Careful the wish you make, wishes come true.

A whimper tore her attention from the papers in her hands and she looked at Henry to find him kneeling In front of the now- open trunk, clutching a letter with tears in his eyes. He looked forlornly back at her.

"She's gone."

"There's another one for you too," Henry said dully as he held out a second envelope.

This one was smaller and white; it had an old fashioned seal on it, with a tree stamped into the crimson wax. Regina's meticulous script filled half the page inside.

Emma (it read),

If you're reading this then you know my mother managed to find a way here. Despite my actions to stop her, your charming parents felt it was necessary to punish me for the events following her arrival. Don't bother asking them what became of me. I've been sentenced to Damnatio Memoriae, a fairy "blessing" that will rewrite my identity and eliminate all evidence that Regina Mills ever existed. As such, no one will remember the sins of her mother. You, Henry and Rumplestiltskin are now the only ones who know of the danger sleeping in the coffin upstairs.

She's been subdued for the time being but do not make the mistake of believing she's been stopped. She will overcome the sleeping curse and then she will come for Henry. She's taken her own heart and hidden it away; you won't be able to defeat her until you find the heart and return it to her body or crush it. Do not forget that all magic comes with a price and that there are always loopholes in any spell. Rumplestiltskin might help you beat Cora but not unless it directly benefits him; do not take any deals he offers at face value.

I'm trusting you to protect our son from my mother.

Don't make me regret my decision.


"Shit!" Emma crunched the letter in her fist. She wanted to kick something! Stress, frustration, uncertainty and rage all boiled up inside her and she was buzzing with the need to unleash it but there was nothing to unleash it on. Rumplestiltskin was gone; Gold was useless in his stead. Regina –who she'd been counting on to help her set him right- was gone and her parents were responsible but, if Regina's note was correct, didn't even know what they'd done.

"Shit!" She palmed her face and tried to pull herself together. The last thing Henry needed right now was to see her freak out. She dragged her hand down enough to be able to look at her son who was swiping at his eyes as he read his own letter.

She felt utterly unequipped to handle this. Emma was a doer –but there was nothing to be done, no way to fix his pain. She dropped down to the floor next to him, hoping it was enough. She knew it wasn't but when he immediately snuggled into her she figured she'd done something right.

"Nobody told her about Archie," Henry said with a sniffle when he finished reading.

"What?" Emma asked; of all the things she'd expected him to comment on, that hadn't been it.

"She said she was so sorry that Archie's gone. Nobody told her he was alive and that we knew Cora had framed her for his death."

His words felt like a blow to her chest. Shit. Would it have made a difference? Snow and Charming had known, and they'd condemned her anyway, but if Emma wondered if Regina had known that she wasn't being held accountable for that, at least, she would have let them carry out her punishment.

"Did she tell you what happened?" Emma asked, half hoping that Regina had. He deserved to know, but she didn't know how she was going to explain if she hadn't.

Henry nodded against her chest. He swallowed the lump in his throat, "She said that she had helped Cora do some bad things so that Cora would trust her but that she stopped her in the end –so instead of punishing her for all the bad things she'd done to them the Blue Fairy put a blessing on her that would give her a new life –like the curse gave to everybody in the book."

The explanation was gentler, at least, than the one she'd given Emma but it didn't make it suck less. There was no way to know now what had really happened. Had Regina really deserved her fate? Or had everyone jumped to conclusions the way they had over Archie's presumed death and punish her because they finally could, because she and Henry hadn't been there. She hadn't stopped them even though it had probably been in Regina's power to do so –she'd managed to leave them goodbye letters in her vault after all, she should have been able to escape too.

"She said that the spell would put her in town somewhere. But she said she reversed my adoption, that she'd make you my mom officially, so I can live with you no matter what."

"She did, that's what was in the big envelope."

Henry shuddered in her arms.

"I didn't want it like this," he whispered around fresh tears. "I just wished I could live with you all the time. I didn't mean to want her gone. I wanted you both."

"This isn't your fault Henry. The only person here who hasn't made any mistakes is you. And she knew you loved her. She was trying to be worthy of that."

Henry's head hurt. Crying always made his head hurt. And trying to reconcile the Evil Queen and the woman who had raised him and the woman who had saved the town from her mother –the real evil queen- into one person made it worse. This wasn't how it was supposed to be.

"Did your letter say anything else?" Emma asked, hoping that Regina had given Henry more hints as to what they were supposed to do –but perhaps in a less typically bossy way.

