Author's Note: This is it, guys - the end of the story. Thank you so much for your support and kudos and comments and bookmarks. I loved writing this story and sharing it with you and I appreciate each and every one of you who took the time to read it. Thank you.
Emma figured it would be best to start with her parents – mostly because she wanted to see them and more importantly, because they wouldn't yell at her for accidentally cursing them to forget their identities. But as they drove toward the loft, they passed several cars turning onto Main Street at rather high speeds. She glanced sideways at Killian and his arched eyebrow confirmed that they needed to make a detour.
She steered the bug into the line of cars and wasn't surprised to see they all appeared to be heading for Town Hall. The parking lot already overflowed with cars and people and the latest arrivals seemed content to park haphazardly, some on the grass and some just left their cars in the street in their haste to join the crowd pushing inside the building. Emma swung her car into the fire lane and put it in park while Killian muttered under his breath about the code violations being broken.
"Bloody hell, Swan." Killian stepped out of the car and closed the door, his eyes on her as she moved around the car to join him on the sidewalk. "Why do I retain this useless information about vehicle regulations?"
"It's just how it works," Emma replied as they followed the crowd of people toward the entrance. "You're a deputy so you have to know the laws and make sure people follow them." Now that she thought about it, he had written an awful lot of citations for traffic and other petty violations. He probably knew the town bylaws better than she and David did.
"The irony," Killian muttered. Emma didn't have a chance to respond because they'd reached the doorway and things were even more chaotic inside. People packed the corridor, everyone seemed to be talking at once or in some cases, shouting, as families sought each other out while others demanded answers. The mob of people gathered on Regina's lawn when the first curse broke flashed through Emma's mind and she tried to push her guilt aside to find the best way to start calming everyone down.
Emma spun around and saw Henry hurrying through the crowd. She caught him as he rushed into her arms and held him tight. She'd assumed he'd still be in school, but a broken curse obviously trumped studying. "Are you okay, kid?"
"Yeah." Henry pulled back from the hug and his eyes were wide with excitement. "We were cursed! I remember getting ready to leave town, but I also remember the new life where we've always been here!" He seemed a little too happy about being cursed, but Emma didn't have time to process that can of worms before he asked the question she dreaded. "Do you know what happened?"
Emma swallowed hard, not sure where to begin. She owed her son – and everyone else – an explanation, but words failed her. How was she supposed to explain that she'd been so desperate to keep her family together that she'd tapped into her magic? And if that wasn't complicated enough, she'd let them stay in this curse state for weeks because she liked seeing everyone happy? Not to mention she liked being happy and that made it easier to ignore how selfish it felt.
A warm hand settled on her shoulder and Emma glanced back at Killian. He gave her a reassuring smile and she sent him a grateful look before turning to face Henry once more. "I do. I wasn't cursed like everyone else." She hesitated and Killian squeezed her shoulder. "I…I caused it."
Henry's eyes widened even more, shock replacing his earlier excitement. Her son just stared at her for a moment and Emma braced herself for his anger, but it never came. "Cool!" Henry grinned and hugged her again. "You saved us from being separated."
Relief washed over her and Emma tightened her grip on Henry, while leaning back slightly into Killian, the need to be close to both of them overwhelming her. She doubted everyone else would be as understanding as they had been, but it wouldn't matter. They'd help her get through it and she knew her parents would too. "At first, I didn't realize I'd done anything. I'm still not sure how it worked."
Henry pulled back and continued grinning at her. "You're the savior," he replied like it was the most obvious thing in the world. "But wait…" His grin faded, contemplation crossing his face. "How did the curse get broken?"
Emma felt her cheeks flush and found herself at a complete loss for words again. She glanced at Killian, expecting to see a familiar smirk on his face, but he simply gave her a sheepish look and awkwardly reached up to scratch behind his ear. She tried to think of a tactful way to explain what happened, but her mind remained stubbornly blank.
"True love's kiss," Henry guessed, drawing their attention back to him. Emma's face grew even hotter, but she managed to nod, watching her son carefully for his reaction. Once again, he seemed unfazed. "Cool," he said. "So Killian wasn't cursed either?" Henry glanced at the man in question. "Can I still call you Killian or Captain Hook? Where is your hook?"
