Your Heart Into It
by misscam

Rating: Mature. Some adult activities.

Disclaimer: Not my characters, just my words.

Author's Note: AU. No fairy tales, but magic exists. Based on a prompt asking for Snow as a powerful witch trying to live a normal life when she meets David – and a few other spoiler-y details.

II

Mary Margaret was ten when her mother died. Ten, and barely come into her own power. Barely, the amount of magic she could wield just a fraction of what she would be able to do later. Not powerful enough to protect her mother, if it was even possible to do so when facing Cora's magic.

Cora and Eva, a witches' duel to the death. Dark magic and light magic clashing, and Cora's triumphant smile as her magic ripped into Eva's heart and Mary Margaret screamed.

Eva never screamed. She just turned to Mary Margaret and looked at her with love, so much love.

"You're going to be a great witch," her mother said, smiling through tears. "Just put your heart in it, Snow. For me. Live. Put your heart in it. Love."

"Love is a weakness," Cora hissed. Behind her, young Regina looked on with wide, wide eyes, Mary Margaret remembers. Such wide, terrified eyes.

"No," Eva said softly, closing her eyes. "Love is strength."

The blast of light magic as she died was a brilliant, brilliant light that tore Cora apart.

II

Put your heart in it, Mary Margaret thinks, closing her eyes as she focuses on the spell. She's certainly tried to. Years and years of practicing her magic, mastering it. Years and years of using it to protect, to heal, to help, to bring lights to others. Just like her mother wanted.

She opens her eyes again as the spell finishes, and for a moment, her hands light up. In the darkness, something howls in grief.

"It's time to let go," Mary Margaret says softly, and feels a slight brush of cold air and a sense of... Relief? "Haunt this place no longer."

The light fades. The darkness settles again – but alone this time. Whatever was shrouded in it, is now gone. No more haunting. Just peace, Mary Margaret hopes. Perhaps it's the optimist in her, but she likes to think it's possible to find peace for anyone. Even the not so dearly departed, like the ghost of a murdered girl.

She exhales, supporting herself against the wall for a moment. These kind of spells always leave her feeling drained, and leaves her with a pounding headache in the morning. Whoever would believe being a witch actually comes with the equivalent of a hangover? A magical one, granted, but still. Magic always comes with a price, as her mother would say.

Rubbing her temples, she turns to walk downstairs – and freezes on the top of the stairs as she hears the door downstairs creak open. Someone is entering a famously haunted, abandoned house.

"Hello?" a male voice calls.

Mary Margaret considers her options. She could step forward and try to explain her presence with a lie or two, but she is trying to be a witch incognito in this town. A spell would take too long right now, so perhaps she could just... Sneak out.

Quickly, she tip-toes back into the bedroom. The window gives her view of a tree outside, but when she tries to open it, it won't budge.

"Hello?" the voice calls again, closer this time. "I know you're in here."

Mary Margaret hisses softly under her breath, then feels the window finally, finally give and she practically slams it open. She can hear glass break, but she pays it no heed and simply pulls herself up and then jumps into the tree.

Behind her, someone makes an exclamation. "Hey!"

"Bye!" she declares cheekily before she can help herself, swinging nimbly down from the tree. In the window, she can see a dark shape looking down at her.

"I will find you!" he calls after her, and she chuckles softly at his aggravated tone. Before he can get any ideas about pursuing, she sprints off. The few streetlights illuminates the streets, but the various gardens are pitch dark and she sticks to them until at last, she finds herself at her own front porch.

She breathes heavily as she lets herself in. Merlin, her cat, immediately walks up to her and brushes himself against her feet. It's perhaps a bit too stereotypical to be a witch and have a cat, but Merlin showed up on a front porch one day and demanded to stay, so Mary Margaret simply decided to embrace that part of the stereotype.

"She's at peace now," she tells Merlin, who purrs. "I did it. The witch incognito struck again."

Merlin tilts his head, as if he can detect the slight forlorn tone to her voice. She can't help it. Incognito. That is her, hiding herself from everyone in order to appear normal. There are so few she might possibly trust with the secret of her powers, and she has truly put her heart into becoming the great witch her mother wanted. So, here she is, truly witch incognito. No one ever sees her as she truly is. No one ever finds her.

The knock on her door makes her heart jump, and Merlin lets out a startled meow. For a few moments, they both just stare at the door, Mary Margaret biting her lip nervously. Surely it can't be...

There is another knock, more insistent this time, and she straightens her shoulders and marches over. Whatever it is, she will face it. She is Mary Margaret, a powerful witch in her own right, and she can always make him into a toad if need be.

"I told you I would find you," he declares cheekily the moment she opens the door. The guy from the house has in fact found her. Just her luck.

He has the brightest blue eyes she's ever seen, is her first impression. Handsome, decidedly handsome, is her second impression. Bright blue eyes, short, blond hair, full lips and a strong jaw with a slightly bloodied cut on his chin. A recent cut, she realizes with horror. It must have been the glass in the window she broke.

"You are a girl," he notes as she says nothing, looking her up and down with a certain amount of... Approval?

"Woman," she corrects, sticking her chin out. "Aren't you a real Prince Charming, chasing a woman all the way to her house?"

"Prince Charming. Not normally what people call me," he notes dryly.

"What do people normally call you, Charming?" she replies, trying to keep the blush from her cheeks. She can't remember the last time she actually exchanged something other than polite pleasantries with a guy. Most of the time, she plays her part of demure, withdrawn librarian Mary Margaret to perfection, but this guy makes her want to be... Cheeky. Assertive. Bold.

"Sheriff," he says. Shit. Shit shit shit. He's a sheriff? "Sheriff Nolan, in fact. I'm David Nolan."

David Nolan, she thinks. She did hear they were getting a new sheriff this week. She just didn't think it would matter to her.

"Mary Margaret Blanchard," she says, biting her lip and considering her options. "I... I didn't realize you were the new sheriff."

"This isn't normally how you greet a new sheriff, by setting them up on a merry chase across town?" he asks, a hint of laughter in his voice.

"There's a first for everything," she replies, and he grins. "I... Look, I'm sorry about... All this. I knew I shouldn't have been at that house. I just wanted to leave without creating any trouble."

He regards her curiously. "Why were you there in the first place?"

She thinks fast. "I work at the local library. I... I like ghost stories. The house is rumored to be haunted. I just wanted to... To explore it and see if I saw any ghosts."

"Did you?" he asks.

"I don't think there are any ghosts there now," she says truthfully.

He seems to consider her words as he looks at her, and she has the strangest feeling of being seen, truly seen. It's almost unnerving after so many years of being looked past.

"I see," he says simply.

"I am sorry about running out on you," she offers. "You... You have a cut on your chin."

He touches his chin, looking surprised. "Oh. I didn't realize. Must have been the glass."

"Let me," she offers, hurrying over to the sink and getting a piece of cloth. He watches her as she tip-toes to press it gently against his cut. "I'm so sorry."

"Injured in the line of fire," he jokes. "Maybe I should arrest you for breaking and entering in the pursuit of ghosts and causing a grievous injury to the sheriff."

She glances down to the cuffs on his hip, for a moment visualizing herself being cuffed by him even though she knows he's only joking. It's a strangely erotic image, her in his cuffs, and she bites her lip hard.

"Maybe you could take pity on a first offender?" she offers after a moment, and he looks down at her through lowered eyelids as she removes the cloth gently and peers at his cut. The bleeding has stopped, but it might leave a scar, she supposes. Maybe she can stealthily heal it with magic at some point when he's not looking.

"I could give you community service," he suggests softly. "I'm new in town. You could introduce me and show me what's what."

"Community service," she repeats. Somehow, she knows that if she says no, he won't press the issue. He's not that kind of guy, she already knows. But she rather thinks she wants to spend some time with him. "As you wish, sheriff."

