Not as it Seems


The next morning Regina woke with a weight on her chest. Regina looked down and realized that Emma has her head resting on her sternum with one arm thrown across her stomach while she sucks on her thumb with the other. Regina smiles and strokes Emma's hair out of her face. Regina turns her head and sees her clock, 6:05AM, her alarm is going to go off shortly. She doesn't want to go into work today, she just wants to take the time to get to know Emma.

Regina makes a decision and carefully gets out of bed, without waking Emma, and turns off the alarm. Regina throws on her robe and heads downstairs to her office.

When she enters her office she dials her assistant, Jenna, and leaves a message letting her know that she will not be in the office again today, and that if there are any documents that need to be signed they are to be brought to her house.

Regina finishes the call and heads into the kitchen to start making breakfast. She figured that Emma could use a good breakfast. Regina turns on the radio and listens to the soft sounds on Jazz. When a particularly good song came on Regina turned the volume up just a tad, and hummed along to the song.

Just as Regina flipped the last pancake and placed it onto the plate she heard feet coming down the stairs. Regina smiled just at the thought of seeing Emma.

Regina's smile dropped when she turned around and saw a crying Emma standing in the doorway.

Regina quickly turned off the music and looked back at Emma, "Emma? Sweetheart what's wrong?"

Emma didn't say anything she just ran to Regina and wrapped her arms around Regina's legs.

Regina undid Emma arms, from around her legs, and knelt on the floor. Regina held Emma's hands and waited for Emma to stop crying and calm down a little.

When Emma's tears stopped flowing and only little hiccups were left Regina wipes Emma face and asks again, "What's the matter?"

Emma looked at the floor and said, "When I woke up you wasn't there. I though you left, and I thought I would have to go back."

Regina's mentally slapped herself. How did she not realize that Emma has abandonment issues, and that by her not being there to say 'good morning' that Emma would think that she didn't want her.

Regina pulled Emma into a hug, she felt Emma wrap her tiny arms around her neck, and squeezed her tight. Regina cradled Emma's head and said, "I am sorry that I wasn't there this morning. I made a mistake. I didn't think how it would make you feel. I am so sorry Emma. But, I promise you, I promise that even if I'm not there when you first wake up know that I will NOT, for ANY reason send you back there. OK."

Emma nodded and Regina gave her a kiss on the forehead. Regina picked Emma up and sat her down at the dinning room table. Regina then left and returned with two plates of apple pancakes, and a bottle of syrup. Emma looked at the pancakes with wide eyes and inadvertently licked her lips.

Regina smiled and went to get Emma some juice and herself a coffee.

When Regina returned Emma was bouncing in her seat. Regina placed Emma's juice in front of her and then sat down at the head of the table next to Emma. Regina looked at Emma, smiled, and said, "Well. Go ahead! Dig in."

Emma smiled and grabbed the syrup and almost drowned her pancakes in syrup. Regina cringed at the amount of sugar but couldn't stop her smile at Emma's happy sticky face.

While they were eating Regina asked, "Emma what do you want to do today?"

Emma looked at Regina and said, "I dunno. What do you wanna do?"

Regina rolled her eyes at the typical annoying answer. Regina chuckled and said, "Well that's not what I asked, but I want to go shopping today for you, get you some new clothes and I also would like to take you to pick out you what bed you want. Then after we could MAYBE get some ice cream or a milkshake. How does that sound?"

Emma was bouncing again and was nodding her head yes.

Regina and Emma finished the rest of breakfast and cleaned up together. Regina washed and Emma sat at the table and dried the dishes. Regina loved the little bonding moments she is having with Emma.

As a child Regina used to wish for moments like these with Cora, but was always denied; thankfully she still had her father. Though he is still alive their relationship has suffered due to Cora's influence. Regina is afraid of what Cora's reaction to Emma is going to be, but she knows that her father Henry will be excited at the thought of having a granddaughter.

Regina put the dishes away and leads Emma up the stairs. Regina dressed Emma in the clothes that came in the backpack and told her to head downstairs and wait for her. Regina got dressed in black dress pants, and white button down t-shirt, and a black vest, with her signature high heels. Regina did her hair and make up and headed downstairs.

