I'm sorry that the update took a while, at first the muse wasn't very cooperative then my grandfather passed away on the first of last month, so inspiration wasn't forthcoming for a while. Then a week or so ago the muse wouldn't shut up. XD Thank you everyone for your support! :-D Well, here is the chapter!

I dedicate this chapter to my grandfather, a wonderful, loving man whom I miss but can remember with a smile and often a laugh. I love you and miss you, Bopa! :-) Thank you, Lord, for the 28 years 8 months and 14 days I got to have with him!

To my wonderful beta, formerly Sassy1988, SassySnow1988 (you need to go over and read her stories and check out her tumblr! XD) thank you for sticking with me through the fretting, the crying, the laughing, the insanity! You absolutely ROCK, dartie!



When James blinked his eyes open it was only to immediately shut them again at the piercing pain from the light pouring in through the station's windows.


He managed to squint in the direction of his wife's voice. "Sssss…Mary?"

Relief flooded her face. "We were getting worried. We've been wondering when you'd wake up."

James groaned, pressing the heel of his palm to his forehead. "What the hell happened? I feel like someone's using my head as a drum."

"Drug hangovers can be a real bitch." Emma's half-sardonic, half-sympathetic voice drew his attention.

"Drug hangover?"

"The medication they gave you at the hospital for your concussion," Mary elaborated from her spot gripping the bars between their cells. "You had an unexpected reaction to it."

Their daughter snorted as she approached James' cell. "Or Whale just messed up on the dosing and was trying to cover his ass." She handed him a glass of water, holding out two small white pills in her hand.

He eyed them warily before meeting her gaze.

"Just some Tylenol for your headache," the blonde assured him.

With a thank you, he popped the pills into his mouth and gratefully downed the entire glass, only realizing just how parched he was once the liquid touched his lips.

Stepping back from the cell, she crossed her arms. "You were flying higher than a kite most of yesterday and last night. Do you remember?"

James scrubbed a hand across his face as he moved to his wife's side and took one of her hands, needing her touch to ground himself. "No…not really…" he answered honestly.

Mary slipped her free hand between the bars to run her fingers through his cropped hair. "What do you remember?"

A thoughtful frown crossed his expression. "We came back here from the hospital and found out my fingerprints were the ones on the knife…" He took a deep breath, trying to reorder his thoughts. "Then G–the DA showed up… Things start getting fuzzy around then…" His brow furrowed with the effort of digging into his memory through the lingering haze of the drugs. "I think I remember…Gold," he had to stop himself from calling him Rumplestiltskin, "showing up but it gets really blurry at that point."

Emma nodded, hands now on her hips, thumb running over the badge on her belt, a subtle nervous habit she'd developed since joining the Sheriff's Department. "That's when you started to act drugged-up."

A frission of fear shot through James. "What'd I say?" It was a struggle to keep the worry out of his voice. Gods, what had he revealed?!

"Mostly nonsense, stuff about dragons. You called Mr. Gold 'Rumply' for some reason." Loving amusement filled Mary's face. "You were also very flirtatious and concerned for me. It was rather sweet."

He grinned, hiding his relief. "Good, I've never been high before, at least as far as I remember, so I didn't know what I would be like."

Emma cleared her throat, moving over to James' desk. "I'll call the hospital and have them send someone to check you over."

James frowned. "Can you try to get someone other than Whale?"

"We'll see who's available." She kept her attention on the phone and the number she was dialing. "Your breakfast is at the foot of your bed."

He turned to see a bag and to-go cup of coffee–presumably from Granny's–sitting where she'd indicated. His stomach gave a pointedly loud growl, drawing a laugh from Mary.

"You haven't really had a meal in almost 24 hours. You hardly paid any attention to lunch and were passed completely out by dinner," she explained as he sat down on the cot and opened the bag.

