Chapter 17:

They held a ball in celebration. They weren't going to at first, because of her 'death', but now that Emma had awoken they saw no reason not to.

Emma sighed and ran her fingers through her hair tiredly. She really didn't want to party. That was probably the last thing she wanted to do. After everything that had happened she just wanted to relax with her family and try to forget a certain imp ever existed.

But as her mother pulled her along the corridor to get ready, she knew that wasn't going to happen.

"But mo-ooom! I don't wanna go!" she whined childishly. Snow shook her head in exasperation. "Emma, how many times have I told you?"

Emma rolled her eyes, bracing herself for the same speech. "We need some happiness back in our world. Now that it's finally over, we need to celebrate!" at this Snow looked over her shoulder to smile at Emma, "We're finally together. There's no more danger or evil looming over us anymore."

Snow slowed down, bringing her hands to Emma's shoulders gently. "Everything is finding its balance again. Peace is finding our land once more. The people need to know that an era of happiness is once more upon us." She smiled brightly, "Do you understand why this is so important?"

Emma nodded. She did know this. She knew it was very important, but that didn't change the fact that she just wanted to not go.

But she'd do it. To make her family happy.

Snow, seeing her daughter give in, began to drag her once more down the hall. She rushed Emma into the room and the seamstresses immediately got to work. Emma stayed quiet, not even attempting to grumble under her breath. She just wanted all of this done with and over.

She let her mind wander, anywhere but where it wanted to most…what had happened 24 hours earlier.

He had kissed her awake.

That had to mean something…right? Her mother had been awoken by her father with True Love's Kiss. Her father had been awakened as well by her mother from his coma in Storybrooke. Aurora had been awoken by Prince Phillip. There was a pattern and it all had to do with a kiss.

Did he love her?

She had been thinking about it nonstop. There are so many different types of love though. Did he love her romantically, platonically, sexually? Did he truly love her?

Or was he able to because of his own powers?

She hadn't been able to draw up the courage to talk to him about it. When Belle had run into the room to his aid, she had gotten the sense that…it didn't matter if he loved her or not. He still had Belle, and if that's who he chose, then she'd honor that.

She hadn't seen him with Bae yet though. She hoped she would at the ball tonight. If he showed up, that is. Belle would probably make him though, she guessed.

"And…done." The head seamstress's voice snapped her out of her thoughts. Emma looked up and her eyes caught on her reflection. She looked…beautiful.

Normally she didn't associate herself with any adjective of the sort, not thinking too much of her image. But…she guessed there really was magic here, because these women seriously worked some.

It was a gown, light purple in color, with a halter neck style and a corset surrounding her abdomen. The skirt brushed the ground lightly and swayed gently. Her hair seemed golden, shining brightly in the glow of the light. Her face looked youthful, all the tired lines that had adorned her features for as long as she could remember were gone.

She looked…really really good.

As she stared in awe at herself, her mother came up from behind her. In her hands she carried a tiara. It was delicate looking and very valuable. Snow gently placed it on Emma's head, adjusting it to where it lay just right. It completed the image: she looked like a princess. Like royalty. For the first time she felt like someone she'd read about in her fairytale books as a child.

Snow rested her chin on one of Emma's shoulders, looking at them both in the mirror. "You look lovely, Emma." A watery grin rose up and Snow quickly reached up to brush the tears away before she ruined the makeup. Emma could feel a lump building up too, but was quick to squash it back down. She turned around and hugged Snow.

"Thank you," she whispered. Her mother wrapped her arms tightly around her. "For what?" Snow asked, and Emma could hear in her voice that she had lost the battle with her emotions. Emma squeezed tighter, "For everything. For believing in me, for being there, just…everything."

Snow didn't answer, just buried her face into Emma's hair. The two stood there for a moment before Snow pulled back, wiping her eyes and tidying herself up. Emma sniffed and blinked her eyes, brushing down her dress and pulling her shoulders back. She caught her mother's eye for a second.

They burst out laughing. "Look at us! We're a mess!" Snow put a hand to her stomach, she was laughing so hard.

When James and Henry walked in and saw them the two still didn't stop. Not until Henry hesitantly asked what was wrong did they start to quiet.

"Oh, it's nothing, kid, don't worry." Emma smiled at her son, "Just letting off some steam."

Henry gave her a weird look, "O…kay…" he trailed off. He perked up then, "You ready to party?" He grinned up at her, excited for the night ahead.

She forced a grin in return, "Yea, of course!" He didn't seem to realize how she really felt and Emma felt relief rush through her when he grabbed her hand and began trotting out the door. Her parents followed, and Emma could hear them snickering at her. She rolled her eyes good-naturedly. She gripped Henry's hand tighter.

The party kicked into high gear pretty quickly. Everyone was in a celebratory mood- drinks were being passed, dances were accepted, and people were talking with everyone. Not one frown could be seen.

Emma was even having a great time. She was smiling and laughing and spending time with her friends. She even danced a few times.

But she couldn't help that niggling feeling in the back of her mind. She wondered if she'd ever be able to attend a ball and be fully happy.

The door opened once more for another guest, and Emma knew she probably wouldn't.

