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A Different Kind Of Fairytale

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David had just turned seven years old when his father had told him at the dinner table that he was marrying a woman named Cora. David didn’t remember much about his mother, only that she was kind-hearted and had taught him to always do the right thing and follow his heart, no matter what the universe might throw at him.

David hadn’t liked the woman named Cora, he had overheard some of the kitchen-workers whispering about how all she wanted was to become queen and didn’t care about his father. This didn’t concern David at the time, since he didn’t care a lot for his father himself.

When Cora first arrived at the castle, there was a young girl, only a couple of years older than David, walking beside her. At first, David didn’t like her very much either. His father crouched down in front of her and offered her a smile and told her he was so excited for them to be a family, something David never could have imagine his father doing for him.

When they were formally introduced, David told her he didn’t want her there. The young girl girl, Regina, had pushed him to the ground. David had spent the rest of his day sulking in his room after his father had yelled at him. It wasn’t until he had peeked through the window after hearing someone crying, and noticed Cora reprehending Regina in a much harsher way, that David figured the girl might just have been scared.

The week of the wedding between Cora and King George, Prince Phillip and his family had come to visit and take part in the celebrations. David and Phillip had gotten into a stupid fight and Phillip had managed to knock him to the ground. Later, during dinner, Regina had discreetly tripped him so he fell into the dessert table. David had looked a little startled at Regina, who had only smiled at him. Realizing that Regina had taken the chance of her mother finding out what she had done, only to protect David, made David realize that siblings were supposed to look out for each other.

Ten years later, David still stood by that as he sat down next to Regina in the stables. When she realized he was there, she quickly wiped away her tears and turned her head.

“Shouldn’t you be training with the knights?” She asked a little sternly, if there was one thing David had learned it was that Regina hated anyone seeing her vulnerable.

“You can’t let what Cora says, get to you.” David said “You are more than good enough.”

She scoffed “I never will be, not to her.”

“Well, you are to me.” David said “And when I am king, she can eat her words.”

Regina smiled at him then, and leaned over and kissed his cheek before standing up “I should go, mother wants to speak to me before dinner and you really need to get to practice.”

“Yes, you’re probably right.” David said “Let’s go for a ride tonight, okay?”

Regina nodded “I’d like that.” She said, as David got up from his seat and was about to leave, Regina grabbed his arm. “Oh, and David.” She said “Please try to be nice to princess Abigail and prince Arthur, they are our guests.”

“They are so pompous, thinking they are better than you.” David said on a groan.

“Technically they are better than me.” Regina said “Status-wise.”

David patted her shoulder “They wish.” He said “And what’s with that old goat hanging around here?”

“David!” Regina said and hit him in the arm, he wasn’t going to confess that it actually hurt “King Leopold is a friend of my mother’s and also our guest and we should act polite… Even if he is an old goat.”

David laughed “I’ll see you tonight.”

“Have fun at practice; try not to knock them around too much.” She said.

“Where’s the fun in that?”

David hadn’t seen Regina the rest of the day, and was wondering if Cora had given her some bad news. She usually came around to watch practice with the knights when she didn’t have any classes. He still had a grin of victory from sparring with Graham when his father summoned him to The Great Hall.

“Hello, father.” He greeted when he saw the king’s stern face. He often wondered if it was the only facial expression his father had.

“Son.” He answered as David went to stand next to his father who seemed to be in deep conversation with king Midas, the father of Arthur and Abigail.

“Your majesty.” David said and gave a small bow to the other king. There were so many kingdoms and royalties in the enchanted forest that he sometimes got confused as to who ruled where, and who was alliances with who. Regina often said that he should spend less time goofing around with the knights and more time studying maps and politics. No matter what his father told him, there was no way he was going to rule this kingdom without Regina by his side.

“Let’s get down to his then, shall we?” His father asked and David looked at him in confusion, had he missed something?

“Forgive me, but was there something I should have prepared for, father?” he asked, raising his eyebrows and looked from his father to king Midas.

Before any of them could answer, Princess Abigail entered the room alongside her brother and both of them had a very serious expression on their face.

As Arthur gave a low bow to everyone in the room before standing a few feet away, Abigail went to stand by her father.

“Prince David.” King Midas said “I offer you my daughter’s hand in marriage.”

The rest of that encounter was like a blur of wedding plans and promises of alliances. David’s head was still spinning when he practically ran through the castle on his way to Regina’s chamber. When he burst through the doors without knocking, he was about to break the news when he noticed Regina looked just as distraught as he was.

“So, when is your wedding date?” She asked and David let out a deep breath, oh, so that was how it was. “How could they do this?”

“No warning, no nothing.” David said as he slumped down on the edge of Regina’s bed, she quickly followed to sit down next to him. “Wait, I thought Prince Arthur was already married.”

“He is.” Regina answered, her voice on the edge of breaking, but as usual she tried to stay strong for her little brother.

“Oh, god.” David said once he caught up and scooted closer to his sister “The goat?”

Regina nodded “Lucky me.” She said on a breath before turning to face her brother “So answer my question.”

“What question?”

“Your date.” Regina said.

“Oh.” David said, trying to remember what Midas and his father had talked about while Abigail had just looked at him, if looks could kill. “I have to turn eighteen first.”

Regina scoffed “That should give you enough time to find that mystery pirate you keep dreaming about.”

David groaned and laid down on the bed, Regina quickly followed. He never should have thought Regina about his very realistic dreams about a pirate breaking into the castle and taking him away on his ship. Regina had teased him for days, even though David had sworn it was just his wish to get away from this place. The weight of becoming a king someday, often crushed him, and the thought of the upcoming marriage didn’t help.

“At least I’m not marrying a goat.” David said and Regina slapped him across his chest.

“You’re getting married soon then?” David asked and Regina sighed again, and since David knew her so well he gave her the pillow behind his head and she pushed it over her face and screamed. “That would be a yes, wouldn’t it?”

“Three weeks.”

“Wow.” David said “Wait, does this mean you’ll be leaving?”

Regina didn’t answer, just turned her head and letting her expression speak for herself. Getting married to someone who clearly didn’t want him, and that he wasn’t in love with was terrible. Losing Regina to another kingdom would be intolerable.

“Hopefully Cora will stay here.” Regina said “Now that she’s accomplished what she wanted with me.”

David wanted to be supportive and tell Regina she was wrong and her mother loved him, but since they were both in the same boat, he decided to just take Regina’s hand in his and squeezed it. “If it’s any consolation, you are going to be a wonderful queen.”

“I know.” Regina said “But what on earth are you going to do without me?”

David knew she was teasing, but that didn’t mean that she wasn’t right.

Chapter Text

The only thing Regina hated more than greeting everyone at the stupid engagement ball was keeping a straight face and smiling the entire time. After getting another way too wet kiss on her hand from an old relative of the king, and a sympathetic look from Prince Phillip, she decided to excuse herself to go fetch a more comfortable pair of shoes.

David offered her a comforting smile as she left the room; her brother had been trying to get the Princess Abigail to warm up to him all night with no luck. Regina, who often was a bit more insightful than David, could tell there was something more to that story, but she really wasn’t in the mood to play matchmaker at the moment.

Her curled hair felt too big and her blue dress was too stuffy, and all she wanted to do was dig a hole in the ground and die there. It was a ridiculous thought, she knew. There were people in the villages sending their boys out in war, mothers who could barely make ends meet to feed their families, and she was complaining about being queen.

This just wasn’t the life she had imagines for herself.

She was grateful that no one had followed her so she could have some time alone in her bedroom as she roamed around the room, looking for a pair of shoes that wouldn't give her blisters.

“Oh, apologies.” A voice said and Regina quickly turned around to see a smiling face looking back at her. “I went outside to get some air and must have gotten lost on my way back to the party.”

“It’s no problem, really.” Regina said, not knowing why she felt herself blush. The woman had been the one to walk into her bedroom after all. Regina hadn't even heard her come in. “I’m Regina, I don’t think I noticed you back there.”

“Oh, you’re the bride-to-be:” She replied “I’m Emma White.”

Regina vaguely remembered the name “You’re Snow White’s daughter.” She said and Emma nodded. She was quite beautiful, her blonde hair framed her face perfectly and her blue dress matched her eyes. Regina hadn't met Snow White on many occasions, but she could tell that Emma looked a lot like her.

“You should probably get back to your guests?” Emma asked, but there was something in her tone suggesting she didn’t really want Regina to leave.

“Probably.” Regina replied “To be honest, I wanted to get away for a while.”

“I can understand that.” Emma said “Let me guess, arranged marriage?”

Regina almost became defensive at that, it was something she had learned from a young age, never to let anyone speak to her with disrespect. Something in her facial expression must have given her away, because the next thing she knew, Emma was looking down at her feet with embarrassment.

“I am sorry.” Emma quickly added “I meant no offense, I am not very good with these formalities.”

“You were raised in Snow White’s castle, were you not?” Regina asked “Are you not a princess?”

Emma smiled “That I am.” She said “But I am also the daughter of a known outlaw.”

So the story was true then, that the man Snow White had married was indeed the famous Robin Hood of Sherwood forest. Gossip did travel fast across the kingdoms, but the White's had always been good at keeping their personal life, personal. Besides, after what Regina had heard, they weren't exactly her mother's favorite people so Regina never knew if what she was told, was the truth or not.

“It’s okay.” Emma said, noticing Regina's expression. “I'm not ashamed.”

Regina smiled then, realizing she must have just been standing there with her mouth open. “You shouldn’t be.” She said “He was a lord, was he not?”

Emma’s eyes lit up at that “Most people seem to have forgotten that part.”

Regina’s smile stayed on her face as she answered “I like stories.”

“Me too.” Emma replied “Anyway, my point is that both my parents have a thing for the whole bow-and arrow, fight for what’s yours lifestyle.”

“Admirable.”

“Yes, it is.” Emma said “but it also means that even though my mother loves the occasional ball, it’s not something I have attended many of.”

“Do you dance?” Regina asked and Emma shook her head.

“My father is terrible at it.” She said “During my dance classes growing up, he usually took me out back and taught me how to yield a sword instead, my mother wasn’t happy when she found out.”

“The only rule is to find a partner that knows what they’re doing.” Regina said, ignoring the little voice in the back of her head which was telling her she was overstepping every line ever. “I could teach you if you’d like.”

Emma took a step forward “I’d like that.” She said and took Regina’s hand in hers.

“What?” Regina asked, a little flustered “Now? There’s no music here.”

“A good dancer doesn’t need one.” Emma said “Or at least, that’s what I’ve been told.”

Regina was still baffled when Emma moved closer and raised her eyebrows at her “Well?”

Shaking the feeling of discomfort away, Regina began leading Emma around the room. Luckily, she could dance a waltz by heart. It was one of those moments that she’d only heard about in the stories, from one of the elderly servants that often tucked her in at night when she was little.

Regina couldn’t help but chuckle nervously as she felt her heart race and her palms starting to sweat. This was not how she had expected to feel that evening. Regina almost forgot that it was supposed to be her husband-to-be to make her feel that way.

 **

When Abigail had excused herself to go talk to her father about the travel arrangements for their departure the next morning, David had wasted no time to discreetly get away from the party to get some air. At first he considered finding Regina, but truth be told, he just wanted to be alone for a little while. Abigail was beautiful, no doubt about it, and after what he had heard, she was loved by her people. Qualities that David really admired in a queen, but the fact that it seemed like she could not stand him, no matter how much he tried, made the situation somewhat difficult.

He knew she was probably in the same boat as him, and that this was not the happy ending she had heard so much about growing up. Right now, everything just felt so hopeless.

David knew he shouldn’t be away from the party for too long, but he couldn’t help but wander through the castle, outside and to the old part of the castle that was now rarely used. It had been damaged in a fire long before David had been born and was now mostly used as a place where ghost stories took place to scare little children. David had always loved it though, it was somewhere away from whispers and prying eyes.

Suddenly he snapped out of his thoughts as he heard a noise behind him, turning around he saw a dark-clothed figure, almost invisible now that the sun had gone down, but the moonlight shone on something he had in his left hand, making it glisten slightly.

“Who’s there?” David asked as he walked closer, keeping his hand firmly on the hilt of his sword on his side.

“Who wants to know?” The voice answered, it was husky and there was something about the way he talked that made David realize that he was not highborn and probably not a party guest.

“I’m prince David, this is my castle.”

“This old place?” The person asked “Not quite the palace anymore, now is it?”

David wanted to roll his eyes at that. Of course he didn’t mean the old worn down castle, that barely had a roof anymore, although he technically owned that as well.

“You’re trespassing, you know.” David said, but something made him let go of his sword as he made his way towards the man.

He stood still and let David approach him, and David was almost baffled when he could see him. He had black hair and a beard that matched. Black leather pants, a red vest and a long black jacket covered his body, only showing a bit of skin on his chest.

“Not what you expected, mate?” The man said.

“Who are you?” David asked again “This will be the last time I’ll ask.” He said before putting his hand back on the hilt of his sword.

Hook eyed the grip David had on the sword before looking up and meeting his eyes “You want to fight, I’d be more than happy too.” He said “The name is Killian Jones.”

He held up his left hand, and David let out a breath when he realized he hadn’t been holding anything in it, but in fact his hand was missing and there was a silver hook in it’s place.

“You’re captain Hook.” He said and then drew his sword “You’re a pirate.”

“You’ve heard of me then.” Hook said, but he didn’t bother to draw his own sword, clearly not thinking there would be a fight. Instead, he gave a little bow. “Nice to meet you, your majesty.” He said a bit sarcastically.

“What are you doing here?” David asked, knowing full well that the man was a criminal, but he couldn’t help but let his curiosity get the better of him.

“I was looking for a place to sleep tonight, I saw the lights and fireworks and figured you were having a party and this place would be deserted.”

“You can’t just trespass on the grounds of the royal family.” David said, he was supposed to sound stern, but he knew it wasn’t coming across at the moment.

“No one’s said anything before.” Hook said “Although in all fairness to your fine royal guard, I’ve never been caught before.”

“You’ve stayed here before?” David asked and Hook tilted his head to the side and grinned. “Where’s your ship?”

“Why? Would you like to see it?” Hook asked, and raised an eyebrow. David coughed once, before straightening up. “You’re the prince? Aren’t you supposed to be inside?”

“It’s my sister’s party.”

“Same question.”

“I suppose.” David said and put his sword back as he took a step away and sat down on a block of stone a few feet away from the pirate. “Needed some air.”

“Your fiancé won’t miss you?” Hook said and when David gave him a look of surprise, he just shrugged and sat down on another block across from David. “Words travel fast; I suppose a congratulations should be in order?”

David didn’t answer, and Hook chuckled.

“What’s so funny?”

“Let me guess, your engagement, it’s your father’s doing?” Hook asked, David wanted to protest, but it wasn’t like he couldn’t share with the pirate. If he decided to tell anything to anyone, he would never be believed over the word of a prince.

“Yes.”

“Not in love then?”

“Hardly.” David replied and ducked his head to look at his feet for a few seconds, before Hook spoke again.

“The struggles of being a prince.”

David looked up then “You don’t know anything about my life.”

“Aye.” Hook said “As you know nothing of mine, but you were very quick to draw that sword on me, weren’t you?”

“You’re a pirate.” David answered “A criminal.”

“Aye, that I am.” Hook said “But I also believe in good form, and I wasn’t always a pirate.”

“Does that have anything to do with your Milah?” David asked, gesturing to the tattoo on the man’s arm. He quickly looked down and the look of confidence fell from his face.

“No.” Was all he said.

“She’s gone.” David said, he didn’t have to ask, it was clear in the expression on his face. Hook nodded. “You loved her.”

Hook didn’t answer, just offered David a smile and a tilt of his head.

“So if it wasn’t a woman, then what made you change?” David asked, but Hook only looked at him for a moment before getting up from his seat and gave David a weak salute.

“A story for another time, mate.” He said “I should get going.”

“Thought you were staying the night?” David asked before he could stop himself. Hook quirked an eyebrow, taking a few steps backwards, keeping his eyes on David.

“Is the prince welcoming me to stay in his castle?”

“The prince is telling you to stop being so full of yourself.” David answered and got up as well, trying to regain some of his authority, but knowing that a man like captain Hook probably wouldn't care if he was a shepherd or a prince.

“Fine, I’ll stay.” Hook said “If you are planning to keep me entertained?”

David got up and crossed his arms over his chest “Do I look like a jester to you?”

“I seek not juggling or bad tricks.” Hook said “Tell me a story.”

“A story?”

“Tell me more about this princess of yours.” Hook said “You’re very perceptive for someone’s who’s never been in love.”

 **

David almost burst through the doors of Regina’s chambers, hoping she would still be there. The sight that welcomed him was not what he had expected.

“Oh, was I interrupting something?” he asked.

Regina pulled away from Emma so fast that she almost tripped on her own feet. “Dancing.” Was all she was able to say as she tried to gesture to her and Emma.

“Prince David.” Emma said as she curtsied politely, she didn’t seem quite as distraught as Regina, but there was still a small blush visible on her cheek. “Congratulations on your engagement.”

“Thank you.” David said “Have we met?”

“This is Emma.” Regina said “I mean, princess White.”

“Oh.” David said and gave a small bow himself “You’re the daughter of Snow White?”

“Yes.” Emma said, Regina wondered if it bothered her how she was never associated with her father, not even having his name.

“Nice to meet you.” David said “Regina, I really need to talk to you about something.”

“What on earth is going on here?” A familiar and unwelcoming voice said from the doorway, and Regina almost choked on her own tongue.

“Mother, I was only looking for a pair of shoes.” Regina said “I told the king.”

“You have been gone for an hour, Regina.” Cora said “We have guests wanting to congratulate you.”

“It was my fault, Cora.” David stepped up then, it was something Regina often greatly appreciated since they both knew that the most important thing to Cora was to stay within the royal family, and until Regina married Leopold, David was still the only heir to anything. It was just that sometimes it lead to more harm than good. “I was talking to Princess Emma here when she made me realize I hadn’t gotten an engagement present for Abigail yet.”

Emma nodded her head in agreement and Regina was happy that she was brave enough to lie to the queen for her.

“Regina was on her way back to the party when I came rushing through the door.” David said “You know how terrible I am at these things, so I told Emma I needed advice from Regina.”

“I see.” Cora said, her expression giving nothing away, but Regina wasn’t sure if she bought it or not. “And what did you decide on?”

“A-“ David started, but Regina took a step forward to stop him from saying something that Regina never would have suggested, and her mother figuring it all out.

“I told him he should put all his efforts into the perfect ring.” She said “Preferably his mother’s.”

Cora slowly nodded her head, it was something about her presence that could make even the biggest person feel small. It had never worked on David though, and she had never dared to use her magic or her wrath on him, knowing what the consequences might be, should the king pass away.

“Princess White?” Cora said and looked to Emma “Snow White’s daughter?”

“Yes, your majesty.” Emma said and curtsied, making sure to keep eye contact with the queen at all times. She didn’t seem to be frightened by her tough exterior either.

Cora didn’t say anything for a few moments before she turned her back to the three of them “Very well, come along now.”

“Yes, of course.” Regina said and gave David a look before hurrying after her mother, not even daring to look at Emma.

**

The next day, David woke up to the sun shining through the curtains and on his face, when he sat up in bed, he noticed Regina was already in his room, dressed in her riding outfit.

“Someone’s in a good mood today.” David said as he put on his robe and went over to where Regina was studying herself in his full-size mirror. It wasn't unusual for the one who rose the earliest to wake the other one up before the servants had a chance to.

She turned around, almost surprised to see David there even though they were in his chambers. “Just excited for our ride.”

David hummed and tilted his head, he might not be too good at reading people all the time, but Regina was definitely the exception. “So this has nothing to do with Snow White’s daughter?”

Regina blushed, but immediately scoffed and brushed him off “Of course not.”

“You were never good at lying to me, Regina.” David remarked “How mad was Cora?”

Regina scoffed and turned to look at him “You don’t even want to know.” She said “Hey, thank you for helping me out last night by the way.”

“That’s what we do, isn’t it?” David said as he put two reassuring hands on her shoulders and looked at the two of them in the mirror. “Look out for each other.”

“Yes.” Regina replied, and was about to ask David to get dressed to they could get going before it was too warm outside. Before she was able to speak though, the king came through the doors.

“Father.” David said, as Regina bowed her head in greeting. David didn’t bother with the formalities anymore. “What are you doing here?”

“Son.” Was all he said to David before turning his attention towards Regina. “Your soon-to-be husband had to leave because of an urgent matter and requested that you’d follow him, it would be most convenient for him to welcome you tonight.”

“What?” Regina asked, trying not to offend the king, but she really thought she’d have a couple of more days at home before she had to leave.

“Yes, so I’ve already told your servants to start packing and your carriage should be ready in a couple of hours.” George said “I’ll see to that the rest of your things will be brought to your new home tomorrow.”

“Father, I thought we agreed that-“ David tried.

“We had not agreed on anything, son.” George interrupted “I am still the king, and I am the one negotiating with King Leopold, now you can go help your sister get everything ready, I have a council meeting.”

As soon as the doors closed behind him, Regina sniffled to hold back her tears, it was no use though as David wrapped his arms around her and she cried into his chest.

Chapter Text

“Can we not talk about this anymore?” Regina said, it sounded more than a statement than a question. She was angrily packing away her riding clothes and boots after sending away her servants to get the carriage ready. It wasn’t really their job, but she couldn’t stand them fussing over everything and how they excited they were for the move and the wedding any longer.

“I’m just saying, it sounds like true love.” David said from where he was laying splayed on Regina’s bed.

“There’s no such thing.” Regina argued, as she shut her trunk with a loud bang. “I wish your father would consider having the wedding here.”

“You know that’s not true.” David said, even though he had thought the same thing ever since his engagement with Abigail. “I wish that too, but you know my father, it would just cost more money and I believe he is planning to have my wedding here.”

“Your father and gold.” Regina scoffed “Now that’s true love.”

“Since he married me off to the wealthiest family in the realm without a second thought, I would say that’s accurate, yes.” David said and couldn’t help but laugh at the glare his sister was casting him.

“You’re an idiot.”

“I’m gonna miss you too.” David said, the sincerity in his voice made Regina’s heart melt a little bit. “I’m not gonna miss your mother though.”

“Oh, no.” Regina said “She’s staying here.”

David frowned and sat up on the bed, throwing his legs over the edge and tilting his head to the side. Regina raised her eyebrows.

“What?” she asked, “She’s queen in this kingdom, she’s married to your father.”

“But is she really going to leave it to coincidence that you’ll act as a good little queen and make Leopold happy so she’ll have something to fall back on when my father passes and I throw her out?”

Regina gasped, and David laughed.

“You wouldn’t!”

“I think we both know that I would.” David said and got up from his seat on the bed and started helping Regina pack, even though she would probably have to re-pack everything after he finished.

“She’s dangerous, David.” Regina said “And you keep underestimating her, but you can’t deny how powerful she is.”

“I am not stupid, Regina.” David said and took a hold of Regina’s arms and looked her straight in the eye “I would not do anything to compromise my kingdom… Or yours for that matter.”

“We are going to have kingdoms, our own kingdoms.” Regina said like she couldn’t believe it was true.

“I might even have two one day.” David said and shook Regina playfully “I will crush both your mother and your puny little kingdom.”

Regina pushed him away “It’s not funny!” she said, even though there was a grin on her face, and she was trying to hold back a laugh.

“If all else goes wrong, I am pretty sure I would have you on my side and not on Cora’s in a possible battle involving magic.” David said and raised an eyebrow; Regina’s eyes immediately widened and looked around in panic, even though no one else was present.

“Don’t say things like that.” Regina said “I don’t have magic.”

David put his hands on Regina’s shoulder then, making her look at him. “We’re not children anymore, Regina, are we really still going to keep living on that lie?”

“It’s not your lie.” Regina said “And it’s not your life either.”

“Okay.” David said, not wanting to push anymore “Just promise me that once you are free from Cora’s iron grip that you’ll consider-“

“You’ve seen what magic did to my mother.” Regina said “I refuse to let that happen to me.” She pushed herself past David then and started throwing random hats and jackets out of her wardrobe and onto her bed.

“Maybe it’s not magic itself, but the person using it.” David suggested, Regina didn’t answer and David sighed and slumped his shoulders in defeat “Fine, tell me more about Emma.”

“You can consider both Emma and magic off the table of discussion.” Regina said “Besides, I want to hear more about this mysterious pirate.”

They had been so caught up in conversation and packing that they hadn’t even noticed how time had flown by before one of Regina’s new servant boys came stumbling through the door after a quick knock on the door and told them that the carriage was ready and Cora was waiting for them.

“She’s just coming along to get me settled in.” Regina explained, but David just held up in defeat, not wanting to argue with his sister right before her departure. He hoped she was right though, although he couldn’t stand the thought of living with Cora without Regina made him slightly nauseous, he just wanted Regina free of that woman. His sister was too good and often saw Cora’s possessiveness of her as love and wanting the best for her. David knew she only wanted what was best for herself though. His father was the same way, which is why they worked so good together.

Regina never cried in front of her mother anymore, it was a ‘weakness’ she had long gotten rid of, but she was struggling a lot when David wrapped her up in a hug and swung her around. She couldn’t help but laugh as he put her down though and rested his forehead on hers. “I’ll see you at the wedding, okay?”

She nodded “Go easy on Graham during practice, alright?” She told him. “And try to take your classes seriously.”

“I will.” He answered, and realized how much he was going to miss having a big sister looking after him and keeping him in check every day. “Have a safe trip.”

She nodded and pulled him close for one more embrace “I love you.” She whispered, so low that David wasn’t sure if he was even meant to hear it.

“Love you.” He replied and let go of her, letting her into the carriage alongside her mother who was looking at them with a stern expression on her face. Without as much as a ‘goodbye’ to David, she tapped the roof of the carriage and then they were off to King Leopold’s kingdom.

 **

There was an unfamiliar feeling of safety having her mother alongside her while they got Regina settled into her new quarters in Leopold’s castle. Everything was just so different and unpredictable, that even the burning gaze of her mother somehow calmed her down, at least that was something she was used to.

Leopold hadn’t even been there to welcome them, the manager of his household had told them he was extremely sorry but he had affairs in the neighborhood kingdom that he needed to leave to take care of.

“Please, whatever you may need, let us know.” The young man had said. Cora had made a rude comment, that Regina was sure that Leopold would never hear about, and Regina had just offered him a smile to make him feel better.

Cora was going on and on about her duties before, during and after the wedding. Regina had become an expert at both registering everything her mother told her and being lost in her own thoughts at the same time.

“And lastly, Emma White.”

With that, Regina looked up from her feet and met her mother’s eyes. She looked serious, and Regina was frightened about what she might be insinuating.

“What about her?” Regina asked, trying to keep her voice calm.

“I want you to stay away from both her and her outlaw of a mother.” Cora said “Their kingdom is boarded to king Leopold’s, and soon yours, so I expect you will have a political relationship but nothing more.”

Regina was a bit baffled by that, her first instinct was to say something to defend Snow and Emma, but instead she just nodded. “Of course, mother.”

“Good.” Cora said and smiled at her daughter, taking a step forward and putting her palm on Regina’s cheek “I just want you to be happy, Regina.” She said “This is your chance.”

Regina smiled back “Thank you mother.”

The days went on on, and at first Regina was happy that the king wasn’t home, but she often wished she at least would have someone to talk to during dinner.

When the king returned from his trip, he had a huge smile on his face and swooped Regina up in his arms, kissing her cheek. Regina grimaced at how wet it had been, and how his beard scratched her skin. That night she tried to push the thoughts of Emma’s silky skin and soft hair away, but failed miserably. She was almost looking forward to the wedding, only so she could see David again. She caught herself wondering if Emma would be attending as well.

One day after breakfast and wedding planning with the king, she decided to go into town and take a stroll. It wouldn’t be long until everyone would recognize her wherever she went here as well, and she really wanted to get a feel of what the people wanted and how they lived before she became queen. The town was quite lovely, not unlike the one near her old home. She bit her lip at the thought of her and David running through the corridors with Prince Phillip and Prince Thomas at a young age. She remembered how the boys wouldn’t let her play with them, but David had insisted.

Regina shook the thoughts away; it was stupid and unpractical to dwell on childhood dreams and memories. Cutting a corner a bit too fast, she found herself crashing into another person.

“Oh, I’m so sorry..” She said.

“No worries.” The girl answered, her green dress matched her sparkling eyes. Her hair was blonde, but it did not look as soft as Emma’s.

Cursing herself for letting her mind wander there again, she reached out to shake the girl’s hand, not even remembering when the last thing she did that instead of curtsying when she met someone new. “I’m Regina.” She said, the girl took her hand and shook it.

“Tinkerbell.” She answered “Nice to meet you.”

It really was, Regina decided to buy her some food and drink at the tavern to make up for her clumsiness, and the two of them really got along. It was nice being able to just talk about anything without worrying about language or causing offence. Regina was both shocked and fascinated when Tinkerbell told her she was a fairy.

“That must be exciting!” Regina said “You can go anywhere, anytime!”

“It’s more of a job than a privilege.” Tinkerbell replied “But it’s quite the adventure, I love it.””

“I envy you.” Regina admitted “I sometimes wish I could just leave.”

“Why can’t you?” Tinkerbell asked, tilting her head to the side in curiosity. Regina took a deep breath, knowing she couldn’t talk badly about the king or her upcoming marriage to a complete stranger she’d met in town.

“I am to be married.” Regina said “It’s an arranged marriage.”

“Oh.” Tinkerbell said “You do not love this person then?”

Regina shook her head.

“Seems to be that what you need is love.” She said and Regina nodded.

“That would be nice.”

She knew that it wasn’t in the cards for her though, it was pretty clear to her by now that her destiny was to marry king Leopold and give him an heir to the throne. The thought of children warmed her heart, although the father was not who she would have preferred.

Again, she remembered Emma’s hand in hers, the sparkle in her eyes and the smile on her lips and she caught herself wondering what kind of a mother the young princess would make.

There was so much to do up to the wedding that Regina never had a moment alone. With everything that needed to be done: it was a wonder how it felt like time passed so slowly. While trying on her wedding dress for her final fitting, just a couple of days before the big date. A familiar voice suddenly brought her feet back to earth.

“You look beautiful.”

Turning around swiftly, not even caring about the tailor almost pricking her with a needle, she saw the familiar face she had been waiting for.

“David!” She exclaimed, grabbed the skirt of her dress, and ran towards him, laughing, he threw his arms around her and spun her around.

“Hey!” He replied, grinning from ear to ear “You missed me, then?”

She nodded until her laugh turned into tears and she buried her head in his shoulder. Smiling, he softly stroked her hair and kissed the top of her head before glancing once at the tailor, maids and servants filling the room.

“You’re that excited, huh?” He asked, and she caught on immediately and pulled away, looking him in the eye.

“Yes, why wouldn’t I be?”

Just having David around made the planning a lot more bearable, even though both Cora and George wanted them to spend more time with their future spouses.

“She’ll be your queen for all of eternity in two days, your highness.” David had told king Leopold “Might I steal her for just a few hours?”

They went riding for all times sake and talked about everything that had happened since they’d last seen each other. Well, everything except magic, young princesses with fair skin and blonde hair, and mysterious pirates.

The next day was mostly filled with welcoming guests that had traveled far and arrived a day early, and Regina keeping herself busy so she wouldn’t have to think about the fact that she was getting married to a man she did not love and would soon be queen of a kingdom she knew close to nothing about. David tried his best being there for her, but it wasn’t easy with Cora, George and Abigail all trying to distract him to their best ability, and Regina’s wedding planner running after her trying to make her see the seriousness of everything that needed to be done.

Regina tried her best to hide her disappointment when the last guest arriving that day was Prince Thomas and his new wife Cinderella. It was so unreal seeing everyone like this. It seemed like only yesterday Regina had gotten in trouble for pretending to be fighting dragons with Thomas, David and Phillip when she was supposed to be at one of her lessons.

At least Thomas seemed more than happy with his newfound marriage than David and Regina was. She was only able to talk to the young Cinderella for a moment before her mother ushered her along to go talk to her fiancé, but the words ‘true love’ escaping her lips was still burned into her mind.

Regina had been sure that she’d never be able to sleep the night before her wedding, but she drifted asleep the moment her head hit the pillow. It was David, and not her usual clumsy servant that had woken her up the morning of the big day.

“Rise and shine, sleepyhead!” David said as he bounced on her bed. She threw her pillow at him before sitting up in bed and groaning. “It’ll be fine.”

Regina wasn’t sure if he was lying or not, but she nodded and took a deep breath. One small step at a time. “What should I wear?” She asked and David got up from the bed and smiled at her.

“I’m going to guess this dress that’s conveniently hung up for you right here?” David said and pointed to the outfit her maid had gotten ready for her the night before. Regina had been so distracted that she hadn’t even listened in when she’d been told the itinerary for the day.

“Right.” Regina replied “In a few hours I’ll be wearing a wedding dress, I can’t believe it.”

“Me neither.” David said “Hey, has your mother said anything about me giving you away?”

Regina shook her head “She’s avoiding the subject altogether, I think she feels it would be more appropriate if your father did it.”

David groaned “More like selling you out.”

Regina laughed.

“You should get ready, because a little birdie told me that the White’s are arriving soon.” David sing-sang, and winked at his sister. He was just able to duck out of the room before another pillow went flying across the room, aiming at his head.

Regina was even more nervous about meeting Emma White again than her own wedding. This should really give the soon-to-be queen a hint, but she decided not to think too much about it, like anything these days. She was only supposed to stand by the king, with Cora, George and David and greet a few guests before running off with her mother and a couple of maids and servants to start getting ready. Seemed like an easy enough job, and it had been just fine to welcome Prince Phillip with his family, and Prince Eric and his parents, but this though, this was something else entirely.

Robin emerged from the carriage first, holding out a hand to help his wife. The man wasn’t what Regina had expected at all. The way people talked about him would make him seem dirty, rude and unsophisticated. That was not the case at all though. Robin was dressed up in clothes fit for a king, something he actually was now, no matter what anyone said. He was handsome, his beard trimmed perfectly and his smile was big and genuine.

The stories didn’t do Snow White enough justice. Her skin was fair and white like her name suggested, her lips red, and her hair was long, wavy and beautiful. Her blue eyes matched her sparkling dress, and she looked straight to Regina and offered her the biggest welcoming grin.

Then Emma stepped out, almost tripping on her dress when she caught sight of Regina. Regina tried to hide her giggle, knowing how her mother felt about the White’s. The three of them walked up the steps to the castle, curtsied, and bowed in respect for both Regina and Leopold.

“Congratulations.” Snow told them “And thank you so much for inviting us, it’s an honor.”

“The honor is all ours, your majesty.” Leopold answered, offering them a smile. At least her fiancé was more polite than her mother was, even though Regina was sure that he did not care for the White’s either. “Welcome.”

“Yes, welcome.” Regina said, with a smile, not being able to look away from Emma for a moment. She had been hoping that maybe the feelings she had gotten for the princess the night of her engagement party had only been because of all her emotions running high, but now she knew she couldn’t live in denial anymore. Her heart fluttered, her palms was sweaty and she couldn’t’ stop smiling. She was only able to bring herself together after David coughed very non-discreetly.

Cora stepped forward then and took a hold of Regina’s arm. “Excuse me, but we should really start getting the queen ready.”

Regina bit the inside of her cheek. She wasn’t a queen yet.

“Yes, of course.” Snow replied. “Cora, it’s been while.”

Cora just gave one nod, looking Snow up and down “Yes, it has.”

Regina had never met anyone who had called her mother by her first name, except for George and David. It was both admirable and terrifying at the same time. Before Regina could excuse herself, her mother dragged her up the stairs. Regina couldn’t help but look over her shoulder and see the sympathetic smile that Emma sent her. It caused her stomach to clench in a painful way.

“What did I tell you about the White’s?” Cora said as Regina changed into her wedding dress. It was beautiful, no doubt, but just knowing that she was getting everything she dreamed of when she was little: The big wedding with the red and white roses, the stunning dress and the chance to make a difference as queen. Except she had always pictured her wedding day to be the start of her happy ending. Taking a deep breath, she wished once more that the person she was marrying would be someone she loved, before deciding to let go of that dream forever.

“I heard you, mother.” Regina said “What was I supposed to do? Ignore them? They are our guests.”

Cora glared at her, and Regina could almost feel her eyes burning with the intensity. Then she looked from Regina’s clumsy servant standing by with wine and water, to the maid helping her into her dress. “Get her ready, the wedding starts in an hour.”

With that she took off, probably to go find George to make sure everything was going to plan. Regina caught herself wondering what her brother would do when his day came, she wouldn’t put it past him to run away and never look back. Regina wasn’t like her brother though and would never risk the future of the kingdoms for her own happiness. David had always been naïve in that matter, but now it pained Regina to see how her brother seemed to lose faith in true love each passing day.

Another second, another minute, the time went by so slowly and so fast at the same time. Regina just wanted to get the whole wedding over with, and she was almost mad about the fact that her mother had arranged for her coronation to be immediately after her wedding. At least she wouldn’t have to dread that for any longer than necessary.

The clumsy servant boy offered her some water, and Regina eyed him up at down. “What’s your name?” She asked.

“Merlin, my lady.” He answered, not looking up from where he was pouring water into her cup.

“How long have you been in my service?” She asked, she’d seen him around a few times before, but couldn’t remember the first time she’d noticed him.

“Not long.” He answered with a smile “I was on my way to Camelot when I stopped in your step-father’s kingdom looking for work; I needed the money for the rest of my trip.”

“That's king Arthur’s kingdom, right?” Regina asked, “Abigail’s brother?”

“Yes.” He replied. His black hair was in desperate need for a haircut, and his blue eyes were one of the kindest Regina had ever seen.

“I’m sure I can arrange for you to go with him when he returns.” Regina said, and just because she was feeling slightly rebellious that day, she decided to add “But be warned, he’s a bit of an idiot.”

Merlin laughed then and Regina couldn’t help but smile. Taking a deep breath as the maid tightened the straps on her dress, before she went to find her tiara, Regina kept her eyes on the boy.

“I would really appreciate that, my queen.” He said.

“I’m not a queen yet.” She answered, she was so used to answering that when people called her a queen, that she was afraid that she would keep saying it even after her coronation.

“But you will be.” Merlin replied “And a great one, at that.”

“How do you know?”

“Trust me, I just know.” Merlin said “As long as you learn to follow your heart.”

Regina bit her bottom lip and kept quiet for a few moments before asking “So what do you think about this wedding then?”

“It’s wonderful, isn’t it?” The maid said and Regina rolled her eyes.

“I didn’t ask you, Sophia.” She said and the maid kept quiet, she winked at Merlin though, not to throw him off. He only smiled.

“I’m just a servant…”

“I asked for your opinion.” Regina said “Consider it an order.”

Merlin took a deep breath and for a moment she wasn’t sure if he would tell the truth or not, but she was so wrong. “I think you’re mad, I think you’re all mad.” He said “People should marry for love.”

“You can’t talk to the princess right that!” Sophia let out on a gasp, the shock on her face was amusing to say the least.

“It’s quite alright, Sophia.” Regina said, her eyes still on Merlin “Why don’t you fetch me my shoes?”

 

Merlin’s words stayed with her as she made her way down the aisle, David on her arm. She didn’t know what he had said to his father, but she appreciated it greatly, knowing that she might have fallen over without his warmth at her side.

Glancing to her side, she caught eye of Emma White. Every guest had a big smile on their face, whispering about Regina’s dress and hair. Emma, though, looked sad, and her mother was holding her hand tightly. It was a happy occasion, was it not? Why would the young princess be upset? Regina pretended she didn’t already know the answer.

When she reached the alter, David kissed her cheek and offered her hand to Leopold’s. It was an awful deal, if anyone had bothered to ask her. Regina didn’t understand why Leopold had reached out to stroke her cheek before realizing a single tear had escaped her eye. Knowing she couldn’t afford to glance at Emma even once without running off and ruining the wedding, she kept her eyes on her future husband and imagined herself being the best queen possible.

Saying ‘I do’ was almost as heavy as the crown that was later put on her head.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

It was a peculiar feeling, being so upset on Regina’s behalf as she placed the wedding ring on Leopold’s finger, but then beaming with pride as she was crowned queen of a kingdom. At the ball afterwards, he asked Abigail to dance but she complained that she was wearing the wrong shoes. Sighing, he excused himself and went to get another cup of wine as he watched Regina dancing with her new husband.

“The king’s a good dancer.” A familiar voice said, and David only smiled, keeping his eyes on the newlyweds.

“That he is.” He said “How are you doing, princess?”

Emma didn’t answer at once, and David let her have a second to come up with a plausible lie. “I’m good, thank you for asking.”

“I’m glad you could come, I’m sure my sister really appreciate it.” David said. All he wanted to do was to say something to make her realize just how much she meant to his sister. Regina had been very clear that she would set her own happiness aside for the sake of her kingdom now that she was queen. David wasn’t that selfless though.

“Really?” Emma asked, her voice brightened up slightly and David recognized it as hope. It wasn’t as he could just blurt out in the middle of Regina’s wedding banquet that she didn’t love her new husband, but he could try to keep something alive between them. No one deserved to be happy more than his big sister.

“Yes.” David replied “You’ve come to be a big influence in her life.”

“How so?” She asked “I mean, we’ve only met once.”

He decided to look at her then, and her eyes shone with curiosity and hope. “You inspire her.” When he noticed the way her breath hitched, and her smile widening, he straightened up and turned his attention back to the dance floor.

“You White’s are known for leading with your heart, that’s something she admire.” He said, hoping that Emma caught on to how he was trying to be discreet to any ears listening in on their conversation.

“On our way here, my mother wouldn’t stop talking about what an amazing queen she’d make.” Emma replied “I try not to agree with her more than I have to, or else she’d think she’s always right…”

David laughed then.

“But in this matter I had no other choice.” Emma said, and David couldn’t help but bump his shoulder with her.

“So will you, one day.” He said.

“Thank you.” She said “I hope I can learn how to put the kingdom’s needs before my own.”

“That’s the worst part, isn’t it?” David said, looking down at her again “That’s how I know my sister will be a wonderful queen, because she put the kingdom before herself, even before the crown was upon her head.”

Emma was about to say something when she was interrupted.

“David!” Abigail said as she went over to them and looped her arm with David’s. “My father tells me he hasn’t seen you all evening, he has some business he would like to discuss with you and your father.”

“It’s a wedding, darling.” David said “Do we really need to discuss this now?”

“I try not to meddle in these affairs.” She said “Please, I am tired, would you just go speak to him?”

“Of course.” David answered and patted the top of Abigail’s hand, before she ran off to talk to some of her friends.

“You should do as she says.” Emma suggested “Might not make it to the wedding day if you don’t.”