James gave her a grin. "That certainly explains why I'm starving." He took several ravenous bites of the breakfast sandwich he found inside before his stomach's complaining quieted a bit and he turned his attention to the coffee. Just the scent wafting from the cup focused his attention on the cobwebs clouding his mind. He took a few long sips, despising the muddled feel of his thoughts and wanting to clear them as quickly as possible.

Emma replaced the receiver in the cradle. "Whale will be over here in about an hour." She smirked at James' groan. "If it's any consolation he didn't sound any more thrilled about it than you."

"It's really not," he informed her sourly.

This drew a round of chuckles from both women, though after a moment Emma suddenly looked uncomfortable and cleared her throat. "Well, he's going to be here soon, so…you probably want to finish eating and get changed." She briskly retreated to her office, closing the door firmly behind her.

James turned to his wife, bewildered by their daughter's sudden change of attitude.

Mary shrugged, hands raised helplessly. "She's been acting a little strangely all morning. Maybe it's everything that's happened the last few days, she's probably overwhelmed."

His gaze returned to Emma, watching through the window as she sat down at her desk and opened a file. What had changed while he'd been out of it?


James was sick to death of the questioning. Over an hour of the same round and roundabout inquiries, asking and re-asking the same things over and over. With certain questions he had to be careful in his answers, refusing to lie, but also unable to tell the truth, or at least not all of it. Emma would know if he was lying and he refused to damage her trust in him with an outright lie, but he needed to protect Mary all the same.

"I'll ask one more time," George-Spencer snapped. "How did your fingerprints end up on the knife?"

The former shepherd glared back at the man who'd forced him to live a lie. "I told you, I couldn't say how they got on there. I never hurt Kathryn, and neither did Mary! And I'm tired of these questions. I want a lawyer."

Spencer pressed his lips into a frustrated line, slamming the file in front of him closed and standing as the door to the interrogation room opened to reveal Emma and Rumplestiltskin.

"District Attorney Spencer," 'Stiltskin began with exaggerated patience. "What little so-called evidence you have against my client is circumstantial now at best. The box the heart was found in Miss Blanchard has already stated was her own, kept in her apartment, a space Mr. Nolan had full access to. The place the heart was found, they have both stated meant equally as much to the both of them. The alleged murder weapon doesn't have my client's fingerprints on it, it has Mr. Nolan's, and the only thing tying it to my client is that it was found in the heating vent in her room, which again Mr. Nolan had full access to. The most you could possibly charge my client with is conspiracy…if you could even get that to stick." The imp's pointed tone made it loud and clear just how likely a prospect that was.

The DA audibly ground his teeth.

In a more "reasonable" voice the wily lawyer continued, "Now, you could try to continue this prosecution of my client, but I assure you that I will have your current case thrown out in no time. On the other hand…you could drop those charges and work on building a different case against Miss Blanchard then refile at a later date…and I would make sure it was a very good case."

If it wouldn't be such disastrous timing James would have dearly loved to burst out laughing at the shades of red George-dammit-Spencer's face went through and how close the man looked to exploding.

"Fine!" the DA snarled. "The charges against Miss Blanchard are dropped."

The tension that'd resided in James for days finally eased, relief visible on his face.

"Sheriff," now Spencer turned his attention to the erstwhile deputy, "finish booking Mr. Nolan for the murder of Kathryn Nolan."

James allowed his head to lower, accepting this easily with the knowledge that Mary would be free.

It took a couple of moments before Emma could force herself to move to his side. "John…"

He immediately stood up, allowing her to lead him by the arm out of the interrogation room and back into the main office space.

Mary was standing at the bars of her cell, watching in horror as her best friend assured her lover that she would get him a good lawyer and locked him in the neighboring cell. "Emma!" she gasped.

The blonde turned a reluctant, sad gaze to the dark-haired woman. "John's been formally charged, Mare." She locked the door, then moved to Mary's. "And the ones against you have been dropped."

