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fate, the ultimate matchmaker

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  1. A summary of what she thinks of her new soulmate: by Regina Mills

 

She’d had a soulmate once, and he’d died. So when Regina casts the curse, and then has to deal with twenty-eight years of random colorful and often rude drawings all over her body, that she hasn’t drawn, she’s just slightly pissed.

 

Even more so when she finds out that apparently her soulmate is Emma Swan. The universe seems to have it out for her, and Regina has a bone to pick with the big guy for doing this to her.

 

Because they can’t be. They so, totally are not soulmates.

 

They’re just people who can write on their skin and it turns up on the other’s, because the universe made a mistake a huge fucking colossal mistake. There is no way in any kind of hell that Regina could be in love with Emma Swan.

 

However, as it turns out, there are certain benefits of being able to write and draw things on your mortal enemy’s skin without them knowing. Something that Regina intends to take full advantage of.


So, maybe the universe is on her side after all.



1.The first soulmate, aka, the perfect, not a mistake one: as told by Regina Mills

 

Daniel used to draw little shapes on his arm in charcoal, swirling the thin sticks that he’d manage to scrounge along his browned arms. They would appear on Regina’s skin, and before she knew it was Daniel, she used to curse her soulmate.

 

Her mother, a firm believer that it wasn’t a fictional soulmate that was causing the muck on Regina’s arms, but rather Regina herself, would punish her with magic, or would leave her in a small closet for hours on end. Regina never drew on her arms, not even when there was a small hello marked down on her palm one evening. Instead, she’d clenched her fists as tight as she could, hoping and praying that her mother wouldn’t notice the dusty marks that Regina couldn’t scrub off.

 

“Soulmates don’t exist. ” Her mother had told her sternly one afternoon, after Regina had insisted that the little sun on her wrist was from the soulmate that Regina had never met. “They are a foolish notion, a story to tell little girls and boys at bedtime. Get that out of your head, Regina.”

 

Regina always thought it was because her mother didn’t have a soulmate- but one afternoon she’d spotted an odd scripture on her mother’s hand that wasn’t her writing. Not that her mother would ever write on her hands.


“What’s that?” She had asked , curious, and her mother’s expression had turned to one of pain.

 

“Nothing.” For the next few days, she’d worn her furred gloves everywhere.

 

It was true, soulmates were more rare than common, and so those who didn’t have one were often dismissive of the magic behind it all. But Regina had one, she knew she did, and she didn’t want them, whoever they were.

 

At six, Regina was slapped for the fourth time because of the doodles that her soulmate insisted on drawing, she decides to put an end to it, once and for all.

 

Please stop drawing. Regina had written in childish script. My mother doesn’t like it.

 

She’d gotten a reply, the last mark she’d see on her arm for a decade. But do you? It was a messy scrawl, and Regina had pondered for a few minutes before deciding that it wasn’t a good idea to talk to her soulmate. So the question stayed there for a few hours, before it was washed off, her soulmate obviously deciding that Regina wouldn’t answer.

 

And so it went, for another ten years. Occasionally Regina would notice the outlines of the bruises that would be more vibrant on her soulmates end. Her mother was always careful never to leave a mark on her skin, apart from the small scar that graced Regina’s lip. Not that her soulmate would have that- scars tended to only appear in the form of a small white outline before disappearing. And Regina forgets, forgets that there is someone out there who could love her.

 

It’s only when Regina is 16, and she’s rude to a visiting Duke who looked at her for far too long and tried to touch her that her mother breaks her rule and leaves a nasty bruise on Regina’s ribcage. She sobs herself to sleep that night, clutching her torso, wishing that her father had done something.

 

Her saving grace, in the morning, something that alights hope in her heart underneath the ache of her body, is the small words on her wrist.

 

Are you okay?

 

Regina grabs a pen, eagerly scribbling back. She wants comfort, wants communication, and here it is, hope inked into her skin.

 

Just a bruise.

 

A few moments later- it seemed that her soulmate had been waiting for a reply-

 

What’s your name?

 

Regina waits for a few moments, wondering whether or not she should reply, but then her ribcage is flooded with a wave of pain as she attempts to stand up, and she decides she has nothing to lose.

 

Regina.

 

There’s no answer, and Regina’s heart sinks. Has she done something? Perhaps he doesn’t like her name. Then, slowly, an hour later, ink begins to mark itself on her skin, slanted lines on her palm.

 

Daniel.

 

***********

 

The stable boy is staring at her, that afternoon, and even more so, when she tries to get up on her horse and cries out in pain. She doesn’t know his name, only that ever since she was eleven she’d thought he was handsome.

 

But he’s a stableboy, and so Regina can’t concern herself with him.

 

“Need any help there?” His voice is a little bit breathless, as he comes to hover over where Regina is standing, clutching her ribs and gasping for breath.


“I- yes please.” She says, wincing. “Don’t- don’t tell anyone.”

 

“Of course I won’t.” He replies, and gives her a hand in order to help her get up on the horse. It’s then, that she notices the same markings that are on her wrist.

 

“What’s- what’s your name?” Regina asks, still fixated on the words that mark his forearm.

 

He grins, and wipes the hair out of his face. “Daniel.” And suddenly his face matches every little cocky doodle that had been etched on her arm- the rude markings that had dominated when they had been younger, and then slowly, the more beautiful ones. It’s on his face, the truth, and Regina finds herself just as breathless as he is. It’s amazing how easily she can put his face to the character of the drawings he’d done when they’d been children.

 

“And you’re Regina.” He says. “But then I’ve known that since I came to work here.”

 

Regina shoves up the sleeve of her blouse. “We’re- we’re-”

 

“Soulmates.” He says, studying her arm. Nonchalantly, even, as though he’d known for a long time. “But- really- are you okay?”

 

It’s the first time that anyone has ever shown that kind of concern for her, and Regina breaks out into a smile of her own. “I….I am now.”

 

They stand like that for a while, hands connected, and the words marking their skin that tell them they are meant to be together.

 

  1. The part where she had no one: aka time she’d rather like to forget, by Regina Mills

 

When Daniel dies, Regina continues to write on her skin. They’d always arranged when to meet, writing in places no one but they would ever see. Shoulders, stomachs, thighs. It was their way of talking, when she was locked up in her room, and he was sleeping on straw in a wooden shack. They both had prisons, only Regina’s was a gilded castle, and his a status he couldn’t escape. The only saving grace for the both of them, had been each other.

 

So during the lonely days of her marriage, and throughout Rumple’s cruel teachings, she writes, just little notes.

 

I miss you.

 

I did something bad today, Daniel.

 

I love you.

 

It’s only when Leopold notices the ink markings on her skin, that she has to stop. And it’s only eight years later, when revenge is nearly in her grasp, that she begins again.

 

But only once, just a few words.

 

Justice is close, my love.

 

She thinks, hopes, that perhaps, somewhere wherever Daniel is, he can still see her words. That he just merely can’t reply, because of the impenetrable barrier between life and death.

 

It’s the only comfort she has.

 

  1. A curse is cast: aka the time she got a ready made town, by Regina Mills  

 

The curse brings many surprises, most of them welcome.

 

What isn’t welcome, however, is four years into her curse, that a messy scribble appears on her hand, from a pen that isn’t hers. No matter how Regina scrubs, until her skin is raw and stinging, the pen marks won’t disappear. More marks appear, obviously from colorful markers that Regina does not possess.

 

It’s then she realises, that somehow, in an oddly cruel twist of fate, she’s been given a second soulmate.

 

It’s rare, and unusual, but it happens. Regina wants to cry as she scrubs her hands, because why would the Evil Queen of all people have one soulmate, and then receive another? Was this a sign that maybe- just maybe she was being given a pardon for all the horrible things she had done? Or was it just another way to allow that hope in her heart again, and then stomp it out, like it had been done so many times before?

 

And the horrible thing is, is that Regina doesn’t want it. She’d had a soulmate, and his heart had been ripped out and crushed. And with this, it feels as though she’s involuntarily betraying Daniel.

 

Regina decides that whatever game fate is playing, it’s most definitely at her expense.

 

More doodles appear on her forearms, palms, even her shins. It’s everywhere, and it’s so utterly annoying, because hello it’s summer, and sometimes Regina has to wear long sleeved everything in order to not look like the drawing canvas of a five year old.

 

Two years after the doodling begins, Regina has enough.

 

She’d been in a meeting with the principle of Storybrooke Prep (the only school in Storybrooke), and when shaking her hand, the principle had noticed the little dog face drawn on the outside of her hand. t had been embarrassing for Regina to try and explain that her unknown soulmate had an affinity for doodles.

 

“Oh how nice,” The principle had sighed. “My soulmate never writes anything, much less draws something. The most I’ve ever gotten was a note saying milk and shampoo on my hand.”

 

“Well, I’d prefer my soulmate to be less artistically inclined.” Regina had said, dryly.

 

“Do you think you’ll try and meet up?”

 

With soulmates being a more rare gift, many people did eventually attempt to meet each other. However, there were the few who rejected the ‘gift’ they had been given, and instead took charge of their own lives.

 

“I- I don’t know.” Regina had merely shuffled some papers, because really, meeting up with her soulmate was impossible, considering the fact that they were all living in a town without time.

 

“I’ve never tried to meet up with mine.” The principle had sighed again.  

 

Regina had attempted to reconstruct her face to one of sympathy. Of course, that was rather hard to do when the principle was, in reality, Rapunzel, and her soulmate was currently on the other side of town, working as a hairdresser. Regina had always had a sense of humour.

 

“I’m sure you’ll find him one day.” Regina had said, and then ushered the forlorn looking principle out of her office.

 

That day, when Regina comes back to her empty house, and takes out a bottle of wine, she begins to ponder on whether or not to try and tell her soulmate to stop doodling. It’s a bad idea, at the first glass of wine, but by the fourth, it’s an excellent one.

 

Taking out a sharpie that she keeps in her drawers, and uncapping it, she draws long, sloping script on her forearm. When she’s finished, she waits for a reply.

 

Please stop doodling. It’s disruptive.

 

There’s no answer, and glancing at the clock, Regina muses that perhaps her soulmate has gone to bed. But it’s frustrating, waiting for an answer that doesn’t come.

 

Regina falls asleep, feeling very disgruntled.

 

The next morning, she wakes up, still on her sofa, and there is another, new sentence next to hers. The writing is messy, as though it were haphazardly written, and Regina frowns, comparing the writing to the neat chunky writing that belonged to Daniel. But, shaking her (former- former) soulmate out of her head, Regina focuses on decoding the messy script.

 

Sorry, it says, wow, I have a soul mate!

 

Regina’s eyes widen, and she realises that whoever is on the other end, only just figured out they had a soulmate. Well- she had only arrived in this land six years ago. But, Regina thinks, was it possible that this person would have been her soulmate, had they been born in her land?

 

She wants to ask someone about this- her own knowledge of the light magic of soulmates not extensive enough. Rumpel had never deemed it necessary to give her any information about light magic, and Regina had never asked for any. So she supposes it’s her own fault.

 

Regina stares at the sentence for a while, after that, fiddling with the sharpie, before shaking her head.

 

**********

 

The doodles stop, and Regina does not carry on the conversation with her soulmate. Instead, she returns to her work, and ignores the faint outlines of small bruises appearing that don’t belong to her.

 

They’re mainly on her shins, or perhaps on her arms. Regina doesn't think anything of it- until one day, she wakes up with the faint outline of a person’s fingers around her throat.

 

It’s then that Regina decides to do something.

 

Are you okay? She asks. It’s been eight years since she last communicated with her soulmate, but the faint outline of the bruise on her neck seems serious enough for her to try and help.

 

And perhaps it’s the fading ghost of Daniel that encourages her to do so, or a reminder of cruel magic and unjust punishment.

 

Around an hour later, she gets a reply.

 

This isn’t the worst that’s happened.

 

Regina frowns. It’s true that only the outlines of bruises will appear on a soulmate. No physical wounds, or injuries. She shivers slightly, and uncaps her pen again, biting her lip. The words are hesitant, jagged on her skin, because it’s been a long time since she’s even tried to care for someone other than herself.

 

Do you need help?

 

Her soulmate never answers.

 

And, Regina thinks, perhaps it’s best that way.

 

************

 

Eighteen years after the curse is cast, Regina adopts a beautiful baby boy, who she names Henry. He’s a happy, gurgling bundle of joy, and Regina’s heart is so full of love that she barely even gives a thought when doodles begin appearing on her skin again.

 

“Mama, what’s that?” Henry asks one afternoon, pointing towards an elegant flower that is being etched on her hand. He’s four years old, and watches in fascination as the lines grow longer and curved. He pats a chubby hand on hers, lifting it again and grins at his mother as the drawn flower keeps on growing.

 

“That’s my…. soulmate.” Regina says, pursing her lips. “Whenever my soulmate writes something on their skin, it appears on mine.”

 

“Wow.” Henry says, in fascination. “Do I have a soulmate?” His childish awe wipes away any annoyance that Regina might feel towards the person on the other end of the pen, and instead, she smiles.

 

“I hope so, Henry. I hope so.”

 

  1. The hard part: aka the time her son regresses back to his four year old self and believes in fairytales again, by Regina Mills

 

The day that Henry truly starts to believe in the curse, there’s a star, pointed and thick, drawn right on her middle finger. The irony, because all this time Regina has been giving a fuck you to fate, to the destiny that said she has to be unhappy. Because she is a villain and villains don’t get happy endings. All this time, and she had her son, and her revenge. Perfection, if not for minor hiccups in the form of monotony.  And then, Henry calls her the Evil Queen and her whole world falls apart.

 

“What makes you think that?” Regina whispers, as her son stands in front of her, righteous anger in his eyes. “Why would you call me that?”

 

“Because you are.” Henry replies with a sneer so like her own, and then turns his back on her, to run up the stairs.

 

Regina’s perfectly constructed world begins to crumble, as her son only looks at her with cold hate, and the words you aren’t my mother whenever she tries to make him understand.

 

There’s even a moment, a small, tiny moment, where Regina considers telling him the truth, if only to end the constant searching that he conducts to prove that she’s evil. But that’s wiped away in an instant, because she can’t lose both her son and her revenge.

