Back to Me
Author's Note: Written to the following prompt: "When Mary Margaret Blanchard gave David CPR right after he woke from his coma, it brought back his true memories. (Since the curse hadn't fully take hold of him yet). So Charming knows who he is, and Snow and Emma don't." I played with it a bit and it kinda got away from me. Oops?
He remembers being confused, so confused, everything in his mind so muddled except for one thing: Finding her. He had to find her. He always found her. Her. He didn't even remembers who she is, just that she was love and light and everything.
He didn't remember, until she kisses him back to life and memories and everything he is floods into him like a torrent and he is drowning again.
Come back to me.
She is looking at him, her green eyes like anchors. Her. Snow. He is Charming and she is Snow. Yes. He remembers. He remembers everything.
"You saved me," he gasps at her, and Snow smiles down at him, almost embarrassed. Her hair is short and there is a spark of recognition in her eyes but none in her face. This is... This is not quite right, he feels and wonders why.
Distantly, he hears other voices, but he can't look away. Snow. Snow.
"Who are you?" she asks and his heart contracts painfully. She doesn't know him. He doesn't know why she can't remember him, but he will figure it out and get her back. He will find her. He will always find her.
"I'm yours," he tells her honestly, and she frowns in confusion, but her eyes light up just for a moment.
"I don't understand," she tells him earnestly, still cradling his face lovingly.
"I don't either," he says, because he doesn't. He doesn't understand why she can't remember him and her hair is short and he is lying half-drowned in a river somewhere he doesn't recognize. But he is going to figure it out, figure it all out. "But I know that I'm yours."
Her lips part as she gasps soundlessly, and he can't help himself, lifting his head enough to brush his lips against hers. Her lips are soft and warm and she breathes into him, and Snow, oh Snow.
Come back to me, he thinks.
"Mary Margaret," a unfamiliar voice says, and Snow breaks the kiss, looking flustered and confused and making his heart ache again. "We need to get our John Doe back to hospital."
John Doe, he thinks, and wonders just who the hell he is meant to be.
They tell him his name is David Nolan, that he has been in a coma for a long time and just woke up and that Snow is Mary Margaret Blanchard, a schoolteacher who also volunteers at the hospital. Abigail comes running to hug him, telling him she's Kathryn Nolan, his wife, and he watches Snow's heart break across the room. They tell him he is probably confused and that none of it makes sense, and they are right. Nothing makes sense until he sees another familiar person walk up to Snow.
The curse, he remembers. This is the curse, then. This strange world where no one seems to know themselves, and Regina has apparently tried to keep him and Snow apart by inventing a fake marriage for him.
He won't let her. He won't, he swears to himself, and looks at Snow with all the love he can manage. She looks longingly at him for a moment longer, then slips away.
The huntsman is Graham, the sheriff with a load of questions, and there is a blonde woman too, the same one that was with Snow when she found him. She feels familiar, but he can't place her from the Enchanted Forest. Not until he catches her name and his whole world seems to spin again.
Emma. Emma Swan. Emma.
It can't be, yet it is, he knows. This is his daughter. This is Emma, and his heart aches with it. Their daughter. Rumple did tell them it would be 28 years, he faintly remembers, and he imagines that is her age.
Emma. She is so beautiful, with Snow's eyes and chin, and he can tell she also has the same stubborn streak from the way her jaw is set in determination.
Graham and Doctor Whale seem to have decided he has lost his memories by how confused his answers are, which is the opposite of the truth, but serves him well enough as a cover. He has no memories of this world, doesn't want any memories of this fake world Regina has tailored to torment Snow.
He just wants his family, and he aches with the desire to hug his daughter, whom he last saw as a baby and held for only a precious few minutes in his arms.
Come back to me.
"I'm sure it will come back to you, Mr. Nolan," Whale says, and Graham nods.
They refuse to let him leave this cold, strange place that is called a hospital in this world, hooking him up to strange devices that make sounds that doesn't let him sleep. They tell him it's for his own good, but his own good would be finding his wife and sleeping in her arms.
Instead, he is left alone, unable to sleep, trying to piece together everything he knows. Snow thinks she is Mary Margaret Blanchard. Everyone thinks he is David Nolan and married to Kathryn Nolan. Regina is the mayor, and if she remembers or not, he isn't sure. His daughter is somehow 28 years older while no one else has aged, and is Emma Swan. This is a town called Storybrooke in a strange world he has no idea what is like, but everyone else believes is home.
This is the curse meant to take their happy endings away, but Emma is here. Emma, who is meant to break the curse. Their Emma.
He takes solace in that, and in how Snow looked at him. She is still in there, he knows. Inside Mary Margaret Blanchard is Snow, his Snow, and he will get her back. He's determined.
On that thought, he finally falls asleep, dreaming of Snow by his side and the weight of a baby in his arms.
Come back to me.
Kathryn comes to see him in the morning, and he tells her he wants their marriage ended. She cries and pleads and his heart aches with the injustice of having to break her heart over something that isn't even true. None of this is right, but he will not let anything keep him from Snow.
Regina comes by afterwards, telling him not to make a mistake, and it takes everything in him to keep his face blank. She remembers, he strongly suspects, or she wouldn't be so determined to keep him married. She even subtly warns him off Miss Blanchard, or as subtly as Regina manages to do anything.
He sees Mary Margaret briefly later in the day, smiling at him across the hallway, and making him wish he could stride over and pull her into his arms. Snow. Snow. He wants her, needs her, and the unfamiliarity of everything else just increases the need.
