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Be the Change

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"But if she gets her heart back, she could be normal. Regina could have a mother. One that could actually love her." Emma said.

"Unfortunately that's not possible. When Cora removed the heart, she also cursed it. So long as it stays out of her chest, she can't be killed. But as soon as it returns to her, she will die." Gold replied.

"Regina?" She called out again quietly when she reached Henry's room. She went back downstairs, her heart beating rapidly now. Maybe she'd just gone to the kitchen to start dinner. Emma clung to the lingering hope like a preserver.

When she opened the door to the kitchen, she halted immediately. Her jaw dropped open and her hands went slick with sweat.

"Holy. Fucking. Shit."

A/N: I don't own Once Upon a Time, it's characters, it's anything, etc.


"Close your mouth, dear. You're drooling."

Emma did as she was told but couldn't wipe the expression of utter, unholy arousal from her face.

Regina was sitting primly on the island counter, her legs crossed at the knees, cutting an apple into neat slices and placing them in a bowl beside her perfectly perched ass. Which would have been painfully tempting in and of itself. Except that wasn't all. It was Regina's choice of outfit that left Emma particularly dumbfounded.

She was wearing her familiar, floral apron – the same one she'd been wearing the night Emma had asked her out – and not much else besides that. The outskirts of a black bra and underwear set peeked out around the apron's edges.

The only other things she wore were a pair of three-inch, black, patent heels and a victorious grin. She met Emma's eyes, pouring lust into her every syllable.

"I believe I promised you a reward."

Emma groaned. Why did the woman have to make what she needed to do so much harder?

"Come over here." Regina purred.

Emma moved on instinct, unable to say anything at the moment. She settled herself in front of the woman's crossed legs, her stomach bumping up against a smooth calf, both of her hands coming to rest safely on the counter's edge.

Regina dropped one last bit of the apple into the bowl and then set the core and knife aside. She was sitting straight up, her posture devastatingly regal, her chest arched forward towards Emma.

"I'm dreadfully hungry. Would you mind assisting me?" Regina asked, not bothering to make the request more specific. She was reasonably sure it would be obvious.

Emma swallowed hard, trying to reclaim a sense of calm. She picked up a piece of apple delicately between her fingers and raised it slowly. She hesitated, unable to close the distance to the red, waiting mouth. Regina leaned forward instead and took the slice on her own. She pushed the apple into her cheek and took Emma's index finger between her lips, sucking at it greedily, locking their eyes.

The blonde finally allowed her free hand to wander over Regina's legs, under the edge of the apron. Regina let them fall open and Emma moved forward, hypnotized by the feeling of Regina's tongue pulling and swirling and sucking at her finger. Regina released the digit with a small pop. She chewed the apple slice in her mouth and swallowed.

"Delicious," she said. She wound her legs around Emma's back as she scooted forward, throwing her arms over the woman's shoulders.

"Shit." Emma thought, wanting desperately, more than anything, to preserve this fantasy. But she couldn't take anything further until she was out with what she had to divulge. She dropped her head. Regina's body sank in response, her legs falling loosely against the counter.

"What's wrong?" She lifted Emma's chin. Emma's fingers toyed with the edge of the apron. Regina blanched. "Did something happen?" Her voice tightened in fear.

"No, not exactly. It's… we should sit somewhere and talk." Emma looked up to meet Regina's eyes with a sad smile.

"So much for surprising you."

Regina couldn't hide the disappointment in her voice nor the fear of what Emma had to say. Emma stepped back and offered a hand to help the woman off the counter, taking her into her arms immediately and brushing stray hairs out of her face.

"That was the best surprise I've ever had. Ever. I just need to talk with you first. And as tempting as you are right now," Emma leaned in and claimed the woman's lips in a deep kiss before continuing. "I refuse to leave you in the dark."

Regina nodded slowly, untying the apron and tossing it aside. Emma nearly choked on her own tongue at the sight of all that toned, bare skin. The former queen looked back at her companion to see the distracted, gaping expression returned to her features.

Regina smirked. "I guess I'd better put some clothes on."

Emma looked longingly over the lingerie, considering her options. She met Regina's eyes.

"Yeah, you'd better," she sighed dramatically.


"Damn, these are good!"

Snow was surprised she had it in herself to be amused amidst the chaos of the last week. But she was certainly amused now.

