How Emma got to be Marian’s first friend in town wasn’t hard to understand. She’d saved the woman from death by freeing her from Regina’s dungeon. So she agreed to dinner with Marian and even took it upon herself to invite the woman’s family to her new apartment.
“Kid, why don’t you go show Roland your room,” Emma told her son before she looked down and smiled at the younger boy.
Roland beamed up at her as he nervously, and little clumsily, wrung his hands in front of his stomach. His dimples showed and his big, dark eyes sparkled when he looked at her.
Emma’s smile widened and she ruffled his hair before Henry guided him away from the adults and into his room. Once the boys were out of the small dining room, Emma turned back to Robin and Marian as she spun her half-empty glass of wine by its stem, the bottom of the glass still on the table.
“So,” Emma awkwardly started as part of the after-dinner discussion. “The food’s different here than in the forest, huh.”
Marian timidly smiled and nodded and Robin chuckled under his breath as he soothingly rubbed her back.
Somehow, with the children around, the dinner had been slightly comfortable, but the second Emma shooed them away things immediately became awkward. For the next twenty minutes, conversation was tense and forced. Thankfully, the three of them were able to move past it and salvage the evening before things were too unbearably uncomfortable to the point of ending the night on a not so great note.
It took less than an hour for the group to wind down the night then say their goodbyes. Robin called for Roland and the two boys reentered the main area of the apartment.
“Say goodbye, Roland,” Marian smiled as she prompted her son.
“Bye, Emma ‘n Henry,” Roland smiled at the two of them and waved his little hand.
Robin patted Roland’s shoulder a couple times before the boy raised his arms and the honorable thief lifted his son into his arms.
“Thanks for dinner,” Robin said with a smile of his own while Roland buried his face in the crook of his father’s neck.
“Yes, thank you,” Marian politely said. “Next time we hope to have somewhere we can host it.”
“No problem,” Emma said as she showed them to the door.
“Henry,” Roland shouted as he whipped his head out of Robin’s neck then flung a hand out to the older boy. He clenched and unclenched his fist in an unvoiced request and Emma gently guided Henry toward the four year old with a light touch to the space between Henry’s shoulder blades.
“What’s up, Roland,” Henry asked as he moved as close as he could to the little one without brushing against Robin in the process.
“Hug,” Roland cutely insisted with a bright smile.
Henry chuckled with his deepening voice.
“Okay,” he said as he moved in to wrap an arm around Roland’s back while the younger boy stayed balanced on Robin’s hip.
Roland reached around Henry’s neck with both arms and squeezed a little when he was finally able to embrace the older boy. He giggled into Henry’s ear as Emma made funny faces behind her pre-teen son’s back then pulled away. When Roland was more firmly back in Robin’s arm, but only a short space away from Henry, he squeezed his eyes shut and scrunched up his face. And then he sneezed.
Henry sniffled and wiped his nose with a wadded up tissue as he lay in bed with pale skin, slightly puffy eyes, and a miserable expression on his face.
“Mom,” Henry whined and groaned from his room.
A few seconds later, Emma opened the door with a bowl of soup and a box of tissues.
“What do you need,” Emma asked.
“Hot chocolate. My throat hurts.”
“That’s what the soup is for. And you haven’t eaten yet today.”
“But when the soup’s gone, my throat will still be sore.”
“So suck on a cough drop. I didn’t rush out to buy you all kinds of flu medicine just for you to ignore them and deplete our hot chocolate stash. You’ll guzzle down whatever we have left and then I’ll have to run to the store again.”
“Ask Mom to get some on her way here.”
“What is it that you’re depriving our son,” Regina haughtily asked with a little edge to her voice.
Emma turned to see Regina in the doorway sliding her purse off of her arm before she placed it on Henry’s desk near the light switch on the wall. She forced a quick smile, but only managed to make eye contact with the other woman for a few seconds.
“Hot chocolate,” Henry answered for Emma as Regina crossed the room to sit on the edge of the bed beside him.
Emma set the bowl down on the Henry’s nightstand and turned to watch Regina settle on the bed.
Regina brushed a few strands of scraggly brown hair out of Henry’s eyes and sweetly smiled at him before she turned her hand and pressed the back of it to Henry’s forehead. Her smile slowly faded into a frown before she pulled her hand away.
“He feels a little hot,” Regina said as she kept her eyes on their son.
“I just checked his temperature a few minutes ago. He was fine,” Emma insisted as she leaned back against the wall by the nightstand.
“Then check again,” Regina bit out as she turned her head to the side but refused to met Emma’s eyes.
Emma sighed and reluctantly pushed off the wall before she walked out of the room and disappeared around the corner for a little less than a minute. She returned with a thermometer in hand and pushed the necessary buttons before she held it out to Henry.
Henry leaned forward and slid the thermometer under his tongue like a kid whose temperature had been checked plenty of times in life, which it had. All three of them waited until it beeped and Henry released the thermometer just as Emma started to remove it.
“A hundred point two,” Emma read out with a frown before she lowered the thermometer to her side and looked at Regina. “I swear he didn’t have a fever last time I checked.”
Regina stifled the sigh that would have accompanied the eye roll she gave in response to Emma’s weak defense.
“Of course he gets sick at the end of his week with you,” Regina bitterly grumbled. “I was supposed to take him tomorrow.”
“If you want him, be my guest,” Emma motioned at the boy in bed. “But I’m perfectly fine to take care of him.”
“And yet you don’t even want to get him more hot chocolate.”
“I bought him a month’s supply of soup and two bags of cough drops!”
“He likes hot chocolate with his soup,” Regina explained.
“Yeah, I kind of got that from his argument.”
That time, Regina did sigh. Long and loud.
Both women turned their attention to Henry.
“Um,” Henry awkwardly started before he turned to Regina. “Mom.”
“Could you stay here until I’m better?”
Regina smoothed down Henry’s bed mussed hair and nodded.
