TWICE CURSED

Author's Note: Hey guys, I hope you enjoy this chapter. As for where baby Neal is, you'll just have to wait and see!


Henry sighed as his mom fussed over him, making sure he was ready for his first mission. They'd decided to wait until the next day, when his teacher would be at school, to steal the book. She'd spent the whole afternoon giving him tips on how to sneak around and be a thief, and even after millions of suggestions and a night of sleep, she still thought it necessary to tell him even more things he would forget as soon as she started on the next thing that would help his spy skills.

"Mom, come on, it's time to go," he reminded. It's not like he was trying to sneak into a top secret government facility!

"Alright," she said, kissing him on the forehead and finally letting him walk toward the door with Belle. "Wait!" she said suddenly, and Henry wondered what she could possibly have forgotten as he turned around. "Here, I want you to wear this on every mission you go on," she told him, handing him a watch. However, it wasn't just a watch. There was a compass off to the side in case he got lost, and a timer he could use for timing guards on watch duty, although he doubted there'd be any on this mission.

"Thanks, Mom," he said as he put it on. Then, his mom couldn't hold herself back anymore.

"I love you," she whispered in his ear, and Henry felt a surge of emotion. It had been a long time since she'd said that to him, and he'd missed that.

"I love you too," he whispered back, trying not to choke on his unexpected emotions. His mother loved him. Of course, he'd always known that, but somehow, her actually saying the words made it seem more real. Then, so he didn't start crying right before his first mission, he let go and walked over to Belle, who was standing at the door. Soon they were out of the house and walking down the street, wearing hoodies that were pulled up so no one could tell who they really were.

Regina felt tears welling up in her eyes as she watched Henry go. He'd said he loved her. She was so happy and so worried for him all at the same time. At least she'd convinced him to wear the watch she'd enchanted. It would protect him from Black's magic, just like Belle's cup would protect her. However, that didn't stop her from worrying about him. There were many other ways her son could be hurt besides magic.

"So, what now?" David asked, interrupting her thoughts.

"Now, we see if we can find another way to jog you memory. Maybe a few sword duels would help," she said, smiling wickedly to herself. Without his memories, she'd have the upper hand, and would defeat the Prince easily. It'd be the perfect way to take her mind off of Henry.

They reached the door to Miss Blanchard's apartment, and Belle picked the lock while Henry kept an eye out to make sure no one was watching them. Belle had learned to pick a lock when she was about Henry's age. She'd loved reading books, but sometimes that just wasn't enough to keep away the boredom that came from having a father who was too busy running the kingdom to spend time with her. Books had been her only friends, and sometimes she got tired of being around them all the time. So, she had decided to learn activities from books; one of which had been opening doors without needing the key. It didn't take her that long to spring the lock, and soon she and Henry slipped into the apartment.

"Here," Belle whispered, handing Henry a picture of the book that she'd sketched the night before. It was by no means perfect, but it would give Henry a good idea of what they were looking for.

"Once Upon a Time," Henry quietly read the title. He could see where the fairy tale theme came into play with the title alone. He hoped they weren't wasting their time with a kid's book and that it really did have useful information hidden inside its pages.

The two searched the whole house, and were about to give up hope of finding the story book, when Henry found it underneath a pile of clothes in his teacher's closet. "Got it!" he said excitedly, and he only remembered he was supposed to be silent when Belle shushed him. However, she smiled and gave him a thumbs up. He grinned back at her, even though he was turning red with embarrassment. He should have remembered to stay silent.

Once they were outside the door, Belle tried to use her skills to lock the apartment back up. If they were lucky, no one would ever even know they had been snooping. However, this proved more difficult than unlocking the door, mostly because Belle had never done this in reverse before.

Finally, right when Henry was certain they'd be there for an hour, Belle heard the lock snap back into its proper place. "Let's go," she whispered to Henry, and the two walked back the way they'd come. However, they were more distracted this time.

Henry, instead of being on alert like he had been on the way there, was too busy thinking about how proud his mother would be for his first success. Belle was also distracted, but she was thinking about whether or not the story book would help them discover a way to help Charming remember who he was. Neither of them noticed Sheriff Swan walking up behind them until she'd ripped the hoods off their heads.

They both turned around in shock, but Emma already had a gun pointed at them. "Freeze. You're both under arrest for associating with Regina," she said, hating herself for doing this. However, Black would be furious with her if she just let the duo go, and she didn't want to risk his wrath for this.

