To Save the Saviour
Apart from showing signs of exhaustion, Emma looked as though she had survived being tethered to darkness well enough. Henry stuck to her side along with the Charming's just in case the worst hadn't hit her yet.
Killian was splitting his attention between Emma and checking on his Sister. Merlin's reassurance that Esmeralda should be fine wasn't very reassuring. She was slowly getting some of her colour back, but until she woke nobody knew what damage had been done.
Arthur's knights had ventured into their campsite bringing with them an invitation to join him and the Queen for a meal. Regina quietly pointed out that it might not be the best idea to have Emma near the couple dealing with a marriage crisis. Any negativity could trigger any residue darkness and Esmeralda was not currently in any condition to fight it off.
Charming had simply explained that one of their group was not well and they did not wish to leave her alone. However they were all honoured by the invitation. This seemed to give the knights a legitimate response to whatever feelings the King might have about his invitation being declined.
Robin had taken up guarding the hat. It hadn't so much as twitched since the darkness had been trapped in it. Yet it was still unpredictable and they were undecided as to what to do with it to prevent it from causing any more damage. Night settled on the camp and plans were made to return to Storybrooke.
"Mom." Henry handed Emma a plate of food. "What was it like? You know, being tethered to the darkness. Cause it was creepy seeing your name on the dagger."
"I was wondering that myself." Snow had never felt so helpless. As a Mother, she had wanted nothing more than to protect her daughter. And yet her daughter had taken on the darkness to protect her and the rest of the town.
Emma took a deep breath. "In some ways it's like being pulled in a thousand directions. Then in some ways it was a relief not being the Saviour. Not responsible with protecting or saving the town." She had never taken to being the Saviour and shouldering so much responsibility. Killian had made it easier. Always willing to help her or just be there for her.
"I'm glad you're back." Henry hugged his Mother. "I'm going to need my Mom to help me get a handle on being the Author. Both of my Moms."
Despite everyone else needing her to be the Saviour, it now occurred to Emma that Henry just wanted her to be his Mother. "Thanks Kid. I think Regina and I can help you with that."
"Excuse me for interrupting." Robin watched as the hat began to quiver and shake. "I think we may have a problem."
"Great. What do we do now?" Regina wasn't keen on anyone being tethered to the darkness, but she was at a loss as to how to stop it either.
"We need to send it where it will burn itself out." Merlin watched the darkness frantically trying to break out of its prison.
"Where exactly." Charming would happily battle ogres', dragons, Evil Queens and Knights. But this he didn't know how to fight.
Before Merlin could answer, the darkness burst forth from the hat and reached for each of them. Everyone took a step back before realising it wasn't touching them. It appeared to be trapped in a dome.
"Not now. I have a headache." Esmeralda stepped out of the shelter with Killian's support. She addressed the darkness as though it was a person. "Besides you're not my type."
The darkness twisted and mounded itself into a silhouette of a man reaching for her and yet unable to. For a moment it was entertaining watching it behave like a mime trying to get out of a box. It searched for a gap or weak spot to escape from, but Esmeralda's magic appeared to be stronger than ever.
"Es, are you able to send that thing somewhere where it can't hurt anyone?" Killian didn't want that thing anywhere near his women or the people he'd come to think of as family.
"Where exactly is that? A galaxy far, far away?" Esmeralda was not feeling the best and the darkness was really annoying her.
"Are you able to do that?" Killian just hoped it wouldn't take too much out of his Sister.
"It would solve a lot of problems if we could send it into a black hole where there is no one for it to tether itself to." Merlin hadn't thought of that as an option, but now it made perfect sense. He could add his power to Esmeralda's to lessen the load she would have to carry to pull this off.
"Are you up for this?" Emma was concerned by what this would do to Esmeralda. It already looked as though Killian was the only thing keeping her upright.
"Just make sure my Brother doesn't get into any trouble." Esmeralda didn't give anyone a chance to stop her. She grabbed Merlin's hand which held the dagger and raised it to the sky.
A fierce wind came forth and the sky opened up. The dome containing the darkness began to shrink until it was around the size of a basket ball. As they all watched the ball floated up into the sky and disappeared into the hole which sealed itself behind it leaving the wind to die down.
"Is that it?" Robin looked up at the sky. "Is it gone for good?"
"Yes." Merlin was confident there was no chance of the darkness coming back. Even though Esmeralda had been welding most of the power, he felt exhausted. "Time for a vacation I think."
