Emma didn't know what to think. Her best friend had just hugged her and told her that what Henry said was true. She had teary eyes… and Emma… she couldn't help but believe her. And she couldn't deal with that. So, she ran from their apartment. She ran all the way to the mansion then stood outside the doorway for about five minutes before, like magic, Regina came to the door and opened it.
She stood in the doorframe with knowing smile, "Miss Swan… won't you come in?"
As soon as they stepped through the threshold, Emma had Regina pressed against the door as it slammed closed—this wasn't what Regina thought was going to happen…
Emma was so confused. She didn't know whether to punch her or kiss her. They had been together for a while now, and things had been getting… weird in the town, but oh-so-good for them.
But with Mary Margaret's admission… shit just got real.
She pressed into Regina harder, pinning her so that she couldn't move, "It's true isn't it?"
Regina played it off the best she could. She ignored the tingling in her spine alerting her of just how close Emma was, "What are you talking about?"
"It's true, isn't it?" She growled.
Regina stared at her. Over the course of their relationship, she had learned that she couldn't lie to Emma… and even when she tried, Emma's 'superpower' always knew. She may never have said anything, but the look in Emma's eyes, she saw the pain Emma held at being lied to once more, and she always told her the truth anyways.
She laid her head back against the door and looked at her as the one and only tear she would shed—for all of this—fell down her face, "Yes."
"You did all of this… You..you took me away from my family, you trapped everyone and took their memories for what? For… for revenge?" Regina didn't answer. She only swallowed the visible lump formed in her throat. "God DAMN IT!" Emma pushed off of her and yelled as loud as she could in the foyer as she fell to her knees and broke completely.
During the first deep, ragged breath Emma took, Regina pushed off the door and took one tentative baby step forward. She tilted her head to see Emma's profile. During the second deep, ragged breath Emma took, the blonde brought a shaking hand up to her nose to wipe then held it for a moment before pulling it against her stomach. At the third deep, ragged breath, Regina walked closer to her. She stepped fully to Emma's side so the blonde could see her.
The brunette was acting as though Emma was a wild animal and didn't know if she would pounce or not. She put a tentative hand up as she knelt down to her knees. She cautiously scooted closer and closer. She didn't know if Emma would in fact try to pounce even though she was trying to calm her… or because of it. And finally, Emma took one more big, deep, ragged breath, the tears flowing freely, and Regina couldn't take it anymore. She wrapped her arms around her and held her close.
"You know what the worst part about all of this is?" Emma asked finally as she fell into Regina's hold… she snuggled even.
"Hmm?" Regina grunted her question lowly, leaned forward and placed her chin over the crown of Regina's head.
"You did it all without even batting an eye. You knew exactly what to do, what to say… You made me fall in love with you and you… you don't even care… You're protecting yourself by hurting me and it's all for what? For revenge… Have you not had enough yet? Is it an addiction now?" Regina leaned down. She kissed Emma's cheek, "See? Every fucking gesture… it's so right… and it makes me feel like it will be okay, but it won't! It won't because you don't care." She swallowed hard, "Tell me did you laugh when you heard I got knocked up at 18? Did you realize you could destroy us even more if you adopted him?"
"No." Regina said.
"No?" Emma turned her head a little, her tone both indignant and stupefied.
"NO!" Regina said sternly. She pressed her forehead against the blonde's and inhaled, "I didn't even know who you were until Gold made me realize that he hand-picked Henry for a reason…" She pulled away and looked at her, "And believe me… Loving you was the last thing on my mind… it didn't even cross it."
"You don't love me." Emma mumbled with a sniffle, "I'm just a fucking pawn in this game… I've already been checked and taken off the board."
"Look at me." Regina tilted her face so that they were staring each other in the eyes, "I do love you… no matter what you think… or what anyone else tells you… I do love you." She had never spoken those words first… she had never spoken without expecting a response in kind… Now, in this moment, she didn't care if Emma returned the feelings; she just needed her to know how serious she was.
Emma stared into those deep orbs. She could literally feel the truth radiating from Regina… and that only made her want to cry more. She turned into the woman more and let more tears fall.