"To remember that she loved me, no matter what," his lips scrunched around the words. They were an empty promise, she wouldn't remember him. "And that she saved some things for me, they're in the trunk."

"I'm so sorry Henry," Emma said, "I didn't want it to happen this way either."

"It's not a very good happy ending."

Emma sighed. She didn't know how to tell him that very few people got happy endings, that sometimes the things you hope for never come. But then who was she to talk? She'd wished all her life for a family and she finally had one because of the child resting in her arms. Was she really that cynical, even after all the impossible things she'd witnessed since Henry had come back into her life? Did she want him to be?

"Maybe that's because this isn't the end," she said carefully. Hope was a fragile thing. "It ain't over till it's over –and it definitely ain't over yet."

Henry sat up so he could look her in the eye. This was usually his speech; it was strange to hear it coming from Emma's lips.

"Your mom's still in town kid and every spell has a loophole," she quoted Regina's words. Maybe they'd been a hint? Maybe there was a way to break the enchantment –even if it had been meant as a mercy instead of a curse.

Hope flickered bright in Henry's eyes.

"It might take us a while," Emma warned. "We've gotta figure out how to bring back Rumplestiltskin's memories too –maybe him first, so we can figure out how to undo the fairy blessing."

"And Sneezy and Belle, we need to get their memories back too," Henry reminded her, excited now with the familiar prospect of a quest.

And they needed to figure out how to find Cora's heart before she managed to break her own enchantment.

Where would they even start?

"I think we should go back to see Snow White, we need to know what she actually remembers and what she thinks she remembers."

"Good idea," he climbed off Emma's lap and tucked his letter in the trunk before shutting it.

She helped him pick it up, because it was heavy even though it wasn't very large, and they made their way back out the bug. After packing it in the back seat she retrieved a spare set of handcuffs she'd kept in her glove box and jury rigged a lock around the mausoleum's door handles. That would keep anyone out until she could get a better one on it –maybe Gold would have a magic-proof padlock in his shop.

Charming was just getting "home" when they pulled up to the mansion.

"You're back!" He pulled them into a bear hug when he met them on the walk. "How was the trip?"

"It was a trip alright," Emma muttered while Henry launched into a narrative about New York City and all the things they'd seen there.

"Did you find Rumplestiltskin's son?"

"Why don't we go inside," Emma suggested instead of answering. "I'm sure Mom wants to know what happened too, no point in telling it twice."


David led the way into the house. Emma and Henry traded a look as they followed him, confirming to each other that they both felt weird about following Charming into Regina's house. Into Henry's house.

The boy's eyes widened and his renewed cheer faded once they stepped through the door. They hadn't seen inside when they'd stopped by earlier, it was completely different, just as the apartment had been. All of Regina's super chic décor had been changed out. The new style wasn't quite as precious as Mary Margaret's apartment had been but it was softer and more colorful than the scrupulous elegance he'd grown up in. The mirrors hanging around the foyer had been replaced with paintings, the wood floors and railings stained a lighter color, the formerly white walls were now butter yellow and navy blue curtains framed the windows. Henry looked for a single thing he recognized and couldn't find one. He shot a wary look at Emma and then dashed up the stairs.

She waited at the landing, knowing he was headed toward his bedroom, suspecting that it would be just as changed as everything else had been. Regina had said that all evidence of her existence would be erased but the magnitude of that statement had only begun to become apparent. Emma marveled that a single spell could so drastically change everything. Had Snow and Charming known when they'd made their decision? She needed to believe they hadn't. Because if they had, and they'd still followed through with it she wasn't sure what that said about them. Or rather, she was, and she didn't like it one bit.

She heard a door shut loudly and looked up to see Henry quickly descending the stairs with a distressed expression on his face. His eyes looked a little glassy again but he blinked to clear them, determined not to dissolve into tears now.


He nodded and when she opened her arms to him he ran into them.

"The pictures in the hallway are gone," he said when he was sure his voice wouldn't crack. "All my stuff is just –gone."

Emma's heart broke for him for what seemed like the nth time that day. No, if her parents had indeed known the consequences of their blessing, she didn't like what it said one bit.

"Emma!" Snow interrupted them cheerily as she came out of the kitchen. "Hi Henry! I wasn't sure you'd be back. Dinner's almost ready, will you join us?"

Emma nodded stiffly, managing a crooked smile for her mother while Henry stepped out of her arms and gave Snow a cursory hug.

"Excellent. We want to hear all about your trip," Snow gestured towards the dining room. "Go sit down."

