Emma took a deep breath. She descended the stairs to the mausoleum, Elsa's words in her mind. She would tell Regina she was important and worthy. Nice and clean. After that, she would go back home before creating a bigger mess.
She saw Regina in front of her mirror. Emma didn't know how to begin, but then Regina met her gaze in the mirror and let out a deep sigh.
"What do I have to do to get you to leave me alone, Swan?" Regina groaned. She turned around to face Emma, her face crunching in annoyance. "Go away."
"I'm an idiot," Emma said. Okay, good, just admit you're wrong, tell her she's worth fighting for, and leave.
"Finally something we can agree on," the irritated brunette snapped back.
"I'm an idiot because I love you," Emma slipped. Oh, shit. That was definitely not what she had been planning to say.
Emma had no idea where she got the courage to say that. Even though she knew that she was sincere and she did love Regina, she hadn't planned speaking her mind, and much less did she think it was a good idea to confess her love to the former Evil Queen who had spent all day telling Emma how her life was ruined because of her. Where had the idea even come from?
Oh, and more importantly, as confident as she had sounded just two seconds ago, she had no idea what to say next. Regina wasn't saying anything, either; she just stood there looking at her. Her eyes searched Emma's face, both incredulous and confused, looking for some trace of dishonesty.
"Regina… I…" Seriously? She couldn't come up with one sentence now, after pouring her heart out like that? "Um..."
"What do you think you're doing?" Regina finally opened her mouth and filled the silence. She seemed impatient and furious at Emma's outburst and the lack of words followed by it. Emma couldn't even blame her. She gulped audibly. Why had she done that? She had learned as a child that her love was unrequited or at least no one would love her enough anyway. And now she was confessing her feelings to a person who certainly didn't fail to show that she hated her.
"Miss Swan? I'm waiting." Regina's expression was somewhat blank now. Emma exhaled and fidgeted with the sleeve of her jacket. She could do this. She wouldn't run away now. She would say what she had originally planned, and then she'd leave, never discussing this ever again.
"I just need you to know that I haven't been apologizing to you just because I feel guilty. I've been apologizing because you feel bad and deserve so much more than everything always taken away from you."
Regina furrowed her brow. The anger in her expression was hardly visible, and she looked somewhat puzzled. Emma half expected Regina to make a remark about her trying to take Henry away from the brunette, but it never came, so she decided to continue.
"I was in a similar situation once before with someone who was important to me, but I pushed her away because she lied to me. She asked me to forgive her, but I never did. It took some time, but I realized that that was a mistake and I regretted the decision, but by then, it was too late. The damage was already done." Regina looked away and seemed to want to hide behind her hair. Emma told herself to be honest and finish talking so this could be settled once and for all.
"I don't wanna make the same mistake again, Regina. Especially not with someone I love." Regina's eyes left the wall and landed on her again. Emma felt nervous. "As much as I love Henry and my parents, you're the one who understands me. You know what it's like to be rejected and misunderstood. And my magic… Our magic. It works best when we work together. We're both unique, maybe even special."
Emma sighed. Giving an inspirational speech wasn't as easy as Henry's book made it seem. Emma looked at the brunette whose expression she had stopped trying to analyze at this point. That would've just made her more nervous, which said quite a lot because reading people was what she did best. "And even though I've probably made things really uncomfortable between us, I still hope that we could be friends again one day."
"Friends?" left Regina's mouth. Her voice was low and it had lost its earlier might.
"Crazy, right?" Emma laughed. "And since you probably still wanna kill me, being friends isn't likely to be the first thing on your list." Emma sighed and shook her head.
"But yeah, I'm sorry I made things uncomfortable by blurting it out like that. I should probably go. We don't have to talk about this ever again," she assured. "Just know that you matter a lot to me just because you're you. I'm not giving up on you. Not because I feel guilty and want to make myself feel better, but because you're important and you deserve it. Even if you still wanna kill me."
Emma turned on her heel, relieved that her speech was finished and she could now allow herself to run back to the apartment as fast as she could. And hey, at least Regina wasn't killing her right on the spot, so it could've gone worse.
