Frodo awoke the second time from his long sleep. It was a much better dream about a field with a hill and a bright star shining down upon him. It was a good dream, but even better when Bilbo entered his room.

“Frodo, are you all right?” Bilbo asked him.

Frodo nodded, grinning happily. “I am now.”

“Listen, Frodo, about your parents. They were… good people, good hobbits,” Bilbo said, plainly. “If there’s anything you need to talk about, just…”

“Uncle, I had a good dream,” Frodo said, calmly. He realized what his uncle wanted. “And I’m getting up.”

“Right. That’s just what I came in here to tell you,” Bilbo said, heading outside Frodo’s bedroom and into the hallway. “I had planned to make breakfast myself, but since you’re here, you can help out.”

“I’d be delighted, uncle,” Frodo said, charging down the hallway.

“You’re a good lad, Frodo,” Bilbo said, watching his nephew rush into the bathroom. “Don’t you forget it.” He returned his attention to the kitchen. “Now, onto breakfast. Good gracious. Never enough work to do that needs doing. No sir.” He said last, when he at last arrived in his lovely kitchen, “Not today. Not now. Not ever.” He sighed, looking up at the window. “It’s going to be a good day today. I just know it will.”

~~~

Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

Night had reached the town of Storybrooke. Frodo rushed up the steps of Emma’s house, knocked and ran inside, greeting Hook and Emma on the spot. But he came in just after they kissed? And seeing Henry there as well?

“Frodo, what are you doing here?” Emma asked, confused. “At this hour?”

“You haven’t already selected the best man, have you?” Frodo asked her.

“I’m the best man,” Henry announced, confused.

“Oh.” Frodo said, surprised. “Well, then there’s nothing for me to do.”

“Wait, lad,” Hook stopped him. “Usually, with a wedding, there’s more than one best friend attending the occasion. What I’m trying to say is will you take part in tomorrow’s event, alongside Henry?”

“Of course,” Emma agreed, beside herself. She told Frodo, “But Frodo, we started out as strangers. We’ve become more than that. You’ve become a close friend of the family. Would you consider it?”

Frodo paused. What could he do in this situation? “Sure Emma. It’s been a long journey for all of us. Maybe it’ll be good for me, too.”

“Good on you, lad,” Hook said, patting his shoulder. “Now then, we have a wedding to get ready for and I need to be on my ship.” He turned to Emma, “I’ll see you later, love.” He gave her a small peck, heading out the door.”

“What was that about?” Frodo asked, facing Emma in confusion.

“He’s a bit old fashioned,” Emma said with a smile.

Frodo was confused. “So am I.” He told her. “I’ll see you tomorrow.” He started towards the door, but Emma blocked his path.

"Frodo, there's something else. Blue, she's awake and she's back with the fairies. Turns out Gold is the Savior and he stopped the Black Fairy. I know it's a lot to take in, but hopefully it works out for the better," Emma said with a smile.

Frodo paused. "Emma, the last thing we know about Gold is whether we can trust him. I would have my doubts, but if he did as promised, as he said he would, then we won't have any more issues then."

"That's what I hope. I'll see you tomorrow," Emma said, calmly.

"Right. I'll see you tomorrow." He repeated, leaving the Swan house behind. He could admit the whole thing was a near blunder, in his mind. How could he let this happen? But then, Sauron and Morgoth couldn’t harm him now. Now, he had a mission and that was to do whatever it took to not screw up tomorrow. For tomorrow was Emma and Hook’s wedding day. And he was not about to miss it, not for a minute.

Sauron stared at Main Street. He couldn’t believe it. His plan failed. Morgoth was still imprisoned. How could he do anything now? Eru Ilúvatar would kill him anyway. Well, at least things couldn’t get any worse?

“Hullo Sauron,” said a dark, slithery voice behind him.

Sauron knew that voice. Out of reluctance, he turned around, only to be met by iron armor and an iron spiked helmet, cloaked in a dark spirit. But just looking at this dark spirit wasn’t enough. He could feel his own spirit drawn to this creature. He knew it by name alone.

“Morgoth,” Sauron said, trembling inside. “But I thought you were trapped.”

“Free me,” Morgoth’s voice echoed. “Or that Baggins will trap me again. You know where to find me.” The dark spirit and the armor vanished in a slipstream of darkness through the air, darkening each lamppost as he passed.

Sauron stared at the creature. Already, he felt a great emptiness. “What am I doing?” He wondered, confusion slipping into his mind. Eru Iluvatar was right. He was right all along. But would he see that… no. Of course not. “Frodo, you will pay for your crimes. Starting today, and for however long it takes to free Morgoth.” He spoke last, his words thumping in the air. “I will have my revenge yet. No one can stop me now. No one can.” He would see to that. That much was clear. It was time to unleash their worst enemies, worse than the Black Fairy even. “It’s time to unleash Morgoth from his lair, no matter the cost. I will see you again, Master.”

Chapter Text

Bag End, the Shire, Middle-earth – The Time Before the Dark Curse

Frodo pondered over the box in his hand. Well, not a box, more like a small chest with gold metal frames around it. He wanted to open this box. It was important. Snow White said it was. It was the last gift he received from her after leaving Snow and Prince Charming’s wedding.

“I want to do this right, but I don’t know,” Frodo said, quizzical. He had been sitting on his bed, the soft mattress light to his touch and comfortable… but that wasn’t what mattered at the moment. What mattered was the inside of the box. And so he turned the key and opened it… to find a blue star inside.

“It’s a wishing star,” said a light feminine voice. Frodo gazed up as the fairy transformed, becoming human sized and dressed in a blue gown. “I’m the Blue Fairy. Snow didn’t give that wish to you for no reason. So make your wish.” She glowed, excited to hear his wish.

Frodo nodded. Now he knew the wish. “I wish I could make the whole of Middle-earth happy, to give the happiness it needs and wants… and desires most in this life.” He watched as the blue star vanished from the chest, disappearing into the light. He spoke in turn to the Blue Fairy. “Did it work?”

“You’ll find out tomorrow. Pleasant dreams!” the Blue Fairy transformed into a blue light, disappearing from sight. Frodo wondered when he would see her again.

