Emma twists around in her bed, kicking at the sheets until they're bundled down at her legs. The nearly summer heat has been intense and relentless the last few days, and sleep has been hard to come by. She's in nothing but cotton underwear and a tank top, but even that feels like too many layers. The fan whirling above her only seems to be moving the hot air around, rather than cooling her. Emma frowns, she doesn't have a ceiling fan in her room. She rolls over and her arm swings out, grabbing at sheets but connecting with someone's body instead. Confused, Emma pats around until someone smacks her hand. Emma finally opens her eyes, and lifts her head up, blinking blearily at the sunlight pouring through the windows. There's a brunette in her bed, she makes out that much. Emma's first thought is Henry, maybe his room was too hot, but then she remembers he was sleeping over at Regina's.
Emma sits up. Regina is in her bed. Or, Emma glances around... she's in Regina's bed. "Oh shit." Emma mumbles, and she pulls her hand back as Regina's eyes blink open. They just lie there staring at each other in confusion for a moment or two until Regina's head snaps up and she glares at Emma.
"What in the hell do you think you're doing in my bed Miss Swan?"
"Uh... I was gonna ask you. I—did I sleep here last night?"
"You don't know!"
Emma huffs at Regina's indignant look. "Well do you?" she snaps back. That seems to make Regina pause, her eyebrows narrowing in confusion. "Did we get like, super drunk or something last night?" Emma asks.
"I highly doubt it." Regina says, and sits up, resting back against the headboard. "I wouldn't get drunk with you, and I most certainly wouldn't allow you to sleep over in my bed." She pauses. "Anyhow, I don't have a hangover. Do you?"
Emma frowns and rubs at her temples a little. "No... I don't." That's good news at least. "Well, then why can't we remember anything?"
"I have no idea. Get out of my bed." Regina orders, and pushes at Emma's shoulders. It's then that Emma notices a golden ring on Regina's finger. Emma grabs at it, "Stop touching me." Regina says. Emma ignores her and yelps when she sees a matching ring on her own finger.
"What the hell are these?" Emma asks, and holds her hand up to Regina's.
Emma doesn't think she's ever seen Regina truly speechless before. It's a little unnerving. Regina always has something to say, even if it's just an insult. Right now, she'd love it if Regina would at least call her an idiot or something. Anything other then stare down at their fingers with a horribly pained look on her face. Emma opens her mouth, to reassure her, or give her an opening to yell at her, what she's not sure. She doesn't get the chance, Henry yells from downstairs; "Mom! Ma! Can I make pancakes?"
The sound of Henry's voice shocks Regina into movement. She slips out of the bed with agility that Emma didn't know she possessed, glaring daggers into Emma's skull. "Why does he know you're here?" She hisses. Emma shrugs her shoulders and slinks back down into the bed. She's confused as all get out, and she's too hot, and still tired and mostly she just wants to go back to sleep. This must be some really weird dream. "Get up!" Regina snaps, and throws a pillow at Emma's head.
Emma can't help but look as Regina bends over in a silk nighty and wraps a thin robe around her body. She turns and catches Emma's eye and if looks really could kill... Emma lowers her gaze and slowly climbs out of the bed. It appears to be the first time Regina's noticed her lack if undress and Emma smirks a little as Regina stares just a little longer than she should.
"Put on some clothes Miss Swan, our son is downstairs."
"Yeah, but he's seen me in underwear." Emma says with a shrug. "I'm wearing more than if I was in a bathing suit. How come if the material is different, suddenly it's inappropriate?"
Regina doesn't bother answering. Just turns and opens her closet to retrieve some clothes for Emma to borrow; only to yelp in surprise when she finds Emma's wardrobe already there. Emma comes up behinds her and stares. "Seriously, what is going on?" She asks.
"I have no idea."
"Mom," Henry appears in the doorway. "Can I make pancakes? Or are you coming down soon?"
Confused or not, Regina draws her attention to Henry, smiling at him like this is a perfectly normal morning; not the weirdest collective dream anyone's ever had. "I'll be right down dear. Why don't you start the batter."