Doctor Whale tells him he needs physical therapy before being allowed to leave hospital, so he pours all his energy into it. It steadies him, focusing his anger towards Regina and this curse for separating into something physical.
He's left breathless and exhausted by the end of it, and guided gently into bed where he lies, staring at his empty hands.
"Hey," Snow says, and he lifts his head to see her looking at him.
"Hi," he breathes, sitting up. She approaches him carefully, and his gaze falls on her hands. She is wearing his ring, but on the wrong finger. Right, yet wrong, like everything.
"How are you doing?" she asks gently.
"Better," he assures her, which is true. He is always better when she is with him. "I'm doing physical therapy. Dr. Whale tells me I need to before he will release me."
She nods hesitantly. "I suppose you're eager to get home to your wife."
"No," he says, and her eyes widen at the force of his voice. "My marriage to Kathryn is not real."
She looks confused. "But..."
"It doesn't feel real," he amends. "Nothing in this world does, except you."
Her lips part again, and she looks at him almost as Snow would, just with more wonder, as if she can't quite believe it.
"Oh," she breathes. "You don't even know me."
"I don't know Mary Margaret Blanchard yet," he says carefully, a sort of truth. "But I know what I'm feeling."
She leans closer for just a moment, then closes her eyes. "I shouldn't be here."
"Please don't go," he says, resisting the urge to take her hand. Slowly, he reminds himself. She doesn't remember him. He has to remember that. "I'd love some company – and to get to know you."
Finally, after what feels like a lifetime but is only a few heartbeats, she nods.
They end up playing hangman, a game she teaches him and he always lets her win, even drawing her into a bandit costume complete with horse when she has trouble guessing 'charming'.
He spends several days like that, pouring himself into physical therapy and regaining his strength. Kathryn comes by to see him a few more times, but he remains determined to end their fake marriage as soon as possible. She eventually seems to give up persuading him otherwise, pointing him to several divorce lawyers.
He hopes she will find Fredrick in this world.
Snow, who he tries to remember to think of as Mary Margaret and often fails, stops by every evening, and they play silly games together or just talk. She teaches kids in this world, and has lots none of her kindness and compassion. She is more timid than Snow ever was, more restrained and careful, and he longs to change that.
He longs for her, but he forcibly restrains himself for now. Not in hospital. Not too fast.
Emma has moved in with her, he learns, delighting in the fact that his daughter has somehow managed to find them both. Emma has also become the deputy sheriff, and apparently has a kid named Henry, who she gave up for adoption and ended up being adopted by Regina.
Regina. He balls his fist at that, and Snow looks concerned, but hesitantly explains that she does think Regina loves Henry deep down.
Henry. He has a grandson. A grandson. A grandson apparently adopted by the Evil Queen herself, and the reason their daughter has actually come to this town. There is an irony in that, but he is not sure he appreciates it.
Somehow, he isn't surprised when Rumplestiltskin himself is suddenly in his room one, though looking as any other human in this town and introducing himself as Mr. Gold. Rumple wheedles him gently, and despite his attempts to look as blank as possible, Rumple just seems more and more pleased.
Eventually he offers his services to ensure a speedy divorce. There is always an agenda to Rumple's favors, Charming knows, but he also remembers that that agenda usually involved Snow and him together.
So he takes the service, and Gold smiles as if he has a winning hand.
Whale finally allows him to check himself out of the hospital, and Graham drives him to Granny's, where he gets a room. Apparently Granny is running the equivalent of a tavern in this world, supplying food and drinks and rooms to guest, and Red is still her granddaughter, but with their loving bond turned far more tumultuous, judging by their exchanges.
Everything seems twisted somehow, mirroring their world, but wrongly, out of focus, distorted.
He doesn't like it, and he aches to bury himself in Snow's arms. Of course, she's at work, so that's where he ends up finding her. At school, in a classroom, surrounded by kids.
She looks beautiful, and he stands for a few moments in the doorway to just look at her while the kids pile out around him. Snow. His Snow, even as Mary Margaret Blanchard.
She sees him and goes completely still for a moment. "David."
"Mary Margaret," he manages, having practiced her Storybrooke name all the way over. "I had to see you."
She blushes, and he steps into the room. "David, you really shouldn't be here."
"I am here," he says firmly, stepping still closer. "I'm out of the hospital and I'm staying at Granny's, but I just had to see you."
"You're married," she breathes.
"I'm fixing that," he says, and her lips part. Gently, he steps close enough to touch her, brushing a lock of her hair behind her ear. It is still strange to see her with such short hair, but she looks as beautiful with it as with her longer locks. "My marriage to Kathryn isn't right, Mary Margaret. I've already started the paperwork."
"David..." she breathes, looking nervous and hopeful all at once.
"I told you," he says gently, caressing her cheek. "You're the only thing that feels right."
She looks at him like Snow always would seconds before pulling him into a fierce kiss, but Mary Margaret doesn't quite have the same boldness. So instead he lowers his head, brushing his lips gently against hers. She makes a sort of soft sigh, tip-toeing into it, and at that he gives in to his week-long desire to kiss his actual wife breathless.
She moans into the kiss as he puts his arms around her, lifting her up and swinging her around. Snow. Snow, Snow, Snow, and he lets himself feel the joy of it, kissing her over and over and over.
"David," she giggles, and he just laughs. Gently, he lowers her to sit on the teacher's desk,
deepening the kiss as he does. She arches into it, and he dares press a few featherlight touches against her skin where her shirt has slid up just slightly.
