Misty Haven, Maine
In the last few months, there had been very happy and very sad times. Emma, their baby girl, was all grown up and had just graduated High School. But it was bittersweet. During the months of Emma’s senior year, Tessa became very ill. They had found a tumor in her brain and the prognosis was terminal.
The tumor was inoperable and the treatments would have made Tessa even sicker without changing the ultimate outcome. So she made the decision to discontinue treatment and spend her remaining months with the little family that had become her own.
They were sad, but Mary took to running the diner for her and hired extra help since she had just finished getting her teaching degree.
The three of them spent as much time with Tessa as possible and though she didn’t say it, they knew she also missed her estranged daughter.
That’s when David decided to use the available resources at the police station to track down Tessa’s daughter, Tara Gray. It had been a lot of work, but he proved that he was good at finding people and contacted her to tell her that her mother was dying.
Despite her falling out with her mother, Tara came all the way from her new home in Portland Oregon to see Tessa.
Tara’s first reaction to the people that had supposedly been living with her mother for the last seventeen years was not good. She was standoffish at best with David when he greeted her at the airport and the drive back to Tessa’s diner had been quiet and uncomfortable.
It was just like her mother to take in strays and she was instantly convinced that these people had probably been taking advantage of her mother. But that was before she saw her mother with the two women she was told were Mary and Emma.
“Oh...I’m just so proud of you both. Emma graduating High School already. Stars, it feels like yesterday you were toddling around the diner while your mother waitressed,” Tessa gushed.
“Tell me about it,” Mary said, getting misty eyed.
“And you...getting your teaching degree. I’m just so proud. You’ll be the most wonderful teacher,” Tessa added.
“Thank you...but I could have never done it without the encouragement from my family, especially you,” Mary said, as the tears started to fall.
“Oh child...it’s all right. I’m gonna be okay,” Tessa assured them.
“That’s not what the doctor said, Nana,” Emma cried.
“I know honey. I’m going to pass on from this life, but it’s only the end of one journey and the beginning of another. I’ve had a very long, good life, so very good, these last years with you and your parents. It’s time for me to go be with my beloved Reggie,” she explained, as her girls cried. It was at that point that David knocked softly and they looked up, seeing the young woman there.
“Tara…is that really you?” Tessa uttered in amazement.
“Hello Mom,” Tara said, as she came into the room.
“We should give you some time,” Mary said, as she wiped her tears and was about to usher Emma out of the room. But Tara stopped her.
“No...you should all stay. It’s clear that you’re family as much as I am,” she admitted. Mary smiled at her and leaned back against her husband, as he put his arms around her.
And with her family around her, Tessa passed away, just before midnight. The days following were sad days and they grieved together. The burial ceremony was beautiful and many who had frequented Tessa’s diner over the years, attended.
It was a few days later when Mary received a job offer in Portland, Oregon from Tara. The woman was the principal of an elementary school in Portland and offered the open position to Mary as a way to thank her for taking care of her mother and making her happy. After discussing it at length, Mary and David made the decision to take her up on it and once Emma graduated, they moved to Portland.
The diner was signed over to a lovely pair of women, who had also worked for Tessa for a long time and they knew it would be in good hands.
Portland was a new experience for the Swan family. Mary loved her new job, David liked his new position at the Portland Police Department, and Emma started taking classes at the Community college.
But it was at a store near the campus that she met Neal Cassidy a couple months after they moved there. The next few months following that were very worrisome for Mary and David, as Emma rebelled and was drawn into Neal’s schemes. Emma knew that Neal was a thief, but love had blinded her, so much so, that she had no idea he was actually a wanted man in Phoenix.
When wanted posters for him began to surface in Portland, he told Emma that he needed to go to Canada for a while and asked her to run away with him. Head over heels in love as she was, she agreed.
Before they were set to run away together, Emma left her parents a letter, telling them that she loved them, but she wanted to be with Neal.
That night, at Neal’s request, Emma went to retrieve something from a locker at the train station for him. But it turned out to be a set up and Emma was caught with stolen watches.