He smiles at that, a brilliant smile that reaches all the way to his blue, blue eyes, and Mary Margaret feels as if she's falling.

II

She does wake with a headache, as expected, and it's not quite abated when she gets to work. Belle greets her merrily, as always looking friendly. There has been plenty of times Mary Margaret has wished they truly could become friends, but she's always held back. She is never sure who she could trust with the secret of being a witch, and so she has come to trust no one with it.

With 5th graders from the local school stopping by, it's a busy morning at work. Belle reads to a group of them while Mary Margaret helps the others find books to read for themselves. She's just dug out the third Roald Dahl book of the day when she gets strange sense of being watched.

Sure enough, when she turns around to give the book to the young boy, she spots David leaning against a shelf, looking at her with a faint smile.

"Hey," she says, as the boy scurries off. "Slow day at work?"

"Yes. Unlike you, it seems," he comments, looking at the crowd of kids.

"We co-operate on a reading project with the local school. A class comes by every week or so," she tells him, and he actually looks genuinely interested. "I think it's important to encourage reading from a young age."

"I agree," he says, gazing at the shelves of books. "My mom used to read to me every night before I fell asleep."

"Mine too," she says, swallowing the lump in her throat. She remembers all too well the soothing sound of her mother's voice reading and lulling her to sleep.

"I guess we have something in common," he says softly, for a moment outright gazing at her. "I was just wondering if you wanted to have lunch."

"I'd love to," she blurts out before even thinking it over, then bites her lip. She's meant to be almost shy, she reminds herself. She's going to give David the impression that she's anything but.

He seems to like it, though, grinning. "I am new in town so I'm afraid I don't know any good lunch places, but perhaps you could recommend one?"

"Will that count as community service?" she jokes, and he chuckles. "I know a very good donut place as well."

"That definitely counts as community service," he replies, and she marvels at just how easy it feels to banter and joke with him. "When would be a good time to pick you up?"

"Give me an hour, Charming," she says, glancing at the crowd of children gathered around Belle.

He nods, giving her one last smile before walking out. She can't help but peek after him, wondering just how she managed to end up with a lunch date with the sheriff.

II

Belle seems to find it equal part astonishing and endearing when Mary Margaret tells her about the date, even encouraging her to make it a long lunch break, a rest of the day lunch break in fact. She claims Mary Margaret has worked enough overtime to earn it, and Mary Margaret begrudgingly accepts after several rounds of protests.

David shows up right on time, in the sheriff's car, briefly introducing himself to Belle before they drive off. She directs him to Granny's, where he ends up ordering burgers and fries and she goes for a sandwich and fries.

"Do you go here often?" he asks, as they wait for the food.

"Occasionally," she replies, which is true enough.

"I hope to go here occasionally too, then," he says, and she is pretty sure he's downright flirting with her. She is also pretty sure she's enjoying it.

"You haven't even tried the food yet," she points out.

"I haven't," he agrees. "But I have tried the company. If the food is anything as good as the company, I may even become a regular."

"You'll break the hearts of all those donuts you could have had at the donut place," she replies a touch cheekily, and he grins.

"They'll understand," he jokes.

"Prince Charming, breaking hearts," she says, mock outrage in her voice. "Not very fairy tale of you."

"On the contrary," he objects, faking mock outrage as well. "Prince Charming is a one-man princess. His heart is meant for his Snow, all other hearts be damned."

Her breath catches, and he notices, tilting his head.

"Sorry, did I say something wrong?"

"No," she hurries to say. He can't know that Snow was what her mother always called her, and she is the one who called him Prince Charming, so him bringing Snow White into it is not a reach, but still... It still makes her breath catch. "Snow, huh?"

"Snow," he says softly, looking at her.

Ruby arrives with their food, giving Mary Margaret a very curious look and David a very approving look, which David doesn't even seem to notice. Men usually notice Ruby quite a lot, but David seems entirely intent on her, Mary Margaret notes.

She tells him a bit about the town as they eat, leaving out the more witch-y aspects. He tells her a bit about his previous work in Boston. It's a pleasant meal, and she finds it oh so easy to talk to him, to joke with him, even to flirt with him.

She even brushes her leg against his a few times.

They're near the end when his phone rings, and excuses himself to answer privately, so she knows it's work. As he leaves, Ruby slides into the booth.

"A date, Mary Margaret?" Ruby asks pointedly. "With new sheriff? How did you manage that?"

"I met him yesterday and he came by work today to ask me out," Mary Margaret says shorty. She knows she has given Ruby every reason to find this odd, but it still rankles slightly to see such obvious disbelief that she, Mary Margaret Blanchard, could be on a date with David Nolan.

"Didn't think you the type," Ruby observes. "Going on a date with the sheriff the day after meeting him? That's bold."

A few weeks ago, Mary Margaret would probably have tried to explain it away. But today, she feels tired of playing this role, oh so tired.

"Maybe I am that type," she says, and Ruby raises an eyebrow and looks at her carefully.

"I hope you are," Ruby says after a moment. "I think I'd like a woman who goes after what she wants. I might even like to be friends with her. Enjoy your date, Mary Margaret."

Huh, Mary Margaret thinks, looking after Ruby. Friends? She's always been so careful about friends, given her secret, but she thinks she would enjoy being friends with Ruby.

"Sorry," David says, sliding back into his spot and smiling at her. "That was Graham – one of my deputies. Perhaps you know him?"

Mary Margaret nods. Graham has been the deputy in this town for years. Everyone expected him to fill the missing sheriff's job and take on a deputy instead, but for some reason, he didn't. His heart didn't seem to be in it.

"I have to head into work, I'm afraid," he goes on, looking genuinely apologetic. "I'm sorry. I really enjoyed lunch."

"I did too," she says, and his eyes light up.

"I'd love to do this again, minus the running out on you part," he says.

"I'd love that too," she says sincerely. He smiles at her, then touches her hand briefly.

"Tomorrow?" he suggests, and she nods.

Tomorrow.

II

They have lunch three days in a row.

They go to an Italian place the first day, sharing a bowl of pasta and easy smiles, and he insists on spoon-feeding her Italian ice cream after. He tells her about the recent loss of his mother, she about the not so recent of hers, and they both understand each other oh so well.

He brings her warm sandwiches at work the second day, and they eat together in the staff room while talking happily about the books they're currently reading and Belle smiles at them all the while.

The third day, he takes her out to the harbor, and they eat hot dogs by the sea and watch sea gulls make a ruckus and pigeons make group coos. He takes her hand as they walk along the seafront, and it feels right, oh so right.

The fourth day, they return to Granny's and Ruby's knowing smirk, but has barely started their meal when David's phone rings. He excuses himself to go outside and answer it, and Mary Margaret watches him through the window, noticing his increasing agitation.

"I'm sorry, I have to go," he says the moment he returns. "It's work. I'm so sorry."

"Oh," Mary Margaret says, noticing that he looks genuinely worried. "Is something wrong?"

"A kid has gone missing," he says with a sigh.

"Oh," she says again, her mind racing. "I understand."

"I'm sorry," he says for the third time.

"Until then?" he asks, and she nods. With another apologetic smile, he hurries off to pay the bill for them both and then leaves.

She watches him drive off before she gets up. A kid missing. It might be David Nolan's job to look into that, but it's also Mary Margaret's.

II

The missing kid is Alexandra, Ella's two-year-old daughter, Mary Margaret finds out through the grapevine. She remembers Alexandra, blue-eyed and innocent and laughing at the drawings in a picture book about rabbits. Such an easy laugh.

Alexandra apparently went missing from the local kindergarten, vanishing just as all the kids were going inside to eat lunch. One moment she was there, another not, and no one knows where she has gone.

Mary Margaret intends to find out.