 

For a while, things are in a stasis, with the once warm and happy Mills home becoming some kind of battleground, with Regina unwilling to participate in the war that Henry is trying to wage. And then, Henry doesn’t turn up to school one morning, and once it becomes clear that he’s run away rather than kidnapped, things take a turn for the worse.

 

Regina paces in the foyer, Graham bustling around as though he could make things better, and all Regina can do is silently watch a candle being drawn on her forearm, her soulmate still moving, still breathing. Henry is gone, and there’s nothing Regina can do about it, and her soulmate is unaware that she’s in such pain. In that moment, she wants nothing more than Daniel, who would know what to do.

 

But Daniel’s gone, and even if he were here, he’d probably hate what she’s become. Her soulmate isn’t Daniel, as she sometimes must remind herself and catch the smile that begins to form on her face now that the hardness that has covered her heart for so long is gone. Her soulmate is random, a person out in the unknown, and someone that Regina never, ever wants to meet.

 

The doorbell rings, and Regina rushes out.

 

  1. An annoying, brash, horrible, disgusting, child-stealing birth mother comes to town and of course she has to be attractive: aka when Emma Swan crashed into her life by Regina Mills

 

Emma Swan is by far the most infuriating women that Regina has ever met. She’s rash, and hotheaded, and trying to ruin Regina’s life. And on top of all her numerous horrible qualities she’s Henry’s birth-mother. Regina hates her. Life is cruel, and the fact that it would drag Emma Swan into it like some kind of half drowned rat is just another reason why Regina knows that the universe has it out for her.

 

And of course, she has to constantly see her.

 

“Hey Regina.” Emma greets her, the hostility in her voice just a suggestion in her voice. Regina sniffs, looking around the police station. “What’s up?”

 

“I’m looking for Graham.” Regina replies, stiffly. “You haven’t seen him have you?”

 

“Just went out to rescue another cat from a tree.” Emma says, rolling her eyes. “Crime really is a problem here, Madam Mayor.”

 

Regina stifles a wry smile, but feels her lips twitch, and Emma gives her a triumphant look- so of course Regina immediately bristles. On defence, having allowed Emma that one victory, she snaps, “Well all the better for me, Deputy Swan, because that means that you may no longer be needed.” Now she smiles, but not nicely. No, Regina’s promised herself she will never smile nicely at Emma Swan.

 

Emma’s gaze hardens, and Regina turns on her heel. Before she leaves, she hears a muttered- “Bitch.”

 

Regina considers going back in there, but she actually does need to find Graham. So, gritting her teeth, she walks out the building, only to groan as she notices a pattern being drawn on her hand.

 

“Not again.” She grumbles, and rubs at it with her hand. Like usual, the markings don’t come off, but Regina always tries. So instead she watches, while getting into her car, as the form takes shape.

 

It’s two devil horns. How apt.

 

**********

 

Henry thinks that she doesn’t know he’s running off to see Emma, but Regina knows everytime. She wants to do something about it, but at this point, if she tries to stop Henry from seeing Emma, she might lose him forever. So, she lets him go, and prays for Emma to make some mistake that will send Henry running back to her.

 

However, one night, Henry takes his little escape game just a bit too far.

 

It’s eight o'clock, and Regina calls upstairs, but he doesn’t answer. It’s when she comes across the familiar bedsheets trailing out the window that she actually begins to worry.

 

It’s dark outside, and while Storybrooke may be comprised of a bunch of fairytale characters who are under Regina’s control, it doesn’t stop Regina from worrying, nor does it stop Henry from getting hurt. It’s also winter, and she spies his jacket and scarf in a corner, only making her worry grow. Growling under her breath, she stabs a number in her phone, and taps her foot impatiently as it rings.

 

“Hello?” Emma’s voice filters through the phone. “Emma Swan speaking.”

 

“It’s Regina.” Regina says curtly, pinching the bridge of her nose. “I was just wondering if Henry is there with you.”

 

There’s a pause, and then the sound of a door unlocking. “Ah, yeah, he’s here.”

 

Regina can hear Henry’s excited babbling, and then Emma’s stern tone saying, “I’ve got your mom on the phone.”

 

The babbling immediately stops, and Regina knows her son well enough to know that he’s most likely pouting. “I’m coming to pick him up.”

 

“No worries, I can bring him.” Emma says, but Regina shakes her head wildly even though Emma can’t see her.

 

“Absolutely not. I will not have my son in that yellow deathtrap.” Then, pressing the red end call button on her phone and shrugging on a jacket, she rushes out of the house to pick up her wayward son.

 

Henry greets her sullenly, and has to be practically shoved out the door. Emma watches him go, sheepishly stuffing her hands in her pockets, before scratching her head. “So...I’m sorry, I guess?”

 

Regina eyes her coldly. “It’s best you have my number in case this happens again. I know about the times he visits you during the day, and while I don’t approve there’s not much I can do about it. However, at night? I will not have Henry running around Storybrooke at night.”

 

“Right.” Emma pats her pockets. “Uh, just write it down-” She sighs, and sticks out her arm. “Here.” She reaches to the side, and takes a pen off the counter.

 

“Where’s your phone?”

 

“Out of power.” Emma shrugs, and so with Henry scowling behind her, Regina writes her number carefully on Emma’s arm.

 

“Contact me if this ever happens again.” Regina says, and turns towards the door. Henry grumbles, and it makes her head hurt. Glancing at Emma’s pained face, she forces out the word, “Please.”

 

***********

 

Later that night, Regina swears so loudly that she wakes Henry up.

 

“Mom?” Henry rushes in the room, panic on his face. “Are you alright?”

Regina is staring at her arm, and looking up quickly, hides it behind her back. “No- no darling, I’m fine.”

 

Henry’s face relaxes for a moment, before springing into suspicion. “Why are you hiding your arm behind your hand?”

 

“Nothing.” Regina replies shortly, and then fixes her son with a stern stare. “Henry, get into bed right now. I’m still angry at you.”

 

Scowling, Henry slouches out of the room, all curiosity gone. Slowly, Regina brings her hand out from behind her back, and stares at her arm.

 

“Fuck, fuck, fuck.”

 

There, in bold letters, is her telephone number. And no matter how hard she tries, she can’t get it off.

 

*********

 

Regina stays in denial for a few days. There is no possible way that Emma Swan could be my soulmate.

 

That’s day one.

 

She bumps into Emma on the way to Granny’s, and the woman gives her an odd look as Regina blushes (she blushes for god’s sake) and mumbles something. It’s like she’s been reduced to a schoolgirl again, just because someone happened to write a number that was hers on her soulmate’s arm who was definitely not Emma Swan.

 

But then she gets curious, so while Emma’s getting coffee at the counter, she discreetly pulls a pen out of her bag. Taking off her gloves, she uncaps the pen, and writes I can see you on her palm. Quickly replacing her glove, she takes a sip of her coffee, and then nearly spits it out when Emma looks down at her hand, and spins around, spilling half her coffee on the floor.

 

“Trying to make a mess everywhere you go, Ms. Swan?” Regina calls out, because she can’t resist a jibe at Emma when she has the chance.

 

Emma flushes, and quickly apologizes to Granny, who is eyeing the mess on the floor with distaste. Then, she marches over to Regina.

 

“You didn’t see anyone with a...a pen just now, did you?” Emma asks, and the idiotic girl looks completely flustered.

 

Regina raises an eyebrow, attempting nonchalance. “No. I don’t really pay attention to whether or not someone has a pen in their hand.”

 

“Right.” Emma says, and shifts on her foot. “Right.” Then, as though she can’t hold it in any longer, she shoves her hand in Regina’s face. It takes every nerve in Regina’s body not to burst out in a wail or shriek, or some kind of noise that represents the misery she’s feeling at the fact that Emma Swan has Regina’s loopy handwriting copied exactly on her hand. “My soulmate contacted me.” Her voice betrays her excitement, and she quickly drops the hand, before rubbing her hand against her jeans as though to try and wipe the writing off.

 

“Yes, I can see that.” Regina replies, trying to keep the utter despair out of her voice. Why, in all the world, would the universe give her Emma Swan as a second chance? Her soulmate- what a ridiculous notion. The two hadn’t stopped arguing since the moment Emma had stepped over that town line.

 

“It’s just that...do you think they’re playing a trick on me? There’s no way they could be here, in- in Storybrooke. Right?” Emma shoves the hand back into her pocket, and looks around. “I mean, I’ve sorta waited to meet them since I first found out about them when I was five and-”


Regina wants to smack herself. Of course. The idiotic doodles she’d gotten on her hand when she’d first arrived in this world had been from a five year old.

 

“Well, sometimes soulmates try to play jokes on each other.” A nostalgic smile quirks on Regina's face before she can stop it. “God knows I did.” The time’s she’d written things to Daniel that had made him laugh or jump had been countless.

 

“You have a soulmate?” Emma’s surprised voice interrupts her thoughts, and Regina scowls.


“No.” She says quickly, not wanting to get into it.

 

“But you just said-”


Regina waves her hand. “He’s- he’s long gone.”


Emma’s face falls slightly. “He’s...dead?”

 

Heat rises to Regina’s face, and she stares at her coffee. “Yes.” She replies, softer than she’s ever been around Emma. “A long time ago.” Then snapping her head back up, her face hardens. “Now, I do not want to chatter with you, Ms. Swan- we aren’t friends. So please, go and actually do your job, I believe you were due at the station-” She taps her watch. “Five minutes ago?”

 

The sympathetic look remains on Emma’s face, and Regina imagines that she’s now trying to connect every little horrible thing that Regina’s done since Emma got here to that one event of losing her soulmate. She hates it.

 

“Well, bye then.” Emma waves, the writing taunting Regina as it streaks through the air, just a little reminder. “Have a nice day.”


Regina shakes her head, and sips her coffee, angrily watching as Emma’s leather clad back retreats.

 

Later that night, as she washes the ink off her hand, she gets a message.

 

Who are you? My name’s Emma.

 

She doesn’t answer. Fuck the universe. Emma Swan was not her soulmate, despite what- what was quite literally written.

 

***********

 

But them Emma goes and pisses her off again.

 

It’s about Henry, like usual. Emma comes and visits her at the office, shuffling her feet nervously, and Regina curses herself for revealing that tad of information about her soulmate. Naturally, Emma would now think that they were on better terms.

 

No, they are not.

 

Not even if they’re- they’re people who can write on their skin and it turns up on the other’s, because the universe made a mistake, a huge fucking colossal mistake.

 

“So, I was wondering…” Emma clears her throat, and approaches the desk, monthly budget report in hand. “Whether I could see Henry- just for an afternoon one time.”

 

Regina grits her teeth, and waves her hand out for the report. “Just because I don’t do anything to stop those clandestine meet ups you two have when Henry sneaks out does not mean I will allow it and encourage Henry to see you.”


Emma’s face darkens, and Regina recognises the familiar rage between the two of them beginning to bubble. “He wants to know me.”

 

“And I’m his mother.” Regina says, pinning Emma with a sharp glare. “I don’t like you encouraging that fairytale nonsense. On top of that, I don’t want Henry’s heart to be all the more broken as it will be when you eventually leave town.”

 

Emma crosses her arms with a scowl. “And what makes you think that I will leave town?”

 

“Because eventually you will realise there is no place for you here. That you are just another lone traveller, with no family-”

 

“Henry’s my family.” Emma shoots back, chin lifted in defiance. “He’s my-”


“If you say son, Ms. Swan, I will go and gladly wave the adoption papers in your face.”

 

Emma takes a deep breath, and Regina sees her hands curling into a fist. “Alright. I get it. Maybe you just can’t see that just because Henry is your son, doesn’t mean he can’t get to know me. Perhaps it’s because you’re afraid to let him go, and I get that, I do Regina, but if you're afraid of losing him- maybe because oh I don’t know, you lost a soulmate and are afraid of losing Henry? Well then that’s just plain idiotic-”

 

Regina stands up fluidly, and in one swift motion, slaps Emma across the face. Her palm stings with the force, and underneath the blinding rage that she’s feeling she notes that her heart is racing far too fast. Pressing her lips together to try and stop the vitriol that she’s all to ready to let spill from her lips, she watches as Emma clutches her cheek in shock, before rearing up and pulling her fist back.

 

Perhaps it’s years of dodging spells and flying objects from the oh so wonderful Rumplestiltskin, but Regina manages to evade the punch, so Emma’s fist flies through air. This leaves the deputy looking slightly embarrassed, but all the more determined to land a punch on Regina. Just as she tries again, Regina holds up a hand, breathing heavily.

 

“Careful now, Ms. Swan. I could easily get a restraining order if you do that. For both me, and Henry.”

 

Emma’s fist is still poised, and Regina registers with reluctant chagrin that she can see the last note that Emma wrote on her skin. She quickly moves her own hand behind her back, lest Emma realise that what she’s written on her skin is mirrored on Regina’s. That conversation would be interesting.

 

Emma’s fist goes down, however, and Regina sighs, sitting down and brushing her now slightly haphazard hair out of her face. “Don’t ever mention my soulmate again.” She says, and then does that thing with her eyes that used to scare the shit out of Snow and Charming whenever they tried to fight her face to face. Apparently, it works just as well on Emma, because she flushes and then looks terrified.

 

“I’m- I’m sorry.” Emma says, hesitantly, although it’s definitely not completely sincere. “But you didn’t have to slap me!”


“I’ll admit, that was a bit much.” Regina says, frostily. She hates acknowledging her own mistakes, and while slapping Emma Swan was a feeling she did relish, she can’t afford to give Emma anything to tell Henry that would further encourage the Evil Queen views. “But whenever someone mentions Daniel I-”

 

Oh- fuck. Emma’s eyes widen at the name, and Regina wants to laugh, albeit slightly hysterically. Right, so now she’s just going around and telling her current worst enemy the name of the man who- quite literally- made her jump realms?

 

She clears her throat. “Whenever someone mentions my soulmate, especially in relation to my son and how that might affect our relationship, I’m defensive. I did not appreciate you bringing him into the conversation.”

 

“Right.” Emma says, and rubs her jaw. “Daniel, huh?”

 

Regina rolls her eyes up towards the ceiling. “Yes.”


