your comments did it! I finished a chapter within a month-ish time! thanks for the encouragement. it could be longer but I am literally packed to leave out the door to go camping. Damn inspiration at the most inopportune times! Thank You & Enjoy.
The feast had been delicately laid out when meal time approached. Everyone's appetite resurfaced from their small breakfast and from continuously being in the ever growing aroma of cooking food. More than once Emma inhaled deeply the smell emanating from around the kitchen. Zelena asked to use David's study when she expressed the desire to see her kids and husband. David set up the computer's video chat for her and let her be. Ariel and Killian arrived just as the food was finishing cooking. Mary decorated the dining area with ease, Granny plated the dishes, David got together the drinks everyone would like, and Regina and Emma bantered back and forth about the proper placements of the dishes on the dining table.
Regina was set against almost everything Emma was saying simply because the blonde was trying to get just her favorites surrounding her seat and within arm's reach. Emma relented on a few dishes but kept the mashed potatoes and gravy by her. It was Swan tradition potatoes.
"You guys bicker like you're already married." Ariel chimed in with a smile when she entered the dining area with a stack of cups. Emma and Regina smiled somewhat shy at the redhead.
"Aye but if this is the worst of it you'll never go to sleep angry." Killian adds as he strides to the table with some extra napkins and dishing spoons. "There's a tip for you." Killian gestures to Emma as he walks around the table distributing napkins.
"Uh yeah, thanks." Emma mutters a little awkwardly. As much as she would like to get to know Regina on a more personal level now and start a relationship; it is going to take some time to get over how it's getting started. "So Ariel, getting nervous yet?" Emma redirects the conversation subtly, she hopes.
Ariel chuckles rubbing her full belly. "Yes, but I've been nervous for only the past thirty weeks so I'm use to it."
Emma catches up on some of Ariel's pregnancy war stories. At least the ones that are not appropriate for when they are eating. Emma grimaces as Ariel talks and laughs at how haunted Killian's face is looking. Regina stands around the table needlessly adjusting the layout of the table just to do something. Emma notices and wraps an arm around Regina's waist when she walks by. Emma holds her close and Regina takes a minute to adjust to the feel.
David, Mary, and Granny move into the dining area and move to their usual seats around the table. Regina lightly touches Emma's shoulder and excuses herself from the group to head to the study.
The door is slightly ajar so Regina pushes it open further gently. She sees Zelena absorbed with the computer screen, a soft smile on her face. "-still have to. They're good for you." Her voice is warm but firm. "What do mummy and daddy say about things that are good for you?"
A beat passes before the young voice of a little girl sounds through the computer's speakers. "That even if it's yucky or not fun I should trust you and daddy that it's good for me." Her words sound recited and exhausted in a way that says the little girl is tired of having to say it so much.
Zelena beams at the screen. "That's right, poppy. You know how I feel about bananas but daddy and I still put it in our porridge, yeah?"
There is a childish sigh from the screen. "Yeah… and bananas got possum and it's good for you, mummy."
Zelena chuckles and the whole scene has Regina smiling. "Potassium, Rosie, and that's right. Daddy fancies kale even though it's rabbit grub." Zelena stage whispers that last part.
There's a little giggle and a distant man's voice. "Oi!" A little while passes and the man's voice returns more clear and loud. "I heard it all you meanies." There is heavy laughter now through the speakers and Zelena's eyes shine with love at the screen. A child's pleas to stop the tickle torture break through and settle. "I hate to break this up but there's a pair of munchkins that want a dip in the pool before supper."
"Oh alright. You rowdy munchkins better play nice and where's Bo?" Zelena questions but immediately begins to laugh. "Bo, sweetie, you look like you're heading deep sea diving."
Chatter between two loud kids garble through so Regina can not understand them. It's the man's voice that settles the two down. "Munchkins, say good night to mummy and let's get this underwater adventure going. Hugs and kisses, my luv ."
