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Please, don't spoil everything this time.

Chapter Text

They were just four, Henry and his moms, and Rumplestiltskin, ready to send him to death.

 

The fact is that it was a good idea, it's true. But Henry felt bad about it, he didn't know why, but… he was feeling that he could do something else. Something better.

 

After some seconds of reflexion, Henry finally said :

 

“No, I can't.

 

Everyone looked at him with surprise.

 

- I mean, I don't want to. We easily can do something else.

 

- But what ?

 

- I don't know, I'm still searching. This story is not as good as it should be, but… we just can't do that.

 

- Henry, Emma said, you know that the other you is unhappy. And the realm is in danger.

 

- That's exactly my point ! We must do something. Not only destroy it as it becomes a danger for us.

 

- But Henry, what could we do ? Regina demanded.

 

- What do you propose ? Rumplestiltskin added, interested.

 

Henry's hand were trembling.

 

- I am the Author, he finally said. So, I can't rewrite the story, at least, not our. But… I need to do it, to fix things. To change them, in a way I never did.

 

- How ?

 

- As I can destroy it, I can save it. Bring you back there, not only in term of space, but also in a different time.

 

Rumplestiltskin's eyes began to shine.

 

- You could send me before I abandoned Bae.

 

Henry grimaced.

 

- I didn't think so far. It was more about during the day Belle kissed you and that you rejected her.

 

The Dark One had a sad smile.

 

- It was the last day I saw her alive.

 

- Just let her break your curse, and then, you'll be happy together.”

 

Rumplestiltskin nodded, accepting the idea. It was better than dying. Regina seemed to approve, but Emma frowned.

 

“Wait, she said. If we do it, we do it well. In a good way. We must think about the consequences.

 

- What ?

 

- You did many things. Good and bad. There are people in the Enchanted Forest, who deserve happiness. You must help them get a happy ending.

 

- Why would I ? I'm not a hero.

 

- You can be, Henry said.

 

- Kid, the wizard said with a bitter smile, the only time where I was a hero was when I ended the Ogre War. And I had my powers, which won't be the case if I kiss Belle.

 

- In this world, you were. You died against your father.

 

- Gold, Emma added. You can do it, even without your dark magic.

 

- How will he face the Evil Queen without it ?

 

- Regina is right, Rumple said. I won't stop her from casting the curse if I can't fight her.

 

- I could change some details. Gave you powers that would make you the hero of the story. The Savior. You would be able to help people. You can be the hero, you just have to believe it.

 

- So… when I will kiss Belle…

 

- You will lose your dark powers, but earn white magic.

 

- What about my son ? How will I find him ?

 

- With time. Don't worry, he will find you.

 

- What ?

 

- Remember, he will come back to your world by himself.”

 

Then, they deal with other details, as the fact that he and Belle would be frozen in time, until Bae came back to the Enchanted Forest.

 

“It will be the signal.”

 

§§§§

 

Regina gave him an object.

 

“It's Henry's storybook. In fact, it's a different version, with what happened in your world. It will help you to know some things. Even if I know that you know everything.

 

Rumple had a grin.

 

- You know me too well.

 

- Take it too, Emma said. It's a list of the people we want you to help, and how to help them. For some of them, at least.”

 

Rumplestiltskin looked at it. There was some names he never heard, but he recognized one of them.

 

“Wait… you want me to help Killian Jones get a happy ending ?

 

- In a way, yes, Henry said. Look, grandpa, he said, by taking Gold far from the other, my moms are happy together. But, I think that if things had been different, in another world, they wouldn't have been together. Maybe. Regina would be with Robin, who died in our world. If you could help her find him…

 

- You want me to help the woman that let Belle die ?

 

- Technically, she hadn't.

 

- And your other mom would be with your dad, I guess. What does it have to do with Jones ?

 

- Him and my mom… were together. If you could bring him in the Enchanted Forest, so… she would be able to choose, if she wants to.

 

- Alright, he said unhappy, I will find something.

 

He would do anything to have his son back.

 

- If you reconcile with him, it will help you to have a better relationship with your son.

 

Henry wasn't sure of that, but he had the impression that it would. Rumple raised an eyebrow, not understanding. Henry explained him how complex the situation was, and the Dark One listened carefully.

 

After they told him the last instruction, Henry took what he needed to have to write.

 

“Oh, and grandpa, he said before he sent him back, please don't spoil everything this time.”

 

Rumple nodded and smiled.

 

Before he get back to his world, he took a deep breath. Now, he had things to do.

Chapter Text

When he succeeded to see where he was (and when), Rumple realized something.

 

Henry send him too lately.

 

He saw with horror Belle shouting at him, and ready to leave him, as he wasn't answering to her, and she was ready to leave. As he told her to go. He couldn't say anything, as he was seeing her, his Belle for the first time since twenty-eight years.

 

He needed time to be himself again, to say something. But she couldn't know that, so she decided to leave, seeing he wouldn't fight for her. It's just when he heard her sentence about empty heart and chipped cup that he succeeded to act, and tried to retain her.

 

S he was hurt, in pain, and ready to cry, trying to hide this from him. She wanted to stay dignified, despite all her pain. He had been wrong, she told to herself, she never wanted to destroy him, to take his powers from him.

 

She just wanted to help him, why couldn't he understand that ? She could have saved him, even though the queen wasn't her ally, she knew she didn't lie. It would have worked, she had the certitude, she would have broke his curse.

 

Why didn't he let her do that ? Why did he decide to keep his powers ?

 

She had to leave, and despite her efforts, he said nothing.

 

Did nothing.

 

Until he did.

 

She felt a beginning of hope when she felt a hand on her arm. It wasn't painful, he just let his hand on it, and she stopped.

 

Maybe that he didn't want her to leave.

 

Maybe he changed his mind.

 

She turned back.

 

He was looking at her, differently, and there was such sadness and love in his eyes that the young woman felt her anger vanish almost entirely.

 

There was a silent between them, Rumplestiltskin didn't know what to say, and Belle was waiting. The hand left her arm, and came on her cheek, gently. She didn't move; she wasn't afraid, just surprised, not understanding what was happening.

 

He changed his behavior so rapidly ! It didn't really make sense.

 

There was now a great changing in Rumplestiltskin. He was seeing Belle, alive, just in front of him, and he remembered what he saw in this other world. The child in Belle's arm, the fact that they were married, but they weren't together in this world.

 

But now, in this universe, he hadn't done all these mistakes, he could change, become better. For Belle, and Bae.

 

(And Gideon, even though he still didn't exist.)

 

He wanted to do it, to show her he would be different.

 

That would work.

 

He knew it.

 

He tried to ignore the little voice in his head, saying him it wouldn't.

 

§§§§

 

Slowly, so he wouldn't afraid her, he took his hand from the face of the young woman and, without knowing it, he made the same gesture as Gold did after he found Belle again, just before the curse was broken.

 

“Oh, Belle…” he whispered, before embracing her carefully.

 

Oh, how he missed her !

 

Twenty-eight years had been a long time, despite the fact that darkness were growing more and more in him, he always missed her. And during his time in prison, he realized how rude he had been toward her !

 

He hoped he could fix things.

 

She didn't understand. When she felt his arms around her, she hadn't the intention to scream, despite her surprise, but she stayed frozen for a moment, before she shyly replied to his embrace.

 

Belle finally realized that he was crying, and now, her anger had definitely disappeared. There was just worry in her voice, as she asked :

 

“Rumple are you okay ?

 

After some seconds, he answered.

 

- More than I ever was deary.

 

Even his voice change, and seemed to be more human. She smiled at him.

 

- You're not letting me go, right ?

 

- Unless you want it… no.

 

- What happened to you ? You were acting terribly to me, and now… you're so different.

 

And she wasn't angry at him, he realized. He couldn't have said how much he loved her.

 

- I could say that I… saw things.

 

It was true in a sense, he just didn't need to tell her that he lived them. She already knew that he could see the future, so it wasn't a lie.

 

No, it wasn't.

 

She frowned.

 

- And now ? I mean… what about now ?”

 

Now ?

 

He would do what he wanted to do since twenty-eight years.

 

He kissed her. Without saying he would do, but after all, she did the same to him.

 

And then, he fought. Against himself, against his darkness, against his fear of having no power.

 

There was a voice in his voice, the same he always had since he became the Dark One. Saying him he couldn't do that, that he would be weak then, that power was the only thing that mattered.

 

That Henry lied, that he would have no power then, no magic any more, and even tough it wasn't the case, dark magic was better, right ?

 

For the first time, he didn't listen.

 

Yes, power was a great thing, and yes, it was real.

 

But he was now feeling Belle's lips against his, and that was more real.

 

So yes, he let it happen.

 

He gave up his powers, his dark magic.

 

Him, the Dark One, accepted to be without his magic.

 

As he did, a great wave of magic crossed them, and then, their lips parted.

 

Belle had a smile.

 

“I guess it counts for a I'm sorry for what I told you ?

 

- I guess it does, whispered Rumple with a smile, before kissing her again.

 

§§§§

 

He had been almost totally honest to her.

 

Almost.

 

He couldn't say her everything, of course, but he almost did.

 

Who his son was, the fact that he would in the end come back in the Enchanted Forest, how they would be frozen in time (and she accepted it easily) until he was there. She accepted it, all of it, and God, it felt so good to completely trust someone again.

 

Someone who wouldn't betray him, he knew that.

 

He felt different now. Not as powerful as he was as the Dark One, but not as weak as he was before. His leg wasn't hurt, and there was no voice any more in his head. He felt good, as he never did since… centuries.

 

He still missed his son, but now, he had a new hope in his heart, and he thanked Henry when he saw that he did have powers, white powers this time.

 

Belle had another smile.

 

“Your magic seems lighter now. And you… you seem to be you again.”

 

And yes, he did. She found him more beautiful than ever, not because he had a different skin, but because he was himself. Except people who knew him before he changed (as Hook and Bae) or the one who saw him many times (Belle, Cora and Regina, Snow and Charming, or Blue), no one could have recognized him.

 

He was deeply different, his skin, his voice, even his eyes. He was human, and still a sorcerer, powerful but now good. Or at least, he was able too.

 

And he would, he swore.

 

“Where are you going ? She asked him, as he was leaving.

 

He gave her a grin.

 

- I have someone to see, right now.

 

- Who ?

 

He answered her, of course, as he decided he would be honest with her.

 

- The queen ! She gave him a scared look. Don't worry, I will do nothing to her. I just want to discuss with her.

 

- What does she want exactly ?

 

- Revenge. On Snow White. But I must confess that I have something to do with what she became…

 

- What did you do to her ?

 

- I made her fall into darkness. I will try to help her escape from it.

 

- That won't be easy…

 

He had a smile.

 

- You did this for me… I guess I can find a way to make her do the same thing.

 

- Good luck.”

Chapter Text

She was in her castle, of course, not knowing he was there. Savoring her victory against him, as she knew how he would react. She knew him too well.

 

She knew the old him, the one that hadn't lived twenty-eight years without Belle, that didn't lost his son. That wasn't hopeless.

 

He was different. When he looked at her, it wasn't by knowing she would cast his curse, no. He was seeing a woman lost in darkness, a woman he made that way. Someone who loved and had her heart broken, because of her mother, and because of him.

 

Now, his spirit was clear, and he couldn't help but feel remorse because of it. Apparently, she could change, and he would help her doing that. He saw darkness around her, just as there were around him.

 

She tried to destroy him, yes.

 

She had no idea that she just gave him a happy ending.

 

Or the promise of one, at least.

 

When he appeared in front of her, she started and frowned. Obviously, she had difficulties to recognize him, and she became pale as she understood who he was.

 

“Rumplestiltskin, is that you ?”

 

“Of course deary.”

 

Yes, she knew him too well.

 

“What happened to you ? You seem… different.”

 

“Different is the good word in fact.”

 

Troubled at first, the queen succeeded to be herself again at that moment.

 

“Oh… I guess she did kiss you, in the end.”

 

“The truth is that I did.”

 

“Really ? Why ? I thought your power was more important than anything !”

 

Even though he wasn't scaring as before, when she saw a shadow on his face, showing that he was serious again, she did feel fear.

 

“I am not like your mother, you know. She is heartless, I'm not.”

 

“If you're there, it's to thank me, right ?” She said, ironic.

 

“I won't blame you for that, actually. But now, I need to tell you something.”

 

“Which is ?

 

“Your revenge. It's useless. Revenge won't help you to cure from your pain. Snow isn't the monster of the story, your mother is. Just as me. I send you in it, we both did, despite what you wanted. Despite your true nature. And I am sorry for that.”

 

“You… what ?”

 

“I am sorry, but I think I need to go now. Goodbye.”

 

And then he left. It was abrupt, but he couldn't wait to come back to his castle (and to Belle), and he said what he had to say.

 

Regina frowned. There was something strange in it, but she couldn't say what. And then she understood.

 

Wasn't he supposed not to have powers any more ?

 

§§§§

 

He didn't like this place. The Dark Castle was definitely not a good place to live, it was too, too… dark. Too awful. And he was going to change it. Just some minutes after, the place turned into something more… good to live in. It was still a castle (because, yeah, he couldn't stop himself from being megalomaniac), but now it wasn't as scaring as before.

 

Just as Rumple himself.

 

Belle couldn't believe her eyes. The place was now beautiful, there wasn't any more all the terrible things that used to be there. It could be a real home now, she knew it.

 

But it wasn't, not now.

 

“You miss them, right ?”

 

“Who ?”

 

“Your family. Maybe also your fiance.”

 

She turned her head.

 

“Not him. I never loved him. I could have, but… there was something evil in him. I'm happy you helped me escape from this marriage…”

 

“You're sure of that ?”

 

She took his hand.

 

“Yes. I'm sure. My father doesn't like you.”

 

“I think he's right, he muttered.”

 

“Maybe, but… I don't need him, right ? I miss him, but if he doesn't let me be with you, well… I won't have him in my life...”

 

They didn't talk about that then, but Rumplestiltskin thought about it. Without telling her, he came to Belle's home, in order to talk to her father.

 

This last one seemed to be preoccupied; Gaston was gone, just as Belle, and even though the war was over, he wasn't happy.

 

Rumplestiltskin didn't make him become happier, that was the contrary.

 

“You, demon ! What are you doing here ?”

 

“You recognized me, the sorcerer said, surprised, how ?”

 

“You may changed your face, but I can still see your real face.”

 

“But this is my real face ! Protested the former Dark One. Well, I guess I can understand you don't trust me.”

 

“You took my daughter from me ! Of course I don't trust you.”

 

“I didn't ! I made a deal with you, and she was the price.”

 

My daughter is a person, not an object.”

 

“I never said that. I wanted to know… if you could have her back, would you reject her ?”

 

He wanted to know. To know if Regina's lie would have been real, and if Maurice did deserve to have Belle back as his daughter. He looked at him with hatred.

 

“What a question ! Of course not ! I would let her come there of course. Why do you ask me that ?”

 

He was suspicious. It was the first time that Rumplestiltskin seemed… normal. Just as if he had no darkness in him now. But it couldn't be true.

 

“I will free her. She will have the right to leave my home, if she wants. She will choose.”

 

“She will choose me”, Maurice said, sure of himself.

 

The other man smiled.

 

“You're sure of that ?”

 

Maurice frowned. The tone wasn't arrogant, and yes, he did seem to have changed. And he helped them end the Ogre war. Maybe he could give him a chance.

 

“I hope she will…”

 

“And I hope she won't choose, Rumplestiltskin added.”

 

When Belle learned what Rumplestiltskin did, she felt both angry and happy. She didn't choose, o f course. She talked with her father, for hours and hours and this last one, understanding he would lo ose her if he didn't agree, finally did.

 

So yes, for a beginning of redemption, it was a good one.

 

Chapter Text

Rumplestiltskin never liked fairies. Well, in fact, it's not true. Since they day he lost his son, he began to hate them, all of them.

 

Because of one.

 

Reul Gorn.

 

The Blue Fairy.

 

Who was someone good, most of the time. Who could be selfish or seem to be, for example when she took her wings to Tinkerbell.

 

(Luckily, it didn't happen, and wouldn't.)

 

The former Dark One's hatred made no sense, in fact, she just tried to help him. Help both of them. He had been the one who acted badly.

 

He was the one who made the mistake that triggered everything.

 

He was the one who abandoned his son.

 

Now, without his dark powers, and without all the voices, he could think more clearly than before, and he finally recognized that he had been wrong.

 

It wasn't her fault.

 

(Not for that, in fact.)

 

But he wasn't the one who came first to talk.

 

She did.

 

And it was a surprise for the sorcerer, something he didn't expect.

 

“Hello Rumplestiltskin.”

 

“Reul Gorn… I didn't know you would come there.”

 

“I have been told that something changed in you… I came here to see it by myself.”

 

“And so… tell me Reul Gorn. What do you see now ?”

 

She smiled. She was the only one, with Belle and Regina who could really defy him, and he was glad now that she could be on his side.

 

“Someone who decided to do what should have been done centuries ago. Someone who did the right choice, and became the one he was supposed to be. Someone who has still some darkness in him, but who is fighting them. I'm proud of you Rumplestiltskin.”

 

“Are you proud of yourself too ? He asked.”

 

She looked at him with surprise.

 

“About what ?”

 

“Are you the one who sent me Belle ?”

 

“No ! Of course no, I did nothing about that !”

 

“Alright, I guess I can trust you.”

 

“You changed for her, right ?”

 

“Yes, in fact… she changed me.”

 

“Sure, she did. You're really different. And you still have your power, she said with surprise.”

 

“True, but it's not my magic, it's white magic. Someone helped me about that, he said, thinking about Henry.”

 

“Maybe, but… it's how things should be.”

 

Rumple frowned.

 

“What ?”

 

Blue sighed.

 

“I have… something to tell you. A long time ago, after you were born, I met your mother. Her name was Fiona and when I met her, you were just a baby.”

 

“You never told me anything about that.”

 

“I couldn't. I was with Tiger Lily, who was your fairy god-mother, and we were there to tell Fiona that… you were the next Savior.”

 

Rumplestiltskin's eyes opened wide with surprise.

 

“I am… what ?”

 

Emma was supposed to be the Savior, before the story was changed, so… how…

 

“It's the truth, but there was a prophecy coming with it. You were supposed to die, during the Great Battle, against a terrible villain, and your mother… she couldn't accept it. So she tried to protect you, but… by doing it, she darkened her heart, and… I banished her.”

 

The sorcerer stayed silent and frozen, not being able to believe it.

 

“She didn't abandon me, he finally whispered. She never wanted to let me.”

 

“No, she didn't. But… I… just couldn't let her do what she wanted to. She was searching for the person who was supposed to kill you. But, by doing this… she became the villain. She became the one who should kill you.”

 

“Why did I never become the Savior ? He asked.”

 

“She… cut you from your destiny. With magic. Rumplestiltskin, she didn't want you to die, she… loved you.”

 

Rumple looked at her with anger.

 

“And then, tell me, Blue… Why did you do nothing ?”

 

Blue sighed with culpability.

 

“Me and Tiger Lily… well, me especially… we made a great mistake. We let you with your father, we… I didn't see how angry he was of loosing his wife.”

 

“That's why he always hated me, he said. That's why he left me.”

 

“I guess you are right, I… I am sorry Rumplestiltskin. I truly am.”

 

He looked at her. He could have been angry at her, and also hate her, try to kill her.

 

He didn't.

 

She tried to do the good thing, she had been wrong, that's true, but as himself when he became the Dark One. And she came to tell him what she did, so… yeah, he could forgive her.

 

(Himself he needed to be forgiven for many things.)

 

“I forgive you Blue, he said.”

 

And he meant it.

 

§§§§

 

Belle had a sight of exasperation. Her father came to see her, and if at first she had been glad he did, then, she realized he was there for one purpose.

 

He wanted to convince her that she was wrong.

 

And she didn't agree with him, of course.

 

Maurice thought that she was cursed, even though he saw that the former Dark One changed, the thing is that he still didn't trust him.

 

(And Belle could accept that, that he didn't believe in him. But she couldn't stand the fact that he thought that her choices were wrong.)

 

He was sure that the sorcerer put a spell on her, it was the only explanation he found.

 

“Father, how can't you understand that I am in love with him ?”

 

“Because you can't ! No one can love this man. Not after all the terrible things he did.”

 

He changed, right ? He is not the same man any more, he allowed me to save me, he let me love him. And I don't want to leave him.”

 

“You're not yourself Belle, it's the only explanation.”

 

“Why don't you believe in me ?”

 

I believe in you Belle, of course, you're my daughter and I love you. But… you can't stay with him.”

 

“And then what ? What do I do exactly ? I am not a prisoner any more, I can see you when I want to, and our people is safe. Tell me, how bad can my situation be ?”

 

“This man is a monster !”

 

“He is the one I love. Sorry father, but I didn't chose.”

 

“He killed Gaston !”

 

A great silence appeared, and Belle had a sad smile, not seeming surprised.

 

“I know, she answered. He told me. And I know it's a terrible thing, but… you have to accept it father. Gaston… was not a good man. We both know it.”

 

You accept that the man you're in love with is a murderer ? Her father said, disgusted.”

 

Just as Gaston himself, and you can't deny the fact that Rumple saved people. Listen, father, if you still think I am not myself, call the fairies. Ask them to examine me, right ? And if you don't want to tell me other things, please, go.”

 

“Belle, I…”

 

“Go, okay ? You don't want to see me being furious, and I don't want to either,” she whispered.

 

Maurice sighed, gave a sad look to his daughter, and left.

 

Belle sat down on a chair, and sighed too.

 

So, said a voice. It wasn't that bad, right ?”

 

Belle looked at the woman next to her, and smiled. She was in a tavern, it was the place she chose when her father asked to talk to her, as he didn't want to go in the “Light” Castle.

 

“I guess so, she said to Red.”

 

The woman sat next to her. After Rumplestiltskin decided to let her go outside, she met the young wolf, and became friend with her. They understood each other, in a way, both wanting adventures and love, and many other things.

 

R ed didn't tell her she was Snow White's best friend, not wanting her to become a future target for the Evil Queen (who she already was), and she talked with her for hours, happy she found someone who, just like Snow, didn't judge her for who she was.

 

Your father still doesn't accept you ?”

 

“Oh, he accepts me, but not the one I love.”

 

Red didn't know that this one was the former Dark One, in fact, they didn't know each other enough to tell the other that sort of things. She just knew that… things were complicated.

 

“He will, with time… my grand-ma herself needed time before she accepted the wolf in me. But now that I control it, things are better.”

 

“I hope you're right Red… because I don't know myself what to do.”

 

§§§§

 

Regina was furious now.

 

“I can't believe this damn imp decided not to be my ally any more, she said. He is the one who taught me magic, who showed me power and told me I should pursue my revenge. And now, what ? He just stops ! With no reason.”

 

There must be one, my dear, said her father, Henry.”

 

She sighed.

 

“Yes, maybe daddy, but… I don't see which one.”

 

“What did he tell you, exactly ?”

 

“Oh, nothing important… that I should stop trying to get revenge, that it was vain, and futile, and… other things that I don't remember.”

 

Regina didn't see the hope in her father's eyes, too taken by her desire to kill Snow White.

 

I will do everything so she will never be happy. I will kill her, destroy everything she has.”

 

Henry sighed, trying not to lose hope as he saw his dear and loved daughter being that way. He saw her eyes full of anger, hatred.

 

And pain.

 

Her pain was the thing that made her become this heartless (or seemed to be) woman who wanted to do nothing but kill someone whose bad action had just been to do a mistake. A fatal mistake for Regina, of course, but it was not more than that.

 

Henry was looking at her. He was tired of this, all of this, and he was more and more realizing that she would never give up, no matter the cost.

 

She already lost her innocence, her kindness, all these things that made her so different from Cora, and it killed him to see that his wife finally succeeded. She made Regina become just like her, and Henry couldn't stand it any more.

 

The other culprit of the story was Rumplestiltskin, and also himself, of course. Him, her father, should have protected her from Cora, from the darkness, from these things that made her fall into the dark.

 

But he failed.

 

That was also for this reason that he was still there. Because of his culpability, because of what he did (or to be more true, what he didn't), and because there was still a hope in him that everything wasn't definitely spoil.

 

He loved his daughter, of course, and he wanted her to realize she acted wrong, but he couldn't force her. So, he just stayed, waiting for a redemption that would never happen.

 

Understanding that Rumplestiltskin wouldn't help her any more, he had a sight of relief.

 

This man was seen as one of the worst people of all the realms, and if him didn't want to help Regina to pursue her revenge, well… it meant that things were really changing.

 

And so would he.

 

Regina, he said to his daughter who looked at him, you know that I love you.”

 

“Yes, she answered with a smile. I know.”

 

“And you know too that I really tried to show you this, that I tried to protect you from your mother, and that I completely failed. And I am sorry for that.”

 

Regina gave him a tender look.

 

Daddy, it's not your fault, right ? It's Snow White's ; she is the one who did all these things.”

 

“No, you're wrong.”

 

Regina looked at him with surprise ; it was the first time he dared to contradict her.

 

“What ?”

 

Your mother and Rumplestiltskin are the responsible. They are the one you should hate, your mother, especially. Snow White is innocent, and did nothing wrong. What she did was a mistake, and yes, after what she did, your fiance died and you had to marry this king. But don't blame her.”

 

“Daddy, what's the point ? Why do you tell me this ?”

 

Because I can't accept it any more ! I can't accept to see you fall more and more ! I don't want you to be hated by anyone and then be left alone, just fighting for revenge. I don't want to lose you, but more than that, I don't want you to lose yourself.”

 

What are doing daddy ?”

 

“I'm leaving my dear. I can't stand it, I'm sorry, but I'm tired of waiting for you to make the good choice.”

 

And he left, indeed.

 

“Daddy, the queen asked, you're sure of your choice ?”

 

Yes my dear… I am.”

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

She let him go. What else could she do ? She had no other options.

 

Regina made a deep sight. She just lost the only person who ever believed in her (if you excepted Daniel. And Snow at the beginning) and she realized that he did the right thing.

 

S he was a true poison for the one who were close to her. First Daniel, and now, her dad….

 

And now, she was alone…

 

No…. It wasn't entirely true. There was still someone, who was there, forced to stay here.

 

Who would never be able to leave her.

 

The Huntsman.

 

The queen let a smile arrive on her lips. Yes, he was there. She still felt no remorse for what she did to him, after all, it was his fault ! He didn't obey to her orders, he had to pay for it !

 

She knew she was wrong, but she needed to let her anger and her hatred attack someone else. And he was there, so… he would be her victim.

 

Regina didn't force her father to stay, because she cared for him. But the Huntsman ? Well, it wasn't the same thing.

 

He wasn't that important for her.

 

In fact, the truth is that… he didn't matter for her.

 

He was no one, just someone who failed to accomplish a mission, a simple mission, that is to say, just kill a princess.

 

Nothing else.

 

She was wrong, obviously.

 

And a part of her, the part which wasn't destroyed by the Evil Queen perfectly knew it.

 

§§§§

 

When the Huntsman (or Graham, as it was his real name. A name the queen never used, because she didn't know it) saw the queen enter in his room (well… room. It was her room, where he was forced to lived), he trembled.

 

H e remembered what she did to him and well he really didn't want this to happen again.

 

She seemed to be furious, as she entered in the room with a terrible look.

 

He was there, on the bed (with his clothes. Fortunately, she didn't ask him anything), trying not to show her how afraid he was.

 

The Huntsman was tired of this, and he just wanted all of this to stop.

 

Sometimes, he wanted to die. He just wanted to be free from her, from this demon who took his life from him. Who took his heart, and who now manipulated him almost all the time.

 

So yes, for him, life was a true hell.

 

The queen was walking in the room, still saying nothing, and she really seemed to be in a terrible anger. For a second, the Huntsman feared that she would take it out on him, but it didn't happen.

 

Finally, she said :

 

My dad left the castle.”

 

The Huntsman said to himself that she really was pathetic, if she arrived to this point. That is to say, talk about her problems with her Huntsman , and it showed that she r e ally was alone.

 

( But he didn't tell her that, he didn't want her to be angry at him.)

 

She could have talked with Sidney, but she really couldn't stand him, even though it was not his fault. He was just too… too in love with her. And she didn't want to have someone who would feel sympathy for her.

 

She just needed to talk with someone.

 

And as her father was gone…

 

Why ?” The man asked, more to be polite (and not wanting her to act badly if he didn't respond) than with a real interest.

 

I don't know, she lied.”

 

The Huntsman raised an eyebrow, knowing it wasn't true.

 

You know, your Majesty, he said, careful, I don't want to offend you, but… there has to be a reason. Don't you think that… it's because of your will of revenge ?”

 

She sighed. She didn't yell at him, nor hit him or punch him in the face, no.

 

She just seemed to be… tired. Exhausted from this.

 

Almost ready to give up.

 

(He hoped it was that.

 

Oh, by the magic, he really hoped .)

 

Yes… maybe. Surely, she confessed. But it changes nothing.”

 

Graham almost didn't stop himself from rolling his eyes. How stubborn she was ! Really, he couldn't support it any more.

 

Again, I don't want to offend you (the truth was this. He really didn't care any more. If she wanted to kill him, then, well… she could. Really. He almost wanted this.) but, couldn't you stop this ? I mean, try another thing, to find a hobby to occupy you, something else than murder…”

 

This time, he realized that he said the wrong words. That she wouldn't stand this, not this time. He knew it, as he felt something on his throat. She was strangling him, with her magic, and he felt himself suffocating.

 

He couldn't breathe any more, and he knew that in a time, he would live any more.

 

He looked at her, in an almost peaceful way.

 

There was a supplication in his eyes.

 

Please, finish it.

 

Please free me from this hell.

 

Oh, please, just kill me.

 

But she didn't allow him to disappear, oh no.

 

After some seconds, she released him, and he fell on the ground.

 

Her look was more furious than ever.

 

NO ! Never ! I will never stop, not until she is dead. You have to understand this, Huntsman. Snow White ruined my life !”

 

Graham stand up, breathing with difficulties. He should have stopped, surely. He should have, well… shut up, nod and say nothing else.

 

But he couldn't. He just…. couldn't. Because it was unfair, and because all of this didn't feel right.

 

And how the hell did she do such a thing, hum ? What did this princess do to you ? You talked about a secret, but how can a secret destroy or ruin a life ?”

 

Because of this, I lost someone I loved !” The queen finally screamed.

 

But how ? What happened exactly to you Regina ?”

 

It was the first time he called her by her name, but she said nothing about that. She had the impression to face her father, and maybe that she needed someone who would stand against her. Maybe that it was the reason why she didn't kill him.

 

Because of her, my fiance, Daniel, died. My mom ripped out his heart, and she crushed it !”

 

The Huntsman had an incredulous air.

 

But… what does it have to do with Snow White ? She didn't cause his death, she didn't kill him. She is innocent !”

 

She is not ! She is the one who did this, all of this ! She is the one who has to pay.”

 

You became the queen then. Now, you have the power. It wasn't that terrible, was it ?”

 

Again, she strangled him, coming closer to him, whispering to his ear :

 

You know nothing about me. You know nothing about my life, she said, as he suffocated again. You don't know what I suffered, and how much I suffered.”

 

What about me your majesty ? What about my personal sufferings ?

 

What about what you did to me ?

 

She let him go again, still furious.

 

Maybe, but… the thing I know is that… Snow White doesn't deserve to die.”

 

The queen shrugged, tired by this.

 

What you think doesn't matter, Huntsman. Now shut up, and kiss me.”

 

§§§§

 

What happened then well… wasn't good for the Huntsman.

 

In fact, it was terrible.

 

As he felt the queen's lips on his own, he thought oh, I'm completely fucked up .

 

He really didn't like sleeping with the queen, because he was in a forced relationship. She had his heart, she could force him to do anything with her, so… it didn't make this being really pleasant.

 

It was a euphemism, being with her was a true hell .

 

When they slept together, really, he felt as if he wasn't himself.

 

And it was this, he couldn't behave normally in these conditions, he just… he just had to obey.

 

She never looked at him during these moments, as if she didn't want to see the disgust that was on his face, as if she didn't want to look at what she did of him.

 

No one.

 

Just something.

 

A puppet, who couldn't act, or feel, or think .

 

And it was for the best, she thought.

 

But, as she looked at him in the eyes, almost by accident, she saw it.

 

The pain.

 

The sadness.

 

The despair.

 

And it froze her.

 

Because the Huntsman's look seemed to be so… full of suffering that it almost hurt her.

 

And it reminded her of something.

 

Herself.

 

She was almost sure that her eyes looked the same when she was with King Leopold.

 

When they were, well… together.

 

In this relationship she never accepted, never wanted, never…

 

Oh.

 

She almost screamed, because she realized the truth, at that precise moment. Something she never saw before, or preferred to hide to herself.

 

She was becoming like him.

 

Like her husband, who never loved her, but tried to act like a husband, in a way Regina never liked. Not with him, in fact.

 

What she was doing to the Huntsman was exactly the same thing that Leopold did to her.

 

And this, it hurt her.

 

Because she realized that, after becoming like her mother (a thing she used to not to want), she was becoming like this man that destroyed what was still good in her.

 

She stopped.

 

She couldn't do that, continue this, it wasn't…

 

It wasn't good.

 

Rapidly, she stopped all of this, and pushed the Huntsman away.

 

“Go, she finally ordered to him. Leave this room, right now, and go in yours.”

 

Graham didn't need to be asked twice and he left.

 

Some seconds after, she sat down on her bed, trembling.

 

She took her head in her hands, and she began to cry.

 

Now , she really felt alone.

 

§§§§

 

In another place, someone Regina cared about was trying to find a solution about all this situation.

 

Henry didn't leave without any reason, or without a plan.

 

So, some hours after he left Regina's castle, he appeared at Rumplestiltskin's door.

 

The former Dark One looked at him, a little surprised, trying to remember if he ever saw this man before this day.

 

My name is Henry, the other one said then, I am Regina's father.”

 

Oh, yes… Cora's husband.

 

He looked at him, feeling sympathy for the man who married an evil witch, and saw his daughter follow the same way without being able to do anything. He remembered him, the younger him, the man he was before marrying Cora.

 

And if at that time, he laughed at him in secret, now, he was sad for him.

 

And you're Rumplestiltskin, Henry added.”

 

There was anger in his voice, because of what he did to his daughter, and Rumplestiltskin could easily understand it, especially now, as he was himself again.

 

Yes, I am…. Do you want to enter ?”

 

Henry nodded his head.

 

In fact, I came here for that. I wanted to talk with you, about Regina.

 

Okay.”

 

Belle was still in the tavern, so he was alone in the castle, but he didn't hesitate to let him enter there. After all, he was the one who had magic, if the other wanted to attack him, it would be easy for Rumple to defend himself.

 

They both sat down on chairs (Rumple didn't offer him tea or something else, the man just wanted to talk, apparently), and a silence settled between them, a silence that Rumplestiltskin finally broke.

 

Why… why are you here exactly ?”

 

Henry made a heavy sight.

 

Why did you let me enter in ?” He said, answering with another question.

 

As I told your daughter, I changed. I am not the same man I was before.”

 

Not the same as you were when you taught magic to Cora ? (And even more deary, the sorcerer almost answered). Or to Regina ?” He asked.

 

His tone was full of accusation, something that, again, Rumplestiltskin accepted and received without protesting. He was the one who turned Cora and Regina into bad people (well, maybe that Cora was twisted before he knew her. Oh, and there was Zelena too that he… well…didn't treat in a good way. He had to take care of this too, he thought), so, it was normal that this man was angry at him.

 

In fact, yes.”

 

The truth, Rumplestiltskin, Henry said, is that… I don't care, right ? The thing is that, I just want my daughter to stop this. To stop wanting revenge, and… I want her to be happy. But, the thing she doesn't understand is that… she will never be happy if she tries to have her revenge.”

 

I completely agree with you, muttered Rumplestiltskin. That's the reason why we have to stop her.”

 

Rumplestiltskin, I need your help, the man said. Help me make my daughter be as she used to be before.”

 

I can't really do that, said the wizard. But I guess we can at least try to stop her. Defeat her.”

 

Henry smiled, a true smile, this time.

 

Well… if the idea is just to stop her, without trying to kill her, I… I think we can try this.”

 

Rumplestiltskin had a smile too.

 

So, I guess we have a deal.”

 

Henry just nodded.

Chapter Text

What do you think we can do ?” Asked Henry to Rumplestiltskin.

 

He grinned. The situation was funny. It may be the first time someone asked him for advice. At least, for advice which had nothing to do with evil things .

 

I don't really know. Do you have any ideas ?”

 

No. I just… I just left Regina's castle after I learned that you decided to stop helping her pursuing her revenge. I just… I didn't really think about it, I just wanted it to stop so… I came here.”

 

The sorcerer started as he heard him, really surprised. Because, as far as he knew it, in his version of the story, Henry was the one who stayed the longest time with the queen (in fact, he was the only one who stayed with her and who wanted it). In the end, he was even supposed to die, being the thing the queen loved most.

 

So, if he left her, it really meant that this was the end for the queen, and that Henry did think that his daughter could be saved.

 

Rumplestiltskin believed in it too, he remembered the Regina of the other version (the true version. It was still strange to think that). He remembered how happy and peaceful she seemed to be, and he remembered her relationship with her son.

 

Now that he was himself again, he wanted to do everything so his apprentice would be able to have this in this world. Or something close to it, he swore.

 

In fact, as he looked at Henry, something changed in him.

 

Before, he never really paid attention to him, in this version, or in the other one. He saw him as Cora's fiance, an obstacle for his story with the young woman, and he never really felt sympathy for him.

 

He never thought that the prince's life would be a hell, living with a woman without a heart, without being able to be loved by her.

 

He never had any thought about him, he never cared for him, never cared about the fact that he was more and more loosing his child. Just as Rumplestiltskin did himself with Bae, except that the roles were reversed.

 

And now…

 

Now he was seeing an old man, tired, exhausted, just wanting all of this to end.

 

And then, he realized what his actions cost to him, that what him and Cora did to Regina had consequences on him.

 

And the wizard felt guilty for this.

 

I am sorry .

 

“I'm sure we can fix it, said the sorcerer with a confidence he didn't have. She isn't lost.”

 

“If a man like you succeeded to find redemption, then she surely can.”

 

Rumplestiltskin nodded, knowing how badly seen he was by Regina's father, who was completely right.

 

“I don't think you can say that. I mean… I haven't find redemption yet, it's just… just a beginning now”, the sorcerer admitted.

 

“But… you will help me, right ?”

 

Of course.”

 

“How do we proceed ?”

 

“By steps I guess. We can't stop her now, not if we want her to redeem herself.”

 

It has to be her decision, approved the man, I agree with that, indeed. We can't force her if we want her to realize she made mistakes.”

 

“But it will take time, you know.”

 

“Of course. I am ready to wait, if it can help my little girl to be on the good way again.”

 

Rumplestiltskin smiled. He wished he had a father like this, instead of having, well… the father (if you could say that) he had.

 

And, if he wasn't wrong, Regina did know the chance she had. That she used to have, in fact.

 

But, Henry continued, we can't let her continue to do her evil things. I mean… kill innocent people, or threaten them.”

 

“That could be, in fact, a good beginning in our plan to stop her. We could, at first put a spoke in her wheel.”

 

“You are a powerful wizard Rumplestiltskin. I never… I never liked you, as you certainly already know it.”

 

I'm not the one who will tell you that you should have trusted me before. I know that I am not, well… trustworthy.

 

Indeed. But now, I think you can help my daughter. I don't know if you really changed, but today, for the first time, you tried to divert my daughter from the project you put her in.”

 

I will do everything I can in order to stop her. Don't worry, I am more powerful than her, it won't be that difficult for me.”

 

“Why didn't you do that before ? Why did you… change your mind ? What happened ?”

 

“I almost lost the woman I love and I realized that if I didn't do the good thing, I would never be able to find my son, or to see him again.”

 

Y es, things were really different now, as he was ready to tell almost everything about him to a man he barely knew and who could be in the end a traitor. But he didn't care, even if Regina learned this, it would change nothing. He was still more powerful than her, and she wouldn't be able to hurt Belle or Bae.

 

And if he wanted to be trusted by Henry, he had to tell him the truth.

 

The other man nodded his head, understanding.

 

“I guess I understand your reasons now. And then ?”

 

We talk with her. We try to find a way to stop her, by talking to her. Maybe that with time, she will finally understand she has to stop.”

 

What if… what if she doesn't ?” A sked Henry, almost in a shy way, seeming to be uncertain.

 

We stop her by using force. We take her magic from her, or find a way so she won't be able to hurt Snow White and her prince.”

 

Henry nodded, again, listening carefully.

 

I guess, he said with sadness, that, if the other thing s don't work, well… we won't have many other choices.”

 

They both agreed on that.

 

Henry had no place to go, as the only one he had was at Regina's place.

 

So, Rumplestiltskin asked him if he wanted to stay at the castle. After all, it was the perfect place, it would be protected from Regina, and there, Rumplestiltskin would be able to ask anything about Regina to her dad.

 

(Even though he may already knew everything about her.)

 

And he accepted.

 

Rumplestiltskin just hoped that Belle would accept Henry's presence, as he didn't ask her for this.

 

(He knew her. She would).

 

§§§§

 

During this time, Belle was still at the tavern. After their conversation, Red left, in order to go to see Snow White (who was still hiding herself from the queen), and Belle was now alone. Half-sad, half-happy, as she hoped that her dad would finally accept her choices.

 

Plunged in her thoughts, she finally heard a voice she never heard before, and turned her head.

 

It was not a man, but a dwarf, talking with another one.

 

B elle looked at them, listening and not wanting to interrupt them.

 

The first one seemed to be lost, and the second looked like someone really, really strict. Belle immediately decided that she didn't like him.

 

I don't know what is happening to me. I just… don't know what it is.”

 

“It's nothing Dreamy, the other dwarf answered. You don't have to worry about this.”

 

“But...”

 

“I already told you, it's nothing !”

 

Frozen, Dreamy looked at the other dwarf with astonishment, not seeming to be convinced by this answer.

 

“Excuse me ?”

 

Dreamy turned his head, seeing a young lady looking at him.

 

I couldn't stop myself from listening to your conversation, I'm sorry, but… I didn't really understand your story. I am sorry if I am bothering you.”

 

The dwarf sat down just in front of her, the other dwarfs talking with each other.

 

“Oh no, no, you're not. My name is Dreamy, he said, offering her his hand.”

 

“And my name is Belle, she said, squeezing his hand. I'm happy to meet you.”

 

“So am I.”

 

So tell me, Dreamy… what's your story ?”

 

I… I met someone not a long time ago. A fairy. Her name is Nova, and we became friends, or something like that, and… I don't know.”

 

“You don't know what you feel toward her ? Asked Belle, not hiding her smile.”

 

Yes !” Exclaimed Dreamy, happy that he found someone who completely understood him.

 

It was the first time it happened, oh of course, he had his brothers, but even them didn't know his feelings for Nova. Or, if they knew that he liked her, they had no idea of what he was feeling. They didn't understand him the way this Belle seemed to do.

 

He didn't know her since a long time (well, he talked to her for just some minutes, nothing more) but he felt as if she could help him realize what he was feeling. Unlike the dwarf with who he just talked, and who didn't seem to want to consider Dreamy' feeling as being something which mattered.

 

But her… she was different from everyone he ever met.

 

He talked to her then, told her how he felt or thought he felt toward Nova. She listened carefully, not interrupting him, seeming to take a real interest in what he was saying.

 

Dreamy said how strange it felt to be with Nova, but even though it was difficult for him to find words to describe , he was able to say that it was always good to talk with her, to be with her.

 

As he finished to talk, he saw Belle beginning to smile, and he frowned.

 

“What ? What are you thinking ?”

 

“Nothing… Just that… this is not that difficult, you know. To figure out what your situation is.”

 

“And what is it ?” He asked, not knowing what would be the answer.

 

She looked at him in a strange way, not as if he was an idiot, but as if, well… the answer was very simple and that he was too blind or innocent to see it. Her smile was brilliant, and real.

 

“You're in love with her, of course !”

 

He started, stupefied.

 

Wait… love ?

 

“They say that dwarfs can't love.”

 

Belle rolled her eyes, understanding why it took so much time for Dreamy to realize the truth.

 

It's absurd. Everyone can love. Even dwarfs too. You know, if I am certain of it it's because… I fell in love with someone. A Beast. I saw the real him, behind the mask. The man he truly was.”

 

“How did things end ?”

 

Dreamy felt happy as he saw Belle's smile grows larger.

 

“I broke his curse. He let me… he let me do this. He let me save him. And now we are happy, even though my dad still doesn't accept my choice. But I don't loose hope.”

 

“Tell me Belle, what do you think I should do ?”

 

The young woman took his hands in hers.

 

Go to see her, she said with determination, she asked you to meet her, right ? It's for a reason, for sure. She loves you.”

 

“You think so ?”

 

There was hope in Dreamy' eyes, so much hope that Belle just smiled, and realized that the other dwarf was wrong. Of course that Dreamy was in love with Nova. It was so obvious.

 

“I am sure of that.”

 

§§§§

 

It's a happy and reli e ved Belle who came back to the castle, more than she was after she talked with her dad.

 

As she entered into what she could now call her home, she smiled, seeing Rumplestiltskin just there and she ran into his arms, embracing him.

 

And again, her smile grew more larger than ever, as he replied to this. It felt so good, she realized, to be with him, but not as it was before.

 

Because now, he really trusted her, and she could thank the fact that he had this vision.

 

Now they were together. He wasn't perfect, of course, he wasn't entirely good, but he was trying to.

 

Belle started as she saw a man she didn't know who was just behind her lover.

 

“Hum… hello ? Who… who are you ?”

 

She walked in his direction, trying to figure out if she ever met him before.

 

My name is Henry and I am Regina's father. She is the queen.”

 

“Oh, I… I see. Why are you here ?”

 

Rumple was the one to answer.

 

He is here to help us stop Regina. He doesn't want the queen to be evil any more, he cares for his daughter and just wants her to stop her revenge. So I proposed him to stay there, as the castle is big enough for all of us.”

 

“And when Regina will stop or will be stopped, I will go, I promise”, Henry added.

 

B elle gave Rumple an approving look. He was on the good way for redemption, she already knew it, but knowing that he wanted for real to help Regina to find her redemption and a happy ending (as it seemed to be his purpose too) showed how much he changed.

 

I'm so proud of you Rumple.”

 

“I guess it's a yes.”

 

She laughed.

 

§§§§

 

“Tell me, he asked her as they were together, how was your day. Your encounter with your father, was it… good ? Or, at least, was it not that bad ?”

 

“It was a disaster, it's the only thing I can say. My father is not stupid, but he can be stubborn sometimes.”

 

As you are sometimes too.”

 

She hit him a little on the arm, with a false furious air, rapidly replaced by a smile.

 

Well… maybe that you're not wrong. But it doesn't change the fact that he doesn't want to accept me as I am, or you… well… as you are.”

 

He may not be wrong, said the former Dark One.”

 

She took his hand.

 

“Hey, she told him, look at me. I know that he is not completely wrong, but I know you, okay ? I know that you want to change, and that you're changing. And I won't change my mind, despite my father's opinion.”

 

And she kissed him, just to show him that she didn't care about what her father said.

 

“And then ?”

 

“Oh, nothing. I talked a little with Red.”

 

Oh yes, Red. The wolf, if he goodly remembered, Snow White's best friend.

 

Oh, I almost forgot it, Belle added then. I met someone, a man. Well, not exactly a man, a dwarf, and I tried to help him.”

 

“About what ?”

 

“Well, he fell in love with a fairy and he wanted to know what he was feeling.”

 

“Wait, asked Rumplestiltskin, freezing, did you say it was a fairy ?”

 

“Yes… Why ?”

 

R umplestiltskin didn't really know what to say. He just had the feeling that a bad thing was going to happen, and he knew that Belle wouldn't like it.

 

Fairies weren't supposed to love, or to get a happy ending. They were the one who helped people getting one, that's all.

 

Nothing else, nothing more.

 

And in all the things which were about the fairies, it was one those that Rumple really despised, because he found it totally absurd.

 

Why people who talked about love and happy endings couldn't have it for them ? It made no sense !

 

Having an intuition, he told Belle that he had to check something. He went into his room, in order to look at the storybook Regina gave to him, and he found his answer.

 

Yes, Blue did separate Nova (if it was the fairy who was included in this story) from Dreamy. Whose name became then Grumpy (oh, yes, one of the seven dwarfs, he remembered it now) and turned into someone unhappy and bitter).

 

Oh, what a wonderful decision it was my dear Blue !

 

He came back to see Belle. He couldn't let this happen (apparently, Nova was on the list that they gave to him, the one with the people he was supposed to help getting a happy ending), and he didn't want Belle's new friend to be hurt. Because it would hurt Belle herself then and he really didn't want it to happen.

 

Rumple, what's wrong ?”

 

Nothing, I just have to stop a fairy from doing a great mistake .

 

He smiled.

 

Nothing, I… I have something important to do, right now. Hum… why don't you make Henry visit the castle while I am not here ?”

 

He then saw some disappointment in her eyes, as she understood that it was something he wanted to hide from her, as before.

 

“Rumple ?”

 

Oh yes, he remembered, no more liars. No more secrets.

 

If he wasn't wrong, it was because of things like that that the other him and the other Belle weren't together in the other world.

 

Okay. Right.

 

He sighed.

 

“The thing you have to know about the fairies, Belle, is that… they are not supposed to be involved in a relationship with someone.”

 

She frowned.

 

“But… why ?”

 

“I don't know, I never understood the reason, but… it is the truth. And… I'm afraid that the Blue Fairy is going to do something against it, and I want to stop it.”

 

The young woman nodded, a serious air on the face.

 

I get it. I… I hope that she will listen to you.”

 

And then, she embraced him, in order to gave him courage, and he smiled. She believed him ! She believed that he was telling her the truth !

 

I hope this too, he told her, before leaving.”

 

§§§§

 

Rumplestiltskin didn't really know the place where he was, as he wasn't used to go to the fairy's place. Which he knew, of course (he was Rumplestiltskin after all, he knew almost everything), but where he never went.

 

And here he was, just behind the Blue Fairy, who, some seconds after he arrived, turned back and looked at him. She frowned, and addressed him a little and nervous smile, not seeming well-assured to be with him.

 

“Hello Rumplestiltskin, she said, trying to stay calm, why are you here ?”

 

“I wanted to talk with you Blue. About something I learned not a long time ago.”

 

“And what is it ?”

 

“The story of a dwarf, loving a fairy.”

 

“Oh yes, answered Blue. I was going to make it stop.”

 

“Don't do that, he replied.”

 

She looked at him with surprise and astonishment.

 

Why ? Why are you giving me orders ?”

 

“It's not… it's not an order, but an advice. You shouldn't do that Blue. It would be a terrible mistake.”

 

“I still know what I am doing Rumplestiltskin, okay ? I don't need you to tell me what to do.”

 

“I am sure of that, but the thing is that for this, you're wrong.”

 

“Why do you even care about that ? You're not in charge of the fairies, if I am not wrong, right ?”

 

“Yes, it's true. But Belle… she cares about this dwarf, hum… Dreamy, if I goodly remember. She is the one who told him that what he felt was love.”

 

“Dwarfs can't love. Just as fairies themselves.”

 

“When you say that, Blue, do you mean that this is an inability, or an interdiction ? I would personally think that it's the second option.”

 

“You have nothing to say about that, Rumplestiltskin.”

 

Why ? Because I know nothing about love ? Or because I am the former Dark One ?”

 

“You don't understand. If Nova goes with him, she will never be able to be a good fairy godmother.”

 

Oh, really ? I would have thought the contrary. Because, you see, Blue, I always found this extremely paradoxical. Because… you, the fairies, always keep talking about love as being one of the greatest things that exist, or about happy endings.”

 

“And then ?”

 

The strange thing is that, if fairies can't have this, how can they want other people to be able to have this ? I mean… don't you think that if Nova can't be with the one she loves, she will be sad, alone, and bitter ? And if it's thecase, how will she be able to help someone to get a happy ending, if she can't have one ? Will she want to do it ? And don't tell me that her job is her happy ending, okay ? And don't tell me either that it's the same for Dreamy, that searching for fairy dust is the only thing that will make him happy.”

 

I… I don't know. Maybe that… that you're not that wrong, she admitted”

 

Rumplestiltskin smiled.

 

“I was sure that we would finally agree on something.”

Chapter Text

But, she added, the thing is that… fairies are not supposed to love.”

 

Rumplestiltskin's smile faded. The n , he rolled his eyes.

 

Really dearie ? I am not sure that you do have arguments about this subject. I mean… not with your past.”

 

Blue raised an eyebrow.

 

“What do you mean ?”

 

Rumple grinned.

 

You know, I never really showed you that, but I really know who you are Blue. In fact, I know a part of your story that I am sure, you don't want to talk about.”

 

“What is it ?”

 

Your story with this fairy, of course ! Green, if I goodly remember, even though the name she likes to use is Tinkerbell. A better one, I think, I never clearly understood the idea of being named by colors. I find it… well…”

 

“I don't think that it's really important ! Interrupted Blue. Tell me, what do you know ?”

 

That you and her used to be in love and together. But that you stopped this one day. Oh, and also that you almost banished her from the fairies, but, if I'm not wrong, she is not really well considered by the others. As she tried to help the Queen.”

 

“How do you know all of that ? Asked Blue, suddenly worried.”

 

The former Dark One had another of his terrifying smiles.

 

“Why do you even ask ? I'm Rumplestiltskin, which means that I know everything. Or almost.”

 

“Will you try to use that against me ?”

 

The sorcerer looked at her with surprise.

 

“Of course not. I didn't say that to threaten you, just to make you realize that you were very hypocritical.”

 

“Why ? Because I don't say everything about me ?”

 

No. Because you can't both have a relationship with someone and pretend that fairies can't be in love and with someone. I am sorry, but it's hypocritical.”

 

“I ended this. It was a mistake.”

 

“It doesn't change the fact that you did have a love story. And yes, you ended it, but don't tell me that you don't regret the fact that it stopped.”

 

Blue had a look full of sadness and guilt. For some seconds, she was lost in her memories, and it was as if she didn't see Rumplestiltskin any more.

 

And she smiled, a smile so sad that Rumplestiltskin almost felt himself sad for her.

 

Then, she sighed.

 

I'm the Blue Fairy. I am the one who is supposed to give the other a good example. I have to help people, to help them find their happy endings, it's true. But I have also to follow some rules, rules that are not all coming from me, but that are old and that we respect since centuries.”

 

“And the fact that fairies can't be with someone, it's… well… one of them.”

 

“Yes.”

 

“It's an old law, why don't you just… I don't know, make this disappear ?”

 

I never tried, she confessed. I thought about it, of course, but… I never thought I had the legitimacy to do it.”

 

Rumplestiltskin rolled his eyes.

 

“Well, just give it a try.”

 

Do you think it's that easy ?”

 

You are a fairy, you have time, you know ? You could have tried to do this years, even centuries ago.”

 

“Being a fairy, it's not… it's not a thing you do without difficulties. It's more difficult than you think it is, so yes, I did other things, things that I thought were more important than that.”

 

In fact, Rumplestiltskin had to admit it, the fairy was not entirely wrong about it.

 

What about trying to stop the curse from being cast ? He asked to himself. But then, he had to tell himself that yeah, she surely tried, and failed (in the other version of the story, not this one. He would make sure that the curse would never be cast ), so he didn't have to blame her for that.

 

Alright, he said. I don't ask you to change everything in the fairies' organization, but… just let them be together.”

 

Why is it so important for you ? She asked him again.”

 

Because, I do believe that you're wrong (the truth was that he never really thought about it before Belle told him this) And I do this for Belle, and for them too. They deserve happiness.”

 

“Since when do you care for other' happiness ?”

 

You saw me, right ? I changed. I know it's difficult to believe, but it's the truth.”

 

“But it's not the only reason, right ?”

 

H e smiled. Yes, Blue was not stupid, for sure. She knew him better than that, he realized. And the truth was that, without Emma' and Henry's request, he wouldn't have done it. In fact, not with that determination.

 

Just know that someone… gave me a mission, if I can say that.”

 

And what is it ?”

 

Help people get a happy ending. And yes, I know, I may not be the best person for this, but… it's something I have to do.”

 

“For what reason ?”

 

“Because my second chance depends on it.”

 

§§§§

 

He continued to talk with her for some hours, while in that moment Nova and Dreamy were talking together too.

 

And, in the end, he really persuaded her.

 

They would stay together. But under some conditions. They would stay there, still working for the fairies or in the mine, but they wouldn't be separated.

 

Blue decided to explain this to the other dwarf, the one who wanted to stop this, the one who was persuaded that dwarfs weren't supposed to love. At first, he tried to refuse, arguing that things like this never happened before, and that it shouldn't be.

 

That it should never happen.

 

At Rumplestiltskin's surprise, Blue had been really firm, giving him the same arguments Rumplestiltskin gave her before.

 

Well, she added too. Yes, it never happened, it's true. But, it's not for this reason that it shouldn't be now. Maybe that it's time to change this.”

 

H e tried to protest, but she was the Blue Fairy after all, and when the Black Fairy is against you and doesn't agree with you, you can't say something.

 

And this time, it really was a good thing.

 

Rumplestiltskin almost laughed when he saw the dwarf finally agree, despite being against it, and he left.

 

The sorcerer looked at the fairy with approval.

 

Well, congratulations. What about now ?”

 

“Now ? Well… we are going to see them.”

 

§§§§

 

It was a perfect evening, Nova thought. She was there, in this beautiful place, with the man that she loved, and they were looking at this wonderful spectacle that was just under their eyes.

 

S he couldn't have been happier, just as Dreamy himself.

 

But then, a voice broke the silence just appeared between them some seconds before, a calm and peaceful silence.

 

“Nova !”

 

They both started, and turned back, standing up, almost looking like children being caught while doing something they shouldn't do.

 

In front of them, there was the Blue Fairy, who was with a man on her side that none of them recognized, that they never saw. He seemed to be a normal man, but it was almost sure that he had some powers. In fact, he appeared to.

 

S lowly, as she recognized the woman just there, Nova began to tremble, almost sure that bad things were going to happen.

 

It was Blue ! The Blue Fairy, the one almost everyone saw as a role model, a wonderful fairy that she admired so much !

 

A fairy that she had no desire to disappoint, for sure, and it was going to happen.

 

She knew it, she knew the fact that fairies couldn't be with people, but… it was just… She just couldn't not do this. She loved Dreamy so much, and she wanted to be with him, and…

 

O h, she just wanted Blue to understand . And she was afraid, so afraid that she wouldn't.

 

She then tried to stay firm and she took Dreamy' hand in hers, in order to show to Blue that, at least, she wouldn't give up. Not without showing her that what she had with the dwarf was true.

 

Blue walked into their direction, with a serious air on her face. She didn't really seem to disapprove, but the two lovers stayed a little afraid.

 

S ome seconds passed, and the fairy arrived in front of them. And then, without any warning, she took Nova in her arms.

 

After, she detached herself from the other fairy, who was looking at her with astonishment, and she smiled at her with pride.

 

“I'm proud of you Nova.”

 

“Wh… What ?”

 

You're doing something I never had the courage to do. Fighting against something you don't agree with, and you're doing this for yourself.”

 

“You're… not blaming me ?”

 

“No, I'm not. I approve you. And I know that without this man, I wouldn't be doing this”, she said, looking at Rumplestiltskin.

 

“Who are you ?” Asked Nova.

 

“Just call me the Sorcerer,” answered Rumplestiltskin.

 

He didn't want to be known as the Dark One any more, nor as Rumplestiltskin. It would be better if the people who never met Rumplestiltskin thought that he was dead. Or that he disappeared in another world. And yes, he knew that the Sorcerer was supposed to be Merlin, but this one was gone, so it would harm no one if he took his place.

 

Blue looked at him with surprise, but then she nodded, understanding. Yes, if he wanted to have a fresh start, the good thing would be to be known under another name, another identity.

 

And Nova smiled at him.

 

“Thank you for what you did for us.”

 

“In fact, I am not the one you should thank. But someone else, a person named Belle.”

 

At that moment, something appeared in the dwarf's eyes. He understood who was just in front of them, as Belle told him a little about this “Beast” she help freeing himself from his personal curse. But he said nothing.

 

§§§§

 

The following day, Belle came to see him with a happy smile on her face.

 

“I talked with Dreamy today. He told me what you did, the fact that you persuaded the Blue Fairy not to separate them. I'm proud of you. “

 

“Belle, he answered, you don't have to be proud of me. Because, you know, it isn't really coming from me. You're the one who allowed it. You're not the only one, of course, but yes, you're helping me. I know that I wouldn't be acting that way if you weren't there. I'm changing, it's true, but it's just the beginning, and I don't think it's over.”

 

She smiled at him and took his hands.

 

“Rumple… I know that, but the thing is that it's not just me. It's coming from you too, this is who you are, and I am proud of you.”

 

“Thanks Belle… I think you're the only one who believed in me.”

 

“I wouldn't be that sure if I were you. I mean… with the people that you helped yesterday, there are now two people ready to say that the “Sorcerer” helped them.”

 

“Oh… you know about that ?”

 

“Yes, and I think that it's a good idea.”

