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Iter ad Filium

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“No, no, no, no….. “ Henry looked at Angra, his eyes begged her even more than his voice, “Please, please… I’ll give you anything, I’ll go anywhere with you, I don’t care, don’t let her die, please, please, don’t let my Mom die…”

A hand came down on Henry’s shoulder, “It’s too late…”

Chapter Text

oOOOOo ~ One Week Earlier oOOOOo

Henry broke the silence of the breakfast table, “Okay. So, you’re both gonna be Mom and then I’m going to call Angra Angra, okay?”

Both a bit bleary eyed, for reasons that Henry didn’t want to think about because as their son it squicked him out just a bit, Regina and Emma looked up. “Uh, okay. Yeah, sure kid. Whatever you want.”

Henry looked between Regina and Emma. “Do you think anyone else is going to, ya know, come back from the dead?”

Regina took a long drink of coffee before she answered her son’s question, “I have no idea Henry.”

Henry mumbled something and Emma frowned at what she thought she heard. “What?”

Henry cleared his throat, “I want, I mean, I would want Cora to come back.”

Regina frowned, “Henry, she…”

Henry didn’t let Regina speak, but kept explaining, “No, no, Milah and Marian and Eva came back almost right after they died right? That’s what Snow said, so,”

Emma was the one who finished his thought, “she would have her heart because she had it when she died. Still Henry, we don’t know why, or how, or if they’re really them.”

Regina sighed, “They are.” Both Emma and Henry looked at Regina with surprised looks on their faces, “What?”

Emma shook her head, “You did a spell.” Regina shrugged and Emma laughed a bit.

Regina shot her a look, “You find that funny?”

Emma shook her head, still smiling, “You did it for Snow. You did it because you wanted to be able to tell her if she should get invested in a mother daughter relationship with Eva.”

“I…” Regina shook her head, “That doesn’t sound like me.”

Even Henry smirked just a little, “Mom, it’s okay. I mean, didn’t you love her once?”

Regina blew out an annoyed breath, “How did we get on this topic again?”

Emma swallowed the last of her own coffee and rinsed the mug, “Dead people coming back to life, three so far. We have to find out why.”

“No. We don’t. Your parents, Ruby, Granny, perhaps Angra and Elsa,” Regina glanced over at her son, “and Henry. They have to. We… we have something else to do.”

Emma shook her head, “No, this is more…”

Regina cut her off, “So is what we have to do Emma.”

Henry’s gaze bounced between Regina and Emma. “Mom, Moms, what are you talking about?”

Regina and Emma shared a look, then Regina spoke, “Your Mom and I are going to go find your… find Emma’s birth son.”

Henry nodded slowly, “Right.”

Emma gripped Henry’s chin and lifted it until he was looking at her. “You’re my son first and foremost kid, okay? I don’t care what a stick told me.”

Regina mumbled, “Not a stick.”

Emma waved a hand at Regina, “Whatever, a piece of paper. But, I need to do this Henry. Just like you needed to find me when you did.” She stood up straight, letting go of Henry’s chin. “So, here’s what we’re going to do. Regina and I, we’re going to go find your brother. By then you’ll have figured out why people are coming alive again, and we’ll swoop in and save the day--” Regina coughed and Emma smirked, “Right, we’ll swoop in and Regina will save the day.”

Henry smiled a little at that. He opened his mouth to speak, but didn’t get a chance as there was a scream from the second floor of the house.

Regina’s head snapped up, “Zelena,” and she dashed out of the kitchen and up the stairs. Regina didn’t even pause as she obliterated the door to Zelena’s room with a fire ball and stepped into a room full of green fire.

Regina threw a hand up, putting up a magical barrier so that Emma and Henry wouldn’t follow her in. Henry didn’t like that, “Mom…”

“Stay out.”

Regina stopped in the middle of the room, lifted her hands to either side of her, and closed her eyes. She could feel heat, but she could also feel something underneath the fire, fear. She let her hands drop, her eyes open, and moved towards her sister. Zelena was on the bed, the hottest and thickest of the green fire surrounding her. Regina put a hand out, but yanked it back and winced as the green fire burned her. “Zelena. It’s okay. Just let me through. I don’t want to get burned Zelena.” Zelena finally met Regina’s gaze. Zelena held out her hand and a path opened in the fire. Regina took the hand and joined her sister on the bed. She wrapped an arm around Zelena’s shoulders and simply sat there.

There was a ‘whoa’ from outside of the magic barrier. Regina looked up, the fire was gone. Regina waved a hand and the barrier was gone. Henry got into the room first, “Mom, that was awesome, how did you know that…?”

Emma answered his question and didn’t look happy about the answer, “She didn’t.”

Regina didn’t move, “If you’re waiting for an apology Emma, you’ll have to wait quite a bit longer. She’s my sister. If it had been Little Neal you would have done the exact same thing.”

Emma inclined her head and put an arm around Henry, “Let’s get you to school kid. Leave these two to talk.”

Emma left and Regina and Zelena separated. Zelena shook her head, “Regina, you should… I’m okay.”

Regina raised an eyebrow at Zelena, “Really? I don’t think that’s true.” Zelena started to stand up, but Regina stopped her. “I know what you’re going to say next.”

“Oh? You’re telepathic now as well?”

Regina shook her head, sighed, and stood. She went over to the window and looked out it. It had a view of the front garden area and Regina watched as Henry told Emma something, using his whole body, gesturing with his hands, kicking with his feet, as the two of them walked down the path to the street. It took a lot, but she turned away from the window and back to face her sister. She crossed her arms over her chest, “Why do you think Emma was mad with me just now?”

Zelena frowned, “You put yourself in danger, doing something when you didn’t know what the outcome would be.”

Regina shook her head, “No, because she was afraid for me. Fear. I could feel it in your fire as well.”

Zelena stood and took a step towards Regina, then stopped and shook her head. “I didn’t mean to, I don’t know how… I don’t want to destroy you, or Henry, or… but it’s too much power. And now that I’m not…” Zelena blew out a breath, “It was so easy to control when I was angry.”

Regina paused for a moment, and then in one move she created a fireball and threw it at Zelena. It didn’t hit her though, instead it created a pillar of fire around the formerly green woman. “Escape.”

Zelena frowned at the fire for a long moment, then pushed outwards angrily with her hands. Nothing happened. “No.” She tried again, and again, and again. Finally she glared through the fire at Regina. “Are you going to kill me now?”

Regina sighed, “No. I’m teaching you how to control your magic. Anger won’t work on that fire. So, you’ll have to figure something else out.”

“Without…” Zelena looked down, then back up at her sister, “Without anger I have nothing.”

Regina didn’t let Zelena’s gaze go, “You’ve never loved anyone…?”

“No.”

Regina ignored Zelena’s answer, “Think of that person. It doesn’t have to be romantic love. Focus on their face, then make the fire dissipate.”

Zelena glared through the fire at Regina for a long moment, then closed her eyes and took a couple of deep breaths. This time she pushed more gently with her hands and with not even a poof of smoke the fire was simply gone.

Zelena opened her eyes, blinking in surprise. “That wasn’t supposed to work Regina.”

“Magic doesn’t work on anger Zelena, it works on emotion. That… I didn’t learn that myself until recently.”

“You’re not going to ask who I pictured?”

Regina raised an eyebrow, “Would you tell me?”

“No.”

“That’s why I didn’t ask. So, breakfast?”

Zelena nodded, “Yes, sure… I… Regina. Thank you.”

Regina patted Zelena on the shoulder. “We’re sisters.”

oOOOOo

Milah shook her head and downed her shot. “Another.”

The blonde behind Granny's counter shook her head, "Nope. Breakfast though."

Milah slammed the shot glass onto the bar, "C'mon Elsa, life's kicking me in the arse, give me a break."

Elsa inclined her head, "Yes, break... fast."

Milah groaned, "I'm not nearly drunk enough for that to be funny yet."

Elsa turned away, and when she turned back she had a plate with a large bunch of scrambled eggs, four link sausages, and two pieces of wheat bread. "Unfortunately we ran out of English Muffins at some point this year, a fact which seems to seriously irk my niece." Elsa put down a fork, knife, and napkin.

After a minute of staring at it while it cooled Milah dug into the breakfast. After a few more minutes of eating Milah looked up, “Why did Granny give you a job?”

Elsa shrugged, “I think that Ruby begged her. Something about getting a life.”

“You know that…”

Elsa sighed as she finished Milah’s thought, “...my niece and Ruby are… together. Yes. I try not to think about it too much, it fills me with rage.”

That gave Milah pause, “Rage?”

Elsa sighed, “She’s always been like a daughter. So, no one’s good enough for her.”

Milah put down her fork, “It’s good that you watch out for her. I think… I lost that right with Rumpel. He won’t… won’t even talk to me.”

Elsa reached across the counter and refilled Milah’s coffee mug. “He’ll thaw, especially with Hook gone.” She paused, “Are you going to be okay?”

Milah nodded, “Somewhere in my heart I knew that I was just like all the other women. Perhaps he liked me a little more than the others, but, really, he’s a pirate, and seems to want to bed all the women of the world before he dies. So, he left me, he left Storybrooke.”

Elsa made a bit of a face, “He may find himself… ah… alone more often than not. I’m pretty sure that there are websites for guys like him.” Milah stared down at the mostly empty plate and Elsa winced, “Too soon?”

“Little bit.”

Elsa looked up and Milah turned as the door opened and a laughing Angra and Ruby came inside. Milah reached across the counter and patted Elsa’s hand. “If Ruby breaks her heart we’ll gather a mob and make her sorry.”

Elsa choked out a laugh at that as Ruby came around the counter and Angra sat down next to Milah. “Milah. Hey, are you okay?”

“Yes.”

Ruby paused halfway through tying on her apron and sniffed the air, “Milah, are you pregnant?”

Chapter Text

Mulan smiled down at the little boy as she rocked him back and forth. She’d just gotten done changing him, and he was wide awake. His mother Aurora wasn’t so much awake, and so Mulan took him into the sitting area, and out onto the balcony that was just off of their rooms in their castle. “Look out there Phil, all those trees, and the water. I bet that you’ll love the water when you grow up, I’ve spent more of my life on the water than I ever thought I would. I thought…” Mulan shook her head, “I never thought that my life would end up anywhere near here. In a different world, with…” Mulan smiled just a bit to herself, “...with the love of my life, who wound up being a woman. Oh, and you too Little Phillip” She tickled Phil under his chin and he giggled. Mulan glanced over her shoulder, “Shh… shhh… little one, we don’t want to wake up your mother yet.”

A groan came from the doorway back into the suite as Aurora appeared, “Too late. She’s up. Is he hungry?”

Mulan shook her head, “No, just ready to start the day with his Mama.”

Aurora took the little boy who was still making happy noises and joined Mulan at the edge of the balcony. “I’m sorry he woke you mon guerrier.”

Mulan turned from the view and put one hand on Aurora’s cheek, the other on top of Phil’s head. “Never. I love him as my own--” She paused and met Aurora’s gaze, “if that’s--”

Aurora leaned forward and kissed Mulan. Phil gave a little yelp to let them know that he was still there and was not happy that he was being ignored. Aurora smiled, “It’s perfect, everything is perfect.”

Mulan sighed and put both her hands on the balcony’s stone railing, “You know…”

“Shush, we’re having some family time. And yes, I know that it won’t be perfect for very long. This is Storybrooke, something always comes along, although… I heard that Regina and Emma are going to find Emma’s birth son, so… perhaps it will be a bit quieter without them here.”

“You think that it’s them that bring the crazy to this town?” Mulan shook her head, “I think that it’s the town itself. There’s just something… off about it.” Mulan shrugged and turned to Phil who had dozed a little in his mother’s arms. “But, you’re right. Take the peace when it comes. So, breakfast?”

oOOOOo

“What now?”

Ruby set out two plates of breakfast, one for herself and one in front of Angra. “Sorry-- but my nose is never wrong.” Milah opened her mouth to speak, but Ruby answered Milah’s question before she could ask it, “I could smell the same smell coming from Snow when she was pregnant with Little Neal.” Ruby realized the name she’d said, “Oh, I-I’m…”

Milah gave Ruby a sad smile, “It’s all right Ruby. I never knew him as Neal, I only knew him as my little Baelfire.”

Ruby nodded, “He was a good man.” She paused, “With Hook gone, are you planning on staying? Or going as well?”

“Staying. For awhile, yes. I have no idea what’s out there, what the world, this world, is like.”

Angra spoke, “Elsa can help you there.”

Elsa shot her niece a not so nice look, “Mind your own business pipsqueak.”

“Like you weren’t thinking it Aunty Ice.”

Ruby and Milah glanced at the two related women, then their gazes met and both women smirked. “Yep, can’t tell you two are related at all.”

Both women turned their pointed looks on Ruby and Milah. It was Angra who spoke up, “Do you like having sex?”

Ruby gave a faux salute, “Shutting up.” Ruby pointed at Elsa, “Can I give her grief?”

Angra shrugged, “Sure…”

Elsa sighed and shook her head. She took off her apron, “I’ll be back before the lunch rush.” She slipped out from behind the counter and was quickly outside.

Ruby winced. “Too much?”

Milah stood from the stool with a shake of her head, “Yeah, too much.” She left as well.

Elsa was striding down the street, and Milah had to run just a bit to catch up. "Hey, hey, they were just joking."

Elsa slowed just a bit and Milah fell in next to her. "I just..." Elsa shook her head and squared her shoulders, "I shouldn't have let it get to me. I just don't know where I'm supposed to be in this world. You know?" She looked over at Milah.

"I do. So, we're strong kick-ass women, what are we going to do about it?"

"Rob a bank?"

Milah glanced over at Elsa, and laughed when she saw the smirk on the blonde's lips. "Funny. How 'bout we build a ship?"

Elsa looked a bit dubious. "Have you done that before?"

"Well, no... but, isn't there something called the... tubes?"

Elsa frowned, "Ah, TV?"

Milah shook her head, "No, it's... you can get information on it. From what I understand that's not really true on television."

Elsa chuckled, "The Internet. So, you want to learn how to build a boat..."

"...ship."

"Ship, on the internet and build it here in Storybrooke?"

Milah raised one eyebrow, then the other. "And, what else do you have to do today Elsa?"

Elsa inclined her head, "A valid point. What the hell. Let's go Google, 'How to build a pirate ship'."

“Google?”

“And, we’re not going to talk about the fact that you’re pregnant?”

“No.”

“Right. So… Google is a search engine.” Elsa put a hand up, “Right, ‘search engine?’ would have been your next words. Let’s stop by the library first.”

oOOOOo

"We're going to the Wishing Well, right?" Regina nodded. "I don't like that place much." Regina didn't say anything in response, so Emma continued, "Are you angry with me Regina, I just..."

Regina stopped and faced Emma, "I'm not Emma. When I saw her like that on the bed I just reacted. And would again."

Emma put an arm through Regina's and they started walking again, "I know Regina. And you were right, if it had been, well... almost anyone in the town, I would have done the same thing you did. Well, maybe not exactly what you did, but..."

Regina smiled a bit, "I know what you mean."

They were silent for a moment. There was a pair of chickadees somewhere in the trees, not to mention a really, really pissed off gray squirrel. "We can't go Regina. I want to, more than anything, but there's Zelena, she's just getting... comfortable. And then there's the fact that three people who were dead are now alive. And not just sorta dead, but 'damn straight people even saw their bodies' dead." Emma paused, "Have you spoken to Eva?"

"No."

"Snow?"

The pause was longer before Regina answered the question, but it was the same answer, "No."

"Regina, it's not her fault."

Regina slowly took in a breath and then let it out, "I know, I know, but..."

Emma patted Regina's hand with her free one, "You agree with Henry. And..."

Regina cut Emma off, "Yes, in my gut, in my soul, it's happened again. Snow has gotten the thing that I want." Regina looked over at Emma, "But, I haven't threatened either of them, or, or..."

"...used firebombed their house with your power?"

"Something like that, yes."

Emma smirked, "Guess you're growing after all Ms. Evil Queen."

Regina made a growly noise, "Don't rub it in. And here we are." They stopped in front of the wishing well.

Emma let go of Regina, "So, what now?"

Regina put the backpack looking bag she'd brought with her on the ground. "Now I get ready to do a spell so that we can find out where to start searching for your boy. And then we follow that lead and find him. Because things will go to hell here in Storybrooke whether we're here or not. And, it's time that you, Savior, do something for you. Okay?"

Emma did a half a faux bow, "Prepare away." Emma put a hand up, “Wait. Not quite yet. I want to make a better memory for this part of the woods.”

“Miss Swan…”

Emma chuckled, “You and your dirty mind. A kiss my Queen, a kiss.” Emma took a hold of one of the belt loops on Regina’s pants and pulled the dark haired woman towards her.

Chapter Text

“David, what’s that… is that coming from Neal’s room?”

David tilted his head to one side, “Ah, sounds like ah, what are those two men’s names put together.”

Snow mostly hid her smile, “Do I have to do the Rosenshontz Rap for you again?”

David groaned, “Oh, please don’t. Should I…”

Snow shook her head, “No, it’s probably my mother, so I’ll go see what’s up.”

Snow stopped in the doorway and watched as Eva turned around the room with a happily burbling Neal in her hands, singing with the song, something about not bringing things home.

Eva trailed off as she turned towards the doorway and saw Snow there. “Hello Snow. I didn’t see you there.”

Snow smiled, “Little Neal’s up from his nap?”

Eva nodded and held out the little boy to Snow, but even as Little Neal squealed that he didn’t want to be let go of by Eva yet, Snow smiled and shook her head. “It’s… this, you two, it’s something that I never even dreamed of, and yet, seeing you and my son together.” Snow put a hand over her heart and cleared her throat a couple of times.

It was Little Neal who broke the silence between mother and daughter, reaching towards the ground, “Dadadadadada…”

Eva gently put him down on the floor and he was out the door faster than should have been possible by simple crawling. Eva regarded her daughter and Snow her mother as the music stopped. Neither moved. “We have not yet had a proper conversation about… everything.”

Snow took a step into the room and crossed her arms over her chest, “I don’t think that one conversation would do it.”

“You’re happy?”

Snow smiled, “Very. David, Little Neal, Emma, Red, Re…” Snow trailed off and paused, quite surprised about the name that she’d been about to say. “Everyone is here, healthy. I think that Red is finally moving on from her horrendous experience with Peter…”

Eva seemed to be trying to place the name, “She’s your best friend?” Snow nodded, “What happened with Peter?”

“She ate him.”

Eva was stunned, “Snow, how can you… you simply… simply said that with no…” Eva trailed off herself and was silent for a moment. Then changed the subject, “Who was the final person you were going to say and stopped yourself?”

Snow shook her head, “Doesn’t matter.” She walked into the room and put her arm through her mother’s. “We should go make sure that Little Neal hasn’t stuck all his Cheerios places that will take eons to find.”

That brought a smile to Eva’s lips, “He reminds me of you. Always so full of energy.”

“Me? C’mon. I was the perfect child.”

Eva just laughed as they walked towards the kitchen.

oOOOOo

“Oh, hello.” Belle paused when she saw who entered after Elsa, “Ah…. hello.”

Milah rolled her eyes, “I don’t want your husband, just your brain.”

Belle blinked, “Uh… okay?”

Elsa turned from looking at the magazine racks, “We’re going to build a boat…”

“...ship…”

Elsa rolled her eyes, “Ship, and wondered if you had some information on that sort of thing.”

Belle stood, all the uncomfortableness gone because she was in her element. “Yes, of course. First, there’s something called “The sea-mans grammar by John Smith.” She walked to one side of the room, “And, we’ll have more over here in the 623s…”

Milah looked at Belle quizzically. “You just know that off the top of your head?”

Belle pulled out one book after another, then finally looked over at Milah, “Yes. Yes I do.” She came back to the Reference desk and put them down just a little harder than she had to. “I’m not sure I like you Milah.”

Milah studied Belle for a moment, “Why, because you’re married to my ex-husband, or because my ex-boyfriend tried to kill you more than once?”

That struck Belle silent for a moment. "You're not what I expected you to be."

Milah picked up the old book that Belle had gotten from the shelves first and opened it carefully. "That's not the first time I've heard that."

Belle crossed her arms over her chest, "Why would you be with a man like Hook?"

Milah closed the book. "Freedom?"

Belle bristled at that, "From Rumple?"

Milah shook her head and put the book back on the stack, "From being a low born woman in the Enchanted Forest during the Ogre War. From only being a mother and wife with nothing for myself. Maybe a little freedom from having to be myself too."

"Oh--" Belle stared at Milah for another moment, then hefted the pile of books and carried them over to the Circulation Desk. "I'll check these out for you."

Elsa finally spoke up again, a 'Mystery Scene' in her hands. "If you have time, you could stop by, help us out."

Belle frowned, "No, that would be..."

Even as Milah shot her a glare, Elsa continued, "Rumple should come too-- as long as he doesn't use magic. We're doing this with just our hands."

"Elsa."

Elsa finally glanced at Milah, "Hmm?"

"Do you really think that's a good idea?"

"I do, in fact, I think that we should invite more people as well."

Milah looked pissed, but stayed silent. Belle tried to fill what had turned to icy silence as she stamped each book and put a card in each pocket. "Where are you living Elsa?" She looked at Milah for just a moment, "Milah?"

Elsa spoke up, “Mulan and Aurora have quite a large castle, I picked a random room. I’m not picky, it’s somewhere to sleep that’s warm, dry and the kitchen is amazing.” Milah didn’t speak, so Elsa spoke up, “She’s living in a boat at the docks and hating every moment of it.”

“I am not.” She stood her full height, she was almost as tall as Elsa. “I just… I was thinking that now that Hook’s gone I would find somewhere else.”

Belle spoke, “Move in down the hall from Elsa.”

Milah turned and regarded Belle. “You’re nosy, aren’t you.”

Belle shrugged, “Everyone should have a place. And, you’ll never find your place here in Storybrooke unless you try different places.”

Milah shook her head, “That’s why I’m making a ship.” She looked around the library and shook her head, “My place isn’t in Storybrooke.”

oOOOOo

While Regina slowly pulled up the well’s bucket Emma leaned against the well itself and watched the forest around them. “I don’t think I ever really realized how beautiful it was here. I’m usually--”

“Almost dying because of me, or being otherwise threatened alongside our son by me.”

Emma turned back towards the well as Regina placed the bucket on the stones. “Something like that--” Emma bumped Regina’s hip with her own, “So, did you find your keys?”

Regina ignored the joke and reached into the bucket. She pulled out a wet piece of metal. “A pin.” Regina frowned, then shook her head. “A pin.”

“You know where to go.” There was no question in Emma’s tone.

“I do.”

Emma blew out a breath, “Okay. That’s good, so… let’s say goodbye to everyone and get on the road.”

“You know--”

Emma cut Regina off, “We’re not taking your car, we’re taking the Bug.” SHe paused, “Where are we going anyway?”

“Falls Church Virginia.”

oOOOOo

Zelena paused in the doorway to Henry’s room. Her hand right near the door jamb about to knock. He sat in the middle of his bed, hunched over a notebook carefully writing in it.

She knocked, “Henry.”

He looked up with a smile, “Hey Zelena.”

She gestured with her head, “May I ask what you’re doing?”

Zelena jumped and nearly missed it as Henry threw a different notebook at her. She did somehow manage to catch it though. “Writing. I mean. The story book that had all the stuff that happened in the Enchanted Forest was cool, but, I mean, there was so much more that went on after Emma got here.” He shrugged, “Plus I really can’t draw as well as I can write and so, I sorta… I’ve written it all down, but it’s taking forever. That’s the first journal. It’s about the first year of stuff, I have a second one too, and then I’m almost done with this one.” He held up the notebook, “It’s the third one. I’ll probably start a fourth one as well, maybe…” Henry trailed off, “Sorry…”

Zelena looked up from the book, “It’s okay. You’re a very good writer.”

Henry blushed and stood, putting pen and notebook away. “Thanks. So, do you wanna try and find Glinda?”

Zelena frowned, “No, why would I--”

Henry took the notebook from Zelena and put it with the others. “She was your friend before-- everything right? And I don’t recognize the name as someone who’s here in Storybrooke, so we should find in what hidden place in Storybrooke she’s in.”

“Henry you don’t ha--”

Henry cut Zelena off, “I’m your nephew right?” Zelena nodded, “Okay, so, let’s go find Glinda so you can say you’re sorry and stuff.”

Chapter Text

Regina gave a harumph as she came down the stairs, “Where are they?”

Emma held up her cell phone, “From the point on the map I’d say they’re almost to the library. We just missed them.”

Regina frowned, “You can track our son?”

Emma handed over the phone, “He’s a teen and a male. It’s an app.” She put an arm around Regina, “And you’re just pissed because you didn’t do it with magic.”

Regina put the phone in Emma’s pocket, “Let’s go say good-bye.”

“First we need to stop by and say good-bye to my parents.”

“I--”

Emma pulled Regina towards the door, “You’re not responsible for your mother’s crimes Regina. And I’ve watched as you guys have grown together in the last year. So Snow’ll want to say goodbye to you too.”

oOOOOo

“Oh-- hello Henry.” Belle looked apprehensively at Zelena for a moment, then stuck out a hand, “Zelena.”

Zelena stared at the hand, “I terrorized, you, your husband and the town.”

“Are you sorry for what you did?”

Zelena was silent for a moment, “I’m trying to be, and I’m trying to make myself a better person.”

Belle reached over and took Zelena’s hand in her own, “That’s more than some who were in Storybrooke could say. As long as you keep trying…” She quirked an eyebrow, “And don’t hit have any designs on my husband, then we’re on the track to my forgiving of you.” She let Zelena’s hand go, “So, what do you two need?”

Henry spoke, “Everything you have on Glinda the Good Witch of the South.”

Belle raised her eyebrows, “Even the soundtrack?”

Henry winced, “Oh-- I totally forgot about Wicked, how could I forget about Wicked…” He paused, “Hmm… does the Library have it?”

Belle moved from behind the Circulation desk to the Reference one and sat down at the computer there. “Let’s see, not all of the collection is in here, so I may have to go to the card catalog.”

Henry glanced between the two desks, “You totally need someone else to work here, and put everything in the computer and stuff.”

Belle glanced up with a twinkle in her eyes, “Are you offering your services young Henry?”

“What? No, I mean, I’m only 13, I don’t even think I can.”

Belle smiled, “Well, there is the fact that we’re not quite all in the real world, so, I think you can do whatever your Mom… Moms say you can.” She stood, “We have the soundtrack, and the book, and, we have the original set of books by L. Frank Baum.”

Henry blinked in surprise, “All of them?”

Belle gestured to the space around her, “We do live in a town that’s half in the fairytale world. It’s not surprising. What do you think that you can find in any of it?”

Henry shrugged, “Maybe it’s not all fiction.”

Belle looked at the front door of the library, and at the pile of books at the Circulation desk, “Need help?”

Henry was already pulling books from the shelf, “Totally. Can you read really fast?”

“Faster than fast.”

oOOOOo

“You shouldn’t be so tense.”

Regina raised an eyebrow, “You haven’t noticed that tense is my default?”

“Mmm… we’re going to have to do something about that.” Emma smirked as she used the gigantic knocker to knock on the palace’s door.

The door opened and one of the dwarves appeared. Regina frowned, “Tom?”

Sneezy nodded, “You’re here to see Snow and David?”

Regina nodded. “Ah, yes.”

Sneezy stepped out of the doorway, “I was just dropping off a delivery. I think they’re still in their suite of rooms.” He started down the pathway, then paused and looked back up, “And Madam Mayor. Thank you…”

Regina inclined her head, “Of course Tom.”

As Sneezy continued on his way Emma looked between him and Regina, “Thank you for what?”

“He doesn’t like the name Sneezy.”

“Oh.” They both entered the castle, “Why didn’t he say that to the rest of us?”

“I am unsure.”

Emma slid her hand down Regina’s arm and took ahold of her hand as they got closer to the door to David and Snow’s suite. “One of these days I’m going to get you to shrug, and I’m going to get it on camera too.”

Regina smiled just a bit, “That is highly unlikely dear.”

Emma kissed the side of Regina’s head, “I won’t call you Gina, you don’t call me ‘dear’. Sound good?”

Regina’s smile grew just a little as Emma knocked on the door with her knuckles, “How about Miss Swan?”

Emma got closer to Regina, “Okay, that one I like, but don’t tell anyone…”

Snow put a hand to her mouth as she heard the last part of Emma’s sentence as she opened the door, “Oh, you’re pregnant?”

“What? No, we were…” Emma turned bright red and had to clear her throat a couple of times.

Regina spoke up, “May we come in Snow?”

Snow took a step back, “Of course, of course. What’s do you need?”

They walked into the main sitting room. David inclined his head towards them and kept feeding Little Neal his bottle. Regina waited for Emma to speak, and when she didn’t Regina spoke instead, “We’re leaving Storybrooke for awhile.”

“Oh. Do you need us to look after Henry?”

Emma finally got her voice back, “Ah, no, he’ll be staying at home since Zelena’s living at the mansion as well. But, if you would… look in on him. Make sure that he’s not convincing his aunt to let him have breakfast for every meal or whatever.”

Regina frowned, “He wouldn’t do that.”

Emma snorted a laugh, “Last year he wouldn’t have done that. This year, yeah, he eats everything that’s not bolted down, and at every meal.”

Snow cleared her throat, getting the conversation back on track, “Why are you leaving?”

“To find my son… my birth son. I love Henry, but...”

