- “For your happiness, I would gladly give my life.”
- ―Ruth to her son
Ruth is a character on ABC's Once Upon a Time. She is David/Prince Charming and Prince James' mother, Emma Swan and Prince Neal's paternal grandmother, Henry Mills' paternal great-grandmother, and Lucy's paternal great-great-grandmother.
Ruth marries a farmer named Robert and has twin sons with him. However, their short-lived joy is crushed by the family's poverty and sons' illness. They wouldn't last the cold winter until Rumplestiltskin came along, and offered them a cure in exchange for one of their sons, who he wants to give to the barren king and queen. Ruth refuses, but her husband agrees to his terms. At the flip of a coin, James is chosen to be taken, much to Ruth and Robert's heartbreak. Six years later, Robert, now a drunk, tries to make things right. Unfortunately, he supposedly dies after crashing into a ravine, leaving Ruth to raise David, the twin which Ruth and her husband kept, alone. When he has reached adulthood and becomes a simple shepherd, Ruth discusses the prospect of marriage to a wealthy grain merchant's daughter, as the farm is in debt. However, David tells her that he doesn't want to marry anyone save his true love. She tells him that he can't have everything he wants.
Just then, Rumplestiltskin appears and disagrees. Recognizing him from long ago, Ruth tells David of his twin brother, Prince James, and how his father deeply regretted selling his other son. Rumplestiltskin says that he has died in battle, and now the shepherd is expected to take his place and slay a ferocious dragon, in exchange for saving the farm. David defeats the dragon, and Midas offers him his daughter's hand in marriage. David wants to refuse, but King George threatens his mother's life.
David returns home to the farm, and Ruth runs up, telling him that he looks just like a prince. She tells him that the king has already taken care of them and that they will live a good life. However, Ruth's son confesses that he can't stay and that he must marry King Midas' daughter, Abigail, in James' place.
Ruth begins to cry and tells him that they cannot force him to do anything. He tells her that they can, and that she can never see him again. Ruth gives him her ring and tells him to give it to his bride. "James" then leaves his tearful mother and the farm behind supposedly forever.
Prince Charming goes to find his mother again after he breaks the sleeping curse which Snow White was under and has her hidden away at a cottage. In the battle with King George, he tells Snow to go to his mother. Ruth is very excited to meet the woman her son is going to marry. However, King George's men are after Prince Charming, and they surround and attempt to capture him. He tells his mother to lock herself in the cottage, but fearing he had been hurt, she comes out to help him. He fights off the king's men, but in the midst of battle, Ruth is hit by a poisoned arrow. Snow White and Sir Lancelot arrive just then, but they are too late.
Prince Charming decides to go to Lake Nostos, to seek the waters for their magic healing powers; in the past, he had brought this water to Princess Abigail, who had used it to release her beloved, Frederick, from the curse which had turned him into solid gold.
During the journey to the lake, Ruth speaks to Snow White and shows her an amulet with a secret power. Her own mother had given it to her when she was pregnant with her twin boys. She claims that it has the power to predict the gender of the child a woman will give birth too, even before she is pregnant. By suspending it above a woman's hand, it will show the future baby's sex by the direction in which it swings. She tries it out on Snow White, but the amulet does not move. Snow White confesses to Ruth that she was cursed by the king and cannot ever bear children.
The lake is found to be completely dried up, but Lancelot is able to find a few droplets left of the water in a seashell. Ruth suggests Snow White drink the water so that her curse may be undone, but she refuses. Although Ruth takes the water, it seemingly has no effect on her wounds. Her last wish is that she could have seen Prince Charming and Snow White get married. Snow White decides that this is a wish that can be fulfilled, and asks Lancelot to perform the marriage ceremony immediately, for Ruth to witness. By the end of the ceremony, Ruth has passed away peacefully. Prince Charming says goodbye to his mother, and later burns a candle in her honor. It is later revealed that she only pretended to drink the water and then handed the real magic water to Lancelot for Snow White. Snow realizes that her mother-in-law had put the water in the cup she drank from during the marriage ceremony. Afterwards, the amulet swings over her hand, which reveals she'll have a daughter, she tells Lancelot that she knows what happened, although Lancelot claims that he didn't do so.
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