A/N: I can't believe this story is finally finished! Took me longer to write it than it did for Emma to have that baby lmfao! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the love given to this story, it has been incredible and I am honored.
I know a lot of people were waiting till it was complete to read, so if that's you pretty please don't forget to at least leave a couple words here on this last chapter and let me know what you thought! I'm also really hoping to write a sequel, so if that's of interest I'd love to hear.
A final big thank you to michaelawaffles for all her hard work editing! It wouldn't have been the same without your help!
Really hope you all enjoy the end of this story and thanks so much for reading!
Regina was late to work that morning, much to the astonishment of her assistant who knew all too well the mayor's affinity for promptness. She really had tried to make it out the door on time, but she couldn't seem to cross the threshold without deciding she needed one more glance, one more touch, one more kiss from the woman she was absolutely loath to leave behind for a pile of bureaucratic bullshit after what they'd just finally confessed.
Emma Swan loved her. That beautiful idiot actually loved her back. Regina couldn't possibly focus on work today.
"Madame Mayor?" Her assistant peered into the office around midday, interrupting her constant stream of thoughts about Emma and looking quite perplexed by the cheerful grin that refused to leave her employer's face. "You have an unscheduled visitor out front."
"Send them in," Regina replied, thankful for a distraction and not even bothering to pretend she didn't hope said distraction might actually be Emma herself.
Her elation was mildly dampened when she saw Rumpelstiltskin enter her office instead, though nothing could really steal the magic of this day. Curiosity around his reasons for visiting found their way to the surface as well.
"To what do I owe the displeasure?" she snarked at the man whom Emma and Henry liked to refer to as Regina's "frenemy." A ridiculous word, to be sure, but when they explained the meaning she supposed it applied to some degree.
"I come in peace, Your Majesty," he said with a sardonic bow. "And bearing gifts as well."
"What sort of gifts?" Regina inquired skeptically, not completely doubting his sentiments but maintaining a healthy air of caution.
"See for yourself," he declared, placing a carefully wrapped package upon her desk. Belle's work, no doubt.
With slight trepidation she peeled the paper away, unfolding the flaps of cardboard to reveal a child's mobile of white and dark blue glass unicorns.
"Well, you really went all out didn't you," Regina quipped, recognizing the object immediately. "This thing has been sitting in your shop for decades."
"It was meant to belong to the Savior," Rumple replied. "We thought she might enjoy passing it on to her child."
Oh, Regina thought to herself, Emma would indeed love that – having little left from her childhood for herself, let alone to pass down. She would have to hold off on presenting the gift if she didn't want to see the woman burst into tears on sight.
"Of course by 'we' you mean Belle," Regina inferred, keeping her musings to herself, which were most likely correct since he didn't refute it. "What's the catch?" she asked suspiciously. "There's always a catch with you."
He grinned, an impish leer that to a lesser fool might seem benign, but Regina knew he had ulterior motives.
"Come now, Regina," he cooed in his awful, disarming way. "The child of the Evil Queen and the Savior? She'll be a force to be reckoned with. The power such a child will yield... Well, let's just say I want to be on the right side of history when she comes of age."
"Selfish as ever," Regina scoffed.
"Not entirely so," he replied. "I'm thinking of my wife as well. But do the motives really matter? I'm proposing a truce, once and for all."
Under any other circumstances, she would have laughed in his face. After everything they had been through, after all he had done, it was almost unimaginable. She didn't want their sordid past to impact her innocent daughter though, and she wasn't about to turn down anything that worked to ensure the child's safety.
"Very well," Regina agreed, not the least bit convinced it was permanent, but willing to take the offer while it stood for the sake of her baby girl. "You have your truce."
"Excellent," the man gleamed, making to depart. "In that case, I'll leave you to your duties."
"Rumple, wait," she called before he could leave. Although she hated to ask him for anything, there was something pressing on her mind and she figured the less visits she had to pay this man, the better.
While the medical degrees doled out by her curse certainly provided adequate prenatal care, their knowledge was limited to that of this realm and gave little insight into the circumstances around the child's conception. Despite Emma's declaration that she would indeed be willing to spawn more tiny Swan-Mills children, Regina didn't want that to happen before the woman was ready. Rumple provided them with knowledge on the the subject once before and, unfortunately, Regina didn't know who else she could turn to.
