I'm REALLY sorry guys for it taking so long now for updates! _ The muse wasn't particularly cooperative on this chapter for quite a while… I actually had a better idea of how the next chapter is going to go before I knew how this one was! Anyway. I hope you guys like it! :-D Thank you so much for all of the reviews, tweets, faves, likes and alerts; the encouragement you guys give me is was helps me keep writing and posting! :-D


James held the door to Granny's open for Mary, placing a guiding hand on the small of her back as he followed her inside. The low din that had been buzzing in the diner just before they entered silenced at their appearance.

Ruby scowled at the whole crowd before striding over to them determinedly. "Can I get drinks started for you guys?" She had an intentionally bright grin on her face, trying to make a point with the other customers.

The deputy gave her a small, grateful smile. "Two," he glanced at Mary to check and at her nod continued, "hot chocolates, please."

"Two hot cocoas with cinnamon coming right up," the waitress chirped before sashaying off to the kitchen.

Pointedly ignoring the rubberneckers, James again rested his hand on the small of his wife's back and led her over to their usual booth.

"I guess the town isn't quite over me being the harlot and home wrecker," she murmured jokingly to him.

He shook his head and muttered, "No, it's not you they're staring at." At her inquiring glance he continued, "It's the possibly homicidal ex-husband you're sitting next to."

Mary's eyes went wide as saucers. "No!" she cried, but then lowered her voice again. "They can't possibly believe that!"

Squeezing her hand in affectionate gratitude at her absolute faith that he'd never hurt Kathryn/Abigail, James cast her a wry grin. "Perhaps, but it makes for interesting gossip, especially in such a small town."

Her fingers tangled with his. "Well, we can be the village outcasts together," she quietly joked.

Grinning, he lifted their clasped hands to kiss the back of hers. "I kinda like that idea."

"Here we are." They both looked up as Ruby placed their drinks in front of them, thanking her for more than just the cocoas. Their friend took down their dinner orders and headed off to put it in with the cook.

"Has Emma said anything about Kathryn's disappearance?" Mary's eyes shone with concern, both for him and the missing woman.

James smoothed his thumb over her knuckles, shaking his head. "No. She's still missing, but Emma has to keep me pretty much out of the loop beyond that."

She bit her lower lip so hard that he worried she'd hurt herself, so he reached over and ran his thumb just below her lip. "Careful," he gently warned.

Her eyes turned to him in surprised confusion.

He tapped her lower lip with his finger, now that it had been released from her teeth. "Bite your lip much harder and it'll bleed," he explained teasingly, but concern colored his tone.

With a small smile Mary leaned in and kissed him softly. "I'm just worried about Kathryn."

James brushed his fingers across her furrowed brow and then draped his arm along her shoulders. "I know." He pressed his lips to her temple. "And I love you all the more for it."

His eyes cut to the rest of the room where people kept shooting dark looks in his direction before leaning closer to whisper; he rolled his eyes. "I'm just wondering when people are going to start demanding I either resign or that Emma fire me."

"They can't do that, can they?" Concern creased her forehead.

He shrugged. "My position is by appointment of the sheriff; I'm not elected. They, or Regina, can basically put me and/or Emma in a position where there is little to no other choice."

Mary Margaret's fingers tightened around his, her eyes focused on the table top. "I know she feels threatened by Emma but I just don't understand why she seems to hate you and me so much, even before everything with Kathryn…"

Blue eyes stared out the window over her head, jaw tight.

"She blames me for ruining her life."

"Did you?"


Snow's tone had been so resigned, a simple statement of fact, without excuses; complete acceptance of the blame. She had accepted her stepmother's loss of her true love as her fault, taking an adult's weight of blame for the actions of an innocent child, who only wanted to help a woman she loved and looked up to.

"Some people just need someone to hate." His voice was low, consciously keeping the fury out of his tone.

Her head came to rest against his shoulder. "That's so sad." Compassion colored her soft words.

A small smile curled his lips. Of course that would be her view of it. "Yes, it is."

