Regina is quiet through dinner. She takes small dainty bites and dabs the corners of her mouth with her napkin every so often. She listens intently when Henry speaks and looks at Emma with kind eyes. She’s soft and sweet against the harsh fluorescent lights and Emma hardly notices the one flickering near the window.
“Alright, Henry,” Regina is packing up the remnants of their meal. “It’s time to go. Say goodnight to Emma.”
He pulls on his coat slowly, loathe to leave, and Regina begins to gather the rest of her things. “Can Emma come over on Friday? It’s movie night and everything.”
Regina looks at her watch before slipping her arm into her coat, “I suppose so.”
“Cool,” Henry grins and wraps his arms around Emma’s waist. “See you later, Emma.”
“Night, Kid.” Emma strokes his hair, presses a quick kiss to the top of his head.
“See?” Henry whispers against her chest. “That saddle is your in.”
Regina smiles softly, wraps a grey cashmere scarf around her neck. “We’ll see you Friday, Sheriff Swan.”
Friday comes too soon and the fall evenings in Maine are less beautiful, more freezing. Emma’s shivering on Regina’s doorstep, hands shoved into some god awful mittens from Mary Margaret.
Henry answers the door, in a Harvard sweatshirt and jeans.
“You already own college gear?” Emma shivers as she brushes past him on her way inside.
“Emma, how am I ever going to have something to aspire to if I don’t wear it on my clothing on a regular basis?” he rolls his eyes as if it’s the most obvious thing in the world and holds out a hand for her jacket.
“Great,” Emma shrugs out of her jacket and stuffs the mittens into one pocket. “You’re like, not even thinking about college.”
Henry shrugs, “I will be someday. It’s comfortable and it was a gift, chillax. Come inside, Mom already opened a bottle of wine and she said I can’t start eating the garlic bread until you got here.”
Emma rolls her eyes and follows him into the kitchen.
Regina’s got a glass of wine in one hand, the other is stirring something in a large cast iron Le Creuset French oven. There’s a baking sheet of garlic bread resting on the counter near the stove and Regina looks quite pleased about something.
“Hey,” Emma follows Henry’s lead and sits down on an empty barstool at the kitchen island.
“Hi,” Regina gives a soft smile and pushes the open bottle of cabernet across the island with a fresh glass. “Help yourself.”
Emma does and watches as Regina moves about the kitchen. She’s in constant motion, slicing braciole, stirring sauce, wilting chard, and Emma notices how at peace she looks through it all. How there’s absolutely nothing keeping her spine so rigid or her shoulders so square.
“Henry, set the table?” Regina pushes a stray lock of hair behind her ear and starts plating their meal. She’s deliberate and Emma watches the way her brow furrows in concentration as she places each slice of meat carefully atop a bed of pasta.
Henry’s up and in motion, taking each plate to the dining room with ease. He’s back for fistfuls of flatware and returns one final time to pour himself a generous glass of milk.
“Shall we?” Regina lifts her glass of wine from its place near the kitchen sink and allows Emma to walk ahead of her.
“It’s move night,” Henry explains as he dries dishes.
Emma had tried to insist upon washing but Regina wouldn’t hear it, so she’s sitting at one of the island stools again. “So what are we watching?”
“Well, I really wanted to watch The Godfather, I’m really into the Italian mafia,” Henry folds his dishcloth and sighs. “Mom said no.”
“It’s hardly appropriate,” Regina rolls her eyes.
“So we’re not watching The Godfather, got it.”
“Nor are we watching Goodfellas.”
“Jesus, kid, really?” Emma turns to look at Henry. “You’re like thirteen.”
“Mom was watching Mob Wives one night and I don’t know, it’s just really interesting. Like, it’s totally crazy that these guys could operate like they did and like, how can crime be organized? It’s totally chaos, like if you tried to rob a bank, that’s just chaotic and stupid. But they were calculated and businesspeople, I mean, until Sammy The Bull snitched and—”
“You watch Mob Wives?” Emma turns an incredulous look toward Regina, who merely huffs and pours herself another glass of cabernet.
“Mom, Emma asked you a question.”
“I have seen an episode here or there,” Regina waves her free hand dismissively and shakes her head. “It’s not as if I binge watch.”