"Emma and I weren't looking to have a child when all this began," she inquired as vaguely as she could. "How do we... delay that from happening again?"
Rumple sneered and Regina knew she had not been nearly as ambiguous as she hoped.
"I didn't imagine that would be an issue for the two of you, by your own insistence."
"Well," Regina tipped her chin high, hating to give this man the satisfaction, but she would never hide nor feel shame for her newfound relationship with Emma. "It concerns us now."
"Lucky for me that I made peace when I did," he chortled, no doubt at the idea of an entire brood of she and Emma's magically inclined offspring. "If Ms. Swan can manage to remember to take a daily pill, all should be well," he offered free of charge, apparently making good on his truce. "Don't over complicate things."
"Regina?" a voice that made her heart soar called from the doorway. She should have known Emma would never ask for permission for before barging into the mayoral office. "Oh," the girl said sheepishly upon laying eyes on Rumpelstiltskin. "I didn't mean to interrupt."
Regina couldn't believe how only a few hours away from the woman made her stomach somersault like a schoolgirl at prom. All her life she had dreamt of feeling this way, but never once had she imagined it would be a woman with messy blonde hair and a belly ripe with her own child that made it so indisputably true.
"You are never an interruption, my dear," Regina replied affectionately. "Mr. Gold was just leaving."
"That I was," the man confirmed most readily. "And may I again offer my sincere congratulations to you both."
With that, he took his leave, Regina rolling her eyes and Emma eyeing him suspiciously all the way out the door.
"What was that about?" the woman asked once they were alone.
"Apparently, he's afraid of our daughter," Regina replied with amusement.
"He should be," Emma nodded affirmatively. "Ducky's gonna kick his ass, someday."
"No doubt," Regina laughed, unable to take her eyes off the slightly disheveled vision before her. Making her way around the desk, Regina cupped the woman's face in her hands, planting a loving kiss on soft lips – something she wasn't sure she would ever get used to having the privilege of doing. "Now, to what do I owe this pleasure?"
"I brought lunch," Emma declared, holding up the brown bag Regina had yet to notice in her hands. "I know it's silly but I just," she shrugged shyly, "I really wanted to see you."
"That's not silly at all," Regina assured, knowing the feeling well. She placed the bag of food on her desk before turning her attention back to the girl. "I missed you."
Emma beamed so brightly at her words that any trepidation Regina felt at uttering them was immediately extinguished. This was real, Regina had to constantly remind herself, unable to believe how incredibly lucky she was.
"We missed you, too," Emma replied with a goofy grin, one hand on her belly to indicate their unborn child. Regina reached out and covered Emma's fingers with her own, delighted to feel a soft roll beneath her palm on the other side of the mound.
"It's so funny," Emma said, tracing lazy patterns on Regina's forearm. "Everything's technically kind of the same, but it all feels so different now." She smiled broadly as she spoke. "Good different, I mean."
"Yes," Regina agreed. "It is most certainly, very good."
She kissed Emma again. She had to, because she could, and it was all too tempting and enticing to dangle something so delicious and willing right in front of her face. Kissing Emma had never been a chore, but it also had never been like this. There was always an air of duty, of responsibility and expectation attached, or so Regina felt. Now, it was a privilege of the most luxurious kind, and Regina would revel in every second of it for as long as fate allowed – which she hoped would be forever.
But when Emma whimpered into her mouth, Regina knew well enough to recognize it wasn't one of pleasure, and she quickly pulled back.
"Did I hurt you?" she inquired urgently, horrified at the prospect.
"No, no," Emma promised on shortened breath, gripping at her abdomen. "It's just cramps or something."
"Cramps?" Regina questioned. That didn't sound right. She'd done her research, and never once did she come across an instance of mere cramping this late in pregnancy. "How long have you been having them?"
"On and off all morning," Emma shrugged dismissively. "I'm fine, really. We should eat."
"I'm not sure that's best," Regina said as calmly as she could.
"Why not?" Emma asked innocently.
"Emma, darling," Regina tried to be as soft and comforting as possible. "I think you may be in labor."
Emma's eyes widened in fear, and Regina pulled her closer in an attempt to absolve it.
