Being good is absolutely overrated. Regina sighed and tried to concentrate harder. This was not how she was hoping to spend her evening. As a matter of fact this was not how she was hoping to spend any of the last several weeks. Ever since the insipid savior returned from the past with one woman who could guarantee the end of Regina’s hard won happiness the only thing Regina wanted was to be as far away from everybody, especially Emma. However, the way things in Storybrooke usually go, that was not in her cards. Elsa, a.k.a. the ice queen showed up, and after realizing she was once again not home, she was none too happy about being stuck in this realm. She wasn’t evil, but she wasn’t able to control her powers here, no matter how much love she tried to channel, so if they didn’t figure out a way to get her back home, well, the winter was coming to stay. As in, freezing, you can’t live there anymore kind of winter. After several failed attempts they were left with one option. The option Gold kept for worst case scenario. They could open a portal, but it would take combining two of the strongest good magic sources in Storybrooke. To Regina’s great dismay, without fairy dust around, those were hers and Emma’s. She knew playing a hero would come back to bite her in the behind.
So here they were. Standing above that damned well, holding hands and staring into each other’s eyes, chanting what sounded like gibberish to her. Gibberish Gold swore was an incantation in an ancient language which was crucial to the success of this; proven by the fact that he made them both memorize it, and repeat it to him several times before allowing for the spell casting to start. The spell casting witnessed by half of Storybrooke, as it seemed, including Robin. Another person she was trying really hard to avoid. But she wasn’t really focusing on Robin this minute. They were nearing the end of the incantation, and the intensity of her and Emma’s gaze started to make Regina uncomfortable, so much so that she had to fight not to look away. Their joint hands were radiating heat; a heat which caused a stirring in her chest, making Regina feel things she really didn’t want to associate with Emma in any way. Judging by the slightly panicked look they shared, Emma was having similar thoughts. The moment they were done reciting a burst of light shut out from both of them, combining above their heads and shining bright enough to change the night into day for a few moments, then pooling slowly around Elsa, as it started to pull her in. The ice queen mouthed a thank you as she disappeared and the portal immediately closed behind her. As the ice and snow started to subside immediately, everybody watching burst out in cheers.
Regina and Emma were still holding hands, and as the crowed sounded they raced at which one would be the first one to drop the other’s hands, and act more nonchalant about it. Hook quickly passed the distance between them and went to hug Emma, but as he touched her he got hit by an electric shock, resulting in him being flung back and ending unceremoniously on his butt five feet away from her. Everybody got quiet for a moment, and then Snow ran to Emma, touching her cautiously, before visibly relaxing as there was no adverse reaction to it. Hook got up and dusted his pants, walking slowly towards Emma, this time only extending a finger towards her, pulling it back immediately as he felt a surge of electricity upon contact. Regina observed the scene with barely disguised amusement, until she noticed Robin walking towards her, his hand automatically going out to set protectively on her forearm. Before she had a chance to move away or say something, she felt a strange tingling feeling in her arm, and Robin’s hand was flung away from her.
Emma was the first to break the confused silence and turn to Gold demanding some answers, “What the hell is happening?”
“Well, there might be one tiny detail I forgot to mention before we started this little escapade.”
Regina scoffed “You forgetting to mention the fine print, Gold? I am positively shocked.”
“Well to be completely honest dearies, we all knew this was our only option and had I mentioned this little detail I’m really not sure that the two of you would’ve gone through with it.”
Regina sighed at his theatricality, tired and just really, really wanting to go home and be done with the whole mess. “Can you just tell us what this is all about so we can find a way out of it and move on?”
“Always so impatient,” Gold snickered, and then continued “To get enough power from the ceremony you just performed - and yes before you interrupt me it was a ceremony - we had to do more than just combine your magic for a short spell. We needed to create a magic source strong enough to travel several realms at once, and for that my lovelies we needed to make this merger a little bit more permanent.”
Regina took a step closer to Gold, feeling all the blood drain from her face. “What do you mean more permanent?”
“I mean congratulations, you are now married permanent.”
Regina and Emma gasped in unison “We are what?!”
“You were married by magic, my lovelies. It is an old ceremony, and it has been performed very few times, for the conditions needed for it are rather rare. Do you have any idea how often two sources of light magic as strong as yours have been in existence at the same place at the same time?” Regina tried to interrupt, but Gold continued over her protests “I know, I know, yours was a dark magic, but not anymore. Your magic was bound by the vows you recited, but so were you. That is why your beaus were thrown away from you. Any kind of romantic attention coming from anybody outside your little union is sensed and automatically blocked. What can I say, white magic does not like to share.”
Two aghast faces were the only response he got.
“Oh, don’t seem so distraught, both of you could do a lot worse,” Gold snickered, looking pointedly at Hook and Robin.
“Gold, I am going to throttle you so hard…” Emma, started, but Regina cut in, her voice shaky but determined “How do we undo it? There has got to be a way. There is always a way.”
“If you are hoping for a quick annulment, I am afraid this is not how it works. The only way to dissolve a magic union such as this is to prove that there is enough negative energy between the two of you to override the positive. Only that can prove that you two do not make the magic match we just made.”
Regina and Emma looked at each other, then back at Gold, neither liking where this was going one bit.
“Oh come on ladies don’t look so sour. Knowing you two it might take a mare couple of weeks of living together to dissolve even a bond this strong.”
“Couple of weeks?! No.” Regina fumed, not willing to be cornered into spending time with one person she didn’t want to see ever again. “What if we just stay away from each other? Shouldn’t that be enough of a sign?”
“Not really. Your magic will be highly unpredictable. No matter how much you want to stay apart, it will pull you together, especially at the start. Later on you’ll be able to separate for work and after that for even longer periods, but for the first couple of days? I’m afraid you are stuck together.”
No, no, no Regina thought, this is not happening. She hated Emma, she never wanted to see her again, and she certainly never wanted to think about that strange pull she felt when they were opening the portal. Getting stuck with her was not an option. “Okay what if we get into a physical fight, right now right here? If we start hitting each other should that not be enough?”