"Aye, Killian is fine, lad. As for the hook it's back at the apartment."
Emma could tell he was amused by Henry's enthusiasm and she also recognized the hint of relief that passed over his face when Henry seemed to automatically accept their newfound status, which she knew they still needed to discuss, but now was not the time. The crowd around them didn't seem to be getting any less impatient and there was a loud mixture of voices coming from the meeting room that did not sound pleasant. "It's a long story, kid, but we need to see what's going on in there."
Henry's expression sobered. "My mom is in there." More shouting came from the meeting room and Henry sent Emma a desperate look. "They're going to blame her for this even though she didn't do it."
"We'd better go set them straight," Emma replied. She put her hand on Henry's shoulder and steered him toward the meeting room, knowing Killian would follow. The crowd seemed willing to part for them and Emma immediately spotted Regina standing in front of the packed room, an unhappy look on her face. Robin stood to her left, Roland's hand tucked in his and her parents stood in front of them, trying to get control of the crowd as various townspeople shouted accusations at them.
Here goes nothing. "Hey!" Emma shouted. A few people glanced in her direction, including her parents, but most of them kept yelling. "Hey!" she shouted again, louder this time. "Regina didn't do this."
That got everyone's attention and for a moment, silence washed over the room and Emma felt each and every person's eyes on her. Killian placed his hand on her lower back and she took a deep breath, letting it out slowly as people started to mumble to each other once more. She knew she had to start talking before she lost what little control she had over the room. "Regina didn't do this," she said again. "It was me."
Another buzz went through the crowd and then suddenly everyone was talking at once. Emma saw her parents exchange confused glances before their eyes were back on her, identical shocked expressions on their faces. Questions seemed to be coming from every direction and Emma doubted she'd be able to get everyone to stop talking again. She turned to Killian. "Any suggestions?"
"Perhaps we could make a hasty exit and return to the apartment." Emma glared at him and Killian simply smirked and then he ran his tongue along his bottom lip and her mind instantly went somewhere incredibly inappropriate. "Not helping," she muttered. He opened his mouth, but then the ground shook beneath their feet and everyone struggled to remain upright.
The shaking stopped and Regina cleared her throat. "Miss Swan, I believe the floor is yours now." She stepped to the side and knelt down to whisper something to Roland. He nodded enthusiastically and gave her a big dimpled smile. Regina smiled as well and straightened up as Robin lifted the boy into his arms.
Emma waited for everyone to start talking again, but Regina's earthquake stunt seemed to have done the trick. "After Pan cast his curse and Regina did what she had to do to undo it, I didn't want to leave everyone, but I couldn't risk Henry being alone." Henry gave her an encouraging smile and she squeezed his shoulder. "As we drove over the town line, I wished that everyone could have the happy endings they were supposed to and somehow my magic kicked in and created this new reality."
A few murmurs went through the room, but most of the people were silent so she continued, wanting to get everything out as quickly as possible. "I woke up in Storybrooke the next day and I didn't really know why things were different." She left out all of the personal details, but explained running into various people with new memories. "I went to see Regina and she had her memories too, but neither of us knew why. We wanted to figure out who'd done this before we started telling people the truth."
Emma explained that they talked to everyone they knew of who had magic and she pointed out that everyone in town seemed happy and there were no new villains or major crime sprees to worry about and aside from a few more murmurs, the room stayed silent. Emma turned to look at her mother. "I had a conversation with Mary Margaret and I tried to explain about the happy endings." She watched as recognition dawned on her mother's face. "It didn't make sense to her, but Regina heard me and pieced together what I'd done."
She paused there and this time, the room erupted. Questions were once again shouted from every direction and Emma heard several people asking why. She wished she knew how to answer that. She tried to get everyone to stop talking again, but her pleas fell on deaf ears. "This is going well," she muttered, but only Killian and Henry were close enough to hear her with all the shouting around them.
