Ruby’s walk back towards Granny’s was brisk, but pleasant. As autumn was upon them, the mornings began at a cooler temperature, but Ruby didn’t mind. The sun was still very bright this time of year and the slight chill in the air was invigorating. She still had a little bit of time left before her shift started at Granny’s so she intentionally took her time heading back.
As she made her way down the sidewalk towards the main part of Storybrooke, occasional leaves and twigs that were dislodged by the fall breeze crunched beneath her feet. Her thoughts drifted back to her previous conversation with Emma.
She knew that her friend was troubled when she found her asleep in the cruiser this morning, but seeing how quiet Emma was really concerned her. Ruby didn’t wholly trust Regina just yet, but she knew that Emma wouldn’t trust anyone easily without good cause or reason – especially where Henry was concerned. Whatever they argued about was probably important, but Emma seemed far more upset about what she did than whatever she and Regina had actually fought over.
Even though she didn’t give much by way of advice, Ruby really felt like she made a breakthrough with Emma. The blonde looked like she was ready to leave Storybrooke, and reminding her that things would get better and that she had support seemed to go a long way. There were times that Ruby didn’t feel very useful around here in Storybrooke, so she was happy to lend a hand where she could. Ruby was confident when she left Emma out there on that park bench that it wouldn’t be the last she saw of her.
As she rounded the corner of Main Street, Ruby’s wolf senses kicked into overdrive, ripping her abruptly from her thoughts. Stopping dead in her tracks she turned and searched in each direction, trying to locate the source of the perceived threat. If anything were out of the ordinary, she’d be able to catch it, as no one was ever up this early in Storybrooke.
Ruby smelled something before she heard it, but by that point it was already too late. She spun around only to be confronted with a man she had never seen before in Storybrooke or the Enchanted Forest. He looked - and definitely smelled - like some dirty old pirate.
Hook took a step further into Ruby’s personal space as he spoke and the brunette was almost knocked off her feet by the offensive stench of whiskey on his breath.
“Where do you think you’re going, love?” Hook asked coyly as he continued to stalk towards Ruby, flashing his hooked hand at her.
“Who the hell are you?” Ruby asked, taking a step back, only to bump into something else behind her.
Ruby jumped back and turned around only to be met with an intimidating looking, yet beautiful older woman. She was dressed in an outfit that was clearly from the Enchanted Forest and that those only with wealth or power would wear.
“Who we are is irrelevant, my dear. You won’t remember any of this in a few minutes.” Cora replied with a disturbingly devious smile.
Ruby’s eyes widened involuntarily in fear as she realized that there was nothing she could do to combat the two assailants, especially since she knew this woman had to be the one who crossed over from the Enchanted Forest. When it wasn’t wolf’s time, Ruby was as defenseless as any other human.
Two strong arms wrapped around her from behind, the arm with the remaining hand covered her mouth to muffle any attempts at a scream, and the other around her waist. Ruby struggled as best she could against the man, but she was inevitably dragged into the nearest alley between the storefronts.
Cora stalked behind them, following them calmly into the alley. To Ruby’s surprise, Hook suddenly released her from his hold. She was about ready make a run for it when Cora’s words stopped her.
“I wouldn’t try anything foolish if I were you, my dear. There’s only one way that this is going to end, so you might as well make it easier on yourself.” Cora warned.
Cora raised an arm and waved her hand in front of her. Ruby’s body was locked in a purple magical stasis from the neck down, preventing her from making even the smallest movement.
“What do you want from me?” Ruby struggled to ask through quickened breaths, as her heartbeat raced due to her uncontrollable fear of what was to come.
Cora took several steps forward, stopping only inches away from Ruby. She lifted her hand up and gently caressed the side of the brunette’s face.
“You, my pet, are going to help me get my daughter back.” Cora leaned in and purred into her ear.
Ruby’s face contorted in confusion as she tried to piece together in her mind who this woman’s daughter could possibly be.
“Who -?” was the only word she was able to mutter before Cora plunged her hand violently into Ruby’s chest.
Ruby felt the hand constrict around her heart before it was yanked forcefully and painfully from her body. Cora laughed maniacally as she admired the bright red heart she plucked from Ruby’s chest.
