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For The First Time

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The first time they kiss, it’s in Regina’s office, not all that long after Emma has taken up the job of Sheriff.

She’s there to hand over paperwork, the budget reports that she’d had to struggle her way through, because there wasn’t really anyone she could ask for help, aside from Regina herself, and that was out of the question.

The brunette scoffs as she reads over Emma’s notes, and the blonde can only sigh because she should have known that the Mayor would try to make her job as hellish as possible. And yeah, maybe she can't really blame her – she does think that Emma’s trying to take her kid away, after all.

And she’s not, she has no intention of it (which she’s told Regina, a hundred times), she knows that she shouldn’t ever have met him, because it was a closed adoption, but now that she has? Now that she knows what he looks like, has seen what she had made, ten years ago? She can't bring herself to just up and leave, and she thinks that both she and Regina know that Henry would try to find her again, if she tried.

So she can't really blame the other woman for not liking her. She could accept it, even – if she wasn’t such an absolute bitch. Emma had asked for civility, for Henry’s sake, but Regina had basically just laughed in her face and told her to go away.

It makes things a little strained.

And now she’s managed to get herself a job that requires working very closely with the Mayor, and that’s just… not all that great.

“This needs more work,” Regina says, throwing the files back on her desk and shoving them pointedly towards where Emma sits, opposite her. “I expect them to be done to a more acceptable standard by five pm.”

“Seriously, Regina? They’re fine.”

“Fine is not good enough, Miss Swan. Fine is unacceptable, fine is average and I will not have my town’s police department fall into disarray under your carelessness.”

“Bit harsh,” Emma mutters, because she’s been in charge for only a week, and nothing awful has happened in that time, and that’s an achievement, right? “Can you at least tell me what to do to make them better?”

“Learning how to proof-read would be a good start,” Regina says snippily, and Emma rolls her eyes because she’d read through the report three times before bringing them to the brunette, knew that if there were still any mistakes that they would be minor.

“I know how to –”

“Oh, but do you?” Emma clenches her jaw, trying to refrain from snapping at the brunette, because that’s probably exactly what Regina wants – to fight, because that’s how they communicate with one another, these days. “By five pm, Miss Swan. I trust you can see yourself out?”

“Show me,” she demands, refusing to move – she merely straightens in her seat, watches Regina’s eyes flash with annoyance as they lock with hers, and she glares. “Show me the mistakes. If there even are any.”

“Are you suggesting that I’m wasting your time?” The words are said almost teasingly, and there’s a smirk pulling at the edges of Regina’s lips, but Emma’s not fooled – she’s furious, that Emma dare to challenge her, to stay even when she’s been asked (told), to leave. “Why on earth would I do that?”

“I don’t know, to piss me off?”

“I hope you don’t use language like that around my son.”

Our son,” she corrects, and Regina’s lip curls in distaste, and for just a second, Emma is half-afraid that the brunette is going to launch herself across the desk and attack her. “And no, because I’m actually pretty good with kids.”

“Are you suggesting that I’m not?” Regina snarls, and whoa, okay that had not been what she’d meant at all, but Regina is on her feet now, her hands planted on the desk, steadying her so that she can lean over the top of it, bringing her face close to Emma’s, and the blonde can see the fury in those dark eyes, and she wonders if she’s going to leave this office alive.

“Hey, wait, that wasn’t what I meant, I was just –”

“Get out!” The words are a quiet hiss, but the vehemence with which they’re spoken makes it feel like Regina has just screamed at her. She slams her hands down on the desk for added effect, so hard that the whole thing shakes, and Emma is a little terrified, but she’s so not going to let Regina intimidate her like this.

“Look, everyone else in this town may bend over backwards just so that you can get whatever the hell you want, but I’m not like them, you don’t get to order me around, okay?” She, too, climbs to her feet, and yeah, maybe she’s getting a little angry, too, because Regina has no right to talk to her like this. 

“Get out,” Regina repeats, and this time it’s louder, and her eyes flash, and Jesus Christ, for a second, for the first time since she came to town, she can see Henry’s point – like this, so filled with rage, she could pass as a fairytale villain, and fuck, she’d be a terrifying one at that. “I mean it.”

“Not until you tell me what’s wrong with my budget report – oh, wait, that’s right. You can't, because there’s absolutely nothing wrong, is there?” She swears that she actually hears Regina growl, before the brunette is stalking out from behind the desk, so that they’re face to face, and boy, does Regina love getting into Emma’s personal space.

“What’s wrong with it is that it’s sloppy, poorly put-together and lacking in the finer details.” She takes an exaggerated look down Emma’s body, before meeting her eyes with a sneer. “Much like you.”

“That is just –”

“I don’t care, Miss Swan,” Regina talks over her, voice cracking like a whip. “Perhaps I was wrong to believe that you could actually do a decent job, for once in your life.”

She knows that the brunette is just trying to wind her up, to get a rise out of her in the hope that it will propel her out of the door, but her words sting, all the same, and she struggles to keep her expression steady under the heat of Regina’s watchful gaze.

“Well clearly nothing I ever do will be up to your stupidly high standards, so why don’t you just do the fucking report yourself?”

“Oh, what a wonderful idea, Sheriff!” Her voice is taunting now, but there’s still that edge, her words viscous with the rage that Emma knows is till bubbling just beneath the surface of the brunette’s carefully controlled, put together façade. “Being the Mayor is just so easy, I have so much spare time, so why don’t I just take on yet more responsibilities? I’ll tell you what, why don’t I just do your entire job for you? Would that work for you?”

Emma can feel a muscle in her cheek twitch, because her jaw is clenching so hard, and God, she wants to hit her again. She really, really does. And she’s never been one for physical violence, if she can help it – she regrets letting Regina get the better of her in that graveyard, of making her lose control, and she can't – won't – let it happen again.

“You know what, actually? That sounds like a fantastic idea,” she plays Regina at her own game, taunting instead of screaming at her like she wants to. “Could you start right now? I mean, I’m just so lazy, I could really use a break.”

She watches Regina’s face carefully, because she’s sure that if she pushes the brunette too far that she’s going to get a slap, and she wants to see it coming so that she can get the hell out of the way, because she can recall all too easily the sting that Regina’s last hit had left on her cheek.

“Last chance, Sheriff,” Regina says, and it’s a quiet murmur, laced with a warning, but Emma doesn’t scare so easily. “Out.”

