Disclaimer: Not mine, as usual.
AN: i'm still not sure if the town is going to revert to the Enchanted Forest, or stay Storybrooke but with magic, so I'm going with the latter first until we have some more info. it's simply easier with this one shot i want to do, and, frankly, Emma deserves something that may resemble a breather (although this really isn't it lol) after what she just dealt with and I think ending up with Henry in a magic forest, lost, would kind of put a damper on that. My own personal theory to support them staying in a Storybrooke of magic is also that Rumple wants to be reunited with his son still, I'd assume, so going back to the Enchanted Forest would be counterproductive to that cause. I'm writing this 'cause Adam and Eddie didn't give us the Charming Family reunion that I wanted just yet; I'm assuming that's coming in the next season. Hopefully it will be lengthy and as awesome as the finale was. We know now how good it can be, so they have no excuse lol. For now, this will have to suffice.
You've been forewarned though, I love angst. As much as I'd love to see Emma fall right into Snow and James' arms at the beginning of season 2, I expect there to be some awkward and hesitant times ahead for our Charmings. The title comes from the Mumford & Son's song. I hope you all like it :)
She didn't even remember walking back to the apartment. Henry had been peppering her with questions about where she went, and what she had to do, and almost whining about how he always missed all the good stuff, enough that it was what her mind was focusing on, even if the answers she gave him were just half truths.
She was just exhausted. Henry was okay, Regina was God only knew and she just wanted her bed and her blanket and a hot mug of something, if not a giant handle of vodka, and something else to help her to calm her thoughts for just five seconds so she could figure this whole disaster out.
She'd fought a dragon. With a sword.
With David's sword.
Well, James, actually, in the book. Was it James though? She couldn't remember, and her head hurt and she just wanted that drink...
She unlocked the front door of her apartment, allowing Henry to dart inside before it was barely open as he went rushing into Mary Margaret's room as Emma went straight for the cabinet. She sat down, boiling water for the cocoa and poured herself about a shot and a half of liquor into a small tumbler that she swallowed in a moment. She was vaguely aware of Henry yelling for something, and running into her own bedroom before emerging, his face scrunched up in distress. Emma didn't see; she had her head hung down and pressed into her hands while her elbows rested on the counter, her head spinning. The kettle behind her whistled.
"They're not here." Henry whined, his voice strained and concerned. "I thought they'd have come here right away."
"Who, Henry?" She ripped open the cocoa mixture, grabbing milk and her cinnamon and began the mindless process, something that gave her great comfort because it was just that; a process, and simple and easy, and comfortable. In the midst of chaos, it was a taste of order.
He sighed, exasperated. "Snow and Charming. I mean, if everyone's started to remember, that means they know who they are. Where are they?"
She sighed. "Henry, come have your cocoa and relax for just a minute. It's been a long, horrible day, I'm sure they'll turn up eventually."
"If you come over right now, and just stop, I'll tell you all about my fight with a dragon." She raised her eyebrows, tilting her head down, knowing she had something he wanted. A look of incredulity lit up his face and he hiked himself up on the stool in the kitchen and took the mug in both hands.
When she had finished, Henry was frowning. "Kid, I beat a dragon. For you! Why aren't you happier about this?"
"Well..." He tilted his head. "You found the egg, but what happened to the sword? You don't have it with you."
Really? She thought to herself. I almost die with the dragon, and you're focused on a sword? But she thought about it; he was utterly captivated by the stories in the book, especially with Charming and the dragon fights, and it didn't totally surprise her. He'd probably want to see it. Stifling a groan, she realized he'd probably want one of his own. This was ridiculous.
But the dragon in the cave-among so many other things-had proven very true. And she had left the damn thing-a possibly very valuable thing-down in the cave, and she wasn't terribly open to going back down there for it. Who knew what else lay hidden, especially with what had taken over the town just an hour before. At that, she did wonder for the first time where her roommate may be. She wondered if David had found her. She wondered if he would be mad when he found out she'd carelessly left his sword behind.
David's sword. James' sword.
Her father's sword.
She burst into tears.
