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The orange flames spin and flare; a whirling circle around the open portal. They’re going back to Storybrooke, to the rest of their family.  Emma can’t stay here. She’s been battling horrible morning sickness and is supposed to be taking it easy, and besides, there’s no way of knowing when Henry will be returning to their home in Maine. But it’s so hard to leave him again…and Regina. She wasn’t expecting that, but maybe she should have been. Her heart suddenly feels heavy—making her throat tight and her eyes hot. Hook squeezes her hand as she hesitates; gently tugging her as they walk toward the opening to the other world. Emma turns to look back to her family—her son and his other mother. Regina’s eyes are assuring, but Emma doesn’t miss the hint of sadness in them. This is goodbye, at least for now, and it’s been so long since they haven’t been at each other’s side. Since they haven’t been together as a team, depended on by so many, including and perhaps especially, each other. The woman who was once her enemy, then her co-parent, her partner, her friend.

Emma senses that Regina doesn’t seem as calm as she appears. And she knows Regina as well as she knows herself, and she can feel that Regina’s trying to be okay for her because she has to be. Because at some point, Emma’s family became more than just the three of them and she can’t possibly stay here. But there’s no doubt in her mind that Regina’s stomach is also shifting uneasily and her chest is too tight, making it hard to breathe. Still, Regina smiles—silently encourages—by giving a subtle nod, silently telling Emma she can go—needs to go. She’ll be there with their son. They’ll take care of each other. They’ll all be fine.

It’s enough to comfort Emma and make her smile through the wetness collecting beneath her eyes from the tears that she’s trying to hold back, so they can’t blur her vision. However, it doesn’t stop it from feeling wrong; like their family is separating again. And it’s also impossible for Emma not to see the longing in the brown eyes that hold hers—the longing for something that neither ever spoke of or asked for—for something that felt lost to them a long time ago, but still managed to flicker deep within them and between them despite having no chance at becoming more.

She swallows thickly, casts one last look at them, attempts to smile, feels her heart break.

There’s something about this that feels so final, even though this won’t be the last time they’ll see each other…it can’t be. Emma and Henry have already discussed magic mirror face-timing across realms. And one day, they will all be back in Storybrooke, and Henry might even be bringing a family of his own with him.

And then, she’s hurrying towards the portal with Hook, on her way back to Storybrooke.


Emma loses the baby a few weeks later. She cries and screams until she’s empty and exhausted. Snow finds her curled up on the cool tiles of the bathroom floor. She tenderly pushes Emma’s matted hair out of her face, strokes her back, waits with her until she’s ready to go to the hospital. Hook meets them there. She can immediately see that he’s been drinking and there’s loss etched across every inch of his face.

Emma can’t look at him. She asks him to leave. He slams the door behind him.

There will be a few very bad fights between them during the following weeks—one so explosive, Emma doesn't believe they can’t ever come back from it. But it’s after that, that things become clearer. Whatever had been weighing her down isn't as heavy, and she's able to start seeing things from a perspective she wishes she'd had all along. Coincidentally, the day after their last fight, is also the first time she feels well enough since the miscarriage. She takes a long shower, puts on actual clothes, and makes herself breakfast. By noon, she's heading out the door for the emergency appointment with Archie that she’d booked as soon as she’d woken up. She sits on the leather couch in his office for ten minutes and doesn’t say anything.  Eventually, she lies down.

“Every bit of this happiness…it’s an illusion,” Emma finally admits more to herself than to him. “It was never what I really wanted, I just convinced myself it was.”

“And what do you believe it was that you truly wanted, Emma?” He asks patiently.

 She thinks of Henry between his mothers as they held each other in a group hug. She remembers warm smiles and deep, brown eyes that she so willingly drowned in as they bore into hers. She thinks of laughter—shared and warm. She thinks of promised happy endings, pacts to beat fate, sensations of magic joining together, and family dinners with Regina and Henry that she never wanted to end. She thinks of happiness. Acceptance. Understanding. True family. Unconditional love.

Her chest clenches and her stomach twists.

And she wonders if there ever was anyone else.

If there could ever truly be anyone else.

Because even when she’s a world away, every bit of her reaches out to Regina; looks for her, hopes for her.

There isn’t a moment when she doesn’t miss her; when she doesn’t feel like one of the biggest pieces of herself is missing.

“I miss them,” Emma says lowly, focusing on her pale hands and noticing that they seem thinner. The bands of silver on her ring finger no longer hug it, they're loose and drooping over her skin. She fidgets with them, pushing her diamond upright, so it's back in place. It sparkles but doesn't really catch the light.

“Henry and Regina?”

She nods. “It was never Hook,” she tells him with finality as she stands up. "Sorry, Archie, I have to go," she hurries to excuse herself, swallowing the bile that tries to rise in her throat, and walks out of his office.

That afternoon Emma finds Hook at home. He asks where she’s been, but all she can do is hand him the rings that she’d removed from her finger hours ago. “I’m sorry,” she apologizes sincerely with a rough throat and defeated eyes. Her shoulders feel heavy. “I can’t do this anymore. It’s become toxic,” she offers in explanation as a nagging thought comes to the front of her mind, “Maybe it always was.”

He stares at her tired, dumbfounded. She can see the anger that wants to rise in his eyes, but it doesn’t; there are only exhausted accusation and hurt buried beneath it. “You told me you loved me. You married me.”

“I thought we could be happy.” A tear trickles down her face, slipping over the small, broken smile that barely lifts her lips. “I’m so sorry.”

Emma walks away a few minutes later; leaves Hook to pack his things and vacate their giant, empty house. She takes a walk and finds herself at Mifflin Street. She unlocks the back door of Regina’s house with a specific spell that only she and Regina had known. She goes upstairs, pauses in the doorway to the master bedroom. It smells like Regina; like peace and comfort and safety.

Her eyes close and memories play before them. She watches Regina with care and awe and finds it difficult to tear her eyes away. She’s beautiful; mesmerizing. Emma can’t help but stare. Then, there's a breathless Regina who stares back at her from the town line after she’d risked her life to save Emma’s. She feels amusement and offense at Regina's refusal to die in the Bug. Then, there's the warmth that swirls up from her stomach to coil around her heart, because they'd worked together to force the monster out of town and existence. She remembers how radiant Regina was. How Emma’s breath caught in her throat. How relief washed over both of them. And it makes Emma wonder what may have happened between them if they hadn’t brought Robin back to Storybrooke later that week.

