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You and me, Never(land)

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Chapter 1

 

The boat itself is a caricature. Emma looks through the window from the narrow space that serves as dining room and convinces herself that everything is a macabre comedy devised by a drunk scriptwriter with a twisted sense of humour.

Her parents, those two young lovebirds who are almost her age, and from whose cabin came noises she prefers not think about, sleep and eat with her arch enemy, Regina. An Evil Queen who could be considered retired from the position, given recent events. And who also is the stepmother of her son's grandmother, and step-grandmother of Emma herself, Henry's biological mother. Henry... the reason for being all together in a somewhat unstable ship and "lost" in the seas of Neverland...

Because, naturally, the land of Peter Pan and Disney do exist, of course. And Hook directs the helm of the ship while, beside him, the other Henry’s grandfather, a melancholic Gold, try to find the approximate whereabouts of the child. And practically there is no trade of insults and threats, despite being mortal enemies and all.

Emma takes a deep breath, looking for some water. Although she ends with a jug of rum, for lack of any H2O that isn’t salty nor surrounding the vessel. It has been two days of travelling and calm before the storm. They are villains and heroes sharing the same quest, and the last days have blurred the boundaries even further between the good and bad ones. Every one of them seems to be pondering whether is their new role and how to now fit the pieces of a puzzle that for years remained doomed and immovable. Emma takes a drink to the health of a Dark One who is mourning his dead son, whose grandson is kidnapped and has a girlfriend who had to be left behind; of a Captain who ask politely the murderer of his true love which course he thinks they should follow; of two Monarchs without a kingdom that speak of battles, plans and strategies with the woman whose raison d’être was to destroy their lives; of a cruel, twisted and powerful Mayor who remains relegated into a wandering shadow, tight in words and gestures, grim and with such calm demeanour that simulates a false docility. She takes another swing because that trip well worths that and more. Cheers.

If Hook is who most keeps his essence, the one who looks less like a fish out of water, Regina is the polar opposite. To her crestfallen silence is added the almost green her face takes when the sea is most heavy. The advantage is that she is absolved from her shift at the helm. The downside is that she occasionally makes extra hours leaning over the railing, giving back to nature what nature had given her for lunch, dinner or sometimes even for breakfast.

But despite everything, despite the heaving and unsteady steps, she continues to be the Mayor. Quiet, dull and the colour of grass, but Emma knows she is still there, only different. Even Mary Margaret has perceived it. Her parents expected her to fall back on magic to avoid the tossing, sleeping on a mattress as thick as a pencil or for not having to eat only fish, bread and rum. But none of this has led her to move any tiny bit of magic. Among the few words she has said since they have embarked, is that things work differently and she doesn’t want to risk a spell and something going out of control. However, Emma does not need her power to detect she is lying: Gold has not stopped using magic since they got on board for small and medium matters.

Emma admits that every time she watches him, she feels less uncomfortable and more intrigued about everything around the magic. Her defensive instincts are rapidly giving way to an almost childlike curiosity. Also, if she knew how to handle that hint of power within her, she could turn that mild warm rum into a refreshing gin and tonic. Resigned, she heaves a sigh leaning against the table to have an anchor point while she draws the rum to her lips. She has watched Mr Gold drink several of these, and all the drinks were engraved on his eyes with the name of Neal.

She cannot imagine what he must be suffering by the loss of his son for the second time. She has tried to comfort him, to share his sorrow. But Gold would rather focus on finding his grandson and simply smiles joylessly at her and murmurs: "Thank you dearie, I do not think anyone understands me better than you."

Emma resumes drinking to remove taste of guilt from her mouth. It’s fair to say that she misses Neal painfully and does not want to imagine Henry’s life without his father again. But she doubts her sadness reaches anywhere near Gold’s, or resembles the one you feel about a loved one. She drinks again. She is aware of what she said before releasing his hand, but questions why she said it. Swallows another sip of rum. Guilt, sadness, habit... When did she stop loving him?

"Have you left something for others, Miss Swan?"

She doesn’t even hear her arriving.

When that voice reaches her ears, she staggers with the table and her ass almost hits the ground.

"I thought everyone was asleep," she answers to Regina with what little dignity she has left.

"And that's why you thought of raiding the alcohol supplies?"

"I did not..." she replies, leaving her glass on the table. The imperceptible and sneaky smile warns her that the Mayor is teasing her. She doesn’t know if she is responding worse to Regina’s first joke in days or to the longer phrase which she has delivered. She decides to start from scratch, afraid of driving her back to the silence that has prevailed during this trip. "Here, who does not sleep, drinks, Madam Mayor"

The brunette, dressed in her suit pants and silk shirt rolled up because of the heat from the constant good weather in Neverland, studies the proposal two seconds.

"Sounds good." Emma offers her a second glass and they toast out of habit before taking a sip, the two standing face to face. The blonde looks for something to say although is still strange to see this woman as an ally and not as her eternal rival, but she could get used to this rarity and to life being a little more 'simple'.

"How are you doing? Dizziness and nausea..."

"As if my whole body were partying... and had not asked my permission," she replies without a trace of humour, even though her partner finds it hilarious. "I'm getting used to it, but it’s worse at night"

"So that’s why you're awake..."

"Cheers," ratifies Regina, taking a long sip and grimacing at the taste. "And you?"

"Too many things to think about, I can not close my eyes without worries appear jumping fences instead of little sheep," she sighs, leaning back on the table. Regina follows suit and chooses one of the mouldy walls. "But maybe with a couple of drinks and the worries will get drunk and let me sleep..."

"If it works, let me know"

"It isn’t going very well so far..." she confesses, resigned, stirring the contents of her drink, "I think if I did not feel so silly it would be easier." The sigh and the words escape her mouth with an easiness that prevents her to meditate them first. There is something in the alcohol, the situation or the new Regina that causes a calmness that perhaps should worry her. But she doesn’t think about it and continues, "Why did I not see it coming?"

"You are not the only one who can martyr herself with that, Miss Swan. I... should have recognized that damned rugged outsider from day one," she mutters, drinking up the rum like a true pirate.

"What did he have against you to...?" The question, without formalisms, shoots out of her lips but Regina does not seem to notice.

"... Savagely electrocuted? He thinks I killed his father..." she hisses, devoid of any feeling. Emma both eyebrows rise and doesn’t answer, although her gesture says it all. "Believe me, this time, I had nothing to do with it," she adds, seeing only one of the two eyebrows descending. "Oh, for the love of God, father and son showed up in the village four days after Storybrooke was born, excuse me for not wanting to stain my hands with blood so soon." Emma's eyebrows return to their place and the mayor is satisfied.

"Then what happened?"

"I took a fancy to the kid and his tenderness. I wanted them to stay here and it didn’t go well," she summed, leaving the details aside. "They discovered that ‘something was wrong' in the village. On their scape, the son made it out and the father got trapped inside the border" Regina takes a breath and ponder why is she telling a story she hates. Curious and aware, sheriff’s eyes (sometimes reminding her to Henry’s) remind her why. "I tried to find a way to erase their memories to reunite them, but without my magic, fairy dust or anything like that, it took me longer than it should. One night the stupid Ben tried to escape and Graham, along with two other agents, tried to stop him. He was a good climber but, when he reached the border’s line, the new magic barrier repelled him throwing him into the air. They found his body at the end of a small cliff, right where he was buried. Dammed impatient..." Her last words are sputtered with a bad mood that covers up the sadness. "And his son, Owen or Greg, whatever he calls himself, is just as smart... I do not know how I did not recognize him before"

"You weren’t the only one. None of us suspected anything and we let him free way to destroy Storybrooke," she sighs, peering at Regina. "I knew that Tamara was not to be trusted and still I couldn’t anticipate what she would do. We are tied"

"And you didn’t go after her?" she questions, refilling her glass since at the moment she has no intention of sleeping. "I can hardly believe that"

"I mugged her room..." Regina's smile returns triumphant behind the glass of rum. "But I found nothing."

"That should have not stopped you," she huffs with more chastise than intended. Basically she is the Saviour. That was her job, to protect all the characters in story tales from the bad ones, right? Had she not made her own life miserable from day one? That this stuck-up brunette was Neal's fiancée should not make her an exception.

"Excuse me?" Emma's stand loses all trace of calm for a lot more defensive attitude. "I did what I could, but no one believed me. Henry and I sneaked into Neal’s room and..."

Regina follows suit, tensing her body and lip twisted while answering. "Did you take Henry with you? That woman is a murderer! She could have endangered my child!!" she interrupts with a volume close to screaming.

"Our son," she points out, gulping after this strange combination of words. Luckily, Regina takes them puzzled and silent, giving her the chance to keep talking. "And I did not put him in danger. I would never do such a thing." Now is Emma who is about to roar and she does not understand how they have ended this way. None of them do.

"Never? Then what are we doing in this boat, Miss Swan?" The blaming words come out full of anger and the Mayor is unable to stop them, even though she knows they are not true. That she doesn’t blame anyone but herself.

"You dare to blame me for this? You put them on the trail of Storybrooke. You and your hobby of controlling everything and everyone. If you had left them alone, we would not be here!"

"That man is a maniac and he doesn’t work alone. Had it not been him, it’d have been another," she snarls, straightening up and facing her. "Don’t you have that great super power to detect who is lying?" she strikes again between irony and anger. Emma listens, feeling that her blood is dangerously starting to boil while the Mayor keeps shooting. "You should have done something, you ought had gone after them regardless your personal affairs." Her voice low. There is no need to shout while using such a personal tone full of poison.

"Personal affairs?" Emma bristles, closing on her undaunted and in response to Regina’s defiant attitude, "What personal affairs are you talking about? I tried to find out more, but no one believed me, no one was willing to help me except Henry!"

"Why didn’t you come to me?!" Regina answers, now definitely screaming.

"Because I wanted to see what was going on, not end up with a pile of bodies for dinner time!" exclaims angrily. Regina closes her mouth and takes half step back. Both of them breathing rough and troubled, they size each other, evaluating who will strike the next blow. The glasses of rum, on top of the table, have been as forgotten as the comfortable conversation they had begun holding.

"That’s all you think I can do? To kill, right?"

"You had several chances to prove the contrary… And you wasted them all.”

"Chances? Like when you accused me of killing Archie?" she asks, pointing at the woman who is riling her up and unleashing the whirlwind, which has been feasting within her from days.

"I believed in your innocence!" she growls, facing the conceited and obnoxious woman who always seems to be one step ahead and play in a league where she is not even an amateur.

"For how long? Five minutes?!" exclaims sarcastically, cutting the distance between them with an angry stomp.

"Your mother manipulated us. She manipulated everything, Regina. What could we have done?!"

"That's the problem, Miss Swan. The good guys always have excuses and never do anything wrong on purpose. But we, the evil ones, are bad forever, no matter what. You would not have anyone else to blame otherwise."

"It does not work that way, Mayor, that's not true..."

"No? Snow killed my fiancé and my mother, your parents abandoned you and you gave up Henry for adoption. But nothing is your fault." She scowls, assessing the effect of her words. But that vexing sheriff, worthy daughter of her loathsome parents, doesn’t respond. She just purses her lips and holds back, what pisses Regina off even more. "All the pain you cause, all you destroy is for the greater good. I do not know if you are stupid or the smartest, but your actions never do have consequences." Emma burns off the last drops of self-control, blow after blow from the Mayor. What Regina confuses with passive-aggressiveness is, actually, a volcano seconds from exploding. "Always with your happy endings you do not deserve... If you had left town as I suggested, if you had not even appeared at all, everything would be alright. Henry's life would have been much safer and happier. You destroy everything you touch, Miss Swan, including your own so... "

Regina never gets to finish the sentence. The air is removed from her lungs when her back hits violently against the dining room wall. The dull pain and Emma’s forearm against her windpipe take her breath away. The blonde’s eyes, a few millimetres from hers, are ramming with the most dangerous look she has ever addressed her with.

"SHUT UP!" There is no room for formalities, just to fury. She is out of her wits and doesn’t think, just acts. She wants her to stop talking. She wants to cause the same pain the other is causing, to wreck her and, at the same time, she wants to flee… she doesn’t know what she wants. "Shut the hell up if you don’t want..."

"If I don’t want to what, Sheriff?" she asks with the thread of voice that escapes her constricted throat. She tries to resist, but Emma's other hand twists the arm to keep her very still. A technique worthy of a professional. Regina smiles with her most saucy pose and hiss without dropping her gaze. She feels more alive than in all the lasts days. Years, even. "Come on, we've been here before. Don’t hold back, show me what you are capable of," she orders in a bark that sparks the blonde’s insides.

And Emma obeys.

There, within millimetres away from her archenemy and out of control, she just obeys and acts. She assaults the Mayor's mouth with an aggressiveness that exceeds the violent shove. That hurts even more than the forearm still stuck in the throat. Emma bites more than kiss, and does not stop until she notices the metallic taste of blood. She licks brazenly the mayor’s lip but, before been able to claim victory, is the brunette who bites her tongue. She pulls it to her, marking it with her teeth and forcing her to get closer.

Only then Regina releases her prisoner and marks Emma's mouth with her own saliva. A kiss (a real one now) which plays naughty on the border between pleasure and pain. The blonde lets herself go for a second, time enough for Regina to get Emma off her and turn tables. The clash between the blonde’s back and the wood of the boat sounds painful, but she utters no groan. The mouth of the Evil Queen stops them. As a reflex, she grabs Regina’s nape. When her fingers sink into short dark locks, she doesn’t try to pull her away, but forces more closeness instead. Teeth collide clumsily and they fall apart. Languages found each other and carry that war, concealed as kiss, to another level. Another crazier, more aggravating, more furious and, by force, more passionate kiss.

Emma feels the bends of the wood digging into her back and she knows that tomorrow it will hurt, but she is unable to stop. Regina tugs on Emma’s hair, which forces her mouth to open further, and seeks surrender to the wills of her tongue.

Something that doesn’t happen because the queen is a natural-born fighter, a survivor. She confronts her, exploring every corner of that unknown mouth while trying to convey some oxygen to her brain cells. She is kissing (kissing!) Emma Swan-Charming and struggles to stop, to want to stop her, to find out how the hell to stop this and do it right damn now. But her hands remained by either side of her enemy’s face, and she tries to not move them from there. Maybe if she relies on them, if she uses all her strength and concentrates she could get away...

In that gleam of hesitation she lets her guard down, and Emma saucily bites her mouth, daring her. That brainless, insolent woman plays with fire without knowing she is facing a dragon. She grabs her waist and pulls her by the shoulder until they close distances. She rams her body nailing it once again against the wall, where it belongs. And that's when she listens. She moans, a mix between gasp and moan and if Regina had to specify the tipping point where everything went haywire, that would be the one.

She tries to submit her again, to wrest more sounds so similar to a plea, and she tries in a more creative way. She kisses her neck, if it is tolerable to call that use of lips, tongue and teeth in particular, kissing. A slow, wet and intoxicating torture Regina knows she has to stop. There are a thousand reasons to do so, but Emma's hands slipping under his shirt sweep half of them away, and the other five hundred disappear when she notices the roaring pulse of the blonde while licking her jugular.

She is levitating. Literally. They are not romantic or corny metaphors. Emma barely holds herself against her body and moves onward recklessly until the dinner table becomes a painful reality against Regina’s legs. The Queen addresses it with a painful bite to the base of the neck, which raises back again her precious moan.

"Careful," growls Emma in such a hoarse tone that makes her lose all credibility.

"That’s what I say," she gibbers, facing blue eyes, now almost grey. Anger is still there, eye to eye, but to deny sex its starring role right now is ridiculous. That haze which clouds all logic, igniting the senses, and sends all sanity going suicidal overboard.

If she could think, Regina would not be digging her nails into those shoulders, nor kissing the bruised lips of Emma. She would be wondering what is she doing, panting in the arms of a woman. If Emma would remain lucid, she would be arguing with the ruthless Mayor slash "Evil Queen" and not surrounding her waist. If they could reason, they would not be stumbling down the dark hallway of the cabins, but politely wishing each other good night and disappearing behind each of their room doors. But who cares about "would"?

Emma tries to keep going down the hall but is dragged by a meddling hand that wanders down her jeans and pulls her towards the first door. She knows it connects with Regina’s dorm, if those dwellings without windows and half-a-bed can be considered such a thing, and let’s herself be carried away. She agrees to play downfield but in return retains the Mayor against the door when she tries to turn the knob. She sneaks her leg between hers and presses deliberately. The back of the brunette arches towards that rubbing pressure and Emma is rewarded with the first and guttural sound from Regina, who forgets even about turning the knob.

"Your Highness," she mocks, licking her lobe and opening the door, she slips a hand behind Regina’s body. Before the door is closed with the two women inside, the brunette’s voice has already replied.

"Let me make an educated guess… this is not your first encounter with a woman." She succeeds in making something so proper to sound irresistibly dirty and Emma does not repress a lopsided smile.

"Even in this situation, Mayor, you're the last person on the face of the earth that I would explain my sexual history to" she ironizes, moving her hips against Regina.

"There is a good girl..." she groans haughty but imitating her thrusts "... when you do not forget good manners and mind your place"

"Always..." she growls fiddling with the small buttons of Regina’s shirt and covering the impertinent mouth which seems to be waiting for her. She keeps up her sleeve a slow, deep and almost suffocating kiss that distracts the attention from her trembling fingers and their struggle to vanish the damn garment.

The fabric slips down to the floor with a calm that collides with the sudden and curious movements of the two women. Emma disposes of her pants’ button with a not so gentle tug that increases the pace of the kiss and Regina traces her index finger along the sheriff’s chest. Following the path of the Queen’s finger, she watches how the fabric burns in its path, warming her skin and splitting unceremoniously her shirt. She wants to snarl annoyed but the audacity of Regina alters something inside of her, well below her belly, and she decides to close the mouth and sighs tightly.

"Using magic?" she rumbles against her chin, nibbling the soft skin.

"Sure, Miss Swan. Now I'm one of the good guys, I just use it against whoever misbehaves," she answers cheekily, searching her lips. The coarse whining made by the blonde rumbles in Regina, who grabs her waist smiling delighted.

Emma does not know what the hell she will dress in the next day, but what does it matter? Regina fingers are travelling her hips, ripping and clawing her pants and she has never wanted so badly to be bad to the bone. Her legs, bare now, want to be dressed again, but with Regina’s skin. She devours her arch enemy lips one last time, paying special attention to the luscious scar, and down her throat, her collarbone and cleavage. She evades the Mayor’s tantalizing, black bra, promising herself that she’ll take care of it soon enough, and bites firmly the belly in front of her.

"Oh, yes...!" Regina pants, swinging her hips involuntarily and trying to hold back when the moan has already resonated throughout the room. The almost pleasant silence of the boat is now turning against them and both take notice of it. Emma gets rid of her pants carelessly and drags Regina’s underwear down with them. She returns to the heated face, panting with her and dropping her panties, which she was still holding.

"We’ll have to be very quiet," she moans cunningly, licking the long neck of the brunette until she gets lost behind her ear. Regina moves her hands, but does land them on her although every inch of Emma’s skin demands to be touched. The blonde bites the fleshy lobe and watches as a faint purple haze, following the brunette’s hands, traces the room until disappearing.

"Now you can make all the noise you desire, Miss Swan"

"I leave it to your hands" She mutters mischievous, running her fingers over the firm backside of Regina to explain herself better. The brunette moans freely at her words and decides to get to work pulling at the waistband of Emma’s underwear, roughly, until it snaps her. The way of moving, of touching, of talking, of provoking her... Every time she’s more certain bout the fact that, what for her is an exciting novelty, for Emma is something she is far from a novice at.

Despite the annoying barrier both their bras are, the first contact of both without clothes is almost devastating. Regina pants against Emma’s diligent mouth and the two bodies merge in unbearable heat. No, this cannot be provoked by an inexperienced newbe she mentally moans, shuddering and feeling an uncomfortable tingle wandering her gut. Before she can even consider what is it, Emma's hands pull from her nape and butt, erasing any worries from her mind that isn’t her body joined to hers. She wants all of it, naked and only for her. There's something about that intimacy, in that unprecedented vulnerability in Emma that makes everything irresistible. Her fingers are lost along the sinuous back, looking for the hook of the last cloth standing. She pulls once at the piece, and a second time, but Emma's tongue is caressing each corner of her mouth and she can’t focus. She tries a third time, without really expecting it to work if the body in front of her keeps swaying against her. Pulling apart ,for air, she sees a playful smile on Emma’s lips.

"Are you laughing at me?" she answers with all the pride she’s able of, being semi naked in front of her great enemy "I know how to unzip mine, I'm not the one who has prior experience with other’s" she adds sharply, making Emma's smile to wide in a laughter oh, so sexy.

"Experience doesn’t matter..." she whispers on Regina’s sensitive lips. She is so lost in the wet and slow way she lets the words out, that she does not notice Emma’s hand sliding in just a second against the hook "... it’s a matter of skill" Before finishing the sentence, the air of the room grazes her breasts and her bra falls abruptly on the floor. Emma regards shamelessly her naked figure until she reaches her lips and then gazes intently into her eyes. "I dare you to do it without magic" She growls, grining, with the huskiest of tones and assaulting her mouth using only her lips. Emma is messing with her, is making fun of her attempts, and yet the blonde’s voice is the most exciting thing she has ever heard. And until she loses all reason, she does not want to stop listening to it... though that may be very soon.

She accepts the implicit mockery and enjoys the kiss, walking backwards, until her trembling knees collide with the mattress. She carelessly draws Emma to her, stepping aside at the last moment and making her to fall not too gracefully face down on the bed.

"What the...?" Her arms are hold over her head and the Queen’s smooth and firm body lays down over hers. She feels her hips and a more than suggestive heat is given off on her butt. She wants to squirm and to face this dangerous and treacherous woman, but Regina kisses against her nape, as she pulls her hair aside, turn the submissive and exposed posture in pleasure. And she doesn’t think about moving an inch. "What are you doing...?" She pants against the pillow, in the wake of a delicate tongue tracing her spine. All her skin shudders with every lick and she moans when Regina’s fingers finally get rid of the damn hook of the bra. The Queen hears a faint laughter against the bed and punishes the smug sheriff by ramming her tempting hips into Emma's backside with a thrust. "Oh God... Remember me to laugh at you more often."

"Always so insolent," she growls with hoarseness roughing her voice and bristling Emma’s hair. The feeling of Regina’s mouth on her kidneys makes her squirm on the sheets and bite her lower lip. The Queen touches the limit of what is tolerable with her teeth and breaks Emma submissive patience. Releasing from her grip, she shoves her body and jolts to come face to face with her. Regina’s flushed cheeks, swollen lips and the twinkle in her eyes put an end to the blonde’s temperance.

She ravishes her adversary's mouth and wraps her in her arms. Their bodies lock and rock, forcing them to moan into each other mouths and Emma strives to caress every curve, crease and corner of Regina. She defends her position, settling on top of her, cornering her body, what leaves her at their mercy. Now it’s she who directs and strolls her tongue in the irresistible hollow of Regina’s clavicle. Also over her shoulders and cleavage. And of course by those perky breasts which welcome her proud and erect.

Surrounding the succulent skin, she licks, kisses and bites the hard dark tip. Regina's neck curves to the harsh attentions and buries her hand in the blond locks, pressing against her. A violent lash shakes her growing excitement and the noises in the bedroom increase. The blonde’s hands dart recklessly to Regina’s centre and her exploring mouth follows the wake of her fingers through the blatant moisture of the mayor. Lips draw abstract shapes on her heaving breasts and her hand opens way unobstructed.

"Ohogodyesss..." she groans out loud, barely pronouncing, but the next pray gets clear in to Emma’s ears "Don’t stop..."

Emma licks her lips and looks defiant at her. It is impossible not to enjoy this. "... Don’t give me ideas…" she breathes, getting back to her mouth and kissing her with all the intensity, saliva and passion she is capable of. Her fingers move to rub her swollen clit and Regina’s hips set the pace. She wants to play and enjoy every moan and spasm she rips from her. But she forgets who she’s talking with. Nails trace her belly scratching softly until they sink between her legs, all the palm down, with a devastating friction. "Hmmmmm... do not stop."

The outburst slips out of control and it sounds like a pray. Regina, between gasps, smirks. She prefers to play with advantage, but to even the score is not a bad idea either.

"I see we understand each other," she replies authoritarian, taking her first steps along Emma’s heat. An irresistible, liquid fire which forces her to close her eyes. The sway of Emma’s body on her hand, seeking every brush, accelerates her own breathing and brusque movements. She has no respite to realize that she is rubbing and getting carried away with a fierce passion more fitting for an inexperienced teenager than in a respectable Mayor.

Emma's fingers slide once again over her soaked folds and she cannot avoid saying her name when she probes her opening. Two fingers go through it slowly, just a little, gauging her reaction. Regina stops her own hand and her face twists, trying to stifle a devastating cry against the fabric of the pillow. By the time Emma’s fingers sink into her, Regina has already forgotten to lavish with caresses the centre of her aggressor, and her hands are reduced to grasp tightly the forearms of the sheriff, regardless of whether the strength is too much or if she will leave her mark as five elongated bruises.

Her body enjoys its particular 4th of July and her skin threatens to turn around where Emma touches. Her neck, exposed to the designs of the mischievous lips, shudders with every bite. Her breasts, served alternately by Emma’s long fingers, are asking for more. And the fingers in her collapse her perception, triggering an orgasm that shuts down any conscious thought and enhance her senses. She shuts her eyes tightly, but could swear she sees lights. The fireworks of Fourth of July...

The only reason her body doesn’t curls, or her hips raises forming an almost right angle, has a name, blonde hair and a most satisfied smile. Emma's body, covering hers, holds her against the mattress and prolongs the spasms that still echo in their anatomy. But the conceit in her smirk does not hide the wheeze that has become her breathing or the crazed rhythm of her heartbeats; Regina does not need to read between the lines.

She swallows heavily, her mouth dry and forces herself to recover, to regain her pretence of being in control. But Emma keeps smiling.

"Is there any problem, Miss Swan?" she challenges, confronting the face millimetres from hers. Her arms, whose force is being recovered gradually, take on Emma’s back, seeking an exact location. Green eyes close when the fingertips of the Mayor reach their destination and keeping her cheeky smile becomes impossible.

"N... none" she moans, losing all her arrogance with barely a sigh, "What... what are you doing to me?"

"You may know about women... but I know about magic" she replies, biting her earlobe. Any nook in her body where Regina wanders, throbs against the mayor's hand and increase her temperature with a delicious heat.

"Regina..." Emma press her lips closed until they turn white, but does her best in looking doubtful. It is this lack of cockiness, that almost helpless question in her eyes and her submissive wait, the Evil Queen’s downfall.

She holds her chin, bites those irresistible lips forcing the blood to run back and pulls back, moving her chin until both are looking at Emma's arm. There, proudly, is resting the silhouette of what undoubtedly are Regina’s fingerprints branded by fire.

"We don’t want any prying questions, do we?" she questions with her characteristic smirk as if that would make everything clear. For Emma’s comfort, the explanation continues: the Mayor caresses her skin and the burning sensation returns, accelerating her breathing and burning her sensitive skin. She moans again, but forces herself to look, trying to ignore her shaken bloodstream, concentrated on right this moment focussed between that lucky arm and her centre. In the wake of Regina's hand, marks disappear, leaving in its place an extremely tender skin but free from red and purple marks.

"Prying questions..." she repeats, looking stunned at her skin. Regina’s soft, steamy laughter reverberates against her neck, where she deposits full, wet kisses.

"Yes, your back looks like a map..."

"And why would that be?" Emma chokes back, voiceless, reserving her strength to avoid collapsing on the brunette while the exploring magic continues. Regina's right hand wanders over her jugular and warm feeling is repeated once again, testing the resilience of such a sensitive spot. "Hmmmmm... That’s not a blow," she pants impishly, imagining the hands of Regina erasing all traces caused by her teeth and lips.

"No, it was not..." she recognizes, stroking Emma playfully, inch by inch, and compelling her to moan and squirm with every new erased bruise. By the time the sheriff begins to arch against her body for more contact, more touching, more of everything, there is only one brand to erase. The path of Regina’s nails over Emma's belly. She wants to move down tortuously but the hand of the blonde, bossy and demanding, grabs her wrist and pushes her hand boldly to where touch is needed most.

"There are still marks..." she whispers, studying green eyes, their foreheads almost touching.

"Those, anyone will not see them..." she growls, trying to move the other’s wrist again.

"Just in case..." she replies, deliberately flying over her belly and giving off more energy than in any other piece of skin. Her hand charges with electricity by how Emma's body responds instinctively, inviting her magic to bond with hers and to flow as a single stream. So powerful and so innocent, Miss Swan. She leaves the blonde’s firm belly, licking her lips while she sinks her fingers into the tantalizing wetness, but without getting too deep. The blonde opens her legs, forcing an almost uncomfortable posture, but does not remove her eyes from Regina’s hazel ones.

"What are you waiting for...?" Emma asks, blonde locks caught in sweat on her cheek and her voice two octaves lower, but without losing the provocative touch that invites to take up the challenge.

"Don’t you ever shut up?"

"Make me..." she utters with a daring smile. Regina's tongue ensures a moment of silence by touring Emma's mouth with an almost invasive slowness. It doesn’t find resistance but surrender. Now, without the blonde’s annoying voice in the background, her focus turns back to the dripping issue at hand. Without further ado, she introduces two fingers. She gladly swallows the moan that comes from Emma’s depths, the same place where queen’s fingers carry an irresistible dance.

A third finger follows and thumb slides carefully with every thrust over the bulging clit. Emma's body practically dances on Regina’s and there are fewer kisses and more moans. The brunette digs her nails into her smooth derriere until both hips collide, aware that her libido is catching up with her nemesis’. She raises her leg to increase the contact of her thigh against the Emma’s centre while thrusting faster and deeper, fearful of being betrayed by her own arousal. She lifts a hand to Emma’s nape ready to give the final blow.

She devours her mouth and twists her fingers to touch that spot that triggers the flood on her hand and jolts Emma, forcing the hard and tough sheriff to groan against her lips and collapse like a rag doll with her orgasm.

She wraps her arms around Emma’s warm trembling figure, and discards the idea of seeking a blanket to cover themselves with, or could catch fire...

"I have kept quiet..." Emma exhales softly against a nearby ear. Regina stops a guffaw just in time, but her voice lets out a tiny bit of that repressed humour.

"All too brief" she responds sharply, sniffing Emma's hair and distinguishing the characteristic subtle hint between musky and fresh that the sheriff usually leaves in her wake. Before she fills up her lungs with ' Emma eau de toilette ', the blonde head turns towards her. "What?" she asks, feeling uncomfortable and berating herself about that absurd sniffing.

"My magic... Well, could I learn to do... that?" she questions, holding Regina's hand between hers, remembering how the power shoot through her skin and healed every blow.... and every 'non blow’.

"I do not know. Have you already received the letter from Hogwarts, little one?"

"No, Dumbledore" she gush with a lopsided grin "But accept private lessons"

"You have just compared me to a bearded man of about three hundred years old. What makes you believe I will teach you?" She questions recovering her mayor’s sceptical and pedantic voice.

"That I'm dying to try it on you..." she whispers, stroking the neck of Regina and following the mark of the bruise that she caused. The bluntness and security she answers with hits directly the underbelly of the queen.

"You, wanting to learn magic? What would your parents think?" she asks, trying to control her voice, as the rest of her body relish in exciting anarchy.

"Honestly..." she bestows sweet little kisses over the tender lobe before descending down her neck "If my parents see me right now, I don’t think my magical curiosity were their worst concern..."

"Hmm-mmm..." she retorts bluntly, biting her lower lip and turning her face, leaving way to Emma’s journey.

"Regina..." she purrs against her ear and the brunette admits that, to hear her name pronounced in that way, it is very well worth becoming Dumbledore. She seizes the damned hand that grazes the valley between her breasts, teases bristling her skin. She places it on her shoulder, where she feels the throbbing of one of the punches.

"I won’t tell it twice..." she grunts while her outstanding student is distracted biting a tantalizing arm "Your hand... my hand... are mere catalysts. The magic is within you and it’s instinctive, primal... it’s desire. Want something healed? Order it," she groans, lacing her long fingers with Emma’s and letting her magic act as a guide to focus the energy of the other woman. The blonde is a wild whirlwind of power, a hurricane scratching the surface and looking forward to eventually burst. If Emma's hand were not anchored on her shoulder, searing pleasantly her skin and taking any conscious thought from her body, Regina would be overwhelmed by such power.

"Are you doing this or it’s me?" Emma's voice girds the movement of their joined hands that slide tantalizingly towards Regina’s chest.

"Let's say it’s the two of us..." she groans, looking at blond curls that slide licking close to both of their hands on a bulging breast.

"Hmmmm... And without your help I wouldn’t be able to do it?" she asks, lifting her gaze and moving away from the skin she was nibbling.

"Yes, damn impatient sheriff..." she answers, her free hand tangling between the yellow tresses to force her close and back to the task. "However, this is like learning to ride a bicycle, if I let go of you too fast, you won’t walk even two inches alone..." she gasps when Emma understands her demands and bites near the skin of her chest, concentrating at the same time on the powerful feeling of her hand on Regina’s "Hmmmm... like that, easy there... Do you feel it?" Yeah, she does. Emma knows what she is doing, that this intense heat is magic, her magic, and that the tender skin under her hand allows her to heal and mold it. And it's the most amazing feeling she can remember. "And... and there you're on your own... oh yes..." Regina groans, untangling her fingers from the other’s who does not need further guidance or help to leave an almost tangible magic trail. And what magic... She writhes under her attentions, trying to get a hold of herself, but she has forgotten the last time she wasn’t the one licking her own wounds and the addition of Emma’s hand and her kissing is devastating. Healing is infinitely better when another does it.

Her mind recalls the time when her mother did something similar and repaired scratches on a little Regina. But she had usually been the cause, sometimes intentionally frightening the horse the girl was riding, others the punishment of cleaning the kitchen floor for hours because of dirt in any of her stupid dresses. No, this has nothing to do with that... The black and treacherous magic of her mother is a annoying tingling when compared with the electrifying touch of Emma’s innocent white magic.

Regina does not want to think, doesn’t want to remember. What for? She draws Emma’s body close, who caresses her neck and clears the last of the red marks on her skin and kisses her until the taste of the blonde goes to her mouth with an almost narcotic effect.

"You are... a quick learner..." she pants without opening her eyes.

"And I have not finished reciting the lesson yet" she mutters down her throat, kissing her chest and along the fine line of her belly.

"Emma..." It's the first time she says her name with that timber in her voice, with that uneven breath and that arousing huskiness, "I think there are no marks"

"Just in case..." she purrs, mimicking the words of the mayor with the smuggest of smiles and continuing its downward path. 

"Oh yesss... Oh, god, Emma, yes!"


 

Twenty minutes later everything is confusing. Regina’s limbers surround Emma, exhausted. And the blonde, still on top of her, fits snugly skin to skin. The disjointed and violent gasps from before are now deep and quiet breaths, which are slowing down the beating of two women’s hearts. The mayor, with the last remnants of consciousness, believes making out Emma’s voice in the mist of the newly satisfied passion and the fog of sleep calling to them.

"Hogwart does exist?"

Silence... and more silence. "I’ll do as if I haven’t heard that, Miss Swan"

"Why?" she yawns almost done settling down her face between the brunete’s shoulder and neck. Without opening her eyes, she can imagine Regina’s sceptical expression. "I get it. Neverland, yes. Harry Potter, no".

To be continue…

Chapter Text

Chapter  2

Hook’s booming voice, usually torn, low and intentionally controlled, echoes in her ears unsettlingly lilting and sharp. She opens one eye, just one, and her ear sharpens while the rest of her body wakes up more slowly.

"Clear water, clear water..." Yes, definitely Hook. And he goes humming down the aisle of the boat, like a little girl, on his way to the deck. Which is really weird. But not as much as the warmth of another body next to hers, that other scent mixed with her own smell or the brown color of a lock of hair that rests next to her face. Her body wakes up and does the math while she orientates herself with a thump of reality. She isn’t in her room and, of course, she is not alone.

She opens her second eye suddenly. She's lying on Regina, body against body, exactly in the way they lied when they fell exhausted hours earlier. She takes a deep breath trying to remember, to assimilate what now on reflection looks like the craziest thing she’s ever done. Her sudden inhalation pushes Regina’s body imperceptibly but it’s enough for the brunette to open her eyes, out of place and with a numb and strange expression.

Clear and brown eyes make contact recognizing each other and remembering together what happened. Everything. Emma feels red coloring her cheeks and Regina, if not for being newly awakened, would be redder than numb.

Hook's voice coming back down the hallway breaks the awkward moment. Emma, slightly more awake, asks for silence to Regina’s open eyes with her index finger on her own lips. The mayor nods assertively and both of them hear the footsteps get lost in their way to the kitchen.

"We're there... Clear water, clear water"

Until silence reigns the room again, none makes a noise; and Regina is the first one who dares to speak.

"Now." Above of all, concise and direct. Emma nods and gets ready to move, to leave the bed and move away from the mayor’s totally naked body. She tries not to look, to no avail, and she also tries not to blush, without success either. There is no blanket to cover herself with and she is thankful that Regina is subtly inspecting her own hands and nails in detail, providing some privacy.

"What the hell do I get dressed with?" Emma’s angry whisper gets Regina’s attention back. She turns to the saivor covered only by a pillow and has to bite her lips to suppress a smile. The blonde remains in the center of the room, disheveled, in underwear and clutching the shreds of cloth that at some point were her clothes.

"With magic." She hisses, evil.

"You're kidding me, right?" Behind the pillow, Regina shrugs. "How?" She whispers, desperate. "Teach me."

These words send a short-circuit straight to the brunette’s spine, who shifts on the bed. Memories of a sweaty and provocative Emma begging to learn magic shake her entrails and she finds herself clearing her throat to avoid blushing.

"All rise!" Hook’s now controlled booming voice resonates down the aisle, distracting both women and allowing Regina to compose herself. "Wake up!!"

"We have to hurry. Maybe some other time." The brunette whispers snapping her fingers and covering Emma's hand with her distinctive purple fog. When she looks again she’s holding her unscratched shirt and pants.

"Maybe." She replies, getting dressed and coming back to the stark reality of having to sneak out of the Evil Queen’s chambers, where she slept last night. She stumbles with her pants and buttons her shirt in her way to the door.

"Wait." Regina demands, using the sheet as a makeshift dress and slowly approaching to her.

"What?" Emma swallows hard looking down her footsteps.

"You can’t go yet," Regina decides, a few inches away, raising towards her the hand that isn’t holding the white cloth to her chest. The blonde holds her breath and her skin crawls waiting for the other woman’s touch. But it doesn’t come. It slides in the air and surrounds her with its magic. Emma remains straight against the door, waiting without asking. "Better." Regina whispers, stepping back a little to better look at Emma, or the place where blonde’s silhouette should be.

"I'm invisible!"

"Shhhh... just for a minute, lower your voice and don’t waste it," she scolds grasping the doorknob.

"It's amazing!"

"If you stop screaming, Sheriff, I promise to teach you this too, but now shut up!" She orders grumpily sensing Emma’s rogue smile, even if invisible. She peers into the hall and puts her head back into the room. "All clear."

"Great... there I go." She answers before discovering that, without seeing where you are, it’s not that easy to decide where to go. She turns, moves her feet more or less rhythmically and approaches the doorway. Approaching the hallway, she sees Hook striding through it.

She holds her breath but the captain goes straight to her. "Good morning." He purrs. Only then she notices his way of looking at her… as if she wasn’t there. His eyes pierce her because that scoundrel smile is dedicated to Regina.

"Captain." She replies, keeping her composure with much more dignity than Emma. The blonde tries to rush out of there, counting her own way the seconds that should be left to be visible again. She dodges Regina and gets away from Hook as much as possible but the little toe in her invisible left foot collides with the doorframe.

"Aaauuhhmmm..." The groan is barely audible but alerts Hook. However, when she tries to walk away without leaning on the sore toe or squirming in pain she is most offended by Regina’s smirk, who barely contains her laughter.

"Was it you, Your Majesty?"

"Yes... My stomach and the waves haven’t come to friendly terms yet.” She answers calmly, watching from afar Emma’s door opening itself and then closing in complete silence.”

"In that case, you will be happy to know that we are only a few marks aways from our destination. Today we will have lunch on solid ground!" 


 

All six of them surround the dining table looking at an old map representing Neverland. A vast expanse of land surrounded by small islands and an endless ocean. Hook takes the lead and acts as a guide sharing his knowledge about the shadow’s home.

"The outline of the island is all cliffs, caves and rock formations. There are only two beaches: the Pirates Bay and Indian Camp. We docked at the first one, the one I know best. I can’t be sure but they are probably retaining Henry over..." his hook flies over a green spot in the center of the map, which represents some kind of a tropical jungle "... here. This is  where we should head."

"We need to delimit this, it's too vast a spot and very vague. It could take days." Emma protests, discouraged.

"That’s all I can tell you. I left this place long ago, it might have even changed completely.” He admits running his hand through his hair. "In my  times the shadow was nothing more than a creepy being accompanied by a small army of brainwashed brats. They even changed their settlements to avoid problems and so that nobody interfered." He casts his minds back, taking a gulp of his breakfast, a small glass of rum. "They  always moved around the center of the island, the shadow was not very fond of the sea or the life in the islands and caves. Their territory used to range within the Mermaid Lagoon and the Lonely Mountain."

"Emma’s right" Regina resumes, without looking up from the map. " We can’t  waste time going through such a vast territory.” These are the first words she utters during the meeting and Emma silently thanks her support.

"What do you suggest?"

"That we get off the boat and move forward as much as we can today. Tomorrow we will split into three groups and cover all possible area." That’s not a suggestion, it’s ia plan and an order all together, but no one complains. "This is an exploration strategy, not an attack. Owen and Tamara are not alone, it can’t be that difficult to find a clue of their camp or of that damned shadow’s 'army'.” Regina dominates the meeting and no one even considers interrupting this determined and spitting image of the leader she once was. "What will we find on our way to the island’s jungle?"

Hook recovers his voice in time to answer. "The road would be clear until the tableland, where we should rest tonight. It should allow us to notice if someone approaches, and at the same time it would keep us properly concealed by the  bushes and trees in the area." He points to a new spot halfway between the beach and the jungle surroundings,  and everyone nods. "Near our route is the Mermaid Lagoon and the Apache territory, but we can go around them and avoid problems. The indians are peaceful as long as they are not provoked and mermaids usually are ... but there are three men in this expedition and we can’t risk it to find them hungry. From the jungle on, we shall be clueless. My men and I hardly ever went so deep into the island, and it’s possible that nothing remains the same..."

"That's something..." Rumpelstiltskin mutters. "Let's get moving." He adds, with the same subdued tone of voice.

"Will we get to the beach with magic?" Hook asks, facing the dark.

"While it would be very pleasant to make you disappear with some magic words..." he purrs, enjoying the pirate’s palpable discomfort "we can’t move to places we've never known before."

"We will use the boats." Regina sums up, ditching the conversation.

"And each of you will go in a different boat." Emma adds, eyeing the pirate and the imp and trying to sound authoritarian but managing to get a smile from the rest of those present, who even let a cackle slip, which lightens the constantly serious and tense atmosphere. Her eyes meet Regina’s and she’s smug to discover that the brunette too has abandoned her cold demeanor and is laughing sideways with a genuine and authentic smile. "Shall we?" It's a general question but her gaze is now directed to Regina.

"Come on." The mayor answers for all.


The movement of the waves breaking on the shore is much nicer than that shaking the ship before. It’s even relaxing and Regina lets herself be rocked while Hook rows and Emma balances the weight in the center of the small boat. The mayor closes her eyes, taking a break from the relentless Neverland sun and enjoying the sea for the first time in days.

After mornings, afternoons and nights of vomiting and dizziness, this is heaven. She frowns, trying to remember the last time her stomach turned. The last meal she took on the ship hadn’t ended overboard, unlike the previous lunch. She can even remember having slept well. Not much. And with company. But well.

She half opens one eye slyly and watches her boat companion. Emma seems to be enjoying their short walk to shore equally in peace. Regina has tried not to think, to keep her mind occupied with Henry and everything they have to do. But this little interlude in his rescue invites her mind to wander lose and remember why she didn’t vomited last night, why she has slept so well. That same mind that went partying and did nothing to prevent her from committing the biggest blunder of her life: sleeping with Henry’s biological mother, with the Saviour, with the damn Charming’s daughter, with her archenemy par excellence. Among such a surrealist ensemble, the fact that this is another woman is but a mere curiosity.

And now that? A few hours have passed and nothing has changed. Emma acts normal, apart from a very slight limp caused by the blow to the little toe, and she is acting normal. Everything’s normal. As if it never happened. No, worse. As if it was normal that it had happened. She frowns and opens her eyes, all her calmness evaporating through every pore of her skin and disappearing from her.

Emma’s irritating, she’s a damn arrogant and obnoxious pain in the ass, like all Charmings are. And however she has never been able to detest her. Not like she hates her parents, Maleficent or that imp Rumpelstiltskin. It’s true that she had threatened to throw her out of the town, and even to turn her life into hell, but she has never come to keep her word. She enjoyed facing her, having an opponent at her height, a challenge that could shatter her calm and fictitious life. Always with so many reasons to hate her and always so unwilling to do so. Something had gone always wrong, something that didn’t fit.

And now that?! She feels sympathy for the Savior, she’s attracted to her, and what is worse, she’s becoming less able to detest her. Henry will be so happy... She growls herself mentally while looking at the ever closer beach.

She’s seeing problems where none exist. She can’t go back, she can’t wipe Emma’s kisses and bites off her skin; she can neither forget the feeling of surrounding Emma’s body, rolling together and dancing to the rhythm of each other’s intimate caresses. No, she can’t... But she can avoid it happening again. Yes, that she can. The blonde is a very gifted lover and Regina is human and she hasn’t been with anyone since Graham. And no one better than Emma could understand what she’s suffering because of Henry. That’s the explanation. She had let herself be carried away. A normal, one-time thing that won’t be repeated.

She returns her attention to the boat. Behind them, Snow, James and Rumpelstiltskin come paddling several yards behind, laggard so that the imp had time to hide the boat from alien eyes. In her own boat, everything remains in silence and she’s willing to break it just to quiet her mind, to entertain it, and to not let it go spinning and thinking.

"Hook, what about the men of the crew? Can we count on them? "

"Majesty, I would put each of my  men at your disposal without a second thought." He answers while still rowing. "But I'm afraid my crew is now limited to Mr. Smee and that we have left him in Storybrooke. The rest remains on the island, but not alive."

"What happened?" Emma’s question is overshadowed by the way she looks around suddenly worried.

"When I joined Cora I left them behind. In my absence they tried to face the indians. That was so idiotic of them; as I said, they are peaceful provided that..."

"...they are not messed with… yeah. " Emma sighs, a little calmer.

"You let your men to their fate? Without boat, beans or anything?" Regina questions.

“I had a mission and I couldn’t travel with so much baggage." He tries to hold his arrogant boastful pose, but the memory stirs his guts and his face slightly decomposes. "And you, Your Majesty? What happened to your servants when you casted the curse?"

Emma identifies the dagger-like question throwed by Hook, but Regina prefers magic to knives. "I took them all with me, of course, and they kept serving me. But in Storybrooke I called them civil servants. Just to dissimulate." Hook twists his mouth, accepting defeat and Emma's laughter forces the mayor to smile with her. She savors the moment as the captain’s airs go down to sea level and Emma laughs in her support, and she feels encouraged to talk again. "By the way, how did you know this morning that we would arrive in a few hours?"

"Pirate’s gift. Something innate in the real sailors’ blood."

"Oh, I thought it was because you saw the sea changing and turning into clear water, clear water, clear water..." She croons, smirking. James and Snow turn around to better their daughter’s cackles and even Rumpelstiltskin looks puzzled.

"I’d like to keep some dignity when we land, would that be possible?" Hook sighs,pulling a forced smile and paddling faster and faster.

"It depends. How much until that "

"About two minutes."

"I can’t promise anything..." Regina answers with utter honesty. Emma holds a last cackle and Hook, resigned, clicks his tongue and makes a mental note not to ruffle the feathers of the Evil Queen again.


Wearing boots while walking on beach sand that gradually becomes dry grass is not so unpleasant, if you compare that to wearing thick jeans and a long sleeve shirt. Coats, gloves and scarves have been left on the ship, but the clothes they’re wearing are not suitable for the island and its tropical climate. The sweat drop running along the of Emma’s back is the proof. Hook walks ahead leading the group, followed by Rumpelstiltskin, and both seem immune to heat. However, Regina, walking near her left side, and James and Snow, closing the group a few feet behind, are breathing as heavily as she and resort to the canteen with the same frequency.

She has thought about tearing her jeans a little, ripping her sleeves off and manufacturing flip-flops made of bamboo or anything within reach. She has even considered asking Regina for some help or some spell to change her attire, but she hasn’t dare to. First, because despite having used her power last night, Regina once more appears to be reluctant to use any magic at all. She has not even touched her own clothes, although they are just as warm and inadequate as all of the others’.

And second, because there is no way to ask Regina to help her to get rid of her clothes without her face turning tomato red and her legs start trembling. There is no formula that doesn’t sound ambiguous or directly provocative. "I have a problem with my clothes, Regina...", "Would you help me to cut my pants, Regina? But not to rip them off each other but to fight this climate…" "I'm dying of heat, Regina. Can you help me with this shirt?" No, NOTHING sounds good...

The most ridiculous thing is that after everything that had happened, everything that had been said, the next day still left room for embarrassment. How could she have lost control like that? She rubs her forehead remembering every word, every provocation, every moan with queen’s name on her lips. What was she thinking about?! Nothing, of course. Just about Regina, her body, her touch, her kisses ... oh god, her kisses. Stop! Since she had opened her eyes her mind had been divided into two concerns: recovering Henry as soon as possible... and Regina.

Everything is under control. They are acting like adults. It was a one-night stand and it’s done, right? Well, nope. Maybe if it wasn’t something so forbidden and wrong, if Regina wasn’t so hot, if it hadn’t it been one of the most exciting nights of her life ... she wouldn’t be dying for it to happen again and she could take her mind off the Mayor that walks just a step ahead from her... What hadn’t she be behave like a good girl?, she wines to herself. Once the Pandora's Box is open, the damage is done... But it must be closed again. She just has to make an effort and stop thinking about what she did with Regina ... or what they could if they were alone ... We're talking about the Mayor here, Henry's mother, for God's sake, what’s wrong with me?!

Clothes tighten once more and she feels the temperature rising, but can’t assure that the others share this feeling. Sweat makes the fabric to stick and irritate the skin and she can’t stand it any more. What did Regina say about magic? To wish and to order. She closes her eyes, moves her hands a little and thinks, thinks about how much she would like to wear shorts... and moves her hand again. But it doesn’t work. She changes her wrist flick and thinks about a tank top. But no trace of that chill she felt when she stopped the destruction of Storybrooke or when she healed those wounds in soft and tempting skin that…

"Trying to perform some magic, Miss Swan?" She open her eyes suddenly and stops making moves that resemble the Macarena dance too much when she hears the Mayor’s  voice.

"Not at all." She clears her throat, taking her hands into the pockets of her scorching pants. The brunette's look leaves no room for doubt, she has been caught red-handed. She decides that it’s impossible to save her dignity, so well… in for a dime, in for a dollar. "But in the hypothetical case I was trying to change my clothes, how could I do it?"

"Yes, I understand you want a change of style... we’re talking about a total renewal of your wardrobe, right?" She questions with the most innocent of gestures, which is twisted into a smile when Emma narrows her eyes adorably offended. She quickly removes her mind from such adorableness before speaking: "Magic doesn’t work as it does in our land. It's one of the reasons why I try not to resort to it. "

"The other one being Henry, right?" Emma guesses, unaware of the intimate nature of the question until she has already posed it. Regina takes a deep breath and lowers his gaze to the sand they are treading on, and the blonde tries to rectify. "Sorry, it's not my business, I know..." Regina looks for words to answer, but Emma steps in, mortified. She wants to keep talking with Regina and fears that her blunder might make Regina want to divert the conversation or, worse, put an end to it. "What makes magic so different in this island?"

"You can’t create or produce anything spontaneously." She replies, looking at the landscape that surrounds them. "Gold warned me. You can play with the items you have, but not create them, only transform them."

Emma reconstructs the information and nods, agreeing: " You could modify our clothes but no get us new ones.”

"I think so."

"Enough for me..." She jokes, and Regina twists her mouth and raises both her eyebrows, although she can’t help but smiling. "Let me guess: I’ll just have to learn to do it, right?" She questions, resigned, seeing Regina’s smile go full Machiavellian mode. She’s still locked inside her stifling clothes, but at least she’s proud to have been able to fix her slip and not having spoilt their first conversation alone since last night. She hasn’t even thought about the two of them nak... Shit!

Hook turns to the group, putting a halt to their conversation and Emma’s flood of thoughts for a moment. "We take a diversion from here!" Everyone pays attention to the Captain, who abandons the natural path of the road. "Mermaid Lagoon is half a kilometer from here, better to not get closer."

"Are they really that dangerous?" Snow questioned from behind.

"I understand that your husband has already faced one..." the dark haired man sputters, intending to provoke more than to make a statement, but she doesn’t answer. "They are more friendly than the ones in our world and a pair of isolating earplugs would be enough to stay safe from their powerful spell, but we have no time for unnecessary risks. The way over here takes just an hour longer; this is my recommendation." Snow nods silent but polite and Hook assumes he has received approval. "Off we go, then."

"You must be relieved, Sheriff." Regina mutters, taking up the rest of the party’s pace.

"Why?" She questions, puzzled and walking by Regina’s side, wondering what the others could be thinking seeing the two of them exchange more than two words.

"For not having to face that mermaids’ pond, given your lesbian history." Regina mutters, smiling and looking at her over her shoulder to add more intent to her words. Emma's face goes from disbelief to a lopsided and almost... playful... smile. Before Regina gets to analyze Emma’s gestures any further, she gets her answer.

"Trying to worm information out of me again, Majesty?" Emma takes care of even the smallest tinkle of her sarcastic tone, and enjoys when Regina twists her mouth, accepting defeat. "It won’t work. Besides... I guess we both are relieved considering your own incursions into that particular field." Regina holds a resigned smile and merely raises an eyebrow. Checkmate.

"If I had any interest in hearing a womanizer adventures I would be talking with Hook." Regina mumbles, holding herself up without laughing or blushing, as to prevent Emma from showing off at her expense. Or at least, from doing so more than she has already done, Regina admits, defeated but amused.

"In this case, what’s your interest in talking to me?" Emma continues to twist her face and to look directly into the Queen’s narrowed caramel eyes. Two thin lines that are looking at her with offense, shame and humor. And Emma knows that, even if the Queen is not dominating this battle, she’s enjoying this exchange too.

"I’m just making sure that you don’t blow your own hands up while trying to perform magic with the same technique a baby would use to clutch an ax." She quickly answers, forgetting all formalities, being too engrossed in the conversation and focused on winning even one assault.

"In that case... Thank you for your concern for my safety." Emma grins from ear to ear, more mocking than grateful.

"A Charming, for sure..." She growls, bark included, as if it was the greatest of insults. Emma cackles triumphantly and Regina accelerates the pace of her steps.

"Don’t get cross!" Emma asks, loud enough for only Regina hearing it. Listening to her, the brunette smiles biting her lower lip and she cuts speed just slightly. When Emma is walking by her side again, Regina has already recovered her mask of cold indifference. But the blonde still feels her smile in the air and keeps walking beside her, smiling for the two of them.

Snow and James look at each other, a few steps behind them, without understanding what could make both women share so many consecutive sentences and even laugh. But James’ senses detect no danger, nor Snow has a bad hunch, so they leave it be. They’re surely talking about the mission... the brunette thinks. Surely, her husband guesses.

 

To be continued... 

 

Chapter Text

In the morning, Emma was eager to get rid of her pants. By the time they reach the plateau she'd rather not have legs at all. Exhaustion mixes with pain cramps and when she bends her knees she fears they will break. But there will be no rest or truce until they reach the small clearing fixed by Hook. Everyones is exhausted, everyone knows that the others can't carry on either, but there's a pact of silence and endurance, named Henry.

Since the sun began to set, the group discussions have been limited to single words, all forces are rationed with the purpose of reaching the plateau. A plateau that appears after long hours of passing trees, both damp and arid lands and increasingly steep slopes. Emma's sigh of relief and exhaustion resonates as far as on the beach where the boat is anchored.


Dinner consists of berries, stems and the final pieces of dried meat from the ship's pantry; and the shelter, provided by Rumpelstiltskin, is a rough and magically built roof covered by branches and foliage. It's far from a five star accommodation, but it will do.

By the fire, they take the last bites and the first head bumps. The trunk where Hook leans his back on starts supporting his crown too. Snow, meanwhile, rests against her husband's shoulder and the Dark One keeps his eyes open out of sheer stubbornness. Regina, however, remains with her legs straightened but without averting her eyes from the fire, more thoughtful than sleepy. Emma observes them one by one, willing to end this gratuitous torture.

"Time to see how comfy this… three walls 'cottage' is." She pronounces loudly, breaking the evening stillness. Five faces turned towards her and her mother gapes a few times, coming back to herself.

"True, we should rest..." Snow adorns the sentence with a yawn that James admires, dazed, and that makes Regina think of a lion. Not even a lioness. No, a dark haired lion. "Hook, is it necessary to take turns?"

"For precaution." He answers, his voice hoarse. He clears his throat and scratches his forehead. "I'm not worried about humans. Nobody knows we are here and we're not being look for,, but we are surrounded by wildlife."

James nods slowlier than usual and answers at the same speed. "Predators..." He sighs, exhausted. "We can take turns awake two at a time, it will give us time to rest and in pairs we'll keep each other awake." He decides, his voice ever fainter, and yawns. "Who wants to...?".

"I'll take the first turn." Regina answers the unspoken question with a compostura that finds nothing but approval in the sleepy faces around.

"Yes, rest. We'll keep the fire until you relieve us." Now that it's Emma speaking, the other's gestures are a little more hesitant. Except Regina, she just studies her showing no expression.

"Honey, are you sure? It's been a long day... " Snow approaches Emma, still sit by the fire, to gauge their response.

"Sure. Go to sleep and try to regain strength."

"We'll come to replace you in three hours, okay?" James suggests, stroking the blonde's shoulder. Hook looks at Rumpelstiltskin and Rumpelstiltskin looks at Hook and both men deduce at once who their partner on watch that night will be. The Dark One's angry steps barely are barely audible behind the sound of Hook's blasphemies ringing in the air all the way long till all four of them get lost under the wooden shelter.

And then, just the crackle of flames…

"Do you think it's true?"

… and Regina's voice. Emma looks up to face her. The firelight transforms Regina's features and in front of her, the Mayor now shows a reddish skin and her eyes are bright orange.

"What thing?"

"That they don't know we're here." The orange gaze pierces her and Emma knows there's more behind those words.

"Sounds likely..." They go over the events of the past four days, that come back shelled to their memories. They knew we had no beans left and that we had spent a year trapped in Storybrooke. And who would expect Hook would come for us?" She adds, sarcastically and revealing her own disbelief, even if she's sitting on a rock in Neverland thanks to the Captain, precisely. Regina utters a small laugh that comes out half the way and returns her gaze to the fire.

"And Henry?" She whispers while bending her legs, leaning her forearms on her knees and sinking her chin on them. "Does he too believe he's here alone?" She asks, refusing to look at Emma.

The implicit tenderness in her words scratches the blonde's chest painfully and Regina's fear grips her own throat in the form of restrained tears. Emma respects her impassive Mayor aura but takes a seat near her. If this so different Regina needs no comfort, Emma herself does, and she's not afraid to admit it.

"We're talking about Henry here, remember?" Now that the campfire doesn't stand between them, she speaks more softly and contains the tears stinging her eyes. Regina accepts to look at her from her hideout behind her arms. "That kid is damn smart and he always knows everything." She explains with a roughness that soaks Regina and returns to her chest a pleasant warmth she didn't know she had lost. This is a everything's gonna be fine Sheriff Swan style motto, and she wants to keep soaking in it. "Henry knows we're here exactly as we know we will go back home with him, is that clear?"

Regina's arms hide most of her smile, but it's there. She raises a hand to her forehead and says "Yes, Sheriff" and Emma smiles with her. The brunette breathes the smell of the fire. The night dampens everything all around except that sheltered by the little fire, except the two of them. She let the pleasant feeling of comfort warm up her body together with the flames.

"This is not your fault. I never thought so." the brunette mutters, looking at her again. Emma's eyebrows arch, which makes Regina smile. "I know what I said... But I've always been more of a shoot-to-kill person than a thoughtful one." She finishes her confession with eyes back in the flames. Regina has just admitted that she only wanted to hurt her. And, to some extent, she's even apologizing. "If there's to blame..."

"Don't even think about it." Emma's whisper is as delicate as sharp. Not one syllable is tinged by reproach despite having accused her of endangering Henry. Does the Savior think she can go around breaking the rules at will? Regina is the Evil Queen, she's immune to banal words, to the most human and simple comfort gestures and to sentimentality. "They have kidnapped Henry, not you."

She can't hold it no more. Emma's exculpation is a balm that heals and, at the same time, reopens her wounds, reminding her that she's human. Not even her can tolerate so much pain, so much fear of losing her child, without being consumed. Maybe she can break my rules... Regina's response is a small sigh. Small but so wet that it resonates in the air and reaches Emma's ears and entrails. A sigh that smells like tears and pain.

"Hey..." Emma's hand, invasive and yet welcome, caresses her arm. She has never been good at the maudlin moments, never known to behave, she doesn't know how to comfort others... but right now she doesn't remember she doesn't know and she does it. "We have Snow White, Prince Charming, the Dark One, the Evil Queen and a very angry mother with a loaded are unstoppable!"

A Mayor Emma has never seen smiles to her on the verge of laughter from the other side. A frank and honest smile, without the defenses that always surround the perimeter of her personality, devoid of cunning or coldness. Regina, in her eyes, becomes a flesh-and-blood woman with more layers than the Mayor or the Evil Queen.

"What I fear is not to confront them and something... bad happening. What scares me is that nothing happens." She recognizes, shrinking and throwing a piece of wood to the fire. "It tortures me to think that they don't have Henry here, that we're stuck in this island and they have won."

"Rumpel followed his own blood, the same one he shares with Henry, up to here. He's close, I know, and as soon as we come up with that damn shadow we will recover him."

"Are you sure?" This is more a plea than a question. An insecure and fragile swear it to me that wants to be tucked by Emma's confidence until being able to believe fearlessly just like her.

"A very evil queen once told me that good always gets its way, remember? Well, that's your side now; get used to winning." Emma compels her, smirking with her most lovely touch.

Regina smiles with her cornering her fears, but leaves the way clear for other terrifying dreads. Those where Emma is the protagonist. She swallows uncomfortably, accepting that she's looking at the blonde's smile more intently than she should.

"Do you know that your cheesy and overwhelming certainty is maddeningly contagious?" She asks, closing the gap and facing Emma's smile with another one just as wide, but more perverse. This is crazy, a stupidity that will turn against her and she will surely regret, but she needs Emma, she need to kiss her. She can't even begin to imagine how such an idiot desire can turn out into something good, but nobody gets between her and her wishes. Not even herself. And if there are only two roads, to run away or to get lost in her mouth, she opts for the latter.

"I know everything. Whom do you think Henry takes it after?" Emma answers, a few inches closer and with a pride too seductive for Regina's unleashed hormones. It's incredibly insulting that the air still has room to run between them. The Evil Queen doesn't understand what she's waiting for. Until she sees it... Emma gets lost for a second in her lips. It's just a moment, a drop of her eyes, but that's the signal that triggers Regina's predatory instincts.

Emma's collar wrinkles when Regina pulls it and the Sheriff letis herself to be drawn with a malleability that seems rehearsed. "Maddening, Miss Swan, you are maddening."She growls, so close she could bite her.

"And you like it maddening?" Emma insinuates, bringing their foreheads together and devouring with her eyes and boldly the lips she expect to bite her.

"No, but I'm trying to shut you up." She sounds so cold and sharp that when her lips collide with Emma's, she notices the blonde's smile. Damn insolent woman... She clears that smile at a stroke, two licks and a bite. A kiss that calms her thirst and awakes it at the same time. She knows that sooner or later it will end up hurting, but right now she just needs more of it. She pulls the fabric she's still gripping and Emma returns the kiss, letting herself to be carried away until her body meets Regina's heat.

"Well, you're on the right track here." Emma pants, gulping and filling her helpless lungs with air. Regina wants to answer, to have the last word, and opens her mouth to speak. But an expert assault wraps her lips and melts them with a slow and torrentially dangerous kiss. She pulls Emma's neck, forces her to never stop and the blonde's hands decide to get lost around her waist, pulling her even closer.

Regina moans, attacks and defends herself from the kiss with a more overwhelming one. All her skin is at war, bristling and burning, and the fire is no longer a beautiful and bucolic accompaniment. It's a source of heat that threatens to suffocate her, like the heat source scratching her back and closing her hands on her butt.

A first movement of her wrist puts off the flames at once. The second turn of Regina's hand fails to occur. Emma's fingers glide and tangled with hers, stopping the wet kiss and her attempt to make magic.

"What's on your mind?" Emma's deep and strangled voice says more about her state than her feigned self control. Regina enjoys the effect she has on the blonde, trying to forget that she isn't much more composed, and she goes down Emma's neck. She kisses the tender skin eliciting a groan before answering.

"That this..." She smiles and grabs Emma's shirt "... goes out."

