A/N: Hi everyone! I know it's been some time since I've updated... I apologize for that. I have been really busy with my internship, and it's been hard to find time to write this. I hope the length of this chapter makes up for the wait, though! It's my longest chapter yet. Part of this chapter will look very familiar to Chapter 6 in "The First Step" but most of what's written in here is new. Lots of Emma/Regina/Henry moments. This chapter doesn't jump directly into 1x02 events, but it's slowly building into it.
Hope you enjoy :)
Chapter Four: Feelings of Magic
"The Thing You Love Most" SQ Rewrite – Part 1
Their wedding. Snow White and Prince Charming's wedding. It played mockingly on the insides of her eyelids like the first grand showing of a new movie.
Sorry I'm late.
Snow drawing her husband's sword as she swiftly crossed the room to the couple and threw the guards aside with her magic. Her saying she was an evil witch. Charming lowering the sword, declaring she had already lost and would be unable to ruin their wedding. Yawn. His speech was boring. So pathetic. She had the upper hand still.
Oh, I haven't come here to ruin anything. On the contrary, dear. I've come to give you a gift.
Snow didn't want it. Why would she have? A gift from the Evil Queen? To the two people she despised the most? It certainly could not be trusted. But she didn't care. She hadn't come here to earn anyone's trust.
But you shall have it. My gift to you is this happy, happy day. For tomorrow, my real work begins. You've made your vows. Now I make mine. Soon, everything you love… Everything all of you love… Will be taken from you. Forever. And out of your suffering will rise my victory.
The greatest weight of it all dropped with her last two sentences. Fire burned in her brown orbs.
I shall destroy your happiness. If it is the last thing I do.
She turned around rather quickly, then stopped at what should have been Prince Charming's call. The hey that echoed back at her didn't come from his mouth, though. Instead, the word came from a beautiful, blonde-haired woman standing in front of her at the doors she burst through moments ago. And she wasn't sporting her usual attire. She was wearing a gorgeous, sparkling green dress that matched her radiant eyes. Her blonde curls were pulled back into a braided bun. Two necklaces hung around her neck. Swan pendant and her former love's ring. Daniel's ring.
Her voice. It was so calm. So sweet. So reassuring.
She let out a shaky breath. Why was she here? Hell, she wasn't even a thought in the minds of her parents. How could she be here?
The blonde reached out for her hand, grabbing it, squeezing it gently. Her green eyes met her gaze. The crowd around her blurred. They remained in the Charmings' castle, in the same ceremonious room, but none of the people there mattered anymore. Except for her.
It's okay, Regina. It doesn't have to be this way.
No. How could she say that? How?
You will find your happiness. I promise. Just don't go through with this.
Her eyes fell to the ring. She put out her free hand and touched the object, running her fingertips across the precious metal.
Things can be right again, Regina. You just have to make that choice. Do not go through with this curse.
She pulled her hand away and looked up at the blonde, shaking her head fiercely. She hated herself. But it had to be done. Snow had to pay. She deserved to suffer for the pain and misery she had put her through. Still, the glowing fire of revenge in her brown eyes had gradually become extinguished by the forming tears of regret. The right choice was never easy. She couldn't bring herself to choose it. Not even for her.
I can't, Emma. I'm sorry. This is the only way to get my happy ending.
Her green eyes mirrored her own. It tugged at her heart.
But I'm your happy ending. Can't you do this for me? Please, don't make my parents pay the price. Please.
It was killing her. She tried to push old feelings aside, wanting nothing more than the blonde to be happy. She gave her a small, hesitant smile and felt her head tip forward in the beginnings of a nod. Maybe she could start fresh. Mend the wounds of the past. The blonde smiled back at her, tears rolling down her cheeks.
Thank you, Regina. Thank you.
She found the strength to glance behind her shoulder and look back at the newlyweds. She imagined them exchanging their vows, beaming at each other as they awaited their first kiss as husband and wife. She imagined the blonde standing next to her parents, all three of them smiling and laughing. Snow and Charming suddenly looked up at her, talking to her, thanking her. It felt so real. She wanted it to be real.
Her eyes locked with Snow's. And then the old memories came flooding back, suffocating her.
Daniel. Her words to Snow. Love, true love, is magic. Snow promising never to tell her mother about Daniel, but failing to keep the promise nevertheless. His heart, beating in her mother's hands as she tightened her grip around it. Him falling to the floor. Her true love dying because little Snow White couldn't keep her mouth shut. She came back to the room, feeling sickened by the couple and seeing them so very, very happy. She turned back to the blonde. Her lips curled into a frown.
I'm sorry, dear. You don't understand. I have to enact this curse.
The blonde tilted her head slightly, disappointment washing over her face. She let go of her hand and backed away.
You're not just ruining their lives. Or everyone else's lives in this room.
Her heart began to pound. She felt her palms go sweaty.
You don't know the future like I do. You will regret what you did.
She already did. She needed an out, needed to leave before it all became too overwhelming. She closed her eyes, picturing herself at her own castle. But the magic didn't work. She remained in the room. She dared to open her eyes and met harsh words that hit her like a blow to the face.
You will ruin my life, and your son's life. Our son's life.
She opened her mouth, but no words came out.
Enjoy your miserable life, Evil Queen. Because you will never get your happy ending.
The blonde turned on her heel and marched towards the door. She put out her hand, trying to stop her with magic, but only words could do such power at the time.
The blonde stopped, glancing at her briefly, a wicked grin forming upon her lips. It was too late when she found out the reason behind the grin. She turned around quickly, seeing the sword from Charming's hand coming at her. The tip was nearly inches from her heart…
Regina awoke with a jolt. She put a hand to her chest, finding it unscathed. It was just a dream. Only a dream.
Well, that was partially a lie. The dream was very real and the reason why this town existed. Why Emma's life had been so terrible. The day had happened nearly twenty eight years ago. Emma hadn't been there, but she wished she could have. Maybe things would have been different.
Too bad the Savior wasn't born yet.
Regina turned her head, expecting to see the blonde sleeping peacefully like she had last night. Her heart skipped a beat when she saw the space next to her was empty. "Emma…"
"Good morning, sunshine."
She smiled. Regina noticed she had changed back into her own clothes and was now pulling the white tank top over her head. "Thank you for letting me borrow your clothes for the night." She signaled to a neatly folded pile on the edge of the bed.
Regina glanced at the outfit and then back up at her, a frown on her face. "Where are you going?"
"I have to head back to the B&B."
She looked over her shoulder, reading the time off the clock on the nightstand, and turned back to her. "It's only 5:45. Henry doesn't have to go to school for another two hours."
"I know. But I should be at the B&B."
She was brought back to her dream. Emma marching to the door. Her wicked grin. The sword nearly piercing her heart. She sat up, pulling the covers tighter around her, feeling herself rock slightly. The blonde sensed her uneasiness, leaning down to her and giving her lips a quick peck. "Don't worry. I'll be back."
As she backed away, her eyes caught sight of the two necklaces. Again, she saw flashes of her dream. The dazzling green dress. Her braided hair pulled back. Reaching out to touch Daniel's ring. She gave Emma a weak smile.
