Epilogue

The palace was alight and abuzz with the ball, carriages going in and out through the gates and strains of music even reaching the hilly pasture where Regina and Emma were sitting. They could just make out Tiernan and his new bride on a balcony off the ballroom when the fireworks started. The girls had both attended the wedding that morning, but the queen had allowed them to pass on the ball and go for a ride instead.

Emma sank down onto her back, and Regina adjusted to do the same with her head resting against the princess's stomach. They watched the fireworks, the booming halting their conversation, and Regina reached for Emma's hand, intertwining their fingers.

The fireworks finally ceased, leaving them in dark and quiet. "You know," Emma said, "you've been living here for almost a year."

Regina sat up and moved again, this time molding her body to Emma's side, her head resting on the blonde's shoulder. "I'm so glad you've let us stay." With Cora jailed, the royal family had invited Regina and Henry to live in the palace indefinitely, and as Emma had promised Daniel was working in the stables.

Emma turned to kiss Regina. "Do you want to stay here forever?" she asked, and Regina's initial response was another kiss, longer this time.

"No," the brunette whispered, looping an arm around Emma's waist.

"No?" Emma rolled on her side to face Regina completely, worry in her eyes.

"I thought we were going to run away and live in the woods and hunt things," Regina replied with a grin that put Emma at ease. "See the world and all."

"I see." Emma reached for the hand Regina had at her waist and pulled it up to chest level, holding it between them. "Do you want to stay with me forever?"

"Yes." Regina leaned forward, smiling into their kiss as she felt Emma slide a ring onto her finger. She looked down, keeping her forehead pressed to Emma's, to see the silver band with green stone that the queen always wore. Although now that Regina thought about it, Snow hadn't worn it all week.

"Family heirloom," Emma explained, stroking a finger over the ring and Regina's knuckle. "Normally I don't care much for tradition, but it suits you."

"It matches your eyes," Regina pointed out, bringing her hand to the side of Emma's face. Their lips met again, and they kissed deeply.

"I'm not going to marry you in a big poofy dress," Emma whispered.

Regina giggled at that. "You can wear whatever you want." She glanced around them, seeing the night's first fireflies begin to dot the pasture. "We can get married right here, with just our parents, and then we can ride off and see the world."

"Perfect," Emma said with a smile. "My mother will be devastated."

"She'll be happy." Regina closed her eyes, ignoring the night around them and just focusing on Emma beside her. "I love you."

"I love you, too." Emma pressed her hand over Regina's heart, something she'd taken to doing in the past year, a reassurance that it was still there.


THE END

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