Eventually, she wakes up where she'd drifted off, sprawled across the foot of Regina's bed. The late afternoon sun is streaming in through the windows, and it makes her squint as she stretches, then runs a hand through her hair. She's feeling well-rested for the first time in weeks. She goes to Henry’s room and searches his shelves for one of his books. It's the one he'd always kept on display, since it was his first that he'd written as the author and it held some of his more recent favorite stories. She carries it with her, disappears, and finds herself on the pier overlooking the harbor. She sits on the bench, turning the pages, her eyes skimming over some of the stories that she’d been a part of. Another page is turned, and her eyes immediately fall to the picture of Regina and her in the Wish Realm; she smiles. The two of them are walking along the beach together. Emma's cheeks warm as she remembers the way Regina had teased her, smiled at her. It had all felt so natural and easy. Regina had risked everything to go there to rescue her. She remembers a similar sacrifice she'd made--taking on the darkness to ensure Regina's happiness. She would do it again in a heartbeat. She knows Regina would, too.

She misses her.

Longs for her.

Needs to find her.

Emma tries to get in touch with Henry via magic mirror FaceTime, but it's only worked twice before, and that was close to half a year ago. She tries her powers again now. Concentrates so deeply on contacting her son and his other mother in the distant realm. This time it feels different. Not like the static that wouldn’t allow her to get through like last time, but like there are no mirrors there. She tries for something smaller and settles on trying to communicate through a small shard of glass. It works. It’s clear. The land looks like a tornado has ripped through it. Everything appears deserted. Her stomach sinks and tears prick her eyes. This can’t be.

No, they’re okay. They're still alive.

She forces herself to believe that.

She rushes to Gold’s abandoned shop. It’s been preserved just the way he left it. Technically, only Regina and Snow are allowed inside, but Emma had gone in with both of them at different times. Her eyes roam over the cabinets and shelves, skimming over the countless objects, searching for the globe. She doesn’t see it. She begins to look behind things, while trying not to make a mess or break anything. Defeat tries to stop her a few minutes later, reminding her that if it was there, she would have noticed it by now. Then, a thought strikes her and Emma goes to the back room. Sure enough, she finds it sitting on a table. She uses her magic to get the white clouds within it to swirl, then she’s pricking her finger and ensuring that a drop of her blood splashes onto the surface.

A sob escapes her throat in relief as the globe reveals that Henry is in Seattle, though, a part of her is immediately skeptical, because it doesn't make any sense. Not that anything has actually made sense to her since she’d broken Regina’s curse. That thought is what rekindles the hope and relief in her gut, sending a determined shiver down her spine. Henry is there. Regina has to be, too.

Emma leaves Storybrooke—confident and full of hope. She’s ready to be reunited with two of the people she cares about the most. They’re her family. The first one that she really felt like she belonged to. She drives to New York and daydreams of Regina placing kisses to Henry’s forehead as her own heart swells with love for the both of them. Then, there’s the look she’d shared with Regina over Henry’s head after they'd saved him in Neverland: intense, full, captivating. They’d rescued their son, got him back, and just maybe, that was the first time they'd truly felt like a family. Regina’s eyes had shared so much with her and Emma had given her just as much back. It was so different for them, yet not completely unlike the look Regina had given her months before, after Emma had told her she'd promised Henry she would protect Regina from angry mobs who wanted revenge after the curse had broken. She’d let Emma see how much that meant to her; how much she needed their son. Emma knew the significance of that--understood that she'd been entrusted with a moment of vulnerability. That she'd somehow earned it from the woman who never let her mask slip.

It’s late when Emma finally makes it through airport security and arrives at her gate. They’re already boarding the plane. She catches her flight to Seattle. It takes a few days but she finds Hyperion Heights. It's sketchy, crumbling, and abandoned, except for an older woman who remembers a kind, young man named Henry and offers her some of the hope that had begun to fade. That hope comes at a cost, however. Emma needs to be patient. They will return to her. But not yet.


 It’s before Emma shows up to help her son in the other realm. Regina and Hook are already there, and Henry is playing a harmless game of catch-up. Except he knows Regina too well. First, she says Emma’s fine. She means it…mostly. But apparently, it’s not good enough or convincing enough for their son. What is she supposed to tell him? That they haven’t been spending as much time together? That Emma has been very ill with morning sickness because she’s pregnant with Hook’s child for the second time? That Emma had confided in her a month ago and told her they’d stopped trying a while ago; that Emma wasn’t sure their marriage was even going to last? She can't tell him that. That's for Hook or Emma to reveal, if they wish to. So, she tells him Emma’s fine, because she mostly is, and that’s what Emma wants him to believe.

 

 

All that accomplishes, however, is Henry switching the subject to her. She tells him that she’s fine, too. They’re all fine. Everyone is fine. Except, he doesn’t buy that. Not when even she can hear how unconvincing it sounds. And definitely not after he'd spent years looking suspiciously from one mom to the other, even when he was still shorter than both of them. Innocent eyes, yet curious and always somehow knowing. Not after his graduation trip where Emma had seemed like her old Emma-self that entire trip, and Regina had smiled more brightly and with less pain in her eyes for the whole week. Not after Emma and Regina had shared a bed and were too entangled by the time he woke up for him not to notice or have the heart to disturb them. Not after they’d danced together one night at a tiki bar on a beach, and he’d watched the way they fit together, spun each other, and held each other. Not after so many moments that had caused Henry to gently question Regina a week after they’d gotten back, because Emma had gone back to that blander, lifeless version of herself and Regina’s eyes had ached with so much longing. "Do you have feelings for Emma, Mom?" And Regina hadn’t needed to answer. "You know she loves you too, right?"

Now Henry just studies her, looking for anything that says she’s not fine, so he can call her out on it. Maybe he thinks something would have changed in his moms' relationship by now. She’s not sure how he’d make such an assumption with Hook here, but he always was hopeful. He gets her to break a little, but not about Emma. She admits that she misses him and that things aren’t as fine without him. That stops his questioning but not the concern in his eyes. It becomes even worse once Emma arrives and he finds out she’s pregnant. He's happy for her--for Emma and Hook--but Regina picks up on his confusion; the questions in his eyes and the growing concern for her. He obviously doesn't get his mothers, but he understands the situation, and he offers to Regina that she stay with him. He wants her to. That's all it takes for her to decide that she’s not returning with Emma and Hook to Storybrooke, and is choosing to remain with Henry, instead, hoping to continue her story and start a new chapter.


