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A Second Try

Chapter Text

"Take it back," the queen demanded. "We're not keeping it."

"Regina," Emma begged. "I promised Henry."

"I don't care. You're taking it back. That's the end of the conversation."

"Regina!" the blonde cried. "Please! I'll take care of it. You won't have to even touch him or think about him or even know he's-"

"Enough!"

Regina slammed her empty mug down on the counter, looking sternly at her lover. When Emma opened her mouth to protest again, the brunette took a threatening step forward.

"I'm going to work," Regina announced, "and if it's not gone when I get back, we're going to have some serious problems."

"What am I supposed to tell Henry?"

"You can tell Henry whatever you'd like, but it's not staying."

The dog whimpered and cowered at Emma's feet.

"Come on, Spot. We're gonna go away from the mean lady and hope she changes her mind."

As Regina walked away, she raised a hand to cover her mouth and stifle the giggle threatening to pass her lips. Spot? she was thinking. Seriously? For a plain black lab? As soon as Emma had temporarily shut the dog in the bathroom, she suddenly looked out towards the hallway and gasped.

"REGINA!" she screamed, bolting down the hallway.

The woman stopped in the doorway, bracing herself on it with one hand and turning to look at Emma.

"What?" she asked flatly, still looking irritated.

Emma threw herself into her lovers arms and crashed their lips together. At first, Regina was too angry to kiss back, but as Emma refused to pull away, she softened into the kiss and moved her lips as well, even letting her tongue dart out slightly to slide along Emma's bottom lip.

"I love you," Emma whispered as she pulled away. "Please don't be angry with me."

"I'm very angry with you, Emma," Regina assured her. "So angry that when I get home, I might even punish you for your insolence."

Emma's eyes went wide, a blush rising to her cheeks.

"I... Um... Okay..."

"You deserve it, you know," the queen scoffed.

Emma nodded and hung her head.

"I'm keeping it, though," she said. "You'll come around eventually."

"We'll see how well you behave tonight, Mrs. Mills."

With that, Regina shut the door behind her and drove to work feeling both irritated about the dog and excited for her evening plans.


"Are you a gambling woman, Mrs. Mills?" Emma asked her wife that night, taking Regina's coat and hanging it up for her.

"What?"

"Do you gamble?"

"No. Of course not," she scoffed. "Why?"

"Because I propose a bet. If you can beat me at a hand of poker, the dog leaves for good."

"Absolutely not. I don't gamble."

Regina spat the word as if it were a sin.

"Alright then. Fight me for him."

"Excuse me?"

"Fight me," Emma dared her. "Hit me."

"You're insane."

"No," Emma laughed. "I just really want to keep this dog."

Regina shook her head and stomped into the kitchen, putting her keys in a bowl on the counter.

"I've had enough of this discussion. Where is the disgusting beast, anyway?"

"I put him back in the bathroom. He's been good. He didn't even pee on anything this time!"

"THIS TIME?" Regina roared, spinning on her heels and turning on Emma.

"N-No, I just meant... He didn't... He almost..."

"I swear on your life, Emma Swan, if that dog has urinated in this house, I will hang you myself."

Emma nodded in understanding and swallowed hard.

"So are you going to fight me?"

Regina sighed and grabbed a scotch glass from the cabinet.

"I need to relax, and you need to get out of my face."

"But, I'm not in your-"

"Enough, Emma!" Regina snapped. "I've had enough. This isn't funny. It's not a game. This is my house, and we're not keeping the filthy animal here. I want it gone."

As the mayor's tone became less playful, Emma began to back away slowly, knowing all too well how to recognize her lover's breaking point.

"I thought it was our house," Emma mumbled as she turned away.

As Regina said nothing and poured herself a glass of scotch, Emma left the room, making her way to the bathroom down the hallway and sitting beside the puppy. The lab panted happily and wagged his tail as she approached.

"What do you think, Spot?" she asked the dog sadly. "Think she still loves me? She seemed pretty angry."

The dog continued to look up at her lovingly, content to have a companion once again. Emma, on the other hand, suddenly felt very alone.

Chapter Text

Regina won the fight. 'Me or the dog,' she'd challenged. Though it had been any easy choice, it was hardly painless to disappoint Henry and give the dog back to the kennel.


"Why, Emma?" Henry had cried, lifting the little black lab into his arms.

"Your mom said no."

"Why can't you just tell her he's staying anyway?"

"Because this is your mom's house," she explained sadly. "Not mine."

"I thought it was our house."

"Me too, kid," Emma sighed. "Me too."


"I can't believe you're doing this to him," Emma said, stepping towards her lover.

"Believe it."

Emma wanted to say, 'This isn't like you,' but she knew it wouldn't have been true. In fact, it was exactly like Regina to care little for the feelings of others. Although, to be fair, usually, she cared deeply for Henry's. However, on this issue, she hadn't budged.

"Get him out," Regina ordered, looking down at the dog and pointing to the door.

The lab panted and looked up at her lovingly, silently begging to stay, but Regina averted her eyes and pretended not to notice the adorable plea.

As Emma turned and gave a gentle tug on the leash, ready to leave, Regina touched her shoulder.

"Um," she started. "Why'd you name him Spot, anyway? He's... Well... Emma, he's black. He has no spots."

"I know that," she said proudly, leaning down to pet the furry creature. "It's supposed to be ironic."

Regina laughed at this, unable to help herself, and leaned in to kiss Emma's cheek.

"I'm not sorry, you know," she said, but Emma could sense at least a little remorse in her voice.

She hesitated a moment before turning away, hoping Regina would have a sudden, miraculous change of heart, but it didn't come. The two left the house with their heads hung, Spot's tail between his legs as if he'd been punished for having an accident on the freshly cleaned rugs.

Upon returning, Emma made her way into Regina's study, not bothering to knock to see if the woman was inside - which she was.

"Hey," she mumbled, walking over the the shelves where Regina kept a small stash of liquor.

"Hi."

Saying nothing else, Emma grabbed the bottle of vodka and left the room.

That night, she slept on the couch, the nearly-empty bottle of vodka sitting beside her on the coffee table.

In the middle of the night, Regina found herself woken up by the sound of Emma's snoring - except, this time, it wasn't in her ear. It was coming from downstairs. Surprised to find her wife missing from their bed, she pulled on a robe and crept down the staircase, being careful not to wake Henry. When she found Emma on the couch, she sighed and crossed her arms.

"Back to this again, are we?" she asked loudly.

Emma stirred awake, startled, and looked around for the voice. When her eyes found Regina, she felt her face grow warm.

"I..."

"You what, Emma? You didn't get your way, so you decided to drink yourself to sleep?"

"I'm sorry," Emma mumbled, sitting up and clutching the blanket to her chest.

"It's cold down here," Regina commented.

Emma couldn't tell if the comment was just a simple statement or an invitation for her to come back upstairs. That being the case, she said nothing and decided not to look at Regina. Her vision was still blurry anyway. She hadn't yet slept off the haze of the alcohol. The mayor looked around in the darkness, watching the shadows cast by the swaying trees slide along the wall, interrupting the bursts of moonlight that streamed softly through the curtains and into the house.

"This is fucked up, Emma. You're drinking because I wouldn't let you keep a puppy," Regina finally said, looking back at her wife. "You have a problem."

Tears filling her eyes, Emma replied softly, "I know."

Instead of voicing any kind of understanding, Regina turned on her heels and ascended the staircase, leaving Emma alone in the living room.

Chapter Text

"Hungover?" Regina asked loudly from the kitchen, slamming a few pots and pans around in the sink, as if she were about to wash them.

Emma rolled over on the couch, covering her ears.

"Yes," she groaned.

"Good."

Since Henry had already been awake for a while and was upstairs playing in this room, Regina had no problem making more noise. In fact, she relished the opportunity to torture Emma for her mistake, and she deliberately slammed one pot down against another, causing the crashing noise to ring in Emma's ears.

"Fuck!" Emma yelled, then pressed her hands harder against her ears.

"Time to get up! No time to be a slob today. You have to WORK, remember?" Regina said, stomping over to the couch. "Jesus. You're a wreck."

When Emma didn't say anything, Regina continued.

"How about some lights, shall we?"

"No, please don-"

But Regina had already flipped the switch, brightening the room even more. When Emma slammed her eyes shut in the agony of the migraine, her wife walked around the room and proceeded to open each and every curtain, letting the sunlight illuminate the room.

"Get up. Shower. You're disgusting, and you reek of alcohol. Also, you're going to be late for work."

"Shit!" Emma screamed, rolling off the couch and nearly falling right onto the floor. Without looking at Regina, she scrambled up the stairs and immediately tore off her clothes, throwing herself into the shower, not bothering to shut the bathroom door behind her. (After all, it wasn't like her wife had never seen her naked.)

When she was out of the shower, dressed, and ready to leave, she finally approached Regina, who was sitting on a stool in the kitchen, drinking her morning cup of coffee.

"Listen... Regina... I..."

"Don't," the queen stopped her. "Just go."

That night, instead of unlocking the door with her own set of keys, she knocked on the front door and waited, holding her hands behind her back. When her wife opened the door, she extended her hand, which was filled with a bouquet of flowers, and got down on her knees.

"I'm so sorry," she said quickly, not wanting Regina to get the first word. "Please forgive me."

As hard as she tried to fight it back, Regina couldn't stop her own smile from playing at her lips.

"Emma," she laughed. "Get up."

But the woman waited until Regina extended her own hand to help her off the doorstep, and only then did she stand up to meet her lover face-to-face.

"I love you," she said softly, handing over the flowers and kissing her wife's cheek.

"I love you too, Mrs. Mills."

"I love when you call me that, you know," Emma told her as they stepped inside, locking the door behind them.

When Henry saw that his other mom was home, he hurried out from the living room and threw his arms around her.

"Emma!" he cried with a smile, resting his head against her chest.

She smiled and hugged the boy, looking up at her wife, who was smiling back at her.

"It's late, Henry. We should get you to bed," Regina told him, mostly suggesting to Emma that it was her job to do this and that it should be done promptly.

Emma picked up on the hint and lifted the boy into her arms and threw him over her shoulder. She carried him up the stairs, with him protesting that he was too old for that the whole way, and only set him down when she reached the upstairs bathroom.

"You know the drill, kid," she told him. "Teeth, then PJs, then bedtime."

"Can I read my book?" he asked hopefully, but Emma shook her head.

"Your mom's right. It's late. You have to be up for school in the morning. I want you to get your rest."

With a sigh, he nodded his head and went into the bathroom, shutting the door and turning on the water as he began his nighttime routine.

Downstairs, Emma sat beside her wife on a stool in the kitchen.

"So," Emma said plainly, not knowing what other words to choose.

"So, what?" Regina asked, looking at the vase of flowers rather than at her lover, who was looking at her.

"Are you still angry?"

"Yes."

"Do you forgive me?"

"Yes."

"Can we have makeup sex?"

"No."

There was a pause before Emma said anything else. Well, that backfired nicely, she was thinking. Maybe next time I'll just slap myself in the face instead.

"Okay."

"I do forgive you, though," Regina assured her quietly. "The flowers were lovely. It's not like you to be so thoughtful."

Emma fingered the necklace around her neck - a Christmas gift from Regina a few years before - and looked down at the counter, not sure whether to take Regina's words as an insult or a compliment.

"Are you going to stop?" Regina asked, finally looking up into Emma's eyes.

But the blonde just looked away again, not wanting to face her lover's judgement.

"I'm going to try."

Chapter Text

"I need you to do more than try," Regina told her, gripping the cup she was holding until her knuckles turned white. "Why can't you have some self-restraint? Why can't you just have one or two, like an adult? Why do you always have to get shitfaced and act like a fool?"

"I'm sorry," Emma said softly, but Regina was not receptive to the apology.

"I forgive you," she repeated. "But this has to stop."

"I know."

"Promise me," Regina pressed, putting her hand on top of Emma's - not as an act of reassurance or comfort, but simply to get her attention.

"I can't," Emma told her, looking up with defeat in her eyes.

"You can't stop or you can't promise?"

"I can't promise," Emma said, her voice shaking.

"You can't stop, can you?" Regina asked sharply, pulling away, disgust beginning to show on her face. "Oh, my God. You're a fucking alcoholic."

"I am not! I just..."

"Shut up," Regina cut her off. "Just shut up. I can't deal with this right now. I'm going upstairs. I don't want to sleep with you."

"Meaning you don't want to have sex with me, or you don't want me in your bed?"

"Neither," the mayor answered coldly, standing up and pouring out the last of her drink before rinsing the cup and putting it in the sink.

Emma spent another silent night on the couch, feeling dejected. She thought about going up to Henry's room, about asking him to tell her a story - anything to get her mind off of Regina's anger - but she knew she had to face the night alone - without her lover, without her son, and without the alcohol.

The next morning was nearly as bad as the last, but this time she woke in quiet. The only sound she heard was Regina moving around the kitchen, getting Henry's lunch ready for school. When her son finally scurried down the stairs and found her resting on the couch, she rushed over to her side.

"Whatcha doin', Emma?" he asked, looking confused. "Why'd you sleep on the couch?"

Regina stopped moving, overhearing her son's words and waiting to see what Emma would say.

"Long story, kid," she mumbled, sitting up and pushing a tired hand through her hair.

"'Kay," he said, shrugging and hurrying into the kitchen where he grabbed his lunch and headed out the door to meet the school bus, after a quick hug from his adoptive mother.

When Emma got off the couch and turned around to head up the stairs, Regina was standing in front of the staircase.

"I changed my mind," she said, leaning against the wall with one hand on her hip and the other holding her coffee mug.

Emma looked perplexed and tilted her head.

"About what?"

"About the makeup sex."

Emma wanted to laugh. Usually, Regina was a nighttime sex type of person, whereas Emma was often more inclined in the morning, but apparently, it was Emma's lucky day. Without hesitation, Emma scooped the woman into her arms, slowly enough as not to let Regina spill her coffee, and carried her up to their bedroom. She set the woman down on the bed and took the mug from her, putting it on the nightstand.

"Now?" she asked huskily, leaning in, her breath on her lover's cheek.

Regina bit her lip and nodded, opening her robe. Emma did the rest.

Afterwards, as they spent beside each other in the bed, Emma stared up at the ceiling, wondering what her wife was thinking, but not daring to ask. Just as she was about to sit up, she felt the brunette's hand on her stomach and the woman's head resting gently on her shoulder as Regina rolled onto her side to face Emma.

"You need to get help, Emma."

The sheriff nodded her head slowly, but couldn't bring herself to speak.

Chapter Text

That evening, the conversation finally continued.

"A.A.? Seriously?"

"Alcoholics Anonymous. Seriously."

"There's no way. I'm not an-"

"I'm not going to keep doing this with you."

"Alright, alright," Emma sighed. "I'll go."

They were quiet at first, but the silence grew awkward, so Emma slowly reached out her hand and let it brush against Regina's, hinting that she was longing for her lover's comforting touch. When Regina didn't pick up on or reciprocate the gesture, Emma pulled her hand away. Regina stood up from the table and walked over to the door, grabbing Emma's coat and holding it out to her.

"It's tonight, at eight, at the church. You're still have ten minutes."

"W-Will you go with me?" Emma asked shyly, looking up at her wife, longing for some reassurance.

Regina thought about this - thought about Emma's behavior, her drunken stupors, her stupid words and many failures. When the thoughts faded away, she was left only with Emma's pleading eyes, and she could not deny them. Without saying anything, she grabbed her own coat off the rack and left the house with her wife. As upset as she was, she didn't want Emma to back out or have to face her problem alone.

"You don't have to say anything if you don't want to," Regina assured her, finally reaching over in a gesture of love as she rested her hand on top of Emma's, which was resting on the gearshift of the car. When Emma didn't say anything, the mayor exited the car and made her way around to the other side. Her wife was still staring down at the wheel, wringing her hands.

"Come on, darling," Regina encouraged her, opening the driver's door and extending her hand. "We're just going to sit and listen, okay? It's not going to be bad."

"It's going to be embarrassing," she mumbled, taking her lover's hand.

This gave her the strength to walk into the meeting room, and as she found a chair in the back - there were more people than she would have expected, some of whom she was surprised to already know - her lover sat beside her.

"It's okay," Regina whispered. "I'm right here."

No one asked her her name. No one asked her to talk. No one picked her out of the small group. She just listened to the speakers tell their emotional stories and let herself be affected by their depth and sincerity.

"That was..."

"Actually kind of amazing," Regina interjected with a smile. "What did you think? Was it as bad as you thought?"

But when she looked over at Emma as they sat together in the car, she saw Emma start to cry.

"Emma?" she asked. "What's the matter, honey?"

"I don't ever want to lose Henry. Or you."

Regina bit her lip and sighed, taking her lover's hand.

"Emma," she said softly. "You don't need to drink to get through things that hurt you. Don't you understand that?"

"I'm starting to realize how it could affect my life... how it's already affected my marriage... but no, I guess I don't understand that that part. You're angry all the time, and I'm alone. It's not like I can dump all this on Henry."

"You don't have to. You can talk to Doctor Hopper. Or why don't you talk to Belle or Ruby?"

"Because they're tired of hearing me bitch. Doctor Hopper talks to Henry. It's kind of a conflict of interest."

"You're making excuses."

"I'm not!" Emma cried. "I'm alone in this."

"What are you alone in, exactly?"

"This relationship."

"Well it is kind of a two-person thing, not three." Regina paused, then continued, "Why don't we both see Doctor Hopper? Together."

"Because he's Henry's therapist."

"Let's just ask him and see what he says, okay?"

"No. Regina, I really don't think it's right."

"You're the one complaining that you have to deal with all this stress on your own. What's your problem, anyway? What is so hard for you to deal with that it drives you to drink?"

"You, Regina," Emma confessed.

"I drive you to drink?"

"No. Losing your love drives me to drink."

"You haven't lo-"

"You know I almost did."

"I didn't stop loving you," Regina sighed, hanging her head in her hands. "I just pretended to."

Chapter Text

"What goes through your head when you decide to drink?"

"I don't really decide," Emma told her. "I just do it."

"Well, what are you thinking when you do it?"

"I'm wondering if you still love me."

"Emma, you know I do."

"I wonder every single day. Every day, 'Gina."

As they pulled into the driveway and got out of the car, neither of them really knew what to say.

"Do you want something to eat?" Regina asked, tenderly touching Emma's shoulder.

The sheriff shook her head, her blonde locks bouncing around her shoulders. As she flipped her hair a little to get it out of her face, Regina began to stare.

"What?" Emma asked, finally noticing.

"N-Nothing."

Regina's eyes snapped away as she began to put her things back in their rightful places - her coat on the coat rack, her keys in the bowl on the counter, her purse in the kitchen next to the coffee maker. But as Emma turned away to hang her own coat up in the hallway, Regina began to stare again, watching her hips sway slightly as she walked away.

"Emma," she called after her. When the woman turned around and looked at her, she said, "I do love you."

Emma didn't move, so Regina quickly stepped into the hallway and wrapped her arms around her lover.

"Emma," she whispered into her ear, still embracing her. "Emma... Emma..."

When she looked up, Emma was crying again.

"Emma, baby," Regina repeated, kissing her forehead. "Don't cry..."

"I love you," the blonde sniffled softly, resting her head on her wife's shoulder. "I'm so sorry. I'm such a fuck-up."

Regina assured her. "I love you, too," Regina assured her. "You're not a fuck-up."

"Then can I sleep with you tonight?" Emma asked hopefully, not daring to look up into the woman's eyes for the answer.

"Yes."

Regina pulled Emma up to the bedroom and then into bed, removing their clothes before they slipped under the sheets.

"Let's get some rest, okay?" the mayor asked softly, touching Emma's cheek. "You've had a long day."

"I'm glad you made me go," Emma said, laying back against the pillow and folding her hands behind her head. "It really made me think about stuff."

"Are you going to stop?"

"Regina... I'm going to try."

The woman rolled over to face the wall - a position Emma was all too familiar with - choosing not to comment.

"Okay," Emma said softly, rolling over to her own side of the bed, feeling empty again. Staring at the wall, she thought of all the rare moments in which she'd made her lover laugh or smile, the moments when they'd first gotten together and rarely fought. What had changed so drastically since then?

"Emma, wait," Regina said, sitting up in bed. "Come here."

Surprised, Emma rolled onto her back and looked up at her lover, who laid back down and curled against her side.

"Hold me," the mayor whispered to her sheriff, who obliged and wrapped her arms around the woman tenderly.

Emma kissed the top of her head and even smiled, shutting her eyes at last.

"You don't think, Emma," Regina sighed. "That's all it is. You don't think. You don't think about how what you do or say affects me or Henry. You didn't think about the dog. You don't think about drinking. You don't think about anything."

"I know," Emma said softly, feeling the sting of her words.

"I'm not... I'm not... angry... This is just really hard for me, and I don't know how to show you that I care."

"Just kiss me."

As their lips pressed together, Emma felt some of the sting fade away. Still, some of the pain remained - a reminder of how close she once was to losing her wife for good.

Chapter Text

The days went on like that, with the two of them fighting on and off. Some nights were fine; they tucked Henry into bed together, kissed his forehead, and went to bed to fall asleep in each others arms. Other nights, Emma found herself drunk, empty, lonely, and back on the couch. All Henry understood was that his parents were fighting; he had no idea why. And they certainly weren't about to tell him. Luckily, Henry had also managed never to see his mother intoxicated. She usually either went out to the bars or waited until he was asleep to start drinking.

"I want you out," Regina finally said, on one of Emma's bad days.

"No, you don't," her wife retorted. "You just want me to stop drinking."

"Yes, but you won't."

"I can't."

Finally, she'd admitted what they both knew was true.

"You need to go to meetings."

It had been weeks since she'd attended the first, and she wasn't looking forward to going back, but she knew her wife was serious. The last thing she wanted was to lose her again, so she agreed.

This time, Regina didn't accompany her to the meeting. Emma went alone. Embarrassed to park her easily identifiable car out in front, she decided to drive around to the back of the church and park it there. She snuck in the rear door to the basement and sat down in a chair in the back row. It won't take long, she told herself. I'll be fine. I'll be out of here in no time.

But the meeting seemed to drag on forever. As much as she didn't want to be there, she took each speaker's words to heart, thinking of her family and the prospect of losing them to her destructive habit. What she really wanted to know was how to stop feeling so shitty. In her eyes, her surroundings were what caused her to drink, not her own personal choices. Blame is always something that is difficult to accept. Even so, the more stories she listened to, the more guilt she felt. By the end of her second meeting, her self-esteem was at an all-time low.

When she walked through the front door back at home, she was surprised to find her wife sitting quietly on the couch, reading the newspaper.

"What are you up to?" Emma asked casually, shutting the door behind her.

"Reading," Regina answered shortly, not looking up.

When Emma said nothing else, Regina finally lifted her gaze.

"How was the meeting?"

Emma sighed and stepped into the living room, looking around at all the pictures of their family that decorated the walls and end tables beside the couch.

"Hard," she finally answered. "It was really hard."

Regina nodded in understanding and set the newspaper down on the coffee table as Emma sat down beside her.

"Do you want to talk about it?"

"I want to drink."

"Why?"

"Because even though it makes me realize the horrible things I'm doing to our family, which makes me want to stop, it also makes me feel like shit, which makes me want to drink myself in oblivion."

Regina sighed and looked Emma over, registering the stiffness of her posture and tenseness of her voice.

"You're a good mom, Emma," Regina told her.

Emma shook her head.

"But I'm a terrible wife."

When Regina said nothing to this, Emma's eyes started to water.

"Oh, come on, Em... Don't cry... Please don't cry."

But it was too late. As Emma drew heavy breaths, her fists clenched and her face grew hot with frustration.

"I... I like when you call me 'Em,'" the blonde stammered, looking up into her wife's eyes.

"I know, babe," Regina whispered, leaning in and kissing her lips. "And I like it when you moan my name."

Caught off guard by this, Emma pulled away from the kiss and looked back at Regina.

"What?"

"Why don't we go upstairs and get in bed?" Regina asked coyly. "Then maybe you can show me what a good wife you really are."

Emma blushed.

"You mean... You still want to... to..."

"Yes," her wife whispered back, kissing her cheek. "Now come upstairs with me."

As Regina took her hand, she began to feel less alone. After tucking Henry in to bed, the two of them shut their own bedroom door and took turns showing each other just how devoted they were.

