Author's note: In this version of the Once universe Regina doesn't know Emma found out about her hooking up with Sheriff Graham. With grateful thanks to my beloved beta reader indiana. This is my first fanfic. All feedback greatly appreciated.


By Scribes and Scrolls


"So do you think you'll be OK on your own for a few days?" Mary Margaret asked the woman in a white tanktop rummaging through her fridge. The rummaging noises stopped abruptly and a blonde head appeared above the door.

"Huh? Where are you going to be?"

"I didn't think you were listening," the teacher replied with a grin. "School camp. Henry's class is going away for five days, a bit of fun, survival lessons, ghost stories, bonfires, the whole bit."

"Henry's going away for five days? And the mayor agreed to him going?"

"It is only school camp, Emma. And he will be chaperoned." Mary Margaret stopped. "Although you are right about the mayor," she frowned, trailing off. "She usually doesn't let him out of her sight. He's never been on school camp before."

"It's pretty obvious why that is," the sheriff snorted, her head disappearing back into the fridge. Rummaging noises resumed. "She's a full-on, type-A, control freak. Wouldn't surprise me if she's never let the kid out of her sight. Well I mean before he hopped a bus to find me."

She stood and closed the door, stopping when she saw the look on Mary Margaret's face.

"What?" she asked.

"You know ..." the dark haired woman began, "you're right. I wonder what's changed now?"

The pair stared at each other, thinking. Emma finally shrugged and dropped into a chair in the lounge, cradling a tub of yogurt in one hand, peeling off its foil lid swiftly with the other. "Dunno. What did she say when she handed in the permission form?"

"Not much. Just tapped it, said 'Look after my son', then gave me that look."

"What look?"

"Oh you know the one - 'Hurt my boy and I'll hunt you down and skin you alive and rip out your still-beating heart, not necessarily in that order'."

"Oh. Yeah, that one. Seen that a few times already." Emma smirked.

Mary Margaret laughed. "I'll just bet you have."

A silence fell. Finally the blonde spoke. "It'll probably be hard for her."


"The mayor. Letting Henry go. She'll probably over-compensate by being a bitch on wheels or something." Emma's mouth quirked. "Okay, MORE of a bitch on wheels."

"Probably," Mary Margaret agreed with a laugh. "But fortunately I won't be here to see it. You can tell me all about it when I get back."

Emma scowled. "Coward," she declared with a final grin before digging viciously into her yogurt.

"Uh huh. Just don't bust up any more of my appliances in fits of aggravation like last time. I am still finding pieces of toaster in the damndest of places."

"Scout's honour."

"You were a Girl Scout?" the teacher's eyebrows nearly shot off her head.

Emma pulled a face. "Hardly." She paused. "You know this camp could do the kid the world of good. Seems like he's spending far too much time hanging around us. Where are the friends his own age?"

Mary Margaret nodded. "The mayor was always careful about vetting his friends. They had to be a particular type. After a while he simply gave up bothering to find his own. And the ones she found for him had no interest in being ordered to befriend him. So he's been pretty lonely for quite a few years. That's why I gave him the book in the end. If he couldn't have his own friends at least he'd have his imagination."

Emma nodded. Mary Margaret looked down and hesitated. "Although there are times I really wonder if I made a bad situation worse."

"Hey, you meant well. Anyway, who knows what a week away from the mayor will do for him. He could have a fantastic time."

"I hope so," the teacher smiled. "I'll let you know."

. . . . . . . . . . . .

"And when you've done processing these monthly crime statistics, you will refile the break and enter folder. It was incompetently filed under B not P for Property Damage. When I asked to see it last week, it took Nancy half an hour to find it."

The mayor's clipped tones and flashing eyes finally paused their accusing demeanor. The "as any idiot should know" was left hanging wordlessly in the air, the sheriff noted in bemusement.

The other woman's hands were on her hips and her fingers were drumming ferociously. Emma wondered if the mayor would discover bruises there later. The thought of the mayor's bare skin, bruised or otherwise, momentarily derailed her thought processes and with a concerted effort she dragged her attention back to the woman at full parade-ground attention in front of her.

"Am I boring you Miss Swan?"

