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A Virgin to Light a Candle (Or That One Time that Swan Queen Met the Sanderson Sisters)

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It had started with a permission slip. To be more specific, it started with a permission slip for Henry to go on an overnight field trip to Salem, MA to study the Salem Witch Trials.

Emma was all for the idea. It would be a great opportunity for him, she said, and he would have a great time.  Regina was a little more hesitant. It wasn’t the idea of letting Henry out of Storybrooke for the night. (It’s not, she insisted at Emma’s raised eyebrows).

It was just the fact that the trip was scheduled for Halloween and Regina did not want to have any more holidays apart from him.

Halloween the previous year had been spent in the Underworld, and that had been an experience for the ages. The year before that Henry had been in New York with Emma and no memory of their life together.

She and Emma had argued, the way they used to before curses and monsters and wicked witches had forced them onto the same side enough times that they were forced to accept that they were friends. In the end, Emma convinced Regina by reminding her how devastated she had been when she had read about this world’s Witch Trials. If Henry wanted to learn about that atrocity and study more about the craft that both his mothers practiced, he should be allowed to.

And so, he went.

To Salem, Massachusetts.

On Halloween.

What could possibly go wrong?

When the 1st phone call came in, Emma was 3 beers into a drinking game that involved little girls dressed up as Princess Elsa. Regina, intent on not concentrating that she was spending yet another Halloween away from Henry, was busy making candy apples in the kitchen. Each assumed the other would get the phone, so neither stopped what they were doing.

Uh….Moms? I don’t want you to worry, cuz everything is fine. But I think I may have done something stupid. I’m gonna take care of it, though.”

Regina ran from the kitchen and bumped directly into Emma in the hallway.

“What the hell was that about?”

“I have no idea, Miss Swan. But I don’t like it. Let’s call him back.”

Emma nodded, but before she could pull out her phone, the home phone rang again. Regina snatched it up.


“Hey, Mom. Don’t worry. I’m ok.”

“Henry, starting a conversation like that is not the way to get me not to worry, I assure you.”

“Right. Uh…..Is Ma there? Her cell is dead, by the way.”

Regina rolled her eyes and motioned for Emma to come closer as she put the phone on speaker.

“She is here, dear. Go ahead, we can both hear you.”

“Ummm. Actually, would it be ok if I just spoke to Ma right now?”

Not wanting to show her hurt, she took the phone off speaker and handed it to Emma. Pretending not to listen to Emma’s end of the conversation, she walked back to the kitchen before Emma’s hissed whisper of “What???” caught her ears. She returned to the phone immediately.

“I’m sorry, kid, I need to bring your mom in on this.”

“No, Ma! Wait, don’t!”

She ignored him, as well as his pained whisper of “why me?” and covered the receiver with her hand.

“Our son got a blow job.”

“And he called to tell you about it? Did he want a high five for his accomplishment?” Regina could hear Henry’s mortified groan through the phone line, but she ignored it.

“No! He said something about a candle and a spell, and..”

“And what, Miss Swan?”

“Heaskedifheisstillavirgin,” Emma rushed through the sentence.


“He asked…”

“If he was still a virgin. I got it.”


“Well, what, Miss Swan? He asked you, not me. Answer him.”

Bright red, Emma took her hand off the receiver and began to try to speak. After three false starts to the first sentence, Regina rolled her eyes.

“Give me the phone,” she said, and Emma dropped it in her hand as though it were fire. She turned to leave the room, only to be snagged by her sleeve.

“You are not getting out of this that easily, Miss Swan.” Regina put the phone back on speaker.

“Henry, dear. I understand from your mother that you have some questions for me.” She ignored his pained whimper.

“Why is it important that you know if you are still considered a virgin, Henry?”

He mumbled something that Regina couldn’t quite understand, but she thought she got the gist of it.

“All right, Henry. I know you are upset, but just calm down. Now…” she took a deep breath and continued. “Oral sex is an act of great intimacy and deciding to have oral sex is an important step in a young man’s or young woman’s life.” She ignored Emma’s wince.

“We can discuss this further when you come home, but for right now your mother said you asked about a spell. From a purely magical standpoint, sex without, um, penetration does not count towards losing one’s virginity.”

There was silence on the other end of the line and for a moment Regina thought he hung up. Then…

“Mom? I think I messed up big time.”

She met Emma’s eyes over the phone.

“Tell me everything, Henry. Don’t leave anything out.”

On his end of the line, Henry was beginning to panic.