"Perfect..." Emma moans at her words and tries with all her might not to jump over the Mayor. "But no magic this time." Regina's eyebrow rises up to her hairline. "Traditional keeps it charming…"

"I don't do traditional." She tries to move her hand again, with the image of Emma's clothes far away from her body fixed in her mind, but the blonde's fingers intertwine harder. Emma shakes her head and smiles innocently. "As you wish, Sheriff." She yields, twists her nose, and Emma's offensive and warm laughter fills the air. She pulls her chin and kisses those smiling lips, invading her mouth and tongue dancing with the maddening Charming. "Traditional shall it be..." She growls, imposing herself over Emma and moving to look at her from above.

The Evil Queen's knees end at Emma's both sides and she practically sits on her lap. A position where distances don't exist and her body shakes with joy against the Savior's. Emma hasn't seen anything more seductive in her life than the image of the Mayor over her showing that passion glow and moving this way. The brunette caresses her neck and goes down to the endless buttons on the Savior's shirt. She gets rid of the first one, kisses her and nibbles her earlobe temptingly. Emma closes her eyes, moves her head to the side, just sighs.

But the pressure of her shirt, which seems to shrink and stick to her body more every moment, doesn't disappear. She looks at those long fingers fiddling and getting rid of the second button, very slowly. Another wet and fleshy kiss on her jugular forces her to squint. But she notices it. Regina's fingers touch the skin next to the button and pull it slowly... so slowly that Emma would rather wear a robe; grandpa style, gray and plush, but as easy to untie as a simple pull.

She gives in and lets Regina untie each button accompanying the move with a sway of her hips over Emma's legs; she lets the exposed skin to be tortured by white teeth and soft lips; she lets Regina's figure meander over her and never finish getting rid of her shirt. She gives in, because every time she's dying to lie her down and carelessly strip herself, Regina comes back to her lips, wipes her mouth and stuns her senses. And Emma moans and gives in, once more.

Kissing Regina is much better than spending all day trying to wipe it out of her mind. And having giving in to her kiss is much smarter to having tried to say no. Why should she say no? She doesn't even remember. Emma just knows that she's unbuttoning the Mayor's shirt, much less patiently, and that the brunette's hands are running all over her back. And playing with the hook of her bra.

"I hope you've been practicing." Emma's joke earns her a sharp bi bit to the edge of her chest.

"Truth is, I haven't..." She pulls the strip and lets it loose in a blow against Emma's skin.

"Ouch!" But she can't help laughing, and Regina's mouth, over her chest, smiles too. "Okay, earned that." She pants, pulling her chin to kiss her. Both shirts open, still on their shoulders and hanging, like Emma's bra, free from its clasp. She looks for Regina's waistband and finds her chest by kissing it. The sound eliciting from her throat doesn't seem human.

She closes her eyes, grits her teeth and subtly invites her to stick to her chest by tangling her fingers in dark locks and pressing her figure against herself. She doesn't notice when they move from sitting to lying on the grass, she notices nothing except for Regina.

And Regina is enjoying as a little girl. Half naked, half on the verge of collapse, but devoted to her task. Devoted to return every mockery devouring a crumpled and tempting nipple and kneading the other breast; to silence each of her concerns with the taste and softness of Emma's skin; to think that if something exceeds what happened last night on the boat, it is to do it again and again.

But she stops thinking. The blonde's throat vibrates with such guttural moan that it runs along Regina's spine. She crawls over her body, both of them shiver, and the skins come together in a mess of half removed clothes and half dying gasps on their lips.

"You're going to scare all the beasts out there hunting." She moans, leaving pecks on her lower lip.

"As long as I don't scare you..." Emma growls, looking for that fits so seductively well with her own. When tongues tangle and dance a tango Emma's head starts to spin, and Regina's do so around those words. A magic spell that hits directly against her chest and warms her body until it concentrates on her lower belly.

"I'm an evil sorceress, it takes more than a few moans."

She lies on her, pulling her neck to force a more languid, wetter and wilder kiss, more like herself. The hand not devoted to the task of provoking every nerve and centimeter of Emma's hair and neck travels over the firm and flat stomach. Without breaking the slow kiss, full of her tongue, where both women's sounds die drowned.

She avoids the waistband of half-unbuttoned pants and sinks without delicacy into those hips that rise to the sky at her touch. Even with the underwear fabric as a barrier she can sense Emma's moist heat. And all calm shown while sticking to 'traditional' disappears. Regina no longer holds herself without coming undone in an orgasm and taking Emma with her. She can't stand it no more and she doesn't see why she has to.

Her hand plunges into the blonde's core. She swallows a loud, outrageous and sensual moaning and gropes her entry without delicacies or preambles. Emma's hips dance in their own and the flood over her fingers is all the signal she needs. Two fingers cross the warm opening and are imprisoned by uncontrolled contractions. Regina enters her a few more times before adding a third finger and licking each corner Emma's mouth.

And the blonde is again forced to give, to respond to that hand and obey to the pleasure that is exquisitely dominating her body and her reasoning. She tries to pull Regina's pants, a last glimmer of logic and strength, before becoming an excited and malleable puppet in the hands of the Mayor. She manages the fabric to go down to her knees. Regina pants when the night wind grazes her skin, but she groans and bites Emma's mouth when the blonde's knee bends and gets between her legs.

She impales herself against her leg, she looks for that tortuous brush that could get to calm her nerves, her blood, her ridiculously runaway palpitations. Everything Emma has caused. So it's only fair that she too is in charge of ending it. Emma's arms wrap around her, touching her everywhere, never being enough. Regina grabs her neck with one hand while plungering the fingers of the other one, deep, fast, intense. Emma's leg responds with the same speed, joining the same prancing rhythm.

They don't break the kiss, they remain a tangle of limbs. Regina thrusts her hip against Emma's leg carelessly, Emma grabs Regina's fingers inside her, and the sounds they both utter when they reach their climax shatter the stillness of the night.

Two entangled, stiff, sweaty bodies. Regina rests her forehead against Emma's with her eyes closed and her body trembling out of control. Emma comes back to herself trying to remember how to breathe. But without letting the brunette go, who collapses and fits against her, by her side, resting on her shoulder, against her neck. Regina tells herself that as soon as he recovers she will move away. Emma wanders aimlessly her fingers on her back and Regina forgets what she was going to do.

"I think I could die from dehydration." Emma's voice sounds more broken than expected due to the lack of saliva, nearing the contralto.

"The canteens are right there." Regina whispers, and she points out the remains of the dinner with a nonchalant movement. Although she really hopes that Emma has no intention to move and go for them.

"I'm just not capable of going." She pants. "I think I could also die of exhaustion" Regina's face leaves the warm shelter that is Emma's neck and turns to look at her. A mocking and incredulous gesture, accompanied by an arched eyebrow. "What? I climbed half an island for hours."

"No!" She feigns a shocked cry. "I made all the way here flying."

"You could have taken me with you..." She whines, displaying a genuine pout. Regina, tongue behind her teeth, tries not to laugh but gives up. She can't with that damn pout.

"Next time, perhaps."

"I know how you could make it up..."

"I'm not invoking those canteens for you, lazy girl" Regina interrupts her, repositioning herself against the curve of her neck.

Emma's voice becomes a suggestive and slow whisper: "What makes you think I meant that?" Regina pulls two inches away to look at her with a smart-ass gesture. "Okay, yes, I meant that..." She growls, knowing she has been caught. "Someday I'll learn to use my magic."

"Someday..." Regina hisses against Emma's tender skin. "What will you do, then?"

"I'll make all canteens of the world come to me." The simplicity of her wish, mixed with the conviction in her words provokes Regina's laughter, followed by Emma's.

The plateau regains its peaceful silence and Emma swears she can hear their breathing, rhythmic like a soft nocturnal melody, much more harmonious than the jungle sounds.

"Do you fear that making magic will turn you evil again?" The question is a buzzing in her ears and itch on her tongue so she ends up leaving it out. Regina sighs and heats the skin next to her jugular, but doesn't answer. "Magic can't do that, not if you don't want it to."

"Maybe it's the other way around, that magic isn't evil itself, but my hands make it be that way." Her words sound accompanied by a resigned laugh. Emma decides at that very moment that she doesn't want to hear something so defeatist from her lips ever again. "I learned to master this power willing to use it to make things right, to fix and not to destroy." She recalls, unwilling and voiceless. "If an innocent girl with good intentions ended subjecting an entire kingdom to her cruel will... imagine what I could do now that I'm not that innocent." She's so sharp in her statement that Emma gets upset at her.

"I don't know... Something as crazy as giving your life in exchange for saving an entire city?" She questions, seeking her eyes and daring her to refute. The laughter Regina lets out that isn't very yet, but at least it's not sadness dressed as laughing. We're improving.

"I keep forgetting how idealistic and dramatic you Charmings are." She mumbles against her neck. Emma smiles, although it's unclear if it's because of the joke or the vibration of Regina's voice against her skin. "It's part of me, I don't deny it. But the magic was also part of the Evil Queen and it's difficult not to feel identified with that title when I turn to it."

"I don't agree with you..." She hears Emma sigh over her hair.

"No one asked you to." She jokes, crossing her gaze with the indigo eyes to make sure her words aren't received as an attack "I just don't want to use magic if there's no need to, that's all."

"But you do use magic with me..." It's a doubt looking like statement. She twists her face and watches Regina.

Because with you I don't feel evil, I don't feel that anything's wrong. Regina down deep, so deep that she engulfs those stupid words and sends them far away from her mouth. "Because you misbehave." She merely answers with a smirk.

"The Evil Mayor told the Saviour." Emma singsongs, imprinting her words with an aura of complete outrage.

"Oh, forgive me, great and gracious Savior." She mutters, peering into her narrowed eyes. "What can I do to apologize?"

The question seems to appeal to Emma. She gives a really happy smile and answers: "I want..."

"... the damn canteen." Regina growls, resigned. Emma nods satisfied and an idea crosses the brunette's mind."It's very basic magic, would you like a little teamwork, Potter?" The blonde's smile grows and lights up when she understands the proposal.

"What do I have to do?"

"It's simple. Close your eyes and concentrate on the canteens." She asks. placing her hand on Emma's stomach, just below his chest. She feel her breathing and the swirl of magic forming with their fingers almost instantly. Emma's an enormous source of power, and she guides it slowly, surprised by the lack of resistance on the blonde's part. "You want them to come to you, to stop being so far away... That's it, a little more... you almost have it." She indicates, with whisper still by her neck and ear, letting both of their magics to work coupled. "And here you have it." She jabbers at full speed.

Emma doesn't know what she notices first: the cold Regina's body leaves when moving away... or the water stream pouring over her. She opens her eyes in shock and a waterfall falls to her face forcing her to close them again.

"What the... ?!" She gets to dry her face in time to see two capless and recumbent canteens lying magically over her head and body.

"You summon them and they come... Didn't you want water?" Emma turns her face towards her, dripping, with her curls glued to her face and the funniest angry look. Regina tries to move further away, but she's still lying on the ground and the laughter shaking her body takes away her strength and speed. Emma's reflexes do the rest. She ends up grabing the brunette's wrist and pulling her. "No, no, get away from me" she demands, still laughing.

But there's no mercy. Emma throws herself over Regina, making sure she doesn't leave a single inch of her skin safe and pressing her against her own body. "No, stop, get off!" Screams mingle with the most tinkling laughter the blonde has ever heard and she can't help but laugh with her and enjoy inflicting a well deserved torture.

Laughter fades moments later but the smiles remain. And they do so in such a way that putting them together looks like the natural next step. Emma stops to contemplate those tempting lips, ever more tempting when smiling, and whispers:

"I'm soaked."

Regina, beneath her and trapped by her weight, rolls her eyes. "And now I am, too! Besides, my pants are down my calves and I feel the cool grass all over my legs." She complains, amused and not moving an inch and stroking her nose against Emma's.

"Karma is fair and wise." She whispers almost against her lips and Regina tries to answer, but something stops her. Emma's patented ways: she leaves Regina with her words trapped in her mouth, kissing her and preventing her from answering. Anyway, the urge to so disappears, providing she can kiss instead of talking.

She groans and croons against Emma's lips, so playful, delicate and bold that they stun her senses. The Sheriff's weight on her ceases to be a prison to become a blessing that she welcomes with open arms, closed eyes and hands buried in her hair.

"Would you be very cold if the rest of your body felt the cool grass too?" Emma keenly asks Emma, biting a fleshy lobe.

Regina acts orderly. First, she pants in the face of the attack, then she bites her lower lip suggestively and finally she tries to answer: "No, no, no... I'm sure I wouldn't… Temperature is wonderful here."

"Great..." She smiles, her voice deep and her intentions heavenly evil. Her hand gets in the gap between Regina's unbuttoned shirt and her shoulder, and her tongue goes down following the natural layout of the brunette's neck. She removes the fabric, covers the exposed skin with kisses, and Regina, her lips pressed, can't but agree with Emma. Great, great, great...

The first time she had sex with Emma was a slip . Wild and uncontrolled. For the second time there's no such excuse. And if they're going for the third round... that's reoffending with malice aforethought. This is no longer a one-time fit of rage or a strange way of comforting each other. This... this ... what is this?

Emma's lips alternate bites and kisses on her jugular and Regina reaches a verdict. This is great... It's not a logical resolution and won't won't be valid for long. But for now it'll have to do, because all that matters currently is to be where she is and discover what else Emma's hands and lips have planned for her.

A noise not emanating either from Emma or herself, nor the nocturnal crickets or the remains of the agonizing fire, slips through her senses. "What was that?"

"What?" Emma's voice is a hoarse and suggestive whisper.

"I heard something." Regina's answer and the tone she uses make Emma react.

"Animals?"

"I don't know... But I haven't heard that before."

The Mayor's doubts are reason enough for the blonde to get on alert. She stretches her arms, and still lying, looks over them, around them. She breathes calmly and returns her attention to the chocolate eyes.

"No worries, it's just my parents..." The chocolate eyes become huge brown lakes when they open wide in sheer horror. "Wait, my parents!" James and Snow. Leaving the wooden hut and walking towards them.

"Shit!"

Emma releases Regina from her weight and they both sit up with more haste than accuracy. The blonde emanates fear when she speaks: "Do something, dress us up, dry me."

And what has Emma so scared is suddenly fun for Regina. At the end of the day... they are still about 50 meters away.

"You said no magic." Emma, trying to succeed in buttoning her shirt, turns around, scared. And Regina has the nerve to be calm and smiling.

"Not during it, but after." She groans, no time or breath left.

"You make up the rules as it goes at your will, Miss Swan?"

"Regina!"


Snow yawns, hugs James and tries to recover some of the heat they left behind with the sheets and the wooden shelter. A few yards away from them, the fire is already visible. She only thinks about sitting down and hopes for the watch not being very long.

She smiles to Emma when they are but some steps away and thinks that at least her daughter will get to rest for a while. A few yards from her, Regina's still sitting in the same position and as quiet as she was during the dinner, like a statue. The get near the blonde and Snow caresses her shoulder.

"Hey, how was the night?"

"Boring." Surprisingly enough, it's brown haired statue who answers. The couple turns to her as if they were watching a puppet talk.

"Yes, very quiet..." Emma corroborates, with a half exhausted smile.

"All right, go to bed." James resolves, smiling fondly at her and pulling her hand to lift her while Regina stands up. Snow gives Emma a tender goodnight kiss, before replacing both women.

They walk in silence for about ten steps. The time Regina manages to contain her smile.

"I even lit the fire..." She states, proud and boastful. "You owe me. A big one."

Emma stops walking and turns to Regina, her arms crossed. "You torture me, you almost manage to get us caught half-naked and wet, you say it has been a very boring night... and I owe you?"

"Yes." And that's it. An affirmation full of audacity, mockery and a so genuine smile that Emma's forced to look forward and breathe deeply to avoid returning a toothy one of her own. Instead, her gesture becomes pensive and when she addresses Regina again, she looks much calmer.

"Regina"

"What?"

"Could you soundproof a tent?"

She opens her eyes, smiles heartedly and twists her nose, trying to sound serious and offended.

"It's a shared, you damn insatiable pervert!" She laughs... but oh god if she isn't tempted by the idea... Emma pulls her chest and pride out, equaling her.

"Who has said that I wanted to do it now or even with you?"

"Just in case..." Regina mutters, separated from the wooden shelter by mere inches. "Although perhaps I could soundproof a sleeping bag..." She whispers conspiratorially, passing the tip of her tongue along the edge of her teeth.

"For rea...?" Emma's eyes brighten rapidly, betraying herself to Regina, who starts to laugh. " We don't even have bags... You're kidding me."

"Oh, that I was..." She hisses, victorious. Emma sputters through her teeth and this time it's Regina who walks a little faster to catch up with her. "One by one, Sheriff. Come on, don't sulk!"

When, minutes later, Regina closes her eyes to get ready to sleep, Henry's face comes back to her. She lets out a sigh, a long and languid sigh, and Emma's words echo in her head. They will find him and go back home... and if Emma's sure that Henry's waiting for them, then it must be that he is. Somewhere in the dark tent created by Mr. Gold, snoring in a corner, she listens Emma breathe deeply and calmly, and she allows to be infected by that calm. When she falls asleep she still thinks about Henry but, even though the pain is still there, there's no insecurity. They will go home together.


Neverland jungle is tricky. Since they left the safety of the plateau they have walked through bogs, places full of vegetation they can hardly set aside, and cliffs hidden by branches and vines. Hook's memories are no longer helpful, because in this part of the island he's almost as rookie as everyone else.

Regina's proposed plan still stands, although it seems never to be the right time to separate into pairs. Hook tried by all means to go with Regina, but without anyone realizing, it's Emma who ends up distributing the partners. She stays with Hook, her mother will march with Rumpelstiltskin and Regina and James will be the third pair. She can't imagine how the experiment will evolve, considering those strange and uncomfortable couples, but she has divided them so that in each pair there's at least one person with magic. If she even counts as one...

For now, they still march together; they don't plan on splitting up until the ground becomes a bit more regular. She avoids a brown puddle and keeps going until a hand touches her shoulder. Her mother's tender eyes smile at her.

"How's everything going?"

"I just wish to get somewhere already; you?"

"Same" She admits, shaking a bit of mud off her foot. "We've been walking for two hours and it seems we haven't covered but a few yards."

"We'll split up and then we'll march much faster, for sure..." Snow lets out a small smile and Emma raises an eyebrow. "What?"

"It's just... I can't imagine how the expedition will be, just Rumpelstiltskin and me." Emma smiles too.

"I think it'll be pretty quiet." She sums up, with a touch of humor. "Would you have preferred to go with Regina?" There's still the option to pair up her mother with herself... but obviously Hook and Mr. Gold couldn't go together, and the Captain would have been paired up with Regina, a combination Emma has decided not be convincing either.

"Not usually, of course." She responds quickly. "But I don't know what to make of this new version..."

Emma wants to answer, she wants to add that this is an improved version, that maybe they could come to better terms. But she doesn't get to open her mouth. Something falls in front of her, so close that she only sees a blur. But the knife on her neck, she does feel it clearly. She raises her eyes, trying to identify what or who's attacking her and she screams. She screams looking instinctively to Regina:

"Don't hurt her!"

Everyone keeps quiet. Rumpelstiltskin lowers his hands and James keeps his gun. Regina has a blunt fireball in the palm of her hand, but it disappears at Emma's cry. The brunette looks horrified at her fingers, where her magic has flamed before. She hasn't been the one to put it off, but Emma, somehow, when screaming and looking at her.

"Mulan?" Emma's question sounds muffled because of the tip of the sharp knife into her neck.

"Emma, Snow! I thought you were intruders!" She shouts cheerfully, putting down the weapon and hugging both women's neck. The rest of the expedition, except for the pirate, wait in confusion. They've heard of the Eastern warrior, but it has no sense that she too is in this other world. "Are you with Hook?" She changes her gesture when she sports the dark man, smiling at her and waving with his hook among the other members of the group.

"It's a long story..." Snow whispers. "But what are you doing here? Where's Aurora?"

"She's with Philip." The smile adorning her face is huge. "We got him back, thanks to you. And they're here with me. We're all here, refugees for now." The warrior's thrill makes her words sound like hurried and disconnected ideas. "You must come to our camp."

Emma and Snow are making a great effort to follow the usually stoic woman's words. The blonde strokes her arm reassuringly and tries to quickly summarize everything she has to tell. "I'm afraid we don't have time to deviate. Do you remember Henry, my son? He's being held captive in this island, we have to get to him."

"The shadow?" She asks, recovering a calmer attitude.

"We believe so."

"In that case, you have two reasons, not just one, to come to the camp." She sighs, aware of the importance of not wasting time.


Mulan's agility when moving is amazing. What once seemed a green labyrinth is now a straight path where they effortlessly dodge the thickest areas and they no longer cross paths with cliffs and bogs. But to Regina what's most surprising is that the warrior gets walk so fast, without any help of maps or compasses, and still talking with Emma at the same time.

The Eastern woman hasn't stopped talking to the Savior and her mother, and as Regina sees it, that's an overly monopolistic behavior. In addition, judging by the snatches of conversation she gets to hear (even though she's not interested in the talk in the slightest), Mulan isn't answering the questions both women are posing. She merely says they'll have to wait until they get to the camp. And once again, she ignores their interrogations and changes the subject explaining how they managed to recover Philip from the 'almost dead' or how they hunt to survive in the island. Super interesting, she thinks, annoyed, while her boots get stuck into the mud of this damn road that never ends.

She knows she's not jealous, because she doesn't give a damn if they discuss boring matters for hours if they want. Her real problem is that they're not focused on Henry's rescue. Nobody even asked her if I she wanted to deviate up to that camp. In fact, they didn't consult it with anyone. They simply decided to follow the petite warrior and that's what they're doing. And she doesn't agree, but nobody seems to care because no one has asked. Hook and Rumpel walk like sheep without uttering a single word, James is following her wifey, and the latter is listening to Mulan and Emma. The blonde turns to face her occasionally. That is, when the Asian warrior remains silent for a second and gives her a break.

Once again, she starts talking. Although at least this time her words are to Regina's liking.

"This is it." She mutters, in front of two twisted trees. Everybody stops behind her, staring at those two pieces of wood with half falling leaves. Mulan, posing boastfully, according to Regina, removes the branches, revealing the sight of a miniature village for which the word camp falls short.

"Home Sweet Home. Come on in!" She adds happily before rushing to a wooden house, one of the 50 that are distributed along the esplanade. If the plateau was a good shelter, this is a engineering masterpiece. The little village is built with pieces of trees and other vegetation and it isn't hard to imagine that from above it will look just like any other forest. All around them, a huge wall of trees covers its existence, mutes the bustling sound of the place and prevents accessing to except for occasional passages like the one they just passed through.

Emma notices that the rush on the huge camp is such that nobody seems to notice the six new people who gape everywhere like actual tourists. Except for four people coming straight to them. Mulan runs back with an overly smiling Aurora beside her. A bit further there are two more people she can't identify. Not that she has the time to do so, because Aurora's arms coil around her and Snow's necks, while she cries their names happily.

But Rumpelstiltskin does have the time. Nobody hugs him, nobody shouts his name to the point of leaving him deaf. So he has time, therefore, to look at the two men who approach them. One of them has the air of a valiant literary Prince. The other one, he has never forgotten.

"Baelfire!"

The cry echoes in everybody's ears and one particular person's chest. There's not an inch of her skin that doesn't stand as a consequence of the chill that runs through her, nor a entrail that doesn't jump and turn in her stomach to the rhythm of little butterflies that threaten to become vomit, nor eyes, mouth or nose that don't fall wide open in shock. Yes... when she hears that name, Regina confirms that what she felt towards Mulan wasn't jealousy. This... this taste of bile in her mouth and the dizzying feeling of being unable to breathe, this is.

To be continued…

Chapter Text

Rumpelstiltskin runs, he runs until he can’t breathe. And he collapses against his son’s body. The same son he lost when he was a kid. And the same one he lost again a few months after getting him back. That son was dead and now is embracing him with the same force as he does. His heart breaks once more before its pieces get back together, and he cries, he cries the same way he run. Until he can’t breathe anymore.

Neal's words in his ear don’t manage to comfort him. Hearing him say "Papa" as he hugs him back only serves to double the number of tears. "Papa, it’s me, I'm fine, I'm here. Don’t cry" he pleads, but he doesn’t stop embracing the man that now looks more like a father and a human being than ever before.

Rumpelstiltskin steps back only enough to look at his face and count every freckle, every scar, every signal that makes this mirage be his son. Everything is as usual, as it should be, except his chest, that hides a coarse, thick bandage under his shirt.

"I'm fine, the wound is practically old news." Neal dedicates the largest and most reassuring smile he’s capable of producing and the Dark One starts sobbing again with half a smile and half a hiccup. "Shall we say hello to the others?" He asks, surrounding his father’s shoulder, who doesn’t seem to be willing to let him go anytime soon. Rumpelstiltskin nods and they walk side by side. Neal watches the newcomers, his gaze bearing only one goal, one with muddy shoes, disheveled hair and a shocked expression that looks beautiful on her. When he says her name, he pronounces the word savoring it, feeling the pleasure of saying it after what seemed to be an eternity: "Emma".

Everyone hears the blonde’s deep inhalation.

"Your are alive."

"Yes." He laughs, "Aren’t you gonna hug me?"

And everyone sees how Neal tries to walk a little faster until she takes pity and speeds up her step, almost running toward him. Rumpel lets his son loose when he wraps Emma in his arms and smiles trying to wipe off the tears, which won’t stop anyway. Neal lets his senses recognize Emma, he lets them get soaked in the woman’s proximity, and Emma slowly shakes off the confusion and leaves room for the fact that, even though she doesn’t know how, her former boyfriend, Henry’s father, is in Neverland.

She steps away with so many questions that they get reflected in her eyes: "How did you get here? Are you okay? What hap…?"

Neal is all tenderness and joy when he interrupts her. "There’s so much to explain..." He sighs resigned to not being able to answer her questions as easily as she formulates them. "I think we should begin by giving you some proper clothes and maybe you could eat something while we solve all your doubts." He decides, looking at Philip, who understands the message and heads for the cabin they just left. "And our doubts, too." He adds, watching Emma. "Because something tells me you didn’t expect to find me here and that you didn’t come here to rescue me." He jokes at the surprise gesture Emma still holds.

"That one’s also a long story..." She answers, her words implying such hardness that Neal traits get twisted in worry.

"Then we better hurry and catch up. Mulan and Aurora will give you clothes and everything you need. You two, come with me." He says, looking at her father, James, and Hook. Only then he frowns and asks, "What are you doing here?"

Hook smiles heartily and squeezes his shoulder carefully. "A long story, boy. Shall we?" When the Captain and the rest of men begin to walk, Neal, after about a minute, finally releases Emma and follows them. Not that Regina, silent, livid and in a corner, has counted the time. But she knows it has been a full minute.


 

Feeling is suffering. It’s weakness. It sucks. Life has taught her this over and over again. But she never wants to learn, she doesn’t want to remember the lesson. And therefore, here she is, receiving yet another slap. It's ridiculous. Everything is ridiculous. She shouldn’t be angry and upset. And yet she is. In this tiny bedroom assigned to her and holding the clothes she must put on, she, Regina Mills, shouldn’t be growling and muttering. She shouldn’t give a damn about Emma Swan’s whereabouts. Emma’s just a woman, with whom she has slept a few times, yes, but a woman, and one who she couldn’t stand to be around merely two days ago.

How did she end up like this?, she asks herself while she gets dressed in the rustic yet fresh and comfortable trousers that have been given to her. She tries to think in cold blood and accept that this is just her competitive nature, which makes her dislike being downplayed or ignored. After all, she was once the Almighty Queen. And Emma's a mere hobby, right?

No. How didn’t she see it coming before? She should have kicked her off the town, get rid of her as she did with little Owen. But she didn’t, she let her stay and invade her city. And when Graham left her for the unsettling blonde, Regina didn’t touched  her either. She went after him instead. What sense did it make to pick the Sheriff as the victim if she could have just ended the Savior and keep the guy? Even the fact that Emma wrecked her apple tree, her most precious possession, ended without serious consequences for the damn Charming. She had wanted to kill her on the spot, but she didn’t, she let Emma and her tight tank top fly away leaving the chainsaw dropped in her garden.

Her insides roar and not due to hunger. They are turning upside down for the second time in just half an hour, and every memory is a new arcade she represses while her whole body shakes. But she can’t stop. She puts on the linen shirt Aurora has chosen for her and remembers the conflicting feelings brought by Henry’s rescue from the abandoned mine. That day she approached Emma, too much, and at that time she told herself that she done it out of gratitude. But now she isn’t so sure.

How much did it take for Henry to convince her to remove the curse casted on the well before Emma and Snow returned from their fight against Cora? Nothing. Two words and she was already running to undo the magic. She hadn’t even stopped to think that the women could survive her mother’s madness. But when her son insisted they were still alive and she agreed it could be true, she rushed to withdraw the curse. Without considering the serious consequences.

She howls; lips tight and trying to contain herself. But she howls. And does so because she feels bad, pissed off, hurt and above all stupid. Because she begins to think that sleeping with Emma in the filthy boat wasn’t a fortuitous error. And repeating obviously wasn’t a second and irrelevant slip. How long had she been repressing the urge to kiss that idiot of Emma?

She runs her fingers through her hair trying to calm down, but it’s not working. She tries to tie her leather boots but her hands tremble with fury and she’s unable to thread the damn handmade laces through the holes. She breathe deeply, almost snorting like a bull, and tries again, but no luck.

"Shit!"

"Need any help?"

Regina holds a cry of surprise just in time. But her shock is obvious in the way she jumps on the chair she’s on. She looks accusingly to the door where Emma has the nerve to be smiling. And surely, if she wasn’t so angry, she would smile too.

"Help to get dressed?" She mutters angrily before resuming her task.

"Or to get undressed..." Emma’s freezes every muscle in Regina for a second, before she forces herself  to pretend nonchalance and to move again. "We goodies always give a hand whenever necessary."

Emma enters the room and her formerly mocking smile has now a blatantly rogue  touch. Regina swallows deeply. Her stomach is still rebelling but now, more than arcades, it incites a desire to fly. She can’t deny she loves it.

"It seems to me that the good ones have very long hands..." she mutters, more nicely, trying to come to terms with the fact that it's Emma who’s flirting with her in broad daylight.

"I think I remember that usually doesn’t displease you." Yes, Emma’s definitely flirting. And she’s smiling like an idiot trying to humor her with as much dignity as possible. Emma’s great love and father of her son resurrects and yet the blonde prefers to be there with her, alone, flirting and smiling as if there was no one else in the world. And Regina, again, understands nothing. But she knows she likes it and appreciates that for once she’s not losing, as she always has been.

She stands up with a half-contained smile. "I don’t know what you mean, Sheriff."

"I can explain it in more detail, if necessary." Emma replies, slowly approaching her. She’s dressed exactly like Regina, with brown cotton trousers, a V-neck linen shirt and shoes with medieval appearance. And even like that, the blonde manages to alter every nerve of her being.

"I would appreciate it..." These are just words, but they hide a plea. A plea that gets ever more tangible as Emma approaches her. Regina doesn’t even notice she’s biting her own lip in anticipation, but she does see Emma's tongue moistening hers. And she thinks she won’t be able to stand it anymore.

But she does. Some steps echoing along the corridor stop them when they are just an inch apart. Regina discerns the voice of a man talking to Snow and assumes who he is only an instant before he sneaks through the same door Emma went in through before.

“There you are” says a smiling Neal whose voice sounds like scrapping nails against a blackboard on Regina’s ears.

“Yes” replies Emma, blinking a few more times than it would be necessary, owlishly.

“Can… Can I talk with you? Alone?” This time is an entire army clawing hundreds of blackboards and the queen holds herself despite her need of shutting Neal up. Emma, standing in the middle of the room, between the two of them, opens up her mouth to only close it again, not saying anything.

“Don’t distract yourselves. We have things to do” Regina makes herself being heard using a cryptic cold tone as she crosses the room and exits the place resolutely.

 “Who shoved a stick up her ass?” Neal asks in a minute whisper, looking at where Regina had just disappeared. Turning himself to look at Emma he realizes that his joke hadn’t had the acceptation he had assumed it would have. “Sorry, but she is so…” The blonde keeps her silence, not making it easy, waiting to see what he is going to say next “Better if I start again” he smirks “Hi”

“Hi Neal” she replies, softer this time. The comment had been an inopportune one but she can’t just eat him up only because of a simple joke. Or because having, unknowingly, interrupted her seconds away before kissing the mayor. Even if she would like to blame him Neal is innocent of the fact that she keeps going behind the “Evil queen”, looking at her with the eyes of a teenager.

“Emma, are you here because of Henry?” The question is direct and firm but Neal’s voice trembles and she doesn’t know what to answer “Please, I need to know. I don’t want to discover it there, with the rest. He is my son”

Emma’s sigh is tells him all he needs to know but he waits until she answers him. “Greg and Tamara took him and ended up here”

“Son of a bitch…” His rage, his fear, echoes on those three words “Shit... Why didn’t I listen to you?”

Neal bites his fist out of pure frustration and Emma approaches him ignoring how to comfort him, or what to say. She squeezes tenderly his forearm and tries to talk to him even if she still hasn’t become accustomed to his presence. “She was your fiancée, it’s normal that you trusted in her more”

“No, it isn’t. I wanted to believe her, I tried to only have eyes for her and for that I become blind. How can I have been so stupid?” Emma tries to forget his words and its implicit message, focusing on trying to cheer him up. No one understands the feeling of helplessness and guilt like her.

“Neal, this woman knew who you were. She, or her people, found you and located you even though no one knew your big secret, and she played with more leverage than what you would have ever imagined”

“I don’t feel better…”

“I understand you, neither do I” she sighs and squeezes his arm, dedicating him the most understanding look she can muster. “What’s important now is to rescue him and find a way back home. The rest doesn’t matter”

“The trip back home is on me” He answers, recovering slightly his spirts and smiling when Emma arches both of her brows “I don’t want to spoil the surprise but let’s say that they also know how to grow beans here”

“And they had…” She doesn’t want to celebrate anything before time.

“They had one…. That has grown in three entire plants”

“We’ll return?” she chokes on the question. The worry and fear of losing Henry had stopped other worries to arise until now but in that moment, with the ticket back home already taken care of, a dead weight she hasn’t realized was there disappears magically.

“We’ll return” he assures her, squeezing her hand.

“We’ll return!” she screams cheerfully and hugs Neall when he opens up his arms and encircles her with the same happiness “I can’t believe it” she answered, taking a step back on his tight hug “Beans, we have beans!”

“Yes” Neal sighs, a sigh that Emma doesn’t like, that makes the hairs on the back of her head to stand up due to suspicion instead of anticipation “And a second chance”

Her eyes widens, a lot. But not her lips even though Neal has bend over and has linked his mouth with hers. Which could be considered a kiss. Albeit not a corresponded one, more like a one sided. Or one sided and little more because she is there and doesn’t step back. She doesn’t move either. He is the one who kisses her, who grabs her waist and who has his eyes closed. She doesn’t though and she doesn’t touch him or answers him because, even if she didn’t expected it, her body isn’t let it go. It is saying to her that there is too much beard, too much testosterone and too little of brunette tresses for its liking.

“Now I see why they were taking so long…” Hook is sure of saying each word strongly so his joke doesn’t get lost. Emma moves away from Neal as he does the same, the two of them looking at the door, completely mortified. “And that’s the reason why I never liked to let in handsome cabin boy’s in my crew, they end up stealing the girls” His bluffs are directed to Emma, Neal and the rest of faces that look at the scene at his side. All of them brunettes; Snow, Mulan and Regina. But there are only two that stare with the shame of having interrupted. Emma swallows thickly when the third woman, the only one she is looking at, fixes her tightnes her jaw, half of a lip pursed and a vacant stare that empties Emma’s lungs and suffocates her without the aid of magic.

She has been the target of many looks from Regina’s part. And a great part of them had been filled with disgust and resentment. Some of them could have been even bordering hate. But no one had been like this one. Never. Maybe because now those brown eyes are all that and much more. Maybe because the worst isn’t the anger or the resentment but that dulled twinkle, wounded, that remains. That’s the one that chokes her.

“We didn’t want to interrupt, but…” Snow clears out her throat, blushing heavily.

“… Everyone is already there and we are late” Regina finishes the sentence coldly, curtly straightforward. “Let’s go” Turning around the mayor finishes the conversation and everyone, without saying anything, start walking behind the royal figure.

“Let’s go?” Neal asks gently, scratching the back of his head slightly embarrassed.

Emma nods, obedient, but she is unable to move a muscle. What has happened? And what’s worse, why she has the feeling that, without doing anything, she has actually ruined everything?

She wants to something that actually makes sense. She wants her head not to be about to explode.

But what she really wants is find the way to turn back time. Albeit she doubts that her teacher is going to be up to teach her that. She swallows tightly, the black hole inside of her growing and threating to swallow her up.

Snow grabs one of Emma’s arms and they walk together the last bit of the path. “Everything is fine sweetie?”

She knows that her mother is asking because of Neal but she answers thinking solely on Regina. “I don’t think so…”

 

To be continued…

Chapter Text

Gathered around a huge round table, all ten of them are conveniently silent, except Philip. The prince has the difficult task of explaining everything and fitting the pieces of things that don’t  add up yet. And he does so against the clock, because every second is precious.

"The fairies alerted the nearby kingdoms of the curse that was coming and our people decided to escape to Neverland. Only a few stayed despite the warning. At that time this was a safe place where the years went by much slower and people didn’t age, so it was the perfect getaway for us, at least until danger disappeared and we could return. But the shadow is no longer a negligible and strange being surrounded by orphan kids. In the last years its power has been growing and it’s becoming the master of this island."

"The Indians have allowed that to happen?" Hook hides his scare for the being behind a skeptical comment.

"The tribe was wiped out long ago..." The reverential silence that follows this clarification makes Regina shiver and gives her a perspective of how hard this enemy it will be. She’s completely ignorant of the history of this island, but if the Indians were such fierce enemies that something that devastated them has to be much worse. "The few of them still alive are children serving the shadow."

"An Indian would never serve anyone.” The Captain points out, proudly.

"Yes, if that someone is the shadow. The prisoners slowly forget about who they were and only live to serve it. If the kid you came to rescue is with it, it won’t take many days for him to yield to its domination.”

"Don’t worry about that, we don’t intend to let another single day pass." She speaks with a smirk and her voice sounds deep and soft, but Regina still causes more than one tremor. Everyone turns their eyes to her and Emma uses the excuse to watch her for the first time in the meeting. Her stance, relaxed and carefree, like her smile, conveys anything but calm. It’s her best version of the asleep wolf and nobody wants to breathe harder than necessary for fear of waking her. She is the spitting image of the Evil Queen and Emma can’t decide whether to be relieved for having her in their team or to worry about the reappearance of the more dangerous side of the mayor. She swallows deep when Regina's eyes lay on her, just for a second, and transmit her a ruthless coldness. "Do you know where it's hiding and how many of them protect that thing?"

"Any inhabitant of this island knows where it is, it doesn’t hide."

"Then let’s go out and hunt the thing.'"

"You don’t understand." The prince says, coming closer to the table and resting his elbows on it. "It doesn’t need to hide nor to be protected because no there’s no one alive who wants to go near it." Silence prevails again. Regina stops smiling in order to pay full attention to him. "Haven’t you gone through the Mermaids Lagoon? They were the first to flee, now living fugitive at the sea. Until they did, the shadow entered their territory and even fed of them. It consumes people’s will little by little... but devours the magic within seconds."

"There are no mermaids in the Lagoon?" Hook asks. "What kind of being can overcome and feed of mermaid’s power?"

"One capable of absorbing others’ magic. Even the fairies are hidden." Everyone nods solemnly, as if those words clarified the extent of the danger, except Emma. The blonde looks at everywhere, without an explanation magically appearing.

"There are fairies here too?" It's a voiced thought, a whisper so low it’s barely audible. But Neal, sitting beside her, hears it.

"Yes, but they are different. They are bouncier and smaller than those in our home..." He summarizes with a smile. "Well, our home, your parents’ home, not yours, but..."

"It’s ok, I got it." She smiles before returning to the conversation. The skin on her neck bristles and her sixth sense screams that someone’s watching her. Not someone, Regina. But her sense must be wrong. The Mayor, adopting her most distant stance, observes Philip giving no sign of noticing Emma’s presence. She scratches her forehead, trying to focus on the prince and leave the Mayor’s image out of her mind, at least for a while. Her radar bounces twice more, without Regina even bothering to look at her, apparently.

"What do you know about the shadow?" It’s Snow who speaks on this occasion and Philip who answers back.

"Not much. It leaves no survivors in its trail and our people have been hiding and isolated in this camp for more than two years."

"Some of the fairies described it as a being with no soul nor body, pure black magic." Aurora adds, not concealing her discomfort. "Several of the girls serving it were sirens once, but in its presence they lost all their power and, in just seconds, became human. When that happens, the shadow stuns them slowly until they end under its rule. Then it can enter at will in each of its servants and handle them from the inside or lead them in its disembodied form without them being able to resist."

Neal has remained silent and listened carefully to every word without interrupting until then: "That makes no sense. How has it become so strong?"

"We were its food for a while, until it could make the leap to the juiciest, more magical preys… With our arrival it had thousands of new potential victims, the attacks escalated, first there were several disappearances of our people, and afterwards the first bodies appeared and some lost boys showed up. They rarely manage to escape from the shadow but at least it has never hurt them."

"No, the shadow doesn’t want to kill the children. It needs them for something worse. They are the most loyal and obedient servants, and the shadow is like a father to them. A father that has spent decades looking for a "son" in particular."

"A son?"

"Not a son of its own blood but a kid in particular. That is its greatest obsession."

"How do you know so much?" Mulan asks the question they all have in mind.

"Because I was locked in this island for five years." Neal simply drops the bomb as naturally as possible.

Hook laughs, he laughs and feels bad about it, given the circumstances, but he can’t help help laughing. "Come on, Neal, only one kid has managed to fly his way out, literally, from here and that's ... Fuck, are you Peter Pan?!"

Every pair of eyes in the room rests heavily on Neal, who scratches his eyebrow uncomfortably. "Some know me by that name, yes..."

Hook's laughter echoes again over everyone's surprise. "I knew Mila’s son would go far in life! But what about that name?"

"You think I would use mine? I was afraid that someone else on this island discovered who my father was and tried to use me like you did." He side eyes. "But if I had known this dumb name I invented would become so popular I would have thought of something a little more epic..."

"So that’s why you haven’t aged that much..." Rumpelstiltskin whispers, astonished.

"I was a 10 year old boy for five years... And, as Philip said, I found out that time here didn’t work as it did in our kingdom or this world".

"Five years here were like... 60 years for us?" His father does the maths and nobody knows if he’s lost in the sum or recalling the years he spent looking for him.

Neal nods, showing a calm stance that’s missing in the rest of the room: "By the time I could return to the Darlings’ world, two World Wars and many other disasters had passed, yeah..."

"Very well, Neal is Bealfire and Peter Pan. Now could we please ignore his multiple personalities problem and focus?" Regina's voice resonates without the slightest courtesy. But despite the nonexistent kindness of her words, she achieves the desired effect.

"For now we know that the shadow attacks humans, dominates the younger ones and absorbs any hint of magic that’s within its reach, right?" Snow recapitulates, addressing Prince Philip. "How do we end with him... her... it? "

"Neal…?" He subtly lets the question towards the other man.

"I'm not sure... The shadow hates light and avoids it in its corporeal form."

"Torches, solved." James proposes with an overwhelming simplicity.

"It's not that simple... It’s immune to light if it’s inside one of its servants, and while it’s possessing someone, that person becomes virtually indestructible."

"And something useful?" Regina inquires, and she senses how Rumpelstiltskin, Snow and even James turn towards her with gestures of bewilderment wondering where the quiet and reserved Mayor from the boat has gone. She takes a deep breath looking for a calm that she doesn’t have and for the self control that disappears whenever Neal, sitting next to Emma, opens his mouth. "What else do you remember?"

"This is all I know... Inside a human body, it gives that person his own magic and it’s immune to light. There are only two drawbacks for the shadow. Trapped inside a human body, it loses some of its power of domination. Totally submissive vassals hardly notice that but neophytes or those who have not been totally contaminated can fight its power at that stage. That’s how I managed to run away from it..."

"Will Henry be at that stage?" Emma's voice stutters. It’s impossible not to imagine that the suffering that strangles Neal's memories is the same one that Henry might be undergoing.

"I’m sure he is, Emma." Snow murmurs, lovingly stroking her arm. "Right?"

"It’s most likely." Neal smiles, looking for  Emma’s green eyes. "Listen to me, for us he has been missing just for two days, that's how time works here. It’s a very short time and, besides, Henry would never surrender without a fight. I know that, he’s like her mother." Regina takes a deep breath and focus all their energies on no puckering, cursing or hitting anything. How does this fool who is engaged to a murdered and who left Emma abandoned to her fate in prison dare to say he knows Henry? He put his 'little seed', but his collaboration ended there. Does he mean that with his recent comeback he knows this child? That he has the slightest clue of the wonderful little man he has become? And does he even know who Emma really is, does he know how the teenager he left to her fate ten years ago has changed?

"And the second drawback?" Regina barks from her seat. "You said there were two weaknesses, what is the other one?"

Neal, lost in Emma’s green eyes, returns to the present with Regina’s booming voice primarily directed at him. "The second one is that it can’t feed on anything while it’s trapped inside someone. When it’s free everything around it becomes darker, murkier, more painful and anyone within a few meters from the thing loses their will or their magic. But it can’t do that if it’s confined in a body."

"Neal, I’m not trying to be rude, but do you mean that our only options are to burn a shadow that no magical being can approach and others should be careful with... or attack an almost immortal human possessed by that thing?" James synthesizes kindly and politely before muttering a very heartfelt “for all the dwarfs sake!” and earning a nudge on his side, courtesy of Snow.

"Nobody said it’d be easy." Emma acknowledges, with renewed cold blood. Regina, inevitably, observes her addressing them and, this time, green eyes catch hers and discover her. Nothing that can’t be solved by turning her face away. "But there’s just six of us against the damn thing."

"Believe me, Emma, you are many more that six." Philip sighs, smiling. "I won’t force any of my men to fight, but Mulan and I are in debt and will happily follow you until the end. And I know that my army won’t lose the occasion to make the Shadow pay for all the deaths and kidnappings."

"Thank you, Philip, really." Words fall short for the breath of gratitude, relief and trust his offer means for the six of them, and Emma tries not to get stalled in a thankful awkward silence. "And James, everyone... not everything are bad news, right?" She addresses the prince again with a half smile.

"I see Neal has already informed you." He celebrates while the Sheriff’s smile freezes on her face. The aforementioned smiles too, with more complicity than necessary, and Emma knows there are two brown floas scrutinizing every detail. "I think we can go straight to the point: we have a small crop of magic beans."

The announcement creates the expected chaos. Except for Snow’s "How?!" and a string of purely happy insults coming from Hook, exclamations get mixed together.

"How many?" James is the spitting image of the most nervous serenity that has ever been seen.

"Enough for you to return to Storybrooke and for us to go back home. Even more, for you to grow there and so that you may return with all the inhabitants.”

"Ho… home? Really?" Snow chokes trying to conceal her tears and a second later, when Philip nods, elated, she lets them escape against her husband's shoulder. They embrace hard and even pull their daughter to them, while Emma tries to breathe.

Regina interrupts the general murmurs without showing any emotion: "Where did these bean come from?"

"Giants, of course." Philip summarizes, too short a story for the Mayor’s likings, who keeps her inquisitive gaze on him until he decides to facilitate the extended version. "My father fought with the giants when other kingdoms decided to try and take their wealths. We helped them to cut the plants that rose to their lands and they bequeathed us a plant as a farewell gift. Thanks to its beans we could flee to Neverland and thanks to them we’ll go back." Regina nods, satisfied, and Philip releases a breath he doesn’t know he has retained. He repositions himself on the chair and resumes his speech, looking away from her. "The important thing now is to rescue Henry. If we organize things carefully, tomorrow morning we’ll take them by surprise.”

"Prince Philip..." Regina mutters, with a terrifying softness that keeps everyone on edge. "You have lost your mind completely if you think I'm going to wait more than five minutes before going to my son’s rescue."

"Now? There are over fifty children and about fifteen adults, attacking without a plan could be a slaughter, for both."

"It’s the dead of the night, we would play with that in our favour."

"They don’t know you are here or that we know their hostage’s identity. We don’t need the surprise factor, they’re not expecting an attack!"

Regina hardly knows this snooty and polite Prince but she already has a clear opinion about him. An opinion she wouldn’t voice aloud in front of her child. She contains herself, barely, and takes a breath before answering. She opens her mouth to tell him that she doesn’t need all his men tomorrow but now and that she’ll go alone if necessary and he can go fu...

Two eyes, green and insistent, dig into her neck. They dig again and again until it’s ridiculous to deny their presence. Regina fails to answer. She turns to Emma pulling a face that yells what???!!!, and those two damn eyes and the blonde get ahead and take the floor.

"It doesn’t have to be a violent offensive..." Her friendly and quiet voice is a very welcome break for the Prince, who recovers some of his composure. "How much time would we need to prepare a strong paralyzing powder ammunition?"

Mulan’s smile of approval is followed by her response: "I like how you think." The interest of the attendees is now focused on her, who makes a quick, rough estimate. "Two hours."

No one knows for sure what Emma’s intentions are, but they can get an idea. Now, the only thing that only matters is that the attack is imminent. But the blonde has something else in mind. Something that needs to be solved, even if the rest of them is already talking and wandering about the rescue. She searches for Regina’s eyes and when she finds them, she addresses only to her:

"Only two hours, okay?" She poses that serious, strong, confident... but she swallows four words she has almost uttered, although she allows them to be read in her eyes. Grant me this, please. She doesn’t know whether Regina notices her mute plea or if she has just reconsidered, but she knows she will give in before she even speaks.

"What's on your mind?" Regina growls, Emma smiles and the two of them detail the Savior’s plan.


 The recipe is older than anybody can remember. Nobody knows if it was invented by accident or if it’s a recipe designed by the expert hands of a necromancer. The mixture brings frost fungi, Peregun seeds and Lindworm flakes, among other succulent bites. Nothing that anyone in their right mind could think of mixing. But if one knows how to prepare it, it’s very useful, and Mulan does know.

The first victim of her paralyzing powder is a volunteer from the village, too old to fight but too young not to help. When the ocher powders touch his nose, he immediately falls back to the ground, where two other men welcome him with open arms to avoid the blow. The eastern warrior smiles: "Perfect."

The rest of the village is overturned in the preparation of its men, something that seems stupid to Regina. Do they really think an armor could stop a curse? Or a fireball? Or a shot between the eyes? The six of them are ready and standing by, observing how the village men get dressed and armed. Snow already has her bow over her shoulder, James is a mixture of and armed cowboy and a swordsman and his daughter has decided to go solely with the firearms. Hook is more of a hand-to-hand-combat type and Rumpelstiltskin, like herself, is armed by default, hands full of magic and ready to be used. And none of them wears an armor, something those villagers should learn.

A figure appears a few feet away, and it strangely manages to bring some of her good mood back. The nearly-six-feet useless substance that defines Neal is adjusting an armor to his body with Phillip’s help, who doesn’t look very confident.

"I think we have a kamikaze volunteer." She sputters, and accompanies her words with a nod of her chin. Five pairs of eyes turn in time to see the last strap fastening on Neal’s side

"Oh no. Don’t count on it, mate." James is the first to reach his side followed by four others worried faces and one holding a fun smirk. Regina has decided that, if she has to wait for all those slow peasant to get prepared to fight, at least Neal’s suicidal madness will entertain her.

"What do you think you're doing?" Rumpelstiltskin asks, and Phillip backs away. This is something that must be solved between the two of them.

"I’ll go, I have the right to go. He's my son, too." The claim sounds desperate and it’s hard not to be touched by it, but Emma assumes he would be more of a burden than a helping hand. And they can’t afford such whims.

"Neal, are you crazy? You still recovering." She argues, staring at him as serious as she’s capable of. Regina, until then somewhat apart, approaches him too.

"Why don't you let him go? It sounds like a great idea..." She accompanies her words with some encouraging taps on Neal’s back. But they seem smacks rather than pats, not too strong but not friendly, either, and given with quite an open hand. Neal bents in pain instantly and lets out a whimper "... if you want to get yourself killed, of course, and not to save Henry."

"Regina!" Rumpelstiltskin protests,  allowing his son to lean on him so that he recovers.

The look Neal addresses to the Mayor radiates dislike but as he takes deep breathes to swallow the pain, he clicks his tongue and gives up. Emma observes Regina too, trying to calculate how much of those hits have been for pure enjoyment and how much her way, somewhat beastly, to make him see reason.

"You will stay." She mutters, imperative but friendly.

"Yes, we have the heroes quota full." Regina adds, pointing to the gathered group. "Can we go now?"

Snow gropes the ground and watches. Almost all volunteers are ready to begin the march toward the Shadow’s shelter and Mulan is distributing small leather pouches filled with paralyzing powder. While doing so, she warn each of the soldiers that they must pour it when the sleepers are inhaling, which is the only way to be sure not to wake them up.

"I think we're ready," She decides, walking with the others toward one of the guarded entrances to the village. Neal doesn’t move, he stays there, trying not to feel like a useless cripple. It’s not his fault that a bullet conducted a tunnel through his shoulder, but fails to feel any better when he watches his father and the mother of his son leave to rescue the kid while he can only wait.

"Emma!" He calls her aloud and stops a few feet away from her.. The others keep walking, trying to leave them some privacy, but Emma doesn’t want that intimacy. She has noticed how at Neil’s cry Regina’s steps had gone from a soft walk to a stomp threatening to break the floor. So she stops halfway between those still marching and Neal, who’s staring at her with a look of pure adoration on his face. "Be careful."

"Everything will be fine." She answers, with a lopsided smile that makes her look calmer than she feels.

"I know. I’ll be waiting for you."

And Emma doesn’t know what look to plaster on her face, how to answer or what to do. She give a little wider smile, takes care of raising her thumbs, and attempts to answer something consistent that doesn’t complicate matters further. They need to talk, indeed, but this is not the time to break his heart.

"We’ll be back soon, all of us. See you." She widens her smile and so does Neal before she resumes her steps and heads to where the small, improvised army is. Watching it from behind, Emma’s confidence regains some force. Nearly sixty men march in front of her and all seem to be eager to meet with the Shadow. It doesn’t matter that it’s almost midnight or that it’s still a long way ahead. Emma takes a deep breath, trying to realize take conscience of what they’re going to do and letting herself be infected by the general feeling of euphoria.

She walks a little faster and reaches her parents, Rumpelstiltskin, Hook, Philip, Mulan and Regina, who are leading the group. She tries to position herself near the brunette and to study her expression, to see if there’s any chance to talk to her. But as expected, Regina makes a rather subtle maneuver and ends up 10 yards and several armed villagers away from her. She sighs and continues to walk accompanied by James and Snow, waiting for another occasion to approach her.

Listening to Neal, Regina was convinced that she would eventually vomit. If Emma had answered him with some sappy pet phrase like the ones her parents are so fond of giving to each other, she would have. She’s sure. But Emma hasn’t been that cheesy. So much the better for her dinner, which which will remain in her stomach. Maybe she hasn’t inherited that disgusting Charming gen. Maybe she’s not the type to say corny words… but she is the type to kiss. Although she feels some relief when  she senses Emma coming quickly to them after the brief farewell, her mind is replaying the kiss witnessed hours ago on the loop. And, with the memory, that relief isn’t enough to soothe the urge to bite and bark.

She looks at Emma. She’s sure that the Savior is addressing her steps toward her and she doesn’t have the slightest interest in waiting. She glides through the crowd and moves strategically until she’s far enough to consider that the blonde won’t try to approach her again. James and Snow surround Emma and start talking to her. For once, Regina feels gratitude towards those two.

To be continued…

Chapter Text

The full moon plays an important role in the silent deployment of men through the jungle at night. The bluish light floods the path and allows them to move forward for nearly three hours without resorting to any torch or fire that might warn of your their arrival. The silence is almost sepulchral and only the most confident or more nervous of them dare to seek a companion to talk with and pass the time or to get rid of their fears, respectively. Emma’s making her way after Philip and Mulan, somehow the leaders of the expedition. She walks in silence too, but her mind is far from quiet.

Her fingers tickle and her legs threaten to walk faster, if it were possible. Every second she gets closer Henry is one more second full of anxiety, of repressing the eagerness to rush to the boy and sweep away anyone who tries to stop her. But she contains herself and meditate. She can’t do anything for now and she’s aware of that. However, there’s another type of anxiety, another unresolved issue that stirs her gut and that she doesn’t know how to manage. If Henry’s her main concern, his adoptive mother is also attacking her nerves.

Three attempts, three, and she hasn’t managed to approach her a single time. Emma has become the plague because without realizing the mayor and shuns with an agility that is worthy of study. But in front of her, the path narrows and the large, scattered group becomes a row of two or three men. Before Regina notices, Emma slows her steps and gets besides her. When the Mayor gives her a twisted face and tries to go away once again, she gets trapped by a dense, compact crowd, and Emma gives her a shy smile. One that Regina obviously doesn’t reciprocate, unless Emma counts as one the fact that she raises her lip in disgust, nearly showing her teeth.

"Can I talk to you?" To her question, the brunette answers passing from twisting her mouth to looking ahead showing no interest in her presence. "Regina, I didn’t kiss Neal, it was just his doing." She mumbles softly and loaded with sheer frustration.

Regina turns to Emma and she swallows thickly wondering whether it has been a good idea to force her to walk together. For the first time in her life she understands the panic that this woman could cause with her mere presence.

"And you tell me this so that I give you sentimental advise?" She drips disgust and indifference equally, and both reach Emma like a blow full in the stomach. "Your mother is the expert in love and epic reunions, Sheriff. Talk to her."

She bites her lip, trying to calm down and seeing beyond the Mayor’s anger, but when the brunette accelerates her steps frustration overcomes her.

"Regina, please..." she asks, solicitously raising her hand to grab her arm. Her fingers hardly close around the soft skin and she notices it. An invisible fire that burns against her hand and forces her to take it away sharply. "What the hell...?" She doesn’t finish the sentence but she blows and shakes her fingers trying to ease the pain of a burn that doesn’t leave marks on her skin.

"Any problem, Miss Swan?"

Emma opens her aching hand before answering. "No, everything is perfectly fine." She says ironically, crossing her glance with two chocolate eyes looking almost through her, as if she wasn’t there. "I'm trying to talk to you, can we have a normal conversation?"

"I'm not interested and, furthermore, I have to speak with Snow."

"You won’t dare..." Emma growls, hurt, worried and upset at the same time. "Regina..." But nothing seems to permeate the Mayor, who starts to accelerate her steps toward Snow. "I don’t care who may hear us. I’ll keep on talking, even though Snow’s listening." She warns Regina, accommodating her steps to her pace.

"That’s perfect by me." The answer is followed by the most classic smile from the cold and heartless Mayor who declared war to her two years ago. A grimace at odds with this new Regina that destabilizes her sense of security. The Evil Queen takes advantage of her silent uneasiness to resume her stride toward Snow. She doesn’t stop even when when she hears Emma repeat her name in a frustrated whisper. She only tightens her lips and moves on.

First, she locates Snow’s arc and a few steps behind, her whole figure materializes. Regina stands beside her, just across from where James walks and she can’t decide which of the two faces looks more shocked. She ignores their gestures of astonishment and addresses Snow.

"Can I talk to you?" The dark haired woman agrees without hesitation and James goes away, reaching Phillip and allowing them to walk alone. "I have a favor to ask..." Snow’s eyebrows get lost behind her bangs but says nothing "If we have to split up and send an advance, I need you to stay leading the attack and covering our backs."

"Regina, it won’t be necessary, there will be no attack, it will be a peaceful..." She assures on the run, trying to share with the Mayor a sense security that she herself feels lacking.

"Just in case, please." She insists calmly, trying to make Snow understand what she’s asking from her. "Gold and I can cope with magic and defense. And I know that asking Emma not to throw herself to save Henry is impossible. So I need you to keep a cool head." She notices the inner conflict the dark haired woman is going through and she can’t help understanding her. She reads in her eyes how she makes up her mind and faces her decision with the same courage she’s proved to have since she was a little girl.

"Okay." She squares her shoulders and nods accompanying her words, reaffirming what she says though she doesn’t like to be saying it. "But you must promise me one thing." Now it’s Regina who awaits for her request, immutable. "That you will protect Emma."

She should have imagined that. Regina swallows deep and tries to sound as stoic and sober as expected from a ruthless evil queen. "You don’t even have to ask, Snow." Despite her righteousness and calm, her answer fills the brunette with gratitude. She feels that the woman who was once her stepmother speaks more seriously than ever; that, whatever the reason, she won’t allow a single danger to approach Emma.

What Snow fails to notice is Regina’s own fear. Fear of imagining Emma in the height of the battle. Terror at visualizing the thoughtless, impulsive and temperamental Sheriff in frontlines. Panic at the thought of the brave and unconscious Savior exposing herself or getting hurt. Or worse. Her stomach twists as if two hands were playing at wringing it out and the pain is almost tangible; even breathing is hard. She feels stupid, just as she has been feeling for the whole day, but she can’t help it. And the worst thing is her comfort, that boils down to the fact that if she stays with Emma, she will be able to protect her better. Yes, she feels stupid and a few synonyms that sound worse, but she can’t help it.

She looks at Snow, still beside her, and the thankful smile she dedicates Regina turns her off. Snow, being Emma’s mother, is also partly to blame for her pain. If she hadn’t decided to become a mother, Emma wouldn’t be broken, yearning to cry and beat everything that crosses her path. Perhaps it doesn’t make sense, but she feels a little better when she adds, rather abruptly: "It’s because of Henry. He would never forgive me if something bad happened to Emma."

Snow’s smile lowers a little, but she continues to show a happy face: "Still, thank you."


 

Emma watches Snow and Regina while they talk and she wants to be there, to be her mother and be able to look into Regina’s eyes, lips, everywhere as she addresses her. But it’s Snow who speaks with the Mayor and Emma the one who observes sulkily. And the one realizing that she is jealous of her own mother... Exhausted, she sighs and groans, wishing she could explain herself and fix everything... but fix what? Regina is the manipulative and bossy Mayor who tried to make her life impossible two years ago and the dethroned Queen who appeared once the curse broke. Nothing else, right?

And yet, the first thing Emma does after finding Neal alive is running towards her and flirting like a teenager. In short, showing her that the stellar appearance of Henry’s father didn’t change anything. How many things can be altered in just 48 hours? She tries to reconstruct the moment when Regina ceased to be the Evil Witch to begin to drive her crazy and, in doing so, she admits that deep down both things always went hand in hand. It was twisted Regina whom, from the very beginning,  she found inevitably fascinating. And now the figure of the Mayor has crossed a boundary, to the point of being irresistibly fascinating.

It's only been two days but she has already get used to the seductive, funny and complex facet of the brunette. They are about to start a battle in an unfamiliar territory against a super shadow and she’s dying to talk to Regina, vent and together annihilate the nerves that now seize up her guts. And above all, she’s dying to get to joke with her once more, and smile, and kiss...

This isn’t normal, it’s not any crush... and it’s not new. It's crazy. A madness incepted a long time ago. Shit... So much time wondering when she'd stopped loving Neal and deep down she knew the exact date... the day of her twenty-eighth birthday. And the craziest thing is that it’s reciprocate ... right? When she got away from Neal’s kiss she knew she had hurt her, that she had fucked up whatever it was they had started these days and that the "it-wasn’t-me-it- was-him" would not be enough, because this was not mere jealousy…

She rubbed her forehead, frustrated. It was too much information, too many memories and too many feelings elbowing each other to escape now that Emma has left them free, and this is not the time for it. Now she needs to think of Henry and about they will do to rescue him.

She will recover her son, all will go home again and then she will fix the mess with Regina. She look at the front, where the Mayor still talks to Snow, and repeats to herself: Yes, I'll fix this... but her certainty fades a little on the ellipses.


The camp of the Shadow and the Lost Boys is the exact opposite of the hidden and protected  shelter of the inhabitants of the Enchanted Forest. At one hundred yards away, the first huts can be seen, no more camouflage than the neutral and inconspicuous colors of the walls and the branches of the roof. At fifty steps away, they appreciate about fifteen tiny huts surrounding a central square and a huge bonfire. Next to it, the largest structure of the camp stands, the only one looking like a house and a fortress at the same time and with at least two levels inside.

Philip’s prediction is true and the only 'security' the village has consists in two lookouts about  twelve years old dozing over their rustic spears at the entrance. All around the camp there are children sleeping in the open on blankets and almost no adult. Philip’s men, including the six newcomers, stop at the edge of the village and allow Mulan to make her own magic.

The warrior is a silent and agile ghost when she moves between the branches of the trees. She advances the last few yards that separate her from the sentinels jumping from treetop to treetop, but her jumps don’t cause a single sound. She hangs over their heads and blows against their sleepy faces at the exact moment they take air, as has ordered the others to do. When they inspire, both fall instantly knocked out to the grass, unable to move a muscle.

Philip’s men wait for the signal of their leader with the exception of the Storybrooke newcomers, set aside without realizing it, as if they were their own squad. Emma looks at her parents and see determination on their eyes. Previously fought battles keeping them firm and calm. It’s not the same case with the pirate who fiddles with his hook, moving it in circles, or Rumple who rest his bodyweight on his cane with an anxious balancing motion. Regina is a different case. Her face is firm and inexpressive but the stance causes more terror than any of the other men armed to the teeth.

