Talk About a Birthday Present, Amirite?

Emma and Lily decide to investigate the town.


The first and only tourists of Storybrooke, Emma and Lily, intended to break into the clock tower, but once the lock was picked, and the lights came on, Emma found herself curious about the books void of dust, suspended in time, trapped inside of the only library in the town. Their bug was hardly built for stealth, but they managed to peruse the entire town without meeting another soul.

It was becoming very unsettling for the duo. What were the chances of her knowing the only person she met so far?

The entire library looked untouched, tidy, and absolutely reeked of that new book smell.

Then it was Lily’s head that began to hurt. “I feel like we just stumbled into a museum. Or, I guess a memorial. Like this was where Malcolm X played chess once, or where someone famous got axed or something. Can we just agree this place is effin’ shaky?”

Emma dragged her index finger across the spines as she roamed the shelves. “Well, gang, it looks like we got another mystery on our hands.”

“You can’t have a gang of two.”

“Well, if I’m going for relevant references, I’m sparing your pride by not calling you Watson.”

“So considerate.”

“I know, right? Try looking for something… local. A pamphlet or something. This whole town is suspicious, it’s got to have a history.”

“Of course it has a history. That’s why the library was chained up and abandoned. You think this look like a town that steals books at night? Knowledge is priceless, but this is going overboard.”

Emma tilted her head, stopping in her tracks. “Maybe it’s not the books? Maybe it’s the clocktower, or something else in here? I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the only landmark this place has.” She shook her head. “It doesn’t matter. I told Sarah to meet us here, so if she does, she might be willing to tell us something.”

“Considering she ran and hid from you, I doubt she’ll be here,” Lily muttered, understandably skeptical. So… is she, like, the person that gave you your powers?”

“No. I think she knew that I had these powers before we met, and wanted to adopt me to train me or something. Two peas in a pod, y’know?” Her voice was bitter.

Lily could tell she was distressed. She crossed her arms.

“Your powers were how she knew you, right? Having the same powers is a pretty flimsy excuse to adopt someone. I think she legit wanted you as her kid. You gotta admit, it’s pretty sweet, and from the tone in your voice, you really wanted it.” Her eyes shifted away as Emma turned to her. “You could’ve had a family, man.”

“I already do,” she muttered flippantly. “I met her, like, two weeks after the carnival invite. She’s like a sister to me.” She leaned back against the table, staring pointedly at her ‘sister’ with a serious expression. Then she chuckled. “Except when we’re drunk.”

Lily snorted. “Thanks, sis. Bring that up, why don’t you?”

She waved it off, her other hand lingering on a rather large volume, in comparison to the books beside it. “Of all the books here, this one’s got some dust on it. Like whoever specifically skipped this one while cleaning. Like they didn’t know it was here at all.”

Lily paid no mind, checking the row behind her. “Has this place ever even heard of the nineties? Not even one Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings book in the bunch. Think this is one of those super-religious book-burning towns?”

She tilted her head at the book’s title. “I… don’t think this is one of those towns.” With delicate fingers, Emma opened the book to the first page. “Huh.”

“I mean, it’s not like those books have to be in the library, it’s just weird that a modern library wouldn’t have it. I’m having a hard time looking for any fantasy books. I don’t think there’s a section for it. Small library. Mostly non-fiction and tragedies, and drama.”

When she saw the cover of the book, Emma thought she would be disagreeing with the brunette. Flipping through the pages, however…

She slammed the book closed and held it underneath her arm. “We need to go. Take anything that looks interesting, and bring it with you. You’re gonna want to hear this, and we need to hit the clock tower.”

“Roger that… hold on…” quickly tapping through the shelf again, she picked up a title from the Tragedy section, and slid it into the inside of her red leather coat. She gave Emma a thumbs-up.

The blonde opened her mouth to say something, but thought better of it. “Let’s go,” she murmured, and the two headed to the back of the library, towards the spiral staircase.


The clock face was unchanged as they peered through the giant hands, overlooking the dimly lit town.

Lily hated waiting. Popping a gummy bear in her mouth, she leaned against the railing. “Why are we invading these peoples’ landmark again?”

“There’s more to this place.” She had the same, large tome in her hand again. Conveniently, her arm covered the title of the book. “You believe in fate?”

“I believe we met for a reason. I’m starting to believe we came here for a reason, if that’s what you’re asking.”

“What – um… what about fairy tales?”

“I feel like you’re leading me.” Emma squirmed under her narrowed eyes. “What aren’t you telling me? What did I need to hear? What’s going on with this town, Emma?”

