I'm so so sorry for the super long wait on this everyone! I do appreciate the reviews I've gotten on this story as well as all the follows/favorites. I love hearing what you guys think and that so many people have given this story a chance. I haven't abandoned it - not by a long shot. My writing just fell off there for a while, but I'm working to get back into it. I can't say when the next chapter will be, but I'm certain it won't take 6+ months again.
Thank you all so very much! Hope you enjoy! Feel free to leave a review if you want - I love hearing from you guys :)
Emma hung up the phone with a sigh. She'd tried getting a hold of Regina, but she'd gotten her voicemail instead and was forced to leave a message. It'd been a short one that asked that Regina call her back as they had a new problem with the Snow Queen. There was no point in telling her to meet her at Gold's because there was no telling when Regina would check her messages and in all likelihood, Emma wouldn't be there when she returned her call.
"Emma!" Elsa's voice called from behind her.
Emma sighed, but she turned around to face her newest friend. She'd known her sudden departure of the loft would cause concern so she wasn't at all surprised she'd been followed. Though, she hadn't been expecting Elsa. Not that she was interested in talking to her. She didn't want to talk to anyone.
"I know you don't want to talk," Elsa interrupted. "But running away isn't going to make things easier."
Emma's eyes widened. "I'm not running away," she objected. "I'm trying to fix it."
"I know," Elsa said, nodding. "But I also know you're hiding. You're trying to put distance between you and Killian."
"All I'm trying to do is find a way to return him to who he is," Emma replied. Though, there was a small part of her that knew Elsa was right. It was so hard to see Killian as a vulnerable young boy, and it made her miss him - the man he was - all the more.
Elsa frowned, and Emma knew she didn't believe her. But she had zero interest in continuing this conversation. They were wasting time.
Without a word, Emma turned and began to move swiftly down Main Street. She didn't have to look behind her to know that Elsa was following her. And thanks to her quick pace, she reached Gold's shop in a matter of minutes.
She walked inside, the chime above the door announcing her presence. Gold barely glanced up at her, his attention fixated on polishing a mantle clock. "Miss Swan," he said with a sigh. "What brings you to my shop today?"
"We have a problem," she said, stopping a few feet away from the counter where he was working. She didn't want to get in his way, particularly since she would be asking him to help one of his most hated enemies. Pissing him off before she could even explain the situation and ask for his help would be a bad move.
"You may have a problem. That doesn't mean I do," Gold replied. He looked up at her briefly as he said, "The only problem I do have is people coming into my shop constantly, even if the closed sign is on the door."
Emma glanced behind her, looking past Elsa to the shop's door. She'd had such tunnel vision that she hadn't even noticed the sign. Though, she hardly felt bad about it. They all needed to know what the Snow Queen was capable of so they could be more on guard.
"Sorry about that, but we need your help." Gold didn't look at her this time; he just kept right on polishing the clock. "Do you know how to return someone to their rightful age?"
Just then Belle came from the back room. "Emma," she said in surprise. Then her brow furrowed, picking up instantly on the serious mood. "What's going on?"
Emma was glad to have someone else to focus her attention on. She knew how Gold was going to react to the idea of helping Killian, and she hadn't wanted to see the look on his face when she told him. Belle would be more understanding, and - more importantly - she would force Gold to put aside his hatred and help.
So she took a breath and looked right at Belle. "It's the Snow Queen. She turned Hook into a kid."
Belle frowned, and even though Emma hadn't wanted to see Gold's expression, she couldn't help glancing at him. What she saw though surprised her. She had expected him to be practically gleeful or at least amused, a smirk on his face. Instead, he raised his head giving her his full attention, the rag he'd been polishing with sitting motionless on the counter.
"Did he retain his memories?" Gold asked.
Emma shook her head. "He kept asking for Liam, and he can't be more than eight. Maybe ten years old."
"And how did this happen exactly?"
Elsa stepped up then, moving so she was standing shoulder to shoulder with Emma. "I was with him when it happened, but the Snow Queen knocked me out. She clearly didn't want anyone to interfere."
"So can you do it? Can you return Hook to his rightful age?" Emma asked Gold.
"Aging someone with magic is quite simple. It's doing it and getting their memories to return that's complicated."
"But can you do it?" Emma pressed. She wasn't looking for explanations. All she wanted was a straight answer.
"Maybe if I knew how," Gold replied. "As the Dark One, it wasn't something I concerned myself with."
