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it's like you've got new eyes on me

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Lucy stared at her grandma through the full-length mirror in the dress shop, grinning faintly as she met Regina’s eyes. Her grandma smiled proudly, and Lucy was certain that she could see a shimmer of tears in her eyes as she looked at her.  

 

“Lucy,” Regina whispered and stepped closer, placing a warm hand on her shoulder. She appeared in awe, moved by this shared experience just as Lucy herself was. 

 

Sinking into it, Lucy closed her eyes. Breathed in the moment; the softness of her grandmother’s touch, the ambient music in the shop, the slight buzz of the champagne they had been drinking all afternoon as she tried on dresses. “Grandma,” she said, and she was slightly teary eyed to be sharing this moment with her abuelita, mostly because she kept thinking about the time they spent as just Lucy and barkeep Roni when they first started to really bond.  

 

As she opened her eyes again, brown met brown.  

 

“You look so stunning, darling,” Regina smiled, and she gently tucked Lucy’s hair over her shoulder, eyes trailing from her toes to the top of her head. “Diego is not going to know what hit him once you walk up that aisle.”  

 

Lucy couldn’t keep herself from grinning. “Stop crying, Grandma, I’m only getting married,” she said.  

 

Regina shook her head and carefully ran a palm over her cheek to brush away tears .  “My only grandchild. This is a very big day for me.” She ran her fingers through Lucy’s hair, combing it as she did, eyes trained on the long strands of dark hair as it slipped through her fingers. “And you should pull your hair back slightly. Perhaps in a braid,” she wisely added. 

 

“Mami said so, too,” Lucy murmured. She leaned slightly into her grandmother, savouring her gentle touch.  

 

“Listen to her more,” Regina said, and the wrinkles around her eyes crinkled. “I used to have hair this long and beautiful, and I often braided it.” She stared down at the locks between her fingers, pensive. “Now, it is not even this colour anymore,” she added with a sigh and met Lucy’s gaze in the mirror.  

 

Lucy chuckled. “Grey suits you.”  

 

Regina didn’t even flinch, but hummed in reply.  

 

Turning her gaze down her own body, Lucy once more scanned the dress with her eyes. It was the second time she tried this one on, not quite able to leave it alone. Something just felt right about it. She tilted her head to the side, still not entirely certain. She wondered if she ever would be. 

 

“This is the dress, huh,” Regina quietly said, once more looking at her through the mirror.  

 

Lucy nodded. “Yes, I think so. It just needs fitting.”  

 

Regina dropped her hair and took a step back, wiping at her cheek yet again. “And we shall get it fixed for you.” She was emotional, clearly, but Lucy figured that it was a given for her to feel like that. 

 

The owner of the shop stepped closer, carefully bending her head at the Good Queen, as she reached for her measuring tape. “Are you ready to get measured?”  

 

“Please,” Lucy replied, and the woman started to work immediately while Lucy got into position on the small podium. “What are you going to wear to the party?” she asked her grandmother as she raised her left arm.  

 

Regina took a seat on one of the soft chairs, crossing her legs in front of her as she watched her granddaughter. “I’m not sure. Perhaps just one of my pantsuits.” She pulled the sleeve of her blazer up, checking the time. Maybe she thought it would distract Lucy from questioning her further, but Lucy was smarter than that, and she knew all her grandmother’s tactics – her father used them, too. “Now where is Emma?” Regina questioned at that, brow furrowed and lips pursed. “Wasn’t she supposed to join us for this appointment?”  

 

Lucy shrugged. “Grandma Emma is running late. Something about Leroy making a fuss at the station.”  

 

“It is always work with her,” Regina absentmindedly replied as she brushed off an invisible dust bunny on her black pencil skirt.  

 

Eyeing her, Lucy tried to ignore the lady who was milling about, and focused on her grandmother in front of her. Now that Regina had brought Emma into the conversation, it was kind of hard not to make the transition into talking about what she  really  wanted to discuss with her abuelita. She did have a time frame to meet here, and she was not going to let her father win this one. She swallowed thickly, and tried to sound absolutely casual when she asked, “So uhm – are you bringing a date to the wedding?”  

 

Regina visibly froze, stiffening slightly in her seat, before she answered. “A date? No, I don’t want to bring a date, I’d much rather spend more time with my family,” she said, trying very hard to sound casual, too. She talked too quickly though, too quickly to be casual, which Lucy knew all about, too. She had a good nose for those kinds of things, her father had always told her so. And that nose, she mused, she had inherited from her  other  grandmother.  

 

Lucy could, however, play the same game as her abuelita. And Regina had never quite caught onto her schemes like the other way around. She innocently shrugged. “Oh, I just figured - no, never mind.”  

 

Glancing up at her, Regina said, “What, Lucy?”  

 

Sighing exaggeratedly, Lucy continued, “Well, it’s just – who knows if Grandma Emma is going to bring a date, and Zelena is bringing her husband, and I was just concerned about where to put you if that was the case.” She, on purpose, did not meet her eyes, but smiled warmly down at the woman who was measuring her waist.  

 

“Emma is bringing a date?” Regina blurted out, and there was definitely an edge to her voice.  

 

Lucy shrugged. Trying to act casual, most definitely trying to act casual. “I don’t know. She might.” Was she sounding  too  casual?  

 

Regina mumbled something unintelligible as she crossed her arms and glanced towards a rack of dresses to the left of the room. She tapped her foot and didn’t meet Lucy’s gaze. Her hair was greying so beautifully at the roots and in bigger and bigger flecks amidst the black; Lucy felt like she had turned greyer each time she saw her next, but it suited her, and Regina had embraced older age with graciousness. Her make-up was a bit more casual than when she was younger, down-scaled to suit the wrinkles around her eyes, and Lucy thought she looked beautiful in her black dress skirt and the white shirt. 

 

Grinning to herself, because Regina was reacting exactly how she had thought she would, Lucy continued on. “Well, if you want to, you can bring a date. Or you could just ask Emma,” she suggested, and she had barely managed to finish her sentence, before Regina spluttered.  

 

Emma ?” she blurted, “Why would you say that? Why would I bring  Emma ?” She tapped her foot once more, fingers nervously twitching near the arm rest of the chair.  

 

Lucy glanced down at the woman beneath her armpit and said, “Can you give us a second, please?”  

 

The woman rolled in her measuring tape with a snap. “Certainly,” she said, and she was out of the room, closing the door with a smack behind her. Not that Lucy thought she wouldn’t be listening at the door for gossip about the Good Queen, because anyone would. Besides, she was pretty sure that the shop owner had a few stakes in this project and would happily bring gossip to her friends later today. What they were going to talk about now was not going to be anything new - not to Regina or Lucy, or to anyone else for that matter. Lucy thought fondly about the town wide betting pool on Emma and Regina’s relationship (or perhaps, sadly, the lack thereof), and this conversation would not be ground-breaking, but just another one for the bet.  

 

Regina was still in love with Emma, and Emma was still an oblivious idiot about it. Lucy just had to be sure that Emma stopped being oblivious by, like, yesterday, because she was losing to her father, and she could not have that. 

 

Carefully lifting her dress to step off the podium, Lucy neared her grandmother. She was very aware of the fact that she had to thread carefully or Regina might snap, but she was just so frigging tired of watching her grandparents being stupid for each other, but not being together. Mostly because Emma was abnormally clueless, but Lucy could not figure out what Regina’s reasons were. If there was one thing her grandma Regina wasn’t, it was clueless. Lucy was certain that she was very aware of her feelings, had been for  years,  centuries even. “Grandma?” she said as she carefully kneeled down in front of her so they were on eye level.  

 

Regina’s jaw worked beneath her skin. “Yes, Lucy?” she sharply replied.  

 

Resisting to roll her eyes, Lucy swallowed thickly. “You know you could just ask Emma to go with you,” she lightly said, running her mouth like it was no big deal, “or…” She dragged it off, shrugging, “tell her how you feel, I dunno.”  

 

Regina’s eyes practically shot lightnings when she glanced at Lucy again. “Lucy,  what  are you talking about?” she asked, but her voice quivered, and she was fidgeting again. 

 

“Dad’s totally for it, too,” Lucy casually continued as she stood up, staring down at her grandmother in her full height. “He  wants  you guys to get together. He’s tired of watching you mope around.”  

 

“I do not  mope, ” Regina gasped, so offended that she forgot to deny it all together.  

 

Lucy arched an eyebrow, perfected from her father, who’d perfected it from his mother. “Really?”  

 

Regina sighed heavily and averted her gaze.  

 

“It’s been enough time!” Lucy rebutted, and the words almost came out in a whine. It made her sound ten years again, like when she first met Roni in the bar, but she didn’t care. “You need to get together, Grandma, before it’s  too late .”  

 

As she regarded her, Regina was quiet, brown eyes scanning over Lucy’s face almost painfully. “I have known Emma for more than thirty years combined,” she begun, voice barely a whisper, as it brushed over red lips, “and if she wants something, she makes sure to take it. Emma is not interested in me like that.”  

 

Watching her, Lucy could tell that it pained her to say the words, that her heart broke a little bit as they passed her lips, and Lucy felt her own face fall as well. Regina wasn’t right though – she  couldn’t  be right. Because Lucy was  sure  that Emma felt the same. She just didn’t know it yet. “That’s a lie,” she refused, fisting her hands by her sides. “Dad thinks so, too. Why do you think she never found another man since Hook left, huh?”  

 

“Because she has a daughter to worry about,” Regina said. She sighed heavily and pushed herself out of her seat, now standing up next to Lucy, although still not as tall, even in her high heels.  

 

Lucy frowned. “You need to tell her, grandma! You’re wasting all this time.”  

 

Regina stared at her, face growing softer as she reached a hand up and gently cupped Lucy’s cheek. “If Emma wanted to be with me, she’d figure it out by herself, and not because I told her to,” she murmured quietly. However, there was a certain edge to her voice suddenly, and her lips had thinned visibly.  

 

“Grandma,” Lucy begun to object. “Seriously, you need to-” 

 

“Lucy,” Regina cut her off. “I don’t want to talk about this anymore. End of discussion.”  

 

“Abuelita-” 

 

End  of discussion,” Regina repeated, and it left no room for arguments. She stepped forward instead and ran a hand over Lucy’s dress. “Now, let’s get this finished, shall we?”  

 

Lucy swallowed thickly and bit back all the words she wanted to say in objection to this. She felt like crying in frustration, simply because her grandmother was being bull-headed when there was no reason to be, and so instead she turned towards the door and loudly invited the shop owner back inside. “We’re ready again.”  

 

The door creaked open, and there was not a doubt in Lucy’s mind that they had been listened to, because the look on the shop owner’s face told her everything. “Let’s continue?” she asked kindly, first looking at Lucy, then at Regina for approval.  

