A/N: Thank you, KleopatraVII, phantom's love, and ArdeaSpark for your reviews on Complications and to everyone who had followed, favorited, and PMed me about this series.
Chapter 1: Everything Will be All Right
Bae landed in the jungle with a jolt, his right foot hitting a root and sending him tumbling. Neverland. He had never wanted to see this place again, Shadow or no Shadow. But there hadn't been any choice, and this time, at least, he knew his father would come for him.
He just had to stay alive until then. The magical bow he'd been carrying appeared to have vanished, but he reached into the pockets of his jeans and found his Swiss army knife (his first - and only - significant expenditure with his allowance money), his wallet, and his house key. The key was useless now, the door it belonged to now winked out of existence, but the bit of pipe attached to it was tangible proof that his father had changed, that he was willing to give up his power. Bae smiled and put it back in his pocket.
I wonder if Ariel was sent back here? He could use an ally, especially if he was going to convince the rest of the Lost Boys that rescue was on its way. He listened to the ocean, trying to get his bearings. It wasn't an easy task in Neverland, especially at night.
Night. It was night. You always knew when it was 'night' in Neverland, even if the sun never rose. It was when the veneer of Pan's games peeled away and you could feel the true danger of the island. Daytime was like being in a fog. Bae's mind was clear, and yet something still felt different. He was halfway to the nearest beach before he realized what it was.
The cries. No one is crying.
He smiled again and picked up the pace. As he reached the beach, he saw something he had never thought he'd see in Neverland. Sunrise. It wasn't quite there yet, but the sky had lightened, and the horizon was glowing. Bae stared, grinning. As the very edge of the yellow sun peeked over the endless ocean, he began to laugh.
Rumplestiltskin landed hard, nearly crashing into Belle. In the pre-dawn light, he saw that she was wearing the golden ball gown she'd come to his castle with, the one he'd lovingly resorted after Regina had told him that she was dead (it had gotten rather worn and dingy from her attempting to do chores in it).
"Sorry!" he said, reaching out to steady her. His hands were once again covered with greenish-gold scales, his fingers tipped with wicked, black claws. She smiled at him anyway.
"I'm all right," she said.
The crowd that had gathered at the town line were all standing around them, also in Enchanted Forest garb. The only one missing was Bae. They turned when they heard a familiar, chilling roar and the snap and crash of something enormous charging towards them through heavy brush.
All Rumplestiltskin wanted was to find Bae (perhaps murder the idiots who had caused this, had they not already been dead), but Belle jumped and grabbed his arm, looking at him pleadingly. "Rumple, can you?"
Well, it was one way to work off his temper. "I can. Stay here."
He pushed through the crowd and stalked towards the advancing ogres. "You're in my way, dearies," he hissed. He lifted his hands, and, one by one, he lit the ogres aflame.
The screams were deafening, and he began to laugh. "RUMPLE!" Regina shouted from just behind him. He looked at her quizzically. Her hands were already wreathed in flames, and she gave him a steely glare. "Leave some for me."
He grinned and immediately stepped back. Regina could handle the rest, and he had places to be. "All yours, dearie!" He returned to Belle, sweeping her away to the Dark Castle just as the last ogre was engulfed in Regina's fireball.
Regina was panting hard (no easy feat in the restrictive dress she was wearing) as the last ogre fell. She'd wanted to destroy something, and as satisfying as it was to reduce half a dozen ogres to ash, she was now only left with gaping emptiness in her heart, knowing that she would never see Henry again.
"Holy shit," Booth said from behind her. She glanced back at the so-called 'heroes'. The puppet was pale and wide-eyed in the light of the dying flames, and he continued, "That was… wow. Holy shit… um, thank you?"
The rest of them were a bit more restrained. If Regina didn't know better, she might even say they were looking at her with respect. Snow even smiled. "Yes. Thank you, Regina."
She glared. "Don't mention it," she said flatly.
"So what now?" the dwarf asked. Regina wondered that herself. What the hell do I do now?
"Now we start to rebuild," Snow said, and Regina rolled her eyes.
"Um, maybe we should figure out where people are first?" Booth asked, looking around.