Emma's face fell, and she knew without looking that Elsa was frowning at her, no doubt wanting to take a page from her mother's book and give her a hope speech. Something she wasn't at all interested in. Not false hope anyway.
"We'll look into it though," Belle said quickly. "There are so many old texts. I'm sure there's bound to be something in one of them that can help."
Emma took a breath, trying to center herself and push away all the emotions that threatened to spill over. She looked Belle in the eyes. "Thank you," she said sincerely. She still wasn't sure Gold was willing to help, but she trusted that Belle would talk him into it if necessary. "Call me if you find anything."
Belle promised she would, and Emma walked out of the store. She wanted to be optimistic, but her hope had been that this would be an easy fix and she'd have Killian back to normal before the day was over. But of course this being Storybrooke, that wasn't the case. She didn't know how long Killian would be stuck as a child, but she knew the sooner they could return him to the adult he was, the better.
The Snow Queen had tried disposing of him before, and being a young boy with no knowledge of what he was up against just put him in even more danger.
Mary Margaret was sitting at the kitchen table, her plate of mostly eaten sandwich and chips in front of her. She and David had sat down to eat lunch, taking advantage of Neal napping to eat a quick meal. The urge to talk about what to do with Hook - Killian - had been strong, but they had both recognized it was pointless until Emma returned and told them what she'd found out. It was possible the Snow Queen's curse could indeed be reversed before the day was over.
Though, they both knew there was a good chance it could last for a minimum of a couple days. Worst case scenario, it would last much longer. Mary Margaret refused to think it could be something that would last forever because doing so would be giving up hope that they'd figure out a way to return things to how they ought to be - Killian to his proper age and their daughter happy once more.
From where Mary Margaret was sitting, she could see the couch clearly. Killian was still buried under numerous blankets, the small boy's body nearly swallowed by the many layers. Only his head was visible, and even in spite of being several feet away, she was able to make out the furrowed brow and deep frown on his face. Signs that he clearly wasn't having a restful sleep.
"That poor thing," she murmured.
David turned his head so as to look over his shoulder at Killian on the couch. As he turned back to her, he nodded. "I still can't get over seeing him as a child."
"Everyone has a childhood," she said.
"I know, but his was quite a long time ago. And it's hard to imagine him becoming the pirate he is considering how shy and soft spoken he is."
Mary Margaret studied Killian. She understood where her husband was coming from. Before today she probably would've assumed the same thing - that Hook had been a wild, rowdy boy who likely jumped into trouble without a second thought. Seeing him now though and the needy way he'd reached out for Emma asking her to stay with him…it was clear he'd been through more than any child should.
"Maybe that's who he is behind the pirate persona," she said quietly. She met David's curious glance. "We don't really know much about him, but he's obvious gone through some kind of trauma. I imagine the older he got and the more heartache he experienced, the more he felt the need to protect himself. Like Emma did with the walls she put around her heart."
The look on David's face told Mary Margaret that he got it, and she was beginning to see herself that Hook and Emma had more in common than she'd initially thought. She'd always kind of thought it was an opposites attract situation, and even though Hook had only been a kid for a couple hours so far, it wasn't hard to recognize there was much more to him than she'd ever expected.
Since Mary Margaret was watching him, it wasn't hard to miss the way the expression on Killian's face transformed into one of terror. Her heart ached at seeing the amount of pain displayed on the little boy's face, and she was already getting to her feet when he started whimpering in his sleep. It was a sound that struck her to her very core.
Across the loft, Neal also began to fuss and she knew it was only a matter of seconds before he would start to cry. She looked across the table at David and told him, "You get Neal, and I'll take care of Killian."
He looked at her in surprise. "Are you sure?"
She gave him a firm nod and, just as she'd predicted, Neal began to cry from his crib. It wasn't the loud wailing cry, but she knew he would quickly work his way up to it if his needs weren't tended to fast enough. Something David was all too aware of as well, and with a couple of quick steps, he was across the loft gathering their son into his arms.
Mary Margaret quickly moved to Killian's side. She wanted to gently rouse him from his nightmare before Neal's crying could jar him awake. Though, a brief glance across the loft at her husband proved he had it more than under control.
Now that Mary Margaret was right next to Killian, she could hear his quiet mumblings. "Liam, no," he was saying. "Please."
