Emma was sitting in a booth at Granny's when it happened. It wasn't very noticeable at first, just a slight blur obscuring her vision. She blinked a few times and shook her head and it receded, leaving a faint, blurry haze at the edge of her vision.
She blinked again, this time for a different reason. Something was wrong. Across the table sat Snow and David, happily conversing about something with... Regina?
What the hell?
Three pairs of eyes turned towards her. Apparently she'd said it out loud.
"Um, never mind. Just thinking out loud," she muttered, rubbing her neck. Or more precisely, she tried to, but something was stopping her.
Her eyes widened comically as she shot a glance at her hand.
Regina was holding her hand, fingers interlaced and on the table for everyone to see.
What the hell is going on? she thought, this time making sure her lips wouldn't betray her. Her relationship with Regina was fairly good but it wasn't like they were best buddies or anything thing. And now, for some inexplicable reason, they were having lunch with her parents of all people.
Thinking back, she tried to recall what had led up to this bizarre get-together.
The last thing she remembered was driving over to Regina's mansion for a magic lesson. How long ago was that? Earlier today? Yesterday?
She reached for the cup in front of her on the table, only to find it empty. Great. Another thing she had forgotten.
And then there was that weird warm buzzing sensation that permeated her body, humming and pulsating in a strangely pleasurable way.
"Emma, are you alright?"
Emma looked up from her empty cup, having forgotten that she wasn't alone. "Fine, Mom, just... a headache," she replied, attempting a reassuring smile.
Snow didn't look convinced, but luckily didn't press the issue.
"Well, we should be heading home. Maybe we should make this a regular thing?" David spoke up when the conversation eventually came to a close.
Regina's grip on Emma's hand immediately increased and Emma snapped her head towards her. Regina's politician's smile was in full power.
If Snow or David noticed anything, they didn't show it. They were probably too giddy in that persistent newlywed way of theirs to bother trying to interpret Regina's many facades.
"So," Emma tried, without a clue to what she wanted to say. Hey, I just lost a few hours worth of memories, seen any of them anywhere?
Regina gently put down the cup she had been sipping from and let out a tired sigh. "Let's hear it, Miss Swan."
"Unless that cup is somehow your arch nemesis, you have stared at it far too intensely for the last twenty minutes. Obviously something is on your mind."
"And you actually want to know what's bothering me?"
"Just tell me," Regina snapped, her eyes hard and angry – why, Emma had no idea – before her mask fell in place again, rendering her expression unreadable.
"I..." Emma faltered, taken aback by Regina's swift mood swings. Was this really a good idea, telling Regina? Maybe not, but she had a nagging feeling that this had something to do with magic and she sure as hell wouldn't ask Blue or Rumple. "I think I've lost some of my memories. I'm... I'm not sure how I got here. The last I remember is heading over to your place for a magic lesson."
A strange look clouded Regina's eyes for a split second, disappearing so quickly Emma wasn't sure it had been there in the first place. Was it fear? Sadness? Surprise? She wasn't sure.
"I see." Regina visibly deflated, almost slouching in the booth as her eyes went down to stare at their still linked hands. Slowly, carefully, she untangled her hand, placing it with her other in her lap. "I thought this might happen," she explained quietly. "It's the result of a spell. You've forgotten the last month."
A month? "How do know–"
"I know when the spell in question was cast, Miss Swan. It was a month ago," she cut her off, irritation clear in her voice. "If you'll excuse me." With that, she got up and headed for the bathroom.
Watching Regina march off, Emma tried to make sense of what had just happened. She'd fucked up a spell, if Regina was to be believed. She'd lost a month – a month! – of memories because of it. On top of that, Regina was acting weird, emotions all over the place that Emma couldn't place or interpret. She was definitely holding something back.
"Trouble in paradise?" Ruby came sauntering over to Emma's booth with a smirk.
"You could say that," Emma muttered.
"It's about time, you two have been giving Snow and David a run for the money of cutest couple in Storybrooke, you know. Disgustingly adorable." Her wide grin took away any sting her words might have.
Emma's expression was a perfect combination of confusion and surprise. "Who?" Her eyes widened as her mind slowly processed Ruby's words. "Wait, me and Regina?"