Emma could hear Regina coming so she turned off the tv show she was watching and met Regina at the bottom of the stairs. Emma smiled up at Regina and was bouncing on the balls of her feet, "Ready?"

Regina chuckled walked to the kitchen island and grabbed her purse, phone and keys. Regina made her way back to Emma and said, "Yes I am ready, but you need something else it is cold outside."

Emma said, "I don't have any more clothes, this is what I always wear."

Regina was shocked and angered, "Emma, are you telling me you would wear sweatpants and a long sleeve shirt in winter?"

Emma looked at the floor and said, "Yeah, sometimes I would get a warm jacket but only if the older kids weren't wearing it. They needed it more, they had to walk a long time. Auggie would give me his clothes but they were always really really big, but they were warm."

Regina closed her eyes and tried to get the image of an even smaller Emma walking around with almost nothing on in the winter time.

Regina opened the hall closet, grabbed her coat, put it on and said, "Well when we go shopping we will be getting you a coat. In the mean time I'm going to have you share mine ok. So wrap your arms around my neck and I'll pull it closed around us ok."

Emma did as Regina asked and Regina wrapped Emma into her coat as tightly as she could with only one arm. Regina unlocked the car and got Emma into her car seat. Regina got into the drivers side and started the car, they went to the clothing store first.

Emma and Regina parked outside of Marls', the local clothing store, and Regina turned to Emma, "You ready to shop until we drop?"

Emma smiled and nodded her head.

Regina got out, got Emma out of her car seat, and rewrapped her into her coat. When Regina entered the young cashier, Samantha, looked up and her jaw dropped. Regina opened her coat and set Emma down. Regina grabbed a cart and gently placed her coat and purse into the cart. Regina extended her hand and Emma grabbed on. Regina could feel the girls eyes on them as they walked past. Not liking that she and Emma were being stared at Regina turned and sharply asked, "Are you going to keep sitting there gaping like a fish out of water or are you going to do your job and ask if we need any help?"

The young girl jumped and stuttered out an apology, "Soo-sorry Madam Mayor. Hi I am Samantha welcome to Marls', how may I help you today?"

Regina rolled her eyes as the girl restated her name, even though it was on her name tag, "I need to know where your children's department is"

Samantha looked down at Emma and stared with a confused look on her face. Emma not liking that she was being looked at backed up and hid behind Regina's leg as best she could.

Regina was now irritated and upset that this Samantha girl upset Emma, "Quit gaping at her and answer my question!"

Samantha shook her head and looked back at Regina, "Sorry, I just.. When did you have a kid?"

Regina rolled her eyes again and said, "Since you can't seem to do you job without this answer, I am fostering Emma. She is my foster daughter. Now that that is out of the way do you think you can give me the answer to my question?"

Samantha nodded and pointed down the hallway, "Down the hall and everything we have is on the right hand side."

Regina squeezed Emma's hand and they walked in the direction Samantha told them

They found the section easily; Regina told Emma to pick out anything she liked. Shopping for Emma wasn't very hard especially in Marls', all of the sizes are either Small, Medium, Large, or X-Large. Emma was most defiantly a small. Emma picked out about 10 pairs of t-shirts, 10 long sleeves, and 10 pairs of pants, a new pair of sneakers, a pair of rain/snow boots, 3 sweatshirts, and a purple winter coat.

The cart was full of clothing by the time they were ready to check out. Regina paid for everything and then ripped the tags off of Emma's new coat and had her wear it back to the car.

Emma smiled at Regina and said, "Thank you! I never got new clothes before! They don't smell weird!"

Regina gave Emma a sad smile and said, "Anything for you sweetheart."

The next stop was the furniture store. As soon as Emma walked in she found the set she wanted. It was a ivory colored twin bed with what looked like a apple and flowers etched into the headboard. Emma didn't even want to see what else the store had to offer, she was adamant, "No! This one! I love it!"

Regina couldn't say no, and nodded her head at the sales rep indicating that she wanted the set. The rep was just as surprised as Samantha to see Regina, much less with a child but they at least were able to keep their questions to themselves. It would take 7-10 days before the set would be delivered since it was coming from out of town. Regina nodded and smiled at Emma.

