Summary: Could one man's memories change the future of Story Brook? How far will a man go to protect those he loves? And how many others can he save along the way? Prince James has never run from a fight in his life and he is not about to start now
Disclaimer: if you recognize it I don' own it
AN: I am kind of addicted to Once upon a time and don't know how I will survive until January so I am writing my own little AU version to keep me going. The name may change as I go along as I not in love with it and if we ever find out what James's real name is I will come back and make the appropriate changes.
Those who remember
The death of David Nolan
As he entered Mr Gold's pawn shop David couldn't help but feel wary. A survival instinct that he hadn't been aware of before was screaming at him that something was wrong, very wrong.
The shop was as eerie on the inside as it appeared to be on the outside. The objects that lined the shelves looked like they belonged in a different time or perhaps another world
David made his way cautiously towards the counter his eyes constantly scanning the area around him as though watching for hidden dangers that might spring out at him on a moment's notice.
It wasn't a danger however that stopped David in his tracks it was a babies mobile that hung from the shops low ceiling. It was delicate and beautiful but more importantly it was familiar to him.
The sight of the mobile filled him with so many positive emotions, love, hope and pride all bubbled up with in his chest but there was also fear, so much fear he didn't think it could just be the usual pre- fatherhood jitters.
In a haze David reached his hand out towards one of the glimmering figures but before he could touch it a voice pulled him back to reality.
"Charming, isn't it?" said the man that had appeared behind the counter
"I can get it down for you if you like" he offered
"No thank you, I'm not looking to buy anything I'm actually lost" David informed the man that he assumed was Mr Gold. He didn't trust the man at all but if anyone had asked him why he couldn't have told them
"I'm looking for the toll bridge" he said looking back towards the door of the shop to avoid having to look at the smarmy little man
David knew that Mr Gold had begun to dole out directions but he couldn't focus on them because all of his attention was being held by the windmill that stood beside the entrance
"See something you like?" Mr Gold asked in an almost resigned tone
"I don't know" David told him as he moved closer to the crudely made lawn ornament he could hear Kathryn's voice in his head trying to talk him into remembering their home, could this be the same windmill she had spoken of.
One small push sent the blades spinning around but David couldn't stop at just one, he pushed harder and harder until they were moving so fast that they appeared not to be there at all and he could see right through them to the painting that hung on the wall behind.
Again David's attention shifted this time it settled on the painting. Both the mobile and the windmill had sparked something in him but neither reaction was as strong as the one the painting caused
It was not a particularly good painting; in fact David would have called it mediocre. It was of a cottage surrounded by trees with a river running alongside it but it wasn't what was in the painting that drew David in it was what was missing. Something that had once been in the painting wasn't there anymore, it had been removed.
David had no idea how he could possibly know what should or shouldn't be in the painting, unless
"I painted this" he spoke his realization aloud
Mr Gold made some reply but David didn't listen to him, he was too busy racking his brains to remember what was missing from his painting.
He gently ran his fingers over the bottom corner of the canvas but instead of the name he had been hoping to find there was a tiny shepherds crook.
Why would he have signed it like that? Why would he not have put his name? The confused man stepped even closer so that his nose was almost touching the painting
Suddenly the painting seemed to change before his eyes and he could see what had been missing. Seven small men were lined up in front of the cottage, no not men dwarves.
The seven dwarves and their cottage were the closest thing to a family and a home that Snow had had since the death of her father that was why he had made this painting for her so she could always have them with her
David didn't know where that thought had come from but it seemed to open a flood gate in his mind. Image after image filled his head, so many coming so fast that he doubled over in pain clutching desperately at his head praying that it would be over soon.
It was another five pain filled minutes before the memories stopped bombarding him but when he pulled himself up to his full height again he knew who he truly was. David Nolan was gone and Prince James had returned.
Mr Gold instantly recognised the change in the man before him.