"Don't act so surprised. You've been on your way to Storybrooke Couple of the Year ever since you got together."
She and Regina was together? Emma couldn't say the prospect didn't appeal to her, but this wasn't just any hot ex-mayor, this was Regina. The same Regina that had emotional walls taller than the castles in the Enchanted Forest and, of course, the same Regina who had lost her soul mate when Emma had brought Marian back.
Sure, they had mended their broken relationship – if one could call it that – to an extent, but they weren't close to what Ruby was talking about.
Couple of the Year? Not a chance. Sadly.
"Tend to your customers, wolf," came Regina's cold voice. "We're leaving."
Emma was more or less pushed out of the diner in Regina's hurry to exit the building.
"Damn it, Regina, would you slow down?" Emma protested when Regina shoved her into her Mercedes. "Just calm down."
Regina shot her a spiteful glance. "Ruby should stick to serving. Some day that mouth of hers will get her in trouble."
"Yeah yeah. How about you tell me what this about us being together is?" A part of her wished it was true – even if they only were fuckbuddies – but she pushed down the feelings. Regina was impossibly hot, but she was also the most unavailable woman in Storybrooke. Getting her hopes up only meant having them inevitably crushed under one of Regina's stiletto heels.
"Us," Regina scoffed, gripping the steering wheel tighter. "That was never real."
"Yeah, I figured as much," Emma muttered but couldn't help feeling a stab of sadness from Regina's mocking tone. Not having a chance was one thing, the mere idea being laughable was much worse.
"It's been going on for a little less than a month. Hook was courting you–"
"Courting?" Emma chuckled, the mental image was too weird. "I doubt insisting 'you want me, you know you do' and being unable to talk without sexual innuendos count as courting."
There was a twitch in the corner of Regina's lips and Emma mentally high-fived herself for almost coaxing a smile from Regina. "He was pursuing you and you couldn't get him to end it, so you came to me."
Emma stared at her incredulously. "I came to you to fake a relationship to get Hook off my back?" She winced at her choice of words and added, "figuratively."
"He proposed to you and you wanted him permanently dissuaded–"
"He proposed to me?" She tried but failed to picture him on one knee, saying something sappy about her being the light in his darkness and blah blah eternal love. Ridiculous. "It doesn't matter, you're still not telling the truth about faking the relationship. Spit it out."
"You know I can tell when you're lying."
"Fine," Regina said with an exasperated sigh. Clenching her jaw, she paused for a moment, staring forward.
"To get rid of Hook," her tongue darted out to wet her lips, "you blackmailed me."
"What?" Emma blurted out, searching Regina's face for any hint of deception but found none. Her lie detector was quiet.
"You heard me, Miss Swan," Regina said flatly.
"I blackmailed you," Emma mumbled, mostly to herself, letting the words sink in. She didn't want to believe it – she couldn't believe it – but Regina wasn't lying. It didn't make any sense. "With what? How did I do it?" She didn't want to know but she had to ask.
Regina was quiet for a few seconds before finally answering, her voice low, almost bittersweet. "If I told you that, you'd do it again."
The rest of the drive to the Emma's apartment was silent.
The first thing Emma noticed when she entered her apartment was the sounds of someone moving around in the apartment. For a split second she wondered if Hook had moved in with her, but her fear was quickly dispelled when she saw Henry appearing in the doorway to the living room.
"Hi Ma! Didn't expect you back so soon." With a frown that was eerily similar to Regina's, he continued, "is everything okay?"
Emma tried to smile, she really did. Failing at it, she sighed, slumping back against the front door. "Not really, kid."
"Did you meet Hook?" Henry sounded like he already knew the answer.
"No, nothing like that, it's just– I–" Her mouth opened and closed uselessly, her mind still reeling from the last hour's events. "I fucked up. Bad," she finally mumbled, tossing off her boots and jacket.
"This is about Mom, isn't it."
Emma laughed but it wasn't a happy sound. "Some of it. Some of it is just my own damn fault." She shuffled over to the living room and slumped down in the couch, Henry sitting down next to her. "Apparently, I fucked up a spell and now I can't remember the last month."
"Damn," Henry mumbled under his breath, his face dropping. "You can't remember anything after you and Mom got together? You were so happy."
