"Emma! We're gonna be late! Up and at 'em!"

When incoherent grumbling and rustling sheets reached his ears Henry resumed pouring his bowl of Fruity Pebbles. Once upon a time he had woken up every morning to the smell of food and the sound of Breakfast with Bach playing on the radio in the kitchen. Even when he'd stayed with David his grandfather had gently woken him up for school each morning. Clearly those days were over. He'd known Emma liked to sleep in from their trip to Manhattan, but nothing had prepared him to be woken up by the sound of her alarm clock going off and then being put on snooze; every five minutes a rock song would blare only to be silenced with a slap and the process would start over again. Eight times.

Emma didn't mind that he turned on the TV in the morning though, so he found a channel with cartoons and sat down on the couch to eat his breakfast, something he'd never been allowed to do before. By the time Bugs Bunny had foiled Yosemite Sam four times the shower had turned off. He fished the last soggy bits of cereal out of the now pink milk in his bowl and drank the rest straight from the dish (something Regina had always scolded him for) before putting it in the sink. It was 8:37, first bell was at 8:50.


A loud clatter, then a thump erupted from the bedroom followed by muffled speech that sounded an awful like cussing. Emma stumbled out of the doorway seconds later, trying to zip up her boot as she walked.

"Ready to go kid?"

Henry rolled his eyes but smiled, "All set."


They each grabbed their coats and scarves off hooks near the main door, unconsciously mirroring one another as they shrugged into the warm layers then made their way down to the bug.

"You've got your key?"

"Yep," Henry said. He pulled a brand new paracord keychain from his pocket and waved it as proof.

"Good and you're taking the bus home?"

Henry nodded again. "Yep. You're talking to the Blue Fairy about Mom today right?"

"Yeah, so I may not be home right when you are but I'll hurry as fast as I can and we'll head over to the stables."


The drive from their apartment to the school was a short one, much shorter than the one from his old house. He could have walked, or caught the bus on its stop in front of the diner, but Emma insisted on taking him on her way to work. Mothers were strange people.

"Gotta fly, I'll be late." Henry was practically out the door before the car stopped in front of the school.

"Sorry kid, I'll be better tomorrow," Emma called after him.

"It's okay, Monday's are rough," he tossed over his shoulder with a little grin so she knew she was out of the dog house.

Emma watched him until he disappeared through the doors, then threw the bug into gear and pulled out into traffic, doubling back towards Granny's on a mission for caffeine. Normal Mondays were rough. The first Monday back at work after a long absence was an absolute bitch. And it didn't help that the first item on her agenda was to start figuring out exactly what magically assisted upheavals had occurred while she was away. She walked into the diner contemplating whether or not she could get away with asking Ruby to Irish up her morning latte.

David was sitting in the deputy's chair when she sauntered into the station.

"'Morning," he said.

"Hey," she waved her coffee at him. "Sorry, I didn't think you'd be in already."

She dropped into the seat in front of the desk, then leaned up to pull her gun and badge off because they dug into her thigh. She set them both on the desk and then slouched back into her chair.

"It's fine." David picked up his own large cup from Granny's. "Your mom and I stopped on our way."

"Right." Emma took a sip of her drink to avoid having to comment further. She liked David okay but she wasn't sure how to interact with him and she definitely wasn't used to thinking of him as her father.

"So," she stared at her coffee as if she was conversing with it instead of the man sitting across from her who had her nose and hair, "How has it been here?"

"Honestly? Quieter without Rumplestiltskin running around causing trouble and since King George disappeared people have been fairly content to lay low and keep things like they were before the curse broke."

The eye of the storm; she wondered how long they had till it passed and chaos descended again. Although, without Regina around she didn't think any mobs would form, but she was certain all the anger over being stuck here would inevitably boil up in other ways.

"I met your stable owner yesterday by the way," she said to break the awkward lull in conversation. "Henry and I ran into her at the grocery store. You might have mentioned our cover story 'bro'."

"Sorry." David had the grace to look sheepish. "Snow and I thought that would be the easiest way to explain our relationship given the circumstances."