 

“Yes,” Regina firmly nodded. “Let’s get this dress finished. We have a wedding to attend.”  

 

——-  

 

Two days later, Lucy was hanging out with Grandma Emma at the station during her lunch break. Lucy herself had taken a few days off from the hospital to get the last of the wedding planning done, and Emma mostly worked the desk after she had grown a bit older. She was still Sheriff, mind you, but she had a lot of deputies who took care of patrolling all of the United Realms. Emma mostly wrote up paper reports before handing them over to the Good Queen during their weekly Wednesday meetings.  

 

Emma was eating a bear claw, kicked back in her chair and with her feet on the desk, as Lucy sat in the small couch in her glass office. “Sorry I couldn’t make it the other day,” Emma mumbled through a full mouth. A little bit of jelly fell from her mouth and landed on her shirt, and Lucy watched it disdainfully.  

 

“It’s okay,” she mumbled as she leaned forward to pull a serviette out of the stack on the desk. She handed it to Emma with an eye on the stain. “Abuelita helped me choose the right dress.”  

 

Wiping at the stain, Emma didn’t look up at her as she replied, “She’s much better at that shit than I am anyway.”  

 

“Hm,” Lucy replied, still not satisfied with how much of that stain Emma had managed to remove. It appeared that Emma was pleased enough however, because she continued on the bear claw. “I wanted to know about your plus one for the wedding though, since I’m finishing with the caterers this week.”  

 

Emma froze. “My plus one?”  

 

“Yeah, don’t you have one?”  

 

Her mouth fell open. “No!” she quickly said and sat up straight. Her short blonde hair just barely brushed her shoulders as she gaped at Lucy. “I don’t have a plus one. Unless you’re counting in Hope.” She pushed her glasses further up the bridge of her nose; they were a newer model than the last time Lucy had seen her, and she thought the black rims looked good on her. 

 

Lucy shrugged and absentmindedly crossed her legs at the ankles. “Oh… I must’ve confused you with Grandma Regina then,” she lightly said as she made a show of glancing down at her phone. She was looking at a picture of Alice and Robin’s new dog she had seen a hundred times before, but who was Emma to know.  

 

“Regina has a date?” Emma loudly questioned, and what Lucy wouldn’t give to see her face at this point. Alas, she had a façade to uphold. “She uh,” Emma cleared her throat, “she didn’t say.”  

 

Slipping her phone back into her pocket, Lucy glanced up at her blonde grandmother once more, pleased to see the worried frown on her face. She was pretty sure that Emma could not quite figure out why Regina having a date would upset her so, but Lucy had high hopes that she’d soon make sense of it. “Oh yeah,” she casually said as she popped her hands behind her head, “it’s just, you know, she’s not getting any younger, so if she wants to meet someone…” She trailed off on purpose, letting it hang there in the air between them.  

 

Emma licked her lip. There was white sugar dust on it, and her tongue swiped to catch it all. “But like,” she paused, green eyes flickering nervously, “there are no eligible men here. I mean, I’ve  looked .”  

 

Lucy wasn’t so sure she’d  really  looked (because of course there were eligible men if you really wanted to find one), but she wasn’t about to say that. “That’s why Grandma Regina said that she might want to look at women instead,” she offered. Casual, just casual. And a little white lie, because technically Regina had never  said  that. Lucy just knew that she did. And it wasn’t  women  in plural of course, but more particular  one  woman, which were just semantics. Besides, lying was for the greater good, and she was sure that her father would approve if he knew.  

 

Spluttering, Emma practically fell out of her office chair. “Women!?” she gasped, and her eyes were basically popping out of her head. “Women, but-” 

 

With a chuckle, Lucy continued her casual conversation that was very much for the greater good. “Come on,” she said, seriously, as if Emma should  know  better than this, “you know she had a thing with Maleficent once.”  

 

This seemed to surprise Emma even more. “But,” she whined, fingers clawing nervously at the side of her desk, “but…”  

 

“Oh yeah,” Lucy nodded, like this was just an ordinary conversation on an ordinary day. “You can’t blame her for wanting to find someone, Grandma Emma,” she added. “She doesn’t want to be alone for the rest of her life, and she’s almost sixty, so.” She shrugged and reached for her phone again to give Emma time to digest  that . (Alice and Robin’s dog was really cute tough).  

 

Emma was quiet for a moment, and Lucy really did have to force herself not to raise her eyes to watch the way Emma was surely spluttering. Her dad would sometimes do the same when her mami called him out for not doing something he should have done as he tried to talk his way out of it. She was quite familiar with the expression, and she was certain Emma was making it right now. “But – but – Regina is not  alone, ” Emma eventually ended up saying, and Lucy finally raised her eyes to look at her blonde grandmother. “She’s got me!” Emma argued, her voice rising towards shrill, “ and  Hope! She’s got me and Hope!”  

 

Lucy placed her phone back down again. “I know,” she slowly replied. 

 

“We eat lunch together every day!” Emma continued to argue, her feet thundering towards the floor as she leaned over, elbows on knees. “Hope spends  so much  time with her. Why would she need a  woman, ” she finished, looking very aghast.  

 

Breathing out deeply, Lucy leaned forward as well, getting closer to Emma. “Gee, I don’t know, Grandma? Maybe because it’s not the same? Maybe because once you and Hope leave, she’s all alone?”  

 

“But-” 

 

“Or maybe she just wants some sex, I mean it must have been a while,” Lucy added, smirking to herself as she leaned back into the couch.  

 

Emma spluttered immediately. “ Lucy !” 

 

Lucy grinned. “Oh, come on, Grandma Emma, I’m getting married. I’m not a little girl anymore.” She reached for her phone and moved to stand up. “I’ve  had  sex, y’know?” She stuffed her phone into her back pocket and turned to look at her grandmother at that. “Anyway, I’ve gotta run. Text me about that plus one, will you?”  

 

“I don’t  need a  fucking plus one,” Emma immediately fired after her, and Lucy was very pleased about how upset she sounded. “Not like  some  people.”  

 

Lucy chuckled to herself as she left the station. Surely, Grandma Emma had found  something  to ponder about for the next few days.  

Chapter Text

Regina stood by the back row of chairs, shaking hands with all the wedding guests that filed onto the green area in front of the lake in Storybrooke’s only park. Everything was beautifully decorated with white streamers and colourful lights that floated magically around the trees. There were rows upon rows of chairs, making room for everyone who wanted to come watch the ceremony. Most everyone was invited to the party afterwards as well, and that was being held in the gym at Storybrooke High.   

 

“Congratulations on your granddaughter, Queen Regina,” one of the dwarfs – Regina could never quite figure out who was who – congratulated her .  

 

“Thank you,” Regina replied and shook his hand and sent him on his way towards the makeshift aisle. She smoothed down the front of her dress, somehow nervous with sweaty palms and a beating heart. The belt cinched around her waist pinched her slightly, and she was feeling warm in her blazer, but – it was Lucy’s wedding day, and she was too happy for her granddaughter to care.  

 

A mess of a Snow appeared besides her, fingers pinching around her elbow. “Have you seen Emma?” she nervously  questioned . Her green eyes scanned the crowd of people, undoubtedly searching for a head of blonde hair, clutching the hand of a stubborn flower-girl with long dark hair and a light pink dress; a ten-year-old Hope was looking more and more like her grandmother every day, much to Snow’s thinly veiled delight.   

 

If Regina was trying to corrupt her slightly whenever she spent time with her, it was simply because the world had enough in one Snow White, and they did not need another one. Besides, Hope had much too much potential to just end up like that.   

 

“Is she not here yet?” Regina  asked , eyes scanning the crowd as well. She was automatically looking for the red of Emma’s leather jacket, although she knew that Emma probably wouldn’t be wearing that with her wedding clothes.   

 

“We start in five minutes!” Snow shrieked and pulled out her phone, fingers speed-dialling Emma’s number.   

 

Regina eyed her critically, heels sinking slightly into the soft grass when she shifted. “They’ll make it, Snow, don’t worry,” she promised; remembered fondly the day of her own coronation where Emma had arrived just a little too late, but arrived nonetheless. “Hello, thanks for coming, Kathryn,” she greeted her old friend, and that appeared to be the last of the guests, settling into one of the few spare chairs left.   

 

Snow snapped her phone shut – apparently Emma had not answered, which Regina thought was very responsible, since she was probably driving there – and continued, “But Hope is the flower girl! She’s supposed to go down first!”   

 

Regina guided Snow lovingly down the aisle, to get her to her seat next to David. “Sit down, dear Snow, I will make a last check-in with Henry, and then we will get started.” She waved at Ella, who was sitting nervously near the front, all by herself, because Henry was going to walk Lucy down, and the other two chairs were reserved for Emma and Regina herself. Diego was shining near the front, standing handsomely next to Archie who was officiating.  

 

Hurrying back down the aisle towards the small corner in the back that was shielded by beautiful wooden dividers – here the entire wedding party was waiting for the cue of the music – Regina breathed a sigh of relief when Emma’s yellow Bug – still only driving functionally because Emma kept using her magic to help it along – came to a screeching halt near the curb.   

 

Emma and Hope almost fell out of the car, the blonde ushering her daughter across the green grass in a flurry of dresses and long locks, and Regina barely had time to appreciate Emma’s modest navy dress before the music started and Neal peaked around the corner, bearing the rings, and setting down the aisle as he realised that Hope was there to  accompany  him.   

 

“Sorry! Sorry,” Emma breathed apologetically as she ran a hand through Hope’s hair and handed her the basket of flowers. “There baby, go, go,” she urged her on, and Hope fell into step be sides  her uncle, walking to the beat of the music.   

 

“Emma,” Regina greeted her. She was about to scold her for being late, but Emma’s green eyes trailing appreciatively down her body caught her off guard.   

 

“I know. I’m late,” she said as she leaned over and pressed a lingering kiss to Regina’s cheek. “You look beautiful,” she added, before she hooked her arm through Regina’s and hurried around the row of chairs to get to the front.   

 

Regina followed obediently, her cheek tingling where Emma’s lips had been pressed to it, and as they took a seat near Ella, Henry and Lucy were starting to walk down the aisle.   

 

The ceremony itself was beautiful, and Regina clung to Emma as they watched their only grandchild marry the love of her life. Emma looked at her many times throughout, green eyes glistening, and with a tentative and nervous smile. The crinkles around her eyes beautifully accentuated the joy on her face, and it was only after both Lucy and Diego said ‘I do’ that Regina realised that she was still clutching onto Emma’s arm.   

 

She dropped it softly, but Emma’s fingers came down to give hers another squeeze, before she was swept away by Hope’s eager hands. Regina kissed Lucy’s cheek and congratulated Henry on his daughter's wedding, before she found Zelena and her husband and spent a good few minutes talking to them. Once she was certain that she would not be the first to arrive at the high school – and upon realising that Emma was nowhere to be found – Regina transported herself to the party with a swoosh of her hand.  