Emma and Henry did as they were told, pulling up seats at the (square) dining room table. Snow and Charming joined them from the kitchen seconds later, laden with a pot roast, mashed potatoes and a garden salad.

"Dig in!"

They all did so with gusto. Snow was a good cook and Emma and Henry hadn't eaten since before boarding the plane at JFK that morning.

"The house looks nice," Emma said casually after she'd had a few bites. "How long have you lived here now?"

Snow's face screwed up into a bewildered expression.

"Five months," she said. "Ever since the curse was broken and I took over as mayor?"

"And who was mayor before you?" Henry asked.

"Rumplestiltskin," Snow replied as if they'd asked if the sky was still blue. "Seriously what is up with you two, you've been acting strangely since you got back."

"Just checking," Emma covered. "It's weird to be back here after it all. Like it's a totally different place. Everything looks newer."

"Well, it is," Snow said. "The storm was pretty bad; we had to rebuild a lot."

"There was a storm?"

"Sure," David jumped in. "Two days after you left, we thought you probably would have heard about it on the news. Didn't New York get hit too?"

Emma shook her head, "It rained a little; nothing catastrophic. Why didn't you call?"

"We didn't want to worry you, there weren't too many injuries –although the convent did catch fire and two of the fairies wound up in the hospital. But both Nova and Dora are fine now. And everything's been repaired; good as new."

"You could have called," Emma said. "We tried, but apparently calls placed outside of Storybrooke don't go through. Something to do with the curse we think."

"How did it go? Did you find Rumplestiltskin's son?"

Emma pursed her lips and looked to Henry as if asking where she should start but the little traitor just gave her an innocent look back as he promptly stuffed a giant dollop of potatoes in his mouth.

"Yes, we did," she started with the easy part first. "'Bael Rumson' is a professor of literature at NYU. He looks like he's in his late sixties but he informed us that he's been living here for a hundred and fourteen years, making him a ripe ol' one hundred and twenty eight."

Snow and Charming looked stricken. They hadn't expected that.

"We had lunch outside a little bistro near Central Park," Emma explained further. "He was pretty shocked to see Rumplestiltskin –especially since his father hasn't aged a day since they last saw one another. Henry and I gave them some privacy so I don't know the full story but Bael told us that two teenagers had caused a commotion at the next table and when one of them nearly bowled their table over Rumplestiltskin was knocked out of his chair. They grabbed his coat and ran –probably thought that's where his wallet would be. Unfortunately his memory talisman was tucked inside the coat, out of sight, and the charm broke when the boys made off with it. Rumplestiltskin reverted to Mr. Gold and he was not happy to find himself sitting with a stranger in a city he had no reason to be in."

Snow still looked stricken but now Charming just looked surprised.

"He doesn't remember who he is?"

Emma shook her head.

"We tried to explain, but he didn't even really remember Emma," Henry said. "He did remember me though, so he came back to Storybrooke with us."

Which, after the threats he'd dropped to get them to accompany him in the first place, was more than Emma felt he deserved.

"So he thinks he's just Mr. Gold, former mayor and current pawn broker? No magic? No Dark One?"

"Something like that."

"Well, that complicates things."

"You have no idea," Henry mumbled archly.

"That could be a good thing," Snow commented, "We'll all be safer without the Dark One living down the street."

"We have to bring him back," Emma said. "We've got to figure out how to get everyone's memories back."

"And how will we get back to the Enchanted Forest without him?" Charming added.

"Maybe we don't," Snow said. "Maybe we just live here, happy and peaceful and with indoor plumbing for the rest of our lives."

"This isn't our home!"

"It has been for twenty-eight years. What is so bad about here that you're so anxious to leave?"

"What about Belle's memories, and Sneezy?" Emma interrupted, knowing that if this argument got going they'd be here all night and that's the last thing she wanted to do.

Snow shrugged, "We'll try to get their memories back of course. But Belle has actually been quite happy to go back to her life as the town librarian –maybe it's a blessing to not remember life with the Dark One."

Emma gaped at her.

"You would condemn her to remembering twenty-eight years of being imprisoned in an asylum just so it doesn't mess with your happy ending?"

"I'd hardly call the library an asylum Emma."

"The-" Emma stopped, and looked again at Henry as she put the pieces together. "Belle is the librarian. Was she married to Gold?"

"No," Snow looked confused. "She wasn't with anybody as far as I know."

Emma would have to ponder that one for a while; even Henry looked lost. Without Regina everything made even less sense.

"They deserve to remember themselves; you wanted to remember your life. We've got to give them the choice at least. We've got to get their memories back."

