This is co-written with a very dear friend of mine and we have the entire first season written. We are working on the next season now. And I'm very proud of this. This is a slow burn- very slow. And two different OCs.
I know that we keep rewriting this, but I promise this is the last time! And We are very proud of this and how it turned out. Also, as to my other stories, I am sorry to say that they are on hold as I cannot open the files right now, but updates are coming! I am so sorry! I've been dealing with what I now know are mental illnesses and are having them properly treated. This should help with updates and the like.
Again, very sorry for the reupdate, but I think you'll like how it turned out!
Everyone was gathered for the exchanging of the vows taking place before them. The little gazebo styled stage in the center of the room allowed all to see the royalty in all their dramatic finery. Snow White and Prince David, as they would be known to all in the kingdom. Their joining was a story for the ages, one of intrigue and magic and love and promises.
How fitting it would be that they would allow everyone into the room. Even, a small yellow cat that sat above all in the windowsill of the stained glass. Unnoticed by all but one. A rather dark shadowed man shrouded in as much mystery as the cat behind him.
As the priest got to the exchanging of the vows, the man gave a happy little sigh as he cast his stormy gaze upon the cat behind everyone, tail flicking in time to the words as her gaze focused on the scene before them. Suppose I wasn't the only one feeling the pull of the story today. The man thought as he turned back to face the entertainment for the day.
Just in time for the new prince to say, "I do."
Wouldn't it be interesting if, for once, they said I don't?
"And do you, Snow White, promise to take this man to be your husband?" The priest asked, turning to the woman dressed in the shape of a feathery bell glittered with diamonds. "And love him for all eternity?"
There was no hesitation as she smiled her words, "I do."
The man rolled his eyes, holding in a huff. This story is at its end. Why would I be drawn here?
"I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may-"
The two started to kiss even before the sentence was finished, but before their eyes could close, the doors smashed open.
There, in the entryway, ruining the perfect ending moment with a sinister smile, was a woman with lighted eyes and seductive air, drunk on the power she wielded and the confidence she held as she declared, "Sorry I'm late." She flung away two guards who'd gathered the courage to charge at her with arms spread wide. Her gait altered with a bit of magic so that she crossed the room a little faster than she should have. "I seem to have misplaced my invitation."
People panicked, whispers building to shouting and fear and tension charged the room. "It's the Queen, run!" One of the dwarves cried out, breaking the spell of frozen feet.
However, before people could flood the doors in a mass exodus, the royal couple halted them with a shout. "No!" Snow drew the Prince's ornamental sword, pointing the dulled tip at the newcomer, "She's not the Queen anymore. She's nothing more than an evil witch."
This caused hesitation among the crowd as they shifted and swayed with hearts pounding and eager feet and curious ears. All wanted to know the outcome of the new events. The man tried to stifle a laugh at the turn of the blade. What does she plan to do with that? He wondered as the bride glared at the interruption before her.
The only one looking as nonchalant as before the ruckus started, was the cat in the window. The yellow one, still unnoticed, her tail flicking as though to count down the seconds as the crowd murmured and waited with bated breath. No one would know the conflicted feelings welling within the cat- though no one really knew that a cat could feel conflicted about anything- as her pupils darted between the battle ready Regina and the just barely married couple on the stage. Despite the rather lanky man offset before her, shaking to contain his own hysterics.
It was curious to know just what the princess might do with a decorative sword…. Against magic.
The cat's ears flickered as the queen paced, taking in the terror and the power she held. Easily taking away the comfort that the royalty exuded as she grinned. The woman her mother shaped her to be. For, even though it was by marriage, the woman standing in the center of it all, was Queen.
The happiness of the day for the prince and his princess…. And that of the Queen come to ruin it all. There would be no one to know that the ticking of the cat's tail was not to count down the seconds nor to bat away the anxiety within her, but merely to quell her own heart from beating out a rhythm against her ribs… In excitement.
She watched as David reached out to steady his new wife's hand as it gripped the sword. "No, no, no." He soothed, never taking his eyes off of the woman in black before them. "There's no need to dirty your hands. It's our wedding day." He chided softly, trying to keep his beloved from doing something she would come to regret.