 

Now, Emma was nowhere to be found in the gymnasium either, and Regina kept searching for her, feeling so terribly bare without Emma by her side as she usually was. She could see Ruby and Dorothy drinking champagne off to the side however, and she turned her attention towards them. She could always find her family at a later point; she was sure they would not leave her alone for long.  

 

Ruby whistled lowly as Regina stalked up to them with clicking high heels and a whiff of perfume. At first, she had not been comfortable in the dress Lucy had demanded she wear, thinking that it was too revealing for a woman her age, but then she had paired it with her blazer and her nylons, and she had felt differently. She had suddenly loved the modest cleavage the dress gave her, the small belt cinching at her waist.  

 

“Hello,” Regina greeted the happy pair, kissing their cheeks before pulling back.   

 

“Damn, you look hot, woman,” Ruby commented as she gave her another once-over. “Who are you trying to impress?”   

 

Regina grabbed a flute from a passing waiter, quickly pressing it to her lips. “I have no one to impress, don’t be silly, Miss Lucas.”   

 

Rolling her eyes, Ruby fired right back. “Of course, you have! Is Emma nearby, by any chance?”   

 

Taking another sip of her drink, Regina ignored her as she turned around and joined them in watching everyone enter the gymnasium. “Hush now, you two,” she replied, even though a slight flush rose up her collarbones. She saw Zelena enter with Robin and Alice, and the younger couple made their way over to Ella and Henry, while Zelena and her husband started attacking the appetisers; hungry as always. She saw Emma and Hope enter too, and she could not ignore the way her heart skipped a beat at the sight of them. Out of relief that they were finally there, but also just because it was  them.  She had sworn she was not going to get caught up in her feelings once more– especially not tonight of all nights – but it was just so hard when she saw them.   

 

She had sworn she would try better to bury her feelings and just be Emma’s  friend , because she needed the other woman like she needed her magic; it was innate and a part of her. She wasn’t going to let some  feelings  ruin that. Not even if spending so much time with Emma sometimes hurt more than she could manage, as if helping her co-parent Hope – after  swearing  she wouldn’t get attached – didn’t hurt because it reminded her of all the things she couldn’t have.   

 

All the things that the disgusting pirate had had in his one good hand only to let them slide.   

 

Something must have passed on Regina’s face – even though she was a master of disguise, if she did say so herself – because Dorothy said, “Emma looks beautiful today, huh.” And then she eyed Regina with  those  eyes. Those know-it-all eyes.  

 

“What?” Regina asked as she sipped her drink. “Really? I hadn’t noticed.”   

 

Ruby snorted. “Yeah alright.”   

 

Dorothy glared at her. “Hope is really growing up, don’t you think? Shame Hook doesn’t stop by more to spend time with her.”   

 

Regina  thought it was stupid of Hook to let his daughter go the way he had done, but thankfully Hope managed just fine without him most of the time – not that she didn’t miss him, and Regina knew she often felt awful for being rejected the way he had done.  Her fingers clenched around the champagne flute  at the mere thought of him hurting his own daughter like that. He did not deserve her anyway; he didn’t deserve Emma either. He never had.   

 

“How long since he was here?” Ruby asked.   

 

“Seven months,” Regina bitterly replied, her eyes following Hope as she moved alongside Emma, her hand pressed inside her mother’s. “Hope doesn’t need him anyway. She’s got Emma, and that’s all there is to it.”   

 

Ruby arched an eyebrow, a wolfish grin on her face. “And you.”   

 

Regina sighed. “And me what?”   

 

“And Hope’s got you,” Ruby elaborated as she daintily sipped her drink and tried to play it casual. “I mean, we’ve all seen how much time you spend with Hope and help Emma out, is all I’m saying.” She licked her lip, catching a runaway drop of champagne. “Hope’s got you.”   

 

Regina turned her head away, eyes landing on Hope and Emma once more. Just as they did, Hope looked up from her feet and caught Regina’s gaze. She lit up entirely, face breaking into a smile, before she raised her hand an eagerly waved at Regina. Regina felt her chest size up, and she waved back, unable to not interact with the young girl’s greeting.   

 

Dorothy pulled Regina out of her own head. “Don’t worry about it, Regina. We all think it’s nice. You should have been Hope’s other parent from day one. Everybody thinks so.”   

 

Head snapping to the side, Regina felt her eyes shoot lightnings. “ What  are you blabbering on about?”  

 

Laughing, Dorothy continued, “Just that Hook was never around. Even during Emma’s pregnancy, we all saw that it would not end well.” She shrugged, before continuing, “I mean, you weren’t there, but we all saw it.”   

 

Regina scowled. “That man always was a no-good idiot. I’m surprised she even married him, but she never has been aware of her own self-worth.”   

 

Ruby and Dorothy shared a loaded look that Regina pretended not to notice, and Ruby added, “Well, thankfully they’ve got you now. You and Emma always did raise awesome kids.”   

 

“Are you two going to stop at any point, or should I move along to some other guests?” Regina breathed out in a sigh. She arched a pointed eyebrow at them, unamused. It wasn’t like she was not aware what they were doing – at this point, people kept doing it to her at least twice a day – and she was not as obtuse as not to know about the town wide betting pool that she was pretty sure her own son was behind, but she  pretended  not to know, and why was that? Because Emma was blissfully unaware, and Regina did not want to stir up trouble. She just wanted to spend time with Emma and Hope, cook them lasagne for dinner and go to all of Hope’s school functions with Emma by her side. And so what if two of her spare bedrooms had been made into  their  spare bedrooms? She  wanted  them there, in whatever capacity Emma was okay with, but she could only handle so much not-so-gentle probing in one day.   

 

Dorothy did have the audacity to look bashful, but Ruby? Not so much. “Calm down, we just want what’s best for you,  Queenie .”   

 

Regina glared at her. “But it would be nice if you did  not  give it all away to Emma meanwhile.”   

 

“Give what away to me?”   

 

With a gasp, Regina turned around to find that Emma and Hope had joined them, and that Emma was watching her expectantly with amusement, while Hope stepped forward to wrap her arms around Regina’s midsection.   

 

Regiiiiina ,” she greeted, burying her head in her stomach.   

 

“Uh.” Regina did not know what to say, so she awkwardly patted Hope’s head. “Hi darling.”   

 

“Just uh,” Ruby offered, “the gift that Dorothy and I got the kids. It’s gonna be  wild. ”   

 

Emma laughed. “Can’t wait to see it,” she murmured, before she stepped forward and pressed a kiss to Regina’s cheek, almost at the corner of her mouth. “Lucy put you with Hope and I. Do you want to get something to drink and sit down?”   

 

Her face appeared so young and hopeful, and Regina basically melted. Hope reluctantly let go of her midsection and smiled hopefully up at her as well, a mirror image of her mother. “Come sit with us,” she beamed.   

 

“Sure, darling,” Regina promised her, and she ignored Ruby’s saying look as Emma placed a hand on her lower back to guide her towards their seats. Hope had her hand tucked inside Regina’s, and she skipped along happily beside her.   

 

They got Hope some juice, Emma a beer and Regina a cocktail from the bartender, before they found their seats. Their table was close to the main one, where Regina could see Henry and Ella smiling brightly as they waited for Lucy and Diego to get to the party. Hope only managed to sit still for a moment or two before she was off again, running off to see some of her friends from school who were there as well. Regina watched her run away, fondness inside of her heart.   

 

Emma nudged her gently with a shoulder. “She adores you so much.”   

 

Regina met her eyes. “The feeling is very mutual,” she said as she reached to take a sip of her drink.   

 

Nodding, Emma was quiet for a moment or two as she took a sip of her own beer as well. “Uhm, so…” She trailed off, and Regina couldn’t quite read the situation as it was. The silence was suddenly loaded, filled to the brim with something not so understandable, and Regina stared expectantly at Emma. “Did I tell you that you look very nice today?”   

 

Emma had told her that already, so Regina nodded. “Yes. Emma. Thank you,” she sipped her drink again as her eyes swept over Emma’s form, appreciating the accentuated chest. “So do you.”   

 

A slight flush rose up on Emma’s cheeks and she grinned goofily. “I uh, I wasn’t sure I was gonna wear a dress, but then Lucy convinced me, and…” She stopped talking, squinting her eyes as she took a sip of her beer.   

 

Regina couldn’t help the smile that came upon her face at that. “You always did look lovely in your dresses, Emma. Even if you do pair it with that hideous jacket of yours.”   

 

Emma gasped. “Don’t hate the jacket, just don’t,” she teased, feigning hurt. She smiled, however, eyes glistening, and Regina thought that she’d never looked more beautiful. Older age really suited Emma; t he dark glasses on her nose, t he wrinkles on her face. Regina adored every each of them, and she longed to reach her fingers out and run them through Emma’s shorter locks, to trail kisses from her downturned lips across her pale cheek.   

 

She wanted to whisper things into Emma’s ear that she’d longed to tell her for a very long time, yet had never had the guts to say. Why ruin a good thing? Regina didn’t  dare  it.   

 

“Would you and Hope like to have a movie night with me tomorrow night?” Regina questioned i n lieu of anything else ; asked a simpler question instead of saying all the things she really wanted to say, because wanting a movie night with Emma and Hope was easy; it was safe and secure, and nothing out of the ordinary. That, she could do.   

 

Emma nodded, a surprised smile on her lips. “Yeah! Of course!” she paused, her shoulders hunched and her pointer finger playing with her thumbnail. “Hope has been wanting to see that movie with the tiger for a while. Ya’ know the one?”   

 

Regina laughed. “Yes. Of course! I can definitely get that for us.”   

 

Grinning, Emma sighed. She appeared a bit more relaxed suddenly, now that Regina had broken the awkwardness with her proposition of a movie night. “Oh man. Can you believe that Lucy is married?  Married.  That’s insane, Regina.” She stared seriously at her; green eyes slightly misty. “I mean. We're old enough to have a grandkid  married . Do you see how  gigantic  that is?”  

 

“I  realise ,” Regina wistfully said and reached a hand forward to gently stroke her fingers over Emma’s knuckles. “It’s kind of strange. I don’t feel that old yet, but I guess time really is catching up to me.” She blinked and stared down at the fancy, lace table cloth. It was a sensitive subject, mostly because she didn’t want to feel like she was wasting what years she had left, even though it sometimes felt like it. She didn’t have the guts to change anything however, in case it was messed up instead.   

 

With a furrowed brow, Emma stared at her. She was quiet for a few moments, and her tongue darted out to carefully wet her lips. “D o you regret where you’ve ended up ?” was her murmured question when she finally spoke.   