“Of course, sweetie,” Regina said before she stood, “and I’ll bring you some hot chocolate too.”
Regina headed toward the hall and glared at Emma on her way out of the room.
Emma turned to follow Regina out of the room with her eyes and her eyes wandered. From the glare Regina shot her, to the sway of her hips, and finally to her generous backside as she strode out of the room like a woman in power.
Emma turned back around and warningly pointed at Henry.
“You better get better before this thing between your mom and I gets worse,” Emma vaguely threatened him.
Henry coughed and Emma relaxed her slightly tense shoulders before she popped open a bag of cough drops and tossed one into his lap.
When Regina had agreed to stay in Emma’s apartment, which was only slightly bigger than Snow and Charming’s apartment, she hadn’t fully realized the price. It was only a two bedroom apartment with one twin size mattress for Henry and a Queen size for Emma. The couch wasn’t new or fancy, but it didn’t smell like garbage and it wasn’t all that worn. It also wasn’t very elegant, though, and Regina was sure the Mary Margaret part of Snow White had something to do with how Emma acquired it, but that didn’t matter. It was her makeshift bed for the time being and floral designs and pastel color schemes aside, she had to share a space with the blonde.
She squeezed her fists tightly over her stomach as she lay flat on her back on the couch and clenched her jaw as she tried and failed not to think about the other woman. And like a mind reader of sorts, in padded a sock-clad Emma as she sleepily trudged from her bedroom to the kitchen.
“Were your ears burning, Miss Swan,” Regina asked with a deep and somewhat gravelly voice.
Emma jumped a little and snapped her head to the side before she squinted to see Regina through the darkness of the room.
“Were you thinking about me, Madame Mayor,” Emma teased, though Regina could hear it in the blonde’s voice that she didn’t so much as wear a smile when she said it.
“I’m living an absolute nightmare and you’re the cause of it all. How could I not think of the destructive little bitch that ruined my second chance?”
Emma ran a hand through her hair and took a deep breath. After a moment, she walked around the couch and plopped down in front of Regina on the coffee table.
“I know I did the right thing by bringing her back here, but I know that I somehow still screwed up.”
“You say that as if you don’t understand how you screwed up,” Regina said as she kept her eyes on the ceiling.
“No, I know how.”
Everything in the room was still for a moment. Both women remained stiff in their places as the sound of Henry’s nasal congestion in the form of light snoring filtered through his partially open door into the main room.
“I hurt you and I’m sorry,” Emma quietly said.
Regina looked to the side to stare at Emma’s near silhouette, only her hair and left arm lit by the moon that faintly streamed in through the kitchen window across the room.
Emma stood up and made her way to the kitchen. She opened the fridge and pulled out a bottle of water then headed back toward her room.
“Tomorrow night I’m taking the couch and you can have my bed. And I won’t take no for an answer,” Emma said as she walked behind the couch to return to her room.
The door shut and Regina was left alone to her thoughts and the sleep she wanted that just wouldn’t come. So she took a deep breath in, rolled onto her side to face the coffee table with her whole body, and slowly exhaled through her nose as she closed her eyes and let go of the weighted thoughts in her mind.
Henry had sent a text at around six in the morning that sent Emma trudging through the apartment to make him his precious hot chocolate. On her way to the kitchen, she passed the couch and saw Regina curled up on her side facing outward toward the coffee table. She stopped and looked for a moment then moved around the couch to get a better look at the woman.
Her expression was pinched and she didn’t look all that peaceful to Emma. When the blonde looked over Regina’s sleeping situation, she noticed the blanket she’d given her was haphazardly tucked between Regina’s back and the couch. She cocked her head to the side and a small, lopsided smile curled Emma’s lips. She took a few seconds to herself before she reached over the brunette and pulled the blanket out from behind her then carefully draped it over Henry’s other mother. Before she realized what she was doing, Emma started to rub Regina’s arm over the blanket to help warm her up a little faster. Her smile disappeared and she slowly stopped rubbing Regina’s arm. It sank in that she was doing more than necessary as a hostess to make the brunette comfortable and swallowed thickly to avoid thinking about why she did it, why she’d even wanted to do it at all.
Emma breathed in through barely parted lips and sighed out through her nose as her lips formed a tight, straight line across her face. She reached over and straightened out the blanket so that it covered Regina’s feet, which were still covered by her tights from the previous day, as well as the rest of the woman’s almost shivering body.
“Mom,” Henry groggily groaned from his room.
Emma tensed and looked down to ensure Henry hadn’t woken the brunette. When the woman didn’t stir, she relaxed and nudged her way into the gap between Henry’s door and the doorframe.
“Kid, Regina’s still sleeping,” Emma scolded in a whisper from the doorway.
“Sorry,” Henry lowered his voice to whisper as well.
“I didn’t start your hot chocolate yet, but it’s gonna take a few minutes so chill out. Okay?”
“No, that’s not what I was calling you for,” Henry said a little louder than a whisper and more like a quiet grumble.
“Okay,” Emma drew out the word a little and paused before she continued. “What is it?”
“Can you bring me some more medicine for the stuffy nose thing that causes headaches?”
“Something for a sinus headache,” Emma stated, though there was still a question for confirmation.
“Comin’ right up.”
Emma finally made it to the kitchen and filled a round coffee mug almost to the top with milk before she placed in the microwave and heated it up. She pulled out the hot chocolate mix and set it on the counter before she went to the bathroom in the small hallway between the kitchen and Henry’s bedroom and looked through the medicine cabinet. She grabbed the medicine Henry requested then moved further down the hallway to the linen closet and grabbed a thick blanket she kept with other extra supplies for the bathroom and changes of bed sheets for the rooms.
She draped the blanket over the back of the couch as she brought Henry his medicine then watched him take it. When he thanked her again, she smiled and leaned down to kiss his forehead.
