"I am never going to figure this out," Emma picked herself up from the ground for the hundredth time, dusting off her leathers and staring up into the face of the bay horse sniffing around her hips. The horse master at the royal stables said he had given her the most docile horse available to ride. Turning, she realized she could only just see the turret tops of White Castle.
Refusing to be embarrassed in front of either her son or her parents, Emma had taken to daily rides alone. She'd finally managed well enough to take a horse at a walking pace outside the bailey walls, gripping the prominent war pommel white-knuckled, but she'd done it. She had been trying to learn to steady her balance and increase the horse's speed.
But it had been almost a month and she was no closer to staying astride for more than a few steps than she had been the first day when James, her father, hoisted her up in the saddle, promising she would take to it "like a native."
She wasn't a native, far from it. Emma felt more and more disconnected from this world without running water or electricity every day that passed. What she wouldn't give for a simple scooter!
She wrestled with the stirrup and managed to get her foot into it before the horse sidestepped, and she fell with a thump onto her back. Her booted foot remained caught in the stirrup. She groaned and started to reach to loose herself.
"Having difficulties, Miss Swan?"
From her position on the ground, Emma's gaze snapped over her shoulder as she pushed up onto her elbows. She was staring upside down at a leather-clad Regina Mills astride a gorgeous and big black stallion. Black gloved hands negligently held the reins across the horse's withers. She could see the stallion's breaths puffing his nostrils wide and his sides were heaving slightly. The woman's riding boot was knee high and snugly fit to her calf. From there, Emma traced up a leather-clad leg and took in the woman's riding outfit. She wore a mix of red and black leather which accentuated each curve to perfection and the elegant hat atop her black hair, which she still wore in the short familiar style of her Storybrooke days, with its crimson feather made the cream color of her skin even more apparent. Brown eyes and the inquisitive twitch upward of a dark brow captured Emma's gaze.
As casually as possible, Emma asked, "What brings you by?" While talking, she managed to separate her boot from the stirrup and stagger to her feet. Even from this new vantage she could see the former queen sat her horse with ease.
Regina waved a gloved hand. "Just taking in the beauty of the morning," she said, her tone casual, her gaze studying Emma with what could only be called lazy interest.
Emma boldly stepped up to the black horse, laying a hand on its withers, near but not touching gloved hands nor reins, as she looked up to meet dark brown eyes. "Is that so?"
Regina's deeply red lips quirked. Not quite a smile, but Emma hadn't really tried to cause one. Yet.
"You seem rather far from home, princess," Regina said.
"Needed some space," Emma replied. She wasn't about to tell this woman that the whole reason she was determined to learn to ride, and do so alone was so that she could set out to find out what Regina had done with herself since the Oz-like cyclone had swept them all back here. No one else in White Castle cared, and Emma had worried when days, then weeks, passed, and Regina had not been reported seen or heard from by any of the forest scouts.
"Well, then I shall leave you to your solitude." Regina lifted her hand and gave the slightest twitch to her wrist. Under her expert guidance the horse stepped away from Emma and began to turn back in the direction from which Regina had come.
"Regina!" Emma called toward the woman's back. The horse stopped, but neither it nor its rider turned. Emma took a breath. Gently she added, "Henry's all right."
There was a tiny twitch of the horse's tail. Emma looked up. Maybe she imagined it, but Regina's back looked a little stiffer.
"He misses you."
The horse's right rear foot shifted on the ground. But Regina still did not turn.
Emma's gaze traced up the regally straight back. "I... Are you all right?"
"The Blue Fairy has seen fit to erect wards around my land, protecting me in ways she did not when I was last here," Regina stated, her voice devoid of any emotion that Emma could discern.
"Wards? Does that mean you can't get down off your horse here?"
Regina turned and her face registered absurdity. "You really have no idea how anything works here, do you?"
"Everyone expects I already know!" Emma retorted.
Regina turned her horse around once again then dismounted, dropping with easy balance to her boots on the grass. Holding the reins in one hand, she closed the distance to stand before Emma, who looked at her with a plea plain in her gaze.
"I could teach you to ride," Regina said.