“You know, I don’t think I will, I kinda like this office – it’s roomy, I could get used to it.” She drops back in to the chair, and Regina’s hands, clenched into fists at her sides, shake with her anger, and Emma wonders if she’s ever had someone push her like this – everyone else in the town is terrified of her. Not to say that Emma isn’t, because she’s pretty fucking scared right now, but she’s seen her fair share of bullies, and she’s not one to back down for anything.

“I will make your life a living hell,” Regina promises, voice rough and low, and her hands find the arms of the chair that Emma’s sitting on, curling around the wood so that she can lean closer to Emma, and the blonde gulps because this had not been what she’d intended, at all.

She can feel the heat from Regina’s body, leaning over her own, and her traitorous eyes can't help but flicker from Regina’s eyes and down to the collar of her shirt, which, at this angle, has gaped open, revealing a hint of the black bra beneath.

And it’s not like she’s attracted to Regina - okay, maybe she is, a little, because hell, just look at her, but it’s not something that she’s ever thought about acting on for a second, because Regina hates her guts, probably wants her dead, and them falling into anything was way too fucked up and destructive for even her, the queen of failed relationships, to consider.

“Well, well.” Regina is smirking, and Emma knows that she’s noticed the blonde’s wandering gaze, but she forces herself to look the brunette in the eye. “Isn’t that interesting.”

“No idea what you’re talking about.” It’s a clear lie, and Regina’s laugh is mocking – Emma bristles, despite knowing that she should absolutely not react in any way. And then the brunette leans closer, sliding her hands with deliberate slowness up the arms of the chair, stopping only when she’s close enough to Emma’s face for them to breathe the same air.

“No idea, hmm?” The words ghost across Emma’s lips because that’s how close Regina is, and she forces herself to keep breathing. “Really?” She’s so close, and Emma knows that the brunette is practically daring her to do something, to kiss her, and goddammit, she really does not have the self-control for this game.

Her hands ball into fists in her lap, to fight the desire to reach out and touch Regina, so hard that her nails bite into her palms, probably leaving one hell of a mark. Her eyes are locked with Regina’s, and this close she can see small flecks of gold in her dark eyes.

“No idea at all,” she forces herself to reply, and her voice is a little hoarse, but she’s just glad that she actually managed to form a complete sentence with Regina so close. “You know, I can't leave with you trapping me here – careful, Madame Mayor, some might think that you don’t want to get rid of me.”

She’s hoping that goading the Mayor will get her to move, the promise of her finally leaving overriding the desire that Regina clearly has to try and humiliate her. And at this point, she’d rather lose by stalking out of the office, head held high, than crumble at this hurdle, to actually make an attempt to kiss Regina, because she knows that’s exactly what the brunette wants. And it’s not because she wants Emma, either (though maybe somewhere, deep, deep down, she does, but then maybe that’s wishful thinking on her part). No, it’s because she wants to have power over Emma, because that’s how Regina works, and she’s tried for so long to not let the brunette hold anything over her head, that to lose out now would be a disaster.

But not the end of the world, she tells herself, as she watches Regina’s eyes flash with irritation at Emma’s words, and for a second, she thinks she’s won – she’s sure that Regina’s going to lean back, let her go, and they can pretend that whatever just happened never had, and carry on like normal.

Except Regina doesn’t move back – instead, she surges forward, capturing Emma’s lips in a bruising kiss, and a strangled noise of surprise comes from the back of Emma’s throat as Regina’s tongue darts past her lips, stroking against her own.

And she shouldn’t want this. She should push Regina away, she should be furious with her, for kissing her without permission. But she can’t quite bring make herself move, and God, she’s enjoying it, and then she decides what the hell – she’s never going to get this chance again, she may as well make it worth her while, kiss Regina Mills with all that she’s got, and hopefully make it extremely difficult for the Mayor to forget this moment.

Her hands stay at her lap, and Regina’s stay curled around the chair, and it’s as if they’re afraid to touch each other because that would make it seem more real. She doesn’t know how long they stay like that for, practically making out like a couple of horny teenagers, because she loses all sense of time – all sense of everything, really, aside from Regina’s lips pressed against her own.

Like all good things, though, it has to come to an end, and it does when Emma takes the brunette’s bottom lip between her teeth and bites down gently – a moan slips past Regina’s lips, and Emma barely has time to feel gratified that it had been Regina, and not her, to let out the first sound of satisfaction, before the Mayor shoves herself away.

Emma sees, just before her mask slips into place, that she looks appalled, and she hopes that it’s because she’d expected Emma to be a shitty kisser and is pleasantly surprised, but she figures it’s probably more likely to be that she’s annoyed at herself for letting anything happen in the first place.

Her face is flushed, and her lipstick’s smudged, and Emma smirks, because she did that, she’d forced the Mayor to lose control of herself, even if it was temporarily, because there was no way that she’d planned that.

“I guess I’ll just be on my way.” Emma’s the first to break the silence, and she’s still smirking as she pushes herself to her feet and shoves her hands into the pockets of her leather jacket. Regina’s eyes are unreadable as they rest on Emma’s face, and the blonde wonders if things are going to change between them now.

“I think that’s for the best.”

Or maybe not.

x-x-x

The first time they fuck is two weeks later, in Regina’s study.

After Henry had tried to run away when Regina had forbidden him to see Emma, the brunette had reluctantly agreed that they could have dinner together, twice a week, provided Henry was up to date on all his homework, and was back in time for eight, to be in bed by half past.

It’s after one such dinner that it happens – Henry had asked if Emma could stay and tuck him in, Regina had refused, and the ten year old had stormed up the stairs, crying, and screamed ‘I hate you’ to his adoptive mother before slamming his bedroom door closed.

Emma had been horrified, standing awkwardly at the bottom of the stairs, as she’d watch Regina’s whole body freeze, pain flashing across her face. They hadn't been alone much, since that day in her office, and neither of them had mentioned it again – though Emma had been tempted, a couple of times.

She’d told Emma stiffly to go upstairs and see to Henry, to make sure that he was in bed at precisely half-eight, and not a moment later, before she’d stalked off into the study that she’d taken Emma into on her first night in town, leaving the blonde alone.

She’d gone upstairs, eventually, had cracked open a door to what turned out to be Regina’s bedroom and not Henry’s. She’d paused there, for just a minute, taking it all in – it was very Regina, all pale colors, everything tidy and not a thing out of place.

