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Battle Towards Surrender

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“Something bad,” Henry says, as they stare at the purple smoke swallowing the town. And he knows, really, that it isn’t the time, but he finds himself tugging on Emma’s sleeve anyway. The leather is soft and familiar under his hand, and that helps. Because Henry is kind of freaking out right now.


“Emma?” He asks when she looks down at him. “Can we… talk for a minute?”



“Sure, kid,” Emma says, still looking uneasily at the window. “Can we have the room please, everyone?”

 

The nurses and doctors trail out, kind of like zombies, everyone staring at the windows as they walk. Emma looks kind of impressed that they actually listened to her, but Henry guesses maybe everyone just knows how to respond to royalty. Which Emma is. And—oh boy—technically Henry is too.

 

There’s a pretty good chance he’s going to puke, Henry thinks, and not just because he was kind of dead for a while there.

 

“She said—” Henry starts to say when the last stranger leaves his hospital room. “Emma, did you hear what she said to me?”

 

“Every word,” Emma confirms, leading him back to the bed and helping him sit on it. She keeps glancing at the window, but even as the purple smoke approaches it doesn’t seem to be doing anything, not that Henry can see anyway.

 

“She loves me,” Henry says in a really small voice. “I thought maybe when she lost like that she would say she hadn’t ever loved me at all.”

 

“She’s your Mom, kid,” Emma says, her voice sounding weird, like maybe she’s trying not to cough. “Whatever happens now, she brought you up for ten years. Trust me, people don’t do that for no reason.”

 

“Are you gonna kill her?” Henry asks, staring at his feet. They’re kind of dirty, considering he spent all night in a hospital bed. Mom would fuss about that. He’d be marched straight to the bathroom.

 

“What?” Emma asks, and she sounds so strangled that Henry has to look at her. “No, I… it won’t come to that, probably.”

 

Henry thinks she’d maybe better work on her lying. She’s never going to survive being a parent otherwise. Everyone knows they have to lie all the time.

 

“I don’t want her to die,” Henry admits. “I mean, she has to make it up to everyone. But dying won’t fix that.”

 

“You’re right,” Emma says, ruffling his hair. “And I’m gonna tell everyone that, when we uh… oh God, I have to see everyone.”

 

“You’re going to meet your parents,” Henry points out, noticing how Emma looks pretty close to puking right now. “Trust me. It’s a good feeling, when it happens.”

 

“I need to find out where your Mom went,” Emma says. “I don’t think we want anyone else to get there first. Especially not Mr. Gold.”

 

“Did you find out who he is in my book?” Henry asks, suddenly excited. No more being told to shut up, no more laughing at him. He gets answers, now.

 

“Uh, yeah, actually,” Emma replies, squeezing her eyes shut. “He’s Rumpelstiltskin; how do you like that?”

 

“Oh,” Henry says. “I mean, I guess that makes sense.”

 

“I’m sorry I didn’t believe you,” Emma says, hugging him with one arm. “Are you feeling well enough to get out of here? It’s okay if you need to stay.”

 

“I’m fine,” Henry answers with a shrug. “Dying’s not that hard, I guess.”

 

“Don’t ever do it again,” Emma threatens, tears in her eyes again. “You scared the crap out of us, kid.”

 

“Us?” Henry pounces.

 

“Your mom and me,” Emma admits. “She was right there, every step of the way. And… well, the weird thing is she didn’t do anything evil. As soon as she knew you were in danger she helped me.”

 

“Once you busted her about the curse, right?” Henry asks.

 

“She uh,” Emma hesitates. “She gave it up right away. As soon as I asked her.”

 

“I bet she didn’t want to tell you the plan though,” Henry says, not as sure as when he started this conversation.

 

“No, she told me everything,” Emma corrects him. “She went to Gold, I didn’t have to force her. She gave up all her secrets. He’s the one who tried to double-cross us.”

 

“Huh,” Henry says, taking all of this in. Everything is so different since he woke up, and it’s not just because the curse broke. “You know, I was thinking about one of my stories while I was asleep.”

 

“Yeah?” Emma asks, looking out at where the purple smoke has now disappeared. “Which one?”

 

“In Beauty and the Beast, Belle meets a strange woman on the road. She tells her that True Love’s Kiss will break any curse.”

 

“Right,” Emma says, pacing again now. “That’s how I woke you up, remember?”

 

“But what if the Evil Queen’s evil is… a kind of curse?” Henry asks. “What if she just needs someone to love her and kiss her at the same time?”

 

“I doubt that,” Emma says, but she’s looking at Henry with something like caution on her face. “And we’d have to find someone who loves Regina. That’s not gonna be an easy sell.”

 

“No,” Henry admits. “But I think I might have a plan.”

 

“A new Operation Cobra?” Emma asks, making Henry smile with the kindness in her voice.

 

“Right,” Henry agrees. “Operation Cobra II.”

 

“You need better names, kid,” Emma says, smiling. “We’ve got a whole lot to do. You want to get started?”

 

“Yup,” Henry says, reaching for the cupboard by his bed, where his clothes and backpack are stored. “I love you, Emma,” he adds, ducking out of sight right as she says it back.