Not as it Seems

33

The days and weeks passed and David and MM steadily got to know Emma. Regina allowed MM and David over to Sunday dinner and for some after school trips to the park.

Kathryn decided that she liked being back in Storybrooke and if she was honest with herself she couldn't part with Emma. Emma had all the adults around her wrapped around her finger. When Emma first called Kathryn 'Aunty Kat' opposed to Katrin, she almost cried.

Regina decided to purchase a second car, one that was safer for Emma to ride in. Regina got herself a new four door Benz, and had sheriff Graham install Emma's car seat properly in the backseat. Regina loved looking in the rear view mirror and seeing Emma happily talking or looking out the window, but her favorite moments in the new car were looking back and seeing Emma fast asleep, her face serene and happy.

And Emma is happy, happier than she can ever remember being.


Thanksgiving was approaching and Cora and Henry invited Regina, Emma, and Kathryn to join them for dinner; they even extended the invitation to Ruby and Granny.

MM and David initially tried to fight Regina on taking Emma to her parents' home for Thanksgiving dinner, but smartly backed down when Regina mentioned that she was still Emma's legal guardian and that she was allowing them to see Emma on her own good will.

Thanksgiving day came quickly. Regina and Emma made Regina's famous lasagna to bring to her parents home.

Emma had been so excited to see her Nona and Abulto. Emma had barely seen either of them since her stint in the hospital those weeks ago, due to business always calling them out of town.

The drive to the Mills' residence was calm and uneventful. When they arrived the driveway held the cars of Ruby and a few of Cora's friends.

When Terri answered the door she couldn't stop the, "Aww, look at you two! Too precious."

Emma and Regina had dressed in similar outfits, grey dresses with black patent leather shoes. Regina held the dish in one arm and held Emma's hand with the other.

If not for the hair and eye color everyone would have sworn Emma was Regina's biological child.

Once they were in the house and their coats were removed Emma ran into the living room where the sounds of laughter emanated. Emma ran into the room and called out, "Nona!"

Cora was in the middle of a conversation with Granny and Ruby when she heard Emma call out her name. She didn't even bother excusing herself, instead she just bent down and opened her arms to Emma.

Emma ran into Cora's arms and gave her a big hug. Cora lifted the girl placed her on her hip, "I missed you darling! How have you been, you all better?"

Emma smiled and played with Cora's necklace, "I miss you too Nona, and Abulto. I good, all better, see!" Emma leaned back so Cora could see.

Cora held tight and chuckled softly, "Yes dear I do see."

Cora introduced Emma to a few of her friends that had joined them for dinner. Emma's shyness came through when she was introduced to new people. Emma squirmed to get down. Cora placed Emma on the ground and she ran back over to Regina, who was talking with her father and Ruby.

Cora had gotten so used to the talkative little girl that she forgot how much Emma disliked meeting new unfamiliar people.

Cora made eye contact with Regina over Emma's head and mouthed, 'sorry'. Regina nodded and swiftly picked Emma up. Emma tucked her head into her neck and took the warm comfort Regina offered.

Ruby smiled sadly at Regina while Regina rubbed Emma's back. Ruby stood behind Regina and tapped Emma on the shoulder. Emma lifted her head and gave Ruby a smiled, "Wolf"

Ruby smiled and said, "Hey pup!"

Emma leaned back and over towards Ruby. Regina swiftly transferred Emma from her arms to Ruby's and straightened out her dress.

Ruby held Emma and walked over to the couch and sat down. Regina watched as Ruby calmed and comforted Emma.

If you would have told Regina that Ruby Lucas would become a close friend of hers and a surrogate aunt to Emma, Regina would have laughed in your face.

Regina knew that Ruby would look after Emma for the time being and decided to make her rounds of 'hellos'.

Ruby made small talk with Emma while Regina mingled with her mothers friends.

Kathryn finally arrived bearing wine, since she can't cook to save her life, and greeted everyone. Kathryn was never really enjoyed schmoozing so she too made her way to the couch with Emma and Ruby.

Everyone was having a good time talking, catching up, or meeting new people. This is the first Thanksgiving dinner Regina can remember actually enjoying herself and the people around her.

Terri entered the living room and announced that dinner was served in the dining room. Everyone made their way to the dining room and took their seats. Terri poured the wine, the juice for Emma, and left the dining room.

Everyone said what they were thankful for and had begun eating and talking again, but not Emma.

Emma frowned and looked at Regina, "Mommy. How come Terri don't eat with us?"

Regina thought about it and said, "I'm not sure. She usually walks around the house and makes sure everything is in order."

Emma frowned and asked, "Isn't she family?"

Regina leaned over and kissed Emma's head, "Yes, she is like family. "

Emma looked at Regina and asked, "Then shouldn't she be here?"

Regina nodded but didn't know what to say. Regina looked up and made eye contact with Cora and Henry.

Henry called Emma, "Emma, what's the matter?"

Emma looked at Henry with sad eyes, "Terri is family but she doesn't eat with us. What if she doesn't have foods to eat? Or thinks she doesn't have a family?"

Everyone stopped eating and looked at all knew Emma had a rough life before coming to live with Regina but they never thought it was that bad, no food on thanksgiving, no family, nothing.

