Blue Eyed Bandit
They tiptoed into her bedroom as quietly as they could. Regina never letting go of Ingrid's hand as they approached Emma's bed. She was lying peacefully on her back with her eyes closed. Regina could tell that Emma wasn't asleep by her peaceful position. It was too peaceful and after many nights sleeping with a knee in her stomach, she knew her daughter by now. Giggling like school children, Regina moved to the other side of the room so that she was surrounded. Simply watching her, Regina raised a finger to her mouth, signaling for Ingrid to keep quiet. Emma didn't dare open her eyes. She had been awake for a while already before they had come in. She just couldn't contain her own excitement as her eyes fluttered underneath their lids. She couldn't tell what they were whispering about, but she knew they were close.
"Today's your day!" Ingrid cheered jumping atop Emma's bed. Limbs flew, and laughter ensued as they all became tangled into the sheets of Emma's bed. Regina was right beside her as she tickled the girl to get her to open her eyes. Emma writhed and giggled trying to get away from long fingers poking her sides. She coughed but never stopped laughing. Her laugh was music to Regina's ears and she never wanted it to stop.
"I give up!" Emma shrieked. She raised her hands in surrender and laid stock still. The tickling stopped immediately. Both women took to lying on each side of Emma. Careful not to lie on Emma's hair that was getting to be too long, by the way, Regina grinned down at her, trying to catch her breath, Emma looked from Ingrid to Regina and back again. It was morning. Ingrid wasn't usually here in the mornings. "Ingrid, did you spend the night with Momma?"
Ingrid peeked over Emma's head to look at Regina. Once she gave a nod of approval, Ingrid gave out a simple, "I did."
"Oh," Emma grinned. "That's cool. Why wasn't I invited to your sleepover?"
"Well, this kind of sleepover involved grown-up things that you wouldn't be interested in," Regina explained. "A lot of boring grown-up stuff."
"Besides, don't you want to know why today is your day?" Ingrid was an expert at changing the subject. She didn't want them having to explain exactly what kind of grown-up stuff they had been doing. Neither of them could handle Emma's curiosity and her many questions this morning. Seemingly satisfied with her explanation, Emma looked between both and shrugged.
"My day?" Emma questioned. Emma looked at her hands and ticked off all the reasons why it wasn't her day. "Well, it's not my birthday, it's not Christmas or Halloween. I don't know. Are we getting a cat? A dog? A baby?" Of course, she knew what today was. She had even been counting down the days on her very own calendar. It was still fun to guess.
"Neither," Regina shook her head. "Today is your adoption day. Today is the day you become a Mills."
"Really?" Emma stood to her feet. "It's my Adoption Day! Finally?"
"Really," Regina confirmed. "Everyone is waiting downstairs for you to eat breakfast and get dressed." It was then that Emma noticed that her mom and Ingrid were dressed extra special. Not that they didn't dress nicely all the time, but they were dressed especially nice now.
"What are we waiting for?" Emma tripped over a pair of legs and almost fell head first onto the floor. Regina caught her just in time and rolled her eyes at her daughter's clumsiness. It was such an Emma move. "Momma, come on, I'm going to get adopted. Aren't you happy?"
"I am happy," Regina kissed Emma's forehead. "I'd just like to get you there in one piece."
"Right," Emma agreed. She stood once again on solid ground and walked quickly to her closet. She needed a good outfit for today.
"Her excitement is contagious." Ingrid remained in her lying position on Emma's bed. It was quite comfortable.
"I know," Regina said. "I can't believe it's happening."
"Well believe it because in a few hours you will officially be her mom." Ingrid lifted so that her chin rested on Regina's shoulder. She could feel the nervousness practically radiating from Regina in waves. There she was again. Thinking that things could go wrong for them. "Emma has always been yours. From the moment you took her into your home. We see it, she sees it, and the judge obviously sees it. It's okay to feel anxious but doesn't forget to let yourself feel happy. She's yours."
"Momma, I don't know what to wear," Emma called from her closet successfully interrupting Regina from letting her insecurities get to her. When had she become such a little diva?
Regina chuckled looking over to the dress she laid out for Emma the night before. She must have forgotten about it. Standing, she grabbed the dress and went to help Emma inside of the closet. What had been spotless before ten minutes ago was now rattled with clothes. Emma sure did know how to make a mess. She thought for a long minute before handing Emma a long t-shirt instead. With the way she ate, Emma was bound to get the dress dirty before they ever left the house. Regina watched Emma slip the t-shirt onto her body that was practically a dress itself. It was one of her college shirts that Emma continued to wear to bed despite having her own pajamas.