"Good night, mummy. Sweet dreams!"
"Bring me back a polar bear!"
"She's not in Antartica, poppy."
"Say hi to your strange sister, mummy!"
Zelena and her husband's laughter mingle together. "Good night, my lovelies. Mummy misses you."
Regina hears a few last goodbyes as she stands awkwardly in the doorway. She is so lost in her thoughts about the whole thing she witnessed that she snaps out of it when she feels eyes on her. "She meant estranged." Regina looks confused and Zelena smiles and nods towards the computer. "Rose. She remembers loads of words but forgets how to pronounce them. Robin has been trying to explain why I'm not there and who I'm seeing. I get the feeling he's been using big words again." She chuckles like it's an inside joke Regina is too far to ever get into.
Regina smiles softly regardless. "They sound like wonderful children. I am sorry for eavesdropping. I just came to tell you we're ready to eat now."
Zelena waves her hand dismissively, takes a breathe, and stands. "It's quite alright. I suppose you'll be meeting them eventually. Down the road, that is, if you want to."
Regina watches as Zelena becomes a little more unsure and hesitant. With the personality she has seen from the woman so far the look stands out way too much to go unnoticed. Regina quickly thinks about the idea of meeting her half niece and nephew. As well as her half brother-in-law. It is way more family than she thought she would ever get so quickly and it will be overwhelming in a sense but… "I look forward to meeting them."
The sisters share timid but hopeful smiles. "Brilliant."
Regina nods and leads the way from the study to the dining area. Emma is standing nearby as if waiting for her and guides her to a vacant seat at one end of the table. Granny is looking quite comfortable in a commanding seat at the head of the table. David and Mary are flanking her sides, twin smiles on their faces. Ariel sits next to Mary, the pair still discussing future baby plans, and Killian quickly snags the seat to his wife's right. Emma directs Zelena next to her father, figuring the pair are easily chatty and will get along for a meal, then she sits at the end of table with Regina to her right. David gestures between Zelena and the wedded couple, introducing them to each other quickly. There is a tense beat of surprise at the added guest but they welcome Zelena regardless.
Emma grins down the table towards Granny who offers her own pleased smile. The oldest at the table raises a hand that gathers everyone's attention. "I am much too old and hungry to give a long speech. Bless the offerings presented on this table. May the universe show grace and mercy to all here today and the loved ones in our hearts."
A moment of silence passes before hands move to dishes and ladles to begin doling out portions of food. David stands to carve pieces of turkey for everyone while Emma and Killian debate who would get the wishbone this year.
Regina took a small portion of anything Emma handed to her once the blonde piled it on her own plate. The brunette eyed the blonde's plate wearily as Emma looked at it with gluttonous eyes. "Dear, you know that you don't have to pile everything on one plate? You could save it for a second."
Emma positioned her napkin on her lap and grabbed her silverware. "That would take up too much time. I'm a one and done kind of lady." The blonde smirked at Regina with a flirty wink.
Regina merely scoffed and returned to her plate. The first couple minutes of the meal were silent except for the sounds of silverware scrapes and delicious groans of approval, mostly coming from Emma and Killian. Ariel and Zelena, who turned out to be a slower eater as well, slowed their progress and began chatting amicably with one another about, shockingly, kids. Zelena regales the mother-to-be and anyone that listens about the trial and tribulations of her two munchkins.
Mary wipes her mouth and jumps in. "Your husband- Robin, yes- he must be wonderful with the kids to watch them on his own."
"Well, we've both raised them so it's not like he's clueless. When I worked long hours he was there and when he goes travelling I was there. It's just how it all works." Zelena shrugs. "When society treats men as these domestically challenged twits is when we as women short ourselves. Why make the mother do all the work? It's ridiculous. There's two parents."
Mary is taken aback and is rendered speechless by her words. Ariel looks at Zelena with awe before eyeing her husband next to her. "Hear that? You are coming with me to my last baby class next week."