Emma looked at her with horror “Regina!”
“Miss Swan, I will not be tethered to you for one minute much less weeks if I can avoid it at any cost.”
“I don’t care Regina, I’m not fighting you!”
“It would hardly be the first time. But don’t worry; I have no problems with being the only one doing the fighting.” She was getting out of this right now, the hurt look on Emma’s face doing strange things to her resolve be damned.
“As titillating as that idea might seem to some, I’m sorry to inform you Regina that it would not work. The same magic which prevents from anybody else touching you in a sexual manner is preventing the two of you from hurting each other. You can sure try if you don’t believe me.”
Emma decided to stop this before Regina came up with a brilliant idea of having her killed off. She couldn’t understand why the older woman’s complete disgust at the idea of them working through this together hurt her as much, considering that she wasn’t really looking forward to it either, but she wasn’t going to concentrate on that right now. “Look Regina, I know how much you must hate me right now. I know how much you don’t want to do this. But we don’t have any choice, at least not a reasonable one. Please…”
Regina took a deep breath, willing her nerves to calm down. Yes, it seemed she was out of options, aside from the one she really didn’t want to consider. She had to though, and she knew that the sooner she accepted it, the sooner she could be working towards ending this latest nightmare.
“What about Henry?” She, asked, finally resigned to her fate. “I do not plan to subject him to us being -”
Snow jumped in, more than happy to help alleviate the situation at least a bit. “We’ll take Henry with us. We can bring him over every day for lunch or dinner with the two of you, I am sure you can be civil to each other for that long?”
Turning to her son, Regina asked. “Is that okay with you, Henry?”
“Sure, mom, if that’ll help you. Just…just TRY not to hurt each other intentionally, okay?”
Emma and Regina exchanged a look, finally realizing that this whole scene took place in front of their son, who seemed really frightened at the prospect of the two of them together in enclosed space after that little scene.
Regina approached him and hugged him quickly. “Don’t worry sweetie, this was just…it’s a lot to take in, so I might have reacted a bit strongly. I promise we’ll be okay. And you know what Gold said, even if I wanted to turn Emma into a frog after she surely deserves it, the magic won’t let me” she added with a little wink, hoping to break the tension. It seemed to work since Henry visibly relaxed, and after hugging Emma, walked over to Snow and David.
Emma looked at Gold and Regina, not sure how to act. “Okay, so now what?”
“Now, Miss Swan, we go home. My home, I am not sleeping in a commune of Charmings, even if that was the only way to stop an apocalypse. Say goodbye to your boyfriend and meet me at my car, Snow and David can take your deathtrap back, and bring some of your stuff tomorrow. I have all the basics you’ll need tonight.” With that Regina turned around and started marching towards her car. “And hurry it up; I’d like to get some sleep sometime tonight.” Regina noticed Robin walking towards her, obviously intent on discussing something, but she pointedly turned away from him and continued walking. This was going to be a long night, and if she managed to get through it without turning back into the Evil Queen, she’ll know she was truly the hero her son thought her to be.
“Mr. Gold, wait, please.”
“This magic, it can’t be tricked, can it? It can’t marry just anybody?”
Gold looked at his grandson, marveling again at what a smart kid he was. Not one of the adults noticed the most important thing. He shook his head to indicate that no, it can’t be tricked.
“How did you know it would work?”
“I didn’t, honestly. But it was our only chance. And there is enough history between your mothers for there to have been a chance.”
Henry nodded thoughtfully. “Thanks, Mr. Gold.” With that he turned back to run to Snow and David, a small smile gracing his lips. This could be either the best or the worst thing that ever happened to his mothers. And he was pretty sure that they were owed a happy ending by now.
They drove in silence for what seemed like forever to Emma. This is going to be fun, she thought, stealing a sideway glance at the woman driving the car. Regina’s back was stiff and there were stress lines clearly visible on her face, even if she tried to appear unaffected. This whole situation was one big mess, and she could only imagine how it affected the other woman after…well, after Emma managed to take away her happiness from her, once again. She shook her head a bit, as if trying to physically remove those thoughts from her mind. I saved a woman’s life. I had no other choice… Still, that did not help ease the feeling of guilt that still plagued her every time she thought about the consequences, and the woman paying for her decision.
Deciding to try and be the one to break the ice, Emma turned to the Mayor. “Regina…”
“Miss Swan, I have agreed to this, but that does not mean I am ready to interact with you just yet. Actually, I don’t see why there has to be any talking. From the way I see it, if we don’t talk, we make it clear this was not meant to be.”
Well, I didn’t expect this to be easy, Emma thought, and continued “I am not sure that is how this will work.”
“Tonight it will have to.”
There was no room for debate in Regina’s tone, and rather than antagonize the older woman more, Emma decided to leave it be for the evening. “Okay.”
They drove a few moments in silence when Regina’s angry voice got Emma out of her thoughts. “What exactly do you think you are doing?”
Confused, she looked over, not sure what the Mayor was referring to. “Hmm?”
“Why is your hand on my thigh?”
Emma looked down, mortified. She pulled her hand back like it was burning, and forcefully settled it into her own lap. “I am sorry! Believe me that was not my idea.”
“Oh, for crying out loud, do you honestly think I would use this as an excuse to, what, cop a feel?”
Regina ignored her, deciding that not dignifying it with an answer was the best.
After a few moments, it was Emma who broke the silence again. “Regina…”
With an exasperated sigh, Regina turned slightly to Emma, her face a picture of annoyance. “I thought we have agreed not to talk.”
Emma’s face looked a bit smug as she said “I thought we also agreed to no touching. So if you’d kindly let go of my hand…”
Regina swerved a bit as she pulled her hand back, then pulled over as the first opportunity presented itself.
“Sit in the back.”