"No!" the teacher cried out in protest, face suddenly very pale. "John would never hurt Kathryn!" The instant her door was open she rushed to James', taking his hands through the bars. "John!"

He gathered both of her hands into one of his, the other rising to cup her cheek; the two of them oblivious to Emma's dealing with Spencer and Gold. "It's ok, Mary."

"No, it's not!" Tears flowed freely down her cheeks. "You didn't do this!"

"No, I didn't," James agreed, one corner of his mouth lifted. "And the people most important to me know that. You know that. And now they know you're innocent; you're free." He stroked his thumb over her skin. "And all of that…that's what really matters to me."

"John." Mary's voice quavered over his name. Then she yanked one of her hands free of his, wrapped it around the back of his neck and pulled his head down to hers, smashing their lips together in a fierce, desperate kiss that shook James through to his soul.

Snow… Her name was a gasp in his mind as he kissed her back as thoroughly and possessively as she was him. Gods, she hadn't kissed him like this since…

The rational part of his mind caught up with what he'd been thinking, completing the trailed off thought. She hadn't kissed him like this since she'd been truly his wife, his Snow. Mary Margaret never kissed him this way.

As hard as it was, he managed to pull his mouth away from hers, intentionally blocking out the loud protests from George in the background and Emma's equally stubborn refusals. His blue eyes gazed down at his beloved.

She audibly protested him ending the kiss, hand insistently pulling his head back down to her and when he only gave a little she rose on her toes to meet him the rest of the way. For several long moments neither could think of anything except for each other, and certainly didn't want to.

"Charming," she quietly gasped between kisses.

It was an unsurprisingly long time before it registered with James that Mary shouldn't be calling him that. When he lifted his head this time Mary permitted it, though her displeasure over ending the connection was obvious.

"What?" James was struggling to stifle the burgeoning hope that wanted to reveal itself in his expression.

Green eyes blinked at him dazedly. "What?" she returned.

"What did you just say?" he asked raggedly, gaze searching hers desperately.

She frowned thoughtfully. "I-I'm not sure…" Her expression became worried. "Did I say something wrong?"

He grinned at her crookedly, cradling her face between his palms. "No. Not at all. I just…" he shook his head, forcing himself not to grin as wide as he wanted to. "I just didn't quite hear what you said." He kissed her softly, the passion of only moments before cooled into a sweet, loving comfort. "I love you. Just always remember that."

As if suddenly once again noticing the bars between them Mary's face fell and tears filled her eyes. "I love you too." Her pale fingers wrapped around one of the bars. "This is so wrong."

"Don't worry, darling." James pressed a kiss to her forehead. "Things will work out." He met her gaze again. "Have faith."

Something flashed in her eyes, something oh-so-achingly familiar to James. Then confusion and fear intruded. "John…" Her emotional turmoil over what had to be a frightening feeling of duality was raw in her voice.

"Mary." His eyes bore into hers. "It's all going to be all right." The backs of his fingers trailed down her cheek. "We'll figure everything out. I promise."

She clung to his hands desperately. "I hate this…"

Hate wasn't a word he was used to hearing from either Snow or Mary Margaret, it just wasn't in their nature to hate something or someone so much–as evidenced by Snow's need to try to find redemption and forgiveness for her stepmother over and over again. That just showed him even more how distraught and overwrought she was from everything that had happened in the last few weeks and all that they were still going through.

As much as he could he pulled her into his arms, holding her while her own arms wrapped around him in a vise grip as if she was drowning and he were her only lifeline.

"We'll fight this and win," he whispered into her ear. "And then I'll come home and we'll put things back together again."

"Mary Margaret." Emma was standing behind her and looking everywhere but at them. She'd managed to get rid of the two lawyers at some point and was the only other person in the room. "Mary, I have to properly book John. I called Ruby, she's already outside waiting for you… You need to go home."

The dark-haired woman's fingers tightened on his shoulders.