Snow looked between Emma and Regina with a frown, “And you’re going as well Regina?”

“Yes.”

Before anyone else could say anything Eva appeared at the doorway. She surveyed the room and frowned towards Regina, “You look just like her,” and then very royally dismissed Regina and turned with a smile to focus on Emma. “And you, I can tell that you are every bit my granddaughter.” Eva stepped in between Emma causing Regina to stumble backwards.

It was Snow who steadied her, and then had three whispered words for her former adversary, “I’m so sorry.”

Regina frowned over at Snow. “What?”

Snow shook her head and let go of Regina, “Mom, I think they’re on a schedule so…”

Eva made a pshaww sound, “What’s more important than family? So, when do I get to meet my grandson?”

Emma looked at a loss for words and so Regina answered, “When we find him.”

“I wasn’t speaking to you child. I was also meaning to ask, does he have a middle name? Henry is such a…”

Regina bristled her hand curling into a fist of its own accord, “You…”

Emma took two quick steps around Eva and put a hand on Regina’s chest, looking the dark haired woman straight in the eyes. “We’re not changing our son’s name.”

Snow took a step towards Eva, “Mother, we need to let them go. When they get back we’ll have a family sit down dinner.” Snow paused, “Perhaps Regina will make us some of her amazing Lasagna.”

Regina ignored Eva and met Snow’s eyes, “It’s just a recipe.”

Snow shook her head, “No. It’s not.”

Regina narrowed her eyes at Snow, “And how do you know that?”

Snow cleared her throat, “Well, I mean, I did used to be a bandit. I stole it.”

David spoke up, “It came out horribly.”

Snow shot David a look, “Not… that bad, but… yes, it wasn’t quite the same.”

Emma looked quite like she was trying her best not to crack up, and Eva seemed either disturbed or confused by the conversation. Regina though, seemed to be taking the conversation in stride, “The next time you make the ill gotten recipe I may be able to give you some pointers.”

“Oh, yes, of course, I mean, if you…” Snow paused, “It’s not a family recipe or something that you shouldn’t…”

A short burst of laughter came from Regina that surprised everyone in the room, “My mother hadn’t made a meal since she got married.” It was Regina to pause, “And… you are family Snow,” she glanced over at Emma, “are you not?”

Snow smiled and started to speak, but Little Neal decided that he didn’t want to be in his father’s arms anymore and let out a yell. Snow smiled at her little one and retrieved him from David. “Yes. Yes we are Regina.”

Regina cleared her throat and changed the subject, “David, do you have a moment?”

David frowned, “Yes, I mean…”

Regina nodded, “Town business. You’ll be serving as the Sheriff while we are gone?”

David nodded, “I, yes, I will, so…”

Regina gestured that he should go first, and after shooting a look at Snow he led the way out of the living room. Snow frowned and queried Emma, “Do you know what that was about?”

Emma shook her head, “I don’t.”

Eva frowned, “Emma, are you and she?”

“In love, raising our son, going to find our other son, bopping like bunnies. Yes to all of the above.”

Snow inclined her head towards her daughter, “Young lady.”

Emma smirked, “Sorry.” Little Neal gave a yawn and Emma’s smirk turned into a smile, “May I say goodbye to my little bro too?”

Snow handed Little Neal to Emma, “Of course. Now, you two will be careful?”

Emma nodded as she let Little Neal grab her fingers and try to stuff them into his mouth. “Always am.” She looked up, “After all, I have to get Regina back here so she can teach you how to properly make her lasagna.”

oOOOOo

David picked a room at random and entered. It happened to be the empty nursery. “What is it?”

Regina cleared her throat and first clasped her hands in front of her, then behind her, and then she just let her arms hang at her sides. “I lied. This is personal, not professional. Although most of me that would simply ask Emma the question, there is a part of me that still… I just.”

A smile came to David’s lips, “You’re asking for permission to marry my daughter?”

Regina shook her head, “I am not. I am… informing you that I plan to ask her. I would appreciate it if you were amenable to it, but, I will ask no matter what your answer is.”

His expression went serious and he put a hand on Regina’s shoulder. “Are you sure about this Regina?”

Regina took a step back, “So that answer is no?”

David put a hand up, “I’m sorry. That came out wrong. I meant… you haven’t had the easiest time when it comes to engagements and marriage. I’m worried about you Regina, not my daughter.”

“She…” Regina looked down at her hands for a moment, then back up at David, “This is the same, and yet so very different than Daniel, and I don’t mean her gender. And, we will not speak of Leopold.” David nodded. “I can’t promise you, or her that I’ll be perfect, but I love her David, and…”

David cut Regina off, “No one’s perfect Regina. Will you ask her today?”

Regina shook her head, “No. Not yet. After we get…” Regina trailed off.

“I think the word you’re looking for his home.”

Regina cleared her throat and straightened her shirt, “Yes, yes. When we get home. I still need to talk to my son, to Henry. I don’t believe that he would object… but still.”

David looked towards the door as a happy cry came from the living room and Little Neal. David nodded, “His opinion is important.” David put an arm around Regina’s shoulders and started towards the doors, “But I seriously doubt that he will have a problem with it Regina.” He only dropped the arm as they entered the living room.

Snow looked up, a look of relief on her face as she looked between Regina and David. “Everything all right?”

David practically beamed, “Oh, definitely my love. Definitely. But, as you said, we should let these two go.” Regina jumped a little as he hugged her, then he hugged his daughter, and stepped back taking Little Neal from her.

Snow had also hugged Regina, who was looking quite uncomfortable and giving Eva a bit of a wary look as if Snow’s mother might try and hug Regina as well. Eva didn’t. And then Snow finally hugged her daughter. “Be careful Emma.” She let go and looked over at Regina, “You too Regina. Keep each other safe.”

Emma rolled her eyes, “Yes mother…” She held out a hand and Regina grabbed onto it like she would a life preserver. They left the palace.

Snow had a hand to her chest and seemed to be hyperventilating just a little bit. David looked at his wife with concern, “Snow, are you alright?”

“She called me mother. I mean, she’s called you Dad. But, she… David, she called me mother.”

David smiled, “It was quite sarcastically though.”

Snow still beamed, “I don’t care. I just don’t care.”

Eva shook her head, “I believe that this… Storybrooke needs some sort of guide, perhaps accompanied by a family tree.”

oOOOOo

“So, what should we do next?”

Angra frowned, “You don’t have-- other responsibilities?”

Ruby shrugged, “I take my shifts at the diner. If we had actual guests at the Inn I’d clean the rooms a bit, but most of the permanent residents we have don’t want me to at the moment. Oh, and when stuff breaks, I try and fix it if Granny can’t.” Ruby paused, “This isn’t the big city, hell, it isn’t the small city or quite a real town at the moment either. So…”

Angra stopped Ruby in the middle of the sidewalk, “What do you want to do?”

Ruby shrugged, “Never really thought about it.”

“You should.”

Both women moved to one side as a pickup came towards them. Angra frowned, “Aunt Elsa?”

The truck stopped, and Elsa rolled down the window, “Just outta bed niece of mine?”

Milah chuckled from the passenger seat, while Ruby rolled her eyes, and Angra smirked, “You just wish it were you Auntie Elsa.” She glanced back at the bed of the truck, “What’cha doing?”

“Building a boat.”

Milah chimed in, “Ship.”

“Okay. We’re building a ship? What about you two?”

Angra shrugged, “Walking I guess. Good luck with your boat.” Angra looked past her aunt to Milah, “Just a warning. She’s all thumbs.”

Elsa hurfed, “Am not.”

Ruby laughed, and jumped a little when a hand came down on her shoulder. She turned, “Emma, Regina.”

“I’m glad we caught you Ruby. To say goodbye.”

Ruby frowned, “You’re going somewhere?”

Milah nodded to herself, “To find your kid huh?”

Emma looked a bit surprised at Milah’s words, but nodded, “Yes.” She glanced in the truck, “Building a boat?”

Milah made a face, “A ship. It’s…” She shook her head, “Never mind. Good luck on your journey Emma.”

“Yeah… you too.”

Milah put a hand over Elsa’s on the gear shift, “Drive Elsa, drive, we have a lot to do before night falls.”

Emma pulled Ruby in for a hug. “Keep the town safe Ruby.”

“Me?” Ruby gave Emma a pat on the back and pulled away, “Nah, David’ll do a good job with that.”

Emma studied Ruby for a long moment, then shrugged, “Then keep my mother safe from her mother…”

Ruby chuckled, “That I can do.” Then she got a serious look on her face, “Does she need rescuing at this moment?”

“Oh yeah.”

Ruby stuck a hand out towards Regina, then sort of moved in for a hug, and then just stood there. “I… you’re gonna keep Emma safe while you two do this thing?”

“Yes.”

Ruby nodded, “Good.”

As the two couples went their separate ways on the sidewalk Emma glanced down at her phone, “Okay. They’re still in the library.”

They continued down the sidewalk until they got to the corner. The library looked so much better than it had days before. Someone had even gone up and fixed the clock’s face on the tower. Replacing where Zelena had thrown Regina through it.

Belle looked up when they entered. “Regina, Emma… they’re in the microfilm room at the moment.”

Regina frowned, “Why?”

Belle glanced over her shoulder, “I think that Henry’s trying to find out what happened to Zelena’s former best friend. Glinda. Do you two need help?”

Emma shook her head, “No, just need to say good-bye to Henry.”

Regina chimed in, “And Zelena.” Regina looked around, “Someone needs to bring up the need for newer books in this place.”

Belle frowned, “Aren’t you the Mayor?”

Regina shook her head, “Not any longer, no. I believe that Snow is mostly in charge.”

“Because she cast this second curse?”

Regina looked askance at Belle, “No. Because she was the Queen of a good portion of the Enchanted Forest.”

“Oh…” Belle paused, “Right, so, you two probably want to leave soon, before it gets dark, so I should, ah, go find out if Henry and Zelena are okay.”

The two people in question appeared in the main part of the library talking. They trailed off when they saw Regina and Emma. Henry frowned, “Is something wrong?”

“No. But, we’re leaving…”

“Oh…” Henry nodded. “Yeah, so, I guess I’ll see ya, right?” Turning he retreated back the way he had come. Emma followed quickly after him, and Belle decided that it was time she disappeared for a bit into what had been the teeny tiny technical services office.

Zelena looked uncomfortable, “You should… I’ll be fine here.”

Regina shook her head, “Emma will get him to come back out here, I’ll say good-bye and then we’ll leave. I also wanted to say my good-byes to you Zelena.” Regina put a hand on one of Zelena’s shoulders, paused, and then pulled her into a hug.

Out of the corner of her eye she saw Henry and Emma emerge from the microfilm room, but didn’t let go of her sister quite yet. She spoke in her sister’s ear so that only Zelena could hear her. “Protect our town, okay?” She took a step back and met Zelena’s eyes.

Zelena nodded, “Yes. Yes, and…”

“..and Henry.”

Zelena was silent, “And I’ll be… good.”

Regina raised an eyebrow and a half a smirk came to her face, “Don’t be too good. Just, don’t be evil. You could always stop in and give Snow some grief on my behalf.”

Zelena studied Regina for a moment, “You are very… complicated.”

Emma and Henry stopped next to Zelena and Regina, “Did I hear you tell your sister to give my mother a hard time?”

Henry hugged Regina without a seconds hesitation, that made Regina smile, although, there was also the fact that her son was nearly as tall as she was, that was a little more of a depressing thought. Regina kissed the side of his head and let go before she answered Emma’s question. “Yes, I did give Zelena those instructions. After all, without a proper villain, how will Snow stay a hero?” Regina held Emma’s gaze for a moment, then a smile came to her lips.

Emma rolled her eyes. “Right.” She shook her head, “Don’t get into too much trouble you two. Henry said that he’s helping you search for Glinda?”

Zelena nodded, “If that’s alright.”

Emma smirked, “Everyone needs their happy ending, right?”

Henry pointed at the microfilm room, “Mom, Moms, we should get back to work.”

Emma ruffled his hair, “Don’t forget to feed him too.”

“I…”

Regina cut off her sister, “Just because you might forget to feed your son doesn’t mean that my sister will you know.”

Emma grasped Regina’s hand as they started out of the library, “Oh, you totally forgot to feed him at least once in your life. I have your memories, sorta, remember? I can feel it. C’mon, fess up.”

Regina narrowed her eyes, “You are mistaken, and there will be no… fessing up of anything because it didn’t happen.”

“Uh, huh, riiggghhhtt…. keep telling yourself that Mills.”

Zelena turned to Henry, “Does romantic love in this realm often involve making fun of each other?”

Henry shrugged, “No idea.”

Belle had appeared again, and spoke up, “No idea at all Henry?”

Henry said nothing in response, but did turn a very, very dark shade of red.

oOOOOo

The light show was spectacular. A circle slowly formed and then in a snap was a whirling mass of energy. A young girl stumbled through the hole in the world and it popped closed behind her. She slowly turned in a circle, a sword grasped to her chest. She found herself in some sort of giant cavern of stone. But, then as she finished her turn she saw a gate of some sort. “Civilization?” She mumbled and slowly walked towards it.

One hand still holding the sword she opened the gate and went through. She had only just closed it when the small room she was in started moving upwards.

She took out the sword and held it in front of her. She wasn’t great with it yet, her father had only just started teaching her, but she knew which part to stick into people if they attacked her.

The room stopped, and the door opened. She jumped out and frowned. She was above ground, and surrounded by books. The darkness of night came in through the windows as well. She shook her head, “This is not what I expected.”

Chapter Text

“Rumple…”

Rumpelstiltskin leaned down and kissed Belle, “My dear why on earth are you still here?” He glanced around the library.

“Research.” She looked up, “And I haven’t been here the whole time, I went for some dinner at Granny’s earlier.” She frowned, “When I got back the door was open. I could have sworn that I locked it behind me though…”

“You do tend to get... “ He tilted his head, “...wrapped up in your books.” Rumpelstiltskin took one of the books off of Belle’s done pile, “Oz? You’re looking into Zelena?”

Belle stood and held her jacket out. Rumpelstiltskin took it and helped her into it, “Actually, I’m not, I’m looking for Glinda.”

Rumpelstiltskin frowned, “The Good Witch of the South? Why?”

Belle locked the library’s front door, then pulled at it. It stayed closed and locked. She threaded her arm through Rumpelstiltskin’s and they started down the sidewalk home. “Yes, apparently before Zelena went wicked, she knew Glinda. I’m unsure why exactly, either because they were friends or perhaps she wants to make amends.” Belle paused, “Have you seen her yet Rumple?”

“Zelena, no. She…”

Belle squeezed Rumpelstiltskin’s arm, “It’s complicated.” Belle was silent again for a moment, “To change the subject, apparently Elsa and your ex-wife are building a ship. Elsa invited us to help.”

“Milah agreed to this help… from me?”

“She did. Have you ever built a ship?”

Rumpelstiltskin pushed open the door to their house, “I have not, and my guess is neither have they.”

Belle both their coats and followed Rumpelstiltskin into the kitchen. She watched as he opened the fridge. “They’re both at a crossroads in their lives. I’d like to help them, but only if--”

Rumpelstiltskin turned, “You know you don’t need my permission Belle.”

“I know. But now with me at the library, you at your shop. This could be something we do together. But… only if you want to.”

Rumpelstiltskin turned back towards the refrigerator. Then closed it again and faced Belle. “Love, I would do anything for you, but not…”

Belle put a hand on Rumpelstiltskin’s arm, “It’s okay. I understand.”

oOOOOo

As the yellow Bug crossed the town line Emma glanced over at Regina.

Regina pointedly stared forward, “I’m still me.”

Emma let out a breath, “That’s good.”

“Do you really believe that. Perhaps a different me, one who knows nothing of magic, would be better?”

Emma glanced over at Regina, “Of course I believe that it’s good that you’re still you. I love you.”

“Just because you love someone doesn’t mean you like them. Look at me and my mother.” Emma pulled over to the side of the road, “Emma, what are you…”

Emma turned in the driver’s seat. “Listen very carefully to me Regina Mills. I like you. And since I most definitely know what it’s like not to like you, that means I know the difference. So, I love you, I like you, all of the above. I get that happy endings are scary for you, and you think that you’re hiding it, but I can see it in your eyes Regina. And I’m scared as hell too you know?” Emma put her hand over Regina’s, “Look. We’re gonna go on this trip to find my son, and along the way we’re even gonna have some fun, and you’re going to smile at least once.”

Regina looked down at their intertwined hands, then brought Emma’s up and kissed the palm of it. “I love you too Emma…” Emma raised her eyebrows, and a small smile came to Regina’s lips, “And I like you.”

Emma leaned across the gearshift and kissed Regina. Unfortunately it was cut short as the car started rolling down the slight incline they were on. “Shit, shit, shit…” Emma managed to scramble her feet and they stopped rolling with a jerk. Emma put a hand to her heart, “Sorry that…”

Regina shook her head, “You didn’t set the parking brake.”

Emma mumbled, “Didn’t know I needed to…”

Regina cleared her throat, “We should… keep going. Boston?”

Emma sighed and sat forward again, putting the Bug into gear and pulling back onto the road. “Yep. I know someone in the BPD.” She reached down and flipped on the after market stereo. Apparently it had been left on very loud and the lyrics that came from it made Regina blink in surprise,

Than spend one more minute with you
I'd rather rip my heart out of my ribcage with my bare hands
and then throw it on the floor and stomp on it 'till I die
Than spend one more minute with you.

Emma scrambled with one hand to either turn off the stereo or at least turn it down. After a few seconds which felt like an hour to her she managed to get the volume to a reasonable level. “Sorry, sorry. Henry must have…”

Regina cut Emma off, “Henry? You’re going to blame our son?”

Emma blushed a bit, “He loves Weird Al… almost as much as I do…”

Regina let Emma’s hang a second, “I will admit that his songs grew on me when Henry was listening to some of the tamer ones constantly as a child.”

Emma looked over at Regina for a second, “Really?”

Regina nodded, “Do you have a favorite?”

Emma shrugged, “Not really, you?”

“Lasagna.”

Emma shot Regina a look, “Seriously?”

“Yes.”

“I’d have never--”

“--guessed that I listened to something other than Mahler and read author’s other than Chaucer and Balzac? I’ll have you know that I find the work of Mark Waid, Kelly Sue DeConnick, and Gail Simone both interesting as well as fun to read.”

Emma drove in stunned silence for a bit before she asked another question, “Are you a closet sports fan too?”

Regina bristled, “Of course not. It saddens me that something so depraved and violent is the pastime of so many smart people.”

Emma was silent again, then smirked, “Go Pats?”

“You find yourself hilarious?”

Emma shrugged, “Most days-- yep. Ooh-- here’s Lasagna--”

La-la-la-la-lasagna
You want-a some-a lasagna magnifico
Or a-maybe spaghetti
Ay, you supper's a-ready now, where you go”

oOOOOo

“Dinner time Henry.”

Henry marked his place in the book he was reading and bounced up from the couch. “Comin’, smells really good.”

He was nearly to the kitchen when the doorbell rang. “I’ve got it.”

He opened the door and looked confusedly at the people on the other side. “Ah… hey g’ma, g’pa… Eva… What are you guys doing here?”

Snow spoke, Little Neal in her arms, “We had a… situation…”

Zelena came out of the kitchen and into the entryway. “Is everything alright? My sister?”

Snow waved a hand, “No, no… it was…” She cleared her throat, “My… ah…”

Eva shook her head, “What my daughter does not wish to say is that while I tried to make something for all of us to eat…”

David finished Eva’s sentence, “She burned us out of the palace. Which, is quite impressive actually.”

Henry put a hand over his mouth, “I…” A laugh came from behind the hand anyway. He glanced at Zelena. “I mean, we could order Pizza or…”

Zelena shook her head, “Don’t be silly. Come in, eat with us. I made breaded chicken, I…” Zelena trailed off, lost somewhere in her past. She shook her head, “I made a lot. Please… take off your coats, I was just putting it on the table.”

The adults took off their jackets, “Oh, Henry, do you know if your mother still has your high chair?”

Henry nodded, “Yeah, I think it’s in the attic, I’ll get it. Aunt Zelena, could you help me?”

“Of course.” Zelena started towards the stairs as the three adults and Little Neal disappeared into the kitchen area.

Henry put a hand on Zelena’s elbow, only the gentlest of touches, “Aunt Zelena. You made this for your adopted Dad?”

Zelena patted Henry on the hand, “I’m alright my nephew, let’s…”

Henry didn’t touch her, but stepped in front of the red head, “Please. Listen. I know good food smells vs. bad ones. I’ve lived with both the best cook I’ve ever seen and the worst.” He smiled a little, “You can probably guess which is which. Anyway. I know good food when I smell it. And… whatever your Dad said to you about what you made him to eat. He was stupid and a jerk and he was wrong, because everyone is going to love what you made.”

Zelena shook her head and kissed the side of Henry’s head, “Let’s go find this… higher chair?”

“High chair, it’s so that Little Neal doesn’t have to sit on someone’s lap the whole meal. If you could hold down the stairs to the attic I can definitely get it.” He paused, “And then I need to get something from my room for Eva too…”

oOOOOo

“Angra?”

“Hey Aunt Elsa-- still building your ship?”

Elsa didn’t look up, “If you’re here to give me the business-- just leave.”

Angra blinked, “Did you just say, ‘give you the business’?”

“A valdi saying--”

“Yeah, for an eighty year old.”

Elsa finally looked up with a roll of her eyes, “Are you here to help or give me shit?” She paused, “Better?”

Angra smirked, “Better. Ruby came with me…”

Elsa gave Angra a look, “Of course she did…”

Angra ignored the barb, “...and I think I saw Belle coming this way too. So, how do you want me to help?”

Elsa stopped what she was doing and walked over to a bunch of books that were splayed open. “Here’s what we’re doing…”

oOOOOo

Milah glanced over Belle’s shoulder. “No Rumpelstiltskin?”

Belle quickly shook her head, “No Rumple, no…” She gave a tight smile to Ruby, “Hello Ruby.”

“Belle.”

“You’re helping?”

Ruby shrugged, “Angra’s idea.”

“Good, good.”

Milah glanced between the two women for a moment, then shook her head, “Elsa’s in the back.” They were all in the front room of one of the unused warehouses that backed up onto the waterfront. It even had a dock as well. “If you follow the voices you’ll be able to find them. I’ll be back in a moment.”

Milah watched as the two women started walking to the back of the warehouse. At one point their hands brushed and both of the women jumped. Milah just shook her head.

oOOOOo

Eva carefully moved her chair from the table a bit and smiled, “That was a delightful meal Zelena. I never thought…”

“That a bastard could cook so well.”

Snow gasped, “Zelena.”

Zelena looked down, “I apologize…”

Henry stood and went over to where he’d left what he’d gotten from his room. “I--” He cleared his throat and everyone looked at him, “I think that maybe you’re having a little trouble-- sorta-- adjusting and stuff, but, I wrote this, and I have three others like it too.” He handed her a bound journal with the title, ‘Year One’, written on it. “When you’re done with this one, I can give you the next one if you want. It basically tells the story of everything that happened.”

Eva opened the journal and read the first lines aloud, “My journey started when my favorite teacher, Miss Mary Margaret Blanchard gave me a book titled ‘Once Upon a Time’. I read it in no time flat, and when I came to the finals pages, when I came to the part where Emma was born, I knew who she was. I don’t know how I knew that she was my mother, but I knew it nonetheless and I had to find her.” Eva paused and looked up at Henry, “Mary Margaret?”

Henry pointed at the inside of the cover. “There’s a chart right there.”

“Oh…” She smiled, “Thank you Henry. I think this may help quite a bit.”

Henry bit the inside of his lip as he looked at Snow and David, “It’s not all awesome. I mean, I did not nice stuff, my Moms did not nice stuff, and-- I mean, even Snow and others did not nice stuff.”

Snow stood and started getting Little Neal out of the high chair, “We should go because you young man need to get to bed.”

Henry gave Snow a look, but didn’t dispute her statement. “I’ll get your coats.” He went out to the entrance way, then back into the dining room and dropped them over the back of one of the chairs. Then he retreated back into the entrance way.

As Snow and David continued to get Little Neal ready to go Eva came up beside Henry. Coat on, journal in hand. “Thank you Henry.”

“You’re welcome.”

“I feel as though we got off on the wrong foot young Henry. I thought of Storybrooke as a copy of the Enchanted Forest. I have begun reading the journal and this world is much different than I thought it was.” She paused, “I simply have one question for you. Did that daughter of the b-- witch-- treat you well Henry?”

Henry frowned, “No, she treated me amazing. Like a prince… and she loves me too.” He glanced over Eva’s shoulder and met Snow’s eyes. Snow winced, Henry spoke, “I think everybody’s ready to go.”

Eva turned, then turned back to Henry and held up the journal, “I will take care of this young Henry.”

He walked to the door and held it open for Eva, who stepped through it very regally. Snow reached out as she went by and hugged him with one arm, the other filled with a fast asleep Little Neal. “If you need anything…”

Henry kissed Snow’s cheek, “I won’t, but thank you.”

David clapped Henry on the shoulder, “Good-night Henry.”

“Night.” He closed the door behind David and sagged against it. “That was a stupid idea.”

Zelena had a bit of a bemused smirk on her face, “I believe it was your idea Henry.”

“Yeah, sorry ‘bout that Aunt Zelena.”

“Everyone lived, no one got turned into a frog.” She paused, “Now…”

Henry nodded and cut Zelena off, “I know, I know… bed. But tomorrow I think I know where we should start our search for Glinda.”

“Oh?”

Henry nodded, “We were just there-- well-- sorta…”

Chapter Text

Regina glanced over and up as she and Emma walked around the corner to get to the entrance of the BPD where they were meeting Emma’s contact. The Pru stood in the distance and a part of her wished that she was way over there. But she had gotten herself into helping and she did want Emma to find her son. “What’s your Detective’s name again?”

“She’s not my detective-- her name is Jane Rizzoli.” A dark haired woman who looked every bit the cop and a blonde who definitely wasn’t a police officer came out of the station and down the steps.

Jane clapped Emma on the shoulder, “Swan. This her?”

Emma inclined her head, “It is, and the lovely woman with you?”

Jane shot Emma a look, “I’m going to pretend that you didn’t imply what I think you implied. Coffee?”

Emma nodded, “Lead the way.” She fell in next to Jane, leaving Regina and the blonde to study one another.

Regina held out a hand, “Regina Mills.”

“Maura Isles.” Maura shook Regina’s hand, “Shall we follow them? It seems that they’ve left us behind. Usually Jane prefers to have her coffee in the coffee shop in the station. So, this must be big.”

“We’re looking for someone.”

The two women started after Jane and Emma, “Oh?”

“Emma’s birth son.”

Maura was silent for a moment, “Are you two a couple?” Regina was so silent and for so long that Maura spoke again. “My apologies if that was too personal.”

“No, no, it’s alright, and yes, we are. It’s just a bit new. You two?”

“What? No--” Maura looked forward as Jane’s back for a long beat. “I just broke up with a man named Jack. He was a good man. He had a delightful daughter, and I’m still unsure why I didn’t love him.”

“A bit taller than you, dark hair, there when needed, but not too pushy either. Easy to smirk, but also easy with a shoulder to cry on?”

Maura stopped in her tracks and stared at Regina, “How did you know all that about Jack?”

Regina kept walking and spoke over her shoulder, “I wasn’t talking about Jack.”

oOOOOo

“Young lady, are you alright?” The girl from below the library whirled around, her sword in front of her. Archie backed up a couple of steps. “I don’t want to hurt you? But you seem lost, and…” He studied the girl, there was something about her that seemed familiar. “Do you have a name? Mine is Archie, Archie Hopper.”

The girl stared daggers at Archie for a moment, then inclined her head, “Mei, my name is Li Mei .” She paused, “I’m looking for my mother. Fa Mulan.”

Archie was at a loss for what to say to that.

oOOOOo

Snow came down into the living level of the apartment and put a hand to her heart. “Mother… I didn’t…” She came closer to Eva. “Did you sleep at all last night?”

“No dear, not at all, this is all…”

Snow frowned, “Is that the second of Henry’s books, how did you..?”

Eva waved a hand towards Snow, “I used your communication device to call him this morning. He dropped off the next two on his way to…” Eva paused and looked up, “Hmm… he did not actually say where he and Zelena were going.”

Snow groaned, “That can’t be good.”

Eva met Snow’s eyes, “He seems to have multiple guardian angels here in Storybrooke. I wouldn’t worry too much about him. Now you… young lady are you sure that you should allow Cora’s daughter to…”

It was actually David who cut her off as he came down the stairs and handed Little Neal to Snow. “...Regina has changed, not to mention the fact that even as she’s gotten kicked in the head over and over, she’s still saved this town many times. She’s not perfect, but, who of is in this town. We played by different rules in the Enchanted Forest.” He paused, “Keep reading.”

Eva regarded David for a moment, then turned to Snow, “Of the many choices you’ve made since I died, he was definitely the best.”

Snow looked a bit confused, “Thank you… I think.”

David just chuckled. “So, did I hear something about Henry and Zelena going off somewhere?”

Snow sighed, “You did. Will you put the word out to keep an eye out for them David?”

David gave a half a salute as he gathered his leather jacket into his hands, “Will do. I’m going to go in, let Leroy out of the drunk tank.”

Snow winced, “Did he and Nova have a fight again?” David shrugged, “Perhaps I should have a talk with her.”