“Wouldn’t that be a shame?” David said and clasped his hands together and winking at the young princess before doing as he had been told. He almost bumped into Snow White on his way to King Midas, and she gave him what seemed like a grateful smile. David had a feeling that the queen and her husband knew a lot more than people gave them credit for.

The next day was even worse than the one before, not only did he have to say goodbye to Regina again, not knowing when he’d get to see her again, but his father had also given him his mother’s engagement ring. He had held it in the palm of his hand, and thought about when it would be a good time to give something he loved to a person he didn’t love.

“I love you.” David said, kissing Regina’s hand before giving her a hug “You can send a letter to me anytime.”

“You too.”

“Might need some tips on how to plan a wedding.” David joked, and Regina offered him a smile, even though it was clear to David that she was not in the mood.

“I’ll visit soon.”

“Promise?” Regina asked and he nodded, looking around to make sure no one was around she hugged him again before adding “Don’t bring mother when you do.”

“Remember what you promised.”

She didn’t answer.

The carriage ride back to David’s home was quiet. On another day, David might have appreciated this, but it was a dreadful silence. “Are you enjoying the view, my dear?” he asked Abigail. She scoffed, but looked out of the window anyway.

“I’ve seen better.” She said “And the road is so bumpy.”

“It’ll be better once we are back in my father’s kingdom, I assure you.” He said, feeling like they had a similar conversation on their way to the wedding. “Are you looking forward to going back to the golden palace?”

She looked at him then “Yes.” She said, not even blinking. David didn’t blame her. He wasn’t exactly feeling miserable at the thought of being away from her for a while.

Suddenly the carriage stopped, and Abigail asked what was wrong. David grabbed the hilt of his sword and told her to stay in the carriage. Making his way outside, he was about to ask what the commotion was about when he noticed that all of the guards were lying unconscious on the ground. He ran over to the knight furthest away, and then checked everyone else. They were all more or less unharmed. Whoever did this had been very stealth. He kept his eyes open, but before he could assess the situation properly, he heard Abigail screaming.

Turning around he could see a hooded figure next to the carriage. David ran after him, only briefly glancing through the window as he passed to make sure Abigail was unharmed.

“Stay in the carriage!” He’d yelled at her just as he was able to catch the man, just as he got his sword and was about to plunge it right at the man, the man suddenly ducked and turned around and had his own sword against David’s throat in one swift move.

“I told you, if you wanted to fight I’d be more than happy to oblige.”

David knew that voice, and his eyebrows furrowed in confusion as the man took of his hood.

“Hook.”

The pirate tilted his head to the side “Sorry about the inconvenience, mate, didn’t know it was your carriage.” He said “Your fiancé seems like quite the keeper.”

David was still in a state of shock of seeing the dark-haired man again, but managed to see his satchel pinned to Hook’s side. The ring was in there.

“Give me back my ring.” David said. He didn’t know what it was about this man, but he never really managed to seem threatening around him.

“I would if I could.” Hook said, and before David even realized what was happening, Hook had the sword against his side, making David lose his balance, before the pirate punched him right across his cheekbone and he fell straight to the ground. “Thanks again for the hospitality!”

With that he ran away and jumped onto a horse waiting for him a few feet away. David was completely shocked at what had just happened, but managed to scramble up from the ground.

“Wherever you are I will find you!” David shouted after him, not even knowing if the man could still hear him. There was no way he was getting away with that, not only did he have his mother’s ring, but it was also a matter of pride.

“David!” Abigail came running towards him with two guards that had regained unconsciousness. “What happened?”

“He stole my satchel.” David said as he hurried back over to the carriage and quickly unhinged one of the horses from it. “I’m going after him.”

“What?” Abigail asked.

“One of you will ride back to my sister’s kingdom for help.” He said and gestured to the guards “The rest of you will stay with the princess at all times.”

“But, David!”

David didn’t bother to listen to any more objections as he got up on the horse, luckily he was used to riding without a saddle. Kicking the horse gently in the side, he took off after Hook. Even in his state of anger and wanting revenge, he was still hoping Hook could give him an explanation to his behavior. He was a pirate, David was well aware of this, but he had said that he also believed in good form, and for some insane reason, David still believed that.

Even though Hook hadn’t gotten that much of a head-start, is still took most of the day to track him down and it had gotten dark outside when David had gotten off his horse, and was making his way through the forest by foot, tracking the pirate. David was pretty sure he was getting close and his suspicion was confirmed when he heard the pirate whistling not too far away.

David got his sword out and made his way around the pirate, who was sitting next to a small fire a few feet away. He sneaked up behind him and put the sword to the side of his neck.

“Told you I’d find you. You’re not that good at covering your tracks, pirate.” David said “Looks like the man doesn’t live up to the reputation.”

Hook only chuckled “Maybe I wanted you to find me.”

David wanted to ask a million questions, but he knew that he could not show any weakness in this situation, since it seemed to be a pattern how Hook always had the upper-hand during their encounters.

“Just give me the ring.”

Hook took the risk of turning his head towards David then, and David put it closer against his throat, almost breaking the skin. “Or you’ll have my head?”

“Don’t tempt me.” David said “I thought you believed in good form.”

“I do.” Hook said “But I need that ring.”

“Why?” David asked before he could stop himself.

“Put the sword down and I’ll tell you.” Hook said, when David didn’t obey, he just raised his eyebrows and rolled his eyes like he was annoyed with the prince “You clearly don’t want me dead or you would have brought your guards, and what exactly do you think I’m going to do? Take my sword if it pleases you.”

David hated how he trusted the man even after what he had just done, but he did lean over and grabbed Hook’s sword, throwing it a few feet away, only slightly caring about how he might have ruined the fine steel. He then walked around Hook and sat down opposite of him.

“Talk.” He said sternly and Hook smiled.

“You hungry?” he asked “I’ve saved you a rabbit.”

David didn’t know what to think of the fact that Hook was clearly expecting him to find him, but he was stubborn enough not to ask.

“I need the ring to get safe passage from the maritime kingdom.” Hook said, and David leaned back in confusion.

“What about your ship?”

“It’s been taken.” Hook said “I was hired to get the ring from your carriage, although like I said, I didn’t know it was yours.”

“Oh?” David asked “I find that hard to believe since my father and I were the only two people that knew the whereabouts of that ring.”

Hook scoffed like David had just said something extremely silly and unbelievable. “You really believe that, Dave?”

David wanted to roll his eyes at the nickname, he was used to being called ‘your highness’ or ‘majesty’, but he had a feeling Hook wasn’t the man to address this issue with. And truth be told, David felt just a little bit more free as he was able let down his shoulders and not worry about manners or social classes for a while.

“Listen, mate.” Hook said and leaned forward, resting his elbows on his thighs “That ring is priceless, it’s better than a hostage and much easier to handle, every low-life in the realm knows how much it means to you and your father, whoever hired me to steal your satchel was well aware of it’s content.”

“But you weren’t?” David asked, still finding that hard to believe “You just decided to steal from a carriage you didn’t know who owned, because a stranger you can’t name told you to.”

Hook’s expression changed then, and he suddenly looked mad. “Then tell me, prince, what would you do if your home was taken away from you?”

David opened his mouth to answer before realizing he had no way of defending himself. He’d heard lots of stories about captain Hook and his Jolly Roger. It seemed to mean a lot to him. David thought about it for a moment. Home meant a lot of things to him. His kingdom, the castle where he’d grown up and met his sister for the first time… Regina. He couldn’t imagine losing any of them, or the desperation he’d go through to bring them back.

“I get it.” David said, and then waited for a second before reaching out his hand and opening his palm. “I still need it back though.”

Hook didn’t react at once, only kept eye-contact with David like he was waiting for him to change his mind. “Seems only fair, doesn’t it?” Hook said and gave the prince his ring back.

“Thank you.” David wasn’t really sure what to say, a part of him wanted to help the other man even though it went against everything a prince was supposed to believe in. Hook was a pirate, a criminal, after all.

What had the man told him? Not to be so fast to judge?

“You said you weren’t always a pirate.” David said “Tell me the story.”

“We are all just stories.” Hook said “You judged me by mine, I’m sure you and your sister have been judged by yours.”

David thought about it, how people said Regina had no right to be queen in his kingdom or Leopold’s, it was never her birthright. He thought about what people said about the White family, even though to David, they seemed like the most righteous royal family in the entire realm.

“Then tell me another story and change my mind.” David said and Hook’s lips twitched.

“Shouldn’t you get back to your fiancé?”

“You should know better than to walk around in these woods at night.” David said “I’ll find my way back tomorrow.”

Hook seemed to consider the offer of spending the night with the prince, exchanging stories. “Alright then.”

Hook only got up from his spot for a moment to put some wood on the fire before sitting back down, David found a comfortable spot next to him and just listened. David couldn’t help but be captivated by Hook’s storytelling. He had lost his brother because of the lies of a cruel king, which was why he had left the royal guard and become a pirate. There were adventures across the realms, both wonderful and horrible. Hook had lost his beloved Milah by the hand of another pirate, Blackbeard. David had heard the name before as well, although he had always preferred the stories about Captain Hook. Finally finding the man he had wanted revenge on for years had only led to Blackbeard taking his ship and most of his crew.

When the story was over, David just sat there with an expression of awe on his face.

“You look like someone who just saw a unicorn.” Hook remarked.

“I saw a unicorn once when I was ten.” David said and Hook scoffed and bit his lip, looking down at his feet like he was regretting telling David the story. “Thank you for telling me.”

Hook didn’t answer, just took a deep breath and leaned back against the tree behind him.

“You still waiting for a happy ending then?” David said and Hook raised an eyebrow.

“Villains aren’t supposed to get happy endings.” He said “It’s all part of the story.”

“You’re not a villain.” David said “When nan told us stories when we were little, my sister used to tell me that more often than not, a villain is just another character who’s story hasn’t been told yet.”

Hook smirked and pointed a finger at David “I like your sister.” He said “Not sure if she’s right though.”

David shrugged his shoulders, and was almost worried about how much he was letting his guard down. It was probably because he felt like he owed the other man for telling him his entire life story. But deep down he knew that there was another reason.

“There’s something about you, Dave.” Hook said, looking at Dave with a certain fascination.

“Yeah, you too.” David said, and Hook only smiled at him. A silence settled around him, and unlike the uncomfortable one he often experienced with Abigail, it was comforting and almost pleasant. When he settled down and let his eyes drift shut after Hook had fallen asleep, he was afraid he’d might miss listening to Hook breathe as he fell asleep.

 

 

Chapter Text

Being a queen was nothing like what Regina had expected. She had figured that even though the circumstances were not what she had wished for, that it could be an opportunity for her to rule and make a change. She still remembered her life before her mother had married King George, and she wanted to give something back to those less fortunate. That had not been the case though. Leopold dismissed every proposal she came up with. That was the few times he was actually home, and not away on some diplomatic journey. She never had many friends growing up, but at least she had her brother. Now she was all alone in a big castle, wondering how any little girl could ever want to be a queen when she grew up.

She remembered her promise to her brother, and one night after Leopold had dismissed her in the cruelest way before leaving for what would soon be Phillip’s kingdom, she had locked herself in her room and concentrated until she was able to light a candle with just her mind.

David had been right, she did have magic and it was no use in living that lie anymore. She wouldn’t tell anyone, but the only relief she ever felt was whenever she was able to float an object across her bedroom or cast a spell successfully.

It scared her sometime how easily it all came to her, and sometimes it was hard to control. Like she had been suppressing it for so long that her magic was now just waiting to burst out. One night she was sitting on her bed, feeling the easy breeze coming from the open balcony doors and writing a letter to her brother when suddenly something caught her eye.

At first she thought it was a firefly, before recognizing the creature: A fairy. Before she could say anything, the fairy changed form and was now in human size. When the fairy smiled at her, she realized that she had met this fairy once before.

“Tinkerbell!” She exclaimed and sat up in her bed.

“Hello, Regina.” Tinkerbell replied, offering the queen another smile. “May I?” she asked and gestured to the bed. Regina nodded, her mouth still hanging open.

“You knew who I was all along then.” Regina said, realizing that she was stating the obvious, but hoping for an explanation to why Tinkerbell hadn’t just told her this when they’d first met.

“I did.” Tinkerbell said “I never meant to deceive you, I just wanted you to feel like you could talk to me.”

"Okay." Regina said, still a little taken back by the whole thing. So Tinkerbell had known that Regina had talked ill about her marriage with the king, that was not something she could take lightly.

Tinkerbell nodded “It hurts me that you feel this way.” She said “So sad.”

Regina shook her head “I’m not sad.”

Tinkerbell reached forward and placed her hand on top of Regina’s “Yes, you are, you don’t have to lie to me.”

“What are you doing here?”

“I told you, I want you to be happy.”

Regina wasn’t sure why, but she felt greatly offended by that. Thinking about it, she realized it wasn’t that she was offensive, it was just cruel.

“I told you how unhappy I was back then and you didn’t do anything to help me.” Regina said, and Tinkerbell looked down, not being able to meet Regina’s eyes. Regina figured it was because the fairy realized that she had a reason to be upset.

“I wasn’t allowed.” Tinkerbell said “I was under… Training, you could say, when we met.” She said, trying to explain the situation. “You are a hope to many, even though they might not know it yet, and it was important that you became queen.”

“Even though I am unhappy?” Regina asked “How can that make me a good queen? My husband won’t even give me the time of day, I am not ruling, I am just…existing.”

“I am sorry, I told my superior I felt the same way, you deserve to be happy and I am here now.” Tinkerbell said “I think I know the answer to your problem.”

“What?” Regina asked, a little sharper than she attended.

“What you need is love.”

Oh, yes. Tinkerbell had told her that before. It would be amazing, to have love. But what did Tinkerbell know about what she could and could not have. She had just told her she needed to be queen, and there was no way she could have that and love. At least not as Leopold’s queen.

“I had love!” Regina shouted as soon as the memories crossed her mind, it was the first time she ever could admit that she had been in love with Emma White, and probably always would be. But it was all a fantasy, an illusion. Something neither a fairy or her magic could ever make happen. “I lost my chance at that love the day I married the king.”

“Says who?” Tinkerbell asked, and Regina couldn’t help but laugh at how stupidly optimistic the fairy was being. The laugh came out bitter and mean though and Regina didn’t really like that side of herself.

“Do you even know how the world turns?” Regina asked “I cannot leave the king in order to go pursue my love, I’d be hanged on the spot.”

“True love never did run smooth.” Tinkerbell said.

“I don’t have the luxury of true love.” Regina answered “You just said I needed to be queen, and then you say I can have true love with someone other than the king?”

“You just have to believe.” Tinkerbell said with a comforting smile, Regina didn’t return it.

 

The next morning Regina was woken up by her servant as always, but something was different. When she noticed the look on the girl’s eyes she immediately knew something was wrong.

“What is it?” She asked “Speak.”

“Your brother.” The girl replied, and Regina instantly felt worried. “His carriage was attacked yesterday, I don’t know much, they just told me he went in pursuit after the thief.”

“Alone?” Regina asked, and the girl nodded. She threw the covers off her body and hurried out the door, only stopping briefly to throw on a robe.

When she came downstairs to the main hall, Abigail and Leopold, along with a few knights were already there.

“What’s going on?” She asked “Where’s David?”

“I don’t know.” Abigail answered, “There was this man, he took his satchel and David ran after him.”

“What man?” Regina asked, clearly confused how one man could overthrow all of Abigail’s knights and take the satchel from David.

“I don’t know.” Abigail repeated “But it looked like he had a…. Hook for a hand.”

Regina’s jaw dropped.

 

**

“I think they’re gone.” David said on a laugh as he peeked through the bushes they were hiding behind. The knights had been right behind them, but David’s knowledge of the woods had it’s advantages and they had been able to find the perfect hiding spot, and the knights had ran right passed them.

“Remind me again why you’re hiding?” Hook asked, and David shrugged his shoulders. Why was he hiding? The sun had come out, he should really be getting back to Abigail and his father, and let them know he was okay. “Seeking some adventure, mate?”

David thought about it. He couldn’t say that he was looking forward to the future his father had planned for him.

“If I tell you something, do you promise not to laugh?” David asked, even though he knew he couldn’t trust the word of a pirate.

“Depends on how funny I find it.” Hook replied and David rolled his eyes, but decided to tell him anyway.

“I used to have this dream when I was younger.” David said “Before everything became so complicated.”

“What kind of dream?” Hook asked.

“I don’t remember much of them.” David said “Except that there was always this pirate.”

Hook grinned then and smacked his arms in delight. David didn’t find it amusing at all. “It’s not that funny.”

“I’m not saying it was funny.” Hook said “Tell me, did he look like me.”

David rolled his eyes again “I don’t remember.”

“Too bad.” Hook answered.

“When my father arranged my marriage with Abigail, my sister pointed out that I should have enough time to find my mystery pirate before the wedding.” David confessed, it wasn’t like it mattered, he would probably never see Hook again anyway.

“You could come with me.” Hook said “What do you say, little prince? Want to go on an adventure?”

David wasn’t sure if he was serious or not, but he would be lying if he said the offer didn’t seem tempting. He’d always dreamed of having a real adventure, and strangely Hook seemed like the perfect companion.

“I wish I could.” David said “I have a kingdom to take over someday.”

“But someday isn’t today, is it?” Hook asked “It’ll be there when you get back.”

“My sister needs me.” David said “She’s probably already heard that I went after you, she could be worried, if I never returned…”

“Say no more.” Hook said “I won’t try to convince you to do something you don’t want to.”

“But I do!” David said, with a little too much enthusiasm. “Want to, I mean.”

Hook smiled genuinely at him though, not just a cocky grin, and David was a little surprised by how much he liked that.

“Yeah?” Hook asked, as he stood up and grasped David’s hand to help him up too. While dragging him up, he took a step closer to the other man so he was standing much closer to him than necessary. “Come with me.” He whispered, and David couldn’t help the way his heart fluttered at the sound of Hook’s voice.

Blinking twice, not even noticing how firm his grip on Hook’s hand was, he wet his lips before letting out a breath he didn’t know he was holding. “Why?”

“I think the more important question is ‘why not’?” Hook replied, winking at the other man “When was the last time you took a leap of faith?”

Never.

Then they heard rustling, followed by a “Prince David!” and “Your majesty!”

Oh no.

“You have to go.” David said “You’re an outlaw, if they find you I’m not sure what I can do to keep you away from the noose.”

“Right.” Hook answered, before digging something out of his pocket and handing it to David. It was his ring.

“What?” David asked “You stole it again?

Hook grinned “Pirate.” He said as an excuse, and was about to run away when David grabbed his arm.

“Good luck.” He said, and before he even knew what he was doing, he pulled another ring off his finger. The one with his royal crest on it.

“Here.” He said and put it in Hook’s hand. “This is priceless too, use it to get your ship back or if you ever get in trouble.”

“I can’t take this.” Hook said, looking over his shoulder as they rusting and noises came closer.

“Just take it.” David said “I have to go, lure them away from you.”

“Why are you doing this?” Hook asked, his eyebrows rising in confusion.

David smiled “Why not?”

Hook leaned in closer then and David was sure that he was going to kiss him, but instead he gripped his fingers and gave him a nod “Thank you.” He said, and David just breathed in and nodded back.

“Will I ever see you again?” He asked.

“Nothing’s impossible, mate.” He said, before running off. That was that, then. Within a few seconds the man was gone and David was left staring after him.

“Prince David!”

David sighed “Over here!” he yelled, and moments later he was surrounded by knights and guards from the royal household. So much for his adventure.

He rode alongside the guards in complete silence as they made their back to the castle where Regina and Abigail was waiting for him. David was really hoping that no one had told his father or Cora of the incident.

Regina was the first to greet him once he got back, he had expected a hug, but instead she just stood there on the stairs tapping her foot impatiently, with her arms crossed over her chest. When he gave her an innocent smile, she just raised her eyebrows and cocked her head before sighing and making her way towards him.

“Princess Abigail is on her way back to king Midas’ castle, with double the guards with her.” Regina said “Curtsey of my husband.”

“I shall send him my gratitude for keeping my fiancé safe.” David said “I will ride after them tomorrow.”

Regina nodded “Come on, you must be hungry.”

David was pretty hungry, he hadn’t eaten since the rabbit the night before. He tried to ignore the look Regina was sending him all through dinner, but it became impossible.

“So, your husband won’t be joining us for dinner then?” David asked, giving her his best fake smile. She didn’t buy it though and responded with the same fake politeness.

“No, he is actually meeting with your father and king Midas about the poor defense of the royal carriage yesterday.” She said “I am sure your father is most proud of how you recklessly ran after the perpetrator.”

David looked around him then, not even a servant was in sight and he wondered if this was how Regina spent most of her meals, alone in a cold and dark dining hall.

“Before you say anything, yes, this is perfectly normal.” Regina said, gesturing to the room “The servants annoy me, I’d rather eat alone.”

“I’m sorry.” David said.

“I know.” Regina said, and then her eyes turned into something devious and David put his fork down and wiped his mouth before giving her a nod.

“Okay go ahead.” David said “Say whatever you’ve been dying to say since I got back.”

“You know, when I said you had enough time to go after your mystery pirate before your wedding.” She replied “I didn’t mean to literally run away from your fiancé and after him.”

David couldn’t help but smile at her, and her face lit up with something unexpected. “What?”

“It was him, right?” She asked “The one you ditched my engagement party to have story time with?”

David wet his lips and shrugged his shoulders “Yes, it was, your point?”

“What a coincidence.” Regina remarked, and David knew what she was getting at.

“He’s a pirate.” He said.

Regina took another piece of carrot from her plate, and chewed it slowly. David sighed and leaned back in his chair, knowing she was trying to get him to figure out what to do on his own.

“He’s an outlaw.” David said, no heat behind his words.

“So was Snow White’s husband.” Regina said “Now he is basically king.”

David smirked then “Any particular reason why you are bringing up the White family?”

Regina’s devious smirk fell from her lips then and she put her fork down, and wiped her mouth to hide her blush.

“I knew it.” David said, and Regina brushed him off.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” She said.

“Emma White.” David said “Have you spoken to her since your wedding?”

Regina just sighed “What does it matter? I am married to the king.”

“And I am engaged to Princess Abigail, but you are still putting me on the spot.” David pointed out, before he got up from his seat and made his way towards his sister, leaning against the edge of the table and sighing heavily.

“What on earth are we doing to do?” He asked.

Regina shook her head “I don’t know.” She said “But I’m not sure I can live the rest of my life like this.”

“Like what?” David asked.

“Alone.”

David palmed her chin then and made her look up at him, he offered her a comforting smile “You are not alone, not as long as I’m alive.”

She smiled back at him “What if you take off on a pirate ship?”

“You could come with me.” David said “And don’t worry, we can pick up a certain outlaw daughter on the way.”

Regina pushed him off the table.

Chapter Text

Time passed by like it always did, and without having the time to appreciate his freedom, David’s eighteenth birthday was only a day away. Regina had traveled in day earlier, and they were currently sitting at the table with King George and Cora planning both the birthday and the wedding that would take place only a couple of days later. David wasn’t looking forward to either.

He suddenly felt too young and too old at the same time, he felt choked by the responsibility that had been thrown upon him even though he had had a lot more time to prepare for it than Regina had. Most of all he felt lost. Abigail still didn’t seem excited about the idea either, but at least she was warming up to him and it did seem like they could at least become friends someday.

David sighed at the thought, to ‘someday maybe become friends’ with the person you were supposed to spend the rest of your life with wasn’t the perfect scenario.

He excused himself from dinner, complaining about being tired and wanting to be rested for the big day tomorrow. Regina had followed him soon after, practically shooing away the servant who was getting David’s bed ready.

“Stop sulking.” Regina said “You knew this was coming, just make the best of it.”

“Like you did?” David asked.

Regina went over to him then, and instead of the warm embrace that he expected, Regina smacked him across the head.

“Ow!” David exclaimed, rubbing the back of his head “What was that for?”

“You’re an idiot.” She said “I might not have wanted my marriage, but now that I am here, I plan to be a good queen.”

“You are a-“

“Shut up.” Regina cut him off “If you want to run away, you can do that, or you can take responsibility and be the king I know you can be. A good one, not like your father.”

“Maybe I don’t want to be alone either.” He said, and Regina sighed heavily.

“You won’t be.” She said “Not as long as I’m around.”

“I’m starting to understand what you meant though.” David said as he sat down on the bed, burying his face in his hands.

“It’s hard.” Regina replied, as she sat down next to him, putting a hand on his back. “Which is why I’m telling you to go.”

“What?” David asked, clearly confused.

“Go, find your pirate.” She said “Be happy, for a little while, you can join me in the miserable marriage club later.”

“My wedding is in four days.” David replied “I don’t even know where he is.”

“Yes, you do.” She said “I wish I’d listened to my heart when I still had the chance.”

David smiled at her and palmed his sister’s face in the palm of his hands, before bumping their foreheads together. “I’m gonna stay right here with you.” He said “Besides, we need to figure out what you’re going to wear tomorrow, when Emma White is coming.”

“You’re not funny.”

“I’m not trying to be.” David said “How is a miserable queen supposed to be a good queen?” He didn’t expect Regina to answer. “Besides, that old goat is bound to perish sooner rather than later.”

Regina gasped “That is the king you’re talking about!” She exclaimed.

“Sorry, your majesty.” David said “Forgive me for my ill-talking regarding your lovely husband.”

She gave a formal nod towards him and put her hands in her lap “Apology accepted.”

 

The next day was almost as hectic as the day of Regina’s wedding, with guests coming in from all over the realm, including Abigail and her brother and father. David greeted them all with a bow and smile towards the king and the prince, and kissed Abigail’s hand.

She was actually polite while greeting him back, and David felt a little glimmer of hope, even though he knew it would be short lived. It was hard knowing that he would spend the rest of his life with someone who was definitely not his true love. He was starting to understand though, that that would be the case for Abigail too.

He was excited to see some of his old friends again, he hadn’t seen Phillip in a while and Graham had escorted his father and Cora. David was most excited about seeing the White’s though, or most importantly, Emma. When they arrived in their carriage, his fake smile was quickly replaced with a real one.

David bowed gracefully towards Robin and Snow, offering them both a proper greeting, not caring about how Cora was glaring at him. She clearly did not care for the family, but then again, she didn’t even care about her own.

Emma soon joined them, after her father had helped her outside. She smiled at David, and he smiled back, before kissing her hand. “Lovely to see you again, Princess Emma.” He said.

“Likewise.” She answered, and looked to her grinning mother. “Thank you for your invitation and congratulations on your birthday.”

“Thank you.” He said “I am very excited.”

He wondered where Regina was. She had only briefly talked to him in the corridors that morning, before he was rushed to meet his guests.

Then onto the next carriage. It was like he barely acknowledged the people he talked too. David knew he should make more of an effort, he might need their support in the years to come, but his minds was elsewhere. Ever since he had left Hook, or Killian as he preferred to think of him as, his mind kept drifting to where he might be. Did he get his ship back? Was he alive? Was he stranded on an island somewhere or off on a glorious adventure?

Had he met someone else?

Regina had this perfect plan worked out. She was going to avoid every single one of her brother’s guest and fake an awful cough before going to bed and pretending to be sick. She wanted to see Emma more than anything and she also wanted to be there for David, but she was afraid of what her mother might do if she found out just how much she wanted Emma White. Cora was dangerous, and no one knew that better than Regina.

Her plan came to a crippling halt though, when she literally crashed into the young princess on her way into the stables.

“Oh, sorry.” She said, scrambling to get her act together. Emma was just as beautiful as she remembered, with her hair put up in a simple ponytail and she had on a gorgeous red dress that really stuck out among all the horses and hay.

“No, I should apologize.” Emma said “I can be so clumsy sometime.”

Regina just nodded, before breezing past Emma, avoiding the pull in her heart that told her to turn back around.

“So, it’s been a while.” Emma said, while she was petting one of the horses awkwardly. “Sorry if I’m trespassing, I just wanted to check on our horses.”

“It’s my brother’s stables.” Regina said “It’s not my place to say anything.”

It was so hard to say or do anything when it came to Emma White. Sometimes she wished that she had never met the princess. Regina sighed heavily when she turned around to see Emma standing there like she had just been run over by a carriage. She looked hurt.

“Is something wrong, Regina?” Emma asked.

Everything was wrong. She was married to a man she couldn’t stand, her brother was getting married and would soon suffer the same faith, her mother wanted power more than she wanted Regina to be happy, and there was no way Regina could ever have true love.

“No, I’m fine.” Regina answered politely. “I was just going on a ride.”

“What about your brother’s party?” Emma asked.

“I don’t think I’m going.” Regina replied. “I’m not feeling well.”

Emma snickered at that then as she took a step closer “But you can go on a ride?” She said “You can’t lie to me, Regina.”

“Are you accusing a queen of lying?” Regina snapped back, she didn’t want to and she regretted it immediately. When she had met Emma, she had been so much younger and there had still been a glimmer of hope in her heart, that she could somehow escape the marriage or at least find a way to be happy despite it.

She had felt it gradually since then, how her heart had grown colder, she she had always been afraid of turning into her mother, and now…

“Why are you acting like this?” Emma asked “I though you and I-“

“You thought what?” Regina asked “I am married.”

“I know that.” Emma replied “But you’re not happy, and you deserve to be.”

Regina scoffed, because she was so tired of people telling her that. She deserved to be happy, but why did that even matter when there wasn’t any possibility of her ever being truly happy?

“You don’t know anything about my life.” Regina said.

“I know you feel the same about me as I do for you.” Emma said “My mother taught me that even believing in the possibility of a happy ending is a powerful thing.”

Regina was speechless then, a part of her had wished that Emma hadn’t felt the same way, at least then there wouldn’t be any hope for them and Regina could try to move on.

Before she could say anything though, Emma palmed her cheeks and her mouth was on Regina’s. There it was, that instant connection she had been dreaming of for as long as she could remember. The fireworks, and the ache in her heart that hurt so much, but she never wanted it to stop. A tear escaped her eye, and then suddenly all the torches in the stable lit on fire. Regina gasped and pulled away from Emma, the same shocked expression was on the princess’ face.

Regina closed her eyes and breathed out and slowly the flames disappeared and once again the only light inside was the one coming from the sun that was setting outside.

“You have magic too?” Emma asked, and Regina just shook her head.

“No!” She answered, not even grasping the fact that Emma too had magic. “How could you do that? I have a husband!”

“Regina, please…”

“Stay away from me!” Regina yelled and pushed Emma further away, before taking two steps back herself.

Emma, with tears in her eyes, nodded once before grabbing the skirt of her dress and running away.

It was hours later, and it had gotten both dark and cold outside when David found her. She was sitting with her back against the wall, crying her eyes out.

David sighed heavily before he walked over to her, and crouched in front of her “Hey, beautiful.” He said and Regina looked up at him, as he palmed his cheek and dried her tears.

“What are you doing here?” Regina asked “You should be at your party.”

“What’s a party without my sister?” David replied “Your mother was looking for you, and after running into Emma, I figured it was best that I found you first.”

Regina’s breath hitched when David mentioned Emma’s name. She felt so horrible, that she was almost nauseous. “Was she mad?”

“More like devastated, what did you say to her?”

“Not Emma.” Regina said on a breath. “My mother.”

David was a little taken back by that. He knew the history that Regina had with her mother, and he knew that no matter if she was a queen or not, Regina would always be afraid of Cora. David couldn’t blame her, but he didn’t believe that she didn’t care about Emma either.

“She looked more annoyed than mad.” David said “But seriously, Regina, you can’t let your mother do this to you anymore.”

“She kissed me.”

“Your mother?” David asked with a gasp, and Regina rolled her eyes at him.

“Emma.”

“Oh.” David said “Well that’s good at least, I was starting to wonder how terrible your relationship really was.”

“With me and Emma?”

“No, you and your mother.” David just shook his head and held up his hands in defeat “Let’s start over, what happened with you and Emma?”

“She likes me.” Regina said “And she kissed me.”

David grinned hugely then and grabbed Regina’s hands in his “Regina!”

Regina pulled her hands back and sniffled again, as she angrily tried to stop the tears from escaping her eyes. “I’m married.”

“He’s getting really old though.” David said and Regina couldn’t help but laugh at that.

“I can’t expect Emma to wait for me.” Regina said.

“I don’t think you even have to ask.” David replied, trying to keep his voice soothing and comforting. “How many times have you seen her since the night you met? Once, twice?”

Regina nodded “She sometimes accompanied her parents to political dinners, and such.” She said “Leopold was there though so we didn’t get to talk much.”

“My point is.” David began “That she’s already waiting for you.”

“David…” Regina breathed out as she closed her eyes. “I don’t know how to love very well.”

“That’s your mother’s doing.” David said “And you know how to love, trust me.”

“It’s not the same…”

“True love isn’t easy.” David said, as he looked up at her with a smile on his face “But it must be fought for, for once you find it, it can never be replaced.”

Regina just looked at him for a moment before she got up on her feet and he quickly followed. “The pirate.”

He shook his head “I can’t stop thinking about him.”

“Then go.” Regina said, as she put her palms on his cheeks and made him look at her, straight in the eye “Go find him before it’s too late.”

“I can’t, I-“

“David, go.” She said “At least give yourself the opportunity of a happy ending, you will still be the heir to the throne and one day you will be a great king.”

“Regina-“

“But believe me.” She said “You won’t be able to be the best that you can do, knowing that you let the love of your life go.”

“Maybe you should take your own advice.” David said as he pushed Regina’s hair away from her face and kissed her forehead.

“Maybe I will.” Regina said “David, go.”

“They will come after me.”

“Then you better get one hell of a head-start.”

Chapter Text

David had promised himself years ago that it would always be Regina and him against the rest of the world, which was why he was feeling awful as he pushed his horse to go as fast as possible through the woods.

He had to keep reminding himself that Regina had been the one to insist that he’d go find Killian before it was too late. David tried to picture his future if he didn’t, and it was not the kind of life he wanted to live. He’d seen how Regina’s light had faded a little more each time he’d gone to visit her, and he knew that Regina wanted better for him. She had been right, it wouldn’t be possible for him to be a good king while being married to someone he could never love. No matter what, Regina was his big sister and she did feel responsible for him. David wished he could do the same for her as she’d just done for him.

David tried to figure out how long it had been since he’d left the castle. His mind went back to Regina, and thought about what her mother might do to her if she found out that Regina knew of his escape, it made his stomach turn.

He couldn’t go back though, they must have already realized he was missing and the damage was already done. David knew what he had to do, and his heart actually ached with the need to find his pirate. Feeling foolish, he wished he’d never let him go in the first place.

David wasn’t sure how he would be able to get to the maritime kingdom without being noticed, but he knew a lot of back roads that were less travelled and he hoped no one would recognize him. He wasn’t even sure if Hook would still be there or if he was out in the sea looking for his ship. David just knew that Hook had been headed for Eric’s kingdom and that was all he had to go by.

**

Regina was pacing back and forth in her bedroom which her mother had restricted her to, and was about to scream with frustration. She wished with all of her heart that David had managed to escape. Almost all of the royalty in all of the kingdoms had travelled to her stepfather’s kingdom to attend the wedding, so it should be easy enough to cross the borders. The only problem was that both Midas, George and Leopold had sent out their knights to find him. On the bright side though, no one wanted to alarm the guests that something was wrong, so they had tried to do it as discreetly as possible, which slowed down the process of finding David.

There was a knock on the door and Regina hurried over to it and practically flew it open, hoping there was someone who had news about her brother. She was more than shocked to see Emma Snow on the other side of the door.

“What are you doing here?” she asked, not even understanding how Emma had gotten past the guards her mother had put outside her door.

“I wanted to see if you were okay.” Emma said “Something is going on and I was worried.”

Regina almost dragged Emma into her bedroom and closed the door behind her, only briefly making sure that no one had seen her.

“How did you get here?”

“Mom and dad helped me distract the guards.” Emma answered with a smile “They were worried too.”

“So everyone knows what happened?”

Emma shook her head “No one knows actually, my parents just have a certain eye for noticing these kinds of things.” She said and took a step closer to Regina “So what has happened?”

Regina sighed and rubbed her sweaty palms on her dress, she wasn’t sure if she should tell Emma or not. It wasn’t that she didn’t trust the princess, but she was already too involved, and Regina couldn’t even dare to think about what had happened earlier that night.

“He doesn’t love her.”

“I know that.” Emma answered at once, knowing exactly what Regina was saying. “So where did he go?”

“To find the one he does love.” Regina answered, shrugging her shoulders as she felt a shudder go through her body. It was something about being near Emma, like the way her magic had flared up when Emma had kissed her.

“So you think that your brother deserves to be happy and loved…” Emma said, her voice a bit sad and Regina could feel her tense up. “But you don’t?”

There was a hundred different ways Regina could have responded to that, she was already married, she was the older sister and felt protective over David; she would no longer be queen… All these things Regina could have said, but all she heard was that Emma had basically told Regina that she loved her.

So instead of arguing, instead of trying to make Emma see reason, or tell Emma to leave like her mother had told her, for once Regina followed her heart and without even realizing what was happening, her lips were on Emma’s. This time Regina took the time to appreciate it, how soft Emma’s lips were and how warm her skin felt beneath her fingertips. This was how kissing someone was supposed to feel like.

When Emma carefully pulled away and rested her forehead on Regina’s, Regina let out a breath and chuckled. “At least nothing caught on fire.”

“Well, no.” Emma whispered with a similar laugh, but looked up slightly to meet Regina’s eyes “But…”

Regina didn’t understand what Emma was indicated until the princess looked down at their feet and Regina followed her gaze and noticed they were floating. “Oh!” She exclaimed before they both hit the ground with a small ‘thump’.

“It’s okay.” Emma said on a grin, as she steadied herself on Regina. “Someone once told me that love is the most powerful magic of all.”

“But I can’t-“ Regina started, but Emma just shushed her soothingly and brushed her hair away from her face.

“I won’t tell anyone.” Emma said “But you are amazing, your magic is well beyond anything I ever felt.”

“Does your family know?” Regina asked, because she was curious. Magic was something that was well discussed in most kingdoms, some kings thought it only brought darkness and pain and had banned it, others saw it as a light of hope.

Regina didn’t know much about Cora’s magic, only that she used it with cruelty and despair. She briefly remembered her own father telling her that her mother’s magic had been channeled through anger.

Over the years, Regina’s magic had grown stronger than she ever could have imagined when she had first discovered it. She had never asked for it, and when David had found out when they were still children, she’d freaked out and cried her eyes out. David had only stared at her with a puzzled look before shrugging his shoulders “so that’s why you were able to beat me yesterday?”

Regina had been so distraught that she had almost forgotten how she had been able to knock both David and Phillip to the ground while they had been playing knights the previous day.

“No.” she had said, sniffling and drying her eyes “You just had terrible footwork.”

David had laughed then “Tell you what.” He’d said “You don’t tell anyone that you beat me, and I won’t tell anyone about this, okay?”

After that they had practically never talked about it, and David had kept his words. As she grew older, Regina had just blocked the entire thing out and each time she had accidentally used magic, she just pretended it had never happened. Basically, she had been living in denial, which was probably she had been so good at playing the role and being the good daughter.

Emma nodded at once, and Regina wasn’t surprised, her parents seemed like the kind of people that would love unconditionally.

“Apparently I was floating my toys in the air when I was a child.” Emma said “My mother thinks it’s because I was a product of true love.”

Regina took a deep breath and smiled at her “I can assure you that I am not, I don’t know why I’m like this.” She looked down at the ground. “You’re lucky, my mother would kill me.”

“I’d never let her hurt you.” Emma tried to reassure her, but the thought only made Regina feel sick to her stomach, that Emma might get hurt trying to protect her.

“You have to leave.” Regina said “If she knew you were here, I don’t know what she’d do.”

“I’m not leaving you with everything that’s going on right now!” Emma argued, and even though the gesture was sweet, Regina actually got a little annoyed with her.

“Well then, try to think of it this way.” She started “The last thing I need is to worry about you and your family as well, please go, I’ll try to find you tomorrow.”

“Let’s hope that we wake up to a wedding being cancelled.” Emma said, before turning around and headed for the door.

When Regina let out a breath she didn’t know she had been holding, though, Emma suddenly ran back to her and kissed her quick on the lips on more time. “Tomorrow.” She said “I can wait.”

Regina understood what she meant and felt like her heart was growing twice in size at the words. Maybe David had been right, maybe it wasn’t too late for her after all.

Chapter Text

King George had told all the guests that the prince had fallen sick and that the wedding was postponed until he was feeling better. Regina wasn’t sure if everyone believed that, and she especially noticed the look that the Snow’s, Eric and Phillip had on their faces when the news had been given. Regina had kept her head low, so she wouldn’t give anything away.

Later, her mother had practically dragged her into her room and sternly telling the servants to get out. Regina decided, for once, she wasn’t going to let her mother intimidate her. She would not give up David’s position, no matter what. Not that she could, she had no idea where he might be.

“Tell me where he is, right now.” She had said, looking Regina straight in the eye. The look Cora was giving her, gave her chills through her entire body, and the braid on her head suddenly felt too tight. She never knew if it was her mother’s magic or just her presence that always made her feel like this.

Regina had told her mother how she hated it when Cora used her magic against her, but her mother had only scoffed and promised her that she would stop using magic when Regina started being an obedient daughter. Well, now Regina was in an unhappy marriage with a man she didn’t love, and queen of a kingdom she rarely got to see where the people associated her with her husband, who was not a great ruler. All because Cora had arranged it. Because Regina was a good daughter. She knew now that what David had told her was true, she would never be good enough for Cora.

“I don’t know.” Regina said “I didn’t even know he was missing until you told me.”

“Lies!” Her mother said, but quickly regained her posture and offered her daughter an ice-cold smile. “I am trying to help you, Regina.”

“Help me?” Regina asked “All you ever do is hurt me.”

That was the most honest she’d been with her mother in a long time. The days where she would criticize other people to make Cora proud, or where she would let her mother emotionally and physically abuse her was over.

“Whatever are you talking about, dear?” Cora asked “You are my daughter, and you are a queen now thanks to me.”

“No.” Regina said, shaking her head “I am a queen now, thanks to me.” She took a step towards her mother “I am an unhappy queen thanks to you.”

Her mother’s expression changed then, and Regina wanted nothing more than to run away. Instead she clenched her fists and held her head high, if David was willing to give up everything for true love then so could she.

“This is about Snow White’s daughter.” Cora said, and another chill made it’s way down Regina’s spine and she gasped. She immediately regretted it though, as it gave away the truth. “ I knew it.” She gritted out.

Now Regina was terrified on a completely new level. Her safety was one thing; Emma’s was a completely different story. She couldn’t show this to Cora though, she’d learned by now that she would not find compassion in her mother on this subject.

“Why do you hate the Snow’s so much?” Regina asked “What did they ever do to you?”

“They are a family of outlaws, they have no right to a throne, yet alone a kingdom.” Cora said, but Regina guessed there was more to the story, but that was not the issue now.