He could happily kiss her the whole day, he knows, but he also knows that isn't quite possible right now. With effort, he manages to break the kiss, pulling away slightly to cup her head in his hands.
She looks flustered and flushed, and so, so beautiful.
"David," she murmurs breathlessly, and he smiles.
"Meet me tonight," he suggests, brushing his fingers across her cheek. "If you feel the same way I do, meet me tonight at by the toll bridge."
She swallows, then slowly, she nods. He beams at her, stealing another quick kiss that she sighs into. This is right. In a world full of wrong, Snow is still right.
"I'll see you there at six," he promises.
Six feels an eternity away, so Charming finds himself at Granny's, trying to pass the time by exploring the food of this world, as what he sampled in hospital surely can't qualify as food.
As he sits in his booth, a kid suddenly slides in next to him.
"I'm Henry," he says without preamble. "I was there with Emma and Miss Blanchard when they saved you."
"You're Emma's kid," Charming says, and the kid beams. This is his grandchild, no doubt. There is hints of Snow in him, and what is probably Emma too. Henry. His grandchild.
"I found her," Henry says proudly. "She is going to get back all the happy endings. She's the Savior."
Charming can only blink at that. How... Does Henry know? But how?
"Henry!" Emma says, and he glances up to see his daughter looking embarrassed, having trailed in after Henry. "Sorry."
"Don't be," he says, and means it. "Thank you both for helping Sno-Mary Margaret save me."
Henry's eyes widen, and he looks very pleased. "Miss Blanchard found you. Do you think she will always find you?"
"Henry," Emma says again. "Let's not interrogate Mr. Nolan on his first day out of hospital."
"David," he insists, smiling gently at Emma. It's not what he would want her to truly call him, but it is at least his real name.
"David," Emma agrees. "It's good to see you out of hospital."
"It's good to be out of hospital," he says, and Emma smiles faintly, bur guardedly. She seems very careful, his daughter, and he wonders why. Snow was at first too, when he first met her, and with good reason. If anyone has hurt his daughter, he will.. No. He can't focus on that now. "Granny's has much better food and beds."
Emma tilts her head. "You're staying here?"
"Yes," he confirms. "I'm... My marriage to Kathryn Nolan is definitely over."
Emma gives him a long, hard look, as if gauging his sincerity. Henry just looks excited. "Are you sure?"
"I'm certain," he says, and Emma nods slowly, accepting it. He smiles at her, and at Henry. His family, along with Snow, as strange as it is. "So I'm all alone in the world, unless you two would like to join me for lunch?"
The pity plea and puppy eyes work quite well; he ends up eating lunch with his daughter and his grandson and relishing every moment of it.
He bumps into Regina on his way to the toll bridge, and she tries to give him directions, something he considers extremely suspicious and immediately disregards. Instead, he follows the directions Henry whispered to him when he confessed he had a date with 'Miss Blanchard' while Emma was getting their orders.
Sure enough, Henry is right, and he finds himself at the bridge, glancing down at an obviously nervous Snow.
"You're here," she giggles, the wonder in her voice plain.
"I already made my choice," he says softly. "You will always be my choice."
She smiles, and he takes a step closer, then another.
"You're here too," he says happily.
"I wasn't sure," she admits, biting her lip. "This is happening so fast and..."
"You're here," he says again, and she bites her lip again. "I know it seems fast to you, to I promise you, S... Mary Margaret, this is real."
Before she can answer, he strides over to her, lifting her up to kiss her, a long, demanding kiss that makes her seem to melt into his arms. He pours all his love into it, only lowering her back on her feet after several minutes.
Come back to me, he thinks.
"David," she says, and he hides his disappointment behind a soft smile. "This is..."
"This is what I want," he assures her, taking her hand in his. "You're what I want."
"I saved you," she says breathlessly.
"You did," he agrees. "But that's not why."
She looks torn between the desire to believe him and something akin to fear.
"I know your heart," he goes on, putting his hand above her heart. Oh, how he knows it, knows her. "Do you believe in true love?"
"I... I want to," she admits, her eyes bright with longing.
"I do," he says firmly, kissing her again, tenderly this time. "I'm going to love you, Mary Margaret Blanchard. You'll believe."
You'll come back to me, Snow, he thinks, but doesn't say.
He walks Mary Margaret home, hand in hand, pausing to steal kisses along the way and outright making out with her against her door before letting her go. Most of all he would like to step inside with her, but he settles for a promise of a date the next day.
It is late, but not too late, and so he carefully sneaks over to the mansion that is Regina's home. It is grand in the style of this world, but he finds it cold and chilling.
Most of all he would like to march in there, demand she break the curse and get his grandson out of there, but he knows that is unlikely to do anything except to make him end up imprisoned somewhere.
There is a light on in an upstairs bedroom, and moments later he sees Henry peek out, looking delighted. Before he has a chance to protest, the kid is already out the window and climbing down the tree.
Impulsive, he thinks, and smiles faintly. Must be a family trait.
"David!" Henry beams as he reaches the ground. "How did your date with Miss Blanchard go? Did you kiss her and tell her you'll always find her?"
"What makes you say that, Henry?" Charming asks carefully.
"Because you're her Prince Charming," Henry says eagerly. "She's Snow White, and Emma is your daughter."
"I think you better tell me more about this," Charming says faintly, and feels an urge to sit down.