Killian seems to pale but Zelena just nods to him decidedly. "You'll be better off, believe me. Any doubts and fears you have about being a good parent, everyone has them, so you might as well learn all you can and do your best."
Granny jumps in commenting about her generation not having fancy classes or daycare. Emma nudges Killian next to her and remarks that he won't be going on his boat for pleasure for a long while. He disputes it strongly stating his kid will learn to sail before they walk, which gets a disapproving look from Ariel. Regina takes in the familial conversations until Zelena knocks her elbow and grins at her.
"You won't have to worry about any of that with your tots, eh sis? Not much for boats or planes from what I hear. It'd be a decade and a half before that child visits this lovely home."
Regina opens her mouth to dispute her sister, she's just not sure about which part exactly. Mary chimes in quickly sounding indignant. "That's ridiculous. I expect my future grandchild to visit within the year." She fixes Emma with a look the blonde can only describe as a "mom" look. "My grandchild will not be like her mother and barely visit her home."
Emma chuckles nervously under her look, barely passing a glance at Regina. "Can I clarify that this is all hypothetical? We don't need to talk about kids that aren't even a suggestion for us at this point." Emma gestures between herself and a slightly embarrassed brunette.
Ariel is quick to ease her friend's discomfort. "Well, of course not. My mom brought up kids the very first time Killian came over for dinner, it's just their way of teasing."
"Surely the topic has come up once before." Zelena unhelpfully adds, looking directly at her sister.
Regina stiffens at the attention and is quick to diffuse the situation. "I think the more important thing is that we agree that talk about kids is much too soon in our relationship. We will have that discussion in depth when the time comes. We're just happy to be the two of us now." She places her hand atop Emma's forearm just for added measure. They lock eyes for a moment and share growing smiles at how accurate that statement was. It may be in slightly different meaning for the rest of the people at the table but for Regina, it's not acting.
Emma reigns in her suddenly dopey smile and looks down the table at her mother. Silently telling her to drop the subject and just let them have a meal all together. Mary's head bobs minutely and she continues on eating a little harshly. Regina's hand stays where it is for another few moments and so does her eyes. Ever since they began their morning Regina has felt like she could look at the blonde for hours and be pleasantly content. For a moment she takes in her soft skin, bright and colorful eyes, and smooth hair before she pulls herself away.
Regina focuses back to her plate and a drink of water but is distracted by her sister clearing her throat. The elder woman leans in a bit and talks in a hushed tone. "Though I'm sure it couldn't hurt to keep trying, eh? Swan's fit like a marathon runner."
Zelena's laugh doesn't drown out the sounds of Regina choking on water. The noise does draw the attention of everyone at the table. Emma's hand is immediately on her back lightly patting. "You okay?" She asks concerned but with still a bit of amusement. Regina only nods, uses her napkin, and gets herself together.
"That is not amusing." Regina glares at the woman smiling smugly. Her response is a shrug before the redhead goes back to her meal.
Regina huffs a bit, her attention is drawn to Emma when she hears a low chuckle. Under her boss' stern gaze, Emma acquiesces right away. "Sorry but she probably thinks she has some catching up to do. You know, sibling teasing and all."
With a roll of her eyes she ignores both women at her sides. "I don't need to be caught up."
Emma meets Zelena's subtle look from the side of her eye and smiles. A quick quirk of her lips is all she gets before their food becomes more prevalent again. Killian and David have been talking about their boats while Ariel and Granny discuss the new family home being built just outside of town near the docks. Emma is enjoying how well things are going and a long missed home cooked meal.
As conversation is passed between everyone lovingly, and amicably between certain people, Emma steals glances around the table at it all. She has missed the feeling of being around her family table during a meal. The only difference being that to her right are two new faces and no Ruby. Seeing her boss Regina Mills here in her childhood home, eating at the table she has been at countless times, and speaking with her long time friends is almost like shattering her reality. She never would have imagined this scenario and yet she is kind of happy she gets to see it.
