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By AngelMoon Girl
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Disclaimer: Once Upon a Time is the property of ABC and those nerdtastic twins Kitsis and Horowitz. Unfortunately I can't claim much more than the story idea itself, and even that is up for debate what with the countless fanfictions floating around out there also exploring the Snow/Emma dynamic. Well... here's my take.

Summary: A severe fever brings Emma painful dreams of a childhood that could have been; meanwhile, a frantic Mary Margaret tries desperately to nurse her daughter back to health. 3 parts.


"Hiding Place", by AngelMoon Girl


"Don't peek, Emma."

"I'm not peeking!" she squealed. But there was a slit between her fingers, and through them she could just barely spy the beautiful woman with long black hair, and her expression of playful skepticism.

"Princesses don't lie. It's improper." She seemed to know everything; the world's secrets were her command. In fact, most things were. Because if Emma was a princess, well, that meant her seemingly omnipotent companion was the queen. Queen Snow White, fairest in all the land. But none of those titles meant much to the little girl. She just wanted to play hide and seek with the one person who loved her most... except maybe Daddy, of course. Her tiny digits slid back into place.

"Okay, okay! I'm not looking, Mommy! Just let me count already!" Emma huffed. She could hear Snow chuckling as she began chanting numbers, but her mother's mirth slowly faded until only Emma's voice remained. The child opened her eyes when she realized that she was alone. Her breathing sounded loud in these opulent halls, the columns towering and tapestries billowy. There was something discomforting about the grandeur of it all, standing in the middle of this castle that seemed plucked from the pages of a fairytale, but Emma could not muster up the proper amount of fear when she knew her protector was lurking nearby. An excited giggle escaped her lips before she remembered that she was supposed to be being stealthy, so Emma slapped a hand over her mouth. It would be no good to ruin the fun before they'd even gotten started.

She let her feet dance across the carpet in tiptoe, palms tracing the walls as the little princess took up her search. She jumped out at every corner, hoping to spook her unsuspecting mother, but Snow was a pro at this game. She had a knack for knowing where to go without being seen; always had. Emma recalled the stories she'd heard relayed often, of her parents' past. How living off the forest had been an adventure in hiding. It was sort of silly to think about her mother like that, though. Mommy certainly didn't look like a bandit... but she sure knew how to conceal herself like one!

Emma decided it was time to expand, moving on to the next floor, but she upturned little more than dust in every room. The girl began to forget herself, bumping into furniture with reckless abandon. Her small and delicate features crinkled into what Daddy called her "Pinchy Emma Face", but she couldn't help it. Emma didn't like when her mother disappeared for too long.

"Moooommy! Come out, come out, wherever you aaare!"

Her patience had waned, not that she kept much in supply. No, now Emma was beginning to get a little anxious. Mommy almost never kept her waiting this long. She'd stamp a foot or clap her hands or make some sort of noise, teasing Emma toward her general direction. But everything was just... still. Like death.

Emma shivered.

"Mommy?"

Nothing. No hint that she was playing; no hint that she had ever even been there in the first place.

But wait. That wasn't right. Snow White was always there, because she was Emma's Mommy! She loved Emma!

Emma's head began to ache. She didn't understand why strange thoughts were flitting their way in, messing with her perfect reality. Better to just find Mommy and ignore the sneaky whisperings, because she didn't at all want to hear what they were saying.

Then something caught Emma's attention out the window, and her heart froze.

Purple plumes engulfed the horizon, building against the sky's darkening canvas like some strange storm only a nightmare could dredge up. The air itself seemed to be fairly crackling and buzzing as it exuded electricity, and Emma could feel the hairs on her neck stand up. There was something very eerily familiar about those clouds, something niggling in the back of the girl's mind about curses and evil queens, but her growing terror overpowered all else. For a long moment she just stood there, paralyzed. Until she wasn't.

The scream that had been burgeoning in the back of her throat broke free, and on the wings of its release came the return of feeling to the rest of her body. Emma started to run for sanctuary.

Maybe if she yelled loud enough, Mommy would hear her, Mommy would find her, and Mommy would know -

Something was terribly wrong.

oOo

Mary Margaret hummed quietly to herself as she toweled down the dishes, but it was more a means of filling the apartment with white noise than any sign of contentment on her part.

It had been a grueling day, to say the least, and the source of most of her frustration could now be found napping a floor above.