Upon seeing her own heart in the woman’s hand, Ruby was hit with the sudden realization of who the woman in front of her really was.
“You’re Regina’s mother, aren’t you?” Ruby choked out through labored breaths.
“Aren’t you a clever one? It’s no matter. I’m going to wipe your memory so you won’t have any recollection of our little encounter.” Cora said as she formed a smile.
Before Ruby could reply, Cora once again waved her hand over her. It trailed with a plume of purple smoke that forced its way into Ruby through her mouth and nostrils. For a moment the brunette’s eyes closed, but when they re-opened, they glowed a bright purple and then returned to normal.
Cora released the stasis and held the heart up in front of her.
“Run along now, my pet.” she whispered to the heart, which seemed to brighten as it absorbed its instructions.
Ruby catatonically made her way out of the alley and back towards Granny’s as if she had never been interrupted.
“Now that you have her heart, your majesty, how do you plan to use it?” Hook asked, trying to ascertain how much longer she would need his assistance.
Cora scowled and then turned back to face him with a more patient and carefully constructed expression. Hook really wasn’t the brightest but he would serve his purpose in the end, so she tried her best to remain tolerant of him.
“That girl has access to all of the major players here in Storybrooke. It will be much easier to exert my influence from the inside. Once I complete my task I will finally be able to reunite with my daughter.”
“Why don’t you just reveal yourself to her now, and save us both the time and trouble?” Hook asked impatiently.
“I need her to be receptive before I reveal my presence to her.” Cora explained.
“You mean broken.” Hook corrected her with a slight air of disdain.
“Semantics, my dear.” Cora replied with an artificial smile.
Emma let out a deep sigh as she surveyed the piles of paperwork on her desk. Before the curse broke there was always a generous amount of paperwork to be completed, which she had always assumed was Regina’s doing. During their feud, Regina loved bogging Emma down with mundane tasks – anything to annoy her in an attempt to drive her out of town. As Emma struggled to sort through the paperwork now, she realized that despite Regina’s constant badgering that she complete reports or budgets, it was clear these tasks were actually necessary to keep the town and the Sheriff’s office running smoothly.
Even if the paperwork was a necessary task, it still didn’t explain why Regina had always insisted upon marching down to the Sheriff’s office herself to personally coerce Emma into completing her work by the required deadlines. Regina could have sent an email, or called her on the phone, but she insisted upon parading her sexy ass into the station, perching herself on a desk and verbally berating Emma.
Perhaps Regina hadn’t known it at the time, as it wasn’t apparent to Emma until this moment, but Regina had obviously used paperwork as an excuse to come by the station and flirt with her. Regina Mills had an odd method of flirtation, but there was no mistaking it now, it was definitely flirting.
Emma was grinning like a fool at her desk when a knock at her office door startled her. She looked up hoping that she’d find Regina leaning in the doorway, but instead, she saw Mary Margaret. The grin instantly fell from her face to a neutral expression of indifference.
“Mary Margaret – what can I do for you, today?” Emma asked in an emotionless tone, hoping that Mary Margaret had some real business to discuss and that this wasn’t a mother-daughter social call. She really didn’t have the time or the energy for a heart to heart today.
Emma’s cold response made Mary Margaret a bit uncomfortable, but she came there for a reason and she wasn’t going to waver.
“Can I sit?” Mary Margaret asked, gesturing towards the chair in front of Emma’s desk.
Emma leaned back in her chair and held an arm out indicating that Mary Margaret could sit. “Yeah, sure.”
Mary Margaret settled uncomfortably into the chair and placed the tray of to-go drinks from Granny’s and a paper bag on the desk in front of her.
She cleared her throat awkwardly as Emma folded her arms across her chest and scanned the offerings, clearly waiting for her to reveal what she wanted.
“I wasn’t sure if you’d had breakfast or not, but I figured you were probably busy with everything going on and though you could use a pick-me-up.” Mary Margaret explained sheepishly.
Emma pressed her lips together into a thin line and then exhaled deeply. As much as she wanted her mother to just be ‘dropping by’ to say hello, she knew a bribe when she saw one. She wondered if there would ever be a point in this town, with these people, that they would stop needing or wanting something from her.