Regina and Emma made one last stop at the hardware store before going to Granny's for a milkshake. Emma and Regina looked at at least 20 different shades of purple paint. They finally both agreed on a light lilac for the walls and a white trim for the door and window frames.

Regina bought the paint and hired the men in the painting department to paint Emma's room the next day. It would take at least three days and neither Emma nor Regina will be allowed to go in there. Regina nodded and told them it was fine.

Regina and Emma finally made their way to the diner. When they entered the diner the little bell above the door chimed. Just like with August every eye was on Regina and Emma. Emma still didn't like being stared at so she turned around and tightly wrapped her arms around Regina's legs. Regina sighed and rubbed Emma's back. When Emma didn't let go she picked up Emma and shielded her from the intense stares.

Regina could hear the whispering and had had enough, "Alright listen and listen closely because I will not repeat myself. This is Emma, she is August Booth's younger sister. I am now Emma's mother. Foster Mother. If anymore of you frighten Emma with your stares I will make all of your lives miserable. This is the only time I will say this so tell your friends because I will not repeat myself. Am I clear? Good." Regina hoped that no one caught her slip when she called herself Emma's mother.

Regina carried Emma to the back booth and sat down with her back to the crowd. Emma remained in Regina's arms until Ruby came over and placed a children's coloring mat and some crayons in the empty seat next to Regina.

Emma looked up and Ruby smiled at Emma. Emma blushed and tucked her head back down into Regina's neck.

Regina got Emma to sit next to her and work on her coloring mat. Ruby came back and took their orders, a chicken caesar salad for Regina and Jr cheese burger with fries and a milkshake for Emma.

Regina looked at Ruby and said, "Thanks for the coloring mat, she seems to be enjoying it"

Ruby looked over at Emma and saw the look of concentration on her face as she colored in the two flowers on the mat. Ruby looked back at Regina and said, "No problem. You know, this is a really nice thing you are doing Madam Mayor. You are changing that girls life"

Regina looked at Ruby and gave an actual smile, "Actually I think she is changing mine. And Ruby, when I'm off duty it's just Regina."

Ruby looked at Regina shocked, no one called the mayor by her first name except for Graham and Granny occasionally. For Regina to allow her to call her by her first name this kid must have magically turned the cold mayor to goo. Ruby nodded and pivoted to go place their orders.

Regina and Emma sat and filled out the rest of the coloring mat while they waited for their food. When the food came out both Emma and Regina were extremely hungry. When Ruby put Emma's burger in front of her she made sure that the ketchup was in the form of a smily face, the bacon was hair, and the lettuce was a little dress. Emma looked up at Ruby and smiled. This was the first time that Ruby was getting a good look at Emma's face, she could have sworn that Emma looked like someone she knew but couldn't place who it was.

Emma looked at the fun design of her burger and looked at Ruby. Emma shyly said, "Thanks".

Ruby winked and said, "Anything for you pup".

Emma chuckled and said, "I not a pup, I a person."

Ruby made a fake gasp and dramatically clapped her hand over her mouth, "No! No way! I totally thought you were a little pup, like a little wolf." Emma laughed at Ruby silliness.

Ruby motioned for Emma to lean closer, Emma leaned over Regina to hear what Ruby had to say. "Hey Emma, can you keep a secret?" Emma nodded and Ruby continued, "Well no one besides Granny knows but... I'm a wolf."

Ruby paused and watched Emma's face widen in shock. Emma shook her head and said, "Nu huh! no way! Really!? Show me!" Ruby just shook her head.

Ruby said, "I can't! No one else besides you, me, and Granny can know! But I can show you my cape, it helps so I don't hurt people on the full moon and so that other people know I'm protected by my friends." Emma nodded furiously.

Ruby went into the back and grabbed a old red halloween costume cape and stuffed it under her apron. When Ruby returned Emma was sitting in Regina's lap eating her burger and bouncing in excitement.

Ruby walked back up to the table and pulled the cape out to show Emma. Emma gasped and said, "Woah! Cool!"

Ruby smiled at Emma and said, "Here how about you wear this one so all the wolves know that you are a friend of ours. And if you need us we will always protect you ok!"