Henry has no problem talking, Charming learns about his grandson as they both sit down, their backs to the tree. Quite the opposite. Henry seems almost desperate to talk, showing off his storybook in his backpack and excitedly talking about how he realized all the stories in it were actually true.
As they are, Charming can tell from a brief glance at his and Snow's story. How their story ended up in a book in the hands of his grandson, he has no idea, but perhaps it is some of sort of lingering magic.
"You are Prince Charming," Henry says again, and this time, Charming can hear the plea in his voice. To be the only one knowing the truth surrounded by people who don't, that is quite lonely, after all. He knows.
"Yes, Henry," he says quietly. "I am. I remember."
Henry looks at him, then breaks into a smile before throwing his arms around Charming. "Does this mean I can call you Gramps?"
Charming smiles softly, patting Henry on his back and feeling a vibe of grandfatherly, almost fatherly pride. This is his grandson. His actual living, breathing, clever and brave grandson, son of his equally clever and brave daughter.
"Yes, Henry, but only when we're alone. We have to..."
"Be careful," Henry finishes, pulling back and looking sad. "Because of what mom might do."
Right. Regina is mom to Henry, Charming remembers painfully. Regina, the one who did all this, who caused Snow 28 years without him and their daughter 28 years without any of them.
"Yeah," he says, and wonders just what Regina might do in this world.
Henry swallows, then looks determined. "Emma will break the curse. We have to help her break the curse."
"We will," Charming promises, ruffling Henry's hair gently. "We will find a way, Henry."
Henry nods, then goes for another hug. "I'm so glad you're here, Gramps."
"I am too, Henry," Charming says, and means it. Whatever dangers they might face, he will always be happy being with his family.
It is a strange thing, to be nervous for what is essentially a first date with his actual wife, but he still feels it. He is in a way courting her all over again, except the first time he courted her it was by taking an arrow to the shoulder, seeing her through two-way mirrors and telling her to have faith, putting a golden egg in a dragon to find her and then waking her from a sleeping curse.
That might not be easily done again, so he settles for a nice restaurant, a bouquet of snow bells, a prepared speech with all the compliments he can think of and a nice newly bought suit Henry tipped him off about.
Of course the prepared speech goes out of his head the moment he sees her standing there, in a pale green dress that goes with her eyes and hugs the shapes and curves of her body that he knows so well.
"You look beautiful," is all he manages to say, holding out the bouquet and watching her blush. "You're..."
He nearly crushes the flowers between them in his eagerness to kiss her, and she makes a faint noise of protest that turns into a soft moan. He can tell the other guests are staring, and he doesn't even care.
"David," she says as he pulls back, her cheeks flushed and warm to his touch.
"Sorry," he says, and doesn't mean it. "You just looked so beautiful. I missed you."
"You saw me yesterday," she replies, and he smiles down at her.
"Exactly. Yesterday. I missed you."
She blushes again, looking down at the flowers. "Snow bells."
"Snow bells," he confirms. "I thought you might like them."
"I do," she says, touching one and for a brief moment, something odd flickers across her face. He holds his breath, but then it is gone again, and he is left with Mary Margaret smiling hesitantly at him.
He doesn't know how to judge dates that doesn't involve adventures or balls or picnics, but Mary Margaret seems to have a good time. He makes her laugh, and blush, and she lets him walk her home and kiss her up against her door until they are both breathing heavily.
He watches her through lowered eyelids as she tries to catch her breath, caressing her shoulders and playing idly with the straps of her dress.
She bites her lip several times, then swallows. "Would you like to come inside?"
An echo of Snow's boldness, he thinks warmly, remembering her pulling him into her tent that first night.
"I would," he murmurs, hearing how thick with desire his own voice is. "But only if you want me to. I want you, Mary Margaret. Not just tonight. Every night for the rest of our lives. I want..."
She kisses him. A quick peck at first, then another, then putting her arms around his neck and pressing her lips against his until he parts them. He meets her kiss willingly, but is very conscious of the fact that this is her kissing him.
Snow, he thinks lovingly, and caresses her side.
"Come inside," she whispers into the kiss, and he grins at the slight demand in her tone.
"Yes," he agrees, and fumbles the door open without breaking the kiss.
Emma isn't home. Normally he would be very happy to see his daughter, but it is probably a good thing. He can't quite seem to stop kissing Snow, necking her against the kitchen counter, making out with her against the frame to the bedroom, kissing her eagerly while lifting her into his arms and then onto the bed.
They've left a trail of snow bells scattered across the floor, he notices, and doesn't even care as he closes the curtains.
She looks up at him as he lowers himself on the bed next to her, her lips swollen and her cheeks blazing, her green eyes bright with desire. He wishes he could tell her that he loves her, loves her more than anything, but it is probably too soon. She won't believe it. Not yet.
She sighs softly as he cups her cheek in his palm, caressing gently with his thumb.
"You're breathtaking," he says sincerely, dipping his head to kiss her and then brush his nose against hers. She closes her eyes, and he brushes light kisses against her eyelids, her cheeks, her nose, her forehead and finally several dozen across her lips.
"David," she breathes, and as much as he wishes she would use the name she gave him, he has to admit this is a good second.
"I'm here," he whispers, kissing her to punctuate the point. "I'm yours."
He is hers, he shows her. He takes his time, letting her undress him slowly before undressing her equally slowly, kissing and touching every inch of skin while she arches into his touches and moans his name. Her skin is as smooth as he remembers, and he knows just where to touch and caress and linger to make her pant, moan and even whimper.