"Everyone stop talking!" David's voice bellowed through the room. He stood with his hands on his hips and looked around, the expression on his face commanding everyone's attention until the room fell silent once more. "Thank you," he said in his normal voice. "This isn't like before. Emma wanted us all to stay together and that's what we wanted to, isn't it?" His eyes searched the room as he waited for someone to contradict him, but no one did.
"The curse is broken and we all have our memories back," David continued. "Some of us have three sets of them now and that'll take some adjustment, but we've faced far worse than this and came out stronger. We're home and we all have our loved ones. That's what matters," he stressed.
People started to talk again, but Emma noticed the conversations sounded far less angry this time. She sent a grateful smile in her father's direction and he nodded and gave her a brief smile before he addressed the room. "Everyone needs to go back to work or home or go have a meal at Granny's." He caught her gaze in the crowd and she raised an eyebrow, but then nodded. "Let's just take some time to process everything and then go from there."
Granny got up from her seat, followed by Ruby and headed for the door. Leroy and the dwarves followed along with Archie and Marco and slowly, people began to clear the room. Emma let out a relieved sigh and went to hug her father while Mary Margaret pulled Henry into her arms. "Thank you," she whispered to David.
"You're welcome," David replied. He hugged her tight, his hand cradling the back of her head. He pulled back and Emma turned and hugged her mother. "I'm sorry I didn't tell you. I thought about it every day."
Mary Margaret hugged her tighter. "You have nothing to apologize for. You kept us together." She pulled back from the hug and beamed at her daughter. "Henry was right. You brought back the happy endings again. You saved us."
"I also cursed everyone," Emma replied. She appreciated that her parents were on her side, but she still felt guilty for keeping the truth a secret for so long. "I didn't know if I should break the curse or not because everyone seemed happy with their new lives. But I missed you guys." Her voice cracked a little and she felt tears welling in her eyes.
"Oh, Emma," Mary Margaret whispered. She pulled her into another hug and then David wrapped his arms around both of them. "We're not upset with you. We might not have known you were our daughter in this life, but that didn't stop us from loving you. Nothing ever could."
Emma took comfort in that and pushed aside the little voice in her head telling her that she was an adult and shouldn't be crying in her parents' arms. She didn't care about appearances or the stupid walls she usually kept around her heart. She loved her parents and she wanted them to know that. "I love you too, Mom. Dad," she added as she turned her head to give her father a watery smile.
David's eyes glistened with tears as well and both of her parents hugged her tighter. Emma stayed in their embrace for another long moment and then Regina loudly cleared her throat. Emma pulled back and quickly wiped her eyes, turning in Regina's direction to where the other woman stood with her arm around Henry. "I can guess how you broke the curse." Her gaze drifted pointedly to Killian and then returned to Emma. "But what made you decide to do it?"
Mary Margaret and David both turned to Killian as if suddenly remembering he was there and Emma immediately saw the tension seep into him. His hand automatically went to his belt and he pushed his shoulders back as if expecting a fight. Emma recognized it as his defiant pirate stance and she knew he was worried about how her parents would treat him now. She held out her hand and Killian closed the distance between him and the group and took it, lacing their fingers together.
"It was the only choice," Emma told Regina. "I never meant to take away everyone's memories and I needed to fix what I broke. Life's about the moments, right?" She smiled at her father. "Everyone deserves to remember the good and the bad because that's what makes us who we are."
Regina rolled her eyes, but Emma could tell she wasn't angry. She briefly wondered what she'd told Robin when the curse had been lifted, but Emma doubted the other woman would confide in her any time soon. "So you made the decision and then you two broke the curse?"
Emma nodded and felt the color seeping back into her cheeks. She didn't particularly want to explain that they hadn't set out to break the curse and it had just happened after she'd admitted what was in her heart. That was between her and Killian. She assumed everyone else could just put the rest of the pieces together and she hoped they wouldn't ask any more questions, but she doubted they were that lucky.
"Wait," David said. Emma felt Killian tense beside her when David's gaze landed on him and she squeezed his hand as they waited for her father's question. "If you were able to use True Love's Kiss, does that mean Killian – Hook – you weren't under the curse either?" he asked.
