Disclaimer: I do not own Once Upon a Time or any recognizable characters.
AN: This was inspired by a tumblr edit by incognitobey. Check out their super cute post on their tumblr page: post/65225152941/regina-enter-grannys-ruby-regina- you-forget. This is set months after Neverland when things have relatively cooled down. I know tonight's episode isn't going to be one of SWEN's favourites, but hopefully some good ol' fluff will remedy that.
"Henry, don't forget we have an appointment with Dr. Hopper in the evening," Regina called out after her son as he raced down the stairs.
"I know," he responded back, running around the living room in his haste to gather his school bag.
"And Emma will be picking you up from school today," she reminded him, moving out of the kitchen and holding up his lunch bag.
"I know, Mom," Henry said quickly as he grabbed his lunch bag, nearly tripping over his laces in the process.
"Henry," Regina scolded. The boy was smart enough to know that he would not be going anywhere any time soon with his laces undone, so he backpedaled and sat at the foot of the stairs, struggling to untie the tangle of his laces.
A beep in the kitchen had Regina turning her head and zeroing in on her phone. She smiled fondly at her son before departing for the kitchen island and picked up her device, unsurprised to find a text message from Emma.
Your son is taking forever.
Regina mentally rolled her eyes, imaging Emma's ungodly yellow beetle parked outside the mansion. Her lips twitched upwards as she responded. Oh, so he's my son now?
Only when he's a slow poke. Couldn't have gotten that from me.
Regina smirked at her phone. Because we all know how timely you are. It was the shuffling of Henry's feet as he shot up from the stairs that prompted Regina to quickly add onto her message. He'll be out in a minute.
"Bye, Mom!" Henry called from the foyer.
"Have a good day, Henry!" She called back with an affectionate sigh. She heard the door slam shut behind him, making a mental note to remind him to close the door gently, but as soon as the thought flitted into her mind, the front door opened and slammed shut again, and Henry's racing feet brought him into the kitchen.
Regina barely had time to register his arms wrapped around her waist as he hugged her tightly. "You too, Mom. Love you."
Her heart swelled as she wrapped her arms around him and pecked the top of his head. "I love you too, dear."
She walked him to the door this time, holding it open as she waved him down the walkway. Looking up, she saw Emma inside her car, turning her body to face them. Meeting jade eyes, Regina's own brown eyes crinkled as she smiled at the Sheriff, offering her a wave and a nod which Emma returned with a full blown grin.
As soon as Henry was seated in the car and they had driven away, Regina allowed herself a moment of gratitude. It had been several long months since their trek from Neverland, but it was a journey that seemed to be sobering for all. Upon their return, she and Henry had revisited their relationship, seeking Dr. Hopper's help in order for the boy to better understand his mother, and for Regina to explain and apologize for all her past actions. It terrified Regina at first to be so open with the one person who truly possessed the power to end her, but she found her relationship with Henry growing more and more with each passing day.
And then there was Emma.
The truce they had formed in Neverland extended to an odd sort of friendship when they returned to Storybrooke. It shocked Regina when Emma was just as willing to have a shared custody over Henry, and over the months, that friendship started to become something much more.
In the past, the blonde would simply pick up and drop off Henry whenever she had her days with him, but upon Archie's suggestion of making amends with those she had wronged, all it had taken was a dinner invitation out to Granny's where Regina, Henry, and Emma gathered for their first of many family meals. Though Regina never voiced that she saw those dinners as something likening to a family, for those two hours where she could share in Henry and Emma's life, it felt as such. She wasn't sure when exactly the family dinners started to become dinners alone with Emma since Henry had started making friends, but even that began to escalate to weekly lunches. Soon the two women had begun hanging out outside of Henry, whether they would spontaneously meet at the grocery store or absent-mindedly take the long way home after work. Whatever it was, whether there was something more between herself or Emma, or perhaps this was what happiness felt like, Regina was holding on to it as tightly as she could.
"Hey Regina," Ruby greeted Regina as she settled into her regular booth in the middle of the diner. "Emma's on her way?"
"She should be, though she has a tendency of being late," Regina answered wryly.
"I resent that." Emma said as she emerged from the back, sliding into the seat across from Regina. "I'm not always late."
"Forty-two what?" Emma asked narrowing her eyes.
"You've been late forty-two times," Regina said simply.
Emma opened her mouth to argue but then snapped it shut in contemplation. "You kept count?"
"I'll give you guys a minute," Ruby said with a smirk before bowing out.
Regina blushed, bringing the menu up to her face to hide the pink colouring her cheeks. "I'm observant," she simply provided as way of answer.
"You kept count." Emma sat back in the booth, cocky now.
Regina sent her a glare that although silenced the blonde, did nothing to remove the smug smile from her lips.
"To be fair, you've held the track record of being late twice to lunch, Madame Mayor."
"One was a meeting, that didn't count."
"It totally counts," Emma argued.
"And the other was because our Sheriff insisted on dropping her paperwork a mere hour before my lunch break," Regina reminded her pointedly. "So who's keeping track now?"
"Two is nothing compared forty-two."
Regina grimaced feeling her cheeks heat up. "Just order your grilled cheese."
"Who said I was going to get that today?" Emma said almost offended when Ruby came by and Regina took the liberty of handing Emma's menu to the waitress. When Regina just stared expectantly at Emma, daring her to prove her wrong, the blonde huffed and crossed her arms over her chest. "Grilled cheese, please. And an iced tea this time."
"Adventurous," Regina mocked, dodging the wrapped up napkin Emma had thrown her way before sharing in matching grins.