"Emma's right. It's not like they crossed the line on their own. Sneezy didn't know what would happen and Belle was forced," David said.

Her mother nodded and caught David's eye; the two seemed to have a silent conversation –Emma hated that- and Snow spoke up again.

"Several people did cross the town line, knowing what would happen," Snow admitted.


"Squire Gordon and his wife," David continued. "Doug was a lawyer under the curse; he accepted a job offer with a law firm in Massachusetts."

"They just left?"

"He came to us and said he'd sold his farm and that they were moving. There were at least four others, they didn't even bother to say goodbye, their houses are empty."

"Doug said they preferred their lives here to what they'd had in the Enchanted Forest."

"And they sold a whole farm to who, Old MacDonald?"

Snow and Charming looked uncomfortable again.

"To outsiders," Snow admitted. "They said our 'friend' Greg Mendel helped them list it online and it sold within two days."

"There are more outsiders in Storybrooke?"

"Who's Greg?" Henry asked.

"The man who had an accident crossing the town line," David answered. "Apparently Mr. Gordon didn't think anyone would really be interested in buying the place but the deal was made before he had a chance to talk to anyone."

"And we're…okay with this?"

Charming shrugged, "There wasn't really anything we could do without raising suspicion. Greg has already caused enough fuss. He's a reporter, he's been running around town looking for a story –he swears he saw a man with fire in his hand the night of the wreck."

"So he was lying!"

"Evidently. Luckily the storm hit before Whale released him from the hospital so Rumplestiltskin was long gone and everyone was too busy trying to get the town back together for him to cause a panic."

Emma wasn't listening very closely, she was too busy berating herself for believing his stupid texting while driving story. Some superpower she had.

"What about Hook?" Emma asked, when she remembered another loose end that had been hanging when she'd left.

Charming looked uncomfortable.

"Dead. He died the day of the storm."

"He was in the hospital!" Emma was pretty sure that with his injuries he wouldn't have been released after two days. Surely he hadn't escaped.

"Whale says he had a massive heart attack –probably the result of his internal injuries- and they couldn't work fast enough to save him."

Emma dropped her fork and rubbed her face; her gut told her that wasn't true. But was Charming lying or did he just not know because whatever had happened to Hook had had something to do with Regina and Cora? Or was her superpower acting up again? Was there not one thing that could be simple in this goddamn town?

"A heart attack?" Henry asked suspiciously. At least the kid's instincts were telling him something too.

Snow and Charming just nodded.

"We buried him at sea, there wasn't much else we could do," Snow said.

"So Hook was here but is dead now, of heart complications," Emma said, not caring that her words would sound strange to her parents. "You've replaced Rumple as the mayor and you live here, Henry and I live in your old apartment downtown?"

"Ye-es. Emma, are you sure you're okay?"

"Fine, just tired –it's a lot to take in after everything," Emma waved her off. "What about these new people in town? Are we going to do anything about them?"

"Not much we can do," David said, resignation hung on every word. "Everyone in town is already hyper aware of what the outside world would do with us if they know, so we've all been flying under the radar. I think that's what made people like the Gordons leave, the stress of wondering when our secret will get out –something we wouldn't have to worry about if we went back to the Enchanted Forest."

"In the meantime," Snow interjected, pointedly ignoring her husband's last statement. "We carry on with our lives here, without Rumplestiltskin it shouldn't be too hard to keep Mr. Mendel from seeing anything he shouldn't. Sneezy –Tom- is back at the pharmacy and Belle is back at the library. We're all living our Storybrooke lives anyway; we just have our families and friends with us now. It's better."

"We have a werewolf and God knows what running around too," Emma protested.

"And old enemies along with old friends," David said, thinking of King George, who he was sure they hadn't seen the last of.

"That werewolf is your godmother Emma, and one of your best friends. Ruby can control herself, no one outside has to know," Snow insisted.

"Ruby is the least of our problems. This outsiders thing is a time bomb. We need to figure out how to get the memories back so we can fix the boundary. We can figure out who wants to leave and who we want to keep out after that."

"That's what we'll focus on then," Snow said. "One thing at a time."

"Right. So first things first, where's Greg Mendel staying and do we know who bought the Gordon's farm?"

"Greg is staying at Granny's of course. David and I haven't gotten out to Stablebrooke yet but the Gordons seemed pretty happy with the sell. Even though they wanted to leave they wouldn't have left it to just anybody."

"You let an outsider live here for how long without investigating a little?" Emma asked incredulously.

"We've had a lot on our plates," Snow defended them. "And we didn't want to raise suspicion by barging in on him."