She takes the time to stop by Ella's, to express her sympathies, but also to quietly steal a small toy that must be Alexandra's while Ella takes a call. She'll need it for a tracking spell, and perhaps for a future protection spell, if need be.

"Let me know if you need anything," she tells Ella sincerely, and Ella looks at her with teary eyes. "I'm sure Alexandra will be found. Have faith."

Ella nods, but not with much vigor. She looks utterly defeated as Mary Margaret takes her leave, and it only strengthens Mary Margaret's resolve.

She hurries home, and spends about an hour getting the tracking spell ready. She has all the ingredients on standby, as it's not the first time she's looked into a missing person case. The last time, little Roland getting lost in the woods, had a happy ending, and she hopes this will as well.

"Wish me luck, Merlin," she tells the cat as she casts the spell, and he meows encouragingly. The toy lights up, and begins to pulse, telling her she was successful. Now she just has to follow where it leads.

It takes her through town, to the other side, pulsing more and more as she drives through narrow streets. Finally, it leads her to a run-down former storage facility that went out of business a few years ago – and a dark van parked outside.

She parks her car around the corner, not wanting to attract attention. She brings her bag of potions as well, in case this isn't foul play, but magical foul play. It wouldn't be the first time, after all.

The storage facility is mostly dark, and her steps feel very loud in the silence. Slowly, quite ready for anything, she makes her way through it. The darkness seems to grow around her, and a sneaking suspicion begins to form in her mind.

"You shouldn't have come," a dull voice says, and she turns around slowly to see an older man looking at her with dull eyes. It takes her a moment to recognize him – Malcolm, who moved here a few months ago. But not just Malcolm. There is something else in his eyes – a lurking darkness.

"Where is Alexandra?" she asks, lifting her chin.

"I took her," Malcolm says dully. "He told me to."

She eyes him carefully, considering her options. Possession? But if so, possession by what? "Who is he, Malcolm?"

"I am," a voice says simply, and even though it's coming out of Malcolm's mouth, it's not his voice. It's an old, old voice, and it makes her hairs stand on end. "You will not take what is mine, witch."

"Alexandra is not yours," she says, stepping forward. In the shadows behind him, she can make out the shape of a girl.

"She owes me her child," the voice hisses. "She promised me anything I wanted if I could help her out of poverty. I did. She married a well-off young man. Now the time has come to collect. The child is mine, and will become mine."

"No," Mary Margaret says firmly. "You took advantage of a desperate girl, and her child is innocent. I won't let you take her."

"You think you can stop me?"

"I know I can stop you."

The laugh is mocking and disbelieving, all at once. "You? A young witch? I've lived for centuries, girl."

"Woman," she corrects, and when Malcolm lunges at her, she sidesteps and throws the stunning potion at his feet. He freezes, and the darkness in his eyes seems to surge. "I will banish you."

"I cannot be banished," the voice says, but Mary Margaret detects a slight annoyance. "There will always be someone I can make mine, young witch. Someone with darkness in their hearts. Malcolm was not the first. He won't be the last."

Her mind races as she digs into her bag, her fingers settling on the right ingredient for the spell she needs. "You're the Dark One. My mother told me about you."

"Then you know fighting me is a war you cannot win," he says, and she swallows. "You mother may have hurt me as she died and kept me away for years, but I am back now. I will always be back. You cannot win this war."

"Maybe," she admits. "But this particular fight – this I will win."

Malcolm screams as the banishment spell lights him up. For a moment, darkness fights the light and she puts all her willpower into it. It hurts, but she clenches her fists and endures it, endures and endures until the shadows howl – and departs.

She staggers, as Malcolm just collapses. He'll be out for a while, she suspects. Behind him, she finds a sleeping Alexandra. Drugged, she suspects. Gently, she lifts the kid into her arms and begins carrying her out. It's slow going with how drained she feels, but she manages to stay on her feet, at least.

Right. She'll drop an anonymous tip to the sheriff's station to let them know about Malcolm, and she'll sneak Alexandra home before the kid wakes up. After all, anything else would raise a lot of questions.

Just as she exists, she almost walks straight into David Nolan, and for a moment she's too stunned to say anything. Oh shit. Oh shit shit shit. That's twice now he's found her.

"Mary Margaret," he says, looking her up and down. "And... Alexandra. You found her?"

"She's fine," Mary Margaret manages to say. The spell has already drained her, and her head seems to thunder with the pain of it, making it even harder to formulate complete sentences. "Malcolm took her. You can find him inside. He's passed out. I didn't... I mean, I just found her."

He stares at her, then blinks. "Look, I know you didn't kidnap Alexandra yourself. You have an ironclad alibi in form of a date with the sheriff at the time of the crime, for one thing."

"Right," she murmurs, biting her lip.

He is still staring at her, as if trying to piece together a puzzle.

"How did you know where to look for her?" she asks desperately, wanting to postpone him asking her that. Maybe that will give her time to come up with a good answer.

"I am a sheriff," he says, putting his hands on his hips. "This van was spotted near the kindergarten, and when I looked up the registration, it turned out to belong to a Malcolm Spinner, who has a bit of a record when it comes to luring teens away. Alexandra seemed a bit young for his tastes, but it seemed to much of a coincidence."

"Good sheriff-ing," she compliments, and he tilts his head.

"A better question is why you are here," he says. "But that can wait. I have an arrest to make, and you have a child to return to her mother."

"Oh no," she protests. "You should do that. I wasn't planning on..."

"On drawing attention to yourself?" he asks, raising an eyebrow. "I get the feeling you've gotten very used to avoiding that."

"I'm no one special," she says, and he shakes his head firmly.

"You're Mary Margaret," he says simply, as if that is special in itself.

II

David arrests Malcolm and lets his deputy handle the processing, then drives her and a still sleeping Alexandra over to Ella's house. Ella is openly crying as they pull into the driveway, and eagerly accepts Alexandra into her arms when Mary Margaret steps out of the car.

"Thank you!" Ella says, and Mary Margaret swallows. She's not used to gratitude directed at her. Watching the joy of reunions from the shadows, yes, and enjoying that, but this is new. She isn't sure how to feel about it all, except exhausted.

"I..." Mary Margaret begins, but she has no idea what to say. She feels herself staggering, and then David's arms supporting her.

"Whoa," he says gently, and she looks up at him. "Hey there."

"Tired," she murmurs, closing her eyes. Her eyelids seem so, so heavy, and her head seems to be swimming. She vaguely feels David lift her into his arms, then ease her into the backseat of his car.

Then she isn't aware of anything but sleep.

II

She sleeps. A few times, she becomes aware of noises – Merlin's purrs, something rustling in the kitchen, the wind tapping at the widow – and sensations – soft hands on her face, strong arms carrying her, a cool cloth against her forehead, but they all feel distant, as if not really happening to her.

She has muddled dreams too, about darkness and shadows and her mother screaming, and she awakes abruptly, feeling her heart pounding in her chest.

She's home, she realizes. Tucked into her bed, with Merlin asleep next to her. It's dark outside, but there is a light on in the living room, she notices. So she wraps herself in a blanket and follows the light. Somehow, she knows it's David before she even sees him, and sure enough, he's sitting in one of her armchairs and reading a book.

He looks up as he notices her, the single light in the room illuminating him and his soft smile.

"Hey," he says.

"Hey," she echoes.

"I wanted to stay until you woke up," he explains, standing up. "I'm sorry if you feel I'm intruding."

"I don't," she breaks in. Somehow, seeing him in her house feels completely right. "Thank you for getting me home."

"I would be a poor Prince Charming if I didn't," he says, and she feels a touch breathless from how he looks at her. "I had the doctor stop by and check on you. He assured me you were only suffering from exhaustion."

"Oh," she says. She can't even remember the doctor stopping by. "You didn't have to do that."

"I had to," he simply says, looking down at his hands. "Are you hungry? I made some soup earlier. It just needs some reheating."