A practical suggestion from one of Snow's Council? Maybe hell has frozen over after all. It was the only explanation she had for why she simply didn't leave them there and retreat to her own castle alone. What the hell am I doing?
"It's almost dawn," Charming said, looking up at the sky. "We'll be able to start searching then. If I knew the date here, I could guess where we are from the stars."
"It was August eighth back home," the puppet said. "But it's not summer here." He was right; the air was chilled, and there was frost on the ground. He rubbed his arms to warm them.
"It was spring when the curse was cast," Snow said.
"That's right. It was the beginning of Twelfthmonth, and it was December sixth when we arrived on Earth. This could be mid Eigthmonth weather. Strange that the calendar should match up instead of the seasons. Maybe I'll ask Gold about it when they get back from Neverland," the puppet speculated, obviously taking great pains to not look at the still-burning ogre corpses.
"It doesn't matter," Regina said. "We're never going back." She gathered her feathered cloak around her and started walking; she didn't even know where.
"Regina, wait!" Snow called, jogging after her.
"What?" Regina asked peevishly.
"Come with us."
"What? You can't be serious."
"Regina, everyone out there is scared and confused. They need hope. What better way to do that than return united? Come with us. I know you don't like it; you'll learn to. For our good. For yours."
"For the chance to barbecue more ogres," Booth said, his tone dry but his expression hopeful.
Regina laughed despite herself. "Where are you even going? Your castle was destroyed by the curse." The group exchanged looks.
"Was yours?" the dwarf asked. "Because, if I remember right, it was Snow's first."
Regina pursed her lips. I should have kept my mouth shut. "To be fair, I married into it. And yes, of course I protected it."
Snow smiled. "Then we're taking it back. You'll see, Regina, this is the way to heal our kingdom."
Regina arched an eyebrow. So it's 'our' kingdom now? But, in truth, Regina just didn't care; Snow could have the damn castle. Regina was only interested in finding a way to put herself out of this misery. "Fine, then." Snow smiled in the beatific way that made Regina want to vomit (a feeling that was not helped in the slightest by the fact that Booth appeared to have succumbed in the smell of charred ogre flesh and was now throwing up in the bushes). Regina looked at Charming, who was still examining the sky. "Any idea where we are?"
"Well, the ogres combined with the stars has me thinking that we're in Phillip and Aurora's kingdom, perhaps a day's ride from your castle."
"Excellent!" Snow said. "They can help us!"
How the hell Snow could sound so optimistic when she'd also just said goodbye to her child forever was something Regina would never understand. And she didn't want to.
"Rumple!" Belle objected when they appeared in the great hall of the Dark Castle, "You didn't let me tell them where we are going!"
"I'm certain that they know where we are going," he said, not even looking at her. He was searching for something in the debris strewn about the room. It seemed that not even the Dark Castle had been spared damage from the curse.
"There could be more ogres back there!"
"Regina can handle them; she was in the mood to kill something. There!" He bent, retrieving a roughhewn staff that had leaned against the wall behind his wheel for as long as Belle had served him (and, she was certain, for many years before that).
He finally looked at her, his golden eyes pleading, "Belle, he's in Neverland."
What is it about Neverland that frightens him so? "But the Shadow is destroyed; you said yourself that Pan would lose his power when that happened."
"But how quickly and how completely, I do not know. And Pan is not the only danger there. I'll destroy as many ogres as you like, after I rescue him."
"We," Belle said, taking a step towards him. "After we rescue him."
He opened his mouth as if you protest, when a familiar voice called to them, "Halt! Who - Dark One?" Robin Hood stepped out of the shadows, lowering the arrow he'd notched.
"What the hell are you doing in my castle?" Rumple snapped.
"Forgive me. We were sheltering here while you were… away. I will gather my men and leave."
"See that you do. And don't take with you anything you may have… picked up," Rumple said nastily.
"Rumple," Belle admonished, "You can be more polite than that."
"To thieves squatting in my castle? Get out!" he said, waving his hand at Robin dismissively. "Shoo!"
Belle huffed, but Robin only bowed and smiled. Belle supposed that after the reception he'd received last time, a 'shoo' was hardly objectionable. Almost endearing, really. She smiled wryly and ran to the thief, "Robin, wait!"
"How is your child?"
