We Can Love Again

Above Average

At promptly 8:15 in the morning, Regina's electronic hotel alarm clock went off, playing an oddly familiar song off the radio. While Emma simply groaned and flipped over in her bed, Regina was up and ready, slipping out of bed and navigating around the piles of shopping bags they had obtained from the previous day. Though she didn't quite like Emma's intentions of escaping for a while, she had to hand it to her- being on vacation was fun, even if it meant being away from her family.

"You better be up by the time I finish showering," Regina said, grabbing a towel and shutting the door behind her. She had let the song continue playing on her alarm clock; maybe to coax the blonde out of bed.

But the queen's expectation of the savior fell flat very quickly. Emma wasn't about to spend her vacation away from the hassles of home waking up early, so she continued to sleep while the shower continued to run.

"Get up! The store opens in twenty minutes! We have a big day today, and I'm not about to waste any of it." Regina said, throwing a pillow in her direction and turning off the alarm clock.

A mound of blonde hair emerged from underneath the bedsheets. "Fine, just quit harassing me," she muttered, seeming to struggle at forcing herself to get out of bed.

Running a brush through her hair, Regina traced her fingers down the subway paths of the map in front of her.

"I think we can take the S train to get there, but to do that we'll have to walk a little ways to get to the station."

To her surprise, Emma already had jeans and a shirt on by the time she turned her attention off the map.

"I've been to New York before, I know how to navigate the subways," she told her, leaning into the bathroom mirror to apply her makeup. "Are you excited to start looking?"

She didn't know if excited was the appropriate word for the situation- she was excited to get married, yes, but she knew that she was in for a day of pure trail and error.

"I just hope we can find one," Regina said, grabbing her purse and heading towards the door. "Now let's go. The city awaits."

Emma gave her a look as she rushed for her things before the queen left her- she knew she would.

It still amazed her how many people were out so early in the morning. The city was alive, constantly moving in a flow of people down the traffic jammed street. The weather was slightly warmer than that of Maine; it was nearing the end of spring, and the thoughts of summer had already begun to enter into her mind. And when she thought of summer, she could only think of one thing- marrying Robin of Locksley.

The two women entered into the current of people, both having a coffee in hand as they started off towards the subway station. For being a queen, it was nice for Regina to have nobody know who she was. For once, she was just like everyone else.

"It's weird to think these things run right underneath the city," Regina told Emma as they boarded one of the subways, sitting down in one of the seats and nervously watching the lights begin to blur as the subway began to move.

Emma almost had to laugh at the sight; the evil queen seemed so out of place inside a subway car. "How else are people supposed to get places? Not every town is as tiny as Storybrooke- or as nonexistent."

She clutched her coffee in her hands until the ride was over, the thought of it all still plaiting her mind with terror. When the subway finally stopped at their destination,

Emma grabbed her hand and pulled her towards the door. Regina absolutely hated crowds, all the reasons for her not to move there in the future.

"Subways are disgusting," she remarked coldly, beginning to glance around at all the shops and stores when they emerged from the subway station.

"I know, people in the real world are disgusting." The blonde told her, making Regina smile.

"Then I suppose it's fitting that you grew up here," she said smugly, earning her a jab in the ribs.

"Henry has to get his fun from somewhere! And you want me to help you with your wedding problems?"

The store was finally in sight. It was absolutely gigantic, looming before them. Regina was so relieved she had Emma with her to help her find the right dress.

"Okay, I'm sorry. Are you ready for all of this?"

"Well, I'm not the one trying on the dresses, so I can't answer that. Just remember- they're just dresses, so there's nothing to get worked up about. We'll find one, I promise."

Emma's words quickly made sense as they entered into the store. An employee there quickly ushered them into a dressing room surrounded by mirrors, asking questions rapidly as Regina struggled to answer. The two of them were handed dress after dress as the woman helping them pulled them off the hangars- they were huge dresses too. Soon, Emma and Regina were left in the room with about fifteen dresses and a large mirror.

"Oh my-"

"Don't say it," Emma quickly cut her off, "we're going to get through this if we remain calm. So let's pick one of these dresses out and try it on."

Taking a shaky breath, Regina nodded hesitantly. "Alright then. Let's start easy."

Emma selected one of the dresses off the rack and instantly put it back, seeing it had obnoxiously puffy sleeves on it.

"See? We can eliminate some of these. Unless you wanted to try this one on."

She immediately shook her head, causing Emma to snicker as she picked out another one.

Regina thought she was a pro at putting on dresses, but after a minute of attempting one with quarter inch sleeves and a three foot train off the back, she realized that she was horribly wrong.

"Is it even supposed to go on this way?" Regina demanded, the dress halfway onto her body, her head still stuck inside of it.

"Yes, quit moving!" Emma replied briskly, trying her best to pull the dress down over her shoulders. "Are you sure you're a size four?"

When she finally got her head and arms through, Regina glared at her mercilessly.

"Of course I'm sure! I've been working out every day for the past month."

Emma decided to divert the conversation before the woman ended up killing her. "Well, I think you look good in the dress."

It was beaded in the front with different shades of white, the bottom splayed out with tool and other expensive fabrics. Regina studied herself for a moment, using her tactics she had used while being queen to analyze how the dress looked on her.

"It's a fine dress, but I think there's a better one out there." She finally said, "after all, this is the most important moment in my life we're talking about. I want to look more than just average."

Emma retained her smile and pulled the zipper to the back of the dress back down. "Okay, let's find the more than just average dress then."

