Chapter 18

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The Enchanted Forest Many Years Ago

Gracie sat on her bed with a book open before her. A candle illuminated a small portion of the room, but gave off enough light for her to read. The castle was quiet, not a noise could be heard. Gracie looked up from her reading to glance out the window. She slowly closed her book and stood up from her spot on the bed. Something felt different inside of her. She couldn't explain what she felt, she had never felt this feeling before. But, the longer Snow's heart remained in the vault the stronger this feeling became. Her heart ached and her head pounded. Is this what guilt feels like, she asked herself.

"Mother?" Gracie called, shuffling down one of the many hallways, "Where are you?"

Gracie's light footsteps was all she heard for a while, until she came upon a large room where Regina sat in front of a mirror.

"Mother, I was looking for you!" Gracie ran up to Regina.

Regina didn't move, didn't even acknowledge Gracie next to her. She stared at the mirror, a scene kept replaying on it. Gracie put her hand over Regina's and watched the mirror. Gracie's heard this story before. How Snow got Regina's first love killed. And now the heart-breaking scene played before Regina's eyes. Gracie shook her head and sighed.  She climbed into Regina's lap, and with a wave of her hand stopped the memory from replaying on the mirror.

"Why?" Gracie asked, "Why do you always do this? Put yourself through the pain again?"

Regina stared into Gracie's eyes, and the longer she stared the more and more she started to look like a young Snow White. The more and more Regina's heart broke knowing Gracie wasn't really hers, and that she would never have her own child. The more and more she got angry at Snow for ruining her.

"Snow White must die," Regina muttered.

"Mother, is that really the solution?"

Regina glared at Gracie. Gracie had always had her back, always went along with her plans. Was Gracie changing? Did something happen when she sent Gracie to get the heart?

"Gracie, you've always been supportive of this plan," Regina put the small girl on the ground and stood up, "you've always agreed with me on this. And if we don't do this they will steal you from me. They will take you away from me.  I can't have that happen. They can't take you from me."

Gracie was shocked when she looked up to see a tear roll down the Evil Queens face. She'd never seen Regina cry. Regina was always the one wiping away Gracie's tears, and now it was the other way around. Now it was obvious to Gracie that Regina was right. Snow has hurt them enough now. It was time for it all to end.

"You're right," Gracie said, "it's time for Snow to come to an end."

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Night fell upon the family of two quickly. Gracie yawned repeatedly, signaling Regina that the child was tired, but Regina didn't want to let her go. She held Gracie close to her, as if she was still the little baby she had once been. Although Gracie was only 9 she was very mature. Regina couldn't ask for a better child. But, the thought of losing her little girl was too much. She couldn't lose Gracie, she was all she had left. A glance down at the child revealed she was fast asleep. Regina sighed and stood up, cradling Gracie like a baby. She carried Gracie to her room and laid her down on her bed. Regina covered her in blankets and placed a kiss on her head, careful not to wake her.

"Goodnight my beautiful Gracie."

Regina went to bed shortly after Gracie had. The castle was silent once again. But, not everyone in the kingdom was asleep in the late hours of the night. Some people had important plans.

"Gracie...Gracie."

Gracie's eyes fluttered open. She had heard her name whispered, to low to recognize the voice. She looked around frantically, and when her eyes rested upon the intruder she nearly passed out.

"Hello Gracie."

Just as Gracie went to use her magic to defend herself, the intruder blew dust into her face. And before she knew it, Gracie was passed out.

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