Henry leaves Roni's bar again. He still doesn’t remember, and Regina knows it needs to stay that way or she loses him. But it’s getting harder and harder for her to bear. Still, she tries to convince herself that she’s fine as she slightly tilts the shot glass in her hand, stirring the liquid inside. She raises it to her lips, tips it into her mouth, and swallows, so that the burn lingers all the way down her throat and heat rises behind her eyes. Then, she breaks down in tears.

It feel so hopeless, now that she has her memories back. They're finally in the same world as the rest of their family, and yet, they're so very far away from home; separated by space and more than a little time. Too much time for Emma or Snow or David to be able to find them. She realizes that they more than likely don't even know they're missing. Her heart sinks with that thought. Especially, after the flood of memories that had come rushing back to her--assaulting, reminding, igniting. They'd brought back things she was trying to suppress: longings for home, desires to communicate with those she misses, a woman that she cared deeply for even when she'd made it impossible for Regina not to be frustrated or exasperated. Wavy blonde hair, an obnoxious red leather jacket, a hideous yellow Bug, and stubbornness, good-heartedness, and charm that could only belong to Emma.

Emma.

The hope that she gave Regina. The unwavering belief in her. The looks that held so much more than they could ever put into words. The overwhelming feeling of their magic coming together—combining and pairing so well. Powerful. Magnetic. Consuming.

She takes another shot and hopes at some point it'll relax her enough to go upstairs to sleep.


Tonight’s been slow again, and the bar is empty after a few regulars had finished their drinks and left Regina a little while ago…or maybe it was more like an hour ago, she realizes as she notices the time on her phone after continuing to peer down at the device in her hand. She shifts slightly on the bar stool she’s sitting on and exhales a tired breath, but doesn’t move to stand up. Instead, she swipes to look at the next picture on the screen. It’s only one of the many that she’s seen over a dozen times in the past sixty minutes, but she still has trouble moving on to the next one. The more she’d looked at them, the more pained her smile had become, eventually fading into the resigned frown that hasn’t lifted in a while. Her heart mirrors it in its heaviness now, too, though it’s still capable of surprising her with the occasional flutter of warmth that some of the images can’t help but spark, no matter how many times she flicks past them.

She knows having these photos is dangerous, though maybe not as risky as using her newly remembered password that had come back with all of her other memories, to log into Mayor Regina Mills’s Facebook account, so she could lurk on teenage Henry’s page. After last night’s visit from Facilier, however, she couldn’t help doing so. He’d shown her the cards—the Swords, the Empress, and the Loversher past, her present, her future—and she’d felt something twist within her as a lump formed in her throat. It made her yearn for her family (with their memories intact) and the happiness that felt so tangible at times, she’d believed she truly did have it all. But those cards had also made her wonder. Because even then, as wonderful as everything was, it had always felt…incomplete. Or maybe not so much incomplete, but like it wasn’t all that it could be. You could have great love in your future. Facilier had told her that and it had stirred something inside of her. Just like the characters on the card: one with dark hair and one with light. The curse had made her forget, but with the rush of her memories returning, came the feelings that nothing could ever seem to fully extinguish. Regina had loved Emma Swan for a long time. Deeply. Steadily. Completely. And too much for her to have risked what they had to make it more; too much to interrupt whatever happiness Emma had found to take a chance. Still, the cards had made her wonder.

She’d ended up saving picture after picture to her phone, after finding one that Henry had posted of the two of them and Emma after they’d both gotten Regina to reluctantly agree to a hike. It was a selfie that the three of them were laughing in, slightly blurred with all of their mouths opened and eyes mostly closed. He’d also posted the one they’d taken after that where their smiles were still happy and wide, but they’d gotten themselves together; each mom leaning in with a hand on his back and posing for the picture. That one was captioned Take Two. After a few moments, Regina had gone back to the candid one; her smile growing, while her eyes burned with a mix of happy and sad tears. Her thumb had traced the image, and then she was saving it before moving on to the next photo in Henry’s With the Moms (Swan-Mills Fam Only) album. Regina had probably saved about thirty photos from that set of pictures alone, before saving at least a dozen from the album titled With the Fam. Her eyes had skimmed over a few others, seeing an album dedicated to Henry’s relationship with his first girlfriend, Violet. It had occurred to Regina that he would be deleting that one in a few weeks, after their amicable break up.

The sound of the door to the bar creaking open catches Regina’s attention at just the right moment to make her finger freeze on the photo of Henry and Emma that she had gotten lost in. Her heart skips a beat and the tiniest flutter of hope stirs in her stomach, before it escapes in a shiver throughout her. Her eyes close, and she calms herself; telling herself that she’s in Hyperion Heights and not Storybrooke. She’s setting herself up for what can only be inevitable disappointment, and she tells herself not to be surprised when her eyes don’t fall on blonde hair, a leather jacket, or a soft smile that has its own unique light when it’s for her. As expected, someone she doesn't recognize--a young woman with curly brown hair--enters, asks if she can use the bathroom, and waits for Regina to give her permission by pointing in the right direction. Once the girl disappears behind the door, Regina deflates. She’s been caught up in old photos all evening, and that, mixed with the visit from Facilier last night, is the only reason Emma appearing at the door had crossed her mind. It’s silly. Ridiculous. Emma’s not in the city of Seattle, let alone in 2017 Hyperion Heights. She knows that.

Yet...

Her brown eyes lift to the door again. She imagines it opening; sees happy surprise on Emma's face as she steps into view. She hears her own voice greeting Emma warmly, and with so much love and heartfelt emotion, that she can’t help but notice the way her lips pull upward, breaking into a wide smile filled with hope, relief, and so much more. She tries so hard to hold on to it...but then, it's shifting into a very real memory. Their first meeting pops into her mind. That night when that whirlwind of a woman had come into her life and turned everything upside down. An awkward Emma, shyly saying hi after Henry’s insensitive introduction. Regina's heart breaks as she recalls Henry’s voice and the way he’d pushed past her. She remembers studying Emma; being struck by Emma. She’d stirred something in Regina—powerful, passionate, heated. She’d brought life and fight back to her. Woken her up.