“Why do you even care?” Regina asked “You are a queen, and I have officially secured our future, why can’t you just be happy?”

“Don’t be so naïve.” Cora had answered “It’s time you grow up.”

“I just want love!”

“Love makes you weak.” Cora had said, and with one last subtle threat, she left Regina alone to her own worries.

Three days had passed and Regina had been more stressed these last few days than she had been during the days of her wedding and coronation. David was still missing, and Regina was silently thanking the universe for that. She only hoped that he was okay.

 

David was absolutely exhausted, he’d barely had the opportunity to sleep a few hours a night. He had to make sure that the knights that were without a doubt, chasing after him, wouldn’t catch up with him before he got to Hook.

To be honest, he hadn’t really thought his whole plan through. If he found Hook, then what would he do? Run away with him? Would Hook even let him? He couldn’t just abandon his kingdom and return when his father had passed to claim his right? David wanted to have faith that true love could solve everything, but right now it was becoming difficult. He didn’t even know if Hook felt as he did, even though he was fairly sure that he did.

He was finally in the maritime kingdom and after what he’d heard in town, prince Eric had returned from his own kingdom because the prince had been too ill to go through with his wedding. He’d scoffed when he’d heard the news, but was also happy that that meant that his father could impossibly have the entire royal guard after him.

David had searched high and low, luckily for him, the places where one would find a man like Hook, was not the kind of places where people would easily recognize a prince. His disguise was fairly good, and he kept his head low. All he wanted was a proper meal and a good night’s sleep. Slumping against the wall of an old tavern, he almost felt like giving up. What had he been thinking risking all of this for a man he would probably never find?

I will always find you!

That’s what he’d told Hook, now it all seemed impossible. Just about when he was about to give up, there was a tap on his shoulder.

“Fancy a drink, love?”

He recognized the voice before he even had a chance to turn around, and when he did, and saw the dashing grin on the pirate’s face, he let out a high laugh and threw his arm around the other man. David didn’t care that it drew some attention to them, or that it might be an unexpected gesture. The other man didn’t seem to mind though, as he let out a breathless laugh as well and patted David’s back a few times before pulling away and holding him at arm’s length.

“Now, what’s a prince like you doing in a place like this?” he asked, and David was just so happy that he’d found him that he responded without even thinking about it.

“Does your offer for an adventure still stand?” He asked and Hook looked at him with a gleam in his eyes before letting out another laugh and putting an arm around David’s neck and leading him into the shady tavern.

It was almost unreal how much the pirate had changed, but in some ways, he hadn’t changed at all. Hook was still as dashing as ever, and his clothes were almost identical to what he had been wearing the last time David has seen him. Still, something seemed to have shifted with him. In a lot of ways, he seemed a lot more at ease, almost happy.

Hook told stories which got louder with each drink he downed, but David didn’t really care. Hook had assured him that no one would bother him, and certainly no one would recognize the young prince. David hadn’t even been to the maritime kingdom since he was a child, when Eric’s father had re-married, so there was little to no-chance that he wouldn’t be recognized.

“You got your ship back, then?” David asked, with a smile on his face. Hook nodded before re-filling David’s glass.

“Aye.” He replied “Did you doubt that I would?”

“I figured Blackbeard didn’t stand a chance.” David said, realizing how completely awful he was at flirting and wanted to throw himself into the ocean. Before Hook could get the opportunity to laugh at him, he quickly changed the subject. “Then what are you doing back here?” he asked “I hardly think that a man of your reputation can easily enter the shores here?”

Hook shook his head and scooted closer to David, which made his breath hitch. “I came here to reclaim something of value.”

“You have a tendency to do that, no matter how much danger it puts you in.” David answered “You’re aware of that right?”

Hook grinned then, before he leaned back a little to get something out of his pocket, he then took David’s hand in his and planted something in his palm. David recognized the feeling at once and his mouth dropped open as he looked down to see his ring with the family crest on it.

“What-“

“I sold it for safe passage.” Hook said “But once I got my ship and my crew, I came back to reclaim it for you.”

“For me?” David asked “You were planning on giving it back?”

Hook nodded “Aye” he said “I told you the first time we met that I believe in good form, I wanted to repay you for helping me.”

David didn’t know what to say at that, at first. He just looked at Hook and smiled before he put the ring back in his own pocket, away from prying eyes, and leaned even closer to the pirate. “And how exactly were you planning on getting the ring back to me?”

Hook bit his bottom lip with a beautiful gleam in his eyes, and coughed once before answering. “I heard about your wedding.” Hook said “And I was hoping that maybe you’d set sails towards another cause, here.”

“What cause would that be?” David asked and Hook just grinned sheepishly at him, and even though he had a pretty good idea, it would just kill him if the pirate didn’t want the same thing.

David swallowed heavily before gathering the courage to try to ask what he had wanted to since he had left home, but he found it hard to find the words.

“Please tell me I wasn’t wrong about this.” Was all he was able to say, hoping that Hook understood what he was referring to.

It took less than a moment for Hook’s lips to crash into his.

David had to admit that he hadn’t imagined a true love’s kiss to take place in a dark cavern full of drunken guests who all smelled like fish and ale, but it was still the most amazing feeling he’d ever felt. David had only kissed two other people in his life, the princess Rapunzel had kissed him once when they had been playing as children and then there was Abigail.

Kissing Killian was completely different, his stubble felt rough and his lips were dry, but as his lips parted slightly and the other man stroked David’s cheek with his hand, it was simply perfect. When Hook pulled apart, David was breathless, even though it had only lasted a few seconds.

“Told you I was looking for an adventure.” David replied. “You seemed like the perfect fit.”

Hook hummed quietly then, and started making circles on the back of David’s hand with his hook. It sent shivers down David’s spine, and made his breath hitch.

“That’s all this is?” Hook asked, and David shook his head.

“No, that’s not all this is.” David replied quietly. “I want all my adventures to be with you.”

“You’re to be king.” Hook said, and David was a little surprised. He knew that Hook valued honor and good form, but he didn’t think Hook would have tried to talk him out of going with him.

“I know.” David said “And there’s nothing that my father can do to take away my right to the throne, he’d never stain the family name like that.”

Hook bit his lip then, like he was thinking about the situation and trying to figure out what to do. “Your sister.” He said “You told me that she was the reason you could not leave with me when I first asked you to.”

David nodded “She was the one who told me to go after you.” He said “I just hope she considers finding a happy ending as well.”

“I’m your happy ending?” Hook asked “I’m afraid I cannot live up to your expectations of me, little prince.”

David hated that nickname that Killian had given him. He was a prince, and yes, he was aware that he was only eighteen, but he knew what he wanted and had experienced enough in his life to know what mattered and what was important.

“Tell me you feel the same way.” David said “That’s all I want from you.”

“I do.” Hook replied “Or else I wouldn’t have risked my neck to see you again.”

David smirked then, and leaned back slightly, but put one hand on Hook’s knee. “So getting me my ring back wasn’t all about your honor, then?”

Hook shook his head “No.” he said with a grin. “I have a tendency of chasing after the things I want.”

“Me too.”

On the outside, Captain Hook was everything David was supposed to hate. He was a pirate, an outlaw and a known criminal in David’s kingdom and throughout the land. Hook was known for his thieving ways, and for victories in battle against other vessels. On paper, he was everything David had been trained from birth to despise.

David was convinced that this was true love, so he had fought against every fiber in his being and his father’s voice in the back of his head and learned to get to know the pirate. Now, Killian Jones everything that David knew he loved. He was courageous, honorable and because of him, David had learned not to judge a book by it’s cover. They had a lot in common; something David never would have guessed when he had first met the other man.

The Jolly Roger was hidden near the shore by the forest, and the crew was waiting for their captain’s return. It was about a day’s ride away, and David was enjoying every second of it. Hook had bought them two horses, mostly because David had insisted that he would not steal.

“You’re a bad influence on me, little prince.” Hook had said with a smirk and a raise of his eyebrows.

“I think the word you are looking for is ‘good’.” David had answered, before dragging a grinning Hook by the collar and kissing him.

“To be honest, I don’t know what I’d do if you hadn’t wanted me back.” David said, it would be dark in a few hours, but thankfully, they were getting close to the shore. “I gave up everything to find you.”

“Aye.” Hook said before stopping his horse, and jumping off.

“What are you doing?” David asked, as he too got off his horse. Hook scratched the back of his neck with his hook, before biting his bottom lip.

“I am nothing but a pirate.” Hook said “You have a princess waiting for you back home.”

“You’re my home.” David insisted as he grabbed Hook’s hand and brought it to his chest.

“No, I am not.” Hook answered. “The Enchanted Forest is your home, and mine is the Jolly Roger.” He said “And believe me, love, if it was up to me, I’d want nothing more than you to come with me.”

David shook his head in confusion “If there’s one thing I’ve realized is that this means nothing without you” he said “We can go, we can escape all of this.”

“That’s not what you want.” Hook answered. It looked like he was struggling with the words, but David could not for the life of him figure out why Hook was acting like this now.

“What are you talking about?” David asked “I wouldn’t have come here if I didn’t.”

Hook smiled sadly at him and carefully bumped their foreheads together. “You were born to be king, love.” He whispered “And you will be the greatest king that your kingdom has ever seen.”

“Why are you doing this?” David asked, gripping Hook’s coat tight and bringing the man impossibly closer. “I thought you loved me.”

“I do.” Hook replied, “I’ve known since the first time I saw you, which is why I can’t ask you to give up everything for me.”

“You’re everything to me.” David replied “If you could see yourself as I see you, you’d know that.”

Hook laughed a beautiful and broken laugh, as he put his hand on the back of David’s neck and pulled him in for a kiss. David sneaked his hand around Hook’s waist and held on tight, he didn’t care what Hook thought about himself, all David wanted was him.

“I don’t care what you say.” David said softly, once they broke apart “I’m not letting you go again.”

“I never regret anything, Dave.” Hook said, and David realized he liked that nickname. “And I’ll never regret you, we found each other againn, and if it’s meant to be, then we’ll find each other once more.”

“No.” David answered stubbornly.

“If you run away with me.” Hook said, before swallowing, but keeping a straight face. “You will wreck the pact your kingdom has made with king Midas’.”

David wanted to say that he didn’t care, but that would mean that he didn’t care about his kingdom, which he did.

“There’s finally peace, love.” Hook said “And all though I would love to escape all of it with you, I couldn’t be the reason why you’d one day have to return with the weight on your shoulders that you left your people behind.”

“But I love you.” Was all David was able to say, and Hook smiled and kissed him again.

When Hook pulled away again, David chased the man’s lips with his own, feeling like he might die if he ever let him go. Hook brought him impossibly closer and held on, and David breathed him in, in every way, he could.

“I can’t marry her, Killian.” David said on a breath, his forehead still resting on Hook’s. “I would never be able to live with myself if I did.”

Hook shushed him then, trying to calm the other man down, and rubbed his good arm up and down David’s back in a soothing matter.

“You still have to go back, love.” Hook told him, his voice betraying him. “Listen, I don’t believe in a happy ending for myself, but if I am yours as you say I am-“

“You are.” David said, cutting him off. Hook smiled.

“Then we will find each other again and we will be together.” Hook said “But now you have a responsibility to yourself, and your kingdom.”

David didn’t want to listen to him, he knew what he had given up by chasing after Hook and he was prepared to deal with the consequences. It would be so much easier if Hook would just listen to him and they could run away, possibly forever. But he knew that what the pirate was telling him was true, he needed to do this, and with the possibility of seeing his true love again, maybe he could be the king that he wanted to be. But he could not be king of a kingdom in distress, caused by his own actions.

“If I do this.” David said “Will you do something for me?”

Hook brought his good hand to David’s cheek then and cupped it carefully “Anything.”

Chapter Text

Knowing that he would soon have to leave Hook behind, felt wrong in every fiber of David’s body. He needed to remind himself time and time again that he was doing the right thing, to have hope, and that someday Hook would return to his arms.

They were in the village near the coastline where The Jolly Roger was anchored, spending one last night together, and David spent every moment he could savoring the other man and memorizing everything.

They had were staying in a room above an old tavern and David was shivering with both anticipation and nervousness as Hook kissed his way down David’s body. As the pirate whispered words of love and commitment in David’s ear, David knew that even if it wasn't in his nature, Killian would wait for him. Hook entwined their fingers, and David buried his face in Hook’s neck.

Hook would kiss the corner of his mouth and ask him if he was okay and David would nod almost desperately as he brought their lips back together, never wanting Hook to let him go. This was love, and it was real, and no one would ever be able to take that away from them.

At least that was what David had thought.

The next day, Hook grinned sheepishly at David as he was caught staring at Hook’s backside while he was getting dressed.

“Shut up.” David had said, and Hook had just held up his arms in defense.

“I didn’t say anything, love.”

David moved into kiss him, but before Hook had a chance to meet him halfway, the door burst open and two knights came crashing inside.

“You majesty!”

Oh no.

Hook got his sword out, but David was too shocked to react, this could not be happening right now. More knights came rushing inside, some in golden colors, other in black, white or silver. Suddenly there were knights yanking Hook away, as he was unable to fight with four arrows pointed towards him.

“No, don’t hurt him!” David said desperately, as he tried to get away from the death grip that the golden knights had him in.

“I’m sorry, David.” A familiar voice said and David turned around to see Graham looking at him with sympathetic eyes. David felt his stomach turn into knots and his throat and mouth going dry as they took Killian away.

The moment David realized he was heading towards his father’s castle, and not his sister’s, which was a lot closer, he realized something was terribly wrong. As he was thrown into the council room, and forced to his knees, he wanted nothing more than to beg someone, anyone who would listen, to tell him what they’d done to Killian. At least that was until he heard his sister’s desperate voice calling out for him.

“David!”

He looked up to see her standing in front of Cora, who had an iron grip on her shoulder. King Leopold was standing next to her, and King Midas, Abigail and Arthur was a few feet away. David couldn’t see his father, which worried him.

He didn’t dare to ask what was happening, sure that someone would tell him how badly he’d screwed up soon enough.

“You’re a disgrace to this family.” Cora said through gritted teeth, and the devastated look on Regina’s face made David wonder if she had given him up, but he refused to believe that until he’d had the chance to talk to her.

“For not being a tyrant like you?” David asked, knowing that it was now or never. “For not being hated by my people? Is that what you call being a disgrace?”

“You broke our arrangement.” Midas said as he took a step forward “You humiliated my name, my daughter.”

David took a deep breath and swallowed heavily before meeting Abigail’s eyes “Princess, I apologize for any harm I may have caused you.” He said “I never wanted to hurt you, but I had to follow my heart, as I am sure that you would want to follow yours.”

“My daughter is honorable.” Midas said before Abigail was given an opportunity to speak for herself. “She would never bring this kind of filth to her family as you have done.”

“You ran off with a pirate.” Cora said, as she tried to study his expression, before her eyes rested on something that David had desperately wanted to hide.

“What is that?” She asked, and when David didn’t answer she walked over to him and yanked his hand towards her face.

David smirked at her “It’s a wedding ring.” He said, and then the whole room, except for Cora, let out surprised gasps.

“You married him?” Regina asked, unable to keep quiet as she heard the news. David looked to her and nodded.

“I am sorry.” He said as he looked at Abigail and her family “I was on my way back here when the knights apprehended me, I wanted to be honest with you.”

“This doesn’t change anything.” Cora said to king Midas, trying to reassure him, but David had no idea what she had meant, there was something in Regina’s eyes that made him think that his sister did though.

Cora dropped David’s hand and turned her back on him as she walked back to Regina. “As soon as your father gets here, the pirate will be hanged and you will fulfill your agreement."

“No!” David screamed, surprised by the sheer desperation and rawness of his own voice, and two guards had to hold him back so he wouldn’t try to strangle the ruthless queen.

“Silence.” Cora replied “You should be nothing but grateful that the king has been generous enough to give you one more chance to be a man of your word.”

David looked to Abigail then, for a silent prayer that she might show him some mercy, even though he knew that there was little that she could do.

“I wish to have a moment alone with my fiancé.” Abigail said, sounding as graceful as always. It was amazing how nothing seemed to graze her.

“Of course.” Leopold answered, as he gave David another stern look before leaving with Cora, and Regina was dragged along with them, mouthing a ‘sorry’ to David.

“Your brother is staying here.” Midas insisted, before he left as well, leaving David alone to plead with Abigail and her brother.

As they were left alone, he was able to get up from the floor, and swallowed again.

“A pirate over my sister?” Arthur asked, sounding furious. “I can’t believe my father is even considering letting you become her husband, you don’t deserve her.”

“You’re right, I don’t.” David said.

“So it’s true then?” Arthur asked “You love him, you’ve always loved him?”

David thought about it for a moment before breathing out and nodded “Yes, always.”

“You-“

“Oh, stop it.” Abigail cut in, sounding more annoyed than anything else. “You did your duty and married for your kingdom, Arthur.” She said “But I have seen how it has affected you, as I am sure that David has seen how it affects his sister.”

“Abigail-“

“No.” She said, taking David completely by surprise. She then took a step closer to David and told him a story he had never heard before, about a knight that Abigail was to marry, who was a victim of her father’s curse and had been turned to gold. Regina had told him that there was something more about Abigail than what met the eye, and now he finally knew what it was that had made her so cold towards him. She was heartbroken.

“I’m sorry.” David said.

“It doesn’t make up for what you did to me.” Abigail said “But I understand, I would have given up all I have for one more moment with my Frederick.”

“He’s going to die.” David said “They are going to kill him and it’s all my fault.”

“To lose the one you love by your father’s hand.” Abigail said, her facial expression showing something that David had never seen in her before. Weakness. Fear. Sadness. “It’s a faith worse than death itself.”

“Does that mean you will help me?” David asked.

Abigail nodded “I do not know what I can do, but I’ll try.”

 

Regina felt like her entire body was going into overdrive as she paced back and forth in her old room. She had no idea what was happening with David, but she knew it was bad. Most of the guests that were still staying at the castle had gone home that evening, and Regina had a feeling that her mother had sent them home because something terrible was about to happen.

She knew the White’s was still in the castle, set to leave the next morning, and Regina wanted nothing more than to see Emma one more time, especially since it could be the last time in a long time, if not forever. Regina also knew that right now, David was far worse off than she was, and she had to find a way to help him.

Her mother was ruthless, and so was her step- father and she was almost certain what faith awaited the pirate that her brother had fallen for. Regina felt a lump in her throat when she thought about how her brother would have to be a heartbroken king and how that would affect his life and how he would someday rule his kingdom.

After all, it didn’t matter if David was a little boy who was a bit scrawnier and shorter than the other children, or if he was eighteen and ready to lead a kingdom of his own. He was still her little brother and it was her responsibility to protect him. That was what family was supposed to do, and since neither of them had had very much luck in that department, it was crucial that the two of them never turned their backs on each other.

Taking a deep breath, she went over to the door and yanked it open. Two guards on the other side straightened up and looked her up and down.

“Apologies, your majesty.” One of them said “We have strict orders for you to stay in your chambers for the night.”

“I am a queen.” She said “You have no authority over me, nor can you tell me how to spend my evening.”

“Your mother said-“

“I do not care what my mother said.” Regina said, standing her ground. “Let me pass.”

The guards didn’t move, and Regina realized that it didn’t matter if she was queen of her own kingdom or not, as long as her mother was alive she would always find a way to control her and she would always be a prisoner.

It didn’t matter right now, because she was queen and she was going to be a fair one. “Fine then.” She said, as she pushed herself passed them. The moment one of them grabbed her arm though, she turned around so fast and her eyes were glowing golden almost before she could react. Before she really understood what had happened, the guards were lying unconscious on the ground.

Regina didn’t have time to think about the consequences of her actions, as she ran down the hallway. She probably should have thought of a plan before she ran off into the night to do some heroic life-saving act. As Regina rounded a corner, she realized that she knew of a few people that could help her on that front.

Luckily for her, she knew this castle better than anyone, except maybe David, and she had almost no problem finding her way while avoiding guards, servants or guests.

Snow White opened the door after just two knocks and looked very surprised when she noticed it was Regina standing on the other side.

“I’m sorry, I know it’s late.” Regina said as she nervously looked around to make sure that no one could hear or see them. “Could I come in?”

“Of course.” Snow answered as she opened the door wider and let Regina inside. Their chambers were warm and there was a fire crackling away in the fireplace.

“Regina!” Emma said happily, but clearly just as surprised as her mother. She was sitting with her father by the table, and it looked like the two of them had been playing chess before Regina had come barging in.

“Hey.” Regina said, wanting nothing more than to embrace the young princess, but she was a queen on her mission and had to keep her head straight.

“What can we do for you, your majesty?” Robin asked as he and Emma walked over to stand by Snow’s side.

“Regina, please.” Regina said, as she felt very uncomfortable at the formalities when she was about to make a very uncommon request to people she barely knew. “I need your help.”

Snow looked at her husband then, and then at her daughter, they both gave her the exact same look, and Regina could see that even though Emma looked like her mother, there was also a lot of her father in her as well.

“What can we do?” Snow asked, not even wanting to know what Regina needed help with, and it was so overwhelming to see such caring parents, and if that didn’t make Regina realize how screwed up her own family was, then nothing would.

“My brother.” Regina said “He fell in love with an outlaw.”

“Well, that was stupid.” Robin said and chuckled, clearly neither Snow nor Emma thought it was funny though as both of them rolled their eyes. “Sorry, go on.”

“It’s fine.” Regina said and offered Robin a smile “That was why the wedding was postponed, because David ran away to find him.”

“That’s the way to do it.” Robin said then, and his grin was still on his face until Snow smacked his arm, and he held up his hands in defense. “I’ll stop.”

“I don’t know what happened.” Regina said “But something bad is about to happen, I just know it.”

“Where’s David now?” Emma asked, clearly worried, and Regina secretly loved her for that.

“Probably locked up in his room as well.” Regina said “And I think Hook is in one of the cells in the dungeon.”

“Hook?” Robin asked “As in Captain Hook?”

“You know him?” Regina asked, and to be honest, she wouldn’t be surprised if their past had crossed once or twice. Not only did Robin used to be an outlaw, their kingdom now also had a coastline.

“Of course you do.” Snow said, as she stated the fact for him while rolling her eyes. Regina guessed it wasn’t the first time Snow's husband had a run-in with someone from his past life.

“I only know of him.” Robin said “And thanks for the vote of confidence, dear.”

Snow just shrugged, and Regina would have laughed if the situation itself weren’t so serious.

“I don’t mean to be rude, Regina.” Snow said “But there doesn’t seem to be anything that we can do.”

“I’m going to try to get Hook out of here.” Regina said “I know my brother, he’ll be able to face whatever my mother and the king throws his way, but he would not be able to live with himself if something happens to Hook, he’ll blame himself.”

“Well, we’ll help!” Emma said at once, before her parents had a chance to ask what exactly they would have to do to help. “Won’t we?”

Regina was pretty sure that Emma was the light of both of her parents life, because with just one looks she was able to convince both of them to join in on an insane plan.

“Of course we will.” Robin said “Your brother seems like an honorable man, even if he doesn’t strike me as the brightest.”

“Dad!”

“Robin!”

Regina couldn’t help but chuckle.

“Now I don’t mean to cause offense.” Regina said shyly “But I think you might have a little bit more experience at this sort of thing than I do.”

“No offense taken.” Robin said “After all, it was during one of these rescue missions that I met my true love.” He said before gesturing to a smiling Snow, before winking at Emma, which caused both his daughter and Regina to blush. "Well, Emma, sweetheart." he said "Pay attention, it's time for your first lesson in how to perform a dashing rescue."

Chapter Text

«What are we going to do once we get him out?» Emma asked in a whispered tone as the four of them made their way down the dark hallways of the castle.

Regina didn’t really know how to answer that. “I don’t know.” She said “I can’t even imagine my mother letting him get very far.”

“I thought you had a plan.” Robin said “I am all for breaking out the good captain, but if we get caught by your mother trying to help set one of her prisoners free, then…”

“Yes, I know.” Regina answered, knowing the consequences this could have for all of their kingdoms, titles and lives. “I appreciate you helping, but you’re right.” She said as she stopped dead in her tracks and put her hand on Emma’s arm. “I can’t let you do this.”

“Hey, we said we would help, and we will.” Emma argued.

“My mother-“

“Your mother is a liar and a tyrant.” Snow said, rather harshly, and Regina was wondering if she would ever find out what kind of history the two of them had. “She will have no problem with letting this man die, even without a fair trial, and it’s unworthy of a queen to condemn a man like that.” She said through gritted teeth. “As my daughter pointed out, we said that we will help you, and we will.

With that she strode right past the three of them and was heading towards the staircase down to the dungeons

“Fierce that one.” Robin said with a proud smirk as he followed after his wife, gesturing for Emma and Regina to do the same.

Everything seemed to be going smoothly, but as they rounded the corner at the bottom of the staircase, they were suddenly taken by surprise by four guards right in front of them, ready to set off the alarm. Regina was so taken back that she grasped for Emma’s hand without even thinking about it. The moment their fingertips touched though, it was as if a spark was set off and the guards went flying back and landed flat on their backs a few feet away.

Both Robin and Snow turned around with a look of shock on their faces, and even though Regina knew that they were aware of their daughter’s magic, they would be upset with hers, especially since they knew what her mother was doing with her own magic.

Instead Robin just scoffed “You know, back in my day we couldn’t rely on fancy magic tricks while executing a dashing rescue-“

“Dad, let’s just go!” Emma said as she pushed him in front of her, not letting him finish his poorly timed speech.

Robin and Snow was able to knock the rest of the guards out without them even noticing they were under attack, and Regina was starting to feel a lot of admiration for the White’s, especially Snow. She was the kind of queen that Regina had always wished she would turn out to be. Instead, she was just a puppet, and someone for Leopold to show around.

“Over here!” Emma shouted as she stood in front of one of the cells, grasping the iron bars with her hands. Regina immediately ran over and stood by her side.

Captain Hook wasn’t exactly the kind of person she had imagined would become her brother-in-law, but she could tell why David had fallen for him. He was handsome, and rugged, and a bit mysterious, which was exactly what kind of man David would be drawn to.

“Not that I mind the rescue, but why are you here?” Hook asked, as Snow and Robin went outside to stand guard.

“I’m Regina.” Regina said, and before she could say what that meant, a huge grin spread across the pirate’s face.

“You’re David’s sister?” Hook asked, and Regina nodded. “Beauty runs in the family then.”

“Hey!” Emma said then, clearly not too happy about the pirate’s flirtatious ways. Regina almost wanted to laugh at that, but realized that she was blushing instead.

“Not to worry Miss White.” Hook said with a wink, “She’s all yours, besides,” He said and held up his good hand, showing off his ring “I’m taken.”

“You know who I am?” Emma asked, as she looked from Regina to Hook again.

“Aye.” Hook said “Dave told me how he wished you two could be together, true love and all that.” He said, he looked down at his feet for a second though, as if his confidence was disappearing “Is he alright?”

“Yes.” Regna said with a nod “But he will be better once I get you out of here.”

“There’s only one problem.” Hook said, and Regina’s eyes fell to where he was gesturing to what was supposed to be a key hole, but there wasn’t none. “That dreaded woman that I believe to be your mother locked me in with magic.”

Regina put her hands on the locks and felt her entire body shiver with energy. She closed her eyes for a moment, so she could focus it.

“It’s blood magic.” She said, looking from Hook to Emma.

“Then you can break it, right?” Emma asked “You have the same blood.”

“Yes, in theory.” Regina almost squeaked, knowing they were probably running out of time. “I’ve never reversed magic like this before.”

“You can do it.” Emma said, before taking Regina’s hand in hers and kissing her knuckles softly before bringing their entwined fingers to her cheek “Take whatever strength you need from me.”

Regina swallowed before nodding frantically, feeling like her heart was about to burst through her chest as she looked into Emma’s eyes.

While one hand was still holding Emma’s, the other gripped the lock, and she closed her eyes. It should be hard, and it should be something that would require a lot more practice than what she had, but all it took was a breath and she felt their combined magic running through her body and then Regina could hear the click of the lock as it opened.

“Well, I’ll be damned.” Hook said, as he opened the door and let himself out. “I suppose some gratitude is in order.” He said as he offered Regina a bow and a wink.

“Don’t push it.” Emma said, and Regina realized that she liked it when Emma was a little jealous. She wasn’t as innocent as Regina had first thought.

“I owe you both my thanks.” Hook said, turning his attention to Emma.

“Someone’s coming!” Robin was suddenly shouting and Regina turned her head to see Snow and Robin running towards them.

“Bugger.” Hook said before biting his tongue “So what’s part two of this rescue?”

“Have you thought of anything yet, Regina?” Robin asked “Or are we still improvising here?”

Before Regina could answer though, Robin’s head quipped around as they heard a slight commotion before a figure made it’s way around the corner and towards them.

“David!” Hook said happily as soon as he saw who it was, and Regina let out a relieved breath.

“Killian.” David answered breathlessly as he caught up with them “Queen Snow, what are you-“ before he could finish his sentence though, he noticed the other people standing around and let out a somewhat annoyed sigh. “Regina.”

“I needed help.”

“Well, you could have gotten me, you know.” David replied. “He’s my husband after all.”

“And yet, I was the one who had to rescue his ass.”

“I was on my way.”

“You were late.”

“For goodness sake, I married a child.” Hook said, as all of them stood around wasting valuable time, listening to Regina and David bickering.

“Clearly you’re an only child.” Robin replied. “Does anyone know you’re missing?”

David turned around to face Robin then, before shaking his head “No, at least, not yet.” He said, then he walked over to Hook’s side and put his hand on Hook’s cheek.

“Are you alright?”

Hook smiled at him and put his own hand on David’s “Never better, love.” He said “All though, I must agree with your sister here, you were a bit late for the party, I was just rotting away in here, waiting for my rescue, that’s what you hero-types are supposed to be good at, isn’t it?”

“Shut up.” David said, a little annoyed that Killian was ruining the moment. “You are such an ass, you know that?”

“Well, aren’t you a regular prince Charming?” Snow said, and David puffed out a laugh.

“Apologies for the crude language, my queen.” He said, Snow smirked at him.

“You’re a married man, you know.” Hook said, raising his eyebrows. Now he was the one who was annoyed, and David had to snicker.

“So if we are all taking the time to stand here chatting…” Robin said, “Does this mean that there’s an actual plan involved now?”

“Dad!” Emma said before rolling her eyes at her father.

“Your father is right, Emma.” Snow said “It’s not like Hook can just walk through the front gates of the castle.”

They heard some more commotion then, and figured it was the guards starting to wake up. “David?” Regina asked, hoping her brother had any clue what to do. She was hoping that there was some way out of this, so that she wouldn’t have to do what she knew needed to be done.

David just shook his head.

Regina looked over to Emma with a terrified look on her face, as she knew exactly what they needed to do. She couldn’t bring herself to explain it though, so she just turned around and put her focus back on Hook and her brother.

“I’ll get him out.” Regina said “You get them back to their rooms.”

“What?” Emma asked “You can’t go alone.”

“I’m not leaving him.” David said, but then Regina looked to Hook who gave her just one look that told her what she already knew.

“David.” Regina said “I’ll get him to safety, we both know what will happen if he stays and if you leave with him, he will be hunted down and killed.”

David was biting his lip, trying not to say anything as he knew it would be too painful.

“It’s his best chance.” Regina said with pleading eyes.

“I’ll come with you.” Emma said “We’re stronger together, if your mother-“

“I can handle my mother.” Regina replied “Please, if anything happened to you, I don’t know what I’ll do, and if they find out that you helped us-“

“She’s right, sweetheart.” Robin said “Freeing their prisoner, it could be enough for Cora to declare war, she’s bloodthirsty.”

“I’m not scared of her.” Emma said, as brave as she was beautiful.

“Well, I’m scared for you.” Regina replied, and didn’t even care about who was watching as she leaned in and kissed Emma softly on the lips “Please, just go.”

“I’ll wait for you.” Emma whispered, and Regina smiled. “David?”

“I can’t let you go again.” David said, his eyes still glues to Hook’s. “I can’t.”

“This was how it was supposed to go, love.” Hook answered as he brought their foreheads together “We’ll see each other again.”

“I love you.” David whispered.

“Kinda figured that with the whole vows and rings and all that.” Hook said with a smile “I love you too.”

“I’ll find you.” David promised, and Hook nodded as he knew exactly what that meant.

“Always.”

“David, we have to go.” Snow said, as they heard more sounds from around the corner.

“Okay.” David answered before kissing Hook one last time, in what he refused to be, forever. “Wait, here.”

Hook stopped dead in his tracks and looked down to where David pulled off his wedding ring and placed in his hand. “My father tried taking it, I wouldn’t let him.” He said.

Hook just stared at it where it laid in the palm of his hand.

“I’ll want that back you know.” David said with a teary-eyed smile, and Hook smiled back.

“Don’t worry, I’ll keep it safe until we meet again.” He said and kissed the ring gently before putting it in his pocket.

“Okay, okay.” David said, trying to pull himself together, before looking back at the others. “This way.” He said as he pulled himself away from his husband and disappeared into another corridor. Emma and her parents right behind him.

Regina could almost feel her heart breaking as they walked away.

“Now, love.” Hook said and Regina turned around swiftly to look at him “Now that our better halves have run off, wanna tell me what you’re planning?”

Regina was almost impressed at how good the pirate was at reading people.

“Come on.” Was all she said as she ushered him along.

David didn’t know what to think or do as he tried to get Emma and her parents back to their rooms unnoticed, all he could think about was that the two people that mattered the most to him where now out of reach and in danger. Regina was risking a lot trying to save his husband, so he had to do whatever it took to return it by helping Emma.

“There are guards everywhere.” Robin whispered as they had failed to round yet another corner.

David cursed under his breath and wished he knew some other way of fixing things, but his mind was spinning. Then he heard the bells that warned as an alarm echo across the hallway. Oh no.

“They know he’s escaped.” David hissed. Suddenly the hallways were flooded with guards running around. Before David could react, one of them was right up in his face.

“Graham.” He breathed out.

“You majesty, what-“ He said, but then he looked over David’s shoulder to see the Snow’s, before taking in the state of their dusty clothes and worried faces. Before David could say anything, Graham grabbed his arm and ushered him into an alcove to hide them from sight.

“Graham!” Another knight shouted.

“No one here.” Graham answered calmly “I’ll check the rest of the corridor, go make sure the king is safe.”

The other knight nodded and ran off, and David let out a relieved breath. “Thank you, old friend.” He said and reached out his hand, and Graham shook it immediately.

“When are you going to stop getting into trouble, eh?” He asked, and David just shook his head and grinned.

“Bad habits, I suppose.” David replied.

“It was you then?” Graham asked “I should have known.”

“Listen, Graham.” David said and glanced over at Emma once before continuing. “Regina’s with Killian, if the guards catches her…”

“I’ll try to stall them, but David…” he said and swallowed. “Everyone is looking for him; the queen has issued a search for your sister as well.”

David nodded, feeling a little desperate suddenly. Not knowing that the hell he was supposed to do. “I need you to do something for me.”

“Anything.”

David grinned “Careful, the last time someone promised me that, they ended up marrying me.”

“Almost anything.” Graham replied as he cocked his head to the side.

“I need you to get Emma and her parents back to their quarters.” He said “Unseen.”

“What!” Emma exclaimed “David?”

“Just trust me, please?”

Emma nodded “I trust you.” She said and took a step towards him “Please get her back to me.”

David looked to Graham one more time, before he started running down the corridors, his heart so heavy in his chest that he was afraid he might not even make it. That he would sink into the ground and drown himself in his own desperation.

He did make it though, and all but crashed through the doors of the throne room where his father and Cora was more than surprised to see him.

“David, what on earth-“

“You have to call off this man-hunt!” David all but growled at them.

Cora just looked bored at the command, as she turned to look at her husband “You see what I mean, he’s completely changed because of that pirate.”

“No.” David said on a breath as he shook his head and walked towards them with steady steps. “I am done letting you poison our lives.”

Our lives?” Cora asked.

“You have stood in the way of Regina’s happiness her whole life and I am tired of it.” David spat out, not sure if he had ever felt an anger this strong before. “You have no right-“

“I have every right!” George yelled back at him. “I am the king and you are my son.”

“How does that in any way give you the right to ruin my life!” David was raging, not even thinking about what he was saying, just letting it all out. “Regina and I always do whatever you to ask of us, and as the heir to the throne I will do whatever I can to ensure the best for the kingdom.” David said before taking a breath “But I will not marry Abigail, I know that we can come to an agreement without the marriage.”

“You took a vow the day you asked her to marry you, I will not have you spoil our family name more than you already have.” George said sternly, but David was not budging. It didn’t matter though, because before he had a chance to say anything else, someone else came barging through the door.

It was two or three guards that David didn’t know, who was practically dragging Regina into the room.

“I am a queen, I demand you let me go this instance!” She shouted as she pulled her arms away from the guards before looking up and seeing a surprised David along with the king and her mother.

“We act on the king’s orders.” Said the guard before stepping back.

Regina looked from her mother to David, probably wondering what he had told them and what was going to happen.

“We found her not far from the east entrance.” The guard said “The pirate was nowhere to be found.”

David tried his best not to show any weakness and smile at that, instead he tried reading the expression on his sister’s face, but for the first time for as long as he could remember, he didn’t stand a chance.

“Where is he, Regina?” Cora asked as she walked over to her daughter. The air suddenly felt colder and David felt sick to his stomach by the look his step-mother was giving Regina. He glanced over at his father who was casually taking in the scene, not even flinching. God, David hated him. He never realized it was possible to hate his own father that much, but he hadn’t been his family in years.

“He’s safe.” Regina answered “From you and your insane agenda.”

“He was to be hanged!” George shouted. “How could you disrespect us like this?”

“You cannot take a man’s life with no fair trial or grounds!” David argued.

“He was a pirate.” George said then and marched over to David until he was all up in his face.

“So that’s why we are here and not in Regina’s kingdom?” David asked with a cold smirk around his lips “So you could get away with taking my husband’s life so easily?”

“You are a disgrace.”

“I may be a disgrace to you.” He said before looking to Cora “And you.” He said “But the people love me more than they fear you, and that will be your downfall.”

“Are you threatening me?” Cora asked, but David refused to answer.

“Leave him alone, mother.” Regina said, and then Cora looked away from David and offered her daughter a sickeningly sweet smile.

“Guards, bring them in.” Cora said then, and both David and Regina raised their eyebrows in confusion as they turned their heads towards the entrance doors.

Regina’s heart sank when she saw the Snow’s being escorted into the room by the guards.

Snow was the first to speak when she saw the scene in front of her. “Cora.” She nearly spat out as she tugged her arm away from the guard and walked towards where David and Regina was standing “What is the meaning of this?”

“You know what this is about, Snow White.” Cora answered, looking as proud as can be for what she was doing. “You know what your daughter has been up to.”

David looked from Snow to his sister, who seemed conflicted between trying to find out if Emma was okay and watching the scene enfold between Snow and Cora. David glanced over at Emma and David then, they both seemed okay. Robin stood with a comforting and protective hand on Emma’s shoulder, but from where David was standing, she didn’t need it. Emma looked angry and determined, and not the least bit scared.

Before anything else could be said though, another knight came running through the doors. He was dressed in gold, one of Midas’ then. “Sire!” He said “We’ve found the pirate.”

“What?” David asked, low enough that he wasn’t even sure if anyone had heard him “No!”

“Go.” Cora said to her husband then and nodded towards the guard “I’ll deal with this.”

George nodded, and gave David one last look before he was on his way to execute the man his son loved so dearly. David felt a desperate pull inside of him as he tried to grab at his father and run after him, but before he even had a chance to try, he felt a tightening around his body and was unable to move. Magic.

“Let him go!” Emma shrieked before Regina even had a chance to react, but David knew what she would do and it was too risky. Thankfully, both her parents realized this as well, and Snow shook her head towards her daughter and Robin tightened his grip on her shoulder.

George gave him one last look and then glanced over at Cora before he left the room. David would have spat after him if he was given the chance.

“Enough of this.” Cora said, and David met Regina’s eyes then. She looked so sad, and David knew it was because she felt guilty for what was happening. David wanted to scream at the world, and a part of him also wanted to shout and Regina because she had promised to help Killian, but when he saw those eyes he just couldn’t. Instead he bit the inside of his cheek before mouthing to her that it wasn’t her fault.

“Snow White.” She said “You and your family helped in freeing one of my prisoners, after the treaties signed between our kingdoms-“

“I know very well what that treaty says, Cora.” Snow said “I was there when it was written, unlike you who was still clawing your way to the throne.”

“How dare you?”

“How dare I?” Snow answered between gritted teeth as she took one more step towards Cora. “You are a tyrant towards your people as well as your own family, and then you drag my family in front of you like this and threaten our daughter!” She almost shouted the last words “No, how dare you?”

Neither David or Regina had ever admired a person more. Emma and Robin joined Snow then and the three of them stood so tall that David had never been so jealous before. To have a family like that must be such a blessing. If it came to war one day, then he couldn’t see how his father had a chance. The Snow’s were so loved by their people that it was almost unreal, their army was loyal to no one but them, and they would stand strong together through anything.

David really hoped that Cora was aware of that as well, so it would never have to come to that.

“Let me go.” David said through gritted teeth “What are you going to do, kill the heir to the throne?”

“The only one in this family that anyone seem to actually like.” Robin said then, cocky as always “Might put a bit of a damper on the next yule ball, wouldn’t you say?”

David knew that Cora would never go against George’s wishes, not on this. She could manipulate him, but she would never change his mind in this. His father had been so desperate for an heir that David had lost his mother and his unborn sibling to complications during a pregnancy, because of George’s sick obsession with having another child. David needed to be heir or else their reign would end with George, and he might be a disgrace in his father’s eyes, but he was still his son and the only heir to their family name.

Cora scoffed then, before letting David go. He fell to his knees and coughed as new air found it’s way into his lungs. The knowledge that Cora had did this to Regina countless times while growing up made his blood boil.

Regina ran over to him and helped him to his feet, and he put a protective arm around her the second he got up.

“Your daughter poisoned Regina’s mind.” Cora said, and David would have scoffed at that if he wasn’t still struggling to even stand on his feet.

“It’s called love, Cora.” Snow said “It’s not a poison, it’s gift.”

“Leave her alone, mother!” Regina said “Emma hasn’t done anything wrong, it was my idea to get Killian out of the dungeons

”Love is a poison, it makes you weak and blinds your judgment.” Cora said “She is a married woman.”

“You don’t understand!” Regina said “I’ve tried to do what you want me to do, I tried living without her, but I can’t.” She said, almost pleadingly, before she turned around and looked at Emma “I love her.”