Ruby glided over to their table, setting their plates down in front of them, accepting their "thank yous" with a grin before striding over to August Booth's table.

The couple kept their heads bent close together, speaking quietly and laughing over their meals and, in spite of all the glaring onlookers, enjoying their date.

"You know…" Mary was biting her lip again when James turned his gaze to her; her eyes cut to his a bit shyly. "I've been thinking about how…how ridiculous it is for you to still be living at Granny's when you haven't slept here in weeks."

His heart leapt, however James managed to keep most of the eagerness out of his expression, but his eyes still shone with anticipation and love. "You're right… What do you suggest?"

Emboldened by his expression, his wife grinned at him. "I was thinking you could move in with me."

He reached for her hand on the table, knotting their fingers together. "I would like that more than anything. But will Emma be all right with that?"

Mary laughed softly. "I asked her a couple of days ago and her input was, 'He spends enough time here that he probably should be paying rent anyway.'" Humor glittered in her eyes, expression telling James that his daughter had given the answer in her usual sardonic way.

He played gently with her fingers. "I'm more worried about how she'll feel because of my involvement with Kathryn's case."

A grin spread across her face. "I believe she called it 'the separation of work and home' or something to that effect." Her thumb ran over the back of his hand. "She's all right with it."

"Well," he lifted their joined hands to kiss hers, "I guess I'll start moving my things tomorrow."

Her fingers tightened around James', smile even brighter. "Good."

"I quit!"

Both of their heads whipped around at Ruby's shout, looking up just in time to see her toss aside her apron before storming out the door and slamming it behind her. Their eyes went to Granny who stood behind the counter, hands planted on her hips, glaring at the door through which her granddaughter had just left, though James knew her well enough to detect the pain underneath her frustration.

Mary's eyes turned back to him, wide with shock. "What on Earth was that about?"

A concerned frown creased his face. "I'm not sure."

They were both very curious about Ruby's abrupt exit and declaration, but also equally aware of Granny's veiled pain and considerate enough to say nothing when they paid the bill.

They bumped into Emma just outside the Sheriff's office about to head home.

"Hey." She grinned at them, stuffing her keys in her coat pocket.

They greeted her warmly in return.

Their daughter had her hands buried in her pockets to keep warm. "Heading to the apartment?"

"Yes, want to join us?" Mary smiled brightly at her roommate.

Emma shrugged as she fell in step with them. "As long as you two don't mind."

"You mean as long as we don't get too couple-y," James countered, grinning.

The blonde threw him a droll look. "You said it, not me."

He chuckled softly.

"So has Mary told you she wants you to move in and live in sin with her?" his daughter inquired amusedly.

"Emma!" The teacher looked torn between laughing and blushing a red that would likely rival a tomato.

James gave Emma a look, just barely restraining himself from correcting her about how they wouldn't be living in sin; she just cocked an unrepentant eyebrow. "Yes, she did and I agreed."


Mary's call drew the attention of the fair-headed pair.

The waitress was waiting at the bus stop and at the moment being likely propositioned by the town letch, Dr. Whale. They both turned at the trio's approach, Ruby amusedly and Whale looking like a kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar. At Mary and Emma's pointed, level looks and James' sharp glare–he didn't want that man anywhere near any woman, much less one he cared about–he mumbled some lame excuse and scurried off.

"Was he bothering you?"

James was proud of the protective note in his daughter's voice.

"Nah." Ruby shrugged off the incident carelessly. "The day I can't handle a letch is the day I leave town…which this is, I guess." She kept her tone light but with the last five words tears had begun to gather in her eyes and a strain entered her voice.

Fear caught the prince's breath in his chest.

"You're leaving?" Mary was in shock.

"I had a fight with Granny," the younger woman almost managed to sound as glib as she wanted to. "Quit my job."

"We heard," James stated carefully as he and Mary glanced at each other.

"We weren't sure though…" his wife's voice trailed off.

