Disclosure: Once Upon A Time owned by ABC. Not me.
Pre Edit Count – 3,681 Words
Song I listened to for this chapter: Your Guardian Angel by The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus.
Realizing that they are taking her away to be locked up again, her fight suddenly returns and she starts struggling with the hands holding her. She soon finds however that they have her overwhelmed. Before she knows it, she is thrown through a door hard enough to make her grunt but moments later, a guard throws Snow in the Pit as well. Emma runs to her side, pleading, “Be careful! Oh!!! Be careful!”, as she crouches beside her mother. She pleads with the unconscious Mary Margaret, “Hey, come on. Wake up!”
Falling to her knees she shakes her again, “Can you hear me?”
Suddenly, a voice comes out the darkness, “Do you need help?”
Quickly looking up, Emma can barely make out the figure of a woman, but she can see the red of her hair glinting in the faint light.
Emma leans back protectively; ready to jump to her feet as she asks, “Who are you?”
The woman’s voice comes back to her and replies, “A friend.”
As she walks forward, Emma can see it’s an older woman and begins to relax slightly. All the tension rushes back into her stance as the woman looks her over and introduces herself.
“My name is Cora”
Her mind a whirl, Emma backs off slightly and remembers what Killian told her in her dream. Cora! He had specifically warned her about a woman named Cora, but Emma was so sure what she had dreamed was nothing but a really vivid dream. If Cora is real, what does that say for the rest of the dream? With years of practice on her side, Emma doesn’t allow anything of what she is feeling to reflect on her face. Remembering the warning, Emma’s mind is ablaze, coming up with the best strategy to avoid tipping her hand and to not allow her to suspect a thing. She is still not entirely convinced her dream was anything more than just that, but for now, she will heed Killian’s warning. With her mind quickly running through available options, she winces mentally when her mind lands on the best one. She is going to have to play the idiotic blonde. This is a strategy she has used before, allowing her looks to convince others she is nothing but a ditz and has no brain. She hates it but she can’t deny that it gives her an advantage when people underestimate her.
Besides, she really can’t be certain that Killian was more than just a dream. For all she knew he could be a part of the magic of this place, warning her about Cora rather than a specific person. Maybe this Killian is simply the Enchanted Forest, reaching out to her, the Savior, as the only one who can help restore it. Emma had to admit to herself however that the pull in her chest she has felt all her life, while still there, is lessening just a little each minute she is here, perhaps due to this Killian drawing nearer as promised.
Quickly making a decision, Emma realizes she will have to reveal Henry to Cora and hopes to everything above that Killian was being truthful when he said that he would help defend their son. HER son, she mentally corrects. She hopes that Snow and Cora both buy the idiot act she is about to play.… ‘part truth, part lie, makes the best con’, She reminds herself.
Looking down at her mother, Emma asks Cora, “You sure she’s gonna be okay?”
Cora is crouched beside Snow, checking the back of her head and looks up at the blonde in front of her. She smiles as she looks down at her granddaughter in law, “Don’t worry. She’ll be fine.” She stands slowly, wondering who the young lady in front of her is, and what her connection is to Snow. Cora wraps her cloak around her, her mind also working quickly, making and dismissing plans, and knows it all depends on how Snow reacts to the blonde.
Until Cora can determine her next best course of action, she will be her normal self and will try to gain all the information she can on this woman, anything and everything that will help her reach her final goal – her daughter, Regina.
Emma looks up at the opening and wonders out loud, “What is this place? Where are we?”
Cora answers her carefully, “It’s a little island our captors like to think of as their haven.”
Emma looks off to the side getting herself together, remembering the one plea that Killian had made of her, ‘Don’t let her know about us! It is crucial!’. At that same moment, as she glances to her side, she sees a slight twinkle in the air…
Wishing to draw Cora’s attention away from whatever it is, Emma swings around with her one hand behind her back to shoo away whatever it is, pretending it is a bug. As she does do she says to Cora, “Haven? From what?”
Cora tells her solemnly, “The world is dangerous, what’s left of it, anyway.” She uses the same tone of voice she had used so effectively on Regina and later Snow herself. Why fool with something that works?
