Emma's parents, Snow White and Prince Charming, are threatened by the Evil Queen, Regina, and decide that Snow and Emma will go through the wardrobe after visiting Rumplestiltskin who tells them she will return on her 28th birthday and save them all.
Eventually, going through the wardrobe alone, Emma falls pregnant at seventeen and gives birth to Henry whom she gives up for adoption and goes on with her life.
On her twenty eighth birthday, Emma tracks down a tax-dodger, Ryan Mason, who attempts to escape her and is knocked unconscious. She returns to her apartment with a cupcake and makes a mental wish: not to be alone on her birthday.
The doorbell rings, and when she opens the door, she finds herself face to face with Henry; he asks if she gave up a baby ten years ago, and tells her he is her son.
He invites himself in, and wants Emma to come back to his home, Storybrooke, with him. She does not like the idea, and almost calls the police, but Henry insists if she does, he will say she kidnapped him as she is his biological mother. Emma is not convinced, and uses her "super power" to figure out he is lying, and begins to make the call, but Henry stops her. He pleas for her to come home with him, and she reluctantly has no choice but to agree. On the drive home, he pulls out the book and tells her that all of it is true. She does not believe him and tells him that she can tell when anyone is lying. She tries it on him, and she can tell he is not, and says, "Just because you believe in something does not make it true."
When they enter Storybrooke, they meet Archie Hopper, Henry's therapist, who he claims is Jiminy Cricket. Through Emma conversing with Archie, she finds out he is the mayor's kid. Henry tells Emma that everyone in this town is a fairy tale character under the Evil Queen's curse. Emma takes him back to his house, where a worried and anxious Regina opens the front door and rushes to hug him. He runs past her into the house, and Regina meets Emma for the first time. After a short invitation into the house, Emma leaves to get back to her car, and sees Henry watching from his bedroom window. As Emma is driving out of town, she realizes Henry's storybook is still in her car, and in a split second she crashes her car into the town border sign.
The next day, Emma wakes up in the Sheriff's department jail cell. Regina comes looking for Henry, who has disappeared again, and thinks Emma might know where he went. Emma hacks into Henry's home computer, and they finally learn how he tracked her down in Boston. Regina and Emma head to the school to speak to Mary Margaret, who has no idea Henry took her credit card. With no leads in Henry's whereabouts, Regina leaves the classroom agitated. Emma and Mary Margaret chat about Henry for a bit, and she advises to try finding him at his castle playhouse.
Emma finds him there, and gives him back the book. Henry talks about the book and how it is Emma's destiny to be here. He speaks about his adoption, and how he knows she gave him up so he could have the best chance in life, which brings tears to Emma's eyes, as he begs for her not to go back. They hold hands as they make their way for her car. Once again, Emma brings him back home.
Emma decides to stay in Storybrooke and rents a room at Granny's, where she meets Mr. Gold - actually Rumplestiltskin who remembers his past life on hearing her name - who bids her good day. On her decision to stay in Storybrooke, the hand of the clock in the clock tower moves from 8:15, where it has been stuck for twenty eight years, to 8:16, meaning that the curse is breaking. (Pilot)
The next morning, Emma is visited at Granny's by Regina, who offers her a basket of apples; this only increases Emma's desire to stay in Storybrooke as she notes it as a threat.
Henry orders a cup of Cinnamon cocoa for Emma ay Granny's Diner - though she thinks it is Graham; when she confronts him, he denies it and Henry, finishing a slice of toast, reveals it was him. Emma asks him about the fact that he should be at school. He says he is ten and asks her to walk him.
The two discuss the curse and Emma goes to take a bite from an apple given to her by Regina. Henry tells her not too and throws it away; Henry then gives Emma the last pages of his book. He states that it doesn't matter that Emma doesn't believe - a hero never does at the beginning and it wouldn't be a good story if the hero did. Shortly after, the two arrive at the school and Henry heads into class telling Emma they can start on Operation Cobra later.
Emma visits Archie after Mary Margaret tells her that Henry is in therapy and he gives her Henry's file; later, Emma realizes she has been set up when Graham comes to arrest her, claiming that she used violence to get the file and pieces together that Regina is framing her. She is brought to the station for mug shot.
After school, Henry and Mary Margaret burst in on Graham who is snapping mug shots of Emma. Mary Margaret informs Emma - when Graham asks what Henry is doing there - that Regina informed Henry that she had been arrested. Emma attempts to protest, but Henry calls her a genius, says that he knows what Emma was up to - gathering intel for Operation Cobra - and that Mary Margaret is going to bail out Emma.
Once freed, Emma buys a chainsaw and cuts through the branches of Regina's apple tree. Satisfied with Regina's livid reaction, she attests that a shoddy arrest is not going to scare her off and tells the mayor to watch out. Despite the warning, Emma is quickly evicted from the inn due to the mayor's last minute reminder of a "no-felons policy". Next, her car is booted just as Regina calls to arrange a meeting with her.
In person, Regina apologies for her actions due to being afraid Emma is going to take Henry away. Emma's only concern is making sure Henry is fine since he seems so troubled. On further prompting, she talks about how he "can't tell the different between fantasy and reality" and that he is just getting "fatter and fatter, or so it seems from Archie's notes, due to using food as a comfort". Hurt and upset, Henry, who was in the doorway, calls her out on this and runs off. Emma confronts Regina on the fact and asks how she could have no soul, before rushing after Henry.
Hurt and upset, with a face splattered in chocolate and rubbing a thumb up and down the handle of Archie's umbrella, Henry is sat in Archie Hopper's office for a therapy session. When Archie asks him if the umbrella is why Henry thinks he is Jiminy Cricket, the upset Henry replies that he doesn't think Archie is anyone. Henry places Archie's umbrella onto the desk with a long, drawn out sight as Emma, holding the story book pages Henry gave her, appears in the door. Henry tells her that he doesn't want to talk to her and Emma interrupts, despite Archie's protests, to inform Henry that she stayed in Storybrooke for him, because she wants to know him.
When he calls her out on calling him fat and crazy she tells him that she doesn't think he is crazy but that the curse is and that, perhaps, the curse is true. He tries to protest, mentioning what she said to Regina; Emma informs him that she told her what she needed to hear and that she said it to throw her off. Then, she asks Henry that wasn't throwing Regina off the trail the whole point of Operation Cobra?
Instantly cheered, Henry claims it was "brilliant!" and watches as Emma informs him that she read the pages and that he is right - they are dangerous and Regina can never find out about them. She throws them on the fire and says that they have the advantage.
Henry leaps to his feet and hugs Emma tightly, stating that he knew she was here to help him. Though the hug is awkward to her, she replies that he is right and, as she wipes his chocolate splattered face clean, tells him that she isn't going anywhere and nothing, not even a curse, will change that.
The two, reunited, leave Archie's office, unaware of Mr. Gold and Isabella watching them
. (The Thing You Love Most)