Henry bowled into her, nearly knocking her off her feet. She distinctly noticed her mother dashing off to save her dad from his cursed sleep. She glanced over at Regina who seemed to be in pain.
Emma was surprised, but then again, stranger things had happened. Like getting sent into a vortex with her mother into a fairytale land. With trolls. And Disney princesses come to life. Well, technically Mulan wasn’t a princess, and Emma was pretty sure Mulan would sock her one for even suggesting that she could be remotely similar to Aurora. Emma can’t help but be jealous of Aurora, but it is all her fault for not letting Mary…. Snow White mother her like her nearly-the-same-age-as-Emma-mother wanted to. Like Emma also wanted her to.
But enough of that. Regina is still looking at her. With a wistful look. Ah, Henry.
“She saved you!” exclaimed Henry, squishing her ribs with his surprisingly strong grip.
Despite all of the conniving theatrics of Madame Mayor, she was definitely a loving mother to Henry. Emma felt a bit wistful herself now.
“Let’s go. Mary – Snow is…” began Emma.
“Saving Prince Charming with True Love’s Kiss!” yelled Henry, pulling her along.
Emma barely managed to wave at Regina, indicating that she should join them.
“Emma? What are you doing out here?”
Emma barely registered David, no, Charming as Regina and Ma – Snow were often calling him, sitting down beside her. Although Emma noted that Snow White seemed to call Charming David half the time. And there they sat, on the steps leading to Mary Margaret’s apartment.
It had been a few days now. Since they had returned. Since Emma had been watching her own mother stroke the feverish Aurora’s hair in the late afternoon. Emma wanted to put her own head in Mary Margaret’s lap. In Snow White’s lap. In her mother’s lap.
“Emma?” Charming tentatively placed a hand on Emma’s knee.
He blinked in surprise when she turned to face him with tears threatening to burst forth from her eyes.
“I want my Mommy!” she cried, launching herself into his side.
Charming held his little girl close, stroking her hair. He murmured softly to her to calm her down, wondering wildly if he were capable of lifting her up in his arms to carry her inside. He was half glad that they had been able to work out a amicable schedule of having Henry half the time at their place and half the time at Regina’s because really, if they all thought about it. Regina was not ever going to hurt Henry. And Henry… Well, that boy was still so suspicious of the Mayor that he wouldn’t listen to any bullshit she might try to wheedle into him.
Charming didn’t like it, nor did his wife, but Emma had convinced them that it wasn’t fair to Regina and after all. Henry had asked her to save Regina. He still loved his mother, regardless of whether she was the Evil Queen or not. Emma believed that Regina was trying to be good and he wanted to support his daughter. She was so like Snow in that regard, often looking to the goodness of others, with that wry sense of suspicion. Hmm, maybe not so much like Snow then…
Charming was also a little taken aback at Emma’s wording. Even after the big reveal, she had been so averse to calling them Mom or Dad. She usually stuttered from David to Charming or from Mary Margaret to Snow. Not that it mattered, not after that big speech he gave the whole of Storybrooke.
His little girl was in pain. That gave him the strength to lift her up. He used his foot to push the door open after he managed to rest parts of Emma on his arm, allowing him to just twist the door knob.
“Snow!” he called, over the slight sobbing.
Snow White rushed out from the bathroom.
“David! Emma! Oh, Charming what happened to her?” asked Snow, placing a hand on Emma’s shaking form in his arms.
Charming settled all three of them on the couch.
“I’m not sure. I found her sitting out in the stairwell…” Charming started to explain.
Emma shifted suddenly, twisting to clutch at Snow’s blouse.
That cry hurt Snow so badly. Her heart clenched and she had no idea why. Was this what it felt like to hear your child in pain?
“Oh my baby, what’s wrong?” asked Snow.
Emma looked at her, but continued to cry. Snow couldn’t help but cry herself. She instinctively just held Emma tighter against her, pressing the side of Emma’s face against her chest. If possible, she wanted to transfer all of her warmth to her child, to show her just how many loving hugs she had built up in her.
Charming felt so out of his depth, but he knew that having her legs across his lap, with her body all twisted couldn’t be comfortable for Emma. So he gently manoeuvred her so that she was in Snow’s lap.
It was clear to him now why Emma insisted on Regina still being a part of Henry’s life. Apart from the deceit and lies, she had raised him well. Emma hadn’t grown up with any loving parents to show her how it is done. Regina at least had her father who loved her, or so he gathered from his discussions with Snow back in their land.
He was glad that Emma had turned to him at all initially, but he could tell that a mother’s love and comfort was what his little girl need most of all now. The pain of the loss of his own dear mother came back to him at the thought. He placed a comforting hand on Snow’s shoulder.
“She needs you. She needs her mother.”
They had sat their on the couch like that, shifting only slightly so that Emma was properly cuddled up in Snow’s arms, with Charming spooning the both of them.
Charming was the first to stir, blinking his eyes rapidly to rid the sleep from them. He tilted his head and noticed Emma sucking her thumb, with Snow’s arms around her protectively.
He barely stopped himself from chuckling when he heard a very loud rumbling. He was pretty sure it had come from Emma’s stomach. Clearly it had been loud enough to rouse Snow out of her own slumber. Charming bowed his head to place a kiss on her furrowed brow.
“Is it thundering?” asked a bemused Snow.
“Nope, just our hungry offspring,” replied Charming.
Snow smiled at this, but grew solemn soon after.
“Do you have any idea what brought this on?” she asked.
