Sometimes he was pretty sure that the universe was punishing them for the sins of his father, because nothing ever came easy. Not even close. After the last curse Neal wasn't sure he was ever going to see his family again. But damned if he was going to go down easy. Everyone else was content to be back in the Enchanted Forest dealing with the cards they had been dealt, but not him. He swore to Charming and Snow he would fix this, break this curse. He knew they still had their reservations about him. They had good reason, he felt guilty every day about the heartache he had caused Emma over the years - when he followed August's instructions, when he brought Tamara to Storybrooke. Time and time again…. but he refused to do it ever again. Henry and Emma were HIS family, and he was going to save them at any cost.

He tried to illicit help from his father, but ever since they got back to the enchanted forest his papa wasn't the same. In a good way of course… He had promised Belle he would not go back to magic so they could lead a happy life for once, so when Neal came to him he told him that the best he could do is guide him, because he couldn't help magically. For a year he exhausted every lead his papa gave him, but in the end it was Hook who found the way to get to Boston.

Forming the bond with the Pirate was probably not the best plan, because even though they now had a brotherly bond, Hook had his own intentions with Emma. In fact when they first got to Boston Hook had gone rogue and tried to reach Emma first. When Hook had kissed Emma he had hoped "true love's kiss" would break the spell, but it didn't because it wasn't true love. As much as Hook pained to admit it- that was the evidence that what he had been trying to achieve with Emma wasn't true love. Neal took this as a sign that he needed to fight even harder.

He was finally there, outside her door. Now what? Regina had said all their memories would be good… Did that mean she wouldn't remember him at all? It was time to find out. knocking

When the door opened it was Henry who opened the door, he was relieved. Emma would have probably slammed the door in his face if she did remember him at all.

"Hi.. can I help you?"

"ya, is your mom home kid?"

"ya one sec… Mom!"

"What?!" Emma said loudly as she walked toward the front of the apartment. She stopped cold when she saw him. Well, I guess she remembered him…

"Neal… what… Henry go to your to room… NOW"

"Mom, what's wrong?"

"Just go Henry!"

"Hi…."

Her heart was feeling pain she hadn't felt in quite some time "What are you doing here Neal?"

"I've been trying to track you down for a long time Emma" That wasn't a lie right? It had been a year, she didn't need to know everything right away

"And what, you think you can just come back here randomly?" The pain in her eyes was palpable, he hated that even with happy memories magically in her mind he still was the cause of her pain.

"No… I just…. I needed to see you.." He probably should be acting surprised about Henry too, shoot that might come up later….

"ok, well now you have seen me…" she started to close the door on him, but he stopped it with his hand.

"Don't please, just hear me out. Besides, I feel like you have something to tell me too... He seems like a good kid"as he nodded towards the hallway where Henry had gone.

She was beyond unhappy, but Henry was his son. Henry definitely did not need to be involved just yet. She didn't know what the hell Neal was doing here, but she wasn't going to risk Henry getting hurt just to hear what he had to say.

"If you want to talk we're not doing it here, got it?"

"Ya, ya of course- just please let's talk" He is almost dumbfounded that she agreed to talk to him, maybe the good memories from the spell would actually come in handy…. Also, score 1 for him. Hook hadn't even gotten this far.

They planned to meet later that night when Henry was supposed to be at fencing lessons, I guess some things never change- Henry still wanted to learn how to sword fight, and in Boston that's about as good as it probably gets. He had a few hours before they were scheduled to meet, now he just had to figure out what he was going to say…. and boy did he have a lot he had to say…

"so what are you going to say exactly mate? Just going to go straight in the real story, cause that didn't seem to work for me lad."

"Obviously not, that was a bonehead move on your part don't you think"

"What can i say, I was driven by love"

"Oh god, shut up already" He knew the pirate was trying to make light of the rejection and hurt he was probably feeling, but he was being a mate now, one who supported you no matter what- and it is exactly what he needed.

"whatever you do mate, you have to bring the memories back"

He knew it was true, he hated the thought of having to bring pain back in her life… but he needed his family and she'd understand once she knew the truth… he hoped…

He sat in the corner of the quiet pub she had picked. It was the kind of placed where no one overheard what you said, or rather they didn't care. He figured she'd picked that place in case things went sour.

When she walked in he was reminded of how much he missed her, just being around her. Not that he didn't miss being with her as well - but that was going to take some time.

"You came…"

"Did I really have a choice? You seem to have figured out that Henry is your son already, and despite what you did you should be a part of his life, if you plan on sticking around"

He felt a huge weight lift off his shoulders, if nothing else he could have a relationship with Henry. He would stay in Boston for good if he could have a relationship with his family… Hook and the others wouldn't be happy, but now, in the moment he didn't care about the others.

"Well, what do you have to say for yourself?" apparently he had been quiet for too long…

"yes sorry… Emma, I need you to know that I have regretted leaving you for the last 13 years. I didn't have things figured out back then, so many things were happening that I hadn't told you about (not a lie) that influenced me in the wrong direction. I know i fucked up I do, I am just here… begging you to give me another shot." Before she could say anything he added "not just with Henry… with you, but I understand if that too much for you."

