AN: I wanted to explore the idea of a secret SQ relationship. Originally started as a prequel to "I wanna hold your hand" but it soon morphed into a magic baby fic and secret SQ relationship. I sort of like this plot a lot more and it offers me more themes to explore. Hope you like it.
Italics is dialogue in the past.
If one were to ask Emma when she fell in love with Regina she couldn't pin point an exact moment. There wasn't one particular moment. It was a series of moments from "welcome back" to "our son" and "my gift to you".
If one were to ask what she loves about Regina, Emma would be quick to say what's not to love? She loves everything about Regina physical and emotional. There's no doubt in Emma's mind that Regina is the hottest woman alive to ever walk this realm or any other realm. Couple that with Regina's dedication to her family and Emma was a goner in no time.
And really how could she not love Regina, when she was the only person not expecting anything in return. She never expected Emma to make the sacrifice to take on the dark one, she never expected Emma to help her with the Snow Queen, she never expected Emma to join Operation Mongoose, she never expected Emma to step in and stop the trigger or fight Zelena. She gave Emma a happy ending knowing she won't gain anything and would in fact lose everything. Regina gave Emma everything she could, everything she had expecting nothing in return. It made Emma feel unique, special, loved even if she didn't realise it until later. Regina was someone who didn't take advantage of her, who didn't look at her as a ticket for more money, or a savior or a hero or a happy ending. Regina was different. Regina was the anchor that kept her sane and at the same time was the wind beneath her wings. Regina didn't expect Emma to be her anything, enemy, ally, friend, lover. Every time their relationship reached a new stage Regina was taken by surprise because she never expected and never demanded anything of Emma. It was never about what Emma could give her and the more Emma thought about it the more she loved Regina. How could Emma not fall in love with Regina? How could she not love Regina when Regina loved her so unconditionally?
And Regina, Regina paid attention. Regina actually cared for Emma's well-being. She was the only one who cared enough about Emma's self-destructive relationship and worked to put an end to it for Emma's sake. Because everyone was buying Emma's lies about I'm happy, I'm in love, and no one took time to see how wrong everything was and how Emma was being destroyed every day a little more. It was as if a parasite attached itself to her and was sucking out of her the light, the goodness, the essence of what made Emma, Emma.
Regina was clever enough to know a direct confrontation would never work. Instead she booked Emma a spot at a conference in Boston. The topic was about abused women and how to deal with situations where the victims don't see it or refuse to get help. Emma didn't see a point to this. They lived in a magical town that was invaded by all sort of things every other week. But the seminar floored Emma. As the speaker described the tell-tale signs of abusive relationships Emma saw herself. By the end of the conference she was shaking barely holding it together. She vaguely remembers an earlier conversation she's had with Regina. "No one told me off for being an idiot" she said "Fine you're being an idiot" came the reply from Regina. Seems like Regina paid attention this time and took action. Emma took some of the pamphlets back to the hotel to read.
She was devastated and so, so lost. So afraid. It was easy to pretend none of this happened. It was easy to blame it all on Regina and make her out the villain when she so clearly wasn't. Regina was throwing her a life line all Emma had to do was grab it. She decided then and there in that hotel room that she will pull through this. She did not survive abusive homes in the foster systems to go headlong into another abusive home.
The first day back she ended it all. She didn't go back to her house. She couldn't. That house wasn't who she was. Instead she took the night shifts and stayed in her car. She didn't dare go back to her parents. She didn't tell them and they didn't notice.
It was again Regina that noticed. A week after the conference Regina invited her for dinner. After dinner and a few drinks later Regina offered Emma a spare room as a "Why don't you stay over tonight? It's too late to drive anyway." Emma accepted it without thinking too much, she missed sleeping in a warm bed.
One night became two nights which then turned into a week. Regina never sent her away and Emma tried to argue that she should go to her own home and "I don't want to overstay my welcome", Regina reassured her she wasn't.
"Henry likes this, I liked having you here this past week as well, and you don't have to go back to your house."
Emma looked down ashamed but then Regina told her "I'm aware that a house can be just as bad as a prison if not worse. Not every house is a home and it's ok to want to be away from it all. Sometimes it's ok to run."
Emma remembers crumbling to the floor and she remembers Regina's arms embracing her and holding her close giving a shoulder to cry on. Regina was offering her a home and Emma couldn't say no. Regina and Henry were where she felt safe to just be herself for the first time in a long time.