She was extradited to Phoenix, where the original theft had occurred and Emma felt so stupid. She loved Neal, but he had run off to Canada without her and set her up to take the fall for his crime. Her parents had been right all along and she had treated them terribly.
But their love and support never wavered. They hired an attorney and came to Phoenix for her hearing. But despite representation and a clean record, Emma had received a judge that decided he wanted to make an example of young, naive girls.
“I have reviewed your case carefully, Miss Swan and while I’m inclined to believe that you may not have truly known what was inside that locker, you most certainly knew the kind of man Mr. Cassidy was. A thief and yet, you still let love cloud your judgement. Too many young girls have been in your position, Miss Swan, but I don’t believe coddling you is the answer,” he said harshly, casting a disapproving look at her parents. David clenched his fist and Snow clutched his arm.
“Love is destructive and a lesson must be learned,” the judge continued. This callous man reminded both Snow and David of the ruthless King George, if only in disposition.
"Love is a disease,” he had harshly once told Snow. George had once punished her for loving Charming by cursing her. This judge was now going to punish Emma for loving Neal. Magic had saved Snow the pain of that curse, but there would be no magic to save her daughter from prison and it broke her heart. She had always had Charming’s love, but Emma didn’t have Neal and it seemed their love was one sided. It was something Snow couldn’t fathom and never wanted such heartache for her baby.
Many in this land did not love like they did. But they knew a different way. They knew true love was everything and it would get them through this. And together, they would get Emma through this.
“That’s why I have decided to sentence you to eleven months in a minimum security prison here in Phoenix,” she said, slamming his gavel down. Snow clutched her husband’s arm, as David glared at the judge, silently imploring him not to do anything rash.
“Mom...Daddy...I’m so sorry,” Emma sobbed. Snow hugged her tightly and tears slipped down her cheeks.
“It’s okay baby, we love you, no matter what,” Snow cried. David hugged her and cradled her head.
“Mom is right, princess. We’ll come visit as often as they’ll let us,” he promised, as the officers pried her away from her crying parents. It was soon discovered a few days later that Emma was eight weeks pregnant.
The Enchanted Forest
Laughter filled Snow’s senses, as she slowly became aware and was roused from sleep. It was strange, because the laughter almost sounded like it was under water. Her emerald eyes snapped open, as the cackling became much clearer. She clutched her stomach and instantly started to panic, noticing the swell was gone. She shot up from the floor where she was laying and screamed, as her husband lay beside her, his white tunic soaked in blood.
"No, no, no...not again…” she cried, as she leaned over him and let out a gut wrenching sob. His blue eyes were open and frozen in death.
"Charming…” she sobbed, as she noticed her hands and dress were covered in his blood. In desperation, she kissed him.
"Come back to me,” she pleaded, though she knew he was gone. This was something true love’s kiss couldn’t fix.
The evil cackle returned and she looked up at the green skinned witch, who held her baby. She reached out and then noticed the figure lying behind her, eyes also frozen open in the finality of death. And she screamed again.
"EMMA!” she sobbed uncontrollably.
"Would you look at that? I’ve everything my dear sis never could. I’ve destroyed Snow White,” she hissed, as she disappeared with the baby, leaving the broken princess behind.
Snow sat up in bed with a start, her chest heaving, as she gasped for air. She looked beside her and let out a sob of relief, as her beloved lay sleeping beside her. It had just been a dream...no a nightmare. She tried to calm her breathing and managed to get out of bed, before going to the window. It was dawn and she took in the view. They were really back. Their return to the palace had been celebrated, but marred with the revelation that the witch wanted their unborn child. She held her hands protectively over her belly and started to cry. All those wonderful memories of raising Emma were not real. What had really happened was she had to give her up to save her. Was history doomed to repeat itself?
“Snow…” David called. She quickly tried to dry her tears so as not to worry him, but he was by her side in an instant. She collapsed in his strong arms and cried against his bare chest.
“My darling…” he soothed.
“I can’t lose you...I can’t lose Emma again and I can’t lose this baby,” she sobbed.
“We will not lose Emma or this baby, not as long as there is breath in my body,” he promised. She choked back a sob.