Emma hides the shudder she feels from Cora’s tone of voice. Something inside of her is warning her about this woman. Something about her isn’t quite right. She looks away and comments, “Well, they can’t keep us down here.” She looks up and meets Cora’s eyes as she tells her, “We didn’t do anything wrong.”
Cora answers her frankly, “Neither did I.” Her look of innocence is perfect, as it should be after many years of perfecting it.
Giving her a sympathetic glance that was as fake as Cora’s innocent one, Emma commiserates with her and asks, “Then why are you here?” ‘Besides whatever Killian has said…’
Looking off to the side, Cora has no idea that she is giving away much more than intended to the former con-artist. “I am here for something my daughter did.”
Watching every nuance, Emma wonders if she would have fallen for Cora’s lies if Killian hadn’t warned her. She would like to think that she would not have but she cannot be certain. Thankful for Killian’s warning which is now at the forefront of her mind, Emma can see the thousand little tells that give Cora away as she tries to gain Emma’s sympathy. “The curse that ravaged this land –“ Cora takes a deep breath, as though she is admitting something painful, “My daughter cast it.”
The shock that crossed Emma’s face was very real as she blurts out, “Regina! You’re Regina’s mother?” ‘The apple didn’t fall far the tree.’
Taking a deep breath, Cora admits, “Yes, but you’ve nothing to fear from me.” ‘Until I find out otherwise of course.’
Emma’s body demands that she move, and she gives in to the urge, figuring it would help illustrate how naïve she really is; as though she is trying to figure Cora out..
Looking down like she is repentant, Cora says in a hollow voice, “The Apple fell very far from the tree.”
Two voices, one in each of their heads goes, ‘Humph!’ Tink is trying not to laugh, just watching to make sure Cora isn’t doing anything to her human.
Emma can’t quite help the eye roll, but she looks off when Cora asks, “You’re from over there, aren’t you?” She is trying to figure out how much truth to mix in with the lies, wishing Snow was awake to help her out.
Cora asks the question that is burning the most, the one that she must have an answer to as she smiles and shrugs, “How’d you get back?”
Like an answer from heaven, Emma hears Snow’s voice saying her name, “Emma.”
Turning around to face Snow as she rises, Snow is holding the back of her head and whispers with dread on her face, “No.”
Cora smiles and acts like there is no reason for Snow to be upset, speaking to her kindly, “Oh, Snow. You’re awake. I’m so relieved.”
Snow just stares at Cora for a moment, fear briefly seizing her heart, then moves in front of Emma, grabs her hands and stares into eyes to make her point. “As bad as you think Regina is, this woman is worse.” Snow’s voice is low and penetrating.
Emma goes to take a breath, hating herself, but needs to keep up the ruse so that Cora doesn’t realize who she is or anything about her, just as Killian had made her promise. She realizes in that second that she is trusting the word of a self-professed Pirate Captain; that what he asked of her is taking precedence, even above Snow, her friend and mother.
Snow didn’t catch the shock that crossed Emma’s face as she is too busy rolling her eyes and turning to face Cora as Cora comments, “Oh, Snow.”
Putting her arm in front of Emma, instinctively protecting her daughter, Snow faces down the woman who had helped make her life a literal hell and ripped her away from Emma when she was just a baby. There is no way she will ever fall for her tricks now.
Emma thinks it through and decides to continue with the plan she originally decided upon. She can use the way Snow is acting to her advantage however the only thing making her hesitant is how hurt Snow may be in the end. Her mother is one half of a True Love pair though and hopes she can understand one day that for now, Emma will allow this Killian to guide her until she can prove him wrong.
Cora watches how Snow interacts with the blonde, but still tries to sway her to Cora’s side. It worked once many years ago; what is the harm in trying once again? Maybe Snow will overreact, causing Emma to fall under her influence more…. with the plan in place, Cora says sweetly, “Sweet Snow, Please.”
She looks her into Snow’s eyes as she pleads, “Believe me. Whatever she told you isn’t true. I just want to help you.”
Biting the tip of her tongue, Emma can feel her quirk telling her that this woman is lying through her teeth, yet nothing shows on her face. This woman is well-practiced at what she does. Emma encourages Snow, by whispering in her ear, “Let’s hear her out.”
