AFTER SEEING HENRY IN A PROMOTIONAL SHOT WITH THE DEPUTY BADGE ON, I JUST HAD TO WRITE THIS.
DON'T OWN ONCE UPON A TIME.
It's been two days since she broke the curse. Two days since her life had once again done another 180. Two days since her son died and came back to life. Emma's been using Henry as an excuse to avoid her parents, and she's pretty sure he knows. He hasn't said anything yet, but he's a perceptive kid. He's been bouncing around since the people of Storybrooke regained their memories, talking to everyone in sight, especially his grandparents. While he hasn't been as rude to Emma as he had to Regina, it's obvious that he's not particularly happy about her decision to elude Snow and James. The last thing she's ever wanted to do was disappoint him, so she has to find some way to remedy it. She takes a deep breath, standing outside the threshold to his hospital room, bracing herself for the one-word answers, the small gold Deputy's badge clutched in her hand.
"Hey." She walks in confidently, casually slipping her right hand into her pocket, along with her peace offering. "You still feeling okay?"
"Yup." Henry doesn't look up from his book.
"Henry, I…" She pauses, considering her next words. She's never been one for apologies, and this… well, she's almost at her breaking point. If Henry continues to do this to her, she's pretty sure she'll run off a cliff. "I know you're mad. I think it's because I've barely said one word to Mary- Snow, and D- James. I'm sorry, Henry. I know you want a big happy family but it's more complicated than you think. I wish I could give you what you want, but I can't, not right now at least." She sighs, then smiles apologetically. "But I brought you this." She pulls the gold badge out of her pocket and places it on Henry's lap. "I can't do this alone. You think I'm a hero-"
"You are!" He insists, his eyes twinkling with admiration.
"Maybe I am." She smiles a little. "But every hero needs a sidekick. I wouldn't want anyone other than you to be mine."
"You've spent the whole day planning that speech, didn't you?" Henry smirks, running his finger along the star.
"Would you think any less of it if I did?" She asks.
"Nope." He launches himself at her, his next words muffled by her shirt. "I'd be honored to wear anything you wore."
"Kid…" Emma whispers, blinking back tears. "You're the best son ever." She pulls him tighter against her, never wanting to let go.
"You know, I'm glad I can finally be proud of my mom. Regina isn't a good person, but you're better than good. You're the Savior!" He pulls back and frowns when he sees the tears on her cheeks. "Emma, what's wrong?"
"Nothing." She gives a short laugh, embarrassed. "I'm just happy, confused, and scared. Things I've never felt until I met you, so I don't know what to do with them." She leads him back to the bed. "So what do you say? Will you be my Deputy?"
"Yes." Henry grins.
"Great. Now, when you clip it on, make sure we're sitting down in case another mining cave decides to collapse." With the tip of his tongue sticking out of the corner of his mouth in concentration, the boy places the Deputy badge on his jeans. They both sigh in relief when the Earth doesn't shake. A familiar ache makes itself known in Emma's chest, vivid memories of her and Graham seeping into her mind. She remembers when the very same badge Henry was now wearing was on her, and Graham smiling.
"Hmm?" She snaps out of her reverie.
"You okay?" He looks up at her with wide, concerned eyes that melt her heart. They remind her so much of Graham's.
"Yeah." She takes his hand in hers. "Let's get you out of here and… home." Maybe Emma isn't ready to be a daughter or anyone's hero. But she's more than ready to be a mother. Maybe she has been her whole life. Maybe all she needed was one special boy to realize it.