"Because the challenge intrigues me."
"I'm a challenge to you?"
"You always were, dear."
The deadpan delivery made Emma laugh. Regina simply stood quietly. "All right. Fine. So, where do I start?"
"Let me help you mount."
"You gonna throw me over the back so I land on my head on the other side?"
"Are you willing to take the chance?" Regina held her gaze.
Emma desperately wanted to learn to ride. Henry had taken to the skill like he was born to it. Emma was seriously feeling out of her element. Just maybe conquering this basic skill would settle some of her other issues.
But to trust Regina?
Searching her feelings, Emma knew that she did. She hadn't wanted to look for Regina just for Henry's sake, but for her own. She'd missed her. She always felt they had been on the brink of... something in Storybrooke, but circumstances being what they were...
She had come out here seeking Regina and, piecing together the evidence, she realized Regina had been coming out to find her, having spurred her horse when Emma fell. Maybe they did both want the same thing.
She felt the corners of her lips tilt up as she searched the dark brown gaze. "Yeah. Yeah, I am."
"All right." Regina moved alongside her stallion's withers looking toward his hindquarters and cupped her hands, interlacing her fingers. "Grab the pommel and put your outside foot here."
Emma knew this part. However as she started to launch herself, Regina unlaced her hands, causing Emma to nose forward almost slamming face first into the saddle. "Hey!"
"No. Don't kick off the ground. Pull yourself up with your arms. You'll have more control."
Emma nodded. "All right. Let me try again."
This time she found herself at waist height leaning over the saddle with Regina leveraging her left foot. "Once your hips are clear," Regina instructed, "slide your right leg over the saddle." Emma felt the pull in her thighs and the strain on her shoulders, but in another moment she was sitting astride Regina's stallion, holding the pommel.
Regina grasped the reins, a fistful of mane, and the back curve of the saddle before lifting and settling herself in a single smooth motion behind Emma.
Emma felt Regina's thighs press against the backs of her legs and the cradle of the brunette's hips slide firmly against her rear. "Hey, I thought you were going to teach me to ride?"
"I am teaching you." Regina adjusted her seating. Their intimate proximity caused Emma's hips to cant forward, under her back, aligning her spine. "Riding is all about balance. Find yours by finding the horse's center of balance and going with it, not fighting it."
"Well, it's all well and good right now. We haven't started moving," Emma countered, still gripping the pommel tightly.
"We'll get to that. Let go of the pommel. Take the reins." Regina's arms lifted around Emma, bringing the reins near Emma's hands. The move felt surprisingly like a reassuring hug.
Emma turned her head, catching Regina's eye over her shoulder. The brunette gave a small nod. Emma looked down as she lifted her hands from the pommel and moved them quickly to the reins, shifting over Regina's gloved hands.
The woman's breath slid across her ear, causing a shiver down Emma's spine as she adjusted their mutual hold so that Emma's hands were inside, on the reins, and Regina's were outside, simply cupping the backs of Emma's hands. The black leather was soft and warm and the reins felt rough against her palms. "There you go," Regina said, her breath once again whispering across the nape of Emma's neck.
"Now what?" Emma asked.
"Eyes front, look between the horse's ears. Gently turn your right wrist outward. See his right ear twitch?" Regina added as she felt Emma's hand do as instructed.
"Now, relax that hand, and twitch the left outward."
"His left ear twitched."
"There you go, you're communicating. With a well-trained horse there is no need to yank them around," Regina said. "Using gentle motions should be more than enough, and that includes your legs."
Regina put her feet to the outside of Emma's causing her legs to align with the blonde's. "To move directly forward, squeeze with equal pressure slowly with your thighs." She demonstrated, pushing Emma's thighs with her own.
God the woman's legs were strong, Emma thought. The horse started walking. This part she understood.
But Regina wasn't done. Emma's back had slid out of alignment. Releasing one of Emma's hands, the former queen splayed her palm across Emma's abdomen over the thin linen of her shirt. The touch startled Emma, but the firm hand shoved Emma easily back into the cradle of Regina's pelvis, until she felt the woman's breasts against her back and the heat of her belly against her rear. "Keep yourself tucked in, Miss Swan."
