Regina sat down beside her on their couch. Emma jerked her head up and looked at the other woman, gasping a little. Sometimes the knight moved much too quietly for the good of Emma’s heart. She put the council notes she’d been reading aside and looked back at the brunette. There was a smug smile on her face as she brandished a piece of paper dramatically before slapping it down on the coffee table in front of them.
Emma quickly sat forward and grabbed up the paper as soon as Regina’s hand was gone. She smiled at she saw the words in front of her. It was her mother’s stationary, dated a few years before. Her smile grew brighter at the date. As far as she was aware they hadn’t changed the record keepers’ questions since, so the questions in front of her should be current. The breath left her lungs in a rush as she sighed in relief. Today hadn’t been a complete waste.
“How’d you even get this?” Emma asked.
“The librarian is well used to our odd requests by now. It didn’t take much to ask her for the copies of the questions the royal record keepers have been using for the last hundred years.” Regina shrugged. “After that it was easy to just go to the front of the file and grab out the first sheet. The hardest part was staying there actually looking like I was doing some sort of work. I ended up reading quite a few of them just to sell it. Did you know a hundred years ago this kingdom was warm enough to actually grow millet? Hard to imagine now. Then I just slipped the paper we needed into my things when she wasn’t looking.”
Emma almost laughed. The other woman seemed almost giddy about her success. Well, as truly giddy as Regina ever really got. She thought it was entirely endearing.
She set down the paper on the table again and sat back. “It is strange.” She swallowed before going on. “I’m glad you had more luck today than I did.”
Regina looked over at her, face shifting from a smile to concern. “You didn’t get the stationary?”
Emma shook her head. “No, I told you that she’s a good business woman and that there was a chance I’d be denied. Well, the chance was bigger than I thought it would be.”
“Well, we’ll just have to think of something else then.” Regina sighed.
“Yeah, I guess. Though it’s not like we can just break into my mother’s office and steal a piece. She locks it when she’s not in there and there are guards and servants everywhere watching our every move.”
Regina bit her lip. “They are watching our every move, but they aren’t watching everyone else’s…” she trailed off.
Emma tilted her head, confused. “Of course, but what does that have to do with anything?”
“I didn’t actually have a set of black knight armor just lying around for the tournament. That was my regular armor morphed into a different appearance. Perhaps I can do the same to my person. If I look like someone else no one will bother me. And if they look for the person they’ll never find me because I’ll be back to looking like myself again.”
“I’m not sure I like that plan.” Emma pursed her lips. “I know you know more about magic than I do, but it seems like changing an inanimate object’s appearance is a lot different than a person’s. I don’t want you to harm yourself for this plan. There will be other opportunities if this one falls through I’m sure. It’s worth the wait if you’re fine and healthy.”
“I can be careful, Emma. I started out small with the armor, I can start out small with this too.”
She frowned, sensing that this was as good as she was going to get from the other woman. “Fine, but the second it hurts you, you stop and we try something else, ok?”
Regina nodded. “It’s a deal.”
Emma sat in silence for a while, keeping more to her side of the couch than she would normally. She was a little mad at the other woman for wanting to risk herself unnecessarily, but she really didn’t want to storm off or make a bigger deal out of it. She didn’t want a full blown fight nor did she want to be alone. The side of the couch would have to do.
Regina for her part seemed lost in thought. Her magic was swirling around her fingers lazily, sparks of purple-gold dancing like they’d had a little too much wine. She didn’t seem to notice Emma’s partial withdraw for the moment.
Though Emma didn’t miss that Regina’s magic would jump towards her every now and again, fizzling out somewhere in the middle of the two of them. She wanted to move forward and catch one of these sparks, or at least try to. She wasn’t quite sure that those sparks were really tangible. Magic was so ephemeral in and of itself. Its effects were what was truly lasting. She couldn’t help but wonder just why Regina’s magic was trying to go towards her. They weren’t truly connected in any way. Why would her magic want to seek Emma out?
She bit the inside of her lip and didn’t say anything about it. They had more important things to think about. She’d point it out to Regina once everything had settled down again.
“What happens when we actually get the stationary, though?” Emma asked, throwing thoughts of magic aside for the moment.
“What do you mean?” Regina looked over at Emma, sparks of magic dying now that her concentration was broken.