He made soup, she thinks, the thought oh so endearing. He made soup for her. He took her home, had a doctor check on her, and made her soup.

"I'd love some soup," she tells him, tip-toeing to brush a kiss against his cheek and feeling the slight scruff of his jaw as she does. "Thank you."

He swallows, gazing at her intently for a moment. Then he smiles and walks into the kitchen. She watches him as he gets the soup going, wondering how he manages to feel so right in her home and her life.

She is really hungry, she discovers, almost wolfing down the soup and having seconds. He makes her tea too, strong and sweet, and they sit in silence in her kitchen for a few minutes.

"Do you want to tell me how you found Alexandra?" he finally asks. She considers various lies she could tell, but each of them just makes her feel tired. She is tired of hiding.

"I want to," she says quietly. "I'm just... I haven't told anyone about this... This part of my life before."

He simply waits, not pressing her, not saying anything, showing no signs of impatience.

"I help people," she finally says. "Not officially, not like...Not like a sheriff."

"You help people unofficially," he says slowly. "Are you trying to tell me you're secretly a superhero? Because I will believe that, you know. You seem super enough for it."

She laughs slightly; she can't help it. "Charming, Charming."

He grins. "Just trying to live up to the name you so sarcastically granted me."

Doing a good job of it, she thinks, but doesn't say.

"I'm a witch," she blurts out, and waits for him to look shocked and ask how that's even possible. But he doesn't. He just looks at her, nodding slightly. "You're not surprised."

"No," he says calmly. "I knew this town had a witch living in it. I wasn't sure who, but after you found Alexandra, I suspected it might be you."

She stares. He knows about witches. He knows about magic. He knows. How does he know?

"Look," he says, taking her hand. "My mother was a witch. I know how draining spells can be. I grew up around magic. I... I guess I have a sixth sense for it. That's why..."

"Why what?" she asks, and he sighs.

"Why I'm guardian of witches," he says, and her eyes widen. Her mother had a guardian, she remembers; he died. "Before my mother died, she told me she suspected this town had a witch protecting it. A good witch. I thought I might come here and see if I could... discreetly... serve as a guardian as well as the town sheriff."

"I see," she says numbly. "So that's why you were so interested in me."

He looks offended at the very thought, shaking his head vigorously.

"No!" he says hotly. "I was interested in you for you. You ran away from me and I had to find you. You were cheeky with me and I couldn't help but flirt with you. You called me Charming and I wanted you to be my Snow."

She leans across the table and kisses him; she can't help it. His lips feel full and soft against hers, parting slightly in surprise for a moment before pressing against hers. Just for a moment, a tease of a kiss, before he pulls back and stands up.

"I shouldn't do this," he says, more to himself than to her. "I'm a guardian. We're meant to look after witches, to protect you so you can do what you need to. If need be, die for you. Nothing more. Nothing like this."

It makes sense in principle, she knows. Magic takes a lot out of witch, meaning having someone to protect them when they recovers is logical. It makes sense, the rational part of her mind calmly tells her, and she utterly ignores it.

"I don't need protecting," she says darkly. Her mother's guardian died. She won't let this man die. She won't. She's... She has fallen for him, she has to admit to herself, and now that she also knows she can share the witch part of herself with him and that he would understand... She isn't sure she can let him go.

"Need it or not, you are getting it," he shoots back, and she glares at him. "I'm a guardian. It's my duty."

"Is that all I am getting?" she asks, getting to her feet as well. "Your duty? This is it? Now that you know who I am, you become my guardian and stop being... my Charming?"

He closes his eyes, and she can see the battle of conflicting emotions on his face.

"Charming," she says softly, and when he opens his eyes and looks at her, she knows which emotion has won.

He moves at the same time as she does, and they almost crash together in their eagerness to kiss. His arms go around her to press her against his body, and she is vaguely aware of the blanket falling to her feet. She doesn't care. All she cares about is his lips tugging at hers, the heat of his mouth as he deepens the kiss, the brush of his tongue against hers. Like everything else about him, it feels right, oh so right to kiss him, right in a way that seems to reach all the way to her toes.

His eyes are cloudy when she pulls back slightly, and she draws her tongue across her lower lip, feeling how flushed it is.

He shakes his head almost fondly, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear and then running his fingers along the shell of her ear. "Snow."

"My mother used to call me that," she tells him, brushing a light kiss against his lips.

"Oh," he breathes, his hand softly sliding down her neck, his fingers caressing the back of her neck. "Should I stop calling you that?"

"No," she says, giving him a firm kiss that he smiles into. "Call me that. It... It sounds right when you do."

"Snow," he says again, and she kisses him, hard and demanding, tip-toeing to reach until he lifts her up, and the added height gives her a good angle to kiss him deeply, swallowing all of his moans into her mouth. He presses her even harder against him in response, and begins to slowly walk them both out of the kitchen, never letting her go.

She never stops kissing him, not even when he sits down in the armchair, arranging her on his lap. His hands begin to stroke her back, slowly and lovingly, while she lowers her hands to his chest. She can feel his breath, increasingly ragged, and when she slips a hand inside his shirt, she feels his heartbeats racing against her palm.

He breaks the kiss for a moment to draw a few ragged breaths, as she does, before kissing her again, so eagerly it makes her heart skip a beat. He clearly enjoys kissing her a great deal, and she has to admit the feeling is oh so mutual. Kissing him is wonderful, breathtakingly wonderful – though this has probably moved more into making out by now.

She isn't sure how long they make out for, but she feels thoroughly, thoroughly kissed by the time he pulls back to rest his forehead against hers. She traces his bottom lip with her thumb, feeling the faint moisture of the kissing clinging to it.

"Well," he says, his voice hoarse. "Mary Margaret, I... I promise I won't fight whatever this thing between us is, but please... Please let me be your guardian as well."

He's a protector, she thinks, closing her eyes for a moment. He's like her. He can't help himself. If he can protect people, he will. If he can save people, he will. He doesn't just want to – he needs to. It's a part of him. She understands that need oh so well.

She's spent most of her life living that, being that, and only that.

"Okay," she agrees, and he exhales. "I'll let you be my guardian. But you won't be just that."

"I won't be just that," he agrees, and kisses her tenderly and lovingly; a kiss as a caress.

II

In the morning, she wakes to find David already gone, but with a note telling her lunch date is still on, and a bouquet of flowers from the garden on her nightstand. He's even made her breakfast ready to go in the kitchen, and fed Merlin.

One day soon, she is going to wake up with him still here, she thinks to herself, and smiles at the thought. He did spend a fair amount of the night making out with her, after all, and only stopped to insist it was late and she needed sleep. In-between all the kissing, they just talked, and she told him what she was really doing the night they met, how she really found Alexandra, and Malcolm being possessed by some greater evil that she chased away for now.

It felt just as good as the kissing somehow, letting someone into her life. Showing him who she truly is, and it seemed to make him even happier to kiss her.

She walks into work smiling, and Belle gives her a very, very pointed look that makes Mary Margaret blush. She buries herself in stacks of new books that needs registration before being added to the shelves, but she's not even halfway through when she has a visitor.

Ella and Alexandra, the latter asleep in a stroller.

"I didn't get to thank you properly yesterday," Ella says, taking her hands. "I can't thank you enough, actually."

Mary Margaret swallows. "David would have found her if I hadn't."

"But you disarmed Malcolm and made sure Alexandra came to no harm," Ella says insistently. "David came by this morning and told me."

"Oh," Mary Margaret says. She supposes it's close enough to the truth. "I'm glad I was able to help."

Ella hugs her, and Mary Margaret swallows a lump in her throat.

"I was so afraid," Ella murmurs. "I felt like it was my fault. Like she was taken from me because I didn't deserve her. I've... I've had so many good things happening to me the last few years I thought... I thought... This was the price I had to pay."

