Prompt written for hesjustsopretty on Tumblr: "Charming not being able to get off the island so Snow stays with him and Emma's reaction to it, maybe even hook comforting her."
I misread the prompt a bit so this focuses far more on Charming than on Emma, though she certainly does appear.
This is based after 3.07, disregard anything after that episode.
They don't build a treehouse.
Instead, they take over Neal's cave. It's more easily defensible and that's something they're going to need. Also, they're more familiar with the area around it, and Neal spends a few minutes hastily explaining some of the more readily available food sources and dangers specific to the island. They listen, of course, but in fact Hook has been feeding David all of the necessary facts of Neverland survival over the past few days, one low mutter or pointed-out plant at a time. David and Snow are well prepared by the time everyone else leaves, and he feels confident that they could continue to live safely on Neverland for a very long time, if they follow Hook's rules.
Of course, the first one is 'don't get on Pan's bad side', so the odds aren't exactly in their favor, but they've never shied away from adversity before.
They move into the cave, building their own larger mattress and furnishing the space with as many supplies as they could carry from the ship before it departed. They fish and hunt boar and bathe in the river, improvise their own cooking utensils and carefully avoid the poisonous plant-life. They move side by side, never straying away, and keep candles lit constantly to defend themselves from any shadows that may come visiting. David keeps his sword sharpened and Snow makes sure she never runs out of arrows, but Pan and his Lost Boys never appear.
They lie together on their small, lumpy mattress in the dark, dank cave and David kisses Snow slowly, with all his heart. He loves her with every part of himself, he loves her so much, he loves her more than words or magic could ever show, and he knows she feels the same. He wishes one of them loved less, because if either of them had, Snow could have gone home and left him here.
Henry cried when they told him. It hurt, to see the relieved smile slide off his face to be replaced by trembling lips and watery eyes. He'd tried to protest, that there had to be something they could do, had to be some way to save them, had they kissed? True Love could break any curse –
"It's not a curse, Henry," David said, bending down to look his grandson in the eye. "It's a cure. Without it, I'd be dead right now… and if we could reverse it, that's probably what would happen."
In the end, Henry had been forced to accept it – they simply didn't have time to wait around and try to fix a problem that, in any case, both Regina and Rumplestiltskin agreed could not be fixed. The group had managed to defeat Pan, and tie his magic to the island so that not even his Shadow could escape, but killing him outright was impossible and they needed to get out of his reach before he recovered enough to come after them.
Henry hugged David for a full minute, and was crying again before they let go.
David knew he was crying too, but he didn't care. He just held his grandson even closer, knowing this would be the last time.
"Goodbye Henry," he whispered finally. "Take good care of that pony of yours – a knight needs a noble steed."
"Gramps, we can't leave you. There's gotta be a way."
"You know there isn't. You have to go, Henry. I just – I just want to tell you how much I love you, and how proud of you I am. You're going to be the best prince the world's ever seen, a real hero." David's voice broke on the last few words, and he had to take a deep breath before slowly drawing back, nudging Henry in Snow's direction. "Go say goodbye to your grandma, kid."
He wasn't a strong enough man to watch what followed. He knew Snow's heart was breaking, knew Henry's was, knew it was his fault and he wasn't strong enough to watch that happen. He looked away, at the jungle that was to be his home for the rest of his life.
Later, he regretted that. He should have watched Henry, should have watched Emma in every moment, because that was the last he ever saw of them and he should have savored every second.
Snow marks the days on the walls of the cave. She scrubs Neal's off first, with a wet rag from one of the blankets that had been in the cave, and starts fresh, a tally in neat white lines.
They don't plan to give up on finding a way home, but the problem is that everyone in Neverland is their enemy and they don't have the right information to do anything themselves. Neither of them really know anything about magic, except the True Love's kiss that does them no good now. And the truth is, they haven't been able to just be together in so very long. They've always been separated, always yearning for one another and their periods of happiness have been so brief. So for a while, it's… it's actually nice.
They haven't seen any Lost Boys, and there's been no sign of Pan, even when the lines reach double-digits. Even when it's been a fortnight. Snow and Charming are totally alone, so far as they can tell, and the days pass by almost peacefully. Life is simple and they are together, and in so many ways, that's enough. They just want to rest, just to love each other and not worry about anything else, just for a little bit.
One morning, David wakes earlier than Snow and wanders over to check the wall, feeling vaguely curious about how long it has been, wondering if perhaps it's time they start their search for a way home. Maybe they could deal with the mermaids.
He counts the marks on the walls, following them around the room. They fill up far more of the space than he'd expected, and he loses track several times as he tries to keep the days straight when they turn into weeks, into months, longer.
"Snow," he says, horrified. "Has it really been this long?"
She blinks up at him sleepily, only half-awake. "I thought you were marking the time now? I stopped a while ago."
"I understand why you're doing this," Emma said, her lips in a flat, distressed line. "I do. I tried to do it myself in the Enchanted Forest. But Mary-Margaret told me – she told me 'we go back together, or not at all.'"