 

“Don't you think that I'm hiding myself again behind a title ?”

 

She thought about it some seconds, and then, she turned her head.

 

“I don't think so… I think that, as you're not the Dark One any more, you have to show yourself as you are. And you are a Sorcerer. The only thing I would have to say, is that it's a little egocentric.”

 

“Hey ! Protested Rumplestiltskin it was Merlin's title, and I think I deserve it ! After all, I am as powerful as him. And it's less bad than the “Dark One”, it sounds less terrible.”

 

“It's true. And now, what are you going to do ?”

 

“I don't know. I think that I will make a pause, he answered. For a moment, in fact.”

 

Belle began to laugh.

 

“I agree with that.”

 

§§§§

 

Blue made a deep sigh. What Rumplestiltskin told her some days ago made her think about it. About her past relationship with Tinkerbell, how she ended this, how the fairy tried to save Regina, the Evil Queen, and how she stopped her from doing this.

 

How she almost took her wings.

 

How the fairy had been ostracized from the other fairies.

 

And by the magic, the fairy truly regretted it.

 

Since then, the fairy lived in a house far from the other, and this day, Blue decided to go to see her.

 

Tinkerbell did open her door to her, but she didn't let her enter.

 

Tink… the Blue Fairy said with a hopeful voice.”

 

“Blue…” Answered Tink in a cold and sharp voice, noticing despite that the way the other fairy called her.

 

A silence appeared between them, a cold one, in fact, as Tinkerbell looked at Reul Gorn with anger and maybe also sadness.

 

“Why are you here ?” Asked the green fairy, trying to end this conversation as fast as possible.

 

“I wanted to see you.”

 

“I could see that by myself Blue, tell me the real reason. You want to go further, right ? Now that I am alone, you want to take my powers from me ?

 

“This is not my intention, it never was.”

 

“Really ? After all the things we lived together, you still think that you can lie to me ? I know you Blue, you wouldn't come there without a purpose. So, tell me what it is.”

 

“I wanted to apologize for what I did to you.”

 

“Oh… you want to tell me I am sorry ? Well, it's a little late for that, don't you think ? And then what, I should answer a Thank you Blue, of course, I forgive you, in fact, I never blame you for that ? Never.”

 

She then tried to close her door.

 

“Wait ! Blue said, by putting her hand on it.”

 

Tinkerbell looked at her, and there was so much sadness in her eyes, that Blue felt her heart break. The green fairy was right, she shouldn't forgive her, she didn't deserve that, not yet.

 

“I know this, okay ? Just… please, let me enter.”

 

Tink hesitated, just for a second, and Blue hoped again.

 

She sighed.

 

“Alright. But don't expect me to be indulgent.”

 

Blue nodded.

 

“I just want to talk with you, and tell you that I am sorry. And that I was wrong.”

 

As she entered, Tink asked herself if she did a good thing or not.

 

Despite it, she began to hope too.

 

(After all, she still cared for Blue, even if she was angry at her.)

 

§§§§

 

When Belle saw a woman with wings who was dressed up in green just appearing in front of her, she started.

 

“Am I at Rumplestiltskin's house ? Or, as I should say, the Sorcerer's ?”

 

“Hum… yes. It's here, hum… Who are you ?”

 

Oh, I am sorry, I didn't introduce myself, my name is Tinkerbell.”

 

“And you're a fairy. Why would a fairy want to see Rumplestiltskin ?”

 

I wanted to talk with him and thank him”

 

Belle almost began to laugh.

 

Her too ? After Blue, Dreamy and Nova, the list was beginning to become more and more large.

 

Okay, if you want… He must be somewhere in the castle, I don't really know where, it is a very large place after. I can find him if you want.”

 

“Well thank you.”

 

The Sorcerer didn't really know what to expect when Belle told him that a certain Tinkerbell was searching for him. Certainly not to be thanked.

 

Why exactly me ?”

 

Blue and I… talked. For hours. I still don't forgive her but she promised me that I would be able to come back with the fairies, and that she would change things.”

 

And I guess that there are many things to change in the fairies' organization.”

 

T inkerbell had a little laugh.

 

Well… yeah. You have no idea.”

 

The three of them began to laugh.

 

And I talked with Nova too, apparently things are not that bad, at least, according to the fairies' standards, but I do think that yes, nothing changed since a too long time.”

 

“I would have never thought that someday I would help the fairies. The fairies and I, well… we are not really friends. We never were.”

 

Of course, it was obviously both because of Fiona herself, the Black Fairy, who abandoned him, but it was also because of the Blue Fairy herself, even though it was for wrong reasons.

 

He was the one who abandoned his son, she just tried to help him. Maybe not in the good way, but she just had good intentions, he couldn't deny her that.

 

“I am happy to know that things are changing.”

 

And it's not the end, you can trust me.”

 

“Tell-me, Tink… where are you going now ?”

 

“With the fairies. That won't be really easy to come back, but, at least I can try. And I have myself some things to do.”

 

“Which are ? Asked Rumple.”

 

“I want to see the Queen. Regina. I tried to help her in the past, but she didn't listen to me, and because of her, I was almost banished from the fairies. I… know that I should have tried more, and in fact, I don't really know if I have to blame myself or her for what happened. For how she changed, and for all these things she did.”

 

You don't have to feel bad Tinkerbell, the Sorcerer said. It's not your fault, but mine and Cora. Regina made her own choices, it's true, and she chose darkness, but… Yes, we manipulated her, and guided her in the road we wanted her to follow. You have nothing to do with this, the fact that you tried to help her when no one believed in her any more shows that you did no mistakes.”

 

“Thanks. I guess you're right. Even though I am still sorry I couldn't help her find happiness.”

 

“Don't worry… maybe it's not too late.”

 

§§§§

 

A dark place.

 

It was the night, but she wasn't afraid. She was used to it, to places like that.

 

Now it was time, and Mulan let a smile arrive on her face as she realized she was not far from the place where she wanted to go.

 

Finally !

 

Very soon, she would finally fight the Yaoguai, and kill it !

 

Chapter Text

I t had been a harsh, long and terrible trip.

 

Yes, Mulan really agreed with that, but it truly worth it.

 

But the thing is that she needed it, she needed to go on this quest, in order to get rid off the bad memories she had from the past.

 

It wasn't time, not right now, in fact, the sun would soon rise, and she really needed to sleep, just as the creature itself apparently.

 

She would get some rest, after all, she was after this creature since months and she almost never slept.

 

The creature wouldn't be able to escape, she swore it.

 

§§§§

 

It did it.

 

It left.

 

And the thing that Mulan didn't know, is that the creature came to see her, as she was sleeping.

 

Philippe looked at her during the day, still as the Yaoguai, before going to sleep in another place, far from her. He gave a sad look to the woman who was trying to kill him since months, and he sighed.

 

Well, it was more a groan than a real sigh, but the intention was there. Again, he tried t o write this sign, these strange words which were a cry for help. Something that no one ever understood, something he was doing without any hope.

 

The other thing Mulan didn't know, is that this “Yaoguai” could have killed many times since the beginning of her hunt, if he hadn't been a human trapped into the body of a beast.

 

( The thing none of them knew, was that there were three people who were following them, well, who were trying to find them.)

 

She was sleeping just there, and he just wanted to tell her : “Please help me !”

 

He just wanted to be free from this, and be human again, in order to find Aurora and free her of the spell.

 

The prince was enough far from the warrior so she wouldn't know he was there, but he was able to examine her.

 

She was sleeping peacefully, seeming more calm than when she was awake and chasing after him.

 

This woman looked like Aurora, in a way, as she herself was when she slept. As she was when she had been cursed by Maleficent, just before he was himself cursed too.

 

Before the witch took their happy ending from them.

 

He left before she woke up.

 

§§§§

 

It was more difficult than she thought it would be.

 

Unlike what she may thought before she began to chase it, the creature was more intelligent than it seemed to be.

 

It didn't matter, she would find it.

 

And then, she would kill it.

 

After the creature succeeded to flee from her, she had been angry for a time, but then, she started her hunt again.

 

She would not give up.

 

In fact, it was thanks to her strength that she didn't stop.

 

Philippe tried to flee her many times, but it never worked, she was too good in this, so he was not able to go away from her in a definitive way.

 

They were both tired and exhausted, most of the time, but the thing is that none of them wanted to give up.

 

Philippe had no desire to die, and he didn't want either to kill her. She was a brave warrior, and didn't deserve to know such a fate.

 

He would have preferred to fight with her, more than do it against her.

 

And if he didn't succeed to make her understand that she was wrong, it would happen, in the end.

 

And he didn't want it.

 

Now, it had been since two years that he was like that, that he had been trapped in this body by the cruel witch, and it had been since more or less six months that this woman was after him.

 

And now ?

 

Now, he was tired.

 

He wasn't sure that he could support it any more, that he would flee her enough time, or even that he would find a way to turn back into a human again.

 

But, it was not the only thing.

 

Yes, he was tired physically, and it was understandable, after all, he barely slept, and walked (well, run would be more precise) most of the time, trying to get away from this woman whose he didn't know the name.

 

He tried sometimes to be understood by her, but she tried to attack him every time she saw in front of her what she thought being a beast.

 

Except that he wasn't.

 

As time passed more and more, he began to loose hope, he didn't know what he could do now.

 

Kill the warrior, or be killed.

 

He didn't know which solution was the best.

 

Or, in fact, the worst.

 

The thing is that, he couldn't fight any more.

 

§§§§

 

She was doing it.

 

She was winning.

 

She was going to kill the beast, and she would prove that she was strong enough.

 

Hadn't she been so obsessed by her long quest, she would have certainly saw that this terrible beast killed no people, and that it still didn't kill her, despite all the occasions it had.

 

Mulan knew nothing about magic, she wasn't a specialist of it, so, she didn't know that the creature in front of her, right now, that she was going to kill, was in reality someone human.

 

Philippe couldn't do it any more, he was too tired, and he just couldn't fight any more.

 

He should have, but it had been since a too long time that he did it.

 

He wanted to stop all of that, and he knew what would happen to him.

 

He would die.

 

He was sure of it.

 

I am sorry Aurora. I am sorry I didn't find you. I swear I did the best I could .

 

He stopped, deciding to face his fate, bravely, even though he knew that this woman would certainly easily kill him.

 

Because she knew how to fight, he saw it, and admired her for that, and also because he didn't want to kill her.

 

She just wanted to be a hero, to prove that she knew how to fight, and she just wanted to protect people.

 

She was different from Aurora, again, by many aspects, but he also recognized his princess in her. This one was brave and strong too, even though she was not a warrior. She learned how to defend herself, and was someone who never gave up.

 

(Oh, how he missed her.)

 

That was the reason why this woman evoked Aurora to him.

 

That was the reason why he didn't want to kill her, with also the fact that he was not a murderer.

 

M ulan smiled.

 

“Finally, she said, breathing with difficulty. I found you. You made me run, you know ?”

 

The Yaoguai just sent her a sad look, but she didn't notice it. He wrote again these strange signs on the ground, desperately trying, just for one last time, to be listened, and maybe saved.

 

She seemed to hesitate, just for a moment.

 

After all, it wasn't something ordinary, and this creature didn't seem to be that dangerous .

 

Yes, but it scared people.

 

Yes, but… did it kill anyone ?

 

Just at that moment, as Mulan didn't really know what to do any more, three people appeared just next to them.

 

Philippe started, full of surprise.

 

It was the fairies !

 

Not just normal fairies, but Aurora's fairy god-mother.

 

One of them had a deep sight of relief.

 

“Philippe ! Finally, we found you. I'm sorry we were so long.”

 

“We are searching for you since Maleficent turned you into this beast, added another one.”

 

But, said a third one, she did it so our magic couldn't find you. Without this young woman, I don't think we could have done it.”

 

“Hum… excuse me ? Asked Mulan, very astonished. What the hell is going on ?”

 

What was really happening ?

 

The first fairy said :

 

This creature in front of you is the prince Philippe. He had been turned into a Yaoguai by a witch, named Maleficent. We lost him, but since you're after him, we are able to follow him. We were able to find him today.

 

“And now your Majesty, we can turn you back into a human form.”

 

Philippe opened wide his eyes, and a light of hope appeared then, and at that moment Mulan completely saw that yes, he was not just just a beast.

 

There really was something human in him, and she realized how wrong she had been.

 

“I'm sorry. I'm sorry I tried to kill you.”

 

“Well, the first fairy said, I don't think it's time for apologizes. At least, not right now.”

 

The three fairies then used their magic on the young prince, and turned him back into his original form. Some seconds after that, there was a man, just standing in front of the four other people.

 

Philippe had a great smile of joy and relief, as he realized that finally , he was human again.

 

“Thank you. Thank you so much for freeing me. How could I repay you for this ?”

 

“Well, it's easy, go and find Aurora. And wake up her.”

 

“And I guess you can't help me.”

 

“No Philippe, I am sorry, but this a quest that you will have to do on your own. We do have other people to help. But now, you're protected against Maleficent, if she tries again to attack you. And, at least, we can give you a map showing you how to go the place where Aurora is. As Maleficent sent her in an unknown place. I guess that since two years, you didn't really look where you were going.”

 

Not really. I was trying to escape from people trying to kill me.”

 

The fairies left just after that, after they sent them into a house where they would both be able to sleep and have some rest, before the prince left to find Aurora.

 

Mulan had a look full of shame, understanding that the young man almost died because of her.

 

You don't have to feel guilty, Philippe told her after they ate and drank. I mean… you didn't know. You couldn't know. “

 

Yes, but… it changes nothing. I did try to kill you !”

 

I think I would have done the same, if I thought that people were threatened by some beast, and the fact is that, I did scared them.”

 

“I just… I just wanted to show that I worth it ! That I was brave and strong enough to defeat a monster, and save people… Apparently, I was wrong.”

 

M ulan had a sad air, and Philippe felt sympathy for her.

 

“Well… maybe not. After all, you did save me too, you helped the fairies finding me, and you are brave and strong Mulan ! (she told him her name as they were walking in the direction of the house) You chased me, more precisely, you chased the Yaoguai. And you never stopped. You almost killed me !”

 

“Because you didn't want to fight ! Against a real monster, I don't know if I would have been able to do it.”

 

“I am sure of the contrary.”

 

The warrior had a sad smile, which wasn't that convincing, but at least, it was that.

 

§§§§

 

They slept during the night, and at the beginning of the day, as they were ready to split, Philippe had an idea.

 

You know… I wouldn't mind to have a little help. I am searching for my fiancee, princess Aurora. She had been put under a terrible spell, the Sleeping Curse, by the evil witch Maleficent. All I need is to find her and wake up her, but I may have to fight some enemies during the trip. Would you accept to go with me on this quest ?”

 

M ulan looked at him with a smile, a real one, this time, and, without knowing why, Philippe felt his heart beat faster than ever. And he thought that she seemed to be more happy and more beautiful when she smiled.

 

In fact, he realized at this moment how beautiful she was.

 

A thing he never saw before, as she was chasing him, and that all he thought or cared about was Aurora, nothing else.

 

But now, he could see it.

 

And he really saw it.

 

And he had to make this thought disappear.

 

The warrior nodded her head then, still smiling.

 

“I would be happy of that.”

 

It may be another non-ending quest, but at least, she would feel useful .

 

The prince replied to her smile, maybe in a too enthusiastic way.

 

“Then, here we are. Let's go find Aurora.”

 

They had no idea of where all of this would send them.

Chapter Text

T he day Philippe met Mulan, something began. He didn't know it at that time, as he was still the Yaoguai, but something began. Something strange and unexpected, something they didn't see when they saw each other for the first time.

 

Before he came back to his human form, Philippe thought many times about Mulan, because he did admire her.

 

She wanted to kill him, she wanted to destroy him, but the fact is that he really admire him.

 

And now that he was human again and that he learned slowly to know her, something was happening.

 

Something he did perceive as he saw her smile for the first time, and something he was trying to stop, something that couldn't happen, not now, not as he was going to find Aurora, his True Love, his happy ending.

 

He was falling in love with Mulan.

 

§§§§

 

No, that couldn't be !

 

He loved Aurora, just her, and she loved him too, and… it couldn't be happening !

 

But the thing is that, yes, he did appreciate Mulan, maybe too much, more than a friend should be.

 

And what about her ?

 

Well, the thing that Philippe didn't know, is that Mulan was going to feel the same for him. She used to be in love too, in the past, when she was in the army, but it didn't last for a long time, and sometimes, she thought with melancholy about her former lover.

 

They finally broke-up, and even though she wasn't in love any more, it still hurt.

 

Because she was (until she met Philippe) all alone.

 

The people she met didn't think that a woman could be a warrior, and before Philippe, she met no one, after she left the army, who considered her in a good way, or who admitted that she had skills in fight.

 

And then, she met Philippe.

 

Philippe, who was a prince.

 

Philippe, who was kind, and brave and all these things.

 

Philippe, who considered her as his friend, and saw her as his equal, something she almost never had before.

 

Philippe, with who she was going to fall in love.

 

But she could say nothing.

 

She could do nothing.

 

Because he didn't love her, he loved Aurora, this princess she never met and who surely was lucky to be loved by such a man.

 

Aurora, that she couldn't even try to hate, regarding to her situation, and also because it would have been unfair to do it, as she did nothing against her.

 

In fact, Mulan was angry at herself, for daring falling in love with a prince, for falling, and not being able to make these feelings disappear.

 

And weeks passed.

 

They fought together.

 

Became friends.

 

And both fell in love with the other, even though Philippe still had feelings for Aurora.

 

Maybe that it was because of her that he felt so guilty, not because he didn't feel anything for her (it would have been a lie to say it), but because he was afraid that it wouldn't be enough.

 

He was scared that his feelings for Aurora could not wake up her.

 

That True Love's kiss didn't work, and that she had to stay asleep forever.

 

And he didn't want this to happen.

 

He didn't want to loose her, to loose the woman he loved.

 

And he didn't want her to be forced to sleep forever because of him, because of these forbidden feelings he couldn't stop himself from having.

 

He loved them both, with an equal love, he knew it now.

 

But it didn't change the fact that he should not.

 

§§§§

 

She was a warrior, not a princess.

 

Happy endings were not for her, Mulan learned it very soon in her life.

 

This quest, to find Aurora, lasted since two months, and now she was desperately and hopelessly in love with Philippe.

 

And it hurt her.

 

They were near to the place where she was now, she knew it, Philippe told her that two days ago, and there was something else that she knew.

 

She was going to loose everything.

 

Because, after Aurora would have waken up, she wouldn't be useful any more (was she really useful by the way ?), and she would have to leave.

 

Well, she would.

 

She couldn't stay, it was impossible for her, it would be too hurtful.

 

She would let them alone, and then, well…

 

She didn't know.

 

She just wanted to go away, leave, and never come back.

 

She was in this state when they finally found Aurora.

 

§§§§

 

Two years, it's a long time to wait. Well, not as much as twenty-eight, but when you are cursed, it's a long time. And for Aurora, it had been.

 

She was still waiting.

 

Waiting for her prince, waiting in this terrible room, where there was so much fire, and which was so terrifying.

 

She wished she could have left this place by herself, but it wasn't the way this spell worked, even though she wished it was.

 

She wished she could have the opportunity to fight, at least, she would do something and be useful, but right now, she couldn't.

 

She just had to wait.

 

Fortunately, this day, she didn't have to wait any more.

 

A smile appeared on Philippe's face as he finally was able to see his love, after two long years of separation.

 

“Aurora, he whispered to himself, not seeming to believe that it was finally happening.”

 

Mulan, just behind him, had a sad smile.

 

By curiosity, she looked at the sleeping woman, who seemed to be everything but peaceful, and Mulan recognized easily the effects of the Sleeping Curse that Philippe told her about.

 

The first thing she was able to see about her was that she was pretty.

 

She didn't know her, in fact, the only things she knew about her were the things Philippe said about her (and he talked about her most of the time), but, if she was as Philippe described her, yes, she understood it.

 

She clearly understood why the prince was in love with her, just as she understood the reason why the princess loved him.

 

And her smile stayed sad, and full of resignation and acceptance.

 

Soon, it would be her time.

 

The time to leave.

 

§§§§

 

Philippe still hadn't kiss Aurora. He was admiring her, in her sleep, not even daring to touch her, as if he thought that maybe it would make her disappear.

 

He put his hand on her hair, still smiling.

 

As he saw her again, he remembered how much he loved her, but it didn't make his feelings for Mulan disappear. But, right now, he didn't care about it.

 

He kissed Aurora, with no hesitation, and as a wave of magic crossed them and all the land, his smile just grew larger.

 

The trip to return in Aurora's and Philippe's castle would be long and harsh, for sure, and Philippe clearly knew it.

 

But now, just right now, he just savored his reunion with his princess.

 

Her eyes opened, and she took a deep breath, seeming kind of lost for some seconds, before she saw the prince in front of her.

 

An air both of astonishment and joy took place on her face at that moment.

 

“Philippe, she whispered, with the same tone the prince used some minutes before.”

 

Without waiting, she immediately embraced him in her arms, to which he replied, and she began to both cry and laugh with joy.

 

“You found me, she was finally able to say after some seconds of silence. She took his face in her hands. You really found me.”

 

He smiled at her.

 

“Yes. Yes, I did. I told you I would, he said, before kissing her a new time.”

 

Facing it, Mulan smiled in a sad and bitter way.

 

She had to leave, right now.

 

§§§§

 

Before she could, Philippe added :

 

But… I didn't do it alone. I had some help. Aurora, I present you Mulan, one of my friends, a courageous warrior that I met during my trip to find you. She saved me, and you fought together. She helped me find you, without her, I wouldn't have been able to do it.”

 

A urora sent her a curious and interested look, and Mulan felt herself blushing because of Philippe's compliments.

 

I… don't deserve this, really.”

 

“You do, said Philippe. You did help me, you know ? Without you, I still would be trapped under the form of the Yaoguai.”

 

T he princess gave a bright and thankful smile to Mulan.

 

Thank you Mulan, for saving my fiance. I guess that without you, I would still be sleeping, and trapped there.”

 

The warrior blushed again : how could she hate the other woman, if this one behaved that way toward her ?

 

Now, we should come home, added Aurora, knowing that they couldn't stay there forever. Mulan, you're coming with us, right ? You could come at our castle, then.”

 

M ulan started with surprise, and had a look of apprehension.

 

She couldn't.

 

But, there was a hopeful light in Aurora's eyes, and Mulan realized that she couldn't say no .

 

She gave a forced smile to the princess.

 

“Ok.”

 

§§§§

 

Aurora wasn't someone jealous.

 

But there was something true either.

 

She was not blind.

 

She saw the different looks, the one shared by Mulan and Philippe, between them, and there was no doubt for her.

 

There was something between them.

 

Well, maybe not something something, and maybe that nothing happened, but, yes.

 

She saw something in their eyes.

 

Was it love ?

 

She could not say it.

 

But the thing is that they cared for each other, a thing which was normal, after all, they lived together for months.

 

It was logical that they became friends.

 

But were they in love ?

 

Philippe loved her, Aurora told herself, trying to reassure the part of her which was afraid of this possibility.

 

He woke up her, searched for her, found her.

 

He loved her.

 

But he loved Mulan too, she was sure of this.

 

His eyes never lied.

 

What kind of love was it ?

 

The same he had with her, or something else ?

 

Stronger or weaker ?

 

She didn't really know if she wanted answers about that.

 

Taken during all the day by these thoughts, she didn't realize that it was the night and that Mulan and Philippe began a camp so they would stop and sleep.

 

She shivered.

 

She didn't want to sleep.

 

She just… didn't want it.

 

Aurora was just… afraid of it.

 

Afraid of sleeping.

 

She didn't know what would happen, and certainly didn't want to discover it.

 

She sat down just next to Mulan, as Philippe began to sleep.

 

“Don't you want to go to sleep princess ?”

 

Her voice wasn't harsh or cold, but full of respect, and despite that, Aurora felt like a distance between them.

 

She didn't want to come with us .

 

Aurora looked at her, and smiled.

 

She understood.

 

Yes, if Philippe really was in love with Mulan, she understood the reason why.

 

She was beautiful, like herself, in fact, but not only. She was also noble, she seemed to be, and she was a warrior, seemed to be courageous, and strong.

 

Everything she wasn't, less than her, in fact, as she was just a princess in distress who needed her prince to save her.

 

(It was more complicated than that, but yes, she didn't see herself as a heroine.

 

She wasn't. )

 

You can call me Aurora. You're Philippe's friend, and we are in the woods. I don't think that we should act as if we were at the court.”

 

M ulan let a small chuckle escape from her lips, and Aurora surprised herself by smiling at this.

 

She did understand Philippe's interest in her.

 

If you want, the warrior answered. So, tell me, Aurora (and she insisted on her name in a strange way that Aurora strangely appreciated. Without knowing why), why don't you go to sleep ?”

 

Aurora's smile disappeared immediately, a thing Mulan didn't remark, as she was looking at the fire in front of her. Looking at this too, Aurora tre m bled a little.

 

She saw the room on fire, she remembered her fear, her terror, and also how useless she felt.

 

For not being able to flee, for not being strong enough to face Maleficent.

 

As she was too weak to escape from her.

 

She didn't know the side effects of the Sleeping Curse, but it mustn’t be pleasant, and she didn't want to be tormented by these memories during the night.

 

I slept enough during these two years. Don't worry, I won't bother you, I will stay there during the night.

 

You don't bother me prin… Aurora. We can talk, if you want.”

 

Talk ?

 

Talk about what, hum ?

 

About these two last years where I was all alone ?

 

I don't really want to.

 

Or, maybe, talk about you and Philippe .

 

It wasn't a good idea.

 

They just traveled during a day, and they didn't talk before that moment ( Aurora mostly talked with Philippe, as they were separated for two years. They had many things to tell to the other. Well, more Philippe than her), and maybe it was not the time.

 

But Aurora… she wanted to know. And most of that, she wanted not to think about these terrible things she had to endure during her long sleep.

 

Do you love him ?”

 

Mulan started, trying not to show her trouble.

 

What ?”

 

“Philippe… Are you in love with him ?”

 

There was no anger in her voice, just… curiosity. And interest. Mulan blushed again, and hadn't they been in an awkward situation, Aurora would have found it sincerely adorable.

 

Well… no. She found it really adorable.

 

“Why do you care ?”

 

And as she said that, Mulan realized what a big mistake she just did.

 

She should have said no, now, it was over, the princess would definitely know the truth, and would ask her to leave.

 

And she would be right.

 

So, you are, said the princess.”

 

And then, ther e was a big silence.

 

Mulan sighed. She had nothing to loose, now, and after all, she wanted to leave the place before, leave them alone, in peace. And she admired the princess' perspicacity for seeing it so rapidly.

 

Maybe that she was not really discrete…

 

Yes. I am.”

 

“Do you think he loves you ?”

 

M ulan looked at the princess, and saw fear in her eyes, but there was no anger.

 

She just wanted to know.

 

No ! Replied Mulan in a high voice, before making it lower. Of course no, she whispered. He loves you, he came there for you. Why do you think he would love me, instead of you, your True Love ?”

 

A urora had a sad smile.

 

Then, she nodded.

 

And she asked to the warrior this question which would haunt her during the rest of the night :

 

Do you think it's possible to have two True Love ?”

Chapter Text

M ulan didn't answer. Because she had no idea of what to say.

 

She had no answer to it, in fact.

 

And she didn't want to hope that it could be true, so, she said nothing, not knowing how to react.

 

Aurora stand up, and began to walk around the camp, not wanting to go to sleep.

 

Hey, where are you going ? Mulan asked her.”

 

“Walking around the camp.”

 

No ! Answered the warrior by taking her hand, in order to stop her. It's the night, we almost see nothing, and I can't protect you if I can't see you.”

 

Aurora took off her hand, trying not to show that the touch troubled her a little.

 

“I know how to defend myself,” she said, both with pride and anger.

 

I have no doubts about it, princess, but the thing is that, you don't know these woods. I do. So please, stay here, and listen to me.”

 

Aurora, to Mulan' surprise, obeyed to her and sat down. The warrior sighed.

 

I do love him. But you don't have to worry Aurora, I am not going to try to steal your prince from you, or another stupid thing. I just… I wanted to leave, right ? When you woke up… I intended to leave.”

 

“But then… I asked you to stay. Oh Mulan, I am sorry, I didn't want to suffer from this, I…”

 

“It's okay, you… didn't know it. And it's my fault I shouldn't be feeling that way, I am the one who should be sorry.”

 

Another silence settled between them.

 

“He cares for you, you know.”

 

Yes, I know. As a friend, Mulan said bitterly.

 

No. There is… something else. You see, I know enough things about it to recognize love when I see it. And Philippe loves you.”

 

“He loves you more.”

 

“Do you think I could be right ? That he could love both of us ?”

 

M ulan looked at the princess, and felt her heart almost jump in her chest. Without knowing why, as she saw the princess' air, full of curiosity and wondering. She smiled without hope.

 

I don't think so princess. Now, you should go back to sleep, or he may be worried, if you're not with him when he wakes up.”

 

Aurora nodded, and joined Philippe's couch.

 

She slept at no moment during the rest of the night.

 

§§§§

 

Some hours after, Philippe woke up and took Mulan' place. This one tried to sleep too, but she rapidly realized that the princess wasn't sleeping, but just faking it.

 

But why would she do it ?

 

As days passed, Mulan more and more realized that Aurora never slept.

 

The only nights where she did it, her sleep didn't seem to be easy, and her nights were troubled and also really short.

 

Philippe didn't seem to notice, in fact, every time he asked her fiancee if she was right, she answered yes, and was very convincing.

 

But Mulan knew that it wasn't true.

 

There was something Philippe didn't know, as Aurora tried to sleep or to fake sleeping when he was asleep, something Mulan did know.

 

It was about the nightmares.

 

Indeed, as the young woman was more and more tired, she tried not to show it, and tried to sleep, she made nightmares every nights.

 

She never said it to Mulan, but this one rapidly understood that her nights were tormented by these.

 

One night, the princess sat down next to the warrior, and Mulan had a deep sight.

 

“Why don't you sleep Aurora ?”

 

“I am not tired”, she lied.

 

Mulan looked at her.

 

“You are, princess. You're even exhausted. Because you don't sleep.”

 

“I can't ! exclaimed Aurora with fear. Every time I close my eyes, I see it.”

 

“What ?”

 

“The room. The one where I was while I slept under the Sleeping Curse. The one with the fire, and… I can't go out of here.”

 

“Why did you say nothing to Philippe ?”

 

“I don't want to worry him. He just saved me, and he doesn't deserve to be scared for me.”

 

“When you sleep next to him, isn't it less worst ?”

 

“N… No. In fact, I don't want to wake up him if I move. I...”

 

Mulan gave her a reassuring smile, and for a second, Aurora almost felt no fear.

 

Then, she put the princess' on her knees.

 

“Come here.”

 

“What ?”

 

“You have to sleep Aurora. Don't worry, she said, by pulling her hands in Aurora's hair, you can sleep. You will be safe.”

 

The princess closed her eyes, and, some minutes later, she began to sleep, seeming to be more peaceful than ever. Mulan had a sight of relief.

 

Finally !

 

§§§§

 

Some hours later, Philippe woke up, and, as he saw the two women together, he started. And then, he had a light smile. The two women he loved were together, peaceful, and he surprised himself by hoping it would stay that way.

 

“Why is Aurora with you ?” The prince asked.

 

“She couldn't sleep… Philippe… Aurora is having nightmares, since you woke up her.”

 

The young man suddenly became pale.

 

“Why did she tell me nothing ?”

 

“She didn't want to scare you. She… doesn't really sleep since you rescued her.”

 

The prince sat down next to his fiancee, smiling as he saw how calm she was.

 

“I hope that when we come back at our castle, these nightmares will stop.”

 

Mulan' smile disappeared immediately. She would have preferred to forget that their trip would have an end.

 

During the day, Aurora and Philippe talked a lot, but not only about Aurora's nightmares.

 

The young princess really seemed to be obsessed to know how Philippe felt about Mulan, she didn't know the reason why.

 

In fact, the thing she didn't want to tell about herself, was that she was obsessed by Mulan herself too.

 

When she realized what she was feeling for Philippe, the princess was jealous at no moment.

 

No, she wasn't jealous of Mulan, even though she was almost sure that Philippe loved her too.

 

Because the prince loved her, he woke up her, even though he had feelings for Mulan.

 

He loved them both, she was almost sure of it.

 

But it was not the only reason.

 

She was having feelings for Mulan too, but she still didn't accept them.

 

So, that day, she asked Philippe :

 

“Are you in love with Mulan ?”

 

He looked at her with astonishment. They were alone, and Aurora used it so she could ask the question.

 

“I love you, he assured her.”

 

“I didn't ask you that.”

 

They stopped, and Philippe crossed his arms, appearing more serious than ever. There was no anger in Aurora's eyes, he realized, she just wanted to know.

 

“Yes, he confessed. But, you don't have to...”

 

“She loves you too.”

 

Philippe closed and opened his eyes.

 

“How do you...”

 

“I asked her, and she told me.”

 

“Aurora, I...”

 

“It's okay, you don't have to feel guilty. She loves you, and you love her. That's it.”

 

“I love you too. I love you both.”

 

Aurora had a bright smile, and took his face in her hands, before kissing him.

 

“I know”, she whispered to him.

 

“How can you be so… comprehensive ?”

 

“I don't know… I think it's her… I think I kind of like her.”

 

“You know that I am not going to do anything with her.”

 

“I know”, repeated Aurora.

 

§§§§

 

She didn't know what to do.

 

Philippe was in love with Mulan. Mulan was in love with Philippe.

 

What about her ?

 

She was in love with Philippe. Deeply and truly, he was her fiance, and her True Love.

 

It would never change.

 

But… she was beginning to really appreciate Mulan too.

 

Sleeping with (well , next to ) Mulan really helped her. Some weeks passed after her conversation with Philippe, and Aurora was more and more lost.

 

Thanks to the warrior, she made less and less nightmares, her nights were more peaceful.

 

Maybe too, in fact, as she was making some… dreams. That helped her for a time escape from the room on fire, and where Mulan was there. Where they talked.

 

And it was… strange.

 

When she was awake, she didn't talk about it, but it made even things awkward between them.

 

Yes, it was true for her too… She was falling in love with Mulan.

 

§§§§

 

Mulan wished she left just after Aurora was waken up by Philippe. It would have made all this situation less hurtful.

 

She couldn't even hate Aurora, as the princess was too kind and good with her, and as their friendship grew up, the warrior more and more understood the reason why Philippe fell in love with her.

 

For a real simple reason.

 

She was falling too.

 

She still loved Philippe, yes, and it may be the strangest thing in it, but she was falling in love with her.

 

She loved them both.

 

And she was so lost.

 

She loved two people in the same way, and her love was growing up more and more as time passed.

 

She had to leave.

 

Right now.

 

Before her heart was definitely broken.

 

§§§§

 

The trip would be soon over, and they would be at the castle in a short time.

 

Since some days, Aurora didn't sleep next to Mulan, as she wasn't having any nightmares.

 

Mulan ended this, and Aurora felt bad for this, not knowing what. She missed that moments, and, to her horror, the warrior became more and more cold toward her or Philippe, as if she wanted to make a distance between them.

 

The princess had the impression to come back at the moment where she didn't really know Mulan, before they talked and became friend.

 

And it scared her, she didn't want to loose her friend, the woman she loved.

 

Yes, she finally completely confessed it to herself, she was in love with the warrior, as much as she was in love with her prince.

 

As they were really close to their castle, Aurora came to see Philippe, not wanting to keep her secret with her any more.

 

Mulan was sleeping, and they were alone.

 

“Hey.”

 

Hey. You're alright ? Happy to know that we are coming home ?”

 

More than I ever was. And… I have something to tell you.”

 

Philippe gave her a worried look.

 

“What ? Is everything okay ?”

 

Yes, of course. I wanted to tell you the reason why I told you nothing when you told me that you loved Mulan.”

 

“Oh...”

 

It was at first because I knew that you loved me too. But now, things are different.”

 

“How ? What happened ?”

 

“You fell in love with Mulan, and I understand why. Yes, you fell… so did I.”

 

Philippe looked at her with astonishment. Then, he saw that his future wife seemed pretty serious.

 

“You… you do love her ?”

 

“Yes, just as you love her. Just as you love me. And just as I love you.”

 

“And then… why do you intend to do ?”

 

“I don't know ! Nothing, I guess, because… she is in love with you. Not with me.”

 

“So, that's it ? You will do nothing about it ?”

 

“I don't know what I could do. Tell her how I feel ? Doesn't feel like it's a good idea…”

 

“Why not ?”

 

“I'm in love with a person who just sees me as a friend. Nothing more. I don't want… I don't want things to be more awkward between us.”

 

“Aurora...”

 

“It's okay, hum ? I… I can live with this. It's okay, and I am fine. I will be fine, she added.”

 

Philippe embraced her in his arms, adding nothing to it.

 

After all, what else could he say or do ?

 

§§§§

 

They were at their home.

 

Their castle was just there, in front of them, and they were at home.

 

At that precise moment, they realized how much they missed the place.

 

Two years had been a long time, and yes, they were really happy to come back.

 

But the thing they knew too was that this couldn't be called a home if Mulan wasn't there.

 

A true and great smile appeared on Aurora's face as she saw her mother walk in her direction.

 

Queen Briar Rose, who was now alone on the throne since King Stefan's death, which happened not a long time after Aurora was cursed, ran into her daughter's arms.

 

“Mom !” The princess shouted.

 

“Aurora, this one answered, I missed you so much !”

 

The two women embraced each other for a moment, savoring their reunion.

 

The queen looked at her daughter with love and joy then, with a large smile.

 

“You're here, finally ! And you're safe !”

 

“Yes, I am… Some seconds after, she asked. Mom… where is father ?”

 

When she saw a shadow appear in her mother's eyes, she immediately understood, and said nothing. She just embraced her again.

 

King Stefan's became crazy, after Maleficent came back and tried to attack him, and even before she tried to curse Aurora, the mother and the daughter knew that the king lost his mind.

 

He died after Aurora was cursed, and since that moment, Briar Rose had been queen, and alone, allowed to think about her past.

 

“I'm sorry mom, the princess whispered.”

 

“Don't worry Aurora, I am okay. Me and your father… weren't in good terms since a long time. (Not after what he did to Maleficent, she added silently).”

 

Looking at Philippe, the queen had another smile.

 

“Philippe ! She said. I am so happy to see you ! She took his hands. You saved my daughter from this terrible curse, I don't know how I could ever repay you for this.”

 

“You don't have to, your majesty, he answered with modesty. And, it didn't happen just thanks to me, he added by showing Mulan to her. This brave warrior helped me find Aurora, and she saved me. Without her help, we wouldn't be there.”

 

For the first time since a long time, Mulan blushed, not thinking that she deserved such compliments, understanding that they wouldn't let her go. She was fed up with this gratitude, even though she appreciated it too.

 

She just had to leave as soon as possible.

 

She tried to add that she also almost killed the prince too, but before she had enough time to say it, Briar Rose took her hands.

 

She gave her a smile full of gratitude.

 

“Thank you for saving my daughter and my future son-in-law.”

 

The warrior froze as she heard it, reminded of what would soon happen, feeling the pain in her heart become even more strong, and if the queen remarked the sad air on her face, she said nothing to it.

 

And of course, she had been right, they didn't let her go.

 

Some days pass, and the situation became more and more terrible and unbearable for the young woman, who just saw every day the two people she was in love with be happy and together, and not seeming to see her in another way than in a friendship way.

 

(Well, Aurora told her that Philippe was in love with her, but she didn't believe it.

 

She was tired of hoping in vain.)

 

And for her, it was more and more difficult to hide the fact that she was in a terrible pain, and every time she looked at them, there was a mix of love and sadness in her eyes.

 

Maybe a little hope, too, but it never last.

 

Mulan had been observed many times by Briar Rose, at first because this one was curious about this person who saved the two people she loved most (well, if you forgot another person that she used to love, but who was now her enemy), but now, there was something else.

 

Yes, there was something strange in the way she looked at the young couple.

 

There was no jealousy or hatred in it, just… just love.

 

And not only love for one of them, no, no, and it was the thing that seemed to be so strange.

 

She seemed to be in love with both of them.

 

The ironic and sad thing was that the two other didn't even seem to notice the way she was looking at them. She didn't show it that clearly, but Briar Rose was good enough at seeing when someone was in love.

 

Again, some days and even weeks passed, and the queen realized another thing, as strange as the first one, maybe even more.

 

It looked like her daughter and this one's fiance returned Mulan' love too.

 

They all loved each other, and didn't even know it.

 

The queen smiled, thinking about her own past, feeling sad.

 

She had heard about people who had two True Love, and it looked like it was just happening, under her eyes.

 

She had to do something before things ended bad.

 

§§§§

 

She was absolutely right.

 

The following day, Aurora came to see her, completely panicked.

 

“Mulan wants to go. She doesn't want to stay here any more, and I don't know what to do.”

 

The princess sat down next to her mother, who listened to her patiently, trying to find a way to solve it.

 

“Why does she want to go ?”

 

“I don't know ! I know that she has feelings for Philippe, but I always assured her that it wasn't a problem for me… Well, maybe it's a problem for her, Aurora admitted, maybe that it hurts her too much to stay here. How could I be so blind not to see it ?”

 

Briar Rose smiled to her child's ignorance.

 

“Maybe… but not only. Don't you see something else ?”

 

“No !”

 

“Then, you're blind, my child, I agree with you…”

 

“What else could it be ?”

 

“Something you don't see, Aurora, something Mulan hide from you.”

 

“But what ?”

 

The queen had an indulgent smile.

 

“There is love in her eyes. Not only for Philippe, but also for you. There is so much love in her eyes, that I can't believe that none of you were able to see it.”

 

Hope appeared in the woman's eyes.

 

“You think so ?”

 

“I am sure of it.”

 

Aurora began to smile, but then, fear took her.

 

“Mom… do you...”

 

“I am completely okay with this Aurora… After all, I was the one who was for a time in a relationship with two other people. She smiled at her daughter's surprised air. One day, she added, I will tell you my story. No, go and find her. Stop her from leaving, if it's not the thing she truly wants.”

 

Aurora nodded, stand up, and began to run.

 

§§§§

 

Mulan was in a bad mood. Aurora's and Philippe's wedding had been announced a short time before, and she realized at this moment that she couldn't handle it any more.

 

She had to leave, and nothing could change her mind.

 

“Mulan !”

 

When she heard Aurora's voice shouting after her, Mulan had a sight both annoyed and relieved.

 

Did the princess want to say goodbye to her ?

 

She didn't do it with Philippe, in fact, she didn't even see him.

 

It would hurt less, if it didn't happen.

 

She tried to run, but she rapidly understood that it would be useless.

 

The princess arrived next to her, breathing rapidly, and Mulan, for a moment, forgot the reason why she wanted to leave.

 

“You're leaving ?” Asked her friend with an air full of sadness.

 

“I guess it's pretty obvious, answered the warrior in a sharp voice.”

 

The other one rolled her eyes.

 

“It was more a rhetorical question, so I would find something else to say. And I wanted you to confirm this, as it was more a rumor before.”

 

“Yes. I want to go.”

 

When she saw her friend's face become full of sadness again, Mulan tried not to tell her that she would stay, just to comfort her.

 

“I don't want you to go.”

 

Mulan didn't expect it, and it made her more angry than happy, as she heard it.

 

For her, it was just a selfish desire, whereas it was supposed to be a declaration.

 

She had the impression that Aurora didn't care about what she felt, and she should have known how she felt, at least toward Philippe, as she told her.

 

“I don't care, princess. I don't want to stay, and suffer from loves which are not reciprocal and which will never be. I am leaving.”

 

The only thing Aurora retained from this was the involuntary confession Mulan gave her, and she just smiled, a thing the warrior didn't understand.

 

Did you just say loves ? She asked her with a hopeful voice.”

 

Mulan froze and realized then what she let escape without wanting it.

 

“I… I...”

 

The princess approached her slowly.

 

Mulan… Do you love me ?”

 

The warrior didn't look at her.

 

“Yes.”

 

She didn't see the pure light of joy that was now in the princess' eyes.

 

“You don't have to leave.”

 

Mulan started and looked at her friend with astonishment.

 

What ? But, the things I told you...”

 

Gently, Aurora took her face in her hands, and gave her a smile.

 

Mulan… I love you.”

 

T he other woman let a light smile appear on her face.

 

“You do ?”

 

“Yes… Yes, I do”, she answered, before kissing her.

 

F or the first time since weeks, Mulan began to smile, a real and true smile.

 

“So… asked Aurora… Will you stay with us ?”

 

Mulan nodded.

 

“Yes. Yes, I will.”

Chapter Text

The witch Maleficent let escape a scream of rage from her throat.

 

It couldn't be.

 

No, no, it didn't happen, it couldn't be true.

 

She was looking at her mirror, seeing something she didn't expect, that she thought would never happen.

 

Aurora was awake.

 

“Looks like things are not really going well, said a mocking voice.”

 

Maleficent turned back and gave to her uninvited guest a look full of anger.

 

“What are you doing here Regina ?”

 

The Evil Queen smiled to her in a false innocent way.

 

“Just wanted to go to see my friend, of course. I didn't think that it would be so… interesting, she said, showing the mirror with her hand.”

 

“It shouldn't have happened,” whistled the dragon.

 

“Yes, for sure… Didn't you use the Sleeping Curse on her ?”

 

“Yes, I did !” Shouted the witch.

 

“Why did it not work ?”

 

“True Love's kiss, she answered with almost disgust, remembering another situation, and another asleep princess.”

 

“Oh, I see… Her prince found her. Why didn't you stop him ?”

 

“I did ! I turned him into a beast. I thought that… he would stay that way, or be killed by some villagers… It wasn't supposed to happen that way.”

 

“You should have killed him...”

 

“Yes. But I wanted them to be separated forever, and to know it.”

 

“And now ? What do you intend to do ?”

 

“I don't know… By the way, why are you here ?”

 

“Oh nothing, I just… wanted you to help me, about… something.

 

“What ?”

 

“The Sleeping Curse.”

 

“You saw it. It doesn't work.”

 

“Well… it worked, for a time ! And I won't do the same thing that you did. I'll kill her True Love, so she will never be woken up !”

 

Maleficent gave her a sad and tired smile.

 

“I won't help you. Ask Rumplestiltskin.”

 

“I can't.”

 

“Why ?”

 

“Well, how could I say that… Rumple decided to come back into the good side.”

 

The dragon started.

 

“What ?”

 

“Yes he did. He doesn't want to help me any more, about my revenge against Snow White.”

 

The other one sighed.

 

“Maybe he is the one who is right.”

 

Regina rolled her eyes.

 

“Fine, I will find it by myself. Bye.”

 

Maleficent stayed alone, shocked by all these news that just arrived this day.

 

Then, not knowing what she would do, she used her magic in order to go in Briar Rose's castle. She became invisible, looking at he young princess that looked so much like her mother.

 

She looked at her, and she saw a woman who was happy.

 

She looked at her, and shesaw a woman in love.

 

She looked at her, and she felt no hatred.

 

Aurora was not the culprit of the story, Stefan was. He used to be, as he was now dead, and Maleficent realized that her revenge meant nothing now that he wasn't there any more.

 

Her curse failed, and she had no desire to kill the young woman.

 

She left the place, and walked into the castle, still invisible.

 

She intended to go, first, but then, she recognized someone she didn't see since years.

 

Someone who talked to her.

 

“Hello Maleficent, said Briar Rose with a melancholic tone.”

 

“How… How do you see me ?”

 

She revealed herself then, astonished that she had been perceived by the queen.

 

“I know you… I know when you're here. It had been a long time.”

 

“Yes.”

 

Maleficent and Briar Rose used to love Stefan, before he broke and destroyed everything, but they also loved each other.

 

Well, it had been a long time ago, as Briar Rose said it.

 

And now, it was like it used to be, almost.

 

“If you want to kill me, do it now, okay ? Don't try to hurt my daughter again, she has nothing to do with this mess.”

 

“I know Briar Rose, I perfectly know it… I am not here to kill you.”

 

“I didn't help you while I could… You cursed me and you cursed my daughter… I think we hurt each other enough, don't you think ?”

 

“I do.”

 

They smiled to each other, in a shy way.

 

It wasn't really peace, not right now, but something more like a truce.

 

§§§§

 

In another place of the realm, things weren't that good, for a certain person.

 

Princess Snow White.

 

This one was unhappy, a thing that all the people who would have known her story would have understood.

 

After all, she was chased by her evil step-mother, she was in the woods, and except Red and the eight dwarfs, she had no one.

 

She was almost alone.

 

But, it wasn't the thing that hurt her the most in that moment, oh no.

 

The princess was in love, an impossible love, and she wanted just one thing : get rid off this.

 

And there was only one person who could help her, who would make the pain stop.

 

Who would help her fix her broken heart.

 

Rumplestiltskin.

 

The Dark One.

 

All the people still didn't know that the Dark One was gone, and the princess-bandit was one of them.

 

She needed help.

 

She needed a cure.

 

She would pay anything to have it, to forget the prince, no matter the price

 

It was a love without any hope, she knew she couldn't support this pain any more.

 

“Rumplestiltskin ! Rumplestiltskin ! Rumplestiltskin !”

 

Yes, his personal curse had been broken, but he could still be called.

 

The sorcerer as the princess both had an air of surprise. Him, because he had been called without expecting it, and her, because he didn't look like what he was supposed to be.

 

When he saw her face, full of sadness, he understood immediately.

 

“You're Snow White, aren't you ?”

 

“Yes. And I need your help.”

 

Memories came back into the sorcerer's head, who remembered why she called him.

 

Oh, yes… her broken heart. This time, he wouldn't manipulate her, because she didn't deserve to be unhappy, and because he didn't need to do it.

 

She needed to have hope, hope that everything would end well, and he would give this to her.

 

He promised to Belle and to the Henry of the other world that he would try to fix things.

 

Snow White needed to stay strong, so she would fight the Evil Queen and win the war against her.

 

And the thing was that he really didn't want her to try to kill the queen…

 

“My help ? For what ?”

 

“Aren't you Rumplestiltskin ?”

 

“Yes, I am… But I preferred to be called the Sorcerer.”

 

She frowned.

 

“But… you're the Dark One.”

 

“I was. But I changed. It's not the object of our conversation, it's about you, princess.”

 

“I am in love with someone with who I can't be. I want to forget that I love him.”

 

“No, you don't, answered the sorcerer. It's not this that you want. “

 

“What do you mean ?”

 

“You don't want to forget your feelings about him. You want to stop your sufferings.”

 

A tear rolled along Snow White's cheek, and she nodded.

 

“Yes. I feel like my heart is breaking, I… I want it to stop. Will you help me ?”

 

“No, he said, abruptly. And, he added, as he saw her air of surprise, it's not because of the price. But because it doesn't worth it.”

 

“You don't know what is good for me.”

 

“Maybe princess. But the thing I know, is that you're wrong. About many things.”

 

“Like what ?”

 

“You think your love is useless, that it will lead you just to sufferings and pain. That it doesn't serve you to be in love with your dear prince Charming.”

 

“And then ? What makes you think that ?”

 

“He loves you.”

 

“It changes nothing, even if it's true. He has a fiancee.”

 

“Since when is it a problem ?”

 

Snow rolled her eyes.

 

“I see that you never had problems in love.”

 

Rumplestiltskin's face then became very pale. He remembered Milah, Cora, and how much these stories ended bad. He remembered that in another version of the story, Belle died because he chased her from his castle.

 

“You're wrong princess. About me, and about yourself. You have to fight. Fight for the one you love. Love is a terrible and magical thing, and you must fight for it. Even though it's hard, even if life is cruel for you. To forget it, it would be the easy way. And you can trust me, he added, I perfectly know what it is, I chose it too many times.”

 

They stayed silent, until Snow talked.

 

“What should I do ?”

 

“Defeat the queen. Take your kingdom back and make her understand that she is wrong about everything. Fight for your love. And, the most important thing : believe. That everything will need good, and that you will find a happy ending.”

 

She nodded, trying to regain her confidence.

 

“Thanks.”

 

She was about to leave, but then, he remembered something else he read in the book.

 

“Wait. In a short time, your prince will send you a message, to ask you to go in his castle, if you love him. Don't go there.”

 

“Why ?”

 

“King Georges will stop you, and force you to tell him that you feel nothing for him, or he will kill the prince and I know that you don't want it.”

 

Snow nodded again.

 

“How do you know it ?”

 

I had a second chance.

 

He grinned.

 

“I can see the future. And trust me, it's both very helpful, and very difficult.”

 

She laughed.

 

“I can believe it. Thanks, sorcerer. Dreamy told me you helped him, now I know why he trusts you.”

 

Rumple just smiled and left.

 

To King Georges' castle.

 

§§§§

 

As far as he knew it, the prince already sent his message to the princess. When he entered in the prince's room, this one was already preparing the things he intended to take during this trip.

 

“Looks like someone is going to make a long, long trip, he said in his imp voice.”

 

David looked at him, and recognized him immediately, despite the fact that his face changed.

 

“Why are you here ?”

 

He didn't answer. Some seconds after, he said :

 

“That won't be necessary, he told the prince by looking at these things.”

 

“You want to stop me ? Try a new time, I am leaving in a few days.”

 

“I am not here for that.”

 

“For what ?”

 

“I wanted to give you news about your dear and precious Snow White.”

 

The prince turned back and looked at him, suddenly interested.

 

“Is she okay ?”

 

“Well… it's not the good word, actually. She is right, but, things are not really good for her.”

 

“Her step-mother wants her dead. I don't think anyone would be okay, living with this.”

 

“Yes, it's true. I came to tell you that she isn't going to go there, in this castle.”

 

“Why not ?”

 

“I told her not to. Because you “father” would have forced her to lie to you.”

 

The other man crossed his arms.

 

“Why should I believe you ?”

 

“You think I would have came here just to lie to you ?”

 

“You're the Dark One. You're a liar, a manipulator.”

 

“I was. I used to be. I changed.”

 

“No one can change in a so little time.”

 

“Says the man who turned from a shepherd into a prince...”

 

“It's not the same thing.”

 

“I'm not the Dark One any more. I prefer to be called the Sorcerer.”

 

David raised an eyebrow, full of circumspection.

 

“Isn't it a little… egocentric ?”

 

“Not more than the Dark One, a thing I am not any more.”

 

“Even if it is true… Why on hell would I ever believe you ? Believe what you're saying ? You took me from my mother, and before that, you took my brother from her and my dad. You gave me to this king with no moral, and who just wants to use me for his kingdom.”

 

Rumplestiltskin couldn't resist making a remark about it.

 

“It's a prince's life !”

 

“I don't want it. I never wanted it. Not if it steals from me all my chances to be happy.”

 

“It will help saving the kingdom.”

 

The prince looked at the sorcerer with an ironic air.

 

“Since how many time do you care for the kingdom ? And by the way, it doesn't matter if I leave. The king still can find someone else to replace me. Someone who will be happy to take my place. Even someone to who you could give my appearance.”

 

The sorcerer nodded.

 

“Well… it's not a bad idea, you know ? Too bad that you decided not to act in an intelligent way, and that you decided to leave...”

 

David gave him death stares.

 

“You don't have to be the one who will choose my life, or my fate. I do. “

 

“I never intended to do it, you know ? I just wanted to tell you that things would be harsh for you, but that you and your princess would in the end get a happy ending. That's it.”

 

“Why are you doing this ? Telling this to me, trying to help us.”

 

“I made a promise to someone.”

 

“Who ?”

 

Your grand-son.

 

Well, actually, he is my grand-son too, so…

 

“It doesn't matter. You just have to know that I am on your side.”

 

David thought about it some seconds and he sighed.

 

“Alright… I guess you won't be a worst ally than Georges himself.”

 

“I don't think anyone can be worst than him.”

 

David chuckled and nodded.

 

“And… if you still decide to leave… you should go to see princess Abigail. She may be as non-pleased as you are by the idea of marrying each other.”

 

Surprised, the prince nodded.

 

§§§§

 

Some weeks pass, and prince James fled, finding Snow White after he helped Abigail having her dear prince back, and king Georges sent soldiers to find him.

 

Rumplestiltskin was often out of his home, trying to motivate the resistance against Georges and Regina too (as no one recognized him, people began to call him the Sorcerer and to see him as being as good as the fairies).

 

When Rumplestiltskin came back at home, he saw three people talking to each other. They were Belle, Henry, and Tinkerbell, who just paid them a visit. Her face was truly radiant, and as he saw it, the sorcerer realized that her relationship with Blue was surely going in a good direction.

 

“Tinkerbell ? What are you going here ?”

 

“I came to talk about Regina. We were trying to find a way to stop her.”

 

“Didn't you have one already ? When you used some pixie dust, in order to show her her soul mate.”

 

“Yes, I did, but she didn't listen to me. She was too afraid, and she… ran away.”

 

“By the way, did you find the man the dust showed you ? Belle asked her.”

 

“Yes… His name is Robin Hood, he is an outlaw, he commands the Merry Men, and he is a good man. He is unmarried, and has some friends living with him. Him and I became kind of friends.”

 

“What are you going to do now ?”

 

“Talk with Regina, I think… I will try to. That's the reason why I am here. What will we do if it doesn't work ? If she doesn't accept to redeem herself.”

 

“Stop her. Take her magic from her, and lock her up.”

 

“You did think about it, Rumple, didn't you ?”

 

“Yes. A little, he answered to Belle. But I don't think that it's over for her. I do think that she can be saved. I could, so, why not her ?”

 

Henry nodded.

 

“I think you're right. Before we stop her physically, we have to let her know the other possibilities that she has. That she can be happy again.”

 

“I don't think that she is ready for that, admitted Tinkerbell. There is so much anger and hatred in her heart. I don't know how we could convince her.”

 

“We can't, said the sorcerer. I am almost sure that she will begin to understand that she has to stop just when she will be stopped.”

 

“So, when I will talk to her, it will be her last chance before we try to stop her, right ?”

 

“She will not be the only one. King Georges will have to be stopped too, I think he will become her ally. As he wants to destroy prince James and that she wants to destroy Snow White.”

 

Tink nodded, with a serious air.

 

§§§§

 

Regina raised an eyebrow when she saw the fairy in front of her.

 

“Why are you here ? She asked her.”

 

“To talk with you.”

 

“Oh, yes, of course, what a stupid question it is ! I know that, but about what ?”

 

“About your choices.”

 

The queen rolled her eyes.

 

“Oh… You want to tell me that I shouldn't try to get revenge ? Rumplestiltskin already tried. Come another day, when I will be in another mood.”

 

“Oh, you mean when you won't be angry any more ? You will always be, Regina, except if you accept to give up this hatred.”

 

“I won't. Never !”

 

“You could be happy, you know ? If you stopped this madness.”

 

“Why would I ? She deserves to die. To suffer.”

 

“She doesn't. Your mother is the monster. Not her.”

 

“Why are you here ? Why do you want me to stop this ?”

 

“I want to show you something. Well, someone.”

 

Tinkerbell used her magic on Regina's mirror, which showed a forest to them.

 

There was a man in the mirror, a man Regina never saw before this day. Well, that was what she thought, until she saw the lion tattoo.

 

“Wait, she asked… is it...”

 

“Yes. The man the pixie dust showed to you. His name is Robin Hood. He is an outlaw, and he is someone good.”

 

“And… you think he is my soul mate.”

 

“I don't think it, I know. You should trust me and pixie dust, you who has so faith in your magic.”

 

Regina stayed immobile, and silent.

 

“You see, I thought I couldn't be happy too. And then, Blue showed me that I was wrong. That I could.”

 

“Go.”

 

“Regina, I...”

 

“Go ! She ordered her again. Go away from me, and never come back.”

 

“You're wrong you know...”

 

“I don't care ! I don't care about him ! All I care for is my revenge, and nothing else !”

 

Tink looked at her with sadness and a hurtful look.

 

“Tell me, where is the Regina who just wanted freedom and happiness ?”

 

The queen gave her a cold and sharp look.

 

“She is dead, she answered.”

 

 

Chapter Text

A uthor's note: I don't take into account the revelation in the 6x12 episode, about who murdered David's father.

 

T here was a war.

 

There was a war in the Enchanted Forest, that was present since some weeks.

 

There was a war, but it wasn't going to last for a long time.

 

Thanks to one thing.

 

Well, one person, indeed.

 

Rumplestiltskin.

 

The one that everyone called the Sorcerer, was on Snow White's and Prince James' side, and it was a great help for them.

 

And Regina, well… Regina was furious.

 

Because she was loosing. In fact, without her magic powers, she would have surely already lost, just as King Georges' did, not a long time ago.

 

Yes, finally, the terrible king and tyrant everyone feared and despised had been stopped, and it would just be a matter of time before the same thing happened to her.

 

And by the magic, it had been so good to do it, according to David, to finally get rid off this terrible man that he hated so much.

 

This monster that turned his brother into someone that was almost as terrible as himself.

 

Who tried to separate him from his True Love, and who was ready to provoke the death of thousands of innocent people, just in order to capture him and stop him from being free.

 

Yes, the battle wasn't over, but it was a good beginning.

 

§§§§

 

The situation was still unstable, but they were happy.

