Regina re-entered Emma's room to hear a baby squalling and Emma frantically trying to calm him, even though he remained in his bassinet.
"I can't get him to stop, I don't know what I'm doing." Emma cried in desperation.
The brunette walked over calmly, reaching in and scooping the newborn into her arms. His head cradled in the crook of her arm, she rocked him. "Shhhhh, hush now, what is it?" Regina spoke softly down at the boy. Her words alone seemed to sooth him, his screams diminished to whimpers as his clouded eyes stared up at the lights above her.
"You need to hold him, Emma." Regina tried to hold the baby out for Emma to take.
Emma stepped back quickly. "No, no I don't think I should." Her voice in a panic, "You're a natural at this, he seems to like you."
"He can't even see much but blurs, all he likes is the feeling of someone's arms holding him. He's your son Emma, you need to connect with him." Regina again tried to extend the baby out to Emma. Only to have Emma take two steps backwards this time, the back of her knees hitting the bed. "Emma, I know you're scared, and I know you're probably conflicted about how you feel about him, but he is your son." Regina stepped into Emma's space, sitting down beside her on the bed, the baby still in her arms.
Emma stared slack mouthed at the baby wrapped in Regina's arms. She looked so confident holding him, he looked so comfortable. As if Regina's arms were the safest place to be. Emma's lower lip quivered, how could she love something that had come from something so awful. She'd carried him for nine months, and it had never occurred to her, that she would have to care for him once he arrived. She never considered the part about having to be his mother. She wasn't ready to be a mother. How would she protect him from all the evils of the world?
Catching Emma off guard, Regina grabbed one of Emma's hands. "Here, we'll take it slow, I'll support him, and we'll just see how you feel." Regina shifted sideways, holding the boy's head in her palm, extending her arm to place his form in Emma's arms. She adjusted Emma's arm so that his head was resting on her elbow, all the while, being sure to hold him from underneath in case she didn't have ahold of him well enough. "See, he's not scary. He's just a squishy, wrinkled, bundle of lungs." Regina smiled down at the baby.
Emma hadn't looked down at the baby yet, she was too enamored by Regina's face. The light in her eyes, the tilt of her mouth as she formed a smile. How, even with her hair a mess, and her clothes wrinkled from a long night in the hospital, could she look so breath taking. Regina looked up, meeting Emma's eyes. "You can't have a rainbow, without first, a storm. Give him a chance, Emma Swan." She spoke Emma's name with reverence, their eyes still locked. Her lips forming around the name like a prayer.
Emma felt the weight of the babe, smelled his sweet skin, finally looking down at him, in her arms, she felt it. She felt that little tug, the tug of her heart. But it wasn't just him that she looked down at, she also saw olive hands with well-manicured nails resting alongside her own. It was a picture she wanted to keep, it looked so perfect. Why did she feel so comfortable, so at peace in this moment?
"Regina?" Emma whispered, her face coming up to meet Regina's again.
"Yes," Regina responded softly.
"I am too, dear." Regina raised one of her hands to Emma's face, tucking a lock of her blonde hair behind her ear.
"It's quite a mess we're in isn't it?" Emma laughed suddenly, the baby boy jerked, startled by Emma's outburst. "Oh I'm so sorry, kid, shhhh, it's okay." Emma responded instinctively.
Regina smiled at Emma, finally giving the boy a chance.
Two days later, it was a bright and cheery morning. The smoke from the Mayor's home had finally blown completely way, all that was left was the charred land her house had once dominated. Emma and Regina were busy packing up the few of Emma's things, and the mass amounts of baby things that had been arriving in bundles to the hospital since the town found out she'd given birth. Little did Emma know, Regina had reached out to her assistant Lacey, who had finally shown back up, and requested that Lacey inquire around for anyone who had baby items they could donate. She certainly didn't expect such an amazing and generous response. Gift baskets, clothes, bundles of diapers, had been showing up in such large amounts that at one point the hospital had to request that some of it be removed, as there was barely any room to move around the room.
Outside the hospital the Mayor's Mercedes sat idling, the heat blasting in order to make sure it was plenty warm for the baby to travel in. Emma fumbled with the last few details, trying to strap the boy into his infant seat. Grumbling and cursing, she tried to get all the buckles right. Regina giggled from behind her, noticing the blonde's frustration.