Killian shook his head. "No, I was cursed too, mate." He paused and glanced at Emma. She saw the question in his eyes and knew he wasn't sure how much she wanted him to say. "I told him the truth the first night," she explained.
Her parents and Henry all seemed surprised by the revelation and Emma kept talking before any of them had a chance to say anything. "I needed to tell someone. Killian didn't get his memories back until the curse broke, but he believed me when I told him this world was a lie. He's been helping Regina and me try to figure things out ever since."
"That's why you started acting distant," David mused. "Both of you," he added, glancing at Emma. "We knew something was wrong, but we weren't sure what it was. Mary Margaret was convinced it was because she talked about the wedding too much."
"You did," Regina muttered. Mary Margaret shot her a disapproving look and then turned back to Emma and Killian. "I'm just happy that things worked out and that Emma wasn't alone. Now maybe we should take our own advice and get out of here? Dinner at Granny's?" she suggested. "Regina, Robin, you'll join us." Without waiting for an answer, she slipped her hand into David's and tugged her husband toward the door.
Regina rolled her eyes again and muttered something that only Robin could hear. Amused, he just shook his head and shifted Roland so he could wrap an arm around Regina. Henry trailed after them and Emma glanced at Killian. "How weird do you think this is going to be?" she asked.
"It's Storybrooke, darling," Killian replied cheerfully. "We'll consider ourselves fortunate if the she-wolf manages to take orders before the loud dwarf begins to shout about something or other." Emma groaned and elbowed him in the ribs, but he continued to grin as they walked toward the doors.
There were still people milling in the corridor, but the crowd had thinned considerably. Emma mentally thanked David for taking charge and then she spotted Neal standing near the doorway, hands in his pockets. He greeted them with a nod and a clearly forced smile. Familiar awkwardness churned in her stomach and Emma remembered how easy things had been between them in the other reality. She glanced at Killian and his eyes searched hers for a moment.
"I'll wait by the car." He squeezed her hand and sent a brief nod in Neal's direction, glancing back at Emma one last time before he disappeared through the doors. Emma appreciated his discretion, but part of her wished he'd stayed. She pushed it aside and moved closer to Neal. "Hey," she said.
"Hey back," Neal replied. He shifted against the wall and Emma could see that he was just as uncomfortable as she was. "So what's new besides you accidentally cursing an entire town?"
Emma laughed. "Not too much, actually," she replied as something else occurred to her. "Have you talked to your dad since the curse ended? Regina never did figure out how he managed to come back."
"He doesn't know either. Or he does, but he doesn't want to share with Belle and me. They're at the shop now." Neal shrugged and Emma wished she knew the right thing to say, but she didn't even know where to start. "Look Emma, I get it. I have all the new memories and us being friends was a good thing, right?"
She could tell from his tone that he was trying to convince himself more than her and Emma felt guilty, but her resolve wasn't going to change. "It is a good thing and I know it's going to take time to get used to, but we need to for Henry's sake. He needs both of us and Regina."
Neal nodded. "Okay," he said. "I just want you to be happy. And it means a lot that you want me to be part of Henry's life. I should go see what my dad is up to. Take care, Emma." He started to walk away and then changed his mind. "Oh and tell Killian that curse or no curse, I'm going to hold him to that rematch." Neal lifted his hand to wave and then made his way outside.
Emma smiled and some of the heaviness lifted itself from her chest. It would take time, but if they'd made things work in one life, they could do it in this one too. She slipped out the door and walked down the street to where Killian leaned against the bug. "Neal says he still wants that rematch."
Killian raised an eyebrow. "Aye, we shall have it then. Although it would be the first match since the other did not actually occur. And the rest?" he asked.
"It'll take some time," Emma replied. She slid into the car and waited for him to do the same before she started the engine. "So are you ready for a family dinner with everyone's memories intact?"
He sent her a wary look. "It's not too late to return home instead, Swan." Killian frowned and shifted in his seat to face her. "Do we still get to keep the dwelling now that the curse is broken?"