She put a hand to her heart, feeling like it was breaking just listening to him. His voice was full of pain as he pleaded with whoever was torturing him in the nightmare. It was a terrible sound – one that no child should ever have to make.
Without her even thinking about it, her hand went to the boy's hair and she ran her fingers through it. She'd watched Emma do it earlier and had noted the calming effect it'd had on him. Hopefully it would again because she wanted to bring Killian out of the nightmare as gently as possible so as not to add to his fear.
"Killian," she started, speaking softly, "it's okay. You're safe here."
She had no idea what he was dreaming about, but she hoped her words offered him some kind of reassurance that whatever he was seeing was just a nightmare. He still whimpered and moved about beneath her hand, but she continued the soft caress through his hair as she murmured words of comfort.
It took several seconds, but her touch and words did bring him out of the nightmare. His body jerked and his eyes flew open, even in spite of her attempts at reassuring him. And if she'd thought hearing him cry in his sleep was heartbreaking, she was sure it broke completely when he choked out a single word.
For a brief moment, Killian looked confused and as she watched him, Mary Margaret could tell the moment he realized she wasn't his mother. His blue eyes filled with pain, and he pulled himself up, moving out from underneath her hand. She pulled her hand back, but she remained sitting on the couch. He may be uncomfortable with her touching him now that he realized she was a stranger, but she wasn't going to leave him to deal with his nightmare alone.
"Sorry," he apologized, his voice barely above a whisper.
"You have absolutely nothing to apologize for," she told him.
Killian said nothing, and he didn't even so much as look at her. He pulled his knees to his chest, the several layers of blankets falling away from his body and pooling at his feet. His body shivered once, and Mary Margaret wasn't sure if it was from a chill caused by lack of warmth the blankets had provided, or if it was due to lingering thoughts of the nightmare he'd just experienced.
"Do you want to talk about it?" she asked softly.
Again, Killian didn't say anything. Behind her, Mary Margaret could hear David heating up a bottle for Neal as her baby cooed. She didn't take her eyes off Killian though, knowing that her son was in very capable hands. Even though she didn't know Killian well, she wanted him to understand that she was there if he wanted to talk.
Finally, after a long minute of silence, Killian spoke. "Liam is dead." He lifted his head and looked Mary Margaret in the eyes with a challenge that dared her to lie to him. "Isn't he?"
She was taken aback by the question…or rather, the certainty with what he'd said. David had told her that Killian had asked for Liam almost immediately, but she hadn't thought he would go to thinking his brother was dead on his own and so quickly. If she had to guess, it was likely a byproduct of the nightmare he'd had, and it just made her all the more sympathetic to the man-turned-boy sitting in front of her.
"I'm afraid so," she said at last. As much as it broke her heart to tell him, she knew she couldn't lie to him. To do so would be to ruin any chance of him trusting her – or any of them.
Killian nodded, like that was exactly the answer he'd expected. His eyes still filled with tears though, and he looked away from her as he swiped at them using the sleeve of his shirt. Mary Margaret had the urge to reach out and pull him into a hug, but she forced herself to remain still, knowing that Killian wouldn't react well to her trying to comfort him. Not right then anyway.
"How?" Killian started, but it came out barely above a whisper. He cleared his throat and tried again. "How did it happen?"
Killian looked at her, his sad, blue eyes staring at her as he waited for her answer. Something she didn't have. She glanced over her shoulder looking for her husband, and she quickly located him. He was sitting on the end of their bed, Neal tucked in the crook of one arm while the other held the bottle steady. As if David could sense her gaze, he looked up and shook his head. She wasn't sure if it meant he didn't know the story either, or if it was an awful idea to tell Killian.
"I don't know," Mary Margaret said, turning her head back so she was looking at Killian once more.
At first she couldn't tell if he believed her or not, and in the end she still wasn't sure. Because instead of pressing her further, Killian said, "It was my fault, wasn't it?"
The words were full of emotion, but there wasn't any doubt in them.
"Killian, no. I don't know what happened to your brother, but I'm positive you had nothing to do with his death."