"Okay." He turns to Emma, "Hey Ma are we still gonna go to the comic book store this afternoon? You said we could yesterday."
"Um..." Emma has no recollection of that. "Yeah, sure." Henry beams at her and bounds back downstairs. Emma bites her lip and stares at her clothes alongside Regina's in the walk in closet. "Seriously what the hell?" She asks, stepping into the adjoining bathroom, her toothbrush is in the sink next to a purple one she assumes is Regina's. And there is shampoo for both blondes and brunettes in the shower. Emma twists the unfamiliar ring around on her finger and looks up to Regina uncertainty. "Are we like..."
"Absolutely not." Regina snaps. "There is no way... we are not—"
"Married?" Emma finishes for her. Because really there is no way Regina is going to say it.
She pinches her lips together and just stares at Emma. "No. There is an explanation for all this and it is not that."
"Well then by all means, lay it on me. Cause I feel pretty awake, and I dunno if it's actually possible to share a dream."
Regina tightens the strap on her robe and shakes her head. "I'm going to go make our son breakfast, and get some coffee. Then we will deal with—" she waves her hand around between the two if them, "—this. Get dressed." And with that Regina stalks downstairs leaving Emma alone in what is apparently her bathroom now.
Emma opts for a shower but isn't stupid enough to take a long one. Hastily she combs out her hair, yanks on a tank top and shorts and runs downstairs once she smells pancakes. Henry grins at her like he does every morning he stays over with her and she slides onto a stool next to him. Regina passes over a mug of coffee without a word or eye contact, and Emma smiles to herself when she takes a sip and realizes it is exactly how she likes it. Henry starts going on about something at school and Emma wolfs down her pancakes.
"Geez Ma, breathe or something." Henry says with a smirk. Emma shoves her shoulder against his and takes a bite of his pancakes for good measure.
"Miss Swan really, do act like an adult."
"Miss Swan?" Henry says, looking oddly between them. "Since when do you call Ma that?" He grimaces. "Ew, is this another sex thing? Cause you guys promised not to do that in front of me." Emma gapes at him, turning to Regina who looks even more shocked than she feels. Henry furrows his brow. "What's wrong with you guys?"
"Um... what," Emma sighs. "Why would you..."
"What on earth would give you the idea that myself and Miss Swan would be engaging in a sexual relationship?" Regina snaps out. Emma and Henry both whip their heads around to face her in synchronization.
Henry laughs, a little nervously. "I dunno, cause you're married and that's what married people do. God, can we not talk about this please? I think I've had enough therapy." He hops off the stool, grabs his plate and rinses it off before leaving it in the sink and turning back to his mothers. "Are we done, can I go get ready for school?"
Regina nods, wrapping her arms around herself as he all but sprints out of the kitchen.
"We're married!?" Emma yells.
"Keep your voice down." Regina hisses at her. "And, if I recall correctly you just came to the same conclusion not half an hour ago."
"Well yeah but... Henry thinks we're married! Like, he looked genuinely confused," she pauses, he had been a little squirrely about it all. "Well... sort of. He was lying about something. He looked down at his feet, but—" Regina walks out of the kitchen. "Hey! Regina! Where are you going?" Emma jumps down off the stool and follows after her as Regina tears through the living room. She freezes once she sees a photograph displayed on the bookshelf and Emma slams into her. "Ugh," she hold her arms out to steady herself, but Regina isn't paying any attention to her.
"That's... you weren't in that picture." Regina says, her voice sounding small. Emma peers over her shoulder and looks to where Regina is pointing. She's seen that photograph before, she's always liked it. Henry is about seven or so, his arms wrapped around Regina's neck from behind, grinning madly at the camera. And Emma hasn't ever seen Regina look more happy and content than in this picture. It's what she's thought back on, time and time again whenever she doubted Regina's intentions. But now, Emma is in it, sitting next to Regina, her arms linked with one of Regina's, beaming along with them.
"I didn't even know Henry when he was seven." Emma whispers. "Is—this is totally magic crap right? People don't just wake up rearranged in photos with wedding bands."