"You're not paying that price," Mary Margaret says gently, and Ella makes a soft sob.

"I'm afraid it will happen again," Ella admits after a moment, her eyes downcast.

"It won't," Mary Margaret tells her; a promise.

II

She is putting books onto shelves when she suddenly feels a soft hand slip around her waist, and feels a kiss against her neck.

"Hey," David murmurs against her skin.

"Hey," she agrees, closing her eyes as he continues his trek of kisses along her neck. "This is practically indecent, sheriff."

"Good thing no one is around to arrest me," he says, and she can't help but giggle softly.

"What?" he murmurs, pressing a kiss against her ear.

"That night we met, when you joked about arresting me, I... I imagined being cuffed by you," she admits, tilting her head to look at him and seeing that he looks utterly delighted.

"Did you?" he says, his voice husky. "Mary Margaret Blanchard, the very well-behaved librarian, being cuffed by the sheriff? That's practically indecent."

"Mmm," she says, feeling her cheeks blazing.

He smirks, and she can practically see him store the knowledge away for later use, a rather thrilling thought, actually. She turns around, tip-toeing to give him a proper kiss and he hums happily at that.

"I've come to steal you away for a lunch date," he declares.

"Actually..." she begins, and he looks curiously at her. She takes his hand and leads him into the nearby staff room, where they won't be overheard. "Maybe we could take a rain-check on that lunch date and you could help me do something?"

"Anything," he says warmly. "Is it secret witch business?"

"Incognito witch," she corrects. "That's what I used to call myself."

"You need a better alias than that," he says, furrowing his brow. "You are not incognito, Mary Margaret."

"I was until you came along," she replies, and before he can argue any further, she kisses him. "Now, are you going to help me gather the ingredients to cast a protection spell, or not?"

II

Of course he is. He spends the afternoon getting an object of Ella's, claiming it's needed for the evidence against Malcolm, a set of keys belonging to Malcolm, and retrieving Ella's toy from the evidence locker. And so, after work, they make their way over to Ella's house together.

Ella is still out, but Graham, who has been keeping guard outside, lets them into the house readily enough.

Right. Mary Margaret swallows and steadies herself, knowing this will cost her.

"This isn't just a normal protection spell, is it?" David asks.

"No," Mary Margaret says. "I don't know much about this Dark One, but I do know he's powerful. It has to be a powerful protection spell to keep him and any of his agents away from Alexandra and Ella."

"It will drain you," he says, looking at her softly. "Especially after the spell you did yesterday."

"It will," she agrees. "I'm not sure how much."

"I'll look after you," he promises, lifting her hand to press a kiss against her knuckles.

"As my guardian?"

"As your guardian, as your sheriff and as your Charming," he corrects, smiling at her. "Cast your spell, Snow."

She does. She focuses on the three objects, and the people they belong to – Alexandra, Ella and Malcolm, and thus also the Dark One. Slowly, she weaves her magic into a shield, protecting two of them from the third. She pours all her will into it, strengthening it until she she has nothing left.

Then, only then, does she complete it, making it a spell that springs into life in a brilliant burst of light. Protection. Strong enough to keep even the Dark One at bay, she hopes. Certainly as strong as she can make it.

She feels David's arms support her as she almost doubles over, and a soft kiss against her temple. Gently, he leads her back outside, letting her lean on him all the way and getting very odd looks from Graham. She's barely aware of it, or of the drive over to her place. Her head seems to be pulsing with dull pain, overwhelming everything else.

He insists on carrying her into the house, and she's too tired to argue. Gently, she feels herself being lifted, carried and then gently lowered into bed.

"You need sleep," he murmurs.

She nods. She does. "Be here when I wake up?"

"I promise," he says, kissing her forehead, a lingering kiss that she falls asleep to.

II

She sleeps. She awakes a few times, once to the smell of soup that is then gently fed to her before she drifts off again, another from a muddled nightmare to find him in bed with her, holding her and kissing away the nightmare, and finally to Merlin poking her nose with a paw repeatedly.

"Hey," she murmurs sleepily. "David didn't feed you?"

"David did feed him," David says, and she looks up to see him leaning against the frame of the door. "I think Merlin just wants to make sure his mommy is okay."

"Mommy is okay," she tells Merlin, bopping his nose. He gives her a pointed look, then jumps out of the bed and walks off, tail held high. "Is it late?"

"Closer to early," he says, and she sits up as he gives her a soft kiss. "It will be morning in a couple of hours. How are you feeling?"

"Better," she says.

"You could call in sick for work," he says, looking at her as if he doesn't quite believe it.

She shakes her head. "It's Saturday. Belle and I alternate Saturdays, and it's my day off. And of course, we're closed on Sundays."

He nods. "I have to head into work to check on a few things in the afternoon, but I have the rest of the weekend off, pending emergencies."

"Are you asking me out on a weekend date, David Nolan?" she asks, standing up.

"Not necessarily out," he says, his gaze hot as he regards her. "I was thinking... a weekend date... mostly in..."

"In bed?" she suggests, her voice strangely husky even to her own ears.

"In bed," he replies, as she steps closer. "Or... In the shower. In the kitchen. In the armchair. Wherever you want, Mary Margaret."

"All of those," she says firmly, and kisses him.

II

They start with in bed.

Kissing David felt right from the very first time she did it. Sleeping with him is no different, as it turns out.

It feels right to have his hands undressing her greedily, and roaming her skin as he exposes it. It feels right to kiss the smooth skin of his chest as he undresses, and trace the lines of his hips and buttocks with her palms. It feels right to be kissed until she's moaning his name, and to feel his fingers caressing her breasts until her nipples harden. It feels right to stroke his cock, hard and straining into her hands, and to feel his fingers brushing into her to make her whimper.

It feels right, all of it, but most of all when he pushes into her, slowly and steadily, inch by inch, groaning at the pleasure of it. His eyes are bright, oh so bright when he holds still for a moment and regards her, his cock hard and thick and deep inside her.

She can only imagine what she looks like to him, naked underneath him, skin flushed, lips parted, fingers dug into the sheets, hair a mess from trashing against the pillow when he used his fingers on her, but he seems to find it utterly arousing, judging by the look in his eyes.

She certainly finds watching him arousing, though not as arousing as his hard, deep thrusts that slowly pick up in pace. His cheeks are flushed, and his lashes dark every time he closes his eyes at the pleasure of buying himself in her. She tries to keep her eyes open, to watch him so lost to pleasure, but it becomes increasingly hard as her own pleasure mounts too. When he makes several quick thrusts and rubs a few fingers against her too, she closes her eyes and arches upwards, orgasm claiming all her senses in a deluge of pleasure.

She manages to force her eyelids open enough to watch him a few moments later, gasping her name as his hips jerk. He looks wonderful, lips parted and eyes closed, an expression on his face that is all the more beautiful for knowing she caused it.

They lie still for a good while afterwards, steadying their breathing, and she feels an odd combination of satisfied and yet wanting more. Much more. She thinks she might want him for the rest of her life.

They end up in the shower later, warm water soaking them as they kiss and kiss, and soon she finds herself pressed against the shower wall, his mouth hot on her neck, his erection growing hard against her back.

Oh, she thinks. He does want more as well. He wants more already, and she almost feels like Mary Margaret, secret vixen in addition to secret witch.

A vixen getting fucked by her sheriff in the shower, as he thrusts into her and she steadies herself against the shower wall. His thrusts are quick, hurried, soon making her pant. The pants become whimpers he dips his hand between her legs and rubs circles with his thumb, and then a breathless cry of his name as they both come, hard and fast.

They dry up together, having quite a bit of fun with towels and each other before he wraps her up in a sheet and directs her to sit still while he makes them both an early breakfast. She rather enjoys the meal, and then he rather enjoys making a meal out of her on the kitchen table too, making her come apart against his mouth.