"Wasn't it like this with Henry?" Regina inquired. Emma shook her head.
"Henry was overdue," she explained. "He was induced. It was a lot of nothing followed by a lot of pain. It wasn't like this."
Regina realized the woman had been in labor since before she even woke, her early morning waddle into the kitchen suddenly making sense, as Emma rarely arose at such an hour.
"It's too early," Emma insisted frantically. "I'm not due for another two weeks at least!"
"You're thirty-seven weeks," Regina replied. "The baby's full term. Ella warned us it could happen any time."
"I'm not ready," Emma was on the verge of tears. "I thought I had more time. Regina, I'm not ready yet."
Regina took the woman's face between gentle palms again, letting the pad of her thumb trace soothingly over a trembling cheek. She expected more time too, and of course she was afraid, but their baby girl was making her way into the world at last and she couldn't be more thrilled. With Emma by her side, she knew they would find their way.
"You might not be ready," Regina said calmly. "But we are. We can do this, together."
Emma stared back at her, eyes still filled with fright, but there was also trust and that was all Regina needed from her right now. She could carry the rest.
"This is it," Regina declared, unable to contain her joy as she placed a kiss on the woman's lips. "We're having a baby, Emma."
And at last Emma smiled, tears still filling her eyes, though the fear was all but extinguished as she nodded her head.
"We're having a baby."
They stopped at home to grab the hospital bag that was already packed to go, thanks to Regina. Emma had insisted that it wouldn't be necessary yet, but in the end gave in. Regina smirked, thinking a little dose of "I told you so" might be in order. The thought and smile both vanished as Emma appeared in the doorway with a definite pout on her face, one that could easily morph into tears if pushed the wrong way.
"What's the matter?" Regina asked.
"My water just broke," Emma replied woefully. "I hate this. Why does having a baby have to be such a damn mess?" As if to punctuate her point, a contraction hit full force, and Emma's face twisted in agony. "Regina!" she yelped as she lost her breath.
Regina was by her side instantly, holding up Emma's weight. The woman gripped her arm hard enough to bruise as she rode out the pain, but Regina said nothing of it, focusing solely on supporting Emma and helping her through this.
"How long?" Emma gasped about a minute later, finally loosening her hold but not releasing it.
"Nine minutes," Regina replied. "They're getting closer, and I'd venture to say stronger by the look of it. Which means we need to clean you up and get going before this baby decides to make her debut in our hallway."
Emma cracked a smile and Regina considered that a success, doing her best to keep the laboring woman calm, relaxed, and as happy as possible despite the discomfort.
But by the time Emma changed, they called Ella and were finally on their way to the hospital, the contractions were coming even faster and things were anything but calm. Emma was positively writhing in pain and it was all Regina could do to focus on getting them to their destination safely.
"Shit, Regina," Emma cried out. "I feel like I need to push!"
"Don't you dare," Regina ordered, still surprisingly composed given the rapidly accelerating situation. "We are not delivering this baby on the side of the road."
She didn't feel composed at all though. Her one job right now was to keep Emma and their baby safe. She had promised, and right now it felt like that was slipping from her grasp. Regina pressed a bit harder on the gas.
"Just a little longer, Emma," she assured, as much for herself as the woman beside her. "We're almost there."
By the grace of fate or the gods or whatever larger force might be looking out for them, they made it to the hospital in time. Emma was immediately deposited into a wheelchair and they shot off to the labor and delivery wing.
"Jesus," Ella muttered upon checking the woman's dilation. "Another ten minutes and you might have had to deliver this baby yourself, Regina." She turned her full attention to Emma then, already strapped to more monitors than Regina could comprehend. "Emma, it's time. This baby is coming now. "
In retrospect, they should have suspected any child of the both of them would arrive on her own terms – when she pleased and as quickly as she deemed. They were never going to have any say in the matter.
"I can't," Emma wailed. "It hurts so much. Regina..."
"Go," Ella mouthed with an encouraging nod of her head towards Emma. Already hovering over the woman and holding her hands, Regina wasn't sure what else she was supposed to do. She had never experienced a birth, for herself nor as a witness, and all the research in the world hadn't prepared her for the actual event.