"I want you to know… If I had thought for one second that I would fall in love with you… I never would have done it because… seeing you… like this…" Regina shook her head. She didn't continue… She couldn't actually because the fate that was to come, should everything pan out was unbearable… and at this point, she knew words didn't matter anymore as she took in Emma's face.
They just stared into the truly depressing depths of each other until finally, Regina decided they should move, should their son find them both a heap on the floor. She picked up her darling Emma and brought her to her bedroom.
Emma knew there was something Regina wasn't telling her. It was hours later when she finally spoke again though. The sun was rising and the birds were chirping… and all Emma wanted to do was curl into her evil queen more and fall asleep.
"Regina?" Emma looked up at her.
"Yes my darling?" Regina ran her fingers in Emma's hair then down her back.
"What you're not telling me…" She propped herself up on her stomach and looked over to the woman who moved to lie on her back, "It's bad isn't it?"
Regina blinked rapidly for a moment before opting to just close her eyes. "Yes." She spoke softly.
"The worst fate anyone could think up. Worse than what I did to everyone.. worse for me." Regina opened her eyes once more, "And you… but most of all Henry." She swallowed hard.
"What is it?" Emma asked as she reached out and touched her cheek.
"When the curse fully breaks… Everything will go back to how it was before as if nothing changed. You're parents will have just had their daughter… they'll get to raise her and cherish her the way she was meant to be originally. Rumpel will go back to his cage, and I… I'm sure will lose my life… because I will have already lost my heart." She blinked rapidly again.
"Reginait'sokaytocry." Emma said it all together in one word as her own tears started to flow before she jerked, pausing suddenly as she blinked the tears back in, "So wait… if I'm a baby again, where does that put Henry?"
"He ceases to exist."
"What do we have to do?" Belle asked Rumpel as they all gathered in the private back of the shop. "There has to be a way this can be fixed…" Her accent thickened with worry.
"We have to stay here… We can't go back."
"Is there a choice?" Emma asked, "I mean… it's kind of a 'the curse breaks or it doesn't' kind of thing, is it not?" She was getting antsy and Regina put a hand on her knee to calm her. Emma turned and looked at the brunette… the woman clearly remembered something, or knew something that she didn't.
"Are you planning what I think you're planning?" Her face was cautious, but also a bit of excitement was held in her features.
"I don't really see another way around it, do you, Your Majesty?" He asked.
"What is it?" Emma looked between the two powerful beings.
Regina turned to her love, "I'm sure you've heard, or read the saying, 'All magic comes at a price?'" Emma nodded, "Well, that's true… but with a curse as powerful as this there are loopholes to it's breaking…"
The blonde's brows knit, and she looked over to Belle, "Do you have any idea what they're talking about?"
"No…" Belle shook her head, "I find that as long as magic is involved, I'm usually kept out of it."
"This curse's loophole is simple, really." Rumpel said.
"The only thing we have to do is convince the town to want to stay here…" Regina provided, "That… and Rumpelstilskin and I have to be spared so that we can cast another spell ensuring life in Storybrooke for a long while…"
"Oh, right… because convincing the town to forgive it's two most wanted villains and staying in an unfamiliar place will be so easy…" She rolled her eyes and looked over at her friend, "Belle… I'm gonna need your help."
"Ruby…" Emma greeted as she and Belle walked into the diner, "Red…Let me ask you a question…"
Ruby looked at her, "What did you just call me?"
"Oh come on, Red…" Emma grinned, "I know who you are…" Red only swallowed and looked around, "Can I ask my question now?"
"What Emma?" Red leaned over the counter, telling her to keep it down.
"Which life is better? This one, or the one where you hide from the moon every time it gets round? This one, where a person is allowed more than one true love or the one where you ate your only shot at happiness?"
Ruby pulled away, tears in her eyes, "Why are you asking me this?"
"Because I need to know." Emma placed a reassuring hand over the other brunette's.
"Jiminy… You can't honestly tell me that you love being a grasshopper more than you love being a man that does everything his inner grasshopper does…"
Jiminy looked up at the woman before him, then back down at his notes as he took in her words.
"Grumpy…" Emma leaned against her side of the cell after she locked him up nice and cozy for the night, "You know here… you have a chance with her… Nun or not, you two belong together and if you can't be together as fairy and dwarf, why not two normal, everyday, not fantastical people?" She patted the bar her hand had been grasping, "Think about it."