“Enough!” Cora said, and then she walked a few steps away from them and Regina got chills from knowing something was about to happen. “You can’t live without your pirate, or your outlaw daughter then that’s fine.” She said, but everyone knew that the words were neither kind nor forgiving.

When she turned around, her eyes were black, and her hands were glowing and Regina felt like all the air was being sucked out of her lungs as her entire being recognized the dark forces at hand. “What are you doing?” She asked, barely able to let the words out as all she could feel was her mother’s darkness.

“You can’t forget about them.” She said as her hands glowed brighter by the second “I’ll make you forget about them.”

“You can’t do that!” Regina shouted as she looked helplessly to Emma, who seemed to be glued to the floor. If it was by Cora’s magic or shock, Regina didn’t know.

“You will forget all about her, my dear.” Cora said “And then you can go on living your life as queen.”

“Mother, listen!”

“I am done listening!” Cora said, as if she’d ever listened to anyone. “And you will forget about that pirate, boy, and he will be hanged for his crimes against the realm.”

David tried leaping towards his step-mother then, but it was like an invisible shield was guarding her and he crashed right into it.

“David!” Regina cried out, David tried telling her he was okay, but he really wasn’t sure as his entire body felt like a rock dragging him to the ground.

“No!” Regina yelled as a dark cloud emerged from Cora’s glowing hands and filled up the room.

David could barely hear Robin and Snow yelling out for their daughter, and Regina leaping towards Emma and grabbing her hand before a flash of light exploded from the center of the room, and then everything went pitch black.

Chapter Text

Regina’s father had died on her eight birthday, leaving her all alone in the world. She had been frightened and angry, and completely lost. She’d never known her mother, and the one time she had tried to ask her father about her, he’d just said that she didn’t have one.

Regina was in a foster family for two years of her life, from she was twelve to fourteen, besides that, she grew up in a group home.

When she had gotten her bunk, and was told that it was lights out, she had hidden underneath the covers and cried silently, wishing that she had died in that car accident as well. Regina had overheard the paramedics talking to the doctors at the hospital, telling them that she’d actually been lucky that she hadn’t been wearing a seatbelt, and that she had been ejected from the car before it had caught on fire.

Regina didn’t even care about telling them that she had been wearing a seat-belt and didn't know how she had ended up on the side of the road. After learning that her father had just passed, she couldn’t care less about how she had gotten out of that car.

There were kind people working at the group home, and as the years went on, Regina actually started to feel like it was some kind of a home to her. She tried to ignore the voices in the back of her head telling her that it was as close to a home that she was ever going to get anyway.

She liked playing with Ruby, who was the granddaughter of the manager at the group home. Everyone just called her Granny, and as far as Regina knew, no one even knew her real name. Regina didn’t mind, she had always wanted a grandmother.

Regina was smart, resourceful and had excellent grades. She volunteered at the community center and worked as a waitress to save up some money for when she could finally get out of the small town she had grown up in, where everything reminded her of the life she could have had.

On Regina’s eighteenth birthday, she packed her belongings and said goodbye to the other children and teenagers. She was afraid of the unknown, but also ready to take on a new adventure, knowing that there had to be more to life than this. The letter confirming that she had gotten a college scholarship was tucked away in her pocket for luck.

When she was about to leave for the bus station, Granny had caught up with her and given her the keys to her old car. Regina had tried telling her it was too much, but the woman had just smiled at her.

“Get your ass in that car.” She had said “And go make us proud.”

Regina had just hugged her.

College was different from what Regina had imagined it would be. She couldn’t sit outside under a tree to study because there were always either people running around distracting her or it was raining. She had to buy earplugs because her roommate’s snoring kept her up at night, but Kathryn was nice and she was the first real friend on her own age that Regina had ever had.

She got a job in the mailroom of the mayor’s office in town and by the time she was finishing her degree, she was head of the mayor’s recall election campaign.

On graduation day, both she and Kathryn had just stared at each other, wondering what the hell they were going to do then. Kathryn wanted to move to a new city, get a job, maybe find love. Regina had smiled at her and told her it seemed like a good idea, didn’t it?

When they got back to Regina’s car after their graduation party, there was a flyer on the windshield, and Kathryn rolled her eyes and sighed.

“I hate it when they do that.” She said.

“It’s an effective advertisement strategy though.” Regina said as she reached for the piece of paper.

“Take off your pantsuit and enjoy life for one night, Regina.” Kathryn said before winking at her, but then she realized that Regina was actually interested in what the flyer had to say. “What is it?”

“Have you ever heard of Storybrooke?”

 

David rolled his eyes as the probation worker was giving him a mouthful on how he needed to get his shit together and contribute to society. It wasn’t the first time he’d heard it and he was almost certain it wasn’t going to be the last.

Since he had been fourteen and living on the streets after his mother passing, he had gotten into all sorts of trouble. At least, that is what the law said. Apparently, it didn’t matter that the only reason he even did steal was so he could feed the other kids on the street, who was also been forgotten by the system.

So he wore the orange jumpsuit and picked up litter and scrubbed the graffiti of the old abandoned factory just outside of town without complaining.

One day when he showed up for his community service though, everything changed. There was a woman named Regina there who had just finished college and had moved to Storybrooke after she had seen a flyer for volunteer work at the community center, on her car. David had thought it was an incredibly stupid thing to do, if she only knew what she was getting herself into. Storybrooke was not exactly a place of glory and opportunity.

She was cool though, and she actually seemed to give a shit unlike everyone else working there.

Two weeks before his community service was going to be over with, he was arrested again for shoplifting a few kit kat’s and running away from the sheriff. To be fair, it hadn't been for him and it was kind of fun seeing the horrible man running after him.

When he was told he had been bailed out, and saw that it was Regina waiting for him, he was more than surprised.

“What are you doing here?” He asked, his eyes furrowing.

“I got a message saying you were here.” Regina said “Wondered if I could get you out.”

“From who?”

“I don’t know, maybe one of your friends?”

“So are you?” David asked.

“Am I going to what?” She asked.

“Get me out.” He replied “Because I was supposed to be done with my community service in two weeks and I can’t get any more hours.”

She smiled at him. “Yes.”

 

She had looked after him ever since.

 

“Happy birthday, idiot!” Regina said with a huge smile as David came out of his bedroom with his hair sticking out in all sorts of places.

“What the hell?” He asked “How did you even get in here?”

“Mayor Privilege.” Regina said with a grin as she presented him with his birthday breakfast. “Actually, I made an extra key before I moved out.”

David looked at her with annoyance then “And you didn’t think to tell me that there was an extra key to my apartment out there?”

“More fun this way.” She said as she winked at him before taking a piece of bacon off his plate. He smacked her hand away before sitting down by the table. “When do you have to be at work?”

“Graham had the night shift.” David said “I have to get in soon, he’s probably tired.”

“Then stop sticking him with the night shift then.” Regina said “Or I will.”

“Stay away from my department.” He said before looking up at Regina with a mischievous look on his face. “Are you in love with him?” David asked teasingly as he wiggled his eyebrows. “You can’t play a man like that.”

“Please don’t remind me.” Regina said “And come on, it was a one-time thing.”

David laughed “Poor guy.” He said “His ego took a huge blow when you dumped him for that Tink girl.”

“Then maybe you should date him.”

“He should be so lucky!” David said, before popping a piece of toast into his mouth. “Besides, I’m taken.”

“I can see the creases in your forehead.” Regina said “Must be because you’re getting so old.”

“You’re older than me!”

“Yes, but I age better.” Regina said with a smirk, and David couldn’t help but snicker at her before throwing some scrambled eggs in her hair.

“You moron!” Regina said “This dress is dry-clean only!”

“Well, excuse me, your majesty.” David said, and Regina stuck her tongue out to him..

“Whatever.” Regina said and nodded her head towards the coffee table “There was a birthday present for you at the door this morning.”

“Really?” David asked with raised eyebrows, knowing it was probably just another way for Regina to try to sneak a present into his house since she knew that he didn’t want any.

“Yes.” She insisted, before looking David up and down again where he was quietly trying to eat his breakfast.

“Seriously though.” Regina said, leaning against the side of the kitchen counter. “You’d tell me if anything was bothering you, right?”

David hated how well she knew him, and could differentiate his awful mood in the morning from him being genuinely upset.

“Of course.”

“You know you can come stay with me.” She said “We have more than enough room.”

David pursed his lips then before looking Regina in the eye “Maybe it wouldn’t feel so empty if-“

“I said, don’t.” Regina said, not letting him finish his sentence. She knew exactly what he was going to say and she didn’t want to hear it. “I’m going to be late for work.”

“Do you have office hours or something?” David asked as he took a sip of his orange juice. She shook her head.

“I’m helping out at the work program today.” She said “Want me to tell Wendy you said ‘hi’?”

“Yeah, thanks.” He said “Haven’t been by there in a while, feeling a bit guilty.”

She laughed softly then and went over and kissed his cheek before saying “You saved her life back then, you know, and those other kids.” She said “I don’t think you have anything to feel guilty about.”

“I didn’t-“

“Yes you did.” Regina said stubbornly before turning around, not even bothering to argue. They both knew she’d win anyway. “I’ll see you at the diner tonight!”

“I told you I don’t want a party!”

“I don’t care!” She answered before sweeping out the door, leaving David to pout with his breakfast that had now gotten cold.

Graham did look completely exhausted by the time David arrived at the sheriff station and felt kind of bad for sticking him with so much paperwork the night before. The man didn’t seem to mind though as he got up from his seat and patted David’s shoulder wishing him a happy birthday.

“I’ll see you tonight then?” He asked, and David had nodded. He really didn’t want a party, but he knew that there was no point in arguing it now that everything seemed already have been arranged.

The rest of the day was completely uneventful. The most excitement he had was when he was called in because they needed a search and rescue for a couple of kids that were found before David even had a chance to get there. It was amazing how much the town had changed after Regina had been elected mayor. She had started a work program for those who had a difficulty finding a job, a clinic had opened for those without insurance or means to get to the hospital, and crime had gone down drastically.

He wasn’t sure if he should change for the party or not, but decided against it. He knew this town better than anyone, and he was pretty sure close to no-one even owned any actual formal wear.

“Hey!” He said as he he walked through the door and everyone their attention towards him and within a minute, people were hugging and congratulating him.

“Happy birthday, kid.”

“Hey, Robin.” David said “Thanks, how are things?”

“Brilliant.” He answered with a dashing grin. David hadn’t seen him in a while and noticed that a few grey hairs were starting to make an appearance, it didn’t really matter though, because he just knew that Robin was one of those people that would age beautifully. “And you?” He asked “What have you been up to?”

“Oh, you know.” David said “Work, the usual.”

Robin smiled “I still can’t believe you’re the sheriff.” He said “The amount of trouble you got yourself into was rather impressive.”

“I’ll take that as quite the compliment coming from you.” David said “Seeing as you were the one who taught me everything I know.”

“Hey, I may be a thief, but-“

“You have a code, yes I know.” David said “You sound like such an idiot when you say stuff like that.”

Robin shrugged, but the grin was still visible on his face. “Maybe so.” He said “But the ladies love it.”

“What about one particular lady?” David asked, rather teasingly.

Robin turned around to where Mary Margaret was talking to Jefferson about something that sounded like the upcoming parent-teacher conference.

“Still won’t give me the time of day.” Robin said, and David patted his arm.

“Hang in there man.” He said, before he excused himself to continue making his rounds, making sure to talk to all of his guests.

It was nice, it really was. David’s life was somewhat wonderful, a lot better than he ever thought when he’d been a kid. He had a job that he really enjoyed, he had a nice apartment, and friends that cared about him. It should be enough. It should be perfect. Still, David couldn’t help but feel like something was missing. That he should feel something more.

“Hey, stranger.”

David smiled and turned around to see Kathryn’s eyes looking back at him. “Hey, you.” He said before she wrapped him in a hug.

“Happy birthday.” She said, and he smiled into her hair before kissing the top of her head.

“Thank you.” He said “I’m glad you could make it.”

“Wouldn’t miss it for the world.” She replied before giving him a quick kiss on the lips.

Regina smiled as she saw her two best friends together. It had been somewhat of a shock when they had started going out, but she happy as long as they were happy.

She looked around the room then, to make sure everything was going as planned, when she caught sight of someone she didn’t think she would see that evening. Regina needed some air. She grabbed her coat and practically ran out the door of the diner.

Once she was outside, she felt a little better, but was immediately light-headed again as she heard a familiar voice calling out her name.

“Regina, wait!”

Regina closed her eyes for a second before turning around facing her. “Sorry, I just, I didn’t think you’d be here.”

“David and I are friends.” She answered, and Regina nodded.

“I know.” Regina replied “Sorry, I didn’t mean it like that.”

“So, how are you?”

Taking a deep breath, Regina looked down for a minute before shaking her head “I’m sorry, I can’t do this right now.” She said. As she tried to walk back inside though, she felt a familiar warmth on her arm.

“Regina, I-“

“Not now.” She said, not knowing what else to say, this really wasn’t something she could deal with right now. “Sorry, Emma.”

With that, she pulled her arm back carefully, before going back inside, trying to fight every urge in her body that told her to turn around.

Chapter Text

“I didn’t invite her.” David insisted, as Regina sighed into the phone as she poured herself a glass of red wine. “I didn’t even want a party, remember?”

“Yeah, sure.” Regina said, barely listening to what her best friend was telling her.

“Listen, is it really that bad of a thing that she was there?” David asked “Maybe she wants to fix things.”

“It’s been over a year, David.” Regina said as she took a sip of the wine, it tasted bitter and made her slightly nauseous.

“And she’s still here.” David said stubbornly. “I heard things are over with her and Neal.”

“It doesn’t matter.” Regina said, and it really didn’t. There was no way that she was going down that road again. There was no way her heart could take it.

“Are you talking about Emma?”

Regina’s head whipped around. “David, I’ll call you tomorrow, okay?”

“Okay, say hi from me.”

Regina hung up the phone and made her way over to the doorway of the kitchen. “David says hi.” She said “Were you the one who invited Emma tonight?”

“I know you miss her.”

“Henry-“

“Mom.” Henry said “You need her.”

Regina had been in Storybrooke for four years, and her life had finally started coming together when a dashing stranger had rolled into town and taken her out for a drink. Since she was always told to loosen up and live life a little, Regina had decided to take him up on his offer on going back to the hotel with him. The next morning he had been gone.

It had stung a little, but at the time Regina really hadn’t cared that much. He’d been clear that he was only in town for one night and they both knew what they were doing when jumping into bed together. It had been fun, and that was that.

Nine months later, she gave birth to a boy who thankfully looked a lot more like her than his father. Henry was the light of her life. He meant absolutely everything to her. From the day he was born, Regina had given her heart to him, and she didn’t know if anyone else would ever be worthy of the same gesture.

That was until had Emma Swan literally crashed into town. It had been dark, and shadow that she thought was a deer, had ran onto the road, causing Emma to lose control and drive straight through the town sign.

She hadn’t had any plan to even make a stop in town, but she broke her leg and was stranded there for six weeks. Regina had helped her find a place to stay, and before Emma’s leg had healed, she had already fallen in love with her.

Emma was a journalist, who had recently been let go from her old job in Chicago, so Regina helped her get a job at the local newspaper. It was not a lot of exciting stories in town, which made Regina even happier that Emma still decided to take the job and stay for a while.

Emma was the kind of person Regina had pictured herself marrying one day. She was kind and caring, and also stubborn and strong. She absolutely adored Henry and Henry liked her as well. Regina really thought that they would last forever. How naïve of her.

Emma wasn’t like Regina. She didn’t commit to much in her life. She rarely stayed in one place long enough to get attached to anyone there and she loved her job because it often meant that she had an excuse to travel and keep herself busy.

Which was probably why Emma had completely freaked out when she and Henry had been playing hide-and-seek and she had found an engagement ring.

“I’m not ready for this.” She’d said, her voice desperate and scared. “I can’t be wife, or a mom.”

“Emma-“

“I’m sorry!” She had said before biting her bottom lip and then running out the door.

Regina looked at Henry with the same look she had given him the day she had told him that Emma probably wasn’t going to be coming around anymore.

“I just need you.” She said with a smile and brushed his hair away from his eyes. He seriously needed to get a haircut soon.

He smiled at her “Doesn’t mean you can’t be happy.”

“I am happy.” She insisted, ignoring the lump in her throat.

“Not like you were.” Henry said stubbornly before hugging her, Regina immediately wrapped her arms around him and kissed the top of his head.

“It’s late.” She said as she let him go “Go brush your teeth, okay?”

 

David knew why Regina was acting so stubborn. The night of their break-up, Regina had called him and he had come running to her house. He’d let himself in, knowing that Henry was probably asleep and had found Regina lying in bed, clutching a pillow and crying her heart out.

David had seen a lot of bad things in his life, but he had never seen anything so broken. He had never understood the relationship between Emma and Regina. At first they had seemed so different, but as time went on and he learned to understand Emma a bit better, he could see that they weren’t that different after all. Emma was just scared to let people in. From the outside, it looked like they had been doomed from the start, but the universe just couldn’t let them give up on just a chance of a happily ever after, even if it was just that, a chance.

He sighed heavily and made himself a cup of coffee. It was cold out that night, and all David wanted to do was snuggle up with a lot of blankets on the couch. He was on his way to see what was on TV when he heard someone knocking on the door. It was late, who would be coming around now?

David sighed again, almost wanting to pretend he wasn’t home. He knew that as sheriff though, he couldn’t. Especially since Graham wasn’t working tonight and no one would be at the station.

When he opened the door though and noticed the person on the other side, his mouth fell open in surprise as he was caught by sudden wave of overwhelming déjà vu.

David looked the man up and down. He had to be the handsomest man that David had ever laid eyes on, and two seconds later he broke his own record, when the other man grinned at him.

“Dave.” He breathed out and David snapped out of his trance then, and furrowed his brows.

“I’m sorry.” David said “Do I know you?”

“I-“ The man said, like he didn’t know what to say “I’m Killian.”

David nodded, but just kept staring at him. “I’m sorry, have we met?”

“I guess not.” Killian answered “Ehm, happy birthday.”

“Thanks?” David said, but it sounded more like a question. “How did you know it was my birthday?”

Killian smiled at him “Lucky guess.” He said “I’ll see you around, yeah?”

David didn’t know why he had the sudden urge to chase after the man as he walked away. He stared out into the hallway for a while, before closing the door and frowning slightly. Even though he had the overwhelming feeling that he knew the man, he was also sure that he had never seen him before.

David was more than certain that he would have remembered a man looking like that. He pushed the thought to the back of his head as he looked over to the pile of presents that was laying spread all over his living room floor, some he had opened at the party and some he had just taken home with him without even bothering to unwrap them first.

He was way too tired to start doing that now, maybe he could convince Regina to come over another day so she could organize it for him so he wouldn’t have to. David didn’t even know why, but he really hated his birthdays.

Sighing heavily, he suddenly didn’t even feel like watching TV anymore, he just wanted to go to sleep.

The next morning he was thankful that he got to wake up without as much as a hangover, but he had this unsettling feeling in his stomach as he remembered the dream he’d had.

He glanced once at his alarm clock before he reached over to the phone on his nightstand and asked Regina if she wanted to meet him for coffee and breakfast.

She replied within two minutes, as per usual and invited him to her house. David never could pass up on free food, so he was more than happy with that.

Henry was the first one to greet him as he entered the house, not even bothering to knock since Regina never spared him that curtesy.

“How was your birthday party?” Henry asked, and David smiled and ruffled his hair.

“It was alright, kid.” David said “Where’s your mom?”

“In the kitchen.” Henry answered “I think she’s mad at me.”

“I highly doubt that.” David answered with a smile “But why would you say that?”

“I called Emma and told her about your party.” Henry said. David just glared at him, but almost couldn’t help but chuckle at how the boy was trying to play matchmaker. He was just trying to make his mom happy, and David couldn’t blame her. Regina did that to people.

“I’m absolutely positive that she’s not mad at you for that.” David said “You’ve eaten?”

He nodded.

“Alright then, go upstairs and do your homework for Monday and I’ll go talk to your mom, okay?” David said, and he nodded once before practically running towards the stairs. David smiled after him before making his way towards the kitchen.

“Hey there.” David said as he entered the room, Regina turned her head around from where she was making pancakes and smiled at him.

“Morning.” She answered, and David could sense what Henry had been talking about. She did seem a bit off. “Henry talk to you?”

“Yes.” David said as he started making himself a cup of coffee. “He thinks you’re mad at him.”

Regina sighed “I should be.” She said “But have I ever been able to?”

“There was that time he ran away from home.”

“He scared me half to death.” Regina said “That was completely different.”

“I know.” David answered, and bit his bottom lip as he tried to figure out a way to breach the subject without upsetting his best friend. “So, have you talked to her?”

“No.” Regina replied as once as she started plating the food and setting the table, busying herself as she always did when there was something she didn’t want to talk about.

“Okay.” David said, as he didn’t want to push. He took a sip of his coffee and leaned against the counter. “Hey, guess what.”

“What?” Regina asked as she turned her attention back to David again.

“This guy showed up at my apartment last night after I got home.”

“What guy?”

“I have no idea.” David said “Wished me a happy birthday.”

Regina’s brows furrowed as she crossed her arms in front of her chest “That’s weird.”

“I know.”

“Was he hot?”

“Ridiculously so.”

Regina laughed, and David was more than thankful for the sound. “I won’t tell Kathryn you said that.”

“Please don’t.” David said, smile still on his lips. “He acted as if I knew him.” He said “But I can’t remember seeing him before.”

Regina seemed to think about it for a little while before answering “I can do some digging if you like.” She said “Did you catch his name?”

“I’m the sheriff, I can do my own stalking, thank you very much.” David said with a grin “Killian, didn’t catch his last name.”

“Doesn’t ring a bell, I think.” Regina said “Be careful okay?”

“You don’t have to look after me anymore, you know that right?” David asked.

“That’s what friends are for.” Regina insisted as she took a step towards David “Besides, I feel responsible for you.”

David crossed his arms over his chest and smiled at her. “Still?”

“Always.” She replied, “Now sit down and eat something, I have a meeting in an hour.”

Chapter Text

David loved being at work whenever he didn’t have paperwork or someone in custody, because it meant that he didn’t have to stay at the station for the entire day. As long as he had his phone and his walkie-talkie with him, he could go wherever he wanted. Since no one had called anything in, he decided to stop by Kathryn’s office and bring her some lunch around noon.

Her assistant told him to go right on in, and he thanked her before knocking twice on her door before letting himself in.

“Hey.” He said with a smile as he entered, and his grin widened when she caught sight of him and laughed.

“Hey!” She said “This is a nice surprise.”

He held up the brown paper bag with her favorite sandwich and wiggled his eyebrows. “I thought I’d bring you some lunch.” He said “I know you’re probably busy, but-“

“Will you hate me if I say that I am?” Kathryn asked and he shook his head as he placed the bag on her desk.

“That is why I brought the food to you.” David said as he patted himself on the back and gave himself a few boyfriend points.

“I don’t deserve you.” She said as he made his way around the desk and kissed the top of her head. “Being a lawyer in this town has become considerably more boring after Regina became mayor and you became sheriff.”

David laughed “Tell me about it.” He said “I am hardly ever-“

He probably jinxed himself, because before he even had a chance to finish his sentence, his phone rang.

“Hello.” He said while answering, still smiling at Kathryn. As he listened to the person on the other line, he groaned and gave Kathryn the look she knew too well.

“Looks like I’m not the only one keeping busy today.” She said as soon as he hung up.

“Sorry, I gotta go.” He said and pointed towards the door.

“Will your thing bring in more business for me?” Kathryn asked while wiggling her eyebrows, David almost had to laugh.

“Likely.” He said “Bar crawl.”

“It’s the middle of the day.” Kathryn argued and David shrugged as he made his way outside “See you later.”

“Call me if anyone needs a lawyer!”

David tried to hurry to the bar, even though after his experience, Robin would probably already have calmed things down by now. The only thing that could be a problem was if the drunk who had started the fight had run away, and then David would spend the rest of his shift looking for him, and probably working overtime to do it.

When David entered the bar though, he was less than surprised to see Will sitting on a stool next to a scowling Robin, looking guilty as hell and with a bruised cheek.

“Hey.” Robin said, when David snickered as he made his way towards Will.

“You’ve missed the slammer, Will?” David asked “Seriously kid, it’s not even one in the afternoon yet.”

Will just scoffed “That guy bloody well started it, didn’t he though?” He said as he looked up to Robin, who crossed his arms across his chest and nodded twice to David.

“For once, the kid is right.” Robin said, “Doesn’t mean you’re getting off the hook though, Will.”

“Bloody Hell.” Will said.

“Hey, Johnny!” Robin said to the security guard “Get Will here a pack of frozen peas or something for his cheek, yeah?”

David turned his head towards John and caught sight of the man who had started the bar fight.

“You’re up, man!” Robin shouted to him “The sheriff wants to talk to you.”

David was surprised to see the man who had turned up at his apartment the night before, sitting by one of the tables, looking both drunk and miserable.

“That’s the guy?” David asked, and Robin nodded.

“I won’t even bother putting handcuffs on you, kid.” David said to Will, knowing how good he was with getting out of them “But stay put until I talk to this guy okay.”

“Only because it’s you, sheriff.” Will said and David patted him once on the back before he quickly texted Graham, and then making his way towards the dark haired man.

“Hello again, Killian.” David said as he sat down opposite of the man, giving John a chance to go and get some ice for Will’s cheek.

“Dave.” Killian answered, the dashing smile that David had seen the night before was gone, and it wasn’t until now that David noticed his odd fashion sense. He was wearing black, all black. He had black leather pants, and a black t-shirt with a leather jacket. David was also wondering if he was wearing eyeliner. Either way, he was looking just as attractive as he had when David had first laid eyes on him.

“Do you make a habit of drinking in the middle of the day and throwing punches in bars, Killian?” David asked.

“I’ve had a rough couple of days, mate.” Killian answered, and there was something about the way the man was looking at him, that made David shiver. Growing up the way he had, he had become pretty good at separating the good guys from the bad, but he was struggling to get a read on this guy.

“I’m gonna have to take you back to the station.” David said, and he was surprised when Killian didn’t even seem to mind that, he just shrugged and nodded.

“Robin!” David said as he turned his head towards his friend, who nodded. “Graham is on his way to pick up Will, can you keep an eye on him until then?”

“Sure thing, sheriff!” Robin said, almost teasingly. Since Robin knew that David needed to be an authority figure though, he kept a straight face. “He off the hook then?”

Killian snickered then, and David glanced at him with raised eyebrows.

“Sorry, mate.” Killian replied “Inside jokes, of sorts.”

David didn’t have time to ask, so he turned his attention back to where Will was sitting by the bar. “Yeah, he’s alright.” David said with a smile as he crossed his arms over his chest, and glared at Will. “Don’t worry, kid.” He said “It’ll work itself out.”

“It’s bloody well easy for you to say, sheriff!” Will said “I can’t imagine the lawyer lady leaving you anytime soon!”

“What?” Killian asked, and again, David was strangely curious to the way the man was acting around him. What worried David the most though, was how he wasn’t eve suspicious of him, even with his strange behavior and less than trustworthy looks.

He shook his head and grabbed Killian by the arm “Let’s go, tough guy!”

Killian seemed like the kind of guy who’d been in his fair share of bar fights, and had probably seen a lock-up once or twice before. He also looked like the kind of guy who would put up a fight and not go willingly if someone caught him red-handed. Still, he behaved all the way to the station, and walked right inside the holding cell when David pointed to it.

“How long will I have to stay in here for, mate?” Killian asked as he leaned against the bars, and raised his eyebrows.

“Just need to ask you a couple of questions.” David said.

“Can’t be a lot of excitement in this place, if you make a habit of locking up everyone throwing a few punches around?” He asked, cocking an eyebrow, clearly he was not interested in answering any questions and tried changing the subject.

David didn’t buy it though, he’d had more than enough practice with that trick when he was first trying to get to know Emma.

“What’s your last name?”

“Jones.”

“How long have you been in town?” David asked “I haven’t seen you around before.”

“Not long.” Killian replied “How about you?”

David laughed “Born and raised” He said. “Where are you from?”

Killian looked saddened by the question, and David started to wonder what kind of past he might have.

“You haven’t heard of it.” Killian answered after a couple of moments.

“How do you know?” David asked.

“Or else you would have known who I was.” Killian replied, and at first David thought he might be some homeboy hero with a big ego, but Killian didn’t have a cocky expression, he still just looked sad. Before David could ask what he meant, Killian coughed and turned back on his grin and charm.

“Why did you let the kid go?” Killian asked “He had quite the kick to him.”

“After what Robin told me, you started it.” David said “Besides, I know him, he’s a good kid, I don’t know you.”

Killian swallowed before wetting his lips. “The things we do when our hearts are broken, huh?”

“What?”

“That Will kid, heard him rambling to the bartender about this girl, Ana, was it?

David snorted, of course this man would know everything that was going on in town already. He seemed like the type. “They’ll get back together.” He said “Always do.”

“Young love, eh?”

David couldn’t help but cock his head and smile at the man.

“Just who are you, Killian Jones?”

“Do you have time for a story?” He asked, and David just snickered, as he was getting impatient.

“I don’t like stories.” He said “I prefer the truth.”

Killian leaned in even closer to the bars “I beg to differ.” He said “Who’s to say they can’t be one and the same?”

David didn’t have an answer, instead he found himself staring at the hands Killian had gripped around the bars of the cell, like something was missing.

Regina was pacing down the street. She tried to hurry to her meeting with Mary Margaret, about the charity event at the school where she was teaching. She was already late as time had ran away from her during her phone meeting with Eric about the building permit at the harbor.

Regina was really starting to regret giving half of her staff the weekends off, but still having office hours for herself on Saturdays. It meant a lot more work on her part.

As she walked past Emma’s apartment, she couldn’t help but glance up and noticed that Emma was looking down at her. Knowing Emma, she had probably just gotten out of bed and was just opening up the curtains. Timing was not Regina’s friend today. She stopped and Emma waved awkwardly at her, Regina gave her a friendly nod and smiled back before continuing walking towards the school.

Pretty much everything in town was within walking distance, and since Regina had encouraged the town of going as green as possible, she rarely took her car when it was possible to walk. But now, being ten minutes late, she regretted not taking her car that morning.

“Hello, I am sorry for being late.” Regina said as she entered Mary Margaret’s classroom, where the teacher was hanging up some of the kids’ drawings.

“Hi, Miss Mayor.” Mary Margaret answered as she walked over to Regina and shook her hand.

“Regina, please.” Regina insisted as Mary Margaret gestured for her to sit down by her desk.

“Yes, sorry.” Mary Margaret said.

“I like your new haircut.” Regina said, as she pointed to Mary Margaret’s head. The woman ran her fingers through her short hair and thanked her. “So, this charity event.”

“Yes, raising awareness for kids with learning disabilities.” Mary Margaret said, as he beamed with pride, clearly very excited about the project. “Henry’s been a huge help by the way, he and Grace have made half of the banners and fliers.”

“He told me.” Regina said, she was always happy whenever Henry was involved with something he felt passionate about. “It’s great, really.”

They had barely been talking for ten minutes, when the door flew open and Regina turned her head to see Emma making her way into the room.

“Hey.” Emma said “Am I late”?

“No, you’re right on time.” Mary Margaret answered “We were just done talking about the more… Political side of the event.”

“Great.”

“I’m sorry.” Regina said, trying to sound as professional as possible, even though she was clearly confused “Are you involved with the project?”

“I’m covering it for the paper.” Emma said “My boss talked to someone from your PR-department-“

Regina brushed her off with a wave and a smile “Yes, of course.” She said, even though this was the first she’d heard of it.

“Great.” Emma said as she clumsily got out her camera and notepad, before awkwardly dragging one of the children’s chairs across the floor and putting it down next to Regina. “Go on, then.”

Regina let out a breath; it was going to be a long week.

When they meeting was over, and Emma was done with her questions and had taken a few pictures of Mary Margaret and Regina, Regina all but hurried to get out of the classroom.

When Regina walked through the doors though, and out into the fresh air, she could hear Emma catching up with her.

“Hi.” She said, and Regina stopped and turned around to face her.

“Hey.” She replied “You got everything you need.”

Emma held up her notepad and nodded “Yeah, it will probably be in the newspaper tomorrow if I reach my deadline.”

“You always do.” Regina said “It’s really great promotion.”

“Yes.” Emma said “Well, it’s a good cause.”

Regina nodded, and then just stood there awkwardly before checking her watch.

“You have somewhere you need to be?” Emma asked.

Regina shook her head, and faked another smile at the blonde. Even with her hair in a messy bun and an outfit that she had probably thrown on at the last minute, she still looked as beautiful as ever. Regina couldn’t help but hate her a little bit for it.

“I’m waiting for Henry.” She said “He had a half-day today, and we’re supposed to go out to get something to eat.”

“Oh, that’s nice!” Emma said “I used to love it whenever we were let off early.”

Regina just nodded “Don’t you have a deadline?” She asked, she didn’t mean for it to come out so bitter, but she just wasn’t in the mood to be dealing with this today.

“I just… I wanted to apologize for showing up at David’s party.” Emma said “I thought Mary Margaret had told you I was coming.”

“It’s fine, really.” Regina said “As you said, you and David are friends.”

“Good.” Emma replied, looking down at the ground for a moment before turning her attention back to Regina. “Listen, I’m sorry about everything.”

“It’s been a long time, Emma.” Regina said “I really can’t go through this right now.”

“I never meant to hurt you.” Emma said “I was young and scared-“

“I get that you were scared, but you didn’t even give me a chance to explain, I wasn’t even going to-“ She stopped herself before she said anything she was going to regret later. Regina refused to do this now, refused to let this woman get under her skin and give her the opportunity to break her heart again. “You left, and then you got together with what’s-his-face, and I was all alone, but I got through it.”

“Regina-“

“I got over you.” Regina said then, which was probably the biggest lie she had ever told, but she would forever be too afraid to admit that to anyone, let alone herself.

Suddenly Henry came bursting through the doors along with some other kids. “Emma!” He said happily, and to be honest, Regina was grateful for the distraction. As Emma greeted Henry, Regina pulled herself together, and swallowed heavily without Emma even noticing.

“Are you coming with us to eat, Emma?” he asked.

“Emma has a deadline for the paper, sweetie.” Regina said as she patted Henry’s head and stroked his messy hair away from his forehead.

“Yeah, your mom’s right.” She said “I’m covering the charity event you guys are throwing.”

“So you’ll be coming this weekend?” Henry asked, beaming. Regina had to wet her lips and swallow again.

“Yes.” Emma said, and it was clear that now she was also trying to get away from the conversation. “I should go.”

“Okay.” Henry said before giving Emma a brief hug, as Emma rested her chin on the top of Henry’s head, her eyes locked with Regina’s and Regina was worried that she might let on just how close she was to crying.

“I’ll see you around, kiddo.” Emma said, before patting Henry’s back once and then walking away. She looked back to steal one last glance at Regina before she rounded the corner and was out of sight.

Regina had always hated watching her walk away.

Chapter Text

David had decided that Killian should spend the night in the holding cell, mostly just because he thought it would do the guy’s ego some good. He didn’t seem like a threat, but there was something so annoying, but also so intriguing about him that David didn’t want to let him go just yet. David was tired though and didn’t want to give Killian the satisfaction of knowing that he was the reason that David had to spent the night there, he had called in Graham to take the night shift. But since hardly anything happened in town lately, and David was a little too fascinated by this newcomer, he had come in early to work the next day.

“I’m utterly bored, sheriff.” Killian said from where he was laying on his back on the small bed in the holding cell. “If you don’t plan to release me, then you can at least keep me entertained.”

David hadn’t even been in the room for more than five seconds before Killian was complaining to him.

“Hi, boss.” Graham said “He’s been pretty quiet all night, I put away his personal belongings-“

“Which I’ll be wanting back!” Killian cut him off, and David rolled his eyes.

“Thanks Graham.” David said as he slapped Graham once on the back before letting the guy go home and catch some sleep. David then slumped down in his chair and put his feet on the desk.

“Hello!” Killian sing-sang

“You’re in a cell.” David said from where he was sitting by his desk and reading the paper “It’s not supposed to be entertaining.”

“You speak from experience then, mate?” Killian asked, and David couldn’t help but look up from the paper and meet his gaze, Killian grinned and winked at him knowingly before turning his attention back to the ceiling.

“Do you always talk this much?” David asked back, refusing to answer Killian’s question. First of all, he didn’t have to or want to, and second of all, it was starting to scare him how well Killian seemed to read him, and not in a bad way.

Killian threw his legs over the edge of the bed and sat up, he cocked his head up and smiled at David. “Would you like to find out?”

“You are so inappropriate.” David said, but for some reason he struggled to hold back a laugh. The man really shouldn’t be that fascinating or funny, but for some reason, he just was.

“But handsome though, right?” Killian asked, and David just scoffed at him as he shook his head in disbelief.

“Why were you drinking in the middle of the day?” David asked, see, he was allowed to ask questions like that, because it was his job.

“You worried about my well-being, sheriff?”

“I’m worried that if I let you go, that I will be called into another bar-crawl within ten minutes.” David said. “Will, I know why he was there, you, I’m not so sure.”

“Aye.” Killian said, and bit his lip when he could see David cocking his head to the side in confusion. Killian coughed “Because of his lost love?”

“Wouldn’t call it that.” David said “They are young and foolish, it’ll pass.”

“That’s the best kind of love though, isn’t it?” Killian asked, raising his eyebrows.

David wasn’t really sure about that, he never really thought that young love lasted, or that they even knew what the real thing was. The more depressing thing was that he wasn’t so sure himself, even though he would like to believe he did. Before he had a chance to answer though, Killian smirked at him and continued prying.

“The young lad mentioned a woman.” Killian said “You’re married?” he asked, while looking down at David’s hands at his hips, clearly looking for a ring.

“No.” David answered at once, and wondered why he didn’t just let the man keep guessing. He was obviously a flirt, and seemed like the kind of man who would try to use his charm to get out of any kind of situation, but there was something more about him too. David just couldn’t put his finger on it.

“Ah.” Killian said, but there was something left unsaid and David was getting a little irritated, but really didn’t want the man to know he was getting under his skin. He was just a stranger after all.

Instead he shook his head, before getting the keys to the cell. “I hope I don’t see you in here again.” He said as he opened the door.

“I too hope we will meet under better circumstances next time.” Killian answered, as he stepped closer to David, so close that David could almost feel the warmth of his body.

“I’ll be seeing you around then?” David asked, not stepping back, and cursing himself when his eyes drifted to Killian’s lips for a second.

“I have plan on sticking around, yes.” Killian said “At least for a while.”

“Just don’t get into any more trouble.” David answered, and Killian opened his mouth to say something, but decided against it as he suddenly seemed very distraught.

“I should go.” He said as he excused himself, and all but fled out of the room, not even giving David a chance to ask where he was staying.

David felt strange for the rest of the day, there was something very suspicious about the way this man was acting, but David just couldn’t wrap his head around what it was. As he sat by his desk and trying to run Killian’s name through the exceptionally slow computer, he remembered that he hadn’t even asked him why he had showed up at David’s door the night of his birthday.

He sighed as he ran a palm over his face, and wondered what the hell he was supposed to do. From a sheriff’s point of view, there really wasn’t a reason for David to keep his eye on the man, it wasn’t as if throwing a few punches in a bar was something unusual in this town, but David was still extremely curious about Killian.

Suddenly his phone rang, and he reached into his jacket pocket to fish it out. “Hello, there.” He said, with a smile. “When’s the next budget hearing?”

“What?” Regina asked on the other end of the line.

“We really need to upgrade our computer system here at the station.” David said.

“I didn’t think you were working today.” Regina answered, and David could hear her tapping away on her own keyboard, which meant that he was probably on speaker in her office.

“Graham took the night shift for me.” David said “We had someone in the holding cell.”

“Really?” Regina asked, this seemed to have caught her interest “Who?”

“Killian Jones.” David said, and he had to chuckle to himself.

“What?” Regina asked “The stalker?”

“He’s not a stalker.” David answered at once, even though he really had no idea who the man really was. “He was in a bar fight with Will, yesterday.”

“Did he break up with Ana again?” Regina asked, and David nodded even though he knew Regina couldn’t see him. It was a small town, and everyone knew pretty much everything about each other. Privacy was a hard thing to come by, so one person’s drama, was another person’s juicy gossip.

As a person, David hated it. As a sheriff though, it came quite in handy sometimes.

“Looks like she dumped him this time.” David said “That kid needs to get his act together, or she won’t take him back next time.”

“He will.” Regina said “Actually, he reminds me of someone else I know.”

“Don’t start.” David said, as he knew damn well who his best friend was talking about, and he didn’t need that reminder again.

“You were a good kid too.” Regina said “Just needed a little push.”

“If I push that kid any further, he’s gonna fall off a cliff.” David said, and realized that he was sounding like an old grandfather.

“David-“

“I know you’re right, of course.” David said, before Regina could start him on another lecture. “I assume you had a reason for calling?”

“I did.” Regina said “I was wondering if you have anything to contribute to the event on Saturday?”

“That’s this Saturday?” David asked, as he had never been any good at keeping up with the events, dances, charity-races or dinners that Regina seemed hell-bent on throwing for every good cause in town. “What did you have in mind?”

“How silly of me to think you’d remember something all on your own.” Regina answered, and David rolled his eyes. “It will be kind of like a small fair behind the school.” She said “I was wondering if you could stand in one of the carnival game booths?”

“Not the kissing booth.” David said at once, remembering the horrible year of Regina’s first election when she had asked him to stand there for her first charity event.

“Please, you are way too old.” Regina said, and David almost wanted to object to that. He was not that old! “Besides, you should be thanking me for that, you got your first kiss from Kathryn at that stand!”

“Which I am very happy for, but I will never ever thank you for the rest of that horrible experience.” David said, and before Regina had a chance to bring up any more embarrassing memories for him, he continued. “Where do you want me?”

“The shooting game?” Regina suggested, “It seems kind of fitting for the sheriff, it’s wild-west themed so you can wear a hat and everything.”

“Sure, why not?” David asked.

“Good, cause Kathryn already said you would do it.” Regina said, and David just sighed. He should have known. “She’s hosting the pie-eating contest.”

“You are so old fashioned, you know that right?” David asked, and he could all but hear Regina roll her eyes at him.

“I like to stick with the classics.” Regina answered, and then it was quiet for a while, and David knew at once what that meant, Regina wanted to tell him something, but wasn’t sure if she wanted to talk about it.

“Spit it out.”

Regina sighed, and didn’t even ask what he meant. “Emma’s coming.” She said “She’s covering the story for the paper.”

“Did you talk to her?” David asked “Have you talked to her since the party?”

“Yeah, I have.” Regina said “She apologized for everything that has happened.”

“And?”

“And what?” Regina asked, and sometimes David wanted to slap her across the back of the head to knock some sense into her.