“Well- isn’t that Henry’s middle name? Are you sure that you don’t have some kind of-” The blonde babbles on, before Regina tells her to get out. And yet- despite the slap, there’s an odd kind of understanding between them.

 

Doesn’t mean that Regina wants to get Emma back for it al.

 

The next day, Regina’s home sick, and Emma finds that in the middle of the diner she gets a very rude picture drawn on her forehead.

 

***********

 

Regina chuckles to herself when she sees the next day a very disgruntled Emma sitting in Granny’s with a hat over her head. She’d wiped that rude drawing off her face before Henry had gotten home- but that had meant a full day for Emma with that on her face.

 

“Oi, Em, looks like your soulmate isn’t feeling like a dick today!” Ruby calls out, before giggling at her pun. Regina stifles her own malicious sniggers as Emma slouches further in her seat.

 

“I just want to make sure.” She mumbles, pulling the hat over her head.

 

According to Sydney, who Regin had so very conveniently stationed there at exactly nine o'clock when she knew that Emma routinely came into Granny’s for a bear claw, Emma had not realised there had been a dick on her forehead until about fifteen minutes into munching on the bearclaw. Ruby had laughed a little too loudly, ruining it all, and sending Emma hurtling towards the bathrooms in a cloud of cursing and simultaneous apologies.

 

Regina just wishes she could have seen it herself.

 

Going past Emma, she gives the blonde a smile, full of teeth. “I heard about yesterday.” She says, and it’s all she needs to hear because Emma groans and then pulls the hat over her entire head.

 

Her voice muffled by the hat, she says, “Yeah, well it looks like my soulmate is just a-”

 

“A dick?” Ruby chimes in, from where she is serving a customer at the next table. “Sorry, it’s getting old I know but I had to.”

 

Regina smirks, and tilts her chin up to meet Emma’s eyes. “Maybe you did something they didn’t like.”

 

“I’ve never met them!” Emma explodes, waving her hands in the air. “For fucks sake. This is ridiculous.” Her expression shifts slightly, and a gleam appears in her eye. “But they won’t get away with this.” Her expression lights up. “Madam Mayor, I’m officially taking a sick day today.”

 

Regina feels herself go pale. She’d forgotten in the midst of all her glee, that Emma would most likely want to take her revenge.  “W-well I’m afraid that’s not possible. You aren’t sick.”

 

“Sure I am.” Emma replies, casually. “I just threw up in the bathrooms.” She coughs, once, twice. “I’m sick.”

 

Regina taps her fingers against the table, trying not to convey her panic. If anyone, anyone sees Regina with what Emma is planning, then they’ll put two and two together. “You’re a terrible liar. Get back to work, Emma.” It’s only after that she realises she’s called Emma, Emma, and she flushes.

 

Emma shakes her head, but there’s no anger in it. “Alright, alright. But if I have something rude drawn on me by the end of today, you know why.” Her tone is joking, and Regina has the sinking feeling that this isn’t over.


And then inspiration strikes. A way to keep Emma Swan from humiliating her, as well as stopping their connection as soulmates from ever becoming problematic. “Ms. Swan, before you draw anything rude in revenge for your soulmate, why don’t you come over to my house to talk.” Seeing Emma’s confused expression, she clarifies, “About Henry. I think that we should...have an understanding of sorts. One that benefits both of us.”

 

Emma’s expression immediately lights up. “I suppose I’ll postpone my revenge for a day or two.” She smiles at Regina and Regina tries to stop the backflips that her heart is doing, as well as block out the twinge of guilt in her heart. “Thanks Regina.” She says, softly, and Regina bites her lip and watches as Emma practically skips out of the diner.

 

Despite their fighting, despite the slapping, despite the rude drawings on foreheads, Regina is horrified to find that somewhere, in the edges of that piece of coal she calls her heart, she has a fond kind of hate for Emma Swan. Key word being fond, and fondly hating someone only means one thing.

 

Friendly rivalry.

 

Horror of horrors.

 

So, Regina returns home, and ignoring the tingling of her skin, bakes an apple turnover.

 

  1. Regina’s still in denial about Emma Swan being her soulmate: aka Regina’s still in denial about Emma Swan being her soulmate by Regina Mills

 

Regina forgets, for a while. Well, not really. It’s just that she has other things to worry about, now that the curse is broken and Emma Swan being her soulmate isn’t really high on her list of priorities.

 

Except, that Regina begins to feel the loss of the terrible Sheriff, in a way that she never thought was possible. It’s odd, and unfamiliar, this feeling of missing someone you want to kill.

 

Okay, so maybe she doesn’t want to kill Emma.


Even when she’d given her the apple turnover, there was a kind of panic that rose to the surface as Emma had grasped the tupperware container. And she’d wanted to take it all back for a quick moment, but then she’d remembered her revenge, one that was far more important that doodles on her skin that now had the potential to make her smile.

 

And then Emma slips through a portal, saving Regina’s life, and her skin itches, and itches and itches.


Henry is distraught, and David tears through the town, and Regina- Regina has the power. She can know in an instant if Emma is alive, if she’s safe, all with a simple phrase, spelled carefully against her skin. She wants to, for some reason, and then one day, her hand reaches for a pen.

 

Sorry about the prank she writes, and prays that Emma doesn’t recognise something of Regina in the words.

 

Regina waits, for an hour, and then two. And then a day. She’s slowly losing hope, when she gets up the next morning, and right next to her words are some more, written in fading ink and Regina’s heart leaps.

 

I still plan on getting my revenge for that.

 

Emma’s alive, and Regina wants to laugh and cry at the same time.

 

***********

 

Her mother is back, so Regina starts wearing long sleeves again. She doesn’t know why she does; she’s an adult now and it’s not like her mother could hurt her...she doesn’t think. And she’s trying to kill Emma, so why try and protect the woman? All she wants is her son, because Henry is everything, and so she doesn't need to concern herself with mistaken soulmates.

 

Emma’s too preoccupied with the threat that Regina and Cora present to get her revenge, or so Regina assumes. And when things get bad, when Cora gives her one of those empty, empty smiles, and Regina misses her son so much that her heart feels like it’s about to crumble to dust- she picks up a pen, and draws a line.

 

Just a simple line, along her finger, or wrist. And she knows that somewhere, Emma is seeing that, and when little shapes are added to the line, in a different color, maybe a flower or two, the pain lessens. And yet when she meets Emma in that brief, bittersweet battle, she has to block the flowers and lines out of her head, the gloves on her hands protecting her little secret. She can see her drawings on Emma’s hands, as they flash towards her, intent on hurting, and grits her teeth.


And then her mother’s in her arms, and everything is lost because Cora smiled at her and it wasn’t empty. Regina stops the drawings, because everything that’s ever good is lost to her.

 

It’s only in Neverland that she even considers picking up a pen, but Emma’s right next to her and she’d forgotten for a moment, forgotten that the Emma she fights with is not the same Emma who draws little circles next to her rigid shapes. They’re two different people, because the Regina who draws on her skin is unknown to Emma and Regina, the real Regina, is everything Emma hates.

 

It’s all going okay, until Emma starts to doodle on her hands again, and Regina begins to panic.

 

It’s hard, extremely hard trying to hide her hands from someone when they’re in the middle of a jungle and gloves aren’t an option. She considers for a moment going to Rumple about a possible spell that could hide the drawings; but then he would put the pieces together and she doesn’t want him knowing. So she just hides her hands, underneath sleeves, or whatever else there is.

 

“Emma!” Regina hears Snow gasp and twists her head around to see a guilty Emma looking up, pen in hand. “Are you-”

 

“My soulmate.” Emma says, uncomfortably. “We just...communicate a little.”

 

Sure enough, Regina glances down quickly to see a little question inked on her skin. You still there?

 

Regina grits her teeth, and gathers her blazer in her hands, scrunching up and hold it in front of her on her lap. Digging her hands deep into the folds of the jacket, she listens to Emma and Snow’s loud conversation.

 

“Have you ever met them?” Snow’s expression is full of excitement, and Regina holds back a snort. “Was it- Neal?” Now there’s more hesitance in her voice, and Regina knows that Snow is thinking of the one time she came across a small little phrase that Regina had marked on her skin, one particularly bad afternoon. It wasn’t until years later that Snow would have understood the meaning of i miss you, written carefully onto Regina’s arm.

 

“No. It wasn’t Neal.” Emma replies, her voice dropping slightly. “And I haven’t met them, yet. Who knows if I ever will?” She shrugs, and Regina huddles closer to the jacket, hands tightening.

 

Snow inhales deeply. “Emma, they’re your soulmate. ” She says, and her tone indicates that to ignore the calling of one’s soulmate would be sacrilegious. “Everyone meets their soulmate.”

 

Emma just tilts her head to one side. “My life is pretty preoccupied right now, and I don’t need a soulmate to add to the mix. I like to...decide who I love for myself.”

 

Regina looks down at her hands again, and sees a little doodle being drawn on it. It’s a heart.

 

“Regina?”

 

It’s Snow, and Regina looks up from her hands, burying them in the blazer again. “What?” She replies, snappily.

 

“There’s got to be some kind of magic or something that...I don’t know, makes it wise to meet your soulmate? They’re rare, after all.”

 

And Regina looks at Snow, who met her soulmate and fell in love straight away, who’s luck in love is a long source of bitterness for Regina herself. “Just because you are soulmates doesn’t mean you’re obligated to meet them, Snow.”

 

Emma looks up at her, and smirks. “There you go, Snow. I don’t have to meet up with this soulmate. Besides, they seem like a bit of a-”

 

“Dick?” Regina supplies helpfully, and Emma glares at her but without any venom.

 

“Yeah, remember that time at Grannys? I’m still waiting to get my revenge on them.”

 

Snow looks at her daughter disapprovingly. “Emma, do you really think it’s a good idea start your relationship with your soulmate in such a bad way?”

 

Emma just twiddles the pen between her fingers. “Nah. Once this is all over, I intend to make full use of our connected skin.” Regina squirms uncomfortably, but this goes unnoticed. “Though, I have since I was a little kid. I mean, they must have been pretty annoyed.”

 

Regina can’t help it- she chuckles, and Snow and Emma look at her, surprised. She quickly stops. “What? It’s funny.” She defends, trying not to think of all the colorful scribbles that had adorned her skin in the early days when Emma had been just a child. “Everyone does that to their soulmate if they have one.”

Snow sniffs. “I didn’t. David said that he thought he didn’t have one until we tested it out that one time.” But she looks at Regina, and her eyes soften. “Did you do that with- with Daniel?” It’s definitely the wrong thing to ask, and it's a testament to their growing relationship that Regina resists the urge at throw something (preferably a fireball) at the woman. But Regina pushes down the rising anger, and simply ignores Snow, turning away from mother and daughter, instead electing for an uncomfortable sleep, filled with worries for Henry.

 

And things grow- softer - between her and Emma. Not in the sense of friendship, (Regina doesn’t think that she and Emma could ever be friends, not with what Regina’s hiding) but rather as allies. And it’s like before the curse broke, when they’d been heading towards that friendly rivalry that had scared Regina so much.

 

Okay, so perhaps it hadn’t been the friendly rivalry so much, but rather the fact that Regina was so scared that she would prove their fucking soulmate connection right, and go and fall right in love with Emma Swan.

 

Because there’s always been that possibility, and the last thing Regina wants to do is admit to the fact that yes the universe was right once again and Emma Swan was capable of being loved by Regina Mills.

 

But Regina pushes it aside, this time, doesn’t run off and try and poison Emma (because she learns from her mistakes) and instead casts unoticable fading curses on the ink on Emma’s hands, so that they in turn become less visible in the dark light of Neverland. She teaches Emma magic, and its incredibly hard, because she needs her hands, and then-


Snow spills the news that Neal might be alive.

 

And Regina just snaps. Because between worrying about Emma possibly finding out that her mortal enemy (okay more like frenemy but still) is her soulmate, and Henry, Henry, Henry always worrying about Henry, she can’t take it anymore. They are sitting around, while her son is in danger, and now they want to go look for a scruffy man child who had the idiocy to get himself captured?

 

“We are getting nothing done.” Regina bites out, as Emma looks at her mother with wide, hopeful eyes. “I don’t want to go off and run around on a fool's errand, looking for a man who is most likely dead. Pan plays games, you know that.”


But Emma’s eyes are all gooey, and wet, and Regina knows she’s lost her. So she huffs, spins around and ignores the reluctant grumbles behind her.


Working with Rumple is so much more fun, anyway.

 

  1. The year that everyone misses everyone: aka Emma and Henry are in another realm and it's terrible by Regina Mills

 

She tries to forget about it all, during the year in the Enchanted Forest. She tries so hard. And she doesn’t even want to think about it- but it’s always there, every time she goes to sleep, or thinks of Emma, or Henry, or Storybrooke. She’s tempted- once, once, to write on her skin and see if this soulmate thing still works across realms, but then the pain boils up and she throws the ink bottle across the room with a scream. It splatters, right on the wall and Regina watches with an odd kind of satisfaction as it drips, drips, drips onto the marble floor.

 

“Are you alright?”

 

Regina spins around to find that forest man standing there. Robin Hood, whose only redeeming quality is the son who reminds her just a little too much of her own sweet boy.

 

“I’m fine.” She sneers, and sweeps her dress around as she turns away again. “Go back to counting your...pinecones, or whatever you were doing.” He’s not an unpleasant man, but the look in his eyes as though he understands her pain (foolish, foolish man.) makes her skin prickle.

 

The man huffs slightly, and she hears his boots clip out of the room. She doesn’t regret it, this anger that she shows. Snow is understanding, David is gruff but also oddly fatherly, and everyone else gives her a wide enough berth that she doesn’t have to concern herself with them. But none of them truly understand. They think it’s just Henry that Regina is missing, Henry who makes the hole in her heart grow by the day. And it is- Henry- who is growing up every second and Regina’s missing it all, but it's also….Emma.

 

They don’t understand that it’s the regret Regina feels that’s eating her up inside as well. Regret for the possibilities that had been within her grasp, with just one little mark of ink on her skin to show Emma the truth.

 

“We need to defeat this witch, but we have no idea how. Snow says one day, as they sit plotting their attack against Zelena, and Regina scoffs.


