She’s not afraid of snow, that would be stupid. She lives in Maine, it snows half the year. Not the pretty, picturesque, big flakes postcard nice snow, but the awful, shrieking snow that stings her skin like sand.
Of course, it came out of nowhere. It was just grey, and a little cold, when they left the center of town and drove out to the middle of nowhere to walk up a damn hill.
"Why do we have to follow it on foot, can't we just--?" She waves her hands, like she's seen Regina do.
"Can you?" Maleficent raises an eyebrow at her, pulling her scarf tighter around her neck. She tucks part of her hair into her hat and Emma grins. She's never worn a norMaleficentwinter hat before.
"No, lost that when I stopped being the Dark One."
"I'm sure you could learn." Maleficent pulls on her gloves and glances up at the sky. "Unfortunately, the legends of the Wendigo suggest that it feeds on expressions of magic, fireballs, transportation."
"So using magic makes it stronger."
"If the creature that attacked your father's sheep was indeed a Wendigo, then yes, magic would excite it."
"But it could just be a coyote, or one of Ruby's old friends and we don't need to walk up to the top of this hill." Pulling her hands out of her pockets, she blows on them, then stuffs them back. She shouldn't have left her mittens in the car. That was stupid. She could summon them with magic but--
"Will it be attracted by me getting my mittens?"
Maleficent shakes her head. "That's a fairly small use of magic, not something that would interest it."
Concentrating on her mittens, picturing them where she left them on the seat of the Bug, Emma tries to summon them. They should just pop into her hands, but they don't. The wind shakes the trees and she stuffs her hands deeper into her pockets.
"Does a Wendigo have a dampening side I've never heard of?" Emma tries to bring her mittens again but nothing. Not even a fizzle.
Staring up at the sky, Maleficent sighs, holding her hands in front of her and shutting her eyes. "I was hoping it wouldn't be one of those storms."
"What kind of storms?"
"One that alters magic. Sometimes they feed on it, sometimes magic feeds on them." She waves her hand like Regina casting a fireball. The gesture is so similar that Emma smirks.
"That looks like Regina, the fireball thing."
Maleficent chuckles. "I believe if I helped her with her technique, then her fireballs look like mine."
"You don't have one now."
"Won't until the storm is over." She glances up at the dark sky again, then shrugs. "Hopefully we won't need it."
"Don't think it's a Wendigo out here?"
"If it is a Wendigo." Maleficent unwraps her long grey scarf and hands it to Emma. "Put your hands in this."
"Thanks." It's not mittens, but it's wool, maybe cashmere, and warmer than just stuffing her hands in her pockets. They walk in silence for awhile, while the wind grows around them and the sky darkens. Snow starts to fall like tiny pieces of hail, hissing against the leaves. "How's it going?"
That half-smile always makes Regina smile, so Emma grins back, holding her hands to her chest. "Being married."
"Much like not being married, except some of the dwarves refer to me as Mrs. Mills. Lily jokes about her mothers being legitimate now, and how running off into the woods together for a week is no kind of honeymoon."
"At least you got one."
Maleficent pats Emma's shoulder. "We did, and it was beautiful, thank you for watching the town so Regina didn't worry."
"Which she did."
"Of course she did." Maleficent licks her very red lips. "Until I made her stop."
Emma laughs, blushes, tries not to wince as she falls in step behind Maleficent. "Okay, my fault, I asked."
She does really want to let her mind wander towards what Maleficent and Regina got up to on their honeymoon. It's only a little weird. Mal’s been in her house, they’re kind of friends. Mal’s married to her son’s other mom, so they’re like...co-step-parenting?
Does that include talking about sex?
Does Maleficent talk about sex?
Maleficent doesn’t really parent, Henry says. She doesn’t expect to be called mom or tell him what to do. She’s kind of fascinated by the dishwasher and she’ll listen to him talk about his homework, even borrowed his history textbook because this world isn’t something she knows.
“She’s a nerd, just like Mom.” He shrugged and tucked in his scarf as they left Granny’s. “Maybe worse.”
The path grows muddier beneath them, and it’s not cold enough to be frozen. Tiny balls of snow stick out white against the dark mud. Walking uphill, they’re both a little out of breath which saves them from small talk. It’s starting to get colder, and their breath’s visible. Sun’s going down.