Emma sees in that last moment of tranquility her opportunity to talk with her. There, surrounded by the others, the mayor should behave herself… right? She knows it’s a trap but the need of hearing her voice wins her over once again.

“Will you use your magic?”

The answer, cold, bites the bones of the ones that are next to them. “Against everything that puts themselves on my way”

They don’t have time for more; Mulan, with the sentinels at her feet, looks at Philip. That’s the signal the prince has been waiting. Raising his arm, he makes them divide in six groups and commands them to advance in the terrain above them. They, as the six they are, move forward through the middle of the land without dividing themselves and from that point on the silence reins over them.

More than seventy men walk carefully between the asleep children and teens. With every breath they take the soldiers blow a handful of dust on their tiny noses and their lungs get filled with the paralyzing dust. As they walk Emma discovers why there isn’t a single adult on sight; the cabins that aren’t made for food and other necessities are occupied by some of them. Her rage grows at how the young are treated.

The bravest men enter inside the cabins and blow two handful of dust to the asleep adults as the rest of the group keep moving. Almost a third part of the camp is now asleep and paralyzed at the same time and the movements are less tense. Philip, advised by Mulan, has taught to each volunteer how they need to keep their concentration, how they cannot let their guard down. However, for one of the youngest, one of the brave ones that enters in one of the cabins, is not as easy not to feel calm and confident. Everything is going well, there is no danger and so he blows a new batch of dust carefully over the face of a particular angry-looking redhead. The redhead though is not inspiring but exhaling, and he feels something tickling his nose.

Everything occurs very quickly; opening his eyes to the irritating feeling the first thing he sees are two big scared eyes looking at him in panic. He yells a rage-filled scream that echoes on the camp at the same time he grabs his neck. “INTRUDERS!”

Every Philip’s men freeze, some with dust on their hands, some others tiptoeing towards their next victim. Every single one of them paralyzed and silent until they see the redhead exit the cabin still grabbing the young warrior by his neck

“THEY ARE ATTACKING US! EVERYBODY UP!”

Night stops being calm to transform itself in a bloody mess. The cherub-like kids wake themselves up with a fury and ferocity that don’t match up with their young faces. Close to a dozen of men start exiting from the cabins and the redhead screams once again when the young warrior escapes from his hold by kicking him on the groin.

“Go get’em!” Philip orders, screaming at the top of his lungs as he raises his sword. The prince, at the forefront of their men and followed by them, attack to the oldest, starting the real attack. The first punches are followed by more kicks and suddenly everything are screams, swords and wounds. Some of the warriors fight hand-to-hand against the men and women in the shadows and others try to pry themselves out of the savage kids that hung from their shoulders and legs without hitting them too strongly.

Everything happens so fast that Emma hesitates, but she doesn’t have the time to think nor to blink. Regina passes her by like a comet with Rumplestiskin at her side and growling above the infernal noise of the battle. “Let’s go, Sheriff” and Emma, gun on hand, doesn’t need to be told twice as she runs obediently and puts herself at her side. The mayor’s footsteps seem decided and unstoppable but Emma realizes that every child, adult or teen that tries to touch them receive a hit by Rumplestiskin’s energy as they march directly to the house that presides over the square.

Before they reach the door Regina turns one single time, focusing on Snow –who is hitting a man twice as tall as herself and yet she has the time to turn towards her as well- They look at each other for a second but is enough; Regina thanks her without a word and Snow nods, knowingly. She could even say that from her lips seems to fall a “Go get them” before she returns to the fight. Regina squares her shoulders and repeats the same motto to herself.

“Let’s see what’s behind door number one” Grumbles Rumplestiskin with a calm that doesn’t hide the rage on his movements and the almost violet and blood-lusty determination on his eyes. Emma moves towards the handle of the door but Rumple’s crane stops her. In front of them Regina raises her hand and the door flees from its handles. “Superb Regina, you’ve always been superb” Murmurs with genuine admiration as he enters inside cabin just a few feet after them.

Regina doesn’t answer just looks around her where the sounds of the battle are almost imperceptible. “Don’t let anyone else enter” murmurs and Emma, somehow lost between the other two, sees how the Dark One turns towards the entrance and makes a quick move with both hands. One of the adults sees them inside the cabin and charges against them but once he arrives at the hole left by the door he is stopped and ends up being expelled a few meters through the air. Satisfied, Rumplestiskin forgets the door and looks at the house that Regina’s eyes have already studied.

An enormous hall distributes the place and permits the sight of the second floor which, as well as the first one, has line of doors that looks towards the entrance leaving the rest of the place behind them. Around them there are trunk-converted tables and rustic coaches over the only stone floor they have seen in the entire village. But if there is something that stands out for Regina is a simple oak door at one side. Emma follows her gaze and sees the door as well. It has a lock and seems to weigh three times more than any of the other doors that surround it. Her heart jumps inside of her chest at the sight of it.

“There” Regina mutters. This time the door doesn’t explode and the mayor’s hand moves angrily, her magic hitting the wood and tearing from the doorjamb. The hinges and the lock are barely any resistance against Regina’s power and they give up with a sound that seems like a whimper. Smashing the door against a corner of the room as if only weighed a couple of grams the door crashes against the floor with a bang. But they don’t care about it. They only care about one single thing, something that squeezes their hearts and hold every ounce of oxygen inside their lungs.

Emma, a few meters behind but without patience and hot-headed, is the first one to look inside.

“Henry!” The scream is anxious and euphoric at the same time.

Regina and Rumplestiskin put themselves at both of her sides and look through the door. There, kneeled and lying against a stonewall, is the kid with a confused look and completely still. But is Henry.

Regina smiles weepily and she can’t barely contain her need to throw herself towards him, hug him and never let him go again.

“What the hell has happened?!” The voice of that Owen’s jerk ricochets on the Hall. Above their heads, grabbing the railing that leads to the open space at the entrance the two kidnappers appear wearing pajamas alongside with a third stranger. Regina’s hate gaze rivals against Owens once he realizes what is happening on his own home. “How in the seven hells have you arrived?!”

Regina smiles ferociously with a huge fireball on her hand, ready to explain it to him with a plethora of very harmful details. 


 

Snow and James fight back to back. They enjoy the synchronization than just two fight buddies can possess. The arrows of the queen plough through the air searching for the most violent enemies and the sword of her husband keep a perimeter around them. The brunette hits a pimpled teen and hopes that the kick she has given him on his chest is enough to stop him. The bow, once again risen and readies once again, points towards the redhead that rose the alarm. James barely sees how the tall man falls while trying to take the arrow out of his back but smiles at his wife.

Snow’s concentration let her sees everything around her with an unusual quietness. Enemies move in slow motion around them and she is able to foresee when they will attack. That’s why her aim is so accurate. James, from his part, is pure raw energy, his reflexes superhuman as well as his strength. He fights just on instinct and he even smiles when he manages to dodge hits and return them back.

That’s why the fight together so well, how they fit together so uniquely. James looks at everything that happens inside the battle and nothing manages to break Snow’s concentration. Nothing but the broken scream of Regina floating above the battle’s noise.

“NO!”

And then Emma’s scream:

“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh”

Snow runs without thinking about it twice, not stopping when James screams her name or when a murderous-looking woman puts herself in front of her. Raising the bow, she hits the woman’s head without looking at her twice as she fells to the ground and keeps running towards where her daughter is.

She has realized how more than one enemy have ended up being expelled by the door every time they have tried to approach it so, while running, she throws an arrow to one of the windows. The glass explodes and she jumps herself inside the house, in the epicenter of the fight.

To be continued…

Chapter Text

Emma assesses her chances. If they run towards Henry they will be condemning themselves to a dead-end with almost no space to fight. Their only chance is to stay in the open space of the hall and protect Henry among them three.

Owen, Tamara and the unknown man run downstairs and Emma and the others run out of time.

"Henry, run!" Emma cries. Regina and Rumpelstiltskin wait for the trio at the foot of the stairs and take an attacking position with their hands full of magic.

Henry turns his head and stares at them: "I ... I know you, right?"

Regina's heart skips a beat and Emma’s breathing freezes and gets agonizingly trapped inside her chest. Their son doesn’t show any intention to move and Owen’s laughter resonates through the room.

"Henry?" Emma half whines, but the kid doesn’t seem to recognise his own name.

 “Don’t exert yourself, Savior.” Owen comes to a halt a step away from the floor. They are all standing, measuring each other, waiting for the first movement of the adversary. The calm before the storm.

"What have you done to him?" Regina’s tone is vibrant and neutral, so imperturbable and dangerous as the Evil Queen’s herself. The very same Queen who’s taking control of Regina to make her the most terrifying version of this woman.

"Simply, he hasn’t miss you that much... and no longer remembers you."

"You're dead." It’s a sentence. At all costs. It’s the sentence issued by Regina and she will make sure it’s executed.

It’s she who breaks the aberrant stillness. A huge fireball crosses the room and illuminates the room with a red light. But it doesn’t hit its target. Owen stops it as if blowing out a candle with a kind of stun gun that dissolves it in midair. This only seems to piss off the brunette even more. The following spheres leave her hands without truce and Rumpelstiltskin joins her with a deranged scream. Since that time there are three pistols cancelling their shells and the exchange becomes a crazy mess. Henry is out of the danger zone, but hides himself under his own arms.

"Enough of this bullshit!" The order comes from Emma, who points her gun at them. Silence falls and they can hear the sound of the safety being unlocked.

Owen and Tamara back a few steps, more unconsciously than seeking security. But the stranger doesn’t recoil, he just smiles.

"Do you think some lame bullets are rival for us?" They hear his voice for the first time, sharp and mocking, and notice his features. Emma’s entrails writhe with actual hatred towards this man and she distinguishes in his features a cruelty that overflows his eyes. He's tall, brown, dull, but this inhumanity grants him something supernatural. "For the Shadow?" He questions, full of arrogance.

"I wouldn’t mind to check."

"Go ahead, then!" He yells, delighted, and his histrionics are accompanied by an appearance over the head of them all. Through the ceiling, as if it were open, the shape of a being hovers. Vaporous and showing a deceiving, translucent appearance. Through the gloom of its body nothing but darkness can be seen. Before Emma can study the Shadow more in detail, the being swoops from above. Rumpelstiltskin covers his arms with fire up to his elbows. Regina emulates his strategy. She makes her hands burn and, simultaneously, positions herself in front of Emma.

But the rapid descent of the shadow has an announced destination. Owen and Tamara are cast aside and the being gets into the stranger, who laughs with pain when he feels it inside. He takes air with delight and opens his eyes, darkened and with pronounced grey circles. "You are not rival for us, nobody is."

"Let us take Henry and you won’t have to prove it." Emma proposes mockingly, peeking behind the protective shield that Regina has become.

"Impossible... He’s too valuable."

"Why?!" Regina, furious, barely contains herself and flames in her hands engorge.

"Are you kidding me, Miss Torch?" Owen spits this time, standing next to the unknown man. "Magic pollutes every drop of this poor child’s blood, we can’t allow for it to develop its power." He’s getting encouraged, proud to be the center of attention, and keeps talking. "He’s grandson of the Dark One and of the king and the queen united by true love, the Savior’s son, raised by the killer and sorceress Evil Queen. This child is an aberration... at least until we cure him."

"You shall not put a single finger on him." She growls like a lioness and lunges for them until Emma pulls her shoulder, slowing her down. The brunette lets herself be stopped, but glares at the blonde with all her loaded arsenal of fury, and Emma can only swallow deeply. She tries to calm her, to ask Regina with her eyes to trust her. The Mayor’s position loosens slightly, but that’s enough for Emma.

"Cure him? You mean take his magic." The Savior throws the accusation by opposing the trio and standing next to the two sorcerers.

"In case you didn’t realize when you saw the bracelet we gifted to Regina, we use magic to erase all traces of it. Not to give use to such a monstrosity." Tamara responds, sickened and guarded up. She’s overwhelmed by the desire to confront the intruders and can’t wait for the time to move against them.

"Are you sure?" Emma questions, provocative, trying to set them on edge. Something doesn’t fit and she needs all the information that they might let go. She directs a brief side glance towards Regina. The brunette is still with her lip furrowed but her look is a little more pensieve. She’s reflecting upon it, too.

"You just want to... distract us!!!" The stranger thunders, out of his wits. He jumps from the last step against them, his eyes injected with blood. Regina is the first to react, leading a massive fire ball towards his stomach.

"Demian!!" Tamara's scream lasts as long as Regina’s failed attack Regina. In a superhuman twist, the unknown man eludes her magic and falls a few feet away from them. He practically flies.

"Hello." He snorts, facing Regina. He stretches out his hand, grabs her neck and presses with brutality. Emma acts on instinct. She swoops down on him without thinking and delivers a kick loaded with rage against his stomach. She notice how her foot sinks deep in... and he doesn’t even flinch. He just closes his hand around the Mayor’s neck, before Emma can send second blow to his face. Her elbow strikes Demian's head, but he seems not to notice, and Emma suppresses a groan of pain.

Regina's gaze changes. It’s not her cries, nor his fury, not even her power what shows beast has been awakened. It's that look. More bloody, inhumane and cruel than any act she could perform. "Hello." She barks, looking straight into his gray, half-dead eyes.

She takes the hand strangling her neck and creates a huge flame. The smell of burning flesh and Damian’s cry make everyone cringe. The man lets her go, Regina laughs and the rest remain on standby.

"Bitch!"

"Perhaps, dear. But for you today, I am your worst nightmare." She savors her words and licks her lips. A blink after, she rips the air with a flick of her hand, and without touching Demian, five scratches adorn his chest and start to bleed. The man possessed by the Shadow closes his eyes and when he opens them, the wounds are gone.

"You will have to do better than this."

"I just started to have fun with you." She purrs, creating sharp knives from her fingers and throwing them wildly against him. Demian avoids them rising into the air. There where the blades get stuck, they ignite. She throws a second round and the man asnswers by plummeting against her, forcing her to retreat.

"Finish them!" He howls, taking advantage of the poor break he gets. Tamara and Owen don’t need any more encouragement. They leap on Rumpelstiltskin and Emma, who stop paying attention to the struggle between the two forces of nature, to deal with the two humans.

Tamara charges against Emma, pushing her and stamping her against a piece of furniture. The Sheriff’s weapon escapes from her grip and flies to a forgotten corner of the room. The wood creaks and Emma pants before getting Tamara off her and punching her. Tamara stirs and takes her hand toward the stun gun. The blonde holds her wrist and twists mercilessly, even when Tamara throws a blow with her other fist against her side. The brunette’s hand finally gives in and when the strange device touches the ground, Emma shatters it with a kick.

"Let's fight in the old-fashioned way."

"I forgot your magic is as useless as you, Savior." She muses mockingly and assuming an attacking position. "Let's see what you're capable of."

Emma covers her sored flank and ignores the taunts. She just wants to watch her eat ground and end her once and for all. Tamara dodges Emma’s right, but she eats whole her knee against her stomach. The brunette recovers quickly and Emma has to stop two strong kicks with her forearm.

Near them, Rumpelstiltskin laughs humorlessly, exchanging lashes of fire and pain with Owen. He avoids the Imp’s attacks annulling them the gun and counterattacking himself with the magic downloads the device produces. All beats sent by the Dark One aim the arm holding the gun, trying to break or to amputate the limb, he doesn’t care, whatever comes first. But he needs to get rid of that damn thing before it can touch him.

The last discharge passes by too close for his comfort and he’s finally fed up. He takes a deep breath and exhales forcefully, transferring it to his hands. Then a light beam traverses the distance between the two men and the gun is barely able to contain it. The coup, very diminished, crashes into Owen’s hip and he drops his knee to the floor painfully. Now the Dark One is happy. He tries again with a second beam, but Owen rolls away over the ground. The third, however, hits against someone’s feet, Tamara’s.

Emma, with a swollen lip and her hands raw, contemplates stunned as his opponent dances and moves her feet screaming in pain. She takes the chance to knee her and tear her down.

"I hope I don’t importune..." The Dark One mutters, walking towards Emma and watching the couple lying on the floor.

"You're always welcome." Emma pants as Tamara’s last blow of Tamara still resonates in her ribs.

"I'll take care of these two infants. Go to Henry.” Rumpelstiltskin orders, creating two fireballs in separate hands and playing with them as if they were juggling balls.

Regina and Demian exchange pure black magic in increasingly creative and painful blows and Rumpelstiltskin is delighted with Owen effortly trying to sit up and Tamara rushing desperately to find any electric gun at hand. Emma looks around and runs to the corner where Henry is still crouched.

She drops messily to the floor and hugs her son, surrounding him with her arms, with the love, fear and relief accumulated inside her. It doesn’t matter that he doesn’t recognize her yet or that he thinks she some kind of deranged stranger. She squeezes him against her, smells his hair and kisses him on the forehead. For a split second she ignores that they are in the midst of a battle and she limits to console Henry’s tremors. With the fourth or the fifth kiss, the brown haired head moves and looks for blue eyes.

"Em ... Emma? Mom?"

"Yes, Henry, it's me! We are here, everything is fine." She smiles tenderly, caressing his cheeks and trying to fight back tears.

"NO!!!"

Regina's voice sounds torn and Emma's heart shrinks in fear.


 

The Mayor hits the floor with a hard hit of her back-heel and causes a crack running from her feet to Demian. He flies over the danger but he’s forced to postpone his next move when the Evil Queen takes advantage of him being in the air and decides to have fun playing skeet with him. He dogges three purple rays that crackle beside his ears when they pass by grazing him. He flies a few feet away, steps aside for precaution and recovers at a safe distance from the blood-thirsty brunette. She will eventually yield to the power of the Shadow, but for now he admits that the woman is a decent opponent, even close to his level.

"I admit you have a very powerful aura. I can’t wait to taste Henry’s magic and see how much of it has been impregnated with yours." He hisses gentlemanly, sizing her up and trying to forge his counterattack.

"You talk in present..." Regina’s growl alerts Demian. His words, far from provoking her, have made her reflect and he goes back fearful to every word he has said. "The Shadow hasn’t fed on his magic yet... It doesn’t want to absorb his power, he wants to control him to possess him!" She exclaims, out of her wits. Her doubts begin to clear out. After tying the loose ends, her hatred towards that ghostly being, now hosted inside that miserable man, grows. She sends him a crooked and plaintive smile: "You are nothing, just a disposable tool that believes himself indispensable. Henry is what the Shadow wants, a body to stay in, a body with enough magic to make those who surround him pale in comparison."

"LIES!!!" She bellows like an animal. He lashes out against Regina with rage and without order; launches two energy balls with more strength than aim, delivers a blow of icy blizzard and tries to reach her once again flying over her head.

It’s there, more than two yards above the ground, where he hears Henry. Faint and almost off, but with a clarity that sticks in his ears. "Em ... Emma? Mom?" Demian turned around in the air and looks with horror into the child’s cell. The nosy Savior lays next to the child, smiling. He’s beginning to recognize her.

Demian senses it even before it happens. The Shadow gets rid of him. With violence, without worrying about leaving him abandoned to his fate. And Demian, devoid of the magical essence, falls to the ground.

Regina doesn’t see him collapsing. Her five senses are devoted toEmma, Henry and Shadow. To Emma’s loving and protective embrace. To Henry's blue eyes shining as he recognizes his mother. And to the diabolic Shadow pouncing on them.

She doesn’t think. It happens so fast that Regina doesn’t think. She just acts.

The dark and eerie silhouette throws herself against Emma, willing to go through her. To devour the magical essence of the Savior. To take Henry and get rid of her.

"NO!!!"

Regina's hand makes a turn and she doesn’t even need to utter the spell. Her magic knows instinctively what to do.

Emma doesn’t have time to look at her. Before finding out why she cries, she’s thrown into the air. Near her, a dark blur passes, but Emma crossing the room, flying and totally out of control, and she only manages scream.

"Aaaaaaaaaahhhh!!!!"

When she touches the ground, she does so with a painful crash that reverberates throughout her body. She wails and forces herself to open her eyes. She finds the Mayor’s frightened look and pain recedes a little. Emma imagines who has taken her away from danger and tries to smile. I'm fine, blue eyes whisper before both women turn to Henry.

He’s still trapped in the cell, but he’s no longer alone. The Shadow seems to have increased in size and covers the child’s frame as a gloomy mantle. Under his yoke, Henry's body becomes a rag and his head falls forward like a dead weight. Regina's hands are filled with fire and impotence at the same time because any false move could hurt Henry. And getting closer than two yards to that thing is not an option or her magic would be history.

The Shadow’s bright and sunken eyes aim her and squeeze her lungs. She look around for help but Rumpelstiltskin is enjoying a grim fight with Tamara and Emma is no longer on the floor but running crouched towards one the sofas to seek for shelter. Owen has escaped the Dark One’s attention and runs after the blonde, armed with his electric gun. The Savior hardly prevents the attacks and looks on the floor for her weapon without much success.

Regina feels as if she were splitting in half, unable to do anything and increasingly useless. She tries to control herself, to be cold and calculating, but this battle is being conquered by fear. They were just about to win... what happened?! She looks at both sides, her hands charged but in standby, and before her the vision she least expects occurs.

Snow comes through the window like an acrobat, somersault included.

Immediately, she stands up and what she sees is clearly different from what she expected. Emma crouches and stretches her arm besides a cabinet to try and take the gun, Owen tries to shoot her, but the sofa prevents him from doing so; the Dark One shoots magic blows to a weak Tamara like an authentic western cowboy, and she barely stands the attack; there is a stranger lying unconscious on the floor and Regina, alone and in the middle of the room, stands with her hands on fire and very still.

Regina and Emma look at Snow without understanding, until Owen spoils the moment:

"If you want to keep hidden behind the sofa, your mother is an equal valid bullseye, Saviour." Owen’s squawk forces Emma to look at him. Gun in hand, his arm pointing and ready to fire, the brunette has now become his target. Snow’s arch rests on her shoulder and she won’t have time to arm herself; she’s at this madman’s mercy.

"Mom..." Emma begs, squated down midway between Snow and the shooter, no time to reach either, no weapons to save the distance.

"Emma, you can do it! Magic is desire, do it!!!" Regina shouts firmly, with the authority of understanding the limits of her magic better than Emma herself. Surrounding the blonde, more and more energy accumulates and Regina, yards away from it, notices the swirling force generated by her panic. Rumpelstiltskin also repairs in the sudden accumulation of power and the focus turns toward ... toward the Savior.

But Owen is not intimidated by what can’t be seen. And he’s in no mood to wait and give Emma any advantage. He smiles, offering its most twisted and deranged gesture, and pulls the trigger.

"MOM!!!" Snow covers her head with her arms and Emma gives a full-throated cry, magic just one second of anger, pain and fear away of exploding. But it doesn’t.

A purple cloud emerges one inch away from Snow. Regina materializes, glorious, between them.

"Don’t move." The Evil Queen’s appearance terrifies Owen, who pulls the trigger with a little cry. Regina raises her hand and stops the discharge... almost on time. The pain comes before consciousness and blood. The artificial magic of the gun melts there where it impacts against the barrier raised by Regina, but she fails to cover herself completely. The lightning strikes her shoulder and gets through it, and the brunette falls to her knees with a cry of pain. Snow crouches beside her, holding Regina against her, not believing what just happened.

"Thank you for making it so easy for me to avenge my father..." Owen drips hatred and joy in every gesture, word and breath, and when he lifts the gun again and aims her heart, he shows an absolute happiness and Regina closes her eyes.

"Owen, no, she didn’t kill your father!" Emma, far away from the sofa she has used as a shield, looks at scene, desperate.

"What?"

"It’s true, it was an accident. In the forest." She sums up, trying to speak without letting the anguish dominate her voice dominates and choke her words. "She never wanted to hurt him."

Owen stares fixedly at Emma’s eyes. He bites his lips, puts down the gun and holds a whimper. Emma puts down her guard, the whining dies as a simple mocking sound and Owen’s sadistic smile returns.

"I don’t believe you."

He targets once more and the whole room glows with the power of a light beam. But the lightning isn’t coming from the gun this time.

"Don’t touch HER!" Emma's voice is born of her womb and fury that follows is reflected in her hand. The formidable lightning springs from the Savior’s palm straight towards a helpless Owen.

It sweeps the man away and drags him several yards across the room. Only then she closes her hand, frightened, and puts an end to Owen’s agony; the man is squirming like a rat, clutching his stomach.

"What the hell was that?" Rumpelstiltskin turns towards the three women, stupefied, and side eyes the wreck Owen is. "Was it you?" He asks, looking at Regina, who lies against Snow.

Despite the pain, the brunette feels a deep relief when she breathes and swallows hard. "No, Emma..." She mutters, looking at his battered shoulder. In a corner, Tamara flees to Owen while the Dark One focuses his interest in Emma.

"I'm impressed."

"Impressed?! They almost killed us, Gold! Could you not have stopped torturing Tamara for a second and lend us your help?” The blonde answers, out of her wits.The remains of panic still run through her body and get mixed with the adrenaline sprung by the recent events.

"If I had interfered we would have missed this wonderful intervention, dear,. Emma suppresses the urge to strangle him or to use that strange beam against him. Regina’s plaintive wail while she tries to get up is the only thing she has is interested in.

"Thank you, thank you, thank you..." Snow whispers, trying to help the brunette to stabd up. Regina, uncomfortable and inexperienced in receiving acknowledgments, nods and looks away everywhere. Emma runs to them and instantly the Mayor stretches despite the pain and remains firm, shying away the blonde’s attentions.

"Are you okay?" The sweetness in her question contrasts with the cry addressed towards Rumpelstiltskin seconds before. When their eyes cross, many more emotions than Emma’s anguish or Regina’s distant mask get mixed, but the Mayor doesn’t allow for more contact than required.

"I’ll live." She answers, touching the wound and trying to move the fingers. A sharp cramp invites her you to leave that arm alone for now, and she sighs, feeling sore.

"Does it hurt? Can I do something?"

"No." Her response is blunt and she notices Snow watching her, puzzled. Emma is silent now and that’s enough for Regina, but she tries to hide it. "Now we must return to what’s really important."

"So right..." Rumpelstiltskin croons.  "Where are you, Tamara?"

"Gold!" Emma's cry sounds more frustrated than she intends. Rumpelstiltskin sanguinary obssesion gets mixed with Tamara, with the frustration she feels at being torn away from Regina. But at least she manages to stop the Imp, who stands with a fireball in his hand, but nice and still.

"No, please..." Tamara wails, holding Owen's head on her lap, the man breathing trying to soothe the pain caused by Emma’s attack.

"You didn’t show mercy with my son, why do you think I’ll be willing to grant it to you?"

"We just obeyed orders..." She whines "We didn’t know was that thing was... I thought it was the right thing."

"I get to decide what's right..." He growls, increasing the size of the flames. Tamara covers Owen with her body as best as she can and trembles.

"Gold, no. We have more important matters." Snow takes the word this time and puts a halt to the fun Rumpel has in mind. "We must not give them reason to believe that magic is evil."

"Right..." Regina corroborates, turning her back to them. "They’ll have decent enough ty punishment staying trapped in this island."

Rumpelstiltskin enjoys this last statement and destroys happily the flaming ball in his hand. The three women observe the cell where Henry remains imprisoned and the Dark One joins them. His grandson is at the mercy of the Shadow, but that being is not moving away.

"Why doesn’t he attack us?" Snow asks, preparing her bow.

"That would be of no use and then our fire would damage Henry." Regina offers. "And he doesn’t attack us because the only way to control Henry is by staying close to him. It won’t risk let him escape its yoke."

"You won’t be able to defeat it... it’s too powerful." Owen, from the ground, coughs a few times. Emma is not clear whether he tries to help them out or piss them off, but the image of Henry unconscious surrounded by that thing is destroying her nerves and she needs answers.

"Explain yourself."

"It has devoured everything in its territory."Tamara  sighs, exhausted. "We thought it was eliminating the magic, but it was feeding on it. On each fairy, mermaid, magician or being we have hunted in this world or another."

"And you realize that just now?!" Regina barks furiously against the two inepts. In front of them, the Shadow stirs and tries to wrap his precious trophy even more tightly, threatening to strangle him. "Henry!"

"We're running out of time, what do we do?"

"I think... I think I have an idea" Rumpelstiltskin whispers, his voice barely a melancholic melody, nearly faded. After listening to Tamara, his world has turned upside down and Oracle’s words have come back to him. The words that predicted his destruction at the hands of a child. Now he knows what he saw. And he is at peace with that fate. "I hope it works... but you will be left alone facing the danger, my dears."

"What are you going to do?" Regina asks, dancing between concern and confusion.

"Get ready. I'll distract this thing. When it’s weak, kill it for good. Understood?"

"Rumpel ..."

"I'm just letting fate take its course." The cryptic words resonate and Rumpelstiltskin’s figure disappears.

"What the...?" Emma pants "Gold!!!"

Face to face with the Shadow. That's where he reappears. It’s a magical suicide.

"What if you fight with someone your own size?"

The Shadow utters a terrifying scream but Rumpelstiltskin is not intimidated. He stands still and smiling before the creepy creature and Henry's unconscious body. The Shadow grabs the Dark One’s neck with limb akin to an arm and Rumpelstiltskin feels instantly the brutal lack of air.

"No! What the are you doing?!" Desperation oppresses Emma, and she tries to rush towards the cell. Regina's hand grab her shirt without touching her skin but manages to hold her.

"Don’t stop him... I know what he’s doing." The Mayor sounds ceremonious and solemn.

"Killing himself?!"

"Something like that..." Regina’s calm demeanor gets on Emma’s nerves. "It’s on us to avoid it from happening."

"What?!" But Regina answers no more. She’s lost in the fight between Gold and Shadow, even though that surrender can’t be considered an even battle. Rumpelstiltskin offers no resistance and falls to his knees, giving in to pain. Everything he has been for decades, all the power he amassed and gave life to the Dark One is being ripped away from him. And it hurts, it hurts like knives slicing his soul, like flames licking his body inside.

But he can’t stop smiling. The Oracle’s words echo in his head and Rumpelstiltskin the crumbles them as if he were seeing her in front of him. You will be destroyed by a child... His smile grows.

The Shadow feds on this appetizing piece, a juicy morsel that exudes magic and carries an irresistibly powerful aura. When all that rush of energy begins to enter its being, the creature vibrates and receives it satisfied. But at the same time it begins to shrink on itself. Black magic. Strong, unstoppable and almost infinite; delicious but harmful as a poison.

Rumpelstiltskin, purple, gasps and tries to take a breath, but the Shadow won’t let him go. He’s becoming less magical, more human, more mortal. But he knows that the Shadow craves his power even if it pollutes it, and that it won’t let him escape easily. He knows these symptoms profoundly, he knows the addiction the Dark One’s essence ignites.

"It's going to kill him!" Snow shouts, frightened, trying to bring some sense into them. Emma remains pending on Gold and Regina, waiting for the brunette to give the order to intervene. The Mayor stares fixedly, hoping she’s right on her assumptions. None of them moves.

Rumpelstiltskin’s hands close desperately on the arm absorbing his magic and squeezing his windpipe and he tries to get free, unsuccessfully. There is hardly any life left in his body and much less power, but he pleads for his last magic drops and summons the remnants of their essence. With his last breath he manages to get his fingers burning shyly, and while he feels how the last vestiges of magic escape his body, the Shadow lets him loose, shrieking in pain.

He crouches on all fours, fills lungs anxiously and rubs his neck. But the Shadow wants more, it wants everything. It throws himself on him and Rumpelstiltskin crawls backwards, trying to get away as much as he can. The Shadow goes after him and pounces on him. The Imp shouts:

"NOW!"

"I am too weak to do it alone, Miss Swan." Regina whispers, getting ready for the attack. "I put the theory, you put the batteries..." She growls, looking at Emma.

"What are you…” Talking about. She doesn’t get to finish the sentence. Regina grabs her hand and pulls her. Emma takes the chance to intertwine her fingers with the Mayor’s and ignores the withering look she gets. She just lets herself be carried away by the brunette, intil they are a few yards away from the cell.

The Shadow observes both women and slows its attack on the human rag that Rumpelstiltskin is. The creature has left Henry  behind to destroy the Dark One and now it realizes its mistake. Before it starts a desperate flight, Regina shouts, raising her hand, and a second later a painful cloud of fire hits the being’s back.

The eerie sound emanating from the Shadow echoes hard and Snow has to cover her ears. Regina doesn’t stop despite the squeak and Emma stands by her side, trying not to close her eyes in the face of the torrent of magic running through her body towards their hands. The Mayor mercilessly destroys the Shadow, that flies erratically around the room, but it’s Emma’s magic what’s doing it. Both magics intermingle, act together and although Regina is weak, their essences are linked with a powerful perfection. The creature agonizes, flies over their heads, threatening and trying to escape, but Regina is relentless, and she’s enjoying this too.

The Shadow tries one last strategy and plummets over them, screeching with all its might. It gather all the white magic and Rumpelstiltskin’s obscenely evil power and rushes against them. Regina doesn’t take her hand away, but she closes her eyes and Emma notices that she’s squeezing her tigh. Emma stands firm, she look at that thing descending violently and gives Regina all the power stirring under her. A torrent overflows the woman and generates a flare the size of a person. The Shadow doesn’t have time to stop and its squeak is heard throughout the whole village.

It goes through the fire and never comes out.

Regina smiles, squints and gives a soft laugh. She has no energy for anything else. Her surrounding become a little fuzzier than it should, but two things keep her feet on the ground. Henry's voice in the distance shouting "Mom!" and Emma's hand stroking hers. For that split second she forgets about the pain in her shoulder, about the barriers she has raised against Emma and about the panic and hatred that dominated her mere moments before. She looks at Emma and smiles. With so much happiness that it overflows her.

The blonde lets Regina go reluctantly when they run to Henry. The boy waits for them half standing in the cell with a smile racing theis, and when Regina's arms wrap him firmly, he returns the hug and lets himself be lifted into the air. He notices his mom crying against his neck and murmuring nonsensical things.

"Henry... honey... I've missed you so much..."

"And I missed you, Mom. But I'm fine. You see? Not even a scratch.” He says, trying to sound firm and serious, but manages but increasing Regina’s smile and tears. When she look into his eyes, she accepts he’s finally safe, everything’s fine and that very acceptance multiplies her tears of emotion. She tries to dry her cheeks and loosens her grip on Henry, who seconds after is engulfed by Emma. He lets it be, happy and smiling.

"Kid... don’t do this to us again ever again." She jokes, leaning her forehead against Henry’s and laughing with him.

"I promise." He hugs Emma’s neck very hard and sighs, calm and happy. Their mothers would come for him, he always knew… From the blonde’s shoulder he sees Snow’s bright and moist eyes and Goldos soft but warm smile, and when he reaches the ground he runs towards them. They both hug the child, filling him with kisses and joking about never letting him again.

"I knew you'd come." He smiles, tucked between them. "I told you!!!" This time he speaks for Owen and Tamara, and even Demian, moving imperceptibly on the floor, slowly leaving the unconsciousness after the hit.

"You see? Such a know-it-all brat!" Emma whispers her words to Regina, who quietly observes Snow kissing her son on the head. The waves of happiness and emotion are slowing down to make way for calm and, when she turns towards her, Regina is again the cool tempered woman who has no interest in talking to the blonde. The bright and cheerful brown eyes close again for Emma, who only sees in them a scrupulous and cold distance.

"Yes, you were right, Miss Swan." She takes a step back and gives her back to Emma, interested only in hugging Henry a little longer. Emma, by their side, accepts the coup and looks at the floor, the place where her mood has gone. She sighs and tries to compose herself. Although something uncomfortable and painful squirms inside her, Henry is safe and she feels that, for now, she can’t ask for more.

It's time to see what happened in the pitched battle outside. The rest will have to wait ... again.

To be continued…

Chapter Text

They are nearly in the dark, but the camp seems more alive than ever. The small and not so small and Lost Boys are still armed and showing not very peaceful attitudes. But the enemy has changed. The Shadow's control is nothing but ashes now and each spear, bow or stone is now directed to adults who worked for it. Nobody fights anymore and the army of villagers has ceremoniously retreated, letting the children take over.

Emma, from the cabin, looks impressed at the fifty children circling like a real detachment something less than 20 wounded and battered adults, who show genuine terror on their faces. Beside her, Rumpelstiltskin searches for Regina with his eyes and nods toward the entrance. The Mayor understands him without words and raises her good arm with a little flick of her wrist to remove the spell.

"We can go out now."

She walks to the door and observes in the passing the mystery Rumpelstiltskin represents. She doesn't hide her fascination for him right now. For this fifty something, caned and tired man. He admires this man much more than the obscenely powerful Dark One that has been part of her life or the manipulator that own half Storybrooke. For the first time, she feels not only admiration for the cruel Dark One but also respect for the man who once was behind.

When they step on the village the army holds its breath and a cry of collective joy dominates the square at the appearance of the four walking on their own feet and an extra brown and smiling head.

"Henry!" James cries, dropping his weapons and running to them.

"Grandpa!" He exclaims happily, hugging him and being raised in a twinkling.

"You're good? Have they done anything to you "

"Nothing at al.l" More than his, words it's his radiant smile what really calms the prince. "They have also given them their due." He adds proudly, still hanging from his neck and looking at his four saviors.

"No, no, NO !" The squall breaks the reigning happiness and attracks the interest of the army, the Lost Boys and the reduced minios of the Shadow at the door of the main cabin. "This should not end like this! NO!" Demian, with an ugly cut in his forehead, remains in the door and holds Emma's gun above his head. The Lost Boys recognize the weapon as the metal things that many of the Shadow's men used to hunt but Philip's subjects have no idea what that contraption is.

Those who do recognize it get on guard. Snow is slowly trying to reach for her arch, but Demian clicks his tongue and shakes his head pointing at her. "I wouldn't try that, princess. You have the aim of Robin Hood, but I doubt you're Billy the Fast."

"Demian..." Emma calls, intending to distract him from targeting anyone with her gun, especially her mother. "Don't make things worse .. We don't want to hurt you."

"Hurt me? You already have! You have destroyed the Shadow... you have destroyed me!" He pulls his hair, deranged, and moves the gun randomly. "No, this wasn't supposed to happen... I was supposed to be the Shadow, the most powerful being in this and all worlds! And you're going to pay for it..." Of all his cries, it's this last whisper, half off and crazy, the one to set off Regina's alarm. Demian's disturbed movements stop and a mere blinking after that he targets Emma and shoots.

Emma, petrified, looks at her own weapon being detonated against her, most of the people there bend down to the detonation and Regina snaps her fingers. The bullet disintegrates like chalk inches from touching the blonde's body and a second click makes Demian scream.

"Do you like firearms, Demian?" The brunette's regal and purely evil bearing croons brunette in each of her words. The man's arm slowly bends against his will and the gun turns towards him with parsimony. "Do you like shooting? Would you like to do it now?" She offers, the most tender of questions, dominating his arm and enjoying for every inch that it yields. She is in no hurry at all.

"No, please, no..." He whines, losing his dignity word by word.

"You kidnapped my son, you tried to kill us and now you shoot us in the back... please, what?" Three inches more and gun will point between his eyebrows.

"Please don't kill me…"

Regina's sweet and perverse voice resonates in everyone's ears and except for her, everything stays in silence. "It sounds so nice when you say that. Besides, it's you holding the gun, not me."

Demian's stirred and broken breathing sounds like a gale in the middle of the night and Regina remembers when her ears danced to that sound. She doesn't find it as fun and rewarding as before, the idea of killing has lost its touch of delight. But she feels enough hate, anger and pent-up rage to overlook that little detail and end that miserable life, to end that man who has threatened the life of her son, her own... and now Emma's.

"Don't do it." Nobody dares to address Regina for fear to encourage her to do just the opposite. No one except Emma. "Regina, don't kill him, please"

Hatred doesn't disappear from the Evil Queen's eyes when they stop looking at Demian to rest on the Savior. But at least an iota of humanity returns. Pissed off, angry and eager-for-revenge humanity. But humanity anyway.

"Why? Because it would be a cruelty and murder, because it's not right and there are children in front of us?" She asks mockingly, getting the weapon ever closer to Demian's skin.

"No..." Emma mutters, holding Henry in her arms and begging to be right. "For all those reasons and because you don't want to. Because you're not that person anymore, I know... we all know."

Regina pride swells with Emma's stupid and humble arrogance. She hates those liberties Emma takes. She doesn't stand the she looks at her, the way she treats her, the way she deals with her as if talking to one of her own, one of the good people. Does she have to dismember Demian so that the blonde understands who she's talking with? She is the Evil Queen, for the love of God. Something that, apparently, Emma has never reached to understand. And perhaps that's what has always make her different to the others... maybe that's what makes Regina feel better with herself by Emma's side than surrounded by a million of her former subjects.

She snorts, sickened and if that were not exasperating enough, her son's tender eyes also focus on her, toaded with sweetness. "Let him go, Mom, let's go home."

And there, next to Emma and holding out her little hand, he seems an extension of the Savior. He smiles quietly, not caring that she's pointing to a man with a gun. Without the slightest trace of horror or suspicion... knowing beforehand that she'll do the right thing. These two damn unbearable smart-ass...

The gun barrel, nailed against Demian's forehead, leaves a red furrow on his skin and Regina smiles dripping sadism.

"You have chosen a shitty day to piss me off." Demian closes his eyes, sniffles and James, twenty yards from him, would swear he hears him pray. "But with all these Charming so close... you'll get lucky."

Demian's arm is back under his control and the man collapses like a childish wimp, falling to his knees and crying nonstop. With a flick of the wrist, Regina makes the gun fly from his fingers to Emma, who observes her weapon sail through the air to her before catching it.

"Try to keep an eye on your things, Sheriff."

A dozen of the Lost Boys cry in euphory and surrounds Demian, binding him and pushing his battered and shaky body up to where the other adults stand. Emma risks having that same gun suddenly pointing to herself when she to lets out a small smile. She earns a disdainful glance from Regina, who moves away towards Philip's army, whose unharmed men are preparing to go, but she can't help it. She doesn't say it out loud but she thinks to herself: "I always try to keep an eye on you..."

"Come on, kid." She mutters, crumpling Henry against her and kissing his dark head. "They're waiting for us in the camp."

"They are? Who? What camp? Is it a long way til there?" Emma breathes, filled with deep love and patience, and accepts that she has missed even the child's inquisitive questionings.


Neal admires Aurora's composure and patience. In the last ten hours, he has created a pit beneath his feet due to his walking from one side to the other while the princess remains seated and calm. It's true that in that battle his father, his son and the woman he loves are implicated, but she has seen her husband go to the fight, together with her best friend and a quarter of her people! Where does she take that serenity from? And how could he catch a little for himself? Habitude, he guesses...

From one side to the other, never stopping his steps. That's how he entertains himself as the sun begins to reach the village, but without Philip's army. He looks at Aurora again and the princess's determined and serene smile soaks a little inside him, enough to stop his walk for a moment and listen to one of the children of the village, who comes running up to them.

"Majesty, the prince and his men are close, we have seen them from those trees over there."

"Philip!" The princess erases all her aplomb at a stroke with full-throated cry and runs towards the edge of the village with her dress blowing in the wind and without even thanking the child.

Neal stirs the child's hair fondly and squeezes his shoulder. "Thank you, Tamer." The little boy stretches, pleased to have been congratulated by the wounded stranger, and watches with pride as he walks at full speed behind the princess.

The whole town comes out to greet the soldiers and volunteers with cries of joy and celebration, but neither hides their curious glances trying to locate the famous Henry. The boy who escaped from the Shadow's clutches... like his father.

When Henry enters the village, he already knows who will be there waiting for him and is not disappointed. His father is kneeling on one knee with the most radiant of the smiles and ready to embrace him at his same height. It doesn't matter that he has been under the control of a shadow, that he has seen fireballs and shooting, or that he has spent entire days in a cell. He runs as if had just gotten up from bed and had tons of energies left, and smashes against his father without much care but with all his love. For once, the roles are reversed and instead of being embraced and snogged, it's Henry who hugs Neal, who lets the kid do happily.

"You're all right, Dad!" Neal almost drools when he hears the endearment and hugs Henry harder. "The good guys always win, always!"

"Of course, Henry." Neil corroborates, looking at him. "Besides, now you have your own to tell."

"Yes!" He yells, euphoric. "I just don't remember everything... well, I remember just a little ..." he admits, twisting his face and wrinkling his nose, which earns him another hug and a laughter from his father.

Neal knows for the young watchmen that everyone returned alive and well, but that doesn't calm his anxiety. He look over Henry's shoulder and his father's quiet footsteps and Emma's intense walking trample all his fears. It's not that he doesn't care about the others, but right now he has eyes for no one else.

He doesn't want to get away from with Henry, but he can't lift him with his wounded arm. It simply stands up and waits beside his son. Rumpelstiltskin runs as quickly as his exhausted knees allow hi, and although it may seem corny he hugs her son as if he'd just found him. Only he knows that he thought he was walking towards death, towards destruction... in every sense.

Neal hugs his father, laughing at his effusiveness, and once in his arms he feels like the little boy his father used to hug so many years ago. Something has changed. He senses it.

"Papa... you are... different?"

Rumpelstiltskin holds his breath and moves away from his perceptive son with a smile. He caresses his chin and, nodding toward Emma, he sighs. "There will be time to talk."

The blonde stands and waits, not knowing what to do .She has seen Neal just few hours ago and she doesn't feel the need to run towards him like Henry or Gold. She knows what's expected of her. She sees it in her parents' glancing eyes, in the way Rumpelstiltskin steps aside, leaving his place to her, but she doesn't feel she wants to be there, not anymore. She wants to celebrate they have won too, but hugging Regina and getting lost of joy in her lips. Is that too much to ask for?

But the Queen gets away, turning her back to them and Neal claims her with the happiest of the smiles and Emma doesn't know what to do. She finally walks to where father, son and grandson stand and lets Neal hug her tightly.

A hug doesn't cost that much, right?

But a whisper in her ear does. "I was so worried..." Emma pats his back and answers like she can against his shoulder.

"I told you we would take care..."

Neal steps away and caresses her cheek without noticing how Emma tenses under his touch. And much less how he the gesture stirs the bile in a dangerous and angry witch who tries to stay far away for everyone's good.

"I should have guessed that the Savior would have everything under control."

Emma appreciates his affection with a smile, but gradually gets away from Neal, who apparently haven't heard about personal space. She recognizes his smile, his movements, and remembers how that same attitude used to precede a kiss. She touches his shoulder with a couple of taps and walks away before it becomes worse.

"We should rest." Emma muses, looking at the eyes of those there. She crosses eyes with some knowing looks and regrets not having realized the pun in her words.

"It's not a bad idea..." Snow yawns, wondering the approximate number of muscles that tomorrow will hurt.

"No. We must get back to Storybrooke. Now"

They are already used to Regina's cold and imperative interventions, but this one catches everyone off guard. They have rescued Henry, they are safe and there is no reason to be grave and serious. Or in the Mayor's case, of the mayor, cretinous.

"Regina, we haven't slept in 24 hours..." Snow wails, clinging to James's waist with an expression of genuine drowsiness. "Not to mention the rest..." She adds the latter looking pitying at her shoulder. Compassion, Regina's favorite feeling.

Snow's attitude does nothing but reaffirm her position. She wants to go and not spend any second more in this damn island, surrounded by them and with no choice but to put up with their company. The Charmings and their prudish love, Hook's old fashioned flirting, and Neal's dopey love-eyes. She hates this corny-full-of-love island, and she just wants to get back her life and freedom in Storybrooke. But perhaps it's not a good idea to use these same words to convince them...

"An hour will suffice to take care of the wound. And please understand that every minute we spend here is a couple of hours in our town, Snow." She imitates the princess's own compassion and pretends a worried tone. "What we are living as days might be weeks for them. Imagine their suffering."

Oh, her sweet dwarfs, Ruby and Granny, Archie, Belle ... They left behind their loved ones. And she doesn't regret that, it was the right thing to do. But they are in Storybrooke, with no word from the expedition and no more hope than expecting to see a ship show at some point and thus confirm that their friends are not dead. She can't imagine how much they must be suffering.

Regina's words hit her squarely, and instead of wondering why the brunette is suddenly so worried about these, Snow changes her stance radically.

"That's true." She muses, looking pensive at her husband who has also twisted his face at the thought of his people.

Neal comes forward, chivalrous: "I can make the first turn."

"With that shoulder?" James inquires.

"It's healing... And this is about maintaining the grip on the helm, not fighting."

The fact that Neal is their main support gets on Regina's nerves, but as long as she loses sight of him, she can accept his aid. "If we organize things properly, an hour will be enough to put everything in order, collect the beans and prepare everything we need for the trip." She summarizes addressing to Snow and James, who she knows will have the last word in the matter. The last traces of doubt are disappearing from their eyes and Regina touches victory with the tip of her fingers. One last lunge: "What do you think?"

"Let's do it!" Snow turns around excitedly, looking at James and dreaming of walking the the streets of their town as soon as possible. The prince shares her joy and Regina guesses she has them. Emma and Henry look at each other and, without words, confirm that neither of them understand what's happening. But everyone is already on the move. Neal, James Snow and are driven by a cheerful motivation and Rumpel and Hook let themselves be infected by the energy in the ambience. Regina, however, abandosn the group quietly and walks toward her cabin.

"Mom!" Henry calls. He takes a couple of strides up to her and grabs her hand. "May I go with you?"

No tricks, no hidden intentions in the smile that lights Regina's face of. Listening to endearment followed by the tender request grants her a second of complete happiness and although he can't come with her, Regina melts with tenderness at the gesture.

"Honey, it won't be nice..." She strokes his head and leaves a smacking kiss on it. Over his shoulder she sees Emma and, not far from her, Neal, who looks at her as she were fountain in the Sahara. "Why don't you stay with Emma?" She offers casually and full of innocence. Perhaps Neal leaves his fountain in the middle of the Sahara alone if there's a small boy with her...

"Okay ... But will that take long?"

"I'll be as quick as possible, honey." She leaves two more kisses on his cheek; seeing Henry devoted to his gestures of affection instead of rejecting her makes her heart flutter. Things are not that bad if she has something as precious as her son's love.

She walks away without looking back, feeling Emma's glance, but has no interest in crossing it. The Savior wants to say something and offer to go with her. The mere idea of Regina enduring alone something that promises to be very painful is wracking her nerves. Besides, she's also certain she can help... But Gold comes forward and Emma loses all her courage.

"Are you going to heal yourself?" Rumpelstiltskin grabs her arm to stop her footsteps, Regina nods and he comes closer. "Can I help?"

As a response, a grateful smile and an affectionate grip on the man's shoulder. "I think I'd rather take care of this alone..." She mumbles, sincere. She pleads for that moment of solitude and, although it will be torture, she's eager to be alone with her thoughts for the first time in days. Rumpelstiltskin nods accepting her decision and Emma observes Regina's figure getting away from them, while others start with the preparations.

"Do you want me to come with you to take your stuff?" Neal's attentive proposal catches Emma off guard, so she answers, half awkward half uncomfortable:

"I already have an assistant, right?" She smiles and puts Henry against her body. The small boy cuddles her, unaware that he's being used as a parapet and Emma tries to divert the attention looking at Neal and nodding towards Rumpelstiltskin.

"Doesn't anyone want to talk with me today?" He jokes and laughs, but gets Emma's message and remembers he has a pending conversation with his father. "I'll see you soon..." He answers, smiling sideways. "Both of you.." He adds, stirring Henry's hair before heading to his father.

Emma walks the opposite way, towards the same hut inside which Regina disappeared and where her clothes and the rest of her things are. Henry walks and jumps around her repeating excited that she has to tell him every detail, that she can't leave anything out, that he wants to know every chapter of her first adventure as the Savior outside Storybrooke, and Emma can't but smile at him tenderly.


Thirty minutes later, Emma is still staring at him spellbound and full of love, and Henry in turn remains curled on the bed and sleeping soundly, victim of exhaustion. The blonde looks at her reflection on a rustic wall mirror and finishes arranging her clothes. They're dirty and a bit unkempt, but they are clothes and she feels much more comfortable in them. She collects the borrowed clothes, puts some order orders in the few things she has touched and closes her bag, ready for the return trip.

She takes the only chair in the room and places it beside the bed. She sits down facing the back of the chair and hanging a leg from each side, resting her chin on the wood and looking at Henry's quiet gesture. Calm floods her too. She smiles, this is the first time she's really enjoying of him. Even though he sleeps. Gently, she takes a lock of hair away from his forehead and sighs. Touching his black hair, she thinks; she thinks about many things. She thinks that without she would be lost. She thinks that he looks like an angel in his sleep. She thinks about how similar his mannerisms are to Regina's.

The Mayor... She too would enjoy watching Henry now. But instead of being here, watching their sleeping and newly rescued son together, she's in another room, alone, using the little power left in her body to heal a magic strike. She grabs the chair and uses it as an anchor to prevent herself from going in Regina's search. It's not her most original plan and she end up being the one with a hole in her shoulder. Or maybe in another, more vital part of her body. But this is what she feels and she can't do anything about it. Nothing except grabbing the chair and holding on.

If she hadn't agreed to talk to Neal. If she hadn't agreed to stay alone with him. If she hadn't accepted him approaching to her and kissing her... If she simply hadn't rollaly screwed things... So many what ifs that she gets angry with everything and nothing and she reaffirms her desire to fix things for real. If Regina wasn't so stubborn... She knows she has hurt her, but why wouldn't she let her explain? Fear gets inside her stomach and she stirrs it like in a cauldron. What if it's not just the kiss? What if actually Regina regrets what happened? Some pain and also a hint of apprehension is added to the fear and cauldron her stomach has become into threatens to throw up the recipe.

She doesn't get to vomit, but maybe, just maybe, this explosive recipe that has formed in her stomach swallows her bravery slowly and appeased her mind. Suddenly talking to Regina doesn't seem such a good idea anymore...

Two strokes against the door pull her out of her reverie and the fear that has invaded her withdraws carefully and hides behind her heart. She doesn't answers aloud. She gets up carefully and walks to the door, opening it in total silence.

"Everything okay?" Snow asks. intrigued by the way she acts. Emma smiles tenderly and opens the door further letting both she and James get to see Henry sleeping. Both release a synchronized "ooooh" full of tenderness and Emma contains a laugh. It must be a grandparents thing... "Regina is ready, we're going." James whispers softly and slowly enters the room. He dodges Emma and takes Henry in arms slowly.

"We don't have to wake him, right?" He asks as he passes both women. Emma closes the door behind them before heading to the main square, where the rest of the crew and their three hosts wait for them.

Hook, who hasn't changed his clothes in the whole trip is somewhat cleaner but still the same. However, Regina has regained her black shirt and electric blue jacket and Emma's mouth dries at the sight of the imposing Mayor standing in the square. Imposing and haughty Mayor who remains beside Mulan, Philip and Aurora and ignores her arrival.

It's seeing her and accepting the facts. This woman is beyond her strength. Whether she likes it or not. And she doesn't. Because fear is still there crouched inside her gut and it pricks and growls and tells her to be still or Regina will swipe her and break her inside. Perhaps even literally. But the sight of the stunning Mayor is overwhelming and Emma changes her mind again. She will talk to her, no matter how bad it can get. At least she wants to try. She needs to.

She doesn't take her eyes away from Regina and after a sudden movement she sees something white near the base of her the neck. It's not that she has become and erudite in Regina's body, but she knows that wasn't there before. She focuses her eyes with as much discretion as possible and she distinguishes it. It's a piece of cloth, a band to be exact. If she's healed... why is she wearing it? She isn't sure whether it's coincidence or not, but Regina repositions clothing and ensures to cover all traces of the band, and Emma takes her eyes off her skin.

She looks for signs of pain or discomfort in her face, but Regina is pure impassivity. And that same mask is what finally convinces Emma. They'll talk, whatever the cost .. whatever the response she gets.

"We 'e ready." She announces, confident "Shall we go?"

Regina's who answers her, and for a microsecond, she smiles happily. Until she listen carefully to her words and notices the brunette's mocking her: "Oh, is that Rumpelstiltskin and Neal are not accompanying us in this trip?"

Emma finally settles her gaze beyond the Mayor and notices two things. First, father and son are actually absent for the moment. Second, that everyone looks at her somewhat concerned for her lapse. Except for Regina, who not only doesn't look at her but also shows a mocking grin.

"No, yes, of course..." She mumbles, uncomfortable.

"We should warn them that we're ready." Snow takes over. Everyone nods, Emma included, at least until she senses, one more damn time, all eyes perched on her.

"Oh, I, of course ..." She answers unthinkingly and smiles uncomfortably. She wonders why everyone assumes that it's up to her and she imagine it's because she's, officially or unofficially, Neal's favorite person. She doesn't like the title, but no one seems willing to ask for her opinion. She puts her hands in her pockets and twists her forced smile. "I'll be right back"


"You hit Tamara in the ass?"

"Yes, with a flaming bal.l"

"Papa!" Neal exclaims smiling, pretending to scold him.

"Twice."

"Papa!" This time he simply laughs though his tone still tries to sound like a scolding. Rumpelstiltskin ends up laughing with him and, during that sigh, he realizes that this is why he fought so hard for many years. To recover his son. Not only to see him again but to be able to tell him that he'll stay by him, like when they were a family years ago.

He has what he wanted and he doesn't care about the price he's had to paid.

"Papa..." Three times in a row in just a minute. Gold gives him a big smile even though he knows three times make it, and that his last Papa implies a question his son will soon ask. "What's the matter?"

"Why should there be any matter?"

"Haven't we already gone through the reciprocal honesty lesson?"

Rumpelstiltskin looks down and nods. "We have beaten the Shadow,, that's what really matters, right?"

"But how? That damn indestructible thing didn't have rivals…"

"Until we came." He boasts, conceited. Neal smiles but doesn't speak. He won't until you hears the whole story "Regina and Emma finished it off, fire against Shadow, and reduced it to ashes. But it had to be distracted."

"And you took care of that?"

"Exactly. From dark being to dark being, I knew it wouldn't resist a good bite of magic."

Neal's eyes threaten to spin out of his eyes. "You offered yourself as bait?"

"More or less..." He admits, directing his eyes anywhere but to his face. "Regina was hurt, Emma can't guess two and two in magic and I knew it would not resist me. Besides my power is life and poison at the same time. And especially, it's nearly infinite. The best bait to keep it entertained for a long time. "

"I can't believe you did something like that for Henr ... I can't believe you risked that much… and your magic, nothing less!" He has never, in all his years as a father, heard this timbre in his son's voice. Equal parts pride and admiration.

"Well, desperate times call for desperate measures..." He mutters, overwhelmed at his son's reaction. He tries not to blush like a child, but when Neal pulls him and hugs with an intensity that could break him, his biggest concern is not to burst into tears. He admits that if this is what it means to 'be brave', he's beginning to understand Charming and all those irreflexive heroes.

"But..." Neal gets away from him slowly, trying to clarify all the doubts that now dance in his head. "Then... your power... Do you still have magic?" He asks, doubtfully.


Emma walks along the corridor and counts the number of doors. The fourth one to the right, according to Philip. On having come, Emma it thinks two times before calling, totally mortified for interrupting their father-son moment, and shows her face behind it.

"Sorry... Am I interrupting?"

"Never." Neal smiles despite the question that has been left unanswered. "What's up?"

"Everyone's ready... We're going back to Storybrooke."

To be continued…

Chapter Text

 “Air Regina, the most effective airline” Hook seems like an advertisement as he jiggles himself out of the last remains of purple smoke that are still covering him. “You are foolproof” Murmurs smiling crookedly at the Queen.

“Thank you” Regina grumbles as she looks around her. With different variation of surprise everyone looks at each other and stare at the ship’s deck in which Regina had made them apparate. Emma is the only one who doesn’t count her limbs nor looks around her fascinated. Her interest lays on the Evil Queen who had just poofed seven adults and an asleep child even if her shoulder is still wounded. The dark grey circles under those chocolate eyes are more pronounced than before and she doesn’t have a good color on her cheeks.

“I just miss my beautiful boats…” Hook exclaims, nostalgic, as he looks at the beach. Regina seethed and moved her hands towards them. Obediently, they start plowing through the water as if they were motorized. “Thank you your majesty”

“I won’t put them up here”

“Of course” Nods, almost doing a courtesy, as happy as a little kid.

Emma breathes deeply. Hook doesn’t know the magic the mayor is wasting nor how that affects her so is not fair to imagine the pirate transforming himself into a slug. Is Regina’s fault for not being honest. Looks like is being too much asking the proud obstinate woman to be honest if that implies looking vulnerable. Emma takes a deep breath once again and tries for Regina to leave her mind for a second. Since Henry’s well-being is not in one of her top-preoccupations the mayor has much more space to be there and is frustrating.

James and Hook take care of the boats and Regina reclines herself against the gunwale impatiently.

“We throw the bean now?” She asks once the knots securing the boats are made.

“I’m afraid to say no, your majesty” Hook closes and opens his hand, number after having had to lift the two little boats to the ship. “Neverland has one of the strangest fauna I ever had seen and it spreads all over the island and around it”

“Sum up”

“The vortex will drag the ship and everything around it. I don’t want to risk it and carry with us a creature of this land to Storybrooke, it could be a disaster”

“What do you suggest?” Regina’s growl is so dark that Hook shudders at it. He doesn’t understand why the Queen is angry with him, he didn’t come up with the rules after all.

“A day, we will have put enough distance between the island and ourselves”

Regina doesn’t answer, she only stares at him before turning to look at the sea that can be seen beyond the ship. Hook feels as if he had been pardoned, of what he isn’t very sure.

“We shouldn’t delay it longer” Emma proposes, witness of how Regina has almost liquefied Hook with a glance “We should put Henry to rest and head back home” She tastes the words, feeling them strange. Truthfully, she doesn’t believe that they are going back home. Everyone talks about Storybrooke but now the city sounds more like a simple stop in the trip and not like the ending of it.

None of her comrades have said it with those same words, she doesn’t know that’s because of her or because the lack of habit. However, the way they have to talk about Maine leaves the city like an inn where they can rest and keep forward. Emma can’t avoid the vertigo that has settled itself on her chest. Is not an unpleasant sensation, more like a daunting one. How linked she is to the place she was born? How is that she can think on living in a place in where she only lived for a few minutes and not feel afraid?

Her father, carrying Henry, walks pass her and makes her return back to the present. She leaves her thoughts behind and walks pass James towards the dorm room. The wound of the ship creaks when they descend the stairs and creaks once again when a third set of footsteps follow them. Emma turns because of that and gapes. Neal walks towards them and joins the retinue with a pleasant “I will walk with you”

“Of course” Emma replies, eloquently and sharp. James doesn’t stop the impish glint that adorns his eyes from appearing and moves even faster towards the dorm if that’s even possible. In less than a minute Henry keeps his happy dreaming between Emma’s sheets and James exits the cabin quickly, leaving all discretion possible behind him. Neal doesn’t seem to want to follow James’s footsteps and once the door closes behind James Emma feels that there is no escape. Is not one of her most Charming thoughts but she would kick the asses of everyone that she would need to if that would grant her an escape from there. Is that one of the moments in which Emma wouldn’t care if she was really an orphan…

She tries to calm herself. Is Neal, nothing more. She can handle him. In fact, she needs to or she would never clear things up with him. Every other moment is as bad as this one, is not worthy to flee and length the agony… Before starting to walk from one side of the dorm to the other like a caged animal she sits herself in the bedroom, at Henry’s feet and forces a polite smile

Neal chooses a battered chair and moves until he is a few centimeters away from Emma. He looks fascinated to the woman she is now and his stomach does a few summersaults, nervous and happy. There, in front of his son, she looks more beautiful than ever and he can’t but get dizzy as he sees how she covers Henry with the sheets and gives him a lovingly kiss on his temple. Is an image that he would like to see every night…  As any family would do. He stops himself and contains a snort. Is the first time they are alone and he doesn’t want to frighten her.

Two inches away from his knees Emma isn’t afraid. She is paralyzed, uncomfortable and timid but certainly not frightened. She has decided to clear up things and she is feeling worse by the second. She at least would want to stop feeling Neal’s eyes buried on her head.

“These past months had been crazy, uh?” Neal is the first one to talk and Emma accepts it. Leaving her hand from Henry’s face she turns towards him “Here we go”

“I think crazy would be an understatement” Jokes while trying to find the easiest way of facing what she has inside. “But everything has end up well… I don’t want to focus on anything else.

“I understand you” Neal lowers his voice, lengths the words and moves his body slightly forward. “Is difficult to remember the bad times when you have at your side everything you would ever want to have” Reaching for them he puts one hand on top of Emma’s and the other next to Henry’s.

The savior’s alarms flare as she turns her lips in one fine line while trying to find the right words. “Neal…”

“Allow me to talk first” He asks and he covers her lips with one finger, a gesture that Emma feels sickeningly sweet and corny. However, when she tries to talk that finger caresses her mouth and she stills, fearing for the worst. “I haven’t been able to forget for one second what you told me when I fell from that portal”

Emma feels a punch on her stomach and tries to readjust herself. If she wouldn’t have say those damned and compassionate words. In that swift second between life and death she could have insisted on him to hold and try to climb up the whole or even say goodbye with a simple “I need you” After all he had been someone very important on her life; she was Henry’s father, his fiancé had just shot him and he was about to fall to a portal who knew where to. An “I need you” wouldn’t have been for the worst and it was true. But that “I love you” had been a cruel trick for him to make him fight, a charitable goodbye and the words that she thought he expected to hear. How she was going to explain that those words had been just compassion?

“Neal, I ‘as ‘ery sad” She speaks quickly but Neal doesn’t move his finger and her words stumble against her lips.