Little Neal let it be known that he was hungry and not gonna take it anymore. “I think that feeding the little one is probably first on your list.” David leaned down, “Love you Snow,”

“Love you too David. Stay safe.”

oOOOOo

Elsa jerked up a shot of ice magic hitting the wall across from where she was. In bed. With a very, very naked Milah next to her. She took slow deep breaths and once she was sure that she had control over her powers again she put a hand to her head that was pounding. “Uhhh…”

“Good Mornin’ sunshine.”

Elsa slowly looked over. “Is it? Good I mean? I-- I remember building the boat, and then Angra challenged you to a drinking contest of some sort, and then Belle and I got involved as well and…”

Milah chuckled, “You can’t hold your liquor Elsa.”

Elsa glanced down at herself and let out a halfway relieved breath. She climbed out of bed, still in the clothes she had been wearing the previous night. “Yes, well… I didn’t drink at all in jail, so, I need to up my tolerance a little slower I think.” She looked around. “Where do you think my niece and Ruby got to?”

Milah yawned and sat up, Elsa quickly turned away and that got a roll of the eyes from Milah. “Probably went back to Ruby’s, fucking like bunnies. Or…”

When Milah didn’t elaborate Elsa turned, prepared for anything. Milah had put on a sleep shirt and was pulling on some sleep pants as well. “Or?”

“What, you didn’t see how Belle and Ruby were looking at each other? Well… I take that back. I don’t think that Belle really understands what she’s feeling, but Ruby… you can see it in her eyes. She feels something for that poor girl and knows that she can never do anything about it.”

Elsa frowned, “Ah, yes, I didn’t see that at all. Ruby and Angra were… practically…” Elsa shook her head.

“Overcompensating.” Milah paused, “Have you ever wanted to go up against The Dark One, see if you can survive?”

Elsa’s frown deepened. “I thought that he was… better. That he had magic, but not the dagger’s evil influence anymore?”

Milah’s lips thinned into a line, “Enough about my ex and his fiancee.” A grin came back onto her face. “You thought that we’d slept together, didn’t you.”

Elsa narrowed her eyes at Milah, “Well, you are a pirate aren’t you?”

That brought a hearty laugh to Milah. “I guess I am. Building a boat and everything. So, what are we going to name it?”

“The Anna?”

Milah made a face as she went past Elsa and into the rest of the house. “Ugh, no.”

Elsa bristled, “Hey, that was my sister’s name.”

“Yeah, so… No, it’s gotta be something… we’ll think of it.” She paused, “Breakfast?”

oOOOOo

“So, basically you just want me for my connection to the database you need. And by that you mean the… grey-ish connection to the database you need.”

“You said…”

Jane put a hand up, “S’okay. You and Maura stay here-- Regina is it?” Regina nodded, “We’ll go in and take a peek where we shouldn’t.”

Emma shook her head, “I’l g--”

Jane put a hand on Emma’s arm as she stood, “No-- they know you in there.” She glanced at Regina as the dark haired woman stood, “And I think we’ll go with lawyer if anyone happens to ask.” Regina started to say something in response, then instead leaned down and kissed Emma.

Emma watched as the two dark haired women went back outside, “She’ll keep Regina out of trouble.”

“I’m not worried about Regina--” Emma focused on Maura, “What do you do by the way? I don’t think that Jane’s ever talked about you.”

“I’m an ME for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. How do you know Jane?”

“I was a bail bondsman.”

“And now?”

“A Sheriff in a small Maine town.”

Maura’s brow creased a bit, “I thought that the office of Sheriff was a county position in both Maine and Massachusetts.”

Emma shrugged, “You might be right. But, then again, there’s a lot about Storybrooke that’s different.”

oOOOOo

Archie kept looking over at Mei, shaking his head, and then concentrating on where they were going. After a few more steps he glanced over again, a confused look on his face, “You know English?”

“Yes.”

“And Mulan, she knows that you’re coming?”

“No.”

Archie frowned, “But, you’re her daughter.”

“Yes.”

Archie’s frown deepened, “Does she know that?”

Mei paused almost imperceptibly before speaking, “No.”

They finally arrived at Aurora and Mulan’s castle. Mei looked around and for the first time since Archie had met her, looked concerned and not quite in control. “I-- this world, I don’t understand it.”

Archie smiled and raised the giant knocker, knocking on the door. “At the moment we don’t entirely understand it either. We’re… in a bit of a limbo. There was a curse, and then another curse, and then the original curse was put back, sort of, but then broken, sort of... Right now it seems as though we’re moving towards something, and big, but…” He put a hand on her shoulder and she jerked a little, “...it will be okay. Everything will turn out alright.”

It was Mulan who answered the door, Little Phillip in her arms. Her eyes went from Archie to Mei and her face went slack. “Oh--”

Chapter Text

“Aunt Zelena, I think we’re lost.”

Zelena winced, then blew out a breath, “Your mother… no, no, your mothers are going to kill me. Probably slowly and with much pain.”

Henry laughed, “Nah. Mom’s… Emma’s cool, and my Mom… Regina, she’s not like she was even… like, last month. We’ll find Glinda and then get outta here.”

oOOOOo

Regina and Jane were nearly back to the station when Regina spoke, “You should tell her you love her. Being in love, admitting that to the one you love is scarier than anything you’ve ever done, and as a cop you’ve probably done some very scary things. But, it’s worth it.”

Jane glanced over, “Tell who… whom?”

Regina hid a smile, “The person that corrected you on that particular grammar enough times that you remembered it.”

Jane gave a Regina a look as she went through the security checkpoint, then spoke to the officer manning the gate. After a moment she waved Regina through the metal detector.

They were the only ones to get into the elevator and when the doors closed Regina asked, “You’re planning on lying to your partner?”

Jane shook her head, “No, Frankie and Korsak are serving an arrest warrant on the other side of town, so, we have a window.”

“Emma must have done something quite impressive to garner such a favor as this.”

Jane nodded, “She did. She could have collected on quite a bounty, instead she let me watch him until I could close my case and arrest him instead. So, yeah.”

They exited the elevator and went to Jane’s desk. Jane watched Regina and if she didn’t know better she would have sworn that Regina was in fact a high end defense lawyer down to the way that she perched on the visitor’s chair as if she owned the entire precinct.

Jane sat behind her desk and logged onto her computer, and then into the database they needed. She spoke, “So. Do you know the child’s name?”

“No. We know he was a he, that he was born in Phoenix, Arizona to a prisoner at that point, and his birth date.” Regina told Jane the date in 2001.

Jane typed it all in and waited. “So, what’re you going to do if you two find this kid?”

I’m unsure. I guess it depends.”

“On?”

“What his situation is.”

Jane looked at the screen, “Okay-- are both his parents white?” Regina nodded, “So there go a couple. Ah-- I’m still showing five though. Let’s see-- do you think you can tell if they’re related to either of the parents?”

Regina frowned, “From baby photos?”

Jane shook her head, “Actually no… two of them have records.” She swiveled the monitor so Regina could see it and Regina gasped.

“That... “ She pointed to the blond young boy on the screen, “Him, what’s his name?”

“Neville Chance Schwangau, why?”

“That’s him-- can you print it?”

Jane nodded, “Of course.”

“Why is he in the system?”

“Let’s see--” Jane turned the screen back and typed for a moment. “He ran away from his foster home.”

Regina shook her head, “Please tell me you read that wrong Detective. Please tell me that he’s not 13 and still in a foster home?”

Jane frowned, “No. But I thought that you, you’d…” Jane fell silent.

“Do I want to bring him home to Maine and shower him with love alongside Emma and Henry every day for the rest of his life. Of course, but I would have rather had him be in a happy home than with us.”

Jane stood, grabbed a folder and went over to the printer, gathering up the pages. “Let’s go.”

Regina stood and followed Jane back out of the station. Jane was silent until they were entirely outside of the building. “You and Maura spoke while we were going to the coffee shop.”

Regina nodded, “We did. She told me about a man named Jack. How she couldn’t figure out why they’d broken up.”

“So?”

Regina shook her head, “She loves you Detective. Jack was tall, dark, and handsome, he was kind and smart, and… if I had to guess I’d say that he was always understanding of… what makes Maura unique. He was you with just a bit less of a second X chromosome.”

Jane frowned and seemed to be in thought. She was silent until they got back to Maura and Emma.

Emma looked up, “Success?”

Jane handed Emma one of the printouts, the picture. She blinked and brought the picture closer. Finally she looked up at Regina and Jane. “Do you know where he is now?”

Jane shook her head as Regina answered, “We didn’t find that, just that he ran away from his foster home in… Arizona…” Regina glanced at Jane and she nodded.

Emma took out her phone and scrolled through her contacts. Finally she chose one and dialed. “Hey Jones, it’s Swan. I need you to find some info on a kid.” She looked at another of the printed pages. “Name’s Neville C. Schwangau, S-c-h-w-a-n-g-a-u. I know he ran away, if you could give me somewhere to start then I’d be grateful. Thanks.”

She hung up. Regina asked, “Jones?”

“Lena Jones, a PI I know down there. Now we just have to wait.”

Maura spoke up, “We need to get back to work, but, would you two like to come to dinner tonight?”

Regina and Emma answered at the same time,

“Sounds fun.”

“No, that’s okay.”

The two women’s eyes met as Maura laughed, “Perhaps by then you’ll know where you need to go next. And so, it can be a send off of sorts.”

Emma glanced at Regina who said nothing, then she focused on Maura again. “Sure, do you have an address?”

Maura wrote it on a napkin and Regina blinked in surprise, “Fibonacci’s sequence?”

“Yes.”

Both women’s phones rang, “Isles.”

“Rizzoli.”

They both listened for a few moments then hung up. Jane spoke, “We have to go.”

Maura nodded, “And please, do come to dinner. Any friends of Jane’s are welcome in my home.” With that they left Regina and Emma alone at the table.

Silence reigned for a bit, then Regina broke the silence. “Show me something.”

Emma smirked, “Anything?”

That pulled a half a smile from Regina, “In Boston. We have time before dinner, and probably before your Ms. Jones gets back to you. Show me something that-- that makes you smile, makes you happy in Boston.”

“Hmm…” Emma stood, put some money on the table and held her hand out to Regina. “I know just the place.”

oOOOOo

“My daughter…”

Aurora looked between Mulan and the girl who had introduced herself as Li Mei but didn’t interrupt with the hundreds of questions that were running through her head. Instead she rocked Phillip in her arms to keep him quiet.

Mei nodded. “My father is Li Shang.”

Mulan started to get up, then didn’t. She opened her mouth more than once. “You— I don’t understand it.”

Mei had almost the exact same confused look on her face that her mother did. “You do not remember me?”

Mulan reached across the space between them and put her hand on Mei’s cheek for a moment, as if checking to make sure that she was hallucinating the child sitting in front of her. “You… I do, but, you died… you died fourteen years ago.”

Mei blinked. “I don’t… think I did. My…” She paused for a moment, “Aunt raised me because my father was a soldier, and you…” Mei looked down, “You did not want me.”

Mulan pulled back as if shocked. “I…” She stood. “I need a moment.” And with that she was gone from the room.

Aurora and Mei sat there in slightly uncomfortable silence. “Mulan, she wouldn’t have.. Not wanted you.”

Mei looked up and with an edge to her voice spoke, “And how do you know that?”

Aurora smiled, “Two reasons. One, she’s amazing with Little Phillip here, and he has no familial connection to her. And two, I know her and love her. Trust me when I say that if she had known that you were still alive she would have searched Heaven and Earth to find you.”

Mei stared at Aurora for a long moment, then shook her head and looked away, “None of it matters though.”

Aurora frowned and stood, “Will you hold Phillip for a moment? I’ll go find her. Make sure she’s okay.”

“I don’t…”

Aurora put the young boy in Mei’s arms, “You’re fourteen right? He’ll be fine with you.” She gave Mei just a little bit of a stern look, “Just don’t drop him.”

Aurora left the room as well and Mei looked down at Little Phillip, “How… how do I tell them that— none of it matters because the world’s, all the worlds are coming to an end.”

oOOOOo

“You’re not making fun.”

Regina and Emma sat on a bench. People of all ages walked by as the two women sat and looked up at the wall in front of them. “I do know the difference between teasing and mean. But, may I ask, why this place, this map?”

“Two reasons actually. I used the map to memorize Massachusetts. And it just… it’s relaxing as well--” Emma shook her head, “Which sounds certifiable.”

Regina regarded Emma, “Really, after the last four years-- sitting in a Science Museum and studying a map is what you think is certifiable?”

“Ah-- okay. Valid point to the former mayor.”

Regina stared up at the map as Emma watched her, “You took Henry to Museums in New York?”

Emma nodded, “I did. We went to many of them, yes. His favorite was The Cloisters. I think… in retrospect, perhaps it reminded him of his closeness with the fairy tales. It being all things Medieval architecture and art. Or…” Emma trailed off, “Or was that you?”

Regina turned to Emma and took the blonde’s hands in her own, “No, no Emma. I-- Henry was Henry, you were you, I simply gave you my-- my memories of raising Henry, and replaced myself with… with you in his memories.”

“So-- you kept the program the same, you just added a few years of files?”

“Yes.”

“I-- I wondered.”

Regina gave Emma’s hands a squeeze. “You should have asked.”

Emma grinned sheepishly, “Guess we’re both still working on this huh?”

“Emma, thank you for bringing me here.”

Emma stood and pulled Regina up, “Once we’ve found this Neville there’s somewhere else I’d like to show you.”

“In Massachusetts?”

“In Maine.” She glanced at a clock on the wall, “We should get to Rizzoli and Isles’ place.”

Regina shook her head, “I think that only Dr. Isles lives there.”

Emma chuckled, “And yet they scream that they’re in love though.”

Regina shook her head, “It can be scary, scarier than saving the world from a green woman, or defusing a magic gem bomb, or many other things.” Regina paused for a moment, “Speaking of love, we should call our son.”

oOOOOo

“Are you sure you have it Aunt Zelena.”

“I’m not your AUNT.” Henry ducked as some debris fell onto his face, and Zelena grunted with pain. Her hands held out, the magic barely holding up the ceiling above them. “Sorry Henry.”

“S’okay.” He glanced over at Zelena, “But, for the record, you totally are.”

Zelena hurfed, “Not helping Henry.” Henry’s phone rang and Zelena looked at it as if it would sprout horns, “We’re down here in this… this pit, and… while the ceilings won’t stay up, you get cell reception?”

Henry winced as he looked at the display. “It’s my Mom.” He answered it and moved to the side as more small rocks rained down from the ceiling. “Hey Mom.” He paused and listened, “Yes, hey Mom. No, no, we’re fine.” Henry rolled his eyes, “Yes, Zelena’s with me. Yes Mom. I love you two too. Bye.”

Zelena regarded her nephew, sweat beading on her forehead, “You didn’t tell them where we are. What’s happening?”

Henry shrugged, “How’re they going to help?”

Zelena closed an eye as another rain of pebbles nearly took it out, “Valid point.”

“So, on three?”

Zelena shook her head, “How about on… NOW.” They both dove out the doorway that led to the next room.

oOOOOo

“11235… Eureka.” Emma gave Regina a curious look as she knocked on the door. Regina shrugged, “Henry watched a lot of Square One TV, and Mathnet especially as a child. I couldn’t get him to sleep after he watched the Rear Window-like week of episodes.”

Emma frowned, “Wasn’t that a late 80s show?”

“It was… you do realize that until you were brought to town with Henry we were basically stuck in the 1980s.”

Emma was saved from answering as a woman answered the door. She looked like an older version of Jane. “Hell, you must be Emma and Regina. I’m Angela Rizzoli-- Jane’s my daughter. They’re still-- ah-- stuck at work.” She stepped back, “But, come in, come in. Are you two in town long?”

Emma answered, “No.” She sniffed, “What is that smell?”

“I’m making a beef stew for dinner.”

“Sounds and smells wonder Mrs. Rizzoli.”

“Ms. But, please, call me Angela.”

Regina inclined her head, “Of course.”

Before anyone else had to come up with topics for small talk the door opened and Maura came in, followed closely by Jane who was talking animatedly. Jane trailed off, “Ah-- Ma-- guess that you’ve met Emma and Regina.”

Maura carefully hung up her jacket, and then walked to the chair over which Jane had draped her blazer, and picked it up. Regina watched Maura as she put the hanger into the sleeves. It was when she was halfway through hanging it up when she paused for a long beat. Then she finished hanging it up and turned. Her eyes traveled over the room and four other people in it. Jane, Emma, and Angela were laughing at something Jane had just said. And when Maura and Regina’s gazes met Maura’s brow furrowed for a moment, then she shook her head and walked over to everyone. Regina did as well. “Thank you for cooking tonight Angela.”

“Of course. And let’s dig in before it gets cold.”

They all helped bring the serving dishes to the table. Angela sat at the head of the table, Regina and Emma on one side, and Jane and Maura on the other.

Everyone was silent as they ate. It was Angela who finally broke the silence, “Are you two… together?”

“Ma.”

“What, we live in Massachusetts, and maybe I didn’t get to vote for it, but it’s been ten years and I know people got married and are so much happier than I ever was with your father.”

Emma put a hand over her mouth, stopping a chuckle, and answered, “No, it’s okay Angela. We’re not married, but we are together, yes. We-- I--”

Regina took up the story, “We met when my son came down to Boston about three years ago. He found Emma, he thought she was his birth mother. She drove him back home. We met.”

Angela put a hand to her heart, “Love at first sight?”

Emma laughed, “Not quite.” And Regina shot her a look, “What, you know it’s true. But, since that first night we, and our family have been through a lot.” She reached over and tangled the fingers of her right hand with Regina’s left one, “and I’ve grown to love her more than I thought I’d love anyone. That night I was so alone, and tonight, I have more family than I know what to do with.”

Jane rolled her eyes and made a bit of a noise. Maura glanced over, “Even I understand that what Emma just told us is quite the romantic story.”

Jane shook her head, “Love isn’t about some great story, it’s about the day to day-- it’s--” Jane turned and stared past everyone at nothing, “Love is not a story.”

Maura took a hold of Jane’s hand. “One day I walked into the station. I needed coffee because I had been up the entire night with back to back autopsies, and I was willing to settle for swill. And I find that Stanley is giving this beautiful, if overly made up, woman who was barely wearing anything, and seemed to be a hooker a hard time. I paid for her coffee and donut and I have never regretted that. Because since then she’s saved my life, literally and emotionally, many times. She’s seen me at my worst and not blinked. She knows all my deepest secrets and is still my best friend. She doesn’t even blink when I do something that’s considered weird by most of civilization.” Maura paused, “... and I love her. Not just as a friend, but perhaps as more.”

Maura stopped speaking, and sat perfectly still. Jane stared down at their tangled hands, then looked up at Maura, “You’ve saved me too Maura.” Jane paused, “But, what about Jack, not to mention the fact that neither of us are lesbians. You like facts.” She continued in a mumble, “And I’m not adverse to them either.”

“Those are words, all words.” With her free hand Maura cupped Jane’s cheek, “And I love you Jane.” Jane opened her mouth to speak, but Maura spoke first with a smile, “Yes, I am sure. Have you ever known me not to think something all the way through and from all angles?”

Jane scooted towards Maura in her chair, “I love you too Maura Dorthea Isles,” and kissed her.

Neither woman listened as Angela commented, “Took you two long enough.”

Jane shot Angela a look, but Angela just smirked back at her daughter.

Emma winced as her phone rang, “Swan.”

She listened for so long that even Maura and Jane separated and watched her. Finally Emma nodded, “Thanks Jones.” She hung up and sighed.

Regina put a hand on Emma’s back. “Did they have any leads to where he was heading?”

“New York City was their best guess, but, they couldn’t find any solid leads that definitely leaned that way and so…”

Jane nodded in sympathy, “They had other more pressing cases they had to get to than a runaway boy.” Emma nodded.

“It’s somewhere to start Emma.”

Emma made a face, “A big place to start.”

“Henry…”

Everyone looked to Maura. Regina frowned, “My son?”

Maura shook her head, “Doctor Henry Morgan. He’s an ME in New York. I believe he has contacts in the NYPD as well, perhaps he can help.”

Maura stood and went over to her purse, taking out her phone. She scrolled through her phone book as she walked back. Handing the phone to Emma as she sat. “He’s a-- unique man. But also a good one. He’ll help you if he can.”

Emma handed the phone back, “Thank you Maura.”

Maura glanced over at Jane, “No. Thank you Emma, Regina, for giving me, us, the last push we needed.”

Emma stood, “We’re even then. I think we need to go now though.”

Angela frowned, “Now, it’s dark and late.”

Emma gave a tight smile, “I’ve done longer drives. I’ll be fine.”

Regina reached into one of Emma’s pockets and took out the Bug’s keys. “You will, because I will be driving this leg of the journey.” Regina inclined her head, “Thank you for your hospitality Maura, and the meal was amazing Angela, perhaps I could have the recipe?”

Angela practically shot out of her chair, “Yes, yes, of course. I’ll start coffee for your trip, then get the recipe from the guest house.”

Emma hid a smirk as Angela went into Maura’s kitchen, and mumbled, “Regina Mills, always the charmer.”

Regina raised an eyebrow and murmured back, “Those of us who don’t have Charming blood in them realize that eating and running is considered rude.”

Emma stuck her tongue out at Regina, whose eyes glinted with unspoken laughter.

oOOOOo

Eva sat on the bench that looked out on Storybrooke’s harbor, but, none of her attention was on the boats, ships, the weirdly calm water, or the fact that it had gotten colder and colder out as night had fallen. It was all on the book she held in her hand. She had found that her great grandson was a very good writer. She’d also realized at one point that even though she was still the age that she was when she died, she had a great grandson.

She was nearly to the end of the second book. She’d been surprised when she’d seen that Cora reappeared, and then that Cora been killed by Eva’s own daughter.

Eva could practically see the hurt in Henry’s writing when she got to the part where his mother was tortured. And as much as Eva didn’t want to, she realized that for better or worse Regina was as much Henry’s mother as Emma was.

She found herself getting closer to the book as Henry hugged Regina, as Emma realized that maybe Regina wasn’t strong enough to stop the diamond, but that they were together. She put a hand to her heart as the story changed, as Henry described how he was dragged from the tunnels even as he didn’t know whether or not his mothers, his grandmother and grandfather, the rest of the town, would survive.

And that was where it ended. She closed the book, then opened it again, looked at it from all angles, but, it was just done. She frowned and looked up. It was dark, and that meant that she wasn’t sure that she could get back to Snow and David’s apartment. She still didn’t understand why her daughter and her son-in-law didn’t simply take over the Mayoral mansion. Regina wasn’t even in town. But, Snow had been firm with Eva, it was Henry’s home and Regina’s home as well.

A flash of light caught Eva’s eyes and she stood, going to the railing. “What in the world?” She went to the steps, and by the time she got down to the small beach someone was emerging from the water. “Hello. Can I help you?”

The woman, Eva could tell that much, looked up from under soaking wet bangs and stared at Eva. “You’re dead.”

Eva still didn’t recognize the woman, but, she recognized the woman’s voice. “Me? You’re dead too Cora.”

Chapter Text

“Oh my God. Henry… Zelena, what happened?” Henry shrugged and winced as Snow touched one of the cuts on his forehead. “David, the first aid kit.” Snow stared into Henry’s eyes, “Do you have a concussion Henry? Did you break anything?”

Zelena groaned as she slid into one of the chairs at the kitchen’s counter, “No, no, that’s okay. My arm is generally like this, I’ll be fine.”

“Grandma, could you look at Zelena…”

Snow turned her gaze from her grandson to Zelena and frowned, “Zelena… that looks… why aren’t you at the hospital?”

Zelena shook her head, the pain showing in her eyes but nowhere else on her face. “I- I have to stay with Henry. My si… Regina left me to watch over him, and this… I’m not doing well as it is.”

“Zelena, Henry will be fine here with us for a bit. Get that very obviously broken arm checked out.”

Zelena shook her head, “I just need to… to get my strength back, get enough magic back, and I can heal it.”

Snow shook her head, “And you’ve healed broken bones before?” Zelena gave a quick shake of her head, “Then I say again, you should get it looked at by a doctor, you don’t want to have worse problems if you heal it wrong… right?”

Before Zelena could respond David came back into the room, the white box with a red plus sign on it in his hands, “Got it.”

“David, would you drive Zelena to the hospital.”

“Why do…” He blinked as he saw the arm, “Ah… good plan.” He glanced over at Henry. “Are you going to live champ?”

Henry nodded, the wisp of a grin on his face, “Yes Grandpa, Aunt Zelena took the brunt of it.”

David took a gentle hold of Zelena’s good arm and draped it over his shoulder, “They’ll cast that up and you’ll be as good as new. Ah… and we’ll make sure Doctor Whale doesn’t do it. He can’t make a straight cast to save his life.”

Zelena gave one last look towards Henry, and then she and David were out the door.

“Thank you Grandma.”

“Would it be too sappy to simply say that hearing you call me Grandma is thanks enough?” Henry made a face and Snow chuckled, “Right. How about this one. She’s family. And you don’t get to chose your family, that’s why they’re family.”

Henry winced as Snow worked on a cut on his arm, she’d already finished with the abrasions on his face and neck. “Grandma, are you okay? Having…” Henry paused, still not quite knowing what to call her, “Eva here? Back?”

She patted Henry on the non scratched all to hell part of his arm, “I’m okay. It was quite a surprise though.”

Henry studied Snow, “A good one?”

“I’m still deciding that. She seems to like your journals though.” Snow paused, “Are you going to keep writing them?”

“I was— yeah.” He looked down for a moment, “Did you read them?”

“Do you want me to read them Henry?”

Henry made a bit of a face, “Not really, I mean…”

Snow smiled, “It’s okay. I lived most of them, remember, I don’t think that I need to read them. And… you’re all set.”

“Thank you.” He paused, “May I say goodnight to Little Neal?”

“Of course, he’s your…”

Henry smiled, “Uncle. Totally weird.” He started climbing the stairs.

Snow shook her head and mumbled to herself, “No, what’s weird is me actually caring about what happens to the woman who tried to kill Little Neal.”

oOOOOo

“You look like a drowned rat.”

Cora snapped her fingers and was entirely dry, and even her hair was in its natural state as well. “How?”

Eva shook her head, “How are we here and not dead? No one seems to know. We aren’t the only ones though. Two other women, Marian, and Milah.”

“Hmmm…”

“Hmm?”

Cora shook her head, “I can’t think of any spells that could do this. Death… death is final.” She looked down at her hands, then up at Eva, “Is supposed to be final.”

Eva raised her index finger, “Ah, yes, that reminds me…” She put all her weight behind her fist as it crashed into Cora’s face and nose, blood flying from the nose and all over the place. “That was for killing me and marrying off my husband to your… your… daughter.”

Cora put a hand to her chest, “First, oh please… you nearly ruined my life to get to Leopold. Second, I— that was… a different me.”

Eva gave Cora a look, “Really? No, you don’t get away with it all that easily.”

Cora got into Eva’s space, “You think it’s easy. I died. YOUR daughter killed me with the candle that was supposed to bring you back. And… I died…” Cora put a hand to her chest again, “less than moments after I realized that my entire life after giving birth to Regina, and quite a bit of it before giving birth to her was… was wasted.” Cora took a step back and glared at Eva, “Wasted on you, on your husband, utterly wasted.”

Eva stared at Cora, “Your heart is in your chest now?” Cora nodded, “And, suddenly that makes you a different person? A good person?”

“I… I don’t know. Probably not. But… I can feel things, everything.” She paused, “It’s not all that fun actually.” She changed the subject, “What’s that in your hands?”

Eva looked down, “Henry’s journal.” Before Cora could speak, Eva kept going, “It’s the second of three. He gave it to me, but, now I’m finished with it.”

“Hmm.”

Eva narrowed her eyes at Cora, “You’re saying that a lot.”

“How much do you want the next journal?”

Eva frowned, “I won’t be a part of your games Cora.”

Cora rolled her eyes, “This isn’t part of some plan since I very sure that my daughter will let me in.”

Eva shook her head, “They’re not there.”

“They?”

Eva hid a smile and dropped a bomb that she seemed to delight in, “Your daughter is apparently in quite a serious relationship with my granddaughter.”

Cora nodded, “Finally.”

“What?”

Cora smirked as only Cora could, “I may not have had my heart the last time I was in town, but I wasn’t blind. It’s also a good thing that I happen to know where Regina keeps her spare key.”

“Agh, what a world we live in, you say the last time I was in town like… like you came for a visit, left, and came back.”

“Welcome to Storybrooke Eva.” She shook her head, “With four people coming back from the dead, the weirdness will soon morph into danger, screaming, and my daughter—”

Eva cut Cora off, “—and my granddaughter.”

Cora inclined her head, “Perhaps. They’ll be saving the day. Then your daughter and son in law will take credit for it and kiss while everything fades to black and the credits roll.”

oOOOOo

David walked towards Snow, he and Zelena had just gotten back from the hospital and he had gone to find out where Henry and Snow had gotten to. Zelena had said that she was going to look for something sharp and pointy so that she could itch the inside of her cast.

Snow stood in the doorway of Little Neal’s nursery. David started to speak, but Snow put a finger to her lips and pointed towards something in the room. David peeked in. Henry sat in the rocking chair, all gangly teen, his little Uncle on his lap, and a book in front of both of them.