"Liam always said I'd be the death of him," Killian said. She wasn't even sure if he'd heard her. He seemed to be talking to himself, like he'd forgotten she was sitting there. "I get into trouble a lot, and Liam's always taking the blame. Even when neither of us have done anything wrong. And now he's…"
Killian couldn't bring himself to say the word again, and tears ran down his cheeks in rivers. Again, Mary Margaret could feel her heart breaking. Yes, the little boy in front of her was technically a pirate who had recently started dating her daughter and he'd experienced all of this pain years ago, but in this moment, Killian had no memory of those things. For him, he was in a strange land with people he didn't know only to find out his brother had died. It was hard not to be moved by the emotion and pain in the boy's expression.
Unable to stop herself any longer, Mary Margaret reached for him, fully intending on hugging him as a way to offer at least some kind of comfort. Her fingers barely touched his shoulder, and he jerked away, backing himself further into the couch cushions. Tears were still flowing freely, and he looked at her warily as he scrubbed hastily at his face in clear attempt to regain control over his emotions.
"Killian…" she started, but her voice trailed off as she found herself unsure how to continue. She couldn't tell him it was okay because it would be a lie, but she wanted to say something that would comfort him at least a little.
As she struggled for something to say, David spoke. "Killian," he said. Killian instantly looked up at him, and Mary Margaret looked over at her husband who was now standing near the kitchen sink with Neal still in his arms and an empty bottle on the counter. "Whatever happened to your brother didn't happen until you were both adults. When you were both in the Royal Navy."
"Really?" Killian asked in a small voice, but Mary Margaret could hear the small bit of relief in the single word spoken. The pain was still present – that much was clear – but knowing that Liam at least made it to adulthood before his untimely death seemed to absolve at least some guilt for the young boy.
David nodded once. "Yes. You told me yourself."
Killian was silent for a moment, seeming to let this sink in. Then he looked back at David, his gaze now curious. Though, Mary Margaret could see the pain lurking beneath, and she realized the expression the boy was wearing wasn't too different than similar ones she'd seen on his older self. It made her wonder how she hadn't caught it before, but the answer came to her immediately. She hadn't bothered to see beyond the cocky exterior.
"What else did I tell you?"
Mary Margaret looked at her husband. She was aware that things had likely been said between him and Hook back in Neverland that he hadn't shared with her. Though, she couldn't imagine much had been said given that back then Hook had been aloof around them, providing assistance where he could but not saying much else beyond that. And now, Killian was clearly fishing for more information.
"Not much," David said. "We don't really know each other all that well."
Even though Mary Margaret knew David was telling the truth, she expected that Killian would push back and accuse him of lying. So she was surprised when he was quiet, his eyes fixed on his hands. He looked so pensive and much too serious for such a young child.
"But you're holding something back," Killian said at last, lifting his head. His voice wasn't accusatory, but rather matter-of-fact. Neither Mary Margaret or David could deny it because while they truly didn't know him that well, there was obviously a lot they weren't saying to protect him. He didn't seem to need to the confirmation though because he moved straight onto his next question. "What about Emma or Elsa? Would they know?"
"Elsa wouldn't because she's pretty new to town," Mary Margaret said. "You and her only just met recently."
"But Emma would."
It wasn't a question anymore. Killian had heard what she didn't say, and even though he didn't remember Emma, he was able to recognize she was likely the one who knew the most about him.
"I don't think you should ask her questions about Liam or who you are," Mary Margaret said.
Confused blue eyes looked at her. "Why not? If what you said about that woman making me younger is true, then knowing about my life wouldn't change anything."
"But it won't help anything either," David pointed out. "Besides, that was just a theory. For all we know, the Snow Queen could've made you switch places with the adult version of yourself. He could be stuck back in the time you came from."
Killian shot him a doubtful look, his lips pulled in a deep frown. Mary Margaret worried that they were overwhelming him – talking too freely about the situation and surely making him worry about the Snow Queen. It didn't matter he was really a pirate who had lived for centuries. Right now he was a little boy – one who needed their protection – and her maternal instincts were telling her that giving him too much information about the kind of man he'd been would be detrimental.
She glanced to the clock, wondering not for the first time when Emma would return because it seemed she might be able to get through to Killian in a way they hadn't. But as she registered the time, she sat up and turned her attention back to David who was rocking Neal in his arms.
"David," she waited until he looked at her, "it's almost time to get Henry."
David nodded, and he quickly but quietly moved to the bedroom area of the loft where Neal's crib had been setup. He carefully placed the infant inside before straightening. On the couch beside Mary Margaret, Killian sat up straighter, his blue eyes alight with interest.
"Can I come too?"