So there they are, middle of the woods, way up past the troll bridge, over a hill, just standing, hands in their pockets, waiting for a terrible creature that might be a coyote. Maleficent stands perfectly still, doesn’t even fidget with her boots and the crunchy leaves. Emma didn’t think she even owned hiking boots, but someone must have explained about them, because Maleficent's black boots look sturdy and have no heels.
No heels, and she’s still taller than Emma by at least half a head, like Lily.
"You know, Lily used to be short."
"Oh?" Maleficent has to speak up, because the wind screams around them. Snow falls faster, rushing and whispering, like sand.
"When we were younger, she was way shorter than me. Must have had a late growth spurt dragon thing." Emma holds her arms closer and turns. "We lost the sea."
Maleficent shuts her eyes, listening to the wind. "The storm will be bad."
Emma frowns at the sky, and the dark trees disappearing behind the snow. "How bad, can we get back to the car?"
"It'll be a long walk without magic." Maleficent touches her shoulder. "Stay with me, stay close. Rumple's cabin is near here, we can make it." She removes her gloves and hands them to Emma, taking her scarf and wrapping it around Emma's neck. "Stay very close to me, my other eyes will see better."
Her other eyes?
Maleficent steps back, and it seems this magic isn't affected by the storm. Maybe because the dragon is her real form, or there's something deeper about this shifting back and form. The storm pelts the exposed parts of her face and she pulls the scarf up, staring as the mass of grey rears up into a dragon. She's still not over how big they are, Maleficent and Lily are bigger than elephants, basically the size of an RV or a dump truck with big scaly wings.
One of those wings wraps around her, pulling her close to the warmth of Maleficent's side. Is she walking with her or she--?
Her feet no longer touch the ground, and then she's scooped up, wrapped in a wing. The snow patters off Maleficent's scales, singing like tiny rocks. Trees crunch, and they lurch forward. There's nothing for Emma to hang onto, she just wrapped up tight, pressed against Maleficent's flesh. It's uncomfortable, weird, she can't see, but at least she's warm.
Her stomach rises in her throat, and being sink on the dragon is probably not something she should even be considering, but they slow, finally, and stop. Magic rushes around her and the dragon shrinks down into a woman again.
"You can do that, but you can't poof us out of the woods?"
Maleficent laughs, the wind whipping her hair around her head like tendrils. "Sorry for the ride."
"Yeah that was--" Emma follows the cabin to the door, fumbling with the knob. Her fingers aren't working, and it's Maleficent's care hands that get it open.
They burst in, stamping the snow off their boots, shaking it from their coats. It's so quiet that Emma's ears rush with silence. Her legs sting, she can't feel her toes.
Maleficent moves faster, perhaps being the dragon made her less cold. She heads for the fireplace, taking stock of the wood, then looks at the dinwo. "This was not designed for winter. There's some wood, and some more outside."
"You shouldn't go out there."
"It's a very short walk as the other me."
"And your eyes are better."
"Yes. Here." Maleficent takes off her coat, wrapping it around Emma's shoulders. "There are blankets in the back room, but you'll want to start building the fire first."
Right. A fire, because they're stuck here. Emma's gloved hands fumble with her phone. Damn thing doesn't have any bars when she manages to get the screen on.
Outside, the dragon thuds to the woodpile and thuds back, Mal steps in the door, covered in snow, arms full of wood. "There's enough for the night."
Right, no service, no magic, and Maleficent can't just walk them back down to the car. They're stuck.
Her thighs sting, somewhere between incredibly painful and numb. Her feet are worse. Maleficent touches her hat, then kneels beside her. "Once we get the fire going, it'll be better."
In a cabin in the woods, overnight, with a dragon.
She can't feel anything past her wrists, and she sits down on the wood floor, shivering in her coat and Maleficent's coat while the dragon starts a fire.
"Surprised you can do that without magic."
Maleficent blows across the kindling, easing fire forth as if she'd sang it into being. "I learned a long time ago."
That draws a laugh. "A very long time."
Emma hugs herself, stuffing her hands in her armpits. She's never been warm, and she'll never been warm again. "I didn't think you'd care about age."