“Thanks. That’s not really why you’re here though, is it?” Emma confronted her mother directly.
Mary Margaret expected a blunt approach from her daughter, but that didn’t mean it made her any less uncomfortable. She could see the pain, anger and skepticism behind Emma’s eyes and it hurt her deeply knowing that she chose an awful life for her daughter – one that resulted in such a guarded and closed off person.
“No, it’s not.” Mary Margaret admitted.
“Your father – David – and I were talking and we thought it would be nice if you and Henry would come over tonight for dinner. I know things are a bit strange but having dinner together as a family once in a while may make things easier. It would give us a chance to get to know each other again.” Mary Margaret suggested hopefully, searching her daughter’s expression for any sign of acceptance.
Emma considered the suggestion for a moment. She supposed that one of the first steps to getting to know her parents would be to actually spend time with them. It would also be unfair to keep Henry from getting to know his grandparents, despite whatever her relationship was like with them. There were two major issues here though – she already had plans to have dinner with Regina tonight, and she didn’t feel comfortable making any arrangements about Henry without speaking to her first.
“Dinner with Henry sounds like something we could possibly do at some point, but I’d have to discuss it with Regina first. And tonight isn’t good, I already have plans.” Emma answered, trying to decline without sounding like she wasn’t interested.
Mary Margaret had assumed that despite the awkwardness between them that she would accept the offer. The fact that Emma would assume that she needed permission from Regina of all people to take her son to dinner with her family was absolutely preposterous. Whatever was going on with Regina was clearly getting out of hand.
Mary Margaret stiffened up in her seat in a defensive posture, and the muscles in her jaw visibly tensed in response to Emma’s rejection.
“I don’t understand why you would need Regina’s permission to bring your son to have dinner with his grandparents.”
Emma sighed audibly and rolled her eyes.
“Not this again, Mary Margaret. He’s not just my son. As much as you just want to pretend that Regina didn’t raise him for 10 years to make it easier for us to get back to being a“family”, it’s not that simple. Henry is my son and Regina’s son, and even though it makes for a fucked up parenting arrangement, we’re all just going to have to deal with it.”
Mary Margaret scowled at Emma’s defiance. Even after the curse broke Regina was still getting her way and nothing angered Mary Margaret more.
“Regina doesn’t ask you for permission when she takes Henry, so why should you? You’re catering too much to that woman and it needs to stop. She’s taking advantage of you.”
“Enough!” Emma shouted, slamming her hand down on her desk, causing Mary Margaret to jump back in her seat. Emma stood up and leaned over her desk, planting both hands firmly atop the pile of paperwork while glaring down at Mary Margaret.
“I don’t think you understand what I’m telling you. Regina raised Henry for 10 years. She is for all intents and purposes his mother. The only thing I did was carry him for 9 months and then give him away. And do I really have to remind you who has legal custody of Henry? Regina is letting me be a part of Henry’s life when she doesn’t have to at all. So yes, when it comes to big decisions in Henry’s life, I’m going to talk to his mother first.”
Mary Margaret stood up from her chair and stepped back from Emma, giving herself some much needed space.
“I don’t know what Regina has done to you but this isn’t you! Don’t you remember how she tried to run you out of Storybrooke, and how she tried to kill you? You can’t trust her, Emma!”
Emma stomped around her desk over to Mary Margaret.
“Regina did all of that because she was scared to death. Scared of the curse breaking, scared of losing Henry and scared of losing her life! If I were in her position I would have done the same thing. We need to just let all of this crap go and make the best of what we have. If not for any of us, we need to do it for Henry.”
Mary Margaret opened her mouth to talk but Emma shook her head.
“No – I’m not done. You and Regina need to work out whatever issues you have from your past, because like it or not, you will always be in each other’s lives. I refuse to let you put Henry and I in the middle of your bullshit. I’m willing to try and work on our relationship, but until you work things out with Regina I don’t see us having a fair shot.”
After several moments of silence, Emma turned and sat back down at her desk. She began shifting some of the piles of paperwork around when it was clear that Mary Margaret, despite her silence, hadn’t intended on leaving yet.
“If you don’t mind, I have work to do.” Emma advised coldly, indicating that Mary Margaret was no longer welcome in her office.
