The morning hour of seven o'clock is what woke Emma Swan, forcing a tired groan as she sought out her cellphone to dismiss the alarm.
She took the liberty to dub Storybrooke High as Hell.
Muttering profanities under her breath, Emma dragged herself out of bed and collected a dark pair of denim jeans and a simple white cotton T-shirt. She paused, eyes falling to a black sweater that hung in her closet. It may have looked impractical that she would even contemplate wearing such attire outside in this sweltering heat, but the school was like Antarctica inside. She wasn't sure if the people who were in control of the temperature inside of the school had a reason to keep the air chilly, but she wasn't about to let that thought seep into her bones for she quickly grabbed the hooded sweater and threw it on.
Shaking those thoughts from her head, she picked up her phone and checked if she had any messages. Ruby had promised to text her in the morning before her shift started at her grandmother's diner.
Despite graduating from high school, the brunette girl had decided to stay in Storybrooke to help her elderly grandmother with the diner. Of course, her granny had insisted that she needn't the help, although the collapse in the storage room a month prior had told otherwise.
Emma was glad that she wasn't leaving, although that may have been selfish of her. She only had Belle to talk to in school, and with her other friend, Graham's, departure, she had no one else outside of school to hang out with.
Speaking of Ruby, a smile greeted her when she saw a text from said girl.
Hey, Em. Ready for a new day in Hell?
Emma hit send and set her phone down, so she could quickly strip from her sleeping attire to don the day's raiment. Her phone buzzed once again, lighting up with a new message from Ruby.
The blonde teenager dropped onto her small twin-sized bed with a pair of boots. Simultaneously checking the message and pulling her boots on, she read what her friend had replied.
Good luck. Sorry I can't be there.
Emma smiled sadly and replied: it's okay, I'll survive.
She was taken by a knock on the wall and looked up to find the source. A woman with pixie-cut black hair stood in the doorway with a friendly smile. The clothes she wore were pastel and conservative.
"Hey Mary Margaret," Emma greeted her with a smile.
"Are you ready for your first day of senior year?" Mary Margaret asked, pushing herself from the door jamb. "You look pretty today."
Emma blushed slightly at her comment as a slender finger flicked a blonde curl from her face before cupping a cheek. "As ready as I'll ever be." She quickly shied away.
"I made breakfast. Might as well eat before we head off to school." She chuckled.
"I guess." Emma shrugged slightly and bent to grab the backpack that leaned against her bed. She slung the bag over her shoulder and walked behind her mother.
"At least take a piece of toast before you leave," Mary Margaret pleaded.
"Fine." Emma playfully rolled her eyes. "For you."
"Thank you, Emma." Mary Margaret quickly wrapped her arms around Emma, leaving the teenager to stiffen momentarily before awkwardly hugging her back. "See you later, okay? I love you. Have a good day and tell me about your classes when you get home!"
"Love you, too and I will!" she sheepishly replied, pulling away so she could do just that. Footsteps behind her told Emma that Mary Margaret was following on her trail towards the kitchen, probably to make sure that she would grab that toast.
After making her pathetic breakfast, Emma quickly left the apartment and started on her way to school. She preferred to walk, even though Mary Margaret had offered many times to drive her since the high school was only a few blocks before the elementary school where the older woman worked. Emma had politely declined until wintertime when she had insisted on driving her.
Ofttimes, she carpooled with Ruby, but since her friend had graduated, she was out of luck. And right now, she really wished that Ruby was still attending school because it was hot as hell and she was already drowning in her own sweat.
What felt like an eternity later did she finally arrive in the Antarctic sanctuary. Students were scattered throughout the halls, most standing and chatting with friends that they hadn't seen over the summer. Their voices mingled, threatening an impending headache. She certainly could have lived with never stepping foot into this prison.
She pushed through the people stuffed in the main hallway in search of her homeroom until another body slammed into her, forcing her to catch herself too heavily on her left leg.
"Watch it," a voice warned as the source continued only to cease when their eyes met. "Emma!"
"Killian," Emma muttered through her teeth, forcing a smile on her lips.
"Fancy seeing you here," Killian greeted, a grin appearing on his scruffy features.