Regina grunts in bemusement at the memory. Thinks of all that she knows now; how their relationship plays out over time. There's the fire, anger, and questions in Emma’s blazing green eyes as they’d physically fought each other in a closet; Emma demanding Regina admit that all of Henry's theories and fairytales were real. That night when Henry's life and Regina's curse were on the line, and all she cared about was that her son survived, even if it meant working with Emma to save him. Then, there's a stakeout in the Bug after Emma had returned to Storybrooke with a Henry who had lost his memories of the magical town and his family. The way they’d talked that night; Emma trying to be sensitive and understanding, while sharing details of their son’s life with the mother who had missed a year of it and who he didn't yet remember. Forest green eyes had looked at her soft and caring. Never again would she doubt how much Emma had understood and come to know her. Then, she's thinking back to before the curse broke, recalling the woman who had come back to save her in the fire at Town Hall. The fear and doubt that Emma would leave Regina to burn in the stairwell thanks to her broken ankle. She’d discovered how wrong she was that day, and how Emma had stayed true to what she'd said and never left her behind. Ever. She remembers Emma bringing her root beer and kale salad, trying to lift her spirits and give her hope; knowing what she needed and suggesting that Madam Mayor get back in her groove and free the fairies.

Emma’s smile fills her mind. The challenge, the understanding, the acceptance…all of it somehow everything she'd needed.


Soon, one curse breaks. Then, Lucy and Jacinda are ripped away from Henry and sent to the Wish Realm by Dark One Rumpelstiltskin. Regina and Henry do what is necessary to try to save their family, which means they’re leaving 2017 Hyperion Heights almost immediately with Rumple and the Hook from the Wish Realm. Robin and Alice find Snow, Charming, and Zelena, and they all reunite and fight their way through an adventure that saves Henry’s wife and daughter, and convinces Ry he no longer needs to seek revenge and is loved by Regina. It also ends in a lethal sacrifice from Rumple.

A final curse is cast with the help of everyone who loves Regina. They give a piece of themselves for her. In a cloud of violet and gray smoke that swirls, shifts, and uplifts them, they are brought home to Storybrooke.

There’s a bit of a tremor that moves throughout the ground as everything settles and all of the worlds are brought to one, branching out and filling up the magical, hidden, coastal corner of Downeast Maine. As the smoke dissipates and clears, Regina rushes to one of the castle’s balconies, Henry and Lucy close behind her. It worked. They’re home. All of the worlds are together. They are together. Regina closes her eyes but only after they find Storybrooke’s clock tower in the distance. An exhale of relief leaves her and her shoulders fall with it. Now, it’s time to be reunited with the rest of their family and friends. Then, there will be many stories to divulge, explanations to be shared, and decisions to be made, so that everyone can coexist and their lives can move forward.

Unsurprisingly, their arrival has not gone unnoticed. Regina teleports them all to Granny’s and there’s a slight uproar on Main Street. Snow and Charming are there, standing on the steps to the diner, trying to calm everyone down and assuage their concerns. There’s an atmosphere of panic as questions fly loudly from one section of the crowd, then from another.

“Everything is going to be fine,” Snow assures them in a raised voice. “I know Emma, Maleficent, and Lily have gone to investigate, but it was just—”

Her eyes land on Regina and she freezes. She falls silent and her lips part, before she notices that the other woman isn’t alone. Relief washes over her face. Suddenly, she’s rushing through the crowd and laughing with tears in her eyes as she throws her arms around Regina, who envelops her in her own. “You did it,” Snow hugs her so tightly, and all Regina can do is reciprocate the ferocity of it. They may have just seen each other in the Wish Realm, but there wasn't time to stop and have this moment, and she’s missed the woman who has been like a sister to her. Snow manages to bring her even closer as she whispers, “And don’t worry, you’ve come back to the right year. It’s not 2017.”

Regina honestly has no idea how time has righted itself. She doesn’t understand how Snow and Charming are their present selves here, but had just been old versions of themselves in that other land. For once, she finds that she truly doesn’t care, since nothing seems drastically altered in a way she wasn’t expecting. They’re all here and that’s all that matters.

It’s a long moment before they're finally pulling away from each other, a trail of tears left behind on both of their cheeks. “I’m so glad you’re really back,” Snow says with a warm smile, not letting go of Regina’s hands.

“Henry,” David calls, and it almost sounds disbelieving, but his grin widens as he walks over to them, taking in the fact that the rest of his family is home once again. “Regina,” He opens his arms, reaching her first, and hugs her. The crowd has fallen silent behind them, watching the family come together for the first time in so long.

“You didn’t come back. With Emma, I mean. You stayed there,” Snow says to Regina, and it sounds more like an observation but still holds enough understanding that tells Regina she kind of gets it, even if she's missed Regina being in Storybrooke.

“Henry needed me,” Regina replies easily, knowing Snow doesn’t want an explanation but feeling like she deserves one. “I missed him.”

Snow’s smile is warm and knowing, and she gives Regina a small nod of acceptance, because they’re both aware that she doesn’t need Regina to give her more than that. There were other reasons Regina had chosen to leave Storybrooke for a while, but they’re not the two people who need to discuss them.

“You still could have tried to communicate better,” Snow chastises, her eyes leveling at Regina sternly just as she crosses her arms over her chest. “Three years is a long time! I was beginning to worry. Especially, once Emma could never figure out the magic mirror Skype thing again, after the first few times she talked to you, Henry.”

Snow’s eyes travel to the man standing beside Regina, whose eyes are filled with happy tears just like his mother’s and grandmother’s had been, though he does seem a little taken aback by the quick change in her.

“Sorry, Grandma,” he apologizes sincerely. “I’m not sure what happened. I was looking forward to sharing my wedding with you all, but Ma said it was like static and the connection between the mirrors was breaking up.”

Snow shakes her head. “It’s not your fault, Henry. I just wish we’d found another way to keep in touch.”

“Me too,” Henry agrees with a pained smile. "Especially, when all hell started to break loose, as usual."

“I'm just glad we're all here now. You look wonderful,” Snow reaches her arms out to him, before they hug each other for almost a minute. “I’m sorry. I know we saw each other recently, but my memories of the Wish Realm feel like they happened years ago.”

Henry looks at her as curiously as Regina does, but like his mother, he seems to accept whatever’s happened to allow them to be here in the right time. Then, he’s introducing Snow to Lucy and Jacinda and the other Hook.

“You said it's been three years since I left?” Regina questions, her eyes finding David’s, since Snow is focused on meeting the rest of Henry’s family. He nods in reply and she feels the cold shiver creep over her. She knew time passed differently in both worlds, but so many more years had passed for them.

“How many has it been for you?” He asks with a frown.

“Ten. One of them cursed to a different place and time, right before the Wish Realm.”

“Right.”

“Hopefully, that was the last curse,” Regina sighs. “And we should never need magic beans again.”

“No more impossibly long distance separations,” David agrees with an understanding smile.