Robin gave her a startled look, then smiled softly, and she knew that Rumple was listening closely as he rummaged through the hidden cabinet he had opened. "Roland is four now, and a fine lad. Marian would be very proud."
Belle frowned. "Would be…"
"An outlaw's life is a dangerous one," he said sadly, "But she saw Roland born, and that was her greatest wish. Thank you, Belle, and I thank your master for sparing me. And for that, I think I should be thanking you as well."
"You're very welcome, but he's not my master; not any longer. And as for sparing you… that wasn't me." She glanced back at her love, and saw him gazing into a crystal ball, his expression as soft as Robin's when he spoke about Roland. "He's a father too."
"He is?" Robin asked in disbelief. "It's not…" He gestured at her.
"Mine?" Belle asked with small laugh. "No. Baelfire is a wonderful boy, but he's not mine." Although, someday, she'd like him to be. But they had to get him back first. "He's been sent to Neverland; we're off to rescue him."
"Neverland? That place is more dangerous than anywhere in the Enchanted Forest, Milady-"
"It's just Belle, Robin," she said, "And I will have the very best protection."
Robin chuckled. "I suppose so."
"Where will you go now?"
"I am not sure; I think it will depend on the ogres. We can take one or two well enough, but we're hardly an army."
Belle smiled again. "You may not need one. Rumple has agreed to defeat them again after we return with Baelfire."
"That is good news indeed; you see, I told you that I should thank you."
Belle smiled slyly. "Perhaps you'd like to thank me by delivering a message to Queen Snow and Price Davi- er, James?"
"They have returned as well?" he asked hopefully.
"Oh, yes; I should have explained - the curse has been undone. Everyone has returned. Please, Robin, will you let them know that we will help them after we return from Neverland?"
Robin took her hand and kissed it. "As you wish, Milady. Do you know where I can find them?"
She looked over at Rumple. "Rumple!"
He looked up from his crystal ball. "What is he still doing here?" he asked petulantly.
"He'll be going as soon as you can tell me where he can find the others; he's agreed to deliver a message for me."
Rumple wrinkled his nose in consternation, but answered, "They are a day's ride or so southwest from Regina's castle."
"I know it," Robin said. Belle shivered; she knew it too. "It's one of the few structures still standing. In addition to, well…" he gestured to the walls around them, battered, but quite sound. "I will deliver your message, Belle. And thank you."
"No thanks necessary; good luck to you, Robin."
"And to you." He bowed and left.
Rumple didn't even acknowledge him; he merely stared into his crystal ball. Belle lifted her skirts so they wouldn't catch on any of the flotsam scattered over the floor and returned to him. "Can you see him?" she asked.
Rumple nodded. "He's in Neverland. But he seems all right. For now." He held out the ball to her, showing her Baelfire's image. He was smiling as he emerged from a tropical jungle onto a beach. He leaned against a tree, eagerly gazing at something in the distance. After a minute or two, he began to laugh.
"You see," Belle said, "I told you that he would be all right."
Rumple smiled and caressed the ball as if he could communicate with Bae that way. "Yes."
"So how will we travel there? Is there a spell or…?"
"You're quite certain about coming?" he asked.
"Of course!" She placed a hand on his arm. "I care about him too, you know. And you know I've always wanted adventure," she added teasingly.
He smiled almost shyly. "If you're sure." He took a step back. "Well, you can't very well manage in Neverland dressed like that." He waved his hand with a flourish, and Belle's golden gown was replaced with a fitted, knee-length tunic over a soft but sturdy shirt in sky blue, doeskin trousers, and boots. A sapphire traveling cloak, warm but not too heavy, covered her shoulders. Each garment was elaborately embroidered in such a way that bespoke its value and quality without undermining its practicality. Her first thought was that such decoration was foolish, certain to attract thieves and conmen eager to take advantage of a wealthy traveler, but then she realized that he was marking her, declaring to anyone who saw them that she was his and under his protection.
He extended his hand to her, and a traveling pack appeared in it; it too, was embroidered, and likely full of only the best quality supplies. His eyes pleaded for some indication of approval, and she took the pack, standing on her toes to kiss him on the cheek. "Thank you. What about you?"