“Be back soon with your hot chocolate,” she said as she started to leave the room. “Do you want me to leave out the cinnamon since you’re sick?”
“Yeah,” he said and nodded with his head still on his pillow.
“Okay,” Emma quietly said more to herself like someone mentally checking off a box on their list of things to do.
The microwave beeped just before she stepped out of Henry’s room and she bolted to the appliance before it could disrupt Regina’s sleep. She tried to be as silent as possible as she pushed open the microwave door and retrieved the mug. It was one of her favorite mugs because the ceramic handle didn’t get hot unless exposed to really high heat so when she removed it from the microwave, she didn’t burn her hand like she did on most of her other mugs. Thankfully she’d been thinking of Henry handling the mug to sip his drink and didn’t want to cause him any more pain on top of all his flu symptoms because if she had just used one of the mugs that weren’t as nice and heavy duty like that one, she would have burned herself, cursed for a good thirty seconds to a minute, and most likely would have spilled some of the hot milk onto the hardwood. Regina had yet to wake, which Emma thought odd when she really took the time to consider what the other woman’s daily routine probably looked like, and the blonde wanted to keep it that way until Regina naturally woke by her own body’s gentle insistence. She didn’t need Regina mad at her for anything else.
She set the mug on the counter and added the cocoa mix then stirred. She let the hot chocolate sit for a minute while she finished another task she had started not too long ago and threw the thicker blanket over Regina.
Regina groaned and shifted on the couch before she tried to burrow her way into the cushions beneath her and clawed at the edge of both blankets to hold them close to her.
Emma reached out to touch Regina, her fingers itching to run through silky brunette locks, but stopped herself and shook her head to rid herself of any thoughts that involved being overly affectionate toward the other woman who’d gone back to despising her.
She went back to the kitchen, retrieved Henry’s hot chocolate and served it to him like a good mother.
“Scoot over,” Emma said as she waved her hand to motion to the other side of the bed that should only really fit one person for him to take.
Henry put the hot chocolate on his nightstand and gave Emma as much space as he could without falling off the bed.
Emma squeezed in next to him and slid under the covers before she leaned back against the headboard.
“You think Roland got you sick,” she asked.
“Probably,” Henry shrugged. “He touched a lot of stuff in my room and I picked him up a few times to fly him around the room like a superhero.”
Emma smiled at him.
“You’d make a great older brother,” she noted.
Henry laughed then coughed when the laugh was too much and too thick with phlegm.
Emma reached over Henry and took the rubbing vapor off the nightstand. She dipped two fingers into the little bottle and swiped up a decent size of it before she rubbed it into his chest.
“I’d like to see you tell Mom that,” Henry said with a smile as Emma finished rubbing in the vapor.
Emma furrowed her brows and frowned.
“And why’s that,” Emma dropped her hand holding the vapor container between her lap and Henry’s for a second before she twisted the cap back on and set it back on the nightstand.
“Because unless you’re planning on having a baby with Hook, Mom’s, like, the only one of you two who would give me a little brother or sister.”
“So, you kind of made that impossible when you brought Marian back to Storybrooke.”
Emma deflated a little.
“But I’ve got baby Neal so it works out just fine,” Henry said. “Even though he’s my uncle, I can still act like his big brother. I am older than him after all.”
“Your mom really liked Robin, didn’t she.” It wasn’t a question. It was heavy statement filled with sadness and guilt.
“Yeah, she kinda did,” Henry somberly confirmed. “But…maybe there’s still someone out there for her. I mean, things happen for a reason, right? There’s fate and destiny and what’s meant to be is what happens to us, right?”
“He was her soul mate and I changed history by bringing her back,” Emma admitted.
“Sure, but…that had to be because it was supposed to happen like that.”
“I don’t think so, Henry.”
“You’ll see. Mom’ll be happy eventually. Some people just have to wait a little longer to get the good that’s coming to them.”
“She’s already waited a really long time. She should be happy now.”
“I don’t know,” he said with hopeful uncertainty. “I know it sucks for her, but I don’t think the story of her finding her happy ending is finished being written yet.”
“But if you believe in fate and destiny, wouldn’t that mean it’s already written and just hasn’t happened yet,” Emma asked with a hint of laughter while she gave him a lopsided smirk.
Henry glared at her and she laughed before she reached behind herself and grabbed his pillow then lightly hit him in the face with it.
Emma laughed and hit him again as Henry protectively shot his hands out in front of himself to fight off the next attack.
Henry started to laugh with Emma before he got onto his knees on the bed and wrapped her in a tight hug that trapped the pillow between their bodies, rendered useless as a weapon.
Emma released the pillow and hugged Henry back before the boy slid off her and grabbed the pillow for himself. He bopped her in the face once then stuffed the pillow behind him again before he situated himself against it.
“You know you make her happy, right,” Emma asked Henry after both had settled down again.
Henry smiled at Emma.
His smile was warm and infectious.
“You make me happy too, by the way.”
“I know that too,” Henry said before he leaned to the side and rested his head on her shoulder.
Emma cupped the cheek that wasn’t on her shoulder and gently rubbed her thumb over the slope between his cheekbone and jaw line.
“I love you, Kid.”
“Love you, too,” Henry replied as he closed his eyes.
Emma turned her head and kissed the top of his, brunette hairs poking at her nose and threatening to make her sneeze. She pulled back before the sensation could overwhelm her enough to do just that and then she relaxed with the back of her head pressed against the wall above the short headboard behind her.
On the other side of the partly opened bedroom door stood Regina with her arms wrapped around her stomach with slightly watery eyes that had widened and softened since she her last encounter with Emma. Though she hadn’t looked into the room to watch mother and son, she had heard every word. She hugged herself a little tighter before she moved away from Henry’s room and poked around the kitchen to start the coffee pot.
