Author's Note: I apologize and there is no excuse, but I am honestly just too damn lazy to proofread this for any typos or weirdly unfitting collocations I (might have) used. This was written a week ago during my trip to Switzerland - some parts actually ON Jakobshorn, the very mountain where this takes place - and just now hastily retyped in a digitalized form. I regret nothing and am not a native English, German or French speaker. Ahem.
He's going to kill himself. He's going to kill himself. They are both undoubtedly GOING to KILL themselves! While the brunette mayor's heart was racing as her brain projected various images of how her soon-to-be wife and son could get impaled on someone's ski pole (which she wouldn't let manifest anywhere other than in a slight frown on her face), the boy was practically glued to the window of the cable car. "Mom! Emma! Look, over there!" he yelled, pointing frantically at something up high in the clouds; higher than the mountain top. Displaying about as much enthusiasm as a 90 year old patient with Alzheimer's, Regina bothered to look in the general direction of the new point of interest (about seventh in the last thirty seconds).
Soon, her worse half joined Henry in open-mouthed staring. "Someone's flying down the mountain in a parachute," Emma whispered breathlessly, captivated by the little spot of orange against the clear blue sky.
It was moments like this that made Regina realize just how much she did NOT fit into their charming little famille. Maybe it was all the magic she could pull out of her sleeve at any moment if she wanted to, but to her, there was nothing fascinating about idiots who preferred air travel to what the tracks had been designed for. "He's going to kill himself," she grumbled.
One of the great things about their relationship was that Regina and Emma had perfected the art of non-verbal communication; particularly in situations in which one was angry with the other. I can't believe you two dragged me into this, said Regina's glare clearly. Emma's eyes darted to Henry and then back to Regina, followed by a slight raise of her eyebrows. He's happy. The brunette let out a quiet 'hrmph' in response.
At the very top of the mountain, just short of 2600 meters above sea level, the company of three entered the main trail, accompanied by tens – hundreds of both tourists and natives much more experienced in this area, which only added to Regina's ever-growing need to go over the rules one more time. "Stay together. I mean it, Emma, never take your eyes off him! Never take your helmets off and never wander off onto the red trails, and keep in mind you're not alone up here, and—"
"Regina, honey, Regina," Emma said, barely managing to hold in laughter after she's finished fastening her boots and stood upright on her snowboard, her hands settling on the mayor's heavy jacket-clad shoulders just so the aforementioned woman couldn't bite them off. "Calm down. We've done this before. We'll be fine."
I'm going to kill you before you have a chance to kill yourself, glared Regina. The blonde patted her shoulder sympathetically and took off with Henry down the least steep hill. Nah, you like me too much. Hrmph.
Both Emma and Henry knew well how to ride a snowboard; they'd just never tried such long distance rides. They had to admit, the Alps were something quite different from the woods in Maine. But as Regina watched the two drift from side to side almost effortlessly on her skis (she claimed snowboards were just a passing fad and a walking cast commercial), she allowed herself to relax. Maybe there was something to Emma's puerile rambling. They moved in elegant semicircles to the left, shifted their weight onto the other side and drilled through the soft snow to the right like moon-shaped pendants on a swinging necklace. At the end of the 1.5km ride, Regina admitted she must have been overreacting. And then Emma headed for the ramps.
Regina came to a halt, nostrils flaring, and watched her partner with what anyone and their mother could only describe as murderous intent as Emma propelled herself upward in the air and performed a convincing 360, landing safely right foot first. Showoff. Fortunately, Henry had the good sense not to follow her down that road. Only about a hundred meters later, back in the (mostly) safe zone, a snowy bump ended Emma's flawless ride rather abruptly.
Emma. Regina's breathing caught in her throat as she watched the blonde stumble forward and fall face first in the fluffy white cotton with a 'woah!' and then 'unf'. And then nothing. Henry, who had been keeping close to her as instructed, called out her name and looked worried for a second before bursting into maniacal laughter.
"What's so funny?" grumbled Emma, rolling onto her back.
"Mom always said trying to impress the ladies too hard would come back to bite me in the butt later," he yelled.
"Hey, you watch your mouth! Who broke the curse, huh?"
"Who hooked you up with your one true love?"
Eavesdropping on the conversation, Regina slid down their way. She made a point of shoving snow right in Emma's face as she stopped above her, eliciting an unamused 'really' from the blonde. Then she proceeded downhill, leaving a smirking Henry to help her up. Served her right.
Back at the top a ride or two later, Emma and Regina decided to take a break and sit down for a while at one of the picnic tables belonging to the local restaurant/food stand. The mayor was reluctant at first, but eventually agreed to let their son ride on his own for a while, seeing as he didn't lack responsibility, unlike some other people she knew.
"I miss home," Regina sighed, glancing around at other people's meals. "We used to give food like this to the rats in my castle." Noticing the smile spreading across Emma's face, she added "But I live with the common folk now, so this will have to do."