It had both a Princess and a guy on a motorcycle on the cover. He was reading, “Once upon a time in a castle on a h ill there lived a beautiful princess named Princess Tenderheart. Every day Princes Tenderheart would play with her eight beautiful ponies. She named them Jasmine, Nimble, Sophie, and Polly. And Penny, and Sunny, and Monica... Her favorite pony of all was called Buttercup."

David muttered under his breath to himself, "Buttercup?" Snow shushed him, but David spoke again, "What's the title of this book?"

"Once Upon a Cool Motorcycle Dude."

"Oh who would protect Buttercup?" David looked up when Henry's voice changed. "That's it... I can't take it anymore. I'll tell the story from here. Dudes... One day this really cool muscle dude rides up to the castle on his motorcycle. He says he'll guard the last pony if the King gives him all the gold thread that the princess makes. The King says okay, and the dude sits and waits for the giant."

David frowned, "What in the world is this book?"

"Henry brought it with him. Said it was his favorite." Snow's eyes went back to her son and grandson. "I was worried that it says it's for ages 6-10, but Henry promised me that Regina read it to him when he was four and that he would read it like she did."

David put an arm around Snow's waist, "Neal seems to like it."

Indeed Little Neal was practically bouncing as Henry read the story. Looking up at Henry, then back to the story. Pointing at things, and laughing.

Snow groaned, "Of course, this means that we'll never get him to sleep."

As Henry got to the end though Little Neal's eyes started drooping and by the last word he was fast asleep. Henry carefully stood, put Little Neal in his bed, and tucked him in, placing a kiss on his forehead.

He jumped a little when he turned and saw David and Snow in the doorway. "Oh--" He whispered, "Sorry."

Snow smiled and led Henry and David to the living room. "It's perfectly all right Henry."

Henry looked down at his hands, "Am I going to be like my Mom?"

Snow frowned and David asked, "Which one?"

Henry shot him a look, "My-- Mom."

Snow smiled as David still didn't look sure, "Regina?" Henry nodded, "Why are you so worried now?"

Henry shrugged and stood by the fireplace, his arms crossed over his chest. "A lot of stuff I guess. I miss my Moms-- and am worried about what will happen if they--" Henry's arms tightened around himself, "--when they find Emma's son."

"They love you Henry and no amount of blood will change that."

Henry shook his head, "I know that Grandpa. I mean-- what will happen to me. Will I--"

Snow walked over to Henry and put a hand on his shoulder, "You are who you want to be, isn't that what we've been telling your mother, telling Regina, all this time? So, do I think that you'll go all evil prince on us all when you find out who this other young man is? No."

Henry hugged Snow, they were almost the same height. "Thank you Grandma."

Snow ruffled his hair, "Always Henry."

oOOOOo

“So, do you want to sleep with me?”

Elsa spit out the tea that she’d been drinking, drenching Milah. “Ah… where did that come from?”

Milah shrugged, “Just a question.”

“Why me?”

Milah looked up from studying something in a book about ships. “Ah, that’s a weird question.”

“I was in jail for killing a man.”

Milah sat back in her chair, “Why’d you kill him?”

“He was abusing my sister.”

Milah shrugged and went back to her book, “Seems like a good reason.”

Elsa got up, went to the desk where Milah was working and pushed the book out of Milah’s view line. “There is no good reason for taking a life. I— My niece Angra, she looks at me like I’m some sort of savior. All I see in the mirror is a monster.”

“No.” Milah took a hold of one of Elsa’s hands, “No. Rumpel, he’s a monster, Chernobog, he’s a monster, Jafar, Zoso, they were monsters. Apparently Regina and Zelena, they used to be monsters but are slowly learning how to be human again. You dear Elsa, you’re just a human being who was faced with an extraordinary situation and did the best she could to protect those you love.”

A half a sob came from Elsa’s lips and she put her hand over them, “I’m sorry.”

Milah stood and pulled Elsa over to the couch and they both sat. “Tell me about that night.”

“You won’t…”

Milah put a hand to Elsa’s cheek, “Trust me.”

oOOOOo

“Oh My God, Oh My God, OH My God…” Henry took a breath, “Aunt Zelena, Aunt Zelena, Aunt Zelena…”

Cora looked up from skimming the second journal that Eva had put down when she’d picked up the third one and dove in. “Z— Zelena?”

Cora jumped, dropping the journal to the floor as Henry took a hold of Cora’s hand and dragged her out into the hallway. Zelena met them at the stairs as she sprinted up them like a bat out of hell.

“Henry, what’s…” She blinked and was silent for a beat, “wrong…”

Cora reached towards Zelena and Zelena took a step back. Cora put a hand over her mouth, “They found you.”

Zelena stared daggers at her mother, “No. I found them.” She glanced at Eva, “Read about it.” Then stormed down the stairs.

Henry looked between Cora and Zelena, finally he pulled Cora down, gave her a kiss on the cheek and dashed after his Aunt.

Cora put a hand to her cheek, “Why would he… why did he… the last time I saw him I was…”

Eva held up the third journal, “According to this he has the heart of the truest believer. Probably means he can tell that you have your heart or some equally magical explanation.”

After a minute Henry came back upstairs with a half dejected look on his face, “You can sleep in the guest room Grandma Eva. And Grandma Cora… you can have my room.”

Cora regarded Henry, “And where will you sleep young man?”

Henry winced, “We’re… ah, Aunt Zelena and I, we’re going to go sleep over at Grandma and Grandpa’s. Uh, Snow and David’s. That means that you sorta don’t have a place to sleep there though Grandma Eva.”

“Henry.”

Henry held a hand up, “Aunt Zelena’s really mad and sad and… I mean, she was just a kid, and yet you just left her.”

“I—” Cora nodded. “Will we see you tomorrow?”

Henry glanced over his shoulder, “Tomorrow morning at Granny’s. I’ll totally get Aunt Zelena to be there. I promise. And you can make your entrance.”

Cora smiled just the tiniest bit, “You do have a bit of my daughter in you. She was always quite the prankster when she was a child. I wish…” Cora shook her head.

“…that you had your heart so that it could have been funny instead of annoying and whatever?” Henry got a look on his face that said that he was lost in his own memory, “April Fools Days were rapidly escalating before Mary Margaret… before Grandma gave me the story book.” Henry gave Cora a look, “Are you really better? I mean, not going to try and take over the town, or kidnap me, or do something horrible to Grandma or Eva, or…”

“I will not.” She paused, “I give you my word on my heart.” She paused again, “Which, I never thought I’d be able to say again.”

“Night.”

Cora watched as he scampered back down the stairs, and spoke in a voice barely above a whisper, “Goodnight my grandson.”

Chapter Text

“You’re awake.”

Emma covered a yawn. “For hating this car so much you’re damn good at driving it.”

“I’ve been stuck in an early 80s curse, I’m used to making old broken down things work.”

Emma patted the dashboard, “S’okay, she didn’t mean it.”

Regina shook her head as she kept driving, “We’re nearly there.”

Emma glanced at the clock on her phone, “Let’s see if he’s an early riser.” She dialed the number that Maura had given her and frowned when she got a ‘phone off the hook’ sound. “Huh, that was weird. I didn’t think that a phone could be left off the hook without voice mail kicking in anymore.” She cradled the phone in her hands, “Was that weird that one moment Jane and Maura were just best friends, and then a second later they were together?”

Regina opened her mouth to respond, then closed it for a moment before speaking, “When in Storybrooke I can transport from one place to another almost instantaneously. Magic can be fast, and True Love--”

Emma finished Regina’s sentence, “--is magic. That’s what everyone keeps saying, yes.”

Both women fell silent, “Regina-- what happens when we find Neville?”

“One of two things I think. We leave him be, or we figure out a way to take him home with us.” She glanced over at Emma, “But, that’s just what I’ve come up with. He’s your son Emma, so, in the end, it’s up to you.”

Emma was silent for a few blocks, “Will you-- you said us.” She looked over at Regina, “More than anything I want to know him… even if I only get one day-- one afternoon-- with him.”

Regina nodded, “Then you will.”

Emma shook her head, “It won’t be that easy.”

“Nothing that is worth anything ever is.”

Emma put a hand over Regina’s on the gear shift, “Let me try this doctor again.” She dialed, “Ah, a dial tone. Progress.” She waited, and waited, finally someone picked up, “Hello, is there a Doctor Morgan there?” She got an answer, “Doctor Maura Isles gave me your name. We’re looking for someone, and she said that you might be able to help.” She listened again, and a slightly confused look came to her face, “Ah, okay. Yes-- we’ll be there--” She looked up for a street name. “--soon. Yes, good day to you too.”

She gave Regina the address, “It’s apparently an antique store.”

“As long as he’s helping us it could be a brothel for all it would matter to me.” Emma gave Regina such an incredulous look that Regina didn’t have to look over to see it, she could feel it. “Okay, maybe not…”

oOOOOo

Mulan sat on the edge of a dais in a great room that hadn’t been used since the castle had appeared in Storybrooke. She stared at nothing until there was a cry. She looked down and a smile came to her face. Little Phillip was trying to pull himself up to her. She reached down and to his delight swung him up. “Hey there. Are you preparing to be king already little one?”

He snuggled into her and let out a sigh. She smiled, “You know that in a couple of minutes your mother’s going to come running through those big doors looking for where you’ve gotten off to.” Little Phillip looked up at her and pushed Mulan in the chest, “Mama?”

Mulan made a face, “Uh uh, and we’re not going to tell Mama Aurora that you called me that either. When you’re older we’ll find something else for you to call me.”

Little Phillip burbled happily and for a bit Mulan just watched him. Eventually she spoke again, “You believe me, right little one? I’d never have left everything I knew if I’d known that Mei was alive.” Mulan sighed.

From one of the many secret doors that led into the great room Mei stood, listened, and stared at her mother.

oOOOOo

An older man of about 70 or 80 was the first they saw when they entered the shop. “Ah, hello, hello—”

Emma stopped by the inside of the store window and looked down at a desk that sat there, letting Regina take the lead. “I’m Regina Mills, she’s Emma Swan, we called Dr. Morgan a bit earlier. He requested that we meet him here.”

The man came around the counter yelling as he did, “Henry.” He stuck out a hand and in a much quieter voice spoke, “I’m Abe— Henry’s my partner in this little endeavor.”

Regina shook Abe’s hand, “And an ME. You must do most of the work Abe.”

Abe smirked, “I think I like you Ms. Mills. So, why do you need our Henry’s help?”

“We’re trying to find Miss Swan’s son.”

Doctor Morgan appeared from the back, wiping his hands on a cloth. “Has the young man run away from home?”

Emma joined Regina and spoke up, “No, I’m his birth mother. I’ve never met him. But apparently he did run away from his foster home in Phoenix.”

Abe whistled, “He must have really wanted to get away.”

Doctor Morgan spoke, “Or to find something or someone.” He paused, “Do you have a name?”

“Neville Chance Schwangau.”

“That is quite a mouthful.”

Emma took one of the printed sheets from her pocket and handed it to Doctor Morgan. “Any help you could give us would be great.”

Doctor Morgan took the paper from Emma, but didn’t look at it, instead studying Regina. “So, she’s the birth mother— and you’re— what’s your interest in this boy?”

“Interest?”

“Why are you with Ms. Swan on this journey?”

Regina glanced at Emma, “I love her.”

“That’s not an answer.”

Abe shook his head, “Henry—”

Doctor Morgan shot a look at Abe, “Abraham.” Doctor Morgan gestured to Regina and then Emma, “This is a child we’re talking about, and we only have their word.”

Abe shook his head and Emma was silent. It was Regina who spoke, “Thirteen years ago I adopted a young boy. I had not yet met Emma, he is a handsome young man who, for the most part, minds his elders, has never been in serious trouble with the law, he’s also named Henry.” Doctor Morgan seemed ready to respond, but Regina continued, “I was not raised in humble surroundings. My father was quite— wealthy, and I never wanted for anything material. Even in my marriage— money was no object. But I never wanted it, the things, I only wanted to find love, completeness and I did— first with my son Henry,” she glanced at Emma with a half a smile, “and with this street rat here—”

“Hey— I resemble that remark Mills.” She raised an eyebrow, “And are we really gonna get into why the whole orphan thing happened right now? Hmmm?”

Regina inclined her head, she dropped her and, and it found Emma’s as if they were oppositely charged magnets.

Abe spoke, “C’mon Henry. The love wafting off them makes me want to call up…”

Doctor Morgan held up a hand, “I get the picture Abe, they,” Doctor Morgan watched the two women for another moment, then shook his head, “Okay. I will see what I can do.” He folded the paper and put on his overcoat. “I’m off to work— I will do my best to aid your search.”

Once he left Emma and Regina’s gazes met and Regina spoke, “He’s going to do background on us too.”

Emma nodded, “I know what mine looks like, what will yours look like?”

“I honestly don’t know.”

Abe watched the two women’s back and forth, and spoke when they went silent. “You both look very tired and hungry. Would you like some lunch?”

“No, no, that’s okay.”

But Abe was moving, he went to the door and flipped the sign to closed. Then he took each woman’s arm and led them to the door. “Call it an old man’s prerogative— and I want to hear more of your stories about this other son of yours named Henry.”

Regina shook her head, “You wouldn’t believe them if we told you.”

Abe glanced at Regina, “You’d be surprised what I can believe.”

oOOOOo

“Henry, I’m not in the mood—”

“Please.”

Zelena sighed and itched at her cast. She was still a little too weak to heal it herself. “So, you drag me to Granny’s and she’s there, right. I’m not stupid Henry.”

Henry crossed his arms over his chest. “But, you are. She’s your Mom— your birth Mom. You don’t want to know if you’re alike? Or— or have her tell you about your father— or— or…”

“No.”

Henry pinned Zelena with a look, “Really?”

Zelena sighed, “No. Damnit Henry. I do want to know her. My entire life has revolved around her. But, she threw me out— put me aside for her own gain, for Regina’s gain.”

“She gave you your best chance Aunt Zelena.”

Zelena stared at her nephew. “Are you being serious?”

Henry held his hands up, “A lot of that chance totally sucked, yeah I know, but, then… then you met your sister and me, and… I mean. I love you Aunt Zelena.”

Zelena put a hand to her throat, “Henry.. You’re… you’re the first one who’s ever said that to me.”

Henry frowned, “Not even my Mom?”

Zelena shook her head, “Not in words, no.”

“Yikes. That sucks.”

A half laugh, half sob escaped Zelena’s throat, “Thank you Henry. You’re by far my favorite nephew.”

“Funny… I’m your only nephew.”

Zelena stood, “Right now…”

Henry made a face as though he’d just eaten a handful of Jalapeno peppers. “Ah, Aunt Zelena— I just… ew… I just pictured…”

Zelena gave Henry a look, “Are you sure that your mother… mothers have correctly explained the… birds and bees to you Henry?”

Henry stuck his tongue out at Zelena, “You think that if my Moms wanted to have a kid that was both theirs they couldn’t?”

oOOOOo

“Ahhh… my eyes, my eyes. Damnit, is there anyone in this damn town who isn’t sleeping with someone else? Not to mention, is lesbianism in the water or something?”

Elsa pulled up the blanket over her and Milah’s bodies and sat up, “Angra, what’s wrong?”

Angra still stood staring at any place other than the couch and shook her head, “It doesn’t matter. I’ll leave.”

Angra left the house. Elsa sat up, then stood. “Wait, Angra…” She swore and snapped her fingers, clothes appearing from nowhere.

Milah shook her head as Elsa also left the house, “Yeah, I’ve gotta learn how to do that.”

oOOOOo

The tension in Granny’s was so thick that if someone had lit a match the place would have probably have magically gone up in smoke in mere moments.

Henry shivered when he stepped in and held the door for Zelena. He frowned when he saw that Ruby wasn’t behind the counter. She almost always took the early shift. Granny was there instead. He took a seat at the counter. “Hi Granny.”

Granny looked behind him to where Zelena slowly made her way to the booth that Cora sat in. The four of them were the only people in the diner. “Is this going to be okay Henry?”

Henry shrugged, “I have no idea. I mean… Cora did sorta leave Zelena for dead, so…” Henry frowned, “Where’s Ruby?”

Granny shook her head, “We’re going to stay away from that topic as well. Are you doing okay son?”

Henry stared down at his hands for a moment, then looked back up at Granny, “Can you get homesick if you’re at home?”

Granny reached across the counter and patted Henry on the shoulder, “You miss your Moms. I know the perfect solution to that, a very bad for you, very rich and fatty breakfast with all the trimmings.”

Henry smiled, then the smile left his face, “But, no pancakes, okay?”

Granny gave a faux salute, “Coming up. And don’t forget to text your grandmother that the drama has started.”

oOOOOo

Neither woman said anything for a long time. They could both hear Henry and Granny talking but didn’t take in any of what they were saying. They just sat in uncomfortable silence, a table, salt and pepper shakers, and a napkin dispenser the only things between them.

“Zelena, I’m sorry.” Zelena whispered something and Cora frowned, “What?”

“Why did you choose Regina?”

Cora swallowed, “I didn’t.”

Zelena started to get up, but Cora put a hand on her hands, “I did, but, it was…”

Zelena sat down and stared at Cora as if she was trying to light her mother on fire, “…if you say complicated.”

Cora took the salt and pepper shakers and shook out a little of each of them, her hands playing with the resulting mess as she spoke, “It’s not complicated at all. I didn’t entirely know that I was going to have another child.” She paused, “And I don’t even have the excuse with you that I had for all of Regina’s life. I had my heart in my chest when I left you. You have to understand, I was crushed, I loved…” Cora sighed, “I loved Leopold.”

Zelena interrupted Cora, “You loved Leopold? Why? Do you know how he treated the daughter you supposedly love?”

“I love you too Zelena.” Zelena didn’t move or speak, just stared back at Cora, “Leopold, he changed between the time that I knew him and when he married Regina.”

Zelena leaned across the table, “And yet you still let my sister marry him? He treated her like trash. The— Entire Kingdom— treated her like shit because they all knew about your past with him. He…” She sat back as something occurred to her, “Maybe Henry was right. Maybe I did get the better side of the deal.” She stood and leaned over Cora, “If you hurt my sister, or any of her family, I will… I don’t know what I’ll do but it will not be pleasant.”

With that she made her way purposefully out the door. It wasn’t quite in an angry way, but from the way she walked anyone could tell that she wasn’t happy either.

Cora sighed, “That went better than I thought it would.” Henry slipped into the booth across from Cora. “Young man, I still don’t understand you.”

Henry shrugged, “My Mom always says that evil isn’t born, it’s made. I guess that I think that if it is made then it can be unmade too.”

Cora looked out the window, “Should you go after her? Or should I?”

Henry shook his head, “Mom doesn’t like people to see her cry, and Zelena’s her sister, so, probably the same way.”

“Ah.” Cora blinked in surprise when Granny put down a plate with scrambled eggs and whole wheat toast on it. In front of Henry she put quite a bit more, enough that he needed two plates. “I didn’t order anything.”

Granny replied drolly, “You didn’t destroy my diner. You can eat here for a year for free if you’d like.”

oOOOOo

“Excuse me?”

Mulan looked up, quite a bit of mashed food on her face. “Mei? What do you need? What can we do for you? I was just feeding Phillip lunch.”

A half a laugh escaped from Mei’s lips and she bowed her head for a moment, putting her hand to her mouth and getting control of herself, “I’m sorry…”

“What?”

Mei brought a hand up and wiped her mother’s cheek. “It looks as though you’ve been through the war of the feeding.”

Mulan shot Phillip a look, and the little man laughed. Mulan sighed, “Yes, well… Aurora should be back soon.”

“So that someone can successfully feed Phillip?”

Mulan smiled and stood, giving Aurora a kiss as the blonde sat. “My hero.”

Aurora rolled her eyes. “Mei, are you okay? You look… concerned.”

“The realms are collapsing.”

Mulan sat down across from Mei, “Can you start from the beginning?”

Mei shook her head, “That was the beginning. I came from the Enchanted Forest, that seems to be the least affected of all of them. We’re using it as our home base of sorts. I—” Mei looked down again, then cleared her throat and looked up, “I’m here because we have tried going to all the realms that have not been destroyed. In none of them have we found anyone or thing that can help. Coming here was the hardest to do of all our realm jumping, that’s why it was our last resort.”

Mulan gently interrupted, “You keep saying we?”

“I came here alone. I was supposed to… it was supposed to be me and my father, but he…” Mei trailed off and Mulan moved closer. She put a hand on Mei’s knee and Mei looked up. “No, I’m alright. I’ve been through worse.”

Mulan gave Mei’s knee a squeeze and let go, “And I will forever be so sorry that you had to. Please continue if you can.”

Mei seemed to sit up straighter and gave Mulan a nod, “I can. There are a group of survivors still in the Enchanted Forest. They come from some of the different realms, Camelot managed to save the most of their people, those from the Enchanted Forest who aren’t, well…” She looked over at Aurora for a moment, “…here. A few from Wonderland, one from Neverland.”

Aurora frowned and interrupted Mei, “What? Who?”

Mei frowned, “I think she said her name was Nerida? She was the first to appear before my father, well, first she went to the Emperor, but he did not want to hear her tale, and so my father heard it. I think she said because the magics between Neverland and the realm where the Enchanted Forest and our kingdom are lesser in some way? She said that Neverland was no longer there, at all. Soon after those from the black and white world came as well, their realm had collapsed too. My father and I journeyed from our Kingdom to the Enchanted Forest and met with those who had just escaped Camelot. They were looking for a young man, Lancelot, who had left their realm years before?”

Mei paused and Aurora stood, “I’m going to put Phillip down for a nap. I’ll be back in a moment.”

Mei watched her go, “She’s beautiful.”

Mulan smiled, “Even more beautiful inside than outside.” She looked back to her daughter, “You’re getting to the hard part?”

Mei nodded. “We determined that there were three realms left. The one we were in, the Enchanted Forest for a better name for it, here in the Land Without Magic.”

Mulan interjected, “Earth. They call this planet Earth, and we’re in the United States of America.”

Mei nodded. “The Enchanted Forest, Earth, and Wonderland were the final three realms left. Galahad, me, my father, and Guinevere. We all traveled to Wonderland. I think that it was so easy to get there because it was already falling apart, but, we didn’t know that. And…” Mei looked down at her hands, “It was my fault.”

Mulan knelt in front of Mei and took her daughter’s hands in her own. “Did you cause the realms to start collapsing?”

Mei looked up slowly, “No, but, I could have saved him. I was there, I should have…”

“You’re fourteen.”

Mei’s chin jutted out just a bit, “And what did you do when you were fourteen Māma?” She put a hand over her mouth, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”

“Oh my daughter, I am the one who is so sorry. Alright. Here’s the plan. We go to Granny’s, David and Snow sometimes seem to live there they’re there so much. But first…”

Mei stood, “First, there should be no first we need to…”

Mulan stood as well and put a hand up, “This will take but a moment Mei. I would… if it’s okay. I would like to hug you.”

Mei choked out a sob and nodded. Mulan pulled Mei to her and they stood like that until Aurora stepped into the room. “Perhaps I could suggest some lunch before we save the world again?”

“But…”

Mulan put an arm around Mei, “It will be okay. I believe you, and we will figure this out. But, we also need energy to do that, and after my try and feeding Phillip…” Aurora chuckled and Mulan gave half a smile, “I could use some food that I can put in my mouth instead of get smeared on my face.”

oOOOOo

“You may join her if you’d like, I’m old, not blind.”

Emma smiled, “I slept on the way here while she drove, so, I’m good. Thanks. Are you Henry’s father?”

Abe chuckled, “No, not in the least. So, now that that’s out of the way, where to start? Your favorite movie?”

Emma shook her head, “I haven’t really had the time recently.”

“So— a classic.”

“Mighty Ducks.” Emma put a hand over her mouth, “That wasn’t supposed to slip out.” She narrowed her eyes, “You’re very disarming.”

“Did you like Hockey?”

Emma shook her head, “Not particularly.”

“Sports films?”

Emma shook her head again, “Nah—”

Abe looked at Emma as though she was a puzzle, “Why do you like it then?”

“It was about making your own family, and there were all sorts in their family. Even those who weren’t perfect or normal.”

Abe sat back, “Have you found your family now?”

Emma smiled just a bit, “I have, both my birth family and found family.”

“Except for the boy—”

“Neville.”

Abe studied Emma, “And if you don’t find him?”

Emma shook her head, “We will. It’s what I do.”

Chapter Text

“Hey, hey, niece of mine— slow down. Your Aunt isn’t young anymore.”

Angra came to a stop and turned to face Elsa. They were on the boardwalk near the water. Angra shivered as she spoke, “I’m done. I’m going to go say goodbye to Henry, make sure that he understands that I love him, give him all my particulars, and I’m leaving.”

“Your life is your life Angra, I’m not your mother, I’m your Aunt, and while I will be there whenever and wherever you need me, you have to choose what’s best for your life. Staying or going.”

Angra was silent for a moment, “But— but— can you be my Mom right now. Tell me what to do Aunt Elsa… please. Tell me to stay, or go, or—”

Elsa pulled Angra into a hug, “Oh Angra.” She pulled away after a moment, “C’mon, let’s sit.” They both did on one of the park benches. “Tell me what happened.”

“She loves Belle.”

Elsa winced, “That’s not a good thing. Aren’t that Mr. Gold and Belle an item?”

Angra shrugged, “She denied that she loved Belle, and that set off a fight about… well… everything.”

Elsa frowned, “Everything?”

Angra shook her head, “From her hitting me with my use ‘em and leave ‘em attitude, to me calling her a scared little girl in wolf’s clothing.” Elsa winced at that. “It got worse from there.” Angra looked down, “She’s right though, I’m not fit to be a mother, I’ve…”

Elsa frowned and cut her niece off, “So, don’t be Henry’s Mom then. He’s got, what, five, six, ten, a hundred people in this town who want to be his Mom. Be his cool aunt.” Elsa’s frown turned to a smirk, “I speak from experience. It’s a damn fun job.” She paused, “So, you’re leaving, but it’s not because of Ruby, it’s because of Henry. You’re scared.”

“Of course I’m scared. I was good. I was fine. And then… I gave him up for a reason Aunt Elsa.” Angra shook her head and stared down at her hands. After a moment she looked back up and over at her Aunt. “So— you and Milah huh?”

Elsa went with the change of subject, as she’d said, she wasn’t Angra mother, she was her Aunt, not to mention the fact that Angra was an adult. “I don’t know. It was fun. Maybe more?” She shook her head, “Ironically when I was surrounded by women— nothing— but I get out and fall for a former pirate wench?”

That brought a smile to Angra’s face, “Wench huh?”

Elsa smiled, “Her word choice, not mine.”

Angra raised her eyebrows, “You know you said fall for, right?”

Elsa stared out at the water, "Slip of the tongue I guess."
"Uh huh..."

Elsa gave Angra's shoulder a push, "Yes. In my head it's still all jumbled. And, when did you stop listening to your wise--"

Angra smirked, "--old--"

"--Aunt?"

"Never." Angra nodded to herself, "I'll always listen to you Aunt Elsa, even if I don't like what you're saying. And, I think that I'm going to stay. Maybe I haven't been stuck in this town for decades, and maybe I can't change into a wolf, or am fated for some awesome love story, but, Henry is my son, and I want to get to know him. Even if it's super uncomfortable with everyone else in town other than him."

Elsa put an arm around Angra's shoulders. "That sounds good. I think that he and Zelena are searching for someone. Bet they'd like your help."

Angra regarded Elsa, "I think that you just want to 'build your ship' in private with Milah."

"How did you make that sound so dirty Angra?"

Angra smirked, "Years and years of practice."

oOOOOo

Regina jerked awake. For a moment she had no idea where she was before it all came flooding back. She put a hand to her head and stared up at the ceiling.

A voice came from the doorway, “You’re awake.”

Regina glanced over and gasped, “Eva?”

A voice came from the window, “You’re awake.” Regina sat up in bed and pushed herself against the headboard, “Mother?”

“You’re awake.”

“You’re awake.”

“You’re awake.”

Regina’s heart tried to beat itself out of her chest and she put a hand up. On one side of the bed stood Milah, on the other, Marian, and staring at Regina from the end of the bed stood Neal as well as the only figure in the room that had stayed silent. He or she stared at Regina from under a hood, his or her face shrouded in blackness. And then the figure spoke in an unearthly voice, “Wake Up!”

Regina’s eyes flew open. A hand brushed away a lock of hair that had fallen over her eyes. She looked up, “Emma.”

Emma smiled, “Henry’s… Doctor Morgan’s back, and he brought a friend.”

Regina slowly sat, blinking, or trying at least to blink away the dream, “How long have I been asleep?”

“Hours, but, you looked like you needed it, and Abe is quite the gentleman.” Emma helped Regina from the bed, “And there’s something about he and Doctor Morgan— I can’t quite…”

Regina cut Emma off, “Doctor Morgan is Abe’s father. Probably adoptive father, but, who knows.”

Emma frowned, “Really? How can you tell?”

Regina was silent for a moment, “I am someone who has both lived and observed all manner of child/parent relationships, both good and bad— I can tell.”

Emma put an arm around Regina’s waist as they walked down the stairs, “You okay?”

“I’m fi—” Regina trailed off.

Emma hid a smirk, “It does become a habit, doesn’t it. Keeping control of what others know to keep control of your life.”

Regina paused on the narrow stairway and faced Emma, “I had a dream. A terrifying one. There were the three people who have returned, Milah, Marian and Eva… and three others. And they seemed to want me to understand something. To… ‘wake up’ to something. To figure something out?”

