The Dark Ocean by chilly_flame is the SwanQueen FanFic That Will Remind You Of OUAT’s Halcyon Days. It is the perfect enemies to friends to lovers story with a healthy dose of the amnesia trope thrown in for good (and fun) measure.
The events of the story occur shortly after the magical curse is broken and the sleepy town of Storybrooke, Maine has more or less acclimated to the new realities of the non-fairytale world.
Regina Mills (the former Evil Queen) is deposed as mayor of the town after the curse she cast over the town ends. Her lonely days now consist of mundane things like therapy and general longing for a happy ending, and for a certain blue-eyed blonde sheriff .
Said sheriff, Emma Swan (the Savior), is presently busy reconnecting with her family and trying to find her place in this world. The former bounty-hunter and slayer of dragons spends her time rescuing felines stuck in trees and observing the Queen from afar.
A wrench is thrown in the life of the tranquil town and its inhabitants when Regina, in an uncharacteristic bout of altruism, answers Emma’s call for help. A disgruntled king and his henchmen are trying to murder Emma’s parents and Regina saves the day but gets into an accident and loses her memory.
Regina awakens after the accident believing she is still the young Queen, trapped in a loveless and abusive marriage. With neither modern medicine nor magic able to heal her, Emma is reluctantly drafted into teaching the wide-eyed Queen everything about the non-magical world.
Thus Regina embarks on a lengthy recovery process while sharing numerous small yet deeply meaningful interactions with her minder. This journey of discovery includes some of my favorite touching moments of the innocent Queen eating ice cream and French fries, reading Harry Potter for the very first time or riding horses with Emma. These interactions unerringly lead to the deepening of the emotional and sensual intimacy between them. The journey of discovery also contains plenty of hilarity as Regina comes upon things like flushing toilets, cable television, the permissible length of one’s skirt and sex toys.
Everyone in town believes that Regina is faking the amnesia to devise some terrible plot to destroy them all. Emma’s parents and friends try to persuade her to keep her distance because Regina is evil, yet the sheriff is drawn more and more to her amnesiac charge. As they spend time together, Emma becomes torn between helping out the Not-Yet-Evil Queen and fighting her own nascent feelings for her. But will she trust Regina and risk losing her own heart in the process, or will she succumb to the pressure of Snow White and the town folk and relinquish Regina forever?
The story is not necessarily a slow burn, but the author skillfully takes the time to set the stage for the romance that blossoms. The chemistry between Regina and Emma is what made OUAT famous and it is present in spades.
Things start to sizzle in earnest once Regina discovers the joys of cable TV and realizes that women can kiss and make love to other women. Emma catching her watching True Blood on HBO, in the middle of the night, blushing and clutching the remote to her chest at the hottest moments is a particularly funny and charged situation for them both.
chilly_flame is a well-known fanfic author, with amazing stories spanning numerous fandoms, such as Devil Wears Prada, Law and Order: SVU, OUAT. Their writing and pacing are top-notch and the storytelling is evocative and beautifully woven.
Since amnesiac Regina, is about two years into her traumatic marriage to King Leopold, a lot of her memories of the abuse she suffered at his hands are still fresh. She’s getting help to try and overcome it, but she is hurting and some of the abuse is retold without graphic details.
I also found Snow White to be particularly annoying, which is an accurate reflection of the character.
Remember the years before OUAT broke our collective hearts? Remember when we still had hopes that two mothers of a little boy with amazing chemistry between them would surely be allowed to be together? Remember the good ole days prior to the show runners trying to shoehorn the leading ladies into relationships with weak boring men? Those were the days!
chilly_flame brings back that atmosphere of hope and possibility with their fun and very hot take on post-curse Storybrooke. Regina’s coming to terms with her past and her actions while falling in love with the dashing town sheriff is a sight to see. And the fact that the Evil Queen has to do so while trying to figure out how the toilet works and not being able to get enough of French fries is a particularly fun use of the amnesia trope.
chilly_flame builds a world where the undeniable chemistry is allowed to build, where the sins of the past do not weigh as heavy on either the injured and amnesiac Regina or on the sympathetic and already well on her way to being in love Emma.
Excerpt from The Dark Ocean, OUAT
“And hot cocoa, with cinnamon. Do you want that, Mom?”
“I think I’d prefer coffee, with milk. And sugar?” she asked, as though she needed permission.
Emma slid the little collection of sugar packets over to her side of the table. “You can have all you want right here.”
Regina smiled, her eyes alight.
Emma thought that for a Queen, she must have had one miserable life if she could get excited about a packet of sugar.
Ruby took their order and flounced back to the counter, while Regina watched her. “Her skirt is… very short.” She turned to Henry. “Is that normal?”
Henry giggled. “It is for Ruby. And it’s not as short as usual.”
Regina’s mouth dropped open as she glanced back toward Ruby, who was singing to herself and swaying to the music playing over the speakers. “Oh. Well. The styles here are quite different.”
“Come on, I’ve heard about your um, Queen outfits. They didn’t sound exactly conservative,” Emma quipped.
“Well, at least I covered my legs,” she replied primly.
“In skintight leather,” Emma retorted, eyebrow raised.
Regina tilted her head in Henry’s direction. “Do you always speak so freely in front of your son?”
With a roll of her eyes, she looked at Henry. “What do you say, kid? Do we always talk like this in front of you?”
Henry nodded. “Oh yeah. This is nothing. You don’t usually curse though. Once Emma did and you got really mad and wouldn’t let her come over for three days.” He turned to Emma. “Remember that, Em?”
“Oh yeah, I remember,” she replied. “In your defense, it was kind of a bad curse word, which Henry has agreed to never, ever say,” she added, nodding toward him solemnly. “At least not in our presence until he’s 25 or older, and maybe not even then.”
“Yeah, I got it,” he said.
“I see,” Regina said, and lifted her shoulders. “Or I should say I will see. I will learn this world’s customs and adopt them for myself. But I don’t know that I will wear my skirts quite so short.”
Too bad, Emma thought.
When the pancakes came, Regina took one look at them and didn’t breathe until she’d finished her whole plate. She drowned them in half a container of syrup, and mopped up as much of the sugar as she could with her final bite. Emma pictured her licking the plate, which she didn’t do, but there was a moment when Emma thought she’d go for it.
Bits And Bobs
- Fandom: SwanQueen
- Length: 73,268
- Author: chilly_flame
- Rating: M
- Photo credit: Its’OlgaRodina
Rating Guide: G= General, T = Teen and up, M=Mature, E = explicit
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