A/N: Greetings Friends! We have finally reached the end of our little fluff-story. I hope you've enjoyed reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it. I would like to thank everyone for their reviews, they were very encouraging- and I can't wait to hear what you all thought of the ending. I just sat down a few hours ago and plugged this out, so it's without editing- do forgive the errors.
Writing this story has been a wonderful escape for me. I'm currently going through a lot like losing my job and now my house- writing this story and interacting with all of you have really helped me and I would like to thank you for your support. Special shout out to Anika who gave me a lot of great feedback that encouraged me to continue this story. Though this story is done, I just started an AU SQ/Star Wars crossover fic if you're interested in diving into that.
Again, another heart felt thank you to all of you for reading this story and also for reviewing. I wrote this whole chapter while listening to "Smile" by Charlie Chaplin (I put the lyrics in at the very end of the chapter). I highly recommend everyone listen to it while reading, and/or just in general. It's a wonderful song that has really influenced this story as well as my life. I hope I was able to make you laugh and feel all the fluffy warm-fuzzies. If I did any of that, then I accomplished what I set out to do. Anyway, I'll stop babbling and let you read. Thank you, Gracias, and Danke!
The citizens of Storybrooke all had a dark smudge deeply embedded in their pasts. Living in a new realm with new lives that are not under brutal medieval principles had a lasting effect on each individual. Their contemporary lives became more of a fairy tale than their previous lives, and they were absolutely dedicated to maintaining their happy new existence through cultivating new relationships and loyally guarding and mending those of the past. They poured their heart and soul into providing better lives for children, not wishing them to be raised in the same rigid and savage land like the Enchanted Forest.
Concerning babysitters, Storybrooke never lacks an able body- especially when said child being babysat is the granddaughter of Snow White and Prince Charming, plus she is also the daughter of the former Queen and Savior. Everyone adored Charlotte Swan-Mills to the degree that Regina and Emma had to set up a babysitting schedule for each Friday when they went out for a night together. At the top of the list sat Snow White. She would snuggle on the couch with her granddaughter and read her fairytales, while constantly spoiling her in every way she could. Next would be Charming. Together they'd play dress up and run around the house with play swords before curling up together and watching Indiana Jones. Granny would show up with loads of food (hiding the sweets at the bottom of her basket away from Regina's disapproving eye). Together she and Charlotte would make a fort out of pillows and blankets. They'd sit inside with flashlights and eat her pastries while exchanging ghost stories. She and August would play in the backyard, working in the garden or doing anything as long as it was outside until August was satisfied that Charlotte had a connection with the earth. Ruby would make popcorn and put on Lady Gaga and Beyonce music videos reasoning that an education in contemporary pop culture would make Charlotte well rounded.
She was so incredibly grateful for the life she now possessed. For decades Emma had searched for a home. Little did she know all that it took was her to open her heart, and home would be where love is. Technically it took a curse, fairy tale characters, and a whole lot of pitchforks, carcrashes, and mobs- but love's the point. She smiled to herself as she drove home from her date with her wife. She got out of the car and could barely wait to get inside the house to see her daughter. It was her favorite part every Friday night. She rushed to the front door and burst through it. "Charlie! We're home!" she shouted into the echoey house. A loud thud and the sound of small, pattering feet came sounding from upstairs. A squiggly little flurry of brown hair and green eyes came bobbing down the stairs in her small, purple night gown. "MOMMMMY!" She squealed as she ran into Emma's arms. The blonde hoisted her up over her head and squeezed as tightly as she could- twirling her daughter around and around. The little girl giggled at her blonde mother and squirmed out of her arms so she could run to her brunette mother who was still walking up the path from the car. "MOM!" She cried out from the doorway. She ran down the path into her brunette mother's arms plating kisses all over her face. Regina held her daughter's head in her hands and rubbed their noses together, "Hello little bean." Emma walked out and hugged her wife and daughter together.
"So, kid, where's Nana Snow? Did you lock her in the bathroom again?" Charlotte giggled mischievously.
"Nooooo." She bit her lip.
"Charlotte, are you lying?" said Regina holding her daughter's chin so she looked into her eyes.
"Nooooo." She said with a giggle.
"Then what's so funny, huh?" said Emma poking her daughter gently on the belly button.
"Noooooothiiiing. It's a surprise." She said with a large grin.
"A surprise, eh?" Emma grinned at Regina.
"And what surprise would that be, little bean?" said Regina moving into position behind her daughter as Emma stepped in front of the little brunette. They had a practiced method of getting secrets from their little trouble-maker.
"Nuh uh, can't tell." Said the little girl pushing her chin up. Regina shot Emma a mischievous glance and they dove in; Emma tickling her daughter's belly feverishly while Regina tickled up and down her sides. The little girl shrieked and giggled trying to get away, but both mothers picked her up and squished her between them peppering her in kisses.
"You better tell us." Said Regina kissing all over her daughter's cheeks.