How to answer that? Infuriating, certainly, Emma mused. Frustrating? Hell yes. But boring? Never. She tilted her head thoughtfully as if weighing the answer less likely to be met with a burst of verbal napalm.

The mayor, enduring the drawn-out silence with increasing irritation, narrowed her eyes. "Careful, dear, you might sprain something."

It had been six hours since Henry, Mary Margaret and the rest of his year group had disappeared, and for once Emma wished she had been dead wrong about her instincts. But there was no missing the fact that Mayor Regina Mills had been control-freaking out on everyone, visiting her twice at the sheriff's office already to micromanage absolute nonsense that had absolutely nothing to do with mayoral business.

Emma finally shrugged. "I thought it was a rhetorical question."

"I do not pay you to think," the brunette snapped and, at Emma's raised eyebrows, suddenly looked away. For a brief instant, the threat she might even apologise for such a blatant lie hung in the air. But it was soon gone and Storybrooke's most highly-strung resident turned on her screw-you navy heels and swung out of the office.

Emma slumped back into her chair. She had tried to be understanding but the woman would test the patience of the Dalai Lama. It occurred to her to wonder who Regina Mills had to confide in about her ... issues. Was she, like Henry, alone?

. . . . . . . . . . . .

So it was that at 9 o'clock that night Sheriff Emma Swan stood nervously on the doorstep of the mayor's mansion. She had decided to be the mature grown-up and do something decent for once. She was trying to pluck up the nerve to ring the bell. Before she could, the light came on and the door flung open.

"Miss Swan," that rich, sardonic, faintly sneering voice announced. The woman paused as if enjoying deciding which choice insult to start off with when suddenly a look of fear gripped her.

The mayor barked: "Is everything all right? Did something happen to Henry? What is it?" She took a quick step inside Emma's personal space as if getting closer to the sheriff would deliver bad news faster. "Tell me!"

Emma made a conscious effort not to flinch. "He's fine, everything's fine," she soothed. She held up the bottle of red she'd been clutching. "Just thought maybe you'd like some company tonight. Can't be easy..." She trailed off uncertainly.

Myriad emotions flashed across the mayor's brown eyes. Relief, concern, anger, distrust. And something else.

Now those eyes swung to look at the bottle with a look of astonishment as if Emma had been offering her a rabies-ridden chihuahua carcass. She sputtered: "I am not some pathetic pity case who needs hand-holding just because her son is off singing Kumbaya for another 84 hours."

"84 hours?"

"Well that's how long he'll ... " She faded out.

Neither of them chose to comment on Mayor Mills's remarkable specifics when it came to Henry's absence.

Emma looked at her boots. "Well if you don't need the company, I sort of do. I really miss the kid, and he's only been in my life for a fraction of how long he's been in yours so I can only imagine how you're feeling."

She slid her eyes up to Regina's face, watching for a reaction under her lashes. Nothing. Ah. Right. "Well I'll just take it home and drink it myself."

She turned to go, pulling her red leather jacket closer to her body as if bracing against the mayor's Arctic coldness.


Emma paused and glanced up, surprised. The hooded expression in those brown eyes was still unreadable.

"Miss Swan, would you care to come in? I'd hate to contribute further to your delinquency by turning you into a sad alcoholic."

"No, we can't have that." Emma caught a bemused sparkle in Regina's eye.

The lounge was impersonal, modern, cold and would be a nightmare to keep clean. Assuming you could even find the dirt. Everything was black, white, angled. Emma's eyes moved from dry expensive art and sculptures to a monochrome rug probably worth more than her annual wage. She shivered.

She slid her eyes over to the mayor, noting for the first time the sleeveless dark tanktop and black tailored pants. Even at the end of a long day and missing her son, the woman looked completely poised. Not a hair was out of place. Apart from a slight tightness around her eyes she looked every inch an austere, cool beauty.

"Do you like what you see?" The mayor asked dryly, reaching for wine glasses and a cork screw, without looking up.

Emma froze and her eyes flew to the mayor's face. But Regina's expression was neutral and Emma relaxed, taking the question at face value.

"I know nothing about art," she admitted, feeling more gauche by the minute. She shrugged self-consciously. "It all looks ... um ... beautiful."