~~~

Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

Frodo leaned against his blue couch, holding a leather sack with a golden telescope inside. He remembered making that wish on the blue star, but… what happened afterwards he didn’t remember. All he knew was he made some wish upon a star. Where that would go… well, he didn’t know, nor what lay ahead for him… or anyone. No, he needed to resolve this, but how.

He stopped when the door opened to let Sam/Curtis through. “Hey Sam.”

“Mr. Frodo, you should be gettin’ ready for the wedding,” Sam told him.

“I know. I’m the best friend attending Emma and Hook’s wedding,” Frodo set the telescope down on the couch. “Why wouldn’t I be happy?”

“I don’t know. It just seems like these past several months have been nothin’ but one adventure to another.” Sam immediately changed the subject, “Are you sure you can’t find Elsa? The two of you were doin’ so well.”

“Sam, if you’re looking to find me a dame who cares for me, I believe that ship has sailed. I can’t…”

“Oh how sweet,” the Black Fairy said, making her presence known. “Oh, don’t be so daft, Frodo,” Frodo raised his sword anyway at her.

“You have no right to be here. This is my house,” Frodo warned her.

“Oh, I didn’t come here to chat,” the Black Fairy said. “I came here reassuring my claim that the Savior, Emma, gets what she deserves. You are the last part of the Final Battle that doesn’t need to take place. If you fight me, you will lose along with Emma. Food for thought, don’t you think?” She vanished in a puff of black smoke.

Frodo stared at Sam, determination in his eyes. “Now we stop the Black Fairy, before she comes after Emma. And I’m telling you one thing, the Black Fairy will not win. I guarantee it.”

“Mr. Frodo, maybe you should rest,” Sam said, concerned.

“No. I need to find Emma. Need to tell her what I saw,” Frodo said, watching his hand tremble for a moment, before clasping it with his other hand. He left his house, even as Sam shouted for him to come back. The Black Fairy would pay, and one thing was clear: Rumplestiltskin lied to them all again. That was not something Frodo would have happen, not this time. Not ever. He would find a way to stop them both, no matter what the odds came to him or to Emma.

It was time the Black Fairy’s reign came to a close.

~~~

The Green Dragon Inn, Bywater, the Shire, Middle-earth – The Time Before the Dark Curse

Prince Charming opened the round door for Snow. The last thing they expected was to see hobbits around their height. Something drastic must have happened.

“I don’t understand. Aren’t hobbits supposed to be tiny?” Snow asked, concerned.

“Aye. They’re smaller than dwarves, but Snow, we were just outside. This inn isn’t supposed to be that big,” Charming inquired.

“We need to find Frodo,” Snow spoke quickly, worried now. “Find him before…”

“Before what?” Frodo asked, surprising the couple and taking a swig of ale from his mug. “I didn’t expect to see you two here.”

Charming coaxed Snow on with their plan, to which Snow told him, “We think we might have a way to defeat Regina… and may I ask what happened to you? How are you taller than me?”

Frodo smirked. Would he go into song? Did they know what was coming to them? He might as well start singing his song. The song from Middle-earth, no doubt, just to prove to them his wish worked out just fine.

“I wished,
ho! I wished upon a shooting star…”

“Okay, it was a blue star, but so what? The wish worked anyway.” Frodo reiterated, before jumping back into the song.

“To find what I was looking for.
I wished and that wish came true.
For me and maybe for you.

“Oh that wish,
It was a wish,
And now that it has come true.

“I’ve found what I’ve been searching for.

“Oh, that wish,
it was a wish,
but it came true.

“And now I’m here with you.”

The music changed in tone, a little, to something a bit more dramatic. Frodo climbed up on a table, in the process, to continue singing his song.

“Oh, that wish granted me many things,
From danger to love, out of many things,
For now I seek out the truth,
And I cannot find it’s heart!

“So go! You must leave me alone.”

“We’re not going anywhere,” Charming spoke, determination in his eyes. “Not until you help us defeat the Evil Queen.”

“We know she’s out there. We need your help to find her,” Snow told Frodo, also determined.

“I haven’t finished my song yet,” Frodo said, diving right back into the song.

“I wished,
That I wished,
To seek redemption’s fair light.

“I wished,
Oh! I wished,
And that wish came true.

“For now, you tell me
that I must defeat the Evil Queen.
Well lass, lad, I think we’re going astray!

He moved down the table, as the climax of the song arrived.

“Now I wished,
You tell me that wish
doesn’t mean a thing!

“I wished,
And now you grant me safe passage,
far away from here.

“I don’t expect much,
but my own compensation.
For now, my song is done.
And I must bid adieu!

The music stopped. Frodo’s voice grew softer towards the end of his song.

“Oh I wished, and now I see the end,
You asked me to help, Snow and Charming,
Please tell me the destination’s good…

“It’s bad, isn’t it?” Frodo asked the couple.

“Bad,” Snow said, adding in.

“It’s very bad,” Charming told him, calm but serious. “So, will you help us?”

“Of course, I will help you,” Frodo said, as the tune livened up again and his spirits brightened.

“Oh, I wished,
and now I get what I deserved,
to the Evil Queen’s castle,
where none have dared retort.

“Oh, I wished,
and now the deed is coming to its conclusion…

He paused. No one was stopping him. Great! Onto the last verse.

“Oh, I wished and it has come to pass,
I wished and now at last I pass,
And here it is! I’m sailing away,
With pirates, a prince and a princess,
What more is there to say!