"Sit with her," Ella instructed, seeing the confusion so plainly on the woman's face. "Behind her. Let her know she's not alone. Help her push."
Regina didn't hesitate a moment before climbing onto the hospital bed, holding the distraught mother securely between her thighs and clasping their hands together.
"I'm right here, Emma," she cooed into the girl's ear. "We're going to do this together, just like I promised months ago. Remember?" Emma calmed a bit then, nodding her head weakly, already worn out from her efforts. "I know it's hard, and I know it hurts. But I'm not going to let anything happen to you or our baby. You just have to do what Ella says, and after we meet our little girl you can take a much deserved nap."
Emma smiled despite herself at the prospect, so tired from the toll on her body. But she was ready now. With a confirming nod to Ella, it was time to begin.
"Alright, Emma," Ella said determinedly. "When you feel the next contraction, I need you to push as hard as you can."
The contractions were coming so quickly that it was only mere seconds before Emma complied.
"I can already see the head!" Ella announced excitedly. "Again, Emma."
Emma pushed, and pushed, and pushed. It seemed like ages to Regina, waiting to see their child while helplessly listening to her beloved's cries of anguish. The whole ordeal actually lasted only minutes. In a whirlwind that Regina could barely comprehend, the lights in the room flickered and sparked. In the next instant Emma finally fell limp against her body, still gasping and sweating as the writhing infant was placed upon her chest.
"Oh my god," Emma squeaked emotionally as her arms came up to encircle the child. "Hi there, Ducky girl."
Tears streamed down Regina's cheeks unabashedly as she too reached around Emma to caress the tiny, wailing creature. Magic did not begin to describe this child. Even all red and unwashed, with her full lips that were so clearly Regina's, and her big, bold eyes that were unmistakably Emma's – and doomed to be Regina's downfall – she was the perfect combination of them both. Regina didn't find it remotely immodest to think that she was the most beautiful little girl this world ever saw.
"Emma," Regina croaked, voice filled with wonder. "She's absolutely perfect."
"Mom?" Ella called gently, holding out a pair of scissors. "Would you like to cut the cord?"
Regina nodded her head, very much wanting to be a part of every element possible in her daughter's birth. Not that it dampened their love for Henry in the slightest, but this was an entirely new experience for both mothers, and every aspect of it was to be relished to the fullest degree.
"We made this," Emma said, sounding equally astounded as she tipped her head back, far enough for Regina to place a loving kiss on her lips. "We did it, Regina."
"Yes," Regina grinned, thinking that of all the things they had achieved together, this was quite certainly their best. "We did."
The baby was taken to be cleaned, measured, and wrapped. It wouldn't take longer than a few minutes but Regina stayed put, holding Emma close through her postpartum care, knowing these first moments of separation would be hard for the girl after carrying their child for so long.
Once all had settled and the snoozing bundle was returned, Regina extracted herself to make the necessary phone calls, most importantly to their son, and then to Emma's parents.
Henry whooped so loudly when Regina told him the news that she was forced to pull the receiver away from her ear, and Emma laughed at the sound and the startled look on Regina's face. Their son made her promise, several times, that she would be sure to have his grandparents pick him up on their way to the hospital.
It wasn't long before the Charmings arrived with the boys in tow. David hung back with Neal, containing himself a little better than his wife and grandson, both of whom made a hurried beeline towards Emma and the baby. It didn't go unnoticed that Regina didn't have any family on her own side to call but, quite frankly, all the family she really needed was right here – whether some of them had the tendency to grate her nerves or not.
Henry sat on the edge of the bed next to Emma, reaching out to gently pull the blankets away from his sister's chin.
"Wow, Moms," he said with a nod of approval, "she's really cute. Nice work."
"Thank you, Henry," Regina chuckled. "'Cuteness' was high on our list of priorities."
"I don't think there was ever any question that she would be a looker," Snow declared. "Now, if there are no objections, I absolutely must hold my granddaughter immediately."
Regina bristled just a bit with possessiveness.
"Slow down, Mom," Emma said gently, sounding absolutely serene, her voice calming the prickle that ran down Regina's spine. "There's someone else who needs their turn first. Regina's been so busy making sure you all knew Ducky was here, she hasn't even had a chance yet." She turned to Regina, lovingly caressing the slumbering burrito upon her chest. "Would you like to hold her?"
