The Charmings' Home
Disclaimer: Not my characters, just my words.
Author's Note: Set after Emma's battle with Gideon in 6x22 and leads into the happy beginnings montage.
How do you start a happy beginning?
Snow and Charming start it by simply going home. It is late, after all, and they've all had a very long day – not at least baby Neal, who is still a little fussy as if he can't quite believe the danger has passed.
Charming can't quite believe it himself. That it should all be over now – that they don't have to face another crisis, that another villain won't appear to threaten his family – seems almost unbelievable.
Emma seems to not believe it herself as she heads off with Hook, but she sends both Snow and Charming a soft smile as she does, and Charming's heart aches with love for her. His daughter. His daughter, now free to just live.
As they all are. Henry goes home with Regina, Zelena leaves with her baby girl tucked carefully into her arms and humming a lullaby. Belle calls to tell them Gideon is a baby again, and that she and Rumple are taking their baby boy home. It is truly the first evening of the rest of their lives.
And so, Snow and Charming head home. Together, hands intertwined, carrying a now sleeping Neal. It feels... Normal. Walking home at the end of a day is normal. What they're walking home from is not quite normal – at least yet. Perhaps tomorrow, and all the days to come, it actually will be.
An enticing thought. Normalcy, as Snow would put it, and he smiles down at her. She meets his gaze, and as she picks up what he's thinking, her smile widens. A bright, beautiful smile that makes her eyes sparkle too. A happy smile, truly, truly happy with nothing to temper it.
He's powerless to resist a smile like that, and knows she wouldn't want him to anyway, and thus he lowers his head and presses his lips against hers. They're still upturned and slightly parted, and, as always, feel right against his in a way he can't put to words. It just is. It's right to kiss Snow White, and be kissed by Snow White, and feel her hand snake around his neck to press him closer.
It's not easy to make out with your wife with a sleeping baby in your arms, Charming finds, but he makes a damn good go at it, if he dares say so himself. He sucks softly on her lower lip, enticing soft moans that soon become breathless moans as he he deepens the kiss. He lets his tongue tease hers until she groans with impatience, and feels her lips become increasingly flushed and warm against his own.
They're both breathing heavily as he pulls away, both looking at each other through lowered eyelids. The adrenaline still lingering in their bodies from the earlier events of the day seem to heighten everything else they're feeling – love, arousal, jubilation, happiness, love...
Snow smiles at him again, a slightly teasing smile that earns her a hard, fast kiss. She can't tease him and expect him not to act on it, after all. She knows that. Probably why she teases him, in fact. She is his mischievous bandit, princess, true love, wife and mother of his children all in one, and he wouldn't have it any other way.
They walk the rest of the way home in silence, stars sparkling overhead. Even the evening sky seems bright somehow, or he's just seeing it as brighter. Everything seems brighter right now, after all. He's alive. Emma's alive. They're all alive, all safe, his entire extended, crazy family.
His baby boy opens his eyes just as they walk into the loft, regarding them sleepily.
"Hey buddy," Charming murmurs softly, and Snow smiles at them both. "We're home now, see?"
Neal looks at him and blinks.
"You're right," Charming amends, and Snow chuckles softly. "Whenever we're together, we're always home. Right, mommy?"
"Right, daddy," she replies softly, brushing a finger across Neal's cheek. "Daddy is always right, except when mommy is more right."
Charming chuckles at that, while Neal just blinks again, then makes a dissatisfied sound. "I think it's more than bedtime for our little prince."
"It is," Snow agrees, and he lifts Neal into her arms. "You've had a long day and quite the adventure with mommy and daddy, but now it's time for bed."
Together, they change Neal's diaper, get him into pajamas, sing two verses of his favorite lullaby and just stand for a few minutes, hands linked, watching him fall asleep. He looks absolutely peaceful as he sleeps, not a care in the world, just happily alive.
Charming can relate, and he smiles softly at Snow as they leave baby Neal to his slumber and walk over to their own bed. They kick off their shoes, and then, then they just look at each other for a long moment, drinking in the sight.
"Quite the adventure," he echoes, and Snow smiles at him.