Hot moist air moving against her ear, warm body at her back, the motion of the horse between her thighs, and Regina's hand still spread wide against her stomach all conspired to make Emma breathless. "Got it."
"Now, let's move the lesson along, shall we?" Regina said. "Guide Volare left." Emma gave a twist of her left hand. The horse immediately responded, its left shoulder dipping as it stepped into the turning motion. She felt the sensation of its center of balance shifting and stiffened up, afraid to fall. Regina's palm in her stomach moved slightly, completely distracting Emma and suddenly she felt she was no longer sliding off. "Feel how the shift changed the position of your hips? Don't stiffen against it. Let it happen."
Regina directed Emma to twitch her right hand. The horse stepped into a right turn. Again Regina's arm and palm across her abdomen kept Emma in place. Back and forth they turned and walked. Emma began to feel each shift of the horse's balance and resist her inclination to stiffen. The sensation began to feel a bit like swinging, as though she wasn't so much riding as gliding over the ground. A smile curved her lips.
She felt something gently brush against her nape only to realize it was Regina's mouth. The brunette woman had just kissed her neck! Her pulse sped up. She started to move her right hand off the reins to cup Regina's against her waist.
The motion caused a tug on the reins and the horse made an unexpected right turn. Regina's hand left Emma's stomach and one hand grasped her thigh while the other caught the reins. "Hold," she said firmly and her legs slipped under Emma's, lessening the pressure exerted on the horse's sides.
"Sorry," Emma said.
Leaning into Emma's back, Regina returned her hand to Emma's stomach, setting off the butterflies again. "Nothing to apologize for," she murmured into Emma's hair. "Unless my... touch is unwelcome?"
Caught in a haze of sensation, Emma shook her head. "It's not."
Regina's lips returned to Emma's nape, slipping up to Emma's ear. "I'm very glad to hear that." Her splayed palm circled on Emma's stomach and Emma realized the tail of her shirt was pulling free of her pants.
"Shouldn't we... get down?" Emma murmured; Regina's mouth was nibbling at the soft skin of her ear, making speech, much less thought, more difficult.
"Relax. I won't let you fall," Regina murmured. Her fingers slipped beneath Emma's now loosened shirt, warm leather soothing against bare skin for the first time.
While she was talking, Regina had continued the soft circulations with her fingers, causing delicious tremors up and down Emma's spine which resonated deep into her sex. The blond head tilted back, resting against Regina's shoulder. "Oh god," she breathed.
The horse had begun moving again; the gliding motion was quickly back, and Regina's hand slipped slowly under the waistband of Emma's riding pants. A leather-covered finger slid through the hair covering Emma's mound and she sighed at the sensation, receiving a kiss to the underside of her jaw.
Quickly the leather-tipped finger became moist as it spread lower lips and slipped inside intimate folds. The friction from the motion quickly brought Emma to the edge. With the heel of Regina's hand rocking against her clit and one finger curling inside on each stroke, she could feel the crest of her orgasm building higher and higher just out of reach. She moaned, turning her head and kissing Regina's throat. Her kisses moved to Regina's chin as the brunette dropped her chin before meeting Emma's mouth in an open kiss. One finger became two, and Emma breathed her moans onto Regina's tongue.
The horse's motion changed underneath Emma, and she felt the wind increase its cool touches against her face. Regina's fingers within her matched the gliding motion. Without warning Emma's orgasm crested, crashing through her and sending undulating waves outward from where Regina stroked to each of her limbs and up through her chest where they vibrated from her throat in a series of increasing cries, all timed to Regina's strokes.
All motion gradually slowed, and Emma's cries diminished to soft moans. She lifted her arm and dazedly found the back of Regina's head, pulling the woman's mouth to hers for a deep kiss that left them both gasping for breath upon release.
She rested her forehead against Regina's cheek as she felt Regina's fingertips slowly withdrawing.
"Oh my god," Emma breathed. "Can I do that to you?"
Regina's chuckle was deep, vibrating in her chest behind Emma's shoulder blades. "Maybe after a few more lessons, princess."