“Get out of the car and sit in back. Apparently good old Rumple forgot to tell us about some additional side effects of this spell, or ceremony, or whatever it is. And I don’t plan to get accidentally groped if I can avoid it.”
“Hey, you were touching me this time!”
“Just move back, please.”
That was said in such a defeated tone that Emma didn’t have heart to argue with her anymore, she just unbuckled her seatbelt and switched the seat. As they continued the drive, Emma was looking out at the city, wondering if this sudden desire to comfort Regina, take the hurt away from her was a direct result of the spell, and if she should be really worried about the next few days…
Settling in went easier than either woman expected, mostly because they made sure to stay as far apart as much as possible. Without any more incidents, and she was determined to ignore the lingering touch when Regina handed her a toothbrush and sleepwear, or the warmth she felt gather in the pit of her stomach when she saw Regina in her nightgown, Emma was relieved and thrilled to finally be in a bed, ready to leave the stress of the past few weeks behind her. She was certain that she was tired enough, physically and mentally, she’d fall asleep as soon as her head hit the pillow. Unfortunately, the sleep proved more elusive than expected. After two hours of tossing and turning, and hearing Regina walk around to the kitchen and back twice now, she started to figure out why. Perfect. Just perfect, she thought. She realized that if either of them were to get any sleep on their “magical wedding night”, they’d have to bite the bullet and sleep closer together. She wasn’t sure how much closer, but separate rooms were obviously not working. She got up and made her way to brunette’s door, taking a few moments to gather her courage and finally knock.
Emma sighed, and bowing to the fate, walked in. “Hey.”
Regina just continued to stare at her, so she quickly continued before she found herself out on her ass. “I wouldn’t have knocked if I hadn’t heard you moving. I can’t fall asleep and I am exhausted, and I am sure you are as well. And judging by what has happened so far since we got m…since the ceremony, it’s logical to conclude that our insomnia is more of the magical kind.”
She was certain Regina was being intentionally obtuse just to torture her, but she continued. “I think that we are too far apart for us to be able to sleep. And we are both so tired that-”
Regina cut her off, not leaving any room for disagreement. “I don’t care how tired either of us is, you are not sleeping in my bed!”
Torn between another fight and a sleepless night, Emma started to say something but then changed her mind and turned to leave, when Regina continuing halted her mid step. “If you want to sleep here, you can either take the sofa or the floor, your choice”.
Emma sighed, but nodded her head. She went back to the guest bedroom and grabbed a pillow and a couple of blankets, and walked back in. She placed one blanket on the floor, and set herself down on top of it, groaning as she made contact with the hard surface.
After a few minutes, Regina looked down at the famed savior, obviously very uncomfortable laying on the floor. Part of her wanted to leave her there, to enjoy every painful turn. But another part of her, the part she hated herself for, didn’t want to see Emma in pain. Before the Marian incident they were just starting to become… not exactly friends, but something more complicated. With their history and Henry in the mix, their relationship has evolved over the years into an unusual acceptance, the ability to understand each other better that anybody else could understand them. They trusted each other, finally. And then she had to go and ruin it all by being heroic once again, consequences be damned. Just like her mother. Regina was pulled from her thoughts by another grunt from the blond as she tried to turn on the hard surface. Nowhere near sleep herself, Regina finally gave in.
“Oh, for crying… Just get in the bed. But make sure to stay on your side.”
Regina woke up with blond hair obscuring her view, and a weight pressing her down. She tried to assess her situation, and realized Emma was laying on top of her, quite literally, one of her hands cupping Regina’s left breast rather possessively. She was just about to yell at the woman for taking liberties, but then she realized that her right hand was in Emma’s pajama bottoms, holding her behind like her life depended on it. She tried to slowly extricate herself from the position, but Emma was apparently a light sleeper, and as soon as she moved, two green eyes opened and focused on her. It took two seconds for her to realize the position they were in, and to jump in panic from the bed, managing to topple over and hit her head on the nightstand.
Regina looked at the clumsy mess that was trying to get up from her floor, shaking her head in disbelief. “How in the world did you ever manage to defeat me? I truly must have been losing my touch long before you showed up.”
Not enjoying being mocked, and in not a little pain, Emma snapped back. “Hey! It was your hand on my ass, lady!”
“Yes, and your hand was cupping my breast, and you didn’t see me try an acrobatic move obviously beyond my abilities to get away.”
“Yes, well…wait, why didn’t you?”
Emma could have sworn the older woman blushed a little bit before scoffing and answering “Because I am not a thirteen year old, dear, and I tend to assess my situation before reacting. It was obviously an unconscious reaction on both our parts, and I was about to transport myse-”
She was going to continue, but she noticed a small trail of blood making its way down Emma’s forehead. She crossed the distance and moved a strand of blonde hair to discover a small cut. Emma shifted uncomfortably, the proximity of the older woman making her rather nervous. “What? Is it bad?”
“No, Miss Swan, to my great sorrow it is not life threatening. But it will need cleaning and a band aid. Sit on the bed and don’t move, I’ll be right back.” Her voice brooked no disagreement, and Emma did as told while trying to see her reflection and assess the damage herself.
Regina returned with a first aid kit, and taking the contents out on the bed, she poured some alcohol on the cotton ball she then wiped several times over the cut. Emma flinched and pulled her head back automatically.
Emma watched in confusion and fascination as Regina leaned over and gently blew air over the cut. She tried hard to suppress the shudder she felt. It’s just the magic, she though. The magic is making me think about her lips, and how much I’d like to run my tongue over that little scar… She wasn’t as successful at hiding a shudder when those lips moved and Regina asked from far too close for comfort considering her thoughts, “Better?”
“Yes, better.” Emma answered, cursing the traitor of her voice which had a definite and, judging by Regina’s smirk, very audible squeak to it.
The brunette took a small band aid and gently pressed it on the wound, smoothing the corners for a moment longer before pulling back, admiring her handiwork. “There. You’ll be as good as new.”