Chapter Text

"What the fuck is this?" Regina's voice rang out the next morning, startling Emma awake.

"What? What?"

Regina, who was standing by Emma's closet, held out a silver flask filled with what smelled like rum.

"This, Emma. THIS."

Mouth agape, the blonde stared at the item in Regina's hand, dumbfounded, not knowing what to say.

"Well?"

"Well, what?"

"Well what the FUCK is this?"

"It's just a... I mean... I haven't been using it!"

"Oh, really? Then what is it doing in your coat pocket?"

"What are you doing in my closet?" Emma snapped back, sitting up in bed.

"I was going to get your clothes ready for you so you could sleep in a little," Regina answered. "Are you proud of yourself?"

"No!" Emma cried, feeling the guilt weigh down her stomach like a pile of rocks. "I just-"

"Mom?" a young boy's voice said, coming from the doorway.

Both parents turned around and looked at Henry, who was staring at them.

"What's going on?" he asked them both, looking back and forth between them.

"Nothing, Henry," Regina lied. "It's fine. Go get ready for school, okay?"

"What's going on?" he repeated.

Regina put the flask down on the bedside table and walked over to her son.

"Henry," she said, "nothing is going on. Now, go get ready for school. And don't forget your breakfast!"

"I won't, Mom," he huffed, looking at her suspiciously before marching out of the room.

"Why did you lie to him?" Emma asked quietly, looking at her wife.

"Because I don't want him to know about all the shit you've been pulling."

"Why?"

"Because I'm protecting him!"

"From me?"

"From your mistakes."

"I'm not perfect," Emma admitted. "Henry knows that."

"He doesn't need to know that you're an alcoholic. You just need to stop drinking before he finds out on his own by seeing you downstairs in a drunken, sobbing stupor."

Emma sighed and tossed the covers off, getting out of bed. When Regina saw her stand, she held out a dark pair of blue jeans and waited for Emma to accept them. When she did, their fingers brushed, and they each hesitated before pulling away.

"I haven't been using it," Emma said apologetically. "I swear. It just... It makes me feel better, to know that I can, if something happens."

"You can't use booze as a crutch, Emma," Regina told her bitterly, finally pulling her hand away.

"I have nothing else."

They exchanged looks as Emma stood awkwardly holding the jeans without moving.

"What about me?"

"What about when you don't want me? When you're angry with me? That's when I drink, Regina. When you're happy with me, I don't drink, but you're rarely happy with me anymore."

"It's not that I'm not happy. I just-"

"Yes, it is. That's why you wanted to divorce me. You said it yourself."

"I was confused, Emma! I didn't know what to do, and you just kept getting worse and worse. I don't even know what to say to you anymore. You're ruining our marriage."

Emma's jaw nearly hit the floor.

"I'm what?"

"No... Wait... Emma, I didn't mean that. I just meant-"

"Forget it. I'm leaving."

"No!" Regina cried, grabbing her hand. "Please."

The blonde's eyes went wide.

"Don't leave me," Regina said softly. "You always leave me. You get scared, and you leave."

"Half the time, you tell me to."

"And the other half, you bail all on your own."

Emma wasn't sure what to say to this, so she said the first thing that came to mind.

"I love you, and I'm sorry. I don't ever want to leave you."

"Then don't."

After a moment of awkward silence, they finally embraced, Emma's arms tightening around her lover.

"I won't leave you, unless you tell me to," Emma promised.

"If I tell you to," Regina said, "don't listen."

Chapter Text

A few nights later, after a big fight that morning, Regina came home late to find Emma on the couch with a bottle of scotch, sobbing.

"Emma?" she asked, quietly shutting the front door behind her.

Emma didn't look up. Instead, she just squeezed her pillow tighter with one arm as she gripped the bottle with her free hand. At first, Regina wanted to scream at her, to take the bottle and smash it, but Emma's tears softened her reaction.

"Em?" she repeated, sitting down beside her and prying the bottle away, setting it aside on the end table. "What's going on?"

"I'm. Not. Worth it," Emma slurred slowly, moving away from Regina.

"What are you talking about?"

"You can do better than me. You said so yourself."

"Emma," Regina protested. "I didn't mean it."

"Yes, you did," she sobbed.

"No, I didn't. I didn't, Emma. I promise. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to upset you. Well, I did, but I didn't think... I didn't think you'd..."

"That you'd break my heart?"

"Emma."

"You've broken me over and over. I'm not good enough for you."

"You're perfect for me. You just need to stop drinking."

"I can't!" she sobbed, reaching for the bottle of whisky.

Regina pushed her hand away and moved the bottle further from her reach.

"I know," Regina sighed, wrapping her arms around her lover and holding her tightly in her arms.

Emma was startled by this, unsure what to make of the sudden gesture of tenderness, so she simply slid her arms around her wife in return, letting her tears fall onto her shoulder.

"I love you, baby," Regina told her, kissing the top of her head. "Don't cry."

Slowly, Emma's tears stopped, and only then did Regina pull away.

"I don't think you can make it up those stairs. I think we should stay down here."

"We? You'll... You'll s-stay with me?" Emma stuttered, looking at the brunette with drunken hope in her eyes.

With a nod, Regina gently pushed Emma's shoulder until she was lying back on the couch, then curled up against her side and rested her head on her lover's chest.

"You won't leave me?" Emma asked, wanting to confirm what she couldn't believe.

Usually, her wife would have screamed at her and left her downstairs by herself. Something about that night was different.

"Not this time."

Emma's breathing was slow and heavy as Regina listened to the sound of her heartbeat.

"I don't want to leave," Regina finally added. "I just want you to get better."

"Why don't you just leave me?" Emma asked, her words still slurring together, just enough for her wife to notice.

"Because I love you, Emma," Regina said softly, leaning up to kiss her wet, tear-stained cheek.

They were quiet for a while, and just when the mayor thought that her sheriff may have fallen asleep, Emma spoke again.

"Tell me a secret."

"Why?"

"Because I want to feel close to you again, and I can't sleep."

"You're drunk. You should have no problem falling asleep."

"But I can't," Emma repeated. "So tell me a secret."

"No."

"Why?"

"Why?" Regina echoed. "Because I'm scared to."

"You used to trust me."

"I still trust you, Emma, I just..."

"Please, 'Gina."

When Regina looked up into Emma's face, she saw the desperation there - the need to feel some kind of connection again - and she understood it.

"I want to have more kids with you."

Emma started to sit up, but quickly found herself unable to do so.

"Really?"

"Yes."

"Then why don't we?"

"Because you're sick, Em."

"What if I get better?"

"Then... Then we could discuss it..."

"I want that, too," Emma whispered, sloppily kissing her wife's cheek.

"You're so drunk," Regina sighed. "You're not even going to remember this in the morning."

"Trust me," Emma said. "I'll remember."

Chapter Text

"How are you feeling?" the mayor asked, gently touching the sheriff's cheek as the woman stirred awake.

"Hungover," Emma groaned, rolling away onto her side.

"I bet you are."

Regina brushed the blonde hair aside and kissed her wife's neck.

"I love you, Emma."

"You're not angry with me?" Emma asked softly.

The mayor shook her head and slid her arms around her lover.

"I'm disappointed in you," she admitted. "I need you to be strong, for this family."

Emma nodded slowly and started to pull away, feeling dejected, but Regina held her close and kissed her neck again - this time, with a little more pressure. The blonde shivered and leaned back against Regina's chest, allowing her lover to hold her tenderly in her arms without letting go.

"I'm sorry."

"I know, honey," Regina told her. "I know."

After a few more kisses carefully placed on Emma's neck, Regina finally sat up.

"I'm going to go make you some eggs and bacon, okay? I hear something greasy and some coffee helps wear off the hangover."

"You hear?"

"Yes. I've never tested the theory through personal experience. You'll have to let me know."

"You mean you've never been hungover?"

"I've never been drunk, Mrs. Mills. Unlike you, I was raised with class and propriety."

Emma scowled as she watched her lover climb off the couch.

"Whatever," she mumbled playfully, sitting up.

As soon as she found herself in the sitting position, she laid back down with her head on the pillow. Her headache was too intense for her to sit up comfortably, so she covered her eyes with a blanket and breathed heavily. She tried to fall back asleep, but the obnoxious pounding was relentless and kept her awake.

"How many eggs do you want, babe?" Regina called out from the kitchen.

"Two is fine. Thanks honey."

Speaking loudly enough to be heard in the other room was painful to her ears, but necessary.

"You hungry?"

"Yeah. Thank you for cooking."

"You'll feel better soon."

"I hope so."

Emma went quiet, but just as she was about to fall back to sleep, her wife sat down beside her on the couch and handed her a plate of eggs and bacon.

"Careful," she warned. "It's hot."

"I figured," Emma grinned, tossing the blanket aside and sitting up as slowly as possible, feeling her head spin as she took the plate from Regina's hands.

"Smartass."

"You love it."

"I certainly do not!" Regina cried dramatically, standing up to walk away.

Emma grabbed her hand and tugged her back down onto the couch.

"Where's yours?"

"I'm not hungry."

"You never eat breakfast."

"I know," Regina said. "Neither do you, but you should. You always wake up hungry."

"How the hell would you know?"

Regina laughed and said, "Because your stomach always starts to growl before you've even opened your eyes."

Emma laughed too and gave her wife's shoulder a playful shove.

"Don't pick on me."

"But you're so easy to tease!"

Rolling her eyes, Emma took a bite of her eggs, and her eyes went wide.

"Holy shit, babe," Emma gasped. "This is amazing. What's in this?"

"It's just salt, pepper, and American cheese."

"Well it's awesome. I should start eating breakfast," the blonde decided out loud. "But only if you're cooking."

"I think I have enough to do other than cooking your lazy ass breakfast every morning. At least Henry's easy; all he wants is cereal and toast."

"I know. I'm sorry."

"I'm just picking on you, love," Regina told her. "I'd love to make you breakfast more often, if it'll get you to eat something."

"I'll definitely eat now, if you're the one feeding me."

"Promise?"

"Yeah," Emma said with a smile.

"You're off duty today, right?"

"Yep! It's too bad you have to work. We could spend some time together. It would be nice."

Regina nodded and smiled at Emma's good mood. It was something she hadn't seen in a while.

"I'll call out."

"Really?"

"Really."

After breakfast, the two sat beside each other on the couch and waited for Henry to come downstairs. Before Emma could break the silence, Regina spoke first.

"Do you remember what I told you last night?"

Another smile tugging at her lips, she nodded her head and kissed her wife's cheek.

"Yes. And I hope you haven't changed your mind."

"I haven't."

Chapter Text

After they sent Henry off to school, the rest of the day was spent curled up on the couch. A few hours later, Emma found that her hangover had mostly worn off, and she was able to turn on the TV without intensifying her headache. Given that her stomach was full and relatively happy, she was able to relax and spend some quality time with her wife, who was curled into her side for most of the day.

"I can't believe you're not angry," Emma finally said, looking over at Regina.

"Me, either, honestly. I guess I've just moved on to feeling disappointment and pity. All I want is for you to get better. I don't want to punish you."

"What if I want to be punished?" Emma teased, grinning at her lover.

"That can be arranged."

"Oh, yeah?"

"Sure. Why not? You think I've never tortured anyone before?"

"Hopefully not in the way I'm thinking."

Regina smiled too and shook her head.

"No, dear. That would be a new one."

"Maybe we should try it."

"Maybe when you're feeling better, okay?"

Emma sighed and rested her head back against the couch. She was beginning to see just how much her drinking was affecting her everyday life. Even her sex life was suffering, which wasn't something Emma felt she could handle. When they'd first gotten married, it had been multiple times a day. Before work, when they got home, after dinner, before bed... Almost any moment they were alone. (Although, these moments were hard to find, since Henry was usually around.)

"I am feeling better," Emma protested.

"Relax, Sheriff. Enjoy your day off."

"I'd enjoy it even more if you'd let me have a little fun," Emma mumbled. There was a pause, then the blonde added, "Are you sure you're not mad?"

"Emma," the mayor sighed. "Yes. But I want you to keep going to meetings."

"How often?"

"Honestly?"

"Yes."

"Every day. You need it, Em."

"I know."

With a sigh, Regina asked, "What's for dinner?"

"Whatever you're cooking," Emma teased. "Lucky Charms?"

The mayor shook her head, hiding a smirk.

"I don't think so."

"Order out? Pizza? Henry's at his grandparents'. We can eat whatever we want."

"I certainly don't want nasty, greasy pizza for dinner."

"Bullshit. You know you love it. Pizza is everyone's guilty pleasure."

"Alright," Maybe on occasion. But I'm not eating that junk tonight."

"What's wrong with Lucky Charms? It's easy, and it doesn't make a mess."

Regina thought this over. How long had it been since she'd even eaten a bowl of children's cereal? She only kept it in the house for her son.

"I guess I could go for that."

"Seriously?"

"Yeah. Why not?"

"I don't know. I guess I just didn't think you'd be down for that. It's kinda childish, I guess."

"Sometimes, that's okay," Regina said with a smile.

"Wow," Emma said. "I never thought I'd hear that from you."

"You forget, Emma, that I missed most of my childhood. My mother took it away from me. I was never allowed to indulge in the things children usually get to indulge in on occasion. I was anything but spoiled."

"I can't imagine you ever 'indulging' anyway."

"Well, I usually don't. It was your idea," the mayor said defensively.

"Alright. I'll go get us some cereal then."

When Emma came back from the kitchen, she had two bowls of Lucky Charms in hand.

"Wanna use your magic to fill the box again, so we can pig out all night?"

"I'm not using magic," Regina asserted. "What about cinnamon rolls?"

"That works," Emma said with a grin.

So the two of them ate junk food the rest of the evening, until it was past one in the morning, when they fell asleep in each other's arms.

Chapter Text

When the alarm rang in the morning, Emma groaned and reached over to slap her phone into silence. The banging noise and the shrill sound of the alarm made the mayor cringe.

"Shut it off!" she snapped, shoving Emma's shoulder.

Sleepily, she finally rolled all the way over, grabbed the phone, and slid her finger across the screen, silencing the annoying ringtone.

"Jesus," Emma mumbled. "Relax."

"Get up. You're going to be late for work. And shut off the rest of your alarms, because I'm going to be pissed if they keep going off."

"God, Regina. Calm down! It's just an alarm."

"Just go get ready. I don't want to hear you whine about being late."

"What's your problem? I thought we were okay."

"We are. We're fine. Just go."

A little stunned, Emma made her way to the shower and got in. As the hot water poured over her - she had the heat up until it hurt - she pushed her fingers through her hair, rinsing out the last of the shampoo. What did I do? she wondered, distress showing on her face. Her muscles tensed with anxiety as she climbed out of the shower and dressed herself. When she looked in the mirror, she saw how upset she appeared and sighed. I look like shit.

When she went downstairs and saw Regina sitting at the table, still in her bathrobe, she smiled weakly and sat down beside her.

"How about those eggs, huh?"

Regina's eyes snapped up from her newspaper and glared at the sheriff, who was fully dressed in her work attire, complete with the shining badge she wore on her waist.

"Are you fucking serious?"

"Um... Yes? I mean... No. I was just kidding. I..."

But Emma had assumed - probably rightfully - that Regina's words the previous day had been sincere. Maybe she'd just changed her mind. Had she known, Emma wouldn't have asked. As it was, she realized she was hungry, but didn't actually have time to eat. After fixing herself a cup of coffee, she looked over at the clock.

"I gotta go," Emma said quickly. "I love you. Kiss me?"

Regina shook her head.

"Go. You're going to be late."

Emma blinked and stared at her lover.

"Really?"

Regina didn't look up, or even say a word, so Emma grabbed her jacket and keys and left in silence, driving to the station feeling startled and confused. What the Hell did I do?

Once at the station, she checked her phone and found a text from her wife.

'You left the coffee pot on.'

'Sorry. I didn't mean to.'

'You never mean to, but you always do it anyway.'

'I said I was sorry.'

'I don't care. I'm tired of hearing your meaningless apologies.'

'What the Hell is going on?'

'You.'

Dumbfounded, the sheriff went about her day without sending another text or calling the mayor - until the desk phone rang.

"You forgot the fucking paperwork. Emma, seriously? How could you forget the police logs? You know I needed that for my meeting today. You made me look like a complete fool."

Emma's jaw dropped as she held the phone up to hear ear and listened to her wife's anger flowing from the the other end of the line.

"I'm sorry," she mumbled weakly, but as soon as she said it, she knew it was the wrong choice of words.

"I'm going to make you sorry. You can sleep on the couch. And don't fucking talk to me."

Regina hung up the receiver, leaving Emma's head spinning. Where is this coming from? Emma wondered desperately. What did I do? But as hard as she wracked her brain, she couldn't think of anything she'd done - at least in the past 24 hours - that would have upset her wife. She hadn't been drinking. She hadn't been hiding anything from her. She hadn't lied about anything. She hadn't insulted her - at least, not that she was aware of. But all Emma could do was hope her wife would change her mind, or at the very least, tell her what she'd done wrong. In the meantime, she decided to stay at the office as late as possible.

Chapter Text

The sheriff didn't leave work until eight or nine. As she pulled up in the driveway and saw the mayor's car, she put her own car in park and stared at the front door, imagining what Regina might be doing inside. Probably reading a newspaper upstairs, rather than on the couch, to avoid her. Thinking about sleeping on the couch, she wondered if her wife had left the blankets and the pillow downstairs. She doubted it. Regina hated clutter. Emma was sure she'd put them away - probably upstairs - and given that she knew her wife didn't want to see her, she figured it would be a bad idea to go upstairs to retrieve them. Given this, she resolved she leave the house and go out for the night.

"Fuck this," she said to herself, backing out of the driveway.

As she drove towards town, she considered her options. Ruby's. No. Too many questions. A meeting - there was sure to be one going on at the church. No. Or... her preferred choice... the bar.

When she ended up there, she wasn't surprised at her decision.

"Fuck it."

Throwing the car in park, she grabbed her phone and her wallet and slammed the car door shut. Once inside, she ordered two shots of whisky and downed them quickly.

"Easy, tiger," the bartender said. "Let's not get sloppy this time, yeah?"

Obviously, he remembered the few instances before where Emma had ended up outside, throwing up on the sidewalk. But Emma pushed these memories aside and waved him off, rolling her eyes and looking around the room. When the buzz started to kick in, she began to smile, feeling the stress of her marital problems slowly fade away. They'd still be there when she sobered up, she knew, but it was temporary relief that she needed - at least until her wife cooled down enough to let her back in her own bed.

"One more, big guy," she said, waving the bartender over.

With a sigh, he poured her another shot. After two more, Emma was belligerent. By that time, she was deep in conversation with a pretty brunette beside her who had her hand on the blonde's knee. Emma looked down at the girl's hand, which was starting to slide closer to her inner thigh, and began to blush. The girl leaned in and whispered drunkenly in her ear.

"Let me take you home."

Emma shook her head.

"Got a wife," she slurred. "Though she fucking hates me."

"Then come home with me. It's not like you have to tell her. Besides, you seem like you wanna."

"I don't," Emma said, finally pushing the girl's hand off and leaning away.

Just as Emma was about to turn around to drink the shot of whisky that was waiting on the counter behind her, another girl jerked her around by her shoulder.

"The fuck do you think you're doing?" the girl yelled, shoving Emma nearly off the stool.

"What the Hell are you talking about?"

"This is my girl, bitch, so back off."

"Trust me," Emma mumbled. "I wasn't going to tap that."

Rage flashing in the woman's eyes, she drunkenly swung her arm back and hit Emma in the face. As soon as the bouncer saw this, he ran over and pulled them apart.

"Out!" he yelled. "Both of you!"

Shoving the woman back, Emma turned around and grabbed the shot glass, downing it quickly and tossing it back on the counter as the bouncer dragged her outside. Feeling her head spin from the fight, she grew dizzy and leaned against the wall as the woman dragged her girlfriend away from the bar and back into their car. Hopefully, Emma thought, the girlfriend was sober enough to drive safely. As she watched them drive away, grateful that the fight hadn't continued outside, she leaned over and suddenly felt her muscles heave the alcohol out of her stomach and onto the sidewalk.

Chapter Text

Slumping against the wall, Emma wiped her mouth on the sleeve of her shirt and held her head in her hands, shutting her eyes to block out the piercing neon light of the bar sign above her. Just as she was about to start walking to her car - planning to sleep off the alcohol in the back seat - she saw flashing blue lights and watched with blurred vision as Graham pulled up in the squad car. He got out quickly and rushed over to her.

"Emma!" he yelled. "What the fuck are you doing?"

"Huh?"

"The bartender just called me. He said you hit a girl?"

"She hit me first!"

"I don't care. They're gone, but you're still here. Don't you know what that means?"

Emma shook her head and mumbled, "Not really."

"You're going to lose your fucking job."

Emma's eyes went wide as she stumbled forward.

"Graham, come on. She hit me first. It was a few punches. It's no big deal! Can't we just pretend this didn't happen?"

"No, we can't, Emma, because now I have to arrest you for public intoxication."

"Are you fucking serious?"

"Dead serious, because I don't want to lose my job, too. Get in the car."

With a sigh, she thought about resisting, about punching him in the face and telling him to fuck off. But even in her drunken state, she knew that would only make things worse, so she stumbled over towards the flashing lights of the car and got in, hitting her head on the top of the doorframe just before she climbed into the backseat. Holding her head, she groaned and leaned back against the seat.

"This is bullshit, Graham," she muttered as he pulled out of the parking lot.

Back at the station, he locked her up in the cell and sat on a chair in front of the bars.

"I can't believe you're pulling this shit. Don't you care about your job?"

"Yes," she moaned, slamming her head against the bars. "Yes. Please, Graham. Just take me home and pretend this never happened and I promise you it never will again."

"You know I can't do that."

"Yes, you can. Just do this for me. I've saved your ass so many times. I've covered shifts for you. I've done you favors we won't talk about. You owe me."

As drunk as she was, she had a point, and he had to admit it.

"Alright," he begrudgingly agreed, unlocking the cell door. "I'll taking you home, and if anyone catches you doing this shit again, I won't be able to save you from the consequences. You get that, right? There's only so many times I can back you up before it's out of my hands."

"I know," Emma said, but was hit with a flash of a sudden realization. "Wait... Graham... I can't go home."

"Why?"

"Because Regina hates me."

"What are you talking about?"

"Look, I just can't go home, okay?"

"Where can I take you?"

"Can I just... Can I just sleep in here? Just for tonight?"

"Oh, my God. You are drunk as fuck. There's no way."

Emma pleaded with her eyes, and Graham finally conceded.

"Okay," he said, "but this isn't going to happen again."

Emma hadn't even slept off the alcohol by the time she woke up. When Emma hadn't responded to any of her texts ('Where the Hell are you?' 'Are you deliberately ignoring my texts or are you too drunk to respond?' and 'Seriously?'), her wife showed up at the station. Unfortunately for Emma, she was still sleeping on the cot in the cell, with Graham doing paperwork at the desk. When Regina walked in, he raised his head and stood up, trying to block her view of the cell.

"Regina!" he said loudly, trying to wake Emma to warn her. "Good to see you! What brings you in? Trouble at the mayor's office?"

"First of all, Graham," she sneered, "the only problem at my office is the lack of paperwork that you imbeciles were supposed to provide. I want your police logs on my desk by the end of the day. Secondly, I'm here for my wife."

Chapter Text

Regina shoved Graham's shoulder, pushing him out of the way.

"Regina, wait!" he tried, reaching for her arm.

She immediately slapped his hand away and stepped towards the cell where Emma was quickly sitting up, desperately tossing off the thin blanket. She groaned when she felt the heavy headache push her back down on the cot. Her hand went up to put pressure on her forehead as she shut her eyes.

"Are you serious right now?" Regina spat, kicking the cot and nearly knocking its thin frame over. "You're still drunk. I can smell it all over you. You reek like piss."

"Yes, I'm serious," Emma moaned, not moving as the makeshift bed shook beneath her. "You didn't want me at the house, anyway, so just bugger off and leave me alone."

"I told you this before. I have a reputation to keep. I'll not have you galavanting around town, puking your guts out in front of a public establishment, getting into juvenile bar fights over some slut you just met, and getting thrown in jail."

Emma's eyes shot open.

"How did you know about that?"

