In the world where fairy tales and the modern-day are about to collide, nothing will be the same again. A 10-year-old boy, Henry, found his mother Emma Swan, who abandoned him when he was a baby, and believes that she comes from an alternate world. According to his book, the epic battle for the future of both worlds is beginning and they need her help.
Cora Mills is Regina's mother, with arguably more powerful magic and more evil than her. Cora the daughter of a local poor, drunken miller, similar to the Miller's Daughter in the Rumpelstiltskin story.
Cora delivers flour to the castle of King Xavier, but is degraded by the petty and cruel noble court. Cora claims she can spin straw into gold and save the kingdom. Xavier states that if she can, she will have his son Prince Henry's hand in marriage, but if not, she will be killed. She is then approached by Rumplestiltskin who states that he will teach her to spin the straw into gold if she agrees to give him her first born child. She agrees, managing the task and accepting Henry's hand in marriage.
Cora is again approached by Rumplestiltskin who changes his deal to claim whatever child Cora suggests to him. She plans to run away with him but chooses power over love, ripping her own heart out to avoid giving into her feelings for him. She marries Henry, and gives birth to Regina.
An older Cora shows to be a controlling mother towards Regina, feeling that she does not act like a proper lady and wants her to achieve a high status in life. Cora's designs on taking over the kingdom begin with a plot to kill Queen Eva (Snow White's mother) by fatally poisoning her to make Regina Queen. She then causes Snow's horse to become wild, knowing that Regina would save her. Cora uses this opportunity to arrange a marriage between Regina and Snow's father King Leopold.
However, Regina is in love with the stable boy Daniel, a secret that Snow innocently informs Cora of. Cora then kills him believing such a marriage would ruin her plans of royalty. Rumplestiltskin later gives Regina a gateway to Wonderland, which she forces Cora through after becoming unbearable to her. Trapped in Wonderland, she becomes the Queen of Hearts. When Captain Hook is sent to kill her by Regina (who does not want her mother following her to the new land created by the curse), Cora instead collaborates with him, shielding part of the Enchanted Forest from the curse and freezing them in time for 28 years.
After the curse is broken and Mary Margaret (Snow White) and her daughter Emma Swan are transported to the remaining Enchanted Forest, they encounter Cora who acts as a prisoner in the safe haven. When Cora finds out that Regina and her adoptive son Henry are in Storybrooke, it is revealed that she killed Sir Lancelot had been posing as him. She retrieves the magical wardrobe's remains and teams with Hook to travel to Storybrooke, only to find Emma and Mary Margaret who use the waters of Lake Nostos to return to Storybrooke instead. However, Cora and Hook follow them using a magic bean.
Once in Storybrooke, Cora impersonates Regina to supposedly kill Dr. Archie Hopper (Jiminy Cricket), thus causing Regina to lose everything. She then turns a rehabilitating Regina back to evil by playing on her love for Henry. She seeks out the Dark One's dagger to kill their enemies, though Regina returns her heart which, unbeknownst to her, has been poisoned by Mary Margaret with the same candle that Cora poisoned Snow's mother with. Upon possessing her heart, she loves Regina truly, until she dies in her arms. Regina holds Mary Margaret responsible and vows to avenge her mother.
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