“How do you feel about that?” David asked, trying to coax something more out of his friend, which wasn’t always as easy. He sometimes missed the days when she was with Emma, when she had finally let her guard down and had been able to talk about these kind of things without struggling to get the words out.

“She just left, David!” Regina said, as if David had just accused her of something and she was trying to defend herself. “She left without even saying a proper goodbye, and then she hardly talked to me, and then she started seeing Neal-“

“We both know that was just a rebound.”

“It doesn’t matter.” Regina said “It hurt, and she had this person, and I was all alone and had to try to explain to Henry why she was now with him.”

“I know.” David said “But people make mistakes.”

“She was scared.” Regina said “I’m not saying I don’t get it, I’m just saying that I can’t forget what she did so easily.”

“I’m not saying that you should forgive her and then you two can automatically get back together and live happily ever after, I am not that naive.” David said “But at least give her a chance to explain.”

“Like she did with me?”

“Then be the bigger woman, whatever.” David said “Just try.

It took a while before Regina said anything, and in those quiet moments, David was starting to feel something aching in his chest that he couldn’t quite figure out. Like he was missing someone who wasn’t there, but he didn’t know who it was. He tried to shake the feeling off and focus on his friend.

“When did you become so mature?” Regina asked.

“I had a good teacher.” David said, as he smiled into the phone. “You’re going to be alright?"

“Yes.” Regina said “I gotta go, I have a meeting, but I’ll see you on Saturday then?”

“Call me if you need me.”

“Oh, and by the way.” Regina said “This tall, dark and handsome that’s crashed into town, is he hot enough to go in the dunk tank?”

“Bye, Regina.”

“Bye, loser.”

David had to chuckle as he hung up, then he realized that he was supposed to have dinner with Kathryn the night before.

“Shit.” He said as he quickly dialed her number, an apology ready on his tongue.

“You finally remembered, huh?” Was the answer he was given as soon as his girlfriend picked up the phone.

“Work ran late.”

“You should have called.”

“I know, I’m sorry.” David said, wishing that it wasn’t the first time this had happened. As far as anyone else was concerned, the two of them were doing great, but both David and Kathryn knew that it was far from the truth. They both had forgotten dates or other obligations with each other because of work, and they both feared that they were letting their jobs become more important than trying to make things work out in their relationship.

David really cared about Kathryn, and he hated it when she was upset, especially when he was the reason why.

“You’re helping out at the carnival-fair thing that the school’s hosting.”

“Yes, I am.”

“I’ll see you later.”

David sighed “I really am sorry.”

Kathryn sighed as well, which meant that she probably wasn’t that mad, but more disappointed. David didn’t know which was worse. “Was it because of the bar fight?”

“Yeah.” David said “I had to bring in this guy, he’s from out of town and-“ he stopped himself before he did exactly what they said they weren’t going to do, focus more on work than each other. “You know what, it doesn’t matter.” He said “How about we go out tonight? Anywhere you’d like.”

“Really?”

“Yes.” David answered at once. “I’ll leave work early.”

“Then you’ll have time to buy some flowers.”

David laughed and nodded in approval, knowing he had somehow been able to won her over this time too. “Of course.” He said “I’ll see you at six?”

“Definitely.”

David hung up, and then quickly grabbed his jacket and threw it on before heading out the door, and for a moment he forgot all about the background checks, or work, or dashing strangers that caught his eye in more ways than he wanted to admit, and focused on finding the best way of making up with his girlfriend.

Chapter Text

David felt absolutely ridiculous in his cowboy costume, and his boots were killing him. It didn’t help that Regina had come by twice to tell him that he didn’t sound ‘western’ enough and needed to try to sell the whole theme a bit better.

David had, as usual, ignored her and just prayed that the day would be over soon. He probably sounded like quite the pessimist, but truth be told, he usually liked it whenever the town came together and did something fun. It was days like that he could really see the difference from the streets he had grown up with.

Wendy and some of the kids from the community center had been by his booth to try the shooting game and they had all been excited to see him since he hadn’t had time to come around as often lately.When he was a kid, he never would have thought Storybrooke was capable of change, but he had been so wrong.

David regretted ever giving up hope on it, thankfully, Regina hadn’t.

“That’s quite a costume you got there.”

David couldn’t help but smile as Killian walked up to him and checked out the horrible prizes behind David.

“Howdy.” David said, it sounded fake, but he didn’t care. Regina could complain all she wanted, the booth and the rest of the fair was a big success. “Staying out of trouble, I hope.”

Killian held up his hands in defeat, and David chuckled. “Promised I would, didn’t I?”

“How do I know you keep your promises?” David asked, and Killian shrugged as he raised an eyebrow seductively.

“Guess you’ll have to find out, won’t you?” He asked, and for some reason, David almost choked on his own tongue. He was used to harmless flirting or behavior, but suddenly there was this gleam in the man’s eye that made David’s breath hitch. “How much?” Killian asked.

“What?” David asked, as he had blanked out of the conversation.

“The game?” Killian asked.

Right, the game. David was working. He composed himself as he got a rifle for Killian and told him some safety rules, even though there really was close to no danger with these games.

“Hit all the targets and win a prize.” He said with a sarcastic smile, as he had said the lines too many times today already, and no one had been able to get the prize. Even Graham had missed one of them, earning himself a disappointed glare from David.

“You hold it like this then?” Killian asked, and David nodded as he stepped back and let Killian fire away.

Hit.

Another hit.

Before he even had a chance to blink, all of the targets were turned and was making that annoying sound that David was sure would be ringing in his ears for days to come.

“Wow.” David said as he reset the game, before going back over to Killian and taking the rifle. “Do I want to know where you learned to shoot like that?”

“Probably not.” Killian answered “I’ve been around, picked up a thing or two.”

“I can see that.” David said as he clasped his hands together “Well.” He said as he put his hands on his hips and grinned at the man. “You get the main prize!”

“What happens if someone else comes along and beats the game?”

David shrugged and sighed “Truth be told, we have a lot of main prizes.” He said and couldn’t help but smile widely as Killian grinned at him.

He got the big plush horse with the cowboy hat and handed it over to Killian “Congratulations, cowboy!” he said.

“So the prize for the poor bugger who wins this game is to drag around a giant plush horse for the rest of the day?” Killian asked as he raised his eyebrows in disbelief, and David was wondering if he had even been to a carnival before, because of course, that was exactly what you won.

“Yeah.” He answered as he chuckled.

“Hey, David!” A familiar voice said and David turned his head to see Emma and Mary Margaret approaching them,

“Hey, Emma.” David said “Mary Margaret.”

“Hello, David.” Mary Margaret replied “Everything okay here?”

“Great.” David said “The whole thing is a huge hit, you should be proud!”

“Thanks.” She replied “But Regina did all the hard work, speaking of, have you seen here around?” she asked.

David glanced over at Killian for a moment before remembering seeing Regina heading towards the east entrance not too long ago, but since it was one of those days, he couldn’t help but try to help his friend out if he had the opportunity.

“I think she was going to help Robin set up for the archery contest.” David said and pointed towards the south field.

“Okay, thanks.” She said and gave Emma a nod before she headed in that direction.

“She’s not with Robin, is she?” Emma asked, and David shook his head.

“Not to my knowledge.” He said “When is she going to give him a chance though?”

“When she realizes he’s in love with her maybe?” Emma asked, before she looked to Killian who was still standing with the horse under his arm and overhearing the entire conversation. He also seemed to be staring at Emma like she was a ghost. “Have we met?” She asked, and David could tell right away that she was suspicious of the stranger.

“Killian Jones.” Killian said “Pleasure to meet you.”

“Emma.” She said, keeping her last name to herself as she reached out her hand, and instead of shaking it, Killian kissed the top of it. “Okay, so you’re more weird than creepy.” She said “You’ll fit right in here.”

“I hope so.” Killian said.

“You have plans on staying then?” David asked at once, kicking himself for sounding so curious. It wasn’t his fault though, it was rare that someone new came into town, it was even more rare when it was someone interesting and mysterious. Not something a sheriff would normally hope for, but David couldn’t help himself.

“You got the good price then?” Emma asked and gestured to the plush horse.

Killian held it up with one hand “Lucky me, right?”

“Right.” Emma answered with a smile. “Hey, can I take a picture for the paper?”

“No.” David answered at once, and Emma sighed and looked at him with those eyes that she knew that he couldn’t resist. “Fine, one picture.”

“Great!” She said with a grin “Do you mind standing right here.” She said as she put her arms on Killian’s shoulders and moved him exactly where she wanted him. “David, can you just move in a little closer to the left, and then a big smile from both of you!”

“I hate you.” David said while smiling, and Killian let out a laugh that David was sure could melt just about anyone who heard it.

“Thanks.” Emma said as she was finished taking the photos. “Now, I need to find Regina.”

“I think she’s with Kathryn, the pie eating contest is starting soon, so.” David said and pointed in the right direction this time.

“Great, thanks.” Emma said, sounding a bit nervous and David couldn’t blame her.

“Hey.” He said “Just take it slow okay, she’ll come around eventually, even though it might not be the way you want.”

Emma just looked at him for a second, as if he was accusing her of something and she was ready to defend herself, but then she let out a breath and nodded. “Thanks, David.” She said, and David gave her one last nod before Emma went to find Regina.

“Is everyone in this town heartbroken?” Killian asked and David shrugged at first, as he wasn’t even sure how to answer. “She seems like a good lass.”

“She is.” David said in a heartbeat.

“So who’s this Regina that everyone seems to be so interested in?” Killian asked, and if David wasn’t so tired he might have thought it sounded like Killian already knew the answer.

“She’s the mayor.” David replied. “Should have seen this town before she came around.”

“Must be quite the woman, then.” Killian replied, and it looked like he wanted to ask more questions but didn’t dare. David found it strange, just like everything else about the man.

“You could say that.” David said “Saved me when I was just a kid.”

Killian smiled at that, a warm and genuine smile that David found it hard to believe that many people got to see. He didn’t know why, but since the first time he had laid eyes on the man, there had seemed to be this sadness in him, this wall that he had put up. To be honest, there was nothing David wanted more than to break down those walls and learn his story, he blamed it on curiosity, but wondered if there was something else.

“You don’t seem like the kind of guy would need saving.” Killian said. “So you must be really close then?”

“How so?” David asked as he cocked his eyebrows and crossed his arms over his chest.

“Those who will save you even if you don’t need it, are often the ones who plan to stick around.” Killian said, and it sounded like he was speaking from personal experience. “Just saying, I’m guessing you could have survived just fine, but there’s nothing better in this world than to find a reason to live.

David didn’t know what to say to that, he had never found the words to describe what Regina had done for him all those years ago, but now Killian was summing it up perfectly. It was like he could read him without even trying, like he knew David inside and out, almost better than David knew himself. It was so scary, but also weirdly refreshing and amazing at the same time.

“There’s something about you, Killian.” David said.

“So I’ve been told.” He answered “You have quite the line, I’ll see you around, cowboy.”

David hadn’t even realized there was a long line of people waiting impatiently for their turn at the game until Killian had walked away.

*

Regina had been running around frantically trying to make sure everyone was having a fun time, on the outside though, she was hoping to look cool and in control. Earlier when she had been looking for Mary Margaret and found her talking to Robin, she knew it was going to be a good day. Regina only hoped that her friend would give the poor guy a chance to prove that he really was a good guy. One horrible date shouldn’t be a defining moment for what could be a great relationship.

Regina had been looking for Henry when she had all but stumbled upon Emma buying him an ice-cream cone and a soda. She hoped that one day that awful push-pull feeling in her heart would stop whenever she saw the blonde beauty.

“Hey, little man.” Regina said to Henry, even though she wanted to continue ignoring Emma, she knew that David was right. She was an adult, and she would most likely see Emma a lot because of their work, besides, Henry had forgiven her, maybe it was time that Regina did too.

“Hey, mom.” Henry answered with a beaming smile. “Emma bought me some ice- cream.”

“I can see that.” She said, and noticed how Emma nervously rubbed her palms on her jeans.

“I hope it’s okay.” Emma said and Regina nodded.

“Of course.” Regina replied, and brushed Henry’s messy hair away from his forehead and made a mental note of making sure he got a haircut soon. “You’ve always spoiled him.” She said jokingly.

“Yeah.” Emma replied. “So I’ve gotten some great pictures for the article, and everyone I’ve talked to say it’s your best event yet.”

“They always say that.” Regina said as she hugged Henry closer to her legs before putting her hands on his ears “They’re all a bunch of kiss-asses.”

Emma smiled and Henry swatted his mother’s arms away before diving into his ice-cream, Regina only hoped that he wouldn’t get sick.

“So I saw Mary Margaret and Robin talking earlier.” Emma remarked and Regina nodded with a smile.

“Maybe eight time will be the charm.” She answered and Emma nodded.

“I hope so.”

“You’ve always rooted for them.” Regina answered, and she knew why. When Emma had first gotten into town, Mary Margaret had taken her in while her leg was still healing, even though she barely knew a thing about her. Robin had been great and had rented Emma his old apartment above the bar for a lot less than it was worth, and he would always make her something to eat whenever she came home late from work.

Emma had told Regina once that they were the closest she had ever come to having a family. It stung a bit to think about how Regina had wanted Emma to be part of her and Henry’s family.

She shook the thoughts away and pushed any fantasy to the back of her mind. Regina knew she had to stop believing in this happy ending that she somehow still found herself thinking about from time to time.

When Emma was about to say something though, she was bluntly interrupted when a man bumped right into her, and if it wasn’t for Regina grabbing her arms, she probably would have fallen flat on her stomach.

“Hey!” Regina said almost protectively, even though it was clearly an accident. She did her best to ignore Henry’s wink as she let go of Emma with a sigh.

“Apologies, ladies – oh, hello again.”

“Hi.” Emma said as she took a step back and stood next to Regina. Regina on the other hand, had no idea what was going on, or who this stranger was.

“I don’t believe we’ve met.” The man said and held out his hand “I’m Killian, pleasure to meet you.”

“Regina.” She answered and reached out to shake the man’s hand, instead of shaking it though, he grabbed it with care and kissed the back of her hand once before letting go.

“Yeah, he does that.” Emma said. “Who says chivalry is dead, right? Must be a british thing.”

“You’re the mayor right?” He asked “David told me all about you.”

“David?” Regina asked before suddenly the name did ring a bell and it was like a lightbulb went off in hear head. “Of course, he’s told me all about you too.”

“Really?”

“Yes, as a sheriff he does like to inform me when a stranger shows up at his doorstep, knowing his name.” Regina said, and she could feel Emma smirk next to her.

“Well.” Killian said and coughed a little, probably trying to hide his embarrassment. “Who’s this young lad?”

“This is Henry.” Regina said as she put her hands on Henry’s shoulders “My son.”

Killian looked like he had just been told that alien was real then, and his entire facial expression changed in the matter of a moment. “You have a son?”

“Yes?” Regina asked, looking the man suspiciously up and down, she was starting to get what David was saying about something being off about the guy, even though he didn’t seem dangerous.

“Right.” He said, like he had shook himself out of a trance. “Nice to meet you, lad.”

“Where did you get that?” He asked and pointed to the horse that was still tucked underneath Killian’s arm.

“This dreadful thing?” Killian asked “You may have it, if you like.”

“He won it at David’s shooting game.” Emma said, and Regina smiled at Killian handed the horse over to her son.

“I’m going to go find Grace.” Henry said, and Regina gave him an approving nod before he ran off. Emma still stood awkwardly next to her, and Regina found it strange that she behaved that way around her. Emma, who had always been so courageous and strong, was acting like a teenager with her first crush.

“Good kid, that.” Killian said “Where’s his father at?”

“He doesn’t have one.” Regina answered at once, and normally she wasn’t that brute about the situation, especially to strangers, but she didn’t know anything else about this man than what David had told her and she did find the entire situation a little unsettling.

Killian looked like the kind of man who would reply something like ‘a boy needs a father’, but instead he just nodded in understanding.

“I’m sure he’s grateful to have such a caring mother then.” Killian said, and Regina wanted to ask how he knew anything about what kind of mother she would be, but decided against it.

“How long will you be in town for, exactly?” She asked instead.

“Not sure yet.” Killian said “I was hoping to find something worth staying for here.”

“And what’s that exactly?” Emma asked as she also joined in on the conversation. Regina knew her well enough to know that she was just as curious and determined, as Regina was herself. It used to be one of the things she loved the most about Emma. Used to be.

“A home.” Killian answered, and then his expression changed again, and there was something familiar about him that Regina almost found upsetting, but not in a bad way.

“Have you found it yet?”

“I’ll let you know.” He said as he excused himself and walked away. Regina couldn’t help but watch him disappear into the crowd.

“He’s weird, right?” Emma asked.

“Yes.”

“I feel like I should be more suspicious of him, but I’m just-“

“Not?” Regina finished the sentence for her, as she felt the same way. “I know, me too.”

“Might be good with a change of pace around here.” Emma said “Always fun with a bit of new blood.”

“Yes.” Regina answered almost bitterly “Haven’t had any new around here since Neal moved into town.” She knew exactly how she sounded, and to be honest, she didn’t care. Emma could be with Neal, or this Killian, or whoever she wanted. Regina had let her go. But if that was the case, why did she sound so bitter just mentioning his name?

“That’s not what I meant.” Emma said, she sounded hurt, but also a bit offended.

“Okay.” Regina answered.

“Is it always going to be this way?” Emma asked then, like she was afraid to know the answer.

“I hope not.” Regina replied, and it was the truth. She didn’t want to be uncivil with Emma, or for Henry to have to call her behind Regina’s back, or David having to talk to her on the phone in the middle of the night because Regina kept feeling like she would never be able to move on.

If she could be perfectly honest about herself, Regina wanted nothing more than to wrap herself in Emma’s arms and for them to be together, but she knew that it would be impossible and that was what killed her.

Not being able to let go, and not being able to be together. They were stuck in limbo.

“Regina, I want-“

“What?” Regina asked “What do you want, Emma?”

Emma shrugged and bit her lip as she looked down at her shoes, Regina wetted her lips and nodded, like they were having an entire conversation without saying as much as a word.

“You don’t know, right?” Regina asked “Let me know when you do, that would be a change of pace around here.”

“That’s not fair.” Emma said, and that was the Emma that Regina knew. The one who stood up for herself when others tried to keep her down. Regina just never thought that she would be the person that Emma felt the need to stand up against.

“None of this has been fair.” Regina replied, before walking away, knowing that she couldn’t face Emma one more minute, or she was afraid that her heart actually would beat right out of her chest.

*

“Hello there, little lady.” David said as soon as Regina came over to his booth. “Everyone seems to have tried the game, things are slowing down around here….” He stopped himself when he noticed the look on Regina’s face and realized she wasn’t there to check up on him. “Emma?”

Regina nodded.

“Love sucks.”

“So I’ve been told.” David said, as Regina went on his side of the booth and sat down on the small chair he had thrown his jacket over. “You okay?”

“I will be.” Regina replied “Oh, and I’ve met Killian.”

“Really?” David asked.

“Really.”

“And?”

“He was definitely hot enough to go in the dunk tank.”

Chapter Text

That Sunday David had decided to just stay home and not talk to anyone. The night before had been kind of rough. He was supposed to meet up with Kathryn after the fair, but they had both forgotten. Kathryn had remembered first and had come knocking on his door close to midnight and they had talked all night about how they were slipping away from each other.

She had only kissed his cheek and told him she would rather get some sleep at home, before leaving around six in the morning.

David didn't want to argue, because there was nothing to argue about. During their conversation, if he could call it that, he had simply listened, barely saying a word. Mostly because he knew that she was right about everything. They didn't prioritize or appreciate each other the way they used to, and when Kathryn asked him if he loved her, he couldn't even lie and say yes.

He didn't call Regina, and ignored her calls later that day after he had assumed she had talked to Kathryn. He just laid in bed, and dreamed of running away, something he hadn't done since he was a kid.  

**

“Hey, David!” Emma said as she ran across the street to catch up with David. “Wait up!”

“Hey, Em.” David replied as he stopped in his tracks, and greeted Emma with a smile. “How are you doing?”

“Great.” Emma said, and David sighed as he knew exactly what was on his friend’s mind.

“Regina told me about what happened at the fair this weekend.” David said “I’m sorry.”

“Me too.” Emma said “I’ve been thinking about it, and she was right.”

“About what?” David asked as he tried to recall what exactly Regina had said about their conversation.

“Me not knowing what I want.” Emma replied, and David sighed again.

“Well, maybe that is the case.” David said, and then put his hands on Emma’s shoulders when he saw the look of disappointment on her face. “Hey, that doesn’t mean that you two can’t work it out.”

“Yes it does.” Emma said “I ruined everything.”

David didn’t know what to say, he knew Emma and he knew Regina. They were meant for each other, he just knew it. Emma had been kind of a blessing for both of them, not only had she made Regina believe in love, but the way those two acted and sacrificed for each other, had made David believe in love as well.

“Do you know what you want now?” David asked “Because I love you, but Regina is my best friend, she has always been there for me and I can’t stand to see her or Henry that heartbroken again.”

Emma nodded and swallowed. “I never wanted to break her heart.”

“Why did you stick around?” David asked “You told me that you stayed for Regina, but after you broke up, you didn’t leave town, why?”

“Same reason I guess.” Emma answered with a shrug. “I just, I don’t wanna keep running anymore.” She said before laughing a little bitterly “Regina was right, I only know what I don’t want.”

“Then you still know more than I do.” David said and palmed her cheek, before he shrugged as well.

“You have a great life.” Emma said.

“I know.” David said “But sometimes, I gotta say, it feels like something is-“

“Missing?” Emma asked, and then David cocked his head to the side and nodded, like Emma knew exactly what he was talking about. “And not just something like missing a friend who moved away, but more like-“

“Missing a limb?” David asked then, and then it was Emma’s turn to look at him with surprise.

“Yes.” Emma said, before looking down at the ground and then up at David again. “It’s weird right?”

“Very weird.” David replied.

“It sort of helped when I got here.” Emma said “My friends, especially Mary Margaret and Robin, you and…”

“Regina?” David asked. “It’s okay.” He said with a smile “She saved me too.”

“You have never needed saving.” Emma said with a grin, and David was happy to see her smile again, and even happier to hear those words again.

“Have you been talking to Killian?” David asked “He said something similar.”

“Tall, dark and mysterious?” Emma asked “He likes you, you know.”

David laughed, and then suppressed the urge to ask why she thought that was the case. He was curious, which he shouldn’t be, because he had a girlfriend, at least he thought he did. Everything had just become so much more confusing lately.

“I have to get to work.” David said, and Emma nodded in understanding.

“Yeah, me too.” Emma said, "I need to proofread this article I’ve been working on."

“Good luck.” David said, and with that they parted ways like they hadn't just poured their hearts out to each other.

**

“Hey, boss.” Graham said as he sat down on David’s desk while popping a peanut into his mouth. “You want one?”

“No, thanks.” David answered as he continued tapping away on the computer “I am still behind on Killian’s paperwork after we brought him in.”

You brought him in.” Graham said “Meaning it’s your paperwork.”

David looked up and glared at him. “I know, thanks Graham.” He said before gesturing to the computer “That IT guy finally upgraded the software this morning, so I’m good to go.”

“Oh, are you doing the background check?” Graham asked as he got his own chair and popped it down next to David’s. “I love this part.”

“You are so weird, you know that right”? David asked, as he leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms over his chest as he waited for the search to go through. “Don’t you have anything better to do?”

“I really don’t.” Graham said “No one’s called in, and I am all done with my paperwork.”

“You need a hobby.” David said “Or a girlfriend, or both.”

Graham held up his hands and cocked his eyebrows at David. “I’m open for suggestions.”

David smiled at him, but didn’t say anything else. Truth be told, he didn’t know anyone single who was good enough for his friend, well, except for Regina, but he really hoped they would never go down that road again.

“Oh, lookie here.” Graham said as the computer beeped. “The plot thickens.”

“That can’t be right.” David said, there was more than one Killian Jones on record, but no one matching Killian’s description. “I can’t even find a birth certificate.”

"He's British." Graham pointed out "Was he even born here?"

"I don't know." David said as he kept scrolling down the pages "Not a passport, nothing."

“I love this guy.” Graham said “He’s the most exciting thing that has happened to this town since Emma Swan crashed into our sign.”

“That’s saying something.” David murmured as he continued trying to find something about Killian. He had been drawn to the mystery that was Killian Jones, but he had never thought that he would would be this mysterious. Part of him wanted to march right down to-, where the hell was he staying?

“Hey, where is he?” David asked Graham, who was still chewing on peanuts like it was his last meal.

“What?”

“Where’s he staying?” David asked, and Graham looked at him in confusion for a moment before he leaned back in his chair and grinned knowingly at David.

“What the hell are you grinning like an idiot for?” David asked.

“You were with this guy for hours.” Graham said “Like, almost two days.”

“Yes?”

“And you never once thought to ask the guy where he was staying?” Graham asked “Is this your first week on the job?”

“Shut up.” David answered “Do you know or don’t you?”

“Of course I know.” Graham said “I wrote it down in the file that you failed to fill out too.”

“Congratulations, you can be employee of the month.” David said sarcastically as he grabbed the file from where Graham was dangling it in front of his eyes.

“He’s staying at the motel down by the diner.” Graham said “Room 241.”

“Why, thank you Mister Helpful.” David said before getting up from his desk “Keep searching, I’m gonna go talk to him.”

“Good luck.” Graham called after him.

The conversation he had with Emma earlier was still going on repeat in his head as he made his way into Robin’s bar, and looked around for Killian. He had tried his motel room, but no one had answered, so he figured he’d think like Killian and had immediately thought of the bar.

“Hey, sheriff.” Robin greeted him once he had entered, and was looking around the room. “What are you looking for?”

“A guy we both know.” He said “About my height, dark hair, probably wearing black?”

“Ah.” Robin said with a grin “Now who’s the stalker?”

“Very funny.” David said, realizing that word had spread about Killian even faster than he’d thought. “You’ve seen him, or what?”

Robin just continued grinning at him and then pointed his pen towards one of the booths in the back where David could see the back of Killian’s head.

“Thanks, man.” David said and patted his arm before walking over to confront Killian about his mysterious past that now was more intriguing from a sheriff's point of view than a personal one.

“Hey there.” He said as he sat down opposite of Killian, who was sitting by himself with a plate of fries that had gone cold in front of him.

“Dave.” He said in a surprised tone, and a small smile on his lips. “What are you doing here?”

“Looking for you.” David said, and when Killian smiled, David almost felt bad and he didn’t even know why.

“I’m glad.” Killian said “I forgot my personal belongings at the station.”

“Right.” David said, as he tried not to get side-tracked or distracted like he usually did when it came to Killian Jones. “Wanna tell me why you’re not in the system?”

“What system?” Killian asked on a sigh, like he was already bored with the conversation or was hoping that David was been there on pleasure instead of business.

“I can’t find any record of you anywhere.” David said “Not even a birth certificate.”

“Well, that's rather odd isn't it.” Killian said, but David could see right through him and he could see that there was something he was hiding. "I wasn't born here you know."

“This is your chance to come clean, Killian.” David said “Or else I’m hauling your ass back in.”

“I didn’t do anything!” Killian replied, clearly upset about the situation, or maybe just with David, but David couldn’t back down now.

There was something about Killian that David felt disturbing, yet pleasant. It terrified David how he felt about him, how he made him feel. He didn’t even know the man, yet he brought this feeling to David’s chest that he couldn’t explain. Killian said these things and acted like he had known David longer than forever, yet David wasn’t even suspicious of him and that was more scary than anything David could imagine.

“Why are you here?” David asked “Why did you come here?”

Killian laughed a bitter laugh then, like the universe had just told him to go stick it. “I thought you’d remember.” He said "That stupid book, she said it would work." he mumbled under his breath and David was really starting to wonder if the man was crazy.

“Remember what?” David asked, completely captivated, but also impatient. “Do I know you?”

Killian wetted his lips and David couldn’t help but stare, it wasn’t until he saw the sadness in his eyes that he realized just exactly how lost the man actually was.

“Apperantly not.” Killian said as he got up from the table and was heading for the exit. David was left in a daze for a moment before he followed him, ignoring Robin asking what the hell was going on.

“Killian!” David yelled after him as Killian was basically running across the street to get away from David. “Wait!”

He only blinked for a moment, and then there was a loud screech, Killian grabbing his arms, and something that sounded like a car honking before everything went black.

Chapter Text

Regina had hurried to the hospital as soon as she had gotten the call from Robin, a thousand different scenarios running through her head. David had to be okay, he just had to. David had been such a reckless teenager, always getting into trouble, even after Regina had taken him under her wing, but he had never gotten seriously hurt. Until now.

Regina was scared, and sad, and absolutely infuriated. Robin hadn’t given her any details, and she had barely been able to hear a word after he had told her that David was hurt and was taken to the hospital, but she remembered him mentioning Killian’s name. If that man had anything to do with what happened to David, he was going to wish he had never been born.

She had no idea her mind could even go to a place like that, but suddenly she felt a stronger urge to protect him than ever before. Like it was in her bones, in her blood. It was scary.

Regina rushed through the doors of the hospital and took a deep breath as she saw Robin and Mary Margaret looking distressed.

“Mary Margaret- what?” Was all Regina was able to ask as he reached them, and looked desperately between the two of them.

“I was volunteering today.” Mary Margaret answered “In the children’s ward?”

“Right, Monday.” Regina said before swallowing “How is he? Where’s David?”

Robin shook his head “He’s still in with the doctors.” He said “We don’t know much yet, not family you know.”

“I’m his emergency contact.” Regina answered “What about this Killian guy, you said-“

“I didn’t see what happened.” Robin replied, as he nervously entwined his fingers “But he called David’s name, and then when I made it outside they were just both lying on the ground, the car had taken off.”

“He was hurt as well?” Regina asked, and Robin nodded. Regina didn’t really understand what had happened, but she didn’t still believe that Killian had tried to hurt David. To be honest though, she wasn’t sure of anything these days. Her life seemed to have been flipped upside down during these last few weeks.

Just when she was about to find a nurse or a doctor or someone who could tell her what the hell was going on, she remembered that Henry was getting out of school earlier that day.

“Shit.” She said and looked to Mary Margaret “Could you please do me a favor?”

“Of course.”

“Henry’s getting out of school early today.”

“I’m on it.” Mary Margaret said before pulling Regina into a comforting hug. “It’s going to be okay.”

“What would I do without you two?” She asked “What would anyone in this town do without the two of you really?”

Robin chuckled “You’re the one to talk.”

Regina smiled. “I’m serious.” She said “Thank you.”

“I’ll go get Henry.” Mary Margaret said.

“Thanks.” Regina said again “He trusts you, please let him know that I love him and everything will be okay.”

“Of course.” She answered, she then looked up at Robin and put a comforting hand on his arm. “I’ll see you later.” She said.

“Yeah.” Robin replied.

She gave them both another nod before leaving to pick up Henry from school. Regina looked after her for a second before shaking her head in disbelief.

“I used to think I was good in a crisis, but that woman-“

“Tell me about it.” Robin said with a proud look on his face.

“You’re really in love with her, aren’t you?” Regina asked, it was more than a statement than a question really, but Robin sighed and nodded all the same.

“I’m not good enough for her.” He said, sadly. “But I think she should give me a chance anyway, since no one really is.”

Regina chuckled at that and slapped his arm “You are perfect for each other.” Regina said “She’s just so used to helping everyone else, that sometimes she forgets to help herself.”

“I want to help her.” Robin said “I want to be there for her.”

“I know you do.” Regina answered with a knowing look on her face and a smile on her lips. Before she could say anything else though, a doctor tapped on her shoulder and introduced himself.

“Hello, are you Regina Mills?” He asked and she nodded, and vaguely remembered the man from her earlier days as mayor, when she had been working closely with the hospital board to make sure it wouldn’t be shut down.

“Yes.” Regina said “And this is Robin, he’s also family.”

The doctor smiled “Very well.” He said “I’m Doctor Whale, I’m David’s physician.”

“Is he okay?” Regina asked.

“He is.” Doctor Whale replied and Regina let out a breath she didn’t even know she had been holding. She was never going to be ungrateful for anything ever again. “He took quite the bump to the head so we were worried about a concussion, but he's fine, it's just a fractured rib.”

“What about the other guy?” Robin asked as he placed a hand on Regina’s shoulder. “Killian?”

“He’s alright as well.” Doctor Whale said “I think he might have saved David’s life.”

“How so?” Regina asked.

“David’s memory was a little fuzzy, but he remembered Killian trying to pull him out of the street.” He said “After what I can see from their injuries, it seems like the car’s side only nicked them and the majority of their injuries was caused as they hit the ground.”

“He tried to save him.” Regina said, and suddenly felt a little dizzy. “Why would he risk his life like that?” she asked, looking to Robin like he would have the answers.

“I don’t know.” Robin said “There’s something about him though, has he been in town before?”

Regina shook her head “I can’t remember him, maybe before I got here?” She asked and Robin looked like he was thinking about it.

“I don’t think so.” He said, and Regina nodded. Robin was already grown-up when he had taught David how to survive on the street, trying to convince him to stay out of trouble, he would have remembered a man of Kilian’s… Uniqueness, even if it was a long time ago.

“Do you want to go see him?” Doctor Whale asked, and Regina had completely forgotten he was even there.

“Yes, please.” She said.

“One at a time please.” Doctor Whale said, and Regina nodded.

“You go.” Robin said “Anything I can do?”

“Yes.” Regina said, actually, there was someone she had completely forgotten about in the midst of all the chaos. “Could you all Kathryn and let her know?”

“Yes, sure.” He said and squeezed her shoulder before Regina followed the doctor into David’s room. He had a few bruises and cuts on his left cheek, and he was pretty pale, but otherwise he seemed okay.

“Hey, your majesty.” David said with a grin as he noticed her entering the room.

“You idiot.” She replied as she went over to him and sat down, before taking his hand in hers and squeezing it. “What kind of moron runs into the street like that? I should have you fired.”

“I needed to follow him.” David said, and his voice was a little slurry and the nurse that Regina hadn’t even noticed told her it was because of the drugs. “Always, promised.”

“Okay, it’s okay.” Regina said “When can I take him home?”

“Because of his head injury, we’d like to keep him overnight for observation.” The nurse replied with a smile, before she left the two of them alone.

“You scared the shit out of me.” She said “Why do you always have to get into trouble?”

He smiled at her. “Where is he?”

“Killian?” Regina asked “He’s here somewhere, he’s okay.”

“What happened?” David asked, and Regina shrugged her shoulders, not entirely sure what to say.

“Your guess is as good as mine.”

“He saved me.” David said and Regina nodded.

“Looks like it.”

“Why?”

She shook her head and squeezed his hand harder “I don’t know.” She replied.

“The book.” David said “He was saying something about a book.”

“What book?” Regina asked, David was still groggy from the drugs and wasn’t making much sense at the moment.

“I had a dream about a ship.”

Regina smiled and palmed his cheek “I’m sure it was a nice dream.”

Regina sat with him for a little while, before she went outside to let Robin come in and talk to him about what he had seen. Graham would be there soon to ask questions as well, so they could try to find the driver who had hit them.

Regina was pacing the halls, when she heard her phone ring.

Emma

Shit, she had forgotten to tell her.

“Hey.” Regina said as soon as she picked up the phone.

“Is he okay?” Emma asked at once, and Regina let out a sigh. Of course she had heard by now, and must have been worried sick.

“He’s fine.” Regina said “Took a nasty bump to the head, and he has a broken rib.” She said “I’m sorry I didn’t call you, everything was just so hectic.”

“I get it.” Emma said “It’s okay, I just wanted to know if he was okay.”

“He’s fine.” Regina said with a smile.

“And you?” Emma asked “Are you okay?”

Regina swallowed and almost wanted to let the tears threatening to spill, fall down her cheeks, but she couldn’t break down, not there. “Yeah.”

“Liar.” Emma said, and Regina had to laugh at that. “Henry’s here.”

“Is he okay?” Regina asked “I should talk to him.”

“He’ll be relieved.” Emma replied “Hope it’s okay, Mary Margaret said he’d asked for me so I came right over, we’re at your house.”

“Of course it’s okay.” Regina said “Whatever he wants, please let him know that David’s fine.”

“Yeah, I will.” Emma answered, and then she was quiet, like she didn’t know what to say. There was a time when Emma Swan was rarely lost for words, but now it seemed to be the case whenever Regina talked to her. She guessed it was her own fault, and that Emma tried treading lightly.

“How late are you going to be?” Emma asked

Regina sighed “I don’t know.” She said “I'll be home soon, I think.”

She could almost hear Emma smile on the other end of the line, and it wasn’t until then that Regina realized how happy she was to hear her voice. Regina was usually able to keep herself in check and control her emotions, a woman in her position shouldn’t show weakness, but whenever something happened that made her unable to control her emotions, Emma had always been able calm her down. It seemed like she still could. Regina smiled.

“I’ll see you soon, Emma.” She said “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” Emma answered before hanging up, and Regina felt like she had traveled back in time to when she would call Emma when she was on her way home and Emma would be so excited for them to have dinner, or go to the movies with Henry, or whatever they had planned.

Regina missed it. She missed everything they used to have. Almost everything.

“Regina?” A familiar voice asked and Regina turned around to see Killian Jones up and walking. “Have you seen David, is he alright?” he asked, almost desperate. “No one will talk to me in this bloody place.”

“Hi.” Regina said as she looked the man up and down, he had a bandaged wrist, but otherwise seemed okay. “Yes, he’s okay.”

Killian let out a breath of relief, and Regina still didn’t understand what was going on with him or who he was. She had a million questions she wanted to ask, but all she was able to say was:

“Thank you for saving him.”

“It was my pleasure, really.” He said “He’s a good man, besides, he was running after me, it was my fault.” He sounded so guilty that Regina wanted to shake him and tell him to get his act together, but she knew that that wouldn't be the right approach.

“It wasn’t your fault, and yes, he is a good man.” Regina said “But you don’t even know him.”

He looked down at the floor “No, I suppose I don’t.” He said “I guess he just reminds me of someone.”

Regina felt bad for him, without knowing why, she had barely spoken to him before. She did feel bad though, and she had to trust her gut with this man, just like David had. The one thing Regina did know about him was that he had risked his own life to save David’s and that would have to be enough.

“He’s right down the hall.” Regina said. “I’ll walk with you.”

“Are you sure that’s a good idea?” Killian asked, more unsure of himself than Regina thought was possible for a man of his nature.

“Yes.” Regina said “I think he would like to see you.”

Killian smiled then and nodded. Regina smiled back at him and laughed when Killian gestured for her to lead the way with a small courtesy.

“You really are a man out of time, aren’t you?”

“I’ve been told it’s a British thing.” Killian replied with a wink and Regina couldn’t help but grin again.

Regina was really starting to like the guy, even if she had been suspicious of him at first, but that might have been because when they had first met, she had gotten the impression that he was flirting with Emma.

He stopped abruptly just before they were going to enter the room David was in, and Regina looked at Killian who seemed devastated for a second before pulling himself together, she then turned her attention towards the room in front of them.

There was Kathryn holding onto David for dear life, and Robin awkwardly leaning against the wall. Regina should be happy for what she was seeing, she had always liked the idea of her two best friends together and was upset when Kathryn had called her telling her it might be over between the two of them. Now she didn’t know what to believe anymore.

“Excuse me.” Regina said as she made her way into the room.

**

David was happy to see Kathryn’s face when she came through the door, and sat down on his bed, a look of pure relief on her face.

“I am so glad you’re okay!” She said and with teary eyes she had pulled him into a hug, ignoring Robin telling her she needed to be gentle with him, especially his head. A moment later, Regina entered the room, and while his head was still resting on Kathryn’s shoulder, he saw Killian Jones standing right outside, staring at him.

He let out a breath and just stared at him, and his arms around Kathryn went weak, no longer holding onto her. Killian smiled at him before walking away.

Kathryn pulled away then and looked at him with a frown, while David was still looking at the spot where Killian had just been moments earlier. “Are you sure you’re alright?” she asked and David turned his attention back to her, smiling at her.

“Sure, yes.” He said “Regina, was that?”

“He wanted to make sure you were alright.” Regina replied “He felt guilty.”

“He saved me.” David said, a little stubborn.

“You were chasing after him.” Regina said with a shrug “He felt like it was his fault.”

“It wasn’t.” David said and Regina nodded in understanding as she went over and grabbed a hold of his hand again. Somehow it made David felt safe.

“Hey, I have to go home to Henry.” Regina said, and David wanted to kick himself for not thinking about him earlier.

“Is he okay? David asked and Regina nodded.

“Emma is with him.” She said.

“Really?” David asked and wiggled his eyebrows, and Regina looked instantly irritated with him.

“If you weren't in a hospital bed, I would punch you right now.”

“I know.” David said “But seriously, go, say hi to them from me.”

Regina nodded, but didn’t move and David frowned at her as it looked like she wanted to ask him something, but didn’t know how.

“Hey guys, can you give us a second?” David asked, and Kathryn and Robin both nodded before leaving the room. “What’s going on? Spill?”

“When you woke up, you said something about a book?” Regina asked “Do you remember?”

David thought about it for a moment before shaking his head, ignoring the slight nausea and dizziness that followed. “No, I don’t- Wait.” He said as he remembered something “Killian said something about a book when we were at Robin’s.”

“What?”

“I don’t know.” David said “He was mumbling.”

“There’s something about him, David.” Regina said.

“Yeah, I know.” David replied.

Not long after, the doctor came to let them all know that David needed his rest and that they should leave, Regina had been halfway home before her she stopped her car abruptly in the middle of the street as she remembered something.

She got her phone and texted Emma, letting her know that she just had to make a quick stop on her way back.

Chapter Text

As soon as Regina came home, there was a pair of arms wrapped around her waist and a happy kid smiling up at her.

“David’s alright?” Henry asked, and Regina smiled at him before kissing the top of his head.

“He’s okay.” She replied “Promise.”

“Hey.” Emma said as she came down the stairs. She looked pretty tired, with her hair up in a messy ponytail and her make-up slightly smudged.

“What’s that on your shirt?” Regina asked, and Emma looked down before chuckling.

“Oh, flour.” She said “We made pancakes.”

“That’s nice.” Regina said as she ruffled Henry’s hair before taking off her coat and shoes, wanting nothing more than to lay down on the couch and watch a good movie.

“What’s that, mom?” Henry asked, and Regina held up the present for David that was still in it’s wrapping paper.

“It was a birthday present for David.” She said before turning her attention to Emma. “It was on his doorstep the morning of his birthday, I guess he forgot to open it.”

“What is it?” Emma asked.

“A book.” Regina replied as she weighed it in her hand “At least, I think so.”

“Why do you have it?” Henry asked, with the curiosity of a child. Regina couldn’t exactly tell her son the truth, and nor did she want to lie to him.