 

Regina quickly shook her head; she did not want Emma to think that she regretted a thing, especially because Emma had been a huge part of her life for many years now. No, she did not regret her journey ;  perhaps she was just sad about the fact that it had not brought her entirely to the  destination  she had hoped. “No, I - I don’t. I mostly like where I’ve ended up now,” she said, eyes still firmly trained on the table. “I mean, do I wish things were slightly different and I had ended up in a loving marriage just like I always dreamt of as a girl? Of course, but...”   

 

Emma didn’t reply to her as Regina trailed off, and it took her a moment to gather enough courage to raise her eyes and meet Emma’s. Once she did, she was surprised by the look on Emma’s face. It was quite unreadable, and Regina gasped, noticing the sheen of wetness in Emma’s gaze, the wet quiver of her voice when she finally spoke.   

 

“You thought you were going to end up in a different place than this?” Emma  questioned  

 

With a nod, Regina straightened her back. “Yes, I,” she paused, swallowing loudly, “yes, I guess I really did.”   

 

With a deep breath, Emma glanced around the room and rolled her shoulders. She was quiet for a moment, but only just so. “Yeah, me too, I guess,” she replied, and she seemed thoughtful. “I wanted that, too.”   

 

Regina didn't know what to say to that. Instead she simply stared at Emma, feeling kind of odd because of the topic of conversation and Emma’s more than strange behaviour. Something was definitely up with her today, but Regina could not put her finger on what it was. Perhaps it was just the entire situation; a  wedding . Lucy’s wedding. It was kind of incredible and all really incomprehensible, because she was their granddaughter, and she had found love, and perhaps they’d even get to meet her kids one day, assuming she decided to have some. One could never really be sure with Lucy.   

 

Emma took in a deep breath suddenly, her shoulders tense. It was clear that she wanted to say something else, and Regina bit her lip to keep herself from smiling over her thinly veiled panic.  

 

“So, Regina,” she finally begun; softly, tentatively – almost nervously. “I was thinking that, uh, if you want to that is, if maybe we could-”  

 

But her speech was cut off by the band as they moved to announce Lucy and Diego’s entrance. Regina wasn’t sure what Emma had been about to say – it had sure felt like something big – but now Emma turned her head to watch their granddaughter, and Regina followed suit. Lucy looked beautiful in her gown as she moved through the decorated gymnasium, and Diego was absolutely handsome in his tux.   

 

The shared smiles on their faces though, whenever they looked at each other, bathed in the beautiful light – that was the thing that got to Regina the most. Those smiles were  stunning.  Regina recognised Lucy’s lovestruck expression however, recognised it from her own face where it was mirrored whenever she looked at Emma. And that, that was what really worried her.   

 

Without her volition, her eyes strayed from the happy couple and towards Emma instead. She couldn’t help herself, and she knew it was always like that whenever the other woman was near; that was probably why so many people had noticed, and that they were now a part of a ridiculous town wide betting pool. Regina was starting to realise that she was probably not as good as hiding it as she had previously believed herself to be.   

 

But Emma. Emma was  everything . And Regina couldn’t for the life of her figure out what was going on with her today. There was something different about her, something entirely off that was not her usual happy self; she appeared nervous, almost awkward, but then she gasped and grabbed Regina’s hand as Lucy walked past them, and all Regina could think about was Emma’s warm hand around her own.   

 

She was thoroughly screwed, and at this point she had no idea if it was ever going to change. She was honestly also too tired to care.   

Chapter Text

The atmosphere inside the beautifully lit gymnasium was  cozy  and warm; the main lights were dimmed, but there were an abundance of magical lightbulbs floating around the space  and  amongst the tables where the guests were eating and enjoying the party. Emma thought Regina looked pretty in the soft hue of her own magic, and she watched  all through the meal how Regina chatted lovingly with Hope; listened attentively to all of her stories and made sure that she didn’t spill too much on her white, lace dress. She brushed Hope’s dark hair back often, cupped her cheek and  oh’ed  and  ah’ed  in all the right places.   

 

She wasn’t sure how she hadn’t taken notice of it before, but Emma’s heart clenched inside of her chest as she watched her. She actually couldn’t even determine if it was painful or wonderful, but it  clenched.  Watching Regina, it churned inside of her stomach, and her heart beat, and her skin tingled, and  how had she not noticed before  

 

Regina. Regina was thinking about  dating.  Regina was thinking about dating and it did  not  sit well with Emma.   

 

Why did it not sit well with Emma?   

 

The churning inside of her told her one thing, but then again, she wasn’t quite sure if she was too oblivious to read it correctly.   

 

Regina looked so beautiful today, too. Emma felt like she had told her too many times already, yet the words were constantly on her tongue as she watched her. It wasn’t even the dress that suited her so beautifully; the fabric hung around her chest and stretched over her slight belly, and Emma suddenly longed to reach out and brush her hand across her knee, longed to touch her gently and lean closer. But then she paused, wondering. Was this longing new or had it been there all along?  

 

No, it wasn’t just the dress. It was the way Regina appeared to be so unbelievably  happy.  Her smile was so bright, her eyes glistening, and she just  shone.   

 

Suddenly, Regina’s hand crept closer to rest upon her knee as she gave it a light squeeze. “You’re staring,” she murmured out of the corner of her mouth. She was still focusing on Hope’s story, but there was a slight tint to her cheeks. She was —-  blushing.   

 

Emma cleared her throat, not able to tear her eyes away, despite being called out. “Yeah,” she  hoarsely replied  

 

“-and  then  Moana said to me that I  couldn’t  come despite the fact that I’m  totally  good at shooting my bow and arrow!” Hope finished with a sigh. She rolled her eyes and reached for her soda, gulping down the rest of it.  

 

Regina smiled. “Well, you are very skilled, Hope, so perhaps you’ll just have to show her that! Perhaps you could get your grandmother to show you her skills once more?”   

 

Hope hummed as she seemed to think about that, and Emma’s hand somehow found Regina’s on top of her knee. She cupped it, feeling Regina’s twitch beneath her touch, and everything was warm; so, so warm.   

 

“Hope, can you go and get me and Regina a couple of drinks?” Emma asked her daughter.  

 

“Sure!” Hope agreed, and she was off towards the drinks table quickly.  

 

Regina turned in her chair at that, and Emma tried very hard to resist the urge to turn her hand over beneath her own and link their fingers, but she couldn’t help it – she did it anyway, their fingers intertwining, as she refused to meet Regina’s eyes. Her cheeks were flushed, she was sure of it, and she brushed her hair behind her ear.   

 

“Emma,” Regina softly begun, and Emma convinced herself to look up to meet her gaze.   

 

“Yeah?”  

 

“What’s going on with you today?” Regina questioned. Her voice was low, and she sounded so concerned, and of course she cared enough to reach her free hand over and stroke Emma’s arm comfortingly.   

 

Biting her lip, Emma wasn’t sure what to say at all. “Uhm,” she begun, ever so eloquent, “I uh, I was just- you know, because of the wedding, and-” she stopped talking, cursing herself inwardly and furrowing her brow. “I mean, Lucy said that-”  

 

Regina’s brow was furrowed, too. “Lucy said what, dear?”   

 

Emma’s heart fluttered at the term of endearment (and once more, how had she not noticed this before?). She swallowed loudly. “Just that…”  That you were looking for a date today. That you might want it to be a woman. That you’re maybe ready to find someone to be with.  Nevermind .”   

 

Someone clinked their glass, and they turned their eyes upwards to find Lucy at the small stage, in front of the microphone.   

 

“We’ll talk later,” Regina murmured, giving Emma’s hand one more squeeze. It was clear that she was not ready to drop the subject yet, because she had that determined – yet curious and slightly worried – look on her face that Emma was so familiar with. She had been receiving it ever since she and Regina had started to become friends – so a lot of years, now.   

 

She offered Regina a meek smile (because she wasn’t sure she wanted to talk later, because what on earth was she going to say?), and they turned their attention towards Lucy. She was shining in her wedding dress, traditionally white with laces, and she was even wearing high heels for the occasion. She looked beautiful, and Emma had never been prouder of her. Of course, she might get another grandchild from Hope one day, but that was years in the future, and as Emma was suddenly beginning to be very aware of – she wasn’t getting any younger. Neither was Regina, which was exactly why the other woman was starting to look for someone to spend the rest of her life with, apparently.   

 

Lucy eyed them all. “Hi! I just wanted to give a quick thanks to everyone for coming today, before we continue on with dessert.” She patted her stomach for show, having inherited Emma and Henry’s insatiable hunger. “It’s been really great so far, and I hope you’ll all join me on the dance floor later.” She made a goofy dance move, which caused people to laugh. “Anyway, I married Diego today,” she continued and stared down at him with a happy sigh, “but it wasn’t always apparent that he and I were going to end up here. We fought so much when we met in school. We hated each other, and it was not in the cards for us.”   

 

Emma remembered those first years vividly. Lucy would call home from nursing school to complain about a boy in her class; talk about how annoying he was, and how much she hated his guts. But then when she and Regina took Hope for a trip to visit Lucy for the weekend, they met Diego, and it was an entirely different vibe that Emma got from their relationship. And if she wasn’t right, a few months after that, Lucy was suddenly telling different stories about Diego.  

 

“But then I thought about my grandparents,” Lucy continued, and suddenly her attention was turned towards Regina and Emma’s table, where Hope now poked Emma in the arm as if to tell her  she’s talking about you! “ And uh, if there’s one thing I’ve learned from Emma and Regina, it’s that a love that’s worth it.... it doesn’t come easy.” She shook her head, and it seemed like she was tearing up a little bit. “It sneaks up on you, and you don’t always know it’s love before later, because it just comes crawling.”   

 

Emma shifted in her seat, suddenly feeling very on the spot. She knew Lucy could easily be talking about the love she and Regina had in their friendship – how they had fought so hard and long to get where they were today – but it sure felt like she was talking about something more. Emma glanced towards Regina again, and she could see her jaw working beneath her skin, and Emma realised she probably wasn’t the only one who was feeling a little on the spot right now.   

 

“It’s best to be with someone who understands and holds dear every part of you,” Lucy softly continued, and her voice took on a hoarseness, as if she was getting slightly emotional. “And that’s what made me sure about Diego in the end,” she added, as she looked at him, her face one of pure love. “So, thank you, Grandmas, for that.” She finished by raising her glass to cheer them all on.   

 

The dinner quickly continued on, the rest of the party returning to their chats as the dessert was served. Emma picked at hers, not quite hungry enough to eat, although Hope sure did devour hers. Regina ate daintily, and although she wasn’t looking directly at Emma, she kept throwing small glances at her, eyeing her out of the corner of her eye, and Emma was pretty sure that she was going to say something again soon.   

