Not as it Seems


It had been two days since Thanksgiving and Regina, Emma, and Kathryn were all still enjoying their time with Cora and Henry.

Emma was still asleep when Regina woke that morning. Emma was laying on her side with her head laying on Regina's stomach. Regina looked at Emma's sleeping form and smiled. Regina moved Emma's hair from in front of her face and listened to Emma's deep breaths for a few moments.

Regina looked at the clock and it read 8:45AM. Regina gently lifted Emma's head from her stomach and placed it on a soft pillow. Regina tucked Emma back in under the covers to ward off the slight chill in the room.

Regina got dressed and made her way downstairs into the kitchen where she was greeted by Kathryn, Cora, Henry, and a hot cup of coffee.

Regina mumbled a, "Good Morning" and got herself a cup of coffee. Everyone was sitting at the breakfast bar looking at her.

"What?" Regina looked at each of them and they were all smirking.

"Nothing dear, you just proved Kathryn's point." Cora said smiling.

Regina lifted an eyebrow and asked, "And what point would that be?"

Kathryn laughed and said, "Oh nothing, just that you would bypass everyone here and head straight to the coffee"

Regina narrowed her eyes but shrugged and took another sip of her coffee.

Cora, Henry, and Kathryn all just smiled.

Regina was leaning against the island talking with Kathryn and Cora about the latest fashion trends while Henry read the morning paper.

By 9:15AM they all heard little feet slowing making their way down the stairs, causing Regina automatically smile.

Cora and Kathryn both watched as Regina's face brake out into a smile upon the mere sound of Emma's presence.

When Emma entered she was rubbing the sleep from her eyes and walked directly over to Regina.

Emma smiled up at Regina lifted her arms asking to be lifted. Regina set her coffee down and lifted Emma so she could hold her under her bottom while Emma wrapped her arms around Regina's neck.

Emma laid her head on Regina's shoulder looked over at Kathryn, Cora, and Henry. They all gave her a happy 'Good morning'. Emma smiled a little while waving and giving a mumbled groggy "morning"

Emma then placed her head back onto Regina's shoulder. Regina kissed Emma's hair is whispered, "morning baby"

Emma mumbled a soft, "Morning mommy" into Regina's neck.

Regina sat Emma onto of the island. Emma was still waking up so she slumped forward onto Regina's chest. Regina laughed and stroked Emma's head.

Cora and Kathryn couldn't help but smile when they looked at Regina and Emma's interactions. Cora rubbed Emma's back and asked Regina, "She always this hard to wake up?"

Regina shook her head, "No. She usually wakes right up. Only on the weekends does she sleep in and take a while to fully wake up. But this, this is probably from all of the sweets she had for dessert last night."

Kathryn rolled her eyes and said, "Oh please. Watch I can wake her up in a jiffy."

Regina raised an eyebrow and said, "Oh really. And how are you going to do that?"

Kathryn smirked and got up off the stool and stood next to Regina. She then bend forward and tapped Emma on the shoulder. Emma looked up and smiled, "Hi Aunty Kat"

Kathryn smiled and whispered into Emma's ear, "If you wake up and get dressed right now I'll convince Regina to make pancakes... with chocolate chips!"

Emma's head sprung up and looked at Kathryn, "REALLY!?"

Regina was startled when Emma sprung up and excitedly said 'really'

Kathryn laughed and nodded her head, "Yup!"

Emma looked at Regina smiled and scooted towards the edge of the island. Regina quickly stopped Emma from sliding too far, and placed her on the floor. As soon as Emma's feet were on the ground she took off and went back upstairs.

Regina looked to Kathryn and said, "What did you tell her?"

Kathryn smiled and said, "Oh just that is she wakes up and gets dressed that you will make her chocolate chip pancakes..."

Regina narrowed her eyes and huffed, "Kathryn.. you know I don't like her having that much sugar.!"

Kathryn just smiled, shrugged her shoulders, and headed upstairs to help Emma, "Well don't want to disappoint. Make sure you make enough for everyone!"

Cora laughed and said, "I think your best friend found her partner in crime."

Regina rolled her eyes and said, "I'm going to regret them being so close later in life"

Cora laughed and Henry gave a small chuckle, having listened to the entire conversation.

Regina turned the grittle on for the pancakes and started making the batter. As Regina made breakfast Cora squeezed some fresh orange juice and cut up some fresh fruit.

When Cora and Regina were finished Regina called Emma and Kathryn down to the kitchen.

From the top of the stairs they heard Kathryn yells, "We'll be down in a minute!"

Regina rolled her eyes and went back into the kitchen and sat next to her father on the breakfast bar.

Henry looked at Regina and said, "Regina, I would like to take Emma to the stables after breakfast, and maybe get her up on one of the ponies. Would you like to join us?"

Regina looked at her father with wide eyes. Regina hadn't been to the stables since Daniel died. Regina knew her father was trying to help her move on but she was afraid. So Regina swallowed and said, "We will see. I will ask Emma is she wants to go."