From her spot at the thrones she could see Rumplestiltskin walking with Belle and a boy that looked remarkably like Henry. And once again they walked straight to where she was. She clenched her jaw, she didn't need this now.

Both bowed to the Charming family, who coincidentally were all catching their breath from dancing at the same time. Henry got up and ran to his father, giving him a hug. Rumplestiltskin looked shocked at the contact, but awkwardly placed his hands on the boy's shoulders, patting them. Henry grinned up at him and moved away. He smiled at the other boy, who looked at him curiously. "Hi, I'm Henry," her son greeted, "Are you Baelfire?" He struggled a bit with pronunciation, but he didn't butcher it. The boy nodded, smiling, "Yes. Are you…Henry?" He repeated his half-brother's struggling, the name foreign to him as well.

Henry nodded eagerly, "Yup!" He paused, biting his lip, "If you don't mind me asking…where were you this whole time?" Emma waited with bated breath, interested in the answer.

Bae smiled, "I was in Neverland. I was one of Peter Pan's Lost Boys," he sounded proud of his occupation and Emma felt a childlike giddiness at hearing his explanation. Henry shared her feelings as he seemed to be holding back from bouncing up and down. "That's so cool! I'd love to hear about your adventures!" he hesitated, "If…you don't mind, that is…?" Bae shook his head, smiling, "It's perfectly fine, I'd love to tell you." He gestured with his head, "And, if you'd like to know, Captain Hook, one of Peter's most fearsome adversaries is right over there. I'm surprised he's even here, but he seems to have worked a truce out with Peter." Henry's head whipped over so fast Emma worried he'd get whiplash. She looked in the direction as well, curious to see what this villain looked like here since she didn't see him on the battlefield during the fight.

What she saw was something she didn't expect. He looked completely different. The only similarities were the dark hair and facial hair, and the hook. He was a young man, tall and angular and he was currently chatting up Princess Aurora. Emma blinked at this, not expecting that either. Next to them was Mulan and Phillip and they seemed to be in their own little world. Emma couldn't believe what she was seeing.

Henry seemed to get over it quickly though, his face lit up. "This is so awesome!" Bae grinned and agreed. The two walked over to the side and continued their conversation, both happy that they finally had someone their age that they could be friends with and talk to.

And then the adults were left alone. No one talked until Rumplestiltskin perked up with a smirk, "Hello, your Majesties. Such a fine evening, is it not?"

Snow and Charming nodded, both smiling at him. They had both gotten over their unease around the imp, and after much needling from Henry, had grown to accept his presence. And Emma knew he'd die than admit it, but her dad secretly liked hanging out with Rumplestiltskin.

Despite the music still going full blast, an awkward silence filled the small group. Belle, who knew what was causing it, tried alleviating it, "You've thrown a lovely party, thank you so much for inviting us. It's great that we have something to celebrate after such dark times."

Snow pointedly glanced at Emma, her expression clearly saying 'I told you so', before turning back to the beauty, "Thank you, Belle, that's very kind. It's the least we could do for the people, we deserve some fun."

Belle nodded in agreement. She was about to open her mouth again but the opening of the doors drew her attention. Emma tried to see who it was, but the crowd was in her way. Belle, however, could see and immediately turned to Rumplestiltskin. She whispered something in his ear and he nodded, smiling at her. She returned it, and Emma felt her heart squeeze. This sucked.

But then Belle did something Emma didn't expect. She looked back at the Charmings, "Excuse me, your Majesties," and turned on her heel without waiting for a reply and rushed towards the doors. The crowd parted for her and she shouted a name that caught Emma by surprise.


At the other side of the crowd, Jefferson looked up at the sound of his name. Grace stood beside him, a secret knowing smile adorning her delicate features. Jefferson caught sight of Belle and his eyes widened. Belle took off at him, her dress flying around her, but she did not care.

When she reached him, she flung her body at him and he caught her without thinking. Her arms wrapped around his neck and she brought her lips to his passionately. He stood there in shock, but when she moved her mouth against his he was quick to respond then. He gently put her back to the ground and brought a hand up to tangle in her hair and rest a thumb on her cheek. Belle gripped his jacket and hair, trying to pull him closer, not caring about the audience that surrounded them. She pulled slightly away to whisper something to him. Once again, Emma couldn't hear but she assumed it was good when his face lit up in a grin and he picked her up and spun her around. He kissed her again and Belle was laughing happily.

Grace stood beside them, smiling up at them in joy. She briefly glanced towards the thrones and Emma saw Henry stiffen out of the corner of her eye. Grace beamed in this direction and Emma could distinctly see the tips of Henry's ears turn pink. She grinned as Bae elbowed him good-naturedly, teasing him already. Henry said something to him and Bae immediately stopped laughing, a blush covering his cheeks. He glanced in the direction of a young girl Emma had never had the chance to meet. He looked away before the girl saw him.

Watching this display…she hated to admit it even think it, but she felt hope flicker inside her. She didn't want to believe this was her chance, that this meant something. What if it wasn't?

