A/N: This is seriously the part that I am most excited for in this show - when Snow and Charming remember themselves and thus realize Emma is their daughter. Tears!
She remembered. She remembered.
She remembered the sound of her father's laugh, and her favorite horse, and the summer palace that had been built for her mother. She remembered her loving governess, and when her mother died, and the way the forest just outside of the castle smelled after it rained. She remembered hitting Charming on the chin with a rock, and drowning in love for him, and forgetting and remembering him, and the way they saved each other countless times. And she remembered Regina – her wicked stepmother, who killed her father, who tried to kill her, who enacted this miserable time-prison curse that she was finally free of.
She wasn't Mary Margaret Blanchard: lonely, homewrecking, murder-suspect schoolteacher. She was Snow White.
"Hey, you all right?"
Snow turned to the voice, the person who had just entered the room, saw blonde curls and a crooked smile and her husband's eyes and her chin.
Emma. She remembered Emma – she remembered the day she learned she was pregnant, and the way Charming would kiss her stomach and talk to the baby, and the feeling of tiny kicks under her hands in the middle of the night, and the sound of a newborn wailing. She remembered the sensation of her heart ripping into pieces as she kissed her new baby's forehead for maybe the last time, and how her body screamed in misery as she realized she wouldn't see her daughter grow up.
"You look like you've seen a ghost," her roommate remarked with a raised eyebrow, and Snow heard herself in her daughter.
Her daughter – this was her daughter, this hard, cynical, desperate-to-belong woman who'd had a childhood of instability and defeat, who'd spent so much time strengthening walls and searching for family.
Snow jumped to stand straight from her leaning posture at the kitchen counter and stared. How much she had missed – how awful she felt about everything she knew of Emma's history. She wanted to hug the woman close and stroke her hair and murmur I'm so sorry until the words didn't make sense anymore. She wanted to tell her: you are a princess, you are wanted, you are loved. She wanted to reassure her: you have a family, and we are not letting go again.
"Mary Margaret?" Emma prompted.
Snow shook her head. She couldn't do any of those things – at least not yet, because her daughter still didn't believe she was her daughter.
"I'm – I'm fine," Snow assured. Her eye caught the time on her watch – she was supposed to be meeting Charming to continue their earlier reunion, which had been interrupted by the need to keep up appearances and go to work. She knew she should leave before she did or said something, but the chance of spending time with Emma was almost too overpowering. "Are you staying?"
"No, I just needed to grab something, then it's back to the station," Emma said, heading to the stairs.
"Yeah, um, I'm heading out too," Snow said casually, walking around the counter to grab her jacket on the couch.
"Okay," Emma said. She placed a hand on the stair railing and glanced back as Snow buttoned her coat. "You sure you're okay?"
Snow put on her brightest smile, fighting tears. "Definitely," she said, and she had to force her eyes away from her daughter's concerned expression. Before closing the door behind her, Snow looked back and watched Emma disappear upstairs.
She remembered all of the promises she had made to her baby, hushed words of comfort and plans directed to her swollen stomach, all of them broken – except for one. We'll keep you safe, she remembered saying, and she knew she would do anything to make sure that promise stayed kept, even if her baby was twenty-eight years old.