Chapter 32

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The Enchanted Forest Many Years Ago

Regina placed her hands on Gracie's shoulders as she ushered the young girl down the corridors.

"What do you need from me?" Gracie asked, her small voice sounding confident.

"I think we should talk about what we both need," Regina said.

She had lead Gracie to the large sitting room where they had drank their tea together everyday, chatting away about the day's events and what new skills Gracie had learned. Gracie shifted her eyes away from the small table where Regina taught her her first magic skill.

Regina sat down on a dark red chair, Gracie taking the one across from it. Regina couldn't refrain from smiling at the way Gracie held herself, sophisticated and brave just like she was taught.

"What is it exactly that you need from me?" Gracie asked, removing her bow from her back and setting it on her lap.

"Let's talk about what you need first. You need your parents safely out of my prison. You're not going to rest peacefully until you know they're out of danger," Regina scoffed.

"And you need to be loved by me. Because I'm the only person left, besides your Father, that has ever cared so dearly for you," Gracie said.

Regina gripped the arm rest of her chair, she could not let anger take over her. She could not show that Gracie was getting to her.

"You are correct, my little one," She replied calmly, relaxing once again, "And I can offer a little deal that will please the both of us."

Gracie remained quiet, her bright green eyes piercing Regina's brown ones. Gracie's fingers ran over the end of her arrows, playing with the fletching made of feathers. Regina realized she wasn't getting a response and continued.

"I will free your parents, no harm done, as long as you stay here with me and become what I've always wanted you to be."

"And what is that, your evil little girl that will someday takeover so your legacy is continued?"

Regina stood up from her chair and walked towards Gracie. Her hand slipped under the child's chin and lifted it up, "I had big plans for you, Gracie. It's not too late for you to become the next queen."

Gracie suddenly disappeared from Regina's grasp and reappeared behind her.

"I don't want to be evil anymore," Gracie's eyes lowered and Regina saw sadness hidden behind the strong facade, "I want to use my magic to help people."

Regina scoffed and rolled her eyes, "You can't be good Gracie. You already have darkness in you. You're destined to be the villain."

"I can change my fate."

Regina went to respond, but it was too late. She was left with blue smoke taking place where Gracie had been standing.

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Gracie reappeared in her old bedroom where she had once felt safe and secure. Now the quite large room gave her the chills. All of her belongings were gone, the room was now dark like the rest of the palace. On one wall hung a portrait of Gracie, one she had done when she was only a year old. Gracie's heart panged for the old days when life was simpler. She quickly remembered she was living a lie and stormed out of the room.

An arrow was strung in her bow as she stepped foot in the hallway. Luckily there were no guards and no Regina. She quietly sprinted down the hallways, making many turns and navigating through the huge castle. Gracie was glad she knew exactly were prisoners were usually held.

She arrived at the door leading to the cells, and as usual there was a guard standing beside it. She could easily take him out being well trained in combat, but she decided not to. She'd ended enough lives already in her short life.

Gracie held her palms out infront of her and squeezed her eyes shut. Although she hadn't practiced this spell, she knew exactly how to do it.

When she opened her eyes she knew it worked, for she was a few inches taller and no longer in her gear. The dress she now wore was ragged, she could feel the harsh material scratching against her skin. Gracie mentally applauded herself for transforming into a servant. She was unrecognizable and had a plan that she knew would work.

She walked up to the guard, sure to not walk to poised or confident, and stood infront of him, "Regina requested your presence in the sitting room. She said she needs to speak with you."

The guard looked confused, "But I must guard the cells. I can't leave it unattended."

"You know what happened to the last guard that was late to Regina's meeting."

The guards eyes widened as he nodded, pushing Gracie out of the way and hurrying down the hall. Gracie's eyes closed once again and she was suddenly back in her own body.

Gracie laid a hand on the doorknob, the lock coming undone at her touch, and threw the door open. An arrow came flying toward her chest, and she caught it as quickly as she loaded her bow and let an arrow of her own fly. The end of the shaft stuck out of a guards chest, piercing where his heart would be if Regina hadn't removed it.

She couldn't help but look down at the guard and smile, what a clean shot it was.

"Gracie?" A voice echoed through the cells, "Is that you?"

Gracie nearly dropped her bow when the voice registered, "Mother?! Where are you?"

"We're in the last cell sweetie," her Father called out, and a hand suddenly popped through the metal bars.

Gracie ran as fast as she could down the corridor, skidding to a halt infront of their cell. There they were, dressed in the same clothes they were in at the ball, and they didn't look harmed at all. Gracie laid a hand on the cell door and watched it fling open. She didn't take a second to pounce in and embrace her parents in hugs.

"Are you mad at me for ruining the ball?"

"Gracie, we love you too much to be mad at you for something like that," Charming said as he held his daughter close, "You were intimidated, it's not your fault."

"Now let's get out of here," Snow said, "I'm done with being a prisoner."

Gracie laughed and lead them out the door, watching carefully for more guards.

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The Charming's castle was finally in sight and Gracie felt a flood of relief, but at the same time something in the back of her mind was nagging her.

"Mom, Dad, don't you thing that was too easy?" Gracie asked, "If Regina really wanted me to stay don't you think she would stop us?"

"She might have something bigger planned," Snow said, bending down to Gracie's level, "But no matter what we'll protect you. We will always find eachother, it's just what our family does."

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