Those of you who were annoyed with me for leaving you hanging (again) at the end of the last chapter, here is the newest installment! :-D I hope that you guys like it! Thank you for all of the encouragement, you guys really help keep me going on these stories and make my day!

BIG thanks and hugattacks for my lovely beta and dartie, SassySnow1988! Thank you for saving me from inconsistencies and encouraging me to do more! :-D You're the best dartie EVER! ;-D



The judge called an immediate recess, insisting on seeing Kathryn himself along with both lawyers. He instructed the court officers to return James to his cell. The prince grasped his wife's hand tightly before allowing himself to be cuffed and led away.

Mary followed them back to the station, and kept a careful distance while they locked him up again; once they left, she moved to the bars, her and James reaching for each other at the same time between them.

A wobbly, hopeful smile lit her expression. "She's alive! They'll have to let you go. It can be proven now that you didn't do what they're accusing you of!"

He pressed a kiss to each of her knuckles, feeling the same burgeoning hope himself, but tried to control it, knowing that there still may be more to come. "We need to be patient…" A crooked grin slipped across his face without his consent. "But…we may be seeing the end of this nightmare."

"You might get to come home tonight…" Mary bit her lip. "What do you want for dinner? Anything you want, I'll make it."

A single blond eyebrow rose. "Seriously, anything?"


James stared up at the ceiling a moment in thought. "Well, I'd love a steak, your garlic mashed potatoes, steamed string beans and a bottle of a red." A smirk grew on his face as he leaned forward and whispered, "Then afterward, I want you."

Her skin flushed, and desire flared in her eyes. Mary reached up, cupping the back of his neck, drawing his head down to hers. "That sounds perfect to me," she murmured before their lips met.

A throat clearing had them jerking apart. Emma was just inside the doorway, eyes cut to the side, once she could tell they had moved apart, she strode over to the cell, keys jangling in her hand.

"Let's get you out of there," the sheriff said briskly.

Mary gasped. "They've let him go?"

The keys spun in the lock. "The paperwork is still being processed, but I don't give a damn. The charges are being dropped and I really hate having a friend in one of these cells." She threw the door open. "In my book you're a free man."

James caught her hand as he passed her and squeezed it, meeting her gaze and holding it. "Thank you, Emma."

For several heartbeats Emma couldn't look away, but then her eyes drifted to their feet, obviously uncomfortable though she didn't pull away. "Can't let my family be kept apart," she mumbled.

His heart leapt at her referring to them as family. Even if she wasn't ready to accept that he and Mary were really her parents, Emma was willing to admit that they were family to her even if only through bonds of friendship. James released his grip, not wanting to push his daughter any further than she already had been at this point.

Mary nearly knocked him over with the force of her plowing into him, arms locked around his neck. His arms automatically wrapped around her waist and he picked her up, laughing as he spun them around.

"We're lucky tonight, Emma," James told her after setting Mary back on her feet. "We've been promised a steak dinner." The prince winked at Emma.

She cocked an eyebrow at her roommate. "High-styling." A smirk quirked her mouth. "Maybe one of us should get arrested more often."

Mary glared at her mildly but was unable to keep a smile off of her face for long, too delighted with having the man she loved free once again. She turned her attention back to James. "Let's get you home, you probably want a proper shower and a fresh set of clothes."

"That actually sounds amazing," he admitted. The facilities in the station were hardly the accommodations he was used to. "And no offense, Emma," he commented looking at her, "I really can't wait to sleep on a real mattress."

Letting the keys drop onto a nearby desk, she laughed lightly. "No offense taken." She nodded in the directions of the cells. "I can't imagine those pallets are particularly comfortable."

"No, indeed." James allowed his wife to begin leading him away.

"Hey, John!"

He turned back just in time to raise his hand and catch something she tossed at him, glancing down at the metal and leather object in his palm. His deputy badge. His gaze snapped back to hers.

"I need my deputy back on duty in two days," Emma told him simply.

James' signature half-smile lifted his mouth. "First thing, boss."

The sheriff rolled her eyes. "Again I say, call me that again and see if you still have a job."

A chuckle rumbled from him. "Got it."


Even though he'd only been away from the apartment for a few days, walking through the door into the home he shared with his wife and daughter, it felt like it'd been years. The apartment was quiet, but in its usual neat order that Mary kept it in.