"But maybe it would be good for the Sheriff to drop by and introduce herself," David suggested.

"Uh uh, too weird, I've lived a lot of places but I've never had the sheriff stop by to introduce themselves."

"But this is a small town," Snow pointed out. "Still too weird?"

"Yeah," Emma said definitively.

"We could go visit my horse?" Henry suggested.

"Did you really give him a horse?"

"Not exactly," David assured her. "But that actually might work. I had a deal with Doug to reserve a couple horses in order to teach Henry to ride. I could go talk to the new owner about continuing the agreement. That is –if you still want to learn Henry?"


"I'll stop by tomorrow then."

"Great," Emma said.

"So, what else have we missed?" Henry asked.

Emma tuned them out for the remainder of the dinner, she wasn't sure she could handle any more revelations. When they finished cleaning up she made their excuses and ushered Henry out, promising she'd call the next day.

It was strange to be here, in a home that was home but somehow . . . wasn't. Henry had retreated to his bedroom with the trunk once they'd returned and Emma had let him have his space. But two hours later she still hadn't settled into her space and the need to check on him was overwhelming. So she made her way up the stairs into the loft.

Henry was sitting in the window seat between his bed and desk. The trunk was open before him and its contents were stacked around him. He was wrapped in a blue patchwork blanket flipping through a photo album too quickly to be really looking at the pictures.

He didn't look up when she entered but did speak before she tried to awkwardly open a conversation.

"She's not in any of these," he said, nudging a discarded album towards Emma. She picked it up, letting it fall open in her hands as she sat down across from Henry. It was a baby album. Hundreds of pictures of her tiny son filled the pages. Some had obviously been taken in a studio but most were candid –though no less professional looking. Every single one had the date and a caption written near it in Regina's impeccable hand. Emma poured over the photos, her fingers tracing the perfect lines of tiny Henry in an infant tub.

"The pictures in our house are all gone," he continued. "It's just these and she's not in any of them."

"Did she take these?" Emma couldn't tear her eyes away from the baby pictures. Hundreds of snapshots of the life that she'd missed.

"Most of them; she always had a camera before…before the book. I stopped letting her take my picture so she put it away." Regret colored his voice.

"She probably saved the other pictures too," Emma tried to comfort him. "Maybe they're in her vault somewhere."

"She probably thought I wouldn't want them," he said as he snapped the album he was holding shut.

Emma reached out, not certain what to say because his words were probably true. She swept his bangs back gently.

"We're going to find her Henry. We can start looking tomorrow; we'll find her and we'll find a way to bring her memories back."

"What then? Her letter said the blessing was a mercy –will everyone want to kill her if they can remember her?"

"Hey, I promised that I wouldn't happen. That stands as long as I'm around, I promise," Emma swore. "You know you're the one who's always telling me to have faith, that everything looks worse right before it gets better. Don't let go of that –we wouldn't be here without it. I know it looks pretty bad right now but we are going to make it better."

Henry nodded glumly.

"C'mon, it's time for bed. We're not gonna be able to help anyone if we're exhausted."

She shut off the reading lamp and helped him move the albums back to the trunk. When he'd slipped beneath the covers on his new bed she tucked his old blanket around him.

"Hey, can I borrow this tonight?" She asked, holding up the album he'd handed her.

Henry nodded.

"Thanks kid," she said as she kissed his forehead. "Sweet dreams."


"Hey Emma!"

Emma paused at the top of the stairs and looked back at him.

"I love you."

Emma smiled, "I love you too kid."

Emma slipped down the stairs and settled onto the couch below Henry's room with a throw blanket. She cracked open the album. Starting at the beginning this time she perused the pictures inside, reading every caption and finally believed without a shred of doubt, that whatever mistakes Regina Mills had made in her life, loving the son she'd adopted was not one of them. She'd loved Henry as her own and had given him everything; things eighteen-year-old Emma Swan had not been capable of providing. Not the least of which being an album detailing the first months of his life. Emma regretted many things about her life, but was surprised to find that it turned out that giving Henry up, giving Henry more, was not one of them. Not really. Though it was still bittersweet to look at these pictures and see in vivid color –or sometimes black and white- what she'd missed. She fell asleep on the couch with tear tracks on her cheeks and the baby album clutched in her arms.

Author's note: I hope this chapter answered a few questions at least. I'm making up my own timeline, since the creators haven't been very explicit about theirs. I promise the next chapter will be less down and we'll see where Regina wound up. Feedback is always appreciated. Thanks for reading!

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