Regina glared at him. "Vacation! You don't appear have to have done much. It's your fault the darkness was tethered to someone in the first place."
Snow watched her daughter cautiously to make sure none of the darkness had returned. "Regina's right Merlin. Look at the toll this had taken on Esmeralda."
Esmeralda wasn't entirely comfortable with all eyes turned on her. Especially considering she had found herself back on the ground with her Brother's arms around her. "I would really like to go home now." She preferred it when she wasn't aware of her powers.
"I think that's a good idea." Killian gathered his Sister up. He glanced over at Emma and Henry. "Ready to go home?"
"Yeah." Henry looked up at his Mother. "We've done what we came here to do."
Emma ruffled his hair. "Home sounds good." Her son was getting so tall that soon she would be reaching up to ruffle his hair.
Charming retrieved the hats as eager as everyone else to leave Camelot. "We go back as we arrived. Dinner at Granny's?" He desperately wanted to do something normal with his family.
"Sounds good." Snow smiled at her husband in understanding. "Let's go get our son from Ruby."
The trip back was slightly trickier as Killian was carrying Esmeralda. Yet they still made it back to Storybrooke in one piece. Some in better condition than they had left, others in worse. Merlin had waited until they had all made it through the portholes before starting to make travelling plans. France was beautiful this time of year.
Killian gently set his Sister down on one of the outdoor chairs before heading into Granny's to organize a room for her. She would be unable travel alone in her current condition.
Everyone else but Emma headed inside. Cautiously sitting beside Esmeralda, Emma wondered just how much damage had been done to her relationship with Killian by being tethered to the darkness. "So do you think everyone's going to be scared of me now?" More importantly, would Killian and Henry? After all, she remembered how her Mother had reacted when the Snow Queen had caused her powers to go out of control.
"Not the important people." Esmeralda smiled understandingly. "That dwarf I encountered the last time I was here will probably run around in a panic for a couple of weeks. Apart from him, everyone else will be cautious at first, but they'll get over after a minute or two.
"Henry never doubted I'd get back to being me." A feat that never ceased to amaze Emma. Her son truly did have the heart of the truest believer.
"He's an amazing lad." Esmeralda agreed. She saw Killian heading back to them and shook her head. Emma needed the freedom to find the courage to ask what she really wanted to know. Her Brother wisely stayed where he was. Close enough to hear what was being said, but far enough away to be out of Emma's sight.
"Killian kept me anchored, but there were times when I tried to bring him over to the dark side before you arrived." Emma admitted. She wasn't sure he would still want to be with her now that he had seen what she was capable of doing.
"My Brother would not have stopped loving you no matter if you had decided to stay in the darkness or not. He would have still found a way to bring you back to the light, because he loves you." Esmeralda reached out and squeezed her hand. "I've told you before, when my Brother loves; he loves with his whole heart."
Emma wasn't so sure it would have remained that way if Esmeralda had been more seriously hurt. "You must be missing Quasimodo." Eager to change the subject Emma didn't forget for a moment that the Gypsy had put her life on hold to help them out.
"I'll head home tomorrow." Esmeralda knew Quasi wouldn't want her leaving the Cathedral if she went home in this state. "Providing I send messages back to him, he won't worry too much." She glanced over at Killian as though she had just seen him. "Is there a room available?"
"Aye. Granny's just making the bed up for you." He sat with the two women so he was between them. "Your parents want you to spend the night at the loft Love." He turned to Emma. He would prefer that she spent the night with him on the Jolly Roger, but knew Snow and Charming wanted one night with both of their children safe under the same roof. He couldn't fault them for that.
"You don't want me to stay with you?" Those old doubts and abandonment issues were creeping back. "Or you could stay at the loft as well."
"I'd like that Swan." Problem solved. Everyone could get what they wanted for one night. "Why don't we join the others for something to eat that we don't have to kill ourselves?" He held his hand out to Emma while Esmeralda got to her feet a little unsteadily but by herself.
"Hey." Emma tugged on Killian's hand, while Esmeralda continued on into the diner. "You know I never stopped loving you even when I was evil, right?"
Killian brushed her lips with his. "Your actions spoke volumes Love. I have never doubted your feelings for me even when you doubted them yourself. Just so as you know, I love you too." He pulled her into his arms and showed her how much he loved her until Henry interrupted them for dinner with. "Get a room."
Another crisis averted. Esmeralda headed back to France the next morning and things went back to normal. Or at least as normal as they ever did in Storybrooke.