A/N: English is not my native language and I hereby apologize for any inconvenience that may bring. On the plus side, this fic contains fluff. (Have I bribed you yet?)
Emma never liked books. Emma despised most kinds of written text, really, unless it contained the word 'donuts', 'free' or 'chocolate', preferably all at once. It had begun in the early stages of her youth; the first step were instruction booklets, those nasty, self-righteous concentrates of papery hell that always told her what to do, when to do it, how to do it and what to never do when you're doing it. Those were the only readable materials she had unconditional access to as a little child - usually she would pick them up at the nurses' station in hospitals as her health or 'suitability for adoption' (whatever the hell that meant) was being checked for the hundredth time - and she either didn't understand the majority of the words they presented or processing the letters took way more time than she was willing to sacrifice before moving onto another object that piqued her interest at the moment.
But what ruined books for Emma completely were the ever dreaded harbingers of destruction - schoolbooks. Schoolbooks, the ultimate vessels of evil, she had decided. Those god-forsaken, omnipresent, irritating rectangular things that her future depended on, and which continuously demanded she pay attention to them as they explained places she would never go, organisms she would never see, systems she would never be part of and events she would never witness, all the things that meant the littlest to her in the whole wide world but were, for some reason, considered to be important.
That wasn't all, though. The final nail in the coffin came with the addition of the so-called mandatory books - thousands of pages of works by Hugo, Dostoyevsky, Chekhov, Flaubert, Lawrence, Hemingway and dozens and dozens of others. Emma tried at first, she truly did. She would go to the school library (if the school had one) and dive head first into The Hunchback of Notre-Dame only to find herself dozing off three paragraphs into a description of Paris - a city she would never see - and her mind went elsewhere in an instant, leaving her hands alone to take turns with the book, page by boring page. She would wake up with gum in her hair and her shoelaces tied together. Then she would have to go kick Billy Pilgrim's soon-to-be sorry ass in a fit of rage, get herself suspended, and never see the damn book again. In light of such experiences, teachers would take every opportunity to describe in vivid detail just where she would end up if she refused to read any longer.
A year or two later, Henry happened, brought the book with him and launched a proverbial armageddon of events wreaking havoc in her life.
Books. Few words carried a more vigorous scent of scorn tinted with a lifetime of failure than plain books.
Which is why, since her involvement with Regina, Emma could not not regress back into that part of her past. Regina read a lot. Whenever she could spare a moment - which, granted, didn't happen too often - the brunette would instinctually follow the familiar trail, which Emma had by now memorized by heart, to where Regina's glasses lay on the nightstand. There was a difference, though; one thing that set Regina apart from all the teachers and counselors and bullies.
Regina never forced her to read.
She rolled her eyes, attempted to otherwise culture her once or twice, but, having come to the conclusion that Emma was unshakable in her reluctance, Regina let her be. So one night, when Emma stood in the doorway to Henry's room and listened to the witch's voice interpret the enticing tale of (the obviously fictional) princess Buttercup - followed by muffled, sleepy remarks of "How long until the kissing part?" and then a playfully scolding "Do you want me to go on or not?" - she decided that books didn't have to be so bad after all.
Thus Emma began to read. Nothing of the sort Regina had in her bookshelf; mostly short stories or novels that described, for once, things she knew, so that she could compare. And while she did eventually develop somewhat of a care for the smell of a previously unopened book or, likewise, one that has been passed down for generations, she was no Ruby with her zeal, no Belle with her analyses.
This was because Emma knew one thing for sure. As she turned off the lights at night and wrapped her arm around a grumbling Regina - who inched what little distance remained between them closer to her anyway - Emma smiled, pressing her lips to the brunette's shoulder. The love books always described with such reverence and longing? It had nothing on what Emma already had.