Snow comes back over to them, her arm still around Lucy. “I think we all need to sit down somewhere and have a very long talk. It seems like there’s a lot to catch up on and figure out.”

Regina exhales and nods her agreement. “You should call Emma back here, too.”

But then there’s a swirl of glowing smoke and there’s no need to call her, because Emma is standing in front of them. Her eyes are wide with disbelief and she sways a little, breathing out a stunned, "Henry." There's only a moment before she’s rushing towards her grown son and burying her face in his shoulder. “I’ve missed you,” she murmurs against it, and Regina feels her heart clench at the audible ache in Emma’s words.

After a few minutes of whispers between them, a couple of watery laughs, and some sniffling that has Regina fighting back tears of her own, Emma’s using the back of her hand to wipe at her wet cheeks. There are emotional introductions as Henry brings his mother over to his family. Emma's eyes are filled with warmth and awe as she moves to hug Lucy, then Jacinda. She pauses in front of the Hook, who she’s only met twice before, but who's remained good friends with Henry. A slow smile pulls at her lips and they greet each other with a nod, until Emma's reaching out and squeezing his upper arm. "I'm glad you and Henry have stuck together all this time," she says genuinely with fondness and gratitude in her words.

"Aye. He's a good man and has been a great friend," Hook echoes her smile. "I found my daughter."

Emma's smile becomes fuller then, widening with the understanding of how significant and wonderful that is. "I'm so happy to hear that," she exclaims, just as she glances over and catches Regina's eyes fixated on her. There's a look shared between them. Her green eyes flick back to Hook and she squeezes his arm again, then excuses herself. Finally, she comes to stand in front of Regina.

Everything seems to stop. Just like it always had.

They stand there, taking the other in; their eyes easily, but hesitantly, finding and searching each other’s. There’s so much between them. So many years missed. So many things that probably should have been said—admitted—long ago. But there’s the fear that’s always been there, too. The worry that they’ll lose this if they push it too far or draw a new line in the sand, where neither is treading it and both are standing together instead.

“Emma,” Regina breathes in a heavy whisper, like she’s been waiting forever to be able to caress the name with her tongue and her lips as it leaves her mouth. She remains frozen, though, unmoving as a hint of a smile begins to warm her lips.

Barely a second passes, before Emma shakes her head with a breathy laugh that’s caught between overjoyed and relieved. Then, the corners of her eyes and mouth are crinkling with the bright, warm smile that blooms across her face. “God, I’ve missed you,” she utters, moving forward and taking Regina into her arms.

Regina lets Emma hold her for a few moments, leaning into her, before her arms slip around Emma, holding her close. They melt into each other, breathing each other in, and taking in every bit of the other woman that they’ve been aching for. Warmth. Comfort. Want. Need. Flutters of hope and promise, that they don’t fully understand how to believe in right then, radiate from one to the other. They know nothing for sure in that moment, except that this is right. It’s real. It’s home.


They sit around Regina’s dining room table for hours. Apparently, even a Cliff’s Notes’s version of their lives over the past ten years is a lot to share, and three years in Storybrooke has its own seemingly endless list of events for them to talk about. It doesn’t help that there’s a Wish Realm that only Emma didn’t experience this time, or that certain revelations come with more than a little shock and a multitude of questions that take more than a little time to answer.

Rumple sacrificed himself? Jacinda’s step-sister was involved in a coven that she killed Henry’s serial-killer-best-friend’s sister for? The Dark One was unleashed…again? Dr. Facilier was in Hyperion Heights? (Snow shocked because of rumors she’d heard of him and the Evil Queen conspiring. Emma uncomfortable because of her knowledge of the animated version of him from The Princess and the Frog mixed with the admittance from Regina that they’d been involved intimately, after Lucy had blurted out a comment about sneaking into his apartment during their secret operation.) Zelena called you earlier from Seattle? She’s happily married to Chad for years now and he was someone who was cursed, too? She wouldn’t say who? But they'll definitely be here next week? Emma, you and Hook got divorced? He left on the Jolly Roger two years ago?

Eventually, they decide that it's getting late and they'll have to continue their catching up the following day. It’s eight-thirty and almost Neal’s bedtime. There’s also way too much to be decided, now that the worlds have come together. Regina and the Charmings will call a meeting of the town council in the afternoon, and then, they'll figure out the best way to bring representatives from each world together, so they can all find a way to keep everything under control until they have a real plan of how this new land of separate worlds is going to work.

Once Snow, David, and Neal have said their goodbyes, Henry leads Jacinda and Lucy upstairs to his old room where Lucy will be sleeping. Emma and Regina stand at the bottom of the winding staircase, smiling up at an excited Lucy, who is tugging her dad up the steps. When they’re halfway up, she glances over the railing and directs an eye roll at Regina, silently asking her grandmother why Henry isn’t in as much of a hurry as she is. Regina decides to empathize with her, shrugging a shoulder and rolling her eyes. It isn’t much longer before the family of three reaches the second floor, however, and soon, they're disappearing into Henry’s childhood room; their voices becoming muffled as the door closes behind them.

“Shall I see if there’s a room for me at the inn or may I spend the night on your couch, Regina?” Hook wonders as he wanders out from the study.

“Don’t be silly,” Regina places a hand on his arm. “Henry and Jacinda are taking the guestroom next to Lucy’s, but the other one across the hall is free.”

“Thank you, Regina.” They smile at each other, and she can see how exhausted he is.

“Go get some sleep,” she nudges him lightly towards the stairs, and he doesn’t even try to protest.

“Yeah, I will. Alice sent me a raven from Wonderland. She was showing Robin around. She said she wants to have breakfast tomorrow. We’ll see you after?”

“I’ll let you know where to meet us,” Regina nods, and she and Emma exchange their final goodnights with him.

“It’s weird having him around,” Emma mutters once Hook has gone upstairs. “The resemblance is so hard to get past. Which sucks, because I really do like him.”

Regina’s curious eyes fall to Emma with the millions of questions that she doesn't know how to begin asking or if it's even her place to.

Emma seems to sense her struggle and why she's conflicted. "Whatever you feel you need to know, want to know," Emma tells her quietly. "I want you to know."

“What happened?" She ultimately wonders, understanding the question is too broad when it causes a frown to settle on Emma's lips as her brow furrows. "You chose him, stuck it out for so long...I thought you were at least somewhat happy?”