"Here, I think you do the chest strap first, the rest follows. Be careful, and put your fingers under the clasp before you buckle it, so you don't accidentally pinch him." Regina placed her hands over Emma's, and helped her buckle the chest strap. Sure enough the rest of the buckles seemed to fall into place.
"How do you know how to do all this?" Emma gasped, "It's like you have super powers or something."
"Not quite super powers, I've just done some very recent research on infants lately." Regina smiled down at the cherubic face of the infant boy, now all strapped snuggly in his carrier. "The car's running out front, are you ready?"
Emma looked about the room, checking that she hadn't forgotten anything, before she hefted the carrier up, ready to head to the door. "Uh uh, I don't think so, doctor's orders, no heavy lifting for you for the next week." Regina chided, taking the carrier from Emma's hands.
Emma rolled her eyes dramatically, "Doctor's say lots of stuff, Regina, you don't have to take every single instruction so seriously."
"I take your health quite seriously, Miss Swan. So yes, I will take his instructions seriously and carry your son to my car. You can grab his diaper bag. The nurse will bring the rest out behind us." Regina brushed past Emma out of the room.
Emma sighed heavily, "Yes, your majesty…"
"What was that!?" Regina called over her shoulder, hearing very well what Emma had said. She laughed, considering they weren't headed home, and they still had a lot to sort out, the few days in the hospital learning to care for the baby had them in a rather light hearted mood. They would figure out the messy stuff as they went along.
Emma was immensely grateful for Regina's help; the brunette had barely left Emma's side the last three days. She couldn't even imagine how she would have handled things if Regina hadn't been there to lend a hand. It was a confusing feeling, but it left her chest tight and her stomach fluttery.
The car was quiet as Regina drove, Emma gazed out the window, lost in thought. She had no idea where Regina was headed, it surely wasn't back to the burnt-to-a-crisp mayoral house, since there was no house there anymore. Emma hadn't even thought to ask where they were headed when the left. She figured they would hole up at Granny's Bed & Breakfast or something. But instead Regina drove to the edge of town, where right up against the forest was a large grey Victorian home. It looked like it could use a little love, some TLC and several coats of paint. It was beautiful though, even with the slight disrepair. Emma stared at it in wonder, it was the most beautiful house she'd ever seen. If she could have picked her dream house, it would have looked something like this one. It had a little white picket fence that ran about the yard, a couple of well-worn stairs led to the front door, which was painted a bright and beautiful red color.
Emma stepped out of the car as Regina pulled it into the gravel drive. Emma couldn't stop taking it in. "Do you like it?" Regina called to her, before leaning into the back seat to get the infant carrier.
"It's beautiful, I thought we would just be staying at Granny's or something." Emma confessed.
"No one wants to spend their first few weeks with a newborn, holed up in a hotel. This, although it needs some work, will be much more comfortable I imagine." Regina hefted the carrier in both hands, being the first one to open the white picket gate to the house. "Are you coming?"
"Yes!" Emma tried not to skip or seem to excited, but she loved old houses, and this one was glorious. She wanted to explore every corner, memorize every crack, and commit every moment to memory.
Inside the house, things looked they had just recently been cleaned, the hard wood floors still smelled faintly of lemon, and despite the worn corners and faded paint, it was quite homey. The front door opened into the kitchen and living area. The kitchen was in need of some updating, but Emma found herself truly enjoying the worn look to the white cabinets. There wasn't much furniture in the house yet, but Emma notice every detail as she took a moment to look around. She took the stairs two at a time to see the bedrooms on the second floor. There were four bedrooms upstairs, all pretty decently sized. The guest room was large enough for a king size bed, which had a fluffy duvet and lots of pillows. To Emma it looked like a nest, where she could crawl in and stay for days. Next to the large bed was a wooden bassinet, it was worn, but looked like whoever had owned it before had cared very much for it. The bassinet was lined with blue fabric, and above it hung a sparkling unicorn mobile. Emma touched one of the tiny glass unicorns with reverence. It was simply beautiful.
"I'm sorry there isn't much for furniture, this was the best Lacey could do on such short notice. She'll be sure to add some homey touches to make it more comfortable for you." Regina spoke from the doorway. She had the baby cuddled to her shoulder, a burp cloth draped over her nice silk blouse.