"What's with that stupid look on your face?" A moment passes before Emma realizes Zelena has spoken to her. She looks questioningly at her. "You've been staring off with a goofy smile for the past minute. You look deranged."
Emma clears her throat and drops her head to hide a little blush at being caught. She did not realize her face was so open and that half the table probably noticed her dazed appearance thanks to Zelena's words. "Nothing." She steals a glance at Regina and is instantly met with big, brown eyes shining with amusement and warmth. It makes her cheeks a little warmer
"I think you may be collateral damage to the sibling teasing." Regina smiles at her. Emma feels her heart trip up and she is quick to hide it.
"I don't want her as a sister." Emma fights back a smile at Zelena's mock gasp. "I guess the wedding is off then." Emma shrugs casually, trying not to break her somber facade.
"Too late, Swan, you're stuck with me." Regina adds quickly. They lock eyes again and are both a little surprised Regina's words are said so quickly.
Emma deflates dramatically with an exhale. "Oh well, I tried." Ariel perks up there, noticing both women have matching warm smiles.
"So! About the wedding, any solid plans yet? You have a color scheme or a set date?"
Cold dread filled Emma and Regina's guts at the same time.
They share unsure and scared looks before Emma clears her throat. "Actually, we haven't given it any thought."
"Not any?!" Ariel remarks in astonishment.
Emma's eyes widen at the implication of her words. She sees her mother eyeing her with slightly raised eyebrows. A part of Emma knows that her mother knows the whole thing is a sham and is waiting for her to come up with a good excuse. Another part of her wants to keep up appearances with her family, a little out of stubbornness, for Regina's sake. The brunette should not have to go through the whole experience feeling like her every interaction with Emma is a lie. Hell, Emma would of thought the same thing up until that morning actually.
"I meant much. We haven't given it much thought. Regina and I are not into the whole big wedding with acroutements everywhere. We'd like to keep it simple and, well, we can't decide on a time, right?" Emma reaches out blindly to place her hand atop Regina's. She hits a plate and butter knife before finding Regina's wrist.
The brunette takes it all in stride a lot quicker now. She smiles warmly at Ariel and readjusts their hands to something more comfortable. "Yes, simple and small." A part of her feels like she instantly hates the idea. "I'd like a Summer time wedding inside."
"And I'd prefer Autumn outside." Emma adds in quickly to corroborate their story. "I think it would look prettier with like the pictures and stuff." Emma smiles almost shyly towards Ariel and her family.
Ariel smiles sweetly at her long time friend. "There's really only the warmer season to have a wedding. You have to take into account the weather, town hall's schedule, and lodging, oh I'm sorry I just assumed it would be here. Did you think about...if you'd want it in New York or here or...?"
Emma can tell that Ariel is fighting a battle between genuine curiosity and being sensitive to her friend's feelings on the subject. Emma can appreciate the effort being made by Ariel so she smiles like the whole discussion is no big deal and is quick to answer.
Emma and Regina's heads snap towards the others, disbelief in their eyes.
Emma barely registers the snickering from Zelena and Killian as she stares at the brunette. "You want to get married here?!"
There's so much emphasis on the dislike for that Mary protests acutely. "Hey!" She is ignored by the table.
"You want to get married away from your family?" Regina offers back.
"Hey." Mary chimes in with an approved smile and appreciative light in her eyes towards Regina. She is still ignored.
The confused look between the couple is amusing to almost everyone else at the table. The silence does not last long however.
"It's not like they can't travel."
"Moving most of the wedding party is unreasonable."
"New York has more options."
"For a small, simple wedding?"
