The sound of a laugh interrupted the story, and everyone turned to see Pinocchio's broad smile as his laughter died out. "I see you're telling everyone about how you finally succumbed to my charm."
Daphne chuckled. "I'm getting there. Right now, I'm at the part where—"
"I know what part you're at, love," he interrupted with a wink.
As he sat down beside his wife and put his arm around her shoulder and placed a loving hand on her growing belly, Sabrina couldn't help but feel immensely happy for her sister. She'd waited a long time for this happiness to come into her life. For someone to help carry her burdens as much as she was willing to help carry everyone else's burdens.
Puck tugged on Sabrina's sleeve. As she turned toward him, she could feel his lips come closer to her ear. "Maybe that's the reason Charming doesn't like me," he murmured with a chuckle.
Sabrina looked over at him in confusion as Puck grinned. "I don't think he's quite forgiven me for introducing his daughter, Lily, to my brother."
Sabrina giggled. Lily's first trip to Faerie had been an eventful one. While Charming and Puck discussed the feasibility of extending the influence of Faerie to all Everafters in both an effort to protect Everafters and to protect the peace that had come after the Everafter War, Mustardseed had been tasked with giving Lily Charming a tour of the kingdom.
By the time Charming had come to collect his daughter, she was smitten with the fairy whose gentleness and kindness had become legendary in the kingdom of Faerie. Especially in comparison with his brother's mischievousness.
Charming had been fuming as the girl had been merely fifteen years old at the time. Miraculously, Snow had managed to calm him down by telling him that teenaged girls were often infatuated with many handsome young men over the course of their adolescence. That peace lasted for seven years until Mustardseed and twenty-two-year-old Lily announced their engagement.
"I wouldn't put it past him," Sabrina giggled.
"What are you two laughing about?" Pinocchio asked as he looked over at his in-laws.
Sabrina and Puck continued to giggle loudly. Their laughter intensified so that they couldn't speak.
"I guess we'll ask later," Daphne said with a smile of her own.
"Maybe you can keep telling the story?" Emma asked hopefully.
Daphne nodded with a wink to her niece.
Five and a half years ago
Through her tears, Daphne could see Pinocchio's brow furrow in confusion as he walked over to her. "Daphne? Are you okay?"
She wasn't entirely sure. She certainly wasn't one to burst into tears at the drop of a hat.
"I'm f-fine," she stammered. She reached for one of the paper napkins on the table near her and used it to wipe the tears from her eyes.
"You don't sound fine," Pinocchio said as he sat beside her.
"It's hard to explain," Daphne admitted as her tears abated slowly.
"Why don't you try?" Pinocchio murmured compassionately as he rubbed her back gently.
Daphne swallowed. "You know, I studied repressed memories as a student of psychology. I studied all of this—anxiety, commitment issues—I could diagnose every thought that goes through your head if I really wanted to."
Pinocchio chuckled softly.
"But it isn't until you experience it for yourself that it really becomes real," she admitted softly.
"And what did you experience for yourself?" Pinocchio asked with tender concern as he held his arm around her shoulder.
"You were right," she whispered. "I was—I am—so afraid of what being a Grimm might do to my family that I'm sabotaging my relationships—especially my relationship with you."
"And what might being a Grimm do to your family?" He pressed gently.
"When I first moved to Ferryport Landing," Daphne began. "The Everafters—even some of the so-called good ones like Charming and Mama Bear and Beauty—wanted us dead."
"Because of the barrier," Pinocchio said with a nod.
"Because of the barrier," Daphne confirmed. She swallowed. "I'd never been hated before—certainly not with so much conviction. No one had ever really wanted to, and certainly never tried, to kill me before."
"That's hard," Pinocchio agreed.
"I guess I kind of repressed some of those memories," she said softly. She looked over at him with an apologetic look in her eyes. "I was fighting my feelings for you, but I didn't know why. I didn't know that the parts of my childhood which were locked away in my mind were keeping me from being able to move on."
"And what are you going to do about it now?" He asked gently.
"I'm not sure," she admitted with a small smile. "Could you kiss me and help me make up my mind?"
Pinocchio grinned. "I thought you'd never ask."
"That can't possibly be the end of the story!" Alison cried in dismay.
Pinocchio laughed. "It's not."
"Ugh! You're killing me!" Emma cried as she dramatically threw herself back on the couch.
Daphne chuckled as she reached for her husband's hand and pulled herself up. She stretched her back with a slight grimace.
"Something wrong?" Pinocchio asked as he looked up at his wife.
She shook her head. "I'm just a little sore. I was about to do my prenatal yoga when Sabrina, Puck and the girls showed up."
"Ah," he said with a short nod as if her stiffness made sudden sense.
She inhaled and sat back down beside her husband. "We were only stranded for a few more hours after that. We played some games with Linda, and we had some more crepes and coffee. We never did lose power."
"Where does the story pick up?"
Daphne exchanged a grin with her sister before she turned to her older niece. "Why don't you tell me?"
"Me?" Alison squeaked in surprise.
"You were nine years old when I brought Pinocchio to my parents' house for family dinner," Daphne explained.
"And you, Emma, were five," Pinocchio said with a chuckle.
"We were there?" The girls squeaked in unison.
"Well, you were there," Sabrina admitted with a chuckle. "But unfortunately, Uncle Jake brought his limited supply of forgetful dust, and Emma was playing with it, and, well, you can guess the rest."
Daphne laughed. "That must have happened after we left."
Sabrina nodded. "Let me tell you, it's no fun to have two girls staring blankly at each other and then at you. Puck and I had our hands full."
"I'll bet," Pinocchio said with a chuckle. "Though your girls are young ladies now, they were quite mischievous then."
"Tell me about it," Puck said as he rolled his eyes with great exaggeration.
"Says the Trickster King himself," Sabrina said as she raised an amused eyebrow.
"Hey, they didn't just get mischief from my side of the family," Puck grinned. "Their father may be the Trickster King, but their mother is the Queen of the Sneaks."
"How could I have forgotten?" Sabrina said as she settled further into his embrace. She was starting to feel that unsettling nausea again, and she wished it would just go away so she could enjoy the rest of the evening with her family before her husband dragged her to Faerie.
"You okay?" Puck asked with loving concern.
"Fine," she said as she tried to brush his concern away. She saw the wide-eyed worry in her daughters' faces, and she didn't want them to be afraid. At least not until they knew anything for sure one way or the other. "Daphne, why don't you refresh their memories about that family dinner?"
Daphne nodded as she almost silently read her sister's thoughts. "All right. Mom and Dad had just returned from Italy for the spring and summer, and they wanted to have the family around for a traditional Italian meal complete with photos from their trip..."