Henry nodded and started making his plate.

A few minutes later they all heard Emma's giggles coming down the stairs. Regina turned on her stool to see Emma on Kathryn's back with a cowgirl hat, a t-shirt, and blue jeans which were tucked into cowgirl boots. Kathryn even braided Emma's long blonde hair into two braids going down her back.

Regina laughed and grabbed her phone from the counter, where she left it the night before, and took a few pictures.

Kathryn sat Emma onto a stool next to Regina.

Emma looked at Regina and said, "look mommy, Aunty Kat made me into a cowgirl!"

Regina smiled and said, "I see that! And you know what a cowgirl needs?" Emma shook her head, and Regina smiled, "Pancakes. A good cowgirl needs pancakes."

Emma smiled and cheered, "YAY!"

Regina smiled and grabbed the three little pancakes she made for Emma. Emma drowned her pancakes in syrup and dug in.

Regina and Cora both cringed at the amount of syrup but Kathryn just smiled and said, "A woman after my own heart". Kathryn then proceeded to drown her three pancakes in syrup.

Cora looked at the two of them with their sticky mouths and full smiles, "Regina dear, it seems you have a second child you never told me about."

Regina snorted and said, "Yes mother, I seem to have gone from the mother of a four year old to the mother of a a four year old and a 34 year old."

Kathryn and Emma both protested at the same time, "Hey I am not four!" Emma continued and said, "I almost 5!" "I'm almost 24! Thank you very much!"

Regina, Cora, and Henry all laughed at the two blondes with pouts on their faces.

Regina smiled and said, "I'm sorry sweetheart, almost five year old."

Emma nodded satisfied with the correction and went back to her pancakes.

Breakfast continued with jokes and laughter. When the dishes and the kitchen were cleaned, Regina and Emma went back upstairs.

Regina sat Emma on the bed and sat next to her. "Emma sweetheart, how would you feel about going with Abuelo to the stables to see the horses?"

Emma's face broke into a smile, "I get to see real live horsies!?"

Regina smiled and nodded her head, "Abuelo will teach you how to ride also if you want to"

Emma nodded furiously, "Yay! You coming too right mommy?"

Regina sighed and reluctantly nodded, "Yes sweetheart I'm going with you."

Emma threw her arms around Regina and said, "Thank you mommy! Thank you! I can't wait!"

Regina smiled and said, "Alright. Well I need to get ready but why don't you go down to Abuelo and tell him that we are going. Tell him we should have lunch at the stables and to pack us some sandwiches and drinks. By then I should be ready to go"

Emma jumped down from the bed and sprinted to tell Henry the good news, "Abuelto! Abuelto! Mommy said..."

Regina got dressed and headed downstairs. When she reached the kitchen Cora was placing the sandwiches and some fruit into a basket for lunch. Emma and Henry were outside in the backyard running around. Emma had a huge smile on her face as she ran around after her grandfather.

Regina looked out the window and smiled. Cora looked at Regina and said, "Kathryn had to head back to Storybrooke, something about the movers and chipping her paint."

Regina rolled her eyes and said, "I told her to use a moving company and not Leroy and his friends. They are miners not movers."

Cora nodded and closed the picnic basket.

Regina was still watching Emma and her father play when Cora asked, "Are you ready to be back there?"

Regina sighed and said, "It's been 7 years, I think it's time. And Emma seems really excited to go."

Cora nodded and said, "I am extremely proud of you Regina."

Regina looked at her mother with tears in her eyes. Cora smiled and cupped Regina's cheek, "You are a successful, kind, strong woman, who loves wholeheartedly. You have an amazing daughter who absolutely adores you. You are something else Regina. And I am so proud to call you my daughter."

Regina has tears flowing down her cheeks which Cora quickly wipes away.

Cora pulls Regina into a fierce hug. Regina embraces the hug and says, "I love you mom"

Cora pulls away and wipes the last of Regina's tears and says, "I love you too darling."

As Regina and Cora compose themselves Emma runs back into the house, "mommy, Nona you ready? We gonna see horsies!"

Regina smiles and grabs the picnic basket, "yes sweetheart nona and I are ready. Where is Abuelo?"

Emma grabs Cora's and and pulls her towards the door, "He already in the tuck!"

As Cora and Emma head to the truck Regina pulls and locks the door before heading to the truck.

Henry's old truck wouldn't fit Emma's car seat so Emma is seated in the back on Regina's lap with her arms securely around Emma's waist.

When they arrived at the stables Emma was bouncing in Regina's lap.

Henry opened the backdoor and helped Emma and Regina out of the backseat. He grabbed ahold of Emma's hand and said, "We are going to be in the stables and going to get Emma here up on a horse."

Emma smiled and was nearly shaking with excitement. Regina stepped up to Emma and crouched down, "I want you to listen to Abuelo very carefully ok. I don't want you getting hurt."