~~~

Regina’s Office, Town Hall, Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

Frodo stormed into Regina’s office a second before Emma. But it wasn’t Regina sitting at her desk. It was the Black Fairy, the last person he wanted to see.

“Frodo, come here at last to make amends,” the Black Fairy said with a wicked smile.

“Look, leave Emma and our friends alone,” Frodo said, determined.

“Frodo,” Emma said, grabbing his sleeve.

“Well, you see Frodo’s a liability. He may be part of the final battle, but he isn’t what I’m truly after,” the Black Fairy said, standing up.

“No.” Frodo was confused. “What do you—”

“Enough!” the Black Fairy cried, waving her hand in front of him.

Frodo lunged forward, but only at a short distance. He couldn’t move. He couldn’t… no! His feet and ankles were encased to the black and white tiles. He tried yanking on his feet to move, but to no avail. He was trapped, with nowhere to go.

“Stop this,” Emma told the Black Fairy.

“Stop what? I’ve been waiting for this for a long time, and now…” the Black Fairy waved her hand in the air. There was Emma’s family and Hook, frozen. Frodo stared for a moment.

“No!” Frodo cried, while attempting to yank his feet out of the tiles. “Let them go!”

“Frodo, I’ll be back,” Emma said, leaving the office.

“Emma wait!” Frodo called, but to no avail. Emma was gone. He tried again, hoping she would respond this time. He hoped anyway. “Emma! Emma, wait. Emma!

~~~

The Evil Queen’s Castle, Enchanted Forest – The Time Before the Dark Curse

Frodo followed Snow and Charming into the Evil Queen’s castle. He wasn’t one for storming castles – no. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to do so. And there she was, readying her fireball. He had to try something. He knew what to do! Sing, of course.

“I wished,
Oh I wished,
for true love’s light to come.”

“Stop it!” the Evil Queen said, watching her fireball extinguish in her hand.

“It’s working,” Frodo said, continuing his song.

“I wished,
Oh how I wished,
to see you again.
To tell you one thing,
and one thing alone.”

“Why did you do it? Why did you give me that mirror?” Frodo asked her, curious and calm.

“You,” the Evil Queen sneered. Frodo moved out of the way, just as Snow and Charming advanced with their song on the Evil Queen. The Evil Queen fought back, but Frodo had one final verse to sing with his song.

“I wished,
Oh! how I wished,
That you would stop this madness…”

Too late. The Evil Queen opened the box in her hand. A green mist swirled, entrapping right into Frodo’s vocal cords. He felt so strange. He couldn’t open his eyes. This wasn’t good. He checked his vocal cords with his index finger, trying again to hit a tune.

“Oh I wish,” Frodo gasped. “NO!”

“Yes.” The Evil Queen smiled wickedly. “I took away your song. Now get out of my castle and go back to the Shire, where you belong. Your little hovel.”

“It’s not a hovel. It’s a…” Frodo was swarmed by purple smoke. He couldn’t finish his sentence, not yet. Not until… he was back home.

Bag End, the Shire, Middle-earth – The Time Before the Dark Curse

“Smial,” Frodo finished his sentence. No. He was back in front of Bag End. The lights were on. He wanted to go in, but Snow and Charming needed him. What if they were trapped, trapped like rats due to the Evil Queen. He had to stop her and fast. Wait. There was a blue light transforming into the Blue Fairy. He contemplated, telling her in a somber tone. “The Evil Queen took my voice. My singing voice. Now I can’t sing.”

“She didn’t take it away from you. The song is still there, resting inside your heart,” the Blue Fairy said with a smile. “Snow and Charming are safe. They’re back at the castle.”

“That’s good,” Frodo said, grinning slightly.

“Unfortunately, you won’t remember the wish you made. No one here will,” the Blue Fairy explained. “But the song will kept safe until the Savior comes, the chosen one who will defeat the curse that’s coming.”

“I know, but I’d like to ask a favor. I’d like to at least remember how I made the wish. Can you give me that?” Frodo requested.

“I can do a little work,” the Blue Fairy said, waving her wand and pointing it at Frodo’s forehead. Frodo closed his eyes. A wave of particles seeped through his skull. He awoke the second the spell was gone. “There. Now you’ll have a little memory of what went on today. No one else will. Just you. Keep it with you. All our lives depend on it, until the time comes when the songs will be used as a weapon again.” She transformed back into a blue light and floated away.

Frodo nodded. Well, at least some part came up from all this. He watched the blue light flicker away, grinning and letting the Blue Fairy know, “Thank you.” It was all he needed to say.

~~~

Regina’s Office, Town Hall, Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

Frodo glided into the office with a silver tray, filled with apple tea in a silver tea set. He glanced up at the Black Fairy, as he set the tray down on the desk. Already, thoughts of his previous imprisonment by Zelena’s hand didn’t help. It was as if the memories were fresh again, growing inside himself with each passing moment…

“Thank you,” the Black Fairy spoke, her words cunning, “now go on, poster boy, and prepare the tea.”

“I am not your poster boy,” Frodo said, as he carefully poured a cup.

“Apple? Haven’t you got anything more delish, my pet?” the Black Fairy said, sniffing the air.

