Author's Notes: This is the final (and longest) chapter; I hope you all have enjoyed reading this as much as I have writing it.
Regina woke up from her coma on a Sunday, and by Tuesday, she had not only resigned as mayor but she'd signed over full custody of Henry. Emma never found out exactly what Mr. Gold said to her in the hospital on Monday, but she wasn't about to argue with the results.
Regardless of whatever Gold did, Regina didn't have a chance of keeping Henry; after going through the adoption records, Emma found out that he had never been legally adopted; her signature on the form giving him up was legitimate, but nothing after that had been. She wisely decided not to question how exactly Gold had got those files; she had more pressing concerns.
August was getting worse. He was wooden up to his waist; he no longer had to eat, but if the wood spread up any further, he would be unable to breathe. August didn't know if he would die then or if he would only die once he was completely made of wood, but either way, he and Emma were getting very worried.
"There has to be something we're forgetting," he said. "Obviously taking Regina out wasn't it."
"I'm sorry," Emma said. "I guess I couldn't change anything after all."
"That's not true. You just haven't broken the curse yet," August replied. "Look around, and tell me you don't see a new Storybrooke."
He was right, of course; Regina's resignation had rocked the town to its core. Emma refused to continue as mayor, so another election was held. Kathryn surprised everyone by deciding to run; with Jim as her campaign manager, she easily defeated Sidney, who had only recently been released from the hospital and only ran half-heartedly.
Rosie French started a special story time program for children at the library. The first weekend, Henry joined Ava, Nicholas, and Paige in listening to her read the stories of Zeus and Hercules and the other Greek gods. Emma couldn't figure out why Mr. Gold was also present at story time, but when she thought about it, she realized she didn't want to know.
Ashley and Sean had a small but beautiful wedding the same day David and Kathryn got their marriage annulled. Mary Margaret was hesitant at first, but when David told her he understood if she didn't want to get back together and that he only wanted her happiness, she softened, and things between them got serious—so serious that Emma was wondering if she'd need to get her own place soon.
She was pondering this when Archie came over one night to discuss Henry's living situation.
"He's been living with me for quite some time, but he needs a permanent home." He looked at Emma. "He needs a parent."
Mary Margaret put a hand on Emma's shoulder. "Are you ready for that? It's a huge responsibility."
It happened almost overnight; she just had to sign a few papers and get a short statement from Archie. The next thing Emma knew, Henry was hers and they were moving a few of his suitcases into Mary Margaret's place.
"It's just for now," Emma explained. "We'll get our own place soon."
"I don't mind," Henry said. "I'm just happy I get to live with you."
He settled in quickly. Mary Margaret helped out, often being the one to put Henry to bed while Emma did her late night patrolling, so it wasn't until Sunday that Emma was finally the one to tuck Henry in.
"Here," she said, holding out matching mugs of cinnamon hot chocolate. "Little treat before bed."
"You don't have to patrol tonight?" Henry asked, immediately taking a gulp and getting a whipped cream mustache.
"Nope," Emma said, doing the same thing. They laughed at each other for a bit before Henry looked back at his book.
"You know, we still haven't made it past stage one of Operation Cobra," he said suddenly. "I never figured out who everyone is."
"Well, August is Pinocchio."
Henry's eyes widened. "Really?"
"Really. That's why he and Marco get along so well."
"Archie doesn't like him though," Henry said solemnly. "Not since he crashed his motorcycle while giving Ruby a ride."
Emma's eyebrows shot up. "When did that happen?"
"A few weeks ago. I think Archie wishes he had a motorcycle."
"I'm sure," Emma said, trying to hide her confusion. "Done with your cocoa?"
"OK, bed time then."
After he'd brushed his teeth and climbed into bed, Henry sat with his book still open in his lap.
"Emma, will you read me a story?"
"Uh, sure. Which one?"
"Whatever you want."
"How about Sleeping Beauty? It might give you some ideas," she teased.
She read Sleeping Beauty and then a tale of a little mermaid who traded her fins for legs and then continued on about a girl in a tower with long hair she used as a ladder. When Emma finished, Henry's eyes were half-shut.
"I hope the curse breaks soon," he mumbled.
"Me too, kid." She arranged the blankets just right and turned off the light. As she started to move away, Henry said, "Emma?"
"I love you."
Emma's heart caught in her chest.
"I…I love you too, Henry." Impulsively, she bent forward and kissed his forehead.
And just like that, the curse broke.