It's a strange, strange day when being magically teleported is not the weirdest thing happening to Emma.
But after the past few weeks? She has definitely started to reevaluate her definition of 'strange', making it the latest term on a long, long list.
The landing isn't one that would thrill a gymnastics judge, and Emma isn't quite sure of what state they're in when they hit carpeted floor, other than her already bruised body is pretty unhappy about it, and Regina is clinging on to her like a life preserver.
"Ow?" She ventures, with her eyes still squeezed shut. "Do I still have everything... you know, attached?"
Regina mutters something about 'ungrateful' but briskly pats Emma's arms and legs to check for damage. "You're intact," she says a moment later, and even without looking Emma can sense the relief in those words.
"Why are we in your bedroom?" Emma asks on opening her eyes, taking in the muted gray silks and soft white cotton.
"How do you know this is my bedroom?" Regina snaps, and she pulls away from Emma in an instant, defenses raised.
"Because I'm the Sheriff?" Emma tries. Regina's stony expression suggests she is unmoved. "Or maybe because a couple of times when you were out, Henry made me help him search the house. You know, for clues."
"To prove that I was the Evil Queen?" Regina says, crossing her arms over her chest.
"I don't think you can get all sniffy about that when it turns out that you, you know, iare/i," Emma points out, trying not to think too hard about all the stories she's heard from the terrified subjects left in the Enchanted Forest.
"I suppose all your mother-daughter bonding time has finished the job of turning you against me?" Regina asks, apparently forgetting they were just making out against a wall.
"Speaking of mothers..." Emma has no idea how to approach this particular clusterfuck of a topic.
"Henry is safe as long as she doesn't know about him," Regina says, crossing to her closet and flicking through some clothes with a bored expression. "You should shower. And change."
"About that. And Henry," Emma presses, feeling like she's eight and just got caught breaking the kitchen window again. "It's uh, it's possible that Cora knows about him."
"What?" Regina snaps, and she crosses the space between them so quickly that magic has to be involved. The air is practically crackling with it, like late at night on the Fourth of July when the last of the fireworks is about to be lit.
"Before I knew who she was," Emma explains, raising her hands in something like self-defense. "I may have let slip that we share a son. And that his name is Henry. And, uh, that I left him here with you." The last part trails off into a shamefaced whisper. Snow has forgiven the slip, although Emma's made plenty more to distract her. Regina looks so angry that it's a real possibility her head might actually explode.
Until, that is, the anger gives way to something much, much worse.
Emma's seen Regina face down a dying son, a braying mob and a swoopy thing in a cape that wanted to suck her soul. But Emma has never seen Regina look this terrified.
"Wait here," Regina says after a moment. Her voice sounds like a little girl trying to be bossy, and her hand trembles as she pushes her hair out of her eyes. "Shower, change; eat, if you're hungry."
"Where are you going?" Emma asks, although it's obvious. It's a habit she can't seem to kick around these strange people.
"To bring Henry here, where I can keep him safe. There are protections on the house," Regina explains, raising both hands to perform the necessary magic. Shit, it has to be bad if she can't risk the five-minute drive.
"Wait!" Emma cries out. "You have to bring them, too. My parents."
"Why?" Regina demands.
"Because one, they won't let you just take Henry without me. And two, if your mom is as bad as everyone says... I don't want her torturing them to get to you. She already threw Mary Margaret around with her magic. And me."
"Fine," Regina sighs, but she doesn't look happy about the compromise. Maybe evil tyrants don't have to compromise, but mothers and... well, Emma doesn't know that Regina's anything in relation to her, but that seems like a thing where compromise might potentially happen, too.
She doesn't get a chance to argue any further, though, because Regina's gone in another dramatic puff of smoke.
Trying to shove the panic to the back of her mind, Emma trudges towards the bathroom. The prospect of finally feeling clean again is too tempting to resist.
The shower feels so good she actually cries for a few minutes. When she reluctantly steps out and dries herself briskly on fluffy towels, Emma can hear sounds of commotion downstairs. She pauses, listens, and determines that it's simply the noise of expected people returning, not an invasion.
