Author: Kat Lee
Fandom: Once Upon A Time
Challenge/Prompt: femslashbb: What Could Have Been
Word Count: 2,226
Date Written: 4 September 2016
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to their rightful owners, not the author, and are used without permission.
She stops and stares, anger rising within her at the sight of the hole in Storybrooke's streets. She hadn't wanted to believe the rumors. She hadn't wanted to believe that she had been left behind yet again, but now, looking at the proof of all the tales she'd heard, Lily knows that that is exactly what's happened. She's been left again. Emma's abandoned her for greener pastures yet again.
Her eyes flash on yellow as her fury continues to build. The roar rising within her breaks free from her mouth and becomes a scream of anguish and then a roar again from an entirely different voice. She hears the voice and barely recognizes it as her own, but it is her own now. She's no longer just another human in the system. She's a rampaging dragon with all the beast's might!
She could take her fury out on this town. She could rip up its streets, destroy its buildings, and eat its citizens, but they're not to blame for her current predicament. They're as caught in the mess of being left behind as she herself is. She knows who's to blame. She knows who's been to blame for all the wrongs that have befallen her in her entire, miserable existence. Emma and her parents have caused all of this!
With a single flap of her mighty wings, she leaves Storybrooke behind her. With another, she rises high into the air. The sky is crystal blue today, not a cloud to be seen, but Lily doesn't notice the beauty around her. She notices only the pain in her heart and the memories flashing lightning swift through her mind.
Her whole life could have been so much different! If those so-called "heroes", Charming and Snow, had never intervened with her birthright, she could have spent her entire life as this dragon! She flexes her talons and knows no one could have stood up to her in this form. She could rip a bitch's head clean off her shoulders with a single flex of her claws! But they'd taken her from her mother and from her land and thrown her into this one.
Still, her life could have easily been better. Charming and Snow's own daughter, Emma, could have made it that way. She'd thought they'd shared a bond when they'd met when they were younger. They had shared something all right, but she couldn't have been more wrong about what it was. Their bond wasn't made of friendship or of love. Emma Swan was no more capable of loving some one like her than her parents were. Their bond had been because they'd come from the same world, but other than that one similarity, they couldn't have been more different.
Emma remembers the years she spent researching Emma after that old man had come to her and finally told her the truth of her birth. She had put together all the pieces, and she'd known the blonde would come after her eventually. She'd known their paths would cross again, because they've always been destined to intertwine. They're two sides of the same coin; only, she's always been the tail. She's always been the one to get all the bad luck. No wonder she never could do anything right when she was just a human.
Her anger blazes through the sky. She sees the fire she emits and has to admit, even if only to herself, that it's pretty cool. Still, she should have been able to do this her entire life. Her life could have been so different, if only she and her mother had never known Emma and her parents.
And yet, still, when she'd thought she'd had everything worked out, when she'd had a plan that could have worked, she'd allowed herself to be weak and to be tricked yet again by Emma. She should have known that the girl was just like her parents, every bit as full of lies as they. She had deep down, and yet, she'd still allowed her defenses to crumble around her. She'd still allowed herself to buy into Emma's lies, and this is what it gave her: She's alone again while Emma's out having the time of her life once more.
Suddenly, a bolt of flame strikes hers. They roll into a ball together and create a mighty, impressive explosion. Lily pauses and looks around only to see her mother coming toward her. She watches the other dragon. She remembers telling Maleficent that she'd lost her spunk, that she was a dog just waiting for the Charmings to throw her a bone, but watching her now, her long, powerful, dragon body stretched out through the air, wings spread out and gliding on the air and muscles rippling with power and strength no mere human will ever know, Lily knows she couldn't have been more wrong.
She only threw those words at her because she was angry. She's been angry her entire life. She's had a damn good reason for it, having everything stripped away from her on the very night of her birth, but her mother was right when she told her she didn't have to stay angry. Watching her, she realizes again why she was able to let go of her fury at the Charmings and all the things that they've missed out on. She could stay angry -- she knows she will for a long time to come, quite possibly forever --, but if she spends her life going on a tirade, she'll be missing time she could spend with her mother.
A part of her is still waiting for Maleficent to abandon her, or for Emma to show up and somehow screw this up too, but she remembers the talks she's had with her mother. Maleficent has spent Lily's whole life searching for her. She doesn't want to hurt her. As odd and even impossible as it seems, she's been wanting to love her this entire time.
She'd once thought Emma wanted to love her. She'd thought their friendship could be so much more. They'd made a pact to forever be there for each other. Emma had broken it. She had betrayed Lily, and she'd kept betraying her. She was supposed to help her search for her father, but now, she's gone again. She always vanishes from her life every time Lily trusts her to stay and help her make more of her world, but this time, her world is far more than it ever was before.