"It turned out alright; would have been nice to have a heads up though."

"We were going to tell you. We've been going by David and Mary Margaret Blanchard. If Snow's your sister then that explains the different last names."

"Clever," Emma quipped, mildly surprised that much thought had gone into their cover story.

"Everyone has been mixing and matching households and names. There are so many reunited families and couples keeping track of everybody is a full time job in and of itself."

"Your mother's been shuffling around things a bit too," he continued casually. "There's plenty of room in the budget, I kind of assumed you'd keep me on as deputy?"

"Yeah, definitely."

Uncomfortable as she was about their familial relationship, she knew David was a good man and she did trust him, which was more than she could say for most of the rest of the citizens in town. And he had kept the place together during her long absences. Keeping him on seemed like a no brainer, especially now that she had Henry full time –she'd have to split the shifts with someone or she'd never be able to be home with him.

"We can add another person or two later if we need," she said. "Glad I have you on board. Thanks for…everything."

"Don't mention it. We do what we have to. It's almost harder to adjust now that things have settled down," David admitted.

Emma spun her badge on the desk and told herself not to touch that comment with a ten foot pole. But…enh, why the hell not?

"Is that why you want to go back?"

"Partly," he admitted, but he sounded uncertain. "Everything was simpler there. I knew who I was; what I needed to do."

"You'd trade a little certainty for indoor plumbing?"

"It wasn't that bad! Not at the palace anyway; it had pumps and aqueducts. I grew up on a farm remember, in a two room cottage. That was rough living."

"Uh huh, and you had to walk five miles to school, uphill both ways in the snow, barefoot."

"Well, except for the school part that's actually not too far off." David scratched his jaw.

"And you want to go back there?" Emma asked incredulously.

He grinned self-deprecatingly and shifted in his seat; adopting her relaxed pose he tapped a pencil against the desk as he considered his words.

"I want to be wherever my family is," he said finally. "And your mother says we're staying here, so I'll just have to get used to it I guess."

"You and me both," Emma murmured raising her coffee to him and then chugging it.

"Well, I appreciate the bonding time but one of use should probably get some work done. The new mayor might be more pleasant to work with but…"

"You do not want to get on her bad side," David finished.

"I'll go out on patrol for a couple hours. You do…whatever it is you do or head home."

"Put me on call for tonight. We'll trade until we work something else out. Snow and I are happy to take Henry if you ever need."

She gave him a grateful smile, retrieved her coat and made her exit, intent on stopping by the hardware store to buy a padlock for the Mills crypt and patrolling for a few hours before she dropped in on The Blue Fairy.

Emma hadn't had the occasion to visit the convent before. It was not at all what she had envisioned but she supposed a gothic fortress with iron gates and gargoyles would be kind of out of place in Storybrooke. Still, the building seemed even less suited to fairies than it did to nuns.

Unfamiliar with the custom of announcing one's presence at fairy cloister, Emma rang the bell and jammed her hands into her back pockets. It only took a few seconds for the door to swing open.

"Sister Astrid," Emma recognized Leroy's "girlfriend."

"Just Astrid now," the fairy woman informed her with a smile. "What can I do for you Savior?"

Emma blanched at the title. When had they started calling her that? "You can call me Emma for one thing. I'm actually here to see the Blue Fairy if she's available?"

"Of course, won't you come in?"

Emma didn't really want to but it was dumb to wait outside in the cold and she didn't want to have this conversation on the porch anyway.

"One moment, I'll fetch her."

Emma waited, feeling more awkward by the second. The inside of the convent was drab except for a few vases of flowers that she assumed came from Game of Thorns. It looked as though the fairies hadn't done much to transition back into their old lives. Crosses still hung on the walls at even intervals, and tall candelabras stood at the far end of the hall, the flickering light from their candles casted interesting shadows, even in the daylight. It made Emma wonder how different the lives of fairies and nuns had been to begin with.

"Savior Swan," The Blue Fairy's voice prevented her from dwelling on it.