 

Emma just couldn’t eat right now. How could she? A week ago, she had been  fine.  She had been working and taking care of Hope and coming to dinner at Regina’s place, and everything had been  fine.  But then Lucy had to open her mouth and suggest that Regina was looking for a  partner.  That Regina wasn’t happy with the way things were, and for some reason that just  hurt.  Sure, Emma missed a relationship, too, but honestly, what she missed the most was the  sex  (and she was taking care of her needs by herself, so it was manageable), because the rest of it? The closeness, the warmth, the companionship... she had that with Regina. And she was maybe starting to realise that the reason she wasn’t eager to find someone else was because she was  happy  having all of those things with Regina.   

 

She eyed her best friend and co-parent, the person she trusted most in the world, and all she felt inside of her was pure  warmth.  Regina was all of those things and so much more, and  what  was Emma going to do? Every time she tried to open her mouth to say something, to let Regina know, she chickened out and couldn’t get the words across her lips. And that was even – that was even though she had a feeling that Regina wouldn’t even  mind.   

 

“Emma,” Regina said again, this time turning her attention towards her, “ what  is going on?”   

 

With a beating heart, Emma met her eyes. Perhaps today was not the day to say all of these things. Perhaps today was not the day to change everything that they both knew and enjoyed. She might have just noticed exactly what Regina was to her, but perhaps she should wait it out. Perhaps she should be certain that she even wanted to change everything, because what if it ended up ruined instead?   

 

She offered Regina a soft smile. “Don’t worry about it,” she promised, “we’ll talk about it tomorrow or the next day.”   

 

It looked like Regina wanted to argue that point – and honestly, who could blame her; Emma had been acting weird all day – but she turned to finish her dessert instead. Her lips twitched, her jaw worked, and the words were right on her mouth, but she kept them inside.   

 

“And now,” the band announced into the microphone, “I invite all fathers to dance with their daughters. Starting with our bride and her dad, of course.”   

 

Emma should have been entirely focused on the way that Henry moved across the room to get Lucy to join him on the floor at first, but she knew that her son had it handled; what she focused on however, was the way her daughter dropped her fork with trembling lips and hunched shoulders.   

 

She had no father there to dance with her, and Emma hated Hook every day for just leaving to sail the seas. As if he didn’t have a kid that needed and loved him dearly, as if Hope didn’t want her father around; for special occasions, or maybe just for dinner.   

 

“Baby,” Emma cooed and reached over to gently cup Hope’s cheek. “If your father was here, I know he’d love to dance with you.”   

 

Hope met her gaze, eyes shining with tears. “But he’s not here, he’s never here!” she cried, and suddenly the tears were trailing down her cheeks.   

 

Emma felt herself choke up and she quickly met Regina’s eyes, panic rising in her throat. “Well, munchkin,” she added, turning back to Hope, “how about I dance with you?”   

 

“You’re my mom!” Hope cried in a whine, “It’s not the mother-daughter dance!”   

 

Well, she’s got me on that,  Emma mused. “Do you want to go outside and get some fresh air meanwhile?” she suggested instead, because if she couldn’t soothe Hope’s pain and offer something else, she might as well get her away from the sight entirely. She knew that Lucy and Henry wouldn’t mind; they loathed Hook for how he had just abandoned them, too.   

 

Nodding, Hope pushed her chair back, and Emma reached for a napkin to be able to dry her face. But before they even managed to get up, Regina had kneeled down in front of Hope, offering out her hand. Emma froze on her chair, watching with baited breath.  

 

“I know I’m not your father, Hope,” Regina kindly offered, and she reached a thumb out to wipe the tears off Hope’s cheek. “And I’m certainly not your mother,” she added with a dry chuckle. “But I do see you as  family ,”  she  paused, and Hope raised her gaze, hope suddenly present in her eyes at Regina’s words. Regina’s voice cracked slightly as she continued, “-and I’d  love  to have this dance with you.”   

 

Hope’s gaze strayed momentarily from Regina to Emma – who was quick to nod eagerly at her daughter’s hopeful expression - before it turned back to the brunette in front of her, who for all intents and purposes had acted just as much as Hope’s parent as Emma had always done. Hope sniffled. “I’d love to, Regina.”   

 

Regina’s face broke into a huge smile. “Then come here, darling,” she whispered, and Hope’s small hand settled itself safely inside of hers.   

 

They joined the dance floor as the first couple after Henry and Lucy, and everyone cooed. It was just those two dancing couples for a moment – and Emma’s heart swelled watching the four people she cared for the most move slowly together in the spotlight - before others started joining as well. Emma hunched into her chair, her eyes settling on the dancing pair; Hope was smiling brightly again already, grinning unabashedly up at Regina, who was dancing so carefully with her.   

 

And suddenly David was standing in front of her with a sheepish grin and an offering hand.   

 

“Dad,” Emma whined, feeling heat rise on her face. Sure, they were father and daughter, but wasn’t she too old for this.   

 

David laughed. “I insist.”   

 

Emma carefully stood up from her chair and let her father guide her towards the dance floor. She could somehow make out  Snow ’s emotional face as they passed her, but she tried to ignore it and snuggled up to her father instead. Over the years, she’d come to find such comfort in his arms; he, in many ways, understood her much better than her mother ever would, and she rested her head on his shoulder, and closed her eyes. In this instance it was nice to have a father who was her own age – otherwise she wouldn’t have been able to share all these amazing moments with him.   

 

“Enjoying the wedding?” David asked her cheerily as he steered them through the other dancing couples.   

 

“It’s beautiful,” Emma murmured, and when she opened her eyes again, she had a clear view of Regina and Hope once more. They were swinging their arms back and forth as they danced in tune to the music, and Hope had the biggest grin on her face; a smile, Emma was beginning to realise, her daughter had solely reserved for Regina.  

 

David chuckled. “Well, your mother has certainly been an emotional mess.”   

 

Somehow, Emma had not expected otherwise, and she grinned up at him. “Yeah.”   

 

“How’s Regina been?” David softly questioned.   

 

At once, Emma’s eyes landed on Regina and Hope once more. They were still dancing, and Hope looked infinitely happier than she had done ten minutes ago. “Regina’s been... happy. She’s happy that Lucy’s happy.”   

 

David pulled back slightly to meet her eyes. “Are you?”  

 

Pushing her glasses further up the bridge of her nose,  Emma questioned, “Happy for Lucy? Of course.”  

 

“No,” David quickly said, shaking his head slightly. “Just happy?”   

 

Emma swallowed and shrugged her shoulders. “Yeah,” she said, although she could hear how unconvincing she sounded. The look on her father’s face told her that as well, so she buried her head in his shoulder instead, not minding the way  her  glasses were pushe d  all the way into her face.   

 

David swayed them back and forth for a moment, hands warm on her back. “Well,” he softly added, “it’s just... if you weren’t happy... I’d want you to do something about it.”   

 

For the third time in what felt like as many minutes, Emma’s eyes sought out Regina and Hope, and this time – she found Regina staring right back at her as she danced with Hope. Their eyes met for a moment, and Emma felt it all the way into her chest. She  wanted.  How she had not noticed before, she had no idea, but suddenly she understood all of the things that she had never been able to. She wanted, and she wanted  badly.  All of a sudden, there was this longing inside of her chest, and all she could think about was Regina.   

 

Right now, she wanted to wrap her in her arms and dance this dance with her, but it wasn’t just about that. Because, later, she wanted to take her home into bed, make love to her, wake up next to her, and then never, ever sleep apart again. She’d wasted  all  these years not knowing, and suddenly, now that she did – now that she  understood –  the urge was too much to bear.   

 

Emma whined softly, breaking eye contact with Regina as she turned her forehead back to her father’s shoulder.  

 

“Emma,” he softly said, and his hands were gentle as they stroked her hair. “We don’t mind. Nobody minds. We all see the way you look at each other.” He stared at her seriously as she raised her eyes to meet his. “It’s about time. You’ve waited long enough.”   

 

Her chest clenched painfully, and she wasn’t even going to question how her father  knew  because didn’t he always somehow, even before herself, and most importantly - he was  right . If she didn’t do anything, if she waited even longer, their time was running out. Emma suddenly felt this fact, felt it deeply inside of her, and she knew that she had to say something, because otherwise it would be too late.   

 

She felt her heart shake and the ground quake, and her lips trembled as her eyes stung with tears. She met her father’s  gaze . “Really?”   

 

David squeezed her shoulder. “Really,” he confirmed.   

 

But Emma felt he rself pause,  not yet entirely convinced. “But how did you know?” she queried in a murmur. “I didn’t even know.”   

 

With a chuckle, David stroked her back. “We were just waiting for you to be ready, and Emma,” he paused, their eyes meeting affectionately, “I think you finally are.”   

 

Emma thought, too, that maybe she was. Perhaps she had needed the time, perhaps she had been too blind. But Regina was right  there,  and if it wasn’t now, would it ever be? Did she want to spend the rest of her life being merely friends with Regina instead of something so much more? Did she want to play it safe and not try? No, she didn’t want that. Because she  wanted  Regina, with all of her entire being, she  wanted  her. And she was going to have to tell her, because their relationship deserved at least that much.   

 

She didn’t need to say anything, because David’s smile was crooked, and he said, “Now go to her,” and before Emma knew what had happened, he’d pushed her gently towards Regina, and  Snow  had somehow swooped right in to take her daughter’s place in her husband’s arms.   

 

Emma’s legs felt weak and fragile as she walked across the busy dance floor, but as she neared Regina – beautiful, just  beautiful  Regina – she told herself that she had to get it together. If she was going to do this, she’d have to do it with confidence. It was Regina for fuck’s sake, probably the person she trusted the most in the entire world, so why wouldn’t she approach her with confidence? Regina would never react horribly to her; it had been years since they had fought –  really  fought – and all their disagreements were solved amicably or during compromise. Regina no longer wanted to poison her with an apple turnover, and Emma now trusted her with everything she was.   

 

She could do this. She could so totally, freaking, do this.   

 

She pinched Hope slightly on the shoulder as she stopped behind them. Regina looked at her with surprise, and Hope’s lips came out into a pout. “Can I cut in and dance with Regina?” Emma softly questioned her daughter with a smile.   

 

Hope sighed dramatically. “I s’pose,” she  replied , but she stepped backwards all the same, reluctantly letting go of Regina’s hands.   

 

Emma stepped in then, shyly grabbing Regina’s hands and leading them to her shoulders, while Hope was swept away in a three-way silly-dance with Alice and Robin. Emma’s own hands fell to Regina’s sides, and she stepped even closer then, but not as close as she would have really wanted.   

 

“What’s this for?” Regina questioned her. Her cheeks were flushed, and there was a smile on her red-painted lips.   

 

Ducking her head gently, Emma  answered , “’Just wanted to dance with you.”   

 

“Hm,” Regina hummed.   

