AN: I will be updating my other story after the OUAT finale; I haven't given up on it! This is set after Neverland but no curse or body swapping. Written for the lovely caskettshipper5657 who gave me this prompt, I hope I did it justice! Read and Review.
Emma was tired. Tired of sharing Henry with Regina. Tired of magic. Tired of the damn rain. Tired of thinking about the past. She was just tired and it felt like no amount of sleep was going to help. Emma needed a break from her overly optimistic parents, a break from Regina's scathing looks, a break from this hellish life she was living.
It wasn't that she didn't love her parents or Henry and she grudgingly respected Regina as a mother to Henry. It was just one of those days where she couldn't find the positive in any given situation. Maybe it was that she woke up late, or that her wonderfully pregnant mother decided that decaf coffee was only allowed in the house was the cause of her hellish day. Emma knew that those weren't the reasons, no her reason was because of memories better left untouched. One of her many foster mothers always told her the past only held ghosts and it was better to the let the ghosts rest in peace.
Emma was a quiet child; she lived in a world of books, a world where nothing bad could touch her. Books were her safe haven, they left her feeling happy and free, they were the only thing that kept her from falling in the darkness that some of her foster brothers and sisters had slipped into.
For only being six years old Emma knew the world was not always a happy place. People got older and would eventually die; sometimes they didn't make it "old" when they passed on. Others left on their own freewill. She knew that was called "suicide" and was something that no one liked discussing, especially when a six year old was in the room. She also knew that some parents allowed their children to talk them. Actually talk, about nothing and everything! Emma didn't have parents like that, but she had heard of them and they sounded amazing.
Emma walked up the stairs of her eighth foster home in six months silently hoping that her foster father wasn't home yet. When Kyle Brown was home he was usually drunk or on the verge of getting drunk. Her foster mother Jessica was a kind women but always turned the other cheek when Kyle was in one of his moods. Jessica always said that Kyle had been dealt a bad hand and this was his way of coping, he deserved a drink when his day didn't go his way. Emma couldn't help but think that maybe his day would go a little smoother if he wasn't drinking the previous night.
As Emma opened the door she breathed a sigh of relief. Kyle wasn't home yet and her foster sister Chelsea was in the kitchen. Chelsea didn't say much, but she would give Emma bandages when Kyle got rough and wouldn't keep Jessica occupied when Emma wasn't doing her chores because she was engrossed in a book.
"Are you ok?" asked Emma after a moment of silence. It wasn't like Chelsea to completely ignore Emma and she could tell something wasn't right; there was something about the way Chelsea was hunched over the kitchen sink.
Chelsea tilted her head to the side and let out a soft sigh, "Emma…go upstairs and bother Jason or something. I'm busy."
"Jason doesn't like me," Emma muttered, her foster brother was three years older than her and liked to push Emma. "Why are you just standing there?"
Chelsea didn't say anything, she just continued to tense and then relax. Emma walked as quietly as she could to see what Chelsea was doing, her six-year-old self was naturally curious and Chelsea was being secretive. In that moment Emma wished she wasn't curious, she saw red, a lot of red. Chelsea was bleeding, the angry red marks looked painful but Chelsea looked at peace.
"I'm getting rid of my pain." Grinned Chelsea, which made Emma shiver. "Always cut across, never down. Going down means never coming back and I'm not filled with that much pain yet. Maybe tomorrow. Not today though."
The knife in Emma's hand felt heavy and foreign in her hand. She didn't cook often but she knew how to use a knife safely and how not to use one safely. At this moment in time, Emma wasn't sure if she wanted to use it or put it back along with the rest of the kitchen utensils. Emma rolled her sleeves up to her elbows show her cut up wrists; they were almost like little badges. Little badges showing that she hadn't reached rock bottom just yet.
"Emma?" asked a soft voice, she could hear the concern though. Who held a knife in the kitchen without food around? She was sure her eyes were dead and her face pale. If only the town could see their savior now, they would certainly sing a different tune when she walked passed them.
"Yes, David?" Emma ignored the flinch her father used when she called him by his given name.
Charming wasn't sure what to say, his daughter looked lost, like she had given up on life. "What are you doing princess?"
Emma grinned, the grin made Charming shiver; it was not a grin of happiness or warmth. "Go back to the station, go to Snow or to Gold, I need a few minutes alone. I'm fine, I'm just going to clean up the kitchen or take a nap. Yeah, a nap does sound good."
"I don't think that's a good idea," stated Charming with more confidence than he felt, "I'm going to stay here and talk to my daughter. The daughter that I love more than life, the daughter who has given me an amazing grandson, the daughter who looks like she could use a father right now."
Emma looked up but didn't see Charming; she saw something that wasn't there, something that was twelve years in the past to when she was just sixteen.
Emma hated school! The kids were absolute jerks and the teachers were always trying to make it seem like she wasn't trying her best. She was damn it! Her foster parents weren't the ideal parents, okay that was an understatement but Emma was too tired to give them a proper description. This foster home was much like the others, two parents that didn't give a damn about her or her wellbeing. What made this home different was that she only had foster brothers. Five older foster brothers. Jealous? Yeah, you should be.