"Oh, it's lovely. Thank you, Regina." Emma smiled at the brunette.
"There's more," Regina waved her hand in the direction of the room across the hall. The door was shut tight, which is probably why Emma hadn't gravitated to that room first.
Emma pushed the door open slowly, the door squealed on its hinges, "I'll have to get something to fix that squeak. We can't have squeaky doors; now can we mister." Regina cooed to the infant in her arms.
The blonde didn't respond, she was standing in the doorway, her mouth hanging open. The room's walls were freshly painted, a soft shade of grey blue. Inside the room was a large white crib, a gliding chair sat next to the crib, and a gorgeous antique changing table flanked the other side of the room. A dark blue rug covered the cold wood floor, and gifts line the remainder of the room. "Where did all this come from?" Emma asked in astonishment. She had noticed the crazy amounts of gifts that had arrived at the hospital, but the lavishness of this room went beyond some hand-me-downs from the neighbors.
"Do you like it?" Regina whispered from behind her, her breath tickling the hair at the base of Emma's ponytail. When had she stepped so close? Emma shivered.
"It's too much, Regina, really. You shouldn't have." Emma didn't know what to say.
"Well, you needed a place to stay with the little one, and I was more than happy to provide that for you. Like I said, Granny's is no place for a new mother and her baby. You'll be much more comfortable here with me." Regina looked away at that, as if embarrassed suddenly.
"Thank you, Regina." Emma suddenly embraced Regina, careful not to squish the baby between them.
Regina stiffened, not expecting the sudden contact, but a smile lit her lips as Emma pulled away.
Emma exited the baby's nursery then, continuing down the hall to the other rooms. One room as mostly empty, having no furniture in it save some dusty boxes. The last room down the hall had double French doors, Emma knew it was the master. She stopped outside the door, not sure she should venture into the room, it was after all, Regina's room.
Regina stepped in front of Emma, twisting the doorknob and throwing the door wide. She smiled as she let the blonde into her room. Emma was surprised, she expected this room to be just as lavishly furnished as the baby's room had been. After all, Regina Mills seemed too refined for simple things. Instead Emma found a large room with just a king sized four poster bed in it. It looked just as comfy as the bed down the hall, except the comforter was a deep purple, almost black. Emma walked the expanse of the room, expecting more furnishings to be hiding around a corner or something, but it was empty except the bed.
"Lacey will be by later today with some clothes for you and myself, as all our clothes were lost in the fire. If you have any requests, just write them down and I'll text them to her." Regina heaved the floppy sleeping infant from one shoulder to the other. It amazed her how heavy a baby could get after carrying it around for a while.
Regina left then, letting Emma wander back to the guest room, or her room rather. Regina had placed the baby in the bassinet before retreating downstairs. Emma heard a phone ring and Regina's voice faded as she walked outside to take her call.
Emma sat on the edge of the bed, her window overlooked the front of the house, and she admired the long stretch of driveway and the quiet rode beyond that. Everything seemed so peaceful now. But Emma knew in the back of her mind that it wouldn't last. A pit in her stomach knew that he was coming, and he would take what he wanted. Emma felt helpless to stop him. She didn't know what to do. She'd hoped Hermione would be discharged with them, and that her friend could offer her some insight or advice. But the doctors had wanted her to stay so they could treat her burns a little longer.
Lacy stopped by that evening, bring with her an obnoxious amount of clothing for both of them, as well as takeout for dinner. Emma fell on the takeout like she hadn't eaten in weeks. It wasn't until she had consumed an entire container of pot stickers and half a carton of orange chicken that she realized they were staring. Regina laughed. It seemed so normal, so light hearted, almost normal.
Emma did finally share the food, and although Lacey excused herself upstairs to change and feed the baby while Emma and Regina ate. They both appreciated the break, Regina was hungrier than she'd thought. It had been an exhausting few days in the hospital and Regina. Regina found herself day dreaming about the bed upstairs, and how glorious it would feel to sink into it later.
After they had tidied up their dishes, Regina and Emma hauled the clothes Lacey had brought over up the stairs, depositing it all in their rooms. Emma noticed every piece of clothing was brand new, with tags still on each one. She grabbed one of the tags, curious, but found that all of them had had the price torn off.