Snow shoots her down with a hard, loud, “Emma.”
Emma moves closer and states to Snow, “Okay, right now we are at the bottom of a hole, with no other options and Henry is back in Storybrooke with Regina.” And there is the risk. Her soul is screaming at her heart to be right, that Killian is real, but her head is screaming at her that she is wrong. Things like True Love just didn’t exist. Yes, this Killian appeared to be everything that Emma had ever wanted, but many difficult years had taught Emma that if something was too good to be true, it usually was. The words were out, however, so there was no going back. She just needed to play the hand she had dealt.
Cora is shocked. Henry? That was the name of her husband? Is he still alive and what would this woman have to do with him? “Who’s Henry?”
Emma looks down and tells Cora, “My son. I kind of share him with Regina.” ‘Please forgive me!’ She cries out with her soul and feels a light caress, so light that she dismisses it almost as soon as she registers it. Distracted by Snow’s shaking head, she continues, “It’s complicated.”
Snow turns on her and grabs her by her upper arms, shaking her as she tells Emma, “Don’t talk to her.”
Suddenly, a man’s voice booms down from above, causing all three women to look up as he yells, “Enough!”
A rope drops down in front of them and Emma wonders why they can’t just go out the door they had been brought in by, when the man tells them, “Our Leader requests an audience.” They look at each other and Snow waves for her to go up the rope first, not wanting to leave Emma alone with Cora any longer than was necessary.
Once they had both made their way up the rope and were being led through the camp, Snow asks her, “Why can’t you just listen to me?”
Still turning things over in her mind, Emma replies back, “Why couldn’t you have trusted me? I was just trying to find a way to get us home. I could’ve handled her.” By this point Emma has her arms crossed and feels a little bit offended. She understands that Snow just remembered who she was, but she had been alone and fending for herself for the first 28 years of her life. Emma was all grown up and had learned how to take care of herself a long time ago.
Again, she feels a light caress, just the whisper of something against her cheek, but explains it away as simply being a breeze.
Snow, who is walking slightly in front of Emma, looks back at her in astonishment.
“Cora? Don’t be so sure.” She looks back to Emma and tries to reason with her. “I’ve lived here, Emma.” When Emma looks up at her, Snow tells her, “I know this world and its dangers.”
Before she can do anything more to convince Emma, the man who had thrown down the rope to them walks forward and says, “Wait here.”
Emma on the other hand, is feeling belittled. She halts with the rest, then takes a deep breath. She turns to Snow and questions her, “Is that why you came through the Portal?” She gives her a flat stare as she continues, “Because you thought I was helpless here?”
Snow looks at her, a little lost, as she answers her with one word, “No.” Then she takes a step towards her daughter as she tells her, “I came through to be with you.”
She stares at Emma for a couple of seconds before her attention is taken by the tall dark-skinned man descending the stairs and she asks amazed, “Lancelot?”
Emma doesn’t want to turn around, doesn’t want to see anything. She is still upset by the realization that Snow came through after her because she trust Emma to be able to survive alone in this world, or worse yet, she didn’t trust Emma in this world.
However the question and amazement in the deep voice behind her as they call her mother’s name, “Snow?”, has Emma turning reluctantly around just in time to watch her mother run past her into a tall, armored, dark-skinned man’s arms. She watches as they both laugh with joy at seeing each other.
Snow and Lancelot look at each other in amazement and Snow can’t seem to stop saying, “Oh!”
Emma catches Lancelot’s eyes briefly as she shifts and rests her hands behind her back as he tells Snow, “If I’d have known that you were the prisoners Mulan had brought back, I never would’ve locked you away.”
Emma is still distrustful of the man before them, but after the remarks her mother had just given her, she kept her mouth shut. She didn’t like how Snow didn’t seem to trust Emma at all, yet seemed perfectly happy to trust a man she had not seen in 28 years. Snow knew Emma when she had no idea of who she truly was to her and never treated her like this, so why now?
Lancelot, pleads with Snow, “Please forgive me?”
Snow cups the back of his head as she grins excitedly up at him, “Of course.”
Unable to keep her thoughts to herself any longer, Emma questions, “Lancelot? Really?”