“Yes, thank you Snow for pointing out the obvious.” Her voice doesn’t hold any venom, however, and Snow just rolls her eyes at her. It’s laughably ironic, how their relationship has shifted from one of mortal enemies, to Regina giving Snow tips on the early days of having a child.

 

“I just feel like we’ve gotten nowhere.” Snow says, and the ever present David places a hand on her arm. And suddenly, out of nowhere, Regina aches for someone to hold her like that. Henry’s been gone for six months now, and the ever present grief has shifted to loneliness, a horrible, bitter feeling that Regina is all too familiar with.

 

“Excuse me.” She says, and Snow nods as Regina gets up from the table. They continue their conversation with the others, and Regina stands by the balcony, and wishes, wishes she were seeing the same stars as Emma-

 

Damn it.

 

Fucking hell.

 

Well, it looked like she’d managed to develop some kind of romantic feelings for one Emma Swan.


**********

 

When Zelena is defeated, and Regina can sit down for the first time and think, she remembers the days in the castle, and the utter despairing misery.

 

It’s funny, actually, because Zelena actually did manage to fuck her over in the end. Regina had promised herself that she wouldn’t let another chance get away, and yet, as soon as she’d arrived back in Storybrooke, without the memories of those promises, she let Emma go again. Sure, she’d had Robin, whose soft smiles and warm touch erased the promise of ink on her skin matching someone else’s-born out of the jealousy she feels every time that pirate goes near Emma with that sickening puppy dog smile.  

 

She’s quickly reminded, however of Emma Swan’s asshole-ness, right before Snow goes into labour, and right after she’d woken Henry up from the curse. It comes out in a tumble of information, and Regina feels it like a punch to the gut.

 

“You were going to take him back to New York?” Regina stares at the other woman, and there aren’t words that describe the way her heart plummets to the bottom of her stomach. “Why- why would you do that, Emma?”

 

And Emma’s gaze is defensive, and not littered with all the different meanings that Regina’s sure are present in hers. Emma hasn’t had a year of pining after a lost opportunity; of building up that one possibility on a golden shrine and mourning what could have been. She’s had a year of their son, and she doesn’t want that to end. “He’s happy there, Regina. I just thought that he could come back to Storybrooke, you know, on weekends or something-”

 

“Like hell. Like hell I’ll only see Henry a few times a month- he is- I adopted him, and I am his mother and-” Regina snarls, and is mortified to find tears pooling in her eyes. “I just- I can’t believe you would even try to do this to me.”

 

And Emma manages to look slightly chagrined. “Well, it’s not going to happen anymore, you know that. But-”

 

Regina shakes her head and disappears in a wild puff of purple smoke before she can hear anything more of what Emma will say.

 

*************

Emma brings back Marian.


It’s not like she and Robin had been anything special- for a few weeks, he’d been someone who had plugged the loss that had only grown in her heart. But it feels like fate is fucking her over once again, saying no, you can’t be with anyone else, because Emma Swan is your soulmate and it just pisses her off.

 

So she takes it out on Emma, who naturally is apologetic but not regretful.

 

She hisses words meant to hurt, about consequences, and a now broken partnership. Emma begins to look increasingly like a kicked puppy, but all Regina can see is red, because once again, she’s left with a great empty nothing.

 

“Stay away from me.” She warns Emma, who reaches out to her with something like pain in her eyes, and watches as the woman retreats to the ever present pirate. “I need to be alone.”

 

And she goes home, goes to her vault, plots, plans, conjures fireballs in her hands and imagines that the brick wall she throws them at is Emma Swan. Then, she sits on her sofa, and puts ‘The Notebook’ on. Indulges in a bottle (or two) of wine, and curls up with a blanket, allowing the soppy romance to wash over her.

 

Halfway through her fifth ( sixth?) glass, she grabs a marker and draws two devil horns on her forehead, along with the words, im an idiot in capital letters. She smiles, and then collapses back on the sofa.

 

“Revenge...check.” She mumbles sleepily, and the tv clicks off and all is quiet.

 

*********

 

She wakes up in the morning with a pounding head, and a bewildered son shaking her shoulder.

 

“Henry?” She grumbles slightly, and looks up at the boy who is looking at her with something like terror. “What- what is it?”

 

Her son points at her forehead. “Mom? What’s going on with...that?”

 

Regina’s eyes widen, and she gets up quickly, groaning slightly as everything swims in front of her. Making her way quickly over to a mirror, she slaps her forehead with an almost comical kind of horror. “No.” She whispers. “Oh….no.”

 

The two devil horns, while shakily drawn, are unmistakable, as is the slanting, loopy script of im an idiot. Emma must have woken up by now, and Henry stayed at her house last night and-

 

“Henry…” She pleads, and turns around to her son who is still looking at her. “It’s not what-”

 

“You’re Emma’s soulmate?” Henry says, and there’s just wonder on his face. “That actually….makes sense.”

 

Regina rushes into the bathroom, and grabs a washcloth, hastily scrubbing at the words. “Don’t tell her, Henry. Please don’t.”

 

“But why?” There’s definite excitement in Henry’s voice now, and Regina bites her lip.

 

“Because despite what the universe may think, I am definitely not in love with your mother. It’s just a- a mistake.”

 

“Soulmates aren’t mistakes, Mom.” Henry says with all his thirteen year old wisdom. “You guys are meant to be!”

 

Regina presses her lips together, and looks down at the boy in front of her, his face shining with some kind of hope. “Maybe...maybe that’s the case, Henry. But soulmates don’t have to end up together. And besides, your Mom’s with Hook and I’m with-” She freezes, about to say Robin, before the previous night’s events come rushing back to her. Her face hardens. “There is no possible way that I could ever love that idiotic woman, especially after last night.” Her voice is cold, and she thinks that’s enough to persuade Henry, but he looks at her, knowingly.

 

“Mom, you guys are just-” He shakes his head. “You’ll figure it out, I know you will. But...Emma’s coming here in a bit, to apologize so…” He waves a hand at her forehead. “You might want to get that off.”

 

“She’s coming here, even with this on?” Regina says, surprised.

 

“She’s really sorry, Mom. She spent the entire night breaking things and being sad- Grandma’s annoyed ‘cause the this is the fifth time she’s broken the toaster because of you-”

 

And Regina sighs, because there goes her anger.

 

*************

 

She and Emma get to a place, where Regina might call them friends.

 

Might.

 

Because of the soulmate thing, Regina’s constantly on edge. What if Emma writes something down, as a reminder? God knows she’s done it more than once. Regina’s woken up too many times to count with the words, fetch milk on her hands.

 

There’s that whole debacle with the Ice Queen, and then the spell of Shattered Sight hits the town, and then, everything quiets down.

 

Only, Robin leaves town, and with it takes any hope of Regina having love outside of universe-screened-people. There are six weeks, six weeks though, of just simple, easy happiness, and Regina decides to accept that she’s going to hide this secret from Emma forever.

 

She’s happy with Killian, and Regina ignores Henry’s looks when he sees her watching them (she’s not jealous, that’s ridiculous, why would she be jealous?)  and instead works on Operation Mongoose.

 

Because if they can get the author, than maybe he can fix this little bit of screwed up fate.

 

She finds a piece of paper, one day, when searching. It makes her gasp, and she’s lucky it’s only Henry in the room, because what she holds in her hands would probably make Emma ask too many questions.

 

It’s Regina, with writing on her hand, holding it up and showing an illustrated Emma, who looks dumbfounded at her own hand, matching script on hers.

 

“Mom…” Henry says with his own kind of wonder. “Mom, it’s literally….written in the book. You have to tell Ma.”


“No, I won’t.” Regina fixes her son with a stern glare. “Your mother is happy with that pirate. Soulmates….it’s complicated. I’ve already had one soulmate, and I don’t need another.”

 

Henry wrinkles his nose. “This is stupid. You’ve been given a second chance, Mom. You had- had Daniel-” He hesitates on the name before continuing, “And now you have a chance, Mom, with Emma.”

 

“But she might not want it.” Regina replies, softly. “Your mother’s life has been dictated by fate, so many times.” She’d made this decision, quite firmly mostly because of Emma’s often obvious disgruntlement at being chosen by fate to be the Savior.“I know that feeling. She should get to decide who she loves.”

 

“At least ask the author about it.” Henry makes her promise, and Regina gives in.

 

“If we find him.”

 

And, in a moment of weakness, she slips the page into one of her drawers, in the Mayor's office, occasionally bringing it out.

 

They find the author. He’s a weasel of a man, and Regina instantly dislikes him, but his eyes light up greedily when she shows him the page.

 

“That….is something I wrote when I learned that Snow White was pregnant. It was always a given that Emma Swan would be Regina Mills’s soulmate, you know, because your lives have been intertwined since the moment they began, but this...this was just an experiment.”

 

Regina frowns. “What do you mean, a given? I had Daniel.”

 

“Yes, but you’ve been destined to cast the Dark Curse from the moment you were born. It was your destiny, your fate-”


Regina holds up a hand, to make him stop, and her heart beats wildly in her chest. A numb feeling spreads over her, and she can’t feel anything. “But….Daniel.”


Isaac gives her a glance that she thinks is meant to look sympathetic, but just ends up being fake. “He was destined to die.”

 

“Destined?” Regina whispers. “How can someone be...destined? He was a person.”

 

Isaac shrugs. “All I know is that Emma was meant to end up with you, and somehow, Daniel was the glitch. There are higher powers than me, even, and I’m afraid you can’t talk to them until you’re…” He makes a slicing motion across his throat, and smiles slyly.

 

There’s a pause, and Regina feels anger, such anger at the whole fucking universe for making Daniel the mistake, and not Emma. But then she shakes herself, and holds out the little pot which matches Isaac’s pen. “So, I guess you just need ink, right?”

 

Isaac eyes the pot greedily, and something sparks in his eyes. “Oh yes. That. All I need for the ink, is the Saviours blood.”


Regina winces. “Emma would be willing to do that, I guess. Should I go-”

 

“No, you misunderstand me.” Isaac says, and he eyes her her with a kind of dark scrutiny that makes Regina aware that he’s practically watched her her entire life. “I need the Saviours blood- but I need her to go dark. I need dark saviour blood. ”

 

“What?” Regina whispers, hoarsely. “You mean- for Emma’s heart to go dark?”

 

“Yes. It’s pretty simple actually.” He grins widely. “Remember how easy it was for you to slip right towards that impulse of vengeance. It was such a pleasure writing that journey. Emma has a lot of anger stored up inside of her- towards her parents, towards her fate...towards you.” Regina shivers, the guilt clawing in her stomach, and rubs her hands together, page shaking in her left one. “ It would be so easy to get her to go down that road- endanger the thing she loves most, perhaps find some way to make her seek revenge-”


Isaac’s words register in Regina’s brain, and suddenly she remembers Emma’s wide, forgiving eyes. Remembers the little hearts and flowers drawn on their skin, remembers the fact that Emma is her- is whatever she is, and there is no way that Regina could ever do that to her.


“No.” Regina interrupts, and she can barely control the way her hands are shaking as she lifts the paper towards Isaac. The man’s eyes widen, and he frantically waves his hands.

“What are you- this is your happy ending! You can be with whoever you want- I can- Robin Hood-”


But it’s too late, because the door is open, and the man is pulled, screaming and kicking into his prison, and Regina is crying.

 

“Why?” Emma asks, once she tells her what she’s done. “Why didn’t you want your happy ending?”

 

Regina avoids Emma’s searching stare. “Robin...he’s happy with Marian, in New York. I called him.” She explains. “And besides, it wasn’t the fact that I lost him. It was just the fact that I lost that- that almost. What would my happy ending look like anyway? I wasn’t about to get rid of Marian, again. And I have Henry and-” Her breath hitches, and she thinks you but says, “My family. I’m not- my happy ending isn’t a man. I can figure this out. I don’t need destiny, or fate, or any of that crap to get my happy ending.” And she means it. Of course she doesn’t tell Emma that in order for the ink to work, they would need a dark Emma, but that’s just one more secret she'll keep.

 

Emma nods, and her eyes are understanding. “Well, at least we have the author now. Just in case.” She says.  

 

Regina smiles, and hates the fact that as she looks at Emma’s green eyes, she feels all nervous. “Yes. Just in case.”

 

Soon they’re off to fix the next crisis, however, and Regina hides the page safely when it’s revealed that Rumple is out to free himself from his dagger, as well as change his fate. They send him over the town line, and Regina watches her old mentor hobble away from Storybrooke, with something like a lightness in her heart.

 

  1. The happy middle: aka being in love with someone who eats burgers and brings me kale salad is hell by Regina Mills

 

And so she’s happy, for some time. She has a family now, weekly dinners with Snow, David, baby Neal, Henry and Emma (along with the pirate but Regina elects to ignore him), and she and Emma often lunch together. Henry lives at the mansion, and also Emma’s house, in a comfortable agreement between the two that Regina would have never thought possible.

 

It’s...nice.

 

She barely even thinks about the soulmate thing anymore. There had been that time, when it was all she could think about. Different ways she would tell Emma. Different ways she would keep it a secret. All the ways it could go wrong.

 

All the ways it could go right.

 

But Regina is fine with keeping it to herself, and Henry stops asking her about it. On the bad days, Regina will think about how Daniel died so that fate could have it’s petty way and create one big joke out the Evil Queen and the Saviour being soulmates, but she supposes that her friendship with Emma is that soulmate connection. And she’s fine with that.


Absolutely fine with it.

 

“Kale salad.” Emma tosses down the plastic container, one lunchtime. “And a burger for me.” She opens her own container, and the greasy smell wafts over.

 

Regina wrinkles her nose. “I don’t know how you can eat that stuff.” She sniffs, taking a delicate bite of her salad. “It smells terrible.”

 

Mouth full of burger, Emma glares at her. “You don’t know real food, Regina.” She mumbles, before swallowing. “I swear, you could probably exist off air if you wanted to. Probably would taste the same as the stuff you’re eating.”  

 

“I like my salads. It’s that- that green stuff that’s said to be healthy? I wasn’t sure you’d heard of it.” Regina teases, and Emma rolls her eyes, fondly. “You should give it a thought sometime.”

 

“Ha ha.” Emma replies, and dangles a fry in front of Regina. “Well you should give these a thought, sometime.”