"That I meant it?" Ruby supplied. "Yeah, I did." Her voice wasn't nearly as resolute as she wanted it to be.

The teacher's eyes lit with curiosity and interest. "Where you going?"

It took a couple of tries before the former waitress admitted, "I don't know… Away."

James swallowed back his worry and pointed out reasonably, "Well, buses out of town don't really happen."

Emma nodded in agreement as she gently but frankly recommended, "Yeah, you might want a destination first."

Ruby was truly at a loss, realizing they were right.

Mary couldn't stand seeing someone hurting and so lost so she did what she did best. She reached out.

"Hey, it you need a place to figure things out, you could always come home with us," she quickly offered.

The prince wasn't sure how he managed to hold back a laugh at the look Emma gave her mother and the one Mary gave her in return, making it clear that this wasn't up for debate.

"Y-y-yeah," the sheriff stammered in agreement at her roommate's expression. "Just for a little while."

The teacher stepped forward taking the other dark-haired woman's hand and saying, "Come on," as she began leading Ruby toward their apartment.

Emma cast a glare at her deputy. "Don't even."

He held his hands up in mock surrender, smirking. "I said nothing."

"You were thinking it."

When they arrived at home–how good it felt to James to be able to finally claim this place officially as home–Mary set about gathering spare pillows and blankets. "John, there should be a cot in the closet upstairs, could you bring it down?" The wording of it as a question was a mere polite formality, her tone clearly telling him to retrieve the cot.

He hid a grin at seeing his take-charge wife make an appearance this evening. "Right away."

Emma helped their guest haul her luggage over to the sitting area where Mary was indicating they'd be setting up.

"I'm sorry we don't have a spare bed right now," the teacher apologized, shifting a chair aside to make room.

"No, this is great," their friend assured her, lending her own hands to help her two hosts rearrange the furniture.


All of their heads lifted at the call from the upstairs.

"Yeah?" the blonde shouted to her deputy.

"Could you come give me a hand getting this down the stairs?" he asked.

Emma promptly straightened from pushing the couch and made her way to the stairs. "Coming!"

"I can't thank you enough for letting me stay here," Ruby told the teacher, the uncharacteristic vulnerability that had been in her eyes since they met her at the bus stop naked on her face.

Mary smiled at her, reaching over to squeeze her hand comfortingly. "We're happy to have you."

Her friend nodded, still forcing a smile. The teacher knew the younger woman needed to talk, but this wasn't the time for it. Ruby wasn't ready. So instead of pushing or questioning, Mary briefly tightened her fingers again in a gesture to try and convey that she was there.

A loud clatter on the stairs had them turning.

"Jeez, Mare!" One of Emma's heels was visible on the stairs from their position. "Whadja do? Buy the most cumbersome cot in existence?"

The two dark-haired women moved so that they stood at the foot of the stairs and could now see the sheriff and deputy struggling to maneuver the ungainly and uncooperative cot down the stairs.

"I'm sorry," she apologized, wincing as she watched their struggles. "I forgot how difficult that thing can be."

"Hey, Emma," James got her attention, "try tilting it a little to the left, I think that'll help."

"Your left or mine?"


After a few minutes more of grunts, shuffling, and a few half stifled curses–Emma's hand got wedged at one point between the side of the cot and the railing, and James banged his bad shoulder on one of the support beams–the temporary bed was finally set in the sitting area. After another apology to both her roommate and her lover Mary began arranging the sheets, blankets and pillows on the cot.

Emma blew a blond lock out of her face, using the back of her hand to brush it behind her ear as she headed to the kitchen to raid the fridge for dinner. "Have you eaten, Ruby?"

"Umm, no," she admitted.

"We have some leftover chicken parm, if you're interested." The sheriff's head reappeared from the fridge, aforementioned dish in hand.

"If it's not too much trouble." The waitress moved over to the island to help in dishing out portions for both of them.

"Emma," Mary called from where she was fluffing one of the pillows, "while you're over there could you get John an icepack for his shoulder?"