David froze in his tracks, and Mary Margaret's breath caught in her throat. They looked at each other, their eyes saying what their mouths could not. David couldn't bring Killian with him because he needed time to warn Henry what he would be walking into when he returned to the loft, and he didn't want to risk his safety should the Snow Queen somehow make another appearance.
"How about I make you some lunch instead?" Mary Margaret suggested. "You must be starving."
"A little I guess." Killian then rushed on to try to persuade her it wasn't a big deal. "But I can just wait for the next meal. You don't need to prepare anything special just for me."
Was there anything he could say that wouldn't cause her heart to ache? It seemed like nearly every word out of the boy's mouth offered some sad insight into what his life had been like – one that had been much too short to have experienced as much as he'd had.
"I don't know how special a sandwich and soup is, but I promise it's no trouble," she reassured.
Killian didn't look convinced, but he nodded. Though, he added, "I can help cleanup after to repay you for your kindness."
Mary Margaret found her gaze straying to her husband once more, sharing a surprised expression. It wasn't that she thought Killian was rude because of course he'd offered assistance in a number of menial tasks, but at the time, she'd thought it was partly in attempt to get on their good side since they were Emma's parents. Apparently though, that wasn't the case, and given young Killian's behavior so far, she was certain it'd come about from more than good manners.
"That's not necessary," she said at last, returning her gaze to Killian. But when Killian frowned, seeming unhappy with her answer, she quickly struck what she thought would be a good compromise. "Why don't we wait until after you eat and determine what you can help with then, alright?"
Killian didn't argue this time, and Mary Margaret took that as acceptance. She got to her feet, moving towards the kitchen to make another sandwich and heat up a can of soup. She only paused to give David a quick kiss before watching him go out the door to pick up Henry.
As the door closed behind him, she couldn't help but think of Emma and wonder how she was holding up.
Emma sat on a bench, looking out at Storybrooke Harbor. She had come down to the docks to try to clear her head, to get a hold of the emotions that threatened to overwhelm her. The very same emotions that had made her snap at Elsa and demand that she leave her alone for a while. She didn't care that her parents or anyone else wanted her to avoid being alone in case the Snow Queen made another appearance; she needed some time to herself to pull herself together. The last thing they needed was her powers playing off her emotions and making a bigger mess of things.
Normally the water had a calming affect on her, and she often gravitated towards it when she needed to think or just release herself of her worries, if only for a few moments. But today all it was doing was reminding her of what she stood to lose. Or rather, who.
Killian had become important to her in a short amount of time. It was hard to think back to when they'd first met and reconcile it with how they were now. Even when he'd found her in New York and had brought her back to Storybrooke, she'd thought of him as a friend – as someone she could maybe get close to – but she hadn't allowed herself to truly give into the feelings she had for him. Something that had changed after their trip to the past, and later discovering that he'd given up his home in order to bring her back to hers.
After that night, Emma had almost expected things to escalate rather quickly now that she'd finally let him in. Instead, he'd continued to let her set the pace of their relationship. Despite kissing on Granny's patio and a couple of dates, they hadn't been intimate with each other. He was being the perfect gentleman, putting her needs before his own. Just like he always did.
"Damn it, Killian," she mumbled to herself, falling back against the bench. "You're an idiot."
Her dad may have been the one to suggest splitting up, but Killian hadn't needed to agree with him. Maybe if he hadn't, things would've turned out differently. She would've been with him instead of Elsa, and maybe she could've somehow stopped the Snow Queen from inflicting him with her spell. Then again, given her inexperience with magic, it likely would've happened anyway.
"I'm not sure he would agree with you."
Emma didn't so much as move at the sound of Elsa's voice. She'd suspected Elsa had given her enough distance to allow for some privacy while keeping her in eyeshot. Knowing that she had a friend that cared that much about her safety warmed her heart, but it was also quite frustrating…and scary. The more people she cared about, the bigger chance there was of something happening and her getting hurt.
Elsa came around the bench so she could sit next to Emma. She continued, "I'm sure he would do it again without question."
"That's the problem," Emma replied. "I don't need protecting. I told him I couldn't lose him and yet…"
Okay, maybe she hadn't lost him in the traditional sense given that he was still alive, but she'd lost everything that made him hers. Killian was a child who had no memory of her. All of their history – all of his history – was gone. He was alive, yes, but it wasn't the same. And even worse than seeing him as a heartbroken, little boy was that he was even more vulnerable than he'd been as her…well, as her pirate.