She watched from other side of the kitchen counter as Ruby, perched atop a stool, scarfed down chicken wings with voracity she probably only equaled while in her more canine form. Her friend had bumbled into the apartment a half hour ago, wavering on her feet and muttering bitterly under her breath. Snow had set immediately about preparing something to absorb some of the beer she could smell on the woman's breath before asking her to explain what she was so cross about.

Ruby, between bites of chicken, had laid out Gold's plan for her and Belle in fairly uncertain terms since Ruby had few details herself. They knew Cora's heart would be close by and under some kind of protection, but the precise where and how of its retrieval was still pretty foggy. Gold had said he'd explain more in the morning.

"So I take it you aren't going to wait it out in the crypt then?" Snow remarked sadly. She had been hoping that as many of her loved ones as possible would choose the safest route. It would have done more for the maintenance of her sanity.

Ruby gave her friend a disgruntled look. "Pffft, are you kidding? And miss out on all of the action? There is no way in hell." She tossed another chicken bone aside and took up a fresh wing.

Snow rolled her eyes affectionately. The comment sounded more like the Ruby of the past 28 years than the gentler Red she'd known in the Enchanted Forest. It had been difficult to reconcile everyone's personalities – including her own – with the ones they'd had before. In some cases, such as Grumpy's, the differences were negligible. In others, such as hers and Red's, it was as if there were two different people, one here and one there. When the curse broke, they were still those two people, and merging the changes had been hard.

Even though the years hadn't been entirely felt, living as meek little Mary Margaret for all that time still affected her. She was pretty sure she was more Snowthan Mary, but from time to time, that relentless sweetness slipped in to her confident posture and gave her away.

And in Ruby's case, the softer woman she'd been before was at odds with the seductive, coy, brazen woman she'd been in Storybrooke all that time. Ruby seemed to take more kindly to the shift though, merging the personalities easily and often favouring the person she'd been in her cursed state.

"I don't like the idea of Gold sending you two off into the lion's lair to fight his battles." Snow said, returning to the situation at hand.

"I don't like it either, but Belle's dead-set on it and I am not letting her do it alone." Ruby replied. She had finished the last of her wings and was searching the counter surface for a means of cleaning her disastrously messy hands.

Snow shook her head and smiled, grabbing paper towels from under the sink and passing them to her friend. Ruby took the roll and grinned, exposing a set of teeth marked in streaks of sauce. Snow covered her mouth as she burst into laughter at the sight of a slightly-tipsy, very-silly Ruby. It was nice to remember that in the face of everything she could still laugh.

"Where's James?" Ruby asked as she cleaned herself up, taking much longer to do so than she would sober.

"Henry's room. Probably telling him another story. If you thought he was interested in fairy tales before, you should see him now that he can ask for the details from the characters themselves."

"Oh he's already interrogated me a few times since the curse broke." Ruby replied. Snow began the task of cleaning up. Ruby watched attentively, unable to move with the delightful weight resting in her stomach. Her mind and attention drifted soon enough, putting Snow in the background of her thoughts. "It's weird." Ruby said suddenly. Snow stopped and fixed the woman with an amused stare.

"What is?" Snow asked.

Ruby looked up at her, focusing her eyes. "We're just characters in someone else's books. How does that even happen? We aren't even that old, the extra time in stasis aside."

Snow nodded slowly. She too had been considering their fictional existence. How did their lives, their factual stories, end up as works of fiction in this world?

"It is strange, I'll give you that. But I was thinking – some of the tales from our world seem similar to real ones here. Like… did you ever hear the story of Mohandas?" She looked up for a moment, conjuring the words of the old tale to her mind. "Who hungered for peace and used his hunger as his tool rather than stoop to any weapon."

Ruby racked her brain. She hadn't exactly been a scholar during her time in Storybrooke. Then the fog of alcohol cleared for a moment and she smiled at Snow. "It's Gandhi, isn't it?"

Snow beamed and nodded. "I think so, yeah. It was just a story in our land, but here – it actually happened. And Alice in Wonderland? I remember hearing a similar story when I was a little girl. Maybe everyone's story is a fairytale somewhere else. Maybe we're all someone's story."

Ruby's eyebrows where fixed to her hairline as she tried to follow Snow's words. She nodded slowly, struggling to comprehend.

"Whoa. That's some deep stuff, your Highness."

Snow reached over the counter and punched her friend playfully in the arm.

"All right, all right!" Ruby said through a grin, rubbing her arm as if she'd suffered a great wound. She pitched herself off of the stool and made her way over to Snow's couch, where she'd been planning to crash for the night. She collapsed onto it and patted the seat next to her, indicating Snow should join her while she was still conscious enough to chat.