 

They danced in silence for a moment, the rhythm steady and calm, and they barely moved, somehow drawing closer to each other as they danced. Emma’s fingers were sweaty on Regina’s hips, her heartbeat wild, but she danced with as much confidence as she could muster. She was honestly just happy to have Regina in her arms. She was so beautiful, Emma mused, as they swayed back and forth. Her face was flawless, her tan skin tinted, and she looked stunning, even with the small crow’s feet in the corners of her eyes, the lines on her face that grew more visible as the days passed by. Regina was getting older, too, and Emma felt that more than ever right now. They had a  grandchild  getting  married  today. If that wasn’t a sign of older age, Emma didn’t know what it was.   

 

And gosh, gosh the woman in her arms was beautiful; more beautiful than Emma had ever noticed before, and everything about having Regina in her arms felt absolutely right to Emma. There was no awkwardness, no stiffness, just the feel of Regina’s touch burning through her clo thes  and to her skin. She could bury her face in her greying hair, stroke her back and breathe her in, and everything ached inside at the suddenly realisation that she  loved this woman.  She loved her so much in was almost ineffable. Perhaps she always had. And this, this realisation was too important to keep to herself, not when Regina felt this good in her arms. Everything she wanted was right there in front of her, and it could be hers. It  could.  Even if she hadn’t known how much she wanted it before tonight.  

 

In a sudden rush of desperation and fear  – fear that it might yet still slip through her fingers -  Emma blurted out the only thing she had been able to think of all day. “ I love you, Regina .”   

 

Regina’s breath hitched audibly as she rose her gaze to meet Emma’s. Brown eyes were wide, wrinkles crinkling  around  them, and Emma wasn’t sure what passed through her head at the moment. Regina wet her lips, and eventually replied. “Oh,  Em -ma,” she paused, just slightly less  taken aback , “I love you, too.” Her hands tightened briefly on Emma’s shoulders, before going limper, as if saying those words were the absolute easiest thing in the world.   

 

And, Emma realised, it probably was, because Regina hadn’t understood exactly how Emma  meant  them. It had been clear for years that they loved each other; they had been through too much together not to, and of course Regina would just assume that that was how Emma meant them; that she’d suddenly just decided to speak the unspoken aloud.  Emma shook her head.  “No,”  she  said  and she  wan ted  to eliminate the hint of confusion she could hear in Regina’s voice. “Regina,  no,  I   love  you ,” she  continued, putting emphasis on the word, just to make certain that Regina did not misinterpret.  

 

However, there was a slight pause. “Oh,” Regina said. She sounded, if possible, even more confused. “Well, Emma, I  love  you too,” she continued, now emphasising the word as well, still clearly not understanding the true meaning  at  all. “I’d think that was fairly obvious given everything we’ve been through.”   

 

Emma rested her head on Regina’s shoulder, chuckling softly as she shook her head. She didn’t know why Regina appeared determined to misunderstand her intentions right now, or if she was just covering all her bases so she didn’t say or do anything Emma didn’t mean, but it was amusing and frustrating all the same.  After being oblivious herself for so long, it was kind of cute to watch Regina’s confusion.  

 

Regina froze, their dancing almost at a standstill, as she stroked Emma’s hair gently. “Emma,” she mused, “what... what’s going on?”   

 

Raising her head once more, Emma stared at Regina. Her eyes were glassy , her glasses slightly  smudged ,  as she tried to convey everything that she felt inside, but it was difficult, because why would Regina even assume that  this  was what Emma felt when they had never once discussed it before? Emma had been obtuse for  years,  so naturally it wasn’t the first logical conclusion to come to that Emma was suddenly aware of her own feelings. “Regina,” she seriously started as she drew in a shaky breath. It was now or never. “I don’t - I don’t  just  love you because of  everything we’ve been through ,” Emma softly, lovingly, reassured her. “I  – love you because you are  everything  to me , because I’m -” she paused, almost choking on the word, while it seemed like Regina was finally starting to catch on, “- in love  with you ...”  

 

Breath hitching audibly, Regina’s lips parted in a small gasp, and her thumb – which had been stroking Emma’s bare arm gently – stopped moving all together.   

 

“...because I just realised,” Emma continued, now with a shy, but curious smile on her lips. “I realised that you are and always ha ve  been… everything that I want.”   

 

Regina was silent for a moment. “Oh.”   

 

Emma waited with baited breath, completely frozen on the dance floor, but with Regina safely in her arms as the other guests moved around them in time to the music. The band was  playing a slow love song and everyone was dancing  around them in circles; moving where Emma and Regina stood completely still . Emma could do nothing but look into Regina’s brown eyes while her patience was severely tested; her nerves flared, tingling beneath her skin, or was it something else entirely?   

 

“Oh,” Regina repeated, and  suddenly  her  expression changed  as she searched out Emma, her eyes moving from  one eye to the other as she looked at her . She  appeared  soft, pretty in the  dim lights  of the party, and suddenly her hold on Emma was much tighter than it had been before. Almost as if she was too afraid to let go; as if she did, all of this would disappear from right between her fingers.   

 

Tensing her shoulders, Emma queried, “Oh?” It wasn’t that she wanted to pressure Regina  to   give her a proper  answer, but she’d really like a more coherent response.  It’s not like she hadn’t just put herself on the line or anything.  

 

Warm fingers moved from her upper arm, trailing over pale skin, across an elbow as it left goosebumps in its wake, before it tangled loosely with long fingers. “Come here.”   

 

Before Emma knew what was really happening, she was dragged from the gymnasium towards the small hallway outside that led to the toilets and the exit. Everything was a bit brighter here, not as co s y, but at least there wasn’t a few hundred wedding guests potentially looking in their direction. Safely there, Regina pushed Emma up against the wall. Her back hit the bricks with a dry thud, and Emma groaned. She was nose to nose with Regina, green and brown met in a furious gaze, only shielded by the slight smudge on Emma’s glasses, and she was pretty certain Regina could feel her heart beat straight through her chest.   

 

“Regina?”   

 

“Why this now?” Regina questioned. Her voice was soft, curious, but Emma was pretty sure she looked happy.   

 

She shuffled slightly on her feet. “I just... realised  it  today,” Emma explained. She was almost begging, wanting Regina to understand something that she wasn’t even sure she had words for herself.  

 

Regina deflated slightly, her right hand moving from Emma’s shoulder to cup her cheek. “I felt like you were looking at me differently,” she  whispered , and suddenly there was a smile on her face.  As if she was just now realising what all of this meant.  

 

Emma replied, “I think I just finally saw.”   

 

Another smile, playful and young, moved over Regina’s lips. She gave Emma plenty of time to react, to move, or to say anything at all, as she tucked her chin downwards. Emma didn’t want to though, she sighed happily when their noses brushed, and when Regina hummed against her lips, Emma’s patience got the better of her, and she closed the last bit of distance between them. Regina met her with a smile, their lips meshing, and as Emma got the first taste of her, she was tingling everywhere. Her hands sought out Regina’s hair, her legs shifted, her eyes closed, and Regina was  everywhere.  She could taste her, smell her, feel her, hear her. Regina. It was all Regina, running through her veins, and Emma clutched her tighter, pulling her closer if even possible.   

 

Regina made the softest of sounds against her lips, and Emma grinned, chuckling into the kiss that had barely even had the faintest hint of tongue.  This woman – this woman was everything; she surrounded her,  enthralled her, pulled her inside-out, and Emma was going to  let  her. It just felt wonderful to finally let go.   

 

“Wow,” she murmured as she pulled back, and Regina’s eyes were dazed, clouded over as she stared back at her.   

 

“Emma,” she breathed, her voice hoarse, her lipstick smudged.   

 

Emma opened her mouth to reply to her  – to say what she wasn’t exactly sure -  but someone cleared their throat, and both she and Regina whipped their heads to the side , surprised at getting caught.  Peaking at them, with this head around the corner, was... their son. “Henry!” Emma squeaked instead. However, she did not move in the slightest to distance herself from his other mother.  She wasn’t sure she was able to.  

 

Henry looked amused. He looked like finding his mothers making out in the hallway was something he had very much expected, and he motioned towards the gymnasium. “Ma, what do you say, should Ella and I just take Hope home with us tonight?”   

 

Gaping at him, Emma could get no words out of her mouth.    

 

Henry stared expectantly back at them.   

 

Emma’s head turned slightly over, and she met Regina’s gaze, just centimetres from her own. Regina’s eyes were clouded over with lust, and there was not a doubt in Emma’s mind that they wanted t he  exact same thing right now; to get out of there and be alone, and finally, finally, get to where they needed to be. Regina’s chin jutted downwards in a slight nod, and Emma’s lips curled upwards in a small smile.   

 

Regina cleared her throat  at that, turning to stare at Henry, who was looking too amused for his own good.  “Yes, sweetheart,” she said, and she made no move to step away from Emma either, “that’d be lovely. Your mother and I, we’ll... we’ll be leaving now.”   

 

Emma’s heart fluttered at the prospect of that.   

 

“See you tomorrow!” Henry cheerily replied, and he gave them a dorky thumbs up, before he was back inside the gymnasium and they were left alone in the hallway.   

 

Emma turned to look at Regina with wide eyes. “Did he just-?”  

 

“Support us having intercourse?” Regina questioned, as seriously as someone could in this situation, “I suppose yes.”   

 

“But-” Emma wasn’t sure to what she was objecting.  Their son.   

 

Regina shook her head and gently stroked a thumb across Emma’s lips. “Emma,” she hushed, “forget it.” She smiled instead, stepping slightly closer, her body pressed against Emma’s in a way that made her brain almost short-circuit, “Just take me home.”  

 

Chapter Text

They landed on the repos of the grand stairwell, Emma’s white magic evaporating around them as they found ground beneath their feet. Regina barely had time to think about the awkwardness that might ensue now that their relationship suddenly was different, because Emma’s lips were on hers immediately after. She dropped her purse, vaguely aware of the fact that it latched open and its contents scattered down the stairs.   

 

She gasped into the kiss, tilting towards Emma’s eager hands that wound around her body and raked into her hair. Her heart beat madly, and she wasn’t entirely sure that she really understood what was actually happening right now – that she was kissing Emma, after years of longing to do just that – but instead she just went with it. Regina moaned into the kiss, her own fingers pulling at the fabric of Emma’s dress. She wanted it off, and it could not go fast enough. Now that she knew that Hope was taken care of by her big brother, nothing was stopping her from living out all of the fantasies she had spent years playing out inside of her mind.   

 

“Bedroom,” Emma seriously said as she pulled back. Her warm breath ghosted across Regina’s skin, and suddenly her teeth were nibbling at her jaw, and Regina’s head tilted backwards of its own accord.   

 

With a groan, Regina pulled herself away from Emma’s mouth. She interlaced their fingers and pressed a kiss to the back of Emma’s hand, before she slowly pulled the other woman with her up the staircase. Anticipation and want coursed through her, and the need she felt, so deeply inside of her, spread in waves of heat all over her body. “Emma,” she sighed once more as they stopped by the foot of the bed.   

