Actions

Work Header

Born in Pain, Followed by Joy

Chapter Text

“Okay Mary Margaret you’re doing great! You’re almost there,” Emma Swan tried to say soothingly over the sound of people ringing in the New Year just outside the window. Mary Margaret Nolan nodded and groaned as she pushed with all her might. “Good good! The baby's head is born, you’re nearly there!” The contraction passed and Mary Margaret relaxed as much as she could, trying to regain some strength before the next contraction hit.

“This baby’s certainly taking its sweet time,” she said between deep breaths.

“Believe it or not, but this isn’t the longest labor I’ve seen. There was one woman who was in labor for 24 hours,” Emma soothed.

“Oh dear Lord, that must have been awful,” Mary Margaret grimaced. Emma noticed Mary Margaret’s breathing begin to speed up again and the furrow set in her brow.

“That’s good Mrs. Nolan, just keep panting like that!” Emma watched as one shoulder than the other came through and with one last push the rest of the baby came. His little limbs waved back and forth, his little foot kicked Mary Margaret in the thigh. Mary Margaret collapsed back on to the pillows of her bed exhausted, her brow shining with sweat. Church bells began to ring followed by many shouts and whoops of joy as the new year was announced.

“Is the baby okay?” Mary Margaret asked, once she caught her breath. Emma wrapped the newborn boy in a blanket, rubbing gently on his chest to get him to cry. The boy fussed and let out a loud wail, alerting his mother and possibly the whole block that he was here, Mary Margaret smiled and pushed herself up onto her elbows, a wide smile on her face. Emma cut the cord and gathered him in her arms, taking the pink and squealing infant into her arms.

“He's fine, ten fingers and ten toes and what sounds like a very good set of lungs. He might just be the first baby of 1958,” Emma smiled and weighed and measured the baby and re-swaddled him before handing him to Mary Margaret, “Do you and your husband have a name picked out?”

“Leo, for my father,” Mary Margaret responded, looking at her son with nothing but love in her eyes, “Thank you so much Nurse Swan.”

“It's my job,” Emma smiled at her, “Would you like me to go tell the father to come in and meet his son?” Mary Margaret nodded excitedly, her eyes never leaving her son. Emma opened the door, expecting to find the husband, David, downstairs in the kitchen or out on the stoop smoking a cigarette with a friend or two and enjoying the celebrations, she did not expect him to be waiting right outside the door in the hallway.

“Are they okay? Can I see them?” he asked, his voice anxious as he tried to look over Emma's head and into the bedroom.

“They're both fine, come in and see,” Emma stepped aside as he rushed to his wife's side, kissing her on her temple. Emma looked on as both parents looked down at their son with nothing but absolute adoration in their eyes and she knew that he would be living a life much more filled with love than she ever had. She began repacking her midwifery bag, making sure she remembered to grab everything lest Sister Edith reprimand her for losing a vial or funnel. She replaced the dark pink hat that was part of her uniform on her head and a thick knitted scarf around her neck and turned to the new parents.

“All right, my work here for tonight is done, I'll be coming by tomorrow to make sure everything is going well and see how mother and baby are settling in,” she said closing her bag.

“Nurse Swan, we really want to thank you again for helping us along through this whole process,” Mary Margaret said looking up at her.

“Yeah we really could not have done this without you,” David added, gently caressing Leo's head.

“It's no problem at all, every baby should get a good and fair start at life,” Emma smiled at the happy little family and showed herself out. She found her yellow bicycle right where she had left it chained to the railing of the stoop and put her bag in the basket. She adjusted her coat over her powder blue dress so that she wouldn't reveal herself (silently cursing the fact that they couldn't wear trousers as part of their midwife uniform) as she got on the bike, when a voice shouted over the noise of people laughing and shouting and toasting to each other..

“Oi nurse! Wait!” A voice with a thick Irish brogue called out. Emma turned to see a tall man with black hair and brilliantly blue eyes running towards her. He stopped and tried to catch his breath, Emma took a tentative step back from him.

“Do you need any help?” she asked apprehensively.

“No no, I'm fine. I just heard that Mary Margaret went into labor and I needed to see if she was all right, she and the baby,” he panted heavily.

“Both mother and baby are doing fine,” Emma assured him, keeping her distance from him.

“Oh thank god!” he leaned against the building and smiled widely at her, “Thanks.”

“You’re welcome,” Emma answered before climbing onto her bike and riding back towards Antioch House where she and the other midwives lived. As she weaved through the many people that filled the street, she looked back for a moment to see the strange man hurrying into the Nolan's home with a large smile on his face.


 

“So Ruby, what odd new food are you going to try to force me to eat tonight?” Sister Edith asked as the nuns and midwives sat in the sitting room of the convent, ringing in the new year together.

“Nothing new Granny, just the usual fare for tonight,” Ruby smirked and passed a tray of biscuits to the older nun.

“Oh happy day,” Granny deadpanned, dipping a biscuit into her tea, “And how many times do I have to tell you, I'm not your grandmother so stop calling me that!” Emma smirked at Ruby across the room, the fiery brunette had always had a way of pushing Sister Edith's buttons.

“So Nurse Swan, I hear you delivered the Nolan baby this evening?” Sister Ingrid asked, her soft voice making all the other women quiet down.

“Oh a New Year’s baby, that’s a sign of good luck you know,” Sister Nova said excitedly

“That’s probably why it was a surprisingly easy birth for a first time mother, both the baby and Mary Margaret appear to be quite healthy. There was something weird that happened as I was leaving though,” Emma frowned, “Well odder than can be expected on New Years.”

“Oh? What happened?” Elsa asked, setting down her fork.

“Well, as I was leaving , this man ran up to me and started asking about the mother and the baby; he seemed almost afraid that something bad had happened to them,” Emma explained.

“Did he have an Irish accent? And blue eyes? Like , the bluest eyes you've ever seen?” Ruby asked.

“Um yes? Is that an important detail?” Emma furrowed her brow in confusion.

“That has to be Killian Jones!” Belle exclaimed, “It would make sense for him to be so worried I suppose.”

“Why?”

“Well he and Mary Margaret are cousins, distant by blood but close in bond,” Sister Ingrid explained. Emma saw the looks that Belle, Ruby, and Elsa exchanged and she knew there had to be more to the story.

“That's not it, is it?” she asked looking over at Granny, who had been a midwife in the small hamlet of Storybrooke the longest.

The older woman looked down at her plate and swallowed thickly, “He's a widower, his wife died giving birth to their boy, placental abruption and she hemorrhaged. We did everything we could to save her, we even transferred her to hospital , but she hemorrhaged again on the operating table. I will never forget the look on that poor boy's face as he held his new baby boy when I told him his wife was gone. She had been a lively and spirited girl, only 19 years old. It still breaks my heart to think of what he's had to go through on his own.”

“Where's the boy now?” Emma asked, worried that he had to be taken away.

“He's with Mr. Jones, turned out to be an excellent father and Mary Margaret helped him out when needed. You'll never see a happier child than Liam Jones,” Sister Nova assured Emma.

“I agree, I always see them together at the library picking out books and he seems like a very happy child, quite plucky actually,” Belle smiled. Emma felt a wash of relief flood over her as she picked at the rest of her dinner until she and the other midwives retired to their rooms and the nuns went to evening prayer.

“About the Jones boys; Liam really is a great kid. He's just joined my Cub Scouts troop and he's keeping up with the other boys brilliantly. Now that Killian Jones though,” Ruby said falling into step with Emma, “He's quite attractive isn't he?”

“What?”

“Oh come on Emma, I know you're not blind. I've seen him plenty of times at Tuesday clinic and he's a real dish if you ask me,” Ruby waggled her eyebrows at Emma.

“Well I didn't,” Emma snapped and quickened her pace to catch up with Elsa.

“You know she's just teasing and being a flirt,” Elsa sighed.

“I know, I'm just not interested in meeting a man right now,” Emma reasoned as they entered their room. Emma stripped off her uniform and got into pajamas, Elsa was blissfully quiet as if knowing that Emma didn't want to talk. They got into their beds and Emma turned to Elsa who was turning out the light.

“I'll apologize to her in the morning,” she sighed, she could practically see Elsa's smile in the darkness.

“Good,” she whispered and settled onto her back, “You know Emma, if you do ever want to meet a man Mr. Jones wouldn't be a bad choice. He's kind and funny and he cares deeply for his son. And he really is quite attractive, I mean have you ever seen blue eyes like his?”

“No I don't think I have,” Emma admitted, “But it's going to take more than a pair of blue eyes and an accent to distract me from work. I suspect that we’ll be up to our ears in babies in about nine months.”

“Whatever you say Emma,” Elsa sighed and turned over in her bed. Emma punched her pillow into a more comfortable shape and tried to get to sleep but couldn't seem to get blue eyes and that wide , relieved smile out of her head.



Chapter Text

Emma knocked on the door to the Nolan's flat, “Midwife calling!” she hoisted her bag full of everything she needed for Mary Margaret's and her baby's check up higher on her arm.

The door opened to reveal a boy of about 10, staring up at Emma with big blue eyes. Emma checked the number on the door to make sure she was at the right flat, “Um, is Mrs. Nolan around? I need to check up on her,” she asked the boy, getting down to his eye level.

“Dad?” he called into the flat and Emma looked up to see none other than Killian Jones striding towards her, a spit up rag draped over his shoulder and the now two week old Leo Nolan held in his arms.

“Oh hello! Here for the check up?” he asked, smiling at her.

“Yes I am, is Mary Margaret here?” Emma walked into the flat and set her bag on the dining room table, moving a storybook out of the way its page flipped to an ornate illustration of a beanstalk.

“No, she stepped out to get some lunch,” Killian handed her the baby as if he already knew the routine.

“I need to check on her as well and I can't afford to wait around here all day, I have other patients to see,” Emma huffed but started her check up on little Leo.

“She should be back in a tick, I just wanted to give her a break from being cooped up all day,” Killian said sheepishly scratching behind his ear.

“It's okay,” Emma sighed and went back to checking Leo's heart rate. The boy who answered the door walked into the room and up to Killian.

“Is there anything to drink, Dad?” he asked his father.

“Aye there should be some juice in the icebox, would you like any nurse?” Killian asked.

“Umm yes, would that be all right with Mary Margaret though?” Emma pulled the stethoscope out of her ears.

“Oh of course, she won't mind at all, besides you must get parched riding around on that bicycle all day,” Killian started pouring her and his son glasses of juice, “What's your name by the way? I just realized I haven't asked you and that's very bad form.”

“Emma, Emma Swan,” she responded and took a thermometer from her bag.

“Killian Jones, pleasure to meet you, and this little rascal is my son Liam,” he ruffled his son's hair while Liam tried to duck out of reach and ran off to another part of the flat.

“He seems like a good kid,” Emma tried to ignore the pit in her stomach as she watched the dark haired boy walk out of the room.

“Aye he is, but he can be a handful from time to time, just like his mum,” a small sad smile crossed his face. Leo began to squirm in Emma's arms, a loud whimper giving way to a cry.

“Shhh little one,” Emma soothed, “You're almost done I promise,” Leo wailed in response.

“Give him here love,” Killian held out his arms to take the baby, “Shhh lad don’t fret, your mum will be back any moment,” he soothed. Emma watched intrigued as he gently bounced Leo up and down, the baby’s cries steadily quieting down and his big blue eyes closing peacefully. She quickly shook herself, of course he knew how to do that sort of thing, he was a father and obviously he couldn't have relied on Mary Margaret to do everything for him when Liam was this age.

“There we go little lad, no more tears eh?” Killian looked down at the baby cradled in his arms and smiled at him and tickled his belly lightly.

“You’re really good with him,” Emma said softly.

“Well I had practice with Liam; he was a fussy little tike when he was this age,” he looked at his son sitting in the living room reading with absolute pride, “Mary Margaret and David are lucky, this one hardly makes a sound.”

Emma and Killian chuckled, careful not to jostle Leo when the door to the flat banged open revealing a hurried Mary Margaret carrying a bag full of groceries.

“Killian thank you so much for watching the baby, oh hello Nurse Swan,” Mary Margaret set the bag on the table in the kitchen, “Sorry about being late for your rounds.”

“It's all right Mrs. Nolan but please know that with you being late this makes me late for all my other patients' appointments,” Emma reminded the young mother.

“Right well I won't keep you occupied, Mary Margaret do you want me to put these away for you?” Killian asked as he handed Leo to Mary Margaret.

“No thanks it can wait until we’re finished here,” Mary Margaret waved off his offer before placing a kiss on the top of her son’s head.

Killian turned to Emma, “Nurse Swan it was a pleasure talking to you,” he surprised her by taking her hand and placing a kiss on her knuckle. Emma felt her breath catch in her throat but swallowed and took her hand back from him.

“Thank you for keeping me company while I checked on Leo,” she focused her gaze on the baby in Mary Margaret's arms.

“Liam! Come on lad time to go home,” he called to his son and kissed his cousin on the cheek, “We'll see you Wednesday night,” he assured her before he and his son walked out the door.

“What's Wednesday night?” Emma asked casually as she took Mary Margaret's blood pressure.

“Family dinner night, we just all get together and have dinner together and catch up with each other,” Mary Margaret explained.

“That sounds nice,” Emma smiled, “Right, I just need a urine sample and I'll be all finished up with you two.” She handed Mary Margaret a glass cup and waited for her to finish up in the lav, Emma kept an eye on Leo who was now sleeping soundly in his cot. She ran her fingers gently over his soft blond hair and took in the carefully and lovingly knitted baby blanket he was swaddled in.

“David's mother, Ruth, knit us that almost the moment we told her we were getting married. It's beautiful isn't it?” Mary Margaret set her cup on the table and looked down at her son adoringly.

“Has she seen the baby yet?” Emma asked as she continued carrying out her tests.

“No, she um she passed right after the wedding, she didn't even tell us she was sick,” Mary Margaret's brows knit together.

“I'm so sorry,” Emma placed a comforting hand on the other woman's shoulder.

“It's okay, I'm just glad I got to meet her. It was her idea to have Wednesday night family dinners, I think it really helped Killian.”

“How so?”

“Well after Milah died, Killian just kept to himself, shut up inside their house with Liam. Family night got him out of the house more and let him see he wasn't alone in all this, Ruth practically considered him a second son and she doted on Liam. She also made him his baby blanket and probably all his booties and mittens up until her death,” Mary Margaret explained as Emma felt her stomach making sure everything was returning to how it should be.

“She sounds like a wonderful woman,” Emma snapped her bag shut.

“Speaking of my cousin,” Mary Margaret raised her eyebrow at Emma and she could definitely see the family resemblance between the two, “I don't think I've seen him look at a woman like that in a very long time.”

“Like what?” Emma slowly tried to ease her way towards the door but Mary Margaret wouldn't budge.

“Like he wants to know everything there possibly is to know about you,” Mary Margaret sighed.

Emma bit her lip uncomfortably and checked her watch, looking for any excuse to get out of the situation as quickly as possible, “Well would you look at the time, I really must be off for the rest of my rounds. Have a good day Mrs. Nolan,” Emma hurried out of the flat as quickly as she could and tried to focus on the rest of her patients, grateful that it had been Mary Margaret's last day of at home visits and she wouldn't have to face the consequences of her rudeness.


 

Emma was not so lucky two weeks later when she was on duty at the Tuesday ante and postnatal clinic where she spotted Mary Margaret there with Leo wrapped in his baby blanket.

“Mrs. Nolan, what can we do for you today?” she asked, hoping that with being a new mother the woman had forgotten how she practically sprinted out of her house.

“It's Leo, he's had a cough and runny nose for days and now I think he's come down with a fever,” Mary Margaret said frantically.

“Ok, take a seat and I'll check up on you as soon as I can,” Emma guided Mary Margaret to the bank of chairs where other mothers and soon-to-be mothers waited.

“Belle do you mind taking Mrs. Finley? Mrs. Nolan came in with a sick baby and I need to make sure it isn't anything serious,” Emma asked Belle who was finishing up another woman's prenatal check up.

“Of course,” Belle assured her. Emma hurried back over to Mary Margaret and guided her behind the screens and set baby Leo on an examination table. The baby was flushed and slightly feverish with a dry hacking cough, he squirmed uncomfortably and whimpered loudly.

“Well he does have a very mild fever, have his eyes seemed runny or itchy?” Emma asked Mary Margaret. The dark haired woman shook her head, clutching a small cross around her neck.

“He isn't presenting any signs of whooping cough, do you or your husband's families have any history of asthma or allergies?” Emma placed her stethoscope on the baby's chest and listened for signs of anything worrisome.

“No, not that I know of,” Mary Margaret said shakily.

“Any bouts of eczema?” Emma pulled the stethoscope from her ears.

“Not at all,” Mary Margaret shook her head.

“Well then I believe Little Leo here has a cold,” Emma tickled his belly hoping to get him to smile, “You want to give him plenty of fluids and rest, try to give him an extra feeding or two. Steam can also help ease that cough.”

“What about honey, my mother used to give me a spoonful of honey whenever I had a cough,” Mary Margaret picked her son up off the table, her shoulders relaxed now.

“I'm sorry Mrs. Nolan but we don't advise using honey until your child is at least a year old,” Emma explained gathering a few items for a cold kit. “But here are a few things that should work: a bulb syringe to help clear out his nose, some saline drops, a thermometer, and some acetaminophen to bring down his fever. Do you need me to explain how to use any of this?”

“No I've got it, thank you so much Nurse Swan,” Mary Margaret took the little bag full of supplies and balanced Leo on her hip, “And I'm sorry about the other day, I shouldn't have meddled.”

“It's all right no harm done,” Emma waved it off.

“No really, Killian was so embarrassed when I mentioned it. And I don't want you to think that he needs his admittedly nosey cousin to butt into his love life,” Mary Margaret said.

“I didn't think that at all, now Leo should be fine in a few days but bring him back or call Nonnatus House if his fever gets worse or his cough becomes more phlegmy sounding,” Emma directed the conversation away from Killian.

“I will, thanks again nurse,” she smiled warmly at Emma and walked out of the parish hall. Emma sighed in relief and went to the small back room to clean and sanitize, she found Belle standing at the sink, cleaning out beakers and Ruby speaking with Dr. Whale.

“Aww come on Nurse Lucas, let me buy you a drink tonight,” he smiled somewhat lecherously at her.

“Tonight's actually not great,” Ruby said looking to Belle and Emma for help.

“Why not?” he asked.

Belle rolled her eyes at the sky and went to stand next to Ruby, “So sorry doctor but we actually have plans tonight,” she said, wrapping her arm around Ruby's waist.

“Oh yeah, sorry doctor it's a standing tradition, no one is allowed to miss it unless they're out on a delivery,” Emma explained.

“Plus I already bought the cheese board,” Ruby said.

“That's right and I already bought the wine, so I'm sorry but drinks are just going to have to wait for another night,” Belle tightened her grip on Ruby's waist.

“All right, well let me know when you're free, it seems between birthing babies, going on rounds, and these girl's nights that you hardly have any free time,” Dr. Whale whined.

“Comes with the job I guess,” Emma said icily to Whale. He may be a good doctor but his womanizing ways did not put him high on the list of people Emma liked associating with. Thankfully he was called out to help Elsa and Sister Nova with a delivery; Belle turned to Ruby as soon as he was out the door.

“If you don't want to go out with him why do you keep telling him 'maybe'? Wouldn't it just be simpler to just tell him you're not interested?” Belle asked, her hands on Ruby's shoulders.

“It's not that I'm not interested, I just like to keep my options open,” Ruby shrugged noncommittally.

“Well may I give you lot the option of quitting your gossip and getting back to work? We are swarming with mothers and babies here today,” Sister Edith poked her head in and looked sternly at them.

“Sorry Granny,” they said and hustled around, Ruby and Belle going out onto the floor to keep the appointments going and Emma staying behind with a mountain of glassware that still needed cleaning and sanitizing.

“And I keep tellin' you lot to quit calling me Granny!”

Chapter Text

Emma rode her bike through the dark and deserted streets, peddling home after a midnight birth with the cool night air whipping her face, trying to avoid the willful drifts of snow that stubbornly hung around on the sides of the road. Out of the corner of her eye she saw movement from one of the alleys, Emma slowed down, unsure if she should investigate or not, when she heard someone groan in pain. Emma hopped off her bike immediately and grabbed her bag and followed the groans into the alley where she found a young blonde woman, barely older than 16, sitting on the ground her hands on a prominent baby bump.

“Hi,” Emma said getting the woman's attention. The woman's eyes went wide and she started to get up, getting ready to bolt. Emma knelt down next to the woman, “It's okay, I'm not going to hurt you. I'm Emma and I'm a nurse and I just want to make sure you're okay.”

The woman eye's filled with tears, bruises rising on her cheek, as she looked Emma up and down, “I'm fine,” she answered with a thick Yorkshire accent.

“What's your name?” Emma asked, keeping her voice calm so she didn't frighten her off.

“Ashley.”

“Ok Ashley, do you have a place to stay tonight? Somewhere safe and warm?”

Ashley nodded not meeting Emma's eyes. Emma put a hand on her shoulder, “Ashley, if you need a place to stay you can come with me tonight. I promise nothing bad will happen to you or your baby tonight.”

