A/N: So I need to tell you, up front, that I'm a Canadian Girl. This story was in fact written on Canada Day which falls on July 1, three days before the American Independence Day. Storybrooke is in the USA however, so I needed the appropriate holiday.
Happy Canada Day to all the Canadians out there, and Happy Fourth of July to all the Americans!
Oh, and the curse hasn't broken yet and there has been no creepy purple cloud in the town of Storybrooke. I know this might be slightly out of the timeline, but bear with me okay? Thanks.
Just a little bit of fluff...
July fourth. Independence Day.
Regina stands by the pier, supervising the crew setting up fireworks for the evening's display. It's humid. The air feels very heavy. There's faint breeze coming off the water, a welcome relief to the stifling heat from earlier in the day.
But it's still hot.
Regina tugs at her blouse discreetly, trying to work some of the slightly cool air against her sticky body. In her opinion she, as the mayor, shouldn't be sweaty, should never look rumpled or less than perfect.
Sweat is for the seven short, stocky men who are setting up the pyrotechnics. Not for her.
The one thing Regina hates most is feeling out of control. Of anything. The moisture pooling between her breasts against her will irritates her, and it makes her legendary temper even shorter than normal.
She will accept nothing less than perfection for the fireworks display tonight. After all, she's using public money to fund the show, which she'll have to account for in next month's budget. It had better be perfect.
In truth she has always hated fireworks, and that makes her grouchy too. They're loud, messy, and they bring far too much joy to the people watching them. For many years they had been forbidden in the town. She had written strict laws that would land anyone with even the smallest Roman candle in jail for weeks.
But then Henry came along.
She can still recall a four-year-old Henry, already far too serious for his age, looking up at her with big, brown eyes, begging her for some fireworks like the ones he saw on television.
He was still lisping some of his letters, a fact that annoyed Regina to no end. But for some reason the word 'fireworkth' didn't annoy her as much as it usually would have. There was adoration shining in his eyes, like she could do anything in the world.
And, of course, she pretty much could.
She wrote a bylaw to allow fireworks, regulated by the city, for the July fourth celebration only.
That year the town of Storybrooke had its first fireworks display. The awe in Henry's cherubic face that night made it all worth it, and for a moment nothing else in the world mattered.
It didn't matter that Henry was up far past his bedtime. It didn't matter that Mary Margaret was standing just a few people away, the fireworks reflecting in her soft, sweet eyes. It didn't matter that the entire town was happy, happier than she'd ever seen them.
All that mattered was Henry's little hand tightly clutching her own, and the hug he gave her at the end of the light show, full of unconditional love and affection.
The memory softens Regina's expression for a moment, but the moment is fleeting and her features draw into a frown.
This year Henry didn't want to come with her down to the pier to help set up the show as per their usual tradition. He had said that he wanted to stay at home in his room, wanted to read his book.
Regina knows that the moment her car pulled out of the driveway her son would have dropped his book, slipped out the back door, and gone in search of Storybrooke's sheriff.
His birth mother. The woman who can do no wrong, while Regina can do no right.
The frown deepens.
One of the men stumbles and nearly drops the box in his arms. Regina descends on him, sharp words flying from her mouth.
Damn these people who, despite living in a world of her creation, still seem to be out of her perfect control. Damn the summer weather in Maine for being so uncomfortably hot and sticky. And damn Emma Swan for showing up in town and stealing her son just when she needs him most.
Darkness has fallen. The whole damned town is out, either crowding around the pier or swarming through the park where the castle playground used to be. There are blankets and folding chairs everywhere.
Regina pretends not to notice the alcohol being passed from hand to hand, mostly bottles of beer. If she notices then she'll have to do something about it, and right now she has more pressing concerns.
Her son is leading Emma Swan by the hand, trying to slip through the crowd unnoticed. They're half-crouched, tiptoeing. It's almost comical.
Henry glances around. He hasn't spotted her yet, standing hidden in the shadows. But she sees them, indistinct in the dim light but still unmistakably Henry and Emma.