 

Regina plucks the fry out of Emma’s hand, nibbling it slightly, and ignores the way that Emma’s eyes fall directly to her lips. “I have. I did spend twenty-eight years never changing, so I could afford to indulge.”

 

Emma chuckles, and a comfortable silence settles between them. Only, after a while, Regina notices that Emma’s looking increasingly nervous, breath hitching, and shifting impatiently on her seat. “Emma?”

 

Emma crosses and then uncrosses her legs. “Yeah?”

 

“What’s going on?”

 

Emma takes a huge gulp of air. “Look- I know you and I...we aren’t typical friends. I mean, we argue a lot, and we share a son and- well- I mean we’ve both tried to kill each other at some point-”

 

Regina raises an eyebrow. “Emma I’m not sure if this is a very long winded insult or not, but I suggest you get to the point.”

 

“It’s a compliment.” Emma assures her, hastily. “I mean- you’re my….my best friend.” She mumbles, and there’s a definite blush on her cheeks. “Gosh, that’s so juvenile. Next thing I’ll be asking is if you’ll accept my friendship bracelet or something.”

 

Regina allows the warm, surprised feeling of what Emma’s said to spread over her for a minute before continuing. “Well...I don’t have much experience with friends, but I guess I’d say you’re the best one I’ve ever had.”

 

“So, I just need someone to talk to about this. And I can’t talk to my mom, because….she’s my mom, and I can’t talk to Ruby because she’ll tell my mom, and I can’t talk to Belle because we really aren’t close enough for that, and like hell I’ll talk to Henry about this and August is just all over the place- is he still even a little kid anymore? Wait maybe I can talk to him if he’s old enough-”

 

“Emma.” Regina interrupts her babbling. “You can talk to me.” Slow panic spreads over her, and she places her hands in front of her, attempting to look calm and talkable-to. Is that how one looks like they can be approached? She and Emma, while friends, have never really talked, talked, not unless its about Henry. And judging by the more serious look on Emma’s face, she wants to... talk, talk. Changing her mind, she places her hands in her lap- but-

 

“Regina, stop trying to look approachable.” Emma laughs as Regina’s movements belay her feelings. “I think that Killian’s going to propose.” She gives Regina a small, hesitant smile, and her eyes shine. “And I- I just. I just needed to tell someone, I guess. I think he’s going to do it tonight.”

 

Regina freezes. “Oh.” She squeaks, and her heart falls, falls, falls.

 

*************

Killian doesn’t propose to Emma, because before night can even fall, something bigger hits Storybrooke. And she's almost thankful for that- almost.

 

Rumpelstiltskin is back, and tearing apart the town for the author’s page.

 

“How did he even get back in?” Regina asks, the entire Charming clan plus Ruby and Belle having gathered in her office. “No one can cross over, not without the scroll.”

 

“Someone must have taken it.” Emma says, and eyes Belle.

 

“It wasn’t me.” Belle says, and her eyes are bright with tears. “God, no. But Rumple’s always managed to get around anything so perhaps-” She bites her lip. “He must have found another way. The knife was gone from the safe when I came back….I just thought it wouldn’t be in much danger since the only other person who knew the combination- Rumple- was gone. ”

 

Regina groans. “Wonderful. You always know things are going well when the Dark One finds ‘another way’.”

 

“What do you think he’s up to?” David asks, and his hand is clutching his sword tightly, as though he expects the Dark One to burst through the windows at any given moment.

 

“Probably after the author.” Regina grouses, and then lifts a hand to her forehead. “Look, I’ve got him all locked up, and under numerous protection spells. Rumple won’t be able to get to him, not even with all his infinite wisdom. This is blood magic, and unless my mother has once again hidden family connections from me, I think we’re good. No one can break through blood magic.” She sighs. “But...I don’t think that’s all he’s here for. No- Rumple wouldn’t undertake such a task when he’s at his weakest.”  

 

Emma’s watching her, Hook by her side. “What do you think he’s going to do?”

 

Regina sighs. “I’m saying that Rumple’s going to go find an ally. And I think I know who.”

 

***************

 

Regina’s right. The little pile of ashes that had formerly been Maleficent is gone when they arrive down in the caverns. “Wonderful. Absolutely-” Regina curses, and then glances at her son. “Sorry.”

 

“Hey, it’s okay, I’ve heard them all from Emma. Like, back when I was eleven.”

 

Emma glares at Henry. “Thanks for selling me out on that one, traitor.”

 

“So I think we can safely assume that the crocodile has gotten his ally.” Hook says, and sidles up next to Emma, hand on her arm. “And now he intends to go after the author?”

 

Regina shakes her head. “Yes, but- it doesn’t make much sense.”

 

“Why?” Emma stares down at the spot where she’d killed the dragon, only three years prior. “I mean, they get the page, they get the ink-”

 

“There’s something I didn’t tell you. About the ink.” Regina states, nervously.

 

“What?” It’s Hook and he looks outraged. “Don’t you think we’re entitled to that information?”

 

“I think you’re too entitled.” Regina mutters, but Hook doesn’t hear her. She clears her throat, and thinks about Mal, alive and well, and how this could endanger everything. “For the author to get the ink, and to use it- well- Emma would have had to go dark. That’s the real reason I put the author back in the page.”

 

Emma stares at her, mouth open. “But- we could have found another way.” She whispers, and there’s surprise in her eyes, which irritates Regina. Why would Regina, after everything they’ve gone through, try and turn Emma’s heart dark?

 

Hook glares at her, suspicion in his eyes. If it were anyone else, Regina would be offended, but she and Hook have a bitter history that spans almost half a century, and there is no love lost between the two of them. Unlike she and Snow, Hook and Regina will never be able to mend their 'differences' if not purely for the fact that he's a rum soaked marauder. 

 

“I’m telling the truth.” She snaps, mainly at Hook, and doesn’t look at Emma. She can sense that the woman is looking at her with those stupid, soft wet eyes, and she doesn’t have the time to get all gooey with Emma Swan at the moment. “Look, the point is, I think we know their motive. Emma’s blood is the key step to getting the author to rewrite our stories. A dark Emma’s blood.”


“We just don’t know how they’re going to do that.” Emma realises, and there’s a mixture of anger and exhaustion in her eyes. “Damn it. These past few weeks have been…”

 

“Nice.” Regina says, exhaling slightly. “I get it. I-” She chuckles bitterly. “Wherever Rumple goes, there’s trouble.”

 

Hook puts a hand on Emma’s shoulder, and Regina feels something like jealousy spike in chest. His gaze is fierce, and despite everything, despite the fact that Regina hates him and hates the fact that he can touch Emma so freely, so lovingly (no, she isn’t in love with emma, that’s ridiculous) she can’t fault him on the fact that he loves her. “Well, how are we going to stop them?”

 

Regina taps her lips, and a reluctant smirk makes its way to her lips. “I’m the Evil Queen. Who else would they trust more than me?”

 

*************

 

She meets Mal by the clock tower, somewhere around three in the morning. She’d sent out the signal they used to use back in the Enchanted Forest- a purple flare in the sky that would alert the other.

 

“I knew you’d figure it out.”

 

Regina jumps, from where she’d been leaning against the doors. Craning her neck, she sees Mal walking towards her, something that’s not quite a smile twisting her lips. For a brief moment, Regina allows her own bitter version of a smile to make it’s way on her face.

 

“Mal.” Regina breathes, and it’s good to see her old- whatever they had been back. She’d had a flicker of sadness when Emma had supposedly killed Maleficent, but then she’d had to deal with the curse being broken and it had wiped away any other thoughts but that. “I’m glad your back.”

 

Mal raises an eyebrow, and stops, a few feet away from her. “You trapped me in a basement, in my dragon form, for twenty-eight years.”

 

Regina shrugs. “So?”

 

Mal stares at her for a moment, and then throws her head back and laughs. “I see you are just as brash as you used to be, Regina.” She steps closer, and runs a finger along Regina’s jaw. Neither of them have had any trouble just- touching each other, and Regina shivers as Mal gets far too close to mean anything innocent. “It’s good to see you again.” She purrs, and now there’s a real hint of catlike grin on her face.

 

Regina raises an eyebrow. “I hear you and Rumple are up to something.”

 

Mal eyes her, for a moment. “I thought you might want to talk about that.” She crosses her arms. “How am I supposed to believe that you’re on our side? Rumpel tells me you're pretty close with those heroes these days.” Her eyes grow colder. “Particularly Snow White and Prince Charming.”

 

Regina twists her hands, curious. “I thought...I was the one with the grudge against the two idiots. What did they do to you?”

 

Mal sniffs, and there’s a flicker of real pain in her eyes, something that takes Regina aback. Mal never felt the need to have any emotional attachments- hence the fact that pain and grief had never been as much an issue for her. Regina had been the one with all the pent up anger and hurt, and Mal- well Mal had been the one with cool disdain that comes from centuries of being some sort of mythical dragon.

 

“They’re the reason I’m even teaming up with the imp in the first place.” She sneers. “I suppose you want to join? Why should we believe you?” She leans in. “Why should I believe you?”

 

Regina stands her ground, and looks up in Mal’s cool, cool eyes. While she may not have many emotional attachments, her friendship with Regina had been a rare one, which is how Regina knew that locking her up in the basement in dragon form without even a second thought would hurt. So she looks up into Mal’s eyes, and lets the mask slide into face.

 

“Because who else has wanted their revenge more than me?”

 

*************

 

Mal makes her prove it first, of course. Rumple is suspicious, naturally, but Regina can read in her mentor’s eyes that he’s not reluctant to let her in. Regina has never let the softness that she’s let grow for the Charming clan show in front of others; so Rumple must believe she still has enough anger left to help.

 

But first it takes a night of drinking with Mal to get them to trust her. Typical.

 

“I’ve got this.” She reassures Emma over the phone, looking at her vault where Mal is, lazily swigging from a bottle of- whatever she nicked from the bar they’d trashed. “Mal and I are...old friends.”


“Old friends?” Emma’s voice gets slightly higher on the phone. “Regina, as far as I know, you don’t have old friends.

 

“Fine. Friends, lovers, whatever you want to call us. I know her. Which means I can manipulate her. Come on , Emma, you know I can defend myself.”

 

“You guys were together?”

 

“That’s what you want to focus on?” Regina sighs, but at the same time something warm ignites in her stomach. “Not together, but….you know. Do I have to explain this to you now?”


“No, no.” Emma replies, hastily. “Go do….what you need to do.”

 

Regina rolls her eyes, smirking, and ends the call. She glances over at Mal, and hastily reconstructs her face into one more suited to dealing with ‘an annoyance like Emma Swan’.

 

“Don’t.” Mal calls, as Regina walks towards her. “Regina, stop this.”

 

“Stop what?” Regina comes to a halt in front of Mal, and smirks. “What do you want me to stop, Mal?”


“I know you aren’t going to work with us.” Mal says, with a heavy sigh. “I know you are in love with that girl, Emma Swan.”

 

The words hit Regina in the stomach like a punch. “Me?” She laughs nervously. “In love with- with that...idiot?”

 

“I’ve never seen you in love, Regina, but I always imagined it would look something like the way you looked when you were talking to her on the phone.” At Regina’s surprised expression, she sighs, again. “Regina, did you really think I wouldn’t try and listen in on the conversation? You’ve gotten rusty.”

 

Regina ,aggravated, and rubs her hands together to get rid of the itch that’s there. “I’m not in love with Emma Swan.”

 

“Oh yes you are.” Mal smiles sadly. “You know, I saw you two together, the other day. The way you look at her...well I remember a time when we were close to that.”


Regina shifts, uncomfortable. “I- I’m on your side Mal-”

 

“Stop it.” Mal waves a hand. “Look, I’m not really here to turn Emma Swan dark. ” She spits out the words. “I have no use for the author. In fact, I’m only working with Rumple for one thing. To find my daughter.”  

 

The news hits Regina hard. “You...you have a daughter?”

 

“Yes.” Mal replies, and her normally cool and expressionless eyes have a glimmer of softness within them. “That’s all I know. That, and that’s she’s called Lilith Page. It’s all that blasted imp would give me right now.”

 

“I can...help you, you know.” Regina says, carefully. “Rumple’s not the only one who can find people.”

 

“I know.” Mal says, and lets out a small laugh. “Why do you think that I didn’t kill you on sight for locking me up in that dungeon for years?”

 

Regina looks up at her, lips curving into a slow, slow smile. “So, what do you say we pull one on the master of trickery?”

 

“Just like the old days.” Mal says, and holds up the bottle, taking another swig. “Good to have you back.”


Regina takes the bottle from her, and chuckles. “This will be fun.”

 

**************

 

It’s not that Regina likes seeing Emma eye Mal with something that looks like jealousy. No, not at all.

 

But there is a certain allure to it, seeing the way that Emma looks her up and down, before settling on a cold sneer.

“So, you’re Maleficent then?”

 

Mal raises an eyebrow. “So, you’re the woman who impaled me in the chest?”


Emma huffs, and turns away, just as Snow and David enter the room. “Regina, what’s going o-” Snow begins, and then goes extremely quiet, as she spots Maleficent. “Maleficent.” She breathes, with a kind of horror that Regina knows only comes when the pure little Snow White has done something terrible. “You’re here.”


Maleficent’s lip curls, and she makes a violent movement towards them, before stopping, and taking a large breath. “You. You two have a lot to answer for.”

 

“Mal?” Regina asks, alarmed. She glances at Snow and David, both of which are staring at Mal with a horrible kind of guilt. “What- what did-”

 

Emma is now looking at her parents, horrified. “Oh...my god.” She whispers. “When you were telling me...about the thing you did….it was her kid?”


Regina had noticed that Emma’s behaviour had been off towards both Snow and David, but being too preoccupied with getting Rumple and Mal to trust her, she hadn’t thought to much of it. “What happened?” She asks, only it’s not a question, it's a demand.

 

“We…” Snow gulps, and David, ever the confident, charming prince, is hunched over. “We put the darkness that was meant for Emma into Maleficent’s baby.”

 

“What?” Regina spits, and looks towards her friend. “Is that how you lost her?”

 

Mal nods. “You lost her through a portal, if I am correct.” She says, stiffly. “I’m not here for vengeance.” She looks at Regina. “I only care about getting my daughter back.” Her voice is steady, but Regina knows Mal well enough to realise that she’s putting masses amount of energy into not snapping both Snow and David’s necks right now.