Emma threw on her gray long sleeve, hiding the necklaces. Regina relaxed a bit, watching the blonde pick up her leather jacket.
"Any suggestions for breakfast?"
"The one and only Granny's diner."
"Ah, I should have guessed."
"I'd be more than happy to join you before heading to work."
Emma put her hands on her hips, seemingly worried about her suggestion. "Are you sure?"
"I go there every morning for coffee. No one will suspect a thing."
Except Ruby and the others in the diner yesterday. The customers hadn't heard the majority of the conversation, so she highly doubted any of them would make a big deal about her walking in with Emma. After her tense encounter with Ruby, she wondered if the waitress would be able to sniff out the relationship. Literally. Well, the curse made that part impossible. Still, she didn't know if Ruby guessed that she had slept with someone other than Graham or if she was just trying to perform a kind gesture to a new guest. However, she only ever ordered two coffees when Graham spent the night…
Damn it, Regina. You screwed that one up.
She would have to resort to the order she made when she had a night fling with Graham. She would take the black coffee and give Emma her usual order. She could live with dull coffee for one morning.
Emma was grinning. "Okay. I'll see you at…"
"Exactly. For coffee."
Regina nodded, laughing slightly.
Emma made her way to the bedroom door, hesitating with the knob, brushing her fingertips along it. She turned to look back at her. "Thank you again, Regina. For last night."
"You're welcome, dear."
"Keep calling me that."
"Dear. I like when you call me that."
"Okay. I'll make sure to remember that."
She looked down, her cheeks turning a bright shade of red. She stayed like that for a few seconds and then left, closing the door quietly behind her.
Regina closed her eyes again, letting the image of Emma blushing linger in her mind. It soon contrasted with the blonde's wicked grin at her, and her eyes flashed open. She decided to stay awake and start her day. There was no way she was drifting off to sleep again that morning.
She threw the covers aside and sat on the edge of the bed, thinking over her work schedule for the day. Something else gnawed at her, something that had caused her great worry whenever it was mentioned.
Then, Mary Margaret.
She knew what she was going to do in the meantime. She had to find out how much of the real story that book recounted.
She crept down the hallway and quietly entered Henry's bedroom, scanning its entirety until she found it. It was sitting so nicely on the edge of his bed, tempting her. It was as if it was just waiting for her to come take it. Henry was sleeping with his back toward her, and she picked up the storybook carefully, silently. She came back to the door, watching him. He hadn't even stirred. She exited the room, letting out a sigh of relief when she arrived back in her own room.
Regina sat down on the bed and flipped through the pages. Phrases popped out at her, the pictures bringing the memories to life.
The wild steed. Snow White as a child. An arranged marriage. Daniel…
Mother killing him by crushing his heart. All because Snow had let her secret slip.
She read further, coming to Prince Charming and Snow White's story of falling in love at the Troll Bridge. A few days ago, the story would have reignited the flame of pure hatred she had for the two. But now, all she was left with were mixed feelings of old resentment and newfound regret.
The wedding came soon afterward, bringing back to life the nightmare she had recently.
Why did I let myself take it that far?
She shook her head and flipped ahead.
I was blinded by hate. Simple as that. And now here I am, years later, with their daughter.
Will they ever forgive me for what I did? Will Emma?
And finally, what should have been the day the curse swept over the kingdom. But the pages were missing, clearly ripped out. She shouldn't have been surprised.
Will Henry be able to forgive me?
Regina closed the book.
She was going to change. She had made that decision last night. She was ready to leave behind her villainous past and make up for all of the terrible things she had done. And she was done with the curse. She would break it. Or at least help Emma break it, if it turned out the blonde was really the only person who could.
She knew it wasn't going to be an easy road, but she had accepted that. She wasn't looking for an easy way to fix things. She wanted to do it the right way.
There were things she hadn't considered before.
What if, after the curse broke, no one believed in her to change?
And worst of all.
What if Emma didn't want her anymore? What if she no longer wanted that future with her?
She would lose everything.
But if she didn't at least try, she would never know what her life could be like if the town did believe in her to change. If Emma wanted to stay with her.
She could have the life she had always dreamed of.
A simple one. Spending everyday with the people she could call her family.
And that was enough for her to take the chance.
She had a lot work ahead of her. An operation of sorts, as Henry would call it.
Regina stood up from the bed and headed back out into the hallway.
And the first step? Returning the storybook to Henry without him noticing she had taken it in the first place. He would be needing it, after all, if he was to help Emma into believing the curse and the fairytales were true.
She quietly and gently placed the book back on to his bed where she had found it.
He still didn't stir.
She made her way out of his bedroom, a new thought in her mind.
How am I going to help Emma believe?
Emma smiled up at the clock tower as its morning bell chimed loudly above Main Street. 8:15am. She stepped away from the VW and strode to the diner, looking down at the sidewalk briefly. Just as she was about to look up again, she collided with someone, bumping into their shoulder.
"I'm so sorry…"
She relaxed when she saw who was standing in front of her. Regina. Right on time. The brunette was smiling at her. "It's alright. I did it on purpose." She pointed to the clock tower.
"So you heard it, too?"
"Henry told me it hasn't worked his whole life."
"You heard right. It has served as a… Nice reminder." There was a hint of remorse in her tone, like the noise brought up old memories she cared not to recall. It disappeared quickly, though, her voice becoming sweet. "Think you brought a magic spark with you to help it work again."
Emma laughed. "Magic? You're starting to sound like…"
Regina put out her hand. "I know. I did it intentionally."
She turned around and followed Emma to the diner. Once inside, Regina headed to the counter while she stayed behind. The girl who was yelling at her grandmother the night before took her order. Emma squinted to read her name tag: Ruby.
"My usual. And one black coffee."
"Yes, Madam Mayor."
Emma approached the counter, folding her arms across her chest. "Madam Mayor?"
"Yes. Got a problem with it?"
"Nope." She smirked. "I'll have to remember the name, dear."
She noticed Regina bite her lip, trying to hold back her laughter. She smiled at the silly behavior and reached into her pocket, pulling out some money. "Let me…"
Regina looked down at her hand and then shook her head fiercely. "I've got it."
Her brown eyes met hers, pleading with her to put the money away. "Please. Just let me pay. Trust me."
Ruby reappeared then with the two coffees. She looked at Emma with interest, glancing at her and then at Regina as she handed her the cups. "Here you go."
Regina placed the money on the counter. "Thank you."
"Have a nice day, you two."
They both nodded to her. Emma detected annoyance in Regina's expression when she turned around. She lowered her voice. Emma took this as a sign to talk quietly as well.
"Did you like what I got you yesterday?"
"You like black coffee?"
"No, but…" Regina glanced around her. Ruby was out of sight now, most likely consulting with someone in the kitchen. "I don't usually order two coffees. I only do that when…" She hesitated for a moment, seemingly lost for words. Emma was about to prompt her further, but she spoke again before she could. "When I stop by the sheriff's office. He's always so busy, and I know he likes his coffee. Sheriff Graham? You should go see him some time."
She nodded and looked down at the coffee in her hands. "So ordering two of the same…"
"Looked suspicious yesterday."
"See you around?"
"Okay, Madam Mayor."
