Disclaimer: I don't own anything.
A/N: I wrote this very quickly because, of course, I had a lot of shipper feelings. Enjoy!
There it was, sitting atop Regina's desk, a work of art in velvet and silk. Emma halted. Her breath hitched for a moment while her eyes swept over the ebony brim and burnt orange interior of the top hat. She felt her heart quicken its pace, the reality sinking in, the weight of this revelation settling heavily into her chest.
It's real, she thought. That bastard wasn't kidding.
Emma took a few steadying breaths. She felt her hands shaking and couldn't do anything to quell the indescribable emotion that made heat crawl into her face. The least she could manage at the sight of the beautifully crafted top hat was a crooked smile, her head titling to the side.
"It's the hat," she whispered, words colored with astonishment and childlike wonder, "It's Jefferson's hat."
Regina's brow furrowed. "Who's Jefferson?"
Emma's smile did not fade. Instead, for a moment, she let the world around her fade away. She pictured a pair of stormy blue eyes and the truth that was set deep within them—the truth Jefferson had tried so hard to get her to see. She remembered him and the loneliness that had seeped into every corner of his house, the desperation of his actions against her. Emma had been so stubborn then. She hadn't believed then—in the curse or herself.
But she hadn't forgotten about Jefferson. He saw her in a way no one else could. They were alike; lonely souls who had cast themselves onto the frayed ends of society, always searching for a connection to their loved ones but never close enough to grasp them. Afraid. Terrified of what changing the state of things might mean for them and their children. Jefferson had seen right through her and Emma couldn't let him go.
It was difficult to forget someone who could make you bear your soul, if only for a few moments.
It was difficult to push someone from your mind when they had such a tight hold.
He had opened her eyes. He was the spark that started it all. His hat, his magic, his words…all of it was real. The realization made Emma's stomach flutter.
All right, Jefferson, Emma thought, you win.