When Regina didn’t continue Emma asked, “Who Regina?”

Regina shook her head, “I only saw two of the three.” Regina paused and looked down for a moment. But finally looked up and met Emma’s gaze. “Neal and my mother.”

“That’s it? Regina, it was probably just a dream. Sometimes a dream is just a dream. And it’s not like you don’t have enough stresses to fuel a lifetime of stress dreams.”

Regina stared at Emma for a moment, “Thank you Emma.”

Emma leaned forward and kissed Regina, “You’re welcome. Now, let’s go see if this Jo Martinez can help us.”

oOOOOo

Ruby came through the kitchen door into Granny's. The place wasn't too busy. Little Neal, Snow, and David were by the front door and a couple of other customers in a corner. "Granny, sorry about this morn..."

Granny put a hand on Ruby's arm, cutting her off, "What's wrong?"

Ruby shook her head, "Just me being me."

"Where's Angra? You two have been like peas in a pod, stuck together thicker than glue." Ruby didn't answer. "Are you going to make me continue mixing and otherwise mangling metaphors or tell me what's wrong? Where's Angra?"

Ruby glanced over at the door, "Probably halfway to Boston by now. Granny-- this time I didn't just screw up my life-- I did it to Henry's too."

Ruby winced, "God, Regina's gonna kill me."

"So.. I take it that you two broke up?" Ruby nodded, "That doesn't mean--"

It was Ruby's turn to interrupt Granny. "It was... worse than that Granny."

Both women looked up as Snow laughed at something that Little Neal had done. And then without warning Granny turned and engulfed her granddaughter in a hug. She whispered in Ruby's ear, "You'll find your happy ending Ruby."

Ruby sighed, gave Granny a squeeze, and took a step back. "Thanks for the thought Granny, but, I think you're wrong."

"Hah..." Granny laughed, "I'm never wrong."

Both granddaughter and grandmother looked up as the bell over the door dinged. Mulan and Aurora were the first to enter, Aurora carrying Little Phillip in her arms. And then came the surprise. A young woman who was the spitting image of Mulan but a teenager by the look of her came in after the other three.

“Whoa.” Ruby momentarily forgot about her troubles and focused on the newcomers in Granny’s. “This is going to be interesting.”

oOOOOo

Regina leaned towards Abe, “Do the two of them always banter like this?”

Regina and Abe sat at Abe’s desk at the side of the store. Regina had let Emma take the lead in talking to the Detective and she seemed to be holding her own even with Doctor Morgan and Jo verbally jabbing at each other.

“Sometimes. Neither of them has had the easiest life.”

“Or lives.” Abe looked over at Regina with a surprised look. It was the first time that Regina had seen Abe not totally at ease. “Oh— don’t worry, my lips are sealed.”

“How?”

Regina glanced at Emma, “As I told Emma. I know parents and children.”

“Enough to have a full offense or defense on a football team?”

Regina looked over at Abe, “Excuse me?”

“Eleven kids or so— the more the merrier. You’re a love-er. All you want in life is to care for those you love. It’s when people get in the way of that that things start going badly.”

Regina stayed silent. And Abe changed the subject slightly, “Well, looks like they’re finishing up. I hope you two find your son.”

Regina nodded, “Thank you Abe.”

Abe looked confusedly at Regina, “For?”

Regina shook her head, “I don’t know. You remind me—”

Abe smirked, “Of your dashing uncle?” Regina shot Abe a look and Abe sighed dramatically, “Father huh?”

“He always tried to be as good a man as he could be in whatever weird or bad situation he was in. You seem the same way.”

“Weird, what could be weird about looking older than your father…”

Emma appeared in front of the desk, “I have a lead and a name—” Emma paused and looked between Abe and Regina, “Unless you want to stay for a bit longer.”

Regina stood and shook her head, “No. I’m ready to go.”

Abe stood as well and held out a hand. Regina took it and Abe brought hers to his lips, kissing its back. “Take care of yourself Regina.”

Regina smiled, “And if you’re ever up near Midcoast Maine area, give us a call.” She took a piece of paper from his desk and scribbled a number on it. She then glanced back at Jo and Henry, “You should bring the love birds too.”

“You don’t have an address?”

Regina came around the desk and faced Abe. “You and Doctor Morgan aren’t the only ones with secrets.”

They both left the store after saying goodbye to Jo and Doctor Morgan.

“So, who and where?”

“DC and an FBI Agent named Jennifer Jareau. Jo— Detective Martinez took a course from her and they’ve kept in touch. But first…” Emma trailed off.

“First?”

oOOOOo

“That’s not good.”

Snow regarded her friend, “That’s the understatement of the year Ruby.” Snow was silent for a moment, rubbing circles on her son’s back, then she nodded and spoke, “Gather everyone at Town Hall. Then we’ll go from there.”

“Everyone?”

Snow nodded, “Yes, everyone. Even those in the woods, or building boats, or doing whatever Zelena and Henry are doing. Everyone.”

Ruby held both her hands up, “I got it, I got it. I’m going, I’m going.”

Snow glanced over at her husband, “David.”

David stood, leaned down and gave both Snow and Little Neal a kiss, and left the diner as well. Snow regarded Mei again, “Mei, the magic that you used to get yourself here. Can it get the entire town to the Enchanted Forest?”

Mei shook her head, “No. It was a one way trip. I am sorry.”

Snow put a hand on her shoulder, “Don’t be sorry child, I’m just trying to get as many facts about what’s happening as possible.” Snow glanced at Granny, “Do you know who we need right now?”

“Your evil stepmother?”

Snow shot Granny a look, “She hasn’t been my stepmother for a very, very long time Granny, but, yes. Regina and Emma.” Snow paused, “Also, where the hell is Rumpel?”

oOOOOo

“A tattoo parlor?”

“This is where I got my flower.”

“Oh—kay.”

Emma laughed, “Don’t worry, your skin’ll leave this place as pristine as when it entered.”

Regina frowned, “You’re planning on getting something?”

“I am— the flower, even though I didn’t know it when I got it, it’s for my birth family. This— what I want to get is my future.”

Regina’s frown turned into a confused look, “What are you going to get?”

Emma led Regina to the waiting area and Regina sat. “You’ll see— take a look at the books. Some of it is quite beautiful.”

oOOOOo

“Rumpel, will you come with me today? It won’t just be us, Milah and Elsa, apparently a good portion of the town wants to help out. Although I think that the dwarves are just going for the liquor.”

Rumpelstiltskin looked up from the paperwork in front of him. They were in his shop. “To help my ex-wife build a ship with the aunt of the birth mother of the young man I thought my grandson. No.”

Belle frowned, “Rumpel, you don’t have to be scared of yourself again, you have full control of you powers. You can be anyone you want. I thought that we were going to live life--” she gestured towards the door and outside, “—out there. You’re not shackled to anything anymore Rumpel.” She looked around, “You don’t have to make deals.” Belle paused, “I won’t go back into hiding. I won’t let you lock me up in here.” She met Rumpelstiltskin’s eyes with her own. Her tone was matter of fact, she wasn’t stating an ultimatum, just a fact. He said nothing and she sighed. “I’ll see you tonight?”

Rumpel nodded, “Of course my dear, and… perhaps I’ll stop by on my way home.”

Belle smiled, “That’d be great.”

Belle was out the door before he could say anything more. He looked around his shop, his eyes resting on the two dolls on one shelf, a candelabra on another. He turned to the wall behind the counter. After staring at it for a moment, he moved things and opened his safe. From it he took a piece of paper. It was old looking, about the size of a piece of stationary paper. It was a wine stained color, its edges tattered just a bit from the number of times he had looked at it in the last three years. There was a lot of writing on the paper, tight cursive, sometimes written hard enough that it nearly broke through to the other side.

When he’d first gotten the sight. When he’d had those few weeks of the entire future, his especially, spread out in front of him, he’d had the foresight to write down a whole lot of what had been bombarding him.

Most of the scribblings had either come true, or not, except for the one that he held in his hand. He stared down at the words on the paper for a moment, then closed his eyes, he could still see the vision as if he had gotten it mere moments ago. Two boys, both at the cusp of adolescence, stood facing the Storybrooke town seal on the wall. One a blond, the other with brown hair. Around them in a triangle holding hands, were three women, though he hadn’t been able to see their faces. One had dark, dark hair, one had red hair, and the final one’s hair was almost an auburn red color.

Although he hadn’t known at the time, now he knew that all five of those people in his vision were standing in at the front of the town’s meeting room while he stood just behind some sort of railing being held by two more women, whose faces he hadn’t seen in the vision. The three women chanting, and the two boys simply standing there, perfectly still. When he’d first gotten the vision he’d been surprised by how… smooth his face had looked in the vision. Now he knew why it was like that, the curse of the Dark One had been taken metaphorically off his back.

In the vision he broke through the triangle, between the red head and the auburn haired woman. He had a dagger in his hand, he went to stab the blond haired boy with it, but the auburn haired woman he had just pushed aside got in the way and got a dagger in the side for her trouble.

What had confused him most about the vision was what happened next. A light that was at once both so bright white it hurt the eyes as well as every other color in the rainbow engulfed the room. The last thing he felt in the vision was his skin being seared off, his bones crumbling, and then nothing.

After he’d gotten that one he’d hoped and hoped that it would be one of those visions that wouldn’t come to pass, but he’d known the first time he’d stepped into the Town Meeting room in Storybrooke’s Town Hall that this vision would come true. He would die unless he did something drastic.

He’d thought that bringing the wrong child to Storybrooke would work, if there was only one of the boys in town, and Emma thought that Henry was her son, she’d never look for the one that was her son.

He’d even gone so far as to cast a sort of cloaking spell over whoever Emma’s son was, he’d been very careful never to learn the boy’s name. Even if Emma met him one day, she wouldn’t be able to see that it was him. Of course, he hadn’t been able to use anything more than the boy’s photo to cast the spell so it wasn’t unbreakable.

Then Angra had come to town and all his plans had been foiled. Now he had a choice. To live or die. And if he chose to live at least one of the five would have to die before they could perform whatever spell they were performing because he’d already tried putting up a barrier at the town line to keep Emma, Regina, and the son they would no doubt find out of Storybrooke. But, without the power of the Dark One as well as his own he wasn’t powerful enough. So he’d have to chose his moment carefully.

He stared at the door of his shop. Belle was right. He wasn’t who he had been when he got the vision. The question was, who was he now?

oOOOOo

Emma sighed as she drove her bug. “He insulted the Merry Men’s tattoo. But… then he gave me what I wanted. Even remembered who I was. Commented that I didn’t look as screwed up as last time.”

Regina regarded the covering on Emma’s wrist, “You’re turning into quite the painted lady.”

Emma laughed at that. “So, you gonna get one next? My name right over your heart?”

“It’s already there in every way it counts. But, if you mean a tattoo, not in this lifetime Miss Swan.” Emma just smiled, and after a moment of silence Regina continued. “But he did a very good job. It looks much like the one that I carved on one of the beams in the stables as a child.”

That got both of Emma’s eyebrows to raise, “You defaced someone else’s property?”

Regina nodded and closed her eyes, in the air in front of her she drew a box, and then the backwards parentheses that went on either side of the box but not through it. “My mother was furious, my father…” Regina shook her head. “He tried.”

Emma put an arm through Regina’s, “If we ever get back to the Enchanted Forest will you show me?”

Regina shrugged, “I assume that someone’s burned down the whole thing by now.”

Chapter Text

“Ugh… we’re stopping for food.”

Regina looked over from the driver’s seat at Emma, “Oh? I thought I was driving. We’re almost there.”

“Well, I do hear that there are plenty of good hospitals in the area, so, when I pass out from malnutrition you can probably find one and get me to it.”

“Or I could just push you out of the car.”

Emma glanced over at Regina with a quirked eyebrow, “I see the smirk by the by. C’mon… Regiiinnnnaaa…”

Regina sighed, “You do realize that you sound just like Henry when you do that, right?”

Emma shrugged, “Ooh, look, a Dunkies, we have re-entered proper civilization where they correctly have one every two blocks.”

Regina sighed again, this one much more aggrieved as she pulled into the Dunkin Donuts’ parking lot and parked. “Oh, by the way, I believe that your mother called your phone a few times.”

Emma frowned, “And you didn’t answer it?”

Regina turned her body in the driver’s seat to look at Emma, “While I’m driving? No. Definitely no.”

“You have magic. You can’t make the car drive itself or something?”

Regina shot back, “Magic that I haven’t really tried out here… out of Storybrooke. And we can’t find Neville if have an accident and are both dead. It’s not wise to drive and speak on the phone.” Regina paused, “Also, not using mobile phones while driving isn’t about the physical issue, it’s the distraction that will get you hurt.”

Emma rolled her eyes, “You didn’t just say mobile.”

Regina stopped in front of the big board and stared up at it, a look that was somewhere between hunger and disgust on her face. “Is that not what it is?” Regina took a deep breath and turned to Emma, “Now, I’m going to trust you with my life Emma. I will go find us two seats?”

“Together?”

“You constantly amuse me Miss Swan. As I was saying, I’ll find us seats and you can order something that hopefully won’t entirely clog my arteries today.”

oOOOOo

Snow and Mulan all stood at the front of the room. Nearly the entire town had shown up and sat behind the short wooden partition. It still looked a little worn from the time they’d set it on fire, but it was made of sturdy wood and the smell had finally gone away.

Mei sat to one side with Aurora next to her, Little Phillip asleep in her lap. On Mei’s other side sat David, Little Neal in his lap.

Snow looked around with a frown, “Does anyone know where Henry or Zelena are?” She got a bunch of shaken heads, “How about Red… Ruby, Belle, Milah, Elsa, any of the dwarves, or Gold are?”

A voice came from the back of the room, “I’m present. As for the rest, they’re helping… Milah build a ship of some sort.”

Snow met Rumpelstiltskin’s gaze, then gave a nod. “If anyone sees them in their travels around town, maybe tell them what’s going on?”

A voice spoke up from the middle of the crowd, “Just get on with it already.”

Snow frowned, but nodded. “There’s no subtle way to say this. The realms are collapsing.”

Sound exploded from the gallery, everyone talking at once. Some not believing what Snow said, others arguing that Snow wouldn’t just blurt that out if she didn’t know for sure. And questions, and worries.

Snow held a hand up, and finally quiet ruled the room again. “I believe that there are maybe two realms left, perhaps three or four. Ours and the Enchanted Forest.”

“How do you know? Is it her, is it that girl’s fault?”

Mei started to get up, but Aurora put a hand on her shoulder and shook her head. Mei stayed seated as her mother spoke, “It is not Mei’s fault. And we know because she risked her life to come from the Enchanted Forest, where there are a band of survivors, to come and warn us.”

“Then we can go back.”

Mulan shook her head, “We cannot. The portal has closed. We need to find another way.”

A grumble went through the crowd. Rumpelstiltskin spoke from the back of the room, “Has anyone thought to call Regina and Miss Swan? Call them back from their… frivolous search?”

“Gold…” David stood, Little Neal still in arms, “That’s not helpful.”

Rumpelstiltskin strode to the front of the room, plowing through the gate. “Oh, and being Daddy Nanny is? What we need to do is call Regina and Miss Swan. Then between their magic, mine, and perhaps Elsa and Angra’s we can create a portal to the Enchanted Forest and survive.”

Mei spoke up, her voice breaking just a bit on the first few words, “It-it’s a bad idea.” All the eyes in the room went to her. She stood and slowly walked to her mother’s side. “Guinevere doesn’t believe that the Enchanted Forest will survive either. She…” Mei cleared her throat, “She thinks that the realm that the Enchanted Forest is in will be destroyed next, perhaps within a few days or so, and then… then here too.”

Rumpelstiltskin shook his head, “That makes no sense child…”

Mei cut him off before he could finish his sentence, “I’m not a child.” She started to draw her sword, and Rumpelstiltskin took a step towards her as he raised a hand. Mulan quickly stepped between the two, her hands outstretched.

“Mr… Gold right?” Rumpelstiltskin nodded, “She is not a child. But, please, why doesn’t it make sense?”

Rumpelstiltskin gestured to the building around them. “Because, this, more than any other realm, should have been the first to be destroyed. It’s… it’s a realm with almost no native magic.”

Snow frowned for a moment, “Yes, but, it also has all our stories. It’s the only that I know of that has the stories of the other realms… woven into its fabric.”

David shook his head, “The world, the Earth probably would survive, but, somehow I doubt that Storybrooke would.”

Ashley stood up, “So, we leave then.”

Snow inclined her head, “If you feel that you must,” she looked around, “then you are free to cross the town line whenever you want, but… we will fix this. And, this is my home. I don’t plan on leaving it without a fight.”

Rumpelstiltskin crossed his arms over his chest, “So, you’re calling your daughter and Regina?”

Snow inclined her head, “I am. And I’ve sent Eva and Cora to start the search for anything remotely magical that could at least open enough of a portal that we could communicate with Guinevere and the Enchanted Forest.”

Archie mumbled, “Oh yes, that will go so well.”

oOOOOo

“Ooh, spider, spider, spider.” Henry whacked at his head, and then his hair. “Is it out, did I get it out, I don’t want it to stay there and lay eggs in my ear, and then they’ll go into my mouth, and… what? What? Those are totally usual fears. Just wait until you have spiders hatching in your stomach.”

Zelena regarded her nephew. Angra just put both hands over her mouth to try and keep the laughter in. Zelena shot Angra a look, and made her way to Henry. “Would you like me to check to make sure it’s gone?”

With her hand, her other arm still in a sling, she carefully parted Henry’s hair in a couple of places. “I think that you’re okay young man. So. Onward?”

Angra cleared her throat, “How about I lead.” She shined her flashlight down the tunnel that ran under the town. “Thank you for letting me come Henry.”

Henry shrugged, “You’re one of my Moms right?”

“Only if you want me to be Henry.”

He was silent for a moment, “Do you like cinnamon on your hot chocolate?”

Angra stopped, Zelena bumping into her back. She looked past Zelena to Henry, “How’d you know that?”

“I do too…” He frowned, “But so does Emma. That’s sorta weird.”

“In this situation, that’s what you find weird?” Angra turned back towards the front, took two steps and stopped very abruptly, her nose hitting solid wood. “Uh… what’s not a window?”

Zelena stepped next to Angra, and then Angra was shuffled back as Henry came up next to Zelena to also inspect what appeared to be a doorway in the middle of an underground rock cavern.

Angra put a hand to her forehead, “I… I can’t wait until my life un-weirds.”

Henry’s hand stilled on the door and he slowly turned, “Angra…”

Angra put up both her hands, the flashlight throwing light all over the cavern, “No, no, I don’t mean you bud. I just…” She gestured towards the door. “Okay, so, the healing magic thing is kinda cool. But then there are doors in the middle of nowhere, and weird heroic like journeys, and your two Moms just up and left because they think they’re going to find a kid your age amongst all the kids your age out there. And… it’s just…”

Henry put a hand on Angra’s shoulder. “It’s okay. It’ll be okay.”

Angra looked over at Henry, “Henry, there are werewolves.”

Zelena spoke up, “I think that, technically, she isn’t a werewolf. Simply a wolf/human hybrid who can turn from one to the other at will.”

Angra snorted a half a laugh, “Yeah, I saw that when she ran away from our conversation.”

Zelena brought the focus back to the door, “So, do we open it?”

“Oh, that reminds me.”

She pushed off of the rock wall she’d been leaning against and stopped next to Zelena. She put a hand on the arm that was in the sling and closed her eyes for a moment. After that moment Zelena blinked and took off the sling. She flexed her hand and then her arm a bit, then held her palm up, and a green fire ball appeared. “You… you healed me and gave me a…”

“Power boost.” Both women looked over at Henry, “What? That’s probably something else you can do. Give your power to other people. Do you feel weaker?”

Angra cracked her fingers and shrugged, “That was nothing compared to when I healed Elsa. So. Into the breach or whatever?”

oOOOOo

Ruby looked around. It seemed like a good chunk of the town was helping Elsa and Milah build Milah’s ship. She watched as Milah said something to Belle and they both laughed.

She shook her head and nearly had heart failure as a voice spoke right next to her. “I believe this is yours.”

Ruby frowned and turned. In front of her stood the severe nurse that had once guarded the curse’s underground psych wing of the hospital. Ruby wracked her brain for the name, “Madeline right?” The woman nodded.

When she said the name it all came back. Pre-curse Madeline had been one of Regina’s black knights. The only female if Ruby remembered correctly. “It’s a rose that losing its petals because it’s probably hundreds of years old. So?” Madeline shook her head and handed the glass case with the rose in it to Ruby. The rose lay on its side, almost all of its petals missing and scattered around it. “What am I supposed to do with it?”

Madeline shrugged, “I don’t know exactly. During the curse Regina gave it to me. I don’t think she knew what it is, was either. I assume that some part of it has something to do with saving the town, or perhaps just saving you.”

Ruby frowned, “Saving the town?”

Madeline smirked just a little, “I’m just a foot soldier, you’re one of the heroes, I think that means that you have to figure it out.”

Before Ruby could respond Nova appeared. “Grumpy. You didn’t come to the Town meeting.”

Grumpy winced, “I’m sorry Nova, but, I think that we all got caught up with…” He gestured towards the ship. “It’s just…” He shook his head. “What did Snow have to tell us? Tax cuts, added taxes, begging for places to put all the snow?” Grumpy chuckled to himself when he realized what he’d said.

“Only that we’re all going to die.”

That got Grumpy’s attention as well as Ruby and Belle’s who were standing near him. Ruby frowned, “Wait, explain that Nova?”

Belle shot Ruby a look, “Please.”

Ruby blinked in surprise, then a half a smile came to her lips, “Please.”

Nova glanced between the two women, then explained. There were no smiles by the end of her explanation.

oOOOOo

“Cease your staring Princess…”

“Queen. I am the Queen.”

“No…” Cora smirked, “Your daughter is a Queen, you’re… nothing now.”

Eva hurfed out a breath, “I didn’t ask to be brought back to life.” She slammed shut a drawer and got a curt look from Cora. “What?”

“Boom.”

Eva frowned, “Excuse me?”

Cora gestured towards the drawers, “I would prefer not to be blown up before I see my daughter again. Some of the magical items and spells in these drawers are fragile, and could go… boom if not treated correctly.”

Eva rolled her eyes, “Magic…”

They both fell silent, Eva opening and closing drawers and Cora staring at the book in her lap, unseeing, for so long that Eva spoke up again, “Has something stumped the great and powerful Cora?”

“Be silent Princess.”

Eva turned towards Cora, ceasing her search, “Stop calling me that Cora. I’m not the same person I was all those years ago.”

Cora didn’t respond for a minute, “Do you still have that thin brick that my grandson gave you?”

“The phone is what they called it. Yes. Why?”

Cora held her hand out, “May I see it for a moment?”

Eva frowned, “Are you planning on destroying it?”

Cora shot Eva a look of annoyance, “Perhaps a deal, I will stop treating you like a spoiled princess who ruined my life—”

Eva interrupted Cora, “—I didn’t— you did that to yourself—”

Cora wasn’t listening though, she spoke over Eva, “—and you stop treating me as if I’m still a villain.”

“I don’t know that you aren’t still a villain, that you haven’t lied about everything. That you’re simply waiting for your daughter to come home and then you’ll destroy us all, or… that you have an even more complicated and evil plan.”

Cora simply looked at Eva. Their gazes clashed for a long minute or so, then Eva sighed, took a step towards where Cora was seated, and handed the phone to her. Cora inclined her head. “Thank you. Now how did..” She studied the images on the screen, then hit the one that looked like a book. She took a breath when she saw the blonde’s name, Emma, near the top. She pressed it.

oOOOOo

Regina looked around the car as the strumming of some sort of guitar like instrument started. They were back on the road after eating, but didn’t have the radio on. “What that—”

Emma pointed at the glove compartment, “It’s Over the Rainbow, my phone, it’s Henry’s ringtone.”

Regina winced, “Do I want to know what mine is?”

Emma smirked, “You can listen to it after you talk to our son.”

Regina shook her head as she answered, “Hello.”

“Oh my darling child. It’s so good to simply hear your voice.”

Regina took the phone away from her ear for a moment, took a breath, then put it back and spoke, “Hello Mother.”

There was a pause on the other end of the line, “You don’t seem surprised dear.”

“I had a— no, I’m not. Why are you—” Regina’s face went pale, “—is Henry okay? Zelena? Snow?”

Cora spoke quickly, “They are, they are, your son— even in the relatively short time I’ve been gone— has grown up so much. And Zelena—” Cora cleared her throat a few times, “I’m sorry. I should let you and the Sheriff get back to your— quest.”

“Mother,” Regina paused.

“Yes dear?”

“I love you.”

There was a sigh, “I love you too little one.”

Both ends of the line were hung up. Regina took the phone away from her ear and stared at it. “That— that was Cora. And I think that not only is she alive, like my dream implied, but, she still has her heart in her chest.”

Emma glanced over at Regina who still looked a little stunned, “That’s good isn’t it? She probably won’t wreak horrible destruction for a couple of weeks at least.”

“Uh, yes, maybe, I don’t know.”

Regina looked up and out the window as Emma pulled into the breakdown lane and came to a full stop. “Emma— what are you doing?”

“Go home. I’ve been finding people for most of my adult life. I’ll find Neville and you go back to Storybrooke and spend time with your Mom.”

“No.”

Emma frowned, “Regina, it’s okay.”

Regina shook her head, “No. We’re in this together.” She paused and slowly turned her head away from the window to look over at Emma, “Unless you don’t want me with you.”

“No, no, no—” Regina started to reach for the door handle, but Emma practically dove across the gear shift. “No, Regina. I don’t— I don’t know if I could have gotten this far without you. And I don’t know if I can go the rest of the way without you by my side too. But— I also know that finding out that you have parents that really love and care for you after thinking they don’t— that’s super gigantic big.”

Regina quirked an eyebrow, “Super gigantic big? Is that a prope—”

Emma cut Regina off, claiming her lips and not letting go. When Regina finally did pull back just a tiny bit with a smile Emma chuckled. “I think the world moved.”

Regina cut her off, her eyes getting big, “No, no, neutral, brake, brake, brake….”

Luckily Emma had pretty good reflexes and yanked hard on the emergency brake before they careened either out into traffic or into the barrier. “Huh, it still works. Wasn’t sure it did.”

Regina put a hand to her head. “Ah— I think we should resume our drive to DC.”

“Good plan.” Emma stole another quick kiss, then readjusted herself in the driver’s seat and put the little yellow death trap into an actual gear, took off the emergency brake and they were back on their way. “So— any guesses what your ringtone on my phone is?”

“Imperial March.”

Emma frowned, “Party pooper. How’d you know?”

That brought a small smile to Regina’s lips, “While sometimes you surprise me in so many amazing way, you can also be very predictable my lovely Emma Swan.”

oOOOOo

“You didn’t tell her?”

Cora handed the phone back to Eva, “She would have come back here, along with the blonde and I don’t think that is our best option at the moment. They’re out there for a reason I think.”

Eva frowned, “You know what’s happening— how to stop it?”

Cora gave Eva a withering look, “We all know what’s happening. The realms are collapsing.”

“But you know how to stop it? Something has occurred to you.”

Cora sighed and stood, “Child…” Eva opened her mouth to speak, but Cora held up a hand, “A slip of the tongue. The truth is Eva, there is simply no way to stop it.”

Chapter Text

Ruby skidded to a stop in the Mayor’s office. “Snow. Why didn’t you…”

Snow looked up, “Oh, I thought.” Snow glanced towards the door, “I thought that you were— working some things out and so.”

Ruby approached the desk, and went around it. She got down on one knee and took Snow’s hands in her own, “Nothing is more important than our friendship Snow. Now.” She stood and retreated to the other side of the desk, “What are we going to do?”

Snow blew out a breath and shook her head, “I— I have no idea.”

Ruby made a face, “Gold?”

Snow sat back in the chair, “He seems… reluctant to help. Maybe we could get Belle to convince him to do be more active in…”

“…saving the world.” Ruby shrugged, “You could try, but, I think that they’re having a fight. She’s spending all her time helping Milah and Elsa build their boat.”

Snow frowned, “She’d do it for you.”

“I— I can’t. I’m sorry.”

Snow’s frown increased for a moment, then a look of caring came over her face, “Oh Ruby. You didn’t.”

Ruby shrugged, “What can I say. I’m an idiot right?” She paused, “Oh, that reminds me.”

She disappeared from the room for a moment, then came back in with a dying rose in a glass case and set it on the desk. “What is it?”

“Madeline gave it to me just before I came over here. She said that Regina had given her the rose, I assume she meant with all its petals, during the first curse, and that since then it’s been dying.”

“Looks like the rose from Beauty and the Beast.”

Ruby rolled her eyes, “Oh, we’re going by Disney now? They get everything right don’t they?”

Snow held up her hands, “Just somewhere to start. But, she gave it to you and not Gold. Do you think we should give it to Gold?”

“No.”

Snow frowned, “That was a quick reaction.”

“Gut reaction.”

Snow stood, “Well, in that case I just happened to have found Regina’s secret safe, and guessed her password.”

“Daniel?”

Snow went over to the wall, a half a smile on her face, “Maybe once upon a time it was, but, no, it was Emma. Saying it took down all the magical enchantments. And saying…”

Ruby cut Snow off, “Snow locks it back up?”

Snow rolled her eyes, “Surprisingly no. Cora locks it.”

“Ouch.”

“Emma.”

The safe appeared out of nowhere and its door popped open. Snow put the case with the rose in it. “Cora.”