 

The room was only lit by the moonlight streaming in from outside through the big windows, and Emma looked so, so beautiful; her hair was slightly messed up, traces of lipstick around her lips, and there was nothing but pure lust  behind her black-rimmed glasses . Regina’s heart soared, and her fingers tentatively crawled up Emma’s arms, slowly but surely making their way towards the back where her zipper was nestled. Regina did not want to stop to think too much about this; they’d had many years to think this over, and she was  certain.  If Emma was not certain, Regina was pretty sure she would not have acted on  this  tonight to begin with.   

 

“You’re seriously the most gorgeous woman I have ever known,” Emma  whispered  softly, and she reached forward again, tucking Regina’s body flush to hers, their lips meeting once more.   

 

They kissed languidly, carefully, Regina taking in everything that was Emma as their tongues brushed and their  lips meshed . Her fingers on one hand worked smoothly with the zipper, and the other hand went to trace gently up Emma’s abdomen   towards her breast. She carefully cupped it, and Emma hummed into her mouth, clearly appreciating the touch.   

 

Just the mere feeling of Emma’s breast in her hand, even through the fabric of the dress, sent hotness through Regina’s body, and she squeezed it gently, pleased to feel a nipple standing to attention beneath her touch. The zipper slid downwards slowly, and slender fingers worked to pull straps down pale arms, all the while they kissed, and Regina only reluctantly let go of Emma’s breast to slide the dress all the way down her body.   

 

She was pleased, however, when the dress pooled around Emma’s feet and she came face to face with Emma’s bra-covered breasts, encased in black lace, attractive as Regina had only ever dreamt them to be. Her breath hitched as she stared at them, and only when Emma chuckled, did Regina pull her eyes away from her chest to meet her gaze. “You’re so beautiful,” she whispered, her hand tentatively, tantalisingly brushing over Emma’s chest.   

 

“I’ve got so many  stretchmarks ,” Emma huffed, but she did not appear shy or displeased about it. Her chest was heaving, her skin flushed.  

 

“And they’re beautiful, too,” Regina murmured as she pressed impossibly closer, her lips latching onto Emma’s chest.  

 

The blonde’s breath hitched, and fingers tangled in Regina’s hair as she trailed her lips and tongue across the pale skin. Her hands wound around Emma’s midsection, and everything around her was Emma; she smelled wonderfully, and Regina breathed her in, nuzzling her nose against the lace of Emma’s bra. Emma moaned softly above her, her fingers pulling slightly, and Regina’s hand trailed carefully to unclasp the bra. She was eager to feel Emma even more, to get her closer and taste her. After years of imagining just this, anticipation filled her every pore, and she could hardly slow down herself.   

 

The bra fell open, and suddenly Emma’s breasts were bare. Nosing them, Regina wrapped her mouth around a pink nipple, and Emma’s intake of breath above her said everything.   

 

“Shit, Regina,” Emma hoarsely murmured, and then she forced Regina’s head upwards so their lips could meet in a messy kiss. The blonde guided them backwards, falling onto the bed with Regina on top of her in a mess of limps and slightly dishevelled hair.  It wasn’t as smooth as it probably would have been, had they done this twenty years ago, but Regina found that she didn’t mind that at all.  

 

Regina braced herself against the mattress, their lips never quite breaking apart, and soon enough Emma had messed up her styled hair and was forcing her dress over her head in eager. She grinned as she threw it aside, her green eyes widening slightly as Regina’s chest was exposed to her face . She clumsily reached for her glasses and tucked them aside on the nightstand,  before she grinned even wider.   

 

“C’here,” Emma demanded, and she palmed her breasts from beneath her, while their lips met, their tongues mingling as their breath s  quickened.   

 

Regina moaned into her mouth, closing her eyes as she savoured the moment. Emma felt wonderful beneath her, and as she relaxed slightly, their breasts touched, and she found herself nestled between Emma’s parted thighs. Her own legs were hot in the panty hose, but she could clearly feel Emma’s warm sex through her lace panties. She was down to nothing else, and Regina longed to get her entirely bare, to be able to touch her and taste her; all the things that she had only imagined. Her lips left Emma’s  and made their way across her face, trailing small kisses and leaving small smudges of lipstick and saliva behind. She kissed beneath her ear, which caused Emma to giggle gently, before she continued down her neck, all the while she used one hand to cup Emma’s breast. As she neared a stiff nipple, Regina spent a long time kissing and caressing it, all the while her hand found its way down Emma’s stomach and towards her panties.   

 

They were exactly as wet and hot as Regina had hoped they would be, and she cupped Emma’s sex through them, which caused the blonde woman to hiss and shift her pelvis up in anticipation. Regina smiled, brushing her fingers up and down for good measure.   

 

“Regina, please,” Emma  whined , and Regina was nothing if not eager to please.   

 

She glanced up at Emma then, and as their eyes met, she was blown away by the shear amount of lust she saw in there. “Can I?” she asked, just for good measure, even though she was pretty sure that Emma was definitely consenting right now. Actually, she was pretty sure that Emma would be quite disappointed if she  didn’t  do anything.   

 

Emma tilted her pelvis up once more, and her only reply was a soft moan.   

 

With a grin, Regina sat up on her haunches so she could easily slip the panties down Emma’s body. It took a moment of her handling those long legs, before she was able to throw the panties aside. Regina wasted no time as Emma was finally bare before her; she settled down easily between Emma’s spread and bent legs, taking in the scent of the other woman. Her sex was glistening, and Regina nuzzled her nose against the curls, neatly shaved. Emma’s breath hitched audibly above her, and her fingers tightened around Emma’s thighs.   

 

Tentatively, carefully, Regina swiped her tongue down Emma’s sex, and the appreciative moan she heard was enough to urge her on. Emma tasted wonderfully; tangy just like Regina had thought she would be, and she flicked her tongue eagerly over Emma’s clit, all the while taking in the amazing sounds that were coming from Emma’s mouth.   

 

Emma was an enthusiastic lover, and Regina was never unsure whether she was enjoying it or not. She slipped her tongue through wet folds steadily, before eventually pushing it into her;  back and forth, curling around the other woman, her tongue coated with Emma’s taste. Emma’s legs tensed, and Regina withdrew her mouth to replace it with two fingers. She anticipated that Emma was close now, and she wanted nothing more than to watch the other woman fall apart. Bending over, she used her palm to grind down on Emma’s clit, and within mere seconds, she felt Emma’s walls contract around her.   

 

It was glorious, the way Emma fell apart with her touch. Her mouth was open, her eyes screwed shut, and her thighs tightened around Regina’s hand as she finally let go. Pale breasts protruding, Regina had never seen anything as stunning as this. Emma Swan; bare before her, tousled hair across the pillow and with lipstick smudged across her cheek.   

 

“You’re really good at that,” Emma  revealed , when she was finally able to speak again between huffed breaths.   

 

Regina grinned as she withdrew her fingers; bending forward on the bed, she tucked them into her mouth to get another taste of Emma.   

 

Watching her with rapt attention, Emma’s green eyes didn’t stray. Her cheeks were flushed, and she looked more beautiful than Regina had ever seen her before. “You’re wearing too much clothes,” she casually said. She moved to tuck her hands behind her head.   

 

“These clothes?” Regina questioned with an arched eyebrow. She paused on the bed, on her knees, and motioned down her body.   

 

“Mhm,” Emma simply replied, and Regina carefully slipped off the bed, placing her foot on the frame to roll her panty hose down her calves. She could feel Emma’s warm gaze on her, watching her hungrily, and when she had finally discarded the nylons, she reached behind her back to get rid of the bra as well.  Her body was not what it had been, but for some reason that didn’t matter one bit; not with the way Emma was currently looking at her.   

 

“Better?” she teased, and then she was on all fours again, crawling towards Emma. It was a wonder how her bad back was not a problem right now, but she suspected that she might feel it tomorrow instead.   

 

Emma bit her lip. “Damn,” was her only reply, and then she met Regina’s lips in another kiss. Regina was pretty sure that she’d be able to taste herself on her, and she found that incredibly attractive. Her own hands sought Emma’s hair once more, but her breath hitched in surprise as Emma’s hands came up to cup her breasts.   

 

Regina was incredibly turned on; going down on Emma, finally doing  this  after all these years, it was really doing it for her. She was pretty sure her panties were ruined, but what did it matter, because Emma’s fingers were crawling beneath the elastic band and into her curls.  She gasped, tearing her lips from Emma’s to brace her forehead against the other woman’s shoulder.   

 

Eager fingers sought her out, and Regina was painfully aware of just how wet she was.   

 

Emma moaned at the contact. “You feel so good,” she breathed into Regina’s ear.   

 

Biting her lip, Regina  queried , “Yeah?”   

 

“So fucking good,” Emma continued, and before Regina knew what had happened, she’d been flipped over and was lying on her back, head by the foot of the bed, and Emma hovering above her. Long fingers tucked at her underwear, and Regina lifted her butt to give her some help. Emma grinned as she carelessly tossed them aside. “What do you need?” she asked, but she did not wait for an answer; her fingers were back on Regina’s sex, cupping it, carefully, just barely, touching her clit to keep her on edge.   

 

Regina stared up at her, their eyes meeting as their bodies pressed together. “Just… make love to me, Emma,” she murmured, locking their eyes, letting their noses brush. “Please,” she added.   

 

Something shifted in Emma’s gaze and she clenched her jaw, just as eager fingers entered Regina. The feeling of relief was instant, and Regina moaned aloud, feeling the pressure build immediately. Having Emma this close, finally tasting her, had turned her on beyond anything she had ever tried before, and she was only in need of a few precise strokes from Emma, and she was done for. She closed her eyes, bracing herself for the oncoming orgasm that she felt building rapidly inside of her.   

 

“Hey, look at me,” Emma said then, pulling her attention back, “look at me when you come.”   

 

Regina managed to open her eyes to look straight at Emma again, and the look she saw edged in there – one that was so clearly, irrevocably love – was enough to send her over the edge. “Emma, I’m – I’m coming,” she managed to breathe out, before her entire body tensed, and she felt herself convulse around Emma’s fingers.   

 

Her orgasm was powerful; filled with years of longing for exactly this person to be this close to her, combined with having an orgasm that was not done by her own fingers. It sent her flying, left her breathing and out of air for minutes as her toes curled.  

 

Soothing words and careful whispers pulled her back mere seconds later, and when she opened her eyes, she found Emma lying next to her, smiling goofily at her with a hand tucked beneath her face. “Hi,” she said.   

 

With a huff, Regina swatted her gently. “Hi.”   