Regina mentioned clean clothes, but nothing in the ordered rows of the closets look particularly comfortable. Wrapped in a towel, Emma rummages in the ordered drawers until she finds a pair of black yoga pants that are just about long enough, and she layers up a sports bra that gives at least some support, a plain gray tee and the least expected item ever from the end of the rails: a black hoody.
It probably shouldn't be surprising that Regina has stacks of underwear-no, lingerie-still in bags with tags overflowing in the drawers, but Emma clutches at the plainest panties she can find, hoping this won't be an argument she has to have later in front of her parents. Despite their slight physical differences, Regina's clothes feel comfortable enough, and in a last-minute moment of madness, Emma swipes the perfume bottle from the dressing table to spritz and remind her exactly who all these things belong to.
Having finished her bathroom routine, Emma rubs some moisturizer into her face as she takes a final look in the bathroom mirror. She smells like Regina, but even in her clothes doesn't quite look like her, and that will have to be enough for now. Hopefully Mary Margaret will have insisted on bringing some things, anyway.
Emma bounces downstairs with surprising energy; she really is looking forward to seeing Henry. When she strolls into the sitting room that raised voices spill out of, she's stunned to see Regina slumped in an armchair, eyes barely open.
"What the hell?" Emma demands, rushing to Regina's side. Even Henry hangs back, still clutching his damn book. Emma's going to have to sit him down sometime soon and tell him at least some of the heinous crap his pictures and pretty words left out.
"She just... slumped," Henry says, his expression concerned, at least.
"You should have called me!" Emma snaps at him, ignoring the way it makes his lower lip tremble. She's promised herself every hour in the Enchanted Forest that she would give him a perfect life, if only she could get back to him. Now, in the harsh light of day, Emma considers her spoiled little prince might need something of a reality check. "Go get a cloth from the bathroom. Soak it, then wring it out, okay?"
"I don't have a fever," Regina murmurs. "'sausted," she finishes weakly.
"Too much magic?" Emma queries. Regina nods, but it's little more than a dip of her chin by an inch. "What should I do?"
"Blanket," Regina says, opening one eye to look towards the sofa. Emma decides to go one better, bodily lifting Regina and laying her out on that more comfortable space. Emma props a pillow under Regina's head and wraps her snugly in the throw pulled from the back of the sofa; it's some strange parody of tucking someone in for the night.
"Kitchen," Emma says sternly to the other three when Regina's eyes close fully. "Now."
"She was fine when we got here," David protests. "It's only when she started throwing spells all over the house that she started to get like this."
"It's true, Mom," Henry chimes in. That's more than Emma can take.
"My name is Emma, kid. Your mom is next door, half-dead from trying to protect us all," Emma says, and this time the tears actually spill from Henry's eyes. She feels like a monster, but at the same time doesn't know how to help it.
"Regina said we should be safe," Mary Margaret says, moving towards the fridge like she's been visiting the Mayoral mansion every day of her life. "Before she started to feel ill. So we wait, I guess."
"We're going to fight, as soon as we can," David says, lifting his chin like he's actually a King or something. Emma's stomach turns over again at the thought that, technically, he kind of is. She's consumed by another wave of trying to fold a bunch of Disney crap into her actual life when she sees the badge glinting at his hip.
"Hey!" Emma snaps, tired beyond belief now. "That's my badge."
"Just keeping it warm for you," David says, with a warm smile that Emma can't help but like. He unclips the badge and hands it over, patting her on the shoulder with his other hand. "The town missed you, though. I'm not sure I'm quite as practiced at keeping this kind of peace."
"Uh, thanks," Emma says awkwardly, grateful for Mary Margaret's interruption from where she's now set up shop by the stove.
"We need to eat," Emma's mother says, in that stern and loving tone she's become so used to. "I brought some things, and I'm going to have a long bath. If we must be stuck here, we may as well enjoy the facilities."
"What do you need, my love?" David asks, and Emma feels kind of nauseated.
"The soup is warming," Snow says with a nod to a large pot. "If you and Emma can handle sandwiches without losing any fingers..."
"Yeah," Emma says, shrugging as she moves towards the fresh loaf of bread and packets of ham and cheese. "Henry will show you where everything is, I guess."
