(Surrounded by Darkness) Enfolded in Light
Disclaimer: Not my characters, just my words.
Author's Note: Set some undetermined point after the S4 finale, and having Snow and Charming successfully removing the darkness from Emma with some help. The title is from a quote from a book titled Moloka'i by Alan Brennert, "surrounded by darkness yet enfolded in light." Canon relationships are included, since they are canon.
She wakes, and for a moment, she's still in the dark. So much darkness, cocooning her, embracing her, covering her. She wants to scream, but her throat is dry and the words seem stuck in her throat. Darkness and Emma, together as always.
Then she sees the faint light by her bedside. A candle, flickering every now and then, but burning steadily and surely. Light.
She feels light too, she realizes. Lighter. As if something is gone.
She's in bed, in the dark, someone holding her hand and her head is pounding. What happened?
The voice, soft and comforting as well as a little hesitant, is familiar, and Emma feels her heart ache. Mary Margaret. Snow. Mom.
"Mom?" she whispers, and Mary Margaret makes a sound like a sob, clutching her hand more firmly. "What... Where am I?"
"Home," Mary Margaret says gently, and Emma managed to move her head enough to make out her mother, the flickering candlelight barely illuminating her. It is still enough to catch the look on her mother's face, and it makes Emma breathless. Love. So much love her mother seems to light up with it. "You've... You've been asleep for a while, Emma. It's the middle of the night."
"Oh," Emma says. Her head throbs, and she licks her lips. Immediately, Mary Margaret scoots closer, offering a class of water Emma didn't even notice was there. The cool water makes her sigh happily, and it seems to make her head clearer too. Still, when her mother pulls her into a fierce hug, she takes the opportunity to lower her head onto Mary Margaret's shoulder and just rest there for a few moments.
Mary Margaret is smiling when she pulls back, cradling her head so very softly.
"How do you feel?" Mary Margaret asks her, still so very gentle, but Emma has long since learned that the kind of gentleness and kindness her mother still has after everything is a strength more than anything.
"Head hurts," Emma mutters. "What... What happened?"
"You don't remember?"
"Regina said that might happen," Mary Margaret says softly. "You might get them back one day. She wasn't sure. No one has... No one had saved a Dark One like that before."
"I was the Dark One," Emma says slowly. She remembers that. She remembers all that darkness filling her, binding itself to her. After that, all she remembers are fragments and and overwhelming sense of darkness. "What happened?"
Mary Margaret closes her eyes, looking almost pained for a moment. Only then does Emma notice the bandage on her mother's arm and the faint lines of a cut on her forehead. What...
"We got the darkness out of you," Mary Margaret says, opening her eyes again, and her eyes are glistening with tears. "We didn't let you down, Emma. We did it. As heroes, like you asked us to. No one else got hurt."
"You got hurt," Emma says, a slow, horrifying realization beginning to seep into her brain. Not quite memories, but the faint outline of a memory. Her parents, they... They tried to save her, and she... She didn't want to be saved then. "I... I hurt you."
Mary Margaret just smiles, her smile so loving it makes Emma breathless. "It doesn't matter. What matters is that... You're yourself again."
Emma shakes her head. Of course it matters. Her mother, she... She hurt her mother. What about... "Dad?"
"He'll be fine," Mart Margaret says reassuringly, squeezing Emma's hand again.
"Will be fine," Emma echoes. No, no, no. "Did I... Was he hurt?"
Mary Margaret nods, and for a moment Emma sees a flash of pain on her mother's face, so strong it makes her heart ache. The pain Mary Margaret is clearly feeling, but keeping from her. To protect her, Emma guesses, and her heart aches even more.
"He stepped in front of me to protect me and took the brunt of the magic," Mary Margaret says after a moment, almost composed, but her voice still catches. "You know what your father is like."
"I know," Emma agrees, feeling a sharp pain in her chest. "Is he..."
"He will be fine," Mary Margaret says again, trying a slightly faltering smile. "He's resting downstairs."
Emma closes her eyes. Fragmented pictures are flickering back and forth in her mind. Darkness. So much darkness. She was the Dark One. She even enjoyed it after a while. Wanted to keep the darkness and the power. Didn't even care who she'd hurt to keep it.
And when her family had found a way to save her, she didn't want it.
There is more too, more that she doesn't remember, maybe doesn't want to remember. Maybe she's even keeping it from herself.
What has she done?
"Emma," Mary Margaret says softly, shifting closer and taking both of Emma's hands in hers. "We'll both heal. Henry and Hook, they're both unhurt. We... We all knew the risk we were taking. It was worth it to get you back."
Emma swallows, and swallows again.
"Hook is asleep over there," Mary Margaret goes on, as if knowing Emma needs reassurance. "Henry's asleep in his bed. We've been taking turns watching over you and looking after David."