"N-n-noooo!" she giggled trying to get away.
"Come on, Charlie, you know you want to." Emma said as she kissed around her daughter's now exposed belly.
"Never surrender, Chuck! You can't let our moms win!" Came a loud, deep voice from the doorway. Emma and Regina snapped their heads to the door and nearly dropped Charlotte in surprise. She wiggled out of their arms and ran towards the door and clung to her older brother's leg.
"Henry!" the two mothers shouted at the same time.
"Suuuurprise!" squealed Charlotte flinging her arms into the air. The two mothers rushed to the door into their son's arms. He wrapped his arms around them kissing both on the tops of their head.
"How dare you do this." Said Regina with a huge smile as she stepped away and slapped her son over the shoulder.
"You know I can't resist surprising you guys."
"That was mean." Said Emma wiping a joyous tear from her eye. They hadn't seen Henry in almost a year. He had gotten an internship as an assistant storyboard editor for a New York-based cartoon company. Having an unpaid internship and another fulltime job waiting tables didn't allow a lot of free time to travel to Maine with rent to pay and a large stomach to fill. The last time he was in town was the previous Christmas and it was now a couple days before Christmas Eve. To Regina's delight he had decided to shave his beard and adopt the air of a young professional. And to Emma's delight, she and Henry would meet up online and play World of Warcraft together every other weekend. They released from their hugs and stood holding hands while Charlotte tug at Henry's pants.
"Hennneeee! Pick me up! Pick me up!"
"Pick me up, what?" Said Regina raising an eyebrow at her daughter.
"Pick me up, please, Hennee?" Henry laughed and picked up his now four year old little sister placing her on top of his shoulders the family turned and entered the house. They entered the living room and Emma bolted to the kitchen announcing she'd make hot cocoa. Henry plopped Charlotte on the couch and she quickly scrambled up and ran to her little bucket of toys in the corner of the room.
"Come play with me, Hennee!" she called to her brother as she flung toy trucks, Star Wars figurines, and balls out of the bucket.
"Just a second, Chuck!" he called to her, smiling. Regina sat next to her son and took her face in his hands, rubbing her thumb over his smooth cheek.
"I'm so proud of you, sweetie." He blushed and put his hand over his mom's.
"You raised me well, mom. Both you and Ma."
"We did our best." The brunette sighed. Henry noted a twinge of uncomfortable memories flashing across his mother's eyes.
"You really did, mom. Remember when I was little and would sit on your lap while you worked?"
"Yes. You were so well-behaved." She smiled and glanced down.
"I wanted to be like you." His eyes looked deeply into his mother's dark eyes. He tried to convey all of the love and compassion he felt for his mother until through his eyes until he saw her troubled memories wash away from her eyes in a pool of tears. "You're my hero, mom." She playfully slapped her son on the chest before he pulled her into a huge embrace as she let out a few soft tears onto his shirt.
"Aaaw, you're having sappy moments without me?!" said Emma strolling into the room with four mugs of hot cocoa. She placed them on the coffee table and squished between her wife and her son. "Make way you two, it's not fair not to include me." She said playfully. They all snuggled up on the couch, Charlotte took note of this and barreled towards them leaping onto her blonde mother's lap, bouncing up and down. Henry giggled and tickled her stomach before looking at the hot cocoa on the table and then back at his moms.
"You should probably make one more cup."
"Why? There's only four of us." Said Emma.
"Five. Chuck and I may have locked Nana Snow in the upstairs bathroom." Charlotte giggled madly and lept off the couch and ran to the other side of the room hiding behind a bookshelf to hide from the trouble she was about to be in. After a beat of surprise, Regina and Emma erupted into enormous laughter. Charlotte giggled from behind the bookshelf, still worried to come out for fear of punishment. Regina and Emma fell off the couch deep in a fit of laughter.
"I-I-I suppose we should go let my mom out." Heaved Emma wiping tears from her eyes.
"Or not." Smirked Regina. They laughed harder.
"I'll go get her." Said Emma kissing her wife on the cheek and standing up trying to control her face. She hopped up the stairs and went over to the bathroom. She waved a hand over the handle of the door and heard a soft click. She opened the door to find her mother hunched over sitting on the edge of the bathtub.
"Magical grandchildren can be a bitch, eh?" she smirked at her mother.
"But at least having a magical child has its benefits." Said Snow smiling and brushing off her pants. "I missed the reunion didn't I?" she huffed.
"Damn. I always miss the sweet things." Said Snow shaking her head.
"Come on downstairs and have some cocoa." Said Emma patting her mother on the back.
They walked down the stairs and entered the living room to find that Regina had lined her children up at attention. She stood behind them with her arms folded.
"Now kids, what do you say?"
"Sorry, Grandma." Said Henry with a small smirk. Charlotte held her head down with a small pout on her face.
"I'm sorry, Nana." She mumbled.
