Regina studied the Easter Lily on her desk: it stood upright and alert in a small navy blue pot made of glass. She had checked for a note and found a folded up piece of paper that was torn at two of the edges. Written on it was ‘Have a great day’ in untidy scrawl. The handwriting seemed familiar, but try as she might, she couldn’t place it.
She folded the piece of paper again, set it down on her desk and left her office. The receptionist glanced up when Regina entered the lobby.
“Did anyone come in this morning with lilies?” Regina asked. The receptionist shook her head. Regina frowned. The receptionist was the first one in the buildings in the mornings. She typically arrived half an hour before Regina did and unlocked the building. If she hadn’t seen anyone, then whoever had given her those lilies had to have broken in. But there wasn’t any sign of a forced entry.
Perhaps it was the receptionist? She considered this as she headed back to her office. She entered it, closed the door, and stared at the Easter lilies. They complemented the decor of her office beautifully. She sat at her desk, neatly unfolded the note and traced the letters of the note with her gaze, wondering where she had seen this handwriting before.
It couldn’t be her receptionist, she decided, remembering the pride her receptionist took in her penmanship. Regina admired the neat, precise, and careful calligraphy the receptionist used to sign her name on official documents, memos, and notes. Surely if she were going to write a note, she would use her practiced penmanship and not a hasty scribble?
Regina tucked the note into her pocket. Frowning, she moved the vase to the corner of her desk.
“Nice flowers,” Emma said, hands in her pockets and Sheriff badge clipped to her belt.
“Yes,” Regina said, “they’re quite beautiful.” She sat down and watched Emma stand in front of her desk. “Why did you wish to speak with me?”
“We need more money in the Police Department’s budget.” Emma’s eyes kept flicking to the lilies on either end of Regina’s desk. A second note was tucked in Regina’s jacket pocket. “I need a Deputy. I need some more officers.”
“I’m sure you’re doing fine,” Regina said.
“Have you not noticed that it’s just me at the police station?” Emma raised her eyebrows. “I thought you knew everything that went on in this town.”
“I do. But Graham got along very well on his own.” Regina lowered her eyes to the papers in front of her. “We’re done here.” Emma groaned in exasperation. Glancing at the lilies on her desk, Regina said, “Actually, Miss Swan, there is something you can do for me. Someone has been breaking into my office in the mornings. I would like for you to find out who this person is.”
“Have you watched the security tapes?”
“Of course I have, Miss Swan.” Regina signed her name at the bottom of a document approving additional funds for the Fire Department. “The tapes were erased, covering the intruder’s tracks.”
“Did they take anything?”
“Did they damage anything?”
“No,” Regina said and signed off on another document.
Emma sighed. “Then what are you so worried about? How do you even know anyone was in here?”
Regina glared at Emma. “I care because someone is breaking and entering, which is against the law. I expect you to do your job, Sheriff. Or are you incapable of doing even that much?”
Emma frowned. “Fine. I’ll look into it.”
“See that you do,” Regina said and returned to her paperwork, clearly dismissing Emma.
Four days later, Regina thought perhaps it was time to take action herself. In the past four days, the lilies had been placed on her doorstep instead of her office, and she was annoyed. The first pot of lilies that was on her doorstep came with a note that read 'Sorry I broke into your office, it was wrong'. For some reason, the apology annoyed her - for more than one reason. Something gnawed at the back of her mind. Like the scrawl each note was written in, she felt as though she should know who was sending her these flowers.
She frowned. Emma had, so far, been useless when it came to finding who had been sending her the flowers (not that she thought Emma cared at all who broke into her office), but the person had made a mistake: there was only one flower shop and nursery in Storybrooke. It would be fairly simple to walk in and ask who had been buying large quantities of Easter lilies.
Now in a better mood, she waited by her car to take Henry to school.
Regina wasn’t sure how or why it occurred to her, but as she watched Henry enter the school, she remembered where she knew that untidy scrawl from. It was Emma’s. Regina drove home in a daze, called in that she would be working from home, and thought it over.
While Emma’s handwriting certainly was as untidy as that on the notes, there was more than that. It had been the day after Regina told Emma to find who had been breaking into her office that the lilies appeared on her doorstep. The note, the one that apologized for breaking into her office, was another piece of evidence. And why did Emma comment on the lilies? Emma wasn’t usually one for small talk.
Regina smirked, resolving to catch Emma red-handed.
When Regina flicked on the foyer light and opened the front door at 3AM, causing light to spill out onto the front steps and make Emma throw a hand up to cover her face, she felt a thrill of triumphant at being right. But there was also something else that she hadn’t been expecting - a different emotion that she couldn’t quite place.
“Miss Swan,” Regina said, smirking, “what are you doing here so late?” She followed Emma’s outstretched arms down to the pot of Easter lilies she held in her hands.
“I was...” Emma stared, eyes wide and startled. She shrugged helpless and held the flowers out to Regina. Regina lowered her gaze to the lilies and then brought it back up to Emma’s face. She made no move to take the flower pot. Emma pulled her arms back, holding the pot close to her chest. “I was just... Never mind.” She spun around and hurried toward the street.
“Miss Swan,” Regina called. Emma halted but didn’t turn around. “It seems we have some things to discuss. Why don’t you come inside?” Emma hesitated before seeming to realize that wasn’t really a question and slunk inside, skirting around Regina as she passed through the doorway. She slipped something out of the flower pot, crumpled it in her hand, and stuffed it in the pocket of her blue leather jacket.
Regina poured herself a glass of apple cider, studying Emma who stared blankly at the dark liquid in her own glass. She sat down on the opposite couch, facing Emma, and took a long slip from her glass. Then she set it down on the coffee table between them.
“Now, Miss Swan, would you care to explain why you’ve been breaking into my office?”
Emma frowned. “It was only two days. And I said I was sorry.”
Regina pulled a folded piece of paper out of her pocket. “You mean this little note?” Regina shook her head. “Really, I expected better behavior from the Sheriff.”
“Look, I wanted to do something nice for you,” Emma said, glaring at Regina, “but I knew you wouldn’t accept it if you knew it came from me. I just thought you would appreciate a nice gesture.”
Regina did appreciate the lilies. She liked them even more after she had figured out that it was Emma sending her the flowers, although she had decided she didn’t want to examine that fact too closely. There were a million responses to Emma’s confession, but she settled on, “Why?”
Emma shrugged, staring at her glass again. She reminded Regina of Henry. “I just... I want us to stop all the fighting. I want us to be able to get along for Henry’s sake. He’s getting hurt by our fighting.”
Regina sensed this wasn’t all there was to Emma’s reasoning, or even Emma’s main motive, but she decided she would let Emma confirm her suspicions in time. Three-thirty in the morning wasn’t the appropriate time to have a discussion about feelings and relationships anyway.
“Well, I did appreciate them. They were very beautiful,” Regina said. She took another sip of her drink. “Very well. But we’ll have to set down some ground rules first.” She placed her cup on the coffee table. “Henry is still my son, Miss Swan.”
Emma opened her mouth, closed it, and then said, “Of course.”
Regina eyed her for a moment. She took a deep breath. “You’re not his mother. I am. Is that understood?”
“Yes,” Emma said. She didn’t seem pleased, but Regina didn’t care.
“Very well, then,” Regina said. “Would you care to meet over breakfast tomorrow? We’ll discuss the police budget and getting you a Deputy.”
Emma smiled. “Sounds good.”