James cast a sheepish grin at his wife, who had obviously noticed the wince he'd tried to hide when he rotated his shoulder, and was now giving him a pointed look.

His daughter was smirking at him broadly when she tossed the icepack to him.

He cocked an eyebrow at her. "Don't even," he quoted back to her.

"There," Mary announced upon finishing the temporary bed. "Will you be comfortable enough here, Ruby?"

"More than, Mary Margaret," the waitress assured her, helping Emma reheat the chicken parmesan. "Thank you so much again."

"It's a pleasure, Ruby," she promised her. "I'm going to head to bed; it's been a long day."

"I'll do the same," James spoke up, rising from the stool he'd settled on and following her.

"You're still keeping that ice on your shoulder for another twenty minutes," she firmly informed him, brooking no argument. "We don't need your shoulder swelling out of joint."

James cast a helpless grin over his shoulder at the other two women. Ruby snickered and Emma snorted.

"Yes, Ms. Blanchard," he mimicked her students, earning him a gentle swat to the chest.

Her feet carried her swiftly through the halls and down flights of stairs into the shadowy dungeon, eyes searching for him. For her Charming.

There. Through the bars, finally she saw him.

"Charming!" she cried out in happiness, a smile lighting her face.

He turned his head at her voice.

"Charming," she nearly laughed again, giddy with relief as she grabbed the keys.

"Snow." She didn't register how his voice was thick with longing and regret.

Her hands fumbled a bit as she struggled to unlock and open the door as quickly as possible; finally it swung free, breathtaking joy surging in her chest, more than ready to dive into her love's arms–

It all crashed down around her.

A mirror.

Her exultation shattered into utter anguish.

She swallowed hard, hand reaching momentarily to touch the wall to help reorient herself as the world momentarily tilted around her. "You're…" she began, breaking off before dragging her feet forward, hands reaching for the mirror's frame. "No," she breathed, needing to touch the object to prove to herself that it truly wasn't an illusion, crushing the last hope she had that maybe she was just seeing things because she was so overcome with relief…

"No!" She begged it not to be so, but she wasn't mistaken, her hands brushed along cold glass and rough wood, not her beloved Charming's warm flesh and strong heartbeat. "Oh, no!" Tears flooded her eyes, breath ragged with them.

His brilliant blue eyes were full of such pain and yearning, drinking in every inch of her, like he hadn't seen her in a lifetime, which was how it felt. "The queen took me to her palace," he explained forlornly.

"But I'm rescuing you…" she protested, half-sob, half-mirthless laugh.

He gave a short pained chuckle of his own. "Snow," he breathed, hand lifting to press against the glass, as if he could reach through it and touch her, aching to comfort her.

Her own palm rose to match his, so small in comparison; it was nowhere near enough, but it was all they had in this moment. "Is this always going to be our life?" she asked wearily. "Taking turns finding each other?" Why couldn't they just be together? Why wouldn't the world just let them be?

He gave another sad laugh, before telling her with absolute certainty, "We'll be together, I know it… Have faith," he pleaded.

She wanted to tell him that she was trying to, but it was becoming so hard.

Smoke swallowed him and an evil cackle echoed through the dungeon.

Mary gasped awake, the malicious laughter still ringing in her ears, heart hammering against her ribcage.

A deep breath and shift against her side drew her attention, eyes snapping to John's slightly troubled face. His arms tightened about her, in sleep pulling her closer while he buried his nose in her hair, breathing deeply again and with the slightest curl of his lips his hold loosened a bit, seemingly appeased of whatever had bothered him.

Mary continued to gaze up at his familiar features, feeling the pain still lingering in her chest soothed by his presence, scent and warm body pressed to hers. Satisfied that the dream had been only that, she nestled her head back into the hollow of his shoulder and turned her thoughts to the dream itself.