The safe disappeared back into the wall, and just in time as Eva and Cora appeared in the room. Eva stopped two steps in, “You do not have on a cloak.”

Ruby rolled her eyes, “Snow. Call me if you need me.” She stared at Snow, “I mean it.”

Snow gave Ruby a half a hug, “Will you check in on David and Little Neal before you go back to ship building?”

Ruby nodded, “I will.”

“Be safe my friend.”

Eva took a step out of the way as Ruby went by and Cora shook her head. “I thought that you were the kind and caring Queen Eva?”

Eva didn’t say anything, just shot Cora a look.

“So, how do we save our world, our worlds?”

Cora shook her head, “We don’t.”

Snow stood still for a long moment. “I won’t ask if you’re sure. But I will ask if that’s what you’d like to happen?”

Cora gestured towards Eva, “You’ve gotten to see your mother again. Do you really believe that heart or no heart I wouldn’t want to see mine?”

“You’ve talked to her.”

Snow’s gaze went from Cora, to Eva, and back to Cora. “What do you mean you’ve talked to her? I can’t get through. I’ve tried every phone I could.”

Eva held out Henry’s phone, “We used this one.”

Snow took it and clicked on Emma’s picture. She held the phone to her ear. “Nothing.” She held the phone out to Cora, “You try it.”

“No.”

Snow tried to stare down Cora, “Why not?”

“Because you’re calling to bring them back here, and that would be a mistake. They’re where they’re needed to be.”

Eva scoffed, “Finding a child instead of saving the Enchanted Forest and Storybrooke? That makes no sense.”

Snow regarded Cora for a long moment. She finally shook her head, “Did you know that you get the same glint in your eye as your daughter… daughters even, when you think that you know more than those around you?”

Cora inclined her head, “I didn’t, no.”

“So?”

Cora shook her head, “It’s just a theory. I need to do some research at the library.”

Before Snow could speak her mother did, “I’m going with you Cora.”

Cora shook her head, “I do not need a babysitter Queen Eva. Not to mention I’ve been in this town for more time than you have.”

“You will not get up to any shenanigans.”

Cora was still and silent for a long moment, then shook her head. “Right. May I visit the bathroom before we go on our library trip?”

Snow sighed, “You know where it is?”

Cora inclined her head, “I do indeed.”

She left Snow and Eva alone. “My Snow, do you now trust her?”

Snow was silent, thinking, “Perhaps. I’m not sure yet.”

“I know that I’ve taught you to trust, but, she has killed people.”

Snow was silent for a moment, “So did I mother. Her specifically.” Snow paused, “What I have learned in the past three years is that not everything is black and white, and most of life is quite gray.” Snow smiled at her mother, “Just try not to get turned into a toad or something Mother? Please?”

Eva glanced the way that Cora had gone, “I will do my best Snow.”

oOOOOo

“Have you ever been here before?”

Emma looked at Regina as if she’d grown another head, “No.”

Emma stared out at nothing. She was bone tired, but her gut was telling her that she needed to keep going, they needed to keep going.

“Swanie?”

Emma looked up and blinked, “Boring?” She looked the read head up and down, “You’re a civilian now?”

“CGIS. What are you doing here? Trade in chasing bail jumpers for chasing criminals before they see a judge?”

Emma shook her head, “No. Here to meet with an FBI agent about a missing kid.” She paused, “Ah, sorry. Boring, this is Regina Mills, my girlfriend. Regina, this is Abby Borin.”

Regina held out a hand and Abby shoo it, “A pleasure to meet you Agent.”

“Call me Abby.”

“Regina. How do you two know each other?”

“I was stationed in Boston for a while.”

Regina raised an eyebrow and Abby laughed, “Just friends I assure you. No, Emma here with another woman, that’s a surprise.”

Regina glanced over at Emma, “Really?”

Emma shot Abby a look, “Yes, well, I’ve only been in love with two people in my life, and one is standing right here.”

Abby raised both her hands, “It was good to see you Emma, to know that you’re still alive.”

Emma put out her hand to shake Abby’s, but instead she took it and brought Emma in for a hug. “Keep in touch Swanie.”

And then as fast as she’d appeared she was gone. Leaving Regina and Emma and a slightly uncomfortable silence. It was Regina who finally spoke, “You didn’t have to say that Emma.”

“I just didn’t want you to think…” Emma turned towards Regina, “I mean, I think you know that this isn’t just something… frivolous, but… just in case you didn’t.”

Regina pulled Emma closer, “I know.”

A throat cleared and both Regina and Emma looked over. “I’m Agent Jennifer Jareau. I take it that you two are the couple that Jo told me about?”

Regina nodded, “Regina Mills, that’s Emma Swan. Whatever help you could give us would be appreciated.”

JJ looked down at her watch, then back up at Emma and Regina. “Look, I have somewhere I have to be. To pick up my son Henry, but…” JJ shook her head, “D you have a car?”

Emma gestured towards the yellow bug. JJ blinked, then shook her head, “I guess that could be considered a car.”

Regina nearly was successful in covering her laugh, but not quite. “I couldn’t have said it better myself Agent Jareau.”

Emma shot Regina a look, then rolled her eyes, “We’ll follow you.”

oOOOOo

Zelena and Angra lay spent against the rock wall that faced the mystery door. Henry was still standing since he hadn’t had any magic to try and use against the door.

“Hmmm…”

Zelena raised her head to watch her nephew, “Hmm?”

“Well, I mean, we tried bashing it in with tools, you guys tried magicking it open with, well, magic. Maybe… Aunt Zelena, can you make—”

“—conjure, nothing is made.”

Henry restrained himself from rolling his eyes, “can you conjure me lock picks.”

Angra sat up straighter, “Seriously? You know how to pick locks?”

Henry looked everywhere except for Angra, “I sorta, I mean… I sorta bugged my Mom… until she taught me.”

Angra pushed herself up into a fully sitting position, “Emma taught you?”

Henry shook his head, “What? No. My Mom taught me. Regina.”

Zelena blinked and blinked, “Huh. I didn’t see that coming.”

Henry shrugged, “I was sorta a really energetic kid. She got me reading, and that helped a lot, but, still, I was just… whewwww zing… and so I had just seen some movie or other that I wasn’t supposed to, and so, I asked Mom to teach me how to pick a lock. And she did.”

Zelena was silent for a moment, “Wait a moment, that means that my sister knows how to pick locks?”

Henry shrugged again, “I guess. I didn’t ask how she knew. So?”

Zelena waved one of her hands in a circle over the other one and a set of lock picks appeared. Before she handed them to Henry she had one more question, “Does Emma know you can pick a lock.”

“No.” Henry gave all his attention to the lock as he knelt in front of it.

Angra and Zelena both stood to either side of the door. Finally the lock turned and the door moved just slightly away from Henry. “Wow. It worked. I can’t wait to tell Mom.”

“Ah, maybe you shouldn’t do that.”

Angra took a breath, “Ready?”

Zelena and Henry nodded. Zelena pushed Henry behind her and Henry rolled his eyes but didn’t fight his Aunt’s direction. Angra held up three fingers, her other hand on the door. Then two, then one, and she pushed open the door. Zelena and Angra burst through it, both in fighting stance.

They weren’t expecting what they found. Glinda stood in a swinging cage that was suspended from a tree in what looked like a forest. She shook her head, “Took you long enough Zelena. Good to see that you’ve cured your… green problem for good. Now, if you could get me out of here?”

oOOOOo

“This is a playground.”

Emma restrained herself from saying the word ‘duh’. Instead she threaded her arm through Regina’s. “Henry loved Storybooke’s as a kid didn’t he. Even more than once I got into town?”

Regina nodded, “He did.”

“You gave me that memory.”

Regina slowly nodded again, “I did.”

Emma paused as they got to the row of benches, “Did you give me them all? I mean.” Emma frowned, “It’s still all sort of jumbled in there. All the memories that are ‘real’ I can see clearly, both those before Henry and my year in New York and the memories of our year in New York, but, sometimes one of the memories from before that year. A memory that I couldn’t have… organically I guess is the best word. Sometimes that pops up. Like—” Her eyebrows furrowed, “Looking at all this play equipment, I can see Henry trying to go head first down the slide in Storybrooke. I can see him landing nose first in the hard sand. I can feel my terror, and I rush towards him, pick him up and he…” Emma cleared her throat, “He snuggles into my shoulder. Those are your memories right? That we now share?”

Regina was silent for a moment, “Not— not exactly. So, no, I— I didn’t give you them all because then…”

It seemed to come to Emma like a flash of lightning. She practically whirled her head around to face Regina, “My God Regina, you don’t have them anymore? What the hell Regina?”

Regina put a hand up, and glanced around. Then gestured towards one of the benches. They sat. “Magic is more like science than people imagine. Not in that it’s explainable and re-testable, but, in that it’s energy. And that means that it can’t be two places at once. So. You needed memories of Henry as a child to go with the one I gave you of him being put into your arms instead of being taken away. Making up that one took a lot of magical energy, and we were crunched for time, so…”

Emma leaned into Regina, putting her forehead against Regina’s and staring into her eyes. “Never do that again without telling me? Promise me? No secrets, not even ones like those.”

Regina gave a slight nod, then pulled back, “I promise.”

JJ, a dark haired woman, and a very tow headed boy came over to the bench where Regina and Emma sat. “Oh wow, you’re really really pretty.”

JJ admonished her son, “Henry.”

Regina smiled, “Did you know that I have a son named Henry too?”

“Is he my age?”

“Older actually. A teenager.” Regina looked down quizzically as Henry Jareau LaMontagne took her hand. “I’m not sure if I’m age appropriate for the jungle gym anymore.”

Henry LaMontagne gave Regina a quick look up and down, then nodded. “It’ll be fun.”

As Regina was pulled away JJ quickly jogged after them, leaving the dark haired woman who hadn’t been introduced standing there. “Ah, I’m Emily Prentiss. I used to work with JJ, today I’m just visiting, with her and with Henry.”

“Emma. Regina’s girlfriend.”

Emily didn’t take her eyes off of JJ, Henry, and Regina but spoke to Emma. “You say that as if you want it to be more.”

“I do. But…” Emma considered how to phrase the next part so that neither she nor Regina seemed like crazy people. “…her last marriage was. Hard. She got into it at a very young age, and it wasn’t entirely her idea.”

Emily nodded, “Because she was having Henry?”

Emma frowned, “What, no. Henry, Regina’s Henry I mean, for awhile I thought he was my birth son, she adopted him after I’d given him up.” Emily did look at Emma, with a slightly incredulous look on her face, “It’s really not that crazy a tale. He ran away from home, found me, brought me home, there was some tension between Regina and I for a while there, but, then I sorta fell in love with her, and she fell with me.”

Emily looked back towards JJ. She and Regina were now talking while Henry played on the equipment. “Sounds like quite the fairy tale.”

Emma opened, then closed her mouth. After a few moments of silence she spoke again, “You love her, don’t you—”

Emily looked over at Emma, “I sat there after defusing a bomb that some unsub had put on him. I sat next to him and realized that I wanted to put down roots. The problem was that I wanted so desperately to put them down with her. But, she was and is head over heels in love with him. Why do you think I went to work with Interpol? An ocean between us was only barely enough. Especially when Reid and everyone else keeps calling me because they think I’m the JJ whisperer.” Emily paused, “Don’t get me wrong, she loves me too— as a friend though. William is her true love.”

Emma shook her head, “True love is an idiotic concept, as if our hearts, our brains can only ever love one person? We change, why wouldn’t who we love change too. I’m sure as hell not the same person I was ten years ago, hell, I’m not even the same person I was three years ago.”

Emily looked over to where JJ and Regina were speaking, “Still, don’t let Regina go. I— I had my chance to tell JJ how I felt and I didn’t. If you want to marry her, ask her to marry you sooner rather than later.”

Emma smirked, “Oh, she knows how I feel, and I know how she feels, oh… you didn’t mean sexually.”

Emily stared at Emma for a moment, then cracked up, “Saucy.”

Emma winced, “I think you need to visit the states more Ms. Prentiss.” Emily chuckled, “As for a proposal, we both have so much baggage, and, right now’s not a good time. We need to find my birth son first. Then, then maybe…”

oOOOOo

“Silence, finally.”

Milah ran her hand along the boat, “I’m sorry.”

Elsa looked up, “For what?”

Milah gestured towards the town, “That apparently everybody got involved. I didn’t know that you preferred silence.”

Elsa shook her head, “It’s not that, it’s just… it’s been a bit of an adjustment. So many people, all the time. I’ll live. So. Any idea where we’re going to go with this boat?”

Milah groaned, “It’s more like, how do we keep the crew to under two hundred.”

Elsa winced, “How about this, you can tell them that I make the final decision in all crew placements.”

“And what will those decisions be?”

Elsa was silent for a moment, then smiled, “Nova and Grumpy.”

Milah gave Elsa a look, “Really? Those two?”

Elsa shrugged, “They’re cute.”

Milah laughed and reached a hand out. Elsa took it and let herself be tugged forward, “Good to know you’re a romantic blondie.”

Elsa’s eyes twinkled, “Why is that?”

Milah smiled, “’cause I am too. I won’t tell if you won’t.”

“It’s a deal.” Elsa leaned forward, but didn’t get any farther than that as Belle came running into the warehouse structure.

Elsa rested her head against Milah’s forehead and Milah smiled as she spoke, “Hey Belle, do you need something?”

Belle nodded. “Have you seen Ruby?”

Milah shook her head, “She left a couple of hours ago. She said she needed to talk to Snow.”

Belle frowned, “Snow said that she thought she was coming back her to continue helping you.”

Elsa spoke up before Milah could again, “What’s wrong Belle?”

Belle frowned, “I’m worried. She’s seemed… distracted lately. And if she’s distracted, does that mean that maybe her wolf comes out a little— uninhibited, or… I’m not sure exactly how it works, so…”

Elsa nodded, “You’re worried.” She paused, “Try something for me.” Belle nodded. “Close your eyes.” Belle did. “Now concentrate on her face.”

Elsa didn’t speak again, and was silent for so long that Belle opened her eyes. “Okay, now what?”

“Follow your heart.”

Belle’s frown increased. “I don’t know what you mean.”

“Don’t think, just… walk, or run if you feel like it.” Elsa closed her eyes for a moment, “I think that running is one of the most freeing things a human can do.”

Belle stared at Elsa for another long moment, then inclined her head, “Thank you. I think.” And then she was gone.

Milah gave Elsa a sideways, “You like running?”

“I do.”

“Teach me.”

Elsa raised an eyebrow, “Teach you how to run, I’m pretty sure that you already know how to.”

Milah started towards the door, trying to pull Elsa with her, “C’mon. Let’s run.”

Elsa resisted for a moment, then let herself be dragged. “On one condition.”

“Oh?”

Elsa smirked, “After we finish what Belle interrupted.”

Milah tilted her head to one side, “Oh, and what did Miss Belle interrupt.”

Elsa’s smirk turned to a smile, “I guess we’ll find out after the run.”

Milah groaned. “I’m starting to not like the idea of running quite as much.”

Elsa just laughed.

oOOOOo

“Chicago. Oh… come on. Are you kidding me? This kid…”

Regina smiled just a little, “Has a bit of wanderlust. Must take after his mother.”

Emma made a face, “Are you sure. Chicago?”

Regina nodded. “Yes. JJ called up some whiz bang techie genius named Penelope and she found a trace of him in Chicago.”

Emma sighed, “Only Chicago?” Regina nodded, “Then I guess we’re going to Chicago. That’s a long drive though.”

Regina glanced around, then pulled Emma behind the equipment shed. Emma smirked and Regina rolled her eyes, “Do you have your phone with you?”

“Of course.”

Regina nodded, mostly to herself, “I’ve never done this with Google Maps, but, it could work.”

“Done what?”

Regina paused for a second, then answered, “Transported somewhere that I didn’t already know.”

“Oh. So, the alternative to everything going perfectly?”

Regina shrugged, “Different things. We could wind up in the middle of a bush, or the middle of a freeway, or… in a wall or other solid object.”

Emma sighed, “And that would be bad?”

“It generally is, yes.” She put a hand out, “But this is me giving you all the magical information.”

Emma handed over her phone and after a moment Regina brought up the address she was looking for. “Okay.”

Emma put a finger up, “Wait. What’s going to happen to my car.”

“It’s between two other cars, right?”

Emma frowned and stuck her head around the edge of the building. “Yeah, two SUVs.”

“Good.” Regina closed her eyes for a moment, then moved her hand towards herself. It started open, and then closed, only her index finger still pointing upwards. She opened her eyes, “There.”

Emma stuck her head around the building again. The bug was gone. She turned back to Regina and narrowed her eyes, “Where’d you put it?”

“In my driveway. I promise.”

Emma blew out a breath. “So, Chicago it is? Do we have someone to meet?”

“Dr. Kim Legaspi. JJ ran into her while doing a BAU consult for the CPD.”

Emma put her arms around Regina and pulled the former mayor close, “Don’t kill us, okay Regina?”

Regina leaned forward and gave Emma a quick kiss, “I’ll do my best.”

Chapter Text

“What exactly are you looking for Cora?”

“I’ll know it when I see it.”

Eva shot Cora a look, “So, you won’t tell me.”

Cora looked up from the book she was reading, “No, no I won’t. Not until I’m sure.” She gestured to the books on the shelves, “You read my grandson’s books, so I know you can read. This place is filled with all sorts of other books. Read. Expand your mind.”

Eva stared at Cora for a long moment, watching her read some ancient looking book. Then she sighed, stood, and went over to a shelf that had the word New on one side of it. She went down the row of books, not stopping until she got to one that was displayed with its cover out instead of in. “Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. Well, that looks gruesome.”

Cora didn’t look up but rolled her eyes at the book she was reading. The library seemed like just any other little public library, but, it seemed that it had not just current fiction and a disturbing number of Sweet Valley High paperbacks, it also had an entire two shelves of books that had originated in the Enchanted Forest.

She flipped to the next page and her hand froze over the page. She glanced up, but Eva was engrossed in a book she’d pulled off the shelf. She looked back down at the spell on the page and read it over. Under her breath she made a noise, “Hmmm…”

oOOOOo

“We’re not dead.”

Regina rolled her eyes, “Please, say that a bit louder, I don’t think that the entire neighborhood heard you.”

Emma just smirked, “Nah, we’re just a couple of women who appeared from thin air right?”

Regina rolled her eyes and climbed the stairs to the front door. She rang the doorbell. There was silence for a moment, then a young sounding voice called from the other side of the door. “I’m coming, I’m coming.”

It was a young boy of eleven or so who opened the door. “May I help you?”

A voice came from inside the home, “Who is it Henry?”

The boy yelled back, “Couple of random women. Do you know Kim? She’s home if that’s who you’re looking for. You’re prettier than Kate or Christy for sure.”

The woman who must have been Kim appeared next to Henry on crutches. She had blonde hair that tumbled over her shoulders in curls. “Hi. How can I help you?”

Regina had been struck silent. Emma glanced at her, then spoke, “We’re looking for a young boy, Neville. JJ Jareau said that you might be able to help us find him?”

Kim regarded the two women for a long moment, “C’mon in. JJ sent you?”

Emma nodded, “Yep.”

“Why are you looking for this boy?”

“He’s my son.”

Kim looked Regina up and down, “And her?”

“My— girlfriend, or something...” She glanced over at Regina, “I love her.”

Regina seemed to find her voice, “We have papers if you need more than our word and Agent Jareau’s name.”

Kim shook her head, “Nah— you look trustworthy— the blonde one not so much. Plus JJ called me. Henry—”

He interrupted Kim, “I’ll get the phone.” There was a cry from father into the apartment. “And make sure Lola’s okay.”

Henry Weaver appeared a moment later with a cell phone sticking out of his pocket and a now happy gurgling baby girl in his arms. “Here-” He stuck out his hip and Kim removed the her phone from the pocket.

“Thanks.”

Henry Weaver gestured with his chin towards the big room off the main hall. “Kim’ll probably be blabbing forever. Do you want to sit down?”

Kim didn’t look at Henry, but shot back, “Heard that kiddo.”

Henry Weaver rolled his eyes and led the way into the living room. Regina sat, while Emma walked over to the mantle and studied the pictures on it. But before she could ask a question another phone rang somewhere.

Henry Weaver put the baby, Lola, into Emma’s arms, “Sorry, sorry, that’s Mama— I’ll be back.”

Emma stared at Lola as Lola stared right back at Emma, “Uh— Regina, do you—”

“Nope.” Regina watched as Lola gripped Emma’s finger. “Have you…” Regina trailed off for a moment, “..held any babies since Henry— since he was born?”

Emma slowly shook her head, “Not until I held Little Neal, no.”

“I’m sorry.”

Emma walked over and sat next to Regina. Lola reached for the dark haired woman and Emma handed her over. Lola seemed very interested in Regina’s face.

Emma smiled, “You are very, very good with kids. A natural mother. I don’t know if I’ve ever said this to you. Maybe I have. I’m glad that you were the one who raised Henry. I’m mean, other than because that meant that I got to meet you. Because you always put him first.”

Regina put her hand up in front of Lola and her little hand started exploring Regina’s. “So did you Emma. And, as for the adoption, apparently I had no choice in the matter, but, thank you.” She paused, “Do you want more kids?”

Emma thought for a moment, “I don’t know.” She glanced over at Regina and met Regina’s gaze,
“Is that the wrong answer?”

Regina smiled, “Of course not. I love you no matter what your decisions are.”

Emma smiled back, but before she could answer Kim came into the room. “Ah, I see you’ve met little Lola.” Lola saw who’d entered the room and nearly dove for her. Somehow Regina managed to keep a hold of the wriggling little girl and instead stood and handed her to Kim. “So. I have a place for you. Pittsfield.”

Emma blew out a breath, “Really?”

Regina looked between Emma and Kim, “Why really?”

Emma shook her head, “It’s a town in the western part of Massachusetts. You know, the same state in which we started this little journey looking for him.”

“Ah.” Regina regarded Kim, “Do you know if he’s there— or if he was there?”

Kim held up her phone, “I first called a social worker contact I have. And she said his roomie in the group home said he was asking the roomie about Massachusetts, apparently the roomie has friends there. I called a friend, and as far as Abby knows, he’s in Pittsfield.”

Emma stood, “Pittsfield it is.”

Under Lola’s bottom Kim stuck out her fingers, a piece of paper in them. “Abby, Dr. Abby Lockhart works in the Emergency Department at Berkshire Medical Center. She’ll help you find him.” Lola gave a little yip at being disturbed as Regina took the piece of paper from Kim.

“Thank you.”

Kim smiled, “Lola liked you. And she doesn’t like anyone. Are you going to head out right now, or?”

Emma spoke, “We are. But, like Regina said, thank you so much.”

Kim walked, Lola still in her hands now dosing a little, the two women to the door. “You’re welcome. I hope you find this… Neville.”

Regina put an arm around Emma, “We will.” And they left. Neither woman spoke again until they’d gotten a bit down the street.

Emma was the one to break the silence, “So, we go.”

Regina shook her head, “We can’t.”

“Why?” Emma then thought it through and it came to her. “Oh, because if we arrive too soon after Kim’s call… I see your point.” Emma took out her phone and her thumbs swiped this way and that for a minute, “Well, if we took a flight, and then drove it would take us about three to four hours.”

Regina’s jaw tensed up. “There’s nothing we can do about it. If we show up— right now…”

“Is there some sort of magic that we can use? Some spell to muddy her thoughts or perceptions of time or whatever?”

Regina shook her head, “No. I mean, yes there are. But, I won’t, not again. Not ever again will I mess with someone’s mind.”

Emma put an arm through Regina’s arm, “Fair enough. So, then, we wait. Want to wait here, or there?”

Regina and Emma walked in silence down the street for a few moments, going in no specific direction. “You were going to show me somewhere in Maine.”

“Oh, yeah, but, I said after we found Neville.”

Regina stopped and turned towards Emma, “We have time now. Unless you’ve changed your mind.”

“No. Okay. A little side trip.” Emma got out her phone and opened the maps app. She zoomed in and out for a moment, and then showed it to Regina. “Here.”

Regina held out her hand, and they both ducked into an alley. After a quick look around Regina waved her free hand upwards, and they disappeared in a poof of smoke.

oOOOOo

“Ruby? Ruby? Are you out here?”

A noise off to the side made her jump, her hand going to the dagger that she’d gotten from her trunk at the library. A gray squirrel scampered away, pausing to give Belle a sort of ‘really, I’m that scary’ look. Belle shook her head and turned, she took a step forward and came to a full stop. She swallowed, then got down on one knee, “You’re so… you’re larger than I thought you’d be.”

Belle sheathed her dagger and put a hand out, she kept speaking as the wolf sniffed at it. “I’m going to assume that you’re Ruby.” The wolf’s eyes looked up and met Belle’s. Belle nearly stumbled back at the intensity in them, she smiled to herself, “Definitely Ruby. Do you… understand what I’m saying right now, or…” Belle looked down at the forest floor, her hair coming down in front of her face.

Ruby whiffed out a breath of air, blowing Belle’s hair out of her face. Belle laughed and smoothed a hand over the top of Ruby’s head. “You are just as beautiful in this form as in your other one Ruby.”

Ruby took a step back, somehow her wolf features showing confusing almost as if she was looking through her human face.

Even years later Belle couldn’t have told anyone what came over her next. She stood, then leaned down and gave Ruby’s nose a kiss, and Ruby sat back on her haunches for a moment Belle darted into the forest.

After a stunned moment Ruby sprinted after the woman.

Ruby was fast, but Belle managed to dodge and weave, over, under, and through the bramble, branches, plants, and trees. That is until the root that seemed to come from nowhere got under Belle’s foot and she went sprawling, a sound of pain coming from her as she hit the ground.

Ruby skidded to a halt next to her and before Belle could moan because of the pain coming from her ankle, Ruby turned from Wolf form to a very naked human one. Belle blinked and looked down at the ground, “Oh—”

Ruby looked down and smiled just a little, quite a bit of her blushing as well. “Ah, sorry—”

Belle and turned so that her back faced Ruby, “Can you get to the backpack. It has a blanket in it.”

Ruby did and wrapped it around herself. “Sorry— I was worried, and so I didn’t think. I’m trying to work on that.”

Belle turned back around and shook her head, “I’m not a wilting flower Ruby.”

“No, no, I know. I just…” Ruby frowned, “Why are you out here anyway?”

Belle rubbed at her ankle while she was silent, “I was actually looking for you.”

Ruby frowned, “Why?”

Belle went still, “Do you— everyone has seemed to—” Belle trailed off.

Ruby put a hand over Belle’s on the young woman’s ankle, “Belle— I thought we were friends. You can tell me anything.”

Belle stared down at their hands, “That’s the problem isn’t it?”

Ruby frowned, “What?”

Belle shook her head and closed her eyes for a moment before speaking, "We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us."

Ruby frowned, “Who said that? Shakespeare, or… or someone.”

Belle smiled just a little bit, “Joseph Campbell.”

“Ah, the myth guy.” That brought a small smile to Belle’s lips, “What, I may not read as much as you, and really, who does, but I’m not a vapid idiot like most of the town thinks.”

Belle patted Ruby’s hand, “I know, I know that.” Belle paused, “I— I thought that he would change.”

Ruby went with the change, “Now that he’s no longer the Dark One?”

Belle shook her head, “No— I mean, yes, now too. But then as well. I thought that my loving him. That somehow, my love was special, or… or something. I thought that I was the exception. That through my love that I could… I don’t know, cure him?” Belle sighed, “It sounds stupid to say it out loud. And, of course, he loves his son too, but he wouldn’t even…”

Ruby interrupted Belle, “Belle, please, just plainly say what you’re dancing around.”

“I like you… I like you Ruby Lucas.”

Ruby blinked a half a frown frozen on her face, “Yes, of course, we’re frie—”

Belle interrupted Ruby, “No— more than that. I feel— more than that for you Ruby.”

“Oh—”

Belle stood, walked around for a moment, and sat back down. “Maybe I don’t like you— maybe it’s love, but that’s so scary on multiple levels. But when I’m here with you, anywhere with you, I feel. I—”

Ruby scooted closer to Belle cutting off her rambling, “May I make a suggestion?”

“Of course.”

“Just. Stop moving, deciding, whatever, for a little bit.”

Belle frowned, “I don’t understand.”

Ruby put a hand against her blanket covered chest, “I’ve felt— love— romantic love for you nearly since you appeared in town post-curse. But, before you do anything rash. Find yourself. So much of your life has revolved around Gold, Rumpel. Don’t replace him with me.”

Belle stared at Ruby for a long moment. Then looked down at her hands, “You’re being very…”

Ruby smiled, reached over and squeezed Belle’s hand, then released it. “I’m sending mixed signals, I know. I just want you to be happy Belle. If that’s a happy ending with Mr. Frowny face, I’ll live with it. Or if that’s alone, saving the world and kicking ass, I’ll live with it too.”

Belle grabbed the blanket around Ruby and pulled it and her until they were face to face. “I would like to try something.”

Ruby shook her head, “You are the devil sometimes Ms. French. I’m naked and you wanna kiss me? I’d call that entirely unfair.”

Belle smirked, “All’s fair in love and war right?”

Ruby gave a half a sigh, but the smile stayed on her face. “Okay, let’s see what you can do then.”

Their lips nearly met when a throat cleared to their left. “I— ah, sorry for the intrusion, but, I seem to be a little lost.”

