Emma took one look at the sky before grabbing her bag and opening the Bug’s door. Slamming it behind her, she ran up the garden path as fast as she could, a couple of raindrops falling on her before she made it to the front porch and the skies opened up behind her.
She supposes that she really shouldn’t be surprised. It’s Maine, after all.
The door in front of her opens suddenly, and a warmth that has nothing to do with the thought of being inside arises in her.
“Did you get caught?” Regina asks.
“By my parents or the rain?” Emma jokes, and Regina rolls her eyes, standing to the side of the door to let her in.
“I know that they know you were coming over tonight,” Regina tells her, taking the shopping bag of food and presents as Emma struggles out of her coat. “I think they were glad for some alone time.”
Emma makes a face at her. “Have you forgotten that they’re my parents? I was trying not to think about that.”
“One could hardly forget,” Regina tells her.
“It’s not all bad, I suppose. I did inherit these awesome biceps and abs,” she says, flexing her arms.
Regina just rolls her eyes and leads the way to the kitchen.
Once they’re in the kitchen Regina offers her a mug of hot cider, which Emma gratefully accepts, sipping the warm drink to find that Regina has added a hint of spice to her ordinarily delicious cider, making it even better.
“This is incredible.”
“Thanks,” Regina says. “It’s just cinnamon, cloves, some citrus peel and a little bit of maple syrup.”
“Yeah, but with your apple cider, it’s a drink for gods. Or a queen,” she amends with a grin, and Regina smirks back.
“Now, what’s for dinner?”
“You’re expecting dinner too, Swan?”
“You’re not so old to forget that I ‘can’t cook to the level a Christmas dinner needs to be’.”
“If you can remember to the word what I said then you’ll recall that at the time I was praising your cooking,” Regina tells her scathingly, and turns to open the oven door.
Emma tries not to look at the brunette’s ass, but it’s difficult, the way she bends over.
“The lamb is almost done,” Regina continues. “You could help by finishing the salad chopping, though.”
Emma complies, and picks up the knife by the tomatoes still sitting on the bench from where Regina must have left them to answer the door. “How much do you want me to do?”
“Not a whole lot, I think a light dinner is the way to go tonight. Tomorrow’s will be rather large, after all.”
Emma chances a look, but Regina is busy sticking a knife into the roast.
“Isn’t that quite a bit of meat for ‘a light dinner’?”
Regina turns to her now and raises her eyebrows. “Do you really think that Henry won’t be happy to eat the leftovers when he arrives tomorrow? He’s inherited your appetite, after all.”
Emma opens her mouth to protest, but there’s nothing untruthful about the statement, so she shuts it again and goes back to chopping tomatoes.
Soon, she’s finished with the salad, and Regina pronounces both the lamb and the roast potatoes done, so they serve up and sit down at the kitchen bench.
“Henry is not to know that we ate dinner here instead of at the table,” Regina warns before they start, and it is only with Emma’s solemn promise not to blab that they eat.
The first few minutes they spend in silence, until Emma sighs, making Regina look over at her. “There’s only one problem with this meal,” she says.
“What?” Regina asks worriedly.
“I’m afraid that it’s ruined tomorrow’s meal for me.”
This makes Regina smile. “Your parents aren’t so terrible cooks.”
“Such high praise!”
“Oh, just eat.”
It doesn’t take long for them to clear their plates, even though Emma sneaks a few extra potatoes when she thinks Regina isn’t looking, but then one of them is stolen less than a minute later, so she supposes that she didn’t succeed.
“You know that there’s dessert, right?” Regina asks once she’s swallowed the potato, and Emma can’t help but groan. Regina is the worst.
It’s apple turnover, of course, which Regina is bringing to Christmas dinner tomorrow. Once they’ve eaten a slice each, Emma puts it in a container, and labels it ‘Definitely Not Cursed’. It’s been long enough that Henry will find it hilarious. (She does, anyway).
Regina refills their glasses with cider as Emma puts away their dishes. “Just let the roasting dish soak for now. I can tidy it up later.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah, it’s fine.”
“You’re not just trying to get rid of me?” she teases, and Regina looks contemplative.
“Actually, that’s not a bad idea-“
“Not happening,” Emma says, picking up her glass of cider and making a beeline for the comfortable couch in the living room. “You’re stuck with me.”
Regina follows her, toeing off her shoes before sitting down on the couch too, curling her legs up beside her. “I know. It’s a terrible hardship, but one I have to live with.”
Years ago that would have hurt, but there’s a warmth in her smile, and a mischievous glint in her eye. Regina is so different to how she was when they first met, has been for a long time now. They’ve truly become a family, Regina and Henry and her; a strange one, maybe, but their lives are strange, and she loves them both too much to have it any other way.