Despite the blatant suggestion that Mary Margaret should leave, she stood her ground. Tears began to form behind her eyes and she fought desperately to keep them from escaping. She bit her lower lip but failed to contain her frustration.
“You love her, don’t you?” Mary Margaret choked through her tears.
The pen dropped with a thud on the desk from Emma’s hand as she processed Mary Margaret’s words. Emma’s fist balled up tightly and began to shake from the raw anger pouring out of her. She looked up at Mary Margaret with any icy vacant expression.
“My relationship with Regina is none of your business. Now, get out.” Emma growled.
With tears now freely falling down Mary Margaret’s face, she scurried out of Emma’s office without another word.
Once Mary Margaret was out of sight, Emma let out a long strained breath and chucked a nearby stapler into the wall, causing it to shatter into a million pieces. Knowing that she was now alone in her office, she let herself go, collapsing over her desk sobbing loudly until she felt as though she had no more tears left to shed.
When Emma shut the door behind her, she heard laughter coming from the kitchen.
“Emma?” she heard Regina call from the other room.
“Yeah, it’s me, I’ll be there in a second.” she responded while hanging up her coat in the hallway before making her way to the kitchen.
Before stepping into the entryway of the kitchen, Emma took a deep breath and did her best to affix a happy expression on her face prior to greeting Regina and Henry. The argument she had with Mary Margaret lingered with her for the rest of the day, but she didn’t want that to ruin her time at home.
“Hey guys – what’s this?” Emma said cheerfully as she surveyed their work in the kitchen. Henry and Regina were leaned over the counter rolling out dough for what looked an awful lot like pizza.
Henry’s head popped up and he grinned wildly at Emma. He was adorably covered with an exorbitant amount of flour.
“Emma, we’re making pizza, just for you! I told mom it was your favorite and that we had to make it.”
Emma smiled brightly, ruffled Henry’s hair and planted a big kiss on top of his head. Regina really raised Henry right, she thought. He was such a considerate kid.
“Thanks kid, it’s really nice of you to think of me like that. Everything looks great, I can’t wait to eat it - I’m starving!”
Emma looked up from Henry and her eyes connected with Regina’s. They exchanged soft smiles and warm looks, but knew better than to show blatant romantic affection in front of Henry just yet.
Though Emma looked delighted by the surprise, Regina could tell that something was off with the blonde. She knew that Emma had been overly taxed emotionally and physically these days, but even so, she still looked overly pale and fatigued beyond what could be considered normal. It was important that they had a pleasant dinner with Henry after what happened last night, so she decided that she would ask Emma about it after Henry went up to his room.
Emma slipped past Henry and around to Regina, discretely wrapping an arm around her waist while leaning over to examine their work. Despite having a horrible day, coming home to those two smiling faces was enough to lift her spirits. If she played her cards right, maybe it could remain a regular thing.
“So what kind of pizza are we having tonight?” Emma inquired, beaming at both Henry and Regina.
“It’s a surprise, Emma, you can’t see until it’s done!” Henry explained loudly.
“That’s right, dear. Why don’t you go wash up and grab a beer while we finish up here.” Regina suggested while playfully dabbing some flour on Emma’s nose with her fingertip.
Emma wiggled her nose playfully before wiping it with the back of her sleeve.
“I’ll get you back for that later.” Emma whispered as she leaned into Regina’s ear.
With a sparkle in her eye, Emma pulled back and smirked at how Regina flushed at such a simple gesture.
“Alright, but don’t keep me waiting too long, I’m starving!” Emma said loudly, addressing both Henry and Regina, while she pulled open the fridge and popped open a beer.
Emma shot one last glance back at both Regina and Henry, trying to capture that moment forever in her memory. She arched an eyebrow at Regina, who answered it with a wink, and then ducked out of the kitchen into the den to recline and rest for a few minutes before dinner.
Dinner that night was almost too good to be true. Henry remembered that Emma’s all-time favorite was Hawaiian, and it was arguably the best Hawaiian pizza she had ever tasted. Regina was a fabulous cook – she even managed to execute a meal flawlessly despite not having made or eaten it before. They had also miraculously had pleasant family-type conversation for the duration of the meal without having one argument. Emma wondered if this was what ‘real’ family dinners were supposed to be like. She was even beginning to dare to wonder if this was something that she could actually have for herself.