Their lunch continued on as it had any other day. There was never a moment of silence that proved uncomfortable for the ladies, and despite Regina's reservations on fried foods, Emma always made it point to get extra fries for them to share. By the time they had finished, it was well past the time for Regina and Emma to return to work. Emma had gotten up from the table, insisting lunch was her treat, leaving Regina to linger at the table and watch as Emma made small talk with Granny, the crinkles of her eyes shining with mirth as she smiled at the old woman. Regina didn't have time to look away when Emma suddenly turned back to Regina, catching the brunette's eyes and offering a wide smile. She felt something heat up deep within her belly as she turned her head and shut her eyes, mentally scolding herself for watching Emma in such a way. What they had was good, and Regina was not willing to ruin it because of this attraction to the blonde.
A beeping phone got her attention, but as she dug through her bag, she realized it was Emma's lying carelessly beside the salt shaker. She couldn't help but see that the text message on the blurred out wallpaper screen was from Henry, and what she could make of the message had her panicking in moments: Mom, I need help…
The ellipses following it told Regina there was more to it, and without thinking, she grabbed Emma's phone and slid the lock key only to be stopped by a password.
"What are you doing?" Emma asked with wide eyes standing beside their booth.
Regina held her hands up in surrender. "I'm sorry, you had a text from Henry, and I was concerned."
Emma grabbed the phone from the table and slid back into the seat across from Regina, her demeanour rigid and distant as she fiddled with the device. As soon as the telltale sound that the phone had been unlocked sounded, Regina watched Emma's expression, hoping to catch anything that revealed Henry was hurt or if Emma was truly upset with her. Instead, she watched as a small smile flitted across Emma's face as her eyes lightened up at the screen before it was gone within an instant. "It's fine," she muttered as she tapped into her icons and displayed the message to Regina. "He just needs help with a project and wants to go to the store."
Regina nodded relieved but couldn't help but be thrown off with Emma's refusal to make eye contact with her. "I didn't mean to pry into your phone," Regina said cautiously.
"No, no, it's cool, it's just, you know, private stuff," Emma muttered and clicked the hold button to lock the device again. She slid the phone into her jacket pocket before motioning to the door. "Ready?"
Regina nodded, silently beating herself up over Emma's reaction but couldn't help but wonder what on earth the blonde kept hidden away on her phone.
If it hadn't been for the email Regina had received just before lunch, she would have sworn Emma was still upset with her about invading her privacy. Emma hadn't called or texted her at all the night before or this morning. She was thankful today was her day to bring Henry to school for she had no idea if Emma was going to show up at all. She exhaled a sigh of relief upon reading Emma's email to meet at Granny's again for lunch and was eager to get there in order to properly apologize to the blonde.
She stepped into the diner just before noon, nodding her head in greeting at Ruby.
"Hey, Regina," Ruby said from behind the counter before ducking down and retrieving something. She placed a cell phone in front of the older brunette. "You left this in the booth yesterday."
Regina narrowed her eyes and dug into her purse. "That's not mine, dear. Mine is right here." She held up her own phone as proof.
Ruby made a face before picking up the phone. "That's weird. I was sure it was yours." She pressed the home screen button and brought the phone to life, showing it to Regina. "See the wallpaper?"
Regina gasped sharply as she took the phone in her hand and looked at the lock screen. It was a picture of her and Henry from a couple months back as they sat in the very booth she and Emma occupied on a near daily basis. They were both smiling at the camera with the boy nestled on Regina's knee as he pressed their heads together for the shot. She remembered posing for that picture quite vividly, but what shocked her the most was that there was only one person who would have taken that picture.
The bell to the diner jingled as someone strode in. "Hey, Rubes, have you seen my phone?"
Regina turned, her lips still parted as she eyed Emma curiously.
"I think Granny needs help with something," Ruby said though her words fell on deaf ears as Emma and Regina continued to gawk at one another.
Emma eyed the phone in Regina's hand as the lock screen faded black. "Hey," Emma shuffled from foot to foot before extending her hand for her device.
Regina handed it back silently, watching as Emma pressed the home button, lighting up the screen once more before glancing back at Regina. "You saw, didn't you?" Emma asked awkwardly.
"Yes," Regina nodded
"I'm not a weird stalker or anything," Emma rushed to explain before chuckling nervously. "I just – yeah, I don't really have a good excuse for why you and Henry are my wallpaper right now."
Regina smirked as Emma floundered. She could still see the gears shifting in Emma's head as she continued to find a suitable answer. It all suddenly made sense. The panic that Regina could have possibly seen her phone, the way Emma was more than eager to share in their family bonding time, the shared looks that for the longest time Regina was certain they were one-sided, but now she had confirmation. Swallowing hard, Regina stepped toward Emma and placed a hand on her arm. "Would you like to have dinner with me?"
"Yeah, I was gonna come over later anyway," Emma nodded animatedly, eager to latch onto any semblance of normal conversation.
"Like a date," Regina clarified.
"A date," Emma repeated. "Just you and me? On a date?"
Regina nodded, hoping she wasn't wrong about reading the signs. A burden was lifted from her shoulder when Emma grinned and nodded. "Yeah. I'd love to go on a date with you."
-Two Months Later-
Regina walked into Granny's diner, already walking up to the counter to get Ruby's attention.
"Hey." Ruby pulled a phone out of her apron. "Emma needs to strap this to her hand or something."
Regina took it graciously, pressing the home screen button to light up the wallpaper. It was of herself, Emma, and Henry all bright with smiles on their faces fighting to get their heads into the picture. She mimicked their expression before turning a thankful eye to the waitress. "Thank you, Miss Lucas, but this time it's mine."