She held the mayor's gaze on the last word a little longer than she intended and realised how that must have sounded. She quickly looked away, a flush rising.

"Sit." the mayor said, pursing her lips.

Emma paused, uncertain where she should sit. She somehow felt outclassed by the mayor's fine furniture.

"I won't bite," the mayor teased, with a hint of annoyance edging her tone at the other woman's hesitation. "Much," she added with a curl of her lip.

God, that voice. Emma laughed out loud and reached for the glass the other woman was holding out.

"Not what I hear, Madame Mayor," she offered. Their fingers brushed as she took the glass and she felt a tiny shiver slide up her arm. She knew that feeling. She noted the mayor had swiftly extricated her own fingers.

Well that was awkward. Quickly she threw back a mouthful of wine to take her mind off what was turning into a ridiculously uncomfortable evening. She winced in horror as the trail of liquid scorched down her throat. Uggh. The wine. It tasted like battery acid.

Her eyes shot up to the mayor's face which presently mirrored her own. Oh crap.

"Did you acquire this bottle from a mechanic's still?" the mayor asked tartly, with a pained expression.

"It certainly tastes that way," Emma frowned, a blush spreading anew across her cheeks.

Regina's eyebrows rose at the sight, but she said nothing, elegantly rising and walking to a nearby cupboard. She bent to look through the contents and Emma found herself admiring a most perfectly rounded rear. She swallowed nervously.

The mayor rose holding triumphantly a wine with a vintage Emma could make out was far older than she was.

"Ah we don't have to crack that - you should save it for a special occasion," she stammered, appalled it would be wasted on her, as Regina reached for the corkscrew.

"But this is a special occasion. It is rescuing my taste buds from tasting 'car'," the mayor said and turned to look at her fully. Then she smiled. It was a full-toothed, perfect smile, the sort to make toothpaste ad stars shrink back at their own imperfections. It was, quite simply, a dazzling 1000-watt sensation.

Emma looked at her in amazement. Regina Mills was completely transformed.

How, she suddenly wondered, had she missed what an absolutely gorgeous woman the mayor was? She had noted before that she had a certain … presence … which at times made her think inappropriate thoughts, and wonder what she looked like, her head tossed back crying out in passion. But this was more than that. Regina was stunning.

Emma groaned inwardly. Oh god. She could not be falling for this woman. Could. Not. Happen.

Regina passed her a new glass and Emma swallowed a mouthful gratefully, relieved to be able to take her eyes off the other woman.

The mayor settled into a seat on the couch. Not opposite Emma, as she had anticipated, or a seat away. But beside her.

Still, she mused, the mayor had never been one to observe anyone's personal space.

"So," Regina purred, "What shall we talk about? The latest looks on the runways of gay Paris? Beauty secrets of famous stars? Which girly haircut you should get next?" She clapped her hands in a giddy, cruel parody, as her eyes glinted dangerously.

"What?" Emma blurted.

"Oh?" the mayor affected a crestfallen expression. "Aren't we friends now? Bosom buddies? BFFs?"

Emma looked at her in utter bafflement.

"Why else would you have inveigled your way into my home tonight? Either you pity me, and want to inflict some girly bonding ordeal on me ... which, frankly astonishes me because, really Miss Swan, you do not seem the type, and I know for a fact that I'm not."

Emma openly gaped.

Regina smiled again. This time there was no sweetness in the display and Emma felt a coldness close over the room.

"Or," Regina said with a predatory tone, "perhaps you wish to take advantage of me?"

Emma froze and almost choked on the fine wine which suddenly tasted like ash. Panic rose up in her before she heard the rest of Regina's sentence. Now the mayor's voice dropped an octave and the sheriff felt the hairs on the back of her neck rise.

"Because if you are playing me, to manoeuvre me to get Henry, you will be sorely disappointed."

The certainty and dread with which she said it almost made Emma laugh in her face. Instead she bit back her first response, and carefully put down her glass and stood.

Confusion flickered fleetingly across the mayor's face. It was briefly pleasant to see anything shatter that perfect composure.