Henry had gone upstairs after dinner without protest, leaving Regina and Emma to finish cleaning up.
As Emma followed Regina into the kitchen with a pile of dinner dishes, she was the first to break the contented silence.
“So the kid thought up this whole dinner on his own, huh?” Emma asked as she set down her pile of dishes in the sink.
Regina turned on the faucet and began rinsing the dishes. They were having a pleasant night already, so she hoped her answer wouldn’t spawn an argument.
“Yes, it was solely his idea. Henry had heard our argument and he wanted to make you feel welcome when you came back home tonight.”
Emma’s heart sank. She hoped that Henry hadn’t heard their argument, but she supposed it would be difficult for him not to, given the shouting and slamming of doors.
“I’m sorry, Regina. Is he alright? I mean, he seemed okay at dinner...” Emma stammered, reaching a hand out to touch Regina, then deciding against it, letting her hand drop awkwardly at her side.
Regina visibly stiffened as she recalled the heart-wrenching uncertainty of not knowing whether or not the blonde would return to them.
“He and I had a talk this morning about it before he left for school. You came home, so that’s all that matters to him. Children are resilient.” Regina explained with a slight edge to her tone.
Emma sighed and watched Regina as she scrubbed the dishes a bit too furiously. She laid her hand over Regina’s to stop her from scrubbing.
“I don’t know how else I can apologize for leaving last night. I’m not going to leave Storybrooke, no matter what we fight about.”
Regina refused to meet Emma’s eyes because she knew that what was about to say would not be received well by the blonde.
“I know you say that now, and I know that you mean it dear - but I think you fail to realize that things are going to get far worse before they get better.”
Emma pulled her hand away and stepped back from Regina.
“So you’re saying you don’t trust me? After everything we’ve been through together - how can you say that?”
Regina dropped the dishes from her hands and wiped them aggressively on the front of her apron. She turned to Emma, locking eyes with her for the first time, fighting to hold back her emotions.
“Because I’m scared, Emma. Anyone I’ve ever loved has betrayed or abandoned me. It’s only a matter of time before you do the same.”
Emma became increasingly frustrated, as it seemed that her and Regina were destined to have the same arguments over and over again.
“We’ve been through this Regina. I want to try, I want to stay and I have no intentions of leaving. I want to figure out whatever it is that you and I have and I want to make it work for us, and for Henry. It doesn’t mean we’re not going to have slip-ups, or that we’re not going to have arguments, but I’d never abandon either of you like that. No matter what happens between us, I’m here for good, okay?”
Regina nodded silently while holding back tears. Emma reached out and pulled the brunette into a tight embrace. Regina sobbed slightly into the crook of the blonde’s neck as Emma stroked a gentle hand through her hair.
“I’ll never leave you, Regina. You’ll never be alone again. I promise.” Emma whispered reassuringly into her ear.
After Regina calmed down a bit Emma pulled apart and wiped some of the stray tears from Regina’s cheeks.
“Now that we’ve got that out of the way, why don’t we grab ourselves another drink and chat in the study about what we were really supposed to discuss tonight.” Emma suggested.
“Alright, dear. Let me just freshen up a bit and I’ll join you with our drinks.” Regina agreed.
“Sure. I’ll be waiting for you.” Emma said, leaning in to give Regina a gentle kiss on the cheek. She smiled at the brunette and disappeared from the kitchen.
Regina entered the study about 10 minutes later with a beer and a glass of red wine in hand. She found Emma sitting awkwardly on the sofa, obviously having had enough time alone to get herself worked up about the conversation they were about to have.
When Emma heard Regina, she looked up at her and smiled, shifting over to allow the brunette to sit next to her.
“Thanks.” Emma said as Regina handed her the beer. She took a long swig and placed it down on the table with a coaster.
“Before we get started, I need to ask you something first. When you came home, I could tell that something was wrong but I didn’t want to ask you in front of Henry. What happened today?” Regina asked with genuine concern, and placed a gentle hand atop Emma’s thigh.