Mary Margaret waves and the duo changes direction, heading for a spot she's cleared for them on her blanket. Regina feels a twinge of envy, which just serves to make her angrier. There's not one person in the town who would invite her to share their blanket.
But Emma Swan has waltzed into town, bumbling and awkward, and has somehow stolen the hearts of everyone who's met her. Including Henry.
Stealing hearts is supposed to be Regina's business.
She glances at her watch. Two minutes to go.
This is the first year she hasn't had Henry by her side, bouncing in impatient anticipation.
Regina decides that if the show doesn't start precisely on time, she will march down to the end of the pier and give an earful to the men in charge.
But exactly two minutes later the national anthem of the United States of America begins to play from some loudspeakers scattered around the area. The crowd rises, places their hands over their hearts, and they sing.
These are the same people who used to sing songs in her honor. Some songs were worshipful, some were fearful, some were rude, but the whole populace sang them.
Regina feels a sneer twisting her lip.
When the anthem is complete the crowd settles itself, eyes turning skyward in anticipation.
Regina looks to the blanket where she'd last spotted her son, but he seems to have disappeared. Mary Margaret sits alone, but she still looks so damned happy. Smiling at people around her, glancing occasionally at the sky over the peer.
Regina steps forward and stands on her tiptoes, searching the crowd for her son. She jumps when she feels a tentative hand on her arm and turns to find the last person she wants to see.
"What do you want, Miss Swan?" Regina's voice is sharp.
Emma Swan is wearing a white t-shirt that clings to her body in all the right places, and her hair is flowing softly against her shoulders, seemingly unaffected by the heavy humidity.
Regina feels her breath catch at the sight of the blue eyes that are meeting hers tentatively. She hates anything that is out of her control, and most particularly she hates her involuntary reaction to this woman.
"Well, uh, I just thought that maybe we should all watch the fireworks together," Emma says carefully. Her hands are tucked in her back pockets which thrusts her hips out in a way that just makes Regina angrier.
"And why would you think that?" Regina may not have magic in this world, but she still has the power of her words. And she ensures that these words are laced with venom.
"Well," Emma continues slowly. "Henry was just telling me how you guys used to watch these together when he was younger. And I thought maybe you might want to continue the tradition?"
Regina is about to tell Emma that she does want to continue the tradition thank-you very much, and that tradition does not include the town's sheriff.
But at that moment the first of the fireworks break over their heads. Blue, red and green sparkles glitter in the night sky, fading away as they fall slowly towards the water.
The crowd lets out a collective sigh. Regina has to admit that the fireworks are spectacular. She would settle for nothing less than the best, of course. The town's coffers are going to feel the hit, but for tonight everyone is enraptured.
Henry's eyes are shining as he watches another group of colorful explosions. He glances up at her, joy and awe in his eyes, and he gives her a small smile. She smiles back tentatively. This is the first time he's looked at her with anything but suspicion since Mary Margaret gave him that damned book.
Yet another thing to hate Snow White for.
Regina is ready to work herself up into another bout of self-righteous anger when she feels Henry's hand slip into hers. She can see that his other hand is clasped within the sheriff's long fingers, but at the moment she can't bring herself to care.
Her eyes meet Emma's over the top of Henry's head. Emma's face is lit with a quick burst of color. As the color fades, a faint grin grows on Emma's lips. This is truce then, for the moment.
Regina's heart gives a traitorous thud in her chest and she finds herself smiling. The kind of smile she hasn't felt in a very long time. A smile that is genuine and happy.
In return, the grin on Emma's face grows wider. Her teeth are white in the dim light and her eyes sparkle. Regina thinks she's never seen anything quite so beautiful as the sheriff lit up by fireworks, a happy smile on her face.
Regina's pulse is fluttering wildly and she's struggling to breathe.
She tries and fails to bring her body back under her control. Regina hates being out of control, but for some reason that she can't quite fathom, at the moment she finds that she doesn't care.
At the moment, she finds that she's actually... happy.