A/N: This was written for my Full House score in Wizarding Crossover Connection's #CastTheDice20 event for the trope Co-workers.
Beta work was done by Grammarly
I have been sitting on this prompt for four years and have been actively writing on it for a little of a year. Thanks to this event I was finally able to get around to finish it. xxDustNight88 asked me to write this story when I first started writing and I sat down with a plot planned four years ago and then shoved it to the back burner. I am so happy to see this tale finished!
Be sure to let me know what you think!
There was a sinking feeling in the pit of Emma's stomach as she looked around at the scene in front of her. When the phone started ringing at two o'clock in the morning, she knew it couldn't be anything good. Flipping the device over to see the coroner's name popping up on the screen confirmed her worst nightmare.
For the first time in her career as the Sheriff of Storybrooke, Emma had to investigate her first murder. There was a part of her that had hoped she would never have to deal with that in her time, but the reality of the situation was that death was a part of life and all she could hope was that the deceased had seen the light at the end of the tunnel and was headed to a better place.
Crouching down beside the body, Emma reached for the corner of the cloth and was about to pull it back when a voice from behind her caught her off guard.
"You might want to put on some gloves."
Emma slowly turned her head to glance back over her shoulder and smiled when she saw Hermione Granger standing behind her with arms crossed over her chest, shaking her head. She pushed herself up and walked over to hug Hermione.
"Early wake up call for you too?" Emma asked, wrapping one arm around Hermione's shoulder.
Both women tossed their heads back with a laugh, knowing that this wasn't a once in a while thing. In fact, since Emma had convinced Hermione to move to Storybrooke and open up a law firm, the pair had dealt with more two am phone calls for a variety of reasons. Some of their favorites to reminisce about were when windmill and cypress tree disappeared from the local putt-putt course. All that had happened was the owner's son had taken the displays down to do some maintenance.
"Unfortunately. Getting a wake up call from the coroner isn't the best way to be woken up, however," Hermione mused aloud. "I just didn't want to have to prosecute you when your fingerprints showed up on a body that was dead before you touched it."
"I was touching the drop cloth," Emma replied, pulling a pair of rubber gloves out of her back pocket. She had every intention of putting the gloves on before she really started to investigate the scene, but she needed to know who was under the cloth before she could start interviewing the witnesses.
"What if you would have accidentally touched the body? Can't have the Sheriff looking like a dirty cop," Hermione insisted.
Emma rolled her eyes. "I know you're right. I was just concerned about whose body was under that cloth."
"I am too, so now that you have your gloves on, you can go check it out," Hermione teased, pushing Emma towards the crime scene once more.
Taking a few steps forward, Emma was once again crouched down beside the dead body that had shown up in the middle of the forest. From what she had gathered from the coroner upon her arrival to the scene, Ruby had stumbled upon the body as she was finishing her nightly run. As soon as she transitioned back to her human form, she was called in what she had found.
With a deep breath, Emma reached forward and grabbed the corner of the cloth once more. Slowly she pulled it back, revealing a familiar blonde head lying on the ground. She hung her head as she pushed herself back up.
"It's Ingrid," she announced, turning back to face Hermione. "The Snow Queen."
"Oh, Emma," Hermoine gasped, clasping her hand over her mouth. "I'm so sorry. I know you two had a connection, so seeing her face lying there can't have been easy."
"It's okay," she replied, shrugging her shoulders. "We weren't that close. She was my foster mother at one point, and then we reconnected when she moved to Storybrooke, but the connection between the two of us always felt strained. So I kept my distance from her for the most part."
"It's tough to have to say goodbye to family, though," Hermione said, placing a gentle hand on Emma's shoulder. "Even if that family relationship was strained."
"Who knew that saying goodbye could be a good way to bring two people closer together?" Emma replied with a laugh. "Saying goodbye to Graham was what brought you to Storybrooke."
"This is very true. If I hadn't talked Draco into coming to his funeral, the two of us never would have met," Hermione replied, nodding her head slowly.
"And the rest was history," Emma said, wrapping an arm around Hermione's shoulders. "Well, now that we know who it is, we should probably go talk to Ruby and then make a house call to Elsa and Anna. The coroner said that she couldn't get through when she tried calling earlier."
. . . . . . . .
Returning to the station, Emma collapsed into the chair at her desk and cradled her head in her hands. She finally had a chance to come to terms with everything that had seen today. Pulling back the cloth to reveal Ingrid's face broke Emma's heart.
While she hated the woman for the wretched childhood she was forced to have in that foster home; she was still a person who cared for her when it felt as though the entire world was rooting for her to fail. Ingrid was a role model. One of the most important things that Emma had learned from her was how not to treat the people that were considered family.