 

After Rumplestiltskin came to see her, Snow White began to hope again. Not only thanks to him, but because it was something which was in her and it had been helped by the dwarfs' presence.

 

And also then, with Charming' arrival, and the growing up of their relationship.

 

Things were everything but easy, and they could tell it, Rumplestiltskin didn't lie about it. It was difficult, hard, and sharp.

 

But they had hope.

 

Hope that things would end well, just as the Sorcerer told them.

 

Because things were going good, they were winning, they almost entirely did.

 

The only enemy they still had was Regina.

 

They still didn't stop her, but yes, it was going to happen. She had no allies any more, Rumplestiltskin or Maleficent weren't on her sides any more and were redeemed/in the road of redemption.

 

Everything was bad for her, which meant that everything or almost, was good for them.

 

Oh, and… everything was really bad for the poor (or not. Definitely not, in fact) King George.

 

And Rumplestiltskin couldn't help but want to go to see him and maybe also… make fun at him, a little (or a lot. Yes, a lot. That would be so amusing.).

 

And yes, it was certainly not a good thing to do, he knew it, and maybe that Belle would disapprove it if she knew this, but the thing is that he had been a villain for centuries.

 

It wasn't easy to loose old habits…

 

And the thing is that, yes, this damn king really deserved it.

 

(By the way, he wasn't a king any more.)

 

When George saw someone appear just in front of him, in front of the door of his cellar, he had a grin. A grin which was at first ironic, and then that became disappointed.

 

“I would have expected someone else to come there, someone who has a real reason to do it.”

 

“Oh, really ? Rumplestiltskin asked him, again with his imp voice, just as he used to do when he talked with the former king. And who can this person be ?”

 

“You already know, Dark One. Or Sorcerer, in fact, I don't care about the way you want to be called by other people. I am talking about my son. If he still can be called by that name”, he added with disgust.

 

“Well, Rumplestiltskin said, the other question could be : can you yourself still be considered as a father ? Were you ever a father, in fact ?”

 

George started.

 

“Excuse me ?” He asked to the wizard with both surprise and astonishment.

 

“And it's coming from someone who is, you can trust me, a bad father. Or at least, who did a lot of mistakes. Who regretted them. Who is trying to fix them, even though he perfectly knows that it may be not possible. But you, well…. You're one of the worst fathers I ever met ! Not the worst, in fact. I guess my father wins the award.”

 

“What do you mean exactly ? I am a father !” The king protested.

 

“No, you're not, answered the wizard with both anger and fury. You're a king. Or you were. And a bad one, in fact.”

 

“I just wanted to protect my kingdom, and my people.”

 

“It's not the case. And even if it was, could you do it by taking your son's happiness from him ?”

 

George looked at him with anger.

 

“The greater good. It's worth it, this is for this that I fought.”

 

“Oh, really ? I don't think so. Was it good, to try to separate two people that loved each other ? Or, was it good, to begin a war just because you were upset that your dear adopted son didn't want to have the life of a prince ? You made so many people of your kingdom die, George, innocent people, who never wanted this to happen. Don't tell that it was good, to do it.”

 

“What do you reproach me, in fact ? You're the one who chose the first boy, my dear James, the one who died. And then, you made David come here. Did you know what would happen ?”

 

“In a way. But, I would have thought it would have been … differently. I think you're a bad father, because you killed your “sons'” father. The real one.”

 

“And then ?”

 

“Then ? Oh… you did something as bad as abandonment. As terrible. You destroyed James, turned him into a person he wasn't suppose to be. Someone like you. And you tried to do the same thing with David. Luckily, you failed.”

 

“Why do you care now ? You could have done something about that years before. Don't try to appear as being better than I am.”

 

“I never pretended it. Even though, it's the truth.”

 

“What happened to you ?”

 

“I changed.”

 

George had a sad chuckle.

 

“So, then it's true. You betrayed me. Just as you betrayed the queen. What a sad story...”

 

“Oh no, it's not. Well… the thing is that you're story is sad. And it was already the case since the beginning. And it was never my fault. You can blame me, or David, for what happened to your kingdom, but it's not us, the culprits. I know that I am not totally innocent in this story, but for the most of it, you have to know it, your majesty. You destroyed everything just by yourself. Goodbye.”

 

§§§§

 

Just as George thought he could finally be alone and in peace (and he wanted it, wanted it so bad), someone entered then, just after Rumplestiltskin.

 

Someone George certainly didn't want to see, and with who he didn't want to talk.

 

The man who defeated him, and pretended to take his place on the throne, and George would have wanted to say that it wouldn't happen before his death, but well… he was in prison now.

 

So, he couldn't stop it.

 

Too bad…

 

It was David, Prince Charming, as his dear princess named him.

 

How pathetic it was, he thought.

 

But the thing was that…. he envied him.

 

Maybe that it was the reason why he always wanted to destroy him, and never wanted him to be happy with his princess.

 

Because David was going to have the things he never was able to have.

 

Happiness.

 

A family.

 

A happy ending.

 

His own life had been harsh and painful, why would David's life be different ?

 

But despite his best efforts, it didn't work.

 

He lost.

 

David was just there, in front of him, as if he was waiting for something.

 

“What are waiting for ? His “father” asked him. Congratulations ?”

 

“Explanations”, the future king answered him.

 

“About what ?”

 

“About the reason why you did all of this. You always tried to destroy my family. I talked with Rumplestiltskin. The Sorcerer. He told me what you did to my father.”

 

“Well, technically speaking, I didn't kill him.”

 

“I don't care about the “technique”. He died because of you”, the prince told him with anger.

 

“Because he tried to take James from me.”

 

“It was his son ! He had the right to do it.”

 

“He lost his rights on him the day he made that deal with Rumplestiltskin.”

 

“Him, and my mother never had the choice ! They were trapped ! What could they do, hum ? Let us die ? They did what they thought was the best for their children ! A thing that, apparently, you never did.”

 

“I am not the only culprit of the story ! What about Rumplestiltskin ?”

 

“He admitted that he made mistakes. And he helped us, against you. He is trying to change, for the best. He helped Snow White, when she needed help. But you… hum… You're not a good father, and certainly not a good king.”

 

George then began to laugh.

 

“Do you think you can do it ? Be a good king, and replace me ? Do you think that you can be better than me ?”

 

David looked at him with a serious air.

 

“I don't know. I will try. But I swear it, I will never be like you.”

 

As he was leaving, he heard the former king's last sentence :

 

“We will see that ! As they say, never say never.”

 

David just hoped he wasn't right.

 

§§§§

 

They were going to organize a ball.

 

Rumplestiltskin had been kind of… skeptical about that (as he helped Snow and Charming taking the kingdom back, he began one of their counselor. And they listened to him.), but, as the royals told him, people needed some time with no fear, after all these things, and even though the Evil Queen was still free, she had been defeated.

 

And he was powerful enough to protect them during this ball.

 

So, he accepted it.

 

And he had been right, as it was a beautiful party.

 

Before it began, he went into a familiar house, in fact, next to it and he didn't recognize the place, until he saw a scene that should have happened in the original story, but never was, because of him.

 

In front of him, there was Cinderella, talking with her fairy god-mother.

 

He smiled for himself. Oh, yes, he remembered that.

 

What he did, when he killed this innocent fairy and made this terrible deal with Ella. A deal that he regretted he did, especially now, after all these things which happened.

 

He didn't show himself to her, just listening to the fairy telling her what was going to happen to her, the ball, the dress, the prince and the fact that she could find True Love in this place.

 

She would, he already knew it.

 

But this time, he wouldn't separate her from the love of her life, he swore.

 

He wouldn't try to take her child from her (in fact, he had no idea of what happened in his version of the story, when he made the prince disappear. As no one came to ask him about that, he guessed everything ended well for them.

 

That was a good thing.)

 

He followed them, and yes, it could sound creepy, said that way, but… no, it was creepy, but after all, he was Rumplestilt… oh, no, he already used this excuse soon, so, no.

 

Hum… he just wanted to be sure that things would be good and okay for her ?

 

Yes, it was that, and it was just a pretext, for sure, but a good one.

 

And he did want to make sure things would be alright for her.

 

And they were.

 

All smiling and dancing with Prince Thomas, seeming to be so happy to be there, having what she always wanted and deserved.

 

“They are cute, aren't they ?” Asked a woman next to him.

 

He started and then looked at her, recognizing Ella's fairy god-mother.

 

“You're…”

 

“Clara. Ella's fairy god-mother.”

 

“I know you.”

 

“And I know you too… Rumplestiltskin.”

 

“Everyone knows me”, he said, with no modesty.

 

She chuckled.

 

“I won't disagree with you. Why are you here ?”

 

“I wanted to celebrate the future Evil Queen's defeat.”

 

“Oh, yes, this… I thought you were on her side.”

 

“I used to be.”

 

“But you're the Dark One. Well, you were.”

 

“And then ?”

 

“You had the darkest magic of all the realms, and you were the most dark person in the Enchanted Forest. More than the Evil Queen herself.”

 

“What ? He protested. Without my help, she would be still fighting, and ready to cast a curse on us !”

 

The fairy smiled with irony.

 

“A curse you wanted her to cast, no ? In order to find your son.”

 

He rolled his eyes and frowned then.

 

“Wait… how do you know it ?”

 

“I talked with the Blue Fairy. She told me about this. And now, what are you going to do ? About him ?”

 

He smiled with sadness.

 

“I am going to wait for his return. Someone told me that he would come back in this realm, in the end. So, now, I have to wait, and make sure that when he will be back, I won't be the same man he used to know. Selfish and being ready to do everything to have power.”

 

Clara smiled.

 

“That seems to be a good plan.”

 

§§§§

 

Ella was happy. More than she ever was, far from her terrible step-mother and her step-sisters (who weren't that bad, but yeah, it wasn't easy to be kind when your mother was Lady Tremaine. She envied Anastasia who succeeded to escape, even though she didn't know her fate), and she was enjoying the party.

 

The prince was wonderful, not only handsome or charming, but also kind, and she was savoring their talk just as the dance itself, or the party.

 

It wasn't love, not yet.

 

But she really felt like she could fall in love with him very rapidly.

 

The dance stopped, and she smiled at him, before bowing, just as he himself did. She came next to a table, taking a glass of water and trying to calm her breath.

 

Oh, by the magic, it was even more wonderful that she ever thought it would be ! Her fairy god-mother had been so kind to offer her this dream ! She had to thank her for that.

 

Then, her smile rapidly faded, as she realized it, the truth.

 

Yes.

 

A dream.

 

It wasn't something more like that, and in a few hours, it would be the end of it and she would come back to her miserable life.

 

She turned her head, trying to make all these depressive thoughts disappear, and she tried to enjoy what she could still have.

 

And if it was just a dream, well, she was going to enjoy every second of it.

 

And it was time for another dance !

 

“Oh, excuse-me, I didn't see you.”

 

Ella started and looked at the person just next to her, who gave her a smile to which she answered. And then, she recognized her. It was princess – well, queen now – Snow White.

 

“Oh, hello your majesty”, she said to her with respect, before bowing.

 

“You don't have to do this, you know. And please, just call me Snow”, she said, as she always said to anyone else.

 

Ella nodded, and the queen looked at her. She had been lying just before, because her purpose what to make this meeting arrive. Her and David were Thomas's friend, he was a good and kind man, and yes, his eyes had been on the young unknown person during all the ball.

 

She was glad they finally decided to organize it, if it could help Thomas find someone with who he could fall in love in love, with time.

 

But her and Charming wanted to make sure that she would be the good one, or at least, that she did care for Thomas for himself, not just because he was a prince.

 

But she didn't seem to be that way, and Snow suddenly relaxed, as they began talking.

 

She was a nice and interesting girl, but she was someone Snow never saw before.

 

“What's your name ?”

 

“My name is Ella, your… hum… Snow.”

 

“I am happy I met you Ella. Really. I hope you will come back tomorrow and the day after.”

 

“Tomorrow ?”

 

“Yes. The ball is supposed to last three days, and I just wish you will be there for the two other one.”

 

“Well your majesty, thanks for...”

 

But before she could finish her sentence, she heard it.

 

The clock.

 

It was midnight, and she had to leave, right now. It was the condition the fairy gave to her, and she had to go, before her outfits and magic disappeared.

 

“Goodbye your majesty, and thanks for inviting me. I am sorry I can't”, she said, before bowing again, and running.

 

Had been she not leaving, she would have saw the sad air on Thomas' face.

 

Rumplestiltskin and the fairy god-mother were both looking at it, smiling.

 

(Oh, and hidden from the eyes of everyone, of course.

 

They were discrete.)

 

“I never understood it, you know ? He said. All this “you have to come back before midnight, and don't tell your prince who you are, so then he will find you thanks to your shoe.” It always seemed absurd to me.”

 

She laughed.

 

“Every story needs a little drama”, she said.

 

§§§§

 

She came back to the two other days of the ball, and during these one, the prince only danced with her. Yes, it clearly appeared to anyone who looked at this that these two people were falling in love under their eyes, and it was something good to see, especially after that war against George and Regina.

 

But again, she left, two times.

 

And Rumplestiltskin had been the one who came to see the prince, and he gave her the famous shoe, and enchanted it. So Thomas would find her, he put that spell on it, just as he did (in the other version of the story) with David's ring, when he helped him find Snow White.

 

“You know, I think your dear princess is just waiting for you. This will give you a great help.”

 

He looked at him and smiled, with an air of gratitude.

 

“Thanks for this, Sorcerer, Thomas replied. I understand the reason why Snow and David have such esteem for you.”

 

“It's nothing, you know, he answered, before letting him go.”

 

And he sighed with relief.

 

At least, he fixed that part of the story, before ruining it.

 

§§§§

 

She was going to escape, she was sure of that.

 

Yes, she was going to…

 

Then she stopped, blocked by a spell.

 

There was a man in front of her, who was having a sad smile.

 

Regina had an air of anger.

 

“You”, she whispered to him.

 

“I guess you still don't want to listen to me… I am sorry Regina,” Rumplestiltskin said.

 

“Let me go !” She ordered him.

 

“No”, the Sorcerer said, before putting something on her arm.

 

It was an anti-magic bracelet, and when she felt that she couldn't use her magic any more, she had an air of horror.

 

“No… she said with terror. You did it to me. You took my magic from me.”

 

“I didn't, he said, stopping his spell. I stopped you from using it. And no, you're not going anywhere, because, you see… there is someone who really wants to see you.”

 

Regina turned back.

 

There was someone in front of her.

 

Snow White.

 

“Hello Regina”, the new Queen told her with sadness.

 

She was in Hell, and she was lost in it, Regina realized.

 

What was the former princess going to do to her ?

 

She was afraid of knowing the answer...

Chapter Text

R umplestiltskin left them alone.

 

Snow White, she whispered with anger. You.”

 

Don't worry Regina, the young woman answered. I don't like it either, because, you know… I never wanted this to happen. All of this. This war. This terrible hatred.”

 

You killed Daniel ! He died because of you ! Because you couldn't keep that secret from my mother. She killed him ! She crushed his heart, and mine at the same moment. I died this day !” She screamed, finally letting her hatred and her pain explode and leave her, for good.

 

I was a child, whispered Snow. She manipulated me, and I am almost sure that, if I shut up, she would have certainly used her magic on me. You know her… You know what kind of monster she is, Rumplestiltskin told me about her. I know what she did to you, and Regina, I am sorry.”

 

Regina snorted.

 

“Do you think it change anything ?”

 

You killed my father. And you tried to kill me, so many times. You started a war, in order to break me, to destroy me. Everyone thinks you're a monster, but I don't.”

 

“Oh… How kind you are ! Should I thank you ?”

 

Once upon a time, you were a good woman. Someone with a great and big heart, someone who was ready and willing to help people. Not to use dark magic to get what she wanted, and she didn't want to have revenge.”

 

I already told it to Tinkerbell. She is gone.”

 

No, you're wrong. As long as I will think there is still good and light in you Regina, I will fight for you. Just as you used to do for me.”

 

R egina trembled a little at these words, and maybe that there was a little hope in her eyes, but Snow didn't want to hope too much.

 

It was too early.

 

Then, it just disappeared.

 

I never did it.”

 

You saved me. You saved my life, because I was in danger. Because I was a little girl who just needed help. Just as yourself does now.”

 

Regina grinned.

 

“I am not a little girl any more”, she said, trying to force her voice to stay firm.

 

No. But you need help.”

 

Your help ?”

 

Someone's help, at least. Regina, even though you think it, you're not alone. I am here, and your father is there too, just as Rumplestiltskin.”

 

“And then what ? What do you intend to do ?”

 

“Both of, we want to fix our mistakes, and help you fix yours.”

 

T hen, something happened in Regina. Her eyes began full of tears, but she never let them fall She just looked at her former strep-daughter, and had an ironic smile.

 

Well, congratulations, your Majesty, she said with sarcasm. I guess you won.”

 

Snow just sighed, understanding it would be a long road for both of them, before they forgave each other. She called for the guards to bring her at her castle.

 

“Yes, Regina. But it doesn't mean that you lost.”

 

§§§§

 

They were now in the council's room, and were trying to figure out what to do about the queen. Most of them were there : Snow, of course, with David, as the dwarfs, Ruby and her grand-mother, the Blue Fairy and Jiminy Cricket, just as Henry. As it was about his daughter. And also Rumplestiltskin, for sure, just as Belle who came with him.

 

“How is she ?” Asked David as Snow and the Sorcerer came back.

 

“Alone, in pain, broken. She just lost after all, I don't know what I expected…” Snow said with disappointment.

 

“That she would understand she was wrong.”

 

“Your adoptive father didn't do it, I don't know why she would have done it.”

 

David walked in her direction, close to her. And he took her hands.

 

“They are not the same. He always was evil, or at least, he already was when I met him. It's different with her. You knew that part of her which was good, and if you still see it in her, I trust you. I believe that you will be able to save from herself and darkness.”

 

The Queen smiled.

 

“Thanks David, she whispered. But now, what do we do ?”

 

“I propose that we put her head on a pick, and walk with it in the streets, Granny said, almost not kidding.

 

“Granny !” Red protested.

 

“I am sorry kid, but the thing is it. She is evil. People hate her, and they are right to do it, I do. Snow, how can you even imagine to forgive her ?”

 

“Don't worry Granny, that won't happen so easily. She will need to gain her forgiveness.”

 

“I hope so ! She murdered the King.”

 

“If I can say something… Rumplestiltskin added.”

 

He then received Granny's look, which was very much frightening, and he felt relieved that he still had his power. By the magic, this woman was really something !

 

“The Queen… the former queen… she didn't become someone terrible just in a day. I contributed to it, just as her mother.”

 

“And I too, Henry said. I wasn't able to stop her mother, I wasn't strong enough.”

 

“And I know that you all loved the King, especially you princess...”

 

“He didn't love her, interrupted Snow. He never loved her, I know it. I know that he wasn't a good husband for her. My mother's death broke him.”

 

“She was alone for years, married to a man she didn't love and never wanted to marry. And who was her mother's former lover, if I have to say it.”

 

“What ?”

 

Rumplestiltskin smiled and had a grin as he saw everyone's shocked faces. Except Henry, who knew that there had been other people in Cora's life and heart before him.

 

“She almost married him, before… well, that's a long story, and we are not here to talk about that. She was locked up for years, and unhappy. Yes, she was a queen, but, before darkness invaded her, before she completely fell, before we made her fall… she didn't like that. We destroyed her, and any time she tried to flee, we… I stopped her.”

 

Silence followed his declaration.

 

“Alright, said Granny. And then ? She hurt and killed people, and she can't bring them back. But there are other people that she imprisoned, and that we need to free.”

 

“I agree, said Snow, suddenly becoming pale. There is someone I have to get free.”

 

“Who ?” Red asked.

 

“The Huntsman. The man who saved my life, while he was supposed to kill me.”

 

“Didn't she kill him ?” Asked Belle, knowing how cruel the queen could be.

 

“Now. I saw him later. And… I don't know what she did to him, but...”

 

“She took his heart, Blue said. That's what she does, just as her mother used to do. So, she can control people, and stop them from leaving her.”

 

Snow White's eyes opened wide with horror.

 

“Then, we have to go to the castle, and free him, and all the other people imprisoned and the one who don't deserve it !”

 

Granny looked outside, and shrugged, seeing it was the night now.

 

“Well, fine. I didn't have anything important to do that evening.”

 

Red smiled.

 

§§§§

 

To live in Regina's castle… was terrible. The queen was gone, and he couldn't leave, and even didn't know where his heart was.

 

Snow and David were living in George's former castle, and there was no one now in the castle.

 

Expect him.

 

Graham.

 

The Huntsman.

 

The one who had been destroyed and abused by the Evil Queen, and who still suffered from it, even though she stopped it by herself, realizing what kind of monster she was becoming.

 

He took a deep breath.

 

And heard a noise.

 

The door of the castle opened, and when he saw Snow White's face, for the first time since a long time, he felt something else than despair.

 

It was kind of a hope.

 

“Snow ?” He asked with both surprise and amazement.

 

She ran into his arms, and embraced him.

 

“I am so happy to see you Graham. I am happy to see that you're safe.”

 

“Well, he added, more for himself than for her, safe may not be the good word.”

 

She looked at him with understanding, and put her hand on his chest.

 

She tried not to appear moved, when she heard there was no beating.

 

“I know. For your heart. In fact, we are here to fix it !”

 

He opened his eyes wide.

 

“You're here for me ? You came here for me ?”

 

“Of course ! You saved my life, and sacrificed yours for me ! That's the less I can do.”

 

He smiled then to her, a smile which was almost true and happy.

 

“Now, I do really know why I did it.”

 

And Snow replied to his smile, before walking away from him.

 

“Do you know where it is ? Your heart ?”

 

“I don't know where the room is, she changed the place where the hearts are. I am sorry Snow, but I don't think I can find them.”

 

“I can !” Red affirmed.

 

Graham, who at first just paid attention to Snow, turned back, and was confronted to a magnificent woman.

 

She was dressed in white and red, and also had a red cloak, but before he was able to say something, Snow told her friend, with pride :

 

“You're hearing them, right ?”

 

Red nodded and looked at this man who seemed to be so lost and desperate, and who saved her best friend from her terrible fate.

 

She thought that she had to thank him, when it would be time.

 

The little group walked into a direction Red indicated to them, and Graham tried not to run.

 

He was trembling, and the reason why could be understood easily.

 

He was so close from being free from his terrible Hell !

 

“Hey, a young woman told him. You're okay ?”

 

He turned his head and saw a brunette just next to him, smiling to him in a reassuring way. He tried to reply to her smile, but it wasn't really a success.

 

“I am sorry, she added, I guess it was a useless question.”

 

“I am going to be fine, when I have my heart back. If nothing wrong happens before.”

 

“It will be fine, she said with hope.”

 

“How can you be sure of that ?”

 

She smiled.

 

“I know what it is…. When things are dark, and that everything is hopeless. My kingdom had been attacked by ogers, and my mom died. We were loosing, and I could have lost everything, but then… She looked at Rumplestiltskin. Then, I met him, and he saved us.”

 

She smiled larger.

 

Graham looked at the man just there, and looked back at her.

 

Her eyes were full of love, and her face was surely full of happiness, it was easy to see it.

 

“I hope I will one day have the luck to have what you seem to share with him.”

 

“You will,” Belle assured him.

 

“I found it !” Red said, interrupting them.

 

Graham froze, and this time, he ran, arriving just next to Red.

 

“You're sure ?” He asked her with anxiety, not wanted to be disappointed.

 

The werewolf nodded.

 

“Yes, of course I am. My senses never lie to me”, she added, with a little sarcasm that only Snow and Granny and maybe Belle too understood.

 

Then, they opened the door, entered, and all froze.

 

There were plenty of hearts in it.

 

Well, they couldn't see it, but they heard them.

 

Boom. Boom. Boom .

 

Some of them became pale, as Graham tried to stay assured.

 

But he couldn't help but trembling, both from fear and excitement.

 

Tell me, Snow asked him, since how many time did she take your heart ?”

 

Since the day I let you go.”

 

Sn ow's eyes opened wide this time, and she shivered.

 

“It had been that long ?” She demanded, astonished.

 

“When she understood what I did… Yeah, when she realized it wasn't your heart but the one of an animal, she entered in a terrible anger, and…. She took it. And then...”

 

“And then what ?” Whispered Snow White, afraid of what her step-mother may did to him.

 

She abused of me so many times that I can't even count them.

 

He answered nothing.

 

She didn't have to know, it wasn't her fault, but the queen's, and by the way, he was still doing it.

 

Protecting her.

 

He smiled.

 

“Nothing. It doesn't matter.”

 

He didn't see that Red just raised an eyebrow. Something was wrong with him, about that. She saw how tensed he seemed to be when Snow asked him this question, how his eyes were full of fear and sadness, and pain too.

 

He was lying to them, something terrible happened, she was sure of that.

 

He was a Huntsman, someone courageous, and brave, and noble too, who didn't hesitate to sacrifice his own life so Snow would be safe. And he saved someone he didn't know, instead of saving himself.

 

There was something wrong int all of this.

 

She looked at Belle, who probably made the same conclusions as her.

 

The Queen destroyed something in the Huntsman.

 

And they were going to figure out what it was.

 

“I am sorry Graham, Snow finally said, too shocked before this to be able to answer properly. I wish we came there soon, but you see, we arrested the Queen just this night, so...”

 

The Huntsman looked at her with surprise.

 

“You stopped her ? You arrested her ?”

 

“Yes, we did.”

 

And this time, the man had a real and true smile.

 

So, here it is.

 

My Hell is over .

 

And he just breathed.

 

“Thanks Snow. Now, I know it, I'm free.”

 

You will be, as soon as we find your heart.”

 

Now, they were just seven in the room, as the other one were in other places of the castle : Snow, David, Rumple, Graham himself, Ruby, Belle and Blue were there.

 

At that moment the Blue Fairy, who just cast a location spell, exclaimed :

 

It's just there ! She said, pointing with her finger one of the different boxes, which was just next to Red. The woman then took it, and opened it, shivering as she saw for the first time a real heart, just there, beating extremely fast.

 

She listened to the sound, fascinated by this red heart that was just under her eyes.

 

Red.

 

Red as her cloak.

 

Red as blood, and without being able to stop it, she began to think about Peter, and how red his blood had been on the ground, after she killed him.

 

She shivered again, and almost began to tremble.

 

“Are you okay ?” Graham asked her, seeming to worry about her.

 

It just made her tremble even more. He was the one without a heart, and he was the one who was asking her if she was okay ?

 

Yes, I am. I was just… thinking about old and sad memories. I am sorry I lost myself in my thoughts, I guess you just want to get your heart back.”

 

H e smiled.

 

“You know, I had been without it for so long… I guess some seconds won't be too much to wait.”

 

“Don't worry, you don't have to wait any more.”

 

She took his heart in her hand, in a gentle and soft way. The sound of the beating fastened, and, as he saw someone else having his own heart in it s hand, Graham' eyes became large, because of his fear. He remembered the queen taking it, even though she didn't do it since some times, he was still hurt by all these things she did to hi m.

 

He trembled again, not being any more able to move, or to say anything, his look full of terror, as he began to breath heavily.

 

Red then looked at him, and understood in some seconds what was going on.

 

Hey, she told him. You're alright, okay ? Everything is alright, I am not going to try to control, you have to know it. I will just put it right back in your chest, okay ?”

 

Graham' breath became slower, and he nodded, seeming to be more confident.

 

Red smiled to him, and approached him.

 

Delicately, she put the heart close to his chest, and put it into it.

 

Graham just gasped as he felt his heart returning back to its right place, after months and months without it.

 

And, for the fi r st time since what seemed like forever , he just breathed .

 

His face changed completely, the pain wasn't there any more, there was just some joy and peace.

 

And gratitude too.

 

A gratitude he was truly feeling toward Red, and, overwhelmed by these new emotions he didn't feel before this day, as he stopped feeling when the queen took his heart, he took the werewolf in his arm s , and put her into a strong embrace.

 

Thank you”, he whispered to her ear, the voice almost broken by the emotion, as he began to cry.

 

Despite her surprise, she replied to his embrace, a little troubled by this.

 

She wasn't r e ally used to it, in fact.

 

Red was a lonely woman, she almost always was. Before she met Snow White and Belle, she had just her grand-mother and Peter, that's it, as Granny never really let her go out.

 

After she killed Peter, her and Snow White lived together, and their link grew even more, after Red's mother died.

 

And yes, now, as she finally accepted the wolf in her, she had a family (Granny and Snow), and plenty of friends (Belle of course, but also David, the dwarfs, and a little Rumplestiltskin too), and she didn't feel alone any more.

 

But it didn't mean that it was completely easy for her to accept people.

 

The thing wasn't that people didn't accept her, there were many people in Snow's entourage who became her friends, who knew who she was, and who didn't care.

 

She accepted herself, but she was still scared to hurt the other.

 

So yes, she wasn't really used to human contact.

 

They finally separated, and Ruby blushed. If she excepted her mother (one time) , Belle, Snow, or Granny, people usually didn't embrace her in their arms.

 

It was surprising, but, not horrible.

 

It had been good.

 

Well, she said, trying to gain back her composure, now that we found your heart, what if we left this place ?”

 

Graham smiled.

 

“I agree with this.”

 

§§§§

 

After they did all the things they had to do in Regina's castle, they left, just for the night (they would come back the next day), and Belle came to see Red and talk with her about a certain Huntsman.

 

A s she saw her next to her, and when she saw her eyes and her look, and her smile, she just rolled her eyes.

 

Please, don't talk.”

 

Why ? I was saying nothing !”

 

“But you were going to…”

 

Yes… maybe.”

 

“Then tell me.”

 

“This Huntsman… Graham. You like him, don't you ?”

 

“Belle !”

 

What ? I am your friend, we can talk about this together, no ?”

 

About what ?”

 

“Him ! Tell me, how do you feel about this new encounter ?”

 

What do you want me to say ?”

 

“Just what you think of it.”

 

He seems to be a good guy...”

 

“And ?”

 

And what ? Yes, I like him, but just as someone I just met, just when it happened when I met you or Snow.”

 

“Yes, but… I am sure there is something else.”

 

“No !”

 

Your eyes tell me the contrary.”

 

Red blushed, because, yes, Belle was right, she felt a connection with this man.

 

I just met him !”

 

“Don't you believe at love at first sight ?”

 

Yes, but… this is not what happened.”

 

I am not telling you that you should be in love with him since the moment you saw him. For me, love at first sight is no to see a person and then immediately know that it will be the one, and to be in love directly. No, for me, it's to feel a connection with this person. So ?”

 

Red had a sad smile.

 

Yes. I like him. But please, don't say anything else about it.”

 

Belle chuckled.

 

“I promise.”

 

§§§§

 

George stand up and turned back.

 

Then, he had a grin.

 

In front of him was the queen, Snow White.

 

“Well… many people come to see me these times… Why are you here ?”

 

“It's not the time to joke George. You're in a very bad position now.”

 

“I am in prison. I don't think it can be worst.”

 

“I'm here to talk to you. To tell you that your trial will be in two days.”

 

“Of what am I accused ?”

 

“War crimes. Murders. Cruelty. That you were a tyrant. A monster. I am not saying that because you tried to destroy my happiness. David and I weren't the only one who suffered from what you did.”

 

He smiled.

 

“I guess I am already condemned.”

 

“No. You will have a fair trial. But I have no doubt about the fact that you will be condemned. This time is over, George.”

 

“What time ?”

 

“The time where you could do anything you wanted with no impunity.”

 

He didn't answer.

 

Snow White had been right. He was condemned for everything he did. George would stay in prison forever, for all the things he did.

 

And everyone in the realm just made a great sight of relief.

 

They would be in peace now, they believed it.

 

§§§§

 

He hadn't been the only one who had been visited while he was in prison.

 

Regina had been too.

 

Some days passed before that, and she had time to think about all of this.

 

About Snow's, Tink' and Rumplestiltskin' words.

 

And about what she did.

 

About what she lost.

 

Her innocence, her will to help people.

 

Her desire not to be like her mother, or Leopold.

 

But she had been wrong, so wrong.

 

And she was realizing it.

 

Maybe that she always knew it, just as when she was abusing Graham but was trying not to take it into account.

 

She hurt her father.

 

She hurt Snow White.

 

She hurt innocent people.

 

She even hurt herself, when she put herself into darkness.

 

And now, what could she do ?

 

Would really Snow White let her live her life ?

 

Or was it just a trap ?

 

No, no, she could think many things about Snow White, but this, no. She wasn't… she wasn't manipulative.

 

She wasn't like her, and Regina felt happy that she wasn't able to corrupt the young woman.

 

Then, she was taken out of her thoughts, with Rumplestiltskin' arrival.

 

During the previous months, she didn't really see him, or at least, she never examined him.

 

But now, she was fully looking at her former mentor.

 

He seemed to be happy.

 

Relieved.

 

In peace.

 

And she was envying him.

 

“Why are you here ?”

 

“I am not here to parade. I want to help you. How do you feel ?”

 

“I lost. I don't have my magic any more, and my enemies won over me.”

 

“Tell me the truth Regina… Tell me if it helped you or not.”

 

“What… To loose ?

 

“No. To be stopped before you did something terrible.”

 

“I wish I could do it Rumple ! I wish I could make this anger, all this hatred disappear, but I can't !”

 

“Why not ?”

 

“Because this is the only thing I still have ! I will be nothing if I don't keep it with me !”

 

Rumplestiltskin looked at her with astonishment.

 

“You really think it ?”

 

“Yes, of course ! I have nothing and no one, except this feeling.”

 

“But, Regina… It's absurd. You lost Snow and your father because of this hatred.”

 

Regina had tears in her eyes.

 

“I know you're right Rumple. I doesn't mean it will be easy to do it.”

 

“Will you try ?”

 

She sighed.

 

“I don't know...”

 

§§§§

 

Rumplestiltskin had a sigh of annoyance when he came back to his castle.

 

“Hey, you're right ?” Asked Belle to her lover.

 

“No, not at all… It's about the queen… Well, the former one, Regina. I told you that I wanted to help her to redeem herself, well… that won't be really easy.”

 

“What do you think you can do ?”

 

“I don't know”, the Sorcerer confessed.

 

“You see, maybe that my suggestion is absurd, but when I don't have an answer, I search for it in a book.”

 

Rumplestiltskin started, and had a grin, knowing where he could find an answer.

 

“This is not, because you see… I think that I remember in which book I should search.”

 

He came in one of the room of the castle, where Henry's storybook was, and he opened it, searching for an element, something that would make Regina understand how evil Cora was, and that she was the real monster in this story.

 

Something that would stop her stupid rage against Snow.

 

Then, he found something that happened in the past, something his past lover did to her daughter, and he had a sad small.

 

“Oh, Cora… he whispered, I already knew that you were a monster, but… I didn't know that you went that far...”

 

Now, he knew what to do.

Chapter Text

W hen he came back to her cellar, Regina had a look of surprise.

 

What are you doing here ? I thought we had enough talk the other night !”

 

“Stay calm your majesty, please. I may have some news for you.”

 

“Oh, really ? About what ?”

 

He took an object from his bag. Then, Regina raised an eyebrow.

 

“Alright… It's a book. What do you want me to do, read it ?

 

No. I want you to listen to me. I read it, in fact, I read a particular passage, where you are. And it deals with a moment of your past.”

 

The former queen looked at him with interest.

 

“And then ?”

 

“It's about something you lived, but that you forgot because of magic. Because of your mother, and maybe that when you will remember, you will see her true face.”

 

“What will it change exactly ?”

 

You already know that your mother destroyed your life, but you still think Snow White did it. When I will give you your memories back, you will be forced to see that she didn't. Give me your hands.”

 

Regina sighed, before accepting.

 

After all, maybe he wasn't wrong, and if it could help her to stop her anger against Snow White…

 

She could try it.

 

He took her hands, broke the spell Cora put on her these years ago, and for the first time since years, Regina saw again in her mind the red-headed little girl who helped her and that she used to consider as a sister.

 

All the memories she forgot hit her.

 

And Regina stopped breathing.

 

§§§§

 

Mother acting like mother always does.

 

The die of a hope, the one that for a time, she could have what she always wanted.

 

Cries and screams.

 

And a cruel separation.

 

I promise, I'll be good.”

 

We are sisters !”

 

I will find you, I promise !”

 

Actually, you won't.”

 

And then, there had been nothing anymore .

 

“Zelena !” Regina finally gasped, as Rumplestiltskin released her hands.

 

The queen almost fell on the ground, tears appearing in her eyes, her look now both full of joy and horror.

 

I had a sister, she whispered with her voice full of love and delight. No… I have a sister”, she corrected, now smiling, before the truth hit her.

 

You should sit down”, the Sorcerer told her, seeing her legs trembling, sitting himself on a chair.

 

She did it, but it didn't stop her hands from trembling.

 

She didn't know what to think about it, well, she didn't eve n know what to feel about it.

 

Her mind was now just a mess, where the only thing she could think about was her lost sister.

 

So, she did it even before I began to defy her”, Regina said with bitterness.

 

“Do what ?”

 

Stopping me from being happy. Trying to take from me all the things I wanted to have, just because it wouldn't be good for her.”

 

T he queen slowly began to cry. Not only about what her mother did to her, but also about what she herself did, what she lost, what she destroyed.

 

And she was beginning to understand that her dear mother took everything from her.

 

And from Zelena too.

 

She never cared for me, or my happiness, the queen whispered. She never loved me.”

 

“She never could. She took her heart from herself even before you were born.”

 

What happened ? Between you and her.”

 

She had been humiliated during a ball, when she was young. She pretended being able to make gold, which wasn't the case at that time. I made a deal with her, and I learned her magic after she asked me to. We fell in love, but power was more important for her, so she ripped out her own heart, so she would never feel anything for me.”

 

“I am sorry.”

 

“Don't be. I am one of the reasons why she turned into this monster she is now.”

 

She chose it. You helped her, but… what happened to her didn't happen just because of you.”

 

“Exact. But what happened to you happened because of me.”

 

“What happened to her ?” Asked Regina with horror, remembering she never knew what happened to Zelena then.

 

Your mother sent her back in Oz after she saved you. After she erased your memories. After she separated both of you.”

 

Regina nodded. She wasn't trembling any more, but seemed to think.

 

And, despite how terrible these memories could be, she had a smile.

 

I have a sister.”

 

I am a sister.

 

And Rumplestiltskin smiled too.

 

§§§§

 

It had been since weeks, even months, that Regina was thinking about all this situation.

 

About what she did, how people saw her, and it began the day Rumplestiltskin came to see her, after his curse broke thanks to Belle.

 

Despite all the things she said, it did touch her, it did affect her, and a part of her began to think that maybe, it could happen to her too.

 

That it wasn't too late, that she could find something else than her hatred.

 

Something else to fight for.

 

And now, she found it.

 

“Hum, Regina… the former Dark One said, a little uncomfortable, I didn't tell you everything.”

 

The queen raised her head, and looked at him with suspicion.

 

“About what ?” She asked, a little worried.

 

“About what I did to your sister.”

 

“What did you do to her ?” She demanded, with her voice full of protectiveness.

 

“I turned her heart black. Just as I did with yours.”

 

“What do you mean ?”

 

“She came to see me. She needed someone to help her to control her magic. But… she learned that I chose you as my student, and chose you to cast my Dark Curse. She became jealous of you, because you had been chosen by everyone. Your mother, me… Her skin turned green, and she began to hate you.”

 

Regina's eyes opened wide with surprise.

 

“She hates me ?” She exclaimed, with both surprise, pain and horror.

 

“As much as she hates me, or your mother. She became the Wicked Witch of the West. She still lives in Oz now.”

 

“She hates me because she thinks I have a better life than her. She hates me for no reason. Just as I do with Snow White.”

 

Rumple grinned.

 

“I am happy I didn't have to make this parallel between the two of you.”

 

Regina smiled too.

 

“Please, Rumple, could you make my father come here ? I want to talk to him, and apologize. We will talk about my sister later, and figure out what we can do about her.”

 

He nodded and left her.

 

§§§§

 

A worried and hopeful Snow White immediately came to see him as he entered in the throne's room.

 

“So ?” She asked him.

 

“It worked, he answered her. She listened to me, and now, I know that she is ready to change, and do everything to redeem herself. Maybe she already was before, but now, she accepted it.”

 

An air of relief appeared on her face, and she sighed.

 

“Oh, thanks God ! She exclaimed. And thank you. Now, maybe that we are making progress.”

 

“She wants to see you, the Sorcerer told to Henry, who was listening carefully. She wants to talk with you.”

 

“I am coming right now, he said.”

 

With no hesitation, Snow gave a key to Henry.

 

“You can open her cellar, if you want not to be separated from her, and if you want to embrace her.”

 

Henry smiled.

 

“Thanks, your majesty”, he said with gratitude.

 

When he entered and looked at his daughter, that he didn't see since the day where he left her castle, not wanting to help her destroy herself any more, he didn't really recognize her.

 

Her look was different, there was much less anger and hatred, and she seemed more appeased.

 

He had no idea of what Rumplestiltskin did to her or told her, but it really worked.

 

“Hello daddy”, she said with a smile.

 

“Hello Regina, my darling.”

 

He opened then the door under Regina's stupefied look.

 

“What are you doing ?”

 

“Snow White allowed me to do it, to free you for some minutes, so we won't be too far from each other.”

 

Regina smiled.

 

Now that her eyes were opened, and that she saw the truth as clearly as she saw things, she realized that what she used to see as Snow's weakness – her kindness and ability to forgive people – was in reality one of her greatest strengths.

 

She immediately threw herself in her father's arms, embracing him.

 

“I missed you, and I am sorry for all these things I did. I am sorry I forced you to leave me, when you realized I was on the wrong way. I am sorry.”

 

“What happened to you my dear ?”

 

“Rumplestiltskin opened my eyes. He helped me see how terrible mother always was, and now, I know. It doesn't make disappear what I did, but… I hope it's a good beginning.”

 

“You can fix your mistakes… I am sure of this, just as Snow White is.”

 

“I love you daddy.”

 

“I love you too, my child.”

 

§§§§

 

As Snow White asked to see her, she came in the council's room, being looked by many pairs of furious or afraid eyes.

 

People weren't that many, in fact, the royals were there, Rumplestiltskin, Belle, Red, the Blue Fairy, the dwarfs, Granny, Jiminy… Well, everyone that always were with the queen and the king.

 

All their friends.

 

There was the Huntsman too, and Regina felt ashamed for what she did to him, realizing with relief that he must have gotten his heart back.

 

He didn't seem to be angry.

 

Or he was hiding it well, being really close from the werewolf and Regina suddenly said :

 

“I am sorry. I know it excuses nothing, and I know that I will for sure never be forgiven by you, but… it's true. I am sorry.”

 

He said nothing, but, unlike him, the woman next to him sent her death stares.

 

She understood it.

 

There was still a light of fear in his eyes, and it was sure that he forgot nothing about what she did to him.

 

“Can I leave while she is in this room ?” He asked.

 

Snow White immediately nodded.

 

“I'm coming with him”, Red said, still looking at the queen with a furious look.

 

They both did.

 

§§§§

 

“You didn't have to do this.”

 

Red smiled.

 

“Of course I had to.”

 

She took her friend in her arms, just as she always did when he was having a panic attack thinking about what the queen did to him.

 

She hoped that one day, these fears would be gone forever.

 

§§§§

 

“I am sorry.”

 

Dreamy chuckled.

 

“Hum… okay, if you say it. I mean… do you really think it will be enough ?”

 

“Dreamy ! Snow interrupted. Let her continue, please.”

 

And she gave Regina a smile, and it made something break in her.

 

“How do you do this ?”

 

“Excuse me ?”

 

“How do you succeed to do it ? To be so kind, so good toward me. Despite all these things I did to you, despite how hard I tried to break you. You never fell. Why ?”

 

“Thanks to you Regina, of course. You're the one who taught me hope, just as my mother taught me to be kind. You're the one who told me that True Love did matter, and that it worth fighting for it.”

 

“I am not this young woman anymore, she said with sadness and bitterness. She had been broken. Broken by life and other. And by herself.”

 

“I am here to listen to you Regina… What made this to you ?”

 

“My mother took the man I loved from me, she said, not caring that she was looked by everyone, not caring that it may be her trial, not caring that she would talk about what destroyed her in the past. She took someone else from me, but I remembered it just this day. She made me blame you Snow, and I am sorry.”

 

“It's not the only thing, right ? Asked the princess. My father… he didn't help, right ?”

 

Regina froze.

 

“Snow… Trust me, you don't want to know it.”

 

“I do. I need to.”

 

“He never loved me. Not that I ever did, in fact, but… he… he abused of me, for years.”

 

Snow's face became pale, and she began to tremble.

 

And Regina talked about her life. The loneliness, the despair after Daniel's death. The coldness of this husband she didn't love, her magic growing up, just as her hatred.

 

Snow talked too. About what happened to her after she fled from the castle, after Graham spared her life. She told her how hurt she was to know that she was so hated by her.

 

When it ended, they both fell into each other' arms, both crying about these lost years.

 

Rumplestiltskin smiled.

 

It was something that Henry (the one from the other world) wouldn't blame him for not doing it.

 

§§§§

 

Months passed, and a lot of things changed.

 

Regina did, at first, and no, it hadn't been easy.

 

She helped fixing things that had been destroyed during the different wars, the one leaded by George or by herself.

 

People became less and less suspicious toward her, as she showed her will to help them, and the thing was that she was really changing.

 

She trained with both the fairies and Rumplestiltskin, in order to use white magic instead of dark, and if it had been difficult at first, it became more easier, when she began not to use her emotions of anger and pain to use her magic.

 

One of her first actions of help had been to free the Genie from his mirror.

 

She was doing the other one just right now.

 

She looked at the forest just where she was, and she shivered.

 

How terrible she had been to send these children there !

 

She used her magic to suddenly teleport herself in front of them.

 

They were still alive, but they were not in a good form, and they were cold, and didn't look well.

 

Immediately, Gretel put herself in front of her brother, in order to protect him from this terrible woman. The queen smiled to her, a non evil one, but the little girl was too used to her tricks to be able to trust her.

 

“Why are you here ? What do you want from us ? You already took everything we had ! And then, hum ? You will separate us, just you did with our father ?”

 

Regina was surely impressed, despite all the time that passed, they still had faith in their father, still thinking he didn't abandon them.

 

“No, I won't. I am here to help you.”

 

“Help ? Asked Gretel, astonished. We don't want your help. Especially not if this one is to send us in a place from where we can't go out !”

 

Regina sighed. Then, she looked more carefully at Hansel, who was saying nothing, almost ready to go to sleep.

 

Ad maybe to never wake up.

 

She began to feel scared for them.

 

She knew they wouldn't follow her, so she used her magic on them, so they would feel better, and not to feel cold anymore.

 

Gretel started.

 

“What…

 

“I am not here to hurt you. I told, you, I want to help you. I changed, and I am here to help you get back to you father. I want to fix what I did.”

 

And, just before Gretel was able to say anything, she transported them just in front of their father. This one looked at his children, and started, before smiling.

 

“Gretel ? Hansel ?”

 

“Papa ! They both said with joy, running into his arms.”

 

As they embraced each other happily, Regina just smiled and left, not waiting for any thank you.

 

She didn't think she deserved to be thanked for fixing her past mistakes and crimes.

 

§§§§

 

It was still not over, but she did fix most of the bad things she did, and she came to see Rumplestiltskin, one day, in his castle.

 

She met Belle for the real second time.

 

That is to say that they were both alone, with no one with them.

 

“Regina.”

 

“Belle.”

 

It really felt awkward.

 

“If I am not wrong, I didn't apologize.”

 

“For what ?”

 

“For trying to manipulate you.”

 

“In the end, you had been right. Your methods and purpose were wrong, but it ended well.”

 

“Not thanks to me, she whispered.”

 

“Hey ! Belle said. You're not the only one who acted wrong. Rumple did. By the way, why are you here ?”

 

“I wanted to talk to him, about my sister.”

 

“Oh, yes, he told me, the one your mother abandoned when she was a baby and who ended in Oz, hating you without knowing you used to care for each other.”

 

“It's a good summary of the situation… I want him to go with me to Oz, to find her, and help me reconcile with her. And I want him too to apologize to her, as he did to me.”

 

“I understand, Belle answered. I am calling him right now.”

 

“Thanks.”

 

When she came to see him, he was looking at a list of names, looking at the one of those that hadn't been helped. He grimaced when he saw that Killian Jones' name was still there, and he asked himself in how many times he would have to help him.

 

He sighed, hoping it wouldn't be that difficult.

 

“Rumple ?”

 

“Yes Belle ?”

 

“Regina is there, she would like to go to Oz. With you. To see her sister.”

 

The Sorcerer nodded.

 

“Fine, I was expecting for it. Finally I will be able to fix this situation. Well, we will.”

 

Belle just embraced him and then, she kissed him.

 

“Alright, then, she said, smiling. Have a good trip.”

 

“Thanks.”

 

§§§§

 

Oz was… a particular place.

 

Somewhere Regina had never been before, and that she was discovering just right now.

 

“Did you ever come here ? She asked Rumplestiltskin.

 

“Nope, he answered. I met your sister in the Enchanted Forest, and when she left, I didn't follow her. I couldn't. And I didn't really want to.”

 

“Do you know what kind of life she had ? Before becoming the Wicked Witch.”

 

“It was hard. She had a family, but her adoptive mother died, and her adoptive father wasn't really someone good. He despised her for having magic, and rejected her. It's the reason why she searched for answers and for her real family.”

 

“And it's why it hurt her so much to realize that she had been abandoned…” understood Regina.

 

“Sure, approved the Sorcerer. Trust me, I know what it is, and how it feels”, he said with a dark air, thinking about his father.

 

“What happened ?”

 

“My father. He let me.”

 

“Well… maybe it's better to have no one than to have someone terrible with you.”

 

“I guess both of them are terrible.”

 

Regina nodded.

 

“So… here we are.”

 

“Yes. The Wicked Witch's palace. I think that it used to belong to the Wizard of Oz. Who wasn't really one, in fact.”

 

“What happened to him ?”

 

Rumplestiltskin had an amused grin.

 

“She turned him into a flying monkey.”

 

Regina smiled.

 

“Well… I think that my evil side begins to really like her.”

 

He just laughed.

 

§§§§

 

They entered, and the witch looked at them with an air of anger, recognizing them both.

 

And Regina realized that Rumplestiltskin didn't lie.

 

She was green.

 

With jealousy.

 

And it broke Regina's heart to realize that this sister she loved so much for the little where they had been together hated her now, maybe more than she ever loved her.

 

“Rumplestiltskin… You… Here. Are you there for your dear slippers ?”

 

The Sorcerer frowned, remembering that after some seconds of reflection. Yes, it was a thing that could have helped him finding Bae. Except that he had to wait for his return, and he would, even though it was long to wait.

 

“Actually not. I am here to introduce you to someone.”

 

Zelena looked at the former queen with despise and hatred.

 

“Regina, she whistled.”

 

“Zelena,” the young woman hiccuped with an emotion she didn't feel since almost years.

 

Sister…

 

I missed you, you know.

 

Did you miss me ?

 

Even when you didn't remember me ?

 

But there was so much hatred in her voice…

 

It wasn't her sister any more, she realized with horror, and she had the impression to see herself facing Snow.

 

Zelena had an air of surprise. What was on her half-sister's face ? Was it… tears ?

 

No, it couldn't be.

 

But the thing was that the famous Evil Queen was there, in front of her, almost ready to fall, her heart breaking more and more as she saw her sister's indifference.

 

And she was crying .

 

Because all the thing she wanted was to come back to this age of innocence they both had in the past, and where they had been so happy, and that they both lost because of their mother.

 

She just wanted to embrace her older sister in her arms, and she wanted her to tell her that everything would be okay, even the things which weren't any more.

 

She just wanted to feel safe, have someone she could call her family . Just as her father or Snow, in old good times. Someone she didn't hurt or try to break.

 

S omeone who was as broken as she was , who just needed help, as she did.

 

And Zelena was this person.

 

Hello, sis,” Regina told her with a smile.

 

T he green witch had an air full of astonishment, that she hid well, after some seconds.

 

And she had a triumphant air.

 

“So, you know… They finally told you.”

 

Not exactly… In fact, I always knew the truth, even though I didn't know it. Just as you did.”

 

Zelena' look became even more angry.

 

“She chose you, she said, letting finally go all her anger and pain in the process. She chose you over me.”

 

“I wasn't born when she did it ! I could do nothing !”

 

What does it change ? You always had what should have be mine.”

 

Then, alright. I would have wanted to give you everything I had. The broken heart I had when my fiance died. When mother killed him. My pain, the one I felt every time mother punished me when I did something she thought was wrong. The wedding with this man older than me, and who didn't love me and that I didn't love either.”

 

Sh e paused.

 

You want it ? Fine you can. I can give you my darkness, my loneliness, my despair. My unhappiness. My bad ending.”

 

S he looked at her sister's eyes, again.

 

“Don't tell me I had everything. Because it's wrong. I had been unhappy, as you.”

 

“You're a queen.”

 

“I was. And trust me, power is not the only thing that matters. About that, mother was surely wrong.”

 

She pulled out the tears on her face, and smiled.

 

“You're my sister Zelena. You always was. Once upon a time, I promised you that I would find you. In the end, I did it.”

 

Zelena frowned, not understanding.

 

“What ?”

 

“Rumple, please.”

 

Before she could stop him, he took her hand and did the same thing he did with Regina.

 

And Zelena' eyes opened wide under the shock.

 

I always wanted to use my magic to help people.”

 

Who are you ?”

 

It opens just with blood magic.”

 

Does that mean we are sisters ?”

 

Yes my dear.”

 

I can't let this happen, I want what is best for you. I want you to be queen.”

 

I don't care about being a queen !”

 

I will find you, I promise !”

 

She looked at the woman in front of her, who had almost nothing to have with the little girl she now remembered.

 

Regina ?” She hiccuped, just as her sister did before, the voice full of uncertainty.

 

There was so many things she wanted to tell her.

 

I can't believe it's real.

 

I missed you sister.

 

I missed you so much.

 

I am sorry I hated you.

 

Can you forgive me ?

 

And Regina offered her a true smile.

 

“Yes Zelena, it's me !”

 

All of this… her anger, her despair, her need to show she was the better, the strongest, her pain of being alone… it all disappeared at this precise mome n t.

 

Her sister was there.

 

Her sister, her friend, her family was just there, in front of her, after she thought she lost her forever.

 

She wouldn't be alone anymore.

 

And everything would be okay.

 

Carefully, as if they both didn't know anymore how to do it, how to fix what had been broken between them, after all this time, they approached each other, a great and deep smile devouring both of their face.

 

Regina, who was more familiar with other than Zelena, was the first to initiate contact, and she took her half-sister in her arms, embracing her deeply, and with a smile which just grew larger as her sister replied to it.

 

“You found me. Zelena said, moved, tears in her eyes, you told me you would, and you did it.”

 

“I always keep my promises sis', the witch answered.”

 

They finally broke their embrace, and Zelena in fact completely broke the moment by going in front of Rumplestiltskin and… punching him in the face.

 

Regina just laughed.

 

“You deserved it, trust me.”

 

“What happened to your face ?” Zelena asked, finally understanding something she didn't see before.

 

“I changed.”

 

“He is the one who gave me back my memories of you. If I am here, it's thanks to him, and no one else.”

 

“Well… I guess it excuses what you did to me...”

 

“I trained you ! The Sorcerer replied, falsely offended. I deserve a thank you, not a hit.”

 

Zelena rolled her eyes.

 

“If you think it… Now sis, what do you propose ?”

 

“Well… what if we went home ?”

 

Zelena looked at her with surprise.

 

“What do you call a home ? She asked with hope.”

 

“My realm. My castle, where my family is. My father, and Snow.”

 

“I thought you wanted to kill her.”

 

“It's a complicated story. I will explain it to you while we are on the road back to the Enchanted Forest.”

 

Zelena nodded.

 

“I like this plan.”

Chapter Text

 

“So, now… You're not angry anymore against this little princess, you remembered me and decided to search for me, and to become someone good again.”

 

“Yes… I have nothing to add.”

 

“And all of this… thanks to Rumplestiltskin ?”

 

“Yes, I know, even I still don't believe it !”

 

“Hey ! Why does anyone think I can just be a villain ?”

 

“Hum, I don't know my dear, Zelena answered. Maybe because you were.”

 

Rumple rolled his eyes.

 

“People have so much prejudices against villains.”

 

“Yeah, sure, Regina said, it's true that you were a true angel before you decided to go on the other side, she said with irony.”

 

“Fine, you're right...”

 

§§§§

 

When they came back at the castle, they saw that everyone seemed to be busy, and they blinked, surprised.

 

“What the hell…” Zelena whispered.

 

“Oh, yes ! Exclaimed Regina, remembering. The wedding ! I just forgot it, it's in two days.”

 

“Which wedding ?”

 

“Snow's and David's, of course, Rumplestiltskin added. I must admit I forgot it too.”

 

“Oh, a wedding ? It will be so much boring.”

 

“Zelena !”

 

“What ?”

 

“You know, you're not forced to come.”

 

“In fact, said Rumplestiltskin, I am not even sure that you're invited.”

 

“Wait, are you ?” Zelena asked him.

 

“Of course !”

 

“Why ?”

 

“I'm the Sorcerer ! I work for the royals, of course I will be there.”

 

Regina rolled her eyes. It was ridiculous.

 

“Fine, I am invited too, Zelena, you can come if you want.”

 

The witch thought about it some seconds. Since they came back from Oz and since she remembered, her skin looked less and less green, and it was almost as it was before.

 

“Okay. That can be fun.”

 

§§§§

 

And it was, indeed. Belle had a smile seeing all these people seeming to enjoy very much the party, which happened just after the wedding – wedding which had been wonderful, Belle had to admit it – and which was, of course, a ball.

 

Belle looked at her husband – yes, they were married since Regina's defeat – and she smiled, seeing him talking with some people. In fact, except him and her friends, she didn't really know many people, and she then looked at a little group, interested.

 

They were three, and the way they were close to each other showed that they were all more than friends. She walked in their direction, finally meeting for the first time Mulan, Aurora and Philippe.

 

They all discussed during some minutes, and Belle felt really pleased to meet them, just as they were themselves, and they even invited her in their castle, so they would talk with each other another day.

 

A lot of people were indeed present at the ball, and had been there during the wedding, and Belle smiled again when she recognized people as Ella and Thomas, but also Briar Rose and Maleficent – whose she herself didn't know, but heard of – as Dreamy and Nova, who really seemed to be happy.

 

She herself really felt happy, and in fact, this ball was emphasizing it : the impression of peace they were all feeling was also present there, where everyone – royals and commoners – were present and happy to celebrate both Snow's and David's marriage and the returned peace.

 

The young woman felt a little lonely, trying to find with who she could discuss – someone else than her husband who was occupied right now – and her eyes opened wide with surprise when she saw someone she knew in the past.

 

Someone she saved from her husband, but didn't see again, as he left then with his friends.

 

Someone who was supposed to be Regina's soul mate, and that she didn't expect to see just there.

 

“Robin ! She exclaimed with surprise. You're here ?”

 

He looked at her with surprise, and then, he smiled, walking in her direction, with a woman who seemed to be his friend.

 

“Belle ! I am so happy to see you ! I hoped you would be here. I just wish your husband is not going to try to kill me again, he said with a laugh.”

 

Belle laughed too, and nodded.

 

“Don't worry, I don't think he is in the mood. And I don't think he does it anymore. He changed, you know.”

 

“Yes, I heard of it, the fact that he was now the queen's and king's ally, that was also for this reason that I thought I would maybe see you again here. He looked at the woman next to him. I wanted to introduce you to Marian. She is one of my very good friends, and a really good fighter, and it's the only one who accepted to accompany me to this.”

 

Marian rolled her eyes.

 

“Yes Robin, because I am the only one who supports you.”

 

Her friend had a false offended look.

 

How do you dare ? I am Robin Hood ! He exclaimed with an amused and mocking voice. The prince of the Thieves, feared by everyone !”

 

Everyone ? Asked Belle, with the same tone used by her friend. Should I myself be afraid ?”

 

“Yes, of course ! The man answered, before he remembered something else. Wait… well, maybe not, after all I should be afraid, because of your husband.”

 

The three of them then burst into laughter.

 

“Well, Marian, I am happy to meet you”, Belle told her, taking her hand.

 

“So am I, Marian answered, squeezing her hand back. Robin talked about you many times, she said, being more serious, and I wanted to thank you for what you did. Not only did you save Robin's life, but you saved mine too. Without your action, I would have died of sickness that day. Thanks Belle, thank you so much for what you did for us.”

 

Belle blushed a little.

 

“You're welcome Marian. I just did what I had to do, stop Rumple from killing someone who didn't deserve it.”

 

Marian smiled to her.

 

“He changed thanks to you… Your husband. He did it. He became a hero, loved and admired by almost everyone. And he fixed many of his mistakes, thanks to your actions. Oh, and he loves you deeply too. I wish I could find someone who loves me as much as he loves you, she sighed.”

 

It felt like she really felt lonely.

 

Robin just put a comforting hand on his friend's shoulder, smiling to her.