Both women’s heads swiveled to look at the newcomer. Belle’s look was also much more welcoming than Ruby’s. Belle spoke, “Hi. Where are you trying to go?”

The light brunette shook her head. “I— I actually don’t know that either. Where are we?”

Ruby pulled the blanket tighter together at her neck, “The outskirts of Storybrooke.”

“Storybrooke?”

“Storybrooke Maine.”

“Maine. Okay. Are we on the coast or…”

Ruby started to answer, but Belle put a hand up and asked a question, “What’s your name?”

“Anna. My name is Anna Sasdahl.”

oOOOOo

“This is—”

Regina put a hand up and Emma fell silent. They stood, neither moving or speaking for a few minutes. Finally Regina put a hand out. Emma took it and Regina pulled Emma into a hug. “Thank you for showing me this.”

Emma pulled back a bit, “And all I get is a hug?”

Regina smiled and brushed the back of her hand along Emma’s jawline. She leaned in and Emma met her halfway. They kissed and took their time. There was no Henry or any other family to interrupt them, no crisis to rear its ugly head, for a brief few moments it was nothing but them.

Until the pickup roared by, its music blaring, and teenage voices singing along. Regina pulled back and wiped a bit of her lipstick off of the side of Emma’s mouth. “I love you Em.”

“I love you too Regina.” She smirked a little, “So, why do you get to call me Em, and I don’t get to call you Gina huh?”

Regina started to step away, but Emma didn’t let her go. “You don’t like it?”

Emma’s smirk turned into a smile, “I love it. Did your Mom call you Gina or something?”

Regina was still for a moment, then shook her head. “Leopold.”

“Oh, Regina, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t…”

Regina put two fingers over Emma’s lips, “You’re the one who should. Questioning me. I won’t take it from others, but, you my love…” Regina turned, “So, this is where the wardrobe dumped you and August.”

Emma nodded, “And now he’s a little kid and I’m in love with the woman…”

“…who made it so your parents had to put you in that wardrobe. You’re amazing Emma Swan.”

Emma made a face, “I’m not. I’m just…”

“Shh… You are. You have the biggest heart of anyone I’ve ever met. And a pure one as well.”

Emma shook her head, “It’s easy to always have been the fairy tale good guy. But you Regina. You amaze me every day. Because I can feel—” Emma tapped her breast bone, “—it in here. Now, every day you hurt about what you did. Not to mention I can feel you fighting your inner demons every minute of every day as well.” Emma paused, “You did horrible things, so many horrible things.” Regina looked down at the ground, but Emma put a finger under the brunette’s chin and lifted it. “But, from now on you are only going to do good things, amazing things, helpful things, and I’m going to be right there next to you. Helping, probably giving you some hard core grief here and there.”

A smile graced Regina’s eyes although it didn’t make it to her lips. “You are a very good needler.”

“Is that what I’m the best at though?” Emma wiggled her eyebrows and Regina chuckled. “You know, I just happen to know of a cabin that’s not far from here, and, it’s not in season you know…”

Regina put her hand out, and Emma took it. “But what would we do there?”

Emma laughed and Regina smiled.

oOOOOo

Cora looked around at those the were gathered in the Mayor’s office. She stood at the back of the room. Eva, Snow, David, and their son Little Neal asleep in Snow’s arms stood at the front. Granny was also there, as well as a man named Archie and his Dalmatian. Playing with the dog was Roland, while his parents Marian and Robin looked on.

Off to one side stood Mulan, Aurora, Mei. The young girl was very carefully holding Little Phillip, while Mulan looked on with a worried look on her face and Aurora watched Mulan with a smile on hers.

Rumpelstiltskin wasn’t present, which surprised Cora. But his ex Milah was there, looking very, very cozy with Elsa.

Even though it was them that everyone was there to hear from the last to enter was Glinda’s group. She, Angra, Zelena, and Henry had caused everyone to look up and over at the door.

It was Snow who spoke, “So?”

Henry gestured to Glinda, “Glinda thinks that she knows how to save the worlds, the realms.”

Cora gave a half a laugh from the back of the room. “Oh, Glinda thinks? I know how to save the realms.”

The room went still and silent. Glinda looked Cora up and down, “And you are?”

“Cora Mills.”

Glinda glanced between Cora and Zelena, “Ah, the one who abandoned your daughter because… why was that again? She was an inconvenience?”

Cora inclined her head, “I did. I don’t see what that has to do with why we’re all here though.”

Glinda turned away from Cora and addressed Snow again, “I can save the realms. There’s a hat…”

“No.”

Glinda took a breath in and let it out slowly before turning towards Cora again, “You have no idea what I’m referring to woman. Be silent and let those who have power save everyone.”

One side of Cora’s face jumped just a bit and her right hand made a fist. But a beat later she cleared her throat and let the fist go. “I do know what you’re referring to. It’s a hat the can take in magic and channel it. Where do you propose we get this magic?”

Glinda glanced over at Zelena, then back to Cora. “You have two daughters who have committed horrible crimes against the people of this realm. You yourself have as well. Or, do you claim to be innocent?”

Cora stared at Glinda for a long moment, then basically dismissed her. She strode towards the front of the room. “Snow…” She paused, “Queen Snow.” A half a smirk came to her face, “Or is it Mayor?”

Snow narrowed her eyes at Cora, “Let’s just stick with Snow, what is your plan?”

Eva spoke up, “Snow, she’s…”

Snow put a hand on her mother’s shoulder, “Please mother.”

David nodded his agreement. “We need to hear any and all solutions before we decide what to do.”

“It’s a spell. It takes five people. Three connected magic wielders and two anchors. It also takes a magic totem.”

Snow spoke up, surprised, “The rose.” Snow held Cora’s gaze for a long moment, thinking, “You and your daughters are the three. Who are the anchors?”

“Henry is one and Emma’s son—” Henry made a noise and Cora looked over at him for a second. “Birth son, and yes. You could be right, this a rose could be the totem.”

Eva whipped out the cell phone. “Then we need to call my granddaughter. Get her back here.”

Cora sighed, “Have you not been listening? They need to find the boy first.”

Eva stood up a bit straighter, as regal as she could be, “And how do you know they haven’t found him yet?”

It was Archie who spoke up, “Because they’re not back yet.”

Cora nodded. But before she could speak again Glinda did. “It is also not the only solution on the table.”

Cora took a few steps backwards, “You’re right.” She glanced around, “It is your decision Snow.” She gave a half bow and turned, leaving the room.

She didn’t stop until she got to the bench and dock where Eva had found her. She sat with a groan and closed her eyes, her body and mind were tired. Being good was much more tiring than being evil. She sat there alone for a few minutes. And even when Zelena sat down at the other end of the bench still Cora didn’t move.

Zelena finally spoke, “Are you on the level? Or will you hurt this town?”

Cora opened her eyes but stayed silent for a moment more, the turned and faced her daughter. “Your Glinda’s plan will kill people. Mine will not.”

“She’s not mine. I’m not sure how much of a friend she even was…” Zelena paused, “There are only two people in this town I trust. Henry, and Regina. Henry has told me more than once that since you have your heart again I should give you a fresh chance.”

“I’m not doing this for a fresh start.”

Zelena studied her mother and all of a sudden understanding dawned on Zelena’s face, “You think that you’ll— we’ll fix the realms and you’ll die again, or simply disappear.”

Cora nodded, “It’s a distinct possibility, yes. I believe that Milah, Marian, Eva, and I are products of a universe in flux.”

Zelena stared at Cora for a moment, “Have you read one of Henry’s comic books?”

Cora smiled, “More than one, yes.” Zelena shook her head and Cora continued, “Has Snow decided her course of action yet?”

Zelena shook her head, “No, when I left they were about to call Emma and Regina.”

Cora stood, “They can’t.”

Zelena frowned and stood as well, “Just to explain the…”

She didn’t get to finish her sentence as Cora grabbed her hand and both women disappeared in a poof of purplish smoke, reappearing a moment later back in the Mayor’s office and causing gasps.

“…plans.”

Cora grabbed the phone from Snow’s hand. “You can’t do that.”

Everyone stood in stunned silence until Henry broke the silence. “Why not?”

Cora shook her head, “They need to find Emma’s birth son.”

Milah spoke up, “Says you.”

Cora turned and nodded, “Yes. How many spells have you cast again? More than five, ten, a hundred?”

Milah and Cora’s gazes battled for a moment, but then Milah inclined her head, “Fair enough.”

“Give me the phone Cora. We’re going with your plan, and part of that is that we’re going to call my daughter and your daughter.”

“No.”

“Cora.”

Cora held the phone up in one hand and Henry practically lunged for it. “Waiiittt…”

Henry managed to get one hand on the phone before Cora disintegrated it to nothing. “Cora, Grandma… I agree with you, I do, I do. But, please don’t destroy my phone? It’s the only thing that has...” Henry trailed off.

Cora nodded and withdrew her hand, leaving the phone in Henry’s palm. “You won’t call your mothers?”

Henry nodded, “I promise.”

Before anyone else could speak the doors to the Mayor’s office banged all the way open and a woman that only two in the room recognized skidded to a halt. Her red hair all mussed in every direction, her eyes searched the room until they landed on one person. “Angra?”

Angra’s mouth dropped open, “Mom?”

Elsa’s face went pale and Milah had to hold her up as she nearly pitched forward. “Anna?”

The mother and daughter met in the middle of the room. The hug was so tight that Cora imagined that

Cora pulled her gaze away from the reunion and stared at the phone in Henry’s hand, then looked down as he took one of her hands in his own. “She’ll be back and you can hug her like that.” Henry lowered his voice just a little, “I will too.”

Cora looked over at Zelena took her other hand, “I will as well.”

Elsa joined the reunion hug and Cora watched them hug, and cry, and laugh. “Hmmm…”

Snow shot daggers at Cora, “What?”

Cora glanced at Snow, “Nothing. I just had a thought.”

“You can continue having it while I call my daughter.”

Cora shook her head. “No. Look, Snow…” Cora stopped herself and shook her head, “No. No. I have a reason, and when my reason has borne fruit, then you’ll realize why we can’t call them. Until then I guess you’ll just have to trust me.”

Snow made a face, but David put a hand on her shoulder and Snow managed not to say anything back to Cora.

“Henry. I-- I have a theory that I need your help with.”

That got Snow’s attention again, “A theory about what?”

Cora shook her head, “Nothing to do with our daughters or saving the realms I assure you. Henry?”

Henry glanced at Elsa, Anna, and Angra and slowly nodded. “Yeah. Is it somewhere outside?”

“It is.”

He sighed, “That’d be good. Do you wanna come Aunt Zelena?”

Zelena studied her mother for a moment, the nodded, “I will accompany you. After all, your mother tasked me with keeping you safe.”

They left the Mayor’s office, Henry with one last question before they were out the door, “So, where are we going?”

Chapter Text

Rumpelstiltskin sat in the back of his shop and watched on the security monitor as Cora, Zelena, and Henry left the Mayor’s office. He pushed back his chair and stared at the wall just beyond the monitor.

The wall had a shelf on it, and on the shelf held a book. Rumpelstiltskin stood and got that book. Before, when he was the Dark One he wouldn’t have needed the spell from the book, he’d have just called out the monster’s name and it would have come to him. Or more specifically to his power.

Still, he had his magic, and it was a simple spell. He’d thought that the spell to hide Emma’s real child would work, but, if Cora’s gut was right it was fast on its way to being broken. That meant that the only way to stop Cora’s plan, to stop his own death was to take out Henry instead. Rumpelstiltskin mumbled to himself, “And the other Mills’ and that interfering Ruby as well.”

He’d found Belle, and they were happy. He deserved happiness as much as Regina, or David and Snow, or any of the other peasants in Storybrooke. And he would do whatever it took to get his happiness. He opened the book and turned to the right page.

He mumbled the words under his breath, they sounded like Czech or some other West Slavic language. His hands started to glow a deep, dark blue and after a minute he dropped the book, his eyes closed and his voice getting louder and louder.

Finally he threw his hands up into the air and a shot of that dark blue energy passed through the ceiling.He sank back into his chair and put a hand to his head. That had taken a lot out of him. But it would be worth it if he and Belle got their happy ending.

oOOOOo

Henry looked around, they were on the beach by the harbor where Cora had appeared. “What are we doing Grandma?”

Cora put her hand out as Zelena watched, “Your phone please?”

Henry frowned, “You’re going to call my Moms?”

Cora shook her head and pushed a few buttons a voice came through the tiny speaker, “Hey kid, it’s your Dad, Neal. Sorry, not sure if we’re to the Dad stage yet. It’s Neal, just calling because, maybe… anyway. I love you kid. Everything else is just… I love you Henry. Okay. I’m gonna hang up before it does for me ‘cause I have no idea who long your message is set to, okay, shutting up now. Love y--”

Henry watched Cora carefully, “It’s the last thing I have with his voice on it. You’re not going to…”

Cora shook her head, “No. I’m not going to delete it. Well… not on purpose at least.” She handed the phone back to Henry. “I’m trying an experiment. Me, Marian, Milah, Eva, Anna. What do all these women have in common.”

Zelena spoke up with a bit of sarcasm in her voice, “They’re women.”

Cora gave her daughter a look, “I see that you channel the snark just as much as your sister.” Zelena just watched Cora, who finally focused on Henry again. “What I want you to do is focus on your love for your father.”

“He’s not…”

Cora narrowed her eyes at Henry, “Do you really think that I believe that just because Neal is not the one who helped create him that you don’t consider him your father.” Henry opened his mouth, then closed it and shrugged. Cora continued, “As I said, I want you to focus on your love for-- Neal while you listen to his message.”

Zelena spoke, “Why?”

Cora looked between Zelena and Henry. “Please. Just… try it?”

Henry took a deep breath, and let it out, then scrolled to voice mail and after a moment Henry closed his eyes as Neal’s voice emanated from the phone’s speaker again.

It wasn’t big, and Cora wouldn’t have noticed it except that she was listening for it, or anything. A yell of surprise followed by a swear word or two. Cora waved her hand and a soaking wet form appeared in front of all three of them.

He coughed, expelling water, then looked up and took a couple of steps back, “Cora?”

Henry’s entire face showed utter shock. Then he slapped the phone into Zelena’s hand and rushed his Neal, literally knocking him to the ground.

oOOOOo

"You’re looking for Neville?" The woman appraised Emma and Regina, "Are you two the police. What did he do now?"

Emma got out her bail bondsman license out and flashed it, "Actually, I'm here to take him into my custody."

The woman was silent and still for a moment, the nodded, "I'll need to see your paperwork."

Regina spoke up, "May I know where he is?"

"I think he's in the Orchard."

"Orchard?"

The woman nodded and took the papers that Emma handed her, "It's out back. Go out there if you want."

Regina met Emma's gaze and then the blonde gave a tiny nod, "Thank you."

Emma followed the woman into the house while Regina went around the house. "Oh, that Orchard."

She was about halfway in when she stopped in her tracks. The young man Henry's age sat against a tree, a book in his lap.

Regina hesitated then approached him. When he looked up it was all Regina could do not to gasp because of how much he looked like Emma, down to the very blond hair. "You here to drag me back to New York, or Phoenix, or wherever?"

Regina reached above Neville and picked an apple, then sat cross legged in front of him, "Where do you want to be?"

Neville shook his head, "Doesn't matter."

"Where do you want to be?"

Neville stared at Regina for a long minute, "Somewhere with my own room."

Regina took a bite of the apple, swallowed, and spoke. "That's a bit pedestrian. Care to try again?"

"A family-- okay-- is that what you want to hear?"

“I want to hear the truth.” Regina stood. “I have a tree just like this in my yard. It’s all I have of my childhood. I don’t know what your thirteen years have been like so far, but they must not have been easy if you ran away.”

Neville cut Regina off, “Everyone else thinks that I did it for myself. That I’m a— that I’m a bad kid.”

Regina’s eyes twinkled, “I can beat that, my son ran away because he thought I was evil incarnate, and so he ran away to find someone to defeat me.” She paused as Neville shook his head, “What are you reading?”

“It’s stupid.”

Regina narrowed her eyes, “Is it porn young man?”

Neville blushed so hard Regina thought he’d turn purple. “What, no— no— it’s a comic book. A graphic novel— DC- my favorite one. Superman: True Brit. It’s Superman, but an Elseworlds tale where instead of landing near Martha and Jonathan in Smallville he lands in Britain and it’s totally different, and while Superman is okay in Britain, he never feels— right there. But then in the end he finds where he belongs.” Neville shrugged, “It’s stupid.”

Regina held her hand out, “May I see it?” Neville paused, then handed it over. Regina could see that it was nearly like new. She carefully opened it and perused the first few pages. “Well, it’s not Marvel.”

Neville snatched back the book and rolled his eyes, “Yeah, Marvel’s all popular now, but DC was before and Marvel sucked, so, it’ll swing back again eventually.”

Regina studied Neville, “I think you’d like Daredevil.” Regina tilted her head to one side, “And I bet you’re old enough to give Deadpool a try too.”

Neville stood, “Ma’am, why are you here?”

Regina glanced over Neville’s head, “That young man, is up to you.”

Neville turned to see what Regina was looking at and gasped, “Oh my God.”

Regina smiled, “She is beautiful… although I doubt that’s why you were startled.”

He looked back towards Regina, “Who.. who is she?”

Regina moved to the side, “I’ll let her tell you.”

Emma stopped in front of both of them. “So— you found a tree. Did you find Neville?”

Regina frowned and looked between Neville and Emma. Neville looked quite disturbed as well. “Is she blind or something?”

Regina shook her head, “No.”

Emma studied the tree, seemingly looking right through Neville, then turned back towards Regina. “Did someone turn him into this tree then?”

Regina was silent for a moment, “I did find him Emma. He’s standing right in front of you, of us… but there seems to be some sort of—” She glanced at Neville, “—spell over him, or maybe over you, so you can’t see him.” Regina turned to Neville. “Do you trust me?”

Neville gave Regina a look, “I guess. You know what Marvel is. Who’s your favorite character?”

Regina thought for a moment, “Emma Frost.”

Neville made a face, “Ugh, really?” Regina narrowed her eyes at the young man who shrugged after a moment. “Okay. Yeah, I guess I trust you. What are you gonna do?”

Regina put a hand on his shoulder. “This.” She took a hold of Emma’s hand.

Emma jerked as Neville seemed to appear out of thin air. “You’re…” She blinked, “Whoa.”

“Emma Swan, Neville. Neville, this is Emma.”

Emma looked in between Regina and Neville, her hand still in Regina’s. “Did you tell him?”

Regina shook her head, “I did not.”

Neville hurfed, “Somebody should just tell me something already, okay?”

Emma took a steadying breath and let go of Regina’s hand, facing Neville head on, “I’m Emma Swan, and I’m your birth mother.”

Neville blinked, “Oh— yeah— didn’t see that coming.” He frowned, “But, why are you here now?”

Emma looked off into the distance for a moment. “I wasn’t ready to have a kid when I had you kid. I could barely take care of myself— and so I thought I was giving you up for adoption so that you’d have your best chance, but instead…”

“Ms. Swan, do you have a point?”

Regina put a hand over her mouth, but a muffled chortle came out none the less.

Emma shook her head, “How the hell can my kid, my actual from my loins kid take after you Regina?”

Regina spoke to Neville, “Emma’s point is more like a question, or a choice. Whether or not you wish to come back with us to Storybrooke.”

“Seriously? It’s really called that?”

Regina nodded, “Storybrooke, Maine. It’s a unique town in many ways.”

Neville made a face, “Like a weird commune?”

Regina shook her head, “No— just a town. I was Mayor at one point.”

Neville frowned, “I— can I think about it for a while?”

“May—” Both Neville and Emma looked at Regina, “What? It’s may I, not can I…”

A half a smile came to Neville’s face and then left a second later. “May I think on it?”

Emma finally found her voice, “Yes, yes, of course.” Emma took Regina’s hand, “We’ll wander a bit and give you some time.”

“No… I think that I will.” He stood and started to walk off, then turned back and spoke, “Ms. Swan, who’s your favorite Marvel or DC character?”

“That’s easy. Peter Quill.”

Neville frowned, “Star-Lord. Why ‘cause he’s played by the guy that all the girls are all oohing and ahhing about?”

Emma shook her head, “Nah. I like him better with Kitty than Gamora actually.”

“Huh…” He turned back and continued walking.

Emma glanced over at Regina, “Was that the right answer?”

Regina shook her head, “I have no idea. I’m going to sit down.” She did, leaning back against the tree and closing her eyes.

After a moment she opened them as Emma sat down next to her, although half on her would have been a more accurate description. “Emma?”

Emma looked up at Regina, “What? This little journey has been tiring, we didn’t exactly get any— rest— at the cabin, and… somehow I don’t think it’s over yet.” She put her head back down on Regina’s shoulder and closed her eyes. “If anyone other than Neville appears you’ll shoot ‘em with your magic right?”

Regina smiled down at Emma, “I will.”

oOOOOo

Roland skipped over the leaves and roots. He paused at a tree and knelt down to see what was under the leaves at the bottom of the tree. He took one of the wiggly things in his hand and laughed as it tickled just a little bit. He felt more than saw something move up ahead and looked up.

A scream got caught in his throat as something big and scary and so big seemed to be coming out of the rock, or maybe it had been the rock. And then it unfurled what looked to be wings and opened its eyes. Roland screamed and screamed and screamed until a hand was put over his mouth and he fell silent, his eyes still screaming.

His father whispered something in his ear, while he could feel his mother’s hand on his shoulder as well.

It was the most horrible monster he’d ever seen. It was bigger than a house, bigger than a tree, the biggest thing that Roland had ever seen and he had been in Mayor Regina’s house once. It had mottled brownish blackish skin that looked as though it had been burned and then healed a million times. It’s eyes were the yellow of disease, it’s claws as sharp as a thousand knives as they cut through all the trees and animals around them in th forest. It’s mouth seemed permanently set in the evil visage of what it thought to be a smile. He heard his father say it’s name almost as if he were swearing, “Chernobog.”

His mother took Roland out of his father’s arms and into her own. “Go, Go Robin. Take the men. I’ll call David, or Snow, and tell them what’s coming.”

His father nodded, but paused. He leaned down and kissed Roland on the forehead which made Roland smile. Then he touched his lips to Marian’s. “Keep safe.”

Marian shot him a look, “Once I make the call we’re following you into town.”

Even Roland could tell that Robin was debating how to respond to Marian’s statement. Finally he nodded and gave her a kiss. “Still, stay safe my love.”

Roland looked up at his mother, “Mommy, what was?”

Marian took out her phone and shook her head, “Something very bad Roland.”

“Gonna hurt?”

“Your Daddy, no.”

Roland shook his head, “Others though?”

Marian squeezed Roland closer to her body as the phone rang in her ear, “That’s why I’m calling Snow White, so that they can make sure that no one gets hurt.”

Roland whispered almost to himself, “Someone gets hurt.”

oOOOOo

Neville paused a bit away from the two women who still were in one anothers arm against the tree. He frowned for a long moment, then took a deep breath in and let it out.

He continued to the two women and came to a stop above them. “My favorite movie… I mean when I was a kid, was Tarzan. I always felt in the wrong place, always, so… I mean.” He cleared his throat, “Okay. I mean. I have one condition though.”

Emma nodded, blinking the sleep out of her eyes as she sat up straighter. “Anything.”

“Why is the town… unique.”

Emma and Regina shared a look. Emma stood and held a hand down to Regina who took it and stood as well. Emma spoke, “That’s a complicated question to answer really.”

Neville crossed his arms over his chest, “So? I’m not stupid.”

Emma looked towards Regina, “A little help here?”

Regina was still for a moment, then held out her hand. “Actually, it’s a very simple answer. But, it’s probably better if we show you than tell you.”

“Regina.”

Regina focused on Emma, “Unless we plan on never returning to Storybrooke with Neville, and I won’t leave Henry there… he’ll find out eventually. Wouldn’t you have rather known all of your past when you were his age?”

Emma blew out a breath and nodded, “Okay. Okay, you have good points.” She took Regina’s other hand in her own. Neville stood still and stared at the two women with questions in his eyes. “You have to take her hand. It only works when you’re touching.”

Neville frowned, “Only hands.”

Regina inclined her head, “Just take my hand. It will be over in no more than a few seconds and will not hurt at all.”

Neville finally put his hand in Regina’s. “What’s going to happen now?”

Emma smiled, “Mag—”

oOOOOo

Snow looked up and down the line. Some of Storybrooke’s citizens had axes, others swords, or fire extinguishers, flaming arrows, Granny had her crossbow with a doused arrow ready to be lit as well. And of course, some had nothing at all in their hands, although their hands were held up in front of them. “Ready?”

Zelena, Elsa, Glinda, the fairies, Blue, and Cora nodded and Cora spoke, “Magic users are ready.”

“Swords.”

David responded for them, “Ready.” And both Henry and Neal gave nods where they stood next to him. David glanced over at Neal, “Aren’t you glad you came back from the dead?”

Neal looked over at Henry for a moment, then nodded, “I am actually. And I’m ready to kick some Chernobog as— butt.”

Snow spoke for herself, “Archers are ready as well.” She turned to those behind her. “Angra?”

Angra nodded and flexed her hands, “Ready to heal all those I can if it comes to that.”

Snow rolled her shoulders, settling the arrows on her back, “The rest of you… remember… only if we fall.” She was about to say something else when Archie and Grumpy jogged up. Totally out of breath. Snow did a double take, “Is that a rocket launcher.”

Grumpy patted its side, “RPG Launcher actually.”

“And we have…?”

Archie interrupted Snow, “The rockets to use with it? Yes.”

Grumpy grumbled, “They’re not rockets, they’re…”

“Holy shit.”

Snow gasped. “Language Henry.”

Neal stared up at the monster demon that was at least as twice as big as the library and clock tower and coming towards them. “No, no, as his father, or father figure or whatever, I think that I’m going to declare that this is a holy shit sorta moment. Holy shit.”

“Archers…” She paused, “And RPG Launcher too I guess.” Those with bows and arrows lit their arrows. Archie loaded , “Away.”

Way too few flaming arrows flew towards the gigantic monster and snuffed themselves out on his skin like matches in water. Even the RPG seemed to wink out against the Chernobog’s skin “Again. Try to hit the same places you did last time, and Grumpy, Archie, tell me when you’re out of ammo. Cora, Zelena… Elsa, Glinda… Fairies…”

Zelena was the first to fling her hands towards the beast, green fire actually making the monster flinch. And the rest soon followed suit. Cora’s deep purple fire, Elsa’s icy fire, Glinda’s yellowish white fire, and the fairies multitude of colors. The Chernobog’s forward progress was halted. “Keep at it. Keep at it, we’re…”

Before Snow could finish her sentence a streak of fire came back at those attacking the Chernobog. Archie was thrown backwards, hitting the ground, unconscious and on fire. Angra was the first to get to him, smothering the fire with a blanket.

“I need someone to load…”

David pointed at Henry, “Henry, help Grumpy.”

Neal held out his hand for Henry’s sword, and then Snow spoke, “Swords, forward. Magic, aim high. Ruby…”

Ruby nodded. “On it.” She started to take off her bathrobe, but Belle stopped her. “Belle…”

“Shut up.” And Belle kissed her until the Chernobog roared again and sent another wall of fire towards the people of Storybrooke.

Ruby pulled away and gave Belle a wink, “Keep my bathrobe safe, ‘kay?” She disrobed, “Cats, wolves, and other shape shifters. It’s our turn, let’s kick, bite and claw some ass.”

Ruby turned into her Wolf form. Behind her a few lions, including one with a humongous scar on his face appeared, as well as a myriad of other animals and forms. They raced towards the monster, weaving around those humans fighting on the ground with swords.

Meanwhile those with arrows kept shooting, although they were getting low on them. Henry and Grumpy were running out of RPGs as well, and those using Magic were tiring. “It’s not working. Why isn’t it working?”

One of the fairies, then another collapsed to the ground. Angra was to them in a moment, dragging them backwards to where Archie and some of the other townspeople lay behind a bunch of rubble that had been thrown together.

Another blast of fire came towards the archers. David caught it out of the corner of his eye and screamed, “Snow, No….”

Cora flicked one of her hands towards Snow and the other archers, causing the flame to instead light one of the storefront’s, and ice cream shop that hadn’t ever actually been open. “Concentrate on the Chernobog Cora.”

“You’re welcome your majesty.”

“Where the hell is Gold. Gold. GOLD.”

Chapter Text

“—ic.”

Neville let go of Regina’s hand and stumbled forward a couple of steps. “Whoa. That was. Whoa.” He whirled around, “We just… it’s like the JLA transporter. That was so… oh man.” His voice went from calm to panicked in an instant, “Big, big, big, BIG monster, BIG MONSTER.”

Both Emma and Regina whirled around at the same time. Regina pushed Neville and Emma to the ground as a burst of flame nearly took them all out. “That’s a Chernobog, nothing we can do will harm it.”

Emma rolled her eyes, “Haven’t you ever seen Fantasia, it was put out in 1941.”

Regina looked confused, but focused on Emma anyway, “What’s your plan.”

Emma glanced up at the monster for a moment, “Neville, can you go give the woman in charge a message from her daughter. She’s the one with dark short hair.”

“From you?”

Regina put up a defensive shield as another blast of fire came their way, and Emma nodded. “Yes. She’s your grandmother. But that’s a conversation for when we’re not about to die. Tell her that we’re going to Church, and me and Regina.”

“Regina and I…”

Emma shot Regina a look, “Really, now?”