The real problem occurred when the two went to buy their own portion. As it turned out, this Swiss waiter didn't speak much English. "Uhh… gesundheit," muttered Emma, since that was the only German word she could say. Regina rolled her eyes and casually strolled over to the bar. "Excusez-moi, parlez-vous français?"
"Mais bien sûr, bien sûr! Qu'est-ce que vous voudriez, mademoiselles?" the waiter replied in a funny sharp-R accent (which Emma didn't get, anyway), clearly relieved some of those touristes américains stupides could actually adapt to the environment. Throughout placing their order, Regina kept grinning smugly, much to the other woman's dismay. Showoff. And of course, the Evil Queen 'accidentally' ordered something entirely different than what Emma wanted.
"Congratulations, your revenge is complete. Nevermind the fact that my ass feels like it's had an intimate encounter with a steamroller," the blonde mumbled, taking a spoonful of a food she couldn't name properly, only tell that it consisted of some kind of broth with rice.
"Dear, one would think you've seen enough of my revenge to know when it's only just begun."
Emma gulped down half a cup of tea, feeling sorry for her body, which obviously had no idea yet of the horrors it would have to face later. That mad? Emma frowned at her in question, in response to which the brunette scooted an inch or two closer, eyes fixated on her own cup of the hot beverage in her hands. I might forgive you sooner, just because it's you and I'm familiar with your frequent incompetence. "You're taking risks," was what could be heard aloud.
"I was just having a little fun—"
"That's not what I was talking about," Regina cut her off. "Reckless stunts are just the tip of the iceberg, no pun intended. Making dangerous deals, going down mines, insulting fairies who could turn you to dust with a wave of their wand… You're always taking risks."
"And you don't approve of that," Emma finished for her.
"I don't, but then again, if you didn't do these things, we would never have met, I suppose. So I'm in no place to complain about your wild nature, especially considering I can't do anything about it."
It hurt how obviously manipulative Regina was being. Head slightly lowered, avoiding eye contact and poking the edge of the table with the tip of her index finger – oh boy, Emma knew she was royally screwed. This literally translated to 'I hope you realize this can't continue, Miss Swan.' And when they got to last name basis, well… then it was bad.
Emma stood up with a sigh, circled her arms around Regina, hugging her affectionately from behind, and rested her chin on the other woman's shoulder. "I am not going to do anything potentially suicidal in the near future. That better?"
"It's a comforting lie, yes. The hug is a nice touch, although unnecessary."
"Are you saying you'd forgive me either way?"
"I'm saying there is no reason behind public displays of affection—"
"Yadayadayada, you're ruining the moment," Emma interrupted, tightening her grip on the brunette. Her lips curled into a pleased smile when she heard Regina grumble in disapproval, even though anyone who spoke her language could tell the difference between real discomfort and barely identifiable feeling of belonging. Henry and Emma were the only two people who could translate her actions and interpret them to tell whether she meant to drive people away or was grumpy simply because she wanted to be in Emma's place herself. "The mountains are so beautiful. I could just sit here and watch them all day," Emma confessed, staring wide-eyed at the horizon, where countless mountaintops rested on a bed of clouds, shielded by sunshine. Ski and snowboard tracks and most of them – wherever adventurers were insane enough to venture by themselves – drew jagged lines in the snow until the entire range seemed like a giant impressionist painting on god's earthly canvas. When the sun began to set, night would fall upon the valley below the mountain, whereas the day remained bright and burning just a few hundred meters above. Night and day, who were never supposed to meet, danced around for hours in this silent refuge. Night here. Day just a few steps over. Much like good and evil, who were never eager to cooperate, but found out one could not exist without the other. Much like Emma and Regina.
"I'm going to start filling a notebook. I'll name it 'The Many Faces of Emma Swan' and this exact moment will be described in 'Emma Swan: Hopeless even as a hopeless romantic.'"
"Come on, admit it. You like it here."
There was a pause as Regina took in the image. "Yes. The view is really quite beautiful."
But then Emma felt her tense up, narrowing her eyes at something a fair distance away that was moving towards them, trying to determine whether her suspicions were true. Its helmet was covering its hair, but the height fit that of a twelve year old boy clutching a snowboard in one hand and holding the other to his nose. A few steps and a closer look at those teary eyes later, Emma knew it was him. "Henry!" she called out as both took off in his direction at the same moment.
His nose was bleeding and his ski glasses – which he had the good sense to take off – cracked. "I got into a fight," he mumbled through sobs and attempts not to inhale the blood as Regina wiped it off with a tissue.
"You did what?" shrieked Emma and promptly took the board from him to prop it up against a tall pile of snow.
"I hope you're happy, Miss Swan. Look where your clever ideas got him!" Regina hissed.
"What? I have nothing to do with this!"
"You're his role model! He's learned this behavior pattern from you because he thinks it's simpler than diplomacy!"