 

Before Belle had time to answer to her, she saw Regina coming right in her direction, who hasn't seen Robin yet. Belle just smiled and welcomed her former enemy and her friend to be with a smile.

 

When they saw her, Robin and Marian couldn't help (as some other did) but have a wince, not really used to be confronted to the former Evil Queen. This one wasn't really surprised or embarrassed by it, until she saw Robin's face, and she froze.

 

She was recognizing him, as the man Tinkerbell showed to her, before she decided to give up her revenge and change.

 

He was supposed to be the man with the lion tattoo, her soul mate, or true love, she didn't really know. After some seconds of confusion, she succeeded to gain her composure again, and she looked at Belle again.

 

“Belle, I am sorry if I am bothering you, but I wanted to talk with you about something.”

 

“Regina, you don't have to worry, you're not. But, before this, I want to introduce to you two of my friends. Robin Hood, and his great friend, Marian.”

 

Regina tried to smile, and not to seem awkward to them, as they both did too.

 

“I am happy to meet you. If you're not in the mood to talk to me because of what I did, I understand it.”

 

Robin seemed to be fine about it, but Marian gave her a pure look of anger.

 

“You attacked my village, she told her. You killed so many people I cared about… You were an awful woman Regina… A monster. There was a time where I wanted to rip out your heart by myself.”

 

“I'm sorry I did it, Regina apologized. And I know that it had been a too little time since I started to change, but I promise you… I will do everything I can, in order to fix my mistakes.”

 

Marian had a little smile.

 

“In fact, you already began it… In my village, many people were hurt, because of you. I heard about a lot of people, from my village, or other, who survived from what you did, who were harmed, and that you cured and who healed thanks to you. I am not going to forgive you for your crimes, it will take time before anyone does it, and I am not going to thank you for cleaning the mess you created. But the thing is that, yes, I believe you can change. Despite what you did.”

 

“Thanks Marian.”

 

“In fact, even if it has nothing to do with what you did, Robin and I, we did mistakes too, before we changed. Less worst than yours, of course, but we are not perfect either. The road to redemption will take much more time for you, but I think you can do it.”

 

Regina smiled to her.

 

“It's thanks to people like you, Snow or my father that I am doing it. That I can believe I can change and be good again. I hope it's not too late.”

 

“Regina, it's not, Belle assured to her. Rumple did it, so you surely can.”

 

“Tell me, do you want me to come back later ?”

 

“Well, if it's something you can say in front of Marian and Robin, surely not. We can talk now, if it's not a problem for you.”

 

The former queen shrugged. After all, everyone knew for her crimes, so, to talk about other which weren't totally coming from her wasn't really something difficult. And if she really wanted to change, she had to admit what she did.

 

“Well… as you know, Graham, the Huntsman who saved Snow White's life… has been used by me. I ripped out his heart, and took it from him. I forced him to serve me, in all the sense of the terms, and it almost broke him, I know it. He got it back, not a long time ago, thanks to other people than me.”

 

“It's well known, indeed. I was in your castle when Graham had his heart back in his chest. He felt so happy on this day, you know… so happy to feel again.”

 

And even though Belle didn't seem to accuse her of anything, Regina truly felt guilty, because she took from an innocent man both his freedom and his free will.

 

“I did something awful to him, this day, I know it now. He is free now, and far from me, for good, and I am not doing to do anything to change it.”

 

“And what's the point of telling me this ?”

 

“His heart, I… I put it into a box, and I put this box into my vault. Well, it's my mother's and… in this, there are all the hearts she once ripped out and took from other people. And I have no idea to who these hearts belong.”

 

Belle's face was now full of horror and disgust, just as Robin's and Marian' were.

 

“Your mother was Cora, right ? Rumplestiltskin told me about her. She is an awful woman.”

 

“I banished her in Wonderland some years ago, before… then Regina's face froze, and she had an air of horror along her face. Oh no, Jefferson, he is still trapped back there.”

 

“Who is Jefferson ?”

 

“Someone I trapped some years ago, when my father was the prisoner of my mother, and… I have to save him. It's my fault if he... alright, just one thing before the other. Before, I have to fix the heart's thing, then, I will take care of him, and find a way to take him from this hell. I need your help… Rumple told me you were good around books, and I want you to help me find something in my mother's bookcase. I am pretty sure that her list of people from who she took the hearts is there. I tried to use magic to find whose these hearts were, but my mom protected it. So, I didn't succeed.”

 

Belle nodded her head.

 

“I guess I can help you.”

 

“Thanks. You're saving me. Her bookcase is really big, and I don't think I can do this alone. And, if we find something else than her magic books, something which interests you, then, you can take it.”

 

“I will be happy to help you Regina.”

 

And the former queen left them, a smile on her lips.

 

§§§§§

 

Regina tried not to let be seen that she was nervous, but, as she saw Tinkerbell coming in her direction, her excitement clearly visible, she couldn't do it anymore, and she sighed.

 

“So, you finally met him ! Exclaimed the fairy with joy.”

 

“Yes, the witch answered. Yes, I did.”

 

“So, how is he ?”

 

“I don't know ! I just met him, and we barely talked together. What did you expect, me to fall in love with him the second I saw him ?”

 

Tinkerbell rolled her eyes.

 

“Of course not. Do you intend to see him again ?”

 

Regina bite her lip, still hesitant regarding to this subject.

 

“I don't know… Maybe… If he wants, of course. You see, my relationships with men are not really… They never end good, except the one with my father, of course, which became better since a little time.. Daniel died because of my mother, I was abused for years with my husband, Leopold. And I was the one who abused Graham for a long time. I am not good at it.”

 

“Daniel's death wasn't your fault. Leopold wasn't a good man, and you recognized being wrong with Graham, and you freed him. Now, maybe it's time to do it. To move on.”

 

“Do I really deserve to ? Do I really deserve to be happy after all the pain I inflicted, all the bad things I did, after all the lives I destroyed ?”

 

The fairy smiled at her friend.

 

“To move on or to go back to the former you are the only option you have. What do you think is the more likeable ?

 

“The first one, of course, muttered the witch.”

 

“I agree. Now, what are you going to do ?”

 

“Well, before starting a relationship or trying to know Robin Hood better than I did today, I will fix my mother's mistakes, and mine too.”

 

Tink smiled proudly at her.

 

“That seems to be a good beginning.”

Chapter Text

Some days after the wedding, Belle came to see Regina in her former castle (she wasn't living in it anymore, now she was most of the time Snow's and David's castle), especially in her mother's bookcase.

 

She looked at it with amazement, realizing that yes, Regina didn't lie to her.

 

It really was a big place.

 

“Tell me Regina, she asked her, why didn't you use magic on it, to find this “list” ?”

 

The former queen just sighed.

 

“Because mother used a spell on this place too… And this time, she didn't use blood magic, she added with sarcasm, remembering what happened before she met Zelena. She used something more powerful.”

 

Belle nodded.

 

“Alright, I get it… Tell me, why are doing this right now ? I mean, you could have thought about it even before the wedding happened.”

 

“Well… there is a reason to this. When your husband gave me my memories back of Zelena, he gave me other memories… The one my mother took from me, and one of them was about this list. And I thought about it before Rumple and I we came to search for Zelena. And then, I realized that I couldn't use magic in this place. My mom certainly hid it there, so I wouldn't find it. So no one would find it.”

 

“Do you have an explanation to the reason why your mother didn't destroy it ? In fact, how can you be sure that your mother didn't do it ?”

 

“My mother surely had… well, has a good memory, but the thing is this, she couldn't remember everything. I guess it was just a way to remember whose hearts were to who. So, she wouldn't get wrong when she would crush one of them, or when she would try to control them.”

 

“How lovely it is ! Said Belle, with a clear disgust air on her face. Did you ever do this ?”

 

“What ?”

 

“Did you ever act like her ?”

 

“Yes… Yes, I did. Many times. Less than her, for sure, but it doesn't make what I did less worst than her own crimes. That's the reason why I want to make these hearts go back to who they belong. So, I will fix my mother's crimes, just as mine...”

 

A deep silence settled between them, quite awkward, before Belle talked again.

 

“Then, we just have to begin our researches, she told to her new friend with a fake enthusiasm.”

 

Regina had a little smile, and they began to search for the list.

 

§§§§

 

“I got it ! Belle exclaimed finally, after they searched the list in books for at least three or four hours.”

 

She was holding two or three sheets of paper, on which a list of various names was written, there were at least two or three hundreds of names on it.

 

Regina took rapidly the paper from her hands, and she had a deep smile.

 

“You did it Belle ! She said, finally relieved, after being afraid they wouldn't do it. You found the list !”

 

Then, without really thinking about it, she took Belle in her arms, giving her what seemed to be the most awkward and strange hug that was ever given in this castle. Then, realizing what she was doing, she let her go.

 

“Hum… sorry. I know you still see me as the Evil Queen, and this is who I am, and I know we are not really friends… but, thanks Belle, for what you did.”

 

“It's okay, the other woman answered with a smile. It was nothing. And now ?”

 

Regina regained her composure, and smiled again.

 

“Now ? I will do as I told you. I am going to make these hearts go back in their owners' chest.”

 

The two women entered in the vault which used to be Cora's and which now belonged to Regina, and Belle couldn't hid an air of disgust on her face which appeared when she saw the boxes where all the hearts were.

 

“Aw… what kind of person can be enough horrible to do this ? I mean, who does keep hundreds of hearts in a room where she can take it, and use them ?”

 

“Well… my mom did, just as I myself did it. But now, it's entirely over.”

 

Some other hours passed, while Regina was taking from her vault one heart after one, listening to Belle, who was identifying to who every heart belonged, and, using her magic, she then brought them back to those who used to have them in their chest.

 

After four hours of work, Belle and Regina finally had the possibility to stop, and they both sat down on a chair, and both had a relieved sigh.

 

Finally, it was done ! After all these years of terror and horror, the former queen finally did it. Well, she still had many things to fix, but she was slowly succeeding to make it.

 

She was redeeming herself.

 

And it felt good, to finally do it.

 

Well, it was not over, but she was beginning to think that it could be done, and she told herself that her mother finally lost, she lost on her, lost her influence, and she, in the end, didn't succeed to make her fall, to make her become like her.

 

“So, now, I guess it's ended, Belle said.”

 

“Yes, yes, answered Regina to the other woman with a relieved air. We did it Belle, and I want to thank you for this. Without you, I don't know if I would have even found the list. In fact, she added then, without you, I would probably not even be here.”

 

“What do you mean ?”

 

Regina looked at her friend, and she sighed.

 

“How can I say it… Hum… I already apologized, for trying to use you against Rumplestiltskin, and again, I am deeply sorry. But now, I am not here to apologize, but to thank you. Without you, Rumplestiltskin would still be the same. You saved him, helped him to see how wrong he was, and he then helped me realize how wrong I was. You saved him, yes, but by doing this, you saved me too… And, then, many other people who now have a better life, thanks to you.”

 

“You're the one who decided to change, you decided to help them.”

 

“Yes, but it doesn't change the fact that I was the person who destroyed their lives first. It was just justice that I helped them getting their happy ending back. You're a true hero Belle, don't let someone tell you the contrary.”

 

Belle blushed, hearing her friend's compliment, and she took her hands.

 

“You know, Regina… you're not a hero, but I don't think you're a villain anymore. And I am really glad Rumple finally helped you and fixed his own mistakes, just as you did, and I am happy that we are becoming friends too.”

 

“And I am too.”

 

“And I think that people should know what you just did… And so it would be easier for them, to see you in a good way. To see that you're changing.”

 

Regina turned her head.

 

“No, I don't want it.”

 

Belle just frowned.

 

“Wait… what ? Why ? Regina, everyone knows for your crimes, people perceive you as the kingdom's pariah, that you are, even though they know too that you changed. They deserve to know who you are, who you are becoming.”

 

“Belle, the answer is still no. I don't think I deserve it, for one simple reason. As you told me, I am not a hero, and I will need time, before becoming one, if I can. What I just did, it was easy. I used my magic to fix what my mother and I we did to innocent people, and I don't think that I really fixed everything, not even the half of my crimes ! To do it, it was easy. You know what is not ?”

 

“Well, just tell me.”

 

“To survive on your own in a forest, alone and afraid, with no one on your side, while your evil mother is purchasing you, trying to kill you for something you never did, sending a huntsman with no hearts and soldiers after you. Snow White did it. She is a true hero, and I am not. I want to be known and maybe appreciated for something I will do, not for myself, or to clean my personal mess, but for other. So please, Belle, don't tell anyone about it.”

 

Belle smiled to her.

 

“I understand. And you see, that kind of speech is the one that makes me think that you really are changing. Tell me Regina, now, what if I brought you somewhere, in a special place, where you can meet some people I know ?”

 

Regina raised an eyebrow.

 

“You mean Robin Hood's camp, right ?”

 

Her friend had a little laugh.

 

“I can hid nothing to you, right ? Yes, it is. After all, the little encounter you had with him and Marian was really short, wasn't it ?”

 

“Yes, of course. Their first impression of me, apart their knowledge about what I did, must me talking to you about hearts. I am not sure it is a good one.”

 

“You know, it could be great and fun.”

 

“You talked with Tinkerbell recently, didn't you ? Is it just a scheme so we will meet and fall in love, because this man is supposed to be my soul mate ? I am not sure it is going to work.”

 

Tinkerbell immediately appeared on her side, and Regina started.

 

It was as if she listened everything since the beginning.

 

“I told you Regina, you should trust the pixie dust. It never lies.”

 

“Maybe, Tink, but… to know it, to know the fact that we are meant to be… I don't know, I feel like it's just cheating. And how can I be supposed to be natural with him, now that I know it ? I just don't like it. I know you thought it would help me, to know it, and that I would be able to move on, and that I would know where to go, but… now, I don't know. I am sorry Tink.”

 

“Don't be, the fairy answered. You really think it will be too awkward if you go to see him by knowing what is supposed to happen ?”

 

“Yes, of course it will be ! I mean, what if it didn't work ? I have faith in your pixie dust, Tink, that's not the problem, but… even when you love someone, it doesn't always work. I wish… I wish I didn't know it, that I didn't know that this man, Robin Hood, is my soul-mate. That would make things better, I think. Again, Tink, it's not against you, and I thank you for all your help. You helped me at a time where no one did it, and you were the only one who was doing this at this time. You're a good fairy Tink. And a good friend too.”

 

“You know, the fairy answered, I think I can do this. You would remember who Robin is, but you wouldn't know what I told you about him and you.”

 

“I think it could be good, the former queen answered. Thanks Tink, again, for still being here for me.”

 

Tink smiled to her.

 

“You're welcome.”

 

§§§§

 

After the spell was cast, the three women did as Belle proposed, and they went in the Merry Men' camp (who were already waiting for them, as Tinkerbell already asked them for coming), where they ate.

 

(Because yes, they barely ate since they began their researches for the list.)

 

After eating, they talked a little with one another (except one of them, Will Scarlet, who remained quite silent during most of the time), for two or three hours.

 

It was the night now, and the thing is that they could have gone immediately in their home thanks to Regina's or Tink's magic.

 

Yes, they could.

 

But it seemed like Marian was beginning to really like the three of them (even Regina, but after all, in this version of the story, she didn't try to kill her. And wouldn't.), so she proposed them to stay there for the night.

 

A thing they did.

 

The day after that, they began to talk, as Robin asked to the former queen :

 

“And now, your “majesty”, if I can still call you that way...”

 

“Actually, the woman interrupted him, I am no queen anymore, Snow White and her husband are now the legitimate rulers of the kingdom. You can call me Regina.”

 

The outlaw smiled to her and just nodded.

 

“So, Regina, he told her, what are you going to do now ? As you're not terrorizing people anymore.”

 

“I planned to go to Wonderland. No one remarked that Will's face became terribly pale at the mention of the realm, except Belle, who was the most attentive of them, and who already saw that the young man seemed to be melancholic. There is someone there, that I trapped in it. A man who once hurt me, and betrayed me, and that I separated from his family. From his daughter. I want to make him escape.”

 

“And who is this man ? Marian asked.”

 

“He is called Jefferson.”

 

Little John then frowned as he heard the name, just as Will himself.

 

“Wait… you mean the Mad Hatter ?”

 

Regina then paled as she heard it.

 

“What… What do you mean ?”

 

“This is the way he is called in Wonderland. Will told us about it, he met him when he was in Wonderland, before he was forced to leave it.”

 

“What happened to you ? Tinkerbell asked to the man.”

 

Will had a cynical smile. He then pointed Regina with his eyes, and everyone looked at the former royal, who looked at him with a confused air.

 

“You dear mother. Cora. That you banished in Wonderland. She became the Queen of Hearts, back there, and now, she is ruling the entire realm. She tried to teach Anastasia some magic, and when Anastasia realized who she really was, she tried to flee, with me. But she couldn't. Now, now she is her prisoner, and I am forced to be here, without any news of the woman I love. This is what happened to me.”

 

“I had no idea… the witch confessed. I didn't know my mother did this to you, and… I didn't know things were that bad in Wonderland. “

 

“Tell me, Robin asked her, how do you plan to go in Wonderland ?”

 

“I will use Jefferson's hat, and…”

 

“And you can trust me Regina, finished Belle immediately, I am coming with you. You, going alone in this world where your mother rules, and where Jefferson surely hates you, fr food reasons, would be suicide.”

 

Regina grimaced.

 

“The problem, with the hat, is this : two people go in there, two other come back. This is how it works. I abandoned Jefferson in Wonderland because I needed to free my father from my mother. He couldn't come back with us. So…”

 

“I could go with you, Will said, with a light of hope in his eyes. I need to search Ana, and to find her, and to be sure she is safe. And maybe free her, too. I never had the occasion before, it may be the only one I will ever have.”

 

There was so much love in Will's voice, and it really seemed that he did care for this woman, and Regina did want to accept.

 

“It will dangerous, Will, she told him. You may not survive to it.”

 

“I don't care ! He answered, desperate. I just want to come back to Anastasia.”

 

“You mean Ella's step-sister, right ? Asked Belle, who remembered talking about her with the young princess.”

 

“Yes, she is. And I need to find her.”

 

“Regina… would it be okay for you ? Robin asked her.”

 

“I don't know… I mean, it would surely help us, but, Will, we have to be sure it doesn't kill you. I just see one thing, that we must do, so it won't be too dangerous for anyone.”

 

“Which is ?”

 

Regina sighed.

 

“We have to do what people did to me. We have to stop my mother. We have to stop her from ruling Wonderland, for ever. And we must send her in prison.”

 

Robin sent her a smirk.

 

“I think I like this plan.”

 

§§§§

 

“I want to go in there !”

 

“Tink, the answer is no, right ? We have to be three people. Will, as he wants to stay in it, me, because I want to make amend for what I did to Jefferson, and Belle too.”

 

“Why ? Because she asked first ? I have magic Regina ! Without offending you, Belle, you don't.”

 

“Belle is good with people, Regina told her. She helped this bloody imp and he changed thanks to her. If there is anyone who can calm Jefferson and make him feel better, and not crazy anymore, it can just be her. And I have magic too. And the answer (before you ask me) is yes. I can defeat my mother, on my own.”

 

Tinkerbell crossed her arms, still not convinced. Then, she put her arms in the air, seeming really upset and discouraged.

 

“I'm sorry Regina, to have to tell you this, but I am feeling completely useless now. Why don't you want me to help you ?”

 

“Because… It's because you're happy now, and I don't want to put you into troubles anymore.”

 

Tink looked at her, shocked.

 

“What ?”

 

“You once helped me, and you get almost banished from the fairies because of me ! You almost lost your wings. And I know things are different now, but it's my amend for the fact that you lost almost everything because of me !”

 

Her friend smiled to her.

 

“Regina...”

 

“You're in love now, you have your relationship with Blue, and… I don't want to spoil it, by taking you there, because this is what I do Tink ! I spoil things, and people which are close to me.”

 

“Regina… You don't do it anymore !”

 

“We will be okay Tink… Just the three of us. Someone good in magic, someone who knows Wonderland and someone who can form a connection with Jefferson. Right ?”

 

Tink sighed, but she nodded.

 

“Right.”

 

§§§§

 

After the little “argument” between Regina and Tink, Belle went to see Will.

 

There was something strange with him.

 

“Tell me Will, she asked him, what happened to you, really ?”

 

“What do you mean Belle ?”

 

“Well… you lost Anastasia, and for sure, it broke you, I can see it, but… there is something else.”

 

“What ?”

 

She looked at him, at his face, at the fact that he seemed to be sad, but… it looked like he wasn't hiding this, just… He just looked like Graham, before he got his heart back.

 

“You remind me of one of my friends, Graham… The Huntsman.”

 

“The one who worked for the q… Regina ?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“And what does it have to do with me ?”

 

“He was living without his heart, when I met him. Did it happen to you too ?”

 

Will sent her a sad look, and he nodded his head.

 

“Yes… Cora, the Queen of Heart, she took it from me. I gave it to her, I mean… I asked her to take it, as she made me believe Ana didn't want to leave the place with me.”

 

“And… I guess it's still there.”

 

“Yes.”

 

She took his hand, and smiled.

 

“Don't worry Will, we will take it back, just as Ana herself. She will not be a prisoner anymore.”

 

He smiled too.

 

§§§§

 

They were about to leave now, and Robin was kind of worried for Regina.

 

(For Will too, but he knew his friend, this one was going to be safe, and Belle too.)

 

Since the day he met her at the ball, just before the wedding, he didn't know why, but he was thinking about her, maybe too many times.

 

Well, even Marian mocked him about his supposed crush for the former queen.

 

And now, she came there, and he was realizing more and more that he wanted to get to know her more.

 

So, he wanted her to leave Wonderland alive, and safe too.

 

(That was why he thought for a second about asking Will to protect the woman. Before he realized that she didn't need protection, as she both had magic and fight skills.)

 

With an impulsion he didn't understand, as he saw the witch being ready to leave, he took her hand. And he smiled to her, trying to be as normal as possible.

 

And he told her the same thing he said to Will and Belle before.

 

“Regina ? Be careful in this world, right ?”

 

She just smiled to him, and she nodded.

 

“I will, Robin, she assured to him. I promise you I will.”

 

The three of them then all jumped into the hat, right to Wonderland.

 

Oh, by the magic, that was going to be so fun !

 

(Or not.)

Chapter Text

Wonderland was a Hell when you couldn't leave it. Well, anyway, for Jefferson, it always seemed like a real Hell. Even when he wasn't trapped in there, and that he could still go in there and leave.

 

But now… now, it was true, he just couldn't leave this terrible place, and his child was in another world, far from him, thinking that he abandoned her, and he was supposed to make a hat which would be able to make people travel to another world, while he himself had no magic !

 

It was absurd, and the most he was trying to do this, the most he was thinking that it was going to drive him crazy.

 

Maybe it was already too late.

 

Maybe he was already crazy.

 

He hoped he wasn't.

 

§§§§

 

In the three of them, Belle was the only one who never went to Wonderland. And she, unlike Regina and Will, looked truly amazed by it, and she was smiling, right now.

 

It was what she always wanted.

 

To see the world, to cross realms, it was just exactly what she ever wanted.

 

She wished Rumple could be here with her to see that, so they would share this moment together.

 

But he wasn't, as he himself had things to do.

 

(Yes, him, Belle and Regina talked together before they went to Wonderland, and the former queen gave him instructions about a little girl named Grace. A girl that he was supposed to find, and he was supposed to prepare her to her father's return.

 

He had to tell her that her father never abandoned her, and that he was soon going home.

 

But at first, he was going to a land called the Land without colors, in order to talk with a certain doctor, named Victor Frankenstein, if Belle goodly remembered the name.)

 

So, she just enjoyed the view in front of her, because, bloody hell, as Will would have said, it indeed was a beautiful place, and she felt lucky that Regina let her go in it.

 

She was going to enjoy the trip in this new world.

 

Even if it was a place full of dangers and all these things.

 

Well, talking about this…

 

When Will saw soldiers (who, obviously belonged to the Queen of Heart's army, for sure. And they were clearly hostile) coming – well running would be more appropriate – just in front of them, he then sighed.

 

“Can't we just be quiet and peaceful at least just for five minutes in this bloody land ?”

 

“I guess my mother definitely doesn't like intruders coming without invitation in her precious land”, Regina answered, ready to use her magic on these soldiers, who seemed ready to attack them.

 

Will and Belle both prepared themselves. They both had swords in their hands, and were ready to fight these soldiers, and they knew what to do of them, that is to say, to send them right in the “walls” of Wonderland's labyrinth.

 

After the walls would have taken them, the only thing they would have to do would be to go in the throne's room, where Cora was standing.

 

And then, Regina would fight her.

 

The fight didn't last for a long time, as the soldiers weren't really able to resist against them, facing Regina's magic or Will's and Belle's ability to fight, with also the fact that Wonderland itself had to be fought, with its walls made of climber just around them, in which they could be taken so easily.

 

After it was done, the three intruders arrived in the room where Cora was, just as a lot f people, and Regina had a sad smile. The queen still had her mask on her face, but you could easily understand that her body was trembling.

 

And you could deduce too that, even though you couldn't see her emotions, hidden by the mask, she was for sure afraid by what was going to happen, even though, again, she was hiding it well. Or at least, she was surely not liking how things were unfolding.

 

The queen gave a look to her court, her “subjects”, signifying to them to leave the place, right now. It was something that she had to take care about alone, with her daughter. As she was doing this, Regina looked at Will and Belle.

 

“You should go, she told them. Thanks for your help, but this is something I have to do alone. Go, and search for Anastasia. After I defeat her, I will join you, and we will search for Jefferson. Right ?”

 

The two other nodded their heads, and left, leaving the two witches and queens (present or former) alone and together, ready to fight.

 

“Mother, Regina saluted her, with a sarcastic smile. The displeasure is for me. You have no idea of how much I didn't want to see you again.”

 

Cora put out her mask, and looked at her daughter with a disappointed air.

 

“Regina… What are you doing here ?”

 

The former queen answered nothing and just walked in her mother's direction, who stand up at this precise moment, looking at her daughter with wonder in her eyes, still not understanding why the hell her second daughter was here.

 

“I am here to stop you. To stop this madness you created here, in Wonderland. You're not a queen, mother, and you never deserved to be one.”

 

Cora just had a smile, which showed that yes, she was not taking her daughter seriously, because it was Regina. The one who never stand against her (well, except when she banished her. Or, when she came there to get back her dad), who never dared doing it. And who surely wasn't powerful enough to defeat her in a fight.

 

“You really think that you're powerful enough to fight me, and win ? Really Regina ?” Her mother asked her, laughing at her daughter's face.

 

Regina thought about Daniel, his crushed heart, she thought about what she did to Snow, who was innocent about all of these crazy things, and her anger just grew up.

 

She smiled, with no joy, but just determination.

 

“I am sure I can. I know it, mother .”

 

You know, we never fought against each other before, I mean, with magic, except when you banished me, but I am still sure that you're not brave enough to defy me .”

 

“You think so mother ?”

 

Then, even before waiting for her mother to reply, she began the fight.

 

With magic, of course.

 

This time, for Regina, their fight was more complicated, as she was against an enemy who was, at least, as powerful as she was, and who may be even more than her , in fact.

 

It lasted some minutes, and it was hard for Regina, to succeed to face her mother. It was the first time she was doing it, even though her training with Rumplestiltskin and Maleficent (well, as she was thinking about it, yes, she really should check her friend, just to know if she was okay now) did train her well.

 

But it really was the first moment in her entire life that she was standing against her mother so directly. Before the wedding, it had been more chance than something else, and Rumple did help her at that time.

 

Now, it was something she was supposed to do on herself, and, as the fight more and more continued, Cora began to be less self confident, and a look of fear appeared in her eyes, as she saw that her daughter seemed really determined to fight against her, and to defeat her.

 

It was her personal revenge for what she did to Daniel.

 

It was the less she could do, to help Wonderland's people and free them.

 

§§§§

 

She was loosing.

 

She couldn't believe that she was loosing against her own daughter.

 

Though, a part of her was really proud of Regina's skills, even if they were used against her, and even though they were going to be her undoing, not in a long time.

 

A nd, in the end, her daughter sent her on the ground, defeated, vanquished, powerless .

 

Even before Cora was able to stand up again, Regain approached her, and put on her arm a bracelet, the one stopping the one wearing it to use magic, and yes, of course, it was the one that had been used on her.

 

Cora looked at the object with a stupefied look, understanding rapidly what was happening to her (she was a clever woman, don't forget it), and she looked at her daughter with both pride and anger.

 

But Regina wasn't falling into her tricks and her games anymore.

 

“I'm afraid you lost, mother, she whispered to the loser, before taking her hand and bringing her mother in a cellar.”

 

A fter the witch was locked up in a cellar, Regina succeeded to breathe more easily.

 

§§§§

 

During all this time, Will and Belle were on their own mission, both searching for Anastasia.

 

I n fact, it didn't take that much time, as Will already knew in which cellar his girlfriend was supposed to be.

 

And then, when they arrived in front of her cellar, Belle looked at Will's face, and, for the first time since she met him, she saw a real smile on his face.

 

He still had not his heart at its right place, but the thing is that she could tell it : he was happy .

 

The Red Queen (former, of course, she wasn't a queen anymore, not after she realized who Cora really was. Not after the things the Q ueen of H eart s did to her, no, no) looked up, and she then saw her lover just in front of her, and she blinked two or three times, not really sure that what she was seeing was real.

 

T hen, she stand up, and went just next to the bars, her smile growing more and more.

 

“Will ? She asked, still wanting to be sure of it, not wanting it to be a lie, something fake, just a cruel and twisted game coming from Cora (and knowing her, it wouldn't have been that surprising), but Will just smiled to her, and he interlaced their fingers, and Anastasia felt her heart beat as it never did before.

 

Too moved to be able to talk, Will just nodded his head , tears forming in his eyes, as in hers too. A silence appeared between the three of them, but it wasn't an awkward silence, just something peaceful and quiet (everything Wonderland wasn't, in fact). And Belle began to smile too, happy to see her new friend being reunited with his True Love.

 

In order to stop the silence, Belle asked them :

 

“Since how many times are you separated ?”

 

Anastasia smiled, a smile which was both full of joy and sadness.

 

“Five years. It had been since five years.”

 

“Wait… Will, you're living without your heart since five years ? And, Anastasia, you're in jail since that time ?”

 

Ana looked at Will with both surprise and horror.

 

“She… she took your heart ? But, why…”

 

“I asked her to, Will answered. I still thought at that time that you betrayed me, but now, I know you didn't. She lied to me, and she manipulated me. And I had been such a fool Ana, I am sorry…”

 

The former queen didn't let him finish his sentence, and she then brought him into a passionate kiss, not even caring about the bars between them.

 

It doesn't matter, she told him. She manipulated me too, and Will, I missed you so much…

 

“I missed you too, Ana, Will told her, before kissing her again.”

 

Then, they began to talk together again, and while they were doing it, Belle kept looking for the key of the cellar (in fact, Ana was the only prisoner in Cora's prison. Except Jefferson too, but he was in another room, trying to make a non-magical hat work, and at this thought, Belle felt her heart break), and she finally found it, after some seconds of researches.

 

“Yes !” She whispered to herself, not wanting to bother the couple just next to her, rising her fist into the air with pride, as an air of victory was now on her face.

 

S he looked at the two lovers, who just seemed to forget all the world around them, and she smiled softly.

 

She cleared her throat, and opened the door of the prison, and smiled again as she saw Anastasia immediately run in Will's arms.

 

They did it.

 

At least, they succeeded to reunite two people who were separated from each other since a too long time.

 

Now, they just had to find the Mad Hatter, and everything would be alright.

 

§§§§

 

When she entered in her mother's vault, the one where she once found her father, in a box , and where all “her” hearts were, Regina shivered. This time, she realized, as she checked for Will's heart, Cora hadn't used powerful magic, just blood magic.

 

Maybe it was because she was so damn sure that her daughter wasn't going to come back anymore, after she got her father back.

 

Well, she had been pretty wrong.

 

After she cast a location spell (as Cora's magic was nowhere to be found in this place, not after after Regina put her hand on the vault's door) she found it extremely rapidly, and she used her magic too, in order to make it get back in Will's chest, where it belonged.

 

The young man felt it immediately , and for the first time since what seemed like centuries, he really felt something, it wasn't what he was used to before, he didn't “feel” numb anymore.

 

He was feeling things now, and he was feeling like he was truly alive.

 

He took a deep breath, and smiled.

 

Belle ? You will thank your friend for me, right ?”

 

The young woman smiled and nodded, just before leaving.

 

He was staying just there. He had found his True Love, got his heart back, and everything was right now. Anastasia in dicated to the Sorcerer's wife where Jefferson was, just before Regina gave back his heart to the Knave, so now Belle could leave just after.

 

The two lovers smiled to each other.

 

Now, they were going to take back Wonderland.

 

§§§§

 

The place where Jefferson was locked up was everything but good.

 

It wasn't an awful place, don't get me wrong, but… there were hats .

 

Ton of hats, and when, they both understood what it must mean (oh by the magic, there were like what, thousands of them ? And yes, surely Jefferson was a good Hatter, but… since how many time was he forced to do it ? Belle asked herself. Too many time, of course.) they both froze with horror, and Regina felt again the guilt invade her.

 

It was her fault.

 

The Queen of Hearts may forced him to do these hearts, but she was the one who sent him into this hell first. It was her job to fix it.

 

This place, where he was, it was a fucking prison.

 

And she was going to get him out of it, she swore.

 

The two women approached the man. This one, too focused on his work, didn't even hear them enter. And then, they heard a sentence, a terrible sentence, which terrified them, and made them understand what this man had suffered all this time.

 

“Get it to work. Get it to work. Get it to work.”

 

The Hatter may not be entirely mad, but he was surely going to became crazy, if someone didn't save him.

 

There was such a supplication in his voice, that both Regina and Belle felt tears rolling on their cheeks.

 

It was the voice of a desperate man, the one trying to do everything to escape, and to get back to his daughter, and who was failing, miserably.

 

And Regina realized what a monster she had been, to do it, and she asked herself, if one day, she would be able to fix what she damaged in Jefferson.

 

Probably not.

 

Jefferson, she then told him, it's time to go, now.”

 

He didn't hear her.

 

She tried to talk to him again, before she felt Belle's hand on her arm, who was right now turning her head in disapproval.

 

The young woman rapidly take away the former queen from him, so he wouldn't hear them talking (but, lost in his own mind and thoughts, could he still do it ?).

 

Regina, she whispered to her, this is not the way we have to do it.”

 

“Do you really have a better idea right now Belle ?”

 

“You're the one who sent him here, you made him a prisoner, you're the one who broke him . I'm sure as hell that he hates you right now, and he is right. I know you're here to make amend, but he is not going to listen to you. You asked me to come here, because you think I am good with people. So now, please Regina, let me help him, and stay away from him as far as you can.

 

Regina, a little mortified, but understanding Belle's logic, nodded her head.

 

“You're right Belle, she muttered. I'm sorry, I guess I just wanted to be the one who would save and help him, as I am the one who began all of this, but… yes, this is certainly not going to work.”

 

Fine, you finally returned to senses ! Joked Belle with a smile. That 's a good thing, I was going to be desperate… Then, being more serious, she added : Now, please, just listen, and don't act or interfere, okay ? I don't even know myself if I really can do it.”

 

Well, you will still be better than me…”

 

B elle just sat down in front of the hatter, and looked at him, and she started when she saw a gigantic scar that he was harboring, which was just on his neck, and she had a sigh of horror. She remembered what Will told her about Cora, before they went to Wonderland and just after Will said goodbye to all the Merry Men.

 

And she remembered what Cora used to do, sometimes, and to order, too.

 

“Get off his head, she whispered, horrified.”

 

At this moment, as woken up by the sentence, the Mad Hatter looked up and saw her. He had a move full of fear and surprise (luckily, he still hadn't seen Regina at this moment.)

 

“Who… who are you ? He asked. Why are you here ?”

 

“My name is Belle, I am here to rescue you.”

 

Why would you do this ?”

 

“Because it had been too long Jefferson. Now, you need to leave this world, and to come back to your home. Your daughter needs you.”

 

The shadow of a smile passed through Jefferson's face, and this time, it was really hard for Belle to contain her tears.

 

Grace, he whispered, before his face became full of regrets and remorse. I let her alone, I abandoned her.”

 

This time, Belle contained her anger with difficulty. Regina was the one who did this, Regina acted like a monster, and even though she was changing, she was the one who did the crimes, so why on hell Jefferson, one of her victims, was feeling guilty ?

 

It was absurd !

 

She did the first thing she thought about to comfort him. She took from his hands what he was still handing (what he needed to make hats), and then, she took his hands in hers, and she smiled to him in a gentle way.

 

“No, you didn't ! Regina forced you to come here, and you did it because you wanted your daughter to be safe, and happy. Like every good parent does. You made a mistake, for sure. But Regina was the villain at this time. Not you.”

 

The Hatter nodded his head, but it was as if he didn't really believe it.

 

When he looked somewhere else, he saw Regina, and anger crossed his face.

 

He stand up, and for a second, B elle really feared that he would be ready to try to kill Regina.

 

But he didn't.

 

“You… he said in a low but also terribly hurt and angry voice. What are you doing here ?”

 

“I came here to apologize. And don't worry, after this day, after we leave this place, I am not going to bother you anymore.”

 

“You separated me from my daughter !”

 

“You're not the only who was tricked Jefferson ! You did it too ! To me. You and Frankenstein – and Rumplestiltskin, I am sure he was in it – you made me believe you could bring back Daniel from the dead ! And I believed you, because I was a naive young girl. I know that what I did to you is far worse, but I thought that you did deserve it. I thought it, at this time.”

 

“What about Grace ? He demanded, still furious. I know I may be deserve to be punished for what I did to you, but Grace is innocent . She has nothing to do with this.”

 

I know ! I wanted my father back, but I wanted you to suffer too. And even though it changes nothing, your daughter is safe now. I promised you she would lack of nothing, I did it.”

 

Jefferson snorted.

 

“Nothing but her father, he muttered.”

 

“Oh, and well, when you will come back, you will lack of nothing too, and you will finally be able to give your daughter everything she ever wanted. Including you. I know it doesn't the fact you were separated, but trust me, I am trying to fix what I did to you.

 

The Hatter raised an eyebrow, half convinced by her speech.

 

“Why are you so kind toward me ? What happened to you ?”

 

Well, believe it or not, but it happened thanks to Rumplestiltskin. The Dark One himself, well, former Dark One now… He talked to me, one day, about the fact that I shouldn't purchase my revenge anymore. It took time, but I finally realized he had been right, and I understood how wrong I was toward you, and me and Belle, we decided to rescue you !”

 

J efferson nodded his head, understanding.

 

“Oh, and I put my mother in prison too. Just hope she will not be frightening anyone in Wonderland.”

 

This time, Jefferson had a real smile.

 

By the way, before we leave, I have to talk with her...”

 

Then, Jefferson reacted very rapidly.

 

“Wait… this is not how the hat works ! He exclaimed. Two people go in, and two other leave. And I am not going to let you abandon someone else here.”

 

Regina smiled to him.

 

“You don't have to worry Jefferson… There was a th ir d person, with us, that you know. Will Scarlet. When he heard about our project to come here, he came with us. He is staying here, and we can, the three of us, just leave, without anyone being stu c k here. Okay ?”

 

The Hatter's breathe became more normal, and he nodded.

 

“Okay”, he said.

 

§§§§

 

Regina allowed herself to just breathe when she saw her mother locked up in this cellar.

 

She looked at the woman locked up – that she locked up, who couldn't hurt her anymore, from whom she didn't have to be scared of – and she smiled. She still didn't make peace with herself, for what she did, but, at least, her mother wouldn't be able to hurt anyone now.

 

“Why did you do this to me Regina ? The fallen queen asked her.”

 

Regina ironically chuckled.

 

“You must be kidding me, right ? I told you. You're a bad queen, just as I am. You clearly deserved it. Just as I did.”

 

Cora started, surprised.

 

“What do you mean ?”

 

Her daughter had a devilish smile.

 

“Oh… you didn't hear the news ? I have been defeated by Snow White and her prince. And you know what ? I don't care about it. I am lucky that I finally had the chance to see how wrong I was. I am no queen anymore, mother, despite what you did.”

 

“You have no idea of how much you're disappointing me, Regina.”

 

The witch just laughed, and Cora frowned. She clearly didn't recognize her daughter, she was so… different from the person she used to be. She wasn't obeying to her anymore, and this time, Cora was the one who was powerless, not Regina.

 

It felt so strange.

 

“And what ? You know, mother, this time, when you patronized me, controlled me and everything in my life, it's over ! I am free now, and living on my own, without you. And yes, I am not a queen, and it's perfectly fine for me. I lost, and maybe that, in a way, I won. And I am grateful for that, you know why mother ?”

 

“Of course no.”

 

“Because now, I know it. I will never be like you. You see, I may be not happy right now, because I am still a pariah, feared by many people – even if I am working on it, she added – but, at least, yeah. I am trying to become a better person, and maybe that, one day, I can become someone else. Someone like Snow. A true hero.”

 

“You're not serious. You, become a hero ?”

 

“I wasn't made for darkness. I chose it, in the end, because you manipulated me. You are the one who killed Daniel and you made me hate an innocent little girl that had nothing to do with all of this and that you manipulated too.”

 

She then stopped, taking a deep breath.

 

I hate you, mother. You killed the man I loved, and you did it because you wanted to force me to have the life you would have wanted for yourself.”

 

Cora just sighed.

 

“Do you intend to kill me ?”

 

“No. For two reasons. First, because, as I told you, I am not like you. I am not going to kill you, but I will let you here. The second reason is this : this is my revenge against you. For what you did to me. I am going to let you rot in there, being powerless and without being able to do anything. You will stay here, forever, with no power. Because you destroyed my life, and so much other. And I am not even talking about Zelena.”

 

Cora immediately paled.

 

“What ?”

 

“Yes, mother. I even know about this, thanks to Rumplestiltskin. He gave me my memories back, and I found my sister back. I reconciled with her, and now, I have a real family besides me. My father, who let me down just when I went too far, but who never stopped loving me, and who forgave me, just as Snow did. Now, I have my father, my former step-daughter, and my sister with me. And you're not going to take them from me. Never.”

 

Facing Cora's silence, and feeling like she had said everything she had to say, Regina smiled, and left, leaving her mother in her cellar.

 

She did what she had to do…

 

Now, she just had to make Jefferson get out of here.

 

§§§§

 

Rumplestiltskin clearly didn't like the World without colors. It was just so… well, colorless.

 

And dull, too.

 

There was a reason to the fact that he never went into this world, except at the time where he needed Frankenstein' help.

 

But, this time, he wasn't there for that.

 

Since Henry sent him back in his world, he never stopped trying to fulfill the task the Emma and the Regina of the other world gave to him : to help some people who needed help to get their happy ending.

 

Now, he had a certain doctor to help, and he had a non-easy task to do.

 

To convince him to stop his quest to bring back the dead, and to convince him to go to the Enchanted Forest.

 

Rumplestiltskin sighed.

 

It was going to be a long, long discussion, he thought.

Chapter Text

Victor put his head in his hands, and had a deep sight.

 

Then, he looked at the man in front of him, still locked up.

 

“You should have killed me when you realized what I have become, Gerhardt said to his brother, sad.”

 

Victor just turned his head.

 

“No. Just no. Brother, it was already too hard for me to bring you back, I am not going to kill you again. You're not going to die because of me, not again, he said with both sadness and guilt.”

 

“Victor… it was just an accident, and...”

 

He couldn't end his sentence, taking his head in his hands, grimacing at the terrible pain invading him again. When he saw his brother still suffering from the terrible pain that had been in him since he came back to life, since his brother brought him back, Victor again had an air of guilt on his face.

 

It was his fault.

 

His brother died because of him, because he was on his quest to bring back dead people from death, because he had been too much taken in his obsession.

 

Their father died in this situation, but at least, in had been just an accident, and Gerhardt had the excuse of being not entirely human or alive, or himself, a thing that Victor wasn't.

 

The doctor's hands began to tremble, and he stand up, not being able to handle it anymore. His own brother was suffering and almost dying in front of his eyes, and he could do absolutely nothing.

 

“I'm sorry brother, he finally whispered. I am going to find a way, I promise you.”

 

The look his brother gave to him almost broke his heart.

 

He couldn't bare it anymore, and he left the room, almost running.

 

He needed air, right now.

 

§§§§

 

His researches were going nowhere, and he perfectly knew it. His brother was here, alive, but he never seemed so dead to him. He was breathing, he could think, talk, but he wasn't human. He was just a zombie, and the most Victor was trying to fix it, the most he was failing.

 

His brother just wanted to die, but the scientist just couldn't let it happen.

 

It wasn't about being famous, about celebrity, not even about his great goal to defeat death, no. He didn't care about it anymore, in fact, now, he wasn't trying to bring back dead people, but just trying to fix his brother.

 

To make it work, because now, his little brother was alive, but not fine, and it was his responsibility to save him.

 

He put his hands on a table, these one were still shaking, and he felt a few tears appear in his eyes, and, too moved by his own failure, he didn't even try to wipe them.

 

“Doctor ? Igor asked. There is a man, here, who wants to talk with you. It's the same man who came here before you brought your brother back.”

 

Victor, a little tired, put his hand on his face, wiping his tears, and he nodded.

 

“You mean Rumplestiltskin, right ? Alright Igor, make him come here.”

 

The other man then frowned, seeing how exhausted the doctor seemed to be.

 

“Victor ? Are you okay ? He asked him.”

 

Since Gerhardt came back, things had been quite… harsh, for the two of them, but for Victor in particular.

 

And he was asking himself if his employer would be able to support it or not.

 

The doctor tried to give him a confident smile, which didn't really work.

 

“Yes, of course Igor, I'm fine.”

 

He was lying.

 

Of course, he was lying.

 

Before Igor could say anything more, Rumplestiltskin then entered in the room.

 

Victor Frankenstein immediately frowned, not recognizing him the second he saw him, before shrugging, not really caring about the way his skin looked like.

 

“Doctor ! I am happy to meet you again. How are things for you ?”

 

“Not really good, he admitted, completely sincere. I brought back my brother, but it didn't work the way I wanted to. He is still terribly suffering from the side effects of being alive again.”

 

Rumple raised an eyebrow, not really expecting it.

 

“Oh… so it did work, in the end, right ?”

 

“Yes, it did. And I still don't know if I have to thank you or not, in fact.

 

- Well, then, just congratulate yourself, after all, I did nothing important at all. I just gave you the opportunity to get a magic heart, which would make it work, you're the one who did all the work of researches, after all. You did a good job, doctor.”

 

Victor just had an ironic laugh.

 

“You know what ? I am not even sure of that now. I succeeded, yes… but to what price ? My brother is not himself anymore, he is living without really living, he is in pain. And I can't heal him.”

 

Rumplestiltskin thought about it for some seconds.

 

“So… he is still alive, right ?

 

- Yes.

 

- But he is not well…

 

- Oh hell, no !

 

- You see… I think I could help you…

 

- How ?

 

- My magic. It could make him feel better. I mean, you already brought him back, I wouldn't have so many things to do.”

 

Hope appeared in the doctor's eyes, before he frowned, suspicious.

 

“Wait… you want to help me ? Why would you want to do this ? Aren't you the Dark One in your world ? You're not really known for your desire to help people.”

 

After all, Jefferson told him some things about the wizard, after he came in the Enchanted Forest, as they began seeing each other after this first encounter.

 

Rumplestiltskin rolled his eyes.

 

“You've got a point, he admitted. But, I will tell you this, as I tell it to almost everyone, I changed. I am not the Dark One anymore, I make myself be called the Sorcerer, and yes, I do want to help people now. And as I can see it now, you need help.

 

- Oh, you think so ? He asked him, ironic, and almost cynical.

 

- Oh, sarcasm doctor ? Well, at least, you're still yourself, if you still can make jokes about yourself. First, you need to sleep.”

 

Indeed, it was clear that the doctor hadn't sleep since days, since there were dark rings under his eyes, and it was really difficult for him to stand up and to listen carefully to his interlocutor.

 

“If you accept to trust me, then, I will make you come in my world, where you would try to rest, and where I would try to cure your brother from… well, from what he is suffering of. Are you okay about it ?”

 

Apart his brother and Igor, Victor Frankenstein had nothing and no one in the land without color.

 

He was known here at the mad man who tried to do the impossible, to do what no one could do, he was both seen as monster and a great scientist. But he had to admit he didn't feel like he belonged to his world.

 

And, if in exchange he could get his brother back, as it used to be, then, well, why not.

 

Victor nodded his head.

 

“I agree with this.”

 

And Rumplestiltskin smiled.

 

So, that was done.

 

§§§§

 

He was going to leave Wonderland.

 

He was really going to leave Wonderland, and he couldn't believe it.

 

Just as he couldn't believe that it was Regina, the Evil Queen, the one who trapped him here, who was going to help him to do this.

 

Oh, her and this woman he knew nothing about.

 

They were waiting for Regina to come back, after this one left them in order to talk to her mother, they were just the two of them, as Will and Anastasia came back before to say him their goodbyes, knowing the Hatter was going to leave soon.

 

Jefferson looked at Belle, intrigued by her.

 

She was the one who made him come back from the vicious circle he which he was throwing himself in since he began to do these hats, but he knew nothing about her.

 

He was really grateful for what she did, but he was asking himself why she was doing this.

 

“Tell me Belle, who are you ?

 

- Just a woman who loves books, going on adventures, and who decided to help an Evil Queen to do her redemption.

 

- Did she tell me the truth ? Is she changing ? What happened exactly ?

 

- Oh, something very simple, something which helped her opening her eyes. She lost.”

 

Jefferson chuckled, and Belle smiled, because now, he seemed to be more calm and sane than before.

 

“Yes, I guess it does help, he whispered with mischief.

 

- She lost against Snow White and David, they put her into prison, and my husband helped her remembering that once upon a time, she was a good person.

 

- Who is your husband ? He asked, curious.

 

- Rumplestiltskin, she announced.”

 

He frowned, astonished.

 

“You married Rumplestiltskin ? The imp ? The Dark One ? How did it happen ?

 

- Yes, I did. I saw the man behind the Beast, and I helped him see the good in himself. And he is not the Dark One anymore, he get rid of darkness.”

 

Jefferson blinked, before smiling again.

 

“Whoa… Now I see it, there are many, many things which changed while I wasn't there.”

 

Then he regained his serious, being more stressed.

 

“Do you think… do you think my daughter is going to forgive me for abandoning her ?”

 

She could see it easily, Jefferson was afraid.

 

And she smiled, trying to reassure him.

 

“Jefferson, you're a good man. You made mistakes in your past, my husband told me about it. But, when you had Grace, you changed totally. You became a father, and a good one, if what Regina told me is true. You left her alone, because you were trapped. You wanted her to have a good life, and you knew perfectly that it wouldn't work if she got a miserable life. A life you were going to have. Regina manipulated and trapped you. And Grace loves you, she will forgive you. By the way, my husband will go to tell her that her father is coming back soon. You don't have to worry.”

 

And Jefferson had a hesitant smile.

 

“Thanks Belle.

 

- You're welcome.”

 

When Regina came back, they immediately left the realm.

 

§§§§

 

When Rumplestiltskin, Victor, Gerhardt and Igor arrived in the Enchanted Forest, two of them (well, the only one who never went in this world, or even in a world where there was colors.) blinked, facing things they never saw, facing colors they didn't even know they existed.

 

“Well, welcome into my world ! Rumplestiltskin announced them in a very theatrical way (well, as he himself almost always was in the past, when he was still the imp). And welcome into my house too, he added, showing them the “Light Castle”.”

 

The three men looked at it, impressed, before Victor asked him :

 

“Are you sure you're okay with the fact of letting us here ? I mean… it's your home, it's your castle.”

 

Rumplestiltskin just shrugged, as if the question pointed something not important.

 

“As you can notice it by yourself, it's a very big and great castle. And no, you won't bother me or my wife, we already let people live in there before, and it will be just temporary. If you want to stay in this world, then, you can search for a house, if you want to get a place where you can feel like home.”

 

Gerhardt smiled to the wizard.

 

“Well, sorcerer, then, thank you. I do hope you will succeed in your project, you would literally change my life, if you succeeded to cure me.

 

- I will try as much as I can, he said as they were entering. Well, first…”

 

Then he cast a temporary sleeping spell on Gerhardt who didn't sleep since he came back, not needing it and being too taken by the terrible pain he was enduring every time during every days to be able to. Before Victor had time to say anything, the wizard transported his brother in a bed, and he said :

 

“I made him sleep, so, at least for the next hours, he will not suffer, and you won't have to worry about him, and you can sleep if you want.”

 

Victor just nodded and accepted.

 

When he went to sleep, it was the moment where Regina and Belle were trying to reason Jefferson.

 

Some hours later, he woke up and stand up, not completely awake enough, but after what he went through, it was like he had slept for days.

 

He went to see Rumplestiltskin, who was going to leave his castle very soon.

 

“Where are you going ? He asked him.

 

- The former Queen gave me a mission, to go to see a little girl named Grace, in order to tell her that her father is coming back in some hours.”

 

Victor frowned, not knowing if he heard it well.

 

“Grace ? Do you mean Jefferson's daughter ?

 

- Yes, indeed. I won't ask you if you know him, the sorcerer told him with a smirk, knowing about the fact Victor and Jefferson had been together for a time before Jefferson had his daughter, after all, I am the one who made you meet each other.

 

- Where was he exactly ? The doctor asked, not taking into account the joke Rumplestiltskin tried to make (which was not really a good one, indeed). What happened to him ? He asked, kind of afraid.

 

- Regina, the Evil Queen, she learned about what we did to her, the fake try of resurrection with Daniel. And… she decided to punish him, and she trapped him in Wonderland, some years ago. Then, she decided to free him, she is right now in Wonderland with my wife to do it.”

 

The doctor then frowned.

 

“Wait… What ? Wonderland ? Really ? Doesn't he hate this place ?

 

- Oh, yes, he does ! And you can trust me, it surely wasn't a good experience, not with Cora leading the realm, he added. Seeing Victor's puzzled look, he smiled, and added : The only thing you have to know about it, is that she is a terrible woman. She is the one who killed Daniel.

 

- Oh… I see… Well, I guess, Victor said, who didn't really do it.

 

- You don't have to worry about this place, he will be out of it in some hours.

 

- So… you have to go to see Grace.

 

- Yes. If you want to come with me, you can, I guess she will talk more easily to you than to me… She doesn't know me, while she knows you. Well, her father does mostly, but you see what I mean.

 

- Yes, I do.”

 

§§§§

 

Other hours passed, during which Grace talked with Victor and Rumplestiltskin, and where she learned that she had been right all along : her father was going to come back for her, as he promised ! Well, he would be late for their tea party, the one they were supposed to get the day he disappeared, yes, but she didn't care.

 

They would have time for other tea parties, in fact, they would a new guest, in the person of Victor, as Grace invited him, a thing he accepted.

 

After all, he thought, it would be good to be reunited with them, as it used to be, in the old good time, and the thing is that he missed the two of them.

 

He missed what they used to have.

 

The portal opened, and three people got out of it : Belle, who ran directly into Rumplestiltskin's arms, Regina, who decided it was better if she left immediately (as Jefferson surely didn't want to see her again. As she herself did with him), and Jefferson, who stopped moving.

 

So, here he was, in the Enchanted Forest.

 

On his way back home.

 

The hat made them arrive just in front of the place where Grace lived now, and the Hatter just smiled weakly when he saw his little girl in front of him, feeling like he was going to fall on the ground, too moved to see her again.

 

She was here, she was safe, and she was looking at him like nothing changed, like he never made that mistake of listening to the queen, like he was just coming back from the woods where he would have been hiding.

 

Time seemed to stop, and in fact, at first, no one said anything or did anything, not even Belle, who stop moving after she rejoined Rumplestiltskin.

 

Jefferson didn't notice Victor was here at first, too focused on his daughter, but, when he saw him, his breath stopped briefly, as he was seeing his past lover here too.

 

They were waiting for him, and a great joy and a great happiness began to invade him, and it was like nothing ever changed.

 

Then, Grace broke it, running immediately in her father's arms.

 

Jefferson took her in his arms, embracing her in a deep and great hug which lasted like forever for them.

 

“Hello daddy, she whispered to him, and he began to cry.

 

- Hey Grace, I am happy to see you again. I missed you so much.

 

- And I missed you too.

 

- I'm sorry I gave you up… I never wanted this to happen, I swear to you.

 

- It's okay pap, Rumplestiltskin and Victor already explained me everything. I know it wasn't your fault.”

 

Jefferson had a sad and joyous smile, still crying, and he nodded.

 

“No, it wasn't, he approved.”

 

And then, he looked at Victor, just there, and something woke up in him, something he thought disappeared some years ago, the other man approached him, and he smiled.

 

He felt better than ever, better than the way he felt when he was in Wonderland.

 

He felt like he was at home.

 

He was with his family.

 

He didn't want anything else, right now.

 

“I guess we should leave right now, Rumplestiltskin whispered to his wife.”

 

Belle had a tender smile toward the little family which was finally reunited, and she nodded her head.

 

“I totally approve, she whispered to him.”

 

And they left to their castle, to their own home.

 

§§§§

 

Some days passed, and things changed too.

 

Rumplestiltskin, being the great sorcerer he still was, didn't need many time to cure Gerhardt from the pain he felt since he came back.

 

But he wasn't the only one who still had things to do.

 

Regina did so.

 

She helped Jefferson getting back to who he lost during some years because of her.

 

Good.

 

But not enough.

 

There was someone else she needed to help and save, if she really wanted to be someone good again, someone she punished because she helped Snow White, one day.

 

Ariel.

 

Coming close to the ocean, where she knew the mermaid was, she called her, and this one then immediately appeared in front of her. An air of anger and maybe fear too took place on her face, and she looked like she was ready to leave, before Regina began to talk to her :

 

“Stop ! Ariel, I'm not here to hurt you again, I promise !”

 

The mute woman gave her a look which surely meant : Are you kidding me ?

 

Regina rolled her eyes.

 

Well, it wasn't as if she was not used to it, it was not as if she didn't deserve this.

 

“Listen, I know I am the one who put you in this situation first, and I know that what I did to you was awful, but I am here to apologize, and to make amend. I want to fix my mistakes… my crimes, in fact, as it's a more appropriate word.”

 

Ariel snorted, seeming to approve the choice of word of the former queen.

 

First, give me my voice back, she screamed, not being heard because of the spell the witch cast on her.

 

But Regina easily understood what she wanted to say.

 

So, she did as the mermaid asked her to.

 

Ariel felt it immediately, and she then had a sight of relief when she realized her voice was indeed back in her. But then, she frowned, knowing it couldn't be that easy.

 

It never was.

 

And she perfectly knew who was just in front of her, she knew how monstrous and dangerous the Evil Queen could be.

 

What do you want from me ?

 

- Why do you think I have bad intentions ? Wh at does make you think I want you to do something for me ?

 

- Because you're the Evil Queen ! Ariel answered, as if it was an evidence, which was, in fact. This is what you are, who you are. Why would I trust you ?

 

- Because… I don't know… I helped you ?

 

- What do you want from me ? She repeated, still not convinced.

 

- Nothing, I swear ! I am just trying not to be the Evil Queen anymore, and I want to be a better person. A thing I can do just by helping people I hurt in the past. And the thing is that you're one of the people of this… long, long list.

 

- And then what ? Are you going to give me legs ? Or will I be forced to stay here, far from the man I love and who think I abandoned him, and who may already forgot me ?

 

- No, you won't ! And of course I am going to give you what you want, I told you, I don't want to be evil anymore, and yes, you don't deserve what I did to you. I am sorry Ariel, and I am here to fix it, as I should have done it before. I don't want to trick you, and if you still don't believe me, you can ask Snow White. We are not enemies anymore, and now, we fight on the same side.”

 

T he mermaid desperately wanted to believe in the words the woman in front of her was now saying, but… she was already manipulated by her in the past, and her friend had been almost caught by the queen because of this.

 

But… the thing is that she asked for nothing, so, maybe that this time, things wouldn't turn as bad as they did before.

 

Before she had time to add anything, Regina made a gesture, and put on the woman's arm the same bracelet she used in the past (except that its effects would be permanent now), the one which gave Ariel a pair of legs and which made her get rid of her tail.

 

So now, you can go and find your prince. And you don't have to thank me, I was just cleaning my own mess, so… Goodbye.”

 

I n a last gesture, Regina also sent Ariel (after also giving her human outfits) in the castle where she knew prince Eric was (as there was going to have a ball here), and she herself left the place too.

 

Ariel started, feeling the change of environment, looked at herself, and she then looked at what was in front of her.

 

And she smiled, more happy than she ever was since a long, long time.

 

Eric ? She asked, looking at the prince she didn't see since the queen took her voice from her.

 

The prince turned back, and he smiled at her too when he saw her.

 

- Ariel ?”

 

It looked like he was really happy she was here, and even if at first the young woman feared that he would not want to see her again after what happened, she quickly realized she had been wrong.

 

There was no great exclamation of joy, no kiss, no embrace, well, not at this moment, indeed.

 

They just looked at each other, smiling, as if there was no one around them to see their reunion.