They walked along the stream towards their bridge, a spot that gave them solace and comfort, the most familiar setting in a town that was completely different than anything they were surrounded by in the town. They were not sure what had happened; the purple smoke had rolled into town swiftly, covering all the buildings and streets, but had dissipated as quickly as it had come. The only difference was the air, which seemed to crackle and snap with an energy unknown to this realm.
"It's hazy, but..." She shook her head. "I remember some of it. It's like a bad dream..." She breathed, fighting tears. The details were fuzzy. She had been known as a schoolteacher, as Mary Margaret, but beyond that, it was still a blur; just like when you awoke from a dream and seemed to instantly forget what you'd seen. She did remember something though; she had felt so very alone.
James frowned. He had only a small bit of his wits about him, but he remembered being confused, and afraid, and unsure and yet at the same time, very sure that he had been doing the wrong things, things he did not truly wish to do. He took her hand as they walked along, curling his fingers between her own and squeezing softly. "We found each other. That is all that matters. We're together again."
She stopped short suddenly, her head flying up to see him. "Emma." She whispered. "Emma! We have to find Emma! If this is broken, if we're back, that means..."
His brows shot up as he had a vision of a woman in his mind's eye, with waves of yellow hair and blue eyes that shone with something akin to pity. "You were having a party..." He muttered. She pulled her hand from his.
"Are you even listening to me?" She snapped, their relief forgotten for the moment. "She has to be here, somewhere, if the curse has broken and the magic is back, she is the only one..." She was shaking now, her whole body, and she felt as if she was going to retch. "James!"
"I think I may know where she may be. I...I think I remember where you lived." He frowned, concentrating on where they had come from.
Snow sighed, irritated with the vagueness of his speech. "What does it matter where I lived, I'm speaking about our daughter, James! If the Queen is still in this pitiable little town, we have to find her..."
"Snow." He grabbed her softly by the shoulders, turning her to face him in her rant. "Think hard, clear your mind. Try and remember."
Because she hadn't. She was afraid to remember, to remember being alone and afraid and weak and small. But her husband's pleading gaze forced her to take a deep breath and close her eyes in concentration. She saw a little boy, a mop of brown hair, hooked up to machines and tubes, she saw Red and Granny and a two story building and then...a caustic glance, a subtle smirk and a roll of blue eyes beneath a wave of blonde loose curls. Her eyes filled with tears.
"Emma." She breathed. "Oh Gods, oh my Gods, she's been with me this whole time, James!"
"We'll find her." His grip on her shoulders tightened. "It's the way of our family remember? We will always find each other."
Family. Yes. He was right. Snow choked out a laugh at his eager smile. "Okay then. Lead the way."
Henry didn't know what to do. Emma was weeping without signs of stopping, shaking her head and trying to reassure him that she was fine, but unable to actually tell him what was wrong. He hated it when people cried; especially when she did. Emma was strong and serious and brave, but her eyes were puffy and red and her nose was running and she looked terrified. She had taken a few more swigs from the bottle of liquor on the counter, shaking her head and muttering to herself before beginning to cry again, and then seemingly angry with herself for crying. She rubbed vigorously at her face with tissues.
"Can I help?" Henry asked in a small voice. She sniffed a few times, and shook her head.
"I'm sorry Henry, I don't know what's wrong with me. I just...it's just a lot to take in, I mean...you died."
"But I'm okay now." He reasoned with her, taking the clear, now quarter empty bottle and putting it under the sink. He pushed her cocoa to her. "It's gonna be okay."
She scoffed. "How is it going to be okay? What comes now Henry? Your book didn't tell us that and I saw them, I saw..." She swallowed a sob. "This cannot be real."
Henry shot out of his chair. "You can't stop believing again!"
She snorted. "I don't think I could if I really, really tried." She shook her head, wiping at her nose once more and taking a deep swig of her chocolate. With a deep breath, settling her hands flat on the counter in front of her, finally composed, she spoke. "Grab your book and come to the couch. Let's try and figure out what's next."