The next day proved to be difficult. Emma had forced her to take the bed while she made herself comfortable on the couch, but Regina didn’t get a chance to enjoy not being stuck on the couch for long. In the middle of the night, Henry had a coughing fit that brought Regina to his bedside to get him whatever he needed. Emma had helped for a few minutes before she pressed the back of her hand to her forehead and mumbled, “I’m gonna go lay down for a sec.”
For the next hour, Regina tended to Henry until he’d ingested enough medicine to soothe his aches and allow him to sleep a little longer. Upon leaving Henry’s room, Regina saw Emma huddled up on the couch with her face buried in the pillow and the cushion beneath it.
“Mmnnn,” Emma mumbled into the cushion.
With Henry’s fever lessened and the boy asleep once again, Regina walked to the front of the couch and stared down at the blonde. She exasperatedly sighed before she perched herself on the edge of the coffee table much like Emma had her first night in the apartment.
“What is it, Miss Swan,” she asked with agitation.
“‘M sick,” Emma said as she turned her head out of the pillow and cushion and blearily looked at Regina’s knees, which were the only things in the younger woman’s line of vision at that time.
Regina rolled her eyes.
“And what do you want me to do about it, dear?”
Emma blinked a few times then rolled onto her side to face Regina and groaned throughout the entire process.
“Nothing. It’s okay. I’ll deal with it,” Emma answered. “How’s Henry?”
“Knocked out. Hopefully, he stays that way. It’ll be easier if he sleeps it off.”
“Mm,” Emma hummed. “Okay.”
Within a couple of minutes, Emma was asleep just like their son and Regina abandoned the coffee table for the kitchen to prepare breakfast. It kept her hands busy and something to eat while she was monitoring Henry throughout his illness.
The sun had slowly started to rise anyway. It was about five thirty when Regina had watched Emma fall asleep on the couch after her little confession. She’d been up for a little over an hour before that and she wasn’t sure how long Henry would stay asleep. She hoped all day, but when he got sick his body was unpredictable as to how well it received certain medicine.
At seven, Emma started to whine and whimper into the pillow while Regina sat at a stool at the kitchen counter with a book in hand and a cup of hot tea beside her. When the brunette turned to see what the fuss was about, she witnessed Emma toss her phone onto the floor before she slumped back under her blanket.
“Mom,” Henry groaned from his room.
Regina set down her book, which was actually one of Emma’s that she deemed decent enough to read while she was there, and went to Henry’s room.
“Oh, I forgot you were here,” Henry sleepily said as he struggled to keep his eyes open long enough to really see his brunette mother. “I’m still at the apartment, right?”
Regina smiled at Henry’s loopy talk. Even though she didn’t like seeing him in any kind of pain, even pain that was brought on by a typical cold, she still found it cute when the medicine altered his mentality.
“Yes, dear,” she replied.
“Sick on the couch.”
“Aw, I gave it to her?”
“It appears that way,” Regina said as she sat on the corner at the foot of his bed and rubbed his shin over the covers. “What do you need?”
Henry cleared his throat.
“I feel crummy,” he confessed. “I want to sleep, but I can’t.”
“Do you want to take a shower? The hot water and steam might help.”
“Okay,” Henry said as he let his eyes close and stay closed.
Regina got up and started the shower for Henry. When she came back into his room, he was halfway out of bed with dark bags under his eyes and a discontent expression to match his birth mother’s. She helped him walk from his room to the bathroom and peeled off the shirt as the steam crawled up the walls and curled into itself when it met the ceiling.
Henry sniffled as his sinuses cleared a little from the steam and removed his pajama pants. He handed his pants to Regina then stripped off his socks.
Regina took those, too, and started to leave before Henry rid himself of his boxers, something she didn’t remember him wearing until he went to live with Emma in New York.
“I’ll be right in the other room if you need me,” Regina said as she started to turn the doorknob, because he hadn’t let her see him naked since he turned nine and covered himself from her with a blush on his cheeks.
“‘Kay. Hey, Mom?”
“If Emma’s sick too, you should make her some soup or something.”
“What? Why on earth would I do that?”
“Because she has what I have and when she gets sick, she’s just like me. It gets bad if she doesn’t take care of herself and she doesn’t really take care of herself, especially lately.”
Regina remained still while her hand remained on the doorknob as she let Henry’s words sink in. Then she started to replay the previous morning’s conversation between Emma and Henry in her head about her happiness and the little bit of guilt she’d heard in Emma’s voice about what happened with Robin.
“Fine. I’ll make her some soup,” Regina said before she left with Henry’s clothes and shut the bathroom door behind herself.
And she did make Emma soup. From a can. Without hot chocolate to accompany it. Set on the coffee table for Emma to reach out and eat without help even though the blonde hardly moved beyond rolling all over the couch in one failed attempt after another to get comfortable.
Then Emma’s phone buzzed against the hardwood and Emma groaned.
“It’s my mom,” Emma said with enough lucidity to know there was someone else in the room. “She sent a text earlier, but I didn’t answer.”
Regina brushed her hands off on her pants to wipe off the moisture that had collected on them from carrying the warm bowl of soup to Emma before she crouched down and retrieved the phone. Emma was right. It was Snow and she wasn’t sending texts anymore. She was calling.
“Here,” Regina said as she held out the phone for Emma to answer.
“I don’t want to talk. I want to sleep,” Emma whined as she turned away from Regina and the phone and nuzzled into the space between her pillow and the back cushions of the couch.
Regina sighed and looked down at the phone for a moment. She remembered Henry’s insistence to help Emma while she was sick and even though she didn’t really want to even make the woman soup, she decided to take the call. For Henry’s and for a potentially worried Snow’s sake, because she too was a mother and could understand the concern.
“Em—Regina? Why are you answering Emma’s phone?”
“She’s sick and doesn’t want to talk.”
“She’s sick? And you’re there to…what, nurse her back to health?”
“No,” Regina replied as she reigned in the bit of anger that arose from having to answer questions Snow didn’t need to ask. “I’m helping Henry get better and Emma got sick from being too close to him.”