 

Emma’s pale, and Regina makes an unconscious movement towards her, to comfort her, but then Hook’s there, whispering something in her ear, and so Regina stiffly returns to her spot.

 

“Of course,” Snow is saying, or more like pleading. “We will do anything to help.”

 

“I don’t need your help,” Mal snarls, before closing her eyes and taking another large breath. “God. Okay, I need your help.” She points at Emma, who looks startled, before nodding.

 

“Of course.” She says, and she looks so heartbroken that it takes all of Regina not to go over there and...help. Regina’s not actually sure what she would do if she could comfort Emma, but she wants to help the other woman, wants to tell her it's alright. “What do you know about your daughter?”

 

“Her name is Lilith Page.” Mal states, and Regina watches as Emma goes pale, and then, with a sudden gasp, she runs out of the apartment.


“Has she caught a scent?” Mal asks dryly, but the desperate interest in her voice negates any snark.

 

“I’ll go after her.” Regina interrupts, before Snow or David or the pirate can run after her. “I think she needs a friend right now.”


Hook looks disgruntled, but stays behind. Regina turns on her heel, and walks swiftly in the direction that Emma had disappeared to.

 

She finds Emma in the Sheriff’s department, frantically whirling through old newspaper articles. “Are you alright?” Regina asks, and Emma jumps slightly.

 

“Fine.” She answers curtly, and before Regina can press more, Emma stops her frantic searching, landing on a birth announcement. Stepping back, she shakes her head, and then rummages through the old box she has on the table. Taking out a tape, she pops it into the television, and turns it on.

 

“Emma?” Regina questions, but Emma shakes her head.

 

“Shh.” She hushes, and clicks play on the remote.

Two girls fill the screen, and with a jolt, Regina recognises Mal’s playful eyes on the girl in front of her. “You know Mal’s daughter?”

 

“Know?” Emma laughs, bitterly. “Lily was- my best friend, for a long time.” She shakes her head. “More than my best friend.”

 

Regina looks back up at the television, and watches carefully at the way the young Emma glances at Lily with something that resembles what could only be described as puppy-dog love. “Oh. I see.” Regina says, and chuckles. “She was your-”

 

“My first kiss, yeah.” Emma scratches her head awkwardly. “I had a major crush on her.” She glances back at the television, and a nostalgic smile makes its way onto her face. “I remember- I remember I used to wish that we were soulmates.”

 

The words jolt Regina harshly, and suddenly she’s hyper aware of everything. “S-soulmate?”

 

Emma looks back at Regina, her smile softening. “Yeah. She had this little birthmark- a star actually, on her wrist. I told her, once, about my wish, and then she took this pen out and-” Emma grasps her wrist, stroking the inside of it, as though the mark were still there. “She put this star there. I kept it there for like a week.” She laughs.


“Oh, so that’s what that ridiculous sta-” Regina mumbles, before stopping abruptly. She remembers that star on her wrist. For a week, she’d worn a watch, right over the star, cursing that anonymous soulmate.

 

“What?” Emma’s eyes narrow. “What-”


“Nothing.” Regina waves her hand. “It’s nothing.”


“Okay…” Emma eyes her, before continuing her story. “But Lily would get me into all sorts of trouble. And so when she got me kicked out of my sixth foster home, a really nice family, I- I pushed her away.” Emma looks ashamed, and hangs her head. Regina hurries to reassure her.

 

“You had no idea what your parents did to her.” Regina says, and then grasps Emma’s shoulder. “This isn’t your fault.”


Emma lifts her head, and her eyes are haunted. “But isn’t it though? That darkness was meant for me.”

 

“We’re going to find her, Emma.” Regina says, fiercely, and pulls Emma into a hug. She hears Emma’s surprised intake of breath, and realises this is the first time they’ve ever hugged. But she doesn’t stop, and continues hugging the other woman, relishing in the way that their bodies seem to just...fit. “I’m going to help you find her, okay?”

 

“Okay.” Emma whispers, resting her chin on Regina’s shoulder, arms tight around the other woman. “Okay.”

 

**************

 

“So is this a road trip?” Regina asks, as Emma steps into her bug after having a cold goodbye with her parents.

 

Emma grins, any dejection from her encounter with her parents wiped off her face. “Two friends, on the road for justice. Reggie and Em-”

 

“Don’t ever call me that again.” Regina interrupts, and conjures a fireball in her hand. “Not unless you want to be toast.”

 

Emma holds her hands up playfully. “Alright, alright your majesty. I’ll just have to come up with a better nickname.”

 

Regina huffs, but allows the warm feeling that comes with their familiar banter to enter her chest anyway. “Don’t you dare.” She warns.

 

Soon they’re wherever Emma’s tracking led them to, and Regina glances at the filthy apartment with disdain. “I really did go to to much trouble creating Storybrooke, didn’t I? Honestly, if I wanted to make Snow miserable, this would have been the perfect way to do  it.”

 

Emma looks back at her, fond smile playing on her lips. “Mom says that she thinks its because you didn’t actually want her to be unhappy.”

 

“What?” Regina scoffs. “I hated your mother.”

 

“Not as much as I do right now.” Emma mutters, and her face falls again. “Sorry. I’m just…” She sighs. “So angry.”

 

“I get it.” Regina says, softly. “I really get that. When your parents just...don’t meet your expectations and let you down.”

 

“Yeah, you had Cora I guess.” Emma snorts, and then winces. “Sorry. That was insensitive.”

 

Regina waves her apology. “That’s fine. I wasn’t talking about my mother anyway. My father...Henry- he was wonderful in so many ways, but he never managed to protect me from my mother. Or the king.” She shivers. “Anyway, I know what you’re feeling.”


Emma nods, smiling tightly. “You’d never really expect Snow White and Prince Charming to let you down so spectacularly though, you know?” She shakes herself. “Whatever. Let's find Lily and get the hell out of here.”

 

But the apartment block turns out to be another dead end, and then they get a flat tire, and Regina’s really beginning to regret this road trip. Walking a mile in heels is not her idea of fun, especially when it's to get a tire.

 

Only, when she arrives at the coffee shop, Emma is breathless and her eyes are shining. “She’s here.” Emma says, and points at the waitress. “That’s Lily.”

 

And Regina stares at the girl who Emma had wished to be her soulmate, and pushes all those feelings out of the way. “Well, what are you waiting for?”

 

****************

 

Regina’s terrified.

 

Emma’s holding a gun to Lily’s head, and her eyes aren’t Emma eyes. They’re ones that Regina recognised so many times in the mirror, ones that were there, watching her her entire childhood. These eyes are dangerous, and Regina-- is -- terrified.

 

“Emma.” She calls, and she’s aware that she’s walking very slowly towards Emma. Her back is towards her now, and Regina has no idea, no idea at all what’s going on. She’s gained the ability to read Emma through her eyes, and now she can’t. “Don’t do this.”

 

That idiot girl, Lily, is gazing up at Emma with a kind of fearlessness that makes Regina want to slap her. She knows- this Lily knows, that if Emma kills her, Emma will be inflicted with the same kind of darkness that has plagued Lily for her entire life. This isn’t fear that’s keeping her standing there, arms askance- it’s revenge.

 

“She’s going to hurt the people I love.” Comes Emma’s blunt reply, and Regina feels her face drop.


“No, Emma you’re better than this.” She calls, softly, and now she’s right behind Emma, enough to slip a hand on Emma’s shoulder. “Please.” She says, and Emma’s head turns towards her, hands not wavering from their position.

 

“What, are you afraid that my heart's going to become a piece of coal?” Emma asks, and her eyes flicker with anger. “Like yours?”

 

Regina doesn’t flinch, because she knows that’s what Emma wants. “It will take a lot more than that for your heart to look like mine.” She’s close to Emma, close enough to kiss her, if she wants. “But it’s the beginning of a downhill slide, one that’s hard to come back from.” She holds Emma’s eyes, not allowing her to break from their gaze. “Trust me. I know.”

 

There’s a moment- just one moment- where they’re staring at each other, and it's just them. No gun, no Lily, no parents or fairytales, or pirates who smell like fish. It’s just them, and Regina realises this- this is what a soulmate feels like. There’s trust in Emma’s eyes, as well as truth, among the dead rage. And Emma’s eyes flicker, and return to life, and Regina can breathe again.

 

Then Emma’s crying, and she’s dropped the gun. She leans on Regina, and Regina strokes her hair. “It’s alright.” She soothes, and then glares at Lily, who is looking at them with some kind of wonder, still in her same martyr pose. “Get up.” She snaps, her anger at the girl boiling over. “You look ridiculous like that.”

 

And it’s all okay again, and Emma’s back, and everything’s going to be okay.

 

Regina’s calling home to Storybrooke to update them, and Lily and Emma are having a bit of a heart-to-heart on a log. Regina glances over at them, ignoring Snow’s babbling over the phone, and straining to hear the conversation.

 

She hears Lily say something like, “...love….and you really….honestly...” Regina scowls, and turns back to the phone. “Yes Snow, everythings fine. We’ll probably be home in-” She checks her watch. “Around seven pm. Yes, I’ll tell Emma.” She ends the call before Snow can bombard her with another round of questions. “Emma!” She calls over to the blonde. “We have a problem.”

 

Emma looks up from where she’d been looking at Lily, and there’s an almost guilty expression on her face. Regina frowns. “Looks like Gold did find way around my blood magic.”

 

“How?” Emma’s forehead creases, and she gets up walking towards Regina, Lily following her like some kind of lost dog. “I thought it was-”

 

“Unbreakable.” Regina sighs. “God, of course it isn’t these days. Turns out, Gold had a vial of my mother’s blood-” She sees Emma’s expression and makes a face. “Don’t ask. Anyway, he used it to break the spell around the Author’s page.”

 

“Well he still needs me to go dark, right? In order for the Author to do anything?” Emma says, shoving her hands in her pocket, glancing nervously at Lily who is looking increasingly more amused.

 

“Well, that is true.” Regina says. “But you know Rumple and loopholes.”

 

“I do.” Emma rolls her eyes. “You up for an adventure?” She asks Lily, who shrugs.

“Well, it's not like I’ve got anything better to do.”


Regina smiles at Lily, albeit frostily. “Well this is a matter of importance. Rumple could change our entire world if he finds a way around this ink rule.”

 

“Jeez, this fairytale crap sounds a lot more ridiculous when you two talk about it so seriously.” The woman replies, snorting.

 

“This is not the time for jokes.” Regina snaps, and then takes a deep breath. “We need to get back to Storybrooke. If Rumple manages to change our reality, then we are forgetting one very important thing.”

 

Emma’s eyes widen. “That...Henry wasn’t born in the Enchanted Forest-”

 

“So he won’t be in the story. And I have no idea what will happen to him.” Regina finishes grimly. “Let's get back to our son, Emma.” She meets Emma’s eyes, and sees her own frantic worry in there. Emma nods.

 

She stalks off towards the bug, but not before she hears Lily say, “ Our son? Emma, how is that not gay-”

 

“Shut up, Lily!” Emma hisses, and Regina wonders what on earth they’re talking about.

 

The drive back is quiet, with Lily dozing in the backseat, and Emma twisting her hands nervously. Regina drives, not allowing Emma to get anywhere near the wheel after the stunt she’d pulled earlier on.

 

“Are you okay?” Regina asks Emma quietly, looking at the back seat to make sure that the other woman is still asleep. “I mean...its got to be hard-”

 

“I’m fine.” Emma says, her voice closed off for discussion.

 

“Okay.” Regina replies, slightly hurt. “If you don’t want to talk about it-”

 

“I don’t.” Emma says, curtly, and then looks out the window, shoulders sagging.

 

Regina’s lips thin, but she shakes it off, and doesn’t try to speak to Emma for the rest of the drive.

 

Lily wakes up just before they drive over the town line, and Regina watches as her eyes glow a light green when they do. Regina makes a note of that; she’ll have to warn Mal that her daughter can most likely also turn into a dragon, so not to upset her. They arrive at Grannys, and as soon as Emma jumps out, she’s practically mauled by the pirate.


Regina scowls, and focuses on Henry, hugging him tightly. “Mo-om!” He says, laughing slightly. “You were literally only gone for eight hours.”

 

“I know. I just missed you.” She says, and she feels Henry’s eyes slide towards Hook and Emma.

 

“It’s okay, Emma’s pushed him away.” He murmurs in her ear, and Regina shakes her head fondly at her son.


“It’s not that!” She defends, but Henry just smiles.

 

Emma seems to have reconciled with her parents on some level, and that warms Regina’s heart, but it's Mal tapping her on the shoulder that reminds her of their mission in the first place.

 

“Is she-- is she here?” Mal asks, tremulously, and Regina watches as her old friend’s eyes widen as Lily steps out of the car. “She’s...beautiful.” She says with the kind of awe that Regina is all too familiar with, having felt the same way the first time she saw Henry. “Thank you.” She whispers, not looking at Regina, but directing it towards her.

 

Regina inclines her head, and despite the fact that she finds Lily a smug brat and far too much trouble, she’s happy for her friend.

 

“Right.” She directs a stern glance at Snow and David, who are looking particularly sorry at the sight of Lily, with her worn out jeans and old jacket. “We need to figure out what to do with Gold.”

 

*************

 

They’re sitting in the apartment, discussing what to do, and Regina is bored to tears.

 

“But, Gold doesn’t have the ink.” Snow says, for what must be the millionth time. “So he can’t do anything.”

 

“The crocodile always finds another way.” Hook glowers, just at the mention of his old foe. “He’s notoriously good at it.”

 

“How about you tell us all something we don’t know.” Regina says, and Hook glares at her. “Look, in order for Gold to get the ink, he needs dark Savior blood. How would he get around that? Is there another Saviour we don’t know about?”

 

There’s a silence, as everyone thinks. Then, Emma gasps.

 

“Oh my god.” She whispers, and everyone turns to look at her. “Lily. She has my darkness. She basically has my dark blood, or whatever.”

 

“Which means-” Regina’s eyes widen. “We need to find her. Get Henry to safety-” She directs at Snow and David, and gestures to Emma. “I might need your magic.”