"But we don't even know what happened." Henry explained, following her all the same with the book in hand. "I'd bet it had something to do with Mr. Gold, since he took the egg and kind of disappeared."
"He had bottled love." Emma explained, clearing a spot on the couch for him to sit next to her. This was good. She thanked her stars once more for her son. Getting back to thinking about this and concentrating on the problem at hand would keep her mind off everything else, and would restore some semblance of order to their lives. And they really did still have to worry about Regina and Gold. In all her childhood stories she remembered, Rumpelstiltskin had never been a friendly fellow. Of course, when she was a child they had been just that-stories. She could've never imagined they would be real, or that she herself had been borne of one.
"So maybe that's what the smoke was? The potion?"
"So...a love potion?" She frowned. "No offense, Henry, but that doesn't make sense. Wouldn't everyone be like...in love then?"
He frowned. "Did he say anything else about it?"
She shook her head. "Just that it was the most powerful type of magic there was." He didn't need to know the details of it's origin, or their family's further part in it. He brightened at the explanation.
"So maybe...you said there wasn't any magic left, right? That you had to go get it because of the magic?" She nodded. "So maybe that's what the smoke was. Magic coming back to Storybrooke."
She gaped at her son. She didn't know if he was wrong or right, but the leaps he made, the possible rationale he came to amazed her. "You're too smart for your own good. I can't imagine where you get that from."
"I can." The voice came from behind them on the couch, a deep male speaking softly, his tone amused. Emma stiffened in the seat, her back to the source of the voice. She didn't know if she was prepared for this. "We were hoping you'd be here."
Henry's gaze danced between the pair that stood near the doorway, who had entered so softly they had not been heard. Snow had obviously been crying and James looked on with cautious hope. Emma's mouth opened and closed like a fish gasping for air. After a few moments, she handed the book fully to Henry and stood up, turning to face them.
"Hey...guys." She offered softly, meeting their eyes. Snow looked on edge, as if she was barely restraining herself, her hand tightly twisted in James's. "You will not believe the day I've had."
Snow sipped at the cocoa, freshly made from a new kettle. Emma had quickly bustled to the kitchen, looping widely around her parents, very aware of her son still sitting on the couch with his book and owlish eyes. She busied herself with the task, tapping her fingers impatiently as she gathered a few more mugs and pulled out a can of whipped cream for this batch. Snow and Charming had hung back, watching her, knowing this would be awkward and difficult; it wasn't exactly easy for them either.
Now that the drinks had been set down and her parents had sat on their stools, she didn't wait. She brought a mug to Henry and suggested that he go to her room and read more into the book to see if he could find anything else, and that if he did, to come out and tell them immediately. He hoped she wouldn't start crying again; he didn't want this to make her sad.
She began to clean up, still having not exchanged a word with them. Snow's lips tightened in a line, and she opened her mouth as if to say something, but James let his hand rest over hers, meeting her eyes. Emma was moving around fast amongst the cabinets, busying herself with the task at hand; although she seemed like contained chaos, James saw her more as like a terrified animal backed into a corner. If approached before it were ready, attempts at forcing it to interact would be met with hostility and defense. They had to let her come to them, or approach her very slowly. Snow could live with that; she could see her at least, knew that she was safe and alive, and not in any immediate danger. She was getting a better handle on her past 28 years though, and could remember bits about her roommate of this past almost year. This reaction was honestly better than she could have hoped for, and understood. She could be patient, for her daughter. She would wait a thousand years if need be.
The cocoa had been a new package, so to keep it from spilling, Emma pulled a baggie from the drawer and poured the remaining contents into it. She folded it over herself a few times, making sure the air was all out before attempting to seal it. It was a generic brand, though, and the lock seal on the package didn't seem to want to take. After a few tries, she growled in frustration and fumbled with the slippery plastic before it fell from her trembling fingers, spilling the powder on the floor. She groaned even louder now, dropping to her knees in a frenzy, wiping at it with her hands, shaking her head as she felt sweat bead there. Her heart was racing as she frantically tried to clean up the mess, muttering to herself incoherently. She stopped when a pair of strong hands covered her own, and she looked up into a pair of calm, icy blue eyes that mirrored hers.