"I have eyes and ears everywhere, my dear. It's one of my many talents. Now, get up. I'm taking you back to the house until you sober up, and then you're going to march your ass back here, relieve Graham of his shift, and do your job with some fucking propriety."

"What is going on with you?" Emma yelled, sitting straight up and staring at her furious wife.

Graham had already backed out into the hallway and shut the door behind him, leaving them alone in the room. Regina glared at Emma and took a step closer.

"Get. Up. Now."

Suddenly feeling a little afraid - the queen was good at striking fear into the heart of almost anyone, even her own wife - Emma drunkenly grabbed her jacket and fumbled out of the cot, standing on wobbly legs. She felt her head spinning as she looked around for her phone, but Regina had already bent down and picked it up off the floor and was clutching it tightly in her hand. Regina roughly grabbed her arm and dragged her out of the station, nearly shoving her into the car. Like the night before, Emma hit her head as she ducked into the cab. She cringed, holding her head in her hands, but Regina felt no sympathy. She drove home in silence.

When they finally reached the house and Regina had jerked her up the stairs and pushed her onto their bed, she said words Emma never thought she would hear.

"I hate you sometimes."

When the door slammed shut, Emma felt her eyes begin to burn. The woman she loved had said the words she feared most in the world, even more than 'I want a divorce.' At least after a divorce, she could pretend there was still some love there, but 'hate'... 'Hate' is a stronger word.

As Emma started to cry, she grabbed the nearest pillow on the bed and clutched it to her chest, squeezing it tightly. After a while, the alcohol wore off, and her drunken tears dried. Eventually, the hangover began, and she fell asleep.

She was wakened by her wife throwing the door open, the sound of it crashing against the wall ringing in her aching ears.

"Henry is going to be home in twenty minutes. It's 2:40. Get up, shower, change your clothes, and look presentable."

Why is she telling me what to do? Emma wanted to know, but she said nothing. Instead, she nodded her head and made her way over to her closet where she looked for something reasonable to wear. Luckily, her hangover had mostly worn off - at least enough that Henry wouldn't notice. Once she removed her clothes, she could smell the alcohol all over herself, and she knew her breath must have been awful, so she hurried to clean herself up, went downstairs, and waited for her son to get home from school.

Chapter Text

Before Henry arrived, Regina went into the living room and found Emma sitting on the couch, anxiously bouncing her leg up and down. She was looking at the clock. Regina sat down beside her wife and leaned in, her lips close to Emma's. When the blonde shut her eyes, anticipating the kiss she so desperately hoped for, she was surprised to find that the brunette pulled away quickly.

"Good," she said. "You don't smell like booze."

Emma held back the tears as Henry burst through the door.

"Mom!" he cried, rushing over to Regina and throwing his arms around her.

Emma stood up but didn't advance towards the boy. She waited for him to come to her. As he exclaimed her name and hugged her tightly, she kissed the top of his head and thought about what a terrible parent she was becoming. She should have been there to tuck him in the night before. She should have been there to say goodnight. She should have...

"Mom?" he asked, interrupting Emma's thoughts. "Can we have lasagna for dinner?"

"We can have whatever you want, sweetie," she told him with a gentle smile, kneeling down to kiss his forehead and take both of his hands in hers.

"How was school?"

"It was really good. I won the award for best art project!"

"Really? That's amazing! Good job Henry!"

"Nice job, kid!" Emma chimed in, smiling at the boy as he looked over at her. "Do we get to see it?"

"They're going to display it in the hallway at school. You should come look."

"Alright. I'll bring you to school tomorrow and look at it then."

"You have to work," Regina reminded her.

Emma cursed under her breath so that Henry wouldn't hear her.

"I'm sorry, buddy," she said. "I'll come see it later, though, okay?"

Looking disappointed, he marched up to his room in silence.

"Nice going, Emma," her wife spat. "Way to get his hopes up over nothing."

"I just forgot, okay? I really wanted to see his project, and I wasn't thinking. It was a mistake."

"You make a lot of those," Regina quipped.

The sheriff just sighed.

"I should get to work. I'm sure Graham wants to leave."

"Whatever. He's getting paid overtime. I bet he doesn't care."

"Good point. Anyway - and not that you care - but I'm obviously going to be working the night shift now, so I won't be back until 2 or 3 in the morning."

"I know that."

Biting her lip, Emma turned and grabbed her jacket, slipping it on and making her way to the door, knowing she wasn't going to get a kiss goodbye.

"Emma," Regina called after her, causing the woman to spin on her heels with hopeful stars in her eyes. "You'd better come home tonight. One more slip-up and I want you out. For real, this time."

Emma didn't cry until she got to the car, and then she let the tears fall all the way to the station. Once she got there, she dried them and put on a little cover-up to hide the puffiness around her eyes - something she didn't normally do.

"You look different," Graham said when she walked in. "You look good."

"Thanks," Emma muttered, throwing her jacket over the back of her chair. "My wife doesn't think so."

"You gotta stop moping, Em. Cheer up a little. I'm sure she'll come around soon. She's just pissed that you got shitfaced, and honestly... I would be too. You're a wreck, Emma. You need help."

"I know," she sighed. "I was going to meetings."

"Yeah? And then what?"

"And then I stopped, okay? I stopped."

"Because Regina stopped caring about you?"

"Something like that."

"Just tell her you're sorry."

"Don't you think I've tried that? You can't just apologize to the queen. It doesn't work like that."

Emma refused to use the word 'evil' to refer to her wife, even though that was what the rest of Storybrooke called her. She saw the good in the queen when no one else did, and she had faith that the good outweighed whatever 'evil' there might have been.

"Then ask her to marry you again."

"What?"

"Ask her to renew your vows."

"Actually, Graham," Emma said, "that's not a bad idea."

Chapter Text

When she got home in the morning, Emma knew her place was on the couch, so before she laid down to go to sleep, she quietly slipped into her wife's office and poured herself a glass of scotch. It didn't take long for her to finish it, but by the time she did, she was too tired for more. She passed out with the empty glass sitting on the table beside her.

In the morning, Henry woke her by shaking her shoulder.

"Emma?"

She sat up, startled but not hungover, and looked at her son.

"What's up, kiddo?"

"Why have you been sleeping on the couch?"

Emma thought about whether to tell Henry the truth. Regina would have wanted her to lie, but she knew she couldn't do that to him. She had to be honest to keep his trust, and she'd already almost lost it before.

"Because your mom is mad at me, kid."

"How come? What happened?"

"Well," she started with a sigh, "I've been... doing some stuff I shouldn't, and doing too much of it."

"Like what?"

Henry sat down beside her on the couch, looking into her eyes to find the truth.

"Drinking."

"You mean, like, alcohol?"

Emma nodded her head and took the boy's hand.

"Why's that bad?" he asked quizzically. "Mom drinks it too."

"Because I drink too much. Anything in excess is not a good thing."

"What does that mean?"

"It means that drinking is okay in small quantities, but I haven't been drinking in small quantities."

Their conversation was interrupted by the sound of the queen coming down the stairs.

"What's going on?" the woman asked, looking at both of them.

Just be honest, Emma tried to tell herself.

"I was just telling Henry about my problem."

"Emma!"

"He needed to know, Regina. He asked."

"Why wouldn't you want me to know?" Henry asked, offended, staring intently at his adoptive mother.

"Because..."

Regina struggled to find her excuse.

"Because these are adult problems you shouldn't have to worry about."

"I'm not worried," Henry told her. "I love Emma and I know she'll stop, because she doesn't want you to be mad anymore."

This caught the mayor off guard - so much so that she felt the need to sit down in the large chair across from the couch.

"If that's true, she needs to try harder."

"I'm sure she is trying, Mom. I bet she's going to stop today. Right, Emma?"

He looked over at her with pressuring, hopeful eyes.

"Henry, hush!" Emma hissed, burying her face in her hands.

"Well, aren't you?"

"Yes, Emma. Do tell us," the queen requested. "Aren't you?"

Emma wanted out. She wanted to run, to breathe, to drink, but her wife and son were both staring her down, pressuring her to tell them the lie. Henry looked at her with hope, but her wife looked at her with disdain. If only Regina could show that same hope in her eyes again. What had happened after their day together that made Regina so angry? Of course, the previous night's events were justly punished, but Emma wasn't sure what had gone wrong before that.

"I can't," she said softly, looking away from them.

"You're an alcoholic?" Henry asked, looking defeated as he stared at Emma with disappointment and worry in his eyes.

Tears started to stream down her cheeks, but as soon as Henry saw them, he wrapped his arms around her.

"I love you, Emma," he said softly. "I know you can stop. I know you will."

Regina seriously considered saying 'I don't,' but thought better of it, for the sake of not upsetting Henry. As Emma registered the love in Henry's eyes, she hugged him back and whispered in his ear.

"I will," she promised. "For both of you. I just don't know when."

Chapter Text

A week later, nothing had changed, including Regina's angered disposition. Every day, Henry asked her if she'd stopped yet, and every day she had to tell him the truth.

"No, buddy," she'd say. "Not yet."

Every now and then, her wife would overhear this, and when Emma glanced over at her, she could see the sneer on her face. Emma hadn't gone out since the previous incident - too scared to infuriate the mayor even more - so she had taken to drinking downstairs after her son had gone to bed. After a particularly brutal fight about Emma's parenting abilities where Regina had told her she was unfit to be a mother, Emma decided to drink herself into a stupor. It was one of the first conscious decisions she'd made about drinking. Usually, it was just a reflex. This time, it was a choice.

Shot after shot she downed, until eventually, she was drinking from the bottle as she clutched a couch pillow to her chest and cried into it. The only sound in the house was her shaking sobs, but after a few more gulps from the bottle, they slowed until the contents of Emma's stomach were emptied onto the floor. Her world went black and she collapsed on the couch.

When Henry crept down the stairs to check on his mother, he wasn't expecting to find her barely breathing. When he shook her shoulder and saw she wasn't moving, he worried, but when he saw the vomit, panic struck him.

"MOM!" he screamed.

Henry grabbed Emma's hand and squeezed it until his mother came running down the stairs.

"What's going on?" she asked anxiously, sweeping the room with her eyes.

When she saw Emma on the couch, she felt her heart sink into her stomach.

"Oh, God," Regina breathed, kneeling by her lover's side.

"Emma?" she said loudly in the woman's ear, but Emma didn't move.

The woman pressed two fingers against Emma's neck to check for a pulse and found that it was shockingly slow.

"We have to get her to the hospital," Regina told her son, lifting Emma into her arms. "Go get the car keys."

Henry did what he was told, fear filling his eyes with tears, and ran outside to unlock the car. Forgetting to lock the front door in the hurry, Regina carefully laid Emma in the back seat and slammed the car door shut. The only thing that kept her from speeding the entire way to the hospital was Henry in the front seat.

Regina carried her into the emergency room, cradling her against her chest. She had Henry fill out the paperwork, telling him what to write in each blank, as she held Emma tightly until the doctor called her name. The doctors took Emma from her arms and put her on a gurney, causing the mayor's heart to stop with a feeling of trepidation.

"She has alcohol poisoning," the brunette told them. "She threw up before she blacked out."

When Emma's family started to walk with the men in scrubs, the doctors stopped and stood in front of them.

"You can't go in, ma'am. Not until her situation has been treated and evaluated. A doctor will come get you when she's ready for visitors."

"We're her family," Regina protested, taking a daring step forward.

"I understand that, ma'am, but you can't go in until she's stable."

Her chest heaving, the mayor retreated back into the waiting room with her son, sitting next to him and squeezing his hand anxiously. They waited for two and a half hours before a doctor finally appeared in the doorway and called out their name.

"Mrs. Mills' family?" the doctor called out.

The two of them stood up and made their way over.

"You can see her now."

Chapter Text

Beside her bed, Regina held her wife's hand, sweat building between their palms.

"Emma," the mayor breathed, leaning in to brush the woman's soft blonde locks out of her face.

The sheriff's eyes fluttered open as she looked into the brunette's deep brown eyes.

"'Gina, I'm so sorry." she said softly.

"You could've died," Regina told her sternly, tears filling her eyes.

"I know," she whispered. "I'm sorry. I guess I just... I didn't care."

"What? Emma!" Henry cried out. "Why would you want to die?"

"I don't, kid. I just..."

"Sometimes people just get really sad, Henry," Regina sighed, saving Emma from the embarrassment of having to explain her own depression.

The boy didn't say anything. He just looked at his mother with lack of understanding and worry in his eyes.

"I'm sorry," Emma repeated.

When she tried to sit up, she found that her body was too weak, and she fell back down on the bed.

"Don't," the mayor said softly. "It's okay, baby. Just relax."

Emma's eyes went wide as she stared at her wife.

"What?"

"I said, 'It's okay.'"

"I know, but..."

"Shh. I know."

Regina leaned over her lover and hugged her, placing a gentle kiss on her cheek.

"I want to go home," Emma said, clenching her fists. "Why won't they let me leave?"

"They're worried you did some serious damage to yourself, since you drank as much as you did."

"But, I..."

"You need to stay. You need to let them take care of you until you're better."

Emma looked away.

"I'm fine."

"You're not fine," Regina told her. "I want you to go to rehab."

"Rehab?" Emma gasped, sitting up in bed, causing her head to spin.

"Yes."

"But, 'Gina-"

"No, Emma. You need to go." Regina turned to Henry and said, "Wait outside for a minute, Henry. I need to talk to your mother alone."

Once he left - reluctantly - his mothers looked at each other, both of them sighing at almost the same moment.

"You almost killed yourself," Regina pointed out. "Why are you doing this?"

"I hate myself," Emma said, "because you hate me."

"Baby, I don't hate you. I just..."

"Why did you get pissed at me in the first place? A week ago, we were fine. We were great. You stayed home with me, ate lucky charms with me... What did I do to turn you against me, before I started drinking again?"

"You're irresponsible. You irritate me. You never do anything I ask you to. You made me look like a complete fool when you forgot to finish that paperwork. It was important."

Emma sighed again and looked away.

"I'm sorry."

"Don't be sorry, Emma. That's all just stupid stuff we can work on. What you need to worry about right now is getting better."

"I don't want you to hate me."

"I don't hate you, Emma," Regina said. "You're the mother of my son. You're my wife. You're my world, Mrs. Mills..."

Regina trailed off and looked down at their hands, which were still entwined.

"Say it again," Emma breathed.

"What?" the mayor asked, looking up.

"Call me Mrs. Mills."

The queen leaned in, her eyes softening as she looked at Emma, and hovered above the woman's lips.

"I love you, Mrs. Mills," she whispered, kissing the blonde softly, "and I don't want anything to happen to you. So you need to stop this."

"I'll go," Emma told her, starting to cry. "I'll go. Just tell me what to do, and I'll do it. I can't lose you and Henry."

"You won't."

They kissed again, and Regina was reluctant to pull away, but she knew she should let Henry back in the room.

"I'll be right back," she told Emma, standing up and walking over to the door to the hospital room.

When she opened the door, Henry was already standing right in front of it. Once past the doorway, he pushed his adoptive mother out of the way and ran to Emma's side.

Chapter Text

"When can you come home?" Henry asked quickly, grabbing Emma's hand. "I want you to come home."

"I know, buddy. I'll get better soon and come home to you both, okay? But then I have to go away for a while."

"But why?"

"Because I'm going to do what your mother asked me to. I'm going to go to rehab, Henry."

"But how long will that take?"

"It depends on the program we choose. Some are two weeks, some are thirty days, some are three months."

"You can't be gone for three months!" Henry cried, throwing his arms around his mother. "Don't go, Emma!"

"You want me to get better, don't you, kid?" she asked sincerely, lifting his head and looking into his eyes.

He nodded.

"Then you've got to let me go. You've got to support me in this so I can get through it, okay? Because I'm scared to go."

"You can do it, Emma," he told her with tears in his eyes. "But I'll miss you."

"I know, kid. I know."

Regina put her hand on Henry's shoulder.

"Let your mom rest, okay? She needs to relax until she feels better."

"I feel fine, 'Gina. Really. They pumped my stomach. I'm completely detoxed."

"They pumped your stomach?" Henry chimed in. "Ew!"

"Yeah, bud!" Emma laughed. "It was gross."

"It's not funny," Regina snapped, a flash of her anger showing on her face.

"Sorry," the blonde mumbled.

Before Regina could respond, the door swung open and the doctor walked in, standing at the foot of her bed.

"Visiting hours are over. Mrs. Mills needs her rest."

"But why can't we stay?" Henry protested.

Regina shook her head and put her hand back on his shoulder. She leaned over the bed and kissed her wife again.

"Will you come back in the morning?" Emma asked weakly, trying to sit up again.

"Of course I will. Henry has to be at school, but I'll come as soon as he's on the bus on the way there."

"Do you promise?"

"Emma," Regina laughed. "I promise."

"You're not angry with me?"

"Folks," the doctor interjected. "You need to leave now."

"I'm not angry," Regina told her quickly. "Get some sleep, babe."

Reluctantly, Henry and his mother left the hospital and returned home, both of them up late into the night worrying about Emma.

"It'll be okay, sweetie," Regina promised her son. "Mom's gonna be home soon."

"How long?"

"Probably tomorrow night."

"Really?" Henry asked excitedly, bouncing up and down as he sat on his bed.

His mother nodded and kissed his forehead, helping him under the covers.

"Goodnight, Henry. Don't worry about your mom. I promise she'll be okay."

With a nod, he snuggled down into the covers and prepared himself for sleep.

The next morning, Regina wasted no time getting her son ready for the day, and she made sure that she was also ready to go as soon as he left.

"Tell Mom 'hi' for me?" Henry asked as his mother shooed him out the door.

"Yes, dear. Now, go! You're going to be late, sweetheart."

As he ran to the bus stop, Regina grabbed her car keys and her purse and drove to the hospital. Once there, she spent a half hour or so watching the woman sleep and waited for her to wake up.

"Good morning, angel," Regina whispered in Emma's ear as she finally woke.

Emma was groggy, but didn't hesitate to slip her hand behind her wife's neck to pull her closer into a kiss.

"I'm so happy to see you," Emma breathed. "I had a horrible dream that I... That you..."

"I'm here now," Regina cooed, stroking the blonde's hair. "I'm right here."

"How can you go from being so angry to so sweet like that?"

"When you almost lose the one you love, it quickly puts your life into perspective and reminds you of what matters. You're hurting our family, Emma, and as long as you're doing that, things will be broken between us. But I'm not going to abandon you. I believe that you can kick this. I believe you can get better, if you want to."

"I do want to," Emma promised.

"I know, honey. And I'm going to be right here the whole way."

Chapter Text

Regina drove her wife to the rehabilitation facility. They'd decided together that it was best if Henry stayed at home. Saying goodbye before she left was excruciating. Of course, Henry was supportive, but he looked distraught as well. It was hard for him to comprehend losing his mother for an entire month, but he accepted the painful reality and gave her the tightest hug he could. Emma had to try hard not to cry as she shut the front door to the Swan-Mills residence.

In the car, Emma insisted on having music playing - it calmed her nerves - even though it made Regina uneasy to have the noise distracting her as she made her way through the atrocious Boston traffic. The city was bustling with people going about their daily lives, none of them feeling Emma's struggle. She was on her own, and soon, she would be more alone than ever. The blonde didn't want to talk; it was too hard to face the impending consequences of her regrettable actions. It made the situation all too real.

Talking over the sound of the song that way playing, Regina tried to soothe her lover.

"It's going to be okay, baby," she said softly, looking over to see the twisted expression of anxiety on her Emma's face. "I know it won't be easy, but I also know you can get through it."

Emma said nothing. Instead, tears started to well in her eyes as her heart pounded in her chest, her intense anxiety building with each passing mile. It didn't help that it was a three hour drive into the city, which only drew out the process and gave the tension a chance to build.

"Emma."

"What?"

The blonde refused to meet the woman's eyes, no matter how many times Regina looked over at her.

"Don't do this for us."

Finally, Emma stopped staring out the window and met her lover's eyes.

"What do you mean?"

"You need to do this for you, or you won't get better."

"I'm not doing this for me. I'm doing this for you guys. I want to get better so I can take care of you like I'm supposed to. So I can provide for you. So I can keep you both safe."

"Honey, even though this is hurting our family, it's hurting you more. It's destroying you. You need to learn new coping skills so that you can be happy. You can't take care of anyone else if you can't take care of yourself."

"I guess you're right," Emma said, sighing as she reached out to change the radio station, since the one that had been playing had grown drowned in static.

The kiss they shared when Regina dropped her off at the front door of the facility was slow and heartfelt, the two knowing it would be a month before they would see each other again.

"I hope I can do this."

"You can, Emma. I know you can. You just have to believe in yourself."

"I believe in you. That's all I need."

Regina sighed and pushed a hand through her hair, looking around. The building was newly renovated, and it stood out among the rest of the broken down brick walls of the surrounding apartments.

"It's going to be okay. We'll both see you soon, okay? And it's only two weeks before you can call us."

Swallowing the lump in her throat, Emma forced herself to nod. As she embraced her lover one last time, she choked back sobs.

"I need a drink," she muttered, looking at the front door.

"No, you don't. You can do this."

"I love you, 'Gina," Emma told her, staring into her dark and troubled eyes.

"I'll talk to you soon. Just stay strong, okay?"

Emma nodded and finally turned to enter the building, her knuckles turning white as she squeezed the handle of her luggage and dragged it inside behind her.

Chapter Text

Withdrawal happened quickly as her anxiety grew. As soon as she dropped her suitcase onto the stiff, temporary bed, the reality set in. She wasn't leaving. Once she'd signed the paperwork, she was stuck. 30 days. No booze, no escape.

"Oh, God. Get me out of here," she muttered to herself as she turned to face her new sponsor. "So what now?" she said more clearly, but with her voice shaking.

"Now, you'll have your first meeting with the director to talk about the goals of your treatment."

The director was a large, round man with a friendly smile who welcomed her happily into his office. The room was full of pictures of his family - a wife, two boys, and a girl.

"Hello, Emma," he greeted her warmly. "How are you today?"

"I feel like shit," she told him honestly, slumping over in the chair in front of his desk.

"Are you feeling the effects of withdrawal?"

"Yes. Definitely. I want a drink."

"I understand that. I've been an addict for thirty years. I know what it's like to need a drink when the stress is too much to bear. Detox is a difficult process."

"Then how do you get through it?"

"Practice. Lots and lots of practice and determination. Failing over and over again."

"Is that what you're supposed to teach me here?"

"Among other things, yes."

"What other things?"

Emma's face showed concern.

"How to forgive yourself, primarily. We've found that much of drinking comes from guilt and self-doubt. Do you find that to be true?"

Emma considered this before speaking. Was he right? She thought about the emotions she felt when she drank and nodded her head.

"I feel like I'm not good enough for my family."

"You are, Emma. I can promise you that. They are lucky to have someone as loving as you. I've spoken to your wife, and she's told me a lot about you."

"What?"

"Your wife was - and still is - concerned about your well-being and contacted me about your condition. She wanted to know more about the facility before recommending that you carry out your treatment here."

"How long ago was that?"

"Quite a few weeks."

A few weeks? Well before the incident at the hospital. It made Emma cringe to think of her problem being so obvious for so long that her wife had contacted the rehabilitation program ahead of time. Was it really that bad? Well, she figured, she was here, in treatment. People don't go to rehab because they're healthy. Emma shut her eyes and pictured her wife and son, wondering what they were doing at that moment. By then, Regina was back at home with Henry, probably having dinner. Did they miss her already? Emma felt the ache of missing them.

"Does that upset you?" the man asked, matching Emma's concern with his eyes.

"I'm ashamed of my problem. I'm ashamed that it's been so obvious."

He nodded his head.

"Embarrassment and shame are natural feelings that experience during this process, and although they don't go away, they do ease up after a while."

She nodded too, and when they were finished their introductory conversation, she left the man's office feeling a little bit better.

After two weeks of what seemed like Hell, Emma finally got her phone call.

"R-Regina?" she sputtered into the phone, her voice choking up in her throat.

"Yeah, baby. I'm here. How are you? How are things going? How do you feel? Are you okay? Do you miss me?"

The woman's words poured out quickly in a stream, her concerned tone making Emma worry too.

"I'm... I'm okay, but I hate this. I don't feel like it's helping. I feel more guilty every day, the more and more I realize how much I've hurt you and Henry."