"Please, Emma. Just Regina will do."
"Okay, just Regina."
"You know what I mean."
Emma nodded and grinned quickly. They both went their separate ways, Regina leaving the diner and Emma heading to an empty booth. Ruby appeared almost instantly.
"She get you coffee yesterday?"
"She ordered two of the same yesterday and then changed the order today. Didn't like what she originally got you?"
Shit. "She didn't get me coffee yesterday."
"Sure." Ruby put a hand on her hip. "I'd be careful around her, if I were you."
Emma sipped her coffee nervously. "What do you mean?"
"The kind gesture." Ruby pointed to the coffee in her hands. "It may seem like she's being nice to you, but don't trust it. She's a manipulator."
"And you know this how?"
"Outside visitors don't last long around here. Hell, they hardly ever come here." Ruby handed her a menu. "The mayor doesn't like visitors. So she sees to taking care of them."
"Basically, she'll do whatever it takes to get rid of them."
"So you're saying I'm a threat?"
"Exactly. So like I said. Be careful."
"Thanks for the warning." Emma opened the menu and read through the first few breakfast options. She turned back to the waitress. "However, I think I can sort out the wrong type myself. It's what I do for a living."
Ruby was taken aback, surprise washing over her face.
"I'll keep a look out." She focused her attention back on the menu.
"Okay. I'll be back in a few minutes."
Emma didn't get it. She was the third person to tell her Regina was not who she said she was. First Henry, then Mary Margaret, and now Ruby. It definitely set an alarm off. Regina had been so nice to her, but she had seen her yell at Mary Margaret yesterday and the brief instance of annoyance today. She had certainly overreacted with Mary Margaret, but that was out of worry for finding Henry. And the annoyance in her expression… Well, that was so subtle, it honestly meant nothing to her.
Something wasn't right. That was for sure.
She still trusted Regina, though.
First weekend in Storybrooke. Emma knew it was going to be a good one.
She had arrived in town on a Monday night, and it was already Saturday morning. The time had gone by fast. She was getting used to the charm of the place. She had been accustomed to living in big cities before this, but the small town atmosphere was growing on her.
Emma took one last look at her appearance in the mirror. She brushed off her sweater with her hand and then adjusted the two necklaces hanging around her neck. She paused for a moment, picking up Regina's ring and holding it between her thumb and forefinger.
What was he like? When did they meet? Did he leave Regina alone unexpectedly like Neal had done to her? Or did something happen to him that caused the two to drift apart?
Her heart skipped a beat.
He hadn't died, had he?
She hoped that wasn't the reason for their relationship coming to an end.
Emma traced her thumb along the inside of the ring.
How long had Regina worn it? Had they had plans to get married? Had they been married?
She could imagine the day Regina had received the ring from him, the tremendous joy she had been feeling the minute it was placed on her finger. And suddenly, she began to slip the ring on to her ring finger, the thought of Regina being so happy drawing her to put it on. She was met with an instant warmth inside her. Dare she say it, but it felt like magic was traveling through her body, Regina's emotions of the so called memory resonating with her. That was, if magic somehow existed and that was what magic was supposed to feel like.
It lasted only a few seconds, but there was no mistaking what she had felt as soon as she had the ring on. The sensation was invigorating, and it brought upon a greater closeness and connectedness to Regina, seemingly strengthening the bond between her and the brunette in a way that she couldn't explain. Emma could only comprehend it as yet another sign that her settling down in Storybrooke was what she was meant to do.
She slipped the ring off her finger and let it fall back to her chest. She realigned Regina's necklace with her own and then smiled up at her reflection.
Meant to do.
She really didn't need any more signs.
One week, and she just knew. Just like how she felt so sure that being with Regina felt right.
This is my home. I just know that belong here.
Emma glanced over at her iPhone when she heard it buzz.
1:42pm – Regina Mills: Just left the house. We'll see you soon :)
1:44pm – Emma Swan: Can't wait :) See you two there!
Emma pocketed her phone, grabbed her room key and car keys, and made her way downstairs. She caught Ruby's eyes as she walked around the front of the diner to her car. Despite their tense exchange a few days ago, Ruby hadn't given her too much trouble about Regina since then. She had kept her distance the last couple of times she had eaten at the diner, and Regina reported she had appeared less interested in her order when she got her coffee in the mornings. It was almost as if Ruby had moved on, suddenly distracted by something of much more importance to her.
A pickup truck pulled up outside the diner, and Ruby immediately turned her attention to the guy getting out of the vehicle. She started to twirl her hair around her finger.
Emma grinned at the scene and jumped into her car.
That would be the source of Ruby's distraction. And at the moment, she was thankful for it.
She started up the VW, turned the radio on low, and drove away. She hummed along to the music as she thought about the upcoming day she was about to spend with Regina and Henry at Storybrooke's Annual Pumpkin Weekend.
When she had suggested she go with Regina to the festival on her first morning in town, she had merely been joking around with her. She wasn't even sure that Regina was going herself, and she thought Henry may have already made plans to go with some of the kids from his class. Of course, that was before she found out that Henry was a bit of a loner. In the end, she figured she wouldn't ask, since neither Regina nor Henry had mentioned anything about the event. That was, until Thursday night came around.
Mary Margaret was the first person to encourage her to attend. She spotted her that night outside of Granny's as she looked at a flyer for the Pumpkin Weekend.
She looked to the right and saw the teacher standing by her side. "Mary Margaret. It's good to see you again."
"You as well."
Emma turned to face her. "How's Henry been at school?"
"Great. He's been participating quite a bit more in class these last two days than he's normally done in the past. He seems much happier, actually. I think it's because of you being here, Emma."
She smiled at her words.
"Speaking of Henry…" Mary Margaret nodded towards the flyer. "You should go with him."
"I'm sure he already has plans."
"With Regina, maybe. But she has taken him every year. You should get to take him this time."
"I don't know."
"Henry is your son, too. I think it wouldn't be very fair of her to say no."
"Yeah, I guess you're right."
"Besides. It seems like Regina is a little more willing to listen to you than most. At least, that's what I noticed on the day you two were looking for Henry. But maybe she's caused you trouble since?"
"No. Not at all. I'll try asking her."
"If it doesn't work out, you can always join me. I'll be working one of the booths with a few of the other elementary school teachers. Probably won't be as fun as it would be with Henry, but you can at least experience one of our festivals here."
"Thanks, Mary Margaret. I'll let you know."
Unlike what Emma had led Mary Margaret to believe, she knew Regina wouldn't mind if she came along with her and Henry to the festival. When she arrived back in her room that evening, she didn't have to bother calling Regina. She beat her to it.
"I was just going to call you."
"Were you now?"
"Uh-huh. And I think I know what you're going to ask me."
"And what's that?"
"You'd like me to join you and Henry at the festival this weekend."
"Yes. That's exactly what I was going to ask about." Regina was quiet for a moment. "So, would you like to go on Saturday?"
"Spending a Saturday with both my girlfriend and our son? I couldn't think of a better thing to do."