Snow never was good at staying completely silent, a trait he rather enjoyed and often exploited. Mary Margaret seems to be the same, often biting her lip, but still making half-strangled noises that he very much approves of. He loves her sounds. He loves her, and tells her with every kiss, every touch, every look.
When she pulls him down for a fierce kiss, it is his time to groan her name. He lets her touch him at her own pace, a bit timidly and carefully at first, but slowly growing more assured. She seems to remember just where to touch him too, as if her body remembers what the rest of her can't. Her hands are soft and warm stroking him, her trail of kisses across his chest gentle and hot. She seems to take delight in driving him half mad with pleasure, peeking up to watch his reactions every now and then and smiling every time.
His beautiful, beautiful Snow. His, and he kisses her fiercely to make the point. She is his, and he is hers. They are Snow and Charming, and they have found each other again.
Kissing her while he sinks into her feels like coming home, the relief of it almost as strong as the pleasure. He links his hands with hers, kissing her with every slow thrust. She arches into him, her body so fitting against his, like two pieces of a puzzle come together once again.
He knows her, knows her body so well that he manages to coax her into an orgasm that makes her bite hard into his shoulder. Only then does he chase his own release, faintly feeling Snow hold him as the pleasure claims him.
They lie silent together for a while afterwards, slowly regaining their breath. Snow seems content to be in his arms, curling up against him as she always would. He kisses her leisurely every now and then, until her breathing steadies and she sleeps.
"Come back to me," he whispers, and Snow sighs in her sleep. "Snow. Please come back to me."
He wakes from a door being shut, and shuffling feet. It must be Emma, he realizes, as Snow is still in his arms. It is dark, so it must still be night.
The muffled sob makes him look up sharply. Emma, crying? Without hesitation, he gently shifts Snow enough to get out of bed, and fumbles around in the dark until he finds his underwear and pants and some sort of t-shirt, then quietly slips into the combined kitchen and living room.
Emma is there, a dark silhouette on a kitchen chair. He can already tell something is wrong. She seems almost defeated, her shoulders slumped and her head lowered.
"Emma?" he tries.
"Yeah," Emma replies, and her voice is thick. "Sorry, I didn't think... Mary Margaret doesn't seem like the type to bring dates home on her first date."
He bites back a reply about not being a date, but being a husband who should damn well be home every night. "I guess I'm different."
"I guess you are," she says tonelessly. "Sorry, I..."
"What's wrong?" he asks gently, sitting down on the chair next to her.
"Graham died in my arms tonight," she says, still tonelessly, but that doesn't fool him.
"I'm so sorry," he offers, feeling a sharp pain of his own. Graham... dead? No. No. Not Graham. "What happened?"
"I don't know," she says, her voice rising slightly. "He was fine one moment, and then he just collapsed in my arms and... I don't know. They're going to do an autopsy."
"I'm sorry," he offers again, and she finally looks at him, her eyes so much like her mother's and so pain. Without thinking, he puts an arm around her. She stiffens, then she makes a chocked sob, then another, and finally she seems to let go and cry.
He steadies her against his chest, letting her cry while he says nothing. There is no comfort he can offer, not when he has his own grief to hide. Graham. Graham. No. He let Snow live, helped Charming escape the castle. Not Graham.
"I'm sorry," Emma mutters after a while, her voice steadier.
"Don't be," he offers. "Graham seemed like a good buy."
Emma pulls back, biting her lip. "Yeah."
He nods, watching her briskly brush away a few dried tears. She seems so utterly defeated, and he wishes he could offer better comfort than just the presence of a guy she barely knows.
"Sorry," she says again. "I cried all over your... actually, Mary Margaret's blue bird t-shirt."
He glances down at himself, noticing the t-shirt he put on in a hurry is indeed a very tight fit and one sporting blue birds.
He opens his mouth, but she lifts a hand.
"Don't tell me why you're wearing it," she says, a hint of the old Emma in her tone. "I already have all the mental pictures I need."
"Right," he says, hiding a faint smile. "I'll go wake her. You know she would never forgive me if I didn't. She's... your friend. She cares about you."
Emma looks down, the nods. As he gets up, she gives him another look. "Is this going to be a regular thing, you being here?"
"Yes," he says without hesitation, and Emma gives him the ghost of a smile.
"Good," she says, and might even mean it.
Mary Margaret starts fuzzing over Emma the moment he wakes her with the news, acting every bit as the mother she doesn't know she is. Emma lets her, even seeming to take some comfort in it, eventually falling asleep after a few hours.
Only then does Mary Margaret herself cry, and he holds her while feeling his own tears fall freely too.
Why have they lost Graham?
In the morning, he makes breakfast for everyone, and gathers up all the scattered snow bells for a bouquet to go with it. Mary Margaret kisses him gratefully, but Emma only gives him another ghost of a smile. Emma seems to have pulled away, being distant and not even Mary Margaret can quite reach her.
Walls, he thinks, watching his daughter. His daughter has walls. After her first display of grief, she has now shut it and them out.
He makes the best of it, settling for being helpful in any way he can. He helps Emma clean up a few things at the sheriff station, and follows her to the hospital afterwards. She doesn't protest his presence, seeming to think it a request from Mary Margaret. Which it is, but not just.
Regina gives them both pointed looks when they run into her, and he can't help but wonder. Last he met Graham in the Enchanted Forest, Regina had his heart. Would she still have it here? Did she have something to do with his death?