"And what else, Charlotte?" said Regina curving her lips. Charlotte gave a big sigh.
"I promise not to lock you in the bathroom with magic." She turned around and looked at her brunette mother who nodded with pride.
"That's right, kid. No magic unless one of your moms is home and you have their permission." Emma said smirking at her ashamed daughter. Snow walked over to Charlotte and knelt in front of her so they stood at the same height. She took her chin in her hands and smiled into those watery green eyes that looked just like Emma's.
"Thank you for your apology, dearest." She kissed her granddaughter's little button nose, her eyes watered up as she felt tiny little hands curl around her neck. She picked her granddaughter up and whirled her around making her giggle. "Now. How about that cocoa?" Charlotte nodded with a large smiled and scrambled to the ground, running to the coffee table. Just then, the doorbell rang.
"Are we expecting anyone?" Regina said glancing at Emma who shook her head. They looked at Snow who had a wry little smile.
"It's my revenge for being locked in the bathroom." She said. The front door opened and Charming came waltzing in with a bottle of wine. Behind him came Granny, Ruby, August, Archie, Dr. Whale, the seven dwarves (fully clothed), the Blue Fairy, Belle, and even Jefferson and Grace (who looked particularly overwhelmed at being in such close proximity to the people they had watched daily from far away).
"We heard Henry's back in town and want to have a little welcome back slash pre-Christmas party." Said Charming with a large smile. "As punishment for locking his grandmother in the bathroom we have to drown this kid in a humiliating amount of attention." He said rumpling his grandson's hair. Charlotte ran to her grandpa hugging his legs.
"Graaaammmpaa!" she squealed. She turned and saw the crowd of people behind him and looked as though she was going to burst with excitement. "Gran Gran!" she ran to Granny's arms, "Princess Wolf!" she hugged Ruby's legs, "Jimnee!" she ran and hugged Archie's legs. She tried calling him by his Enchanted Forest name ever since she learned he had been one of her favorite Fairy Tale characters. "August!" she hugged his legs. "I made snow flowers in the backyard!" she whispered excitedly in his ears. His earth-loving heart melted as she pecked him on the cheek. Skipping Dr. Whale she ran straight to the Blue Fairy. "I've been very good lately, Except for today. I helped Hennee lock Nana in the bathroom, but everything's okay now!" After hearing Blue's story, Charlotte was convinced she was Santa Clause and had to tell her everything good and bad she did. "Belle!" she squealed as she ran into the red head's arms. Belle pulled a small daisy out of her purse and put it in Charlotte's hair. "Thaaaaankyouuuuuu." She approached Jefferson and Grace and looked at them curiously. "I'm Charlotte. Mommy calls me Charlie, Hennee calls me Chuck, but you can call me Charlotte just like mom." She held her hand out. Jefferson held his hands together, rubbing them a little uncomfortably. Grace stepped forward and placed her hand into Charlotte's and shook her hand.
"I'm Grace. I've been waiting a long time to meet you, Charlotte. I've seen… I mean, I've heard a lot about you." Charlotte smiled and hugged Grace tightly. "Charlotte, I've been meaning to ask you, how's your knee feeling?"
"How'd you know about it?" said the little girl, her eyes wide with shock. "Mommy promised she wouldn't tell anyone." Embarrassment reddened the little girl's cheeks as she recalled a magic lesson gone wrong where she had accidently created a hole in her knee in which butterflies would fly out of every time she sneezed.
"Oh, she didn't tell me… I was just, um, walking by and saw what happened."
"Oh." Said the little girl looking a little confused. "Promise you wont tell anyone, okay?" she said poking her finger on Grace's collarbone. Grace caught her breath, this little girl looks exactly like her brunette mother when she's threatening someone.
"I promise." They smiled at each other and Charlotte turned towards the seven dwarves who surrounded her and gave her one big collective hug. Giggling and repositioning Belle's daisy in her hair, Charlotte bolted around everyone's legs and jumped into the living room shouting with excitement and disbelief that all her favorite people were in one room. The crowd watched the little girl bounce off the walls and laughed.
"Well, since it's now a party, everyone come in and make yourselves at home!" Emma announced motioning for everyone to enter. Regina took one of Granny's large baskets of food and helped her into the kitchen. After everything was placed on the counter, Regina turned to the old woman and gave her a big hug.
"It's good to see you, Granny."
"You as well, Regina. I've hardly seen you since you got that new fancy coffee maker." She said eyeing the shiny foreign-looking coffee machine with distrust. "How's everything going?"
"Fine. Fine. Everything's been pretty quiet so Emma can come home at a reasonable hour, Charlotte's started getting really involved with drawing so I am actually able to get some work done with her at the office, Henry's here now… I can't say I could ask for very much more." The old woman looked at the mayor and felt relief that the dark eyes opposite her that had once been filled with such unfathomable anguish and malice has been replaced with deep swirls of love and peace. She reached an old wrinkly hand up and patted Regina's shoulder tenderly.