"I created it so we'd better," Emma replied. She hadn't really thought about it, but as far as she knew, everything in the apartment belonged to them just like everyone else had kept their homes and cars after the first curse broke. "But we still have to go to Granny's now." She pulled the car out of the fire lane and made a quick U-turn to head in the opposite direction.
Emma pressed a kiss to Henry's forehead and watched her son fight a losing battle with sleep. His eyes drifted closed and she quietly walked to the door, pulling it shut behind her. After several hours at the diner and many, many conversations with various townspeople, everyone had agreed to call it a night. It had been exhausting and so she was so happy to be home. Emma headed down the hall to the master bedroom and found Killian standing at the window.
He'd stripped down to his boxers and she took a moment to appreciate the view when he didn't turn around right away. "Henry's asleep." She closed the door at her back and moved into the room, dropping her phone on the nightstand. Emma stepped out of her shoes and didn't bother to remove the rest of her clothes, choosing instead to simply face plant in the center of the bed. She stretched out her arms and legs and buried her face in the comforter. "Who knew breaking a curse could be so exhausting?" she muttered.
Killian chuckled and then she felt the bed dip and his hand was on her lower back, sliding beneath her sweater to stroke her bare skin. Emma let out a content sigh, relaxing even more as his fingers traced her spine. "Isn't this the second curse you've broken, love?"
"Third," Emma replied. She turned her head just enough to stop speaking into the blanket. "Henry's sleeping curse and Regina's original curse were kind of a two for one deal. But I didn't really get a chance to be exhausted after that because I fell through a portal and ended up unconscious in the Enchanted Forest."
"Ah, yes," Killian said fondly. His fingers continued to trace patterns on her skin and Emma couldn't help the shudder that moved through her from his touch. She wondered if her body would ever stop being so aware of his. She hoped not. "And then you met a handsome pirate. I remember the tale well."
Emma rolled her eyes. She didn't need to see him to know the smug expression he likely wore. "I seem to recall meeting a lying blacksmith there." His hand stilled on her back and she finally chanced a glance at him. It was her turn to smirk when she saw the pouty look on his face. "Is something wrong, Captain?"
"On the contrary," Killian replied. He removed his hand from her sweater and trailed it up her back, tangling his fingers in her hair. "The stories you told me while I was without my memory were quite revealing." He tugged on her hair with just enough force to send another shudder rippling through her.
"Pirate," Emma muttered. She let out a surprised squeak when she felt his bare chest pressed against her back, his weight pushing her gently into the mattress as his warm breath touched her ear. "And don't you forget it, love." He straightened up and she instantly missed the feel of him against her.
He trailed his hand over the back of her leg and Emma let out another sigh and closed her eyes. "I dare say the evening went surprisingly well," he commented.
Despite her exhaustion, Emma agreed. The new memories everyone possessed made it a lot less awkward to sit down to dinner with her parents and Robin and Regina. Henry and Roland had lightened the mood whenever things veered toward the uncomfortable – like when her father had asked Robin about suddenly finding himself in the modern world. Emma waited for Regina to turn him into ash, but Robin had answered and then the boys filled the silence that followed.
Other people had wandered in and out of the diner all night with questions and Emma had done her best to answer them. Gold and Belle picked up dinner and the man remained evasive on how he'd managed to get back, but his brief appearance hadn't caused any trouble so Emma counted it as a win – for now. If there was more to the story, the details would come out eventually like every other secret people tried and failed to keep in this town.
"Swan?" Killian's voice brought her back to the present and Emma rolled onto her back, sending him a sheepish look when she met his gaze. "Sorry, what were you saying?"
He smiled at her. "Nothing of any importance," Killian replied. He shifted closer and leaned down to press a kiss to the tip of her nose. "You should get some rest. Things will be lively at the station tomorrow when more people wander in with questions."
Emma groaned. She knew he was right, but she really didn't want to think about it at the moment. "I'm going to miss the once a week drunken disorderly complaints. Good thing I've got three deputies now to pawn my work off on." Even though she was teasing him, Emma had a feeling the extra help would come in handy.