James glanced toward the kitchen, wincing with the sudden memory, and looked back to his wife. "I…uh…I broke one of your glasses…after you were arrested."

Mary's eyebrows shot up.

He shrugged sheepishly. "I was really angry at the time. I'll replace it."

Eyes soft and understanding, even flattered, she rose up on tiptoe and pressed a kiss to his cheek. "It's all right. Don't worry about it."

James gazed into her eyes, letting himself fall into them and then drew her against him. Their first kiss in weeks without bars between them was sweet and lingering, but with a passion that took his breath away. His hands closed around her waist, pushing up her shirt enough to stroke bare skin, it felt so good to be free to touch her again, knowing he didn't have to stop.

"C'mon," he murmured against her lips.

"Where?" Mary questioned breathlessly, though she was already following him.

"Take a shower with me."

She flushed from head to toe, quite willingly allowing him to lead her along.

For all the urgency they both felt for each other and the time they were separated, they didn't come together in a rush, ripping their clothes off. It was exactly the opposite. They undressed each other slowly, lingering over skin as it was bared, kissing languidly, their touches worshipful.

They didn't even release each other as James turned the shower on and Mary checked the temperature. Using the bar of soap, they washed each other, long caresses of palms, fingers massaging. Their mouths traced loving lines over familiar places, Mary not ready to address just how familiar they felt. Standing under the spray of the shower to rinse off the suds sliding over James' skin, she nipped his jaw then swirled her tongue over the spot. As his strong fingers worked shampoo through Mary's dark locks, he sucked on her ear lobe.

Pressing Mary against the wall, shower water raining down his back, James gripped the back of her knee to hitch her leg over his hip. The nails of one of her hands dug into his shoulder, the other scraped along the slick tiled wall searching for purchase but only sliding over the surface uselessly. It really was a good thing Emma had given them this time alone in the apartment since neither would've been able to restrain the sounds they made.

They collapsed against the wall panting afterward, neither sure how they managed not to just fall in a heap in the tub. Once they'd caught their breaths their lips met in a long leisurely kiss.

"I love you," he murmured to her.

Fingers weaving through short sandy-colored hair, she smiled. "I love you too."

They remained entwined like that until the water turned cool, simply enjoying being together, basking in the freedom to touch and kiss each other unhindered for the first time in weeks. A thought flitted through Mary's mind, all but lost in the tide of bliss she was riding and not to resurface again for a few days.

Oh, how I missed you, Charming.


The next day…

James cautiously stepped around the curtain into the recovery room, letting out a sigh of relief at finding Kathryn asleep. He probably shouldn't be here, but he needed to just see for himself that she was all right. For all of the issues between them, both in this world and the other, she was still a very dear friend.

The blonde looked so very peaceful, lying in the hospital bed. He didn't go any closer than he was, about five feet or so from her.

With a relieved sigh he turned to leave again, satisfied that she was all right.

"Who's there?"

James froze at the startled voice behind him, and slowly turned back.

"David?" Her brow was furrowed in surprise. "What are you doing here?"

"I wanted to come and see for myself that you were all right." He took a few steps closer to the bed, hands jammed into his pockets.

"You were accused of murdering me?"

"Yeah," he agreed quietly. "And Mary before me."

Staring at the blankets covering her, she rubbed her forehead. "This is all just so insane." Her eyes lifted to his again. "I'm sorry, to both of you."

Shaking his head, he moved closer. "It wasn't your fault, Kathryn, you certainly didn't ask to be kidnapped and everything that followed."

"How's Mary Margaret?" Kathryn inquired, genuine concern coloring her voice.

James was surprised at first by the care she was showing for the woman she thought had taken her husband, but then he remembered the phone call just before she disappeared. "Better. How are you?"

A smile curved her mouth. "According to the doctors I'm doing surprisingly well, for the condition I was found in."

"But how are you holding up?" he gently persisted.

For several beats she didn't answer. "I think it might take a while before I feel safe again. But I really am all right otherwise."

A short laugh escaped him. "You're really kind of amazing."

Kathryn smirked. "Yeah, I am." She caught his hand and gave it a reassuring squeeze. "Thank you for coming, Dav-I mean John."

They shared a grin at her correcting herself.

"Now, go home." She released his hand and shooed him toward the door. "Go home to Mary Margaret. And I wish you both all the happiness in the world."

James watched her for several moments before leaning down and lightly kissing her forehead. "I wish the same for you, Kathryn. I hope you find that person for you."