“I was very sad too…” He mumbles touched as he moves closer to her.

“You don’t understand” She finally says moving his finger from her lips. A movement he uses to pick up her hand and caress it. “It was a bad moment and…”

“There aren’t bad or good moments, just the ones we make for ourselves” Emma knows they aren’t having the same conversation and as her worry keeps growing Neal is living a romantic moment that only has her wanting to pull up her own hear. “And for me this is the perfect moment”

Neal bends and licks his lips. “Shit, there he goes” Is the last thing Emma thinks before he sees him moving forward.

What happens then is born out of instinct but she jumps and dodges him in the last second. She is about to fell out of the mattress but manages not to and looks at Neal from her new safe distance. She can recognize his smell but her lips are least safe from his taste.

Surprisingly Neal keeps his smile as that hadn’t been but a game. “I wasn’t expecting exactly that reaction” He jokes scratching his nape while searching for Emma’s eyes. “What’s up?” His question is so simple and carefree that Emma can’t believe how she is about to destroy his delusions.

“I… I don’t know where to start”

“Emma, we have all the time in the world. Start from the beginning”

She would want for him to not be so complacent, for him to understand what’s actually happening and for him to not put it so difficult. Her breath curls on the base of her neck and she is afraid to start crying at any given moment now. Is Neal. Even if she isn’t in love with him he is still important and the words she is choosing are hurting her even before saying them. Start from the beginning… Like when Henry went for her, carried her back to Storybrooke and Regina opened the door? From that beginning?

She dismisses that possibility and tries to look at him in the eyes. She apologizes with her faze before even to have opened her mouth and this time Neal sees the message. Emma can know her at the sight of his wavering smile.

“I…. remember what I said, every word… Neal, I love you, a lot, but…”

Neal hasn’t forgotten the feeling of bullets piercing his flesh, that damned and swift metallic object that made a hole on his skin and run through it and listening Emma’s weepy stutter, that “but”, he feels that sensation again, Without blood but the same pain.

“But not like I still love you” He says before her; he prefers to say it before listening it from her lips. Emma nods and covers her mouth trying to calm herself. For his part Neal breathes even stronger from his mouth and nose while taking a gulp of air trying to placate his pain. As he lets that gulp come out of his mouth he feels more tired than ever, as if his strength would dilute with his breathing.

“I’m sorry, I’m really sorry… I would have never should have said something like that, I didn’t want to make you suffer. I’m sorry…”

Neal moves backwards and puts his back on the chair’s, defeated. If there is something that breaks his heart more than Emma’s words is seeing her suffer. Love, even when is one sided, cannot be selfish.

“You don’t have to excuse yourself” He murmurs, taking his smile back from a hidden place of his body “Emma, you saved me. Your words gave me strength to keep living. I don’t know what I would have done without you.”

Blue eyes look at him slowly, studying the sincerity of his words before shredding tears. She has just broken his heart and he is sweet, she can’t keep up and tears take control.

“No, no, please, don’t cry” Neal holds it for a second before stumbling forward, hugging her. He circles her frame with his arms and lets her weeps on his shoulder. However, Is the most chaste hugs Emma remembers to have ever received and that makes her even cry more. Cries because he is a good man, because she has made him suffer and because admitting her feelings makes them sound more real, more tangible. What she feels for Regina awakes inside of her and puts itself on the its place and Emma, in that second, cries flooded with the fear of being rejected by the mayor in the same way she has just done with Neal. “Emma, is alright, I’m ok. I understand…” He mumbles while kissing the crown of her head.

“I’ve screwed up things so much…” She tries to calm herself and stop crying before there is more water inside the ship than outside.

“I wish every error would be as beautiful as yours” He whispers sincerely before kissing her forehead. He manages to have a tender, yet sad, little smile from her and he sits back on the chair, leaving her the space that until just a few seconds he hadn’t thought to respect. Now, remembering every moment with Emma he feels stupid; there was something that didn’t look good when they saw each other again, even in Storybrooke. Emma, his Emma from ten years ago, was passionate and jealous sometimes. However, when she had met Tamara she didn’t show any teeth. He had guessed that with time she had grew up, she had learnt to control herself. Just like she had controlled herself back in Philip’s village back when she had discovered that he had survived. Yes, he had been a fool… he was so in love that he had chosen to get blind by it. But no, with nothing blinding her eyes everything falls into its place. He isn’t a part of Emma’s life; not like he would like.

Picking up the pieces of his heart he makes a smile that holds itself barely by the edges of his lips. “We are going to start this ship to be back to Storybrooke from once and for all” He jokes while grabbing Emma’s chin with one understanding gaze.

“Start?” She asks, half-smiling “And you are going to be the one behind the helm?”

“As soon as you all are deep asleep you are going to be under my thumb… so no joking” Emma makes the gesture of sewing her own lips and Neal’s snickers. “Let’s go”

The two of them stand up and Emma doesn’t follow him and he turns to look at her “Thank you”

He shakes his head, ending the problem “You own me nothing”

Emma looks at Henry one last time before exiting the cabin behind Neal “Sleep well kiddo”


 

Hook gives the orders in front of the helm and the others work as one; James even admits that without the adrenalin and fear they had felt back in the journey towards the island the move of this huge-ass ship is proving more complicated than ever even with a pair of extra hands. Plus, Neal doesn’t look very focused on the shop and at this rate he will end up hanging from the sail by stepping his foot in some forgotten rope.

“Emma, pull! Hook orders trying to move the helm. Snow runs to the other side of the ship carrying with her the rope Hook has given her and the sail stabilizes itself as Emma doesn’t stop pulling with the aid of Rumple and Regina. James and Neal tauten the last ropes and the ship starts sailing, picking up speed as it moves. “Here we go…” Says Hook, smiling and enjoying the sensation of the breeze touching his face and that salty perfume that is the pure essence of every pirate.

At his words the rest stop working with a combined sigh born out of tiredness.

“Neal, are you sure...?” Asks James, completely beaten.

“Go to sleep” He stops him with a smile. James raises his arm in a camaraderie gesture and everyone on the deck go to their cabins. However, before Hook is able to even gives the helm to Neal the man stops everyone by asking “Hook! These waves are natural?”

Deep, unequal and dancing waves that come directly towards the ship… “This isn’t natural, sirens! Sirens are here!” The pirate answers back as he grabs something inside his vest. “Run to the royal mast!

Snow bumps into James and the man starts running towards the mast while Hook gives four pairs of gauze plugs as he screams once again. “Tie us!” The order is for Regina, who is looking at the approaching sirens and Rumple, who is standing next to the other men. “Now!” The pirate screams, scared. Gold looks at the deck and Regina is pulled out from her reverie. Raising her hand one of the ropes starts moving like an anaconda, wiggling until it ties itself around the four men.

“Thanks” Gasps Hook, feeling the ropes tight against his chest. Regina closes her eyes for a second without answering him. The Evil Queen whispers a hex and she is deaf to the world. A second before she turns with her chest up in her throat. The deck of the ship is not that big, is impossible to lose someone on it; she searches for Emma’s blonde tresses and she founds them in the middle of the ship. Regina isn’t able to hear anything, not even her own voice but she still calls for her name at the top of her lungs. Emma doesn’t look at her.


Hook tries the strength of the ropes by struggling a little bit, the rope remains strong around them.

“Is all of this truly necessary?” Screams Rumple to make himself being heard with the gauze on his ears.

“I’ve seen men jumping out of the deck having even both hand and feet tied up” Hook screams back even if for the others his voice is nothing more but a whisper. “Extra precautions are in order”

“You are the captain” James says, albeit doubtful. Waiting tied up to the royal mast letting the other three occupants of the ship keep it afloat is not his preferred strategy. He feels useless even if everything looks like is going well. He cannot hear a thing but Snow is standing in the middle of the deck, Emma walks calmly down it and Regina… screams? The brunette says something and looks at the blonde who is moving closer to the gunwale without accelerating her pace. She looks almost like a zombie. For James this isn’t going well anymore and his heartbeat goes faster as he sees Emma looking towards the sea, where the sires are coming.

Stuck in deep silence he feels more than hears Regina’s second scream and Snow runs towards Emma. He sees his wife saying something, talk to a smiling Emma who doesn’t answer and then Snow moves herself in the way of the blonde. A few seconds later she is expelled a few seconds from where she was as Emma moves her hand towards her, not even looking back at her nor changing the path she has already decided for herself; towards the bulwark. Towards the siren’s chants.

“Emma!” James possessed-like scream is what wakes the other three men from their silence and so they see a livid Snow in the deck as Emma walks, hexed.

“Shit!” Neal screams, tugging the ropes with the same luck as Hook, Rumplestiskin and James.

“Sweetheart!” Screams a desperate Snow back in the deck. Regina walks towards Emma carefully until she is at a safe distance. There is no doubt that the music’s influx is affecting the blonde –who has been able to even knock out her own mother- She kneels, silence, cold and focused and raises her own hand, a timid blew on its palm and her magic moves swiftly towards Emma; a spell simple but strong enough to paralyze her.

The savior, however, doesn’t turn, she doesn’t even blink. Moving her fingers Regina’s purple smoke is gone even before touching her.

The mayor widens her eyes, scared as Snow murmurs an anxious “no” while the four men keep battling against the cored. Emma is in front of the gunwale now and she rests her weight on it, smiling dazedly.

“Hello” She whispers, bewitched.

“Hello Emma…” The voice of the nearest siren is the source of promises and devotion. She feels the luckiest woman in the world just by speaking to her and she would jump gladly only to be closer to her. She raises a foot up in the gunwale and the deck is filled with screams and prayers she doesn’t listen. Snow, up to her feet once again, moves closer to her daughter and calls for her. Emma pouts, this is between the siren and herself, no one has called for her mother and that angers her.

When Emma pulls her two feet up in the rail Snow stops walking as Regina intercedes. “Leave her or she will jump!”

“I can’t leave her; she is my daughter!”

“Then try something that works” The other woman answers completely furious, feeling Emma’s movements on her own feet. Her anger, however, is not useful and so she tries to calm herself. “Back away”

Snow compels yet reticent and she stops listening to Emma, which makes the blonde calmer in return. Perhaps…

“What’s your name?” She asks, sitting on the rail as she does so.

The woman’s laugh is as incredible as the rest of her “You already know that…”

“Yes, I know.” She whispers, she is right. On her mind the letters of her name dance merrily but she is unable to put them on the right order. She doesn’t care about it though; they will come to her. “You are beautiful”

More sirens swim around her but she can’t look at anyone else.

“As much as coming to swim with me?”

Emma can’t believe her luck and she straightens her back, stricken and happy “Me? Do you want to swim with me?”

“Of course, if not how would I be able to touch you, look at you… or kiss you?”

She holds her breath; she could have not heard that one right. “Kiss me?” She repeats.

“Yes, I’m dying to do it…” The siren pants in a way that dizzies her. “I can’t wait anymore to be in your arms.” Emma gasps a few times but that seems to be attractive to the siren. “Come” The siren pleads, looking at her with a mixture of sweetness and hope. The blonde puts her hands at both sides of her hips, ready to jump, when a voice stops her.

“Emma, stop, please” She turns, confused, as she searches for the owner of that voice, it has no logic; that tone, deep and mellow is the same of the siren. How is that she can be at two places at the same time?” However, there she is, a few meters away from her dressed in a panty sweet and looking at her with a deep look of agony on her face instead of the smile from before. “You aren’t going to jump, are you?”

Emma swallows and makes a face. The siren is also on the ship and she doesn’t understand ship. She wants to make her jump or not?

“Emma…” The siren whispers from the water and she loses herself on those maroon eyes, on those plush lips and that beautiful raven hair. “Don’t you want to swim? I need you…”

She turns, disorientated and lost towards Regina narrowing her eyes. “You…”

The brunette lets out a small hopeful sigh as she sees that Emma recognizes her and seems like she is not prone to attack her. “Yes, Emma, I’m me” She breathes, taking a few steps.

But Emma just shakes her head. “No, that she is you”

“What?” She must have heard her wrong. Without a doubt. The sound of the more than twenty sirens plus the hex she has on hear hears is surely making her hear things.

The letters don’t stop dancing on Emma’s head and even is everything is dizzy right now she smiles happy she has solved the riddle.

“Regina” She mutters, looking at her feet where the siren smiles. “That’s your name, right? Regina” She tries its taste out, as if before its sole mention would have been taboo.

“That’s it my love” She exclaims from the water and Emma feels herself melt.

The Evil Queen looks at the scene that unravels in front of her astonished and for a second she loses her footing. At least the men remain deaf and tied up and Snow is at a safe distance so she can’t hear the words exchange.

“Emma, don’t listen to her. Look at me” She whispers trying assimilate that she is fighting against herself, that is her who the blonde sees as he looks at her doom. “Look at me, please!” She insists, desperate and this time she manages to make the blonde do it. Those beautiful green eyes look at her with a disconcerting calm. “Regina is just one and that one is me, don’t you see?”

“There is two of you!” The blonde answers back what for her is obvious.

“Ok, ok, there are two. But you… you prefer to come with me, I know”

Emma tilts her head, trying to think. Does she prefer it?

“My love, don’t listen to her…” The siren hisses with the deepest of looks. “Swim with me, kiss me. There are so many things I wish to tell you…”

Emma sighs dizzily and bends forward. Snow screams and Regina shudders at the thought that she is losing her. She knows this is it, all or nothing. She needs to play at the same game that bitch that looks like her to Emma’s eyes is playing.

“Emma, dear…” She swallows thickly while she says it and she grabs herself as she asks the next question. “Don’t you want to be with me? Don’t you feel something for me?”

“Yes…” She murmurs timidly and for a second Regina thinks she is going to smile. A thought however crosses her mind and erases from her face every drop of happiness.  “Yes, I want to be with you but you don’t. You don’t talk to me, don’t look at me, don’t pay me any attention… and she does need me at her side”

“Come with me and we will be forever together” The siren sings.

“See?” Points out Emma.

“Shut up!” Regina screams at the siren she doesn’t even see with tears born out of despair burning her eyes. “Dear, is a lie, she wants to make you suffer, don’t you see?”

Her words only anger Emma even more and her posture changes towards the waves.

“No, no, wait! Okay. Yes, she wants you at her side…” She whispers, admitting defeat playing the game against the siren but not to playing it better. “But I wish for it more, much more” Emma, confused and deep in the childlike state the hex of the siren causes her looks at her, intrigued. “I do look at you, when you don’t, when you are far from me, when you smile. All the time. I don’t pay you any attention nor touch you nor talk to you because I fear myself. Just a few meters from you and I feel so much… I’m afraid of drowning if those meters were mere centimeters instead.

“Is that true?” Emma asks, voice deep due to emotion. Standing in the railing she moves further from the water but a touch away between the deck and the sea.

Regina smiles at her in that crocked timid smile, almost vulnerable. “Tell me yourself… you are the one with that superpower”

“I…”

“Don’t listen to her…!” The siren says, trying to get her attention. “Is a lie! She wants to keep us apart my love!” The creature screams “She has never talked to you like that before, never has said to you those words. Why is she doing it right now?”

The siren’s voice has the upper hand due to the hex and seeps easily on Emma’s subconscious. She doesn’t even realize she is changing her mind, the fear just grows on her and her superpower is left behind.

“You are lying to me…. That one is not you” She answers, throwing her jacket to the floor, not wanting to leave anything that would slow down while swimming as she looks at the siren with her head as made up as ever. Snow screams her name once again and the men say from afar how she shouldn’t do it, how she should stop. However, nothing reaches Emma’s ears.

Nothing expect the Queen’s tyrant domineering voice. That one that no one dares to disobey. That one that makes every nerve-ending of the savior protest and shakes the deepest parts of her anatomy.

“Put your ass down that railing Miss Swan!”

Emma turns with that dopey wondering smile. “Regiiiiiina”

That is the one, her favorite siren.

She turns on herself and raises her foot. About to make a step that would put her on the firm deck, next to Regina.  However, the siren hasn’t said her last words and with a swipe of her tail she jumps towards the woman, breaking the water’s surface ready to catch her prey.

“Oh no, no you don’t!” Regina screams raggedly. A fireball escapes her hand out of instinct, grazes Emma and hits the siren directly on her chest. The half-fish half-woman doesn’t even have the time to scream before she is turned into fried hake while falling back into the sea like a dead weight. The rest of the sirens left her behind while she sinks ghoulishly.

“My savior, my evil queen…” Singsongs Emma, unconcerned. The hex seeps away and slowly she feels the tiredness due to have been battling against it. Closing her eyes, she falls down, unconscious. Is Regina’s magic the one who stops the hit that she would have taken against the wood. With a soft and delicate charm, she holds her body and lets it touch placidly the floor.

Even before doing it Snow has already reached them and she is hugging her. Regina kneels next to the two women. She needs to see Emma, calm her heart repeating to herself over and over again that she is ok, that she is safe. She wants to raise her hand and reach for those blonde tresses on her face, curl her fingers around that cheek. However, she needs to resign herself to just observe the blonde’s mother hugging her, rocking her gently from her place in the floor.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you…” Snow repeats kissing Emma’s forehead but looking at Regina full of gratitude. The brunette nods clipped and calm and she doesn’t do anything else but that small gesture.

“Regina!” James screams still battling against the cords. The mayor looks away from Emma and moves her hand towards the four men. The rope falls under her orders and they get rid of it before running towards them. Regina keeps herself next to them when Neal and James move her at one side as they come closer to Emma and she waits next to Hook and Rumplestiskin. Next to those strangers that aren’t part of that family as well. She wants to say something, tell them that is her the one who has saved them and not one of those good for nothings, that they can’t keep her apart from her. Yes, they are her parents and the father of her son… But what about her?

She crosses her arms and bites her bottom lip. No, it’s not her place. She is no one on Emma’s life and that’s how it must be. She doesn’t want to keep suffering, she can’t feel nor destroy her barriers. Emma is the opposite of what she had been fighting for, of what she had been trying to reach… and that’s how it must be. She looks away from the blonde and moves even further. And the feeling of pain on her stomach…. Is for the best.

 

To be continued

Chapter Text

It starts as a shudder. She is still asleep, completely knocked out. The shudder however shakes her feet a little and she moves a few inches. The feeling is still there, like a murmur low but constant that holds onto her. A second shudder makes her leave her slumber behind. She identifies the feeling; she is being watched, they are staring at her. She opens her eyes –that feel blotchy as if she had been sleeping for days. And Henry’s little blue eyes smile back at hers.

“You are awake…” He whispers.

“No” She growls against the pillow “You woke me up”

“It was for the best, you have been asleep for a while” Is he mocking her? She raising a brow against the scratchy fabric of the sheets and the boy smiles. Yes, he is mocking her. She grabs that insolent child and her fingers hover dangerously close to his tummy. Tickles, tickles without any mercy.

Henry struggles against the mattress and tries to defend himself instead of laughing but is impossible. He surrenders between guffaws; “I was joking, I was joking, I have just woken up too”

Emma is merciful and so she stops the torture eyeing the cabin. It’s her room, the same one in which she made the travel back towards Neverland and she still has one bed although is big enough for an adult and a half. “We have both slept here?”

“Yes, don’t you remember?”

“I must haven’t reach here on my own two feet kiddo” She states letting herself fall comically against the mattress. The questions arrive in less than a blink at that.

“They brought you here like they did it to me? Something happened?”

“We got attacked” She remembers everything. Everything. And she doesn’t know how to tell him.

“You got attacked?!”

“Yes…”

“Who?”

“Sirens…”

“…Sirens?”

“Sirens” Emma repeats, convinced.

Henry thinks for an instant if sirens can be considered an enemy or even a danger. Everything he knows about them is that they can seduce men until they drown but nothing more dangerous than that. “And what happened? Is everyone all right?”

“Yes, yes, no one is injured. They covered their ears in time and they even tied themselves before they came close enough to the ship” She herself had thought about covering her ears but she hadn’t known how to explain it and that shame had make her loose those valuable seconds. A moment after that she had end up singing happily while walking slowly towards her death. “I was very close to fall out of the deck though”

Henry’s eyes widen at that “You were almost eaten by a siren?”

“Or whatever they do those aquatic witches, yes…”

“They hexed you? But I thought they only did that to men…” Bingo, that must be the question everyone on the ship must be thinking right now. Perhaps she can hide on the cabin and not come out until she learns how to make herself invisible. One or two months would be enough. “They are more powerful than what I had read about them… “Henry mumbles deep in thought. A second after though he is looking at Emma with his eyes light up and a big smile. “Breakfast?”

The blonde raises both brows and smiles. She doesn’t know if those words are born from the innocence of her not-so-little son or the frankness he shows all the time or… born from hunger. Whatever it may be she smiles back happily.

“Last one is a silly mermaid!” She screams, running as if the dark one was behind her towards the kitchen.

“Hey! That’s cheating!” Henry screams at her back “I don’t even know where we are going!”


The noise precedes the two runners and four heads turn towards them when they see Emma enter the place, raising her arms. Henry, a little tired and more importantly, angry, arrives second gasping and muttering something about “cheating” and “another one”. However, Emma laughs and hugs him from behind, dragging him towards the center of the room. Is then when she sees the amused faces of the spectators. Neal, Snow, David and Regina are in the kitchen and they haven’t lost a second of that entrance.

“The sleeping beauties” Snow smiles is as tender as her joke and doesn’t asks before hugging Emma.

“Good morning darling” Regina mumbles at the same time leaving a kiss on Henry’s head. “Do you want some breakfast?” The huge hunger-filled smile is enough for her to start preparing him a bowl with the cereals and fruits Philip’s village gave them.

Emma let her eyes wander for a second. However, by coincidence, is just Regina’s back everything she sees. “Have we really slept that much?”

“Let see… you fell unconscious at noon and is half past nine of morning” Says jokingly David “I would definetely say that that is under my description of what a deep slumber is” Emma’s face turns shameful for a second and the prince pities her. “I’m glad you are ok”

It has been just a few minutes since she opened her eyes but she doesn’t need more to remember what happened at the deck. If she wouldn’t have been half unconscious she would have probably dreamt about it. About Regina asking for her not to jump, to stay with her. About her looking at her when she smiles, when she isn’t looking, every time. She sacred the shit out of them and she doesn’t want to be selfish but she is unable to remember that and not smile. She is able to hide it a little, feign that she is not the happies woman in Neverland but inside her there is Regina’s voice whispering “But I want it more, much more”

She picks an apple and hides the smile biting it. She seats with the others trying to be closer to Regina. However, the mayor stands up in that moment to pick up more water and when she returns she seats on the other side of the table. Now she knows that she is avoiding her and she doesn’t know if she should be angry or amused. She reaches for a bowl. She imagined that it wasn’t going to be easy. Nothing is with Regina… but does she plan on ignoring her? That’s her big strategy after what happened? “And, what’s sadder mayor, do you think I’m going to accept?”

She huffs and looks around her, trying to focus on anything else before her brain explodes and the million tiny-Regina’s she has inside escape with it. Henry is devouring everything at his arm’s reach and she chooses not to think when was the last decent meal he had. Her parents look at him with a deep-engrained grandparent-y pride and Neal jokes with him while trying to pick up a bite of his toast.

“And Hook and Rumplestiskin?” She asks looking directly at Regina. She has discovered a new hobby, search for her eyes as she ignores her completely. Of course the brunette doesn’t even flinch or bothers with an answer and is Neal who leaves Henry’s toast and answer her. Even if he sounds completely normal is a feat to make those eyes focus on her for more than a second and whenever they do there is a shameful look abnormal on him. She really can’t say anything about it, she doesn’t either know how to look at him.

“Holding the helm as long-time buddies and deciding the best route” Emma’s brows raise at that, almost touching her hairline and Neal bursts out laughing. “Surprised, right? There is nothing this kiddo can’t do”

“Me?” Asks Henry with his cheeks ballooned out due to the food he is ingesting.

“You, yes, and close your mouth or at least half of your breakfast is going to escape” Regina’s warn is made with a smile and Henry ends up smiling at her while trying to not open it so much. The mayor feels Emma’s eyes looking at the scene and ignores them like the rest of the sheriff.

The savior is resigned. She isn’t going to stop looking at her but she fears that Regina’s resolve is as strong as her pig-headedness.  She assumes that is not the right moment and that she will need to wait for a better place to talk to her. Nervousness though keep attacking her, growling and mewling, running her patience thin. Patience has never been her forte.

“Speaking of those landlubbers, is my turn to substitute them” Neal speaks up in the placid silence that has installed itself around the table and breakfast. “I was thinking that perhaps some cabin boy would want to go with me and learn how to work the handle. What do you think?”

“Are you serious?” Henry’s face is filled with happiness. “Let’s go” He exclaims while tugging the sleeve of his father. As they exit they can still hear him “I’m going to sail a ship!”

None of the other four hide a smile. Regina’s though disappears in a second as she feels the insistent gaze of Emma. She doesn’t even seem to have something to say. She just looks at her as if she was looking at a painting. She doesn’t like that sensations of pupils running up and down her body and evading her eyes is not enough to stop the effect they had on her. Emma unbalances her and Regina starts wishing for her to have jumped. She has a foolproof remedy, keep ignoring the insufferable Miss Swan.

“I think I will also go up and see if there the ship moves as strongly as inside” She murmurs more than for her collar than for anyone else. Is undeniable that her steps aren’t as steady or as straight as they should and David is even tempted to stand and help her as she sways. However, even dizzy Regina is able to keep herself together and tries to exit to the deck on her own footing.

“Regina, are you ok?” Emma’s question is born out of real worry but Regina is having any of it, genuine or not.

“Marvelous miss Swan” The brunette’s voice is able to play with any word and turn even the politest of answers in a cold, ironic one. Despite of her pride she has distracted and she has looked at Emma. Meeting with those indigo eyes in that second her face turns into an angry one. So much to even shot him one of her nasty looks. However, Emma smiles stronger and basks on those brown eyes she has missed so much. Not even the dismissal is enough to sadden her. With or without it the brunette isn’t immune to her own gaze. She knows that and her smiles grows even when she sees her go.

“So… we need to say goodbye to Neal as a son-in-law, right?” David’s question cuts the air between them and Emma turns abruptly, almost giving herself a whiplash. She looks at them without hiding her fear. However, her mother just laughs and David tries to hold her own. What they are talking about? Is she so obvious?

“What do you mean?” Emma sounds so ashamed that Snow elbows her husband, trying to chastise him even if they end up chuckling softly.

“The sirens, sweetheart” Answers the brunette at the end. Emma figures she can breathe freely now but she refrains herself until she has the confirmation of what her mother is talking about. “We have come to the idea that if SHE enchanted you…” She re-marks the pronoun and Emma’s blush only deepens. At least they hadn’t realized who is her best candidate to switch it up with Neal… which doesn’t reduce the shame of needing to have this talk with her parents.

“I, well…”

“Emma, we are fine with it. Boy or girl, we only want for you to be happy” Snow talks first squeezing her hand tenderly”

“Thank you” She still looks like streetlight but she hopes for her skin to one-day return to its normal color. Or at least turn itself into amber. Is she really coming out of the closet with her disappeared parents? So much of missing her family and for a second she wouldn’t mind to not have found them…

“It would be like having two daughters” Snow says happily and David starts laughing again as Emma hides her head between her arms. Yes, and with a bit of luck that daughter would have been her mother’s stepmother… She needs to reach Storybrooke and swallow the biggest aspirin ever invented.


She is a caged beast. Her cage however is a lot of water and not enough bars. She feels caged and oppressed inside that damned ship and the only good thing in that damned boat has eleven years old and is at the helm with Neal. Meanwhile she is facing the rail trying not to vomit nor get dizzy and waiting for the words “On with the bean” How much they are going to delay it? If some siren enters Storybrooke she will fry her. She has done it once; she can do it as many times as it proves necessary.

Thinking about sirens do nothing with her bad mood. Those pathetic creatures have complicated her intent on ignoring the sheriff. Now the blonde is more assured of herself, more difficult and Regina can’t say she doesn’t want to throw her out of the ship herself. If she keeps looking at her like she is doing, with those smirks and talking to her… she will end what that half-fish half-bitch started… Maybe it wouldn’t have been bad to let them know each other. Perhaps the little mermaid and Emma had things in common.

However, with just that thought her insides twist and turn. And there it comes that annoying buzz. That damned mumble about how she wouldn’t have let her jump. Or worse, if she would have jumped she would have probably go out after her. Shaking her head, she exiles those ideas from her head and pinches the bridge of her nose. She needs to go out from that boat and maintain her distance. Not having the satellite that has become Emma keep circling her and stop feeling from once and for all.

The bad guys can’t have a moment though and the wood protests when a set of footsteps come closer to where she is. Henry is still far away with his father and in the ship there is only a person pig-headed enough to bother her. She turns wearing her best face of “I’m-going-to-murder-swans” confirming her suspicions.

Emma tilts her head a few cautious meters away. “How is your shoulder?”

“Goodbye, miss Swan” She turns her back towards her, focusing on the sea once again. Emma walks a few more steps towards her, trying to start a normal conversation. Regina huffs at her insistency and, without turning to look at her, she moves, leaving her behind.

She walks pass her without even looking at her. Emma though is having none of it. She needs to talk to her, as difficult as it can be. Sounds ridiculous but she has gotten spoiled with Regina and these past few days without being able to come closer to her, talk to her or even touch her had been pure torture. She doesn’t even think about it. She starts walking behind her, following her inside the ship once again. Regina can hear Emma’s steps and she walks faster. However, as soon as they are hidden inside the ships’ belly Emma reaches her with just a couple strides.

Raising her hand, she grasps Regina’s and manages for her to stop herself but her fingers burn where she has touched the brunette and she lets her go trying to hide a hiss while the other smirks.

“Are you going to keep ignoring me for much longer?”

“Don’t be so dramatic sheriff” She growls ready to resume her steps.

“There were two”

“Two? What are you saying?” Regina arches a brow and chastise herself for it, for having answered her.

“Two women” Is Emma’s answer. If she is trying to get a rise out of Regina she is truly managing to do it. If she wants to hold her attention… she is also managing that. The brunette has forgotten that she was escaping to her cabin and, even if she has her arm crossed and her lips in a thin line she is still listening to her. “I’ve ever been with men except in those two occasions. One was a few years ago, we met each other with more than a few drinks on us. I’m not very proud to admit that I don’t even remember her name… The other, Amanda, was from the last home I was in… one only thought for girls” Emma tries to hide a snicker at the ironic look Regina shots at her from that last statement. “She was a very good friend, that was mix between curiosity, lots of care and having fun I guess…”

When Emma stops talking Regina wakes up from a reverie she hadn’t realize she had fallen into. A reverie in where Emma talks and she doesn’t not only walk away but listens.

“No one has asked you”

And there they go a third full sentence. Emma smiles crookedly, asking herself if it isn’t sick how beautiful she looks when she answers her like that. She takes a step, coming closer, taunting Regina. “Not today but yesterday and the day before that and…”

“You are picking things out of context and are pestering me” The brunette stops her, baring her teeth while calculating how many inches there are still between them. Her posture doesn’t exactly welcome her to come closer but saviors are stupid due to their nature and they don’t understand warnings.

“And you go and pay it to me by saving my life” The blonde answers and her crooked smile turns into a full blow one as she moves closer.

“You and your mother” Regina spits. However, that only serves for Emma to raise her hand and touch her shoulder, close to where the gauze that covers the injure on her shoulder sits. Regina knows that the savior’s fingers are burning for every inch they touch but she seems to be decided to hold the pain. She hadn’t thought on that and between that and the distance that isn’t there anymore she is starting to feel anxious. Something that she always hides by being aggressive. “And what the hell do you think you are doing, sheriff?”

“Nothing that I’ve never done before” The blonde whispers, moving towards Regina’s body, the one who the brunette keeps rigid.

“Don’t be ridiculous” She swallows but her voice doesn’t fail her. And it won’t, not even if Emma wets her lips and claims it with hers. For a second she feels like raving and thinks on their taste, their softness, the way she kisses… but she goes back the present as she barks at her “Don’t you know that what happens in Vegas should stay in Vegas?”

Emma’s damned smile throbs against her mouth and her fingers get lost on the heat of her neck even if it must be hurting her. “I understand” She whispers so softly that is almost like she is already kissing her “… but we are still in Vegas”

She doesn’t see it coming. Or maybe yes but she is unable to take a step backwards.

Emma closes the distance hungrily and trapes her lips with more need than calm. She sinks herself into that kiss, although more than a kiss is a merry dance her lips do against Regina’s. She tastes them with soft bites and she is more than ready to be the one at the top if the brunette stubbornly tries to keep herself immutable. However, when her tongue licks those plush lips she feels how they part and welcome her.

She whimpers against her mouth but she doesn’t stop, not even to breath. She doesn’t want for her to have the time to think this twice. Her fingers tangle themselves on dark tresses and as she moves even closer she feels how Regina’s skin stops being burning iron against her fingers to be pure softness once again. She caresses it, basks on it, recreating the kiss, pouring herself into it, giving all of herself into it until Regina pants and grabs her hips. Emma takes a hold on the nape of her neck and, runs her lips down her mouth and the mayor’s fingers dig on her flesh.

Emma’s body is filled to the brim with such a stream of feelings that not even the hardheadedness of Regina –whose hands are already deep on her hips, grazing her butt- would be able to discuss that she has also fallen. The savior twists her body, carrying with her the brunette’s body and pinning her against the wall. The mayor, between the wood and miss Swan sliders against her body and melts on that mouth. She can’t say if minutes or mere seconds have passed.

Time, however, doesn’t matter. It matters the creaking of the wood that precedes the people in the boat, the sound of those old joist and boards that signal even the quickest of steps. In this case the ones of none other than David.

“Em! Em sweetie, where are you?”

It feels like a cold shower. Those six words open Emma’s eyes and brings Regina’s hands towards the chest of the blonde. She pushes her until they broke apart and stops the kiss, breaking whatever they had in that freeze-in-time moment, an occasion dedicated solely for them. The savior keeps herself together and doesn’t move her hands back from the brunette’s neck. Not even after Regina herself lets her own fall. Searching her eyes, she whispers.

“No, no, no…”

In front of her however there is not Regina looking at her, not even the mayor. The Evil Queen herself looks back at her.

Some place far away from them, although coming closer, David voice echoes once again. “Emma?”

“They are calling for you Miss Swan” Regina says, grabbing the sheriffs arm and pushing it away before walking away.

“Regina, please, wait…” She implores grabbing her wrist and stopping her. This time is not invisible fire what grazes her hand as she touches Regina’s soft skin but a flame that burns her fingers and makes her retreat.

“Your father should explain you how dangerous is to play with fire…”

“Don’t do this…” Emma’s voice breaks while grabbing her injured hand.

“Vegas is long gone, sheriff” She turns and walks away with no more consideration for the blonde as to snap her fingers in order to abate the pain on Emma’s fingers. The blonde takes a gulp of breath and runs behind her. David is there though and Regina disappears into the stairs as her father approaches her, happy to finally having being able to find her.

“Where were you? They are going to throw the bean, let’s go!” He looks like a child and the tenderness that that wakes on Emma is the only reason for the blonde to follow her instead of ignoring him and follow the Evil Queen. She even smiles at him and grabs her arm.

“Let’s go home” She whispers happily towards the deck followed closely by David. Worry is still dancing on her head though. Regina. Her taste is still on Emma’s lips and that’s a tattoo she wants to keep it forever. Her hands buzz with the memory of that soft skin and she feels like dying wanting to touch her again. Kissing her is the most perfect thing she has ever felt, the rightest thing she has ever done and she isn’t ready to leave it behind. No.

Las Vegas is long gone? Well, they will see…

Regina may not be aware of it but she has just declared her the war and the land she needs to conquer is the brunette herself. She is sure that it will be a difficult war, that Regina has built up every wall she possesses. She doesn’t plan on giving up on her though, she will play until she reaches checkmate but she won’t lose to the King but to the Evil Queen.


Every each of them had taken their positions.  Regina remains at one of the sides of the ship with her rope tight on her hips. Henry has been tied to Neal and he as well holds one of the ropes of the sail with the idea of keeping it tense enough as they travel through the vortex. Snow is at the ship’s prow, with the place next to her thought for David and Hook and Rumplestiskin are at the helm, ready to keep it steady despite of the complicated travel they are going to suffer.

The last two people of that interesting picture appear on the ship’s stairs. Emma decides on putting her at the other side of the boat, in front of Regina’s while David runs towards his wife.

“Next stop; Storybrooke” Says Snow as she throws the bean to a distant point in front of them. It sinks with a soft “plop” and then a big vortex swallows the little bean and every drop of water around them like a hungry mouth.

“Hold yourselves!” Hook’s scream echoes as the ship jumps forward. Regina grabs the rope slightly anxiously and looks at her son from the corner of her eyes. Henry is firmly being held by Neal and almost out of instinct Regina’s gaze moves a few inches towards Emma. The savior is also looking at her. The ship inclines in an almost ant natural angle but Emma remains focused on her. She smiles with a confidence and calmness that drowns her on fear. She is unable to read her intentions because a second after that Emma is the first one to break her stare. Something that confuses Regina even more.

The first violent shake catches the brunette trying to sort through her ideas, trying to understand why that short visual contact has awakened every alarm she owns. A wave wets her from head to toe and she makes herself turn her attention towards to the intent of not ending being up flown away from the ship. Ship that has now sank completely on the vortex. She will have time to analyze that strange gaze…

To be continued…

Chapter Text

Grumpy is not a good lookout. He moans, as expected, during the entire watch, and his bad temper gets even worse due to the nerves. For this reason he has ended up being the dwarf that does the watches with no partner. The other six have assured that. The watch is five hours long, three if it is night time, but looking at the horizon in case a sail appears destroys his patience, and, on top of that, he does not know how to kill the time. At first he would fish, but after two or three watches even that bores him to death.

It is stupid to look at the sea and not seeing anything. Observing how the clouds come and go, how one or another fish comes out of the water showing off with a fancy jump, how waves come, break on the shore and go away continuously... How that wave is slightly bigger than the rest. And the fishes stop jumping and start running away. And the shape of that cloud far away looks like a sail. And now it looks like two. Wait, that is not a cloud. Those are two real sails. Behind them, the shape of a ship. That is a ship! It’s the Rolly Roger!

They are coming home! Henry and the rest have come back!

And on his watch. Screw those that didn’t want to share the watch with him!

Grumpy runs to the center of the town as fast as his tiny legs allow him. He doesn’t stop shouting during his whole small marathon, and from the harbour to the council, no-one ignores the dwarf’s screams: They are coming home... THEY ARE COMING HOME! In less than 20 minutes the entire Storybrooke town knows that their heroes are crossing the sea that takes them to the harbour that takes them home.

 


 

Henry plays “Who is who” at the gunwale since they have spotted the whole town gathered on the dock waiting for them. Hook keeps saying that the harbour is not going to sustain all that weight, but everyone knows he is just joking. Even the pirate looks excited at the sight of all the Storybrook habitants’ reception. And Henry is truly enjoying identifying every one of them from the distance. Seven little men wait on the first row...

“The dwarfs!”

And just behind them, without letting away a bit of her place,

“Belle! And on her side there is Red!”

Henry shouts with excitement and a shiver runs through Rumpelstiltskin’s back,

“And over there I can see... Doctor Whale? No, wait, it’s Granny...” James bursts out laughing and his son steals Hook’s telescope. “No, it’s not Doctor Whale.”

And it goes on. It goes on until the joyful cries can be heard, until everyone can differentiate Archie, and Geppetto, and little Pinoccio, Cinderella or the Blue Fairy, until the boat enters the harbour and the scene gets filled of kisses and hugs.

Rumpel! For the man there is not another sound apart from Belle’s voice. He stumbles down the old ramp and hugs the girl making her fly in circles. For one second he is not that coward father, nor Mr. Gold, even less the dark being afraid of love. He is, plainly, a man in love. When Belle’s feet touch the ground, her lips are already kissing Rumpel’s, and that becomes the true welcome home. He doesn’t need anything else.

“I was so scared.... but you are all right... you are all OK...” She stutters among tears.

“Better than that Belle...” Rumpel gets to the side to let the rest on the crew come down and Storybrooke witnesses how their heroes land on the ground with Henry and...

“Neal!?” When everyone gets silent, Red’s shout is heard by everyone.

“Surprise!” he jokes, shaking his arms. “Really, everyone thought I was dead?”

“Just a bit...” answers Red, “but you are alive!” she cries and she jumps on Neal’s neck. Every neighbour on the town follows the example. The dwarfs squash Snowhite, and when James pretends to protest, the seven men smash him too. Archie lets his umbrella go to hug Emma, and Rumpel has more than enough with Belle. Even the Blue Fairy goes to congratulate Hook on his wise decision to come back and, Emma swears she even winks at him. Henry, on the other hand, is the favourite one. Granny hugs him with all her love and a few seconds later Geppetto in tossing his hair and big Tiny is taking him in his arms. And the little one laughs happily with all the attention and love.

Emma doesn’t lose sight of him. Nor him, nor Regina. The blondie keeps waving and hugging everyone, even those she barely recognises, but she observes how the major steps aside. She has received one or another “Welcome” and a few pats on the shoulder but no one actually looks for her. Not even one of the neighbors realises when she steps aside. Regina decides to stay a few meters away from the kisses and hugs. She doesn’t want to get very far from Henry, but this is not her place, these people have not come to receive her. So she stays apart, away from them, just like she has always been.

Emma gets angry with Storybrook at that moment. Despite the mask of quiet distance, she doesn’t believe that Regina can feel good so alone while the rest of them are surrounded by the other tale characters. It is true that they all have discrepancies with the mayor, but Regina was part of that ship too, she has also given everything she has to save Henry. She gets angry at them for not looking further, for not considering the brunette, and for not being able to see what she can see, who Regina really is.

The mayor continues being apart but close to them at the same time, and Emma spots in her eyes a desire that she would never admit to feel, and she notices a sigh of defeat. Regina smiles like the rest of them on that harbour, but she keeps her hands in her pockets and her eyes get lost between the ground and the horizon. An Emma’s heart breaks in pieces.


 

The sense of unease keeps growing. Grannys is decorated with detail, garlands and welcoming banners. It is clear that the inhabitants of the enchanted forest never consider the possibility of a non-happy ending. The cafe is full of people and food and that scene becomes a dejavu for Emma. A dejavu where Regina, same like this evening, is sitting in a corner, in silence, and with a small dish, attending a party that appears to happen in a galaxy far away from her. It is the same scene that she saw during their party of Snow and Emma’s return, and the blondie feels equally destroyed seeing her in a corner. Even Hook seems to get along with the fairies, Snow and James stick together, Rumpel and Belle are the same, and Henry runs happily everywhere. She knows that she can get damaged but she needs to go, she needs to talk to her, discuss with her if this is what she prefers, and tell her to stop being alone and to start enjoying a tribute of which she is also the protagonist. And if the rest of the party opens their eyes and sees the incredible woman that exists behind the cold mayor, then even better.

But before she actually takes the decision something unexpected happens. James gets away from Snow, and directs himself to the audience:

“My friends!” The room silences with respect. “I would like to communicate something.”

“Communicate the details on how you kicked that Shadow’s ass!” cries Grumpy rising his glass and creating a general laugh between the attendees.

“There will be time to tell you all the stories” he smiles “Although you should probably ask Emma, Rumpel and Regina for the details.” Gold is to busy whispering and cuddling Belle and he is unaware of the looks. But Emma appreciates proudly how some of the eyes turn to her and how most of the people look at Regina with surprise. She is enjoying the reaction, she is enjoying how for the first time they seem to notice the woman behind the ex-villain. Grumpy takes the same glass he just raised a few seconds ago and turns it to her on a toast. The brunette answers the gesture in the same way politely and Emma observes from the distance, smiling happily.

 “What I would like to tell you is far more important” he follows, and thanks to the deep silence it can be seen how he is struggling not to shout like a excited boy. “Price Philipp and his kingdom have been hidden in Neverland all these years.”

“How is that possible?” asks Red, seeding the doubt amongst the attendees

“His dad fought against the giants” he summarises while Tiny nods from the bar. “He gave them the beans as gratitude, the same the use to go to Neverland and the same they grew there.” The silence is almost violent. The all remain silent but at the same time all the constrained cries are tangible. “They will travel back to the Enchanted Forest with them, but they had enough to give some to us...”

Every soul in that room shouts, screams and jumps of happiness. That is everything that can be heard at 1km from the Granny’s cafe. James tries to talk again, explain the details of their trip, or how they could get organised, but it is impossible. Snow grabs his hand and shakes her head with a smile. She tells him to give up and he decides to listen to her. It is a party, it’s important to enjoy. He pulls his wife’s hand and kisses her full of happiness.


 

The little ones start getting into bed. What started as a touching welcome party has become a huge celebration full of toasts “Save the Enchanted Forest!” Emma has lost count of how many people she has toasted with, although the last glasses have more soda than alcohol. If by that time she hadn’t stopped drinking, she had probably already gone to talk to Regina, but with a pronunciation more close to Tiny’s or Grumpy’s. So she prefers to be at 100% of her skills to avoid doing something crazy and be able to... well, to spy Regina. There is no other way of calling it.

The mayor continues to be one of the quietest of the party, but Emma hasn’t found a way to talk to her alone, not even with other people. Every time she tried to approach to here, the lonely brunette has chosen to abandon her loneliness and turn her back to her to talk to Archie, Doctor Whale or Kathryn. Every time that the blondie has fought against the crowd to go and speak to her, Regina has moved to the other side of the room and has escaped her with good skills. Skills that are starting to piss Emma off... One time she even considered the idea of make her trip while she was trying to escape. It was in that exact moment when she decided to stop drinking.

But she has not lost sight of her and when Regina grabs her things stealthily to leave; Emma is the first one to notice. And she cannot avoid trying to retain her a bit longer. She knows it will be impossible to convince her to stay, but she has something in mind. Today is a celebration day and her, above all of them, deserves a surprise.

Emma walks towards tiny and before the brunette has enough time to pick up her jacket, she whispers to the giant: “Hey, a toast for Regina?” The drinks he has had make Emma’s voice sound more like mix between his subconscious and a fairy’s advice. But apart from the unreality, Tiny agrees with that voice and doesn’t wait to shout:

“A toadt for Redina!”

“A toast for Regina!” replies the rest of the cafe. The mayor, suddenly motionless and with her jacket on her hand looks around puzzled. But it doesn’t seem like a joke, only the moving celebration of a group of alcoholic tale characters, so she raises her glass with them and drinks silently thanking the gesture.

And at the same time, Emma gains enough time to walk to Henry and take him to a hidden corner.

“You will tell me to go to bed, won’t you?” asks with a smile. It is almost 11pm and he is the only kid in the party.

“It is about time, boy...” she whispers helping him to find his things. “but, what do you think about sleeping with Regina tonight?”

Henry’s eyes open widely and his smile grows. “With mum?” Are you serious?” He likes the idea. Of course he likes it, he actually loves it, and even more the fact that is Emma who is proposing it.

“Should I take that as a yes?” she asks smiling


 

Regina finishes her last drink, that one with which she has toasted with everyone on her honour, and considers the party finally over for her. It hasn’t been as bad as other times. Her shoulder is not hurting very much, and she has not felt like so out of place, or like they were going to suddenly start following her with sickles and torches. And that, even if it is not the most enjoyable thing in the world, has been an interesting progress. But she cannot stretch that feeling much longer. She has gone from being an intruder to being a guest but that is still not her home. It’s the Charming’s home, Neal’s and Rumpel’s, and the unbearable Emma’s home too, whose eyes are not following her at this moment. Their home, but not hers.

She stops for a second. It is true. She cannot see Emma. After feeling her eyes on her head during the whole night she should feel relieved, however a persistent and silly feeling of abandon accompanies her when she picks her things to get out of there. She walks towards the door without seeing a shine of that blond hair and the feeling increases, until she notices someone grabbing her jacket. She turns around with a pride gesture, Emma couldn’t leave her alone, she know it.

But it is not Emma, but Henry, who smiles and stops her on the exit door.

“Are you leaving?”

“Yes honey, I was going to say bye but I didn’t...”

“Can I go with you?” Those five simple words stop her heart. She opens her mouth a few times trying to find a logical response and she smiles silly.

“Do you want to come home?”

“It’s been a long time since I don’t sleep there, I would like to spend a night in my room. Are you happy with that?”

“Of course I am, honey.” she answers restraining her from hugging and kissing him. “It’s your home, you know that. You can come whenever you want.”

“Then let’s say bye to Emma and the rest and let’s go home.” His son’s answer increases her smiles and her excitement equally. The fact that he just called “home” the mansion is like poetry for her ears. But “let’s say bye to Emma” is like charging the battery in her stomach. Breathe. Everything has its price, and this one is small in exchange of taking her son with her tonight.

She holds up to that feeling when they get to the Charming family. Even Emma’s eyes on her don’t bother here anymore, she just needs to think of Henry, the rest does not matter. The kid gives hugs to everyone while she patiently waits.

Emma is the last one to wish him good night and she does it with a loud kiss. “Enjoy tonigh Henry, see you tomorrow.”

Regina, without paying much attention to her, tells her: “You can come pick him up for breakfast, if that suits you, at 9:30am?”

Emma looks into Regina’s eyes. The first time of the entire night that they can do so at only one meter distance and during more than one microsecond. She notices how James and Snow return to the party and stop paying attention to their conversation, and she takes the chance to concentrate more on the cold and retiring mayor.

“I will be sharp at the door.”

Regina frunce el labio con una sonrisa retorcida: “It won’t be necessary. It is enough if you just horn.”

“That I just what?” She pretends that the loud music impedes the conversation, and she takes the chance to do a cheeky review of the brunette’s anatomy. Henry’s innocent eyes don’t get the second intentions in that gesture, but Regina’s furious look does. An Emma smiles even more.

“The horn, Miss Swan. That thing that you have in your car wheel, if you haven’t managed to crash that old car yet.”

“No. It’s still in its place. I will horn tomorrow then...” Regina exhales wondering in this is going to take much longer.

Let’s go Henry.” she asks using her loving voice. “Bye”, she mutters, showing Emma the most hieratical smile.

Emma observes them until they disappear behind Granny’s cafe glass door. She cannot listen but she can see Henry asking something to Regina, if he can have one of her wonderful hot chocolates, and the woman answers that of course he can, with the most beautiful smile. She doesn’t need to listen, she is not even disappointed for not being able to get close to her n the entire night. Just to see that smile in Regina’s face, everything is worth it.


 

Neal has barely approached Emma during the party He doesn’t know what to say or how to behave, so he rather keep a distance. He doesn’t want her to see his abandoned doggy face, or stare at her thinking... do you also like women? No, he doesn’t trust himself yet. He prefers to wait until everything is not that recent, until his heart doesn’t break in pieces every time he remembers that chat on the ship or the angel jump he almost did over the gunwale because a mermaid begged him to.

But when he sees Regina leaving with her son, Neal reconsiders the idea of talking with Emma. Regina leaving the party holding Henry’s hand is enough reason for him to eat his pride, his broken heart and his shame and goes to talk to the blondie.

“Hey.” Reason enough to go to speak with her but not to fully recover his communication abilities. When looking at her into the eyes, that is everything he can say, “Hey”.

Emma smiles, half ashamed, half tense. “How is the party?”

“I loved seeing everyone... It has been fun”

“I toast to that.” She smiles gently.

“Emma...I...” The savior is waiting for the worst, a sequel of the chat in the ship cabin, and she swallows. Wasn’t everything clear? “I have seen Henry leaving with Regina.”

She takes a breath, relieved, and answers without giving it more relevance. “Yes, sure.”

“And do you think it is a good idea?”

“The best, why?”

Neal clicks his tongue and Emma feels she is not going to like what she will hear “I thought that this first night he would stay with you and your parents or with me... with his family, no?”

She doesn’t even think it twice before replying

“Sure, cause Regina is not the woman that has raised him for 10 years.”

Neal opens his eyes, confused of this reaction “you know what I mean...”

“No, I don’t” she answers. On the surroundings, more than one indiscreet voice wonders what happens between Henry’s parents, and Neal moves uncomfortably.

“Let’s go outside...”

Emma raises her eyebrows, indicating she will follow him to the exit and they walk in silence, walking through the guests. The blondie talks before even getting to the end of the stairs.

“Explain yourself”

He tries to speak quietly, to relax the environment, but it doesn’t work as he expects. “I don’t like her spending so much time with Henry.”

“Regina was the first one to risk her life for him, for all of us.” The reply is strong and Neal wonders what has bothere her so much, what did he say for her to be so upset.

I understand you have good intentions... But Emma, she is who she is... “He tries to be politically correct and calm the situation, the conversation gets worse. He senses it even before hearing her voice.

“And who is she according to you?” she asks turning her head, challenging him to interfere. But Neal acts carefully this time and shuts up. “The one who has loved and taken care of Henry while you disappeared and I was locked? The one who has raised him to be the incredible boy he is now? The one who risked it all for your father, for me and for everyone to be able to return with Henry?”

“That is not fair” He would also have done all those things if he had been able to, he thinks uncomfortably. Emma thinks that he may be right, that it is not fair to blame him for all that. But it has no relevance if he did those things or not. What matters is that Regina did do them.

“Are you being fair with her?”

The cafe door behind them shuts loudly and Emma takes a deep breath, it is only then when she realises that they are arguing. And possibly more than one pair of curious eyes are following the discussion.

Both of them turn towards the door and they see Rumpelstiltskin sticking half of his body out of it. “Everything OK?”

“Yes, sure, dad” answers Neal gently and with a security he doesn’t feel

“All right... We will wait for you inside” he smiles a bit more relaxed, before disappearing behind the glass door.

“And him? Is he also ‘who he is’?” she wonders showing inverted commas with her fingers and referring to his words about Regina. Neal takes a deep breath, he doesn’t have a way to answer that question and Emma knows that the argument is over. “People change, Neal.” And I want Henry to spend time with the new Regina.

It is her sentiency and she does not accept any response to that. She goes back inside and Neal follows her. But when they enter the party they both recover their drinks and walk on opposite directions. Red ends up being the first person Emma speaks with and the wolf looks at her puzzled after the little discreet chat with Neal.

“Everything OK?”

“Great, Ruby” she answers trying to show her kindest smile. “Your grandma knows how to throw a good party”. The joke draws a laugh out of the brunette. But that doesn’t stop her listening to Emma’s heartbeats. They are strong. And something tells her that it has nothing to do with having missed Neal. But she rather not enquire, she knows Emma when she is angry. Probably better to invite her for a shot, she decides grabbing two shot glasses and the tequila bottle.

“My granny learned it from me, what did you think?” She gives her a glass full of that honey coloured liquor and they both toast laughing.

 


 

She had never opened her home’s door that happy. Ever. Even the lock sound sounds happier for Regina now that Henry is waiting there with her. All those months stepping into the house without his son seem like years and that he finally comes back...- and by choice!-, it is like a dream come true for the mayor. When Henry hangs his coat on the hanger and runs to the kitchen thinking on his hot chocolate with marshmallows, cream and cinnamon, Regina forgets what “worries” mean. Evrything else doesn’t matter, even the damned sheriff, her way of looking at her and her horrible word games. She does not care...

She searches through the drawers the ingredients that they will need and while she follows the recipe, Henry tells her all he has done in the party. Who he has talked to, the games he played, the things he has eaten...

“Did you eat half of the chips table?”

“Well, Tiny helped me!” he answers trying to excuse himself. Regina laughs loudly and Henry knows she is not bothered. Probably having been kidnapped works for his mum to lower the rules about fast food and other things. Or maybe that little something he feels is changing on her, is also changing her behaviour. She is less of a sergeant and more kind, and Henry loves it.

Regina stops laughing but looks happily at her son, who pays attention to the recipe while he licks his lips. A fast thought crosses her mind, scaring her.

“Honey, Greg and Tamara...?” she asks while she pours the succulent hot chocolate. Henry stares at her but takes a zip. Regina smiles when she hears him purr at the taste of it. She doesn’t want to break this nice atmosphere, or make him remember something that he maybe wants to forget, so she chooses a softer question. “What did you eat there?”

“Fruit, meat, some cereal... it was the same all the time.”

Regina laughs at the sound of his annoyance on his voice, but the worry doesn’t go away. “Did you eat with them?”

“They would take everything to the cell, if not I would have escaped” he says remembering all the escape plans he designed in his mind before his memories started disappearing. With the second zip he notices a weird shine on his mum’s eyes, that shine that decorates her eyes when the brunette is troubled “Mum, what is wrong?”

“Nothing, what do you mean honey?”

But Henry is not a kid anymore; he has a small suspicion and smiles to her. “They took good care of me mum. I could even repeat meal every time I wanted” he describes smelling his coffee. “But this is way tastier.” His mum’s kind laugh can be heard in the kitchen again and he happily continues. “Despite I wasn’t allowed to leave, they always treated me very well. The shadow ordered so.”

Although behind that kind and hosting attitude there was a dark purpose, Regina breathes happier. “A malign being that is a great host... typical of Neverland” she jokes for her son that has all his mouth full of chocolate marks.

Henry laughs at that sweet and sincere version of his mum. The scene is so comfortable and accomplice s it used to be years ago, when he didn’t know of the takes book and Regina was as loving to him as distant to the rest of the town. He doesn’t want her to start being an ogre with the rest of inhabitants of Storybrooke, but he is happy about having his mum back, that loving woman that he knows she is.

It is because of that, due to that sense of true family that he ends up trusting her. There is a memory of his kidnapping that stands out over the rest and doesn’t let his mind in peace.

“There was only one strange thing...” mutters Henry stirring the chocolate without paying too much attention.

“In Neverland?”

He nods and looks into his mother’s eyes before daring to ask to analyse her reaction: “How many women named Cora can be?”

“What?” Her heart beats sound loudly against her ears, the blood freezes in her veins and the breath chokes in her lungs. But, in front of Henry, she keeps a serene attitude. Even relaxed. “Why do you ask?” Through her laugh, her kind eyes and her soft voice, no one would say that she is hiding a tsunami of terror and anger.

“They were talking about a Cora. But it cannot be grandma, can it?” He knows that it can’t. It surely cannot. That woman died and he has it clear. But listening it front his mum lips would delete any chink of doubt...

“Of course not, Henry” she hurries to answer with a big smile. “It is a pretty common name and moreover between fantasy characters.”

“That is what I thought.” And he finishes the last drops of hot chocolate.

“And who was that Cora?” The question is so casual and simple and Henry answers as if it is a normal part of the story, without suspicions or worries.

“A spy, one of their accomplices. She warned them of the trip that Philip’s town would do and of where they could find Storybrooke.”

“Those are many years apart”

He shakes his shoulders. “she probably lived in the island with the rest, one of the guards was born in 1951!

“Did you get to see her?”

“I don’t think so... but Demian talked a lot about her, she was one of her favourites... I think she had figured out a few months ago that I was the kid on the picture and she told them where to find me” Regina stays quiet absorbing every detail and letting Henry say everything he may know . “It’s possible that she was there on some sort of mission, like Greg and Tamara.”

“Whoever that spy was... when I go back to Neverland, the lost children will take revenge.” She smiles and takes the glass to the sink. His son cannot believe that she reacted so quietly instead of shouting things like Revenge! Or I will destroy that woman’s happiness... and he looks at his mum proudly. And even more when she turns to him and proposes, as if it was a secret, if he would like to watch a movie before going to bed.

“It’s half eleven... are you serious?” He is not allowed to watch TV at night and by that time he should be in his PJs, in bed, and sleeping since one hour ago.

“I think you have earned this exception”, which one do you want to watch?” Her smile is so honest that the kid runs to his room thinking which DVD will be the chose one. When she hears his running steps, Regina stops the kitchen work and touches her hair trying to breathe calmly. She could burn the whole house in a heartbeat and clash all the windows with the scream she is holding back. Or start crying full of frustration and fear. But she controls her instincts and tries to put her thoughts into place, give them a meaning and tie them with Henry’s memories.

How many women named Cora can be? She is sure about that, just one. What have you done, mother?

 


 

Emma Swan, Emma anti-early-wake-ups Swan, Emma before-8-don’t-talk-to-me Swan, that same Emma is at 8:30 parked in front of the mayor’s mansion. She is a bit early. One hour to b precise. But she couldn’t continue sleeping. Red’s tequilas kept her entertained in the restaurant until 1am. She managed to escape and arrive home, the first time she stepped on it since her arrival to Storybrooke. But it took her ages to fall on a deep sleep.

She couldn’t stop thinking and turning and tossing in bed. She managed to sleep four hours, and in bumps, and at 7:40am she gave up. She stepped out of bed silently not to wake up anyone else and she took a shower. Perfect to put her thoughts into place.

The calm of the water, the steam and the shower’s massage, a perfect match to relax and think. After fifteen minutes under boiling water, Emma was a bit more wrinkled and more decided; she was going to pick Henry up. And to try to chat with his stubborn mother.

And that is how she ended up being in front of Reina’s home at that time, sitting in her small car. She wouldn’t go close to the door until a decent hour; she doesn’t want to seem desperate... more than she actually is. So she remains sitting and rehearsing over and over again what to say to Regina for her to listen to her more than three seconds in a row. Assaulting her is not as easy in that world as it is on a small pirate ship.... but no rehearsal looks good enough in her mind. Sometimes the words stuck in her mouth... there are so many things she wants to tell her that she messes it all. Other times she tries to talk but the mayor doesn’t separate from Henry and she can only explains herself poorly and with an encrypted language. But most of the times the simulations end the same: with Reina shutting the door on her face.

She takes her face out of the window to take a breath. Why does she insist to talk and even make a fool out of herself for such a stubborn arrogant? Thinking of Regina makes her heart rile and dance between her ribs. She exhales and leans against the head rest. There she has the damned answer.

She looks at the watch, 8:40am. She is deciding that this is officially the slowest morning of her entire life when something reflects on the rear mirror. It shows someone moving a few meters from there and turning the square towards the mansion.

She is wearing a long neck jumper that hides half of her face and she has her head down. But it’s her, no doubt.

She doesn’t even wonder what she is doing coming back home at that time. It’s Regina. She is meters form her garden and before she gets in Emma takes her head out of the window.

“Good morning!” The brunette walks distracted a road distance from the parked car, but she hears the shout perfectly. She jumps surprised stopping her steps and looks towards her half disoriented, half startled. There is someone on the street. Someone that is talking to her. Someone that is the damned sheriff. “Can we talk?”

Her brain works 100% trying to clear up her mind, but her reflects are faster. She smiles and Emma knows that is bad news. The mayor snaps her fingers and the car window starts closing with no consideration of the blondie’s chin, which is still out.

“Regina!” She gets away from the window just on time to see how it closes. She pants disturbed and holds the door handle. She tries to open it but no luck.

Regina smiles even more when she sees an upset Emma trying the rest of the doors and shouting something and she doesn’t get to hear but that, almost surely, is not related to spring’s beauty poetry.

She turns away and comes back home not looking back but listening the savior pounding her car’s windows.

 


 

Henry goes down the stairs yawning and with the PJ’s still on. The first he sees in the living room is her mum’s back, sitting in the sofa with a coffee. When he approaches, Regina feels his presence and turns to him with a kind smile. “Good morning.”

“Good morning.” He answers half awake and sitting next to her. Regina leaves space for dazed with his loving attitude and she even takes the opportunity of giving him a kiss on his head, enjoying when Henry, instead of showing discomfort, lets her do happily.

“Did you sleep well?”

“MYeah...” and he yawns once more with a sweet sleepy face. Regina’s mobile phone, forgotten on the table, vibrates and the kid looks at it puzzled. “Who writes to you at this time?”

Regina picks up the phone and she barely looks at it. “No one, just advertising.” And Henry is convinced by the explanation. The brunette argues with herself that it is not actually a lie. Emma could be considered an advertising agent and also her texts of “Don’t do this to me, open the doors!”, “I have been here for half an hour... it is not funny”, “Regina, open or you will regret this”, and, of course, “Shit! I am starting to lose oxygen and patience, is this shit gonna last long?”

She hasn’t answered any of them, neither the calls, but every time the phone vibrates she reads the new swearing or begging message. Just for curiosity. It is not that she is interested on the savior’s silliness, but if she is going to spend all her salary in texts, it is the least she can do. This last one specifically says: “This is illegal, you are making me handcuff you, you know!?” She waggles uncomfortably in the sofa and locks her phone with clearing her throat and with a mental image that she instantly deletes.

“Shall we eat?” Henry is less sleepy and hungrier.

“I would love it honey, but Emma is outside waiting for you.”

“Emma? Why didn’t see get in?”

“She needed to answer some phone calls.2 she mumbles leaving the certainty behind.

“I will go get dressed then...” the kid stretches in the sofa before heading to his bedroom.

“Henry, would you like to sway breakfast for dinner?” she proposed before he disappears on the top floor.

“Great! At Granny’s?”

“You choose.”

“Good! And maybe Emma and the rest can come too.” He shouts excited running up the stairs. Regina doesn’t have time to answer but the response that gets stuck on her throat is something like “hell no!” Although maybe a bit softer, something similar to: “Henry, leave them, we can have dinner alone and not bother them, they surely have things to do...” She is not going to share a table with the Charming family after travelling together for weeks. And even less with the damned blondie parked outside.

And just as if Emma heard her thoughts, the phone vibrates once more. She picks it up quickly, her eyes open widely and re-reads the screen a couple of times. “Let me guess... you like handcuffs and my threat was counter-productive, wasn’t it?”

Just like that. The mayor reads the text for the third time and she denies to blush. It’s just another silliness of that unbearable and pervert savior... But this time she doesn’t leave the phone on the table. She keeps it on her hand and notices how she claims her one minute later.