"But now it's time for bed?" she suggests, teasingly, earning herself another hard kiss.
"Definitely time for bed," he replies huskily.
They have, he considers, made post-adventure sex into something of an artform by now. They have after all had a lot of practice. So many adventures, so many reunions, so much danger faced, so many villains defeated, so much darkness overcome. They've almost lost each other so many times, and yet, here they are.
Here they are, he thinks, with Snow on his lap and kissing him fiercely. He's managed to get her dress open in the back to let his hands roam her skin there, she's unbuttoned most of his shirt in order to run her fingers down his chest. Every now and then she pauses to rest her palm over his heart, as if drawing pleasure from feeling his heartbeats against her skin. (Her heartbeats too, as her heart is his too, a fact that never ceases to amaze him.)
He dips her slightly on his lap, feeling her moan into the kiss at the change of angle before moaning in protest as he breaks the kiss.
"Stand up," he murmurs, brushing his nose against hers. "I want to undress you properly."
"I'm not sure there is anything proper about how you undress me," she replies, giggling slightly. He raises an eyebrow at her, which she matches. "But you're welcome to undress me... Improperly."
He growls softly, putting her onto her feet between his legs and then kissing her greedily, enjoying how her giggles, then sighs happily into his mouth. His Snow. His beloved, beloved Snow. He'll show her improper.
He puts his hands on her hips, turning her around so her back is to him before getting to his feet. She simply waits, and he can see her chest rise and fall as she stands, awaiting what he'll do next. He know she can feel his breath on her neck, as her eyes close for a moment and she tilts her neck slightly. An invitation.
He takes it, of course. He lowers his head to her neck, pressing a light kiss to her collarbone and feeling her shiver slightly at that. He moves his hands to her shoulders as well, beginning to slowly push her dress down her arms while beginning to suck gently at the base of her neck. He knows just the spot – he's left countless marks there over the years, but how can he not when it always makes Snow's breath catch in that wonderful way it does?
He can hear it now too – the catch, followed by a moan that catches too when he uses his teeth lightly.
"Improper?" he asks, voice low.
"Slightly improper," she replies, and he can hear her smile. "Slightly."
"Mmm," he hums, moving his mouth along the arc of her neck, all the way up to her ear. "That won't do."
She gasps his name as he draws her earlobe between his teeth, then again as he dips one hand inside her bra to brush her nipple. The other hand he uses to pull her dress further down, feeling it finally pool at her feet. She's still wearing underwear, of course, but it still leaves him plenty of skin to stroke, brush and play his fingers across.
Snow is trembling slightly in his arms, especially as he lets his tongue trace the circles of her inner ear.
"Improper?" he asks again.
"Quite," she gasps, letting out a shuddering breath as his thumb draws circles around her nipple. "Oh, quite."
He hums again, moving his hands to her back and deftly unhooking her bra. It's white lace, a color he very much enjoys on her, but no matter how much he enjoys a color on her, he'll always enjoy her even more without. Naked Snow is far superior to clothed Snow any day of the week as far as he's concerned, and slides her bra off her shoulder and onto the floor.
He can hear himself make a satisfied noise at that, and she tilts her head to give him a quick kiss as a reward. Before she can turn around and kiss him more thoroughly though, he puts an arm around her waist. He's not quite done undressing her improperly, after all. Oh no. One last thing to go.
She gasps as he lowers his hand beneath the white lace of her underwear, her head still turned towards him and thus allowing him to watch her expression as he moves his fingers softly against her. Her eyelids shut close, her lips part, her cheeks flush and her expression become one of such intent pleasure it makes his breath catch. Snow. Beautiful, beautiful Snow.
"Charming," she whispers, her voice breaking slightly as he curls his fingers. "I... Charming."
"Improper?" he asks cheekily, her eyes dark with desire as she opens her eyes and tries to focus on him. He doesn't make it easy for her, he knows, stroking her every time she opens her mouth to reply and thus just making her moan instead. "Improper, Snow?"
"Yes," she finally manages to say, her head falling backwards against him as she writhes lightly. "Entirely... improper. Charming, please... I... need..."