"It's alright, Emma. Everything is going to be alright."
She dropped back onto her haunches as she breathed in deep and quick, tears gathering in her eyes quickly before spilling over silently and suddenly Mary Margaret was there too, pulling her into a tight hug. She was crying as well, and Emma was vaguely aware of David kneeling across from them and watching, his own expression pained and drawn.
"He was dead, Mare. Dead!" She wailed softly, shaking her head. "And before that, the cave, and Gold, and Regina, and I saw you guys..." She was rambling, clinging to her roommate who was still just that to her. She had seen the vision when she had touched the book, she understood what it meant but Mary Margaret had long been the only person, other than Henry, that she trusted, the only person she sought comfort from and right now, it was exactly what she needed. She clung to her roommate, still clad in her cream wool jacket, her face buried in her shoulder, keenly aware of the dainty hand brushing the back of her head as she let her cry. "I'm sorry." She whispered fiercely, her cries abating.
"You have nothing to be sorry for. You've saved us, Emma." Snow reassured calmly, her tone brooking no room for rebuttal. She pulled away, holding Emma's face in her hands. "I don't completely remember being your roommate, I'm afraid. Just bits and pieces now, but hopefully more soon. That's not the person I am though."
And Emma could see that she was afraid. Afraid that she wouldn't like her or accept her, but Emma just coughed a laugh. "That's okay. I'm not...I mean, I loved Mary Margaret, but..." She trailed off. "I always wondered what it'd be like to meet you." She turned to look at James. "The both of you." Her mouth contorted into a watery smirk. "This is not exactly what I had in mind though."
James snorted. "Believe me, us either."
They helped her gather up the spilled powder, James offering them tissues as they rose together. Emma excused herself for a moment to go freshen up for a bit, wanting to change out of her clothes she had worn to the cave. As she entered her room, Henry walked out, the book tucked under his arm. He eyed the couple warily, sizing them up as he walked over to them. "D'you remember me?" He asked plainly, looking up with wide brown eyes.
"Henry." He said surely, grinning as he kneeled down to the boy's level. "Son of Emma. Which would make you my grandson."
Snow gasped behind him, as if she had forgotten the specifics of that situation, but Henry grinned brightly. "I knew you would remember!" He exclaimed, letting the book drop to the floor loudly as he flung his arms around the man, the force of it driving him backwards so he had to brace himself with his arm. He laughed for a moment as he returned the embrace, holding it for a few seconds before releasing him so that he may greet Snow all the same. As he did, James turned his attention to the heavily bound book on the floor.
"So you think this will tell us what happens now?"
"He's a pretty sharp kid." Emma emerged from the bathroom in a baggy shirt and loose jeans, her hair in a messy bun atop her head. "And we don't know where Gold's hiding out at, but we think because he's the one who had the potion..."
"Potion?" James questioned, his brows knitting together. Emma flushed.
"Oh yeah, I kinda...skipped over that. Well, I mean, Henry was sick. I needed something, or at least he told me I needed to get this egg thing, from a beast that Regina had hidden under the town..."
James blanched as she got deeper into the tale, the terms 'egg' and 'beast' being all he needed to hear. "Emma, no." He shook his head. "Please tell me you didn't..."
"I won, though." She reassured him, although the frown on his face told her that it didn't make him feel any better about it. "I killed it, and got the egg, but I kinda...gave it to him. And he disappeared with it. I was a little caught up with saving Henry though."
"So the potion is what broke the curse?" Snow asked.
"No." Henry interrupted. "Emma kissed me on the head. It woke me up."
Emma closed her eyes against it. It had only been hours since the afternoon in the hospital, but it still terrified her to the bone to think of his body lying there on the bed, chest bare with wires attached, the line flat and dull.
"True love's kiss." Snow smiled at her wistfully. "Well then, the potion would at least explain the smoke in the air though. And the magic."
"Can't you feel it?" Snow asked curiously. "There's a certain buzz all around us, an energy that I don't remember being here before. Unless it was and I'm imagining it..."
