Regina fiddled with the mantle clock in her study. She'd set it the day Henry had given it to her—Mother's Day, the year he was seven—and it had kept perfect time for years. But magic had done something to it. The day Emma had brought Henry home from the hospital, Regina had realized that it was running backwards. That had stopped, but no matter how often she set the clock, it no longer seemed able to properly keep time. It was one of her favorite things in this room, but she was verging on throwing it into the crackling fire, so annoyed was she by the visual reminder of how time passing actually felt. The hours alone in the big empty house could drag on until she thought she'd go crazy, but the days turned into weeks and months faster than she could keep track of them.
Regina was generally unmoved by the woman storming through her closed study door without knocking or observing any kind of protocol whatsoever. That behavior had been typical for as long as they'd known each other. For someone so private, Emma didn't have a particularly strong sense of personal space, and it had only gotten worse since she'd moved in. It was the rage in Emma's voice that raised Regina's eyebrows. That was something she hadn't heard in quite a while.
"You did this to me!" Emma roared as she approached the middle of the room where Regina stood. Her color was high, the red in her cheeks nearly as intense as that of the jacket she still wore.
Regina cocked her head. "Did what, dear?"
Emma scoffed. "Oh, I think we both know. I mean, are you kidding me, Regina? This is completely crossing every line, every boundary. I thought we were past this shit, at least with you and me. I've stood for you over and over again. How could you think that—"
"Emma." Regina enunciated each syllable of the name very clearly, as if it were an incantation to still the other woman. "I think you should tell me what it is we're talking about."
"I'm talking about being pregnant, you… you fucking… witch." She spat the last word like poison, but that wasn't the word that rang in Regina's ears.
Her eyes wide, she echoed, "Pregnant?"
Emma could see from the look on the other woman's face that her surprise was genuine, but she refused to let it register. Emma was furious, and that feeling was filling her up, keeping at bay all the other things that threatened to come flooding in if she let the fury go. "Yes, Your Majesty, I'm pregnant. I don't know what you're planning or what kind of fucking voodoo you had to do, but it worked. I'm pregnant and fuck, Regina, you didn't even askme." Emma's eyes were shiny with tears when she stopped, and Regina could see her working her jaw, willing them not to fall.
Regina shook her head, just once. "I didn't—" and then she stopped herself, her lips curved into a strange kind of smile.
"What?" Emma demanded.
"You're pregnant." Regina's tone was as inscrutable as the expression on her face.
"That's funny to you?"
"No, it's just… you're pregnant and I'm—" Regina held her hands out to her sides, gesturing to indicate her own very feminine body. "Shouldn't I be the one who's angry?"
Emma was incredulous. "Oh, you've got to be— I'm with my father or our son all day. I'm in your bed every night. When would I possibly have time?"
It wasn't an outright denial, and the recognition of that hit Regina so hard that she had to sit. She stared at her own hands. She twisted the ring on her right hand so that the emerald was on the inside, clenched her fist, and focused on the stone where it bit into her palm. When she spoke, her voice was small even to her own ears, as if she was speaking from very far away. "When people want to, they find the time."
She felt Emma flop onto the sofa next to her. "Well, I didn't," Emma insisted. "I wouldn't." Regina felt green eyes boring into her, and she lifted her gaze to meet them for just a moment. Emma's surprise and anger were easily evident, but it was the fear flickering behind them that made Regina certain she was being told the truth. Emma's voice wavered as she spoke again. "Y-you really didn't do this? I just was so surprised, and then I thought…"
"Magic," Regina finished for her. "You remember what I told you? About magic here?"
"Unpredictable, yeah. I've noticed."
Regina stared across the room at the window. She thought of the window upstairs, where she had stood so many months ago and watched the purple fog roll over the town. She had smiled then, feeling her power returned to her. She hadn't had any idea how things would change. "It's everywhere here," she said, almost to herself. "Like an infection."