Emma immediately missed the sparks, but she couldn’t put a finger on why. Sure they were pretty, but what did that really have to do with anything. “I mean, we’ll have the stationary and the questions, but we won’t have the questions on the stationary, at least not in my mother’s hand. Anyone who has eyes can tell my mother’s and my writing apart, same for yours. In order for this to be believable it has to at least look mostly like my mother’s writing if not exactly the same. Neither of us can really do that.”
Regina smirked at Emma. “But one of us can.”
“Oh no,” Regina shook her head. “though I’m sure it could be if you knew what you were doing. I know how to copy someone else’s hand, especially since I have the exact words I need to write right here.” She gestured at the paper on the table.
“How?” Emma asked again.
Regina reached out and turned the paper upside down. “If I turn it upside down like this it takes the focus more off the letters and words and puts more on the shape of how it’s written. Thus, I’ll be able to recreate your mother’s writing. The trickiest part will be when I need to write the final question, but hopefully by then I’ll have gotten used to your mother’s writing style enough to make a good go at it. Of course, practice makes perfect.”
“You’re going to try and morph yourself and practice how to copy mother’s writing? Isn’t that a little much, even for you? I can help at least with the writing part.”
Regina bit her lip. “You could, but this is something I’ve already done before. Back when I lived in the Dark Kingdom I got quite good at copying my mother’s hand using this trick. It would be quicker for me.”
“But if you’re torn in two different directions you could end up hurting yourself changing your appearance.”
Regina thought that over for a long moment. “Perhaps you’re right. But if I have to stop I’ll take over or if I master it early on same thing.”
Emma nodded. “Alright.” She sighed. “That takes care of a lot, but I can’t help but feel we’re missing so much.”
“We are, were this a military plan I’d never use it, but death isn’t involved here.”
“Treason involves death.”
“She won’t kill you.”
Emma sat forward and grabbed Regina’s hands. “Yeah, but that doesn’t cover you.”
“No, but I’m betting your mother would rather cover up the plan we’re trying to execute than draw attention to us. An execution of a traitor would draw quite a bit of attention, and she could change the story all she wanted, the truth would get out eventually.”
She rubbed her forehead, trying to get rid of a headache that was coming on. “How about we just don’t get caught? How about everything just goes right for once? I’d be ok with that.”
Regina laughed once. “I think we both would.”
Emma scooted the rest of the way across the couch and into Regina’s arms again. She wasn’t happy with her still, but she wanted the other woman’s comfort. Talk of death made her more nervous than she really let on.
When Regina started up playing with her magic again, Emma felt it. It was hot against her skin, but not unpleasant, like the sun on a late summer day. It danced on her skin before sinking in, warming her from the inside out, sending little shivers of feeling through every part of her body. Her eyes fluttered closed. It felt absolutely heavenly and so very intimate. She couldn’t imagine that sex was any more intimate than the magic. It felt like a part of Regina was inside her.
It took every part of her to draw back. If she stayed in Regina’s arms like that it would lead to sex and as much as she had been thinking about it in brief moments before she shook the thoughts away, she wasn’t ready for the next step. But the loss of Regina now that magic had danced across her skin was a little too much.
“Regina,” she said, voice lower than in had been a few minutes before.
Regina turned to look at her, eyes questioning.
“Can you stop the magic for now? It’s, um, kind of affecting me.” Her eyes unbidden slid up and down Regina’s form.
The brunette got the message immediately and stopped, the sparks fading away.
Emma sighed and sank back into Regina, drawling her into a kiss. The other kisses they had shared were more chaste than not, but this was different. It started out less than chaste and only declined from there. Every second they spent kissing that heat inside Emma dissipated but was replaced by another kind, something every bit as warm, but in a different way. Either way, she loved the feeling, she wanted more.
When Regina swept her tongue over Emma’s lips she almost passed out. She didn’t know that such a simple thing could cause such an intense feeling. She gasped and then Regina was in her mouth, addicting as chili pepper laced chocolate. The other woman’s tongue stroked every part of her mouth, revisiting those that made Emma gasp and squirm. Her hands tightened in Regina’s hair to what she thought should be the point of pain, but the other woman just groaned into her mouth and the heat inside of Emma flared higher at the sound.