He was wearing one of his exotic leather vests over a silk shirt, but no manner of coat or cloak at all. He smirked and waved another hand, only adding his reddish dragon-hide coat and Robin's enchanted bow and quiver. Bae had been wearing it during the confrontation with Owen, but it had obviously returned to the Dark Castle when the curse was reversed.
"Now, they'll be an extra leg to this journey, sweetheart," Rumple said. "I don't actually possess a direct portal to Neverland. But I do have one to a land that has what we need."
"And what land is that?"
His smiled faded, and he took her hand "Wonderland."
Ariel wasn't here. But with the new sun shining on his face, Bae did not despair. He turned back around and headed towards Tink's place. He spotted a mango tree and decided that he could do with some breakfast - as long as it wasn't coconuts, bananas, or fish (the three staples of Neverland, and three things he never wanted to taste again). He was halfway up the tree when he heard movement in the jungle below him. He froze.
"We're almost there," a Lost Boy said; Bae recognized the voice as Curly's.
It was the responding voice that nearly made him lose his grip on the tree. "Good. I'm still not used to all this running about." Wendy? It couldn't be.
It was. She was even wearing her nightgown; the one he remembered from London, even if she'd taken the practical steps of tearing it off at the knee, tying a pirate's sash around her waist (to tuck a knife into), and wearing trousers and boots underneath. She also had a crudely sewn bag slung over one shoulder. She looked up, and spotted him immediately. Her mouth dropped open. "Baelfire?"
"Woah," Curly said.
"Wendy…" Bae murmured, "How are you here?"
She gave him a watery smile. "I came to rescue you."
"You…?" He scuttled down off the tree, landing with a thud. "You… you've been here all this time?"
She nodded. "Pan caught me. He's been using me to blackmail my brothers. Oh, Bae…" She ran to and embraced him. Bae just stood there, stunned. She pulled back, still smiling, and brushed at his hair. "Bae. Bae, are you all right? Curly said that you were taken by a curse. And you're dressed so strangely..."
"I… I was. Regina's curse. She had to reverse it, and I got sent back… do you know where Pan is now? Has he lost his power?"
She grinned. "Yes, and yes. How did you know?"
"Because we destroyed his Shadow."
"You did?" she laughed. "We wondered… You must tell me everything that has happened. We're trying to find a way off the island, to get back to our families. The ones that are still living anyway." She tugged at his hand.
"What about the mangoes?" Curly asked.
Bae looked back at the tree. "I'll… I'll get them."
"All right." Wendy handed him her bag. "We'll have good news and treats; that's the best way to return to camp."
Bae nodded, taking the bag, and shimmying back up the tree. "Where is Pan?" he asked, "Are you sure he's lost his power?"
Wendy nodded. "Very sure; he turned back into a man. We're keeping him in one of the cages."
"A man… Papa said he was a man, once."
Wendy frowned. "Your father? Your father knew Pan?"
"He did. He does; he'll be coming for us soon. All of us, he promised me."
"I thought you father was dead."
Oh, right. Bae grimaced. "I thought he was, in a way. I thought he'd been… consumed by the magic. I was wrong. He was searching for me this whole time." Bae didn't want to explain just what, exactly, his father had done in order to find him. Over the past few months, it had become easier to not think about the fact that Storybrooke was a cursed town. Bae had trouble forgiving himself for that, even though Archie had said that he needed to. He wondered what he would find when they returned to the Enchanted Forest. Devastation? Would the buildings still be intact? What about the ogres?
"That's… that's amazing, Bae! And he's coming for us? How? Magic?"
"Ah… that's the thing. My father… is the Dark One."
Curly gasped. "The Dark One? Bae…"
"What is that? Is it a title?" Wendy asked.
"Yes. And a curse. But he's learned to control it now. And when he's rescued everyone, he will be able to break it." Although that would be even more dangerous in the Enchanted Forest than in Storybrooke. And would it change anything? Magic would still be a part of their lives. Was there truly no way to return to Earth? That was where Bae had been happiest, and would be the safest place for his father - and for everyone else.
And it was Wendy's home. Or had been, a hundred years ago. Bae gathered the mangoes as he tried to think of how to phrase this. By the time he climbed down, all he had was, "Wendy… there's something you should know."
"Yes?" she asked hopefully.