She had tears in her eyes, and he thought, my little girl.
"Emma… I would love that. But this is for Henry. I can't let you both stay here for me, not when Pan is just going to go after Henry again."
"So we'll just beat him again," Emma shrugged, like it was no big deal, but her mouth was trembling at the corners, she was blinking hard. She already knew.
"I never said thank you, before," David told her. "Mary-Margaret couldn't forgive me for not telling you all earlier that I was poisoned, but you understood."
She choked back a sob and he had to clench his hands into tight fists to keep from reaching out to her. She sniffed, and wiped at her eyes, and when she looked back at him her gaze was clear and forgiving.
"You're right," she said. "I understood."
"Emma," David sighed, heart breaking at the bravery in her, at the pain she carried and the thought that he'd only ever added to it. Thought again: my little girl.
"Davi–" Emma stopped. Pressed her lips together hard, then said, "Dad."
He couldn't stop himself from holding her any longer. He reached out and wrapped his arms around her, as tightly as possible. Closed his eyes and kissed the side of her head and breathed her in, Emma, his Emma.
It was simultaneously the worst and best moment of his life when she reached up to hug him back (hug him goodbye).
"I'm losing you," she whispered hoarsely, clutching him tight. "I never even had you but I'm always losing you."
"I love you, Emma," he told her in return, kissed her again and repeated it, "I love you so much."
When he opened his eyes, he saw Hook watching them from a short distance away, eyes hooded and lonely.
David pulled back and kissed Emma on the forehead. "Please," he told his daughter, told the woman who was never really his little girl, the woman who had only ever had everything taken from her, "please Emma, just… be happy. Let yourself be happy, no matter what it takes."
He met Hook's eyes over her shoulder.
Emma glanced back to see what he was looking back before she answered. Her cheeks flushed a little, and she got a scared look in her eyes, but she was so strong, always so strong, had gotten the best of him and Snow both, and she nodded firmly.
"Okay," she promised. "Okay. I will."
The mermaids won't make any deals. The closest they ever get is when one drags Charming into the water and wraps a piece of seaweed tights around his neck, hissing and choking him until Snow, holding another at knifepoint, negotiates his safe release. Apparently the book and movies lied about there being natives on the island, or else Pan killed them long ago, because no amount of searching reveals any such tribe.
The Lost Boys, once they finally track them down, can't or won't tell them anything, except that Pan can be found on Skull Rock, so that's where they go next. The island is as ominous and beautiful as ever; unlike the rest of the island, though, it still shows clear signs of damage from the fight to get Henry back. In fact, with the way Pan is lounging against the wall, exactly where Regina once slammed him across the room with her magic, the place seems almost as though no time whatsoever has passed.
"I was wondering when you'd come," the boy smirks, straightening up and dusting off his hands. "Prince Charming and Snow White, what an honor."
"Why haven't you come after us?" Snow demands, arrow notched and ready. "I know you hate us for what we've done."
"It took you long enough to get here," Pan goes on, ignoring her. "Distracted, were we? I know everything that happens on this island, by the way."
With a disgusted sound, David rushes forward and swings his sword, hoping to bisect that infuriating smirk, but he only succeeds in slashing air. Pan disappears completely and reappears behind Snow, who whirls to shoot him – but he catches the arrow easily and only smiles wider, spreading his arms wide in invitation.
"Did you really come here to fight? Come on then."
David is more than willing to take him up on that offer, but Snow holds him back with a sharp glance and a, "Charming!"
"No," she says, turning to Pan. "We're not here to fight. We're here because we want to leave the island."
Pan raises an eyebrow, grinning smugly. "By all means – you know the price."
"There's got to be some other way to pay."
"There isn't." Pan's voice goes tight, though he's still smiling wide. "You see, I am angry with you – hundreds of years of planning, wasted. So consider this my revenge: you can never leave Neverland. If you do, Snow, your dear Prince Charming is going to die. There is no other way. You can live here, you can die here, but you can never leave. Much like me."
Snow's arrow lowers. "No," she whispers.
"Yes," Pan sneers. "But don't worry. You won't feel bothered for too long. After all, you've got each other – and all the time in the world."
He laughs, a hollow, bitter sound, and gestures at the destroyed cave around them. "What more could you want?"
Neither one of them is able to answer.
"Hook, I need to talk to you."
The pirate walked over to join David on the outskirts of the group, raising a cautious eyebrow. "I doubt I have much more wisdom to offer, mate. As long as you remember what I've told you–"
"We'll be fine, we've survived in the woods before," David interrupted. "No, I need to talk to you about Emma."
Hook straightened instantly, eyes bright. His jaw worked slightly. "Say what you need to say."
David glanced across the beach to where Emma was talking in low voices with Mary-Margaret. Both women were crying. Hook followed his eyes, and the distress, the concern on the pirate's face was enough to convince David that this conversation was the right thing to do. If it was the last thing he could do as a father, at least he should do it now.
