Title: Story Hour
Summary: All three of Emma's family members were staring at her expectantly. Really? She was sick, for crying out loud! They were seriously going to make her sit here and tell them stories? On the other hand, she would get stories in return, stories she was surprised to find she really wanted to hear.
Spoilers: None, really, but let's just say everything up through 2x10, "The Cricket Game."
Rating/Warning: K+, for Emma's mouth. Family fluff.
Disclaimer: Once Upon a Time and its characters were created by Eddie Kitsis and Adam Horowitz and are owned by ABC. I'm just swinging on their swingset.
Author's Note: This is another one of those "I have a bunch of ideas for little oneshots, so let's see if I can come up with a cohesive way to tie them together" ideas. Shoutout to tjmack, whose excitement helped push this idea into reality. As always, feedback is love. Enjoy!


"You are aware that you're being completely ridiculous, right?" Emma Swan grumbled.

Her mother's actions were all so … unnecessary. She was actually helping Emma sit down in the corner of the small sofa, as if sitting were such a difficult chore. The amount of concern swimming in Snow White's eyes was a little disconcerting … and, Emma felt, largely disproportionate. She was about to say as much when Snow pressed the back of her hand against her forehead. Emma's mouth dropped open in a combination of embarrassment and horror. "Seriously?"

"Yes, seriously," Snow replied. Emma blinked in surprise at the unusually stern tone of her mother's voice. When the corners of Snow's mouth turned down in a frown, Emma guessed that the hand-on-the-forehead test for a fever had been inconclusive. She placed a pillow she'd grasped from the downstairs bedroom against the arm of the sofa, which Emma studiously ignored. "And I'm not being ridiculous. You almost passed out."

"I did not almost pass out."

With a resigned sigh, Snow grabbed the blanket draped over the top of the sofa. Emma snatched it from her hands before she could do much more than shake it out because she would be damned if she'd let her mother freaking tuck her in. "Oh, really?" Snow asked as Emma bunched the blanket up on her lap. "What happened, then?"

"I just got a little dizzy," Emma shrugged.

"First of all, Emma, that was not 'a little dizzy.' Your face went pure white and you almost dropped. On the steps to the loft, I might add." Emma felt heat rush into her cheeks. Aw, damn it, she was blushing. "Second of all, don't think I haven't noticed how nasal your voice sounds, the way you keep rubbing your ears, or how you cringe every time you swallow. You, my darling daughter, have what I'm guessing is a doozy of a head cold, and you are not going to do a single thing except sit on that sofa for the rest of the day."

Emma was not about to deny that she was a little congested and that her throat was a tiny bit sore. That being said, a simple head cold did not exactly warrant the kind of total lockdown her mother was advocating. "Okay, doctor, how the hell does a head cold make me almost pass out? Not that I almost passed out, but since you seem to think I did–"

"Could be any number of things," Snow interrupted, making an obviously concerted effort not to take Emma's argumentative bait. "Maybe you're hungry or dehydrated. Or it could be because your equilibrium is in your inner ear, so if you're really congested–"

"Okay, fine, I get it," Emma grumbled. Now that she thought about it, she had attempted to blow her nose before leaving her room and stopped when the effort hurt her ears. Barely a minute later, she'd had the episode on the steps that had led to … this. Her mother hovering over her as if she were an infant with her first illness.

That inner ear thing Snow had mentioned must have been what caused her dizzy spell. Not that she would ever admit that to her mother.

All of her thoughts came to a crashing halt when Snow once again tried to feel her forehead for a fever. "Oh my God, would you just stop?!"

"You still feel a little warm," Snow murmured almost under her breath. "I'll be right back."

When Snow disappeared into the bathroom, Emma groaned. Fantastic. Now she was searching for a thermometer. She pushed herself to her feet with a grunt and shuffled into the bathroom. "I'm not an invalid, you know," she muttered, leaning against the doorjamb. "I can get the damn thermometer myself."

As luck would have it, a sneeze chose that exact moment to try to escape. The effort of holding it back made Emma's ears ache much like they had when she tried to blow her nose.

Aw, crap.

A little groan escaped her lips. She pressed herself against the wall and squeezed her eyes shut as a wave of dizziness washed over her. Snow was by her side an instant later, one hand gripping Emma's elbow and the other arm wrapped around her shoulders in an effort to keep her upright. The vertigo hit in earnest a second later. Though Emma would never admit it out loud, she was kind of glad Snow was there. This episode was a lot stronger than the one on the stairs.

Just as quickly as the vertigo had come, it passed. "You with me?" Snow asked, her grip loosening a little when Emma tried to stand under her own power.

"Yeah," she murmured weakly, an embarrassed flush coloring her pale cheeks. "It looks like there's something to that inner ear theory of yours."

"It's not a theory of mine," Snow chuckled. "It's medical fact. Now, will you please stay on the sofa?"

Snow began slowly walking Emma back towards the couch. Emma started to insist that Snow didn't need to accompany her but the look on her mother's face stopped her. The woman was clearly worried but there was a spark in her eyes that told Emma she better not argue if she knew what was good for her.

Emma didn't think she liked this side of her mother. It made her feel about five years old. "I guess," she grumbled. Arguing wasn't an option but letting her mother know she wasn't happy about her forced imprisonment on the couch was.

David and Henry returned to the apartment from their quick groceryrun just as Snow once again sat Emma down on the sofa. "Mom? Are you sick?" Henry asked as he reached up to set the bags in his hands on the counter.

