Well, it happened. The season finale nearly killed me and sent me into a downward spiral of swanqueen + mommyRegina feels. I thought a lot about the request for a magical baby sequel to "Desperate Measures" and this is what I ended up with. It might not be exactly what people had in mind but I hope you like it, anyway.
There are two time lines in this story and I think you'll understand it easily from the first two updates which I'm posting at the same time. But yell at me if you're confused. Also, you don't necessarily need to read "Desperate Measures" to understand this story, but it certainly wouldn't hurt!
As always, I only wish I owned these characters- and any and all mistakes are mine, since it's usually 2 AM when I write. Thank you wonderful Swen friends and enjoy! xo
Emma pulls into the driveway of 108 Mifflin street at 12:11 AM.
It takes her exactly 11 minutes to get home from her evening shift. She knows this concrete fact after years of perfecting her commute—after years of trying every last combination of roads from the station's parking lot to the mansion's doorstep. By now, she knows the rhythm of it all; when every light turns red—which intersections are the busiest at night—what streets to avoid in the rain.
She knows it all for one reason: because the savior waited her whole damn life to truly understand the meaning of family. And as entirely dysfunctional as hers may be, she spends every second she is apart from them thinking about getting back to them.
She gets out of the car, walks into the house, immediately kicks off her boots in the hallway and climbs the stairs. When she gets to the top, she quietly sticks her head through the first open doorway on the right. Amelia, her five-year-old, is fast asleep. The child's nightlight is on and she is hugging her favorite teddy bear close to her chest. Emma has no intentions of going inside the room because she won't risk waking her daughter; she simply needs a glimpse. The worst part of getting home after midnight is that she misses bedtime. And missing bedtime means missing Regina sing ridiculous songs about farm animals, which Emma is quite certain is the greatest sight in all of the worlds she's seen.
The second door in the the hallway belongs to Charlotte, her fifteen-year-old. But Emma doesn't bother checking to see if the teenager is asleep in her bed. She already knows, for certain, where Charlotte is. There is only one place she'd be—attached to the hip of the mother she is all but a clone of.
And, so, Emma reaches the end of the hall and opens the door to her bedroom. She takes in the familiar sight of Regina sitting up in bed, glasses on her nose, reading a book. The savior has spent the better part of their marriage insisting that her wife doesn't need to wait up for her on nights like this, but she lost that battle years ago. I can't sleep without you anyway, Regina always tells her.
Charlotte, unsurprisingly, is occupying the spot right next to the brunette. Usually their daughter is also awake and quite chatty—but tonight she is passed out with a movie still playing in the background.
Regina looks up and smiles. "Welcome home."
"Hi," she whispers back. "Should I wake her up?"
"Unless you'd like to sleep on the floor tonight."
"No way," she says as she walks over to the bed. She gently, and lovingly, nudges her daughter. "Charlotte."
"Mom," the girl stirs and opens her eyes, "you're home."
"Yes, and you're in my spot."
"When did I even fall asleep?"
"About an hour ago," Regina informs her as she gently rubs her shoulder.
"I'm sorry," she frowns and scrunches her nose, "I missed half the movie."
"Not to worry, we can re-watch it tomorrow."
Emma gets up and walks into the closet to change—she reaches for her favorite pair of sweats as she listens to the conversation continue.
"What time do you want to go shopping in the morning?" Charlotte asks Regina.
"Whatever time you'd like."
"Can we leave at ten-ish?"
"Of course. We can get breakfast on the way."
"Mom," Emma hears her daughter call out for her, "are you going to come with us?"
"If you want me to," she reemerges, feeling incredibly relieved to be out of her work clothes.
"Of course I do," Charlotte promises as she finally gets off the bed, "my school dance on Friday, you know."
"So, in other words, you're going to pick out a ridiculously poof-y dress?"
"Maybe," she considers. "I haven't decided on the level of poof yet."
"Then I better supervise this shopping trip or you'll come home looking like a cupcake."
"Well, if mommy would let me wear one of her queen dresses we wouldn't have to go shopping at all."
"That's not happening," Regina interjects, "not for this dance or any other in your lifetime."
"Pretty sure none of those dresses are appropriate for high school anyway, kid."
"Fine," Charlotte sticks out her tongue as she lingers in the doorway. "Goodnight. I love you."
"We love you, too" Emma replies.
Emma stares intensely at Regina who has picked her book back up from the night-stand.
"Is something wrong?" The queen asks, without looking up from the page she is on. They are that sort of couple—so connected they can simply sense when something is off.