“One of the tour guides told us a legend about some witches whose souls could be released by a spell where a virgin lights a candle.”

“And you lit it?! What the hell, Henry?”

“I’m sorry Ma! They were all teasing me about being a virgin and I wanted to prove that I am not because Violet and I, well….you know…”

“Kid, of all the dumb things you have done…”

Regina put her hand up to interrupt Emma’s tirade. “All right Miss Swan. There will be time for all that later. Let’s focus on this spell for now, shall we?”

Emma nodded. “What do we need to do first?”

“We need to figure out whose souls were released. Let’s call Belle and see if she can help narrow down the spell Henry described.”

“Actually, you don’t have to do that.” Henry’s voice came through the line again. “The spell released some witches named the….um…hang on one sec, let me get that book again. Yeah, here it is. The Sanderson sisters.”

Regina paled. “You mean Winifred Sanderson?”

“I think so. Is that bad?”

“Henry, listen to me closely. Lock your hotel room and stay there. Do not leave, under any circumstances. Tell the other children on the trip to do the same. Your mother and I will be there shortly.”

She hung up without saying good bye and turned to Emma. “Ok, here’s the plan. You need to find Gold and get us a spell that will transport us directly to Salem. My magic can’t transport us past the town line.”


“I’m going to find my sister and get her to come with us. These are not the witches to be outnumbered by, believe me.”

“So, there’s three of them?”

“Yes, Miss Swan. Go find Gold and meet me at the town line in 20 minutes.”


“Sisters?” Winifred’s shrill voice penetrated the night sky. “Where are thee, Sisters?”

“Right here, Sister.”

“Right here, Sister”

Her youngest sister Sarah was staring at her reflection in a lake and Mary was scurrying up to her with an expression of complete devotion on her face.

“Sisters, it appears our long wait is over. After all these centuries, a virgin has lit the candle!”

“At last!” Mary rejoiced.

“Was it a boy virgin?” Sarah asked. “Oh sisters, let us go find him! I wish to smell him! He will be mine forever.”

“Silence!” Winifred ordered. “We do not need to find this virgin. Let us find our book and make preparations so that we may stay past All Hallows Eve. The virgin will find us when the time is right.”


“I still don’t understand what we are doing in the graveyard,” Zelena complained. “Shouldn’t we be finding those witches?”

“No,” Regina said. “Everything I know about Winifred Sanderson tells me she will come here to resurrect her dead lover. He is her most devoted follower and she will need him for what she plans to do.”

“Do I want to know what she plans to do?” Emma asked.

“No, Miss Swan, you don’t.”

“That was a rhetorical question, Regina!”

“Be that as it may, Miss Swan, it is probably best if I don’t tell you. You don’t always exhibit the best judgement.”


“Well, if I had my way, Henry would be home safe in Storybrooke right now, would he not? And conversations about witches and the status of his virginity would be the furthest thing from our minds.”

Emma couldn’t really argue with the logic of that statement and in any event Zelena looked like she was going to choke trying to keep herself from laughing and betraying their position, so she thought it best to change the topic.

“So, what’s the plan here, Regina?”

“Simple. We are going to divide and conquer.  You and Zelena are going to get Sarah and Mary away from here while I confront Winifred. If I defeat her, getting rid of the other two should be fairly simple.”

“I don’t like it.”

“I didn’t really ask if you liked it, Emma.”

Zelena interjected herself into the discussion. “I don’t like it either, sis. I think we should stick together.”

“Are you implying I can’t handle Winifred Sanderson on my own?”

Emma rolled her eyes. “No one said that, Regina. But if defeating Winifred is the key here, we should all team up on her and take her out while we have the element of surprise.”

Regina glowered, but when Zelena nodded her agreement, she decided against arguing. “Ok.”

“Really? That’s it, no more arguing?”

“Really, Miss Swan. Besides, the time for arguing is done. Here they come.”


Winifred sniffed the air as they approached the graveyard.

“Beware, Sisters! There is trouble here!”

“Well, yes,” Mary giggled. “It’s a graveyard. Of course, there’s trouble.”

“No. There are witches here.” She rolled her eyes at Mary’s confused look. “Witches other than us, sister,” she clarified.

She flew her broom higher to get a better look around. Regina, seeing that they were about to be caught, formed a fireball in her hand and threw it at her.

Winifred laughed as she batted the flame away. “A fire witch! How quaint! What is your name, Sister?”