Snow narrowed her eyes suspiciously at the invitation, but followed suit and plopped down next to her. For a moment she waited, heaving a sigh as she stared straight ahead. Then she ventured a glance over to the wolfish grin that was being directed at her.

"What?" Snow asked, a smile tugging at her own mouth.

"How's it going?" Ruby asked, all manner of mischief in her eyes.

"You're going to have to be more specific." Snow deadpanned.

"How are you doing with the idea of being mother-in-law to your ex-stepmom?" Ruby asked brightly, holding back her own laughter.

Snow's mouth fell open at the question, her face turning a violent shade of red. Ruby's giggling burst out at the change in colour.

"Shut UP!" Snow said, trying to keep a straight face. Ruby's amusement was often contagious, no matter how unfunny the topic seemed at first. "They haven't been together that long!" Snow said. She wrinkled her nose even as a smile slipped into her face. She wasn't all that perturbed by the question, more by how it was stated. She'd winced a little when she'd heard the term "ex-stepmom."

"Yeah," Ruby said, assuming some control over herself. "But, you know. It seems pretty serious between those two. Must be a bit awkward for you."

Snow sighed as she let her head fall back against the couch cushion. "It is. There's part of me that is appalled that I'm letting them carry on unsupervised in Regina's mansion. That part of me thinks I must be crazy for giving Regina another chance. But there are other parts… Like the one that balks at how absurd "letting them carry on" sounds. As if I should be allowed to control my adult daughter's life at all." She turned to face Ruby, who had become more solemn. Snow continued. "And then there's the part that thinks maybe those other chances I tried to give Regina weren't really chances at all because she had no one to love her, not really. Her father was there, but… I don't think he really fought for her. But Emma…" Snow drifted off.

"She fights for her." Ruby finished.

Snow nodded. "And with her," she added with a small smirk. "But, yes. They certainly seem serious about the whole thing, so there's not much I can do."

"Sure there is. You've been doing it. You're being a good mom, letting Emma make her own choices. Whether those end up as mistakes or not, that's something she'll figure out for herself." Ruby said.

Snow grinned at her. "Wow. That's pretty deep right there." She mimicked. "Especially for a drunk."

Ruby gawked. "I'm not that drunk." Snow leveled a motherly look at her. "Okay," Ruby said, letting her head fall back against the couch. "Maybe I'm a littledrunk. Now would you go get me a pillow and blanket so I can sleep this off? Please?" She asked sweetly and batted her eyes.

Snow raised herself off the couch and did just that.

Ruby was fading slightly when she returned. Her face had lost its intoxicated glow and was instead pale and hollowed. Snow sat down next to her, handing over the sleeping materials she'd amassed.

"What is it?"

Ruby blinked at her for a few seconds, collecting her thoughts.

"Does it feel like everything is coming to an end to you? Like, I don't know. Things are more at stake now."

Snow nodded slowly. "I know what you mean. But we aren't going to fail. Nothing is going to end."

"How can you be so sure?"

Snow smiled, every bit as brightly as she could muster.

"Because I know my friends and family. I know how strong they are. Love is stronger than anything, in any world. How much trouble can a woman without her heart be to so many with theirs?"


The Saviour and the Evil Queen sat in bed together, Regina in an oversized t-shirt tossed over her underwear, Emma holding her hand tightly. The blonde divulged the details slowly, hoping Regina would understand that what Gold had proposed was likely their only option.

"He could be lying." Regina said without any real conviction.

Emma nodded. "He could be. Do you think he is?" She added.

"He plotted the entire path of my life to find his son. He wouldn't risk his plans falling apart now. But I'm not sure what that means for us." Regina sighed. "Besides which, I kept Belle from him for a very long time. How do I know he doesn't want revenge?"

"We don't know. We can't." Emma said.

Regina nodded. "When the time comes," she dropped her eyes to the bed and a hard edge curled into her voice, "I'll give my mother back her heart."

"No."

"No?" Regina's voice raised, the fire returned. She dropped Emma's hand.

"I'll do it." Emma said.

"Absolutely not."

"Regina, I am not going to make you kill your own mother! That's about the most fucked up ending I can imagine."

"And you think I'd let you darken your heart for something I thought I'd done already?" Regina had shifted from the bed, standing to her feet and crossing her arms.

"Sending Hook to assassinate her is not the same as putting a killer heart in her chest!" Emma was beginning to lose patience, but she kept her tone reasonable. "Look, I'm the Saviour, right? So let me do this so you don't have to. Please." She shuffled to the edge of the bed and reached for Regina's hand again.