“That’s what I’m afraid of. In my nightmare...you were killed. There was no curse to save you this time,” she sobbed, as he held her.
“We will stop her. We will get our happy ending,” he promised fiercely.
“We had it. We were so happy and I know those memories aren’t real, but I want them to be! How can they be so vivid and not be real?” she rambled.
“Because our love is real...so very real,” he replied passionately. He kissed her forehead and then her lips with tender passion, as he held her face in his hands. Their lips parted and her eyes fluttered open. She felt her heart skip a beat, as he gazed at her with so much love that it took her breath away.
“Now, why don’t you put your feet up and I’ll bring you breakfast. I’m sure the cooks are making those homemade fruit filled pastries you love,” he tempted. She smiled coyly.
“Now that you mention it, we are hungry,” she replied, as she rubbed the swell of her stomach. He smiled brightly and his hand caressed her baby bump.
“Anything for you, my darling and our baby,” he replied, as he kissed her again. She watched him put his tunic on and slip out, as she sat down on their bed. She heard a knock and saw Emma peek her head in.
“Hi sweetie...you’re up early,” Snow said, as her daughter slipped in.
“Yeah, I woke up and couldn’t go back to sleep. New place, I guess,” she shrugged, as she sat down with her mother.
“I know you miss our home in the other land. I do too. It was a good life,” Snow replied. Emma smiled.
“It was,” she agreed.
“But we can have a good life here too. Henry loves it already and he’s excited to see his Dad,” Emma added.
“And what about you?” Snow asked curiously. Emma sighed.
“I want Neal to be in Henry’s life. He’ll always be a connection between us...but I think there’s just too much damage between us,” Emma lamented.
“Is it that...or do you maybe have feelings for someone else?” Snow asked with a knowing smile. Emma rolled her eyes.
“Mom…” she protested.
“I just want you to be happy, sweetheart,” she assured her. Emma smiled.
“I am. I have a family that loves me. I have actual memories now of growing up with you and Dad. I know they’re not real, but they feel real. And they’re so good, mostly,” Emma said.
“They feel real to us too. It’s everything we wanted,” Snow agreed wistfully.
“Magic can be unpredictable,” Regina chimed in, as she stood in the doorway.
“I’m sorry, I overheard, as I was passing by,” she said. Snow smiled.
“It’s okay...come in please,” Snow requested.
“What did you mean about magic?” Emma asked curiously.
“I meant that when I implanted that initial memory in your parents, the magic may very well have grown legs of its own and spun even more vivid memories than intended. It’s why they feel real whereas your curse memories you had in Storybrooke were hazy at best,” she tried to explain, as there was another knock at the door.
“Your Majesty, I hope I’m not interrupting. I am the midwife and handmaiden that has been hired for Princess Snow,” the woman called from behind the door.
“Please come in,” Snow called. As the woman entered, Snow and Emma gasped, for the woman now standing before them looked exactly like Tessa.
“Tessa…” Snow uttered.
“I’m sorry princess?” the woman asked respectfully, snapping Snow out of her daze.
“I’m sorry, you just remind me of someone I once knew,” Snow apologized. The woman smiled kindly.
“No need for apologies, Your Majesty. My name is Tally,” she said, bowing slightly.
“It’s nice to meet you Tally,” Snow replied warmly.
“May I?” she asked, gesturing to Snow’s belly. The princess nodded and she placed her hands on the swell of Snow’s stomach.
“You’re very near your time to deliver. He or she will be very healthy I think,” she said, as she felt around. Snow smiled.
“He,” she confirmed. Tally smiled.
“A handsome little prince, who no doubt will be as charming as his father,” she said. Snow smiled and got teary, as Emma squeezed her hand.
“He will,” she agreed.
“I’ll be back later to go over everything,” she said, as she quietly left them.
“Are you okay, Mom?” Emma asked. Snow dried her tears.
“Yeah...it’s silly that I’m missing someone that wasn’t real,” she lamented.
“Hey...Tessa was pretty real to me,” Emma commented, as Snow broke down crying.