"It's gonna be ok," James murmured again.

Oh-so-reluctantly she released her grip, kissing him once more before stepping back, still gripping one of his hands in hers. "I'll get a few more of your things, and I'll bring you dinner."

He gave her a half-smile. "It's a date," he gently joked, drawing the weakest of smiles from his love before she allowed their daughter to direct her out of the station.


The drive with Ruby was silent, the waitress either unsure of what to say or understanding Mary's need to just be left with her thoughts for the moment. The raven-haired woman leaned against the door of the scarlet Camaro, arms wrapped tightly around her middle, staring out the window sightlessly. She didn't even notice when the car stopped.

"Mary," Ruby's voice was uncharacteristically soft and tender as she lay a hand on Mary's shoulder.

The teacher startled out of her gloom, turning to her young friend.

"We're home."

Mary turned back to her window, actually looking this time, and sure enough, they were sitting in front of Mary, John and Emma's apartment building. Slowly she unfolded from the near-ball she'd drawn herself into. "Thank you, Ruby," she murmured, pushing the car door open.

Ruby was already out and grabbing her bag from the backseat when Mary closed her door. She thanked the younger woman again, holding her hand out for her bag only to have it pulled out of reach. Her eyes went questioningly to her friend.

"I'll help you upstairs." Ruby began striding up to the building.

"That's not really necessary," Mary protested, having to walk faster to keep up with Ruby's long strides.

At the apartment door, Ruby turned to her, free hand on her cocked hip. "Look, Emma told me to stay with you. She doesn't think you should be alone right now."

Mary's face went bright red. "I can take care of myself." A spike of shock went through her. Where had that come from? She'd never say something like that. She'd just accept it and go with what people wanted for her…

Ruby seemed to not even notice her shock, just continuing, "Well, I happen to agree with Emma–so does Granny by the way–and I have the rest of the day off. So," she took Mary's keys from her hand and jammed them into the lock, "you're just going to have to deal with having me around." She held the door open for Mary before following her inside.

It was unnerving how quiet the apartment was and how empty it felt. Mary's gaze scanned the space, inwardly wondering how she'd lived here alone for so long. She hated the silence, longing for the warmth and noise Emma and John had brought to her home and life. She wanted her family home and whole.

Suddenly her fears, worry and the nightmare she'd been living in for the last few days crashed down on her, overwhelming her anew with the thought that she might lose John forever. She bolted for the bathroom, hand clamped over her mouth. She lost what remained of her breakfast in the toilet, vaguely registering Ruby's hand rubbing her back.

After what seemed almost an eternity Mary's stomach finally stopped heaving and she sat back against the wall. Ruby gently pressed a hand towel into her palm, prompting a weak "thank you" from the teacher. She wiped her mouth, accepting the glass of water her friend handed her; with Ruby's help she stood and rinsed her mouth out, spitting the mouthful into the sink. Then she sank back to the floor, still waiting for the trembling in her body to abate. Ruby hadn't said anything beyond quiet words of encouragement, just silently flushing the toilet, placing the soiled towel in the hamper and then sitting down next to her.

They sat there together for long moments, the only sound Mary's still somewhat labored breathing and quiet sips from the glass.

"Have you been getting sick a lot lately?"

Mary turned at her friend's inquiry. "No...just a couple of times over the last few days. It's been very stressful."

Ruby watched her index finger tracing the wolf ring on her other hand. "Is that all that it is?"

A confused frown crossed the teacher's face. "What do you mean?"

Hazel eyes lifted to meet green. "Maybe there's another reason for you throwing up."

Mary started to shake her head and was about to say she still didn't understand when it dawned on her what Ruby was getting at. Immediately she shut down. "No." Her head shook in vehement denial.

Ruby raised her hands in a placating gesture. "I'm just asking. You and John certainly haven't been celibate."

"I've been on birth control," she quickly countered, her breath again becoming more labored.