He could back her come there and then, he knows, but he also knows that's not what she wants. Not tonight. Not after almost losing each other again. Tonight, she wants together, like she always wants when they've faced danger like this. Like he wants.
"I know," he replies, moving both his hands to her hips and pulling her underwear down as he kisses her neck again. All skin, all Snow, and now he knows she wants him all skin, all Charming as well.
He sits her down on the bed, letting her watch as he efficiently sheds his own clothing. She licks her lips as he does, her eyes roaming his body as he undresses in a way that feels like a caress. Her gaze is warm, approving, arousing, and his own arousal is pretty visible as he yanks off his underwear.
Snow looks at him through slightly lowered eyelids, lifting her hand to stroke his right buttock.
"Charming," she says, a hint of regal command in her voice. "Sit down."
He does. He sits down on the bed next to her, kissing her shoulder before she climbs onto his lap. She outs her hands on his face, looking at him intently and lovingly as she lowers herself slowly, slowly on him.
He has to close her eyes for a moment, the sensation of it wonderful and familiar all at once. Snow. Oh, Snow, loving, loving Snow. When he opens his eyes again, she kisses him softly, lovingly, her breasts brushing against his chest as she rises slightly on him, then lowers herself again. His hands seem to have moved to her back of their own accord, holding her and caressing her at the same time.
He loses himself in her. There is no other word for it. Everything becomes intent on her – the feel of her, the sounds of her, the vision of her, the taste of her as he varies between kissing her lips and her skin. It's all her, all Snow, all pleasure, until it overwhelms and claims them both.
They crawl under the covers and nestle together afterwards, still needing to feel together and close. They've always been very touchy-feely (as Emma would put it), but perhaps a little extra so after close calls.
Close calls. They've had so many he isn't quite sure what life will be like without them, but perhaps he'll finally find out.
"I love you," he tells her, kissing her skin just above her heart.
"I love you," she replies, leaning forward to kiss the skin above his heart (her heart) as well.
They fall asleep like that, her head tucked underneath his, his arms around her; it feels quite, quite normal.
He's woken by soft kisses across his skin, and opens his eyes to see a mischievous Snow smiling at him before beginning a thorough touch-and-kiss trip of his body with certain prolonged stays. He loses track of how many times she makes him moan, gasp and growl her name, but eventually he can't take the wonderful torture of it all and flips her around to be underneath him.
They make love again like that, oh so very unhurried this time; hands linked and lingering kisses at every deep, slow thrust he makes. No hurry, after all. No new threat. No curse about to hit. No new villain waiting for them.
No hurry at all.
Their baby boy greets the rising sun with disgruntled noises, making them both chuckle. Snow changes his diaper and gets him dressed while Charming makes them all breakfast – a feast of eggs, bacon, pancakes with nutmeg and toasts in various funny shapes.
He even manages to sneak out and find a fresh flower to braid into Snow's hair when she emerges from the bathroom, and earns a kiss for his troubles.
When the phone rings in the middle of the breakfast, he finds himself tensing, expecting the worst, but Snow is all smiles as she answers.
"Emma wants us to have lunch together later today," she tells him when she hangs up.
"Oh," he says, feels his shoulders fall. Snow looks at him with infinite tenderness before stepping into his embrace, putting her arms around him.
"Is it hard to believe it might be over?" she asks, even if she already knows his answer.
"It is," he admits, pressing a kiss against her hair. "But I want to. I want..."
She tilts her head up to look at him. "What do you want, Charming?"
"You," he says intently. "Our family. That's what matters most to me. You know that."
"Oh, I know, Charming," she says, her voice breaking slightly from the emotion in it. "You love us so much, and I love you all the more for it. I know you would happily give up anything to see us safe, to see us happy. But Charming... If you don't have to give up anything... If we are all safe and happy... What else do you want?"
He swallows. His over-driving need to protect his family has been all he could consider for so long that he hasn't thought about any other desires for quite a while, except perhaps as a fleeting thought every now and then. But he does know. Oh, he does know what else he wants.
"I want to have a farm," he says, and Snow smiles at him in a way that makes him suspect she expected this exact answer. "I know it's not some noble calling that..."