"No, but you'd never know it with the way Mother Hen over here is acting." A sneeze into her elbow swallowed the end of Emma's sentence. She groaned inwardly; the damn things had such terrible timing.

"You're not sick, hmm?" David gently teased. "I think the sneezing and the nasal-y voice might have something to say about that."

"And I'm acting the way I am because of your inner ear," Snow reminded her before heading back to the bathroom to retrieve the medication and thermometer she hadn't had the chance to get earlier.

Henry wrinkled his nose in his grandmother's direction before turning the same questioning look on his mother. "Don't ask," Emma told him, rolling her eyes. Giving a small shrug, Henry plopped down on the sofa and cuddled up next to her. "Oh, kid, don't get too close! I don't want you to get sick."

The second the words were out of her mouth, Emma wished she could take them back. Damn it, she'd just admitted that she was sick! She met her father's eyes with a cringe. David just smirked at her. "I'll take the chance," Henry said with a smile, recapturing her attention. "I just want to make sure you're okay."

"I'm fine," Emma groaned, trying and failing not to let her exasperation show. She wasn't frustrated with Henry, of course; just the situation in general. "It's just some congestion and a sore throat."

"It's a good thing we bought some ice cream, then," David said gently as he put the groceries away.

Oh, ice cream on her throat sounded heavenly.

"Tea or cocoa will do the trick as well," Snow said as she emerged from the bathroom. She strode to the sofa and handed Emma a dose of cold medicine and the thermometer. "Temperature first. I'll get you some water for the pills."

"This isn't the stuff that's going to knock me on my ass, is it?" Emma asked, frowning down at the pills her mother had dropped in her hand.

"No, but I'll get the nighttime medication for you instead if you keep questioning me over every little thing." Snow hid a smile when Emma huffed and rolled her eyes. "Are you always this horrible of a patient?"

As a matter of fact, she was. She could not stand people fussing over her. "I'm just used to handling things on my own. I never really had anyone to take care of me, so I learned how to take care of myself pretty quickly."

Her parents exchanged a pained glance, making Emma feel about two inches tall. "I'm sorry," she winced. "I didn't mean for that to come out the way it did."

"No, Emma, it's okay," David rushed to assure her. He glanced at Snow, who nodded at him, urging him to continue. "We … we want to know. We want to know what we've missed … if and when you want to tell us."

Emma must have looked as uncomfortable as she felt because Henry gave her a kind smile before snuggling closer. "We could all tell stories! Like, you tell us something and then I tell you something and then Gramma–"

"I get it," Emma interrupted, holding up a hand.

All three of her family members were staring at her expectantly. Really? She was sick, for crying out loud! They were seriously going to make her sit here and tell them stories from her life? On the other hand, she would get stories in return, stories she was surprised to find she really wanted to hear.

Plus, per order of Doctor Snow White, she couldn't go anywhere today anyway. It was shaping up to be a mighty long day without something to do to pass the time. "All right, fine," she sighed. "I guess we can share storytelling duties."

Snow and David smiled in touched relief while Henry threw his arms around her in a sideways hug. Emma hugged him back, a slight grin on her lips. The feeling of her son's arms around her would never get old. She shut her eyes and rested her cheek against the top of Henry's head for a brief moment. "Temperature," Snow reminded her when she lifted her head.

Heaving a sigh, Emma stuck the tip of the thermometer under her tongue. The room held a collective breath as everyone waited for the device to beep, which made Emma ridiculously uncomfortable.

A tense minute passed before the thermometer beeped. Emma pulled it from her mouth but before she had a chance to even glance at the display, Snow snatched it from her hand. "Hey!"

"A hundred even," Snow sighed, shaking her head. She turned the thermometer off and handed her daughter a glass of water while gently shifting her grandson away from his mother. Henry might not mind catching the cold from Emma, but Snow didn't want him getting sick. If Emma felt well enough to truly be aware, she would be protesting his close proximity for the same reason. "Medicine, Emma. Now."

Emma rolled her eyes at her mother's stern instruction. She popped the pills in her mouth, though, mostly because she didn't dare disobey Snow. The ache in her throat when she swallowed them down with a gulp of water made her flinch. "Do you think I could have some of that ice cream now?" she asked sheepishly.

David laughed and let the remaining groceries sit while he scooped out a small bowl of ice cream for his daughter. Henry slid off the sofa to get himself some ice cream, too, not because his throat was sore but because he couldn't watch Emma eat ice cream and not have some of his own.

When her father walked the bowl over to her, Emma smiled a thank you. The first bite of ice cream was as lovely and soothing as she hoped it would be. Someone needed to develop some kind of throat lozenge made entirely of ice cream. Those things would sell like hotcakes … er, no pun intended.

After Emma finished, she threw the blanket off her legs with the intention of bringing her bowl to the sink. Unfortunately Snow spotted her movement, took the bowl and spoon from her hand, and carried them to the sink for her.

Emma sighed, slumping back against the sofa. So far, this day was annoying the ever-living crap out of her.

David put away the last of the groceries and joined his family in the living area. "Is it story time?" Henry asked excitedly.

"It is indeed," Snow affirmed as she handed Emma a mug of tea with a splash of honey. Off Emma' s confused frown, she said, "You need to keep up with your fluids. Now, who wants to get the ball rolling on story time?"