 

§§§§

 

It had been since some weeks that Jefferson came back in the Enchanted Forest, and Rumplestiltskin was really satisfied of how things were going.

 

The Hatter was reconnecting with Grace and Victor, and even if it was still hard for him to be okay with what happened to him (as it was the case for Graham too), he was healing.

 

And he met Gerhardt Frankenstein too, and this last one was perfectly approving the growing relationship between his brother and the other man.

 

And well, he was healed too, and he was how he used to be before he died and before he was brought back, thanks to Rumplestiltskin's magic.

 

So, yes, things were good for everyone.

 

It didn't mean that everything was good.

 

Rumplestiltskin still missed his son, really badly, and he knew he had to wait for his return in this world, but it still hurt, even though Belle's presence helped him cope with this.

 

It was during a day where Belle was not at the castle (she told him something about going to see a huntsman who needed help) and he had to admit that he was feeling lonely.

 

But it didn't last a too long time, and the sorcerer started when he saw a young man with a young woman, wearing a gauntlet on her left hand, who were coming in his castle.

 

“Oh, I see !” He whispered for himself, understanding who were these people and the reason why they were here, as he remembered how things happened in the other version of the story that he lived.

 

It was something he had to deal with, right now.

Chapter Text

Lancelot and Guinevere.

 

Oh, yes, he remembered them.

 

A woman and a man who just desperately wanted their king to stop his insane quest.

 

And at a time, in the version of the story he already lived, in the past, he helped them without really helping them, as he refused to give them the dagger.

 

Which was understandable at this moment, as he still was the Dark One.

 

Something he was not anymore.

 

“How did the two of you succeed to get here ?” He asked them.

 

The queen showed him the gauntlet, and Rumplestiltskin nodded, before frowning.

 

And he realized something he never thought about, that is to say that his transformation surely had effects on the dagger.

 

In fact… he didn't even know what happened to it. Did the dagger still exist ?

 

The last time he saw this one, it was… well, he didn't even remember.

 

But he did know where the dagger was supposed to be, and he went to take it from where it was hidden, and he had a smile when he saw what it looked like.

 

It was just a dagger, there was no name on it, his one had disappeared just after Belle freed him from the curse that was on him.

 

“I guess you're looking for this, right ? He asked to them, and he saw relief appear on their face.

 

- Yes, Guinevere answered him. It's the missing piece of Excalibur, my husband's sword. It's the thing he is looking for since years.

 

- Yes, indeed… Hum… looking for it is not the only thing he did, right ? He also neglected you marriage.”

 

Guinevere hiccuped with surprise, not expecting him to know her story.

 

“My name is Rumplestiltskin, and I am the Sorcerer… Well, Merlin is the True Sorcerer, in fact, the one of your kingdom, but… You know what ? Let's just say that I am the Sorcerer of the Enchanted Forest, and he is the Sorcerer of Camelot, it will make thing easier for everyone. So, I am the Sorcerer, and I know everything. Even the fact that you and this knight passed some days together, and that things like feelings developed between the two of you. Feelings which were already present before, and which should have never be.”

 

The two people blushed immediately, and nodded, and Rumplestiltskin just sighed.

 

“Well, it's not my business, but… in fact, you should tell your king and husband about it.

 

- Are you going to give us this dagger ? Lancelot asked him, talking for the first time.

 

- Oh yes, of course, and I am coming with you too.

 

- For what reason ? Guinevere demanded, not being sure she wanted this to happen. After all, they didn't know this man, and he was supposed to be the Dark One, no ?

 

- I want to help, of course ! Because you surely need help, not to reform Excalibur (you can do this by yourself), but to free Merlin from the tree in which he is locked up !

 

- How… How do you know this ? Lancelot said.

 

- I read things about your land, and I learned other by myself.”

 

(He didn't tell them he read this in the book Regina and Emma gave him.)

 

“But, Guinevere said, being really skeptical about it, it's said in the prophecy that Arthur heard of that it has to be a Savior, who breaks the spell on Merlin.”

 

Oh… yes, it was a problem.

 

Or, maybe not.

 

After all, Henry told him he would get the power of the Savior, or something like that, when he would stop being the Dark One.

 

(This conversation happened some months ago now, but he remembered what the young man told him, and Rumplestiltskin told himself it could work.)

 

“Well, I may not be a Savior, but… just know that my magic works this way, in a sense.”

 

Lancelot and Guinevere both raised an eyebrow, not really convinced.

 

The Sorcerer rolled his eyes.

 

“You know what ? What if we just went in Camelot, so we can figure out what we are going to do, after we are in there ?”

 

And, without waiting for their answer, he sent them and himself in Camelot.

 

§§§§

 

Rumplestiltskin never went in Camelot.

 

When he put his dagger into his vault to make Lancelot and Guinevere come in there, so he would trap them and he would get the gauntlet for him, it didn't happen in Camelot itself.

 

It was in another place of the Enchanted Forest.

 

It was not the Camelot which was created after Arthur used the thing Rumplestiltskin gave to Guinevere to change the point of view of the other, the one which “fixed” the kingdom in another version of the story.

 

So, when he saw what it was, he understood the reason why Arthur wanted so much to save his kingdom, to fix it.

 

It was, indeed, a broken kingdom.

 

Lancelot and Guinevere blinked, surprised of how fast it had been for them to come back at home.

 

“What the hell… whispered Guinevere, before seeing someone from Camelot coming in their direction.

 

- Your majesty, he said, both panicked and relieved, you're here ! Finally ! I know you told us where you were going, but you're gone since now six days, and we are all worried for the king.

 

- What do you mean ? The queen asked.”

 

There was a part of her which was terribly hoping that Arthur remarked her absence, and that he was worried about the fact she was not here anymore.

 

There was a part of her which hoped that she didn't loose him forever.

 

But the servant's answer was not going to be like she imagined it could be.

 

He sighed.

 

“The king… We all think he is loosing his mind. The knights, all of them, they are worried for him too. He is not leaving his room anymore, he is searching for something which would help him fix the kingdom, to save it, as he keeps saying. We think he is going to become crazy, he admitted, sad.”

 

Guinevere's hand clenched around the dagger she was holding, a dagger Rumplestiltskin gave her some seconds before, as a proof of his good faith.

 

And her hope and her joy immediately faded.

 

“Did he ask to see me ?” Guinevere asked him, still trying to hope, trying to think that, maybe, it was not over.

 

Arthur was her husband, after all, and she used to love him, so yes, maybe she still could fix it.

 

She had the dagger with her, after all.

 

She just needed a proof that yes, Arthur did care for her.

 

And if he didn't, well…

 

She looked at Lancelot, just next to her.

 

There was another man who was already doing this.

 

The man just turned his head.

 

“I'm sorry my queen, but he didn't. In fact, he asked for no one, he just stayed there, trying to translate a text. If I am not wrong, he still found nothing.”

 

And at this moment, at this precise moment, Guinevere gave up.

 

She gave up on him, on Arthur, on their love, on what used to be or could have been, and she let a small sob escape from her lips, and a tear fell from her eyes.

 

“He didn't even notice that I left the kingdom, right ?” She asked, feeling like her heart was breaking.

 

The servant paled, before nodding his head.

 

Guinevere took a deep breath, trying to regain her composure.

 

And she took Lancelot's hand in her, pressing this one tightly, as if she didn't want him to risk to disappear under her eyes, just as Arthur did.

 

“Fine, she said, I have to get a talk with the king, she said, her face now sharper than before, and there was anger in her eyes too. We need to talk.

 

- I'm coming with you, Lancelot said, and the woman nodded, not really wanting to be alone to confront Arthur.

 

- And I will myself go to see Merlin… Well, to see the tree in which he was turned, in fact, Rumplestiltskin said.

 

- Thanks for your help Sorcerer, Guinevere told him. I hope you will succeed to free Merlin. Maybe that if you can, then, there will be someone who will be able to reason Arthur. I know myself that I can't do this anymore, she whispered, sadness clearly visible in her eyes.”

 

Feeling Lancelot's grip on her right hand, she smiled.

 

Because, at least, she was not alone.

 

Rumplestiltskin left them at this moment, and Guinevere smiled when she realized that yes, they were really close to their goal.

 

She had in her hand the thing Arthur looked for since many years, the reason why he became more and more distant toward her.

 

She hated this thing she had in her hand, but she hoped too that having this with them would stop Arthur from becoming definitely insane.

 

The servant became even more pale than before, and he said :

 

“Your majesty, I… I don't think the king wants to see anyone right now.

 

- I don't care about it, she said with a sharp tone. The king needs to stop this madness right now, and Lancelot and I, we are going to do this. Don't tell him we are coming, okay ? I want to see by myself what my husband has become.”

 

She then pressed even firmly her hand in Lancelot's, knowing she was going to need help to support the future confrontation.

 

§§§§

 

He was close from the solution, Arthur was now certain of it.

 

He just needed some more time, he just needed…

 

He blinked when he felt the door of the room being opening, letting enter Lancelot, followed by Guinevere, who let a look full of pity fall on her husband.

 

Arthur was not completely idiot either, he knew that there was some basis things that must be done to survive, but the thing was that… he surely hadn't really slept a lot since Lancelot and Guinevere left, the queen and the knight both realized.

 

And it was not the only thing that could be noticed.

 

His eyes… in them, there was a light Guinevere never saw in her husband's eyes, something which frightened her as hell, and she had an involuntary move of fear when she saw her husband in this state.

 

This one had the decency to, at least, appear mortified for being seen by her in this state of mind.

 

“Guinevere ? What are you doing here ? He asked his wife.”

 

The queen walked in his direction, and immediately slapped his face.

 

“Thanks. Thanks a lot Arthur, for caring for me with so much interest ! She screamed with a sarcastic tone. You didn't see me since six fucking days, and this is everything you succeed to tell me ? Lancelot had much more conversation when the two of us we were on this trip to find for you what you were looking for !”

 

Arthur looked at her, astonished, and the young woman couldn't have said if it was more because of the slap or because of her words.

 

And this time, Guinevere didn't contain herself anymore.

 

“Do you want to know the reason why I wasn't there since six days ? Well, I don't even know if you care, as you didn't ask to see me, as you didn't even notice I was gone ! There was tears in the queen's eyes, and when Lancelot took her hand, she didn't try to stop him.

 

- Guinevere, I...”

 

She didn't know if he wanted to say that he was sorry, but the thing is that she didn't care anymore, she didn't want to hear him say that he was sorry without meaning it.

 

Because she knew that his quest was and would always be more important than her, so she didn't want to buy his lies again.

 

She didn't want to be in his life anymore.

 

It would have broken her heart some days ago, when she was still trying to be unaware of Lancelot's feelings for her, and her own feelings.

 

But now, as she knew that Arthur was too lost in his obsession to succeed to care for her, she was not feeling guilty anymore for having romantic feelings for another man.

 

After all, Arthur was the first one who provoked the destruction of their relationship, and it was not a surprise that she finally decided to find someone else than him, someone who wouldn't put his mission before her, someone who would really care.

 

And Lancelot was this person.

 

It didn't mean that Guinevere didn't care anymore for Arthur, he was still her husband after all – not for so long, she thought – and her friend, and she used to love him, - but her feelings for him were now dead, as she was seeing a man who had nothing to do with the man she married – and she wanted to help him.

 

And if she tried to stay as neutral as possible, she could see a desperate man, who needed help.

 

But who also needed to hear that he had a problem, which was the case.

 

“Please Arthur, don't talk. I don't want you to apologize to me. I just want to tell that you went too far. You abandoned everything, not just me, but also your kingdom, your people, your friends, just in order to pursuit a chimera you may never find. (She didn't tell him she found what he was looking for. She just wanted to be sure he was really lost.) So, now, my dear, I am going to leave you with this ultimatum.

 

- What do you want Guinevere ? Arthur asked her, and she almost gave up, seeing how tired and desperate he seemed to be, but she had to stay firm.

 

- Choose. This is me, or your quest. And you have to choose now.”

 

A part of Lancelot was now taken by fear.

 

He was sure that Arthur was going to choose Guinevere, after all she was his wife, his queen, the woman he loved since he was a child.

 

And for Lancelot, she mattered much more than any quest, even the most glorious, even the one Arthur was purchasing.

 

And he knew that if the king chose Guinevere, he was going to loose her, something he was waiting for since the day where he told the queen he loved her, and where she told him she loved him too.

 

He knew himself that she chose him just because Arthur was not here for her, and even if a part of him hoped that she would choose him over Arthur, he was still afraid that the king's choice would immediately separate him from the woman he loved.

 

He knew himself that he would always choose her.

 

It was so obvious for him.

 

But not for everyone, apparently, according to Arthur's terrified look, who didn't seem to have any idea of what to answer.

 

“Guinevere, you just can't ask this to me !

 

- Why not ? It's an easy thing to do. This dagger you're searching for, or me.

 

- I can't choose ! This is my quest, my mission and I have to do this to save the kingdom.”

 

Understanding that now he had already made his choice, even if he was still not conscious of it, Guinevere had a sad smile.

 

(And the thing was that Arthur still didn't seem to remark the interlaced fingers of his wife and his friend.)

 

“But Arthur, it doesn't mean you have to loose yourself in the process...”

 

Guinevere then sighed, taking the dagger from her pocket, in which this one was hidden.

 

And Arthur's eyes began to shine with envy when he saw it.

 

“Give it to me ! He ordered her, and it felt like he wasn't really seeing her anymore, but just the object which had destroyed their wedding.

 

- No Arthur, I won't. Not now, because you need help. And Arthur, you did make your choice, so I make mine. I'm leaving you. You don't want me to be with you anymore, you just want to find the missing piece of Excalibur. You don't love me anymore, I know it. You want this thing more than you want me, am I wrong ?”

 

When she saw Arthur's look, she realized it was the truth, and she put the dagger back into her pocket.

 

“I will give it to you Arthur, I promise, but first, you need to rest, and to understand how far you went, and all the things you almost lost by your attitude.”

 

And then, without waiting for her husband to answer, she immediately knocked him out.

 

Lancelot looked at her, surprised, seeing the woman putting her husband on his bed, so he would finally sleep.

 

“Isn't it a little bit… extreme ? I mean, you could have used some magic, like poppy flower, right ?”

 

Guinevere just laughed, happy to be freed with this toxic relationship that settled between her and her husband, and she smiled to her lover, before kissing him.

 

“He deserved it. This is his punishment for all these evenings and all these nights where he left me alone. And I didn't have this type of magic on me, so, excuse me. And he did deserve to rest.”

 

Lancelot had a little and amused laugh, before he kissed her again.

 

§§§§

 

Regina was nervous.

 

Like, really nervous.

 

Just after she came back from Wonderland, her and Belle (well, her mostly) decided to go frequently at the Merry Men' camp, in order at first to tell them that their mission was accomplished, and that Will Scarlet was now okay and happy with Anastasia.

 

They came back of course, because Belle was a good friend of Robin and Marian and of all the Merry Men.

 

Regina came back too.

 

Not for the Merry Men.

 

Not for Marian.

 

But for Robin.

 

She liked him the second she saw him, during Snow's and David's wedding, and she was troubled when she met him, she couldn't deny it.

 

And she was terribly afraid.

 

It had been since weeks they were seeing each other, and Regina was really happy to see him every day, to make him laugh, or to laugh with him, even if she still didn't tell him many things about her life.

 

She was falling in love with him, she knew it, like she did when she was with Daniel, but, as she told to Tinkerbell before she forgot about the fact that Robin was her soul-mate, she was still unsure of the fact that she deserved to move on.

 

She looked at the ring in her hand, the ring Daniel gave to her, at a time where she was still someone good, and where she thought she could still become who she wanted to be.

 

Oh, how naive and innocent she was…

 

And she asked herself what could have been, if her mother didn't interfere in her life.

 

She asked herself if Daniel and her would have been happy or not, and if things would have been good for them.

 

For some seconds, she imagined it, a life far from the castle in which she had been a prisoner, far from this life she never wanted.

 

She imagined being with him, having a child, being happy and not with all these darkness around.

 

She began to cry lightly, before she heard someone sit down next to her, and she started when she realized it was Marian.

 

The other woman had at first logical difficulties to get used to Regina's presence, but this one had now nothing to do with the terrible queen she used to be, so now, Marian was less stressed when she was with her.

 

They were not really friends, but they were beginning to appreciate each other.

 

And Marian, being the observant woman she was, had already saw Regina's interest on Robin, interest which was certainly reciprocal.

 

Indeed, the two of them weren't that discrete.

 

Regina wiped her tears, and she smiled at the other woman, before putting the ring in her pocket, and if Marian saw her gesture, she asked her no question about it.

 

“Are you okay Regina ?

 

- Yes, she said, nodding. I was just… thinking about some sad things of my past.

 

- Something you want to forget ?

 

- Something which may stop me from moving on, she admitted.”

 

Marian had a little smile.

 

“I guess that by this you're talking about Robin, right ?”

 

Regina started, and blushed.

 

“Yes, but… how ?

 

- It's easy to see that you're falling under his charm, Regina, and I am not really surprised by it, some of the women do.

 

- Do you ? She asked Marian, more with curiosity than with jealousy.

 

Marian chuckled, amused by the other woman's hypothesis, really far from the truth.

 

- Hum… no. He is not my type, definitely not. I think someone like Belle could more be my type, she said, looking at the brunette who was now talking with Robin.”

 

Regina raised an eyebrow, not surprise by the revelation itself, but more by the fact that Marian decided to tell this to her.

 

“Well, I hope you're not interested in her, because she has a very possessive husband.”

 

Marian laughed again, the light of fear in her eyes disappearing as she saw Regina was making no remark about what she just said.

 

And she shrugged.

 

“Now, I'm not, we are just friends, that's it, and just as you and I are… kind of.

 

And Regina offered her a smile.

 

- I am happy you're beginning to consider me as your friend Marian, it does really matter for me.”

 

Because, even if she was falling in love with Robin, the thing was that she appreciated Marian and all the Merry Men too, and moreover, she wanted their friendship and their approval to have a relationship with their chief.

 

Because she knew that someone who wouldn't really be appreciated by Robin's friends would have difficulties to begin a relationship with him, just as it was at a moment the same thing with Snow White and her “brothers”, the dwarfs.

 

(Yes, David told her some things about it which made her laugh.)

 

So yes, she was completely sincere when she was telling Marian that she cared about her friendship.

 

Marian just smiled to her.

 

§§§§

 

During their conversation, there was the same type of talk between Robin and Belle.

 

In fact, Belle was the one who oriented the conversation in this direction, because, along with Tinkerbell, she was plotting to make them be together.

 

She knew for the mark, unlike the two concerned people.

 

But more than that, she knew that these two people really liked each other, it was something which could easily be noticed, just when you looked at them, and Belle really found them adorable.

 

But, if it was clear that Robin was already ready to begin a relationship with someone, even if it was the former Evil Queen, it was not the same with Regina, and Belle knew it.

 

So, that was the reason why she was here.

 

She didn't want to tell him about Daniel, she just wanted him to know things were not going to be that easy between the two of them.

 

But despite it, she was confident.

 

So they talk together for some hours, Belle not missing the looks these two were giving to each other, and she tried not to laugh.

 

Tinkerbell had always been right about it, she realized.

 

§§§§

 

During the moment where Rumplestiltskin was in Camelot (which happened after Belle's and Regina's visits to the Merry Men' camp) Belle was at this moment in Snow's and David's castle, with two certain people.

 

Red and the Huntsman.

 

This last one was still suffering from what Regina did to him while she still had his heart, and only Red and Belle's presence was able to make him feel better.

 

Because, even if it had nothing to do with what he lived, Belle knew what it was, to be locked up.

 

And Red and Graham had… a special relationship, which explained the reason why she was here.

 

The two women had been called by Snow White, who had no idea of what to do to help her friend. It was still difficult for Red and Belle to calm him, but the most they did it, the most easy it was, or in fact, it was less long every time.

 

And, just as with Regina, Belle couldn't help but see the look they were exchanging.

 

Belle began to smile.

 

She was just happy that her friends were slowly finding happiness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Rumplestiltskin grimaced.

 

This would not be that easy.

 

He was now in Camelot's library (something that had been accepted by queen Guinevere, who gave him a full access to this one), trying to figure out what could possibly be done to free Merlin, and he had to admit it, he had now no solution.

 

Belle was the one who was good at searching answers in books, he wasn't.

 

For a time, he thought about coming back in Snow's kingdom's, in order to ask Belle for her help, but then, he realized that she may had some things to do right now, he couldn't ask her to leave everything she was doing now just for him.

 

And, by the way, he could do this by himself, the former Dark One told himself.

 

It would take time, yes, but he could do this.

 

Some hours later, he realized he had indeed found the solution he was looking for, and a smile appeared on the wizard's face.

 

Finally, it was just what he had to do.

 

He started when he saw the queen and the knight Lancelot appear in front of him, as he didn't see them before, stuck in his researches as he was.

 

“So… how was the situation with the king, in the end ? He asked them.

 

Guinevere grimaced.

 

- Bad. Really bad. Arthur is going to need some help. And indeed, the thing is that, I think that in a not long time, he would have become crazy. Luckily, we came back here in time.

 

Rumplestiltskin just nodded.

 

- Did you find something interesting ? Lancelot demanded him with curiosity and hope too.”

 

The wizard smiled.

 

“I think I found exactly what I needed.”

 

§§§§

 

Rumplestiltskin sent a message to Belle, in order to tell her where he was and the fact that he was not going to come home immediately, and he began what he had to do.

 

Some days passed, and after a lot of work, while Arthur was still sleeping (as Rumplestiltskin cast a spell on him to make him sleep during the time he needed to do), Rumplestiltskin succeeded to do it. It took time, it was difficult, and the sorcerer needed help from the inhabitants of Camelot.

 

But yet, he began to smile when he saw the tree in front of them turn into a human form : Merlin.

 

This one seemed to be a little disoriented, and the man needed to use all his strength in order not to fall.

 

Merlin was not how Rumplestiltskin imagined him, regarding to how young he was (but Rumplestiltskin himself was a grown up adult when he became the Dark One and immortal, so, maybe that Merlin was younger than he was when he was touched by magic), but he could easily feel how powerful he was.

 

Realization appeared in the Sorcerer's eyes when he saw where he was and what was happening too. Rumplestiltskin was also able to see regrets in his look too, until it disappeared.

 

And Merlin just smiled.

 

“Hello Dark One, he told him. Or must I call you the Sorcerer ? He asked him with a light of humor in his eyes.

 

Rumplestiltskin just chuckled.

 

“Well, not here, as you are the Sorcerer of Camelot. And I'm happy to meet you. I guess I don't have to introduce myself, as you seem to already know me.

 

- Indeed, yes. And then, a shadow crossed Merlin's face. In fact, he added, I think you fixed some issues in this kingdom in a better way I could have.

 

- It was not your fault, you weren't here, you were trapped.

 

- I made a lot of mistakes. Toward Arthur. Toward the kingdom in general too.

 

- You're not the only who did, you know. I did it too, Arthur did, other did. You're not the only responsible of the kingdom's state. And well, at least, you can fix them…”

 

Merlin smiled and nodded.

 

§§§§

 

“Subtlety is not your friends' best quality, Regina said with a smile.”

 

Robin laughed.

 

“I won't disagree with you, on this part, he admitted. I wish our first real moment together wasn't that… planed, I would say. I'm sorry Regina.

 

- Don't be. In fact, it's pretty fun, especially if they think they are discrete.”

 

It was supposed to be at first a normal evening at the Merry Men camp. The Merry Men were here, as Robin and Regina themselves (while Belle wasn't, as she used the fact that Rumplestiltskin was not in the kingdom to go in Aurora's, Philippe's and Mulan's kingdom, to visit them), and they left them together some minutes ago.

 

All giving to them false and bad excuses and reasons which made appear a tender smile on Regina's and Robin's face.

 

It was clearly visible they wanted them to be alone, and they both appreciated the attention, but yes, it made them laugh, because clearly… it was not discrete.

 

But they didn't care.

 

They were alone now, and everything could happen.

 

Regina tried not to be afraid by this perspective.

 

Because, indeed, they needed to talk about some things, well, she had to talk.

 

After her talk with Marian, Regina thought a lot about the situation, and she was at a point where she couldn't deny the evidence anymore : she was in love with Robin Hood.

 

Definitely and completely in love with him, and if she was not wrong, he was feeling the same for her.

 

It looked like he was waiting for her to do the first step, as if he already knew she had… difficult relationships, to say the least, with men.

 

Well, with people in general, regarding to how she acted as the Evil Queen.

 

He didn't know for her lost love, for her wedding which was just a masquerade, for what she did to Graham.

 

But he already knew she suffered in love, and she knew either that in fact, they would be able to move on together just if she succeeded to herself move on.

 

Was she ready to do it ?

 

Before, well, she wouldn't have thought it, before her conversation with Marian, she would have thought it wasn't time for her to do it.

 

But now, she considered herself as being on the road of redemption, and even if it wasn't over, after she helped people like Jefferson or Ariel, she thought that maybe, just maybe, she could have the right to get some happiness now.

 

A happiness with someone like Robin, but also with the other people with her, her sister, her father, Snow White, even Rumplestiltskin and Belle, and many other.

 

She was not alone anymore now, and it gave her courage to do this, to engage the conversation in a special direction.

 

In fact, after a silence between them, she decided to begin to talk, maybe in a very brutal way, but there was many unsaid things between them, things which had to be said by her, especially.

 

“His name was Daniel, she said, abruptly. Robin started, surprised, but he answered nothing, listening to her, knowing it was going to be an important discussion for them. He was a stable boy, working for my family. We fell in love when we were adolescents, and we wanted to flee together, after the King… well, Snow's father, asked to marry me. But my mother did not let us do this. She killed him.”

 

Robin let a gasp of horror escape from his mouth without even trying to contain it.

 

“She killed him, and I turned into this horrible person who tried to murder a child, for something which was not her fault. I loved him, and his death broke me. And I thought at this time I would never be happy again, so, I decided that if I couldn't, no one could, especially not my step-daughter. A tear rolled along her face. Now, I know how much wrong I was, she whispered.”

 

Robin then took her hand in his, still listening, ready to let her go if she asked him to.

 

And she smiled to him.

 

“And I was wrong about something else, Robin. About thinking I would never be happy again… Because it's false. With you, I'm happy, she confessed, bringing a bright smile on the man's lips. I love you Robin, she said, finally saying the words she wanted to say since days.

 

And he smiled to her.

 

- And I love you too Regina, he said, before kissing her for the first time.”

 

§§§§

 

The day after Rumplestiltskin freed Merlin, Regina came to see Maleficent.

 

She had heard that this one was now living in the caste of her former great enemy, Briar Rose, something which surprised the former Evil Queen.

 

But not as much as she was when she was told by Maleficent herself that she was in love with this same Briar Rose.

 

“But you hated her ! Regina objected.

 

- No, I didn’t. Well, I never hated her, hated her ! Maleficent protested. I hated Stephan – which is not the same thing – because of what he destroyed between us, and I wanted to make him pay ! And I did it through Briar Rose and Aurora.

 

- Which was not the best decision you ever took, Briar Rose said with irony.

 

- Indeed not, the witch admitted. But in the end, I realized it, at least, unlike other.

 

- You see, Regina said, you’re not the only one who found redemption. I did too.

 

- Yes, we know, Briar Rose answered, I do since a long time. What ? She said as she saw Regina’s surprised look. Did you really think that your identity was such a great secret ? Do you really think I would have left you, someone I don’t know, enter in my castle without knowing who you are and who you were ? I made sure you were harmless, in fact some other didn’t agree with letting you enter there, and I understand their… apprehension.”

 

Regina nodded, understanding.

 

“So… she said, trying to make the conversation go on another subject, one which interested her more, the two of you are again in a relationship, as it used to be, but after you weren’t with each other anymore. And… your daughter, she told Briar Rose, is now happily married with two people with who she fell deeply in love. Yes, it makes sense, she said, trying to proceed all these new information she was now receiving. Well, she added with a smile, I guess I prefer her being with the two people she really love than being with one person she feels nothing for. Even if I have to admit I am not concerned by this situation.”

 

Maleficent had a grin.

 

“I can just agree with this… Oh, she added then, if I am not wrong, there is one of your friends who lives in the castle, right now, since some days, as one of her guests. Her name is Belle, if I am not wrong.

 

- Why is she here ? Regina asked with curiosity.

 

- She wanted to see my daughter and my daughter/son-in-law, Briar Rose explained her. I think that she met them during queen Snow White’s and king David’s wedding. If you want it, I can make her come here, if you want to see her.

 

- I would like it your majesty, thanks.”

 

And the queen left the room, leaving them alone. Regina let a smile appear on her lips as she realized the reason why the queen left.

 

“She is quite… subtle. I guess she did it so we would be able to talk to each other alone, like in old good time, right ? Like… about our redemption.”

 

When Maleficent nodded her head, Regina understood she had been right.

 

“Tell me, the queen's lover asked her, how did you change your mind ? And why did you do it ?

 

Regina began to smile.

 

“It took time, you know. And I am not even sure it is really over… This rage, it's not in me anymore, but I have still a long way to take before my trip is finished. Rumplestiltskin helped me with it. I still have no idea of the reason why he changed, but yep, he did help me to see how wrong I was. He gave me back some memories I didn't know I lost. And I realized that my fight, my revenge didn't worth it. What about you ?

 

- As I told you, I never hated Aurora, or Philippe. I wanted to destroy Stephan, Aurora's father, for what he did to me. My story… is a long and complicated and painful one, and I am not sure I am ready to tell it to anyone.

 

Regina nodded.

 

- I understand. Does it mean that now, you're not a villain anymore ? She asked her friend with curiosity.

 

- Kind of, yes…. Now, I'm the protector of the kingdom, as I am a dragon, I am their greatest asset, and, as I heard you did, I am trying to fix my old past mistakes. What about you ?

 

- What do you mean ?

 

- Your life is not just defined by your former mistakes, and I wanted to know, Regina… Are you happy ?

 

When she saw a new light appear in the former queen's eyes, Maleficent had a large smile, understanding her friend was, indeed, happier than she ever was in the past.

 

- Yes Mal, I am. I succeeded to reconcile with Snow White, something I never thought I could do, not after what I did. But she forgave me. I freed/helped/cured the people I hurt in the past, I found a way to fix my mother's crimes, and I put her in prison too.

 

Maleficent started.

 

- Wait. You put Cora in prison ? Your own mother ? The one you should have hated when she killed your boyfriend, but that you let manipulate you ? You succeeded to free yourself from your influence, after so much time ?”

 

There was pride in her eyes.

 

“Yes. Yes, I did. But again, I was not alone. I met a lot of people who helped me becoming a better person. Rumplestiltskin was the first one, Belle, his wife, was another, as Tinkerbell, and also Robin Hood.”

 

When she heard that her friend's tone was changing as she was saying the last name, Maleficent had another smile of her lips.

 

There was a light, a new one, which was appearing in Regina's eyes, again, one that Maleficent never saw in her eyes, but that she saw sometimes in her own lover's eyes or in hers.

 

“And I guess this person has a special place in your life now.

 

A light blush appeared on Regina's cheeks and Maleficent's smile became larger.

 

- Just as Briar Rose does for you, she replied.

 

- You're in love with him, Maleficent affirmed. And Regina nodded.

 

- Yes. I love him, she confessed.”

 

§§§§

 

Belle had a smile on her lips when she received a message from her husband, telling her his job was now finished, and that he was coming home. He was asking her too in how many time she thought she would come back.

 

“Tell me Mulan, she asked her friend, how many time do you think I can stay here ?

 

During this moment, Aurora and Philippe were talking with Briar Rosa, who was telling them about Regina's presence.

 

The warrior shrugged.

 

“I don't know… I think you can stay as many time as you want.”

 

Then, the two other royals told Belle that Regina was here, waiting for her.

 

“Did she tell how many time she intended to remain here ?

 

- No, she didn't, Briar Rose said. But well, if she wants, she can stay as longer as you do.

 

- Well, in fact, I don't want to leave right now, but… yes, I think I will go back home tomorrow.

 

- If I am not wrong, the queen answered her, now, I think your friend and Maleficent had enough time to talk together. What if we joined them ?”

 

Belle nodded.

 

§§§§

 

Baelfire hated Neverland.

 

He hated this world, hated this island, hated the fact he couldn't leave this place.

 

He hated the Lost Boys, hated Peter Pan, hated the fact he was a prisoner.

 

He hated his life.

 

He hated being still trapped in the body of a fourteen years old kid, he hated being alone, he hated being purchased by the Lost Boys and the Lost One.

 

He hated Hook for abandoning him and for forcing him to go there, while he just wanted to leave, and just wanted to be free, and sometimes he just hated himself for what happened in the past between them.

 

He hated having regrets for what happened, hated the fact that sometimes he regretted not being on the Jolly Roger anymore, because these people were his family for the little time (four mouths, in fact) he was in this place.

 

He hated thinking about what could have been.

 

He hated the fact that there was still a part of him which was still hoping that the pirate's words weren't lies, which hoped he told him the truth.

 

He hated himself for hoping that, one day, the pirate would change, for him, as he promised.

 

He hated the desperation which was taking him any time he thought about escaping this bloody island, because any time he tried, he failed.

 

He would have been even more desperate, had he known he wouldn't leave this place before fourteen other years, at least.

 

§§§§

 

There was now a silence between the five people of the room, until someone began to speak.

 

“So, any other news to announce to us ? Belle asked, as if she already knew something Regina didn't. Regina saw Maleficent's face change a little, and she raised an eyebrow.

 

- Mal… do you have anything to tell me that I don't know ?”

 

In fact, everyone had now a great smile on their face, including Maleficent.

 

The witch looked at her friend, and took a deep breath.

 

Then, she put her hand on her belly, and Regina, understanding, opened wide her eyes.

 

“I'm pregnant, Maleficent finally announced.”

Chapter Text

Regina blinked with surprise, not being sure she heard it well.

 

“But how… how is it even possible ? She asked. I mean… you're in a relationship with Briar Rose, right ? A woman. I mean, I knew magical pregnancies were possible, but… I didn't know… I didn't know it could happen to you. Well, it doesn't matter, congratulations for the two of you !

 

- Thanks Regina…

 

- Do you know if it will be a boy or a girl ? The former queen demanded to the two women.

 

- A girl, Briar Rose answered.

 

- Do you have any idea of a name ?

 

- In fact, yes. We think we are going to call her Lily.”

 

§§§§

 

The day after this announce, an “incident” happened, kind of.

 

A man broke into Briar Rose's and Maleficent castle, trying to murder another man, claiming this one was the responsible of his fiancée's death.

 

The man's name was Edmond Dantès.

 

Regina became pale when she saw him.

 

She knew this man.

 

She met him some months ago, before she was defeated by Snow and David, before she redeemed herself.

 

She remembered talking with him, she remembered his hatred.

 

She remembered how angry and full of despair he could be, and at this moment, here, in this castle, she didn't hesitate any second before acting.

 

She came in his direction.

 

“Edmond ? What are you doing here ?”

 

The man gave her a cynical smile.

 

“What do you think I am doing, your majesty ? The same thing you tried to do before me : getting my revenge, of course !”

 

Regina gave him a look full of sympathy, before asking herself if she did look like him, when she was still full of anger, during her fight against Snow White.

 

But, she quickly realized, it was not about her, or about who she used to be, it was all about Edmond, and the fact he was going on the same way as her.

 

And she couldn't let him loose himself in darkness, as she herself did.

 

The other man was here too, screaming that Edmond was just insane, that he did nothing wrong, that nothing of it was true, but Regina knew it was not true.

 

And she felt the immediate urge to break his neck, here, right now, for all the sufferings he made live to Edmond, but she didn't.

 

She contained herself, but she did use her magic on him to knock him out, at the surprise of Belle and all the other.

 

“Regina ? What are you doing ? Why are you attacking him ?

 

- This man is a murderer, Regina explained to Maleficent with calm, I am certain of it. I can prove it. He killed a woman named Mercedes, this man's former fiancée, she said, pointing Edmond with her hand.”

 

The man in question, accused both by Regina and Edmond, was put into prison.

 

And after that, Regina came to see Edmond, who had been arrested too, but who was not in prison, as, in fact, he was the victim in the story.

 

“Why are you here Regina ? The man asked her. She smiled.

 

- You see Edmond, not a long time ago, I was at the same place as you are. I was just as you are now. Craving for revenge. Thinking I could mourn the person I lost just by trying to make the one who killed this person pay. Even if, in your case, you attacked the good culprit.

 

- He is the last one, the angry man muttered. Of the three of them, he is the last one of them, those who killed Mercedes, took everything from me, and put me into this horrible prison in which I stayed for fourteen damn years !”

 

Regina looked at the man sitting on the bed, in front of her. She folded her arms on her chest, and she gave him a sympathetic look.

 

And she raised an eyebrow, asking herself a question, wanting to know since how many time this story – the story of Edmond's revenge – was lasting.

 

“Tell me, Edmond, how old are you exactly ?

 

He grinned.

 

- I'm thirty-four years old, he whispered, and Regina started.

 

This man was clearly older than her, of course, but she would have thought, regarding to the way he looked, that he was much older than this, because yes, he was still really young.

 

Imprisonment clearly didn't spare him…

 

“You're that young ? She asked, surprised. Really ?

 

- Well, I was only eighteen when my fiancée died and when I was imprisoned, and it lasted for fourteen years. I began my quest for revenge two years ago.

 

- You were alone in prison for fourteen years ?

 

- No, I was not totally alone, I met a man when I was in the Château d'If. His name was Faria and he was an abbot. And the only friend I get for all these years, and I can even add that he may be the only real friend I ever had. He taught me a lot of things when we were imprisoned together. But he died. Just as Mercedes did. He had a sad and broken laugh. And now, they are both gone, and I am all alone, with my revenge being purchased, and… And now, I just have my anger and my hatred. Nothing else.

 

- It's false Edmond, you're not alone. I am here.”

 

Edmond looked up, and looked at the former queen. It's just at this moment that he realized how much she changed since the last time he saw her. There was not anymore this light of anger mixed with sadness, hatred and will of revenge that he always saw in his own look.

 

Now, she seemed… happy.

 

“What happened to you ? I mean…. Did you succeed to revenge yourself ? And did it bring you the happiness you thought it would ? He had a quick and ironic laugh. I personally don't think it will give me any happiness, even if my fiancee and myself are now avenged and that I can stop this, this terrible and long quest. And now, I have no idea of what I am going to do…

 

- You know Edmond, your life is not over. And to answer to your question, people helped me. They saved me from myself, and made me save myself from the darkness inside of me. Now, you're free to begin another life, now that your enemies are now all punished. You can try something you never did before.

 

- And what is it ?

 

She smiled.

 

- Now, Edmond, you can move on.”

 

§§§§

 

The man gave her a sad smile.

 

“How could I ? I spent the last sixteen years planning this revenge, and now, it's over. What could I do now ? Where could I go ?

 

- Aren't you a rich count now ?

 

He chuckled.

 

- Yes, I am. Does it change anything ? I mean… it's like I stopped living when they put me in prison, it's like my life stopped at this precise moment where I was separated from the one I loved. My fiancee, my father… They are all gone now. I lived for revenge during so many time that I am not sure I still know how to live a normal life.

 

- What if you come with me ? I have some friends of mine who could welcome you in their castle, if you wanted to. You wouldn't be alone, and there, maybe you would find something new to do. Some other people to meet. What do you think of it ?”

 

Edmond looked at the former queen.

 

“Alright. I accept.”

 

It would be much better than just staying on his palace, on his own, alone, and just remembering the old good days he had with his father, Mercedes or even Faria, when he was in jail.

 

§§§§

 

While Belle decided to come back at her own place, as she missed being in there, and missed being with Rumplestiltskin, Regina decided that she would go in Snow's and David's castle with Edmond, in order to make him meet them.

 

The young man had no one, and it would take time before he succeed to move on, but Regina was quite confident about it.

 

Being the fantastic people that they were, Snow and David immediately accepted the man's presence in their home, and it didn't take a lot of time for Edmond to adapt to this place and become great friend with the inhabitants of the castle.

 

Well, in fact, with one person in particular, named Charlotte.

 

When she realized how deeply Edmond was going to fall in love with the young servant, Regina realized she could let him here with no doubts.

 

He was going to be happy here.

 

§§§§

 

You may be asking yourself now where the hell Zelena was all this time. Or, maybe that you just don't care, but you just have to know that, after the wedding in which she went, she left Regina for a time, warning her that she was not going to be here during a long time.

 

There was someone she had to find again.

 

In fact, after she reconciled (in a way) with Regina, after she fix their former broken sister-sister relationship, she realized there was someone she lost since a long time and that she wanted to be with again.

 

Hades, the god of the Underworld, with who she fell in love in a time which seemed to be so far now.

 

That she met at a time where there was still so much anger and hatred in her heart.

 

But now, all of this was gone, and she asked herself, if, one day, they would be able to fix what had been broken between the two of them.

 

She still loved him, she was sure of this, but him… well, she had no clues about how he felt now.

 

After all, she rejected him.

 

What if he tried to find someone else who could make his heart beat again ?

 

What if he already did it ?

 

And by the way, would he ever be able to do as she did, that is to say, give up his revenge ?

 

She hoped so.

 

She was not used to hope but the thing is that, yes, be reunited with Regina after she lost her for so many time gave her the feeling that she could hope and think that things would get better, one day.

 

It was already the case, right ?

 

So, she came back to the place where they met, in Oz, using Jefferson's hat to do so.

 

She didn't miss this world, she realized.

 

In this world, people feared her, hated her, saw her as the Wicked Witch and they were bloody right.

 

In this world, she had a non-loving father, she had no friends, she was afraid of her own magic and she still had difficulties to control it, she didn't know why her mother abandoned her…

 

Everything was bad here.

 

The only thing which hadn't been terrible, well, it was her encounter and her relationship with Hades.

 

She get a smile when she thought about the man, hoping he would come here, at her side when she would call for him.

 

She missed him so much…

 

And she was going to do everything to get him back.

 

“Hades ? She asked with almost shyness, starting when she saw him immediately appear in front of her.

 

It looked like it worked like it did with the Dark One – former one – when you called for him, he must appear immediately. If the intention was to call for the god.

 

He offered her a surprised and also happy look.

 

“Zelena ? What are you doing here ? And why did you call for me ?

 

She just smiled, realizing that in fact, nothing really changed between them.

 

- I think we need to talk Hades.”

 

§§§§

 

And now, here they were. They had talked together, time had passed, weeks passed, they passed themselves time together, and learned to fix what was broken and which was once something between them, and which was now back.

 

After some weeks together in Oz, Zelena decided to come back in the Enchanted Forest, with Regina, and she decided to present Hades to her dear sister.

 

She had no idea that Regina intended to do the same thing with her.

 

The meeting was kind of… awkward.

 

Indeed, there was them, the four of them, together, that is to say : a wicked witch (former), an evil queen (former), an evil god (form… well, he was still evil, kind of) and an outlaw (but a good one, of course).

 

After this visit and first meeting, some many things really changed, in fact.

 

There was a lot of problems in the different kingdoms, after the war between the Charming, king George and Regina, and even if some of them had been already fixed, it was not the case for all of them, and now, thanks to their combined powers, Rumpelstiltskin, Hades, Zelena, Regina, the fairies and Merlin too (as there was also problems in Camelot) began to really fix a lot of things.

 

Months passed.

 

And just as Maleficent and Briar Rose, a lot of couple began to be waiting for a child. A lot of these one were royals, as Snow and David, Ella and Thomas, and Regina and Robin.

 

During the two following years, these one gave birth to different children : Lily, Emma, Alexandra and Roland were one of them.

 

In Camelot, Guinevere divorced from Arthur and married Lancelot, but the two royals continued ruling together, as Arthur regained with time his sanity, thanks to Merlin and to his ex-wife.

 

Thinks were good for everyone in all the kingdoms.

 

Well…

 

Almost.

 

§§§§

 

Elsa's hands were shaking.

 

She looked around her, and just saw ice.

 

And it was her fault.

 

Because she was not able to control her powers.

 

The young queen then took a deep breath, and she tried to calm herself.

 

After some seconds, she succeeded to make the ice around her disappear, and she started when she heard her sister call for her.

 

She froze, before answering her that she was fine.

 

Which was a lie, of course.

 

She may knew how to control her power, most of the time, but now, it was not the case.

 

She tried to calm her breath, and she left the room, joining her sister and his fiance.

 

She needed help, so much help.

 

She really needed help.

 

Right now.

 

§§§§

 

Red tried to smile.

 

Though it was not that easy for her.

 

It was hard, pretending that everything was okay for her, while it was not.

 

It was difficult, to accept the fact that Regina, the Evil Queen seemed to get no damages in her, seemed to suffer from nothing, despite what she lived, while Graham still had some.

 

She still didn't know how she could do this, not to let her anger against her devour her.

 

Maybe that it was because she cared more for the Huntsman's recovery than for her persecutor's destruction.

 

She remembered what happened after they all went in Regina's castle, she remembered how Graham was at that time, how broken he was.

 

And what hurt her the most, was the fact that he still was.

 

She remembered everything which happened after they left the castle.

 

It happened three days after Red gave Graham his heart back.

 

The two of them, just like a lot of those who came to Regina's castle, then went into Snow's and David's castle, where they now lived.

 

The Huntsman didn't sleep during the two first days, still trying to be again used to have a normal life. So, insomnia touched him too, and, for these two days, things were… fine. Kind of.

 

Well, they were not horrible, as it was later.

 

As insomnia took him, he rapidly got bored, and, still not okay with the fact of living in a castle and not being able to go outside (as it had been the exact same thing when he was still the queen's prisoner), during these nights, he went out, in the forest next to the palace.

 

Not knowing that he was observed by Red, who also wanted to go in the forest during the night.

 

But, during the third night… it began.

 

Graham, being as tired as he was (after two nights without sleeping, even if he was used to it, it was easy to understand that he was exhausted) finally fell asleep during the third night in question.

 

He knew he should not have done it, because, just after he did, he began having nightmares.

 

All of them of course being about the Queen, who took his heart back and crushed it, or used it to torture him.

 

He woke up abruptly, breathing heavily and rapidly, before he realized that, in fact, he couldn't breath anymore.

 

The Huntsman's eyes were full of fear and terror, and he spent all the night in this state, being frozen on his bed, still trying (and failing) to breath correctly.

 

He tried to hide how wrong he felt during all the day, but Red (who was here, unlike Belle) and Snow remarked that of course, he was not feeling well.

 

Occupied as she was, Snow White didn't have the time to take a great time to talk with her friend (well, in fact, she did, but he pretended everything was okay), so she asked Red if she could go and check him.

 

So, the night after the incident, the same thing happened, and, needing some air, the Huntsman left his room, followed by Red, worried for him, but, being still unable to breath, he quickly fell on the ground.

 

He put his legs under his chest, trying to breath more normally again.

 

He was trembling, and Red firstly hesitated to come next to him, knowing how traumatized Graham was by the bad experience he suffered from in Regina's castle.

 

And she was certain of this, she made him live too horrible things in there, it was what caused him this panic attack he was having, and her anger and her hatred against Regina just became stronger.

 

But, seeing how terrified and alone as he was, she felt her heart hurt her, and she knelt next to him.

 

Graham ? She told him, trying to be the most reassuring possible. It's me, Red. I'm here, if you need my help, okay ?

 

He nodded his head, still trembling.

 

Alright, alright. Do you want me to leave ?”

 

He turned his head, almost in a frenetic way, and she had a sad smile, because he really looked like a terrified child, and she hesitantly put a hand on his shoulder, trying not to frighten him, but his breath then calmed as she did.

 

Do you want to talk about it ?”

 

He again turned his head, and she put her arms around him, trying to put him into a comforting embrace. When his breath became less fast, and when he began to cry, she understood that yes, it was working, and she let a sigh of relief escape from her lips.

 

The crisis and the nightmares continued, and the only good thing that was brought from the situation, was that it allowed Red and Graham to be closer.

 

There was something between them since the moment where they met, the moment where Red was the one who put his heart back in his chest, but now, they had the possibility, not only to know each other, but also to help each other.

 

She was helping him with his crisis, he was helping her with her problems of self-acceptance.

 

Because yes, Graham was not the only one who was in trouble.

 

She was, too.

 

It was two or maybe three months after their first meeting.

 

It was during a sunny day, after a night where Graham had no nightmares or crisis, it was one of the rare nights where he hadn't, in fact, it was a calm one.

 

And they were talking together, as they usually did, except that this time, Belle and Snow weren't here.

 

Do you have any family ? Red asked him with curiosity.

 

- No, he answered. I mean, I never knew who my parents were, I was more or less raised by wolves, well, I lived with them the most part of my life, before… before the queen found me, he admitted.

 

His hand trembled, and Red put hers in his.

 

- What about you ? He asked. I mean, except your grand-mother, or your friends Snow and Belle… Who do you have in your life ? Friends… Parents… A fiance ?”

 

It was not a really subtle question, but Graham never really was a subtle man, and if his interest for her was real, the fact is that he didn't want to try anything, before knowing if she had already someone in her life or not.

 

But, when he saw her hands begin to tremble too, and when he saw tears form in her eyes, he realized he must have made a mistake.

 

Red… What is it ? Did I say something wrong ?”

 

She tried to smile, but failed.

 

Now, it's not your fault, you… you didn't know. It has something to do with my story, and with who I am. Graham, there is something I never told you, about me… Something many people know, but, since the war ended, I stopped using it against enemies, so, I just did it on my own, alone.

 

- What do you mean ?

 

- I turn into a wolf under the full moon, at every month… I do it since I am a teenager, but I always had my cloak on me which stopped me from doing this. Until… Until I did it one night, and things turned in a terrible, bad and tragic way. I turned into a wolf, and I ate Peter, my boyfriend. Then, me and Snow had to flee, and I found my mother, who learned me to control the wolf in me, and to accept this as a part of me. But I had to kill her, before she killed Snow White.”

 

Silence appeared between them, and Red wiped the tears which fell from her eyes.

 

You see, Graham answered, under the queen's control, I made a lot of things of which I am not proud of. Just as you did when you couldn't control the wolf in you. And by the way, Red, he said, and she looked at him, as he was smiling. I would love to see you under your wolf form.”

 

And Red felt like her heart was exploding, because since Snow and Belle, it really was the first time someone was accepting her as she was that easily.

 

She felt like she could have kissed him right now, but, remembering his bad experience with the queen, she didn't dare.

 

Thanks Graham. Thank you, very much.”

 

It was at this moment that she realized that she loved him.

 

Time passed, they became even more close, they confessed their feelings to each other, began a relationship, but…

 

But it didn't make it easier, because it was still hard for Graham to really do it, to learn to trust other people.

 

Their relationship began since some months, and yes, the former Huntsman was healing, but he still suffered from what happened to him, and it still hurt Red to see she could nothing for him.

 

He needed help.

 

That was the reason why she was here, ready to go to see Jiminy Cricket, the one who was so good to talk with people.

 

When she saw Gepetto and Pinocchio (who, as she heard it, turned into a real boy not a long time ago) who were here, she smiled to them, and she talked to them a little too, before she saw Jiminy come just there.

 

“Oh, Red, why are you here ?

 

- I need your help Jiminy. You heard of Graham, right ?

 

- Yes, of course, the former Huntsman of the queen.

 

- I want you to talk to him, if you can. I really think he needs to talk to someone like you, someone who could help him move on. I already tried almost everything, and yes, he is getting better, but… It is still not enough, and I can't handle this, to see him being still traumatized, and I just can't do anything for him… please, help him !”

 

The cricket nodded his head.

 

“Oh, don't worry Red, of course, I am going to help you and help him.”

 

She sighed with relief.

 

“Thanks Jiminy, she said, smiling.”

Chapter Text

Author's note : Not really canon compliant with S4.

 

When Rumplestiltskin found the urn, it happened by accident.

 

It was an object he never really paid attention to, and that he found in his castle one day, after he came back to this one.

 

Belle was at this moment in another part of the castle, more precisely in the library, where she was reading a book.

 

And Rumplestiltskin was, well… looking at some magical objects presents in his castle.

 

When the urn fell on the ground, opening itself, and producing a great noise in the process, the Sorcerer certainly didn't expect what was going to happen.

 

Something got out of it, something which first looked like melted ice, but which appeared to turn into a woman.

 

A feared and panicked woman, that Rumplestiltskin goodly knew, at a time.

 

Ingrid of Arendelle.

 

The Sorcerer frowned. In a way, she really was like the person she was when he met her, she seemed to be the same scared young woman. Afraid of herself, afraid of what she could do to the other.

 

Except that she was an adult now.

 

There was fear in her eyes, and her hands were trembling. And then, she saw him.

 

“What… what are you doing here ? She asked him, disoriented. And where am I ?

 

- Dearie, you're in my castle… And I have, personally, no idea of the reason why you're here.”

 

When he saw ice appear on her hands, he frowned. So, she never succeeded to control her powers, right ?

 

“Try to calm yourself Ingrid, please, or you're going to freeze all the room.”

 

The princess took a deep breath, trying to do it, and, as it didn't work, she put back her gloves on her hands, as these one were apparently in her pocket, and she looked at them with disgust.

 

Her hands were still trembling, as her legs, and Rumplestiltskin showed her a seat on which she could sit down.

 

“What happened to you Ingrid ? He asked her.

 

- Helga, my sister. I froze her, I turned her into ice by accident. I killed her ! I didn't want it, but it happened. And Gerda, she… she refused to listen to me ! She locked me in this urn, because she thought I was a monster ! She promised me she would never be afraid of me or of my powers, she whispered sadly.”

 

There were tears in her eyes, and Rumplestiltskin get closer to her, taking one of her hands in his, taking the glove too, not caring about the ice present on her frozen hand.

 

“I'm sorry for your loss, he said. I perfectly know what it is, to be badly seen or hated for your powers, for who you are.

 

- Why would you care ? When my sisters and I, we came, all these years ago, asking for your help, you made this deal with us. You took something precious from us, you helped us just because it served your own interest. How would it be different now ?”

 

He sighed and, with just a click of the fingers, he made appear in his hands the ribbons that he took from them.

 

“I guess these one are yours ? He asked her in a rhetorical way.”

 

Her eyes shined, and she took them immediately.

 

“You kept them ?

 

- I told you. These things can get a great power. I give you back what is yours, princess.”

 

Ingrid looked at them with a sad smile.

 

“And now, what used to be is not anymore. Helga is gone, and I have no idea of what happened to Gerda. Then she looked at him, and realized how different he was. What happened to you ?”

 

He explained her, while her grip was still firm on her ribbons.

 

“Tell me, she asked him, do you think I could do it ? Control myself. Control my power. Or that I will always be this monster they see in me ?

 

- You're not a monster, Ingrid. I was. You just… made a mistake. You killed your sister, yes, it's true, but it never was on purpose. I will tell you what it is, to be a real monster. I killed my first wife, and then, a lot of years later, I killed my wife's former fiance. The first one, because she left me, and abandoned our son, a thing I did too. The second, because he wanted to save his fiancee from me, the Beast. And yes, I changed, I gave up my dark magic, I gave up my darkness, but you can trust me, princess, nothing in you is monstrous.”

 

The princess outlined a weak smile.

 

“Tell me, he asked her, would you accept me to help you control your powers ? I could teach you magic, and train you, if you want me to. I mean, I know that the ice magic is not really my area of expertise, but maybe that I can help. And by the way, if you stay here, in this realm, you can meet other people like you, who have magic, like fairies, witches, sorcerers…. For example, I have one of my friends who is a former bad witch. Well, she is not the best example to follow, but she is quite powerful, and she could help you too.”

 

And then, something new appeared in the witch's eyes.

 

Hope.

 

“That would be great, she answered.”

 

§§§§

 

When Rumplestiltskin entered into the castle, and after he talked with Regina about the princess of Arendelle (or former princess ? Well, in fact, he didn't really know), he came to see the king and the queen, who were right now with their daughter : the actual princess of the kingdom.

 

The Sorcerer couldn't help but smile.

 

So, here she was.

 

The little princess.

 

He hadn't been there during her presentation to the people, commoners, royals and others friends. But he already knew her, well, a version of her, a version which would never happen or exist in this world.

 

“Tell me, he asked Snow White, what's her name ?”

 

And the queen smiled to him, immediately, while the king was holding the child in his arms.

 

“Emma, she answered. Her name is Emma.”

 

It looked like there was kind of an echo for him, as if he was repeating a scene he already lived before.

 

Except that this time, things would be different, there would be no curse to destroy everything, nothing and no one would ruin the child's life, not even him.

 

Especially not him.

 

The two royals let him take her in his arms, and he smiled again.

 

She was Emma, the princess, the Savior, or she was supposed to be. The thing was that she was just a child, and he almost felt the same thing he felt the first time he took his own son in his arms, which made him again feel the lack of him, in a more stronger way than before.

 

He remembered the hurt woman he met before Henry rewrote the story, and he realized that he was going to protect this child, so she would never become this kind of person, the one who never was raised by her parents, the one who got a life of loneliness because of him.

 

After all, yes, he did owe her that.

 

“Hello princess, he whispered.”

 

§§§§

 

Graham woke up violently. His breath became faster, and, after this one became again slow, he sighed.

 

Again.

 

It happened a new time.

 

Another nightmare.

 

It was not like he was not used to it, because yes, after all the things which happened to him, he clearly was, but… he was completely fed up of having these one.

 

The thing was that he was trying to deal with this, with the help of Red, the help of Jiminy Cricket, the help of Belle too, as Snow White's, but he still couldn't do it.

 

He couldn't do as if nothing happened, and, in fact, he succeeded to talk about it, but it didn't make what he lived less horrible.

 

Jiminy asked him to have a discussion with Regina, the Evil Queen, and to know that she was changing didn't change how much he hated her.

 

He had to tell her how he felt about this, he had to deal with the pain she inflicted to him, and the better way to do it, was by having a conversation with her.

 

And the discussion in question… didn't go well.

 

And it was predictable, and logical.

 

The queen had remorse, it was true, and the Huntsman couldn't deny her that she was truly changing, that she was becoming a better woman.

 

She stopped their “relationship” (No. It couldn't be called this way. It never was a relationship. It was just a woman abusing a man, torturing him the way she had been tortured, just in order to feel better, just to be sure that she did have the power, at least, on someone. Even it was just a Huntsman) by herself, understanding how far she went.

 

But yes… she did use him, as if he was no one, as if he had no right, as if he was nothing.

 

And without his heart, he had been nothing, for years !

 

He couldn't forgive her, at least, not now, even if he had been freed from her castle some months ago, even if his growing relationship with Red was helping him, as his friendship with Belle, Snow and Jiminy.

 

But it was still not enough.

 

He shouted at her, telling her everything he had not been able to tell her when he was still her prisoner, her “pet”, as she called him, and just to think about it risked to make him feel sick.

 

He shivered.

 

She apologized, yes, of course, as she did with all the people she hurt in the past (well, the one who were still alive…) but for him, it had not been enough.

 

It was not her, who couldn't sleep because he had nightmares of being tortured, used, abused, with no possibility to flee, he told her.

 

Of course I know what it is , she answered. I lived it too, with my husband, Leopold. He did to me what I did to you.

 

Well, that's better, then ! He said with irony. You made me suffer what the other exactly made you endure, what a good woman you are !

 

I never pretended I was !

 

You accused a ten years old little girl for being responsible of your unhappiness, while you were the one who half provoked it. You showed yourself then as the victim, you said she ruined your life, while your mother was the one who did this.

 

I… I know I was wrong, but…

 

You're the one who destroyed my life, your majesty. You're the one who turned it into a true horror. Don't deny it .

 

After this, he told her he never wanted to see her again, something to which she completely agreed.

 

And even if he was feeling better, after his “discussion” with his former persecutor, well, it didn't really change anything for him.

 

He was still having nightmares, panic attack… Just as during this night. Even if the panic s attack s were less and less present in his life, it was not the case for the nightmares.

 

This night, he “dreamed” that she was taking his heart, again, that she was crushing it too, not completely, so she would not kill him, but just enough to make him feel a terrible pain.

 

She played with him, a long time, before getting bored.

 

A nd then, she ordered him to kill Red. It was not the first time in this kind of “dream” that he heard her order him to kill someone, but the other time, it was Snow White, or Belle, or someone else.

 

It was the first time he had a nightmare about the death of the woman he loved.

 

He could still see the scene, him, his heart in the hands of the terrible queen, with an expression of complete detachment on his face, as if he didn't care, whereas it was certainly not the case.

 

A nd at the opposite, there was her, his lover, the woman he was deeply in love with, the woman he had a relationship with, who was just there, in front of him, with an air of horror and supplication on her face, as she was all tied up on a stake. Graham being ready a t this moment to execute her by shooting an arrow directly into her heart.

 

He woke up just after hearing her scream with pain.

 

Until he realized that, in fact, it had been him who was screaming.

 

It was the reason why he was here, on his bed, all alone (as him and Red didn't sleep together. Not yet), trying to deal with things he should not have to deal with at first .

 

But at least, he could still breath.

 

But he was desperately trembling . Because he was not afraid for him, but for someone else.

 

For Red, and even if it was futile (well, he did the same thing with Belle and Snow after his nightmares about them . But at this moment, he waited the morning to do so.), he had to see her, right now. To be sure that she was fine, that she was safe, that the queen – or anyone else dangerous – didn't come back just to put his life into pieces again.