Henry’s room was the next door she tried, and he was already curled up in bed, a sullen expression on his face that quickly transformed into a smile when he saw that it was her, and not Regina in the doorway. After reading him one of the stories from that damn book of his, she’d tucked him under the covers and pressed a kiss to his head, before traipsing back down the stairs.

What had compelled her to find Regina, instead of heading home like a normal, sane person would do, was a mystery. But that’s where she finds herself – hovering in the doorway of the brunette’s study, remembering what had brought her to be there in the first place, as the brunette reclines on one of the couches, a glass of cider in hand.

“Are you going to stand there all night, Miss Swan?” Regina asks, eventually, and Emma tells herself to turn around, to walk away, but her limbs apparently no longer obey her and she finds herself taking several steps into the room, leaning against the arm of the sofa Regina’s lounging elegantly on, her thumbs hooked in the belt loops of her jeans.

“He’s just a kid,” she says, because even though it’s not really her fault that Henry had told Regina he hated her, it also kind of is and she feels horrible because of it. “He doesn’t mean what he says.”

“Doesn’t he?” Regina asks, and her voice is bitter, her eyes haunted as they meet Emma’s.

“No, he’s just… I barely see him, I don’t have to discipline him, so if he’s going to resent one of us then it’d be –”

“So, you’re saying that while my son may not hate me he does resent me? Are you trying to make me feel better? Because you’re doing an awful job.” She looks away as she presses her glass to her lips and takes a long sip, and Emma groans, because apparently she really sucks at getting her point across when she’s in Regina’s presence.

“No, that’s not what I – you know what, never mind. I’ll just go.”

“You can stay for a drink, if you like.” Regina’s words halt her in the doorway, and when she turns around the brunette’s eyes are on her. She looks lost, lonely, and it’s probably the most human that she’s ever seen Regina look.

“Are you feeling okay? Cause that is so not like you.”

“Yes, well, you’ve intruded into every other aspect of my life – why not into my home and liquor cabinet, too?” Emma can't tell if the brunette’s trying to make light of the situation or not, her eyes sombre as Emma helps herself to a glass of cider from the decanter on the table, because the brunette wasn’t wrong on that first night – it is the best apple cider that she’s ever tasted.

“Besides,” Regina continues, as Emma perches against the arm of the sofa– she doesn’t want to make herself too at home, half-convinced that Regina will toss her out without a moment’s notice. “My son has grown far too attached to you – it seems I’m not going to be able to get rid of you easily; we may as well learn how to get along.”

“Wow, don’t strain yourself,” Emma mutters into her glass, and Regina smirks. “Is this where we make awkward small-talk and get to know each other?”

“Don’t push it.” Emma grins, and this is probably the first time that she and the brunette have been civil to one another, and it’s… nice. Weird, but nice. She’s a little proud of herself for not thinking too much about that kiss, and even more so for not bringing it up, though she’s a little curious if Regina’s change in attitude towards her has anything to do with it (yeah, probably not).

“Henry really didn’t mean it before, you know.” She tries to reassure Regina again, after they fall into silence, because the brunette still has a shadow of sadness across her face. “He loves you, you must know that.”

“I don’t,” Regina insists, and she sounds vulnerable, and it knocks Emma off-kilter because she’s just not used to it. “I think we both know which of us he’d choose, if it came down to it.”

“It’s not going to.” Emma slides down onto the couch beside Regina without thinking, and the brunette turns to her, surprise on her features before it transforms smoothly into a glare. “Okay? I have no interest in taking him away from you, God, I’d probably do an awful job.”

“Turn that probably into a definitely and I just might agree with you.” Emma rolls her eyes, but there’s no true malice in the brunette’s voice. “I know, though.”

“Huh?”

“That you won't try to take him from me – if you wanted to you would have, you’ve had ample opportunity, and he wouldn’t hesitate to follow you to the end of the earth.”

“He’d be begging to be brought back to you after a week.”

“If you say so.” It’s a quiet murmur, Regina’s voice unsure as she turns her gaze away from the blonde, and Emma reaches out without thinking, her hand catching the brunette’s chin and tilting her head up so that their eyes meet.

“He would,” she insists, and Regina’s eyes are dark, unreadable, her skin smooth and warm beneath her touch. “Trust me.”

Regina’s lips part, as though to speak, and then she seems to think better of it, and suddenly they’re kissing. Emma can't say for sure who initiates it, whether she slides her hand into Regina’s soft hair and pulls her closer, or whether Regina lurches across the small space between them, first.

But it doesn’t matter, as Regina shifts to straddle her lap, her hands curling around Emma’s shoulders as Emma lets her hands trail down the brunette’s back, until they’re grabbing at her ass – the moan that comes from Regina as she does is a noise that she’s going to be playing on repeat for the rest of her life.

Regina’s hands cup the side of her face as her tongue slips past Emma’s lips, tangling in her hair and holding her in place. Emma knows that they should probably stop, that this is a really, really bad idea, but that doesn’t stop her hands from slipping underneath Regina’s shirt, her fingers tracing up each vertebrae of her spine slowly, just waiting for the brunette to pull away and snap at her to leave.

But it doesn’t come, even when she reaches the strap of Regina’s bra, dragging her fingers around to the front to cup her breasts, letting her thumbs run teasingly over the nipples straining beneath the lace, and Regina’s resulting groan, reverberating through her mouth, sends a bolt of heat straight between her legs.

Regina’s mouth leaves hers, and she pulls back, and for a terrifying second, as they regard each other through half-lidded eyes, Emma thinks that she’s going to shove herself off of Emma’s lap and walk away. She can see the indecision warring in Regina’s eyes, dark with desire, so close to her own, and she tries to commit to memory the feeling of the brunette’s heaving chest beneath her hands, before she’s pushed away.

“This is a one-time thing,” Regina says, voice a little breathless, and Emma has to struggle to keep the elation off of her face, because she’s sure that if she looks to eager Regina will end this.

“Fine,” she murmurs, and doesn’t give Regina time to reply – she rolls both of the brunette’s nipples between her fingers, watches Regina’s eyes flutter shut and her back arch, as white teeth ensnare her bottom lip, and she’s really a sight to behold.

