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Finding Home, Again

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Emma nodded at people as she crossed the ballroom rather than stopping to talk. Now that her first couple of dances were out of the way she was eager to get to the food tables. Peanut made her stomach gurgle in a demand to be fed. Picking her way around the tables her mother followed behind and took her first full plate from her.

"Hey."

"If you’re anything like me, you’ll need two full plates," Snow advised then tilted her head at the door outside. Shrugging, Emma continued to fill a second one then followed her outside.

The balcony looped around the entire ballroom and several guests had made their way outside to sit on the benches or lean against the stone balustrade. Emma placed her second plate next to her first one.

"You color coordinated us."

Snow looked down at her simple red sleeveless ball gown, the same as Emma's white and the dark purple Regina wore.

"People needed us to make a statement," she clarified. "Without us making, well, a statement. Same dress, different color but intertwined. Just like our family."

Snow’s hand reached up to steady her crown of amethysts.

"Most of our kingdom has adjusted to Regina not being the Evil Queen. Now, everyone outside the kingdom understands that we stand together as a family, Regina included."

"You're scary sometimes." Emma started working on the food and talked around it. "When do the fireworks start?"

"Emma."

Emma simply made a go on gesture with her free hand.

"I can't believe. No, no I can." Snow sighed at her daughter. "Fireworks are at the end of the ball."

"Not those."

"Oh. Well, now I suppose, or at least very soon."

Emma pointed to herself with a thumb and tilted her head to the side.

"Seriously?" Snow stared at her daughter who proceeded to pat her barely-there baby belly.

Emma smiled with wide pleading eyes.

"Sorry but you have to be there too. And no, that sad face doesn't work, especially when you've stuffed your cheeks like a chipmunk."

"Mom," she whined.

"A really cute chipmunk. Let's go." Snow tugged Emma away, leaving two empty plates behind.

 

Emma finished swallowing her last bite right before they entered the family parlor and got smacked in the face with the tense silence. Her parents started one of their wordless exchanges.

She tilted as translated it to herself.

Snow's frown: What the hell is going on?

Charming's return frown: Where have you been?

An eye roll: Please, as if that's important.

Slightly panicked shoulder shrug: What did you expect me to do? Followed by a grimace: I have no clue what to do with these people.

A sighing huff of breath: Must I do everything.

Emma snorted and turned bright red when all attention focused on her. Snow rolled her eyes at her daughter now and took control.

"I take it we skipped introductions," Snow announced drawing everyone’s attention to her.

Emma joined Henry and Neal by the fireplace. Neal looked from between his parents as they sat, seething with anger but studiously ignoring each other from opposite corners. Not that it helped as the animosity and tension in the room continued to rise.

Regina responded to Snow with a ‘you have got to be kidding me’ look.

Snow nodded in return. "I guess we’ll do this formally then."

She walked to the center of the room, holding out one hand which Charming took as he stood by her side. One brow winged upward and she waited.

The occupants rose to their feet for the queen.

"Milah and Captain Jones," Snow acknowledged. "I present the Dark One, Rumplestilskin. More importantly, this is his wife, Belle and their son Gideon."

Rumple rolled his eyes while Belle curtsied with the baby in her arms and smiled at the couple across the room. Killian and Milah nodded politely in return.

"Well this is going good," Emma said, into the awkward silence.

Rumple let loose a high-pitched giggle that made Killian and Milah flinch. "I think you're over estimating us, dearie."

"Let me be perfectly clear," Queen Snow interjected.

"At this point both parties have promised to refrain from maiming or killing each other." She nodded at Belle. "More importantly, the Dark One has promised his wife. I don’t know where either of you wish to go from here. If you want, we can stand as witnesses as you talk or if you both feel safe, we can leave you to it."

The Dark One eased back into his chair by the fire and stared into the flames without commenting. Milah stared at him, her mouth frozen in a sneer. Emma looked from them to Neal, twitching beside her.

"No offense your highness," Killian spoke up first. "I don't think such a large audience is required."

"Feel like having a private chat, pirate." Gold shot out without turning from the fire.

Milah placed a hand on Killian's arm to stop him and Gold's head snapped around to watch the two interact.

"Papa," Neal pleaded.

Emma placed a hand on his arm in comfort as everyone else shifted nervously in place.

"I thought you were okay with this."

"There are varying degrees of okay, Bae." Gold glanced at his son and recovered his composure. "I'm afraid there are things that your mother and I must speak of without an audience."

He tilted his head as if listening to a conversation far across the room. "Don't you agree, Milah."

"If you think…" Killian moved to stand between her and Gold.

"Don't think, dearie. It's not your strong point." Gold took Belle's hand in his. "Belle, my promise to you stands as well as the promise I made to their majesties and to you, Bae. I will not retaliate for the past."

He leaned down and kissed Gideon's head while he spoke quietly to his wife. "This life is what I want and I will protect that, even from myself."

"I'm willing to talk, Rumple." Milah stepped forward. "But I think, it should be just you and me."

The room erupted in disagreement. Emma felt Henry nudge her and he held up one of his most precious possessions. Both eyebrows shot up as he volunteered precious battery life. He just shrugged at her and pushed her forward.

"All right, people," Emma called out and the arguments continued. Her sharp whistle pierced through the noise. Emma mumbled an aside to Henry. "Living in New York was good, huh? Anyways, we may have a bit of solution and not a magical one."

"These should keep the conversation private." Henry held up a pair of headphones. "We just need one person to chaperone but not hear." He turned to his mom and Emma jolted before noticing everyone else eyed her as well.

"Oh, come on," she whined. "I'm still hungry."