 

Emma was quiet for a second, a finger coming out to gently trace across Regina’s parted lips. She looked pensive, so deep in thought that Regina simply let her be for a moment. Her eyes were focused on something else, they were somewhere else, and Regina felt herself calm down and relax into the bed – into this new setting that felt awfully familiar and just right, despite this being the first time it happened – as she herself, got lost in thoughts.   

 

It felt like she had been waiting for this moment for  thirty  years, and at the same time it felt like they were always going to end up right where they were right now. It was  Emma.  It had always been  Emma,  and after tonight’s events, Regina was even more sure of it. They were meant to be, it had just taken them a little while to figure it out.  

 

She cleared her throat and reached upwards, tugging at Emma’s hand to press a kiss to the palm. “What are you thinking?”   

 

When Emma looked at her, Regina was surprised to see that there were tears clouding over the green in her eyes.   

 

“What’s wrong, darling?” Regina quickly questioned, feeling panic rise in her throat. If Emma regretted this – if she regretted  them –  Regina was not sure she could go back to pretending. Not now, not after finally experiencing what it was like to be this close to Emma. She could not go back to  friends,  not after making love, and kisses, and slow dancing to the most beautiful song.   

 

Emma stroked her cheek calmly, her action somehow reassuring Regina that she had nothing to worry about; that Emma was there, to stay. “I feel so stupid,” Emma eventually whispered. Her voice was hoarse, dry, probably in need of some water. If the situation had not been this delicate, Regina would have conjured a bottle from the fridge immediately.   

 

She paused, a soft whisper across her lips. “Stupid? Why do you feel stupid?”   

 

“That I didn’t realise this before fucking  last week ,” Emma moaned, burying her head slightly in the pillow, not meeting Regina’s eyes. “I’m  such  an idiot,” she added, and it was barely audible, because she was speaking right into the fabric. It was almost like Emma was thirty ag ain , goofy and young, because she was acting just like she used to.   

 

Regina huffed, amused. “Yes,” she confirmed, “yes, you are. A beautiful, slow idiot.” Her heart soared, because yes, Emma could probably have picked up on this sooner if she had wanted to, but what was the point when they were there now? She had probably been too comfortable in their friendship, and the way their relationship worked, to even ponder anything else. Regina didn’t blame her – that comfort was exactly why she had not  acted  on her feelings, despite being aware of them.   

 

Emma groaned, but tilted her head sideways to watch her with one eye. It was amusing, to say the least, but she also looked downright beautiful; with messed up hair, smudged make up and bruised lips. “I’m sorry that I’ve been so slow,” she eventually said, teeth digging forward to bite briefly at her lower lip. “I didn’t even fucking stop to  think  that this was an option, I mean,” she paused, looking so, so young, “how could it be.”   

 

Regina reached forward again, her fingers tangling themselves in Emma’s blonde locks as she raked them through. It was difficult not to touch Emma now that she was allowed, and so she indulged herself, seeking comfort – for both herself and for Emma. “I was never in doubt,” she murmured, fond. “I always hoped that we were going to end up right here.” She chuckled dryly, locking her gaze to Emma’s. “I was just hoping for you to catch on.”   

 

Emma stared at her. “Oh.”   

 

“Yes,” Regina added, and then she bent forward to trail her lips gently over Emma’s forehead. The blonde  breathed  beneath her, relishing the touch, and Regina’s fingers begun stroking her shoulder instead. Her hands were on fire, craving the other woman underneath her skin, and everything else was of no matter.   

 

Pulling back, one of Emma’s hands landed on Regina’s thigh, fingers curling in on themselves. “I love you,” she said then, and even though Regina knew that Emma  loved  her, it sent a flutter through her body to hear it. “Regina, I don’t understand how I haven't seen it before, how I haven’t noticed, because you are  everything  to me.”   

 

Pausing, Regina stared down at her, letting herself breathe as Emma spoke.   

 

Absolutely . You’re the person I want to be with when I get home from work, when I spend my weekends, when I go for a walk or watch shitty television,” Emma added, and she seemed almost blown back by this realisation herself; surprised to realise this now that she finally did. “I don’t understand how I didn’t get it, but now I do. I  love  you.”  

 

Fond, Regina stroked a finger across Emma’s cheek to gently cup her face. “Oh Emma,” she whispered, slowly bending forwards, “and I love you.” She then kissed her, lips caressing lips, as everything fell into place.   

 

——-  

 

Hope giggled happily as Henry poured a load of scrambled eggs onto her plate. It was already filled with pancakes and bacon and toasted bread, but she smiled up at him, not at all tired  from the long day before. “Thank you,” she dutifully said, before raising her glass of orange juice to her lips.   

 

Henry pressed a kiss to her forehead. “Anytime, sis,” he said, before slipping onto his own chair and reaching for his cup of coffee.   

 

“When will Ma and Regina wake up?” Hope asked instead, now munching on a forkful of bacon.   

 

“They will probably be downstairs soon,  mija ,” Ella said, and her eyes met Henry’s across the table.  Did you text them?  she carefully mouthed.   

 

Henry gave her a thumbs up. He thought he heard someone stumble around upstairs ten minutes ago, so he was pretty sure that they were awake. However, none of them had answered his texts, so they were in for a surprise when they finally made it downstairs. He was pretty sure Ma was going to be very happy to see the full breakfast table though, and as long as there was coffee, Mom would be pleased, too.   

 

“Gotta show Regina the way you did my hair,” Hope informed them, before she grabbed a piece of melon from the bowl on the table.   

 

Ella smiled, “She’ll love it, I’m sure.”   

 

Henry grinned. “You need anything else, Hope?”   

 

“Nah,” Hope replied with a shrug, just as there were finally sounds of steps coming down the stairs. She peeked up, almost bouncing excitingly in her seat at the mere prospect of Regina. Henry wondered how long it would be before she started being a moody teenager. He reckoned that their moms would have a few good years with her, together, before that happened.   

 

“Oh,” Regina paused in the doorway, quickly cinching her robe around her waist. “You’re here.”   

 

Morning Mom,” Henry greeted her sheepishly, “we made breakfast.”   

 

Hope eyed her. “Come sit with me!”   

 

Regina slipped across the floor, careful on her bare feet, and Henry could tell by the way she was dressed (wearing absolutely nothing underneath that robe, he was sure) that she had not expected company. He only hoped Emma would come downstairs in a t-shirt when she got there. “And coffee,” Regina smiled, thanking Ella as she poured her a cup.   

 
“We did send you a text,” Ella explained apologetically.  

 

Henry was not apologetic at all, because his mothers had obviously had  sex  last night, and although he did not care to think about the details, he was old enough to appreciate just how momentous this was. Especially for his mom, because he could not remember a time when she hadn’t been in love with his ma. “Everything good here?” he questioned, knowingly, just to be sure that Emma had not done anything to mess this up.   

 

Regina reached for a strawberry and eyed him, sceptic. “Everything is just fine, thank you, Henry,” she told him, before sucking the strawberry into her mouth.   

 

She looked happy, Henry noticed, thoroughly so, and all he could think of was  finally.   

 

The door in the hallway was pushed open, and ten seconds later, Lucy and Diego were making their way into the kitchen. They looked happy too, Henry thought, and Diego hurriedly grabbed a piece of toast, while Lucy kissed Ella and Regina hello.   

 

“And now  you’re  here,” Regina commented. She pretended to be grumpy, just like Henry had thought she would, but there was definitely a shimmer of pure happiness right there on her face. No matter how much she wished she’d hide it, she was simply not able to. “Everyone’s here.”   

 

Lucy reached for a glass on the table and held it forward, right in front of her husband’s nose. He dutifully picked up the jug of Mom’s homemade apple juice. “Yes of course. What else should I be doing,  Abuelita ?” She glanced back at her glass, “That’s fine, thank you, honey,” she told Diego, before raising the glass to her lips.   

 

Regina was unamused, and Henry tried to hide his chuckles in his cup of coffee. “Oh, I don’t know,” the older woman said, craning her neck to watch her granddaughter “Spend time in your own home. With your  husband.”  

 

Shrugging, Lucy swallowed the juice. “We’ve got time for that,” she brushed her off, and now there were definitely steps coming down the stairs once more.   

 

Henry mentally braced himself and shared a look with Ella across the table. She looked pretty pleased with these turns of events as well, although she had told Henry that he should have left his mothers alone on this morning. He was glad he hadn’t listened though, not now when Lucy and Diego had decided to show up as well.   

 

Emma paused in the doorway, looking like a deer caught in the headlights. “Oh,” she said, and she started awkwardly tugging at her t-shirt which was one of Henry’s old ones he’d left behind, and therefore way too short. “Everyone’s here,” she said.   

 

“Hello,” Lucy greeted her,  devishly , teasingly, and then had the audacity to wriggle her eyebrows in a very saying manner. As if everyone gathered around that table – except Hope of course – knew exactly what had happened in this house last night and were all very excited to see how it continued to progress. Henry was proud; he’d taught her well. “How is everyone on this fine morning?”  

 

Regina swatted at her granddaughter’s hand. “Everyone is just fine, Lucy, sit down and eat.”   

 

Emma sheepishly slipped across the floor and took a seat next to Hope, effectively hiding her naked thighs beneath the kitchen table. She grabbed a piece of bacon off her daughter's plate. “Why is everyone here?” she asked. She looked happy too, Henry noticed; with a nice colour to her cheeks, although slightly taken aback by the mass of people in the kitchen.   

 

“Such a big night last night,” Lucy said, finally slipping into a seat next to her husband and sipping steadily at her juice. “Had to make sure everything was fine, Grandma Emma.”   

 

Henry grinned into his napkin and locked eyes with Ella across the table. Yeah, they’d really raised that kid right.   

 

Hope stared up at them all, dark eyes round and curious. “A big night?” she asked, “What happened last night?”   

 

Emma and Regina’s eyes met across her head in a slight panic, but they needed not freak out. Henry chuckled and reached for his cup. “The wedding, Hope, remember?”   

 

“Oh,” Hope replied, before returning back to her pancakes.   

 

Regina eyed them all, and it was very clear to Henry that she was entirely onto them. “The wedding, yes,” she confirmed as she reached for her cup of coffee on the table. “To Lucy and Diego,” she cheered.   

 

Everyone followed her example, and Henry clinked his glass with his daughter’s.  

 

“To Lucy and Diego,” he repeated, little sister effectively distracted.  To Mom and Ma,  he added mentally, and he did not miss the way Regina and Emma’s hands slipped together underneath the table, tangling loosely. Nor did he miss the way they shared a secret smile, softer than he had ever seen before, or the way their eyes seemed to hold nothing but pure love and promises.   

 

All was well.   

 

( Except he, along with every other member of town, owed Lucy a big sum of money, because technically,  technically  she had guessed that Regina and Emma would get their asses together in time for the wedding, and she had probably won.   

 

Oh well, the most important thing was the way his mothers were looking at each other. Finally. )