Emma’s hands slide down the brunette’s sides, and she lets her fingers drag lightly across her skin, and Regina arches further into her, and her eyes, when they flicker open again, are black, pupils blown, and fuck, she’s hot, and Emma’s pretty sure that her underwear has now been ruined.

The ache between her legs is pressing, but she can almost forget about it as her hands curl around the hem of Regina’s shirt and drag it over her head. Her bra is black lace, and the sight of her, poised above Emma, makes her mouth dry.

They’re kissing again, then, and their teeth clash and it’s messy, but it makes Emma moan because damn, is Regina a good kisser. Her hands run along the brunette’s thighs, and she laments the fact that Regina’s wearing pants and not a skirt.

Hips buck against her hands as her thumbs brush the inside of her thighs, and Regina groans, low in her throat, and suddenly Emma feels like they’re both wearing far too many clothes and her hands slide to the button of the brunette’s pants, and Regina gets the hint, dragging Emma’s shirt over her head before rising to her feet and slipping out of her slacks. Emma’s jeans go, next, and then Regina’s straddling her again, and Emma can feel the heat from the brunette’s core against her stomach.

She darts forward and presses kisses along the column of Regina’s neck, as the brunette’s hands tangle in blonde hair once more, tugging whenever she reaches a sensitive spot, hard enough to sting, and who would’ve thought Regina was a hair-puller?

Her hands move back up to Regina’s ass, because it’s pretty magnetic and she’s always been an ass girl, her fingers digging in, and the brunette’s hips press harder against her stomach, searching for friction. When Emma lets a hand slip between their bodies, cupping her roughly through her underwear, the hands in her hair pull hard, and Regina’s head tilts back as a louder moan slips past her lips, and Emma smirks against her skin.

She unhooks the brunette’s bra with a twist of her fingers, and can't get it away fast enough – as soon as Regina throws it over one shoulder, her mouth is tracking down to the brunette’s chest, and her tongue teases one nipple while her thumb brushes against the other, and moans are leaving Regina’s lips freely now, and it’s music to her ears.

Her other hand is still between Regina’s legs, and she’s circling her clit lightly with two fingers through the soaked material of the brunette’s underwear, and Regina’s hips are moving absently against her hand, seeking out more pressure, but she’s not ready to give it yet, content to shower her attention on the brunette’s breasts, because really, the way they drew the eye was the reason this was happening in the first place, because she’s certain that, without that kiss all those days ago, this wouldn’t be happening now.

“Emma,” Regina groans, and her hands drag Emma’s head back up, to press their lips together once more in a needy kiss. “Stop teasing,” she breathes against the blonde’s mouth when she pulls back, and Emma smirks, because she kind of likes having Regina at her mercy like this.

“Say please.” Regina’s eyes, previously half-closed, snap open, and she glares down at Emma, furious – but it’s kind of hard to take her anger seriously when her lips are bruised from Emma’s kisses, her hair messy from the blonde’s fingers running through it.

No,” Regina hisses, and Emma shrugs, like it’s no big deal. A few minutes ago, she wouldn’t have dared push this, because Regina was stubborn enough to throw her out of the door, but now, she can still feel her hips bucking against her hand, can tell from the flush across her skin and the heaving of her chest that she’s too far gone, now, to get up and walk away.

Without warning, she presses her fingers in a harder circle around Regina’s clit, and her knees shake around Emma’s hips, and she has to bite down hard on her bottom lip to smother her loud moan at the feeling, and then a whispered, desperate ‘please’ tumbles from her lips and Emma kisses her soundly as she drags the brunette’s underwear an inch or so down her legs.

Her fingers slide easily along the length of Regina’s slit, and she’s so, so, wet, and she groans at the feeling, and it’s echoed by Regina as she drags two fingers with deliberate slowness over her clit, and the brunette’s hips buck harder into her hand.

She twists the fingers of her free hands through Regina’s hair, and the brunette rests hers on the back on the couch behind the blonde as Emma slides two fingers through slick heat, teasing at the brunette’s entrance before pressing into her.

Regina pulls back from the kiss, lips parting and head falling back, and she grinds her hips down onto Emma’s hand, forcing her deeper. The brunette spreads her knees further apart on the couch as Emma pulls out and then thrusts back in, and Regina matches her every movement.

She’s basically riding Emma’s hand, and the blonde is content to just watch Regina, mesmerized by the way her breath catches whenever Emma curls her fingers, the way she pants against Emma’s mouth when the blonde pulls her back for another kiss, and the way her breasts sway with every movement of her hips – she’s beautiful, like this, surrendering herself to pleasure, her guard, for once, completely down.

The rocking of her hips soon becomes more frantic, and Emma shifts her hand, just slightly, so that on every press upwards her thumb drags across Regina’s clit, and it doesn’t take much after that, for Regina’s thighs to start to shake, and she comes with a moan breathed against Emma’s mouth, as the blonde feels the brunette clench around her fingers.

When Regina next opens her eyes, they’re guarded, and Emma mourns the loss of carefree Regina, as the brunette climbs (shakily, Emma notes with some satisfaction) to her feet, and the blonde almost groans at the loss of Regina against her hand.

She watches the brunette as she yanks her underwear back on, but that’s all she does – she pulls Emma into a kiss, then, hard and fast and needy, and when she pulls back there’s a wicked smirk on her face, and Emma just wants to wipe it off.

She’d always figured that Regina would be a top, considering how she has the penchant for trying to control everyone and everything in her life, but there were no complaints so far about Emma taking the lead, and she can't resist making a comment, even though she probably (definitely), shouldn’t.

“I never pegged you as a bottom.” She knows it’s a mistake as soon as she says it – when her eyes meet Regina’s there’s a spark of irritation hidden in their depths, which only intensifies when she sees the blonde smirking.

Regina makes a disgruntled noise, and Emma thinks that she’s actually managed to rattle her – but then the brunette bends, and Emma’s jeans and shirt are hitting her square in the stomach, and Regina is standing before her with her hands on her hips, still completely naked aside from her black panties.

“Get dressed and show yourself out.”

“Wait, seriously?” She calls, as Regina seizes her own clothes and then saunters from the room, and she turns in the doorway and smirks back at Emma, but all the blonde can think about is the unbearable ache between her legs, begging to be relieved by Regina’s sure to be skilful hands (or her mouth – god, she was sure that that would be something else).