He looks very pleased with himself afterwards, and she lets him, rather enjoying his small smirks and enjoying kissing them off him even more.

They curl up in her armchair afterwards, since she doesn't have a couch, her in his lap and Merlin in hers, and talk about anything that comes to mind. It's a rather wonderful way to spend an early Saturday morning, she finds, and wants more like it.

"I like this," she tells him as Merlin purrs, as if agreeing. "All of this, not just the mind-blowing sex."

"I do too," David says softly, then smirks. "Including the mind-blowing sex."

She's about to formulate a reply when there is a knock on the door, three knock on the door in fact. David instantly tenses, looking every inch protective, and follows her without a word as she goes to open.

For a moment, Mary Margaret doesn't recognize the woman on the other side of the door, with dark hair, dark eyes and a rather dark expression. Then she notices the lip scar, and her eyes widen.

"Regina?" she asks.

"Hello, Mary Margaret," Regina says, and Mary Margaret feels paralyzed for a moment. Regina. Cora's daughter. She's here. Why? "And you are...?"

"I'm David," David says, sounding as protective as he looks. "I'm Mary Margaret's..."

"I see what you're Mary Margaret's," Regina says, raising an eyebrow.

"Why are you here, Regina?" Mary Margaret manages to say. She watches Regina's eyes, noticing the slight shadows. Not the overwhelming darkness of Cora's eyes, no, not yet. But definitely shadows.

"You've annoyed someone, Mary Margaret," Regina says curtly. "Or should I say something. Something that knew my mother very well."

The Dark One, Mary Margaret thinks. Acting through Cora? Or just encouraging her to act out her own darkness? Now encouraging Regina to do the same?

"You know this... something?" Mary Margaret asks carefully.

"I'm acquainted," Regina says shortly, and Mary Margaret closes her eyes for a moment. Oh, Regina. Regina saved her life once, when they were both young, before they knew who each other's mother was.

After Cora died, Regina seemed to almost blame Mary Margaret on some level. She withdrew, and moved away with relatives, and that seemed to be the end of that. Until today.

"Our mothers killed each other," Mary Margaret says, opening her eyes and regarding Regina calmly. "Would you like us to do the same? Is that why you're here?"

David makes a small hiss, and he puts a hand on hers, a protective gesture that Regina doesn't miss, Mary Margaret notes.

"I'm here to tell you that you've annoyed something," Regina says. "What happens next is up to you."

With that, she turns around.

"Regina?" Mary Margaret calls after her. "What happens next is up to you, too. There is always a choice."

Regina regards her for a moment, then walks off, her high heels clicking loudly against the pavement as Mary Margaret watches her go.

"Was that a threat or a warning?" David asks in a low voice.

"I'm not sure," Mary Margaret murmurs. "Maybe Regina isn't sure herself."

"I'm sure of one thing," he says darkly, staring after her. "I won't let her harm you."

"David..." she begins.

"Not up for debate," he says, and she looks up at him to see his jaw set. "I know you're not going to be threatened or warned away from helping people, and I won't be talked out of protecting you."

She closes her eyes and leans against his chest, feeling equal amounts of love for him and fear of losing him. It was easier before she met him, since she would only be risking herself. So much easier – and so much emptier.

So she's not going to try to talk him out of it. But if he thinks she will not protect him as well, he has another thing coming.

II

Later, he makes her tea and she tells him all about Regina and Cora, not quite able to keep old grief out of her voice. He touches her her softly, small comforting caresses, but never interrupts. He just waits, patiently, until she's put it all into words and is all out of words.

He is silent for a while as well, considering her words, looking at her with a warm gaze.

"Why didn't Regina attack you here, if she truly is working with the Dark One?" he finally asks.

"He won't attack me at home. My mother died here, protecting me, and it makes for a protection spell not even the Dark One can break," she says, and he nods slowly. "Love is strength when it comes to magic too."

"You want to save Regina as well, don't you?" he asks, and she can't help but smile softly. Oh, how well he sees her. "Not everyone can be saved, Mary Margaret."

"No, but everyone deserves a chance to be," she counters, and he takes her hand.

"My mother would have agreed with that," he says oh so softly. "My father did not."

"And you're not sure," she says, watching his face intently.

"I tried to save my twin brother," he says, voice filled with old grief, and she knows that feeling so very well. "I couldn't. He was not a very good man, Mary Margaret. He hurt people. He died hurting people."

"You're not him," she tells him firmly. "I know you're not. You may have shared blood, but you didn't share hearts."

He closes his eyes as she leans forward and kisses his eyelids, hoping he'll one day see himself as she sees him.

II

David takes some persuading to leave her to head into work, but he eventually begrudgingly accepts the need to. She assures him she'll be fine, that she has recovered enough to protect herself with magic if need be.

She doesn't assure him she'll stay at home, as that would be a blatant lie, and she would rather not lie to him.

The moment he drives off, she gets her bag of potions and ingredients and heads off herself. She leaves a note in case he returns before her, though she hopes not.

She stops by Ella's first, making sure her protection spell is still holding. It is, but it feels as if someone has been testing it. Regina, she wonders, or someone else?

Next up is Granny's, and Ruby smiles warmly at her as she enters.

"No hot sheriff with you today, MM?" she teases. "Did you leave him handcuffed to your bed? Or is that more his style?"

"Ruby!" she protests, and Ruby just laughs. "He's at work."

"Pity," Ruby says, still smiling. "Are you here for food or more of my shockingly frank chats?"

"Actually, I was hoping for a favor," she says, and Ruby tilts her head. "You know practically everything that goes on in this town."

"Pretty much," Ruby agrees with a shrug. "People talk to me."

"Regina Mills is in town," Mary Margaret says carefully, and Ruby raises an eyebrow. "I'd like to know what she's up to."

"You're asking me to spy for you?" Ruby asks, looking at her curiously.

"Keep an eye on," Mary Margaret says. It sounds better than spying, she reckons.. "But yes."

Ruby looks at her for another moment, then nods. "Okay."

"You're not going to ask me why? You're just going to do it?"

"Yes."

"Not that I'm not grateful," Mary Margaret says, and Ruby chuckles. "But why?"

"Because you asked me to," Ruby says simply.

Huh, Mary Margaret thinks. Trust. She didn't really expect to simply be trusted. She had a convincing fake reason all ready to go, and she won't even need it.

She thanks Ruby before heading off again, mentally preparing herself for the next stop. It will involve actually telling someone the truth about herself, and she's not sure this one will go as smoothly as with David.

Belle looks up as she enters, giving her a smile. "Mary Margaret! I didn't expect you in today."

"I'm here on what you might call unofficial business," Mary Margaret says, and Belle looks at her curiously. "Could I talk to you privately?"

II

She isn't sure how many minutes she spends telling Belle everything, but Belle's eyes seem to grow wider and wider as Mary Margaret reveals the truth about her magic, her secret witch activities, the threat of the Dark One and even about David's involvement in her life.

At the end of it, she uses her magic to lift a few books, just to make sure Belle doesn't think her delusional, and Belle gasps audibly.

She doesn't say anything for a while, and Mary Margaret just lets her process it at her own speed. It's a lot to take in at once, she's sure

"Well," Belle eventually says, looking at her. "That... That does explain a lot of things. I always had a feeling there was more to you."

"You were right," Mary Margaret says. "I... I wanted to tell you so many times, but I was afraid to."

"We all have our secrets," Belle says, and there is a hint of something forlorn in her voice. "Why did you decide to finally tell me?"

"Because I'll need your help," Mary Margaret says, and tells her how.

II

Of course she gets home to see David's sheriff car already parked there, and she sighs. Of course she wasn't planning on keeping this from him. She had just hoped to delay it for as long as possible, because he won't like it.