Ruby, sensing Mary's encroaching panic, placed a comforting hand on her arm. "It's ok, I was just worried and felt I should ask." Mary had too much on her plate already, Ruby realized, she couldn't handle anything more at the moment, even if pregnancy was a possibility, which the waitress had a sneaking suspicion it was given Mary's strong reaction.

After waiting a few moments longer Ruby stood. "Let's get you cleaned up and something in your stomach." She reached down, helping Mary to stand. "Emma said you haven't had lunch."

Mary shook her head as she moved to the sink and pulled out her toothbrush and toothpaste. "No, I haven't."

"Brush your teeth and take a shower." Ruby moved to the door. "I'll bring your bathrobe and then make you something to eat." She shut the door behind her.

The teacher applied what was more than her usual amount of focus into squeezing the toothpaste onto her toothbrush. She was grateful for Ruby's briskness, for her taking charge when she felt so adrift and unsure at the moment. There was a small part of her that chafed under her friend's highhandedness, but it was easily ignored and honestly she needed some direction until she got her bearings again.

Brushing her teeth and the shower did wonders to refresh her, though her heart was still raw, at least she felt less adrift and more clearheaded. Wrapping her robe around her, she wiped the steam from the mirror; the green eyes that met her gaze frightened her. Over the last few months the look in her eyes, the spirit behind them had changed, she hardly recognized the woman in them anymore…but at the same time…she was familiar. Like a long lost friend. The changes in herself, the visions or hallucinations and dreams, and the increasing feeling almost like she was two people had been disconcerting enough, but Kathryn's murder and everything that had happened in the investigation had yanked the rug out from under her already unsteady feet.

She turned away from the mirror, using the towel to help dry her cropped hair, ignoring the thought that floated through her mind that short hair was certainly easier to manage and faster to dry than long, unruly curls, that was accompanied by a contrary pang of longing for that feature. Mary purposefully refocused her mind on the one thing in her life that she could control at the moment, doing what she could to be there for John and bringing him more of his things and food.

One step at a time, she told herself as she stepped out of the bathroom, steam billowing out after her. First, they needed to prove John was innocent and get him home. Then they would figure out what was happening to her…together.


Later, Ruby dropped Mary off at the station to have dinner with John. It really broke her heart, the hell her two friends were being put through, and that, for now at least, eating their respective meals on opposite sides of prison bars constituted having dinner together. Unfortunately there was nothing she could really do to remedy that situation right now aside from being there for her friends.

But there was a small way she could help on another front. Thus why she had dropped Mary off with a promise to return later to pick her up. She spun the key in the lock for her friends' apartment, doing her best to ignore the unsettling silence. She made an immediate beeline for Mary and John's bedroom, feeling too much like an intruder in this home to want to stay long on her own.

Once in the room Ruby opened a few drawers until she found Mary's underwear drawer, then she reached into the plastic shopping bag and pulled out the single item inside. The young woman stared at the small box in her hand for a moment before tucking it discreetly among Mary's clothing.

It was there, Ruby thought as she closed the drawer, when Mary was ready.


James was lying on his back, hand behind his head, absorbed in the Battle of Helms Deep while Emma gathered her belongings for the night. Mary had been all-too-right when she said he would enjoy J. R. R. Tolkien's works, and not just for the masterful storytelling, but also because it was a world he could honestly relate to better than this one.

"Is there anything else you need before I leave?"

He glanced up at his daughter's question and have her a grin. "The key to the door and a head start?"

His attempt at a joke earned him a strained smile.

James gave her as reassuring a look as he could. "I'm fine, Emma. Thanks. Go home and get some sleep." He turned back to his book, one again sucked into the mythical land of Middle Earth.

It was silent for several moments, then Emma asked, "Is there anything in particular you want for breakfast, James?"

He didn't even glance up as he responded, "No, whatever you choose will be great."