"I forgive you, honey, and Henry forgives you, too. We both understand that this is hard for you."

"I'm so glad I have you to help me through this, 'Gina. I don't know what I'd do without you."

As Emma started to cry, Regina felt herself choking up, too.

"I love you, baby. I'm proud of you. Please don't cry."

The words cut through Emma and made her flinch. Proud? How could Regina be proud when Emma was so ashamed?

"Time to go, Emma!" Max's voice called into the private room. "Meeting's in five minutes."

"I have to go," Emma choked. "I love you, too."

"I'll see you in two weeks, okay? Just hang in there for me. Try to make this count."

"I will."

"Emma?"

"Yeah?"

"You're everything to me."

Chapter Text

Emma's treatment took a drastic turn. With every subsequent meeting, she felt her confidence growing. I can do this, she finally told herself. I'm better than booze. I won't let it own me. I won't let it ruin my life. Each day went by slowly, and each day was a challenge. The stress was constant, but her belief in her ability was strong.

Regina arrived early for Emma's treatment graduation ceremony, and she watched proudly as Emma was handed her diploma of completion. Hugs were exchanged until tears were shed by both.

"So what does this mean?" Regina asked. "Where do we go from here?"

"I keep going to meetings to keep myself sober."

"I'll go with you."

"You don't have to do that, 'Gina."

"I want to. I want to support you. I know this is going to be a daily struggle for you, and I want to help you through it. This isn't something you have to do on your own."

Emma nodded her head slowly and held on to both of Regina's hands.

"How do you feel?" the brunette asked, looking into her lover's troubled eyes.

"Stronger, but scared. I'm scared I'll relapse. Leaving here is the hardest part, and going back to everyday life is going to push me right to the brink. I don't know if I'm prepared for it."

"I'll be here. You can do this."

After exchanging hugs with many of the other graduates of the program, Emma left for Storybrooke with her wife, feeling nervous but excited to see her son.

"HENRY!" she screamed, throwing her arms around him when she walked through the door.

He'd been waiting up for her, even though it was well past his bedtime. He screamed back her name and held her tightly, locking his hands together behind her neck.

"I'm so glad you're home," he told her. "Are you better now?"

"Henry," she started, kneeling in front of him and taking his hands, "I'm never going to be completely better, but I'm recovering. I'm sober. It's been more than a month since I've had any alcohol."

"Aww, Emma, I'm so proud of you!"

She felt her face grow hot as she hugged her son again, whispering, "Thank you so much, kid. You mean the world to me, okay? I never meant to hurt you, and I'm so, so sorry, for everything."

"You don't have to be sorry, Emma. I love you, and I'm proud of you for getting help."

Once Henry had gone to bed, Emma and her wife sat together on the couch.

"I got rid of all the alcohol in the house," Regina told her, glancing around the room.

"You didn't have to do that. I should be able to resist the temptation."

"Keeping yourself away from temptations is important. I don't want to make this any harder on you."

The blonde nodded and leaned over, resting her head on Regina's shoulder.

"This is going to be hard."

"But you can get through it."

"I want to take care of you," Emma said softly, lifting her head and looking into her spouse's eyes.

"You don't need to take care of me, honey. I can take care of myself. I just need you to love me, that's all."

"I want to grow our family, 'Gina. You two are everything I live for, but I missed all of Henry's childhood. I missed the chance to really raise him. He's almost grown now. You've taught him everything he knows, and all the values he has. I just... I just want to raise a child with you. I want to do it together."

"How do you want to do this?" Regina asked nervously.

"What do you mean?"

"Well... Um... I mean... We could adopt. Or we could... We could use artificial insemination."

"You mean, actually have a baby?"

Regina nodded and looked into Emma's eyes.

"You?"

"Yes," Regina answered slowly. "I never had a chance to really be a mother. I'd like... I want... I really want to be a mother, Emma."

"When?"

"As soon as you're ready."

Chapter Text

The process was grueling. Getting approved in and of itself was a mountainous challenge. Going to the meetings and completing the interviews was difficult while they were both back at their jobs, but they made time. It wasn't until a few months later that they had finally decided on a donor.

Luckily for them, money was not an object, even though the procedure was more than expensive. When at last the test came back positive, Regina wiped the tears from her eyes and called her wife at work. After three unsuccessful tries, she was overwhelmed with relief.

"Emma," the mayor cried into the phone. "Baby, I'm pregnant."

The sheriff cried too.

"I'm coming home right now."

Emma showed up with flowers and chocolates and embraced her wife as soon as she opened the door.

"Come here, my beautiful girl!" Emma exclaimed, holding her arms open.

Regina crashed into her and buried her face in the woman's neck, breathing in her scent deeply as it calmed her heart into slowing its pace.

"I can't believe this is really happening," Regina said softly. "Should we wait to tell Henry?"

"No. We should tell him now. He'll be so excited!"

Of course, Emma was right. The boy was ecstatic.

"A new sibling! That's awesome! Is it a boy or a girl?"

"We don't know yet, kiddo. It'll be a few more weeks before they can tell that."

The women smiled enthusiastically at their son and held each other's hands.

"I hope it's a girl! I've always wanted a little sister!"

"We'll see," Emma said with a grin, looking over at her wife, who was also grinning from ear to ear.

Later that night, when they laid in bed, Emma put her head on Regina's shoulder and her hand on the woman's stomach.

"I'm so excited," Emma told her, using her free hand to squeeze her lover's.

"Me too, baby. I'm nervous, though! Is it scary?"

Not wanting to frighten her wife, Emma thought carefully of how to phrase her response.

"Honestly? Yes. But it's worth it, and I'll be here the whole time."

"So who's going to stay home with the baby?"

"I'd like to, if it's okay with you... I wouldn't mind taking a break from work for a while. Besides, I'm sure your 'charming' father would love to step in and play mayor for me."

Emma rolled her eyes.

"Yeah," she said. "You're probably right."

"Have you thought about any names?" Regina asked, rolling onto her side and facing Emma.

"Not really. I guess I'll leave that up to you."

Regina smiled at her and kissed her temple.

"We'll decide together."

"What if I'm not a good parent?" Emma asked, suddenly anxious. "What if I mess this up? What if I start drinking again?"

"You won't, baby. You can do this. Don't be scared. I need you to be strong for me."

"Okay... I can do that."

They spent the rest of the night talking about names and dreaming about the baby's firsts - rolling over, walking, talking, everything Emma had missed with Henry. Just before Emma started to get tired, she moved closer to her lover and slid her hands up and down her sides.

"Honey," she whispered huskily, kissing the brunette's neck slowly.

"Please," Regina breathed, tugging the woman closer and slamming their lips together.

When Emma smiled, Regina took the hint and quickly removed her clothes, desperately pulling her wife closer until they were moaning and moving together under the sheets.

In the morning, Emma woke her lover with kisses and an elated grin.

"Good morning, mama," she greeted the sleepy mayor, kissing her forehead. "Are you ready for another wonderful day?"

"Well, you're awfully chipper this morning," Regina commented, sitting up in bed.

"How could I not be?" Emma asked, stroking Regina's hair. "You're here."

Chapter Text

"I am so craving bacon," the mayor groaned, covering her face with a pillow.

"Babe," Emma started. "We don't have any."

"Please, baby, please."

"Honey, I have to be at work in twenty minutes, and I-"

"Please, Emma?"

With a sigh, the sheriff pushed a hand through her hair and covered her face.

"Alright," she mumbled. "I'll be back from the store in a few minutes. I'll call Graham and tell him I'm going to be late."

"Thank you!" the mayor cried, throwing her arms around the blonde.

In a rush, Emma left the house, even forgetting to grab her jacket on the way out. She hurried through the store, only grabbing the bacon, as requested, and a gallon of orange juice. As soon as she got stuck in the small town's morning traffic on the way back to the house, Emma was fuming.

"Fuck," she cursed, slamming her hands against the steering wheel. "Hurry up!"

When her phone rang, she wasn't surprised.

"Where are you?" the mayor whined. "I'm starving!"

"Babe," Emma gasped. "I'm trying! I'm stuck in traffic. I'll be home soon. Just sit tight, okay? Breathe deeply or something. Whatever pregnant ladies are supposed to do."

"Emma!"

"Sorry."

"Just hurry up," Regina snapped, hanging up the phone, leaving Emma exasperated.

"Goddammit," she hissed, throwing her phone onto the passenger seat.

By the time she got home, her wife was fuming as well.

"God," she spat. "Took you long enough."

"Calm down. I'm going, okay?"

Emma hurried into the kitchen and immediately threw as many slices of bacon as would fit into a frying pan and anxiously waited for them to cook.

"Don't cook them on high!" Regina called from the kitchen. "You'll burn them."

"I know, dammit! Leave me alone!"

"Don't get bitchy. I'm starving and I can't deal with that right now."

Emma sighed and held her hand in her hands, looking up only to check on the food that was radiating heat on the stove. She wasn't sure if it was the steam from the bacon that was making her face warm or the frustration, but she didn't care which. When the bacon finally finished, she cooked a few eggs and threw them haphazardly onto a porcelain plate, delivering them promptly to the mayor, who was sitting in a recliner in the living room.

"For you, my queen," Emma said with a smile, handing the plate over to the woman in the chair.

"Thanks honey," Regina said cheerily, suddenly chipper.

As soon as she took the first bite, her eyes closed and her face contorted in ecstasy.

"Oh, babe," the mayor moaned. "This is so good."

"I'm glad it's to your liking, darling."

Emma was grinning. Only when the plate was completely clean did the queen speak again.

"Thanks, babe. You're the best."

"No problem. I have to go, though, okay? I love you."

Emma leaned down to kiss her wife, but the woman pulled away.

"Don't go," she whined. "Stay with me."

"You know I can't do that. I left early yesterday. I have to make up the hours."

"I know, but-"

"Regina. No."

Pouting, Regina crossed her arms.

"You're a bitch."

"Stop it," Emma laughed, kissing the woman's forehead. "I'll be home before you know it."

"The hours are going to crawl by. I just know it!"

"Hush." Looking at her watch, Emma added, "I gotta go."

After finally receiving a kiss goodbye, Emma left to report for duty.

Meanwhile, the pregnant queen's hormones got the best of her.

At first, she simply laid in bed, thinking about what to name her child and what color to paint the nursery, but ultimately... Her thoughts turned back to Emma.

As soon as they did, she felt herself grow warm, but eventually, she could stand it no longer, and... Her fingers slipped between her own legs.

Chapter Text

When Emma finally got home that night, the mayor was curled in the arms of a deep sleep.

"Babe?" Emma asked softly, opening the bedroom door just enough to poke her head in and peek at the sleeping queen.

The woman didn't wake, so Emma approached quietly, and after staring intently at her lover's face, she crawled into bed beside her. This caused the woman to stir and open her eyes. When she turned to look at Emma, the blonde was flashing a satisfied smile.

"What?" the queen mumbled sleepily.

"I'm just so lucky to have you," Emma said softly, stroking Regina's hair, making the brunette smile back at her.

"And I'm lucky to have you."

They were quiet for a moment, looking intently into each other's eyes, until Emma finally said, "I have the most beautiful wife in the world."

"You're so cheesy," the mayor giggled, "and ridiculous."

"I might be cheesy, but I'm not ridiculous," Emma protested. "You are beautiful. And now... Now you have this... this glow..."

"What are you talking about?"

"You just look... radiant..."

With a slight blush, the mayor weakly shook her head, but Emma kissed her forehead and smiled.

"Shh," Emma whispered. "You're beautiful."

Sighing, the queen leaned back against her lover.

"I don't know why you're with me."

"Because I love you. Because you're perfect for me. Because you're carrying my child"

At this last sentence, Emma's voice nearly squeaked with excitement she couldn't contain, and this made the mayor laugh.

"Yeah," she said. "I am."

"It doesn't feel real."

"I know."

"Wait..." the queen started. "Emma..."

"What is it?" Emma responded, suddenly concerned by the tone of Regina's voice.

The woman just lowered her head and looked melancholy.

"Regina," Emma said sternly, "what is it?"

"What if I lose it?"

"What do you mean?"

"What if I have a miscarriage?"

"Why would you say that?" Emma said anxiously, grabbing the woman's hands and squeezing them.

"Because it's possible."

After a pause, Emma responded confidently, "I think we should make an appointment with a doctor and see what they have to say."

With a sigh, Regina nodded, and Emma leaned in to kiss her temple.

The next morning, Emma made the call.

"I'm scared," Regina said. "What if the baby's not healthy?"

"The baby is going to be fine," Emma assured her, kissing her cheek. "It's going to be fine."

To Regina's surprise, as soon as the image of the ultrasound appeared on the screen, Emma's eyes filled with tears.

"Oh, my God," the blonde breathed, gripping her wife's hand tighter than she'd meant to.

"Ouch!" Regina cried, pulling her hand away. "Jesus, Emma!"

"I'm s-sorry," the blonde said, unable to tear her eyes away from the screen.

"Is... Is it a boy or a girl?" the mayor asked the doctor nervously.

"We won't know for a while. You two will just have to guess for now," the doctor said, smiling at them. "Congratulations."

Emma's mouth hung open until the screen went back.

After a long discussion with the doctor concerning the likelihood of a miscarriage or birth defects, the happy family felt relieved.

Chapter Text

The next day, Henry revealed the extent of his excitement.

"This is awesome," Henry cried, jumping and slamming his feet back down on the wood floor.

"Hey!" Regina snapped. "Don't scuff my floors!"

Emma rolled her eyes and lifted her son into her arms.

"So you're happy?" she asked him.

"I'm totally stoked!" he yelled, jumping back out of his mother's arms.

Both grinning, the women looked at each other with relief.

That night at the dinner table, Henry couldn't contain his excitement.

"If it's a boy, you have to name him Captain America!" he yelled, unintentionally slamming his fist down on the table.

"Henry," Emma laughed, "We're not naming him Captain America."

"Batman, then?"

"Henry!"

"If it's a girl, she has to be Selena, after Catwoman!"

"Oh, God," Regina groaned. "Henry, please."

"But mom!"

"Henry," Emma chimed in. "You're stressing your mother out. Calm down, would you?"

"But I'm excited! I can't help it!"

"Try," Emma said flatly.

He scowled and picked at his food until he was excused from the table, at which time he went up to his room and sat quietly on his bed, reading.

In their own bedroom, his parents caressed each other lovingly until they fell asleep in each other's arms.

[LINE BREAK]

"So what do you think about the name Captain America?" Emma asked playfully the next morning.

Regina simply rolled her eyes and gave her wife a sleepy, half-hearted shove, making the woman laugh.

"Well?" Emma pressed with a grin, consciously attempting to irritate her already overly-sensitive partner.

"Absolutely not," Regina snapped.

"Why not?"

"Because that's not a real name!" she snapped again. After a pause, she asked, "What's his real name anyway?"

"Steve Rogers."

"Steve? Eh."

"What's wrong with that name?!"

"Nothing! It's just... I'm just... It's not..."

Emma scoffed and crossed her arms.

"Fine. What about Selena then?"

"Emma, dammit! Knock it off! We're not naming our child after any superheroes!"

Forcing herself to give her best performance, she pouted as whole-heartedly as she could and tried to keep a straight face and shove the giggles down. Regina caught the smirk threatening to break into a smile and shoved Emma again.

"I mean it!" the queen screamed. "This isn't a joke!"

Hearing the sudden seriousness in her tone, Emma bit her lip and looked away, mumbling, "I'm sorry. I was just joking."

"Well stop it. We need to decide."

"Can't we just decide when we actually meet her?"

"I want options! I want to be prepared. It's not like a puppy, Emma. You can't just wait a while to see what she's like. You have to be ready."

"But what if her personality doesn't fit the name?" Emma pressed. "And what if it's a boy?"

"Be serious for a minute, would you? We need to come up with names."

Sighing, Emma nodded.

"What do you like?"

"I'm not really sure. Give me some ideas."

"I like the name Aeryn, for a boy, spelled A-E-R-Y-N."

After a pause, Regina allowed herself to smile and said, "Actually, I really like that. It's unique. What else?"

"What about Austin?"

"Eh. Not so much."

"What about Holden?"

"As in the main character in The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger? Yeah, right."

Emma frowned.

"You come up with one then."

Thinking hard, Regina finally offered, "Shon."

"I don't like that."

"Fine! Jesus, Emma. Don't be so picky."

"What?! Me?! I wanted to name him Steve!"

Emma couldn't help but laugh.

"Stop it!"

"Sorry," Emma mumbled, looking away again. "What about Gavin?"

"I like that."

With a smile, Emma kissed the woman's cheek.

"What about for a girl?"

"How about Amelia?"

"I... Emma..." the mayor breathed. "That's perfect."

Grinning, Emma kissed Regina's cheek again.

"I really like it too. That one's been in the back of my mind for a while. We could call her Mia."

"I guess we'll just have to argue some more if it's a boy," the queen teased, earning a nod of agreement from her wife.

Chapter Text

The next night, Regina found herself plagued and gripped tightly by nightmares that only released her when the worst one was at its peak, waking her a cold, soaking sweat.

"No!" Regina screamed. "Emma!"

She shot up in bed, waking her lover, and stared helplessly into the darkness, her face as white as the moon.

"Regina?" Emma asked, reaching for her wife's shoulder. "What happened?"

"I divorced you," Regina sobbed. "I divorced you, and then..."

"What, baby? What?"

"I walked in on you fucking Graham."

"Graham?" Emma asked, stifling a laugh.

The possibility of that scenario, Emma knew, was approximately zero percent.

"Regina," Emma continued, "that would never happen."

"Oh, God," Regina sobbed. "He was... You were..."

"Shh. Honey, shh."

Emma wrapped her arms around Regina's shoulders and held her tightly, kissing her neck.

"No!" Regina screamed, jerking away. "It was so real..."

"But it wasn't real. I'm here. I'm with you. We're married with a beautiful son and another wonderful child on the way. I could never want anyone else."

"But... you should have seen the way you two were going at it. It was so... disgusting... Revolting," Regina choked. "You were gasping and moaning his name so loudly that neither of you even noticed when I opened the door."

"Oh, honey," Emma sighed. "Nothing like that is ever going to happen. Besides, you know I'm positively repulsed by cock. After Neal, I don't think I could ever stomach it again."

This earned a small, nervous smile from the queen, who reluctantly leaned back against the pillows and wiped the sweat from her brow.

"Don't you know that you're the only one I want?" Emma asked sadly, reaching up to stroke the woman's hair.

Regina shut her eyes, still picturing her lover underneath the man that had once dared to kiss the woman.

"But you... But he..."

Knowing exactly what her wife was thinking, she assured the woman, "It was nothing. It was empty and void of any feeling. Don't you understand that? Besides, you fucked him before, not me."

The last sentence was soft and slightly bitter. Hearing this in the woman's voice, Regina bit her lip, thinking back on her own past and the moments she so desperately regretted.

"It was empty. Please believe me," the mayor begged. "He was... just... there. I don't know what happened. I was repulsed, but I just... I was..."

"It's okay," the sheriff said softly. "I understand."

"But the way you looked..."

"It was a dream, Regina. Just a dream."

"You're right. Maybe it's just the hormones."

Emma knew all too well that agreeing with this statement would only get her in trouble, so she opted to keep her mouth shut, until...

"Right?" the queen asked sharply.

"I... um..." Emma stuttered.

"What? What?"

"I'm not sure, honey. I don't really know that much about it. I mean, I had bad dreams when I was pregnant with Henry, but then again... I always do."

There was a pause, until Regina finally asked, "Really?" and waited for Emma's reply.

With a sigh, Emma said, "Yes," and rubbed her eyes. "I dream about losing you. Before I met you, I dreamed about my family giving me up. When I was pregnant, I dreamed about ruining my son's life. About ruining my own life. About killing myself."

"Emma," Regina breathed.

"Don't. It's fine. It was just a difficult time for me. I had trouble pulling myself out of it, but once Henry came back into my life, I felt like I had a purpose again. That's why I wouldn't leave Storybrooke. That's why I would leave him. And then you... You... just..."

"What?"

"You set fire to my heart and captivated me. Now, I could never let you go. Do you understand? It could never be anyone else."

Weakly, the sullen queen nodded her head and slid back down under the covers, resting her head down on the pillow.

"Lay down with me," the queen requested of her lover.

Emma leaned over her and pressed her lips to the woman's forehead, but made no move to roll over.

"Emma, please just hold me."

With a smile, Emma finally curled into her wife's side and kissed the woman's neck.

"I love you, Regina. I swear I'll never leave you."

This earned a smile from the mayor that Emma couldn't see in the darkness, and when the queen finally fell back into a deep sleep, the sheriff shut her eyes as well.

Chapter Text

A month or so later, there was another midnight scare.  This time, however, it was not dreams that woke the queen, but pain.

 

“Emma,” she whimpered, shaking her lover’s shoulder.  “Emma!”

 

The blonde stirred awake, startled, and reached for her wife.

 

“What is it, honey? What’s the matter?”

 

“It hurts... It feels like... It hurts so badly...”

 

“What hurts?”

 

“My stomach. It feels like someone’s twisting a knife inside me.”

 

Emma’s first thought made her heart sink as she threw back the covers.

 

“Are you bleeding?!”

 

Regina shook her head, grateful to be able to give her lover that answer.

 

“Thank God,” Emma breathed, shutting her eyes for only a moment.

 

After that, she acted quickly and pulled her wife gently out of the bed.

 

“Come on,” Emma said. “We’re going to the hospital.”

 

Holding her stomach, Regina nodded as her wife threw a few articles of clothing into a small duffle bag.  Once they were in the car, the pregnant mayor leaned back against the seat and slammed her eyes closed until they reached the hospital where Emma escorted her as quickly as possible to the emergency waiting room.

 

After what seemed like hours, they were finally shown to a doctor, who brought them into a sterile white room, which made Regina nervous.  After running a few tests that seemed to take forever to finish, the two found themselves eagerly staring up at the doctor, waiting for the results.

 

“I’m happy to tell you both that with a little bit of careful medication, you will feel just fine again, and that there’s absolutely nothing to worry about.  Occasionally, intense pain will be felt, but it’s not completely abnormal.”

 

Both let out a sigh of relief before nodding their heads in silence.

 

“Thank God,” Emma finally said, rubbing her temples.

 

The two left the emergency room feeling nervous but reassured.  Back at the house, they checked on their son, then returned to their own bedroom.

 

In the morning, Regina was still unsettled by the experience, and extremely exhausted, but Emma continued to soothe her fears with encouragement and kisses.

 

“It’s gonna be alright, baby,” Emma said softly.  “You’re alright.”

 

Regina nodded, but still felt the fear inside her and a nervousness that gripped her tightly.

 


 

 

The rest of the pregnancy seemed to fly by, until they finally found themselves at the hospital once more, with their son beside them, due to the queen’s rapidly quickening contractions.

 

After much screaming and excruciating pain, their daughter was born, leaving them both in tears.

 

“Amelia,” they whispered simultaneously as Regina held the baby close and Emma took the tiny girl’s hand between her fingers.

 

“I love you, darling,” Emma said softly, kissing her wife’s sweating forehead.  “I’m so proud of you.”

 

“That was fucking horrible,” the queen groaned.  “Let’s never do that again.”

 

“Okay, baby,” Emma laughed, knowing all too well the pain of giving birth, but also knowing just how grateful they were to have such a joy in their lives.

 

After this, Emma went into the hallway to let their son into the room, allowing him to meet his sister for the first time.

 

“Wow!” he gasped. “She’s so tiny!”

 

“Mhmm,” Emma said with a smile.  “She’s perfect, huh, buddy?”

 

“Uh-huh.”

 

Regina grinned tiredly at all three of them, then finally leaned back against the pillows and shut her eyes.

 

“Your mom’s exhausted. We should let her sleep,” Emma told Henry.  “Let me hold her, honey?”

 

Regina nodded weakly, unable to protest, and let Emma take the young child in her arms. They let the woman fall asleep, then sat quietly in the seats, one on each side of the bed.

 

“When do we get to go home?” Henry whispered.  “I’m bored!”

 

“Henry, shh! Let your mother sleep, okay? She just went through an extremely excruciating ordeal and needs her rest.”

 

“How long before the baby starts walking and talking and I get to play with her?”

 

“Henry, hush! Just play your video games, alright?”