When she'd gotten the email from August explaining the details of Emma's adoption she almost fainted. This day had come sooner than she thought. She was adopting her daughter. Today. They were due at the courthouse in three hours which left them plenty of time to have a family breakfast. She helped Emma make her bed and off they were to the dining area.
"Is this all for me?" Emma's eyes were as wide as saucers as she climbed into her chair. She scanned the table and licked her lips at seeing all her favorite foods on display. Grilled cheese, pancakes, grapes, pineapples, cinnamon rolls (not Regina's favorite idea), and syrup. There was going to be lots and lots of syrup.
"Yep," Addison prepared Emma's plate for her as they waited for everyone else to sit down. "We thought you would never come down."
"We're starving!" Rory agreed.
"Mhmm," Alexis chimed in.
"I'm going to be adopted today did you know that?" Emma asked.
"I did." Addison bit into her bacon.
"We're all happy that you're finally becoming a Mills, Emma." Zelena raised her glass of orange juice. "To Emma and Regina," She toasted. Everyone else raised their glasses in approval. Their girl was getting adopted today.
Things felt different today that was for certain. The entire family was more upbeat and happier than they usually were. Conversation flowed easily across the table. The children would tease each other and laugh about Emma still being the youngest. Addison felt like she was involved as she talked about what they would do later in the day. They wanted to throw a small party at Granny's dinner to celebrate Emma's adoption. A celebration was what they needed.
Emma bounced excitedly in her chair as she asked whether her last name would be changed to Mills. It was a possibility and a question that Regina could not answer. She felt butterflies in her stomach as she tried to picture what the moment would finally feel like when she signed the papers. In the past year, her life had changed for the better.
"So, are you all about ready?" Regina asked as she slipped the last plate into the dishwasher. Though she never really liked to use the thing there was no time for her to hand wash.
"No, Momma, I have to get dressed." Emma hurried to her room. Regina shook her head amusingly. Emma was back in a flash with her shoes in her hand and her new coin purse in the other. "At least she got the dress on" Regina mused as she stopped Emma on the last step. With a whirl of her finger, Regina instructed Emma to turn around. She zipped the dress and fixed pulled Emma's hair over her shoulders.
"We're going to need a brush for that head, Missy." Regina helped Emma with the jewelry that she pulled from inside of the purse. They were a long way from pierced ears, but clips would do just fine.
Emma smiled from ear to ear as her mother helped to make her look presentable. She felt like a princess as she danced around the foyer in her little white heels. She twirled and twirled until she got dizzy and sat down against the steps once again. She waited for Regina to bring a brush and then sat between her legs. It was only the two of them in the foyer as everyone else was waiting in the car for them. Ingrid had left a while ago under the guise of having an emergency at work that she needed to tend to. Emma was disheartened by that but didn't let it show. Regina had promised her that Ingrid would be there as she knew there was a surprise waiting for Emma.
Her painted pink fingers tapped against Regina's knees comfortably. Regina brushing her hair had become one of her favorite things to do with her mom. She remembered the night that she had brushed it for the first time. How afraid she had been. What she remembered most was how gentle she always was. Stopping whenever Emma would feel even the slightest bit of discomfort. Emma could never describe the feeling of being safe, but she always knew that she was. Right there in her mom's arms.
"Are we ready?" Regina patted Emma's arms. They stood together, and Regina gave her a once over.
"Ready." Emma nodded. With her hand in Regina's, they left the house together. Emma was going to get adopted.
The courtroom seemed smaller than she remembered. There was no one standing over her and telling her that she was going to be in a new home. The judge wasn't going to read whatever new thing her current foster parents would say about her. No, this time there would only be good things spoken about Emma in the courtroom. She wasn't alone in this fast. Her eyes scanned the room for the very first time in a while. She spotted August and waived to him excitedly. He waved back but remained professional. She knew how these things went.
What she wasn't expecting was to see Elsa, Anna, and Kristoff sitting right next to Ingrid. She bounced much in the way she had done before and smiled to herself. She wasn't expecting so many people to come into her hearing. Emma sat right next to Regina in her own chair. They were between August, and Selena, Regina's family attorney. She'd met Selena briefly many times. One by one they were sworn in and asked to be seated again. Emma fiddled with the nail polish on her fingers as she listened to the judge ask a bunch of boring questions. She hoped whatever he asked her wouldn't be too hard. She didn't want to mess up and change his mind about the adoption. She briefly zoned out when he asked Regina something and only began to listen again when it was her turn to speak.