"It's… been a very long time on Earth since Pan took us."
"I know," she said. "Over a hundred years. Pan used magic to keep John and Michael alive, if that's what you're worried about."
Bae sighed in relief. "Yes, it was." Now, if only they had a way back. Regina had said no beans, but there had to be other ways. And if there were, his father would find them. "Is everyone back at camp?" he asked. "How about Tinker Bell?"
"She went looking for pixie dust. She thought if she found enough of it, one of us might be able to fly out of here and get help. I had some, but it wasn't enough."
Bae smiled. "Help is coming, Wendy, I promise."
"Oh!" Wonderland was beautiful. And silly. "The daffodils are singing!" Belle exclaimed.
"Yes, they do that," Rumple said, unimpressed. He pulled out his crystal ball and looked into it. "Good! Jefferson is home."
"Jefferson… of course he would be sent back here. We're taking him with us, aren't we? Grace must be worried."
"It's up to him. If he cashes in his favor for use of my mirror, I can't stop him, but I'm hoping he'll take my deal instead."
He smiled mysteriously. "You'll see."
Jefferson's house was unsettling. It appeared whimsical at first glance, but the endless cavern of hats spoke of desperation and obsession. And Jefferson himself was frantic. "Dark One!" he shouted when he spotted Rumple, "She did… what did she do? The Queen, the Queen… Evil Queen, Queen of Hearts? She burned my hat! She stole it! Where's my Grace? You have to make it work!" he picked up a random hat and shoved it at Rumple. "Make it work!"
"Jefferson," Rumple said calmly, "I have a way back-"
"Yes! Yes, you do! You owe me a favor! Make it work!"
"Jefferson, do you remember me?" Belle asked. Grace had brought her father into the library a couple of times since it had opened, and they had a couple of interesting, if scatterbrained, conversations. Her heart broke for the man now; Regina and Cora obviously done more damage than she had realized.
"The librarian," he said, blinking at her. "You were there… ding, dong, the Queen of Hearts is dead."
"Yes," Rumple said, "Which is why I think you can help me-"
"Me help you? No, no - you owe me a favor, and the Dark One never breaks a deal!"
"That's true. And you can cash it in and take my portal, and search for Grace yourself in the mass of refugees, or you can accept my offer, and I will lead you right to her, with enough gold that you will never have to scrounge in the forest for mushrooms again."
He blinked. "What do you want? Cora burned my hat; I can't make any of them work!"
"I'm aware, and the rules of the hat wouldn't suit my purpose anyway. What I need is for you to introduce me to the White Rabbit; I need a portal to Neverland."
"Neverland! Madness! He'll never do it."
"The Shadow has been destroyed; Pan has lost his power. It's less dangerous than this place, now. And I pay well, Jefferson; you know that."
"And if I say no?"
"Then you're free to exchange your favor for the use of my portal, and I'll find the Rabbit myself."
"He won't do business with you."
Rumple smiled wickedly. "I will convince him regardless, but I do think your endorsement will facilitate things quite a bit. I'm in a hurry, you see."
Jefferson frowned, then looked around, as if just realizing, "Where is Baelfire? In Neverland?"
Rumple's expression softened. "He is. So you understand the urgency, yes?"
"Yes. Urgency. How long, if I take your deal?"
"For as long as it takes to gather the Lost Boys. Not long, I should think, less than a day. You won't be able to find Grace yourself in that short of a time."
"Grace," Jefferson said tearfully, staring at the hat in his hands.
Rumple frowned. He pulled out his orb again. "Here, see for yourself. She is unharmed." An image of Grace appeared, dry-eyed, but looking around for someone.
Jefferson reached out to the ball, but stopped short of touching it. "Grace." He looked up at Rumple. "Less than a day?"
"Depending on the cooperation of the Rabbit and the Lost Boys, yes."
Jefferson drew his hand back and smiled madly. "Then they will cooperate."
"Hail!" Snow, David, and their friends hadn't made it far out of the clearing before they were hailed by a small contingent on horseback. At their head was a knight, followed by a warrior in exotic armor, and several others who appeared to be armed with whatever they could salvage. Snow waved, eager to show their good intentions.
