When Henry first mentioned it, Zelena didn’t really take much notice. Or rather, she just didn’t care.
But after that one innocent comment from the boy she started to see things. Just little things. But it all added up to one conclusion; Henry was right.
Emma and Regina never touched. Not once.
Despite supposedly being the best of friends they never hugged, they never even gave each other supportive pats on the back, or shoulder, or any of the million other little ways people who were comfortable around each other touched each other.
But any time there was danger Emma was right there, her hand hovering behind Regina’s back. Never touching of course, just there. Zelena had no idea if Regina even knew or not.
Whenever they talked they held eye contact for so long it was almost obscene. It was like they were continuing their own private conversation, spoken only through their eyes.
It wasn’t that either of them seemed particularly averse to physical contact though. They both showered Henry with affection of course, and even Snow got hugs out of both of them (although Regina’s face during those hugs was truly a sight to behold).
The one and only exception to their apparent ‘no-touching’ rule, Zelena observed, seemed to be when it involved Henry.
Zelena watched in fascination as both Emma and Regina enveloped Henry in a hug, and Regina’s fingers brushed through Henry’s hair, then Emma’s, in a way that couldn’t possibly be accidental.
Or when Emma’s hand came to rest over Regina’s on Henry’s back, her thumb brushing lightly over Regina’s fingers. (The eye contact after that one had lasted so long that Zelena had thought for a moment that someone had frozen them with magic.)
It was sickening. They were so obviously, disgustingly, in love and yet apparently neither one of them was doing anything about it.
Zelena could only conclude that this whole ‘no-touching’ thing was because the unresolved sexual tension between them had reached such monumental proportions that if they ever were to come into contact with each other they would end up having sex right there and then, wherever they happened to be… Which of course sounded like it would be terribly amusing, so Zelena decided that it was a theory worth testing out. And what better, more public, place to do so than at the Christmas party at Granny’s?
It was perfect.
By the time December 18th arrived Zelena had formulated her plan to perfection. She had enlisted the aid of Henry, who was more than happy to help, and together they had worked out how best to achieve their goal. (Zelena categorically refused to call it by the ridiculous name that Henry insisted on. Operation True-Love-Touch. Really, the child was too innocent for his own good.)
Zelena sat in a corner booth at Granny's sipping her drink, confident that no one would attempt to talk to the Wicked Witch, and observed the party.
Snow and Charming were fussing over Emma, as they often did, and Zelena had to resist the urge to send them flying. But the plan would be ruined if Emma or Regina suspected anything was going on, so her only option was to wait.
After a good half an hour or so the Charmings finally left their daughter alone and, unsurprisingly, Regina appeared moments later to no doubt flirt shamelessly through the medium of extreme sarcasm.
Zelena rolled her eyes, but recognised that this was probably the perfect moment to act.
With a wave of her fingers a sprig of mistletoe appeared above their heads in a puff of green smoke.
Zelena smirked and leaned back in her chair. Now it was just a case of waiting for them to notice it.
But patience had never particularly been her strong suit, and after ten minutes of the idiots not looking anywhere but deep within each other’s eyes, Zelena was forced to admit that there may have been a small flaw in her plan.
With a sigh she sauntered over to the pair.
“Gina! Emma! How wonderful to see you two talking to each other for a change…”
Zelena chuckled to herself at Regina’s glare, she would never get tired of annoying her sister. Emma on the other hand smiled genuinely. She’d always been the champion of giving Zelena a chance to redeem herself, and although she’d never admit it to her, Zelena was grateful for that.
“What do you want, Zelena?” Regina said with a sigh, and Zelena was almost offended at the lack of anger or fear.
“Just to wish my little sister and her best gal-pal a Merry Christmas, that’s all…”
Zelena gasped in mock surprise and pointed above their heads.
“Oh look, mistletoe! How very festive…”
There was a moment, almost in slow-motion, where Emma and Regina looked at each other and Zelena held her breath. This was it. It was going to happen…
But then Emma smirked, and before Zelena could react Emma had leaned over and kissed her on the mouth.
Zelena blinked in surprise. That was definitely not how she had seen this encounter going. Not that it was entirely unwelcome though.