"Yeah." So Henry didn't know; they had actually lied to him of all people. Could this get any worse?
"And it would be your one month anniversary in a few days, too." He gave her a confused look. "Why are you here? I mean, shouldn't you try to fix it – the spell – with Mom? You'll figure something out–"
"Your mother and I are not– we're–" She groaned, burying her face in her hands. "Our relationship was never real. We faked the whole thing to get Hook off my back after he proposed to me." And because I forced her to help me. She couldn't tell him.
Emma looked up and met the very incredulous face of her son. He looked so much like Regina there, wearing the exact same expression that Regina would use when Emma said something utterly idiotic and really, she should have know that before blabbering like her idiot parents. She could practically hear Regina's exasperated voice.
"That's what she's going with?" Henry huffed. "I can't believe her."
"She's not going with anything, Henry, I could tell she wasn't lying."
"You're wrong," he insisted. "There's no way you faked all that last month. No way. I saw all your looks and touches and stuff, and Mom didn't fake it. She wasn't giving you her fake smiles, she gave you her real smiles."
She was only a little surprised at how much she wished it was true. You only know what you want until you can't have it anymore, right?
But she knew better and shook her head. "She said we faked it... because I blackmailed her." Just saying the words out loud felt disgusting.
"She said you blackmailed her? Why? How?"
"She wouldn't say."
She could almost hear his brain working overtime to figure out what Regina was up to.
"No," he said after a while, "I don't buy it. You probably had a fight or whatever and she's scared and with your memory loss she figures she should cut her losses and leave."
"That sounds like her," Emma acquiesced, "but I know what I heard. She was telling the truth."
He let out a sigh, slumping back in the couch. "Why can't you guys get your happy ending already."
"That only happens in fairy tales, kid," she mumbled with a sad smile.
A whole month was missing from her memory. Completely gone.
It wasn't until now, alone on her bed, that it finally sank in. With Regina and then Henry she had been distracted, wondering and worrying about what she'd done to Regina, but now there was nothing to distract her.
Nothing to distract her from the fact that she'd looked at and touched and maybe even kissed Regina fucking Mills for a month and she couldn't remember a goddamn thing!
Fuck, she wanted to know what happened that month.
A smile touched her lips as she remembered the way her fingers had been laced together with Regina's. They had fit so perfectly, like they were meant to be like that.
And then she remembered how Regina had looked at her like Emma was the reason for all of the pain in her life and all the good feelings disappeared.
She fell asleep thinking of Regina's soft, warm skin against her palm.
"He's an ass, Emma. Don't think about him."
"You just want me all to yourself, don't you?" She snuggled even closer to Regina, humming happily when long fingers began gently combing through her hair. "Not that I mind."
Regina chuckled, low and warm. "He's not worth your time. Reject him and move on."
"I can't believe he actually proposed," Emma huffed. "No ring, no nothing. Felt like a business transaction."
"Well, you are a trophy to him. That should be fairly obvious by now." She smiled wickedly, scraping her nail against Emma's scalp. "Even to a Charming."
"Hey!" Emma objected but then Regina's fingers were on her neck and on the sensitive skin behind her ear and she couldn't hold back a soft groan. Regina was so good at this.
"Did you say something?" And so very smug.
Emma groaned again, but now because of an uncomfortable sensation on her hip. She shifted around but it didn't help.
"If you're getting restless, maybe we should continue this upstairs," Regina husked, a perfectly manicured fingernail tracing the edges of Emma's lips.
Emma awoke in her bed, thinking for a moment that she was in Regina's bed. She groaned loudly when she recognized her own, lackluster bedroom.
And that damn thing was still digging into her hip. Shoving her hand down her pocket, she pulled up a small box. It looked suspiciously like–
She opened it.
–like something that would contain a ring. A wedding ring. What the fuck?
She picked it up carefully, staring at the elaborate design. The ring was made too look like two wings, curling around the finger. She didn't need to be a jeweler to recognize that it wasn't some cheap thing; the detail on the wings was absolutely incredible, down to the individual feathers. Turning it around, she found a small line of text inside.
Let my wings embrace you
How very sappy.
No name anywhere, nothing.
Why did she have a wedding ring if Hook was the one who proposed?