The color instantly drained from Emma’s face. Regina knew immediately that her instincts were correct and that something had happened earlier today that the blonde likely did not care to share with her.
Emma bit down at her bottom lip. She had planned on discussing this at some point with Regina, but having several difficult conversations in one day was not something that Emma enjoyed doing. Now that Regina brought it up, they would have to discuss it, but she aimed to keep the conversation brief.
“Mary Margaret came to see me at the station today. She suggested that Henry and I come over for a ‘family dinner’. When I told her that I already had plans tonight, and that I’d have to ask you before agreeing to anything with Henry…it didn’t go over very well.” Emma explained with a frown.
Regina’s stomach instantly dropped. ‘Charming’ family dinners meant that Henry would spend less time with her and more with his ‘real’ family.
“Oh.” was all she could seem to mutter in response.
Emma saw the look on Regina’s face and immediately rushed to clarify.
“I told her that you were his mom, first and foremost, and that any major decisions regarding Henry had to go through you. Mary Margaret didn’t agree with that, but I told her that I didn’t give a crap what she thought. They may want me to have Henry all to myself, but I have no intentions of letting that happen. Henry needs you and you need him.”
Regina searched Emma’s eyes but could find no signs that she wasn’t being truthful with her. Even so, she couldn’t help but feel that there was more that Emma wasn’t telling her.
“I trust you, Emma. When it comes to Henry I know you truly have his best interests at heart. What is really bothering you about your quarrel with your mother? I can’t just be over one meal a week at the ‘Charming’ household.”
Emma grabbed her beer, took another deliberate chug, and then combed a hand through her hair.
“Mary Margaret has made it very clear that she doesn’t approve of what is going on between you and I.” Emma explained, nervously averting her eyes.
“What does she know of what is going on between us? You didn’t tell her anything, did you?” Regina snapped involuntarily.
“No! Of course I didn’t…she just…guessed somehow.” Emma recovered with a stutter. “Even after she said something about it I specifically didn’t confirm or deny anything. I told her it was none of her business and I told her to get the hell out of my office.”
Regina rubbed her temple and took a sip of her wine before responding to Emma.
“Well this complicates things a bit, doesn’t it?” Regina stated with a soft sigh.
Emma frowned, wanting to reach out to Regina but instead just clenched her hand in her lap. She bit down on her lower lip and then shifted to better face Regina.
“I wish it didn’t. All of this is hard enough for me. I know I should be happy that I found my family but it is nothing like how I imagined it would be. I just want peace between all of us and a chance to get to know them. Just trying to plan one stupid dinner with my parents ends in an argument. I don’t know what do to anymore, Regina.” Emma said dejectedly, burying her face in her hands.
Regina felt guilty for all of the stress and anguish that Emma was going through. If it wasn’t for her feud with Snow, Emma wouldn’t be caught in the middle of all of it.
She gently began rubbing Emma’s back. “I’m sorry, dear. All of this is my fault.”
Emma lifted her head out of her hands and looked over at Regina.
“No, don’t blame yourself. The actions of so many people led us all to this point. I’m tired of everyone trying to blame one person.”
Emma sighed deeply. “I know this may seem like a lot to ask, but do you think you could ever forgive her, Regina? Even if you couldn’t truly forgive her, do you think you could get past it enough so that we can all be civil towards each other?”
Regina’s lips pursed at the thought of spending any voluntary time with Mary Margaret, but she could see that it meant a lot to Emma that they all get along. Their fighting hurt Emma and it would inevitably hurt Henry, and that’s the last thing she wanted for either of them. Regina supposed she could try and be civil, if Mary Margaret agreed to it. If they were all going to be in each other’s lives, there really was no avoiding the woman.
“I could be open to being civil with your mother if she can manage the same towards me. I hate seeing what this is doing to you, and I don’t want Henry to get dragged into it either.”
“Thank you.” Emma said as she took Regina’s hand and squeezed it tightly.
Emma blew a long breath out after taking one last sip of her beer and placing the empty bottle back on the table. She cleared her throat and rubbed the palms of both of her hands down her thighs, wiping away the perspiration.
“So…I guess we should probably figure out this magic thing, right?”