Ruby velcroed the cape around Emma's neck and smiled down at Emma. Emma vibrated with excitement, but then looked down sadly, "So the wolves will protect me from all the bad people?"

Ruby tilted Emma's chin up and said, "I don't know about all of the wolves out there but I know I will. I wolf -Ruby Lucas will always protect you from the bad people. And I know Regina here will protect you too. And we can probably get Granny to help too if you give her a big big hug."

Emma looked at Regina for confirmation to what Ruby said. Regina nodded and kissed Emma on the head.

Emma smiled and reached for Ruby, Ruby didn't hesitate to pick up Emma and place her on her hip. Emma gave Ruby and big hug and whispered, "Thanks for protecting me" into Ruby's ear.

Ruby smiled and said, "Always pup."

Regina looked at Ruby and Emma bonding and actually could feel her heart melt just a little.

Granny came out from the kitchen and was about to yell at Ruby to get back to work when she saw her holding Emma. Emma saw Granny and gave a shy wave while still being held by Ruby. Granny gave Emma a happy smile.

Granny walked over and asked, "And what is this a gossip party? You get back to work. Regina, you get to eating, and you little one, you come with me." Granny grabbed Emma from Ruby's arms and swung her around and placed her on the ground.

Emma laughed and grabbed a hold of Granny's hand and trotted behind Granny waving to Regina.

Ruby had a dumbstruck look on her face and Regina was shocked at how easily Granny got Emma to smile.

Ruby tilted her head in Granny's direction and said, "Magic touch. That woman is every kids best friend."

Regina nodded. Just as Ruby was about to leave Regina grabbed her wrist and said, "Thank you. For what you did for Emma, making her feel safe. Telling her you will protect her. Thank you."

Ruby nodded and said, "That kid looks like she has seen hell and she isn't even in high school yet. Everyone needs a protector. You seem like you have the mama bear syndrome already so Granny and I are just back up."

Regina looked at Ruby with a arched eyebrow and a confused look, "Mama bear syndrome?"

Ruby nodded, "Yup. Don't think I didn't hear you when you protected Emma from the others in the dinner. How you went on full attack mode if anyone was to try and harm Emma. Mama bear syndrome. It's a good thing Regina." Ruby smiled, patted Regina's arm in support, and walked off to clean the now empty diner.

Regina ate her salad and stole a few french fries from Emma's now cold plate. Regina could hear Emma's giggles coming from the kitchen. Granny and Emma came from the kitchen each holding a bowl of ice cream and whipped cream. Granny set one bowl in front of Regina and helped Emma set the second one down on the table. Once Emma's hands are free she turns to Granny and gives her a big hug, "Thanks"

Granny smiles at Emma and walks back to the kitchen. Emma climbs back onto the bench, with Regina's help, and starts to eat her chocolate ice cream monstrosity. Emma and Regina enjoy their frozen treat. Emma looks like she is wearing more on her face than anything else, Regina can't help but take a picture. Regina cleans Emma up, pays for the food and leaves a nice tip for Ruby.

Ruby sees them as they are leaving and calls out to Emma, "Hey pup, leaving so soon?" Emma nods, "Alright, well next time you stop by there are some pancakes with your name on them ok." Emma smiles and nods, Regina can see that Emma is sleepy and fighting it with all her might. Regina picks Emma up and Emma's head instantly goes to Regina's shoulder. Granny comes from the kitchen and waves to a half asleep Emma. Emma smiles and gives a half wave. Regina says, "Thank you both. I-I. Thank you." Granny and Ruby nod, as Regina turns and exits the diner.

Regina gets a sleeping Emma into her carseat and back to the mansion. Regina decides to forgo bath time and let Emma sleep. She quickly changes Emma's clothes, puts her back into the large t-shirt, and tucks Emma in and kisses her goodnight. Regina gets herself ready and into bed as well.

Emma again migrates over to Regina and snuggles close, Regina wraps her arms around a sleeping Emma and holds her close and tight. Regina whispers to Emma, "I promise to protect you, always".

Regina gives Emma one last kiss on the temple and falls into a deep asleep.

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