By this point Regina was glaring at her like never before, and honestly if she had known that this would annoy her so much Zelena would have just seduced the Saviour years ago and been done with it. It certainly would have been less effort, and probably more fun, than the whole ‘time portal’ debacle.
Too late for that now though, she had a plan to salvage. Shame. Although it wouldn’t hurt to play a little, she supposed. Jealousy was a fantastic motivator, she knew from experience.
“Well aren’t you full of surprises Saviour,” Zelena murmured, stepping in even closer to Emma. “Although maybe next time try using a bit of tongue...”
She winked at Emma then turned and sauntered away before Regina could hurl a fireball at her, confident that Emma would stop her if she tried.
So much for Plan A. They’d have to come up with a Plan B. Now, where was that child?
After a hushed discussion with Henry, Zelena was confident that Plan B would be more successful.
Unfortunately it involved even more waiting than Plan A had.
After watching Emma and Regina argue for ten minutes (presumably about her little kiss with Emma under the mistletoe), and then flirt for another twenty minutes after they made up, Zelena found her eyes wandering.
When her gaze landed on the mistletoe she’d left hanging above the bar she barked out a laugh at what she saw there. This evening just kept getting better and better. Ruby and Belle were under the mistletoe, kissing in a way that left little to the imagination, and Rumple was stood in the corner of the room glaring at them and looking miserable.
Zelena couldn’t have imagined anything better if she’d tried.
A nudge in the ribs from Henry brought her attention back to her original targets, however.
Regina was walking away from Emma, in the direction of the bathroom. Perfect.
“Shall I go?” Henry asked, already shuffling out of the booth they were sitting in. Zelena grabbed his arm.
“Not yet, give her a few minutes.”
They watched Regina enter the bathroom and after a minute or so Zelena let go of Henry.
“Alright, now you can go. Make it believable Henry.”
Zelena watched as Henry walked over to his mother. She couldn’t hear him but knew he was telling her that Regina wanted to speak with her privately in the bathroom. He was quite a good little actor it turned out, adding just the right amount of worry on his face that had Emma hurrying after Regina.
Henry nodded at her with a smile and Zelena stood and followed behind Emma to the bathroom. As soon as she entered, Zelena waved her hand, closing and locking the door with magic. Being trapped together in an enclosed space was sure to cause a reaction. Possibly not the intended one, but a reaction nonetheless. Either way it was sure to be entertaining.
Zelena listened in amusement to the conversation going on behind the door.
“Regina! Are you alright?”
“Yes, why wouldn’t I be? I am capable of going to the bathroom without you accompanying me, Miss Swan.”
“But Henry said you wanted to talk to me, in private?”
“I did no so such thing.”
There was a pause.
“I think we may be falling victim to another one of Henry’s operations. Try the door, Miss Swan.”
The door handle rattled and Zelena increased the magical protection on it, in case Regina resorted to fireballs.
Sure enough a moment later Emma yelped and the entire door rattled, but didn’t budge.
“Regina! You could have incinerated me!”
“Nonsense, I have good aim.”
“Well, looks like we’re stuck in here then. Why did you think it was Henry though? What operation is he up to now that would involve trapping us together?”
There was another pause, longer this time.
“This is ridiculous.”
Zelena felt the prickle of nearby magic on the back of her neck and realised she’d overlooked one tiny, but rather important, detail – Regina could just poof out of there.
The door continued to rattle behind her.
“Regina? Regina… Come back! Regina! Come on, don’t leave me in here… Regina? Regina!”
Emma, on the other hand, apparently could not…
"Zelena. I should have guessed that you were behind this little stunt. Care to explain yourself?"
Zelena straightened up and turned around slowly. She'd be damned if she was going to admit to her sister that she was actually attempting to help, so blaming the kid it was then.
"Gina, I don't know what you mean. Henry said it was important that I seal this door, and of course I trust my nephew implicitly so I did so without a second thought. Oh! Were you in there? I'm sorry. Now why would Henry want me to lock you in there do you think?"
The anger radiating off Regina in waves was truly delicious.
