max1603 asked: Emma, Regina & Henry's first Christmas together as a family, decorating the Christmas tree.
A/N: This is completely AU from canon (obviously) but it also fits nowhere in any of my ongoing WIPs nor my collaborative series with paradoxalpoised, Encounters. It takes place after "Broken" but Emma (and Snow) did not fall into Jefferson's hat so nothing happened the same in season 2 either since Regina instead saved Emma.
Emma dug into her small box of belongings. Regina had told her after Sunday brunch they were decorating the tree she, Henry, and Emma had brought home from the tree farm the day after Thanksgiving.
She was excited; Regina had decorated a tree with Henry every year - except last year, Emma's first year in Storybrooke. Within a few months after saving Regina from the wraith attack and sending it to oblivion in the Enchanted Forest with Regina frantically grabbing and pulling Emma away before the portal could take her, Emma and Regina had realized what their combined magic had always known: they were better together.
For saving Emma, Snow had even held firm on her stance that first morning after the curse broke on the Mifflin porch and protected Regina from townspeople who might still be out for blood with an edict of pardon. Regina hadn't wanted it, still pained by Daniel's death and Snow's part in it, but Henry had been so excited when he flung himself into her arms with cries of happy endings and "I knew it!"
It wasn't long after that that Emma's protective patrols on Mifflin Street turned into breakfast stops for a shared coffee as Henry ran off to school. Those soon became "have an omelet" and, oh god, Regina made these cheesy, mushroomy, incredible omelets, with bits of orange and red pepper, simply, to die for.
Soon in the evenings there were dinners, with Regina and Henry. Emma would eat and run back out onto patrol. Dinners lengthened with "please stay" from Henry, and Regina's offers of after-dinner coffee. On one night had come an invitation to see Henry off to bed. A nightcap of Regina's positively bedeviling cider followed.
The cider led to their first kiss. Emma still didn't know who had moved first. And a first kiss had become other nights with more kisses. Their first sex had been two weeks later. Emma had found herself, after Regina locked the study door, having sex on the grand desk before the window where Regina had first spied her cutting into the woman's prized apple tree. Emma had been shown, in no uncertain terms, exactly what had been going through Regina's mind during that morning confrontation. It was a heady experience to be made love to by the Evil Queen. The woman was bottled passion, with a teasing, torturous approach to seduction and sex, but she was simultaneously only willing to pull out of Emma that which she wanted to give.
All the while Emma was thinking about the beginning of their relationship, she continued to remove items from her two boxes of belongings from Boston. Finally, at the bottom of the second box, she located the object of her search. Pulling it out, she unrolled the cotton t-shirt carefully, scrutinizing the object within to assure herself it was still intact. She rebundled it and, tucking it under her arm, she headed back out the door to her Bug and drove carefully to Mifflin Street through the first snowfall of the season.
"Emma!" Henry greeted her at the door and flung himself into her body. Carefully she held her arms up, cradling her precious cargo. He stepped back and looked at the bundle she held to her chest. "Hey, whatcha got?"
"It's 'what do you have?', Henry." Emma looked up from her son's face to see Regina approaching the doorway. "Please come in, Emma, we don't want to continue to heat the outdoors."
"Right." Emma blinked away from the killer dress Regina was wearing. It was red, trimly cut to her waist, with a straight skirt but the front had been low and tight and… Emma licked her lips. "I brought something for the tree," she said quietly.
"I look forward to the addition," Regina said. "Henry, show Emma to the front room. I'll bring our snacks."
Henry grabbed Emma's hand and she followed him into the front room. It wasn't often used; Regina preferred the coziness of the parlor. But this room faced onto the front yard with a huge picture window. Now Emma knew why the tree went here. No one would be able to miss it.
The outside of the house would be decorated next week, but Regina had said they always started the season off decorating their tree the weekend after Thanksgiving.
Henry let go of her hand to run across to stacks of boxes Regina had obviously retrieved from storage. Emma took a moment just to absorb the stately eight-foot conifer. The tree farm owner had proudly shown them his balsam firs, native to the northeast, and Henry had selected this one, with its full branches and even tapering round shape. She looked toward the top and critically judged the trio of branches by hefting the bundle in her hands.
"Emma?" Regina's voice sounded behind her. "Eggnog?" she asked when Emma turned.
Emma smiled and set down her bundle, reaching for the tray. "Alcohol?" she asked.
"Not until later. I wanted Henry to enjoy, too."
Emma set the tray down with its trio of short stout glasses and crystal decanter of creamy eggnog, and a selection of homemade sugar cookies in festive shapes and covered in red, white, and green sprinkles. She poured out and passed around the glasses. Henry took his back to the floor near the boxes where he was already in the process of opening and sorting and arranging.
"So, how are we gonna do this?" Emma asked.
"Mom, where's the icicles?"