Regina scowled. “My name is Regina. And I am not your sister.” She nodded towards Emma and Zelena who leapt from their hiding places throwing magic at every conceivable target. Winifred cackled and flew her broom around, easily avoiding the blasts.

“Come, sisters! We will return for Billy later. Let us continue with our plan.”

They flew off and Emma ran to Regina. “You need to tell me their plan right now, Regina.”

Regina nodded. “They want to steal the lives of children,” she said.

“Excuse me?”

“They steal children’s lives so that they can live forever,” she explained. “The worst kind of witches there are.”

“I beg your pardon,” Zelena said. “I believe I am the worst kind of witch there is.”

“How do we stop them?”

“We have to find their spell book before they do,” Regina said. “The spell they are trying to enact is complicated and there is a pretty good chance they don’t know it by heart. The spell Henry cast is temporary, so as long as they are unable to steal any children by sunrise, they will return from whence they came.”

“From whence they came?” Emma snickered.

“Don’t blame me because your vocabulary rivals the average 5th grader,” Regina sniffed. “Come on, let’s split up.”

“Where do you want us to go?” asked Zelena.

“Emma, you go to the hotel and find Henry. We need to make sure he’s safe and if I know my son, he has already begun to do research on the sisters. He may have some ideas.” Emma nodded and pulled up the hotel address on her cell phone.

“Zelena, you stay here and search the graveyard thoroughly. Find Winifred’s lover’s grave. I think there may be a clue there.”

“What are you going to do, Sis?”

Regina’s mouth was set in determination. “I’m going to find Winifred.”


Regina found the witches’ home with relative ease, but when she got there no one was inside. She looked around and then entered. The cauldron bubbled and she went over to sniff it.

“Eye of newt, frog’s leg, bat’s wing, and wait, what is that?” She sniffed again. “Is that cayenne pepper? Is this a spell or dinner?”

Shrugging, she kept looking around. She was in the middle of searching the books on the shelf looking for the spell book when she heard it.

The beautiful, haunting voice of Sarah Sanderson singing for all the children to join her. Heart dropping in her throat, she ran outside to find Emma and Zelena coming to the house to meet her.

“What now?”

“Now, we go with the original plan. There’s three of us and three of them. Emma, you take Mary. She’s easily confused, so you should be able to trick her.

“Zelena, you’ve got Sarah. Whatever you do, get her to stop singing.”

“How are you going to stop Winifred?”

“I’ll figure something out. Now go!”

Zelena flew out on her broom to meet Sarah. When Sarah saw her, she grinned with delight.

“A friend! But oh, you’re a girl.” She pouted as Zelena stared at her.

“I’m….sorry? I think?”

Sarah’s pout didn’t change. “I like to play with boys best. But don’t fret, here comes one now. Oh, isn’t he delicious?”

Zelena turned around and her mouth dropped open. “Regina!” she screamed, pointing at Henry walking up to them as though in a trance.

Startled, Regina turned around and it was all that Winifred needed to blast her back with a burst of magic. Struggling to get up, she watched Sarah land her broom by her soon and clap her hands in glee.

“It’s a boy! But….ew. He needs a bath.” Regina’s eyes flashed in fury.

“Is this your child, Sister?” Sarah asked. “He smells like a whale’s testicle. Boys are supposed to smell sweet, not like this.”

“He’s! A! Teenager!” Emma shouted running up and smacking her on the head with log. Sarah’s eyes rolled back in her head and she slumped down, unconscious.

“You ok?” Emma asked, reaching down to help Regina up.

“I’m fine. Where’s Mary?”

“Back at the cabin. I convinced her that Winifred wants her to clean up in preparation for the spell. Where’s Win-“

Her question was cut off by Winifred’s magic blasting them both back. Behind them, the children, led by Henry, walked blankly on and Zelena ran to Henry, trying to get him to leave the group.

“Come on, Henry! You’re the moron that made this mess. Don’t you dare leave it for us to clean up.”

Sarah blinked her eyes, beginning to come to. Zelena abandoned Henry and ran to her. The blonde glared at her petulantly.

“That hurt!” she whined. “You’re supposed to be my friend. Why did you let your companion do that to me?”

“We’re not friends,” Zelena said. “Your pathetic plan is giving wicked witches like me a bad name. You know there are plants that will grant you eternal youth? Why the hell do you need to go after children? Really, it’s so cliché.”

