Regina,

I hope you're well. I'm pretty sure you're not, but you know, hope is the last thing that leaves you or whatever.

I would say that these weeks without you have been like hell, but that would probably – once again – put me right up there with my clueless mother. I really don't want that.

I can't get out of my head what you said that day. I don't blame you for it (you had every right to say it) but it still hurt. Not what you said, but why you said it. Because I hurt you. I fucking hurt you.

We'd gone from enemies to allies to friends and then I had to fuck it up and now you hate me. The only thing that makes it remotely bearable is the fact that I don't see you anymore, that I don't have to see the pain and the betrayal in your eyes and know that it's my fault.

I want to say I'm sorry. I want to beg for your forgiveness and then hug you and kiss you and protect you from everything bad in the world but I'm the last person you'd want anything from.

I wish I could stop loving you. It would make things so much easier. At least for me. I doubt you'd care either way.

Love, Emma

Regina stared at the paper with a dumbfounded expression. What had she just read?

Turning it over, she saw nothing but blank paper, no clues to what the strange letter was or why it existed in the first place.

She flipped it back, carefully reading it again. It did look like something Emma had written. It was her messy scrawl, her somewhat incoherent rambling. She had seen enough paperwork written by the sheriff to recognize Emma's work.

That still left why Emma had written it.

A practical joke of some kind? Something to try to make amends for taking Robin away from her?

But that didn't explain that last paragraph. What did it mean? Emma might find her attractive – many did, after all – but love? Regina would have known. She most certainly would have known.

Little Neal gurgled happily in her arms, a welcome distraction.

She had come to the Charmings' hovel of an apartment to look after their baby while they were out, not to try to decipher odd letters from her son's estranged other mother.

"Just be glad you can't read yet," she told the infant, tickling his nose with the corner of the letter. "Otherwise I would've had you to figure this out."

Neal giggled, trying in vain to catch the paper. His failure only amused him further.

"You truly have your sister's simple sense of humor, little one," Regina murmured with a wry smile, one that quickly faded away when thoughts of the blonde woman resurfaced.

According to Snow, Emma had written and left the letter on the kitchen table earlier that day, apparently forgetting it when she was needed at the station. Snow had read the first word and had promptly put it down again, not wanting to get involved in whatever was going on between Regina and Emma.

Snow had thought that it was some kind of written apology or a note concerning Henry's living arrangements, knowing how Regina and Emma had avoided each other like the plague since that awful incident at the diner.

And now Regina sat there with the letter and far too many questions for her own liking. Trust Emma to complicate her life.

Suddenly, the door flew open and Emma stormed into the apartment, her cheeks flushed and breathing heavily.

"Mom, did you see–"

She froze when she saw Regina sitting in the couch, still holding the carefully folded paper just out of Neal's reach. The color drained from Emma's face and her eyes grew wide in horror as they zeroed in on the letter in Regina's hand.

"You read it." It was quiet, not much more than a whisper.

Before Regina had time to respond, Emma stumbled back and then ran out of the apartment.

"Emma!" Regina called out, but she had already left. Cursing loudly, Regina took a few steps towards the door before she thought better of it, poofing herself and the baby in her arms to the street outside.

Emma was trying to open the police cruiser, blinking away tears that wouldn't stop flowing. "Fuck," she sobbed as the keys fell to the ground, her hands shaking too much.

"Emma," Regina repeated, softer this time. She slowly drew closer, approaching carefully as if Emma was an injured animal.

"No," was the only thing Emma breathed, shaking her head violently. She closed her eyes and clenched her fists, brows furrowed.

Regina smelled it before she saw it, that telltale scent of Emma's magic.

"No, don't–"

And then Emma was gone, a cloud of white smoke taking her place.


It was a week later and no one seemed to have the slightest clue of where Emma was, not even her parents or Henry.

Regina shouldn't have been surprised – after all, running was in Emma's nature – but she had thought they were past that. Would she really run away without Henry, without even telling him?

What was stranger, though, was that the yellow deathtrap she called a car was still in town, untouched ever since Emma's disappearance.

She had even used a locator spell to try to find Emma, but it had failed. Emma was outside Storybrooke, without her car.

Nothing made any sense.