“Oh. Well…how are they? David’s going to stop by with some more hot chocolate and leftovers for Emma later, although, I guess she won’t eat any of it if she’s sick too.”
Regina closed her eyes and tried to tolerate the not-horrible but not-enjoyable conversation with Snow.
“But, then you’re there and I guess you could probably eat some if you wanted.”
“David’s coming by later and you were checking on Henry. That’s why you called,” Regina asked through almost gritted teeth as she tried to hurry the other woman along so she could hang up sooner.
“Oh, right. Yes.”
“Henry’s taking a shower. He still doesn’t feel well enough to get out of bed and Emma’s starting to follow suit. I’ll be here to let David in whenever he stops by. Goodbye, Snow.”
Regina didn’t wait for Snow to say goodbye back before she ended the call then set the phone beside Emma’s soup on the table.
“Thank you,” Emma said into the couch.
“You’re welcome,” Regina said as she walked back to the kitchen and resumed reading.
Sometime after David stopped by and Henry was feeling well enough to sit up and read comics, there was a knock at the door. Emma had fallen asleep after Henry made her take some medicine once he got out of the shower so Regina answered.
She hadn’t expected Marian on the other side of the door with a warm pot in hand, but by the looks of it Marian hadn’t expected to see Regina either.
“Can I help you,” Regina decided to ask, her tone neutral as she broke through the silence she was sure would carry on too long if neither of them said something soon.
“I heard from Snow that Roland managed to get Emma and Henry sick,” Marian replied with slightly wide eyes, but a firm and even voice.
“Well, I–” Marian started as she almost walked into the apartment without permission then froze in place before she could cross the threshold and flicked her gaze back up to Regina. “What are you doing here?”
“As you’ve said, my son is sick. I’m here because he asked me to stay until he’s well again. What are you doing here, dear?”
Marian’s eyes narrowed into a subtle glare that Regina smirked at because no one could glare harder at a person than the former Evil Queen.
“I thought I’d bring soup, a recipe from our world. I figured since Roland was the cause of this and he is my son, I should do something to rectify it. Unlike some people who just add to the pain and suffering they cause the people around them.”
“Oh, passive aggressive, are we?”
There was a dark kind of mirth in Regina’s eyes as they twinkled before Marian.
“I’ll give them the soup, though I doubt they’ll touch it. You couldn’t pay the beloved Savior to eat more than one or two things from ourworld.”
“I thought I would come in and see how they are,” Marian determinedly stated and defiantly lifted her chin to Regina.
Regina giggled like the evil woman in power she used to be before Storybrooke and Henry and…light magic. Not the life-ruining blonde who continued to shove herself into the couch like having the cushions eat her alive would eliminate her flu symptoms. No, just Storybrooke, Henry, and light magic.
“I don’t think so. But I’ll be sure to tell them you stopped by,” Regina said as she reached for the soup.
Then Marian got bold and pulled the soup away just before Regina’s fingers could even skim the pot handles. She turned her body slightly away from Regina then took the opening between Regina and the doorway to slip past the other brunette and into the apartment.
“Emma,” Marian called out for the blonde as she strode inside.
Emma groaned and rose just enough from the couch to look over the arm of it to see Marian a little panicked and heading right toward her while Regina pursed her lips and closed the apartment door.
“Are you alright,” Marian asked as she set the pot on the counter before she went to the couch and stared down at the worn woman who saved her life.
“Mm? Wh- Yeah. I’m just sick. No big deal,” Emma casually dismissed the entire situation.
“I brought soup.”
“Oh, goody,” she sarcastically responded. “Because we really needed more soup around here.”
Marian frowned and Regina joined them at a safe distance in the main room of the apartment.
“Regina, did my dad come by already,” Emma asked as she looked past Marian to lock eyes with the other woman.
“Yes. The leftovers are in the refrigerator.”
“Are they any good?”
“They could be worse.”
Emma nodded then thumped her head onto the pillow.
Marian looked between the two woman with confusion etched across her face and Regina chose not to pay her any attention as she went to check on Henry.
“Emma,” Marian conspiratorially whispered as she bent over at the waist and crept closer to the blonde.
“What,” Emma asked as she kept her face half-planted into the pillow beneath her, but popped open an eye to look at Marian.
“Is it wise that Regina be here,” Marian asked as she wrung her hands in front her, like Roland only less clumsily.
“Henry’s sick and asked her to stay. I’m okay with that.”
“But…she’s an evil woman.”
Emma took a deep breath and sighed before she rolled onto her side and propped herself up on one elbow.
“No,” she definitively responded. “She’s a good person who did bad things. She hasn’t done anything bad in a while and she’s definitely not going to hurt Henry.”
“Hasn’t done anything bad? What about holding me captive and nearly killing me then trying to bed my husband?”
Emma pinched the bridge of her nose and took a few steadying breaths before she pushed herself into a sitting position, her legs draped over the couch and the pillow abandoned.
“I know it’s a lot to process, but the Regina you’re looking at isn’t the same as the way she was when you were imprisoned by her. And…as far as ‘bedding’ your husband – which I really don’t want to think about – she wasn’t seducing him. They were sort of dating and you weren’t here and it’s not like she planned for all of this to happen.”
“Emma, as your friend I really think I should tell you that you should keep better company. She may be Queen, but that doesn’t make her any less of a whore.”
“Whoa! She was not using Robin like– Ugh. She didn’t kill you just to sleep with your husband. She was happy and it was a relationship and I…I screwed that up by bringing you back.”
Marian gaped at Emma.
“Do you wish you hadn’t brought me back with you,” Marian softly asked, her expression saying that she was afraid to know the answer.
“No, of course not. But I really wish doing it hadn’t hurt her.”
Marian swallowed thickly and looked down at the floor.