“Mom...hey it was real. For us it was real. I have two sets of childhood memories now. One that’s really bad and one that’s so good. People can tell us that it wasn’t real, but it was real to us and both sets of memories make us who we are,” she insisted. Snow sniffed.
“What’s Dad always saying...we are both? Cause he’s right. The bad memories made me who I am, but so did these good memories,” Emma told her.
“Growing up alone made me tough and strong and independent, but I also put up walls. Growing up with you and Dad made me strong in a different way. I may still have walls, but I have people inside those walls now. You, Dad, Henry, and Regina,” Emma said, looking at the Queen, who was taken aback.
“And I look at what you and Dad have...that love and I’ve never wanted that more than I do now. I could have never dreamed of hoping for such before you guys. You, Dad, and Henry have taught me to believe in love and hope. And that is real,” Emma said passionately, as Snow cried.
“I’m just so frightened that it’s all going to be taken away again...that I’m going to lose this baby like I lost you,” she confessed.
“You’re not going to lose this one,” Regina said firmly. Emma nodded.
“She’s right, not gonna happen,” Emma assured. Snow sniffed and squeezed her hand.
“I should be comforting you about this. I mean, this place is completely new to you and I just went to pieces,” she said, feeling silly. Emma hugged her.
“You’re pregnant, Mom and I remember what those hormones are like,” Emma teased.
“And you’re probably hungry. Where is that husband of yours?” Regina added. Snow smirked.
“I’m sure he’ll be along soon,” Snow said.
Snow’s castle was unfamiliar to him, as they had not lived here during the first year of their marriage. But he didn’t have trouble finding his way, for any number of Knights or guards were only too happy to guide him in the right direction.
Once he reached the atrium, he was surprised to see the dwarves escorting Neal and Belle into the castle and spied Hook observing nearby.
“David!” Belle greeted. He greeted her in return with a hug.
“Belle...it’s good to see you,” David said.
“Then it’s true...Henry and Emma are here too?” he asked.
“They are. I didn’t know we would see you this soon. We just sent a bird your way last night,” he mentioned. They exchanged a glance.
“We were already on our way here by then,” Neal revealed.
“I’ve been researching what Zelena could possibly need a baby for on the way and I think I’ve found something. In fact, I’m fairly certain that the news of your family’s arrival saved Neal’s life,” she said.
“What?” David asked. Neal sighed.
“During the past year, we’ve been doing a lot of research and thought we had found a way to bring my Dad back. So we journeyed to the vault of the Dark One. Your bird interrupted me from finishing the ceremony,” Neal explained.
“And it’s a good thing it did. Had Neal opened the vault, Rumple could have been revived, but at the cost of Neal’s life,” Belle continued.
“A life for a life,” David surmised. They nodded.
“And we think it was exactly what Zelena wanted. She stole the dagger from us,” Neal said.
“She wants to control the Dark One,” David said. They nodded.
“And she might sacrifice one of her minions now. She watched us do the ceremony,” Neal replied gravely.
“But what could mine and Snow’s baby have to do with any of this?” David asked in confusion.
“Grumpy told me that after your sword broke during the ambush yesterday that the hilt disappeared, right?” Belle asked.
“Yes,” he answered, still confused.
“Regina probably didn’t tell you, but Zelena tried to take her heart too,” Neal said.
“No, she didn’t mention that and I’m still confused as to what a heart and the hilt of my sword has to do with our son,” David replied. Belle smiled at that. She was eager to see Snow again and congratulate her.
“If I’m right, I think the hilt of your sword is a symbol of your courage. A heart and courage are ingredients,” Belle explained.
“We think my father represents knowledge, as he was prolific in all forms of magic,” Neal continued.
“And the baby?” David asked.
“Innocence. And the product of the truest love is the epitome of innocence,” Belle replied.
“What kind of spell needs those ingredients?” David asked.
“Only one,” Belle replied, as she opened her book for him to see. David’s eyes widened.
“Time travel?” he asked in disbelief. She nodded.
“For whatever reason, we think Zelena is trying to go back in time,” Neal replied.