 

With a heavy, exaggerated sigh, Henry pulled a hand-held gaming console out of his bag and powered it on, nearly waking his sleeping mother with the obnoxious melodic noise that erupted from the tiny speakers.

 

“Henry!” Emma hissed. “Volume off or headphones in!”

 

Groaning, the boy complied.

Chapter Text

The next few days were spent doing much of the same - Regina sleeping, Emma watching over her protectively, and Henry quietly playing video games - until the mayor was finally back on her feet and feeling a little less exhausted than before.

 

It was only a few nights later when the mayor woke in a panic once more.

 

“Emma!” she yelled from the nursery, startling the blonde awake.

 

Terrified, Emma frantically scrambled into the other room to find her wife bent over their daughter, forehead sweating and panic on her face.

 

“What? What is it!?” Emma cried.

 

“She’s making weird noises!”

 

What?” Emma said, blinking quickly a few times before stepping forward.

 

“She’s gurgling! It sounds like she’s choking!”

 

Emma lifted the newborn into her arms and listened closely, but all she could hear was her wife’s frightened, heaving breaths.

 

“Honey,” Emma sighed. “She’s just making noise. It’s totally normal. Henry did that too, as soon as he was born.”

 

“But it sounds like-”

 

“Regina. Shh.  Nothing’s wrong with her, baby.  You’re panicking over nothing.”

 

“It’s not nothing!” the mayor snapped, a little too loudly.

 

“Regina! Shh!”

 

Regina quieted herself, but still looked as white as snow.

 

“She’s fine,” Emma assured her again, kissing her lover’s forehead, then the baby’s.  “Let’s get to bed.”

 

Once the tiny girl had fallen asleep in her crib, the two tired mothers made their way back into the bedroom.

 

“So,” Emma said slyly. “Now that this whole ordeal is over, do I get to get laid again?”

 

“EMMA!” the mayor nearly screamed, slapping the woman’s shoulder harder than she’d meant to.

 

“Ouch!” Emma cried, rubbing the spot on her arm that was turning red.

 

“You deserved it.”

 

“Yeah, I know,” Emma laughed, kissing her wife’s cheek before the woman had a chance to pull away.   “Seriously, though. Am I ever getting laid again? It’s been a really long time...”

 

“Nope,” Regina said quickly.  “Not acting like that, you’re not.”

 

Emma frowned.

 

Once the lights had been turned off again and the two lay in bed beside each other, Regina whispered in the dark, “Do you want to know a secret, Mrs. Mills?”

 

Emma blushed, loving the sound of the name she’d been called.

 

“Of course, darling,” she said softly, rolling onto her side to face her wife.

 

“I’ve been dying for you to fuck me.”

 

Eyes wide, Emma instantly stripped herself of her panties and loose T-shirt.

 

“As you wish, m’lady,” Emma said smoothly, sliding her hands up and down her lover’s body, savoring the soft skin her fingertips touched.

 

As Emma penetrated the woman for the first time in months, she whispered, “I love you,” and thrust her fingers in and out, over and over again, until the volume of Regina’s whimpers began to grow.

 

“Shh,” Emma giggled. “You’ll wake Henry and Amelia.”

 

Regina fought to contain the noises, but as her core muscles clenched in orgasm, she was unable to hold them in.

 

“Emma!” she whimpered loudly, her legs shaking.

 

“Yeah, baby,” the blonde whispered.  “That was good, huh? You really wanted it, didn’t you?”

 

“Mhmm,” Regina agreed, licking her lips.  “Again.”

 

Emma’s eyes widened, but she obeyed, saying, “Alright, but be quiet this time!”

 

This proved impossible for the mayor, who was thrashing and moaning beneath her lover.

 

“Emma,” she cried. “Emma.  Emma.  Emma!”

 

“Yeah, baby,” Emma said. “Say my name.”

 

Instead, Regina moaned, “Harder.  Harder!” until Emma’s fingers thrust inside her with a nearly painful force.  “Yes.  Yes. Yes.”

 

By the time she came again, she was too exhausted to return the favor.  This Emma didn’t mind.  It was satisfying enough for her to please her lover.  But, unfortunately, she was unable to do this a third time, which was slightly disappointing.  The woman fell asleep almost instantly, but Emma lay awake, nearly panting as her heartbeat slowed.

Chapter Text

In the morning, the sleeping queen refused to wake, rolling away onto her side when Emma gently shook her shoulder.

 

“Regina,” Emma said. “I gotta go to work. Come downstairs and have breakfast with me.”

 

With a groan, the mayor slammed a pillow over her head and refused to open her eyes.

 

“Go away,” she mumbled.

 

“Aren’t you hungry?”

 

“Go away.”

 

“What’s wrong with you? You never have trouble getting out of bed.”

 

“Tired.”

 

“Regina-”

 

“Tired!”

 

“Jesus. Alright.”

 

With that, Emma climbed out of bed and made her way downstairs.

 

From the station, in the early afternoon, Emma dialed the woman’s number.  To her surprise, there was no answer.  She tried a few more times, but to no avail. When she got home around four in the afternoon, she was even more surprised to find the queen still asleep.

 

“Regina?” Emma asked cautiously, stepping closer to the bed.

 

“No,” the woman groaned. “Not home.”

 

“Have you even gotten out of bed yet?”

 

“Of course I have!” Regina snapped, throwing the pillow to the other side of the bed. “You think I’d just let Amelia cry?”

 

“No, I didn’t mean that, I just-”

 

“I tried to take a nap, alright?  Is that a problem?”

 

“Jesus, Regina! What’s wrong with you?”

 

“I feel horrible,” the woman confessed, reaching for the pillow and hugging it to her chest, “I’m a horrible mother.”

 

“Regina!” Emma cried, sitting beside her lover.  “You are not a horrible mother! You are a wonderful parent. Just look how Henry turned out, and you raised him all on your own.”

 

“He’s a wonderful boy,” the mayor conceded, “but you’re a better parent than I ever was.”

 

“That’s not true, Regina, and you know it.”

 

“I know no such thing.”

 

“Have you eaten anything?”

 

“What?”

 

“Have you eaten anything? You’re really... irritable...”

 

“What does that have to do with food?!”

 

“I don’t know. You tell me.  Have you eaten anything?”

 

“Well, no, but...”

 

“But?”

 

“I wasn’t hungry.”

 

Emma bit her lip and looked the woman over, until the silence was broken by shrill cries from the baby in the other room.

 

“I’ll get her,” Emma said, standing quickly and hurrying to quiet her daughter. When she returned, Regina was crying, so the blonde asked desperately, “Baby, what is going on?”

 

“I’m a horrible mother!”

 

“Regina, baby, that’s not true!”

 

Sighing, Emma coddled the child closer to her chest and stopped the baby’s tears. Amelia simply looked up at her in awe, nearly smiling and understanding nothing of the conversation her parents were having.

 

“It is true,” Regina protested.  “I hold her and she cries.  You hold her and she stops.”

 

“You hold her like she’s going to break.  She wants to be held close, to be kept warm by you.  You have to relax.  That’s all there is to it.”

 

“How can you possibly know that when you didn’t even raise Henry?”

 

Ouch, Emma though, but made no rebuttal to the comment.

 

Instead, she simply said, “You can’t be afraid of her.”

 

But Regina was unconvinced.

 

“Look,” Emma tried, “why don’t we get a babysitter and go out tonight?  You could really use a night off-duty.”

 

“I don’t feel like going out, Emma,” the mayor sighed.  “I don’t feel like doing anything.  I’m just too tired, and I can’t even sleep.  I keep waking up and tossing and turning.”

 

Emma was slightly taken aback by this, surprised that the woman wouldn’t want a night away from the responsibility.

 

“Honey, are you sure?”

 

“Yes, I’m sure!”

 

“Jesus. I’m sorry.  I just-”

 

“Emma, enough! I said no.”

 

“Okay, okay! I was just trying to help.”

 

“Well, don’t.”

 

Emma’s mouth hung slightly open, but she chose not to respond, knowing full well that anything she was about to say would be wholly and unequivocally wrong.  Instead, she stood and left the room, carrying the tiny child in her arms.

Chapter Text

Later that night, when they finally put Amelia to sleep and settled into bed themselves, Emma made another attempt to comfort her wife.

 

“I love you,” she whispered, once her lover had turned out the lights, stroking Regina’s bare shoulder.

 

Regina said nothing.

 

“Honey?” Emma asked, concerned by the silence.

 

“What?” the mayor finally answered.

 

“I said, ‘I love you...’”

 

“I heard you.”

 

Emma’s mouth hung open, but instead of speaking, she rolled away onto her side and faced the wall.

 

“Goodnight,” Emma finally said, after a few more long moments of silence.

 

Again, Regina said nothing.

 

After a while, when she found herself unable to sleep, Emma rolled back over and wrapped an arm around her lover, pulling the woman closer until their bare skin was pressed together.

 

“Baby,” the sheriff whispered in the woman’s ear, then slid her hand up to Regina’s chest, squeezing her breast gently.

 

“Don’t,” Regina snapped, shoving Emma’s hands away.  “I’m not in the mood.”

 

“I’m sorry...”

 

“Yeah.”

 

For the rest of the night, they didn’t touch.  Emma lay awake, anxious and confused by her wife’s behavior, until she heard the baby crying. When Regina groaned and it became clear that she had no intention of getting up, Emma climbed out of the bed and went into the other room, cuddling the girl to her chest until she fell asleep. At first, she stood in the doorway of her bedroom, watching as Regina slept (or so she thought). In reality, the woman was just as awake, gripped tightly by intense insomnia.  The more Emma considered her options, the less she found herself inclined to stay in the bedroom.  Instead, she returned to the nursery where she sat down in the large wooden rocking chair and leaned her head back, eyes shut, until she finally fell asleep.

 

The obnoxious alarm on her phone woke her and the baby instantly, causing the little girl to cry, and Emma cursed herself for leaving it on.

 

“I’m sorry, baby girl,” she whispered, lifting her daughter into her arms to soothe her.

 

She had to hold the tiny girl for twenty minutes, bouncing her gently in her arms, before the baby finally fell back to sleep.

 

Once she was showered and dressed, Emma returned to her bedroom.  Her first instinct was to say goodbye to the sleeping woman, but as she watched Regina sleep, she had second thoughts, and simply grabbed her red jacket out of the closet and left the house without a word. What she saw when she got home that night shocked and horrified her.  When she entered the bedroom, Regina was sitting on the bed with a razor to her wrist, sobbing.

 

Unable to comprehend the situation but acting purely out of adrenaline, Emma jumped toward the bed and snatched the blade away, throwing it across the room, then instantly wrapped her arms around the woman.

 

“Don’t touch me,” Regina wailed, shoving Emma away, but the blonde was not so easily dissuaded.

 

Refusing to release her grip on her lover, she kept her arms wrapped tightly around Regina until the woman’s head fell onto her shoulder and tears soaked Emma’s shirt.

 

What is going on, Regina?” Emma finally asked, tears welling in her own eyes.  “Why are you doing this?”

 

“I’m a horrible mother!” the mayor cried.  “Just horrible.”

 

“You are a wonderful mother, Regina Mills!  Where is this coming from?”

 

“I don’t know,” Regina sobbed, not lifting her head from her lover’s shoulder.

 

“It’s okay, baby,” Emma whispered.  “I’ve got you.”

 

“You’d both be better without me.”

 

“That is not true!  Don’t say that!”

 

“It is true.”

 

By that point, Emma was fully in tears.

 

“Please don’t leave me,” she said softly, kissing the top of her lover’s head.  “Please.”

 

“I... I’m... Emma...”

 

The blonde just tightened the embrace and attempted to stop crying, wanting to be strong for her wife but unable to contain her fear and desperation.  Regina, exhausted, melted into Emma’s arms and fell asleep shortly after the tears had finally stopped.

Chapter Text

“Are you sure you don’t want me to call out?” Emma asked the next morning after feeding Amelia. “It’s really okay.”

 

“No, it’s fine.”

 

“Are you sure?  I’m so worried about you.”

 

“I’ll be okay.”

 

“I don’t believe you, but I’ll be home soon.  My shift is only a few hours today, so I’ll be back in no time.”

 

Regina nodded and allowed Emma to kiss her lips before she left for work.

 


 

 

“Emma,” Regina sobbed into the phone.  “I need you.”

 

“What’s going on, baby?” Emma asked, instantly ready to bolt out of the station and return home, half way through her shift.

 

“Emma, I’m seeing things.”

 

“You’re what?

 

“I’m... things, Emma...  I don’t know how to explain it.  I’m scared.”

 

“I’m coming home.”

 

This time, when Emma walked in the door, there was no razor, but there were tears.

 

“Come here,” Emma said tenderly, pulling the woman into her arms.  After she let her wife cry for a while and the tears finally began to slow to a stop, the sheriff said slowly, “You need to see a doctor, Regina.”

 

“Fuck you,” Regina snapped, immediately jerking out of the embrace.

 

“You’re hallucinating. You’re confused. You’re depressed. You tried to hurt yourself. You’re having severe mood swings. You’re withdrawn. You’re irritable. You’re fatigued. You have no interest in sex. You hardly hold Amelia. You need help, Regina.”

 

“I’m not crazy!” the woman screamed, shoving Emma hard enough to bruise her shoulders. “Get the fuck away from me!”

 

“Regina!” Emma cried, grabbing her lover’s hands.  “Please, calm down, and just trust me.”

 

“I’m not crazy!”

 

“I never said you were crazy.  I just...”

 

“You just what Emma?”

 

“I’m scared. Even you’re scared.”

 

To this, Regina could not object.  She knew it was the truth. She’d said it herself. Perhaps her wife was right.

 

“Please, let me take you to the doctor,” the sheriff begged.  “Please.”

 

When her breathing slowed at last, Regina responded, “Fine,” and turned away.

 

“Don’t be upset. Let me hold you.”

 

The brunette sighed, but allowed her lover to wrap her arms around her in a warm hug. She even relaxed against her, breathing deeply.

 

“There,” Emma said, giving a slight sigh of relief.  “That’s better, isn’t it?  Now, why don’t you take a little nap while I call the doctor?”

 

“I can’t sleep, Emma. It takes me forever to fall asleep, and then I pass out for twenty minutes and wake up again. I’m so exhausted. I can’t... I’m...”

 

“It’s okay, baby. I’m right here.”

 

“Please don’t leave me,” Regina said, her eyes welling with tears once more.

 

“Don’t cry, honey. I’m not gonna leave you. Not ever.  You’re my darling.  My queen. My baby girl.  The mother of my two beautiful children.  I could never let you go.”

 

“I don’t ever want to be without you.”

 

“You won’t have to be. I promise.”

 


 

 

The doctor was unable to see them until two days later, and during those days, the hallucinations became more frequent and more severe.  Soon, the woman began having delusions and falling into spells of confusion and disorientation.  Terrified, Emma called out of work for the rest of the week and refused to leave her lover’s side.

 

When they finally did get in to see the doctor, the news was difficult to hear.

 

“Mrs. Mills,” the doctor began, “I’m afraid I have to diagnose you with postpartum psychosis.”

 

“Will it get better?” Emma asked anxiously.  “Can it be treated?”

 

“Absolutely. With a combination of antidepressants and psychotherapy, I believe your wife will be just fine. It may take some time to adjust to the medication, so I suggest you continue to take time off from work. She shouldn’t be alone until she becomes stable.”

 

Regina was crying, but was comforted by the protective arm of her lover that was wrapped around her shoulders.

 

When the doctor stepped out of the room, the woman looked at Emma with shimmering tears in her eyes.

 

“I don’t want to be on meds, Emma,” she said.

 

Emma simply shook her head.

 

“I spent years drowning in my own depression without health care or any kind of support or counseling when I was young.  Do you have any idea how badly I wished I could have had that?”

 

Regina shook her head, saying, “No.  I suppose I wouldn’t understand that.  I’m sorry.”

 

“Please just be brave, and do this for Amelia and your family.  We love you and we want you to be healthy, not hurting.”

 

The woman nodded just in time for the doctor to reappear with her prescription in hand. As they left the office, Regina still felt leery about taking the medication, but was encouraged by Emma’s supportive words.

Chapter Text

“How do you feel?” Emma asked her wife cautiously.  “Any different?”

 

“Not really,” Regina muttered softly, watching as the woman beside her held their newborn child, who was cooing softly.

 

The noises caught Emma’s attention, and she smiled at the little girl in her arms as she listened to the happy sounds.  Their eyes met, and Regina sighed slowly as she saw the tenderness in the look they shared.

 

“I still feel so distant,” the brunette added.

 

“You know...” Emma started, after a few moments of silence.  “She looks just like you.”

 

Regina’s eyes widened as she looked down at the child, as if seeing her for the very first time.

 

“You think?”

 

“I do.  She’s beautiful.  I can just see it now.  Her getting ready for her first day of school, her dark brown hair bouncing around her shoulders as Henry holds her hand and walks her to the bus stop.  Then, she looks back at us with a nervous smile, and you just say, ‘Go on, honey.  You’re gonna do great!’”  The blonde sighed and leaned back against the couch as she clutched her daughter a little closer to her chest, then added, “Then we’ll both cry our fucking eyes out, because she’s getting so big, so fast, and it’s too hard to watch, but we’re so damn proud...”

 

“Emma,” Regina scolded her with a slight smile.  “Watch your mouth around the baby.”

 

“Oh, come on.  It’s not like she knows what I’m saying yet.”

 

“Yes, but if her first word is, ‘f-fuck,’ I’m going to assassinate you.”

 

Emma laughed and shook her head, then kissed the little girl’s forehead lovingly before looking back at her wife.

 

“You’re both so fucking beautiful.”

 

Regina shook her head too, looking a little downtrodden, but forced a small smile.

 

“Thanks,” she muttered, barely loud enough for the woman to hear her.

 

Just then, Henry burst into the living room, holding a large plastic toy, exclaiming, “I’m gonna teach her how to play with trucks!”

 

“Oh, Henry,” Regina laughed.  “She’s a little too young for that, don’t you think?”

 

“Yeah, but... but...”

 

“It’s alright, kid,” Emma cut in.  “You can show her your trucks after she naps for a while, alright?  We just fed her, so she’s falling asleep.”

 

The boy sighed and tossed the toy truck onto the arm chair, then sat beside his adoptive mother on the couch.

 

“When do I get to really play with her?”

 

“When she’s older, silly boy,” Regina said plainly.  “When she’s strong enough to hold herself upright and can actually hold a toy in her hands.  Right now, her reflexes aren’t developed enough to be able to support herself or securely hold on to anything.”

 

“Yeah, kid,” the blonde added.  “You know, you were this little once.  Your mom had to hold your head up, ‘cause you couldn’t do it yourself.  You were so tiny that... that...”

 

Emma trailed off, her eyes suddenly filled with what was clearly remorse and sadness, and maybe even the beginning of a few tears.

 

“Mom?” Henry asked, looking over at her.

 

“Huh?  I’m fine.  I just...  I regret so many of my choices, Henry.  I regret missing out on so much of your life.”

 

“Well...” he started.  “You get to raise Amelia now.  And-”

 

“It’s not the same, Henry.  You’re just as important as her, and if I could take it all back, I would.  If I could turn back time and never miss a moment of your life, that’s what I’d do.”

 

“Mom took good care of me,” Henry told her slowly, looking over at the brunette woman beside him.  “I turned out okay.  And you’re here now.  And you’re never gonna leave.  Right, Emma...?”

 

The boy looked concerned, almost pained as he waited for her response.

 

“Of course not!” Emma cried, waking Amelia and causing her to cry, then gently comforted the little girl back to sleep.  “Henry, I would never leave you.”

 

“You don’t drink anymore, right, Ma?” the boy asked.

 

Emma mouth fell slightly open as she looked to her wife, who appeared just as interested in the answer as their son.

 

“No, Henry,” Emma told them both.  “I haven’t had a drink since I got back from rehab.”

 

This brought a bright smile to the boy’s face, and a modest one to Regina’s.

 

“I’m proud of you, Mom.  You’re amazing.”

 

Emma smiled back at him, saying, “Thanks, buddy.  You three are what keep me going every day, and I’m blessed to have you all in my life.”

 

Regina’s gentle smile widened as she kissed her wife’s cheek.

Chapter Text

Over the next few days, though Regina was mostly sullen and withdrawn, Emma saw a slight improvement in her demeanor.

"You're looking well this morning," Emma told her over breakfast. "Brighter today than yesterday."

"Yeah..." Regina replied slowly. "I feel a little different. Less heavy. I... I still feel empty, though. Like I'm failing my kids, you know? Like... Why can't I just show them I love them? But something stops me. Something blocks that affection from coming out. It hurts, but I can't help it. I just feel so... so broken and fucked up."

"Honey," the blonde sighed, wrapping an arm around her wife's shoulders. "This will pass. You just have to stick with it and keep taking the meds, alright? Have faith. We'll get through this. Together."

Regina sighed too, saying, "It's getting better, yeah, but I feel like it'll never fully go away. Like I'll never be what I used to. Like I'll never be able to fully love my children."

"Regina. You have more love in your heart for your children than anyone I've ever met, and I know that you care for them. Henry knows that, and Amelia will know that too. You can't blame yourself for being sick."

"I do, though, Emma. I do blame myself. How could I let this happen?"

"You didn't. It happened, but it wasn't your fault. You did nothing to cause this."

"Yes, but-"

"Regina. This isn't like my alcoholism, where it was my poor choices that caused my problem. This happened to you without any warning, without any provocation. You're a victim of your own biological chemistry, that's all. You own no blame for what's happened to you."

"Emma... I'm still... I'm still seeing things. Especially when I'm alone. I keep thinking... feeling like something bad is going to happen."

"I'm not gonna let anything happen to you, or our family, Regina. I'm going to be right here until you get better, and after that. Always. I will always be here to protect you."

This brought tears to the brunette's eyes, but she wiped them away quickly and turned her face away. Emma turned her face though and kissed her cheek slowly, letting her lips linger, pressed against the soft skin there.

"Emma," Regina breathed. "I'm so sorry."

"Honey!" Emma cried, quickly pulling away. "Don't say that! You've done nothing wrong!"

"I'm pulling our family apart! This is all my fault! You've had to take time off from your job, and-"

"Regina, no. I want to be with you. I want to take care of you. I don't care about my fucking job."

"You do, though. You love your job, and we both know that. I'm holding you back, and-"

"You're not holding me back! I want to be here for you! You mean the world to me..."

The two stared at each other for a few long moments, then Regina finally replied, "I think I need to go back to work."

"It's too soon, Regina. You can't. Not until you start feeling better."

"But I think it'll be good for me."

"Not if you're seeing things!"

Regina looked away, hiding her face in her hands as she started to cry.

"Oh, honey," Emma whispered, wrapping both arms around her lover this time. "You'll get better soon, and you'll be back at work before you know it."

"How do you know that, though? What makes you so sure?"

"Because I trust your doctors. I trust you to be strong enough to get through this, with some help. I know you'll pull through it. I just know you will."

The brunette sighed and continued to avert her eyes, then finally stood up and rinsed her coffee cup, putting it in the sink to be washed when she was done.

"I love you, Regina," Emma said. "I love your strength, your passion, and your determination."

"What, my determination to destroy your parents' happiness? My determination to steal my son back from you, when all you were trying to do was love and protect him? My passion for hurting people? For hurting you?"

"Regina!" the blonde cried, standing up and stepping closer to her wife. "You didn't try to hurt me."

"Oh, yes, I did. Maybe you've never said anything about it, but that night that I-"

"Mom?" Henry asked, appearing in the doorway to the kitchen. "You guys okay?"

"Yeah, Henry..." Emma assured him slowly. "We're okay."

Chapter Text

Later that night, after a quick run to the grocery store, Emma returned to find Amelia sleeping soundly in her crib, Henry reading alone in his room, and her wife sitting, crying on their bed.

"Baby, what's-"

"We need to talk about this."

"Talk about what?" Emma asked anxiously, sitting beside the brunette and touching her shoulder.

But Regina pushed her away, shouting, "Talk about my fuck-ups! Talk about the way I fucking abused you!"

"Regina, that was ages ago. That's all in the past now. And you didn't abuse me. We just-"

"Don't. Emma, don't fucking lie to me. I know you remember that night."

"What night?" Emma asked dumbly, trying to touch her wife once more but being pushed away again.