Ashley looked into Emma's eyes and nodded shakily, “All right.” Emma held out her hand and helped Ashley to her feet. The two of them walked together towards Antioch House, Emma pushing her bike along, the sound of the tires rolling over the cobblestones filled the silence around them. Emma locked up her bike next to the others and helped Ashley up the stairs.

“I can't wake up Sister Ingrid, it's past midnight and the nuns get up at half past four to pray, but you should be comfortable until we can all figure out what to do,” Emma handed her a thick knitted blanket.

“Thank you nurse,” Ashley said taking the blanket and sitting down on the couch, she looked around the sitting room, “Funny, I expected this place to be colder.”

“You should see it first thing in the morning in the middle of winter,” Emma smiled and looked at Ashley in the light; she could see more bruises on her arms, some brand new and others fading away, “Ashley how did you get these bruises?”

“My boss, he wasn't happy when he found out I was pregnant. He told me what good could a whore be if she kept her bastard? I've seen what he's had done to other working girls who got pregnant,” she explained shakily.

“What has he done? Ashley I promise you he won't be able to get you here and if you tell me what's going on I can help you,” Emma whispered soothingly.

“They held down my roommate...this woman with what looked like a knitting hook came to see her… there was so much blood,” Ashley stuttered out, “I was able to hide it for longer than she did, but he still found out. They tried to hold me down but I was able to get away, I didn't want to lose my baby like she did.”

Emma's blood ran cold when the realization of what Ashley was saying washed over her, she knew instantly exactly who her boss was. Albert Spencer owned a pub that fronted his brothel, he was particularly hard on the women who worked for him, often picking the most destitute of women and grooming them into the perfect whore. He would send them out to bring in one, two, sometimes even four men in a single night and would give them the barest bones in terms of food and lodging in return.

“Okay listen to me,” Emma gently stroked her fingers through Ashley's hair, “We will figure something out and we will do our best keep both you and your baby safe.”

“You promise?” Ashley asked.

“I promise,” Emma answered, “Now try to get some sleep and we can talk to Sister Ingrid in the morning.”

Ashley laid down pulling the blanket up to her shoulders, her eyes still wet with tears. She looked so young as her breathing began to even out as she fell asleep; Emma stayed with her, threading her fingers through the younger woman's hair until Ashley was fast asleep and Emma made her way upstairs and collapsed onto her bed.


 

“So Ashley, tell me about yourself,” Sister Ingrid asked softly as she, Ashley, and Emma sat in her office.

“There's not much to tell, my mother died when I was four. My father died two years later, after he remarried; I didn't get along with my step-mother or my two step-sisters,” Ashley stared down at her hands.

“Why is that?”

“I don't bloody know, all I know is about a month after his funeral my step mother comes to me and tells me I'll be living in the attic because her daughters both needed their own rooms. And more and more they treated me as a servant girl, her daughters got a fancy tutor to teach them how to read and write and all that and I just had to teach myself. Step mother always said 'why teach the help?' when I dared to ask her why I wasn't getting lessons. I was barely allowed outside unless it was to hang up the laundry or feed the chickens, until one day I just couldn't bare it anymore. I ran off, hitched a ride from York to London and tried to survive on my own. Wasn't too long before I was eating the bread people left out for the birds,” Ashley shrugged, Emma placed a reassuring hand on Ashley's shoulder.

“And how did you meet Albert Spencer?” Emma asked.

“He found me one day, shivering in the park, he said I reminded him of his daughter. He bought me a hot meal and let me stay in his house for a few days, I thought he really cared about me,” Ashley sniffled, “He um, he said that since he had been taking such good care of me that I should start chipping in. I thought he meant doing some chores but he sent me to that brothel. Said to bring the money I earned to him at the end of the night and that if I didn't I could just go back to trying to find a park bench to sleep on.”

Emma met Ingrid's eye when Ashley buried her face in her hands, they had known that pimps would manipulate girls into their world but this was something they had not expected. Emma's blood boiled, to promise someone a home, to manipulate a person's most simple desire and use it and manipulate people into giving up their body was unforgivable. Her hands curled into fists, the urge to march down to the pub and punch the daylights out of that monster was overwhelming, but she took a deep breath instead knowing her place was with Ashley and making sure both she and her baby were well taken care of.

“Ashley,” Emma said softly, Ashley sniffled and looked up, “You can't stay here-”

“WHAT?” Ashley looked from Emma to Ashley, “You said I would be safe here, you said I could stay. Where am I supposed to go?”

“Antioch House is not a clinic, it's just a place for the nurses and sisters to live, we don't have the proper resources here to take care of you,” Ingrid explained. “However we can take you to a friend, Father Archibald, he's set up a home for women like you. We call him Archie and he'll take care of you.”

“Ashley, please look at me,” Emma coaxed. Once the girl’s eyes were on her Emma spoke, “We take care of women in the community, once you go to Archie you will be in the community and we can help you.”

Ashley stared at her, a smile spreading over her face as she realized what Emma was saying, “You'll help me?”

“Yes of course, I'll be with you every step of the way,” Emma assured her.

They waited until nightfall to take Ashley over to Archie's to ensure that no one saw Ashley, especially not Albert or any of his cronies, and got her settled into her room. Emma ran a preliminary check up on Ashley; assessing how far along she was, checking her blood pressure, listening for the fetal heartbeat, and running blood and urine tests on Ashley.

“Well it looks to me that you are right around 28 weeks,” Emma told Ashley as the younger woman ate some food ravenously. “Not a whole while longer until Baby's born.”

“So what should I be doing? I don't want to do anything that would hurt the baby,” Ashley asked.

“Make sure to get plenty of rest and eat, you are underweight and we want to make sure the baby is healthy when they're born. In the mean time I'll be coming in to do your check ups every two weeks to see how things are coming along and I'll be right here with you during delivery,” Emma assured her as she snapped her medical bag shut.

“Thank you Nurse Swan,” Ashley pulled Emma in for a hug, “For everything.” Emma stiffened when Ashley threw her arms around her, but hugged the teenager back once she came to her senses. 

Emma kept her word, coming back to check on Ashley throughout the rest of her pregnancy. Emma began to notice the large stack of old grammar books, books on arithmetic, children's reading books and smiled to herself as she listened to Ashley tell her about her hopes for the future. Finally came the night when Emma helped to deliver a small, pink, and screaming Alexandra Boyd into the world; she couldn't help herself when her eyes got misty looking at Ashley with her newborn cradled in her arms. Emma pushed down those memories that tried to reach their way out of the back of her mind and focused on making sure Ashley and Alexandra were comfortable before hopping on her bicycle and pedaling home.

It wasn't until a few days later that those memories came flooding back in full force when Ashley called Antioch house hysterical.

“They've taken her, they've taken Alexandra away from me!” she screamed into the phone. Emma grit her teeth and headed straight to Archie's so called 'refuge’ for wayward women with a plan half formed in her head.

When Emma got there, she found Ashley desperately calling out the name of her baby pressed against a door at the end of a long hallway. Emma sprinted towards her, getting down on her knees to lift Ashley from the floor.

“I've got you,” Emma soothed as she helped Ashley to her feet and guided her back into her room. She heard Archie's footsteps walking down the hall and once she made sure Ashley wasn't going anywhere for the time being she stormed out to meet him.

“This is what you call a refuge for women?” Emma shouted at him.

“Nurse Swan, in these kinds of situations babies are always placed up for adoption,” Archie tried to explain, “It's what's best for the baby.”

“What about Ashley's best interests? Do you have any idea of how devastating this is? She is the mother to that little girl and she did not consent to this!”

“Don't you see she can't? She's sixteen years old and still a child herself. How can you expect a girl who is nearly illiterate, who has no trade other than prostitution, and who has no place for herself to stay once we discharge her to raise a child on her own?”

“She gave up prostitution!” Emma shouted, “And she's been trying to brush up on her reading and math skills which you would know if you bothered to pay attention to the women who stay here. You don't know her story but I do and I can tell you that this girl, this mother, is a fighter and would have been a damn good mother if you gave her a chance.”

“Without that child Ashley has a better chance of getting a job, she could fix her life back up and possibly find love one day and have another baby when she is better equipped to handle it,” Archie tried to calm Emma down.

“Oh you think that will console her? Replacing Alexandra?”

“It consoles me.”

“Well excuse me Father but I don't give a damn if it consoles you,” Emma snapped, “Do you have any idea of what it feels like to have your child taken from you without your consent? Of course you don't.”

“Nurse Swan please try to understand-”

“Anyone who wants to be a mother should damn well be given the chance to. And Ashley has that chance which you would have known had you communicated with us. Sister Edith has a cousin up in Kent who runs an inn and she needs a laundress, she would have been willing to give Ashley the job and let her and the baby have a room.”

The color drained from Archie's face when he realized what he had done, “Oh Lord.”

“You deprived a woman who has had everything taken from her a chance to start over,” Emma said darkly.

“There may still be a chance!” Archie said quickly, “The woman from the adoption agency said it might take a few days to find parents to take the baby. If you get to her in time you might be able to get the baby back.”

Emma booked out of Archie's presence and went through the doors hoping to still catch the woman Archie had described. Emma worked tirelessly for three days, handing her patients off to Elsa, Belle, and Ruby as she fought tooth and nail with the adoption agency to prove that Ashley deserved to have the chance to raise her baby in peace. Until finally the adoption agency allowed Emma to take Alexandra back to Ashley, she bundled the baby up in a blanket Granny had knit for her and could not contain the tears the pricked at her eyes when she saw Ashley finally reunited with her daughter.

Emma quietly saw herself out, needing some time to process her feelings. She peddled past Antioch house and headed towards the docks, finding a lonely bench. Emma sank down onto the bench, the weight of the past few days weighing down on her, she stared out at the passing ships trying to lose herself in the sound of distant foghorns and dock workers shouting jovially at each other.

“Swan?” a familiar Irish voice asked. Emma turned to see Killian walking towards her, his face changing from a bright smile to a furrowed brow and a concerned look in his eye, “Are you alright, love?”

“I'm fine, why do you ask?” Emma answered.

“You're crying,” he said as he sat down next to her, Emma's hand flew to her cheeks and she was surprised when she felt fresh tears there.

“It's nothing, just a tough couple of days,” Emma brushed the tears out of her eyes.

“Want to talk about it?”

“I'm fine,” Emma shook her head.

“No you're not.”

“How would you know?” Emma turned and gave him a reproachful look.

“You're something of an open book, love,” he shrugged, “Plus, you're not the only one who finds comfort in the sea, this is my favorite bench.”

“Good to know I picked a popular spot,” Emma retorted, turning back to the sea. Far off church bells announced a new hour and Killian looked down at his watch.

“Well I'm afraid I must dash, but I will just say that whatever pain you are carrying on your shoulders, it'll become considerably lighter if you let someone in,” Killian advised.

Emma looked back at him, her eyes meeting his and she found a familiar pain reflected in them, “I'll keep that in mind, thank you.”

“Have a good one Swan,” he offered her a smile before he walked off. Emma watched him go until he disappeared among the people and the buildings of the East End before turning back to the harbor. She stayed there mulling over his words until the sun set, turning the water blue-black and quiet to fall over the harbor, mirroring the inside of Emma's mind.  

 

Chapter Text

Belle sat in the sitting room with a book cracked open on her knee, enjoying a moment of quiet having just finished her rounds for the day. She was already halfway through her copy of Maggie-Now , and she hoped the make quite the dent in it before she got caught up in her work. Just as she was getting to an exciting part of her book, the telephone rang jolting her out of it. Belle sighed and marked her place before going to the hall to answer the call.

“Antioch House, midwife speaking,” she said, balancing the phone between her ear and her shoulder to grab a pencil.

“Belle?” a voice said. Belle nearly dropped the phone, her blood running cold the instant she heard his voice, “I can't believe I found you.”

“How did you get this number?” Belle managed to choke out.

“Doesn't matter, Belle please just come back. I'm so sorry,” Belle could hear that he was starting to cry as he begged her to come back to him. She couldn't respond, her chest felt tight and her skin began to itch all over. She stood frozen in place as she listened to her ex-fiancee plead with her. Ruby chose that moment to come back from her Cub Scouts meeting, her eyes locked with Belle's.

“Everything okay?” She mouthed. Belle shook her head no, her hand starting to shake. Ruby marched over and took the phone from Belle's hand.

“This line is for people needing the attention of a midwife or sister, not for harassing midwives. Do not call back here or I can assure you, you will not be a fan of who shows up at your door,” she snapped before slamming the phone onto the receiver. “Are you alright?” she asked Belle, putting a comforting hand on her shoulder.

Belle shook her head as the tears began to fall, Ruby pulled her into a tight hug and whispered soothing words into Belle's hair.

“I'm sorry,” Belle said once she had calmed down.

“What happened?” Ruby asked, brushing the hair out of Belle's face and cupping her cheek.

“It's complicated,” Belle shook her head.

“I've got time,” Ruby replied softly, “Here, let’s just go upstairs, I'll fix you a drink and we can talk.” Ruby lead her upstairs, her arm draped around Belle's shoulders as they came to their bedroom. Belle flopped onto her bed while Ruby grabbed the bottle of gin she kept hidden in her sock drawer. She poured a generous amount into both their glasses and offered one to Belle before sitting on her own bed.

Belle took a large gulp of her drink, wrinkling her nose as the alcohol burned its way down her throat. “Thanks,” she coughed.

“You’re welcome, now tell me who was that on the phone?” Ruby asked.

“It was someone from a long time ago,” Belle shook her head and took another sip of her drink.

“I got that,” Ruby cocked an eyebrow at her. “Belle you know you can tell me anything, and seeing you like that really has me worried about you. Have they ever called here before?”

“No this was the first time I've spoken to him in almost three years,” Belle took a deep breath, “I have no idea how he found out I was here but I'm not overall surprised to be honest.” Ruby tilted her head, giving Belle the opportunity to go on without interruption. “My father was a good man but he did love to gamble. He ended up owing a man called Mr. Gold a large sum of money and to help pay it off I volunteered to go and serve as a maid in his house. I was young and naive but I ended up falling for him and he said he would pay for my nursing education.”

Belle held out her glass so Ruby could refill it; Ruby poured more gin into the glass and sat back to listen. Belle gulped down the drink and continued, “I convinced myself that I could see him for who he really was, I even accepted his proposal.”

Ruby's eyebrows shot up, “You were engaged?”

“Only until I found out he was still in charge of his gambling ring. He had told me he'd given it up but one day I found his books with deals dated with the day after he proposed. I packed my bag that night and worked my way through my nursing and midwifery courses. I have no idea how he could have found me,I haven’t had any contact with him since the night I left,” Belle bit her lip nervously. Ruby couldn't take her eyes off Belle's lip and was struck with the urge to suck her lip between her own, to run her hand through Belle's chestnut colored hair and comfort her.

“Well I think I may have scared him off from calling here again,” Ruby smiled warmly, she got up off her bed and sat down next to Belle, draping her arm around her shoulders, “Come here.”

Belle rested her head on Ruby's shoulder, “Sorry for unloading all of that onto you.”

“You don't need to apologize you didn't do anything wrong,” Ruby leaned her cheek against the crown of Belle's head, reveling in the closeness, “You deserve to be loved by someone who values you and who doesn't hide anything from you.”

“You mean that?” Belle asked softly.

“With all my heart,” Ruby whispered.


A few hours later Elsa had joined Belle and Ruby in their room to chat and relax after a long day.

“How did the birth at the Smith's go?” Ruby asked Elsa, who was busy French braiding Ruby's hair.

“The baby was breech but it ended up going rather well, the Smiths seem delighted with their beautiful new daughter,” Elsa smiled.

Emma walked into the room holding a stack of mail and reading a magazine, “Oh Ruby, I found a good picture of Sean Connery for your wall,” she smirked and handed the magazine over for Ruby's inspection.

“Good spot!” Ruby said, carefully tearing out the page, “I think he'll look fantastic next to Cary Grant here.”

“You do realize this is the kind of thing school girls do?” Belle smiled at her while pin curling her hair.

“Why should they get all the fun?” Ruby smirked at her, “Besides just because we live with nuns doesn't mean we should act like them.”

“Whatever you say,” Emma rolled her eyes and opened an envelope from Ashley, the young mother had kept in contact with Emma, sending her letters and pictures every few weeks. Emma smiled at the snapshot of Ashley holding Alexandra in front of the little inn they now lived in.

“Speaking of living like a nun,” Ruby started, “Emma when was the last time you went on a date?”

“I had lunch with Graham recently,” Emma said defensively stuffing the photo and Ashley's letter back in the envelope.

“Yes to talk about how to shut down Spencer's brothel, that doesn't count as a date,” Ruby said.

“Why does it matter? I certainly don't need a man in my life right now,” Emma put her hands on her hips, “What even brought this up?”

“A certain Killian Jones asked about you when he picked up his son from Cub Scouts today,” Ruby smirked.

“Really? What did he say?” Belle asked, Emma shot her a look.

“He said 'I haven't seen a certain fiery blonde around much, how is she?' Emma he's clearly interested in you!” Ruby actually squealed.

“I'm not the only blonde in the house, he could easily have been talking about Elsa or Sister Ingrid for all we know,” Emma stalled.

“Oh come on Emma, I somehow doubt Killian was asking about a nun,” Belle said exasperatedly.

“And let's be honest, I could hardly be described as 'fiery', besides he's never even met me,” Elsa shook her head, “But Emma what harm would there be in going on one date with a very handsome man?”

“He's not that handsome,” Emma ran a hand through her hair.

“Now that's a lie if I've ever heard one,” Ruby cocked her eyebrow at Emma.

“Okay so he's handsome and charming in an annoying sort of way,” Emma admitted to the delight of her fellow midwives. The excited chatter was broken by the distant chiming of the clock striking midnight.

“That'll be the start of the Holy Silence,” Elsa said finishing off Ruby's braid, “We should probably get ready for bed.”

“What do you think we've been doing for the past two hours?” Belle chuckled, pinning the final curl into place. Elsa and Emma said goodnight to Ruby and Belle and walked across the hall into their room. Emma's head hit her pillow, her thoughts still racing through her mind.

“I can practically hear you thinking,” Elsa said from her bed.

“I'm just not much for dating,” Emma tried to reason, more to herself than to Elsa.

“Emma,” Elsa turned to face Emma, “You have a wall, I don't know why it's there but it is. And one thing I know about walls is that while they may keep out pain, but they also keep out love. I'm not saying you have to marry Killian, but at least be open to the idea of letting him in.”

“But what if it doesn't work out?” Emma asked, feeling more like a scared little girl than a 28 year old woman.

“Then you have all of us here to fall back on,” Elsa assured her.  

Chapter Text

Emma was in the middle of locking up her bike, exhausted after a particularly long labor, when she saw Elsa come quickly down the stairs.

“Is the Peterson baby finally coming?” Emma asked jovially.

“No it’s Liam Jones, his father just called in saying that he’s seriously ill,” Elsa said quickly as she reached her bicycle.

“What’re the symptoms?” Emma asked.

“High fever and vomiting,” Elsa explained.

“I’m going,” Emma threw a leg over her bike seat.

“What? Emma I’m the one who’s on call,” Elsa tried to reason with her.

“You also have at least 3 babies due to be born in the next week and a half and we can’t risk you catching what Liam has. I’ll go,” Emma was already backing out of her spot.

Elsa nodded at her, “He lives around the corner from the Nolans! Apartment 205! Good luck!”

Emma peddled quickly through the streets, weaving in between people on their way home from work or the market. When she reached Killian’s building she didn’t even bother locking up her bike, she raced up the stairs to flat 205 and knocked, “Nurse calling!”

The door flew open revealing a frantic Killian, “Oh thank God, come on in,” he waved her through the small flat and into Liam’s small bedroom. The boy looked very pale, his face flushed with a fever with beads of sweat dotting his forehead and upper lip. There was a bucket next to his bed that looked recently emptied and empty glasses of water on his bedstand.

“Hi Liam, can you tell me how you’re feeling?” Emma asked in a soothing voice.

“Hot,” the boy rasped out.

Emma grabbed a thermometer out of her bag and held it out, “Try to keep this under your tongue, if you think you might get sick again tell us.” Liam nodded and opened his mouth so that Emma could put the thermometer under his tongue. “How long has he been sick for?”

“It started last night but seems to have gotten worse as the day went on, he barely seems to be able to keep anything down and his fever isn’t breaking. If anything it seems to be getting worse than when it started,” Killian explained brushing the hair out of Liam’s face

“Have any other boys in Liam’s class been sick like this?” Emma asked observing the father and son.

“I don’t know, if they have then he hasn’t mentioned it to me,” Killian looked down at Liam. Emma took the thermometer out of his mouth and checked, 39 degrees definitely a fever.

“Liam, does your neck feel stiff at all?” she asked. The boy shook his head no and looked like he was about to say something before he started to wretch, Killian moved quick as lightning bringing the bucket up to his son to be sick in.

“There’s a lad, it’s okay” Killian soothed and rubbed Liam’s back until he was finished. Once Liam’s head came back up and he flopped back down onto his pillows, Killian stood the bucket in hand, “I’ll go empty this” he said a little awkwardly before heading to the bathroom down the hall.

“There was a little boy at Cub Scouts who was sick at the last meeting,” Liam said weakly, “He got sick right in the middle of rehearsals for the spring carnival and I went to help clean up.”

“Who was it who got sick?” Emma asked.

“Roland Locksley,” he answered. Emma remembered Ruby and Belle mentioning the incident a couple of days ago.