Emma just nodded her head and with a quick thanks she nearly ran out of the room, leaving a somewhat confused Regina looking after her.
Breakfast was a simple and silent affair for the most part. There seemed to be an unspoken agreement to just pretend that nothing happened that morning, and that made for a more relaxed atmosphere. Actually, as Emma thought, it was really kind of nice. Breakfast has been a bit hectic since Neal was born, and while she loved her family, sitting here with Regina was comfortable and cozy and she couldn’t get herself to feel guilty for not missing the crowd and racket.
Finishing her cereal, Emma was the first to speak. “I need to get to work for half an hour at least; I have a few things I have to finish up. That should be okay, I’d think.”
She looked at the Mayor for an answer, and the brunet just nodded her head. Emma realized that if they were going to get through this, there was one thing they needed to get out in the open, and it had to be discussed sooner rather than later.
“Look, Regina, I wanted to say… About Marian…”
“Not now, Miss Swan.”
“But I really want to-“
“I don’t care what you do or don’t want! I will not be bullied into listening a weak and insincere apology because I have no other choice.”
Emma sighed, but acquiesced to Regina’s request. She was feeling like they were making a step forward until this moment, and in the name of peace in the house, and frankly, her own health – after all, they were sleeping in the same bed – she decided to let it go for now.
“Okay, so I’m off to work, and I’ll see you back here after?” Emma was about to get up, before remembering how she got to Regina’s. “Oh, do you mind if I take your car? My folks have the Beetle, and I am not sure Snow could drive it here with Neal in tow.”
Regina looked at her for a moment, her first automatic reaction to say no, but then she realized that finding an alternative could take time, and judging by the tension in her muscles she really, really needed to draw herself a bath and relax as soon as possible. Sacrificing her car for a chance to get the blonde out of the house as soon as possible seemed like the best option, so she nodded her head in agreement.
“Maybe we can try and do some more research on this when I get back, beat some information out of Gold?”
At that Emma was rewarded with the first genuine smile from Regina in a long time, and she refused to question the warmth she felt at the fact that she was responsible for it.
“That sounds fine.”
Emma grabbed her jacket, and quickly leaned over to give Regina a quick peck on the lips before leaving for work. It took both woman a few seconds to realize what just happened.
Adjusting the seat a bit back, Emma took a deep breath and grabbed the wheel, taking a few moments to lean back and compose herself. It wasn’t the kiss, or a peck to be more precise, that bothered her. That was the magic pulling them together, which was unavoidable. It was the familiarity, and easiness of it. She never felt like this around Hook. This feeling that finally, finally she was where she could belong, it was never there when she was around the pirate. She liked him, cared about him, but to her, it was always something that was right there, in the moment, without any conscious thought about the future. And she wasn’t sure she could blame this on the spell, if she was being honest. This wasn’t exactly the first time she felt like this around Regina, she just chose to ignore it, or justify it with something relating to Henry every time. It was unsettling for more than one reason, Regina hating her being probably the strongest one. Starting the car she took one more look towards the house, and drove off.
Five minutes later and still lost in her thoughts, Emma glanced to the side to see that she was driving by 108 Mifflin Street. What the hell? she thought, confused at how she managed to drive around and back without even noticing it. Determined not to repeat the same mistake and concentrating fully on her driving, she started towards the sheriff’s office again. And five minutes in, once again she was in front of the Mayor’s house. Now thoroughly annoyed, she parked the car and slammed the door on it as she walked back towards the house.
This is ridiculous, she thought as she marched inside the house, irrationally mad at Regina for not being able to do this one simple thing. Not finding her downstairs, and determined to confront her with…she didn’t even know with what, but itching to pick a fight, she quickly made her way upstairs and knocked on the door of Regina’s bedroom. “Regina, we need to talk!”
A few muffled sounds came from inside, before she finally heard “Enter.”
As she walked in she was prepared to give a salvo of reasons why this was the worst nightmare they could have ended up in and why this was all Regina’s fault and... Every word died on her lips before she could get it out. Regina was standing in the doorway of her bathroom, completely naked. As in, not a stich of clothing, no towel to cover her, no sign of modesty, nothing. Just a naked Regina, dripping water on the carpet and looking at her as if waiting for something. And damn her, but Emma could not look away. Not from the curves of her breasts, not from the smoothness of her stomach, and lower from the juncture of her…
“Miss Swan, what was it?”
That got Emma’s attention, and she snapped her eyes back to Regina’s. “Ummm, Regina, are you aware that you are standing there in your birthday suit?”
Regina blinked a few times, trying to understand her words, and as comprehension finally downed on her out came the undignified squeak as she ran back into the bathroom and slammed the door.
Emma just stood there for a few moments, all anger drained from her, replaced by other, no less disturbing emotions. This was getting out of hand. Really, seriously out of hand.
Regina found Emma downstairs, in the dining room, holding a cup of what looked like hot cocoa and staring out of the window. She wanted to yell at the other woman for being here and not at work as she said, for disturbing her well-deserved rest, for making her accidentally expose herself, but she couldn’t. She realized that the reason Emma was here probably had a lot to do with the same reason she just got out of the tub and walked out to great her without even reaching for a towel – something she would never, ever do if just for her carpet - when the blonde knocked on her door. The reason which was out of both of their control – their magic marriage. It would be funny if it wasn’t this deeply disturbing.
“Should I ask why you are back here, or can I guess?”
Emma turned to her, looking very lost at the moment. “You can guess. I tried to drive to the office, but I kept coming back here.” She paused for a moment. “I am sorry I interrupted you, I know you wanted some alone time. I was angry; I don’t do so well with the loss of control and I just needed to...I don’t know, yell at somebody?”
Regina nodded in understanding. “It’s okay. Trust me, it is, I was right there a few minutes ago. And while on the subject, I am sorry I flashed you.”
Regina noticed a small blush spreading on savior’s face as the blond waved it off with her hand. “No big deal, I am sure we’ll both know each other much better than we want to by the end of this thing.”