The lead horse stopped before her, and the knight pulled off his helmet. He had dark hair and a handsome face. "I am Prince Phillip; how is it that you have come to my kingdom?"
"Phillip!" Snow greeted excitedly. "I'm Snow White; it's wonderful to meet you at last!"
"Snow White?" he asked cautiously. She ginned and nodded. "What was the last communication you had with Aurora?" he asked, his tone serious. It was a test, but a simple one.
"When she spoke to Henry and warned us about Cora," she replied easily, "And thank you; we could not have defeated her without her help."
"Really?" Regina scoffed, "How, exactly, did her little warning help? You lot didn't do anything; it was Rumple's kid. And 'defeated' is such a nice euphemism; the word is 'dead'."
Snow sighed, "Regina…"
Phillip, who had dismounted, immediately drew his sword. "Regina? The Evil Queen?"
Snow immediately stepped between them. "Former Evil Queen."
Leroy snorted. "Since when?" he muttered. Regina glared at him.
"Grumpy," Snow scolded, "You will show Regina respect. She saved us all from Owen's curse."
"Including herself," he pointed out.
Regina grit her teeth, but August spoke first. "Can we just… not piss off the woman who can incinerate ogres?" he asked nervously. Of all of them, he was clearly the most out of his element. Snow supposed it made sense; unlike the rest of them, he'd be a child the last time he'd been in the Enchanted Forest.
Phillip gave Regina a surprised look. "You destroyed the ogres?"
"Yeah," August said, "Well, it was a joint effort: her and the Dark One. But the ogres are dead. Very, very dead. And thank you, again, for that."
Regina waved him off. "Whatever."
"Then we owe you a debt," Phillip said. "We have some horses, supplies…"
"How clear is the road between here and my castle?" she asked.
"Passable, provided you're not averse to disposing of any ogres that attack you as you did with these."
She shrugged. "All right, then."
"We're going to need supplies," Snow said, "Everyone who was taken by the curse will be returning, and winter seems to have just begun."
"Yes, it has. Come speak with Aurora," Phillip said, "She has been overseeing the rebuilding, while Mulan and I tackled the ogres."
"Mulan," Snow said, glancing towards the exotically armored warrior behind Phillip. Both Aurora and Belle had spoken of her.
"Oh, yes, I have been remiss," Phillip said. "Allow me to introduce Fa Mulan, my second in command." Mulan, who had also dismounted, removed her helmet and gave them a stern but respectful nod.
Just then, they heard movement in the trees. Phillip, Mulan, and their warriors drew their weapons, and Regina readied a fireball, but whatever it was, it was far too small to be an ogre.
It was Grumpy's brothers. "Grumpy!"
"Queen Sn-Sn-achoo! Snow!"
"It's wonderful to see you all," she said. "Have you seen anyone else?" Bashful shook his head. "Well, come along, Prince Phillip is taking us to speak with Princess Aurora about supplies for the journey to Regina's castle."
"Regina's castle?" Doc asked. "Why not yours?"
"It's rubble," Regina said flatly.
"Sadly, that is true," Phillip said. "The E- Queen's castle is one of the few structures still intact."
"Well…" Doc gave Regina a nervous look but said, "We trust you, Snow."
"Excellent," Phillip said. "Our camp is not far from here, even on foot."
The walk back to the camp was indeed not long, but they gathered refugees as they went, which slowed them some. They'd amassed quite a sizable crowd by the time they reached the sharpened tree trunks that Phillip's men had placed around what remained of his family's castle. Most of the building itself was unsound, but Phillip explained that they had erected tents in the courtyard, using the castle's stone walls for what protection they could offer (and sent in a few brave souls inside to retrieve weapons and any other useful things that had not been taken by the curse).
Aurora had come to greet them, flanked by several members of their camp, when August suddenly shouted, "Nova! Run!" Snow followed his gaze, and saw the distinctive light of the Blue Fairy, surrounded by several of her followers.
Grumpy grabbed for Nova, and pulled her behind him. "Stay back," he said, "She's not getting your wings."