“No, I still haven’t a clue. Did anything else happen over there?” contemplated Charming.
“Nothing that would cause her to burst into tears. Do you think we should ask Dr Hopper?” suggested Snow.
Charming rubbed the back of his head.
“Let’s just see how she is when she wakes up first,” replied Charming. “I’ll make something for the three of us to eat.”
The sound of sizzling and the smell of bacon and eggs entranced Emma from her slumber. She snuggled into Snow’s warm embrace. A hand started stroking her hair. She made a muffled noise against Snow’s shoulder.
“Emma? What did you say honey?” asked Snow very gently.
“Mm hungry, Mommy,” came the soft reply.
Snow inhaled at the voice, so unlike the Emma that she had come to know and love. This Emma sounded so small and child-like.
“I am too Emma. Aren’t we lucky that Daddy is cooking us lunch?” she asked.
Emma sniffed the air and scrunched up her face, “Smells like breakfast.”
Snow and Emma perked up at Charming’s laughter coming their way.
“That’s cause Daddy only knows how to make breakfast!” chuckled Charming.
Emma laughed. Snow just smiled at her husband. It was true. While Charming did have some knowledge of cooking food, taught to him by his mother, they were all breakfast related meals. His mother had taken care of any meals that occurred after the sun had reached its peak in the sky. Once he became Prince James, he never had a reason to cook, nor could he, least the servants became suspicious in the change in nature of their Prince.
“Want pancakes,” muttered Emma, as Snow lead her to the table.
“But Daddy makes such good bacon and eggs! Look, he even made toast soldiers! You can dip them in the boiled egg,” said Snow.
Indeed, Daddy had made two boiled eggs, some scrambled eggs, a fried egg and a poached one. He didn’t actually know what Emma preferred. He knew that Snow liked boiled eggs best because she could dip in the toasty bread. That was the main reason that he made the buttery soldiers. But… he also felt that his daughter might enjoy them too.
Charming asked Emma which egg she wanted. They watched as she scrutinized each egg. Snow gasped as she violently stabbed the yolk of the fried and poached eggs. Charming just laughed again.
“Guess you don’t want the fried egg or the poached egg then?”
Emma stuck out her tongue at them.
“I’ll eat them,” said Charming.
He offered her some toast and she turned her head. Snow tried to coax her into eating some bacon.
“Don wannit!” cried Emma, picking up the bacon and throwing it across the table.
“Emma!” admonished Snow.
Emma started crying. It wasn’t loud and it wasn’t big scene, but straightaway Snow regretted it. Her daughter’s eyes were imploring her to forgive her. She sighed as Charming got up to take care of the unwanted bacon.
“Emma, baby, why did you do that? Daddy worked had to cook lunch for us.”
Charming humoured his daughter and sniffed the meat. He scrunched up his nose, exactly the way Emma had before.
“Eewww! I can’t believe I cooked this! Why didn’t you two tell me it was smelly earlier?”
Snow blinked in surprise.
“You smell bad, Daddy! Dat’s why!”
He sniffed under his armpit and made another face of disgust.
“Yuck! You are right! I am stinky!”
He lumbered over to her with his arms outstretched, “So this is a perfect time for a hug then isn’t it, Emma?”
Emma shrieked with laughter and pushed her arms against his chest, tilting her head away. Charming rubbed his face against her cheek.
“No Daddy! Itchy!”
“Oh, I’m sorry honey. I didn’t shave today.”
He let go and winked at Snow, who just sighed again. He leant down to whisper in her ear, “We both know she’s hungry. Let’s just eat, I bet she’ll start once she gets tired of watching us eat.”
Sure enough, Emma began whining when Snow cut off the top of her boiled egg, ate it and then dipped a toast soldier into the gooey yolk.
“What’s the matter, Emma?”
“Then eat some of the lovely lunch Daddy cooked for us.”
Charming laughed into his cuff.
“Okay baby. Let’s share,” replied Snow, offering her yolk coated toast soldier to Emma.
Emma bit down eagerly, chewing with a big smile on her face.
“My good girl,” Snow praised her daughter and then dipped the rest of the toast into her egg and fed herself.
Charming picked up Emma’s fork and offered it to her, “Aren’t you going to feed yourself?”
Snow leaned over and arranged Emma’s breakfast to look the same as her own.
Emma opened her mouth happily, accepting another bite of yolky toast.
And so, Snow alternated between feeding her stubborn offspring and herself. Charming eventually joined into the fun and fed Snow himself. And then Emma got jealous and demanded both parents feed her too. Because of this Charming managed to convince Emma to eat one measly piece of bacon on top of a piece of toast.
Snow kissed her now messy child. She retrieved a clean handtowel, dampened it and then began to gently wipe the yolk and crumbs from Emma’s face.
“That’s right, hold still my beautiful girl,” Snow praised her for not fussing.
“Are you full Emma?”
“No more Daddy!”
“Okay. How about you and Mommy go watch some tv then?”
“TV!” squealed Emma, dragging Snow by the hand.
Emma made Snow sit first. Once Snow had chosen her spot, Emma laid down on the couch, face in Snow’s lap with arms around her torso. Snow bent down to kiss her daughter on the top of her head.
If this is what Emma needed, then this is what they would do for her. After hearing about the bad homes and abandonment by numerous foster families, it was the least they could do for their baby girl. Snow turned her head from the couch and shared a look with Charming. He mouthed ‘I love you both so much’.
This was all she needed now, a chance to rebuild her family.