"Good for you, kid. And remember what I always say…"
"Never act a damn fool." Granny let out a laugh.
"That's not what I was going to say, but let's go with that." The two women elbowed each other playfully and began unpacking the food from the baskets. Emma sat on the couch with her parents watching Charlotte assign toys to each of the dwarves. She snorted and almost choked on her wine when she saw Blue's face as Charlotte handed her a particularly gruesome looking figurine of a Hydra. Her eyebrows rose in surprise as she watched Dr. Whale kneel down and ask if he could play. Wow, he's actually being pleasant and not a total creep, she thought, but then she saw him wiggle his eyebrows and give a look at Blue. Nevermind. Thought Emma. She was about to walk over when she saw Charlotte do her job for her- and better. The little girl reached into her bucket and thrust a giant stuffed figurine of Frankenstein's monster into Whale's hands.
"You be the monster and Blue is going to be the good monster that beats up the mean, ugly monster. That's you." She said jabbing Whale in the chest. Emma snorted once again and relaxed back into the couch.
"She has your intuition and Regina's sense of humor, that's for sure." Whispered a smiling Charming into his daughter's ears.
"Bless that child." Said Snow laughing and shaking her head.
"Yeah, she's pretty cool." Said Emma smiling as she watched her daughter direct the monster fight scene between Blue and Whale. She turned to her father, "How in the hell did you get Jefferson and Grace here?"
"Well, apparently Henry and Grace have kept in touch when they left for college. They were both at the same school in Vermont and found it helpful to have another person from this wacky town to talk to. She just started working on her Masters and…"
"Masters in what?" inquired Snow.
"Psychology." Charming said with a smirk.
"Figures." Said Emma as she took a big gulp of wine.
"Anyway, she just started working on her Masters in Vermont and Henry picked her up on his way from New York. I guess they had a long time to talk over the years, and Grace said she wanted her father to have the occasional dose of humanity up close. Henry told me about it in his last email, so I called Grace and invited her and her father tonight." He finished his story and looked over at Grace who was deep in conversation with Henry. Jefferson stood awkwardly in the far corner of the room with his third hefty glass of wine, his eyes flicking from person to person. Emma noticed Henry and Grace and eyed them suspiciously.
"You don't think…" started Snow looking in the same direction.
"That would be weird." Said Emma taking another large gulp of wine. "I mean she's spent years watching us, watching him and gods knows what else."
"Can you imagine having Jefferson as a father-in-law?" David chimed in. Both women let out a slow breath of air and thought about it.
"They would have to live in a windowless house." Said Snow.
"Regina would have an aneurism." Said Emma glancing over at her wife who was clinking full glasses of scotch with Granny and laughing. Emma loved to watch her laugh and for a moment as she watched her wife, she completely forgot about her son hypothetically being in a relationship with the daughter of a psychotic voyeur whose nickname is "The Mad Hatter." The same man who had kidnapped and drugged she and her mother all those years ago. Regina gasped at some passing comment Granny made and laughed brightly exposing her beautiful teeth with a smile that reached clear to her eyes. I love you. Thought the blonde.
"I'm so happy for you, Emma." Came her mother's voice close to her ear. She shook her head and looked to the petite Snow White sitting next to her, stroking her hair behind her ears.
"Thanks, mom." Snow's eyes filled with tears and her lips curved upwards. Emma noticed a flick of remorse pass in her mother's eyes and she knew what thought had just crossed her mind. "You gave me my best chance, mom. And you know what? I am so very grateful that you did. It may have been rough at first, but now I have Regina, my son, and a crazy adorable daughter. Not to mention I have both my parents in my life. None of this would have been possible had you not sent me away, in my opinion- it's the best thing you and dad have ever done for me. Thank you, mom. I love you."
Snow trembled and her breath grew heavy, tears flooded from her eyes and she reached forward and clutched to her daughter. When the curse first broke, both she and Emma didn't know how to act around each other. She had immediately expected a close mother-daughter relationship, but twenty-eight years of separation prevented that… at least until now. Emma was very rarely open about her emotions towards her parents, so Snow knew that what had just happened was completely genuine and she hugged her daughter with as much gratitude as she could exert from her limbs. "Okay, Snow. Choking me now." Came Emma's voice a little raspy from the constricting embrace. Snow popped backwards.
"Sorry." She said with a large smiling and wiping tears from her cheeks. "I better go to the bathroom and clean up." She walked out of the room and turned around for a moment to make sure Charlotte wasn't watching her leave for the bathroom, then turned around and continued on her way with an extra skip in her step.
"That was really nice of you, Em." Said Charming wrapping his arm around his daughter's shoulders.
"I meant every word."
"I know. Sometimes your mother just needs a little reassurance." Emma turned her head to look at her father and saw he had small tears in the corners of his eyes.