The…flashes, delusions…whatever they were had been happening more and more frequently and lately she'd begun to have dreams like this one. The ever-rational part of her mind kept insisting that it was mostly just due in part to Henry and his constant talk of fairy tales, that her subconscious mind was just twining them and reality together. But another part of her mind seemed to give that argument an almost visibly droll look as it asked her how long she was going to remain in such stubborn denial.

Her eyes squeezed shut, she wondered if she should see Archie about this crazy dichotomy of her thoughts, but Emma's cautioning voice reminded her of how Regina seemed to have the therapist under her thumb. Mary had no desire for the mayor to possibly hear that the fourth grade teacher–Henry's teacher–was not only seeking professional psychological help but also maybe developing some kind of psychosis, or at least that's what the devious woman would twist it to be.

She thought about talking to Emma, but while she knew she could trust her friend never to betray her confidence, she could also imagine the sheriff's almost pitying look.

Henry was too young and honestly would likely construe this as her "remembering" being Snow White.

The only person Mary believed she could tell without judgment, expectations or risk of exposure, the only person who would just listen, was John.

Sleep had begun tugging at her eyes again as they slowly lifted to his face, taking comfort in the soothing familiarity of him. She yawned widely, snuggling closer to him, a sleepy smile on her lips. Yes, she'd talk to John about this, out of everyone he'd probably understand best anyway after his coma and amnesia.

Snow kissing a teasing path up his chest drew James into the waking world. A grin curled his mouth as her lips made their way up his neck, along his jaw, pausing at the scar lingeringly, before settling over his own. His hands circled her waist; he sleepily moaned into the kiss. "Snow."

She stilled and pulled back slightly. "It's a little late in the year for snow."

He mentally cursed himself as every kind of idiot he knew as he was jolted fully awake. James carefully kept some lethargy in his voice, "Hmm?" He slowly opened his eyes, gazing at her questioningly.

There was a strange look in her eyes. "You said 'snow,' and it's rather late for there to be snow…"

He frowned thoughtfully–inwardly hating himself for deliberately misleading the woman he loved–hands running over her sides. "I think I was dreaming about Snow. That must be why I said that." He was treading very thin ice, technically not lying, but not really being truthful either, and gods did he hate it!

She gazed at him for several moments longer before a teasing smile slid across her face, pressing a kiss to his lips. "Well you're going to have to wait until next winter for more snow."

Goddess, he hoped not! "Hmm," he murmured into the kiss.

He quickly became distracted by her mouth moving to gently suck on the pulse point at his throat, mind quite happily deciding to let go of the slip for now and concentrate on getting his shirt off of her.

Mary was equally distracted by his stroking hands, but just before desire overtook her rational mind she filed away his saying "Snow" for examination…later.

Later that afternoon James was sitting at his desk, going over reports, mostly just noise complaints from older neighbors against teenagers and college-aged kids next-door who were having too noisy late night parties and a couple from the president of the garden society against a few dog owners saying that their pooches had been digging in her beds. He looked up when Ruby came through the door and grinned at her but then the corners of his lips turned down and his brow furrowed in concern. Ever since Emma had offered Ruby a job helping out around the station Ruby had perked up considerably and seemed more confident, but the frown and depression from the night before had returned.

The prince set down the folder in his hands and leaned forward as the young woman set the paper bag she was carrying down on a nearby desk. "Ruby, what's wrong?"

She forced a smile. "Nothing."

"No," he shook his head in firm, concerned emphasis, "that's not a 'nothing' face. You were so happy and excited just this morning, what's going on?"

Ruby's face crumpled with restrained tears as she leaned back against the desk, bracing her hands on the edge. "I can't be anything more than a waitress or a goffer."

James wasn't entirely sure why she'd call herself a little subterranean animal, but he also knew his wife's friend had a great many skills and hated hearing her speak of herself so.

"I can't do anything special," she continued dejectedly, "I don't have any great abilities, like Emma or Mary Margaret or you. I'm not even as imaginative as Henry."

"Ruby that is not true," he countered firmly. She opened her mouth to contradict him, but he held up a finger, forestalling her protests. "You have many abilities and gifts."