Regina was there when she sold that house, and was there for her whenever she needed someone to be her friend. Regina had been her friend for so long. Longer than they've been enemies. Regina was her friend, her family, her co-parent. It wasn't at all a surprise that Emma fell so hard for her.
Emma remembers clearly the moment she realized she's fallen for Regina. It was one sunny afternoon when Emma was patrolling around town. She pulled over and decided to patrol the park to see if everything was in order. There, by the lake, she saw Regina with their son just walking casually, Henry's backpack over one shoulder and they were smiling and laughing. Regina was dressed in a red dress with a black leather jacket on top, everything about her so perfect. Regina was a queen. She saw as Violet approached Henry and the 2 teenagers went away together after a quick goodbye to Regina. Regina watched them go and then looked around the park her eyes landing on Emma. In that moment Emma's world stood still and her heart stopped beating, the world faded into nothing and all noise died down. It was just her and Regina looking at one another. She can't remember who made the first move but they met somewhere in the middle, Regina casually asking her when she will be home and if she wanted anything in particular for dinner. So casual, so domestic and all Emma could do was stare.
From that moment on Emma paid attention to everything Regina. From the way she crinkled her noise when she was reading something all the way to the way she ate popcorn on family movie nights taking small bites even from a single kernel, always leaving the fluffy bit last.
Emma took notice of their morning routine where Regina would prepare breakfast and then serve Emma and Henry a plate of whatever she made that morning, always kissing Henry as she put the plate in front of him. In those moments Emma longed to have Regina give her a kiss. One such morning she stared at the scene, perhaps a bit too long and Regina noticed. As she went to grab her own plate she put her hand on Emma's shoulder and squeezed it a bit and Emma's heart skipped a beat. It soon became a habit for Regina to touch Emma's shoulder on her way to grab her own plate.
Their lunch dates continued even as Regina started to prepare their lunch. Emma would always go and have lunch in the mayor's office, sitting on the couch, eating out of the tupperware Regina put their lunch in. If she ever worked the night shift Regina would bring her a portion that was still warm.
If Emma took time to think about it she would have realised they were a perfect fit. Regina loved to have people to take care of and Emma needed someone to take care of her.
A month after she moved in with Regina and Henry permanently, Emma started the feel really at home. She had her portion of the chores: mown the lawns, vacuum the house, clean the garage. It was all so domestic. Everything Emma craved her entire life. All of it so natural.
One thing that surprised Emma about her relationship with Regina was the lack of fights. Sure Regina still had her sass and Emma her stubbornness, but without even trying they fell into a relationship that took and gave away in equal measure. TV and media conditioned her to believe that the more drama one has in a relationship the better because it means the relationship is not boring. Falling into such a quiet pattern with Regina, however taught Emma that perhaps a healthy relationship is usually void of drama and big fights. She's come to crave and appreciate the quiet her new home with Regina offered her. She loved coming home, help prepare dinner, spend some time with her son and Regina, then some time alone with Regina where they would talk about anything and everything under the sun. It was like being in a cocoon, safe from drama and expectations of happy endings, safe from having to pretend she's someone else, a perfect image to live up to a standard.
She loved how easy it was for Regina to let herself just be around Emma. Emma still remembers that late autumn night when Regina came home late, almost frozen to death, took a shower and dressed in fluffy pyjamas and grabbed a glass of cider trying to warm herself. Emma came in and sat next to her complaining about how she had to walk in the forest to see some new development site for the growing town and now her shoes are ruined and her feet are killing her. Emma just grabbed her legs and started to massage them. Regina tried to protest but soon gave in, overwhelmed at the good sensation of having her feet massaged after such a brutal day.
Yet the more comfortable Emma became the old fears of abandonment popped to the surface. What if Regina found someone she would fall in love with and Emma had to go? What if a week, month or year from now someone from another realm came in and swept Regina off her feet. What would she do? These thoughts started to disturb her so much she felt like crying most days. One night they became particularly vicious so much that Emma felt like she was having a panic attack. She felt like she was suffocating inside so she grabbed her iPod and went for a run. Half way through her rum, either by chance or maybe it was fate, Beyoncé's song 'Single Ladies' started to play.
And Emma stopped running.