Emma smiled and nodded her head, "I promise mommy. I not gonna get hurt"

Emma gave Regina a reassuring hug and then grabbed her Abuelo's hand again so he could lead them to the horses.

Regina stood and watched Emma enter the stables. Cora patted Regina on the arm and said, "She will be fine. Henry will look after her, you know that. Come on lets get inside. We can watch them from the window."

Regina nodded and grabbed the picnic basket from Cora and headed inside of the lodge that was attached to the stables.

Regina and Cora watched Emma and Henry down on the training grounds through the window. Regina remembered all of the memories surrounding the stables. Regina remembered meeting Daniel for the first time at these very stables, she remembered their first date, their first kiss, she remember when he proposed. She remembered that this was where they wanted to get married. Regina also remembered it was here that Daniel was driving home from when a drunk driver veered into his lane and hit him head on, killing him instantly. Regina hadn't been back here since then and that was almost 8 years ago.

This was the first time in 8 years and all Regina is thinking about in this very moment is how happy Emma looks, how big her smile is, and Regina finally feels ready to make new, good, happy memories here; with her daughter.

Henry and Emma finish their riding and decide that they will get some lunch before they groom the horses.

Henry and Emma run into the lodge giggling and smiling. Emma runs over to Regina and gives her a hug, "mommy did you see?! Did you? I was on a horsie!"

Regina bent down and smiled, "I did see. You looked like you were having a lot of fun!"

Emma nodded her head and said, "Yeah! and after lunch Abuelto and I are gonna grooms them!"

Regina smiled and said, "Well then lets get you washed up and fed so you can go groom the horses, ok!"

Emma nodded and grabbed a hold of Regina's hand as she led them to the bathroom to wash their hands.

When they returned Cora and Henry had laid out all of the food and were sitting waiting for Emma and Regina.

Regina helped Emma sit at picnic style table and handed her a sippy cup of water and half of her turkey sandwich. Emma said, "Thank you" and dug in.

Regina smiled and stroked Emma's hair before turning to her own sandwich to begin eating.

45 minutes later Mills family was finished with lunch and Henry and Emma were back in the stables tending to the horses.

Regina and Cora decided to join Henry and Emma in the stables. Cora and Regina were leaning against one of the empty stalls when Henry joined them leaving Emma to brushing the horses.

All three watched her very closely and made sure she didn't startle or hurt the horse. Regina smiled and excused herself.

Regina went into the garden out back and grabbed a few carrots. She came back inside and called Emma over to her.

Emma smiled and said, "did you see mommy! I brushed the horsie! and no tanglies!"

Regina smiled and said, "I saw. Do you want to feed them?"

Emma nodded. Regina pulled three carrots from her pocket and broke them in half giving three to Emma and hanging onto the other three.

Regina took Emma's hand and walked her back over to the horse she was working with, named Acer.

Regina petted Acer's nose letting him get familiar with her. She then showed Emma how to hold her hand so the horse wouldn't accidentally bite her fingers.

Emma and Regina fed Acer until they were out of carrots. Regina picked Emma up and placed her on her hip, making her high enough to rub Acer's nose.

Acer gave Emma a friendly nudge with his nose. Emma giggled and wrapped her arms around his neck giving him a hug.

Regina smiled and looked over at her parents who had a knowing smirk on their faces. When Emma said goodbye to Acer she had a tear streaming down her face. Regina wiped her tear and said, "Emma sweetheart we will see him again ok. We will come back soon I promise."

Emma sniffed and said, "Ok." Emma gave Acer one last wave and clung to Regina.

Regina rubbed her back and walked back over to Cora and Henry. When Cora gave Regina a questioning look Regina said, "She doesn't want to leave him."

Henry smiled and said, "Well she is Mills, and we love our horses."

Regina smiled and nodded, "Yeah, she really is."

They all piled back into the truck and headed back for the mansion. Regina decided that they should get going.

Emma and Regina had a quick shower and got their things packed and into the car.

Cora bought a horse stuffed animal from the stable shop for Emma and gave it to her. Emma gave Cora and Henry big hugs, and thanked them for the gift. Regina gave Henry a hug and said, "Thank you for today, it really helped and Emma had a great time."

Henry nodded and said, "My pleasure. I am glad Emma enjoyed herself."

Regina then faced Cora and pulled her into a tight hug, "Thank you." Regina didn't need to explain, Cora just knew, Regina was thanking her for telling her how proud she was of her and that she loved her.

Cora nodded and said, "I meant every word" Cora gave Regina one last kiss on the cheek and pulled back from the hug. "You two better get going, it's going to be getting dark soon. Call me when you arrive home."

Regina nodded and opened the backdoor for Emma. She then buckled Emma into her carseat and closed the door. Emma waved bye and Regina got into the car and drove off.

Regina looked in the rearview mirror about 15 minutes later only to find Emma fast asleep in the back clutching the small stuffed horse to her chest. Regina smiled and thought, 'she really is a Mills'

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