It took Regina a few seconds to react. "Emma, wait," Regina called after her and took a step forward. Emma turned around and took a few steps back to the brunette's direction, not sure what to expect. Regina seemed to be considering her next words with caution.
"I don't want to kill you," Regina admitted, rolling her eyes.
Emma could feel a wide smile breaking over her face. Coming from Regina Mills, that was as good as it could get at that point.
"See?" she said. "That's a start." Emma couldn't stop smiling. Despite her unplanned confession, Regina wasn't lashing out at her, but was actually being nice. Now that Emma thought about it more, Regina was surprisingly calm.
They stood there for a while in awkward silence until Regina spoke again.
"And I guess being friends wouldn't necessarily be impossible."
Emma could feel her smile widen.
"Okay," she replied to the brunette. "I'm glad." She put her hands in the back pockets of her jeans and turned around to leave again. She walked to the staircase and quickly went through the conversation they had just had. She realized there was one more thing she needed to elaborate on. She walked back to the mausoleum.
"Oh, and by the way, I didn't mean that it's an idiotic idea to be in love with you. That's not why I'm an idiot. It's just that because of our situation, it's kind of really inconvenient for me to fall in love with you," she shrugged, sighed and turned back to leave. She didn't look at Regina to see her expression because she was suddenly feeling awfully nervous again. She was so glad this conversation was over.
She had already reached the staircase when she heard a loud what behind her. Emma was confused. She hadn't said anything more shocking now than earlier that evening. She turned around and was faced with a bewildered former Mayor.
"What?" Emma said back.
"You said you were in love with me!" Regina exclaimed, motioning with her hands.
Emma was confused and narrowed her eyes. She had said that before. Why was Regina reacting only now?
"Yeah, I kinda said that when I first walked in…"
"No! You said you loved me. Now you're saying you are in love with me, which, in this realm, would mean romantic love, am I not correct?"
Emma's mouth hung slightly open. Shit. She could've saved herself from this embarrassment if she had only stopped talking when she had been supposed to. Emma had thought Regina had understood her feelings from the beginning of the conversation, but it was now clear that that hadn't been the case.
If she had thought she had been speechless before, she had been wrong. Now was the moment when she had no clue what she should say next.
"Umm, yeah, that's what it means." Emma just wanted to sit down and put her head in her hands, but she managed to keep on standing and almost look Regina in the eye.
"But you're with the pirate," Regina said, narrowing her eyes.
Emma groaned. She couldn't believe she was having this conversation.
"Yeah, well, I still have feelings for you. It's not impossible, you know." She sighed. "You know what? I'll go, and we'll never talk about this again. I'm sorry. I hope we can still be friends. If not, I'll understand that, too. I'm just gonna go now."
Emma turned around again, too afraid to look at Regina. She took a few steps towards the door until the other woman spoke.
"Emma, wait," Regina sighed again.
What? Emma thought. She turned around to face the brunette who suddenly seemed to be uncomfortable, hands in her pockets and not looking directly at her. When Regina opened her mouth, her voice was low and uncertain.
"I don't think it would be impossible for your feelings to be… reciprocated one day." Regina cleared her throat, still not looking at Emma.
Regina's revelation caught Emma completely off guard. She stood there, nonplussed, a smile slowly starting to tug at the corners of her mouth. She couldn't believe Regina had actually said that, but the woman's nervousness seemed genuine enough and Emma couldn't spot any signs of lying.
"Really?" Emma asked anyway.
Regina raised her gaze to meet Emma's, and she seemed mildly annoyed. "I don't like repeating myself, Miss Swan."
Emma laughed. "Okay, okay, sorry." She smiled and nodded. "I'm gonna go now." She couldn't contain her grin anymore. "Good night, Regina."
Regina rolled her eyes at her overjoyed expression. Emma was fairly certain that Regina wanted to smile too, but she had already shown enough feelings for one evening.
"Good night… Emma."
Emma walked out of the mausoleum, her smile wider than in a long time. She probably looked like a kid who had been promised a trip to Disneyland, but she couldn't stop. Yeah, she thought. That's definitely a start.