Regina had never knelt to anyone. But, just this once…
"Emma Swan, since the day we met you've infuriated me, challenged me, and battled with me. And it's made me a far better person than I once was. I love you. Thanks to some cosmic fluke, thanks to time travel and dimension-hopping and quite a bit of immortality, we've ended up just the right ages to spend the rest of our lives together. And I want that. More than revenge and more than power. Because being with you is the best revenge I could ever take against the world that gave me such a horrible life, and you make me feel more powerful than all the magic I've ever learned. So I'm going to keep you. And once, that might've meant chaining you up in my dungeon or taking your heart, but since I don't do that anymore…" Regina hoped her digging in her pocket, trying to untangle the ringbox from her car keys hadn't been noticed. "I'm giving you my heart. I made it into a ring." Regina opened the box and hoped Emma grasped symbolism; it would really ruin the moment if she had to explain that she hadn't literally turned her heart into a ring.
Emma looked down at her. "Am I the only one surprised you weren't talking to a puppy or a mirror or an old person or something?"
Regina's brow furrowed. "What?"
"You know, like in romantic movies; you see the hero making a long speech about wanting his girl to marry him, but you only see him, because when the camera shifts, you see he's really just practicing his speech on someone or something, and then he figures out he needs to get the girl's father or brother or dog or whatever to like him, and that's what the movie is about."
Regina's eyebrows fluttered even as she tried to blink away the distressingly stupid look on her own face. "You do realize I'm asking you to marry me, right? I didn't get down on one knee just to give you a random present."
"Yes," Emma said, almost as sardonically as her girlfriend, "I do realize you're asking me to marry you. But do you really need an answer?" She pulled Regina to her feet. "Of course. Of course I'll marry—"
Mary-Margaret had apparently just popped by for a visit. She'd also apparently noticed they weren't inside Regina's manor, had looped around to the back, and had approached the gazebo where Regina had arranged the proposal, all without making a sound. No wonder she'd been so hard to kill back when she was playing Robin Hood, Regina thought.
And now, Mary-Margaret had dropped her oversized purse and was pointing one shaking finger at the couple, her mouth open like she was trying to inhale a bee for some reason, and her protracted denial still ongoing, like when Dr. Whale had tried to start a conversation about the end of Breaking Bad while she still had it on her Tivo.
Finally, Mary-Margaret finished. Then she ran up to them and slapped the ring, which Emma had taken, out of her hand.
"Hey!" both women said.
"That hurt!" Emma finished.
"That was expensive!" Regina finished.
"You can't get married!" Mary-Margaret insisted. "You just can't!"
"Oh, why not, Ma?" Emma had taken to calling her that, since it could be construed either as referring to her as a mother or as a shortening of her name. "Name one good reason."
"Not anymore. Now she's more… grouchy. And that's just when she hasn't eaten."
"It's true," Regina said. "I can be very short-tempered when I miss a meal."
"She's my arch-nemesis!"
"C'mon, Ma, she got you a gift last Christmas."
"Didn't you like the gift?" Regina asked.
"I did like the juicer," Mary-Margaret admitted, "but still!"
"Still what? Why can't we get married?"
Mary-Margaret bit her lip, trying to think. And then it came to her. "She's your grandmother!"
"My what now?"
Regina just crossed her arms, confusedly amused.
"Regina married my father," Mary-Margaret said, calmly now that she had a plan of attack. "Making her my stepmother. And as I'm your mother, that makes Regina your grandmother. You can't get married. It's incest."
"For the love of Pete," Emma cried, slapping her forehead.
Regina just circled the gazebo, coolly regarding Mary-Margaret with her arms still crossed.
"Emma, I know you grew up in the foster system," Mary-Margaret said soothingly, "but grandmothers are for gifting you underwear at Christmas and baking cookies, not marrying."
"Ma, you're being totally ridiculous. You haven't considered yourselves family in literally decades. Do you really still think of Regina as your mother?"
"Yes I do," Mary-Margaret said, doubling down on smugness.
Regina spoke, closing in on Mary-Margaret. "So you're still my daughter."
Mary-Margaret held her chin high. "Yes, I consider myself to be just that."
"On an unrelated subject, you'd expect Henry to obey his mother Emma, right?"
"And you expect Emma to obey and honor you, as you're her mother, right?"
"Regina," Emma said warningly.
"I do," Mary-Margaret confirmed. "That's what family's about. Respect."
Regina nodded a little to herself. "Then, as your mother, I can expect you to love and obey me. Right?"