“If you think that being an authority will save you from being detained, you are mistaken. Although I could have certain considerations. Let’s say a favour....”

Emma is locked and Regina starts considering that she may be lacking some oxygen and that he brain is agonising. Well, the world is not losing an Einstein either. When the phone vibrates again, it is her who cannot breath.

“And yes, with a favour I mean sex.”

Now she does blush. But the blush is due to both anger and shame. What does she think she is doing?

Another notification, a new message and Regina holds the phone so tightly that she is almost breaking it.

“The police-station doesn’t seem like a great pace, but it has its charm. Remember the table at which you were waiting for me sitting down and crossing your legs?”

She holds her breath, that could go out in flames and she opens a new message.

“What am I saying? Of course you must remember... Well, it is a very resistant table... perfect to uncross them.”

She tightens her jaw so strongly that it hurts and her teeth grind.

“But this time we would need to be more careful. It is not good to destroy what everyone pays for, devouring each other across the room... or is it?”

Now it’s not only her lips which squeeze in rage. Her whole body shakes in fury and her temperature is close to that of boiling water. But Emma doesn’t know when to stop and she continues looking for the final hit.

“All right, I know you like playing at home. I accept swapping the police-station for your office. That carpet that seems as soft as your skin... do you imagine the kind of things we could do on that carpet? I do... go out and I will tell you.”

She wants to go out, she is dying to go out... to kill her. To walk up to her broken yellow car and melting with her inside. And she could, of course she could, because with the fury she feels she would just need to shake her fingers to set the entire city on fire. She is so close to do so... but the damned phone vibrates again:

“While you decide, here is a hint. It would be without clothes... with a lot of sweat... and better if we warm up a bit before and soundproof the room... or the whole council just in case.

She swallows and receives another message before being able to process the previous one.

“... you are picturing it, aren’t you?”

Who does she think she is talking to!? The evil queen doesn’t let anyone talk to her like that. No-one! And even less that they insinuate that she is picturing how they roll on the carpet, how they shake of pleasure skin against skin, and... Henry is home. This pervert doesn’t have any respect or care.

She starts the text with those exact words. She writes so strongly that she could make a hole in the phone and hold Emma from her neck.

“What type of neuronal connection are you missing!?” I am no-ne to judge your perversion, but do not importune me with them! I will never step into the police-station with you inside and, of course, if I get back to the council by any chance, you will have the access completely forbidden and...

“Mum, what are you doing?” Regina looks at Henry, standing on the hall, and she repeats herself that same question, what is she doing pounding the phone, falling into Emma’s game and replying to her? She deletes the text and she abandons the phone as if it was burning.

“Waiting for you, honey. Have you taken everything?”

“I think so, shall we have dinner tonight?”

“Of course.” She confirms with that authentic smiles that she saves for Henry. “I will walk you out.”

“There is no need. He runs before Regina has to stand up and he hugs her carefully avoiding her shoulder. “See you later.”

“Bye honey.”, she answers before he shuts the door behind him.

 


 

Henry walks faster when he sees Emma’s car parked. It is weird that his mum is not outside or that she hasn’t gone the door to pick him up, but the weirdest thing happens when he approaches the co-pilot door. When she sees him opening, Emma pulls herself to his seat with anxiety begging “Don’t come in, don’t come in!” and she gets out of the car hurriedly.

“What’s wrong?” he asks stepping aside. Emma breathes in the same way an ex-convict would do and when she stands up and stretches Henry doesn’t understand her relief face.

“It’s nothing... my door, it blocks sometimes. Old car...” she answers hitting the yellow car roof. “How was the night? Did you have fun?” she bets for a radical change of subject while she stretches her legs with pleasant agony.

“We went late to sleep, I had hot chocolate and we watched Toy Story in mum’s bedroom.” He names euphoric.

She stirs his hair affectionately. "That sounds like a great night."

"Yes it was. Thank you for proposing it"

"Whenever you want, kid " And she says it with feeling.

"Besides I was able to help mom with some things and see that she is better ..."

The words of his son are the perfect excuse to investigate casually. "Better? What do you mean?"

"With her shoulder" The blonde adapts her best look of astonishment "The wound did not heal completely and she still struggles a little to move it"

"She is still hurt?" she asks feeling the burden of guilt for lying to him so brazenly. She expects that the karma takes into account that this is for a good cause ... "Maybe I should stop by and ask how she is, right?"

"I'm sure she would be thrilled, come on!"

"It's just ... do you mind if I go alone? Grandparents are waiting at home and I do not want them to worry "Now she is definitely the only nominated for Worst Mother of the Year... "Go on ahead and tell them I won’t be long, what do you think?"

"That I like that you get along so well" Henry’s kind smile multiplies the guilt she feels and she promises herself to compensate him, though he does not know anything. "I will see you in a bit" And he says goodbye walking towards the road leading to Snow’s house and waving his hand. Emma turns and faces the mansion as if it was a castle to be assaulted. She feels the same stage fright as if she had to jump a ditch, climb a wall and go up to a battlement full of archers. And yet she walks towards her.

 


 

When Rumpelstiltskin hears the first two strokes he does not understand anything . He doesn’t know what time it is and he is not sure where he is. But there is a woman at his side and it can only be Belle . That gives him a clue, he is in Storybrooke . And light enters through the window, it's daytime.

When he hears the second two strokes he solves another mystery, they are knocking at the door . But it's not his house’s, it’s the shop’s. He still hasn’t answered the question of what time it is, but he has the feeling that it is too soon for his liking.

With the third pair of knocks, he suspects it may be an emergency and he carefully puts away Belle’s arm around him and stands up slowly. The girl continues in her deep sleep and he takes the first pair of trousers he finds and a shirt abandoned on a chair. He goes down to the shop from home and finds Neal 's face looking through the glass door . He stops moving when he senses his father figure approaching him .

He opens half-closing his eyes because of the daylight. "What time is it?"

“Hmm ... nine thirty," he answers glancing at his watch . "I have woken you up, haven’t I? "He frowns guilty.

"Don’t worry, is something wrong? Are you OK?"

"Be calm, I don’t come with bad news," he smiles placing his hand on his shoulder.

"But it is not a courtesy visit, is it?" he asks twisting his face and squeezing his hand. "Come and tell me what is happening."

The back room is like how he remembered. An organised mess of books, study material on magic and wrinkled and old looking papyrus. Several of them are open on the main table and Neal can see from ancient runes to dissertations on spells and powers.

He turns to his father raising an eyebrow. "Are you back to the old ways and trying to recover your magic? "

His father’s clean and quiet laughter responds before their own words. He raises his hands pleading innocent. "No, the prophecy is fulfilled, Henry has been the reason for the destruction of the Dark and believe me, I do not intend to resuscitate him" He takes a seat at one of his chairs and invites Neal to the nearest "It will be hard to have less magic than David Copperfield, but Henry, Belle and you compensate it by far. I can live without magic, I cannot leave without you. You're all I need, "Neal takes a seat overwhelmed by his father’s explanation, but smiling. "These files are simple curiosity, a personal inquiry... bad habits are never lost"

Neal nods and remains silent. Very silent. Rumpelstiltskin leans towards him and seeks his gaze. "I know that as a parent I have missed many things, but still know when something is bothering you... tell me"

Neal takes a breath and scratched his neck. "What do you know of the sirens?"

The older man repositions back in his chair analysing his question. "Me? Probably less than you, right? "He does not understand to where this conversation is going. "What do you want to know exactly?"

"I ..." he hesitates, scratching his neck again and ends standing up, uneasily. "Do you think they can lose strength? What I mean is ... they spent too much time with no food, banished from its lagoon, can they be weakened by hunger and become vulnerable to magic?"

Neal struggles to stand still, but Rumpel perfectly reads his plea. He is asking for sincerity and he cannot deny it to him. "I doubt it…"

His son stands still before him in the middle of the room. "So what happened on that ship?"

"Well, we all saw it. Regina saved her life, right?"

"But how?"

Rumpel takes a break and still does not answer. "How are things between Emma and you?"

"They just aren’t..." he sighs and he passes his pain to his father. "I talked to her on the boat. She does not feel the same as me, not anymore. And I think it was even clearer when a siren was able to trick her "Rumpelstiltskin shows intention to talk and tries to encourage him, but he shakes his head. "I'm sure it was not me with a fishtail and bikini who she saw down there..."

He swallow deeply and uses a very compassionate tone, one that betrays him. "What are you thinking?"

"Dad," says Neal staring at him. "What are you investigating about?" he points to the table, referring to the scrolls and papers scattered around it.

"Bae ..." Her name sounds like an agonized sigh.

"Dad" repeats with a firmness that leaves no space for detours.

"We told you how we beat the shade but not all the details." He accepts his son’s implicit plea and invites Neal to take the seat in front of him again. "Regina was wounded. She was so weak that she channeled the magic of Emma through herself. We are talking about a very complex transfer of magic."

"It's not normal, right?"

"If it was, it would be enough with some basic knowledge of magic for someone to touch me and use the power of the dark at their will. As if I were the batteries of a flashlight. "Neal expects something more, a clear answer. "No, the way they worked together, the way they intertwined... it is not easy, nor usual..."

"That's what you were studying, right?"

Rumpelstiltskin nods and it hurts him more than to Neal. "It's not the first time it happens. When magic came to Storybrooke, Regina could not even levitate a feather. And much less give life to a magic hat. She was dry in power until Emma touched her shoulder and her magic came back to life like an explosion. They even stopped the button that would have destroyed the city. I should have realized then...”

He put his elbows on his knees and his forehead in one of his hands. "Realize what?"

"Bae, it’s all assumptions ..." he answers trying to downplay his words, but his son is willing to go to the end, what whatever it hurts. He releases the air before continuing. "You tell me. How do you beat sirens? In the Enchanted Forest or Neverland, how? "

Neal rubs his eyes, runs his scalp, he doesn’t want to answer but he does. "With the most powerful magic of all ..." He looks for his father’s look and feels like a child again. "Do you think that…?"

His father's voice cracks: "Sorry ..."

Neal laughs with a wet and resigned laugh before hiding his face in his hands. "Yeah, you think so too..."

 


 

Regina has nothing to do. Henry is gone and all that she can do is to stay in that mansion watching the time go by until it is dinner time and she can see him again. No one to call, no one to make up for the lost time in Neverland, not a single soul in that town to be with. Perquisites of the Evil Queen post. But she does not care. At this moment she even appreciates the solitude.

She leaves her clothes in the laundry basket and looks for a wider pair of trousers and an older shirt. Something to be comfortable at home. The clothes she discards as dirty do not have a single stain, not even a trace of sand, moss or mud. But for her they smell like cemetery, death, and she doesn’t intend to put them on again until the memories that impregnate them don’t disappear. She looks herself in the mirror, with dark brown trousers and a non-sleeve dark top, and she wonders who she is looking at. She does not look like a mayor, nor as an evil queen or an innocent Amazon. But it's still herself, she still has the same bad luck, still unable to leave the past behind.

What she discovered in the cemetery has passed through her mind like a steamroller. She doesn’t  feel strong enough to face anything else, she doesn’t want to keep fighting, misfortunes never end, even playing with the rules of good. She rubs her forehead, reluctantly removes her fringe and closes her eyes. She prefers not to see her reflection, she simply prefers not to think. Will life always be like this? A never-ending struggle to keep what little good she has? She is still not sure how this discovery will affect her life ... but she doesn’t want to find out. They have just arrived from Neverland, she just got her child back and she still has a small hole in her shoulder. She requires a break, a second of happiness and rest before resuming this fight. Is it so much to ask...?

 

Movement. The mirror reflects her bedroom, including the door. And it is moving. Everything happens so fast it's just a blink. Two knocks are heard at the door, but Regina has already turned back, has opened the door and has raised the intruder in the air. As if an invisible hand grabbed his neck and raised her off the ground.

"Sheriff Swan!?" she shouts with the heart at a thousand revolutions by the sudden intrusion.

"H-hel-lo ..." she gasps half strangled.

 

To be continued…

Chapter Text

Chapter 12

"What the hell are you doing here?!"

Emma's blood is not reaching her ears as it should. But she still hears the cry perfectly.

"I rung the bell, but nobody opened..." She loses breath but not her shamelessness.

"You-Did-Not" She roars like a wild cat and highlights each word.

Emma doesn’t repress her half smile. "I know..."

"I can sue you for harassment and trespassing.”

"It’s not considered trespassing if the entry isn’t forced..." She tries to answer touching her neck and pleading silently for oxygen.

"But it’s legal to kill someone who came into your house uninvited... self-defense, it is called... right?" Now she’s smiling, she savours her threat and tries to project in that comment all the evilness she is capable of. Which is not much. Emma smiles humorously even though she’s turning blue. Regina lowers her hand and releases her grip reluctantly. "Consider yourself lucky and get out of my house now." Emma falls to his knees, coughing and rubs her carefully. But she stands up with the same pose charged with impertinence. Regina would love to know what she’s doing here, the blonde hasn’t answered to her question yet. However she chooses not to go to Emma’s flow; trying to satisfy their curiosity will only make her stay longer.

Clearly, Regina’s words go completely unnoticed for the Sheriff, who continues to speak calmly. "How's your shoulder?"

"Very well, thank you. Out." Four words, each more hostile than the previous one. But neither this is going to be enough... What's wrong with this woman?

"Can we talk for a moment like adults?" She asks, twisting her face, trying to sound as firm and serious as she can.

Regina begins with a gentle sarcastic laughter. "I doubt you’re capable of such thing, Sheriff." Emma digests the blow with a flick of her tongue but remains silent. "And even if you were, I am demanding you to get the hell off, why exactly would I want to engage in a conversation?”

The Savior’s smile grows inordinately and smugly. She even gives a couple of steps toward Regina. "Because you can’t go around telling a girl that you always look at, that you're afraid to be near her and that you want her more than anyone and then ignore her. That’s not right at all."

"I'm the Evil Queen, I don’t do right." The repulsion with which Regina addresses her slows down Emma’s approach, who decides to wait and assess whether her physical integrity is in real danger or not. "If I had known the consequences of saying that bit of nonsense, Miss Swan, I wouldn’t have made the effort. I would have let you take that dip."

"You would never let anything bad happen to me, I know that."

Regina squints at this reply and breathes like a trapped bull wanting to charge mercilessly. But she holds herself, she keeps her composure and barks:

"Out."

"Regina..." Emma’s patient sigh is heard throughout the room and the Mayor doesn’t lose sight of her when she unconsciously approaches the bed willing to sit on it. Brown eyes fulminate her on the spot and Emma loses all will to be let herself drop. She raises the two inches her butt has gone down before continuing and facing Regina: "Are you telling me you want to have nothing to do with me nothing? That you didn’t like my messages? Or the fact that I’m here now...?"

Anger and rage have an interesting effect. They allow you to act, to attack something and detach yourself from it completely without considering the consequences beyond the vent. But Emma's words, cooly uttered, leave no room to doubt about what will come after her cries and threats. But that’s what she want, right? To get rid of her...

She answers, unwilling to think about that any longer, and she holds on stoically with her most ironic smile: "Not nothing exactly… You’re still Henry’s other mother. Every once in awhile we’ll come across each other."

"Am I nothing else to you?"

"This is unbelievable..." She growls, rubbing the bridge of her nose before charging again. "Is this a genetic defect of the Charmings? Are ye unable to assimilate that someone makes out with someone else for a reason other than utter and pure love?" She’s using her most deadly poison, distilled especially for Miss Swan, and she doesn’t want to stop. Every minute Emma insists on talking is a minute more feeling awkward, out of place, and she’s willing to do anything to get the blonde out of her territory.

"And why was that? Surprise me.” The Savior is as as straightforward as her stance. Arms crossed and standing in the middle of the bedroom. But Regina can only think of losing sight of her. She tries to take advantage of her question, loads her viperish itongue and prepares to give the coup de grace.

"Pure and simple fun, Sheriff." Disdain and cruelty covering five words she utters with her most ruthless smile. All the eggs in one basket. "An effective way to relieve stress and kill the guard time. I thought you were old enough not to need an explanation on this."

The blonde takes a deep breath, keeps your hands in her pockets, and recoils a step: "Satisfactory and easy sex...?"

"No one has said anything about satisfactory, but in overall you’re not far wrong there..." The Mayor's smile is all cruelty and triumph. While Emma’s rivals in volume with the steps of an ant:

"I see..." She looks down and takes a moment before continuing. "Regina..." She whispers before looking up and facing her it with a smile that drips superiority "You forget about my superpower."

She’s bothered by her cockiness, her security and her calm. But the worst, the most maddening thing, is that chill with loaded doubt that has the nerve to walk down her back when she hears Emma’s. Doubts. Her own doubts. But she goes ahead, she doesn’t believe in trashy superpowers.

"Again with this nonsense about the truth?" The moodiness is claiming a victim, her reasoning, and all the control that Emma wields is the control she’s losing.

"I’m dying to kiss you" The Savior’s answer is simple, blunt and cheerful. And if that were not enough, she dares to take a step forward. This maddening woman takes a step towards her and doesn’t stop smiling.

"And I want to get a fireball through you... Alas, we can’t always have everything we want." A bark, a warning.

"Another lie." Now even her eyes shine with joy and she doesn’t stop walking. "You don’t know how much I miss your smile."

"Well, you should get used to see my ring finger stretched..." Second bark, there will be no more warnings.

But Emma wants to earns that bite, she doesn’t have the intention to stop now. She whispers and she does so with a softness that borders in harm: "The only thing I want get used to is you..."

She would be lying if she said she’s not afraid. Those blue eyes don’t have good intentions. That warm smile is warming her chest and her belly. And the way she moves, she talks, she draws nearer as attracted by a magnet. She’s scared, yes. But she doesn’t mind feeling she’s that magnet. She’s causing that effect on Emma.

She lets her get closer. She tolerates her progress and thinks that there’s nothing wrong in letting go. Maybe waiting here, standing, looking at her, letting Emma’s body corner hers and kiss her... is not such a bad idea. Just a little, just the right amount. A kiss, nothing else. She moistens her lips and repeats, again and again, that nothing bad can happen, no one has died for a kiss... right?

She opens her eyes. Literally and symbolically. Emma is unbearably close and intolerably smiling and Regina, back in his right mind, raises her hand and throws her magic against her. The blonde flies a couple of yards before stopping with a magical halt in the middle of the bedroom.

"Regina!" She screams, annoyed. But when she tries to gesticulate or move a single finger, she can’t. Her face is free from the grip, but the rest of her body remains dangled in the air, frozen like a statue.

"That’s better." The Mayor doesn’t fear being poisoned with a kiss, nor that Emma might want to attack her. The Savior represents many things, too many, but none of them is threat. And yet Regina is sure that she’d let Emma walk to her, she would be taking a dangerous risk. Now that Emma is paralyzed, she is calmer, more serene.

Even though Emma's daggering her with a furious and spiteful glance. The blonde wants to reproach her to be playing with magic, with advantage. But she reads between the lines. She knows the Mayor: whatever she can’t fight against, she enchants it. Regina’s  about to give in, she notices, and that’s how she acts when she feels trapped. She may be the prey now, but she’s winning.

"Let me go, please." She implores, trapped in her own body. Regina shakes her head with a neutral face and Emma tries to resist again, but it's useless. "Do you want me to go? Do you want to never see me again? Give me one good reason and I'll leave you alone."

But Regina doesn’t answer. She doesn’t know what to say. Emma’s asking for one reason and she has a million to give her. But when she thinks about them none seems good enough. It’s the anger, it’s the presence of this unbearable woman, that cancels her reasoning.

"Come on, Regina, I’m making this easy for you." She smiles turning her face and claiming all with that impertinent smile. She adds in a whisper full of charm. "Give me a reason."

That smile, the movement of the lips, blue eyes fixed on hers. It’s too much for hwe fragile resistance. And she explodes.

"Because it’s absurd how much I miss you!" The Mayor’s cry catches both by surprise. But while Regina closes her mouth shut, Emma smiles harder.

"You don’t have to..." She mutters, dazzled, trying to resist her spell and move.

"Be still." She replies when she sees the Sheriff’s attempt and her fingers flutter reasserting her dominance over Emma’s. She may not control her own mouth, but she controls her power. When she continues talking wants to appear to be calm, but anxiety in her voice betrays her. "Yes. Yes, I do. I can’t afford this. I don’t want to."

"Why?"

"God, Emma, because I don’t!" The cry comes from her chest and oozes despair. She takes a breath before adding a languid verdict. "Because feeling means suffering..."

Something inside Emma breaks with the vision of Queen resigned to not love for fear of suffering.  "That’s not true"

"It is for me, that's my story: when I want something, bad things happen. Haven’t you read my story?" She replies, ironic. "And I can’t afford it, don’t you understand? I'm always on the verge of falling into darkness. This is my place, this limbo." She insists, pointing nowhere but reaffirming herself. "If I don’t love anything, they can’t make me suffer. If I don’t suffer, I won’t revert into that monster that destroys everything in her path. I won’t let that happen again."

Emma’s floating head retains much more self-possession despite having her body immobilized by Regina. "You're wrong. You're not that confident and innocent rider anymore. But neither are you the Evil Queen. "

"What am I, according to you?" A cold and hostile question, but at the same time as faint as the brunette’s presence. Emma sighs, mirroring on her face the same pain oozing from Regina’s eyes and tries to unravel the mystery that she is.

"Simply the woman who looked at me in the eyes when I thought we were going to die in that mine... And the one who smiled when our magic began to work. A heroin capable of sacrificing herself for us all." Regina is those things and much more. But for Emma those two brief moments are an almost perfect summary of her: strong, sweet, extraordinary. “As much as you throw in your own face those acts you did as the Evil Queen, all you've done these years has been fighting against yourself despite how easy it was to use magic."

Chocolate brown eyes shine, but with anger, helplessness, a cocktail of feelings and frustrations that have only one exit, her words. If Emma attacks with sweet and gentle answers, she fights back with hardness and cruelty. That is her nature.

"The Charmings and your rainbow world... You think you know me because you have slept with me twice?" She asks, scathing. "I would have annihilated Greg when he tried to hurt you, I would have gladly burst Demian’s brains if that bullet had reached you... And I would have enjoyed so much destroying Neal when I saw you two together."

"Regina..." A sigh followed by so many things she wants to say. That she’s not a monster but neither is she an angel. That good guys are not those who never think about doing bad things, but those that think them, desire them, but resist them. As she has done.

But the Mayor doesn’t listen. She’s blunt: "You're not good for me. You would destroy me."

"What?" Emma's eyes open in horror and she nervously to stir and escape, but her limbs don’t even bother to balance the slightest bit. "No, I would never hurt you! I’m sorry about Neal, really, I... "

"That..." She bites her lips and fills her lungs, drowned in the swing of feelings and too flustered to notice Emma's magic subtly fighting against hers and taking over. "That's not important, don’t you see? Being by your side destroys me. Your damn magic interferes with mine, it control me even if I oppose, haven’t you seen that? You undid the flame that I created when Mulan attacked you.” She says, as if it were the most serious of the charges. "You drive me weak; Henry and you, both of you do. I'm a killer, tyrant queen! And when the two of you were in danger I got paralyzed like a little girl... I can’t afford it, I can’t be helpless." She’s nearly begging, a twisted mixture of reproach and supplication.

"It is normal to fear for the people you care about..." She replies, trying to find sanity to end this mad conversation. "I care about you... like you did about me on the ship." She searches for a reaction in Regina, any sign that she’s listening and not waiting for her to shut up to try and chase her out again. "And if anything happened to you, it wouldn’t matter if didn’t see you, or kiss you or talk with you… that wouldn’t save me the pain."

The brunette shuns her gaze, she shuns understanding what she’s saying. She insists, shakes her head and tries to hold on.

"No... I accepted to adopt Henry, to love someone and being weak for him. I took the risk and knew what it would mean. Now I keep paying the price every day and I'm not willing to accept anyone else, to suffer for anything else."

Emma frowns and picks up something that has set off her alarms: "Pay the price of what?"

"Nothing... Just go, already."

The blonde avoids a sarcastic comment about how difficult it would be to leave while still frozen in the middle of the room and thinks about Regina’s words. "What's going on? Where were you coming from this morning...? "

"Nowhere." She growls, exhausted, and the desire to give in multiplies.

But Emma doesn’t understand about renditions. "Regina, tell me. Please."

She can’t resist her plea. Her way to ask for it. She excuses herself arguing that it’s not the Savior’s tender and worried gesture what convinces her. No. She repeats it again and again until she’s convinced that she’ll answer just for Henry. That she’ll answering those bright eyes and that downcast face because it’s something that concerns their child. Nothing else.

"Weren’t you surprised that Greg was obsessed with magic and myself, but that they took Henry instead? It wasn’t his goal to get to this town. It sparked his interest weeks later, when he realized who he was."

"He hadn’t recognized him until then..." Emma concludes, tying loose ends without understanding where they lead. "Someone told him Henry’s identity?"

"Not someone. My mother." The sound Regina’s voice gets lots in the room and she can how in Emma’s traits a confused what?! can be read, although she doesn’t say it aloud. "Henry heard the Shadow’s minions talk about her and how she had put them on the trail of Storybrooke and the chosen child."

"How? Before dying?” She stutters.

"Bitches never die..." She says, shaking her head. "This morning I was coming back from the cemetery. I opened the tomb, her body is not ther. And I don’t mean that only the bones remain. There’s simply nothing "

"How could she do that?" Regina is many steps ahead of her and Emma tries to follow her reasoning. But the shock has jammed her neurons, it does not get to assimilate this.

"The same way she faked her death the first time, deceiving us all..."

"Then Snow didn’t..."

Regina devotes a resigned and defeatist smile . "She was just another tool of her machiavellian plan ..."

"Why would she do that?" She asks, narrowing her eyes.

"For me, it's always about me. I'm her damn obsession" But Emma doesn’t undestand and Regina frees all the air from her lungs with patience. "She wanted me back, the most cruel and heartless version of the Evil Queen, which she considers to be my best facet."

Emma almost can’t believe what she’s going to say: "Making you believe that they ha taken away from you the two people you love most..."

"That's Mom"

"Well, she failed..." She answers quietly, recomposing herself.

"For now." She rubs her forehead and tries to clear her stuffy head, to explain how her mother’s deranged mind work. She’s forgetting she wanted to throw Emma out of the house, she lets go and speaks without realizing how much she needed it. "She'll be back. When she discovers what happened to the Shadow and Demian,she’ll look for another way to reach me. She will never give up."

Emma’s straightforward, and so firm and sincere that everything in her sounds like an irrefutable fact. "But now we know the truth. We will be ready and waiting for her."

"We?" Regina repeats, puzzled and furrowing her eyebrows. "I don’t think she’ll try to go for Henry again..."

Emma interrupts her, saying what she thinks is an unnecessary obviety. "I know, it’s not him that I worry for, but for you." Regina doesn’t react, she’s a marble representation of herself, and Emma, confused, keeps on talking. "I mean, I won’t leave you alone with this." Where the blonde sees an impassive Mayor, there’s a tremulous woman who’s near the seizure. "If Cora comes for you, she comes for me too."

Breathing becomes hard and she tries to hold back tears. She has tried to ignore her, to hear without listening and let her slip from her mouth directly to the floor. But she can’t deny that she has bent down pick up each of them, that they haven’t fallen on deaf ears, but directly against herself.

Because of Emma she may no longer feel so alone. And perhaps this is crazy. But perhaps no one can ever blame her for wanting to believe a little bit in Emma. In her words. In her way of looking at her.

This pain she shelters in every beat of her heart is becoming relief and she no longer feels trapped, she begins to feel protected. And it's an extraordinary feeling. No, nobody could ever blame her for touching happiness at this time. But fear keeps talking for her, as it does every time her mother’s shadow is close.

"She'll kill you." She whispers, almost to herself. Some quarrelling tears try to appear in her eyes and threaten drop. "That is her game, to take away all that matters to me."

And there, hearing the tearful response, Emma becomes the picture of happiness. Despite guilt, she can’t help but feeling radiant... The unbridgeable Regina just recognized that she cares for me?

"She won’t. She tried to steal my heart and ended up flying in the air." She sums up, with an irrepressible and almost childish. It’s the same energy that she transfers to her magic, and the same that her magic transfers to Regina’s. There is so much to say, so much to think about, so many feelings that neither of them are aware of how their magic mix, making Regina’s subtly give in, making her grip gradually lose strength. And even more so when Emma gives the coup de grace: "I am made for you... I am an anti-Coras girlfriend."

Regina's bright eyes look at her, inquisitive and fun. Despite the tears trying to escape, she holds a laughter. "You didn’t just say that, tell me you didn’t..."

"You're laughing." Emma throws the accusation with a giddy smile that warms her whole being and that spreads all that heat towards Regina. "Let me go..." She whispers, sounding like the biggest of temptations. But the Mayor scratches her last grams of resistance and shakes her head. "Would you take a comedian and a lover for the price of one."

"I won’t." A fun but strong statement, but the consistency of its magic is increasingly in doubt. "Besides, what you consider to be funny, I consider it to be cheesy and repellent... and I have no interest in buying you."

"It's okay, I’m giving myself way." She hums and she has the feeling that time moves slower and slower, that this is the longest conversation she’s ever held. But all could be summed up with the fact that she can’t wait for the second to be free, being able to move, to pounce on that lopsided and challenging smile Regina wields . "Would you unwrap me?"

She twists her lips, it contains another laughter that dues like all the others, but she smiles: "You're a perv ..."

"I haven’t heard you say you dislike pervs..."

"No ... But I dislike Charmings."

"I'm not a Charming, I'm a Swan." So hot, so hoarse that Regina swallows hard.

She trembles with a shiver and even her shakes. That's when she notices that she’s losing control of everything. Of her magic, her words, her smile. But it doesn’t matter. For the first time in forever, none of that matters. With a smile, Emma is fighting openly against her power. She notices that, the spell is close to its breaking point and blonde is close to pounce on her.

"Well, stay away from me, Swan."

"I’m sorry..." Emma growls and her right foot moves slowly, as if walking in the middle of the sea. Regina insists in keeping her spell, but that half-step becomes two, and for each inch it moves, her magic and herself gets weaker. "But pervs know nothing about personal space."

Until the end. Regina wants to resist until the very the end. She raises her hands, dragging her magic against Emma, she tries to stop her. But the Savior is a storm that doesn`t want to hear about limits. She dumps all her power to tear down those walls and she can swear she hears Regina’s crumbling deliciously in a thousand small pieces. She’s totally free and lunges it out of her. She would even bet that the last inches before rushing over Regina, the brunette’s power pulls her.

Magic is not freezing Emma’s body. Nor is it the Savior passing over Regina’s spell. Magic is them colliding in a wild kiss. When their bodies come together, the brunette's arms close around Emma’s neck and hers get lost in Regina’s waist l. That's magic, and electricity, and saliva and gasps. It’s everything Regina has missed and much more.

To be continued…

Chapter Text

Emma's lips surrender to a slow, deep caress and Regina’s get not far behind. Although their eyes are closed, their hands have learned the way by heart. Fingers get lost among the blond locks, she holds her neck and makes her to come closer. The kiss intensifies, groans adorn it like a soundtrack and Emma could bet her head is spinning.

Regina melts in happiness. The only reason why she isn’t sporting a huge smile is because Emma is carefully scouring every corner of her mouth. But she could smile so very much... and even cry. It's dangerous, her inner demon repeats again and again, that demon that quails before such powerful feelings. But she ignores it and enjoys the woman in front of her devouring her mouth and stroking her hips with an exciting devotion.

Nothing else matters. Nothing.

Pulling her with renewed hunger, she sticks their bodies together almost impossibly, she mutter’s Emma’s name through her teeth for the simple pleasure of it. The owner of that name gets slightly away, just an inch, to smile at hearing it be pronounced like that. Brown and blue eyes look at each other with more passion than they can handle without going crazy. It’s Regina who retakes the kiss and sinks into it. Emma’s carried away spellbound by the Mayor’s raw passion. But if anything plays with her nerve endings to delirium is Regina's voice whispering in her ear.

"You could be accused of rape because of this..." She nibbles her earlobe, goes down the long neck.

"Am I forcing you?" She groans, Regina’s teeth pinned in her, the brunette’s fingers fiddling with her shirt,threatening to take it away.

"Absolute..." one last bite of the soft skin, "... total.." and she gets rid of the garment throwing it to some point at the foot of the bed, "... and completely." She grunts, walking her nails over the exposed back.

An uncontrolled groan and the blonde’s lips turn white with the pressure. "I'm the Sheriff, I can’t break the law..." She replies, carried away by Regina’s mouth’s designs. The Mayor is enjoying her collarbone like a little girl, while her hands play around the waistband of her jeans.

"Too late, you've harassed me, you have assaulted my house .. And you know what they say, no two crimes without a third." The button of the trouser resists, she throws herself against Emma's mouth and when she hears her moaning uncontrollably, she snaps her fingers. The button is released and while the blonde isn’t not aware of anything, she’d swear Regina's hands are on her neck and ribs when the zipper of her jeans gets sensually unzipped.

"Well, let’s go for that third one, then." Emma pants out her wots, awkwardly removing her pants, sticking Regina against herself and smiling victoriously when it’s  the brunette the one who lets out a wheezy sigh. She turns with her in her arms, forces her to walk backwards, colliding with the mattress. Emma pushes them against the bed and they fall tangled and mixing the sounds their mouths can’t repress.

But in doing so, a small spark of judgment lights her head. She gets away from Regina with guilt painted on her face and the brunette opens her open, worried.

"What?"

"Did I hurt you?" The question is fraught with guilt.

"You know the rape thing was a joke, right?" She wails playfully, pulling her bra with a finger and drawing her closer again.

Emma smiles sideways accepting the mockery. "I was talking about your shoulder..." She caresses that corner of her anatomy, running her fingers over the fabric of her tank top and the band.

Regina's face changes with a look of surprise. "No... not even a little."

"And that's bad?" She asks. arching both eyebrows. "Mayor... are you into sado?" Regina hits her arm with more intention than force. Emma complains jokingly and the brunette smiles before turning her eyes to her shoulder.

"It's almost as if… " She takes her hands away from the Savior’s body and removes the bandage carefully. The white cloth goes away with traces of blood but underneath it there’s only a patch of smooth and flawless olive skin. Regina runs the tips of her fingers dumbfounded, and looks at Emma accusingly. "Was it you?"

"No". She answers, as if she were being accused of a crime. "I think... I wouldn’t know where to start." She looks at her hands, but Regina has a better idea. She grabs and takes them to her waist, where they were, inviting them to continue their walk there. Emma sneaks under her shirt, drags it and before moving it away, she asks with a hint of confusion. "Could it have been me? Unintentionally?"

Regina smiles at her tender confusion. She doesn’t understand, either, but she doesn’t care. She sees flying discarded far away, and she responds with an evil twist. "I don’t  know, it could be... You can’t stay still, huh?"

Emma goes down, stops in the immaculate shoulder and nibbles it. "Should I apologize?"

Regina’s hips, trapped in her pants, threaten to start dancing out of her control and Emma's mouth doesn’t help. She surrounds the blonde with her whole body, turns around and tops her. enjoying her newly discovered healed shoulder. She sneaks her between Emma’s legs, letting her know she’s trapped beneath her.

"Do pervs apologize?" Her body vibrates with Emma’s laughter and she smiles going down on her chest, leaving kisses around the bra.

"You've had me frozen in the middle of your bedroom at your mercy... Who is the real perv here?" She pants, following with her eyes the black locks sliding down her chest. Regina's eyes face hers for one second and Emma swallow’s deeply.

"That was not perverted, Miss Swan, that was for my safety." She growls, taking a bite on the fabric where she notices the form of the nipple. Emma arches in favor of her mouth and the Regina’s voice strikes again. "The perv thing to do would be to force you to put your wrists together..." She whispers, evil, and Emma’s hands get away from Regina. "To raise them to the headboard..." They approach to each other until the wrists touch and arms slowly stretch towards the wooden surface. But Emma hasn’t moved them willingly. "And keep your body against the mattress..." She moans getting rid of the bra while Emma’s back, hips and legs stick to the sheets. Blue eyes open guiltily amazed and excited at Regina’s strategy.

"You won’t dare..." And she can’t help a light note breaking her voice.

"You forget who you're talking with..." A threatening sentence that manages to alter Emma’s breathing and electrify her entire being. She wants to move, get close to the body resting on hers, relieve the damn bonfire that has been brewing for too long beyond her womb. But she can’t. She’s paralyzed and at her mercy. And that redoubles her need.

"Regina, please..." She groans softly, and she has already lost count of the times she has begged today. But this sounds like an authentic and exciting plea.

"No favors will be granted." She replies, attacking her neck mercilessly and sticking to her. Her hands roam over her chest, squeezing the soft flesh, running her thumb over her nipples and playing with them until the get hard. Emma whines uncontrollably. She want to move, she needs to squirm and respond to the shakes of her body. But she’s firmly trapped against the mattress and that frustration is the most succulent torture.

"Oh, god…"

Regina's mouth meanders towards Emma's chest, using lips, tongue and teeth. Although she can’t move, she trembles with anticipation and her throat vibrates with a grunt. Her skin bristles when fingers cling to her ribs, go down mercilessly over her hips and squeeze her butt. She wants to protest. And she’s about to. But Regina's lips close over her chest by treason and her complaint turns into a whimper bordering a cry. The sounds escaping her throat are confused and desperate. The brunette smiles presumptuous when removes her underwear and hears her hum, tormented.

Each wave of pleasure is torture. Regina's mouth is everywhere, her hands touch the most dangerous points and revel in them. And she can only beg.

The brunette's hips move against the mattress trying to ease the volcano that has formed inside her jeans. Her hands caress Emma legs, squeeze her thighs and roam near her center while her lips devour the other breast.

The blonde verges on collapse and magic acts on pure instinct. Regina is devoted to devour the body trapped beneath her and she doesn’t notice the intruder that sneaks into her spell. And when she does it’s already too late. Emma has started to move her arms and her body contracts in favor of her mouth. And for a microsecond, it all makes sense. In this moment, no worries or fears, she discover Emma’s doesn’t cancel hers, but complements it. They flow together, side by side, not knowing where one ends and the other begins. They are linked beyond all logic. And now that she doesn’t feel it like a threat, she discovers how delicious it is.

It’s almost as if, in trying to resist her immobility, Emma was tickling Regina’s magic. And she can’t give in. The blonde moans when she feels free and pounces on her, turning the tide of battle.

"I can play this game, too..." She pants with a raw kiss pants, stained with passion and delirium. But when Regina moans and tries to fight back, Emma abandons her mouth. Her neck pays the consequences of the passionate repression Emma has been subjected to, and she shouts out the blonde’s name. Torture extends over her collarbone, her chest, fiercely released from her bra, and her belly. No corner left without Emma’s saliva and kisses, and she writhes desperately clutching the sheets.

When the blonde’s fingers begin to unbutton her pants, she’s shocked to see no steam.

The Savior slides off the fabric of her jeans and underwear and Regina is sure, now she has to be on fire. But she stops thinking about anything when the tip of a naughty tongue walks over her whole center with a lick.

"Yes, there!" She exclaims, taking her hands to the blond’s head and losing all awareness of her actions. Emma indulges herself in Regina, savoring the taste that has pursued her relentlessly since their first night together and enjoys Regina’s spasms. But such a short revenge is not revenge. She steps away, puts a halt to her attentions, goes back to her and puts her hands on either side of her head. "Right now I don’t like you at all..." Regina growls, narrowing her eyes. But she only manages to get Emma laughing and assaulting her mouth. Their saliva get mixed and the brunette, dazed, savoirs herself on the blonde’s lips.

The blonde’s body slithers, lying completely on the brunette. Her breasts are excitingly together, their bellies slide with increasingly rapid movements and hips play with friction to provoke each other. Their mouths break in kisses that want to cover everything, that bite rather than caress and moan rather than remain silent. Emma seeks her hands and intertwine their fingers. She forces them to move with her own hands, to rest on the pillow above them, next to the headboard. There’s no corner where they’re not intimately touching each other.

"Better together..." Emma growls, biting her lower lip. Regina answers  with a pating and grave yes and looks for her mouth desperately. They move challenging the bed endurance and the mattress resistance, body against body, sweat against sweat. Her center burns against Regina’s with a devastating friction, her brain detaches from his body and all that remain are the sensations.

The impending orgasm forces a higher rate. The two of them move without sanity nor order and Regina’s fingers close against Emma’s strongly, pushing the limits of pain. Hips over hers stuck with such a deep lunge that there’s nothing beyond.

Regina melts with a roar in Emma’s mouth, the blonde moans uncontrollably. And the climax finds them in the middle of a kiss, with an uncontrolled heat and the smell of both’s desire combined.

Emma tries to breathe but she’s sure that her lungs have been atrophied by her moans and that the air in the room is much denser than a few minutes ago. Beneath Regina, tries to open her eyes and come around. The Savior frees her hands and steps aside, covering her body, but without crushing it, and the brunette’s hands get lost on Emma’s skin of Emma not knowing quite where.

She tries to control the spasms of her body, but Emma’s presence doesn’t make things easy. Much less when she notices the blonde’s  fingers caressing her forehead delicately and pushing away hair locks that have been trapped by sweat. She turns to her expensively and swallows, undone.

Emma smiles, giddy . "Thank you"

The brunette raised a confused eyebrow, amazed, but gets closer to her touch. "Why?" She asks, meditating surprised if she’s talking about the sex. Emma, who guesses her suspicions, laughs.

"For finally giving in."

And there it is. Regina’s laughter. Not any laughter one but Her Laughter. The one which floods up to her eyes and sounds like the sweetest of melodies. The one which swells Emma’s chest and makes her feel a little happier.

"Thank you for being so bloody annoying." She answers, coming closer to her and surrounding her waist with the strength that’s slowly returning to their anatomy.

"I was convinced that I’d get to make you crazy and make you to answer my messages..." She mutters, without hiding his frustration.

"I’d never fall so low." And she says it with a vanity that contrast with the sweet ride of her fingers on Emma’s skin.

The blonde squints and makes a thoughtful pause before answering. "It's a lie... Yes you were going to answer!"

"You and that damn superpower..." She snorts in disgust. "Someday I’ll find a way to turn it off or something..." She mutters under her breath.

"You would never..." Regina's eyebrow raises defiantly as a response. "I like my superpower!"

"I don’t."

"Well, you’ll have to put up with it..." She says that with a childish touch full of happiness that, far from disturbing her, melts Regina. Since when am I this soft? She asks herself while she smiles and draws her face to Emma’s for the simple pleasure of being close. "Although I like yours more..."

"Which one?" She takes the chance brag with a tone of sufficiency.

"The one you used to save me from the mermaids."

Regina’s snort resonates throughout the room, even above Emma’s laughter. She gets away from the blonde, pretending to be upset and tries to flee to her side of the bed. But Emma is a ruthless jailer and, still laughing, holds her in the sheets, hugging her.

"I'll find a way to erase that memory even if it's the last thing I do." She growls, giving her best Evil Queen pose . And Emma laughs again merrily.

"No, you won’t..." She whispers, caressing Regina’s lips with hers, not quite a kiss. "And I will recall it again and again and again..."

"Shut up." She orders in a roar before flopping against Emma's mouth. She has learned that kissing her is the best way to make her stop teasing and, as long as it works, she’s willing to make the sacrifice and devour slowly that hot and irresistible mouth.

When they get apart, they don’t even remember what they were talking about, they just smile, giddy, and Regina is offended to see herself drooling like a teenager. What’s worse, she’s drooling for Snow’s, her step granddaughter, and her son’s mother. A thought crosses her mind and she lets a small laughter slip.

"What are you laughing at?" Emma musses, everything in her calm and relaxation.

"At Emma' from the future..." The blond eyebrows pucker, not following her. "The one who will have to talk to their parents..." She adds, enjoying every one of her words.

Emma's face contracts into a grimace of spontaneous terror.

"You're really an Evil Queen." She whispers with a shudder. "Anyway, that won’t happen for now. I want to enjoy this just with you before giving explanations."

"That’s an interesting way to say you're a coward..." Regina croons, daring her and earning an annoyed look. But she won’t be intimidated. "You’re afraid they’ll kill you, huh?"

"Terrified." Her bluntness unleashes a new round of laughter from the brunette. "The only advantage is that if I get to talk to them, you get to talk to Henry."

Now it’s Regina who looks panicked. "What? No! They’re YOUR parents, but he’s OUR son."

"Who’s the coward now?" Emma playful jokes.

"I'm not a coward, I’m making sense."

"Now, now..." She mumbles without giving her any credit but a slight and fleeting kiss, as sweet as smooth.

Regina steps away to meet her eyes and asks softly, almost afraid of her answer: "Is this crazy?"

"This?" Emma repeats lifting the sheet to see their nakedness intertwined in almost perfectly. She blatantly looks at the body entangled with hers and only stops when she hears Regina’s laughter.

"No." She answers, convinced. But her next words aren’t even meditated, they walk alone and parading, knowing that this is their time. The place, the time, the person they must be said to: "What’s crazy is falling in love with the Evil Queen. This ..." She strokes her bare waist " ...are the benefits of this madness."

Regina’s breathing stops. Everything stops, in fact. Maybe even her keystrokes. And Emma is suddenly invaded by a fear that sneaks to her bones. But she does nothing, she just waits. Still and silent as a tomb.

Suddenly, she thinks of her natural and spontaneous comment as the biggest mistake of her life, but doesn’t fully  regret it. A bitter pleasure.

Regina lies sideways, leaning on one arm. She looks into her eyes. "Repeat that.” It sounds as neutral as a blank page, without shades or tones.

Emma swallows deeply. So deep that all saliva from vanishes from her mouth, but she answers. She doesn’t know whether Regina’s command is good or bad, but she answers. And she does so in all sincerity, shedding part of her heart.

"I love you" Three words that flutter, slide through the air with a caper and hit Regina. They perch on the brunette and she allows them to soak her.

Emma takes air. Regina lies closer. And suddenly the Mayor's lips move against her ear, caressing the sensitive skin.

"Again."

"I..." Regina’s teeth bite her earlobe and she winces but keeps her composure. "... love you.I" Her ear is hot red, Regina’s lips are marking her neck and she has the slight feeling that the brunette hasn’t disliked her statement.

"Again..." She growls, her  voice taken  and reverberating against Emma’s jugular. She licks the base of her neck, smiling when she notice the bouncing pulsations and the vibrations in her voice:

"I love you." She wails almost with a squeal and Regina’s soft laughter tickles her saliva covered skin. The Mayor raise up to the Savior’s face, unaware of the gleam in her own eyes, of the fierce but captivating smile that dominating lips... of the effect she has on Emma. She caresses her face and whispers over her mouth:

"Say it."

Pupil against pupil, no room for nonsense, lies, doubts. Just the two of them. And although Emma’s neurons are tap-dancing to the rhythm of her hormones and her entire body is dancing in flames to Regina’s caresses, there’s not a single cell of her body that isn’t devoted to her with the answer:

"I love you, Regina." It's not his voice; it’s a more serious and excited version, but it’s her. It’s Emma, lying beneath her, adoring her with every look, saying she has feelings for her. She loves her. Her.

Regina kisses her out of impulse. Because there’s nothing that she wants to do more in this world. Because she feels that if she doesn’t, she’ll die. Because she wants to and she feels like it... She does it for so many reasons that Emma is overwhelmed by the most tender, meticulous and passionate kiss ever received. No rush, no demands. It’s slow, it’s devoted and at the same time demanding. It’s Regina’s pure essence turned into kiss and overflowing her senses.

She whines and abandons herself to it. And she thinks, before her brain shuts off completely, that’s very possible that her statement hasn’t upset Regina at all...

The brunette bites her lower lip, pulls it and sneaks her thigh between Emma’s legs. The kiss breaks with the blonde’s moan and Regina’s smile, who kisses and nibbles thoroughly her soft chin. Emma tries to calm down, to slow down her uncontrolled libido and not lose the last traces of lucidity. But Regina is willing to quite the opposite.

Her nails go down, preparing Emma’s body for the walking of her lips. There where she leaves soft scratches, her teeth leave marks and her lips soothe with the most sensual of kisses. Her neck, her breastbone, her breasts... all of them victims of Regina’s attentions.

Emma distinguishes, lost in the haze around her, how Regina's body is positioned between her legs and the brunette’s tongue walks her navel and shapies the muscles in her stomach. And her body breaks in two imagining that tongue a bit further down, deeper... But Regina has never come so far.

Not her, not with any other woman.

She's dying to feel her mouth caressing her so intimately, but she fears that she’s acting like this out of commitment, to reciprocate her, and not by her own desire.

Emma rescues her voice from the depths of her chest and pronounces in tremors. "Re... Regina, what are you doing?"

She doesn’t get away from Emma's stomach, her lips delineating the fine line of her belly and from that succulent position she raises her eyes with a mischievous smile. "I’m not really sure..." She smacks her lips and Emma doesn’t  lose detail of that tongue slowly walking the fleshy mouth. Regina smirks satisfied at the result and she draw a smooth and searing “s” that descends slowly toward Emma’s. "Trying?" She whispers, delighted, moving  downwards until she’s facing Emma’s legs. "Tasting you?" She pants, playing with words and running the inside of her thighs with lots of teeth and tongue.

Emma holds her breath and throws her head backwards. Her legs close on reflex but the Evil Queen’s hands surround them from beneath, forcing her to remain open before her. Regina’s breath resonates in her moisture, making delicious shudders fly over her center and on the opposite leg. The blonde is torn between asking her to stop or to go on forever..

But she tries to offer her a way out before surrendering to this irresistible fate. Her hands don’t even touch, in an attempt to control herselfl:

"You don’t have to do it, Regina, I don’t expect you to... Oh God, yes !!!"

Regina’s tongue crosses her center with a lick, the blonde’s hips jump rampaging into her mouth and the brunette holds them against the mattress, satisfied. Emma’s uncontrolled groan blushes her and swells Regina with pride-.

"So that's how an anti-Coras girlfriend tastes... Delicious."

Chocolate eyes look at her naughtily, buried in the center, framed between her legs, and Emma would swear that, if she doesn’t close her eyes, she could come just by looking at her. She wants to answer but her last drops of judgment are devoted to hold her screams, to avoid grabbing Regina’s head uncontrollably and to hold on for a little longer. The brunette caresses her labia with devotion and her muscles tense at the indescribable softness of that mouth. Regina’s hands are in charge to keep her legs apart and her tongue runs all over heat, licking the swollen folds and every corner around her clitoris. But without touching it.

She may be the first woman Regina is with, but she’s not the first person she tortures. And Emma is discovering how incredibly well she does that. She wants to melt in her mouth, she wants to scream her name and beg her not to stop. But this is something else, something that melts her beyond plain excitement.

It’s the intimacy of her touch. It’s  the way she moves over her. The way she rubs her hips and calms them at the same time she provokes to the limit every of her nerve endings... It’s her closed eyes and her way of eating her, as if she were the greatest of delicacies... That's what's taking Emma to the edge.

When the tip of her  tongue moves over Emma’s swollen and prepared bulk, she groans out of her wits and she doesn’t even hear herself. She has ears only for the sounds Regina makes when devouring her ever faster, more eager, more insatiable.

Until she stops. Emma whimpers, unable to believe she can torture her like this. That she has enough self-control to subjected her to such torment.

Self-control even to speak. "Did you hear that?"

"What?" Emma wails desperately, opening her eyes and looking between her legs "Me begging you not to stop?"

"No .. A noise like..." There’s no need to describe it. The sound of the front door closing is describes itself, resonates down the hall and reaches the bedroom. A door that before being close has had to open. They don’t  have time to continue the conversation before a non invited interlocutor  joins it. One that from the hall, is heard loudly.

"Mom?!"

Regina shakes from head to toe with a shiver and she whispers, terrified.  "Henry!" More due to the shock than because you Emma needs to be told who this is..

"No way, fuck!" Emma mumbles opening her eyes in sheer horror. The brunette rushes get off the bed, trying avoid panic dominating her. "I closed upon entering... Does he have keys?!" Emma mumbles hysterically collecting clothes all over the room.

"Of his own house?!" Regina asks, full of irony, listening to the footsteps of her son coming up and getting closer to the bedroom door. "Of course he does!" She draws her eyes back to the room and tries to fulminate Emma with a wry look. But she can’t. Because Emma isn’t there.. "Where the hell are you?"

And suddenly, Regina sees how her mattress seems to speak. "Hidden!" She exclaims under the bed, as if it were the most logical thing in the world. Henry steps in the house are becoming more audible and Emma has decided to play hide and seek.

"Under my bed? Get out of there!" She growls, ever lower..

"No, I'm hearing him coming closer..."

"If you don’t get out, I won’t be able to dress you!"

Panic has possessed Emma and nothing she says can make her see reason. "No..." She whispers, freaked out. "Besides, I'm half dressed."

Regina runs her fingers through black locks, mumbles a few words and a purple cloud covers her body. She moves her hands to dissipate the smoke and her figure appears covered by the clothes ripped off her by Emma moments before. She’s is torn between opening the door or not… and before she makes up her mind, the door itself opens after the sound of  two rapid blows against the wood.

"Mom, you're here." Henry exclaims, with bated breath and red in the face. The same aspect sported by Snow and James, who remain near the door behind the little boy.

Regina senses that something hits the ground and breaks into a thousand pieces and, if she isn’t wrong, that’s her self control. Emma is hidden under her bed. Henry at her door. And behind their son, his grandparents. Yes, definitely her self-control has escaped her and the only thing Regina can think of is fleeing this place. But, seeing this is not an option, she rests on the door with a calm that she doesn’t feel and asks in her best casual tone.

"What are you doing here? Has anything happened?" And she fears the answer is Emma, that in some damn way, they have found that they are together and have come to stop it. It's crazy, but it's the first thing that comes to her mind and her mouth gets dry.

"I was calling you, didn’t you hear me?"

"Sorry, honey. I came back to crawl into bed and was a bit asleep ... What brings you here?” She drops the question with a serenity that collides with Emma’s crazy pulsations. She can’t see anything from down here but it looks like Regina’s addressing to several people... People!! Henry is here in the same room as them, and he’s not alone.

"It's the town, Mom. Something’s happening in Storybrooke! Haven’t you noticed? "

"No, what do you mean?" She asks, looking at the two adults, assuming that with that degree of nervousness, Henry’s not the best person to explain things.

"There’s no time Regina, we'll tell you in the way to City Hall, everyone’s heading there." Snow! That's Snow! Emma closes her eyes as if this could make her hideout more effective and she even holds her breath. Her mother continues to speak: "And Emma? Wasn’t he with you? "

"She was a few minutes ago." Regina answers quickly. rAnd Emma, from her dark narrow hideout thinks that she was really gone, she would be feeling more relaxed and less hysterical.

"Her car is out there" A voice that Emma recognizes as James’s.

"She probably wanted to walk and think..." Regina offers, feigning indifference.

"Well, she has chosen a great day for that..." James mutters, concerned. "I'll try to locate her on the phone, meanwhile you can fill Regina in."

The prince steps away from the door, waiting for the signal while Henry, still panting because of the small marathon he has done up to the bedroom, takes the word. But he speaks so rushily, so nervously, that she can hardly understand what he says: "It’s Storybrooke, the forest, the ground ... The town is going crazy."

"What do you m...?"

Regina doesn’t finish her question. An inopportune "Ti-ti-ri-ti-riiii, ti-ti-ti-ri-riiii" resonates in the room. Under the bed.

James looks at his own phone, separating it from his ear, and looks at it again. Snow tries to connect the dots. Henry shuts up. And the brunette sighs and rubs the bridge of her nose with resignation.

"What have you done to Emma?!" James throws the cry against Regina and immediately throws himself against her. The Mayor, unmoving, expects him with a position ready for the attack.

"James, stop!"

Snow gives a high-pitched squeal when a blond head appears under the bed and the prince leaps backward. He look carefully at that apparition and squints, uncomprehending. "Emma?"

To be continued…

Chapter Text

He twists his face. His jaw drops to the floor. He opens his eyes. Very much. But the image in front of him still doesn’t make sense. No, it doesn’t. It’s Emma. Under the Regina’s bed. Crawling in getting out of it. Snow’s neurons can’t spin a single reason why her daughter might ber there. Or maybe they can, but they don’t want .to..

"Sorry for the shock." These are Emma’s first words, who shakes her pants as if she were taking dust out of them, dust that, of course, doesn’t exist. And Snow’s neurons, inside her head, stretch the index finger and move it, denying again and again. They don’t want to analyze the situation.

But David has already done it for her.

"Tell me my daughter didn’t just appear from under the bed!" The cry, almost accusatory, is aimed at Snow.

And her wife’s dark eyes answer him with a blank expression bordering on shock. "David ..." She coughs, glancing at Henry. But the prince is out of his wits. He alternately observes Snow, who remains beside him, his grandson, who studies his mothers raising an eyebrow, and the two women, mortified even if they’re showing a very dignified composure.

Emma doesn’t leave her eyes still, but she tires to sound concerned and serene: "What’s happening?"

"That I wonder..." whispers Snow.

"Tell me my daughter didn’t just appear from under the bed!"

"David!" Emma and Snow growls  at the same time.

Regina’s scratching her forehead awkwardly, out of place, almost more nervous than the Savior. "Clearly there’s an emergency going on, so we should postpone this conversation..."

Emma nods, convinced of the pertinence of those wise words. Postpone. Yes. It seems perfect. "Yes, can we talk about what you came to tell us instead?"

"Postpone?" David roars, eyes seeking her daughter’s, who refuses to face him and confirm his most feared suspicions. It's an old story: Only someone who was on the bed ends hiding under it. "No, no, no ..." Snow's hand stands on his shoulder and his wife’s reproachful gaze manages to shut him up.

Emma is unable to look at her mother, but her mother also fails to look at her, so they are on par when Snow addresses her: "It’s the town.. The road has disappeared suddenly in some sections, the grass has begun to cover the sidewalks, Granny's house has moved several yards into the most area and the forest is changing..."

Emma answers thoughtfully and, for a moment, fear overcomes shame: "You mean like with the trigger?"

"But have you seen where she just got out from?!" David rebukes suddenly. Emma gives a small jump and Snow fulminates him with her eyes. She knows exactly where her daughter has got out from. She's trying to keep it out of her mind for a split second, but if her husband doesn’t stop squealing about it, she won’t succeed. "Tell me she didn’t, tell me she didn’t..."

She tries to ignore him and answers her daughter’s question. "It seems so..."

Emma’s going to reaply but a small thread of voice interrupts her. Henry has remained silent, watching, until now.

"Are you two together?"

No one speaks, no one breathes. But Henry, with his hands in his pockets wais for an answer, and Regina feels it very hard to have the heart to tell her own too to postpone this conversation.

"Henry ... can we talk about that a little later?"

"But that’s it, right?" He insists, and Emma and Regina look at each other, overwhelmed. A gesture that provides confirmation to the little boy. "That explains everything!"

Regina frowns at the sudden change in her son’s mood. "What do you mean?"

"The town is not getting destroyed, it’s becoming the Enchanted Forest. Everything’s getting back to its place. "

"I’m not following you..." mutters Emma and almost a spokeswoman for the general strangeness.

"You broke the curse but the characters of the stories have remained trapped here because didn’t undo it." He sums up, as if it clarified everything. But he huffs and keeps talking when no one seems to follow his reasoning. "You just broke it but the only way to free them and go back home is to fulfill the purpose for which the curse was used."

Snow whispers unawarely.  "And that was...?"

"Having my happy ending." Regina answers, impassive.

"And that's Emma!" Henry ends, gleefully. David snorts, clutching his nose and Snows tries to breathe deep. Enough to not see how Regina holds air and Emma blushes awkwardly. "What were you doing when we got here?"

"Henry!!" Emma and Snow cry at the same time while watching the boy intently.

"I mean besides 'that'! God, I don’t want to be an adult ever..." he snorts uncomfortable. "And well?"

It doesn’t sound like a simple question, it sounds like an interrogation, at least for Emma. Emma, whose heart beats against her ears, floods her cheeks as a blushing and makes her wonder if there’d be a more embarrassing situation in this world. She guesses, well, better put, she knows exactly what they were doing besides “that”. And Henry waits for her to answer. What kind of sick joke is fate playing with her?

"We were talking..." She mutters, softly, as if it were easier like that. Henry looks at her frowning, expecting more. Emma coughs and thinks he’s a damn smartass brat who knows too much, but she can’t deny anything to those two small, sharp eyes. She swallows saliva, fears and pride and adds: "I was talking about how I feel about Regina."

The words of denial mumbled by David sound like a buzz and Snow merely crosses her arms and makes a noise that sounds like "hmmm...". Emma just thinks about turning to Regina, sinking into their eyes and getting everything back to be so unruffled and perfect as a few happy minutes ago. But she doesn’t dare to look for the Mayor and make his father finally collapse. Instead, she turns to Henry.

"But kid, I don’t think..."

"That's the key, love. That's the happy ending that ends the curse!" Henry says, turning excited to all of them. The pieces fit together and he doesn’t understand why the others are not as excited as him.

"Honey, then why are we still here?" Snow tries to calm him stroking his hair.

"You don’t believe me, do you?" He asks squinting and evaluating the other three adults in the room. "None of you?" He Insists watching their mothers and crossing his arms. "Well, what's going on then?"

"We've been playing with a lot of magic to travel between worlds... It can be many things, Henry." Snow sighs, with her more pious smile. “That’s why we have to talk to everyone and find out what's going on." She readdresses the conversation to the subject that has led them to irrupt in that bedroom and.... And she puts a halt to her thoughts. That far, she repeats with a long and patient blink.

"I know I'm right..." Henry sighs. "Aren’t you?" And this time he looks just at Emma and Regina. As if they had to be as convinced as he is. The Sheriff sighs and doesn’t know what to say. Regina but, on the contrary, answers. And she doesn’t know if her are a product of the love she feels for her child or if he has actually managed to make her doubt.

"Well... I didn’t voice my feelings..."

She’s unaware of the second plane she’s been in until now. The Charmings have barely directed her a couple of looks, Emma, like herself, seems to be only capable of looking to the front and the only one who has spoken to her is Henry. But her response becomes the undisputed center of attention.

"What do you mean?" Snow challenges.

"Well, exactly that..." Regina crosses her arms and wrinks her lips defensively. Have I not spoken clearly enough? But it’s her anxiety and not her pride those what makes her do so. "I mean... I haven’t spoken out loud." David melts in the most indignant and furious snort he has ever exhaled. His mind scampers over thousand of possible images about what the Evil Queen might have been doing with her daughter that prevented her to use her mouth to speak. Snow blushes, Emma just follows the thread of her thoughts, and Regina is quick to clarify, with palpable discomfort. "I haven’t talked about that subject in particular." She tries to explain, although she’s not sure she’s fixed things.

Something inside Emma's head sparks and she understand why David is looking at Regina with even worse eyes. The color on her cheeks becomes a flattering fire red mixed with a watermelon tone. And she’s still whimpering quietly and wondering if there might be a more embarrassing situation than this one. Suddenly everything is real, everything is public domain and she doesn’t even know how to react. But she reflects on Regina’s words. The Mayor hasn’t told her she loves he back, that’s true. Although, curiously enough, she’s not worried. Anxious, mayb... but not worried. And yet... does she believe Henry? Might she have been the cause to spark a counter spell to shake the foundations of an entire town when she opened up to Regina?

She feels bad for not not trusting him blindly, but logic tells her this theory doesn’t make sense. “We have to study all the possibilities, this is a very serious matter.”

“You still won’t believe me?"

"Henry, I believe in you". Despite the affection in her voice, it's like saying nothing. "But we should go to City Hall and consult Rumpelstiltskin and fairies. Perhaps they already have some suspicion."

"Okay..." Henry grumbles, turning around, pawing the ground with meekness and directing his steps toward the door. Regina clears her throat uncomfortably, capturing the attention of the room once again.

"May I have a moment with Henry?" She oozes politeness, she even sounds disconcertingly docile, but despite her attempts, her pose betrays the inflexibility with which she poses the question.

David twists his nose, his disgust undisguised, but Snow has already nodded for the two of them and drags him out of the room. His gaze crosses for just an embarrassing second with Emma’s and the blonde mumbles almost against her collar: "I think I should also stay." The brunette, despite everything, quietly approves her idea and tries to smile politely.

David’s growls break this mother-to-daughter moment and Snow finally pulls him harder towards the exit.

Regina’s hands takes of Henry’s gently and she sits on the mattress, levering up to her child. His small eyes reply with a spark of curiosity and no reproach, but her chest is still gripped by a mixture of anxiety and some commotion.

"Henry, is this okay for you?" The serenity of herr question counteracts the feeling of stupidity walking her mind. What’s that he has to be okay with, exactly? Her son and the Charmings have  irrupt in her bedroom before they could detail anything. What are they? What’s  Emma for her? What does she feel ..? Dizziness gets installed in her stomach when her head starts to spin. Symbolically.

"Of course!" Henry exclaims, Emma’s footsteps, who also sits on the mattress, at a safe distance from Regina. "She’s the Savior, she’s the one to undo the curse."

Regina swallows deep, somewhat annoyed. So that’s what their relationship is reduced to... their thing ... her "it" with Emma. A solution to the damn curse that the bad Evil Queen put years ago. It’s the first thing her child thinks about and, somehow, that removes her gut with a feeling she doesn’t like. That is not the perception she has, not the one she expects her son to have... But she regains her composure. She is an expert in it.

"Honey, that's very nice.," She smiles, contained. "But I need... We need to know that you're okay with this. Beyond the curse." Her request is as gentle and loving as herself and she holds no grudge..

"Just the three of us, forget about the magic and the world of fairy tales." Emma tries to clarify and leave out any possible misunderstanding. She needs this approval as much as much as Regina. "Is it okay that we're together?"