"The night I fucking told you I wanted a divorce, Emma! Don't play fucking stupid like you've magically forgotten! I know it tore you up. I know I fucking broke you. I fucking-"

"No, Regina. I was hurt, yes, but-"

"EMMA!" Regina screamed, then lowered her voice and hissed, "I fucking raped you!"

The blonde stared, dumbfounded, but couldn't stop her eyes from flooding with tears.

"That's not... That's not what happened. We were-"

"You tried to stop me, and I forced myself on you. I was fucking cruel, Emma. Evil," Regina said. "I've always been evil."

"You are not evil! Your heart is-"

"CORRUPT. Black. Loveless. DESTROYED."

"No!"

"Yes, Emma. You need to fucking face reality. I fucking raped you."

Regina's wife could hold back the tears no longer, and she burst into sobs, then got off the bed and stormed to the other side of the room, where she slammed both fists down on the glass desk.

"I don't care!" she screamed, crashing her fists into the glass once more.

It was too thick to break, and it absorbed most of the sound, but Regina could sense the woman's rage, even from the other side of the room. She could hear it in her voice. The pain. The desperation.

"Emma, I'm so sorry," Regina said, crying through the words.

"I don't care," Emma repeated, this time in a whisper. "I fucking love you, and I don't care what you did to me. I love you. If I could change it all, I wouldn't."

"What the fuck are you talking about?"

"Maybe you did want to hurt me. But you regret it, and I think... I believe that you do love me. That you wanted - and still want - this child with me. That you want to keep our family together, and not just for the sake of the kids. I think that if you really didn't care, you'd have taken Henry from me and stayed gone. That you never would have had another child with me. That you wouldn't be crying right now."

"I do love you," Regina sobbed. "I love you so much, and I am so, so sorry for everything. Even if you're not."

"I'm not," Emma assured her, wiping the tears from her eyes. "I'm crying because I hate seeing you so upset. It breaks me to hear you cry. All I want to do is take away your pain and help you heal from all this."

"I just want to get better. For you. For Henry. For Amelia. I want to be a good mother to our kids, and I want to be a good wife to you."

"You are an amazing wife, and an even more amazing mother. You show love more deeply than anyone I know. I treasure you, Mrs. Mills, and everything you are. Even your struggles."

"Struggles," Regina laughed through the tears. "That's putting it lightly."

"Regina," Emma sighed. "This is just a difficult phase you're going through. It will pass. I promise we'll get through this."

"I don't want you to leave me, but I'm so ashamed of what I've done. I was so scared to face it, but I just couldn't keep it in anymore. It's been boiling over in me for a long, long time. Since I had Amelia, it's been at the front of my mind. I was terrified that if I brought it up... if I reopened that wound... that you'd relive it all over again, and that you'd leave."

"I will never leave you."

"Emma..."

"Yeah, baby?" the blonde asked, sitting back down beside her wife as she wiped away the woman's tears.

"I'm so sorry about Spot."

"What?"

"The dog. The dog I made you get rid of. I'm so sorry. To you and to Henry. I know how much it meant to you, and I completely ruined it. I know you were crushed and I'm so sorry."

"I'm surprised you even remember that."

"It hurts me more than you know. Knowing how much I've hurt you breaks my heart every day. It's such a heavy weight to live with..."

"Let that go, Regina. Let go of that weight, and just let me love you."

Chapter Text

Over the next few months, Regina improved. The hallucinations slowly went away, and the delusions disappeared. The medication was working. Her relationship with her wife was stronger than ever. Emma had even gone back to work, and was happy to be supporting her family again. Of course, it made her nervous to leave her wife and children alone when the woman was in such a sensitive state, but she trusted Regina's progress and believed that they could pull through this difficult time.

Amelia grew quickly, and was soon making sounds similar to words (though not quite there yet). Henry spent most of his time reading to her, now that her eyes grew wide every time she heard his voice.

One afternoon, after Emma had returned from work, when she walked quietly up the stairs (just in case anyone in her family was sleeping), she heard a sound that she had never experienced before, and it was heavenly.

Regina was singing a lullaby, softly, but loud enough to be heard from the hallway. As soon as Emma heard it, having reached the top step, she froze, but the sound of the last stair creaking caused Regina to stop and go silent. Emma approached the nursery slowly, with caution, until she reached the doorway and looked in at Regina and her sleeping daughter. The woman was leaned over the crib, her thumb gently stroking the infant's forehead.

"Regina," Emma breathed, completely at a loss for more sophisticated or articulate words.

"I..."

"Babe..."

"Hey, don't. I was just... Let's not talk about it, okay? I know my singing voice is-"

"Beautiful."

"Oh, shut up. You're required by law to say that."

"You shut up. And don't ever stop singing."

Emma sat down in the chair beside Regina and waited, but there was only silence that followed.

"Come on, baby..." Emma whispered. "Please."

Regina shook her head, refusing the woman's request.

"Babe. Please. Please."

"No," the brunette whispered back.

"Please, honey. I just want to hear that sound again..."

Regina bit her lip, looking up at her wife, then finally began to sing again. Instantly, Emma shut her eyes, a huge smile across her lips.

A few minutes later, when Regina stopped again, Emma opened her eyes and looked into's the other woman's.

"I think you're feeling it, 'Gina," she said softly.

"What?"

"The connection, with Amelia. The one you didn't feel a few months ago. I think you're feeling it."

As Regina considered this, a smile spreading across her lips.

"I think you're right. I don't know what happened... I just... suddenly felt the need to be near her, and it just... I just... couldn't help myself, and prayed her ears wouldn't start bleeding from my horrible singing voice."

"Babe," Emma started. "Your singing voice is beautiful."

Regina shook her head, but couldn't wipe the smile from her face.

Finally, she said, "Thank you," and leaned in to kiss the woman's cheek. "I love you."

"I love you too. You should sing to me at bedtime," Emma said, half-joking about the suggestion and half-serious.

"You're not an infant," Regina chastised. "You're a grown woman."

The blonde leaned in, her lips hovering near her lover's.

"A grown woman who loves the sound of your voice. What's so wrong with that?"

"Well... Nothing, I suppose. I just... I'm embarrassed. It's embarrassing. I..."

"You're perfect."

"I love you," the brunette repeated, saying it sweetly, in a tone that made her wife melt from the inside out.

"I love you too, baby."

The two embraced, kissed, then both looked over to the crib where their daughter was sleeping soundly, a small smile curling her little lips.

"She's just as perfect as you, Mama," Emma whispered. "So, so beautiful."

"I'm not perfect," the former mayor countered. "Or beautiful."

"You certainly are both, my dear. Nothing you can say could convince me otherwise."

"I adore you," Regina sighed, staring deeply into her lover's eyes, until the woman kissed her again, this time slower and more tenderly.

"We should... We should... Uh... Take a nap," Emma said suddenly, pulling away.

"What...?"

"You know... In the bed..."

Regina, suddenly realizing the real suggestion, raised an eyebrow.

"Come on, babe..." the blonde said slowly. "Don't you wanna?"

"I..."

"Mia's asleep. Henry's reading quietly in his room. Let's just... Let's just have some us time."

"Us time, huh?" the woman asked, her voice now low and seductive.

"Yeah..."

"Alright. Let's go."

So Regina stood up and took Emma's hand, tugging her gently along into their bedroom. Once there, she closed and locked the door (just in case Henry got bored of reading), then laid down on the bed.

"I hate my body," the brunette said suddenly as Emma straddled her hips and began to slide her wife's shirt up over her head.

"Baby, why?" Emma asked, concerned by the statement.

"Because. I have stretch marks, and-"

"Don't be ridiculous. So do I. Your body is perfect."

Emma slid the shirt up a little further, scooted down between the woman's legs, and kissed her stomach and over and over, until Regina was drawing quick, heavy breaths.

"Em," she sighed, almost in a moan as her wife's tongue darted out from behind her lips and slid across her skin. "Make love to me."

Chapter Text

"How do you fucking do that?" Emma breathed, laying naked in her lover's arms.

"Do what?"

"How do you always make me come so fucking hard?"

Regina blushed and smiled, stroking her wife's golden hair.

"Oh, honey... I just try hard. And you do the same for me."

"Yeah?"

"Yeah, babe. Every time."

But before Emma could smile or say anything else, they heard the sound of their son shuffling down the hallway.

"Shit!" Emma cursed, throwing off the covers and reaching for a shirt.

"Em, it's fine. Just get under the covers. We'll tell him we were napping."

Emma hesitated, quickly (and quietly) ran to the door to unlock it, then jumped silently back into the bed, pulling the covers up to her neck to cover her previously exposed breasts.

"Ma?" Henry called out, knocking on the door.

"You can come in, Henry," Emma called out. "We were just... Uh... Napping."

Regina elbowed her in the ribs quickly to scold her for sounded less convincing than she probably should have. When Henry opened the door, he could instantly tell that their shoulders were bare, indicating that they were, indeed, pretty darn naked.

"What were you guys doing?" he asked slyly.

"I told you, kid," Emma snapped. "Napping."

"Yeah, right," Henry laughed, shaking his head. "I'm not stupid. You guys were getting it on. So gross."

They stared at him, completely shocked, as the realization of just how mature he'd gotten hit them both in the guts.

"That's... No we weren't!" Emma cried, looking desperately and guiltily at her wife, who was simply smirking at her.

They both looked back to their son, who had promptly starting laughing.

"Grrrrrrross," he muttered. "Anyway, I was gonna ask when dinner was, but now I've completely lost my appetite. Thanks, guys."

"Henry!" Regina called after him as he turned around.

"What?"

"You'd better be hungry, young man. We're having lasagna tonight, and I know that's your favorite."

"Yeah... Maybe in a few hours, after I get the taste of vomit out of my mouth."

With that, he turned and left the room, shutting the door behind him and leaving his parents completely in shock after what had just happened.

At the dinner table later that night, while Amelia was napping, the three of them were silent, each taking slow bites of their food and filling their mouths to the brim to keep themselves from speaking. Finally, Emma cleared her pallet with a large gulp of wine, and looked at her son.

"You know, sex is completely natural," she told the boy.

"Between married people," Regina added sharply, shooting her wife a glare.

"Yes. Between married people," the blonde conceded, then waited for Henry's response.

The boy looked disgusted, but finally said, 'Yeah, maybe. But that doesn't mean I wanna hear about it from my moms. Gross."

"It's not gross!" Regina snapped, dropping her fork on the table. "Young man, I'll have you know that it's an important part of a healthy relationship!"

"I... really don't care. That doesn't make it less gross."

"Someday," Emma interjected, "you're gonna-"

"EW!" Henry screamed, pushing his plate away. "You guys are so GROSS!"

"Henry!" the brunette cried.

"I'm not eating anymore. You guys make me sick."

As the boy stood up from the table, Emma let out a nervous laugh, which Regina quickly joined her in. Once he was upstairs, they looked at each other.

"Well, that went nicely," Regina said sarcastically.

"Could've been worse," Emma retorted with a shrug.

"Yes, I suppose you're right. Guess we'll be putting off the birds and the bees discussion for a while longer."

"Hey, that's a good thing. I need time to prepare."

"What?"

"You know. Prepare for you to tell him everything."

"Excuse me, Mrs. Mills, but you will absolutely be participating in that conversation!"

"Yeah, right," the woman laughed, shaking her head. "That ain't happening."

"'Ain't' is not a word, Emma, and you are an equal part of parenting him, so I expect you to be an equal part of that difficult conversation!"

"But I don't wanna," Emma whined, pushing her own plate away and stomping her foot lightly on the hard-wood floor.

"Don't scuff my floor!" Regina scolded her, scowling in her direction.

"Yeah, yeah," the blonde mumbled, trying to hide her smirk.

"Excuse me!"

"Sorry," the sheriff muttered. "My bad."

"You bet it's 'your bad.' And if you do that one more time, I'll make a no-shoes-in-the-house rule."

"You already have one of those."

"Then why, pray tell, are you wearing your work boots at the dinner table?!"

Emma blushed and turned her attention back to her plate of lasagna, shoveling a forkful into her mouth.

"Yeah. That's what I thought. Shoes off next time, or I'll magically remove your pinkie toe. And it will be excruciating."

Chapter Text

The days went on like that, filled with the playful banter that had started their relationship. Of course, the conversation of their sexual behaviors was never brought up with their son again, and the boy quickly hurried to his room any time he caught them kissing. This they were perfectly fine with, and Emma was grateful to avoid bringing up the subject again.

Finally, after quite a few weeks of only light-hearted conversations, the tone grew more serious.

"Emma," Regina started. "We need to discuss something important." When the woman's face drained of color, she added, "It's nothing bad! We just need to talk about it."

"Okay..." Emma replied slowly, sitting down on the couch next to her wife. "What's up?"

"I want to go back to work." the brunette confessed. "I think I'm ready."

"Are you sure?"

The blonde was hesitant to support the decision, but willing to listen to Regina's side of the argument.

Regina paused for a moment, considering her answer, then replied, "Yes. I'm sure."

"You're feeling better?"

"Much."

Emma sighed and nodded, saying, "I'm just worried."

"I know, baby, but I need this. I'm going crazy being in the house all day. I need to work. Also, your father is making a complete mess of things and over-spending the budget."

Her wife laughed at this, nodding her head.

"Yeah, I know. This town will do much better with you back in charge."

"Plus, I think you enjoy me in a position of power," Regina teased. "Don't you, Mrs. Mills?"

Emma's mouth watered. She couldn't lie; the way her wife swung her hips with confidence as she sauntered into her office at the town hall made her wet. The confidence that radiated from her when she demanded the sheriff's paperwork caused Emma's muscles to tense in anticipation as she longed for the woman to shove her against the wall of her office, kiss her, then take her right there on her desk.

"I asked you a question," the brunette snapped, poking her lover in the shoulder to regain her attention.

"I... Yeah. Yeah, I do."

The woman smirked and placed a chaste kiss on Emma's lips.

"So, it's settled then. You support this?"

"I support you, Regina, in whatever choices you make. If you really think you need and want to go back to work, then you should. We can get a sitter for Amelia during the week. Maybe Belle would be willing to take some time off from the library to help us out."

"That would be lovely. I think she'd be perfect."

"Me too. She's always been really good with Henry."

"Not to mention, she's got propriety, unlike your... other friends."

"Hey! Knock it off! Ruby's got plenty of propriety."

"She's a dog, Emma. A mut."

"You know what? Stop it. Stop it right now. She's my friend, and if you've got a problem with that..."

"No," Regina said suddenly. "I'm sorry. I just... she frustrates me. You know that."

"Yeah. Still... I hate when you say that shit."

"What shit?" Henry asked, standing in the doorway to the living room.

"Henry!" Regina cried. "Nothing. We were just discussing how your mother - and apparently you as well - need to watch the language."

The woman shot her wife a glare, but Emma ignored it, holding her arms out for her son.

"C'mere, kid. Gimme a hug."

Their son smiled brightly and fell into Emma's arms, embracing her tightly.

"Atta boy. Now, don't you need to get to school?"

He sighed, whining, "Can't I stay home? Just for today?"

"No, sir," Regina cut in quickly. "You are going to school. Now, hurry out there before you miss the bus."

Pouting and saying nothing else, Henry grabbed his backpack and hurried out the door.

"You think he'll ever forgive us for finding us naked when he walked in on us?" Emma asked with a playful smile.

Regina nodded her head, answering, "Maybe when he's older and starts having sex himself."

"Whoa, whoa, whoa!" Emma cried. "That boy is never having sex."

"I don't know. Him and Jefferson's girl are pretty close."

"Don't you say that! There's no way I'm letting him have a girlfriend. At least not until he's thirty-five. I swear I'll bring my shotgun home and-"

"Emma," Regina laughed. "He's gonna grow up eventually. You're gonna have to square with that at some point. And so is Amelia. I wouldn't be surprised if she says her first word soon."

"Yeah," the blonde mused with a smile. "It's about that time, isn't it?"

Regina just nodded again and smiled at her wife.

Chapter Text

So Regina returned to work and straightened out the mess that Emma's father had mostly been responsible for, and for once, the town was grateful to her for her services. The woman came home stressed and tired, but fulfilled by the work and happy to see her family.

Emma, proud of her wife, brought home flowers one night to celebrate the fact that the town had made up their deficit in the budget and gotten back on track, thanks to Regina's practiced skills as the mayor of Storybrooke.

When she received them, Emma was surprised at the woman's reaction. Regina began to cry - silently at first, but quickly the emotions became more intense, to the point where she needed to sit down on the couch to steady herself.

"Babe, what's the matter?" Emma asked, anxious that she'd done something wrong.

Did I buy the wrong flowers? she wondered. But why would she cry about that?

"I... I..."

"Did something happen at work, honey?"

"N-No, I just... I just love you so much," the brunette cried, grabbing the pillow beside her on the couch and clutching it to her chest.

"Regina, seriously... What's the matter? They're just flowers, and I-"

"I love you so much!"

"'Gina, baby... Calm down. It's alright. I love you too! Very, very much. And I just wanted to make you smile... I didn't think you'd cry..."

"I'm sorry, I just..."

"It's fine, darling," Emma whispered, gently cupping her lover's face and pressing their lips together in a tender kiss.

But Regina didn't stop crying. Instead, the episode went on for another twenty minutes.

Emma, finally fully exasperated, asked, "Honey, what can I do for you? How can I make you feel better?"

"I'm starving," Regina sobbed.

Emma's eyes widened, but she instantly stood up and got off the couch.

"I'll cook, okay? Right now. What do you want?"

"Granny's pancakes"

"Oh, my God... Are you serious...? Now...?" the blonde asked, dumbfounded by the response.

"Emma, please. need them."

"Babe, are you sure you're not pregnant again?"

Emma tried not to laugh, but her smirk was quickly sobered by her wife's intense glare.

"Emma. Now."

"Okay, okay! I'm going. I'll be back in twenty minutes."

Twenty minutes later, when she returned with a to-go box full of pancakes, she was more than surprised to find her wife in a fitful sleep on the couch. She watched for a short moment as the woman began to toss and turn, then shook her shoulder to wake her.

"Babe? I brought you pancakes..."

"Not hungry," the woman groaned, rolling over to face the back of the couch and refusing to open her eyes.

"What the...?"

"I'll eat 'em, Mom!" Henry cried, rushing out from the kitchen.

"Henry, these are for your mother," Emma explained to the boy. "I'll make you something else."

"Not hungry," Regina repeated, her face contorting into a troubled scowl.

"Okay, babe... If you're sure..."

When Regina said nothing else, Emma handed the to-go box to her son and made her way upstairs to check on their daughter.

Amelia, almost one year old, was sleeping soundly, as was usually the case that late in the evening. She stirred when she heard Emma, though, and slowly opened her eyes.

"Mmm... Mmmm..."

"Oh, my God..." Emma breathed. "Yes, honey. Say it! Say 'mama.'"

"Mmm..."

"Come on, darling. You can do it. Just say 'mama.'" But Amelia went silent, so Emma sighed and lifted the little girl into her arms, cooing, "It's time, baby. Soon, right? Yeah. Soon."

As quickly as she'd woken up, her daughter fell back asleep in her arms, and didn't wake when Emma laid her gently back into the crib.

Back downstairs, Regina was also sleeping, and Henry watched her closely as he sat in the arm chair eating his pancakes right out of the take-out container, instead of on a plate.

"You better not let your mom see you doing that," Emma scolded him quietly. "She'll kick your butt."

"Hey, less dishes to do, right?"

Emma laughed softly and walked over to him, kissing his forehead.

When he finished the contents of the container, Emma said, "Alright, kiddo. Time for bed."

He whined, but ended up marching up the stairs to the bathroom anyway. After she'd made sure the boy had brushed his teeth, Emma tucked him in and kissed his forehead.

"Goodnight, kiddo," she said softly, a loving smile spread over her lips. "I love you."

"Love you too, Ma," he said, then rolled over to face the wall.

Next, Emma carried her sleeping wife upstairs to the bedroom, tucked her in, and watched her for a while as she slept, until the blonde's head, heavy from fatigue, lowered to her lover's shoulder, and she fell asleep herself.

Chapter Text

Emma only woke once to the sound of their daughter crying, and the blonde was the one to get up to calm her.

In the morning, Regina woke with a start and pushed her lover away, startled by the woman's quiet snoring.

"Whoa, whoa!" Emma cried, obviously woken by the shove. "What's the matter? What happened?"

"N-Nothing... I'm sorry. I just... I was having a nightmare, and I got a little freaked out. I didn't mean to hurt you."

"You didn't hurt me, hun. You just scared me a little. Are you alright?"

"Yeah, I'm... I'm okay."

Regina wiped the sweat from her brow and looked around the room.

"Did Amelia wake up last night?" she asked, her brow furrowing with concern. "I didn't hear her."

"Yeah, she woke up once, but I took care of it."

"But I didn't wake up! What if I was alone? What if-"

"Baby, don't worry about that. I'm sure you'd wake up."

"But I didn't! I didn't wake up last night!"

"I think you were just overtired. You seemed a little... emotional, last night."

"What the hell does that mean?"

"Well, you kinda freaked out about pancakes, and then when I brought them home, you didn't want them and just sorta passed back out on the couch."

"What?"

"You don't remember that...?"

"I... Well... No..."

Emma's eyes widened as she looked at her wife.

"Don't look at me like that!" Regina snapped. "I'm not-"

"Honey, I didn't say anything. I'm sure you were just having a rough night. It's fine. I'm just worried about you is all."

"I'm fine," the woman retorted. "I'm great. Just tired, I guess."

"Yeah. You've been doing a lot better, but you've been working a lot. I'm sure you were just tired."

The brunette nodded and looked away, gazing out the window as the sunlight streamed in.

"It's nice out today," she commented. "We should take the kids to the park."

"That's a great idea, hun! When do you wanna leave?"

"I'm gonna get in the shower and clean up, and then we can go as soon as you're ready."

"I need a shower too..."

Emma looked her wife, her eyes flashing with what Regina could obviously see was desire.

"Oh, no you don't," the woman laughed. "You can wait your turn."

"Oh, come on, babe... Just a little fun?"

"Not right now. Besides, I'm sure Mia's going to wake up soon, and we should feed her."

"You mean should feed her," Emma grumbled, sliding out of the bed and leaving the room.

Down the hallway, as soon as Emma stepped into the little girl's room, her daughter woke up and started to cry.

"It's okay, baby," the blonde whispered, lifting her into her arms and holding her close. "I'm right here, and it's breakfast time."

By the time she was done feeding her daughter, who was almost a toddler, the girl had fallen back asleep and Regina was done in the shower.

"Too bad you missed out," Regina teased, flashing her wife a knowing smirk.

Emma scowled and pushed gently past her, into the bathroom, and stripped herself of her clothes, making sure to leave the door wide open so her lover could see. Before she turned the water on for her shower, she looked over her shoulder to see her wife staring. More than satisfied by this, Emma shut the door quickly and hopped into the shower, letting the cold water pour over her as she tried to cool her hormones.

Once she was out, she opened the door again, taking her time while she dressed as she noticed the brunette staring again. She couldn't help but smirk as she slid her panties on, knowing Regina was regretting her choice to shower alone, which was exactly what Emma wanted. Once she was dressed, she went back into their room and placed a chaste kiss on the woman's lips.

"I'll be downstairs with Mia and Henry until you're ready," she said quickly, hurrying down the hallway to collect her daughter and walk downstairs.

Regina, pouting at the woman's brutal teasing, finished dressing and applying her makeup, then joined the rest of her family downstairs in the living room.

"You guys ready?" she asked, gesturing to the door.

Her wife and son nodded, and her daughter made a happy cooing noise, as if she knew where they were going. After putting Amelia in her stroller, the four of them stepped outside and walked down the sidewalk. At first, it was Emma who pushed the stroller, but soon, Regina joined her and placed a hand on the handle, walking beside her wife as Henry led the way. They smiled at each other as they walked, Emma's right hand brushing against Regina's left.

When they finally reached the park, which was several blocks down, they sat at a picnic table and watched as their son ran towards the swings.

Chapter Text

The couple alternated between watching their daughter smile at them brightly and watching their son swing back at forth.

After a few minutes of this, Henry let out a "Whoo!" and jumped off the swing, flying several feet in the air before landing roughly on the soft floor of the playground.

"Hey!" Regina shouted. "Be careful!"