“I don’t think I have to tell you how dangerous that could be for everyone,” Belle added. David nodded.
“But she doesn’t have her ingredients yet. Even if she revives my father, she still needs Regina’s heart and the baby. We just need to stop that from happening,” Neal said. David nodded.
“Thank you. I’m going to get breakfast for Snow and then I’m not leaving her side,” he said.
“Do you think it would be okay if I came up to see her later?” Belle asked. He smiled.
“She would love that,” he replied, as he turned to Neal.
“Henry should be up soon. I’m sure he’d love to wake up to his Dad,” he told the other man. Neal smiled and started off for the residence wing of the castle to surprise his boy.
Emma was already sobbing, as she was wheeled to the prison infirmary. Prison had been hell for her, but the bright spot was that her parents never lost hope in her. They came to visit her each week and gave her small comforts of home. Emma still felt so stupid for getting taken in by Neal’s lies, but her parent’s support never wavered. So when she saw them waiting in the infirmary, the tears came harder.
“Mom...Daddy…” she uttered.
“Oh my sweet girl,” Mary fussed.
“Hi Princess,” David said.
“How are you here?” she asked. Mary smiled.
“I called in a few favors. Guess it helps that I’m a cop,” he shrugged. Mary smiled.
“Your father is very charming, after all and well liked by his superiors,” Mary added with a coy smile.
“I’m so sorry...you must be so disappointed in me,” Emma sobbed. They had gone over this before, but Emma didn’t yet feel worthy of their support and acceptance.
“Shh...nonsense, honey, we love you,” Mary cooed.
“And we love this baby…” David added. Emma shook her head.
“I can’t...I can’t be a mother,” Emma refuted, as another contraction hit her. The nurses prepared her to give birth and the doctor approached.
“All right Emma, it’s time to start pushing,” he said, glancing at the two people with her. He was a bit uncomfortable allowing them in the delivery room, but had reluctantly agreed when David’s Captain pleaded their case. Truthfully, he thought the pair looked much too young to be Emma’s parents, but given that the girl about to give birth was so young, he figured perhaps her mother had been just as young as well.
Emma screamed, pushing as instructed, before collapsing back against the pillow. She clutched her father’s hand and her mother mopped her forehead with a cool cloth.
“The head is crowning...just a few more big pushes,” the doctor instructed. Emma screamed, as she pushed and soon the doctor was holding a crying, wriggling infant.
“It’s a boy,” he announced. Emma fell back against the pillow and looked at her parents, who stared at the baby in awe.
“He’s beautiful Emma,” David said, as they cleaned him off.
“We’ll support you, no matter what decision you make,” Mary added softly.
“What if I do keep him and I’m not good at being a mother?” she cried.
“Oh sweetheart, you’ll be wonderful,” Mary assured.
“But I’m still in here for two months. How can I ask you guys to take care of him for me,” she cried.
“Emma, we would love to. He’s our grandson and you’re our daughter. Nothing would make us happier. But this decision has to make you happy,” David implored. Emma sniffed and stared at the baby, as the doctor waited for her decision.
“I want to hold my son,” she squeaked. Mary and David shared a beaming smile, as the doctor placed the infant in her arms. Mary cried with her, as they gazed down at him and several tears escaped down David’s cheeks as well.
“Do you know what you’re going to name him?” Mary asked. Emma thought for a moment and the name literally just popped into her mind. Looking back, she wasn’t able to even decide where it had come from.
“Henry...Henry Swan,” she said, missing the curious look her parents exchanged.
“Henry is a wonderful name,” Mary told her.
“Do you want to hold him?” Emma asked. Mary smiled brightly.
“Of course I do,” Mary replied, as Emma gently placed him in his grandmother’s arms, as his grandfather gazed down at him over her shoulder.
“Oh Charming...look at him,” Mary gushed. David smiled.
“He’ll be in good hands until I can come home,” Emma choked. David squeezed her hand.
“You’ll be home soon. And then, maybe we’ll find somewhere to make a fresh start,” David said.
“What are you thinking?” Emma asked.