"Sheriff Swan, if you must," Emma corrected stiffly as she turned to face the woman standing in a doorway to Emma's right.

"Certainly Sheriff, what can I do for you?"

"I was wondering if I could talk privately with you. Just for a few minutes."

"Of course, anything for you and your family; you know that."

Where had that attitude been when she'd told her parents only one could go through the wardrobe and sent her to this world with a seven-year-old puppet.

"What was it you wanted to talk about?" The Blue Fairy asked when she'd led Emma into her office and shut the door. She sat down stiffly behind a large maple desk and folded her hands primly on top of the ink blotter.

Emma leaned forward in her chair and leaned her elbows on the desk. "What can you tell me about Damnatio Memoriae?"

"Damnatio Memori-uh," the fairy corrected out of habit. She pulled away from the desk and away from Emma. "Did Rumplestiltskin tell you of it?"

"Not exactly."

When it was apparent that Emma wasn't going to be any more forthcoming about where she'd heard of the spell the Blue Fairy went on.

"It's a fairy blessing, meant to give those who wish for it a chance to start with a clean slate."

"Like a magical pardon?"

"Of sorts," the fairy conceded. "However, it's much more thorough than a simple matter of forgiveness –magical or otherwise. It's meant to give someone a new life, free from the afflictions of the old one."

"So…basically what –Rumplestiltskin- did to all of you?"

"Rumplestiltskin cursed us." Again it was a correction. "The dark curse caused us to forget who we were in order to take away our happy endings and banish us to live as something other than our true selves."

"And that's not how Damnatio Memoriae works?"

"Not at all, the blessing gives one a chance to live as they might have been."

Emma failed to see how that was a distinction.

"Might have been if what? Why would you give someone the blessing?"

"One must wish for the blessing. Sometimes it's a wish to forget past horrors or other times it's given to the truly penitent in order to forgive their misdeeds and grant real redemption."

Regina may have fallen into the latter category. But why would she wish to forget herself when she'd been trying so hard –and succeeding- to win back Henry's love?

"Can someone be forced to wish for it?"

"Of course not, a wish must be made of free will."

Another vague distinction.

"So, hypothetically, they wish for a new life and everyone else just forgets they ever existed? Like my parents forgot they knew one another after the curse?"

"It's more complicated than that," the Blue Fairy insisted. She seemed agitated and stood up to pace near the window as she answered. "Rumplestiltskin wrote each of our new identities as part of his curse. The blessing isn't controlled by anyone's will, it takes the life of the blessed and reweaves it into the world; rewriting the past to rewrite the future."

"Can it be reversed? Is there some sort of cosmic undo button that can save to a backup?"

"Emma, are you suggesting that Damnatio Memoriae has been granted?"

"Wouldn't you know?" This was the first of the fairy's answers that had really surprised her.

Blue shook her head. "In the old world there were ways to keep records of such things; they were stored in lands apart. But I know of no places like that here. Emma, how do you know of this blessing?"

"You granted it." Emma stood up and faced the fairy once more. "You gave it to someone here and I need to know how to undo it. I need her back."

The Blue Fairy looked helpless to reply and Emma was glad someone else finally felt like they were expected to know things they couldn't.

"I'm sorry, I know of no way to undo such a spell."

If she was lying, she was the best damn actress Emma had ever seen, but Emma would have preferred that she was.

"Not even true love's kiss?"

The Blue Fairy shrugged sadly. "If one loves someone affected by the blessing can they truly love the person they are?"

"Lady, you've been spouting philosophy at me for the last ten minutes, I need a straight answer."

"No, the spell cannot be undone by true love's kiss."

"Why not?"

"If one cannot remember who one truly is they cannot truly love. It is the price of the blessing."

Magic always has a price. How many times had Regina tried to tell her that now?

"But if it's meant to allow someone to be who they might have been then why do they need to remember who they were to truly love?"

"True love has to go both ways. If someone can't know who you were, they can't know who you are."

"But if they did know who you were?"

"I won't say it's impossible Sheriff," Blue replied with her annoying air of boundless patience,
"With powerful magic few things are. But I cannot give you a definite answer. These things aren't as cut and dried as the storybooks make them seem."