He takes Emma to lunch at Granny's, where she eats morosely, only lighting up when Henry steps inside. Her obvious growing affection for her son makes Charming swallow a lump in his throat.
"I think mom killed Graham," Henry whispers to him when Emma steps outside to answer a call. "She's really pissed about you and Miss Blanchard too. Is she going to hurt Grams? Or mom?"
"No," Charming says firmly, putting his hand on Henry's.
He won't let Regina hurt his family. He won't.
He spends the next few days never being far from Snow or Emma. Emma seems to accept the fact that he is there every night and makes no comment, but Snow still looks at him with wonder every time he shows up at her door, seeming to light up with happiness. He wants to more than anything to make sure he will always be there, but he reminds himself to be patient.
He wakes up early to sneak out every morning, to bring Snow a flower and Emma a bear-claw for breakfast, almost feeling as if he is courting them both. Emma seems amused, Snow touched. He takes Snow out for dinner twice, and is invited for dinner every other evening, and every night he spends in her bed, loving her.
"I love you," he whispers, kissing the back of her neck. He has made a habit of this, whispering his love for her as she sleeps, wanting, needing to tell her.
It takes him a moment to realize she's moving, that she's awake, turning around in his arms to look at him.
Her eyes are searching his face, her lips slightly parted. "What?"
What the hell, he thinks. It's been days, weeks in fact. He's been patient. He's waited.
"I love you, Mary Margaret," he says again, smiling softly at her.
"David," she says, her voice breaking.
"I love you," he repeats, and she swallows. He has no doubt she sees nothing but sincerity in his face, and her eyes seem to tear up.
"I..." she says, then kisses him with so much love he feels dizzy. She loves him, he knows that. Regina may have cursed Snow, but even her curse couldn't touch their love. It is still there, even if Mary Margaret isn't quite sure where it is coming from.
She will remember. Until then, he closes his eyes and finds comfort in her kiss.
He knows Regina won't be content to just let things be, but he is still surprised when he hears that she is trying to get Emma fired and is spreading rumors about Mary Margaret being unfit to teach due to having an affair with a married man.
It is just her opening bid, he is certain, but it still makes him angry enough to march into her office and tell her off.
Regina merely looks at him quietly, raising an eyebrow. "How long have you remembered, Charming?"
He considers denial, confusion and a combination of the two, but instead he merely folds his arms. "Long enough. What's more important, Henry knows I remember. If anything was to happen to me, he would know why."
For a moment, a shadow flickers across her face. Perhaps she does love Henry somewhat after all. Does she love him enough?
"Duly noted, Charming," she says darkly. "See yourself out."
Emma decides to run for sheriff, much to his pride. His daughter is a fighter, and he can sense a leader in her too. Mary Margaret seems excited as well, making posters and sending him off to plaster them everywhere, something he happily does.
He wants his daughter to win.
Emma seems to find his and Mary Margaret's enthusiasm touching if awkward, but he catches her smiling at the sight of Mary Margaret and her stack of posters and buttons at least twice.
"You'll be a great sheriff," he tells her, and his daughter looks at him with a slightly doubting gaze. He considers that progress, as at least it's not a completely disbelieving face.
"I don't know," she says, then shrugs. "I don't even know if I can win this."
"Have faith," he says, and Emma gives him a faintly fond look.
"I can see why Mary Margaret likes you so much. Eternal optimist," she comments dryly.
"Eternal optimist," he agrees readily. "You're going to win and you're going to be a great sheriff. I believe it, Mary Margaret believes it, Henry believes it. We all believe in you."
His daughter shifts, looking almost uncomfortable. "I'm not used to this."
"What?" he asks, trying to keep his voice as casual as he can. Emma Swan isn't fond of being pushed, he's starting to learn, but it is possible to get her to give a little by simply being patient.
"People believing in me," she says darkly, and he wishes he could punch everyone who has made his daughter not see how wonderful she is.
"Get used to it," he tells her, and means it.
Emma does win. It takes saving Regina from a burning building and standing up to Gold to do it, but she wins, and she seems torn between baffled and happy.
Mary Margaret is just happy, and they end up having a sort of impromptu celebration at Granny's, which Regina regards darkly before leaving. He doesn't let that spoil his mood. Not tonight. He even gets to dance with both his daughter and his wife, Emma out of pity and trying to teach him steps to dances he's never heard of to dazzle Mary Margaret.
Dazzle her he does; she ends up laughing against his chest until he lifts her up and kisses her in full view of everyone. Emma averts her eyes, a few town people whisper, but he doesn't care.
He may have to hide who he is, but he is not going to hide his love for Snow. Not here, not ever.
Mary Margaret looks at him with blushing cheeks as he slowly lowers her back on her feet. "David..."
"What?" he asks softly.
"Would you like to..."
"Yes," he cuts in. "Tonight and every night. I've told you. I will always like to come home with you."
"No," she says, and he blinks at her. "That's not what I was going to ask. I know you... always want to come home with me, so I wanted to know if you'd like to... officially move in with me and Emma. I know it's soon, but..."
"Yes," he cuts in, grinning. "As long as Emma is okay with it, I'd love to."
Mary Margaret grins too, her eyes happier and brighter, and he can see the spark of Snow in her. "She said you were practically living with us already."
"She has a point," he agrees, then lifts her up again, kissing her happily and almost as unreserved as he truly wants. But just almost. Their daughter is watching them, after all, and even smiling.