The two look at her, Snow with a smile on her face, Lancelot with a glance…
Snow looks back into her friend’s eyes as she answers Emma, “He’s an old friend.” Then in answer of the unspoken question she tells her, “We can trust him.”
Emma looks up at Lancelot and sees her own distrust being reflected back. At the same time though, she feels as though something is telling her everything will be ok. Sighing, she looks back as Snow introduces her. “This is Emma.”
Deciding to make the first move, Emma extends her hand to him and he shakes it as she tells him, “Nice to meet you.”
Tinkerbelle is watching over her human some distance away, but close enough to ensure she will come to no harm. She is doing what she can, but was alarmed when Emma mentioned Henry so easily in front of Cora. She felt as Killian did however, trusting her instincts and had smiled when Killian had sent reassurance to his Love.
Tink’s attention is captured by the two that she had instinctively stayed near in case they posed any threat to her human…and it is beginning to look like a good thing as she hears Princess Aurora demand of Mulan, anger clear in her voice, “Why is he embracing her?”
Tink shakes her head, thinking that Aurora is in desperate need of a wake-up call. Snow is a Queen which makes Emma a Princess and therefore of equal status to Aurora. Times have greatly changed however in the time that Aurora slept and status does not mean as much as it once did. In this new world ravaged by the curse, all are equal in their desire to survive and rebuild. She turns her attention back to the pair below, making sure she is privy to their plans.
Aurora is shaking as she continues her questioning of Mulan, “They were responsible for Phillip’s death.”
Mulan glances at her as Aurora draws herself up. Mulan just tells her, “You’re new here, Aurora.” Mulan nods her head towards the threesome, as she informs her, “Phillip trusted Lancelot. So must we.”
Tink notices that Aurora demands of Mulan, “I want justice.” Does she not know who Mulan really is?
Noticing the same thing, and getting irate, Mulan cautions her, “Tread carefully. It’s dangerous to confuse vengeance with justice.” When Aurora dismisses her, Mulan probes her, “Do you understand me?”
When Aurora continues to throw her petty fit, Mulan moves in front of her where she can’t help but look at her and asks again, “Do you understand me?”
Glancing down, Aurora finally answers, “Yes.”
With that, Mulan walks away. However Tink remains where she is to keep watch on the spoiled princess. The look of pure loathing that passes over Auroras face as she gazes toward the trio has Tink concerned and that concern is soon warranted when the Princess reaches beneath her cloak and draws a dagger, throwing another look of hatred toward the group.
Tink sighs. Another one to watch out for. When is Killian going to be here? With the speed his beloved is gaining enemies, he will find himself kept busy for quite some time. But then, it might do him some good to be the one worrying for once….
Soon the group seats themselves for a meal and a plate of very unappetizing meat is tossed on the table. Emma asks, “What is that?”
Snow glances at her as Lancelot answers, “That is chimera. An acquired taste, but all our hunting party could bring back.” Lancelot comes up behind them and Emma watches Snow as she turns to her. He continues to his seat at the head of the table and Emma glances at him then back at the meat. She then hears him continue, “One part lion, one part serpent, one part goat.”
Emma stabs a piece as she asks, “Like Turducken?” She makes a face at the piece she picks up, deciding it has nothing on turducken. She carefully puts the piece back down and makes the conscious decision to become a vegetarian for as long as it takes to be able to recognize the meat she is served…
Snow states to Lancelot, “We were told this land didn’t even exist anymore.”
Emma keeps her face free of emotion as she remembers the story Killian told her in her dream, the brief history of what had happened, but with no way of being able to explain how she knew the story without revealing Killian and her dreams, she keeps her mouth shut, plays dumb, and concentrates on the food in front of her.
Snow continues, “How did you all escape the curse?”
Watching Emma pick through the food, slight amusement flickering across his face, Lancelot turns his attention back to Snow and answers, “It is a mystery. The curse struck, and when the smoke cleared, most of us had been torn from this land.”
Sticking to her veggie resolution, Emma stabs something that looks like an overgrown green onion, or perhaps a leak? Deciding to figure it out later, she grabs a bunch of mini purple grapes and listens to the conversation.