Now that she mentioned it, Emma could tell she was right. She collapsed into the armchair in the living room. "Well, can we stay here at least? Or should be try and find somewhere safer? I don't understand any of this!"
She let her head drop to her hands once more. It was building up inside of her again, the overwhelming onus of it all. To be the savior, a child borne of true, absolute love was something she had not asked for and yet been burdened with. Though she loved her son absolutely, and could even see her loving these two that were her parents, she did not know if she was strong enough to survive this still.
In the midst of her doubts though, the large callused hand once more covered her own. This time it was only him staring up at her, a small, sad smile on his face. Snow was hanging back now, watching. "You are not alone in this, Emma. We're here with you."
"But I'm supposed to be the savior." She sighed, her mouth down turned. "The one to save everyone, and I just...I don't know..."
"You were the one to break the curse." James said strongly, squeezing her hands. "You are not the one to fight the battle alone. We will all be here." He turned to Snow and Henry, his hands still on his daughter. "That should be our next move. We must gather our allies and get all on the same page. We have to form a plan against the Queen, and Rumpelstiltskin." He turned back to her, his eyes wide and honest, and she suddenly felt the same with him as she always had with Mary Margaret-an implicit trust, knowing he wouldn't hurt her, that he was being true. She grasped his hand that laid over hers and squeezed as a sign of agreement. He merely smiled. "You were the one to break the curse," He repeated. "But the final battle...that will be fought by us all."
"We will need to find Red and Granny." Snow thought out loud, her fingers splayed about as she thought of others. "Jiminy. And the boys of course," She grinned at that, a fluttering of excitement starting in her stomach. "And the Blue Fairy. We'll really need her for this."
James nodded in agreement, standing up and walking to his wife's side. "Very true. Don't forget Ella as well. If anything, she will want to question Rumpelstiltskin further about if Thomas is here."
"He is! Don't you remember? He works at the car shop with Gepetto." Henry piped in, looking at Snow with a pointed stare. She squinted, deep in thought, then remembered the girl Ashley,whom she'd befriended over the past few months.
"Sean," She whispered. "His name was Sean, but he is here, James! We do need to go though, we need to gather our forces..."
Emma throughout this was gaping at them. Red? Jiminy? She supposed Gepetto should be understandable. But a Fairy? And who the hell were the boys? She sighed and got up again, beginning to walk circles as she ran her hands through her hair.
"We'll need to find out where Regina and Gold are though." Emma pointed out, deciding to focus on the problem at hand, even if the it was ludicrous and seemingly impossible. She needed to get over being overwhelmed quick, because this was real and Henry...and the rest of her family, was in danger. And she was not having that. "We need to figure out what they're planning on doing.
"I could not agree more." James stated with a nod. "We will need supplies; I will want to find my sword, amongst other things." He remarked with a frown. "I'm sure it will be like a needle in a haystack, but if we will be going up against the Witch, we will need some kind of defense. Henry, do you have any idea where it may be?"
"Yeah!" He exclaimed. "Emma said she used it to fight the dragon!"
Emma glared at her son for a moment, having forgotten her part in the swords misplacement for now. James had brightened though, and looked almost proud as he smiled over at her. "I wouldn't doubt it. That's excellent news though. Is it here now then? We can get on our way."
Emma flushed, looking down at the ground. "Not exactly..."
"Emma, it is really no worry, please stop looking like I'm going to whip you for it." James consoled his daughter as they walked toward the boarded up building close to Snow's apartment. He had been distressed that she had forgotten the weapon in the caves, but since they knew how to retrieve it, he had dismissed the issue almost immediately. They decided Snow and Henry would follow them to the library to retrieve it, and then they would split up somehow and each take a task they'd discussed. James seemed on edge about Emma and Henry joining along-to him, they had already been put in enough harms way-but Emma would have none of his objections. Henry was staying with one of them at all times, and there was no questioning it otherwise.
"I just feel bad. We could get started already if I had remembered the damned thing." She shook her head, pushing the door to the library open and ushering them inside. They came to the large mirror on the wall, and it took her a few times to place her hand correctly and open the door. When it did, the elevator waited inside for them, ready to be taken down.