Emma glances over in the corner. In the darkness, she can barely make out the outline of what must be Hook, slumped over in a chair. He must have been exhausted to have fallen asleep, as she can't imagine he would willingly sleep before she woke up.
Carefully, she edges out of bed. Her whole body seems to ache, but she bites away the pain. She half expects Mary Margaret to protest, but her mother just offers her a hand to hold and use for support instead. Carefully, they both make their way to the other side of the room, where Henry and Hook are both sleeping.
Henry's curled up in his bed, looking so very young when he sleeps, so much like the young boy who came to find her with nothing but belief. He still believes, but he's no longer just a boy.
Hook is slumped over in a chair, and she kneels down by his side and feels... Feels too much and she touches his hands without even thinking. He murmurs something that might be her name, but sleeps on. He looks completely exhausted, almost drained. He's been tucked in by a flowery blanket, and Emma knows that is Mary Margaret's doing.
Hook. Killian, his hand so warm against hers.
"Do you want to wake him?" Mary Margaret asks quietly, but Emma shakes her head. She doesn't. Not now, not just yet, not when...
"I want to see dad," she manages to say, and Mary Margaret sighs, then nods. Gently, she encourages Emma to lean on her, then walk them both downstairs, pausing only to blow out the candle on the way.
There are a few dim lights on downstairs, and Emma blinks against them. They almost hurt at first, before her eyes slowly adjust. The kitchen is quiet, only the refrigerator humming softly. As they approach her parents' bed, she can see her baby brother sleeping in his crib, the mobile of sheep moving slowly above him.
Her innocent baby brother. Did she try to hurt him too, she wonders, and shudders at the thought.
"Emma," Mary Margaret says gently, sounding worried. Emma just shakes her head, continuing forward and trying to steel herself. Even so, she does stumble at the first sight of her father in bed.
He would be fine, her mother assured her, but he is not fine now. He has several bruises, one of his arms in a sling so probably broken, and she can only imagine there are additional injuries as well.
"Dad," she whispers, sitting down on the bed. He groans softly in his sleep, but when Mary Margaret kneels by the bed and brushes her hand through his hair, he sighs in relief instead.
"He has a mild concussion and several broken bones," Mary Margaret says to Emma's unasked question. "Whale wanted to keep him overnight for observation, but he refused."
Emma just nods. Of course he would.
"He will be fine," Mary Margaret goes on, smiling at him with so much love.
"Did I... Did I try to kill him?" Emma asks quietly, and Mary Margaret immediately focuses on her, shaking her head.
"No, Emma. You never tried to kill us. You always stopped before... "
"But I hurt you."
Mary Margaret exhales softly. "Emma, you... You're our daughter. All we care about is that you're yourself again."
"Your mother is right," David says quietly, and Emma shifts her gaze to see her father look at her with tears in his eyes. His eyes are so bright with love they seem to light up. "Hi Emma."
"Hi dad," she manages to say, fighting back the sobs. "I'm... I'm so sorry. Mom, I'm sorry, I'm..."
She feels more than sees David sitting up in bed, then pulling her with his uninjured arm into an embrace. Mary Margaret sits down next to her, rubbing Emma's back gently, both of them whispering reassuring words of love and affection. Once, she would have doubted words like that from anyone, but she knows now that she is this loved – by her parents, by her son, by Killian. She knows.
It doesn't make facing it any less emotional.
They saved her. She remembers telling them to, trusting them to, and they did. They saved her, even from herself.
They loved her and they saved her. Her. Emma Swan.
She isn't sure how long they sit like that, her in a half embrace between her parents, but it must be a while, because when she finally looks up again, she can see the pre-dawn light slowly, but surely chasing away the worst of the darkness. It will be morning in not too long, and daylight will come with it.
In the crib, Neal makes a soft noise, making Mary Margaret chuckle softly. "Motherly duty calls."
"Your brother must want his breakfast," David observes fondly. "How does his big sister feel about a really early breakfast?"
"Good," Emma replies, trying a hesitant smile. She is rather hungry, come to think of it. Mostly for coffee, but some food wouldn't hurt either. "I'll... I'll wake Henry and Killian, make them help."
Her parents nod, then both press a soft kiss to her temples. Whatever Emma did to them, she knows they have already forgiven her, but she isn't sure quite when she will forgive herself.
"We missed you," Mary Margaret murmurs softly. "We missed you so much."
Emma can only nod, watching her mother scoot out of the bed and hurry over to the crib, picking up Neal, who quiets the moment he's in his mother's arms. David gets up as well, wincing slightly and Emma realizes he has a thick bandage around his shoulder as well. She swallows, wondering just how many hurts that the Dark One caused that she still has to be confronted with. She hurt her parents. What else might she have done?
She walks up the stairs slowly, pausing at the top and glancing down. Her parents are standing by the kitchen table, murmuring to each other in soft voices while Neal looks up at them with his bright eyes. A beautiful little family; her family.
