HOT CHOCOLATE

Memories

James was comfortable and content, lying in bed with his wife curled into his side, wrapped in his arms; he could stay here like this all day…

Except that the sun was shining directly on his eyes. He frowned, turning his head to try and get away from the intrusive light. He and Snow must have forgotten to close the bed drapes the night before.

But the sun was coming from the wrong direction.

His eyes snapped open, scanning the room. His mind was a disoriented whirl as memories of the night before and the last few months came crashing in together.

"Hmf…John?"

Hearing Snow say another name upon awakening slammed him in the gut, but he reminded himself that she was referring to him, that John was what she thought his name was. He took a deep breath, brushing aside the twinge from her calling him a name not his own, and pressed his lips to hers. "Morning," he murmured against them.

"Mmmm." Her mouth curved into a smile against his. "Good morning," she returned.

A thrill raced through him at the oh-so-familiar, sweet greeting.

Their lips momentarily parted; she rubbed her nose against his. "This is a nice way to wake up."

He was kissing his way from her shoulder, up her neck, across her cheek finally to her lips.

"Hmm." She smiled into the kiss. "This is a nice way to wake up."

James pushed away the memory of the morning after their wedding, the first time they had awoken together in their bed, knowing that he had to keep his mind in the present. He gave her a half-grin. "This is a great way to wake up." His hand cupped behind her head and brought her lips back to his.

She was practically purring into the kiss; her arms slipping around his neck.

Abruptly he flipped them, drawing a shriek of laughter from her which was almost instantly silenced by his lips covering hers again.

James teasingly shushed her. "You don't want to disturb Emma," he taunted, his lips tracing the line of her throat.

Her eyes flashed and his heart pounded in his chest at the familiar fire in her gaze.

"I'll show you 'disturb,'" she growled at him good-naturedly. She coupled their mouths again and once he was sufficiently distracted, pushed him over, rolling them until she was sitting astride his chest. At some point during the night she had gotten up and put on his plaid shirt, he liked it, her wearing something of his; it soothed the possessive streak he had for her that was stronger than usual since there was no ring on her ring finger. She gave him a triumphant grin and he returned it with a laughing one, enjoying this playful, loving moment between them and seeing Snow so much closer to the surface than she was when they were around others.

She leaned back down, cuddling against his chest with a contented sigh; his arms wrapped around her and he pressed his lips to her temple.

She placed little kisses across his chest before burying her nose in his neck with another peaceful hmm. "Yesterday was wonderful."

"The ice skating was fun too."

Laughingly she swatted his chest, drawing a chuckle from him.

He let his hands wander over her in long strokes. "We'll have to go again sometime soon, and hopefully next time we won't get interrupted."

She propped herself up on her elbows so that she could look down at him. "You know that I'm ok with your being called away, right? That I understand and don't mind?"

James hated seeing her so insecure; it made him despise Regina all the more for bringing his love to this place that took away so much of her fire and made her so unsure of herself. He cradled her face between his palms, and brushed his lips against hers. "I know, Mary," it was hard to call her by that name, but at least this morning he'd had the time to work himself around to it. "I promise that I know you are."

She leaned her head forward to press her lips to his fully. "Good." They enjoyed the leisurely kiss. "I love you," she whispered to him when their lips momentarily parted.

His arms tightened around her. "I love you too."

Lips and hands began wandering. His palms ran up her legs to her torso, playing over her gentle curves and pushing the shirt up as he went. James really did like having her wear his shirt, but at the moment he wanted the thing gone.

Her alarm clock rang annoyingly and loudly.

They pulled apart, groaning; James restrained the desire to toss the thing across the room and let Snow–Mary, he had to start thinking of her as that or he would slip-up – shut it off properly. This done she sat up on the bed, legs curled under her; he leaned back against the headboard.

"I have to get ready for work," she told him almost apologetically.

His fingers skimmed down her arm to tangle with hers. "I know." He brought them up to his lips.

Smiling sweetly at him, she reluctantly got out of bed and began moving around the room picking out her clothing for the day. Just before she got to her bedroom door she paused and turned back to him, biting her lip. "I'm going to take a shower…" A bright red blush flared across her cheeks. "Would you like to join me?"

James didn't need to be asked twice.


By the time they got out of the shower and were dressed Emma was sitting at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee – judging from how awake she was it was likely at least her second – and a bowl of cereal.

She waved a hand at the coffee machine. "Pot's fresh."

"Thanks," they both said.

James draped his plaid shirt over one of the stools and pushed the sleeves of his thermal up. He pulled down the mugs for Mary – it was getting a little easier to think of her like that, though she would always really be Snow to him – to pour them each some. He was trying to act as normally as possible; all the while his heart was beating double-time at having his first real morning with his wife and daughter.