“I am not your pet!” the gentle-hobbit said with a hiss.

“Come, come now. You are just the Savior of Middle-earth,” the Black Fairy told him. “You have no real job here, do you?”

“Frodo,” Emma called, entering the room.

“Emma,” the Black Fairy said, smiling. “Come to see me before my curse strikes. How about that final battle?”

“Let’s get this over and done with. You can have my heart. We end the final battle now,” Emma said, out of breath.

“Done,” the Black Fairy said, standing up and taking Emma’s heart out of her chest. Frodo gasped, coming to Emma’s aide around the time Henry made it. He noticed something: The Black Fairy didn’t crush Emma’s heart. Henry told them her heart was stronger than the Black Fairy’s powers. Emma sang, something that surprised Frodo. But there was something else. Frodo’s voice… he could feel his song resurfacing, along with many others he hadn’t sung in a long time. And the Black Fairy, she vanished the moment Emma broke the spell on her family, standing in the room and now moving.

“You did it,” Henry said, turning to Emma and then Frodo. “You did, too.”

“All I did was pass to the Black Fairy her tea,” Frodo answered. “I’m not the savior here. Emma is. She has to be the one to defeat the Black Fairy.”

“Not alone,” Henry told him. “You were in that vision, too.”

“I was in my vision. Emma didn’t say whether or not I was there,” Frodo fired back. “What do I know?”

“You never know. It could be more than one savior fighting this battle,” Henry said, slapping his shoulder. Frodo looked down at his hand. It trembled again, until he clasped it. It was clear then. Frodo knew there might be more than one savior fighting the final battle. But where was his place in the fight? He already shooed Mindy away… Elsa, too (no doubt he was thinking about her now, given these rough times). Anakin was nowhere to be seen. Aladdin was off somewhere. Harry, Ron and Hermione still hadn’t returned. Everyone new, who he cared about, wasn’t with him. Now what could he do?

Enjoy Emma and Hook’s wedding? He was still the best friend attending the wedding. Yes, that seemed like the right idea.

Hook and Emma’s Wedding Ceremony on Rooftop, Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

Frodo sat with his friends, hobbits and the citizens of Storybrooke alike. His dress clothes were ripe for the occasion, decked in floral patterns and in his favorite color: blue. He briefly looked down at the tiled black and white floor, before gazing up to see Emma in her white dress and long white veil moving side by side with her parents. He turned to see Hook, dressed in a black tuxedo, take Emma’s hand, after her father kissed her cheek, and exchange vows, with permission from Archie Hopper, who was conducting the ceremony.

Rings were placed on the couple’s hands. A kiss and it was over. Hook and Emma were now Mr. and Mrs. Jones, respectively. Now the fun could begin, and a little song more from Frodo.

“I wondered how this could turn out.
Emma and Hook are married,
but where was I?

“Dreaming of far off places.
They look so happy.
Now let my wish come true…”

DONG! DONG!

Frodo’s new song was interrupted. The clock tower struck six o’ clock. Shattering the glass came tentacles of black smoke mixed in with fairy dust. He knew what that meant, all thanks to Grumpy: The Black Fairy’s curse was here, sweeping them away into whatever world she took them at. But he could stand it. The heroes always won, and they would again, even as the black smoke engulfed his senses, darkening his vision.

One thing was certain: the Final Battle was about to begin, and they had better be prepared for what was to come.

Chapter Text

 

Mindy’s Bedroom, Our World – The Present

Mindy was nearing the conclusion to Strong Intentions. The last two chapters were looking right at her, seeing through her every grasp. Great. Now she just had to… wait. What was that black smoke? Why was it seeping through her work?

“NOO!” She screamed. She was so close. “What is going on? Where’s Frodo? Where…”

There was a sentence inked on the screen.

Frodo is in Shelob’s Labyrinth.

“Oh great,” she said, not liking the sound of this. “That’s new. Where is Shelob’s labyrinth?” How could she get to him now? She didn’t have a magic bean on her… or a doorway to Storybrooke, or the other realms? “I’m trapped. He’s trapped. Oh, I’m never getting out of here! And neither is the story.” However, just as she reached for her laptop, a light magic bounced her hand off the keyboard. Great. Now what was she to do? And what was Frodo going to do? “Come on. You can do this.”