Dropping tiny pieces of wood into the fire, Maleficent turns, the tiny fire reflected in her eyes. "I don't."
Emma toys with that idea, rolling it over in her mind, then it clicks. "You don't know."
Maleficent adds more to the fire and doesn't look at her. That's it. It has to be.
"You never had an answer to how old you are, because you don't know."
"I haven't misled anyone."
"Lily's been digging her way through the library, asking Belle for all of these old books, trying to piece together a history of the old world, just to guess how old you are."
"And I don't know."
"You must have tracked something. Winters, summers, some kind of festival--"
"One village follows one thing, the next another, and then someday you wake up, and you just don't know." She sits back from the fire, adding another log. "Does it matter?"
"Only if it matters to you, or Regina, I guess. Henry said he's just going to give you as many candles as he can fit on a cake." Maleficent settles back, removing her boots and brushing the snow aside. She leaves Emma next to the fire and returns with old towels, and heavy wool blankets. They smell of cedar, and pine, cabins, old things. Maleficent starts peeling off her coat, wrapping a blanket over her.
"Why aren't you cold?"
"I'm rarely cold." Maleficent unties Emma's boots and rubs her feet with the blanket. "Can you move your toes?"
"Your fire went out." Her teeth chatter, and she presses her lips together. "Regina said, she said your fire went out and you lost your dragon."
Maleficent helps her out of her coat, pulling her into a blanket before she leaves to hang up their coats. "That was cold, I went years without a fire."
"How did you?"
"The other me doesn't need to cook her food."
"Right." Emma curls around her knees. Her fingers have started to hurt and Maleficent leaves her again, dragging the sofa closer to the fire. "I can help."
"You can't even feel your ankles, dear."
"Tell me about meeting Regina."
"Why?" Mal drags Emma up to the old, creaky sofa.
"Because I've heard it from her."
"We had to talk about something at her bachelorette party."
"You got her very, very drunk."
The fire smells warm, but so does Maleficent, and Emma snuggles into her and the old blankets, and Maleficent holds her back, curling around her.
"You are warm."
"I know." Maleficent shifts a little, settling Emma so her head's right on her chest and fuck. Her breasts are so soft. "Sometimes too warm."
"Regina mentioned that too."
"She loves you, and she hasn't had good luck, any luck, with that."
"I know." Maleficent tucks her in closer, watching the fire. "At least I'm somewhat resistant to death."
Emma stiffens, acutely aware that she killed the woman wrapped up around her. "Sorry."
"It was for Henry, and it didn't stick." She shifts again, sighing.
"Are you uncomfortable?"
"You don't have to."
"You're cold, and I'm warm."
"You're so warm, Regina must not have even turned on the heat."
Maleficent chuckles again and her chest moves beneath Emma's had. She winces a little. That's it.
"Are they sore?" Flushing warmer, Emma could have sworn she'd blushed enough to warm up her feet. She shouldn't worry, Maleficent had been perfectly fine teasing her about sex.
"Must be worse when they're bigger."
"Were yours sore, with Henry?"
Speaking of forever ago. "Yeah, but they're smaller, so probably less sore."
That makes Maleficent chuckle again. "I didn't know the size of them mattered."
"Haven't been watching much TV, have you?" Emma turns in her arms, trying to look at her. Her legs sting, and her toes, but the rest of her is starting to warm up.
"Regina's never minded."
"Regina's not the only one who looks at your breasts."
"I've noticed that." Maleficent's hand brushes Emma's cheek. "You feel warmer."
"All we have to do is not freeze to death, right?" She shuts her eyes, trying not to think about food. "Regina will find us when she can poof up here, or we can poof down there."
"Or we walk. You held still well."
"You won't freeze?"
"I lived in the mountains, far from everyone, dear. I won't freeze. Should be able to find a way to keep you warm too."
Emma curls deeper into the blankets, trying not to imagine being carried down the through the woods in a snowstorm like a hatchling, wrapped in dragon wings. "Well that's good."
"Sleep, I'll keep the fire going."
"Some things can be done the old fashioned way."
"I guess so."
The fire crackles, making the wind sound less threatening. She has a few more stupid questions but she lets those float.