But as good as this felt she wanted to return the pleasure to Regina. Even just the thought of having her tongue in the knight’s mouth was enough to make her heart speed up. But Regina was in charge of the kiss now, and she didn’t have the heart to take it from her. She just stroked lazily against Regina’s tongue as it went about exploring her mouth. There would be time for her to be in charge. They had until death to kiss and whatever else. And what was death to her when she felt so alive?
They drew apart, breathing hard. Emma’s eyes fluttered open to find Regina already staring at her, pupils blow wide and eyes so dark the brown was just a shade or two lighter than the pupils. The sight sent another zing of heat through her. Gods how in the world had she stumbled into such an amazing woman?
“Wow,” Emma finally said as her breath started to even out.
Regina hummed her agreement, eyes darting down to the other woman’s lips.
Emma didn’t miss the move at all. In a second she was up on her knees, grabbing Regina’s face as she straddled her. The brunette’s hands found her waist and guided her down onto her lap. Emma smiled at her before she leaned in and kissed the other woman hard. She kissed Regina for a few minutes before sweeping her tongue across the other woman’s lips, seeking entrance just as Regina had.
Regina opened up willingly under her, and if Emma thought having Regina in her mouth was good, kissing the other woman like this was even better. Her senses were flooded with everything Regina, the jasmine of her hair, the sweet-hot taste of her mouth, the feel of her soft skin. She felt like she was drowning in the most exquisite way and she never wanted to surface.
A few awkward strokes of tongue and then Emma seemed to get the hang of it, drawing a few gasps and even a whimper from Regina. She shivered as the whimper vibrated against her teeth. Oh, that was even better than the groan. She set out immediately to hear it again.
Regina’s hands started to slide up Emma’s body from her waist. They tickled her ribs for a few seconds, causing Emma to squirm, before rising even higher, stopping just below Emma’s breasts. Her fingers traced the underside of the firm flesh before a particularly bold swipe of Emma’s tongue sent her hands to fully cup them.
Emma arched into the touch. Having Regina’s hands against her so boldly was beyond words. She wanted more and more of it. Regina squeezed gently and Emma had to pull back from the kiss to toss her head back and moan loudly. She wasn’t this sensitive usually, but Regina’s touch was just too much and not enough all at once. Regina’s hands explored her breasts for a few seconds more, tracing little circles around Emma’s hard nipples, before migrating to her back and starting to map the skin there with careful touches.
The blonde sat forward again and lunged for Regina’s mouth. She felt as if this was the only way to both stop the warmth from spreading and multiply it. She wanted both feelings. She didn’t know what she wanted. Everything and nothing at all.
Regina’s hands reached her ass, gave it a squeeze that had Emma arching into Regina, detaching herself from the kiss yet again. She slumped forward into the crook of Regina’s neck and took several deep breaths and Regina’s hands found their way back to her waist again. The need for more still thrummed through her like electricity, but it was manageable now, tempered by her need to wait. She knew if she kept kissing Regina like that, if Regina kept touching her like that, it would lead to places she wasn’t quite ready to go yet. Oh, but how she wanted to be ready. The heat was addicting and so was Regina.
She pulled back and pecked Regina on the lips once. Regina smiled at her and tucked a piece of hair behind her ear. Emma leaned forward and placed her forehead against Regina’s.
“So that just happened,” Emma said, laughing just a little.
“It did.” Regina nodded against Emma’s forehead.
Emma’s laugh morphed into a goofy smile. “I think there should be a repeat performance soon.”
Regina relaxed against Emma just slightly, enough for Emma to notice, but not be too super concerned about.
“I think so too.” She leaned forward a bare inch and kissed Emma lightly.
“I knew you could kiss, but damn you can kiss.” Emma sighed dreamily.
“Mmm, so can you, darling.”
Emma snorted. “Not nearly as well. Kinda fumbled at the beginning.” She felt the blush coloring her face and hoped that Regina couldn’t feel it as well since she was so close.
“We all have to start somewhere. You’re quite the natural, and practice makes perfect.”
“This might just be practice I look forward to.” She giggled.
Emma sat there for another few seconds before extracting herself from Regina’s lap. She settled again on the couch, leaning against Regina. Her eyes fell on the paper and a little bit of the giddiness faded away.