Regina told her Henry had mentioned wanting her to come with at dinner and that he would be asking her when she picked him up after school the next day. Henry was practically jumping for joy when Emma told him yes, and he listed off all of the fun things they would be doing as she walked home with him. During their conversation, he never said anything about his book of fairytales, and more importantly, he never spoke negatively of Regina. Emma had only been in Storybrooke for a few days, and she was already seeing a change in Henry's perception of his mother. Give it a few more weeks, and maybe he would let go of the idea of Regina being some evil queen.
Emma spotted the familiar Mercedes and pulled into the empty parking space next to it. She wasn't exactly surprised to find that no one had parked on either side of her. She figured none of the townspeople wanted to risk any damage to her car because of a bad parking job, and based on what she had heard from others in the last few days, getting on the mayor's bad side was the last thing you wanted to do.
She got out of her car and started to walk over to the park where the festival was being held. She glanced at both the VW and Mercedes. Her car was well within the lines, and there was enough space in between the two that even with her passenger's side door open all the way, it would never touch the Mercedes. Of course, Regina had helped a bit with that. Her right car tires were slightly over the line dividing her parking spot and the one next to hers.
She chuckled at the sight and snapped a picture of it with her phone.
The perks of being the mayor's girlfriend.
I get to park next to her without too much worry, and I can tease her about her parking job.
She saw the two waiting patiently for her by the entrance to the festival, and Henry was in the middle of talking to Regina. She noticed her arrival first and nodded over to her. Henry turned around immediately and called out joyfully, "Emma!"
"Hey, Henry." Emma smiled at him and then looked at Regina. "Hi, Regina."
"Hello, Miss Swan." Regina reached into her coat pocket, pulled out some money, and handed it to Henry. "Why don't you go ahead and buy tickets for the carnival games?"
"Okay." He took the money from her and sprinted away.
Emma watched him as he left and took a few steps closer to Regina when he was far enough away. The brunette eyed her and flashed one of her beautiful smiles as she said sweetly, "Good afternoon, Emma."
"Good afternoon, Regina."
"Sorry about all of the formality."
"It's okay. I understand. We're working towards an open relationship."
"We can enjoy the Miner's Day Festival in February together." She added with a grin, "That's our other big event in Storybrooke."
"Sounds like a plan."
Regina looked down at the ground, her smile growing wider. Emma found herself beaming as well, especially with hearing the brunette be so open about a future together. Over the last few days, she had come to realize that with Regina, she could embrace the idea of a future. She was looking forward to what was to come, particularly all of the moments she would get to spend with both her and Henry.
Her hand fell to her pocket, and she remembered the picture she took only a few minutes ago. She pulled out her phone.
"So… I see why no one parks next to you."
"Hm?" She turned her gaze towards the parking lot.
"Unless you were leaving room for me so we could share a parking space? It wouldn't be the first thing we shared."
Regina looked back at her, and Emma was amused by her perplexed expression.
"You took up two spaces."
"I did not."
She quickly scrolled to the end of her photos and chose the picture of the Mercedes. She held up the phone to Regina.
"That is barely over the line."
Regina pushed the phone away. "And I'd like to see your parking job."
"Perfectly in the lines."
"We'll see if that's the case every time."
Emma placed her phone back in her pocket and looked across the park to where Henry was standing in line. There were still quite a few others ahead of him. Most were kids around his age, but there was also a small group of teenagers who appeared to all be friends and a family with their twin daughters at the front of the line. She guessed them to be around six years old. After they received their tickets, the two parents walked away holding hands and smiled as the two girls pointed excitedly at the carnival games they wanted to play first.
She was reminded of a home once again, about the home she never had growing up, about the one she had always wanted, and about the one she could be taking strides towards with Henry and Regina.
She glanced at the woman standing next to her and then at the son they were so lucky to have in their lives.
Home. A place with the people you can call family.
Me, Regina, and Henry.
A sudden thought came to her. Would Regina and Henry enjoy going on a trip with her sometime?
"Ever been to Boston before?"
Regina shook her head. "No. I don't have much time to travel outside town with the job."
"Think you'd have a weekend open sometime? Better yet, maybe we could do a trip with Henry? I bet he'd love it."
"I'm sure he would. As would I. I'm sure I can manage to find a weekend that would work."
Henry had almost made it to the front of the line now, and he was waiting behind two others to purchase his tickets. "When we tell him about us, of course."
"Yeah. When we tell him."
As much as Regina seemed to welcome the idea of a trip together, Emma noticed a slight change in demeanor as she mentioned revealing their relationship to Henry. She figured Regina was still worried about how he would react to them being together, especially with him holding on so tightly to his belief that the fairytales in his book were true. If today went well, and the three of them spent more time together later on, Emma really felt that things would change. He did believe in happy endings, after all. Despite what Henry assumed Regina to have done in her past, she bet all the kid really wanted for both of his mothers was to be happy. And if that was for her and Regina to be together, then she knew he wouldn't want to take that happiness away from them.
Once Henry had his tickets, he hurried back over to them. "So… What should we do first?"
Emma and Regina exchanged a quick glance, and when Regina didn't say anything, she looked back to Henry and said, "Whatever you'd like, kid."
He nodded in the direction of the games, and they followed him. Emma remembered the list of things he had mentioned wanting to do at the festival from their walk home the previous day, which included nearly all of the carnival games there. Emma didn't stay as a passive observer for long, and being a child at heart, she went to buy tickets for herself so she could face off against him. Even though Regina didn't join in on the games, she was completely entertained by the competition going on between her and Henry. She heard her laugh several times, and she knew it was because Henry was kicking her ass at most of the games they played. She had attended numerous festivals like this one when she was a kid and used to be pretty skilled at these kinds of games, but it was evident she had lost her touch over the years.
"I was much better at these games when I was younger," she told Regina as Henry took off running for another booth.
"Sure about that? Or are you just upset that a ten year old is beating you?"
"That sounds like such a convincing no, dear."
Emma shrugged it off and abruptly changed the subject. "So… I have yet to see a 'Bobbing for Apples' booth."
"You love apples. I was sure that booth would be a staple for the festival. In honor of the mayor's love for apples, of course."
Regina laughed. "Sorry to disappoint, but you won't find that particular booth. I can put in a request for you for next year, if you'd like me to."
Emma threw out her hands in front of her in exaggeration. "Well, duh. That's like my favorite, obviously."
The brunette laughed again and then nodded to Henry. "Go on. You have another game to lose."
She frowned and said quietly, "Such a supportive girlfriend."
"I'm just being realistic based on what I've seen. But if it makes you feel better, I'll wish you good luck."
"Mmhm. Watch me win."
Henry had settled on playing Balloon Dart Toss, and this time, neither of them were having any luck. Emma was on her fourth dart, and when she threw the dart at the balloon she was aiming for, it hit the balloon but failed to pop it once again.
"Come on!" she yelled in frustration. "That totally should have popped."
A giggle sounded next to her, and she caught a glimpse of Regina smirking at her. She turned to face her, holding out the last dart to her. Regina looked at her hand warily.
"I don't do carnival games."
I'm not going to let her get away with it that easy.
She continued to pout, but before Regina could protest any further, Henry spoke up.
"Try it, Mom!"
Regina looked from her to Henry, who was standing behind her and couldn't see that she was now giving the brunette her best puppy dog face.