Emma isn't sure she wants to bring it up—she is tired, after all and it's probably nothing. She knows she should just keep her mouth shut and go to bed. She isn't even sure how to verbally express the strange feeling that is suddenly overwhelming her. The nagging thought wasn't in her mind a few minutes earlier—but it seems to have camped out and is rudely refusing to leave her.
Unfortunately, she also realizes it's too late to turn back—when her wife knows something is wrong, she will get to the bottom of it—even if Emma doesn't want her to.
"Does it bother you," she reluctantly begins, "that our fifteen-year-old still calls you mommy?"
"Why would it bother me?"
"Isn't she a little old for that?"
"She has two moms, what is she supposed to do?"
"Call you 'mom' and me 'ma' like Henry does?"
"Charlotte isn't Henry," Regina nonchalantly reasons, "and she's been calling you 'mom' and me 'mommy' for her entire life."
"Yeah, I know that."
"So, why is this suddenly an issue tonight?"
"Sometimes I just worry about her not being a strong enough kid, you know?"
Emma still doesn't understand the words coming out of her mouth—she just knows they need to be said. The frank statement causes Regina to place her book down and give up on the chapter she was trying to finish; she is now aware that this discussion will require her complete attention.
"The daughter of the evil queen and the savior isn't strong enough for you? Charlotte has power way beyond her age—her magic is unstoppable."
"I know she's strong with her magic but is she emotionally strong, too?"
"Of course she is."
"I don't know," Emma remains unconvinced. "Isn't she supposed to hate us at this age? Teenage girls are supposed to be hell—I thought she was supposed to throw fits and climb out the window at night to get into trouble. She should slam her door every once in a while and tell us we're ruining her life."
"God forbid," Regina's entire body nearly convulses at the thought. "That sounds horrible. I don't understand why you'd want that."
"I don't want it," Emma insists. "I just, I don't know…is she really supposed to want to spend her Saturday shopping with her moms?"
"I don't know what she's 'supposed' to do or what rule-book you're following. I just know that we wanted to give our kids the childhood we never had—and that's what we've done."
"I know we have."
"You think that because we both became strong by going through horrible things that our daughter is weak because she has a stable home and a great life?"
"No, that's not what I meant."
"But you're angry with me because Charlotte loves us? Or because she's not rebellious enough for you?"
"I'm not angry with you at all," the blonde softens. "I'm just baffled. I don't understand how we raised such a goody-two-shoes. I mean, seriously….how did the two of us raise such a normal kid?"
"Stop complaining about it. We've done a good job with a daughter who looks up to us."
"You," Emma corrects, with a hint of sadness in her voice. "She looks up to you—and the word is more like worships. Charlotte worships the ground you walk on."
"Not this again," Regina almost begs.
"What?" the sheriff flails her hands in the air. "It's not your fault you're her favorite. You didn't ask to be the golden mother, it just happened."
"For the last time, Charlotte doesn't have a favorite mom."
"You're the one she always wants around."
"Then how come all she wanted tonight was for you to come home so she could ask you if you would come shopping tomorrow? She wants you around just as much."
"I'm just worried about her. I want her to be able to stand on her own two feet. Sometimes I think we coddle her."
"You think I coddle her," Regina understands.
"No, Regina—I swear..."
"I'm going to sleep now," the queen gives up and turns off the light. "There is no argument to be had here."
Emma knows the tacit well: Regina shuts down their fights before they get out of hand. She is particularly grateful for it tonight—because she doesn't want a fight, either.
All she really wants is the feeling of her wife's body against hers. She climbs into bed and snuggles up to her—the same thing she's done every night for sixteen years. And Regina doesn't deny her. In fact, she laces their fingers together.
A promise they made long ago to never go to bed too angry to hold each other has yet to be broken.
Early the next morning, Emma is awake before her wife. Actually, she's not entirely sure if she ever fell asleep. She remains in bed as she stares at the ceiling, feeling ridiculous for the fuss she caused the night before.
She sense Regina moving and automatically feels herself cheer up, confident she can fix this.
"Hi," Emma whispers when then brunette rolls over and opens her eyes.
"Have you calmed yourself down yet?"
"Yes," she promises. "I'm sorry. She's our first daughter and she's so different than I was at her age. I know that's a good thing but sometimes I don't understand her at all."
"Yes well," Regina's voice is groggy and dripping with sarcasm, "it's difficult to understand how someone could 'worship the ground I walk on'…isn't it?"
"Stop that," Emma pouts, hating herself for hurting the woman staring back at her. "I worship the ground you walk on and you know it. I just wish she looked at me the way she looks at you."
