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Honestly, she’s probably dreaming – or hallucinating, or has just gone full-on psycho.  Because the only other way to explain this is some kind of crazy parallel-dimension, magical-world bullcrap, and Emma knows better than to let herself believe anything like that.

But at the same time, if this is real then playing along can only help, and if it’s a dream it won’t hurt. And although in her own world she knows better than to trust anyone, here – here, she saw a fairy flying around, and no one knows what a phone is and they’re saying this little harbor town is just out of the “Enchanted Forest” and to stay away from the woods because there are wild griffons there.

Emma is practical enough to recognize when she’s out of her depths.

And she knows better, she does, but this guy – he’s got the most ridiculous hat and a freaking ponytail, but his uniform is spotless and his eyes so blue, soft and concerned. He’s got an accent, his hands are warm on hers, he’s calling her miss for god’s sake, and he believes her instantly when she blurts out that she isn’t from here, she doesn’t belong, she wants to go home.

“I – I have a ship,” he offers, so hesitant and earnest ever since he stumbled upon her crying in an alleyway, and Emma wants to yell at him to just stop already, she doesn’t need his concern, doesn’t need anyone, just go away – “Well, my brother’s ship but – I’m sure he’d… I mean. We can help you get home, just tell me where you need to go.”

“It’s not that simple,” Emma says, shakes her head and sniffs and tries to get herself together goddamnit, this is just a dream and she refuses to let some stupid dream about being even more lost and alone than she usually is get the best of her. “I’m – I’m not from this world.”

But he just smiles, just – smiles and grips her hands harder, squeezing tight and warm and here. “Please, miss. Let me help – I promise I will get you home.”

It isn’t real, it isn’t even real at all and Emma knows better than to trust anyone. Everyone she’s ever trusted has left her and hurt her and there’s just no point to it, no point to relying on anyone but herself. Her wits and quick fingers have gotten her out of every scrape she’s ever been in, she can do this too, she can.

But he’s staring at her, looking so stiff and straight-laced and worried about this dirty little thief of a girl crying in an alley. He’s obviously got some kind of duties to follow with a uniform like that but he still promised and he meant it, he hasn’t lied once, and – fucking griffons.

Honestly, she’s probably dreaming. This is like something out of a storybook – a book with magic and ships and handsome men with accents and uniforms who mean every word, a book with people who aren’t like those in the real world, people who don’t actually want anything more, who only want to help, legitimately just want to help. The thought is like a punch to the gut, it hurts because a storybook world or a dream is the only place with people like that, heroes. Or at least, it’s the only place a hero would ever bother with someone like Emma.

This isn’t real. And… if it isn’t real… maybe, for once, it won’t hurt to trust in someone else, to rely on someone else. Just for a little while. Just while there’s still magic and her stomach is empty and people use donkeys instead of cars. Just while this sailor keeps looking at her, so soft and gentle and just decent

and this is not real, it can’t hurt her, he can’t ever hurt her and she’s so damn tired of solving everything by herself, just for this once

“Okay,” Emma whispers, and lets him pull her to her feet. “Okay, I – help me. Help me go home.”

His bow is low and smooth and fit for any Victorian movie, gallantry practiced to perfection.

His smile’s a blinding thing, wide and hitched a bit at the end, and heroes exist in storybooks, handsome loving kind men are real in a world like this, she can trust him, she can trust him.

“I swear we will do this,” he says, and for the first time in her life Emma is not alone.