"And apparently you do too." She said with a little smile. Charming laughed and tried to produce a manly grunt as he wiped his eyes with his shirt. "You know, a few years ago Regina told me about the night the curse came. She told me about how she strolled into the nursery and found you and mom on the ground. She said that you were dying in front of her, stab wounds all over your arms and chest." David winced at the memory, it was the one time he had nearly failed.
"That's some morbid pillow talk." He said with a small laugh trying to lighten the conversation, but Emma's eyes remained seriously fixed on her father's face.
"She wanted me to know exactly what you did for me. I made some passing comment about getting sloppily tossed in a wardrobe, and she figured you two had never told me every detail about that night." She turned her body towards her father so they sat face to face. "And since we're being all gushy right now, I suppose it's a good time to tell you thank you. You saved my life… and more than that, you almost died trying to save me though you had only known me for a few minutes. You fought against the Evil Queen and her guards to save my life- and that's got to be the bravest most noble thing anyone has every done for me. Thank you." Charming bit his lip and squeezed Emma's shoulder trying to fight back the tears threatening to break free from his bright blue eyes.
"I never did get to dance with you at your first ball." He choked out, eyes pressed to the floor.
"You did, though." He turned his head and met his daughter's eyes completely confused. "At my wedding, which was technically my first ball." Charming laughed a little and dabbed his eyes with his shirt.
"Yeah, I guess we did. You have two left feet." He laughed.
"Hey, I got better." She jokingly punched his chest. "You were a good teacher."
"Thanks." His cheeks flushed red.
"And if you think about it, you do fatherly things for me all the time. You're always there for me if I need to talk, you freaked out and fainted with excitement when Charlotte was born, you babysit all the time, you're always willing to pick up shifts for me, and you save me on an almost daily basis from those crazy street cats that hang outside the station. I'd say you're a pretty good dad. Thanks." Charming was at a loss for words and pulled his daughter into a firm embrace. Both he and Emma aren't too frivolous with tossing their emotions around. They usually have a sort of unspoken understanding, but at this moment he's grateful to hear the words. He stealthily wipes his tears on Emma's shoulders before drawing back and giving her shoulder another tight squeeze. A loud bang cut through their peaceful silence and they snapped their heads in the direction of Charlotte, Blue, and Dr. Whale. A giant ball floated over Charlotte's head and it burst releasing streams of confetti onto Blue and Dr. Whale.
"Charlotte Swan-Mills!" snapped Regina.
"It was the grand fimalee!" squealed Charlotte jumping to her feet.
"That was quite the finale." Smirked Dr. Whale brushing confetti from his shoulders as he looked down at a now completely shredded Frankenstein doll. Emma laughed and walked over to her daughter.
"I got this one." She said looking at her livid wife. She peeled her daughter off the floor. "Come on, Chuck… we gotta have a talk about magic in the house."
"But mooooooooommmyyyy…" the child whined as they turned the corner out of the room. Blue seized the opportunity and rushed to the corner where Jefferson was standing now with his fifth hefty glass of wine nearly gone. She had been meaning to talk to him about peeking into the convent dormitories. The sight of her wife carrying her daughter around the corner softened Regina's temper and pushed her into a wave of nostalgia. Granny seized this opportunity and slipped into the kitchen to make sure the dwarves hadn't eaten every bit of food.
Regina stood looking at the corner her daughter and wife had just turned. She couldn't believe the surge of warm love passing through her body at that moment. She was so incredibly lucky. Although she had been deep in a hilarious conversation with Granny about Enchanted Forest plumbing (or lack thereof)- she had stolen a few glances over to the couch where her wife and her in-laws were sitting together. She had felt a surge of magic from Emma and watched intently until she realized what she felt was Emma's sincere love for her parents. She became incredibly elated for Emma as her relationship with her parents deepened to a more intimate, parental relationship instead of just close friends. Emma deserved to have parents; she deserved to have all the unconditional love that flows from being a child with parents.
Her mind drifted to her own parents… a few years ago at the thought of her parents her eyes would grow foggy and she'd try to push the memories away, but after a few years talking with Archie- she had come to terms with the relationship she had with her parents. In terms of her mother, she had grown to observe the woman's life from a different perspective that allowed her to witness and understand the torments and manipulations that created the Cora she knew. Although her mother's actions towards her could not be rationalized away, they could at least be understood.
It took a very long time for her to feel at peace with her father. After a few failed sessions with Archie, at Regina's request- Emma started coming for their sessions. She would hold her hand and stroke it softly, unconsciously transferring waves of confidence and comfort to her brunette wife. She started at the beginning and discussed how her father was always absent from their home. He would be away on business or leisure, she wasn't sure. When he would come home, he would see the fresh bruises and cuts on his daughter's small body, but would refuse to acknowledge them- trying to block out the horrors of his own life.