“I don’t care why she did it. Robin is my husband and to think of him with her just–”
“I get it. I do, but things are different here and I’m one hundred percent sure she’ll leave Robin alone if you two are staying together.”
Marian shook her head.
“How can you believe that?”
“Because. She understands. You might think she’s a heartless killer and husband stealer and whatever other insults you want to throw at her, but she’s been through a lot of stuff and she’s been in love and she’s been crushed because of it. And I don’t just mean that because the person she loved was killed. Her mom was– Well, I’m not gonna share all the secrets of hers that I know because they aren’t mine to tell. But I’ll tell you this, Regina’s staying and if you don’t like her being around my son and I then you can just stop coming around to see me. Got it?”
Marian gave a nod of comprehension and avoided eye contact with Emma for more than a couple of seconds.
“I’ll leave the soup with you. I hope you and Henry feel better and I apologize that Roland passed it on to you both.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Emma calmly said.
“Okay,” Marian barely said above a whisper then turned and started to leave.
The other woman spun back around to face her.
“Don’t ever call Regina a whore again.”
Her green eyes cut through skin like a freshly sharpened knife and her expression was as serious as Emma Swan could ever look.
Marian cleared her throat and noticeably stiffened before she threw up her walls to shield herself from Emma’s new demeanor. The woman looked strong and resilient in that moment and Emma inwardly commended her for it.
“Yes, Your Highness,” the other woman purposely stressed the title then turned again and left.
Emma slumped against the back of the couch and dropped her head back to rest her neck on the curve of the cushions. She puffed out a short but heavy sigh and closed her eyes.
Henry started to stir when Regina entered his bedroom. He smiled at her as he barely opened his tired eyes.
“How are you, honey,” Regina asked as she came to sit on the edge of the bed.
“I’m okay. Not really feeling so horrible anymore, but I keep falling in and out of sleep.”
Regina smiled back at him and rubbed his arm. “You should rest as much as you can.”
“I know. You always say that when I’m sick.”
Regina’s smile brightened. “Tell me more about New York. You can talk your way right into sleep.”
Henry breathed out a burst of laughter.
“What else haven’t I told you about New York?”
“How about that monkey your other mother almost married.”
Henry laughed a little more and it came out as more than air that time.
“You really find it funny that she almost said ‘I do’ to a guy who was a part-time monkey, huh.”
“You have no idea,” Regina said as she smirked. “Aside from the good things your father actually did for us, the monkey just makes it that much clearer how poor Emma’s taste in men is.”
Voices were raised from behind Henry’s closed bedroom door and momentarily caught his and Regina’s attention. It sounded like two voices, but that was all that could be understood. There were two distinctly different pitches of voice that mumbled seemingly to each other, but neither of the Mills’ could make out a word.
“Well, he was nice to me and I never saw him go all evil monkey on her so I’d say he was an okay guy until, you know, he changed,” Henry continued with the conversation.
“You’d know better than me. I never had the chance to meet him.”
“You probably wouldn’t have liked him anyway.”
“What makes you think that,” Regina asked as she furrowed her brows and shook her head.
“Uh, because you and Emma don’t like anyone the other is seeing.”
Regina’s confusion only grew.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean,” Henry drew out the words. “Emma’s with Hook and you can’t stand Hook. I see the way you stare at him like you want to trip him or take away his hook for a while just to make things difficult. And when you were with Robin, I didn’t really see how she reacted, but there were a few times Emma made it clear she wouldn’t mind if she could talk to you without him showing up.”
Regina tilted her head to one side and considered his words. Before she could inquire more about what Henry might have seen between his two mothers, though, the voices started to become much clearer.
“She may be Queen, but that doesn’t make her any less of a whore.”
Regina’s eyes widened and she gasped, surprised, just before she heard something even more surprising follow Marian’s words.
“Whoa! She was not using Robin like– Ugh. She didn’t kill you just to sleep with your husband. She was happy and it was a relationship and I…I screwed that up by bringing you back.”
Henry looked from Regina to his bedroom door and back again as both he and Regina listened to the conversation behind his room.
“Do you wish you hadn’t brought me back with you?”
“No, of course not. But I really wish doing it hadn’t hurt her.”
For a short time, the words turned back into mumbles before Regina and Henry could understand what was being said once again.
“You might think she’s a heartless killer and husband stealer and whatever other insults you want to throw at her, but she’s been through a lot of stuff and she’s been in love and she’s been crushed because of it. And I don’t just mean that because the person she loved was killed. Her mom was– Well, I’m not gonna share all the secrets of hers that I know because they aren’t mine to tell. But I’ll tell you this, Regina’s staying and if you don’t like her being around our son and I then you can just stop coming around to see me. Got it?”
Regina blinked several times, her mouth agape, while she continued to sit on the edge of Henry’s bed. She knew that when she had stopped talking to Emma like they were friends or could even become friends it wasn’t because the blonde had pulled away. She knew whatever tension existed between them was because she herself chose to keep it there. But she didn’t think that while the two of them didn’t talk about anything other than Henry and she hardly ever looked at Emma that the frustrating blonde would actively defend her. Not to someone like Marian at least, someone who was a victim.
“I’ll leave the soup with you. I hope you and Henry feel better and I apologize that Roland passed it on to you both,” Marian said after a moment.
“Don’t worry about it.”
“Don’t ever call Regina a whore again.”
Henry proudly smiled at that while Regina had yet to move from her rigid, upright position and her expression was still one of disbelief and shock.
“Yes, Your Highness.”
The apartment door closed a little louder than a calm person would have shut it, but Marian at least hadn’t slammed it. When the apartment went silent again, Regina finally snapped out of her daze and looked at Henry.
Henry knowingly and even cockily grinned at her.
“So…will you be nicer to her now?”
Emma silently questioned everything Regina did. She looked over the brunette with suspicion and curiosity when the older woman refused to let her stay on the couch a moment longer and served her food in bed later that day. Then she checked Emma’s temperature and turned up the heat a little in the apartment with the excuse that it would help just a little with the shivering.