"Okay, then, I will be only a moment, and then I will let you know when I need to be brought back up..." James began. Emma bristled.
"Um, no. I'm going with you. Mary Margaret can handle the elevator."
He blinked at her for a moment, and had to groan inwardly to realize that Emma was, in fact, her mother's daughter. "Emma, I don't think that's a good idea. You have no idea what else may lie beneath the surface of those caves..."
"And if you're trying to make a case for me to let you go down there alone, that's probably the worst way to do. She'll be fine up here with Henry. I'll leave her my gun, and he can be on the lookout. And believe me, there's nothing else there. We'll be up in a second."
"Well, then there's no need..."
"I'm going!" She exclaimed, already stepping into the elevator. "Unless you'd like me to go by myself, I suggest you join me."
She was having it no other way, so he conceded and stepped inside the unfamiliar mechanical structure, eying it skeptically as she closed the gated doorway. "I'll be right back." He promised Snow. She smiled back at him.
Emma was leaned against the back of the cabin, rolling her eyes. They were worse than when they were David and Mary Margaret, with the googly eyes and the syrupy sweet exchanges between them. James didn't notice the gesture, but had taken note of the awkward tension that seemed to have settled now between the two of them. He could not have known it, but Emma was quickly becoming more and more embarrassed of her emotional display back at their home. She was not a vulnerable person, and now that they had gotten past the initial reunion, with the truth settling in on her mind, the urge to pull back-to flee-was ever increasing. She just wanted to find the damned sword so that she and Henry could start looking for other people who could help them, and just get away from the situation all together. When they stopped on the ground level, she quickly pushed the gate back and exited first, hurrying into the rocky terrain. He put a hand out as if to warn her but thought better of it and followed her just as urgently.
"She was just over here when I threw the thing at her...it was such a bitch trying to get her in the stomach like that..." She muttered, pulling out a flashlight she had come with and turning it on. James fought a smile at her colorful language, the image of her hurling his favored weapon filling him with pride. He stopped as they came upon an old, broken glass sarcophagus that lay there; Emma continued, failing to notice his stall.
"There's so much ash, I can't even see it." She busied herself with pushing the remains of the monster away, searching with her light before she caught a glint of it a few feet away. It would be difficult to reach though alone. She frowned. "David...hey, David!"
She turned back, realizing he was no longer behind her and brought the flashlight above her head to shine in the cavern. It glinted off the glass held together by thin strips of bark. James was staring down, his hand resting on it as he seemed lost somewhere far away. Emma fought the urge to growl at him and jogged over.
"David, I found it, but it's a little out of my reach. I need you to help me lean out and get it." She said, a little out of breath. He didn't move. "David, I need your help here."
"James." He looked up at her, his eyebrows furrowed. "My name is James, and she's Snow. You should start calling us by our real names, if that's how you insist on speaking to us."
Emma was taken aback by the sense of affront in his tone. "What is that supposed to mean?"
He sighed, shaking his head. "Nothing. It's nothing. Let us go retrieve the sword, she and Henry are waiting." He headed off in the direction from where she had been.
"It's not nothing, or else you wouldn't have said it." She snapped, following him. "Do you expect me to call you something else?" She didn't have to offer the possibilities. She let the question hang. He stopped, and his shoulders hung forward.
"No. No, I don't." He turned around. "I want you to accept that Mary Margaret and David weren't who we are. They weren't real, Emma." He shook his head. "I know it's only been a few hours, but the only way we're going to be able to do this is if completely accept that."
She gaped at him. "I fought a damned dragon, and watched some sort of giant purple magic cloud take over the town I've been living in for months. I have no problem believing in any of this."
"There's a difference in believing in it because you saw it, and accepting it."
She sighed impatiently, letting her weight rest on her back leg as she shot him a withering glare. "I have lived with her for months, Dav-James, dammit, whatever your name is. Months! I can't just stop, I'm not a light switch."