"He's your son!"
"He's your son too!"
Without realizing it, both Emma and Regina turned to their son at once, all traces of dispute vanishing into thin air.
"See? You both looked," the boy said. He was shaking like a leaf, but was that at glimpse of his trademark Operation Cobra Grin™ they caught?
They should have known better. This wasn't by far the first time he had done something to that effect just to make them focus on what the Sheriff and the Mayor had in common. "Henry," Regina knelt in front of him and brushed snowflakes off his American Dragon jacket (also Emma's idea, of course). "We're sorry. Just tell us what happened."
"There was this group of guys – they must have seen us together, seen you two smooch or something, because they came up to me and asked 'What's it like to be growing up with freaks of nature?' in a weird accent. Then they said something I couldn't understand and started laughing. So I punched one of them. It didn't do much," he mumbled almost inaudibly.
"Henry, what do we do to people who taunt and mock us?" Regina cooed in the most motherly voice she could muster, one that Emma could never imitate.
And it made her a little jealous. "Pretend to be friends with them, silently plotting their demise, before we curse them along with untold millions of innocents?"
"Don't press it, Emma," snarled Regina venomously (or was it the Evil Queen?) before adding "Maybe just tie their shoelaces together or place several unfortunate snowy bumps in their way with a simple incantation" under her breath.
"Regina, no," Emma warned as if she were talking to a badly trained dog, even though she was sure the witch had already cast a spell or two before she even spoke.
"We smile, ignore them, leave and then laugh at how miserable they are if arguing with others is their only source of entertainment. I could teach you two," Henry admitted, still grinning. It was true; the two didn't exactly practice what they preached, especially with one another, did they?
Scowling, Emma guided him towards a bench and sat him down on it. Then she occupied the empty spot next to him with Regina on the other end. "Don't talk back, kid. Now sit and don't move until the bleeding's stopped." She paused and shifted on the spot, uncomfortable with the sudden change in atmosphere. "You know you don't have to defend our honor or anything, right?"
"You didn't have to defend my mom in front of the townspeople, but you did it anyway."
Taken aback by his prompt response, Emma stuttered "That's different."
"No, it's not. You love her and I love both of you."
Emma felt a warm tingle in her cheeks and looked at Regina to find her blushing as well. She looked unusually – no, that would have been an understatement – unrecognizably, inexplicably vulnerable in this state, and Emma saw a reflection of herself in her eyes. She could also quite easily put her finger on why that was; the two had never before voiced their feelings for one another. Not in front of Henry, not in private. There was simply time enough for that, time enough to say it later, and then even later than that – which was ridiculous since they had covered all the other bases of a relationship thoroughly. During their time together, Henry had only grown more observant, it seemed; if that was even possible. Or he was oversimplifying things. Or were they making it complicated? Was there a reason for why children always seemed to know the emotions of others?
Emma shook her head; there was time enough to reflect on that later. "In any case, the difference here is that I didn't get my ass kicked," she laughed and poked his arm. Then she looked at the steadily setting sun. "They'll be closing up soon. What do you say we call it a day and enjoy one last ride to town? You'll get one of those Pokémon band-aids when we get there."
Henry rolled his eyes at her. "Those are for kids."
Ah, puberty. It was on its way already. Brilliant. "Fine, you'll get a regular one. I hear Swiss girls are all over mean boys. Or do you still have the hots for Gretel?"
"Emma!" he yelled, but he was laughing again as he threw a fist-sized snowball directly in her face, which she fortunately managed to block with her forearm.
On the way down, Emma waited until Henry was out of earshot and blocked Regina's way. The timing must have been impeccably precise, or else the brunette wouldn't have had enough time to brake. "What?"
"Later, when Henry's asleep, we could…" Emma whispered in her ear.
"No! Absolutely out of the question," Regina snapped.
"Come on, it'll be fun! Henry's a big boy, he can stay at the hotel alone for an hour or two."
"I said no. My word is final."
Bur, being the stubborn, well… daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming that she was, Emma refused to step out of the way. "At night, when the few huts in the mountains light up, they look just like stars and you can't tell where the sky begins and where it ends. I thought that would fit your element. Dark suits you." And there she went with one of the things they actually agreed on.
"How do you know? You've been here before?" Regina inquired.
"No, but I have an eye for miracles."
And she was staring right into the witch's soul with that stupidly adorable, goofy grin of hers basically engraved in her face and ugh, how could Regina possibly say no to that? "If Henry agrees, nachtskifahren it is."
That was all the confirmation that needed to be said for Emma to obediently move out of the way and swoop downhill. "Obviously."
And just as they said, so they did, and that night, Regina could see for herself that every single word was true. She also found out what it felt like to be truly happy – for the Evil Queen, the villain, to have her own happy ending – when Emma snuggled up to her in the hazy darkness and whispered "Hey, 'Gina?"
"I love you."