Despite her denial, she still felt her feet moving towards Rumplestiltskin. He was watching the happy couple along with everyone else. Tilting her head to the side she could see that his expression was clear, there was no anger or jealousy written on his face. When he felt her near, he turned to her, and she saw that there was none in his eyes either.

He smiled gently at her and her heart thumped painfully in her rib cage. No, she couldn't believe it, not yet.

She gestured with her chin at the couple that were still embraced but were now chatting with Grace. "Didn't see that one coming. But they look like this was a long time coming." The question was unspoken, but he heard it nonetheless.

He nodded in agreement, "Yes, I suppose it was, princess." She waited for him to elaborate and he could see it in her expression, "He was there for her when I was not. I think she has been in love with him for a long time, she just didn't realize it."

Emma paused, "…What about you?" she hesitantly asked. He shrugged, "What about me?" he turned his head to her, his eyes softening when they caught hers. "I don't think we were ever really in love. We just thought we were." It was his turn to pause, he looked away from her, "Besides, I think it works better this way."

Emma cocked a brow, "Oh really, and how do you figure that?" she crossed her arms and waited expectantly. A grin twitched on his lips. "Oh I think you know the answer to that, love." He turned back to her, his eyes holding an indefinable emotion. Emma's breath caught, but she refused to show any expression. "Do I?"

He smirked and came closer, invading her personal space. She didn't mind it at all, she realized.

"Yes," he whispered, "I think you do." And then he waited for her. His face lost its confidence and Emma realized that he was just as scared and nervous as she was about this. Both had had bad luck in this department in the past, their trust issues were phenomenal, so this was all very new to them. She swallowed thickly.

Leaning forward slowly she locked gazes with him, her answer clear in her eyes. She did know. Right when she was about to reach her target, he lost his patience and finished it halfway for her. His lips crashed into her own, his hands entangling in her golden locks. Her hands snapped up to grasp his biceps through his leather ensemble. She glided them along his arms to the back of his neck, bringing him closer.

She felt so light, so happy. This was…she couldn't describe it. All she knew was that she was happy. Uncontrollably, unconditionally, absolutely, and completely happy in this moment with him.

She felt it repeating over and over in her head, finally allowing herself to admit it, to say it to herself:

'I love you, I love you, I'm in love with you, I love you so much, I love you.'

When he whispered it back to her, she realized she had started to say it aloud. She felt a flush on her neck and he grinned before nipping at the area. He whispered in her ear, "I didn't see this coming at all, Miss Swan. Did you?"

She shook her head, her arms intertwining behind his back, making him come even closer till he was flush up against her. "No, I didn't."

"Regretting it, Emma?" He pulled back to look at her face. She gazed up at his face. She remembered the beginning. She honestly never expected to fall in love when she came to Storybrooke, much less with someone like Mr. Gold- no, Rumplestiltskin. But after all this time with him, the memories with him and how they got here…Emma went through all of it in her mind and her answer was easy.

"No," she answered completely honest, "I'm not." A smile bloomed on his face, all the tired lines leaving in the wake of his happiness. He leaned back down to her and she more than willingly met him halfway, returning his favor.

She finally had everything she had ever wanted. When she was a child she would dream of finding her parents, living in a castle, meeting her true love and settling down with a family that loved her. She found everything she wanted, but nothing in the way she imagined.

But she wouldn't trade her ending for anything. And as she pulled away from him and joined back into the crowd with their family and friends she continued to have a smile on her face. It never budged and she felt a contentment in her that she had never experienced before. She could truly say that life was good. That feeling was present in every aspect of her life now with her friends, family, and their sons.

And in every moment, every second she spent with Rumplestiltskin, that feeling grew. No matter what happened in every laugh, every tear, every fight, every challenge, every kiss- the love stayed. And Emma couldn't have asked for anything better. It wasn't perfect by a storybook's standards, but for her? It was perfect.

And well, needless to say they lived happily ever after.

The End.


Hope you liked it though :) You readers should feel honored, this is the first multichapter (of quality…or some semblance of it) that I have finished. Congratulations :)

Most of the reason I think I finished was cuz we need more Golden Swan love. We really do. This season is really blowing holes in this ship, but WE SHOULDN'T GIVE UP HOPE. SHE'LL BE COMING BACK TO STORYBROOKE AND WILL SAVE RUMPLE FROM GETTING GUTTED BY HOOK. I KNOW SHE WILL.

But anywhos, I couldn't help adding a little bit of my fav couples near the end there. If you couldn't catch it, they were Jefferson/Belle (that should've been obvious tho), Henry/Grace, Hook/Aurora (I HAVE FALLEN FOR THIS OTP AND I CANNOT GET UP), and Phillip/Mulan and a tiny bit of hinted Bae/Morraine.

About Bae- my theory (and my hope) is that he's in Neverland as a Lost Boy. Obviously one of those reasons is that I'd rather he NOT be Henry's dad. It's too obvious and honestly I would rather have Gold be it. Much more surprising and fun ;)

Hope ya'll have enjoyed this as much as I have :) Thank you so much for all the follows and favorites, it has meant the WORLD to me. And all the reviews? xDDDD THANK YOU SO MUCH!