Emma didn't care about clothes or cars or even about money. She wore whatever her foster parents provided and tried very hard not to complain about the smell or the way they fit. Emma didn't complain about the God-awful food or the way her foster brothers looked at her in ways that brothers shouldn't look at their sisters. She knew she wasn't bad looking but she really did not need any more attention from older men, let alone men that were supposed to see her as a little sister.
Her foster father Craig was a real piece of work. Unlike her other foster fathers, he never touched her sexually or even came near raping her. No, Craig liked to use his fists to prove that he was a man. Emma had been raped twice and sexually assaulted on numerous occasions and had been physically abused more times than she could remember. She fought back, if nothing else, Emma was a fighter. On the days that Emma chose not to fight back she would release the anger and pain with a sharp cut. Some days a few cuts would make the pain go away, other days she needed a few more cuts and maybe a deep one to take the pain away. Today her foster brother Tony decided to grab her ass and tell her classmates how she had been throwing herself at him and how he would "toss" her one because he felt bad for her. Emma cringed when she reached for the knife she hid in her bedroom, she didn't like Tony at all and his words cut deeper then a knife ever would.
Relief. Sweet relief.
Emma watched the blood trail down her arm; it was as if the pain was leaving her little by little. Everything would be okay once the bad things bled away. Always across, never down. Maybe tomorrow but not today.
Charming stared at his daughter, his princess, lost in a memory that he would never be apart of. He wanted so badly to pull her in his arms and make the bad times fade into nothing. But he wasn't an idiot, he knew Emma would pull away and walk out of the apartment and never come back. Charming bit back a groan, he was failing at this parent thing and he wasn't sure how to get back on track. The scars on Emma's arm were making Charming sick, he wanted to know what caused Emma to self-harm. Why she wouldn't come to him when she was feeling lost, why she felt the need to harm herself to feel better.
"Talk to me," pleaded Charming "tell me what's bothering you and we'll figure it out princess. I promise."
Emma blinked, "You have a chance here David, you have a chance to raise your child. Take it and leave me be. Just leave! I don't need your help!"
"Dad," stated Charming "I'm your dad. Not some friend you met in school, not one of your foster parents. I'm your dad and I love you. Yes, your mother and I are having another baby but you're still our baby and we love you. I won't pretend that we aren't excited or that we're not looking forward to meeting our next child because we are. I'm sorry Emma, I'm sorry if you think we're trying to replace you or that we don't love you. That's not it; you mean the world to us and to see you in pain breaks my heart. Please, please tell me what's going on in that pretty little head of yours."
A tear slipped down Emma's cheek, she was too tired and worn down to try and wipe it away. "He calls me Emma. Sometimes he'll call me mom, but most of the time it's Emma. I gave him up for adoption, lied to him about his father and completely ignored him about magic causing him to eat a poisoned apple his adoptive mom- who is also his step great grandmother- gave to me. Why would he call me mom? I'm not his mom; I'm just the woman who gave birth to him. I wanted to give him his best chance! I really did! He called me Emma today in passing, he wanted to sleep at his moms house and said 'is that ok Emma' like I would say no or something. Maybe I'm not cut out to be a parent; maybe Regina should have custody of him. Is he happy with me? Daddy, is he happy with me?"
In that moment Charming didn't see a twenty-eight year old looking for the answer to parenting question, he saw a young girl asking her daddy if she was enough. Emma was asking if Henry accepted her, but he could read in between the lines. She wanted reassurance that she was enough for their family and that she would never feel like an orphan again. Tentatively he stepped forward and reached for the knife. Charming sighed in relief when Emma let the knife go willingly. He didn't hesitate to wrap his arms around his daughter while she felt the world around her crumble to pieces.
"You are enough," whispered Charming "you my dear are more than enough. Henry looks at you like you hung the moon and the stars in the sky. Princess, your son loves you more than you will ever know, he knows your heart is pure and good. As parents we all make mistakes, we crack our children without meaning to. That's our curse as parents; we always do or say something that will no dubitably be the wrong thing and they will remember that until the day they die. But what we do is have hope, hope that one day they will forgive us for our mistakes and allow us to love them unconditionally, to prove to them that even though we did hurt them, we still have their best interest at heart and that we will always be there for them. Right now Henry is confused, he has spent his whole life living and being cared for by Regina. He loves her and to him, that's his mom, the mom who raised him. We're all getting used to this knew way of life, you have to give him some time to fully grasp that you're his mom and you're going to be his primary care giver. That's a lot to take in princess, just give it time and you'll notice that things will become smoother and easier to handle."
Emma fell to the ground while Charming kept a firm grip on her, "I'm sorry daddy, it's just so hard."
Charming would hold his daughter as long as she needed, he would never let her fall down into the blackness. He knew that this was just one breakdown and there would be more to follow, but he would be there for them. He didn't care if he had to sleep outside her bedroom every night, or had to hold her till his arms went numb. His daughter would never feel alone again; she would never feel that self-harm was the answer.