Emma put down her cup before continuing. “I tried calling Gold while you were dressing, but he is not answering his phone. We could go and try to locate him, or wait for him to listen to my voice mail and decide to find us himself. I might have threatened his limbs a little.” Regina smiled a bit at that, noticing the blonde perking up at it before continuing. “I thought we could go to the library together, and see if we can find anything to shed some more light on what is going on?”
Regina nodded, glad to leave the house for a bit. “We are stuck together for the next few days at least, I guess we best use it productively.”
The trip to the library proved fruitless, and not having heard from Gold they decided to go back home and prepare for the dinner with Henry. Regina wanted to make sure she’d make a better impression than at the well, and got to making one of his favorite meals, lasagna. Emma wanted to help, but after one raised eyebrow from Regina, she just lifted her hands in surrender and retired to the living room for the time being. The time passed in comfortable silence until Henry followed by Snow walked in.
“Mom, Ma, hey!”
He ran to hug first one, than the other of his mothers, obviously happy to see them both intact.
“So, how is it going?”
“It’s going well, dear” Regina responded, ruffling his hair. “Emma has been behaving for a change, so we were able to get through the day without any hiccups.”
Emma rolled her eyes at the brunette, before muttering “Yeah, yeah, like he’d believe I’d be the problem.” The words were obviously said in jest, and instead of continuing in an argument, Regina just smiled and walked towards the kitchen. Henry observed the interaction with interest. He expected them to be at each other’s throats by now, it was the first day after all and even he couldn’t expect miracles, but they seemed to be actually getting along. Suddenly he realized that this was going to be much easier than he expected.
Dinner passed mostly focused on Henry and Neal. Snow, who adored her baby boy, was nonetheless happy to leave David in charge of the baby for a few hours of reprieve. When they were done with eating, Snow turned to Henry and asked “Henry, do you mind finding those old toys of yours you wanted to give Neal?”
As soon as he was out of earshot, Snow turned to the two women sitting next to each other. “I am not sure what is going on with the two of you, how the magic is affecting you, but I just wanted to let you know that if I noticed Regina’s hand going to your knee and yours to Regina’s thigh, most likely so did Henry.”
Two faces blushed a twin deep read as both women made sure to pull both their hands on the table and start explaining, in tandem.
“No, no, you don’t have to explain. I know this has something to do with your magic, and this whole marriage thing, but…look, Henry might have gotten an idea out of all of this, and I don’t think you are helping.
“He seems under the impression that this might have been the exact thing you two needed to…”
Snow paused searching for words, and Emma, not really understanding looked first at Regina and then back to Snow before asking “Needed to what?”
Knowing that the reaction to what she was about to say would not be pretty, Snow bit the bullet determined to sort this out before Henry returned. “For you two to realize you are in love with each other.”
After a few seconds of stunned silence, Regina was the first one to react. “Don’t be ridiculous, Snow. Emma and I were tentative friends at best, before she decided to play a hero at the cost of my happiness. Everybody knows this, especially Henry. He is too smart to imagine some non-existent feelings between his mothers.”
Snow nodded in understanding, but still continued. “Well, he approached me this morning, asking if I ever thought that the two of you might care about each other more than you were showing. First I thought he was asking if you’d be friends again, but no, he specifically corrected me and asked if I thought you two would make a good couple. I told him that I don’t think that was ever an option for you, but he seemed determined.”
Emma was finally able to break out of the stupor this information put her in. “I don’t even like women! I was never attracted to anybody but guys!” Emma decided to ignore the confused faces of Snow and Regina at her outburst, and the little voice inside her head which reminded her of the few incidents from the previous 24 hours which would beg to differ. That was magic, after all, nothing else. In a more controlled tone, she continued. “Plus, I am with Hook, and he knows it. And he likes the guy, a lot.”
Snow covered Emma’s hand with hers before continuing. “Yes, but you know your son, if there is one thing he believes in above all else it’s magic. And he told me that magic put you together for a reason.”
Before more denials were possible they heard Henry’s footsteps coming down the steps, and Snow leaned in to whisper. “Look, I just wanted to let you know about it, so that you can watch out how you act around him, don’t get his hopes up. He’ll get over it after your marriage is dissolved, he’s always been a show, don’t tell kind of kid.”
As Henry joined them again, the conversation steered to safer subjects, leaving the two women to try really hard not to think about what was just said, and what it could mean for either of them.
The next several days passed surprisingly well. They had an unspoken truce, and apart from an occasional unconscious touch (especially during the night) and an incident which involved feeding each other ice-cream just to try the other’s flavor – something both will deny ever happened - they were mostly cohabitating without many issues. What they didn’t do was talk about what Snow told them. The first time Emma tried to mention it after Snow and Henry left after dinner Regina just dismissed it as a non-issue which would resolve itself, and Emma was happy to follow suit.
As they were getting ready to leave for their lunch date with Henry, Emma looked up at Regina as she was descending the steps to the foyer. She realized watching Regina has become her new hobby, the one she was enjoying more and more. She started to notice things about the older woman; how she used her hands more when she was stressed, or how she’d get that special smile which lit up her entire face and made it seem infinitely softer when she was talking to Henry…and even once or twice with her. She recognized the black dress the brunette wore and smiled, thinking that there was definitely a reason black was Regina’s color.
Regina returned her smile and passed by her to grab her coat, but then paused, turning back to Emma. “If you want to see Hook, you can call him and tell him to join us at Granny’s. I’ll be close and that might mitigate the electrocuting effect a bit. Not that I don’t think he deserves a good whipping, but…”
Not expecting that, it took Emma a few moments to respond. “Thanks, but that’s okay.”