“Well it was very nice of you to try to help with the clean up, did anyone else try to help clean up the mess?”

“Nicholas tried to help but Mr. Scarlet cleaned the rest of it up and then Miss French took Roland outside to wait for his mum to pick him up,” Liam explained.

“Okay, Liam I’m going to get you a cool cloth to try to break your fever, I’ll be right back,” Emma touched his shoulder reassuringly. Liam nodded and closed his eyes, Emma got up in search of a tea towel and cold water when she ran into Killian as he came back into the flat with the bucket in hand.

“Sorry about that,” he said, scratching nervously behind his ear.

“I’m a nurse, I’ve seen worse,” Emma shrugged.

“No I meant with calling you down here; usually I can handle this or Mary Margaret will come over and help but I didn’t want to call her in case he’s contagious,” Killian explained.

“Well you made the right call, Liam has norovirus,” Emma told him.

“Is it serious?” Killian asked, his face paling slightly.

“It’s the stomach flu, he might become dehydrated so make sure to give him plenty of fluids and I would like to make sure that fever breaks but he’ll most likely be fine. But I would definitely keep him at home until after this passes, norovirus is very contagious” Emma explained.

“But he’ll be okay?” Killian asked.

“Yes,” Emma answered. He looked visibly relieved, his shoulders relaxed and his brows unknitted.

“Oh thank god,” he sighed running a hand through his thick dark hair.

“Do you have a tea towel or a washcloth? Having a cool cloth on his forehead should help break his fever,” she asked.

“Yeah right here,” he grabbed a dish towel before running cold water over it from the tap. They walked into Liam’s room together, Emma ready with a glass of water.

Killian tenderly laid the cool cloth on Liam’s feverish forehead, “Feel better lad?”

“Yeah,” Liam nodded, “I’m thirsty though.”

“Here you go,” Emma said, “Can you sit up?”

Liam carefully got up onto his elbows and reached for the water, “Careful, don’t drink it too fast you’ll get sick again,” Emma warned. She helped to tip the glass of water into the boy’s mouth making sure he took slow sips before getting her thermometer again. Liam opened his mouth obligingly and held it under his tongue; Emma checked the reading once she took it out from his mouth and saw he still had a fever but his color was slowly starting to come back.

Killian flipped the cloth on Liam’s forehead to the cooler side, the boy sighed once the damp towel came into contact with his brow.

“Thanks dad,” he sighed in relief.

“You’re welcome lad, you tired?” Killian asked him, Liam nodded his eyelids beginning to droop and yawned. Killian looked up to Emma to make sure everything was okay, she nodded and gave him a small smile. He bent down and brushed his lips against Liam’s temple, careful to not jostle the cloth from where it rested. Liam was already asleep by the time they tiptoed out of the room and into the flat’s sitting room.

“Thank you for coming here,” Killian said “I just don’t know what I would do if I lost him.”

“It’s part of my job Mr. Jones, I was happy to help,” Emma shrugged at him.

“Would you like a cup of tea perhaps? As a thank you,” he asked, scratching behind his ear.

“Thank you that would be wonderful actually, would it be okay if I stayed for a little while? I want to make sure Liam’s fever is going down before I head back to the convent,” Emma explained as she followed him into the kitchen.

“Of course, stay as long as you like,” he nodded as he filled the kettle with water from the tap and set it on the stove to boil. Emma stayed in the small sitting room, looking around the slightly cramped room. Books seemed to spill out of every available space; double stacked on bookshelves, small towers on the end tables in the sitting room, there was even a stack next to the icebox in the kitchen. Her eyes drifted to a shelf, two framed photographs connected with a rosary draped around their corners caught her eye. In one picture a man with curly hair and Killian’s nose looked out proudly wearing a Naval uniform, a Victoria Cross leaned against his frame commemorating some task of heroism. In the other frame was a woman, her hair dark and wavy and her eyes bright even in the faded photo. Emma felt as if she were looking in on something too personal, too close to both Killian and Liam’s hearts, and turned away from the shelf. On the walls were several paintings; some were landscapes, some were of the harbor, a few of the market but all of them were saturated with bright colors and nearly vibrated with energy.

“Those paintings are amazing,” Emma said as Killian handed her a mug of Earl Grey.

“Aye, Milah loved to paint,” Killian said as he stood next to her looking at one of the paintings a wistful smile on his face. “She would sometimes just sit and paint for hours if she couldn’t sleep, I remember sometimes waking up with paint or charcoal stains on the pillows if she missed a spot washing up before coming to bed.”

“She sounds like quite the woman,” Emma observed and took a long sip of tea.

“She really was,” Killian said. Emma looked to him and saw him running his thumb over a simple gold band on his ring finger, his wedding band she guessed.

“Granny filled me in on what had happened to her,” Emma admitted, “I’m sorry.”

Killian clenched his jaw and took a long sip from his mug, “After ten years of her being gone, I still never really knew how to respond when someone said that, it never feels right to say ‘it’s okay’ because it’s not. Saying ‘thank you’ just feels wrong and sometimes I just couldn’t help but get angry. Saying sorry wasn’t going to bring her back.”

“I think I can understand that,” Emma offered softly.

“Do you?” Killian turned to look at her, “Just who are you Nurse Swan?”

“Wouldn’t you like to know?” Emma responded.

“Perhaps I would,” Killian breathed. Emma became very aware of how closely they were standing, the heat from his body washing over her in waves, her breath hitched in her throat and her eyes flicked from his eyes down to his lips before she took a step back from him. “We should probably check on Liam,” she cleared her throat.

Killian looked down at his feet, his ears turning pink, “Aye, lead the way love,” he nodded. Emma walked quickly into Liam’s room where the boy shifted in his sleep when they came in but didn’t wake up, Killian came up to the side of the bed and placed his hand on his son’s cheek and neck. “He still feels warm but not as hot as he has been all day,”

“Well that’s good, you stay here I’ll refill his water,” Emma said quickly grabbing the empty class on the nightstand. She set the glass under the tap in the kitchen, bracing herself against the countertop and took a deep breath. She didn’t know what to make of it but she and Killian had definitely just had a moment and she had no idea how to handle it. She jumped when she felt water running over her hands, the glass started to overflow while she was lost in her panicked thoughts. Emma turned off the tap and brought the glass back to the bedroom, setting it back down on the nightstand.

“I think his fever’s going down,” Killian whispered so he wouldn’t wake his slumbering son, “Thank you so much Emma.”

“You’re welcome,” she smiled softly at him, “I suppose I should probably be heading back to the convent then since things seem to be looking up here.”

“Aye, I’ll walk you out then,” Killian rose from the side of his son’s bed carefully. Emma gathered up her bag and they walked together down to her bike. “Interesting color for a bicycle,” he noted the bright yellow color.

“What can I say, I like yellow,” Emma shrugged as she put her bag in the basket.

“It suits you,” he rocked back onto his heels, his hands in his pockets. Emma saw his eyes flick towards her lips for half a second.

“Thank you, now keep Liam in bed for at least 48 hours after his last vomiting spell and be sure he drinks plenty of water so he doesn’t get dehydrated. I would also advize keeping him away from friends and especially Mary Margaret and the baby since norovirus is very contagious,” Emma advised before shivering slightly as a nightly breeze passed over them.

“Are you cold?”

“I’m fine,” Emma tried to wave it off but Killian was already shucking off his jacket and handing it to her.

“I insist, I can’t let the woman who helped care for my son catch a chill on her way home. What kind of gentleman would I be?”

Emma took the jacket, the leather soft and worn beneath her fingertips, and put it on. The scent of leather, salt, and a faint hint of rum engulfed her as she wrapped the slightly too big jacket around her frame, “Thank you, I’ll be sure to get it back to you as soon as I can.”

“Take your time, it looks better on you,” he smirked and reached out to pull her hair out from under the jacket so it fell over the collar. Tingles ran down her spine from where his fingers accidentally brushed against her neck. She saw his eyes dart down to her lips and back to her eyes and she was struck again by how closely they were standing. All it would take is one of them leaning forward an inch or two for their lips to meet. Emma felt her body start to sway closer to his but stopped herself, gripping tight to the handlebars of her bike.

“Remember, plenty of fluids for Liam,” she said quickly stepping away from him.

“Right, I’ll be sure to get on that,” Killian breathed, his eyes blown wide, “Have a safe ride back Nurse Swan.”

“Thank you Mr. Jones,” Emma nodded and threw a leg over her bike and peddled away, the cool air whipping her face and cooling her hot cheeks.

Chapter Text

Emma wrapped the jacket tighter around her frame, protecting herself against the chill as she browsed the market looking for something for lunch at the convent, preferably something Granny wouldn’t make a fuss about. Passing over the beets with a slight wrinkle of her nose, Emma looked up to see Mary Margaret pushing her pram with Leo sitting up and pointing to the different vendors.

“Nurse Swan!” she called and started walking towards Emma excitedly, “It’s been so long since I’ve seen you.”

“It’s good to see you too Mrs. Nolan,” Emma smiled, the woman’s enthusiasm was becoming infectious. “How have  you been? Little Leo here seems to be doing great.”

“He’s wonderful,” Mary Margaret looked adoringly at her son before looking back to Emma. She did a double take, her eyes sweeping over Emma before saying “Correct me if I’m wrong, but is that Killian’s jacket?”

Emma felt her cheeks grow hot and she tucked a lock of hair behind her ear, “H-How did you know?”

“I’ve fixed the zipper on this jacket more times than I can count, I’d know it anywhere,” Mary Margaret smirked. “And I know that there are very few people Killian would loan that jacket to, you happen to be one of them.”

Emma opened her mouth trying to search for something to say, “I was merely helping him while Liam had a bout of the stomach flu and he offered it before I went home.”

“Right Killian told me about that, that was two weeks ago now wasn’t it?” Mary Margaret raised a knowing eyebrow at her.

“I just haven’t had the time, I’ve been up to my ears in babies lately,” Emma tried to reason.

“Mm-hmm” Mary Margaret looked knowingly at her, “Well I do know that Killian has the afternoon off and that he’s been anxiously awaiting the return of his jacket.”

“Right well thank you for letting me know but I should probably get going back to Antioch House,” Emma said quickly, “Have a good day Mrs. Nolan.”

“Wait,” the new mother said, catching Emma’s arm, “I know I may be a bit overbearing, but I just want to see people happy. I’ve known Killian my whole life and I’ve known you ever since I came into the clinic and you told me I was expecting. The both of you deserve so much more happiness in this life and I think you both can be very happy together.”

Emma was taken aback by the honesty in Mary Margaret’s words, the urge to run back to the convent and to run to Killian’s door was overwhelming her. She wasn’t sure which way she would end up going.

“Just think about it?” Mary Margaret asked.

Emma nodded, still searching for the right words to say, “I will, thank you Mrs. Nolan.”

“You’re welcome Nurse Swan,” Mary Margaret smiled brightly at her before walking off into the market. Emma stood for a moment running the hem of the sleeve of the jacket between her fingers lost in thought. The breeze picked up, carrying the scent of the nearby harbor to her nose. It was comforting and familiar in a way that his jacket was too; she made up her mind.

“Ahh Nurse Swan, to what do we owe the pleasure of your visit?” Killian asked when he opened the door to his flat.

“I was in the neighborhood and I thought I’d check in on Liam to see how he’s feeling,” Emma said calmly.

“He’s doing very well actually he’s out playing football with his friends, now do you usually just drop in for surprise visits out of uniform?” Killian’s eyes flicked over Emma’s sweater and dungarees.

Emma blushed slightly, “I also thought I might return this to you.” Emma shrugged off his jacket and handed it to him her courage building in her chest.

“You don’t need to-” Killian started.

“And I’m here to ask you out.”

Killian dropped the jacket to the floor in surprise, a smile stretching across his face and revealing a pair of dimples, “Shouldn’t I be the one asking you out?”

“I didn’t know you’d be so old fashioned; you know they’re saying times are changing,” Emma cocked an eyebrow towards him.

“I suppose I should get with the times then, but on one condition. I plan the date,” Killian grinned at her.

“I guess that’s fair, how’s Friday night?” Emma asked.

“That works for me,” Killian took her hand and kissed the knuckle, “Until Friday Swan.”

“I’ll see you then, but I really should be getting back to the convent. They won’t eat lunch until everyone who can is there,” Emma explained.

“Well I could hardly live with myself if I kept the sisters waiting,” he chuckled.

“Yeah, so Friday then?”

“I can’t wait,” Killian bit his lip and watched her walk back down the hallway before picking up his jacket and heading back inside, feeling like the luckiest bastard that had ever walked the earth.


 

Friday came and Emma sat on Belle’s bed while Ruby helped her get ready for the date, “Thanks for painting my nails Ruby, I’ve always been rubbish at it.”

“It just takes a steady hand and an enormous amount of patience,” Ruby concentrated on painting Emma’s left pinky nail, “There we go, now wait for those to dry before running off.”

“Do you know what you two are doing tonight?” Belle asked.

“I don’t know yet, he’s determined to keep it a surprise,” Emma said, blowing on her nails in an effort to get them to dry faster. There was a knock on the door before Sister Ingrid let herself in.

“Nurse Swan, a moment please?” the nun asked, her eyes downcast and posture stiff.

“Yes Sister?” Emma rose from the bed and followed her out into the hall. “What’s this all about?”

“I had just received word that Mr. Jones has been rushed to the London after an accident at work,” Sister Ingrid said.

“What happened?” Emma asked.

“I don’t know how to put this gently but his left hand was crushed in a machine, it doesn’t seem likely that they will be able to save it. I’m so deeply sorry Emma,” the older woman placed a hand on Emma’s shoulder.

Emma stood there stunned, letting the news wash over her, her thoughts running a mile a minute. “His son, Liam, is he okay? Does he know?”

“Yes, he’s staying with his aunt and uncle tonight. They’ll be bringing him to see his father tomorrow during hospital visiting hours.”

“I have to go, I have to get over there,” she said. Emma ran down the stairs, ignoring Sister Ingrid as she called her name. She hopped on a bus and ran up the steps to the hospital as fast as her legs could carry her.

“Miss visiting hours are almost over!” a young nurse called as Emma burst through the doors.

“I’ll only be a minute,” Emma called over her shoulder in her most commanding voice, one that was usually reserved for overly pushy husbands who seemed to like a bottle of scotch more than their wives. She found Killian in a bed at the end of the hall, blankets pulled up to his shoulders and his hair mussed.

“Hello beautiful,” he smiled at her as she pulled up a chair, “What are you doing here?”

“Well we agreed to have a date tonight,” Emma said matter of factly.

“Aye, but this isn’t exactly what I had planned for you,” he groaned, “I was going to take you dancing.”

“Well maybe we can go a different time?” Emma smiled.

“No, you deserve someone whole to dance with; a hand not a bloody stump to lead you with,” Killian shook his head.

“I don’t care,” Emma said, “I don’t care about any of that.”

Killian squeezed his eyes shut and sighed deeply, “Emma what the hell am I going to do? I have Liam to look after and raise and he just got into a good private school. I can’t make him go to the grammar school when he worked so hard to get in.”

“It’ll be okay,” Emma tried to sooth him.

“Will it? Emma I need both hands to work, and I’m no fool about what it means to be Irish and living in the East End. Hell the only way I was able to get that flat in the first place was because Mary Margaret put in the good word for me, and there is no doubt in my mind that the landlord would throw us out on the street the moment he can. God how the hell am I even going to take care of my son?”

“Hey listen to me,” Emma place her hand on his shoulder, waiting until his eyes met hers. “You are not going to be alone in this; you have David, you have Mary Margaret, you have the district nurses, and you have me.”

Killian returned her gaze, “Aye love, that I do,” he smiled softly at her before wincing in pain.

“What is it?” Emma asked.

“Just my hand, feels like it’s on fire,” he said through gritted teeth. Emma knew instantly which ‘hand’ he was talking about, she bit her lip and looked around.

“Do you want me to get the nurse?”

“No, we don’t need her interrupting our date do we?” Killian smiled through the pain. Emma reached forward and placed her hand on his elbow, her fingers trailing down to his wrist. “Swan you don’t have to-”

“I want to,” Emma whispered as her fingers lightly traced where his bandages started. A beat of silence passed as they gazed into each other’s eyes, Killian’s tongue darted out to wet his lips and he nodded. He shifted slightly and pressed his residual arm into her comforting touch.  

Emma sat with him and they talked until the young nurse at the front of the ward went and got an older matron who was adamant that Killian needed to rest.

“I’d better get going before she hauls me out then,” Emma said rising from her chair.

“Aye, we should do this again sometime. But perhaps without one of us being in the hospital?”

“I think I would like that,” Emma smiled at him. He took her hand in his and raised it to his lips, lightly pressing a kiss to her knuckle.

“Until we see each other again, good night Swan,” he grinned at her. Emma picked up her coat and bag and walked out of the ward, only stopping once she made it to the end of the hall. She leaned against the wall and let out a slow breath, the knot in her chest that had been present ever since Sister Ingrid told her about the accident tightening and loosening. In the vast realm of things Emma had seen in her days as a district nurse and midwife, this was not the worst she had ever seen. But this hit her with much more force than she could ever have foreseen.


 

Two weeks had passed since Killian was discharged from the hospital and added to the district roster, Emma went to the flat most days to help him change the bandages on his stump and adjust to his new normal. They had agreed that for the time being they would put dating on hold until he was settled. For his part Killian tried to keep a brave face on, especially in front of Liam, but Emma could see the pain and the frustration in his eyes as he learned how to do things one-handed. It was the flash of anger in his eyes when he fumbled with the buttons of his shirt or the clench of his jaw when he poured over the newspaper for a job.

“I can’t just sit at home like a damn bump on a log, those disability subsidies only cover so much and they sure as shit don’t cover new shoes or private school uniforms,” he had told her when she had asked him about it. Liam had thankfully qualified for a scholarship that covered his tuition and books, that had been a huge weight lifted off of Killian’s shoulders.

The day had come when Killian would get his prosthetic, a simple hook that would allow for some use of his left arm. Emma came to the flat after he had returned from the hospital where they had fitted it to his residual limb and shown him how to care for it.

“Hello love,” he said waving in her direction with the hook as she came in, “Fancy some tea?”

“Sure, I’ll put the kettle on,” Emma said as she walked into the kitchen.

“No no, I got it. I can handle making some tea,” he said with a smile that didn’t quite meet his eyes. Emma sat down at the small kitchen table and watched as he carefully filled the kettle and set it on the stove, “See? Got it all handled.”

“That’s great,” Emma smiled, “You seem to be adjusting well.”

“Always been a quick study,” he said smugly as he pried the top off of the tea tin and set two bags in the teapot. He then took the whistling kettle off the stove and poured the water into the pot, “One sugar or two?”

“Two please.”

Killian got up and grabbed the sugar bowl and placed it in front of her along with the teapot, “Whoops forgot the spoon.” He got up to get a teaspoon out of a drawer, opening it with his hook, he smiled and turned to sit back down at the table when he accidentally pulled the drawer out of its hole. Silverware flew out of the drawer and clattered to the floor while the drawer swung back and forth from his hook.

“Bloody buggering fuck! ” he yelled and tried to flick the drawer of his hook. When it stubbornly refused to get off he took it and threw it down onto the floor where it shattered.

“Hey hey hey hey Killian,” Emma got up and hurried to his side, “It was just an accident, a new prosthetic is going to take some time getting used to.”

“I don’t have time to adjust! I have to be a bloody parent, I have to find a bloody new job, and I can’t bloody well keep depending on other people.”

Emma took a deep breath to try to find the right words to say in this situation, “I know that this is hard-”

“Do you? Do you really understand what it’s like to lose a part of yourself in a stupid accident and have to relearn everything?”

“Well no, you’re right,” Emma admitted. Killian looked up, “I have no clue how you must be feeling or how you have been dealing with this. What I do know is that you can make it through this and that you will have people who are happy to help you along the way.”

Killian stood rooted to the ground and looked at the scattered silverware, his eyes growing misty, “I’m sorry Swan, I’m so sorry.”

“It’s okay, believe it or not but that’s not the worst thing I’ve seen while on call,” Emma smirked at him. Killian cracked a small but genuine smile and gathered her into his arms for a hug. Emma rested her head on his shoulder his now familiar scent nearly overwhelming her.

“Thank you,” he whispered into her hair.

Chapter Text

Ruby came into the bedroom she shared with Belle, exhausted after a long day of rounds, to find Belle tearfully organizing her new library books on her nightstand.

“What’s wrong?” Ruby asked coming to her side.

“I ran into Killian and Liam at the library, I hadn’t seen him since the accident and it’s just a lot to take in and process,” Belle said wiping her eyes. Ruby felt a shameful flame of jealousy flare up her spine. “He’s doing well thank god and Liam seems to be enjoying his new school.”

“Mhmm” Ruby nodded as she sat on her bed and stretched out.

“I’ve been looking into all the current research of prosthetic care to give to him and Emma, you know there have been some amazing advancements in prosthesis lately,” Belle said, picking up a large volume and turning the pages furiously, “I mean, some are starting to look so lifelike.”

“Fascinating,” Ruby sighed.

“And he’s so good with Liam, he’s more concerned with his son’s well being and education than he is with his hand. He’s the most dedicated person I know.”

“He’s probably not dedicated to you,” Ruby muttered under her breath.