Well, your Mom has been subbing here in Phoenix, but she got a job offer in New York to start in the fall. We wouldn’t need to leave until you’re released and it would be a fresh start for all of us,” David replied, as he shared a glance with his wife and she nodded.
“What?” Emma asked.
“I’ve been thinking about instead of applying to the New York City P.D. that I would go into business as a bail bondsman and hiring my beautiful daughter to work with me,” David told her. Emma’s eyes widened.
“Dad...you’re going to quit being a cop?” she asked.
“I’ll still be finding people and it’s something we’re both good at,” he replied.
“But you love being a cop. Why would you give that up for me?” Emma asked.
“I’m not giving anything up. In fact, I’ll be gaining so much,” he replied. Emma smiled, as he kissed her head.
“Okay...New York it is then, once I get out of here anyway,” Emma said. Mary nodded and squeezed her hand.
“You’ll get through these next two months and we’ll help you. Henry will help you too and then we’ll make a fresh start as a family,” Mary said. Emma smiled. Maybe things would be okay, after all.
Henry rubbed sleep from his eyes, as he heard whispering in his room. He opened his bleary eyes and focused on the person standing at the end of his bed.
“Dad!” he cried, as he flew out of bed and threw his arms around Neal.
“Hey buddy,” Neal said fondly, as he hugged him.
“I missed you,” Neal said, as Emma smiled at them.
“I missed you too, even if I didn’t really know it,” Henry replied.
“Why don’t you clean up and we’ll go have breakfast together,” he suggested.
“Okay,” Henry replied, as he disappeared into the washroom.
“Gods...he’s grown,” Neal commented wistfully. Emma smiled.
“I know. He got really good at math too,” she mentioned.
“Really?” he asked fondly and she nodded.
“It was a good life, huh?” he asked.
“Really good...but we belong here. I just... I can’t let this witch steal my parent’s baby,” Emma lamented.
“Hey, we won’t let it happen,” Neal assured.
“And how are we going to stop her? She’s apparently more powerful than Regina,” Emma asked in exasperation.
“But she’s not more powerful than you,” Neal reminded.
“Neal…” she started to complain.
“It’s true...you’re the product of the truest love. True love is powerful, nothing beats it and your parents apparently share something more than the run of the mill true love,” he commented. Emma sighed.
“Why do you think she’s after your parent’s baby? Phillip and Aurora are about to have a baby too, but she’s not after that baby, even though it would have been an easier conquest,” he told her.
“And from what I’ve been told, your mother was pregnant with you at the same time Ella was pregnant with Alexandra. Yet it’s you that is the savior. It’s you Emma...you can beat her and she knows it,” Neal said.
“Yeah Mom, that’s why she sent the flying monkeys after you. She wanted to stop you from interfering so she could go after Grams,” Henry added, as he came out of the washroom. Neal gestured dramatically to their son.
“From the mouths of babes,” he announced and she sighed.
“And what if I fail?” she questioned.
“You won’t. You’re going to have a whole hell of a lot of back up,” he promised. Emma took a deep, calming breath.
“Okay...I guess we better get you fed, kid,” Emma suggested.
“Then we can totally go riding, right?” Henry asked.
“Sure kid,” Emma answered.
“Maybe Hook can come too,” Henry suggested. Emma glanced at Neal and he shrugged.
“Hook and I are good now,” Neal assured her. She raised an eyebrow.
“Really?” she asked.
“He brought my kid back to me,” Neal said, as Henry walked ahead of them.
“I know there’s a lot of damage between us and I want you to be happy...even if it’s not with me,” Neal confessed. She nodded.
“Thanks...but I’m not sure there’s anything between me and Hook,” she said, as they continued to the kitchen. Neal only smiled knowingly. There were times that he knew Emma better than she knew herself.
New York City
“Mama!” two-year-old Henry called, as Emma stepped through the door that evening and he toddled to her. She grinned and picked him up, planting a kiss on his chubby cheek.
“Hey kid,” Emma said.
“Gams...cake!” Henry called, as he pointed his chubby finger in the direction of the kitchen.