"Come on, grandma!" Henry says excitedly, pulling Snow back out into the hallway. "You can see my room, too."
"You're on soup duty," Emma says to her father, because letting an oppressive silence take hold is more than she can handle right now. She unwraps a packet of ham, and gets to work.
Regina comes stumbling into the dining room an hour later, smiling softly at Henry for a moment before glaring at the mess they've made of her once spotless table.
"Sit," Snow says firmly, every bit the mother in the room. "Henry, come help me make up a plate for... for your Mom."
"I'm not hungry," Regina says, sitting heavily in the chair at the head of the table. Her fingers are flexing seemingly without her notice, and she's watching David warily as he polishes off another little triangle sandwich, his chair turned around for him to straddle like they're in a bar and not a dining room that looks like something out of the White House.
"How are you?" Emma asks, and it might be the kindest she's ever felt towards Regina.
"Tired," Regina snaps, because what's the point in goodwill if she can't burn right through it. "Has there been any sign of-"
"Nope," David answers, nodding towards the pile of swords in the corner, joined by a crossbow and a couple of other basic weapons. "And we'll be ready when she does."
"Charming," Regina sighs, pinching the bridge of her nose. "That bravado might have impressed the simple folk, and perhaps the occasional sheep, but my mother is a sorceress the likes of which you have never seen."
"What's the worst she can do?" Charming asks, determined to underestimate another Mills woman. "Curse us all to Maine for the best part of three decades and rob us of a relationship with our daughter?"
Emma drops her spoon at that, her second helping of soup almost done with anyway.
"Uh, guys, could we maybe not-"
"Charming, listen to Regina," Snow interrupts from the doorway, marching briskly across the room to lay a tray in front of Regina. The bowl of soup is steaming and the sandwiches are stacked haphazardly, but Emma catches the gleam in Regina's eye at the prospect of some food. It seems she's still willing to lie just to spite them all, and Emma sighs inwardly at the thought. Not for the first time, she realizes how big a mess all of this is.
"Yeah," Emma joins in as a voice of support. "Like Snow told me, Cora is ten times worse than Regina. No offense," she tacks on as an afterthought.
"Oh, none taken," Regina replies, rolling her eyes before grabbing a sandwich from the pile. "You have the benefit of being right, for once," she adds, taking a dainty bite.
"She killed Lancelot," Mary Margaret says sadly, and there's that haunted shadow flitting across her face again, causing David to reach for her hand.
"Really? He was a brave knight," David says, sounding every bit as sad. "He married us, you know," he says for Emma's benefit.
"I know," Emma says, because during the long nights of the Enchanted Forest, sometimes storytelling was the only way left to pass the time.
"I didn't know that," Regina says softly, and Henry is the one who squeaks in surprise at that. "So you mean to say, my big entrance, my disruption of your wedding feast... it was already done?"
"Yup," Mary Margaret says, taking her seat next to Charming, opposite Emma. "You didn't ruin our wedding day, sorry."
"Only you would apologize for that," Regina mutters, attacking her soup with real enthusiasm now. "But we must make a plan. My mother won't be deterred for long."
"Not just yet," Emma says, looking to Henry for support. "You need to rest more. We want your batteries fully charged before you take her on."
"Why are you so sure that's my plan?" Regina asks, the ghost of a smile tugging at the corners of her mouth. Her spoon is stilled as she awaits an answer. "I notice you didn't say 'we'."
"Oh, we're going to help. But I know this much about you, Regina: you might be a bitch? But you're a surprisingly noble one. You'll take her on by yourself to stop anyone else getting hurt by her."
"Why would I mind other people getting hurt?" Regina asks, voice lilting just a little in mockery.
"Oh, by Rumple or an ogre, maybe you wouldn't lift a finger," Emma continues, feeling quite sure of herself. "But this is too personal."
"You have to stay safe," Regina says quietly. "Because when she defeats me, Henry will need a mother."
"And we can work all of this out in the morning," Snow says, nodding towards the fading light. "I know I, for one, would like to spend some fun time with Henry instead of talking about death and doom."