Snow White let him take control of the sword, the fiery personality quickly dwindling to the likeness of a match within his embrace, just waiting to be tossed in the direction of proper kindling.
To the queen at the other end of the sword, he called out, "You're wasting your time. You've already lost, and I will not let you ruin this wedding."
And though his tone, his posture, the sword in his hands, left no room for argument, that was exactly what Regina did. Her smile growing ever more malicious.
"Oh, I haven't come here to ruin anything." She assured, turning to the crowd, who'd wisely chosen to keep their distance.
"On the contrary, Dear, I've come to give you a gift."
Curiosity and confusion quickly replaced the tone in the room.
"We want nothing from you." Snow White denied.
"But you shall have it!" Regina insisted, turning sharply with a glare before the smile quickly returned. "My gift to you is this happy happy day." She spat, turning back to the crowd, a gleam in her eyes. "But tomorrow, my real work begins. You've made your vows, now I make mine." She turned back to the couple, risen above all the rest, but despite the vantage point, it was clear who was holding the power now, and she knew it. Her smile grew to place once more, reaching her eyes for the first time in a long time, hollow as they were. "Soon, everything you love, everything all of you love, will be taken from you. Forever. And out of your suffering, will rise my victory. I shall destroy your happiness. If it's the last thing I do."
The announcement over, Regina turned to exit the ceremony, leaving everyone in a panic once more. However, the match that had been left to burn had been thrown. The kindling caught at the allusions of her plans. But it was not Snow's match.
"Hey!" David called, making her turn.
The sword. That ornamental sword with golden hilt and a blunted blade was hurled through the air like a javelin towards her face. The Evil Queen simply smiled as purple smoke enveloped her entire being as she dissipated, taking the sword with her.
So, that was what they did when the sword was meant for ornament rather than battle.
"Hey Dina." I call out from the top of the clock tower above the library.
"What?" She calls back from down the stairs.
"I need you to come up here for a moment." I yell back. It isn't exactly far. The Mayor has the library locked up so I usually have to use a maintenance hatch on the roof.
I hear an exhausted sigh and a small, if bitter, chuckle from her charge. I watch as she come through the hatch and up to the clock face where I stand, my finger on a spring. "What do you want?"
"I need you to hold this spring in place while I take care of something." I tell her as I move her finger in place of mine. "You need to keep the pressure on it steady or it might throw the whole clock out of place."
"What?!" She asks, shocked, as I bolt down the stairs grabbing a bag by the hatch way as I do so.
I step from the hatch and see the small 10 year old boy the mayor had adopted sitting with his back to the up lifted edge. The kid's been in a mood for a while now, and while I had thought to wait until his next birthday to give him his present, I get the feeling it would go over better now. I place the bag to the side and sit next to the kid.
"I'm not an expert on this stuff. But you don't seem to be feeling too hot. Want to talk about it?" I ask. His response is to give a sly and weary look, as if wondering whether or not I could be talked to, or for that matter trusted. A look I get a lot actually, just not from him. "I've seen that look before, where did you pick up a nasty look like that?"
"Yea, Dina gives it to you all the time." He replies. The tone of happiness is there and maybe even a desire to laugh, but it doesn't reach his eyes.
"Ah, so she's the culprit. Well, she certainly has her many reasons for doing so." The spring she is currently holding probably soon to be among them. "That does not, however, explain why you are using it."
What little light his playful response had seems to die down as he just shakes his head. "It's nothing."
I give him an oddly inquisitive look. "That seems like an awfully heavy nothing."
"It's complicated." Henry says before extending his neck ahead to look around me and to the hatch to the tower. "What's Dina doing?"
"Alright." I say as I give a small chuckle of surrender. "I won't press at it. But, I do have something I want to give you. I had thought to wait but seeing as you could use some cheering up, now is probably the best time." I reach over and pull the bag I had grabbed on to my lap and start to open it. His eyes start to light up the way any child's would as you give them a gift. "You just got remember to keep it a secret, okay?"
"What? Why?" Henry asks, giving me a curious look.
"Well, not from everyone." I reply. "Just your mom. Because I might have stolen this from the library." I saw the grin rise on his face at the idea as I pull the rather large leather bound book from the bag. The leather itself was a rich brown and the cover had gold lettering with the words, "Once Upon a Time," written on it. The paper itself also seems more worn than it otherwise would be normal.