Gathering her courage, she sat down, forcing her hands to touch the keyboard. She would finish this story, and no dark magic was going to stop her.

~~~

Shelob’s Labyrinth – The Present

Frodo roused, due to the sound to dripping raindrops. His head swam with a mixture of voices inside his head. His eyes widened all at once. He was awake. He remembered everything. But where was he? It was so dark and there was sickening feeling of spidery legs crawling throughout his skin.

“Ahh!” He moaned, standing up as best he could. What had he been sitting on? It was sticky. It was a spider web. There was some light coming from his hand. Light magic. “No.” He was in a spidery labyrinth, but he knew in his heart where he was. “Shelob’s lair. No. This is much bigger than that. A labyrinth.” He realized in growing angst. “The Black Fairy put me inside a labyrinth.”

His voice echoed in the cavern’s tunnel network.

“A labyrinth!” Frodo repeated, a little louder. “Oh, I do hope Elsa’s all right. Or Mindy, wherever you are. You’re supposed to finish this story, weren’t you? And now we’re both stuck.”

RING. RING. RIIIINNG.

“What is that?” He asked, looking about the room. “No need to be in the dark. Where are you?” He shrugged, extended his hand and jetted out a light source towards the ringing sound. It worked. He followed the light without much complaint. And there it was. A mirror. And there was the Black Fairy, telling Henry her plan. No way. She erased Emma’s memories, so she could stop believing. Wait. What did that mean for him?

CRASH. CLANG. CLING. CLANG. CRASH.

“No.” He didn’t have to feel it to know… his whole body weight was nearly thrown over by the cavern’s tremors. “I have to get out of here!”

He sprinted across the tunnel the light source pointed to. The one that was safest. He nearly tripped on the cloak the Elves of Lothlórien had given him. And yet, he kept running. Behind him, the ceiling crashed, collapsing without any measure or means to stay up. There was a light at the end of the tunnel. He had to reach it. Now, while there was still time.

CRASH.

The floor was collapsing behind him, too. He had to reach it. The last few steps. He could do it. He ran, ran, ran and leapt over the chasm. He was going to fall, along with the floor. But… lo! he was saved by levitation and brought through to the other side as the door closed behind him. The labyrinth was no more.

Antechamber of Memories – The Present

“Thank you,” said a familiar voice. Frodo dared looked up at the Jedi Knight in the dark robes and the brown mullet hair. He knew who this Jedi was without question: it was Anakin Skywalker. “I just saved your life.”

“That you did,” Frodo said, ready to stand up, if not for help from Sam. He, at least, was less dirty than he. Honestly, how did he get into such filth? Now he remembered. Shelob’s lair. Traveling there with Gollum and Sam. He was dirty then, too. What difference did it make now?

“Mr. Frodo, you’re filthy,” Sam pointed out the obvious.

“Thank you, Sam,” Frodo said, calmly, moving away from him.

Now he had a better look at the place. This antechamber was large, almost like a secondary chamber with tan stone and regal rugs, covered in delicate designs. The floor was stone cold to the touch as were the walls, and Frodo guessed the ceiling as well. Inside this antechamber were tables, chairs and benches, but there were also chests filled with jewels, scrolls and all manner of other trinkets. As for the polished oak table in the center of the room, it had a candlestick with many candles, a placemat underneath the candlestick and several maps, which Frodo took kindly to look at. Yes, this room seemed to have everything, including doors with different designs and paints on the front. He just had enough time to look at the maps when Merry and Pippin arrived with three familiar guests.

“I told you our world is safe,” Harry Potter said, stressed out. “Why do you have to keep pointing this out? It’s – safe.” He stopped to look. The door with the moon encrusted painting, on the stained-glass window, vanished. All that remained was a void of empty space. “Where did it go?”

“Maybe he knows?” Ron Weasley asked in a demanding voice, pointing out Frodo and advancing towards him. “Hobbit…”

“Ron, it’s Frodo. You know him. He’s our friend,” Hermione Granger murmured out of concern, pulling Ron back.

“Do you know what’s happening to this place?” Ron asked Frodo, more determined for the answer.

“I…” Frodo was cut off by the sounds of various doors vanishing into the void. “No.” He stared in shock. How could this happen? “What’s going on?” He looked to Anakin for answers. “You were here before I was. So was Sam. If anything, you two know something.” He hissed, his facial expression serious.

“Now if I knew what was going on, that would be the first thing I’d tell you. But I don’t. Look at that door,” Anakin said, showing them a void behind a starry night sky curtain. “That used to be my galaxy.”

“It’s gone,” Frodo said, shocked.

Anakin nodded. “Indeed. So, something must be happening over in Storybrooke.”

“Storybrooke? Where’s Storybrooke – OW!” Ron cried, moving Hermione’s fingers off of his sleeve.

“Ron, pay attention. You know this place. Storybrooke, I mean,” Hermione said, inclined on helping Ron remember.

“I know it. I just don’t think I should head back there,” Ron said, pointing out his reasons.

“It’s the Black Fairy,” Frodo explained, in an effort to stay calm, “she scattered us, made Emma forget and now she’s going to stopper Emma’s belief soon, unless we get back there and help her out.”

“I would Apparate us there,” Harry said, concerned, “but we have another problem. Because of this new curse, my apparition skills are unfortunately not tied to Storybrooke.”

“I have Author’s powers,” Merry admitted, his gaze shifting between the Middle-earth edition of the book Once Upon A Time to the present moment. “But I’m not using them to poof us out of here.”

“Why not?” Frodo asked, concerned. “You’re the Author of our story! Surely you could think of something…”

“It’s not that kind of magic, Frodo!” Merry hissed, serious.

“It’s still like one,” Frodo said, also serious. He looked at the others for help, but it didn’t seem anyone was helping. “So, no one will help. And the Final Battle… the worlds going…”

“Emma’s still in Storybrooke. What’s the Black Fairy doing to her?” Sam asked, concerned.

“Well, think about it, maybe…” Pippin suggested, “who do we know would know about what’s going on?”

“The Charmings, if they’re out there,” Frodo said, thinking. “But there maybe someone else who might be able to help us out. Only I can’t….”

“Mr. Frodo, you have magic. You’re the Savior of our world,” Sam told him, firmly. “Surely, there’s a way for you.”

“Sam, I don’t know!” Frodo yelled, sharply. He paused, calming down seconds later. “I’m sorry. But you’ve got the wrong hobbit. It was Gollum who destroyed that Ring. I can’t.”

“You’re doubting yourself,” Anakin said, surprised. “Frodo, I’ve seen you be a savior. We’re all saviors in this room. You’re one of them. You’re one of us.”

“I don’t know,” Frodo said, concerned. “The Black Fairy said I was a liability.”

“No, you’re not,” Merry said, announcing his reasons. “Frodo, you may not be the savior of Storybrooke, but you were the one who I heard drove Gollum to Mordor, in a manner of speaking.”

“You’ve made sacrifices,” Pippin said, encouraging him.

“We can’t do this alone,” Anakin added, shrugging his shoulders.

Frodo turned to Sam, hoping for one last respite. “Sam, what do you think?”

“We need you, Mr. Frodo. I get much of the credit for the adventure,” Sam said, shrugging. “I think it’s time you got us out of this mess.”

“Do you have a destination in mind,” Merry asked Frodo, curious.

Frodo nodded. He knew the place to go, or so he hoped. In one wave of his hand, a light source surrounded himself and his friends, leading them over to a dark hobbit hole with sunlight shooting out through a few glass windows.

“Where are we?” Merry asked, concerned.

Dark Hobbit Hole – The Present

“That’s a good question,” Anakin said, agreeing with the hobbit author.

“Mr. Frodo,” Sam said, concerned and approaching his friend.

“This does not look like Bag End. At least, not that I’ve seen,” Frodo admitted, confused. He told his friends, “I may not be the Savior of Storybrooke, but I am going to help everyone out, if I can. Thank you for believing in me.”

The tremors stopped. All seemed well for the moment. Frodo smiled, glad to know he did something right.

“Well, maybe I am a savior after all,” Frodo said, perked up.

What the hell is going on in here?!” a threatening voice stormed in, blowing with it a hobbit identical to Frodo, only he wore dark clothes and his hair was oily. This time, he wore no ponytail on the back of his head. He stopped, calming down in seconds, “Oh, it’s you.” He poofed out his fireball.

“Well, this looks familiar,” Anakin said, unsurprised.

“Dark Lord Frodo, or I was,” Dark Frodo said, calmly. “I’ve given up the killing business.”

“Have you?” Merry asked, unconvinced.

“What happened?” Frodo asked his dark self. “I thought you were in the Wish Realm, happy.”

“I was and so was Wish Realm Mindy, for a brief time,” Dark Frodo said, explaining his story. “However, you forgot to mention that everyone there thinks Mindy and myself are crazy into thinking that Storybrooke exists. When we couldn’t convince them, I had to find ourselves a new home. Here. It isn’t exactly Bag End, but it’s a great calling card for those who need help desperately. I told you I wasn’t in the killing business anymore.”

“We’ve got a problem of our own. And we need the Charmings’ help to do so.” Frodo said, concerned. “It has something to do with a fairy.”

Dark Frodo smiled. “Do tell.”

So Frodo did tell the story of everything that had happened since the Black Fairy’s arrival and the new curse. He had just finished telling the story when tremors shook the earth. They were violent, such as hadn’t been experienced in a long time.

“What the hell?” Dark Frodo cried, confused.

“What does that mean?” Sam asked, also confused.

Frodo understood. “The story. The book. We’re in it, too. And Emma… she must have burned the book.” Looking out the window, he watched as a sweeping mass of nothingness began its process of engulfing the lands, straight into oblivion.

Chapter Text

Mindy’s Bedroom – The Present

Mindy typed at a hurried pace. Her fingers spread across the keyboard as if they caught fire. She couldn’t stop, wouldn’t stop. There were sparks flying through her fingertips, hitting the keyboard. She had to finish the story, had to… maybe then she would see Frodo again. Just once. She knew things were moving pretty fast between them. Maybe that was the reason they parted. But even through it all, she hadn’t given up on the story.

This was it. This was her last chance to complete it… even as the screen swamped itself in inky blackness. She couldn’t type anymore. The keyboard forced her hand to stop. A few tears crippled down her face.

“No, no, no!” she cried. It was too late. Her laptop was swamped in the black liquid. She couldn’t write anymore. Her passion. Gone. But somewhere deep inside herself, there was a spark of light pouring in through the blackness. “There is still hope.” She remembered Arwen saying the exact same thing.