Cora cleared her throat and called Terri into the dining room.

Terri entered and walked over to Cora, "Yes "

Cora said, "Terri you are off for the rest of the night. Go take a seat next to Emma and enjoy dinner with us."

Terri looked confused, not once in the 25 plus years of working for the Mills' did they ever invite her to thanksgiving dinner. Terri looked at Emma and Emma smiled at her and waved her over.

Terri looked at everyone's faces around the table and they all wore the same happy smiled as Emma. Terri nodded and sat next to Emma. When she sat down she was passed the turkey and veggies and the mac and cheese. One of Henry's friends even stood and grabbed the bottle of wine they were drinking and poured Terri a glass. Terri had tears in her eyes, she had next felt so included in all her time with the Mills family. Terri smiled at everyone around the table and said a quiet "Thank you".

Everyone smiled and nodded towards Terri. Henry raised his glasses for a toast, "I would like to propose a toast, to family, to being together, to opening our hearts and letting the good in."

As he said this he looked directly at Regina and smiled.

Regina raised her glass along with the other adults around the table and said, "to family". Emma being adorable just tapped Regina again and asked, "Why you guys holding your juice?"

The table laughed and Regina said, "Cause we are being silly".

Emma smiled and shrugged her shoulders before turning back to her food to begin eating. Dinner went smoothly and was filled with laughter and smiles.

Cora couldn't help but mention how big Emma had gotten since the first time she saw her. Regina thought back and remembered the first brunch; Emma couldn't sit at the table because she could barely see over the table and now Emma was sitting with them with her head just peaked over the table. Regina looked at Emma and frowned. Cora and Henry looked at Regina, "Darling, what's the matter?"

Everyone turned their heads to Regina. Regina looked towards Cora and said, "Emma's growing up. I don't want her to."

Cora smiled and said, "Welcome to motherhood."

The table laughed and said, "It's ok Regina, she will always be your little girl"

Emma was too busy eating to notice all eyes were on her. Regina leaned over and planted a kiss on top of Emma head. Emma looked up to Regina and smiled with food all over her mouth. Regina just smiled and said, "Stop growing up"

Emma shrugged said, "ok Mommy" and went back to eating. Everyone chuckled.


When dinner was finish Ruby, Regina, and Kathryn all helped Terri gather the dishes and put them into the dish washer.

Emma was sitting with Henry in the living room and listening to him tell stories. Cora was also in the living room discussing the latest food trends with her friends and Granny. Regina leaned against the door frame and watched as her family interacted. This is what Regina has always wanted, family and friends coming together and enjoying each others company.

Kathryn and Ruby came up behind Regina and asked, "So... when you gonna do it?"

Regina jumped in surprise and turned around. She sighed and asked, "do what?"

Kathryn rolled her eyes and said, "Adopt Emma. Officially?"

Regina smiled and said, "Actually... I sent in the papers last week. Everything should be finalized by Christmas. I am planning on telling Emma Christmas morning."

Ruby jumped up and down drawing the attention of everyone in the living room. Regina 'shhhhed' her and said, "keep it down. I don't want anyone else to know yet. I want it to be a surprise."

Ruby stopped jumping and smiled. Emma looked at Ruby confused and Ruby quickly came up with an excuse, "Guess what pup?! There is cake and pie and ice cream for dessert!"

Emma smiled and cheered, "YES!"

Regina narrowed her eyes at Ruby. Ruby knows full well that she is trying to give Emma a balanced healthy diet and cake, pie, and ice cream is a no no.

Ruby shrugs and says, "What? It worked. And you and I both know as soon as those green puppy dog eyes come out you are goo in her hands and can't tell her no. I just saved you a step"

Kathryn laughed and Regina rolled her eyes.

Terri brought the desserts out to the living room. Everyone gathered around and enjoyed dessert. Kathryn and Regina were sitting on the couch watching Emma and Ruby scarf down their desserts. Emma and Ruby both got their cake, pie, and ice cream.

They were both running around on a sugar high for about 20 minutes afterwards but quickly crashed.

Emma curled up into Regina's lap with her head on her shoulder and legs extended onto Kathryn's lap. Kathryn smiled and patted Emma's legs, Emma smiled and got comfortable. Emma was asleep in under 10 minutes. Regina stroked Emma's hair while she talked with Cora's friends.

Cora's friends thanked everyone for a lovely evening and were leaving by 9:30PM. 10:00PM rolled around and everyone was ready to call it a night. Cora told Regina,Emma,Kathryn, Ruby,and Granny to all stay at the mansion tonight. Each person took a one of the copious number of spare rooms available. Regina bid everyone goodnight and carried Emma up to her old childhood bedroom. Regina changed Emma into an old t-shirt and tucked her into bed. Regina then changed into a pair of sweatpants and a t-shirt as well and joined Emma. Emma automatically rolled closer to Regina and snuggled. Regina smiled and gave Emma one last kiss on the forehead before pulling her closer to her chest and settling into bed. Regina fell asleep with a smile on her face. For the first time in what seems like forever Regina can't image a better place to be than right here with Emma and her family.


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