Henry had seemingly been cured with magic at that point because he smiled his way into Emma’s room and laid out on the empty side of her bed. He looked a lot better than the day before and even slightly better than before his shower earlier.
“Whatever your mom did to you to make you look like that, tell her I want it,” Emma said as she pulled up the covers a little further then started in on her tomato soup and crackers. “Also, tell her I cave. I want some hot chocolate with this soup.”
Henry laughed a little, but Regina walked in and spoke up before he could respond.
“I didn’t give him anything I haven’t already given you. And I’ll bring you hot chocolate as soon as you talk to your incessant mother. She keeps calling to check on you and she’s threatening to leave Neal with David just to burst in here and lecture us all.”
Emma, feeling just slightly better thanks to Regina’s persistent medicine feeding, laughed instead of groaning and Regina tossed the phone off to the side of her on the bed.
She called Snow back and confirmed that she was doing well, Henry seemed to be over the worst of the flu, and she was starting to have better moments here and there throughout the worst of her cold. By the time she finished her talk with Snow, Regina brought a mug of hot chocolate to Emma as promised.
“Okay. I’ll see you when I’m not contagious,” Emma said into the phone as Regina set the heated mug onto the tray table in her lap. “Alright. Bye.”
Emma hung up and left the phone beside her on the bed over top of the covers that Regina had fixed to be less messy before she’d given Emma the tray table and soup.
“Moms,” Henry flatly said in relation to the phone call with a shake of his head. “They’re kind of annoying when they worry too much about your health and your safety and if you’re doing your schoolwork.”
Emma and Regina both rolled their eyes.
“You don’t know how much I wanted that growing up, Kid,” Emma said and looked right at him as she said it. “You’re one of the fortunate ones.”
“Extra fortunate, I would say,” Regina added. “You have not one, but two mothers looking out for you. Two very powerful and very capable mothers if I say so myself.”
Emma smiled at Regina and it felt familiar to the blonde. The way her lips had curled upward and the emotion in her chest joined by the thoughts that ran through her head. It was just as it had been when she and Regina tried to recreate the memory potion for Henry, before the stakeout, and before everything that just got out of hand. Things like soul mates and one-handed pirates and bringing a woman back from the past that ultimately ended Regina’s romantic happiness.
Regina forced a small, stiff smile in return. It didn’t look pained, but Emma saw a look in brown eyes that said the woman was hesitant to respond to her smile at all. She didn’t know why that was, but she knew things between them were still strained and she knew Regina was just as guarded, if not more, than she was.
Then Regina said, “Henry, will you give us a minute?”
Emma’s smile faltered a little because even though Regina didn’t sound like she wanted Henry to leave so she could yell at her, she still worried she’d done something wrong. Again.
“Sure,” Henry said and then smiled at his brunette mother like he knew something Emma didn’t.
Emma bit off half a cracker as Henry left them and when they were alone, Emma slowed her chewing as she stared up at Regina with puppy dog eyes, large and wondering.
“I wanted…to thank you,” Regina started as she slowly walked around to the empty side of the bed.
“For what,” Emma asked after she swallowed. “You’re the one taking care of Henry and me.”
Regina shook her head as she crept up toward the head of the bed.
“I know you feel badly about how things turned out with Robin and me and…I was wrong to freeze you out.”
“No you weren’t.”
“You shouldn’t even be doing all of this for me,” Emma said as she gestured at everything around her, the tray table, the food, and her phone. “I did the right thing and it ended up costing you something you deserve.”
Regina sat beside Emma on the bed, but kept her feet rooted on the hardwood floor.
“What have I done to deserve that just yet,” Regina asked with a small and definitely not forced smile.
“You’ve been a damn good mom when I wasn’t and even still now that I’m in Henry’s life. You’ve saved my parents when you technically didn’t have to because you could have just left them to figure it out alone. You stomped all through Neverland and did everything you had to to bring Henry home safely. And you’ve given me–”
Emma stopped herself and picked at the seams of her bedspread.
“What have I given you,” Regina asked as she shifted closer to Emma on the bed, one foot off the floor as she tucked a leg underneath herself.
“Your memories,” Emma answered too quickly. “Of you and Henry before we had to go to New York.”
“No, you were going to say something else.”
“No, I wasn’t.”
Emma sighed and turned to look at Regina.
“You’ve given me hope that not everything dark stays that way. Do you know what I see when I look at you?”
Regina gulped and pulled back from Emma just a little then shook her head, words apparently too hard to form.
“ Light, strength… Home.”
Regina gasped. It was just a slight hitch of breath, but it was the loudest thing in the otherwise quiet room.
“I’m with Hook and I just think, ‘Is this my life?’ And I can’t understand why my happy ending pales in comparison to you. Just you. And then add you and Henry?”
Emma shook her head and stopped talking. She reached out and took a cough drop from the bag on her nightstand. She started to unwrap it as she turned away from the nightstand to face forward again, her body no longer twisted at angle, when Regina took her chin in her hand and gently turned her head to make eye contact.
“I had to say goodbye to Henry on the day of Pan’s curse,” Regina started to say. “I knew I was giving him up, the thing I love most. …And then I had to say goodbye to you.”
Emma’s eyes started to water.
“I didn’t see it before I held your hand and tried to assure you everything would be fine…better. But then I held your hand. And I saw that look. I always thought that it was just your influence on Henry that encouraged him to push me to be good that made me try, but…I don’t think that was the only reason anymore.”
Emma took a shuddered breath in and Regina released her chin.
“What do you want, Emma?”
She looked at Regina for a moment and searched through those brown eyes a little too long.
“Not Hook,” she answered.
And then they laughed together. Watery laughs muddled by the thickness in their throats from unshed tears and the weight of their conversation.