"You've only lost him if you give up," Elsa said.
"I'm not giving up." And she wasn't. Killian never gave up on her, and the least she could do was return the favor. "I just…I don't know how I'm supposed to fix this."
Elsa leaned forward so she could look Emma in the eye. "With help," she said simply. "You don't have to go through this alone, Emma."
"Yeah, I know," Emma said, thinking of her parents and Henry. Then she thought of Belle doing research, knowing Gold or Regina likely wouldn't be able to do anything to counteract the spell until they got some answers. "But what if it takes Belle days to figure out what happened to him? Or weeks? Hook might not have that kind of time."
Her mind went crazy with the possibilities. What if the spell that had de-aged Killian wasn't a one time thing? What if it would continue to slowly make him younger and younger until he faded out of existence? Or the longer the spell remained in effect, the harder it would be to remove until it became permanent? The thought of never getting her Killian back made her heart ache in a way that still managed to surprise her, despite her feelings growing stronger for him every day.
The worst part was imagining the Snow Queen attacking them and targeting Killian, hitting him with a spell that would finally kill him. It'd been terrifying when she'd thought he was going to die at the Snow Queen's hand last time, but the fact that he was now a defenseless kid would make it ten times worse.
Emma felt her pulse quicken in fear at the thought even as anger had her muscles clenching tightly. Her blood pounded in her ears, and it was so loud she could barely hear Elsa saying her name. All she could do was picture the Snow Queen luring them into a trap and Emma being forced to watch Killian die, unable to save him. Killian with fear written all over his childish face who didn't know what was going on or who she even was to him. The image threatened to overtake her and might have if it wasn't for Elsa shouting her name.
"Emma!" she said, kneeling so her face was in front of her.
It startled Emma out of the image her mind had concocted, and she heard a loud pop as the lamp from a nearby streetlight exploded. She realized then the pounding in her ears hadn't just been from her anger but from the magic humming under her skin. Even now she could still feel it, and she forced herself to take a deep breath, doing her best to push it down and regain control once more.
"Are you okay?" Elsa asked, realizing she had gotten her attention.
Before Emma could offer up any kind of response, there was a loud "Mom!" and hurried footsteps. Hearing Henry's voice made Emma jump to her feet, and she turned to find that her dad was there as well.
"What are you guys doing here?" Emma asked, narrowing her eyes slightly at her dad. It'd gone unspoken that when she'd asked him to meet Henry as school let out that they would go straight back to the loft given they didn't want to risk the Snow Queen doing anything.
David gave a little sigh. "Emma, I-"
"Grandpa told me what happened, and I want to help," Henry said, cutting David off. He looked at Emma with a stubbornness she knew he got from her. It wasn't easy to sway him away from something when he got like that, but she couldn't have him involved in this. She would die before she'd let something happen to him.
"This isn't something you can help with, kid."
"Except that I can," Henry argued. "I know where Regina is, and I can bring her back to the loft."
Emma desperately wanted to fight with Henry and tell him to stay out of this, that it was more important to her that he stay out of danger. But truth be told, she and Regina were on shaky ground. Henry was the perfect person to act as a buffer between them, even as she hated putting him in that position. However, that didn't mean she was going to let him go off on his own.
"Not alone," she replied. "David is going with you."
Henry had no argument. If anything, he looked satisfied that she wasn't turning down his offer to help anymore. Her father, on the other hand, did have a question of his own.
"What are you going to do?"
Emma hesitated. She honestly wasn't sure what to do at this point. Not enough time had really passed for her to check in with Belle and Gold, but she couldn't do nothing either. It was just hard to imagine what else she could explore, delaying her return to the loft for at least a little longer. Then, it hit her.
"I'm going to talk to Blue, and see if she has any ideas," Emma said. "I'll meet you back at the loft."
David stared at her for a moment before he nodded. Elsa stepped closer to Emma, and she knew without looking at the other blonde that she planned on accompanying Emma to see Blue. It took real control to withhold the annoyed sigh she wanted to release, but she understood that Elsa's intention wasn't to annoy her with the constant shadowing but rather provide support.
Emma was grateful that she had so many people to count on, but she couldn't help missing the support that a certain pirate had always given her. She'd gotten use to having him around and offering her support – often without even saying a word. It was something she didn't want to live without, and she hoped she would never have to.