"Well," Mary-Margaret faltered, "within reason…"
"Of course!" Regina linked her arm with Mary-Margaret's. "I would never steer my darling girl wrong! Let's get you inside for a nice, home-cooked meal."
Mary-Margaret had time to register a certain regret before she was pulled along toward the house.
Emma stayed in the gazebo. "I'm staying out of this one. You two let me know when you're done with your Twitter feud." She kicked a pebble. "I suppose I have to find the ring too."
It started out fairly simple. Emma was having dinner with her parents and Henry, as she usually did, when the doorbell rang. It was Regina. She swooped into the dining room bearing a pot of steamed broccoli.
"Hello all!" she greeted cheerfully, and immediately set about ladling the broccoli onto Mary-Margaret's plate. "I just thought I'd drop by and make sure my special girl is getting all the nutrition her growing body needs."
"I'm thirty-five, Regina. I'm not growing."
"Well, not in the direction you're thinking," Regina smiled. She continued filling Mary-Margaret's plate, covering her mashed potatoes and pork chop in broccoli. "But as we all know, it's important you set a good example for Henry, who needs to obey his mother too. So eat up, honey! You won't get dessert unless you clear your plate!"
Mary-Margaret ate the broccoli, and did the dishes when Regina asked her too. In no time at all, her last-ditch effort to prevent a Swan-Mills wedding had become a contest of wills between her and Regina.
The next day, the doorbell rang. Already, Mary-Margaret was beginning to have a Pavlovian response to it, cringing in irritation. Her pee had been green that morning.
It was Regina, of course. She came in to give David a steady glance. "Oh good, you're here as well. Mary-Margaret, you're becoming a young lady now, with obviously many young men becoming interested in you."
"Get to the point, 'Mom.'"
Regina sat down. "I think it's the time we had the Talk."
"We're not having the Talk!" Mary-Margaret protested. "I know how sex works! I have a daughter!"
"Then you don't even know to use protection!" Regina cried in mock-horror. "Don't worry. We'll cover that. Clearly, the women in your family don't know a lot about planned pregnancy."
Mary-Margaret growled. David petted her arm.
"Now," Regina said, taking a Barbie and Ken doll out of her purse. "I don't believe sexual education is just about contraceptive use. It's also about how two partners can achieve truly pleasurable intimacy. So, David, Mary-Margaret, I'd like you to take these dolls and show me how you have coitus."
Here, Mary-Margaret began planning her revenge.
Early the next morning, she drove to Regina's house, picked the lock, went into the kitchen, and baked a fast batch of pancakes. As soon as they were made, she checked the clock. It was 5 AM. Hours before Regina's schedule demanded she get up. Smiling to herself, Mary-Margaret headed up the stairs, went to Regina's bedroom, and threw open the door.
"Mommy, I made you breakfast in bed!" she cried at the top of her lungs, before seeing Regina was already up.
As was Emma.
"Oh God!" Mary-Margaret dropped the tray of pancakes and backed out of the room. "Oh God!"
"We went over this when we discussed the birds and the bees," Regina called after her.
Emma just held a pillow over her face. "You guys are so weird."
The last straw came next week, when Mary-Margaret came downstairs to find that Regina had covered her table in brochures. College brochures.
"No daughter of mine," Regina began, "is going to go without a college education. Of course, you don't have a high school education either, but I'm sure you can get a GED with a minimum of fuss. Everyone on Teen Mom got theirs just fine."
"Oh, like you have an education!" Mary-Margaret hissed.
"I took several correspondence courses during my time as Mayor. And there is no shame in pursuing a college education as an adult."
Emma, who'd been napping on the couch, opened her eyes to see they were at it again.
"I am not leaving Storybrooke! In fact, I don't think I'll be doing anything you say! Henry should learn that if his mother ever tells him to do things that are wrong, he shouldn't do them!"
"Can we not teach him that?" Emma asked. She was ignored.
"So now it's wrong to go to college?"
"I'm not going!"
"My house, my rules."
"This isn't your house! It's mine!"
"As I recall, I created this whole town out of nothing through my magic. Ergo, it's my house."
"Maybe," Mary-Margaret scowled, "that explains why everything in this town looks like crap!"
"I will not be spoken to that way, missy!"
"Well you'd better get used to it, because in case you haven't watched a sitcom in the last twenty years, daughters are rebellious and they date people who wear leather and ride on motorcycles and listen to black people singing!"
"Guys, now it's getting a little racist," Emma pointed out. She was ignored.