“What was that?” Belle asked, knowing exactly what Ruby had just said.

“Nothing,” Ruby said quickly, she felt her cheeks grow hot.

“What do you mean that Killian’s ‘not dedicated to me’? Why would he be?” Belle asked crossing her arms defensively.

“I mean, he’s clearly dedicated to Emma at this point,” Ruby shrugged nonchalantly.

“And what exactly is that supposed to mean? You think I like Killian?”

Ruby’s jaw dropped, “What? No I just- I think-” she stuttered trying to find the right words to say as Belle crossed the room to stand in front of her.

“Because Killian is just my friend and definitely not my type right now; he has not enough of some things and frankly too much of others,” Belle snapped. Ruby could have sworn Belle’s eyes dipped down to her lips; she mentally shook herself, there was no chance that Belle felt the the same way for her.

“I just- I didn’t mean,” Ruby stumbled over her words.

“Forget it,” Belle said, stomping out of the room and slamming the door behind her. Ruby fell back onto her bed, scrubbing her hand over her face.

Belle refused to talk to her for the rest of the evening, remaining quiet at dinner and then choosing to spend the rest of her time before bed in the lounge with a book.

“Is everything okay between you two?” Elsa asked as she went up the stairs with Ruby.

“We’re fine, what makes you ask?” Ruby said quickly.

“You two just seem more distant than usual, I mean you can practically have a whole conversation with each other without saying a single word to each other. But at dinner it seemed like every time she looked at you, you were looking away and every time you looked at her she was looking down at her plate,” Elsa explained. Ruby bit down on her lip, her feelings swirling around her as she tried to sort them out. “Take it from me, it’s best if you open up and talk about whatever it is that is coming between you. I know it can be scary but it will make you two so much closer.”

Ruby sucked in her breath and looked at Elsa nervously, did she know that she preferred women to men? Did Elsa know how she felt about Belle?

“I’ll think about it,” Ruby said carefully before bidding Elsa goodnight. She got ready for bed and waited for Belle to come back in. She must have fallen into a doze because she jerked awake when Belle quietly opened the door to their room.

“Sorry,” Belle muttered, ever polite even when she was rightfully angry. Ruby sat up and took a deep breath.

“No I’m sorry,” Ruby sighed and drew her knees up to her chest, “I don’t know why I said what I said to you earlier.”

Belle sat down on the bed next to her, “That’s okay, I just want to know why me being worried about my friend made you lash out like that.”

“I don’t know,” Ruby took a deep breath gathering all her courage, “I guess I may have been a little jealous.”

“Jealous of Killian? Why would you- oh,” Belle said, realization spreading over her face.

“Look I know it’s wrong and you don’t feel the same way about me but please just don’t tell-” Ruby started but was cut off by Belle leaning forward and pressing her lips to hers. Ruby stilled for a moment, stunned by the turn of events, before returning the kiss and threading her fingers through Belle’s hair.

“Is this really happening?” Ruby whispered against Belle’s lips.

Belle smiled and nodded. “I can’t believe it either,” she said before Ruby captured her lips. The two of them traded kisses back and forth, still reveling in their shared feelings as they both laid back on the small bed. Belle rested her head against Ruby’s shoulder, Ruby’s arms wrapped around her, both of them taking a breather.

“When did you know? That we were attracted to other women?” Ruby asked, burrowing her nose into Belle’s wavy hair.

“I don’t know, I’ve been attracted to men for as long as I can remember and women too but I always tried to tell myself that I was just appreciating beauty. That I couldn’t possibly be attracted to them too, that is until I met Merida. My father and I took a trip up to Scotland when I was about 14 and she had this mess of red curls and big brown eyes that I wanted to stare into for days. She ended up being my first kiss and from then on I couldn’t denying it to myself any longer.” Belle said wistfully, “When did you know?”

“Well first there was Mulan, her family lived down the street from mine when we were children. We used to experiment with each other until her family had to move back to China. Then during the war she was an American nurse who came over to care for her country’s wounded before they were well enough to be sent back home. Her name was Dorothy but I took to calling her Kansas. You know how it was back in those times, never really sure if you would make it to next week let alone to see the end of the war. There was an air raid and we both managed to get ourselves locked in a closet and I thought ‘it’s now or never’ and I just kissed her. Thank god she was also like us; we were able to see each other for a while until suddenly it was V.E. Day and she was needed back at her home in order to take care of her sick aunt. I was probably the saddest woman in London that day. We still send each other the occasional letter to catch up.”

“She sounds fantastic,” Belle said before kissing Ruby on the cheek. Her face turned thoughtful, “Ruby how are we going to make this work? We live in a convent for Christ’s sake.”

“I don’t know,” Ruby clutched at Belle tighter, “But maybe so long as we’re discreet we’ll be okay. After all, what’s better than gals being pals?”

Belle giggled before Ruby pounced on her lips again, they could worry about the finer details tomorrow, for tonight they wanted to enjoy each other.

Chapter Text

Emma checked the chart Ruby had just handed her to see who was up next to see her for Tuesday Clinic, “Ava Zimmer?” she called out. She looked up to see two children walking towards her, their clothes threadbare and stained, the 8 year old boy’s hair looked as if it hadn’t been washed in several days.

“My brother, Nicholas, has got a bad cough,” the little girl of about 10, presumably Ava, said. As if on cue, Nicholas coughed hard into his hand.

“Okay, we can take a look at him, is your mother here by any chance?” Emma asked, ushering the two of them into a partitioned off examination area.

“She’s dead,” Ava said frankly, Emma had to stop herself from reaching out her hand to try to comfort her.

She knew Ava wouldn’t take it, “And your father?”

“He’s at work,” Ava answered quickly. Emma nodded and gestured for Nicholas to sit on the examination table and pressed her stethoscope to his back. He was very thin, Emma could feel his ribs through his clothes and hear a slight rattle when he exhaled.

“Nicholas, have you also had a sore throat at all?” Emma asked. He nodded his head and sniffled.

“He says his throat hurts too much to speak, that’s why I brought him in,” Ava explained. Emma grabbed a tongue depressor to check the boy’s throat, finding red and swollen vocal chords.

“Well, it’s a good thing you brought him in today. He seems to have a case of laryngitis, it’s been going around. I can give you a kit with everything you’ll need if you would like,” Emma explained as she gave her chart a last read through. “And I see here that you qualify for milk tokens and rosehip syrup courtesy of the national health.”

“So, if you just leave one of these tickets, the milk man will give us some milk for free?” she asked Emma.

“That’s about right yeah, and then once you run out of tickets you can come back here and get some more,” Emma said.
“But we don’t have one of those metal baskets that other people do,” Ava said, handing the packet of milk tickets back.

“That doesn’t matter, I’m sure the milk man can figure out where to put the milk on the stoop without a basket. So long as you put out your ticket the night before the milkman would be happy to leave you some milk,” Emma gently pushed the tickets back into Ava’s hand.

“Like Father Christmas?” Nicholas croaked. Emma looked down to see some excitement and wonder still in the boy’s eyes. Emma felt a strong tug on her heart as she knelt down to look him in the eye.

“Exactly like Father Christmas, now try not to talk too much so that your throat can heal quickly okay?”

Nicholas nodded his head enthusiastically and turned to his sister ready to go, “Thank you nurse,” Ava called over her shoulder as they walked out of the clinic.

“Thank god they’re gone, they look as if they live on a damn stoop. Who knows what they could have got on them?” Emma overheard a mother say to the woman sitting next to her.

“Some people only have a stoop,” Emma spat out before she could stop herself. She walked angrily to the backroom and slammed her hands down on the rim of the sink. She took a deep breath through her nose, her knuckles turning white as she gripped the sink and tried to stop the flood of memories coming towards her; the cold, the dampness, the hunger. The smell that permeated her nostrils, the smell she had thought she’d never be able to scrub out of her skin. The hunger that made her feel as if she would never be full.

“Emma are you alright?” a voice said behind her. Emma turned to see Elsa clutching a box of beakers that needed sanitizing.

“Yeah I’m fine,” Emma said quickly before trying to brush past her, Elsa caught her elbow.

“Emma wait,” she said, “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing, Elsa, I swear, now I have to get back out there. We’re crawling with mothers and babies today,” Emma shook her head.

“Okay, just know if you need to talk about it, I’m here.”

Emma nodded at her, slightly touched, before heading back out into the waiting area to lose herself in the hustle and bustle of Tuesday clinic.


“Well fancy seeing you here, love,” Killian said brightly as she peddled towards him at their bench on the docks. They had taken to meeting there during Emma’s lunch breaks and in between Killian’s job search.

“They had Scotch Eggs at the convent today and I snagged you an extra if you’d like,” Emma offered as she sat down.

“You are a savior, you know,” he said taking the food from her.

“How’s the job search coming?” she asked, taking a bite from her sandwich.

“It’s looking up actually, the old harbor master here is retiring and is going to pick his successor. It’s a desk job so my accident won’t count against me and I had a good rapport with old Petey,” Killian said, his eyes shining with hope.

“That’s great!” Emma tried to smile at him, it didn’t quite reach her eyes.

“Is everything okay Swan? Something on your mind?” he tilted her chin up to meet his eyes.

“Yeah I’m fine, I just- there were two kids who came into the clinic today,” Emma swallowed thickly.

“Were they alright?”

“Yeah, well the boy Nicholas will be if he gets the right kind of care at home, but I don’t know that he is. Killian, both of those kids looked as if they were living in the streets, has Liam ever mentioned an Ava or Nicholas Zimmer before?”

Killian furrowed his brow in concentration, shaking his head, “Not that I can remember, maybe a handful of times he mentioned a Nicholas that had been in his early classes, but not recently.”

“It’s so odd, I tried looking for any record of them and I could only find their birth certificates. No address, no school, nothing.”

“Well I’ll keep an eye out and I’ll tell some other people to keep watch out for the both of them. I hate the idea of the two of them out on their own,” Killian placed a reassuring hand on her back, rubbing in small soothing circles. Emma drew away from him, wrapping her arms around herself, her eyes fixated on the water in front of them

“I just hope someone finds them soon,” Emma whispered.


 

The knock on the door echoed throughout the convent, Emma marked her place in her book before going to open the door. She found Constable Graham standing on the stoop, both hands keeping hold of Ava and Nicholas, the girl seemed determined to stamp on his feet and escape his grip.

“Let go of me!” she yelled before letting out a frustrated sigh.

“Constable, what’s going on?” Emma asked, immediately kneeling down to get a good look at Nicholas. The poor boy seemed paler than he had when he came into the clinic a few days ago.

“Caught these two trying to steal food from the corner shop and when I tried bringing them back to their home it was boarded up. Turns out they’ve been squatting in a condemned building with no food or water and the boy is looking more than a bit peaky,” Graham explained.

“Can you open wide for me hon?” Emma asked, placing her hands on his neck and feeling swollen lymph nodes. Nicholas obliged and opened his mouth, Emma saw the white spots on his tonsils. “Strep, I should have known sooner. Has there been any sign of their father?”

“I’m right here! You don’t have to talk like I’m not even here!” Ava said angrily.

“I’m sorry Ava, you’re right. Can you  please tell me where your father is?” Emma pleaded.

“He’s working,” Ava folded her arms in front of her chest, her worried eyes on Nicholas.

“Where? He should know what’s wrong with your brother,” Emma placed a hand to Nicholas’s feverish forehead.

“I don’t know where,” Ava cried, “He just leaves us and tells us he’ll be back in a few days. I don’t know where he goes or what he’s doing and he’s been gone for longer this time.”

Emma looked up at Graham and she saw the same cold anger she felt reflected in his eyes. There was no way around it, these children had been neglected and abandoned, but their father could be dealt with later. These children needed a bath, a hot meal, and a warm bed so that Nicholas could recover.

“It’s okay Ava, you and Nicholas can stay here for a few days while we find your dad,” Emma soothed, “Constable, how about you escort them both into the kitchen and I’ll find some help?”

“Very well, Nurse Swan,” Graham nodded and led Nicholas and Ava to the kitchen as Emma raced upstairs to find Belle in her room.

“Tell Granny and Sister Nova to fire up the cleansing station and do you know if we have any penicillin antibiotics on hand?” Emma said quickly.

“The cleansing stations?” Belle’s eyebrows shot up in shock before getting up from her bed and following Emma to the nuns’ rooms. Soon Emma, Belle, Sister Nova, and Granny were leading both children down to a dark room under the parish hall, two rows of bathtubs sat in the center of the room and the tables and benches that sat around the perimeter of the room

“What are all of these?” Ava asked, eyeing the tubs nervously.

“These will help get you and your brother nice and clean. I’m afraid that after our recent rummage sale we don’t have many clothes for you now but, if you want, I can ride over to your house and get some clean clothes, if you would like?” Emma asked, threading her fingers through the girl’s hair.

“These are all we have,” Ava looked down at her feet.

“That’s okay, I’m sure we can find you something,” Emma rubbed soothing circles on Ava’s back, “Now will it be okay if I go out and find you and Nicholas something to wear? I promise I will back as fast as I can.”

Ava bit her lip but looked up at Emma and nodded, “We’ll be okay.”

Emma nodded at her and pushed her in the direction of Granny. “Come here child,” Granny smiled, reaching out her hand for Ava’s, “Let’s get you cleaned up.”

Emma went back up to the street and grabbed her bicycle, pedaling quickly towards Killian’s.

“Hi Emma!” Liam greeted her when he opened the door of the flat.

“Hi Liam, is you dad around?” Emma asked as she stepped in.

“Yeah, I’ll grab him for ya, Dad?” Liam called back. Killian came striding into the living room, surprised to see Emma.

“Swan? Did we have plans tonight?” his hand reached up to scratch at his ear, embarrassed by the potential lapse in memory.

“No, I just needed to ask you something, you and Liam actually.”

“What it is love?”

“Do you have any of Liam’s old clothes still? Stuff that he’s grown out of? Shirts, pants, pajamas anything?” Emma asked.

“Yeah we should be able to find a few things, Liam why don’t you go to your room and get a head start?” Killian nodded to his son, his eyes still trained on Emma. Liam nodded and went off to his room, the opening and closing of drawers could be heard. “Emma what’s going on?” Killian asked, his dark features painted with concern.

“It’s just, two kids were taken into the convent today, and Killian, they do not look good. They’ve suffered a serious case of parental neglect. I just want to give them something clean and new to sleep in for the night before we need to decide what needs to happen next,” Emma said, her calm demeanor falling away as she spoke. Killian stepped forward and wrapped his arms around her.

“We’ll find something love, and I’m sure you will find a way to help those kids to the best of your abilities,” he whispered into her hair.

“How do you know?” Emma asked, overwhelmed by his confidence in her.

“Because I’ve yet to see you fail.”

Emma felt her breath catch in her chest, she opened her mouth to say something, anything, when she heard Liam’s returning footsteps. Emma took a step back out of Killian’s arms and took a deep calming breath.

“I wasn’t sure how much you needed but I was able to find a few things,” Liam said, holding out an armful of clothes to her. Emma spied a few shirts and trousers in the pile and was touched by the boy’s generosity.

“Thank you Liam, these will work out perfectly,” Emma smiled warmly, taking the clothes from him. She stood up and locked eyes with Killian and he nodded encouragingly at her.

“See you soon, Swan?” he asked.

“Definitely, sorry to dash out but I promised-”

“It’s all right, we understand,” Killian assured her. Emma gave them both a small smile before heading back down to her bike, clothes in hand, and pedaled back to the parish hall.

It took a few days for Nicholas’s strep throat to clear completely and to get his voice back. Now that he was healthy and had a few good meals in him, he proved to be a boisterous and excitable boy who liked to play. Emma was in the middle of playing with him with some old toy cars that Granny was able to dig up, when Sister Ingrid pulled her aside.

“Nurse Swan, I have some news for you,” she said gently. She clasped her hands together as if saying a quick prayer before she continued, “Constable Graham still has not been able to find their father and, as lovely as it has been having them around, we simply do not have the resources available to have them stay much longer. Now, there is an organization that will relocate the both of them to Australia where they can be out in the sun-”

“No, absolutely not,” Emma shook her head definitively, “I’ve heard things, terrible things, about the kids who are shipped off overseas. I cannot stand by and let that happen to Ava and Nicholas. If Graham can’t find their father, then maybe I can.”

“Nurse Swan, you have 5 mothers due in the next 2 weeks. When would you have the time to track down their father? Plus, finding him wouldn’t mean that he would be able to keep Nicholas and Ava, he’s guilty of child neglect and abandonment at this point, if he doesn’t end up in jail, then he at the very least would have his parental rights terminated,” Sister Ingrid explained, “I think it’s best for right now to think of what is best for Nicholas and Ava.”

“Well, what’s best for them is to not be shipped off to Australia, please Sister Ingrid we cannot do that to them,” Emma pleaded.

“Very well then, we will try our best to have them placed in a home together,” Sister

Ingrid placed a reassuring hand on Emma’s shoulder.

Sister Ingrid kept her word and was able to find a family willing to foster both Ava and Nicholas together in Cambridge. The day came for them to leave, their foster family elected to come pick them up from Storybrooke. Emma stayed inside packing away their few belongings into a suitcase and fighting back tears.

“I thought you would have wanted to say goodbye,” she heard a soft voice say from behind her. Emma turned to see Ava standing in the doorway.

“I do, I was just packing up your things to make sure you had everything. Shouldn’t you be outside meeting your new foster parents?”

“I was but I wanted you to be there too,” Ava said, nervously tucking a lock of hair behind her ear. Emma felt a pull on her heart as she turned and knelt down and pulled Ava into a hug. Ava hugged her tight, Emma felt a tiny sob escape the girl’s chest as Ava buried her face in her neck.

“Oh Ava,” Emma sighed tightening her grip, “Everything will be okay.”

“I just- you were the first person to pay attention, to notice us,” Ava cried, her defensive shield coming down completely. Emma blinked as her eyes filled with tears, “Promise you’ll still write to us?”

“Of course I will,” Emma pulled back to look at the girl’s face. Ava had tears welling up in her eyes and Emma wiped away the ones on her cheeks with her thumb, “So long as you promise to write me back.”

“I promise. Thank you so much Emma,” Ava smiled through her tears. Emma smiled back and got to her feet.

She held out her hand for Ava to take, she slid her fingers between Emma’s and held on tight. “You ready?” Emma asked.

“I guess,” Ava nodded and they walked hand in hand out to her new foster family. As they walked down the stairs, Nicholas ran up to them.

“Ava we get to ride in a car!” he said practically bouncing up and down on the balls of his feet.

“Well that’s exciting!” Emma chuckled and ruffled his hair.

“Did you pack my cars?” he asked, pointing to the suitcase in Emma’s hand.

“Sure did,” Emma answered before looking up at his new foster parents, who smiled warmly at her. “Why don’t you ask your new foster parents if they’ll play with you when you get to your new home?” She pushed him gently in their direction, relieved to see their warm smiles and bright eyes as Nicholas ran up to them. Ava hung back, taking a small step closer to Emma and holding tighter to her hand.

“You okay?” Emma asked.

“I think I will be,” she nodded, still eyeing her foster parents nervously but started walking towards them, dragging Emma along. The man and woman seemed nice enough, as Emma approached her alarm bells remained silent as the woman stepped forward to introduce herself and her husband. She knelt down to get to Ava’s eye level and smiled, she radiated warmth, “Hello there, I’m Ellie and that is my husband, Carl. It is so nice to meet you Ava.”

“It’s nice to meet you too,” Ava said apprehensively.

“Do you want to know what Carl does for work?” Ellie asked. Ava nodded curiously. “He sells balloons at the zoo I work at, doesn’t that sound fun?”

Ava’s face brightened up, a wide smile stretching across her face as she nodded enthusiastically, “Can we go with you guys tomorrow?”

“Of course you can,” Ellie chuckled and stood up to see Carl helping Nicholas get into their car. Ava ran over to join them, Ellie hung back with Emma taking the suitcase from her.

“Thank you for this,” Ellie said gratefully.

“Thank you for giving them their best chance,” Emma nodded at her.

“You know my husband and I tried for many year to have a child, now we have two. I like to think of it as we’re all getting a good chance at starting a new adventure as a family. Have a good day Nurse Swan” Ellie smiled and walked over to the car and put the suitcase in the trunk before joining her family in the car. Emma watched as they drove away, waving when she saw Ava and Nicholas turnaround to get a last glimpse of Storybrooke. She watched as the car turned a corner, she took a shuddering breath once they disappeared from view.


“I thought I’d find you here,” a familiar Irish brogue said from behind her. Emma turned and saw Killian striding towards her, the wind mussing his hair. “Are you alright?”

“I’ve had better days,” she answered and turned back to the harbour, watching the ships move across the water.

“Those kids, the ones who needed the clothes, they went to their new foster family today didn’t they?” he asked as he took a seat on the bench next to her.

“How did you know?”

“You’ve become something of an open book to me,” he shrugged, “So how did things go?”

“They got lucky, their foster parents seem wonderful,” Emma said, willing the tears threatening to fall to stay where they were.

“There’s more to it, isn’t there?” Killian asked, softly encouraging her.