For a moment, Emma thought she'd won her over. Then Regina wrenched her hand away and disappeared into the bathroom, slamming and locking the door behind her.

"Oh, goddamnit." Emma thought. They'd just made up and they were already fighting again. But then, she knew it would always be this way. Part of her didn't mind the fighting at all since it led to the best making-up she'd ever experience in her life.

She got up and leaned against the bathroom doorframe.

"I know you're scared. You can shut me out, scream at me, fight me all you want. But we have to do this right. Nothing is the neat, little, fairy tale people expect. We know that better than anyone. I just want to do as much as I can, and I can do this."

She heard the lock free on the door, but she made no move to open it.

"At some point we have to face up to what really scares us. But we don't have to do it alone."

Emma waited for some response, for another argument or rebuttal. The bathroom door opened slightly, tentatively, then a little wider, exposing Regina's lightly shaking form. She was certainly afraid. Her eyes swept up to meet Emma's.

"Then we do it together. I will return her heart. You will be there with me when I do." Regina said firmly. She didn't say, so that I won't break, but Emma heard that part anyway.

Knowing that this would be the best deal she'd drag out of her, Emma nodded.

"Will you come back to bed?"

Regina stepped forward in response, allowing herself to be led. But Emma didn't take her far, merely pulled the woman into her arms, into the place that was feeling more and more like home with each passing day. Regina's hold tightened as it wore on, the familiar unwillingness to lose what she held most dear coiling tightly in her stomach.

"Thank you," Regina said into Emma's hair, thinking maybe she hadn't been heard.

"You don't have to thank me." Emma said, pulling back in her arms, gazing over Regina's features.

"Yes. I do. For everything. For waking me up, for reminding me what it's like to live, for making me a better mother. For believing in me. For bringing my son –our son back to me. For everything."

"Even the fighting?" Emma asked, a small smirk on her face.

Regina grinned. "Especially the fighting," she said. "You made me feel something real for the first time in so long. You made me remember what I'd been. And then you helped me become who I am."

"You helped you. I'm just glad I was there along the way to see it." Emma dragged her finger along the firm line of Regina's jaw, resting it under her chin. "So this means I'm what, your Princess Charming?"

Regina rolled her eyes and buried her face in Emma's chest. "Why do you always have to ruin a moment?"

"Hey, you know I'm not the sentimental type," Emma chuckled.

Regina's head tilted to the side, her lips brushing against Emma's neck. "I know you like to pretend you aren't." She kissed the neck beneath her lips, laving the skin with her tongue.

Emma sighed at the feeling, returning to her earlier arousal instantly. Her hands began on instinct, roaming over the t-shirt, clutching at the body beneath.

"You never got your reward," Regina's voice was low and growling, an animal at Emma's neck. She sank her teeth into Emma's skin and Emma's hands tightened on her body.

As soon as Regina's teeth lifted, Emma pulled the woman's face to hers, crushing their mouths together. They kissed chaotically, unable to press together enough to sate their collective appetite. Regina pushed her backwards to the bed, pinning her easily; Emma's hands above her head, her hips cemented under Regina's.

Emma broke away from the woman's lips. "You always have to be on top, don't you?" Emma said with a grin.

Regina grinned back. "Your complaint has been filed and will be considered later." Regina fixed her mouth to Emma's chest, leaving wet kisses over every inch of her collar bone.

"Who said I was complaining?" Emma groaned, her hips rising up a little against their pleasant captor.

Regina slammed her body back down against the movement, resulting in a wave of pleasure for them both. Then she leaned up carefully pulling her t-shirt up and over her head, casting it across the room. Emma took more than an eyeful of Regina's body in the lingerie that had been waiting for her. The small, perfect breasts heaved upward in the black bra, the barely-there bikini-underwear that was lacy enough to tease what was underneath. Her hands, now free to roam, did just that. She brushed her palms over Regina's stomach, feeling the muscles tense and relax under her touch.

Regina went to work on Emma's jeans, pulling the zipper slowly, bumping the heat underneath on purpose, before stepping off the bed and pulling the pants down the long legs, Emma lifting her body to assist in what she knew from experience was a difficult process. She pulled her own shirt off when Regina was done, each of them now dressed only in undergarments.

Regina stepped forward as Emma sat up at the edge of the mattress, pulling the woman into her. Regina raised the unmistakable Charming chin up so they could lock eyes. She thought to say something. To articulate the feeling rising in her chest ever since they first kissed. But she was at a loss, left in wonder by the blonde looking up expectantly, vulnerably at her.

