Author's Note: The origins of this fic lie in my sudden and spontaneous realization that due to the holiday break, there will be no Christmas episode of Once Upon a Time (which, considering memories of that one Xena episode and multiple House Christmas episodes brought tears to my eyes, is just unacceptable). I have thus decided to write my own. The most important parts of it, anyway. Warning: You might die of overdose of sweetness upon reading this fic, in which case I cannot be held responsible.
English is not my native language and that makes me very sad. Damm.
To See Her Smile
First there was a deep sigh, followed by only a slightly amused chuckle. Before the story is told, both should be explained. You see, a sigh or a chuckle if performed within a time period longer than two seconds wouldn't be half as interesting as when the two are tied somewhat. What connected this particular sigh to that particular chuckle was absurdity. The sigh came to be when she realized she was once again standing at her doorstep with her tail between her legs and would love to say she couldn't quite comprehend what preposterous set of circumstances had brought her here, but that was where the chuckle occurred; rather than being oblivious, she had quite a good idea. In fact, the box in her hands spoke for her clearly.
She shivered when the number on the door started to move and run away from her and blamed it on the cold, even though she had been running around Storybrooke in her jacket during countless merciless blizzards since the beginning of December. Regina stood speechless in the doorway, apparently shocked by the younger woman's boldness – or foolishness – depending entirely on the point of view.
"Who is it?" a boy's voice called out from inside the house, cheerful and full of anticipation.
Regina hesitated for a while and Emma would have sworn the way she was looking at her almost looked kind of, just vaguely, a little as if she were asking for permission, but Emma knew better than to expect Madam Mayor to ever ask her for anything, so she remained silent.
"Just one of those wandering businessmen, sweetie. I'll be right back," Regina called back, never tearing her eyes from the blonde.
"At this hour?" Emma could almost see his head tilt in confusion.
"Stay at the table, Henry."
Her voice was calm but firm and Emma reprimanded herself for not having just rung and left the box at the threshold. "Look," she started quietly so that the boy wouldn't hear, "I don't want to disrupt your holiday peace or anything. I know this isn't where my place is, I just…" she trailed off and her gaze dropped to her waist. Regina's followed and the brunette finally noticed the small present wrapped in red with a golden ribbon on top.
"Could you sneak this under the tree somehow? Please?"
When Regina half-heartedly took the present from her trembling hands, a tiny part of her thought she was going to throw it on the ground and stomp on it repeatedly. Normally, Emma would have forced her to do whatever she wanted her to do – for Henry – but it was Christmas and the last thing she wanted was to start a fight on Christmas. And outside the ring, Emma was a lousy fighter.
"Oh, one more thing," Emma remembered as she watched Regina step back. She reached into her pocket and pulled out another smaller box. "This one's for you," she whispered and it took all of her willpower not to look away – for too long, at least.
The brunette frowned. "Me?"
"You've been raising our—" Emma quickly stopped herself before saying something that would have her in handcuffs again, "Henry for ten years. It's the least I can do," she muttered those last words almost inaudibly and pretended her cheeks weren't burning to maintain at least some level of self-worth. "Just take the damn thing and I'll be on my way."
A still suspicious look grazing her face, Regina took the second box from her hands, their fingers brushing lightly. She gave her a nod with a barely distinguishable hint of a smile and Emma turned on her heel to leave.
"Come in, Miss Swan."
Emma stopped dead in her tracks. Did she really just hear that? Or was it something about Sichuan? Okay, that made no sense. She spun around to see Regina smiling – actually smiling, as if her usual holier-than-thou smile wasn't frightening enough – and wouldn't dare say the smile was meant for her instead of some wheel in her head plotting. "Uhh… You sure?" she asked, taking in the lights along the edges of the roof and windows flickering red blue and green and yellow and the smell of roasted turkey coming from the dining room and the fittingly oversized five-pointed star on top of the Christmas tree whose branches she could see standing still in the dark through one of the windows. Right now, Madam Mayor had all the things she had never seen up close and was on the inside quite frankly dying with curiosity, hoping it wouldn't kill the cat.
"In the interest of honoring centuries old but nonetheless still equally moronic rules of social etiquette, I am," Regina answered and walked back into the house leaving the door open for Emma, obviously deciding the discussion was over – if there ever was one.
The blonde kept standing in awkward silence on the road that was the one place in the entire neighborhood snow hadn't covered up and hidden behind a mass of white. Regina had it shoveled.
She hoped this one time couldn't hurt.
"Thanks," she mumbled to herself and followed suit.
On December 24, 2011, Emma Swan had her first Christmas dinner inside a warm house with her son and his – her – their family. She helped hide the two new additions to the modest pile of presents without Henry noticing and was later pleasantly surprised when she found out the Mayor, or as she was now known, Regina, was willing to share the home she had built for the night, too. And Emma didn't even have to sleep on the couch.
And in the morning, she got to watch Henry practically fly down the stairway and tear the wrapping off the barking dog plushie she had gotten for him, hoping desperately he wouldn't find the gift too childish for his liking. To her surprise, he didn't.
A while later she got to watch Regina open her present. She had bought a miniature porcelain elephant with its trunk pointing up in a gesture symbolizing good luck, hoping the brunette wouldn't consider it too pathetic, even for Emma. To her surprise, she didn't.
Most surprising of all was that sometime during the night, Santa and his elves returned to place another present underneath the Christmas tree labeled 'Swan', but Regina wouldn't let her open it until after Emma has left. Not wanting to cause trouble, Emma obeyed.
She couldn't help but giggle as she opened the envelope on her way back to Mary's, trying to make out what it said inside through the haze of her breath vaporizing in the freezing air.
Thank you. ~R