Sarah’s eyes narrowed. “I don’t like you anymore,” she whined. “You’re going to pay for that.” Her hands raised to the sky, she moved them in a circle, summoning bolts of lightning. Thunder crashed and the wind picked up as Zelena desperately tried to hold on.

Emma and Regina clutched each other as the wind howled around them. “We need to get to Henry!” Regina shouted. Emma nodded, stepping out from behind their tree carefully. Winifred saw her and flew over to stand in her way.

“Hey!” Zelena shouted, successfully drawing the attention of the two witches. “You call that a storm? I’ll show you a storm!” She raised her hands to the sky and spun around in a circle. Her arms danced around in a large sweeping motion as she continued to spin.

Regina saw the plan immediately and ran to Winifred. As the twister formed, she jumped on Winifred’s broom, steering them towards the storm.

“Regina! Get off of there!” Zelena yelled, but Regina was too intent on making sure Winifred got caught up in the cyclone to listen. The twister grabbed the broom and spun it around and around and she was sure she was lost.

Suddenly, a strong hand grabbed her wrist and yanked. She tumbled to the ground and found herself face to face with Emma lying on top of her. They turned and watched as the cyclone spun Winifred and Sarah a few more times before disappearing entirely.

“Where did they go?” Emma asked rolling off of Regina and catching Henry in an embrace.

“Oz. But don’t worry. Dorothy can handle them.”

“Well, our job isn’t done here,” Regina pointed out. “We need to take care of Mary.”

The shout coming from the cabin interrupted them as a bunch of children led a bound Mary to them.

“I am ready for you to proclaim my justice, Sisters,” Mary said. “I am glad to be free of Winifred at last.”

Regina nodded. “I don’t really see that we have to do anything other than wait for sunrise and you will go back to sleep.”

“That is true,” Mary said. “However, as long as the candle exists, there is a chance that Winifred can come back. After 300 years trapped with her, I no longer want to aid her in her quest.”

“Why not?”

“Well, I like children, unlike my sisters. I never really wanted to drain them of their life force. I am willing to pledge my fealty to you, Sister Regina. Tell me how I can prove my loyalty.”

Regina shrugged. “I don’t need your fealty. But you can tell me how to destroy the candle.”

“The candle is forged of the darkest magic. It requires the strongest of light magic to destroy it.”

Emma jumped up, flexing her fingers. “Guess that’s my cue,” she said. “Let me at it.”

“Guess again, Savior. She said the strongest of light magic. Your magic is light, but not nearly strong enough.” Regina nodded in agreement.

“How about if Regina and I attack it together? That’s always worked for us.”

“It won’t this time.” Regina spoke quietly, barely above a whisper. “Zelena is right. This requires the strongest light magic there is. There is only one thing powerful enough to destroy it.”

“Let me guess. True Love’s Kiss.”


“Well, how are we supposed to do that? Anyone bring their true love along for the ride?”

“Oh, my dear. You must be pulling my leg,” Mary giggled.

Emma looked at Regina who was studiously staring at the ground. “What is she talking about, Regina?” Regina refused to answer her.

“She means that you and Mom are True Loves!” Henry shouted. “How have you not figured that out yet?”

At least I can figure out if I am a virgin or not.” The thought was on the tip of Emma’s tongue, but she swallowed it to spare her son the embarrassment.  Instead of speaking, she looked at Regina.

“Look at me, Regina.”

Regina ignored her, still looking at the ground.

“Kiss her, Ma!” Henry cheered.

Emma froze unable to move. The chant, started by Zelena, was picked up by the group.

“Kiss! Kiss! Kiss! Kiss!”

Emma still didn’t move.

“Kiss! Kiss! Kiss! Kiss!” The chant continued, but Emma still found herself unable to move a muscle.

“Oh, for heaven’s sake. Must I do everything myself, Miss Swan?”

Regina grabbed Emma by the face and planted a deep kiss on her lips. Crowd forgotten, Emma’s mouth opened and allowed Regina’s tongue to slip inside. A bright light flew through the air, causing them to pull apart at last, just in time to see the candle explode. Mary slipped to the ground, returned to her eternal sleep at last.

A cheer rose up from the crowd and Emma grinned sheepishly. “Come here, woman,” she said, grabbing Regina in close for another kiss. Regina rolled her eyes.

“Oh, now she wants to do something,” she teased, but she allowed the Savior to kiss her briefly before pulling away and grabbing her hand instead.

“Come on, Miss Swan. Let’s go home.” They reached out for their son and Zelena and returned home as a family.