Emma took a deep breath, “I was like them when I was a child, actually I was in foster care since I was a baby. Some homes were better than others but there was one place I was in and I might as well have been living on the streets with the care they gave me. I remember being so hungry and just willing myself not to cry so my foster father wouldn’t slap me. He hated it if we cried, so we had to keep putting on a brave face. I just hoped that someone, anyone, would notice and just ask me if I was okay and at the same time praying that they didn’t so I wouldn’t end up somewhere even worse. But no one ever did anything; I was just a lost little girl who didn’t matter and didn’t think I never would.”

“Emma,” Killian breathed before raising his hand to her cheek so gently, his thumb brushing away her tears with care, “If I could rub out all of that unhappiness, if I could take every scrap of sadness out of you, I would. But you have grown into a bold, generous, and kind woman and I consider it the ultimate privilege to have gotten to know you in these past few weeks. You are more than what has happened to you, so much more. And you matter, you matter so much to everyone you come in contact with.”

“Do you mean that?” Emma asked breathlessly.

“Aye,” he nodded, his eyes not leaving hers. Emma leaned in slowly and pressed her lips to his, Killian responded by moving his hand from her cheek to threading it through her hair and pulling her closer. The kiss was soft but no less filled with passion as Emma’s own hand anchored itself at the nape of his neck, her fingers playing with the dark hair there. Time seemed to stand still, the noise of the harbor melting away until it was only them; their lips fused together, noses brushing, and hands exploring. Emma would always carry the weight of her past with her, but it felt considerably lighter now that Killian could share the weight.

Chapter Text

“Now, Mrs. Fredrickson, what can we do for you?” Sister Ingrid asked as she set the tea tray down in front of the well dressed blonde woman.

“Oh just call me Abigail,” the woman smiled before reaching for a cup of tea, “But I wanted to talk to you about the possibility of changing up the usual fundraising carnival. Don’t get me wrong, everyone loves the carnival games and the play put on by the Boy Scouts, but we need something fresh.”

Sister Ingrid’s eyebrows shot up, “What did you have in mind?”

“Well, how would you feel about hosting a baby pageant?”

“A what?”

“You know, mothers bring up their babies in their nicest outfits and our celebrity judge picks the cutest baby.”

“But where would we even get a celebrity judge?” Sister Ingrid asked, setting her teacup down on the table. “I must confess to being a little out of the loop when it comes to who’s in fashion at the moment.”

“I’m sure your midwives will think of someone,” Abigail smiled before draining her tea and standing up, “I’ll be in touch.” She swept out of the room leaving a very confused Sister Ingrid in her wake.


“Are you sure this guy can be counted as a ‘celebrity?’ I’ve never heard of him before now,” Ruby said as she and Belle walked to the cleaner streets of London towards a nice looking bookstore.

“Are you kidding? Isaac Heller is a best selling author, just look at all these people lined up for his book signing!” Belle pointed towards the long line of people coming out of the shop, thick books clutched in their hands.

“Still, I think people are imagining that we’ll get someone who’s on the telly or who’s on the radio,” Ruby shrugged. Belle tutted and they took their places in line, Ruby could sense her excitement. Belle rocked back and forth on the balls of her feet and craned her neck to see over the people in front of her. Ruby couldn’t hold back her smile as the petite brunette sighed in frustration when she failed to see over people’s heads.

“Oh be quiet, not everyone can be as tall as you,” Belle huffed.

“Don’t worry, you’ll see him when you get your book signed,” Ruby put her arm around Belle’s shoulder.

“I what? I’m not-” Belle stuttered and turned red.

“I saw you stash a book in your bag before we left,” Ruby explained before discreetly dropping a quick kiss to her forehead.

“You really should read it you know, it’s brilliant,” Belle said pulling the book out of her bag, “The Red Riding Hood character reminds me of you.”

“Oh well in that case I might just have to give it a try,” Ruby smirked and bumped Belle’s hip with her own. Belle laughed and bumped her back. A ripple of excitement ran through the crowd causing the two of them to look up as a short man with dark hair entered the store.

“Oh my god, there he is!” Belle squealed bouncing up and down on the balls of her feet.

“So what exactly is our plan here? We just walk up and you get your book signed and we say ‘So by the way there’s a baby pageant we’d like for you to judge so that we can raise money?’ and hope he says yes?” Ruby asked, tugging Belle back down to earth.

“Do you have a better plan?” Belle asked.

“Nope, just making sure we have a game plan,” Ruby stepped forward as the queue began to move. In no time they were just a few people away from Isaac Heller and Belle was starting to hyperventilate.

“It might be a good idea to take a deep breath,” Ruby whispered to her.

“Ladies, what can I do for you?” Isaac smiled, Belle handed him the book while falling into a pit of giggles.

“She just really likes your book,” Ruby explained.

“And what about you?” he asked his eyes roaming over her body.

“I haven’t read it yet,” she shrugged, “But I will once she lets me borrow her copy.”

“Well I hope you enjoy it, is there anything else I can do for you ladies?” he handed the book back to Belle with a wink.

“Actually there is,” Ruby said and then motioned for Belle to speak up.

“Wewantyoutohostababypageant,” Belle said very quickly, still looking a little star struck.

“Erm what?” Isaac blinked at her.

“She means that we are midwives and we’re hosting our annual carnival and fundraiser and this year we’re putting on a baby pageant and we were wondering if you would consider being our celebrity judge,” Ruby translated.

“I don’t know that much about babies,” Isaac said, “But how about you and me have dinner sometime and you can tell me all about it.”

“Oh um I don’t-” Ruby stammered looking to Belle.

“She’d love to,” Belle answered, Ruby stared at her.

“Great, why don’t we meet at Boulestin this Saturday? Maybe 7 o’clock?” he asked.

Ruby forced a smile, “Sounds great I’ll see you there.” She turned and grabbed Belle’s arm as she hurried out the door.

“Do you care to explain why I’m going on a date with this Isaac guy when I’m already committed to you?” Ruby asked.

“Because we need a judge and he seems interested and it’s just one dinner, I’m okay with it,” Belle explained.

“But I’m not, I don’t want to go to dinner with that guy. He gives me some bad vibes,” Ruby said looking towards the bookstore.

“You and Sister Nova have been getting a little too into that so-called New Age-y stuff. You’ll be fine I’m sure of it,” Belle placed her hand on Ruby’s shoulder.

Ruby shrugged off her hand and took a step back, “But will we be?”

Belle looked as if Ruby had just slapped her, “Of course we will.”

“Right now I’m not so sure of that,” Ruby said taking a step back from Belle, “I just need some time to think.”

“Ruby…” Belle called after her as Ruby turned to walk away.

“I’ll see you at the house.”

Belle stood in shock as she watched Ruby’s retreating back.

Ruby took on extra shifts for the rest of the week, leaving Antioch early in the morning and coming home after everyone was asleep. Belle tried to find a way to talk to her but Ruby seemed determined to avoid her. Saturday came and Belle finally found Ruby sitting in the lounge meticulously doing her nails.

“That’s a nice color,” Belle said sheepishly.

“Yeah well I have a date tonight so I might as well look somewhat nice,” Ruby answered.

“You're still going?”

“Yeah, I don’t have his number so I can’t call and cancel and just standing him up sets a bad precedent for the house,” Ruby sighed.

“I'm sorry, about setting you up like that. I shouldn't have put you in that position,” Belle apologized.

“It's okay,” Ruby smiled softly at her. “It's for a good cause and it’s only one night. Besides, I missed you these past few days,” Ruby stood up and embraced her.

“I missed you too,” Belle burrowed her face in Ruby’s neck.

“Why don't we make up for lost time when I get home?” Ruby whispered in her ear.

“I think that's a wonderful idea,” Belle smirked at her. The both of them looked around before gently kissing each other.

“Go, try to have a good time,” Belle sighed “I'll be here when you get back.”


Ruby walked up to the restaurant nervously rubbing her palms together, already trying to think of ways to cut this date short without offending Isaac and losing their celebrity judge. She saw him standing outside the restaurant waiting for her, he smiled when he spotted her and walked over to her.

“Ruby, you look stunning this evening,” he said as he kissed her on the cheek.

“Thank you, I’m so excited to eat here.  I’ve heard great things,” Ruby said stepping towards the establishment.

“Actually,” he caught her elbow and turned her around, “It would seem that they lost my reservation and we won’t be able to get a table for an hour.”

“Oh, well should we go somewhere else then?” Ruby asked.

“Well my flat is actually just around the corner,” Isaac said. “Why don’t we go there and have a drink and we can come back here later and see if they have a table for us?”

“Okay I can work with that,” Ruby shrugged thinking that maybe she could split after they had drinks. He led her to his expensive looking building, complete with a doorman, who opened the door for them as Isaac approached.

“Make yourself comfortable,” Isaac said as they entered his flat. Ruby looked around at the luxurious flat.

“So this is where you write?” she asked, spotting a desk with a typewriter and a fancy looking pen in the corner of the living room.

“Most of the time, but sometimes I just need to get out of here and do some people watching,” Isaac said as he came into the room holding their drinks in hand. He gestured to an uncomfortable looking but stylish couch and they both sat down.

“Makes sense, so about the pageant-” Ruby started.

“Oh we have all night to talk logistics of the pageant, try your drink I’ve been told I make a Sidecar that’s better than any in the city,” Isaac interrupted her.

Ruby smiled politely and took a sip, “That is rather strong, certainly stronger than most I’ve had that are all umbrella.”

“Cheers,” he grinned and clinked his glass to hers. They drank and made small talk and Ruby began to feel a bit tipsy.

“I must say I’m no lightweight but that was very strong,” Ruby set her glass down on the table in front of them.

“Well I’m glad you liked it,” Isaac said as he place his hand on her knee.

Ruby looked down at it, “Move your hand please.”

Isaac smirked at her and moved his hand higher up her skirt, “Like that?”

“No, that’s not what I meant at all,” Ruby said trying to move away from him.

“Oh stop being playful, I’ve seen all the signals you were sending me all night,” he leaned forward, kissing Ruby forcefully and trying to push his hand further up her skirt. Ruby tried to push him off of her but he kept fighting to stay on top of her. She got an opportunity to escape when she bit down on his ear hard, he recoiled and she was able to push him off of her and run out the door.

“You can forget about me hosting that fucking baby show!” he shouted after her, but Ruby was already at the lift, tears starting to stream down her face.


“You know, maybe sewing isn’t my strongest suit,” Emma held up a messy wad of cloth stitched together in random places.

“What is that supposed to be?” Belle asked as she stitched together the seam of some pants.

“A shirt? At least it was before I stabbed myself a ton of times with the damn needle,” Emma said sheepishly.

“Why don’t you help me with the backgrounds, much less of a chance of stabbing yourself here,” Sister Nova suggested. Emma chuckled and went to sit opposite of Sister Nova and pulled a paintbrush towards her.

“This isn’t me admitting defeat, I just happen to have a knack for painting,” Emma announced as she began painting a tree.

“Sure Emma,” Belle snickered at Elsa and they both went back to meticulously sewing the costumes for the children's’ play that was happening at the carnival. A loud knock at the door pulled everyone away from their focus. Emma frowned and set her paintbrush down and went to the door. Ruby practically fell into her arms, her eyeliner smudged and her eyes bloodshot.

“Good Lord what happened?” Emma asked as she rubbed soothing circles on Ruby’s back.

“He… he-” Ruby stammered. Emma put her arm around Ruby’s waist and led her into the kitchen. Belle, Elsa, and Sister Nova came in, after her to see what the commotion was about.

“Ruby!” Belle rushed to her side as Ruby sat down in a chair at the table. Belle took both of Ruby’s hands in hers, her thumb running over Ruby’s knuckles. Emma and Elsa busied themselves making tea while Ruby tried to talk about what had happened with Isaac.

“All the way home I just went through everything that happened, what I said, how I acted, how I could have possibly given him any idea that I had wanted that,” Ruby blinked and two fat tears ran down her face.

“Oh dear,” Sister Nova said, “None of this is your fault.”

“She's right,” Emma said placing a cup of tea and whiskey in front of Ruby, “From the sound of it, you did nothing wrong, he’s the one who was a complete ass and a half.”

Ruby gave a weak chuckle and reached for the tea, “Thanks guys, really, but I am sorry about losing our celebrity judge.”

“Don’t worry about that, we’ll take care of it,” Elsa assured her.

“You're sure?” Ruby asked.

“Definitely,” Sister Nova said nodding to Elsa and Emma.

“Come on, let's get you upstairs,” Belle said. Ruby nodded and let Belle wrap her arms around her shoulders as they walked up to their room. Once the door was safely shut behind them, Ruby pulled Belle into a kiss. Her lips chased Belle’s hungrily, greedily and she hung on as if she was never going to let go.

“I just need the memory of him off me,” Ruby panted as they came up for air.

“Wait, Ruby wait,” Belle said as Ruby was about to dive back in. Ruby pulled away to see Belle’s red eyes and pinched face.

“Belle what's wrong?”

“It's my fault, it's all my fault,” Belle started to cry. “If I hadn't insisted you go on that stupid date this wouldn't have happened.”

“Honey, look at me,” Ruby said placing her fingers under Belle’s chin and tilting her head up until her eyes met her own. “You didn't make me go out tonight, I chose to go. You didn't know that this would happen, so please don't blame yourself for what happened. He's the one at fault here, not you.”

“But-”

“But nothing, now I just want to not think about that now. I seem to remember something about us making up for lost time when I get home.”


Somehow Elsa and Sister Nova had convinced Granny to be the judge of the baby pageant, telling her that since she had helped birth the most babies in Storybrooke that made her a “local celebrity”. Emma watched as she was supposed to be handing out balloons, the older woman’s tough exterior melted away as she smiled at the babies ready for judging.

“I’ve got my money on Leo personally, but I could be biased,” a voice whispered in Emma’s ear. She turned to see Killian smirking at her, something secret sparkling just behind his eyes.

“Of course you’re biased, he’s your nephew,” she chuckled.

“But you have to admit, he’s a cute nephew,” he retorted.

Emma rolled her eyes at him and continued to hand balloons out to the smaller children, “Is Liam ready for the play?”

“Aye, we were up all night practicing his lines and sword fighting, he’ll make a great Captain Hook,” Killian practically beamed with pride.

“I can’t wait to see it,” Emma smiled.

“Speaking of the theater,” Killian said taking a step closer to her, “We still haven’t been able to go out on a proper date, what with everything that’s happened recently.”

“I know, but we’ve both been busy; me with the carnival and you with trying to find a job,” Emma reached out and placed a hand to his cheek, “We’ll go out soon.”

“How’s next weekend?” he asked as he reached into his jacket pocket and took out two tickets. “We can see My Fair Lady ? And celebrate that I got the harbormaster job!”

“You got it?” Emma asked, her face cracking into a huge smile.

“I got it!” Killian answered before surging forward and wrapping his arms around her middle and lifting her. Emma squealed and hung on tight as her feet left the ground, his enthusiasm carrying her higher. Their lips met before he set her back down on the ground, her hand having found its way into his hair, they only broke apart when they heard someone clearing their throat and saw a grinning Sister Ingrid shaking her head as she walked away.

 

Chapter Text

“So how is it that you and Killian haven’t been dating this entire time?” Ruby asked as Elsa helped braid Emma’s hair around her head.

“Well, our first date was called off due to the loss of his hand,” Emma said pointedly, “And then he was busy trying to find a job and take care of his son and you know how busy we get this time of year.”

“All those holiday and New Year’s babies are coming,” Elsa smiled as she placed a final pin into Emma’s hair. “All right my dear, you are ready for your date.”

“You're so lucky, I've been dying to see My Fair Lady !” Belle said, “Tell me all about it when you get back tonight?”

If she gets back tonight you mean,” Ruby smirked as she handed Emma some shoes to borrow.

“Huh?” Emma turned to her.

“Come on Emma, you're quite a modern woman and Killian’s quite easy on the eyes,” Ruby nudged her. “We’ll cover for you with the nuns.”

“Oh there's going to be no need for that,” Emma blushed.

“What? Emma, come on, he's gorgeous,” Elsa raised her eyebrow at her.

“Look, I’ll admit I’m no blushing virgin, but the last time it happened it didn't exactly end well. I'm not doing anything until I'm sure that it's what I want.”

“Good, and if he tries anything I will not hesitate to kick his ass,” Ruby assured her.

“Good to know Ruby, okay I'll see you guys later,” Emma grabbed her bag and headed towards the door.

“Have fun!” The three chorused as she walked through the door.


“Did I mention how beautiful you look tonight?” Killian asked as they walked arm and arm towards the theater.

“Just when I got to your flat and when we got to the street and when we got on the bus and just now,” Emma smiled and pulled him in for a quick kiss.

“Well, a woman as beautiful as you deserves a man’s full and prompt attention,” he whispered in her ear when they broke apart. Emma felt a shiver travel down her spine as she looped her arm through his and they walked up the steps of the theater.

“Good evening sir, tickets please,” the usher said in a posh accent and held out his white gloved hand. Killian drew the tickets out of his pocket and handed them to the usher. The usher looked at the tickets and rubbed them between his fingers.

“Sorry sir, I can't accept these,” he tutted as he handed the tickets back.

“Why not?” Killian asked, his jaw ticking.

“They're counterfeit, we don't even have these seats,” the usher explained, looking down his nose at Killian.

“Oi, I paid good money for these,” Killian said angrily.

“I'm sure you did sir, but a man of your standing can't be expected to know the difference,” the usher said already accepting tickets from the next couple in line.

“What's that supposed to mean mate?” Killian snapped.

“Killian it's okay, come on let's just go. Clearly this place has no class,” Emma spat in the direction of the usher and lead Killian down the stairs.

“I'm sorry Swan, I really wanted to have this be a great night,” Killian scratched behind his ear.

“Hey, it's okay, the night’s not ruined.” Emma placed her hand on his cheek, “Why don't we go over to that pub and we can get a drink?” Killian nodded and allowed her to take his hand as they walked into the pub.

Emma spied a dart board in the corner and smiled to herself, “How about a few rounds?” She tilted her head towards the board.

“You're on Swan, I'll grab us some drinks and you guard the darts,” he smiled. They managed to play a few rounds, Emma thoroughly trouncing him.

“How did you get so good at this game?” He asked after she beat him yet again.

“There was a dart board in the bar close to where I went to school, ended up being a good way to unwind after an exam or a paper,” Emma explained as she pulled the darts out of the board. “Got another round in you?”

“With you? Always,” he smirked and took a dart from her hand. They played a few more rounds until the bartender called out last call.

“How is it last call already?” Emma asked checking her watch.

“Time flies I suppose, well shall we?” He said finishing his drink.

“We shall,” she smiled and took his arm. She leaned into his warmth once the cool night air hit them as they walked down the street.

“I'm still sorry about the tickets, I know you really wanted to see the show,” he said shyly.

“Hey it's okay, I still had a great time thoroughly beating you at darts,” she chuckled and bumped her hip against his.

“Oi I got you a couple of times,” he laughed and bumped her back.

“Mmhmm” Emma rolled her eyes at him and rested her head on his shoulder “It was still a great night.”

“Drinks, darts, good conversation and now I'm walking home with the woman I lo-” Killian stopped himself and turned pink.

“It's okay, you can say it,” Emma turned to face him. She took both his hand and his prosthetic, her eyes locking onto his. “Because I've wanted to say it to you too.”

Killian’s smile could have powered a city block, “I love you, Emm-” He couldn't quite finish as Emma leaned forward and kissed him deeply. They didn't stop until he heard the rumble of the bus pulling into the stop.

“Evenin’” the driver smirked knowingly at them as they got on. They both giggled like teenagers as they took their seats, the bus dropped them off a few blocks from his flat. The driver winked at them as they got off.

“So would you like to come up for some coffee?” Killian asked as they reached his building. Emma paused, knowing what could come next, half her mind said to go up and the other screamed to run back to the convent. But her heart pushed her forward, reminding her that Killian wasn't her ex and that she wasn't a naive teenager anymore.

“Sure,” she smiled softly. She took his hand as they climbed the stairs together.

“So how do you take your coffee?” He asked once they were in his kitchen.

“Black is fine,” Emma shrugged leaning against the counter as Killian made the coffee. “So where's Liam tonight?”

“At his cousin’s having a sleepover,” Killian slid a mug in her direction.

“I didn't know you had another nephew.”

“Yeah he’s my other cousin’s son, they live up in Notting Hill,” Killian explained. “Speaking of my nephew, his birthday is next week. Would you like to come?”

“Um next week?” Emma’s mouth went dry.

“Yeah it could be fun, he’s a great kid and my cousin can be okay sometimes. We're working on it,” Killian chuckled.

“I'll think about it,” Emma nodded taking a quick sip of coffee to ease the dryness of her throat.

“Just let me know soon, love,” he grinned at her and leaned in, capturing her lips with his own. His arms wrapped around her waist and pulled her against his body. His lips traveled to her cheek, her chin, her neck, and up to her ear.

“Is this okay?” He whispered as he nibbled on her earlobe.

“Yes,” Emma sighed, coursing her fingers through his hair. Killian went back to her neck, licking and sucking on the spot where her neck met her shoulder. Emma moaned, her hands sliding down to unbutton his shirt. He walked them back until her back hit the wall. Killian groaned when she undid the last button, her hands sneaking inside and skimming over the waistband of his pants.

“You're sure you want this?” He moaned as his hand came to the zipper of her dress.

“Yes,” she nodded, Killian slowly unzipped her dress. Emma moaned as his fingers ran over the newly exposed skin of her back. His hand and hook came down to behind her thighs and he deftly lifted her up, her legs wrapped around his hips and he walked them back to his bedroom. Emma's hands fumbled with his belt as he lowered her to his bed. They both chuckled when she finally got it open.