"You're not even trying." He reasoned, and it was true. She didn't even hesitate to call them by their Storybrooke names; she hadn't even referred to them as a trial by their real ones. She shook her head in anger.
"You know what, screw it. I'll get the damn thing myself." She moved to push past him but he caught her arm. When she whirled on him to yell, he held up his free hand.
"I was just going to say, let me help you. It's a thin ledge, I don't want you falling." He paused for a moment. "It's not a bad thing to let people help you, Emma."
She rolled her eyes, pulling her arm from his grasp. "I'm the one who asked for your help." She shook her head. "Just hold onto my belt loop. I'm going to lean over and grab it."
It had taken a few tries, and a few far leans that were a bit much for his comfort, but in the end she had retrieved the sword. On her way back, she pushed herself off a rock and fell back onto him as he broke the fall. She quickly scurried away, thrusting the sword's hilt toward him. He smiled.
"Thank you." He took a hold of it, the weight of it feeling at home in his hand. "Ah, my old friend. It's been too long since we've been together."
Emma crossed her arms, leaning against the rock wall, feeling awkward at the scene. The sword had felt strangely comforting in her grasp, but it was only that-a sword. To hear him speak to it with such reverence was unsettling. "Um, if you're done now, we should probably get going."
"Yes, of course." He said with a nod, her voice pulling him from his daze. "But first..." He bit his lip, wondering if he should even broach the subject. But he didn't want Snow to have to endure any more heartbreak. Emma had embraced her mother earlier but sought the comfort of her Storybrooke counterpart, not from Snow. Now that she seemed to be around them more and more, the novelty of the truth had seemed to have worn off; he could sense her pulling away. "I just want to make sure you're alright with all of this."
The sound that passed her lips seemed to be one of a groan and a sigh. "How many times do I have to say it? Either way, I don't have much choice over if I'm alright with it, because it's happening. It's fine..."
"You're not, though." He strode to her, still clinging the sword at his side as he lowered it. "You are avoiding any sort of mention of who we are."
"I am not." She snapped, stepping back a few feet from him. "I admitted it back at the apartment. I'm just very focused on this problem."
"Because you think if you do that, you won't have to deal with the other one?"
"I'm starting to think I liked David better." She growled, backtracking toward the elevator. "We have to get back now, we're just wasting time down here. We have to find Regina and Gold."
"Would you stop avoiding this and just talk to me for a second?" He demanded fiercely, stomping his foot. She glared at him, storming closer to him. He stood his ground, letting his chin raise just a bit to show he was not afraid of her-even if that wasn't true at all.
"What do you want me to say?" She exclaimed, her face flushing an angry red. "You want to hear about how I grew up alone? How I got shuffled from foster home to foster home, how for Christmas, when they have the kids make those stupid little gifts for their parents, I always sat in a corner playing, by myself, because I didn't have any?"
"You're angry with us." He said softly, and almost regretted pushing so hard so soon. Maybe Snow should have been there for this. He could see her shaking with unbridled emotion.
"No. That's the thing, the thing is I'm not. I'm not mad at you at all cause it's not even your fault. I'm just...mad." Her voice broke at the end of it, and for the first time all day, she let herself be really pissed at just the rotten luck that her life had been. She stood still with her hands on her hips, taking deep breaths to keep even more tears at bay; she'd had enough with the crying today, her red rimmed eyes evidence enough of it.
James was never unsure of anything in his life. His actions were always decidedly done, which was almost the opposite of what he remembered his Storybrooke counterpart to be. He was self-assured and brave, never yielding in the face of something fearsome.
But the sight of his 28 year old daughter in distress was changing that. Nerve wracking though it was, he closed the short gap between them and softly cupped her elbow. "I wish I could convey how sorry we are that this happened to you. It was never what we wanted. If you knew how hard it was for her, for me..."
"I do." She assured. "The book. It...showed me." She choked on the last couple of words, avoiding his eyes. She could not face him directly, not knowing what he had done, what both of them had done for her. "I'm sorry."