"We got her back, Charming," Mary Margaret whispers, and Emma swallows again at the obvious emotion in her mother's voice.
"We did," David agrees, his voice catching, and leans forward and kisses his wife tenderly, lovingly. Emma watches for a a few moments, feeling tears blur her vision. Her parents, so very loving, always so very loving.
She loves them too, she knows, and feels it.
She has to take a deep, shuddering breath to calm herself before getting up again, and finishing her walk upstairs. There, she discovers that Henry is still sleeping. So is Hook. She approaches Henry's bed first, smiling down at him before sitting down on the bed.
"Henry," she says softly. His eyelids flutter, so she tries again. "Henry."
He opens his eyes, and the moment he sees her he breaks into the happiest grin she has ever seen. "Mom!"
"Henry," she says, and he hugs her enthusiastically. He seems completely fine physically, but that doesn't mean she can't have hurt him in other ways.
"You woke up. I told mom – other mom - you would," he says, and she smiles softly. "I believed in you."
"You always have, kid," she says, and his face lights up even more. "Henry, if I did or said anything while I was... While I was the Dark One, I'm sorry."
He looks at her thoughtfully. "You don't remember what you did?"
"No," she admits, and wonders again if she even wants to.
"I forgive you," he says, sounding strangely grown up. "I love you, mom."
"Henry," she murmurs lovingly, pulling him into another hug and holding it for a few moments before pulling back. "Why don't you go downstairs and make your grandparents stop kissing each other and start making breakfast?"
"Okay," he says softly, standing up. "Grams and Gramps believed too, you know. They were real heroes saving you, mom. Hook helped a lot too."
She nods, lifting her gaze to see Killian staring intensely at her. He's clearly overheard at least some of the conversation with Henry, but if he's truly heard it, she has no idea. His attention seems solely on her.
"Swan," he says, his voice thick with emotion.
"Great," Henry murmurs. "Grams and Gramps kissing downstairs, now you're about to kiss upstairs. I'm going to call mom and tell her you're awake."
"Okay, Henry," Emma says, and she hears her son walk down the stairs and tell her parents something, but she never takes her eyes off Killian.
"Swan," he says again, and she runs at him, burying herself in his embrace. He holds her, whispering something into her hair that she can't make out. It doesn't matter. What matters is that he's here, holding her, not pulling away despite everything.
"I'm sorry," she whispers against his chest.
"Don't be," he says, his voice soft. "I spent three hundred years pursuing revenge. I did... I did a lot I'm not proud of now. I left you and your mother in a cell where you might have died. I looked after myself and only myself. You and your family changed that. You think I'm going to blame you for a bit of darkness, love?"
She draws a shuddering breath. "It was more than a bit of darkness, wasn't it? I can't remember, but I can... I can sort of feel my memories locked away. They're all dark, Killian. They're so dark."
They'll come back, she is certain. She can already feel them working on whatever barrier in her mind that are keeping them away. She will remember all she did in the darkness sooner or later, and it will break her heart and fill her with guilt.
She isn't the Dark One anymore, but she isn't sure she's quite Emma Swan anymore either. How can she find light again after all that darkness?
Hook sighs, then pulls away to look at her.
"The only thing that matters is what you said before you became the Dark One," he says softly, and Emma swallows. "Do you still... Is it still true what you said then, love?"
I love you, she thinks, and feels it. Softly, she nods, and he kisses her softly. She leans into it, hearing herself make something akin to a sigh of relief. She is loved, yes, so very loved, but just as importantly, she loves too. Loves Henry, loves Killian, loves her parents.
That's her light. Her family loving her got the darkness out of her, but her love for them... That's light, her light.
"They're making breakfast downstairs," she murmurs. "Would you like to join us?"
"I'd love to," he says sincerely, and she takes his hand, leading him downstairs to her family.
Mary Margaret is clearly done feeding Neal, as Henry is sitting by the kitchen table with his uncle in his arms, reading from a comic. David is turning bacon with one hand, while Mary Margaret is doing everything else needed to put a breakfast together.
"Good morning, Hook," Mary Margaret says when they notice her, while David grunts something that might be the same. "Emma, Regina said she'd be by later. She sounded quite relieved to know you'd woken up."
Emma nods, then swallows. She wants to say it, needs to say it. "I love you."
David turns around, looking at her sharply. Mary Margaret has gone completely still, looking at her with teary eyes. Henry has paused his reading as well, looking quizzically at her. She can feel Hook looking at her as well.
"I love you," she repeats. "All of you. Killian, I love you. Henry, I love you. Mom, I love you. Dad, I love you. I love you all."
"Oh, Emma," Mary Margaret says, stepping forward and pulling her into a hug. David joins it after a moment, and then Henry, and Killian still haven't let go of her hand. Her loved ones, she thinks fiercely, and clings to them. As long as she has them, she has hope she'll get through this.
Outside, the sun is coming up; enfolding them all in the first ray of light.