His eyes grew as he saw the book. "You got this from the library?"
I nod, "I sure did. Which is why it needs to be a secret."
"Thanks, Mr. Howl." Henry smiled he quickly stashed the book in his bag for later reading. "I need to get going."
I smile at my job well done. "Just remember to be careful, Henry."
"Right. Thanks again, Mr. Howl." He calls out as I watch him scamper to the other side of the roof and down the ladder.
Once the kid is gone I head back up to check on my assistant. "You still up here, Dina?"
"Yes!" She squeaks back, a bit panicked.
"You can let go of the spring now." I tell her calmly as I begin to pack up the tools.
"Wha- but… but the spring?" She looks between me and her finger, reluctant to remove it.
"It's fine. Not even a real part of the clock. I welded it there when I got bored one day." I tell her as I look for a missing wrench. Where had I put it?
"What?" That is a tone I haven't heard in a long time. It was sharp and dangerous, much like a fresh blade. "You…." She bent down to pick up something from the ground. "You already welded it! Do you know what you nearly did to me, you cad?! I thought the clock was gonna fall apart! I've had to sneeze for the past five minutes!"
I couldn't help but have a large beaming smile. "But didn't you feel like it was so much more important? If it had just been a spring, it wouldn't have been as fulfilling of a job." The item in her hand started to resemble something I should know but the railing between us kept it from sight.
"Fulfi-... I'll show you fulfilling!" With that, she angrily flung the wrench I was looking for.
The wind was brisk as her feet carried her towards her next appointment. A building with a large sign over the threshold. "Mr. Gold Pawnbroker and Antiquities Dealer." Light colored panelling. It looked rather inviting, quaint even. She checked her watch before she approached the door, only to see oil smudging her sleeve and grease covering her hand.
Biting back a curse, she reached for the doorknob with her clean hand and stepped inside. Her back tense, she entered, seeing the owner, Mr. Gold, in his place behind the counter as he checked his ledger. His lean frame accented nicely with a black suit and a red shirt. "Ah, Miss Cheshire, right on time." His English accent called out to her.
She ducked her head, a faint blush staining her cheeks. "Of course, Mr. Gold."
She shut the door with a soft click and quickly ducked behind the counter. "Working with Mr. Howl again, Dearie?"
"Yes." She said, sheepish as she caught his eye going to the stains on her clothing. "Forgive me. I… I didn't have time to change."
"Well, one can hardly do manual labor in nice clothes, can they?" He smirked.
Her blush deepened and she went through the curtain that lead to the office area to grab the cleaning supplies.
Mr. Gold was a renowned businessman, shrewd in his business deals and often times cruel when it came to customers- if some of their complaints were anything to go by. But, he was nothing but kind to her. She stayed out of his way and out of his business while she cleaned up for him, a herculean task given the amount of things stuffed into the shop.
"How is that old clock coming?" He asked when she re-entered the front.
She shrugged, "He says it should be working any day now." Chancing a look at Mr. Gold, she was surprised to find his eyes on her, though his brows risen in surprise of his own. "Though, I'm not sure about that. He seems more in the mind of playing pranks than fixing the poor thing."
"Oh? Has Mr. Howl been tormenting you again?" He grinned, leaning on his cane as he watched her prepare the case for cleaning.
It was one of many things that had changed when she'd started working in the shop with him. They weren't alone. He'd never had much in the way of friend- in that he really had none. But, both could be congenial, courteous, polite, but that usually involved business. A simple conversation was hard to come by. One that was nothing more than noise to fill the silence if one wanted.
And that was something they liked about each other. Neither one minded the silence, choosing to keep certain things close to the vest. Perfectly content to be in their own world while they worked through the day, but on the off chance either one was in the mindset to speak, they were actually listened to. "Depends what you mean." She sniffed, polishing the glass until it was gleaming in the yellow lights. "There was a bit of mischief with a spring, but not much else."
He watched as a smile formed on her face, tugging at the corners of her lips. "A spring?"