And so she stood there in Emma's apartment, skeleton keys in hand. She hated invading Emma's privacy, but after a week of no life signs whatsoever from her, Regina felt it was reason enough to turn to more drastic measures.

The apartment was fairly clean, especially considering Emma's general lack of order. The kitchen was worse, the fridge full of smelly substances that at one time probably had been food. Wrinkling her nose, Regina closed the door quickly. Emma had definitely not lived here since she had disappeared.

Entering the bedroom, her focus was immediately drawn to a box lying on the bed next to a pile of papers. Papers that were suspiciously similar to the one that now lay in a locked drawer in Regina's own bedroom.

A sense of dread and confusion crept up on her. There were more letters?

She picked up one at random and unfolded it. Despite feeling bad about invading Emma's privacy, Regina had to look for any clues to her whereabouts; for all she knew, these could be suicide letters. She shuddered at the thought but forced it down and focused on the letter.

Regina,

God, I hate Robin. He's so nice and sweet and treats you well and I still can't like him. I can barely even tolerate him. All I can think about is how much I wish it was me instead of him there with you. Guess how much I laughed when I realized we're both thieves and single parents with cute sons? Yeah, fuck me. (not like that's gonna happen though)

And you know, despite everything, I can't be anything but happy for you. You deserve all the happiness you get, no matter who gives it to you. I'm just selfish cause I want you myself.

Emma

Regina blinked, shaking her head and reached for another letter. This wasn't possible.

Regina,

Did you know I actually dreamed of a woman that kinda looked like you when I was in New York? Yeah, crazy shit. Can't lie, some of those dreams were... steamy. With which I mean really fucking hot.

Hook is an ass like always, pestering me worse than a bad rash. I don't like that Robin guy either. Seems kinda sketchy to me.

I'm really glad we're getting along now, though. Maybe I can get my head out of my ass when this curse is all over and ask you out properly or something. I've been a coward for far too long.

Love, Emma

"No," Regina muttered, "no, I would have known something. I'm not that blind." She pulled up yet another letter, this one further down in the pile. She gave it an odd look. The scrawl was even messier than the others and the paper had stains of some kind.

Regina,

Fuck I love your name. Like I could totally get off to saying it out loud. Or moan it. Been there, done that (lots of times)

Sooo I might be a bit drunk. And really horny. It's kinda your fault, with your fuck-me heels and skirts and makeup and everything and shit now I sound like some creepy rapist. I'm really not though. I would never do anything to you that you didn't want. In fact, I'd prolly let you top me if you wanted to. That would be really hot.

I really shouldnt write when im drunk

or masturbating

Regina stared at the letter for a few seconds, a blush heating up her cheeks. New letter, stat. She wasn't sure she wanted to know what those stains were.

The one she picked up was another type of paper, dirtier and was folded worse than the others. Odd.

Regina,

This enchanted forest or whatever you guys call it is shit. I want toilets and fast food and less fucking ogres and zombies and whatever that want to kill us. I totally understand why you wanted to curse everyone out of here. (not gonna show this to Mary Margaret, ever)

Here's something else I'm not telling anyone. I kind of miss you. Yeah, pretty pathetic, I know. Just got my parents back and Henry and saved everyone blah blah blah. I miss your sass and your smirks and your voice. Not gonna tell you how many times I've got off to that. Good thing you don't know that or I would have been more of a puppet than Sidney.

Guess my plan to ask you out kind of blew up in my face now. It's bad enough that we already act like divorced lesbian mommies, we don't need a family feud on top of it. But I guess we already have one.

Emma

Regina frantically skimmed through letter after letter, feeling as if she was reading something from an alternate universe.

Emma Swan was actually in love with her and had been since before the curse broke. It was true. Emma wouldn't have been able to make this all up as a hoax or a scam of some kind, it wasn't her style.

So.

Emma was in love with her.

Shell-shocked didn't quite fully describe how she felt.


Emma had been gone for almost two weeks when she showed up on Regina's doorstep, eyes downcast and hands shoved down her pockets. She looked up when the door opened, a weak smile on her lips.

"Hi."

"Miss Swan."

Shifting her weight from leg to leg, Emma pulled up her hands only to shove them down her back pockets instead.

