Fandom: Once Upon A Time
Word Count: 3,133
Characters/Pairings: Emma, Snow White, Prince Charming, Henry, Cinderella, Grumpy, Sneezy, Thomas, Alexandra, Snow White/Prince Charming, Ella/Thomas
Spoilers: Up to Whatever Happened to Frederick
Disclaimer: I don't own Once Upon A Time and never will. No copyright infringement intended.
Summary: After a carriage accident in the dead of winter, Emma and James are left fighting for their lives.
It was Snow White who suggested that her husband and daughter take a carriage ride to explore the kingdom - She wanted Emma and James to get to know each other better. They had grown closer after the curse had been revealed (then broken several months later) and the David persona had worn off, but Emma was still a little wary around her father. It broke James’ heart that she didn’t trust him, but he coped by letting Emma do what she wanted. He hoped they’d have a better relationship in the future, but he honestly wasn’t counting on it. The shepherd turned prince loved her enough to understand that he couldn’t force anything – Having Emma’s respect was just fine for the moment. It was Emma and Snow who were close, considering they had been friends and roommates for a year or so. It didn’t bother him no matter what he said. (He wished Snow believed him.)
Both Emma and James wanted Snow to go with them, but she declined, citing that she didn’t need to be in a carriage all day and that Henry needed someone to watch over him. (He honestly didn’t, but he wanted his mother and grandfather to get to know each other better also.)
“But there’s snow on the ground, Mom.” Emma thought that Fairy Tale World’s winter was much worse than the real world’s and hated it.
James winced – He was lucky if Emma even referred to him as James instead of David. It didn’t go unnoticed by Snow, who sighed and rolled her eyes. “Yes, there’s snow, but you’ll be fine since the carriages are built to handle winter. (James and Emma wouldn’t be fine, but no one knew that yet.)
“Fine. It’ll be fun, I guess. I have been wanting to explore this place.” Emma was actually looking forward to spending time with her father – She really did want to go to know him better and hated the fact that she was hurting him with her behavior. It was just a really big adjustment to get used to the Fairy Tale World and everything associated with it. Having parents was surreal, as was becoming a princess.
“Well, it’s settled then. You two should be back by nightfall and Henry and I will spend the day in the library.”
“Yes! I love the library! Bye, Mom! Bye, Grandpa! I’ll see you later.” The twelve year old took off for the library and his family laughed at his excitement.
“I’ll miss you while you’re gone, James. I love you.” Snow beamed at her husband and laughed when he kissed her.
“I’ll miss you too. Love you so much.” James hated being away from her, but he appreciated this time he’d have with Emma.
“I’ll see you when we get back.” Emma stood there awkwardly, unsure of how she should proceed. She got her answer when Snow hugged her.
“I love you, too, and I’ll also miss you. Have fun out there with your father.” Snow sent them off and then went after her grandson. She loved showing Henry her collection of books.
“It is really pretty out here.” Emma wished the carriage had heat because at least she’d be warm. Her father had offered her his coat since she had accidentally left hers back at the castle, but she had declined.
“I’m glad you think so.” James wished there weren’t awkward silences between them and he wished once again that the Evil Queen had been stopped before the curse could take effect. Life would have been so much better, and Emma wouldn’t have grown up in foster care and hated him. And the self-pity was back. James hated feeling like this – He knew Emma didn’t hate him, even though it felt like that sometimes. She just didn’t trust easily, and David had screwed everything up for him. He hated that fucking curse. (Snow would giggle if she heard his thoughts, because her – and Emma’s - language had rubbed off on him and she loved it.)
They were an hour into the journey when they ran into Cinderella, Thomas, and Alexandra. “She’s grown up so fast.” Emma tickled the toddler, who laughed at her.
“That she did. She’s beautiful.” Ella adored her daughter, and was so happy that she hadn’t been forced to give her up to Rumpelstiltskin. (Now a changed man, human and happily married to Belle.)
“You planning on having any more of them?” James thought that the two made cute kids. (And maybe he wanted the baby to have a playmate – Emma and Alexandra would have been if not for the curse.)
Ella snorted and Thomas answered his friend. “No. Alexandra’s enough for us. And as Ella likes to point out, she was pregnant for twenty-eight years and is not going through that again.”
“I don’t blame you.” Emma had hated pregnancy, but she didn’t mind the end result.
“Actually, neither do I. I completely forgot that aspect of the curse.” James was suddenly grateful that that situation hadn’t happened to Snow.
“We won’t keep you any longer. Enjoy the rest of your trip.” Ella, Thomas, and Alexandra walked away, heading off in a different direction.
Emma and James started back on their journey, and it was ten minutes later when they saw it – Clear as a day, despite the snow. Emma blinked and stared. “Am I seeing this for real? Is that a fucking unicorn?”
James laughed and didn’t scold her on the swearing. “Yes, that is a unicorn. They exist here, along with other creatures.”
“That is so awesome!” Emma watched as it galloped off towards the river and out of sight. The driver continued to take the carriage along the path.