“But you have to be around to practice,” she whispered as the fire crackled in the background.
Regina turned and looked down at Emma, firing reflecting in green eyes. “I’ll be careful, Emma, you have my promise.” Her arm slid around the princess’s shoulders. “I wouldn’t want to throw away all that I’ve gained by being careless.”
Emma sighed and snuggled in closer to Regina. “Ok.”
“You have to be careful as well, darling.”
Emma looked up at Regina this time. “I promise. I want to be alive for the rest of this to unfold. I don’t think I’ve wanted anything more.”
Regina kissed her on the forehead. “Good.” She wiggled around. “Now up, I have practicing to do and so do you. We have limited time.”
Emma nodded. “Yes, dear.”
Regina flicked a few sparks of magic at her for her tone before going to the middle of the room and starting to focus.
Emma sighed and sat down with ink, quill, and a few sheets of paper before setting to work.
Emma sighed down at another fairly useless report. For the millionth time she wondered why someone else couldn’t do them if these reports were actually needed. She was a princess she could be doing so much more than this. What ruling had to do with any of these reports was beyond her.
She glanced up around the room. No one was around her anymore. The library was always quiet around lunchtime. If she worked now for a while no one would really be around or at least pay attention to what she was working. She pulled another few sheets of paper that she’d hidden under her notes forward and started to copy her mother’s hand yet again. The trick Regina had told her about had worked for the big things. Her writing had turned out very similar to her mother’s, but there were still things that she was working on, things that she found that she could only really focus on while the paper was right side up. She set to work again, trying to get the curve on the e’s just right on this particular draft.
The blonde froze a few minutes later when she felt a presence behind her. She slipped her work away casually and started to jot down nonsense on her notes to make it look like she was working on this piece of paper the whole time. She glanced over her work area one time just to make sure everything suspicious was covered before relaxing just slightly. She knew she shouldn’t carry around the forgeries with her, but she needed all the practice she could get and her time in the library was a good opportunity during the quiet moments. Well, what were supposed to be the quiet moments. She fought the urge to glare back at whoever was behind her. Instead, she set to actually working on her report again.
A second later one of the library attendants who worked under the librarian showed up at her side. “Do you need anything else, your highness?” she asked, voice high and breathy.
Emma looked up at the slight girl, bright orange hair slipping out of her braid. “No, thank you. I’ve got all I need here.” She smiled at the girl.
The girl nodded her head. “As you wish then, princess. Just let me know if you need anything.”
“I will.” Emma’s eyes fell back to her work, this report on the incidences of Blue Fever in the kingdom over the last hundred years. It was a little more interesting to Emma just for the fact it wasn’t a trade report. The tactics some villages took to ward off the almost always deadly disease were interesting as well as amusing at points. Whoever thought that putting on masks and flapping around like a bird when outside would ward off the disease was off their rocker.
She worked on for a few minutes before looking around again. The library was empty save for just a bare few people, mostly workers. Just as she started to slip the paper out she felt someone behind her again. She stopped her hand’s movement and made to move another instead. She shook her head and went back to work like she hadn’t quite found what she was looking for on that paper and hoped she had put on a good enough act.
“I saw your highness was displeased with something, is it because you don’t have the resources you need?” The girl came to her side again.
Emma looked her over more carefully this time. She wasn’t one of her mother’s favored servants. Emma wasn’t even sure she’d seen the girl before. As many servants as there were in the palace usually she had seen most of them in passing if they had worked at there for any length of time. For the girl to have noticed her behavior she would have had to have been watching closely, but if she wasn’t one of her mother’s watchdogs then why would she observe her so?
“No, I’m quite fine, thank you. If I really do need anything I will find for you…” she trailed off hoping the girl would give her name.
“Liza, your highness.”
Emma nodded. “I’ll call for you then, Liza, if I need anything at all.”
The girl smiled at her again. “Thank you, princess.” She curtsied and walked off once Emma was paying attention to her work again.
This time Emma worked for a much longer period of time. She knew the end of the lunch period was coming. If she wanted to get any sort of practice done today before she retired to her room she had best try again, but she held back. She looked up around the room again, but this time didn’t even reach for the forgery paper, but the one just on top of it. She pulled it out and set to reading it, scribbling notes on the document on a piece of paper right beside it, but Liza did not show. Emma frowned, shrugged, and went back to work. It must have just been a coincidence then.