She remembers their broken friendship. She remembers the love she'd felt for Emma being so much more than friendship. She remembers tentative kisses in the dark before two young girls on the very cusp of womanhood. They could have found out so much together. They could have built a life together, but Lily's never been the one Emma's wanted.
She's heard other rumors in the town. She's seen Emma with the Pirate from the Peter Pan stories. She knows she has a son now, and it was a man who gave her that son, a man who's dead now. Both he and the Pirate think they know who Emma Swan is. They think they know the woman, but Lily knows they don't. Emma doesn't want them any more than she wants her in the long run. She might want her parents -- she probably does --, but that's as far as she lets herself get. She doesn't want a man. She doesn't want to be tied down by any lover, dragon, Pirate, or otherwise. They'll eventually be burned by her just as Lily has been.
Watching her mother's approach, Lily knows she has a choice. She can let Emma Swan continue to impact her life. She can let her continue to guide her to wrong choices and hurt her. She can focus on her abandonment of her yet again. Or she can finally move on with her life.
Maleficent twirls in the air, clearly showing off, before coming to glide in the sky next to her. Lily hovers for a moment, trapped between the uncertainty of what was, what could have been, and what could yet be. She can let Emma continue affecting her life, or she can take this opportunity, grasp it in her mighty talons, and finally live her life. She can get to know her mother and get to know herself. She can push this dragon body to its limits.
Maleficent hovers in the air beside her. She locks eyes with her, and Lily hears her. She isn't entirely certain how she hears her or how dragons communicate quite yet. They don't speak. She doesn't hear Maleficent's actual, audible voice in her head, and yet she hears her plainly nonetheless. I heard they're gone again. The older dragon gives her huge, leathery wings a single flap. A breeze blows over Lily's scales. They'll be back again.
Lily snorts, flame jumping out of her dragon nostrils. She has no doubt about that. Emma will return again. Emma Swan always has had a tendency to return to her life when she least expects her and often when Lily needs her the least. She's never there for her when she really needs her, and she knows she never will be. Regardless of who their parents are, she's just never been that important to Emma.
She's never once loved her as she's loved her since the very beginning of their relationship, such as it is and whatever it is. Their connection defies labels. They're not friends nor are they enemies any longer. She's never been able to stay mad at Emma; one smile, one bat of her eyelashes, and she's coming to her again, even if their last fight only stopped when Emma nearly killed her. She knows when she sees her again -- and she will one day --, she will once more ache for what could be, but the dreams she once held for them are never going to happen. Emma's never going to look at her as a lover, a sister, or even truly as a friend. Their bond will never be what she wants it to be. Emma will only continue to hurt her as long as she allows her to have power over her.
But this time is different. This time, she didn't leave her alone or with a family who didn't really want her and with whom she never belonged. This time, she's still loved. Despite all her shortcomings, despite not being what she should have been, despite being gone from her for so long, her mother has made it clear that she loves her. She still expects to be let down by her, but Maleficent hasn't hurt her yet.
She doesn't want to hurt her. She only wants to get to know her as they should have known each other this whole time. She wants to be able to be the mother Lily should have had her whole life, the mother she claims she no longer needs. And perhaps she doesn't need a mother, but she does need a friend. She slowly blinks, and although Maleficent sees the tears in her eyes, she does not speak a single word of condemnation. She sees her daughter's pain and touches her gently with her wing. What do you want to do? she asks softly.
Lily looks out at the sky stretching far beyond them. It's still without a single cloud in it and still the brightest blue she's ever seen. I want to fly, she answers with only a moment's hesitation. She still doesn't understand how they speak, but she knows her mother hears her.
Maleficent twirls around her. Then follow me! She takes off through the bright, blue sky, and Lily gives chase immediately -- but not without one last thought to Emma Swan. Wherever she may be now, she knows she'll come back into her life. She always does, but this time, it's going to be different.
This time, she didn't leave her alone or with the wrong family. This time, she's got the family she needs, the friendship she deserves. This time, when Emma returns, she'll find out that this dragon is no longer her bitch. She doesn't need her any longer, and she doesn't need the dreams of their childhood and what could have been between them if only Emma had stayed. She doesn't need Emma. She has her mother now. She has a best friend, and the future is wide and bright ahead of them with endless possibilities.
Lily roars, and once again, at first, she doesn't recognize her dragon's voice. But then she does, and she realizes something else, too. She isn't roaring this time because of pain, not in her body or in her heart. She isn't roaring because of anger. She's roaring, because she's finally happy with such joy that even this mighty body can not contain it. She roars again and again, spouting flame as she does so, and she hears Maleficent laughing with glee. They don't need anybody else, not her father, not the Charmings, and especially not Emma Swan. The world is a bright place after all, and it's all theirs to explore together. She roars again as they fly by, side by side, toward their happily ever after, mother and daughter united at last.