"God you are so full of it," Emma said in a low tone. She frowned. "Actually if I didn't before, I do pity you now. That you can take an offer of friendship and twist it into something nasty - that's sad. Do you actually even have any real friends? Because anyone would realise how alone you were feeling tonight, but where are they? And when I make the effort to see that you're OK, this is how you respond."

Regina was on her feet in a flash and nose to nose with the blonde. In any other circumstance Emma would have been convinced she was about to be kissed. But the mayor's eyes were dark chips of contempt.

"How dare you," she snarled. "Of course I suspect your motives. You are my son's birth mother. You've known him for five minutes and he declares to me every chance he gets that he loves you! Do you have ANY idea how that feels?

"And you haven't left as you said you would. Of course I have concerns as to your intentions. And I see I was right. Because now, at what you perceive to be my most vulnerable moment," she hissed, "you turn up to ... what?... get me drunk? Get my guard down? Get some dirt on me that you can use against me in court when you fight to take Henry off me?"

Her eyes were flashing now and Emma could plainly see fear warring with anger. In a brief moment of insight she realised Regina completely believed what she was saying. Emma felt overwhelmed with sympathy.

In many respects everything she'd said was true. Emma had promised to leave. She had turned up with wine and had hoped to use that to get the mayor's guard down. But not for any of the reasons the woman thought. She did feel bad for her being alone tonight. And it was time they stopped banging heads. It was getting absurd - and it couldn't be helping Henry.

Fired up, fighting for her son, up in her face, she really was beautiful. And without thinking Emma did something she couldn't explain to herself and which neither of them expected. She leaned forward the short distance, captured the mayor's face swiftly in both hands and kissed her.

At first it was just a tentative kiss and then as she felt the surprise and capitulation of the other woman, she began to nibble those soft red lips, tasting expensive vintage. Leaning in more, Emma wrapped her arms around her neck, savouring her warmth and curves. Regina's breasts felt so soft against hers. Her body so right. She dropped down to nuzzle that perfect neck which had been driving her crazy all night.

And Regina responded. The tiniest of gasps escaped, a small wisp of air, then a more tortured moan, as if she was fighting a Herculean battle to contain it. Then her mouth sought out Emma's and their tongues tasted and duelled, their lips sliding together. Emma felt the mayor's hands shift to her hips, pulling her jean-clad hips tightly towards hers. It was a primal demand for fealty. Emma allowed it. She ran her hands down the mayor's back, savouring the feel of that taut, perfect body, rubbing provocatively against her.

And then Regina stopped. The hands at her hips pushed her sharply away.

They both blinked at each other and Emma knew she would never see Regina Mills looking quite so undone ever again.

"I'm not ..." a ragged voice spat out, quite unlike the mayor's usual controlled tones.

"Maybe not, but your lips think otherwise," Emma wanly joked, even as her heart began to sink.

Anger flashed in the mayor's eyes. And it was definitely the mayor who was back in charge, despite the undignified sight of MAC Capricious red lipstick smeared down her swollen lower lip.

"So that's it," she fumed, as though unearthing a carefully hidden secret. "You're going to try and entrap me, spread the rumour I'm some … some predatory Sapphic seductress and get Henry that way?"

Emma's lips pressed together in a thin line. She thrust her hands in her pocket and stalked towards the door. She was shaking uncontrollably but did her best to hide it. She sensed the mayor following her.

The sheriff turned back angrily. "I don't know what 1950s drama you're living in but no one cares about what a pair of unattached women do behind closed doors. And by the way if I implicated you in anything you suggest, I'd be implicating me, too. Not everything is about your rights to Henry.

"So," she added, gathering up her anger in a tight ball, "Take your self-centred, self-righteous, bullshit conspiracy theories and shove them." Then she smiled. It was about as friendly as Regina's thunderous look.

She opened the door and paused on the threshold. "But you're right, I did have an ulterior motive tonight. I wanted to give comfort to someone I thought could use it. For your sake and mine and maybe even our son's. And you have just spat on it. Good night, Madame Mayor."

And with that she stepped out into the night gaining enormous satisfaction by slamming the door. She was halfway down the drive when she heard a furious curse and the violent smashing of what sounded like a wine bottle. Pity. It was a stunning vintage.