It wasn't as if she would've known what to do if she had been susceptible enough to believe Henry's story, but even then, it was completely rational that she had not. It just hadn't been plausible; it was just more reasonable that her parents had abandoned her to the world alone, and she had grown up hating them for it. But they had loved her, and they had fought and almost died to make sure she could escape their fate. She had seen it for herself, briefly, in the images in her mind that had revealed themselves when she had grabbed Henry's book at the hospital. And she had hated them all her life for it.
"You have nothing to apologize for." He insisted quickly, letting the sword drop so he could grab her other arm. He placed one hand on her chin, then pulled back as she seemed to stiffen. "I just ask that you give us a chance here."
She nodded wordlessly, her mouth down turned in a thin line, and he decided to fuck it all. He pulled her into a hug, clearly aware of the possibility she would push away. She stiffened, but she didn't flee, and within a few seconds, gave into it. She dipped her head into the crook of his neck.
"I am sorry, though."
"If you don't stop saying that, you're grounded." He joked, releasing her from the hug and again holding her chin. This time she didn't pull back. "This is going to be interesting, to say the least, and it's gonna take some time. But I want you to know you're not going it alone anymore, okay? Never again either. We're not going anywhere."
Her stomach felt like she were dropping. He had seen right through her false bravado and struck something deep within her. Her initial instinct was to rebuff his words, and insist that that had nothing to do with anything before storming away into the lift, but his eyes were wide and full of affection that she was sure she had never seen before from someone. She didn't want to hurt him, and if she really was honest with herself, this was the true way she had always been afraid to let herself feel. Her eyes found the ground and her voice became quiet. "Promise?"
His chest tightened. "Swear on my heart." He smiled back, then leaned in and kissed her forehead, his Adam's apple bobbing as he swallowed hard. "We'd better get back though. Your mother will worry."
"Yeah, she will. Henry too." She started back for the elevator, slower this time. "Don't forget the sword."
"That would be bad, after all this." He laughed, bending to retrieve it before meeting her at the lift. "Ladies first."
They made it back up quickly and quietly, and Snow's relief was evident on her face. Emma exited first, grabbing her mother's hand, feeling as if she needed to do something to make her feel better. It worked; Snow's eyes lit up. "Everything okay?"
"Yeah, yeah it is." Emma smiled. "We better get going. James said we should do this together though, so..."
"Oh did he?" Snow asked, a small smile on her face as she looked over at him. He smiled back.
"Just something someone said to me once." He replied, not taking his eyes from her. She bit her lip, sidling up next to him as they strode from the library.
"Sounds like a smart woman."
"I never said it was a woman." He teased back, and she leaned into him, playfully slapping him on the arm.
"Ugh, can't you guys save it for later?" Emma moaned, pulling them from their flirtation, causing Snow to flush, but the small smile on her face assured them she was joking. She turned her attention to the boy in front now, who was watching the interaction with a wide grin on his face. "So, we're doing this together. How does that sound to you, Henry?"
The boy had come to the side of their group, and he began to nodded quickly at his mother's question. "Great! I was thinking, maybe we should start with Red and Granny first, since we know where they are...and maybe the dwarves will show up there..."
Henry led the way a few feet in front as Emma walked beside him, listening as he rambled on excitedly about the coming adventures. James and Snow walked with their arms wrapped around each others waist, watching them.
"I think this actually turned out better than we thought it would." Snow said softly, watching their grandson wave his arms around. James squeezed her back. They may have lost irreplaceable time with their child, but knowing that Henry would not be here without made it much more bearable than he had believed it could be. He imagined Snow felt the same way. He smiled as he watched Henry take off with a laugh, the leather bound book of stories clutched to his chest as his mother chased after him playfully. As she caught him, she dug her fingers into his side, causing the boy to dissolve into further giggles. He felt Snow snuggle up closer to him, a contented sigh passing her lips. He pressed a kiss to her temple.
"Yeah. I think it did." He replied, catching Emma's eye as she tossed a look back at him as she wrestled with her son. She smiled at him, pausing only a second before continuing, and he felt strangely at peace, despite the roller coaster the day had been so far. "I think we're gonna be okay."
As long as they stayed together, he believed, they would always be okay.