"Can you… tell me about my dad?"
It was the question Emma Swan had been dreading when she'd decided to become a permanent resident of Storybrooke, Maine, with her biological son Henry. Henry's birth father had no idea Henry existed, and Emma didn't want him to know. Emma didn't want Henry to know anything about the man, or what they'd done before the boy's conception and her subsequent jail sentence… the thing that led her to give him up for adoption.
She looked down at him, oh God he looked so much like Neal. Dark hair, dark eyes… but her chin. He had her chin.
She wanted to lie so badly, to protect herself against those memories of Neal, good memories, until that night in Portland when she was arrested, unknowingly pregnant.
But she knew Henry had been lied to by Regina. He'd been hurt, obviously, by Regina, even if Emma didn't exactly believe in what he was saying about fairytales and curses. She was going along with it, to make Henry happy.
Lying to him would only hurt him, and that was the last thing Emma wanted.
So, Emma took a deep breath, looking at Henry as he ate his pumpkin pie while sitting in the backseat of the cruiser. "Okay," she whispered. "I'll tell you about him… but you have to promise me something Henry."
He looked up at her, questioning her. "What is it, Emma?"
"You don't tell anyone about what I said."
His eyes went wide, and she knew he understood this probably wasn't going to be very pleasant. Even so, he nodded, his curiosity getting the better of him. Just like Neal and herself.
He settled into the backseat when Emma leaned against the car, looking at him with sad eyes.
"Your father and I met in Portland… we were both on the streets having to do… whatever we could to survive." The whole 'I stole a car your dad stole' wouldn't be that important. "He and I were both thieves, and… we decided to stay together. You know, strength in numbers."
Henry nodded, understanding.
She smiled a little. "We had a lot of fun, stealing bits of food we could from gas stations, breaking into hotel rooms to shower and sleep… and your Dad told me about dream catchers. How they can remove your bad dreams." Emma smiled and ruffled his hair. This part of the story she didn't mind telling him. That was her happiest memory with Neal. "Then, your dad had a map of the United States, and we were both ready to give up the, as he put it, 'Bonnie and Clyde' act. So he had me point to a place on the map, and I chose Tallahassee as the place where we would have started over."
Henry had stopped eating, a small smile on his face at the thought of his parents stopping their life of petty crimes.
"So… a couple of months later, I found out that he was wanted in Arizona… for stealing watches. Twenty-thousand dollars worth of watches," she explained, suddenly finding interest in the zipper on her jacket.
Henry stared at her again. "Then what…?" he asked.
"I… I offered to get the watches from a train station locker, and he was going to sell them, so we could get the cash and go to Vancouver and start over… before going to Tallahassee."
She sighed, bending over to get in the car as Henry slid over to give her room, she shut the door, wanting complete privacy. "Only then… I-I was caught by the police because your dad gave me one to wear. He framed me, the officer said. He called in that I had one of the stolen watches. So they carted me off to jail, and I got an eleven month sentence… and I found out I was pregnant with you while there. I wanted to keep you so badly Henry, because it was a piece of him that I didn't know if I would ever have again, but… I was eighteen, in jail, and I didn't have any money or support systems so I… I thought giving you up would be the best…"
By this point, Henry had set the pumpkin pie down on the empty spot next to him. When Emma finished her story, his arms found their way around her waist, holding her tight. Tears stung her eyes.
"I love you Henry," she whispered, kissing his head.
Something happened. A light rippled through the town, coming from she and Henry. The boy's eyes widened, his head lifted from Emma's side as they exchanged the same look.
"What just happened Henry?" she whispered, opening the door, both of them scrambling out of the car.
Henry looked around, noticing Archie out of his office.
"The curse…" he whispered. "I-I think you broke it."
Emma stared. "Henry, that's impossible…"
But Henry was already back in the car, grabbing for his book. "Please… how else could that thing be explained? Look at their faces?"
As much as she wanted to shrug it off to another car's headlights… that whatever-it-was, felt physical. So, Emma had no choice but to actually think the impossible.
With shaking hands, she reached out for Henry's book, and she felt a wave of… something crash over her.
Mary-Margaret and David holding her.
David putting her in the wardrobe.
She gasped, her hand withdrawing from the book as if it was on fire.
"Oh my God…" she whispered. "Oh my God Henry…"
Her son's face twisted with glee. "You believe!"
"Yeah Henry… I believe."
But oh, she wish she didn't believe. Neal, her damn lover, Henry's damn father, was Rumpelstiltskin… Mr. Gold's son.
She could only stare at Neal as he got into it with his father.
"You two know each other."
She couldn't help it. "No we-"
"You are lying!" Gold said, glaring at Emma.
Henry entered the room, his eyes wide as he made his way over to her. "What's going on? Why is everyone yelling?" he looked at Neal. "Is that Baelfire?"
She saw Neal's look, and her heart sank. But she wouldn't give up, not yet.
"Hey, kid, listen… this is private so I need you to go in the other room for a little longer, alright? C'mon…" she said, Henry going with her easily.
"Who is he?"
"My son," she replied, not even looking at Neal.
"Hey kid, how old are you?"
"Don't answer him Henry," she said, grip tightening.
But Neal… Baelfire… whatever the hell his name was, didn't give up, and Henry finally had enough.
"ELEVEN!" he shouted, and Emma knew it was over.
Neal stared at Henry, then up at Emma.
"Is this my son?"
She said nothing.
"Is he mine, Emma?"
"…Mom?" Henry asked, staring at her.
Tears stung her eyes as she took Henry's face in her hands.
Neal let out a choked sound, hands in front of his mouth as he breathed heavily. Henry turned away from her, still shocked, but not angry… at least, at her.
"You left her," he said, looking at Neal.
"I-I didn't know…" Neal stuttered. "If… if I would have known I wouldn't have…"
Henry shook his head, clearly disappointed, before climbing onto the fire escape. Emma gave Neal a short glare, before following him.
Alright, so this was just a quick little thing that I was inspired by while watching "Manhattan". I might add another chapter of Neal talking to Henry, but I might hold off on that until I see "The Queen is Dead" to see if there's a scene with Neal and Henry in it.