Henry keeps a second of silence. "What will happen with Neal?"

Emma takes air but Regina, as fast as the wind, answers first. "Nothing. He will never stop being your father, dear." Such is the speed with which she replies that her words show but raw directness and both the Savior and her son look at her with a ceremonious silence. "He will be a part of your life as much as you like."

Henry smiles, his face full of compliance and joy. And also a bit of a surprise, of course. His mother, the tyrannical and possessive Mayor, acting comprehensive and without a hint of selfishness. She’s is acting like the woman who was his mother and not like the Queen trapped in Storybrooke.

"I want you to be happy. That both what you are, you are my mothers "resume with a huge smile. "And I like that we will be a family" Henry's sigh echoed in the room before jumping into the neck of both, hugging them and bringing them together. Emma also sighs of relief and happiness. But frowns, studying the words of his son and digested. Suddenly he falls. You're right, that's what they are, right? A family. His body contracts at the sensation of vertigo. But, without breaking the embrace, her eyes meet those of Regina on Henry's back. Emma smiles and hugs him harder. His son has solved the mystery with the simplicity that only a child can possess. Yes, that's what they are. A family. And Emma could ever imagine better.

But the curiosity of Henry breaks the hug and Emma returns to earth.

"And when has happened? How has it been?"

"Boy, your grandparents are near the heart attack. I think we should not make them wait any longer ... "the blonde jokes standing up.

Henry frowns and no need to speak to reveal their displeasure. "But I shall count it?"

"All" he responds kissing the head of a Henry compliant. A few feet from her, Regina is set to turn up and Emma looking unconsciously his gaze. You can almost read as mocking brown eyes ask: "Is everything ... everything, sheriff?", And simply swallow deep as the three, together, walk toward the door.


 

The sun that was just a shy little light at nine o'clock has already taken strength and intensity and surprises Emma's pale eyes when she gets out to street. She winks a few times after opening the front door and exiting, followed by Henry. In the distance, parked in front of the door, her bug and her father’s van stand, but something is out of place. David remains in the car, ready to start it, while Snow stands, leaning against the door of the bug. And, even before getting into her car, Emma already knows what her nearest future has prepared for her.

"Where's Regina?" The dark haired woman asks.

"We have agreed that it would be more convenient if each of us arrived in their own car."

Snow nods, agreeing, and smiles sweetly at her grandson. "Henry, would you like to go with David?"

Henry, aware that this is a subtle way of asking him to vanish, doesn’t even reply. A small smile and he turns around towards the other vehicle. But not as fast as to prevent Emma from hearing him say in a low whisper:, "Good luck!".

And the blonde agrees. She will need it.

Snow and Emma get into the car in strict silence and not a sound is heard until the engine starts and fills the awkward moment. When Regina's garage car gives way to the Mayor, all follow the vehicle as in a parade, with the yellow bug closing the procession.

"You know that if you hit me while driving you can get  us killed, right?"

"That's why I'm here and not your father." The severity in Snow’s voice stops Emma’s response, who just swallows. "Regina?"

A simple question, but it says it all. Emma turns, mortified, and looks at her barely two seconds before returning to lay their eyes on the road. But she says nothing. What could she say?

"Was it the first time you...?"

"No."

And as an answer, la ong sigh. Almost a cyclone for Emma's ears. "Regina" Snow snorts. "For how long...?"

"Since we were on the boat... few days after we got there." She can answer questions, that much she can do. She can’t imagine how much Snow is willing to ask or expects to hear, but for now Emma is okay with thiis dynamic. Snow asks, she blushes and answers, but at least she saves having to think beyond the issues that are being posed to her. Snow rubs her forehead and Emma watches her reaction. "I thought you'd take it much worse..."

"If there haven’t been a bloodbath yet it’s possibly because I still don’t believe this." And such is the coldness with which she speaks that Emma swallows deeply and remains conveniently silent. She simply turns at the roundabout and doesn’t lose sight of the other two cars. "Regina?" Snow insists, getting back to her irritated state..

"Do you think I expected that or even planned it?"

"I don’t know. I remind you that until we’ve caught you  in Regina's room I knew nothing "

Emma rolls her eyes trying to stockpile reserves of serenity and patience. "I understand that you think this is crazy, it is." She answers, giving in. "But I also know that this is not something temporary and, of course, it’i not new ..."

"For how long have you...?" Although she doesn’t finish the question, they both know that it ends with a"... thinking about her?" and again Emma looks at her mortified. "I won’t like that, right?"

"Let's leave it at 'for a very long time'."

"And .. are you in love?" Se struggles to finish such a question, but Emma doesn’t struggle with the answer.

"To the very bones…"

Snow shakes her head looking nowhere and clutching her nose, she snorts: "Regina ..."

"Mom!"

"What? Are you aware of what you're asking from me, Emma? The Evil Queen devoted her life to destroy mine, killing, destroying and condemning all in her way. And you expect that in ten minutes I will assume and understand that my daughter and my stepmother like playing doctors? Really?” This is the exact reaction Emma... Her mother’s  fierness coming to light gradually in all its glory. But she can’t blame her at all. Replying to his question in silence, yes, she is aware of the magnitude of what she is asking, and she can just hope that she will understand... someday.

The car takes a street, just a few blocks away from City Hall, and Snow, oblivious to herself, rocks with the curve. "Why didn’t you tell me?" She asks with a touch of indignation. Emma dares looking at her raising both eyebrows and Snow answers herself. "I know, I know, in case I killed you..."

"In part, yes. But it's more complicated than that... "

"What do you mean?"

"I had to fix things. Speak and get things clear between us before we decided to give explanations... "

"And have you done that?"

"Yes."

"And how did that go?" She inquires, almost in fear.

"Very... very well." The sigh that empties her lungs this time is full of sweetness and leaves a smirk on its way through the lips. Emma recognizes the buildings around her, they are in the countdown to reach the landmark building.

"Are you sure?" Snow insists with some anger in her voice that gets mixed with genuine motherly concern. "I know it seems she has changed, Emma, but it’s not the first time she wastes a chance..."

"I doesn’t seem she has changed. She has." She replies flatly. "Remember the trip to Neverland and tell me one thing that the Evil Queen you knew would have done."

"Mess with my daughter..." She blurts.

"Mom!" Emma growls as a warning and Snow raises her hands in peace, but her twisted mouth indicates otherwise. "She saved us all, she fought for us and risked her life without a second thought. She’s another woman. This is Regina. Not the Evil Queen. "

Snow closes her eyes for a second and tries to accept her daughter’s word, while the City Hall appears a few yards away. She repeats over and over again that one should never lose hope and want to believe that Emma does well to keep her faith in with Regina. Although wrapping her mind around the is incredibly hard. Forgiving and forgetting is one thing. She can forget and forgive if Regina is away, at her own home or castle or whatever. But this isn’t just forgetting. This is closing a million injuries, forgetting each stab and accepting  that Regina isn’t the Evil Queen anymore but the her daughter’s queen. She shivers and not precisely of happiness. She has just one thing clear in the midst of this absurd nightmare that is now her life:

"You'll get tired of defending her… You know that, right?"

"I guess." Emma murmurs quietly, before staring at her mother's eyes and turn off the engine of her just parked car. "But I don’t care. More like, I’m wishing for it."

There, without having to pay attention to the road and with her hands off the steering wheel, Emma directs her the most firm and sincere gaze of the trip. Snow comes face to face with the exact image of David and herself. Emma looks like them more than ever and, even if it’s hard, she has admit that her eyes shine like the two of them. With the spark of true love.

Her daughter has found something as wonderful as her soulmate. But fate has decided that Regina is that person. And as a mother she can’t help but suffering and smiling equally.

"You really love her, huh?"

"Like I never loved anyone." She speaks so blatantly that Snow doesn’t even bother to ask about Neal. Her daughter’s sure and sparkling stare is enough response.

She closes her hand and swats Emma’s forearm strongly. The unexpected and painful blow hits her and she has no time but to scream. "Auch! And this, what for? "

"For making out with my archenemy, lying me about it and falling in love with her. Be grateful that you weren’t driving, at least." She growls, leaving behind the last traces of her anger. And even though her arm is almost asleep with pain, Emma can’t help but smile. She knows Snow, this is her way of venting and at the same time giving her resigned nod to her relationship with Regina. "But this conversation isn’t over, understood?"

"Understood." She smiles and, with her arm still groggy, she surrounds brunette and embraces her fondly. Snow snarls against her hair, but is carried away to wring her daughter tightly.

"Come on, let's find out what’s with Storybrooke now..." She offers, coming apart from her daughter with half a smile. A grimace cloaking the contrasting feelings stirring inside her, bouncing and fighting with no obvious victor...

 

To be continued…

Chapter Text

Henry stands quietly. He notices the weight of Emma’s arm arm over his shoulders, and the Savior, behind him, remains as silent as her son. But unlike the pre-teen, her eyes don’t look at David, who speaks to the whole crowd at City Hall. No. Her eyes, with a lousy disguise, escape sideways to Regina. David's voice gets lost and becomes a musical background. All that matters for Emma is to find out what goes through Regina’s mind, who observes the monarch’s speech without even blinking and, of course, without giving her a single glance.

The Mayor is fully aware of her eyes, of course she is. Each time they land on her, they burn her brown skin. But she doesn’t give in to temptation, she doesn’t flinch nor does she seek Emma’s eyes amongst the crowd that has filled the auditorium. Even though she’s dying for it. And she doesn’t because it’s not just Emma who looks at her sideways. Another pair of eyes pierces her intermittently but increasingly. Snow’s. And unlike his daughter, the lashes she addresses to Regina with every glance don’t seem friendly at all.

But, can she blame her? She has just discovered that her idolized and newly recovered daughter is in love with the same woman who snatched her for twenty-eight years. And that's without going into detail about the other evils she has caused. So no. Not to blame. And neither does she turn to look at Emma, Snow’s beloved daughter, for fear that the brunette jumps in the middle of the crowded room screaming "Death to the witch!!!".

But Snow's head goes in another direction. Her husband is facing all the people, calming things down and making an effort so that general hysteria doesn’t dominate their neighbors. But she has been sidelined, secluded and thoughtful, leaving him to be charge. David is doing well enough and she’s too confused and angry to collaborate.

How couldn’t she be? The strange thing is that she’s not angry and furious. Her daughter has lied to her, has appeared from under Regina’s bed after being under her quilt and now they are in love. How is she supposed to not be angry? But while David is still talking, Snow catchs Emma’s indiscreet blue eyes fixed on Regina. She looks at her like holding her, like pulling and claiming her... but above all melting like a teenager with a crush. And she swear that the cold, indifferent and impassive Mayor trembles at that look even though she doesn’t turn around, and she tries to hold a sigh.

Regina’s reaction gets on her nerves, but the gleam in her daughter’s demands her full attention. She feels unable to be angry at something that is able to illuminate Emma’s face like that.

Snow takes a deep breath and admits that maybe, just maybe, fate is laughing at her but also giving her a gift. To recover the woman who saved her many years ago. Even though getting it entails to accept and tolerate something like that...

She tries to return to her husband’s words before her head explodes and floods all present with her shocked brain. With such a macabre image in mind, she turns her look to David and tries to relax. Her husband, with the patience of a saint, is devoted to maintain order and to calm the crowd.

"All entrances the to the mine have opened alone!" Doc says.

"And the courtyard of the convent has become a garden with stone tiles!" The Blue Fairy interrupts haphazardly.

"And my diner has appeared this morning at the edge of the forest!"

"And the docks? Isn’t anyone saying anything about the docks?!" Hooks asks, scared. The quiet and brand new pier has given way to a mix of an old harbor and a modern half built dock. "Where will I put my boat?"

"Calm! We aren’t going anywhere like this!" David’s roar has a kind of regal touch that imposes silence in the room and allows for a second of serenity. "Everyone will have a chance to speak, but giving in yo panic leads nowhere." He snorts, tired. "Much better. Now we’ll listen to those you have suffered damage. I don’t mean shifts or changes in color or material of the walls in your houses. I speak of those who have seen cracks in the ground, or giant plants swallowing buildings or cliffs appearing under their cars."

Absolute silence. The whole room exchanges looks seeking the first to come out with a story of terror and destruction. But no one takes the word.

"Anyone?"

"Well, the pier has touched my boat. There’s a scratch on the bow!" Hook raises his voice in indignation until David's eyes roll towards him with a dangerous gesture. "But it's small ... you can barely see it..."

"So no one has a damage report?" The question ignores Hook’s  words and conveys a calm that fills the room completely "It’s normal to be frightened, Storybrooke was close to disappearing not long ago. But I'm sure that this time there’s no risk for us."

Dr. Whale crosses his arms on one side of the room. "What happens then?"

"That's what we must try to find out." David growls through clenched teeth. "Any ideas?" He answers, directly addressing the doctor. But he just shuts up and waits for the monarch to forget about his existence. "For now we should wait and analyze the situation. Do you think you could give us a few minutes to analyze what happened and think about the steps to take?"

The approval from the town comes in the form of a murmur and is ratified when some of the people begin to leave the council and others gather in small groups to discuss eagerly what each of them has seen. David sighes with some relief and leaves his place on the stage to go back to his family back and nodding to Regina. The brunette understands the gesture and gets close to the Charmings.

Snow is the first to speak: "Where do we start?"

"Rumpel? He created the curse." Regina's response is concise and terse, but nothing else is needed. David accepts the proposal and nods.

"Wait for me in the office, I’ll look for him."

"Let me go seek him." Emma’s soft voice sneaks into the conversation while releasing Henry. "Neal won’t be far from his father and... I would like to talk to him before..." She doesn’t finish the sentence, but she doesn’t need to to make everyone look at the floor undeniably disturbed. Except Henry, who smiles oblivious to everything, and Regina, who uses her neutral gesture. "…that."

"Yes, yes, see you later…" Snow coughs awkwardly, allowing for Emma to turn around and walk away from them. A split second before going opposite ways, Mayor and Savior exchange a fleeting look. Enough for Regina’s pulsations to go crazy. Enough for Emma to read in brown eyes that there’s not a single drop of reproach. Only recognition... and a touch of desire. She licks her own lips remembering the last kiss they have shared and she finds it so insultingly far away that she only wants to stop her steps and get lost in her mouth.

But she can’t. She recovers her composure, forgets about the incipient heat that fills her stomach and looks for Mr. Gold’s cane amongst the people who are now dispersing. She locates him waiting, along with Neal, and Rumpelstiltskin’s pose tells Emma that he was expecting to be claimed.

"The others are in the office, shall we?"

"Of course dear. After you"

"I ... would like a word with you." She adds, looking at Neal intermittently.

"I’ll leave you alone." The old man sighs, walking towards the more than known Mayor’s office.

Neal looks around, their surroundings somewhat less crowded but still overrun with people and prying eyes. "Here?"

"Better not..." She flicks her tongue watching the occasional nosy neighbor and follows Gold but keeping her distance. When the former Dark One disappears behind the office door, they both remain outside in a tense and polite silence.

"You’d say..." Neal tries to sound polite while dancing on his heels trying to appear normal.

"How are you?" She hates to be tentative, but it’s hard to begin.

"Emma .." The battered man sighs. "If this is about Regina, we both can save us the discomfort of..."

"What?!"

"Is that not what you wanted to talk about? Regina?"

Emma swallows, dragging saliva and words. "We both can save us the discomfort..." She repeats on the run.

"That’s what I thought" He rubs his hands compulsively and tries to at her directly in the eyes to show her that all is well. But it isn’t. His entrails haven’t stopped squirming, his eyes sting, not to say that he hasn’t stopped crying throughout the morning; and seeing Regina awakens hatred in him. A new kind of hatred, different to anything he has ever felt for anyone. One specially designed for the woman who has takes away what he believed was his destiny: Emma.

But he doesn’t put enough effort or his hatred is greater than his willingless, because Emma reads it. Pupil to pupil. She has hurt him and feels terrible for him. But she knows what she wants and that’s encased in the body of an ironic and defiant Mayor.

"Shall we go with the others ...?" She offers, ignoring that angry gleam in Neal’s brown eyes. He lowers his head quite guiltily and willing to follow her footsteps, but Emma doesn’t move. "One thing... how...?"

The saying "curiosity killed the cat" echoes in her head, but her desire to solve the mystery is greater.

"It was obvious. I just had to connect the dots..." He summarizes, scratching his neck while Emma nods accepting his answer. "Although it would have been quicker to notice how you look at each other, really..." The Savior’s cheeks turn violently red ient and admits today her fate is experiencing embarrassing moment after embarrassing moment.

She hasn’t even got back to her natural color when the sound of the door is Heard at her back. Regina, peeking behind the door, is watching them impasive and arrogant.

"We are waiting for. Only you are missing." She demands with a neutral voice that demands more than a hundred screams. Neal breathes so strongly that it seems he’s going  wheeze like a bull any time soon and Emma intercedes with her best conciliatory pose. Maybe even too conciliatory when she looks at Regina and finds that tender pout on her pursed lips.

"We're coming, Regina." The blonde smiles.

"What are you? Her pet?" Neal growls, but resigned to settle this conversation at Regina’s command. Emma opens her mouth, she doesn’t wants blood to be spilled, so she wants the nerves calmed before a meeting expected to be tense. But Regina answers first ahead:

"I don’t know, you know her best..." She mutters politely before looking directly at Emma "Why is he saying that, Miss Swan? Do you like straps?"

Neal squeezes his jaw, pissed off, accepting Regina’s victory and not just for her blunt and scathing reply. Emma is the red up to her neck, and the chill running through his body  tells him  that there’s no business for him here. That her has nothing to do.

"Come on." Emma settles,  trying to sound authoritative and indifferent, but her voice is two octaves lower and her eyes don’t lose touch with Regina’s until the three of them get inside the room. Nothing to do, indeed. He thinks, his eyes stinging again.

 

 

David leads the impromptu meeting leaning casually on Regina’s desk. And the fortuitous gesture hasn’t been wasted for Rumpelstiltskin. It’s possible that the monarch isn’t doing i ton purpose, but it seems like a proper provocation to the proud Mayor. And while the brunette is back followed by Emma and Neal, he waits with certain morbid curiosity for Regina’s reaction. But there’s no reaction. It may even that Regina doesn’t even notice David. She only has eyes for Emma. Even if she tries to convey it, her Brown eyes follow every movement of the blond and they relax when she joins the group a couple of yards from away. Indeed, not a word about the place of honor that David has taken for himself. That's not the Regina Rumpelstiltskin knows...

"Any theory about what might be going on?" He throws the question to the air, leaning hard on his cane and with no purpose to suggest any.

"We were hoping you could tell us." Snow recognizes, rubbing his nose. "Was there anything in the curse you created that migt cause this reaction?"

"No. Nothing I remember, at least..." He goes over the information he hasall your memories, but nothing comes to mind. "And the one who put it? Any theory? "

"No suspects, no suspicions...." Regina summarizes, resigned but with her stare lost. A gesture Emma catches easily.

"But...?" She asks, turning her face to her. Regina wonders whether she’s that predictable or whether Emma has an extraordinary ability to read her.

"It may be crazy..." She warns, squaring her shoulders. "... but we may have dragged some magic with our trip. I think Storybrooke is coming back to its essence."

"What do you mean?" Snow is just a confused sigh.

"That the veil of the curse has lost strength and is allowing the town to show their true nature."

"How is that possible?"

"We’ve been in Neverland, the source of all magic and maybe our little visit has brought some of the power that emanates from that land." She details, crossing her arms. "Storybrooke is but the other side of the coin of the Enchanted Forest, so perhaps it’s not immune..."

"Like a 'magical pollution'?" Neal summs up, raising an eyebrow. "It makes sense." And everyone nods. Everyone but Henry. The boy looks at them with a wrinkled nose and a twisted gesture. This reaffirms their theory that adults are blind. No, not blind, dumb. And very stubborn.

"No, it doesn’t!" He grumbles over the sounds of approval. "Greg and Tamara had already been in Neverland and never caused this."

"They didn’t travel with a whole ship, Henry." Neal insists.

Henry rolls his eyes and tries to avoid to give him a look of disgust. He doesn’t stand that condescending tone, the one where they say to him "you're just a kid" but where they forget he opened their eyes when nobody believed in his fairy tales.

"But that doesn’t explain why it has begun today and not yesterday, or why it goes slowly and has stopped suddenly, right?"

"Henry..." Now it’s Emma who pronounces his name with that tinkle.

"What? My theory is much more logical! "

Gold stops spinning his cane and moves his face towards Henry, with interest: "What is your theory?"

The boy appreciates how Rumpelstiltskin listens to him. As an equal. Only him takes him seriously.

"It's about my mothers and their relationship." He answers, convinced. At the command of his words, Regina snorts and hides her face with one hand and Emma fixes her gaze on Rumpelstiltskin and blushes. For the eighteenth time in just a few hours.

"It’s okay, he ... he knows too." Neal clears his throat, lowering a few tenths the Sheriff’s level of discomfort.

But Henry knows no shame nor protocols and goes on: "My Mom’s happy ending is being fulfilled, that’s why the world created by the curse is weakening."

"Why not completely?" He raises curiously.

"Because the story is not over, it will be incomplete until my mother also admits her feelings for Emma." Father and son, Neal and Gold, look at him puzzled. "She has already done her part, she’s the Savior and has begun to break the curse by admitting she loves the Queen. When Regina tells her, we’ll be back to the Enchanted Forest. "

Henry's confidence is such that his words sound like a verdict. They even keep saved a few seconds of solemn silence. Regina leaves from behind her hand, Emma keeps her composure as a human red light, and the others look at different points of the ground.

"Your theory is, at least, quaint." Rumpelstiltskin lets out a cough and plays with his cane toying with an idea "And have you tested that?"

"How?" Regina snorts. She doesn’t understand what he means. Or maybe she does but she he refuses to.

"What do you mean, how? I don’t see much mystery there, dear."

"Well, then no. We haven’t tested that." She's blunt, direct and edgy. Very edgy.

"And what are you waiting for?"

David released a wry laugh and mutters: "For us to take this theory seriously?"

"Well I don’t understand why you don’t to test it." Rumpelstiltskin says. "It has a logical basis and Henry usually nails it with in his assumptions, shall I recall you that?"

Snow is who gets more affected by this response. "That's true..." She ignores Emma’s twisted mouth, which gives her a look between stunned and ridiculous, and keeps on. "We could try."

Regina tenses as an iron beam. But if she were made of metal heat running through your body would have already melted her. That SnowBlah and her absurd ideas. She bets she hasn’t even thought before speaking. She doesn’t know what she’s proposing. She can’t have been that idiotic, or unconscious or simply such a fucker tos ay that.

"What? Not!"

They all turn at once when they hear her roar and one by one they close their mouth. Including Regina. Emma is the one who has shouted and at the same time it’s they look at as if she had gone mad.

"Honey, wouldn’t you like to hear it?" Snow asks.

His face is a poem, but her expression changes. Surprise dissappears, irritation remains. They keep waiting for her reply. Even Regina has turned her whole body towards her, unaware, she’s just thinking about what Emma will say. She is dying to get into her head and unravel everything that must be racing through her right now. Say, little Charming, that's what you would like?

But Emma solves the situation sharply. And without the slightest "Charming" touch.

"Not like this."

"We can give you some privacy."

"What?" The timbre of her voice vibrates, almost dangerous.

"Yes," she insists David seconding his wife’s proposal. "We can turn around or even go outside."

Emma is a rainbow, though she isn’t exactly respecting the colors of the metheorological phenomenon. She turns from incredulous white to angry red to go back to a flesh color that reflects containment. And a lot of self control.

"No. This is not how things are going to work out this time." Two negations that she highlights with a dangerous intensity. They have entered into a wordy field, something only, ONLY, implies the Mayor and herself. No one else is invited to that territory, no one else is welcome to make decisions that include them in this way. She doesn’t do this for avoiding the bitter swill for Regina, or because of shame. This is something that belongs to them and it seems so obvious that the mere hint of invading something so private irrirates her ddeply. "I won’t let the magic condition my life as usual. No. This time things will be done my way. If you want to test if Henry’s right, you’ll have to wait."

She doesn’t admit any reply. So, when David talks, he does so mid volume: "How much?"

"Until we please."

"But what about the people of the Enchanted Forest? They are eager to go back."

"If anyone has such a hurry that they can’t hold back, they can take one of those beans and move their asses up there. But whoever wants to return with the whole town will have to wait." She growls, wanting to drop the subject. But a small cavil flies to mind. "That considering Henry is right, of course." She adds thoughtfully. "Now if no one comes up with a better idea, we will inspect the town and the forest. We must discover what has changed and what not. That may give us an idea about what happened."

But nobody moves a muscle to talk. It’s her appearance, that of a true heroine with a little temper, which has them all firm and silent. Except for Henry, who is full of pride, and Regina, who feels a certain guilty arousal. But not just because of her appearance of a hard and edgy girl. It’s also because Emma has defended her, she hasn’t tolerate even for a second the idea that they forced her to do something so intimate "for the common good". But mostly it’s because she thinks Emma is unaware of this. This is Emma’s instinctive way of acting about her and that's what Regina finds more endearing.

"Anything else to add?" Emma asks to the room in general. Snow shyly raises her hand and her daughter fulminates her with he reyes, assuming she won’t leave the subject.

But Snow says: "Red could lead exploration. She's the best tracker."

Emma appreciates the change of subject and accepts the white flag that her mother is wielding. "Good idea. Let's go out and organize the search parties."

 

Red’s wolfish nature is claiming her. She takes a deep breath and looks at the town hall square. She feels her roots, her land, getting closer. She can transform in Storybrooke too, of course. But it’s not herself. This forest is too small, suffocating, for her  full moon nights and the land she runs through doesn’t emanate that magical essence, that freedom that interweaves with the nature of the huge Enchanted Forest.

But her body is vibrating again. She feels, though still timidly, that supernatural power inherent to the forest of the fairy tales,  her home. And the wolf inhabiting inside her dances and spins impatient, anxious and inebriated. She can’t explain how, but they’re coming back home. She’s sure.

A hand touches her shoulder, her skin crawls at the contact and her senses immerse in contradictory feelings. The touch doesn’t pose any threat, her animal instinct tells her that it’s a friend. But her nose responds in disgust to a scent that displeases her. She turns around with her mouth twisted. Had she been in her wolf form, she would be showing her teeth.

"What's wrong?" Emma asks, taking her hand away from Red’s shoulder.

"Nothing, sorry..." Red recoils confused to meet face to face with Emma. Followed by the group formed by Snow, Charming, Rumpelstiltskin, Neal, Henry and Regina. "What happens?"

"We have decided to organize a raid in the woods. It may help us to solve the mystery of why this town has gone mad. ¿Would you take care?"

"Oh, yes!" She replies, excited, more a Ruby touch than she-wolf.

"Perfect, all yours." Emma squeezes her arm and as she approaches, that uncomfortable and hostile smell haunts her nose again. But she doesn’t change her gesture, she just tries to unravel the mystery. Emma leaves the group and goes to one of the benches in the square, immediately drawing the attention of almost the whole town. Those who don’t turn around when they see her, do so at the sound of her voice. "Listen to me, please! We need more information to know what’s happening, everyone who wants to volunteer to conduct a search in forest should talk to Ruby. When we know how many of us there’ll be, we’ll organize the parties and the areas for each group."

She hasn’t finished speaking when a vast majority of neighbors, almost all the adults and some teenagesr who will be kindly rejected, walk to Red. If the Savior supports the idea of tracking, it can’t be a dangerous mission and, although they won’t admit it, the whole town is dying to know more, find out if their home is really coming back to be their home.

The most rugged terrains are reserved for the bravest young people. The camping area is territory of the older volunteers and the lush wild for Red and the rest of the wolves. The dark haired woman assigns a small spot on the map to every one according to their abilities, so they can inspect each step in detail, looking for any kind of animal, plant, stone or part of the land that has changed or belongs to the Enchanted Forest. Excluding some exceptions like Rumpelstiltskin and Neal, volunteers set out to explore one by one. Red is sure that this way they will be able to go over half the forest before the afternoon and they can continue with the rest the next day.

Finally, she goes to the Charmings, Neal, Emma and Regina. Henry, reluctantly, has agreed to leave with Granny and other children to prepare food and supplies for the volunteers to their return. Father and son form a team due to Gold’s obstinacy and cane. He can’t move around the forest as easily as the rest, but he’s more stubborn than his own grandson and refuses to not cooperate. So they will visit and monitor the departure from the camping area.

"I will go along the western cliffs. Snow, you’ll be in charge of monotoring the eastern area at the edge of the town. And you, David, the southern area. You will find each other in the middle, right? Regina, you’ll monitor the northern area."

"The most lushy area?"

"Well, I understand you’re good at herbology,  all with the potions, poisons and whatnot."

"Thank you, Red, understood." She replies, slowly but firmly. The wolf clears her throat and turns to Emma.

"And you, blonde..." She doesn’t know what task to give her or how to explain that she hasn’t one for her.

"Okay, Red. I'm with Regina."

Red stands still and the Mayor fears that her only neuron will combust for mulling over Emma’s words. Thinking about subtle ways to insulting the she-wolf is the best way to suppress the smile that the Sheriff’s reply has caused. She doubt she could ever get used to that way of being thought of, to someone caring enough to appreciate her in such a sincere way. And of course, Snow and Charming’s decomposed faces are priceless.

"Emma, dear, there’s no need to go with her." Snow mutters uncomfortably." The raids will be conducted one by one but reinforcements will always be close by."

"I don’t  see logic in walking the forest looking for signs of a world in which I lived for just, what, ten minutes? I wouldn’t recognize a single root, Snow." She says unapologetic. "But I can be useful collecting the samples Regina finds."

"Is that why you want to go?" David's words are a challenge. He could as well have uttered them throwing a gauntlet the old way.

But Emma is not intimidated. She even adds a cheeky tone to her answer. "No. It's not just because of that."

Red, as Regina predicted , is still thinking about Emma and every new piece of conversation is another piece of a puzzle that she doesn’t  know how to fit. They are not arguing or shouting. From outside it’s an ordinary conversation, but it has a tense, uncomfortable background for everyone involved. With a double meaning that she’s not deciphering. And besides, she doesn’t understand any of Emma’s answers. It She appears to have taken a blow to the head and everyone else have this in mind and find it normal.

"If there’s nothing more, let’s go. We are the last ones. " Emma states.

"First I’d like to talk to you." Now it’s David’s command. Snow grabs his arm, trying to calm him down, but this is not what he needs. The calm will come when he talks to his daughter, and even more if he convinces her to change her mind.

"Okay, give us a minute." David is going to open his mouth but Emma, before leaving the rest, insists: “A minute will suffice, right?" And David capitulates, following his daughter a few yards away from where the three other women stand.

But although she’s gone, Emma’s smell is strong and persistent. The presence of Savior remains near the smell of the wolf, which Red doesn’t understand. Maybe her senses are altered, almost disturbed by the changes around them. But still, her animal instinct forces her to inquire, to understand why she smells Emma around her. She sniffs, almost without mutating the gesture, the last thing she wants is Regina and Snow asking her why she behaves like a dog.

Her skin crawls, her senses are sharpened and reading her nose’s verdict is that there are two tracks. Almost equally intense. And both are Emma’s, no doubt about that. One is lost after the Sheriff’s footsteps toward the rock in which she’s talking to David. The other isn’t. The other is within inches from her, intimately combined with a mild but aromatic perfume. One that startles her instinct. One belonging to the Queen.

And her mind head remembers how she reacted to the touch of Emma’s. How something confused her senses and warned of a non grata presence. Like the Queen’s.

"Wait!" And with a little jump, everything makes sense. "Now I get it... you two..." Red points intermittently to Emma and Regina, Snow is white as her name, and the Mayor snorts pretending to be fascinated by the inferential ability of the young woman.

"Oh, my!" She yells again. "You must be furious, right?" She asks thus unawarely and Snow's eyes are enough to stop her at that moment before her neck and head pay the consequences of that newfound romance. "Okay, I said nothing. Here goes your order of silence."

David’s problem is his temper, the same Emma has inherited. And when they collide, they don’t make a great combination. They are far enough away from the three women, so they don’t get the slightest scrap of conversation between them, but they have enough with their own.

"I don’t like the idea of you unprotected with Regina"

"I do not protection against her."

"That's what you think."

"No, that's what I know. Besides, I haven’t asked for your opinion and nor I need it."

"Yes, you do, cause you clearly don’t know where you’re getting into."

"And what’s that, according to you?" She crosses her arms and waits for an answer that never comes, so she dares to guess. “She attacking me, hurting me, turning me into an insect? She killing me?" Listed like this David must admit it sounds like a joke. "She has no reason to do that, to me or anybody else in this town, which she has already saved several times, remember?"

"She has also tried to destroy as many."

"Not this new Regina, and deep down you know it too." Emma takes air with patience and seeks to reduce the decibels she doesn’t remember raising. "This is not easy for you and I understand. I don’t expect you overjoyed with the idea when you have only found about it a few hours ago, but you have to trust me. I know what I’m doing."

"Nobody thinks they’re wrong before making a mistake." David grumbles as a small child without arguments. Emma berates his behavior with her eyes and his father regains some of his maturity. "Okay, but be careful." Blue eyes turn to rebuke him. "For me, please. Just stay alert and don’t let there be any magic, okay?"

"There’s no need for that, but okay." Emma grants, eager toend this conversation.

They walk respecting the silence after the conversation, and when they get to the rest of the group, Emma wonders why Ruby moves like she had to pee and look at her with bright, restless eyes.

"What?" She asks, uncomfortable, at the visual scrutiny of the wolf.

"She knows..." whispers Snow.

"Knows what?"

"Your.. Your thing." It’s hard to say it out loud and she clears his throat to cover it.

Emma opens her eyes and Regina adds, mockingly: "Yes, it is a step away from being published in the local newspaper." In the end, behind that distant and impassive appearance, the Mayor must admit that she finds this kinda funny. Maybe even a little... illusionating?

"Nah, that would require pictures accompanying the article and there are none, right?" Red says placidly. Snow and David’s faces darken and get angry enough to seem willing to bite her,, as if they were the wolves and not the other way around. She swallows deep: "Okay, okay. I'll shut up."

 

Regina was right. The northern area is the most lushy one, so is that that some parts are nearly dark even though they are close to mealtime. Emma doesn’t remember walking these paths before, if they can be considered as such, in any of her forays into the forest. But the Mayor walks before her with the assurance of someone that dominates the field. She doesn’t even hold the map Ruby provided for them. Only a few pages and a couple of pens that Emma found.

"Beware the branches." She warns, before setting aside a couple of them. These are the first words pronounced by Regina, but Emma says nothing more. She grabs those same branches and moves them to pass, waiting for the Mayor to continue talking, because she knows she will: "How were things with your father?"

The question is soft, polite and very average. But it means much more than it hides. She wants to ask whether he called her a demon or a bloody witch; if Emma listened to him; and, above all, if she believed him.

"Well, more or less..." She sighs resignedly. "He has given me a crucifix to protect myself against you."

Regina turns with wide eyes and suddenly she receives a sympathetic smile from Emma. She flicks, tongue offended by the Savior’s joke, but the answer sends her fears to sleep. She stops your steps and lets the blonde reach her.

"You're not funny."

"You're shaking with laughter inside."

"No." But it means yes. Emma smiles even more and Regina turns her face with a half resigned smile. It’s not just the blonde’s mocking humor, it’s also the way sge looks at her, the way she smiles at her, the way she makes her feel good. It is the first time they are alone since this crazy morning and she can feel how she’s transported to that bedroom, to the warm atmosphere of cozy familiarity that Emma’s presence causes. The certainty that this woman loves her, above all appearances, pasts, or other monsters that she keeps inside. Emma loves her and that’s all. She is enjoying the simple fact of being there, standing in front of her, and she’s happier than she has been in decades, even though it sounds terribly corny and cloying.

"Come here." There is no one who can listen, but Emma mutters, almost whispers. And Regina is lost in the Emma treats her, so smoothly, knowing she’s in danger of becoming an addict.

"What?"

"Come here." Emma insists and she does it even more softly. So, so delicate, that the Mayor can’t resist. One step and three-quarters separate her from Emma and she burns them obediently. She lets the blonde raise her hands to her cheeks and caress her. She allows Emma putting their foreheads together, unhurriedly. And, of course, she permits Emma's lips crashing against hers. Only when she wails placidly against the fleshy and kissable mouth she realizes how long she has been longing to do this. The last hours suddenly seem a world and this moment the apocalypse that ends the waiting. She nibbles Emma's lips with a delicious touch of possessiveness and they get slightly apart. Enough to speak, but tangling their two breaths.

"And what’s this for?"

"I thought we both needed it."

"Ha. Speak for yourself, Sheriff." This is Regina’s replica, before pulling Emma's neck and repeating the kiss more thoroughly, with more tongue and time. Blonde arms encircle her waist, she rubs her neck and caresses her back, and they willingly lose track of time. Regina hips sway towards Emma. The sheriff to sticks the Mayor against her torso until she feels their breaths, one against each other, growing and accelerating.

Oxygen, air are lacking, however, Regina’s sure that breathing is overrated. Emma’s tongue is ravaging her mouth and she moans with a guttural, indescribable and succulent sound, and the Mayor prefers to live of that kiss than of mere oxygen. His hand wanders happily over the line of skin between her pants and shirt. So soft, so warm... She juts above, outlines her stomach, runs her ribs. And notices her shiver. She scratches her back and all those caresses remunerate the kiss.

More saliva, more eagerness, less qualms about what they’re doing and where. Nothing else matters. This is how Emma reaches one of the largest trees and puts Regina against it hurriedly. They break the kiss, stumbled and with small relapses on the lips of the other, until they really manage to stop.

"I think this is not the exploration Ruby meant." Emma whispers, hearing herself breathe uncontrollably.

Regina's laughter vibrates against the saliva remaining on her lips. When brown eyes meet hers, the brunette looks several years younger, as if the misfortunes suffered for years faded, allowing her to be a little happier.

"Something tells me that, for the sake of your father's heart, the report should leave out this part of the exploration." She proposes, stroking with her thumb Emma’s tempting lower lip.

"Yes, I think this is not PG rated... or parent rated, for that matter." The blonde bites her finger with more hunger than care and notices Regina's eyes darkening. "Where were we?"

Regina's smile tilts playful and Emma stops seeing her when she approaches her ear. She licks her lobe and whispers. "We were at part where... either we do actual terrain exploration or your parents will vividly imagine how we spent this time..." Emma’s face of disgust says it all. "I see you're following..."

She caresses Emma’s cheek, enjoying the gesture of annoyance that in her looks adorable and escapes from her grip. She stop feeling the trunk against her back and Emma’s body against hers and, for a brief moment, she thinks they could at least hold hands ... What's wrong with me?

"Your command." Emma sighs.

"I know..." She responds, naughty and playing the limits of Emma’s resistance. Blue eyes are a warning sign, a "don’t go that way or I won’t stop," a "we are playing with fire and I just think about getting burnt". Regina draws strength from where there’s none and breathes deeply. She tells herself that there will be time for that. And much more... Her mind wanders paths she shouldn’t evoke and she clears her throat to try and clear her mind. "Let's keep going."

This time they walk side by side. They observe their surroundings and Emma sets eyes there where Regina’s stop for a little more than usual.

"There’s nothing weird to you?" The Mayor asks, examining some green moss. "Something you didn’t see when you camped as a girl or in your forays as Sheriff?"

"As Sheriff's I’ve seen more office that outsides, it’s not like you made a very lively Storybrooke..." She responds with an air of reproach.

"More crime for the next curse, I’ll write it down."

Emma lets out an amused laughter. "And, as a child, foster families didn’t last long and in the orphanage were not too prone to camping, so..."

More nostalgia floods Regina than Emma’s words. There’s no sadness or grief in her response, she speaks with the confidence of someone who he has already left all that behind. But the Mayor imagines a tiny Emma from house to house and tied to life in an orphanage. She swallows with difficulty and feels her heart compressed. Mentally she opens a list which she baptizes "Everything for what I have to compensate Emma", starting with point 1) having given her a shitty childhood.

Emma, oblivious to everything, also notes that moss with curiosity. "Is this an important clue?"

Regina raises an eyebrow, watching her with amusement. "A clue that in this forest moss grows, yes. This is nothing unusual, nor in our land neither here."

"Oh ..." She look once again the moss, now with new eyes, and feels a little silly. Sure, it's moss. That she can recognize. "I think I have so much to discover about the Enchanted Forest..."

The effort Regina makes to avoid looking at her with tenderness is palpable. "Look here." She asks, holding some leaves touching Emma's shoulder. "These are indeed from our world."

"Really?" They are of an unusual greenish color, but its shape is reminiscent of any oak. "What kind of properties do they have?"

"Several... For example, they smell like the lilacs of this world."

"Oh, yeah?" Delighted, she takes them to her nose. "Oh, god ... Regina!!" The only similarity with lilacs would be if they had been taken out of a sewer and rolled down a mountain of rotten eggs. And the worst is that, despite her pout, Regina’s smile is too beautiful to get upset as she should. "Yuck!" She tries to pull that smell off her nose and memory.

"I couldn’t resist, sorry." The shine in the blue eyes tells her that she’s not that angry and that she’s kinda amused. One facet that she adores in her. She has a good mood and is curious, almost childishly curious. Adorable... Regina, stop already!, her most severe and formal part scolds. But who wants to listen to that part when Emma is rubbing her nose with an upset face while she squints..." Despite their smell they are incredibly useful for potions and even as a seasoning in various tonics."

"That explains why most magical concoctions I've tried taste like shit..." The smell has disappeared and Emma decides to properly note the plant on paper and not get near it within inches never again. "What’s its name, is it very rare?"

"It's called mimbletonia and no, it really is not rare. It’s used for many things but is quite common in wetter forests..." She emphasizes, advancing a few yards to her right. "Just like this one... Alihotsy."

"Alihotsy..." Emma repeats as she writes it down. "Is it also for potions?" She asks, watching it from afar.

"You can get closer, this one doesn’t smell so bad..." Regina laughs without malice. "It’s also useful for some recipes, but mostly its uses a little ... darker," Emma's eyebrows get lost in her hairline . "It’s an ingredient for a potions, but it’s usually more useful to prepare mixed powders or for many spells. And none of them good, indeed."

Now Emma looks at the plant with more distrust than disgust and Regina observes her. The plant is not to blame for its use, something the blonde doesn’t seem to understand. It's just a plant, they have to worry about those using it, not about plant itself. And for a moment, he realizes how unprotected Emma will be in the Enchanted Forest. Attacks are attacks for everyone, but how will a "city girl" become used to life in the Enchanted Forest? The people of this world are familiar with magic, creatures of this world and the different regions. They know its characteristics, how to defend themselves and how to cohabitate with its particularities. But Emma... Emma is going to be a tourist in her own land with no more protection than a weapon and magic without training. A hostile where, in all likelihood, there are still beings as her own bloody mother.

The last few days must have unsettled something inside her. The damn Savior must have rearranged all her feelings or worse, brought them out of that locked drawer where she hid them, because her chest shrinks at the prospect of Emma in a new unprotected world and out of her element. Like Henry.

She tells herself that she will be there to protect them. Come what may. She doesn’t intend to allow anything harm them, and even less Cora, but she knows better than anyone that will isn’t enough. She needs more, much more. She closes her eyes. Just a moment. But it’s enough for Emma, aware of her at all times, she catches the gesture. When she opens her eyes, her chest is still cowering inside her ribs, but she keeps a little hope. Something that’s new too and that’s possibly connected to the Savior too.

"Regina, are you okay?" She gets closer, touching her face, raising her chin. She’s worried about the sudden change in the Mayor’s  gesture.

Brown eyes fulminate her before speaking. Whatever Regina says, Emma knows beforehand she won’t accept any objections. Even though her eyes also show a note of... fear?

"I'll teach you magic."

"You’ll do what, now...?" She asks, half opening her mouth. Uh-oh, David isn’t going to like this at all...

 

To be continued…

 

Chapter Text

"Magic, Emma." She answers, patiently. "That thing that sometimes looks like little lights and that’s used to move things and make them disappear..." Despite the simple and clear explanation, the Sheriff’s face still sports astonishment. "Are you going to take out the crucifix your father gave you any time now?"

Emma ignores the last question. "You want to teach me to control my magic?"

"On the ship you said you wanted to learn."

She did. Emma remembers it vividly. Like everything that happened that night. But there’s something else behind. "And you sent me... to Hogwarts, I remember."

"I've changed my mind."

"Why?"

"Why not?" Regina responds defensively and Emma takes hold of what she knows of the brunette. It’s better to withdraw and try to go slowly pulling the strings. Without pause but without haste. The last thing she wants is that the Mayor retraits, withdraws her offer to teach her and that she herself remains unaware of the reason for this proposal.

"Does this have anything to do with that thing you forgot to comment during the meeting at City Hall?"

"I don’t do riddles..." She mutters between teeth with an impassive pose. Emma seeks her hands, ignores her reticence and intertwines them with hers. She turns her face, questioning, and looks directly at the honey-colored eyes.

"I mean Cora, Regina. Is this because of your mother?"

"Do you want to or not?" She repeats, throwing what seems like an ultimatum. But she doesn’t loose Emma and her whole body language is screaming, please, accept this proposal.

Emma sighs, gentle and sweet, perfect to counter the trench Regina tries to build.

"I'm dying to do it, Regina. And more if you want it too."

Regina twists her nose. If Emma is accepting her proposal, if they both agree, they should stop mulling over it at once. "So…?"

"You tell me. What happens? Is it because of Cora? "

"No." She responds taking air too hard and clucking. But she doesn’t let Emma’s hands go and goes back to her eyes. She gives in, foreseeing upset how her control crumbles a bit. "It's because of everything." She sighs, biting her lip and falling apart a little bit more. "You need Magic, Emma. I need you to master it. So that nothing can hurt you... not just my mother. I'm afraid of her, yes... but it's everything." She’s bordering the plea, but the blue eyes prevent her from deviating and she keeps on talking. She opens to Emma. Against her will, her eyes reveal all her fears, closely followed by her mouth, which also betrays her. Even her hands squeeze Emma’s more tightly, they reveal everything that’s inside her. "In less than a week you have been close to being hurt several times ... diabolic shadows, humans with guns, mermaids..."

"But nothing happened, honey, I'm fine and it’s all all thanks to you."

Regina doesn’t even devote a second to savor the endearment, or to repair in the sweet way it’s pronounced. She merely shakes her head and keeps talking at full speed.

"It’s not enough..." She mutters "What if I'm not enough?" A question that envelops Regina’s every fear. Brown eyes go pupil to pupil as what she doesn’t dare to say out loud resonates painfully in her head: what if I can’t always be there? No, I can’t lose you... I don’t want anything bad happening to you... I can’t lose you, I really can’t... Emma, I'm terrified.

She doesn’t not say aloud. She has closed her mouth for fear of letting escape even more words worthy more of a frightened little girl than of a mature and potentially deadly adult. But the Savior is developing a new superpower. One that goes beyond detecting the truth, one that works only when it comes to Regina. And she reads the brunette’s every fear, every plea, every memory of what it islike to lose a loved one. Suffering and helplessness that still scares Regina like a child.

And as a good Savior, she decides to fight and kill each of those fears. Until there is none standing.

"Nobody's going to touch me, ever." Tenderness and firmness in the same sentence. More an order to anyone who dares to approach her than a promise. Her certainty covers Regina and floods her body with a warm peace. Emma's words have a different magic that the one is used to, but it’s just as effective. The blonde’s lopsided smile warns her that one of those silly jokesis coming, those jokes that she hopelessly loves. Even though she poses as harsh, as befits a good, serious Evil Queen. "That's why I made sure to have the best teacher at Hogwarts..."

"At least this time didn’t compare me to a bearded all man..." She growls, grumpy, accepting the truce and recomposing herself piece by piece. Except a piece, the fears. That is left out, trampled and buried by Emma.

"Well and ... when do you want to start?" She asks, excited and restless, her hands dancing, hands that still hold the Mayor’s.

"Now?" She offers with a clear voice.

"Now?" Her hands stop moving and the question sounds high pitched, which inevitably amuses Regina.

"Yes why not? Are you afraid, Sheriff?" She teaases jokingly and smiles. "No pressure, Emma. Consider this a kind of initiation to get an idea of the point from which we start."

She likes it when she says her name. She especially likes how she says it, that way of escape from her lips. And because of that smooth and throaty "Emma" she loses the thread of the conversation and just answers "okay..." without having an entirely clear idea of what she’s accepting. Before she even realizes it, she’s smiling delighted and she has agreed to receive her first lesson in magic. Well, first if she doesn’t count the sex master class in the ship, but that may not be of much use to defend herself and attack enemies. At most, to seduce them à la Pretty Woman...

She closes her eyes and focus. Her nervousness makes her wander and think nonsense. Regina, in front of her, lets her hands go and stretches, recovering her best pose of an expert in magic and all her mysteries. She turns and looks around, looking for something; Emma doesn’t know what.

"That bush will do." She decides, observing and evaluating a small medium dry scrub.

"For…?"

"To be your aim." She responds as if it were obvious.

"Sure..." She scratches nose and looks at Regina. "What should I do with it?"

"Impatient, Sheriff? Or maybe nervous? "

"A mixture of both..."

Regina's smile gives way to her words. "That’s good news."

"Why?"

"For one simple reason..." IShe interlaces her fingers in front of her body with her best governess pose. "First lesson: Magic works through feelings, emotions. The more you feel the easier it will be for your to wield your power. "

"With nerves and impatience?"

Regina shrugs before her new student’s frown. "Why not? It's a start. We have the aim. Now, what do you want to do with that bush? "

"Hmmmm... Making it disappear?" She ssks hesitantly.

"How typical." Her reply reddens Emma’s cheeks, who kicks herself mentally for not being a little more original. "Just kidding..." Regina takes pity of her with a lopsided grin and her apprentice gives her back one of her own, not without some ill-feeling. "Now you have to limit yourself to want it and visualize it, okay?"

"Nothing more? No magic words or anything? "

"Tell me the truth, Emma ... You're a big fan of Harry Potter, right?" The furious glare is the only answer she gets. "Forget everything you've read before. Of course there are spells and potions, but just to enhance the magic, to get something larger or more specific. But the basic magic, by definition, is nature, it’s simply a talent you have to train. If there were wand movements or words to say for each disappearance, change in shape or attack, magic would be reserved for those gifted with good memory... "

"Okay..." Emma shakes her arms, relaxes her shoulders, and breathes hard through her nose. She’s ready to make magic. She has no idea how, but she’s super ready.

His eyes get fixed on the bush and her look says it all. Concentration, eagerness... but no instinct at all. She’s just allowing her mind to wander. The Mayor, making no noise and respecting the almost sepulchral silence, walks over to stand beside her. She observes her for five second before being sure that she won’t see any change.

"Emma, I can hear your thoughts from here .."

"That's not good, right?" She scratches her neck, unconvinced. "I try, but I have no idea what to do."

"Remember the first lesson. Thinking is mulling over the details, letting the reasoning deny what you’ll do..." Regina intentionally lowers the volume of her voice, adapting her words and behavior to the situation she’s trying to create. Slow movements, soft voice, almost captivating relaxed attitude. "This is magic, it’s irrational, it’s pure instinct..." She places herself behind Emma’s the back, looking over her shoulder at the bush. "You must imagine that it’s already happening, wanting it to disappear, as if something inside your chest ordered it to the bush. Not inside your head." She muses, quietly. "You’ll be on the right track when your mind goes blank."

But her head is anything but empty. Sbe can only think Magic, magic, magic. I’m gonna make magic!

"I can’t…"

"You're not even trying, if I get closer I can get to listen to your head spinning." Her breath strikes Emma’s and her back tauts as a bow. "Close your eyes, concentrate and raise your hands. It helps to think of them as a catalyst of your power. Let them direct…"

Emma's arms stretched in the air in a mixture between a zombie and a carrier of pianos. "Like this?"

Regina innerly thanks that she can’t see her face of disappointment. "More or less..." She sighs, trying to be polite, and repositions her hands. Closer to her body, a little further down, in a more natural position. "Let's try something different, okay?"

The Savior fails to answer. Before, she senses how Regina moves around her and nds up close to her, stuck to her back. She can feel the heat from the Mayor’s body, but does not touch her.

"What are you doing?" She asks, but without disobeying, still, hands in the proper position and eyes closed.

"The bush, Swan. Look again, focus. Make it disappear."

"Okay..." She tries. Of course she tries. She has never been very obedient, rather rebellious, but Regina’s voice is incontestable. And quite seductive. She ries not to think, just feel, just act... But how is she supposed to not think when Regina’s breath resonates on his neck, when she senses her inches away from her skin...

Regina smiles victorious. Emma is still thinking, yes, but not about the bush. And that's enough for the magic to start working. Through her hands currents of power begin to wander and the ends of scrubland disappear slightly. It’s almost impossible to notice, but there it is.

But it's not enough. Regina wants more, she knows what her student is capable of and she has just begun to show her full potential.

"Come on, Swan." She growls against her ear. It sounds like a moan, which is precisely her intention and how Emma’s body interprets it. She remains quiet, rigid, with uncontrolled beats and half-open mouth. "I know you can do better." This time Regina is panting, hot and vibrant, and that target unceremoniously the southernmost area of her belly.

Emma tries to turn around, to ask what’s happening. But she stands still when the bottom of her shirt shifts. The fabric rises subtly, nothing is touching it, it’s slowly getting away from her skin. An air stream, too precise, too similar to the touch of a hand, walking the small space of her womb that has been exposed.

She bites her lip, takes a breath. "Regina ...?"

"The aim, Ms. Swan. Don’t get distracted." Emma doesn’t understand anything. Suddenly her surname seems the hottest word she has ever been heard. She sense more subtle and compelling caresses going up her ribs and she has to focus and think of a damn bunch of branches.

That sultry air stream thoroughly slides over her hips, runs her column and caresses her neck. By the time it get’s lost in the cleft of her neck, Emma would swear she feels Regina's eyes fixed on her. Her beats are out of control, like her senses, and she fails to interpret the rules of this game.

"What do you want, Miss Swan?" She growls against her ear without making the slightest contact with Emma’s.

"To make this bush disappear." She wheezes stammering and repressing a groan. Now there are two drafts, invisible, subtle, but damn effective. One of them caresses her neck and cheek and Emma resists the feeling of leaning toward it. The other retaliates with her belly and forces her to contract it, terribly excited. It’s air, magically summoned, but only air, after all. However, she’d swear it’s shapedas  fingers, long, thin and very skillful.

"Aha..." the Evil Queen says, soft and contained. And those fingers that are not really fingers dig into Emma’s curves. The Savior moans, vibrates with, but doesn’t change her position. Her arms are still raised, pointing to the bush. "What do you want?" She repeats, letting the hoarseness dominate her voice without compassion.

"I want to erase that damn plant from the face of the earth." She gasps, stutters and sounds anything but serene.

The button of her pants is unfastened with a slight pull though nobody is touching it. Emma swallows deeply. Now the zipper slides slowly and inexorably. The soft clang lights her nerve endings, from her hips to her crotch.

"Say it again, Ms. Swan, what do you want exactly?"

Biting the words when she answers: “I want your hand inside my pant, right now."

"That’s what I thought..." She tastes her words, like her tongue would like to do with Emma. "Do you want me to touch you?" Emma growls indignantly, but utters no words. "I can’t do it until you use your power, or mine will interfere and the disappearance won’t have have any merit, Ms. Swan. So come  on... make some magic happen"

And Emma obeys. Her head is far away from her body, reason doesn’t intervene, only her feelings prevail. The desire to be touched, the urgent need to rub against Regina. And her magic answers. Like Regina has described.

It’s a part of her, a part that has been almost banished, limited to awaken instinctively and uncontrollably. But this time it comes to Emma at her will, she mobilizes her magical essence and demands that it comes up to her hands. An intense and electrifying torrent that, at the order of her wish -and her excitement-, slides down her body, reaches her fingers and projects its power against the bush. And Emma knows what will happen before it happens. Because it’s her whish, her order.

A white mist flies to the bush, dances around and devours it until both plant and smoke disappear leaving behind nothing. A perfect and complete disappearance.

Knowing is completely different to seeing. Regina was aware of her potential, but this is much more than she could expect. A newcomer in diapers directing and focusing her power with almost professional skills. She herself had to practice for weeks and days of sweat to achieve something... Emma is simply a wonder of nature.

"It was incredible .. you're incredible!" A smile denoting all her pride, an enthusiasm that is pure relief and happiness.

"Whatever you say..." It's a roar, a set of words spoken without thinking, the beginning of an attack that takes the form of a kiss. Regina’s still smiling, innocent and quiet, when  Emma’s tongue is taking over her mouth. The Mayor intuitively separates her lips, closes her eyes and tries to think. But it’s impossible, she’s surpassed by all the ehings that happen around her, one by one. She walk two steps backwards, forced by the shock of Emma’s body against her’s. She bows her neck when the Savior hand holds and scratches her neck. And she tries to kiss Emma like she’s kissing her. With that mixture of passion, possessiveness, desperate excitement... The magic has been relegated, forgotten and unimportant. Now this spell in the form of kisses, saliva and bites is everything Regina wants to handle.

His lesson has been effective. So very effective that she herself is a victim of this master class. Emma's arm wrapps her waist with impudence, brings their hips together and lunges, oh god, how onrushing, against hers. So fast, so hot, she could come with a couple of shoves more... But Emma wants to see her gasp, she wants to take out from her those moans that are born from her chest when he can’t no more, she wants to finish what has been left unfinished half in that room... But above all, she needs Regina to slide her hand inside her underwear. Immediately. Before she melts with the simple touch of their bodies, colliding so accurately, so animal like.

She bites those red lips, she goes away from them and saturates the curve of her neck. A corner that tastes like sweat and home, where she could get lost for hours nibbling until she left the mark of her mouth throbbing red. But there’s no time. She licks the skin up to the tender ear, ready to beg her to touch, to invade, to unleashes this unbearable heat...

But Regina, panting and groaning against her cheek, is ahead of her. The Mayor touches the hand on her back, moves it... and even sucks it. Emma opens her eyes, looks at her hand. She’s tring to understand how Regina’s mouth can be in two places at once. Unless... this is not her Evil Queen’s mouth.

"PONGO!!

Regina jumps in shock, screaming with fright: "Who goes where?!"

The Savior steps away before she even finishes her question. "No, Pongo!" A hysterical response, scary, and that still doesn’t make sense to Regina’s ears. Until she follows Emma's pale eyes staring at her  feet. A hairy, white face with black spots, looks back at her with an almost comical innocence.

"Pongo..." She repeat, recovering a normal heart rhythm. The dog wags his tail, happy to hear his name and asks for caresses. The Mayor, totally disoriented, pats hus soft little head and scratches, looking at Emma.

"I got scared..." As if it wasn’t an obviety, as if she had to clarify that.

"You don’t tell…"

"Don’t be sarcastic ... something was sucking my hand!"

"And something was sucking my neck ... and a second later it was screaming at me." She satirizes, one hand on her chest.

"You see, I wasn’t expect a dog to stop us. Also, where is his...." The psychologist’s voice, timely and illustrative, stops Emma , calling for his pet. "...Archie." She adds triumphantly and resigned. The shock is disappearing over the course of the seconds, but not the high temperatures of her body.

"I see..." Regina coughs, looks down at her feet and breathes deeply. She tries to compose herself, arranging her clothes, and watching the dog with annoyance. But Pongo doesn’t understand about breaking unique moments. He understands about cuddles and caresses and gets his head closer to Regina’s hand, naive. The brunette sighes with resignation and exclaims. "Pongo is here, Hopper, with us."

And a few steps later, they are now four where previously only Emma and her stood. Too many beings for her likings.

"Forgive me, has started running like crazy..." Archies wheezes, recovering Pongo’s belt, who takes it as a game and tries to escape again. "Are you inspecting this area?"

The atmosphere is blatantly thick, uncomfortable, forced. As if, hypothetically, two lovers had been indulging kisses before being violently interrupted. Emma tries to lighten it up, sounding calms, even natural: "Yes, as ordered by Ruby, let’s explore!"

But her joke is blatantly artificial, and Regina rubs the bridge of his nose with some embarrassment.

"I see..." Archie says, letting himself get infected by this slightly uncomfortable atmosphere. "Maybe should go back."

"What time is it?"

He looks at his watch, while noting Pongo’s playful pulling. "Five-thirty, ladies.'

"Ruby wanted to meet and exchange notes in thirty minutes..." Emma, dazzled, wonders where the last three hours have gone.

"Exactly." She answers, placing his glasses on the bridge of his nose. "Shall we go back?"

"After you." Emma offers polite allowing him to pass, while Pongo leads the group, excited with the endless ride. Archie thanks her with a gentle nod before starting to walk like a snow sled pulled by the eager dog. Regina goes after his steps, but a hand pulls her arm and leaves her rooted to the spot, face to face with Emma. Enough distance to feign an ordinary conversation, but with a liquid intention bathing Emma’s body.

"I know what’s the first thing I want you to teach me." She resolves, authoritarian and making Regina’s skin tingle. "A spell of invisibility with which to hide from everyone... because if that happens again, I’ll simply explode."

So exaggerated and so true at the same time. "Yes, I think that would be wonderful first lesson..." Her voice sounds grave like the engine of a car, vibrant like a thunder... hopelessly horny and a little embarrassed. "For the sake of your health, of course..."

"Sure..." Emma chews stroking the skin that remains under her fingers. Soft, warm, bristling ... irresistible.

Regina clears her throat, licking her lips, looking anywhere other than Emma's darkened eyes. "Either we start to walk... or I who knows what Archie will tell at the meeting."

"Half of Storybrooke knows already, if you really think that's going to stop me, you're wrong..."

"Come on, let’s go..." She smiles, escapes from her grip and pushes her, forcing her to walk. "I resent your father is worried about me, when you are clearly the most dangerous of the two of us..." She growls at her back.

Archie turns around half scared half surprised. Pongo follows the sound curiously. Emma's laughter stops them for a few seconds, but the doctor judges it’s wiser not to ask and retakes the road leading to the village, followed increasingly closely by the two women. As a great expert of the human psyche, he’s aware that something happens. Something important. Although he’s missing pieces to find out what... It's something so big that it escapes through his fingers.

 


 

Two hours later Belle, who has served as unofficial secretary, reconstructs all the information all the explorers have collected. Almost 30 scrawled sheets, more than 15 footnotes and some comment out of the margin, and one conclusion. They are almost like at the beginning, left with nothing.

There are many plants, anomalies in the field and places that were not before, yes, but each of them is common, vulgar, almost repetitive in the world of fairy tales. It’s a sign that the city is changing, but there are no clues as to where or why. Just that... the common herbs found by Regina, the river loaded with more flow Snow has walked by or rocky slopes near the Toll Bridge studied by Ruby. They still have the second half of the forest to inspect,  but David doesn’t have much hope in finding anything more.

"And now what?"

David ignores Rumpelstiltskin’s demanding tone. There’s not a single person in Granny’s diner who’s not stiff, impatient and bewildered. All volunteers have finished every last crumb of the lunch prepared by Granny and now with a full stomach, they want to satisfy their curiosity. Rumpel the first of them. But if the others don’t have the answers, why do they expected him to have them? And now that…? Now tracking, monitoring, waiting. What else?

"Tomorrow will resume the expeditions. For now, nothing else." The crowd joins in a sulking though sympathetical whisper. "The best we can do is rest and remain vigilant." He feels like a halfhearted leader, without being able to meet the demands of all those faces staring at him.

"We have diverted the phone calls from the station to Mary Margaret's phone. If any changes occur overnight, call emergency; we’ll reply." Emma adds, taking over from her father. "If nothing changes, we will be here tomorrow at ten." The sovereign-Savior combination takes effect, she puts an end to the meeting and reassures those there. They reprise their affairs, flit through the cafeteria, others -Grumply- go to the nearest bar to reflect on what happened, and a significant number remains in the cafe next to the nucleus formed by the Dark One, the Evil Queen, the Charmings and the Savior. Faces like Dr. Whale, Ruby, Granny, Belle, Archie or Gepetto.

And among them Henry remains quietly, calm, without being noticed. He knows he has surpass his time to go to sleep. A few long minutes ago. But maybe if he doesn’t interfere, if it doesn’t make himself note, he can stay for a little longer with everyone at Granny’s. He just have to be still and avoid Emma or Regina’s eyes nailing him ... Emma and Regina, in fact, are staring at him,  rather amused though quizzical.

"In’t  someone here trying to avoid the curfew?"

"No, of course not. But we can stay a little longer, whatever you want. It’s important to fix this, right?" A repertoire of his best evasive answers. He get the smiles of several townspeople, but not the extra time

"Don’t even try it, kid." Emma looks funny at the clock in the  diner. "It’s time to go to sleep and when I sleep I mean you."

"But Mom! What's the rush? We are solving a mystery "

"For today there’s nothing else to solve, mate. Go to rest." Neal tries to cheer him up stirring her hair. He looks at some of the people there, a doubt flitting through his head. He takes it out in the form of a question before considering whether it’s  good idea to pose it. "How are you going to do this?"

An awkward silence followed by a pair of equally uncomfortable coughs. There are two factions, those who know why situation has gotten awkward and those who don’t understand what happened. He has just asked: How are you going to do this? Why suddenly Emma doesn’t where to look at, Snow watches askance, David instigates Regina, and the Mayor has strained like a bow?

Nor it is much more pleasant for those who do know what happens. Neal would like to step back and not ask anything and go quietly through the door. But he unconsciously looks at Regina. The Mayor senses and David’s scrutiny, even the occasional onlooker, and her neck twitches.