Just then Emma started another round of banging on the still locked door, and Zelena used the distraction to slip into the crowd as Regina began removing the magic to unlock the door.
That was two plans that had failed now, and if there was one thing Zelena hated, it was failing. It was simply unacceptable. She would just have to try harder.
One hour and several glasses of wine later and Zelena was struggling to come up with a new plan. Henry had disappeared, possibly to go home to bed or something, she had no idea what time it was, so she was on her own.
Emma and Regina were still lost in enraptured conversation, and the longer she watched them the more frustrated she found herself getting. Oblivious idiots.
With minimal swaying considering how much she'd had to drink, she pushed herself to her feet and walked over to Emma and Regina.
Subtlety be damned. This situation called for brute force.
As she walked behind Emma she reached out and gave her a sharp push between the shoulder blades. She took a few more steps and then turned to survey her handiwork.
Emma had, as expected, crashed into Regina and sent them both tumbling to the floor, where they currently remained, Emma on top of Regina, their bodies pressed together and their faces millimetres apart.
If this didn't do the trick, nothing would.
Zelena held her breath. They stayed there like that for so long she thought she might pass out from lack of oxygen. But then Emma placed her hands on either side of Regina's head and pushed herself up, holding out her hand to help Regina up when she had stood. Neither woman said anything, but both were looking incredibly flushed and breathing deeply.
"I give up!" Zelena cried in frustration, and they both turned their heads sharply to look at her.
"You're impossible! What do I have to do to get you to see it? How can two people look at each other the way you do and not be shagging each other senseless?"
Emma went, if it were possible, even redder. Regina, however, smirked and stepped up into Zelena's personal space.
"Oh sis, it's so sweet of you to care. But who says we're not already 'shagging each other senseless', as you so eloquently put it?"
Zelena felt her jaw drop. No… They couldn't be, could they? All that effort. For nothing. She was going to kill Henry… Not literally of course, although it was tempting.
"Come along dear," Regina said, holding her hand out to Emma, who hurried forward and took it but wouldn't look Zelena in the eye.
Zelena watched them leave hand in hand.
Well, she decided, that was the last time she tried to help.
Emma's cheeks burned, both from embarrassment and from the cold air hitting them as Regina dragged her out of the diner by the hand.
Regina had told Zelena that they were sleeping together and Emma's insides were doing somersaults just thinking about it. She really, really, wished that were true.
The warmth of Regina's hand in hers felt like a raging fire, and Emma couldn't stop thinking back to how Regina's body had felt against hers a few moments ago.
As they rounded the corner away from the diner Regina stopped suddenly, turned, and pulled Emma into her by the hand. Before Emma could react Regina's lips were on hers and she gasped into the kiss, which Regina must have taken as invitation to continue because then her tongue was in Emma's mouth and it was everything Emma had ever dreamed of.
When they eventually pulled apart, both breathless and panting, Emma found herself unable to speak. But Regina was looking at her with that expression that she only ever let Emma see, the one that was vulnerable and unsure. So without hesitation Emma brought her free hand up to cup Regina's cheek, and leaned in and kissed her again, slower, softer this time.
This time when the kiss ended they didn't pull apart, but rested their foreheads together. Emma never wanted the contact to end.
"I think I get why Henry had us locked us in the bathroom together now…" Emma chuckled softly, and Regina smiled.
"Do you think we should tell him that his Operation was a success?"
Regina stepped away from Emma, but didn't let go of her hand, and tugged lightly in the direction of her house. Emma smiled at the unspoken invitation and fell into step beside Regina as they walked.
"Well, put it this way," Regina said, "if we don't tell him then his efforts will continue…"
Emma paled at the thought. She didn't even want to imagine the lengths their son might go to in order to get them together if he thought that this evening's schemes hadn't paid off.
"Good point, let's tell him in the morning."
Regina smiled, almost shyly, and squeezed Emma's hand gently.
"I'm sure he'll figure it out by your presence at breakfast…"
Emma felt a rush of heat run through her body at the implication, and judging from Regina's eye-roll she probably had a massive dopey grin on her face right now in response.
Oh yeah, this was going to be a very good night.
Merry Christmas indeed.