“Could you do me a favor?” She asked, answering a question with another question was something she had learned from David when he was still just a teenager. Worked like charm though, at least I would until the day Henry found out what she was doing.

Henry nodded.

“Go get some towels and put them in the guest bedroom?” She asked “David will be staying with us for a couple of days after he gets out of the hospital tomorrow and I want everything ready.”

“Okay!” He said, clearly more than happy to do something that could help David. Regina honestly didn’t know what she would do without that kid.

“So what’s up with the mystery present?” Emma asked as soon as Henry was out of ear-shot. Regina beckoned her to follow her into her study, so that Henry wouldn’t eavesdrop, something he had a history of doing.

“Do you remember Killian?” Regina asked and Emma nodded.

“Yeah, kind of hard to forget.” She said “Why?”

“He was with David when he had his accident.”

Emma frowned her for a moment before putting her hands on her hips and looked to where Regina was leaning against her desk. “You think he had something to do with it?”

“No.” Regina said “He saved his life actually.”

“Really?”

“The doctor seemed to think so.” Regina said “He was mumbling something about a book and David had no clue what he was talking about, but on my way home I remembered that this present was on the doorstep of David’s apartment the morning of his birthday and that I thought it had felt like a book of some sorts.”

“What do you think it means?” Emma asked “Do you think Killian sent it?”

Regina shrugged “He seems to know David, and I can’t explain it, but…” She said, trailing off “I don’t know, maybe they met when they were just kids?”

“What do you think the book means?” Emma asked, she was such a curious person, which was great when it came to her work, it was probably why she made such a great journalist too. She never stopped until she had her story.

“I was hoping for some kind of photo album or something?” Regina replied before she started unwrapping the paper, and Emma didn’t even mention the fact that it wasn’t theirs and that they shouldn’t just open it without David’s consent.

“What is that?” Emma asked with raised eyebrows as she took a step closer so she could also check out the content of the gift.

“Well, it is a book.” Regina said as she looked down at it. “It’s huge.”

“Yep.” Emma said “That’s one big book.”

Regina looked up and offered her a smile, before she opened it up and flipped through the pages. “It looks like a book of fairytales.” She said, and Emma frowned before she sat down on the desk next to Regina.

“Okay, that’s strange.” Emma said. “What do you think it means?”

“I don’t know.” Regina said and was about to take a closer look at the stories when a yawning Henry entered the study.

“What are you doing?” he asked.

“Nothing.” Regina answered at once.

“Okay?” Henry asked, he wasn’t stupid, but he seemed too tired to play detective at the moment. “Can we watch a movie?”

“Have you done your homework?” Regina asked.

“Yeah, Emma helped me.” He said and smiled at Emma who winked at him back. It felt too much like old times that Regina didn’t even know how to feel about the situation. It was nice, familiar, but also a little heartbreaking.

Regina nodded “Sure, sweetheart.”

Henry beamed at that. “You’re staying, right Emma?”

“Oh, I don’t know-“ Emma said, clearly not prepared for the question.

“Please.” Henry said.

“You should stay.” Regina said while offering the flustered Emma a genuine smile. “I’ll make popcorn.”

Emma nodded and smiled then, that shy smile that Regina used to think was reserved for her. “Yeah, okay.”

Henry fell asleep halfway through the movie, it had been a stressful day for him so Regina understood that he must be tired, even though it was usually impossible to get him to bed on time.

“Down for the count then?” Emma asked when Regina returned downstairs after tugging Henry in.

“Yeah, he was exhausted.” Regina said “He should have had some dinner before going to bed though,”

“He ate a big lunch.” Emma said “He really loves his pancakes, doesn’t he?”

“Especially since you started making him chocolate chip ones.” Regina said as she pretended to be the upset parent, but Emma probably saw right through her, just like always. “My blueberry ones could never compete again.”

Emma laughed then so a strand of hair fell into her face, and Regina wanted nothing more than to brush it away from her beautiful face. Instead, Emma let her hair out and shook her head a few times, making it fall perfectly around her shoulders.

“I guess I should get going now?” Emma asked, and it was a question, not a statement, like she was hoping for Regina to tell her to stay.

Regina didn’t know what she wanted, or she did actually. All she ever wanted was to be with Emma Swan, but none of the issues they had had that caused their break-up had been resolved and Regina didn’t know how they could move forward if that was still the case.

“Maybe you could stay for a little while.” Regina offered, “I think we need to talk, for real.”

Emma nodded “I’d like that.”

It wasn’t as awkward or as terrifying as Regina had thought it would be, to finally sit down face-to-face with the woman that had broken her heart even though Regina still worried about what exactly the conversation would reveal.

“I never wanted to hurt you.” Emma said “I know that’s a cliché, and it doesn’t matter that much now, but I just think I need for you to hear that.”

“Okay.” Regina said, trying not to sound too stern. “I'm not trying to start a fight here, Em, but why did you leave like you did then?”

“I was scared.” Emma said, but Regina didn’t want to hear that, because she knew why Emma had left, she just didn’t know why she had to take off without as much as a chance for Regina to explain herself.

“I know that.” Regina said “But you just left.”

Emma nodded “It was unfair of me, I know.” She said “I was an idiot.”

“You are a lot of things.” Regina said as she looked at that stubborn, hotheaded, strong and beautiful woman in front of her. “But you have never been an idiot.”

“I wasn’t ready to be what you wanted.” Emma said.

“I never asked you to change.” Regina said, feeling like Emma was putting the blame on her. She knew that their relationship hadn’t been perfect, but that didn’t mean that what Emma was saying was fair.

“You’re misunderstanding.” Emma said “I never really liked who I was, you know.” She said before taking a deep breath. “But then I came here, and I met you and suddenly I had all these people who cared about me and I was really starting to like the person I was becoming.”

“You were always that person.” Regina said, knowing it was true. “You just needed to let someone in so they could see it.”

Emma let out a broken laugh, and Regina could see how difficult it was for her to put something so personal into words. Regina had always hated seeing Emma upset, no matter what might have happened between them, that would probably never change.

“So when I found that ring, I was afraid that if we took the next step, then I would become your wife-“ She stopped herself and took a deep breath, as if the word was just too hard to say, like it had too much meaning, “And Henry’s step-mother, and I would lose myself.”

“Emma…”

“Please, let me finish.” Emma said as she took another deep breath. “Robin, Mary Margaret, David, you, Henry… You were my family, and I’d never had that before.”

Regina wanted to say that she still had a family, but decided to let Emma finish before saying anything.

“You were so strong, and so fantastic and I loved you so much.” She continued “And I guess a part of me thought that I didn’t deserve any of it.”

“Emma.” Regina said, as she was unable to listen to any more. It was breaking her heart. “I get that you were scared, but I never thought-“ She said before sighing “I part of that might have been my fault…”

“No, Regina.”

“No, my turn.” Regina said stubbornly. “I may have had some unrealistic expectations of our relationship, I just never thought I’d find someone who’d want me the way that you did, or be so good to Henry, it was unfair of me to put that pressure on you.”

“I was the one who left.” Emma said “We could have talked about all this.”

Regina sighed heavily “I can’t believe this mess happened just because of that ring.

“I’ve been thinking about it a lot.” Emma said “Like almost every day.”

“What’s that?” Regina asked, as she was still trying to pull herself together after the emotional roller-coaster they had just gone through.

“What I would have said.” Emma replied “If you had ever gotten the chance to ask.”

“You would have said ‘no’.” Regina said, sternly as she offered Emma another smile to let her know that she was not bitter about that.

“You can’t know that.” Emma said.

“Of course I know that.” Regina said “Which is why I didn’t ask.”

“What?” Emma asked then, raising her eyebrows.

“I wasn’t going to propose.” Regina said “I mean, someday hopefully, because I wanted a happily ever after with you, but I had no plan to propose any time soon when you found that ring.”

She almost wanted to laugh now that she had finally said it out loud. The whole situation had just been ridiculous, and really showed how their relationship wasn’t as strong as Regina thought it was at the time.

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

Regina scoffed “You never gave me the chance.” She said.

“I am so, so, sorry.” Emma said “I really am an idiot.”

“No, you’re not.” Regina insisted as she shook her head. “It’s for the best.”

“I guess so.” Emma said, nodding her head in agreement, even though she seemed sad. “I’d never regret it though, being with you.”

“Me neither.” Regina replied “I was more in love with you than-“she stopped herself from saying something inappropriate.

“Was?” Emma asked then, gleam of hope in her eyes.

“Don’t ask me that, please.” Regina said, and Emma only nodded, probably realizing that it wasn’t a fair question even though she was dying to know the answer.

“Sorry.” She replied, as she looked down at her feet. “I keep messing this up.”

“I just think that we both learned a lot after we broke up.” Regina said, and after what Emma had just told her, she really meant it. A part of her wished that they had been able to work it out and that things had been so good that it outweighed the bad, but that hadn’t been the case. They had been too young, and Emma had been to restless. Regina had prioritized her work, and had put too much pressure on Emma to give her the one thing she missed from her life.

Now she was aware of that, and she could see clearly that it hadn’t all been Emma’s fault. Emma had grown, she had settled down and made friends, and she didn’t seem to want to run anymore. They had grown as individuals when they were together, and then they had grown even more while being apart.

Regina felt like they had both realized who they were, and who they wanted to be and maybe they could someday want the same thing and then it would be enough.

“I think so to.” Emma said with a smile “I wish it had worked out though.”

“Yeah, me too.” Regina said as she sighed heavily, before her eyes wandered to something she had completely forgotten. “Do you have anywhere you need to be?” Regina asked.

“No?” Emma said with a shrug.

“Why don’t you stay over?” Regina asked “You can take the guest room, David isn’t coming until tomorrow.”

“Really?” Emma asked, she seemed both surprised and happy by the offer.

“Sure.” Regina said “It’s getting late, and then you can check out that weird fairytale book with me tomorrow morning.”

“Okay.” Emma said “I just have to text Mary Margaret and tell her I won’t be home tonight.”

Regina smiled “Yes, please do.” She said “She was a big help today.”

“She’s one of kind, alright.” Emma answered.

Regina nodded, and entwined her fingers nervously “I just can’t wrap my head around this book thing.”

“Why don’t you ask Killian about it?” Emma asked, and grinned when Regina pretended to look as innocent as possible. “You are such a little Nancy Drew.”

“It’s fun.” Regina said “Henry loves these kinds of missions, but I don’t think I should involve him in this one.”

“I remember.” Emma said with a smile, and Regina couldn’t help but return it.

“I could be wrong though.” Regina said “I mean, it did just seem like a fairytale book, nothing suspicious about that.”

“Except that it’s a really weird gift?” Emma pointed out. “I agree with you, I think something’s going on.”

“Now who’s being a Nancy Drew?” Regina asked and raised her eyebrows in amusement.

“Shut up.” Emma said on a laugh. “You haven’t eaten anything, there’s some leftover pancake batter if you want something to eat before going to bed.”

Regina smiled “Yeah, sure.” She said “I’ll make hot chocolate… With cinnamon.”

Emma grinned. “My favorite.”

Chapter Text

David sighed as he tapped his fingers against his thigh; he was restless and tired of being in the hospital. It had only been one night and he was already looking forward to getting out of there. After everyone had left the day before, Kathryn had stayed behind and they had finally had the conversation that they had both been postponing for what seemed like forever.

It was over.

David was strangely okay with that, they had left on good terms, something he was sure they wouldn’t have if they had tried to stay together any longer when it clearly wasn’t working out.

He sighed and leaned his head back against the pillows. As David closed his eyes, his mind wandered to a certain handsome stranger who had looked completely heartbroken when he had seen David with Kathryn the previous day. Killian who had jumped into the street to save him, even though he didn’t know him.

He did know him though, David thought. Killian read him like an open book in a way that no one else, except maybe Regina, had been able to before. At first David had thought it was terrifying, and now he just thought it was strangely comforting. His train of thoughts were interrupted when a couple of nurses and his doctor entered the room and said that they were going to take him down for another CT scan before they could discharge him.

David nodded and tried his best to forget about the man for a little while.

**

“Henry!” Regina yelled up the stairs as she tried to locate the math homework she had looked over for Henry. “You’re going to be late, come on!”

“You looking for this?” Emma asked as she held up the notebook.

Regina let out a relieved sigh as she smiled at Emma and took the notebook from her. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome, you still forget where you-“

“Henry!” Regina yelled again “Mary Margaret will be here any minute, hurry up!”

Emma laughed at how irritated Regina sounded.

“I’m coming!” Henry replied as he ran down the stairs, all dressed and ready with his backpack in his hand.

“You haven’t even eaten.” Regina said, completely distraught. It was her own fault, everything had been so chaotic the night before so she had forgotten to set her alarm and they had all overslept. “Go to the kitchen and grab an apple and a breakfast muffin, please.” She said “Your lunch is on the counter.”

Henry just stood there looking between Emma and Regina as if they were the most fascinating creatures in the world. Emma raised her eyebrows at him and Regina just sighed in frustration.

“What is it, Henry?” She asked.

“Nothing.” He replied with a knowing smile on his lips before he ran past them and into the kitchen.

“Your kid is so weird.” Emma said and Regina scowled at her.

“Only I can say that.” She said, but smiled nonetheless. She was about to say something more when they heard the doorbell ring. Regina let out a groan before she hurried to the door and opened it.

“Hi.” She said as she greeted Mary Margaret on the other side.

“Good morning.” Mary Margaret replied as she stepped inside “Is Henry ready?”

“Yes.” Regina said “Thank you so much for picking him up.”

“No problem.” Mary Margaret answered “We’re both going to the same place.”

Regina smiled “Yes, but I know it’s a bit of a detour.”

Mary Margaret blushed slightly then and looked down at her shoes, and suddenly Emma was standing right next to Regina and pointed accusingly at her friend. “You’re doing that thing.”

“What thing?” Mary Margaret asked innocently.

“That thing where you try to avoid eye contact because you did something that you don’t want us to know about.” Emma said, and this caught Regina’s attention as well. Emma had always been good at reading people, but when it came to Mary Margaret, she was a natural.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about- Henry!” Mary Margaret said, happy to see Henry appear. “Are you ready to go?”

“Yes.” Henry said with a smile and a nod. Once again he looked back to his mother and Emma and grinned like an idiot.

“Speaking of someone with secrets.” Regina said knowingly as she crossed her arms over her chest and looked suspiciously at Henry.

“We should go.” Henry said then and almost pushed at Mary Margaret who couldn’t agree more, since Emma was still trying to read her.

“Yep.” She answered “I’ll see you guys later.”

“Hey, wait.” Emma said and grabbed Mary Margaret’s arm as Henry ran towards her car. “Does this have anything to do with a certain bartender we know?”

Regina’s mouth dropped open.

“I’m sorry.” Mary Margaret said, and it was so weird how she could go from blushing teacher to strong and confident in the matter of seconds “I have no idea what you are talking about; besides, I wasn’t the one who spent the night at my ex-girlfriend’s house.”

“You have an ex-girlfriend?” Emma asked, and yes, she was a master in avoiding questions she didn’t want to answer as well.

Mary Margaret rolled her eyes at her. “I’ll see you later.” She said, before leaving and following Henry.

“Do you really think she was with Robin last night?” Regina asked as she closed the door.

“I don’t know.” Emma said “But she was there when I texted her last night.”

“Really?” Regina asked.

Emma nodded “Yeah.” She said “I think Robin was having a bit of a hard time with watching David getting hit by that car without being able to do anything.”

“Oh.” Regina said, she hadn’t even thought about that.

“Yeah.” Emma said “He’s really just a big softy.”

“And Mary Margaret is actually tough as iron.” Regina said and Emma nodded in agreement.

“Perfect match.”

“Yes.” Regina said “Perfect match.”

Emma smiled a little nervously then and put her hands on her hips “So, you’re ready to do some recon on that book?”

“Yes!” Regina said, almost a little too excitingly. “I’ve already called the office and said I’m going to be late so why not?”

“Great.” Emma said and clasped her hands together “Where is it?”

“I think I left it on my dresser.” Regina said “I’ll go get it.”

“Okay.” Emma said “I’m gonna grab one of those delicious breakfast muffins.” She said with a wink, before Regina made her way upstairs.

Even though she had been worried about reconnecting with Emma, she realized that it was a good thing. Emma wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and even if she did, Regina liked the thought that they would part on good terms and that she now knew that she would be strong enough to deal with it. That didn’t mean that the thought of losing Emma again was devastating though.

Regina frowned when she found the book on her bed, she had been so sure that she had left it on the dresser.

“Did you find it?” She could hear Emma shouting from downstairs, and it sounded like her mouth was full of food. Regina sighed as she picked up the book and hurried downstairs.

“It’s heavy.” Regina said and Emma nodded and cocked her eyebrows.

“It’s big.” Emma said “Like, big-big.”

“Sometimes you talk like a teenager.” Regina pointed out as they made their way to Regina’s study.

“You know that right?”

“Yes, I am well aware.” Emma said with a nod and Regina almost laughed at her as they sat down on the couch.

Regina started flipping through the pages, and took in the beautiful images and the words written in it. The book looked quite old and in the back of her mind, Regina wondered if it was worth anything.

“I used to love fairytales.” Regina said as she looked up from the pages and met Emma’s eyes. “I’m going to see if I have any books here so we can compare.”

“I know.” Emma said as Regina placed the book in Emma’s lap before she got up from her chair to go look through her bookcase. “I remember you reading the same fairytales to Henry over and over again.”

Regina smiled. “Yes, and he asked you to make up new ones because he was tired of mine.”

“You hated it.” Emma said with a snicker. “You were so attached to your favorite stories that you didn’t even want to listen to the ones that I made up.”

Regina remembered it well; it wasn’t that long ago, but it seemed like it sometimes. Henry at least, seemed so much older and more mature now then he was back then when she and Emma were together. Regina remembered how she would tell Henry to brush his teeth and then she would be right up to tell him a goodnight story, but he would just mope and insist that Emma should tuck him in.

“I prefer-“

“- Knowing how things end?” Emma finished her sentence for her, and Regina looked at her with surprise because she had never been aware that Emma knew the reason why she preferred the good, old fairytales to the ones that Emma had made up.

“Yes.” Regina said “How did you know?”

Emma smiled “Because I know you.” She said “I once told Henry a story about this princess who didn’t get her happy ending and you were so upset with me because you said that was the best part of the story.”

Regina grinned as she remembered too. “You were trying to teach him about the real world.” She replied “And I told you that happy endings weren’t just meant for fairytales, I can’t believe you remember that.”

Emma smiled from ear to ear before saying “Of course I remember.” She answered “That’s when I knew I’d never stop loving you.”

Regina wasn’t even shocked at that, as she thought she would be. Instead, she just smiled and let out a small laugh and shook her head in disbelief. “Still the smooth talker.”

“I have my moments.” Emma said as she held up the book. “There are some pages missing in this.”

Regina raised her eyebrows in confusion. “What?” She asked.

“Yeah, many actually.” Emma said and handed the book back to Regina.

She flipped through the pages, and sure enough, many pages were missing. “It’s almost an entire story.” She said in disbelief, and noticed that she could just make out what the story was called as the pages looked like they had been ripped out in a hurry.

A different kind of fairytale.

**

David was sitting in the chair by his hospital bed and trying his best to solve the crossword in the paper, he was bored and didn’t want to lay in bed, but the doctor had insisted that he would relax while they waited for his CT results.

“Hello.” He heard a familiar voice say and he looked up from the paper and saw Killian entering his room.

“Hey.” David answered with a smile. A part of him had thought he would never see the man again and he was surprised at how happy he was to see his face. “What do you have there?”

Killian went over to him, put down a bowl of green Jell-O on the table in front of him, and took a step back. “I gather it has great medicinal properties.”

“Well, it is green.” David said with a grin. “I’ve heard green stuff is healthy.”

“There you go then.” Killian said, and then looked down at his feet for a moment before meeting David’s eyes again. “How are you?” he asked.

“I’m good.” David said “They’re sending me home today.”

Killian let out a breath and nodded. “I’m glad.” He said, but he still looked quite distraught, and David remembered what Regina had told him the day before.

“It wasn’t your fault, you know.” David said “I ran into the street like a crazy person.”

“You were chasing me.” Killian said, and then snickered as if he had just told a joke that only he understood. “Sorry, it’s not funny, it’s not.”

“You saved me.” David said, still puzzled by Killian’s behavior. It looked like the man hadn’t slept in days.

Killian shrugged and looked down at his feet again. Most of the time he seemed so confident and sure of himself, and then there were times like these when he let his guard down and showed David vulnerability and David could almost feel himself falling in love.

David took a deep breath when that thought crossed his mind, as if he was shocked that he could even go there. He shook the thoughts away and tried to focus.

“Are you okay?” David asked “They said that the car hit you as well.”

“Just a couple of bruises.” Killian said “Trust me; I’ve been knocked around way worse.”

For some reason, David had no trouble believing that. “What is it about you, Killian?”

Killian smiled sadly at him then. “I’m not sure I’ll be around for you to find out, I’m afraid.” He replied.

David’s mouth fell open in surprise. “What?” he asked, it came out as almost a whisper and he had to swallow heavily to make sure that he would be able to speak.

“May I ask you something personal, David?” he asked.

“Yes.” David answered at once.

“Are you happy?” He asked “Are you happy with this… With your life?”

David just looked at him, and tried his best to read the expression on Killian’s face, but all he could think about was that the man in front of him was thinking about leaving.

“Yeah.” David replied “I mean, I love my job, and my friends, this town.” He wasn’t sure who he was trying to convince.

Killian smiled then, not a sad one, but a sincere smile that made David shiver. “Good.” He said “I’m glad.”

“Why?” David asked “Did you ask, I mean?”

Killian shook his head “You’ll think I’m crazy.” He said on a chuckle. “I was right though, you don’t need any rescuing do you?”

David just looked at him, trying his best to take him in and reading his expression. He had never seen a man so sad and so happy at the same time, and in a way it was the most heartbreaking thing he had ever witnessed.

“Do I know you?” David asked, feeling as if he had asked the question so many times, but the answer had always sounded wrong in his ears.

It was Killian’s turn to look at him then, he bit his bottom lip and tilted his head, as he was hoping for David to say or do something. After what seemed like a long time though, he just smiled and shook his head.

“I don’t think so.” Killian said, even though he didn't seem very convincing. “You just remind me of someone I used to know.”

“Is that a good thing?” David asked, feeling unable to keep asking, keep prying, wanting to know what it was that built the man up and tore him down again. It was like a pull of gravity.

David could have sworn Killian had tears in his eyes when he nodded again and replied with “The best thing.”

Before David could say anything else though, Killian shuffled his feet and looked nervously down at the ground. “I’m leaving tomorrow.” He said.

“Why?” David asked at once, almost as if he needed the answer to breathe even though he couldn’t understand why.

Killian smiled and shrugged “Why not?” He asked “I was never really good at staying in one place.”

“I thought you were looking for a place that could change that?” David asked.

“Aye.” Killian said and David cocked his head to the side at the word, but didn’t say anything. “It’ll probably do more harm than good, I’m afraid.”

“What do you mean?” David asked “I’m sorry, I don’t understand what you’re talking about.”

“It’s alright.” Killian said “You don’t have to.”

He let out a breath and swallowed, as if he was trying to stop himself from screaming. David knew the feeling all too well. He wanted to say something to make him stay, but he didn’t know what to say or why he wanted it so bad.

“Regina’s throwing me a party later, at the diner.” David said “We do that a lot in this town, find reasons to celebrate the small stuff.”

“That’s nice.” Killian said, his voice was raspy and he didn’t look like he wanted to talk, but he didn’t want to leave either.

“You should come.” David said.

“I’m not sure-“

“Please.” David said “I’d really like it if you came.”

Killian smiled at him. “I won’t make any promises.”

“Do you ever?” David asked on a chuckle, because Killian seemed like the kind of man who wouldn’t commit to much, especially a promise.

He smiled lovingly at David again, and David swore he could feel his heart skip a beat.

“Aye.” He said “For the right person.”

Chapter Text

David sighed heavily and faked a smile when people he hadn’t talked to in what seemed like forever, came up to him and told him how happy they were that he was okay.

It wasn’t that David didn’t appreciate how caring everyone was, or how much work Regina had put into throwing him a ‘welcome home’ party, but he just wasn’t in the mood to party, even though the woman hadn’t even showed up yet. Every time the door to the diner opened, he secretly wished it was Killian coming to say that he was staying.

When he had just about given up hope that the man would show up, the bell above the door rang and a dashing man with a nervous smile walked through the door. Leather jacket, black t-shirt, undeniably handsome. Just like always.

David wasn’t sure how he felt about the fact that his face lit up when he saw him.

“Killian, hey!” He said as he made his way through the small crowd and went over to greet the other man. “You came.”

Killian smiled wider when he saw David, and some of the obvious nerves seemed to disappear.

“I did.” Killian said as he looked David up and down “How are you feeling?”

“Much better.” David answered, and his mind was going so fast as he tried to think of something to say so the conversation wouldn’t stop and give Killian an excuse to leave. “How long are you staying for?”

Well, that was a stupid choice to go with.

“Tonight.” Killian answered, and looked down at the floor for a moment before meeting David’s eyes. “I just thought I’d stop by and say goodbye.”

“I don’t-“David started, but he had no idea what to actually say. “Sit down for a while, let’s talk.”

“Talk?” Killian asked, and David couldn’t blame him for being confused, because really, there was no real reason to why they should talk before Killian left town.

“Yeah.” David said “I mean, you were such a master at countering all my questions after you were arrested so I think you owe me a second chance of doing my job.”

“You realize this party is for you right? And you want to use your time interrogating me?” Killian asked with raised eyebrows, while biting on his bottom lip.

“Yes.” David answered, realizing that he sounded both cocky and stupid at the same time.

“Alright then.” Killian said as he gestured towards one of the booths in the corner of the diner. “As you wish.”

David smiled as he sat down opposite of Killian and studied his facial expression for a while, wondering what he should ask, what he wanted to know before Killian left for what would probably be forever.

Before he had a chance to ask anything though, Killian seemed to have a few questions as well.

“Where is the lovely mayor tonight?” he asked “I thought she was the one throwing the party for you?”

“She was.” David said “Last time I talked to her, she just said that she was very busy.”

“Busy with what?” Killian asked, cocking his eyebrows.

“Beats me.” David said on a grin “But I could hear Emma’s voice in the background.”

Killian grinned as well then “Really?” He asked “Well, look at that.”

“I’m telling you, something about your presence in this town has turned everything upside down.” David might as well say it, he knew he hadn’t been the only one thinking it. He knew that Robin and Regina had said something similar as well.

“I’m not sure I had anything to do with it.” Killian said “But I am happy for her.”

“It’s not just Emma and Regina though.” David said “I know you said something to Robin that finally made him make his move on Mary Margaret for real, I just-“

“What?”

“I don’t understand how you always know just what to say.” David said “At first I thought it was just with me, but it’s not….”

Killian shrugged “Maybe I am just good at reading people?”

“Must be.” David said before he put his hands on the table “Which means it’s my turn to get to know you.”

“Many have tried, few has succeeded.”

“Where did you grow up?” David asked “Is there a reason why I couldn’t find any record of you?”

“Ah.” Killian said “We’re at that again.”

“It’s kind of a big deal.” David said “But if you don’t want to answer, I’d prefer if you just said so instead of running off.”

“Sore subject, I guess.” Killian said as he looked down at his entwined fingers that were rested on top of the table. “I grew up by the sea, or on the sea is more like it.”

“Really?” David asked “You like fishing then?”

Killian chuckled “Yes, sure.”

David wasn’t sure if Killian answered his questions so vaguely on purpose or if he simply didn’t know how to answer them.

“You told me that I reminded you of someone.” David said, and noticed how his own voice went from serious to almost soothing without him even trying. “Who is he to you?”

Killian just looked at him for the longest time, as if he hadn’t understood the question, or as if it was a question that David shouldn’t be allowed to ask.

“I’m sorry.” David said “Is that also a sore subject?”

“In a way.” Killian said before clearing his throat and staring down at his hands again. “Who he is to me?”

David nodded.

Killian smiled then, the biggest, most genuine smile that David had ever seen on another person and Killian didn’t even have to answer, because that smile told David everything he needed to know about how Killian felt about the man in question.

“He’s just… Everything.” Killian said “To me.”

David just looked at him, he looked devastated, but so happy to even talk about the man. David was starting to understand why Killian had seemed so protective over him, if David reminded him of a man that meant so much to him that it brought joy to his every being by just mentioning him.

“Tell me about him.” David didn’t know if it was curiosity or something else, but he just had to know what it was about this man that could make a man like Killian look like that.

“Really?” Killian asked, as if he had been waiting for someone to ask him about that man since the day he was born.

David smiled. “Really.”

“He was very young when I first met him.” Killian said “He’d already seen his fair share of the world, but he was still inexperienced and too cocky for his own good.”

David chuckled.

“I wasn’t exactly modest myself, but-“

“You were cocky?” David asked teasingly “I can’t imagine.”

Killian laughed a little then, the way that gave David goose bumps and sent shivers up and down his spine.

“In a way you could say we came from different worlds, and we learned a lot from each other.” Killian continued, “He helped me become the man I always wanted to be.”

David smiled, but didn’t say anything as he wanted Killian to continue.

“He was handsome and kind.” Killian said and then looked straight into David’s eyes. “He was undeniable.”

“Seems a little too good to be true.” David said, knowing that it could be an offensive remark, but somehow he knew that Killian wouldn’t take it that way.

“You don’t believe in true love, Dave?” Killian asked, and it was something about that nickname that sent another shiver down David’s spine.

“True love?” David asked “Sounds like a thing out of a fairytale.”

“Doesn’t mean it isn’t real.” Killian said as he leaned in closer “Where do you think fairytales come from?”

David smiled at him, it was something so refreshing about Killian’s personality. In a way, he reminded David of Regina.

“Tell me more about him.” David said.

It sounded like the way love was supposed to be, but few seemed to get right.

“What happened?” David asked “Where is he?”

“Let’s just say that there were a lot of challenges.” Killian said.

“I thought you said it was true love.” David said “Shouldn’t that overcome everything?”

Killian smiled sadly at him. “That’s what I thought too.” He answered, “He left, he didn’t want to, but he had to leave.”

“Why?”

Killian’s smile faltered and instead he just shook his head. “Wish I could tell you.” Killian answered “I just knew that as long as we both walked this earth, we couldn’t not be together.”

David hated how captivated he was by the story, as if he had lived it himself. The thought made him slightly dizzy.

“So what did you do?”

“I promised myself I’d find him.” Killian said “As he had once promised me.”

David didn’t understand what it was about the way Killian spoke, or what it was about his words that brought such comfort to David, but there was something. He felt like he was missing something, just like he had since the day Killian had showed up at his doorstep. David had thought that hearing about the man Killian loved so dearly would make him envious, instead, it just made him so undeniably sad.

“Did you?”

“In a way.” Killian answered. “He had a new life, he was happy, which was all I ever wanted for him.”

David didn’t like this part of the story.

“What do you mean?” Killian asked “Did he know that you found him? Did you talk to him?”

Killian chuckled then, and David didn’t understand what it was about the question that seemed so funny.

“It’s complicated I guess.”

“Everything with you seems to be.” David answered “I don’t understand.”

“No, he doesn’t know that I found him.” Killian replied “Who am I to complicate his life for the sake of my own happiness?”

“But you love him, and he obviously loves you.” David said, not even knowing how he could be so sure. He had never met the man. “Shouldn’t you give him a chance for him to decide what he wants?”

“Tell me, Dave.” Killian said “You have a job you love, friends, a place you can call home… Someone you love, how would you feel if someone came along who could potentially ruin all of that for you, confusing you about what you want, turning your life upside down… How would you feel?”

“Someone I love?” David asked, as if he hadn’t even heard what it was Killian was asking him.

Killian stared at him for a moment before shaking his head in confusion when he realized what it was David was saying. “Yes, this… Kathryn, was it?”

“We aren’t together anymore.” David said “And I still think you should let him know.”

“Why?”

“What?” This conversation was getting really confusing, really fast.

“Why aren’t you together anymore?” Killian asked.

David shrugged “Because we didn’t want to be.” He said “We weren’t right for each other.”

“Oh.” Killian said “I’m sorry to hear that.”

He didn’t sound that sorry, but he did seem saddened by the news all the less. It was so weird.

“Tell him.” David said “I was never much for fairytales, but I hear they are supposed to have a happy ending.”

Killian shook his head again and let out a heavy sigh before clearing his throat. “Dave, I-“

“Killian…” David said, cocking his head to the side. “Why did you come to my apartment the night of my birthday?”

Killian opened his mouth to answer, but he was cut off before he had a chance to.

“There you are!”

It was Regina. David didn’t turn around at once though, he was left staring at the confused and almost heartbroken look on Killian’s face.

“What?” David asked as he looked up then. Regina and Emma were both there, but instead of looking happy about seeing him, both of them were looking directly at Killian and neither one of them looked pleased.

“You want to explain this?” Emma asked, she looked almost as mad as Regina. Then Regina all but threw a giant book on the table in front of them.

“Regina, what’s going on?” David asked as he looked from the book, to Killian’s face and how his breath hitched, and then to his best friend who looked like she was trying to drill holes into Killian’s skull.

“Mom.” Henry said then from behind Emma, he sounded upset and was tugging on Regina’s sleeve as if he was trying to get her to back off a bit.

Killian just reached out and started flipping through the pages of the book. David had never seen it before, but it looked like a fairytale book. The irony did not go unnoticed.

“What is that?” David asked, and then Killian looked up and seemed completely surprised.

“Wait, you haven’t seen this before?” Killian asked.

David shook his head, he think he would have remembered.

“It was the birthday present on your doorstep, remember?” Regina asked, but she still seemed so mad, and David still couldn’t understand what was even going on.

“Yeah, I think so.” David said as he vaguely remembered Regina sneaking a present into his apartment and thinking it was from her. “But seriously, what’s going on here?”

“I’ll tell you what the-“

“Kid present.” Emma said on a very obvious cough.

Regina had to take a deep breath and David knew something was seriously wrong when Regina went into full-on protective mode.

“Fine.” Regina said, still looking directly at Killian. “I’ll tell you what’s going on…”

 

**

“It’s weird though, isn’t it?” Regina asked as she closed the book and turned her attention back to Emma.

“I don’t know.” Emma said “It’s just a book of fairytales.”

“Except it’s not.” Regina replied “You know how much I know the classics, these are not anywhere near any fairytales I have ever read.”

“Are you even sure that Killian was the one who gave it to him?” Emma asked “I mean, this is all very strange, but… I don’t know, I feel like we’re missing something.”

“Me too.” Regina said “Everything just seems… Different lately.”

“Different how?” Emma asked, but she asked as if she knew exactly what Regina was talking about.

“I can’t describe it, it’s like something has shifted.” She said, before shrugging “I don’t know.”

Regina hadn’t even realized what time it was until she heard Henry coming through the front door as he was home from school. She had completely forgotten to call her assistant and push the meeting Regina was supposed to have with the city contractor and she hadn’t even bothered to read her e-mails. All of that was pushed to the back of Regina’s head though, as she turned her head and sighed.

“What?” Emma asked.

“I know why the book is missing pages.” Regina said, a little mad that she hadn’t figured it out sooner. “Henry!”

Henry came running into the living room, his jacket and backpack still on, but at least he had taken off his shoes.

“Hey mom.” He said, and his face lit up when he saw that Emma was still there “Hi, Emma!”

“Hi, Henry.” Emma replied with a smile.

“Did you have a good day at school today, honey?” Regina asked as she beckoned him closer. He nodded as he threw his backpack to the floor and took of his jacket. “Henry.” She said on a sigh.

“I’ll hang it up!” Henry said in defense, and Regina ignored how Emma snickered beside her.

“Henry…” Regina said as she reached out and pulled Henry a little bit closer “Did you look at this book?”

“Ehhh.” Henry replied as he looked down at the book on the table. That was all the answer Regina needed.

“Did you rip out all these pages?” Regina asked as Emma opened the book to where the pages were missing.

“I’m sorry.” He said, and looked down at his feet.

“You know better than that, Henry.” Regina said, trying to sound calm even though she had no idea why her son was acting that way. “I know you wouldn’t ruin something without a reason, especially something that doesn’t belong to you.”

“You are wrong about Killian.” Henry said “He’s not bad.”

Regina raised her eyebrows and turned her head to look at Emma in confusion, she just shrugged.

“Who said he was bad?” Regina asked.

“I overheard you talking about him yesterday.” Henry said “He’s not bad.”

Regina sighed heavily as she tried to think of the best way to get her son talking, because he rarely hid anything from her, at least nothing like this.

“Sweetheart.” She said “I’m not mad, I just want to know why you did it.”

He looked up at his mother then “Because I was afraid that if you’d remember you wouldn’t want me anymore.”

“Henry.” Regina said on a breath, not understanding how Henry could ever think that she didn’t want him. “Why on earth would you say something like that? Remember what?”

He pulled back a bit and started rummaging through his backpack, and Regina sighed when she saw him pulling out what she assumed were the missing pages.

“You should read this.” Henry said as he handed them over to her.

“What is this, Henry?” Regina asked. Normally she would have just gone through the pages as quickly as possible to find out what exactly was going on, but the way Henry was acting scared her a bit and Regina wanted him to know that she trusted him.

Henry looked at Emma then, who smiled comfortingly at him, before he turned his attention back to his mother.

“It’s you.”

Chapter Text

“You ripped out the pages?” Killian asked as he looked accusingly at Henry. He didn't seem mad though, or confused. It seemed more like a question he had been asking himself for ages had just been answered. 

“Don’t.” Regina said as she held up a finger and protectively put and arm around her son’s shoulder. “Don’t take that tone with him.”

«What on earth are you talking about?» David asked, as he just got more and more confused as Regina’s story went on. Every time he tried to glance over at Killian to get a clue as to what was happening, he just looked at David as if his whole world had just stopped making sense.

“Look at these.” Emma said as she got the pages out from her purse and laid them out in front of David. He glanced at Killian one last time before he looked through the pages in front of him. Most of the illustrations were faded, and the text seemed to be disappearing as well. David could only make out some words here and there: pirate, castle, King George, neighboring kingdoms, heir to the throne, Prince David-

Wait, what?

His eyebrows raised in confusion, as he continued reading on. Magic, his sister, ‘I will always find you’, Regina fell in love with the princess.

David recognized several names and every now and again read a word that he made his chest tighten and his heart skip a beat.

“Why are they all so faded?” David asked, which was a really stupid question given that he had just read something very disturbing.

Killian looked like he was going to be sick.

“It’s my fault.” Henry said, sounding very guilty. “They weren’t like that before.”

David felt himself staring at illustrations of a prince and princess that looked exactly like him and Regina, only younger and in different clothes. They looked… David couldn’t find the words to describe it. It made him feel something so deep in his chest that he almost couldn’t breathe, and he couldn’t for the life of him figure out how a picture could do something like that.

“I still don’t understand.” David said, trying to get through to Killian, but he was just staring at the pages in front of them as well, he looked completely broken and he was breathing heavily as if he was close to a panic attack. “Killian!”

Killian’s eyes were immediately on his then. “I’m sorry.” He said, and all but launched himself away from the table as he got up and almost ran for the exit. He didn’t get far though, as apparently everyone had listened in on their conversation without David even noticing, and Graham grabbed him by the arm as he tried to leave.

“Hold on a second.” He said strictly, and Killian yanked his arm away.

Everyone was staring at him; and Killian looked like trapped animal desperate to get out of his cage.

“I told you he was a stalker.” Regina said with her arms crossed over her chest, trying to stare Killian to death. David understood that, she was a worried mother after all, and David couldn’t for the life of him understand why he still trusted Killian with all that he was.

“Who the hell are you, anyway?” Robin asked, as everyone started whispering. Killian just stood there watching them. He didn’t seem scared anymore. He looked mad, like he had given up on his life mission.

“Okay, everyone calm down!”

It was Emma. She looked pissed off as well. She gave Regina a look before she walked over to Killian.

“I don’t know what’s going on.” Emma said calmly. “And those pages over there is freaking me out, but here’s the thing. I trust Henry.”

Killian cocked his head to the side as he was wondering the same as everyone else. What was going on?

“Now, the kid said that the pages weren’t fading when he ripped them out which is just plain weird.” Emma said “And you know things about us that we barely know ourselves as if you’ve known us our entire life which freaks me out.”

Killian still didn’t speak.

“I also know that there’s no way that you could have been hiding out in our bushes or whatever it is that creepy stalkers do without someone noticing, this is a very small town and trust me, people talk- a lot.”

As Emma continued on, everyone around them seemed to calm down as well. Even Regina seemed to be considering what Emma was saying.

“Everything has been turned upside down since you got here.” She said, slumping her shoulders before turning around to face the crowd. “You guys know what I’m talking about, don’t pretend that you don’t.”

“Emma-“ It was Mary Margaret.

“What kind of stalker makes fairytale books anyway, huh?” Emma asked, furrowing her eyebrows as she seemed seriously frustrated with everyone else.

David couldn’t stop looking at Killian. His expression was the only one that didn’t change with Emma’s words. That was the look of a man who had given up. David kept thinking about the man he had talked about, the love of his life that he had lost. David wanted to scream, but he could barely breathe.

“Listen.” Emma said as she looked Killian straight in the eye. “You are more than mysterious, you won’t tell us anything about yourself and you refuse to let anyone get to know you.” Emma continued. “I get it, you and I, we understand each other. Look out for yourself and you never get hurt, right?”

“Worked out quite well for me.” Killian said, sounding almost bitter.

“Yeah, until the day that it doesn’t.” Emma answered, trying so hard to get through to him and David was almost upset that he wasn’t the one standing there, basically talking Killian down from a ledge. Killian looked at David then, but David stood frozen, unable to move. “Tell us about that book, help us understand.”

“It doesn’t matter anymore.” Killian said as he took a step back. “It’s too late.”

“Stop talking in riddles.” Regina said then as she stepped forward as well, David hated that he still felt like he was stuck to the floor, unable to speak.

Killian smiled at her, which seemed to throw Regina for a loop. “You should start believing in happy endings again.” He said, before nodding his head towards Emma “She’s worth it.”

Regina was at a loss for words then, and Killian only looked once more at David saying: “Be happy, okay, love?” before he disappeared out the door, no one tried to stop him, all though everyone seemed to want to.

“Uncle David.” Henry said as he tugged on the sleeve of David’s jacket, which seemed to get his attention. “You can’t let him leave.”

David’s eyes were itching and it wasn’t until Regina walked over to him and stroked his cheek that he realized that he was crying.

“Why am I crying?” He asked, but Regina just shook her head.

“Because you love him.” Henry answered, and David couldn’t even look down at the kid, as he felt as if someone had just stomped on his chest. “It’s in the story.”