 

He just wanted to be sure that he still had a reason to feel okay.

 

§§§§

 

She couldn't sleep. She had tried, of course, she had really tried, but the fact that Graham was still not going well didn't help her to feel really good.

 

So, Red was ready to get another night of insomnia, as it happened frequently to her now, when she saw the door of the room abruptly open, and the Huntsman then just entered.

 

“Graham ? She asked him, standing up and going right in his direction, looking at him with concern. Are you okay ?”

 

The man had an expression mixed with fear and relief, and when he took her in his arms, she started, surprised.

 

It was not something he usually did, with people in general, or with her – except during their first meeting, when he got his heart back – so she both appreciated and didn't understand the gesture.

 

“Graham ? She asked again.

 

- You're safe, he whispered. I'm sorry, it may appear absurd, but… I just got a nightmare about you, which didn't end well, and I wanted to be sure you were okay.

 

- Well… I am, she answered, kind of surprised.”

 

There was something kind of awkward in this situation. It was the first time they found each other being in the same room, and well, alone together too. And Red began to feel troubled about it, because she was not used to it.

 

She never initiated anything with Graham, except some kisses, because of what he lived before, and she didn't know really how to do this, how to… change the actual status quo.

 

Except that now, Graham was with her, in her room, in her arms, and it was beginning to give her some ideas, and she knew that if Graham didn't let her go right now, well… she was not sure if she could stop herself.

 

But, it was as if this nightmare he had changed something in the Huntsman, as if it unblocked something in him, and when he looked at her, he just smiled, before kissing her.

 

“I love you Red, he whispered, and the wolf smiled too.

 

- And I love you too, she answered him.”

 

It was the first night they had together, and it was also the first one since a long time where Graham had no nightmares during the night, and where he really slept peacefully.

 

§§§§

 

When Anna entered in her sister's room without knocking at the door, she perfectly knew what she was going to find in this one.

 

It was during the afternoon, and, just as Anna predicted it, Elsa was here, after she lost again the control of her powers. Well, nothing really dangerous, and Anna was the only one with Kristoff who noticed it, but… none of them could deny the fact that it happened.

 

The queen was there, sitting on the ground, and Anna had a sight of relief when she realized that her sister's hands were not frozen.

 

She knelt in front of her, just in order to be to her height, and she took her hands.

 

“Anna, you should not do this, the queen told her, I could…

 

- You could do what ? Freeze me again ? Since it didn't end that bad the last time, I guess I don't have to be too afraid, the princess told her with a smile. When she saw her sister's serious look, her smile faded. Well, I guess this attempt at humor was not really great, what I mean is that, I have faith in you Elsa. You can do it, you can control your power. But not on your own.

 

- What could I do then ? Anna, I am the queen, I can't just flee when the situation becomes too complicated. I know I already did it in the past, but now, I am supposed to be able to have the control on my magic, but I just don't !

 

- You need to go somewhere where there is magic, and people who could do what no one there was able to do. Teach you how to control your magic. I heard by Kristoff something about a land called Misthaven, where there are some people who could help you to do this. More particularly, there is there a man called the Sorcerer, who, I am sure, would accept to help you, if you asked for help.

 

- But Anna, I already told you, I can't leave the kingdom !

 

- Of course you can ! We just have to ask the regent who ruled the kingdom to come back while we are not here ! After all, he did a good job during the time he was here, before you became queen.”

 

Elsa nodded her head, before frowning.

 

“Wait… what do you mean by “we” ? Don't you have a wedding to prepare ?”

 

Anna just shrugged.

 

“Kristoff will understand. And by the way, he knows that I do it for you and for the kingdom. Because I do want to have my wedding as soon as possible, but… I would prefer it to be without frozen things which are not ice, if you don't mind.”

 

Elsa smiled and chuckled.

 

“I know what you mean. But, are you sure it's a good idea if we both go there ? I mean, we are both the queen and the princess of Arendelle. What if something goes wrong ?

 

- Well, that won't be a problem, if someone attacks us, you will protect me. And I know how to defend myself too, don't worry, things will be alright.”

 

Elsa had another smile, and she had a sigh of false annoyance, knowing her sister too well.

 

Knowing that yes, she was not going to give up until her sister accepted her plan.

 

Then, she nodded.

 

“Alright, alright. So, tell me, what is this Sorcerer's name ?

 

- Rumplestiltskin.”

 

§§§§

 

The travel was not really that long, and the two royals arrived in Misthaven some days after they left Arendelle.

 

As the two women were walking into the direction of Rumplestiltskin's castle, they were also talking.

 

“And by the way, Elsa, there is something we really need to talk about.

 

- What ? What is it ?

 

- You, the princess answered. You, and the fact that you're alone.”

 

The queen rolled her eyes.

 

“No Anna, no, you're not doing this again…

 

- And you're not escaping this conversation again, okay ? Now, we are alone, you've got the control on your power (well, right now, at least), so we can talk seriously.

 

- What do you want from me sis ? To find and marry some guy I don't know, coming from this world where we know no one ? Just like you…

 

- Just like I did with Hans ? Yes, I admit it, it was pretty stupid… Elsa, I don't want you to find especially someone, even if the regent would tell you that you're supposed to do it, and to give an heir to the throne after that…

 

- I can adopt, Elsa replied immediately. Or you or one of your future children can take my place as the ruler of Arendelle after I die.

 

- And in fact, you being with someone is not what I mean. I have heard of someone named Queen Merida, who rules her kingdom by herself, so it means it's possible. What I mean, Elsa, is that you're alone.

 

- No, I'm not !

 

- Yes, you are ! Elsa, you have allies, relatives, but you've got no friends. You have me, and Kristoff, and that's all ! I am your sister, and Kristoff is your future brother-in-law. I'm not sure you can count us as your friends...”

 

The witch looked at her sister, and sighed.

 

“And then what ?

 

- Elsa, you were isolated from me, from people, from everyone for years, because of your powers, because of who you are. But now, you can control them, you can be more… sociable, if you want to be. Meet people, have friends… Elsa, I just don't want you to be completely alone.

 

Elsa smiled.

 

- Thanks Anna. Thank you.”

 

§§§§

 

Marian was on her way to Rumplestiltskin's and Belle's house, intending to see her friend. Her purpose was also to see and meet the famous witch Belle told her about : Ingrid of Arendelle.

 

And she was thinking about things.

 

About one in particular.

 

She was alone.

 

She had the Merry Men with her, in her life, she had Robin, she had Regina (kind of), she had Belle…

 

Marian had a lot of people, friends, but she had no one in her life.

 

The young woman was at this moment taken from her thoughts when someone abruptly went into her, and she almost fell on the ground, hit by someone she didn't see.

 

“Oh, I'm sorry ! A feminine voice then said. I'm afraid I was not looking where I was going. I'm so sorry.”

 

She has got a pretty voice , Marian thought absently, still not seeing the woman who was talking to her.

 

S till a little disoriented, Marian took the hand which was given to her, and she tried to find some stability, squeezing the other woman's hand.

 

It's nothing, she answered her.”

 

And then, she saw her.

 

A woman with blond hair, blue eyes, and a magnificent smile of apologize.

 

Couldn't helping herself, she took her hand away, as if she had been burned.

 

Her heart began to beat faster, and she didn't understand why. If Elsa noticed her gesture, she didn't show it.

 

Thanks, she told her, looking at the unknown woman. I'm Marian, she said, giving her her hand.

 

Elsa took her hand and gave her another bright smile.

 

“I'm Elsa, the queen answered, and again, I'm sorry, I almost made you fall, I…

 

- Don't worry… Really, it's nothing.”

 

Their hands were still linked together, something none of them noticed, except Anna.

 

§§§§

 

Talking together, the two women figured out that they were going in the same direction, and decided to end their trip together.

 

When Anna got some time with Elsa, she said :

 

“Well… that was awkward.

 

- What ?

 

- This… encounter. You and her, it really looked like you were just two in the world. She didn't pay any attention to me… not that I will complain about it, but Elsa, you have to admit that it was strange.

 

- How ?

 

- Elsa, I know you, it's the first time I see you act this way with someone.

 

- Anna, I am always uncomfortable with people I don't know.

 

- No ! Well, not this way. I think I saw you interact with a lot of people, get a lot of diplomatic visits, and when it was someone you didn't know well (at is always was), you were polite but kind of cold, at least, at the beginning. There, you were just… disturbed. I don't how to call it, but this woman… she had an effect on you.”

 

Before Elsa had time to answer, Marian came back, telling them that the Sorcerer was now aware of their arrival, and the queen just had the time to tell Anna :

 

“This is nothing, okay ? Just a normal encounter.

 

Anna snorted.

 

- Yeah… I already saw you being more convincing.”

 

Chapter Text

Rumplestiltskin and Belle frowned a little when they heard Anna's and Elsa's story. These women could just be related to Ingrid, the “Snow Queen” (even if she was just a princess), as people were beginning to call her.

 

The princess in question was here since six or seven weeks, and had now, thanks to Rumplestiltskin, Regina, Zelena and the fairies, an almost perfect control of her ice power.

 

“So… If you're Gerda's daughters, then, you must be Ingrid's nieces, Belle deduced.”

 

The two woman frowned with surprise.

 

“Excuse me, but… who ? Elsa asked with confusion. Who are you talking about ?

 

- Princess Ingrid, your aunt.

 

- I'm sorry, Anna answered, but I don't know what you mean. I never heard of this person.”

 

Rumplestiltskin sighed, already knowing the reason why, as he read it in the book which was given to him, a thing he already explained to Ingrid, who had time to assimilate it, even if she was still choked that her own sister decided to erase her existence from the memory of the inhabitants of Arendelle.

 

And he explained this to the two young women, who first showed horror, and then joy and excitement.

 

“We have an aunt ? Anna demanded.

 

- And she is just like me ? Elsa added.”

 

Belle looked at her trembling hands, at the ice on them, and she smiled to the queen.

 

“Elsa, in this kingdom, there are a lot of people who are just like you.”

 

The relief in the eyes of the witch just made her smile even more.

 

“Really ? She asked her with uncertainty.

 

Belle nodded her head.

 

- Yes, your majesty, really.”

 

When Ingrid appeared, and came to take Elsa in her arms, at first, the queen flinched in recoil, with fear, and it was the first time Ingrid had to face someone, who was not afraid of her, but afraid of herself.

 

Which was not Ingrid's case anymore, now, she knew how to control her powers, and she knew that she was not alone.

 

The witch gave a smile full of confidence to the other witch.

 

And she just embraced her, not caring about the ice, not caring about the potential danger.

 

“You don't have to be afraid. What you have in you is a blessing, not a curse. And I am sure that you will be able to use it wisely Elsa, Ingrid said, repeating the words that Zelena told her. After all, the former wicked witch knew what it was, to be hated for what you were.”

 

And Elsa began to cry. It was the first time someone was telling these words.

 

It was the first time she felt completely accepted.

 

“Thanks aunt Ingrid, she whispered.”

 

Ingrid then invited Anna in the embrace, and at this moment, finally, they were a family again, for the first time.

 

Rumplestiltskin looked at them, remembered the other version of the story, Arendelle frozen forever, and he smiled.

 

Then, him, Belle and Marian decided to let them alone.

 

After all, it was the first time they met.

 

They all needed time and space to adjust to the new situation.

 

§§§§

 

Time and days passed, the two sisters learned to know and appreciate their aunt, Elsa learned not be feared anymore of her magic, she learned to control her power.

 

She learned to love herself.

 

Three other weeks after their arrival (Anna and Elsa, just as Ingrid herself, were living in the castle where Rumplestiltskin and Belle lived, as this one was big enough to welcome them. And of course, the owners of the place were both happy to let them live in there), as Elsa had a better control on her power than she ever had, Marian came to the castle for the fifth time after she met Elsa.

 

And this time, it was certainly not to see Belle.

 

Marian felt troubled the second she saw Elsa, even before she saw her, in fact, when she heard her voice.

 

The first time she saw her do magic was during the day where she met her, and she had been fascinated.

 

Not just because it was a form of magic she never saw before (even if it was the case, as Ingrid and Elsa were the only people she knew who could practice this kind of magic), but because it had nothing to do with the way Regina (the only witch she really knew) practiced magic.

 

Regina had a control, a confidence, a self assurance that Elsa didn't have.

 

Elsa had an innocence that Regina lost a long time ago, she never really knew what to do with her magic, it was the reason why she was so afraid of herself in the past.

 

Her magic was strange, unpredictable, dangerous.

 

But also terribly beautiful, when it was controlled.

 

Elsa could make things with ice, and any time she saw her practice magic, Marian couldn't help but be amazed.

 

Because of her power itself, but also because of the look of Elsa, who was more and more accepting herself, and her look on what she could do was not anymore afraid. First, it had been surprised, and then, joyous, and finally, amazed.

 

When she was practicing magic with Ingrid, Marian couldn't help but look at her, at her face, because it looked like Elsa was fascinated with her own capacities.

 

And Marian was fascinated as well.

 

A thing which was clearly, clearly visible…

 

She was falling for the young queen, and she still hadn't determined if it was a problem or not.

 

§§§§

 

Elsa had no idea of what she was feeling right now.

 

The excitation she was feeling since some days, she first thought it was because of the fact that she was learning to know better her aunt, or herself, to know how her own magic worked.

 

Except that it was not the case.

 

It was Marian, who was bringing all these changes in her.

 

Marian, with her bright smile, her laugh, her jokes and the way she made her laugh, her beauty, and her kindness.

 

Marian, who never saw her as a monster, who always saw her magic as a beautiful thing, despite the fact that she had not magic herself, she always understood her, just like Ingrid did.

 

Marian, who was making her feel things she never thought she would ever feel for someone, things she never thought she would allow herself to feel.

 

Don't feel, don't let them know, her parents told her.

 

So did she.

 

She pulled a wall between her and her sister, for years, she tried to hid herself, hid her feelings, hid her powers, hid everything which made her who she was.

 

And even if thanks to Anna, to Kristoff, to Ingrid, it was easier for her now to be herself, well… the fact is that it was not that easy.

 

Because of the fact that she stopped being herself for years, well, she had no idea of who she really was.

 

She was Elsa, she was Anna's sister and Kristoff's sister-in-law, and Ingrid's niece. She was a queen, she was a witch, she had ice powers.

 

It was who she was, but not only, and there were so many things in her which were never able to appear in front of the other.

 

Her magic, yes, but not only.

 

Her personality, who she really was, who she used to be, that is to say, a child full of life who loved her sister and her parents more than anything.

 

This girl disappeared the day she hurt her sister by accident.

 

The innocent and naive young girl that she was then died this day, and it became even worst when her parents were suddenly gone, when they died.

 

She became sharp, cold, toward everyone but her sister (and even with this one, it hadn't been always easy), and now, well…

 

With Marian, she had the impression that she could become this happy girl again.

 

Being alone every time doesn't help you to make friends, and on this part, Anna was completely alright. It doesn't help you too to know who you are, to understand what kind of person you really are, it doesn't help to get relationships.

 

Before she met Marian, Elsa never knew she was attracted to women.

 

She was always away from anyone, afraid first that if she became friend with someone, or more intimate, this person would discover her secret. She was afraid of being rejected, so, she preferred to avoid contact, even with her own sister. Then, after she showed her powers to everyone, she was afraid to loose control on her power.

 

But now, this fear was gone, and Elsa was looking at Marian, anytime she could, and she was beginning what Anna told her about how it felt to be in love, for real.

 

§§§§

 

“Marian, you're okay ? Robin asked her, after the young woman came back to the Merry Men camp. You seem to be… I don't know, kind of strange… awkward… It looks like you're not really here.”

 

And she looked at her friend, smiling in an almost absent and pensive way.

 

Four months passed since their encounter, and Marian was more and more liking Elsa… Maybe too much to just consider her as a friend.

 

And it was a thing she had to admit, and who was better than her best friend to help her figure things out ?

 

“Robin, I think I'm in love.”

 

His friend started, surprised by the new, before a great smile appeared on his face.

 

“Oh, really ? With who ?

 

- Someone you don't know. Her name is Elsa, she is the queen of Arendelle.”

 

He frowned.

 

“Arendelle ? The frozen kingdom ? The kingdom whose queen has ice powers ?

 

- This one.

 

- And… what are you going to do ? Begin a relationship with her ? Go with her to Arendelle ?

 

- I don't know Robin, I have no idea of what to do now… I still didn't tell her.”

 

Seeing his friend's worried look, the outlaw took her hands, and squeezed them, giving her a confident smile.

 

“Then, you should. And if you want to go with her and leave the Merry Men, Marian, I won't stop you. Because all I want is your happiness, and you deserve this.”

 

She smiled.

 

“Thanks Robin.”

 

She didn't tell him that Elsa was supposed to go back to Arendelle the day after.

 

§§§§

 

“Elsa, you clearly want to stay !

 

- Of course ! Here, I found people like me, with powers, I found friends like Belle, Snow and David, so yes, I would like to stay in this realm. But Anna, I already told you, I am a queen, and I must rule my kingdom. We are gone since already four months, and even if we do send letters to Arendelle, the regent, and Kristoff, it doesn't mean I can stay here forever.

 

- This is not what I mean Elsa… I was talking about Marian.”

 

Elsa blushed immediately, thinking about the woman she finally admitted that she loved.

 

“I don't know what you're talking about, sis, she denied”

 

Anna raised a skeptical eyebrow.

 

“Your love for Marian, of course ! Don't tell me this is not true.

 

- I… She is my friend, that's all ! Protested Elsa, trying to be the most convincing possible. And according to her sister's look, it clearly didn't work.

 

- Yes… But you would want her to be more, right ? Elsa… Do you remember our conversation ?”

 

The queen sighed. Of course she did.

 

Three weeks before.

 

Elsa, tell me… Do you intend to marry someone one day ? Not for political reason, but… is there anyone in the people we know that you would want to marry ? For love, I mean.

 

- Well… No Anna, I don't think so, the queen answered, not wanting to talk about her not-so-really-and-maybe-more-than-just-that- crush on Marian.”

 

After that, her sister gave her some names of men she may wanted to be with, and, as her sister said no any time, Anna began to understand why she had been wrong. And she smiled when she saw her sister blush when she abruptly gave a woman name through all the other.

 

Elsa, she asked her sister, are you… are you attracted to women ?”

 

Silence settled between them, until Elsa admitted :

 

Yes… Yes, I am.”

 

And her sister just smiled to her.

 

Alright… Then, I guess the wedding will be a little different, but also really passionate to organize, just like mine will be.

 

- Anna ! There will be no wedding !

 

- Or you say so… She said with a smirk, remembering how her sister looked at Marian, and how this one looked at her in return. Remember our cousin, after all, she married a woman.”

 

Elsa smiled and felt a warmth in her heart, realizing how much understanding and accepting her sister could be.

 

Shut up, she said while laughing. Because, anyway, there will be no wedding.

 

- We will see that...”

 

Present day.

 

“This was not an innocent question. I already noticed the way you looked at Marian. This is how I myself look at Kristoff. You're in love with her, Anna affirmed.

 

- Yes. Maybe I am.

 

- Of course you are !

 

- Anna, we are coming home tomorrow, and I am not going to see her again. So, please, don't make this be harder than it already is !

 

- Then, ask her to come with you.

 

- Anna, I just can't. I just can't ask her to come with me and leave everything she knows for a woman she met just four months ago. I can't ask her to do something I know that I wouldn't do if she asked me to. Because I can't leave Arendelle, I can't let everything behind, and I know that she can't too. I don't have the right to ask her to sacrifice her life here, just to follow me in a place she knows nothing about.”

 

Anna just smiled.

 

“You really love her, Elsa, don't you ?”

 

You have no idea, the queen thought.

 

§§§§

 

“Anna told me about you and Marian.

 

- Since how many time does Anna talk to you about my sentimental life, aunt Ingrid ? Well, I shouldn't say sentimental life, I should just say crush. By the way, there is nothing to say about it.

 

- Well, the princess answered her, I may be not the best person to talk about it, as I have no experience in this kind of things, but well, according to what she told me, this is more than just a crush.”

 

Elsa frowned.

 

“What do you mean by no experience ? You were never in a relationship with someone ?

 

Ingrid just shrugged.

 

“No. I never was interested in this sort of things. Before, in Arendelle, I thought that I was just afraid by people, afraid by what they could do to me if they discovered the truth, who I really was. But I realized, here, in the Enchanted Forest, that I just didn't want to have any romantic relationship. This is just… not my thing. But we are not here to talk about me. What about your feelings for Marian ?”

 

The queen smiled.

 

“She makes me laugh, like Anna, or Kristoff, but when I look at her, I feel something different for her than I do for them. She is… her. It is the first time I feel something that powerful for anyone. I mean… I had some crushes when I was younger, but this… it's stronger than any of them. I love her Ingrid.

 

- Do you want her to follow you back home ?

 

- Yes ! But… this is so new, and I still don't know what she feels for me, and as I told Anna, I can't ask her to do that for me, that would be unfair to ask her to choose between me and her home.

 

- Then, send her letters, when we are back to Arendelle. Begin a correspondence with her, and you will see if your relationship continues to be as strong as she is now.

 

- Thanks for your advice aunt Ingrid.”

 

§§§§

 

It was terribly hard to say goodbye. Oh, of course, on both sides, there were promises that they would visit each other (because yeah, Elsa didn't only say goodbye to Marian), which was, indeed a diplomatic victory (as the people in question were royals, as Snow and David).

 

But when Elsa said goodbye to Marian, and it was the last one to who she said this, she asked her to write and send her letters frequently, a thing the young outlaw immediately accepted to do.

 

Marian didn't tell this to Elsa, but she was relieved to know that she was not going to loose her, as she thought she would.

 

Some days later.

 

Elsa,

 

I don't know if you're already back to Arendelle (in fact, I have no idea of how many time the travel to Arendelle lasts), and I don't know in how many time you will receive this letter. But I wanted to write to you, just to tell you that I miss you, even if you're not here just since a little time.

 

Tell me, how many time do you think you will stay in Arendelle ? I know you were gone from your kingdom for four entire months, but I just wanted to know if you wanted to go back to the Enchanted Forest soon, for a diplomatic visit, for example.

 

If it is the case, just tell me. I hope things are good for you in Arendelle. The little Roland, Robin's and Regina's son, that you saw some times, is growing up just as my love for you*, and he is really a cute child. For us, everything is right and good, except that I miss you too much, I wish you never left, I love you Elsa.

 

I'm sorry I don't have anything to tell you, but nothing really important or interesting happened these last times. In fact, for me, now that you're gone, nothing is interesting anymore.

 

Please don't forget me. Please, write me as frequently as you can. I know you're a queen, and that you're going to be really busy when you're back to Arendelle, but I don't want you to forget me I really want our friendship not to disappear.

 

Your friends who misses you,

 

Marian.

 

§§§§

 

Hello Marian,

 

I'm still on the boat to Arendelle, but I did receive your letter, and thank you for writing this one. Don't worry, I will try as much as I can to take time for you, to continue our correspondence. I am not going to forget you.

 

I have no idea of how things are in Arendelle, well, I received a message from the regent who is replacing me since I left. Apparently, Hans (again) tried to invade Arendelle, maybe thinking that as I was not here for a time, it would be easier to do it.

 

(The idiot.)

 

But apart this incident, everything is fine.

 

Except me. I thought that leaving you would make what I feel for you less strong, less vivid, but it's not. I love you Marian. I hope that, one day, I will be able to write you this, for real. To tell you properly how I feel.

 

The travel is quiet, and Anna is really excited to come home, because she will finally be able to organize her wedding with Kristoff (who, I am sure, is as excited as she is). Moreover, she didn't see him since four months, even if they did write letters to each other. Just as we do. Does this mean we are in a relationship ? No. Right now, no, we are not. I hope that one day, it will mean this.

 

I hope one day… I hope that, one day, I will stop being alone.

 

I don't think I will be able to write you in the future days, as I will have a lot of things to do.

 

But I will try, I promise you.

 

Goodbye.

 

Your friend,

 

Elsa.

 

§§§§

 

Hello Elsa,

 

I know I didn't write you since a long time, but as you told me you wouldn't have time for me to write me anything, I decided to wait a little. Even if it was difficult, because my queen, I still miss you.

 

What about the wedding ? Are your sister and her fiance finally married ? I remember her talking about her dear Kristoff, about how they met, how much she loved him… Just as I love you. If the answer is yes, then they have all my congratulations, and I hope they will be happy.

 

And what about you ? I guess that now, you're all back. So, how are things in Arendelle ? How are you ? I guess that now that you have the perfect control of your powers, no one is afraid of you anymore. And I guess you must have a lot of suitors. I know I should not be jealous, but I can't help but be.

 

I still miss you.

 

Marian.

 

§§§§

 

Marian,

 

Thanks for your letter, and sorry for being so long to answer to this one.

 

Yes, Anna and Kristoff are now married, and happy, in fact, they are now in their honeymoon. And I feel quite alone now especially without you. Even if Ingrid is here, with me. In fact, she is ruling with me now, on my side, with the help of the regent too.

 

You know, I am still an apprentice here, I have still to learn some things about what it is to be a queen, and thanks to them, I can do this.

 

I am happy. Alone, but happy, even if I miss you.

 

Sorry if this letter is so short, but I have nothing else to tell you.

 

In fact, I have some other things I wish I could tell you. If I did, well, there are things I would tell you, things I can't tell you, not right now.

 

Oh, by the magic, I am so confused…

 

Sorry for this.

 

I miss you, so much, too much, I am afraid. I am afraid of missing too much, I'm afraid I love you too much.

 

I want you to come here, in Arendelle.

 

Do you think you will come here to visit my kingdom ?

 

I hope you will.

 

Elsa.

 

§§§§

 

Other months passed, and other letters were exchanged.

 

Marian came to visit Elsa, twice, and they both understood that they were hopelessly in love with the other woman.

 

Of course, they told nothing about it.

 

Until they did.

 

§§§§

 

It's a normal day, a normal letter, that Elsa is writing, a letter full of banalities (and Elsa can't count the number of times where she crossed what she wrote out and where she had to rewrite her letter entirely. Because her hands were faster than her thoughts, because she was unconsciously writing the truth she was hiding), and suddenly, she can't pretend anymore that she feels nothing.

 

She can't continue to pretend, she can't lie to herself, lie to Marian.

 

She has to tell her.

 

So, she takes another paper, another letter, and she only writes :

 

I love you Marian.

 

And she sends this one, hoping she will have an answer which won't be negative.

 

She hopes she will not lose Marian.

 

§§§§

 

Marian receives the letter, reads it, and immediately, her heart begins to beat fast, too fast, and she smiles.

 

She doesn't answer, but she does something else, she acts.

 

She goes to Arendelle, to tell the queen how she feels about her, to tell her she wants to go to Arendelle, definitely, to stay with her.

 

To live with her.

 

She goes there, and she runs into the queen's arms, who is surprised by her presence, of course, but also surprised by what Marian does next.

 

She kisses her, on her lips, and Elsa is too happy to reply to this one.

 

And then, the young woman and former outlaw tells her :

 

“I love you Elsa.

 

And Elsa's smile is so, so bright and happy.

 

- I love you too Marian.”

 

§§§§

 

One day, Marian asks Elsa to marry her.

 

And she says yes, of course, and realizes her sister had been right.

 

There will be a wedding.

 

 

 

* These parts don't appear in the letters.

Chapter Text

Six years later.

 

Princess Emma looked around her and smiled.

 

Today was her birthday, she was now six years old, and she was also one of the happiest children who ever lived in the Enchanted Forest.

 

Everyone she loved and appreciated was on her side : first, her parents, Snow and Charming, who were just next to her while she was blowing on the candle of her birthday cake.

 

But her parents' friends were here too, as people as Red and Graham, Regina and Robin, with their son, Roland, and also the fairies Blue and Tinkerbell.

 

Aurora, Philippe and Mulan came here too, together, and during all the party, the little princess couldn't help but send them strange looks. As if, despite her young age, she already knew that there was something quite not common just in front of her eyes. Their son, the little Philippe, named after his father, was here too, playing with Roland, his friend.

 

Elsa and Marian were obviously here too, being now the happy parents of a little girl named Rapunzel, that they adopted two years after their wedding. They were now ruling Arendelle with no difficulties, and the kingdom had excellent diplomatic relationships with Snow's and David's which explained why they were here, in order to celebrate the little princess' birthday.

 

Another couple of women was here, another couple of royals : Briar and Maleficent. They were both looking at their daughter, Lily, as if she was the most precious thing in the world.

 

But there were also other people that Emma didn't really know, especially two : Lady Belle and her husband, Rumplestiltskin, the powerful and famous Sorcerer.

 

No one called him anymore the Dark One, not after all the things he did, in order to redeem himself, things he was still doing.

 

In fact, a lot of people completely ignored that the actual Sorcerer and the former Dark One were just one person.

 

A thing Emma did know, just as she knew that Regina was the former Evil Queen, and her mother's former enemy.

 

And, of course, her own friends were here too : Alexandra, Lily, Pinocchio, Roland, and other.

 

Yes, Emma thought. She was definitely happy.

 

§§§§

 

The party was a success.

 

The laughter of the different children were resonating in the air, as they were all having fun, watched by their parents.

 

At the end of it, Emma came to see Belle and Rumplestiltskin, and if the Sorcerer thought that the princess wanted to talk to him, he quickly realized that it was not the case.

 

“Lady Belle ? The child asked her. Excuse me to disturb you, but I wanted to ask you a question.

 

- You can call me Belle if you want, the librarian answered with a soft smile to the kid. So, tell me, what do you want to know princess ?

 

- Well, Belle… is it true that you've got the greatest library in all the kingdom ? Emma finally asked her with a light of curiosity and excitement in her eyes. It is said that your castle has the greatest and the most beautiful collection of books which ever existed.

 

- Yes. Yes, indeed, it's true. So, I guess you want to visit this one. Emma nodded her head in a frenetic way, and Belle's smile grew larger. Your parents told me you were a fast learner, and a really precocious child. I guess I could have some books which would interest you. You can come and visit us tomorrow if you want to.

 

- Thanks Lady Belle !”

 

§§§§

 

The day after her birthday, the little princess indeed went to the Light Castle.

 

When she saw how enthusiastic the child was, Belle began to smile, not noticing that her husband didn't seem to be that happy to welcome the little princess in their home.

 

There was something that Rumplestiltskin had to recognize, that is to say that he was quite uncomfortable where he was close to Emma.

 

Not because of the princess herself, but because he remembered a version of her which had nothing to do with the person in front of him, a version he hoped would never be real in this world.

 

Because, any time he looked at her, he saw what could have happened, what did happen for him, in another version of the story.

 

When he saw her, he couldn't help, but think about Emma Swan, this woman who made him realize that both his son and the woman he loved were dead.

 

When he looked at her, he remembered his son's grave, with the name Neal Cassidy on it, he remembered her tears, her broken tone.

 

He remembered everything, and he wished he didn't.

 

They didn't tell you ? No one told you ?

 

He is dead.

 

He remembered that there was a version of the story where he lost his son, where he was not able to save him, to say goodbye to him, to tell him how sorry he was.

 

There was a version of the story where Belle died, because of him, because he rejected her, and he knew that he still hadn't forgiven himself for this.

 

Look at princess Emma meant to look at his own faults, it meant to remember that he was not always a hero, that he truly was now, that there was a time where he was just a coward who abandoned his True Love and his son for power.

 

It meant remembering that he had been locked up in a prison during twenty-eight years, all alone, persuaded that he would never get out of it.

 

It meant remembering that there was a time where he almost became crazy because of the guilt, the loneliness, the voices.

 

Because he was able to fix his terrible past didn't mean that this past never existed for real.

 

It didn't mean he never lived it for real.

 

And moreover, there was something else.

 

He never told Belle anything about this.

 

He never told her what made him change his mind.

 

He never told her about the terrible nightmares he got the first nights after he came back to the Dark Castle, after he finally gave up his magic, for her.

 

He never told her that sometimes, he woke up in terror, believing she was now dead, that his son was too, and that what he lived was just a beautiful dream.

 

There were nights where he woke up, thinking he was still in prison, nights where his breath stopped, and where he just wanted to die.

 

Before he realized that she was here, safe, in his arms, and that there was nothing he had to worry about. He breathed normally again, of course, but again, it didn't mean he hadn't been marked by these nightmares.

 

So, as he was looking at the princess, he shivered, as a fear was appearing in him, a fear that the princess' presence was awakening right now, that the princess obviously didn't intend to create.

 

The fear that he was going to fail, in the end, despite his best efforts.

 

After all, Bae died in the version of the story he lived before, what if it happened again ?

 

And by the way, when would his son come back ?

 

What if Henry had been wrong ?

 

(What if he lied to him ?)

 

Moreover, he remembered things which never happened here, to Belle, for example.

 

He didn't tell her how he felt, because it would have forced him to tell her that he saw her dead, that he saw her body, what stayed of it, that he literally saw her bones, that he had for a time to support a world where she was not here anymore.

 

To look at Princess Emma, who was looking at all these books, with this light of mixed interest, excitement and joy in her eyes, he had the impression to see Belle again, the way she was when he opened her his library for the first time.

 

And it made come back in him some happy and sad memories.

 

“Rumple… are you okay ? Belle asked him with concern, after the little girl left them, holding a great numbers of books in her hands.

 

He sighed.

 

He had to talk with her.

 

But how do you tell someone that her world may not be completely real, but just came from the wish of a witch who wanted her revenge ?

 

(Well, maybe it was something he was not forced to say.)

 

§§§§

 

“Belle, he began, do you remember when I told you to leave my castle, all those years ago ?

 

Pain appeared in the woman's eyes, as she remembered what was surely the worst part of their relationship.

 

“Yes. Yes I do, but it happened six years ago, it's over now, and you made yourself be forgiven after this… incident, Belle answered.

 

- Indeed, but this is not what I meant… I just want to tell you a story, a story of something which could have happened, had I acted differently. When Belle gave him a puzzled look, not understanding what he wanted to tell her, he just added. Imagine this, Belle. Imagine that I didn't stop you, that I didn't kiss you, that I didn't give up my powers for you…”

 

But it never happened, Belle thought, not interrupting him.

 

Imagine that, then, you left, that you went on an adventure, that you freed a man named Philippe… Yes, this Philippe, your friend now. And that after making him meet a woman named Mulan, you decided to come back to me, but that the queen arrested you and put you into prison. Imagine that, after, I was myself stopped and locked up in a cell which blocked my magic…

 

Imagine, he continued, trying to control the growing pain in him, provoked by the memories of what happened, that the queen was herself stopped before she was able to cast the curse I wanted her to cast, and that her magic was taken from her. Imagine, he said , that you had to stay in prison, and that you finally died of hunger. Imagine that I had to stay locked up for twenty-eight years, before a woman named Emma Swan made me realize that you and my son were dead. This is the reason why I am not well, he said, ending his speech.”

 

Belle's look was full of horror, as she heard this story which seemed to be just the worst ending ever, where there would be no happy ending.

 

Was it… was it a nightmare ? A vision of the future, of a potential future ? Is it the reason why you changed your behavior ?”

 

He turned his head.

 

No, Belle, you don't understand. I know it can seem to be… strange, but this is not a vision I had. Belle, I lived this, he finally admitted. I lived it, and it was real for me, until a young boy named Henry rewrote this story, and sent me back in time. It's the reason why I was so strange when I found you again, because…

 

- Because, for you, I was… dead ? She asked him with astonishment. But how… how is it possible ?”

 

He told her the end of the story, his trip to Storybrooke, his first decision to die, and then, Henry's choice, and the consequences.

 

So, that's the reason why you feel bad when you're next to Emma… Because she is another version of this Emma Swan you met, and who is the one who made you know what happened to… me and your son…

 

- Exactly.

 

- I'm sorry Rumple, I didn't know… I think I will need time to deal with what you told me and accept this.”

 

H e nodded his head.

 

Yes, he understood the reason why.

 

After all, he did need time to himself accept this and to succeed to make the difference between what was real and what was not.

 

§§§§

 

Belle really liked princess Emma.

 

She was just like her parents, only kindness and compassion, and she was really different from almost all the royals Belle met in her life.

 

Oh, and she adored books, just like she herself did, so it was a good way to win her affection.

 

So, when she saw the princess arrive in the castle's library again, she smiled to the child.

 

“Hello Emma ! You want to take other books ?

 

- In fact, no. I wanted to talk to your husband.

 

- About what ?

 

- About magic.”

 

Belle raised an eyebrow. Well, that was interesting.

 

Especially when she saw that Emma didn't seem really comfortable with this idea.

 

“I have magic. But my parents still don't know this. And I want him to teach me magic, to show me how to control it.

 

- Why ? I mean why him especially ?

 

- The fairies are not teachers. Regina and Zelena already have some students. And Elsa and Ingrid told me how he helped them with their problems in magic.

 

- You want me to teach you magic ? Rumplestiltskin asked her with surprise, as she told him her project.

 

The little girl nodded her head.

 

- Yes, I do.”

 

§§§§

 

Rumpelstiltskin is a good teacher, and princess Emma is definitely a good learner.

 

Weeks pass, and her powers grow too, and Rumpelstiltskin realizes that Emma Swan must have become a witch enough powerful to frighten the Evil Queen, to make this one send her in another world, if she is as powerful as his student is, according to the little princess' magic.

 

And one day, during one of their training sessions, a man gets out of nowhere and saves Emma from death.

 

An adult, someone Rumpelstiltskin is sure that he never saw, and who freezes when he hears that the child's name is Emma.

 

And, finally, the man smiles when the little girl asks him what his name is.

 

He seems to be moved by something, and Rumpelstiltskin doesn't understand the reason why, until he hears the man's name is Henry.

 

And, in the end, he recognizes the man in front of them as Henry Mills.

 

Immediately, Rumpelstiltskin sends her back to the castle, pretending he has to talk with Henry, right now, and that this man is a friend of him.

 

Yes, a friend.

 

Grand-son would be more appropriate, but how could he explain to a child that her future potential son was just there, in front of her eyes ?

 

(Son who was older than her AND coming from another world.

 

Yeah, he would have been really believable.)

 

She would have called him a crazy man, even if they lived in a world where magic was something anodyne.

 

And he didn't want this to happen.

 

After he did this, he began to talk with the grand-son in question.

 

“What a chance Henry ! It is really surprising that you just appeared here, right now, just as the right moment, like that !

 

- Well, the man answered, chuckling, it didn't happen by chance, and you perfectly know it. I chose to come here, I just wanted to visit… my other family, if I can say that ? Well, the alternate version of my great, complicated and so much twisted family, he added with an amused laugh, while Rumpelstiltskin grinned.

 

- Tell me kid, how are things for you, in the real world ? He asked him, ironic.

 

- Good. The last enemy we had to defeat was your mother, the Black Fairy, and since this, we are in peace, and I am wandering in another version of the Enchanted Forest, where there are other versions of the characters I already know. I am going to a ball this night, and I wanted to say hello to you at first.

 

- Wait… My mother ? You had to face my mother ? One of the greatest evil who ever were in the Enchanted Forest, according to the Blue Fairy ? And you succeeded to fight her ?

 

- Well, my mothers did. My mothers defeated her and then finally got married. But you don't have to worry about her, I wrote something about her not a long time ago, after we vanquished her, she will not be able to leave the Dark Realm anymore, all the children she kidnapped are now free and she can't hurt anyone here. Talking about happy endings, how are things here ?

 

- They are going well. I did what you told me to, I gave up the powers of the Dark One, I helped your adoptive mother and made her go on the road of redemption. Now, she lives happy with Robin Hood and their son, Roland.

 

Henry had a happy smile and nodded his head.

 

- I am happy that everything went well in this version of the story. I am happy to know that, at least, here, Robin is happy.

 

- I am myself happy with Belle, your grand-parents are happy too.”

 

Then, he told Henry about the destiny of other people, and Henry sometimes frowned and raised skeptical eyebrows.

 

“Wait… Elsa and Marian ? Happy together ? I am surprised, because in my world, I don't think they ever met… If they are, it's for the best, but I have to admit this is not the kind of story I would have thought to write. Well, it would not have been my first thought. What about Emma ?

 

- She is a six years old happy child, and I am teaching her magic… By the way, he asked Henry, do you know in how many time my son will come back ?

 

Henry gave a reassuring look to his grand-father.

 

- I asked my mom, as she still has her memories from the Wish… from this world, in her mind. According to her, Baelfire came back to the Enchanted Forest when she was fourteen years old.”

 

And this time, the former Dark One had a smile, a real one.

 

“So, I have just eight years to wait… Thanks Henry.

 

- You're welcome, grand-pa. Now, excuse-me, but I have to come back to my own world. I promise you I will come back in some years, to see how things are. Goodbye.

 

- Goodbye Henry !”

 

§§§§

 

“Belle told me that you had a son.”

 

When he heard the little princes' voice, Rumpelstiltskin froze. Internally, he sighed.

 

So, here he was.

 

It was going to be painful, but he could do this.

 

Right now (old habit), he was spinning wool with his spinning wheel, not turning this into gold, as he lost this power.

 

And Emma just came to see him, after one of their training lessons, maybe pushed by her insatiable curiosity (he couldn't blame her).

 

She would be one of the few people (with Belle and Blue) with who he would talk about his son, a thing he almost didn't do since he lost him (no, abandoned him, he corrected in his mind).

 

He looked at her and smiled, stopping what he was doing.

 

“Yes, indeed, princess. I have a son.

 

- And where is he now ?”

 

Apparently, Belle didn't accept to tell her, judging that he was the one who had to tell her, as it was his story, after all, it concerned him more than anyone.

 

He had the right to talk or not about his story to Emma.

 

He decided he would talk.

 

“I lost him, he admitted, a long, long time ago. At a time where your mother and Regina were still not born. Even before your grand-mother was herself born.”

 

Emma's eyes shined with excitement, and she put her head into her hands, listening to him carefully.

 

“Really ? Since how many times ? How old are you ?

 

- Two hundreds years, princess. At least.

 

- What happened then ?

 

- It happened before I became the Dark One. I was married to a woman named Milah, with who I had a son : Baelfire. The ogre war forced me to leave the house before he was born, and I fled the war, after a seer told me I was going to become a father.

 

- You left because you didn't want your son to be fatherless, right ?”

 

The Sorcerer nodded, surprised that such a little child could understand such a complex situation.

 

“My father and my mother told me about the war. The one they made against king Georges and Regina. They told me about what they knew. Its dangers. Its cruelty. I understand the reason why you ran away.

 

- Not all people are that comprehensive, princess. I became the coward of the village, my wife left me, and my son grew up. They called him to the ogre war, and I became the Dark One in order to save him. Darkness… darkness took the best of me from me, and my son tried to save me. He wanted me to go the world without magic with him.

 

- But you didn't accept…

 

- No. I was a coward. I let him fall into a portal, and I didn't follow him. I stopped holding his hand, and I let him fall. I abandoned my own son, because I couldn't give up my power.”

 

Emma frowned.

 

“But… you have magic. Couldn't you find him ?

 

- No. My son used a magic bean, this is one of the few things which can make you travel to a world without magic. I found another one and my wife too at the same time. And I killed her, for abandoning me and our son. Just as I did then.

 

- But… it was an accident. You didn't want to make him fall, your son must be aware of this.

 

- Well, I am. But what he knows, is that I let him fall. He must hate me now.

 

- Is he… is he even still alive ? Emma asked him carefully.

 

- Yes, Rumple answered, assured, as he remembered Henry's promise to him. He is, and he will come back to me, one day. I don't know how, or exactly when, but I have faith that he will find his way back home. And everything will be fine. If he forgives me first, he muttered.

 

Emma looked at him, and smiled.

 

- I'm sure he will forgive you, in the end.”

 

Rumple had a little smile, moved by the princess' optimism.

 

“I hope he will, princess. I really hope he will, he whispered.”

 

§§§§

 

Eight years later.

 

Neverland.

 

Baelfire released the sigh of relief that he was keeping in him since a long time.

 

Now, here he was, in a little time, he would be able to leave Neverland. He had now the Shadow imprisoned, the only way to go away from there was in his hands.

 

He put the box on a table, and breathed.

 

He would leave the island tomorrow.

 

The young man smiled, knowing he would soon escape this terrible island.

 

For a second, he thought about going back to the Jolly Roger, and propose to the pirates to come back with him, before giving up.

 

He couldn't.

 

He couldn't give them a way to come back to the Enchanted Forest and then kill his father.

 

He couldn't face Hook again, not after what happened between them.

 

He knew he wouldn't have the force to do it, not because of his rage, but because he was afraid he would forgive him too easily.

 

Because there was something he had to admit.

 

He missed the pirate.

 

A century without someone you care for, or used to care for, it's a long time, long enough to make you forgive him, if you want to.

 

And it was just happening to him.

 

Seeing the pirate in front of him would surely be too much for him.

 

Especially because of the fact that he did have in the past a little crush for the captain.

 

A crush which was still here, and he was afraid that this one would be back again, if he saw the other man a new time.

 

A crush which could have turned into a love, a real love, hadn't the pirate spoil everything.

 

But, he knew as he was leaving Neverland, that he would never see the pirate again.

 

And so, this love for the pirate which could have been, would die, just as his feelings for the pirate himself.

 

He left the island, and realized that the Shadow was not this easy to control.

 

When he fell on the ground of a forest in the Enchanted Forest, even if he didn't know the place where he was, he understood it immediately.

 

It didn't work.

 

He was back at home.

 

§§§§

 

The second the young boy entered into the realm, Rumpelstiltskin felt it.

 

He froze, not knowing at first what it really was.

 

Belle looked at him, worried.

 

“Rumple. What is happening to you ?”

 

Until she felt it too.

 

“Does it mean...”

 

She didn't end the sentence, seeing a great smile take its place on the Sorcerer's face.

 

“Yes, Belle. This is exactly what it means. My son is back.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

E

Chapter Text

Baelfire was freezing.

 

The young man almost screamed with anger and frustration when he completely understood how much he failed.

 

It was not supposed to happen this way, he shouldn't have come back.

 

He should have went to the Land Without Magic, not come back to the Enchanted Forest !

 

He froze when he realized all the implications of his return, the first of them being his father. What would he do if his father found him again thanks to his magic ?

 

In the Land Without Magic, he wouldn't have to answer this question, because there would have no problems.

 

But now… he was trapped.

 

He didn't want his father to find him, not after he abandoned him, not after he learned that he was the one who murdered his mother.

 

He missed him, yes, as he missed the pirate too, but, as with Hook, he didn't want to forgive him right now.

 

Baelfire still didn't know the truth, he didn't know his father changed for him, thanks to Belle, he didn't know the Dark One didn't exist anymore, he had no idea that Rumplestiltskin finally became the Sorcerer.

 

He didn't know that his dad finally succeeded to become the hero and the father he always wanted him to be.

 

Had he known what happened, yes, he would have been more than pleased to see him again.

 

Except that, again, he had no idea of who his father finally became.

 

One day, he would figure out this, but now, he just had to find a place where he would be safe and not suffer from the cold outside.

 

He looked around him.

 

There was snow there, around him, on the ground and he began to shiver again.

 

So… here he was now, lost in a forest in a world which was not his since a long, long time, where he was risking his life because of the cold present during the night, and he may die because of this.

 

And… he could be saved in the second if he asked his father for help (if he supposed that his father was still alive and still the Dark One – but, in fact, even as the Sorcerer, he would have heard him and listened to him. And come for him. It was his son, after all), it would have made things much more easier.

 

He turned his head in a sign of obstinate refusal.

 

No, no, he couldn't, he just couldn't.

 

He knew it was stupid, but, unless he really was in a terrible danger, he wouldn't call for him.

 

(Maybe it was just inappropriate pride, but he didn't want his father to know he came back.)

 

Which was not the case right now.

 

The young boy began to walk again, trying to warm himself, and not to loose himself in the forest in the process of his walk.

 

§§§§

 

It was 5 am in the morning when Baelfire arrived in front of the castle.

 

He was still freezing, but it was nothing he didn't already have to support in the past, in London, or in Neverland, when he was trying to survive and when he was lonely.

 

And he shivered when he thought again about the darkest moments of his life. When he was all alone, on his own, with no one with him to help him survive.

 

He looked at the place, and smiled, because it had nothing to do with his father's place, his “Dark Castle”, that he got before abandoning him.

 

He turned his head, trying to put his memories aside, far from him.

 

Just because he came back in the world where his father lived didn't mean that he was forced to think about him, in fact, the most far he was from him, the better it was for him.

 

But he was not stupid either, he knew that if his father searched for him, he would rapidly and easily find him, something he didn't want.

 

Not right now, at least.

 

Then, a wave of fear crossed through him, when he considered a possibility he never examined before : what if his father had been killed by someone ? What if someone took his dagger and succeeded to kill him ?

 

He tried not to think about it, after all, even if it was the case, there was nothing he could do about it.

 

§§§§

 

“So… what do you intend to do right now ? About your son's return ?”

 

Rumpelstiltskin sighed.

 

“Nothing.

 

- Nothing, like… Nothing at all ? But why ?

 

- My son… doesn't want to see me again. I told you, I abandoned him.

 

- Yes, but… you let him fall into a portal. You just gave way his hand for what… four, five seconds ? You simply made a single mistake.

 

- And it had terrible consequences… I already lost him before this moment, when I became the Dark One, when I stopped being a father for him, and when I fell into this absurd paranoia.

 

- And you regretted it the second it happened. You dedicated your entire life to him, to find him, don't tell it doesn't matter.

 

- He doesn't know it.

 

- That's the point Rumple ! If you don't tell him, he will never know ! And if you don't go and search for him, how do you want him to know that you care ?

 

- I prefer… I want him to want to see me again. I don't want him to flee in my presence. If he wants to see me again, alright, he will. I want to let him the choice.”

 

§§§§

 

The day after .

 

Aurora gave a look full of surprise at the new arrival.

 

The young man, named Neal Cassidy (as it was the name he gave to them) was now sleeping, after he had been found by some guards, outside of the castle, freezing cold, seeming to be lost.

 

Still conscious, yes, but not in a really well state.

 

He seemed now to be in a better state, and it reassured the princess, who sat down next to him.

 

When he opened his eyes, Aurora saw a short light of fear appear in his eyes, before he remembered where he was.

 

“Hello, she told him. I'm princess Aurora. What's your name ? She asked him, as she didn't hear it when it was said, as she was not there.

 

- My name is Neal, he lied. I am coming from… from Neverland, he said, realizing he had no reasons to lie about this part. Were are we ? He asked.

 

- You don't have to worry anymore Neal. You're in my castle, and you're safe. Tell me, why were you here, lost in the night and in the dark ?”

 

He didn't tell her that the reason why he was here was because he tried to escape from a world where he was trapped, and also because he refused to call for his father and didn't accept to be helped by him.

 

Well, he didn't tell her the second part of this, in fact, he didn't want her to know that his father was the famous infamous Dark One himself !

 

“I lived in a world called Neverland, where time is frozen, and where there are pirates, lost boys, fairies, mermaids… A dangerous and terrible world, in which I came by total accident. In which I was trapped, for not years or decades but literally centuries. A world where there is magic, and where I had to live on my own.

 

- So, when you were found during this night, it was just after you escaped from this, right ? And you were just arriving in a new world you didn't know, that's the reason why you seemed to be so lost.

 

- Yes and no. I lived in the Enchanted Forest, a long time ago, it used to be my home, and… The young man bite his lip, not knowing what to add, what to say, and what to hid from her. And yes, he continued, I don't know it entirely, as I don't know this kingdom. I never went in this one before, he said. Or in fact, I think, as I arrived when it was the night, and I am sure that I am really far from my former home now.

 

Aurora then smiled to him, and for the first time since a long time, Baelfire stopped feeling completely alone.

 

“Well, then Neal, she told him, we will do it so you feel like you're at home now.”

 

He smiled.

 

§§§§

 

Neal was then presented to both Phillip and Mulan, Aurora not precising that they were both her lovers, as it was something so natural for her, that she didn't think to it, to tell him that the three of them were married.

 

And the young man, if he seemed to be a little intimidated at first, rapidly regained confidence, helped by Mulan's and Phillip's friendly attitude, as well as Aurora's.

 

Some days passed, and Baelfire became a very good friend with the three people who welcomed him in their castle, while they could have made him leave after he rested, after the night he was found.

 

Moreover, he rapidly began to understand that, indeed, there must be something between these three people, who really seemed to love each other, but who were not that demonstrative in public, so, Neal didn't have a precise idea of what really was between them.

 

So, one day, three weeks after he arrived, Neal went to talk to Aurora, who was with her son, who was Neal's age, and who was sleeping.

 

“Aurora, I wanted to tell you… well, to ask you something. Could we talk ?

 

- Yes, Neal, of course, she answered. What is it ?

 

- Hum… You may see this as being a little… awkward. Or… I don't know, inappropriate, but… I wanted to know… What kind of relationship do you share with Mulan and Philip ?”

 

Astonished by this, Aurora opened her mouth wide, certainly not expecting such a question.

 

“I don't want to offend you, but… you really seem to be close to them, and so do they, and… I just wanted to be sure I am not mistaking anything.

 

- I… How can I say this ? Me, Aurora and Philip… we are together.

 

- Together, like in together, together ? Oh, yes, of course, he immediately added, I am stupid, this is what you mean. So… you're in a relationship, officially ?

 

- Yes, we are. In fact, we are married since some years. I'm sorry we didn't think about telling you, and sorry if you were disturbed by this.”

 

He turned his head.

 

“No, no… I must admit it, I was surprised…. At first, I thought that you and Phillip were together, or Phillip and Mulan were… But then, I thought that it was just you and Mulan. I took some time before thinking that maybe, the three of you were together. Because, I'm not really used to be confronted to relationship like this… like yours.

 

I lived in this land like a century ago, and there was not really a lot of couples of three people, or in fact, I never met one before yours. But, the way you look at each other, the way you talk, the way you seem to love each other… It proved me that, indeed, I was right. And I'm happy for you Aurora.”

 

The princess smiled.

 

“And, in fact, she said, here is our son. I gave birth to him, but Mulan is his mother, as much as I am.”

 

He smiled, and they continued talking, rapidly forgetting what they talked about before, as the subject was now closed.

 

§§§§

 

Neal left the kingdom three months later.

 

He wanted to go into another place, to travel (which didn't mean he would not see again his friends – who were much more older than him, indeed), to visit this realm which was not his anymore (and he didn't fear being caught by his father. This one would have already done this before if he wanted, with his magic, well, he could do this.), and he ended in Snow White's and David's kingdom.

 

And there, he met a special person, someone he didn't know yet.

 

Princess Emma.

 

It was during a ball, during which he was introduced to the court.

 

And he saw her.

 

Well, actually, the first time he had a contact with her, it was not by seeing her.

 

But by hearing her laugh.

 

He was just seeing her from behind, as she was talking to people that he would later know as being her friends, princess Lily and Pinocchio.

 

Neal had no idea of the reason why she was laughing that much, and, intrigued, he decided to follow the conversation, without being seen by the one who were in front of her, as they were too much focused on what the princess was going to say.

 

“Wait… so, you mean that you thought that I would be furious because of the fact that the two of you are in a relationship together ? You must be kidding me.

 

- So… you're not angry because we didn't tell you ?”

 

Emma then burst into laughter.

 

“What ? That's ridiculous. Of course I'm not. It's something I have seen coming since so much time that it doesn't even surprise me anymore.

 

- What ? They both asked, surprised, in unison.

 

- Oh, please, she said, her eyes shining with amusement, you, Lily, you have such a crush on him since you're ten years old that I knew that one day, it would lead to something.

 

- But, Pinocchio asked her with fear, you're sure it doesn't disturb you ?

 

- For what reason ? You're my friends, you love each other, you're happy, that's it ! And I'm happy for you !

 

- But… about the age difference ? Lily asked her in almost a shy way.

 

Emma blinked, not really understanding the point, and she then got a smirk.

 

- Oh… This ? You're fourteen years old, he is twenty-two. Yeah, that's such a big difference, and such a big deal, the princess said, rolling her eyes. Say this to Belle and the Sorcerer (she called her former teacher by his title, using this nickname as a mark of respect toward him), or to Dreamy and Nova. As she is a fairy, she is almost immortal, and she was much more older than him when they met, as he was just born some days before. Or say this to Regina who had to endure an arranged marriage, with a man much more older than her. She was eighteen, he was around fifty, and it was my grand-father. You and him, it's not that important, and even if it was, that wouldn't be a problem for me. And if it is for other, just ignore them.”

 

Neal thought about himself, remembering that, because of his forced trip and his long stay in Neverland, he must be technically much more older than anyone in the room (except his father, but he didn't know he was here), and he internally chuckled.

 

Alright, so, he had no idea of who she was, but he already liked her.

 

She seemed to be really nice and funny, and since Wendy and Moraine, she was the first girl with who he was going to interact.

 

And he wanted to become her friend.

 

Well, their friend, in fact, as the other seemed to be good people too.

 

And it had been since a too long time that he didn't have any friends.

 

(He tried not to think too much about Wendy and Moraine, or John and Michael, who must be now all dead.

 

It would be too painful for him to remember this.)

 

Lily and Pinocchio looked at their friend with the exact same look of gratitude, seeing how easily accepted they were (and the thing is that they didn't have to be afraid of anything in the first place), and their face became more peaceful than they were before.

 

“But, this one warned them, I am not the person you should be the most afraid of, concerning the reaction to the fact that you are together. I'm not afraid about Gepetto's reaction, but Lily, you should be more concerned by the way your mothers could react to it. They both can become real dragons when they want to be.”

 

Then, the three friends began to laugh, seeming to laugh about a joke that Neal didn't understand.

 

“Yes, surely, they can, Lily admitted, sighing.

 

- Reassure me, Emma told her with a smile, you told them ? When an awkward and full of unease silence began to settle, the young princess had a new laugh. You didn't tell them.

 

- Well, considering the way they reacted about my previous and short relationship with Alexandra, I prefer to be… I don't know, more cautious.

 

- I have an idea ! You will announce this at the end of the ball !

 

- What ? Emma, no ! I don't want this to be publicly announced. Me and Pinocchio, we are together, it's true, but you are not going to present us as fiances, or something like that, because this is not what we are. Well, not right now, she rapidly added, giving her boyfriend a loving look. Emma, we are just dating, okay ? We are not, I don't know, forming an alliance between two countries, you see ?”

 

Emma nodded.

 

“Alright. But you're going to tell them, okay ?”

 

(Baelfire learned later that indeed, they did it, and that it ended well.)

 

§§§§

 

He didn't talk to them during the evening, he just observed Lily and Pinocchio as they were dancing together, and he also looked at Emma, who was looking at their friend, smiling, and who didn't dance during the entire ball, except a little time with her father, her mother and with Lily too….

 

Well, in fact, she did dance, after all.

 

She didn't talk to him during all the evening, and he didn't blame her for this, after all, he was just a new arrival in their kingdom, someone she didn't know, and someone she maybe didn't want to know better at all, even if she had been really polite when he had been presented to her and the court.

 

Meaning of course also Lily, Pinocchio, Roland and Alexandra, but they didn't seem to be as… sparkling as the princess was.

 

He saw them, but he had no idea that he was also seen by his father, who was hidden with his wife in a corner of the room, as they were now completely invisible from everyone thanks to magic.

 

Before this day, Belle never saw her husband smile that much for such a long time.

 

Rumplestiltskin looked at his son all the night, his eyes full of love, tenderness, and pride.

 

Yes, for sure, this was what he wanted to happen.

 

His son being happy.

 

So, now, here we are, he thought.

 

Now, he had the chance to change the future, to make it be different, so what happened in the other version of the story never happened in his.

Chapter Text

Some days passed, and Neal rapidly integrated their little group of friends, and this, even if they were the first friends he got since a long, long time, and that he had some difficulties at first to adapt.

 

The first thing he noticed, was that princess Emma was not especially a leader. None of them was, in fact, they were just… friends who just wanted to have time together.

 

The second thing that he noticed, is that they all had good skills in fighting, which was not that surprising.

 

Some had magic, like princess Alexandra, princess Lily, and princess Emma, being either the daughters of a witch or of two people united by True Love, while the two other didn't have magic, like Roland, Pinocchio, and of course, Neal himself.

 

They all knew how to use a sword, which was something easily understandable : Lily was after all the daughter of a literal dragon, and her sister-in-law was the best warrior of her kingdom, if she was not the best in all the realm itself.

 

Emma had parents who knew what it was, to be forced to fight for your life, so of course they wanted her to learn to defend herself and fight, and Roland was the son of an outlaw/former outlaw (Neal was not sure of his actual status, as he knew this one was now married to the former Evil Queen, so he didn't know if he was still an outlaw or not), so it was kind of the same thing for him.

 

And Alexandra and Pinocchio, being their friends, naturally followed them in their training sessions.

 

By the way, by facing them, Neal rapidly realized that, in fact, he didn't know how to fight well with a word. Oh, yes, indeed, for a fight without a sword, hand-to-hand, he was good, maybe even better than them, as he learned it the hard way, in the streets of London and in Neverland against the Lost Boys and the Lost Ones.

 

He knew how to fight someone in a non really regulatory way, for sure, he lived with pirates after all, he was not always the kind of person who respected rules.

 

But, when it was the time to use a sword, well… he was not as good as they were.

