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OUAT fic: "Before they came together" chapter 1: Aurora

Title: Before they came together.
Summary: How the journeys of Aurora, Mulan, and Phillip came together.
Chapter 1: Aurora 'Two' Ay. (or at AO3)
Chapter 2: Phillip, son of Raymond and student of Lancelot. (or at AO3)
Chapter 3: Mulan's travel with Red. (or at AO3)

Author: Keenir.
Rating: PG-13.
Disclaimer: I own none of the canon characters.
Characters (including cameos) - Aurora, Evil Queen|Regina Mills, Sinuhe, Mulan, Cora, Widow Lucas|Granny, Lancelot, Red Riding Hood|Ruby, Prince Phillip, Belle; mention of Maleficent, and the barbarian killed by Charming's brother.
Categories: backstory, missing scenes.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I can't sleep. I've tried, and it never ended well for me. Her highness does not understand, and I cannot bring myself to discuss it with Mulan.

Still perhaps a little sleep would work?

I shift slightly and sing myself a lullaby:

One eye, go to sleep;

Close your eye,

And be at peace;

Sleep is sleep, for men and sheep;

And when you've rested, all is what you sees.

I'm crying before I can begin the next verse. Sister! I'm sorry!

Mulan and Snow ask me what's wrong. They wouldn't understand - they have no sisters. So I tell them of my recurring nightmare instead; it's kept me from sleeping every other time, after all.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
CHILDHOOD:

Aurora crouched in the next room, listening to her Daddy talking with an old friend of his whom had stopped in earlier today.

“I’m good, Sinuhe. I appreciate it, though.”

Sinuhe tried to convince him: “Come with me, bring your family.” I have no doubt there’s a Court up north who need men like us.”

“No. Midas has a good Court. Good barracks.”

“You are a training tool for his recruits, old friend. You deserve better.”

“It keeps my family fed, clothed, and sheltered. Tis sufficient.”

You were a prince once. Now you are reduced to demonstrating barbarian fighting styles. “Hello there,” Sinuhe said to the little girl who had just come into the room. “Little Aurora Ay, aren’t you?”

“I am. Hello,” Aurora said, clutching her stuffed swan toy. “Are there people like my sisters or my Mommy where you’re going with or without my Daddy?”

“I do not know,” Sinuhe answered honestly as Aurora’s Mommy came in to lift her daughter up and carry her off to bed. I know of no cyclopeans there, Sinuhe thought. Arimaspeans or other sorts. “Still, my friend, before your lovely wife and her children moved in, these lands also were devoid of those such as them.”

“A good argument,” Aurora’s Daddy said. “But I have no reason to leave. My family is comfortable, my daughters are content, my wife is satisfied with how things are. Who am I to naysay them?”

Sinuhe sent several carriages a year later, when word reached him that his friend's wife had been turned into a goat. The answer was still the same: no.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
A FEW YEARS BEFORE THE PRESENT:

Aurora kept to the shadows at the edge of the castle side field where the local prince burnt his enemies at the stakes his ancestors had used for witches. She knew exactly which stakes to go to when the coast was clear - which ones had been used to dispose of two Ay sisters…

None of the sisters could deny that Mommy grew thinner and weaker with every meal; the magic took a lot out of her, leaving less meat each time. One meal a day was changed, by sisterly consensus, to one meal every other day or every third day.

So we accepted a prince’s offer of hospitality, thinking our fortunes had improved. He saw me, and was willing to overlook what he viewed as my sisters’ imperfections. I am the monster. He was the killer.

But that had not become evident until the third day of hospitality. In the morning, Mommy had not woken up, and the sisters could believe that their mother had simply not been able to push through yet another day.

In the evening, Aurora sang her sisters to sleep, as all were still unsettled…

“One Eye, go to sleep…” and Serra had dozed off.

“Two Eye, go to sleep…” and Aurora fought off sleep long enough to sing for Jane:

“Two Eye, go to sleep…” when it should have been Three Eye.

The mistake had been small and of little consequence - though Aurora could never completely banish the idea that it had been deliberate… that she hadn’t entirely trusted the prince either.

And now my sisters are dead. Jane and Serra, nothing left of them but ash and knucklebones. Serra had been executed swiftly enough that Jane’s shriek only woke Aurora up in time. Jane had given him enough of a mortal wound that, though he retreated, he would surely not last the night. Regretfully, the wounding was mutual.

Under the light of the waning moon, Aurora snuck out to the mounds of burnt victims, and retrieved her sister’s knuckle bones. “You’ll be safe with me for as long as I exist,” Aurora vowed, not caring how much the ash and soot of relatives and nonrelatives caked onto her legs and arms and clothes.