Regina winced, “Sorry, force of habit.”

Emma shook her head, “Regina and I are going to see if we can piss it off a little more with some true love assisted magic.” Something caught Emma’s eye and she did a double take, “Is that Neal?”

Regina looked where Emma was looking and it was if a steel door shut over her emotions. She answered in a monotone voice, “It looks like it is. Are we going to?”

Emma frowned at Regina, but, they didn’t have time. She gave Neville a pat, “Go, stay low, and sprint kid.”

Neville was off and sprinting. “So… harrass. Hit him around the head, the eyes, get him to follow us?”

Regina nodded. “Of course.”

Emma’s frown deepened, “Regina.”

Regina pointed at the monster, “Bigger problems, remember?”

oOOOOo

Neville gasped for breath, trying to suck in air as he spoke to what apparently was his grandmother, although she looked vastly too young for that to be true. He would have a lot of questions if he survived this… thing from his nightmares. “Regina and Emma… going to church.” He sucked in oxygen, “Harass demon with them.”

Snow frowned as she let go her second to last arrow, “The church?”

Neville took another breath, “Fantasia. I… seen it. Ave Maria… end. Wins.”

Snow lit, notched, and fired her last bow, then put an arm around Neville. “I’m Snow. You’re Emma’s birth son.”

“Neville.”

“Come with me… where are they.”

Before he could answer a beam of pure white light and one of a sort of light red light blasted from down the street, knocking the Chernobog back a step. “Never mind.” Snow raised her voice. “Retreat. Retreat towards Church St. RETREAT TO CHURCH STREET.”

Neville was sorta impressed and sorta scared when everyone did. Everyone but David that is. He went a few paces back, wound up, and threw his sword as hard as he could like a javelin. He hit his mark, and the Chernobog roared, spewing fire everywhere as the sword sliced into the monster’s eye.

oOOOOo

Regina was a little surprised that it was working, but she didn’t say that out loud. Instead she spoke over the nearly constant roaring the Chernobog was doing. “What now?”

“Us. Bell tower.” The other magic users who were still standing, Zelena and Cora, had joined them. “You two draw it to the grounds of the church. Get it. They have to be standing… on the ‘sacred ground’.”

Cora and Zelena nodded. Regina gripped Emma’s upper arm, and with a wave of her hand they both appeared in the bell tower. “And us?”

One of Emma’s cheek’s jumped, “We have to wait, and… it will have to be everything we have. Together.”

Regina mumbled, “One last time.”

Emma hadn’t heard her, “What?”

Regina shook her head and held out her hand, “My magic is strongest it seems, when we are touching.”

The edges of Emma’s mouth curled into just the smallest of smiles. “I think that’s the whole true love thing, right?”

Regina didn’t answer, and instead pulled them both towards the opening in the bell tower. It felt like forever, but was most likely only a few moments before the Chernobog was nearly to where they needed it to be.

Regina looked over. “Change position.”

Emma shook her head, “What?”

Regina nodded, “Stand in front of me.” Emma did and Regina wrapped her arms around Emma so that their arms were on top of one another’s, her head over one of Emma’s shoulders. “Don’t think of what’s coming from us as your magic and my magic together. Think of it as…”

Emma leaned her head back against Regina’s shoulder, “our magic.” She paused, “He’s on the church’s ground, I can feel it.”

“Now.”

Everyone within viewing distance of the church stopped what they were doing as they witnessed something that was astounding. The energy that came from the bell tower seemed to not just be so pure white that it hurt the eyes, but it seemed to not only glow from without, but it had a golden glow in the middle as well. And it was hot. Those on the church’s ground had to partially shield their eyes and heads because the magic was so hot.

Cora had never seen magic that was anything like what her daughter and Emma were creating. And, more stunningly, it worked, although not in the way that anyone thought it would. Slowly the entire beast turned into a gigantic stone statue.

Even after the light show had stopped no one moved and they barely breathed. It was Emma and Regina coming out of the church that spurred everyone into movement. A cheer went up and everyone swarmed around Regina and Emma.

Cora didn’t move as everyone else finally got to say their hellos. Got their hugs. Henry’s hugs for both his mothers looked as if it could have broken their ribs it was so tight. Neal gave Regina a sort of pat on the shoulder, and then spoke and held a hand out to Neville, and Cora watched as even Snow gave Regina a hug that looked as if it was entirely genuine.

Cora met Regina’s eyes across the space and stilled as Regina gave Henry a kiss on the cheek and started over towards her.

“Mother.”

Cora was at a loss for words for a long moment before they came to her. “I’m sorry.”

Regina put a hand on Cora’s shoulder and pulled her mother into a hug. Cora closed her eyes and squeezed her daughter to her as if she would never let her go again. Finally Regina pulled back, “We should go somewhere. Talk.”

Cora nodded, then her eyebrows furrowed a bit, “What about Emma, Henry? This… Neville? You don’t want to be celebrating with them?”

Before Regina could answer Rumpelstiltskin appeared in a puff of purple so dark that it looked quite black. Before the former Dark One could say a word Belle stormed forward and stuck a finger in his chest. “Where the hell were you. We all nearly died. We almost DIED. What was more important than us. Than your grandson, than this town, than me?” Rumpelstiltskin didn’t speak, “Tell me. It was horrible. Archie is… and Ruby nearly got…” She poked him again, “Damnit, talk.”

He moved so fast and there was only one person there who seemed to understand in less than an instant what he was trying to do. He was lunging towards Neville, and then Emma was in between the dagger, one without any names or markings on it, and her birth son.

An unearthly noise came from Emma as Henry practically dove to Emma’s side. Elsa and Zelena also jumped in, each taking hold, both physically and magically of Rumpelstiltskin’s arms.

“No, no, no, no….. “ Henry looked at Angra, his eyes begged her even more than his voice, “Please, please… I’ll give you anything, I’ll go anywhere with you, I don’t care, don’t let her die, please, please, don’t let my Mom die…”

A hand came down on Henry’s shoulder, “It’s too late…”

Henry whirled around and pushed Regina in the chest once, then again harder, and again harder, and harder, driving her backwards until she hit the wall of the church. She didn’t even think about raising a hand towards her son, “NO. You said you loved her, you said that… that we would all be together. All four of us… you, me, Emma, and Zelena, IT’S NOT FAIR…”

A cough came from behind them, “Life ain’t always fair kid.”

Henry turned around again, “Mom?” He again practically dove across the space and into her arms. “How? You were dead.” He looked up at Angra, “Did you…”

Angra raised her hands, “I didn’t. I’m so… so tired I don’t think that I could if I wanted to.”

Regina knelt down next to Emma. The blonde still had the arrow in her, and it still seemed to be sticking out of the place on her chest where her heart should be. “This is going to hurt.”

Snow put a hand over Regina’s, “What are you doing Regina? The arrow is keeping her alive.”

“No. It’s not.” Regina moved Snow’s hand, then magically plunged her hand into Emma’s chest and brought it back out just as fast. A short breath of pain escaped Emma. No one was really paying attention to her though, they were all staring at the bright red heart with an arrow entirely through it that Regina had in her hand.

Emma rubbed at where the arrow had gone in, now magically sealed by Regina. “I thought those hearts were wayyy more metaphorical than that. That hurt like a bitch.”

Regina frowned, “It’s yours… Emma, I’m sorry, I wish… Maybe we can…”

“Regina. Your heart saved my life.” Emma shook her head and cupped her hand around Regina’s. “It’s okay. Is it going to… I mean.” Emma touched her own heart that still had the arrow through it, “It looks like it’s getting grayer and grayer.”

Regina nodded slowly, “Yes, it will turn to dust.”

Emma didn’t take her eyes off of Regina, “And will I be okay once it… does?”

Regina shook her head, “I— I don’t know. You still have mine, so, perhaps…”

Cora frowned, watching the interplay, “Wait, Regina, you don’t have your heart?”

Regina nodded, “It seemed like a safe place to keep it.”

Emma reached up and gripped Snow’s hand, with the other taking David’s, “Hey Ma, Pops… we saved the world again.”

Snow put a hand to Emma’s cheek, “Oh, my baby.”

Regina stared as the heart in her hand slowly turned to dust. Once it was gone she turned and studied Emma. “I think… I think you’re going to be okay.”

Emma let go of Snow’s hand and held it out to Regina. “I knew that the second you put your arms around me.”

Regina clasped Emma’s hand, then let go and stood. “I should… go check on the injured, Archie, Pongo… I’ll.. Yes.” With that she left a confused Emma still on the ground. Emma frowned and looked towards Henry, “Hey, will you follow her?”

Cora put a restraining hand on Henry’s shoulder. “Stay here with your mother. I’ll go find her.”

Emma watched Cora go after Regina, “I should get up… go, but…” Emma put a hand to her chest, “It still hurts.” Emma looked up at Snow, and then over at Zelena, “Is it still supposed to hurt?”

Zelena shook her head, “I simply know how to pull them out. The two women who know the most about mystical hearts just walked away.”

David put two fingers to his daughter’s neck for a moment, “It’s beating strongly.” He looked at Cora’s retreating back, “But… it’s not your heart is it…”

oOOOOo

“I know I have no right to ask, but, what’s wrong?”

Regina cleared her throat and stood straighter before turning. “Nothing. I’m okay.”

Cora regarded her daughter, “You’re not. I may not have been the best mother, but even I realize that.”

Regina shook her head, “I just needed a moment. I’ll be fine. I’ll be okay.”

Cora winced, “We don’t necessarily have another moment.”

Regina frowned, “What do you mean?”

“The three of us, Neville and Henry. We need to go… I’m not sure exactly where in town… and we need to perform a spell together.”

Regina ran a hand through her hair, “And why is that?”

“To save what’s left of the fairy tale realms, not to mention to save ourselves.”

Regina was silent for a long moment, looking away from Cora. “Who are the three?” Regina seemed to steel herself, “Is Emma one of them?”

Cora shook her head, “She is not. You, me, and your sister Zelena.” Cora paused, then continued, “Because I have made a promise to myself to be as honest with you, with everyone, as I can from here on out I should tell you that Glinda, she has a different plan. It involves a magic hat, and killing most of the magic users here in Storybrooke, letting the hat absorb their… our powers. But, it probably has a higher likely hood of going off perfectly.”

Regina didn’t pause before she answered, and that made Cora’s heart soar just a bit. “No. No. No more damn killing in this town, not by me, or you, or Rumpelstiltskin, or… anyone. No.” Regina blew out an angry breath. “Well. Let’s go back. Figure out where we’re casting this spell and do it. I— I need a long soak and a lot of alcohol.”

Chapter Text

"I'm here-- are we going to save Storybrooke again or what?"

Emma frowned and took a step towards Regina, putting a hand on Regina's arm, "Hey, you okay?"

Regina nodded, "Yes. Yes." She patted Emma's hand and gave it a squeeze before letting go. She turned to Cora, "You said this spell may not work. But, will it hurt Henry or Neville?"

Cora shook her head, "I don't believe so, no." She paused, "It would be the three of us that got hurt."

Snow appeared, the rose still in its case in her hands. "We chose here--"

Cora glanced over, then met Regina's gaze, and then looked back at Snow, "YOu mean Zelena and Elsa did."

Snow bristled for a moment, the nodded. "Something about them feeling that veil between the realms is thinner here--"

Regina nodded, "Because the portal to the Enchanted Forest--"

Emma interrupted, "With the hat--"

Regina spoke over Emma, "--was opened here."

Emma smiled just a bit, "When Snow and I went down the rabbit hole, saving you from getting soul sucked. Fun times."

Regina held out her hands to Snow, "The rose please?"

Snow glanced between Cora and Regina, "You're in charge?"

Regina looked to Cora, then Zelena. "Yes. You don't trust either of them." She held a hand out. After a moment Snow through the railing's door, and came to Regina, handing over the case. Under her breath she spoke, "Regina, are you okay? You seem..."

Regina gave a short nod, "I am fine. You should get back behind the railing with Emma and the rest of the town."

Just as Snow started to move away a piece of ceiling came crashing to the floor. Regina gave Snow a push away and it slammed to the ground in between them. Snow retreated to behind the railing. Regina only barely seemed phased and that brought a deep frown to Emma's face.

"Zelena, mother, stand in the center. I'll join you in a moment. Henry, Neville, please stand on either side of the seal." She gestured towards the two spots. Henry went to his right away, but Neville paused and stared at the spot for a long time. Regina walked to him and leaned towards him so that only he could hear what she was saying. “I’m sorry that this is… I promise you, if we get through this you will get every opportunity to get to know your mother.”

Neville stared at the floor for another moment, then looked up, “Can I get to know you? May I, I mean?”

“Me?” Neville nodded. “If you wish, we can probably work something out, yes. But first…”

Neville took a deep breath and squared his shoulders, “Right. Stand opposite Henry and try not to crap my pants.”

Regina spoke with a straight face, “I don’t think that if you do crap your pants it will have an adverse effect on the spell.”

Neville snorted out a laugh, “God, we’re so dead ‘cause generally you don’t make the jokes, right?”

Regina put her free hand on Neville’s shoulder. “We will be fine. Magic is all about the mental, not the physical. So…”

“Think happy thoughts?”

Regina nodded, “Something like that son, yes.”

Neville took another deep breath, then nodded again. “Okay. I’m good. Let’s get this going.”

Regina took the rose out of the case, stared at the town seal for a moment, then carefully placed it upright in the barest of indentations.

More debris rained down as Regina quickly rejoined her mother and sister, taking their hands. Cora was the closest to the railing, the point of the triangle. Holding her left hand was Regina, holding her right Zelena. Henry was on Zelena’s side of the seal, while Neville was across from him.

Emma took a step to open the door in the railing, but Regina shook her head, and met Snow’s eyes. Snow took a firm hold on her daughter’s arm, stopping the blonde’s progress.

Regina glanced at her mother, “I assume you know the incantation?”

Cora didn’t answer the question, just closed her eyes and spoke, “Sana, sana, sana. Sana Storybrooke, sana cantatis saltus, sanabit nos omnes.”

Both Zelena joined in, chanting the words again, and again. Emma was about to wonder aloud why it wasn’t working when she felt heat on her back, and then she flew to the side, crashing through the chairs that were there. The world seemed to slow to a crawl for her as Rumpelstiltskin shed the grips of Elsa and Angra, hurdled the railing, a knife in his hand, and burst through the triangle between Zelena and Cora. It looked as though he was going for Neville, but, he never got there. Instead as he got to the center of the triangle of Mills women there was a blast of white light and an unearthly scream came from him as the whole room lit up blue for a second, and then everything went silent and still.

After a beat, those who were behind the railing surged forward almost as one. Emma got to Regina first, but Regina pointed towards the two boys. “Check on Neville and Henry.” She did, and right on her heels was Neal, checking on Henry.

Belle got down on her knees next to Rumpel, Ruby right there next to her.

Angra came up next to both of them and looked to Regina, “Do I… I mean, I don’t know if I can, but… do I try and…”

Regina nodded, “Try and save him. Yes. No more dying.” She glanced at Belle, who seemed to have a death grip on Ruby’s arm, “No more unhappy endings, at least from now on.”

Angra went to Rumpelstiltskin, kneeling next to him, trying to heal him with her power. Everyone held their breaths until Rumpelstiltskin took a breath, and then another, and Angra put a hand down on the ground. “I think… I think I’m done with healing for awhile. Anybody got a chair?”

David helped Angra up and led her back past the railing to one of the chairs that hadn’t been knocked over when Emma had gone flying.

Regina turned away and stared up where the town seal used to be, where the portal now was. Henry came to her side and put a hand on her arm, “Mom, are you okay?”

Regina looked down at Henry with a half a smile. She cupped his cheek for a moment, then kissed his cheek. “I love you Henry Mills.”

Henry frowned, “I love you too Mom, what’s wrong?”

Regina shook her head, “Nothing. I’ll be okay. I need to go get something from my— former office.”

She left a still frowning Henry in her wake. “Grandma?” Both Snow and Cora looked over and Henry shook his head, “Sorry, this time I meant Cora.”

“Yes my dear?”

Henry met Emma’s eyes and Emma joined he and Cora. “You know about hearts right?”

“I’m not sure what you mean.”

“I mean, not, like, philosophically. The red ones that can be pulled out. You know about them?”

“I do. What’s your question.”

Henry pulled Emma closer, “Emma’s still hurts.”

Cora frowned, “But, if I recall, it’s not Emma’s that’s in there, correct? It’s my daughter’s heart in your chest?”

Emma seemed to realize something. “Oh— that means that Regina... Hey kid—”

Emma didn’t even need to ask the question. Henry answered it anyway. “She went upstairs to her office. To the Mayor’s office.”

Emma jogged towards the door that would lead her to the Mayor’s office. Just as she left the room the portal started rippling. “Grandma, Aunt Zelena… Elsa…”

The three women stood over where a triangle had been burned into the floor, all their hands up towards the portal. A young girl stepped through and fell to the ground, she rolled and stood, a sword held out in front of her.

Before anyone else could move, Mei shot through the crowd and jumped at the newcomer. “Nerida, Nerida… we did it. Where’s Guinevere?”

Snow pointed at Grumpy and the dwarves, “Make a platform.” They did, pulling over this and that to make a temporary platform and stairs under where the portal opened. And just in time, a very beautiful woman stepped through the portal, a sword in her hands too, though one that was much more intricately made.

Snow stepped forward as the woman came down the stairs, “Queen Guinevere.”

Guinevere sheathed her sword and shook Snow’s hand, “It’s simply Guinevere now. I have no kingdom to rule.” She looked around, “Is this your kingdom now?”

“Ah… it’s complicated. So… it looks as though we may have saved the realms.”

“Only the Enchanted Forest and this town are left Queen Snow.” Guinevere gestured towards Mei, “May I?”

Snow nodded, “Oh, of course. Of course. Perhaps, we could send a person or two back through. Tell your people that you, Mei, and Nerida are okay?”

“Who?”

Archie spoke, “I’d like to go Snow.”

Henry started to speak, but Neal pointed at him, “If you volunteer kid your Mom’ll kill me…”

Henry smirked, “Aw man, you’re no fun.”

Guinevere watched the interaction, then gave Snow a half a bow. “I will go back through with him. Perhaps we can meet later today, in say, five hours?”

Snow nodded, “Sounds good. I’ll be here.”

Archie and Guinevere met at the bottom of the temporary steps and Archie put his elbow out. Everyone watched as Guinevere paused for a moment, as if considering why Archie was offering assistance, then took the arm and they went up the stairs and into the portal.

Snow moved back until she stood next to Cora. “So. Are we safe now? Did we fix it?”

Cora shook her head, “I have no idea. The Town Hall is no longer coming down on our heads. That’s a good sign, right?”

Snow sighed, “This is going to get complicated huh?”

oOOOOo

Emma entered the outer office of the Mayor’s suite and frowned. Regina wasn’t there, and the door to the inner office was closed, and she could faintly hear something on the other side of the door. She tried the handle, but it was locked. Her frown deepened. She gave a short knock on the door. “Regina, what’s wrong? Are you okay? Is Henry okay? The town?”

There was silence for a couple of beats, and then Regina spoke, “I’m fine thank you.”

Emma blew out a breath, “That’s a load’a crap and you know it Regina. If you don’t want to leave your office that means that I have to come in.” Regina said something, but Emma couldn’t hear it, “What?”

Regina cleared her throat, “You can’t.”

Emma regarded the door, “I’ve kicked down a door or two. And, I’ve now seen you naked, so a state of undress…” Emma trailed off. “But if you don’t want me to then…”

“My back is against it.”

“Oh, so literally you mean. Hmm…” She paused, “Okay, so, I’ve never done this, and if I wind up in the door, or wall, or floor it’s your fault Mills, but. Here goes nothing.”

Emma closed her eyes for a moment and when she opened them she stood in the room in front of Regina. Regina sat on the ground, her knees to her chest, her arms wrapped around them. She slowly raised her head from between her arms.

Emma sat down across from Regina. Close enough to be able to touch Regina. But she didn’t. She simply waited.

Not surprisingly Regina shifted the focus to Emma, “It’s getting easier for you to use your magic again.”

Emma nodded, “I guess. I’m trying not to think about it all. If I do for too long. I’m still not… sometimes I still find myself not believing what’s going on. The last three or four years. Hell. The last week. Cora’s back, Neal’s back.”

Regina looked down at the floor between her legs again, “Neal.”

Emma frowned, “Is that why you’re in here?”

Regina looked up and slowly nodded, “Yes.” She looked back down at her hands, “Shouldn’t you be there with him, Neville, and Henry, and your parents, and…”

Emma reached forward and brushed a tear away as it rolled down Regina’s cheek. “Hey.” Regina didn’t look up, “Please look at me?” Regina looked up. “You know what they say about assumptions, right?”

Regina frowned, “Mis…”

Emma cut Regina off, “Please don’t do that Regina. Don’t cut yourself off from us, from everyone, again. And, to answer my riddle, when you assume you make an ass out of you and me.” Emma smiled to herself.

Regina sighed, “I’m glad my pain amuses you… Emma.”

Emma sat down in front of Regina and shook her head, “No. I’m sorry, that’s just… that’s how one of my teachers taught me how to spell the word. I was trying to lighten the mood, very badly apparently.”

Emma stood and held a hand out towards Regina, “C’mon, let’s get up, we have perfectly good seating choices in this office. Even a couch.”

Regina stared at the hand, then stood by herself. Emma just shook her head and turned towards the couch, making sure Regina didn’t see her grin.

Emma sat against one arm of the couch and turned halfway so she was facing Regina. The former Mayor sat at the other end of the couch and seemed like a ghost of herself. “Please Regina, what’s wrong?”

Regina shook her head, “I’m okay. I’ll be okay. This, this is my life. It’s what I deserve, all I deserve. I understand that now. Please. Be happy. If you’re happy that… that helps a little I think.”

Emma stared at Regina for a long moment. She stood and Regina seemed to retreat just a bit more into the couch. But Emma didn’t walk away, she walked towards Regina and knelt down in front of her. “You’re a fucking idiot.” Emma slipped her hand in one of Regina’s and brought it up to her lips, kissing the palm and then the back of it. “I love you Regina Mills. I am ...in love with you Regina ‘pain in my ass’ Mills.”

“Yes, but…”

Emma cut Regina off, “No Regina. No buts, well, there might be ...butts… but no buts. These past four years. We started off badly, but every day I got to know you more, every day I found myself falling more and more in love with you. Neal… he was who I needed back then. He’s the father of Neville, and, yes, he’ll be forever in my life. Is he my true love. I don’t know, honestly, I don’t care Regina. We--” She put her other hand over Regina’s, “We’ve saved the world together more than once Regina. We, my nature, your nurture, well, with a little of my nurture last year, together we created Henry Swan Mills. We found Neville together. We can do anyth…” Emma trailed off and sat back on her heels for just a moment.

Emma frowned for a second, silent, and then the frown turned to simply a serious look, “Is this a spell?”

Regina frowned, “Excuse me?”

“Is it?”

Regina tried to pull her hand away, but Emma didn’t let go, “No. Of course not.”

“I just had to…” Emma paused, then smiled, “Okay, that was the wrong way to start what I wanted to say, but, I wanted to hear you deny it, because well… I mean.”

“Emma.”

Emma blew out a breath, met Regina’s gaze and held it. “Okay. I like you in your suits, or ya know, out of them. I love your son, and our son, and I hope that we’ll both be there to love Neville the same way, and maybe other kids too, or not, up to you. I don’t know what I would do without you in my life. There would be something missing, and, so… Regina will you marry me?” Regina was silent for so long that Emma started to stand back up. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have…”

Regina didn’t let go of Emma’s hand, and rearranged herself on the couch. She pulled Emma up so that they sat facing each other. “No…”

“Regina I’m a big girl.”

“Miss Swan, please be silent for more than one word?”

Emma’s lips thinned into a line. “Okay.”

“Before…” Regina waved her hand at her office, “All that has happened. Before we went on our journey, before… while you were saying goodbye to Little Neal and your mother. I asked… well, I told your father that I was planning on asking you to marry me.”

“Oh.”

“I live in the past Emma. I’m not sure…”

Emma put a hand to Regina’s face and kissed her. “I love you. All of you, even the parts that did such horrible things, because right now, when it counts, right now you’re here. My ex came back from the dead, and you’re here.”

“Not spitting them on my castle walls?”

Emma smiled, “Something like that. I know you’re not perfect Regina, and neither am I.”

Regina gave Emma’s hand a squeeze, “I need to get up for a second.” Emma looked down and realized that they were nearly in each others laps.

“Ah… sorry…” Emma moved her legs aside to let Regina get up.

Regina went to her desk, opened one of the drawers and took something out. She came back and sat with perfect posture next to Emma. She handed Emma the box. “No knees, and my answer to your question is yes.” Regina paused, “But… would you do something for me?”

Emma opened the box and gasped. “Regina, it’s beautiful.” She took it out of where it rested. It was a celtic knot band with four red garnet accent stones around the ring. She looked up, “I don’t… I didn’t…” Emma frowned, “What do you need me to do Regina?”

“Just us. I would very much like the ceremony to be outside, and… only family. With who I am, and what most of the town thinks of me...”

Emma raised an eyebrow, “Of course Regina. Family. But, I think we might have to specify what exactly family means.”

Chapter Text

~About 8 Years Later

“You look gorgeous Mei.”

Mei rolled her eyes, “Thank you Aurora… I just…”

Aurora adjusted a bow on Mei’s dress, “It will be okay. You love him?” Mei nodded. “Then everything will be perfect no matter what happens.”

Mulan came up behind Aurora and put her arms around Aurora, “Even if it all goes crazy. I know that I’m still stunned that you’re marrying him. I was sure that it was going to be Nerida up there little one.”

“Mom…”

Aurora gave Mulan a gentle shove in the gut, “That’s not funny.”

Mei defended her mother, “No, no, it’d be hilarious if I was pretty sure that I was going to throw up.”

A head poked into the room. It was Regina, “Do you need more time Mei?”

Mei blew out a breath, “No. No. No, I’m good. I’m ready.”

Regina smiled, “You look beautiful. I’ll go tell the groom that he needs to get his butt to the altar.”

oOOOOo

“Is this… is it okay?”

Emma ruffled her son’s blond hair, then put a hand on his shoulder, “Your grandmother and grandfather were the King and Queen of all the Enchanted Forest at one point, and now…”

The young man rolled his eyes, “My Moms are the Queens of the almost all of the Enchanted Forest now, I know, I know-- I just-- I know my bride would be okay with something small in the forest… or… anywhere.”

Emma regarded her son. He dwarfed her in height and she wasn’t short by any means. Although they both had the same hair color, eye color and the same runner’s build. “And you?”

He cleared his throat and straightened his belt, the sword at his side moving as he did. “I have to agree with my brother, with Henry. I can see that this wedding is making Mom so happy, and…” He smiled, “...I see the look on your face Mom. I want it too. It feels right.”

Emma put an arm around his shoulders again. Then turned him so they were facing one another. Emma adjusted her son’s bow tie. “I am so proud of you. So, so proud. Okay, okay, so… we’d better get out there.”

The young man frowned, “Is Mom going to…”

Regina appeared at the door, “The bride is ready.” She came in and brushed her hand over his hair, straightening the tie that Emma had just straightened, and actually getting it straightened correctly. “You don’t have to…”

The young man smiled, “Mom, I love her-- the whole… uniting the two biggest kingdoms in the Enchanted Forest. That’s secondary to both of us. Not to mention that she may be the heir to her kingdom, but Henry’s yours.” He shook his head and kissed Regina’s cheek. “But thank you for caring so much Mom. Moms.” He hugged her tightly. Emma joined it, putting her arms around both her son and wife.

Finally the young man pulled away, “May I have a moment alone?”

Regina threaded her arm through Emma’s, “Of course.”

As they got out into the hallway Emma frowned, “You know they love each other Regina. Why would you ask him that?”

“I had to be sure Em.”

Emma sighed, “My mother-- Snow, she put that thought in your head again. You’d think she’d have enough on her mind being Mayor of Storybrooke--”

A small twinkle came to Regina’s eyes, “Running for re-election too.” She paused, “And to be fair to your mother, I think that my mother put the idea in Snow’s head.”

Emma sighed, “Mothers… but, no more talk of them, this is our son’s day.” Emma stopped just before they got to the entrance to the filled to the brim sanctuary. “In equally good news, I think that Grace is pregnant.”

“Really?”

Emma shook her head at Regina’s tone of voice, “Seriously, you knew?”

Regina nodded, “I could feel it. That’s not how you knew too?”

Emma smirked, “Ah, no, I stopped by the Bride’s room before going to our son’s, and well… I could hear Grace retching in the bathroom.” Emma moved behind Regina and wrapped her arms around Regina’s waist, resting her chin on Regina’s shoulder. “I guess our family’s gonna get bigger soon.”

Regina leaned back into Emma, “Are you ready to be a grandmother?”

Emma laughed, “We still have toddlers in the castle Regina. But-- yeah, you?”

“Not remotely, but, then again, I wasn’t in any way ready for Henry either. And look how that turned out right?”

Emma sighed contently, “I’ve always heard, every ending is also a beginning. We just don’t know it at the time. I’d like to believe that’s true.”

“Who said that?”

Emma smirked to herself, “I don't know. I heard it somewhere.”

Regina turned her head, “Oh…”

“On TV.”

Regina chuckled, “Emma.”

“Regina.”

“Never change love.”

Emma gave kissed Regina, “You got it.”