“Maybe this will teach you to think before you speak.” She disappears then, through the door, and Emma sits for a moment longer, stunned (and maybe this is all just a joke). But Regina doesn’t joke, and after five minutes she groans, conceding defeat and hurriedly dressing herself, before hurrying out of the front door with Regina’s laughter, from the upstairs landing, ringing in her ears.

x-x-x

The first time she realizes she loves Emma Swan, it’s after the curse breaks, when it’s far too late to tell her.

Even now, months later, she can still feel Emma’s eyes on her, as she’d realized that it was all true – the anger, the resentment, the hurt, and it hurt her, too. And then she’d known, known that, despite thinking that she’d never know love again, that she’d managed to find it in the Saviour, of all people, the one woman wrought to bring everything that she’d created crashing down upon her.

It’s life’s biggest irony, really – not only that she’d fallen in love with the daughter of the woman that she’d tried so very hard, and for so long, to destroy, but that by the time she’d realized it, their chance to be anything had already passed them by.

Because Regina knew that Emma wouldn’t have been so hurt had she not loved Regina, too. And it’s unbearable, to think that they had been so close, and then it had all been ripped away – but then, she supposes, she’s not meant for a happy ending.

And then Emma was gone, shoving Regina selflessly out of the way in order to save her life, tumbling through the portal with her mother, and Regina was alone. Well, she had Henry, but she had a feeling he resented her, for letting Emma fall through – she’s sure he wished it was her that went, instead.

She wondered, at the time, if Emma was there, if they’d be able to patch up their differences. But again, she recalled the look in Emma’s eye, the one that had chilled her to the bone, the one that had screamed this is unforgivable, and her heart broke all over again.

It had been difficult, to not know where Emma was, if she was okay, and she had to struggle through it silently, because no-one else had any idea what was going on with the two of them. That was the way Regina had wanted it – sneaking around, the blonde slipping through her front door after Henry was asleep, and leaving in the early hours of the morning, when the both of them were sated.

She’d never spent the night.

Regina had been vehemently against it, no matter how many times Emma had pleaded to be allowed to stay, just for a few hours, promising to still be gone by the time Henry had gotten up, but she’d refused. She’d thought it would be easier, to stay detached, to pretend they were just sleeping together for the sake of it, rather than because there were feelings involved. Clearly, her plan hadn't worked either way.

She hadn't been able to stop it, either. She’d tried – more than once she’d told Emma that this would be the last time, that it could never, ever happen again. But she’d always caved, in the end, and Emma had always come running, wanting it just as much as Regina did.

It had become problematic, as Regina realized that the curse was oh, so close to breaking – did she pull Emma harder towards her, so she still had the memories, when the blonde inevitably turned away from her in disgust when she knew who she was, what she’d done? Or did she start to distance herself from the blonde, prepare herself for no longer seeing her, try and lessen the pain when the curse eventually broke?

She’d opted for the former, and if faced with the same decision, would probably make the same decision again, no matter how much pain she feels now. It was almost worth it, in the end – she’d known when the end was coming, had memorized every inch of Emma’s body, committed it to memory, along with the sound of her moans and the way she breathed Regina’s name.

When Emma came back from the Enchanted Forest, she invited her to the party, and Regina had stupidly thought that maybe Emma had started to forgive, for all the wrongs she’d done, had had time to think about it during her time away – but she’d been wrong, so, so wrong.

“I need you to keep your distance,” she’d said, when she and Regina had found a moment alone, and Regina could only try to keep her face blank, because she couldn’t let herself break down, let Emma (or the people gathered around them, who were still out for her blood), know how she felt, know that her heart was breaking once again in her chest, shattering to pieces, and she half-wishes that she’d done what her mother had done, and yanked it out of her chest years ago, when she’d lost Daniel, because maybe then she wouldn’t be in this mess in the first place.

She’d agreed, because Emma didn’t want her, not anymore, and maybe it’d be easier, for them to have some space – maybe then she could start to get over the blonde, to forget about her, to wipe away the memories of them tumbling into her bed (and onto pretty much every surface of her study, the kitchen, the shower, and both of their offices), and start to put her shattered self back together again, away from prying eyes.

She’d agreed, and she’d watched the woman that she loved walk away from her, because that was what Emma wanted, and somehow, somewhere along the way, Emma’s wishes had become the most important thing in the world to her.

Neverland had been… difficult, to say the least. Not only was her son missing, worry for him clawing at her throat with every breath that she took, but there was no escaping Emma on that ship. She’d barely slept, had jumped at the opportunity to set off alone as soon as they arrived on the island.

And then she’d found out that the blonde had kissed Hook, and that… she’d wanted to scream, because she could accept Emma not wanting her – she could – but the pirate? The pirate wasn’t much better than her, and yet Emma was throwing herself at him (okay, maybe not, but she was allowed to be mad, right?)

It had been easier, after that, to push Emma away, to force the blonde out of her mind – the thought of the blonde and Hook together had made it easier, because it made her stomach roil and the less time she spent thinking about that the better.

x-x-x

The first time they make love, it’s after Emma had been through the time portal, and into the past.

One week later, she turns up at Regina’s door at midnight, and it’s the first time that she’s seen the blonde since that night in the diner, when Emma had shattered the illusion of happiness that she’d managed to build around herself.

It’d been a façade, she knows that, and Emma probably knows it, too. It was unfair to Robin, but she couldn’t just force herself to love someone that she barely knew, just because some stupid fairy dust said that they were meant to be – not when her heart still pined for another.

Emma is crying, when Regina opens the door, and she all but falls into the brunette’s arms, and Regina’s too shocked to do anything other than pull her inside and wrap her arms around the blonde, and Emma rests her head on Regina’s shoulder, her hands fisted in the robe she’s wearing, and her whole body shakes with the force of her sobs and Regina doesn’t know what to do.

When Emma cries herself out, she pushes herself away from Regina, slightly forcefully, and stumbles back several steps, wiping hastily at her eyes with the back of her hand, and Regina just stands, watching her, taking her in, because even though her eyes are red and bloodshot, and she looks like she hasn’t slept in days, she’s still so breathtakingly beautiful, and Regina had never stood a chance at trying to move on.