“Any organized crime I should know about as Sheriff of this fine town?” Emma grins.
Regina rolls her eyes and shoves the bottle of cabernet toward Emma, “Oh, stop it.”
“So,” Emma turns back to Henry. “What are we watching?”
“Dracula: Dead and Loving It.”
“We’re a Mel Brooks household,” Regina is leaning up against the counter with one hip, she’s still wearing her heels, but she’s rolled up the sleeves of her blouse and Emma can see the top of the lace and silk camisole beneath it.
“Didn’t see that coming,” Emma looks from Regina’s chest to their son.
“Great, so let’s watch some classic comedy,” he tosses his dishcloth on the counter and gives Emma a very overt wink. “You and Mom can share the couch.”
They do share the couch. And it’s the most cliched because all Emma wants to do is pull a first date yawn maneuver because Regina smells good and somewhere after Renfield starts eating bugs, Regina opened a bottle of merlot, so, Emma feels fairly invincible and a little cuddly.
Regina comments on Mina’s hair at some point after her second glass of merlot (fifth glass of wine total) and Emma can’t hold in her I was a redhead once. She also doesn’t miss the way Regina looks at her after that.
Henry is sitting on the floor in front of her, feigning total obliviousness, and sucking at it too, when Emma digs her big toe into his back. He retaliates with an elbow to Emma’s knee and she chokes back a yelp.
“Something wrong?” Regina looks over at them as she pours another half glass of wine.
“Nah, it’s all good,” Emma grins, hopes her teeth aren’t purple.
“Wonderful,” Regina turns back to the film, laughs at something awful and campy, and Emma’s jaw hangs open a little.
“You’re really gross,” Henry whispers as he hugs Emma goodnight. “Like stage five gross, make a move or get over it.”
“You’re a little shit,” Emma mumbles and moves to refill her glass. “Sleep tight. I hope all the bedbugs bite.”
“That’s a horrible thing to wish on someone. What with the reappearance of bedbugs on a subway car in Manhattan,” Regina bristles before she hugs Henry goodnight. “Sleep well, mijo.”
“Night, Mom. Te amo.”
They can hear him bounding up the stairs, skipping a step each time, and Regina shakes her head. “A baby elephant, that one.”
Emma laughs softly and tops off her glass. “Mel Brooks and Mob Wives. Unexpected.”
“It’s not as if you really know me, Emma.” Regina’s looking at her with half-lidded eyes and it’s clear that this glass of wine should be her last.
“I mean, but I’d sort of like to,” Emma takes a large sip of merlot. “I mean, if that’s not weird.”
“Not weird, per se,” Regina shrugs in a decidedly out of character way. “I’m just not used to someone wanting to know me. I’ve lived a life in isolation. It’s very strange after all this time. Even with Robin, we didn’t seem to learn all that much about each other.”
She hasn’t spoken of Robin. Not yet.
“But weren’t you like… soul mates?”
“That meant we didn’t spend time getting to know each other, we just fell into each other I suppose. It all happened quite quickly.” Regina sighs, finishes the rest of her wine. “It just felt like that’s the way it was all supposed to be.”
“Kind of weird though, like, you’re in love with someone, but you don’t know the way they take their coffee, or the movies they watch on a Friday night.” Emma stretches her arms above her head and yawns. “But like, how did dating work in the Enchanted Forest?”
“I don’t really know,” Regina sighs again, heavy this time. “I never really did that.”
“Right,” Emma smashes her lips together, realizes her mistake too late. “Not like I really know what dating here is like.”
“You don’t date?” Regina sets her glass down on the coffee table and turns to lean her back against the arm of the couch. She kicked off her heels at the beginning of the movie and her toes are just peeking out of the legs of her dress pants. Her toenails are painted a deep burgundy and they’re too close to Emma’s thigh.
“Not really,” Emma finishes her wine and reaches forward to deposit her glass on the coffee table as well. “I saw some people here and there, but it’s not like I was trying to settle down with anyone. Just drinks or coffee. Never really dinner.”
“You didn’t want to get to know anyone.”
“Pretty much,” Emma agrees and wiggles her toes. Her socks don’t match. “Hey, can I sleep on your couch tonight? That wine did me in.”
Regina doesn’t hesitate when she nods, “I’ll get you some blankets.”