"It's school. Of course, I'm here." Emma kept her eyes behind him, calculating the best escape route.
"Where are you headed?"
"Oh? Ms. Nova isn't in there."
Emma inwardly scowled.
"She usually has her door unlocked," she clucked, her patience already waning, and school hadn't even started yet.
"Where's your stuff, then?" Emma quirked a brow, finally looking over the boy in front of her. He had nothing on him. Not even a pencil.
"Yeah. Move. I wanna get my schedule." She pushed past him, hoisting her backpack further onto her shoulder as it began to slip.
"Yeah! I wonder if we have any classes together." His brows waggled as he caught up with her.
Emma looked at him and rolled her eyes. "Knowing you? Probably. You stole my scheduling sheet before the break."
"Pft." Killian smirked and followed her into Ms. Nova's classroom.
"Emma Nolan!" a cheery voice greeted the blonde as soon as she dropped her bag by her desk. She rose her head to see Ms. Nova step toward her with a piece of paper in hand.
"Actually, it's still Swan," she corrected.
"Right. I'm sorry. They marked a name-change on the schedule." She smiled, handing the paper over to Emma. "Are you excited for senior year?"
"As excited as I'll ever be," she responded, eyes glued to the paper. "Thanks."
"What do you have first period?" Killian's voice immediately broke the momentary silence as Ms. Nova walked away.
"First period I have English," she said, looking up at his crestfallen face. "What? Don't have it?"
"Not this semester." A small pout formed on his lips. "What else do you have?"
"I have algebra two-"
"I have that, too! Second with Mr. Spencer?"
"Why do you have to suck at math, too?" Emma glared at him before continuing, "Then I have gym. And after that creative writing, lunch, my government class, and finally some art class that Belle's taking."
"What?" Killian looked at her with wide eyes. "All I have is gym and comp. When do you have them? Who do you have?"
"Stop asking all these questions! You're giving me a headache," Emma grumbled, looking at the paper for names. "I have Mr. Hurst for gym and Mrs… Mills?"
"Oh. You got Ms. Mills." He looked at her sympathetically.
"Why, because you don't?" she teased.
"No. Because she's a bitch and will fail you at the drop of a pin."
"How do you know?"
"I had her for English and I have to take her class again because of it." He visibly grimaced. "I barely passed. I think she hates everyone or something because she's always on everyone's ass. People have failed out for just breathing too loudly, or at least that's the legend."
"Oh shit. Really?" Emma narrowed her eyes at him in disbelief. "Mary Margaret had promised me her old car by the end of the year if I got good grades."
"You're screwed out of a car, then."
"I'm gonna ask Belle. She had her, I think. Well, she's been here longer than me." Emma rubbed the bridge of her nose and slumped into the desk, head buried into her arms. "I thought this year was supposed to be easy."
"Emma?" someone spoke her name softly. It held a familiar lilt that immediately made the teenager jump up from her seat and grab the source of disturbance.
"Yes? Emma, what is it?" She looked at her, eyes widening.
"Have you had that... Mrs. Mills?"
"It's Ms. Mills. Yeah. She's pretty tough on grades." Belle tilted her head.
"You're a brainiac. What did you get? Numb nuts over here says people always fail her class."
Her chocolate locks danced against her cheeks as she dipped her head to look down at her friend. "I had an A in that class. It was a bit tough trying to maintain it, though."
"It was tough? That's it, I'm screwed." Emma slumped back down into her desk.
"You got her?"
"Yeah. For creative writing."
"Don't worry, Em. You're a good writer," Belle reassured with a frown, sitting in the desk next to her. "You'll do good. That's what she looks for."
"I'm not as good as you and I need an A. I wanna be able to get Mary Margaret's old car," Emma whined and let her head fall against the desk's faux wood surface.
"She's losing it, Belle. Do something."
"Emma, please… Don't stress yourself. You have a much better imagination than me. Remember? I'm the bookworm, not the author." She smiled dubiously.
"If you say so…" she groaned softly and sighed.
"And think of it this way Em, if you don't like the class, you could always change your schedule." Belle looked at her with kind eyes.
"You're right. I probably will." Emma nodded upon a sigh, fingers tangling through her own messy golden curls. "Thanks. I don't know what I would do without you."