“I’m sorry,” Emma says, finally, and Regina wonders if she’s apologizing for crying or something else entirely – because they don’t talk anymore, not really. They exchange stiff words and curt greetings, for appearances sake, but Regina really can't remember the last time they had an honest, frank conversation for the sake of it, and not because their lives are in danger (she refuses to count those few days of camaraderie when she’d attempted to brew the potion to bring Henry’s memories back, and the stake-out – Emma was only there because she had to be, she knows that). “I didn’t mean to… to barge in here.”

She wonders what memories it brings back, the two of them alone in this house for the first time since they curse broke (Henry is staying at Emma’s for the time being). She’s struggling to keep her mind clear of thoughts that involve Emma naked and splayed across the nearest surface, and she’s failing at it pretty badly.

“It’s quite alright.” She pulls the robe tighter around herself, and Emma’s eyes watch her, skimming along the neckline, across Regina’s exposed skin. “It’s nice to have some company,” she admits softly, because now that Zelena’s gone and there’s no further threat, she’s pretty much alone. Steering clear of Emma means staying away from her family, too, and Henry splits his time between the two of them, and no-one else in the town cares much about whether she lives or dies.

“Even if it’s my company?”

“Especially if it’s yours,” she murmurs in reply, and she watches Emma’s eyes widen, because that’s probably the honest thing she’s ever said to the blonde, and she knows that it takes her aback. But she’s tired, so, so tired, of pretending that she isn’t in love with Emma Swan, and maybe it’s time Emma knew it, too.

“I don’t… How? After everything… I’ve been horrible to you, ever since….” She doesn’t need to finish the sentence, because they both know since when. It’s the day that’s stamped on Regina’s mind as the worst day of her life – worse, even, than losing Daniel, because this time, she’d lost two people, her son and her lover, and she had nothing to fall back on, nothing to pour her emotions into, because she knew that if she ever wanted a chance to win them both back then she couldn’t drown herself in Dark Magic, much as she longed to.

“I deserved it.” She believes it, too – the things she did, she knows that they’re unforgivable, especially to someone like Emma, someone so good and so pure. “I deserved it all.”

“No you didn’t,” Emma insists, and her eyes are wild, angry, when they meet Regina’s. “I should have never… God, I was a monster to you and what, that’s all of a sudden okay?”

“Yes. I did horrible things, Emma, things that –”

“Things that are in the past.”

“But I still did them, and I know that you can't ignore that because you’re you and I wouldn’t lo–” She cuts herself off at the last second, biting her tongue. “You wouldn’t be you if you pretended that you’re okay with that. My hands aren’t just dirty, Emma – they’re soaked in blood.”

“But that’s not you anymore!” Regina wonders if Emma is trying to convince herself or the brunette of that, and it’s then that she notices the faint scent of alcohol in the air between them, and suddenly things start to make sense – Emma’s drunk, and that’s the only reason she’s here. Not because she wants to change things, to start to repair things between them, and it breaks her heart, because for a second she’s hoped, and she feels tears gathering behind her eyes, can't blink them away before a few fall, silently, down her cheek.

“You’re drunk. You’re only here because you’re drunk.” Her voice cracks, and Emma takes a step closer, but the brunette backs away.

“I’m not, I swear – I might have had a whiskey or two, to give myself the courage to force my coward ass over here, but I’m not drunk.”

“So the thought of actually having a conversation with me drives you to drink?”

“No, God, that’s not what I meant, do you have to take everything I say the wrong way?” Regina merely folds her arms across her chest, willing herself not to crumble, under the weight of Emma’s pleading gaze. “I just… Like I said, I’m a coward. I was… ashamed of myself, for pushing you away for so long, for being such a dick to you, and I know,” she puts a hand up as Regina opens her mouth to interrupt, “I know that you say that you deserve it, but let me just talk, okay?”

Regina nods, muted by Emma’s fervor and her obvious agitation, as the blonde starts to pace in-front of the door – Regina stands leaning back against the banister of the stairs, and just watches the blonde, takes her in, because it’s the first chance that she’s had to just observe her, uninterrupted and without fear of reprimand, for a long, long time.

“I was just so mad at you, you know? I… I thought we had something, and I know that we never talked about it, and half the time I was convinced that you still hated me, but then sometimes you’d look at me like…”

“Like you were everything,” Regina supplies, voice soft, and Emma stops her pacing, a pained look on her face, and once again, Regina’s struggling not to cry.

“But you lied to me – you let me think that it was all a lie, that our kid was crazy, and I know it was self-preservation for you, but I thought that you cared about me, Regina, and I didn’t know how to… How to come to terms with that, or how to trust you again. I don’t even know if I do right now, but I can’t… I can't just go around and carry on pretending that seeing you around but not being around you isn’t killing me.”

“I did care about you,” Regina swears, and her voice wavers because she needs Emma to believe her, to believe that. “I loved you.” She watches Emma’s eyes widen, her breath catch, and she knows that bearing her heart like this will either be their salvation or her destruction. “And I knew the curse was unravelling, that you were slipping away from me.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?” Emma croaks, and she’s closer to Regina now, just a few steps away. “We could’ve worked it out.”

“Tell you that I’d been lying to you for months and that it was all true?” Regina laughs, but it’s bitter, and it rings hollowly in her ears. “You’re honestly telling me that that would have been better for you? That it would have made things easier?”

“Maybe.” But it’s a lie, and they both know it – the second that they’d kissed, on that day, they’d been doomed to failure, because the curse was always going to be broken, and they were always going to fall for one another, be ripped apart when the truth came out. “But if I’d have known that… if I knew how you felt. Things could have been different.”

“You already knew,” she murmurs, her voice soft, and Emma is shaking her head. “You did.”

“It’s always nice to hear it first-hand. I thought… I didn’t know if I was making things up. Wishful thinking, you know? Because I loved you, too. I still love you, God, I can't keep you off my mind, and I should be able to, because it’s been months, but I…”

Regina’s rooted to the spot, barely believing her ears because this is everything that she’s ever wanted Emma to say, and she almost pinches herself to make sure that it’s not a dream. Her words catch in her throat, and Emma is looking at her with broken eyes, and she did that to her, she’s a monster, and yet, she’s broken, too. This is what they’ve done to each other, and only with each other can they attempt to but the pieces back together.

“I thought… I thought you’d moved on. I thought you were happy, with… with Hook.” His name burns, coming from her mouth, because she hates him with every fibre of her being, the man that strapped her down to a table and allowed her to be tortured, the man who had stolen Emma away. And maybe she hates Emma a little bit, too, for choosing him despite that – despite the pain that he’d caused her. “I saw you together, outside the diner after you came back through the time portal. Before… before Marian.”