"He told me to hold it lest the clock fall to pieces. Turns out, he'd already welded it. I held it for ten minutes, fearing I'd be run out of town for ruining a beloved landmark before he came back. Jackass." She mumbled that part and Mr. Gold turned just enough that she wouldn't see him smiling.
"Certainly, you didn't let him get away with that?" He asked, a slight waver to his voice as he tried not to laugh.
She thought nothing of it as she continued in her task. "Nope. I did not."
He waited for her to continue, and she did so rather sheepishly.
"I threw a wrench at him. It was only a little one." She defended quickly. "And I didn't even hit him... Technically."
"Technically?" He intoned, cocking an eyebrow. He always was one for technicalities.
"He managed to dodge it, but it hit the wall and… rebounded. Got him in the leg." A mischievous glint in her eye had him wondering if she had intended for that to happen. "He's going to have quite the bruise."
"I'm sure." He agreed. "You've got quite the temper, haven't you, Miss Cheshire?"
He'd rarely seen her rage, and when he had, it was only a complicated restoration piece. But, Mr. Howl seemed to know just the buttons to push to get any kind of reaction he wanted from the young woman. Though, he'd doubted it would just be a few huffs and a shove across the work table. Turns out, he was right.
Silence overtook them once more, a comfortable silence, as they continued their work. When she was finished cleaning the pieces, she stood, clapping her hands together to rid them of the loose dust. "Off to another job?"
"Granny's, actually." She nodded, going past him as he finished his own task, looking up from a little jewelry piece he was shining up.
"How many jobs do you have now, thirty?" He teased.
"Ha, no. Just a few." She dismissed, grabbing her jacket. She had two priorities, but her talents were many. Highly coveted for her good work ethic and persistence, there weren't very many jobs she couldn't do. As it was, she was an excellent temp.
"If thirty is a few, Dearie, I'd say it's high time you went back to school."
"What a coincidence. I've a job there tomorrow." She smirked, giving him a sidelong look over her shoulder.
"What luck. Perhaps you'll be in the remedial classes for a refresher course?"
She actually laughed at that, unable to help herself at his unabashed humor. "If I were that desperate for education, I'd just sneak into the library."
With a wave and a lighter heart, she left the shop.
A warm feeling is in the air. I relax happily as I lean back on the long, overly comfortable couch. A cold, but heavy drink in my hand. A quick look tells me I'm already halfway through the bottle.
"Too bad no one could join me." I mumble to myself before a pleasant thought creeps its way into my mind. "Yet."
I try to remember what particular item it is I'm poisoning myself with but all the names are so different that I'm finding it hard to recall. I take another drink. "It's sweet. Hmm, yea not happening right now." I down the rest of the glass.
I fill it again and smile to myself, unable to resist the urge I hold the glass in the air and make the same toast I know I've made at least twice before. "To new beginnings."
For some reason I look at what seems to be an increasingly large pile of meaningless mail. I pick one up and for some reason get a kick out of seeing how they address me.
"Mr. Thomas Howl."
"Oh, if only they knew." I say to myself as I start laughing for no reason and take another drink.
Dina swiped a towel over the table, readying it for the next customer as the bell over the door just announced one. She looked up to offer a friendly smile, "Be with you in a moment." She called, going to the kitchen window to grab a plate.
"Table Seven." Tony nodded.
She quickly skedaddled over to the corresponding table to find Henry with his nose in a rather large book. "Hey, Henry." She called, but he was so enraptured, he didn't so much as spare her a glance. "You'll get your book all dirty if you try to eat and flip pages." She warned, holding the plate.
"Hm? Oh, thanks, Ms. Chess." He slid the book over so she could place the order down.
"One burger with fries."
"No onions right?"
"Not even on the side." She assured. "Need anything else? Refills, napkins, the like?"
"Nah, I'm good thanks." He took a fry as he flipped the page, a vibrant picture catching her attention.
"What are you reading, anyways? That looks fancy." Something stirred within her, a nostalgic feeling. Which was strange, because she was sure she'd never read a book like that. It was nearly as big as little Henry was.
The picture was big enough to take up a whole page, a woman in hunter's clothing was in deep conversation, looking desperate and rather in over her head, with a man with stormy eyes and dark hair, a mischievous smile curling upwards on the part of his face that they could see.