Regina felt like she might cry all over again, both for Emma's thoughtfulness and at the prospect of finally, after so much longing and waiting, actually holding her precious little girl.
"Yes," Regina whispered, barely able to utter the word without sobbing. "Very much." She lost the battle entirely as the child was placed in her grasp, remembering the first time she'd held Henry in her arms as well.
She was overcome with emotion about both her newborn daughter and how very quickly her son had grown. Had Henry ever even been this small? Surely he had seen plenty of growth in his three weeks of life before they were united, but Regina could barely comprehend she once held her son in her arms this way. It was certainly a reminder that she must cherish every second of both her children's existences.
"What's her name?" David asked, approaching with a very intrigued baby Neal as Snow settled for a caress of the baby's soft, chubby cheek.
The mothers eyed each other a bit guiltily before Emma admitted, "She doesn't have one yet, actually. We were supposed to have a bit more time to figure that out."
Except, unbeknownst to Emma, Regina had been thinking long and hard, particularly over the past couple of weeks. She knew just what Emma would like to name the little one, and while Regina had resisted it adamantly, the events of the day changed her mind. While surely there would be times ahead when she might loathe this decision, she knew beyond a doubt what their child was meant to be called.
"Maria," Regina announced with absolute certainty. "Her name is Maria."
Emma turned to her with glistening eyes, full of that same hope and love and pure adoration that Regina could never get enough of. She wasn't just trying to make Emma happy this time though. As she gazed down at the absolutely exquisite little girl in her arms, she just knew it was right.
"Are you sure?" Emma asked hopefully, as delighted by the suggestion as Regina had hoped she might be.
"What's wrong with 'Maria'?" David inquired obliviously.
"It's a beautiful name," Snow agreed with her husband, smiling as their own child was brought close enough to prod curiously at the infant's tiny face.
"It's the closest she's let me get to naming her after you," Emma replied, still grinning reverently at the mother of her children holding their baby in her arms with such doting affection.
"I named Henry after my father," Regina shrugged, feigning indifference as she took a seat on the open side of the bed next to Emma. "It's only fair to let you name her after your mother. Besides," she finally let her guard down a bit, finding a sense of appreciation for the woman that had so valiantly attempted to make them recognize their true feelings, "at the end of the day, she's not such a bad namesake to have."
Snow smirked with a mock glare at Regina, and as their eyes locked a silent understanding passed between them. Regina smiled back diminutively, and no more needed to be said.
"Maria Swan-Mills," Emma uttered out loud, tasting the name on her tongue for the first time. She cupped the baby's tiny head in her hands, a satisfied grin spreading across her face. "It's perfect," she said, fingertips rising to gently trail over Regina's cheek and tenderly guide their lips together. "Thank you."
"Is this still you two pretending you're not a couple?" Snow asked, kindly waiting a moment before commenting on the display of affection, though sounding thoroughly smug once she did. "Or are we finally done with that charade?"
Regina rolled her eyes, but she was smiling. As much as she hated to admit Snow had been right, in this instance she was incredibly grateful for it as well.
"Yes," she replied, glancing to Emma out of habit for any signs of deflection, finding only that same twinkling grin she loved. "We are a couple."
"No," Emma corrected, making Regina's stomach flutter with uncertainty, but the girl's expression never faltered as she pulled Henry closer and placed a kiss on Maria's head. "We're a family."
Since Maria decided to make her way into this world ahead of schedule, she was kept in the hospital just a little longer as a precautionary measure. Emma could have well been released soon after the birth since she suffered no complications, but no one was going to force the Savior to check out without her newborn child. And so it was that Emma and Regina both spent the next couple nights sleeping in hospital beds, since fewer people still would suggest the Queen leave without her brood.
Two days after the child's birth, they were finally cleared to take their little girl home. This much Regina had done before, but Emma was all excitement and nerves.
"Are you sure we have everything we need?" the woman asked with anxious trepidation.
"Yes, dear," Regina replied evenly. "And anything else is just a short drive away."
Emma turned to their sweetly sleeping girl resting in her carrier, adjusting Maria's little lavender cap a bit more securely over her ridiculously small ears.