Henry looked at her closely, and saw the reluctance on her face. He doubted she would actually hurt them if it came down to that. "Yeah, sure, we're under arrest," he assented, trying to sound hopeless. The sheriff bought it, and sighed with relief. At least they weren't trying to resist arrest. "If you can catch us!" The boy added, as if it was all just a game they were playing a recess, before grabbing Belle's hand and running as fast as he could away from the sheriff.

Emma groaned, realizing she'd thought too soon, before dashing after them. There was no way she was going to shoot an unarmed kid and lady, but she might be able to catch up with them.

Regina sighed as Charming held the wooden sword at her neck for the tenth time. Apparently, muscle memory was kicking in, even though he didn't even remember anything.

"Alright, this obviously isn't helping recover your memory in the slightest, so let's stop," she suggested, tired of losing to him.

"Just one more time?" the Prince pleaded. "It might still jog my memory. Maybe we just have to keep trying." He was really enjoying the physical exercise and his skill had pleasantly surprised him. It was good to do something he understood and was good at, even if he didn't understand why he was good at it.

"No, that's enough for now. You can duel more later," Regina said, leaning her practice sword against the wall of her house before going inside to get some water. Fighting Charming was always thirsty work.

"You did great," Gold complimented him as Charming lay his sword by Regina. Gold was impressed by his skill, and he couldn't help but feel a little jealous. He wished he could be a useful asset to the team, but he couldn't with his leg. Even the man who had no memories was more useful than him.

"Thanks," David said cheerfully, not noticing Gold's bad mood. "I could teach you if you like," he suggested. It'd be fun to help someone else grow in swordplay.

Gold was taken aback by the offer. He knew Regina wanted David to teach him and Henry swordplay, but he felt touched that David would offer it on his own. "Sure." He really hoped that with a little knowledge of dueling, he would be a much stronger asset to Operation Cobra.

The two men followed Regina inside and got water for themselves. Regina watched them closely, and realized what she needed to enchant for them. Charming wouldn't go on a mission without his sword, and Gold never went anywhere without his cane, so she'd enchant those. She considered enchanting an object for herself, but decided against it. It prohibited anyone from using dark magic while near it, including her, and she'd need all of her magic to fight Black when it came down to that. She'd make do without one.

Now that she knew what she needed to enchant, she just had to figure out when and how, and try her best to not think about how much danger Henry was in, and wonder if her son was okay Get a grip! she ordered herself. Alright, she could enchant Gold's staff while he was sleeping and probably Charming's sword too. Luckily, they were sharing a room and David was a snorer, so they wouldn't hear her while she enchanted their objects.

"So, who wants to help me get lunch ready?" she asked, realizing she needed something to do to keep her mind off of Henry.

"Okay," David agreed, and while Gold didn't say anything, he followed them into the kitchen. "Alright, I'm going to tell you guys what to get, and you'll retrieve it for me. David, I need "

Henry could tell that the Sheriff was gaining on him. He and Belle had split up, and he'd given Belle the book. In the split second Emma had to choose who to follow, Henry had yelled, "Man, you're slow." Of course, that had made the sheriff choose to go after him, like he'd planned. If Belle had known, she would have never agreed to take the book, but she hadn't. Now, she would be free even if he was caught, which was seeming increasingly likely.

He rounded the corner, passing the door of the library, when hands shot out from the doorway. One grabbed his shoulder and the other grabbed his mouth, and then Henry was being dragged into the long-abandoned library. The door shut and the stranger released his mouth to lock it before quickly placing the hand back.

Emma turned around the corner to discover that her quarry had disappeared. She tried the door to the library, of course, but it was locked, and no one had the key. There was no way the kid had got in there. She ran off down the street, realizing the kid had probably just put on an extra burst of speed.

Once she was out of sight, the hands released Henry. He turned around to see who his rescuer, or attacker, was, but he didn't see him. All he saw was a slip of paper at his feet. He picked it up. It said, "protecting his family." Henry turned it over, wondering if there was something on the other side, but there wasn't. "What could it mean?" he wondered aloud, and the sound of his voice brought him out of the mystery. His mom would be so worried when Belle told her what happened, so he had to get back as soon as possible.

He unlocked the library door, and closed it behind him. He was about to sneak off, when he heard a click. He turned around, trying to catch a glimpse of the other person through the window, but again, he saw no sign of the stranger.

Relieved not to be going to prison and a little creeped out by the library incident, Henry made his way home.

...

Belle had returned to the house a few minutes ago; with the story book and without Henry. Once she heard Sherriff Swan was chasing him, Regina decided she was going to go get him.