"Are you alright Mr Nolan?" he asked carefully watching the Prince to see what reaction would be
James trusted Mr Gold even less than David had and now he knew why, he also knew he would need to tread carefully
"I'm fine" he reassured the shop owner
"But there is someone I need to find" He said hastily moving toward the door
"A word of advice before you hurry off, whatever charming little revelation you just had it is best kept to yourself" Mr Gold called out before James could leave
"And why is that?" the Prince demanded, all he wanted to do was find his wife, sweep her into his arms and kiss her until she too remembered who they where
"Because even though the battle ground has changed the war is the same and so is your enemy" Mr Gold told him cryptically
"I don't have the time for your riddles Imp" James spat dropping the pretence of still being David
"Then I will speak plainly" Smiled Mr Gold some of Rumpelstiltskin's energy but none of his malice showed though his soft Scottish lilt
"The Queen's greatest weapon against you was always her ability to hurt the people that you love and here anybody who means anything to you is easily within her reach" he explained
Every gasp of air left James's lungs when he realized the truth behind the man's statement. Snow was defenceless as Mary Margret and if his daughter had found her way to Story Brook she wouldn't stand a chance against the full wrath of the witch that had cursed them all here.
He hated to admit it but Mr Gold was right if he wanted to protect those he loved he was going to have to convince the Mayor he was still under the influence of the cures and if he was going to help Snow remember he was going to have to do it without raising any suspicions. James was coming to the sickening realization that in order to keep Snow safe he might just have to break her heart.
"And what will it take to keep my revelation between us?" James asked softly dreading what Mr Gold/Rumpelstiltskin would make him promise away to protect his loved ones
"I will keep your secret Prince James" the man reassured him with a wide grin
"But at what cost?" James demanded
"Let's call it a gesture of my good will shall we? And leave it at that" offered the man that once again seemed more Mr Gold that Rumpelstiltskin.
James could hardly believe what he was hearing but he had learnt long ago to never look a gift horse in the mouth. With a nod to the Imp turned man James left the shop. He knew it wasn't the best of manners but even in the light of his seemingly kind act James couldn't bring himself to thank him.
It didn't take James long to find Snow it never did. She was standing beside the shallow stream which he had nearly drowned in just weeks ago.
She looked more fragile and vulnerable than he had ever believed she could but she was still the most beautiful woman he had ever laid his eyes on.
"You came" he gasped as David he hadn't fully believed that she would and as James he almost wished she hadn't
"You sound surprised" she smiled nervously
"In fact you sound a little disappointed" she assessed, she always did have good instincts
"I remember" he stated still out of breath from running to get to her
"Kathryn?" she asked uncomfortably
"Yes" he said regretfully
"But not in the way you think I do" he rushed to explain
"I don't love Kathryn I never did but by being with her I saved a lot of people a lot of pain, do you understand?"
"No David I don't understand" She snapped back at him showing a tiny spark of her forma fire
"Explain it to me" she demanded
"You may not want to believe me but please trust that I wouldn't be with her if there was any other way to protect the people that I truly love" he told her hoping that she would understand that she was one of those people
"Protect them from what?" she asked softening slightly as her anger deflated
"A danger that they can't even comprehend yet but they will understand one day and when that time comes we will stand against it together" He promise solemnly
"Are you going back to her?" Mary asked already knowing the answer
"I don't have a choice" he said sadly, just speaking the words made him feel sick he didn't know how he was going to follow them though
"You had the choice to leave me out of this and you still pursued me" she told him as tears began to fill her eyes
"I know and I'm so sorry Mary please believe that my feelings for you are very, very real. I just can't-"James struggled to get the word past the lump that had formed in his throat
"You just can't act on them" Mary summed up for him
James only nodded afraid that if he opened his mouth again he would forget all his good intentions of protecting her and tell her the whole truth
"it's all right" she tried to reassure him but the tears that were now shining on her cheeks told him it was far from all right
"I guess it wasn't meant to be" she whispered tuning her back and waking away from him as quickly as her aching heart and trembling limbs would allow her to. What she didn't know was that as she walked away she was taking his heart with her.
I hope you enjoyed it
Let me know what you think and thank you for reading