“Grams made cake? I wonder who that could be for?” David teased, as he tickled his grandson’s tummy. Henry giggled.
“Me Gamps!” he called.
“You huh? Suppose all those presents are you too, huh?” she asked.
“Cause it’s my birfday!” he announced excitedly.
“It is and how many are you today, sweetie?” Mary asked, as they watched him look at his hand and put up two fingers.
“Two!” he called. David smiled and approached his wife, kissing her eagerly. She sighed into his kiss, her arms encircling his neck, as that familiar feeling of butterflies fluttered in her stomach. Even after all these years, their love and passion for each other hadn’t diminished. If anything, they only fell in love a little more each day. She gasped in surprise, as their lips parted and he presented her with a bouquet of snowdrops. Though she probably shouldn’t have been surprised. He was always surprising her with romantic gestures, whether it be snowdrops, bringing her breakfast in bed on quiet Sundays, or little love notes he would often sneak into her lunch bag.
“Thank you...but it’s not my birthday,” she teased.
“Since when do I need a reason to bring my wife her favorite flowers?” he teased back, as their lips met again. Emma cleared her throat.
“Children in the room,” she teased, though she secretly loved that her parents were still so in love and even more secretly hoped she’d find love like that someday.
“Okay...cake or presents first?” David asked.
“Pwesents!” Henry announced.
“Presents it is then,” Snow said, as they smiled at their daughter and grandson. Their time in Portland had been rocky. Emma’s almost year in prison had been even harder for all of them. But they had all survived and come out of it an even stronger and closer knit family. Their life in this strange land was very good.
The Enchanted Forest
Later that day, Snow and Charming walked through the palace gardens. There were many memories there for Snow. She spent her youngest years toddling around these gardens with her mother and in later years, escaping here when she and Regina were on less than amicable terms. When she had fled the castle for her life, it had always been the place she missed most of all.
“Are you sure you’re feeling up to this, my darling?” he asked. She smiled at his concern.
“I’m fine, my love. A trek through the gardens is hardly strenuous. This was always my favorite place when I was growing up,” she mentioned.
“It’s beautiful...like you,” he mentioned, as he swept a snowdrop from the flower bed and tucked it behind her ear. She smiled, as he lowered his lips to hers and momentarily, they forgot their worries and the threats made by the Wicked Witch.
“Here they are,” Emma called in relief, as they pulled apart.
“Oh for the love of Zeus...we’re trying to keep my crazy sister from ambushing us and you two idiots are smelling flowers,” Regina griped.
“We’re fine, Regina,” Charming retorted.
“For now, until one of those winged beasts swoops down on you while you two are sucking face,” she shot back.
“I thought you had a protection spell around the castle?” Snow asked.
“I do...but if she manages to use one of her minions to revive the Dark One, I’m not sure if there’s anything that can keep him out,” Regina warned.
“If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you were worried about us,” David surmised. She glowered at him.
“You wish, Shepherd. It just so happens that Henry loves you both and I don’t want him to be sad if something happened,” she retorted. But Snow could see right through her bluster.
“Right...well, we should go inside then,” Snow suggested. He nodded and kissed her cheek.
“You go on ahead with Regina. I’ll be right behind you,” he said.
“Is everything okay?” she asked, for she knew when something was eating at him. But he put on a smile for her.
“I’m fine, I’m just going to check the perimeter,” he said, as Emma stayed behind with him.
“Mind if I tag along?” she asked.
“Of course not,” he replied, as he offered his arm and she hooked hers with his.
“You going to tell me what’s bothering you?” she asked. He shrugged.
“Nothing,” he deflected.
“Dad…” she prompted.
“I’m fine,” he answered.
“Daddy…” she urged. He sighed.
“I’m scared Em,” he admitted.
“About Zelena?” she asked.
“About that...but I guess I wasn’t worried about this before our memories were returned, because we had memories of raising you. We’d done this before. But then...we found out those memories aren’t real. And now I’m worried that I’m going to be a terrible father, because I have no clue what I’m doing,” he confessed.
“Oh Dad...you’re going to be the best father. You already are,” she insisted.
