Author's Note: It's Sunday and there's no OUAT for me. Don't judge me. Plus, I think mom!Mary and daughter!Emma are disgustingly adorable to imagine. Here's hoping they turn out to be like this. Dedicated to and inspired by my Sis; even though she'll probably never read it, there will always be an 11:33.
I'm unfamiliar with the inner workings of a family. I've read about it in civics; I've learned about it being the basic unit of society. I've seen examples of it growing and fading away around me and I've listened to stories of the struggles it must cope with when the time comes. I've seen it succeed and I've seen it fail; I've stood witness to its creation and expansion, but I've never had a family of my own to experience. I had no idea all of this was about to change.
Whenever I need someone to talk to, she can feel my hesitation and she offers me advice, and she lets me choose whether I want to accept it or not. When I've closed the door for anyone and everyone in the world and when I've thrown the key into a bottomless chasm, she is there to pick the lock like the King of Thieves – but she won't do it until I realize I've locked myself in and I need her help.
Whenever she sees me with the occasional cigarette pressed to my lips, her brow furrows and she gives me a lecture on the dangers of it and she compares me to her students even though I insist it's no big deal for me and that there's no need for her to be concerned. She knows I'm never going to be one of them; I'm always going to run in the hallways and I'm always going to insult my teachers. But she's trying.
Whenever I ask about Henry's situation at school – his friends his grades – she gives me a sympathetic look and assures me everything's okay, even though in reality, she's hiding from me the fact that one of Henry's classmates was picking on him earlier the same day. She doesn't tell me because she already has an appointment scheduled with the kid's parents and because she knows I would like to have a rough little talk with him myself. I can tell she's lying, but I also know she's lying for a reason.
Whenever I get reckless and when I try to sneak right into the murderer's den and look for a kidnapped kid, she sees right through me and she grips my arm, begging me not to go, to stop and think before I blindly put myself in danger. I think I'm made for jobs like these because I don't have much to return to. She doesn't know what to say to that and continues to hold onto me until I break and submit to her strategy.
Whenever I come to her place late at night after I've paid a visit to Regina, she is asleep and the house is dark. I stumble over to my bed and hiss as I hit my knee on its foot, careful not to wake her up. When I turn on the lamp, there is always a piece of cake or a sandwich waiting for me on the nightstand along with a note that says 'welcome back' with a cheerful smiley face scribbled at the bottom of it. Sometimes, a short word had been hastily scratched out between 'welcome' and 'back', and if I look closely, I can barely make out the H and the E, and I smile as I lay down and think of a tranquil forest up in the mountains.
When I wake up in the morning, we eat breakfast in silence – not the awkward kind that taps your shoulder to remind you you should say something, but the comfortable kind you wrap yourself in and let it lull you to Neverland – and she doesn't ask me anything, except for one single question.
"Are you sure you know what you're doing?"
And I don't allow myself to dismiss it as plain worry and let the question linger in my mind before I say yes. She smiles and hands me a cup of hot chocolate sprinkled with cinnamon.
Whenever I look at her, I know that Mary Margaret Blanchard is the closest thing I've had to a mother in a long, long time.