Archie’s analytical smell jumps in certain situations like a spring, he consideres it a professional little defect. Outside his office he tries not to analyze people’s gesture, the words they choose and how they behave. But he can’t help it sometimes, like now. His eyes fall on Regina. She seems angry, icy... even irritated. Although the latter may be due to him staring at her. He averts his eyes and meditate on how Neal’s question could affect the callous and cold Mayor.

Regina no longer stands the silence that borders on the ridiculous, picks up her purse and answered mockingly: "Staying each of us in our own home, for instance?"

At the end of the day, that's normal, right? Certain aspects of her life may have changed, but not to the gallery. Not for the rest of the neighbors. The expect the regal and sulky Mayor returns to her mansion, alone, and she doesn’t want to give them anything to gossip about. So she fulfills the role that has been assigned to her.

"I think..." Emma's babbling is cut when is notices his father's hand, holding her elbow and stopping her. Instead, David imposes himself:

"Great idea, Regina. Great idea."

"But Mom..."

"Henry, no more about this, it's bedtime." Although she interrupts him, she doesn’t leave out tenderness. She has stopped him because she knows that this time, Henry would not complain about the curfew. And the naturalness of her child is able to loudly declare certain personal situation that, for now, he prefers to keep personal. Just imagining the entire town gossiping, judging or censoring her relationship with Emma infuriates her. A tantrum that hides quite some anxiety and dread. She can live with Snow and David against her but ... the whole town? No, she can’t, she doesn’t want to, she won’t allow it. Although they end up each at their own home, even if there’s no more fairytale until the sun rises again. "Tomorrow we will continue looking for clues." Regina insists, making it clear he wants to flee there.

"Okay..." He embraces her and lets out a sigh so melancholical that Regina is forced to smile at him.

"Sweet dreams, my sweetheart."

"Good night, Mom."

Only then the Mayor addresses the others, whom she has ignored without much effort. "See you tomorrow." She has been ignoring everyone, except those clear eyes that look hurt, uncomfortable, silently asking what she’s doing. To these eyes, Regina reserves a special look. One look that says everything is fine, we’ll talk tomorrow, and have happy dreams. One that she hides until passes by her side and directs her for a couple of seconds. So well made that anyone else would believe it. But Emma doesn’t, and she doesn’t even need her lies detector. She watches her as she walks out of the diner, whule the others begin to pick up their things and follow the brunette’s example, who closes the door behind her.

Emma takes a couple of steps in that direction. The third is truncated by David’s body. The huge smile on his face leaves no doubt that he’s glad that one is out there and the other here. And that he will prevent her from leaving after her, especially thaat. Emma rolls her eyes in exasperation, and waits for his next move.

"Would you take Henry in your bug? Your mother comes with me in the van." And he sounds so happy, so satisfied, that it makes Emma want to ask Ruby for a pan and hit him with it. She decides that that would force her to give too many explanations and she decides to give up. She sputters kind of  "Yup..." and looks for her car keys in her jacket.

She walks to Henry, but someone holds her arm again. She turns around, ready to scream for the pan, but this time it’s Neal, with a guilty and tormented gesture, unlike her smiling father.

"Sorry, I asked without thinking. I didn’t mean to..."

"You couldn’t know." Three words, dry and harsh. Neal steps back and Emma takes a deep breath. She has no right to be unfair with him, she changes her attitude: "Sorry, I'm not angry, really. It's just that this situation is a bit tiring.. "

"I can imagine ..." He replies automatically, because he can’t actually imagine, he has never lost his head for a maniac queen, nor has he played doctors with his father and half of the kingdom’s archenemy . But he has no choice but to be understanding. "Rest well."

"You too." She smiles, grateful and walks straight to Henry. "Come on, let’s go home..." She jokes and hugs the shoulders of that brat preteen who’s still trying to convince her to stay for a little longer. And for some reason, Emma feels the urge to say that they are not going home, that the place they’re going to is not their home anymore. But she doesn’t and drives down the street, after David’s van on the way of Mary Margaret’s apartment.

 


 

The whole mansion is dark and Regina would swear she can hear the wind coming from room to room. Annoyed, pacing so many empty and boring square yards, with nothing to do. Such a big house to even echo due to how calm it is. And of all the rooms, only one is occupied. By herself. She barely fills a third of her huge bed. And that's it.

She rolls twice over the mattress. She feels compelled to move around it and use it a bit more. It's too much bed for one person. It is too much house for one person. It’s too much loneliness to face by one person... She hides her head under the pillow. She gives herself a mental kick  and tries to take all this nonsense out of her head.

She tries to convince herself that nothing happens. She does’nt feel alone. No,  all is fine. It’s just that she has spent the last days surrounded by annoying people at all times and it takes some time to get used to this tranquility. Justthat. Because, how much time has it been? Weeks?

She looks back, pulls her head from under the pillow, counts mentally and frowns. There have been seven days... only seven days since Owen tried an alternative therapy of electroshock with her? Since they left Storybrooke riding that dreadful ship? Since they fought for and rescued Henry? Just four days since she kissed Emma Swan, got angry with Emma Swan, kiss her and to got angry with her again to end up cuddling and speaking tender words in the bed?

When she looks back, it doesn’t seem just a week. Everything she has lived, all that has happened, and not even seven days ago. It's as if an absent-minded writer had been writing her story slowly, stretching each chapter weeks, almost months... and what have been 168 hours has become for her a lifetime. A new life... but there are things that don’t change: sleeping alone, one of her favorite moments. With all the night ahead to think, worry, imagin ... and, again, no one to kill that loneliness, that night inside her that is colder and darker than the one behind the curtain.

She admits it. It’s not that it’s hard to get used back to loneliness. It’s that she doesn’t want to. She doesn’t want to ask anything from life because life never gives her anything. But deep down she expects that there would be no more loneliness. Not after Emma chose her, after she told her she she loved her. Doesn’t it come implicit in the deal that if someone loves you, you don’t get to be alone anymore?

Well, not that she has given Emma much chance. Not herself nor the others present. David has nearly tied her and dragged her in tow. And she has run out of the diner, making a tremendous stampede without letting Emma respond.

She shouldn’t have reacted like that to Neal's question, like a hungry lioness, but it’s hard to get out of her role as a sulky Mayor. And deep down, deep down, she was afraid to see how they took Emma away from her. Or, worse, seeing Emma, with the purpose of hiding their thing, for Henry’s sake or who knows why, choosing to walk away from her. It was easier that way, doing it herself. Another of those things that don’t change: be the first one flee to avoid suffering.

She takes a deep breath, swallows those annoying and melancholic feelings that try to get out through her throat. The best she can do is to try to sleep. If she has to be alone, it better be fast.

But a gentle vibration and the flickering light of her phone and before her aspirations. It’s a message. From Emma:

"Hi :)"

 


 

It's a doze in the way to a deep sleep. This warm and inviting time when the bed is the best place in the world and you are in the clouds. David is close to purring. But a slight strumming wakes him. He opens his eyes. That noise is not registered within the little sounds of the old apartment. After months in the house he has a catalog of clicks, pops and other noises of the house. And this is not one of them.

It sounds like slipping on wood, but it’s very soft. As if the wind scoured the wall. And he hears it again. He turns and looks for Snow on the mattress, but her wife isn’t there. He sits up on the mattress, anxious, and his wife looks at him from the window with a finger to his lip, asking for silence. She’s looking out the window, but away from it. Just enough to see the outside but be hidden by the darkness of the room.

David moves his lips without leaving out any sound.  "What was that noise?"

"Emma." Snow vocalizes the same way. David opens his eyes in surprise and gets out of bed with a spring. All the silence in the house is interrupted by the hurried steps. He tries to approach the window, but Snow's arm holds him back with her. But he gets to see Emma, getting down the wall of the building quietly  before reaching the ground. She was the strange sound from the wall.

"Where is she going?" He keeps the composure necessary not to wake Henry, but to show his enormous outrage.

"As you surely understand, I haven’t asked her." She quips. "But I can imagine..."

"And you let her go?"

"I think that she’s no longer a little girl to be told to stay in her room."

David crosses his arms. You are never old enough to forbid your daughter an evening out. "And can you tell me why she chose to get out through the window?"

Snow snorts calmly and patiently. "Because of us, David. Of course."

"Well I don’t understand." He insists, irritated. The dark eyes roam him up and down, her posture defiant and angry. And he decides to return to bed, while her husband is still standing in the middle of the room.

"You really don’t?"

"What are you implying?" He asks, striking the ground with his toe.

"Come back to bed..." Snow sighs, patting the mattress. She convince David, but her husband still gets under the sheets with his arms crossed. "You really don’t understand why she has get out of the house like a thief?"

"It makes no sense…"

"Honey, look at yourself..."

David lowers his chin, observes his hands under his armpits and doesn’t need to look in the mirror to guess his crooked nose and his furrowed brow..

"What do you want me to do...?" He asks, uncrossing his arms and trying to relax beside his wife’s body. He looks into her eyes and adds: "I don’t like it."

"Are you sure?" She asks, hugging him and watching him from his chest.

David's eyebrows arch. "I'm not following you."

"I’m asking if you're sure you don’t like it."

"Quite sure."

"I know you’re not a fan of the idea, but do you really dislike it so much?" David continues silent, waiting to see where his wife goes. "If a few years ago, or just a few months ago, someone had told you your little girl escaped to see the Queen you would have moved heaven and earth to kill Regina."

"And who tells you that I won’t?"

Snow gives him a smile. "I know you. You are here pouting. But you haven’t left after Emma." David meditates her words and his wife takes the chance to go on. "You can think of a thousand better partners for Emma than Regina, like me. But for some reason, we are not adamantly against it, we're not even scandalized, so admit it..."

"Where do you want to go? Because I know that I’m thrilled by the idea of calling not Regina a daughter-in-law, you know?"

Snow trembles with a shudder. "I think I could never call her like that ... But I think that deep down, Regina has changed and we both are aware of that." She sighs without believing what she’s admitting. "That's the only possible explanation for why Regina is still alive and you haven’t left after Emma when you saw her..."

"You're implying that my daughter is sleeping with the Evil Queen and that my subconscious is okay with that?" Snow shrugs resignedly, David snorts through his nose and flicks his tongue. "That’s horrid…"

The last thing Snow heats before falling asleep is the voice of her husband muttering again. "Horrid..."

 


 

Three messages already. It's not like having Emma in her hands, but holding her phone makes her feel better. She’d rather be talking face to face, though her smile is still hanging from her lips every time the phone vibrates. Although she pretends to be hard ..

"What are you doing?" She reads Emma’s last answer on the screen and types back.

"I'm in bed, of course. This is no time to write to people, Emma ... Haven’t you been taught manners? "

"Say you don’t  miss me."

"I do not miss you."

"Lia.r"

"You told me to say it ..."

"Well, now tell me the truth."

"The truth ... the truth is I can’t sleep"

"Because of me?"

"Because I close my eyes and I don’t fall asleep, really."

"That is, because of me." The Savior writes. Regina can almost sense Emma’s snooty voice the message and laughs.

"I think you have a serious problem of reading comprehension, Sheriff ... What about you, why aren’t you sleeping?"

"Because it's a beautiful night and I can’t stop looking out the window."

"So bucolic for a hard girl like you. And what do you see?"

"Haven’t I already told you? The night! " Regina frowns her nose, but admits that she’s enjoying this. She reads: "You have to look, you can’t miss the sky tonight..."

"First, you're incredibly cheesy. Second: The curtain is closed, I see nothing."

"Well open it, you lazy-ass! It’s a beautiful show ... P.d .: I'm not cheesy, but for some reason I feel, how to say, romantic..."

"Who knows why that must be... And I'm not a lazy-ass." She types in her phone. "I'm already opening it, what do you want me to look at?" She ends the message and draws away the white cloth from the window. She hits send and lifts her face.

"AAAAAHHHHHHH !!!!!!"

"Do you like this beautiful show?"

The Mayor puts her hand on her chest and takes a step back as a reflex. "Damn it, Emma, you scared me!" She continues to scream, but Emma’s too busy wiping her tears away. "IT'S NOT FUNNY!"

Emma stares at her face to face, talking through the glass. "I don’t agree..." Regina is very angry. Very, very, very pissed off. So much that when Emma’s amused smile meets her eyes can’t help but bite her lip and turning her face around to hide her laughter. "Would you open this?"

 

To be continued…

Chapter Text

"Can you open?"

"No, you damn lunatic!" She crosses her arms, stubborn and offended. "You are not a child to do these things."

"If Graham could, me too."

"Jealous,Sheriff?"

"Never. I'm sure you never smiled him like this."

"Presumptuous."

"Both you and I know you're going to open..."

"Insufferable..." She approaches the window. But only because it would be cruel to leave her out in the middle of the night.

"... And you're gonna kiss me like you never kissed him. Or anyone."

She grabs the frame of the window and thinks about it: "Bragger." She ends up putting it up without prudence, hurriedly. Emma enters the room jumping, lunging. Caressing the soft waistband of her pajama pants. Filling the room with its smell inexplicably.

"Are you sure?"

"Damn Sheriff." An angry snarl, a half puckering lip and a challenging look. Until Emma's face lights up with the most childish and happy of the smiles. She's the living image of eagerness. And it's for her. For being here, at midnight, in her bedroom. The pulsations that this certainty unleashes electrify her body. She swoops against Emma. Literally. No aggressiveness. No swagger or abruptness. But she throws herself against Emma and she doesn't expect it.

Regina's hands hold her face, her body conforms to the Savior's every curve and her lips surrender in the most affectionate kiss she remember ever giving. And then she understands: she's not alone. Anymore. And no one is happier than the Evil Queen now.

Emma kisses recover some authority and her lips slide to her cheek. "If I had known that this was the reward for climbing up your balcony, I had done much earlier, months ago."

Regina's arms slide down her body, slip under his clothes. They seek contact with her skin, that warmth that says: You're home...

"Maybe a few months ago I would have been too stupid to greet you like this." Fingers run over Emma's stomach and honey eyes watch her lips in detail.

"The two of us would have been too stupid... But we have learned." Emma is a whirlwind of energy, she drags Regina with herself. She gets lost in the color of her eyes, in the way they glow when Emma looks at her. And she senses it. A tingling on the tongue. Like a friendly but insistent itching. Her lips want to move and let out certain sounds that her throat is dying to create. But her vocal cords remain still. As if they were made of porcelain and one wrong move could break them. Her tongue struggles to leave out certain words, three to be exact, but something prevents it. Regina prevents it. She feels that if she speaks, if she lest your mouth confess that indeterminate something, she will be convening a tsunami with which she believes she can't cope. Fear grips the tongue, strangles it and lifts a thumb telling Regina that everything is in order.

"We have learned..." The Mayor repeats. The tiny, imperceptible lack of security is replaced with an extra touch of humor. Emma smiles giddy , oblivious to everything, letting Regina do. And Regina returns to her lips, her skin, her clothes, to leave her mind blank and silence that cramp pecking the tip of her tongue. "But I would like to review the lesson..."

She digs her fingers into Emma's ribs and the mute moan is instantaneous. The Sheriff shuts up her mouth just to lick her lips and Regina dictates that this is a provocation. She throws herself against them, now it's her tongue moistening them, running over them, sealing them with intricate kisses. With the exact pressure and saliva necessary to finish the turn of words.

From that moment on her feet don't touch the ground. Emma is hugging her waist and lifts just enough to stumble into bed together. Before touching the mattress with her back, the room air tickles her bare skin. Emma, gathering great skill and greater desperation, has shed the top of his pajamas and her fingers go straight to her pants. Without preambles, unceremoniously... in a hurry that turns on her crotch. But Regina doesn't need nor wants preambles. There have been 24 hours of them. A whole day to recreate in her mind what was left unfinished that morning. Of crashing against trees stealing fleeting moments that did nothing but lighten up the need for her body to merge with Emma's. No, no need for preliminaries. What she you need is Emma. Now.

Her own pants fly over the room. She is naked and focused on unfastening Emma's bra. Her eyes are closed, her mouth open, she's thoroughly devouring the Savior. But her hands don't lose the thread. They remember their mission and comply strictly, getting down denim and stroking every inch of soft and suffocating skin that is released.

She opens hereyes and the full moon gives her the most provocative of visions. Emma, covered in an irresistible silver tone lies her on the bed and to kneels at her waist, upright in all her glory. She wears incredibly sexy set, obviously chosen with premeditation and malice, she smiles sideways. She watches Regina like a prey, liker her most wanted trophy... like that beautiful wild animal she has finally been able to hunt. She grins like an idiot and wonders, before unbuttoning her bra, who has been hunted by whom ...

Regina's eyes are feasting on the spectacle unfolding before her. Emma's curves cause a pull directly into her crotch and she notices the pounding river that begins to take shape down there. When the bra falls down to the ground, Evil Queen's brain is almost out of work. Emma's hoarse words reach her after going through several layers of excitement.

"Do you trust me?"

"Totally..." She pants. She may be unable to say... that, whatever it is, that's in her throat, crossed. But she does not even think before she answers that question. Does she trust Emma? Totally, absolutely and inexplicably. Blindly. Always. For so long she doesn't even remember.

The smile the Savior sports is even more radiant and childish than all previous. But when she descends into Regina's ear and growls against her she's not innocent or naive at all: "Turn around. Now."

Regina's hips dance alone to the tune of Emma's voice. She trembles against her and gulps. What? But the order has left no room for doubts and before understanding what's happening, Regina lies face down, with her head on the pillow and her arms underneath. She notices Emma getting a few inches away, needing to get rid of her panties. A sigh afterwards a hand is pulling her hair, holding her to the side and exposing the sensitive skin of her neck. Emma's hips regain their place over Regina's ass and the following warning comes in the form of unforgiving teeth biting her neck.

"Oh, god, Emma!" The cry is because of the shock, the hoarseness because of her libido. She grabs the sheets with her fists and and the next thing gripping her senses is a tongue sliding down the curve of her neck. It covers the most sensitive corners unceremoniously pulling more incoherent sounds. Emma's hands stroke her, strolling with her nails predisposed and tense arms. Regina's nerve endings verges on collapse, but, as she guessed, there's no time for preliminaries. Emma's entire body lies on her. She distinguishes each inch of skin against her. Her legs tangled with hers, her crotch nailed against her ass, her stomach caressing her kidneys and her breasts, firm and agitated over her shoulder blades.

She tries to absorb every sensation but Emma's mouth devouring her shoulders and her hands slipping to play with her nipples annihilate all line of logical thinking. She closes her eyes, the other senses are heightened. Regina has become a compendium of flesh, nerve endings and a dangerous body temperature. She would never have said her back, his ribs, or his ass were so sensitive, so receptive. She caressing with her fingertips total collapse if she doesn't come immediately. She has never been a victim of such a need, this dependent on anyone's the touch. But she dies for Emma and at the same time she dies because of what her hands and mouth are doing to her. And it's fantastic. Even though she doesn't remember where she is or what her name is... Great .. God!

Emma's hands go down her stomach, provocatively scratching the skin. When they go down a few inches more, the Savior hears her name spoken out loud and between blasphemies. It doesn't matter that Regina has cried out against the sheets, Emma's hand is completely buried between her legs, and the Mayor's bellowing has been heard throughout the house.

Regina's hips gallop against her hand and the mattress. They seek every touch with an unquenchable thirst, demanding more contact, more strength. Emma doesn't stop torturing her with kisses on her neck, her left hand revels in her breasts and the right one sinks into her. Her thumb is strategically over her clitoris, two fingers move inside Regina easily, getting soaked in her unstoppable moisture. Slipping to the bottom, following the desperate and fast movements with which the Mayor moves her hip. She's trapped between the mattress and the Savior's body, but that doesn't avoid that with every lurch of that had, her body raises to receive it. A violent, impatient move that she hits against Emma's hip.

The Savior can't hold it no more. Her moisture is soaking Regina's ass and her hand goes down from the chest to the hips, surrounding them and forcing them to stick against herself. She slides against her skin, soaked in her own essence. It's hard to keep pace with her hand, it's hard to not leave Regina's orgasm on the way and come outrageously against her ass. No one could blame her. Her endurance, all day, has been superhuman, but she can't. She's willing to avoid coming first, to wait until Regina begs her, until they both lose reason together. That simple image imprints more eagerness to her movements and the brunette responds immediately. She sticks her hips to that hand, to the mattress, to the body she senses riding behind her and she pleads: "Don't stop, Emma... Go on, please." She growls softly, almost inaudible. Except for Emma, who moanis stronger, digs her fingers in her ass and notices Regina's contractions around her fingers. "Oh, god, honey..."

Honey... The Savior doesn't reply. The tender endearment is too much. Her fingers touch that spot inside the Mayor that unleashes the flood on her hand and the only thing she manages is to cry: "I'm here Regina, nail against me, let yourself go...". And the Mayor obeys. The orgasm possesses her body and before losing control she raises her hips against Emma. Both of them convulse with closed eyes, lips livid due to the pressure and jaws strained , almost screeching. But they notice each other. Beside her, melting at the same time, reaching the climax together and coming back together to that bed that, miraculously, hasn't broken down.

Emma's heat and weight of welcome Regina. She swallows deep, breathe, and allows the proximity of that body fill each of her pores with a warm sensation. Nothing can be more delicious... Except if Emma's lips leave a trail of kisses, delicate and meticulous, on her shoulder blade, neck and ear.

"This was amazing..." The whisper has devastating effects on the Mayor's body. She can't but giggle, agreeing, while Emma sets aside fso that she turns around to be face to face.

"It was..." She repeats, forcing herself to catch her breath. She takes her hands to the face over her, strokes her hair, places the most stubborn locks behind her ear. It's not just passion born from what they've just done. Her caresses are full of affection and devotion that, if more aware, she would hide behind a million hexes and several masks of imperturbability. But there, in front of Emma, no clothes, no barriers, no where to hide. And her lips try to mutiny again. They try to take control, to say three words that flit across ers chest. But Regina presses her jaw forcefully. Hence nothing escapes.

"This really is the right way to end a day like today... and not running away from me in the Granny's diner." She sounds accusing and Regina finds it even more funny. "Don't laugh!"

"How am I supposed not to...?" She raises an eyebrow and the tip of his tongue runs over Emma's lips. She speaks again and does so attached to that fleshy, sensitive mouth. "You're talking about the end the day... and you're wrong, the night has just begun, Sheriff."

"Oh yeah?"

"Oh, yes." She sounds hoarse, severe, totally irresistible. Emma's body vibrates and a second later notices how Regina's long legs are tangled around her hips. The arms get lost on her back and trapped Emma against her. "You can't expect to sneak into my property and get rid of me so easily. You'll get what you deserve... "

"Hmmmm... Regina!"


 

There is a small gap between the curtains. Tiny. An almost imperceptible line. But enough for the first ray of sunshine to sneak inside. Naughty, straight to Emma's face, almost on her right eye. In dreams, she tries to make it disappear, moves her nose, turns a bit. But the beam remains at the height of his eyes, digging and forcing her to open them a little. The light is stuck directly on her iris and she uses two slumbering hands to try to cover her face.

The movement reaches Regina, resting on Emma's chest. She doesn't remember how she ended in that position, entwined in a tangle of arms, but she likes it. And she would like it more if Emma stopped moving and mumbling something like "Thesunsout, itshittingmeee..."

"What happens?" She yawns without getting away from her.

"It's morning..."

"Time? " mumbles sleepily.

"Seven... I should go before they discover my absence."

"Yes, yes ... hurry." She responds, sleepy and without moving one bit. How much have they slept? One hour? Two at most? Emma smiles with narrowed eyes and gives her a kiss on the forehead before getting away from her. The hardest thing she remembers ever doing. She puts on her pants barely seeing where she have to put her legs and gets into the shirt, not without effort.

With her shoes buttoned, she leans towards Regina, who notices her presence, opens one eye and smiles:

"Hey..."

"Rest, beautiful." Emma mutters, stooping to be at her height. She expands her asleep smile and whispers: "I love you..." So soft, so blunt. She gets to the Mayor's lips and when she breaks the kiss, Regina's smile lights up the entire room. "See you now…."

"See you." She replies with stiff throat. She wants to believe that this is not the happiest moment of her life, that it's not the awakening she has always dreamed of. But no, sleeping and waking up with Emma is more than she has ever wished for.

The dream is slowly coming back to her. But before she closes her eyes, her mind sluggishly takes an idea to her mind: Emma... opening her window…. She turns her face and looks at the Savior.

"Emma, where are you going?"

"To the loft…"

"But you know you no longer need to leave out the window,, right? You can use the door..."

"Oh, yes, yes..." She puts the leg that was outside the glass down and closes the curtains.

Regina smile, rogue. "You could use a little more sleep when you get there..."

"Without a doubt..."


 

Sleeping is precisely what Emma's doing. Sleeping after appearing on the loft with freshly made croissants from the bakery. Sleeping after checking the entire house continues silent. Sleeping without even undressing or erasing her smile.

But she sleeps so much that she ends up being late to Granny's. It doesn't matter that Henry gets in her bedroom excited screaming that it's time, she says, yes, yes, and falls back asleep. Not even Snow's friendly and affectionate greeting, sitting beside her with concern disguised of good morning, works. She shakes her daughter, ensures that she opens one eye and when she sees her yawning and smiling, leaves the room a little calmer. At least she has come back home safely after last night's escapade.

It's David who finally manages to get her out bed when he says it's already 10. Embarrassed and weak, Emma dresses at full speed. By the time they go out the door, she realizes the true time and yells angrily that's not even 9:30 and his father runs down the stairs laughing, fleeing her daughter's morning fury.

Still, the diner is full when park next to the building and Emma notices that they are the only ones missing. Even Regina is already there, sitting at the bar, away from the hubbub and side eyeing Red. The wolf is leading the meeting again and begins with explanations when she sees them appear. David, Snow and Henry try not draw much attention staying by the door. Emma, meanwhile, makes a small diversion and stealthily slides up to the bar.

Regina is the only one attentive to her. Her eyes have seen her since she enteredd and now enjoy Emma just a couple of yards away. The Savior smiles and raises her chin in greeting.

"Hey," Regina whispers in response "Have we overslept?"

"Does that mean I'm awake now?" She asks quietly.. "Why do I have a horrible face and you seem fresh out of a spa?"

Red continues to give instructions in thebackground, but Emma already knows the information in advance, they will travel the remaining unexplored terrain, and Regina doesn't really give a shit.

"I used a very powerful magic."

Emma raises both eyebrows, it's not the answer she would expect from this Regina. She asks, almost fearfully: "Which one?"

Flicking tongue, she can't suppress the looming playful smile: "Coffee."

"I think I liked you better when you weren't that funny..."

"You are such a lousy liar, Sheriff..." She purrs, causing the words slide, too suggestively. Emma licks her lips and Regina rolls her eyes searching for Granny before things get out of hand. She crosses her eyes with the elderly's and wordlessly points at her cup and asks for a second cup of coffee. The Mayor watches dumbfounded as Granny smiles friendly, almost mischievous, and nods. "Granny just smiled at me."

"You think she likes you?" She gets a an elbow in her side. "Ow!" She complains, and attracts the attention of one or two neighbors.

"Granny and smile is not something that goes ever together when it comes to me."

Emma does the math before even having the steaming cup in front of her. She smiles to Granny in appreciation and confirms her theory when the older woman looks at them alternately before returning to keep listening to her granddaughter.

"She knows."

"What do you mean?"

"She knows you and me get stick on the sheets together..." she whispers, adoring that little drop of color that seeps into the Mayor's cheeks. She's asking for more information, silent and alone with her eyes. "It must have been Red. Not exactly the most discreet person of the town, and she is her family..." She adds taking a small sip that tastes heavenly. Coffee is definitely white magic. "Or maybe it's because she how your eyes shone when I came in, who knows." Regina moves threatening and instantly Emma covers to protect herself."No, not another elbow, I'll drop the coffee!"

Snow can't hear anything of that conversation. Neither she nor anyone else on the diner. Regina and Emma maintain the logical distance between two adults eating breakfast in the cafe bar for the duration of the meeting. They don't speak over the noise of the room while Red addresses everyone and distributes tasks. They are not even playing. But when one of the two turns to the other, Snow reaches to see their faces, how they look at each other, that smile that Regina had locked away for the last thirty years... She repeats over and over again that she'll used to it. But she hasn't been entirely successful for now. She grabs David's arm and all her energies turn on listening to Red and stopping to observe like a stealthy stalker.

So the last thing she expects is, at the end of Red's speech Red, Regina's hand on her shoulder. Snow's face summarizes the surprise and Regina clears her throat and takes it out. Emma, near them, observes the exchange.

"Can we talk?" The question is addressed to the couple, not only her old nemesis, and this time the surprise also moves David's face. The couple fails to answer and Regina takes the chance to smile at her son and kiss his hair. "Good morning, Henry."

"Hi, Mom."

"Is this about Emma?" Snow's response is halfway between a question and a statement.

"No!" Both women answer in unison. Dozens of people move around them, going for breakfast or preparing for their expedition. But for the five of them there's no one else, just that awkward and uncomfortable moment. Except for Henry. H's not uncomfortable, one might even consider he's happy. Their mothers and grandparents speaking as allies. And what's even better, seeing them so ashamed is very funny.

"It's... iit's about Cora."

Three words that cut the air.

"I knew it..." Henry takes the word. "It was her, right? The one from NeverLand. Is she alive?"

Emma stirs his hair with a sigh: "Wait boy, you better speak outside, we don't want to scare anyone else."

The alley is deserted and free from prying ears. Nobody seems to notice them, as if now it were more common to see them together rather than separate.

"What?" Snow's voice almost hesitates. Cora is an issue that stirs her worst demons and shakes her biggest regrets.

"We believe that my mother helped orchestrate the Henry's kidnapping and the whole Greg and Tamara operation."

"What? How? Before she died?"

"That's the worst part..." Emma mumbles. "We suspect her death was a trick, a cover up."

"That's impossible, I..." Snow's voice and her eyes throttled down to ground level.

"You were a pawn of her plan, Snow. I went to his grave, no trace of her corpse."

"I do not get it…"

"Cora needed that we thought her dead to return to Neverland and you were the perfect opportunity. Rumpel was sick and you already knew the power of that candle, she just needed to push you to use it and the rest fall under its own weight. " She's been twenty-four hours mulling over this. Her mother's vile and disgusting signature is printed on every play and every spin of the plan. "She wants me to become her Evil Queen again, I'm sure. And there was no better way to get it that make me lose my mother at your hands and also kidnap and hurt my last glimpse of humanity." She arranges her hair and takes a deep breath. "It was the perfect plan."

"Except that she didn't count on you not being a monster anymore."

Regina opens her eyes, and looks at her. That's a statement you would expect from Emma. Even from the unconditional love of his son. But not hers. Snow never. She fails to answer. David does it for her.

"Exactly. And if she's waiting for us with any other ace in the hole, we are forewarned."

The Mayor looks at them, intrigued, silent, near fainting. So this is what it feels like when ypu are trusted? When you play in a team? Is this what happens when you have allies and not terrified subjects? For a moment, she forgets that she's not corny or weak, and enjoys the heat that's installed on her chest, that warm and addictive feeling. She decides she likes and vows to fight to maintain it.

Emma scratches her neck, awkward in the silence that begins to settle between them: "We must get going."

"Yes, of course..." Snow looks around. From the alley they can see the latest parties dividing their goals and they are late again. "I'll go to the east. David, we'll meet halfway, okay? And you two... well, I suppose you'll go together, right " She hesitates, looking intermittently at the couple. Suddenly, that sensation of heroes talking about the next threat has disappeared and they are once more a mother against her daughter and the woman she escapes at night to sleep with...

"Yes, because yesterday's terrains were..." Emma responds, with the same embarrassed and forced naturalness. David and Snow say goodbye with weird smiles and Regina twists her mouth, guiltily amused.

"We'll come for you as soon as we finish, Henry." She holds his neck with a gentle squeeze and both women walk with him the few yards that separate him from the diner. The Mayor doesn't lose detail of Henry's steps and Emma doesn't need to hear the sigh she holds back to know how much she misses him. Sometimes she forgets that Henry has gone to live with them, abandoning Regina's mansion.. And surely, even though sge no longer has any restriction to visit him, nothing is the same as living under the same roof with her son. And much less having to be limited to see him only for a few minutes, after spending all afternoon and night separated from him.

They turn a couple of streets, walking towards the Toll Bridges before diverteing to the area with the thickest vegetation.

"We are not exploring, are we?"

Emma's suspicion brings a smile to Regina.

"Of course not."

"Are you going to try to turn me into Harry Potter?"

"Yes, because Hermione is too feminine for you."

"Now I understand where the Evil Queen title comes from." She grumbles, hurt.

Regina's laughter adorns his eyes. "Once we reach an inconspicuous esplanade we'll continue with the lessons,, is that okay?"

"I'm dying to do it." She mutters without any security. Regina's lips twist into a defiant smile, clearly yelling "chicken". But Emma can't deny that. Although perhaps there's something in her favor, something that can soften her harsh teacher. "I have to go back to the car to pick the phone..." She suddenly jumps.

Regina's eyebrow is raised as a question.

"I promise that it's not an excuse to escape." She replies, offended and amused at the same time. "Go ahead, I'll catch you before you reach the bridge."

"You better hurry..." Even menacing she sounds provocative. In fact, it's one of her most evocative facets. Emma gets closer to give her a frugal kiss that leaves her with that taste on her lips and wanting more.

"Try not to miss me too much..." She whispers, trotting away whiles Regina's eyebrow curves to the very top and her arms crossed on her chest. The next ten minutes the Mayor walks slowly, almost like a sloth. She doesn't want to go far, she doesn't want to get too soon to the Toll Bridge. She tells herself that it's because she hates to wait. But meanwhile her Jiminy Cricket inside whispers that it may have more to do with the fact that she doesn't want Emma to be late. To walk next to that insufferable and mouthy Sheriff wakes a worm inside that turns off and goes to sleep if she walks alone.

For eleven and a half minutes, although she's not counting, she kicks a couple of stones, listening to other explorers walk a few yards from her and she begins to see in the distance the silhouette of the bridge over the river. At eleven minutes and fifty seconds, also without keeping track, she turns instinctively. Emma is just yards away, about to reach her. But she's not coming alone. That phone she has gone to collect has a human form, that of a 13 years old child.

"Henry! But what…?"

Emma shrugs herself delighted with herself at the surprise reflected in the Mayor's eyes. "If we are not going to explore and know that the town is not in danger, I thought there was no reason to leave him there." Regina doesn't say a word, but when Henry curls to her waist, affectionate, she looks at Emma over her son's head and her gaze spells Thanks.

"Mom! Emma says we're going to do magic, is it true? "

"She will do magic." She explains, returning the hug. "You're going to help me be patient with her and not turn her into some kind of critter."

"Great!" He exclaims, and walk to the bridge in a hurry. "Come on, let's go!"

"Miss Swan, are you so afraid my lessons that you need to bring reinforcements?" She hisses softly and intentionally. Emma looks at her, amused. "Or maybe you were afraid the I'd resort to the methods I used yesterday? " The Savior's smile freezes and her eyes shine with a certain memory. "For now, you're saved, but we'll see about that tonight ..." She growls, following the quick steps of the child.

Emma takes deep breath, assimilating that Regina has a very particular way of thanking things: getting her horny. She may need a few ounces of ice, but she wouldn't mind getting used to it.

"Magic, magic, magic!" Henry shouts, excited, in the distance, crossing the bridge.


 

"Emma... why aren't you doing magic ?!" The enthusiasm and joy in Henry's voice fades with the Savior's each futile attempt to transform a stone into a puddle of water. Now every time he articulates the word magic, this is accompanied by a little boredom or a yawn. They have been watching her for a while. And the only progress in more than three hours is a small sweat around the stone, as if it too were getting tired instead of becoming water.

"I'm trying, Henry..."

"That's the problem, you try... you think, you meditate and you try to do it." Regina mutters. "Remember the first lesson, you won't do magic until you stop thinking and start to want."

Emma, arms upraised, dejected, takes a breath: "It must be that I think too much..."

"And here I always had the impression of the opposite..." The Sheriff turnssideways, looking angry. Very angry. And she gets that beautiful mischievous smile. "Come on, relax."

Emma shakes her arms, closes her eyes, breathes out ... and listens Henry's foot rhythmically hitting the ground. Waiting, bored. She turns around and the child immediately stops beating. She begins to doubt whether bringing Henry with her was a good idea. But seeing Regina sat with him, surrounding his shoulders lovingly and seizing the moment he has with her child is enough to know that she has done well.

Although Henry is like a twig constantly hitting his ribs, adding even more pressure to her lesson.

She closes her eyes, tries to redirect her mind, her energies, her control in one direction. She focuses on the stone and orders it to be diluted. Already. Now. Immediately.

But nothing.

"I'm bored..." Henry says, giving a little jump and standing up. Emma snorts delighted with her son's patience and Regina laughs muttering something like "go to play". The small boy runs delighted to fulfill his mission, looking for a tree, a pole or anything with which to entertain himself. The Mayor instead walks up to Emma.

"Hey..." She whispers. A simple sound that sounds sweet, funny and very understanding. Facets that are becoming perennial rather than unimaginable regarding the Mayor.

"Hey..." Emma repeats, scratching her head.

"I think you don't know what to do or where to start, right?"

"You think well..." She moisten her lips. "I want to, I really do. But this is as foreign to me as trying to paint an impressionist painting. I don't know how or what to do."

"All that is within you, don't worry..."

"I know, but I can't use my own free will. It has its own life and that's not controlling it..."

"It's okay. The first thing is to identify what you have to control. And above all, stop pushing yourself. You almost have it and this will only manage to get you blocked... "

Emma crosses her arms and faces her. Serious and worried: "Who are you and what have you done with my Ice Mayor?"

"Ha-ha, Emma, very mature, very funny..." She adds clucking and deposing her attentive attitude.

"Sorry, sorry ..." She replies, laughing. "I love this Regina ..." And this time any joke is out of orbit in her voice. She fondles her chin, smiles gratefully and drops a kiss on her lips as tender as the Evil Queen's attitude.

She licks her lips, while she forgives her.. "You, sweet talker..." She growls, stealing a second kiss more careful and slow. One of those that make her cringe and smile. "Now I want you to listen only to me." She whispers to her ear, turning around her. "In order to handle magic, you must feel it... It slips inside you, through your body, like your blood. And you get decide how. "

"I'm not able to distinguish..."

"Not yet..." She mumbles and Regina's hand, charged with all her magic ilands on Emma's shoulder. The Sheriff presses her lips, closes your eyes and tilts her head to the hand. She's not trying to provoke her, this is not anything sexual or tempting. It's Regina's calling Emma's, it's a small stream sliding to her shoulder. Warm, sparkling, inexplicable. It's her own magic responding to the call.

Regina takes her hand away and moves two fingers to the opposite shoulder blade. The magic moves with a ticklish whiplash. It leaves a trail in its path and pursues the witch's fingers. When these slide to the center of Emma's backbone, the stream has already increased its size. Every time more magic plays to follow Regina's fingers, and the Savior, without closing her eyes, is able to see, to imagine it. With a second touch on her waist, Emma's body trembles and shakes in anticipation as an overloaded stack. Ready to explode.

Regina moves her hands to Emma's shoulders. The Savior's torrent of magic splits in two, shakes her column and squirms in her arms. Regina's last touch is subtle, perfect. It glides fast from her shoulders to her arms, and Emma knows instantly what to do. She notices her magic galloping at Regina's orders directly to her hands and she raises them. When it goes through the last of the phalanges, Emma wishes with all her might that that stone is crystal clear water. And it happens.

For a few seconds she retains the shape and silhouette of the stone. But it's water. An immense amount of water that remains on hold, with rough and solid appearance, before spreading in several liters splashing around.

"Wow!" Emma turns to her son, following his voice, and finds him on a mound of earth, with a branch in hand and watching her with eyes open. "That was incredible!" he runs to the pond where the rock had been and stirs water with the stick. "Can you repeat it?"

"I had some help..." She admits, thoughtfully. But the Regina's proud smile and the torrent still sloshing around her limbs give her some confidence. "But I believe I can."

"All right!"

She faces the following rocks without Regina's touch on her back. It takes a little longer. But she does it. She seeks her magic, creates that river of power that swims inside her body and washes her hands with energy. The first stone liquefies in parts, like the second one. The third, although a little smaller, becomes a gelatinous puddle. The fourth hardly resists. And from the fifth on, Emma loses count and recovers her smile.

When they return to the town, Emma doesn't know how many rocks she has make disappear from the forest that day but her body tingles with an unknown feeling. Henry trots happy between his mothers, repeating again and again how impressive it was, even if it's just liquified stones. And Regina enjoys watching them both happy, each in their own way.

"Tomorrow we'll try something harder?"

"Yes…"

"How to turn rocks into flowers?"

"Maybe…"

"Or how to make trees dance?"

"Perhaps…"

"Or maybe she could...?"

"Henry, it should be the one pestering your mother, not you." Emma stops him before he offers a single example more

"Yes, sorry ..." He sighs a second before returning to smile. "It has been great."

And Emma can't help but smiling like hi. Henry's excitement is more contagious than he is annoying and, in the end, the child Emma hides inside her is also bouncing with joy at the progress she has achieved. So she can't blame him. He's absolutely right: it's been great.

She touches her stomach, and the roar of her guts accompanies the gesture: "Is this inhuman hunger normal?"

"Not to mention that we skipped the food, yes, it's absolutely normal." Regina crosses the bridge next to Emma and closely followed by Henry. "Magic spends strengths and energy... And while you train and learn to master it, it absorbs more energy from you.."

"That is, I have to go to the gym to be a witch."

Regina flicks her tongue, side eyes her and patiently answers her funny little joke: "Something like that."

The town is getting closer and the trio is mixed with other groups of people returning from the forest. They all walk to Granny's diner like a flock that gathers quietly, without sheepdogs. For once, Regina doesn't notice anyone avoiding her. Nobody keeps distances with them, people walk beside them, go past them and greet them as any other neighbors. As if Regina were one of their own. In fact, she is. So she feels... and it's wonderful. She walks proud, quiet, comfortable and without imagining that she would enjoy so much the feeling of being a person like any other in Storybrooke.

"I like that smile..."

Emma's words slip between the hubbub of people around the diner. But they are for Regina, and as such only she hears them. Only she enjoys them. And she responds with a playful smile.

"Speaking of smiles, wait for the one I hope tear from you tonight, Sheriff ..." She mumbles, softly, almost a purr. But Emma hears it perfectly. She bites her lip and clenches his fists. "I see we understand each other..." She adds with a Machiavellian innocence before all three are absorbed by these that fill the room.

The second evening is not much more fruitful than the previous one. Emma doesn't even feel guilty for not having explored. There's nothing new to explore. The town is no longer just Storybrooke, it has some parts of the Enchanted Forest, but not too much and that helps little or nothing to solve the mystery.

Ruby, in front of all this expedition, tries not to feel helpless. The lack of results is not her fault, she repeats to herself over and over again. But it's still infuriating. She addressed to everyone in general and no one in particular. She tries to keep her spirits up and smile when she speaks:

"You all have done a great job. Let's stop the explorations for now and organize neighborhood patrols. It's important to be aware of any changes, to see why it happens or what causes it. Volunteers can sign up on the bar. Granny, would you take the names? "

While the list thickens, people disappear from the diner. The absence of threat has not prevented the workload. Two days walking the edges of the town and all its surface have has its effect people who want to go to sleep. The complex Charming-Swan-Mills family leaves the place calling in each of the three cars. The first, with David and Snow, starts heading home. Henry says goodbye to Neal and then reaches Emma and Regina. In the second one, the yellow bug, mother and son drive. The first one says goodbye to the Mayor with the accomplice gesture of two lovers who know tacitly they'll see each other in a few hours. Henry, however, does so wishing her good night, knowing that he won't see her until the next day. The last car, Regina's, starts its way to a big house, empty and too quiet but somehow not so lonely. On the way up she makes a brief stop, she buys a sweet and cold lambrusco, and continues to drive up home.


 

Storybrooke is so damn quiet that more than once, Emma wonders why the houses have locks. She has never used the key to her portal and the one of the loft just twice. And that was when David and Mary Margaret began their secret affair and she impetuosity forced them to lock the door.

That explains why that night Emma's shoulder hits stupidly when pushing the handle and assuming that the apartment door will just open. But it doesn't and she bounces back. Henry watches how she tries to remember which of the keys worked on that door and Emma prays every divine being she knows that her parents haven't gotten friendly and are hard at work.

She manages to find the right key, but before turning it for the second time, the sound of the lock stops her movements and the door opens hastily from the inside.

"Oh, Emma!" A scary Snow exclaims. The Savior does a quick count of garments and concludes that her mother has everything on. At least yet. "What a shock!"

"Shock? We live here, right?" There is more irony than questioning. "Why are you surprised?"

Snow steps aside, letting them enter and she opens your mouth twice before answering: "I thought you wouldn't come here."

Emma doesn't understand anything. "But we were behind your car." Snow reopens her mouth but says nothing and the Savior turns to Henry, taking hisl jacket. "Go and wash your hands."

"I know..." Snow recovers speech while from the kitchen, David joins the conversation looking from one to another but without adding anything else. In the background, crooning and opening the tap, she can hear Henry. "But you have spent the day with Regina, I thought maybe you two had plans..."

"But you saw us saying goodbye to her..."

Snow shrugs, feeling foolish. "We felt that you were doing that as a disguise."

Her mother's discomfort is contagious and her words begin to fail. Why have they assumed all of that? "Hmmm, no, not really..." She clears her throat.

"Then you'll have dinner here and... then you escape out the window around 11?"

Caught. Emma squeezes her eyes, presses her lips and wrinkled her nose. "I…"

"You're a big girl, it's not a reproach." Snow replies hurriedly, looking away from her daughter towards the casserole David is taking to the fire. "But ... you don't need to do that."

"You could just not go." Her husband adds, loving himself for his idea.

"What your father means..." She shuts him up with the tone of her voice and reproaching him with a stare, "is that we prefer you to walk out the door, although we don't love the idea,, okay?"

"I don't know what to say. I am pleased, of course... but now I could also die of shame."

"I know..." She mumbles. "I don't much better..."

"So you thought that..."

"Yes, that you would have dinner with Regina, the three of you together, or whatever..."

Emma recapitulates. "You wouldn't care? Neither of you..." She mutters, deliberately including her father. "Are you okay with this?"

"They would like it..." David argues, wagging the casserole energically. "Henry and Regina, I mean. I'm sure." He doesn't smile, but neither is her peppering her with a reproachful look. And Emma, adding his words, is satisfied.

"Thanks, really." And he says that heartily. She's aware of her parents' herculean effort. "I know this is not what you had dreamed for your daughter... but it means a lot to me."

"Shut up and run before I tie you to the chair." David mutters. But when Emma's eyes cross with his father's, she finds a small but sympathetic smile.

Henry, oblivious to everything and with clean hands, break the moment from the hall.

"What's for dinner?"

"What do you think if we pick up a pizza and have dinner with Regina?"

Henry sits in the chair with a teasing smile and shakes his hand. "You're just kidding..." He mumbles, convinced. When six pairs of adult eyes focus on him, confused, it's Henry who feels weird. "Seriously? ¿Pizza, with Mom?" Emma shrugs, implies that's the case. "And you are okay with that?" Henry turns on seat, staring at them, stunned.

"Of course." Snow. answers. And she even sounds convinced.

"Yes, of course I want to, come on!" He's out the loft with his jacket in hand almost at the same speed he came in. The last thing tSnow and David see is the head of their daughter disappearing through the door, smiling and murmuring a heartfelt: "Thank you."

Snow, again, locks the door, convinced that this time, no one will enter the apartment tonight.


 

If Regina had paid attention to the signs, she would have noticed it much earlier. But no. She didn't notice the lonely sound on the asphalt. Or the movement of the gravel yard. Or the strange smell of pepperoni and cheese coming from nowhere. Not even the silent laughters and mild hush for silence. No, Regina doesn't notice anything.

And so, when the bell rings at night in the silence of her home, she leaps on the couch and holds a cry. Totally unworthy of a cold and terrible evil witch. The initial panic recedes and Regina, her heart in her mouth, explains to herself that night monsters don't ring the bell and warn. No, this is rather the work of another kind of monster, one that looks out the window, laughing innocent and amused at his mother's shock.

"Henry ?!" She recognizes her child's face behind the glass and forgets to get angry. She puts aside the blanket that covers her and runs fast to the entrance, with the figure of her son leaping to her too. But behind door, there's someone else..

"Sorry, have we scared you?"

"You know you have, Miss Swan." She crosses her arms keeping all the dignity keeping her homespun pants allow her. She was going to changed, to wait for Emma clad in a sexy and incredibly uncomfortable nightgown as if she actually used to sleep like that. But the damn Sheriff has spoiled her master plan, as always. "What are you doing here?"

Henry smiles from ear to ear. He believes it's obvious, right? But he loves to say it, so he answers: "We're dinner with you, and we bring pizza!" He shows it as if it were a museum piece and Regina can't help but smile with him. They have come to have dinner with her, he just said that, right? She won't have dinner alone nor will she be waiting for the second round of "Emma's attentions". She will be accompanied, no need for stealthiness. Is that possible?

"Come in, hurry, and set things." She offers, stepping aside while Henry flies to the dining room. She's face to face Emma and there's something she needs to hear: that this is not a mirage, that she can fully enjoy the moment. "And your parents? Or have you two left using the window? "

Emma smiles and Regina too, inadvertently. "You fool..." The Savior walks but she doesn't head to the dining room, she heads towards the Mayor. "They seemed okay. In fact, they were the ones who came up with the idea, in their own way... "

"In their own way?"

"I'll explain ... won't you invite me in?"

Regina is stable under the doorframe. "Let me think about it..." But the kiss Emma produces annihilates her breath and lets her neurons in stand by. The Savior's tongue licks her lips and Regina feels a million things, but none of them invites her to think. "Very convincing, indeed..." She mutters with her eyes closed and stepping away from the door. When she opens them, she closes the door and can hardly believe that Emma's silhouette is waiting for her in the hallway to go inside together. And much less that Henry is waiting in the dining room. Like the old times. As a family would do...

She could cry. Oh god, she could... but she refuses to spoil that moment with explanations of why she's crying like a baby and sniffling without remedy. So she holds back, takes a deep breath, and walks towards her. She allows herself only a smile. But in it, all the happiness she feels intertwines and pokes, and Emma, seeing her smile like that, feels that she falls a little more in love with Regina.


 

Two soft fingers caress Emma's cheek. Her body is moving while asleep, fast asleep. With a second stroke, she begins to leave her drowsiness and a third, very close to the eyes, forces her to open them.

"Good morning." Regina's quiet voice is the fourth caress that receives her and the one that awakens her. Emma smiles but dives beneath the pillow, hiding from the sunlight. "Hey, sleepyhead, get back here." She takes away the pillow and then the sheet when Emma tries to use it as a shield as well. "The Saviors can't be lazy-asses."

"Lies." She replies and turns around, resigned to not linger more. "Where is that written on?" She mumbles, stretching. "What are you doing, already dressed?"

"I've gone for some breakfast... fresh churros. Do you fancy them?"

She frees her legs from the tangle of sheets and sits up like driven by a spring. "You really know how to take a woman out of bed."

"Oh yeah?" She shows some tenderness and remains standing in front of her.

"Yes, but you are even better at taking them into it..." She wields a sexy and somewhat sleepy face but that's enough for Regina to fall under the spell of her charms. The Mayor laughs and blushes but her answer is a slow, intricate kiss.. "You taste weird..."

"Blood, maybe?" She asks, touching her lips and looking at her fingertips. Emma stops for a second and meditates. Is that it? Her mind is too doughy and asleep, so she concludes that it's just that, the iron taste. "I have a small wound."

"In the lip? What for?"

Regina's eyes are a full-fledged accusation: "Guess."

Emma's guilty soft laughter combines with her voice. "Forgive me, I promise not to be so... intense next time." Regina raises one eyebrow. "Okay, I'll try not to make you bleed ... or cure you afterwards, at least."

"Oh, great, now I feel much safer." She crosses her arms and manages to get Emma laughing even more, and she with the Savior. "Come on, get dressed, we'll wait for you downstairs.."

"Henry is also on his feet? Okay..." She runs her fingers through her hair, combing is the savage locks, but that stirs it even more. Regina considers her a lost cause, although she has at least managed to make her move.. She turns on herself, walks to the door and before leaving, the sound of a phone reverberates through the room. It's on the table at the entrance of the bedroom, and both women stare at him, still. Until Emma, from the bed, asks amused: "Would you bring it to me?"

"Oh, yes, yes, of course ..." She answers, coming back to herself. She reaches the phone and gives it to the Sheriff. Ruby's number shines on the screen and before she can pick up, Regina has already left the room. She doesn't even have time to thank her, and she's so quiet that she doesn't hear her go down the stairs.

"Good morning, early bird version of Ruby."

"Emma! Still sleeping? "

"I wish..." She writhes on the bed, getting comfortable over the sheets. "But between ones and the others, they are making it difficult for me."

"Yes, I still remember your mother's early-morning energy..."

"No, this time she had nothing to do with it."

"... David?"

"No, Ruby." She doesn't intended to hide herself, nor does she see why she should do so. "The early-morning energy had a more regal touch..."

"Did you sleep with Regina?!"

"I think half the town heard your question, but yes."

"In your house?"

" Of course not, are you crazy? "

"Crazy… Your mother is going to get crazy if she finds out."

Emma's fingers close on the bridge of her nose and she rubs her brow trying to scratch a little patience. "She already knows,, Ruby."

"Oh yeah?" And he hasn't burst in anger? "

"Well, no..."

"Well, well, that's nice, right?"

"Yes, fantastic." She sighs over the phone.

"And David?"

"As well."

"Ah, great... that's great."

"Ruby, you wanted to...?"

"And ... you don't feel… weird?"

"Sorry?"

Ruby keeps talking and Emma doesn't understand how she hasn't noticed the danger note in her voice. Her patience fades with every word of the wolf: "Yes, no offense, you know what I mean. You, with Regina, alone ... don't you feel a little ... a little...? "

"Scared?"

"Exactly!"

"No, Ruby, not scared at all.. Just lust... do you want to go into details? "

"No!"

"Yes, that's what I thought..." She adds victorious. "What you called for, Ruby?"

"Oh, yes... I was wondering if I could count with you for the watch patrol today." She rasps and Emma secretly enjoys her discomfort. Ruby has pissed her off and at this moment there she doesn't want to. She takes her time to answer. "... Or maybe tomorrow?"

"Better tomorrow, yes"

"Okay, I'll write it down the ..."

"Perfect Ruby, see you."

"See you…"

The sound of the button hanging up is and Emma throws the phone against the mattress. She meant her words when she insisted with Snow that she would defend Regina and would do so delighted. But she didn't expect to have to do it so soon... She hasn't even gotten out of bed and nonsense was already starting.

With a little push,she leaves the bed behind but not the buzz the conversation with Ruby has caused. She doesn't understand how they can be so closed-minded... and even less when she gets downstairs and finds the most tender and innocent scene possible. Regina sprinkles cinnamon on a freshly cooked chocolate and Henry, sitting next to her, licks his lips. No one who saw that moment could look askance at the Mayor.

Regina senses her presence before she even enters the kitchen and welcomes her with a smile: "You woke up."

"Good morning, Mom!" Henry exclaims with a brown moustache..

"I blame it on the churros... I can't resist them." She smiles sideways and walks over to them. "Hi, kid."

"How did you know there were churros?" Henry asks, while taking one and making half of it disappear in one bite.

Emma sits beside him and takes her own churro. "A little bird told me."

Regina raises an eyebrow and exchanges an amused look with Henry, before sitting next to them. "Eat before your child leaves you with nothing."

"He doesn't who he's facing." And this time, it's Emma who's devouring half a churro eagerly, ushering in a greasy and fun competition. But Regina has already learned to read the small signs that Emma drops occasionally as small crumbs. The Savior is thoughtful, despite the jokes she indulges with her son, and Regina waits until Henry gets up from the table to ask.

"What's happening to you?"

"To me?" And she even sounds convincing. "Nothing."

She tries another tactic.. "Before I thought you were talking to someone..."

"Yes, sure, to Ruby."

"Ah..." She replies, gaining time to remember if the wolf had some unfinished business with Emma. But nothing obvious comes to memory. "And what's bothering you has to do with her?"

"Nothing's bothering me..." she sighs stirring the spoon in her coffee. "Well, maybe."

"What did she say?"

"It's how she said it..." She takes a sip and shakes her head "It's stupid."

"Emma..."

"She asked me if I wasn't afraid." Regina eyebrows raise. "I said I was at home, sleeping with you, and she asked if that didn't frighten me."

Regina lets out a half laugh, resigned, amused. What can you ask from these simple and plain tale characters? "She's having a hard time dealing with the idea… that's all."

"It'd be normal to just get shocked by our thing. What's not normal it is that she still finds you suspicious."

"Don't blame her. Old habits die hard." She smiles frankly, but a melancholic drop slips in her voice. Emma gets up to face her. Regina continues to sit on the sidewalk and the height of the Savior forces her to turn her neck up to look at her. "What?"

"I regret every time I mistrusted you, every time I wasn't but another cretin that gave my back to you because I could not see beyond my nose." She looks at her with such assurance, with such determination, that Regina thinks she can read in her light eyes the anger aEmma feels about herself.

"That sounds like guilt and apology, Miss Swan."

"It's so, Madame Mayor." She whispers, stroking her face. "I'm really sorry."

It drops onto that hand and allows Emma to cuddle her the with a sweet caress. "Thank you, Emma, really." She swallows deep and lets the butterflies in her stomach fly happily, calmy, bouncing. "But you don't have to do it, I've done what I've done and I wasn't someone to be trusted."

"You're wrong." She kneels to be at her height and moves her hand up to her chin. "That was a long time ago, you are no longer that person and I'll make sure that every stone of Storybrooke hears it." Regina bites her lip and Emma lets out a mischievous smile. "Or else I'll use my magic, I'll turn them into water and problem solved."

Regina's watery eyes squint into laughter and she laughs uncontrollably. "I don't know if I trust your domain with magic, but thanks. Really." She smiles peaceful, serene, with an untouchable happiness, but she feels that her words are lame. Something is missing. But Emma's mouth on hers stops her thoughts, words, the desire to worry about anything and she devotes herself to that kiss she has been desiring all morning. A mixture of slow passion and sweet recognition that awakens her pulse.

As they part, Emma smacks her lips and Regina smiles, rogue. But a second later brown eyes blink longer than normal and the Mayor touches her own forehead with a limp hand. She briefly leans back against the chair and sighs.

"Regina, are you okay?" Emma's arm is already around her shoulders and her other hand raises her chin, worried.

"Yes, yes..." She mutters recovering and blinking until her body returns to normal. The first thing that crosses her view is Emma's face beside her, worried and serious, and yet tender. "It was just a small brownout, silly. Be calm, I'm fine."

"Don't scare me like that..."

"You alarmist." She jokes leaving a chaste kiss on her sulky mouth. "Don't you think you're going to get rid of your lesson today."

"Yu-hu-huuuu..." She exclaims without much energy, earning Regina's reproach and a raised eyebrow. "I take it back, take it back, I really want to." She smiles with an innocently air hard to believe, but Regina knows that, despite the ongoing jokes, she's serious about this.. Emma is an open book, and she loves to get lost in her pages.

She stands up without trace of the dizziness, and starts giving orders, as befits a bossy and authoritarian Mayor. "I will prepare Henry and we'll be on our way. Don't try to flee."

"I've already said that Evil Queens don't scare me..." It's a full-fledged purring and Regina approaches her mouth, smiling.

"All the better for me." She pats her butt, startling her, and escapes up the stairs, leaving her pining for that kissus interruptus. "Ten minutes, Savior."

"Yes, Evil Mayor..." Her sulky tone doesn't prevent her eyes from following her, dazzled, step by step until she loses sight of her.


 

Human being is a creature of habit and, for that reason, Emma walks towards that area they used as training camp the last two times. Besides, it's a safe place. The exploration troops already recorded it and the volunteers doing their guards won't interrupt or bother them. So she follows the path through the undergrowth she already knows by instinct and opens the way for the rest of the exploration party,, which is limited to Henry and Regina.

The boy is collecting various treasures like a normal round stone and a stick with which to entertain himself in case his mother takes hours to start doing some magic again. Regina, meanwhile, walks unhurriedly, quietly, looking around. She doesn't want to worry anyone, so she saves for herself that fly that sneaks into her eyes, like a black point that bothers her sight, or that feeling of heaviness in her head and her eyelids. Why would she worry them? She's not worried... It must be a small and incipient migraine, a little stronger than normal, nothing else. There's no need to bother about it.. If it worsens, a simple healing spell will suffice to remove the pain. For now, she should concentrate on walking and follow her son and Emma. They will soon arrive and she'll be able to sit down for a few minutes. Everything is fine... even though the sounds come to her senses faded, as if in a pool.

Emma's phone rings, the bell that signals a message, and Regina hears it clearly, but a little distorted. She doesn't ask who that is, she just follows Henry's steps t, silent, concentrating on walking, and watches as the Sheriff unlocks the phone and reads.

It's Ruby. And for a moment, Emma's afraid to get angry again or to read another load of nonsense, but the fumes quickly stoop at reading the first words:

"Sorry if I was a bit silly before... I didn't want to nag or imply that I have something against your thing with Regina, really. It kinda weird for me but I'm so happy for both of you and I trust you. XO."

It's an unusual apology, matching Ruby's personality, but it's enough for Emma. She smiles gratefully and recovers a little hope in the people of Storybrooke. It may be a long-haul task, but it's only a matter of time that they all end up accepting Regina. And Ruby is the living proof of that.

She turns around, proud of her friend and her message, full of desire to read it to Regina. But the phone falls from her hand. "Regina?"

The Mayor has stopped a few yards from her, stiff, still, and her arms holds Henry. One arm grabs the little boy, preventing him from moving, and the other covers his mouth.

"Regina, what are you doing?" She asks terrified, uncomprehending. But the honey eyes are cloudy and lost, looking at a spot nowhere. "Regina!"

Henry looks at her scared and tries to move, but the grip is relentless, too strong, to the point it hurts. She begs with her eyes,, but before she can't do anything, Regina pronounces two words in the air and disappears. "It's time."

And in her place there's nothing left. A small purple cloud that fades with the air currents and Emma, trembling, confused, terrified, yells: "REGINA!" But there's no one, no one hears her cry.

To be continued…

Chapter Text

The voice has been clear: "Come to the apple tree, the time has arrived" Yes, that has been what has asked the voice to do and she can't disobey it. Is an order and a plea and Regina is strangely obedient to it. After all there is nothing strange on having a voice on your head talking to you. No, she is slightly dizzy, slightly disorientated… but as far as she keeps obeying the voice everything will be ok.

Her body buzzes as she poofes herself and appears back on her home's games. It had been a while since she last apparated… quite a lot. Even if she doesn't quite remember when that had happened. Memories are still blurry. Even that garden looks weird. Is that her palace? Is that her patio and those are her flowers?

Yes, they must be, that's why her apple tree is there. And her father is there too.

"Hello, daughter" He smiles at her with that affectionate, protective tone of his that warms her body and fogs her mind a little more. He has something on his hand, a damp cloth. He walks towards her and moves his arm, bringing it to her. Then it comes to her; she is also holding something, someone. A boy. When her father comes closer the boy stirs and tries to hit her. He screams something against her hand but the sound doesn't reach her ears clear enough. Regina holds him stronger and her father puts the cloth in the boy's nose.

Seconds after that she is holding his dead relaxed weight with her arms.

"I will take care of him Regina"

"Yes…"

"Is time, you know it, right?" He asks while holding the boy, lowering to the grass, next to where they stand.

"Yes" She nods, calm and sure of herself. "For what?" She pouts, looking at him, trying to remember but in vain.

"Time for you to cast the curse dear. Time for your happy ending"

"Oh, yes… that" It makes sense, the ingredients are there, compiled on her bench, waiting to being used. Every single one except one. "We need the heart"

Her father's smile grows, self-assured, haughty. "I will take care of that. You only need the curse. Where is it?"

"In the crypt…" She never had had a crypt. Why would a sovereign want a vault to hide her things? But there is, a buzz on her head tells her as much.

Henry grabs the child by the sleeve and his other hand goes to Regina's hand. "Let's go then"

And with a thud the three of them disappear from the garden alongside with the ingredients.


Mary Margaret drives David's jeeps while her husband looks out of the window at the city that he has already seen a million times and looks exactly the same. Saying that this shift is boring is an understatement. He keeps nodding off against the window's glass, yawning like a lion. She feels a vibration breaking his routine of observing, yawn and dozing off and looks at his wife.

"Is my phone" Snow says "Pick it up, is on the backseat, somewhere…"

"There it is!" He screams turning towards her with the phone on his hand. "Is Emma…" He stares at the screen, surprised, as he reads it again, wanting to be sure that he has read it right.

"Pick her up then!" Snow exclaims at the wheel and David doesn't dare to contrary her so she answers it swiftly.

"Emma? Yes, I'm me. What? What happened? Wait, wait, where?"

In that moment Snow regrets to have tell him to answer and, more important, to not have tell him to put it on speaker. After two more seconds David hangs the call nervously.

"What happened?"

"I don't know. But we need to flee to Gold's shop, now"


Regina is a shadow of herself, a mere presence that floats more than walks out of intuition since she barely sees where she is going. Is that why Henry senior carries Henry junior on his arms as they step down the stairs towards the hidden room behind the vault. Regina, walking ahead, opens the doors and walks like an automat toward a small wooden chest. One that is as anodyne as it is especial.