"Do you think she'll be warm enough? It's still the middle of winter... Maybe we should get another blanket."
"She'll be just fine," Regina assured again. "She is perfectly bundled and Henry is warming the car as we speak."
"You installed the car seat base, right?" Emma inquired, finding a new worry among the consolation. "You're sure it's secure?"
Were it anyone else questioning her this way, Regina might have felt annoyed. But it was Emma. And while perhaps unnecessary, Regina found her attention to Maria's safety and well-being positively endearing.
"Emma, darling," Regina halted her gathering of knick knacks to take the fretting woman in her arms. "I have installed a car seat many times before. With us for mothers, our little Maria is undoubtedly the safest baby in all of Storybrooke. You needn't worry so much."
Emma sighed, laughing a little at herself and relaxing into Regina's comforting embrace.
"She's just," the woman began, peering again at the precious commodity in their care, "she's so tiny, Regina. Christ, just look at her! How can I be entrusted with something so small and perfect?"
"There is no one in this world I would rather entrust with the life of my children," Regina replied with conviction. "Emma," she gently pushed blonde hair out of her love's eyes. "Let's take our baby girl home."
With a nod that was more faith than certainty, Emma agreed, allowing Regina to finally carry their daughter to the waiting car. Henry was thrilled at being permitted to ride shotgun while Emma rode in back with Maria, staring intently at the peaceful child as she slept.
The solidified family made their way into their home as a unit at last, dropping coats and bags along the way. For once, Regina didn't mind the clutter. They could tend to it later.
"I have something for you," Regina said sheepishly, feeling like now was finally the moment. "A gift."
"Regina," Emma smiled sweetly. "It's your birthday and I didn't even have a chance to get you anything. Besides, you know don't need anything but you and our kids."
"I've had more than my share my birthdays in my life," Regina chuckled. "And not one sentiment I ever received has compared to bringing my child home."
They smiled adoringly at one another, and Regina knew Emma understood there was no greater gift than the ones she had already bestowed upon her: their children.
"I researched a lot of things while you were pregnant," Regina persisted after a moment, "and it seems somewhat traditional to present the mother of your children with a 'push present'." She fished around in her bag until she found a small box. "I wasn't sure what to get you for the longest time. I wanted it to be something that represented our family, something you could keep with you always. And so..."
In lieu of completing her thought, she presented the box to Emma. The woman eyed her amorously as she opened it, tears springing to her eyes when she saw the necklace.
It had four tiny pendants hanging delicately from a silver chain. In the middle were two birthstones, a diamond for Henry, and garnet for Maria. Two charms laid on the outside – a swan, and a crown.
"Oh, Regina," Emma gasped as the tears spilled over her cheeks, hormones still haywire and triggered by the sight. "Thank you."
Maria finally squeaked, as if demanding to be a part of the scene, and all eyes fell to the child immediately.
"Can I hold her?" Henry asked excitedly, eager for his chance now that things were calm and there wasn't a rush of adults grabbing for his little sister at every turn.
"Of course," Emma grinned, lifting the tiny stirring bundle into her arms. "She might be hungry soon, but I think she could use some big-brother time until then."
"Well, just warn me before that happens," Henry pleaded, horrified at the prospect of accidentally catching sight of a boob again. Both women laughed as he seated himself on the couch, readily accepting the child into his arms.
"She's got to eat, kid." Emma laughed at his furled lip. "You might just have to get used to it for a while."
Regina snapped a few pictures of the sibling duo together, unable to resist capturing such a superb sight for all time. Henry rolled his eyes at the gesture, but smiled anyway. They knew he'd want a copy of the photos for himself, even if he pretended to loath the gesture.
Camera set aside, Regina finally took her chance to place the necklace around Emma's neck, arms carefully encircling the recovering woman from behind when she was done. She kissed the skin still proffered, basking gluttonously in the scent and feel as they both admired their sweetly bonding children.
"So, what do we do now?" Emma whispered. "Just live happily ever after?"
"I don't know, dear," Regina chuckled, happier and more at home than she could have ever imagined being. "But I don't think this is the happy ending just yet."
"You don't?" Emma turned enough to face her, greeted by a tender kiss.
"No," Regina replied with a triumphant grin. "I think this is just the beginning."