"Emma, do you want to be adopted?" Judge Nicholson asked. He looked down his glasses at her to make sure she understood what was happening.
"Yes, sir." Emma nodded enthusiastically. "I want to be adopted more than anything in the entire world."
"Is that right?" He listened carefully.
"Yeah, I've been waiting and waiting for a lot of days." Emma began. "I even counted on my calendar until it was one day and now it's today! Now Regina gets to be my mommy forever."
Judge Nicholson nodded and tried to hide his smile. Emma was just like the other kids he had seen come in and out of the courtroom. They never listened in on the more technical aspects of the hearing. She was excited for this day to finally come and he knew it. Which is why he was getting the meeting going as quickly as possible. He asked Regina one final question before he spoke to Emma again.
"Emma, do you want to come and help me finalize this adoption?"
Emma nodded happily and slid down from her chair. A guard helped her to step up to the podium and she has handled the gavel. She could see Elsa snapping pictures from her seat and smiled widely. The judge lifted her up so that she could reach, and she banged two times. She knew what that meant. Walking back to their table, Emma opted to sit in Regina's lap instead. She admired Regina's handwriting as final papers were signed.
Regina sniffled as she put the pen to paper. This moment was more than she could ever hope for. Emma was finally adopted. The final paper was signed, and she set the pen down again. Now it was time for pictures, Elsa was permitted to step up and snap pictures as they Emma, Regina and Judge Nicholson posed. He shook Emma's hand and smiled one last time before returning to his chambers.
"Emma, why don't you go ahead and say hi to Anna while I finish up some paperwork."
Emma didn't have to be told twice before she was jumping into Anna's arms.
"How's my favorite munchkin?" Anna hugged Emma close to her.
"I'm really good." Emma grinned. "Did you see me getting adopted? How did you get here? Hi, Kristoff."
Kristoff laughed in response as he listened to Emma talk animatedly. It had been so long since any of them had seen each other. With the school year going on they couldn't visit Storybrooke as much as they wanted. Which meant they couldn't see their favorite little person.
"I did and I'm so happy for you." Anna talked back just as animatedly. "Aunt Ingrid came to get us. We've been waiting for this day for a very long time too."
"Are you coming back to Granny's to party with us?"
"We wouldn't miss it for the world." Elsa smiled.
Once the final paperwork was done they all traveled in their respective cars back to Granny's. The diner was nearly empty, and it was a good thing. They pushed multiple tables together so that each of them could sit together as a big family.
"Ruby, Ruby!" Emma tugged on her skirt. "I got adopted. I'm adopted." Ruby apologized to the customers whose order she was taking, and she turned to Emma. They saw no problem as Emma was always well behaved whenever they saw her. The mayor's kid had quickly become Storybrooke's sweetheart.
"That is so cool, Emma." Ruby bent a little. "I'm so happy for you. I'll have the cooks bring you out the biggest slice of chocolate cake."
"Wow, thank you." Emma hugged Ruby before skipping back to her seat. She climbed into her chair and sat patiently. Sharing a few bread rolls with Addison she contributed to a conversation about her favorite Pokémon. It was Pikachu of course. He was the best.
Regina watched proudly from across the table as Emma argued her points. She had been subjected to watching Pokémon plenty of times. She saw so much change in Emma and how she continued to blossom into a happy kid. She was still her same cheeky self, but she was lighter. She seemed lighter. As if a huge weight had been lifted from her shoulders since the months they had been living together. Regina knew how incredibly lucky she was for this adoption to had gone through so quickly. It hadn't been a straightforward process, but they had finally made it.
Dinner was a hit as they all talked and danced for hours. Emma had practically passed out in her lap after eating cake. She could tell by her breathing that Emma was still awake. Her thumb had found its way into her mouth as they found comfort in one another.
"I love you, Momma," Emma mumbled around her thumb. Regina didn't have the heart to pull it away even though she knew there would be a time when it would have to stop.
"I love you too, my daughter," Regina whispered into her ear. Brushing hair out of her face, she kissed Emma's forehead. Together they watched the rest of their family dance and play games. Today had been the best day of their entire lives.