"Do you hate it?"
"Hate what, dear?"
"Hate living with people." Emma drags herself up, and Maleficent sits up behind her. "You lived alone in the mountains."
"I didn't have Regina then, or Lily, or Henry. Family's worth a few odd encounters at Granny's, don't you think?"
"Still having trouble with Aurora?"
"An apology only carries so far."
"Yeah, it's not like you killed her or anything."
"It's all right."
"Because you came back? Because you're a villain? Because you can die over and over?"
Maleficent sits up, adding more logs to the fire. When she sits back again, she pulls Emma in, against her breasts, her chest: warm."Because I'm here, and I have a family, and that's worth a little death, and dust. Time drifts, it's not important."
"When you don't know how old you are."
She curls up, closer, trusting, because the dragon is warm, and family. "I'm glad you get to have it, we all do. Children and parents and weird fourth cousins and step-dragons."
"That makes Henry smile."
Her last scattered thoughts are soft breasts, and firelight.
It's morning when her eyes open, still wrapped in Maleficent's long arms. Someone's gloved hand touches her face.
"No, dear, not quite."
"Regina!" She snaps away, sitting up. "You found us."
"Even in the snow, someone's tracks are easy to find."
"It's the tail." Maleficent sits up, leaning forward to touch Regina's forehead with her own. "Is the storm over?"
"It's slowed. Lily and I flew up."
Emma looks for Lily, finding her hovering back a little.
"The storm's still messing with magic, and it didn't matter if I crashed the trees."
"Rode a dragon, yes, I've done it before."
"Don't say it like that," Lily winces.
Emma smirks and Maleficent kisses Regina's lips, utterly relaxed. "I knew you'd come. And I'm proud of you, dear, that's not an easy flight in the snow."
"I'm surprised you didn't try it."
"And risk poor Emma? She was cold enough already."
"You always get cold."
Lily crosses her arms, then grabs their coats. "Yes you do."
"Well, it seems you've been cheating, forever, since we met."
"Does it count as cheating if I didn't know?"
Emma shrugs into her coat and turns, ready to ask Regina how the storm is, but she's on Maleficent's lap, kissing her.
"Speaking of things I wish I didn't know," Lily says, rolling her eyes. "Mothers, whenever you're reading, Emma and I will be outside."
"It's cold outside."
"I said you were a wuss."
"You're the one who can't handle watching your moms make out."
"And you love watching Snow White and Prince Charming kiss?"
"Not really, no."
Lily sighs, looks at the floor, then looks back up. "I guess it's nice that they're happy." She stares at Emma, searching her face. "And other things are okay."
"That part's just always weird."
"But hey, you flew up here! In the snow, that's exciting."
When Regina and Maleficent finally come up for air, somehow they both seem entirely serene. "You'll have to fly down with Mal, Emma. She's much easier to ride."
Emma swallows a chuckle.
"Don't you dare."
"I wouldn't dream of it."
"You'd better be, all curled up on Mom's boobs."
"I'm told they're very nice." Maleficent straightens her jacket and puts on her coat.
"You know they are," Regina says. She keeps her face still, then smirks at Emma. "You've mentioned it before."
"I have not."
I wasn't the only one very drunk at my bachelorette party."
Lily glares at her. "Yeah, you'd better fly with Mom, I'll dump you in the snow."
"Because you agree or disagree?"
"I'm not talking about this with you."
Regina rests her hand on Maleficent's chest and they stare at each other again, lost. "They're sore, aren't they."
"It's all right."
They head out into the snow, and now it's softer, just falling, not flying horizontal through the air. Mal stands beside her, just about to become a dragon and fly her back to town.
"It goes away, eventually."
Mal shuts her eyes, ready to become a dragon.
"You know, it was the closest I was to him, Henry, for a long time," Emma says, staring into the snow and the trees. "I thought I'd never see him again after I gave him up, and I hung onto him, here," she touches her belly through her coat. "That was how I knew him. Then he came back."
"But this time, you get to keep her."
Maleficent's bare fingers wrap tight around Emma's gloved hands. "I know."
"I'm so happy for you."
Pulling Emma's hand to her belly, Maleficent smiles at her, eyes all soft. "Thank you."