The pieces clicked in Emma's brain about a minute into her family's conversation. Regina wanted to make a potion that would make whoever drank it think that he or she loved her. In their twisted fairytale world, love was everything, enough to bring kingdoms together or condemn an entire world if ripped away unjustly. Given the way most of Regina's plans went, the potion should be intended for Henry. But, what if it wasn't?
Emma watched the way Henry defended Regina in the apartment. His fingers twitched at his sides as he used the sheer power of his voice to play the room. Honestly, even if he didn't want to be around Regina, Henry was definitely her son, and he already loved her. At most, Regina's potion would take away his inhibitions, but Henry was a kid. His judgment didn't exactly calm angry mobs, or make the whole world accept the fact that their once pure and good queen was killed at the Evil Queen's hand. But, if Regina used the potion on someone else, someone more influential, and that person vouched for her, Regina could probably walk out of that battle with a few scratches at most. Regina could get away with it if the right person loved her.
"Shit," Emma breathed. She barely noticed the word slipping from her lips until Henry whirled around to face her. His eyes bore into hers with a terrified fury that he had to have picked up from Regina. Emma could practically see his world falling around him in that glance, and in a second, he was fighting to control it. He fought to school his features, to appear stronger and wiser so that they would listen to him.
"My mom won't hurt you," Henry insisted to Emma.
Emma wondered how he did it sometimes. Henry switched between indifference and love so quickly when it came to Regina. She wanted to blame it on how young he was, but maybe he just learned how to hide his emotions a bit too well. They still bubbled over of course — that look he couldn't quite manage to suppress seared itself into Emma's mind — yet, he controlled himself in a way that made her forget what Regina meant to him. And when she thought about everything Regina had done for Henry, Emma started thinking of what Regina had done for her. What Regina could still do, if only someone listened for a second before accusing her of murder, or killing her mom.
Emma stifled a sigh. This was way too fucked up to think about. She turned her attention from her thoughts to her kid. Taking a page from Regina's old parenting book, Emma squatted down to bring herself down to his level. She placed her right hand on his elbow while her left held onto her knee to steady herself.
"I know, kid," she said to him, "which is exactly why I've got to be the one to talk to her."
David protested instantly. "Emma, surely you can't—"
"Can't what?" Emma rose back to her full height. David hesitated, and Emma lifted her hands to gesture at herself. "You guys call me the Savior for a reason. Aren't I a princess or something too? Isn't this what being royalty is about? Helping people? Fixing the crap no one else can?"
She knew she was right even before that spark popped up in the corner of David's eye. True power wasn't in hurting others; it was in using a person's strengths and weaknesses to get the best out of everyone involved. She didn't need princess lessons, or even her time as sheriff, to know any of that.
David tried, "At least let me go with you."
Emma shook her head. She couldn't do this with him there. She didn't want to. "Regina wouldn't like that. Besides," and Emma's gaze darted to where Gold peered over at them, "you need to watch Henry and Mary Margaret. Make sure they don't get into any trouble and that no one troubles them."
Gold had the decency to glance away at Emma's insinuation. David, on the other hand, bristled up again. His chin lifted up as he carded his fingers through his hair.
"They're both safer here than you'll be with Regina."
Emma wondered if this was what it was like to have a dad. The ones in the TV shows pestered their kids and didn't let them go off on town saving missions. Then again, the kids in the shows didn't slay dragons, fight off zombies, climb beanstalks, and defeat evil witches all within the span of two weeks. Emma could handle herself. She needed to make David see that.
Emma motioned for David to walk towards the door. As he went, she looked down at Henry. "Go in there with Mary Margaret for a second. David will be back in no time."
Henry frowned. "I'm old enough to know what's going on. If it's about my mom—"
"Henry," Emma waited until he met her eye, "I promise I won't hurt her."
Henry's eyes narrowed. "If you break your promise, I will never forgive you." With that said, Henry turned and went into the bedroom.
Emma stared after him. Shit. Now, she had a promise that she probably couldn't even keep. Not that she wanted to ever hurt Regina, at least not anymore; it was just that Regina seemed the type of person to always wind up hurt in any situation.
Not in this one, Emma decided, not if I can help it. Emma rolled her shoulders back. She steeled herself, then marched over to walk around David and out of the door. David followed closely behind her, stopping only when Emma did a few feet away. Even with the added distance between them and the rest of their family, Emma lowered her voice before she spoke.
"She's not going to use it on Henry," Emma said.
David's brow creased. "What do you mean? Who else would Regina use it on?"
Emma fought the urge to shrug. She knew the only other option that made sense. She couldn't say it though, especially not to him. This guy spent years hating Regina and plotting ways to bring her to justice. Emma doubted any of those included the Evil Queen taking his precious baby girl away. Er, not so baby girl. Emma sighed. Somehow that must have been enough of an answer for David.
His jaw tensed. His head shook. "No. Emma, no!" For a second, Emma could almost see it — David as her dad, him interrogating her friends, him chasing after her if she ever tried to run away, him finding her, holding her, promising to keep her safe. She blinked the thoughts away.
"Look, you might think that you've got everyone's best interests in mind, but you don't. Not really." David opened his mouth to protest, but Emma went on. "Henry's best interest involves Regina, whether we like it or not. She might be the Evil Queen in your world, but here she's a woman who just lost her mom, her son, and, hell, her whole world for the past twenty-eight years. She's desperate—"
David cut in, "All the more reason for—"
"All the more reason for me to handle this. She wants to take away Snow's heart. We can't let that happen."
David didn't back down the way she expected him to. "And what about you? What will you do when she tries to take yours?"
She might already have it. Emma blinked that thought away too. That was the situation talking. She cared about Regina, but she wasn't in love with her. Emma didn't need to love the mayor to keep Regina safe. After all, Emma opened a portal to another world so that Regina could live.
"I'll do whatever I have to do," Emma answered, and as she began to walk away, she realized how true that was. If it came down to it, Emma would give her heart, her trust, her word of honor, to Regina, no potion required.