Less than half an hour after the unicorn sighting, the horses got spooked by something off in the distance and since the carriage had been going faster, it set off a chain of events that couldn’t be stopped. The driver tried to stop the horses, but it was no use. They reared up in fear and the carriage twisted along with it. Emma wasn’t aware she was screaming until the carriage slammed down on the ground and sent her and James tumbling into the snow. She hit her head on the ground and slipped into unconsciousness.
When she woke up, the carriage was lying on the ground and the horses were gone. Emma cried out in pain when she tried to stand up, and gave up when she noticed her swollen ankle – She had broken it. Her whole body hurt, actually, and the former sheriff was freezing. “James? Wake up.” Despite the agonizing pain she was in, Emma crawled over to her father and shook him awake.
He slowly woke up and stared at his daughter for a few minutes. “Are you okay?” James didn’t care about himself in this moment – Emma was his priority.
“Not really. How about you?”
He wiggled his toes and sighed in relief when he realized he hadn’t broken anything. “I’m fine.” He slowly stood up and headed over to the carriage – The driver was obviously dead and James mourned for him for a few minutes. He grabbed his jacket and rushed back to Emma’s side.
Emma whined in pain when James propped her up for a few minutes to put his jacket on her – He wasn’t about let her freeze. Hopefully, it’d be enough until help came. “My back hurts.”
James lifted up the jacket and the shirt to check – Sure enough, her back was bleeding and also starting to bruise. He applied pressure to stop the bleeding and apologized when Emma winced. “You’re going to be just fine. It won’t be long until they find us.” He was wrong about that.
“Can I just say that I hate carriages? This sucks.”
“That it does.” He tried to stop Emma from laying down on the ground again, but his efforts were futile. He took comfort in the fact that his jacket was keeping most of the snow away from her.
James was freezing, but didn’t say anything – Emma would insist that he’d take the jacket back and he refused to do that to her. She was hurt worse and needed it more. Sure enough, Emma said something about it. “You can take the jacket back if you want.”
“No, Emma. And don’t try to tell me to take it again.”
“Okay, fine.” She sighed and tried to get comfortable, but it was impossible between her position, the snow, and her various injuries.
After four hours of being alone and not being found, James started to worry about someone finding them and getting help. It was starting to get dark out and he could tell Emma was getting worse. Her entire body was shaking from the cold. He could go and find someone to get help, but James refused to leave her alone. That was not an option. Plus, the concussion he had was making his head pound and it was not a good combination – Emma had already thrown up once from her own concussion, so he had had to move her into a different spot. He wasn’t about to do that again, however, for various reasons. “Are you feeling okay? Tell me if you need to vomit again.”
“I will.” Emma just wanted to be back in the nice, warm castle she shared with her parents and son. She missed it badly at the moment.
By hour six, James had given up on being found for the night, especially since it was completely dark. He was glad there wasn’t a full moon because they didn’t need werewolves on top of their other problems. He wrapped himself around a freezing Emma and tried to warm her – He ignored his own body temperature and wished they had some blankets. “What do you want me to do, Emma? Should I tell you a story?”
Emma laughed and then wished she hadn’t. That had been a big mistake – She cried out at the sudden pain that caused her. “Tell me about how you met Mom.” She had heard this story before, but she wanted her father’s take on it.
James smiled and then kissed the top of her head. “That sounds like a wonderful idea.” And so he started telling her all about how he met Snow White. By the end of it, she had fallen into unconsciousness. He didn’t think that was the greatest idea, but he was having a hard time thinking straight between the bitter cold and his injuries.
Two hours after later, the snow started falling again and James wished it would just go away. This was the last thing they needed. He tried to move around for a better position, but that unfortunately jarred Emma awake. “I’m so cold.” Her lips were chattering and she was blue, and he was sure he was the same way.
“I am, too. But the sun should be rising soon – They’ll find us. Your mother expected us back a long time ago. She has to be worried.” He hoped she wasn’t too worried – Snow didn’t need that stress right now.
“Okay.” Emma trusted him and she desperately hoped her father was right. She just wanted to go home and the thought made her cry.
“Don’t cry, sweetheart. Shhh. I won’t let anything happen to you.” Despite the fact that he was numb from the cold, James started rocking her back and forth to calm her down. It probably aggravated her injuries a little, but neither one cared at the moment.
Emma broke shortly after that. “It hurts and I’m so cold. Please make it stop, Daddy. Please. I don’t want to be here anymore.”
James started crying. “I know you hurt and that it’s freezing. I’m so sorry, Baby.” He didn’t think they were going to last much longer out here. He should have been happy about the “Daddy”, but it only made him worry even more about Emma.
“I’m just so tired.”
“Emma, baby, don’t fall asleep. It’s important that you don’t. I know you want to, but you can’t. Just stay awake for Daddy, okay? Can you do that for me?”
Emma nodded. “I’ll try.”
“That’s all I ask.” It was James who noticed him first – He nearly started laughing and crying at the same time in relief when he realized it was Grumpy. Doc followed up behind him, as did the rest of the dwarves.