He's brought her flowers, she notices as she enters. White and red roses placed on her living room table. Oh.

"David?" she asks softly. He isn't in the kitchen, but a disapproving Merlin is, meowing irritably. She feeds him, then walks into her bedroom to find David sitting on her bed.

"Hey," she says nervously. He doesn't reply, simply stands up, walking up to her. He feels very tall as he gazes down at her.

"I went out," she says, swallowing.

"Of course you did," he says. He doesn't sound angry, oddly enough. "I expected you to. You, Mary Margaret Blanchard, are many, many things, but passive is not one of them."

She bites her lip. He has her pegged there, she has to admit. "You're not mad?"

"I reserve the right to be once you tell me whatever you got planned," he says calmly, pulling her to him and trapping her hands behind her back. "If it involves danger to you, that is. But right now..."

"Right now?" she asks, feeling a flutter in her stomach.

"Right now I have other plans," he says, teasing her lips with several soft kisses and she feels the cold steel of his cuffs around her wrists. Oh. Oh. "Indecent plans."

Very indecent, as it turns out; cuffing her to the headboard and kissing and stroking every inch of her until every inch of her feels like pleasure, and then thrusting into her with hard, deep strokes that seems to keep her teetering on the edge of an orgasm forever before he lets her fall.

She gets her own, though, with his cuffs; cuffing him sitting to the headboard and licking him and the riding him to shuddering orgasms that leaves him whimpering her name in an extremely flattering manner.

Indecent plans are fun plans, she decides, and plans to make a lot of them in the future.

II

Later, much later, she rests in his arms as he kisses her shoulder almost leisurely. She feels sated and a little sore, and marvels a little at how much her life has changed in only a week.

"David?" she murmurs, and he pauses his kissing to look at her. "I'm glad you saw me that night."

"So am I," he says, touching the cut on his chin. It's beginning to scar, she realizes. With all that has been going on, she has forgotten about healing it.

"I could heal that for you," she offers, and he shakes his head.

"I like it," he says, and she presses a kiss against it. "A permanent reminder of how I met Mary Margaret, witch extraordinaire."

"Witch incognito," she corrects.

"No," he simply says, kissing her before she can protest, and kissing her well enough that she forgets all about protesting when he's done.

He is smiling when he pulls back, drawing his thumb across her lips. "I asked Graham to keep an eye on Regina Mills."

"I asked Ruby to do the same," she admits, and he seems slightly amused. "I also told Belle the truth. I know I can trust her with it."

He nods slowly. "I don't know her as well as you do, but I think so too. What made you decide to tell her?"

She swallows. "Because my plan is to booby trap the library with spells and make the Dark One attack me there, through Regina or someone else."

"You're making yourself bait?" he asks, sounding just as displeased with the notion as she imagined he would be.

"Yes," she says. "Not up for debate, Charming. I won't be talked out of it. If I don't confront him, he'll use people to cause pain. He's spent centuries doing it."

He looks torn, and she imagines he feels a bit like she did at his similar declaration earlier.

"I know you won't," he finally says, sounding defeated. "You want to save everyone. You care about everyone. You're stubborn and assertive and aren't afraid of danger. You're impossible, and I love you more than I thought possible."

"What?" she says, feeling her breath catch.

"I love you," he says again, his eyes seeming to light up as he looks at her. "Snow. I love you."

He does, she knows. She can feel it in how he holds her, hear it in how he says her name, see it in how he looks at her. He does love her.

He's not the only one in love, she also knows.

"I love you," she tells him, and his smile is all happiness. "You saw me, Charming. You really saw me and loved me for all I am. I could love you for that alone, but you're also kind, protective, caring, stubborn, patient, brave and occasionally quite indecent. I love you more than anything."

He kisses her happily, lovingly; and she lets herself be lost in that love while the darkness waits outside.

II

They spend the Sunday like a lull in a storm.

They talk, they discuss her plan together, they read together, they make love as the whim (and desire) takes them, they play with Merlin, they make breakfast and lunch and dinner together, they dance slowly together to songs on the radio.

They are together, knowing that after tomorrow, they might not be again.

II

Monday comes.

Mary Margaret goes to work like she would if it was a normal day, pretending to be surprised when Belle calls in sick. All as planned.

But the attack, when it comes, isn't Regina. It's Graham.

II

She looks up as Graham enters, giving him a faint smile. "Did David send you to check on me?"

"No," Graham says dully. "I don't want to do this, Mary Margaret."

A dawning suspicion begins to take hold, and she swallows. Not Graham. Oh no. Not Graham.

"You don't have to do this, Graham," she tells him, and he shakes his head sadly.

"I have no choice," he tells her, stepping closer and closer. Just one more step – and he goes completely still, frozen in place. Trapped, just as planned, only it was meant to be Regina she trapped.

Graham watches her as she walks up to him. There is no darkness is his eyes, but there is no life either.

"Who took your heart?" she asks him, feeling a wave of sympathy. Perhaps she should have seen this earlier, but she never had much to do with Graham. He always kept at a distance. Perhaps this is why.

"Cora," he says, looking pained. "She left it to..."

"Regina," Mary Margaret says, whipping around, and sure enough, Regina is standing there. Not just Regina, though, Regina and guest.

"Did you really think I wouldn't expect a trap?" the Dark One asks, and his voice coming out of Regina's body makes Mary Margaret's heart ache. "Graham is just a pawn. Just like Malcolm. Trap as many of them as you want. It won't destroy me."

"You're right," she says, then smiles. "I didn't really think you wouldn't expect a trap. So I made two."

"Hey!" David says merrily, stepping into the light and throwing the potion. It lands at Regina's feet with a burst of purple mist, stunning her.

Mary Margaret has already readied her spell, directing it at Regina. A banishing spell, just like with Malcolm. She will save Regina too. She will save Graham. She will save everyone.

"No!" the Dark One growls.

"Yes," Mary Margaret says happily. "I will banish you. You will not harm this town."

The Dark One laughs then, an unnerving chuckle. "Fool. Fool of a girl. You're not the only one who can create traps. This one... Is mine."

Regina screams, magic shooting out of her like dark arrows, tearing through the books. Destructive magic. More and more destructive magic. Regina as a booby trap, Mary Margaret thinks with a sinking heart.

"I will have her tear this city apart," the Dark One hisses. "You're a powerful witch, girl, but you cannot protect the town and banish me at the same time. You don't have the power for that. Do one, and you'll have drained all your magic."

Her mind races, and she exchanges a glance with David. "You'll just tear this town apart afterwards if I don't banish you."

"Oh no," he cackles. "I will make you a deal. Protect your little town now, and I will leave it alone for a couple of centuries. I won't harm a single living soul here – except one. Your rudeness has a price, girl. The price is him."

David, she thinks numbly. Oh, David.

"So which is it?" the Dark One goes on. "The town, or the boy you love? You can only save one!"

"No," David says hotly before Mary Margaret can say anything, stepping up to face Regina "I won't let you force that choice on her."

The Dark One giggles, and Mary Margaret has no time to react before Regina shoves her hand into David's chest, yanking out his heart.

"Tempting," the Dark One says, and Mary Margaret wants to scream. "But it would be even more fun to make you a little pet of mine too."

"Never," David swears.

"They all say that at first," the Dark One says, and Regina bares her teeth as if she remembers. "That's the fun of it. This one took me so many years, but she is mine now. You'll be mine. Just listen to the darkness, boy."

"I don't..." David begins, faltering.

"You do. You have darkness in you too," the Dark One says, and David winces. "Just like your brother. He was mine, in the end. Did he tell you that?"

"David," Mary Margaret pleads, and he stares at her desperately, his blue eyes seeming muted and haunted. "Charming."

As the name registers, a haze seems to lift from his eyes and he smiles at her, oh so lovingly.