Then she fled the princedom and surrounding lands.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
A FEW MONTHS LATER:

Regina rose from her throne, walking a slow circle around this woman who had come to petition her for help. When I was married, all the petitioners were for my husband, Regina recalled. Though there were a few who had a question for Snow. Right now, only herself, the woman, and the Huntsman were present in the room. “You still haven’t answered my question,” Regina said. “Why are you asking for my help?”

“Will you help me?” Aurora asked.

“When you answer me,” Regina said. Let’s find out if this is something I can use against Maleficiant.

Aurora looked at her feet for a minute before meeting Regina’s eyes. “You are my best hope, O Queen.”

‘Best hope’ - me? “There are others, those powerful enough to grant you what you’ve asked me for.”

“I have nothing left to my name. And I want even my name to be no more. I want,” Aurora said again, “to be completely removed from existence.”

Regina considered this. “There are still other options. Maleficient is one.”

“She would curse me if she could. She and Cora contributed to my mother’s death.”

Frankly I’m surprised it took me this long to meet a fellow victim of my mother. “Rumplestiltskin?”

“My grandmother spoke of him rarely, and always in the way one speaks of a traitor.”

“Very well,” she said to Aurora. “Tonight, before you go to sleep, place a lock of your hair on a mirror - if you have none, then on a piece of glass. I shall do the rest.”

Aurora courtsied. “Thank you.”

“It will take effect the moment you fall completely asleep,” Regina cautioned.

“I understand.”

“One thing before you go,” Regina said.

Aurora turned back around and came back, now standing before Regina.

Regina thrust one hand into Aurora’s chest and, with a slight frown, brought the girl’s heart into the air. “This will simplify the process,” Regina said.

“If that is all?” Aurora asked, sounding tired, not afraid or confused or full of bravado.

“It is,” Regina said, letting her leave.

Once Aurora had left and there was no chance of being overheard, the Huntsman asked Regina, "My Queen, is this a good idea?"

"Oblivion is a choice, Huntsman," Regina said.

"One that can't be undone."

"Like death. Only with greater finality."

"I thought magic couldn't -"

"Magic can't!" Regina snapped at him. "But there is always someone who remembers -- a friend, an enemy, a loved one, a preferred merchant or maid. You were haunted when you entered my employ, Huntsman...but even where you were, would you have chosen oblivion?"

He had to think about that one. If I knew what was coming next, maybe. If I didn't know... He stood still, unable to offer an answer.

In the hills outside the castle of Regina...

Laying down, having done what Queen Regina had asked of her, Aurora looked at the little knucklebones and whispered to them, “Good night, One. Good night, Three. I am going to a place where I cannot hurt either of you ever again.”

IN THE NOW

“I tried to close my eyes, but Phillip passed through, and he asked me to join him on his quest,” Aurora said, having managed to tell at least this little piece of her story to Mulan while Emma and Mary were off doing something.

Mulan nodded. “Which you did until Maleficiant’s spell held you in its grip.”

Aurora nodded. "When I told Phillip that I had slept for long enough, that was an excuse - a true one, but still... I was afraid the oblivion wish was still active. Perhaps if I had pretended to sleep, Phillip would still be alive."

Mulan shook her head. "The wraith was already breaking out - it began when you woke up. The only difference is that one or both of us would have joined Phillip in his fate."

"Oh."

"And when you slept at the beanstalk?" Mulan asked, thinking to pull Aurora out of the mental rut of sadness before it could become depression or worse.

"Partial sleep - I sang to myself the lullaby crafted for my sister Serra."


~~~~~~~~~~~~

You know its your hands sticky with blood. Your family’s blood. You are a destroyer par excellence. Everything you touch, everyone you care for.

Father tried to keep food on the table, earning coin for the family meals, at the cost of his dignity. A glorified gladiator by the end, slain by royal bravado. You’ll never forget or forgive that murderous Prince.

Your sisters died because of who you trusted. Bought a sob story and swallowed the hook, line, and sinker. Nearly perished with them, but you were never that lucky. Have to make it on your own. Alone.

Dear Phillip died trying to keep you safe. No clues to just how much was undertaken to reunite with you. Or how much you owe to Mulan - she’s not talking.

They’re surprised you cry in your sleep, you can see the fact on their faces. With all you’ve been through, that’s not what should be the surprise.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
end chapter one. on to chapter 2.
Tags: arimaspeans, aurora, once upon a time, once upon a time fanfiction, ouat, series
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