Regina must have seen something on David’s face because she shook her head in disbelief “You hardly know him, no scratch that, you don’t know anything about him.” She said “Let him leave.”

David shook his head “I don’t want him to leave.” He said on a whisper.

“David, come on.” Graham said as he put a hand on David’s shoulder “This is madness, he’s married for god’s sake.”

That seemed to get everyone’s attention, as Regina’s eyebrows furrowed in confusion, Mary Margaret let out a gasp and David just stared at Graham in disbelief. “What?” he asked.

“Yeah.” Graham said “He was wearing a wedding ring, I put it in his personal belongings when you took him in- didn’t you give them back to him?”

Before David even knew what he was doing, he was running out the door.

Regina took a step forward to follow him, but Emma grabbed her hand and pulled her back. Regina turned to look at her, but Emma only shook her head and smiled before looking down at Henry.

Regina sighed heavily and looked down at her son. “Henry.” She said calmly.

“It’s all my fault.” Henry said as his eyes glistened with tears, and it broke Regina’s heart.

“Sweetheart, of course it’s not your fault.” Regina said as she stroked his cheek tenderly “But you have to tell me what’s going on.”

Henry looked from his mother and to Emma then. Emma didn’t know why he was looking at her for approval, but she smiled at him and nodded anyway.

“He was trying to get you to remember.” Henry said.

“Remember what?” Regina asked “Sweetheart, that’s not actually us in that book.”

“That’s where you’re wrong.” Henry answered, and he was starting to sound very frustrated with his mother. “Just listen to me.”

**

David had barely been able to form a coherent thought in his head since he left the diner. All he could think about was Killian. Nothing about that man made sense to him, absolutely nothing. Regina was right, he didn’t know him, but in a way he felt like he did.

Emma had been right about what she had said, there was something indescribable about Killian’s presence that seemed to have thrown everyone for a loop. David had been forced to realize the reality of his relationship with Kathryn, Emma and Regina had grown closer together and had been able to forgive each other, Mary Margaret had finally taken a chance on Robin. There was no coincidence that Killian had been able to say and do all these little things that had made everyone understand things about themselves that they hadn’t before.

David felt like he knew the answer to the question in his head, but he couldn’t figure it out. He couldn’t reach it.

The second he entered the sheriff station he hurried over to where they kept the personal belongings to whomever they took in. He found the box with Killian’s stuff and emptied the content onto his desk.

No wallet. No ID. No watch.

Instead, David found an old and beautiful compass, an amulet that looked like it had been taken straight out that pirate movie with Johnny Depp that Kathryn had wanted to see, and…

A ring. A wedding ring. The one Graham had told him Killian had been wearing when he had been brought in. David tried thinking back, and wondered why he hadn’t noticed it himself, he was usually more perceptive.

You’re very perceptive for someone who’s never been in love

David shook his head as he started feeling dizzy, had he gone completely insane? Was that what was going on? He couldn’t really find any other reason to why he had been so desperate to follow after a man that he didn’t know, who apparently was married.

His fingers trailed across the ring, and he couldn’t stop looking at it. It didn’t look like a traditional ring. It was old, very old. As David studied it closer, he could barely make out some markings on it, almost like a crest.

I came back to reclaim it for you

David felt like something was trying to force itself into his head, but David’s body wouldn’t let it. Something caught the corner of his eye then, and he forced himself to look away at the ring and noticed another piece of jewelry. He carefully put down the ring he was already holding before reaching for what seemed like a necklace.

“What?” David whispered quietly as he picked up the necklace. There was a ring on the necklace as well. It wasn’t in the same style as the previous one so it couldn’t be a matching set, but there was something inside of David telling him that the pieces of jewelry belonged together anyway.

He weighed it in his hand and tried to study it.

With this ring I promise you, all I am-

David almost dropped the ring to the ground as he felt like the air had been knocked out of him.

Chapter Text

Killian Jones, or Captain Hook as he was better known as, had never been very good at trusting people. He had been betrayed more times than he wanted to admit and his heart had been broken too many times to have the luxury to put his faith in other people.

Still, here he was. Blindly following the queen Regina through the dark dungeons and putting all his faith in her. Hook had more than enough experience with these sort of things, and had never really relied on anyone else to save him before, so it was both wonderful and horrible that he needed to do it now. Wonderful because it meant that someone found him worth rescuing, horrible because he knew that if they were caught, he wasn’t the only one in serious trouble.

“This way.” Regina said as she ushered him around another corner, Hook was grateful for the assistance, as the dungeons seemed like an eternal maze to him.

As he tried his best to focus while following after the woman who was risking so much for him, his mind kept going back to David. His smile, his laughter, his ambitions and bravery. The way he smelled, looked, tasted. For a moment Hook was more than worried that he’d never be able to kiss the lips of his husband again.

“Wait.” Hook whispered through gritted teeth as he grabbed Regina’s arm, as he swore he could hear someone approaching. Regina nodded, and quickly changed directions. Hook couldn’t help but wonder why Regina knew the tunnels so well.

“Here.” Regina said as they approached a small gate that seemed to lead outside. “I think I can get it open if I focus enough.”

“Spare your energy, love.” Hook said “I got this.”

It didn’t take more than a minute for Hook to pry the metal of the hinges and was able to let them both into the crisp air.

They could hear rustling and voices in the distance, the whole kings guard was probably looking for them by now.

“Want to tell me about this plan of yours, now?” Hook asked “Because I could see it in your face the second you told Emma and David they couldn’t come with us.”

Regina smiled at him as she cocked her head to the side “Should I be worried that you can read me better than Emma and my brother?”

“I hardly think that’s the case, your majesty.” Hook said “They just seemed too distraught to notice.”

Regina continued smiling at him. “Well, I suppose we are family now, aren’t we?” She asked.

“Aye.” Hook replied “So far your sister-in-law duties has gone beyond what is normally required, I believe.”

“David would never recover if anything happened to you.” Regina answered before she took a hold of Hook’s sleeve and beckoned him to follow her, as they tried their best to maneuver themselves without being noticed.

“I believe I owe it to you that I even had the chance to see him again.” Hook said in a low voice then, as he was painfully aware of every sound and every footstep in the distance. “Thank you.”

“Don’t mention it, because I think you might have to repay the favor one day.” Regina said as she stopped in her footsteps and looked straight into Hook’s eyes.

Hook just smirked at her. “I knew it.” He said before leaning in closer and giving her a dashing grin “So tell me, what is this plan of yours?”

Regina sighed heavily. “It all depends on you.” She said “Our lives, our happiness, if I can do this right, it’s all on you.”

Hook’s grin fell from his face then, and he took a deep breath instead “No pressure, huh, love?” he asked “Tell me what you need me to do.”

“You need to find us.” She said as she handed Hook a piece of paper.

Not long after, Hook was running through the forest when he suddenly felt the ground beneath his feet shake. He turned around and could see a bright light escape the castle windows in the distance, and before he knew what was happening, he was screaming David’s name as everything went dark.

He felt as if he had been screaming David’s name over and over again ever since that day. As Killian was silently packing his things, ready to leave that ghastly motel room, he couldn’t help but wonder if any of it had been real. David didn’t remember him, and the one chance he had of him actually knowing who Killian was had been ruined.

Killian had gone through hell and back in the belief that he would rescue David, but that had been far from the case. David hadn’t needed saving, he had a family here and a home. The life he had been living now seemed far better than the one he had when Killian had known him. All he had ever wanted for David was for him to be happy, to be a free man. There was no way he was going to compromise that for his own selfish reasons.

He smiled to himself. Regina had a son. David was an uncle, at least as far as Killian knew. At least Regina and Emma seemed to be on good terms again, it seemed like those two would always find their way back to each other.

“Killian.”

The voice sounded so broken and full of despair and confusion that Killian barely recognized it. He slowly turned around to see a soaking wet David standing in his doorway. Killian hadn’t even noticed that it had started raining.

“Dave.” He answered, feeling that exact same tightness in his chest as he had that night when he had showed up at David’s door. “What are you doing here?”

David swallowed heavily before stepping inside the cramped motel room. “You forgot something.” He whispered so low that Killian could barely hear him. Then Killian’s eyes fell to the two rings that David was holding up to him.

Killian felt his heart skip a beat at the sight of the rings, and mentally kicked himself for not remembering his possessions. To be honest, he hadn’t thought it would matter anymore.

David grasped one of the rings between his thumb and his index fingers. “I feel like this one belongs to me.” He said, his voice still low and raspy. “I remember….” He started before taking a deep breath and locking his eyes with Killian “You gave it to me.”

“Yes.” Killian answered at once, knowing that this was probably tearing David up inside.

“But I-“ David said “That wasn’t my life.”

Killian bit his bottom lip before taking a step towards David, and he could feel his chest tightening when he noticed how David almost flinched away from him.

“Am I going crazy?” David asked, and all Killian wanted to was hold him.

This David was so unlike the one that Killian had first fallen in love with. He was older, more rugged, but just as handsome as ever. He just wished he could explain and that David would understand, but he knew that that probably wasn’t a possibility. Right now, he couldn’t even understand how David could remember anything at all.

“No, you’re not.” Killian answered “Your lives are colliding at a slow pace, it wasn’t supposed to happen like this.”

“Just tell me!” David yelled “Why am I remembering things that hasn’t happened to me? What the hell was up with that book? How do you know me? How-“ He swallowed, and Killian could see how the tears were forming in his eyes. “How can I love you?”

“Oh, darling.” Killian said, hearing those words made him feel completely dizzy and overwhelmed, just like the first time that David had confessed his love for him. He couldn’t help it as he moved closer to David and placed his palm on top of David’s hands that were still holding the rings.

David rested his forehead against Killian and breathed him in, the gesture seemed so familiar and so distant all at once. “Just… Tell me I wasn’t wrong about this.” He said.

For a moment, it felt like nothing had changed since the night when David had found him in that tavern.

And just like that night, Killian could do nothing but kiss him. It had been an eternity since he had last felt the heat of David’s body against his own and Killian had almost forgotten how breathtaking that was. At first, David stood frozen, but it only took a moment before he responded with full force. He wrapped his arms around Killian’s neck and tried to push himself impossibly closer to the other man. Killian felt as if he couldn’t breathe, but he just didn’t care.

When he finally pulled away, he had to laugh at how David tried to chase his lips with his own, not wanting to let go of him. Killian knew the feeling.

“Dave.” He breathed out as he reached up and cupped David’s cheek.

David pulled back enough so he could meet Killian’s eyes and then grinned widely at him “Captain.”

Killian was afraid that his heart would stop beating. “You remember?”

David let out a breath. “I remember you.” He said “I don’t… It’s all a blur.”

“It’s okay.” Killian reassured him as he continued stroking David’s cheek with his thumb. “It’s going to be okay.” He said before letting out a breath. “True love’s kiss… I should have guessed.”

David seemed reluctant at letting go of Killian anytime soon as he too palmed Killian’s cheeks and kissed him softly once more.

“I want to remember everything.” David said on a whisper. “That book…”

“Was a gift from a friend of your sister’s.” Killian said “It was supposed to restore your memories.”

“My sister?” David asked in confusion, and Killian didn’t know what to say when he noticed how the realization hit David. “Regina?”

Killian nodded. “At least she was in another life.” He said “It seems as though your bond was stronger than any magic.”

“Magic.” David breathed as he was still trying to comprehend everything he was being told, and the things he could barely remember. “Right.”

“I know it’s a lot to take in, love.” Killian had imagined this moment so many times over the years, but now that David was actually in front of him, he had no idea what to say.

“You were going to leave.” David said as he pulled back a little bit. “Without letting me know.”

Killian felt so guilty at the tone in David’s voice, but he knew that all David wanted was an explanation. “You told me a long time ago that you and I was your happy ending.” He said “Because of that I searched forever for you, but then I came here and… You were already happy.”

“So you would give up everything for me?” David asked.

“You would have done the same for me.” Killian said before a smile found it’s way to his lips “Once upon a time.”

David looked as another flash of memories crossed his mind, and Killian was actually afraid for him. This wasn’t how this was supposed to go, and Killian worried how this might affect David’s mind, this slow collision of his previous life and the one he lived now.

“I-“ David said as he gripped Killian’s arm.

“Easy there, love.” Killian said as he steadied him “This is probably too much for you right now, and I need you to relax okay? I am not very fond of the thought of losing you again.”

David nodded as he calmed himself down. “The book.” He said “Can we fix it?”

“No.” Killian said “When Henry ripped the pages, he ripped apart the magic of it.”

David actually groaned at that. “Why didn’t you just give me the stupid book instead of being all cryptic?”

“To avoid this.” Killian said as he gestured to David’s state. “I didn’t know how seeing me before you remembered me would affect you… To be honest, I didn’t think I could handle it to have you staring at me as if I was some stranger.”

“Sorry about that.” David answered “If it helps, a book full of magic and memories was a lot better birthday present than the new tie that Kathryn gave me.”

Killian had stop himself from calling her Abigail, knowing that it would just confuse David even more.

“We need your sister’s help.” Killian said.

“What?” David asked “She doesn’t remember anything.”

Killian smiled at him. “Emma and Regina has more magic combined than that book as ever been able to hold.” He said “You just need to convince her.”

“Magic.” David said again, as if he was still trying to grasp that concept. “She doesn’t have any magic in this world?”

“Are you sure?” Killian asked “Nothing unexplainable as ever happened around her? She has never seemed awfully convincing or been at exactly the right place at the right time?”

David looked as if he was thinking about that for a moment before answering “Well, yeah, but that’s not magic.”

“With her it is.” He said “It’s her magic protecting her until she is ready to learn the truth.”

David took another deep breath as he was again trying to calm himself and Killian really wished that David hadn’t been such an idiot and just opened the stupid book on his birthday.

“Even if I am somehow able to convince her without sounding like a crazy person…” David said “How can you be so sure that she will be able to make us remember?”

Killian sighed “Because she was the one to put you here in the first place.”

Chapter Text

Emma Swan had lived her life trying her best not to let anyone in so she would never get hurt. Ever since she was a child and realized that life wasn’t a fairytale, Emma had decided to always let the past be in the past and just brush herself off and try harder each time she fell down. It had worked pretty well, always moving from one place to another with nothing but camera and a resume with a lot of freelance work on it.

Then that stupid deer or whatever it had been had ran into the road and everything had come crashing down. She had fallen in love for the first time in her life, and she had fallen hard. Of course her first and only love had to be someone as beautiful and determined as Regina Mills. Of course Regina had to have an amazing son that had stolen Emma’s heart. Of course Emma had been completely terrified and had screwed everything up.

Emma sighed heavily as she looked at the empty pages in front of her. Emma had never really believed in magic, but to be honest, she found to scientific explanation behind everything that had happened lately either.

There was a knock on the door and Emma wondered if Mary Margaret had forgotten her key again, but was surprised when she opened the door to see Regina looking back at her.

“Hey.” She said “How’s Henry?”

Regina shrugged. “I honestly don’t know, he wouldn’t stop talking about those fairytales.”

“Does he still believe that that was really us in that book?” Emma asked, and Regina nodded.

“I am very worried about him.” She said and Emma nodded before opening the door wider and letting Regina inside.

“I can’t blame you.” Emma said “But honestly, I can’t blame him either…”

“You aren’t serious.” Regina said as she looked from Emma to the pile of papers on her desk, realizing what Emma had been doing before she walked in. “Magic, fairytales?”

“It sounds absurd.” Emma replied. “But you have to admit that some very mysterious shit has been happening lately, and that book-“

“That book was some sick joke and I for one am very happy that it’s gone.” Regina said before her expression softened a bit. “Henry insisted that he was fine so I dropped him off at Jefferson’s so he could stay with him and Grace.”

“Probably a good idea.” Emma said “Have you heard from David?”

“No.” Regina said as she shook her head “He’s not picking up his phone, Graham said he would go over to Killian’s motel and check it out for me.”

Emma nodded “I don’t think he would hurt David.”

“Not physically, no.” Regina said as she shook her head in disbelief. “David said he loved him, has everyone lost their minds around here?”

Emma couldn’t exactly disagree, but then again, she wouldn’t call any of this insanity. She could relate to Killian in a way, and she just knew that the man wasn’t crazy. He just knew something that the rest of them didn’t, and Emma believed that David could see that too.

“Regina…” she said carefully “Have you never felt like… You didn’t belong here?”

“What do you mean?” Regina asked, but then she saw the look Emma had on her face and raised her eyebrows. “Not you too.”

“I’m sorry.” Emma answered “But as long as I can remember, I have been trying to find a place where I belong, and… I’ve never been ever to find a place.”

Regina looked hurt at that, and Emma realized she had to act fast or she was going to lose the one chance she had at making things right.

“I found a person though.” She said as she carefully took a step closer to Regina. “You know I didn’t stay here because I just love the annual pie festival.”

Regina couldn’t help but smile at that.

“It’s like, no matter what happens.” Emma said, trying her best to open up and tell Regina everything she had ever wanted to, but never been able to find the words to say. “I can’t seem to let you go and I-… I don’t know what to call that, but it’s more than just me being stubborn.”

“So you think it’s because it’s magic?” Regina asked “Destiny, and true love?”

She seemed completely unconvinced, and Emma hated that it was so hard for Regina to believe in love the way she once had.

“I don’t know.” Emma replied “I just know that whatever happens, you and I will always have this undeniable bond.”

Regina shook her head, but she didn’t seem to disagree, she just didn’t want to believe it. Just when she was about to open her mouth to answer though, there was another knock on Emma’s door.

“Who could that be?” Emma asked, but Regina looked just as confused.

Emma was more than a little shocked to see David standing there, breathless and sweaty. With Killian Jones by his side.

“What the-“

“Can we come in?” David asked as he pushed himself past Emma and into the apartment.

“Apologies, love.” Kilian said as he followed after David, but Emma just stood there and let them in.

David was on his way to start talking when he noticed that they weren’t alone. “Regina!” He said “What are you doing here?”

“What am I doing here?” she answered back with her hands on her hips before gesturing to Killian. “What is he doing here?”

“Maybe I shouldn’t have come.” Killian said as he looked Regina up and down, and Emma was almost amused at how he looked slightly terrified by the way Regina was glaring at him.

David just looked at Regina as if he was seeing her for the first time, and it seemed to freak Regina the hell out. “Why are you looking at me like that?” she asked, before turning to Killian “What have you done to him?”

David seemed to snap out of whatever bubble he was in then. “He hasn’t done anything to me.” He said, but then cocked his head back and forth “Well, actually he has.”

“Regina, I think we should listen to them.” Emma said, as she studied the way David looked at Regina, and they way Killian looked at David. There was just something about it that stirred something deep inside Emma that she couldn’t remember feeling before.

“What?” Regina asked as she turned to face Emma.

“I know that you don’t trust Killian, and to be honest, neither do I.” Emma said.

Killian looked offended at that.

“But we do trust David.” Emma said “In fact, you trust him more than anyone so you owe it to him to at least hear him out.”

Regina seemed to get it then, that this wasn’t just about Killian Jones anymore. Somehow they had all gotten involved, even if they liked it or not, and David was more involved than anyone.

“You’re right.” Regina answered, as she turned back around to face David, and gestured for him to start talking. Emma wouldn’t want to be in David’s situation then, with Regina all but impatiently tapping her foot.

“Right.” David said, a little nervously before looking at Killian for a moment, who just shrugged and beckoned for him to start talking as well. “Right.” He repeated “Well…”

“Spit it out, David.”

“This is going to sound really strange, but I think everything that was in that book was true.” David said “We used to live completely different lives in this fairytale world, and you and I and Emma were royalties and Killian was a pirate, and we got married, and our parents didn’t approve and they cast this spell and then you tried to stop them, but something went wrong and we ended up being born again as different people.”

Emma was as confused as Regina looked. David’s words made zero sense and Emma almost regretted telling Regina to trust him. Even Killian seemed baffled by David’s rant.

“Did the doctors miss something?” Regina asked “Did you hit your head harder than they thought?” she asked before shaking her head “I am taking you back to the hospital because you actually seem to believing what you’re saying.”

“No, Regina I-“ But before David could say anything else, his face lost all color and he bent over in what looked like pain. Killian was on his side in an instant and ran a comforting hand through his hair and whispered soothing words that Emma couldn’t hear.

“He’s sick.” Regina said “I’m calling the hospital.”

“No, it’s not because of the accident.” Killian said as he helped David over to the couch. “I know this might seem ridiculous to you, but if you don’t start believing and listen to what we are telling you, something terrible might happen to him – and no, before you even try suggesting it, I am not threatening him.”

Killian sounded heartbroken, and in that moment Emma believed him. She didn’t know if he believed her story or whatever point he was trying to make, but she did believe that Killian himself really believed what he was saying and Emma could truly see how much Killian cared about David.

“Regina.” Emma said, her voice low and comforting, even though she really wanted to just shake Regina to try and make her listen. She knew that if something bad happened to David that they could have prevented, Regina would feel horrible.

“Alright.” Regina said, as if one word from Emma was all it took. Maybe it was because despite everything, she knew that Emma would never believe something this insane unless there was good reason for it. She sat down on the table in front of David and put a comforting hand on his arm, Emma leaned back against a bookcase and watched the three of them to see if she could tell if Killian was lying or not. “I’ll listen to you.” Regina told David.

David smiled at her. “This is mine.” David said as he held out what looked like a gold ring. On closer inspection, Emma noticed that it looked very old and had a peculiar look to it. “It’s my wedding band.”

“What?” Regina and Emma asked at once.

David just continued smiling at her, before glancing over at Killian. “Killian and I got married… A long time ago.”

“David, that’s silly.” Regina said “I’ve known you forever, I would know if you had gotten married.”

“It wasn’t in this world.” David replied “Like I told you, we have lived different lives before, you just can’t remember it.”

“Then why can you?” Emma asked, crossing her arms in front of her chest.

“I don’t know.” David said as he looked down at the ring. “I was getting Killian’s thing from the station when I found this, and then suddenly all these glimpses appeared before my eyes.”

“Of a previous life?” Regina asked, she didn’t sound mocking, but it was clear that she was having a hard time grasping that David actually believed all of this.

“Yes.” David answered “I know that I sound crazy, but it wasn’t just memories, I could feel everything all over again- everything I felt with Killian… Please, Regina. You have always believed in me, why is this any different?”

“Because…”

Emma knew that Regina wanted to tell him that he sounded insane. Instead, Regina took a deep breath and took David’s hand in his.

“I believe that you believe this is true.”

David drew his hand back, he looked hurt, and Emma could understand why, even though what he was telling them sounded completely mad, she had to try to think about the whole thing. This man without any record of ever existing had appeared out of nowhere and said and done all of these things as if he’d known them his entire life and suddenly things have started to change. There was that stupid book with the disappearing content, and Henry who was telling the same story has Killian was, and Emma knew that they had never spent any time alone together.

“What happened?” Emma asked suddenly, and everyone turned to her. “Since we ended up here?”

Regina looked completely shocked by Emma’s question as she raised her eyebrows at her, and her mouth fell open. “Are you actually-“

“I am just trying to get some answers.” Emma said, not even letting Regina talk. “Henry believes this too you know and there has been so many weird things happening here lately and if there is an explanation I would like to know.”

“As David so gracefully put it…” Killian said. “There was a spell.”

“As in a magic spell?” Emma asked, furrowing her brows.

“Yes.” Killian replied “Where we come from… There’s magic, things you probably couldn’t dream of, and you and Regina possessed such magic.”

Neither Emma or Regina answered, instead Emma tried to remember what David had said earlier, about her and Regina being in love before, in that different world.

“What about Henry?” Regina asked. “You are telling me that my son isn’t real.” She sounded angry, bitter, upset, and most of all hurt that someone would even suggest something like that.

“Oh, no.” Killian replied “He is very much real, as is all of this.” He said.

“So you are saying that we were born again?” Emma asked.

Killian just looked at her for a moment before asking “Who are your parents?”

Emma felt herself stiffen at the question. “Why?”

Killian just shrugged, and Emma puffed out a breath of air. “I don’t have any.”

“What if you did?” Killian asked. “You did before, and I know they are still alive and well, I’ve seen it.”

Emma felt herself growing frustrated by Killian’s word, the same way that Regina had probably felt when Henry was brought up. Some things just struck a nerve.

“You are telling me that I have parents?” Emma asked, trying to fight the urge to yell at the man.

“Aye.”

“That’s not funny.” She said.

“I wasn’t trying to be, love.” Killian said as he leaned in closer to David. “What about you?” he asked Regina.

“Me?” She asked. “My father died when I was a little girl.”

“What about your mother?”

Emma just looked at Regina then, she had never mentioned anything about her mother, ever. And strangely enough, Emma had never asked her, hadn’t even considered asking her. They had been in a serious relationship, wouldn’t that be something you would talk about?

“I-“ She said. “I never knew her.”

“Do you know of her?” Killian asked.

Regina simply shook her head, and Emma wondered if she was thinking the same thing that she was. That Regina had never really thought about it since she had been very young.

Killian turned to David then, and smiled sweetly at him. “What about you, love?” he asked. “I am sure you have some distant memory of a mother, but what about your father?”

David opened his mouth to answer, but closed it again, looking completely baffled by the question. Emma couldn’t help but be weirded out about what was going on, it was a simple question after all.

“I’m betting you’ve never thought about it, have you?” Killian asked “Who your father was, if he was alive or dead?”

“No, I haven’t.” David said, and Emma could see that even through the confusion, just the touch of Killian’s hand on the back of his neck seemed to sooth the other man. “Never.”

“Don’t you find that weird, Miss Mills?” Killian asked, turning his attention back to Regina.

Regina almost looked offended, but she couldn’t contradict what Killian was saying. Of course it was weird, who wouldn’t think about such an important thing from time to time.

“Your mother was trying to get rid of you and David’s memories of me and the young princess.” He said, and then cocked his head back and forth before gesturing to Emma. “That would be you, love.”

“I was engaged to someone else.” David said then suddenly, as if his head was spinning around in circles, and Emma was afraid that he might be sick. “Wait, Kathryn?”

Killian took a deep breath “It wasn’t by that name that I knew her, but yes.” Killian replied “You were to be married, and you ran away to find me instead- we were captured the day after our wedding.”

“What about me?” Regina asked, that last word slipped out with little belief, as if she still wasn’t believing the story was actually true.

“You were married to an old toad.” Killian answered “Despicable man, arranged married, but you fell in love with Emma and your mother was not happy.”

David grinned then “We were siblings.” He said, and Regina focused her attention back on him. “Don’t you remember?”

“What?” Regina asked.

Emma felt as if her chest was tightening and her entire body turned cold, she couldn’t remember any of what Killian or David was telling them, but it was like a voice in the back of her head was screaming at her, telling her it was all true. Emma felt dizzy as the conversation between Regina and David died out in the background.

“But how did we end up here?” Emma asked, she still didn’t feel like the questions had been answered.

“The spell that Regina cast collided with that of her mother.” Killian said “It did cause you to lose your memories, but because of the magic of true love-“ he said and pointed from Emma to Regina. “You were born again together, destined to find each other again.”

“True love?” Regina asked.

“Like the kiss.” David said and Killian nodded. “I kissed Killian and all of my feelings for him came rushing back, and a lot of the memories as well, it was overwhelming.”

“You told us that you loved him.” Emma said, her voice so low that she wasn’t sure they could even hear her. “Back at the diner, you were crying and you were convinced that you loved him.”

“You said that?” Killian asked, as if he couldn’t believe that himself. David nodded, and Killian smiled in a way that would make any heart melt. His hand reached around and cupped David’s cheek. “Oh, love.”

“But that was before you found the ring.”

“The ring only brought back the memories, not the feelings.” Killian explained. “As I am sure you are both aware.”

“What?” Emma asked.

“The two of you, both afraid of commitment, both very logical people I assume.” Killian said “Still, you loved each other from the moment you met, didn’t you?”

Regina turned her head to look at Emma, and Emma couldn’t help but smile at her. “We’ve kissed more than once.” Emma remarked. “And I can’t recall anything of a life as a…. Princess.”

“I do not know why the kiss worked with me and David.” Killian said “The rings were a promise of our true love, and I brought the rings with me from our realm, it may have worked as a trigger.”

“And the kiss set it off?” David continued. “As the book was supposed to?”

“Yeah, what’s up with that damn book, anyway?” Emma asked as she strolled over to where the three of them were sitting and sat down in a chair next to Killian.

“I got it from an old friend of you.” Killian said as he looked Regina straight in the eye. “He used to work for you, I believe. When you told me I needed to find the three of you again, you told me to ask him for help.”

“What old friend?” Regina asked.

“I believe his name was Merlin.”

“Merlin?” Emma asked, okay that was just too much. There was no way that Merlin was real. “Pointy hat and all?”

“He did not wear a hat.” Killian answered, as if he believed the question had been serious. “I tracked him down in Camelot.”

“Camelot is real as well, huh?” Regina asked, and Emma wondered if her head was spinning as well. “Did you say hi to King Arthur from me, too? How about the queen- what’s her name, Guinevere?”

“Are you serious?” David asked, and even he found all of this hard to believe now.

“Aye.” Killian said “And no, there was no queen upon my arrival, but that might be because the king was in love with your old friend.”

“Merlin and king Arthur?” Emma asked, and she didn’t know if she should laugh or cry. “That’s not the story I’ve been told.”

“I can assure you that few of the stories you have been told is accurate, Princess White.” Killian answered, and Emma just looked at him, now she was the one with the mouth hanging open.

“As in Snow White?” Regina asked, and Killian nodded. Surprsingly enough, Regina started to laugh.

“Shut up.” Emma answered “I am not Snow White.”

“No, of course not.” Killian answered as if it was the most obvious thing in the world, and Emma let out a relieved breath. “You’re her daughter.”

Just as Emma was about to protest, she could see David go even paler. "David?"

"Hey, love." Killian said as he quickly turned his attention back to the other man and shook him carefully. "Dave!"

David was already unconscious in Killian's arms.

Chapter Text

In the distance, David could hear Regina’s voice calling out to him. It was almost as if he could feel her right next to him, but he could swear that she was thousands of miles away. His best friend. No, wait. His sister? David felt nauseous, and his chest was tightening. He had never felt a similar sensation before, but it was like his mind and body weren’t connected anymore.

All he could see was flashes of light and blurry images of people David swore he knew, but couldn’t place. Names that didn’t fit with the faces, and situations that should be in his memories, but weren’t there.

Emma in a beautiful dress that the Emma he knew would never wear, looking completely heartbroken. She was watching something, or someone, but David couldn’t see what or who it was.

'the king's a good dancer'

The king. David remembered something about a king… Or maybe he only thought he remembered it because Killian had mentioned it earlier?

Suddenly everything blurred together again and Emma disappeared in front of him, even though he tried to reach out to make her stay.

'i told you, i if you wanted a fight i'd be more than happy to oblige'

He couldn’t make out any faces, but he recognized the man’s voice. Everything was green, like the forest, and David felt a sensation of shock flow through his body. Shock. Because he didn’t know if he would meet Killian again.

David wanted to scream, he remembered the feeling, but not the actual memory. Where were they? What happened? Why would Killian want to fight? Was he even talking to David or was someone else there?

There were too many questions, and then David remembered the bar fight Killian had with Will. Was that were the memory was from? No, it was separate. Different. Still, it all blurred together, not making any sense.

Things moved again, and Regina was right there in front of him, looking him straight in the eye with a determination he had rarely seen on her. Except she was different, her hair was longer and her features a bit softer. She was telling him to run, to go and find him.

‘Who?’ David wanted to ask, but no voice escaped from his lips.

Dungeons. Mary Margaret and Robin were there, but they seemed out of place, like they weren’t supposed to have been there. It was cold. There were bars in front of Killian’s face, and a light between Emma and Regina.

This was all wrong, he had never been in a dungeon in his life. Wait, Killian had said something about a different life? One with castles, and wedding vows and magic.

One with a family.

Everything was spinning; there was no longer any images or voices in the background that didn’t make any sense. If he really concentrated, he could hear Regina and Killian, both begging him to wake up, but he didn’t know what they were talking about because he wasn’t asleep.

Maybe he was dying. As the faces of his friends, his family and his Killian all disappeared into the darkness; it certainly felt like he was dying.

“There’s no point.” Killian said as Regina was reaching for her phone, desperate to call for help. “There’s nothing physically wrong with him.”

“He was in an accident, they must have missed something.” Regina answered as she put the phone to her ear, but Killian snatched it away from her and all but threw it across the room

“Listen to me!» He yelled now, the frustration finally getting to him that no one wanted to believe him and that David’s life was in danger because of it. “If you don’t listen to me right now, he will die, do you understand me?”

“What the hell do you want me to do?” Regina yelled back, and Killian could see a similar frustration in her own eyes.

“Stop yelling.” David moaned from where he was laying on the couch, and both of them suddenly had their attention back on him. Surprisingly, Emma was the first to move as she hurried to his side.

“David.” She said “What happened?”

“Too many memories, they don’t fit.” David said “You wore a dress.”

“He’s not making any sense.” Regina said “He’s delusional.”

Killian almost wanted to cry, because he had no idea how to fix the situation. He didn’t have magic, and the only people who might know how to make everything okay, couldn’t remember any of it. He sat down on the edge of the couch and put his hand on David’s cheek, caressing it carefully.

“I am sorry, love.” Killian said “I never should have come here.”

“Don’t you dare say that.” David answered, before a smile made it’s way across his face. “I promised I’d find you.”

Killian grinned. “I suppose I couldn’t wait that long.” He said, before turning back to Regina, and it was as if the words had struck a nerve with her because she was just staring at the two of them.

“Help him.” Regina whispered “I don’t care how, but if you can fix this, please.”

“I can’t.” Killian replied “Merlin made it very clear that only she who cast the spell can take it away.”

“I don’t have magic.” Regina grit through her teeth, and surprisingly enough, Killian smiled sadly at that.

“I guess some things never change.” He said, realizing that the statement must be confusing for Regina who couldn’t remember the denial she had lived in. “Are you ready to listen to me now?”

Regina looked over at David who was falling in and out of consciousness, mumbling nonsense every now and then, but smiling every time his eyes were able to focus and Killian. “Yes.”

“You came to Storybrooke because of a piece of paper on your car.” Killian said, and Regina furrowed her eyebrows at him. He then turned to Emma. “And you came here because something ran into the road, making you crash your vehicle, correct?”

“How do you know that?” Emma asked.

“The same way I know that you first helped out David…” he said as he stroked his thumb on the delicate skin underneath David’s eye. “When bailing him out of jail.”

“You-“ Regina wanted to accuse him of being a stalker again, Killian could see it, but she probably saw that it was no use. That had been ages ago, and she would have known if he had followed them for so long, he couldn’t have been more than a kid himself at that time. “How do you know all of that?”

“Because I was the one who put the flyer on your car.” Killian answered, trying his best to seem calm and not freak Regina out any more than necessary. “And I was the one who ran into the road to stop you from driving past town.” He said as he turned to Emma. “Apologies for making you crash, I honestly thought you would stop.”

“You-“

“And I was the one who left you the message about David getting arrested.” Killian said “I had to stay hidden of course.”

“That’s impossible.” Regina said “That was years ago, you would have been a teenager, a kid!”

“Aye, one would think, wouldn’t they?” Killian asked. “Your old friend made sure I wouldn’t age, put sort of a stop on all of that until I could make you remember again.”

“My old friend as in Merlin?” Regina asked, and Killian nodded. God, these people were so different from those he had once known. The only thing that never really changed was their loyalty and feelings towards each other. Regina was still as protective of David as ever, and she still loved Emma as fiercely as the one he had known.

“Why now?” Emma asked then, and Killian was thankful that she was there because at least some part of her seemed to believe him. “Why did you have to bring David that book now?”

“You had to all be brought together first.” Killian said “That’s when your magic is the strongest, the book wouldn’t have been triggered without it.”

“But Henry…” Emma said as she looked down at her feet for a moment, her eyebrows furrowed and her entire expression was both focused and confused. “He was the one to open the book, and he seems to believe all of this.”

“You can inherit magic.” Killian said before turning to Regina “You did, from your mother.”

“What about me?” Emma asked “I had magic as well?”

“Yes.” Killian answered “You were the product of true love.”

“From Snow White – and, and, what- prince Charming?” She asked, and Killian swallowed and shook his head.

“No, what on earth?” He asked “What kind of fairytales have you been reading?”

“The wrong kind apparently.” Emma said as she ran a hand through her hair, and Killian knew that she was starting to believe him.

“Your father’s name is Robin.” He said “Robin of Sherwood, but better known as-“

“Robin Hood!?” Emma almost yelled as she slung her arms out “That’s stupid!”

“You’re stupid.” Killian quipped back, and one would think that after being alive as long as he had and after searching far and wide all over the realms, he would have picked up a better comeback than that somewhere along the way.

“Really?”

“Emma, are you believing him now as well?” Regina asked.

“I don’t’know what I believe, but…” Emma started, but she wasn’t able to finish the sentence.

Suddenly there was a knock on the door and all three of them jumped, while David didn’t even register it. His eyes fluttered every now and again, but that was about it. He only mumbled senseless things that not even Killian could understand.

Emma almost ran over to the door and as soon as she opened it, Henry came through the door.

“Mom!” He said and hurried over to Regina.

“Henry, what are you doing here?” Regina asked as she saw how Henry stopped and took in the sight of David. “I told you to stay with-“

“Hatter?” Killian finished the question as he took in the form of his old friend who was standing in the doorway. Aye, he looked different alright, but he seemed to fit in better than anyone else in town, at least to Killian’s eyes.

“What did you just call me?” He asked, and Killian had almost forgotten that he used to have a different name, but Killian hadn’t heard it in a very long time. A young girl was standing next to him and it was easy to see that she was his daughter. Killian couldn’t remember if he had a daughter back in the Enchanted forest. There was a lot of things he couldn’t remember.

“Hatter.” Killian said again, and it was almost like a lightbulb appeared over his face.

“Jefferson.” Regina said, and Killian remembered then. Aye, that had been his name. He wondered why some names had changed, while others had stayed the same. “Why are you here?”

Jefferson broke free of whatever spell he seemed to be under and turned his attention to the mayor. “Sorry, Miss.” He said “Henry insisted on seeing you, he seemed quite upset- what, what’s wrong with the Sheriff?” he asked as he and the young girl entered Emma’s small apartment as well.

“He’s dying of a broken heart- if you’d believe it.” Killian answered, and honestly, he felt like giving up. He’d travelled for so far, and so long, he didn’t even know his own age anymore, and now it all felt completely hopeless. He had ruined everything.

“Can’t you help him?” Henry asked as he looked from David to Killian. “True love’s kiss or something?”

“Henry…” Regina said as she bent down to get on the same level as her son. “David’s sick, he can’t…”

“Why won’t you believe me?” Henry asked, he sounded just as frustrated as Killian felt. “The old you would have believed me.”

“What are you talking about?” Regina asked, and Killian risked a glance over at Emma, who seemed to understand exactly what Henry meant. Killian didn’t say anything, instead he quietly made his way over to David and sat down on the armrest of the couch, stroking David’s sweaty hair away from his forehead. It was slightly longer than it had been back when Killian had known him.

“You used to believe in happy endings.” Henry answered, and he sounded very upset. Killian couldn’t blame him. This world was so different from the one he had travelled from, there was a lot of good in it, but there was also so few people that actually believed in something, that fought for something. Killian figured that Regina had used to be one of those people, but Killian knew better than anyone, he understood better than anyone, why that must have changed. “What happened?”

“She fell in love, lad.” Killian answered, before Regina had a chance to say anything. Regina turned around to look at him, and Emma did the same thing, but Killian just smiled sadly at all of them. “Trust me, there’s not a worst fate than that.”

“Why?” Henry asked.

“Well.” Killian said before clearing his throat and glancing down at David. “You talked about happy endings… Everyone wants to be happy, chase happiness again and again, but it’s an illusion you see.” His hand fell from where it was resting on the side of David’s neck and he turned all of his attention to Henry. “You can’t be happy all the time, it’s not a constant state of mind, so if you want to have a happy ending, then you have to be willing to end the story at the opportune time.” He said. “But when you’re in love, really- truly in love, that feeling when your mind is blurring and your heart is trying to beat it’s way out of your chest, and you can’t breathe without knowing that other part of you is alright, then ending the story just isn’t an option.”

Regina and Emma, even Jefferson was staring at him as if he was a comet falling from the sky. “So.” Killian said as he looked back down at David. “Instead of chasing happiness, you chase that person, unwillingly- unknowingly, even if it kills you.” He said as he brought David’s limp hand to his lips and kissed it carefully, before turning his attention back to Henry. “The stories are all wrong you see, you can have true love, or you can have a happy ending, but you can’t have both.” He said before smiling genuinely at Henry. “Only the fools choose the happy endings.”

Regina had actual tears in her eyes, and Killian didn’t know if it was because she knew what he was talking about or if it was because everything seemed impossible. He glanced over at Emma, and noticed how she was staring at Regina as well. Jefferson still looked like he was trying to fit the pieces of a puzzle together as he held his daughter close to his side.

“You love him, really love him.” Regina was finally able to say, and Killian nodded.

“With all I am.”

“Mom, everything he says is true.” Henry said again, his voice was more quiet now. “You have to fix this.”

“I don’t know- I can’t.” Regina said, and she looked overwhelmed with everything that was happening. Emma sat down next to her then, and put a comforting hand on her back and offered Henry a smile.

“Ah, Regina.” Emma said as if she was in complete disbelief. “Has there ever been anything you can’t do?”

Henry smiled at the blonde woman, and Regina couldn’t help but whisper a ‘thank you’ to her. Killian wished they would get their stubborn head out of their asses.

“I’m sorry.” Jefferson said, and suddenly everyone turned their attention to him. “Did you just call me ‘Hatter’?”

Killian’s brows furrowed. “Aye.”

“Well.” Jefferson answered as he straightened up before looking down at Grace who was suddenly smiling at her father. “Finally someone around here who is making sense.”

Killian almost fell off the couch.

Chapter Text

«Jefferson…» Regina began, not even knowing where to start or what to ask. “Do you know what’s going on?”

“I know enough.” Jefferson answered as he walked over to David and looked down at him before glancing over at Killian. “What’s wrong with him?”

Killian looked like he wanted to cry as he answered. “Depends on what you’ll believe.”

“You told me it was a broken heart.” Jefferson answered “Though you and I both know it’s not that simple, don’t we?”

“You know who I am?” Killian asked. “You recognize me?”

Jefferson shook his head. “No.” He said, and Killian heart sank a little “But you called me Hatter.”

“Aye.”

Jefferson smiled slightly and his eyes glistened. “I haven’t been called that in quite some while.” He said, and with a certain twinkle in his eye, he looked over at Emma and Regina before winking at Killian. “Seems like a lifetime ago.”