“Look, I really don’t mind. It’s been a week since we got stuck together, and truthfully, if I were in your shoes I would not be as patient as you have been. “
“Okay, if you really don’t mind…” Emma said as she grabbed her phone, feeling exceedingly guilty and confused. The truth was, she didn’t even think about the pirate for the past week. Well, that was not the complete truth, she did think about him, but only in the sense of comparing him and Regina, and never too favorably for him. Hearing his voice didn’t help much, since it took a bit to even manage and concentrate on him with Regina standing so close to her. When she was done with the call her guilt just multiplied considering his eagerness and happiness that he’ll get to see her. She wanted to be as excited as he was, she really did. She tried to will herself into it, but one look at the brunette and she knew she was in trouble. Not really looking forward to their outing anymore, Emma sighed and turned to follow Regina to the car.
Once at Grannie’s Regina’s arms were immediately filled with a thirteen year old obviously very happy to see her. Regina felt her heart grow, remembering how she craved his hugs in past years, and how she thought she’d never again have this. It was enough, she thought, enough for her. If this is all the happiness she gets, it is enough, and more than somebody with her history deserved. They settled at their table when Regina noticed another family sitting two tables away from them. Robin was wiping some ketchup off Roland’s face while Marian looked at them with love. She expected the usual pang of hurt, loss, disappointment…and she was shocked to realize they were all absent.
Before she had time to think about that fact, she felt Emma’s hand on hers as the blonde followed her gaze. “I’m so sorry, I didn’t know they’d be here.”
Regina nodded, but for once didn’t pull her hand back. It felt good, and surprisingly right, the three of them sitting here like a family. She pretended not to see the happy smirk Henry got when he noticed their move. There’d be time for thinking later, she just wanted to enjoy the moment for once. To her great annoyance, the moment was broken when Hook walked in and immediately made his way to them. With an apologetic look Emma got up to meet the pirate near the counter.
With Emma away Regina focused her attention on Henry, but couldn’t help an occasional glance at the pair. She was annoyed that seeing them together didn’t cause just the usual irritation at the sight of the pirate. No, there was so much more there. She hated the way he hovered around Swan, like he was trying to mark his territory without actually touching her. And when Emma smiled at something he said, she felt a tug at her insides and the need to just walk over and pull her away. Everything she was feeling the moment Marian showed up that fateful day, everything she expected to feel when she saw Robin with his wife today was finally there. Only not for the man, but for Emma. Suddenly feeling like she was suffocating, Regina had to get out of there. She made a quick excuse to Henry and hastily made her way out of the dinner.
Leaning on the wall outside of Granny’s she tried to compose herself and sort her emotions, but before she could do any of that Emma showed up looking for her.
“Regina are you okay? I saw you run out, and it seemed-“
“I’m fine, I just needed some air. I’ll be back in a minute. Go back to the pirate and keep Henry entertained while I’m gone, okay?” Blonde’s closeness was not helping in her current confusion, and she hoped she’d for once listen to her and give her the solitude she was craving at the moment.
There was not swaying Emma, and Regina groaned inwardly at her inability to follow a simple request. “Was it Robin? Why don’t you talk to him, maybe…”
Like a drowning woman Regina grabbed onto an excuse. Yes, why not say it’s about Robin. “Maybe what? He’ll leave his wife me? The wife you brought back?”
Emma recoiled back as if she was slapped. “I am sorry.” Regina just shook her head, but before she could say anything Emma continued. “Please, please let me finish. I screwed up. I was thrust into this role, I was made a savior without having asked for it. And a savior is supposed to save people, not think about the costs. Save, not think. That’s what my life has been for the last few years. But I should have stopped and at least thought about the consequences. It was a decision I made too easily.”
Regina took a long breath, trying to calm her raging emotions. She did not expect Emma to say that, to sound so honest. Seeing the true agony on the younger’s woman face, she had to respond. “Look, I know that you had no other choice.”
Emma looked up at her, hope visible on her features, and Regina continued. “You couldn’t let a woman die, that is who you are. And the consequences…they are nothing compared to Roland having his mother back with him.”
“I just…I really don’t want you to hate me, and I can’t blame you if you do either.”
Short resigned laughter came from Regina. “I don’t hate you, Emma. Oh, I wanted to, and I sure as hell tried to, but I don’t. I just wanted to win for once. To be happy. And it was so close to me. But the thing is, no matter what color my magic is now, I am still the same villain who did kill that woman, who killed all those people. I don’t deserve to be happy, and it should be about time I accepted that.”
Emma made a step forward into Regina’s personal space. “Don’t say that! You have changed, Regina. And nothing is black and white, nothing.” She gently lifted Regina’s chin towards her. “When I look at you, I see somebody who has been through so much, and is still standing after all of it. Yes, I see a woman who did a lot of bad things, but she rose above, and is atoning for it every single day.”
She made another step forward, bringing their faces only inches apart as she continued. “I see a mother who loves her son unconditionally and is willing to give her life for him, I see a friend who has been through hell and back and is still capable of forgiving the one person who caused a huge part of it, I see an amazing woman who gave me the happiest year of my life for no other reason but to be kind…”
Her words turned into whisper at the end, and then slowly Emma crossed the remaining distance between them. She placed a feather light kiss on Regina’s lips before parting her lips slightly and making the contact much firmer. Both woman felt the touch in their souls, and automatically drew closer into each other. When Emma teased her lips with her tongue, overwhelmed with emotions Regina suddenly pulled back.
“No, this…this is not real. It’s the magic, it’s making you…we can’t do this.”
“Regina, wait, ple-“
“I’ve got to go!” With that she turned around and fled, trying to get as far as possible from Emma and her traitorous emotions.
Emma wanted to search for Regina, but she knew that if she didn’t want to ruin their friendship, she’d have to let the older woman come to her. There was one thing she realized she needed to do right away, though. She turned back and walked in, summoning Hook to come outside with her for a talk.
Expectant look on his face once they were alone hit her hard, but she didn’t let it diminish her resolve. “Look, Killian, I…I am really sorry I have to do this, but we, us, this…is done.”
Her words obviously not registering judging by his cocky smile, he asked “What do you mean, love?”