Before Regina has the opportunity to answer, Henry enters the room, dressed for school with his backpack slung over one shoulder. "See you guys later, don't forget about the comic book store Ma."
"Yeah, no sure." Emma says as he waves at them and runs off. Emma realizes she's still standing directly behind Regina and moves away. She has never wanted to be married. No marriage she's ever seen has worked out, and she's seen quite a few of them over the years. She crosses her arms and looks to Regina, waiting for her to say... something. To figure out what the hell is going on. To at least stop staring at the damn photograph. "Regina?" Emma asks, much more harshly than she had intended. She drops her voice to a softer tone. "What do you think happened?"
"I have no idea." Regina finally says, swallowing and keeping her eyes trained on the photo.
Emma waits for her to continue, but she just stands there. "Um, well what should we do? I mean, you didn't do it right?" Regina finally snaps her head towards Emma and gives her a look that Emma is all too familiar with. It's the Emma-don't-be-an-idiot-for-the-love-of-god look. "Right, didn't think so." Emma leans back against the couch. "And I didn't do it so... that leave what, the fairy nuns and Gold?" Emma's eyes widen, of course. "Gold!" Regina narrows her eyes and Emma steps out of her way as she stalks forward.
"Get dressed." She orders.
"In actual clothes!" Regina yells over her shoulder.
Emma glances down. "These are actual clothes," she mutters, but heads upstairs to change anyway.
The drive to Gold's shop is stilted and uncomfortable. Emma starts playing with the radio stations until Regina smacks her hand away. When they exit Regina's car, (Emma's bug was nowhere to be found, not that Regina cared) Archie walks by with Pongo and greets them warmly. Emma gives him a wave before running after Regina, who has let herself into Gold's shop without warning. Emma can hear her yelling from outside.
"Have a good day!" Emma yells to Archie.
Regina is standing right up against the counter, threatening Gold. Emma walks up behind her and places a hand on the small of her back, intending to calm her down. It seems to work for about half a second, mostly out of surprise, until Gold smirks at her and says, "Ah, and there's your better half." Emma watches as Regina's eyes flare up with anger.
"What game are you playing Rumpelstiltskin?" She asks with a sneer.
As always, he only smirks, far too casually and enjoying the torment of others—Regina in particular Emma has come to realize. "Game?" He asks. "Whatever game are you speaking of?" Regina reaches over and grabs hold of Emma's hand, holding it up with her own, the matching bands on full display. Gold just stares at them, incomprehension on his face. "Your rings? Dearie, I had nothing to do with your rings. I do have others if your looking to exchange." He bends down under the counter and sets a box full of expensive rings up for them to look at.
Regina knocks the box to the ground, rings spilling out all over the floor. Emma sighs, and she calls her childish?
"You did this, we are married! Henry thinks we have been married for years! There are picture in my home with Emma Swan in them, events that never occurred. What. Did. You. Do?"
He chuckles. The insipid little giggle thing that he does, and it sets Emma's teeth on edge. "What did I do? Why, I don't remember being involved in your nuptials at all. I assumed the invitation was lost in the mail."
Emma presses against Regina's back, grabbing a bit of her blouse and tugging at it; trying to pull her away from Gold. "I don't think he knows," she whispers.
"Of course he knows!" Regina insists. "He is always the root of the problem. He was bored and cooked up some ridiculous scheme for his own amusement." She whips her head back around to Gold and slams her hand down on the counter. "And he is going to fix it."
"Dearie, I have no idea what you're prattling on about, but if you're having marital problems, might I suggest Dr Hopper?"
Emma grabs Regina's forearm and tugs. "Come on, if he knows anything he's not gonna help us." Too angry, or she doesn't notice, Regina allows Emma to pull her out of the shop. "Let's just go ask Blue," Emma offers. The fairy has always seemed a little shady to Emma, but right now she'll take all the help she can get.
"That insipid twittering fool won't know a thing," Regina snaps, and yanks her arm away from Emma's grasp.
"Well... do you have a better idea?" They are standing in the middle of the sidewalk, and of course, such is her life, David walks out of the coffee shop across the street and catches Emma's eye. She returns his wave and suppresses a groan as he trots across the street and heads straight towards them. "Hi David," she says as he steps up next to them. Regina gives him a tense... smile isn't the right word.
