Five Years Later...
There was no such thing as a quiet day in the Dark Castle. There hadn't been for the last five years and yet Emma would not trade it for a moment of silence.
It seemed the twins rose with the dawn most mornings. From that point on, the castle would be filled with the sounds of running feet, the occasional crash of something breaking, and bickering over some silly issue or another. There were days when the twins would be best friends and others when they woke as enemies.
Even as babies, they were a handful, especially at night. The only way to soothe them enough to fall asleep was by one of their father's stories, always animated with wild gestures on his part, or by a lullaby from their mother.
The twins each had their preference for songs and even now Emma continued to hear the requests before bedtime. For Mary, it was "You Are My Sunshine"; for Isabelle, it was "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head." That was partly because of the little names their father liked to use for them from time to time. Every once in a while, he'd call Mary his "little sunshine" because of the mane of golden curls bouncing on her shoulders wherever she went. He tended to call Isabelle his "little raincloud." One time he had sat her down and explained that it wasn't just because of the intense, ink-black shade of her hair that earned her the nickname, but because her quiet, pensive behavior, so unlike Mary's energetic, gleeful manner, was as refreshing as a cool, spring rain.
It was hard to believe it had been five years since the night of their birth. Even in the Enchanted Forest, time flew by fast.
It was Emma's birthday today. Thirty-three, she thought and worked out a kink in her shoulder. She was starting to feel her age. There was another reason this day was special, though. It was the anniversary of the day she truly met Henry, the day she unknowingly found a home in Storybrooke.
He was sixteen and he had sprouted up past her and Rumpel's height. He was training to be a worthy knight of the Enchanted Forest. Not only would it allow him to fulfill one of his long-time dreams, but it allowed him to be close to his grandparents since he was training to be a member of their personal guard. Charming had taught him everything he knew about the ways of the sword and importance of honor over the years. She and Rumpel told him how proud they were every chance they got.
They would get another chance today.
Henry would be returning to the Dark Castle to celebrate her birthday. She knew he would probably take longer than necessary to get here, to stop at one of the markets to buy her a special gift. Every year she insisted he didn't need to do that, but he never listened. It was enough that he would be here.
For the occasion, Emma unwrapped a homemade chocolate cake, delivered personally by Red and baked to perfection in Granny's oven. The only reason they weren't attending was because it was Red and Archie's turn to take Goldie so that the golden menace could visit Pongo. From what Red claimed, Goldie was having one hundred puppies. Emma had a sinking feeling that it wasn't an exaggeration.
Later on in the evening, Emma would make hot cocoa with cinnamon while she caught up with everything taking place in Henry's life. Rumpel had graciously taken the duty of cooking dinner off her hands, but it didn't stop her from setting the table and making sure the dining hall was presentable.
As her hands busied themselves with preparing the long dining table for dinner, the familiar sound of arguing echoed in the background, growing louder with every second. The twins were coming this way.
Today, they were re-enacting an old, favorite argument: which twin would be the first to get their hair braided by their father. Apparently, his fingers were skillful with braiding after all those years of spinning straw. Whenever she tried doing anything with their hair, they often complained that she tugged too hard.
"You went first last time! Mama, tell Mary she went first last time!" Isabelle whined, her arms folded over her pretty blue dress. Emma sighed and struggled to remain calm through the bickering. There was no easy way to deflate it, so she simply played along in the hopes that it would make the argument crumble into dust.
"Mary, you went first last time." Isabelle smiled victoriously.
"Hah! See?" Mary stuck out her tongue.
"My hair takes less time than yours!" Mary waved her head wildly, her blonde curls tumbling over her face. It was true that Mary's hair, though a mass of curls, was thinner. Isabelle had inherited her father's thick hair. It was luscious to the touch when treated properly, and a rat's nest when uncombed. Like today, for example. "Let me go first!"
Isabelle held up her hand in front of Mary's face, her fingers spread wide apart.
"Don't make me do it!" Emma gasped and spun around to scold Isabelle for the threat, but Rumpel was somehow faster.
Sneaking up behind Isabelle, he lifted her up by the waist and planted her down on his knee as he settled comfortably on the stool he used for spinning. Emma had told him several times he should move the spinning wheel to the library, but he hadn't yet gotten around to it.
"Now, now, my little, stubborn raincloud. You know the rules," he chided softly. To Mary's disappointment and impatience, he picked up a brush from the table and guided it gently through Isabelle's dark, tangled hair. Isabelle didn't even wince as the knots came undone. "Be civil to your sister-she's the only one you've got."
Recently Rumpel had tried on many occasions, usually when they were alone at night, to convince her that they should have another child. With their room still magically soundproof, there were nights when they made love long after the twins were asleep in their beds, but they weren't exactly...trying to have a baby. Emma was devoted to the children she had now.
Que sera, sera. What will be, will be.
After finishing Mary's braids, Rumpel ushered the twins to the door that led to the gardens. The sun was beginning to sink over the mountain, but there was enough time left for the twins to play outside before dinner. It would give Emma the room she needed to finish getting everything ready.
"Your brother will be here soon. Go play and keep an eye out for him," Rumpel said as they hurried into the gardens, their braids swinging at their backs. It was one of their favorite places to play, thanks in part to the variety of flowers that bloomed every year.