“We’re here to take you home.” Grumpy tried to pry Emma from James’ grip – It was hard between the fact that both were freezing and that James didn’t want to let go of his daughter.
Doc snapped his fingers at and James stared at him. “Now, I know you want to help, and you can do that by letting go of Princess Emma. We’ll take care of her, I promise.”
“She needs me.” James had been taking care of her all night and he didn’t know anything else.
“We’ll get her the help she needs. You also need to get looked over. We’re taking you both back to the castle.”
“Alright.” James reluctantly let go of his daughter, and for the first time, he let himself go since he knew Emma was safe. He slipped into unconsciousness.
When he woke up, he was in his and Snow’s bed. For the first time since the accident, James was warm. However, his mind was on Emma. He tried to get out of the bed – A very arduous task – and leave the room. Sneezy stopped him in his tracks. “Sorry, sir. I’m under strict orders to not let you go anywhere. You are to stay in bed or, and I quote Snow White, “I will kick your ass.”
James laughed. “I don’t doubt that, but I need to see them, Sneezy. It’s imperative that I do.”
Sneezy eyed him warily. “I’m not going to be able to stop you, am I? Let’s go then.” He sneezed and led James down the hallway. He stopped briefly to check in on Henry and sighed in relief when he found his grandson reading a book. Henry bolted up out of the bed and then rushed to his side, hugging him.
“I’m so glad you and Mom are okay. Grandma and I were really worried about you.” Henry had spent most of the time trying to calm Snow down and reassure her that they’d both be fine, but he had been freaked out.
“I’m glad we are too. Now, I think it’s late and past your bedtime. Finish up your chapter and go to sleep.” He smiled at his grandson and then continued down the hallway to Emma’s room.
When James opened the door, Snow and Emma were sharing the bed. Snow was watching their daughter and also trying to keep her warm. It wasn’t a comfortable position, especially since Snow’s swollen stomach got in the way. “Shhh, don’t wake her. How are you feeling?” Snow whispered.
“Better, especially now that she’s safe. How is she?”
“Broken ankle, concussion, blood loss, and multiple bruises. And hypothermia – Which you also have. But you’ll both be fine.” Snow urged him over, and James rushed as fast as he could to their sides.
“I panicked out there, Snow. It was terrifying to see Emma so hurt and vulnerable.” He never wanted to see her like that again.
“But you kept her safe until help arrived, and that is all that matters. It could have ended badly out there, but it didn’t.” Snow couldn’t stop watching Emma – She was asleep and peaceful.
Emma stirred at her parents’ conversation. “Going on?”
“Your dad and I are just talking. Go back to sleep, Baby. We’re not going anywhere.” Snow tucked her hair behind her hairs and beamed.
“‘Mmm’kay.” Emma closed her eyes and fell back asleep. She was exhausted and would sleep for a while longer.
“You know she called me “Daddy” out there? It was what I’ve been wanting to hear, but not in that context.”
“Oh, James. This is bothering you more than I thought, isn’t it?” Snow felt sad for her husband.
He nodded. “But it’ll be fine. I think that after today, everything will be good.”
“You want to come over here and go back to bed?”
James looked at the bed and the space left. “I don’t think there’s enough room for all through of us. Plus, we’re all grown adults. It’d be really creepy and awkward.” He’d let Snow comfort Emma tonight.
Snow weighed his words and then decided he was right. “Go back to our bed and sleep, please? You need it. I’m sure both of you will feel much better tomorrow.”
He agreed with that and headed back to their bedroom, but not before kissing Snow first.
The Charmings (as Henry so affectionately referred to them) had been through a lot tonight. They would recover, though.
The next day, Emma was feeling well enough to leave her bedroom and found James in the kitchen. “Hey, Dad.”
James froze – He honestly hadn’t been expecting Emma to call him that. “Hey you. How are you?”
“In a crapload of pain. I wish they had morphine here, but I’ll take the potions.” She headed over to grab some hot cocoa, and James leaped up to help her.
“Let me, okay? I don’t want you straining yourself – You were hurt worse than I was.”
“But we were also in the same position for hours on end.” Emma reached up to grab a spoon and groaned at the pain that it caused.
Snow entered the kitchen and sighed at them. “What are you two doing? Let me get that.” She hurried over as fast as she could to get whatever Emma and James needed.
Henry joined them a few minutes later, and the four ended up having a snack together as a family. James and Snow lived for these moments – They happened very rarely and they loved them.
Emma took her father aside after they were done with the hot cocoa. “I just wanted to tell you thank you for not leaving me even when you should have.”
He stared at his daughter in shock. “Emma, I love you. I never could have left you out there by yourself. It was what I wanted to do. Don’t ever doubt that.”
She blushed and started stammering. “I love you too, Dad.” Emma meant that – She really did. She just wished that it hadn’t taken a carriage accident to make her realize that.
James laughed and impulsively hugged her, making sure to avoid Emma’s injuries. “Now, what do you say about playing one of my favorite games?”
“Let’s go.” And the two hobbled off to find it.
Although it could have ended much worse, Emma and James would forever be grateful for the carriage accident that had changed the course of their relationship.