She eyed him skeptically.

"Remember how you protected Ashley when she ran from Gold? And with all the cruelty against Mary? And just last night how you stood up to all those people's suspicions of me in the diner? When you stood out in the freezing cold, scrubbing off the graffiti on Mary's car?" One corner of his mouth lifted in a half-grin. "You are more fiercely loyal than most people could ever hope to be. You're braver than most people in this town combined."

"Braver?" Her tone was doubtful, but he could hear a hopeful note to it.

James nodded. "Many people care too much what people think of them to ever go against the general populace, but you do it all the time for your friends. And that is brave." He could see that he was getting through to her bit by bit, so he pressed on. "You help people, make them happy, put them at ease." He waved a hand at the phone. "The way you deal with people on the phone, often knowing what is needed and offering the advice and help right then; in certain situations better than Emma or I would. And that helps and comforts people more than you know."

A smile had lifted her expression, the confidence that had deserted her returning.

"Don't let others tell you you're deficient, that you aren't capable," he told her firmly, "because you are more than able."

She nodded tentatively at first, but gradually with increased surety.

With a nod of his own, James moved back around the desk to sit once more. "You're strong, Ruby; a fighter. Always remember that." He bent his head back over the paperwork.

After a few moments of silence he heard a rustling of paper and then a to-go box was set down in front of him. He looked up at Ruby's smile.


He grinned back. "Any time."

"Thank you for the help with dinner, Ruby." Mary grinned at the younger woman over the chopping board where she was cutting up the vegetables for the stir-fry they'd decided to have.

The former waitress gave the teacher a wry grin where she was working on the chicken. "Well, can't exactly let these kitchen skills go to waste."

Mary shook her head. "No, those are good to have no matter what you do or where you go in life. Speaking of, how was your first day at the station?"

Ruby's hands momentarily stilled and she tilted her head thoughtfully before a smile slowly spread across her face. "Good. Different from the diner, but I think different is what I need right now."

The elder woman nodded. "Change is good, adding variety helps."

A sly grin spread across Ruby's face. "Change like having a certain deputy move in." She nudged the teacher's shoulder teasingly.

Pink tinged her friend's cheeks, a smile gracing her lips. "Maybe." She tried to downplay the happiness in her tone, but when her eyes cut to Ruby she found her hazel irises full of knowing, teasing mirth. Laughter was soon spilling from them both.

Just as they were managing to get control of themselves the door swung open to admit John and Emma hauling his luggage.

"Speak of the devil," Ruby muttered to her friend, sending both into mad giggles again.

James and Emma stared at the pair who were bent over nearly double with their mirth.

He turned to his daughter inquiringly. "This is one of those times I probably don't want to know, isn't it?"

She smirked, setting the sports bag on her shoulder down. "I think this might be one case where I don't want to know."

"Right." He eyed his wife and her best friend.

Mary managed to swallow back most of her laughter and compose herself enough to go over to him. "Sorry, we were just talking and you walked in in the middle of the conversation…" She trailed off, a slightly sheepish but also amused smile crossed her face, pink tingeing her cheeks at his intent gaze, her fingers moving to twist her ring. "I'll show you where to put your things." She picked up the bag Emma had set down and took the second she was carrying, leading James to her room.

He cast a grin at his daughter and their friend before following his wife into her–their, he thrilled at being able to truly call the room theirs–room.

Mary helped him arrange the few remaining belongings he had that hadn't already taken up residence in their home or at the station into their proper places or found a place for them. Watching their possessions become cluttered, mixed and twined together sent joy rushing through his veins. He was reminded of their wedding night and when they began sharing quarters, how they had done the same thing, letting their belongings mingle together. He'd missed that, her things alongside his, his with hers. Their lives intertwined. As they were meant to be.

"You'll need to bring your extra clothing from the station, patrol car and your truck as well," she informed him over her shoulder as she folded one of his thermals into a drawer.