"Probably get a concussion," Belle quipped.
"Probably." Emma chuckled and looked over to the clock. "You should probably go before you're late to homeroom."
"Right." Belle nodded and hugged Emma quickly before standing. "See you in Gov. Tell me how it goes with the Evil Queen."
Emma watched as her friend fled from the classroom. The Evil Queen? The English teacher even had her own nickname? That was far from good.
The first two classes passed within the blink of an eye, leaving Emma sitting in third period gym class with her stomach in knots. The upcoming class would be with what Belle had dubbed the Evil Queen.
She knew she had nothing to worry about just yet, considering it was the first day and she was quite sure that the teacher would end up forcing them to suffer the same fate as the other classes. But those butterflies still soared within the confines of her stomach, churning that lousy piece of toast from this morning.
Mr. Hurst had spent the better half of the class talking about what they would be doing and the guidelines they had to follow. She had eventually zoned out from the man's droning voice as she searched the gym. Across from them was a second class. She wasn't sure which one it was, but Killian was in there, and it didn't take long for him to make eye contact. She scowled and averted her gaze to find the clock.
This class had flown by just the same as the first two.
She had no reason to feel sick. They were just rumors. Even people like Belle could have a hard time. What did this woman even look like, anyways? The paper said Mrs. and her friends said Ms. which, either way, had Emma imagining a sour old woman. That would probably explain why she was so harsh.
Great, an old bat that'll probably hate me, she thought.
Then it happened.
The bell rang, and Emma's heart sank. She got up from the bleachers and made her way to the door, ignoring the way Killian was calling her name. Emma hastily finished her route only to be blocked by the large number of students trying to exit at the same time and huffed, resigning to the voice behind her.
"Hey," he greeted.
"What do you have next?"
"Creative writing. You know this."
"Oh, wait. Yeah." He bit his lower lip for a moment and smirked. "Good luck."
"Yeah…" Emma rolled her eyes once again and left for the exit as soon as it had cleared up.
She wandered as slowly as possible to her next class, unsure. The thought of skipping the class crossed over her mind as Belle and Killian's sympathetic words footed her brain, but a surge of defiance rose through her. She wasn't going to let some measly teacher get the better of her, thus she marched with a new confidence, making her way down the English hallway with schedule in hand.
Her eyes landed on the one that matched the numbers on the paper. Exhaling slowly, she entered the classroom to find it half full. There weren't many people here so far, making her wonder exactly how many people didn't want to be in this woman's class.
Taking her lower lip between her teeth, she sought out a seat in the back of the class and looked toward the clock that hung above the entrance; there were a couple minutes left before class. She must have arrived faster than she thought if she had that much time left.
Shrugging mentally, she gazed around the room in hopes to find out more about the infamous teacher. There were no personal items, just the usual boring classroom with encouraging posters about English and writing. Her eyes focused on the front wall. There were two white boards with one of the electronic Smart Boards nestled between them. On one of the boards was written in cursive, Miss Mills.
Her attention was taken when the classroom door opened and that's when she saw her.
She hadn't paid much attention to the sudden silence that was dropped upon the class and instead focused all her energy on the dark eyes and scarlet lips as they passed through the door. Dark curls, almost raven in color, just grazed the shoulders of her black suit jacket.
Mouth dry, Emma couldn't take her eyes away from this fine specimen. Surely, she couldn't be the Evil Queen? No way… Maybe they made a mistake. Maybe they were thinking of another Mills in this school. It couldn't be her.
Gods, no. Not with that ass.
Emma's forest eyes stuck like glue to her teacher's posterior as she turned to fiddle with the Smart Board. Those slacks did her much justice, hugging the curve of her backside, leaving little to the imagination. Suddenly, the blonde was thinking about how Ms. Mills would look without those pants on and what kind of undergarments she wore. Granny panties? Silk? Satin? Lace? Thong? And… oh, Gods, what if she wore nothing?
The sound of the bell startled her, nearly causing Emma to fall out of her seat, all naughty thoughts about her teacher immediately dissipating. When she regained herself and looked up, she noticed Ms. Mills had an eyebrow quirked.
"Sorry…" she muttered sheepishly, shrinking against her seat as flames licked up her neck and touched her cheeks.