"But my mother-" Regina starts to insist.
"Has made no move yet. She might be having, uh, trouble with her magic too," David says and an unspoken argument plays out between him and Regina, one Emma can't hope to follow. "And she'll want at least one alliance here before coming after you, surely?"
"Possibly," Regina admits through gritted teeth. She pushes the tray away, whether because her hunger is sated or out of spite, it's impossible to tell. "I am tired."
"Mom, is it okay..."
"Spend some time with your family, Henry," Regina says, and there's no mistaking the tightness of her voice and the glistening in those dark eyes. "Emma will want to hear all about your adventures."
"Oh man, you gotta hear about the snakes," Henry jumps in, full of childish glee.
"Vipers," Regina and David correct in unison, before looking away, embarrassed.
"I'm going to rest some more, upstairs," Regina says, delivering the news like a Royal command. "There are guest rooms, you can arrange yourselves. And food... well, whatever."
"Thank you," Emma says, and she's completely sincere. That alone seems to catch Regina off-guard, but after a moment she stands and makes her way out of the room on stiff legs.
"Okay," David says with too much enthusiasm to be plausible. "Henry, as the man of this house, you're in charge. What shall we do for the rest of the evening?"
"Can we show M-Emma-and Grandma our swordfighting?" Henry says, practically bouncing in his chair.
"Wooden swords, I hope," Mary Margaret reprimands, but her eyes are dancing in a way that makes Emma happy just to see it. There's still a strange feeling to it all, like being a square peg in a round hole, but her edges are slowly wearing away.
"Then you can teach me," Emma says, trying to sound like an encouraging mother. "Because it turns out? Guns really don't work on fairytale monsters."
Henry leads them out towards a comfortable den, and Emma tries not to think about the woman upstairs, alone.
"Hey," Emma says, peering through the almost complete darkness of the room.
"Can I help you?" Regina says from somewhere in a pile of pillows, and it sounds so far beyond weary that Emma slumps just hearing it.
"Would it be okay if... I mean, I have a room and my parents think I'm sleeping in there, but..." Emma lets the sentence hang in the air, unfinished and unsure even of her own intentions.
"If you're looking for that second round-" Regina begins, but Emma strides across the bedroom floor to interrupt.
"No!" Emma insists. "I mean, I still want to. That, for whatever reason, just hasn't changed. But I kind of wanted to just be in the general area, you know?"
"Why, Miss Swan," Regina says, sitting up suddenly to really drive the mockery home. "Anyone would think you missed me."
"Might have," Emma says, hands on her hips and scuffing a kick into the carpet like a teenager caught sneaking out. "But like I said, I found a perfectly good guest room."
"Oh for Gods' sakes," Regina huffs, pulling the sheets back with a dramatic flourish. "Get in."
"I knew you'd beg me eventually," Emma smirks, pausing only to kick off the borrowed slippers. She feels constricted already in these silk pajamas, but wandering around the house in her skivvies might have drawn a little too much attention.
"This might be the last night of peace for some time," Regina says as they lay down, the gulf between them seemingly even bigger than when Emma stood clear across the room. "We may not even make it until morning without some interruption."
"Then I guess that's how it goes," Emma says, enjoying the softness of cool cotton against her cheek. Despite her better judgment, she reaches a hand across to caress Regina's cheek. Regina's eyes slip closed and a quiet murmur of something between encouragement and maybe even happiness slips out into the stillness of the room. "I don't want to be anywhere else tonight."
"Not even back in the Enchanted Forest, dear?" Regina asks, eyes opening to reveal sudden, blazing curiosity. "After all, you've seen where you come from, now."
"Don't," Emma insists. "Because if I think about that wrecked nursery and all those people, living like the world already ended..."
"We need to talk about it at some point," Regina warns. "There are things I need to know, things we all need to discuss. No matter how painful that might be."
"I know," Emma sighs, feeling the familiar kick of rebellion course through her. "So let's just have one last night before it all goes to hell again? Please."
"Before you let yourself get back to hating me?" Regina asks, but this time she's the one reaching for Emma.
"Maybe," Emma admits, and when Regina kisses her, at least one of them is already crying.