A/N: I wanted to take a short break from my longer fics with a lighthearted two-shot (maybe three). Thanks to littledragonflyson for the word prompt. Lyrics not mine, they are 'Flame' by Bell X1. Also, as is probably obvious, I decided to deviate slightly from the show's story line and not have Cora follow Emma and MM back to Storybrooke. Enjoy, and please review :)

"What on earth happened to you?!"

An incredulous cry from the end of the hallway has Henry imagining his plans to sneak upstairs undetected may have just been foiled. Grinning sheepishly, he makes his way slowly to where his mother stands with her hands on her hips in the kitchen doorway, toeing off his sneakers as he goes.

"Henry! What have I told you about doing that with your shoes- look, the backs are wearing already, and it's just plain laziness!- Come here, let me get a look at you..."

Regina fusses as she moves back into the kitchen which sits awash in the pleasant glow of the summer evening sun, ushering the boy to follow her as she plucks a glass deftly from its place on sparklingly clean shelves and pours him a healthy dose of milk.

"Good grief..."

She sniffs irritably, but hands over the glass which the small brunet accepts readily, her dark coals flickering over soiled clothing with unmasked distaste.

Blue jeans- his good jeans- and a partially untucked charcoal gray shirt crumple about his small frame chaotically; each item slathered with generous lashings of drying white paint, and she doesn't bother asking him where he's been in order to get himself into such a state.

"Oh, this is just taking things too far..."


"- Upstairs. Now. And don't you dare touch anything on the way! I want those clothes in the hamper and you in the bath in the time it takes Mr Glass to make his way over here, as you clearly can't be trusted by yourself!"

She feels a small twinge of guilt as she admonishes him with these last words; there's no way she would ever leave Henry home all by himself with darkness so soon approaching, but she is angry, and the resultant look of guilt offered by the small brunet allows her to feel just that little bit more in control. A ridiculous notion as the boy is her son, but he is also the Sheriff's, and she needs to make sure Henry doesn't allow the younger woman to fool him into thinking this kind of behaviour is acceptable.

"Where are you going?"

Henry asks- imagining he already knows the answer- making his way carefully up the stairs with his hands held out in front of him in an almost comical fashion.

"To ask Miss Swan just who she thinks she is allowing you to walk around- in public, I might add- in the state you're currently in!"

The Mayor barks, confirming her son's suspicions.

"-We were just painting-"

"-I can see that! Why you were even over there without asking permission in the first place is a question I will save for tomorrow morning, but if she thinks I won't be looking to her to pay for a new pair of jeans, she has another thing coming..."

Regina growls, more to herself than her son as the boy bites his lip awkwardly and disappears from view at the top of the stairs. He feels a little guilty; his intention in paying Emma a visit not to get the blonde into trouble, but he knows better than to argue her case to his mother.

And he had confessed he was a little worried about soiling his clothes.

"It's just paint, kid, it'll wash out! You're eleven, you're supposed to be grubby!"

Not the smartest words ever to leave the blonde's mouth, but he understands enough about the peculiar tension that has replaced the outright hatred between the brunette and the Sheriff upon Emma and Mary Margaret's return to imagine the younger woman had been perfectly aware of just how unlikely it would be for Regina to agree with this sentiment.

Sighing as she listens to the dull thud of defeated footsteps followed by running water, Regina summons Sydney; a much easier task now that she is back in control of her power.

Magic is still not something she uses on a frequent basis, as she has indeed tried her hardest to stick to Henry's wishes, but now that the blonde and her irksome mother are back in town she has allowed the odd hint here and there to aid her in everyday life. Such leniency has received no comment from Henry, however, and she supposes this might well have a lot to do with what the boy had witnessed down at the wishing well, despite her best efforts to keep him away and out of danger.

It had been an odd couple of weeks when the Sheriff had first arrived home; the tension between the two of them as thick as ever, but the emotions subtly different. She is still surprised the blonde invited her to the dismal gathering held at the diner upon her return, not just due to the altercations between them over the past year, but also because she simply hadn't imagined Emma to be one to make such a bold first move. As it is, she has found herself surprised by the blonde; the younger woman nowhere near as hateful- she has found- if left unhounded and at peace to go about her everyday life.

That, and the whole business with the turnover... Her mistake...

The bruises lining her back as a result of the Sheriff's emotionally changed fury back at the hospital had taken a good two weeks to fully disappear, but she had been given little time to dwell on the matter after the mishap with that dratted hat. During the time Emma and Snow had been at the mercy of the Enchanted Forest, she had spent little time thinking on the technicalities of the Sheriff disappearing for good- despite Gold's assurance that this could only serve to aid her in regards to Henry- as her focus had remained purely on getting her son back on her side; something for which- however irksome- she had figured out pretty early on she needed Emma alive.

At first, following the party at Granny's, the younger woman had proven herself hard to get hold of; she and Henry seeming to be forever 'out' or simply missing without any explanation altogether. After a couple of days, however, her son had come to find her- giving no reason for doing so, but offering her an embrace she hadn't realized just how much she'd missed- and had spent the night back in his old bed without word. She had expected Emma to come pounding at her door, demanding her claim on the boy as soon as the dimwitted little wretch suspected him to be missing, but such an annoyance had never come to pass.

Since then, she has seen little of Emma, but Henry has spent the evenings at hers, behaving in a way curiously similar to the way things used to be before receiving that hateful book. As such, she has found no opportunity to discuss the events leading to Henry's poisoning, other than the tense moment shared with the Sheriff at the hospital, and, much as the thought fills her with distaste, she has come to the conclusion that if she is to receive any rest from her troubled mind, she needs to at least acknowledge the blonde's actions following Henry's collapsing in her apartment.