"Hi!" he says cheerfully. "Are we all still on for family dinner tonight? Snow asked me this morning. I think she's been trying to get a hold of you."
"Oh, shit," Emma pulls her phone out of her pocket. "It was on silent sorry." She has six missed text messages. Good to know that whatever weird universe/dreamworld they've landed themselves in, her mother is still overprotective. "Um... family dinner? Like me and Henry?" she asks.
David frowns slightly and glances at Regina. "Well, yeah all three of you. At your house right? That's—it's a Thursday, that's usually when we have them..." he shuffles his feet uncomfortably and Emma notices that she is doing that exact same thing and stills her feet immediately. "Unless the two of you have other plans, we can do it another night."
"Uh, no it's—" Emma catches Regina's eye and makes a face at her, until the deep frown lessens a bit. "It's fine if that's what we usually do. You, me, Snow, Henry, and Regina right?"
David looks at her oddly. "That... would be our family."
"Great!" Emma says, a false grin on her face. Regina stands there staring at him like she's smelled something unpleasant, being no help whatsoever. "You we'll see you at um..."
"Six?" David prompts.
"Six! Yes, we'll see you then."
Regina tuts and reaches out, snagging Emma's elbow and directing her towards the car. "Be on time," she tells David. "Now if you'll excuse us, we have some... errands to run." She pushes Emma into the car and gives David a brilliant twisted smile. It makes her look deranged. Emma's pretty sure that is what she is going for.
"We have family dinners every Thursday?" Emma props her feet up on the dashboard and kicks on the AC. "What are you gonna cook?"
"What will I cook?"
"Well... I can't cook," Emma shrugs. "You can so... your the wife that cooks and I'm the one that does the dishes," she frowns. "Oh wait, I don't want to do that. Henry can do the dishes, he'll need chores right?"
"How are you being so caviler about this?"
Emma shrugs again and rests her head back, closing her eyes. "I'm totally not, I'm very much freaking out. I'm just a bit quieter about it. I think it's called marital balance or something. Only one wife is allowed to freak out at a time. Right now's your turn."
"Stop calling me your wife!" Regina pulls the car out from the sidewalk and into the road. "And get your feet off the dashboard!"
"You nag like a wife," Emma mumbles.
Regina shoots a tiny fireball at her feet.
"You could have burned me!" Emma yells for the fourth time as they walk back into Regina's house.
"I barely even warmed it, you're perfectly fine."
"I don't think wives are allowed to shoot fireballs at each other, barely warm or not!"
"Stop calling us that!"
"Hello, have you looked at your finger, or your house, or listened to any of the people we've run into! Everyone thinks we're married. Blue looked at us like we were crazy, all the fairies were at our wedding! The whole town thinks this is real!"
"It's not!" Regina snaps. "I never consented to marrying you, I most certainly wouldn't have invited a gaggle of fairies if I had."
"Don't yell at me! This isn't my fault. I'm just as much stuck in this as you."
Regina stalks away from her in a huff and Emma stamps her foot against the floor. Part of her wants to follow Regina and yell at her some more, instead, she flops down onto the couch, turns the fan on so it hits her and tries to take an angry nap.
She must finally fall asleep, because the next thing she knows, water is being sprayed onto her face. She sputters and opens her eyes to find Henry standing over her and grinning, a spray water bottle in his hand.
He sprays her face again.
"Comic book store time," he declares with a grin.
Emma sits up and rubs at her eyes. "Where's Regina?"
"Working in her study, she said to be back by five. To help with dinner and stuff." He grabs her arm and hauls her upwards. "Come on, it's already 4:20." Henry directs her towards the door, all but shoves her into her flip flops, and pushes her out the door, yelling, "bye Mom!" over his shoulder.