"Emma is going to need someone, after this. She'll try to be strong for Henry, but she won't be able to do it on her own. She'll need family."
"Ah," Hook grinned forcedly. "And this is you warning the pirate away? Don't worry mate, I don't intend to stick my nose where it doesn't belong. I won't be intruding on her and her Neal. She doesn't need that now."
"That's not what I'm saying." David leveled a glare at Hook, his best attempt at a fatherly glare. It had all the right emotion behind it, but far too little practice, days instead of years. "I'm saying… I hardly know anything about my own daughter. I wasn't around for the first twenty-eight years of her life – she's almost as old as I am and I missed all of that. So I don't know her history with Neal. All I know is that before we found him – she smiled a lot more than I've ever seen her. Smiled at you."
Hook's face held all that same familiar pain and aching hope, glancing back to Emma, who was now hugging her mother with Henry sandwiched between them. When he turned back to David, his words were stumbling, almost frantic: "Are you – are you giving me your –?"
"It's still Emma's choice," David said bluntly. "And she might not choose you. But if she does – or even if she doesn't – I need to know that you will be there for her, even if she never asks you to be."
Hook was looking at David as though he were seeing him in a whole new light. "And if she doesn't choose me, what motivation will I have for staying?"
"Because you love her," David said, leaning in close, angry because he hadn't ever wanted to say this. He didn't want to rush this, didn't want to have to say goodbye and leave Emma in any other man's arms, to try and choose which man's arms he'd prefer her to be in. He didn't want to ever leave her, but most of all he didn't want her to be alone. "And because I know you have the makings of a good man somewhere in you. You can be that man. For her."
Hook opened his mouth slightly, but it was a long moment before he formed any words. "Aye," he said eventually, voice hoarse. "I will."
David nodded, and clapped Hook on the arm. The pirate jumped slightly, blinking at his own arm as though it had never been touched before.
"Good," David said. "All I want is her happiness."
"We're in accord," Hook whispered, eyes drawn back to Emma as they always were, staring at her the same way David knew he looked at Snow.
The days slip by as if in a dream. David wakes with Snow, wrapped up so close in her arms he feels as though he is breathing her in. Her skin is warm and smooth and he doesn't want to get up at all. He kisses her everywhere he can, laughing when she squirms at the tickle of his breath against her stomach, her neck, her ear. When she finally wakes, she's giggling and pulling him closer, kissing him deeply, grinning against his lips.
"Good morning, Charming."
They try to build more additions to their home – furniture, more sophisticated cooking utensils, better lighting. They go hunting, they spar each other, they avoid the Lost Boys. They stay in bed for days, sometimes the Neverland night lasts for weeks on end, sometimes the sunrise takes a month. They go swimming, they run through the woods, they roll around in the sand laughing like children.
Sometimes they discuss children – wanting them, unable to conceive them in Neverland.
Sometimes they wake up crying and they don't know why.
Sometimes they are building sandcastles and they remember their own castle, remember their wedding, Regina's fury, remember the worry in the months that followed, as Snow's stomach grew, as –
(sometimes there's a flash in his mind and David remembers fighting with one arm tucked in close to his body, getting wounded but not caring in the least so long as he keeps her safe, protects her, saves her until the day she will save him)
(sometimes he remembers soft brown hair under his hand, a wide grin, fighting with wooden swords, caring for a pony, laughing, smiling, candles at night and pancakes for breakfast and warmth in his heart because this boy is one-third of his everything)
(sometimes he remembers a woman, so strong and so brave and so damaged, so beautiful and broken and how he wanted to hold her in his arms and never let her go, how he let her go)
– the memories are difficult to grasp. Snow and Charming struggle with them, struggle occasionally with the idea that they ought to be leaving, that something very important is out there…
But no other world has ever done this for them. No other world has allowed them to just be together, just be in love and together and that is all they have ever wanted. Every other world has tried to part David from Snow, he knows this though he can't always recall exactly how, and he refuses to ever let that happen again.
Perhaps it's selfish, but he doesn't much care. He doesn't much care for anything outside of Snow.
They hike over every inch of the island, exploring, and one day they finally come to the top of Dead Man's Peak. They slash the dreamshade out of the way with David's sword to reveal the spring behind, and laugh because it's a hot day, this is a perfect discovery.
Snow is just about to stick her head under the water when David feels a flash of foreboding, and pulls her back.
"Wait," he warns. "Wait. If you drink that, you won't ever be able to leave."
Snow smiles, sweet and wide, and drinks deeply before she reaches up to kiss him. Her lips taste sweet, like magic is happening. "I have you here. Why would I ever want to leave?"
("Be careful, mate," Hook warned him as the two groups separated for the last time. "Neverland attracts those who are lost, and if you aren't already, it has a way of making you lost."
David laughed bitterly, watching his daughter and grandson's backs as they walked away. "What else have I got to lose?")