Author's Notes: My second foray into OUaT fanfiction writing. Simply a short drabble of Emma's thoughts placed sometime after the halfway mark in the third season, but with no specific time frame in mind. Subtle hints of Captain Swan and Outlaw Queen.

Constructive Criticism is always welcomed.

Disclaimer: I have never and probably will never own rights to Once Upon a Time, its stories or their characters. I simply temporarily borrow them for amusement.


Running. Always running.

From her haunted, shadow stained past.

To an unknown and more often than not, bewildering and uncertain future.

Or currently, and perhaps a little less melodramatically, through a god-forsaken jungle. Well, forest.

The Enchanted Forest to be exact. Again.

So really, a little gross exaggeration on her part could be forgiven in a land where all the fairytale stories of old were as real as the pounding of her heart.

A place where magic, creatures and human beings all lived side-by-side, for good or evil – sometimes a mixture of both because you just have to love those gray areas, right? – and all bets were off.

Where the Land Without Magic, or as Emma liked to think the Real World, generally made some semblance of sense. There were rules and reasons and logic.

By contrast, the Enchanted Forest's only rules that it seemed to follow was that magicalways came with a price – always, and that True Love (particularly True Love's Kiss) was the most powerful thing in existence.

And really, where was the logic in any of that?

But to be fair, no one was immune to those rules, not even those from the Real World like her or her son.

Of course, one could argue that Emma had technically been born in the Enchanted Forest, was in fact, a product of True Love in its purest form. And her son, Henry, was the flesh-and-blood representation of a rather whacked out family that included Snow White, Prince Charming, the Evil Queen, the Queen of Hearts, Rumpelstiltskin, Peter Pan, a female pirate and the son of the notorious Dark One.

Try explaining that one to anyone in the Real World and you'd get a one-way ticket to the loony bin. But here? In the Enchanted Forest? Everyone agreed it was a little…unusual but hey, Emma and Henry now had the larger-than-life family they had always wished for, right? Even if a family reunion between all the members would probably end in multiple maiming, a few choice curses and maybe even a death or two…or three.

But that's what therapy was for. Just ask their Dr. Archie Hopper their family shrink, better known in this realm as Jiminy Cricket.

To further complicate the family tree, they had decided to throw in Robin Hood, his son Roland, Belle and Captain Hook, and Emma sometimes wondered how she managed to keep her sanity.

Maybe because she was always too damn busy trying to protect and save said family that her mind never had time to really sit down and think about it.

Both a pro and con (read: saving grace and endless source of irritation) of being "The Savior" she thought with a grimace.

As if her family life wasn't hassle enough (she loved them – most of them – she really did, but oh the headache some days…), she was blessed (read: cursed) with the natural born ability of a powerful magic user. A magic she was still learning to utilize after only recently begrudgingly accepting she even had.

And the downfalls?

Days like this.

Days which had her faced up against seemingly insurmountable odds, and being the Hope (of the capital "H" variety) everyone looked to, to set things to rights again.

Days she rarely got a reprieve from.

But, she reflected, at least she was seldom facing them alone.

That complicated family tree came as a relief on days like these, even when it was one (or several or all) of her family who was responsible for somehow setting these moments into action – accidentally or on purpose, innocently or maliciously, for good, evil or that murky gray area in between.

And one day, when they weren't being chased by ogres, transporting through worlds, seeking revenge or having revenge sought upon them – a peaceful, normal, average, everyday day – she might even thank them for it.

A wistful smile graced her face even as she rolled her eyes in disbelief and exasperation, her every breath burning in her lungs and her legs aching from trying to keep up with her mother as they dodged trees and projectiles.

Who was she kidding?

Normal was relative now.

Peace was found only in those moments sought between the chaos and mayhem.

And never ceasing running.

And really, if she was being honest with herself, as much as she griped and complained or became absolutely fed-up with the entire debacle, she wouldn't trade it for the world. Any of them.

Because those days before now? The excruciating loneliness, echoing silence and endless monotony were not missed.

In this confounding world with its insane laws and rules and her even crazier family, she was – happy. Even if she's rather be chased by an ogre than admit it.

"Run Emma! Faster!" Her mother's frantic calls sounded from up ahead as the ominous sounds of something very large and very angry crashed through the trees behind them. The roar the menacing creature created reverberated through her very bones, all but freezing her very marrow and inciting a fresh wave of energy as fear, adrenaline and her gut-instinct to survive surged through her.

Okay, maybe she wouldn't go that far before admitting it.

She was tired of running after all.

Unless, of course, she was running back to the people and places she called home.