"Well, I guess I'll be going home now." Emma smiled softly, standing outside the mansion door on a weekend morning. Regina stood just inside, wearing her pyjamas and a big fluffy robe. The colour was back in her skin and there was a soft smile on her face.
"Thank you for taking care of me. Really." The brunette said sincerely. "In fact, why don't you come back over tonight and I'll cook. I'll do a big meal."
"I'd like that. I'll… bring some wine."
The two stared at each other for a long while, Regina leaning heavily on the door and Emma stood with her hands in her jean pockets, shoulders hunched as they just basked in each other's gazes.
"I should uh…" The Sheriff mumbled.
"I'll see you later." The Mayor replied, biting her lip.
The blonde stumble embarrassingly away, only turning away once she'd bumped into her car on the road, blushing brightly as she unlocked it with fumbling hands. The brunette didn't close the door of her home until she couldn't see the garish yellow bug any more. Once she did, she turned and leant back against the door, biting her lip to hold back a huge grin.
Henry stood at the top of the foyer stairs in his iron man pyjamas with a raised eyebrow. "Have you kissed her yet?"
Regina blushed. "On her cheek."
The young boy just shook his head with a soft smile. "You two are acting like teenagers."
"And, pray tell, what does a ten year old know about teenagers? And why?" His mother raised an eyebrow as she made her way over to him, on her way upstairs to dress for the day.
"There's a thing called tv that you haven't been limiting my viewing of from your bed. And are you going back to work today? Cause Miss Blanchard keeps saying that Johnston or whatever his name is is doing a really terrible job."
"Jonathan Stone, honey." Regina corrected, reaching her room with him on her heels. "And yes, I'm going back to work today. How about I call Michael Tillman, and you and Ava and Nicolas can have a movie day. I'll get some snacks ready, all you'll have to do is turn the oven on."
"Really?" Henry frowned. "Are you sure? Cause…" He hesitated.
"What is it, sweetie?" The Mayor asked, getting on her knees in front of him to show him she was listening.
"I was kind of hoping that you and I could spend some time together… Just the two of us."
She grinned, hugging him. "Of course, my dear boy. What is it you'd like to do today?"
"I wanna bake melting snowman cookies for the class Christmas party tomorrow, and I wanna watch Christmas movies with you while they bake and then I want us to decorate the house."
Regina laughed; throughout her winter sickness, she'd forgotten that December had reared it's chilly head. She vaguely remembered Emma telling her she was going out to buy Henry's advent calendar.
"I would love that, Henry. Why don't you go in the kitchen and get all the ingredients out, and I'll go get the decorations from the basement?"
The little boy nodded happily, running to his room to change and wash up before rushing downstairs. His mother took her time to have a shower and call into work, claiming ill for one last day, before getting the decorations out and placing the two boxes on the dining table. Henry had a film waiting next to the television in the living room and was sitting nicely on the counter when Regina entered the kitchen.
"Ready?" She asked. He nodded eagerly. "Have you washed your hands…?" She warned. He hopped down and grabbed the stool from cupboard – one he last used this time last year to bake the same cookies with his mother.
The Mayor stood right behind her boy as they washed their hands together. Regina had to admit that she'd missed the feeling of being close to him – both emotionally and physically. It had been at the start of this year that Mary Margaret Blanchard had given him that infernal storybook. That was the time that he'd started to become distant, dinner conversation gradually lacking until they ate in silence.
And then Emma Swan had shown up. At first, Regina had felt threatened. However, since the blonde had been her personal nurse and servant, waiting on her hand and foot. At one point, Regina had a blocked nose and sore throat, waxy ears… Emma had – quite literally – carried her into the bathtub and drawn the curtain, letting the steam unclog her sinuses.
The woman was pulled from her daydreams and memories by Henry, tugging on her arm. "Mom. Mom!"
"Oh, sorry sweetie. I was lost in my thoughts." She smiled down at him, moving his stool over to the island where he had neatly arranged all the ingredients in order of use around the mixing bowl.
Two hours later, Henry and Regina were snuggled on the sofa, both watching 'Elf' intently and laughing together. By the time Emma arrived for dinner, the kitchen was full of cookies and cakes: melting snowmen; Christmas present cupcakes; Santa cookies; reindeer cookies… There was even a full display of Santa in his sleigh, being pulled by reindeer – lovingly and artistically decorated by Henry, of course.
Regina opened the door wearing a tight red dress, having dressed up for dinner in her own home. "Good evening, Emma." She said softly.
Emma had been pushed and pulled into her only suit by Mary Margaret, who insisted it was a date even though Henry would be with them, and she fixed her tie awkwardly as the door opened to reveal Regina looking more beautiful than the blonde had ever seen her.
"Wow…" She mumbled in reply to the other woman, before shaking her head. "I mean… Hi. Evening. You look… wow."
The brunette giggled a little, opening the door wider. "Come on in. Dinner's on the table."
That evening, after the dinner plates had been cleared away, Emma and Regina cuddled up together on the sofa. Emma sat at one end of the sofa with Regina cuddled into her side, a pale arm around slightly tan shoulders. Henry was at the other end, having fallen asleep during their movie-watching.
"I'll carry the kid up to bed." The blonde whispered, kissing Regina's cheek as she stood. She came back down a few minutes later – Henry had woken and pleaded a story from her – and just stood in front of Regina for a while.
"We're alone." The brunette whispered.
"Yeah…" The Sheriff glanced at the clock on the mantelpiece. "I… I guess I should head home."
"You're leaving already? I… I thought we could… Y'know. Have some fun." The Mayor said hopefully.
Emma sat down by her side again. "I'd love to, but-"
"But you don't like me like that." Regina cut in, staring down at her hands.
"It's not that at all. I do like you like that. I think you're beautiful, and hell if I don't wanna see what's under that dress then there's something wrong with me, but… I don't want us to rush into things. I don't want us to sleep together and then have everything… stop. I don't want this to be just sex, I want-"
"A relationship." The brunette finished. Her counterpart nodded. She thought for a moment. After Daniel, after her loveless marriage… could she do it? Could she handle it?
"I'll just go. But I'll call you tomorrow?"
"No." Regina mumbled. "Don't go… I just. I need to think about things. I want to be able to tell you if I think I'm capable of a relationship or not, and I want to work that out as soon as possible. So don't go."
"I don't want to rush you. I don't want to force you. Take your time, Regina."
Regardless of her words, Emma didn't move from her seat. She was quite happy to stay at the woman's request.
The brunette sat back, staring into space, lost deep in her thoughts. "I think I can do it. But give me time."
The Sheriff smiled softly and put her arm around the woman again. "Another movie, or?"
"No. Let's cut tonight off here, it's good here." The two stood, walking towards the door. "I'll call you tomorrow? Maybe we can go out somewhere, you and me."
"I'd like that." Emma smiled, stopping on the doorstep like she had that morning.
Again, they stared at each other for a while. After what felt like hours, Regina finally leant in and briefly pressed their lips together. "Goodnight, Miss Swan."
"Goodnight, Miss Mills…" The sheriff whispered breathlessly, her eyes still closed. She heard the door close and finally opened her eyes, grinning. "I'm gonna be dating Regina Mills."