“I was using him,” Emma admits softly, but Regina flinches anyway, because the thought of his hands on the blonde’s body… it makes her blood boil. “You and Robin, you seemed happy, and I… I thought you’d moved on, that I’d left it too late to try patch things up, and that I should try and be happy, too.”

“So you chose him?” She feels like her old self, a little, her eyes pinning Emma with an angry glare, watching as the blonde shifts uncomfortably.

“Yeah, I… He wanted me.” She sounds so small, vulnerable, and Regina softens, just a little. “He was there, and he made me feel like I was wanted.”

“And I didn’t,” she responds, coldly, and Emma winces. “Because you never gave me the chance.”

“I didn’t –”

“Know how to trust me, I know.” It stings, though. “I’m not mad.”

“Really? Cause you look kinda mad. You look like you want to hit something.”

“I’m not mad at you, then.” She sighs, because she’s suddenly feeling exhausted, and even though they’re talking they don’t seem to be getting anywhere. “Why are you here, Emma? Why now?”

“Because I… I tried to convince myself, you know? That I didn’t have feelings for you anymore, that I could be with Hook and it’d be okay. I talked myself up to it, for weeks, and the after the time portal, I thought that it was time, that I could do it.

“And then I brought Marian back and suddenly you weren’t happy and in love any more, and everything just sort of came rushing back, because in the diner, when you realized what I’d done, the look on your face… It was the same one as when I broke the curse. And I realized, then, that you weren’t upset because the curse broke, but because… because you knew you were going to lose me, like you’d lost Robin.”

“And then I… I knew that I’d just been fooling myself, that I was still so, so in love with you. But I’d wrecked your relationship, I fucked it all up, and I’d been such a bitch to you, and I thought… I thought that you’d hate me, and I didn’t want to see that in your eyes. So I thought if I just took a few days, that I could be okay with it again, but I couldn’t, and I just needed to see you, but I kept putting it off, so I had a few drinks, just to calm my nerves and well… Here I am.”

Regina’s frozen, mind blank, and she’s pretty sure that she’s still crying, and Emma is looking at her like… Like she expects to be outright rejected, like she’s waiting for Regina to grab her arm and shove her out the door, and her heart aches in her chest, because she loves this woman, this stupid, idiotic woman, who still wants her, after everything that she’s done, all the horrors that she’s committed, and that’s… probably the most amazing thing in the world.

“You can say something now.” Emma prompts, and she looks so worried, and it’s endearing, in a way, that, she can be so insecure.

“I love you, too.” It’s the only thing she can think of, to try and get across the gravity of her feelings, but words will never be enough, not when it comes to Emma Swan. And then Emma’s reaching for her, dragging Regina into her arms, and they’re kissing as though their lives depend on it, as though they’ll never be able to get enough.

Emma’s fingers wrestle with the knot of Regina’s robes at her waist, hands hurriedly pushing it from her shoulders as she shifts and pushes the brunette against the wall behind them, and Regina groans as the blonde’s hands wrap around her upper thighs and lift her effortlessly. Regina’s legs wrap around her waist, hands burying themselves in blonde hair as Emma squeezes her ass and slides her tongue, hot and wet, into the brunette’s mouth, and God, Regina’s so wet already, because it’s been so long since they’ve been together, and she craves it, needs it, more than anything else she’s ever wanted in her life.

She doesn’t want it like this though, pressed against the back of the staircase in her foyer. All of their times before had been rough and fast and desperate, and she wanted this to be different, because she loves this woman, a crushing, all-consuming kind of love, and she needs her to know that, to show her that, and she can't do that like this.

“I want you upstairs,” she breathes when Emma’s mouth starts a blazing trail of kisses down the side of her neck. “In my – God.” She groans as Emma’s teeth close around her pulse point, hard enough to leave a mark, and she would have never in a million years allowed that before, but now she wants it, wants to be marked by this woman, wants the whole world to know that she’s hers. “In my bed.”

Emma doesn’t answer her, but she does push them off the wall and start off towards the stairs as their lips connect once more, but she has to drop Regina to the floor when they reach the first step to avoid them crashing to the ground.

The brunette takes the blonde’s hand and all but drags her up the stairs, impatient, and as soon as they’re on the landing Emma is shoving her against the nearest wall again, and normally Regina wouldn’t protest – there’s just something about getting fucked standing up, with a hard surface against her back, that’s always turned her on.

But she ducks away from Emma’s mouth as the blonde moves to press her lips to Regina’s again, and plants her hands on Emma’s shoulders, steering her towards Regina’s bedroom. As soon as they’re inside she’s yanking at her clothes, because she needs Emma now.

Emma’s eyes watch her every move, dark and hungry, as Regina stalks over to her, now sans any clothing at all, and her hands immediately reach for the blonde’s belt, undoing it with deliberate slowness. Her thumbs hook into the pockets of Emma’s jeans, and she drags them down her legs after the blonde kicks off her boots, sinking to her knees and then pulling off the blonde’s underwear, too.

Emma’s hands fist in her hair when she throws one long leg over her shoulder and presses her face to the blonde’s slit, swiping her tongue along the length of her twice before flicking against her clit, and she feels Emma’s thighs shaking at the side of her head, her hands dragging her closer, and oh, she’s missed this.

One of her hands runs up one of the blonde’s thighs, nails dragging against her skin, and her fingers dig into Emma’s ass, pressing her closer as she bucks against her face. Her other hand slides down her own body to slide through her own wetness, because she needs some kind of relief from the building ache between her legs, and she groans against Emma as her fingers find her clit, and she hears the blonde mutter a curse from above her at the feeling, and she’s so, so close already, because this is what Emma does to her, what Emma’s always done to her. And then the blonde’s hands are tugging at her hair, forcing her head back, and she glances up at Emma, confused.

“Come up here,” the blonde breathes, and when Regina stands she drags her over to the bed, pushing the brunette down onto it before straddling her hips, kissing her so hard that it steals the breath from Regina’s lungs. “I want to see you,” she murmurs by way of explanation for making Regina stop, as she slips her hands between their bodies.

Regina follows suit, gasping out a breath when Emma’s fingers dip inside her teasingly, before pulling away and rubbing lightly across her clit. The blonde’s forehead rests against Regina’s, and the brunette can feel her every breath puffing against her lips.