Emma shrugs, but then a small, sad smile tugs her lips up a bit. “I convinced myself I was happy. But after we got back...shit happened, and it wasn’t long before I realized he wasn’t the one. I wasn't truly happy with him. I don't think I ever was," she muses, allowing the short beat of silence that settles heavily between them. "I don't know why I couldn't admit that sooner. Especially, when there was someone else who had always helped bring out the best in me and made me happy...gave me happiness.”

“Shit happened?” Regina raises an eyebrow, forcing the words out in spite of the way her heartbeat is skipping along with the breaths that cling to the back of her throat at Emma's words.

Emma replies with a short, breathy laugh, her hands finding the back pockets of her jeans as she shifts her feet. “Maybe we should talk about this somewhere else.”

“Okay,” Regina agrees after a moment, and begins to lead them away from the center of the house.

They walk through the dining room to get to the back door, before Regina guides them out onto the patio. She sucks in a deep breath. The air is cool and refreshing. The chirping of the crickets surrounds them, while the shadowy silhouettes of the trees line the yard, and the crescent moon rises above them in the sea of twinkling stars.

A shiver ripples through Regina, so she tugs her open blazer more tightly around her and crosses her arms. She can feel Emma behind her: waiting, thinking, staring. Another minute passes before Regina slowly allows her gaze to fall from the sky, and turns around to focus on Emma a few feet behind her.

"We can go back inside," Emma offers with a hint of concern in her eyes, having seen Regina shiver.

"No, out here is fine," Regina objects softly. There is a chill to the air but it's not unpleasant. Honestly, she prefers it after being in the warm dining room with everyone for so many hours.

They move to sit side by side on the outdoor sofa, the dark cushions sinking slightly with their weight.

“I lost the baby,” Emma reveals quietly, after the silence between them seems to stretch on for longer than it feels like it should.

“I’m so sorry,” Regina offers, her voice honest and sympathetic. Her hand finds the one that rests on Emma’s knee, sliding over the back of it. There's a tentativeness to the touch at first, but soon, Emma's turning her hand over and their fingers are desperately slipping between each other and connecting them. It's warm, comforting, and somewhat surreal. Neither seems in a hurry to let go or even look away from their joined hands. And it isn't too long before Emma's thumb begins moving along the side of Regina's hand and her breath catches in her throat. Brown eyes follow the caress of Emma's finger as it glides gently over her skin--back and forth. It's magnetic. She can't look away. Everything feels charged. Everything feels right. She can feel the soft exhale Emma lets out just before time starts moving again, and Regina's eyes lift back up to look into the green ones that Emma automatically raises to meet hers.

They look to her with such a mix of wonder and sorrow that every part of Regina aches. She aches for Emma. For the loss of her baby. For the unhappiness, loneliness, and hopelessness that are still evident within her. She aches for the time that was spent too far apart. For the words that were never said. For the feelings that were never revealed.

"I'm sorry," Regina repeats, her fingers tightening around Emma's.

“I guess it just wasn’t meant to be,” Emma offers with a shaky breath, then brushes the waves of her hair behind her ear. “After that happened, I was depressed and angry for a while. Mad at myself. But Whale said it—it wasn't okay from the beginning. Basically, there was nothing I did wrong or could have done to make the pregnancy last.”

Regina squeezes her hand because she knows there isn't anything she can say. She waits for Emma to continue, feeling how she’s searching for her next words.

“Hook was upset. I think he needed someone to blame, and that ended up being me to some degree. He apologized a couple of months later, but by then, we were a week away from signing the divorce papers and we both knew it was over. It probably should have been over long before that.” Emma lifts her eyes from the boot she’s been moving back and forth over the cement to, once again, meet Regina’s. “I realized what I should have admitted to myself a long time ago. Our marriage was broken and I didn’t want to fix it. I think I was hoping that having the baby would have helped us, but really, that was so selfish. We weren’t good for each other. He’d been safe and had been there for me, going through so much with me. He wanted me, you know? So I made myself believe he was who I wanted to be with…could be with. It was easy. Especially, when everyone seemed happy for me and acted like I was getting that happy ending everyone’s always after.”

"Everyone?" Regina can’t help but snort lightly at that, her eyes rolling away from Emma to stare down at her lap. She squeezes Emma’s hand one more time, before releasing it, and then clasps her own together.

"You never said anything. You didn't try to stop it," Emma utters in a small voice.

“I never wanted to ruin your happiness,” Regina tells her honestly; adamantly. “You thought you were happy and I wanted that so badly for you, it caused me to believe that maybe you were.”

“Yeah, I get that,” Emma gives her a faint, knowing smile, telling Regina she really does; that there was a time when she was the one who chose not to get in the way of the happiness that Regina had found.

“I’ve wondered for a long time if I was right in doing that,” she confesses in a hushed voice, looking down to watch her finger slide along the fabric of her black pants.

Emma releases a long breath. “I think we did what we thought was right and necessary at the time.”

“I didn’t want to ruin this," Regina admits, the corner of her mouth twitching upward, her eyes filled with so much emotion. “We were almost everything to each other already—close friends, Henry’s moms, partners. I suppose I felt I didn’t need more than that. I was already happy with what we had, especially our family. And there was—there weren’t many opportunities for us to cross that line without someone getting hurt or it being complicated.”

“No, there weren’t,” Emma agrees, sounding slightly defeated; resigned to their past choices.

“But I think at some point, trying not to want more became harder for me,” Regina confides on a shaky breath. “And then, after Henry left, I was alone. We’d just come back from his graduation trip. It was hard not to…wish you weren’t married. Which sounds so wrong, but it had just been us and Henry, and it was..."

"Everything," Emma finishes in a murmur with a crooked, watery smile that's so tender and holds so much. "It always was."

Warmth floods Regina and it's almost too much for her, but she can't look away from Emma and the way she's looking at her like she's never said anything truer or believed it more. "Emma," Regina whispers, and it's so quiet and cherishing and softly pleading.

"For a while, I thought that I was never going to have the chance to try to fix this," Emma sniffles, her eyes glistening with the tears that are gathering in them. "But now you're here and I'm not messing this up again."

Regina feels her stomach flip and her heart begins to hammer harder. Thoughts of cards depicting lovers fill her mind; predictions that she could have great love, photos that she'd stared at for hours while she longed to be in the captured moments again, and the insane odds that remind her it's a miracle that she and Emma are even living in this moment together right now. It's enough for her to swallow back any fears, and try to suppress the trembles and nerves that want to wrack her body. "I don't want to mess this up either," she admits with an almost non-existent shyness.