"Charlotte loves you more than life itself."
"Is this how you felt?" She wonders, "When Henry…"
"Wouldn't look at me the way he looked at you?" Regina completes the question and doesn't need long to think about the answer. "Yes."
"Then I guess I sort of deserve this, huh? Karma's a bitch and everything."
"It's not the same thing. Henry wouldn't look at me the way he looked at you back then because I lied to him. You are completely imagining this entire thing with Charlotte. It's all in your head."
"I'm positive. I know you think I spoil her and maybe I do…. but she is a strong young woman who couldn't possibly love you more than she already does."
"Okay," Emma accepts. "I love you."
"I know that—but you're seriously a handful."
"I didn't get a proper welcome home last night," she whines as she rolls on top of Regina and straddles her. "Which is kind of bullshit."
"That is not my fault, dear."
"I'm not blaming you," she states as she leans down and kisses her wife's neck. "But I would like you to help me rectify it."
Emma finally gets the kiss she sped home from her midnight shift for. It is a few hours late—but it's still worth it.
Their faces pull apart, however, when they are interrupted by the sound of their door swinging open.
"Kid," Emma grunts when she sees Charlotte standing in their room. "How many times does this have to happen before you learn how to knock?"
"Sorry!" the young girl shrieks, spins around to face the wall and dramatically throws her hands over her eyes. "I'm sorry! It's just that Nana's downstairs."
"Did you text her the wrong time?" Regina questions, as she looks at the clock and gently nudges Emma off her body. "She's not supposed to be here for another hour."
"No, I told her to pick up Amelia at 9:30 just like you said; she looks all freaked out about something."
"Okay, sweetheart, we're coming."
"Clearly we are not," Emma mutters under her breath. "You can open your eyes and turn around, Charlotte."
"You go get your sister dressed," Regina instructs as she removes herself from bed. "And we'll go deal with your grandmother."
"What's wrong?" Emma asks her mother as she walks down the staircase with Regina close behind her. "I haven't had any caffeine yet so it better not be anything that requires brain power."
"I need to talk to you," is the only explanation Snow White gives—but her pacing, and the way she's anxiously fiddling with her fingers, signifies the matter is urgent.
"Make it quick, mom. Or did you forget why you're babysitting? I'm going shopping to make sure your oldest granddaughter is a proper princess for her school dance."
"Not you. I need to talk to Regina."
"Uh guys," the blonde teases, "my birthday isn't for months."
But her mother doesn't laugh—in fact, she remains disturbingly serious.
"I mean, I guess if you need to start planning this early," Emma continues, "I will go take a shower."
She turns around and darts up the stairs.
"Are you going to tell me what's going on?" Regina asks, after her wife exits. She looks at Snow and tries to read the woman's face. But all she can tell is that her mother-in-law is struggling to find words. "And day now, dear."
"Do you remember when we realized you and Emma had true love and Gold was infatuated with telling me how you were going to have my grand-children?"
"Yes, of course I do."
"I think I finally figured out why."
"Why he was obsessed with Emma and I being together and having magical children?" Regina lightly laughs as she tries to follow the jumbled thinking. "I already know why…it's because he's obsessed with us…he wanted us both for his sick and twisted plans before either one of us was even born."
"I haven't been afraid of that man in nearly two decades," she cuts her off. "So why do you look like you're about to pass out?"
"Regina!" Snow shouts—causing the mayor to flinch; the outburst is both unexpected and out-of-character, "you don't understand. The kids, our girls, are in trouble."
"What the hell are you talking about?"
Regina feels anger rise from the pit of her stomach and travel all the way to her throat. And she can taste it. If she's being honest, it scares her. Because it's been so long since she's needed to feel like this—since she's needed to defend the ones she loves from real threats.
It's been so nice, that the most she's ever had to protect her girls from is a schoolyard bully. It's not like it was with Henry. Danger no longer lurks in Storybrooke. At least, until now.
She wants to kill her wife for jinxing it; for spending the night prior complaining that Charlotte has never been tested—that she's had it easy.
All at once, Regina knows it was not a coincidence. Emma has always been able to sense when things are about to change. And she understands now that the thought, the concern, that their daughter isn't strong enough was not random. The thought was planted in Emma's mind by the maternal instinct she often denies she even has.
"It's not just you and Emma he needed," Snow tells her, "he needs them now, too."
It's been years, Regina thinks, since she felt the darkness as such a tangible force inside of her. But she feels it now—darker and fiercer than ever.
"Well then," she spits out, "I can promise this will be the last mistake Rumpelstiltskin ever lives to make."