"It's there, darling," Regina told Henry. "I promise I brought it all out." Henry went back to digging around. "You should start with the hanging ornaments," she reminded him.
Regina coaxed Emma to the sofa where they settled together, sipping their eggnog. Regina reached across Emma's lap toward the bundle Emma had brought. "What's this?"
"Mine," Emma startled, laying a protective hand over it so Regina wouldn't lift it or uncover it. "Uh, I mean it's my contribution to the tree."
"I thought maybe you'd bring popcorn strings," Regina said.
"We can still make that here. This…" Emma studied the bundle, seeing its lines and curves in her memory. "This is… I got this... a long time ago," she settled on for an explanation.
"Will I get to hear the story?" Regina asked. Henry had finally come over with a box of ornaments for them each. She stood with her box and Emma found her jaw tipped up by Regina's soft fingers.
"If you like it, yeah." Emma swallowed as Regina's fingers slid down her throat and Regina bent close, lightly catching her lips with a chaste kiss.
When she pulled away, Regina smiled, but said nothing. Emma stood with her own box.
The trio went around for more than an hour, through six more boxes of ornaments, from classic golden filigree red, blue, and green balls, to a tiny set of reindeer, labeled with the name of each of Santa's sleigh-pulling team. There were handmade ornaments, too. Henry's handprints cut out and put together like angel wings. Pictures of Henry at every age, in popsicle stick frames. Two photos of Henry and Regina were screen printed on larger white balls. The first was Regina holding baby Henry. The second was obviously Henry's first year at school. Regina then brought out a third ball from a box on the mantel. Henry smiled at her, took it, and handed it to Emma who realized she was supposed to open it.
"It's the new one for the tree," Henry said.
Laser printed on the curved surface of the soft gold ball ornament was a picture of the three of them, her, Regina, and Henry. It looked like they were in the kitchen, Regina and Emma leaning on the preparation island toward one another with Henry bouncing at the far end of it excitedly. She thought maybe it had been the day Regina first invited her to dinner, following one of their breakfasts.
"I have security cameras," Regina explained. "I took a screencap from the recording."
"It's wonderful," Emma said. That had been well before their first kiss. Had Regina really seen them - seen Emma - as family even then? She studied the screened image then looked at Regina again. The woman's cheeks were definitely a little pinker than usual. Emma smiled. "So, on the tree, huh?"
"Family tree," Henry said.
"Why don't you find a place for it," Emma said, handing it to him. She reached for Regina's hand and laced their fingers together as they both watched Henry circle the tree twice before locating a suitable branch.
"Thank you, Regina," she said quietly.
"Thank you, Emma," Regina replied just as quietly. "So, I think we're ready for the tree topper, Henry."
Henry started for the last box.
"May I put up mine?" Emma asked.
"Is that what's in your shirt?" Henry asked.
"Yeah. I… Let me show it to you, and you guys decide if it belongs, okay?" Emma pulled the bundle onto her lap on the sofa and gently unwrapped the keepsake.
"It's an angel," she explained. Regina and Henry were staring at it, staring at her. Man, this was awkward. "I… I found it."
Regina's hand slipped over Emma's while she was tracing the ceramic lines of the angel's pleated gown. The coloring was cream, the accents green, and the hair black as midnight with dabs of brown in the eyes. "It looks more like a fairy godmother," Regina said. There was a wand in the figure's tiny hand. "How many years have you had this?"
"A… a while." She glanced at Regina then at Henry who seemed to be surprised by his mother's words. "I always thought she would be the perfect topper to a Christmas tree, but I never had a chance to…"
"Well, it is going on this tree," Regina stated. "I'll hold the stepladder for you." She brought Emma to her feet and put the ornament back in her hands. "Here."
Emma stepped up and placed the hollowed skirt of the angel over the top branches. Afraid it might fall, she slowly removed her hands, vigilant for any wobble that suggested it would tumble. But she scanned it from skirt to face and felt it would be okay. The figure sparkled. Emma wiped her eyes thinking she was tearing up.
But her eyes weren't wet.
Emma looked down to see Regina holding the stepladder, arms to either side of Emma's thighs. The brunette's brown eyes were showing slight concern. "I think it's up."
"All right." Regina reached up to hold Emma's hand as she stepped down.
Their fingers touched, and magic tingled behind Emma's ear. Emma turned her head and her glance caught sight of the tree topper.
She gasped and missed the last step falling into Regina's arms. The ornament had winked at her and the wand had moved, she was sure of it.
"Hey?" Emma asked, looking up from her safety in strong arms.
"Yes?" Regina hugged her close.
Emma lifted a hand and cupped the back of Regina's head, pulling the warm lips down into a deep kiss. When she finally released Regina, they both looked at Henry who only laughed. "Moms!"
"Merry Christmas, my clumsy Swan." Regina pressed amused lips to the tip of Emma's nose.
"Merry Christmas, Regina."