James cocked an eyebrow at her. "I need to keep some spare clothing for when I have to stay too late or they get too dirty."

"One," she held a firm finger up, eyes gazing at him levelly, "set in the station and one in the truck."

His eyebrows rose at her no-argument tone. "I might need one or two more if I end up working more than a day."

She shook her head vigorously. "No, you will come home at least once a day no matter what to at least change clothes. Preferably to sleep and eat breakfast and dinner as well."

A broad grin grew across his face at her stubborn insistence, seeing so much of Snow in Mary, and remembering a similar conversation shortly after their marriage. He cupped her jaw, thumb caressing her cheek. "I promise. I'll do my very best to do that."

Her smile was radiant with a slightly teasing glint in her vibrant green eyes. "Good."

The bell rang for lunch; Mary called out to her students not to run, though an indulgent smile was plain on her face, which grew into a wide grin as her favorite student scampered up to her desk.

"Hey, Henry," she greeted.

"Hi, Ma-Ms. Blanchard." He was pretty good about not calling her by her first name around the other students, though he sometimes slipped up at school when it was just the two of them.

She was pulling out her lunch sack, preparing to set her food out on her desk. "Aren't you going to head out and eat with Nicholas and Ava?"

"Oh, yeah," he nodded his head vigorously, "but I wanted to ask you something first, if that's ok?"

"Of course it is," she assured her student with a grin.

Henry was nearly vibrating with repressed excitement, whatever it was Mary was quite intrigued. "Did John really move in with you and Emma?" It all came out in a rush.

Normally Mary might have turned a bright red at such a question, save for his utter innocence in asking it, not understanding the implications, probably simply thinking that such a thing boded well for "Operation Cobra." As it was the teacher just smiled at him quite happily. "Yes, he did. He'll be living with us now."

A blindingly bright grin spread across his face. "Awesome!" With that simple, single-word response he scurried out the door to catch up with his friends.

Mary shook her head amusedly at his boundless energy, enthusiasm and hopefulness. Such a remarkable and incredible child, she mused to herself, unwrapping her sandwich from the cellophane. She honestly couldn't imagine the world without him.

Henry was practically skipping as he ran up to Ava and Nicholas–he'd decided it was best not to start thinking of them as Hansel and Gretel until the curse was broken and they remembered so that he didn't slip up. Things were starting to go great with Operation Cobra! Prince Charming was now living with Snow White and Emma! They had to start remembering soon with them all living together! And Emma couldn't have any more doubts about the curse, and she could break it!

He talked excitedly with his two friends about The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, which he'd just begun. Ava, who was borrowing The Magician's Nephew looked even more eager to finish the book. Nicholas complained loudly about how long it was taking her to read it and how she needed to hurry up so that he could have it next.

The heads of teachers turned at the trio, still flummoxed at seeing the three most antisocial students laughing and chattering on together, even after all the months they'd been friends. With his teacher, biological mother and the deputy's influence Henry came out of his shell, and the twins blossomed living with their father, loved and cared for. Many changes had been wrought around town since Emma's arrival, not that they'd let the mayor hear them discussing it, but even with the hardships so much good had come over these months. They were all silently hoping that things would continue to improve as they had been doing so.

Sunlight sparkled over the blue and clear unicorns slowly turning in front of Mary's bedroom window over her bed where she'd hung it for the moment. Part of her felt silly, sitting there, feet curled under her, back against the footboard; staring at the mobile overhead absolutely riveted like a small child. But she couldn't help being utterly enchanted by it; what's more it felt so familiar and comforting.


She turned at John's voice behind her, a grin spreading across her face. "Hey!" Her eyes followed his movements as he walked toward her. "I didn't expect you home until later."

He shrugged, bending down to kiss her sweetly. "Aside from Kathryn's case there isn't much else going on in town, so I headed out early." His gaze turned to the mobile, a half smile quirking his lips as he settled on the bed beside her. "I'm glad you like the mobile."

Mary's eyes turned to it as she leaned into his side, head settling on his shoulder. "I do, it's beautiful."