 

Emma and Lily particularly were, wanting to be as great as the members of their respective families used to be, and still were.

 

(Indeed, Neal really admired Snow White for being as strong as she was before, despite the time which passed, and despite the fact that she didn't train as often as she did before, as she didn't need to do this anymore, as they were in a complete peace now.)

 

And the two girls were really strong, and Neal, as the other, had been defeated by them… any time he fought them, in fact.

 

At this moment, he realized that he indeed had a lot of things to learn properly.

 

§§§§

 

But there was one thing that Baelfire was really good at : sailing.

 

Indeed, it was one of the things that Neal was the only one of them to know goodly, which was a logical thing, as he had been taught this by one of the best.

 

On the other hand, the other' parents weren't really experts in the art of sailing, so they didn't teach their children about this.

 

So, the day Neal told them that he knew how to direct a ship almost perfectly on his own, everyone's eyes began to shine with excitement, well, especially Emma's.

 

“You really know how to sail on a ship ? Alone ? As Neal nodded his head, his friend began to smile.”

 

It was something Neal had learned rapidly about her.

 

Princess Emma loved adventures.

 

She loved hearing stories about them, stories about how her mother and her father met, how they defeated the Evil Queen. Or about how this one found love and happiness on the road of redemption.

 

She adored hearing about the epic adventure of Philip and Mulan, and how the two of them found Aurora and also found love in the process and all became a family.

 

And, obviously she also loved to hear the story of Belle and The Sorcerer and the way she succeeded to see and love the man behind the Beast and how she saved him from himself.

 

And Neal, as her, began to like to hear these stories, not knowing that, indeed, the famous Sorcerer he never saw was his father.

 

§§§§

 

Emma was completely different from the other princesses.

 

Well, not from all, Lily was also kind of like her, but as Emma, she was an exception. For example, Alexandra, even if she was one of their closest friends, was also completely different from them, in many ways.

 

Compared to them, Alexandra was really… calmer, to say the least.

 

Emma was more impetuous and fierce – and when you knew who her parents were, it was so easy to understand why she was this way – while Alexandra was more tempered, and maybe also more diplomatic (which was obviously a good thing).

 

Just as, for example, someone like Pinocchio was. They had completely opposite but also complementary characters.

 

It was what and who Emma was.

 

And it was the reason why Neal liked her so much.

 

Being raised up by loving parents who really cared about her, and who treated her as who she was, that is to say, a princess, but not being too much spoiled by them, she had the possibility to blossom.

 

She had a family, parents, uncles and aunts, not all by blood but by heart, she had friends, she literally had an entire people who loved her and was proud of having her as their princess.

 

The princess had everything Baelfire never had.

 

She was everything he was not.

 

She was always happy, joyous, funny, she had great facilities to make contact with people – in fact, she was the one who began the group's friendship with Baelfire, at the beginning – something Baelfire could do too, but it took more time for him, and moreover, he needed also to be confident, about the people with who he was, or about the situation itself.

 

She had a great confidence in herself too, which was not really Baelfire's case.

 

Indeed, Neal was completely not the way Emma was.

 

Except when he was with his father and his mother, and then, only his father, or with the pirates, and with the Darling, he didn't know what it was, to have a family.

 

The only one he got always were broken or taken from him.

 

His mother abandoned him, his father did too, the shadow took him from the Darling, Hook betrayed him and left him, and took his freedom from him by giving him to the Lost Boys, he lost Moraine, he lost Wendy.

 

He lost everyone he loved or cared for.

 

He didn't know anymore what it was, to have friends, or at least, to have them with him during a long time. The only one he had, Wendy and Moraine, disappeared from his life because he disappeared from theirs, going into another world, sometimes against his own will.

 

He didn't want this to happen again.

 

He didn't want to loose them.

 

§§§§

 

Emma was someone open, to everyone, or almost, she was a happy person, as it was already said before, and Baelfire noticed it too by seeing that she was someone who wanted everyone around her and in the kingdom to be happy, friends or not, nobles or commoners, people who were close to her or on the contrary, completely far.

 

So, obviously, she was not going to leave Neal out, and this one at first was not really ready to enter into their group of friends.

 

But he did, thanks to Emma's enthusiasm, as well as Alexandra's kindness.

 

While he himself learned how to use a sword, he himself began to teach his friends what he knew about sailing.

 

It was hard, at first, not to think about Hook any time he was telling them what he knew.

 

At these moments, there was a great shadow appearing on his face, darkening this one.

 

The young adolescent was now remembering the moment where the captain taught him how to know where port side and starboard were, and his hands were now trembling.

 

He rapidly regained his composure, and tried to smile again, wanting to reassure his friends.

 

Emma just put a hand on his shoulder, knowing something was wrong.

 

Knowing too that to make Neal talk about it was going to be long and harsh.

 

He didn't tell them anything about Neverland, about being the Dark One's son, about his fear of magic, and he tried not to grimace any time Emma, Lily or Alexandra practiced magic in front of him.

 

(Especially Lily, she was the most frightening of them all.

 

She was a freaking dragon !)

 

Neal appreciated his friends, of course, but he just didn't trust them enough to tell them about it.

 

(In fact, there was no one to who he could talk about it. Maybe the Blue Fairy ?)

 

He arrived there three months ago, and if he was not anymore the scared little Lost Boy of Neverland, the one who fled, who had to live alone and on his own for so much time, he still needed time to adapt.

 

The little stay at Aurora's, Mulan's and Philip's castle helped him to regain confidence, but it was obviously thanks to his new friends that he was happy again.

 

Which didn't mean everything was fine.

 

Which didn't mean his stay in Neverland didn't leave some scars on him.

 

§§§§

 

In another place of the Enchanted Forest.

 

Rumple ?

 

- Yes Belle ?

 

- I'm pregnant.”

 

Nine months later, Belle gave birth to a son named Gideon.

 

§§§§

 

I can change Bae ! For you !

 

- You say that. I know you'll never change. Because all you care about is yourself !”

 

A betrayal.

 

A broken heart.

 

An abandonment, again.

 

And the sadness.

 

And especially the anger.

 

And words, which go too much far, and which will destroy everything which is still here and which will never be anymore.

 

Thank you ! For reminding me what I'm all about ! Killing your father !”

 

The hatred.

 

The incomprehension.

 

The sadness, again.

 

And so much anger between them.

 

And, again, the words which will never be erased, which will never disappear.

 

Words with consequences.

 

You hate my father so much you didn't even realize you were just like him !”

 

Coward ! He says, he screams internally.

 

Because this is what the pirate is, or so he thinks.

 

(He never saw how sad the pirate looked like.)

 

As he was going on the island, Baelfire tried to hid his tears.

 

Neal woke up abruptly.

 

Oh no, not again.

 

When he was having nightmares – which happened really frequently – he had two types of it.

 

The one he had since a long time, the one where his father stopped holding his hand. The one where he was falling into the portal. The one where he felt abandoned for the first time.

 

But there was also the other one, the one he had this night.

 

The one in Neverland, on the Jolly Roger, where he was abandoned for the third time, where he was betrayed.

 

Again.

 

This abandonment was both worst and less worst than the other one.

 

Worst, because this abandonment, unlike the one made by his father, had been a real decision made by the pirate. His father didn't do this on purpose, it had been just an accident, while Hook had decided to leave him to Peter Pan and his Lost Boys.

 

But, on the other hand, it was less worst, because the captain took this decision because of the anger Baelfire provoked in him. He just reacted to the young man's decision to leave him, even if he reacted the wrong way, of course.

 

When his father let him fall, he made a definitive choice, he chose power and magic over him, he definitely lost his father this day, as he was already losing him since one year.

 

He lost him to darkness.

 

This night, during his sleep, he remembered what happened on the Jolly Roger, he remembered the pain, he remembered how cruel the betrayal felt.

 

He remembered how desperate he was that the same thing was happening again to him.

 

His breath became faster, tears invading his eyes, frustration overwhelming him, as he realized that even after all these years, he was still hurt and haunted by what happened, that he was still not indifferent, even if he would have wanted to be.

 

He was trembling, and he wiped his tears with anger, wanting desperately to stop feeling sad and broken because of what the pirate did to him.

 

He wanted so much to stop to care about it.

 

Leaving his bed, he left his room, the one that he had in the castle since his arrival, and he went into the court, trying to breath again.

 

It didn't change anything, because, as he was looking at the sky, he saw the stars, and his breath stopped again when he remembered a new time the pirate teaching him to sail by using the stars.

 

He clenched his fists, a scream of pain and anger was now stuck into his throat, and he began to tremble again, and it didn't stop. He wished he could rip out his own heart and feel nothing. He wished he could stop the pain.

 

I hate you.

 

I hate you so much…

 

(I love you, a part of his mind whispered, but he refused to listen to it.)

 

He wanted to scream, to scream at the sky, to scream his anger at the pirate, he just wanted to stop thinking about it.

 

Except that he couldn't.

 

But, before he was able to say anything, he saw a man being in the court too, and who was looking at him.

 

Someone who didn't seem to be in a better state than he was.

 

Graham entered into the court some minutes before Baelfire came in, because he had a nightmare, a thing which didn't appear that much often anymore, thanks to the talks he still had with Jiminy Cricket, and also thanks to the one who was now his wife : Red. Indeed, he was not having panic attacks anymore, his anxieties were still there, but were less strong now.

 

But, the nightmares were still there despite it, sometimes.

 

Like this night.

 

“You're okay kid ? The huntsman asked him. It looks like you're having a difficult night.

 

- Yes indeed, Baelfire answered bitterly.

 

- You've got a nightmare, Graham affirmed.

 

- Yes, I did, Neal said, surprised, how do you know this ?

 

- You have the same look that I have after I get one. You want to talk about it ?”

 

Neal turned his head. No. Certainly not. He still couldn't do it with his friends, so why would he share his problems with a guy he didn't even know, and never saw before (Graham was not really the kind of man who went to balls or to the events organized by royalty. And so Red was not too.), and with someone who maybe didn't really care about the answer.

 

“I know what it is, the other man continued, knowing perfectly that Neal was not going to tell him anything.

 

(And he understood the reason why. So much. After all, it did take time for him too to open to people, and to talk about what the queen did to him. He was lucky to have Red, Belle, Jiminy and Snow White and be able to have these so comprehensive friends with him. He knew perfectly that Neal also needed someone with who he could talk.)

 

Yes, I know it… He continued. You've got to live something terrible and it traumatized you. And of course, you can't talk about it, because it's something no one around you lived, and because no one can understand you. And you keep having nightmares of it, because you keep it stuck in you.

 

- What happened to you ? Neal asked him, recognizing both himself and the man in front of him in the description the other just made.

 

- I was enslaved, kept as a prisoner and abused by the Evil Queen. Former now, yes, but for me, she will always be the one who tortured me and forced me to sleep with her. Who punished me for saving an innocent's life. Who made me endure terrible torments, who ripped out my heart for five freaking years, who tried to ruin my life. She changed, yes, I know it, I saw it. But the thing I know is that what she did to me… I know I will never be completely free of it. And I guess it's the same thing for you, but with a different experience.”

 

The adolescent nodded his head.

 

“Yes, yes… I… But he couldn't continue.”

 

Graham just smiled.

 

“It's okay kid. You just… need time. You can trust me, fourteen years ago, I wouldn't have been able to talk about my past trauma with a stranger like you that easily.

 

- You think that one day I will ? Baelfire asked him with such hope in the eyes and such a broken voice that it broke the Huntsman's heart. And he smiled to him.

 

- I'm sure you will. I did, after all, and what I suffered from was not something easy to overcome. I don't know what you had to go through, but… you have to talk about it. It really helps, you can trust me.”

 

Neal nodded.

 

“I know you're right, but I just can't do this. Not right now. But thanks for the advice.”

 

§§§§

 

Jiminy Cricket… is a freaking talking cricket.

 

Yeah, regarding to his name and the world where he lived, Baelfire should have expected it, but yet, it surprised him.

 

It was Pinocchio who leaded him to the place where the man/cricket was now living.

 

And during the trip, they obviously talked.

 

“I know him, you know.

 

- Really ?

 

- Yeah. This is him who helped me to stay selfless, brave and true, after I turned into a human being and stopped being a wooden boy.”

 

Neal looked at him and started, surprised.

 

“Wait… you used to be made of wood ?”

 

The young man nodded his head.

 

“Yep, I was. My father “built” me, and thanks to the Blue Fairy, I became alive, and after some time, I turned into a real human.

 

- The Blue Fairy ? Neal asked with not so great surprise, as he knew that Reul Ghorm – knowing it was the Blue Fairy – was completely the type of person who wanted to help people.

 

- Yes… Do you know her ?

 

- No, Neal immediately lied. No, I don't, I just heard of her.

 

- She is a wonderful person… If I am a real human now, it's almost entirely thanks to her. And Jiminy, obviously. He can really help you.”

 

The first contact he had with the cricket was… awkward.

 

Because it was a cricket who talked , and because Baelfire was not really the kind of person who had facilities to talk with people he didn't know, especially if it was about his traumas.

 

But Jiminy Cricket really was a good psychologist.

 

“So, tell me Neal… Why are you here exactly ?”

 

Embarrassed, Neal answered.

 

“Well… Graham, Snow White's friend, he… told me that he talked with you some years ago and that it helped him a lot, so… I came here.

 

- Ye s , I helped him the best I could, the cricket admitted with modesty. What about you ?

 

- Well, I… But again, he couldn't say another word. The cricket smiled to him.

 

- You know, if you want to talk about something else, about yourself, Neal, you can.”

 

And he did.

 

Some weeks passed, during which the adolescent and the cricket talked about a lot of things, until the cricket realized something with his patient.

 

“When you talk about your friends, you talk like they were going to disappear in the second, mad if… you were afraid to loose them, that you were afraid that you could leave you. Why ?”

 

Neal got paled at the second the cricket said this.

 

Well… of course he was afraid.

 

The young man chuckled nervously.

 

“The thing is that… I'm used to abandonment. The cricket didn't interrupt him, and listened carefully. The former Lost Boy took a deep breath, before continuing. Oh bloody hell, that was going to be so harsh. I have almost always been abandoned by the people I loved and cared for. My father abandoned me when I was… ten years old, he lied, not wanting Jiminy to think he had been abandoned just one year or two ago, a thing he would have thought if Baelfire had given him his real age. Before this, my mother, abandoned me too, and even after that… someone else did. And I lost a lot of people too. Everyone I used to care for was taken from me, willingly or not. And I don't want this to happen, I don't want to be alone anymore.”

 

Jiminy smiled.

 

“You see, Neal, you really made progresses. But, if you really want this to continue, and get even better, you have to do what Graham himself did.

 

- That is to say ?

 

- He talked with me, yes, and he obviously trusted me enough to talk with me about his problems, and his traumas, as you are now, but… One day, you will have to open up, to the one you're close to, as your friends, like Alexandra, Lily, Pinocchio, or Emma.”

 

Ah, yes, Emma…

 

Any time he looked at her, and listened to her, or talked with her, or just thought about her, he just felt like some clumsy adolescent (that he was, of course, physically talking. In fact, after all his years in Neverland, he could almost consider himself as being an adult.) who didn't really know what to do when she was here.

 

By some traits, she was like Hook, but she was also completely different from him, and it was the reason why he liked her.

 

The reason why he loved her.

 

Thanks to her, he was learning again what it was, to be a child, something he forgot all those years ago, between the ogre war, his difficult life in London before finding the Darling, and what happened in Neverland. He didn't know anymore what it was, to be just an adolescent without any problems.

 

He just didn't know what it was, to be happy during a long period of time.

 

(Some nights, he was still afraid that the Shadow would be coming from nowhere and coming for him especially.

 

That was the reason why he had so much difficulties to sleep.)

 

And yes, he had to admit that Jiminy Cricket was right about it. He could talk with him now, yeah, but he didn't trust him as he trusted his other friends, and especially Emma.

 

He didn't trust Jiminy enough to succeed to talk to him about Neverland, the pirates, the Lost Boys, the abandonment and the betrayal, and all these things.

 

Well, he didn't even know if he trusted Emma enough to tell her what happened to him, and in fact, he already knew he just couldn't tell her about his father, about who he was, about the fact that it was the Dark One.

 

Because he felt that she would want him to find him, and to reconcile with him, except that he just couldn't.

 

He was still angry at him for abandoning him, but it was not the only reason.

 

After all, Rumplestiltskin, his father, killed his mother, and he knew he couldn't forgive him.

 

It had been since three years that he was now back in the Enchanted Forest, and he still succeeded to escape to his father.

 

He was not going to let this end right now.

 

Author's note : SwanFire will be for the next chapter.

Chapter Text

The second Emma entered into his room, Neal realized that something was going to go wrong. She had an excited smile on her face and Neal was sure as hell that she was going to ask him something.

 

“I'm invited in Arendelle, for princess Rapunzel's birthday, and you're coming with me.”

 

It was more a request than an order, to say the truth, but it looked like she really wanted him to come with her, and it did make him frown.

 

“Why ?

 

- Because you're invited of course ! And you're the only one of us who never went to Arendelle ! You must see it, it's a wonderful country, and it's also really beautiful under the snow, when it's winter… and even when it's not, she added with a mysterious air on her face.”

 

(Another joke he just understood some time later.)

 

“Fine, he accepted, being used to his friend's/crush's enthusiasm and obstinacy (and after all, why not ?) When are we going in this kingdom ?

 

- We will take the boat tomorrow.”

 

Baelfire immediately became pale.

 

“The… the boat ? He asked with both surprise and reluctance, trying also to hid this to her.

 

- Yes, of course ! Emma answered him as if it was an evidence for her. This is the only way to go to Arendelle. And don't worry, she added with a smile, I will try to show you what you taught me about sailing.”

 

And then, she left the young man in his room, alone and meditating.

 

It had been since a lot of time that he didn't put a foot on a boat… since Neverland, in fact.

 

And he clearly didn't miss it…

 

No, it was a lie, he missed it, but he was afraid that if he went again on a boat, his old good/bad/painful memories of it would come back in his mind.

 

He tried to reassure himself.

 

It could just go right, no ?

 

§§§§

 

No.

 

Of course no.

 

The trip was really going to be long if he stayed that tense, Emma told herself.

 

“Neal, are you okay ? She asked him.

 

He started.

 

- Yeah. Yes, of course, he answered her too rapidly.

 

She raised an eyebrow.

 

- You're lying, she affirmed. Listen Neal, if you don't want to talk about it, you can. But please, don't lie to me.”

 

He sighed. He already opened up to his friends, with time, as Jiminy asked him to do so, about a lot of things. But there were still two things he never told them about.

 

His father and Neverland (and, by extension, Hook). Maybe it was the time to deal with the second subject/problem.

 

“I have a bad experience with the sea. I lived for a time in a world called Neverland where time doesn't pass. Where people don't get old. From where no one can escape. I came in this world like… two hundreds years ago.

 

(Distractedly, Emma remembered that, indeed, the Sorcerer himself lived at this time, and that it was at this moment that he lost/abandoned his son. But, not wanting to disturb her friend/definitive crush during his confidence, she didn't make the remark aloud.)

 

I lived there, on a boat at first, and with pirates. Lots of pirates. Their captain saved me from the Lost Boys, from Peter Pan, and he is the one who taught me everything I know about the sea, and about sailing. But, after I learned something terrible about him (he didn't talk about his dead mother, about the abandonment he suffered from. He still couldn't), I decided to go, to leave the boat.

 

I wanted, naive as I was, he continued with an ironic and sad chuckle, to leave the island on my own. Because I still thought it was possible to leave Neverland. I did then, yeah, but I lost so much time in this living hell… But him… he left me to the Lost Boys, he abandoned me, he betrayed me, as my father did before. And I don't even think I ever mattered for him, I don't think he ever cared, he added bitterly. That's the reason why I don't really like sea now.”

 

And, in one second, Emma understood what was left behind his words, what was hidden. She understood everything about him, and especially the reason why it took so much time to him to open up to them.

 

In a frenetic and non-controlled gesture, she took his hand in hers, and pressed it.

 

And she tried to smile to him.

 

“We are not going to abandon you Neal. I promise.”

 

Then, when they interlaced their fingers with tenderness and love, they immediately both knew and understood what was going on between them, and they smiled.

 

When Emma kissed him, Neal let go and forgot for one second all his fears and his past wounds.

 

§§§§

 

Emma was right.

 

Arendelle was beautiful.

 

And, the most disturbing thing with this realm was that… there was snow.

 

Except that it was summer.

 

What the hell ?

 

When the young man gave her a puzzled look, Emma just couldn't contain herself, and she immediately burst into laughter.

 

If you could see your face ! She hiccuped, hilarious.

 

- How… how is it possible ?

 

- Magic ! The princess simply answered. Queen Elsa of Arendelle was born with the ability to create ice and snow, and so does her aunt. She couldn't control it at first, it was too powerful for her, and no one in this kingdom has magic… well, now, it's different, as more sorcerers and sorceresses are coming there… And, thanks to the Sorcerer, she has the perfect control on her powers.”

 

N eal nodded his head absently, not really listening to her, as he was obviously admiring the snow falling from the sky (a show he was not used to see frequently).

 

It's beautiful, he whispered, amazed.

 

- Yes, it is, Emma approved. And you still saw nothing, she assured him, knowing this kingdom more than he himself did.

 

They entered into the castle, and were immediately welcomed by the queen, Elsa. This one immediately sent them a smile full of joy, seeing that they were now here, being especially happy about Emma's presence, as she knew this one better than Baelfire (that she never saw before).

 

In fact, the day they both passed in Arendelle was really good, Elsa was a kind and nice person, Anna was both eccentric and excited about everything, every time, while her husband, Kristoff, was… calmer. He made Neal think about Alexandra, while Anna, as for her, was a little more like Emma.

 

And Rapunzel… was a sixteen years old princess that Neal didn't know enough to have an opinion about, but who was Emma's friend, so she must be a good person too, and the only thing he really remembered about her before meeting her, was that she had a great crush on a young man named Eugene. Oh, yes, of course, he talked with her too, and he realized that she loved painting.

 

(No, of course, it absolutely didn't remind him of someone else.)

 

In fact, the only person here he really knew was Marian, as, even if she lived most of the time in Arendelle, and that she was ruling the kingdom with Elsa, as well as with Ingrid's help, she often went to the Enchanted Forest, and Neal had seen her sometimes at the court, with Belle and Robin.

 

(When he saw Elsa and Marian interact together, he remembered Moraine sometimes looking at the other girls of the village in which they were living.)

 

She had been as she always was, kind and nice, and all of them made their stay in Arendelle really good and pleasant.

 

But now, they had to go, and Neal had to admit that he felt really sad about it.

 

§§§§

 

Some weeks passed and Emma and Neal began dating discretely.

 

Or so they thought, because it was completely obvious to everyone that they were deeply in love.

 

Oh, bloody hell, even Rumplestiltskin knew what was going on between them !

 

And he never went to the court, and it was not just because he knew about the future and Henry's birth.

 

They were just so… transparent, that, even if he was not there very often (and he was still invisible at these moments, of course. He still didn't dare being seen by his son, not after what he did to him), they were so in love that even someone who wouldn't have known them would have seen this.

 

And Rumple is happy for them.

 

Because his son (well, one of his two sons, as he also got Gideon, who was now three years old, and bloody hell, he loved his child so much ! And he hoped he wasn't going to make the same mistakes he did with Bae before) was happy, and it made him realize something.

 

His son didn't need him anymore.

 

He was an adult now (even if, being seventeen years old, he was still a teenager), he had friends, he had a girlfriend, he had people around him who cared for him and who would surely protect him better than himself ever would.

 

Baelfire didn't need his father around him.

 

After all, the Sorcerer remembered, his son didn't search for him, so it meant what he tried to hid to himself since the young man came back in the Enchanted Forest.

 

Bae… Well, Neal didn't want his father anymore in his life.

 

And as heart-breaking as it could be for him, the former Dark One was ready to accept it.

 

(But yet, had he remembered that his son just didn't know how much he changed, he would not have had this train of thought.

 

But, well, he never was really good for communicating with people.

 

Just look at what almost happened with Belle.)

 

Even if it didn't mean at all that he would abandon his son again, he was not going to give up on him, he knew that he would try, one day, to go to see himand make himself be forgiven for the way he hurt him.

 

But just not right now.

 

He just couldn't.

 

§§§§

 

When Lily and Pinocchio announced that they were fiances, Neal and Emma were not surprised at all. Because they were together since she was fourteen, and Lily loved him since she was ten, so, Emma (as Baelfire, indeed, after he witnessed three years ago the conversation between the three friends, knew how much the two people loved each other) was definitely not surprised at all.

 

Of course, they faked surprise, before giving them their congratulations.

 

They weren't surprised, either, when it was also announced that there was going to have a ball, in order to celebrate it, and Neal and Emma were more than happy to participate to it.

 

(And obviously, they were going to dance all the dances together.

 

As if it was not already obvious that they were in love with each other, they were going to show it to the entire court, and they would not even know it, not noticing that they were everything but discrete when they were together.)

 

When the ball happened, Rumplestiltskin was obviously here, hiding himself, looking at the young, magnificent, shining and happy couple which was just there, in front of him, dancing, and it was as if things were meant to happen this way.

 

To lead to this moment where these people would be completely happy and in love.

 

Oh, of course, they were not the only lovers of the room, Rumple himself and Belle had a dance together before (him hiding his identity. In fact, a few people really knew the Sorcerer's real appearance), and she was now talking with Robin, Regina, and also Mulan, Philip and Aurora who came for the event (after all, it was the engagement of her half-sister).

 

He also saw Snow and David, Regina and Robin (obviously), not Elsa and Marian, because they were themselves busy in their kingdom, Victor Frankenstein and Jefferson were here too, with Grace, which was extraordinary, since they didn't go out frequently.

 

But there was also Zelena and Hades, Ariel and Eric, Tink and Blue, Nova and Dreamy, Red and Graham, Maleficent and Briar Rose, and obviously, Lily and Pinocchio.

 

Everyone was happy, was dancing or talking, but Rumple couldn't stop looking at two people in particular.

 

His son and his future daughter-in-law (oh, come on ! He was sure as hell they would get married soon, and he didn't even have anymore his power which helped him see the future) dancing together.

 

At one precise moment, he heard the laugh of Emma resonate in the air, and then, he knew.

 

This was precisely what he wanted.

 

This was what he wanted to happen, he just wanted to make sure things were right.

 

He just wanted to stop the tragedy from happening.

 

Emma Swan's voice resonated in his head at this precise moment, and he shivered.

 

He remembered the entire conversation he got with her.

 

Oh no.

 

They didn't tell you ? No one told you ?

 

- Tell me what ?

 

What do you know, princess ? What do you know ?

 

- He is dead.

 

- That can't be. THAT CAN'T BE TRUE !

 

- I'm sorry, but it's true. I can show you his grave, if you want to see it.”

 

And, then later, he saw it.

 

His son's grave.

 

Who died in this version of the story before he even got the chance of telling him how sorry he was.

 

This was not going to happen, not again.

 

This is not him. That was not his name.

 

- You really think he didn't change his name ? Of course he did.

 

- Prove it ! What was his name ? His real name ?”

 

Silence.

 

And then, the answer came, the terrible answer.

 

Baelfire.”

 

Rumplestiltskin shivered again, closed his eyes and tried to make the memories disappear, and he looked again at the happy couple.

 

He looked at Emma, and he remembered Emma Swan, standing in front of him, telling him that his son and the man she loved had died.

 

(Twice, if you also took into account her own point of view and her own story.)

 

Rumplestiltskin especially remembered her eyes, as he looked in them, wanting to be sure if she was lying to him or not. He remembered the tears, how she was at this moment, and how terrible it must have felt for her to be forced to say again that Neal was gone forever, and that nothing would be able to make him come back.

 

He remembered her voice, he remembered realizing she was not playing a game, he remembered the horror of the realization of the truth.

 

But, on the top of it, he remembered how broken she was by her loss, he remembered her broken tone, her broken voice. Her broken heart.

 

Emma Swan had healed since the moment Neal died, if course, but some of her wounds were still there, in her, somewhere, at the moment she talked to him about Neal's death.

 

And then, at this moment, as he opposed the wounded and broken Emma Swan to the happy princess who was just in front of him, dancing, smiling, laughing, he realized that all of this, what he was doing, it was not just for him.

 

It was not just because he didn't want to loose his son, it was for her too.

 

Because he didn't want the tragedy to happen again, not a new time.

 

It was for him, for his son, of course, but yeah, it was for her too.

 

Because he liked this child, seeing her as the niece he never had, and because he didn't want her to become again the broken woman he saw just after he escaped from his prison.

 

As he looked again at the happy people just there, Rumplestiltskin just swore to himself that he would never the tragedy become real this time.

 

“Hum… Hello grand-pa… So, you're enjoying the party ?”

 

Rumplestiltskin started and looked around him, before seeing a young man he knew too well looking at him and smiling too. Henry, of course. His future grand-son.

 

“Hello kid, he answered to the adult man. How on hell can you see me ? And why does no one see you except me ? He asked him, realizing these two things at the same moment.”

 

The Author chuckled.

 

“Well, you see, he said, I'm the Author. I do what I want in my own story, so, that's the reason why these two things happened… it's like I have magic.”

 

His eyes were shining, and the Sorcerer smiled at him.

 

“So… how are things for you ?

 

- Good, really good… Me and my fiance, Ella, we just got married, he said, showing him the ring on his finger. I met her during this ball I told you about, the last time I came here. And you ?

 

- Me and Belle, we are still happy, and we have a new son now… Gideon. And everything is as it has to be.

 

- Did your other son come back ? My father, he is here ?

 

- Yes Henry, indeed… He is even here.”

 

A new light appeared in Henry's eyes, as he realized the truth, looking at the couple formed by his future parents.

 

“So… This is him. This is them ? He asked him, deeply moved. They are here, just here ? He demanded to the Sorcerer, showing them the two young people.”

 

The other man nodded.

 

“Yes.”

 

And Henry began to smile.

 

And, after some seconds, he just added.

 

“You know what grand-pa ? I'm happy of the version of the story where I live, but… I think I really like this version of the story too. He looked at his adoptive mother, who was with Robin and Roland, her family here, and his smile grew larger with joy. I really like it, he whispered, tears of joy in the yes.

 

- So do I kid, Rumple added, approving him completely.”

 

When the ball stopped, all of them were more than happy, and Henry left this world content, knowing that he did make the good choice all these years ago.

 

§§§§

 

Other months pass, and one night, what must happened did happen.

 

Neal got another nightmare.

 

It was a different one this time, it was not the one about Neverland, no.

 

It was the first type of them that he got.

 

The one where his father let him go, let him fall, and he woke up during the night, with a scream of pain leaving his throat.

 

Even before he was really able to go outside and search for some air, someone arrived in his room.

 

Emma, obviously, and she looked at him with concern.

 

“Neal, she asked him… What happened ?”

 

He couldn't talk.

 

He just couldn't.

 

But, as he looked at Emma, he saw a woman who just wanted to help him, someone who was ready to stay here, with him, even if he didn't want to talk, and if he wanted to, then, she would listen to him, and just listen.

 

He realized at this precise moment that he was finally ready to talk.

 

She sat down next to him, and she listened, as he began to talk.

 

“I just had a nightmare, about something which happened to me a long time ago. It was… two centuries ago, something like that. Yes, I know, he added with an amused smile, seeing Emma's surprised look, I have aged well. He had no idea that she was just thinking about an old story she heard about when she was just six years old.

 

I was still thirteen years old, it was before I went to Neverland. It was during the Ogre War, and children like me, they were supposed to go to war when they turned thirteen… I should have go to it, but my father… my father didn't want me to die at war. So… he did something terrible, for me… which made him turn into a monster.

 

(He didn't tell her that his father was the Dark One. He didn't want to be rejected again, as it already happened before his father abandoned him. He didn't want to be a pariah anymore.)

 

He ended the Ogre War, and saved everyone, well, those who were still alive, but the dark magic… the power… it changed him. One year later, he was feared by everyone, and I asked him to leave the place, to leave the Enchanted Forest. I wanted to go to a world without magic, I even got a magic bean, but… my father… he acted like the coward he still was. He stopped holding my hand and he let me fall into a portal. He abandoned me, and since this time, it's the reason why I always do this nightmare.”

 

At these precise words, Emma's face became pale, and she frowned, trying to process and integrate all these new information that she was receiving, trying to remember something she thought she forgot… until some part of the conversation she had with Rumplestiltskin eight years ago came back in her head.

 

They called him to the ogre war, and I became the Dark One in order to save him. Darkness… darkness took the best of me from me, and my son tried to save me. He wanted me to go the world without magic with him.

- But you didn't accept…

- No. I was a coward. I let him fall into a portal, and I didn't follow him. I stopped holding his hand, and I let him fall . I abandoned my own son, because I couldn't give up my power.

And then, in one second, the young princess understood everything, and she succeeded to assemble together all the pieces of the puzzle she didn't even know she was trying to solve.

The great mystery of the disappearance of Rumplestiltskin's son.

A son who was just there, in front of her, and she asked herself if Rumplestiltskin already knew that he was here.

After that, he added, I ended in the Land without Magic, in a place called London. At first, I lived on my own, in the streets, then, I met a family, the Darling. They became my family for a moment, and I lived with them for a time, he continued, before being taken by the Shadow. And then, I went to Neverland.”

Then he stopped talking, because his story was over.

He realized it had been a good thing, to talk about it, a thing he never did before.

Baelfire realized that something was indeed wrong just when, as he stopped talking, he understood that there was now a great silence between the two of them.

He looked at her, and he saw that his girlfriend's face was now full of surprise and shock.

Emma ? Emma, why are you so silent ? Emma, what's wrong ?”

He was afraid now, because it was her turn not to answer to him, but indeed, it was such a great discovery for her, that she had no idea of what to say.

T he Sorcerer's son was here, in front of her eyes, he was her boyfriend, and he had hidden his true identity for not less than three years.

She had to admit that she was impressed.

Rumplestiltskin told her that he had faith that his son would come back home one day, and so did he, but she still didn't understand why he didn't try to see him again, n ow that he was back.

(Maybe that he thought he didn't deserve to be forgiven by him.)

A smile came on her lips, and she looked at him.

Oh, by the magic, she thought, Rumplestiltskin was going to be so happy, when he would know that his son was just there, alive, and safe (if he still didn't know it.), and she felt happy at the thought of knowing that this great separation was finally going to end.

“You're his son, aren't you ? She asked him. You're Baelfire, right ? You're Rumplestiltskin's son, she affirmed.”

And Neal just froze.


 

Chapter Text

Neal's expression passed from surprise to complete horror.

 

The only coherent thought he could form in his mind was : She knows. She knows.

 

And bloody hell, he hated this so much.

 

“What ? He tried to deny. No, I'm not ! Of course no !

 

- Yes you are ! You told me your father abandoned you by letting you fall into a portal, and Rumplestiltskin told me he did this to his son, so, it must be you.

 

- Emma, please, I don't want to talk about it !

 

- Oh, but you will ! You're the one who told me what happened to you, so now, don't expect to escape this.

 

- My father is one of the two people I don't want to see again. Look, Emma, I didn't tell you what happened to me because I wanted to talk about my father, I told you this because I wanted you to know the reason why I was having nightmares.

 

- But don't you think that they would stop if you took time to talk with him about what he did to you ? I talked with him Neal, and I know that he regrets what he did to you, and that he regretted it the second he let you go.

 

- And then, why didn't he try to search for me ? Why didn't I already see him when I came back to the Enchanted Forest ?

 

- Because you didn't search for him ! And I'm sure that he didn't try it because he thinks you don't want to see him again, he thinks he doesn't deserve you to forgive him.

 

- Well, then, he is right, Neal muttered with anger.

 

- I don't think so.”

 

He had an ironic laugh.

 

“Well, then, you're wrong Emma.

 

- Why not ? He changed !

 

- No, he didn't. I know my father more than you do Emma, and I know he'll never change.

 

- Oh, really ? You didn't see him since two centuries, and I lived around him for a great part of my life. I know how he is now, while you know him as he used to be. Trust me, he is not anymore the same man he used to be.

 

- You don't understand Emma ! He yelled at her. My father is the Dark One !”

 

Surprise appeared in her eyes, before she answered :

 

“You don't know ?

 

- What ? What do you mean ?

 

Emma blinked.

 

- Your father… he is not the Dark One anymore. He is known now under the name of the Sorcerer, and, seventeen years old ago, he gave up his dark powers, now, he only does white magic. He chose love over power, he is the man you heard of in the tale of Belle and the Sorcerer. Neal, this is him ! This is your father !”

 

But, before she could tell him he became a hero, her boyfriend said :

 

“He is ? A great smile appeared on his face, but then, it rapidly faded. And tell me, what does it change exactly ? What does it change about what he did in the past, to me, to the other ? Does it really erase his past crimes ?

 

- No ! Emma exclaimed. Of course no ! I didn't say that ! Just as the fact that Regina, the former Evil Queen, did change like he did, it will never erase what she did, and it won't erase what he did !”

 

It was just logical, Neal thought and understood, that Emma didn't understand the reason why he was so angry.

 

She didn't know what it was, to be abandoned.

 

She didn't know what it was, to be alone, despaired, what it was to be forced to live on your own, on the streets, almost dying from hunger, always asking to yourself why you were abandoned, as he himself did.

 

She had no idea of how it felt, to feel all these contradictory feelings, she didn't know what it was, to be torn apart between love, hatred, and also with the strong desire to be found back, to be cherished, to be loved by those who abandoned you.

 

To still get hope, for a time, that you would be found again, a hope which finally completely faded and which just let him wounded and broken into pieces.

 

She didn't know what it was, the anger, the hatred, the rage burning in your veins, just getting stronger and stronger as time passed, and as you felt more and more miserable.

 

No, the princess didn't know what it was, to have no family, to loose everyone, abandonment after abandonment, betrayal after betrayal, and also loss after loss.

 

Of course, she couldn't understand, and he couldn't blame her for that, he couldn't blame her for having the happy life and family he never really had.

 

He sighed, realizing that he had been too much rude toward her.

 

“I'm sorry Emma, he admitted. I perfectly know that, indeed, you didn't mean it. But my father… he scared everyone around me, and except Moraine, no one dared talking to me, when he was the coward of the village, it was the same, but at least, some kids accepted to be my friends, but when he became the Dark One… They stopped. I'm so used to the image of my father as the villain of the story, that I don't think I will ever see him in another way than this one.”

 

The young woman's face, which was sharp at first, then softened, and she smiled to him, taking his face in her hands, before kissing him.

 

“Then, tell me the reason why you're still angry at him.

 

- He abandoned me. But it's not the only thing he did… As the Dark One, he indeed saved lives, when he ended the Ogre War. But then… people started rejecting him, and me, because of who he was, and he turned into a monster, because of his dark powers. There was a man who accidentally jostled me, one day, and my father didn't even accept his apologizes, and he turned him into a snail, before crushing him. Our maid, who was mute, she saw us one day talk about the dagger who could control him and kill him, and he killed her.”

 

Emma's eyes were opened wide, as she was just seeing the man she loved being in a true rage, as he was enumerating some of the crimes his father committed, a rage she never saw in him.

 

“Oh, and by the way, he did something else, something I learned when I was in Neverland. After he abandoned me, he found back my mother, who abandoned me too when I was eight years old. And he killed her too, Baelfire whispered, with tears in his eyes, his hands trembling. He ripped out her heart, and crushed it.”

 

And there was so much anger in the adolescent's voice, that Emma didn't even think about telling the good things his father did later, and they spend the rest of the night together, just sleeping on the bed, doing nothing else.

 

But it didn't mean the subject was closed.

 

Because Emma indeed had a plan in her mind.

 

§§§§

 

When Emma left the room, Neal was still sleeping, and the princess made sure no one was seeing her, and, some hours later, she made her way to the Light Castle.

 

She had someone to see.

 

When she heard a knock on the door of the castle, Belle opened it after some minutes, and frowned when she saw who was just here. Gideon was now sleeping, and Rumplestiltskin left the castle some hours ago, in order to go to Camelot, as he wanted to talk with Merlin, and Belle was herself waiting for Tink's and Regina's arrival.

 

“Hum… hello. Princess Emma ? What are you doing here ?

 

- Hello Belle. You can just call me Emma. In fact, I'm here for an important mission.

 

- Which is ?”

 

Emma took a deep breath, before saying with a serious air :

 

“I'm here to talk about your husband's son. I'm here to talk about Baelfire.”

 

Belle's face then became really grave, and she nodded her head, understanding that after three years, it was finally the time for the father and the son to see each other again.

 

“Alright, I get it. You can enter princess, my husband is not here now, so we will be able to talk together without being disturbed. But before, I have something to cancel.”

 

The two women went in the library, sitting down around a tea, both knowing that the conversation and what would follow then would be extremely long.

 

Emma immediately attacked the subject, directly and without waiting.

 

“Since how many times do you know that Baelfire is back ?

 

- Since the moment where he arrived in the Enchanted Forest. In fact, she added, facing Emma's surprise and shock, we were both frozen in time thanks to magic since the moment where Rumple gave up his dark magic. Then, at Baelfire's return, we would know it immediately.

 

- But why… why did your husband do nothing ?

 

- He wanted his son to make the first step, he wanted him to go find him.

 

- But… it's absurd ! Baelfire only knew his father as the Dark One, the monster, the murderer, the one who preferred power over him, the one who was devoured by darkness ! Why would he want to see him again ? Emma asked.

 

- I think that, unconsciously, he thought he didn't deserve to be forgiven by his son, because of what he did.

 

- Maybe it was the truth at this time. But time passed, he changed, and he is not the same man anymore ! And Neal… I know he needs him, even if he denies it completely.

 

- Yeah, it's true, but us, we are the only one who know it, we do, but they don't, and what can we do against it ? They are so stubborn, I am not sure they are going to listen to us.”

 

Then, a mischievous smile took place on the princess' face.

 

“Yes, indeed… So, we just have to make them meet without telling them that they are going to see each other… So, they will be forced to talk.”

 

The same kind of smile then came on Belle's lips, and she nodded her head.

 

“You know what princess ? I completely agree with you.”

 

§§§§

 

Some days passed, and a suspicious Rumplestiltskin followed his wife to the castle of Snow White and David, not really believing what she told him, knowing it was just a pretext to make him come here, for a reason he didn't know.

 

“So… the king and the queen told you that they wanted to see me ?

 

- Yes, they said this, Belle answered, her husband's hand in her hand (Gideon being looked after by Tink and Blue at the same moment), making him follow her and a tender smile came across his face, as he let his wife lead him in the castle. He found it really funny. And adorable too. He didn't know what she wanted, but he didn't mind following her. And by the way, you're really late.

 

- So what ? Did they really call for me, or is it just a trick you're using to make me do something ?

 

She laughed.

 

- Oh no, she lied, that would really not be my type.

 

- Say the one who made me stop the separation between Dreamy and Nova, he muttered, earning a falsely offended look from his wife.

 

- You accepted it by yourself, I would signal this to you ! I didn't force you to do anything, just as I am doing right now.

 

- So, you admit that all of this has nothing to with some appointment with the king and the queen ? He asked her with an amused smile.

 

She finally nodded her head, admitting the truth.

 

- Alright, I guess I had been just disrupted.

 

- So, why am I here ?”

 

She didn't answer, just going in front of a door that she opened, sending him into a room and she left him in there.

 

“And you're not leaving it, okay ?

 

- Alright, he said.”

 

She smiled to him, kissed him, and she told him :

 

“Good luck.”

 

He didn't understand why she said it and what she meant.

 

But he waited.

 

He didn't have to wait a too much long time, and the door opened again, and Emma entered in it. He sent her a curious look, and she began to talk, rapidly.

 

“I know you're not going to like it soon, but we do this for you, okay ? Just… try to spoil nothing, right ?”

 

She left, and someone else entered.

 

Someone who clearly didn't know what the hell was going on, and who, for sure, didn't want to be here.

 

And, as he saw his son in front of him at the other side of the room, Rumpelstiltskin did the same thing that Neal did when he realized Emma knew who he really was.

 

He froze.

 

“Bae ? He asked with shock and surprise.”

 

His son just gave him an ironic smile and a despised look, and the Sorcerer felt like his entire world was falling apart.

 

“Hello dad, he answered, and the anger in his voice was so easy to perceive that Rumple shivered.”

 

This was going to take so much time…

 

§§§§

 

Emma told him the truth, Neal quickly realized.

 

His father had changed. Well, physically, he meant.

 

He didn't have anymore this “crocodile” skin he used to have as the Dark One, and Bae perfectly knew it was not thanks to his magic, as his father never did it when his son was still here.

 

But yet, he did have to make sure it was true and that it was not an illusion.

 

“So… is it true ? Emma told me that you were not the Dark One anymore, that you gave up your powers…”

 

Rumplestiltskin just looked at him, not being able to say anything at the time.

 

Unlike Baelfire, who didn't see him since two centuries, Rumplestiltskin had the possibility to look at his son since his return, at least three or four times, so, you could have thought that he was more than ready to see him again, especially after all this time where they were separated.

 

Except that he wasn't.

 

The more he saw his son, the more he realized this one didn't need him, the more he convinced himself that he would not see his son again before a long time.

 

He had been terribly wrong.

 

Because now, his son, the one he lost, the he abandoned, the one who died in another version of the story, was here, in front of him, alive, and…

 

And Rumplestiltskin had nothing to tell him.

 

Because there was something in his son's eyes, something he didn't see since a long, long time, at least, not directed against him.

 

It was anger, and the last time Rumplestiltskin saw so much anger against him in someone's eyes, it was in Killian Jones', after he killed Milah (and guilt came back again in him, as he remembered that he would have also to explain to his son not only that his mother abandoned him, but also that he killed her because of this), and it terrified him.

 

For one second, he was afraid that his son might want to kill him.

 

And, unlike his father, Baelfire had his anger, as a mask, to protect him from being too moved by this reunion (even if, of course, he was not indifferent to what was happening.

 

It was his father who was in front of him, that he didn't see since two centuries, and he didn't even know himself what he felt, what he must be feeling about it.)

 

His father, him, had nothing.

 

Rumpelstiltskin tried to smile, and nodded.

 

“Yes Bae. Yes, it's true.

 

- It's Neal now, his son immediately contradicted him.

 

- I… I know… I'm just used to use this name… Well… Bae… Neal, he added immediately… What the princess told you about me… It's true. And I know this is not enough for you, because of what I did, but I want to tell you that I'm sorry. I'm sorry I didn't follow you to the Land Without Magic, I'm sorry I abandoned you, I'm sorry for everything. I'm sorry I chose power over you, my son.”

 

Neal wanted to forgive his father. He really did.

 

In front of him, there was the man he always wanted his father to be : not especially a hero, but not the monster he used to be, he wanted him to be a good person.

 

And if he believed what had been told to him, it was what he became.

 

Except that he couldn't forgive him, not now, that would be too easy.

 

Not after what he did, not after he fell into the portal, not after he was abandoned, not after what he suffered from because of him.

 

Because it would be denying all his crimes, and it would be denying his own sufferings, and it was certainly not something Baelfire wanted.

 

And Neal had a painful and ironic smile.

 

“You killed her, he whispered with a broken voice. The Sorcerer frowned, not understanding what he meant at first, before his son added. You killed mom. You killed my mother, he told him with an accusal tone.”

 

And Rumpelstiltskin closed his eyes.

 

Oh… so, he knew ? He already knew ?

 

He tried not to defend himself, and to deny what was the truth.

 

“Who told you ?

 

- It doesn't matter… Hook… Killian Jones, he told me you killed her, while I was in Neverland.”

 

Rumple started. Wait, his son had met the pirate ? Did this one hurt him because of who he was ?

 

But then, something else hit him, and he paled.

 

Bae had been in Neverland ? The place he hated more than anything in the world ? The place his father ruled since the day he abandoned him ?

 

“Neverland ? Did anyone hurt you there ? He asked him with worry.

 

Neal smirked.

 

- Oh, don't worry, I was fine. Well, as fine as you can be in a hell like this… And then, he understood. You didn't deny it, he said with astonishment.”

 

His mother's murder was not the only crime his father committed, the numerous deals he made, or the innocent people he killed had also to be taken into account, but the circumstances were different.

 

For example, the death of the man turned into a snail, or the murder of their mute maid.

 

These one happened at a time where Rumpelstiltskin was still the Dark One, and where Neal was still with him. And of course, these murders couldn't be excused, but could be understood, as they were made by a man who was just trying to protect his son.

 

In the sense where Rumple was terribly paranoiac, and killed the man because he thought this one wanted to hurt his son (and that could be understood, as it was something which had been already done before), and he killed the maid because he thought this one could want to control/kill him by using the dagger, or that she would reveal his secret.

 

But Milah's death… it couldn't be understood this way, it was a murder of cold blood, just for revenge, because she abandoned him, abandoned them, and even if Baelfire was indeed angry at her for this, he didn't accept the fact that his father killed her.

 

“No, he admitted. Because I indeed did it.

 

- You told me she had been killed by a pirate, when she left… Why did you never tell me the truth ? Why didn't you tell me that she abandoned me ?

 

- I didn't want you to know that she left you, that she left us, I didn't want to hurt you. Well, this was what I was telling myself as this time, what I was trying to believe. The truth is, he confessed, I was a coward. I thought she had been kidnapped, I didn't know at that moment that she left us, and… I didn't want to tell you that I had been too much a coward and that I was not able to fight for my wife the pirate who took her.

 

- He didn't take her. She came with him willingly.

 

- Yes, I know… That's also the reason why I killed her, he admitted, I couldn't support the fact that she left me. That she made the same thing I did to you later. Again, Neal, I'm sorry.”

 

Neal snorted.

 

Was it really enough ?

 

He realized he wanted to do something, to say something which would hurt his father, as this one hurt him by abandoning him.

 

(It was selfish, yeah, but in this story, he was one of those who suffered the most.

 

He could have that, no ?)

 

And he found something.

 

“Hook told me that him and mom wanted to go back for me, to take me with them… Tell me, would you have preferred this to happen ?

 

His father's eyes opened wide with true horror.

 

- What ? No ! Of course no… what do you ask me that ?

 

Because I want to make you suffer , was the answer the young man could have given to him.

 

- Because it would have allowed you not to become the Dark One. Except, of course, he added with cruelty, if it was just a pretext to get power, and not to protect me.”

 

I t was the first time that Baelfire was in such a bad faith, and he knew it, and even if he really felt bad when he saw the painful look his father gave him, he couldn't help but also feel a certain satisfaction as he realized that he hit him just right where it hurt the most.

 

This is what I felt and lived with for centuries papa. Now, it's your turn.

 

He clenched his fists, realizing what he was doing.

 

Oh, bloody hell, being near his father really brought what was worst in him out.

 

“I did this for you ! Not for me. Because I didn't want to be weak anymore, I wanted to protect you ! And because the former Dark One manipulated me, because he wanted me to kill him. I never wanted this power Bae, you have to believe me ! Neal, he corrected immediately, I know it now, I was wrong all along, but now, things are different, I don't have the darkness in me anymore !

 

- Tell me dad, do you have any idea of what it is ? To wake up every night after having a nightmare ? To see almost every night the same scene playing again and again in your head ? To see your father letting you down, and asking yourself again and again the same fucking question ? Why did he abandon me ?

 

- Yes, I do know what it is ! The Sorcerer answered with anger. I lived it too, you know. My father, he abandoned me, but he did it on purpose, while I made a mistake ! I didn't want to do this Neal !”

 

What did his son think exactly ? He wasn't the only one in the family who had been broken because of bad fatherhood !

 

His father was sincere, Neal quickly realized.

 

But again, it was not enough.

 

Maybe it would never be.

 

His father told him how sorry he was, and yes, Neal wanted to forgive him, just as much as he wanted to be able to forgive Hook, or his mother, because he loved his father, but…

 

He felt like it would not be fair to forgive him now.

 

Yes, it would be painful, but he didn't want his father to be forgiven so easily.

 

He had to wait.

 

So, he left, and his father didn't even try to retain him, knowing it would be totally useless.

 

When he left the room, he saw Emma, who didn't tell him anything, who didn't judge him, and who just took him into her arms.

 

Just then, he began to cry, and he allowed himself to have this thought.

 

I missed you dad…

 

§§§§

 

Some days passed, and none of them tried to do anything to fix the situation, and Emma became rapidly fed up with this.

 

“So, you don't want to talk to him, or to forgive him, and I understand this, but can't the two of you just try to communicate ?

 

- What do you want from me Emma ? You want me to brush it off, to forget everything he did, to forget everything I suffered from ? No Emma, I won't !

 

- You're not the only who suffered all these years Neal ! He did too ! He lived during almost two centuries alone, without you, just because of a single mistake ! And he paid it, trust me ! You have no idea of what he had to go through, just as I have no idea of what you had to go through too… He knows what it is, the loneliness, and you don't know how many people he helped ! He changed ! He became an honorable man !

 

- An honorable man ? Neal repeated, choked. Are you kidding me ? Does an honorable man do what he himself did ? Does an honorable man, as you call him, kill a hero without any valuable reason, as my father did when he killed Beowulf ? No, of course no ! So, please, don't call him this way.”

 

Emma blinked and frowned.

 

Rumple never told her that, and she didn't remember Belle telling her about this.

 

This was something she had to make researches about…

 

So, the princess came back at Belle's house, looking for answers.

 

And she was certainly not disappointed by those she found…

 

When Rumpelstiltskin came back at his castle, Emma almost threw at his face a book he knew too much, on which there was written on the cover something : Once Upon A Time.

 

“You read it ? He asked her.

 

- Not entirely. Just a part I wanted to know things about. With a gesture, she magically opened the book to the page where the information she had searched for were, and the Sorcerer paled. Baelfire told me that you killed Beowulf, except that the book… gives another version of the story. Baelfire killed him, didn't he ?

 

- No, he didn't, Rumpelstiltskin lied, even if all the evidences were just under his eyes. I did.

 

- No, you didn't. You just did what he told you, what he asked you to do, what he ordered you to do. He was a child, and the situation escaped to him… you just tried to protect him from himself… Don't tell me it's not the truth.”

 

He sighed, knowing she was entirely right.

 

“What do you want me to do princess ? To tell this to my son ? Well, I won't.

 

- Why not ? It would show him that you're sincere, and that, even in darkness, your only and most important purpose for you always was to protect him.

 

- Because I don't want him to forgive me because he feels guilty ! This is what will happen if he learns what happened for real. I forbid you to tell him what happened princess.”

 

Emma nodded, and left, ready not to obey to him.

 

Being Rumplestiltskin's former student, she obviously had a great knowledge in magic, and in potions.

 

Him, he knew well how to do potions to make someone forget something ?

 

Well, she was going to do the contrary then !

 

§§§§

 

After she gave him the potion, Emma waited for some seconds, waiting for the result to happen, and then, she saw Neal's eyes open wide with surprise, and he let fall on the ground the cup he was still holding.

 

And then, he realized that, indeed, he had been wrong about a lot of things.

 

“I don't want you to go to see him right now and immediately forgive him, because he once took a good decision, and decided that to protect your was more important than to see you follow the same road as the one he chose… But, Neal… could you just try to think about it ?”

 

Still pale, he nodded, and then, he smiled to her, kissing her with love and tenderness.

 

“Tell me my love… what would I do without you ?

 

She chuckled.

 

- Nothing, I'm afraid.”

 

Some other days passed, and Neal showed himself as the Light Castle, and met Belle for the first time.

 

Rumple gave him a surprised look.

 

“Bae… He whispered, and this time, Neal didn't contradict him. His son was ready to cry, he could see it.

 

- I remember, you know… Emma made me remember what you did. What I did. And she was right. It doesn't erase what you did, of course, but… I think we can try together to fix what was destroyed. And I wanted to tell you dad… I missed you.”

 

When his son embraced him in his arms, all Rumplestiltskin could think about was : Oh, gods, we did it !

 

His two centuries quest was finally over.

 

When he saw how moved his son was to meet his half-brother, Gideon, he told himself that he indeed, definitely did the good choice the day he gave up his dark powers.

 

It definitely worth it.

 

§§§§

 

Some months passed again, and Emma and Neal both reached their eighteen, and one day, Neal came to see her.

 

Now, the father and the son were completely able to talk to each other, and even if Bae still didn't forgive him completely, well, he was beginning to do so.

 

He even allowed him (as well as Belle, Gideon and Emma), to call him Baelfire, when they were alone.

 

So, yes, things were good.

 

One day, he asked his lover :

 

“So, I talked with Belle, my now official step-mother, and she told me that she wanted to travel through the world… And as I know that you love adventures, I wanted to ask you : Emma, would you like to go on an adventures with me, my parents, and my brother ?”

 

(She said yes, of course.)

 

When they came back, they were both twenty-one and got married, and, some time later, they discovered that Emma was pregnant.

 

So, yes, things were good for them.

Chapter Text

Rumpelstiltskin was not even surprised when the other Henry showed up the day where Emma gave birth to the other version of him.

 

“I guess you didn't read in the cards, he told him, amused, that it was going to happen on this precise day ?

 

Henry smiled.

 

- Yes, indeed, in fact, I was helped, he confessed. Being one of the authors of this story (after all, Emma created it with her wish. I just changed some details), it allows me to go whenever I want to in the story. And I wouldn't have missed it for everything else in the world.”

 

The young man already came there during their wedding.

 

“You know, he added, I have a child too… A daughter. Her name is Lucy… She is two years old now. He looked again at his parents, and smiled. It feels really strange, you know, to see yourself be born, this person being you and also not being you at the same time, he said as he saw his parents holding his younger/other him in their arms, their faces radiating with joy, and his smile became even larger. So, here I am, he whispered. I'm born.

 

Rumple chuckled.

 

- Yes, you are, he confirmed.”

 

The two men looked at the scene, knowing it was going to be an important moment.

 

The moment where the two parents would name their baby.

 

Oh, of course, none of them would be really surprised, as, unlike the other, they already knew which name they would choose.

 

Emma sent a look full of love at her baby, and Henry felt like his heart was breaking, because he never got the chance to have this with her. Remembering then that he had this with Regina, and then, with Emma, far more later, and that, obviously, that was the kind of look he must have given to Lucy when she was born.

 

And he smiled.

 

At least, here, in this version of the story, they would be fine.

 

“Well, as you know all, Emma began, me and Neal, we took a long time to figure out which name we would choose…

 

- And in the end, Neal continued, we both think that we found the perfect name for our little boy.

 

- Because I remembered someone, a man, who saved me, a long time ago. His name was Henry.

 

Henry started when he heard this, and his smile came back on his face, and Rumple could have sworn that he saw him discretely wipe a tear falling from his eyes. It was a chance that Emma and Neal didn't know he was here or even who he was.

 

- And, she added, by the way, Henry is also the name of Regina's father, who died not a long time ago, and I wanted to make an homage to him. And she looked at the former queen, who gave her an emotional and moved look, and Henry smiled again.

 

This Henry was not his grand-father here, but yet, the other him would indeed be named after him.

 

When he found back Ella and Lucy in the New Enchanted Forest, Henry smiled.

 

He asked himself what the other him would become one day.

 

Well, he could discover it by going at the end of the book, but he didn't want to.

 

One day, yet, he would know.

 

§§§§

 

Eight years later.

 

Neverland .

 

The pirate gave a surprised and suspicious look to the eternal young man in front of him.

 

His enemy, the person he despised the most in all of the realms, just right after the Crocodile.

 

Peter Pan.

 

Who was apparently ready to leave him alone, in peace, and who wanted to make a deal with him.

 

He raised an eyebrow.

 

Why would he say yes exactly ?

 

The immortal was just a demon, why on hell would he want to make a deal with him ?

 

What do you want exactly ?

 

- The good question would be, the monster answered, what can I offer to you captain ?

 

- Why do you think I would accept anything from you ?”

 

The master of Neverland shrugged nonchalantly.

 

“Well, you already did, didn't you ? As when you abandoned Baelfire to me.”

 

The pirate paled and clenched his fist, not being really pleased to be reminded of this dark moment of his life.

 

“Circumstances were different, he protested.

 

Pan had an ironic smirk.

 

- Yes, of course, he said with irony, because, as this moment, I forced to do it, right ? Oh no, I forgot… you did it willingly.”

 

Then, he had a laugh, and Hook sent him death stares.

 

Oh, how much he wanted to punch this insolent boy in the face !

 

“What do you want ? He repeated with an angry air.

 

- Oh, don't be that tense, the wizard mocked him. This deal is very simple.

 

- Nothing is ever simple with you. Or harmless.

 

- But this time, it is. And it looked like he was telling the pirate the truth. I give you something first, and then, you give to me in return something that I need.

 

- What could you possibly give to me ?

 

- Oh, but captain, the answer is very simple. The only thing you really lack of. Your freedom ! A way to leave Neverland.

 

- Don't you have a way to easily kill the Crocodile too ? He asked him with bad mood, not really wanting to play one of the games of the not really little boy.

 

- Well… no, but I can make you leave this place. This is what you want, no ?”

 

The captain had to admit, he got a point.

 

“Yes, indeed… And then what ? With you, everything has got a price… What do you want from me in return ?”

 

The young man then had another smile.

 

Now, this was going to be interesting.

 

“I need you to work for me… I want you to go in the Enchanted Forest, and search for a boy named Henry… He must be ten years old by now, and I need you to take him back there.