"Alright then." Regina parked herself in a chair. "I brought you into this world, Mary-Margaret, and I can take you out of it!"
Mary-Margaret blinked. "No you didn't!"
"Yes, I did. Curse, remember?"
"Not for the last twenty-eight years, thanks."
"Okay, sassy-mouth, you are all out of chances to be good. Get over here, park your little butt over my lap, and get ready for a bruising!"
Mary-Margaret gasped. "I am not letting you spank me!"
"It's obviously the only way you'll learn. Come on now. It'll only be ten if you do it without dawdling."
"I. Am not. Doing it!"
"Right now, young lady, or do you want me to ground you for a week as well?"
"I wouldn't let you spank me if you had the last hands on Earth!" Mary-Margaret said, before figuring out that didn't make much sense.
Emma shot up. "You two are being ridiculous! Regina, honestly, who uses corporal punishment anymore? And Mary-Margaret, c'mon, like Regina spanks that hard anyway!"
Both women stopped to stare at her.
Emma laughed nervously. "Isn't it amazing how you both imagined I said that at the same time?"
Regina crossed her arms. "Well, Mary-Margaret, as your future stepmother, Emma brings up a good point."
Emma waved her arms. "Oh, no, no, no, no, no…"
"As Emma doesn't believe in it, we won't use spanking to discipline you. But I am saying no screens for two weeks."
"I hate you! I wish I had never been born!"
"I wish that too!"
Mary-Margaret ran upstairs.
Emma thunked her head into the couch. "I hope you have a plan to fix this. Not only are you convincing Mary-Margaret you're her mom, but you're being a really crappy mom too."
"I know how to fix this." Regina went to stairs and called up "Mary-Margaret? You wanna come downstairs? We're going to fix caramel popcorn and watch The Princess Diaries."
"I don't wanna watch The Princess Diaries!" Mary-Margaret yelled down.
Regina looked at Emma. "Okay, I think I might've done some real damage…"
"I'll go talk to her."
Emma should've been disturbed by Mary-Margaret's sewing room-the punk album playing on the stereo, the Mötley Crüe posters she'd found at Goodwill and hung up, or maybe just the teddy bear wearing a black T-shirt and making a rock gesture. That was just tacky. But then, once Emma had caught Mary-Margaret in the woods, shooting arrows at a tree and listening to Everclear on her iPod. Clearly, people from the Enchanted Forest relaxed differently than normal people.
"Look, Ma, I'm going to marry Regina. I gave it a few weeks so you two could get your latest feud out of your system, but now you're starting to freak me out."
Mary-Margaret looked up from the aggressively violent Nintendo 3DS game she'd been playing. "I don't care if you do marry her. You're not my real mom!"
Emma paused a moment. "Obviously." She sat down on the cot beside Mary-Margaret, which she regretted once she realized how motherly that was. Had she ever sat down on a bed with a female friend? Well, Regina. Well, that had ended very differently. "I think maybe this is bringing up some pretty deep-seated mother issues with you."
Mary-Margaret laughed. "I don't have mommy issues! Why would I? Just because my biological mother was so perfect and loving, until she was murdered by a woman whose daughter then married daddy and killed him and then tried to kill me and then tried to seduce my husband and is now sleeping with my daughter?"
Emma decided it would probably be best not to comment on how Archie had picked one hell of a good place to be a psychologist.
"Fine. I'll admit it. Regina isn't really my mother. You can marry her."
Emma hugged her. "Thanks, mom."
"But, if she's going to be my daughter-in-law, I'm going to need certain concessions."
Emma stopped hugging her. "Like what?"
"You've ruined Halloween for me," Regina enunciated as slowly and precisely as she could. "Do you know how important Halloween is to a villain? It's like Christmas, but with better music."
"Oh, pipe down." Mary-Margaret took a picture. "You look great. We all do! That's the wonder of matching costumes!"
Regina pulled at the felt hiding the body she took so much pride in. "I'm dressed as Squirtle!"
"Yes, and I'm Bulbasaur!" Mary-Margaret struggled to set the camera on automatic so she could get a group shot of the three of them. "What's your point?"
"I think," Emma said from within the depths of her Charmander costume, "that she would rather have been a Fire-type."
"We drew lots fair and square, Emma." The camera went off. Mary-Margaret cursed. "Fiddlesticks! Hold on, let me find David. He'll know how to operate this contraption, and he'll look darling as Pikachu!"
As she turned to leave, Regina's photogenic smile was looking more and more like someone had wired her mouth open.
"It could be worse," Emma reminded her wife gently. "At least we're generation one."