By the time she was a teenager, her father had gotten in a horse riding accident forcing her to nurse him back to health while her mother took on management of the estate. She was fourteen and her father was finally forced to really look at her. They spent hours talking until her mother would whisk her away for etiquette lessons, and then she'd return and they'd dive back into conversation often carrying late into the night. When he was back in shape, he got her a horse and started teaching her to ride. She didn't know what happened, but not long after that- her father stopped giving her riding lessons and assigned the task to the stable boy Daniel. She figured her mother had intervened somehow, but as she rode around she could always see her father watching her closely either from a window or outside near the house. He grew more reserved and would flinch whenever Cora entered the room. She started resenting his passivity when it came to her mother's abuse. He wouldn't say or do anything, her father would simply stand back and avoid his gaze while her mother unleashed her wrath. Through her sessions, Regina came to understand that her mother had a powerful sway over her father that terrified him to the core. Though she had been angry with him, she started to understand his actions. Slowly, other long forgotten memories of him surfaced. She remembered subtly acts of kindness. He always sent a nurse to be with her after one of Cora's "lessons." Little things like her favorite foods and sweets would show up in her room, and she realized that he tried the best he could to offer what little fatherly comfort permitted him.
The most difficult task of all her therapy sessions was reconciling her father's death. Emma would sit on Archie's couch while Regina rested her head on her wife's lap. She would shiver and panic as memories of those dark days would surface, but her anxiety would slip away as she felt her wife's fingers slowly stroking her hair. She was able to rationally approach the situation and directly confront the Evil Queen who murdered her father. Slowly and steadily, with Emma's soothing presence and Archie's unrelenting patience- she was able to forgive her father for her childhood, and more importantly she was able to forgive herself for murdering him. She believed she would always have that dark void in her heart for what she had done, but she learned and understood that her father would want her to move on and fill that void with the love of her family that resulted from her dark actions. With that final recognition, Regina was finally able to detach the Evil Queen from Regina Mills, she was able to forgive herself, she began to like herself, she was able to be happy with herself.
Although she would never have the ability to have her parents in her life, over the years she had found a kind of mother figure in Granny. It wasn't an established relationship, but Granny silently discovered Regina's thoughts towards her and even realized that she had already unconsciously taken on the mayor as a daughter of her own. Their mother-daughter relationship wasn't the sappy kind where they cry in each other's arms and weep while seeking comfort from miserable events, instead they had a talk-no-nonsense and take-no-shit relationship with subtle, silent affectionate gestures all coated with long evenings of tobacco and scotch. What both women liked the best about each other was how much they laughed. They both had a wry, snippy sense of humor that-among other company- would be received as sly, offensive comments. Both women realized they hadn't done nearly enough laughing in their lifetime, and found that they could remedy this by being friends. Regina moved from her thoughts and glanced towards the kitchen where she saw Granny slapping Leeroy's hand who was dangling half a blueberry pie up to his mouth. She snorted and scanned the room. She saw Henry and Grace deep in conversation. I wonder if they're together, she thought, Emma would have an aneurism. And speak of the devil, Emma came strolling back in the room holding a red-faced Charlotte in her arms. She plopped her daughter by her bucket of toys and motioned for her parents to play with their granddaughter. Snow and Charming sat on the floor with Charlotte and she immediately brightened up and started thrusting toy trucks into their hands.
"How is she?" asked the brunette as she smiled and wrapped her arms around her wife. Emma let out a long sigh.
"She said I was restricting her artistic expression."
"Well, not in so many words- but that's the jist of it." She pecked her wife on the lips. They put their foreheads together and just listened to each other's breathing.
"I love you." Whispered Regina.
"I love you." Whispered Emma.
They pulled apart and interlocked fingers, surveying the room together. A very flushed looking August and an equally flushed Archie sat on a couple chairs talking very passionately about their activism. August would sway and nod his head overenthusiastically as Archie hiccupped and preached about the town's lack of concern for nocturnal insects. When he'd finish, August would take the reins and barrel into a slurred rant about Storybrooke's lack of passion for trees and how the forest was perpetually being desecrated and used as, "A goddamn cesspool of teenage hormones…" and "a fuckin' brothel for all these other ignorant sex-crazed fairy tale dopes who think forests are just a giant fuckin' bed for them to fornicate on." Regina and Emma giggled and squeezed each other's hands after hearing that last comment, for they were definitely the forest brothel's number one clients when they first started dating.
Their eyes shifted back to Charlotte who had now roped in Ruby and Belle into a very intensely dramatic reenactment of Hans Christian Andersen's story, The Wild Swans. It was one of her favorites because it had a queen and swans in it. The two mothers laughed as they watched their daughter make Charming be the queen and he scrunched up his face and delivered all his lines with a goofy high-pitched voice very unbecoming for a noble King.
"He does a good impression of you." Emma whispered in her wife's ear. Regina scoffed, rolled her eyes, and gently elbowed her wife in the ribs. "Let's take a walk." The two women strolled out to the back porch and moved slowly across the yard until stopping under Regina's apple tree where they held each other in a tight embrace.