"They never are," Emma growled, and then asked, because she had to have something to tell Henry: "My kiss broke the spell on Henry. Could someone's child reverse the blessing?"

"The laws governing such things aren't clear; they've never been written. Curses are made to be broken Emma, they come littered with caveats. That's why Rumplestiltskin's magic is so fickle, and so often results in unexpected consequences. Blessings are meant as a mercy, if they could be undone, or taken back they wouldn't be a gift."

"I see," Emma said. She ground her teeth in frustration but couldn't think of any other questions to ask, or even a condemnation to give. "Well, thank you for your time. I'll let you know if I have any further questions."

"Emma," the fairy's voice stopped her in the doorway. "Who is it that you think I've so wrongly blessed?"

Emma almost answered.

"You're not meant to remember," she said, and stalked out, brushing passed Astrid -who was cleaning the windows in the entry- without so much as an "excuse me."

"Emma?" Henry hollered as he let himself into the apartment.

"Hey kid," Emma said from the couch where she'd been sitting with Regina's letter, reading it over and over again as if the words would rearrange themselves and reveal the loophole in Regina's enchantment.

"Hi," he bounded over. "How did patrol go? Did you talk to the Blue Fairy? What did she say?"

"I talked to her, but you're not gonna like what she said."

"Why not? Wouldn't she tell you how to break the spell? She has to tell us! She's the good fairy!"

Emma sighed and shook her head balefully.

"She didn't know Henry. She can't remember casting the spell at all and she doesn't know how to break it."

"Well what about true love's kiss? That's strong enough to break any curse."

"The spell she put on your mom wasn't a curse though, it's not supposed to have a way to undo it like curses do."

"But true love is the most powerful magic of all!"

"And we'll try it Henry. We will. It's complicated but we'll try," she promised.

"It's not complicated," Henry insisted. "I love her, she's my mom and I love her."

"I know you do. But The Blue Fairy said the price of the blessing is that it messes up true love."

"Because she can't remember me?"

"That's part of it. But the spell, the blessing, made her someone new. You have to love the new person too."

"Oh," Henry said dejectedly. "So I do have to get to know her?"

"I thought you decided to do that anyway?"

His face screwed up in sheepish discomfort.

"Yeah, but just until I could kiss her and bring her back."

"Has anything ever been that easy?" She asked frankly.

"No, I guess not," he sulked.

"So are we going to go over to the stables or not?"


"Let's get going then, huh? We're burning daylight."

"Wow," Henry said as they pulled to a stop outside Stablebrooke's barn.


"It's different," Henry replied. "I guess the spell changed that too?"

"Who knows, maybe the old barns got knocked down in the 'storm'."

"Do you think there was really a storm?"

"I think it was probably called hurricane Cora," Emma said drily.

Gravel crunched beneath their feet as they walked down to the open doorway that was big enough to get a tractor or horse trailer through. The paint had been sanded away and the majority of the walls had been replaced with noticeably newer boards.

"It was white," Henry told Emma as they went through, he ran his fingers over the smooth wood, "and everything was really old and it was kinda smelled bad."

"I wonder how much of this was magic and how much was just your mom," she said because it did smell surprisingly good for a barn; like hay, leather and clean dirt rather than manure.

Several horses stuck their heads out of their stalls as they passed and disgruntled nickers echoed out of a few more.

"Hi, Apollo." Henry confidently walked up to one of the horses and scratched its forehead.

Emma stuck her hands in her pockets and kept one eye on Henry as she continued to look around the barn. The section they stood in held twenty stalls and most of them appeared to have an occupant. Henry's horse was in the last stall before the corridor intersected with another and she rounded the corner to explore more. On one side wood planks butted up against the cement walkway to form a floor for the tack space. Saddles, harnesses, bridles and other equipment occupied most of the area on neat shelves and hooks that bore Regina's obsession with order. The other side had massive sliding doors which were open just enough for Emma to glimpse the haystack behind them.