“I’m sorry, hatter?” Emma asked, apparently she seemed to have given up on actually fighting what was going on and had decided on going with the flow and see where she’d wind up.

“Yes.” Jefferson said “Alice in Wonderland?”

Emma’s eyebrows shut up in surprise. “The Mad Hatter?”

Jefferson pointed at her before grinning “That’s the one.” He said “Although from what I remember, the ‘mad’ part is slightly exaggerated and I don’t believe I spent much time in Wonderland either.”

“We crossed paths more than once” Killian said “You were able to use your hat to travel between the realms.”

“Ah.” Jefferson answered “I remember that.”

“You used to work for the king, but you were marked as a traitor and the queen put a price on your head shortly after she married him.” Killian said “I’ve only heard stories.”

“Wait, wasn’t I the queen?” Regina asked, and Emma had to shoot her a look, because apparently everyone was buying in on this now.

“It was the evil queen, wasn’t it?” Henry asked. “Your mother.”

“My…” Regina said, but she held up her hands in defeat. “I give up.”

“Might as well, dear.” Killian said “It doesn’t get any less complicated.”

“How do you remember?” Henry asked then, clearly excited about this new turn of events. David moaned something before turning his head slightly, but his breath quickly evened out. He didn’t seem to be in distress, just sleeping. Killian smiled fondly at him.

“Daddy has magic too.” Grace said happily, before turning to face Emma and Regina.

“I don’t have magic, sweetheart.” Jefferson as he smiled at her. “I remember glimpses of a different life, at first it only seemed like a déjà vu and then they appeared more and more frequently whenever I saw a familiar face or had a dream that felt all too real.”

“Why?” Emma asked. “Why you?”

Jefferson shrugged. “That I can’t tell you.” He said “At first I thought I was going mad, but after Grace was born… I realized that I had witnessed her birth before.”

“It may be because of your ability to travel between the realms that the spell didn’t affect you as strongly as the others.” Killian said.

“Perhaps.” Jefferson said. “As Grace grew up, I remember telling her stories that came to me as if they were my own memories, then I realized that they were.”

Killian smiled.

“Fairytales are real.” Regina said out loud, and for the first time she seemed to actually believe it. Three seconds later, she looked as if she was going to pass out. “We live in a town full of fairytale creatures.”

“Isn’t it cool, mom?” Henry asked with a grin. Regina just looked at him, unable to come up with an answer.

“Not the words I would use, kid.” Emma said as she turned to Killian. “I still don’t understand what we’re supposed to do, how are we going to save David?”

“We need to re-trigger the spell that brought you here.” Killian said “Reverse it somehow so that all of your memories return, the way the book should have done.”

“I have a serious headache right now.” Emma said as she groaned before sitting down on the coffee table.

“If they remember everything from then…” Henry started to ask, but he seemed unable to actually finish the question. Killian smiled comfortingly at him.

“Don’t worry lad, they won’t forget a thing.” He said “Not sure your mothers would be able to forget you even if all the magic in the world tried making it so.”

Henry smiled and Regina ruffled her son’s hair before kissing the top of his head. “Finally you’re saying something that makes sense, Killian.” She said, but she did not comment on the fact that Killian had just referred to Emma as his mother too.

“The love of a parent is the strongest there is.” Killian said as he looked over to Jefferson. “Which is probably why your daughter was born again in this world as well.”

“What about me, then?” Emma asked. “You said I was the product of true love, but I grew up without my parents.”

“Aye, but your parents are here.” Killian argued. “I believe your mother goes by the name Mary Margaret in this world, and your father certainly seems just as fond as her in this life as he did his previous one.”

“Mary Margaret and Robin… Are my parents?”

“When I knew you, yes.” Killian answered. “Though, you were nothing but a teenager then, the universe changes some things while others remain the same throughout all the realms and timelines.”

“That sounds familiar.” Jefferson said.

“It should.” Kilian said “You taught me that, old friend.”

David softly moaned Killian’s name, but didn’t open his eyes.

“He’s trying to remember, but the spell won’t let him. It’s tearing him apart.” Killian said as he leaned over David and pressed a soft kiss to his forehead. “It’s alright, love.” Killian had never once actually wished for magic. Once, when he was young and foolish he had thought it exciting to have such power, but as he grew up, he realized that there was so much responsibility and sorrow that came with it. Now though, he wished with all of his heart that the universe had provided him with something, anything, for him to help the love of his life. It had been years and years since he and David had promised each other forever, and Killian had cursed himself each time he caught himself forgetting one of the few moments they had shared together. Still, he loved him. God, how he loved him. Breathtakingly, miserably, unconditional love. There was no way he wasn't willing to do whatever it took to fix what had happened.

“Mom, you have to do something.” Henry said, clearly worried. “He’s your brother.”

“He was, at least.” Regina answered all too quickly as she remembered David’s mumbling and Killian’s words. David had been her brother, that wasn’t too hard to believe actually.

“Do you still not look after him as if he was your own blood?” Killian asked. “Just as Snow and Robin took care of you, Emma?”

“He’s not wrong.” Emma agreed. “I can’t believe I am saying this, but I am starting to believe all of this might have some truth to it, I mean, it can’t hurt to hear him out.”

“I know.” Regina replied on a breath as she held on tightly to Henry’s shoulder. “If you’re in, then I’m in.”

“Just like old times.” Emma said.

“Aye.” Killian agreed, “Although I’m not sure if we are referring to the same thing.”

“Sounds fun, where do we start?” Jefferson said as he patted the side of the couch and Grace jumped up on it. She looked worried about David, but her father reassured her as he stroked her cheek and smiled at her.

“Magic like yours doesn’t just disappear.” Killian answered as he took a step around the room, always keeping an eye on David. “Powerful magic can be lost and gained, but it never completely vanishes, no matter what realm you are in.”

“What about you?” Emma asked. “You said you didn’t have any magic, but something must have been able to bring you here?”

“As clever as always, princess.” Killian answered with a dashing grin, and Henry and Grace snickered. “Spread out through all of the realms there are fixed points in time, which prevails no matter what the worlds may suffer through.”

“My hat.” Jefferson let out, even though he looked confused as to why he had said it in the first place.

“Aye.” Killian answered. “Your hat was special indeed, it was said to be made of one of these fixed points, and by powerful magic it was made portable, one of a kind.”

“I’m never reading another fairytale again.” Regina said and Emma cocked her head to the side and looked at her. “Well, they’re all lies anyway, aren’t they?”

“If we get our memories back, if Kilian is telling the truth…” Emma said, and a smile fell upon her lips. “Then we can tell our own fairytales.”

Regina smiled back, and they must have been looking at each other for an awfully long time, because it took Killian coughing very non-discreetly for them to snap out of their trance and re-focus on their mission.

“Go on.” Regina said as she straightened her skirt and her eyes went from Emma to Killian, glancing at David every now and again.

“This place was where you two met; it was where your true love rekindled.” Killian answered as he pointed from Emma to Regina with a knowing smile. “And your true love was born.” He said as he looked from Regina to Henry. “Your magic and your true love was what brought you to this world, which means that the fixed point which holds your magic should be in this town.”

“That all seems great, but I’ve lived in this town for a while now and I haven’t exactly seen any yellow brick roads leading to a magic sinkhole or whatever.” Emma said as she rolled her eyes.

“Yellow brick-“ Killian asked, and Emma was about to tell him to forget about it, when Killian quirked an eyebrow at her. “You’ve heard of Oz?”

Emma’s mouth fell open, Jefferson looked surprised for a moment before he chuckled, and Regina felt the need to sit back down. “What?” She asked “You know what, never mind, I can’t deal with anymore of my childhood being ruined today, thank you.”

“If we’re lucky, we might restore some of it instead.” Killian answered.

“Do you have any idea where we might find this place?” Jefferson asked.

Killian grinned happily then. “As a matter of fact I do.” He said “When I travelled to this world, as Emma so gracefully reminded me-“

Regina rolled her eyes.

“I came through a portal from another realm.” Killian said “It closed as soon as I entered, but there has to be a magical link in both realms for the magic to make a connection.”

“So where you came in is where the magic fixed thingy is?” Emma asked, she had almost lost track of the story, but she was keeping up as best as she could.

“Precisely.” Killian said as he once again walked over to David and stroked some of the sweaty hair away from his forehead. “With any luck we can restore your magic and you can undo the memory-spell, you will all remember, and David’s mind and soul will be restored.”

“No pressure then.” Emma answered as she took a deep breath and looked over at Regina. “What do you say, Madame Mayor?”

Regina shook her head in disbelief, but glanced once over at David before nodding. “Sure, let’s go make some magic.”

“Oh, it’s been a while since you said that.” Emma said with a wink, and Regina actually turned bright red and started stammering when Henry just looked up at her with a curious expression on his face.

“I’m basically dying and you still find time to flirt.” David groaned from the couch, and everyone’s eyes fell on him.

“Darling, you alright?” Killian asked, and David nodded even though he didn’t look it. He reached out weakly and Killian immediately squeezed his hand before bringing it to his lips and kissing David’s knuckles. “

“You were there.” David said, almost on a whisper. “But it’s just a shadow, I couldn’t reach you.”

“Shh, it’s alright.”

“Regina.” David said, but it was closer to a whimper. Regina moved closer, but he didn’t even seem to register it. “She was so scared, I can’t find her, I have to find her.”

“I’m right here, David.” Regina answered and reached out for him, squeezing his shoulder. David turned his head and his eyes first found Regina, then Henry, and then Emma. He looked confused, and then scared.

“Henry-“ he said “He can’t be here.” He told Regina, before he looked over at Henry. “She won’t let you.” He started rambling again. Killian looked over at Regina before making David meet his eyes again.

“Hey, love.” He said, his voice was comforting as he tried to bring David back to reality, whatever reality that may be. “I’m right here, alright? Just focus on me.” He said and David seem to calm down a bit, but he was still blinking rapidly as if he was trying to wake up from a bad dream. “I’m going to fix this, I promise.”

With that, David fell asleep again, but he continued mumbling incoherent sentences that none of them could understand.

“We have to hurry.” Killian said “Even with the curse broken, I’m not sure his mind can recover from this if we don’t hurry.”

“What do you need from me?” Jefferson asked.

“A lot actually.” Killian said “It’s a good thing you showed up, hatter.”

Jefferson only winked at him.

“First, I need you to find someone to look after David.” Killian said “Someone who you trust who won’t try to bring him to a hospital, preferably someone with a face he can recognize so he won’t be even more confused.”

“What about Graham?” Jefferson asked. “He’s his best friend, isn’t he?”

“Graham?” Killian asked “That’s the other sheriff, aye?”

“Yes.” Regina answered. “Don’t tell me, he was in the fairytale realm too.”

“I believe so.” Killian said. “He was a knight, if I remember correctly, it’s been a while for me too, you know.”

“Wait, what? Really?” Regina asked “I can’t wait to remember that.”

“Good to see you are finally on board, my queen.” Killian replied before turning his attention back to Jefferson. “Alright, listen carefully because this next bit is quite important…”

Chapter Text

Emma thought she’d seen and done it all. She’d gone deep undercover to write life-changing stories, she had travelled the country and seen the best and worst of people, she’d fallen in love, both romantically and platonically. Emma had met new people that had changed the way she saw the world, and lost people she never thought she would. Still, she never in a million years dreamed of this.

Magic. Fairytales. Love. Family. Everything was within reach, and the more she tried to fight it and tell herself that it wasn’t real, that it couldn’t be real, the worst it got. There was no fighting the feeling that spread throughout her chest whenever Killian mentioned something like her parents or Regina. Even though she couldn’t remember anything, everything he said made sense.

Here she was, running through the tunnels underneath the town, looking for a magical fixed point in time and space to save David from a broken heart. It all made sense really. Except it didn’t. Emma tried not to think too much about it.

“It was right here.” Killian said as he stopped abruptly. Emma looked around, but she couldn’t see anything that even looked remotely magical.

“Are you sure?”

“Of course I’m sure.” Killian answered as he turned around and glared at Emma.

“Well, it was a long time ago, maybe you just-“Regina said as she started walking towards Killian, but suddenly there were sparks around her, but they faded away almost as fast as they appeared. “Please tell me you saw that as well?”

“Yeah.” Emma said, staring at Regina as if she was waiting for the blue sparks to make a reappearance. “We should have brought Henry along, he would have loved that.”

“It’s like an energy field.” Regina said, completely fascinated. Emma almost smiled at her, it’d been a while since she had seen Regina so caught up in something. “Magic is real.”

“Yes, I think we’ve established that.” Killian said impatiently.

“I wanna try.” Emma answered, probably sounding like a small child, but to be honest, she couldn’t help but feel excited by the thought as well. “How do I-?” She asked as she came closer, and Regina immediately put her hand in hers. All at once, Emma felt like a new rush of air filled her lungs, and she was sure that the earth beneath their feet started moving. Her entire body felt warm, and the only feeling that could compare was the first time Regina had kissed her. Maybe it had been true love’s kiss after all. “Wow.”

“I know, right?” Regina asked, and then she looked over at Killian. “Now what?”

“You need to find a way to tap into the magic that’s gathered here.” Killian said. “Concentrate. Magic is connected to emotions, memories.”

“Okay, then.” Regina answered with a nod. “You ready?”

“I just…” Emma said, and looked over at Killian for just a second, he seemed to read her mind though and gave her an encouraging nod. “I just want you to know that…”

“I know.” Regina replied, before Emma even had a chance to say anything. “Me too.”

Emma smiled at her, feeling tears well up her eyes, as she grasped Regina’s other hand as well. It was overwhelming. Terrible and incredible all at the same time. She looked down at their entwined fingers, noticing the blue sparks making a reappearance. Memories and emotions flooded her mind. How it had felt the first time Henry had hugged her legs, the smile on Regina’s face as she read Henry his fairytales and how her eyes lit up when the characters got their happy endings. The time Mary Margaret had made her chicken soup when Emma had been sick, and all the times in Robin’s bar when he had kicked out and yelled at guys for acting like pigs towards her.

Emma had lived such a sad life for so long; she hadn’t even realized how many good memories she had gathered since she came to Storybrooke. There were so many people who cared about her, who loved her.

She opened her eyes again, and Regina was already looking right at her. Her eyes were filled with tears as well, but she almost seemed weak.

“Concentrate on the good, darling.” Emma could hear Killian’s voice in the distance, and even though she knew that he was close by, it felt like he was a thousand miles away. She realized he was talking to Regina. “True love is the most powerful magic of all.”

Emma felt something like a tightening in her chest, and a new flood of memories entered her mind. They were fuzzier, and the voices in them sounded like echoes. They weren’t hers. They were Regina’s. An eight-year old Regina, clutching her pillow and crying her eyes out because her father had passed away. A fourteen-year old Regina sitting on the steps of a group home because her foster family didn’t want her anymore. Emma leaving. Regina trying to comfort her son, but Henry just yelling at her and blaming her because Emma was gone.

The memories were overpowering, almost suffocating. “Regina.” Emma managed to choke out. “Regina, you have to remember the good times too.”

“I’m trying.” Regina answered as she was struggling to breathe, almost as if she was ashamed of the fact that the bad things that had happened to her overpowered all the good.

“Hey.” Emma said, clutching Regina’s hands even harder. “Remember that time when I was supposed to watch Henry, but all he wanted to eat for dinner was your lasagna?”

Regina nodded. “Yeah, you almost burned my house down trying to replicate the recipe.” She said on a small laugh.

Emma smiled at her. “And our second date?”

Regina nodded again. “When Robin called and we had to pick up David from the bar.”

Emma laughed. “He was so drunk, we practically had to carry him, and he kept wanting to go skinny dipping?”

Regina smiled hugely then, and suddenly the warmth in Emma’s body returned. It spread from her heart, and connected them both, welcoming and wonderful. It felt like a missing piece of Emma was returning. If this was magic, she couldn’t understand how she had ever been able to live without it.

“It’s okay.” Emma said. “David loves you. Henry loves you.” She smiled. “I love you.”

“I love you too, Em.” Regina answered, as she finally let the tears fall down her cheeks. The blue sparks evolved and grew, and the darkness around them was filled with light.

Suddenly all of the memories changed. No, not changed, added. Transformed. The memory of Regina kissing her next to the fountain near the school, compared to another memory, of Regina’s lips on hers, only now they were in a stable. The memory was so real that Emma could smell the hay in the air.

Mary Margaret and the chicken soup, one of the first memories Emma had of anyone really caring for her, suddenly seemed different. It was still felt right, and calm, but another memory appeared alongside with it. Emma was just a child, sitting on her father’s lap. Her father, Robin. She was trying not to cry, but her mother told her it was okay as she kissed the bruise that was forming on her arm. Her mother. Mary Margaret. Snow White. Emma suddenly felt dizzy. It didn’t make sense, yet it made all the sense in the world. She could barely focus on Regina in front of her as she tried to keep both of them grounded. No wonder David was losing his mind if this was what he had been experiencing.

Parties and gatherings in the gym of the school or in Robin’s bar. Extravagant balls in great halls and castles. Taking pictures of the sunset. Creating light with her fingertips. Loving Regina. Being in love with Regina. That never changed. No matter what, that never changed. True love.

Then she gasped as her entire body felt like it was on fire, lights were all around them and shot through the air as if it was trying to escape. Warmth, love, friendship, family. All the things Emma had been so afraid to want, to need. It was there. It was real.

Suddenly it was all over and she felt nothing but calmness wash over her. There was no distress, no conflicting memories or emotions. Emma felt alive.

She let out a deep breath, as if she was dreaming. “Wow.”

“Oh my god.” Regina replied, and they just stared at each other for the longest of times before Emma reached out and stroked Regina’s cheek. “Regina.”

Regina put her hand on top of Emma’s. “Hi, princess.”

“David.” Killian said then and suddenly he was dashing out of the cave with an impressive speed. Regina looked at Emma for one more second before she decided to follow him.

“Wait, just one second.” Emma pleaded almost desperately as she pulled on Regina’s hand. “Please.” She barely got the word out of her mouth before she pressed her lips against Regina’s. Thank god, or magic or whatever the hell she believed in at the moment because Regina kissed her right back. The ground shook again, and Emma pulled way with a huge smile on her face.

“Do you think it worked?” Regina asked. “With everyone else I mean.”

“It had to.” Emma replied. “I don’t think I can handle it if my parents don’t recognize me.”

Regina grinned. “You have parents.”

Emma nodded. “I have parents. She said and then let out a breath. “You have a brother.”

“I do have a brother.” Regina repeated. “An annoying little brother, but still.”

“Let’s go see if he’s okay.” Emma said, and this time she was the one pulling Regina after her.

It was surreal how the town still seemed the same. Emma glanced over at the clock tower as they passed by, and remembered how Regina had brought her up there once to show her the view. Just as clear was an equally amazing memory of the two of them dancing around Regina’s bedroom when they had been nothing but children, young and foolish. It seemed impossible, but it wasn’t.

“Where are you going?” Regina asked as she stopped in the middle of the street, raising her eyebrows at Emma.

“What do you mean?” Emma asked back. “To my apartment of course, to check on David.”

“You should go find Jefferson and your parents.” Regina said. “He’s my brother, my responsibility.”

“Well, he’s my friend.” Emma responded stubbornly.

“Emma.” Regina said, offering Emma a fond smile. “In this world, your parents has spent most of their lives without you, they loved you more than anything, and I am sure they are just dying to find you.”

Emma wanted to protest, she wanted to know if David was okay, and she really wanted to stay with Regina. A part of her worried that if she let Regina go, then she would weigh all the good against the bad and decide that maybe Emma wasn’t worth a second chance. “Besides, if Jefferson did what we asked, then Henry should be with them as well.” She said. “And even though I remember having a brother, that little boy still means everything to me and I need you to tell him that everything is going to be okay and that I’ll be there soon, okay?” she asked. “Will you do that for me?”

Emma understood then, because Regina still trusted her with Henry, which meant that she trusted her with everything. “Of course.” She said, and dared to lean in and kiss Regina chastely on the lips once more. “I’ll see you soon.”

Regina nodded hurryingly before she ran in the direction towards Emma’s apartment. Emma watched her run away for only a second, before she turned on her heel and hurried towards Robin’s bar. The lights were on inside, and Emma figured that Jefferson had succeeded into gathering everyone who had a previous life from the Enchanted Forest there. Emma could still recall spending late nights in the bar when she had first gotten into town. Robin would always drive her home after he closed for the night, since she’d been on crutches at the time. Emma smiled fondly at the memories, because Hook had been right, Robin had been a parent to her, even when he couldn’t remember her.

She stood in front of the door and put her hand on the doorknob, but she felt frozen. If her father didn’t remember her. If Mary Margaret couldn’t recall that her name used to be Snow White… Emma wasn’t sure she could take it. Then she heard voices.

“I don’t care what that pirate told you, I am going out there to find my daughter and if you try to stop me-!”

Emma rushed through the door without a second thought. All eyes were suddenly on her. It felt like her entire life suddenly held more meaning as she looked into Mary Margaret eyes, and recognized her as her mother. “Mom.” Emma choked out, not even aware of the fact that she was already on the verge of crying.

Her mother all but leaped towards her and wrapped her in her arms. Emma squeezed her so tightly that she was afraid she might break her ribs. Opening her eyes, Emma could see Robin still staring at her as if he was seeing a ghost.

“Dad?” She asked, and her mother pulled away from her and turned around to face her husband.

Robin walked up to her, a little too slowly, before palming Emma’s cheeks and studying her. “My little girl.” He said, and then he was crying as he pulled her into an embrace. He kissed her hair and made soothing noises even though he was the one sobbing like a baby. “You’re so big.”

Emma nodded against his chest before she pulled away. “Yeah.”

“Where’s mom?” Henry asked, and Emma suddenly felt a pang of guilt as she had completely forgotten about the boy.

“She’s just checking on David, sweetie.” Emma said as she went over to Henry and bent down so they were the same height. “She wanted you to know that she’ll be here soon.”

Henry smiled at her and nodded once. “Good.” He said and Emma smiled at him before kissing his forehead. “It’ll be okay, kid.”

“Emma.” Mary Margaret said on a sigh. “All of our friends, our home… What happened to our world?”

Emma sighed heavily as well as she stood back up, still keeping a hand on Henry’s shoulder. “I have no idea.”

Chapter Text

‘At least that would give you enough time to find that mystery pirate you’ve been dreaming about.”

Regina’s calm voice, her sad smile.

Happy birthday, idiot!’

Regina’s voice, just as steady as ever, but filled with excitement.

‘Who’s there?’

‘Who wants to know?’

A handsome man turning around, dark eyes looking back at him. Killian.

‘Villains aren’t supposed to have happy endings’

I’ll find you’.

‘Always’.

David opening the door to a familiar face he hadn’t recognized. How did that happen? How had he not recognized the man he loved, his husband, his heart? Killian Jones. Captain Hook. It didn’t matter what people called him, or where he might be in the world, because David knew that no one deserved a happy ending more. He had sacrificed everything for David, travelled through the realms for him, despite the fact that most people saw him as nothing more than a pirate and an outlaw.

Memories of grand celebrations with dancing and magic came back to him just as clear as his memories of him living on the streets and Robin taking him under his wing. Playing with sticks and pretending they were knights as he and Regina ran around in the gardens, seemed just as real as Regina giving him the keys to her old apartment. Sitting by the fire in the old abandoned castle as he told Killian stories of his life, and glaring down Killian after he had gotten into a fight with Will. They were too different lives, but David could finally remember them both. Clearly, fully.

His eyes shot open as his lungs were filled with new and refreshing. Finally all the confusion and dizziness he had felt for what felt like an eternity was making sense. It didn’t seem impossible anymore, the thought of having lived another life.

He remembered his husband, his sister, his awful father. Robin, Emma, Snow, Philip. Friends and family. It was overwhelming.

“David?”

A familiar face.

“Killian?” David asked as he sat up. His vision was still blurry and he felt something he could only describe as nausea as he tried to gather his thoughts, but it didn’t matter, all that mattered was the reality of his life and how everything made perfect sense even though it should be impossible.

“Are you okay?” The man asked, looking very concerned as if he was afraid to even reach out and touch David.

David nodded as he sat up and tried to figure out how long he had been out of it, all he could remember was fear and confusion and faces of people he should recognize, but couldn’t. He shook those thoughts away, that was over now. “What happened?”

“After everything that’s happened lately, do you think you could narrow it down a bit?” Killian asked with a crocked smile. He seemed close to breaking down and David couldn’t help but reach out and caress his cheek.

“You fixed it.” He said.

Killian shook his head. “It was mostly Emma and Regina.” He said “I just lead the way, I suppose.”

“That’s not what I meant.” David said as he palmed Killian’s cheeks and grinned hugely at him. “You found me.” He continued. “You did all of this for me.”

“You deserve everything, love.” Killian answered, and David decided against saying anything about the tears that seemed to be welling up in his husband’s eyes.

“We’re married.” David said on a small laugh, as if he couldn’t quite believe it. “I’m married, I have a sister, a nephew and I-“

There was a cough then and Killian pulled away slowly from David and nodded over his shoulder, where a slightly uncomfortable Graham was standing with a crocked smile. “Just thought I should let my presence be known.”

“Graham!” David said with maybe a little too much enthusiasm. “You remember?”

“What, knocking you around?” Graham asked. “Being the only knight who had the guts to actually try to beat you in tournaments? Yes, I remember.”

David turned back to Killian. “Are you sure the curse was lifted properly, because he’s delusional as to what happened.”

“I’ve fought you, love.” Killian said with a shrug. “It’s not impossible for someone to beat you in a fight.”

“Ouch.”

Killian snickered, and David couldn’t even be mad at him anymore, because he was his husband, and he was right there and nothing seemed wrong or impossible anymore.

Then the door flew open and the three of them turned around sharply, and saw a bewildered Regina standing there, staring at them. “David.” She said on a breath.

“Regina.” David answered as if they hadn’t seen each other in forever. The moment seemed to go on for a while, before David suddenly remembered something else and he turned to look Graham right in the eye before pointing at him accusingly. “You slept with my sister?!”

David was about to leap from the couch and attack one of his best friends, which was just ridiculous, because Regina was a grown woman and not married, and the thing between her and Graham hadn’t even been that serious.

“I slept with Tinkerbell.” Was Regina’s response as her eyes grew wider and he looked at David as if she was waiting for him to tell her that it wasn’t true.

David shook his head.

“Some time may pass before all of this starts to make sense.” Killian answered, and he looked nervous. He turned to David. “The life you’ve lived now is just as real as the one you had before the spell….”

David studied him for a moment before he realized what the insecurity in Killian’s eyes met. He was afraid David would reject him. “Hey.” He said “You get to be a part of this one whether you like it or not.”

Killian smiled. “Not sure I really belong, love.”

“You belong with me.” David replied stubbornly before he got up from the couch and turned to Regina. “And you! Get over here!”

Regina grinned as she hurried towards him and leaped into his arms, and David started laughing even as the dizziness seemed to return for a little bit.

“So everyone else remembers some great love and I’m still as single as ever.” Graham answered with a shrug. “Fun.”

“Hey, thanks for looking out for me.” David said before he went over to Graham and clasped his shoulder.

“Sure, ‘hey, can you come over and look over an unconscious Dave for a while, he might mumble something about unicorns and magic spells, but just don’t take him to the hospital, okay?’, I wasn’t really doing anything tonight, anyway.”

David chuckled before turning back to Regina. “Where’s my nephew anyway?”

“Henry.” Regina said on a breath. “He and everyone else are at Robin’s bar, we need to get there so Killian can explain everything.”

“Not really sure I’m the right person for the job.” Killian said, and David was actually starting to worry about how frightened and insecure he seemed. He thought this was what Killian had wanted, for them to remember everything so he and Killian could be together again.

“No one else knows what the hell happened.” Regina replied. “I think you’re the only person for the job.”

“Alright then.” Killian said as he got up from where he’d been sitting next to David. “Lead the way.”

David couldn’t help but reach out and entwine their fingers, and Killian offered him a sweet smile before the four of them headed towards Robin’s bar. Robin, who was Emma’s father, who was Regina’s true love, who was his sister. Killian was probably right, it was going to take some time getting used to.

As soon as they entered the bar, all eyes were on them, and David wasn’t even able to see who was there and recognize all the familiar faces before Henry was running towards them and wrapping his arms around Regina’s waist.

“Hey, monkey.” She said before picking him up and spinning him around, even though he was getting too big for that. “Sorry I’m late.”

“It’s okay, but everyone else is freaking out.” Henry said, sounding way too casual with everything that was going on.

“That is not true.” Emma argued. “I am very good at keeping cool.”

David raised his eyebrows before he reluctantly let go of Killian’s hand as he went over to Emma and hugged her tightly. “Thanks for the help, princess.”

Emma chuckled and hugged back. “No problem, your majesty.”

As he pulled back, David realized that Robin was looking at Emma proudly, with his arm around Mary Margaret’s waist. So, David did the classy thing and winked at him.

“So, who’s here and who’s there?” Someone suddenly asked, and everyone turned their attention towards the voice. Jefferson. Not really that surprising. He was probably the one person who had thought about this thing more than Killian had.

“What?” Mary Margaret asked, already going back to her role as a leader.

“After what Emma- princess Snow?” He looked to Emma, wondering what the hell he should call her, and Emma just glared at him.

“Emma’s fine, really.” She said “Let’s just keep to the name we were given in this life to avoid confusion.”

“So, Emma told us something about a spell and reincarnation…” Jefferson said. “Did we die?”

“No.” Killian answered at once and everyone turned around to face him then. He sighed heavily before making his way to the middle of the room, glancing over at David while doing so.

“This is Killian Jones.”

“The pirate?”

“Captain Hook?”

“Thank you for the recognition.” Killian answered, and he sounded a lot more like the Killian that David once knew. Confident to the point of cocky, but still approachable.

“Weren’t you scheduled to be hanged?”

“Will!”

Regina covered Henry’s ears, but he just sighed heavily. He’d read the book, he probably already knew what had happened.

“I know you have a lot of questions, but everyone needs to calm down and try to remember that all of us are in the same boat here.” David said. “Please, just hear him out.”

Regina smiled proudly at him, and he just shrugged. He never really had the chance to rule as a king, but he knew how to reassure his people nonetheless. Both as a prince and as a sheriff.

“Thanks, love.” Killian answered before he raised his voice so everyone could hear. “No, you didn’t die. Technically.”

“Then what happened?”

“Cora, you may remember her. Charming woman, slight anger issues.” Killian said and David glanced over at Regina and the two of them seemed to realize something at the same time. None of them had even asked Killian about their parents, they hadn’t given it a second thought whether or not they were okay. “She tried to cast a spell to make Regina forget all about Emma, and for David to forget about me.”

“Because they were in love, and mom was married to the toad-king, and Hook was a pirate!” Henry chimed in.

David was the only one who couldn’t stop himself from laughing.

“Thanks for the input, kid.” Killian said. “Regina and Emma’s magic interfered with the spell, and all though Cora managed to make you forget, the spell backfired gravely.”

“We all forgot too, everything.” It was Kathryn. David’s chest ached uncomfortably. Killian nodded, as he too looked slightly uncomfortable.

“Short story. The spell expanded through the castle, some were hit, others not.” Killian said. “Regina had an idea to transport everyone to safety using her and Emma’s combined magic.”

“Instead we were, what, reborn?” Graham asked. “I remember my whole life, both of them in fact. I don’t see how the two things are comparable.”

“Magic isn’t logic, mate.” Killian said “It’s triggered by something deeper than that, emotions like fear, love, hatred, they can all be used to create or destroy. Merlin told me-“

“Merlin?”

“Yes, I think we can all agree that the fairytales and stories you were told in this realm has a lot of truth in them.” Killian said, sounding more impatient than anything else. “Cora focused her magic with hatred and fear, and all she wanted was to make you forget.” He said and nodded towards David, Regina and Emma. “Regina’s magic was focused by love, and all she wanted was to make sure those she cared about was safe. Combined with Emma’s magic, it blew out of proportions since Emma clearly wasn’t aware of what was going on at the time.”

“How do you know all this?” Regina asked. “You weren’t there.”

“You told me what you were going to do, remember?” Killian asked with a small smirk. “The rest of it was written in the book, it was sort of my guideline to finding out what happened.”

“So what did happen?” Robin asked. “What happened to our people, our kingdoms, our world?”

“This is where it gets complicated.” Killian answered on a sigh, and David’s eyebrows shut up in surprise. HE already thought things were pretty messed up, his head was still hurting and he was unsure if he could keep track of anymore unexpected surprises. “It’s all still there.”

“What?” Regina asked.

“Merlin, as well as some fairies and other powerful sorcerers created a protective shield around the Enchanted Forest, causing time to stand still inside.” Killian said. “Things were chaos when I managed to get out. The White’s Kingdom, Regina’s kingdom, David’s kingdom… All of their leaders were gone and they had no explanation as to what had happened.” He said. “It was almost like you were erased from time, which you almost were. Until you were born again here.”

“So they are just stuck?”

“Almost like a sleeping curse, I suppose.” Killian said. “It wasn’t easy to create, which was why I needed to find you as soon as possible.”

“How long were you looking?” Emma asked. Killian turned his attention towards David and locked eyes with him. It still took David’s breath away, just as it had all that time ago.

“I don’t know.” Killian finally answered, and there was a certain sadness behind his words. “Merlin used a similar spell on me to make sure I wouldn’t age until I found you.”

“So we have no idea what’s happening back home?” Snow asked, and she was the first one who had referred to it as such.

“No, I’m sorry.” Killian replied. “I thought…. Hoped I would find you sooner.”

“Hey, this is not your fault.” David said stubbornly as he put his hand on the side of Killian’s neck. “If it weren’t for you, we never would have remembered.”

“Might not have been such a bad thing, love.”

“Don’t say that.” David answered strictly. He didn’t want to hear it. “I’ve loved my life here, but I’ve always felt like something was missing-“ he turned to the crowd. “I think a lot of us can relate to that.”

There were agreements and nodding all around the room. “And we might not fully understand what has happened, and I know that things are different here, but I still feel responsible for all of you. We will find a way to make this work.”

“I agree.” Regina said. “Queen or mayor, it makes no difference.” She turned around and took in all the confused faces. “Snow still took care of your children in this world. When I first came to town, Robin did his best to protect those who could not care for themselves. Graham would still risk his life to save someone else’s, and so has David.” She looked at Emma. “Emma still cares unconditionally.”

“Some things even destiny or magic can’t change.” Killian said with a small smile on his lips, which really made David want to kiss him. He then sighed heavily and looked down at his feet and David still couldn’t understand why he was fighting him every step of the way.

“What if we don’t want to go back?”

It was Jefferson.

David opened his mouth to answer, but found no reply. He wasn’t even sure if they could get back.

“We are but a handful of people here.” Regina said, “Probably the ones Emma and I felt subconsciously inclined to protect.” She turned to Jefferson. “While some of you were probably sucked into it as well because of your own magic or connection with travelling through the realms. I’m sorry.”

“No need to apologize.” Jefferson answered as he put a hand protectively around Grace. “I understand that you feel inclined to go back and protect your people, but Grace has a life here and she’s safe from my past mistakes.”

“I understand.” David answered. “This is difficult for all of us. We’ve lived two lives, none more important than the other. You will all have to make a choice. If we can find a way to go back, you will need to choose if you want to stay or go.”

Then everyone started mumbling. Regina grabbed David’s arm. “What about me? I am a queen there and the mayor here. Henry’s never seen the Enchanted Forest and no one there will understand how he can be my son if we go back.”

David sighed heavily as Killian, Robin, Snow and Emma moved closer to participate in the conversation. “As far as we know, Regina.” He said “Leopold is still alive.”

“I know.” Regina answered. “I don’t want to abandon anyone to his rule, but….” She looked down at Henry who was hugging her leg. “He has to come first.”

“I know.” David said.

“I can come too, mom!”

Regina sighed heavily and brushed Henry’s hair away from his forehead. “It’s not that simple, honey.”

“So if we can even find a way to open a portal, what do we do?” Emma asked as she took a hold of Regina’s hand “Because I am not losing you again.”

“Maybe I can contribute with a solution?”

They all turned around to see a grinning Jefferson.

Chapter Text

Killian was a pirate. He might have been something more a long time ago, but the life he knew, the one that Killian was pretty sure he was born to lead, was on the sea, reckless and free. Then he had met the love of his life and everything had changed. Killian had lost him once and the thought of doing so again had scared him more than anything. He had spent so many years looking for him that some days he couldn’t even remember the smell of the ocean anymore.

David was his whole world now. He’d stood beside him through vindictive fathers, curses, wars and rebuilding his kingdom. Now Killian stood beside him as his husband was finally made the king he was born to be.

All their friends and family was cheering happily, it was a long time coming. Everything had changed. Everything.

David entwined his fingers with Killian’s as they made their way through the cheering crowd. It was still an unfamiliar feeling for Killian, the one of being wanted, appreciated. Some days he still couldn’t believe it was all real.

Villains weren’t supposed to get happy endings.

“Uncle David!”

That kid grew way too fast for Killian’s liking, it made him feel old, and he already had too many years behind him.

“Hi, Henry!” David said as he threw his arm around Henry’s shoulder and squeezed him tight. “Nice tights.”

“Mom made me wear them.” He said, clearly not happy about the outfit he was given. “I don’t see what’s wrong with jeans.”

David nodded in agreement, as he felt his own clothing start to itch around the collar. “Yeah, me neither, kid.”

“Stop complaining.” Regina said as she and Emma made their way towards the three of them. “At least you’re not wearing a corset.”

“Touché.” Killian answered. He didn’t really dress up as often as his husband, but the few times the occasion called for it, he couldn’t help but think he looked rather handsome. Ruggedly handsome of course, there was no way he was getting rid of his beard, even though he was married to the king.

“I’m glad you could make it.” David said. “You sure Storybrooke can survive without you for a little while longer?”

“It’s only for the summer, David.” Regina argued. “I’m sure Graham and Belle has everything under control while we’re here. Besides, he knows where to find us.”

“He finally found someone.” David answered. “Good for him.”

“Grace and Henry sure are lucky.” Emma replied. “Not everyone gets to spend their vacation in a fairytale land.”

Henry turned and raised his eyebrows at his new step-mom. “Becky’s going to Disneyland.”

Emma rolled her eyes at Regina who only shrugged in response.

Luckily for them, Jefferson had found a way to combine his knowledge of the realms with what he knew about magic and portals to show Emma and Regina how to make a permanent link between the Enchanted Forest and Storybrooke. Those with enough focused magic and knowledge about the town was able to travel through it without much fuss. After the war between the kingdoms had ended, they had been able to form a contract of an alliance between all of them. Leopold was gone, as well as Cora and George. Abigail, or Kathryn, David still wasn’t sure what to call her, had taken over her father’s kingdom, and David and Regina had merged theirs into one.

It was a good thing after all, since Regina and Emma decided to stay in Storybrooke with Henry. Regina was needed as the mayor, and Henry had friends and school there. And Emma… She really didn’t want to give up her camera or her iPhone.

They didn’t see each other as often as David might have preferred, but he knew it was for the best. They did what was best for the people they were meant to be protecting, and they were happy. They got their happy endings after all, who would have thought?

“David, I expect one grand wedding present, seeing as you missed the ceremony.” Emma said teasingly as she furrowed her brows at him.

“Worst Maid of honor, ever.” Regina commented.

“Stupid ogres.” Killian muttered under his breath.

“How about a stunning vacation home in the form of a castle?” David asked. “Or some gold, you could use some gold right? A unicorn? We’ve got two now.”

“Hey, that was our wedding present.” Killian argued.

“You hate the unicorns.” David said as he squeezed Killian’s hand.

“True.” Killian agreed.

“I’m sure we can think of something.” Emma answered on a laugh. “Dad has been teaching Henry how to swing a sword around, he’ll have you beat in no time.”

Killian laughed. “Yeah, I wish that was a great accomplishment.” He said, as he ignored how offended David looked. “Take a few more lessons and then we can see if you can take me on, mate.” Killian said as he winked at Henry who started laughing.

“You are so rude.” David said. “That’s not how a king should act.”

“I’m not a king, love.” Killian answered with a smirk before he brought their entwined fingers to his lips and kissed the back of David’s hand. “I only married one.”

“You could be if you’d just let me-“

“No coronation.” Killian argued as he held up a hand. “As long as I can get food whenever I want and get to park my ship with the royal navy, I am good, thank you.”

“You are a simple man to please, Killian.” Emma said, and Killian shrugged in agreement with a small smirk around his lips.

“Besides, look at that crown.” Killian said as he nodded towards David once again. “His head is way too small for that thing, I don’t want to walk around like that.”

“Okay, you know what.” David said as he withdrew his hand from Killian. “You’re not allowed to be king, and I’m confiscating your ship.”

“You could try, love.” Killian answered with a wink.

“Please, he’s got you wrapped around your finger, little brother.” Regina answered. “You couldn’t even threaten to take away his lunch money.”

David puffed in annoyance, but everyone knew that Regina was right.

“Who’s lunch money are we stealing?” Robin’s voice suddenly chimed in as he put a strong hand on Killian’s shoulder.

“No one’s.” Both Regina and David said at once. With David being married to a pirate and a thief, and Regina being married to the daughter of an outlaw and a bandit, they somehow ended up in a lot of unconventional situations for a king and a mayor.

“Congratulations, your majesty.” Snow said as David kissed her hand. “Guess you’re promoted to King Charming now.”

“Oy, what does that make me?” Robin asked, and Snow rolled her eyes at him, before her husband made his way over to Emma and kissed the top of her head. It was hard for them, being away from Emma as much as they were, knowing that they had already missed so much time together. Still, at least they had been able to see their daughter get happily married, to see her have a family, to have a life she loved.

“Come on, pouty.” Killian said as he grabbed David’s hand once again. “Dance with me.”

“You sure I won’t just step on your feet? Maybe my small head will mess up my coordination.”

Killian grinned as he leaned in and gave David a chaste kiss on his mouth, smiling as he felt David melt instantly. “We have forever, love.” He said “Just get used to me.”

David rolled his eyes at him before he let himself be dragged across the room and onto the dancefloor. It was surreal. Killian actually belonged somewhere.

“Come on, little prince.” Snow said as she nudged Henry along. “Your grandfather can teach you how to swing a sword around, but I’ll get to teach you how to dance.”

“Mom!” Henry complained, but both of his mothers just gave him a stern look. Henry sighed before he followed after Snow.

Robin grinned as he crossed his arms in front of his chest, and the three of them took in the sight in front of them. Henry was clumsily trying not to step on Snow’s feet, while she only laughed and tried to guide him the best she could. Killian and David were swaying along to the music, clearly not even listening as they were completely off beat. They didn’t seem to care though, too wrapped up in finally getting to be together.

Emma was the first one to speak. “Do you guys ever think that you’re actually crazy and is just tucked away in a mental institution somewhere?”

“Yes.”

“Definitely.”