"One Step at a Time"

Emma had sneakily and unceremoniously sat Regina down for a heart to heart after she had given her the birthday wish. It had seemed almost natural to open and share with Emma. Regina had always avoided revealing any part of herself that would hurt or give someone else a chance to hurt her, but she had reached rock bottom. She was lonely, and Emma was looking at her with such warmth and compassion. Her head felt buzzed from the sugar rush, and she had been crying so much her eyes burned.

Regina had asked, "How could you ever give him up?"

Emma took a long time, quietly trying to erase the stain on her jacket sleeve, before answering, "I couldn't. Not really. I felt I had no choice, and when you take away your choice? Well, decisions become easier."

"I see," Regina murmured pushing her plate away. She looked up at Emma with such pleading in her eyes, "How do I get him back?"

….

2 Weeks Later…

"I want a new horse; this one is broken," Emma's horse twisted and neighed heading off on its own while Emma bounced stiffly in her saddle.

Once they had the horse saddled and her bridle in place, Regina helped Henry up onto his horse, and then effortlessly swung up behind him, placing her hands over his where he loosely held the reins.

"Stay relaxed, she can sense your fear- just look at Emma," Regina said softly as they both watched Emma with amusement as she continued to have difficulty.

Regina and Henry shared a chuckle as Emma darted by yelling "Whoa!" as the horse kept cantering in the riding pen, speeding by in fun, fast circles.

"Gramps wouldn't even let me on the horse. This is cool," Henry was enthusiastic as Regina reached up and smoothed his slightly ruffled hair, looking down at him with utter devotion.

"You need to get on the horse to learn how to ride it, dear. Ready?" Regina smiled brightly and gave the reins a quick pull the horse walked forward.

"Yeah!"

"We'll just go slow so you can get feel for it, and we'll be sure to stay out of Emma and Sancho's way," Regina felt Henry tense when the horse increased her pace and his hands grabbed the reins tightly under Regina's palms.

"Nothing bad will happen," Regina promised in a soothing tone, and to her surprise Henry relaxed instantly.

Henry turned his face up to meet her eyes, "I know. You're really good with horses. I trust you."

"Looking good!" Emma whistled approvingly as Henry sat up, proud and a bit more confident.

"Wish we could say the same," Regina remarked, quirking an eyebrow as Emma lumbered by in jolting starts and stops.

"Hey, I'm just getting used to it. I don't have a master horsewoman sitting behind me to show me how to drive one of these things," Emma called back, as she attempted to even out her saddle that had slid to the right, slipping down the side of the horse.

"I hardly doubt that would make much difference, Ms. Swan, but if you'd like I'd be happy to sit with you and help you…steer… next time," Regina's tone was playful and flirty as the two women locked eyes for a moment, before Emma's horse took off again, and she had to put a hand on her head to keep her cowgirl hat in place as she was jerked away.

"Now Henry, shall we go fast for a spell?" Regina asked wickedly, directing the horse through the gate and into the open pasture.

"Okay," He replied slightly unsure.

They took off into a trot at first, ignoring Emma's fading call of, "Wait for me! Just a second!"

Regina saw the smile and joy on Henry's face. She whipped the reins and sent the horse into a full heart-pounding gallop across the meadow as they laughed in exhilaration.

….