Emma finds her hand and takes it into her own. "I want this. You. More than anything," Emma reveals with the truest, most unwavering expression that lights a fire through every part of Regina and has the tears that blur her eyes, falling onto her cheeks.

Regina lifts her other hand to Emma's flushed cheek, the heat from it warming her palm. "I do too," Regina murmurs, staring into Emma's eyes, making sure she sees and knows. Then, she's leaning her head on Emma’s shoulder.

It’s new for them, but it feels so natural and familiar that they both have to wonder if so much time has really passed and how it’s taken that much time to get here in the first place.

“Remember when we moved the damn moon in Neverland?” Emma wonders, her eyes looking out at the yard and the sky above it. She wraps her arm around Regina, pulling her closer, and Regina nestles against her. “Pretty sure if we were my parents that would have ended in a proposal.”

A deep, throaty laugh tumbles from Regina, and Emma holds her tighter. “Good thing we’re not your parents. That engagement would have lasted a few weeks, even if I hadn’t needed to undo Pan’s curse and send you away.”

“I’d like to give us more credit than that at being able to work our problems out, even back then,” Emma defends with a bemused roll of her eyes. “And my point was, we moved the moon.”

“Yes. We’ve accomplished the impossible together many times,” Regina concurs matter-of-factly, but there’s heat swirling from her belly to her chest at the thought. She turns her head more into Emma’s neck, her nose brushing against the smooth material of her black t-shirt. She inhales and Emma floods her senses. Her pulse quickens. “I’ve missed you,” she moves her lips against Emma’s collarbone with the words.

Emma shivers against her, turns her head toward Regina’s. “I tried to find you.”

Regina raises her head, her brows knitting as she seeks out Emma’s gaze. She’s so close.

“It was a few months after we divorced and he left. I tried to contact Henry again and I was successful, but it looked like everything in the other land had been destroyed,” Emma continues, her breath warm, tickling wisps against Regina’s face. “I thought I lost you,” her words catch in her throat and her fingers tighten around Regina’s. “But then, I found that globe Rumple used to get us to Neverland to find Henry. I left Storybrooke and headed to New York. There was a cheap flight to Seattle. By some miracle or magic, I figured out where Hyperion Heights should have been, but it was hidden and mostly run down. There was a woman muttering to herself in an alley. She said I looked like a drawing in a book. Emma Swan from Henry Mills’s unsuccessful debut novel. I asked her if she knew you guys. She said Henry left in 2017. There was a serial killer and lots of strange activities that year. Almost everyone disappeared, including a bartender that sounded a lot like you,” Emma gives a small smirk. “I thought something horrible happened to you, but she assured me you’d be fine. That your story had many pages left, and I just needed to be a little more patient for you and Henry to find your way home. Looks like she was right.”

“You came to find us,” Regina searches her eyes for the truth that she already knows.

“I wanted to be with the rest of my family,” Emma whispers. “I wanted to be with you. I love you so damn much, you have no idea.”

Regina rests her palm against Emma’s face, running a thumb along her cheekbone. "I don't know, I believe I have some idea," she tells her softly, her face serious even with the slightly teasing lilt of her words. "And I love you, too. So damn much." Her lips creep up into a smile as she echoes Emma's words. "I have for so long."

Regina's eyes hold Emma’s intensely. Then, she’s leaning in, grazing her lips over Emma’s in a tentative dance where they barely touch. Her mouth hovers there for a moment, her eyes closing completely, as she finally slides her tingling lips over Emma’s, catching Emma’s top lip between hers. She sucks it gently causing a moan to erupt in Emma’s throat, the hum send vibrations through her lips and to her core. Regina keeps her palm against Emma’s cheek, tilting her head slightly, and moving her lips over Emma’s again. This time Emma responds with more than a moan, her one hand weaving into Regina’s hair, while her lips move with Regina’s. The kisses are gentle, soft, and caressing; many little sparks that build into a hot, blazing fire after Regina opens her mouth and Emma can’t get enough of her. Their chests rise and fall rapidly, and though they’re becoming more and more breathless, Regina lays back against the cushions, pulling Emma with her. Their mouths fuse together again and again, eagerly sliding, sucking, and tasting. Regina’s hands keep their gentle hold on Emma’s face, while Emma’s move against Regina’s sides, her red shirt riding up beneath them. Goosebumps rise up to meet Emma’s hands as they travel back down Regina’s sides. Regina can’t help but lift her body toward Emma’s, reacting to her touch and needing more of her.

“We…we can’t do this here,” Regina pants out after lifting Emma’s mouth away from hers. And without waiting for a response from Emma, she's transporting them in a funneling cloud of purple smoke. Emma gasps as they reappear and find themselves lying on Regina's bed. A tiny smirk meets her surprise. Regina waves a hand, the lock on the door clicking, and then, she’s rolling them over and straddling Emma. Her dark hair frames her face as Regina stares down at the woman beneath her, taking in her flushed cheeks and swollen lips in the dim light of the room.

Emma’s fingers brush Regina’s hair back, tangling in it, just before Regina lowers her head, smiling into a kiss that melts and burns and ignites. Everything seems to stop. They’re there together. Finally. Enamored, entangled, endlessly longing to touch, taste, and explore every part of each other. So much time has passed. Too much time. They come together again and again: tongues teasing and tracing; teeth grazing and nipping; fingers daring to move lower. Regina’s blazer is pushed over her shoulders. Emma’s top is lifted and discarded. Soft, heated skin brushes against soft, heated skin. A thin black bra slides up against the smooth material of Regina’s red shirt; nipples brushing and creating waves of pleasure that leave their bodies in whining moans. Pants get ripped away and thrown across the room. Finally, Emma’s bra is snapped against her back, then Regina unclasps it in frustration before she tosses it over the foot of the bed, and sends her own shirt with it.

Flesh molds together—hot, slick, feverish. They move across the bed; roll from one end to the other. Bare legs slip between each other, knees bend, and thighs come away with wet, sticky streaks. Fingers find their way beneath elastic, running up and down slippery folds that part, so they can dip and curve inside, stroking in and out. Mewls of pleasure spill, breaths are heavy and loud, affectionate words tickle ears in arousing purrs, and whimpers tumble from faces contorted in ecstasy. Toes curl, walls clench, time freezes, waves are ridden out by one of them, and then, she's lifting herself over the other, kissing down toned skin, licking along an edge of red lace, before it’s pulled away. Her head lowers, a warm tongue licks and licks, gliding and swirling, and moving in time with lips that kiss and suck and torment and--Regina throws her head back, nails digging into Emma’s shoulder as she bites down on her other fist.