Regina could tell that the topic caused Emma a great deal of distress and tried to approach it as gently as possible to avoid a repeat of the previous night.
“I still feel strongly that if you learn to control your magic that you would stand a much better chance against whoever has crossed over into Storybrooke. I’m not looking to force anything on you that you don’t want, Emma. Ultimately it has to be your choice. I just can’t bear the thought of losing you when there’s more I could have done to ensure your safety.” Regina said, trailing off with a pained look in her eyes. She took a brief moment to compose herself and then continued.
“What we really need to address here are the concerns you have surrounding your magic so that perhaps I can offer you some answers.”
Emma took a moment to collect her thoughts while fiddling nervously with the zipper on her boot.
“I know that you mean well and everything, I just…”
Emma sighed with obvious frustration and rose from her seat on the sofa.
Walking over to Regina’s desk she leaned forward over it, with her fingers digging into the surface. After closing her eyes and taking a few deliberate breaths she turned around and leaned back against the desk. Her hands found themselves involuntarily death gripping the edge as if it was the only thing keeping her grounded. Finally, she looked up at Regina, whose eyes now reflected deep concern for whatever Emma was about to say.
“I’m afraid of what I am, and of what I’m truly capable of. I’m afraid that it will consume me because I know deep down that I’m not the embodiment of goodness that everyone thinks I am. I’m afraid that with every step I take I’m losinganother piece of who I am…and I’m worried that if anyone finds out that I can use magic that they’ll reject me out of fear - That after everything I’ve been through I’ll be left with nothing all over again.”
Feeling stupid for having confessed such personal insecurities, Emma dropped her gaze to the floor and folded her arms tightly across her chest.
Regina now realized exactly why Emma reacted the way she did the previous night. It wasn’t just about the magic - she could see that now.
Regina got up from the sofa and walked over to Emma. She ran a warm hand softly down Emma’s arm and lifted her chin with the other between two fingers.
Emma’s reluctant eyes met her gaze and Regina leaned in slowly and pressed a soft and gentle kiss on her lips.
After several moments Regina pulled back and lightly caressed Emma’s cheek.
“You don’t have to be perfect for everyone to love you and accept you, dear. All of us, even your parents have had their dark moments. I won’t lie and tell you that acceptance will always come easy, but I know that your parents love you enough to overcome almost anything. Above all, I can promise you that you will always have Henry and I. No matter what, you will never be alone again - just as you have promised me.”
Emma closed her eyes and let out a drawn sigh. She looked back up at Regina with what still seemed like a world’s worth of doubt.
“What if I can’t control it? What if it changes me?” Emma asked weakly with tears beginning to glisten in her eyes.
Regina knew all too well how Emma was feeling and her concerns were valid. When she had agreed to become Rumplestiltskin’s apprentice, everything that she was asked to do felt like a compromise of who she was and what she wanted to be. Her thirst for the strength and the power to avenge Daniel caused her to lose a piece of herself. She made a conscious choice to give in to the darkness – something that she’d never let Emma do, now that she fully appreciated the consequences.
“It won’t change you unless you let it. You have to keep focused on the intent – why you are using your magic. You won’t be pulled into the darkness unless you choose to be. I made the wrong choice a long time ago, but I did it willingly. The difference between you and I, Emma, is that I had no one there to support me and guide me down the right path. You have me and I won’t let you make the same mistakes I did. I can promise you that.”
Emma contemplated Regina’s words carefully. She trusted the brunette - her superpower told her that it was the right call and it hadn’t failed her yet. She was scared shitless of the unknown, but she knew that she ultimately didn’t have a choice. She had to protect her family and everyone else in Storybrooke.
Emma exhaled deeply and reached her hand towards Regina, tracing her fingers down the buttons on her neatly pressed silk blouse. She hooked a finger between the buttons and pulled Regina towards her, pressing their bodies together.
“Okay.” The blonde agreed as she wrapped her other arm around Regina’s waist.
“But for now, I’d love it if we could go to bed. I’m sore and exhausted, and all I want to do is hold you tonight. Think we can put off magic lessons for a little longer?”
“Of course, come on dear.” Regina said with a warm smile, taking the opportunity to steal another kiss from the blonde before reaching for her hand and guiding her up the stairs to bed.