“Anything else,” Regina asked after their laughter started to subside. “Perhaps something more in connection with your cold and making you feel better?”
Emma chuckled as her cheeks turned a little pink.
“Um, I…the one thing I never had when I got sick was someone to be there for me.”
Regina tried to say something, but Emma cut her off before she could begin.
“And you’ve been here for me, but…” Emma sighed after a few seconds. “Nobody’s ever stayed.”
Regina’s lips twitched into a flash of a smile that disappeared as quickly as it had come to her and she nodded. After a couple of seconds, she stood and picked up the tray table. She placed the cough drops on it to make room for it on the nightstand then set it aside there.
“What are you–?”
Regina headed toward the other side of the bed again and caused Emma to stop herself from asking a question that was soon answered when the brunette took off her shoes. She slid under the covers beside Emma and laid flat on her back, her head on the pillow and her gaze briefly focused on the ceiling.
Emma didn’t move. She watched Regina move around the room and join her in the bed, but she didn’t say another word to the brunette. The only part of her that she moved during any of what Regina did was her head so she could monitor the woman throughout every action.
Regina looked over at Emma and patted the space between their bodies over the covers.
“Lie down and get some sleep. It’s done wonders for Henry. It should have the same effect on you.”
“I stayed for Henry, didn’t I?”
“Yeah, but he’s family.”
“Last I checked the mother of my son is my family too.”
Emma stuttered a little and Regina just smirked up at her while the blonde remained seated and she remained on her back. She seemed proud and, dare Emma even think it, happy.
“Does this mean you forgive me?”
“Emma, the only thing I blamed you for was betraying me by taking something from me, which was unintentional. I don’t want to hold it over you for another thirty years like I did with your mother. Who has time for that?”
Emma let herself at least chuckle at that as the tension she felt from the change in mood between her and Regina slip away.
“You’re right. We’d be two women in our sixties just staring each other down whenever our paths crossed,” Emma replied as she wiggled further into bed and made herself comfortable beside Regina.
“I’m sure we’d have bad hips by then too.”
Emma furrowed her brows as she turned her head to the side to look at the other woman.
“We probably would have brought magic into our fights by then,” Regina elaborated. “And I can throw a person pretty far with it.”
Realization dawned on Emma and she smiled.
“I can see it now. ‘I shall destroy your hip if it is the last thing I do’,” Emma said using her best impression of Regina.
“Just remember, you have no idea what I’m capable of,” Emma added.
Regina rolled her eyes with a smile.
“I believe we’ve reached a truce,” Regina said.
“Yeah, guess we did,” Emma smiled as she looked from Regina up to the ceiling. “That’ll be nice.”
“Indeed,” Regina hummed.
Emma woke up the next morning to the smell of apple and silky hair in her face. When she opened her eyes, the light in the room revealed Regina Mills asleep in her bed in front of her.
The brunette’s back was to her and slightly curled to fit Emma’s body as she lazily held the mayor in her arms, one of them casually draped over the woman’s waist. She looked peaceful, content. And she had stayed.
She vaguely remembered being half-asleep when she rolled over and spooned Regina who was just as almost-unconscious as her.
Regina had groaned a little in what sounded like protest and Emma convinced her it was the only way she could sleep and reminded her that Regina had said sleep would get rid of her cold sooner.
Regina couldn’t argue with that. Or at least she hadn’t tried.
So they slept wrapped up like that all night and the sight before Emma held promise. Some things were fixed and nothing was ever really broken. She didn’t know what the future held for her or for Regina, but the near future looked bright and with the two of them somehow together.
Regina rolled onto her back and hummed while Emma scooted over a little in the bed so Regina wouldn’t roll into her. Regina blinked a few times, slightly confused for the first few seconds upon waking, before she hummed again then spoke.
“Morning,” Emma greeted with a hint of a warm smile, the expression reserved due to uncertainty and hesitance.
“Would it be alright and not at all presumptuous of me to say that you cling to everyone like a koala bear does a tree?”
Emma let her smile shine then, her happiness no longer contained.
“It’s accurate so go ahead and say it. I don’t hug a lot, but when I do I hold on tight.”
“…God, your hair is a mess,” Regina changed the subject when she saw golden hair tangled in places while thinner blonde strands stood up like someone had rubbed a blown up balloon against the woman’s head.
“Ha, like yours is any better.”
Regina sat up and brushed her fingers through her hair.
“I think it does,” Regina said and she was right.
Her hair was only pushed up in a few contained areas. It was obvious, but it didn’t look half bad.
“You’re right,” Emma agreed then ran a hand through her own hair.
Henry didn’t bother to knock before he opened the door with a questioning expression. That expression immediately changed when he saw both of his mothers in bed together with wild hair.
“Oh my god! What…? What?”
“Sorry, Kid. I couldn’t keep my hands off her last night.”
“Ah,” Henry yelled and squeezed his eyes shut before he put his hands over his ears. “Mom, when I told you to be nicer to Emma I didn’t mean you should be super nice to her!”
Regina laughed that time while Emma quizzically looked from Henry to her.
“Nothing happened, Henry,” Regina assured him. “Emma just wanted to see your reaction.”
Henry dropped his hands to his sides and opened his eyes.
“And it was so worth it,” Emma said, to which Henry shot her a glare.
“That’s not funny, Mom,” Henry told Emma. “I would be okay with it if you two ever wanted to date, but you can’t joke about me walking in on things I never want to think about no matter who you’re with.”
“But, Henry, your mom and I are sexual beings like every other person in Storybrooke,” Emma teased.
“Like your parents,” Regina rhetorically asked with a grin.
Emma scrunched up her face, uncomfortable and sick for entirely different reasons than the common cold.
Henry’s face lit up when he saw the effect of Regina’s words on her and laughed. “Good one, Mom.”
“You’re a riot, Alice,” Emma dryly said and glared at Regina.
Regina laughed for a moment then as well. And then she sneezed.