So they continued to try on dresses, one after another, placing them in piles deemed as 'no' and 'maybe'. There could only be one yes, and it was proving to be difficult to find. The employee helping them out kept bringing more and dresses into their room, promising that the bride to be was bound to find one in the pile she brought them.

Emma was tempted to challenge her promise and ask her if she wanted to deal with an impatient queen.

"Are you sure you even want a white one?" The blonde asked, "they have red, black... I think I even saw a pink one back there."

Regina didn't even need to answer that question. She simply sent her friend a dangerous glare that told her everything she needed to know.

"Miss Swan, why don't you stop looking at the dresses and help me button this?"

With a daring roll of eyes, Emma obeyed, pulling her hair back so she could work on buttoning the line of buttons down her back. The dress she was currently wearing fit her figure well, but the front had an extremely low v neck in the front.

"You look sexy, but are you sure you want to look this sexy in front of your kids?"

Regina sighed. "Yeah, you're right. Better start unbuttoning the buttons."

Before the blonde could start grudgingly reversing the work she had done a moment before, Regina's phone began to ring on the small table beside them. Emma grabbed it in an instant, plopping herself down on the only couch in the room and answering it.

"Oh hey Robin, it's Emma. We're in the middle of trying on dresses right now. Yeah, it's going good, we still haven't found anything though."

Regina was silently motioning for her to put him on speaker, but she blatantly ignored her and continued on the conversation.

"How have things been back at home?"

"Pretty well, though your mom insists on staying the night to help out with Caroline. I honestly don't think she has much faith in me and my skill in childcare."

Emma let out a chuckle as she watched Regina struggle with the buttons herself while glaring at her. "No, she just has a thing with your baby, that's all. I don't understand it either, but just let her do her thing. Are the leftovers in the fridge tasting good?"

Robin sighed. "Last night's lasagna sure did, but today Henry ate all of tonight's dinner after school, so Ruby's been here for the last hour or so cooking something. Are you two having fun over there?"

Regina eventually got the blonde's attention by snapping her fingers, pointing towards the last dress in the back. Emma reluctantly got up and propped the phone on her shoulder, picking up the dress and carrying it over to her, where undid the zipper in the back and prepared to bring it over her head.

"We're having loads of fun! Nothing like New York City." She managed to say, worried she would drop the phone as she pulled the dress down over her body.

"Should I call back? You seem busy."

"Nah, this dress is just being stubborn. Do you want to talk to Regina?"She knew that would excite him to no end.

"Sure, if she's not too preoccupied over there."

The phone was then transferred over to Regina, who seemed more than relieved to finally get ahold of it.

"Hey, how have you been?" She asked enthusiastically, having not spoken to him since she left.

"Fine, Caroline's fine, the boys are fine, we've just been missing you. Everything feels different without you here."

Regina smiled warmly at the comment. "This sounds stupid, but I miss hearing your voice. Has Snow and Will been a good help to you with everything?"

"Yeah, Will's been keeping the boys entertained. I think I've seen Snow put Caroline down about five times since yesterday morning. I've barely had any time with her."

Regina let out a small hiss when Emma accidentally stepped on her foot, hoping desperately Robin didn't hear it on the other end of the line. Thankfully, he didn't seem to.

"That's... That's good. I mean not good. Sorry, I'm a mess, we've been at this dress shop for hours and we keep hitting dead ends."

Emma stepped back and marveled at the view in front of her, a smile soon appearing on her face as she admired the dress.

Regina eyed her strangely as she tried to keep paying attention to what her fiancé was telling her.

"You'll find something soon, don't give up just yet." He said in hope of encouraging her.

"I really hope-"

"Sorry Robin, we're gonna have to go," Emma said, taking her phone from her and interrupting their conversation. She ended the call right after, not even waiting for him to respond.

"What was that all about?" Regina demanded, her patience vanishing at once.

With her hands on her shoulders, the blonde rotated her body towards the full length mirror without a word. When she saw what she looked like, Regina's anger stopped dead inside of her. She couldn't believe it. She looked more than just average, she looked stunning.

"I... Just... Wow." She muttered, honestly not believing what she saw in the mirror to be true. The entire dress was a perfect white color; it was strapless, with the sweetheart neckline over her front fit her breasts perfectly, the middle hugging her waist, and the bottom flowing out into a modest train behind her. The entire dress was made of satin, giving her a radiant look. Neither of them knew how it happened... Everything just clicked.

"That's definitely the one," Emma finally said, giving her a pat on the back, "I'll go find our employee person. Don't touch a anything while I'm gone."

The former queen couldn't have taken it off if she tried. As she stared at herself in the mirror, all she could think about was the time when she was back in her castle, standing before the mirror Rumplestiltskin had enchanted for her. She had been surrounded by servants tending to her dress, invading her space and poking needles everywhere. Her mother had been there too, and she kept telling her how beautiful she was in that dress, how pleased the King would be when he saw her in it on their wedding day. And she was right, Leopold was pleased. But he loved nothing more than her outside appearance, the inside growing and twisting in turmoil, wrought with depression and hate.

In her current dress, in that moment, Regina couldn't have felt more beautiful. But she also knew that Robin also strived to love the rest of her, her true self, even the parts that weren't so desirable. He made his way into her life and slowly into her heart, making her feel wanted, desired in ways she didn't think were possible, and excited, like a lovestruck girl falling completely head over heels for a man that would continue to make her life better every day they were together. Not just any man, but her soulmate, her one true love.

Regina was finally going to marry her soulmate.

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