Killian laughed, but Emma noticed the humor didn't quite reach his eyes. She pushed herself into a sitting position and reached out, cupping his cheek in her palm. Emma didn't like that something was bothering him and she couldn't tell what it was. "What's going on in that head of yours?"
He sent her a sad smile. "Perhaps now that everyone's memories have returned, it might not be wise to have a former pirate helping to police the town."
Emma scoffed, but then she saw a flicker of something in his eyes and realized how serious he was. "Killian, you've been a great deputy. It doesn't matter what happened in the past. I don't care about that. I care about now and if a former thief can be a sheriff, I don't have a problem with a former pirate being a deputy along with another former thief," she added, thinking of the stories Robin had told them at dinner. "I need you."
A genuine smile crossed his face and the look in his eyes warmed her heart. Emma hated that he doubted himself now that his memories returned, but she refused to let him think that he was anything less than the hero she'd seen him be. "We do make quite the team," he commented.
"Yeah, we do," Emma agreed. She shifted closer and pressed her lips against his. "A devilishly handsome pirate told me that once." She felt him grin and kissed him again. "Now can we please go to sleep before someone calls to tell us there's a new crisis?" She tugged on his arm, attempting to pull him closer to the pillows.
But Killian refused to budge and Emma let out a frustrated sigh and fell back against the pillows. He remained undeterred by her behavior. "I believe there's one more thing we still need to address, Swan." She made a face, wondering what could possibly be more important than sleep. Before she could ask, he tapped his finger against his lips and gave her a pointed look.
Emma was more than tempted to put the conversation off once more, but she had a feeling Killian wouldn't let it slide a second time. She'd been dancing around the topic since the kiss happened and she had no idea how to even begin to talk about something so huge. She could feel his eyes on her and Emma forced herself to meet his gaze, even as her heart started to pound ridiculously fast in her chest.
"Killian," she started and then immediately paused. "I…"
His expression softened and he stretched out on the bed beside her, propping himself up on his elbow. "It's all right. We don't need to talk about it now. Are you planning to sleep in your clothes?"
She could hear the teasing in his voice and knew he meant what he said about dropping the conversation. Emma wanted to because she hated talking about her feelings and she didn't even know what to say because their kiss broke a curse, which could only mean one thing. Even though the kiss had shocked her, Emma knew how she felt. And after everything Killian had done for her, she wanted – needed – to say the words.
Emma shifted to sit up again and he followed suit, his blue eyes watching her closely. She swallowed hard and tried to summon her nerve, but it seemed more elusive than ever. Killian reached out and brushing his knuckles across her cheek. Emma met his gaze and he smiled at her, familiar love and hope shining in his eyes. She had no idea what she'd done to deserve this man who loved her so much, but she was grateful for whatever it was.
"I couldn't have gotten through this without you, Killian." Emma placed her hand over his heart. "You believed in me even when you had no memories of everything we'd been through and what I told you wasn't exactly reassuring. I don't think I can ever tell you how much that means to me."
Color rose in his cheeks. "Swan…"
"No, I'm not done yet," Emma replied. Words might not be her strong suit, but she owed him this, and even more than that, she wanted to tell him. "You did win my heart and I do want you." Her voice shook a little, but Emma held his gaze and kept talking. "I know our life won't be like it was under the curse, but I don't care." She gestured around them. "This is what I want with you and with Henry and my parents – our family." Her voice cracked again and Killian brushed a stray tear from her cheek. "I love you."
If possible, he looked at her with even more love in his eyes and she let go of the fear and leaned into him, gently touching her lips to his. She felt the same jolt of electricity and the familiar hum of her magic, just beneath her skin as he kissed her back, his mouth moving slowly over hers.
Killian broke the kiss and slid his hand from her cheek into her hair, pulling her closer and mating his forehead to hers. "I love you too, Emma. I will love you until my dying breath." His mouth found hers again and Emma could feel his promise pouring into the kiss. She returned it just as fiercely while her heart beat frantically in her chest. For the first time in her life, Emma knew without a doubt that she'd finally found her home.