"Wait!" Belle said, trying to convince her to think rationally. "Henry might get away. We should wait a little longer for him before we start a rescue mission. We could get caught, and we need to make sure we're risking it to rescue Henry and not because we think Henry needs rescuing when he really doesn't."

Regina did see the point in that, but she had to go help Henry. It was her fault he was in danger in the first place. She was about to completely ignore Belle and charge to her son's rescue, when the door opened, and there he was. Looking slightly out of breath but otherwise fine, he grinned at them all. "We got the book," he said, before he was smothered in a hug.

"Don't you dare do that again," Regina scolded after she was sure her little boy was actually alright. "Next time, let Belle be the distraction, and you get home to me. Understand?"

"Yeah, yeah," he said, even though he had no attention of doing that. There was no way he was going to let someone else get arrested if he could help it. He was going to be brave, like a hero from a book, and he wasn't going to let anyone else in the resistance get caught if he could help it.

"You did great," Regina told him. Now that her worry for him was starting to disappear, she felt pride welling up. "You did absolutely wonderful."

"Thanks," Henry said, beaming with pride as his mother embraced him yet again.

"Yeah, good job," David said, walking up and hitting him on the back in a proud way. Gold nodded at him from across the room, not saying anything but Henry knew the man was proud of him as well.

Belle started to tell them all how the mission had went, highlighting Henry's involvement in the adventure. After she was done, Regina said, "It seems like a celebration is in order."

She, Gold and David walked into the kitchen, making Belle and Henry wait at the table, since they were the conquering heroes. Soon, they were bringing lunch out, which was sloppy joes and French fries, one of Henry's favorite meals. The sloppy joe meat didn't come out of a can; Regina made it herself. The fries were also homemade. She would cut the potatoes and season them herself.

"Mm, thanks Mom!" Henry said before digging in to the wonderful meal. He'd missed her homemade cooking for the few days they'd been out of ingredients. Soon, everyone was eating, and the room was completely silent except for the sounds created while they ate. No one wanted to talk because then it meant they would have to stop enjoying the wonderful meal until they finished their sentence. They all decided it wasn't worth it.

Soon, everyone had their fill, and they regained the ability to talk. "So, Henry, how'd you get away from Emma?" Belle asked. She'd been wondering this throughout most of the meal, and now seemed like a good time to ask him.

So, Henry told them about the stranger he hadn't seen who had pulled him into the library. "Oh, yeah, and I found this on the floor," he concluded, pulling out the cryptic piece of paper out of his pocket and handing it over to his mom.

Regina looked at it, and the first thing she noticed was that the note was scrawled in the same handwriting that had adorned the potion bottle.

"Protecting his family," Regina read aloud, and looked at the rest of her resistance, but they seemed just as clueless as she was. "Well, we should let this mull around in our heads, and see if we can figure out the meaning." She said, and then rose to take the dishes into the kitchen. Gold and David offered to wash everyone's plates and cups, and the others thanked them before returning to the dining room.

"Hey, Mom," Henry said as he realized it was Friday. He should really ask her his favor now. "I'd like to suggest a mission for Operation Cobra."

"Henry, Belle and I need to find out how to get David's memories back, and what the note you found means. It's great that you have an idea, but right now we have a lot to do. Why don't you tell me after David has his memories?" she asked, not wanting him to feel unimportant but also knowing she wasn't ready for another dangerous or mind-boggling mission at the moment.

"Ok," Henry muttered, and started to walk away, disappointed that his mother didn't have the time to listen to his awesome mission.

"Henry, you did great today," Regina called after her son, before focusing all her energy on finding mention of an object that was important to David in the story book.

Henry lay in his bed, full from the wonderful leftovers. Everyone in the house should be sleeping, so the boy slipped out of bed, throwing on the clothes he'd worn that day. He slipped on his watch, barely remembering that his mother wanted him to wear it on all of his missions, before sneaking downstairs. He grabbed one of the wooden practice swords, deciding he might need something to defend himself with. Henry felt terrible about going behind his mother's back on this one, but he really didn't have a choice. She wasn't ready for anything else, being too concerned with David. Besides, everyone would be so proud of him for following this lead. It shouldn't even be that dangerous!

So, without leaving so much as a note, Henry snuck out of the house, ready to complete a mission and be an even bigger part of Operation Cobra. However, he didn't notice the man who was silently following him, waiting for the perfect moment to strike.

Back                         Home                              Once Upon a Time Main Page                          Next

Your Name or Alias:      Your E-mail (optional):

Please type your review below. Only positive reviews and constructive criticism will be posted!