"You're right about one thing," he tells the Dark One, looking at Mary Margaret all the while. "I do have darkness in me, just like my brother did. But unlike him, I won't act on it. I never have. I'm not giving my heart to darkness. I've already given it to her."

"Then you'll die," the Dark One says angrily, but David doesn't even seem to listen. He is smiling at Mary Margaret, a sad, accepting smile.

"My heart is yours," David says, and she feels the tears streaming down her face. "It always will be. I love you, Mary Margaret. My Snow."

She can only watch as the Dark One, as Regina, tears into his chest and crushes his heart. He doesn't make a noise at all, simply collapses, and Regina stumbles.

The pain of seeing him fall is sharp, cutting, nearly making Mary Margaret stagger, but she stays on her feet. She can't give in now. For David. For this town. For herself.

"Regina!" she calls, and the shadows hiss. "It's not too late."

"After what she just did to your love – you want to save her?" the Dark One mocks. "She doesn't deserve to be saved."

"She deserves a chance to save herself," Mary Margaret says. "Regina. Let him go."

"Mother wouldn't have wanted me to," Regina says, sounding like herself, but only barely. Her face twitches as she fights to stay in control. "Mother didn't want me to care about anyone. Mother told me love is a weakness. Mother..."

"You're not Cora," Mary Margaret says, and Regina looks at her with wide, wide eyes. "I am not Eva. I've tried so hard to be what I thought she wanted, but that didn't make me happy. This won't make you happy. We're not our mothers. We're Regina and Mary Margaret. Regina, what do you want?"

"To be just Regina," Regina says, closing her eyes. Mary Margaret can only watch as she falls to her knees, and then the shadow seeps out of her, taking shape.

The Dark One, and he's pissed. At her, Mary Margaret knows, and steadies herself.

The Dark One comes at her, hissing, but she simply smiles as he crashes into her – and bounces off, howling. She feels the light become stronger inside her, dancing at her fingertips. Magic, strong magic, the strongest there is. Magic fueled by love.

"Love is strength," she tells him, not caring that she is crying. "You forgot that, didn't you? David just died for me. David just saved me, and now I can give everyone the chance to save themselves from you."

The Dark One screams, an inhuman sound that strangely becomes more and more human as her light tears into him, ripping him into mist, scattering the pieces of him on the wind. It won't kill him, she knows. Not for good. But he will be torn asunder and weakened, unable to directly take shape. He'll be whispers, not screams, and people will be able to simply not listen to him.

A choice.

When the spells leaves her, reality hits her. David. David, David, David. She almost limps over to where he collapsed, his body so very still.

"I'm so sorry," Regina offers weakly.

Mary Margaret barely hears her. She puts her hand on his chest, and feels only stillness and silence. No faint heartbeats against her palm, no rise and fall as he breathes. No heart, no life. No David.

"No," she says quietly. "No."

She can feel the power of her magic still inside her, rising and filling her, dancing at her fingertips. Love is strength, her mother told her as she died. Love is strength, and Mary Margaret loves David more than anything.

He has her heart, she thinks, and imagines it. Bit by bit, he's claimed her heart. Now, it belongs to them both. A shared heart, and the magic roars into him with a wave of light. For a moment, nothing happens. Then his eyes fly open and he makes a stuttering inhale.

"David," she murmurs lovingly, smiling down at him. She can feel his heartbeats pick up against her palm. Her heartbeats, beating for them both. Her heart, but his too, as it was from the moment he found her and saw her, truly saw her.

"What...?" he whispers, his eyes wide in shock. "Mary Margaret. What... I... I'm alive?"

"Yes," she tells him, feeling his hands move to her back. "David. You're alive."

"But my heart...?" he asks, looking utterly, adorably confused.

"I gave you mine," she tells him, and he stares at her for a moment longer before kissing her passionately, desperately, and with so much love she feels lost in it.

II

Afterwards, there are a few things to sort out.

They close up the library as a crime scene, telling Leroy and other passers-by that an act of vandalism has occurred and is being investigated.

Belle bemoans all the torn books, seeming to consider that destruction the greatest crime of any Dark One ever, but is slightly soothed by the promise of getting new ones. She decides to stock a few occult books too, insisting that she wants to help with secret witch projects by being a researcher.

Graham gets his heart back from Regina, and looks more alive than Mary Margaret can ever remember seeing him. They take him to Granny's, and Ruby immediately decides he needs some looking after with a few stiff drinks.

Regina quietly slips away afterwards, and Mary Margaret hopes that wherever she goes, she finds herself as something more than Cora's daughter.

David seems to pick up on what she is thinking, taking her hand and looking at her in that way he does, truly seeing her.

She smiles at him, a tired smile. Doing so much magic in one day has left her tired, but not as much as she expected. Perhaps opening herself up to love has strengthened her magic too.

"You're exhausted. You should go home," he says, and she closes her eyes at the sound of that. Home. Bed. Sleep. All good things, but she'd like to make them wonderful, and that requires sharing them with him.

"Only if you come with me," she says.

"Of course," he promises, and she opens her eyes to see him smile at her. "I'll stay as long as you want, Mary Margaret."

II

It's almost sunrise when Mary Margaret slips out of bed. David is still sleeping, and she brushes a soft kiss against his forehead before she walks out into her back garden.

Merlin follows, seeming to find great joy in attacking a few strands of grass moving in the wind. She watches him for a few moments before turning her attention to the horizon. The first rays of sun are already breaking, and she knows it will be a bright, bright day.

It feels like a new beginning. Oh, there will be new dangers, new threats, people to save and a town to protect. But she won't be doing it alone anymore, and she won't be doing it unseen. Belle now knows, and Mary Margaret thinks she might tell Ruby at some point too.

And of course David knows. David. She almost lost him, but he is still here, still with her. She knows that the price of the magic she used to save him will be that if one dies, the other will too. That's the price of a shared heart, but she is prepared to pay it.

"Hey," David murmurs, slipping a hand around her waist. "You're up early."

"Mmm," she agrees. "Don't expect me to make a habit of it."

He chuckles. "I won't. But I may make a habit out of waking you up in all sort of indecent ways."

She chuckles this time, leaning backwards against him. "I'd love that. But I must warn you, I may still retaliate in all manner of indecent ways."

"I'd love that," he says huskily, and they both laugh softly. It feels good to have a partner in all things, Mary Margaret thinks. It feels good to be with him. It feels good to love wholeheartedly with no reservation.

Wholeheartedly. Hmm.

"I've realized something about my mother," she says, looking at the light of the rising sun. It is so, so bright, just like her mother was.

"Okay," he says, and simply waits, not showing any signs of impatience. She loves that about him, that and so many other things.

"When she died, She told me to put my heart into it," she says softly, and David presses a soft kiss against her ear. "I thought she meant into my powers, but she meant more than that. She meant into life too. She meant into you, to..."

"Into me?" David asks, his voice filled with mirth. "Literally putting your heart into me? Like you did?"

She turns around, smacking his chest. "You know what I mean."

His eyes sparkle as he kisses her lovingly, lips slightly parted, and her toes curl. As always, his kisses feel magical, and she's utterly, utterly bewitched.

"I know," he murmurs into the kiss, brushing his nose against hers before pulling away slightly to look at her. "She meant in life and love too, not just in terms of your magic. She wanted you to truly live, not just survive. She wanted you to love without restraint – to truly put your heart into it."

"Yes," she says, exhaling. He tucks a strand of hair behind her ear, looking at her with bright eyes filled with so much love. Oh, how he loves. Oh, how he's shown her just how much she can love. "I understand that now. More than understand. Charming?"

"Yes, Snow," he says, pressing a kiss against her nose.

"Stay with me," she says, and he grins at her. "Forever."

"Yes, Snow," he says again, and she kisses him – truly putting her heart into it, in fact.

II

FIN