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of school fairs and secret stares

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“And you’re sure people will pay money to do this?”

Henry nodded, dropping the last apple into the barrel of water. “Trust me.”

Regina rolls her eyes, but helps Henry put up his brightly painted sign. It’s certainly not how she expected to spend her Saturday morning, but Henry wanted to run a stall at the school fair so badly and she was so surprised he had asked for her help, she had agreed instantly. Now, she’s starting to think that it might have been because she had an unlimited supply of apples. However, she decides that whatever Henry’s motivations are, she’s not one to look a gift horse in the mouth.

Soon the residents of Storybrooke begin to trickle into the parking lot, branching off to the different stalls. Archie strolls up, followed by Leroy, who seems to be trying to impress a nun of all people.

By the afternoon, half the population of Storybrooke has dunked their faces into the barrel and Regina is trying to ignore how disgusting the whole thing is when she looks up and sees Emma Swan sauntering up to the small booth. “Hey kid,” she says, ruffling Henry’s hair and glancing at Regina. Since the mayor allowed her back in Henry’s life, Emma has tried her best to stay on her good side..

Under the blonde’s gaze, Regina feels a flutter in her chest. She stands up straight and tries to shake it off, drumming her fingers on the edge of the barrel. “Well Sheriff, are you here just to socialize? Because we are running a stall here.”

Emma grins at the invitation and slaps 5 dollars into Regina’s palm.

Then she weaves her head in and out of the barrel at lightening speed, trying and failing to come up with an apple each time. Regina can’t help but notice the way her tank top falls open ever so slightly as she ducks down, but before she can really appreciate the view, Emma comes up, an apple clenched between her teeth.

Henry perks up. “Hey Emma, can you take me to get a hot dog?”

Regina tries to hide her disappointment. but Emma catches her eye and turns back to Henry. “Why don’t you go with your mom, kid? I’ll look after your stall.”

Regina’s head snaps up and Henry looks confused for a moment before shrugging, “Alright.”

When they return, Emma is leaning back in the shade, her feet propped on the stall and eyes closed. Balancing two hotdogs in one hand, Regina dips her hand into the barrel and splashes the blonde, who almost falls off her chair.

“Good, you’re awake,” Regina says with a smirk. “Here.” She holds out the second hotdog.

“Thanks.” Emma takes it with a smile and moves to leave the tiny stall.“I guess I’ll get out of your hair now. Have fun, you two.”

Regina doesn’t know why she does it, (Later she’ll claim that she didn’t want to have to deal with Henry’s pouting) but she reaches out and takes the Sheriff’s arm before she can disappear into the crowd. “Stay with us.”

Emma looks surprised but returns to the stall, mirroring her son’s ecstatic grin.

A few hours later, the crowd begins to thin and many of the booths are being disassembled. Henry insists on emptying out the barrel, and proceeds to drag it over to a patch of grass behind the booths. Emma laughs and watches as he disappears around the dunk tank. Then, she’s suddenly aware of Regina standing right beside her. She tries to pretend not to notice but it’s impossible with Regina’s complete lack of personal space. So she decides the break the silence that has fallen over them since Henry left.

“Today was fun.”

Regina turns to face her, surprising Emma with the most genuine smile she’s seen since their first encounter. It’s small, and the mayor is clearly trying to hide it but it makes Emma feel butterflies in her stomach. As soon as it it comes, Regina wipes it off her face and looks ahead. “Thank you.”

Emma knows how much stepping back and encouraging Henry’s relationship with Regina means to her. Regina’s long since realized that Emma really just wants to spend time with Henry. It’s the unspoken understanding that they seem to have finally reached. They’re both here for Henry. But every so often, another factor gets thrown into the mix. A hand that lingers too long while being guided out the door. A stare when they think the other isn’t looking. Something that makes them think that maybe their relationship is becoming about more than just raising Henry. This is the thought that crosses Emma’s mind as she reaches out and takes Regina’s hand in hers. To her surprise, Regina doesn’t pull away or kill her. She just intertwines their fingers together.

Both women are so lost in thought that they don’t notice the little boy returning with the empty barrel. Henry ducks behind the booth and grins. If the new pages in his book were true, he’s just gotten one step closer to breaking the curse.