"Yes," Snow agreed, "Stay here, let me speak to her." The crowd looked on in confusion. "Blue!" Snow called, stepping forward. It was difficult to face someone who had betrayed her and her family so completely - more difficult, even, then facing Regina at her worst - but Snow would never give up hope that people could change for the better. Regina have been given a myriad of chances and, after many years, finally begun to turn herself around; Snow could not deny Blue the same opportunity. But that didn't mean that she would forget how dangerous she was, either. "State your business," she said firmly.
"My business is with Nova," Blue said. "Before I return to rebuild the fairies' home, I must take her wings."
"Like hell you will!" Grumpy shouted, pushing Nova further behind him.
"May I ask what is going on?" Phillip said.
Blue ignored them both. "The negotiation for Nova to keep her wings only applied to Storybrooke," Blue told Snow, "A fallen fairy cannot be allowed to keep her wings in the Enchanted Forest; it jeopardizes the balance of our magic."
"Bullshit!" August called. "Nova, get out of here," he said much more quietly.
Nova's frightened expression became suddenly calm. "No, I… I won't run," she said. "She'll just catch me anyway," she added, smiling ruefully. She stepped around Grumpy, towards Blue.
"Nova, what are you doing?" Grumpy asked, grabbing for her.
"What I have to," she said. "Let me do what I have to, Dreamy. Please."
She stepped toward him and touched her forehead to his. "I know what I'm doing. Trust me, please? She's going to take them anyway; let everyone here see it, so they know what she's willing to do." He sighed. "Please?"
He sighed again. "I trust you," he said finally.
She kissed him. "It will be all right; you'll see." She turned around, and he followed.
When she glanced back at him, he said, "I said I trust you; didn't say I'd let you do this alone." She smiled, and continued on.
Snow tried one last plea, "Blue, you don't have to do this. Nova is a good fairy!"
"So was Sunspark," August muttered. "And Tinker Bell." Regina sneered.
"I'm afraid that I do have to do this," Blue said.
"No, you don't," Nova said clearly, so the rest of the crowd could hear. "But you will. Because I love someone. Because I have friends, and you don't allow that."
"You knew the price when you left us," Blue said.
"I did. And it's a fair price, to be free of a tyrant. To be with people who love me."
Blue frowned, but said nothing. She waved her wand, and Nova fell to her knees, gasping. Her pink dress quickly faded to a dull brown, and while her wings had not been visible in her larger form, there was undoubtedly something missing now.
"Nova!" Grumpy dropped to his knees next to her and wrapped his arms around her.
"It is done," Blue said.
"Yeah!" Grumpy shouted. "Well, so am I! You want someone to mine your diamonds? Find someone else!"
"Me too," Bashful said, as loudly as he was able, tossing his axe on the ground. With only slight hesitation, the rest of their brothers followed suit. Snow looked at the crowd. They looked confused; many looked appalled.
Snow was appalled. "Reul Ghorm!" she said. Blue turned towards her, and while it was difficult to see her face, Snow imagined that her expression was reproachful.
"Yes, my child?"
"I am no longer your child," she announced. "I hereby renounce your association with my family, and officially offer sanctuary in my kingdom to any fairy or dwarf who leaves your order."
"Snow, you cannot mean-"
"I do. By royal proclamation, you are no longer welcome in my kingdom."
Nova had made it to her feet, and was brushing away a stray tear. Her wand was still in her hand, the amber just as bright as before. Snow walked over, and put her hand on her shoulder, never breaking eye contact with Blue. Her message was clear.
"Very well," Blue said. "Although this saddens me, I will respect your wishes."
"Well, that would be a first," August said, crossing his arms.
Blue sent him a sharp glare before lifting off into the sky, her other fairies following behind her. One, a yellow fairy with a riot of dark curls, seemed to hesitate, watching Nova for a moment before slowly trailing after the rest.
"What will we do without the fairies?" someone in the crowd called out.
"What do you mean?" August asked. "We've got a fairy."
"That's right," Snow said. "A great fairy. The only fairy that faced Cora with us, and Owen, who was attempting to destroy us all with a second Dark Curse." The crowd started whispering. "I declare that Nova is a Hero of the Realm, and a member of my Council and Royal Guard. If you accept," she asked, looking at her friend.
"I do," she said, her mouth smiling, and her eyes wet.
Grumpy cheered, followed by their friends, and then the crowd. Nova turned to Grumpy and kissed him fiercely.