"I don't remember that part in the movie."
"Hey, can I get some help over here?" Granny called, exasperated.
"It's not. This is something… different."
"Hm, well, maybe I could borrow it from you later? I'd love to see what's gotten you so… interested."
He smiled up at her, he would definitely love to be able to talk to someone about this. These stories were like nothing that he'd ever heard of. Full of adventure and change and courage and magic and second chances. He didn't even mind the lovey bits. But they did get a little overbearing.
"Dina!" Granny called again.
"Right, sorry!" Dina rushed off as Henry went back to his book, flipping the page to find out what would happen next in the story.
I stand next to my car as I watch Henry walk toward me down the road. I got to give the kid credit. It takes a lot to try and pull this sort of stunt off. Even more at his age when they are usually so bad at hiding it.
He sees me waiting for him and stops not far in front of me. He gave me a weary look, as if trying to decide if I was who I seemed or some other sort of illusion. I could see water and candy bars sticking out of his bag and a ticket for the Greyhound in his hand.
"You going somewhere little man?" I asked him. A hint of curiosity in my voice.
I see his face set into one of determination. "You can't stop me. I know my real mom is out there and I know she can break the curse."
I raise an eyebrow. "I don't know. Seems awfully convenient to me." Let's see why he's really doing this.
His glance seemed to get a little sharper, as if he was trying to find something out from me. "Why else would you give me the book?"
I shrug, "I don't know. You seemed down, I knew you liked books. Is it so strange I'd give you something I was already planning to give you?" It was an obvious dodge.
This seemed to cement his thinking somehow. "No, if I've learned anything about you in all the years that I've known you. -"
"You mean the all of ten years you've been alive." What a silly little statement.
"Yea." He assures me. "All ten of them. Any time you've ever done something, it always had a reason." I have to stop for a second as I wonder whether or not he really remembers. Then again kids were never really my forte, I'll have to ask Chess later.
It takes another second for me to come up with my response. "And what if I just wanted to cheer up the annoying little brat who always seems to be hanging around my ward?"
At that Henry seems to smile a little as if he can tell he's winning the battle. "We both know you like having me around.
Besides, even if I don't know who you and Dina are yet, it's obvious she's only your ward because of the curse."
I need to figure out what Regina is feeding this kid, last I checked they weren't supposed to be this quick witted. "Okay then. Let's put aside the ridiculous idea that there's even a curse to begin with." I mean for the statement to take him down a notch, but his smile just seemed to beam with victory. It was reminiscent of when Chess would chase canaries. "You're still only a ten year old boy. One who was about to take a trip several hours long, over state lines, by himself, with nothing but some bottles of water and a few candy bars. Oh, and let's not forget the lack of adult supervision while we're at it. How exactly were you planning to get around all of that?"
"Well, you haven't answered any of my questions." Henry defended after he took a few seconds to try and come up with something to say in reply.
"Actually, I've answered every question you've asked. What's more, you haven't asked very many either."I reply, for once in this conversation standing exactly where I should.
"So then, are you going to let me go, or not?" The boy asked me.
I smile, "I asked first. You tell me. Were you planning to make this trip by yourself or do you have an accomplice that you're waiting to meet?" This kid keeps getting off track of what I'm trying to find out damn it.
Henry gets an odd look on his face that speaks of great distaste. "Fine. I'm going alone, no one else knows about this yet."
I nod and then smile again. "Okay, answer one more question, and then I'll answer yours."
"Hey." Henry shouts.
"You're the one risking grounding here right now so we're playing by my rules, Kid. Now what makes a ten year old boy run away to a woman he might not even be related to, to break a curse that you have no way of proving exists, that also in no way actually affects you?" Moment of truth, Kid, don't let me down.
"Because that's what heroes do. And while I might not be the hero, Emma is." Henry says defiantly, his little bit of insecurity disappearing as if it was never a problem.
I heave a deep sigh, half because I'm happy to hear his answer and half because of just how much of that damn determination he has. "So that's it, then, huh? There's no stopping you, no way, no how?"
"Nope." Henry replies.
I smile, "Hop in kid. Looks like we're going to Boston."
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