"I certainly do hope that you won't be spacing off during my class or else we will be having problems in the future." Ms. Mills spoke, doing funny things to Emma's insides. It was soft, yet husky, and reminded Emma of burning wood for some reason.
"I-I won't…" Emma wanted to slap herself.
"Good. What is your name?" She looked down to something on the podium.
"Emma Swan- I mean, Nolan. W-Well, it'll probably say Nolan on the-... on the… schedule…" Emma simply wanted to sprout wings and fly away in that moment.
Ms. Mills quirked a manicured brow once again at the slip before her chestnut eyes moved over the paper. "Thank you, Miss Nolan."
"Swan. Please, call me Swan, not Nolan," Emma braved.
"Alright, Miss Swan." She swore she could see a twitch on Ms. Mills' lips as if she were attempting to hide a smile.
After Ms. Mills had taken attendance, she pushed the podium aside and clicked a button on the remote she held for the electronic board.
"Welcome to Creative Writing. As you all may know, I am Regina Mills, but please do call me Ms. Mills." She offered the class a tight smile, but Emma brushed the words off and continued to stare at the way her mouth moved with every vowel.
"I'm sure you're all well aware that it is not a required course and if you cannot handle the fact that I do take my classes seriously and this will not just be an easy A for you because you are so well inclined to write words on paper, you may talk with your counselor and change your schedule. I will not tolerate freeloaders and I do not offer extra credit. So be sure to submit your assignments on time." The teacher had paced across the room now, then turned to face the students once again. "I'm quite sure that you may have heard from fellow students that had previously taken my course that it's hard. Truly, it is not. All I ask of you is to use your imagination to your full capacity and remain quiet and focused. I am fickle about proper grammar and spelling, so please do review your work. If you do not, it will only hurt your grade."
Emma was starting to space out again as the woman spoke about the class and what was to be expected. The yellow paper passed out was the syllabus that had most of the same requirements and criteria that every other class had. Hearing about this for the fourth time in one day was tiring and Emma found herself staring at the teacher's moving mouth. After spending so much time there, she noticed a few things like Ms. Mills had a scar on the right side of her upper lip and that she licked those scarlet lips every few sentences.
It wasn't until Emma was handed another paper that she had snapped out of her trance and decided that it was time to pay attention again. She grabbed the white piece of parchment and read over the black print.
"I would like your first assignment to be a short one-to-two-page summary of your summer and yourself, as well. Instead of the usual introductory work, I find this is the best way to learn about you, as well as where you stand with your writing skill."
A student raised their hand. "Is this graded?"
"It will be graded for completion points. I want you to complete it by the end of the period. Again, I do not accept late or incomplete work unless previously discussed beforehand. Zeroes will be given." Then she was walking towards Emma and she panicked, wondering if she had been caught spacing off, or staring. But Ms. Mills moved past her and to the teacher's desk in the corner of the room, which had been right next to the blonde's.
Emma held her breath, then exhaled, looking at Ms. Mills from the corner of her eye.
The brunette teacher had taken an apple out of her desk, deep and dark, just like her lips. Then she had taken out a small container that Emma could only guess was her lunch. After all, next period was her own, and the only lunch periods were fourth and fifth.
She smirked to herself, eyes roaming over the piece of paper in her hand. It was open lunch and she was free to do what she wished. Perhaps she could stay behind some days and work. Of course, that was, if Ms. Mills would allow her.
Sighing to herself, Emma gazed up at the clock once again. There was about twenty minutes left of class. She really didn't want to have to write now, so instead, she lightly tapped her pencil on the surface of her desk.
"Miss Swan." The sound of her name was an annoyed whisper. She looked up to see Ms. Mills staring at her pencil, then those dark eyes rose to her face, which ultimately caused her to drop the utensil.
"Get to work or else I have no other choice but to give you detention."
Emma bowed her head and stared at the prompt in front of her.
She stared so hard she was sure it would burst into flames.
Then she heard a sigh beside her, but this time she didn't look up, instead she bent down and shuffled through her bag until she pulled out a clean notebook and opened it. Immediately, she got to writing about the beginning of her summer, only to pause mid-paragraph for a chance to glance at her teacher.