Cringing at the term of endearment, she strengthened her resolve and decided to be as clear as possible. “We are breaking up.”
That obviously got his attention. “Where is this coming from?” Hook asked, urgency now obvious in his voice.
“No, this is the magic talking. I don’t know what’s going on, but we were doing great before this happened. Either magic or Regina have done something to you.”
She put her hand on his arm, surprised when it didn’t bounce off immediately. “This has nothing to do with magic or Regina. I had time to think while we were apart. We were good for that moment. We had fun, but…I am really sorry, Killian, but I never loved you the way you needed me to. And you deserve more, you deserve somebody who’ll love you like that.”
He looked at her, really looked at her for the first time since the conversation begun. “The way you love her?”
She nodded her head slowly, trying hard not to avoid his eyes. The last thing she wanted to do was hurt him, but he needed to know the truth.
Hook sighed heavily. “She will only bring you pain, Emma.” She was surprised by the defeat in his voice. Usually he was much more determined in his pursuit of her, but now…now it seemed like he’d just heard a conformation of what he had been expecting from the start, and was ready to accept it. “I’d like to say I wish you two all the happiness, but I’d be lying. Look me up when it’s all over.” With that parting shot he turned on his heal and walked off, leaving Emma sad but relieved she was out of a relationship she never truly felt a part of.
She gave Henry a half-assed explanation on how Regina was not feeling well, and after quickly finishing their meal, she took him back to the apartment. He promptly ran to his room, and Emma slumped herself down into the sofa, her head going to her hands, a pose in which Snow found her a few moments later.
“Emma, are you okay?”
Debating with herself for a few seconds if Snow really was the best person to talk about this with, Emma finally sighed and decided that there was no point in hiding anything. “Snow… Mom…I…Do you think magic can make you fall in love with somebody?”
Confusion covered Snow’s features, but then understanding dawned on her. She put her hand on Emma’s knee as she kneeled next to her, trying to convey her support. “No, honey. Magic can do a lot of things, but that is not one of them. Oh, there are some seducing spells which might make it seem like you are in love, but those are pretty obvious to anybody outside of the pair.”
Slowly nodding to that, Emma slumped back into the chair. “Yeah, that’s what I was thinking.”
At Emma’s small nod, Snow let out a long breath.
Emma looked at Snow afraid of her reaction, and tried to explain herself in one breath. “I don’t know how this happened. I didn’t look for it, I didn’t expect it…”
“That is usually how love happens, sweety.”
Letting out a pained laugh, Emma shrugged Snow’s hand off and got up to start pacing the room. “Yeah, I guess it is. But how about for once, ONCE in my lifetime love happens to me with somebody who actually loves me back and is there for me? Why can’t I love Hook? Things would be so much easier…”
“Nobody ever said love was easy, trust me. Why are you so sure she doesn’t love you back? Did she say something?”
“Yes. No. Kind of. I kissed her and she ran away.”
Shaking off the image of her daughter kissing the evil queen – because while she will always support Emma there were some mental images she didn’t need in her life – Snow smiled at Emma. “That’s it? There can be a million reasons for that, and most of them have to do with running away from the emotions she doesn’t understand. She doesn’t have too many people she can discuss this with, you know.”
“But she can’t love me. I ruined her happiness.”
“You saved her. You and Henry. She was broken, and you two helped put her back together. It kind of all makes sense, when you think about it.”
Incredulous look passed over Emma’s features. “Are you seriously encouraging this?”
“What? You know my position on true love.”
Emma’s eyes grew comically wide. “True love?! Who said anything about true love?”
“Honey, you two created an eclipse together. In hindsight, that’s pretty telling.”
Panic slowly seeped out of Emma’s eyes, replaced by acceptance and understanding. A small, almost shy smile graced her lips. “It is, isn’t it?”
Neal chose that moment to announce his presence, held firmly by apologetic looking David. “I am sorry, I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, truly. He was getting fussy and we were walking, and …”
Emma looked at him fearfully. “How much did you hear?”
“Enough. And I wanted to say, if you’ll let me… I know you don’t need my approval, but I wanted you to know you have it, however this plays out. Regina is far from my favorite person, but if she is the one you chose, then I’ll respect that, and be happy for you. There is nothing I want more for you than to see you truly happy.”
He used his free hand to wipe a small tear trailing down Emma’s face, before continuing. “And if she loves you, well, than I can be sure you’ll be safe. If one thing can be said about Regina, it is that she will turn several realms upside-down to protect the people she loves.”
Amazed at the acceptance, Emma pulled both her parents into a hug, Neal gurgling his disapproval at suddenly being squished between three people. She kissed his nose before pulling back, ready to face the biggest hurdle. Regina might love her back, but weather she’d be willing to admit that was the main question. With nothing to do but wait, Emma drove to the Mayors house and did just that.
Regina took a steadying breath and opened the door on Gold’s store. She was half surprised to find it open, considering the lengths he went to in order to avoid Emma and her for the past week. At the sound of the bell she saw him lift his head from the trinket he was examining, an always predatory looking smile gracing his features immediately.
“Regina, to what do I owe this pleasure?”
“What do you think, Gold? You’ve been a hard man to track for the past week.”
“Well, that wife of yours was so intent on rearranging my bone structure, I had to let her cool down.”
She cringed at the moniker for Emma, pushing down the matching feelings of dread and affection washing over her at it. “Yes, I am sure that is the reason.”
“Now that you are here, what can I do for you my dear?”
Knowing that there was no way to find out what she needed without being completely open, she decided to lay all her cards on the table. “The ceremony we did the other day, could it have…manufactured some unwanted feelings in us? Could it have made us fall in love?”
“I taught you better than that.”
“Yes, you did, but then you were running after my sister like a love sick puppy not so long ago.”
Gold’s face froze. “That was not love, and we both know it.”