"I'm sure I'm not any good."
"You won't know if you don't try. But I bet you can do it. I believe in you."
Slowly, the frown on Emma's face disappeared as Henry's words rang in her mind. I believe in you. His tone had been completely genuine, his response heartfelt and honest. Hearing those words was exactly what Regina needed, to know her son believed in her ability to try and be successful. Emma knew he wasn't simply talking about the game they were playing. His message stretched far beyond that.
Regina's eyes connected with hers, and she could read how much his words had impacted her, the overwhelming emotions brought on by that sentence clear in those brown depths. Emma gave her an encouraging smile and then mouthed the words, "I believe in you, too," before extending her hand out further to her. Regina took the dart without hesitation, and she turned to face the booth, taking a few steps forward to get a closer look of her targets. It didn't take her long to choose a balloon to aim at, and she held up her hand, getting ready to throw.
Emma held her breath as she waited.
You can do this, Regina. You can do this.
She threw the dart forward, and nearly seconds later, a satisfying pop sounded in the air as the red balloon she hit burst into pieces at the dart's impact. Henry jumped up at the victory.
"You did it! I knew you could!"
Regina glanced down at her hand and said softly, "I did."
"Not any good, huh?"
She looked over to her as soon as she asked the question, a mixture of disbelief and confusion present in her expression. And that was when Emma knew something more than merely popping a balloon had happened in that moment. It was as if she had experienced something she couldn't put to words in the seconds that it took for the dart to leave her hand and pop the balloon. It mirrored her experience that morning, when those rush of immense feelings had flowed through her body the minute she placed Regina's ring on her finger. The one experience she wanted to equate with magic because it was quite unlike anything she had encountered in her life.
Regina stumbled with her words when she finally responded. "I, uh… I guess I doubted my own abilities."
Henry had a wide grin on his face. "So, Mom… Wanna give it another go?"
Regina snapped out of her reverie and smiled down at him. "Why not?"
He handed her his two remaining darts, and with each one she threw, it was a perfect hit. Henry was completely ecstatic by the whole thing while Regina still seemed somewhat bewildered by her stroke of luck with the game. After a trip to Regina's car to drop off the prize Henry had picked out from the game, they decided to get food. Henry spotted a food stand he wanted to order from and made his way over to the line. Emma stayed back with Regina for a moment before following him.
"You're a good shot, I see."
"I really have no idea how any of that happened back there."
"I think I may know."
Regina tilted her head slightly at the comment.
"You believed in yourself, Regina. Just like I believe in you." She rested her hand on her shoulder. "And just like Henry believes in you."
She smiled at her.
Emma took her hand away and nodded towards Henry. "Now, let's go eat. I'm starving."
"How did I know you would say that?"
"What can I say? I love food!"
Regina just shook her head at her silliness.
Once they had all gotten their food, they met back together and chose a picnic table to sit at. They sat in silence for a while, neither of them used to the idea of eating a meal together. Emma and Regina made sure to sit on opposite sides, and Henry gravitated to her, taking a seat on her side rather than sitting next to Regina. This bothered Emma a bit, but based on what she had seen so far today, she knew Henry was slowly rekindling his relationship with his mother.
"So, after we finish, can we go pick out our pumpkin?"
Regina glanced at her, and she gave a small nod. "Sure thing, Henry."
"It's a tradition. Every year, we pick out a pumpkin and then carve it together."
"Henry does most of the artwork now. He's much more creative than me."
He shrugged it off as he took another bite of his hotdog.
Emma thought it was great that the two had annual holiday traditions to look forward to, and she was especially thankful Henry had the opportunity to experience something she had so little of in her own life. "That sounds like a lot of fun, you two."
"You can help us this year!" he exclaimed suddenly, before turning to Regina and giving her what resembled the pleading expression she had given her earlier during the Balloon Dart Toss game. That, she knew, he had gotten from her. Oh, when he knows about our relationship and we both try to use those puppy dog eyes on her… We're going to be unstoppable! "Is that okay, Mom?"
She took a minute before answering, as if to consider whether this was a good idea or not, but Emma knew she wouldn't mind the company at all. "It's okay with me."
"Awesome! Thanks, Mom!"
"Thank you, Regina."
She nodded to both of them.
Well, Emma now had plans for Sunday. It had been too long since she'd spent the weekend doing something that didn't involve tracking down a person on the run. She could definitely get used to this.
I could use a change in jobs. I wonder… What could I do here?
As she went to throw away her things, she ran into Mary Margaret. The teacher nodded behind her. "So I see Regina let you come along?"
"Yeah. She did. I'm glad, too. I'm really enjoying spending time with Henry."
"That's great to hear. Seems like Regina is warming up to you."
Emma cast a quick glance behind her shoulder to the two of them and then looked back at Mary Margaret. She couldn't keep the hesitancy out of her voice as she responded. "It does."
"That's a good thing, though. Regina is a rather private person. I've always wondered if opening up to someone, or having one good friend she can talk to, would… I don't know… Maybe change her a bit? Make her more sociable?"
Crap! Are we making things too obvious because we're being nice to each other? Maybe I shouldn't have rested my hand on her shoulder back there… Okay. I highly doubt she saw that. She just thinks Regina is being more friendly towards me than most. She isn't suspecting a romance. But she is sure too damn observant for her own good.
Mary Margaret was laughing at herself now. "Wow. I make it sound like she's a brick wall. She can certainly talk, it's just… The words that come out of her mouth don't really make anyone want to befriend her. They'd rather run in the opposite direction…" She paused and shook her head. "I should really stop talking now. I apologize for the rambling."
Emma was still slightly fazed by her own thoughts and only heard half of what she'd said. Something about brick walls and running in the opposite direction? Was she trying to make an overarching metaphor that was supposed to be an impactful message about hope? The teacher did seem to cling on to that idea... "Oh, um, it's okay. You, uh, think Regina and I are friends?"
Mary Margaret looked relieved by the question. "Well, maybe not yet. But Henry will bring you two together at some point, whether she likes it or not. And maybe she'll begin to see you as more of a friend then."
Mary Margaret started to wave, and Emma glanced behind her shoulder again. Henry had noticed her and was waving at her. Regina gave a small wave, but she quickly focused her attention elsewhere.
"Well, I don't want to keep you three. Plus, I have a booth to run. Don't want the other teachers to think I left them!" She made the motion to walk away, but stopped and turned back to her. "Oh! One more thing. I suggest taking Henry on the Ferris Wheel. The view you can see of the town is incredible from the top. Not only that, but Henry always has to get someone else to go with him. Regina won't go on it."
This surprised Emma. "She won't?"
"No. There were a few times I took him, and he told me about it." Even though Regina was out of earshot, she lowered her voice anyway, as if she thought the wind would carry her words all the way to her. "Regina is afraid of heights, but don't tell her I told you that."
Emma lowered her voice as well. She tried to bite back the smirk at Mary Margaret's ridiculous behavior, afraid she may offend her, but she just couldn't. She was lucky she hadn't let herself laugh. "Don't worry. Secret's safe with me."
There were no signs of sudden irritation brought upon by the smirk in her expression, and she merely nodded in response. "I also wouldn't miss the hayride. That's always fun, too."