"You're damn right you fucked up!" she remembered they were in public and lowered her voice

"Do you have any idea what it's like to have your heart ripped out? Thank god we were able to make it on our own. We have had a good life so far. You have to promise me if I let you in Henry's life you won't pull shit like that again. I am not gonna let Henry be hurt like i was" she avoided the topic of "them" she wasn't ready for that yet. Although she couldn't deny seeing him again brought back more than just hurt feelings… There was just something about him that she didn't realize she had been missing the whole time. That part of her that was never complete without him…

"Trust me Emma, I am not going to that again. I've changed, I'm all in." He let those words sink in, he needed her to know that he meant it.

"so… what's he like?"

She smiled and looked down, "He's amazing. He's everything I could have ever hoped for. He truly is the best part of both of us…. He is adventures, smart, and sometimes a little sneaky - which isn't always great but you know- just amazing."

He looked down, it's true, spells and everything else be damned - Henry was an amazing kid.

"Oh, and he has an imagination bigger than I ever could have had as a kid. He goes on and on about the knights in fairy tales and what not… I have no idea where he got that from." He knew…. apparently even magic can only hide so much…

"hence the fencing lessons?"

"Yes! He begged and begged, I had to cave at some point" Charming would be proud, somethings never change… They talked for a while about Henry, his life, his likes/loves, his childhood. It made him smile that the upside of the spell worked just the way Regina thought it would. Everything was good for Henry. His heart was sad that he missed the first time around, and wasn't a part of their magic memories either.

"What about you Emma? How…. I mean…. the last 13 years…"

"Honestly? As much as it surprises me to look back now and say this, but you leaving me then…. I couldn't have the amazing life I have now without it." He could tell she was holding back something though… loneliness maybe? He hoped there was no one else in her life… This was going to be hard enough as it was.

"It makes me happy to hear that you are doing well…"Now was the time he had to put it out there…. " I missed you the whole time you know"

Boom. There it was… he said it… He could see a flash of something in her eyes… hopefully it was a chance, and not anger.

"I should go… I have to pick up Henry" Crap, she was leaving. And even though he knew he would love to stay in this world getting to know Henry in this new world they had created, he knew he had to bring them back.

As she began to walk out he grabbed her by the arm, she turned back to look at him, and he kissed her. Kissed her like everything depended on it - which it did. All at once Emma pulled away

"Neal?" She had the look in her eyes. She remembered. True love's kiss had worked…. But now there was so much more pain in her eyes….

All along it was a fever

A cold sweat hot-headed believer

I threw my hands in the air, said, "Show me something,"

He said, "If you dare, come a little closer."

Round and around and around and around we go

Oh now, tell me now, tell me now, tell me now you know.

NO, what was happening? How did she get back here again? Regardless of the spell/curse they had been happy. Why did he have to come back here?

"Why Neal, why did you come back" the hurt and pain was audible in her voice "we were finally happy…."

His heart was breaking all over again. He should have just kept his mouth shut. Lived in this new life with them in whatever role he could… but it was too late now.

"I had to Emma, you know I did. I did it for you, for your family, for OUR family." He pulled her closer to him, he needed her to understand.

Not really sure how to feel about it.

Something in the way you move

Makes me feel like I can't live without you.

It takes me all the way.

I want you to stay

She was fighting back the tears. All the feelings that were rushing back to her, the hurt the pain - and even though she wanted to fight it more than anything , the longing for him. In the months before their "new life" she had missed him more than anything. She had tried to distract herself with Hook. But she knew it was never right. She just couldn't be hurt like that again… But life kept bringing them back together…. as if it was where they were supposed to be..

It's not much of a life you're living

It's not just something you take–it's given

Round and around and around and around we go

Oh now, tell me now, tell me now, tell me now you know.

Not really sure how to feel about it.

Something in the way you move

Makes me feel like I can't live without you.

It takes me all the way.

I want you to stay.

Ooh, ooh, ooh, the reason I hold on

Ooh, ooh, ooh, 'cause I need this hole gone

Funny you're the broken one but I'm the only one who needed saving

'Cause when you never see the light it's hard to know which one of us is caving.

In that moment that he had to show her. Had to show her he was not going anywhere, that this… THEM, it was meant to be. Despite all of the hurt. All the pain… This was where they were supposed to be. They would figure out everything else together. He couldn't go back to living life without her. He only felt whole when they were together.

He kissed her again, with more emotion than the first time that night. The first kiss was to bring her back, this kiss was to keep her.

She let herself fall into the kiss, holding him tighter than she could ever remember. She couldn't fight it any longer. She still felt the pain, but in this moment she knew they both did. That the only people who could get through all this nonsense - the magic, the reality, the hurt, the pain, LIFE- was the two of them.

They pulled apart and stared deeply into each other's eyes….

"You have to promise Neal, this time…" she looked down "this time we can do it"

He lifted her chin and looked her in the eyes deeper than anyone else could "From here on out, nothing in ANY world is going to take me away from you, from Henry. I am all in for us, for now and for always. It won't always be perfect we both know that. But i will never let you go again."

He kissed her gently and he knew it was all going to be ok… as much as it could be in their crazy lives. For once in their life the timing was right, the feelings were there, for both of them. This time they would

make it work. Fight all the troubles together, as a family. HIS family.

Not really sure how to feel about it.

Something in the way you move

Makes me feel like I can't live without you.

It takes me all the way.

I want you to stay, stay.

I want you to stay, oh.

"Stay"

Rhianna (feat. Mikky Ekko)