When Emma moved to Storybrooke, that was when she finally realized what it was like to have a family that cared and showed they cared. Snow had been so willing to take her in and help her get her start in town. Ingrid had never been so welcoming to her, but seeing her lying there lifeless broke her heart.
Regardless of the deep hatred that she felt for Ingrid, she didn't deserve to die the way that she did. Emma pulled her notepad out of her back pocket and started to flip through her notes. There wasn't a lot at the scene to go by as to what had happened. She was planning to meet with the coroner after he had a chance to perform the autopsy.
There was no visible evidence as to what happened. It was almost as though the scene Ruby had stumbled upon was just the "burial" place for the body. The actual crime had happened somewhere else, and that was Emma's puzzle to put back together.
Covering her face with her hands, Emma closed her eyes and tipped her head back in the chair. With a deep breath, she slowly leaned forward and rested her hands on the desk as she looked around the station. It was empty and peaceful, which was unusual. Normally there was at least one person sleeping in the cell in the corner when she came in each morning because they had been thrown out of the town pub for causing a scene.
Liam didn't tolerate much inappropriate behavior in the bar, and when something would happen, his first call would be to Killian to come to take the drunk away and put them someplace safe for the night. Emma was very grateful that Liam always seemed to call Killian when he needed law enforcement. It meant that she could stay curled up in bed asleep for a few hours longer. Then she could handle the discharge papers when she came in later. Liam never pressed charges; he just wanted them to be safe.
"I brought lunch," Hermione announced, walking through the door of the station and placing the bags of food down on Emma's desk. "Only Granny's for the best Sheriff in town."
"Burger and onion rings?" Emma asked, raising an eyebrow as she reached for one of the bags, opening it to reveal exactly the food that had just asked about. She took a whiff of the delicious aroma coming from inside. "Perfect."
"I know better than to bring you the wrong order from Granny's. I've seen you lose your cool with Killian when he has brought the wrong food," Hermione replied, tossing her head back with a laugh. She reached into the bag and pulled out an onion ring, popping one in her mouth. "Besides, these onion rings are the best things on the menu."
"Ain't that the truth," Emma said, nodding her head and grabbing an onion ring for herself and popping it in her mouth. As she savored the flavor, she glanced down at the notepad on her desk, reminding her why they were both here.
"I told Ruby, Elsa, and Anna to stop by this afternoon so we can get their statements and thoughts about what had happened to Ingrid. I hope that's okay," Hermione said, continuing to chow down on the food she had brought for them.
Emma nodded her head. She had meant to tell Ruby to come by the station to submit her official statement, but it had slipped her mind as the thoughts of her past started flooding her head. She knew she shouldn't have let herself get distracted by the thoughts while she was supposed to be working, but when one is overcome with emotions like had been, no one could really blame her for being distracted.
"Well then, I guess we need to get this food out of the way," she replied with a laugh.
. . . . . . . .
Emma furrowed her brow as she looked over the notes from the crime scene. Nothing that she had jotted down seemed to be of any use to her right now. What was she going to do without decent crime scene notes? Even if the eye-witness testimonies gave her any information, they wouldn't be able to connect any of the pieces together because her notes were nonexistent.
"You may want to wipe that scowl off your face before Ruby gets here. She might think that she did something to upset you when she's only here to help," Hermione commented as she walked up to the interrogation table Emma was seated at. She glanced down at the notes in her hands and sighed. That was what the scowl was about. "I picked up the notes from the coroner and a few of the other people who were at the scene. Those plus my notes should help fill in the pieces. And besides, we have eye witness testimony to go with this too."
"What if Ruby can't remember anything useful? Didn't the call say she was in wolf form when she came across the scene?" Emma remarked, her lower lip jutted out as she pouted.
"You've never questioned her memory before," Hermione replied, reaching out to rest her hand on Emma's. "What's going on with you?"
Emma pulled her hand back from Hermione's and shook her head. "I don't know. I'll get it figured out."
The chime on the door to the station pulled Emma out of her self misery, and she pushed the chair away from the table. Leaving the interrogation room, Emma let out a long sigh as she scrubbed a hand over her face before running her fingers through her hair.
She needed to get out of whatever this funk was so that they could solve the case, and everything could go back to normal. She wanted to push her past behind her and look forward to a life with Killian, where they could have a family.
Continuing her way out to the bullpen, Emma painted a smile on her face as she walked up to Ruby and wrapped her up in a hug. "Hey, Ruby. You doing okay?"