~~~

Dark Lord Frodo’s Hobbit Hole – The Present

The wall of nothingness continued creeping its way through the realm. Frodo stared at it, wondering then if he would see home again. If anyone would. There just wasn’t anything to stop the oblivion from coming to pass. He turned to his dark half, advancing towards him with determination in his eyes.

“You can stop this. Can’t you?” Frodo asked, curtly. “The realms can’t all be lost.”

“What would you have me do?” Dark Frodo asked in turn. “Frodo, this isn’t something I can fix. And apparently, neither can you.”

“You’re my other half, Frodo,” Frodo told his other half.

“Believe me, if I knew how to stop this, I would,” Dark Frodo said, waving his hands in the air. “But I can’t. I’m sorry.” An idea struck his thoughts. “But maybe I can hold it off, long enough for you and your friends to make the jump. To find the Charmings.”

“You mean you’re not coming. You won’t exist anymore. You’ll die,” Frodo said, disbelieving what was going on.

“Listen, take your friends. Find a portal. Get out of here. And if you see Mindy… the real Mindy, tell her I’m sorry for what I did to her,” Dark Frodo said, remembering his history with the authoress. “Can you do that?”

“Yeah, if I see her I will do that,” Frodo said, shaking his hand. “Good luck to you.”

“Right. Now go. Go!” Dark Frodo said, releasing him. He turned towards the window, readying his hands for the strike. The nothingness was upon the house. He threw his hands out, zapping it with purple magic for as long as possible… he closed his eyes, as the nothingness consumed him.

Frodo gathered with the others in library, where the bookcases and the books flew through the air, straight into the nothingness. He huddled up with Sam, Merry and Pippin. Harry, Ron, Hermione joined them in the circle, with Anakin using the Force as much as he could to shield them in a tight bubble.