Emma eyed them both amusedly. "Well, I guess that explains why your shower took longer than usual, Mare."

James choked on the sip he'd just taken; Mary went beet red.

"Emma!" the dark-haired woman yelped.

The blonde–their daughter–rolled her eyes, crunching on another spoonful of cereal. "We're all adults here." Though, James thought that he saw something in her eyes as she said that.

He decided to get off this line of conversation as quickly as possible, not at all ready to discuss sex–more specifically his and Snow's sex life–with his child. "So, how was the rest of your Valentine's day?" He sat down across from Emma at the table.

She shrugged. "Kinda weird…" a smile pulled at her lips, "and good."

"'Weird and good?'" Mary raised an eyebrow from where she was toasting a bagel.

Emma nodded at James as she swallowed the bite she had just taken. "Not long after you left, Madame Mayor," James had to quell the flash of fury he felt at title, "showed up and basically demanded to talk with Mr. Gold alone."

His eyes went wide, he hadn't even thought about "Mr. Gold"–Rumplestiltskin! a part of him screamed–ice settled in his gut with the reminder. "What happened?"

"Well, she'd brought Henry with her and told me that I had half-an-hour to get ice cream with him."

James clenched his jaw at the witch using Emma's own son–his grandson! He pushed that aside knowing he couldn't deal with it at the moment–and her desire to spend time with him against her. "So you went and got ice cream with him?"

Shrugging again she told him, "I didn't really see the harm in doing so."

James could. He'd never been entirely clear on Regina and Rumplestiltskin's relationship and that worried him, but he couldn't fault his daughter for wanting to spend time with her son.

"Did you and Henry have a good time?" Mary asked, spreading cream cheese on her bagel.

Emma smiled. "Yeah. We talked and I got to find out what he'd been up to in school and everything and we discussed 'Operation Cobra' a little." Humor threaded her tone when she mentioned the "operation."

He cleared his throat. "I've been meaning to ask, what exactly is 'Operation Cobra?'"

His daughter gave him a wry grin. "You know how Henry thinks that everyone in Storybrooke is under a curse?"

He had to pause in swallowing his drink so that he wouldn't choke and slowly nodded.

"Well, 'Operation Cobra' is the 'code name' for 'breaking the curse.'" An indulgent smile spread across her face.

"Really?" James had to work hard to keep his tone and gaze neutral.

She grinned. "Yeah, he asked if I thought that you might have remembered anything yet."

He did choke on his coffee this time.

"John, are you ok?" Sno-Mary, he internally corrected, moved to his side, placing a worried hand on his back.

He was coughing into a napkin but managed a weak smile for her. "Yeah," he got out between hacks. At her continued concern he reached out and squeezed her hand. "I'm fine."

Finally she nodded and went back to the counter to retrieve her breakfast and coffee.

He cleared his throat one last time before turning back to Emma and taking a cautious sip of his drink. "So what did you tell Henry?"

"I said I'd ask you." She smirked at him, balancing her spoon between her fingers. "So…Prince Charming, have you been remembering fairy tales?"

Chuckling, he shook his head. "No, I haven't." Because he hadn't, what he remembered was his life, and goodness knew that what he had lived through wasn't any fairy tale to him.

"I assume you're the man that Rumplestiltskin helped me forget." Her voice was so dead, so empty. There was none of her fire in her eyes, none of her spirit… They were cold, and as dead and empty as her voice. Why hadn't true love's kiss worked?

Taking a deep breath, James pushed the searing memory to the back of his mind; his eyes went to Mary, watching her sit down beside him. She glanced at him, smiling, her eyes sparkling with love and some humor. He grinned back at her, the pang in his heart from the memory soothed with that one look.

Snow was looking at him almost curiously, like she was trying to remember something but was struggling with it. She leaned her head toward James'; his eyes slid shut as their lips met.

This was what true love felt like, not the seductive, lust-driven illusion that the siren had offered, but the sweet and yet passionate reality of her lips pressed to his.

It took him a moment longer to open his eyes after she had pulled back; his breath caught at the joy and wonder in her gaze…dare he believe?

"Charming!"

With that one, lovingly uttered word James felt like he could fly.

He had gotten her back, it might have taken him getting shot with an arrow but she had come back to him and he would take an arrow again, and worse, to have her. They had managed to find one another before and they found each other again here. They would bring back everyone's memories, James had faith.

"Geez." Emma's disgusted groan drew their attention. "You two just can't go two seconds without being sappy, can you?"

James couldn't help himself. "Well, if you believe Henry's theory, it's because we're so sappy that you're here to complain about it."

She spat her mouthful of cereal back out–thankfully into the bowl–Mary fumbled her bagel, sending it face-down onto the table top, clapping a hand over her mouth, trying to stifle her laughter.