Ruby sighed as she wrapped an arm lackadaisically around Emma's waist and rested her head on Emma's shoulder. "I've been better. What about you? I know you were related to Ingrid…" Ruby's voice began to trail off as she lifted her head from Emma's shoulder.
Emma shook her head and shrugged. "We weren't close."
"She's still your family, Emma," Ruby insisted, squeezing her tightly. She looked at the blonde woman and noticed a small tear welling up in the corner of her eyes. Gently, Ruby reached up and brushed them away softly.
Emma smiled and nodded her head, glancing over at Hermione, who was watching the scene play out before her. Hermione had been trying to get Emma to mourn the loss of Ingrid, but she had been unwilling to up until now. Part of her thought that as long as she ignored the matter that it would all go away just like a bad dream.
"Anyways," Emma mumbled, pulling away from Ruby and reaching for her notebook. "Can you tell us to the best of your memory what happened the night before last when you came across the deceased?"
Hermione sat and listened as Ruby shared her experience. She was still struggling to wrap her mind around everything that she had seen at the crime scene this morning, so she could only imagine what Ruby was going through, having seen the whole thing before the crew could tidy it up a bit. Luckily the body was covered up when Emma and Hermione arrived on the scene, Hermione wasn't sure that she could have had the stomach to see it as a fresh scene.
As the interview continued, Hermione found herself drifting in and out of the conversation. She knew that as the lawyer who would be pressing charges at the end of all this that she should be paying attention, but this was going to be an open and closed case, especially if they happened to come across the murder weapon with their suspect.
Furrowing her brow at the thought, did they have any suspects? Hermione wracked her brain for a few minutes going over all of the conversations they had had today. Not once did they mention a suspect list or even someone that they could start looking into.
"Did Ingrid have any enemies in town?" Hermione interjected, distracting Emma and Ruby from the conversation they were having.
"What?" Emma asked, turning to look at Hermione.
"Did anyone have a problem with her? Always complaining about her or causing problems with her," Hermione questioned, running her fingers through her curls and pushing them back off her forehead.
"Not that I can think of," Ruby said, furrowing her brow as she thought. "Everyone in town pretty much keeps to themselves and leaves each other alone. She owned the ice cream shop and made everyone smile."
"Thanks for all your help, Ruby," Emma said, leaning back against the desk she was standing beside. Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed Elsa and Anna make their way in the front door. She smiled as they walked in and greeted everyone in the room.
"Just let me know if there is anything else I can do to help," Ruby said, gathering her belongings and making her way to the door. As she reached for the door, she stopped short and looked back at them over her shoulder. "Do you guys want me to bring you some lunch?"
"Lunch would be wonderful. Thank you, Ruby," Hermione replied, smiling at her.
"Great, I'll be back later," she chirped, pulling the door open and making her way out into the world.
Emma smiled and waved as Ruby left and let Anna and Elsa in behind her. "Hey, Anna. Elsa. Come on in."
"Hey," Hermione said, smiling broadly at the girls. "I've got two seats right here with your names on them."
"Thanks, Hermione and Emma," Anna said, walking across the bullpen from the front door. She walked right up to Hermione and hugged her.
"Hey Emma," Elsa said, wrapping an arm around Emma's neck as she inhaled sharply to stop her emotions from overtaking her body again. She felt like all she had done was cry the last few days.
"How are you doing?" Emma asked, returning the hug.
"It's tough," Elsa replied, pulling away from Emma and making her way over to hug Hermione as well.
Anna gave Emma a quick hug and took one of the empty seats Hermione had offered them. "As Elsa said, it's tough. But we get a little stronger every single day. I don't think any of us were expecting something like this to happen."
"Definitely not," Elsa chimed in, taking a seat. "Ingrid was a kind-hearted would who would never hurt anyone."
"What about trapping you in an urn?" Emma interrupted, furrowing her brow as she leaned up against her desk. "I'm pretty sure that had some malicious intent and trapping the town in a wall of ice."
"Don't forget the mirror curse," Anna added.
Elsa gently smacked Anna's shoulder. "She did that because she thought she was protecting us. As someone with powers like hers, I know what it feels liked to be endangered because people are afraid of you."
"I know what that feels like," Hermione added. "I'm so sorry for your loss. Do you have any happy memories of your aunt?"
"We used to go horseback riding during the summer months," Anna said with a shrug of her shoulders. "And then she used to take us sled riding during the winter months."
"She taught me how to build my first snow," Elsa reminisced, smiling softly. The smile quickly faded from her face as she recalled where she was and why she was here. "I just don't understand how someone could do this to her?"
