Summary: Emma doesn’t remember who she was before she was found in the woods, but she knows that she has a few close friends, a good job, and a loyal cat that greets her every day when she gets home from work. What she doesn’t know, however, is that her past is about to catch up to her in the strangest of ways. She learns quickly that not everything is as it seems, not even her cat. Rating: E Content warnings: smutty smut (sorry, not this chapter), brief mentions of the loss of a hand Chapter specific content warnings: None A/N: Oh man, where do I start? With thanks, of course. To @clockadile for the absolutely beautiful artwork that I can’t believe goes with my story. To @captainstudmuffin for the intense beta work and idea bounces and listening at every turn. To @phiralovesloki for the guidance and the love and more hand-holding than I should’ve ever subjected you to, but still you helped. (Edit: I AM THE WORST and forgot to thank @sambethe for her wonderful feedback, which also helped me shape scenes to be better than they were!) Without you all, this story would not be here. I’ve got nothing else. Enjoy! Catch it on Ao3 or FFN! And catch @clockadile‘s artwork HERE!
The first day that Emma Swan remembers, she is barefoot, in nothing but a cotton nightgown that looks straight out of another world, and she is freezing. Her hair is icing over, the wet tendrils hardening in the frigid weather, and she’s vaguely aware that she should be worried about her toes, her fingers, any of the exposed flesh that keeps getting colder by the minute. Instead, she focuses on putting one foot in front of the other, trying to push away the pain that shoots through each foot as she breaks twigs and finds sharp stones with her nearly-numb soles.
She stumbles over a root, crying out as she falls to the mud, her hands sinking into the nearly-frozen earth as a sob wracks through her body. Icy water seeps into the cotton under her knees, and it is tempting, so very tempting, to fall the rest of the way, to curl up in the fallen leaves she spies to her left below a sprawling tree, and let the elements take her away from the pain and confusion she’s drowning in.
Emma Swan does not, in fact, know that she is Emma Swan. She knows that she is a woman, she is lost in a forest, she is in danger of frostbite, and she is losing hope fast as the daylight sinks closer and closer towards the horizon.