"Shh," Snow chides, putting a finger against his lips. "Charming, you are the most noble man I know. Anything you do is noble by virtue of you doing it."
He smiles fondly at her, pressing a kiss against her fingertip. "You wouldn't mind living on a farm?"
"Do you mind that I want to continue teaching?" she asks, and he shakes his head.
"Of course not! Snow, whatever makes you happy, makes me happy too."
"Exactly," she says firmly. "We'll find a farm together. We'll live there. We'll be together. I'll teach. You'll farm. It'll be our happy beginning."
"Happy," he echoes. "Not just happy, Snow. Very happy."
"Very extremely ridiculously happy," she jokes, and they both laugh and grin at each other quite, quite happily.
They meet Emma for lunch at Granny's, and it's all smiles, all happiness, at least until Snow gives his hand a firm squeeze and he knows she wants him to tell Emma about the farm plan.
For a moment, he hesitates. Getting a farm does mean giving up his co-sheriff position with Emma, and he doesn't want his daughter to think it's for the wrong reasons. He has enjoyed working with her so very much, but most of all he's done it out of a desire to protect her, protect everyone.
If this truly is a happy beginning of a happily ever after, then his daughter will be safe and won't need protecting anymore. Even so, it will be hard to fight the urge to.
"Your mother and I are thinking about getting a farm," he finally says, and watches Emma's face intently. There's not even a flicker of disappointment there – just a bright smile and happiness.
"With sheep?" Emma teases.
"Yeah," he admits. "Do you mind? I wouldn't be able to work with your in the sheriff's department anymore. I understand if you..."
"Dad," Emma says, a tone of voice so like her mother's it makes his heart ache. "Will it make you happy?"
"Yeah," he admits again, and Emma puts her hand on his.
"Then you should," she says. "Dad, you and mom, you... You've always wanted me to find my happy ending. I know that now. I know how much it means to you to see me happy, how hard you've fought for me to get here. But dad... It would mean a lot to me to see you happy too. Both of you."
He can feel Snow lean her forehead against his head as he blinks away a tear, then another.
"Be happy," Emma goes on, blinking away a tear of her own. "Be happy for me, but not just for me. Be happy for your own sake too."
"We will," Snow manages to say, sounding teary as well, and putting her hand on top of his and Emma's. "We'll all be happy."
And so, they start hunting for a farm to buy. They don't rush, thought. They want to find the right one, one befitting a happy beginning for a family.
The first one they see is too small, the second much too large, the third with land not very suitable for sheep, the fourth making Neal cry on just seeing it. Still, they're in no hurry.
They have time to make it right. Finally, they have time.
They're rewarded in their patience on the seventh try (rather befitting, really) when they are shown a two-story white farmhouse with good lands attached, and a rather lovely red barn that has a number of birds on the roof.
Snow swears the birds are actually twittering their approval of the place, and he knows well enough not to argue with her about birds. Neal certainly seems to not disapprove at least, not even crying once.
"What do you think?" Snow asks, biting her lip. Neal, nestled safely in her arms, seem to almost mimic it.
"It's almost perfect," he says, taking in the surroundings. "We could have sheep here. Maybe a sheepdog too, if you..."
"Oh, there is a dog here already," the real estate agent interrupts, smiling her most winning smile. "It didn't belong to the previous owners originally, but since no one knew whose dog it was, they adopted it. Perhaps you would like to as well?"
Charming is about to answer when he hears a low dog whimper, and turns around to look at a dog so familiar his heart skips a beat. It can't..
The dog barks and runs right at him, tail wagging, and he knows it is. As impossible as it seems, this is Wilby. His dog.
"Is that...?" Snow asks breathlessly.
"Yeah," he laughs, bending down as Wilby barrels at him, all excitement and happiness. "Wilby. It's Wilby. I don't know how, but it's Wilby."
Snow laughs, and he can feel her watching him happily as he's licked over and over, until Wilby has managed to calm down. The real estate agent looks rather baffled, he can tell, but he gives her a reassuring smile.
"We'll take it," he tells her, and Wilby barks in excitement.