"Oh the things this tree has seen." Sighed Emma pulling back and looking up at its branches. She looked down at her wife whose eyes lit up and she raised an eyebrow.
"You mean that night all those years ago when Henry had a sleepover with his grandparents and…"
"And we got that really nice champagne."
"And that… other thing." Regina smiled devilishly.
"Couldn't walk straight for a week." Emma smiled back at her and they shared a laugh.
"You also cut a branch off when we first met."
"Ha, yes that I did. Had to get your attention somehow. You were a bitch."
"Says the woman who during her first week of knowing him, encouraged our son to distrust the mother who raised him."
"Ouch. Yeah, you got me there. But hey, the branch grew back." Emma walked closer to the tree, grazing her fingers over the bark. "I can't even see where I cut it." Regina stepped up and placed her wife's hand on the exact part. Emma leaned closer and saw a faint little scar running across the branch from where she hacked it off with a chainsaw. "Oh wow, you can still see it."
"Pity it's a bad memory."
"Bad? Oh no, dear, I wouldn't say it was a bad memory. I have that image of you all sweaty and angry holding a chainsaw etched into my brain." Her lips curved suggestively as her wife turned to her and pulled her close.
"Oh I'm sure we still have that chainsaw around here somewhere."
"Please no encores, dear, the tree has suffered enough."
"And now it's back bigger and more beautiful than ever." Said Emma as she tugged her wife's shirt, pulling her close.
"Yes it is." Regina placed her hand on the back of her wife's head, pulling her in for a deep kiss. Their lips connected and an electric wave they never tired of feeling surged through their bodies. Emma wrapped her hands around Regina's waist , sinking her fingers into the fabric as she slipped her tongue between her wife's teeth. Regina let out a little laugh and pushed back with her tongue, clinging to Emma's soft blonde curls. She felt Emma's hand squeeze her ass and she smiled pulling back and placing her index finger on her wife's hot lips.
"Now, now, Sheriff. We have guests." Emma pouted and Regina couldn't help but internally laugh at how their daughter had so perfectly acquired her blonde mother's infamous pout.
"Regiiiinnnaaaa…" she pouted, tightening her grip on the brunette's ass while snaking another hand under her wife's blouse. Regina nipped at Emma's lips and pulled away from her hands, coyly slapping them with her fingers.
"Later, dear. I promise." She smirked with a wink. She took her wife's hand and began walking back to the house. As they approached the glass doors, they took in the warm view of their living room. The seven dwarves were now assembled around the coffee table with Charming, Henry, Jefferson, and Granny playing an infamous Enchanted Forest drinking game that would ensure a very drunken and hasty departure of those involved. Grace sat on the floor with Belle and Ruby deep in conversation. Charlotte's sleeping body snuggled comfortably between the three women, one little hand embracing Ruby's, another holding onto Belle, while Grace softly stroked her dark hair. Dr. Whale and Blue stood in a corner and seemed to actually be having a civil conversation with the occasional dose of humor. A now wine-flushed Snow had joined August and Archie, she flailed her arms in the air giving a passionate speech about human rights while the two men seated opposite her nodded drunkenly periodically yelling, "Hell yeah!" and "So, right. You're so right. Right on, Snow." All three of them swaying in their chairs, Regina twitched as drips of wine escaped their glasses and fell to the floor as the activists swayed and hiccupped.
"This is pretty incredible, Regina." The brunette turned to her wife whose eyes were illuminated by the lights from inside, causing her eyes to sparkle like emeralds basking in the sunrise.
"What is, dear?"
"This," Emma gestured at the room with her free hand, "it's the town. It's our whole family. Here."
"Family." Regina murmured as her gaze drifted back to the merry scene in their living room. She moved her arm around her wife's waist, Emma mirrored her gesture and the two women sat before the doors of their house watching all of these incredible people who had suffered so much, find solace and peace with each other. Both women couldn't tear their eyes away from all the genuinely content smiles that covered the room, smiles that collected all the beauty and wonder of all the realms, smiles that splashed across the happy faces of the Savior and the former Evil Queen.
The next morning, Henry was stirred from his sleep by the sound of a laughing little girl. He groaned as his mind erupted in twinges of pain. I just had to play that damn drinking game again, he internally moaned. Hazily he stood up and shuffled out of his room to tell Charlotte to keep it down, but as he reached the bottom of the stairs- his headache vanished and he was wide-awake and smiling. Inside the living room he saw his little sister on her back on the floor, Emma kneeling over her tickling her feverishly, while Regina shuffled around them taking photos and laughing.
"My dream." He whispered out loud to himself. His body filled with warmth that shot straight to his heart and swirled about his chest. He stood at the bottom of the stairs watching his family play together, reveling in the clairvoyance of his dream. It had been a wonderful one to live in his sleep, but witnessing it in reality was much sweeter and he basked in the endearing scene.