 

Emma grins, a flicker of mischief in her eyes. “Come on, say it, Regina. I neeeed youuuu .” She crows, and Regina slaps her on the arm.

 

“Now is not the time for jokes, Emma.”

 

“There’s always time for jokes.” Emma replies, but then grows serious. “Let’s go.”

 

Regina waves her hand, and the two of them are encased in magic. They land in her vault, and Regina heads towards her ingredients for her potions.


“What are you doing?” Emma asks. “I thought we were going to go find Lily.”


“Yes, and do you have any idea where she is?” Regina says, and picks up a vial. “Here. Give me a drop of your blood.”

 

Emma raises her eyebrows. “Why?”

 

“Because if our suspicions are correct, and Lily’s blood can be used, this vial will not only confirm it, but also lead the way to her.”

 

Emma nods, and Regina hands her a pin. Raising the needle, Emma pokes herself, and a tiny drop of blood wells up from the puncture. Regina pours the vial on it and just as the blood lights up-

 

A great cloud of rolling purple smoke encompasses them, and the last thing Regina sees is Emma’s face, looking just as scared as she must.

 

  1.  A flipped world: aka Snow’s old log smells like feet by Regina Mills

 

When Regina wakes up, she’s in some kind of log cabin, dressed in what looks like Snow’s old rags, and Henry’s staring down at her.

 

“Mom?” He asks, cautiously, and Regina rubs her forehead and yawns in a decidedly un queenly like manner. Sitting up in bed, she rubs the sleep out of her eyes.


“What’s- what’s going on?” She groans, realising that she’s just woken up.

Henry’s face drops. “Okay, look. This is going to sound weird, but my name is Henry Mills and I’m your-”

 

“You’re my son.” Regina interrupts. Henry’s eyes light up, and he launches into a hug. “Oh, Henry.” She whispers, and strokes his hair. “What happened?”

 

Henry buries his head into her shoulder, and Regina can practically feel the nervous fear radiating off him. “The author wrote you all into a new reality.” He says, when he finally pulls back. Reaching into his backpack, he brings out a book with a very tacky cover. Heroes and Villains. “You’re basically the equivalent of Snow White, Grams is the Evil Queen here with Grandpa as her, i don’t know, henchman, and Ma and Hook are barely even in this. I had a bit of time to skim this while I was trying to find Isaac-”

 

“Wait, so you were left in our world?”

 

Henry makes a face. “Yeah.”

 

Regina feels a familiar rage clog her chest. “Rumple and that damn author are going to pay.”

 

Henry looks around him, and shifts, uncomfortably. “Mr Gold is some kind of saviour here, ‘the light one’ or something, and the author- well he came with me.”

 

Regina flicks out her wrist, willing fire into her palm. Of course, none comes, and she shakes her hand frustrated. Of course she doesn’t have magic here. “Where is he?” She growls.

 

“I don’t know.” Henry shakes his head. “Last I saw, he was running away from an ogre that he left me to.”


“That blasted-” Regina presses her lips together, and inhales deeply. “Redemption, right?”

 

“Redemption.” Henry agrees, with a chuckle. “I found Ma.”


Regina’s interest peaks. “Well? Why isn’t she with you?”

 

“None of them remember Storybrooke. She didn’t know me. Looked right at me, asked if I was a little too young to be in a tavern.” Henry replies, his voice slightly unsteady. “As far as Ma’s concerned, she runs the local tavern, with Hook.” Henry makes another face. “And they’re madly in love and getting married this afternoon.”

 

That shakes Regina right to the core. She draws a shaky breath. “Right. Well- I mean-” She stops, and leans on the bed slightly. “Henry...I’m so sorry, but I don’t know what to do. True loves kiss should break this curse- but with Snow and Charming otherwise-” She raises an eyebrow. “Well, evil, and-” She frowns. “Wait a minute. Why would the author put Emma and Hook together if they would then share true love’s kiss and break this curse? And why do I remember Storybrooke?” She already knows the answer, and it’s lodged in her throat.

 

Henry’s eyes gleam. “Well, here’s the interesting bit. I think that your punishment in this world wasn’t living out your days as a bandit- to be honest, I don’t think you’d be too bothered about that.”

 

Regina raises an eyebrow. “I beg to differ. Look around you, it's filthy in here.”

 

Henry shakes his head. “No, Mom, the reason you remember is because your punishment is different. Mr Gold wanted you to suffer, right? Like everyone else- but I think more, for some reason. I mean, Hook is a bigger weak ass pansy here than at home-”

 

“Henry!” Regina chides, but doesn’t stop him from continuing.

 

“I mean, he’s allergic to rum here, but even he gets his supposed happy ending with Ma. And Ma…” Henry makes a disgusted noise. “Well she thinks she’s madly in love with Hook, so naturally Hook’s over the moon. But you….you know Ma in this story.”

 

“I do?”


Henry taps the book again. “It says in here that your paths frequently cross at the local tavern. My guess is that with you being in love with Ma, and that whole soulmate thing-”

 

“Hey!”

 

“Your punishment is for her to barely even remember you, and to get married to Hook, and actually seem happy about it.”

 

Regina is about to protest, but she pauses. “You...you really think that?” She asks, voice small. “I mean, Emma’s in love with Hook back in Storybrooke as well-”

 

“Please.” Henry scoffs. “I’m sorry Mom, but you two are so oblivious. Ma’s been in love with you for ages. She follows you everywhere, looks at you like a puppy dog- you guys have to share true love’s kiss, Mom. It’s the only way. That, combined with the fact that Ma’s the saviour should be enough to get us out of here.”

 

“It’s not true.” Regina interrupts, and runs a hand through her son’s hair, eyes flickering slightly. “Henry...your mother and I may be soulmates but- true love’s kiss? I don’t know-”

 

“Stop it!” Henry bursts out. “You are in love with Ma, and this is our only chance at breaking the curse. Mom, if the bells chime after Ma’s wedding to Hook, that’s it. This will be our reality.”

 

Regina looks at him, and then fidgets. “Henry-”

 

“No!” Henry says, and now he’s angry. “No, Mom! You do not get to condemn us to a universe where everything is wrong, and Ma doesn’t remember me, and doesn’t remember you. You don’t get to do that. I wanna go to university, thank you very much, and I’d rather not live out my days in a-” He flaps his hands around the room.”Whatever this- a pine cone!” He stops his tirade, slightly out of breath. “So get your act together.”

 

Regina looks at him, for a while, and then slowly raises her eyebrows. Henry flushes. “Sorry.”

 

Regina nods. “It’s not that easy, Henry. For a long time...I was angry at- whatever force out there at giving me another soulmate. I didn’t recognise it for the chance that it was, and by the time I realised that I...I loved your mother, it was too late. I don’t want to ruin her happiness with Hook.”

 

Henry grabs her hands, looking at her earnestly, and her little boy is so grown up that Regina feels inescapably proud in that moment. “She won’t have any kind of real happiness unless you break this curse. Mom, I know this will work. Please. You’ve got to kiss her.” He makes a face. “Wow, I never thought I’d say that to my mom. It’ll work. Ma’s the saviour- it will work.

 

Regina cups Henry’s face, and smiles. “For you.”

 

***********

 

“Where can we find her?” Regina asks, as she scoops up the bow and arrow in the corner of the hut. She somehow knows, in the way that her fingers twitch, exactly how to nock an arrow, and let it fly right into it’s target- despite the fact that the only archery lessons she received had been from Robin. Only a meager two, and those had ended in something other than archery. Just for safety reasons, she also straps a sword to her belt- because if she sees that author a few arrows aren’t going to be enough.

 

Henry’s flipping through the book, shaking his head. “There’s no mention in here of where Hook and Emma are getting married. He did it on purpose.” Henry grimaces. “To make sure that Emma’s Saviour powers wouldn’t get in the way.”

 

“So, where is she usually?” Regina asks, slinging the bow over her shoulder. “We should find her.”

 

Henry nods. “Well, when I saw her, she was at the tavern. So, I guess we head over there.”

 

They trek through the forest, around half a mile, with Henry leading the way, nose in book, making sure they don’t fall prey to any traps. When they’re on the edge of the village, Regina spots a cosy little tavern, called “The Hooked Arm”.

 

“Really?” Regina grumbles, seeing the name. “How….tacky.”

 

They enter, and immediately Regina feels a shift in the air, as everyone looks at her. She’s used to fear, hatred, the occasional shouting peasant- but not- this. They look at her with a kind of reverence that makes her aware that she’s the Snow White of this realm.

 

“Regina!” A voice calls, and Regina spins around to see Emma hurrying towards her, eyes bright. Except, everything’s wrong, and Emma doesn’t look at her with the softness that she’s used to, or as though she knows everything Regina’s thinking. Emma grabs her into a hug, and Regina stiffens.

 

“E-Emma.” Regina replies, awkwardly patting the other woman on the back. “Good to see you.”

 

“I’m so glad you're here!” Emma laughs, and twirls around, her dress floating around her. It’s then that Regina realises that Emma’s dressed in some horrendous lacy affair, obviously meant to be a wedding dress. “The wedding starts in 15 minutes. I wasn’t sure if you’d come, but now that you’re here, I’m- I’m so glad.” Emma takes her hand, smiling at her as though they were friends.

 

Which is what they are supposed to be- back in Storybrooke, and suddenly Regina realises that they way they look at each other….isn’t the way friends are supposed to.

 

“I...I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

 

Emma beams again, and she’s not Emma. She’s some kind of chirpy, perfect-housewife version of her, with her lacy dresses and Snow White-esque attitude. This isn’t Emma- it’s a mockery of her.


“Oh, hey, who’s that?” Emma asks, spotting Henry. “Weren’t you in here earlier?”

 

Henry’s eyes are also sad, and make Regina all the more determined to break the curse. “I’m...Henry.”


Emma smiles again, and it makes Regina shudder, the way she’s so…. sunshiney. “Well, nice to meet you Henry. Are you a friend of Regina’s?”

 

“Er- yes.” Henry replies, and scuffs his feet on the floor. “You could say that.”

 

Emma jumps up and down on her feet, and then looks over her shoulder. “Oh, there’s Killian!” She waves the man over, and oh god Regina wants to laugh. The once ‘dashing rapscallion’ is dressed in formal peasant wear, his hair combed neatly. The lack of eyeliner and gaudy metal jewelry gives him a much more homely look.

 

“Hey there, Regina.” Killian says Regina shifts, nervously, not knowing what her relationship with the Killian of this realm is like. “So...glad you could make it.” There’s a hint of distaste in his voice, and Regina realises, oh, not so different after all.

 

“Well, I- I just wanted to speak to Emma for a moment.” Regina coughs, ignoring the way her palms are sweating. Honestly she’s not normally this nervous. “In private, if- if that’s alright.”

 

“You’ll have plenty of time to speak to her after the wedding.” Killian answers, cutting of Emma who’d opened her mouth to speak. “We’ve got to go.”

 

Emma doesn’t answer at all, just takes Hook’s arm, and allows herself to be led away. Regina stays there, frozen, until Henry taps her on the shoulder.

 

“Well that went well.” He says, dryly. “I guess it’s the good old fashioned wedding-crash then.”

 

“No.” Regina says, because how can she do this? “We’ve got to- we’ve got to stop Emma from going into that church.”


She looks at Henry, and the two of them go in the direction Hook and Emma had disappeared in. “Where did they go?” Henry asks, as they make their way out of the tavern. “The church?”

 

“Shit.” Regina curses. “Sorry. We need to catch them-”

 

Soon they’re in front of the church, and Henry nudges her towards the door. “Go!” But before Regina can even take a step further, Rumple appears in front of her, sword ready.

 

“I can’t allow you to go in that church.” He says, very, very seriously, and Regina draws her sword.

 

“Henry, run into that church and get Emma.” She says, and parries Rumple’s first blow. “Now!”

 

Henry bolts towards the church, and Regina’s parrying, trying to strike her own blow against Rumple. She hears some shouting, and in the corner of her eye, sees Emma running towards her.

 

“Emma!” She yells, and Rumple’s getting faster and more aggressive. “Emma, I have to tell you something!”

 

Suddenly Henry’s by her side, helping her with Rumple, a sword in his hand, and she’s terrified. “No, Henry!” She says, and Rumple’s still managing to hold off the both of them somehow.

 

“Regina!” Emma’s calling to her, and now she’s got her own sword in her hand- from Hook, Regina supposes, but from the way she’s holding it it’s obvious she’s got no clue how to use it. Emma runs towards Rumple, only for the man to blast her aside with the wave of his hand.

 

Regina looks at him, shocked, and he grins. He’s got magic in this world- so why on Earth isn’t he-

 

Regina is forced off her feet with a wave of his fingers, and now it’s just Henry fighting the man. She struggles to her feet, just has Henry’s disarmed, and her eyes widen, and then she’s running, as fast as she ever has, and briefly she’s aware that Emma’s running towards Henry as well-

 

But Regina gets there first, and slides in front of Henry in one fluid motion. The sword cuts across her chest and arms, slashing her skin, and she’s falling, falling to the ground. And Emma jerks back, looking at her bare arms as thin, white slashes appear on them, and then at Regina, in horror. The marks on her arm perfectly resemble Regina’s wounds, and Regina closes her eyes. The secret’s out, it seems, but this isn’t her Emma that’s even finding out.

 

Rumple looks grim, and with another twists of his fingers, he disappears. Regina feels the world tremble around her, and suddenly she’s in Emma’s arms, being held tightly.

 

“Why didn’t you tell me?” Emma asks, and her voice almost sounds as though it’s the real Emma. “I...I didn’t know-”


“Emma…” Regina whispers. “We’re in the wrong world. Your memories have been-” She winces, as a ripple of pain flows through her. Distantly, she’s aware of Henry shouting at someone, and wants to go comfort him. “Changed. But in our world, the real world- I love you. I love you, and I didn’t-” She sucks in another gulp of air, and is suddenly aware that tears on Emma’s cheeks are dripping onto her face. “I didn’t tell you. I’m sorry.”

 

Henry’s dabbing some kind of pen in her blood now, whispering, “Don’t worry Mom, I’ll fix this.” And then he’s writing on her arm, and Regina can see the same print being stamped onto Emma’s.