The wall behind Henry's horse's stall held a tall glass case full of trophies and pictures. Emma wandered down to it to get a better look and was shocked to see Regina in several of them, standing next to a sorrel horse that dwarfed her. A few had evidently been taken in the winner's circle, as she held a bouquet of roses and the horse was draped in wreaths. She looked at the trophies and saw 'Elena Q. LaVerne' engraved on the base of all of them. The blessing had been thorough.

"Kind of pretentious isn't it?" The voice startled her and Emma spun to see Elena striding towards her in jeans, gum boots, and a denim jacket covered in hay.

"Good advertising anyway," she managed to get the words out smoothly. "A lot of these are for first place."

"I had a first place horse," Elena demurred. She opened the door at the end of the trophy case and dropped her jacket and work gloves inside, then joined Emma in front of the case. She pointed to a picture of the sorrel stallion, "Rocinante."

"He's huge."

"He was," Elena conceded with a laugh. "Seventeen hands, head and shoulders above the rest."

"Do you still have him?" Emma looked around the barn, trying to spot the horse.

"No," Elena said, her expression was unreadable but her eyes echoed the sadness that Emma recognized. She'd seen it in Regina's and she'd seen it too often in the mirror. "A champion horse deserves a champion rider."

"And you're not?" Emma looked skeptically back to the trophy case.

Elena shook her head. "It's a long story."

"Maybe you'll tell me sometime," the words fell out before Emma was even aware of thinking them.

"Perhaps," Elena's lips quirked up into a slight smile. "I see Henry's found his horse. David said he'd grown pretty attached but hadn't been able to ride."

"Yeah, life got a little crazy." That was the understatement of the year. "He's excited to start lessons next week."

"He's not the only one," Elena informed her. "I put up fliers at the diner and on the board at City Hall on Friday and I've already gotten about fifty phone calls. There will be about a dozen kids Henry's age starting with him on Monday."

"A dozen? How many horses do you have?"

"Fourteen that are ready to ride, plus one mare that is just about ready to have her baby."

"Almost sixteen horses, and a major renovation," Emma gestured to the barn. "That's quite an undertaking for one person."

"It does seem a little crazy when you put in like that doesn't it?" Elena asked cheerfully. She shook her head again, looking around the barn. "I don't know, I was looking for a fresh start and this popped up almost immediately. It was so serendipitous; it was like it's meant to be."

Emma cracked a wan smile in response. She wasn't sure what to say since 'Your fresh start was actually fairy magic, you were once an evil queen in a fairy tale land and the boy around the corner is your adopted son and I'm his birth mother' was out.

"Well, you came all the way out here, would you like the nickel tour?" Elena asked as she and Emma wandered back over to where Henry was petting Apollo.

"Yeah!" "If it's not too much trouble," they answered at once.

"Henry, there's a feed bag full of apple slices around the corner, why don't you go get some and grab a lead halter. Apollo can walk with us."

"Really? Thanks!" He scrambled to follow her instructions. Emma smiled at his exuberance. Worry that she was setting Henry up for more heartache had been weighing on her since her conversation with the Blue Fairy. She knew he'd been anxious about this meeting. Elena couldn't have circumvented his agitation more quickly if she'd tried. When he returned the pockets of his jeans were bulging with treats and he held a long blue rope which he was trying not to tangle.

"This?" He held the rope up for Elena's approval.

"Perfect. Do you know how to put it on?"

Henry shook his head.

"I'll show you, come on."

Emma stood back and watched as Elena led Henry into Apollo's stall. The Blue Fairy had said the blessing allowed for people to live as they might have been. She wondered what could have gone differently in Regina's life to let her be this person. The woman before her was the polar opposite of the one she had met the night of her twenty-eighth birthday. This Regina seemed years younger and far more accessible. She treated Henry like an old friend as she showed him how to hold the halter and approach the horse; without a hint of the domineering need for control that had tainted every interaction Emma had witnessed between them prior to breaking the curse.

"Put your hand behind his ears and squeeze his neck a little," Elena directed the boy. "Tell him to bring his head down."