The boy just laughed and got back on the swing. Emma laughed too and waved at him as he swung higher and higher.

"Don't encourage him to be reckless!" the brunette scolded her lover sternly, scowling at her. "That wasn't funny!"

"I'm not! It's just funny when you-"

"It's not funny. He's gonna get hurt!"

"Jesus, Regina. Calm down. He's fine. Even if he falls, the ground is soft and he's not even that high up."

"He could twist his ankle and end up in the hospital!" Just as Henry looked prepared to jump off again, Regina yelled, "Don't even think about it! You get off properly or you're not playing on the swings anymore."

He scowled and jumped off anyway, landing roughly once more, then triumphantly smiling at his own defiance.

"Henry!" Regina snapped. "You-"

"That's it," Emma said quickly, standing up and stomping over to him. "We're going home. You deliberately disobeyed your mother, and I'm not going to tolerate that. I don't care if I laughed and it was funny the first time. When your mother tells you not to do something, you listen. Is that clear?"

"Yeah, whatever," he grumbled, stomping his feet and walking off towards the house.

"Hey!" the brunette called after him. "Wait up."

But he didn't slow down, instead staying several yards ahead of them as they followed him home. Once they arrived, he immediately ran up to his room and slammed the door.

"He's definitely going to be a teenager soon," Emma sighed, pushing a hand through her hair.

"Yep," her wife agreed, lifting their daughter out of the stroller and into her arms. "I think it's time to feed her again. She's fussing."

"She was fine at the park. She loved the fresh air and looking around at all the trees."

"Yeah, well babies don't stay content for long, do they?"

"I guess not..."

"Look, why don't you feed her? I've got a headache, and I want to lay down."

Emma hesitated, but took the child from her arms and followed Regina upstairs. Her wife went into the bedroom, shutting the door behind her, and Emma, a little startled by this behavior, went into the nursery. When the girl was finished eating, Emma laid her down for a nap, and she quickly fell asleep.

"Lord help me when you start walking, talking, and sleeping less," Emma said, smiling softly at the little girl in the crib.

She checked in on her wife, who was also sleeping heavily, then went back into the nursery and stayed in the rocking chair for a while, just watching her daughter sleep, until the girl woke up about twenty minutes later.

"Good morning, angel," her mother cooed, lifting the girl into her arms. "How'd you sleep, baby?"

Amelia smiled brightly and reached out to grip Emma's shirt, clenching as tightly as she could in her tiny fists.

"Getting strong, aren't you?"

The small girl giggled and bounced a little as Emma held her up in an almost-standing position.

"So, are you ever gonna talk, little one?"

"Mmm... Baa..."

"Oh, come on, baby... Say it... Say mama," Emma begged, pleading with her eyes.

But the girl went quiet, making no more noises, so her mother decided to make silly faces at her until she was giggling again. Hearing the noise from the hallway, Henry stepped into the room, holding a book in his hands.

"Mom..." he started slowly.

Emma looked up at him and waited for the boy to continue.

"Ma, I'm really sorry. I was a brat earlier. Mom just made me so mad... She was being such a jerk."

"She wasn't being a jerk, Henry. She was trying to keep you safe."

"I was fine! Even you said so."

"You heard that?"

"Yeah. It's not like you were that far away."

The blonde sighed, saying, "I know you were fine. But you should respect her, and you were far from doing that today."

"I know," he sighed, twisting his foot and kicking the rug lightly.

"What's with the book?"

"I thought... I didn't know you were in here, and I just thought I could read to Mia."

"You still can, buddy."

"But you're here, and I stutter when I read, and it's embarrassing."

"I'm not so good at reading out loud either. It's alright. Besides, I wanna see her face light up when she listens to you. Look. She's already smiling and staring at you with those big beautiful eyes!"

Henry smiled back at the little girl, then leaned in to kiss the top of her head.

"She's great," he said slowly. "I love her so much. I just want to be a good big brother for her."

"You are, Henry. You really are. And she adores you. She lights right up every time she hears you."

"I guess that's good."

After a pause as she waited for him to say something else, his mother said, "Why don't you go ahead and read, buddy?"

Nervously, the boy sat down in the seat beside her and opened the book.

Chapter Text

By the time Henry was finished reading the book, the girl had fallen asleep again, and it had been a few hours since the boy's mother had gone into the bedroom to nap, so Emma decided to check in on her.

"Babe?" she asked softly. "You awake?"

The woman groaned and rolled over to face the open window, then noticeably shivered. So Emma approached and grabbed a throw blanket, draping it over her wife and pulling it up to her shoulders.

"How's your headache?" Emma asked softly, kissing the woman's cheek. "Did you take anything for it?"

"Mmm..." she mumbled in response. "Tylenol."

"Feel better?"

"No."

"You wanna cuddle? Think that'll help?"

"No. Piss off."

Emma was taken aback by this, so she slowly backed away from the bed, saying, "Jeez. Alright. Sorry."

The blonde left the room, shutting the door behind her, then went down the hall and knocked on her son's door.

"Hey, Buddy," she called out. "Can I come in?"

"Yep!" he called back.

When Emma opened the door, she found him in his natural habitat: sitting on his bed, reading a book. Now, though, instead of fairytale storybooks, they were novels.

"You're getting so big," Emma sighed. "What am I gonna do with you, huh?"

"Mom, come on! Don't get mushy."

Laughing at this, his mother said, "Sorry. Just blown away by how mature you are. You're gonna be a teenager in a few months."

"Yeah, I know."

"You excited?"

"Yeah, if it means I get to stay up later."

"I think that can be arranged."

"Really?!"

"I'll talk to your mum."

Henry sighed dramatically and protested, "She'll never agree to that. Can't you just overrule her or something?"

Laughing again, Emma replied, "You know I have no authority in this relationship. Your mom's the boss around here."

"Well, that's dumb! You should have an equal say."

The woman thought about this for a few moments, then told him, "Well... I don't really mind. She knows how to run things and keeps us all in line. That's what's important. I don't really know what I'm doing with anything."

"That's not true. You take really good care of us."

Emma smiled, sat down beside the boy on the bed, and kissed his cheek.

"I love you, bud. Thanks for saying that."

"What? It's true."

"I'm glad you see it that way. Anyway, I'll try hard to persuade her. I think I can get her on board, if you behave between now and then. Can you do that?"

He scowled, but answered, "Yeah. I guess so."

"No, come on. I need your promise. Your mom's been a little sensitive lately, and she doesn't need the added stress of you acting up, disrespecting her, and causing a scene. I know you're better than that."

With a nod of his head, he leaned back against the pillows and closed the book, setting it on the nightstand.

"I'm sleepy."

"Alright, kid. Get some rest. I love you."

"Love you too, Mom."

When Emma went back into their bedroom, she found her wife sleeping just as soundly, not even woken by the sound of the door closing, or even the blonde slipping under the covers beside her. This concerned Emma, but she stayed quiet, not wanting to disturb or upset the woman, and placed a slow, gentle kiss on the exposed skin of her neck.

"I love you," she said, in a hushed whisper, then rolled onto her back and shut her eyes.

When she woke up, Regina was gone. She was surprised to find that Amelia had, for the first time in a long time, slept through the entire night.

"Good job, baby girl!" Emma said happily as she checked in on the girl. "Wanna go downstairs and play?"

Mia cooed enthusiastically, a big smile spreading over her face, so Emma lifted her up and carried her down the stairs and into the living room, where the girl's toys were spread out on the carpet. As she was playing with her daughter, her phone buzzed, indicating a that a text message had been received.

'Gina: Make sure the dishes and the laundry are done before I get home.'

Emma raised her eyebrows, but quickly texted back.

'Emma: You got it, babe.'

Luckily, it was her day off, and even if she did have chores to do, she'd still have plenty of time with Amelia, which was really all she really cared about. Also luckily for her, she got those chores done quickly, just in time for her daughter to wake up from a nap. She even managed to clean the bathroom and sweep the kitchen.

Chapter Text

When Henry returned from school, he immediately sat down beside his mother and sister, picking up the tiny girl's rattle and shaking in near her. Mia giggled and reached for the toy, grabbed it, and shook it, squealing when she realized that she could make the noise herself. The boy clapped his hands in excitement and looked over at his mother.

"Did you see that? She did it all by herself."

"I know it! You showed her how."

"I'm gonna show her how to do everything!" he cried enthusiastically. "I'm gonna teach her how to play with trucks, and how to peel oranges, and help her with her homework, and-"

"That's great, buddy," Emma interjected with a smile. "I can tell you're really excited about being a big brother. You're doing a great job. Why don't you go get one of the puppets Belle got her and see if you can use them to tell her one of your stories? I bet she'd love that."

"I don't want her to play with puppets," Henry whined. "I want her to play with trucks."

"I dunno, kiddo... I don't think-"

"I'm gonna go get them!"

So, the boy ran up the stairs and quickly returned with an armful of large plastic trucks and one remote for the battery-powered one. As soon as he sat down in front of his mother and sister, the girl's eyes widened, and she watched him closely as he spread out the toys.

"This one's a Tonka Truck!" he said, holding the red one out to her.

To his (and his mother's) surprise, she reached for it with both hands and tried to hold onto it, but it was a little too large, and fell from her grasp, causing her to burst into tears.

"It's okay, Mia!" Henry said quickly, grabbing her hands and giving them a gentle squeeze. "We'll practice. It's a little heavy for you right now, 'cause it's too big, but soon, you'll be able to hold it all on your own."

Emma smiled at them both, elated with her son's devoted attention to his sister, who had quickly stopped crying, clearly enamored with him. Instead of holding the toy out to her again, he set it down on the rug and moved it back and forth, as though it was driving, and watched his sister stare in awe. Next, he grabbed the remote for his electric car and used the controller to move it forward, then in circles.

The girl's eyes stayed wide as she watched, until Emma finally said, "I should feed her now. She's probably getting hungry, and your mom will be home soon. I don't want her to be fussy when she gets here."

Pouting, Henry collected his toys and went back up to his room to put them away. Almost as soon as she was done feeding her daughter, her wife walked through the front door to find them sitting in the kitchen - Emma in a regular seat and Amelia in a highchair.

"Well, I see you got the dishes done," the woman commented, looking around the room. "What about the laundry?"

"Nice to see you too..."

"Did you do the laundry or not?" Regina snapped, making Emma jump in her seat a little, surprised at the severity of her tone.

"Yeah, Gina. It's done, folded, and put away. The kitchen is swept. The bathroom is clean. Amelia's just been fed and she's ready for bed. You should have seen the way Henry played with her today. He was-"

"Good. I didn't think you'd actually do it."

"What the hell, Regina? Seriously. What's your problem with me right now? I haven't forgotten to do anything you've asked me in months. I've been doing well."

"Yeah, well, once a slob, always a slob."

"Holy shit, Regina. What the fuck is your problem?"

"Watch your mouth around our daughter! I swear, if her first word is the F word, I'll-"

"Fff..." Mia gurgled, smiling up at her parents.

"Oh, my God. Emma Mills, you are going to die."

"Regina, come on. She's not gonna-"

"Fff..."

Color draining from her face, Emma quickly turned to her daughter and said, "Say mama, Amelia. Say mama. Come on, baby... Please say it."

"Mmm... Ma..."

"Yeah, honey! That's it!"

Regina watched the spectacle with wide eyes, but they were both more than surprised at the next noise that came out of the girl's mouth.

"Ttt... Tr..."

"What, baby?" Emma asked. "What do you wanna say?"

'Tttrrr... Tuhh..."

"Go ahead, love. You can do it."

"Tttwuck!"

"OH MY GOD!" Emma screamed, standing up and clapping her hands. "That was so good! Wait till I tell Henry! He's gonna-"

"You are so lucky right now," Regina hissed. "I was going to have your head on a platter."

"Jesus, Regina. Chill out. She said 'truck!' That's awesome! Can't you just be happy about that?"

"Yeah. That's peachy. Just peachy."

Chapter Text

Progressively, over the next few days, Regina grew more irritable, even though Amelia had said a few more words (or at least, part of some words), the most precious of which was, ''Enry," as she gazed up happily into her brother's eyes.

"Wow!" he cried, clapping his hands. "She said my name!"

"Yep! She said 'mama' yesterday, but I think she just did one better! Let's go tell your mom."

"Where'd she go, anyway?"

"She's in her study, working on some paperwork."

"She's never home," Henry whined. "And when she is, she's always in there, doing paperwork. When's she going to spend time with us again? Since she's been back at work, she's been-"

"Henry, your mother works hard to be good at her job. She takes it seriously because she really cares about it."

"Doesn't she care about us too?"

Emma sighed, taking the boy's hands in hers.

"She cares about you very much. I think she's just... stressed out, right now..."

"Well, when is she going to be less stressed out?"

"I don't know, buddy. I don't know."

"And when is she going to stop yelling at you?"

"What...?"

"I heard her last night, and the night before, yelling at you. I couldn't tell what she was saying, but she sounded really angry."

"She wasn't... She... We were just..."

"You don't have to lie to me. You can just tell me what happened."

"I made your mom upset over something stupid that I shouldn't have done, okay? That's all you need to know."

"You're not drinking again, are you?"

"Henry!" Emma cried. "Of course not!"

"I was just asking. Why else would Mom get so mad?"

"That's not something you need to worry about, okay?"

"No. I want to know!"

"That's enough, Henry. Drop it."

"Well, then, when's she going to stop yelling at you?"

"I don't know, Henry," the boy's mother sighed. "When I get my act together, I guess."

Though the offense had been minor - staying late at work without letting her wife know - it didn't feel that way to Emma, given the way Regina had reacted. The woman was furious and gave her almost a thousand reasons why that was completely unacceptable, and told her that she was neglecting her family. But Emma wasn't about to tell this to Henry. The last thing she needed was for him to worry about his parents' relationship. What he needed was to focus on his schoolwork and his sister.

Unfortunately, though, what Emma and her wife soon found out was that Henry was far from focusing on his schoolwork. In fact, his grades had slipped from all A's to mostly C's in English and algebra and one D in science.

Of course, Emma was calm, but Regina was furious, slamming the report card she'd received in the mail down on the kitchen table as she glared at her son.

"What the hell is going on with you?"

"Regina-" Emma cut in quickly, putting her hand on the woman's shoulder, but it was roughly knocked away by her wife's hand.

"This is completely unacceptable. What happened?"

"Mom, I just..." the boy started, cowering in his seat on the other side of the table. "I..."

"No. I want to know exactly what happened here and what your excuse is."

"Regina!" the blonde cried, touching her arm this time and once again being batted away.

"Emma, shut up. I am speaking to my son."

"He's our son," Emma ground out. "And screaming at him isn't going to help anything!"

"Well, maybe it'll improve his grades!" the woman shouted, still glaring at the boy across from her. "Hmm? Now, tell me right now. What's your excuse?"

"I... I don't have one, Mom... It's just hard, and I-"

"I know it's hard," Regina snapped. "But that's no excuse for poor grades. If you needed help, you should have asked your teachers. Or us!"

"But I-"

"Go to your room. We'll continue this conversation later."

"Mom-"

"NOW, Henry."

Emma wanted to go after her son, to grab him and pull him into a hug to show him that she understood and wasn't angry, but before she could follow him up the stairs, Regina roughly grabbed her arm, her nails digging into the skin.

"What the fuck was that?" she snapped. Emma, mouth hanging open, just stared at her, until the woman shouted, "Answer me!"

"He's just a kid, Regina! A few bad grades aren't going to kill him! Or you."

"The fact that you accept this kind of lack of effort is completely unacceptable. But maybe you see yourself in him. Maybe, Emma, your laziness rubbed off on him, and, given that you don't see a problem with it, he's simply stopped trying."

"Excuse me?" Emma gasped. "What the fuck are you talking about?"

"I'm talking about you being a bad influence on our son!"

"If you're so fucking worried about his goddam grades, why don't you take the time to fucking help him?"

Before Emma could say anything further, she felt burning sensation of Regina's open palm across her cheek and knew the red mark she'd just left there would not easily fade. Mouth agape, she stared at her lover, whose eyes were still filled with unsubdued rage. The act clearly hadn't made her feel any better, so Emma turned her cheek slightly as she expected another blow.

Instead, Regina simply said, "Get out. I don't want to look at you."

Chapter Text

Emma turned to leave, and her lover didn't stop her. When she got in her car and pulled out of her driveway, she considered her options. She could call Ruby and receive a lecture on the toxicity of her relationship as well as pity and condolences from Belle, or...

A few moments after she'd made her decision, she arrived at the bar and went inside, her steps slow and hesitant. It hadn't been an easy choice, but it was a quick one, and soon, Emma found herself sitting at the bar.

When the shot of whiskey was placed in front of her, she stared down at it, until the bartender snapped her out of her daze by saying, "You alright, love? Haven't seen you in a while, and you look..."

"Fine," Emma cut in. "I'm fine." She downed the shot without another moment of hesitation, then asked, "Can I get another?"

The man sighed and poured the drink, understanding all too well that Emma shouldn't have been there in the first place, and that there was clearly a deep red mark on her cheek, but willing to look the other way and ignore it in order to keep the business. Knowing he should turn her away but unwilling to do so, he watched her down the second shot and poured her another.

Four more and she was clearly more than plastered.

"Alright," the bartender said, seeing her swaying on the stool. "That's enough."

"No, come on. Don't give me that bullshit. You're not my dad, alright?"

"Go home, Emma. You're drunk."

"You know what?" the woman snapped. "Fuck you."

Standing up, but nearly falling down, Emma slapped a wad of money on the counter, threw her last shot glass at the bartender, and stormed off as it missed, hitting the back wall and shattering into several pieces.

When she got out to her car, she pulled her cell phone from her pocket, drunkenly swiping and touching the screen a few times in an ill-advised attempt to call her wife. The voice she heard on the other end of the line surprised her.

"Em? It's one-thirty in the morning. What's going on?"

"Shit. R-Ruby..." Emma slurred. "I m-meant to call-"

"You're drunk, aren't you?"

The blonde started to cry, lowering her head until it rested on the steering wheel.

"Oh, Emma... Honey, don't cry. It's alright. Where are you?"

"R-Rabbit Hole..."

"I'm coming to get you, alright? You're gonna stay at our place tonight. Just don't move."

Since her friend's apartment was downtown, it only took her a few minutes to pull into the parking lot beside Emma. As soon as Emma's car door opened, she leaned over and expelled the liquor she'd just consumed, the splash of it just barely missing her shoes.

"Ughhh," she groaned, as Ruby wrapped an arm around her, wiped her mouth with her free hand, and helped her into the passenger seat of her car.

"It's gonna be alright, buddy. We're gonna put you to bed, and we'll talk about this in the morning."

Emma, too drunk to protest, leaned back in the seat and shut her eyes, the movement of the car making her even more nauseous. When they arrived at Ruby's apartment, the girl helped her up the stairs and into the guest bedroom, tucking her in gently and setting a large bowl on the nightstand, just in case Emma threw up again (which she did twice more throughout the night).

In the morning, Emma stumbled out into the kitchen, holding her head.

"Shit," she grumbled, shielding her eyes from the sun streaming in through the window and looking at Ruby, who was sitting at the table, reading the newspaper, with a mug of coffee in her hands. "Do you have any Ibuprofen?"

"Already got it for you," Ruby told her, holding out the bottle of pills.

Emma took it, popped two pills, and mumbled, "Got anything stronger?"

"You're hilarious. Don't be an asshat. Sit down and eat something."

"Ughhh," the blonde groaned again. "I don't think I can eat."

"You've gotta get something in your stomach. I made bacon and eggs. It's on the stove. At least have a few bites."

With a sigh, Emma fumbled her way around the kitchen island and over to the stove, where she fixed herself a plate of food, then sat back down beside her friend.

After she'd taken a few bites, Ruby asked, "So, what happened? I thought you were sober."

"I was," the blonde moaned, putting the fork down and holding her head in her hands.

"It's alright," her friend sighed. "It's gonna be okay."

"It's not," Emma whined. "She's gonna divorce me."

"She said that before, too, but she didn't, did she?"

"Well... No... But this is different. I promised to get sober, and now... If she finds out..."

"You have to tell her, Emma. You have to be honest. You can't build a relationship on lies."

"But she'll leave me!" the blonde cried, tears flooding her eyes.

"Emma... It's gonna be alright. People make mistakes, and she'll understand that."

"But..."

"Wait... What happened to your face?" Ruby asked suddenly, reaching out and touching the red spot on the woman's cheek.

"Ouch!" Emma hissed, pulling away, then quickly added, "Nothing."

"Oh, my God," her friend breathed. "Did she fucking hit you?"

Tears now streaming down her cheeks, Emma shook her head.

Chapter Text

"You're fucking lying," Ruby hissed, standing up and moving closer. "Don't fucking lie to me."

"I got in a fight at the bar. It's no big deal..."

"You know what, Emma? You're not the only one with a superpower. You may be able to tell when someone's lying, but I can tell when someone's feeding me bullshit. Tell me the truth."

"I... It was my fault. I provoked her. I-"

"It's never the victim's fault, Emma. You know that."

"But it was! I basically told her she was a bad mother and that it was her fault Henry's grades are slipping and that she did nothing to stop it from happening."

"Yeah? What'd she say first?"

"What?"

"What did she say to provoke you?"

"Nothing!"

"Emma!"

"She said... She said..." Emma tried, but found the words stuck in her throat.

"Tell me."

"She said my laziness rubbed off on Henry and that it was my fault that he stopped trying in school."

"And you still think it's your fault that she hit you?"

"Well, yeah..."

"That's ridiculous!"

"It's not ridiculous! Can we just talk about something else, please?"

"Okay, fine. Let's talk about how you got drunk last night and almost puked on yourself."

"Ruby..."

"Talk to me, babe," the exasperated brunette sighed, frustrated by her inability to reach her friend. "Just talk to me."

"I fucked up, and it was the only way to make myself feel better."

"Can't you do anything else? Read a book? Listen to music?"

"She told me to get out..."

"You could have come over here instead of going to the fucking bar!"

"Look, I'm sorry, okay? I didn't even mean to call you last night. I was drunk, and I meant to call Regina to apologize."

"Well, I'm glad you called me, at least. If she's pissed enough to hit you, she needs time to cool down. I think you should probably stay here a few days." Ruby paused, then added, "I think you should fucking leave her, but I know you won't."

"She's my wife, Ruby. I can't live without her."

"So you'd rather get hit?"

The blonde went silent and looked down at her half-empty plate, sighing heavily.

"I'm sorry."

"I don't want you to be sorry, Em. I want you to do what's best for you, which is leaving the person who fucking abuses you, and I want you to stop drinking."

"She's not abusing me!"

"You know she is. What if she hits Henry next?"

Emma froze and stared at Ruby, her mouth hanging open, then finally breathed, "She would never do that to our son."

"But she'd do it to you?"

"I deserved it! Ruby, stop. You just don't get it."

"Get what, Emma?"

"What it's like to fucking live with me! To be married to me! To be infuriated by me every goddam day of your life."

"Honey, anyone who feels that way about you doesn't deserve you."

After a long period of silence, Emma said, "I think something's wrong with her."

"Well, yeah. Obviously."

"No, I mean... Medically."

"Isn't she taking pills for that?"

"Well, yes, but.. Maybe they stopped working. Maybe-"

"You're making excuses. I think you need to take some time to think about your life and what you're allowing her to do to you. And I think that you should consider the fact that, even though it was ultimately your decision to drink, she's the one who pushed you into it, and always has been."

"You know what?" the blonde snapped, standing up. "Fuck you, Ruby."

"Oh, come on, Emma. Don't-"

"I'm out. I'm not sticking around to listen to you trash my fucking wife. Thanks for letting me stay. Don't call me."

As she turned to rush out the door, Belle appeared in the hallway, looking confused and concerned.

"Emma?" she asked. "What's going on?"

"Regina hit her," Ruby announced, her tone harsh and firm.

"What?!" Belle gasped, touching her friend's shoulder. When Emma turned to face her and the brunette saw the red mark on her cheek, she gaped, "Oh, my God."

"I'm fine," Emma hissed. "Let go."

But instead of moving away, Belle threw her arms around her friend and held her tightly, kissing the cheek that was still pale.

"I love you, Emma," she whispered. "I'm so sorry, honey."

Emma hesitated, considered hugging back, but pulled away and stormed out.