"Yes, but Nova… here, there are no powers, and even if somehow we get them, which we all know is possible, we won't have them for long… Regina and Rumpel will use it to keep us here…" Belle tried for about the hundredth time to get to the former fairy. She remembered what Emma told her she said to Grumpy, and as Nova walked down the hall, Belle yelled, "You'll be able to be together here if you stay!"
That stopped the woman dead in her tracks.
They convinced as many people as they could, showing them that Storybrooke isn't all curse… that there are good parts. "Think about indoor plumbing." Emma would say before she'd knit her brows and add, "I know I've used that somewhere else, but still… think about it… think about how much easier life is here than it is there, think about how much more you get to see the people you love... how fast travel is… everything!"
She was actually feeling pretty good about herself… she'd convinced more than half of the town at this point. She was giddy as she walked, a jaunt had been added to her step actually… at least it had been until she looked up from the road and saw Mary Margaret and David…err… Mom and Dad… We'll just call them M and D for now…
She stopped walking once she got a few feet from them. They were holding onto each other like their sanity depended on it.
"Why are you doing this?" D asked.
"Because I have to."
"But if we go back… everything can be how it's supposed to." M replied.
"No… I don't believe that. If we go back. I'm gonna be a baby again…"
"Yes! And we will get to raise you and be real parents—" M started.
"AND I WILL NEVER BE HAPPY!" Emma screamed, "You're too late… it's all too late! The evil queen makes me happy. I have two homes and a family here… I used to be lucky to have a safe place to sleep for the night! Here I have people I love… I have a happy ending… and above all of that… I have Henry. You remember him, right?" She cocked her head and asked sarcastically, "Outstandingly smart eleven-year-old boy who brought me here, and is the only reason I stayed…"
It was at this that M understood what Emma was saying without actually saying it, "Oh Emma… Henry won't be back there…"
"Exactly. Which is why I have to convince everyone to stay here… And it'd be really helpful if Snow White and Prince Charming could help me out…" She shrugged as she looked up at them. They only closed the distance and hugged her together.
Five years later:
Regina had retired from being in charge of the town. She left that to David and Mary Margaret, who still taught fifth grade. She decided her powers were best served elsewhere. She opened a bakery and her apple goods were always sold out by the end of the day.
She was glad that on this day she had kept an apple turnover hidden. Just as the oven dinged and the turnover begged to be released from the hot clutches, the bell to the bakery opened.
"Baby?" Emma called from the front.
Regina grinned as she pulled the turnover from the oven and placed it on a plate. She four forks and walked out of the kitchen to see her son and his girlfriend, her wife and the twins… Regina and Rumpel both had enough magic to spare after re-creating the curse for one more fantastical creation… Regina, after saving her magic until she and her blonde savior were ready, were given Brayleigh and Jenson from hers. It was by magic that Regina got pregnant, it was a miracle that it was twins.
She smiled as she walked over to them, "Hello my darling." She kissed her wife after she set the plate and forks down.
"Hey baby." Emma grinned as she wrapped her arms around Regina.
The twins, both awake saw their mommy and started cooing and reaching out for her from their double stroller. She smiled and reached down for Brayleigh as Emma grabbed Jenson.
They all settled around the table and ate the turnover. After a few moments, Emma kicked her wife under the table, "Happy anniversary." She mouthed.
Regina leaned over and kissed her once more, "Happy anniversary." She said as she pulled back.
Emma grinned before turning her attention to her youngest son and started playing with him. She saw movement from the shop window and looked up to find Rumpel and Belle walking the sidewalk with their three-year-old Rylee Maye. She was all Belle in the looks and already had her father's brain… a dangerous, but amazing power. Rumpel had saved his little magic as well… until he learned that he and Belle were expecting and he quickly healed his leg so he could run around after the child once it was with them… and run he did. He was always chasing after Rylee.
After swooping Rylee in the air, both Rumpel and Belle having a hand of their daughter, Belle looked into the dimly lit, closed bakery and caught her friend's eye. They both shared a smile that only the two of them could ever understand before they had rounded the building and were gone.
Emma looked around at the table once more, Yup… this is definitely the right choice… this choice I made for love.