And her pencil dropped onto the paper.
Ms. Mills was wearing glasses. She didn't think the brunette could get any more attractive, but the way she pulled her lower lip into her mouth as she read a paper in front of her just caused Emma's heart to flutter.
Then brown eyes met green.
And that damned eyebrow quirked.
The blonde immediately looked back to her paper, picked up her pencil, and resumed writing. She swore she could feel Ms. Mills smirking beside her, but she didn't dare look as she scribbled on the paper as fast as her hand could manage. It wasn't long until the bell had sounded, announcing that class was over.
Emma didn't move.
She continued to sit as every other student filed out of the room, dropping their finished assignments on the podium. They probably wanted to get to lunch. Emma didn't mind. She had nowhere to go and school lunch didn't sound appetizing.
There was a popping sound that stole her attention and she lifted her gaze to furtively watch as Ms. Mills began to prepare her lunch.
The teacher didn't seem to take any action to Emma's presence. The blonde didn't make any plan to move, either, for she continued to scribble onto the paper about her summer.
"Are you going to leave any time soon, Miss Swan?" She finally spoke of Emma's presence and the latter shivered.
"I was just going to finish my paper," she quickly explained.
"You seem to like making yourself known."
"What do you mean?" Emma stopped and dropped her pencil to look at the teacher who had now been chewing something.
After a few moments, she answered, "First off, you nearly jump out of your seat at the beginning of class." Her brow quirked. "And don't think I hadn't noticed you spacing off through most of the period. You would have had that assignment finished like the rest of your classmates if you had been paying attention."
Emma blushed slightly and looked down at her paper for a moment.
"And now you bring it upon yourself to stay in class during my lunch hour and finish work that could very well have been done in class. I must say, Emma, my first impression of you is not the best." Ms. Mills stabbed a piece of what appeared to be lettuce and brought the fork out of the container. "If you continue to make a habit out of this, let me tell you, this semester will be a long one."
"I'm sorry," she mumbled softly, feeling her heart weigh heavy in her chest. "Look, I'll get this done and be out of your hair."
"Do you need a pass after you are finished?" she asked, taking out a small pad of pass-papers.
Emma shook her head, pencil tapping on the paper once again. "I have open lunch."
"I see." Ms. Mills put the pad back and delicately wrapped her lips around the fork, pulling it away as she chewed the leaf.
The sight had Emma almost crying for mercy. What the hell was with her? This was her teacher. She supposed it wasn't exactly illegal; students were always crushing after their professors. It's not like they had a chance, anyways. It's not like she had the chance.
"You're spacing off again, Miss Swan." She quirked a brow at a blushing Emma.
"Sorry…" she mumbled and turned to write. About ten minutes later, she completed the assignment, just as it appeared that Ms. Mills had finished off her lunch. Emma stood and handed over her notebook.
"Thank you. Enjoy your lunch before you run out of time." The teacher offered her a soft smile as she took the notebook and sat it in front of herself. Soon, those glasses were back in place as she began to read the words on the paper.
"Thanks. You too, and sorry again for disrupting your lunch." Emma sighed softly and gathered her belongings before rushing out of the room.
"So, I see you survived her class." Belle chuckled, bumping her arm playfully against Emma's as the blonde arrived into the government classroom and took the seat next to her best friend.
"Yeah. It wasn't so bad." Emma shrugged. "I thought she was gonna be old or something."
"No, she isn't. Well, she is. She's like… almost thirty. She told us when I was in her class."
"What?" Emma blinked and stared at Belle with incredulous eyes. "I thought she was like… twenty-five or something."
"Well, close. She's twenty-seven."
"Wow," the blonde muttered.
"What's wrong?" Belle blinked, oblivious.
Emma turned to her friend, mouth slightly gaped open.
"She's…" She dramatically twitched her eye and dropped her head onto her desk.
Belle could only frown and sympathize, patting her back. "Hey, what's wrong, hon?"
"She's so hot," Emma whimpered sadly.
"What?" Belle blinked, then burst into laughter. She laughed. She had the audacity to laugh.
"What?!" Emma threw her hands up, the pout on her lips only forcing Belle to laugh more.