“But some of us here, in this particular region, were left behind.” Lancelot shakes his head as he continues, “We don’t know how and we don’t know why.” He meets both of their eyes and resumes the tale, “Finding this safe haven wasn’t easy. It took some spilled blood. But worry not. You’re safe here.”
Emma hides her expression behind a cup as she takes a sip to cover the emotions that threaten to make themselves known on her face. According to Killian, they were not safe here and he is on his way due to these dangers. Cora is here! Emma internally shakes herself. At exactly which point today did she stop thinking of Killian as a figment of her imagination, or a product of the magic here, and begin thinking of him as a real person?! She was confused enough with everything going on in her life without throwing him in the mix! There was no denying however that even the mere thought of him seemed to bring a sense of calm to her tangled emotions, and her instincts demanded that she trust herself…and him.
Turning her attention back to the people in front of her, she hears Snow say to him, “We can’t stay.” She gently explains to her old friend, “My husband’s back there, Emma’s son, my grandson—we have to get back to them.” She meets Emma’s eyes when she mentions Henry.
Once again biting her tongue, Emma can’t chastise Snow for mentioning Henry since she mentioned him first in the pit, but she has such a bad feeling that telling Lancelot anything was the very worst thing to do. She just had no idea why!
She just looks back at Snow as she finishes asking Lancelot. “Can you help us find a portal?”
Looking for a way to tell her no without saying it outright, he says, “Leaving is unwise. The Enchanted Forest is not as you remember it.” He pauses then tells her solemnly, “The Ogres have returned.”
Not able to keep her mouth shut, Emma exclaims, “Ogres?” Killian didn’t mention ogres earlier. Are they such a big deal? ”Like as in Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum?”
Snow smiles as she grabs Emma’s hand and gently corrects her, “Those would be giants.”
Emma can’t help but look at her with an expression of ‘oh yeah, such a huge difference’.
Lancelot interrupts them and says, “Ogres are far worse.” Once he has both their attentions again, he continues, “That’s why we live here, on this island, where it’s safe.”
Snow is nodding her head, seemingly in agreement, yet can’t help the brief glances around, as though hoping a portal would just magically appear within the camp.
Lancelot beseeches her, “Please Snow, stay here. There are no more portals left.”
Snow relaxes, places her hands on the table and admits to them, “I might know of one.”
Emma’s attention is stolen back to her mother and she has a sharp jolt of hope. She asks, “You do?”
Lancelot also seems to suddenly become very interested and asks with urgency, “Where?”
Looking around and then waving her hand, Snow admits, “Cora’s near. I don’t feel comfortable voicing my plans.” She shakes her head and misses Lancelot lick his lips in anticipation. “She’s powerful.”
Hurrying to tell her, “Not anymore”, Lancelot seems eager to convince Snow, continuing with his next words, “The curse stripped her of her powers. But given her reputation, we’ve kept her locked up as a precaution.”
Nodding her head at the truthfulness of this statement, she expresses her concern, “Nevertheless, I’m not taking chances.”
While Snow and Lancelot talk, Emma allows herself to blend into the background, taking bites of food in an attempt to keep herself from talking. She is used to keeping her own intents and thoughts to herself, but too much of this conversation felt off to her. Snaking a glance at Lancelot, he felt off to her. She was relieved that so far Snow also seemed to be somewhat cautious, wondering if perhaps her quirk was a family trait. Something about Lancelot made Emma believe he was lying during much of the conversation, and even when not speaking, and she was unsure why or how her talent would be telling her that.
Snow looks back up to Lancelot and reveals to him, “Just trust me. I may have a way.” She then puts forth her plea, “Let us go.”
Emma turns from her to Lancelot to see his reaction.
Turning the options over in his mine, Lancelot decides, “I’ll allow it, but on one condition…” He signals Mulan to come over as he divulges, “Take my bravest warrior with you.” As she walks up, Lancelot continues, “Allow Mulan to defend you.”
With that statement, Emma get’s her back up as she retorts, “We can defend ourselves.”
Snow interrupts her, telling Lancelot, “Deal.”
Snow ignores Emma as the latter whips her head around to look at her with a glare of protest and continues, “Thank you Lancelot, for always looking out for me.”
Final count, words: 4,390
Fairfarren~Wendy & Sharon