Impatient with Emma’s teasing, she drives two of her fingers into the blonde suddenly, curling them, her thumb pressing against her clit, and she watches Emma’s eyes slam shut, her lips parting and a strangled noise leaving the back of her throat.

“I love you,” she breathes out as Emma mimics her, her back arching upwards as the blonde’s other hand moves to her breasts, thumb circling a nipple. They move in a rhythm together, and Regina drags Emma’s mouth back against hers, kissing her soundly and quieting the sound of both their moans as they race towards the edge together.

She feels herself get there before Emma, tries to hold on as she presses harder into the blonde, but she can’t, and she comes with a gasp of Emma’s name against the blonde lips, and she feels Emma grind down more desperately against her fingers until she’s coming too, clenching around Regina’s fingers and then collapsing on top of her, burying her head into the crook of the brunette’s shoulder and pulling her hand from between them.

Regina does the same, her arms wrapping around the blonde’s back as they catch their breath, and all she can hear is the pounding of her heart in her ears. She doesn’t want to move, doesn’t want to ruin the moment, because part of her is terrified that Emma is going to leave her again, that this was just… the blonde getting things out of her system.

“I can practically hear you thinking, you know.” Emma’s voice is muffled, her mouth pressed against Regina’s neck. “Stop it.”

“Sorry, I’m just –”

“Scared that I’m going to leave,” Emma finishes, and it’s amazing, really, how, despite the walls that Regina builds around herself, the blonde can read her so easily. “But I’m not going anywhere, believe me – I’m nowhere near finished with you yet.”

x-x-x

The first person to find out about them is Snow, and it’s not in a way that Emma would have ever wanted it to happen.

It’s been one month since she’d dragged her ass over to Regina’s place and they’d reunited (many, many times), and ever since they’ve carried on seeing each other, but behind closed doors, just for a little while, until they’re ready for others to know.

Their primary worry is Henry, but Emma’s pretty sure that he’ll be okay with it so long as they’re both happy, and they are, and people are starting to notice, too – she’d made a conscious effort, to force herself to act like she was okay, when in public, during those awful months after the curse had broken, but apparently she hadn't completely succeeded, because people had noticed a change in her demeanor ever since she and Regina had gotten together.

It’s difficult, to find time to be together, with both their jobs (Regina was back as Mayor, now, because no-one else had volunteered to take the position, and she knew what she was doing), and with shuffling Henry between them.

But on that day, Emma waves her father home from the station early, because it’s been a slow day and all Emma has to do is finish up on some paperwork, to let him spend some time with his wife and son. And then as soon as she’s done with her paperwork she sends Regina a text, because Henry stays late at school on Thursdays, and it’s been a few days since she’s seen Regina and she’s just really, really horny all the time now.

Regina gets there in record time, shoving Emma back on her desk pretty much as soon as she’s through the door, stepping between her legs, kissing her hard as her hands slide under Emma’s shirt, fingers dragging teasingly across her skin.

“I missed you,” Emma says when Regina pulls back in order to yank the blonde jeans down to her knees, because they don’t really have much time and they have to snatch whatever opportunities they get, lately. “A lot.”

“I missed you, too,” Regina breathes into her ear, before her tongue trails down the side of Emma’s neck, and her hand starts to rub the blonde lightly through her underwear, and it’s really kind of ridiculous, how much Regina turns her on.

“And I need you.”

“Patience.” Regina’s mouth is at the base of her neck, now, her lips tracing across the blonde’s collarbone, and Emma whines a little when the brunette pulls back, titling her head to one side. “Did you hear that?”

“It was probably nothing, this building is ancient, it’s always making noises,” the blonde says hastily, because she is absolutely not prepared for the brunette to pull away. “Now come here.” She tugs Regina’s mouth back against hers, her hips moving impatient against the brunette’s hand, still teasing her – and then she hears the distinct noise of a nearby door opening, followed by a squeak of horror.

Regina tears herself away, and Emma leaps down from the desk, pulling up her jeans as she goes, a flush spreading across her cheeks because this is embarrassing. And then her embarrassment turns into complete and utter mortification, because she knows the woman standing with her back to them as she takes deep, calming breaths, and that is her mother, and oh, fuck, this is very, very bad.

“Have you ever heard of knocking?” Regina snaps, but there’s a devilish smirk on her face and Emma has no doubt that she’s absolutely delighted to make Snow this uncomfortable, and the blonde nudges the brunette with her shoulder.

“Don’t,” she whispers, under her breath. “Mom?” She asks tentatively, and the woman in question turns around, her face red, and she’s unable to look Emma in the eye.

“This… This has been going on for a while, hasn’t it?” Emma’s surprised by the question, by her mother being that observant, but she supposes that the other woman knows Regina, after having lived with her for a time, has probably noticed a change in the way they interact with one another.

“It’s… complicated,” Emma answers, because it is, and they still haven’t really defined what’s going on between them – it just seems like an odd concept, to think of Regina as her girlfriend, when she feels like so much more. “But yeah, I guess.”

“Okay,” she says, after taking a deep breath, and Emma watches Regina’s eyebrows almost climb into her hairline, clearly surprised. “Okay. That’s… I’m happy for you.”

“You are?” Regina asks, frowning now, and Snow is still unable to look at them, choosing instead to stare resolutely at the floor.

“I… Yes. You’re practically family already, Regina.” She does look up, then, and there’s the ghost of a smile on her lips. “I’m just going to need to… Some time. To process this. And more time, to forget what I just saw.”

“O-okay.” Emma’s still amazed that her mother is apparently fine with this – she’d expected her to be, eventually, but not straight away, not considering the past that she and Regina share.

“I’ll see you for dinner tonight, still?” Emma nods, too stunned to really form words. “And Regina, you’re welcome to come, too.” She leaves, then, and Emma lets out a choked laugh as the door clicks shut behind her, because that was probably the most awkward moment of her entire life.

“Well, dear,” Regina says, the first to break the silence, a smirk still dancing on the edge of her lips. “It appears our secret is out. We need to tell Henry, before she blabs to the entire town and he hears it from someone else.

“She wouldn’t do that,” Emma quickly reassures, the other woman, but Regina merely arches an eyebrow, disbelieving.

“Are you forgetting her track record with secrets?”

“…Good point.”