They walk to the store (Emma still has no clue where her Bug is) and she decides to take the opportunity to quiz Henry. She starts small, asking about some comic he got last Christmas, then about something for his birthday a few years ago; then taking things back further. She notices Henry's nervous glances at her, then back down to the floor. It's his tell. She's spent enough time around him to know when he's spewing bullshit. He's good at it, but not good enough. She bites her lip and just nods along, opening the door for him and letting him make a beeline for the rack of new releases. She remains quiet the whole time, only nodding here and there when he asks a question and she can see him begin to squirm uncomfortably. Emma grins a little. They pay and head back out of the store, Henry with a bag of five new comics, and start the trek back home.
"So..." Emma begins, "how'd this whole fake marriage thing happen?" Henry freezes on the spot. Emma turns to him, seeing the guilt all over his face and yells triumphantly. "I knew it!" Then she remembers to be angry. "What did you do Henry? The whole town thinks Regina and I are married. Pictures are different, we have rings!" she holds hers up in his face. "What did you do?"
He shuffles his feet, the same way she does and Emma's anger melts away. "Don't tell Mom," he pleads.
Emma sighs and moves over to sit down on the curb of the sidewalk. "Henry, she knows we're not really married. We've been trying to figure out all day what happened."
"Don't tell her I did it I mean!" he says, sitting down next to her. "I mean, it's nice isn't it. All being together, what's bad about that?"
"What's bad is you didn't give either of us a choice in the matter. That's not okay kid."
Emma shakes her head. "No. It's not okay. How did you even do it? Henry, magic stuff is dangerous if you don't know what you're doing. I'm pretty sure it is even if you do."
"I didn't use magic," he insists. "I wished."
Henry shrugs. "I wished we could all be together and that you guys would stop ignoring each other. You were getting along when you guys came and got me in Neverland. Then we got home and you stopped talking to each other. You don't even fight anymore, and I hate switching houses all the time. It's nice like this. Do we have to tell Mom?"
"Nope." Emma stands up and pulls him along with her. "You do."
The panicked look on his face is almost funny.
Regina sits primly on the edge of the couch throughout Henry's entire explanation. Emma only sees her face change once and she can't make out the emotion before it disappears, replaced by a blank mask. Finally, Henry's finished and looks about ready to cry and Regina moves over to him, wrapping him up in a hug and kissing his temple. "I'm sorry," Henry whispers. "I didn't mean to make you guys mad. I just liked all being together."
"This conversation isn't over," Regina warns, but kisses him again and sends him out to set the dinner table.
"We're still having dinner?" Emma asks.
"Everyone else still thinks you and I are married dear." Regina smooths down her skirt and stands, putting distance between the two of them.
"Yeah but... how do we fix it?"
Regina pinches her lips together, and Emma can't tell if she's annoyed with Emma, Henry, or the entire situation. She doesn't know anything Regina is thinking these days. "I have a few ideas. I'll need to check some of my mother's books, but from what he tells me, I think I can handle it. Probably with your help."
"I think I can manage to suffer through one family dinner for him. Can you?" Regina asks, interrupting
Emma looks up at her, and is shocked by the change in her demeanor from the last minute alone. She's... calm and... something else Emma can't figure out, but she just nods. "Yeah sure, I mean—it is our family. I have dinner with them almost every night."
"Yes, but they expect us to be a couple tonight dear." Regina reminds her, stepping forward and hovering slightly above Emma, her face pressed incredibly close to her own. Before Emma can say anything, Regina pulls back, smirks and walks into the dinning room. Leaving Emma as puzzled as ever.
Regina appears to be determined to make Emma as uncomfortable as possible. Almost like a game. The more Emma blushes, the more points Regina racks up. It's unnerving how easily she can slip into hostess and doting wife and mother. When she smiles at something Henry says to Snow about school and brushes her hand across Emma's shoulders, her breath hitches. It's familiar and intimate and everything they are not. And Emma likes it.
It's all an act, but Henry is right, it is nice having all of them together and getting along.
But Emma feels the lie in every twitch of Regina's fingers, in every time she forces herself to look at her in the way someone in love would look at their spouse. Before she knows it, they've all eaten their desert, and Emma is in the kitchen with Snow doing the dishes while Henry, David and Regina are relaxing in the living room.