The table unexpectedly breaks into conversations. Each person spouting the pros of both locations. Eventually even Emma and Regina fall silent at the ruckus they are witnessing at the table. Killian and Mary are adamant about having a Storybrooke wedding, particularly seaside in Killian's opinion. Ariel and Zelena side with New York having better weather and a variety of locations for the small ceremony. David seems to just be agreeing with everyone and Granny is stone silent.
Emma is pulled from her staring by Regina's hand squeezing her own. Emma looks to her surprised she is still holding her hand. "It's the smarter thing to do. You have more people on your side than I do." Regina shrugs slightly. Emma's look softens and her postures sags a little when she realizes that truth. The blonde squeezes her hand back while mumbling a lazy rebuttal. Regina chuckles at Emma's words. "Believe me, I would love for it to be in the city. Anything to keep me off that flying crate that got us here."
Regina smiles wide when Emma laughs at her joke.
"Then get married tomorrow." Everyone's heads turn to the end of the table where the eldest person is casually drinking her glass of water.
"Granny, you can't mean t-" Mary says.
"Of course I mean what I say. I said it." Her fading blue eyes look sharply down the table at Emma. "Everyone important is already at this table minus Ruby. Who will be there." Her eyebrow arches, her statement sounds a little like a question but challenging Emma to negate it. Emma quickly nods along because she would not keep Ruby from attending anything important to their family. Without knowing it Emma caresses the back of Regina's hand with her thumb. "Then we can gather tomorrow at town hall for a quick
ceremony and an open reception."
She nods her head resolutely and tears into a bread roll easily. Emma gapes silently, she feels Regina tightening her hold on her hand, and her mother is still quiet.
"I like the sound of it." David finally breaks the silence. Ariel deflates quickly with a smile and agrees.
Killian lightly slaps the blonde on the arm. "There ya go, Em. Simple and small. Regina's got her sister here to witness it as well."
Eyes flick to the redhead who seems a little surprised to be brought up. She smiles regardless and turns slightly in her chair to face Regina. "Well, if you decide tomorrow is the day I would be honored to attend, of course. I didn't think it would be so soon after meeting you so I completely understand if it's a bit much and-"
"Zelena, you are more than welcome to attend. I want you to be there." She offers her sister a genuine smile that is returned. "I need someone on my side who is just as boisterous as Emma's friends."
The younger adults all laugh at that. "Consider it done."
"Maybe it should be a cash bar." David adds jokingly which get immediate rejections from Emma's friends and Zelena.
"What do you say, Ducky?" Emma meets Granny's eyes and feels a cold stone drop in her gut. Despite all the positives of getting the ceremony out of the way the thought of it all happening so suddenly gives Emma pause. The part of her that believes something will go wrong has been chanting in her mind during this part of the conversation. It's purely instinct for her to try and think of reasons to postpone the ceremony.
Before she can say something, Regina is squeezing her hand and facing Granny. "It's a great idea. I say we do it." Emma has to hand it to Regina, her features and tone give nothing away about her nerves. Emma knows however because her hand is starting to tingle from how tightly they are holding onto each other.
Killian, Ariel, and David all smile and celebrate the idea already. "Unless," Mary interjects "Emma wants to wait." Mother looks at her daughter meaningfully. "Do you need more time to think on this?"
Emma winces slightly at the very unsubtle meaning behind her mother's words. She's sure that the whole table knows now how unapproving she is about the union. She catches the way Granny looks at Mary curiously. There will be time later to think about that because right now she can't appear like she's actually thinking on it. It wouldn't look appropriate.
Emma raises their clasped hands up to her lips to lay a kiss on the back of Regina's hand. Once again she is mesmerized by those shining, chocolate eyes staring back at her hesitantly. She gives Regina a wide smile to calm her nerves. "I do not."
"That's one too many words, Ducky." David quickly says. "Don't worry I'll help you practice for tomorrow."
Regina and Emma chuckle genuinely at her father's words while remaining locked on each others' smiling faces. "Thanks, dad, but I got this. Let's do it." She says to Regina confidently.