Not just anybody would have emerged victorious after a hard round with Malificent...

That... And she supposes there's a certain amount of air that needs to be cleared between them due to the intended poisoning itself.

She understands that at the time, her admission that she'd had little clue as to the fatality of the sleeping curse in this land had pertained to Henry, and that the Sheriff's thoughts had been for their son alone. Now though... She wonders if Emma has played back those words as she has herself and understood just what they meant...

The boy hadn't just slept... He had died.

And who would have kissed the Savior...?

A knock at the door shakes her from her reverie, and she stalks quickly over to let the disgraced reporter across the threshold, fussing with her hair as she reprimands herself for getting caught up in her thoughts.

After all, she may look upon the younger woman with a little less hatred than she once had, but being just about tolerable is no excuse for letting her son get into the state in which he'd returned home.

Your flesh it melts in my mouth
Like Holy Communion
But you don't really care for
Jesus now do you?
A photograph of our love
Hangs on my wall
I would dare to speak its name
If I knew what it was called...

The blonde hums along as she lies on her back amidst a litter of old newspaper pages dappled white. She lies sprawled with one arm slung over her eyes as she moves one bent knee lethargically in time with the music as though conducting.

It is hot- boiling hot- and she lets out a sigh as she removes her arm in order to regain her vision- swiping at her forehead as she does so- staring absentmindedly up at the ceiling while she continues to hum.

The majority of the living room now shines a drying white, and she imagines it will only take another coat of paint before she can call it a job well done.

She had hoped to finish the worst of the task before retiring to bed, but having been paid a visit by Henry- while always well received- has put her back a few steps; her high cheekbones now striped relatively symmetrically with paint, and her jeans sporting a pattern of small, suspiciously boy-child sized hand prints.

Sitting up and wiping her hand lazily on a denim-clad thigh after accidentally resting her palm in a large dollop of paint, she reaches for the bottle of honey infused whisky resting in the corner and nips at it thoughtfully.

Damn, what I wouldn't do for some ice...

Wistful thinking as she hasn't even purchased a freezer yet; the small apartment currently harboring just a modest, newly built bed and a fort of cardboard boxes she really isn't looking forward to sorting out.

"If I sort them out..."

A valid sentiment given the fact that several- and by several, she really means half- of the boxes in question have remained taped shut since arriving from Boston.

Still, it's nice to have her own space again, not that she hadn't found a peculiar sense of enjoyment in sharing Mary Margaret's apartment. No, it had just been a case of there being certain things in life a person only wishes to have to witness once, and for Emma Swan, walking in on her recently discovered parents 'doing it' had been pretty damn high on that list.

Shuddering at the memory, she allows a small smirk despite the emotional trauma. All else aside, she feels a small sense of excitement at the prospect of her new place; nowhere near as fancy as her penthouse back in Massachusetts, but nor does it need to be. She never thought she'd think so, but she'd take friends and, well, family, over an aesthetically pleasing skyline any day.

Luxury and a view are nice and all, but expensive liquor can only provide so much company, and sometimes such pleasure and beauty become dull without anyone to share them with...

A little philosophical for her tastes, but true none the less. She had been short on friends back in Boston- not having the want or will to keep them- and fucking strangers up against the glass overlooking the city had both tainted its beauty and enhanced it in a way that had made her bitter when nursing the aftermath with a mug of black coffee and smudged makeup.

Sighing as she takes another sharp bite of bourbon, she picks at a smear of dried paint just above her navel pensively; having removed her shirt after bidding Henry goodnight in hopes of escaping the worst of the heat.

"Who the fuck designs a building where the damn windows don't open?!"

Growling irritably, she runs a hand through her hair in an attempt to keep it from hanging limply about her face in dampening clumps. Her torso is slick with a light layer of perspiration and she imagines forgoing water in place of alcohol isn't doing her any favors.

Not that she has much choice in the matter.

"Water can't be switched on till Tuesday... How hard can it be to turn a fucking nozzle or whatever..."

Enough, Swan, no need to get cranky over a little heat, it could be worse...

Rolling her eyes as she throws her subconscious the disdainful request to shut the fuck up, she briefly entertains the amusing notion of going to the Mayor and asking for a wondrous, magical solution to her discomfort before letting out a low sardonic chuckle and shaking her head.

"She'd probably turn up the heat and stay around to watch you sweat..."

Hmm, well that was a little odd once expressed out loud... A tad erotic...

Scolding her ever sporadic thoughts with a bemused smirk, she offers a distrustful glance towards the bottle in her hand and promptly screws the lid back in place, licking the last of the sweet residue from her lips in a childish manner. She is unsure on the exact science behind it, but heat has always had a bit of a giddy effect on her system. Something she had learnt the hard way- several times- when living in Florida; her sex-drive increasing dramatically and making her antsy and quick to anger.

Mixing such heated tension with whisky is simply asking for trouble.

Again, something which took quite a few... Mishaps... To make any lasting impression, hmmm?

"Quit while you're ahead..."

She mutters to herself as she pushes herself up from the floor to stretch her back in an oddly feline manner. A knock on the door has her breaking into a relieved grin; Ruby having promised to hunt around the supply closet at Granny's for a spare fan or two, and she pads into the hallway swiftly; rubbing her hands on her jeans in an effort to clean them of paint and sweat before opening the door.

"Hey, du- Oh... It's you..."