"You better not get those dresses dirty," Emma called after them. "Remember, Auntie Belle will be coming, too!" She didn't know if the twins heard, but she decided to give the warning. From behind, she felt her husband's arms snake around her waist, his fingers crawling up beneath her shirt to stroke her belly.
"Tonight, you and I can play," he teased, his teeth gliding over the skin behind her ear. A pleasurable feeling slithered down her back, but she shook it off, turning in his arms until his lips were only an inch above hers. Even after five years, there were times when she glimpsed that old, mischievous glint in his eye. This was one of those days.
"Calm down," she said, running her palms over his chest. "I still haven't gotten over birthing your twins." He feigned hurt.
"Aww, but I always wanted five children." He was well on his way to working those puppy eyes, but she deliberately turned her head away, refusing to be charmed by them. She knew her husband too well now; she knew how deep his desires ran.
"Something tells me that if I pop out another one, you'll aim for seven." A slightly guilty expression crossed his face. The scar on his cheek writhed as he smiled. That's what I thought.
"I won't make any promises." His hand moved to cup the back of her head and his lips brushed across hers. A tingling sensation of excitement traveled all the way to her toes. Taking ahold of his shirt, she kissed him back harder.
It was only by the sound of the children shouting outside that they were interrupted. The closer they got, Emma was able to piece together the message they carried. Henry was home.
Together, Emma and Rumpel went to the door that led out to the gardens, shielding their faces from the burning orange glow of the setting sun. It seemed most of their guests had arrived at the same time. Or perhaps they had planned it that way.
The first person she saw was Henry, dressed head to toe in his clean white knight uniform, giving hugs to his little sisters. A gleaming sword hung on his hip and the twins both reached out to touch it. Over his shoulder strolled Bae and Ariel, their arms looped. Ariel's red hair was down to her waist now and Bae was beginning to show a gray strand or two near his temples. Emma guessed that it was a result of the hard work that came with living in that humble village he once called home, though he never complained, least of all to his father. Not too far behind were Belle, Jefferson, and Grace. It didn't escape Emma's notice that there was a sparkling diamond on Belle's finger. Grace hurried to Henry's side and threw her arms around his neck, pressing a short kiss to his lips. It was strange to be reminded that Henry wasn't the young boy that first brought Emma to Storybrooke and even stranger still to remember that he was in love with Grace.
All that was missing was her parents. She knew it would take them a little longer to arrive, since they were toting around more baggage than anyone else. It had only been a month ago that they broke the news to Emma about finally expecting a second child. Unlike her and Rumpel, her parents had sincerely been trying since they returned to the Enchanted Forest, but her mother had suffered multiple miscarriages. It got to the point where they had begun to fear that Snow might never be able to carry a baby to term, that Emma would be her only one.
Emma wasn't jealous, even when she knew that baby would have the opportunities she missed. She was happy for them.
This is what she needed. Family.
"Everyone adores the twins," Rumpel noted, resting his chin on Emma's shoulder. For a moment, they leaned in the doorway and observed their family. Everyone took turns saying hello to the twins and asking about their dresses and braids. It was amazing that there wasn't a spot of dirt on those dresses. Yet. "Hmm...Sunshine and Rain..."
"Suits them perfectly," she said, admiring her baby girls in the sunlight. Though born twins, Mary and Isabelle could be as different as sunshine and rain. Somehow, they complimented each other all the same. Never more than a foot away from her twin.
"Yes, but it could easily suit us, too," he added with a gentle peck on her jaw. Emma tilted her head to the side, exposing more of her neck for him while also wondering what he could possibly mean. If she was patient, she knew he would explain his thoughts. "Such a contradictory pairing, sunshine and rain. It's either one or the other. Same with black and white, light and dark, good and evil. On rare occasions, the two occur at the same time. They exist together and create quite the beautiful thing."
Now she understood. Memories flowed through her mind, memories of the years they had spent together. He was right; their relationship had been a constant battle between sunshine and rain. Light and dark. Tragedy and happiness.
"You and I," he continued, with kisses trailing along her ear, "are as different as sunshine and rain. The purest proof that opposites attract. Everything you are is everything I need." Emma smiled and enjoyed the comfort of his embrace.
The gods must have been listening and approved, for at that precise moment, the skies opened up and a sun shower rained down over the whole of the Enchanted Forest.
I can't believe I'm saying this...
After a couple of years of working on this story, it is finally finished. I'm rather happy with the way it ended up, and I hope the readers are, too. I have to strongly thank DaesGatling for inspiring this story in the first place with the Abridged series and for helping me write it along the way. I also have to thank everyone that took the time to read and review it until its conclusion-this is my biggest story yet, with over one thousand reviews! I can't thank the readers enough for their support throughout this journey.
Several people have asked me if there will be a sequel. I am currently playing around with some ideas for a sequel, though it might not happen right away. I'm currently working on several other writing projects and real life is keeping me busy as well. The possibility is there, though, so I might find the motivation to continue writing Emma/Rumpel's story. Who knows?
If there are any readers interested in reading more of Golden Swan, I have recently started a story called "It's Only Breakfast, Dearie" and I am considering doing a collection of one-shots for Golden Swan since my collection for Rumbelle, "All I Need," is so popular. I thought I'd mention it in case anyone wants to check them out.
By the way, Rumpel's line "Everything you are is everything I need" comes from the song "Hate and Love" by Jack Savoretti which provided the inspiration for the title of this story.
This journey has been a long, but good one. (-;