“Sorry, it's just been a while,” she explained, her cheeks going hot.

“It's okay, I'm in the same boat as you,” he said threading his fingers through her hair and deftly undoing the braid.

“You would make a boat cliche,” Emma giggled as her hair fell around her face.

“I like to be consistent,” he smiled before kissing her again. Emma fell back against the pillows, Killian on top of her. His hand and hook came up to the straps of her dress, sliding them down her arms. His hand came around and unhooked her bra, tossing it over his shoulder and taking in the sight of her.

“Beautiful,” he breathed before diving in, his lips and tongue working one nipple and his hand working the other. Emma’s back arched off the bed as he tugged her dress further down her body, his lips exploring every inch of new skin. He delicately unclipped the garter from her stockings and rolled them down her legs, kissing every inch of them. Emma fisted her hands in his sheets as he traveled back up stopping right at her center.

“Absolutely beautiful,” he moaned as he peeled off her underwear and slid his fingers through her dripping folds. Emma’s breath hitched when she felt his tongue on her, circling her clit.

“Oh god,” she moaned, her hand burying itself in his hair. “Don't stop.” She felt like a rubber band about to snap, Emma gripped his hair harder and he groaned. The vibrations pushed her over the edge; she fell back against the bed breathing heavily.

“You taste divine love,” he crawled up to meet her lips, she could still taste herself on his tongue.

“Do you have any condoms?” she moaned as she came up for air, her hands running down his back and finding his ass. They both groaned when his length slipped through her folds.

“Yes, bedside table, top drawer,” he nodded towards it. Emma fumbled getting the drawer open and getting out the condom. He leaned back for a moment, still giving her time to push him away. She leaned up to kiss him, her tongue circling around his. Killian pushed into her, stretching her walls until he bottomed out inside her.

“So tight,” he whispered in her ear.

“Move,” Emma breathed, bucking her hips against him in the search for friction.

“So demanding,” he chuckled but he complied, pulling out almost completely before slamming back in.

“Yes,” Emma groaned, digging her fingernails into his back.

“Oh fuck lass, that's good,” he moaned before hungrily kissing her. They rocked together, hands and lips finding everywhere they could reach. Emma felt another orgasm building deep in her belly, her hand snaking down to come to her clit. Killian sucked hard at a spot on her neck, surely leaving a mark.

“Oh god,” Emma cried out as she fell over the edge again, Killian following soon after. He collapsed on top of her, angling himself so he didn't completely crush her.

“That was…” He panted.

“Amazing,” she nodded licking her lips before pressing small kisses to his cheek. He smiled and gently rolled off of her and walked into the bathroom, Emma felt the loss of his body instantly.

“Here you go love,” he offered her a glass of water when he returned.

“Thank you,” she gladly drank the cool water as he got back into bed. She placed the now empty glass on the table and snuggled into his side. His fingers played with the ends of her hair and she felt him gently kissing the top of her head.

“I have to get back to the convent,” she sighed and started to roll out of bed.

“Why?” Killian’s arms tightened around her body, his lips on the shell of her ear.

“The nuns are going to ask about where I am,” Emma giggled and felt a shiver run down her spine as he pressed small kisses to her neck.

“Let them ask,” he whispered. “I want to make you breakfast in the morning.”

“Killian..” Emma turned to set him straight but she took in his mischievous blue eyes she felt her resolve crumble.  

“Please Swan, stay,” he whispered against her skin and Emma could feel the sincerity of his words. This wasn’t just him wanting another round, this was more.

“Okay, I’ll stay but I do have to get back to Antioch House. I can’t go on rounds without my uniform. So breakfast will have to wait until another time,” Emma settled back into his bed and resting her head on his shoulder.

“I can work with that,” Killian smiled as he gathered her into his arms.

Chapter Text

Emma nervously smoothed the front of her dress. She tried to shake herself, telling herself that it was just a kid’s 11th birthday party and there was nothing to feel upset about. But today had always been a particularly hard day for her; she picked up her baby blanket and held it to her chest, lost in thought.

“Emma?” Elsa knocked on their door and opened it slowly. “Killian and Liam are here.”

“I'll be right down,” Emma said, hastily shoving her blanket under her pillow.

“Is something wrong?” Elsa asked.

“No I'm fine, this is just the first time I'm meeting someone's extended family,” Emma excused, hoping Elsa wouldn't pry further.

“Well, you have nothing to worry about. You can be a bit prickly at times but overall you're a wonderful person.”

“Wait, you think I'm prickly?” Emma's eyebrows shot up. Elsa just giggled and lightly pushed her towards the stairs.

“Well, don't you two look dapper?” She beamed when she saw the two of them.

“Thanks Emma,” Liam grinned at her, he was looking more and more like Killian with every day.

“Hello love,” Killian kissed her cheek in greeting. “Ready to go?”  

“Yeah,” Emma sighed.

“You alright love?” He asked, his callused hand caressing her shoulder.

“Yeah, I'm fine,” she smiled tightly. Killian didn't look like he quite believed her and opened his mouth as if to ask again.

“Come on Dad, let’s go!” Liam interrupted.

“All right lad don't worry, we'll get there in time for cake,” Killian ruffled Liam’s hair. Liam huffed and ducked out from under Killian’s hand.

“Daaaaaaad,” he huffed, combing his fingers through his hair to get it to lie flat again. Killian and Emma chuckled as they walked out of the convent, Liam leading the way to the bus stop where David, Mary Margaret, and baby Leo were waiting.

“Hello Mr. and Mrs. Nolan,” Emma smiled as she approached them.

“Mr. and Mrs. Nolan is a bit formal don't you think, Emma?” Mr. Nolan said as she bounced Leo gently.

“You could call us David and Mary Margaret if you’d like,” Mary Margaret smiled. Emma noticed that her usually kind and genuine smile seemed a little more forced than usual.

“Okay, David and Mary Margaret it is then,” Emma said hoping to put the woman at ease. The bus rumbled up, ready to take them to the swanky neighborhood the birthday boy and his mother lived.

“Is Mary Margaret all right?” Emma whispered to Killian as they took their seats a few rows behind the Nolan family.

“She will be; her and Regina didn't exactly get along for a long while. I thought it was just stepsisters being stepsisters but Mary Margaret sat me down and told me the whole story one night. Let's just say it really wasn't pretty for a while,” Killian explained.

“Wow, I didn't think anyone could hate Mary Margaret. She's one of the kindest people I've ever met,” Emma looked over at Mary Margaret, taking in the set of her jaw and the determination in her brow.

“Don't let the bright and sunny school teacher side fool you, she's got some grit to her,” Killian said.

“So how did they get to the point where they're going to each other’s children’s birthdays?” Emma asked.

“Regina got her son, I think motherhood did Regina good. She reached out to Mary Margaret and apologized for everything that happened when they were young. They've been working it out for years now.”

“Damn,” Emma swallowed.

“Don't worry love, it's been a long time since there's been any serious family drama. We're all just here to celebrate our children,” Killian wrapped a reassuring arm around her.

The bus pulled up to the stop they needed, all of them getting off the bus. Emma looked around at the pristine white houses that lined the street and the plush shrubbery that seemed to hug the outside of the houses. Liam bounded up the stairs and knocked on the door, the adults trailing behind them. A dark haired woman answered the door; she wore an impeccably tailored suit and not a hair stood out of place. Emma subconsciously smoothed her hands over the front of her dress, smoothing out any wrinkles that may have formed on the ride over.

“Hi Aunt Regina!” Liam grinned at her.

“Hello Liam!” The woman smiled, her unapproachable demeanor cracking slightly. “Henry is playing cricket down in the park with his friends if you would like to join.”

“All right!” Liam started to take off down the road but turned back to wave and shout out a thank you in their general direction.

“I swear Killian, if he didn't look like the spitting image of you, all it would take is the lack of manners to know he was your son,” Regina said to Killian.

“Nice to see you too, Regina,” Killian smirked at her as he walked in.

“And who is this?” Regina’s gaze fell onto Emma. She had to force herself to keep her hands still and not to fidget under the other woman’s cool stare.

“Hi, I’m Emma Swan, I’ve been seeing Killian for the past few months,” Emma held out her hand for Regina to shake. Regina looked down at her hand and Emma almost felt embarrassed by her unpolished fingers and callused hands.

“You didn't think to call me and tell me that she was coming?” Regina glared at Killian.

“Well, Your Highness, not all of us have our own phones to use at our pleasure,” Killian met her gaze.

“Yeah and I don't appreciate you talking about me like I'm not even here,” Emma bristled. A beat of uncomfortable silence passed between Killian, Emma, and Regina before Mary Margaret cleared her throat.

“Well, I know someone who would love to meet his auntie,” she said holding up Leo. Regina’s face softened as she held Leo in her arms. She cooed at the baby as he wiggled in her arms, reaching his tiny hands towards her hair.

“Come on love,” Killian whispered in her ear and gently tugged her towards the kitchen.

“Wow,” was all Emma could say once they were alone in Regina’s massive kitchen.

“That's Regina for you, but don't worry now that she has a baby in her arms she’ll mellow out a little,” Killian rummaged through Regina’s liquor collection, choosing a fine rum and poured them both a glass. “I've also found a bit of liquid courage doesn't hurt.”

“Thank you,” Emma accepted the glass and took a sip.

“You handled yourself brilliantly out there,” Killian quirked a suggestive eyebrow at her before planting a kiss on her lips. Emma let out a surprised moan before returning it in full.

“Come on,” Emma whispered once they broke apart. “Something tells me Regina wouldn't be too amused to find us kissing in her kitchen.”

“You're probably right, but just imagine how funny her face would be,” he grinned at her. Emma giggled but still pulled him towards the living room where Regina, Mary Margaret, and David were sitting.

“So Miss Swan, David tells me you're a midwife,” Regina said as Emma sat down on Regina’s pristine white couch.

“Yeah, I’ve been stationed at Nonnatus for about three years now,” Emma answered.

“You talk as if it were a military base,” Regina observed.

“Well, when you think about it, I've probably seen as much blood, sweat, and tears as any man in the Queen’s army,” Emma said nonchalantly. Regina looked taken aback before letting out an uncharacteristic snort of laughter.

“That's a good one Nurse Swan,” Regina chuckled, still bouncing Leo on her knee.

“Do you remember your midwife? Perhaps I know her,” Emma asked. She saw that everyone else stiffened slightly and Killian put a hand on her knee.

“My son is actually adopted, Lord knows who his midwife was or his mother for that matter,” she shrugged but Emma noticed the way her grip tightened on Leo’s body.

“I'm so sorry to pry.”

“It’s okay,” Regina shook her head and smiled. The front door banged open and the sound of two stomping feet were heard as they ran down the hall. “That’ll be him actually, excuse me.” Regina handed the baby back to Mary Margaret and walked towards the hall.

“Henry what did I tell you about running around the house and in these muddy trainers. Both of you go upstairs and clean up and then you can have some food,” Emma could hear Regina say sternly to the two boys.

“You're handling this like a pro Emma,” David raised his glass in her direction.

“Not many can stand up to Regina the way you did,” Mary Margaret looked at Emma with an almost proud smile.  

“I’ve seen worse, believe it or not,” Emma took another sip of her drink as Regina and the boys returned to the living room.

“Well I'd like to introduce my son, Henry Mills,” Regina said proudly putting a hand on his shoulders. Emma looked up and  promptly spat out her drink, the glass slipping from her grasp. She didn't hear Mary Margaret’s gasp, didn’t hear Regina’s cry about her couch and carpet, didn't hear Killian asking her if she was all right. She saw his brown hair and dark eyes that had haunted her all these years, the spitting image of his father. She knew that the boy standing in front of her with familiar brown eyes full of concern and fear was, without a single doubt in her mind, her son.

Chapter Text

Emma’s hair stuck to her forehead, matted with sweat, as she fell back against the pillows propping her up. She was panting heavily, exhausted and frustrated at how long this was taking.

“You’re nearly there Miss Swan,” the midwife said from between her thighs.

“If you keep saying that I’ll stop believing you Nurse Fox,” Emma said, grasping the mattress as she felt another contraction start up.

“Well Baby appears to be taking their time, but one or two more contractions and they’ll be out,” the midwife soothed before ducking down and and checking on progress. Emma furrowed her brow as the overwhelming need to push came over her. It was a pain unlike anything she had ever experienced for something she still wasn’t sure if she wanted to keep or not.

“That’s it Emma, you’re doing wonderfully!” Nurse Fox smiled. “The baby’s head and shoulders born.” Emma took a deep breath as the contraction passed, a bead of sweat or a tear (Emma couldn’t tell which) rolled down her cheek. Her respite ended almost as quickly as it had come and Emma focused all her strength on pushing, hearing the midwife announce as the baby’s torso and then the legs came through. Emma barely even noticed as the placenta came away, the cries of her newborn holding all of her attention.

“Is the baby okay?” she asked the midwife as she tried to sit up to see.

“Ten fingers and ten toes, a perfectly healthy baby boy,” the midwife beamed as she held up the freshly swaddled newborn. “Would you like to hold him?”

Emma paused for a moment, unsure of how to answer. One part of her body told her firmly not to hold him that it would only make it harder when she had to give him up; another much smaller part longed to just hold him at least once. Emma swallowed and nodded, holding out her arms for her son- the baby, she mentally corrected herself. She looked down at his face, a shock of dark brown hair visible underneath the cap the midwife had put on his head. She saw so much of his father in him already and Emma had to fight back tears as she gazed at his little face.

“Do you have a name picked out for him?” Nurse Fox asked as she cleaned up.

“No, um I’m not-” Emma stuttered but Nurse Fox placed a hand on Emma’s shoulder.

“It’s okay, you’re not the first one who’s had to give their child their best chance,” the nurse said. Emma nodded at her, an understanding falling over both of them. Emma went back to the baby’s face, searching for her features there. She found her chin and her ears amongst the sea of his father’s features. Emma tried not to imagine what he would look like when he got older, wondering if he’ll be tall or have dimples. That was a dangerous line of thinking for her, she couldn’t do this. She couldn’t be a mother, but as she continued to hold him in her arms all the rationalizations and explanations Emma had told herself before began to grow fainter in the back of her mind.

Three days later Emma was in her room, trying to nurse the baby but her milk refused to come in. Emma looked around the barren room; stripped down to the bare necessities of living. There were worse places she could have given birth in, a friendly priest had agreed to take her in after seeing her pregnant and on the street. There, she was given proper medical care and more food than she knew what to do with. But it was still no place to raise a child; children needed room to play and to be loud and to call their own. Emma shook herself from her thoughts at a knock at her door.

“Still no milk yet?” a thin severe looking woman barked at her. Ms. De Vil wasn’t exactly the type of woman you’d expect to be in charge of a women’s safety clinic but she did have a way of keeping things orderly.

“No I’m afraid not,” Emma shook her head.

“Well maybe it’s best to stop for right now Miss Swan, the adoptive parents are here.”

“Oh already?” Emma tightened her grip on the fussing baby.

“Yes, the agency here is very efficient. They were able to find someone to adopt your son. Now why don’t I take the baby so he and his new mother can get acquainted and you can pack up his things and think of anything that could be helpful for her to know.” Cruella extended her arms. Emma considered for a moment just refusing, just taking her son and escaping with only the clothes on her back, but she knew this was the only way to give the boy his best chance.

“Okay little one, I’ll see you in a few minutes and I’ll give you a proper goodbye,” She lowered her head and gave him a tender kiss on the forehead before handing him over to Ms. De Vil.

“There we are darling, now don’t fret. You’re young, you’ll be able to bounce back in no time,” the older woman said before carrying the baby out of the room. Emma tried not to feel hurt and angry at Ms. De Vil’s words, but she couldn’t help it if she maybe tossed baby clothes, nappies, booties, and a blanket into a bag with a little more force than usual. Emma contemplated writing him a letter for him to read when he got older, something to just let him know why she had to do this. She heard the sound of a car starting and suddenly a cold shiver ran down her neck, she knew something wasn’t right.

Emma ran out of them room and down the halls, throwing herself through the doors of the clinic just in time to see a sleek black car turn out of the driveway and onto the main road. Emma struggled to catch her breath as hot tears slid down her face. They had taken her son from her and she didn’t even get the chance to say goodbye. Emma fell to her knees sobbing as the last shred of family was ripped from her. She didn’t even register a nurse coming to help get her back to her room, she laid on her bed staring at the bag full of baby things still sitting where she had left it.

Emma’s milk came in two days later.


“Oh my god my rug, you’ve ruined my rug!” Regina screeched at Emma, pulling her out of her stupor. Emma looked from the half empty glass in her hand to the wet stain still spreading on Regina’s fancy rug.

“I’m so sorry, I don’t know what came over me,” Emma said rising from the couch. “I’ll grab a towel, trust me I’m quite good at getting stains out.” Emma ran out of the room, purposefully keeping her eyes down so she didn’t catch anyone’s eye. She methodologically collected the necessary tools for stain removal, trying to process what had just happened.

“Swan?” Killian stood in the doorway, his brows knitted together.

“I’m just getting everything to get the stain out. I need warm water and vinegar and towels and dish soap and-” Emma rambled.

“Fuck Regina’s carpet, are you okay Swan?” Killian asked, grabbing onto her shoulders and steadying her.

“I’m fine, the glass just slipped-”

“Emma please, I’m worried about you.” Killian’s hand reached up and cupped her cheek.

“Killian I just- I can’t talk about it right now.” Emma sighed.

“Later then?” Killian asked. Emma nodded leaning into his touch, Killian pulled her into a tight hug and pressed his lips to her temple. They went back to the party, supplies in hand and Emma busied herself lifting the stain from the couch and carpet.

“Good as new,” she forced a smile at Regina, trying to keep her emotions under control. Regina surveyed her with a raised eyebrow before nodding her head and walking over to her son.

“Why doesn’t Henry open his presents?” David said trying to break the tension.

“Yeah can I mom?” Henry asked enthusiastically. Regina nodded and sat him in a comfortable looking arm chair. Emma watched as he tore into a new cricket bat from his mother, a large leather bound storybook from Mary Margaret and David and a new pen and stationery set. She tried not to imagine herself in Regina’s place, sitting next to Henry and smiling with pride as she celebrated her son’s birthday. She tried to hold it together as Henry blew out the candles and they all had a slice of cake.

Mercifully they were able to go back to Storybrooke in order for Leo to get to bed on time.

“Liam, go with Mary Margaret, I’ll come back and bring you home in a bit,” Killian said.

“You guys are going to go be gross and kiss-y, aren’t you?” Liam asked looking from Killian to Emma.

David chuckled and wrapped his arm around Liam’s shoulders. “We’ll take care of him, you two go have fun,” he winked and led Liam in the direction of his building. Killian took Emma’s hand, linking their fingers together and they walked in silence towards their bench at the docks.

“So I understand if you don’t want to talk about it yet Emma, but just know that whatever it is I’m still here for you to lean on if you want me,” Killian assured her.

“Thank you,” Emma took a deep breath before blurting out the truth. “Henry is my son.”

Killian sat in shocked silence trying to process what he just heard, “How- how do you know?”

“When I was young I was pregnant and I was in no way ready to be a mother. I was barely able to scrounge together enough food for myself let alone a baby so I had to give him up. Henry looks just like his father.”

“Wow, I can’t even imagine how hard today must have been, I’m so sorry Emma.”

“It’s not your fault, I had to give him his best chance and Regina seems to be giving that to him.”

“It’s not enough is it?”

“No, not even close. But what can I do? I can’t just barge in and say ‘Hello, I’m your birth mom, sorry I acted so strangely at your party but I thought i’d never see you again after they took you away from me and I didn’t even get to say goodbye,’” Emma stopped herself once she realized how much she had said. She looked up to see Killian’s eyes round as saucers.

“You didn’t even get to say goodbye to him?”

“No,” Emma shook her head.

“I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to Milah,” he shared. Emma turned to look up at him. “She went into labor and the nurses wouldn’t let me into the room with her, I remember sitting in our kitchen so nervous and excited and then one of them came out and told me to call the hospital. She was unconscious when they carried her out to the ambulance. And so I waited and I waited in that hospital hallway and the older nurse came out with Liam in her arms but a grim look on her face and she told me that Milah was gone.”

“Killian-” Emma whispered, this was the most Killian had ever told her about Milah.

“I won’t get a chance to see Milah again, to get closure. But you Swan, you have a chance to get to know Henry. When Regina knows the truth she might be willing to let you see him, to get to know him.”

“But what if that’s not what Henry wants?” Emma asked, wringing her hands together.

“Then at least you know, and I will be right here next to you if in the small small chance that does happen.”

“Thanks,” Emma smiled and leaned her head against his shoulder, “I love you.”

“I love you too,” he whispered into her hair. They both sat in silence staring out at the boats with a new weight to bear between the two of them.

Chapter Text

A gentle knocking roused Belle enough to know that she needed to get out of Ruby’s sleeping arms and answer the door to their room before they were found out. She gently slid out of Ruby’s warm arms and tiptoed to the door just as the knob was starting to turn.

“Oh, Nurse French, glad to see you’re somewhat awake,” Sister Nova looked slightly taken aback when Belle answered the door. “It would appear that Mrs. Thompson is in labor. Contractions have been going on for three hours now.”