"Okay. I'll keep that in mind."
"I'll see you around, Emma."
As Emma went back to join Regina and Henry, she couldn't stop thinking about what Mary Margaret had revealed to her. The idea of being so far off the ground had terrified her so much that she couldn't even get on a Ferris Wheel for her son. Emma wasn't going to poke fun at her for that. She knew that her fear must have been linked to some traumatic experience, and it pained her to think of what it could be.
She was distracted by the thought as she helped Henry in choosing his pumpkin. Her and Regina volunteered a couple of options, but the kid seemed to have very high expectations for this pumpkin. He knew when he found the perfect one. He called them over, and Emma had to admit, it was the best of all the ones they had considered. It also looked somewhat heavy. She didn't want to discredit Regina's fitness, but she knew she had more of the arm strength to carry that thing back to her car. She quickly picked it up before Regina could even think about taking it.
"You don't have to do that…"
"It's no big deal. I've got it."
By the time they got back to her car, her muscles were aching. But she was sure the hell glad she had taken it for Regina. She practically threw it down on the seat (gently of course—Regina would have certainly gotten pissed off at her had she accidentally smashed the thing and gotten the remains all over the backseat of her car). When neither of the two were looking, she rubbed her arms.
Damn. I need to hit the gym more. And not just because that pumpkin gave me trouble.
She glanced at Regina's backside as she followed her and Henry. A sudden warmth traveled through her.
I've got all of the motivation I need walking right in front of me.
Emma heard Henry call over his shoulder to her about wanting to get ice cream. She looked up at him and caught Regina smirking at her. The brunette knew what her response would be.
"You gonna get some too, Emma?"
"You don't have to ask me twice, kid. Race ya there!"
He took off running, and she hurried after him. Regina just shook her head and waited for them to return.
There's my exercise for the day!
After getting their ice cream, they found another picnic table to sit at and talked some more. It was nearly nightfall now, and after spending most of the day with each other, their conversation came with much more ease than it had earlier. But once they began to walk around the park for some time and approached nearer to the Ferris Wheel, Regina's comments became less and less, and Emma knew she was anticipating what was to come.
Henry stopped and turned to her. "Want to go on the Ferris Wheel with me, Emma?"
"I'd love to!"
He smiled. "Great!"
Emma glanced to her side. Regina had certainly frozen up at the suggestion, her face paling at the thought of having to get on the ride. She stared blankly in front of her, and Emma wondered if she reliving the haunting memory that brought on her fear of heights in that moment. She looked back at Henry. "How about you head over to the line and I'll join you in a few?"
He simply nodded and started his trek towards the Ferris Wheel. When he was far enough away, she turned to Regina. She wasn't going to force her to join, nor was she going to make her confess to her fears, but she didn't want to completely give away that she knew the real reason for her sudden change in demeanor. "I'm sure Henry meant for you to come with, too."
Regina shrugged it off as casually as she could and nervously shoved her hands in her coat pockets. "That's okay. I'll just wait for you two."
"Are you sure? I don't want you to miss out."
"Don't worry about it. I haven't missed out on a thing today." She smiled at her, and some of the color returned to her face. "Go have some fun with Henry."
"Okay. We'll see you after the ride then."
When they settled down onto the ride, Henry commented on his mother's absence. "My mom's afraid of heights."
Emma feigned her surprise. "Oh."
"It's okay, though. I remember when I was really afraid of the dark. Mom never forced me to sleep without some type of light on at night. Actually, she got me this really cool nightlight that shines stars up on the ceiling. I loved it so much. I still even use it now sometimes."
She smiled at his story.
"I don't force her to go on the Ferris Wheel with me. I figure when she's ready, she'll join me. Just like one day, I won't need to have the nightlight at all anymore."
"That's really considerate of you, Henry."
He shrugged it off, not sure of how to respond to her statement. As soon as the ride began, he changed the topic right away, pointing out all the buildings they could see from the top and giving her a brief history of the town. And as she listened to him, she kept thinking about how lucky she was for Regina to have adopted her son. Sure, he was a little too attached to his book of fairytales and was distancing himself from his mother because of it, but he was going through a phase just like any kid his age. Deep down, he had a big heart. And that wasn't a trait he had somehow inherited from her. That was all Regina.
You raised a damn good kid, Regina. I'm glad he has you to call his mother.
She remembered the fall. The mixed feelings she had during the course of it all. First was the relief that came with letting go, with finally being free from a life that had been chosen for her, not by her. It was quickly replaced by an overwhelming dread, regret filling her mind as the reality kicked in of what she had done. Because she could have pushed through. Given it just a little more time, and maybe, just maybe, her life could have gotten better. If even only slightly.
But how could she have changed her mindset before taking that plunge? She was at the lowest point in her life, more miserable than she had been after Daniel had passed. His death had broken her to pieces, but she had been able to move forward because of him. Her love for him kept the little hope she had left inside of her alive. But after years of being locked up in that castle, always being put on the sidelines, her voice never being heard… She'd lost hope in hope itself. She was queen, but she was nothing. Her sense of self had slipped away, the true Regina making less and less of an appearance as each day passed by. And no one cared to pay attention. Not the king, not Snow, not her mother. Even her father seemed to miss it.
So the thoughts came. Of ending it all.
The words she had written in her journal the night of the fall expressed her willingness to be done.
Here I ask myself, 'Would it really matter if I was gone'? when I already know the answer to that question. I am already gone. If I removed myself from this silly game I continue to play day in and day out, what difference would it make? I owe no piece to the structure. The kingdom wouldn't crumble because I was missing. No love would be lost, because there was none.
The doubts of ever having a chance at a happy ending had clouded her mind even then.
To say I'll ever be happy, or even come close to that perfect fairytale ending, is farfetched. I think some people just don't get a chance at happiness, and it's likely that I am one of those people. So why should I push for something that I'm just not meant to have? It's not worth the fight when the ending is inevitable.
So she approached that balcony in her room. Eyed the grounds below her. Imagined what it would be like if she went through with it. And finally, it would just all be over. There would be no more unhappiness, no more insufferable pain, no more feeling so very alone in a world she didn't belong to. And that was enough for her to take the step. She gripped tightly on to the surrounding railing, leaned forward slightly, and breathed in the evening air. And then she started to push on to the railing with her hands, lightly at first, but more forcefully as all of the emotions came rushing through her. She just kept inching, more and more over that damn railing, until it happened. The railing went first, and then she let herself go.
She had later denied to her rescuer that she had chosen to jump. She'd said it was an accident. That once the railing broke, she had lost her balance and fell forward.
But of course it was no accident. She wanted to end her life, and she had made the decision to go through with it that night.
She was lucky to have gotten a second chance.
She never let herself feel that way again. She would force those emotions away, resorting to anger and revenge to hide her vulnerabilities. There were still times when she woke up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, memories of falling haunting her dreams. There were still times when that pain came back to her and she'd break down the minute she was alone. And the fear her mother had sworn to rid her of as a little girl resurfaced with a more tremendous strength over her mind than ever before. She couldn't handle being high up in the air. She wouldn't dare go near a ledge where she could peer over and see the grounds below her. Even in the days that she had been living in exile in that insipid castle, she kept a meaningful distance from the balcony in that room. They were all triggers. For her, height meant falling, and falling equated itself with death. Voluntary or not.