 

“I wish you’d told me.” Emma says, looking at Regina with a kind of wonder, and it's the last thing she sees because her eyes close with a kind of finality. She feels a soft kiss brushed on her lips, and she sighs, because this must be the end, right now, right here. “I lo-”

 

Everything disappears.

 

**************

 

When she wakes up, she’s in the middle of the main street, Emma’s arms still around her. There’s a pause, as Emma looks down at her, their faces only inches apart, just staring, and then she whips into action. “Are you alright?” She asks, gruffly, and Regina nods, hands patting the area where she’d been hurt only a moment ago.

 

“I’m...I’m fine.” She says, and then Emma gets up.

 

“Alright.” She says, and Regina gets up from where she’s lying, hugging Henry who is now looking at Emma with a kind of dubious hope. “Alright. So, let’s just-” She shakes her head. “A pen. I need...I need a pen.”

 

“Emma…” Regina says, but at Emma’s face, conjures a pen. Emma grabs it, and holds Regina’s gaze for a moment before uncapping it, and scribbling something on her palm. Regina, looking down, sees the script- why didn’t you tell me? She holds up her hand, and Emma holds up hers, and they’re both staring at each other, Emma in shock, and Regina with some sort of relief.

 

“Why?” Emma asks, and out of the corner of her eye, Regina sees Snow, David and Hook running down the street, their expressions too far away to distinguish. “Why didn’t you just...tell me?”

 

Regina inhales deeply, and moves towards Emma, only for Emma to move away from her. “Emma….” She begs, and to her horror feels tears rising to her eyes. “I didn’t think you’d want me.”

 

“Of course I wanted you!” Emma practically shouts. “I-”

 

Before she can say anymore, Hook’s there, and sweeping her up into a hug. Emma’s face immediately changes, and she’s hugging him back, and Regina knows, she knows she’s lost her. Not that she ever had her in the first place- something which hurts her more and more with each minute. Snow and David look sheepish, but happy to be back, and everyone’s there, hugging and laughing, and-

 

They’re at Granny’s, eating a celebratory dinner, when Regina can’t stand the way that Hook is fawning over Emma. The man is exchanging secretive smiles with David, which can only mean one thing- the thing that Emma told Regina about in her office all those weeks ago-

 

Bile rises into Regina’s throat as she thinks about the alternate-world Emma, in the fluffy lacy dresses, and the vapid smile on her face that only seemed real when she was holding Regina and-

 

“Excuse me.” She murmurs, and gets up from the table. She rushes towards the hallway, breathing heavily as she leans against the wall. In- out. In- out.

 

“Regina.”

 

Regina spins around, and is greeted by Emma, who’s looking at her, lost. “E-Emma.” She stammers, not knowing quite what to say, something that’s very rare. “I-”

 

“Just…” Emma cuts her off. “Why didn’t you tell me?” Her question is plaintive, a simple question, one that she wants a clear cut answer to. But Regina can’t give her that, because some days it would feel like there was all the reasons in the world not to tell Emma, and some days it felt like there were none at all.

 

“I was scared.” Regina tries, brows furrowing. “I- I mean we hated each other, when I found out.”

 

“I didn’t.” Emma says, almost shyly. “I never- I never hated you. Maybe when the curse broke, for a second, but...but not really.”

 

“Because I’m Henry’s mother.” Regina offers, a tired smile on her face. “I know, Emma. Henry asked you- you couldn’t hate the woman who raised your son.”

 

“No.” Emma says, and she’s genuine. “No, Regina, I couldn’t hate you.

 

There’s a silence, and Regina sighs. “Look...I’ve obviously missed whatever chance I might have gotten if I’d told you. I know that. I know that you must be angry-”

 

“I always wondered who my soulmate might be.” Emma cuts her off again. “I just...I thought from the way they spoke to me, and the way that they drew on my skin they wondered as well. But you knew. You knew, and-” Emma shakes her head. “I don’t get it. You would...we talked, Regina, through our skin. I knew my soulmate, even though I didn’t know their name, or what they looked like, or anything about them. I just never realised it was you- but-” She makes a frustrated noise, unable to express exactly what she’s trying to say.

 

“Is it too late?” Regina asks, and her fingers dance along her palm. “Can we still…”


Emma looks at her, silently. Then she says, “I need a bit of time.”

 

Regina nods, already feeling the tears rising in her throat. “Of course.” She manages to choke out. “Tell everyone I was tired, okay?” Before Emma can answer, she raises a hand, and disappears in a cloud of purple smoke.


**********

 

She avoids Emma for a week.

 

She hears from Snow, who visits her in an attempt to weasel out the reason Regina’s avoiding them all, that Emma’s broken up with Hook, citing reasons of it doesn’t feel right, and i don’t think we’re good for each other. Internally, Regina rejoices, because this is all she’s wanted from the moment Emma began to date Hook- but now-

 

“I don’t want to talk about it.” She snaps at Snow, when the other woman tries to get the truth. “That’s between...me and Emma.”

 

“Okay.” Snow says, and taps her foot impatiently against the wooden floor, hands fiddling. And Regina sighs, knowing an impatient attempting-to-hide-a-secret-Snow when she sees one.


“What do you know?” She asks, wearily.

 

“I know you and Emma are soulmates.” Snow blurts out, before covering her mouth with her hand. “Oh- Emma asked me not to-”

 

“Tell me she’d told you?” Regina says, and there’s a chuckle bubbling in her throat. “I think we’ve long established that you are crap at keeping secrets.”

 

Snow looks slightly abashed, but that all evaporates as she starts to talk again rapidly. “I think it’s wonderful, Regina. I mean, it makes sense. I was slightly… well I mean given our history, it was odd for me at first, but I get it now! You and Emma have been in love forever, now that I think about it-”

 

“Shush.” Regina hushes Snow. “Please, don’t say anymore. Like I said, this is between me, and Emma.”

 

Snow squeaks in agreement, and they go back to talking about baby Neal, who’s first word was ‘curse’.

 

And for a week, Regina thinks about everything that seems to have gone wrong, and what she could have done differently.

 

Until, one day, her doorbell rings. And it’s Emma, standing breathlessly on her doorstep, like she’d run to get there.

“I just realised-” Emma gulps. “I just realised that you checked on me- when I’d fallen through the portal, right?”

 

Regina nods slowly, her heart beating fast at the sight of Emma on her doorstep. “I...yes. I was worried about you.”

 

Emma bobs her head, and paces on the porch. “And in Neverland- that’s why you were always carrying that blazer around, like it was some comfort blanket or something. Snow hypothesized that you had some terrible rash on your skin or something, but I mean-”


“I didn’t have a rash!” Regina sniffs. “All I had were those atrocious drawings that you would not stop with.”

 

“And with Cora- with Cora, that’s when you started the doodles.” Emma’s watching her intensely, as though her every reaction is vital. “I mean, we were literally trying to kill each other- well you were anyway, and you were doodling hearts on my skin.”

 

“I was not.” Regina says firmly, but her skin heats up. “And they were never hearts. That was always you. I always drew sensible things like- like squares. Or lines. I did a lot of….” Emma’s gaze is still on her, and Regina shifts. “...lines.”

 

Emma’s still looking at her, cheeks flushed a rosy pink, breath coming out in fog in the wintery air. “Hearts, Regina. I drew hearts on our skin.”

 

“Yes.” Regina says, and her hand clenches the doorknob tighter. “Why are you here, Emma?”

 

“I just realised- I mean- I thought maybe you didn’t want me to know about us being soulmates because you were horrified or something-”

 

“I was never-” Regina stops, scoffing. “I was only horrified in the beginning.


“But I realised,” Emma continues. “But I realised that you’ve cared for a long time. You once...you once wrote to me, when I was hurt, and it- I mean, you were there, Regina. Even if you didn’t always show it, you cared, like I did about you.”

 

“You...you cared about me?” Regina asks, softly, and feels the rigidness in her spine relax.

 

“Regina...I cared about both you and my unknown soulmate. And-” Emma shakes her head, almost bitterly. “I vowed to myself that if I ever even got a chance with you, I would go nowhere near my soulmate.”

 

This wipes any words from Regina’s mouth; she stares at Emma for a long moment, heart gradually beating faster, faster, faster. “Oh.” She finally says, and her hands tremble. “Oh.”

 

Emma’s eyes meet hers. “I- love you. Okay? I just- I never thought we had a chance.”

 

Regina’s breathless one now, and she reaches for Emma’s jacket, fingers grasping at the lapels and pulling her slightly closer. “I thought I’d missed any chance we could have gotten. I thought fate was there to screw me over. That’s why I-” Regina flushes, ashamed. “I was partially...afraid that fate would- you know.”

 

Emma’s grinning now. “So you didn’t tell me we were soulmates just because you have an issue with fate?”

 

Regina feels the tips over her ears go red, and ducks her head. “Shut up.”

 

Emma pulls her flush against her body, and now Regina’s close enough to see the freckles on her skin. “Gladly.”

 

Emma’s lips meet Regina’s, and a burst of light illuminates every sketch, every heart, every rude drawing on their skin for just a second, before melting away around the two women whose hearts have belonged to each other for so long.

 

*********

 

  1. They live happily ever after: aka Emma Swan is my goofy idiot by Regina Mills


“I bet fate is having a good old laugh right now.” Regina grumbles, exactly three months later after that day on the porch. “Look, I got her again.” She mocks, using a high pitched voice. “She’s all happy with her soulmate, and in love-” She drops her voice a couple of octaves, “And now I’m going to rip it all away again.”

 

Emma slides an arm around Regina’s waist, and kisses her soundly. “I swear, this ongoing, one sided feud between you and fate has to stop. I will not be ripped away from you, I promise that. I’m sorta stuck to you like a barnacle if you haven’t noticed.” She wiggles her eyebrows, and Regina snorts.

 

“Yes, I suppose you are.”

 

Emma smiles, and leans in to kiss her again, Regina turning her face so that it lands on her cheek. She smiles, as Emma looks disgruntled. “Focus on our son’s soccer game, will you?”

 

“Hmmm.” Emma hums, in a singsongy tone. “ Well, someone knows I’m ri-ight about the whole fate feud.”

 

Before Regina can answer, Henry’s running towards the goal, and she and Emma are both yelling and screaming, hands waving in the air as his kick sends the ball flying towards the goal.


Henry finishes his game, his team winning 2-1, and Regina smiles as he walks off the soccer pitch. He’d been incredibly smug about having his two mother’s together at last (his ‘theory’ apparently, had been correct) - especially now that both his mothers were in one house, living together.

 

“Feels like a family, you know?” He’d said one night after dinner, and Emma was in the kitchen cleaning up. “Not that it didn’t before- but now...you’re happy, and Emma’s happy, and everything just seems better.”

 

Regina rubs her hands together, trying to ward off the cold that’s seeped into her gloves. Christmas is fast approaching, and that means that the frost layering the ground will soon turn into snow. “It’s cold.” She shivers. “Who’s up for hot chocolate at Granny’s?”

 

There’s something in Emma’s face as she shrugs. “I’m going to head home for now.” Even after a few months of Emma having lived in Regina’s house, it still makes Regina’s heart warm every time Emma calls it home. “Just a bit tired, but you two go on ahead.”

 

Henry nods, slinging his thick winter coat over his purple soccer uniform. “Alright. Mom, you coming?”

 

“Yes dear.” Regina agrees, and smiles at Emma. “See you then.”

 

Emma waves them off, but Regina can’t get rid of the oddest feeling that something is wrong.

 

And then it happens.

 

While they’re sitting at Granny’s, Henry sipping his hot cocoa, and Regina her warm tea, she suddenly feels people looking at her. Frowning, she wonders if she’s spilled something on her dress, but looking down, she finds nothing.

 

It’s only when Henry looks up from the menu, and starts coughing from his laughter, hot chocolate practically coming up his nose, that Regina realises what’s happened. Glancing in the reflective surface of the napkin dispenser, she sees a very rude symbol drawn on her forehead, with the words revenge sure is sweet, i should know

 

Regina can’t help it- she growls. “Excuse me, Henry.” Henry’s eyes go wide, and with a swirl of purple smoke, Regina’s back at home, and she can hear Emma’s muffled sniggers coming from the living room.

 

Not signaling that she’s home, Regina sneaks quietly into the living room, where she is greeted with the sight of an almost hysterical Emma, mirror in front of her face, purple marker in hand, giggling as she attempts to draw something, hand slipping every time a chuckle bursts out of her throat.  

 

“Well, it seems you got your revenge.” Regina says, and Emma whirls around, dropping the mirror, with half a mustache drawn on her face. The expression on her face is comical- one of absolute fear.

 

“R-regina. I wasn’t expecting you to get- home so- so soon-” Emma mumbles, eyes widening.

 

Regina lets her face stay in that severe, stern expression for one moment, before laughing. “Well, I was warned, several times, wasn’t I.”

 

Emma grins, and waves the purple marker. “I must say, you look wonderful.”

 

Regina grabs the pen out of Emma’s hand, and pulls her towards her, so that Emma is leaning over the edge of the sofa. “Well, as you know, in some circles I am known as quite focused on revenge.” She kisses Emma, and then pulls away, leaving Emma with an unsatisfied pout. “I was going to make lasagna tonight...but now I think I’ll go for some kale salad.”

 

Emma’s face drops. “Don’t do this, Regina-” Emma says, dramatically flinging her arms around Regina’s waist, keeping her in place. “If you love me, you’ll spare me the kale salad!”

 

Regina just shakes her head, and laughs.

 

And even though she has purple marker scribbled all over her face, and even though there’s no way she’s ever getting her reputation as the fearsome Madame Mayor back, not with what’s drawn on her face , and even though the universe has still made a massive colossal huge mistake- because there’s no way that Regina could deserve the person that is Emma Swan- she’s happy.

 

So, there we go. Regina thinks wryly. You win this round, fate. I love the person you chose. But I’d love Emma Swan in any universe, anywhere, because she’s Emma, not because she’s my soulmate. So you may have won the battle, but I’ll win the war, I guarantee it-

 

But Emma’s kissing her again so Regina stops thinking about fate. The purple marker drops the floor, unnoticed by the two women with the colorful and rude drawings on their faces who are otherwise....preoccupied.

 

The End.