James curved his arm around her shoulders, holding her closer still; they sat like that for several minutes watching the slowly fading light of the sun glisten off of the glass unicorns and beads.

Eventually Mary bit her lip, eyes turning to John, her fingers tracing nervous patterns across his chest. "John."

"Hmm?" He looked down at her.

She was focusing on her fingers which were plucking at one of the buttons on his shirt. "When you gave me that mobile you said that…you weren't going to deny what you hoped for someday…" Her green irises slowly lifted to his blue ones. "You really want children eventually?"

James grinned broadly. "Oh, yeah," he assured her, nodding. "With you, dozens."

Mary gave a half choked laugh. "I don't think I can do 'dozens.'"

"Hmm," his face dropped in faux disappointment. "Well, I suppose two or three would do."

His wife laughed into his chest. "Two or three I could do." She snuggled further into his side, arm wrapping around his middle.

"Sounds like a plan," he murmured into her hair, his free hand coming up to gently run up and down her upper arm.

There was barely enough light left from the setting sun to reach the glass ornament.

"I should probably get dinner started," Mary sighed, reluctant to leave John's warm, comfortable embrace.

"Want a hand?"

Her head tilted back to grin up at him. "Yes, I'm sure I have some vegetables for you to put together in a salad," she teased.

"Hey," he raised a finger, voice thick with mock offense, "I make a mean salad!"

Mary giggled at him, kissing him swiftly before forcing herself from the bed and dragging him by the hand behind her.

Dinner was actually fairly simple, cod that Mary cooked in lemon and dill, zucchini and squash that she let John steam.

While he was setting the table, she watched him, debating for a moment going through with telling him about her dreams and visions right then. Her fingers twisted her ring. "John?"

"Hmm?" His head lifted, blue eyes going to her.

Just as she opened her mouth to tell him the door opened; Mary snapped her mouth closed again.

James' eyebrows rose at his daughter's pale face and strained expression as she entered their home. She closed the door but made no move to approach them. She was distancing herself from them both physically and emotionally.

"Emma, what's wrong?"

At John's question Mary noticed how tense her roommate was and her obvious discomfort; the teacher's brow furrowed with worry. "Emma?"

Emma was forcing her hands to remain at her sides and not to fidget. "Some kids were hanging out by the river and they found something."

James took several steps closer to his wife and daughter. "What was it?"

Without her permission Emma's hands rose to clasp in front of her, fingers knotted tightly with nerves. "It was a box…with a human heart inside."

"Oh my…" Mary's voice trailed off as her legs gave out; thankfully there was a stool behind her, keeping her from hitting the floor.

James was standing behind her and rested a steadying hand on her shoulder, keeping her from possibly toppling off the seat. He swallowed thickly. "Kathryn?"

The blonde's lips pressed into a thin line. "I'm still waiting on the DNA test results, but there aren't any other missing persons…"

Mary's fingertips were pressed to her mouth, trying to restrain the cry that wanted to erupt from her.

"That's not all," their daughter continued, hands twisting together.

Their gazes were on her, both feeling a deep chill running through them.

Emma took a deep breath, bracing herself to tell the worse news. "There was a fingerprint inside the lid."

Mary's hand darted up to grip James' on her shoulder. "Emma–" she began in protest.

"It's yours, Mary Margaret," the sheriff quickly continued, pain obvious on her expression.

The dark-haired woman's jaw dropped open, eyes wide in absolute shock.

James felt his world drop out from under him, realizing where this was going, his fingers tightening convulsively around his wife's, as if that could ward off what was to come.

"Mary," Emma swallowed hard, "I have to arrest you."

Well, there you have it! Mary has been framed for Kathryn's "murder"! Ah! But what do I have up my sleeve ahead? ;-} There will be twists my dearies! I promise you that! James remembering will change things somewhat at LEAST! And I'm quite excited for what's ahead for our friends! Thank you so much for reading! :-D Please let me know what you think!

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