Torn between a desire to torment him further and showing compassion for the effects of acts committed by her sister, Regina looked at his angry face for a few moments before nodding her head. “Yes, I do know that. But there has got to be some explanation...”
“Why are you so afraid of the possibility that what the two of you have is genuine? It will make both you and your son happy. Henry was the only one who figured it out right off, you know?”
“What do you mean?”
“He realized that the ceremony wouldn’t have worked if there were no feelings between the two of you. Smart kid you have there.”
She smiled a bit at that, than shook her head slightly, still not willing to accept what he was telling her. “But this can’t be. I’ve had my true love, and I had pixy dust show me my soulmate.”
Gold shook his head a bit, showing some genuine affection for the first time. “My dear, for all the things that the two of us have done, all the things we created, used…we have only scratched the surface. The fairies are very fond of the pixy dust, and with good reason. But it’s far from being be- all, end-all. There are things older, more powerful than any of us will ever know. They put you and Emma together, love. Whatever you knew so far, pales in comparison to the raw power we invoked that day. The difference is it doesn’t determine your destiny. It recognizes it. It is on you weather you will follow it or not.”
“So I have a choice?”
“Yes, dear, you do. That’s why there was an out from the start. Only, judging by your questions, I don’t think you want that out anymore, do you?”
Regina stood there for a moment thinking it over. Yes, magic put her and Emma together. But this magic didn’t come with an ultimatum of it’s him or nothing. It was on her to decide what her destiny would be. And she finally realized that this was it. She always made her own destiny, and now she had a chance to decide if she would accept her happy ending with the one person she chooses. Is it really this simple? she thought, and judging by what her heart was telling her, yes it was. Forgetting about Gold Regina turned on her heal and hurried home, eager to talk to Emma. It was not what she expected, and it was more than she thought she deserved, but she was going to grab onto her happiness with both hands for once.
Regina’s heart sped up at the sight of the yellow beetle in front of her house. She was never as happy to see that blasted deathtrap as she was today. She went to open the door, but then stopped with her hand hovering above the handle. What if Emma didn’t feel the same way? What if that was just a moment, and once she saw her it would be gone? What if- Stopping that train of thought she gathered her courage and walked in. She was going to try, whatever the end result. She found Emma pacing the foyer, anticipation and fear clearly written on her features.
“Regina, you are here.”
Regina smiled, and nervously falling into old habits replied. “Yes, Miss Swan, thank you for pointing out the obvious.” Feeling guilty immediately, she hurriedly continued. “I’ve talked to Gold.”
Emma’s face fell a little. “Oh.”
“Yes, he said-“
Not knowing what was coming, Emma decided to grab her chance while she still could. “Look, I am sorry. I am sorry for kissing you, I am sorry for making this more difficult and more awkward. But I love you. I don’t care what Gold told you. It will not change the way I feel. And as much as I’d like to say it is, this isn’t a new development. It’s been building up for years now, and I’ve been ignoring it and running away from it, but not anymore. I am done running. And if you don’t feel the same I will be your friend, or an acquaintance, or whatever you need me to be, but I had to let you know…I had to.”
Warmth filling her, Regina made a step forward, taking Emma’s hand she asked. “Are you quite finished?”
Not trusting her voice anymore, Emma just nodded, giving the older woman a chance to say something. “Then I can inform you that Gold confirmed what I already suspected, but didn’t want to admit. It wasn’t the ceremony. It wasn’t magic. It was us. All along, it was us. I wanted to hate you not because you brought Marian back, but because you hurt me. You, after I trusted you, after I let you in…It just took me a while to realize it.”
She turned Emma’s face to her, blue eyes full of hope and love looking down at her. “I love you too, Emma.”
With that she crossed the remaining distance and brought their lips together. The kiss was gentle at first, just a graze, but soon the contact intensified, and as lips melted into lips, Regina heard a moan escape the blonde. She pressed the tip of her tongue against Emma’s lips, feeling them part invitingly. It was the sweetest taste and she felt herself shudder at the delicious sensation. Both soon got lost in the other, wanting to feel all that was the other woman at once. Finally, in desperate need for air they parted bringing their foreheads together, each smiling and breading hard.
Emma realized her heart was beating faster than when she was fighting a dragon. Never in her life did she feel like this after a kiss. If she had even a shred of a doubt before, it would have been gone after that. This was it. This was her happily ever after. Giddy with excitement, she placed another quick kiss on Regina’s lips before speaking. “So, let’s see. First we got married, then we slept together, then I saw you naked, now we kissed… Can I take you out on a date and truly turn this whole marriage thing on its head?”
Regina smiled, but then her face got serious again. “We have to tell Henry.”
Emma nodded, still unable to remove what she was sure was a really stupid looking grin from her face. “Yeah, he won’t be too surprised, I recon.”
“What about Snow and David? I am sure the Uncharmings will have-“
“Actually, they already know. And are happy for me. You might want to cut it with the Uncharming business, though, considering that you joined the clan.”
The scandalized look Regina gave her was worth its weight in gold. “I did no such thing!”
“Uh-huh. You keep telling yourself that.”
The blond was way too smug about that, and never the one to relinquish the upper hand, Regina started leaving small kisses all over the savior’s face, her hands moving down the blonde’s back to rest on her firm ass. Satisfied with the small gasp that procured, Regina continued to nuzzle the blonde’s neck, before asking. “About that date thing?”
“It’s not fair that we’d go after you’ve seen me naked, and I never saw you…” Regina purred into her ear, and it was all Emma could do to keep herself upright. “What do you say we even out the field?”
All Emma could do was nod, and get out a quick “Bedroom?”
“Bedroom.” Regina agreed with a predatory smile which left Emma weak in the knees, and taking the Sheriff by the hand she guided her up the steps.
Hours later as they lay together, their naked bodies intertwined, Emma running her fingers through Regina’s hair, the brunet felt complete for the first time in her life. She settled into the blonde’s embrace, and as she began to doze off, one thought came to her. Being good in not so overrated after all.