Disclaimer: I own nothing except the plot and any unrecognizable characters.

Well...I was very bored one day and after thinking up story ideas for 'No One Escapes' and "Say You'll Remember', this is the end result. It's an AU companion piece to my story Say You'll Remember/Goodbye Means Forgetting, in which Peter Pan comes for Lily right after the Curse is cast.


Seated at the work table in the back room of the Pawn Shoppe, Lillian wrinkled her nose. Dust motes rose from the ancient looking book as she carefully turned the pages, checking each one over intently. The book was older than dirt, yet was still remarkably preserved from what she had seen so far. The pages were yellowed, though there were few creases and no rips on the delicate parchment, while the binding was a tad too frayed for her liking.

Thankfully, she wasn't the one who had to take the arduous task of rebinding it. And after Gold finished it, it would be ready to be displayed and sold.

Head rising in surprise when the bell tinkled up front, Lillian rose from her seat warily. Gold had left not ten minutes ago with his bodyguard to get lunch from Granny's - and collect the rent Widow Lucas owed him - and it was far too soon for him to have been back. The door had also, as far as she knew, been locked, the sign turned to closed.

"Hello?"

A tall, thin teenage boy stood with his back to her, clad in a warm woolen coat with a high, turned-down collar. He didn't react to her greeting, merely ran long fingers across the ornately carved chess board on the counter before him. His movements were graceful, though there was a kind of tempered wildness to him all the same.

Unsettled by the sight of a stranger - a complete rarity in Storybrooke - Lillian cleared her throat. "I'm afraid you'll have to leave, sir. The shop's closed until Mr. Gold gets back."

"Is that what he's calling himself, now?" He turned at last, emerald eyes set in a pale, angular face, his thin lips twisted into a faint smirk that widened at the sight of her. "Gold. Fitting, I suppose."

Lillian's eyes widened as she took in the sharpness of his features. "Do... Do I know you?" She asked, unsettled by the naked longing in those familiar eyes. Struggling to remember just where she had seen him before, the memories evaded her grasp no matter how hard she tried. "I..."

"Shh," he was in front of her suddenly, trailing gentle fingers across her cheek. "Shh, Lily. I'm here."

Jerking from his touch, Lillian tripped over her own feet in her haste to get away. He watched, hand still outstretched, expression closing at the sight of her running from him. Swallowing, he lowered his hand, clenching it into a fist at his side.

"You really don't remember me, do you?" Looking pained when Lillian stared up at him in slight terror, he knelt down to her level. Jaw tight, he watched as she pushed herself back onto her feet, watching him warily.

"A-am I supposed to?" She whispered, terrified of this clearly deranged stranger before her. Cursing herself for not going with Gold when he went to get them lunch at the diner, she glanced around to try and locate an escape route. When he did nothing but stare at her, blinking rapidly, she began to edge her way to the door. "I... who are you?"

His pained, upset expression faded at her words. "Well, I suppose there's time for a guessing game." He rose, watching with a faint smirk as she continued to inch away. Her clear terror - likely due to the meek personality the Curse had given her - gave him no pleasure despite his demeanor. "Do you remember how much I liked those?"

Seizing his distraction, Lillian bolted for the door, shrieking when he caught her arm and pinned her to the wall beside the door. Breathing heavily, she stared up into his wild gaze, shivering at the sight.

"Where's my brave princess?" He cooed, fingers stroking the curls that had escaped her messy braid. "Well, don't worry. We'll have time to fix that problem later." He released her arm, grasping hold of her hand and pulling her with him.

"Wha- stop it!" Struggling against his hold as he led them through the back of the shop, he paused when the door up front opened. "Mr. Gold! Help!"

Jerking Lillian closer, the boy cursed loudly as Gold called her name. Her guardian entered the back room in time to see the stranger dragging Lillian out the back door. Glancing back, the strange boy who was kidnapping his ward smirked, eyes gleaming.

"Hello, laddie. So sorry we can't stay for a real family reunion."

Ignoring Gold's shouts for them to stop, he stormed out of the pawn shop, his grip on Lillian's arm too strong to be normal. Struggling against his grip, Lillian watched as the residents seemed to overlook the sight of her being dragged down Main Street. Her own mind struggled to grasp what was happening, just as it had when she witnessed, and later forgot, Kurt and Owen Flynn's desperate drive out of the Cursed town.

As they arrived in the middle of the street, just before the clock tower, he stopped and raised a hand. Head darting around, looking for anyone who could help, Lillian noticed something that alarmed her more than potentially being kidnapped.

The boy didn't have a shadow.

Twisting when she heard Gold cry her name, Lillian caught sight of Regina's horrified expression moments before a loud shrieking filled the air. Gasping when the boy locked arms around her waist and pulled her back flush against his front, she made eye contact with Gold for the last time, unable to hear the words his lips were forming.

"Don't worry, love." The boy whispered against her temple, pressing a gentle kiss to the skin seconds before everything went black. "We're going home.


Almost three decades after he lost her, Gold was convinced the person standing before him was as much a vision as the Belle that had come to him his first night on Neverland. Standing across the small clearing, her expression decidedly wary, was his Lilith.

She stiffened when he approached, and watched him with narrowed blue eyes. "Hello, Rumpelstiltskin."

"Lilith."

"It's Lily." She corrected sharply, arms crossed tightly as if to ward him off. She could no doubt feel the relief the very sight of her brought him and he had an inkling of why it made her so uncomfortable. "Why are you here?"

"To save my family." He returned as evenly as he could; in all his musings since he awoke from the Curse, never did he see their reunion going like this. "To save all of my family."

Her lips twitched. "I'm not your family, Rumple. Not anymore."

"Because of him."

"Yes." She admitted frankly, seeing no reason to deny it. "Because of him. And because of you, and everything that's happened in the last century. I've found my place, Rumple. And it has never been with you or anyone in the Enchanted Forest."

Swallowing at the coldness with which she observed him, he forced back the tears burning the backs of his eyes. "Then when next we meet, it will be as enemies."

A crack appeared, and he saw the sadness reflected in her gaze before she hid it. "It would appear so. Oh, one more thing..." Reaching into her cloak, she produced the small doll he knew he had tossed into the fire. "Pan wanted to make sure you had this."

Disappearing in a swirl of purple smoke, leaving behind the intact doll, Gold watched as his Lilith vanished from his sight again. And just like thirty years ago, he was powerless to stop her. Taking up the toy, he pocketed the damn thing and returned to his campfire, angrily swiping at the tears that dripped down his cheeks despite his best efforts.

Lily was Pan's now, and that made her just another obstacle in his quest to save Henry and his family.


Updated: 7/27/2020

Whew! I started this rewrite ages ago and I'm so relieved it's finally done! I know some of you will probably be disappointed that I returned this to its original oneshot format, but I really think this AU works better like this. I doubt I'll come back and add anymore chapters, so I hope you all like this update of The Stranger!