Chapter 20

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The Enchanted Forest Many Years Ago

Gracie drifted in and out of consciousness catching low mumbles from her captors when she would awake. She couldn't make out the voices when she woke up for a few minutes at a time. Gracie tried hard to remain awake, but it was impossible.

A few more hours of shifting between deep sleep and being awake passed slowly. Gracie's eyes fluttered open, and this time she was wide awake. She slowly sat up and squinted her eyes to look around. The room was dark and empty. Gracie's head pounded with each move she made. As she went to move her hair out of her eyes, her hand was yanked back forcefully. Gracie looked down to see a chain around her small wrist. She rolled her eyes and nearly laughed, obviously her captors didn't realize Gracie could easily uncuff herself using magic. She moved her left hand over to her right, and when she closed her eyes and concentrated hard nothing happened. Gracie tried again with no luck once again. Her heart began to pound in her chest.

This was what Gracie feared most. Being powerless, not able to defend herself. She had no magic, no weapon, and she was chained against the wall. She had been defeated.

Gracie pulled her knees up to her chest making her look smaller than she already was. She had never felt this scared in her life. Gracie wished her Mother was here with her, giving her comforting words and encouraging her to stay strong. But now Gracie felt more alone than ever, just her and her thoughts.

Gracie remained alone and scared for a while. For a while she thought that's how it was all going to end. She had lost all hope of getting out until she saw the glow of a torch down a corridor. Gracie's heart began to pound again. Was this her captor? Are they going to hurt her? Gracie could only hope that it was someone coming to her rescue.

"Gracie?" A soft voice filled the air, "Are you awake?"

Snow White appeared from the shadows with Charming not far behind her. Gracie studied their faces for signs of emotion, and both looked like they were on the verge of tears.

"Gracie, we didn't want to do it like this," Snow White moved closer to the child, "but we had to get you. And this was the only way."

Gracie stayed quiet. She stared at her parents with hatred, the same way Regina would look at them too.

"This was the only way?" Gracie raised her voice, startling Snow and Charming, "By chaining me up and taking away my magic?"

"You still have your magic, however the cuff makes it impossible for you to use it at the moment," Charming said.

"Oh yeah, because that's so much better," Gracie rolled her eyes, "why am I here?"

Snow put her hand over Gracie's, which was immediately ripped away. She sighed and looked to Charming.

"Don't you remember Gracie?" Snow asked, "When you were 7 we got you back. For a whole year you were our little girl. It was such a short amount of time, but it felt like forever. Regina took you, once again. Don't you remember? Or did Regina make you forget?"

"You're lying."

"Gracie please," Charming kneeled down in front of her, "you have to to believe me. We never wanted to give you up. In the first few days we had you we fell in love with you right away. Please remember."

Gracie stared back at Charming with a blank look. Her emotionless face broke Charming's heart. Regina had ruined his little girl, but he had to get her back. However, he had no clue how.

Charming jumped up from his crouched position and stormed out the dimly lit room. Snow gave Gracie a sad smile before following her husband. She found him leaning against a wall, his head hung down low. Snow felt horrible seeing her prince look so defeated. She slowly made her way to him and placed her hands on his waist. His eyes met hers and he couldn't help but show a small smile.

"We'll figure it out," Snow whispered.

Charming clenched his hands at his side and turned away from Snow, "I was supposed to protect her. She's my daughter."

"Don't blame yourself."

"And now look at her! Regina better watch out because when I find her-"

Charming's hand reached toward his sword sheathed at his waist. 

"She'll wish she never crossed us."

Snow sighed, "There's only one person who can help us."

The couple looked at each other for a second. They both knew who could help, and both knew there would be a price.

"Rumple," they both whispered in unison.

"In the flesh."

Snow and Charming turned around to face the Dark One, an evil smile on his face, and a crazed look in his eyes. He looked past the couple to see Gracie huddled up in a small ball.

"What have you done to the little one?" Rumple asked, "Why would I help anyone that has my best student locked up?"

"We had to do this," Charming said, "we have to get her back."

"If you had a child you'd understand," Snow said, her words striking Rumple in a rough spot.

He did in fact understand. Losing his son had drived him crazy. Rumple had began to treat Gracie as his own to meddle through the hole in his heart. He promised Regina she'd never lose her child, but looking at it now it was different. Recently Gracie looked beaten down and exhausted, almost done with life all together. He thought protecting Gracie from her real parents was the right thing for the child. Now he realized the couple had the same hole in their heart that he did, and Gracie did too. Looking back at her, Rumple saw a glimmer of hope in her eyes. He decided what was best for the little girl.

"Let's make a deal."

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