She dragged her finger over Emma's bottom lip and then replaced the finger with her mouth, moving slowly, longingly, making sure that even without words, Emma could hear her.

She felt long fingers unclasp the bra at her back and she grinned against the cocky mouth. She divested herself of the bra without pulling away, shuffling her arms a little awkwardly to keep the contact.

Emma began to move backwards onto the bed, adjusting herself and pulling Regina along with her, this time flipping them so she was above the brunette. She fell into her, rolling their bodies together, their legs delightfully intertwined. She moaned into her mouth when her centre hit Regina's thigh at a particular angle.

Emma reached one hand down, skimming over Regina's stomach and slipping her fingers under the fabric and into slick warmth. Regina, not wanting to be outdone, did the same, sliding her own hand into Emma's underwear and moving her hand in circles similar to Emma's own workings.

Emma broke the kiss smirking down at her Queen, as they matched each other's pace, moving hands and hips in tandem, increasing pressure. Emma shivered slightly and Regina gasped; their breathing and shifting bodies against the sheets were the only soundtracks of the room. Lost in their deadlocked stare, curtained in blonde waves of hair, they registered every sensation of one another's capable fingers, picking up their speed, as if racing each other.

Then Emma's body wracked forward; she took in sporadic intakes of air, as she bucked hard against Regina's hand. When she assumed control of her body again, she moved her hand deftly against Regina's centre, hoping to bring her to the same pleasant place. It didn't take long for Regina to join in, moaning as her head crashed backwards into the pillow, her body tensing and releasing several times before letting go. Emma pulled her hand up to her mouth and drank the product of her reward.

Regina watched in rapture until the work was done, then pushed Emma over, onto her back, relishing in the surprise on her face.

The Queen reached under the woman's body to unhook her bra and rid it from her quickly. She did the same with both pairs of underwear, tossing every article onto the floor. She raked her nails over Emma's skin, leaving red marks up and down her legs, her stomach, her chest, before roughly pushing one of Emma's legs up against her chest. Emma held her it there, intrigued by what plans were being hatched.

Regina sat back to assess the woman, grinning mischievously. She moved on top of her, lining up their centres and putting a hand against the headboard to support herself. Emma gasped at the feeling. Then Regina's hips began a slow rocking motion and Emma was overwhelmed.

The image of the brunette, looking as powerful as ever, writhing and smiling above her, was enough to make Emma moan in itself. But the feeling of them pressed together, their hardened clits bumping at each pass, was intoxicating. Emma was fairly certain she'd drown in it.

Regina was careful in her movements. Practiced and methodical and glorious. Her free hand reached down to massage Emma's breasts, as much a means of arousing her partner as feeding her own desire. Regina's hips lost a bit of their method as she moved harder, bringing them both closer with every thrust. She could feel the need rising within her and she fell forward slightly, her hand slipping from the headboard. Emma took advantage and pulled the woman down on top of her, pressing their bodies together again and moving her own hips towards Regina's in sync.

"Oh god," Regina groaned close to Emma's ear. In three more moves, Regina came undone, her muscles shaking, her entire body filled with contentment. Emma held the woman and soothed her tensing back, easing her all the way down.

Finally Regina sank beside her, their legs easily tangling, every limb finding a place. Emma reached a hand to push the comforter down then pull it up over them just slightly, aware that they were both too warm right now to cover completely.

Regina stroked the matted blonde hair out of Emma's eyes. She leaned forward for a gentle kiss and then settled into her arms, submitting to the exhaustion of a long day, knowing full-well that an even longer one lay ahead.


That night, the heads of Storybrooke's citizens fell heavier than ever. It was a collective weariness, as if a haze had enshrouded the town.

Regina stirred only at the buzzing of her phone on the bedside table. She mumbled incoherent curses as she pulled herself from the Saviour's arms. She stretched her back and took a longing look at the drowsy form beside her before lifting herself reluctantly from bed. She grabbed her robe and threw it on, only then answering her incessantly ringing phone.

"Hello?" She said, her voice still thick with sleep.

"You might want to look outside."

"Gold, it's still dark out. What do you want and why can't it wait till morning?" She folded her free arm over her chest.

"It's after 7 am, your highness. It should not be dark out."

Regina paled, stepping towards the window and pulling the curtain aside.

Emma stirred. "'Gina? What are you doing?"

Regina nearly dropped the phone when she looked out of her window.