“But those memories...they’re not real. No matter how much I want them to be,” he replied dejectedly.
“Hey, they’re pretty damn real to me,” she insisted, as he looked at her.
“And you were the best Dad a little girl could ask for. You still are,” she added.
“Really?” he asked. She nodded.
“You were the Dad I always dreamed of having and you’re going to be that great Dad to baby bro too,” she assured him.
“Thanks princess,” he replied, truly feeling reassured, as they headed back inside.
As they ventured back inside the castle walls, Snow took in the bustle of the staff and servants around the Throne room. Now that they had returned, there was already buzz about a very large coronation celebration and planning was already underway. It was not something she insisted on and had a feeling it was being headed up by her loyal friends. The Throne room was newly and curiously fitted with two extra thrones. Regina’s had not been removed, a testament to how far her step-mother had come. It was no situated to the side of the center throne that she knew was to be hers. They wanted her to rule as their Queen and that somewhat terrified Snow.
She had been raised from birth for this, until things had gone so awry. She didn’t know if she knew how to be a Queen anymore. But the other Throne beside hers on the opposite side of Regina’s told her that she wouldn’t do this alone. Despite not being born royal, David was a natural leader. He would be the strong hand and unwavering support in her rule. And to her joy, she had a feeling she’d have Regina for council as well. She had to smile at the smaller fourth and fifth thrones situated behind theirs. It seemed Emma and Henry would also be crowned. She put a hand to her belly and felt her baby kick. Yes, there would be a sixth throne someday too.
She leaned back against David, as she felt him approach behind her. She turned and leaned her head against his chest, as she felt his arms encircle her, his strong hand resting on their baby. She watched his face light up in wonder, as the baby kicked. Her eyes misted.
“Are you okay, my darling?” he asked tenderly. She nodded and breathed in his scent that was uniquely Charming. A mix of leather and musk.
“Mmm...are you?” she hummed.
“I know when something is bothering you too,” she said knowingly. He smiled and kissed her forehead. Traditionally, public displays of affection by royals was frowned upon, but it was one tradition she was happy to toss out the window.
“I am now. Our daughter helped me see things clearly,” he told her.
“Me too,” she said, with a smile, as she spotted the midwife from earlier.
“There’s someone you should meet,” she said, as she held onto his arm, as they walked.
“Lady Tally,” Snow said, as the woman turned to them and she watched her husband’s eyes widen.
“David...this is Tally, our midwife,” she introduced.
“Well, the handsome, proud father himself,” Tally boasted with a bow to him.
“It’s an honor to meet you. It’s the consensus among the ladies around here the our Princess Snow certainly has good taste in men, Your Highness,” Tally teased, as Snow smiled.
“It’s lovely to meet you, Tally. I feel better that someone like you will be helping Snow deliver,” he said graciously.
“Hey Gramps...Dad and I are going to practice with our swords. But he and Hook are arguing about the best stance,” Henry said. David smirked.
“Guess we need to show them both, don’t we?” he said, as he kissed Snow’s cheek and went with his grandson.
“Stars child, you named that one appropriately,” Tally gushed, as she fanned herself, making Snow giggle.
“No wonder all my handmaidens giggle like school girls about him,” she commented. Snow smiled and gazed at him across the room.
“That’s my Charming.” she said, as the Throne room erupted in chaos. Robin Hood burst in with his son, followed by his Merry Men. Charming returned to her side immediately.
“I’m sorry, I know you entrusted me to hide your heart from Zelena, but her beasts had Roland. I had no choice,” he lamented, but Regina held her hand up.
“Nothing is worth losing a child over, believe me,” she replied quietly.
“We have to assume she found a way to revive my father then,” Neal chimed in, as inhuman screeching could be heard outside the castle walls.
“Line up men, axes ready,” Grumpy ordered, as the dwarves prepared to fight. Swords were drawn by Neal, Hook, and Charming. Robin threaded an arrow and Granny readied her crossbow. Emma and Regina’s hands glowed with magic, as Red transformed. Snow cried out and held her stomach, looking up at her husband.
“The baby is coming,” she uttered…