"So maybe it just… got away from you?" Emma suggested, but Regina was already shaking her head before the thought was even completed.
"Even if I'd wanted to, I couldn't do that." Emma's brow furrowed, and Regina realized she'd have to explain. She spoke slowly, choosing each word carefully. "I never learned how. I did try, once. Before. I thought I could… use such a skill. The ability to create a child and ensure the desired parentage would have been extraordinarily valuable. But I was told it could not be done."
Emma let out a short, sardonic laugh. "I think someone lied to you."
Regina shrugged. "Maybe. It wouldn't be the first time." Even before, she'd never met anyone who could match her skill, but there were always those who were more knowledgeable. It occurred to her that there still was one person who might be able to provide them with an explanation. She studied Emma's face. "You haven't… seen him, have you?"
"Not for months. It's not like it was, Regina. He's not any better off than you."
"Emma," Regina said with quiet intensity. Fear creased her forehead. She raised a hand to stroke Emma's face, thumb drawing over her cheekbone. "You cannot see him," she said, more a plea than a command.
Emma nodded easily. "Fine. No love lost there."
Panic bloomed hotly in Regina's chest. She was terrified that Emma didn't understand how serious the situation was. "Emma, I mean it. When he hears about this he will try to trick you. You cannot speak to him. No messages. Nothing. Please, Emma."
Emma grasped Regina's hand in both of her own, pulling it down to her lap. She smoothed both thumbs across the back of Regina's hand, just above the knuckles, drawing twin swaths of reassurance. "Regina. The man tried to kill our son. Not to mention you. And I doubt he'd shed any tears for me. I promise you, I'm not going anywhere near the bastard." All the flippancy was gone from Emma's voice, and Regina let out a breath of relief.
"There's something else," Regina said slowly. When she hesitated, Emma squeezed her hand in encouragement. "You're not going to like it. I need to go to him."
Regina was right; Emma didn't like that at all. She yanked her hands from Regina's and stared at her, horrified. "No! Absolutely not."
"Emma," Regina started, but Emma cut her off.
"You just got done telling me how important it was to stay away. How dangerous he is, like I could ever forget. You think I'm about to let you walk into that same danger?"
"But it's not the same danger," Regina argued. "I'm not carrying a child."
At that turn of phrase, Emma froze. "A child," she said, as though the idea had not occurred to her.
"Yes, Emma," Regina said with a forced patience. "The condition of pregnancy generally results in a child."
"No, I know, I just didn't—we're going to have a baby." For the first time since she'd spoken with Dr. Whale that morning, Emma found herself trying to picture the two of them with a baby.
"Yes," Regina agreed. "You are. But we don't know how, which means we don't know why. And that leaves all of us vulnerable. Especially the child. If we have any chance of protecting it, I need to speak to him."
Emma had learned enough about the dark little man in the last months to know that this was true. The idea of Regina having an audience with him made her want to be sick, but she knew that now that the idea was in Regina's head, there was little to be done to dissuade her. Emma sighed. "Okay. You'll go. But you have to promise me something. No deals."
"Not with him," Regina agreed. "I promise. Does…" she struggled for the right name. "Does your mother know?"
"Don't wait too long to tell her," Regina said firmly. Emma looked at her with surprise. "She'll be hurt if she figures it out before you do—and believe me, she will figure it out."
"All right," Emma agreed with a small smile at Regina's concern not for what Snow would do, but for what she would feel. She was trying, but generosity of spirit was still a very new color on Regina, and the former queen shifted uncomfortably under it for a moment.
Then, as quickly as it had appeared, it was gone. "She'll blame me, no doubt." She was Mayor Mills again, her voice measured with just a hint of snark around the edges.
"She won't," Emma insisted. It probably wasn't true, but arguing with that voice was like a reflex.
"You did," Regina reminded her.
Emma made a face. "Yeah, well, I get to make crazy assumptions. I have baby hormones."