"Regina, I should really get out of here. It's getting late," Emma's eyes shifted toward the door, feeling like she had overstayed her welcome, usually even a minute at the mayor's and she was looking to run, but tonight the time had flown by and she was immensely enjoying present company.
"Emma, you are not leaving this house as long as it continues to rain. Besides, I have no car to drive you, your clothes are wet, and you will not walk down Main Street clad only my bathrobe," Regina's usual sense of command had returned.
"Afraid of what people might say?" Emma sassed suggestively, and then clamped her hand over her mouth.
Regina appeared dumbstruck for a second before excusing herself to make their cocoa.
Henry darted over to Emma and conspiratorially whispered, "How did you convince her to let me stay up and have cocoa?"
"I said nothing," Emma claimed, raising her hands in innocence.
They reconvened over the tray of cocoa in the study, and took up residence by the fire. Emma almost cried out in joy when she had her first drink of the warm chocolaty liquid. Emma shut her eyes, and let the feeling wash over her. This is what she had always imagined Christmas day would feel like if she was in a movie.
After an inscrutable amount of time, in which Emma told Henry some of the story of their long, wet day, while Regina interjected to contribute or correct, Henry finally excused himself to bed due to exhaustion.
"Well, I'm glad you two didn't die in the storm," he said in his high chipper voice, as he gave Regina a quick hug and then crossed to Emma to give her one too.
"Thanks for dinner, Henry," Emma said as she drew out a long overdue and much need yawn. She almost nodded off, never wanting to leave her cozy position curled up on the sofa. Before falling asleep she opened her eyes in a sudden panic, wondering if Regina would let her stay all night or if she planned to kick her out now that Henry was in bed.
"Um…I could probably call a cab?" Emma managed weakly, her position and half-closed eyes betrayed that that was the last thing she wanted to do.
"I thought we already discussed this: you're spending the night, dear," Regina frowned, bending over in her chair trying to rub the pain from her feet.
"Come here," Emma sat up and patted her lap, trying to beckon Regina over.
Regina didn't move, until Emma exaggerated her lap pat, and sighed at Regina's stubbornness. Regina rose slowly and sat down next to Emma who motioned for her to put her feet up in her lap.
"Let me rub them. I know some magic tricks that will help."
Regina remained uncertain, raising her eyebrow in question of Emma's definition of magic, but relented and gingerly placed her bare feet in Emma's lap.
Emma immediately started to rub them slowly and gently at first, keeping her hands off of the cuts and scrapes from the gravel. Emma pressed deeply into her arches and Regina involuntarily melted, and stifled a moan.
"Feel's good doesn't it?" Emma prodded, somehow taking great pride that she was pleasing Regina.
"Yeah- that's wonderful," Regina managed before twisting her body so that she was lying down fully and sinking into the sofa.
Emma quietly worked on Regina's feet for a bit, before she spoke, "See how much Henry loves you? He cooked you dinner and wanted to get you wine because he knew you had a bad day. He was taking care of you and if that's not love, well, I don't know what is."
"Yes, that was really sweet of him," Regina replied, warmed by his act of caring, and feeling her face tighten signaling she might cry.
"I mean, that's how I've always understood love, or wanted of it: someone to care for me, someone I could care for…" Emma spoke softly, staring into the fire.
"Yes," Regina agreed absently, listening, but lost in her own thoughts.
"When we got stranded today, I thought for sure we were in a losing battle. I thought we'd never make it back, but I think we actually gained something," Emma said, continuing to rub Regina's calves softly, tracing patterns, pleased that Regina was allowing her touch.
"What did we gain?" Regina asked in the same unguarded voice that she had used earlier.
"Understanding," Emma looked down at Regina, who seemed vulnerable in her plush robe and eyes half-lidded from fatigue, "thank you for sharing with me today, Regina."
Regina sat up, blinking to clear her head, forming her thoughts and anticipating that the words she wanted to say would normally be difficult, but she found they came quite easily "I want to thank you as well. I would probably still be sitting in my car or lying in the ditch somewhere if you hadn't been there to help me."
Emma smiled at that, "I couldn't do anything to save your shoes, I'm afraid."
"Yes, well, there are always some casualties in battle," Regina quipped, sliding her feet from Emma's lap and sliding in next to her, worry crossing her brow, "though, I still feel cold. Even all this time sitting by the fire hasn't entirely relieved it."
Emma nodded knowingly, and moved forward embracing her in a strong hug, Regina felt a familiar rise of panic in her chest and then she relaxed into Emma, willing the fear to subside. She let herself acknowledge how much she enjoyed Emma's touch. She felt Emma whisper a soft kiss to the top of her head and then another, and another, and then she pulled her tighter. Regina felt Emma swallow and then heard her say, "nothing can change what happened to you when you were young, but I want to help-you deserve someone to care for you."
"You too," Regina said without pulling away, feeling the power and meaning in Emma's words. The gesture was pure, and Regina for once couldn't hide her feelings. Her whole body began to shake and she started to cry into Emma's neck, clinging, and warming each other, as the storm raged on.
Sometimes a hurt is so deep deep deep
You think that you're gonna drown
Sometimes all I can do is weep weep weep
With all this rain falling down