"H-he-heeeenneeeee!" squealed Charlotte holding a tiny shaking hand out to him. "S-s-s-aaave meeee!" she laughed as her blonde mother continued her tickle assault.
"Yeah, kid… join if you dare!" taunted Emma, throwing him a look over her shoulder.
"You asked for it." Said Henry as he bounced off the stairs and ran into the room. Wrapping his arms around his blonde mother's waist, he hoisted her into the air so quickly and so high up that it made even the fearless Sheriff gasp in surprise. Charlotte giggled at the sight and scrambled to her feet. Regina shot a couple more pictures, then snuck up behind Charlotte and swooped her into her arms, pecking her stomach with kisses.
"Heenneee! HEEEENNEEEE!" cried Charlotte. Henry was face down on the floor, his blonde mother sitting on top of him, she had pulled a couple bailbonds person maneuvers on her arrogant young adult son. Motivated by her calls, Henry managed to flip Emma off his back and he ran for his little sister. Gently pulling her from Regina's arms he placed her on the couch and lifted his brunette mother into the air. He twirled her around before putting her down on the ground where he started poking his fingers behind Regina's neck. She burst into a fit of laughter and Charlotte jumped up and down on the couch laughing at her mom's reaction.
"Come on, Chuck… lesson one for a tickle war: Mom's only ticklish spot is behind her neck. Use this knowledge well!"
"Traitor!" Regina playfully hissed up at her son who simply returned the comment with a goofy grin.
"Hey, Charlie," called Emma, "Now let's all get mom!" Charlotte clapped her hands and lept off the couch, pouncing on Regina who had tears of laughter streaming down her cheeks. Emma towered over her wife, smiling mischievously down at her. "Hey kids, there's one more spot you don't know about." Regina's eyes widened in horror.
"Ooooh no you don't…" Emma flipped Regina onto her stomach. "Et tu Emma?" breathed Regina as Henry held her hands to the ground.
"Love you, Regina. But this is something I have to do." And with that, Emma sat on Regina's legs and started running her fingers on a small portion of skin just above Regina's back causing the brunette to buck and laugh uncontrollably.
"Surrender, mom!" cried Charlotte.
"Never!" gasped Regina.
"You're gonna crack." Laughed Henry as he continued to tickle his brunette mother's neck.
"Never." Repeated Regina through fits of laughter and gasps for air.
"Pulling out my secret weapon now." Said Emma calmly. She pulled Charlotte over to her and whispered in her ear. The little girl ran to Regina's feet and removed her socks.
"O-o-oh no," cried Regina, "Not… that!" Charlotte pulled her mother's socks off to reveal the soft exposed pads of her feet. She started running her tiny fingers quickly up and down making Regina burst into even harder laughs.
"Uncle!" gasped the brunette in surrender.
"Sorry, Mom, can't hear ya." Said Henry running his fingers around and around her neck.
"Uncle!" she gasped again.
"Nope, I don't think you're sure."
"UNCLE, UNCLE, UNCLE!" screamed Regina, her voice becoming hoarse with laughter. Instantly the assault stopped and the three attackers fell on top of their equally exhausted victim. They lay together on the floor panting and chuckling, kisses and soft squeezes being passed around. After a few minutes passed, the family remained in a giant Swan-Mills pile on the floor, staring off into nowhere.
"And now… my revenge." Hissed Regina playfully from the bottom of the pile. She flung her arms up in the air causing her three family members to jump to their feet and start running out of the room in different directions. Regina stood up, brushed her clothes off, instinctively adjusted a coaster on the coffee table and walked towards the entrance of the living room.
"Ten… nine… eight… seven… six… five… four… THREE… TWO… ONE! READY OR NOT, HERE I COME!" called the brunette. She walked into the foyer and jumped up the stairs with a large smile on her face as she searched and successfully found her son hiding under a bed, then she snorted as she found her wife in the closet, and lastly she found her daughter hiding in her chest of toys in her bedroom.
"You win, mom." Laughed Henry.
"You are definitely, hands down the best at this game, Regina." Said Emma kissing her wife on the cheek.
"You found all of us, mom!" squealed Charlotte as she ran to embrace her brunette mother's leg. "You won!"
"Yes. Yes I did." Regina pulled her family close and kissed each of them, who returned her kiss with brilliantly large smiles.
Smile though your heart is aching,
Smile even though it's breaking.
When there are clouds in the sky,
you'll get by.
If you smile with your fear and sorrow,
Smile and maybe tomorrow,
You'll see the sun come shining through,
Light up your face with gladness,
Hide every trace of sadness.
Although a tear may be ever so near,
That's the time you must keep on trying.
Smile, what's the use of crying.
You'll find that life is still worthwhile-
If you just smile.
That's the time you must keep on trying,
Smile, what's the use of crying.
You'll find that life is still worthwhile-
If you just smile.
- Charlie Chaplin