“Alright,” Belle yawned, Ruby had kept her up a little later than she would have liked especially since she had returned so late from another delivery, “I’ll get ready and head right over.” Sister Nova nodded and headed in the direction of the chapel, on her way to morning prayer. Belle sleepily pulled on her uniform and looked jealously over at a still sleeping Ruby. Once she was dressed and ready to go, Belle placed a small kiss to Ruby’s forehead before hurrying down the stairs

and off to the Thompson household. It didn’t seem long before the baby started crowning and petite, little Aurora Thompson was clinging to her mother’s hand for dear life.

“You’re doing brilliantly Aurora, don’t give up now,” Belle encouraged.

“Just think of all those baby clothes you’ve got tucked into that little drawer, how in an hour this little baby will be cleaned and dressed finally,” Aurora’s mother, Mrs. Rose Drake, soothed, brushing the sweat dampened hair out of her eyes. Aurora leaned forward and pushed with all her might, screaming as the little baby boy came out.

“You have a son Aurora!” Belle smiled at the new mother as she gently wiped the amniotic fluid from the little boy’s face. “Mrs. Drake, could I have something to wrap the baby in please?”

Rose went to the drawer and gently spread out a knitted baby blanket on the bed, “Aurora was wrapped up in this when she was born, same as I was when my mum had me,” she beamed with pride at her new grandson.

Belle wrapped the wriggling baby into the well-loved blanket and gently settled him onto Aurora’s chest, “Do you have a name picked out?”

“Philip,” Aurora looked down adoringly at her son, “After his father.” She stroked her index finger over his face. Belle and Rose helped to clean everything up as Aurora and the baby bonded.

“She was so nervous about this one, especially after losing the other so early on,” Rose whispered to Belle.

“Well, I’ll make sure this one gets the absolute best care I can give,” Belle reassured the mother and snapped her bag shut. Aurora let out a yawn, the early hour and the hard labor catching up to her.

“Here love, why don’t we let you rest for a minute and I’ll take little Philip here to meet his father and grandparents?”

“Okay just be careful with him, he's so tiny,” Aurora carefully placed her son into her mother’s arms. Rose and Belle chuckled softly to each other as they left the room.

“She's going to be a wonderful mother,” Belle said to Rose.

“Of that, I have no doubt, Aurora has wanted to be a mother since she was about 6. She was so heartbroken when she miscarried last year; this baby is such a gift to all of us,” Rose gazed down at her grandson.

“I'm so happy I could be here to help,” Belle smiled as they came into the living room where the rest of the family was waiting. Belle hung back, giving the family a chance to coo over the new addition.

“Philip, you have a son,” Rose announced, Philip let out the breath he was holding and smiled.

“Good job son,” a short and squat man clapped Philip on the back.

“Now Hubert, I believe my daughter is the one who did a majority of the work today,” a tall man with salt and pepper hair spoke up. He crossed the room and gave Rose a gentle kiss on the cheek, “How’s Aurora doing?”

“She's fine Stephan, just resting. Lord knows these two will need it,” she chuckled before handing the baby to Philip. The young father looked down in complete awe at his son.

“Well I say this calls for a celebration,” Hubert produced a bottle of fine scotch from the liquor cabinet. He poured a generous portion into several glasses and passed them around to everyone in the room. Belle tried to quietly excuse herself to let the family celebrate when Hubert held out a tumbler of scotch out to her.

“We can't forget you nurse, for making sure everything went smoothly,” he explained.

“Oh, I couldn't really,” Belle protested.

“Nonsense! No harm in a little celebration,” he pressed the glass into Belle’s hands. She looked down at it, barely a sip had been poured out for her. What could one little drink hurt?

“Very well thank you!” She smiled and raised her glass along with everyone else.

“To my grandson Philip Jr! May he grow up into someone we can all be proud of,” Stephan toasted and everyone knocked back their drinks. The pleasant burn of alcohol dripped down Belle’s throat and warmed her belly. She thanked them for the drink and went on her way to start her rounds through the rest of Storybrooke.


“Hello Nurse, would you like a cup of tea? I just put the kettle on,” Rose asked as Belle came around the next day for Aurora and the baby’s postnatal check up.

“No thank you, Mrs. Drake, I’m afraid this is just a fly by visit to make sure Aurora and the baby are doing well,” Belle said as she climbed up the stairs to their flat.

“They’ll be in the bedroom, Little Philip went down for a nap a while ago so he might be getting up any minute now,” Rose called as she went to go take care of the whistling kettle.

“Good afternoon Mrs. Thompson,” Belle knocked lightly on the side of the door to the bedroom before tiptoeing inside.

“Afternoon Nurse French,” Aurora smiled, “I’ll tell you he never cries.” Aurora tried to sit up in bed and reach for the baby but she winced slightly.

“Rest now, your mother’s bringing you some tea,” Belle reassured her as she crossed the room to the crib where Philip Jr was sleeping.

“It’s worth the pain, having him here finally,” Aurora smiled and rested against the headboard. Belle smiled and looked down into the crib and noticed immediately that something was wrong; the baby was very still and nearly blue. Belle frowned and placed her fingers underneath Philip’s nostrils, he was cool to the touch and Belle felt no breath. She acted quickly, shaking him gently.

“Nurse? What’s wrong?” Aurora asked as Belle picked up the baby up out of the crib when he did not respond.

“He’s not breathing,” Belle said quickly, trying to bounce him gently in order to get him to breath.

“What? What do you mean?” Aurora heaved herself out of bed, trying to get a look at her son. Rose came running into the room hearing the commotion and Aurora’s panicked voice.

“What’s going on?” she watched in horror as Belle gently laid the baby on the floor to begin CPR.

“Mrs. Drake I need you to call Dr. Whale immediately, tell him it’s urgent,” Belle said quickly.

“Mum?” Aurora asked tearfully, panic starting to set into her. Rose hesitated at the door torn between comforting her daughter and running to the phone booth on the corner.

“Quickly Mrs. Drake and no one else is allowed to come into this room. Do you understand me?” Belle said quickly starting chest compressions on the infant. Rose sprinted from the doorway, her frantic footsteps descending the stairs outside.

“My baby, Nurse what’s happening?” Aurora asked, leaning down as if to pick him up.

“Aurora please get back into bed,” Belle pleaded but the young mother stood her ground.

“For God’s sake do something!” Aurora pleaded, clutching the cross that hung from a chain around her neck. “Please Lord please not my baby please!” she sobbed.

Belle opened the airway and breathed two small breaths into the baby’s open mouth, before placing her ear to his mouth to see if she could hear even the smallest of breaths of his own. She repeated the compressions, trying desperately to feel a heartbeat under her fingers, but after 5 long minutes, she knew it was hopeless. She sat back up, tears starting to pool in her eyes.

“What’s happening?” Aurora asked, looking down at her baby’s motionless body.

“He’s- he’s gone,” Belle choked out, not meeting Aurora’s eyes. Aurora collapsed to the floor, her body shaking as each sob racked her body. Belle pulled the corner of the baby blanket up to cover Philip Jr’s face as if it were a shroud and picked him up to place him back in his crib so that at least he wouldn’t have to be on the floor anymore. Belle gripped the bars as a wave of nausea almost overwhelmed her, she fought it down as she turned to see Aurora still collapsed on the floor. Belle could process her feelings later, now she needed to be there for the mother who had now lost not one, but two children. She wrapped her arms around Aurora’s shoulders and tried to guide her into a sitting position. They both looked up as Rose, Dr. Whale, and Sister Ingrid stepped quietly into the room.

Dr. Whale put the earpieces of his stethoscope into his ears and tried to find a heartbeat as Rose helped Belle guide Aurora back to bed.

“Mrs. Thompson I’m very sorry,” Dr. Whale began. Fresh tears streamed down Aurora’s face when she looked up into Dr. Whale’s grim face.

“I don’t understand, he was right as rain. How can this happen?” Rose asked, rubbing small circles on her daughter’s back.

“I’m afraid I don’t have an answer for that Mrs. Drake. Due to the young age of your boy and his sudden passing we are going to have to perform a post-mortem to fulfill the requirements of the inquiry that needs to be made. I assure you we will take the greatest of care with him,” Dr. Whale explained.

“I want to hold him,” Aurora whispered, her eyes still on the crib.

“Aurora…” Rose said in protest.

“I want to hold my son,” Aurora said forcefully. Dr. Whale nodded solemnly and reached into the crib. He placed her son carefully in Aurora’s arms.

“Did your son have a name?” Sister Ingrid asked quietly.

“We named him after me,” Philip stood in the doorway, his eyes going straight to Aurora and his son, “We wanted Philip Jr.”

“May I say a blessing for him?” she asked. Aurora and Philip nodded. “ I am the resurrection, and the life, sayeth the Lord. He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall never die. Amen.”

Whispers of amen came from everyone else in the room as Sister Ingrid finished her blessing. She held out her arms to take the baby from Aurora, the young mother placed a tender kiss on the forehead of the child she would never get to know in a silent goodbye before collapsing into the arms of her mother. Belle tried to think of something to say or do to help but found herself at a loss for words. She looked up and saw the elder Philip staring at her with wet angry eyes before he turned sharply and left the room.

Belle tried to keep her composure until she returned to Antioch House, there in the entryway Elsa and Emma welcomed her with kind words and warm hugs.

“I couldn’t save him,” Belle cried into their shoulders. “I tried so hard.”

“You did everything that you could have,” Emma said. “You did what any of us would have done in that situation.”

Belle sniffed and looked down at her watch, “I’m late, I’ve already missed 3 house calls.”

“Don’t be ridiculous, we will cover your appointments,” Elsa assured her.

“Hot chocolate, aspirin, and bed for you Nurse French,” Granny said as she walked up to them, warmth coming through her typically stern demeanor. “No arguments.”


 

A few days later Belle found herself sitting across from Constable Humbert in one of the meeting rooms of Antioch House a thick file about what had happened sitting in front of him.

“Nurse French, you said there was nothing about the birth that felt off to you?“

“No, nothing at all,” Belle answered, wringing her hands underneath the table as Graham wrote down her answers.

“And you’re sure that you would have noticed if anything was out of the ordinary?”

“Absolutely.”

“Well according to the logbooks, you had returned from a very late delivery before going off to deliver the Thompson baby,” Graham said showing her the pages from the logbooks of the night before the Thompson delivery and the morning of.

“Yes we had an emergency delivery, but it happens quite often. What exactly are you asking me, Constable?”

“It’s just that I know I can be a bit... fuzzy after a long night. Sometimes we’re more tired than we realize or if we didn’t take the time to rest properly once we get home” Graham explained gently. Belle tried to keep her expression neutral and not think about how Ruby had kept her up a little later then she should have let her.

“Constable Humbert, we are trained to work long hours. We are used to it as you well know,” Belle shook her head at him. The tips of Graham’s ears went slightly pink as he nodded and looked back to the file.

“Again you will forgive me for the nature of some of these questions but do you often drink while on delivery?”

“What?” Belle asked, shocked that he would even think to ask that.

“It’s just that Mr. Thompson told us that you had a spot of whiskey while at his house-”

“It was a toast!” Belle explained, “The baby had already been born by then and the grandparents insisted I have a sip. Am I being accused of something?” Graham didn’t look at her directly but Belle could see that the pink color was spreading to his cheeks. “I can assure you that I did everything that I possibly could to make sure that that baby was delivered safely and healthily.”

“Nurse French, you do understand we have to ask these questions for this kind of inquiry?” Graham said finally. Belle nodded, a deep sick feeling began taking root in her stomach as she went over that morning again and again in her mind. Once Graham finally had all the answers she could possibly give, he snapped the file shut and attempted to give her a reassuring smile before walking out of the convent. Belle made a beeline for the small secluded library inside Antioch and started pulling all the books she could find on abnormal births and infant death. What if she really had missed something and doomed that little boy? What if it was all her fault? She poured over the books, searching for anything to give her answers until her eyes burned with tiredness. She hadn’t realized that she had fallen asleep until Ruby was shaking her awake.

“What time is it?” she asked, wincing as she straightened up in her chair, her back stiff and sore from the uncomfortable sleeping position.

“Half past one in the morning, what are you doing down here?” Ruby asked, sitting on the table next to Belle’s pile of books.

“Trying to see if I missed something,” Belle said, turning back to the page she had been sleeping on.

“Belle, you did everything you could have-”

“What if I didn’t?” Belle slammed the book shut, “I hear the way the mothers talk about me at Tuesday clinic, I answered all the questions the constable had, people think I did this. That I’m responsible for that little boy. And what if I am? What if this really is all my fault?”

“That’s not true, you know it’s not true,” Ruby put her hands on Belle’s shoulders. “I know you, and you are the most thorough person I know and you take the best notes. Anything that could have been out of the ordinary that you could have noticed would have been there and you would have known how to handle it. If you can’t believe in yourself, then maybe try believing in me and how much I believe in you.”

“But what if-” Belle started.

“But nothing, you are going to drive yourself up a wall if you keep dealing in what-ifs. You did everything that you could do, some things are just out of our control. Now the tests from the post mortem will be completed soon and you and the parents and soon everyone in Storybrooke will have an answer for what happened to the baby. Until then please just stop doubting yourself and your abilities,” Ruby pleaded. Belle nodded, Ruby’s words soothing her worries like a balm. She leaned forward and pressed her lips to Ruby’s in a kiss, thanking her for being there and providing the words she needed to hear. Her hand buried itself in Ruby’s hair and her other arm wrapped around her waist to pull her closer.

Someone gasped and dropped something, Ruby and Belle sprung apart and looked to the door which was wide open. Granny stood there, a shattered mug and a puddle of tea at her feet, staring at Ruby and Belle. The three of them stared at each other, unsure of what to do before Granny shook her head slightly and walked away leaving them in stunned silence.

Chapter Text

“Oh my god,” Belle’s face went stark white so quickly that Ruby was scared that she was going to pass out. “We’ve been found out, we’re going to be thrown out,” Belle whispered, her voice thin and shrill.

“Belle calm down, we don’t know for sure what’s going to happen-” Ruby tried to sooth but she was just as scared as Belle was.

“Calm down? You’re telling me to calm down when we have been found out? We live in a convent for fuck’s sake Ruby, what we have is forbidden here. If word gets out to the community? We’ll be run out of town,” new tears pricked at Belle’s eyes. Ruby reached up to wipe the tears from Belle’s eyes but Belle recoiled from her touch.

“Belle…” Ruby whispered she could feel her heart breaking.

“Let’s face it, Ruby, ever since we have gotten together we’ve hit roadblock after roadblock. Is this all we can have together? Staying hidden and in the shadows constantly looking over our shoulders for fear that we might be found out?”

“Belle what are you saying?” Ruby asked, tears welling in her eyes.

“I’m saying that maybe we aren’t such a good idea anymore; that us being together has caused us more heartache than we can bare,” Belle said looking towards the floor and avoiding Ruby’s eyes.

“Belle please, don’t do this. We can get through this, just please don’t give up on us. I love you, and I don’t want to lose you and what we have together,” Ruby pleaded.

“I love you too,” Belle whispered, “But what do we even have together?”

“We have love, isn’t that enough?”

“I don’t know.”

Ruby didn’t know what to say, she could feel everything falling apart around her and slipping right through her fingers. Belle still wouldn’t look at her, instead, her eyes were trained on the table in front of her, piled high with books.

“If that's what you think, then I can’t change your mind. But just know that I’m not giving up hope for us,” Ruby said before walking out of the study and back to her room. She looked at their beds still pushed together and something in her broke, she sat down as sobs wracked her body. Pulling Belle’s pillow to her chest, muffling the sound of her sobs in it as Belle’s scent flooded her senses. She fell asleep curled around Belle’s pillow after she pushed the beds apart.


“Mrs. Collins, I can see you now,” Belle said, looking up from her clipboard and smiling warmly at a heavily pregnant woman sitting in the waiting area.

“Oh,” Mrs. Collins said looking down at her bump, “That’s all right dear, I need to use the lav. You go onto the next person,” her smile was tight and insincere with her hand protectively over her baby bump.

“I can wait for you, it’s all right,” Belle tried to save face.

“Oh no no no, I’ll just wait and see the next one,” Mrs. Collins insisted. Belle nodded before turning around to get a new clipboard.

“I wouldn’t want to risk it, not with her you know?” the woman next to Mrs. Collins said in a hushed voice. Belle stopped in her tracks, a hard lump forming in her throat.

“I’d rather be safe than sorry, that’s for sure,” Mrs. Collins answered.

“Belle, are you alright?” Emma asked, pulling Belle out of her stupor.

“I’m- I’m fine, thanks for asking Emma,” Belle said breathlessly, trying to sound nonchalant.

“Look, I can take Mrs. Collins but if you need a break, there’s some glassware in the back room that needs sterilizing,” Emma put a comforting hand on Belle’s shoulder while frowning in the direction of Mrs. Collins and the women sitting next to her.

“Thank you,” Belle nodded before rushing towards the back room. Ruby watched as Belle hurried off; feeling the need to go to her but not wanting to overstep the boundaries Belle had already set down.

“Oi, we’ve got a delivery to attend to,” Granny’s gruff voice punctured Ruby’s thoughts.

“Oh um right, let’s go then,” Ruby stuttered not quite sure where to look or what to do with her hands. She gathered her equipment and followed Granny down to their bikes, determined to talk only about the birth and only the birth.

“All right, Mrs. Van Winkle how are we doing today?” Ruby asked as she and Granny walked into the small flat.

“Didn’t even think this one would come today until I stood up and my water broke all over my kitchen floor,” Mrs. Van Winkle groaned as a contraction began. “Jeanne watch the little ones please; make sure they’re occupied,” she gritted out to her teenaged daughter.

“You’d be surprised how often that happens especially once women are on their fifth pregnancy,” Granny said as she guided Mrs. Van Winkle to her bedroom in order to get her ready for labor. Ruby stripped the bed linens and began preparing everything she and Granny would need for the birth as Granny coached Mrs. Van Winkle through her contractions and began to examine her.

“Looks like you’re already 5 centimeters dilated, how long would you say you’ve had contractions dear?” Granny asked.

“It’s hard to tell, I thought it was just those Braxton Hicks things you’ve told me about before and wrote it off. I think they started last night maybe?” Mrs. Van Winkle explained. Granny put her fetoscope to Mrs. Van Winkle’s stomach and listened, a frown creased her eyebrows and she repositioned the fetoscope to a higher positioned and listened.

“Is everything all right?” Mrs. Van Winkle asked looking nervous for the first time since Granny and Ruby had arrived there.

“It would appear that the baby is presenting in a breech position,” Granny explained.

“You’re not fully dilated, we can still move you to Hospital if you would feel more comfortable there,” Ruby suggested.

“No, I’m comfortable here in my own bed where I’ve had all my others,” Mrs. Van Winkle said fiercely.

“Well you’re in luck then, Nurse Lucas is our best midwife when it comes to breech births,” Granny said. Ruby felt her heart skip but didn’t want to dwell too much on Granny’s words; she instead jumped into Granny’s place.

“Okay, Mrs. Van Winkle I’m going to need you to change positions,” Ruby instructed.

“What? I can’t move,” Mrs. Van Winkle said.

“We’ll help you, I know it’s a rotten situation but believe me, this will help ensure that the baby is delivered safely,” Ruby explained.

“She’s right, come on dear we’ll help you get into the right position,” Granny said, supporting Mrs. Van Winkle as she and Ruby helped get her into a sitting position with her bottom nearly off the bed.

“Good this is good,” Ruby whispered to herself, “Okay Mrs. Van Winkle I’m sure you want to give a mighty push as this next contraction comes but this baby needs to come very slowly. So pant, just pant for me,” Ruby demonstrated just to make the message clear. “Little push now,” Ruby got into position between Mrs. van Winkle’s knees as saw the little bottom of the baby pushing its way out of the birth canal. “Okay stop,” Ruby commanded, “You’re doing brilliantly. Little push, little push and stop.”

Mrs. Van Winkle fell back against Granny as the contraction ended, “Good job dear,” she whispered into her ear.

“Bravo, the baby’s bottom is now delivered. Now I need you to stay extremely still as I hook my fingers over her legs and bring them into the world, breathe very gently,” Ruby instructed focusing on delicately birthing the baby’s legs and being mindful of the cord.

“Here Nurse Lucas, so the baby doesn’t get cold,” Granny handed her a clean towel to wrap the baby’s body in.

“Thank you, now keep holding still as I gently loosen my grasp on the baby and let them hang,” Ruby said. Mrs. Van Winkle looked as if Ruby was mad but didn’t move a muscle as Ruby gently eased her hand from the baby and carefully let it hang for just a moment.

“You’re nearly there,” Granny whispered, patting the woman on the shoulder comfortingly.

Ruby could tell another contraction was coming, “Now Mrs. Van Winkle push. ” Mrs. Van Winkle gave a guttural yell as she pushed the baby’s head into the world, Ruby gently turned the baby as it eased out of the canal and Granny gently encouraged her until the baby’s cries filled the room. Mrs. Van Winkle slumped against Granny in exhaustion.

“It’s a girl!” Ruby smiled as she more securely wrapped the newborn in the towel and put her in her mother’s waiting arms. Mrs.Van Winkle smiled down at her new daughter as Ruby cut the cord. Once the placenta had been born and Granny made sure the baby, now named Lucy, had latched properly and begun to nurse, Ruby and Granny made their way back to Antioch House.