"I love you," Mary Margaret whispers, her eyes closed as he kisses her neck. It takes him a moment to realize, still lost in the sensation of being deep inside her, but then his brain seems to catch up.
"What?" he says, and she opens her bright, green eyes.
"I love you," she repeats, breathless but steady, no doubt in her voice. "I love you."
He kisses her desperately, feeling her mouth it into the kiss as well. Please, please...
"Come back to me," he pleads, and she looks at him for a moment that looks like an eternity.
"I'm here," she whispers reassuringly. "I love you, David. I'm right here."
"I love you too," he murmurs. He had hoped... He had hoped saying it would bring Snow back somehow. A foolish, desperate hope, but still a hope.
She kisses him, and he closes his eyes, letting himself be lost in the comfort of her kiss, her touch, her body, her love.
"Regina may accept me as the sheriff, but she manages to act as if the sheriff is her personal servant," Emma complains, pouring down the last of the wine in her glass.
"That's just Regina," Mary Margaret says reassuringly, shifting her head slightly in his lap. She looks wonderful there, he has to admit, and he grins down at her before stealing a kiss.
"If you two start that again I'm leaving," Emma grumbles, managing to sound every bit a daughter disgusted by her parents without even knowing she is.
"Sorry," he says, without much sincerity, and Emma rolls her eyes. "Mary Margaret is right. That's just Regina."
Emma makes a slightly dissatisfied noise.
"Everyone should treat you like a princess," he says after a moment and Emma gives him a sideways glance.
"I'm not princess material," she comments, and Mary Margaret giggles softly. "You got the only princess material in your lap. Henry is still convinced she is Snow White."
"Snow White," he repeats, simply for the joy of saying his wife's true name for once. "That makes me Prince Charming."
"You're definitely Prince Charming material," Mary Margaret says firmly, and hearing her call him that makes it impossible not to kiss her.
"You sure have the mush of Disney fairy tales down to an art," Emma mutters, reaching for the bottle.
He counts it as a small win that she didn't even ask them to stop this time.
"Mom's planning something," Henry says to him over lunch, as Emma and Snow are discussing something outside. "I've heard her on the phone talking to Sidney, but I wasn't close enough to hear what they were saying. I'll try harder."
"Henry," Charming says. "Don't risk anything to..."
"I have to," Henry insists. "You're my family, aren't you? Wouldn't you risk anything to protect us?"
"Of course I would," Charming says, sighing. His grandson does have a point. "Just be... Be careful, please."
"I promise, Gramps," Henry says seriously. "But I won't let anything happen to you."
He lies awake after Snow has fallen asleep, letting his fingers play idly patterns on her naked back. He is worried, he has to admit. Regina will make a move sooner or later, and it sounds like it will be sooner.
He has to keep his family safe. Emma, Snow, Henry. He's loved these weeks of getting to know his daughter and grandson, and being with Snow even though she hasn't remembered.
"I love you," he murmurs, and Snow tilts her head up and opens her eyes to look at her.
"I love you too," she says, and he revels in how certain she know sounds. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing," he lies, and she gives him a look. She is starting to know him quite well too. "I'm sorry. I'm just worried. There's a storm coming tomorrow."
She nods slightly, seeming to accept that. "I heard the forecast."
"Mmm," he says, pressing a kiss against her temple. "Be careful."
"You too," she says, her eyes drifting shut. "I won't let anything happen to you."
"Neither will I," he vows quietly, marveling at the quiet steel in her voice.
The storm comes.
In more than one way, of course.
Of all the things Regina could have pulled, kidnapping seems almost boringly predictable. Walking home with supplies for the storm, quietly planning what he and Snow might do to pass all the time until the storm passes, he is vaguely aware of shadows behind him, but can't react quickly enough before everything goes dark.
Shit the second is waking up in a dark cabin, the storm starting to pick up outside. Regina is glancing down at him, looking pleased.
His arms are tied behind his back, he realizes. His legs are tied too.
"They'll know I'm gone," he says, but Regina merely smirks. "Henry will know you've harmed his grandfather."
"Oh, I'm not harming you, Charming," she says, her eyes dark. "That would create complications, you're right. No. I've made a deal with Mr. Gold to ensure that you suffer the fate you were always meant for."
Her gaze flickers to a windmill on the table, and his head starts pounding the moment he starts looking at it.
"This will give you the memories David Nolan was meant to have," she goes on. "You'll forget these weeks you've spent with Mary Margaret and Emma. You'll instead remember your years with Kathryn Nolan, and your honor will back you go back to her."
"No," he growls, fighting against the ropes. He can't forget this, he can't forget Snow and his daughter, he can't...
"Yes," Regina hisses, reaching out to touch his face. "Mary Margaret will be heartbroken and I will be happy, and I will find another way to deal with 'the Savior'."
"No," he says again, closing his eyes as she laughs. His head seems to be pounding.
"I'll see you later, David Nolan," she says, and with that she is gone.
No, he thinks desperately, straining against the ropes, his mind straining against what seems like a steady beat. He is Charming. He is Charming. He is Snow's Charming. He's not...
Memories of being David Nolan begin to seep into his mind and he wants to howl. No. No no no. He can't lose it all now, he can't...
He tries to cling to the memories of Snow, but they seem to be sleeping, like snow melting into water. He's losing himself, losing everything and...
No, he thinks angrily, and slams his head into the floor and everything, everything goes blissfully dark.
Come back to me.