 

- What ? The pirate asked, surprised. Don't you already have someone working for you and doing this, and making your dirty work at your place ? Your Shadow, isn't it its job ?”

 

And then, Killian saw something appear on Pan's face, something he didn't see in him very often : confusion and embarrassment.

 

And maybe that there was fear too, in his eyes, a fear he was trying to hid, but that the pirate perceived really easily, and he smiled internally.

 

What could scare him exactly ?

 

“Well, for a reason I don't really understand, the young man confessed, my Shadow, he said, pointing this one which was just next to him, can't go anymore in another world which is not Neverland. I'm almost sure as hell that something is doing this on me, but I just can't figure out who did this.

 

- I guess it must be me, a voice then said with amusement, coming from the shadows and the darkness of the eternal night of Neverland.”

 

Hook and Pan both turned their heads in the direction from where the voice was coming, and they then saw a man who was not really trying to hid himself from their looks, and who chuckled when they looked at him for the first time, leaving the darkness, and entering into the light.

 

Just in front of them.

 

And Henry Mills then smiled to his great-grand-father, a smile which was everything but warm or welcoming.

 

“What ? Pan asked, surprised. How ? And why ?”

 

The Author continued smiling but answered nothing.

 

Thanks to his status, he had a great power over this world, and there were just tiny details that he could not change (well, that he he decided he would not change. After all, he couldn't change everything at all.), so, it meant also that he could have an impact on the characters themselves.

 

Or on their powers.

 

He already did this on the Black Fairy, just after the Final Battle, and now, it was the turn of his other great-grand-parent.

 

And he was going to like it…

 

Now, the roles were completely reverse, he was the one who had the power, and his great-grand-father was going to be the one who would be helpless.

 

Why ?

 

Oh, for nothing…

 

Just because you tried/will try to take my heart and kill me.

 

Detail, obviously…

 

“Well, I don't like your methods nor what you intend to do, so, I decided to stop this… And by the way, I'm going to end your reign here too…”

 

And, regarding to the tone of the man, he seemed to be completely serious, and Hook didn't know if he had to be afraid too or not, just as Pan was.

 

Would be this man dangerous for him too ?

 

The unknown man was looking at Pan with rage in his eyes, but with also a deep satisfaction.

 

“By the way captain, I have another deal to propose to you… A deal I hope you will accept…

 

- What is it ?

 

- Let me make Peter Pan disappear, and then, I will make it so you can go back to the Enchanted Forest… I won't help you for your… Crocodile problem, but at least, I won't ask you to do missions for me unlike what he did, he added with despise. So, tell me captain, do we have a deal ?”

 

The look of pure horror which crossed through Pan's face was just enough to make the captain want to choose this option, even if he had doubts about being sure that this man would not trick him later.

 

But, well, it would have been worst with Pan, and at least, this man was giving him a choice.

 

A thing Pan never did.

 

A smirk came on the pirate's face, and Pan immediately understood that he lost.

 

“Indeed, we do.”

 

Pan tried to move, to protest, seeing his fate being decided just under his eyes without him being able to say anything about it, or even against it (but it had been the fate of so much Lost Boys, so, did really Pan have the right to say anything against it ?), but, before he could, Henry made a gesture, and Pan was then surrounded and taken by creepers, which stopped him completely from moving.

 

And Henry gave him a cold and sharp smile.

 

“An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth”, he said, and Killian rapidly realized that the man was certainly talking about something else than what was just happening.

 

Pan's look was puzzled and full of fear, and he tried to move again, but Henry made another gesture, Pan stopped moving, and Hook realized that the man was writing something on a note-book, and the pirate shivered with fear when he saw how powerful this man was.

 

A man powerful enough to reduce to nothing a demon powerful as Peter Pan.

 

(Maybe also powerful enough to kill the Dark One ?)

 

“What kind of wizard are you ? He asked.

 

Henry smiled.

 

- I'm not a wizard… I'm an Author, he added, as if it explained everything. Which was not the case, but Killian felt like he had to accept this as an explanation. So, still ready to let Peter Pan be erased from reality ?

 

The pirate nodded his head, while Pan let escape a gasp of horror.

 

- No ! Please, no, you can't do that ! I didn't have enough time !”

 

Then, Henry's face darkened, and he looked at Peter Pan with true disgust, and Hook really began to be afraid, for some seconds.

 

- Not enough ? NOT ENOUGH ? He yelled. Oh, really ? Nothing was ever enough for you, right ? An abandoned son, a grand-son who had to live a true hell here… And I'm sure I forget a lot of things… I'm sorry Pan, but this is how it ends.”

 

Henry wrote something else, and, some seconds later, Peter Pan disappeared, as if he never existed for real.

 

§§§§

 

“Why did you do that ? Hook asked him, curious.

 

Henry smiled.

 

- You see, captain, you're not the only one seeking for revenge.

 

And, even before he ended his sentence, he already knew what the pirate was going to ask him.

 

- So… you understand me, right ? You know why I'm doing this ?

 

Oh, yes, of course he knew.

 

He was trying to attack his grand-father, after all.

 

There was a despair in the pirate's voice, that Henry knew too well.

 

The one he had when no one believed him about the magic.

 

The one of not being alone, of being understood.

 

It didn't change the fact that Henry was not going to let him attack his grand-father without doing something.

 

- Oh, yes, I do.

 

- Will you help me ?”

 

The despair was still here, the one of a man being on a quest which still didn't end, which took almost all his energy from him, a man who fought for the same thing since centuries and who just wanted his struggle to end.

 

Henry sighed.

 

“Killian… You know I can't…

 

- Why not ?

 

- Because, unlike you, I also did what I did for another purpose, not just to pursue a selfish quest and a personal revenge. I did it to protect my family (my other family, he added in thought.)”

 

Including you .

 

I'm sorry, Henry continued, but I won't help you. I won't try to stop you either, I will just allow you to go to the Enchanted Forest. He took a magic bean from his pocket, and gave it to Hook. That's the only thing I can do for you. But, he added, I can also tell you this. You should give up your revenge captain, that would be the best for you, and for the other.”

 

Hook just turned his head.

 

“No… Sorry kid, but I won't.”

 

Henry shrugged, and then smiled.

 

“Well, at least, I tried, he admitted, before leaving.”

 

He thought about telling him that, in fact, Rumplestiltskin was not the Dark One anymore, but it would have changed nothing, the pirate would have still hated him.

 

And, by the way, if he didn't know that his enemy could now be killed easily, it would just slow him, and it was for the best for everyone.

 

For Henry did hope that Hook could get his redemption, even if in this world, even in different circumstances.

 

In fact, he could have given this one immediately to him, and he looked at his pen, thinking it would have made things much easier, if he decided to use it on him, in order to make him stop from wanting his revenge.

 

But then, he turned his head.

 

He couldn't change him, he couldn't do what Isaac did when he rewrote the story, he had to let him get his free will.

 

Just as he was leaving Neverland and the Wish Realm, he thought about telling them (the other inhabitants of the Enchanted Forest) that Hook was going to come back, before thinking that they could handle him easily.

 

More easily than Fiona or Malcolm, in fact.

 

§§§§

 

Hook was not stupid.

 

He knew that he couldn't just show up in this world, and go to kill his enemy.

 

It would take more time, for sure….

 

He didn't worry.

 

He was used to wait.

 

At first, he decided to leave his crew on their own, and he disguised his identity, not presenting anymore himself as Captain Hook, but just as Killian Jones.

 

After all, after two centuries, except Rumplestiltskin, everyone must have forgotten him, right ?

 

He stopped acting as a pirate, he tried to find a way to blend in with the crowd, which worked pretty well during three or four months.

 

Until he saw Smee again, who gave him a news he certainly didn't expect to hear.

 

Rumplestiltskin was not the Dark One anymore, he was a mortal, with magic, yes, but less difficult to kill than he used to be.

 

(Hook smiled, thinking about the little flask of dream-shade he brought from Neverland, and which would be really useful for him.)

 

He had taken off his hook, putting a prosthetic hand at its place, and now, he was completely ready to pursue his revenge and kill the Crocodile.

 

He tried to ignore the little voice in his voice telling him that it was not the good way, a voice which looked too much like Baelfire's.

 

The young man was now long gone, and if he was not, well he hated him, so why would he care about what he thought ?

 

Why would he care about him at all ?

 

(Indeed, he was lying to himself.

 

Of course.

 

Of course, he still cared.

 

He would never stop caring about him, even if the young man made him clearly understand how much he hated him.

 

Hook never told him this : that is to say, how much he hated himself too.

 

And obviously, he never told him too how much he loved him.

 

Love was not for him anymore, not after what happened to Milah.

 

Now, all he had was just a broken heart, a hatred which would never stop being in him, and a rage which had to explode against the main responsible.

 

That's it.

 

That's all.

 

Really ?)

 

He tried to chase the growing feeling of guilt he had in him, just preparing himself for his next mission.

 

To find a way to infiltrate the court, and then, to be present one day where the Crocodile would be there too, as this one apparently became the official Sorcerer of the court.

 

(The Sorcerer… the fucking Sorcerer of the entire kingdom ! Him, the former Dark One, working for royals ! What a joke ! Hook couldn't believe it was true, but apparently it was.)

 

He would pretend, if he was recognized, that he stopped wanting revenge, that he moved on.

 

After all, people could change in two centuries.

 

The crocodile himself did it, so, it would not too hard for them to believe his story.

 

Even for the few who may knew the tale of the pirate wanting to avenge his beloved's death, as the loss of his hand.

 

(Himself could almost believe it.)

 

And then, he would kill him, with his dream-shade, when the wizard would expect it the less.

 

Simple, quick, efficient.

 

The pirate had no idea that there would be two obstacles on his quest for revenge.

 

These two obstacles being, obviously, Neal Cassidy and princess Emma.

 

(One day, Killian would understand what Henry tried to tell him.

 

But it would not be for this day.)

Chapter Text

Author's note : Pre-Hookfire, Pre-CaptainSwan, Pre- CaptainFireSwan in this chapter ! And also pre-poly, of course !

 

Hook was not going to lie to himself. His first contact with the world of the court of the Enchanted Forest (well, in Snow White's kingdom especially) was a great disappointment.

 

(Concerning his revenge itself, about other subjects, he had real reasons of contentment.)

 

He knew he shouldn't have excepted the story to end at his first apparition at some ball, to see the Crocodile, and then just to kill him some hours later, he was not that naive.

 

But it would also be a lie to pretend that he didn't expect and hope that it could happen.

 

After all, he was waiting for his revenge to be accomplished since two hundreds bloody fucking years ! Couldn't all of this mess just end right now ?

 

Well, apparently, no.

 

He was not especially the kind of man who liked going to balls, well, the truth was that… he never was a royal. It was not really his job.

 

He never really had time to go to a ball, or even proper reasons to do so. He never got the chance/possibility/desire to go to it. It was the first time he did.

 

The pirate couldn't really say that balls were annoying, because, hell, he was here since only thirteen minutes, but it was not really that interesting.

 

Luckily, no one seemed to know who he really was, and he first noticed the fact that there were not only royals but also commoners at this ball, in fact, it was the reason why it had been that easy to come there.

 

No one paid attention to him, because here, in this kingdom, it was something really common and normal that people like him, normal and not noble one, were here.

 

He looked around him and smiled.

 

Despite the fact that the Crocodile was not here, and that his revenge risked to take even more time, he realized that he was going to really like this kingdom.

 

It had nothing to do with the one where him and his brother used to live, as when they were on Silver's boat, or as members of the navy, a kingdom where the injustice was everywhere.

 

An injustice he not always saw at this time, being most of the time protected by his older brother, this one being more aware than him about how cruel and ugly the world could be.

 

Always was.

 

But now, as he was in this world, back in the Enchanted Forest, in this kingdom he didn't know before coming back, seeing this realm being ruled by good, competent and benevolent people, he realized how terrible the world was when he was living in it, before going to Neverland (when he was a pirate, and with Milah, he never cared about how terrible the world was. In fact, he was even participating to this one, to this horror.)

 

As he was wandering through the crowd, he remarked something else which pleased him.

 

The people dancing together… well, these people were not just men and women.

 

He saw a lot of different couples, which could made of a man and a woman, yes, but sometimes it was also two women or two men.

 

He remembered that, in his world, it was very rare to see two people of the same sex being together together, in public, at least, and he was amazed to see that here, it was something would could be very frequent.

 

Killian Jones was not really known as being bisexual, because indeed, he flirted/slept most of the time with women, and it was not really something he could really show to people, at the time where he was in the Enchanted Forest.

 

His crew knew, Milah knew too, when she was still alive, his brother used to know as well, but that was all.

 

It was not something he really hid, but he didn't really show it too much rather.

 

So, yes, a part of him liked the fact that this kingdom seemed to be much more tolerant than the one he used to be in, a long time ago.

 

§§§§

 

Hook had no idea of the reason why there was a ball, and in fact, he didn't care.

 

Had he been more aware of it, he would have known that it had been organized in order to celebrate prince Henry's eight birthday.

 

Rumplestiltskin, being the prince's grand-father, could surely have been here, except that he was not either the kind of person going to balls, and especially because he already celebrated it with his grand-son, before the beginning of the party.

 

So, he was now at his castle, with his family, preparing his son's departure to the academy Elphame, where he had just been accepted, being now eighteen years old.

 

He kept wandering in the crowd, seeing two other women dancing together, Grace and Gretel, and he then had an annoyed sigh.

 

Yes, there was nothing really interesting here.

 

But it was going to change soon.

 

Indeed, as he was still looking at those who were around him, without being himself really seen or remarked, his eyes caught one couple in particular.

 

A man and a woman, dancing together, and who looked really happy together.

 

(Of course a part of him wanted immediately to ruin it.

 

Old habits die hard…

 

He was a pirate, after all, it was what he did, ruining things and people.)

 

He noticed him first. A man he was sure he never saw, and who was completely his type. Just as was the woman dancing with him.

 

So, yes, he thought, this evening was going to turn out being more interesting than he thought it would be.

 

The music stopped, as well as the dance itself, and the pirate had a smile, walking in their direction, being still as discrete as he was before.

 

They were talking together, surrounding a little boy, apparently their son, and the young man's smile then faded, as he realized that, indeed, they seemed to be together.

 

And he shrugged.

 

Well, it was not as if they were really important for him, right ?

 

He left the place, not knowing that he had been briefly seen by the man.

 

As he saw someone leave the place, Neal frowned, thinking he already saw him somewhere, except that…

 

That couldn't be him

 

A light panic began to appear in him, before he rationalized this.

 

It couldn't be him.

 

He must have dreamed, right ?

 

Yes, of course.

 

§§§§

 

The only thing which mattered for Hook was to kill the Crocodile.

 

Who he saw at the ball, who was who at the court, who were the rulers, the royals, the princes and the princesses, the commoners, the members of the crowds, the peasants, the knights, the sorcerers, etc…

 

Well, he clearly didn't care about it at all.

 

In fact, he finally learned after some weeks that the people's names, those he saw and remarked, were Emma and Neal Cassidy, but he didn't know that they were the legitimate heirs of the kingdom.

 

It was not something he cared about after all, in fact, he cared more about themselves than about knowing who they might be.

 

Helped by his crew, he succeeded to find a place at the court, and he successfully infiltrated this one.

 

There was just one problem.

 

The Crocodile still hadn't showed up, not even one time, at the court, and the pirate was becoming really frustrated of it.

 

Killian felt like time was running, and like he was really losing time, and he didn't like it.

 

It had been since already three weeks that he was now frequently going at the court, still hiding himself, and he was still waiting for something to happen, and which would allow him to finally achieve his revenge.

 

His flask and his hook were already ready, he was just waiting for an occasion.

 

The thing he didn't know, was that the Sorcerer had a really good reason of not being there, and it had nothing to do with him.

 

(Which was logical, as Rumple as no idea that his sworn enemy was back.)

 

Him and his wife had left not a long time ago, after their son left them, in order to go at his academy, and they were travelling right now in Arendelle, wanting both to know more things about Elsa's and Marian's kingdom (and it would also allow them to see their friends again).

 

They would not be back before a time, a thing that, obviously, Hook still ignored.

 

Being obsessed by his enemy for more than two centuries, he now needed a new obsession, being this time represented by this couple he saw any time he came at the court.

 

And, after observing them for three entire weeks, he realized he wanted this to stop, that he wanted them to see him.

 

Because now, he had nothing else to do, as he couldn't get his revenge rapidly enough, he was feeling more and more bored, and he needed a distraction.

 

And according to him, they were the perfect one.

 

He of course didn't realize that Neal was in reality Baelfire, even if, seeing the grown-up man in front of him almost every day, he couldn't help but think about the boy he looked after all those years ago.

 

But indeed, he rapidly left it out.

 

And one day, he showed up himself right into the light.

 

§§§§

 

The first time Neal Cassidy saw again Killian Jones, he thought he was going to die.

 

Because he was living a true nightmare, something he hoped would never happen, not a new time, and… oh, bloody hell, was he cursed ?

 

Because all the memories he tried so much to bury and hid in himself, were suddenly, brutally and without any warning, coming back at the surface.

 

And he hated this.

 

Killian Jones was here, was back.

 

As well as all the feelings he used to have for him, and that he tried to erase and deny.

 

It was such a failure…

 

As he looked at him again, all of this came back in him, all these things the pirate used to make him feel, and rage burned again in his veins, as it used to be.

 

He was stuck between anger and love, and he didn't know which one to choose, which one to feel.

 

He was just completely confused.

 

As when he was aboard the Jolly Roger, just after Hook's betrayal.

 

Emma looked at her husband, and she frowned, worried, but then, Neal put back on his face the mask he was wearing when he was trying not to show the fact that he was hurt, a mask he usually didn't wear anymore.

 

But, as the pirate himself, this pain was coming back, and hell, did it hurt !

 

He realized he couldn't do it, that he couldn't see him anymore, and he left.

 

But, even by not seeing him, the pain was still here, and he felt like he was falling, like his heart was stopping, and like his world was falling around him.

 

His breath stopped.

 

The only reason why he came back in the inside, he tried to convince himself, was because he didn't want the pirate to talk to his wife.

 

(Oh, how far is the time where he could easily lie to himself.)

 

When he entered again, he saw the pirate look at him, and the former Lost Boy felt his heart beat faster, and he tried to fake knowing the reason why.

 

He is the man he used to love, he is the man who used to take care of him, he is…

 

He is the man who wants to kill your father , a little perfidious voice whispered at his ear, and he felt like a dagger had been directly plunged into his heart.

 

Yes, it was true.

 

He didn't have to forget it.

 

And he didn't know what to do.

 

To tell the other who the pirate was ? Or to shut up, and just wait to see what would happen ? He had no idea since how many times he was back in the Enchanted Forest, but for sure, it was not since a really long time, and obviously, no one there knew who he was.

 

He decided he would wait, at first.

 

It would depend on how the pirate would act toward him.

 

But then, there is something strange that he remarks.

 

The pirate is not looking at Emma, as he first feared it could happen, or at any woman in the room.

 

He was looking at him .

 

The pirate was looking at him, Neal Cassidy, in a way he never looked at Baelfire.

 

And it scared him as hell.

 

And Baelfire, well… Baelfire had no idea of what to do about it.

 

There were not a lot of women in Neverland, or well, not that they saw really often, and by the way, Hook never flirted with one of them in front of him.

 

So, he never saw Hook flirt with anyone, and he didn't really know if he was right about Hook's look on him.

 

W hen the pirate approached him, he decided that he wouldn't flee.

 

It was the first time he really saw him since more or less two centuries, so it was as with his father, he needed time to adapt and reconnect with himself.

 

Except that it was less worst than with his father, because the violent encounter with his father had already passed, and he had the emotional talk with him that he needed so much to have, and which would be able to allow him to make peace with him.

 

And with himself, and by extension, with the captain.

 

Because, obviously, if he could forgive his father for murdering his mother, well, he could also forgive the pirate for his lies, his abandonment, and his betrayal.

 

Which didn't mean forgive him for still wanting to kill his father, of course.

 

§§§§

 

He hadn't recognized him.

 

Neal didn't know if he had to feel relieved or offended by this, but, when he answered to the captain's “hello”, he tried to keep his tone as neutral as possible.

 

He stayed tense, being conflicted between two things : wanting him to leave and not wanting him to go as well.

 

Well, to say it clearer, he was lost.

 

“And who are you exactly ? Neal asked him, asking himself if the pirate was going or not to acknowledge who he really was, and if no, how he would lie to him.

 

The other man smiled.

 

- Well… if I told you, the mystery would completely disappear, the pirate answered.

 

He tried as much as he could not to smile at this.

 

Alright, he had to admit it, the pirate was good at it.

 

- It looks like you have something to hid, he replied, wanting deliberately to drive the pirate into a corner. And play with him, as he exactly knew what the pirate wanted so desperately to hid.”

 

This last one paled and started a little, and Baelfire had not been that observant, he wouldn't even have noticed he did, but it didn't last long, and the pirate rapidly smiled, trying to hid the fact that Neal obviously got a point.

 

“Everyone has secrets, he said with a charming smile. Or something to hid.

 

- I won't contradict you on this point, Neal admitted, remembering that he was right now hiding his true identity to him.

 

- So, I guess you won't tell me who you are either… Except your name, I know nothing of you too.

 

- And so do I, Neal responded.

 

- Then, for me, you will just be the charming man of the court I met by chance.”

 

Neal rolled his eyes.

 

Subtlety, where are you ?

 

He tried not to blush, realizing that he had been right all along, since the first moment the other man talked to him.

 

He was flirting with him.

 

And strangely, he didn't want this to stop.

 

They continued talking together, and the more they did, the more charming Hook was with him, and the more Neal realized that he had to stop it.

 

Now.

 

But a part of him didn't want this to happen.

 

Because, as he was talking with him, trying to hid how troubled he was to see him again, as he was smiling to him, laughing, he was feeling something new, something strange, that he usually just felt with Emma.

 

With him, he was feeling like he was wanted.

 

Except with Emma, his actual friends, or the Darling, he never felt like someone ever wanted him, because of course, almost everyone abandoned him in the past.

 

His mother.

 

His father.

 

And obviously…

 

Hook himself.

 

But now… things seemed to be different, it looked like Hook really wanted him, and the young adolescent he kind of still was, and who deeply buried in him, was desperately screaming to him to never let him go.

 

And, of course, he was not going to let it happen.

 

Well, as much as he could, of course.

 

He was not infallible, after all.

 

But, by the way, he also knew perfectly that all of this meant nothing, that nothing was going to come from this or to happen between them. Because he was sure as hell that the pirate was not interested enough by him to make it become something more than what it was just now : a flirt.

 

And also because, of course… there was Emma.

 

Emma, his wife, the mother of his son, who he still loved deeply despite the years, as if he was still the fourteen years old boy who fell in love with a princess.

 

He didn't intend to cheat on his wife, and for sure, this was a flirt, but it was nothing more than that, there would be no consequences, and he knew it.

 

He had to make it stop.

 

“You know, he finally said, I'm a married man.

 

- Oh, yes, I already know this, the pirate answered with a devilish smile. So, what ?”

 

Neal blinked.

 

Didn't the pirate see where the problem was ?

 

Oh yes, it's true, he forgot it, he was the one who left with someone's else wife.

 

“Adultery is not really my thing, he frankly said.”

 

Killian could not help but smile again, and the two men both knew what he was thinking.

 

The fact that, after all, he didn't say this : men are not my thing.

 

“So what ? The pirate just repeated.

 

Neal smiled to him, and Hook's heart stopped for some seconds. It had been since so much time (well, since Milah, in fact) that he hadn't really flirted with someone, that he didn't even know just how to react.

 

And he had kept in mind that Neal had not rejected him.

 

But there was sadness in the other man's eyes.

 

“You should stop this Killian, the former Lost Boy affirmed, even if this decision seemed to cost him a lot.

 

He shrugged.

 

“You see… it doesn't become something that terrible if your wife agrees with this. He didn't know how to talk about this easily. What he wanted to ask was something quite… delicate to broach. And by the way, he added, it doesn't disturb me if your wife wants to play a part in it.”

 

Neal started, sincerely surprised by the proposition, which was terribly weird, but he didn't look at him with astonishment, or with a choked look.

 

(The pirate tried not to get a too suggestive smile. )

 

He just rolled his eyes.

 

Poly-amorous relationships, just for a night or in a marriage, were not a thing he knew really well, but it was not completely unknown to him.

 

He lived around Mulan, Aurora and Philip enough time to know that three people in a relationship could really love each other, so yes, this proposition didn't shock him too much.

 

(He asked himself if Hook already got something like that with his mother, and a great wave of inexplicable jealousy immediately hit him violently.)

 

But it was not something that Hook was proposing to him, for sure, it would be just for a night.

 

“It's the first time we talk together, he lied, and you're already talking to me about that. Aren't you a little crazy ?”

 

This time, the pirate's smile became suggestive.

 

In fact, he didn't know himself the reason why he said this, indeed, he felt this attraction toward both Neal and Emma the second he saw them, and he had the feeling that, if he talked with Emma as he talked with Neal, he would feel again the same connection.

 

“Well, he said, shrugging again, I think I like you, he confessed.”

 

Neal tried to contain his happy smile, a smile also being a painful smile, hurt as he was by the fact that it had to be the end of it, now.

 

Because he knew it would not end well, because indeed, a relationship with the two of them, a one night stand or something more durable, the thing is that, well… it would be the worst idea ever.

 

Pleasant one, yes, but not good.

 

He didn't want as well his feelings for Hook to come back, a thing which would happen if he stayed too much close to him too much time.

 

And he didn't want Hook to break his heart again.

 

“I personally don't, Neal lied, trying to ignore the boy's voice in his head, his own voice, imploring him not to do this.”

 

Hook looked at him, surprised and astonished, driven mute by the surprise, not understanding what was happening to him. Because, it was not as if Neal hadn't been receptive before.

 

Except that now, his tone was cold, sharp, hurtful, and Neal couldn't say that it was not a revenge for what the pirate did to him.

 

And of course, it was also a way to protect himself.

 

To hurt, before being hurt.

 

“Goodbye, capt… he almost said, before saying something else… Killian.”

 

It was cruel, brutal, incomprehensible.

 

(Just like what Hook did to him all those years ago.)

 

And it was just what he deserved.

 

Before turning back, he added : “By the way… stay away from my wife.”

 

He was stupid, he realized, he was irrational, he understood it too, but he needed to hurt him the most he could.

 

When he left, he tried to ignore the little voice in his head which was screaming at him that he was doing a terrible mistake.

 

As he did, he could not help but realize that now, he was so fucked up.

 

§§§§

 

It made no sense.

 

Emma had followed the scene from another place, hearing none of it, and she hadn't understood any moment of it either.

 

She had seen her husband talk with a really cute and handsome man, that she already more or less glimpsed before, sometimes. She had looked at them, who were talking, and yes, the smiles they were both having were… flirtatious, to say the least.

 

A man was flirting with her husband.

 

A wave of jealousy naturally crossed trough her, and then, she realized that she didn't really know what to feel about it.

 

Then, she caught someone present at the party and tried to get some information about this mysterious man no one seemed to really know.

 

(Well, had they asked the Sorcerer about him, they would have immediately knew the entire truth…

 

Except that Rumplestiltskin just came back from his trip some hours ago with his wife, and that he was not really in the good form to go to somewhere else than in his bed, and sleep in it.)

 

She got almost nothing, and she looked with frustration at the two men, suddenly seeing Neal's as Hook's look change, the first one being suddenly really sharp and cold, the second being surprised, confused and hurt.

 

Neal left rapidly the room, before Emma could catch him and ask him what the hell was going on.

 

She looked at the stranger, and she felt a strange urge to go to comfort him, even if she still had no idea of who he was, and even if he quite flirted with her husband in front of her eyes (even if he didn't know about this part.), and she went into his direction.

 

And she settled herself in front of him, folding her arms, determination radiating from her face and her body.

 

She needed explanations, and she was going to get them !

 

§§§§

 

He would get over it, he decided very quickly.

 

After all, he tried to convince himself, it was just a random man he just met this day, right ?

 

But a part of him knew it was not true.

 

Trying to hid the fact that he was indeed affected by this more than he wanted to admit, he took a glass of wine in his hand (there was no rum, obviously.

 

What a shame !) and began to drink it.

 

When he saw the blond woman go into his direction, he raised an eyebrow, surprised, and put back his glass on the table next to him.

 

He recognized her, of course, and he thought about Neal again.

 

His wife, of course , he thought, and jealousy hit him violently and painfully.

 

 

What a lucky woman…

 

And what a lucky man also, he added in his thought s .

 

The more he thought about it, the more he thought that his idea was not that bad…

 

Too bad that Neal didn't accept this one.

 

It was not like Neal refused immediately, and obviously, he would have accepted a refusal, he would have understood .

 

But it didn't happen this way.

 

Princess Emma was not the only one who needed answers to her questions…

Chapter Text

Emma was the first one to begin.

 

“So, could you tell me who you are and why you were flirting with my husband and why he left ?

 

- My name is Killian Jones, and… I flirted with him because I'm interested by him, I thought it was pretty obvious.”

 

Emma raised a surprised eyebrow (noticing that he hadn't answered to the third question.)

 

Well, at least, he was not denying the fact that he did.

 

“You flirted with him, knowing he was a married man ?

 

- Yes, of course, he told me. You don't have to worry madam, he is an honest man, as far as I know it.

 

Yes, I know, she thought with a proud smile.

 

She knew he wouldn't cheat on her. She knew he loved her.

 

The princess asked herself if the man knew who they really were, and realized that if it was not the case – as it seemed it was – she didn't care at all.

 

That would make it more fun, if he didn't know that he just flirted with one of the heirs of the throne, without knowing his real identity – the fun being in him realizing this.

 

He continued to talk, with a devilish, charming and flirting smile.

 

- You know, if you're jealous of it – and him – I could flirt with you, if you want me to. That wouldn't be a problem for me. That would be an honor and a great joy.”

 

Emma couldn't help but get an amused smile, being very proud of herself for not blushing at the remark.

 

Charmer.

 

Smooth talker, she thought.

 

Alright, she told herself, Neal had decided to play his game, and so would she.

 

She needed to get some fun this time, to decompress, to do something which would lead to no consequences, as they would just be talking.

 

Nothing else, nothing more.

 

“I am myself a married woman, she said with a mocking tone to the pirate. Do you want my husband to get jealous ? Or what ? You couldn't get the first one, so you fall back on the second one ?

 

- Of course no, love, the pirate said, with a terribly serious air, using again the little name he gave to almost every woman he saw, I would not dare consider you as a second choice.”

 

Despite her own will, Emma's heart made a jump in her chest.

 

She was not a teenager anymore, she was a grown up woman of thirty-two years, who was married, and who had a child, she was not the kind of person who could fall in the pirate's trick, it's true.

 

But it looked like the pirate meant it, it looked like it was not a game anymore.

 

And she didn't know what to feel about it.

 

She didn't know what she wanted.

 

She didn't know if he was sincere or not.

 

“Tell me the truth, by who are you really interested ?”

 

She should have left, and she knew it, but she wanted to know.

 

She should have looked after her husband, but this mysterious man was intriguing her too much, and she couldn't go, not without knowing the truth.

 

It was not a game anymore.

 

Are you interested by anyone in the two of us ? Should have been her question, she rapidly realized, but it was too late.

 

He smiled again, and despite his joyous air, Emma perceived in his eyes a sadness and a pain she didn't see before, because it was hidden too well by him, but now, she was seeing it.

 

And she felt bad for him, not knowing the reason why.

 

There was something strange in him.

 

“Both of you, of course ! I have been observing you for the past weeks, he admitted, and so, here I am !”

 

He continued to talk, and the more he did, the more Emma understood what the man meant.

 

Oh… okay.

 

She certainly didn't expect this, and it had nothing to do with Aurora's, Mulan's and Phillip's relationship.

 

So… He meant this.

 

(Oh, bloody hell, why was she not able to put words on this ?)

 

“A night with the two of us… So, a three-way… Are you a masochist, Mr Jones ?”

 

He blinked, not understanding what she meant.

 

“Hum, no, love… Well, I don't think so… Why ?

 

- Because I could completely hit you right now for your suggestion. Or punch you in the face, or in another place, if I wanted to. She had a sadistic smile when she saw the pirate's face become livid. By the way, I don't care about it, I want you to answer the question you didn't answer to earlier. Why did my husband leave you ?”

 

He shrugged.

 

“I told him he interested me, he said it was not his case, and he left. That's it.

 

- Alright, so, I agree with him, so please, leave us alone Mr Jones, and goodbye.”

 

And she left into her room, while the pirate stayed alone.

 

He frowned with surprise when, some seconds later, he saw Smee come just next to him.

 

“Captain, he said with a loud voice, and he lowered his voice when the other man sent him death stares. Luckily, no one was around them, so he was not heard by other. I have something to tell you.

 

- What is it ?

 

- Do you have any idea of who are the people you talked with ?

 

- No, and I don't care.

 

- They are important people here captain, Smee insisted. Princess Emma, and her husband, Neal Cassidy.”

 

A strange light appeared in the pirate's eyes.

 

Oh… a prince and a princess ?

 

That was making things even more interesting.

 

And, who knows, maybe that he could get some information from them about the former Dark One.

 

§§§§

 

When Emma found Neal in their bedroom, he still hadn't calmed down.

 

Now that he was alone, far from the pirate, he had time for himself, he could analyze himself, he could know what he was feeling.

 

And it was really simple.

 

He was terrified.

 

Hook, Killian fucking Jones was here, was back, in his life, and he was terrified.

 

Because his old feelings were coming back.

 

Hatred, anger, sadness, but something else, other one that he would have wanted to bury deeply in himself and never feel again, never talk about. anymore

 

Hope, love, desire to be loved, and he knew he already had it with Emma, but he couldn't deny the fact that his past feelings for the pirate were as strong as they used to be.

 

And he hated himself so much for this.

 

Emma entered, and she saw him, his fists clenched so much that his articulations were now really pale, and there was a light in his eyes that she never saw in them…

 

A one like in the other man's eyes, she realized.

 

“I saw you with him, you know, she began, calmly. He did it to me too, you know… he tried to flirt with me. I guess it was more a game for him than something more serious… He proposed me something that I refused, of course, a thing I guess he proposed to you too. Why did you leave ?

 

- Tell me, he asked her, trying to contain his rage, what do you know about him ?

 

- Nothing… His name is Killian Jones and he really seems to be a strange man. And he likes to flirt. Maybe too much. With unknown people. And that's all.

 

He sniggered.

 

She didn't know.

 

Oh, of course she didn't know, of course he didn't tell her he was a pirate.

 

- Yes, he whistled with rage. Killian Jones, he said with an anger which was just too much great to be just against someone he just met.

 

And she understood the truth, the same way she understood that Rumpelstiltskin was his father.

 

- You know him… She whispered with surprise and astonishment.

 

- Indeed… How could I forget this pirate ? He said with despise.

 

- Wait, pirate ? He is a pirate ? But how… how did no one notice it ?”

 

Neal shrugged.

 

“I guess he hid his identity…

 

- When you say pirate… do you mean one of those who were in Neverland ? The one who taught you what you know about sailing ?

 

He nodded.

 

- This is him… the captain of the Jolly Roger… the one with who my mother left, and the one who had his hand cut by my father.”

 

Emma then formed an O of surprise and understanding with her mouth.

 

“Oh… I see… I think… Do you think he recognized you ? She asked him with worry.

 

- No… certainly not. If he did, he wouldn't have tried to flirt with me.

 

There was something strange in his voice, which made Emma frown.

 

Was it… regret ?

 

No, no, it couldn't be.

 

- And, he continued, I don't think it's the most important thing here… The problem is what he wants to do. You see, I never told you the reason why I stopped trusting him.

 

Emma sat down, understanding it would be a long talk.

 

- I told you that my mother abandoned me, as my father did later… I never told you where she went. She went on the sea, wanting to discover the world, while my father didn't want to leave the village… She fled with pirates, with Killian Jones. Years later, after he abandoned me, my father found them back. My father told me that they had with them a magic bean, and it would help him to find me back, but… when he realized my mom was alive, and that she hadn't been kidnapped by the pirates, as he thought she was… He killed her. And cut Hook's hand.

 

Hook swore he would get revenge on him and kill him one day. When I ended in Neverland, I didn't know this… I trusted Hook, because he saved my life, but when I found on his desk a drawing of my mother, and when he told me she abandoned me… Well, I already told you the rest…”

 

Emma sighed.

 

Oh, yes, it would be a long, long conversation.

 

They were so invested in this that they even didn't think anymore about the fact that the man had been trying to flirt with both of them not a long time ago.

 

§§§§

 

Some minutes after, Emma then added.

 

“You have to tell my father about this. And yours too. Your father is still a powerful sorcerer, but he is not immortal anymore, so Hook could find a way to kill him. He has to protect himself against him, and by the way, we could talk with him about that, after all, he is the first concerned here, with you, obviously.

 

He nodded absently.

 

- And… she said then… are you sure he still wants to kill your father ? I don't know, maybe he has changed… As your father did. You didn't see him since two complete centuries, so… Why not ?

 

- You want to know why I am sure he didn't Emma ? Because of the last thing he told me when I left his boat. “Thank you ! For reminding me what I'm all about… killing your father !”

 

He had an air of absolute sadness on his face as he was saying these words he never fogot.

 

Emma didn't try to contradict him, regarding to how angry he seemed to be.

 

The day after, Neal and Emma came both to see David, Rumplestiltskin, Belle and Snow White, in order to tell them about the “Killian Jones aka Hook problem” and also to try to find a way to solve this.

 

David got a serious and preoccupied air on his face, as well as the other people of the room.

 

“So, he began, summarizing the situation, we have got since weeks, even months, a pirate in our realm, in our court, and no one ever noticed it ?

 

- Yes, your majesty, Neal answered. He hid himself very well, that's it. Except me and my father, no one knows him anymore, or how he looks like, and as he didn't use his nickname…”

 

Rumpelstiltskin was not even surprised. He knew that one day, this day would come.

 

The day where he would have to fight the pirate, again.

 

Before, he would have killed him with great joy, but now, things were different.

 

He had changed, and he knew that the pirate became who he was now in part because of him.

 

It was the time for him to fix his past mistakes and crimes.

 

“And, the king continued, the only thing he wants, is to kill your father.

 

- Indeed.

 

- Would he be ready to do everything in order to succeed ?

 

- I'm afraid so, Neal affirmed. He is a pirate, and so, he is a criminal.

 

- What do you think about it ? He asked to the assistance, especially to Rumple and Neal, who were the one who knew the pirate the most.

 

- You should arrest him immediately, Neal said, more because of his anger against the pirate than because this one was a real danger for the realm. After all, he still hadn't made anything wrong since he came back.

 

- I don't agree with this, the Sorcerer said.”

 

Neal looked at him with astonishment.

 

“What ? But papa, he wants to kill you !

 

- Because I cut his hand and killed the woman he loved. I am the one who made him the way he is. I am the one who first began the hostilities. I am the monster in the story.

 

- So what ? What do we do ? Asked Snow White, worried.

 

- We can ask him what he wants to do now, Emma answered.

 

- He will lie, Neal affirmed.

 

- Maybe, his wife said. Maybe not. At least, he will know that we know, and so, if he wants to kill your father, he will be more careful.

 

- I can't believe you're saying that ! Neal almost screamed, looking at Emma. I can't believe you're decided to let him here !

 

- If I changed, he can, his father contradicted him immediately. But I think I will hid myself for a time, so we can be sure that there is no danger for me to be not far from him.”

 

The former Lost Boy looked at them with a hurt air.

 

“So… this is what you all want ? Him to stay there, this pirate to be free ? Really ?

 

Snow and David seemed to be skeptical about it, but well, they now trusted the former Evil Queen, so, why not ?

 

Belle was like her husband, she thought that the pirate could change.

 

When no one answered to him, Neal decided to leave.

 

Emma sighed, and said to Belle :

 

“This is not a good idea Belle… He hates him too much to forgive him… Strangely, I think it's worst than with his father.

 

- No Emma, you don't understand… In his eyes, when he talks about the pirate… it's not hatred. It's anger. And I think that…

 

- What ?

 

- I think that, to be that angry against him, even after all this time… he must have loved him a lot.”

 

It looked like Belle's remark had made Emma understand something she didn't see before.

 

“So that's the reason why… she whispered to herself. I'm sorry Belle, but I have to go.”

 

When she entered in their bedroom (again), she just took him in her arms.

 

“You loved him didn't you ?”

 

He didn't answer, but she knew she was right.

 

He chuckled sadly.

 

“You know… it would be easier, if I hated him…

 

- We will ask him if he still wants to kill your father… you won't have to talk, if you don't want to.”

 

§§§§

 

Hook knew that, one day, people would know who he was.

 

He was himself surprised that he had not been discovered more soon.

 

The truth is that, when he received a message telling him that he was supposed to go into the throne room, in order to see the queen, the king, the princess, her husband and another person he didn't know, he didn't really know what to expect.

 

At first, he thought it was because of the fact that he flirted with not one, but two royals, married one, on the top of it.

 

But it was certainly not about that that he had been called by them.

 

They knew.

 

Oh, of course they knew !

 

He was lucky enough that they didn't put him immediately in prison for being a pirate the second they knew he was one.

 

When they asked him if he really was the pirate named Killian Jones, and also known under the name of Captain Hook, he had a smile which looked more like a grin.

 

“Yes, this is me, he confessed, knowing that lying would be useless and absurd, because they already knew.”

 

When he looked at the assistance in front of him, he discovered with surprise that there was only one person who was looking at him with despise : Neal. At first, the pirate thought that it was just contempt, disdain, but it was rather anger.

 

But not disappointment, as if Neal was not surprised of learning who he really was.

 

As if he himself already knew it since a long, long time.

 

It was like he had felt that there was something deeply wrong, bad and dark in him.

 

Hook turned his head.

 

It was just an impression, nothing else.

 

Neal couldn't have known it before, right ?

 

No one else was looking at him in a strange way, and it was understandable.

 

After all, except Emma, Snow and Belle, none of them was born a royal, and Snow had been a bandit, for a time.

 

“The fact that you are or used to be a pirate is not the problem here, the queen then said. You're behaving well, since you came back from Neverland, as I learned it. And at this moment, the pirate understood how many things they knew about him. The problem is that, as we heard it, you're ready to kill the Sorcerer, Rumpelstiltskin, who used to be the Dark One, and who is your sworn enemy. Is it correct ?

 

Hook started.

 

- How did you learn who I was and from where I was coming ?”

 

He was hoping that it was coming from Baelfire, and that this one was back in his world too.

 

But then, he let this hope disappear.

 

Because, after all, why would Baelfire want to see him again ?

 

“Rumplestiltskin saw you one day, David lied, and a member of your crew told to someone from where he was coming, so this is how we figured out from where you were going.”

 

Hook nodded.

 

“Alright, alright… I used to want this. But I changed, he lied. He clenched his fist and bit his tongue, trying not to show his anger resurfacing again, as he thought about his enemy. I gave up my revenge, he affirmed.

 

- Why would we believe you ? The king asked, suspicious.”

 

Oh please, he thought, stop asking questions, and just let me lead my revenge in peace.

 

“Why do you care about it exactly ? The pirate asked, more angry than he should have been.

 

But, before the king had enough time to answer, the princess asked him :

 

- There is something I wanted to know, captain… Why did you become a pirate ?”

 

The pirate gave her a look which was full of sadness, and it looked like that, for some seconds, the mask of the charming pirate that he was always wearing was falling apart.

 

He tried to smile.

 

“This is the first relevant question which was asked during this day, princess, he answered, ironic. He knew he had to tell them the truth if he wanted to be trust by them, if he wanted to pursue his revenge, no matter how much it would hurt to think about Liam again. I was a lieutenant, in the Navy, a long time ago, along with my brother. We were working for the king of our country, who sent us in another country, another realm, named Neverland, where there was a plant which could be a cure for people, or so he said, he added with a sarcastic tone.

 

(Hadn't he been a pirate of two centuries years old who could contain his emotions, he was sure as hell that he would have cried.)

 

- This plant was called dream-shade, he finally added.

 

He didn't miss the way Neal Cassidy became pale as he heard this name. So, yes, this man knew things about Neverland.

 

Maybe that…

 

He made the little voice of hope in his head immediately shut up.

 

No. It couldn't be him.

 

Baelfire was gone, he was not in this world anymore, he was still in Neverland, he couldn't be here, just in front of him, just under his eyes.

 

Baelfire didn't want anymore to be in the same room as him.

 

- But… it was just a lie, he continued, the old and familiar pain coming back as he talked. The dream-shade was in reality a terrible poison, mortal and terribly dangerous, he said, hiding from them the fact that he had some of this poison with him. My brother, wanting to show me that it was harmless, hurt himself with it, and it almost killed him.

 

He could have been saved, when he drank the water of the island, but… when you drink it, it cures you, but you can't leave the island. All magic comes with a price, after all, he said with sadness. We didn't know this, so he died on the boat when we came back home. The king betrayed us, he said bitterly, he wanted this in order to start a war and kill thousand of people thanks to this. That's the reason why I and my crew we decided to become pirates and outlaws.”

 

A great silence then took place between them, no one knowing what to say, while Neal had become more and more pale, as the pirate was talking.

 

Why didn't you tell me ? Was his first coherent and selfish thought.

 

I am sorry for your loss, he thought then, not saying these words aloud, knowing it would not mean anything.

 

“I… I didn't know, he finally said, letting the words escape from his mouth without succeeding to control himself.

 

The pirate, who succeeded to recover, couldn't help but smile.

 

- You know Neal, everything is not always as it seems to be.”

 

The conversation seemed to be over now, and Snow looked at the three people just there, her daughter, her son-in-law, and the pirate.

 

There was something between them, no ? She thought.

 

§§§§

 

The pirate could stay, and Neal had no idea of what to do/say/feel/think right now.

 

A thought was now coming more and more in his spirit.

 

What if the pirate had changed ?

 

Some weeks passed, and one day, after one of the numerous, really numerous try of Hook to flirt with her or Neal, Emma came to see her mother.

 

She needed to talk with her.

 

“Tell me, what's wrong ?

 

- I wanted to ask you a question about Aurora, Mulan and Phillip… How did they know that they loved each other ?

 

Snow White raised an eyebrow but didn't make any remarks. It would be for later.

 

- Well… As you already know it, Aurora and Phillip were in love with each other before they met Mulan. Maleficent cursed Aurora and Phillip, Phillip was saved by Mulan, and they slowly fell in love with each other.

 

- But Phillip still loved Aurora, right ?

 

- Yes, of course ! She was his True Love, after all… One of his two True Loves, she added. He woke up Aurora, they came back at their castle, Mulan followed them and fell in love with Aurora on her way to the castle, and Aurora fell to. That's it.

 

Emma just nodded her head.

 

- You asked me this because of the pirate, right ?

 

- Yes… I'm still in love with Neal, but… I'm afraid I'm falling in love with him to.”

 

Snow White smiled to her.

 

“Tell me everything, she asked to her daughter.”

Chapter Text

Author's note : CaptainSwanFire in this chapter ! And in the other which follow. Like… completely. I mean, they are completely going to be together, so if you don't like this idea/pairing, don't read.

 

Other note : I have honestly no idea of when I will publish the next chapters, since I don’t have the access to my documents for now, so I don’t think I will update this story before the beginning/middle of December.

 

“I don't know how to explain this, the princess admitted. Do you remember this evening, during Henry's birthday ?

 

- Yes, of course. You and Neal left the party very soon.

 

- It was because of him. He flirted with us.

 

- With both of you ? Her mother asked her, astonished. You mean… He was interested by a relationship with the two of you ?

 

- I don't know… Maybe he did this just in order to shock us, I still don't know what he wants, so…

 

- What do you want ?

 

- I don't know ! She repeated. I have no idea if this is or not like in Aurora's and the other's story ! I met him, I talked with him, he talked with me, he flirted, I didn't really flirt back, I was pleased by this and I decided despite this then that he should stop this. I talked with Neal, I realized he knew him, and then we forgot about it.

 

- But the pirate continued…

 

- Yes… And strangely, we never stopped him, and… I don't know why !

 

- Do you think you're in love with him too ?

 

- No. I'm not. Not right now. But I feel like I'm falling, that I could love him, like I love Neal, except that, it's too soon ! I didn't fall in love with Neal that rapidly.

 

- Well, you know, it just took me some hours to realize that I was deeply and hopelessly in love with your father, Snow White replied with a smile.

 

- Circumstances were not the same. And now… I don't know what to do.

 

- What about Neal ? How does he feel about it ?

 

Emma sighed.

 

- He told me he knew him, and I know that he loved him, but… Did he love him love him ? Does he still love him ? I don't know…

 

- You're asking yourself if you can love two people at the same time, right ? Well, if you ask Aurora or Mulan or Philip, they will tell you that yes, it's possible. You're the only one who can say if you're in love with both of them or not. That's it.

 

- I'm lost mom…

 

Snow just smiled to her and took her hand.

 

- I will give you this only advice. Follow your heart. Yes, maybe you already heard this before, but you just have to know that… if you and Neal want to begin a relationship with this man, well… you can.

 

- Really ? Emma asked, with opened wide. Even if he is a pirate ? A criminal ?

 

Snow then chuckled.

 

- You seem to forget, my dear, that your respectable mother just here in front of you used to be a bandit as well as he was.

 

- By necessity. You were purchased by Regina at this time.

 

- Yes, indeed. And so it was also necessity who put this man to become a pirate. He seems to have changed.

 

- Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe all of this is just a game for him.

 

- Do you trust him ?

 

Strangely, now, it was the only certitude she had got.

 

- Yes. I do.

 

- Then, just wait and see.”

 

Other weeks passed, being the same, the pirate continuing to do the same thing again and again, and they continued liking it, liking him, and not knowing what to do about it.

 

Until Emma and Neal decided they could give him a chance.

 

§§§§

 

It was an… unusual relationship, to say the least.

 

It hadn't been easy, at first, to accept this : the fact that they were both attracted to another person than the one with who they were married, while still being in love with the person in question.

 

Hook didn't seem to have any problems with that.

 

In the three of them, strangely, Neal had been the one who was at first the most reluctant in this situation.

 

The one who always said no, before saying yes.

 

And indeed, him and Emma didn't agree about the fact that pirate may have or may have not abandoned his revenge.

 

Neal was scared that it was not the case, while Emma, who was surrounded by people who came back on the good side, thought they could leave him a chance to redeem himself.

 

“What if all of this was just a joke Emma ? A trick ? What if he didn't care at all ? That he didn't care about us ? And didn't care about ruining everything between us ?

 

- I know that you remember him as a terrible man, but… your father did this, he changed, and he was far more in darkness that Killian is now, or used to be. And by the way, if you want to fix things with him, and stop getting nightmares or bad memories about what he did to you, you should tell him who you are. And talk with him.

 

- No, I won't. I don't want to.

 

- Why ? Oh, bloody hell, Neal, why are you that damn stubborn ? Again ? You did the same fucking stupid thing with your father, and it made you loose three years ! Three years before you saw him again, before you could start to heal. Why do you want to do this again ?

 

- Hook doesn't know that I am Baelfire. So, as Neal, I can ask him questions, and know if he still wants to get revenge, and…

 

- And to know if he cares about you ? I mean, about Baelfire.

 

- Yes. Maybe. I don't know.

 

- You still love him, don't lie to me.

 

- Emma. He doesn't love me. He didn't love me at this time, as Baelfire, he doesn't love me as Neal. And he won't. It's as simple as it seems to be.

 

- No, it's not, she contradicted him. Can you remind me who he came to see at first ? With who he flirted first ? You ! Not that I am being jealous, but it says clearly who caught his look first. If he is interested by both of us, then, he is interested by you too. And you have to accept it. And I don't think it's a thing you don't like.

 

- It's just a coincidence Emma… What if… what if he just wanted to use us ? We are both royals, and so we are powerful, and close to the Sorcerer… What if all of this was just a cruel game ?

 

Emma then realized something she didn't see before, and she had a sad smile.

 

- You are afraid of getting hurt, right ?”

 

He nodded.

 

“Of course I am !

 

- So it means that you care. This is what I told you before. You still love him.

 

- I did. And I still don't know what I am feeling Emma. I'm lost.

 

- And so am I. So, we are both lost together.”

 

He tried to smile and sighed.

 

“I guess we are.

 

- Do you to trust him or not ? If the answer is not, it's okay.”

 

He thought about it.

 

He remembered Neverland, he remembered the pain, he remembered the anger, he remembered how much he had wanted the pain to stop…

 

And he realized that yes, what he was afraid would happen again did actually happen.

 

He was falling in love with Killian Jones.

 

Again.

 

Oh, by the gods, he was so fucked up.

 

“I do want to trust him.

 

- Do you want to give it a try ?

 

- Yes.”

 

And so they did.

 

§§§§

 

To say the truth, Rumpelstiltskin was not really sure of what to think about the whole situation.

 

And when he learned what was going on, he hadn't know how to react, and still hadn't found a good way of reacting to the new revelation he had received not a long time ago.

 

Yes, of course, he wanted his son to be fine, safe, and happy.

 

He just never considered it could happen this way.

 

With princess Emma, yes, of course, he expected it, he knew that it could happen, as it already existed in another version of the story.

 

But with a pirate too ?

 

The pirate ?

 

The one who swore he would kill him ?

 

Was it a joke ?

 

Was someone trying to be kidding him ?

 

“I'm afraid it's the reality, my love, Belle told him with amusement, looking at him, who was silent and pale, as if she knew what he was thinking.”

 

Something like : what the fuck is this thing ?

 

Was his son – and by the way his daughter-in-law too. He heard about it too, about the future relationship these three people were going to share. He didn't care about Aurora's, Mulan's and Philip, and didn't see it as being bad, so it was not the problem here with this one. The problem was the pirate – really in love with Killian Jones ?

 

Like, for real ?

 

His grandson of the other world had told him about his mother's love for his father and her past love for the captain, but by the magic, he hadn't expected this to happen one day.

 

A part of him was wishing it never happened.

 

He didn't want or intend to kill the pirate anymore, it was true, but… it didn't mean that he was ready to welcome him in his family !

 

All of this was just insane, was he really the only one who was seeing it ?

 

“He already took my wife from me, he muttered for himself. But despite his best intentions, Belle still heard him. Is he going to take my son too ?

 

- He didn't take Milah from you, Belle immediately corrected him with a severe and sharp look. And the answer is no. He won't take Baelfire from you, never. He is not taking him, you can be sure of this. And by the way, he doesn't even know this is your son.

 

- Or so he says, Rumplestiltskin said, with doubts in his voice. He can lie. He knows I'm not immortal anymore, after all. He knows he can kill me. Maybe he is just approaching my son in order to get closer to me, and kill me. I'm not as invincible as I used to be, he said, his voice almost filled with regrets.

 

Belle smiled to him with love.

 

- Not being immortal doesn't mean that you're weak Rumple. You still get your powers, and you're still strong. By the way, if I trusted you enough to think that you could change, why don't you think that he can too ? I know you hate him, I know that a part of you still wants him dead, I know that you don't trust him about your son, but… can you think you can be in the same room as him without wanting to kill him ?

 

- The real question is, can he do this ?”

 

She chuckled.

 

“Yes, that's another problem, but you must admit, deary, that you're the most powerful of the two of you. And yes, you're the person we have to be sure is not ready to kill the other.

 

- I get it… I will try to control myself when I see him again.

 

Belle raised a skeptical eyebrow, not being really convinced by his speech (in fact he was not himself convinced, right now), and the Sorcerer sighed.

 

- Alright Belle, I promise I won't kill him/make him get killed/hurt him.

 

- Fine… But I am not sure that we can right now make you go in the same room… There are still too many risks for the other people who would be present… We don't want collateral damages…

 

- I won't do anything against him !

 

- Even if your son and your daughter-in-law decide to begin a romantic relationship with him ?”

 

Rumplestiltskin immediately violently clenched his fists at this precise thought, really not wanting to think more deeply about it.

 

For, if Rumplestiltskin had no desire to think about his son's romantic/sexual life, he certainly didn't want either to do this about the pirate.

 

He trembled.

 

Alright, all of this was just a bad idea.

 

But… if it was what his son wanted… alright.

 

A part of him almost hoped that the pirate still wanted to kill him.

 

(Except that he also wanted his son to be happy, so, yes, he was ready to accept it.

 

Even if it hurt to think about his son – maybe – sleeping with his sworn enemy…

 

No, no, no, he had told himself he would not think about it.

 

Never !)

 

He sighed again, and nodded.

 

“Alright, alright… I guess this is not my business… But no one will be talking about this in front of me, right ? I don't want to know anything about this !”

 

Belle smiled and nodded too.

 

§§§§

 

Hook was now telling to himself that he was completely fucked up.

 

(As almost everyone at a time, in fact.

 

He was certainly not the first one.

 

Nor the last.)

 

Because of a certain prince and his wife.

 

All of this was supposed to be, when it began six months ago, just a distraction for him.

 

Except that it became then clearly much more than that.

 

And the truth is that, by knowing them more and more, he had grew attached to them.

 

It shouldn't have happened.

 

He was supposed to come here in order to kill the Crocodile, not to fall in love with two people, who were now diverting him from his revenge.

 

And the worst of it was that he didn't even know if he still cared about it.

 

It wouldn't be the first time where he would be almost ready to give up his revenge.

 

It still hurt to think about Baelfire, he quickly realized, especially because Neal reminded him a lot of Baelfire, and sometimes, the pirate even thought that it was him.

 

Except that it couldn't be him.

 

And he had to recognize that he was lost.

 

He wanted to give up this damn revenge which took so much of his time, of his life. And it was not as in Neverland, because now, he could do it, but, on the opposite, he had the certitude that he never was before this moment that close from getting his revenge.

 

Finally.

 

After all this time, all this pain, all these sacrifices.

 

And yet, he was asking himself.

 

Was it still worth it ?

 

Because, unlike in Neverland, he really had a good reason to stop it.

 

He had two wonderful people who cared about him, and for who he really cared about too.

 

A part of him wanted to stop this.

 

Really wanted this.

 

But the other, the one which still remembered Milah's loss, just couldn't.

 

He should have understood a long time ago that it was not what she wanted for him, that she didn't want him to revenge her, but him to get a good life, and be happy after she was gone. After all, her last words were not full of her hatred against her assassin, but full of love for him.

 

But, taken by his rage, his hatred, and his pain, he never understood that.

 

He felt like revenge was still the only and best option he still had, because, after he would get his revenge, then, things would be different, he would be able to move on.

 

With Emma and Neal, maybe.

 

A thing he couldn't do by knowing that the Crocodile was still bloody alive, married, happy – but how could he really be happy if his son was not there ? He asked himself distractedly – with a family, famous but for good reasons this time, powerful, and with no problems.

 

He didn't deserve that at all, the pirate decided.

 

He didn't deserve being happy and in peace, while he himself still had nightmares of Milah's death, and Bae's rejection, things which happened because of him. He just hadn't the right to be fine while he himself was not.

 

It was not fair that him, the murderer, the one who abandoned his son, the one who cut his hand, who ruined his life, was not in prison or dead.

 

It was not fair that he was happy while he was still broken by what he did.

 

§§§§

 

The beginnings had been… complicated.

 

With Neal especially.

 

He was, indeed, a complicated man, not ready to trust anyone, as far as Hook knew it.

 

Because he knew him too well, a thing the pirate didn't know, while Emma was ready to trust him, to trust the new him.

 

A version of him that Killian was not even sure to be real.

 

The pirate smiled, remembering how things were before Neal actually said yes to this… relationship/situation/strange thing.

 

They had been one day talking together about something (well, having an argument was maybe more accurate, and to say the truth, he didn't even remember what it was about), it was during a normal day, and…

 

And then, this happened.

 

Killian had kissed Neal.

 

(Yep, that's it.

 

You have waited twenty-two chapters for this – or not – and yes, it happened.

 

I hope you're not disappointed.

 

Sorry for doing this, but I feel like no one cares anymore about this story/the plot/the pairings or anything else here.)

 

It had caught Neal by complete surprise, who was clearly not expecting it, but bloody hell, this guy had been purchasing… hum… harassing… courting him – as well as Emma – since so many weeks that he should have known it would happen one day.

 

Without even thinking about it, he replied to the kiss.

 

And yes, this scene had made their relationship much more better later.

 

Oh, and he shared a kiss with Emma too during a ball, and it was surely the better way to officialese the relationship they were going to begin and share later.

 

§§§§

 

In fact, the most difficult thing for Hook had been to meet Henry.

 

For it was making this being too much official.

 

Emma and Neal had explained to him that it was completely different from the relationship Aurora, Mulan and Phillip were sharing in the other kingdom, because their son, Phillip II, had been born after the beginning of their relationship.

 

So yes, he knew that he had three parents, and he had known this situation since his birth, so, for him it was normality.

 

But it was certainly not prince Henry's case.

 

So, yes, the pirate/former pirate met him.

 

Fortunately, things happened well.

 

§§§§

 

But now, he didn't know what to do.

 

The young man sighed and took from his pocket the flask where the dream-shade was, and he sighed.

 

He heard his name being called, and he hid it rapidly.

 

So, yes… what was he going to do now ?