"If I would have known she was your type, I would have told you that you'd like her." Belle snorted a laugh through her nose, trying to calm down. Their teacher, Mr. Glass, had shot them a warning glance.
"I don't think my type is exactly that. I mean… I like the dark hair and eyes… and, shit, she can really pull off that suit."
"Wait until she wears the pencil skirt." The moment the words were out of her mouth, Belle looked as if she were going to hit herself.
"How am I going to survive this year?"
"I don't know, Em. You're out of luck." She chuckled once again.
"She's ten years older than me." Emma finally realized once again, a blank look on her face.
"So, you like older women. What's the deal?" Her friend shrugged nonchalantly.
"I guess… nothing. Not like anything's gonna happen anyways." Emma sighed softly and played with one of her blonde curls.
"You must really like her." Belle blinked, completely astonished by her friend's reaction.
"It's probably just a small crush."
"I guess. She shocked me, too." Belle shrugged and stood from her desk. The rest of the class had done the same and headed for the door.
"Class is over?"
"Yes." Belle chuckled. "Come on, we need to get to art class."
After art class had ended, Emma and Belle had left school to head toward Ruby's work.
Opening the door, Emma entered Granny's and smiled over to Ruby who had been behind the counter looking bored. The diner was empty for the most part except for a few patrons enjoying an afternoon coffee.
"Hey, it's my favorite girlfriends!" Ruby chuckled and waved the two teens over to the counter. "What do you want?"
"What I usually get." Emma shrugged indifferently as Belle nodded, repeating the same.
"Alright. We need an iced tea and a hot cocoa with cinnamon."
Writing down the order, Ruby headed off to gather the drinks. Soon enough she returned with the order, placing each drink in front of their respective owner. The lanky brunette leaned against the counter, dark lids batting.
"So, tell me, how was the first day of senior year?"
"Shitty," Emma mumbled, sipping from her cocoa.
"Emma's got a crush!" Belle squealed immediately, unable to contain her excitement as she bounced on the stool.
Ruby's eyes widened in surprise as she stared at the blonde who had now tried to hide her blush behind her hair.
"Goddammit, Belle. Why can't you keep your damn mouth shut?" she huffed at her friend's outburst.
"Who is she, Em?" The waitress smirked and eyed Belle, knowing she would spill the beans.
Belle smirked and poked Emma's arm, who merely grumbled a profanity before saying, "It's Ms. Mills."
"You mean the hot bitch that teaches English?" Ruby's eyes widened with surprise. "I didn't know you went for that type, Em."
"Shut up," Emma growled, glaring over at Belle.
The younger brunette smirked, waggling her brows. "Emma talked about her all during Gov."
"Shut. Up." The blush on the blonde's cheeks only darkened as Belle spoke. "It's not like I meant to."
"No! I wanna hear more about this crush on the Evil Queen." Ruby bit her red lip.
"She's not evil!" Emma defended, which only caused her cheeks to burn darker.
That had both of her friends raising their brows. "Defensive much, Em?" Ruby asked. "I mean, she was a monster with me."
"Shut up!" she groused and got up from her spot, downing the rest of her hot cocoa before slapping some money onto the counter.
"I think we went too far," she heard Belle say to Ruby who only laughed.
"Nah, she's just embarrassed."
Emma ignored Belle's apology and Ruby's laughter as she power walked herself home. She knew she should have never said anything to Belle. She knew she should have just kept her lips sealed.
Whatever this little crush is would go away soon. It was just an infatuation after all. Nothing more than desire that she usually felt for most women she found attractive.
"Emma!" Mary Margaret stopped the blonde teen in her tracks as she entered the apartment. "There you are! I was worried. I thought you were going to be home before me."
"I'm sorry, Mary Margaret. I stopped to see Ruby." She bit her lip. "I'll text you if I do it again. I just wanted to tell her about my first day. She wanted to know."
"Oh. It's fine, honey. As long as you're okay." Mary Margaret smiled and wrapped her arms around Emma for a moment. "How was your first day?"
"It wasn't too bad." Emma shrugged, avoiding any possible conversation about her Creative Writing class.
Emma nodded and followed her mother to the kitchen as she resigned to spilling the details about her day.