"Took her long enough," the schoolteacher mumbled, with an exasperated toss of the head. She shook out a plate, scraping a few lone chicken bones into the garbage before starting in on the scrubbing. It was an endless cycle - wash, rinse, repeat - but Mary Margaret enjoyed the sensation of domesticity it brought her. Funny how something so mundane could make her feel so worthwhile. So... maternal.

God knows it was probably one of the few things she actually managed to get right, in the whole beautiful mess that was her motherhood.

The raven-haired woman born of a different world sighed. It was a tricky thing, being a mother. Grow the child, birth the child, teach it and nurture it until one day you've turned a helpless little baby into a fully functional adult. For most people the progression was slow and wonderful - unless you were Mary Margaret, who blinked and missed her squalling newborn's evolution into strikingly attractive, bitingly stubborn Emma Swan. For them, every day was an uphill battle... though Mary Margaret supposed that was to be expected, when said daughter had the unique advantage of being the same age as herself. It kind of put a wrench in things even at the best of times. Not to mention the fact that her roommate-turned-offspring had an annoying tendency to build twenty foot high walls around herself, but Mary Margaret was no mere human. She was also Snow White, survivor and princess all rolled into one, and if there was anything that amalgamation gave her, it was the boundless courage to fight - tooth and nail - for those she loved.

So if Emma had walls, well, Mary Margaret had the chisel.

Though today she might as well have traded it in for a wrecking ball, or better yet a bulldozer.

Emma was notorious for suffering in silence; it was a flaw she hid well. Never wanting to be a burden, never wanting an excess of attention for fear of craving it too visibly, the headstrong blonde took it upon herself to handle every issue without aid. It was for these reasons exactly that Mary Margaret was not surprised when she figured out Emma had decided not to tell anyone about her cold symptoms that persisted until now, into something much more serious. Something that, worryingly enough, had wearied Mary Margaret's daughter down to the point where she no longer resisted the idea of bed rest.

And if there was one thing Emma Swan did not do, it was bed rest.

Mary Margaret faltered in her ministrations. She could not shake the foreboding sense of something being very very wrong, and it was then that she realized -

The stifling silence.

That was it. That was the cause for alarm bells resounding in her head.

Emma sleeping? Why, that was hardly anything new. It should be lauded, in fact, given her current state of ill health. But Emma sleeping without a god-awful snore? That was new. That was not a good sign.

Mary Margaret laid down her towel. Perhaps it was just the instinct to be overprotective that Emma seemed to bring out in her purely through the power of her existence, but the fair young twenty-eight year old couldn't resist the urge to check on her infinitely more fair twenty-eight year old.

oOo

Little Emma barreled down the castle byways, fear nearly choking her from the inside out. She could feel acutely the sweat pouring down her face, licking at her skin that was so, so hot. Was it summertime? She couldn't remember. The only thought in her mind was of purple - outrunning that scary, scary purple.

She wondered where the safest place to hide might be. She wished Mommy would finally come out. If Mommy were here, she would want to be in her arms.

There was no place safer.

oOo

Mary Margaret climbed the stairs slowly, trying to avoid the ones she knew creaked louder than others. Her ascension being the cautious and careful journey that it was, it gave her a few moments to question the necessity of this urge to hold vigil over her daughter. Emma was an adult, in every sense of the word. She knew how to take care of herself, if not always with the sort of "care" Mary Margaret wished she'd use. Or could give the girl, if Emma would let her. But that was the kicker -

If Emma enjoyed her coddling, she did so only briefly, before the walls went flying back up. The only time the cracks showed was when she was emotionally distraught.

"Mommy."

And... when sick?

The whimper was soft, and so fast it was almost a moan. Mary Margaret froze with one foot still airborne, all manner of logical thought flung out the window at that call; that one term of endearment she waited nine long months to hear... or more, if she were being honest with herself, for Emma was wanted far before her conception. But then came the curse, and all daydreams of giggled "Mommy"s from a cherub-cheeked princess were ripped away as surely as her baby. "Mom" was the closest she'd gotten, that one rushed time down in the mines with death nipping at their heels, and it had been gift enough. But this? This was a simultaneous ache of joy and pain; a little child's cry from a grown woman's lips. A taste of all that could have been.

Screw the creaky steps. Mary Margaret nearly jumped the last three in her haste toward the bedroom. If Emma wanted "Mommy", then Mommy she was going to get.


Part 1 of 3

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