Henry had to stretch a little to reach the right spot.

"Hey, it worked!" He crowed when Apollo promptly lowered his head to a more accessible level for the eleven-year-old.

Elena smiled indulgently at him. "Perfect Henry, now slip the halter loop over his nose."

If Regina had been this relaxed and patient with her son when Emma had first arrived in Storybrooke would she have stayed? If she was honest with herself she knew she would have taken one look at the little happy family and assumed there was no place for her in it. She would have run, as fast and as far away as she could until Henry had no hope of finding her again. And she would have told herself it was better that way.

"Look Emma I did it," Henry chirped, pointing to the knotted halter around the horse's head.

"Great job kid," she said with a grin, but his attention was already back on the brunette and Emma wondered if Regina had felt this way every time Henry had ignored her to hang onto Emma's every word.

"Have you taken him out before?" Elena asked Henry.

"No, David only showed me how to groom him."

"Well don't worry, there's nothing to it. Horses are usually trained to lead from the left, so if you stand about right here," she placed her hands on his shoulders and nudged him into place, "And put your right hand on the rope like this he'll walk with you pretty much anywhere."

She looped up the slack and handed it to Henry in a bunch.

"Don't hold it through the loop," she told him. "Hold it right in the middle of the figure eight so if he spooks and runs the rope can't tighten and drag you with him."

"Uh, does that happen a lot?" Emma asked, worry flaring.

"Rarely," Elena assured her. "Mr. Gordon told me all of his horses are suitable for beginners and I've worked with them all enough now to trust them with children. But horses tend to flee when they're frightened so it's best to be cautious."

Henry nodded, remembering how Apollo had run when FrankenDaniel had come to the stable. He shivered at the memory and shook it from his mind, eager to replace his last experience at the stables with better one.

"Shall we?" Elena gestured to the doorway and stepped out to supervise as Henry led the horse out. "That's perfect Henry, you're a natural."

She fell into step with Henry and Emma walked on her other side down the broad thoroughfare. Apollo's hooves clacked loudly against the cement tile as they went.

"Well, this is of course the main barn," Elena began, gesturing as they passed the trophy case and the door to her office. "It's basically finished except for paint, because I haven't decided exactly what to do with that yet."

They passed the equipment area, heading for the large door at the end of the walkway. Elena slid it open and they stepped out into the sunlight.

"This is the arena." She pointed to a large fenced in circle of freshly groomed dirt. "You'll be getting pretty familiar with it, that's where we'll have lessons."

Beyond it was an expanse of pasture that continued several acres and ended in a fence that separated it from the highway.

"When it starts to warm up more and is less muddy I'll turn most of the horses out, and you'll have to catch them but you'll have it easy these first few weeks," Elena told Henry, who grinned and gave Apollo a pat.

"You won't give me any trouble, will ya boy?" He dug for a slice and offered it to the horse. Apollo waffled and snatched it from his palm.

"Did you buy all the horses with the farm?" Emma asked.

"Most of them," Elena replied. "I brought two with me, including the pregnant mare."

"One's gonna have a baby?" Henry asked eagerly.

"Indeed," Elena smiled. She led them over to an area on the other side of the barn that been cleared of gravel. Twelve telephone poles had been erected to form a rectangle just larger than the arena. "It will eventually be an indoor arena but construction on it won't really begin until fall. And that's if I can make this place start turning out some revenue."

"I don't mean to sound like a Debbie Downer, but just how much are you planning to make on lessons around here?" Emma asked. Storybrooke wasn't that big and she doubted most of the residents could afford the lessons if they were very expensive.

"Not a fortune," Elena admitted. "I do have some ambitious plans though for mare boarding. You'd be surprised what people will pay to have their show horses born under the supervision of a vet. Eventually I'd like to start a full breeding program as well, but that's a work in progress too.

"Sure, you've got to find a vet willing to move to the middle of nowhere," Emma quipped. How likely were people to be willing to trust their baby champions with a vet who'd been certified by a curse…

"Well, I have my degree if it comes to that," Elena answered drily, tapping the side of her nose.