The blonde’s fingers fidgeted against the worn book, her thumb stroking against the thick pages, before she sighed. “There’s a chance all of this could be one big elaborate TV show prank,” she began. “And my birthday was technically yesterday, but holy shit, a lot of work went into this, and you’re the bestest friend ever if you had anything to do with it. Also, we’ve done and said so many things that you would’ve never wanted caught on camera, like peeing in cups, and talking about your adoptive parents, and – ”

“Emma!”

“So there’s no camera,” Emma quickly continued, sighing in relief. “So this is probably real. That makes me feel… better?”

Lily held out the book she had picked from the shelves earlier. “Trade. Now.”


“So I’m the daughter of an Evil Sorceress Dragon – and somehow, you’re the one with the powers.”

“Is there a reason why you picked up Oedipus Rex?”

Lily ignored her. “And all of your evil was taken out of you and given to me? That’s a new one. I mean, I’m a bad girl, but evil? And you’re certainly not a saint.”

“Lily.”

“But, I guess, coming from the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming, that’s what you would expect. Holy shit, are your folks in for a surprise…”

Lily!

She peeked up from her book. “Would ya quiet down? We’re above a library, for God’s…” her eyes shifted back to the book. “…Merlin’s sake, I guess.”

Emma scowled at her friend, slamming the book shut. “Lily, are you trying to tell me something?”

“Oh, the Oedipus book? I’m just giving you a little bit of light reading, before your MILF shows up.” She flipped the page. “As your friend, I felt I should warn you. Cautionary tale, you could say.”

She huffed. “Sarah is not my mom.”

“So you admit that you wanna scream for her Ice Cream.”

“No, I’m not – hold on. Are you jealous?”

“Oh, God no. Mistakes were made, we both admitted that. But I can still look out for you, right? As your sister?”

Emma tucked a stray strand of blond hair behind her ear. “Good. Because it was a fucking joke. It was a wink, and she sees me as a daughter. I think.” She crossed her arms. “I mean, if you’ve got a thing for her, go for it. If Ice Queens are your thing.”

Lily’s dimples showed as she smiled. “Apparently, I’m royalty, so I guess she’s not out of my league.”

“Even though she’s old enough to be your mom.”

“Look who’s talking! Remember Cleo?” she teased, gesturing to Emma’s jacket.

She rolled her eyes. “We’re both wearing matching jackets.”

“I wear this because it matches yours. You wear this because it smells like her.”

“You’re a little freak, you know that?”

She blinked sweetly. “Not all of us can be little Miss Charming.”

“Princess Charming,” Emma quickly corrected her, smiling. “So, you okay? Learning about all… that? Seem legit to you?”

The brunette sobered up quickly, pondering. “Even if it was a prank, I’d believe almost half of it. I mean, you have magic, so all of this isn’t hard to conceive. But can I do it? Magic, I mean? Is it something that’s unlocked one day, or do I have to do something for it? I mean, I know how you got your gift. Why didn’t it happen to me, then?”

“I wouldn’t overthink it,” Emma tried to reason, though thinking back on the incident, her friend had a point. “Maybe it’s been lying dormant? Maybe you’re under a curse?”

The two were silent for a tense moment. The town that they were in – Storybrooke, Maine – obviously held more answers that they could have imagined, and the tiny little sea-side town with the broken clock was certainly not what it seemed.

“As the apparent Savior, it’s my personal destiny to get you your magic powers.” Emma stepped forward, and pinched the book out of her friend’s hand. “But we still have a mystery on our hands, Scoob. If Sarah’s not here in the next ten minutes, we’re going on a good ol’ witch hunt.”

Clack, clack, clack.

“That won’t be necessary, ladies.” Clack, Clack. “I’m sure the Ice Queen will make herself known shortly.”

From the spiral staircase, she rose into view. Her heels echoed with each step, yet Emma had never seen anyone walk with such grace. Entrancing brown eyes locked onto Emma’s captivated green. “Welcome to Storybrooke, Savior.”

The Savior eyed the Queen with unabashed interest. “Queen Regina – if you don’t mind the redundancy.”

Her teeth shone in the darkness of night, feral. “You know your Latin. But please, I’m just a mayor here. It’s… good to finally meet you.”

Emma had no doubt that the statement was true, but she wasn’t necessarily sure that it would be good for herself. Lily seemed to believe her, reaching out to grab the blonde’s arm.

Still, the night had just got a little bit more interesting.

Especially when she felt a bone-chilling draft surround her.