Chapter Text

When Emma pulled back into her own driveway, she found her son sitting on the steps, crying.

Throwing the car door open without hesitation, she rushed over to him and knelt down as she took his hands in hers and looked down at them.

"What's wrong, buddy?" she asked quickly, kissing the backs of his hands.

"Mom... She..."

"What happened? Henry, what happened?"

But Henry's sobs just grew more intense as he fell into his mother's arms, squeezing her tightly and not letting go.

Emma held him close, kissed his cheek, and whispered, "Talk to me, baby boy."

When he pulled away, Emma finally saw it. Her worst fears becoming a reality. The red mark on his cheek was obvious, now that she was looking at his face.

"Oh, my god... Honey, what... what happened?"

"I said something really, really bad," Henry cried, burying his face in her shoulder.

As she rubbed his back, she asked cautiously, "And what did mom do?"

"She slapped me, Ma..." he sobbed. "It really hurt."

"Oh, baby boy... I'm so sorry. I am so, so sorry that I let this happen. I should have... I..."

"It's not your fault, Ma. I was awful, though. Really awful."

"Nothing you could have said could have deserved this. Hitting is never okay. Do you understand that?"

He nodded weakly, still crying, as his mother held him at arm's length and looked into his eyes.

"I'm gonna take you to Auntie Ruby's, okay? Her and Belle are going to take care of you for a little while, and I'm going to... I'm..."

"Don't get mad at Mom!" he yelled. "Please! I don't want you two to fight anymore! I don't want our family to fall apart again."

"Henry, I... I can't let her do this to you. It's not okay. And I can't let this happen ever again. Do you understand?"

"Are you going to take me away from her?"

"I'm... I'm going to... I don't know, honey. I really don't know. For now, though, I want you to stay with your aunts."

"But I want... I want to stay with you," he whined.

"I know, kiddo," his mother said softly, wiping the tears from his eyes with her thumbs. "I know you do. But right now, I need to deal with whatever is going on with your mom, and I need you to be safe. I need you to understand that."

"But what's going to happen now?"

"I think what's going to happen is that I'm going to bring some stuff to Ruby's and stay with you there for a while, with Amelia, until I can figure out what else to do."

"You mean, without Mom?"

"Yeah, buddy. For right now, we're gonna have to be without Mom."

"But, I-"

"I need to do what's best for you and your sister. I love your mom dearly, but you two are my first priority, and I'm not gonna let her hurt you. Do you understand?"

He nodded again, then embraced her as he buried his face in her neck. She held him for a moment, then pulled away to take her cell phone out of her pocket.

"I'm gonna call Aunt Ruby to come pick you up, and I'm gonna wait with you until she gets here, alright?"

"Okay," he sniffled, resting his hands on his knees as he sat back down on the steps.

Ruby was there in less than ten minutes, and as soon as she arrived, Emma kissed the boy's forehead and hurried him into the passenger seat.

"Be good," she said sternly, then turned to look at her friend. "Thanks, Rubes. I'm sorry for what I said earlier."

"It's alright, love. You know I'll always be here for you, no matter what stupid shit you say or do."

With a small, forced smile, Emma tapped the hood of the car, and they pulled out of the driveway.

Cautiously, Emma approached the front door and opened it, then, not finding Regina in the kitchen, living room, or study, made her way up the stairs. First checking the nursery and finding her daughter sleeping soundly, Emma moved back down the hallway toward her bedroom. She opened the door slowly and saw Regina sitting at the desk, leaning on her elbows, and covering her face as she sobbed into her hands.

"Regina," Emma said, announcing her presence.

Choking back sobs, Regina looked up at her, saying, "Emma... I'm so sorry. I-"

"I don't want to hear that right now," the sheriff interjected. "I want to hear why you fucking hit our son."

"He... I..."

"Do go on. I'm dying to hear your pathetic excuse."

"I fucked up, Emma. I fucked up so bad."

"You're goddam right you did."

The brunette broke down into sobs again, this time not bothering to hide her face as the tears poured from her eyes.

"You're going to leave me, aren't you?"

"I promised I would never leave you. But this... I never expected this. I never would have believed that you could hurt our son."

"I'm so sorry!" Regina cried, sobbing harder.

"I honestly don't care if you're sorry. You can't take back the emotional scar you just left on him, and you can't take back the trust you just destroyed."

"I know, but please... Please, just..."

"I don't know what I'm going to do yet, but for right now, I'm taking the kids to Ruby and Belle's until I can figure it out."

"Emma, please don't take them away from me. Please."

"How can I trust you now? How can I trust you with our fucking kids after what you just did to Henry?"

"I... I don't know, Emma. I don't know. Just..."

Chapter Text

When Emma was silent, Regina said, through her tears, "I love you. I'm so sorry."

"Stop fucking saying that!" her wife screamed, grabbing the lamp on the nightstand, tearing the plug from the wall, and smashing it on the floor. "This is too fucking much!"

"I know. I know. I just-"

"I can't fucking trust you anymore. I just can't."

With that, Emma went into the bathroom and leaned over the toilet, violently heaving out the small amount of breakfast she'd eaten. Once she flushed it, she stood in front of the mirror, staring at the red mark on her cheek, then looked down, turned the faucet on, and splashed her face with water. When she opened the medicine cabinet to look for another dose of ibuprofen, what she found made her stomach turn even more forcefully.

"Regina-" Emma called out.

When her wife, still crying, appeared in the doorway, Emma held out the completely full bottle of the woman's medication, tears steaming down her own cheeks now.

"What the fuck is this?" the blonde hissed as her lover took the bottle from her.

"W-What... I..."

"It's fucking full, Regina. From two fucking months ago!"

"I... I thought I was okay... I felt better... I... I didn't realize-"

"I can't fucking believe this! The doctor fucking told you not to go off the medication until you touched base with him at your next appointment, which isn't for another two months!"

"I know... I just... I hated... The side-effects... My sex drive just... I just wanted to-"

"I can't fucking believe this shit!"

"Emma, I'm sorry! If I'd known I was going to-"

"To what, Regina? Hit our fucking kid? Then you would have kept taking them?"

"Yes!" the brunette cried, reaching out for Emma's hands. "I-"

"Don't you fucking touch me," her lover hissed. "You make me sick."

"Emma," Regina sobbed. "Please, forgive me."

"I can't. I honestly just can't."


 

Back at Ruby's apartment, they'd set Henry and Amelia up in the spare room, and Emma sat on the couch between her two friends.

"I don't know what to do," she sighed. "I don't want to take her kids away from her, but I can't... I can't let them get hurt again."

"Well..." Belle started. "You said she stopped taking her meds, right?"

"Yeah..."

"Maybe if she goes back on them, she'll be alright."

"That doesn't matter, Belle!" Ruby cried. "She fucking hit Henry! I don't care if she gets better! That doesn't change what happened!"

"Listen, Ruby, I know you're upset about this, but this isn't about us. It's about-"

"Henry. It's about Henry and Amelia."

Emma nodded, then hung her head in her hands.

"Maybe what's best for Henry and Mia is to have both of their moms healthy," Belle slowly suggested.

At this, the blonde lifted her head and looked at her friend, asking, "You think she can change? You think they could be safe with her?"

"All I know," the brunette told her, "is that she never hurt Henry before or during her pregnancy, or while she was taking her medication, that she's remorseful about it now, and that this all only happened after she stopped taking the pills."

"Belle!" the woman's lover cut in. "That's not an excuse!"

"But it's a logical explanation. The question is, Emma... Can you accept what happened and move on, or is this the last straw for you? If Regina really does get better, could you forgive her?"

"I don't know," Emma sighed, resting her head on Belle's shoulder. "I really don't know."

"I think that's what you need to think about. And Ruby... stop trying to push her one way or the other. This is her decision to make. And we're going to be here to support her and the kids no matter what. Isn't that right?"

"Yeah," Ruby grumbled. "I still hate that bitch, though."

"Ruby!" Belle snapped. "That's enough! You're not helping Emma by acting like this!"

"It's okay, Belle," the blonde said slowly. "She's just trying to take care of me and the kids. I know she loves us both and she just wants us safe and happy. It's hard to hear what she's trying to say, but she's got valid points too. I think it's going to take me a while to decide what to do next, and I think I'm gonna need some space away from her for a while. I don't know how long, but I know it's going to take time."

"And we'll be right here through everything," her friend assured her, kissing her on the cheek and wrapping her arm around her shoulders in a gesture of support.

Ruby did the same, but sighed softly as she shut her eyes and tried to stifle her protests.

Chapter Text

Several days and several missed calls later, Emma finally answered her phone.

"What is it, Regina?"

"I just... I wanted to check on you. And the kids. I wanted to know if you were alright, and I just thought... Maybe... Maybe we could talk?"

"I need time away from you right now, and so do the kids. I'm trying to square with what you've done, alright?"

"But what's next? What happens now?"

"I don't know yet. I haven't decided what I'm going to do."

"Don't take them away from me, Em... Please."

"I don't know if they'll be safe around you, Regina, and I honestly can't trust that you'll go back on the meds and be fine. If I can't be sure that they're not going to get hurt, I can't let you see them."

"Emma, please. I've been taking my pills. I'm already feeling-"

"I don't want to hear it. I'm not ready to talk about this, and I'm not ready to see you. Neither is Henry."

"Alright... Will you just... Will you just tell them I love them? Please?"

"I don't know. I'll think about it."

"Emma, come on. Just let them know I-"

"Bye, Regina."

"Emma, wait!"

But her wife had already hung up the phone.

Back in their aunts' spare bedroom, Henry entertained his sister with stories and toys, telling her all about his trucks and the fairytale characters he was so fond of. When Emma checked in on them, Amelia was cooing happily as her brother leaned over the crib Emma had brought over and gently pinched her cheeks. Before he noticed his mother's presence, he began to make silly, exaggerated faces at her, and she giggled with glee as her eyes locked onto his animated face.

When she heard the sound, Emma laughed too, causing Henry to spin around in surprise.

"Mom! Jeez. Don't sneak up on me like that."

"Sorry," she laughed lightly, stepping closer and leaning down to place a kiss on the top of his head. "You're doing great, bud. Thank you for being so strong. Amelia is going to look up to you very much when she gets bigger."

"I'm not strong. I'm just funny."

"You're both, silly boy," Emma teased, ruffling his hair. "It's time for dinner, though. Come on out, alright?"

He nodded and followed her into the kitchen, where his aunts had made a large, three-course meal and set the table for them to eat. They all sat down, expressed their gratitude for being safe, together, and well-fed, then dug into the meal.

A few hours after dinner, as Emma tucked her son into bed (Amelia had fallen asleep quite a while ago), she looked at him, her face showing just how troubled she was.

Henry noticed and said, "What's the matter, Ma?"

"You're getting too big, too fast, but you're growing into such a wonderful man. And I want you to know that I'm not disappointed about your grades. I want you to try harder, and to ask for help when you need it, but I'm not upset with you."

"Why not?"

"Because it's a learning process. You have to do poorly before you can do your best."

"Is that true?"

"I believe it is."

"I got an A on my last test in algebra..."

"That's great, buddy! That's awesome!"

They high-fived, earning a wide smile from Henry, before Emma leaned in to kiss the boy's forehead.

As soon as he was tucked in and his mother had shut out the light, he called after her, "Mom!"

When Emma turned around, seeing that he looked just as troubled as she had a few moments before, she walked back over and sat down beside him on the bed.

"What's up, kiddo?"

"When can we see Mom again?"

"Oh, Henry," Emma sighed, pushing a hand through her hair. "I really don't know yet. I'm working on it. I just... want to keep you safe."

"I know, but... Mom loves us, right?"

"Of course she does, baby. She always has and always will."

"Then how come she did that?"

"Well... Honey... Your mom's been taking medicine for the illness she got when she had Mia. It helped for a long time - I think you noticed that - but she thought she was better, so she stopped taking it. It's not excuse for what she did, but when she went off the medication, she lost control of her emotions and her behavior. It wasn't your fault."

"Will she get better again?"

"I don't know. I guess that depends on your mom and what she decides to do next."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, if she takes the pills again, and keeps taking them, she might get back to the way she was before."

"But how long will that take?"

"I don't know, buddy. I really don't know. All I know is that she loves you, and she wants to get better. I just don't know if she will."

Chapter Text

Just when Henry looked as though he might accept this answer, he asked, "But if she loves us, won't she do what you did and get better?"

This made Emma freeze as she stared at her son.

"Henry..." she started nervously. "I need to tell you something."

"Mom... Mom, don't... Don't say that you..."

"I made a mistake, Henry. I slipped up and had a few drinks a little while ago. More than a few..."

"But why, Mom? Why did you do that? I thought you were better."

"Now, you know that I told you it would always be a struggle for me. You know that. And I'm very sorry that I disappointed you... but I'm only human. I'm not perfect, Henry, and I never will be. I hope I get to the point where I never drink again. I really do. And I have no intentions of doing it anymore. But someday, I might mess up again, and I need you to understand that it doesn't mean I don't love you. It just means that I'm weak, and imperfect. I'm trying though. I promise you I'm trying."

"You're not weak. You're strong, and you've always taught me how to be strong, and when Amelia grows up, you'll teach her too. I know you can beat this. And I forgive you. I just want... I want to believe that Mom can beat her stuff too."

"Everyone has demons they have to face, Henry. Everyone. But not everyone's demons put your safety in jeopardy. I just don't know if I can take that chance again."

"But I want to see her!" the boy finally cried. "I want to see Mom! And I want you two to stop fighting!"

Emma sighed, exasperated by her son's pleas.

"Not yet. Not until I'm sure you're safe."

"Ma, please!" he begged. "I want to see Mom."

Neither of them had noticed that the one-year-old had woken, but they both turned their heads when the girl managed, "Mmm... Mama."

This brought tears to their mother's eyes, but she wiped them away quickly before Henry could see them. Still, she felt a knot in her throat as she tried to speak.

"I'm sorry, Henry. I just can't risk your safety until I'm sure."

Before he could protest, Emma stood, walked out, and shut the door, leaving her son alone with his sister. Had she known he was going to cry, however, she probably would have stayed, but the boy was so quiet that she didn't hear him, and stayed out in the living room with Belle and Ruby.

"He wants to see her," Emma told them. "Badly."

"I'm sure he does," Belle said, nodding her head.

Ruby, on the other hand, asked, "Why? She fucking hit him! Isn't he scared of her now?"

"She's his mother, Ruby," the blonde sighed. "He loves her."

"That doesn't change what happened, though."

"No. And it also doesn't change how he feels about her. He obviously forgives her, but I think, more than that, he wants to see her to prove to himself that she still loves him too. I think he's desperate to feel that from her again, because he hasn't in a while."

"I think you're probably right," Belle agreed. "But you should be sure before you-"

"I know," Emma cut in. "I know that. I'm working on it. I'm-"

Her phone rang, cutting her off as the ringtone went off.

"It's Regina," she told her friends, looking down at the screen that displayed a picture of her wife's face where the woman smiled brightly at the camera - and Emma, who had taken the photograph. "Do I answer it?"

Ruby shook her head, but Belle nodded, so Emma slid her finger across the screen to answer the call.

"Hey," the blonde said flatly, then waited to hear why the woman was calling.

"Hey. Um... Did you tell them?"

Emma paused, deciding on whether or not to be truthful, then finally answered, "No. I didn't tell them what you said."

"Emma, why? Can't you just-"

"Because I don't want to confuse them. I assured him that you love him, but I didn't tell them that you actually said that."

"But, I-"

"Regina, what do you want?"

"I want you to tell my kids that I love them!"

"Look... Why don't I..."

Emma paused.

"Why don't you what?"

"Why don't I swing by tomorrow?"

"With the kids?"

"No. Alone. Just to talk."

"Can't you just bring them? Just for a little while?"

"No, Regina. Do you want me to come by or not?"

"Yes! Yes. Please come by. I miss you, Emma."

"I gotta go."

With that, Emma hung up the phone and leaned back against the couch, her eyes filling with tears.

Chapter Text

The next day, when Emma pulled into the driveway of 108 Mifflin Street, Regina was waiting on the steps, holding a bouquet of pink and yellow flowers. When Emma approached, she held them out to her wife and tried to force a smile.

"These... These are for me?" Emma asked shyly, looking down at the colorful bouquet.

Regina nodded, saying, "I miss you," but her wife continued to look away. "Do you want to come inside?"

"Yeah," the blonde replied slowly. "I'll come in for a bit. Just to talk."

When Regina sat down on the couch, leaving her wife plenty of space to sit beside her, Emma took the armchair across from her instead.

"So... How... How are you?" the brunette asked. "How are the kids?"

"I'm shitty. They're fine."

"Emma, I-"

"I'm not here for you to apologize. I've heard that enough."

"Then why are you here?"

"I don't know, honestly. For some sick reason, I guess I wanted to make you feel better."

"Me? But why?"

"Because I love you, idiot!" Emma cried. "Because I fucking care about you. Because I know you're hurting and you miss your fucking kids."

"And you."

"It doesn't matter to me if you miss me."

"Then why come alone?"

"I don't know. I just thought... I don't know what I thought. Do you want me to leave?"

"No! Emma, no. Please, don't. Look, can I get you a cup of coffee? Tea? Anything?"

"You know I hate tea," Emma laughed.

"How 'bout a hot chocolate?"

Emma hesitated, then replied, "Yeah. That would be great. Thanks."

Regina returned from the kitchen with a steaming mug of the chocolate beverage, topped with whipped cream and cinnamon, just the way her wife liked it.

"You know me so well," the blonde chucked, her inhibitions fading, taking a sip and getting some of the whipped cream on her upper lip.

Regina licked her own lips, slightly captivated by the display, and leaned in slightly, telling her, "You've... You've got some... Um..."

Emma swiftly raised her hand and wiped her mouth with the back of it.

"I could have gotten that for you," the brunette offered slowly, a blush rising to her cheeks.

"You think I'm going to let you kiss me? After everything that's happened?"

"No! No... Of course not. I just meant... You know..."

Regina raised her hand and showed the woman that she was holding a napkin, then averted her gaze.

"Oh... Uh... Sorry."

"I think you secretly like making a mess and getting it all over yourself," the blonde's wife said softly.

"That's ridic-" Emma started, then cut herself off. "Alright, maybe. I dunno. I just can't help it. It doesn't matter what I eat or drink. It always-"

"Ends up all over you," Regina giggled lightly, forgetting, if only for a moment, the situation they were in.

They were both surprised at the sound, but then it went silent, until Emma finally asked, "Have you been taking your meds?"

"Yes, of course."

"You seem..."

"Yes?"

"Sort of chipper, despite everything."

"You're here."

"What does that mean?"

"You cheer me up. You make me feel better, just by being around."

"That's silly. How can you feel better without your kids?"

"I love you too, Emma. I'm not only in this relationship for them."

"What relationship?" Emma suddenly snapped. "The one where you hit my fucking kid?"

"He's our kid."

"Yeah? You think so?"

"Yes, I think so! You've always said-"

"Yeah, well I don't know anymore. I don't know if anyone who hits their kids is capable of being a mother."

This was all Regina needed to hear to burst into tears, and as the sobs wracked her body, she fell to her knees in front of the couch, covering her face with her hands.

"Emma," she cried. "Emma, I'm-"

"Gina..." Emma said softly as she slowly stepped beside her. "Gina, come on. I..."

"No," the woman said. "You're right. You're absolutely right."

"What?"

"I don't deserve to be a mother. I might be capable now, but I don't deserve it." After a long pause where Emma placed her hand on her wife's shoulder, she said, "I think you should take them and I think you should go."

"What?!"

"You're right. I can't... I'm not... I'm a horrible mother. I don't deserve them, or you."

"You know what?" Emma said, standing up. "I never thought you'd be one to give up on your kids. Then again, I never thought you'd hit them, either."

She left before Regina got another word in, leaving her wife on her knees.

Chapter Text

"She really said that?" Ruby gasped, staring at her friend.

"She really said that. Literally told me to take the kids and go."

"What are you going to do?" Belle asked her, looking concerned.

"I'm... I'm gonna do it."

"What?!" Ruby cried. "Seriously?! You're gonna leave Storybrooke?"

"I'm gonna take Interstate 95 all the way to Boston, and we're gonna start over."

"Emma, are you sure this is-" Belle tried, but Emma cut her off before she could finish.

"If she doesn't want her kids, or me, then I'm gone. Why stay and try to convince her to love us?"

"I don't think it's that she doesn't want or love you. I think it's that she's just not confident in her own parenting skills."

"Yeah, well... If she didn't mean it, she shouldn't have said it, and now it's too late."

"It's not too late. You could give her time to come around. Besides, you don't want to pull Henry out of school this late in the year. He's got friends here."

"Yeah, and so do I."

The three of them looked at each other, taking in the weight of what the blonde was suggesting.

"Then don't leave," Ruby said finally. "Get an apartment here. Stay."

"I can't, Ruby. It's too close to her. It's not fair for them to have to be so near to her but have her not want to see them. It's not a realistic situation."

"But what if she changes her mind?" Belle pressed. "What if-"

"It's too late, Belle. I've made up my mind, based on exactly what she said. We need to start over. I'm going to miss you guys, but... I have to do this. For the kids."

"What about you, though? Is this really what you want?"

"Of course not!" Emma snapped. "You think I want to leave my wife and take my fucking kids away from her?"

"Mom?" Henry said, appearing in the hallway leading away from the living room. "What's going on?"

"Henry... I... I saw your mom today, and..."

"And?!"

"We're leaving Storybrooke, Henry," she told him. "She said... She told me to take you and go."

"What?! No! Mom would never say that! You said she loved me!"

"She does, baby boy... She does. She just..."

"Just what? Why do we have to go?"

"She can't be a mom, honey. She doesn't know how anymore."

"But she... She was always my mom," he protested, starting to cry.

"I know, buddy, but... sometimes people get really sick... and they do things they don't really mean to... and sometimes... sometimes you just can't take those things back."

"But I forgive her!" the boy cried. "I forgive her." Then, he turned to Ruby, pleading, "Auntie Rubes, please don't let her take me away from Mom! Please!"

Ruby, tears in her own eyes, pulled the boy into a tight embrace and kissed the top of his head a few times.

"I'm sorry, buddy," she whispered. "Your mom thinks this is what's best for you."

"Which mom?" he sobbed.

"Both of them, honey. Both of them."

"But I don't wanna go!" Henry screamed, roughly pulling away and stomping his feet. "You can't make me leave! I want my friends! I want my mom!"

"You have your mom, Henry. Emma is your mom. And she's going to take good care of you. And you'll make new friends in Boston, okay? Lots of them."

"Boston?! No! I'm not going! Auntie Belle, PLEASE! Don't let her take me away from you guys!"

"We'll visit, love," Belle promised, also starting to cry. "Whenever we can. We'll come see you and Amelia and meet all your new friends."

"Mia doesn't want to go either! We like it here! We want MOM!"

"I know, big guy, but sometimes doing what's best isn't what's easy. Your mom is just trying to make the right choice by you and your sister."

"But it's not the right choice! It's not!" Then, he turned to his mother, screaming, "You're ruining our family!" then stormed back into the spare bedroom.

"He'll... He'll come around," Ruby tried, wiping the tears from her eyes.

"I don't think so, Rubes," Emma sighed. "I think he's pretty dead-set on staying."

"So, you're not gonna go?"

"No. We are. He's just going to hate me for it."

"But, Em... Think about this. If he-"

"I have thought about this. This is what she wants. This is what she told me to do. This is exactly what she's going to get. I can't let them put them in a situation to be hurt again. This is the last time."

"But, Emma... This is going to hurt for a lifetime," Belle told her. "A bruise hurts for a week."

"Nothing is worth putting my children in danger, Belle. I wasn't sure about taking the chance... I wanted to believe she could get better. But now... after what she's said... I'm not gonna let them stay here just to be rejected by her."

"Maybe you're right," Ruby sighed heavily. "Maybe you should go."

Chapter Text

Sorry, guys. Unfortunately, I'm choosing not to post the rest of this story. I'm getting WAY too much pushback, especially on Fanfiction.net. It's just killing my confidence and I know that some people are still enjoying the story, but overall, the feedback has been VERY negative. So I apologize, but I'm not putting up the rest of it. Thank you to everyone who did read and enjoy. I will continue to work on my other stories and hopefully they will turn out better than this one.