It was here. The nothingness was close… and nothing. And by nothing, Frodo looked around. The wind and the sea of nothingness stopped. They were surrounded by the oblivion, with only the floor as their platform.

“What happened?” Anakin asked, concerned.

“It was Emma,” Frodo said with a smile. “She believes.”

Something new surrounded them. A bright mass of light engulfing their beings, moving them out from the oblivion and back to their places. Frodo knew what that meant, now that he was clean and his hobbit clothes weren’t tattered, but new. He, Sam, Merry and Pippin were back in Storybrooke and the curse broken.

Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

Night had fallen over Storybrooke. Frodo had made it just in time. But there was no time to waste. He followed his friends to the street, where Emma and her family reunited at long last.

“So, the curse is over. What’s next?” Frodo asked Emma, curious.

“I face Gideon,” Emma said, curtly. “It’s the final battle.”

“Wait. What?” Frodo asked, alarmed. “Maybe I can help. I have the dagger.” He pulled out the silver dagger, in hopes of helping her.

“I’m afraid you’re in luck. Both of you,” Gideon said, appearing on the middle of the street. “I think it’s time we finish what we started.”

Frodo moved in front of Emma. “If you want her, you’re going to have to come through me.”

Gideon chuckled. “That’s what I was hoping for.”

Frodo circled around. So this was it. This was his part in the final battle: facing off against Gideon. Still, he had to do it. He had to. His feet paced across the wet cement, ready to strike at him. And he did. Blade clashed with blade. He swung a few times, Gideon did the same. He moved to strike again, only to have the dagger cling to the sword.

“Prove you’re the hero, Frodo,” Gideon said as their blades crossed. “Prove it.”

“A hero,” Frodo repeated.

He swung his blade a few more times, narrowly managing having his feet stepped on by Gideon’s boots. He had to try something. He panted, this battle was moving too fast. He dived, right as Emma swung in, hitting Gideon’s sword hard.

“Yes!” Frodo slid in, blade clashing with blade once more.

The dance continued for a good couple of minutes. Frodo couldn’t stop. He had to do something. Something to make it worth the effort for fighting. He knew what to do. He repelled off both blades, throwing the silver dagger on the ground.

“I won’t fight you. Not anymore.” Frodo said to Gideon.

“You should have saved us. Emma should have saved us, too,” Gideon said, almost pleading.

Frodo nearly said “what?”, but changed his mind. He had to be brave, prove what heroes always did for everyone. He waited for the moment to come. He waited—

JAB!

His thoughts rendered senseless. The darkness was swirling as the light came to pass. He could hear Sam’s voice, muffled in the distance. It was over. He looked last at Emma as she too sacrificed herself. Then there was nothing, nothing, nothing…

He was sailing away, briefly catching a different light. A bright light. He could see Olympus, his parents. But that wasn’t the only thing that was happening. Eru Ilúvatar was there in the heavens, extending his hand to him…

There was a kiss on the forehead. Rippling light streaming out from him. He could hear Emma crying in relief. He breathed in and out. His body was regaining strength. And there was Sam. Sam had kissed his forehead, like he would one day do for him… maybe… in a manner of friendship... a parting between friends... or maybe he didn’t need to go to the Undying Lands after all. His wounds were healed and so was he.

“What happened?” Frodo asked, once he was helped to his feet.

“You died,” Merry answered, smiling. “It was Sam who saved your life this time.”

“What are friends for?” Sam asked in turn.

“Merry, the book,” Pippin said, pointing to the book in Merry’s hands.

“Oh right,” Merry said, taking a peek at the book and reading the words. “‘With the efforts between Good and Evil cleansed, and help from a friendly hobbit, the Final Battle was won.’ There’s no ‘the end’.”

“Well, I guess that means our stories never ended,” Frodo said with glee. “That we go on, continue living out our lives. Who knows. We may all find the happy ending we deserve.”

“So did you find your happy ending, Frodo?” Pippin asked, curious.

“I don’t know. The final battle’s won. Who else is left for us to fear?” Frodo asked, right as a loud, enraged scream came rushing towards them. “Oh no. Not you again.”

Sauron spat in the air. “I have done something none of you ever did! I unleashed Morgoth.” He pointed out the mass of darkness sweeping the area. “He’s back! He’s back and you…”

Sauron!” cried a loud booming voice, as the darkness was swallowed back into its hole.

“Oh no. It’s Manwë,” Sauron said, watching the mass of bright light reach him. “Hey there! Is there something wrong?”

“Is there something wrong? Don’t tell me there isn’t something wrong, Sauron!” Manwë screeched in frustration. “You are working the mines until I say so. In a land faraway from here where you won’t cause anymore mischief.”

“But Frodo is responsible for helping destroy my Ring!” Sauron rushed towards the hobbit. “I’ll get you… eeeeeeeeh!” He was thrown back to Manwë, who carried him away in the light.

“Take care now! May your happy beginnings be bright!” Manwë cried, as the light vanished and with it Sauron and Morgoth, too, whose own darkness vanished out of Storybrooke.

Frodo smiled. The threats were gone from Storybrooke now. Whatever happened next was unknown. The final battle was won, and he could rest peacefully. Why then did he not feel happy? After everything he’d been through, he still let Elsa and Pearl go. His heart had moved on from them. There was just one person he wanted to see now, who he wondered if she had gone through a similar situation to what he endured today.

But in a way, he was glad that Storybrooke was safe. Now everyone could live out their happy beginnings after all.

Chapter Text

The Realms – The Present

The clock ticked in Storybrooke.

