WARNING: Possible spoilers for 3x01? I'm not sure, it's nothing specific. Don't get me wrong, I loved that Emma was finally punching back at Snow and Charming, cause damn I'd be pissed too and if you think about it, the whole situation is super messed up and weird, but every time I think about what was taken from Snow, my heart breaks.
So, here, have my feelings.
"It's not easy, you know," comes a quiet voice in the darkness. Neverland seemed most comfortable in the dead of night and so it has insofar stayed that way; since their arrival two days ago, moonlight and shadow had settled around them, and in the calmer moments Emma swears she can almost feel herself sinking into it.
The regression comes on fast - if her embarrassingly frank dress down of her parents before the whole mermaid incident is anything to go by - and surprisingly painful. Disquiet, equal parts desperation and bitterness, has crept into her bones. It is nothing she does not remember, but she regrets allowing it to resurface. Since arriving in Storybrooke, a combination of friends, a son and a job she could actually be proud of had helped push down the rough rolling stone she had been for years, but Neverland had brought it all rushing back - well, it made sense that if there could be no future, there was only room for the past. Were she not a raging bitch, Emma might actually agree with Tamara. Magic sucked.
Mary Margaret steps out onto the river bank where Emma is picking at the grass. Neal's cutlass rests across her thighs and her keen eyes focus on the tree line, the river, her shoes, astutely avoiding her mother. There can be no eye contact - Emma cannot risk it, not yet. Whatever sourness that had climbed under her skin was now joyfully clinging to her anger, and catching her mothers eye now would ruin it all. The disgruntled orphan within her applauds her self control.
So, mother and daughter sit in silence for a few slightly awkward minutes. It comes as no surprise to either woman that Mary Margaret, with a tone which smacks of Snow White, breaks the silence first.
"It is not easy," she begins, her voice so low it almost gets lost under the noise of the babbling river. "I had a baby - a beautiful, perfect baby - for only a single moment, and yet somehow it was so much more than enough to make me realise that every second of pain I'd endured up until that moment was worth it. Because she existed. Because she was out there somewhere. Because I knew that the world - every world - was a better place with her in it." Mary Margaret sniffs loudly and turns to glare at a curtain of blonde hair. Emma can feel real, deep, aching pain radiating from her mother, and despite the guilt that rises in her, she still cannot quite look up.
They both know it has nothing to do with defiance or rebellion; her refusal to face her mother is pure cowardice. Still, it doesn't prepare her for what comes next:
"So, how dare you." That does it. Emma looks up, eyes wide, mouth open. Mary Margaret holds an expression one can only call 'contempt'. Not cruel, never, but certainly unkind.
It's just enough to shock Emma out into the open. "Excuse me?"
Mary Margaret doesn't hesitate. "You heard me. How dare you. How dare you imply that this has been anything but heartbreaking for me too. Sometimes I think you forget, so let me make it perfectly clear. Twenty-eight years ago, I held my dying husband in my arms and my only thought was of a tiny, little girl and the possibility I would never see her again. And then one day, in the middle of a street in a world not my own, I woke up. Can you imagine my surprise at finding out that my baby was... gone? Just gone. And I will never see her again. I will never hold her in my arms. I won't ever hear her laugh for the first time, or kiss her goodnight, or read her a bedtime story, o-or - oh." She chokes on a strangled sob, but continues on, the back of her hand pressing tightly against her mouth.
"I know this is hard for you, really I do, and you have every right to be angry. But it's hard for me too. I am angry, too. Don't tell me we have the life experience, because we don't. Henry is still a kid, still little enough to trust you, to love you without conditions, and even though I wouldn't change a single hair on your head, I can't help but wish things were different. You never knew us - but for nine months I knew you. I have loved you since the day I found out you existed. So, what's worse? Grieving for what you never had, or mourning what you had and lost?"
Without apology or second glance, Mary Margaret stands and moves to leave. Having finally spoken her peace, she seems - feels - lighter. The tension eases away from her shoulders; by osmosis, whatever disturbance there had been between them slips away too and something akin to understanding replaces it.
"Loss," Emma says suddenly. Mary Margaret pauses and at first Emma thinks it's because she might be waiting for more - no, please, don't expect more, I'm scraping the bottom of the barrel here - but a small sigh, followed by a soft footstep, tells her she just wasn't loud enough.
So, a little more confidently, she repeats, "Loss is worse."