Last season premiere of Once Upon a Time the dear dwarf Dopey, a personal favorite of mine, was cursed by becoming a tree as soon as he crossed the town line. He was mentioned a few times, but never freed. Since that season ended, and there was no resolving of Dopey’s limbed and leafed fate, I thought I’d set him free myself. This was written on June 24, 2016. Enjoy my Oncer fans–Enjoy.
TO FREE DOPEY
Knock knock knock…
What was that? Emma questioned, waking from a sound sleep. She turned toward her bedside reading 6:22 on the clock. Who the hell would be coming over this early, she thought and detangled herself from her slumbering pirate.
Knock knock knock…ding ding…
Slipping on a robe, she shouted, “Coming!”
Killian stirred. “What’s wrong, love?”
“Someone’s at the door. I’ll be right back.”
He grumbled something incoherent, and rolled over, as Emma dashed down the stairs to the front door. The knocks came again, but this time she was there to greet whoever was on the other side. “What is so impor—“
She stopped herself, lowering her eyes to a small child at her feet. She was a tiny girl, maybe three-foot tall, but age-wise looked to be about six or seven years old with big brown eyes, and a thick, bouncy dark curls. She’d never seen her before at any of the town gatherings or even at Henry’s school. “Hello there. Who are you?” she asked.
“I’m Avia, and I need you to save my papa.”
Emma knelt to the little girl’s height. “Who’s your father? Is he hurt?”
Avia shook her head from side to side. “No. You cursed him.”
Taken aback, Emma gasped. “I did? When?” Sure, she was the Dark One not but six weeks ago, but she thought she’d corrected most of the mistakes she created. She certainly didn’t remember cursing anyone.
The little girl sniffed. “You did. Mama, said you did. My papa was chosen to cross the town border and he was turned into a tree.”
Oh. That curse. A cold hand of guilt settled on Emma’s shoulders. She didn’t know someone actually tried to leave and got caught. No one told her. Awful didn’t begin to explain how she felt about what she’d done. Reaching out to Avia, she soothed her with a light caress to her upper arms. “It’s going to be okay. I’ll help him right now. Where’s your mother?”
Avia pointed toward the woods.
“Does she know you’re here?”
“No. She told me not to bother you. She said you might be evil.”
“Oh no, sweetie. I’m not evil. That part is all gone.” Emma stood and gathered Avia’s hand. “Come on in. I’ll get dressed and we’ll go to your mother first before freeing your father.”
Feeding Avia some toast and jam, Emma left her in the kitchen watching cartoons while she dressed. Killian had woken while she was with the child and was now fully clothed, snapping on his hook. “I heard. I’ll go with you,” he said, kissing her forehead.
“Thanks. I’ll be right down. Don’t scare her with that, okay?”
“Impossible. Children love me,” he said all too cocky for the early morning, and left Emma to dress.
Moments later, they were trekking through the woods until they came upon a small hovel hidden deep in the dense Maine foliage. “Is this your home?” Emma asked Avia.
Her head bobbed in place with a huge grin growing on her face. “Mama!” she called out and immediately a tiny woman, as round as can be with flushed, rosy cheeks and long auburn curls swept up in a ponytail, shuffled outside.
“Avia! Where have you been? I’ve been worr—“ she paused, seeing Emma and Killian behind her daughter. “Get inside, now, daughter.” Fright etched the lines of her face.
“We mean no harm. The darkness has left us both. Please, we want to help. Avia came to me telling me your husband was trapped,” Emma explained, holding up her hands, showing the frightened woman she was unarmed.
Emma nodded. “I didn’t know. And I’d like to help.”
Slowly, the woman’s face softened. Tears glistened her eyes. “Thank you.”
The woman, who introduced herself as Wren, led them to the town’s line where a small tree grew right in the middle of the road. The branches were drooping, and leaves hanging low and curling in the hot summer sun. There was no water source, no nourishment feeding into the trunk from its roots lodged in asphalt and not rich soil beneath. What had she done? The man was dying, neglected, and abandoned here to die, and it was all her fault.
Sniffing back the sorrow for the poor person, who neither his wife or daughter mentioned who he was, Emma stood back from the orange line painted on the ground and aimed her hands high, concentrating on her inner magic. She closed her eyes, letting the magic flow through her, gaining charge until it filled her from the tips of her toes to her shaking fingers. Then in one powerful shot, she let go, breaking the curse from the town line. Crystals dissolved mid-air, sending the invisible barrier fluttering to the ground. With a wave of her hands to the left, she blasted the left over bits of the curse far away, where it would dissipate into the sky.
The tree shimmered and lit up the area around them in a bright yellow light. Leaves fell to the ground, branches circled inward, and little by little the trunk peeled away, revealing the shape of a man. A small man. A dwarf? Emma’s jaw unhinged. “Dopey?”
Wren and Avia were at his side the moment Dopey was once again in human form. He stretched his limbs and cocked his neck from side to side before a smile split his face in two. His wife kissed him, and he kissed her with all the exuberance they could show one another.
Killian slipped his hand around Emma’s waist, leaning into her ear. “Dwarves have wives?”
“I guess so,” Emma said, just as surprised as he was.
Dopey scooped Avia up in his arms, squeezing her with all his might. “Papa, Emma freed you.”
He set the little girl down and skipped his way over to Emma, slipping his beanie off his head to kiss her cheek. His way of saying, thank you. Emma, in turn, felt her face flush and giggled.
Dopey stood up straight, once again picked up his daughter, and reached for Wren’s hand, but not before he held one finger against his lips.
Emma took this to mean, keep his family a secret, and she nodded, drawing an invisible zipper across her lips.
Dopey smiled, and with his family surrounding him, they walked into the woods as happy as can be.
In dedication to actor Jeffrey Kaiser and his adorable, lovable, and excellent portrayal of Dopey.