Emma grabbed a napkin and, swiping at her mouth, glared at him across the table; James gave her an appropriately charming grin.


James was thankful that he and Emma decided to stop by Granny's to get a hot chocolate for her and a second cup of coffee for him before going in to work since it gave him more time to brace himself for being face-to-face with Rumplestiltskin. The hints that the imp had been dropping to "John" had James wondering just how much the man remembered.

As they walked through the door into the station he took a deep breath, steeling himself for whatever was to come.

"So, Gold," Emma said stridently as she briskly crossed the room, "you change your mind about trading that favor? We've got some pretty tasty coffee and cocoa here."

Sitting down at his desk, James' stomach soured at the reminder of Emma owing Rumplestiltskin a favor, but again he couldn't fault his daughter for it; she'd done it with the best of intentions.

"I will be getting out of here shortly, Sheriff," the imprisoned man countered mildly. "Why on earth would I waste it at this point?"

Shrugging she sipped her cocoa. "Suit yourself." She headed into her office, the door softly swishing shut behind her.

"Good morning, Deputy."

James had been studiously keeping his gaze averted from the other man, but now he allowed his eyes to slowly rise to him.

Rumplestiltskin's gaze was as direct and piercing as ever.

"Mr. Gold," he returned before looking back down at his desk.

"Did you and Ms. Blanchard have a good Valentine's day?"

James kept his eyes on the report he was going over. "It would have been even better if we hadn't been interrupted." The person on whom he placed the blame for his date being cut short was obvious in his tone.

"Well," Rumplestiltskin commented genially, "there's always next year."

The prince's hand tightened on his pen; he didn't want to even think about the possibility of it taking them that much longer to break the curse and get home. He made a noncommittal sound to mask his unease.

"Not feeling particularly chatty today, Deputy?" Craftiness laced the imp's tone.

His insides froze.

James glared at the man–if he could be called a man–on the other side of the bars. "Tell me where Thomas is."

"I'm not feeling particularly chatty today, Your Highness." Rumplestiltskin's voice was thick with sarcasm as he drawled over the title, both of them knowing that while James might have earned it through deed and marriage; he hadn't been born to it as so many others thought.

James had gone stock-still; the sheer force of will it took to keep himself from reacting further consumed all of his concentration. It was a few heartbeats before he'd mastered himself enough to respond; he just hoped that the other man would take his delayed response as, at most, the phrase niggling a memory and not him having remembered entirely. "We don't have anything to discuss."

"Oh, I don't know about that." James could amusement tingeing the other man's tone. "Have you given that charming mobile any more thought?"

His hand stilled over making a note.

Snow's fingers brushed through the dangling figurines, sending them swaying.

Her eyes danced with joy, gazing at the lovely gift.

He forced himself to continue writing. "I'm still considering it," he managed to say lightly. The imp knew. He remembered…

"Well," Rumplestiltskin said pleasantly, "when you make a decision, you know where my shop is."

"Indeed," he agreed shortly. Things had just gotten much more dangerous.

The lawyer Rumplestiltskin had hired to bail him out chose that moment to come in; bail was posted and the man was released.

The lawyer left almost immediately and Emma returned to her office after bidding their former prisoner a sardonic farewell. James was about to let out a sigh of relief when he realized that the shorter man wasn't in any hurry to leave, slowly sauntering over to his desk.

The prince sat back in his chair. "Is there something you need, Mr. Gold?"

Rumplestitskin gave a careless shrug. "I just wanted to say how nice it has been to see you recover so well from your coma and how you've dealt with your memory loss."

James' guard slammed up on high alert. "Thank you," he kept his tone neutral.

A small smile crossed the man's face, but his eyes gleamed with knowledge. "It's good to see a man go from a place in life so confused and lost to someone who knows himself…" his lips quirked into a smirk, "and who he is."

James knew something flashed across his face, but that small bit was all he was going to give the imp; he met the man's gaze levelly. "Thank you, Mr. Gold. I have worked hard to build the life that I have."

Oh, yes, the man was smirking quite broadly now. "Indeed you have…indeed you have."

Their eyes remained locked in stalemate, neither willing to show more of their hands than they had already.

"Well, until next time then…" Rumplestiltskin dipped his head in what James recognized as a mocking subtle bow.

"Until then." The prince kept his eyes on the man until he had disappeared from sight.

Things had definitely become infinitely more dangerous.


So, now Rumple knows that James remembers, and James knows that Rumple remembers…LOTS of fun to be had coming up there! XD I hope you guys enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing this chapter! The next chapter I'm a little less clear on how it's going to come out, but again will be…interesting… Thank you for reading! And please let me know that you think! :-D

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