The realms and galaxies resumed, coming out of the oblivion and back into the light. Dark Frodo checked himself for a brief second. He was back. He was happy. Everything was peaceful for him once more.

“Oh Frodo,” Wish Realm Mindy said, coming out of hiding, wearing a white dress. “Is it safe?”

“Yes, it’s safe,” Dark Frodo said, approaching her with calmness. “They did it. They saved us all.”

“Good. I’m glad,” Wish Realm Mindy said, sighing in relief. “So, what now?”

“Now, we go on, continue our lives as they always were. I’ll see you at dinner,” Dark Frodo asked, curious.

“Yes,” Wish Realm Mindy nodded in agreement, smiling as they embraced.

Anakin jolted in place. He looked around. He was back inside the high ceiling, red carpeted, elegant Jedi Temple. The Jedi were present. He exhaled, glad to be back home.

“Anakin!” said Obi-Wan Kenobi, with his short-brown hair, brown beard and wearing white Jedi robes, approached him. “Are you all right, Anakin?”

“Now I am, Master,” Anakin said, relieved. “Now I am.”

Diagon Alley bustled to life. Here and there were witches and wizards buying sweets, robes and whatnots. Harry, Ron and Hermione looked around in delight. They were still holding hands, but quickly released.

“It’s good to be back,” Harry said, nodding his approval.

“Yes, I suppose it is,” Ron said, unsure what to do.

“Want to stop for ice cream?” Hermione suggested, moving to the front of the group.

“Yes. Ice cream sounds good right now,” Harry said, gesturing forward. “Let’s go.”

Kovu stared out at the starry sky. From the Promontory on Pride Rock, he watched as fireworks lit the skies above. The colors red, yellow, green and blue danced and twirled like fireflies. He grinned. It couldn’t have been a finer night than this to celebrate a welcome home ceremony, such as this. And he was truly glad to be back home again, with his wife and family.

The unicorn world Luster saw the fireworks as well. How they shimmered and glowed. Among the unicorns, Cara found herself enthralled. And there she was with her friends Lightfoot and the Squijim. She sighed.

“No one could ask for a better night than this,” Cara reminisced. She was right indeed about the celebrations to come.

In Middle-earth, Gandalf the White continued sparking off fireworks in the Shire. He was glad his friends were present, but more so that Saruman agreed to change. Though it would be a long road ahead for him, at least the wizard proved he was trying… just under careful watch and watchful eyes.

“How long must I stay here?” Saruman asked, annoyed.

“Until you’ve agreed to change,” Gandalf told him.

“Humph. How’s this for change?” Saruman asked, lighting off several fireworks at once, in different patterns and orders. He grinned a happy grin. “Told you, I’m changing.”

“Well, we’re keeping an eye on you,” Legolas told him, firmly.

“I can see why you have so many fangirls, Legolas,” Saruman said, grinning with glee.

“You want me to whack him again?” Gimli asked, readying his axe.

“Hold!” Gandalf said, stopping him. “Right now, Middle-earth is safe and it will stay safe as long as we are here.”

“Where’s Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin?” Aragorn asked, curious.

Gandalf sighed. “In time, they will return. For now, leave them where they lie. They are happy and that is what counts.”

Storybrooke, Maine – The Present

Sam trudged up the steps to his house, grateful to be back. It had been weeks since the Final Battle struck Storybrooke, and already he felt a sense of warmth come over him. He felt so peaceful here, and so did Frodo. Maybe staying in this world, in Storybrooke, was the best move. But no matter where he and his friends traveled next, they would one day find home again. For now… he heard a baby cry. And there was Rosie, as beautiful as ever.

“Sam, where’s Frodo?” Rosie asked him, curious. “He’s not been back for weeks.”

“Oh, let him go, Rose,” Sam said, kissing his wife. “He’s off to find his own happy beginning.”

Mindy’s Bedroom – The Present

The inky black slimed off the laptop, seeping back under the screen before disappearing altogether. Mindy got right back to work, typing up her story and all the inns and outs. She almost had it complete. Only two words were left to type and she typed them out.

And there it was. Strong Intentions was complete. Why then did she not feel complete? If only… the door opened up. She spun around, meeting the gaze of Frodo Baggins. He wasn’t sure what to do either.

“Mindy, I… about our parting, it wasn’t anyone’s fault. I just wanted you to know that. I’ll leave, if you want me to,” Frodo said, very nearly darting out the door. Mindy grabbed him and hugged him, breathing him in as if they had just met. Frodo smiled. How he missed this feeling.

“I missed you,” Mindy piped up, choking back her words. “I – I thought I wouldn’t see you again,” she said upon release. “What happened to you? What happened in Storybrooke? I’m sorry I missed it. I was typing up the rest of the story. And now it’s complete. Now I’m not sure what to do.” She half-expected Frodo to kiss her, full on the lips… he wanted to, but he was also retracting.

“I know we were moving pretty fast with our relationship,” Frodo said, explaining as best he could. “I thought it best that we try again. This time as friends and seeing where we go from there. What do you say?”

Mindy grinned. “I think that works out. I think that this time, we take things slow.”

“Exactly what I was saying,” Frodo said, grinning too, but also extending his hand. “Hullo. My name is Frodo Baggins.”

“Hi. I’m Mindy,” Mindy said, taking his hand and shaking it.

“Good,” Frodo said upon release, a warm smile on his face. “A happy beginning after all.”

“My thoughts exactly,” Mindy said, in agreement.

Frodo nodded. “Good.” For indeed, it was a happy beginning for everyone.

X-X-X

And they all lived happily ever after.

The End.

X-X-X