Chapter 36

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The Enchanted Forest Many Years Ago

The early morning sunlight shone brightly through Gracie's window, causing the resting girl to squirm under her covers. The chirping of a bird outside of her room was a telltale sign of the gorgeous spring weather the Enchanted Forest was experiencing. Gracie thought about getting up and going outside to frolic about, but sleep seemed like the better option. Or so it would be if she could actually fall back asleep.

"Gracie!" Her father's voice filled her ears followed by a knock on her door, "Gracie, get up! It's important."

"I'm coming," Gracie hollered back.

Her curiosity as to what was so important was bigger than her wanting to sleep. The young girl skipped across the fancy dresses in her closet, ever since she turned 10 she was resistant to wearing dresses. If she had still been living with Regina, her new style would be scoffed upon. To Regina, a little Queen in training should always look poised, which usually meant wearing a dress. However, Gracie's parents let the child embrace herself and praised Gracie for her new choice of wardrobe. She wore tan leggings and a white top, accompanied by a tan cloak and knee high boots. In Snow's words, she looked sophisticated and strong. Charming claimed that not even a ogre would want to mess with her.

Gracie quickly threw her trusted bow and quiver of arrows over her shoulder and made her way to her parents bedroom. She found Snow and Charming ontop of the bed, a worried expression on both their faces. She hurries over to Snow's side, laying a hand on her now protruding baby bump.

"Emma is distressed," Gracie looked from Charming to Snow, "She's coming? But the wardrobe isn't done yet!"

"Gracie, we need you, your magic, to protect Emma," Charming jumped up from his spot and held his daughter by her shoulders, "You're the strongest out of anyone in this castle. You could take out all of these guards at once. I know you want to be here to meet your sister, but we need you to protect her."

"I'll go put up a protection spell, no one will enter unless I approve of it."

Charming proudly smiled, "That's my girl."

Charming held onto his daughter tightly, not wanting to let her go off on her own. He knew she was more than capable to take care of herself, but he wanted to be there for her more than anything. He released her and she turned to go, but Gracie's hand was caught by Snow.

"Thank you, Gracie," Snow kissed Gracie's cheek.

"For what? Emma is my little sister, and I will always protect her."

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With a wave of her small hands, a protection spell was cast upon their home. Gracie looked pleased with herself as she walked back in the palace, receiving nods from the guards.

Gracie was on her way up to the look out towers when she heard the faint whisper of her name in the back of her thoughts. She recognized the voice summoning her. It was the one person she was protecting Emma from. Gracie took a second to think whether or not she should go give the summoner a visit, and she figured why not. No one was getting in or out without Gracie knowing and approving. Plus, the only person she could thing of that could take down her protection spell was the Dark One, but he was locked away in his cell. With a puff of blue smoke, Gracie vanished from the castle.

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Regina smiled as Gracie appeared before her. She knew Gracie would come, Regina had a piece of Gracie's heart that she'd never get back. Regina's castle seemed darker and lonelier than usual. Gracie quickly sensed something was bothering Regina.

"Mother?" Gracie asked, "What's wrong?"

"You still call me mother," Regina laughed, "Even after everything you've learned and everything I've done to you, and you still call me mother. Part of you still loves me back."

"Of course, you were my mother growing up," Gracie shrugged, "You were all I knew. Anyway, you summoned me, what for?"  

Regina sighed and took a seat. Gracie remained standing, waiting for a response from Regina. Gracie was taken back when she saw tears building up in Regina's eyes.

"Remember that curse I told you about?" Regina asked.

"Yes, the dark curse as you called it."

"In order to enact the curse, I must sacrifice the heart of the person I love most," Regina stated, wiping a tear from her cheek, "My father. I thought he was the one I loved the most. I took his heart and crushed it. And you know what? Apparently I love someone more than my own father. I killed him, and for what? Nothing. But I know exactly who I love most in the world now."

"Let me guess, me."

"Yes, my dear Gracie, you."

Not a second went by before Gracie's bow was strung back, an arrow ready to be fired, "You are not taking my heart."

"Gracie, you don't understand. This is finally my chance at a happy ending. This is what I've wanted my whole life. My happy ending. You know that. You're wish on your second birthday was for my happiness. And your third. And your fourth. This is what we've always wanted."

"No," Gracie's bow lowered as she spoke, "You always told me that I was your happy ending. That wherever your happiness was, I was right there with it. If my death brings you happiness, then is it really your happy ending? Yes, you will break up my family. And I will not let that happen. I promised them. But, that's not the only family you'll break up. Mother, you and I, we're a family. You might think you're destroying my parents happiness, but in reality you're destroying the one thing that has always brought you happiness. Me."

"You're right, Gracie. We are a family. Being in a family means you have to be willing to do anything for the person you love."

"No!' Gracie shouts, "Not if it means death!"

Regina took a step towards Gracie, but her bow swung up once again. Regina scoffed, "You would never kill me."

Before Gracie could respond Regina paralyzed her with magic. She was stuck in that position, her arms and legs were frozen.

"I love you, Gracie, I really do," Regina stepped closer to Gracie, "You were my pathway to true happiness. Without you I would never have known what being loved felt like. And I love you dearly for that."

Regina's hand plunged into Gracie's chest, and out came her heart with it. Gracie watched powerlessly, and she watched as more tears fell down Regina's face.

"I love you, Gracie, I really do."

Regina swept her hand across Gracie's forehead to erase her memory, and with a puff of smoke Gracie was returned to where she came from. Regina stared down at the red, beating heart she held in her hand.

"I'm sorry, Gracie, I really am."


A/N

Sorry for the lack of updates! And sorry for the horrible chapter. I'm not supposed to be on my computer since I have a concussion but I really had the urge to write so all well. Don't forget to leave a vote and a comment! I'll try to update again by Christmas!

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