The whole love thing isn’t recent either, only getting stronger as the years go by, as Henry grew older and they all grew closer. And then Henry had gone off to college and she and Regina had spent just as much time together.
“Have I got something on my face?”
At Regina’s words she starts and realises that she’s been staring. Flustered, she says, “No, your face is perfect,” then inwardly curses and looks away to examine the room.
“There’s less decoration than usual, right?”
“Usually Henry helps, and it didn’t feel right putting them all up without him.”
“So you’re going to get him to put the rest of them up? On Christmas Day?” She gestures toward the tree in the corner. “Even the star for the top of the tree.”
Regina mumbles something, and Emma has to lean in close to catch the end - “…find the stepping stool.”
She snorts so hard that she almost spills her cider. “Wait, you couldn’t reach it?”
“Oh, shut up, Swan,” Regina says, and rescues the glass before Emma drops it in the midst of her laughter.
“You couldn’t even magic it up there?”
“It’s difficult to get it perfect,” Regina snaps. “I’d like to see you try.” She gestures to the star sitting on the mantelpiece nearby.
Emma is fully aware that she still doesn’t have the fine control to get it in place with magic, especially almost three glasses into Regina’s cider, so instead she stands up – a little unsteady – and walks to the ornament.
“Oh, you’re not that much taller than me, Emma,” Regina complains.
She continues on her way if only to spite the brunette. Reaching the tree, she stretches up onto her toes, trying to get the star to the top branch. It’s an annoyingly tall tree, she finds, a real one, all pine-smelling, and she has to resort to jumping up and down.
“You’re going to knock it down,” Regina calls.
“It’ll be fine,” she replies, jumping up once more, only this time slightly too close to the tree-
Something knocks her down, and there’s a wobble of green above her, making her throw out an arm. The automatic response of magic stablilises the tree, probably mostly due to Regina’s help, who Emma realises is lying on top of her.
“You’re an idiot,” Regina tells her plainly, frowning down at her.
“I know.” She wants to smooth out Regina’s brow, make her smile, but the equally strong urge to kiss her keeps getting in the way, so she says, “I am my parents’ daughter, after all,” and pushes herself up onto her elbows.
There’s a second where Regina is slow in responding and stays where she is, their faces close, but then she sits up, still sort of straddling Emma, and places a palm to the side of her face.
“Are you okay? You didn’t hit your head?”
The tender touch flusters Emma, and she sits up completely, almost knocking their heads together in her haste. “I’m fine, don’t worry.”
“At the very least you should sober up a little,” Regina reprimands. “You’re quite flushed.”
As if it’s anything to do with the alcohol, she wants to say, but opts with, “You’re the one who kept pouring it out.”
Regina sighs and moves to the side, off of Emma, and stands, reaching a hand down to help her up. Emma takes it, finds herself face to face with Regina again and decides that yes, she needs to stop drinking before she does something that will ruin their relationship.
But Regina is just so lovely, so gorgeous and clever and good to her. Every second she’s here she falls a little more in love.
“Come and sit down again,” Regina says, tugging at the hand she’s still holding. “You’ll need to sober up if you’re going to drive home any time in the near future.”
Emma is settled on the couch before Regina lets go of her hand and moves off again, but she’s back again a couple of moments later with a blanket.
“It’s starting to get a bit chilly in here, isn’t it.”
“I suppose,” Emma says. “But there’s the fire, and you can always…” She mimics Regina’s fireball tossing motion, but Regina just makes a scrunched up sort of face and sits down with her, pulling part of the blanket over her as well.
“That’s true, but I’m not exactly sober myself, and I don’t really want to burn the house down the night before our son arrives home.”
Emma can’t help but laugh at that. “True. He’d probably be a little annoyed.”
Regina laughs too. “A little? Do you remember-“
And then they’re reminiscing, laughing at the past, even the parts that weren’t particularly amusing at the time.
When Emma next glances at the clock she sees how late it is. “I should probably head off,” she says reluctantly.
“Of course,” Regina says. “You’re always up ridiculously early for Christmas.”
“It’s a fun day!” Emma protests. It’s difficult to leave the couch where her feet have become tangled with Regina’s under the warmth of the blanket, but she eventually manages.
“You usually have trouble waking by seven, but on Christmas you’re bright-eyed and bushy tailed by five.”
“Shush.” In the entranceway Emma pulls on her shoes and jacket. “I’ve left some of Henry’s presents in the bag in your kitchen, he’ll be coming here first, right?”
“Yes, he said he should get here around ten.” There’s a soft smile on Regina’s face, and Emma wishes that she could inspire that kind of look.
“I’ll probably come around ten thirty, if that’s okay?”
“That sounds good. You’re welcome earlier if you want.”