Emma peeked over the cover to spy what was happening in their dim bedroom. She strained her eyes and made out the terrified expression on Regina's face. She launched to her feet and to the woman's side, taking a look out the window herself. She swallowed hard.

"I guess that means it's time."

"Yes, I suppose it does." She said, covering the phone momentarily. Her tone was the same icy temperature as her skin.

Where Storybrooke's sky should have been bright and blue, there was a swirling miasma of reddish black, a thick cloud that bore over the entire town.

Regina returned to the phone. "I suggest you prepare Ruby and Belle. They should set out immediately. We'll be making our way to the crypt as soon as we can get everything organized."

She hung up the phone when Gold responded, though she barely heard the words. Emma took the cell from her hand and set it down. She took Regina gently into her arms to ground the woman, to remind her of what she had to hold onto. Regina's limbs hung loosely at first, but she eventually returned the embrace.

"It's okay." Emma soothed. "It's okay to be afraid. Just use it."

Regina nodded against the woman. She chuckled, finding it oddly humbling how easily Emma could calm her even though Regina had lived twice as long.

Emma pulled back in her arms. "Did I say something funny? I was trying to be serious for once."

"You were doing a remarkably good job, actually. I was just pleasantly impressed."

Emma grinned and pressed her lips to Regina's. "Good answer," she mumbled against her mouth.

Regina smiled then cast another glance outside. "Call your mother. Ask that she starts coordinating everyone. We have to prepare."


Snow rushed about the apartment quicker than she had in her whole life, or at least since she'd been a fugitive in the Enchanted Forest. And she was twice as nervous as she'd been during those years on the run.

She'd made all her calls already, starting the telephone tree that would branch out across the town. Now she was trying to get herself, her husband, her grandson, and a slightly hungover Ruby ready to meet the darkened day. Thankfully, the sight outside had sobered and wakened everyone rather quickly. Even Henry had his things together and was helping her pack the last of the supplies to send off to the crypt.

They were meeting there in less than an hour and she'd never felt so on edge in her life. When a knock came at the front door, she nearly upended a box full of canned food. She steadied herself again and crossed to the door frantically.

She opened slightly it to find Regina, looking just as pale as she was. Snow offered her a meager smile.

"Snow," Regina said as greeting, stumbling around the name nervously. Snow opened the door a little wider, suddenly more concerned.

"Is Emma all right?" Snow asked.

"Yes, she's fine. Just waiting downstairs in the car. We're heading to the crypt early to start on the wards, but I wanted to take Henry with us." Regina said, her eyes drifting affectionately to the boy packing supplies in the kitchen. She returned her gaze to Snow. "If you don't mind."

Snow's eyebrows lifted at the last, a little dumbfounded that the former-mayor was so willing to check with how she felt.

"Mom!" Henry had finally registered who was at the door and came rushing past Snow to fling himself in his mother's willing arms. Regina's eyes closed as she held her son tightly to her, reverently stroking his hair. She looked to Snow for confirmation and the woman was floored again.

"Y-yeah, of course that's fine. We'll meet you there in a half hour."

Regina's face lit up with the warmest smile Snow had ever seen her wear.

"Thank you," the older woman said. She took her son's hand and led him down the stairs, leaving Snow still standing in her doorway. She smiled gently to herself when she closed the door, feeling more than ever that Regina really had deserved her chance. That she truly was becoming better for herself and those she loved.

She thought of something and chided herself for her forgetfulness as she went searching for her phone. She hit the speed dial to save time.

"Hello?" Emma's voice was clear and calm.

"Emma! Hi, I forgot to mention, but Henry left his backpack behind."

There was a beat on the other end of the line.

"Uhhh, I don't think he left it here, but I can look around."

"No, it's here. With me. I meant to send it with Regina just now, but I guess I was just too caught up to remember. I can bring it with me when we meet up."

"What are you talking about?" Emma's voice had lost its calm. "Regina's right here."

Snow's face dropped, her fingers shaking. "But she… came to pick up Henry." The words fell out of her lips of their own accord but her mind was racing. She put her hand to her mouth, realizing too late what she'd done, what had happened in her own doorway.

Over the phone she heard a crash, likely Emma's phone hitting the ground. Try as she might Snow couldn't drop her own. She could only wait, completely still, and listen to the painful silence on the other end of the line, then the sound of Regina's voice, eerie and faraway, drifting through the receiver.

"Emma, what's wrong?" She heard Regina say.

Then Emma's voice. "Cora. She has Henry."