She smiled appreciatively. "Thank you." Then she pushed him toward the door. "Now, get out of here."

"Yes, ma'am."

Stepping out of the door James nearly ran into someone.


"Dep-I mean…uh…"

"It's Deputy again," James quickly assured the man. "Rick Aurum, right?"

He shifted nervously. "Yeah."

The prince took in the flowers the knight-turned-gym teacher was holding and the way his eyes kept straying toward Kathryn's bed. "Are you here to see Kathryn?"

"Uh…yeah. If it's all right," Rick quickly added.

James' lips twitched, fighting a grin. "Well, that would be up to her, but I'm sure she'd love to meet you." He poked his head back into the room. "Kathryn," she looked up, "Rick Aurum, the one who found your car, he's here and would like to see you."

"Of course." She pushed herself up into more of a sitting position. "Let him in."

The deputy held the curtain open for the younger man, giving him a pat on the shoulder before letting the curtain close behind the knight, praying that this was the start of his friends getting their happily ever after back.


Something was oh-so-familiar about this man, Kathryn mused as she gazed at Rick Aurum, unaware that the same though was crossing his mind about her.

There was a long stretch of silence where neither seemed able to say anything.

Finally she noticed the bouquet in his hand, and latched onto them for a way to break the ice. "Lovely flowers."

His eyes snapped to them, as if only just remembering they were there. "Oh! Uh, yes. Uh, they're for you." Rick stepped forward, holding them out.

The blonde accepted them, breathing in their scent. "They're beautiful, thank you." She rested the flowers carefully in her lap. "I wanted to thank you for your help when I disappeared."

Confusion crossed his face. "All I did was find your car and call the sheriff."

She shrugged. "Perhaps, but who knows how long I might've been missing before anyone noticed if you hadn't?"

He didn't seem so sure but didn't argue. "I'm glad to have been of help."

Kathryn bit her lip. "After I get out of here, I'd like to make you dinner."

Rick's eyes lit up for a moment before he stifled his excitement slightly. "You don't have to do that."

"I know," she stated simply. "I said that I want to."

He was unable to respond for several moments, then a grin slowly lifted his lips. "I'd like that too."


The apartment was packed nearly to bursting with friends celebrating James and Mary being cleared of Kathryn's murder and his returning home. A large sign welcoming them both back hung cheerfully on the wall. James and Mary received more hugs during that celebration than they normally did in a month. Alexandra was passed from one set of arms to another while her parents laughed and chatted and helped with the party. Granny served up casseroles and tacos and all the other food with a broad grin while Emma and Ruby ladled out the fruit punch and occasional alcoholic drink.

James settled in one of the chairs off to the side, taking a moment to himself, watching his loved ones with a contented smile on his face. Henry jogging over to him made the prince grin even wider; the boy eagerly plopped down in the chair next to him.

"So…" his grandson began, "you still remember? Ya know, being Prince Charming?"

Torn between amusement and a sharp pain in his chest, James swallowed thickly and nodded. "Yeah, kiddo. I remember."

"Great! Now we can tell Emma and you can help us with Operation Cobra!"

"Henry, I think it best that we don't talk to Emma about me remembering yet."

Henry sighed dejectedly. "Because she's still not ready to fully believe?" he mumbled.

James bumped his shoulder against the boy's. "Hey, Mary and I aren't in trouble any more, and if Regina tries anything else right now it would draw attention that she doesn't want. We have time, and that's what Emma needs." He bent his head closer to Henry's. "We'll break the curse and we'll be together as a family. It will take time to work out, but families always find each other."

A very familiar half-grin lifted Henry's mouth. "Yeah. Especially ours."

"Especially ours," the deputy agreed.

Biting his lip, the child continued a little tentatively. "When it's just us–just you and me–can I call you Gramps?"

It took James several hard swallows before he managed to speak around the lump lodged in his throat. "Yeah. I'd like that."

Grin brighter than the morning sun, Henry tackled him in a hug. "Love ya, Gramps."

Tears burned in his eyes at hearing the longed-for words for the second time. "I love you too, Henry."


So… Didja like? :-D I really enjoyed writing this chapter with James and Mary's reunion, and the Grandpa Charming and Henry moment. Thank you for reading and let me know your thoughts! :-D I'm going to update Hot Chocolate one more time before going back to Once Upon a Time…and Again.

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