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The Aquarium

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“That’s actually a whale shark. It’s not dangerous to people, in fact, it’s one of the nicest sharks in the sea.”

 

Regina ran frantically into the tropical area of the aquarium to see her son standing next to a security guard who was crouched to his height.

 

“Henry!” The brunette called out as her 5 year old son turned at her voice, running into her arms. The security guard stood and smiled, watching the boy who’d been crying not moments ago find comfort where it was really needed.

 

“Thank you so much.” Regina began, holding her hand out to shake that of the attractive, blonde security guard.

 

“It’s not a problem.” The guard shook Regina’s hand and smiled broadly, flashing perfect, white teeth.

 

“He’s not keen on sharks and he just ran.” Regina found herself explaining for no reason, as the security guard seemed more than happy, in fact, she looked extremely comfortable with little Henry.

 

“Momma, diju know that whale sharks let little fishes ride on their backs when they get tired?” Henry watched the huge creature swim over their heads, eyes fixed and bright.

 

“Really?” Regina asked, looking at the creature herself, then down to Henry’s face. “And who told you that?”

 

“Emma.” Henry replied without looking at his mother.

 

Regina turned back to the security guard, who was overjoyed by Henry’s fascination with the large shark.

 

“I take it you’re Emma?”

 

“Yes ma’am, Emma Swan.” Emma seemed to almost blush at Regina’s eyes on her. “And I take it your name’s not Momma?”

 

“Oh no.” Regina smiled. “I’m Regina… Mills.”

 

“Well I’m glad you and Henry found each other again Regina Mills, enjoy the rest of your day.” Emma winked at Henry, who giggled at the gesture, before getting back to work.

 

***

 

By 5 o’clock, when the aquarium closed, it had begun snowing outside. It wasn’t just a gentle smattering however, but wet, icy wind smacking into Regina and Henry as they exited the front.

 

Regina picked up her son and held him on her hip, wrapping her coat around him to protect his face from the elements as they walked out of the car park towards the station.

 

“Hey!”

 

Regina kept moving, not thinking the call was to her, until it sounded again.

 

“Regina, Henry!” Regina turned around to see the security guard from inside running up to them.

 

“Miss Swan, what are you doing?” Regina was annoyed. She wasn’t in the mood for small talk, it was already below freezing and it was Emma’s fault Henry had insisted on them staying so late to watch the whale shark’s feeding.

 

“How far out did you park?” Emma breathed as she caught up.

 

“We took the train!” Henry piped up. He loved taking the train out of town, it was like an adventure.

 

“Oh god, you can’t walk to and from the station in this weather. Come on, I’ll take you home.” Emma smiled as she blew misty breath into her hands.

 

“You really don’t have to, we’re all the way in Storybrooke.” Regina grimaced as the bitter frost hit her face, she was secretly hoping the blonde would insist.

 

“Storybrooke’s not far. 20 minutes from me, tops, no big. Come on, before we freeze to death.”

 

***

The storm had only picked up as they drove, and once they arrived on Mifflin Street, Storybrooke, it looked like it may turn into a full blown blizzard.

 

“Would you like to come in for some cocoa Miss Swan?” Regina dipped her head back into the security guard’s unheated car.

 

“No, it’s fine, I should get going.” Emma bit her bottom lip. She wanted to say yes, but she knew better than to kid herself. This woman had a kid, a gorgeous kid, and gorgeous eyes… but that wasn’t the point, where there was a kid, there was a dad, where there was a dad, it meant she was straight, or at least a complicated situation.

 

“Emma you can use my Spiderman cup!” Henry squealed from behind his mom.

 

“Are you sure you don’t want to stay? Henry seems to insist.” Regina smiled a crooked little smile, and all her better judgment melted away.

 

“Well I can’t let Henry down.” Emma grinned as she got out of her car and Henry took her hand, pulling her inside.

 

***

 

When the mugs were drained and Henry had fallen asleep on the sofa, Emma thanked Regina and headed to leave. When the brunette opened the front door for her however, they were practically pushed back inside by the gusts of wind and snow whirling in dark night air.

 

“You can’t drive in that.” Regina insisted, pulling Emma in from the cold and shutting the door. “Stay for dinner. It’s just leftover lasagne, but it’s good, and we’ve got plenty, and maybe after, the blizzard will have died down.”

 

Emma knew she couldn’t leave. But it wasn’t because of the blizzard.

 

***

 

“I want Emma to read the story!” Henry cooed as he tugged at Emma’s shirt, pulling her towards the staircase.

 

“Honey, Miss Swan is a guest…” Regina was unnerved by how comfortable Henry was with this woman who was next to a stranger.

 

“I don’t mind, really.” Emma beamed, genuinely excited to spend time with the boy. She loved kids, but hadn’t had the opportunity to spend time with many.

 

“Yay!” Henry called as her pulled Emma with more determination.

 

“You got any Doctor Seuss, kid?” Emma took Henry’s hand from her shirt and took it in her own, marching gladly up to his room behind him.

 

Regina came up when she no longer heard exaggerated shouts of I do not like them Sam I am or giggles from Henry’s room. What she saw when she entered made her heart flutter. Henry was tucked in with his arms tightly wrapped around his bear, while Emma was on the floor, her head resting heavily on the side of the bed. She was holding Henry’s hand.

 

“Miss Swan?” Regina whispered, with no response. She tiptoed up to the sleeping woman and gently shook her.

 

“Miss Swan?”

 

Emma quickly opened her eyes and looked around, completely confused about where she was.

 

“Miss Swan, it’s Regina. You fell asleep.” Regina whispered almost tenderly.

 

Emma looked at Henry sleeping in his bed and smiled, gently pulling her hand away from his before getting up. She followed Regina out of the room and Regina closed Henry’s door.

 

“You can call me Emma, y’know.” Emma laughed as Regina blushed.

 

“Of course.” Regina looked at her shoes as she turned away and led them down the stairs.

 

“The blizzard’s getting worse.” Regina gestured to the TV showing weather updates. “Set in for the night.”

 

The awkward moment between them was thick. They both knew what was next, but neither was really prepared.

 

“You’re welcome to stay in the guest room. Everything’s clean and fresh. I’m sure Henry would love for you to join us for pancakes in the morning. That is, if you’re not working, or…” Regina wasn’t sure how to finish, but Emma saved her.

 

“I’d love to, if it’s not too much trouble.”

 

“Not at all!” Regina smiled, realising she was far too excited for adult company, much less a very attractive woman. “Considering you’re not driving tonight, how about a glass of the best apple cider you’ve ever tasted?”