“I meant what I said in there,” Granny spoke up as they locked up their bicycles.

“What?”

“I meant it when I said that you are the best when it comes to breech births,” Granny said firmly. “And Nurse French is one of the most well-read midwives we’ve had in years. It would be a disservice to the community if you two were to ever leave.”

“Neither of us wants to leave,” Ruby said, catching onto what Granny was saying. “But we understand if we couldn’t live in Antioch House anymore.”

“Nurse Lucas why on earth would you and Nurse French not be allowed to live in Antioch House?”

“Because of what you saw-”

“What I saw was two people who clearly love each other.”

“But you’re a nun and the Bible says-”

“My dear I know exactly what the Bible says,” Granny said sternly, “But I think some people focus too closely on individual scriptures and forget the overall message of it.”

“So we can stay here?”

“So long as my stubborn arse lives here, there will always be a home here for you and Nurse French,” Granny smiled warmly at Ruby. Before she could stop herself Ruby threw her arms around Granny, tears brimming in her eyes.

“Thank you,” she sniffled into the old woman’s habit.

“Now go, tell her,” Granny said, “And be happy.” Ruby nodded and sprinted into Antioch House and up to her and Belle’s room, finding Belle sitting on her bed reading a file.

“Thank god you’re here, I have something I wanted to talk to you about,” Ruby said sitting next to Belle. “What’s this?” she asked gesturing to the file in Belle’s hands.

“It’s the post mortem file from Philip Thompson,” Belle said.

“What does it say?” Ruby asked her excitement fading.

“That he had a lung defect, nothing that I nor anyone could have seen when he was born. It wasn’t my fault.”

“You see? I knew it wasn’t,” Ruby smiled wide. “How’s the family taking it?”

“They’re relieved that at least they have an answer to what happened, but I don’t know how you could ever bounce back from that,” Belle whispered.

“I think they can with time, I mean look at Granny. She’s dealt with everything from cholera outbreaks to air raids but she’s still here. She’s had to have seen some of the worst that can happen in these conditions but she’s just as stubborn as ever.”

Belle chuckled but it seemed she realized how closely she and Ruby were sitting and scooted back, “You’ve talked to Granny?”

“Yeah we had a delivery together and actually she told me that she accepts us and that we’ll always have a place here if we want it,” Ruby said. “Do you?”

“Do I what?”

“Want to stay here with me?”

Belle’s eyes finally connected with Ruby’s for the first time since Granny found them together, “I would love that.”

They pushed their beds back together that night.

Chapter Text

“So let me get this straight, you think that my son is the long lost baby you gave up because they have the same birthday and you to quote ‘just know’? Miss Swan, I’m sorry but this sounds incredibly far-fetched,” Regina said as she, Emma, and Killian sat in her study.

“Believe me I know, but I just I know it in my bones that Henry is the same baby that I gave up all those years ago,” Emma said.

“Exactly you gave him up, so you do not get to waltz into our lives and expect to be his mother. I am his mother Miss Swan,” Regina glared at her.

“Regina that’s not what she’s asking,” Killian squeezed Emma’s hand comfortingly.

“I just want a chance to meet him, just so he knows who I am. And if all goes well I would like to get to know him.”

“Well that’s all good and noble but you are forgetting one thing, Miss Swan,” Regina cleared her throat, “You have no proof that my Henry is your son, now I’m very moved by your story but as his mother I cannot trust the safety of my son in a complete stranger with a sad story.”

“You saw me,” Emma said tears forming in her eyes, “That day that you picked him up, you saw me running after your car. You were in a black car and he was wrapped in a yellow blanket and I know that you saw me.”

Regina looked stunned, her mouth hanging open slightly. “That was you?”

“Yes.”

Regina looked down at her hands, tongue firmly between her teeth as she mulled over her thoughts before looking up, “You will understand that I want to verify this as fully as I can before I agree to anything?”

“I understand and I, fortunately, have access to those records,” Emma explained, “When you’re a midwife you get access to that information,” she answered Regina’s quirked eyebrow.

“I see,” Regina pursed her lips together. “How soon can you get your hands on them?”

“Next week.”

Regina sighed and closed her eyes, her fingertips massaging her temples, “Well then bring them to me by next week and I’ll a have barrister look over them and draw up an agreement in writing. Is this amenable to you?”

“Yes, although I have one more question,” Emma said searching for the right words. “How much does Henry know about this situation?”

“He knows he’s adopted if that’s what you’re asking,” Regina said sharply, “I at least managed to do that in between the midnight feedings, temper tantrums, and school projects.”

“Regina, I’m not here to disrespect you or to erase everything you’ve done these past eleven years, I’m not disputing that you are Henry’s mother. I just want a chance to get to know him now that I have the opportunity. I’ll have the records sent to you by the end of this week if you need to reach me just ring Antioch House.”

“I’ll be in touch,” Regina said through clenched teeth. Emma sensed that despite the woman’s trepidations she would keep her word.

“You did brilliantly love,” Killian said as they walked out of Regina’s house.

“I did?” Emma let out a shaky breath.

“Of course, not many people can stand their ground against her like you do. It’s actually one of the most attractive parts of you,” he said, a hungry look in his eye.

“Easy tiger, I have to go on my rounds as soon as we get back to the East End,” Emma quirked an eyebrow at him.

“Tonight then? It’s pasta night at Chez Jones,” he grinned smugly at her.

“Hmmm well I do love pasta,” Emma mused, “I suppose I could stop by after I’m finished with my rounds.” The bus slowed to a stop on the corner that Antioch House sat, Emma stood up from her seat only to have Killian catch her hand in his.

He placed a tender kiss to her knuckle, “Until I see you tonight my lady.”

“You are such a charmer,” Emma rolled her eyes and smiled.

“Only for you love,” he called as she hurried off the bus. She was able to run into the convent and throw on her uniform and dash back downstairs to get her assignments.

“Cutting it close Nurse Swan,” Sister Ingrid chided with a small smile.

“I know I’m sorry Sister, we hit a spot of traffic on the way back,” Emma apologized.

“Here are your rounds for today, all of them pretty standard check-ins except for your last one. Marco Bonardi has been having some heart problems and I’m afraid he’s not doing well and the situation needs to handled delicately.”

“The old Italian who runs the furniture shop, he’s always been so sweet. I can handle this,” Emma nodded.

“Wait, Nurse Swan, Mr. Bonardi is in a very bad place. He refused treatment until his son insisted that he see Doctor Whale. There’s quite a lot of tension there, but I know that you can handle it if things start to get ugly,” Sister Ingrid warned.

“Hello Mr. Bonardi,” Emma said brightly as she strode into his room, “How have you been feeling today?”

“No better than I felt yesterday,” Marco grimaced as he tried to push himself into a sitting position. “And please call me Marco.”

“Lie back, I’ll let you know when you need to get up,” Emma placed her hand on his shoulder. Even through his thick sweater and nightshirt, Emma could feel how thin he had become. “Marco is there someone who can look after you during the day? Make sure you’re eating? Call us if anything is wrong?”

“Yes, my store keeper can call you,” Marco nodded.

“He also has me,” a voice asserted. Emma turned to see a tall man with dark hair and striking blue eyes standing in the doorway.

“And you are?”

“He is no one,” Marco huffed.

“My name’s August Booth, I’m his son,” the man stepped into the room but still kept a few paces back from the bed.

“Feh your name is Agostino Bonardi. This August Booth is no son of mine.”

Emma felt her eyebrows shoot practically up to her hairline, she busied herself with rummaging through her medical bag as she searched for a way to dissolve the tension in the room. “Why don’t I take your blood pressure, Marco?”

Marco held out his arm her for but kept his stern gaze on August who stared at the floor. Tension filled the room as Emma explained to Marco and August that she would be there every evening to give Marco an injection and to check his ankles and the sore on his shoulder.

“Nurse Swan, do you have any children?” Marco interrupted her rambling.

“Um-” Emma stood gobsmacked and trying to find the right way to answer.

“You young people are so lucky, lives stretching out in front of you full of opportunity. No one to break your heart.”

“Papa-” August said softly.

“You do not get to call me that, not since you’ve spit on everything I spent my life building for you.”

Emma could tell that nothing she said at that moment would ease the tension in the room, she kept her eyes down as she repacked her bag and bid Marco and his son goodbye. She hurried down the stairs towards the back of Marco’s furniture shop and only slowed when she heard August’s heavy footsteps following her.

“I’m sorry about that,” he said when he caught up to her.

“It’s not the worst I’ve seen, believe me,” Emma smiled sympathetically at him.

“It wasn’t my idea to change my name,” he said quickly, “My publisher thought it would be better if I changed it to something more neutral sounding.”

“I’m sure your father will come around.”

“I changed my name 3 years ago and you just saw the first time he spoke to me.” Emma tried to school her face into a plain expression but couldn’t help that her eyebrows knitted together. “Don’t let that color your opinion of him too much, we had a huge row and I told him to never speak to me. And to be fair it’s not as if I reached out before this.”

“Well you’re here now, that has to count for something.”

“I don’t know if it’s enough though,” August looked back towards the stairs, his hands stuffed in his pockets.

“All you can do right now is try. You can’t control how your father is going to react, but you can control your actions.”

“I suppose you’re right,” he sighed, “I’ll see you tomorrow?” Emma nodded before throwing her leg over her bike and settling herself onto the seat.


 

“Everything all right love?” Killian asked as Emma walked into his flat.

“It’s nothing, just a tough patient,” Emma shrugged off her coat and handed it to Killian’s outstretched hand.

“Want to talk about it?”

“You know I can’t, part of patient confidentiality.”

“Oh right, well if there’s anything I can do just let me know Swan.”

“Any chance that pasta’s ready? I’m starving,” Emma smiled hopefully.

“Aye love, just a few more minutes until dinner is served. Liam!” he called down the hall, “dinner’s almost ready. Time to wash up lad.”

“But I’m almost done with this chapter!”

“And it’ll still be there after dinner, now come wash up!”

Emma watched as Liam came out of his room and stomped to the kitchen sink to wash his hands; he really was the spitting image of Killian right down to the way their eyebrows nearly had a mind of their own. Once everyone had washed up they sat at the small kitchen table to eat, trading stories about their day.

“Dad the Cub Scouts are going on a field trip out to the country new weekend, can I go?”

“Sure, do I need to sign something?”

“Nurse Lucas will be giving them out at the next meeting I expect.”

“Well then, I don’t see why you can’t go, just make sure you don’t fall behind on your school work.”

Emma was lost in thought, had Marco and August had conversations like this one all those years ago? Had Marco checked August’s school work and signed permission slips? Had they ever been close the way Killian and Liam were now?

“Swan? Swan? Emma!” Killian pulled her out of her thoughts.

“Oh sorry, I was just thinking for a minute there. What were we talking about?”

“If you wanted to back into town with me next weekend since it appears I’ll have the day to myself.” Emma knows he was talking about going to see Regina and possibly Henry.

“Maybe, I’ll have to see if I have that weekend off.”

“You don’t get all weekends off?” Liam asked.

“It comes with being a midwife, some just can’t wait until Monday to come out.”

“You’d think they’d be more considerate,” Liam smirked.

Emma and Killian chuckled, “Well babies have different things to worry about than being considerate to midwives I suppose.”

“Liam, why don’t you go back to your book lad?” Killian said but Emma could feel him looking at her.

“You mean I don’t have to do the dishes?”

“I know how exciting Captain Nemo’s adventures can be, go on.” Liam shot up from his seat and practically ran back to his room. Emma helped Killian gather up the dishes to put in the sink, mentally preparing herself for what she knew would come.

“You seem vexed love.”

“I told you I’m fine Killian.”

“Forgive me Swan but I’m not buying it; you’ve always been something of an open book to me and I can tell that something is bothering you more so than just a difficult patient. Are you nervous about meeting Henry? That he’ll resent you? Because I have known that boy almost his entire life and I can tell you he’ll love you.”

“I wasn’t worried about that, well I am but that isn’t what’s on my mind tonight.” Emma took a deep breath, trying to carefully find her words. “Is there anything Liam could do to make you not love him anymore? Something to disown him?”

Killian looked taken aback, “Not love Liam? No never. I’d never abandon my son.”

“How can you be so sure?”

“Because I bloody well know what it feels like when a father abandons you,” Killian said harshly. Emma gasped softly and Killian looked ashamed of himself. “Emma I’m sorry, it’s just that man could hardly call himself a father after what he did to my brother and my mother and me.”

“What happened?”

“He loved betting on horses more than he loved us. Until one day when it caught up to him and he couldn’t pay up on a bet. So he up and left us in the middle of the night; it nearly destroyed mum I remember there were days that she just couldn’t get out of bed let alone care for the both of us. So my brother had to take on being the man of the house, he worked and made sure we had food on the table and that I stayed out of trouble. And despite my best efforts to be a rebellious little shite everything seemed to work, we weren’t well off but we were getting by and as the years went by mum started getting better. That is right up until the war, Liam felt it was his duty to join the Navy; he didn’t make it back. They got attacked in the middle of the damn Atlantic, he had to have done something especially heroic, they gave my mother and I a medal at his funeral.”

“It’s not enough, is it?” Emma placed a hand on his cheek and saw tears collecting in his eyes.

“Not at all, naming my son after him still doesn’t feel like enough after all he did. I can only hope I’m doing half as much for little Liam than my brother did for me.  He was a much better man than I could ever hope to be.”

“You’re a better man than you know Killian,” Emma stood up on her tiptoes to kiss him properly. “There’s not many who love their children as unconditionally as you love your son.”


 

Marco’s condition did not improve with Emma’s daily visits; she knew that she was only prolonging the inevitable but she didn’t feel that her job would be done if there wasn’t any improvement between Marco and August. The problem was that neither of them knew how to approach the other. Emma could see that August was searching for something to say and that Marco was waiting for him to say something.

August had taken to sitting in a chair in the corner of the room during Emma’s visits, looking everywhere but at his father, before coming up with an excuse to leave the room. Emma could see the hurt and disappointment in Marco’s eyes each time his son turned to leave before he spat out a disdainful “Goodbye, Mr. Booth” to his son’s retreating back.

“August why don’t I teach you how to perform some lymphatic massage, just in case your father needs it when I’m not here.”

“Oh no, I don’t think that’ll be a good idea.”

“I’d much prefer it if you do it, Nurse.”

“Honestly you both are just as bad as the other; now August hold out your hands,” Emma pulled a bottle of oil out of her medicine kit and poured a small amount into August’s trembling hand.

“Now, grasp your father’s ankle firmly and push your hands up to his knee,” Emma instructed once she had pulled back the bed sheets to reveal Marco’s slightly swollen feet.

August gulped and did as instructed but applied barely any pressure.

“Try going a little harder, we need to improve your father’s circulation.”

“If he had stayed here and run the shop instead of running off to write in his fancy flat he wouldn’t have such delicate hands,” Marco said.

“Marco it’s probably for the best if we have some quiet right now,” Emma said forcefully. “You’re doing great August, just a little more pressure.” She watched as August massaged his father’s ankles and calves, her eyes flicked to Marco’s face. His gaze was fixed on his son and his face unreadable as Emma coached August through massaging the other legs.

“Right well I think I’ve got the hang of it now,” August got up off of the foot of the bed. “I’d best wash up.” He walked quickly out of the room, Emma thought she saw his hand come up to wipe his eyes but turned her attention to pulling the sheets and blankets down to cover Marco’s feet.

“You must think that I am an awful man,” he said.

“I don’t think that at all,” Emma assured him.
“My wife and I we tried for so long to have a child and then things began to happen back in the old country. Friends going missing, hundreds arrested and shipped into exile, it was not safe to stay there and certainly no place to raise a family. So my wife and I, we move here and open the shop and a year later she told me she was expecting,” an easy smile spread across Marco’s face as he seemed to savor the memory. “But you know what happened then, the Blitz, they took her from me and left just me and Agostino alone together.”

“Marco I’m so sorry, that cannot have been easy.”

“It wasn’t raising a teenager on my own but I tried to teach him everything I knew, just as my father had done for me and his father before him. I wanted to be supportive of his writing but one day he comes up to me all excited about getting published and he thrusts this bundle of pages into my hands and I see the name he has chosen for himself and it felt as if he turned his back on everything I have done for him. As if he didn’t want to be associated with all of this that my wife and I had built for him.”

“I’m sure that’s not true, that can’t be true.”

“You don’t have to protect my feelings Nurse, I am an old man and I know that I’m dying. Whatever you have to say to me can’t hurt as bad as that.”

“Then you’ll forgive me for suggesting this Marco, but you might try meeting your son halfway. It could work wonders” Emma snapped her medical bag shut and stood up to leave.

“But what if that doesn’t work Nurse?” Marco asked, Emma turned back and was struck for the first time just how ill he was, his pajamas and sweater hung off his body making him look even thinner than he was, his skin was so pale it looked nearly translucent, and his breathing was raspy and uneven.  

“I can’t make promises, but I will say that you can only control your actions. You can go to bed at night knowing that at least you tried.”

“I see, thank you, Nurse Swan,” Marco said, clutching his blankets and not quite meeting her eyes, “I’ll see you tomorrow I suppose.”

“Good night Marco,” Emma nodded as she left, hoping that there was still enough time for him to even attempt to make amends. Over the next few days Marco’s health was at a standstill, while he wasn’t getting any worse he also wasn’t improving no matter what Emma tried. It did seem that August and Marco’s relationship was getting better, even if the improvement was minute. August now sat in on the entire visit instead of ducking out halfway through, Emma could also tell that he was continuing to massage his father’s feet when she wasn’t there. Marco at the very least wasn’t glaring at August throughout Emma’s visits and Emma could have sworn she saw a copy of August’s book wedged between his mattress and the bed frame.

Until Emma got the call she had been dreading from August, “Nurse Swan please come quickly!” August had panted into the phone, “My father, he’s not breathing right nurse and I don’t know what to do.”

“All right, I’m on my way August, just make sure he’s breathing and that he stays calm. I’ll be there as quick as I can.” Emma grabbed her medical bag and raced down the stairs of the convent and peddled as fast as her legs could to the furniture shop. In no time Emma was up the stairs and examining Marco.

“His heart rate is very fast,” Emma said removing her stethoscope. “Try massaging his ankles and feet, we need to try to improve his circulation while we can.”

“Nurse Swan,” Marco wheezed, his hand reaching up towards her, “Tell the truth. Am I dying?”

Emma paused, at a loss for words, truthfully he was. He was dying and the most that she could do was ensure that he was comfortable. “Yes,” she nodded at him, tears starting to cloud her vision, “I’m so sorry Mr. Bonardi.”

“No no, don’t be sorry. I have had my time and I’m afraid that I’ve wasted a large part of it.”

“You didn’t and you still have some time to make things right,” Emma whispered to him before looking towards August.

“Papa,” August sank into a chair near the bed, “Papa I’m so sorry. I should never have turned my back on you.”

“No no no my boy, it is I who should be sorry.” Marco held out his hand, curled with age and still calloused from a lifetime of work. August clasped it in his own hand and tears fell down his face. “I was the one to turn my back on you. You are my son and I forgot that.”

“Papa…”

“Let me finish, I only have so much time left. Whether you are August Booth or Agostino Bonardi, you are my son. I love you.”

“I love you too,” August choked out and kissed his father’s knuckles.

“I only wish that I could finish your book, I was just getting to the good part,” Marco chuckled before coughing.

“Well it’s fitting, I was working on this,” August pulled a small wooden whale from his pocket. “I know I’m a little rusty but-”

“You always had a talent for carving, but maybe you should stick to writing,” Marco smiled before taking one last breath. A small smile remained etched on his face as August began to sob still clutching his father’s hand. Emma reached forward and gently closed Marco’s eyes and pull the bed sheet up to cover Marco’s face.


Emma sat at the back of the church for Marco’s wake with Killian and the other midwives. It had been a somber occasion as Marco had been known and well liked throughout the community having made most of their furniture with care and skill. She listened as the priest spoke about Marco and lead them all in prayer. It wasn’t long before it was over and they were all dismissed and she and Killian walked hand in hand down the church steps.

“Emma wait!” Emma turned to see August jogging down the steps to meet them. “I just wanted to thank you, for everything you did.”

“Your welcome, I was only doing my job,” Emma blushed.

“No, you did much more than you were asked to and I can’t even think of a way to properly thank you.”

“Really you’re welcome; I did everything I could for him. So what are you going to do now? I heard Marco left you the shop.”

“I’m going to keep it open, I figured I’d get back to my roots,” August shrugged and smiled.

“What about your writing?”

“I’ll still be doing that too; woodworker by day and writer by night. I think that’ll make him happy.”

“I’m sure it would, good luck August.”

“Same to you Nurse Swan,” he smiled before turning on his heel and walking back towards the church.

“You really are a marvel you know that,” Killian said as they began to walk.

“Only because you mention it so often. Thank you for coming with me by the way.”

“Of course plus Marco was a great man. Loved Liam and made him some toys when he was a wee lad. And speaking of lad’s,” he turned to her with a serious expression.

“I called Regina, she had a barrister look over the records you sent her. She’s agreed to let you and Henry spend some time together if you’re ready for it?”

Emma looked back at the church thinking about everything she had seen the past couple of weeks, “Yes I’m ready. I want to meet my son.”