There was more to her fear than that night, but she was trying to keep those memories away. That fall was enough, and she could feel herself shaking, the world around her beginning to spin. Sure, most would think it ridiculous that a Ferris Wheel would trigger her panic. But being at the highest point of the ride for just those few seconds and seeing the town below her, even the mere thought of it, reminded her of falling. And then she would have to deal with that the number of times the thing went around. She couldn't forget the possibility of the ride malfunctioning, and being stuck at the top until they could get her down…
She turned away from the Ferris Wheel and hurried to the nearest tree, leaning against it immediately and hugging her arms tightly around her stomach. She tried to steady her breathing, fighting the urge to get sick.
Stop thinking of falling. Stop.
Think of today. Of how much fun you've had with Emma and Henry.
Emma and Henry. Just think of them.
She closed her eyes and pictured them, their smiling faces filling her mind and bringing an instant ease over her body.
There. That's it. You're okay. You're okay.
She opened her eyes again after a few minutes had passed, but she didn't once lock her gaze on that damn ride. She glanced around her, and she was grateful that no one seemed to have noticed her brief moment of panic. She pulled her coat closer around her and walked away from the tree, eyeing an empty picnic table to sit at. A voice stopped her in her tracks, and she turned around to see the pawnbroker standing a few feet away from her, leaning on to his cane for support.
Great. What the hell does he want?
"Madam Mayor. Enjoying the festival, are we?"
"I suppose I am. How about you, Mr. Gold?"
"I would say I'm finding it quite entertaining."
Regina swallowed hard. His response made her apprehensive, and not because he may have witnessed her breakdown minutes ago. She already knew there were townspeople who had learned of her fear of heights, one of those people being Mary Margaret, as she had taken Henry on the Ferris Wheel in the past. No, Gold was here for something else. Something else that she feared had to do with Emma.
He nodded in the direction of the Ferris Wheel. "I see the boy's birth mother has joined you two."
She answered a little too quickly at his observation. Way to sound defensive, Regina. "Henry invited her."
"And you allowed her to come along anyway?"
"Well, I can't keep Henry away from her all of the time. Especially since it seems she's decided to stay longer than I'd originally expected."
"Perhaps you should have come to me. If Miss Swan is a problem you can't fix, I'm only too happy to help. For a price, of course."
Regardless of whether or not Emma had been a problem she wanted to rid herself of, she would never go back to him for deals. She'd had enough of that during her reign as the Evil Queen.
"I'm not in the business of making deals with you anymore."
"To which deal are you referring?"
Oh, don't play dumb with me, Gold. "You know what deal."
"Oh, right. Yeah. The boy I procured for you. Henry. Ever tell you what a lovely name that was? However did you pick it?"
She named Henry after her father. To honor him for always looking out for her. For supporting her in everything she did, even when her intentions were bad. For seeing her simply as Regina, his daughter, and never as the Evil Queen. Her reasons for using Daniel's name as Henry's middle name were similar. She loved both of them very much, and she knew she would love the child just as much.
The question Gold asked, though… He knew something more. Or at least discovered something was not right about Storybrooke. She always had her suspicions. Gold was tricky… Both here and in the Enchanted Forest.
Regina let her eyes linger past Gold, just so she could see Emma and Henry walking towards them in her line of sight and not the Ferris Wheel. Emma caught her glance and frowned at Gold's presence. The blonde was certainly a good judge of character, and she had told her there was something about him she didn't trust. If only she knew.
"Look, Mr. Gold. I assure you, everything is taken care of. I don't need your help."
"You let me know if that changes."
There was a glint in his eyes. There was no mistaking it. And that was when Regina knew for sure. Of all the damn people…
He had to have known about her relationship with Emma before the festival and figured they would come together. He was using the festival to gather more evidence to confirm what he had already found out, and she bet that he had been following them all day, stealthily blending in the background and only inconveniencing her now with the offer of a deal in the mix to rattle her.
Some things never changed with him.
Regina tried to keep her even composure as her mind began to fill with worry.
How the hell had he found out? And when? Emma has been here for a week. A week, and the damn imp already knew!
Emma and Henry came over to her side, and Emma folded her arms across her chest as he greeted the two.
"Hello, Henry. Hello, Miss Swan."
"Hi," the blonde replied. Henry remained quiet, glancing warily at him.
"Enjoy the rest of the festival, all of you."
Gold nodded to them and turned around. Emma continued to stare at him as he walked away, a disgruntled look on her face. She immediately brightened up when Henry began to talk.
"So… Wanna go on the hayride now?"
Regina felt herself ease up, and she smiled at his suggestion. "Already? Even though you just got off the Ferris Wheel?"
"I suppose if Miss Swan is okay with it, then we can."
Henry looked back at Emma.
"Well, what are we waiting for? Let's go!"
As she walked with Emma and Henry to the hayride and listened to their conversation, it really hit her. This was what she had almost thrown away all those years ago. She would have never had the chance to be a mother, to have a son she loved so dearly, to have someone to share that life with, to fall for someone again like she had with Daniel…
They took their seats on the hayride, Henry sitting in the middle of them. Emma glanced over at her and gave her a small smile.
This is it. I just know it.
It had taken years, but that happy ending she once never thought she could have, it was within reach this time. And she wouldn't let this one get away.
"Let's take a picture," Emma said suddenly, pulling out her iPhone. "So we can remember this day."
"Yeah!" Henry exclaimed.
"I think it's a great idea."
"Okay." She held up the phone in front of them. "Get close together everyone. I don't want to cut anyone out of the picture."
They moved closer, and Emma got ready to take the picture.
Regina rolled her eyes at Emma's silly comment.
"Okay, I saw that Regina."
"Cheeeese," she said sarcastically.
"That's more like it. On three. One, two, three…"
Despite how ridiculous they sounded, they all said "cheese" and gave their best smiles for the camera. They looked through the pictures Emma had taken afterward, most of which had turned out nice.
"Now for the funny pictures?"
"You read my mind, kid."
Emma and Henry looked expectantly at her.
"I suppose I'll contribute to a few of those."
More photos for my album later. Ones to commemorate a new chapter of my life. Of our lives.
And she would have videos now, too. Henry moved from picture taking to video recording, filming the scenery around him and narrating their trip around the park. He was quite the storyteller. Maybe he would be a writer one day?
After the ride was over, they started to make their way back to their cars. Henry made no protests, and Regina noticed him dragging his feet a bit on the walk back. It was already an hour past his bedtime, and she knew from previous years that the hayride was always the last thing they did. When he was younger, he would nearly be asleep by the end of the ride, his head resting against her shoulder and his eyes closed. He would still try to deny he was tired as they left the festival, and then minutes later, he would be passed out in the backseat of the car.
Emma had to point out her parking job when they stopped in front of the Mercedes. So she was a tad over the line. Big deal. She couldn't wait to catch her off guard.
Just like she was about to do now.
When Henry had his back turned to them, she elbowed Emma in the side. The blonde stumbled and pouted at her in response.