They spend a few weeks fixing up the place before properly moving in. The dwarves insist on helping, fixing up fences and the barn. Gepetto insists on making some furniture for them, including some tables and chairs. They also scour markets together, finding charming pieces here and there. Emma gets them a new toaster. Regina insists on getting them quite the royal bathtub, with the only stipulation that it not be in view of any mirrors so she doesn't accidentally get a 'show'. Hook gets them a ship in a bottle and a bottle of rum he insists is 'romantic'. Granny knits them a blanket for their couch. Countless others stop by with minor gifts, and it reminds Charming that their happy beginning also comes with a happy community to be a part of as well.
Before he met Snow, his world was a farm and his mother. Now, it is so much infinitely more, even if it still includes a farm. His mother would be happy about that, he's sure.
They also decide to get a welcome mat. It seems like a normal family thing to have, and so they find a little shop in a side street that not only sells welcome mats, but also makes custom ones.
The owner is all smiles on seeing them. "Mr and Mrs Nolan, is it?"
Charming can feel Snow looking at him, and he meets her gaze, realizing that they both feel the same way. Nolan is the name he got from the curse, just like she got Mary Margaret from it. But they're not just their cursed identities. They're more. They're Snow White and Prince Charming.
"No," he says, taking Snow's hand. "We're not the Nolans. We're..."
"The Charmings," Snow says, and he chuckles. It fits, somehow. Charming was the name she gave him, and so, it manages to represent them both.
"We're the Charmings," he agrees, and Snow beams at him.
The welcome mat is met with great scrutiny by the rest of the family.
"Your welcome mat is as nauseatingly sweet as you two are," Regina says dryly, giving them a pointed look. "Well done."
"Thank you," Charming replies sincerely, giving Snow a quick peck. "We work hard on nauseatingly sweet."
"Do you?" Emma asks. "To me, it seems like it comes naturally."
"That too," Snow says, and gives him a smiling, lingering kiss.
Emma groans, but without much conviction.
"The Charmings," Hook says thoughtfully. "Does that mean Emma and I can be the Hooks?"
They move in on a Tuesday. It's a bright, sunny day, and they load up the truck with the last stuff from the loft that they're bringing. The rest will remain there for the new owners, a young couple from the Land of Untold Stories.
Charming hopes it will be a happy home for them. For Mary Margaret, it wasn't always, but he likes to think they made it so over time. Through all the hardships they've faced, all the villains and curses, they have built this happy beginning, piece by piece.
Snow seems to feel the same way, as she excuses herself for a few minutes to supposedly check if they've forgotten anything. When he finally joins her, he finds her instead leaning against the pillar, looking lost in memory.
He says nothing, just wraps his arms around her and holds her. Holds her until she takes a long, shuddering breath and then looks up at him.
"Let's go home," she says softly.
It's raining as Charming wakes up, Snow's head on his left shoulder and one of her hands on his right. She is still sleeping, her breath steady and unhurried, her face relaxed. He can hear the soft tap of raindrops against the window, and the occasional soft hiss of wind around the corners of the house.
Their new house. Their home hasn't changed. That has, and will always be, each other and their family. Home. The Charmings' home. This is it.
Softly, he tilts his head and kisses his sleeping princess awake. He can feel her lips curve into a smile against his, and then she opens her brilliant green eyes to gaze at him.
"Good morning," he murmurs, brushing his nose against hers.
"Good morning," she echoes. "Is Neal awake yet?"
"No," he says, glancing over to the baby monitor. It's quiet apart from the occasional wheeze from Wilby sleeping. Their dog isn't just looking after sheep these days, seeming to consider Neal part of the herd. "I think he's enjoying sleeping in."
"Shouldn't you be enjoying that yourself?" she suggests, and he shakes his head. "What exactly are you planning to be enjoying yourself with if not sleeping in, Charming?"
"Snow," he says huskily, and she smiles cheekily. "You. Definitely you."
"Definitely," she echoes, before finding herself kissed fiercely and then definitely, definitely ravished.
How do you start a happy beginning? Perhaps there is no definite answer to that, as all happy beginnings depend on the people living them.
So how did the Charmings start their happy beginning?
Simply being home.