Emma crawls back up, wipes her chin, and pulls Regina to her. She places an open mouth kiss on fiery skin somewhere between Regina’s neck and shoulder. “God, you’re amazing,” she murmurs, and Regina shifts further into her, her back pressing against Emma’s chest.

“You too,” she smiles and kisses Emma’s arm, snuggling against it.

They lie in silence for a while, content in each other’s arms. They’ve waited so long to have this; to be this with each other. And neither is taking any second of it for granted.

It's not much longer before Regina tilts her head back to kiss Emma over her shoulder. Then, their shifting and Emma hovers over Regina. She takes her time. Exploring every curve, every mark, every bit of skin. Cherishing every inch that is as in tuned to her as she is to Regina. She presses kisses to her eyelids, each finger, the swells of her breasts, the planes of stomach, the heat of her thighs. Regina pleads with her; whimpers. But then, she’s on top of Emma, paying just as much attention to every bit of her. Reverent kisses, cherishing sucks, treasuring caresses. Then, she’s parting Emma’s legs and adjusting their positions. Leaning over her to capture her lips, before she lowers her sticky heat to Emma’s, and they move together, magic pulsing, humming, and throbbing from their cores to every inch of their bodies. It's electric; consuming. Their eyes are hooded but locked on each other; holding on as they lift each other higher and higher.

They collapse together minutes later, tangled and spent, as they try to catch their breaths and slow their racing hearts.

“Incredible,” Regina says, resting her arm against her slick forehead.

“Yeah,” Emma breathes out, rolling onto her stomach and knitting their fingers together. She uses her other hand to trace along Regina’s side and hip. Regina lifts her head to watch the dance Emma’s fingers are doing along her skin. After a few more moments, she captures them in her own and brings them to her lips. Their salty and tangy and sweet and taste like the both of them as she kisses them again.

“Don’t leave me,” she whispers against them, and Emma barely catches what she’s said before Regina is curling onto her side, turning away.

“I’m not,” Emma assures with a frown, clearly feeling the sudden heaviness in Regina.

“So many people do,” Regina replies soft and still, and Emma scoots closer, brings the sheet over them, and holds her.

“I know,” Emma breathes against her skin. “Me too. But you’re not going to lose me. Not after it took this damn long for us to get here.”

Regina turns in her arms and tucks her head beneath Emma’s chin. “Good. I don't plan on leaving you either.”

Emma kisses her hair. “You know how hard it is to get rid of me,” she teases with a soft laugh, before she swallows and her voice becomes even lower. “And now...there's no way I could ever get enough of you.”

Her heart forgets to beat for a second and a sob catches in Regina’s throat, leaving her mouth as a quavering breath. And there's still a lot they need to talk about and a lot to discover and learn about each other again. But they're here and wanting and needing...each other. Starting a new chapter that maybe should have been written a while ago, but also feels like it's come at just the right moment.


Everyone surprises Regina with a coronation because she’s been chosen by the majority of people throughout all of the worlds to lead them. In a fairly short time, she’s earned so much trust and respect. She’s been the leader they’ve needed countless times to offer suggestions and be a tie breaker on what works best for everyone. It’s been almost a year since she cast the final curse. The worlds are prospering more and more, leaders from each place have been working together, helping everyone to adapt to Storybrooke, and everything has begun to settle down and become more routine. She accepts the title and decision of her people graciously, honored to have been chosen.

All of the love and adoration that she feels staring up at her as Snow and Charming crown her is overwhelming and it permeates the room. Friends and family stand nearby, her tear-filled eyes lingering the longest on Zelena, Lucy, Henry, Ry, Hope, and Emma, once she lifts her gaze to meet the crowd’s applause. She shares smiles with each of them—warm, proud, and grateful.   

They’ve all had plenty of adjusting to do and it hasn’t been completely easy. Henry and Jacinda moved into a new house with Lucy on the other side of Storybrooke. Ry moved into Henry’s old room in the mansion and began attending Storybrooke High School, while working as Emma’s deputy in the evenings. Alice and Robin got married in a small ceremony. Zelena and Chad bought a new house a few blocks from Mifflin. And she and Emma had started to take things slowly at the beginning of their relationship, but then there was a positive pregnancy test; tons of shock and even more pretty unbelievable explanations; a pregnancy somehow brought about by the magic of true love that Emma and Regina, unsurprisingly, share; Emma moving into one of the mansion’s guest rooms, which lasted exactly two nights before the master bedroom became theirs; and a baby girl named Hope with deep brown eyes and soft, dark curls that immediately became another light in their lives.

Regina steps down to receive the offers of congratulations and hugs from everyone. Lucy squeals and wraps her arms tightly around her. Ry says, “Congratulations, Mom,” and smiles warmly, before she opens her arms to him, holding him close. Henry’s cradling his baby sister in one arm but manages to hug Regina tightly with the other as he congratulates her and tells her he loves her. She tickles Hope with her finger, making the baby giggle, before she kisses her forehead and asks why she made Mama Emma late to the ceremony. She knows her eyes are still warm and glowing as she meets Emma’s eyes and the smile that lifts her lips. It only makes Regina smile more. She moves to hug her close, melting into her for a moment, before she reluctantly pulls back.

“So, this is it? Your happy ending?” Emma wonders, and it’s been months since either have spoken that term. Hearing it makes Regina realize how tired she is of goodbyes and endings—whether they’re happy or not. They’re so complete. So finished. She’s not, and doesn’t want her story to be either. In ways, she feels it’s just begun and is far from over. And it’s already become so much more.

She shakes her head, even though, Emma has already read the disapproving look in her eyes.

“Well, a happy beginning then,” she amends, knowing that they’re starting on a new journey together in so many ways.

And yes, Regina can agree that it is a beginning for them and everyone in their own ways, but there’s so much history. So many lessons they’ve already learned. Everything that has contributed to them evolving into all that they’ve become…it sounds too simple and somewhat negating.

Regina thinks it over, trying to come up with something that feels adequate, because yes, she is so completely happy and at peace and in love with Emma, her family, and her life.

“A second chance,” she decides.

Because it’s the chance she’s been given by the people she’s wronged. The chance that she’s worked hard for and earned. The chance to continue to enjoy her family and grow with them. The chance that she has given to herself to be better and to live the life of freedom and love she always longed for. And it’s the chance for her and Emma to be what they could have been.

It’s (finally) their chance.

Together.