Her odd tone and emphasis on his name gave him pause while his preoccupied mind tried to figure out why alarm bells were sounding in his head. Then it caught up to him. She hadn't used his Storybrooke name, she'd used his name from the Enchanted Forest. He set the novel down beside him, remaining otherwise still on his back, staring up at the ceiling, not yet prepared to face his only child. "Where did you hear that name?"

He heard the creaking of her leather jacket, the shifting of fabric and scuffing of shoes against the floor, and could vividly see in his mind his daughter shifting as she habitually did, without even looking. Walls up, on high guard.

"Last night, one of the times I had to wake you up. You were more coherent but still really out of it." There was a pause, he could just imagine her tapping a nervous finger against her badge. "You talked about how beautiful Mary is, and how beautiful she was when you married her both times, something about the first time being for your dying mother and the second for the kingdom."

She seemed to be waiting for a response but James wasn't ready yet, mind still whirling.

"You said I shouldn't call you John, but James...and that my mother called you Charming..."

He mentally cursed himself for every kind of idiot he knew.

The air was thick enough that James felt like if he tried to stand up it would be like wading through cement.

Finally he forced himself into a sitting position, hands loosely linked between his knees and staring at the wall across from him, unable to meet Emma's gaze. "There are a few possibilities here... First off, Henry has been right all along and we're fairy tales cursed into this land. Second, and one I don't favor, I'm delusional. Third...I was simply tripping out."

After giving her a few moments to absorb what he just suggested, James turned to meet her wary gaze. "So which do you want to go with? Take a leap of faith that I don't think you're ready for? Have me committed to the psych-ward, which I don't think any of us really wants? Our just chalk it up to drug-induced delusions and let things be for now?"

Emma's hands opened and closed conclusively at her sides, seeming to want to look away from his steady stare, but unable to do so.

"Regardless of what you decide to believe, I will tell you that no one and nothing matters more to me than you, Mary and Henry. And I would do anything to protect you all."

Innumerable tense moments passed before Emma finally tore her eyes from his to stare at the floor. "I'll see you in the morning, John."

James sadly watched his daughter's hasty retreat, wishing desperately that she was ready to accept the truth, but knowing it was going to take time. And when it came to his family, Charming had all the time and patience in the world.


Rumplestiltskin looked up as the door to his store banged open and then slammed shut. "Well, Your Majesty…should I move things around? Make a bit of space for your rage?"

Regina stormed up to the counter where he was standing. "How the hell did David Nolan's prints get on that knife?!"

He didn't even bat an eye when her hands slammed down on the counter hard enough to rattle the surface, and just met the fury spitting from her eyes with a lazy amusement. "Well, how should I know, dearie? He hasn't been able to explain it and I surely wouldn't know."

Regina stabbed the glass counter with her finger. "Mary Margaret is supposed to take the blame. She is supposed to go to jail for this. She is supposed to suffer for what she's done!"

The imp leaned casually forward. "Well, Your Majesty, I'd say you're going to get your wish. And perhaps have it pay off even more than you planned."

"What the hell do you mean?"

"How do you think Miss Blanchard is going to feel about the love of her life being accused of murder and put on trial for it…" His eyes glittered craftily. "Being sent to jail for the rest of his life?"

A smile slowly grew on the queen's face. "It would rip her heart out."

'Stiltskin gave her a condescending smile. "Indeed."


So, Sassy, when she sent the edits back to me, told me that I "killed it" with the chapter, along with killing her, then she ordered me to make the edits and post it IMMEDIATELY so that I could kill others…did I? XD I hope that you guys enjoyed this chapter as much as I did writing it! So much of it has been in my mind for a LONG time, including how Emma would reveal to Charming that she knew (though her truly BELIEVING is still pending. XD) Is Mary/Snow pregnant? …Maaaaaaybeeeeeee… XD Thank you so much for reading! Please let me know what you think! :-D

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