She is so tempted to take Regina up on that offer. Instead, she says, “I’d better get going.”
There’s a few moments where neither of them move, but then Emma reaches for the door handle, desperate to get out of there before she does something stupid. “I’ll see you tomorrow then.”
“Tomorrow,” Regina says with a nod.
Emma pulls open the door and is immediately met with an icy blast. “Jesus-“ She steps out onto the porch, turns to smile wanly at Regina, because it’s fucking freezing, but the other woman is right in front of her, grabbing her arm and pulling her back inside and into an embrace.
The door slams, but Emma just concentrates on the feeling of Regina’s arms around her.
“It’s freezing out there, you won’t make it home without killing yourself.”
“It’s not that bad-“ - it totally is - “-I’ll be fine.”
“Emma, I mean that it is literally freezing. It’s snowing. My path is probably iced over, and the roads are going to be worse.”
“And your apartment’s heating is shit.”
This is true.
“Look, stay here tonight, and you can see Henry as soon as he gets here in the morning.”
She really shouldn’t. Spend the night at Regina’s house? Something she has never done without Henry also there? On Christmas Eve?
Emma smiles. “That would be great.”
Regina smiles back. “Time for more cider, then?”
They’re more than a little tipsy by the time Emma follows Regina into the kitchen to get another cup of cider.
While their mugs are heating up in the microwave (Regina doesn’t trust either of them with the stove right now), Emma looks around the kitchen. She’s spent a lot of time here, chatting to Regina and Henry as they make dinner together, sneaking cookies to Henry while his Mom is busy, and making them all hot chocolates.
Nothing has changed, just updated kitchen equipment, and-
“Is that mistletoe?”
Regina spins, looks towards where her finger is pointing at the green sprig of foliage above the doorway.
“Yes, Belle thought it might do me some good.”
Emma giggles, then claps a hand over her mouth. The sheriff doesn’t giggle.
“Oh, shut up, Emma. You need it more than me.”
“How dare- yeah. You’re right,” she says, and walks back to the doorway to stand under the plant. Closing her eyes, she wishes.
“What are you doing?”
“Wishing,” she says, eyes still tightly shut.
“You do realise that that’s stars, not mistletoe?”
“Good point.” In the hallway outside there’s a window, but the clouds and falling snow block out the night sky, and there are no visible stars to wish on. “A pity,” she calls to Regina. “The snow is nice though-“
In the doorway she runs into her, and she immediately reaches out to grasp Regina by the waist to keep them both from toppling over.
“Sorry,” she begins, but Regina’s gaze is upwards, and Emma realises that she’s looking up at the mistletoe above them.
After a few moments, Regina’s eyes meet hers, hypnotising, and she says, “I guess mistletoe is for wishing after all.”
And Regina’s hands are coming up to cup her face and she is being kissed.
She’s so completely unprepared for this that it takes her a few seconds to respond, and by then it’s over and Regina is pulling away and Emma has to draw her closer and kiss her again.
“I’m sorry,” she begins to say as they part a second time, but Regina has her face in her hands again and kisses her shortly, once, twice, three times.
“You didn’t kiss back at first-“
“There’s nothing I would like to do more than kiss you for the rest of my life,” Emma gabbles, and there’s a moment of silence before Regina laughs.
“Good,” she says, and kisses her again.
Henry takes care to be quiet as he unlocks the door to the house on Mifflin. He’d been able to change his flight to a slightly earlier one at very short notice, and figured that it would be a pretty good Christmas surprise for his mothers. Ruby had been happy to pick him up from the Portland airport and drive him back to Storybrooke.
Hopefully his Mom wouldn’t be too upset about being woken up early as long as it was him.
He leaves his bags in the entrance way and heads straight up the stairs. His Mom’s bedroom door doesn’t creak like it used to – Emma must have fixed it – but even in the dim early morning light filtering through the curtains he can tell that she isn’t in here, her bed perfectly made up, as if she never even slept in it.
Puzzled, he makes his way back downstairs. He considers checking the kitchen, but he can’t think of any reason why she’d be in there at this time of morning. The living room is the place to look, and he is rewarded immediately upon entering with the sight of two glasses on the coffee table.
And then a snore from the large modular couch.
His Mom doesn’t snore.
Creeping silently around to see past the back of the couch, he sees one dark and one blonde head poking out from a blanket.
His Mom’s head is tucked into the curve of his other mother’s neck, while Emma’s arm – thankfully clothed – is resting over Regina’s waist.
As he watches, Emma gives a snuffle and tightens her arm around his Mom, who turns more into Emma’s chest and smiles.
He doesn’t know if he’s ever seen them look so peacefully happy, so he just smiles down at them and sneaks back out.
They’ll all be together for Christmas this year, and there’s nothing more he could have wished for.