He blinks at the light and the water dripping down on his face. Something is flashing, and it takes him a moment to realize it is lightning from outside. He's on the hard floor of a cabin, and his face is being cradled by soft hands.
"Come back to me," a voice says, and he has a moment to marvel at the familiarity of it before she kisses him. Snow. She is Snow and he is Charming, and she is kissing him.
"Come back to me," she says again, staring down at him. Her hair is wet from the rain, and she looks disheveled but determined.
"We keep meeting like this," he jokes weakly, and she laughs and shakes her head at him at the same time. She's cut the ropes tying him, he realizes, beaming at her. His Snow. His wonderful, brilliant Snow, even as Mary Margaret Blanchard.
"I thought I'd lost you," she mutters, and he notices that the windmill lies broken by her feet as well. "Oh, Cha... David."
"Wait," he growls, sitting up despite the fact that his head is throbbing. "Did you just... Snow?"
Her lips part. "Charming? You remember?"
"Of course," he says, and she stares at him. "You remember?"
"Of course," she echoes.
His head hurts and he doesn't even care, pulling her into a fierce kiss that she meets with equal fervor. She is definitely Snow, so very much Snow, straddling him and digging her fingers into his shoulder.
"How long?" he asks hotly, giving her another hard kiss before she can reply.
"A while," she murmurs between kisses and he groans. "That night Graham died, it started coming back to me. Every time I saw you, I could hardly believe you were with me again. My Charming. But I had to be careful with Regina watching us so closely, and I wasn't sure if you... I was trying to make you remember. I even called you Prince Charming material!"
"I was trying to make you remember. I've remembered since you saved me," he says, and she stares at him. The absurdity of it all seems to hit them both at the same time and they laugh, laugh and laugh until they're both out of breath.
"I love you," he finally says, cradling her cheek in his hand. "I love you, Snow White."
She exhales. "I've waited so long for you to say that. Every time you called me Mary Margaret, I longed for you to call me Snow. I love you, Charming."
"We are idiots," he murmurs softly, kissing her just as softly. "How did you find me?"
"Henry," she says, smiling affectionately. "He overheard Regina on the phone to Gold and I... I may have marched into his shop and threatened him a tiny bit."
"Snow," he laughs, and she smiles bashfully. "I gather he told you where I was and what Regina was planning."
"Yeah," she says, biting her lip. "He seemed more amused than threatened. He almost seemed pleased, actually. I let Henry know where you were and then I came to find you."
He nods, looking at her intently. "You remember who Emma is too, then."
Her eyes glimmer with un-shed tears as she nods, and he kisses her face reassuringly, over and over.
"It's been so hard, pretending," she whispers quietly. "I want to be her mother, Charming, not just... a friend."
"I know," he says. He does, after all. He's longed to be Emma's father all these weeks. "But it's a start. It's a start, Snow. We remember, and our daughter is here. That's a start."
"It's a start," she agrees softly, smiling faintly as he leans forward and kisses her yet again. "We should probably get you to a hospital. There's a storm coming and you've been knocked out."
"And knocked myself out," he says, and she gives him a look. "Sorry. It seemed like a good idea at the time."
"Charming," she says, and then kisses him. He leans into it, far too happy to care about minor things like a potential head injury. He has Snow, and his family. That is all he needs.
"I will only go to hospital if you take me right home afterwards," he says, kissing her nose to punctuate the point. "I refuse to spend even a night away from you, and from Emma."
"Good," she says firmly. "I wasn't planning on letting you."
"Good," he echoes, kissing her quickly. "And then what?"
"I don't know," she admits.
"I have half a mind to spend an hour outside Regina's house doing nothing but kissing you just to spite her," he teases, and she smacks his chest lightly, but also looks sad at the mention of Regina. "Snow. I don't know what we will do either, but we will find a way to make a happy ending out of this. Our daughter is here. Our grandson believes. We will find a way. I have faith."
"Faith," she repeats, smiling down at him.
"Faith," he says again, kissing her lovingly. "Our daughter found us. You came back to me. I have faith in us, in our family, in love. I love you, Snow."
"I love you, Charming," she says, and he doesn't care that there's a storm outside and he has been knocked out twice and should probably see a doctor. All he cares about is kissing her.
That's of course when Emma barges in, breathless with worry since of course Henry called her too. Of course.
Still, the fact that she seems too happy to see them safe to make even a single teasing remark is a rather large win, as far as he's concerned.
It is late at night by the time the storm begins to die down, but he is still awake, as is Snow. He's been checked out of hospital with a stern warning about coming back if headaches persists, and Emma has been reassured enough to go to bed. They've called Henry to reassure him too, and then spent a long time reassuring each other in the warm cocoon of their bed.
Now everything is quiet, a lull that won't last, but can still be enjoyed.
"I'm sure she's sleeping now," Snow whispers, and he nods. Quietly, they both slip out of bed, putting on robes before creeping upstairs, hand in hand.
Emma is sleeping, her blonde hair spilling over the pillow like an angel's. She is beautiful, so very beautiful, and he takes a moment to truly enjoy the sight of their daughter.
Snow swallows, looking close to tears. Gently, she leans down and kisses Emma's temple.
"Come back to us, Emma," she whispers. "Believe."
It won't be as simple as that, he knows. They have a long way to go, and he isn't even sure what a happy ending for them all might look like. It is complicated, and hard, but with Snow's hand in his, and looking down at his daughter, he has hope.
"Come back to us, Emma," he says, and believes she will.