Emma listened in silence while the other three women spoke. As she listened, she found herself thinking back to her childhood and the time she spent in Ingrid's home. Her memories were scattered with feelings of being unwanted. She was almost thirteen when she was placed in Ingrid's care, and she knew that no one wanted to adopt the older kids and make them a part of their family, so Emma made up her mind to run.
Looking back at the situation now, she felt silly. Emma never gave Ingrid the chance to show her she was wanted in that home. Emma made up her mind and took off. A decision she regretted to this very day, and now she couldn't even properly apologize.
"Earth to Emma," Hermione teased, waving a hand in front of Emma's face and pulling her out of the trance she had put herself into. "Are you with us? Elsa asked if we had any leads."
"Sorry," Emma said, shaking her head to push the thoughts of her past aside. "I was thinking about what I remember of Ingrid to see if I could add anything to your conversation. I didn't spend enough time with her to have any of those fun experiences."
Hermione placed a gentle hand on Emma's shoulder and rubbed her back. "It's okay; not everyone has happy memories. At least you have memories of her."
"Hermione's right," Elsa said, taking Emma's hand and giving it a gentle squeeze. "Any memories are better than none. All that matters now is getting justice for her death."
"And justice we will get," Emma said, flipping her hand around to give Elsa's a squeeze. "Why don't you two go and finish up the funeral arrangements. Hermione and I have a lead we need to go track down."
"We do?" Hermione asked, furrowing her brow as she looked over at Emma. "I thought we were still clueless."
Anna and Elsa stifled a few giggles as they watched from the sidelines as the two women went back and forth.
"We need to go to the morgue and talk to the coroner again," Emma said, shrugging her shoulders. "Maybe we'll learn something that can help us when we get there."
"You'll let us know as soon as you find something, won't you?" Elsa asked, standing from her chair as Emma stood up from where she was leaning against the desk.
"Of course," Hermione said. "Thank you both for making time to come in and speak with us today."
The women said their goodbyes, and then each went their separate ways. Hermione and Emma gathered their coats because the temperature of the morgue was always far colder than either of them would prefer it to be.
Emma reached for her gun and set of handcuffs.
"Why are you grabbing those?" Hermione asked, tucking her wand into the pocket of her jacket. "Do you really think you'll need them?"
"I'm grabbing the gun for the same reason you're grabbing that wand," Emma chastised, looking back at Hermione over her shoulders. "I have a weird feeling that won't go away, so I want to be prepared with the cuffs."
"Makes sense," Hermione said, nodding her head slowly.
"Ready to go?" Emma asked, walking around from her desk.
Hermione nodded, and the pair made their way out of the station. Hopefully, they would find some answers at the morgue or at least a few more clues.
. . . . . . . .
"Well, well, well, dearie," Rumplestilskin mused, taking a step up to the slab where Ingrid's cold body was lying. He smirked as he looked down at her face. "Finally, someone has put you in your place. No longer feeling ruling from your imperial ice castle along the city lines."
He pulled a stool over to the slab and took a seat near her head. He placed an empty wine glass beside her and poured his favorite red into the glass. Satisfied with the amount in the glass, Rumplestilskin set the bottle down and picked the glass up.
"No one comes to the Dark One without a deal in mind, and everyone pays their price," he said, taking a sip from the glass. "Unfortunately, dearie, you tried to get away without paying your fee. It's a shame what had to happen to you."
"Put your hands in the air, Gold!" Emma shouted, kicking the door open and aiming her gun at the back of his head.
"Don't do anything stupid, Mr. Gold," Hermione warned, waving her wand to place a locking spell on the door. She also cast a silent spell to stop anyone from using magic to leave the room. She hoped that her magic would be enough to hold him. She was still getting used to Storybrooke's magic, even though she had been living here for over a year.
Emma walked up behind him and quickly grabbed his hands, pulling them roughly behind his back. "You're under arrest for the murder of Sarah Fisher, also known as the Snow Queen and as Ingrid."
Pulling him roughly off the stool, Emma pushed him toward the door as she continued to read him his rights. Hermione stopped her and took him off her hands.
"Go, and say goodbye. I'll take care of him," she whispered, nodding her head towards where Ingrid was lying.
Emma nodded her head slowly and closed her eyes as she turned around. She walked over to the slab and collapsed onto the stool as she looked at Ingrid's face for the first time since arriving at the crime scene the day before.
"I'm sorry I wouldn't let you become my family like you wanted to be," Emma whispered, a tear rolling down her cheek as she took a deep breath. "Goodbye, Ingrid. Rest in peace."