She set everything aside after another few minutes. She probably still had maybe twenty minutes before the scholars came back in to resume work. She slipped the paper out after another cursory glance around the room.
Liza was at her side within a second.
Emma looked up at the girl again, a scowl on her face. Another paper she was holding drifted down on top of what she had just pulled out. This couldn’t be coincidence anymore. Something was wrong here.
“Liza, how long have you worked here?” she asked before the girl could speak up again.
“Just a few days, highness.”
“I see. Well, since you are new here perhaps I should tell you before a rather not so nice member of council yells at you and tries to get you fired, that when people are working here they don’t like to be interrupted much.”
“Oh.” The girl look genuinely surprised. “I’ll keep that in mind, your highness, thank you.”
Emma squinted at the girl. Everything about her seemed above level, but something was just tickling at the back of her mind. “Where are you from exactly?”
“Never been there.”
“It’s lovely this time of year. The first snow is always so beautiful.”
Emma titled her head. “Wintershollow is only twenty leagues from here. It won’t snow for the better part of a month yet.” Her eyes narrowed. “Who are you really?” She got ready to shout for the guards when a few sparks of magic hit her. She gasped and looked up at the girl again. Orange hair looked completely out of place with that smirk that was totally Regina. “Regina?”
The girl nodded. She leaned forward just enough so no one else would hear what they were speaking of, but still far enough away that the girl wouldn’t draw attention for being improper. “It was about time you realized something was off, darling. I was beginning to wonder if you were really as clever as I thought.”
Emma scowled at the other woman. “How was I supposed to know you were going to play a game of cat and mouse with me dressed as a serving girl? I knew you were practicing and that was it. I didn’t even realized you’d finally gotten your skin tone to change.”
Regina smirked again. “I wanted to make sure I truly looked different. Can’t have you humoring me in anyway. Plus I needed to test that I could hold it long enough for everything I needed to do. Both tests were successful.”
Emma exhaled through her nose. There were more important things to be annoyed about she supposed than a petty trick. “And you didn’t hurt yourself in any way to achieve this end?”
Regina shook her head. “No, I did make you a deal.” The brunette glanced down at Emma’s papers. “Though it seems perhaps it was I who needed to be more worried about you. You can’t be doing such things here in the open, Emma.”
“I have to practice, Regina. I was being careful. Surely in your watching you noticed that.”
“Perhaps, but even you can’t predict everything with just a look around the room. I know you want to perfect everything before it’s time, but only practice back in our chambers, please. Your mother’s wrath won’t be worth it.”
Emma sighed. “Ok. Fine. I’ll take it back to our room when I’m done here. Happy?” She felt like sticking her tongue out at the other woman, but refrained. That was beyond inappropriate on many levels, especially since everyone just saw a servant.
“Yes, I like knowing you’ll be safe.”
Emma deflated a bit at that. “I enjoy knowing you’re safe as well. Seems like both of us don’t get exactly what we want at points.”
“Yes, well, we are both quite stubborn women. Not everything can always be had the other’s way.”
“True enough.” Emma looked around again. People were starting to file back in from lunch. “You better go before anyone thinks to question why I’ve been speaking to you for so long. And Regina?”
Regina cocked an eyebrow.
“You have practiced how to change back right?”
“Of course, princess.”
“Thank the gods. I didn’t know what we’d do if you were stuck like that.”
The corners of Regina’s mouth pulled up. “Not a fan of gingers, darling?”
“No, I much prefer brunettes.” She let a slow, seductive smile play over her lips. “I find them quite a bit more…alluring. Though one really in particular.”
“She sounds like a lucky lady, highness.” Regina slipped back into the servant persona as someone started towards them.
“I like to think I’m the lucky one.” Emma eyed the man heading towards them, a council member that she neither liked nor hated, a rare occurrence indeed. He was probably on his way over to discuss something from the day’s meeting. She looked back at Regina. “But thank you for your help, I would’ve never found that information without you.”
“It’s my pleasure, Princess.” Regina curtsied and hurried off into the stacks again leaving Emma to deal with a council member that wanted her attention.