Regina mouthed at her, "All good fun, right?".
Emma put her hand to her side and mumbled, "Uh-huh."
Henry was completely oblivious to what had just happened when he turned back around. "Goodnight, Emma! I'm glad you came."
"Me too. I'll see you tomorrow, okay?"
Regina unlocked the car for him, and he climbed into the backseat. When she heard the car door close shut, she turned to Emma. "I'm glad you came, too. I think we can all agree we had fun today."
The blonde nodded.
"And thank you for earlier. For not questioning why I didn't go with you two on the Ferris Wheel. I'm sure Henry told you why, though."
"He did. And don't worry, Regina. I would never have forced you to go. I understand that whatever the reason is for your fear of heights, it must have been traumatic."
Regina clutched her hands together, as if that would keep the memories away. "Yeah. I don't really want to talk about it."
"You don't have to. But if you ever do want to talk about it, just know I'll listen."
"Henry understands, too. If you didn't know. He compared it to how sleeping at night in the dark still scares him a bit. He said one day, when both of you are ready, you'll find it in yourselves to embrace those fears."
"You raised a good kid, Regina. He's more understanding than most his age, and he loves with a big heart. That's why I think he'll come around with all this fairytale stuff. Look at today. He didn't say anything hurtful to you."
"No, he didn't. He told me he believed in me."
That moment was a stepping stone. They may have been playing a carnival game, but hearing him say those words was comforting. If he believed in her now, surely he would believe in her to change after the curse broke, despite her villainous past?
Only time would tell.
"Tomorrow for carving pumpkins, then?"
Regina hadn't forgotten what Emma had said after reading about the Pumpkin Weekend in the newspaper her first day here. "You wouldn't rather smash it to pieces?"
It took a few seconds for her to realize what she was referring to. She smirked. "Not this time." She put her hands her in jean pockets, then took a few steps backward towards her car. Regina knew if they could, they would give each other a goodnight's kiss before going their separate ways. But they were working towards that, and she could be patient.
They both got into their respective cars. Regina looked to her left when she started up the Mercedes, and Emma waved her on, signaling to her to go first. She nodded, backed out of the space, and drove away. She glanced at Henry through the rearview mirror, catching him in the middle of a yawn.
Not asleep yet.
"Thanks for letting Emma join us. Today and tomorrow."
"Of course." She was quiet for a moment. "Henry, you can spend time with her. She is your birth mother, after all. I know you want to get to know her."
"Yes. As long as it's okay with her, and you let me know when you are with her, I will allow you to see her."
Henry hadn't fallen asleep by the time they got home. She expected he would run inside the house when she turned the car off and hurry up to bed, but he surprised her. He came around the side of the car and waited for her as she went to get their pumpkin.
"I'll help you, Mom."
"Thank you, Henry."
Together, they carried the pumpkin into the kitchen and placed it on the table.
"Do you know what you'd like to carve on the pumpkin this year?"
"I have a couple ideas. I'm not sure what to pick yet. But you and Emma should carve something on it, too. We'll have a collage of art then. What do you think?"
"I think that's a wonderful idea, dear."
And to think, at one point in my life I was absolutely terrified of Emma's return. That she would destroy my life and take Henry away from me in the process. All she's done is make my life better.
It was only a beginning, and there were going to bumps in the road as they moved further with their relationship, the biggest obstacle being the curse. But she was determined to make things right, and if she did, she might just have the happy ending she'd spent her whole life wishing for.
She headed to her own room after putting Henry to bed, exhaustion hitting her suddenly. She fell on to her bed and reminisced over the day's events. One detail stuck out to her, something that had left her bewildered and nearly speechless after it happened.
The carnival game. When she took that dart from Emma, she felt it. Magic. It was back in those moments she was playing the game. She would have never been a perfect shot without it. And she wasn't even sure it was her magic. It may have been Emma's, as if the blonde had transferred that magic to her. She already knew that Emma had magic. She had discovered that her first night here, after they had shared their first kiss.
She didn't know what to make of it. But it felt right. She was going to hold on to that, especially when things got tough for them in the future.
Her phone buzzed, and she smiled.
Who could that possibly be, I wonder?
10:15pm – Emma Swan: Some of the pictures. I thought you might want to make one of them your background on your phone.
She scrolled through the pictures she had taken from the hayride and chose one. It had been a long time since she had changed her background, and she more often than not defaulted to the backgrounds that came with the phone.
10:20pm – Regina Mills: Thank you :) I just did.
10:22pm – Emma Swan: Which one?
10:23pm – Regina Mills: The last one. Where we were all making a funny face.
10:24pm – Emma Swan: Me too! And you said you didn't like taking funny pictures.
10:26pm – Regina Mills: I never said that.
10:27pm – Emma Swan: Okay. You strongly implied it. 'I suppose I'll contribute to a few of those.'
10:30pm – Regina Mills: Well, I guess I've developed a new liking for it after tonight.
There was a break in their conversation, and she decided to get settled for bed as she waited to for Emma to text back. Maybe she would pull a Henry. Fall asleep in the middle of texting her. She'd love to poke fun at her for that as payback for making fun of her parking job. If it didn't happen tonight, she bet it would another night.
10:37pm – Emma Swan: So… Who's saying goodnight first?
Regina laughed at the text.
10:36pm – Regina Mills: Goodnight.
10:37pm – Emma Swan: Wait! I didn't say go yet.
10:38pm – Regina Mills: You snooze you lose. I win.
10:39pm – Emma Swan: But…
10:39pm – Regina Mills: GOODNIGHT.
10:41pm – Emma Swan: :(
10:42pm – Regina Mills: You are such a child, Miss Swan.
10:43pm – Emma Swan: I know. But that's why you like me :)
She definitely had a soft spot for the blonde's humor, no matter how childish it could be sometimes.
10:45pm – Emma Swan: Goodnight, Regina :)
10:46pm – Regina Mills: Goodnight, Emma :)
She placed the phone on her nightstand and rested her head on her pillow.
These were the moments she lived for. Spending time with her son, late night conversations with her girlfriend, taking silly photos…
The simple moments. That was all she needed. And that was all she really ever wanted before her days as the Evil Queen. If she had held on to that, maybe she wouldn't have taken it that far.
But what was in the past was in the past. Like she'd said before, this was a new chapter of her life, a new story where the villain she once was didn't get to make her mark on the pages. This was all her, all Regina, the person she used to be before her life had taken a drastic turn. She had been lost and wandered into darkness to fill the void, clinging on to it so tightly after her first taste with it. Emma had found her, the Savior—no, her savior—and was slowly bringing her back into the light.
Maybe this what her second chance had been for, the many years later that Prince Charming and Snow White's child would walk into her life and sweep her off her feet.
And maybe there was a reason why Emma had a knack for finding people. Maybe she had always been meant to find her. Perhaps being a bail bondsperson wasn't something she merely fell into, but something that she was supposed to do because it would eventually lead her to her.
Maybe it had been fate all along for them to be together. Maybe.
Just a note, I plan for two more parts to this episode rewrite. I'm not sure if the next two parts will be as long as this one, but we'll see!
Leave a review and let me know what you thought :)