The small and round eyes of the elderly man glint out of anticipation as he sees on his daughter's hands the little and old rolled up parchment.

"The curse…" He tastes the words he had been dreaming on saying them for so long.

"Yes…"

"Let's go to the well. I will prepare the ingredients my daughter and you will be able to work on the curse without a problem.

"Yes…" A word that for the mayor lacks signify or sense but pronounces because it must be this way. Is her the one who follows his father shadow back to the exit. Yet, she doesn't see how Henry's arms doesn't touch the child but the boy's body looks as if levitating against his body. Like magic…


The floor threatens to worn out under Emma's feet. She walks from one side to the other, restless and alone, looking at the watch every few minutes. She has called Gold, Neal and her parents but there has been ten minutes already and no one has appeared. Storybrooke are two roads and ten houses. How far they can truly be?

The first car, David's van, skids on the road and, as if they had decided on it, Gold's car enters the scene two roads away.

Emma is a caged animal that keeps walking in circles and for who the car's movements seem to be done in slow motion. She walks towards them even before they had parked, not caring about the danger of being run over. Snow sees her and comes down the driver's seat even more worried than before.

"What happened, sweetheart?" Three more doors thud as they are closed and Neal, Gold and David run towards them.

"Regina is in danger"

"What do you mean? What are we talking about?"

"I… I don't know" Her fingers run over her heard, pulling her tresses away from her face, trying to breathe. "We were at the forest with Henry and in a blink she was gone. She said something about how it was the hour, as if she was possessed. And then she disappeared."

Snow tries to understand the stammered and nervous words that come out of her daughter one by one and one in particular strikes her. "Wait, where is Henry?"

"She took him"

"That bitch! I will destroy her! That unexpected bark comes from Neal which attacks the already unnerved nerves of the savior. A moment later and he has Emma in top of him, with every bit of fury and nervousness she has been carrying visible.

"Over your dead body Neal, or mine" And he has the suspicion that she isn't exaggerating. "If you have only come here to say that stupidity it would better for you to go"

"Emma…" He speaks in a sotto voice, trapped between his own anger and the fear of seeing her almost alight with anger "If she touches Henry…"

"Regina is his mother; she would never hurt him. Why can't you understand something so simple?"

"You has said that she disappeared with him" He swallows, admitting that his good judgement could have been fogged for the hatred The Evil Queen produces on him.

"And she also appeared possessed and out of her mind"

"She… did she attack you?"

"No, she didn't. I doubt she was even aware of my presence. I screamed at her but she didn't even flinch" The memory brings an anxious feel with it and a bitter taste. "She has a blank look on her face, she wasn't herself. You need to believe me"

"You aren't trying to protect her, are you" David questions. The fair eyes now turn on him without mercy, are they stupid? "Ok, I'm sorry. I needed to be sure. Gold, does this seems like a hex or a curse you may know?"

"Dozens of them" Sighs the elderly man. "Without any more information and without seeing her I can't know what it is. I need for you to tell me everything you remember; we need to narrow our possibilities. There is something else that worries me though, who would want to do that to Regina?"

Neal bits down his need to scream "Exactly" at those words and is Snow the one who picks up her daughter's side. "Cora"

"Excuse me?" Rumple twirls his cane on his hand in a nervous tick. The only mention of that name is powerful enough for him to start sweating.

"She was the one behind Henry's kidnapping on Neverland"

"I beg your pardon?" He squeezes his cane's hold, if he did it a little stronger he would be able to break it.

"Yes, she didn't die when…"

Emma stops her mother "We don't the time for this. Explanations would need to wait. What we do now?"

"We need to find her… If I don't have her in front of me I won't be able to know how to help her"

Emma, crossing her arms, nods. "Okay, how do we find her?"

"I would have been able to track the magic traces down in the moment of her disappearance. Right now there must not be any traces of her power left"

"That doesn't help us… how about the potion that helps on finding things that had gotten lost?"

"That's why we are in front of my shop?" He asks amused by the sheriff's audacity. "I don't have more, I would need to prepare it and that would take hours"

"We don't have that time. More ideas?" No one answers her. "For God's sake, I've read your tales, I have ever seen you on the field. You are heroes fuck it! How many rescues do you have done? Do you really don't come up with anything?"

"Wait, and Ruby?" Snow proposes. "If she was able to distinguish Regina's essence on Emma she can surely find her track"

"Do you think she would be able?"

"She found Belle when she was kidnapped, why not this time?" adds David.

Emma doesn't need to listen to anything else. "Where do we find her?"


"You want me to do… what?"

"Find Regina, Ruby"

"But where has she gone?"

Emma scratches her forehead with a patience she doesn't exactly owns. They have been in the dinner for five minutes where Ruby coordinates the explorers that keep watch as she serves coffee from time to time. In those five minutes of conversation they hadn't managed for her to understand what they expect from her. And it doesn't seem that they are coming any closer.

"We don't know Ruby, that's why we need you"

"To find her"

"Exactly"

"Were you in the forest?"

Be patient….

"Yes"

"And did you see where did she run to?"

"Ruby, if she would have started running with Henry on her arms I would have been able to catch her" Emma sighs as the rest hold their breaths, fearing for her to bite the brunette's head off, turn towards them and asks in an overly sweetly voice: Any other options?

"Then, how did she do it?"

"She poofed, Ruby" And there go more than ten times she has said her name but she, for being a wolf, doesn't seem to sniff the danger she is into.

"She was gone? Just like that?" She asks curiously. Emma clenches her jaw and nods "Then I can't find her! I don't have a start"

"Can't you follow her?"

Snow is sure that this is the moment when Emma kills Ruby.

"No if I don't have a string to pull out" She answers truthfully, holding Emma's hand as an apology. Snow looks at them petrified but the affectionate gesture is well-received. "Not on my human form at least"

"What do you mean?"

"Well, the wolf is accustomed to smell preys through great distances in order to find food wherever they are" She explains "Knowing Regina's smell I would be able to found it between the other smells and find her"

"Transform yourself then"

"I can't Emma… In Storybrooke I'm bound to the full moon. I'm able to transform myself just in those three nights"

"And in the Enchanted Forest?"

"There is different. Since I tamed the wolf I was able to transform wherever I wanted"

Emma thinks about if for a few seconds as she closes her eyes. "Do you think that you would be able to make it again?"

"I don't even know where to start…"

"Perhaps some help…?" She asks not really sure of herself but with an idea already on her mind.

"What are you thinking about?"

"My magic could help you find the wolf and wake him up, right?"

Ruby's smile grows as well as the adrenaline flowing through her veins. "Do you really think so?"

"I'm not even sure of what to believe anymore…"

However, Gold, from the safe background, nods as she thinks about it "It can work. Emma has what this land lacks and ours has loads: Magic" As he starts explaining he becomes more convinced. It could work. "Well focused that can be the spark that would unleash her nature. But, do you see able to do it?" She holds the cane tightly and directs it towards Emma as well as his little eyes.

"I've been practicing… Who knows but we don't have anything else. We need to try it"

Ruby stands out, a nervous wreck. "Great! Let's do it outside" Everyone stares at that sudden burst of energy. "If the wolf wakes up I don't want for him to do it trapped in the dinner…"


Emma feels herself the leading trick of a circus; everyone around her are looking at her, waiting for her to raise her hands and do some kind of hocus pocus. She even thinks about starting with the classical "Ladies and gentlemen!" She would love for the ones looking at her to turn and stop starting but well-manners prevail and she doesn't say a thing. This is for Regina, she repeats it once and again. And it works. For an instant she forgets that she is surrounded by curious eyes and for Emma there is only Ruby and herself standing in the middle of the main road, toe to toe.

"Ready?" The sheriff whispers, shaking her arms and rolling her neck as she tries to relax.

"I was born ready… and you?" Ruby's understanding and sweet smile soothes her nerves. She even manages to shred a smile.

"There we go…" She whispers to herself. Putting her hands over Ruby's shoulders she tries to ignore the sensation of being stupid that the situation brings with it. She focuses, tries to summon her magic, the wolf… but nothing occurs.

She breathes deeply. A few centimeters away from her Ruby's eyes are full of trust and calmness. A second and deep gulp of air and Emma tries to forget about everyone else, about the pressure she feels, about the fear of losing her dear ones. She forgets everything and just one thing remains: Regina. What would do the mayor say? Don't think, feel, wish.

She leaves her mind empty and closes her eyes out of instinct. Regina… We will find Regina. She is sure of it. Her magic stretches and turns inside her body. Ready to help. Emma can't see a thing but she feels everything. Ever gram of power moving inside her body, every spark of her magic cracking to light… One by one, she pushes every supernatural particle inside of her body towards her chest, who threatens to not be able to hold so many magic. She channels all that power to her hands and those move instinctively to Ruby's neck and chest. Her palm feels the strong pulse of the blood running up and down the young woman's body as well her labored breathing. Her second hand is above the thumping heartbeat that beats strongly against Ruby's ribs. She would never be able to say how but she knows that is there where she needs to focus her magic on in order to find the wolf. Her blood, her breathing, her heart. And she does, without care, without measure or control.

Emma's magic pure and unraveled strikes her body and Ruby screams at the top of her lungs. The witnesses, scared, keep silence. The scream now however, is more out of pleasure than anything else, of victory. Is as close as a human throat can do while howling.

She doesn't fight it. To the contrary, she lets it surpass her, marveling on the blonde's power. On that vortex that is bathing her body, caressing the wolf's, whispering to its ear "Wake up, wake up" Is wonderful.

However, magic is not the only thing that Emma lets it out. Her gift, still one of a newborn, provokes that her emotions also get transferred with her power. Ruby feels the almost animal-like worry of Emma, the worry that has Henry's name written on it and the pain that floods her heart. And on top of everything fear for Regina, for needing to know what is she doing or what they would be doing to her. She feels it as if it was her own suffering and for a moment she also shares the fervid love Emma feels for Regina, the passion, the gentleness she provokes in the powerful woman. Ruby, overwhelmed and in the edge of tears takes her strength and grabs Emma's shoulders. Emma opens her eyes without stopping her magic and the brunette can only think in one thing: she will fight all her life in order to find a love like those two share. They share a look and she makes her a promise.

"I will find them, I swear" Is barely nothing but a whisper, the last remains of a voice that the magic that has been entering on her body lets her. But Emma hears her. Hears her, smiles and a last blow of magic crashes against her. The voice that spoke with the wolf is not a whisper anymore but a scream. "WAKE UP!" and the wolf obeys. A howl and Ruby's body is lost on it, her figure, her soft skin, her human face…

Emma moves away from the wolf and looking at the transformation that occurs in front of her. Snow runs to her side without asking and circles her waist. She invites her to rest on her and Emma realizes the dizzy state her body is in. She is exhausted by proud.

"Good done" Her mother whispers and she barely gets a smile due to the tiredness.

Ruby's majestic transformation has not let anyone indifferent. Even Snow, the most used to it, widens her eyes, fascinated. Especially when in front of them a beautiful wolf with a dark grey fur appears in front of them. Snow swallows, wishing for Ruby to have been right and be her the one who controls the wolf and not its instincts to take a hold on her. Emma looks at her, trying to see any signal that would mean danger but nothing happens. The amazing wolf Ruby is now raises its head and howl strongly, as if it was signing to the moon. A second after that it looks at them and Emma would swear that, somehow, the lip of its snout curls into a smirk. In just a wink Ruby turns into its paws and start running up the street without waiting for anyone or anything.

"To the cars, now!" Emma's scream makes everyone to react and the two cars end up following the furry animal.


The savior, silently and not sharing her worry prays for Ruby to know what she is doing. David drives without letting her go out of his sight and Snow, from the backseat, looks for Neal and Gold so they don't lose them. Emma keeps herself silent and confiding that Ruby has really found Regina's trace and they aren't following an animal wanting to play. Her fears just grow when the wolf moves farther from the town and the residential areas, approaching the outskirts, the limits.

The old van keeps up with the sudden turns and Ruby's speed but barely and by sheer power of the gas pedal. That's why, when Ruby stops abruptly, David has just enough time to stop before hitting her or ending up in the ditch. The animal is paralyzed, tense, sniffing at the air. It gives a few steps towards their left, the cemetery. She, however, sniffs again and stop herself.

Neal's tires screech a few meters away from them before coming next to them and Ruby starts running again, changing directions. She trots without stopping to the densest part of the forest.

"Hold yourselves!" David screams "I will follow her with the car until we can't do anything else but walk"

"Ok" Emma accepts focusing on where Ruby is going to. "She is going to the well, right?"

David's eyes leave the road enough for him to answer to her softly "I'm afraid so…"

"That's not good"

"Don't worry, we will win" And he says that earnestly, with his own worry obvious but without losing his hope.

"Yes…" She sighs without looking at anyone, without thinking anything, without feeling anything else but that uncomfortable and painful void.


Once they leave the cars the wolf takes mercy on them and reduces its speed. She climbs the slopes and crags slower and she looks behind her every now and then. Emma, at the head by a long shot, admits that that sort of worry can only come from Ruby. As she runs followed by David, Neal and further by Gold helped by Snow, she realizes that her legs will ache and hurt and that her body has yet to recover after magical awakening of the wolf. She, however, only think in keeping up. Inside her head a thousand different settings run wild, how Cora wants to use the well in order to kidnap Henry and Regina to another world or that she uses the magic of the place to hurt them. Every idea is more gore than the previous one but nothing readies her for what she finds.

A few meters away, wolf and savior see the silhouette of the well and two people. When they finally reach the last section Emma recognizes Regina but not the man next to her. Small, chubby and bald. Definetely not Cora.

The mayor, with a glassed look, is working mechanically and without giving any signal she knows what's happening around her. The others follow her shortly and Emma doesn't hold back. She runs uphill, not leaving her eyes from the mayor.

The well is close, a few steps away.

At the same time, she takes the last desperate stride to reach it something hits her chest and expels her a few meters away. She stumbles, sore, and finds her equilibrium as David has finally reach her. He also tries to approach the brunette but he also feels that same force crushing him when he tries to walk.

"Regina!" She screams hopelessly but once again the brunette doesn't seem perturbed. The chubby man, however, does see them.

"Oh, seems we have guests" And that doesn't seem to worry him. Even more, his small eyes wrinkle at the sides alongside with his smile. He is enjoying it.

"They are here… in the well!" Neal screams to the last two as he pants after the run. At his side the wolf that is Ruby growls and bares her teeth next to that force field impossible to pierce.

"What are you doing?!" Huffs David both towards The Evil Queen and to the man that keeps himself next to her. He demands attention, emanates arrogance and haughtiness and Regina ignores him. Her mind is not there. The ingredients she has memorized to the core is the only thing that nags her fogged mind. She walks from one side to another with measured steps. She picks, opens and smells the potions, arranging them. She mumbling repeats the recipe over and over again and Snow, seeing her, admits that she gives a certain feeling of distress. David and Emma stubbornly try to take another step and a half fighting against that force that repels them once again and Red, Rumple and Neal look at it in case a progress is made.

"Regina!" Emma repeats scared.

"The whole family…" The homey, soft, candid and, somehow, terrifying voice of the man mumbles. Calmness is the last thing he actually gives.

"You…" Rumplestiskin has seen that face very times before. It was even a face he ended up hating it. Albeit that happened many years before. When that little man married the evil woman he loved. And the last time he saw his face was months before dying out on the hands of his own daughter in order to fulfil a certain curse. "Are you Henry?" He scrunches his face and wavers "That's impossible"

Snow grimaces as she recognizes him. Is Regina's father, the one that lived on her castle when her father and The Evil Queen married. Both of them recognize him but when the chubby little man guffaws a mirthless laugh, void of any soul, Rumple recognizes something else. He is not the one who married his lover is… his lover?

"Hello, Rumple"

"What's happening?" Emma asks holding her gun that is still on her belt, just a decision away from drawing it.

"She has the looks of Regina's father, Emma…" He swallows, his chin trembles, he isn't feeling right. "But he is Cora"

The chubby man laughs once again without losing any of Regina's movements. "That is Rumple. You were always so intelligent and so stupid at the same time…"

Emma's worst fears prove to be true. Frozen, panicked, she screams inwardly, praying for being able to hold Regina against her body and move her away from that monster wearing just another costume. However, as she tries it once and again, the force field is still there. She looks at Cora and screams at the top of her lungs, emboldened, with a tightening heart. "What have you done to her?!"

"Do you mean I?" I haven't done a thing, savior" She mumbles calmly, innocently even. "It is my understanding that you gave her the kiss that has hexed her. And no, I'm not talking about romantic metaphors…"

Emma tries to understand the hieroglyph that her words are but her panicked states and her nerves play against her. She remembers and the memory of a bitter kiss comes to her. "You used me… it was you. This morning, the bloody kiss."

Cora smiles crookedly. "Give this girl an applause. And then they talk about blondes… you only needed half a day to understand it!"

"Blood, Emma?" Rumple asks pale, almost translucent. His mind goes to full speed, trying to link the dots that he has now in front of him. He doesn't like the puzzle that is coming together in front of his eyes.

"Yes, she looked like Regina. She kissed me and she had a wound…"

"What are we facing?" Snow intervenes, looking to Cora.

"Blood and magic… I'm afraid our evil queen is cursed"

"Very well, rumple" And she winks at him in a way that leaves him feeling sick and with a very bad hunch.

Emma tries to clear her mind. "She has her under her control?"

"No, dear, that requires far too much magic" Cora decides to answer. An arrogant mocking gesture in order to show the upper hand she works with, the calmness of the one who plays the strings with her. She has everything under wraps and she doesn't mind to let that clear. "My daughter is way too powerful to be subdued in that way…"

"Is even worse" Rumplestiskin says "For her we don't exist, she has brought back the mind of a previous Regina to the present one, a confused version for who the last few years hadn't occurred" He scratches his nose, tries to see more clues. "Did you say something to her when you kissed?"

"Yes… that I was sorry to have been one of those ignorant that thought of her as The Evil Queen without giving her a chance…"

"Just perfect, magic and guilt…"

Emma doesn't understand a bit of magic but she doesn't need to know a lot to know that something is very wrong. "What have I done?"

"Giving me the best of all curses" Cora says effusively, a very feminine gesture in such masculine body, something that lets a glimpse of her real personality escape. "Guilt is an amazing enhancer and talking to her about the Evil Queen has carried her mind directly to her golden years… don't you love it?"

Emma turns hysterically to Rumplestiskin. She waits for the elderly man to say her no, to say to her that there is a loop, for him to have some sort of hope. She needs to listen that neither of that is true. But the downcast eyes of the man tell her much more than what she would like to hear.

"Let her leave…" Emma growls furiously, feeling useless, wishing to be able to rip that man that has the rotten soul of Cora apart.

She clicks her tongue, as if thinking about it "After all the work I've needed to do it? I don't think so"

"This can't be happening" Snow mumbles directly talking to Cora "I killed you… how were you able to escape from death itself?"

When Emma had defended that Cora was behind everything Rumplestiskin has had his doubts. Now he feels stupid for not having foreseen it, for not having seen the pieces that fit together creating just another one of the mad woman's plans. "That wasn't her heart Snow… not the complete one at least"

"Exactly, dear" She turns her mouth into a compassionate smile "It was a beginners trick. I just kept half a heart for your candle" Snow's eyes alight themselves with fury, leaving behind every trace of guilt she could ever have had felt "Don't rile yourself up, dear, you were close to kill me, I was left in a weaken state. But I returned back to Neverland and the shadow let me recover my strength and power there. Is incredible what the source of every magic can do, right?"

"I wish to have really killed you…" And this time she feels it.

"That's not very compassionate, you pure Snow"

"You hide like the rat you are while we attacked your allies…" Emma tries to gain time, to gather intel and find a plan to attack but her possibilities are limited. Nonexistent.

"Hide? From you? You need to be kidding…" She raises a brow and she crossed her arms like the one who just stares at the profits a whole life of evilness has bring. "I was there every time, without another face of course. You were going to defeat the shadow and I wasn't going to win anything by meddling in your adventure. I tried to sabotage you of course but I needed for you to come back"

"Sabotage us?" David asked.

"Who do you think told Mulan about those dangerous men the shadow had near the camp fully armed? Or who was that young and clumsy boy that failed as he blew the sleep dust on the guard's face?"

"I should have seen it…" Gold spits the words with hate and repent.

"Don't punish yourself Rumple, I had been in that isle for months, my camouflage was almost a masterpiece at that point" She answers him proudly "Except when I needed to talk to the sirens, I was able to present myself to them with my own female look. They were positively salivating as they knew about the menu they had at your ship…"

The word "bitch" itch on Emma's tongue but she holds herself "Why did you want for us to win? What did you get from our return?"

"Haven't you seen it yet?" She asks patronizingly pointing at her daughter. The look of Regina is the one of an exceptional enchantress, handling the potions, reading something, taking care of a ritual she doesn't even need to read, that she remembers perfectly. "The crypt of my dear daughter was still in Storybrooke, next to her curse, the ingredients and the powerful well…"

"Do you… do you pretend to make her cast the curse once again?!"

"Exactly savior. With different details of course, a new world, one in which neither of you exist anymore and she is the Queen she ever should have been"

Emma's eyes get blurry and her mouth opens a few times although nothing comes out of it. A cold sweat takes over her body and fear atrophies every muscle she possesses. A new world, a curse that would sweep away everything, her city, her life, her family. And a cursed and out of control Regina would be the responsible for it. Responsible of forgo what she loves most, of destroying what she had been fighting for all those years…"

"Damn murdering psychopath…" David barks.

"You see it that now?" She mocks him delighted. "I see that the apple never falls far from the tree, we can't really ask Emma that much, can we?"

No, no, no… this can't be happening, she won't let it happen. "Regina, listen to me!" The scream echoes wet, sad and frenzied. No one answers her though and she purses her lips, powerless. "Why are you doing her this?"

"Like I have said… You aren't the sharpest tool in the shed, are you?" She questions with a tone so malevolent that turns Emma's guts upside down. "Is obvious, savior. I want to go back home and Regina to turn in the ruler and master of the Enchanted Forest" She caresses her daughter's arm proudly and Regina looks at her for half a second. Is the first reaction Emma sees on the mayor and her frustration grows. "She will cast the curse creating a reign made just for her, with every minute and insignificant life devoted to her power and will. Like it should have been"

Snow, enraged, talks between clenched teeth. "Regina will never forget you once she realizes what you have done to her"

"I don't want her forgiveness. I want her to fulfil the destiny she has waiting for her, for The Evil Queen to come back with all her splendor. She is a few words away of telling them her masterstroke, her biggest cruelty, the icing of the cake of everything she has planned. She just needs a drum roll to make it even more dramatic. "Have you forgotten the main ingredient? Offer what you love the most. Once she discovers what she herself has done everyone will fall down her wrath.

The couple widens their eyes completely scared and Gold needs to hold his son in order to stop him from jumping uselessly against the force field. Emma bares her teeth with even more rage than Ruby herself and screams out of her mind. "Where is Henry, what have you done to him?!"

"Waiting for his moment of course" She looks at her feet. "Snow, you should understand me. You also put your daughter's needs in front of her, even with the risk of making her suffer and hate you, right?"

"To save her life, not to turn her into a murderer"

"Not in murderer, in a Queen"

"That's not what she wants. She needs a family, not power, not blood, not more deaths"

"I know what's best for her" And she doesn't listen to anything else. Is the summit of her psychosis as the over-protective mother, as the queen without a throne, as the addicted to power.

"You are deranged…" Emma's fright is almost incredulous. But it has been years without being understood and Cora is immune to every reproach. She has heard harsher words and for her they are now more like ambrosia and are very well-received. No one wants to understand why she does it but she isn't going to stop because of it. Is for the best for her daughter.

She searches on her pocket and picks the little parchment she has picked from the crypt. Regina grabs it without changing her inexpressive gesture and the other faces contort in fear. A sepulchral silence follows Cora's movement as her voice raises like a condemnation.

"Open it"

"No, Regina, don't!" Silence and calm are over, different screams and Ruby's barks fill the air and the two sheriffs of the town try to pry into the magical barrier that repels them leaving behind a painful burn.

Nothing, stops the ritual. The Queen unfolds the parchment and closes her eyes succumbing to the glint of the paper. Emma holds her breath until those brown eyes are back. She could cry seeing the void that glints in that honey-colored irises.

"What does it asks for?" Cora asks excitedly "Your son? Myself? Pick up what belongs to you, my daughter"

And, for once, Regina's eyes look at Emma. They look at her and see her, recognize her existence. The savior swallows thickly.

"Her"

Simple, to the point. Emma. That's what the curse asks for.

"What?!" Snow screams, hysterically. The savior is a statue but her parents put themselves at her sides, almost in front of her, trying to protect her. "No, Emma, no please!"

Cora swallows her daughter's answer. It wasn't the one she was expecting but she likes where things are headed now. She can take a use of it. "Okay" Cora smiles and Emma digs her feet on the floor, forgetting that magic doesn't understand about stepping strongly on the mud as a protection. "We are going to need to do it in the bad way?" She opens her palm pointing at Emma and closes her fingers slowly until she turns it into a fist. Every inch they move every inch Emma is dragged against her will. Faster now, more dangerous now.

David jumps towards her, tries to grab her arm as Emma digs her ankles on the floor, desperate now. She can't stop however and before her father picks her up Cora screams, calling for attention.

"Don't come closer to her" The boot of her little chubby body is risen and put on top of the blanket that covers Henry's body. More precisely on top of her neck. If the threat is not a strong enough reason for David Emma asks her father to not intervene with her eyes. And she does it with a composure that hides the terror that demon wakes inside of her.

Cora's magic does her part and she is dragged to the well. This time, since Cora lets her, she manages to cross the force field but when her body crosses the magical line her body writhes in pain. At her back she hears her mother's scream and tries to recover herself. The last painful lashes bit her body and as she opens her eyes again she is in front of that man that has Cora inside of him, a meter away from Regina and the asleep body of her son.

"So you are more than a toy for my daughter, uh?" It has a slight tone of accusation but Cora is enjoying herself. "Strange but poetic. Everything started with the one at the stables and now it will end with the savior" She grabs Emma's chin, and drags her until their eyes meet. "I like it" Snow reaches her limit and throws herself to the barrier forgetting about the pain and David draws her gun out, ready to see if it's bulletproof. "Don't move!" Cora screams, angry due to the interruption. Her foot stomps strongly on Henry and is Emma the one who talks.

"Stop!" Is then when they listen. They stop even though they are still in tension, waiting for a signal to attack. There is no logic on their behavior, just pure impulsiveness. Even Gold and Neal are out of their minds, like caged animal. Unable to but wishing to be able to rip her apart. They wait for that last shred of hope, that plan that would give them an opportunity. That same shred that seems to not want to appear.

"Regina, dear, finish the curse" Sing-songs Cora's deep voice. The witch steps aside and leaves the place open for her daughter. Regina gives a few steps, the rest of the distance between them shrinking as she does the same that her mother had done before her magic.

The savior feels herself even less than a simple puppet but she recognizes something. Regina's magic. Not that dirty stifling feeling that surrounds her when Cora uses her magic. That electricity and immense power is different, is from the mayor. It doesn't matter that she is curse, the woman is really at the other side.

"Regina… you don't want to do it" She swallows thickly, holding the rage and tears as she searches for the mayor's eyes. Her hopes cracks when she hears Cora's laugh, secure of herself and not even interceding. Without a care in the world. She closes her eyes and tries to find faith, hope, anything! She is dragged the last few inches with Regina's magic and she doesn't stop talking. "This is not you, listen to me! You would never…" She doesn't finish the sentence. Regina doesn't understand speeches. Her hand buries itself on her chest and is the most inhuman pain she has ever suffered. There is no blood, no wound, but Emma feels that it tears her apart, that pierces her in the most anti natural way, that digs on her chest, against her flesh. She screams madly. The worst part of it is that her body resist it, using every gram of her magical essence in order to fight that invasion, lengthening her suffering and stealing her breath. "…do it, no…" She whimpers with closed eyes, unable to bend. Regina's hand, sink on her thorax makes her impossible to curl.

"I don't know you" Regina whispers, immutable. She is fascinated by that body that fights against her magic. "You don't know who I am"

"That's not true" She grizzles "You need to know it deep inside your heart" She insists "Why the curse have picked up me then?"

Cora is not worried, not at all. But she wants for that savior to stop talking for one damned time. She wants to her daughter to silence her as she pulls off that precious muscle. No, she is not afraid. But she doesn't like that Regina interacts with her. That has been able to even heard her. "Don't listen to her, is another trick from Snow to take away your power, to prevent you from casting the curse and get your happy ending"

"My happy ending…" She smiles dizzily, with her eyes glinting in advance. She pulls stronger, the other magic receding.

"NO!" Emma screams out of pain, impotent. "You already have that happy ending, you have it here, with your son, with me, with your true family, Regina. We love you"

The Evil Queen frowns; everything is very strange. She, however, as a thing very clear "That is not true, if there is no curse there is no happy ending" She gabbles with the indifference clouds her attitude and mind. She turns towards Cora and says authoritatively: "Father, throw the ingredients, the last one will soon be ready" She closes her hand around the heart and pulls it once again without mercy. It doesn't move but it shrinks, defenseless, fragile and so close to give up that even Emma sees it.

"She is not your father…. AAAAH!" Pain is winning over, winning the battle. "Regina, she is Cora, your mother, the woman that killed your fiancé and destroyed your life. The one that put your son in the hands of the shadows… is her!" She uses her last breath to scream again. It hurts, she feels as it tears her apart. She is losing strength and so she grabs Regina's arms. The same one that is inside her chest. She doesn't try to move it away, just rests on it, with both of her hands, void of any strength. "That is not a family, not a loved one. Family is something that loves you above anything, are the ones that forgive you and forget your mistakes, the ones that see who you truly are."

Regina's face contorts "After killing you I will have all of that"

"But you already have it!" This time her eyes cloud because of tears, not due to the pain.

"Don't listen to her, my dear. She is trying to trick you, believe me. You need to kill her"

"Shut up!" Emma is suffering but she is suffering particularly because of Regina, because Cora is deceiving her, because she will suffer again and because Cora is doing it through herself. Just like Regina foresaw. And that breaks her heart.

"Kill her!"

"Shut up!" And she screams with all of her rage, with every piece of magic she still has, with that pain that is breaking her apart. And as she does it her wish transforms itself into an order. Cora's mouth starts disappearing, to lose form, to close itself until between the nose and the chin there is just skin left. She screams crazily but nothing comes out. "Look at him" Emma whispers almost out of voice "He is not your father; he would have never asked you to murder"

"Is because of my happiness" Regina mumbles back "My father knows that; my father understands it…"

Emma closes her eyes. Forcing herself to keep talking. "No, she knew you. As I do. I know who you are and you aren't a murdered. Not anymore" She turns, breathless, powerless, towards Cora who is still without mouth and voice. "Whatever it happens you have lost. Regina is one of us, is good. It doesn't matter what happens" She holds the mayor's arm and looks into her eyes "I know you would never had hurt me…" And she speaks without strength, lifelessly. But she talks with her heart, the same one Regina is squeezing until it unlinks from her body.

The last thing Emma sees is The Evil Queen's hand holding it out of her body. A second after that she closes her eyes and falls. A dead weight, pulseless, on the forest floor.

To be continued…

Chapter Text

A little bit later than expected but here it is the last chapter!

When we started to translate this fic (I say we as if I participated doing something else than merely opening my mouth, getting misty-eyed at the sight of it turning from Spanish to English), I never could have imagined what it was going to turn into. It has been a dream to be able to share it with another part of the fandom, not just only with the Spanish-speaking one. The most incredible thing of all, however, has been what this translation has end up meaning, what has end up bringing… I really don't have the words

Having said that, I want to dedicate all my gratitude, my love and my everything to the two angels that have been behind the translation of this fic. It has been a long way and, despite the anecdotes, the laughter, the setbacks, the lovely rare collaborations… the most important thing of all has been the amazing work you have done; the effort and time you have dedicated to it and the fact that you have achieved my little big dream. Because, let's be honest, translate the fic of someone who calls short an OS of 20K is not easy… :P So Kyravalon and ShadowDianne, for this I own you both more than ten years of friendship -more than a hundred, and there is no words to describe how much I will always be thankful for this. You girls are amazing.

Finally, for this final chapter, I would love to say thank you to everyone who have taken your time to read this fic, to follow, fav and even to leave a review, sharing your thoughts about it with me. It has been my debut (as a writer) for the English-speaking part of the fandom and it has been amazing, thrilling, funny and everything has been because of all of you! So I hope you enjoy this ending that has taken its sweet time to arrive.

I shut up now… Read! ^^

Pd.: Un pequeño aviso para las lectoras españolas, el original ya estaba publicado en español! :) Y si os ha gustado, hay algún que otro fic más ^^


 

The heart of the savior is strong, shiny and startling. Regina looks at it with curiosity, almost morbidly. Looking at it she understands why the curse has asked her to take it. Is very powerful.

Although she hasn’t exactly plucked it out.

She doesn’t remember the hearts she has stolen but she knows that it has never felt this way before. The body always fights back and the piece of meat ends up on her hand after a violent and ferocious tear. The one of the savior’s though, has fallen to her hand, sliding in. Is the first one she doesn’t pluck it but they give it to her instead. In that last breath that woman has given her heart. A gesture that has been noticed by Regina.

Snow sees terrorized how her daughter fells, Regina holds the heart and Cora is free from the hex around her mouth.

“Emma!” Snow screams and David’s arms are the only thing that that keeps her from running towards the barrier. She fights him, kicks and screams the name of her daughter once and again but she can’t escape and at her side Red barks and growls feeling useless as well.

Cora touches her face and mouth, everything is back at where it belongs. Emma doesn’t exist anymore and the hex has disappeared. They have won, they have make it. That little piece of coal she has as a heart beats faster inside her chest, happy. This is the reason of her birth, the reason of Regina’s, for them to defeat others and be unstoppable.

Cora is not used to feel but she could cry right now. Perhaps is that chubby body she is in that is affecting her somehow… She smiles but keeps the tears hidden. Raising her hand towards Regina she sighs one more time “Let’s go daughter, let’s go home”

The Evil Queen moves towards her accordingly. Is the perfect image of calm and submission as she holds Emma’s heart on her hand.  She raises her eyes towards the ones of her father and says:

“No” The whole forest fells silent “Not this time Cora”

She doesn’t have time to react; Regina is saying fighting her back, she has called her by her name and that dulled expression on her eyes has disappear. Her body freezes even before she fully comprehends what has happened. The curse is broken.

Her right hand raises at the air and she throws a blast of magic to Regina but she is already too late. The mayor has attacked her first and her attack just hits her magic blast, who gets diverted. The thunder crashes against a tree and Cora hears it crack due to the impact. That could have been her, her daughter is not playing games.

She attacks again, and again, but Regina has the upper hand and she always is a step in front of her. The same Regina that a few minutes before didn’t breathe if she was told not to. She manages to break the other woman’s defense but her magic doesn’t touch The Evil Queen’s body. Regina wraps it up with her own power and neither women stops. Bolt against bolt, trying to destroy the other. The only thing Cora has on her favor is that Regina fights with only one hand. Her left fist is close to her chest, protecting Emma’s heart.

She doesn’t understand why but the savior has destroyed the curse. And the key is that heart.

“No, no, no!” Cora screams, not able to keep it together anymore. At the same time, she lowers her hands, a small stop on that duel. Regina’s gaze is filled with heat, rage and fury but Cora doesn’t let that scare her. She is out of her mind, a ticking bomb that needs to be hold gently. “You are a step away from glory, one step away from your destiny. I won’t let you throw that away”

Snow’s cheeks are red and wet due to her tears but she has stopped her struggling against David’s arms and she looks astonished at the scene unfolding in front of her, wondering what kind of power he has just meddle in. She doesn’t speak up but she waits for Regina’s answer with her widened dry eyes, waiting for a flutter of eyelashes. Like the rest around her.

“Once again you are wrong” Cora’s hairs stand up at that. The woman’s voice is threatening, aggressive and so fierce that makes her tremble. “This is my destiny, my home and I won’t let you destroy it”

The Evil Queen is about to jump to that woman’s throat but is Cora the one who screams “NO!”

Regina has enough time to didge a blast of energy powered with malice. The magic at her back loses purpose and so she screams from the floor “Cover yourselves!”

Snow was doubting if her presence hadn’t been perceived by the other brunette woman until that time. The warning makes her blink. “Run!” She screams tugging from David’s arms to make them hide behind the nearest rocks.

“Aaaaaah!” Yells Cora, seeing how every possible target hides from her. It doesn’t matter though, nothing else matters but that heart. She will destroy it. No matter how it takes. Her daughter will see reason. “I’m doing this for you!”

Regina readies herself to attack. “You are doing it for the power!”

“You damned fool” Her hands shudder because of the magic she is accumulating on them. “How have you ever managed to…?”

“Break up your curse?” Regina finishes for her mother. She is also shuddering but not out of fear. She is trembling out of fury, out of feelings, out of the magic that is growing inside of her. “The magic that you never managed to control; love” Barking that words to her mother is the most gratifying thing than any physical blow. Seeing her face as it falls down out of disgust and incomprehension is a delicious gift. She keeps talking, rejoicing, without any rush. “I didn’tt pluck Emma’s heart out; she gave it to me. She trusted me and she sacrificed herself with it” Regina grows at the same rate than her magic, ready to deliver the final blow. “You never managed to understand this magic. And I feel sorry for you”

“I’m the one sorry for you” Cora screams with her face red and blotchy. She attacks one more time without any warning, an attack fueled with acid and dark magic straight towards the heart that beats slowly on Regina’s hands. Cora is ready to fight till death.

Regina covers the heart with her own arm. The energy blast impacts her without her having had the time to cover herself up. She backtracks a few steps, a superficial burn is now on her skin although it doesn’t get any more than that. At this Regina throws a counterattack that hits her mother right on her stomach. Cora fells down to her knees but tries to hit her daughter with a blow towards her feet. Regina, with a gesture of her wrist, dilutes her mother’s magic, turning it into a glittering dust that doesn’t even graze her. Cora tries to counter it but she is unable to and as Regina moves closer, dodging every single one of her attacks, weaker and weaker as times passes, Cora is unable to go back to stand on her feet.

She throws one last punch that Regina deflects without a problem and The Evil Queen’s hand closes around her neck. Cora gapes, trying to breathe. And even then, kneeled and humiliated the only thing she is able to think off is that heart Regina keeps against her chest. However, The Evil Queen reads the intention on her mother’s stare when her eyes focus on her curled fingers.

“You won’t touch it, mother, never”

“We will see about that” Cora whimpers with barely enough oxygen on her, bloodshot eyes looking back at Regina. Is not an empty threat. Cora, in less than a blink, throws her short chubby arms against her daughter’s, trying to pick up the beating heart with her last drop of strength. She, however, doesn’t make it.

Regina replies with one single movement. The hand that holds the other woman’s neck rakes through the skin until it reaches Cora’s chest. Touching the sternum, she sinks her hand from fingers to wrist, grabbing the woman’s heart.

The Queen of hearts freezes, paralyzed, victim of the same torment she had enjoyed inflicting so many times in the past. “I thought… I thought that you weren’t a murderer anymore” She mumbles, falling into pain.

“I’m not, this is self-defense” One single pull is enough for her to have her mother’s heart on her hand. Is a quick precise movement with a single tad of guilt. Looking at it, it doesn’t even look like a heart. Is as black as night and deformed with scars. The same ones Cora must have inflicted on herself to tear it up. Is the mirror of the craziness, evilness and cruelty that the woman always will be. She takes a step back, without even sparing her a glance. “Goodbye mother”

“Daughter…” She stammers, voice broken as she sees her move away from her “Everything I’ve done had been for you, because I love you”

The sarcastic laugh that escapes Regina’s mouth freezes Cora’s blood on her veins.  Her daughter keeps walking as her sight turns blurry and her body changes. Her legs turning longer, slimmer. Her magic is extinguishing and she falls down, without any strength left to look at her daughter.

“Do you love me?” Regina asks. Her harm is hovering over the well, on her hand she squeezes the piece of coil that beats with the last remains of Cora’s life and even before she actually does it The Queen of Hearts knows what her ending is. “Because I don’t”

She keeps squeezing until the heart explodes against her palm and she feels the touch of ashes on her fingers, ashes that start falling on the well until she opens her hand and a dark grey cloud falls onto the magical waters.

“NO!” Rumplestiskin looks at the unfolding scene and screams scared but nothing affects Regina on those moments. She is an Ice Queen, cold and impenetrable. Snow and David grab each other as they eye the well worriedly, not knowing what will come out of it. However, nothing appears, not even a cloud of smoke. Everything remains exactly the same.

“See? Not a tad of love, mother. You are nothing to me” Regina growls inexpressibly, emanating nothing more indifference. The last thing Cora sees is her worst nightmare; defeated and hated by her daughter, seeing her refusing power.

Rumple has lost his magic essence but when her ex-lover’s soul disappears he feels it. A shudder runs up and down his back and a weight vanishes from his chest. He breathes and is sure: Ding Dong, the witch is dead.

Snow keeps at one side of the battle, hidden behind a trunk but still eyeing everything. She sees Regina lowering her arm and when the mayor’s eyes run through the forest the Ice Queen’s side has disappeared and there is only a nervous, intimidated woman that speaks with a hoarse voice.

“Ruby, take care of Henry” She asks talking to the grey wolf. The animal runs towards the kid as Regina turns towards Emma. She eyes her hands, scared and the sight of Emma’s heart fills her body with despair. “What have I done?”

“What you tried for so many years, mayor. Finish the Savior” Gold’s answer is arrogant but Regina’s heartbeat echoes on her ears and she doesn’t listen the answer. Snow and David run towards her daughter and the only thing she is able to do is swallow and shudder.

Emma is in the forest floor, pale and without a pulse. The savior is a corpse and she is the culprit of it. She starts to pant, hysterical and unable to take a hold on herself, letting the panic win her over.

“Regina!” Screams Snow next to Emma. The Queen though doesn’t have eyes for her; her stare is unfocused, unable to think. Her mind is in many places and in no one in particular. What if in this half-magical world plucking out a heart isn’t reversible? What if her worst fear has actually happened? What if she had really killed Emma? Her heartbeat echoes on her temple, threatening to make her explode. Paralyzed, looking without seeing the corpse lying on the grass, her lungs become atrophied, refusing to take any more air. She is dead, she has killed her… “REGINA!”

Snow’s scream wakes her up from her reverie and makes her come back to the present. She opens her mouth but doesn’t come out of it and Snow pushes her once again. “Fuck, she needs her heart, run!”

The heart, yes. She lowers her eyes to it, there is hope, it can work.

She clenches her jaw and lips, stopping the tears. Starting to run, frenzied, she doesn’t say a word and throws herself between both David and Snow. David moves when he sees her arrive and circles Snow’s shoulders. Regina’s hands shake as she holds the heart, panic clenching her insides, making her feel like a little girl. She knows what she needs to do but it scares her trying it and not making it work. That idea only, not being unable to put the heart back, to loose Emma, breaks her in two.

She needs to try it; she can’t give up on her. Taking a deep breath, she lays the heart and her hands on the Savior’s thorax. She closes her eyes, unable to see if she works or not. Emma, you promised me, an anti-Cora girlfriend. Don’t leave me, you can’t, I don’t want to keep going without you. Please, stay with me! She pushes the heart with every inch of desperation, of fear and rage she feels and Emma’s body takes it with the same gentle softness that it gave it to her.

Everyone hold their breaths while Regina keeps her tears at bay and the next few moments seems to be an eternity. One in which the mayor lets her worst fears, her darkest side –the one that fills her head with fears and kills her hopes- take over. The silence the forest seems to be in fills her head, threatening to turn her crazy.

However, nothing happens. Emma doesn’t gasp as if that was her first breath nor she opens her eyes scared. Nothing. Regina confronts that relaxed asleep face, one without a trace of life and her world crumbles down.

She starts crying inconsolably, laying her forehead on the savior’s chest. She herself had been the executioner of her own happiness and the pain runs down her body and tears her heart apart in a way that makes her deaf to anything else.

Until two fingers touch her forehead and parts her bangs out of her face. The tears stop as she hears next to her face the out of control heartbeat of the savior. They are like music produced by angels for Regina and only then she realizes who is caressing her hair. Raising her eyes, she meets Emma’s which are opened, smiling and just looking at her.

And then she cries once again, this time out of happiness though. Only when she takes a deep breath full of relief she understands the terror, pain and torment she has suffered for a second.

“Hey” Emma whispers “We cry when we lost, not when we win”

Regina, with glassy wet eyes loses herself on Emma’s gaze. Everything’s all right. Laughing between tears she grabs her face. “Shut up, know-it-all”

She lowers her mouth out of reflex until she kisses her. A kiss in which the rest doesn’t matter, not what they think or say. She is just able to focus on keep kissing Emma and is bursting out of happiness for just being able to do it. For seeing her next to her, breathing at her side. And she kisses her with so much rage and pain that no one has a speck of authority to break the moment. Just Emma, who soothes her and answers to her kiss, caressing her soul and has the right to intervene and calm her.

When they break their kiss Snow admits to herself that seeing them together is somehow logical. Neal, annoyed, admits that the image of them together has a harmony that both Emma and him never hand.

“I’m ok… don’t worry” Emma whispers against Regina’s mouth. The sheriff swallows while trying to stand up. Regina runs to hold her back in order to help her and Snow and David squeeze her arm as thrilled as the mayor, waiting patiently for their moment to hug her daughter.

The savior brings a hand to her head and every alarm in Regina go off. “Are you ok?”

“Yes, just a tiny headache… the cons of fainting in the floor I guess” The other woman jokes, smiling at her. “And you all? Has she harmed you? And Henry?” She asks, looking around her.

“He is with Red, we are all okay”

Next to the well the wolf covers Henry’s body with hers and she looks at them, docile and waiting. Her black eyes tell them that everything is fine.

“Then, this is it?” Snow asks the question that everyone is thinking right now. “Everything is truly over?” Unconsciously she looks at Gold, searching for answers from the expert in dark magic and craziness.

“Yes…” He smiles genuinely, as if it was the first time on his life “Cora’s presence has disappeared, I can feel it” Smiling at Emma he repeats his words “You have won”


Emma is stubborn, very very stubborn. Stubborn is the word that best describes her and at the same time seems unable to reach how much she is. David, Snow and Regina tried without effect to make her go home and rest and Henry doesn’t even bother trying it, knowing that is futile. The only thing they manage is to make the savior to accept to relax in front of a cup of chocolate topped with whipped cream and cinnamon on Granny’s dinner. She is far too pig-headed to lay in the middle of the afternoon but she won’t ever say no to a comforting cup of chocolate.

Two hours later she has managed to convince her parents that she is all right and Snow, subtle as ever, finishes her own snack and proposes that they should go. Regina looks at her closely, analyzing her words. Is time to go… go who? Does it mean she is only talking about herself and David? That they won’t insist on carrying Emma with them?

David answers in that same idea, smiling at Snow and picking up her jacket. He will always deny that is ok with all of this… even if that’s not entirely true. He is able to understand to Emma, even to Regina. And after the experience she had gone through with death and Cora Emma must be dying to be with them and just enjoy it.

They say goodbye without even proposing for Henry and Emma to go with them and suddenly Regina feels at peace. One of the final breaches that were still open between Snow and herself had finally closed and she hadn’t even realized until she had seen her disappear at the other side of the glass, slightly dirty, door. Not only she hadn’t tried to talk Emma out of the idea of dating her nor destroy their relationship but she is also seeing it. That gesture, thought or not, fills Regina with an unexpected happiness, with an almost seek solace. Those two people are now her family and having Snow respecting that makes it even more real, more tangible in a way.

Snow may have helped in the destroy of her family but she has just helped into creating it once again. That small and hidden injury that still beated between her heart and fears closes itself until is erased, leaving no trace. And when Emma, Henry and herself say goodbye she smiles so much that it seems almost worrying. It doesn’t matter though since she is completely happy.


And that doesn’t’ go unnoticed.

Regina picks up a few plates and the cutlery whistling and singing to herself. She moves through the kitchen a step away of actually seeming to start to dance and Henry, who is devouring a strawberry-flavored yogurt is happy to see her mother like that. However, is not the only strange behavior the mayor is displaying right now.

Ever since his grandparents left his mother has transformed herself into a smiling happy woman. And, something that Henry doesn’t see, she is unable to spend more than ten minutes without touching his other mother. Ever since they were left alone in the dinner Regina had caressed Emma’s leg almost unconsciously and a few times also played with her hand behind the table. When they had walked towards the car she had curled her arm around the blonde’s waist and now, as she moves through the kitchen, she passes by her side almost out of instinct that searches for Emma. Looks and smiles, double entendre and jokes. Regina had left behind that cold, controlling part of her that put everything away from her. She even has forgotten why she did it.

Henry is perhaps far too young and innocent to appreciate what’s happening in front of him but if he was slightly older, or less naïve, he would understand the lovey-dovey gestures of their mothers. He would probably be embarrassed and would ask for them to stop of course.

But Henry doesn’t see a thing and Emma lets Regina to touch her, melted by this new side of the brunette. And well, perhaps, and only perhaps, she actually feels a slightly bad mother for this but she can’t wait for her son to finish that damned yogurt and decide that he wants to go to sleep. Because if Regina touches her hips or caress her back behind her clothes one more time she won’t be held responsible.

Almost like her parents’ sense what’s running through her head her phone vibrates with the income of a message and that breaks her chain of thoughts.

She huffs as she reads it and Henry stick out behind her arm to read what is about. “How many days do you think my parents are going to need to believe that I’m actually okay?”

Regina looks at her from the corner of her eyes as she smiles understandingly “They are parents… what for us are seven years for them is just a day”

Emma is silence for a few seconds, thinking about something “I think you are calling “dog” to someone but I’m not sure to whom…”

Regina’s smirk has a touch of suspicious innocence but she doesn’t tell her. “They would probably be calmer if you were on the apartment”

“Maybe, but that wasn’t the place I wanted to be in” Her eyes met Regina and the glint the brunette has on them show her gratitude “I needed a little peace and tranquility…”

“Yes, here you will have a lot of peace and tranquility” She answers slyly and that double-entendre more obvious than ever. Emma smiles and purses her lips, trying not to think of the type of “peace and tranquility” the mayor must have on her mind. However, is true and being near Regina calm and makes her the best of herself for it. Is an effect that only appears near the mayor.

A typing sound distracts her “Henry, what are you doing with my phone?”

“Telling them that we are okay of course” Of course, Emma repeats on her head. “There is something that bothers me though” Henry adds as he puts the phone aside. The two of them look at him surprised, not knowing what he will say this time “Of the two adventures I’ve been in both of them and I don’t remember a thing… Don’t laugh, is annoying to be always asleep!”

“If you behave yourself I promise you that I will tell you the story”

“Today?”

Emma looks at the clock, thinks about the hour and decides to take advantage of it. “Only if you go to bed in the next five minutes.

“We have a deal” He answers her on his best impersonation of Gold.

Emma smirks “In that case… you have 4 minutes and 56 seconds left. Run!”

Henry’s eyes widen, surprised. Wiping clean the yogurt he gets off the chair and Emma sees him go up the stairs without saying anything more. Turning once again towards the kitchen Regina’s inquisitive eyes wait for her, glinting with an amusement.

“Sheriff, have you just bribed our son?”

Emma, guilty of charges, scratches her head and walks towards her “Maybe?”

“Maybe…” She answers dominantly, with arms akimbo.

“Just a little… besides is good for him” Emma takes the other woman’s posture as an invitation to pass her arms between hers until she is circling her waist, separated now by just a few inches.

“Right… a little. And can I know what are you doing?” She insists, still on her role of domineering and stunning mayor.

Emma holds her chin and whispers against her mouth “What I’ve been imagining for hours now”

She descends until she is kissing her and she entertains herself on biting softly those tempting smiling lips before licking them slowly and letting herself get lost on her kisses. “You are such a drama queen…” Jokes Regina taking distance for a second before returning even more hungrily to her mouth. The quick caresses are useless at this point, she needs more, much more. Like Emma’s hands over her skin, electrifying her skin as much as her kisses, able to return her back to life.

“DONE!” Henry screams from the top of the stairs. The yell breaks their moment and make them take a step back. Regina is sure she would be able to write a novel of a thousand pages long about the five hundred ways that exist in order to be interrupted in a romantic or sexual moment at this point.

“And he has even two minutes to spare” Emma winces looking at the phone screen. Looking at the couple of plate they still need to pick up she glances at Regina “Do you mind if I go?”

“Of course not, run and see if you manage to get out son asleep as soon as possible… Because I think you and I have a few things we need to discuss” She murmurs resting her forehead on Emma’s.

“Consider it done” She answers, touching the brunette’s nose with her own softly and slowly while biting her lips, picturing the ones of the brunette. “I will make him asleep in record time” She whispers before turning as quick as possible towards the kid’s room.

Regina looks at her dazedly until she disappears at the other side of the kitchen’s entrance. How long ago since she started considering her girlfriend? Little more than two days? Everything looks so strange… no two weeks ago since they morphed from being two people that berated each other to kiss and… do a few other things. The feeling however of having feelings for Emma is one that comes before she was even conscious about it. There is a line between the time they have been together and the time she has been thinking about her that blurs. That makes her heart beat frenzied, that makes her feel complete, makes her understand that she already has a home…

Then, why she is unable to say it outload?

She has risen a stupid wall and now those words float around at the tip of her tongue, burning her, prodding her. She is unable to say them or let them fall though. Is stupid. After what the curse asked for her is obvious what Emma means to her. But she doesn’t find the words to explain it… perhaps is due to the terror those words that has been centuries since she had last said them cause on her. Although, thinking about it, she knows that that is not entirely true, no, is not that…

She is not afraid.

Not of Emma.

She smiles again. Perhaps maybe is that she isn’t able to find the moment, perhaps Snow, David and Henry’s interruption that has broken the moment that morning or the posterior reunion in which they have tried to make her confess her feelings in front of everyone ended up destroying it. Now she is limbo, without any string awkward and without knowing when or how she needs to discover what she has inside. Is a silly barrier she has risen because “I say it when I want it” and there she is. Unable to say it. She has go from refusing to tell it in order to not give the ones that repeated Henry’s idea about the possibility of a curse to be mute about it.

Just perfect… she mutters to herself.

She leaves the last cleaned plate and dries her hands. Things are going to change. She is not going to let anything destroy what she has with Emma. Not even herself.


Henry fluffs his pillow and puts his sheets up to his neck as Emma enters inside his room. “Ok, I’m ready, you can start. Wait…” She stops for a second, standing upright again. “Then are you the one who is going to tell me the story?”

“Yes, why?” Emma asks offended as she sits at the edge of the bed.

“You were unconscious for a half of the battle!”

Emma holds a guffaw as she hears the annoyed tone of her son “Snow and David have told me everything that I don’t remember”

“Everything?”

“To the last detail”

Henry thinks about her answer for a second, thinking about it until she feels convinced. “Ok, go”

Emma clears her throat, takes a breath and starts telling the story with her big narrative skills. “Cora remained hidden in Neverland…”

“Stop a second” He interrupts her quickly.

“And now what?”

“You can’t tell it like that!”

“Like what?” She asks raising a brow.

“Like that!” He points at her as if it was obvious “You need to tell it like it was a tale”

Emma takes a deep breath once again, readies her voice and fills herself with patience. “Ok… Once upon a time there was a very evil witch that hide herself in the island of Neverland under the appearance of a young peasant. Her name was Cora and she was the mother of Mayor Regina. During all those months in where Storybrooke’s village thought of her as dead she remained under the care of the shadow, licking her wounds and infiltrating herself between Philip’s men, planning for the kidnapping of the little Henry…”

“Hey! I’m not so little”

“The kidnapping of the not-so-little Henry” She corrects. When she sees that the restless kid is about to talk again she puts a finger over his lips. “Shhh. But this was nothing but a plan to trick and take her daughter Regina back…”


Emma’s side as a storyteller is not precisely one of the most known ones of the savior and when Regina climbs up the stairs she is fascinated by Emma’s tale. She ends up, not knowing exactly how, listening to it next to the door, half-hidden to the view. She must admit that the sheriff is a good narrator and quite funny on it.

“Under the beautiful appearance of the mayor Cora approached Emma in order to ready the hex that would fall upon Regina. It wouldn’t be a normal spell nor there would be any spinning wheel that would prick fingers or poisoned apples. No, like always, Cora went a step further, taking it to the cruelest and despicable of things. She stole a kiss to the innocent and slightly forgetful savior and cursed her lips so when she would give a true love kiss to the mayor the hex would be able to fall on her”

“Grandma kissed you?” The sleepy-laced voice of Henry interrupts her, surprised and slightly grossed out.

“Yes… In hindsight it was cruel and, obviously, more than a little gross” The sound of the soft laughs from Henry makes Regina imagine him lying on his bed, tucked in and with his eyes already half-closed. “So when the savior finally rose and went down to have breakfast with her family she couldn’t help herself and kissed the mayor. Cora’s dark magic took fool effect then” The mayor, resting against the door, lets herself be carried by the tale. She likes how Emma narrates; her voice is calming and sweet and the words she uses, like family, makes her like it even more. Without realizing she had also get stuck on the sheriff’s tale. “Slowly, Regina started to forget who she was, what had happened the last few years or where or with whom she was. For her only the curse existed and she was instants away of throwing it. She disappeared, carrying Henry with her –since Cora was sure that they will need his heart- and, tricked, she started to ready the curse that would end up with her new and more than earned life. However, before asking the curse what heart was the one she needed the good guys managed to find them…”

Regina knows how everything has played up and how the story ends but she can’t stop her heart from shrinking at the memory Emma is telling comes once again to her mind. She transforms herself into a viewer of her own story and she doesn’t like what she sees.

“… The curse had spoken; it needed the heart of the savior. Emma tried to fight, she even, literally, covered the mouth of the ruthless Cora. Her magic, however, wasn’t strong enough for the cursed Regina and she ended up under her, with a hand of the Queen dip inside her chest. Something that she wouldn’t have done in other circumstance and what had been initiated by her evil mother”

Henry and Regina are two statues, silent and hanging from Emma’s words.

“But there was something that Cora hadn’t think about. Love. When the heart of the savior started to beat on Regina’s heart the curse broke. Emma trusted her, she knew she would never hurt her and that trust and fealty was strong enough to break the dark magic of Cora.  A second after that Regina turned towards her mother, ready to battle her and The Queen of Hearts was barely unable to answer. She tried to wound her daughter, to all the ones around them, but Regina asked for them to cover themselves, that she would take charge of her mother. Protecting the savior’s heart and not letting not even a drop a magic hurt it, she fought against her mother like a true heroine. Her magic ended up defeating Cora’s dirty power but The Queen still tried one last attack against the heart Regina hold on her hands. It was futile however, so much even that it was her the one who lost her heart; that little piece of coal that beat on her chest. The evil witch closed her eyes forever and Regina was able to turn the heart of the savior to her body at the end. Once again, the good guys had won.”

Regina had never considered herself a heroine. Not until that moment. And it isn’t even because of something she has done. But because how Emma’s eyes see her, the way she has of telling what happened, the way she has of talking about her. This is the reason why she feels like a damned heroine. A damned heroine about to tear up.

“Henry?” Whispers Emma. His only answer is a little huff; soundly asleep. “Goodnight kiddo” Regina looks inside just in time to see her kissing his forehead and raising from his side. She tiptoes back to her initial position, like a burglar, and waits for her. Hidden, happy and sentimental, tapping her fingers against the wall.

When Emma steps outside those same fingers grab her shoulder and push her pinning her against the wall. The savior has a little of déjà vu at this, one that includes a ship and a few passionate bangs against its wooden walls. This time however that hold isn’t filled with the aggressiveness and the indifference that had those first kisses. No, this is the hand of Regina pulling her sweetly and voraciously, tugging her clothes to trap her against the wall and her body. Soft, intimate, tender, and Emma lets herself be trapped. She likes surprises and especially the ones that have such the glint Regina’s eyes have.

“What?” Emma whispers as she swallows.

“I fucking love you Sheriff Swan” It isn’t what she had thought on saying but it has escaped from her. She was going to say something joking about her work as a storyteller or perhaps greeting her in a very special way for having make Henry fall asleep so quickly. Her mouth, however, has decided to opt for sincerity without even asking her first.

Having Emma in front of her, after having crowned her as the heroin of her tale and smiling so tenderly and confidently has been too much for her own control. So long having being worried of not being able to express the turmoil she had been in for the past few days and then it escapes her like this. Simple, unthinkingly and filled with all of his love. With a bitter edge of course, good habits must never be forgotten.

In front of her Emma gapes a few times, smiling and astonished.

“Well, say something, no?” Regina’s complain comes with a pout adorably childlike, even a little insecure. Emma’s reflexes work in fits and starts and so she is slow on her answer. She loves her. Regina loves her. Her. The mayor has fallen in love with her. She processes it slowly but the happiness she feels is entirely hers. She could jump to the roof but, instead, she throws herself towards her to kiss her. She grabs her face between her hands, wets her lips and…

“You have said it mom! YOU HAVE SAID IT!”

That screams stops Emma on her tracks and freezes Regina. Is Henry, jumping out of his bed and screaming like crazy.

“You have told her how you feel; this is your happy ending!”

“Henry, stop, stop” Regina says landing once again on the real world, not that one in which she is alone with Emma, about to open up to her and kiss her for the rest of the night. The return to the real world has reminded her her son’s theory, that one which would end up with the ending of the curse. “Yes, I’ve done it… but nothing seems to have change, haven’t it?” She asks embarrassed but carefully, trying not to break any illusions.

“Is true, Henry…” Emma clicks her tongue while shrugging. She wants to play it down and avoid making her soon feel dejected. “Maybe we need to wait more or...”

“No, I’m sure of this! Is…”

He stops talking. Under his feet the floor starts to shake. The shaking climbs up the walls and arrives at the floor. The way the house is vibrating threatens to take it down and immediately Emma throws herself to curl around Regina and Henry, pushing them towards her. They form a closed circle as the trembling keeps growing. Blind but protected Henry closes his eyes while grabbing onto one of his mothers even if he doesn’t know whom while wishing for the trembling to stop.

The movement keeps escalating. Everything trembles, flies and there is no a wall standing anymore. The collapse of his world lasts another five more seconds and disappear as it came, no advice, no warning, leaving behind a pleasant peace, almost surreal.

“What the…” Emma’s question wakes Henry’s curiosity and erases the panic she had been feeling two seconds ago. He wiggles out their hold, wanting to see again.

And what he finds in front of him is not his house. Is also nighttime there but there it ends the similarities: They are in a gigantic meadow with a little road for carts. It almost seems an entrance for carriages. Because, without a doubt, they aren’t in Storybrooke anymore. This is the Enchanted Forest.

“We made it” Is Henry’s victorious scream.

Emma widens her eyes, astonished as she looks at Regina, also dumbfounded. “Is he right?”

“He looks like he was right… you are my happy ending” Regina looks like the vivid image of happiness. She would never had thought that she would feel so fortunate to go back to that land where she had been so unhappy. Going back there though, with Emma and their son, is the dream she would have never think about before. Her voice is brimming with tears, with an innocence that makes her look like the Regina she had been so many years ago. “We are home”

Emma, surrounded by a world she doesn’t know in the middle of a medieval setting, is with her. Is that how she feels; at home. And she can’t lift her eyes from Regina’s smile. The most beautiful and authentic smile the mayor of the former Storybrooke, has ever had. So sincere, so irresistible…

“We made it…” She whispers, ecstatic before grabbing the other woman by the waist and steal from her one of those kisses that leave a mark and make history, of those that make their lips tingle even hours before receiving them. They keep it going happily until they heard someone clearing uncomfortable their throat. They split, expecting for Henry’s joking face to be looking at them.

But that is not what happens.

At their backs, where they hadn’t even think on looking, the rest of the city has also appeared too. They are leaded by David and Snow and the rest of the citizens are looking at them like they were looking directly at a green unicorn talking about the string theory.

This is, by far, the worst interruption possible. And they have been having quite a few. A lot. But this one definetely wins the rest. Yes, there is no one who isn’t there. There is even people would say she has never seen before. Although is obvious they know who she is. Or worst, they now know their thing with Emma.

It can’t be happening… is that what she is thinking about. Did she hate their interruptions with Emma? This is the biggest interruption ever and she is hoping for the newly re-found land to open a hole and swallow her. At her side Emma doesn’t look better than her. She is blushing madly and her parents don’t know where to look. The rest of the citizens, instead of jumping happily and go running towards their lands and homes keep looking at them silently.

“Well… it seems that Henry was right, uh?” Snow stammers with a stilted chuckle. Regina nods and a grimace as a smile as she scratches her forehead. She can’t handle this, she doesn’t know how, is bigger than her… but not to the two of them. Together. Emma interlaces her hand with hers and when Regina searches on her eyes the savior is smiling. Everything is ok and there is nothing they both can’t do. She smiles, this time with her heart and she squeezes the other hand as strongly as she feels.

The gesture isn’t lost on Storybrooke’s habitants and the crowd leaves behind that ant natural silence and start screaming and asking, completely surprised.

Regina, astonished, realizes that not every reaction is negative. In fact, almost all of them sound positive, even happy. Are those citizens that once upon a time feared her presence now talking about their personal life. She can’t decide what is more surrealist; being sentimentally exposed in front of the entire kingdom, their acceptance or how good she feels about it.

Either way, they are back. They are in the Enchanted Forest and her family is with her. The curse is broken and there is nothing else she could wish for.

Well, yeah, for everyone to stop looking at them before she needs to use her Evil Queen magic. Please.

 

The End