"Not while I'm sleeping next door." Granny cracks.
Everyone but Mary laughs, she gives Granny a little disgusted glare, Regina and Emma finally pull away from each other.
"You cheeky gram, I was about to say just that!" Zelena exerts, smiling widely at the older woman. Granny merely winks at the redhead with a quirk of her lip.
Emma shakes her head and shrugs helpless in a "what can ya do" way to Regina. The brunette rolls her eyes playfully and tries to return to eating to hide how flushed her face feels. The lightness of the mood is a thick blanket over her doubting thoughts. A rush wedding has Regina a bit panicked but it's the better option. At least this way when they go back to New York they can be safe from Mr. Gold's scrutiny.
Regina tilts her head slightly with thought. Maybe it would seem even more suspicious for them to get married so hastily. If they can pull it off that her and Emma were just too in love to wait maybe...no, that's ridiculous. They haven't had a date yet. Regina keeps her exterior looking calm and happy but her mind is thousands of miles away, back in a tiny Government office, going through that rigorous life-altering questionnaire.
Regina wonders if they can pull off this sudden marriage and if holding onto her job title is worth it. Regina hears her long lost sister tell a story about her wedding day that brings her halfway back to the table. She mentally pulls herself together and promises herself to think about this new development quickly.
Unfortunately, for Regina and Emma that is, the situation is not over in the slightest. Everyone else at the table start throwing in ideas about how to pull off a wedding by tomorrow and still look nice. Mary is remaining way too quiet on the subject of her daughter's wedding, however, she is still commenting on how best to round up supplies. Emma and Regina simply sit and now and then reject an idea. Mostly Emma does this since she knows the locations and people being talked about.
"Not many people in Storybrooke are ordained, Em, and it would take too long for someone else to get qualified." Killian unhelpfully reasons to the blonde.
"There has to be someone else. I'm not getting married by Sydney I-want-to-run-this-town Glass." Emma glares back.
"That's a long middle name." Zelena mutters loud enough for the table to hear.
"What about Doc? He did the Madding and White wedding." David adds. "His practice is doing really well but I think he owes me a favor."
"Yes. Anyone but Sydney." Emma all but growls the name out which amusings the others.
"Great. That's settled. So, what about the dresses?"
The table goes eerily quiet and very subtly eyes turn towards Emma's mother. It has been very well known over the years that Mary was more excited about the prospect of her daughter getting married than anyone with whom she would marry. Now that irony seems to be biting her in the ass. The pixie haired woman glances around the table and scoffs at the expectant looks. "What? I don't have ready made gowns for my daughter and options for her to choose from!"
Still the table waits for the rest of that statement. The mother cracks fairly quickly. "OK! I have maybe drawn up some ideas for dresses. That's it though. Maybe I showed them to Nova and...maybe, she liked them and made them. But I did not orchestrate that! I want that known!"
Everyone looks mildly surprised but not completely knowing this all came from Mary. Granny covers Mary's hand with her own. Zelena speaks up next. "Well, that seems fairly easy then. We got the conductor of ceremony, the outfits...town hall for the location?" Zelena questions Emma and Regina. They nod silently. "Brilliant. Now the catering and duties."
"Leave it to me." Everyone looks to Granny again. "I will take care of the food and getting people together to help out with the odds and ends." With that said the old woman stands with her glass raised up. "No one knows where life will take them and who you will meet. It's about the turns and dead ends we must walk. On this journey I hope you both have found the person to get lost with."
There was a chorus of agreements and sentiments as everyone raised their own drink to toast. Emma and Regina did so out of instinct. Inside they were a mess of emotions and swirling thoughts. The kind words from Granny made them feel warm and happy but the implications of a speech before their wedding had their stomach in knots. The pair thanked the old woman with kind smiles, their hands joining without thought, but a thought crossed both their minds.
If I feel like this now, how can I handle the wedding?