Emma scrubs angrily at the dish in her hands until her mother chuckles and reaches out to still her hand. "What'd it do to you?" she asks with a laugh.
"Nothing." Emma passes it over for Snow to dry and grabs another one. She can't tell her mother what's really wrong without shattering the entire night and confusing her. Tomorrow maybe, if they all retain their memories, but tonight she's alone with her thoughts. And the problem is of course that she's having a good time. Now that she's seen how her family can get along; that she can have them all in one room, smiling and happy, she wants it all the time. It's all she's ever wanted. She just hadn't known it until she got the fake version.
Snow furrows her brow in question but Emma just shakes her head. "What is it?" Snow insists.
Emma sighs. "Ever want something you can't have? Or, like... something you know just—" she shrugs, "—I dunno. Never mind."
"It's... I'm just in a weird mood. I had a really good time tonight, it... made me think about some things is all. Don't worry. I'm fine," she insists and smiles brightly at her mother. Someone clears their throat behind them and Emma jumps, turning to find Regina standing in the doorway. Emma has no idea how long she has been there, but her face heats up and she looks everywhere but at Regina. Confused by all the things she is feeling.
"May I borrow my wife?" Regina asks with a smile. Snow nods. "We should be getting home anyway. Thank you for the lovely dinner Regina," she says, and pats Emma's shoulder before passing by Regina and heading out to the living room. Emma turns back to the dishes, avoiding Regina's gaze. She hopes that Regina will just walk away, go find Henry or something. Instead, she moves to take Snow's place, picking up the plate Emma just washed and drying it. They work side by side in silence for a few minutes.
Emma can hear Henry giving his goodbyes to her parents and then he pops his head into the kitchen. "This was fun huh?" he asks with a bright grin on his face. "Um... am I grounded?"
"Yes," they both answer in synchronization.
Henry groans. "Alright well... can I go read my comics at least?"
Regina turns around to face him. "No. You may not. You can go to bed early. And tomorrow, after all this is settled, you and I will finish our conversation from earlier." She walks over and kisses his forehead. "I love you. Brush your teeth." And with that, she dismisses him and walks back beside Emma.
They finish the dishes and Emma stands awkwardly, fumbling with the scrub brush between her fingers. Unable to lock in on exactly what she is feeling. She and Regina had been avoiding each other, she hadn't even realized it until Henry pointed it out. Now she can't figure out why. Regina turns to her and gives her a small smile, the corners of her mouth only just ticking up. "He was right," she says. And Emma looks up at her with a frown. "It did actually turn out to be a slightly tolerable evening."
Emma grins. "He said fun."
Regina shrugs and folds the towel in her hands. "I'll need a few things from my vault, it's too late to get them tonight, but I skimmed some of my mother's books while you were in here with Snow. It's not too difficult a fix."
"Oh... good. Um... so I should crash here tonight though. Cause it would be weird if I snuck back into the apartment. I can take the couch," she adds quickly.
"I have a guest bedroom."
Regina glances up at her finally, the towel in her hands abandoned and Emma almost steps back from the look on her face. It's... much more open than Emma's ever seen her. It's a look reserved only for Henry. Directed at her, Emma's unsure what to make of it, and she looks away nervously. She hears Regina sigh, somewhat resigned and glances back up; but the look on her face is gone. Regina just stares at her the same way she always has and Emma finds that she hates it.
"Um... it—we should do this again," Emma offers suddenly. Regina looks confused. "The dinner I mean, I—it was nice. We should do it, maybe not every week but..."
And Regina smiles again; it's not quite the look she had been giving Emma before, but it's somewhere in between. She steps forward and Emma remains planted in her spot, letting Regina move into her space. "Perhaps," she says softly, and just stands there, impossibly close, starring into Emma's eyes.
"The whole marriage thing though," Emma says, her voice dropping down to a whisper. "Next time, maybe we could actually remember it," she attempts to joke. Regina's face flickers with something that causes Emma to gulp. "But uh, no fairies," she supplies.
And Regina smirks then, leaning all the way forward and placing the lightest of kisses to Emma's lips. "No fairies," she agrees and walks out of the room.