"I couldn't have you fussing over how much I spent on you, now could I." Regina leaned against the door frame of Emma's room. She had changed out of a pair of slacks and her silk blouse, and now stood there in a pair of black yoga pants and a loose fitting v-neck t-shirt. Emma drunk her in, she couldn't help it, Regina truly was a breath taking woman. Somehow she was even more beautiful dressed down, than any mayoral outfit she pranced around in during the day.
Lacey emerged from the room across the hall, tip-toing as she went. "Little ones is all tuckered out, if you don't need anything else this evening, Miss Mills, I think I'll take off."
"Yes, of course, Lacey, thank you." Regina said warmly.
The baby was restless, Emma stood bouncing him, frustration written all over her face. It was the middle of the night, and Emma was beyond exhausted. She tried not to let her emotions get the best of her, but when Regina entered Emma's room, hair mussed and sleepy eyed, Emma could have kissed her. Regina rested her hand on the baby's back as the baby bounced on Emma's shoulder. His cries turned to hiccups, and Emma looked at Regina, "I don't understand what I'm doing wrong!" Emma's eyes welled with tears, Regina brushed one off the blonde's cheek as it tumbled from her eyes.
"Would you like me to take him?" Regina asked over the infant's wails.
Emma handed the baby gingerly to Regina, gratitude didn't even come close to how she felt at that moment. Emma grabbed the bottle from the nightstand that she had been trying to feed him, and handed it to Regina. "Lay down, Emma, you look exhausted."
Emma just nodded and sat down on the king sized bed. Regina went around the other side of the bed, closest to the bassinet, and sat up against the large headboard. With a pillow under her arms, she cradled the baby. His wails quieted to whimpers as he stared up at Regina, a small smile tugged at the corner of his mouth, before her gratefully took the bottle. Regina smiled down at him, a bubble swelling in her chest as she watched his small face relax. Her eyes were drawn to Emma, who had scooted closer to Regina, and was now leaning her head back against the headboard, her eyes drifting closed.
As the baby suckled, Emma found herself succumbing to sleep, she couldn't help it. Her head drooped, before finding a resting place on Regina's shoulder. Regina didn't dare move, Emma hadn't been getting much sleep the last few days, the baby was waking every few hours to eat. Regina sat there, Emma on her shoulder and the infant in her arms, and she was sure this is what bliss felt like. She wanted to take a picture, capture this moment in all its beauty. It was strange, they were in such a mess; Emma constantly on edge waiting for Voldemort or his Death Eaters so show up, a new baby, and then the complication of hers and Regina's relationship. They hadn't really talked about it, but they had fallen into a very comfortable routine the last few days. Regina found herself staring too long, or brushing against Emma intentionally. It was like there was a magnetic charge between them, and each day it drew them closer and closer.
The craziest part was, Emma knew exactly who Regina was, knew some of the awful things she had done. She even knew that Regina was the reason she was in the mess she was in, but that detail didn't seem to matter to her. Emma had such a natural hopeful spirit. It was intoxicating to be around. As scared as they both were, Emma took it a day at a time, believing that the solution would come about soon. With some encouragement from Hermione, who was out of the hospital now and staying in a room at Granny's, Emma was taking her time to figure out this whole mother thing. Regina wasn't sure how she had fit in there with Emma, how Emma had just naturally accepted Regina's help with the baby, but Regina certainly wasn't going to complain. She'd never felt more useful in her life, and it was a very fulfilling feeling.
Emma mumbled in her sleep, causing Regina to stumble out of her thoughts. The baby was sound asleep in her arms now, dead weight with milk dripping from the corner of his parted lips.
Regina wondered how she would get the baby back to his bassinet without moving Emma, she shifted slightly and found that she could just scoot the bassinet closer with her foot. Once within reach, she was able to rest the boy in it, sated and happy. Shifting once more, Emma's head drooped onto Regina's chest, resting upon her heart. Regina desperately tried to calm her pounding heart, afraid it would wake Emma. Her breath was ragged, as she gazed down at the blonde, her long lashes dusting her cheeks. Regina gasped, her lungs seeming to withhold oxygen as she was overwhelmed by the sight if this woman resting on her.
When had this happened? When had she fallen in love with her?