…Or a blessing?

"You do?" Henry asked.

Elena nodded. "It comes in handy now and again."

Henry caught Emma's eye behind the brunette's back and she knew he was wondering how many more layers of memories the blessed Regina would reveal. Emma wanted to know how much of the improvements to the ranch had actually been made by Elena and what parts the blessing was responsible for –or had the Gordon's started all of this before leaving and the blessing had simply given Elena memories to fill in the blanks. If Henry's kiss was able to restore Regina's awareness of herself would it all disappear?

"Don't let him get ahead of you Henry," Elena's reminder to Henry snapped Emma back to the present. She looked to her son to see him straighten and correct his pace to match Apollo's. "You can slow him if you'd like but you need to give him a signal. He'll learn to watch you but it will take some practice on both your parts."

"This is my other labor of love," she continued when they stopped in front of another fenced paddock. "I'm putting in a small cross country course here."

"Cross country?" Emma had brought in a bookie on a bond once when she'd lived in Chicago but beyond races she wasn't familiar with horse events.

"You know, with fences and water obstacles?"

"I've seen that on the Olympics," Henry said in awe. "You can do that? It's so cool! Can you teach me? That would be like real knight lessons!"

"We'll see," Elena replied warmly. "We've got to get you on a horse before we can think about adding obstacles."

They continued to walk around the property to give Henry a little more time with Apollo, chatting amiably about Elena's plans for the ranch and her work as a trainer. The sky was just beginning to fade to twilight when they finally returned to the main barn.

"Can I put him away?" Henry asked.

"Certainly, just put the halter back where you found it. He'd probably like a few more treats, if you're willing."

"Okay!" Henry said brightly strutted through the barn door with the horse at his side.

"I think you've created a monster," Emma said. She and Elena stood in the doorway and watched Henry. "A few more trips out here and he's not going to want to come home with me."

"Don't worry about it. I'll put him to work mucking stalls. He'll change his mind before you can say 'horse pucky'."

A surprised laugh burst from Emma. Never, in a million years, would she have ever thought she'd here those two words come out of Regina's mouth.

"I dunno, he's a weird kid," Emma said affectionately. "He'd probably like it –and it would only encourage the idea he has that Apollo is his horse."

"Well, a knight has to bond with his steed."

"Ugh, keep talking like that and between you and David the next thing I know he'll be clanking around the apartment in armor."

"I'll try to contain myself," Elena said with a cheeky grin. Her tone was reminiscent of Regina's sass but Emma had never seen her brandy brown eyes glitter with such mirth. It made her wonder again if Regina had ever truly been this way and if she had then what had caused her to change so drastically. She realized abruptly that it wasn't the horses she was really worried about disappearing if they undid the blessing on Regina, it was the light in her eyes and the warm humor Elena carried so comfortably. It was enchanting, and Emma found herself all too willing to succumb to the spell.

"Do that," she fumbled for something to say. "Henry takes fairy tales very seriously."

"The whole down does," the boy in question appeared at Emma's elbow. "That's why it's called Storybrooke."

"Do you know I'd wondered," Elena said breezily. "Now I know."

"Now you do," Emma echoed softly. And then, awareness of the setting sun and of the purpose to their visit running out set in and jolted her from the sense of comfortable companionship she'd been basking in. "Well, Henry, I think we've just about managed to overstay our welcome we should get going."

Henry nodded reluctantly.

"Thanks for letting me take Apollo out Elena; it was fun to see your farm," he said politely.

"My pleasure Henry, you're welcome to visit anytime," Elena replied and then directed her gaze to Emma, "Both of you."

"We'll take you up on that," Emma said. "Thanks again."

She draped her arm around Henry and pulled him towards the bug. They both turned at the car and waved to Elena, who remained in the door of the barn. Emma watched her head inside in the rear view mirror as they drove down the gravel road towards the highway, the bard door slid shut behind her.

"I like her," Henry announced. "She's like my mom only happier. I don't think it will be hard to break the spell at all."

"I hope so kid," Emma said. But when had anything ever been that easy

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