"Look, I..." She sighed, looking down again. "I know I'm probably the last person you want to talk to right now–"

"No, I–"

"Just– just let me finish, okay?" Emma cut her off. "I've already told Henry I'm back and that I left because of personal adult problems." She paused, chewing on her cheek. "I know I'm in no place to ask for a favor, but... I don't want him to know about this. To know about why I left."

Regina crossed her arms, pursing her lips. "You want me to lie to our son."

"It's not a lie," Emma winced, "it's not being super specific. He doesn't need to know every little thing about our lives."

"Fine," Regina sighed. "I won't tell him. Now, about–"

"No," Emma blurted out, holding out her hands in front of her. "I really, really don't want to talk about that, okay? So I'll just leave now and get out of your hair and we move on like it never happened." She blinked, trying to hold back the tears that threatened to spill but couldn't stop her voice from cracking at the end.

"Miss Swan–" she tried, softening her voice but Emma wanted none of it.

"No," she repeated, taking a step backwards. "Just... no. I can't handle any more of this."

A white puff of smoke told of Emma's departure.

"I should never have taught her magic," Regina muttered, thoroughly frustrated with the teleporting blonde.


It was five days after Emma had knocked on her door and more than two weeks since Regina had been able to concentrate on something other than her son's other mother.

Regina wasn't sure anymore what her feelings towards Emma were, but they were anything but simple. Anger? Yes. Frustration? Most definitely. Attraction? Begrudgingly yes. Something... more?

Maybe. Possibly.

And she was fairly good with Henry.

In any case, she had to talk to Emma about it, she had to get all of this out in the open air, without Emma poofing away in the middle of a sentence.

Luckily, she knew exactly the spell to do the trick.


Emma looked horrified or nauseous when she saw Regina outside her door; it was hard to tell. Before she had time to poof away, Regina flicked her wrist, a faint purple light flashing in the room.

"What did you do?" Emma asked, too surprised to stop Regina from entering the apartment. She tried to focus her magic like she'd done before, but nothing happened. She was still in her apartment, far too close to Regina.

"Nothing to worry about dear, just a little something to stop you from disappearing again." She tilted her head, a smirk tugging on her lips. "Although, I must say I'm impressed that you learned it on your own."

For a split second, Emma's face lit up with pride, before she remembered why they were there and her face fell again.

"Now, your letters–"

Emma looked up sharply. "Letters? You read the others?"

"A few," Regina acquiesced, not entirely proud of it, "when I was trying to figure out what had happened to you."

"Those were private," Emma gritted out, clenching her fists. "No one was supposed to read them."

"Then why did you write them?" Regina asked, looking utterly perplexed.

"I..." She sighed, visibly deflating. "I had this therapist a couple of years back who had me write letters to people I wanted to tell something but didn't have the guts to talk to, or who were out of my life already." She shrugged. "When I got here, I figured it was a good way to deal with you being a bitch."

"Oh. I didn't see the early ones."

Emma scoffed. "No, you probably got to read the ones where I'm a lovesick idiot. Good times."

Regina looked at her with a thoughtful expression. "When were you going to tell me?" she finally asked.

"What? About the letters? Never."

"About you being in love with me."

Emma blinked, her cheeks turning red. "Uh, I– I mean, with the curse, and now you hate me, and–"

"If I truly hated you, why would I be here, Miss Swan?"

"I'm– uh, blackmail?"

Regina rolled her eyes. "Do you really believe that?"

"No," Emma said after a little while in a small voice. "So, why are you here? I've been staying out of your way, I haven't–"

"I don't," Regina cut her off, taking a step towards Emma, "appreciate people deciding things for me."

"I don't understand," Emma whispered helplessly, eyes flitting between Regina's lips and eyes.

"You're an idiot, Emma," Regina said with a fond smile, pulling Emma closer by her shirt and pressing their lips together in a soft, chaste kiss.

"Regina," Emma moaned as they pulled apart, eyes hopeful. "Is this..."

"I don't know what this is," Regina murmured, tracing Emma's lips with a manicured finger, "but I'm willing to find out."

Emma just stared at her. "Oh."

"Now shut up and kiss me again."