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Surviving Neverland

By HappyPalmTree

Romance / Adventure

Chapter 1

Distraught and angry Emma watched Pan and his lost boys disappear into the dark forest. Tinkerbell had helped them find Pan only to fall into another one of Pan’s traps and as Hook had stated, the island changed at Pan’s will. Tinkerbell took them to the right place but Pan had already moved his camp and was there waiting for them with another game, another test for Emma. And this time when the lost boys attacked Regina surprised everyone by jumping right in and using her magic to protect all of them from the lost boy’s poisonous arrows. Emma wanted to chase after them and was about to when suddenly Snow screamed. “Emma!”

Emma turned around to see her father unconscious on the ground with Snow holding him; Charming was pale and looked very sick. Emma rushed to his side with Hook, Tinkerbell and Regina right behind her. “What happened? I thought the arrows didn’t get through?”

Snow had tears in her eyes as she replied, “They didn’t Emma, he just suddenly fell over.”

Snow thought about it more commenting, “Now that I think of it, he had been acting a little odd since our last run in with Pan. Emma, help me check for wounds.”

Emma nodded and in moments they found the wound Charming failed to mention. It looked infected with deep purple veins spreading out across his ribs.

“He’s been poisoned by Dreamshade. I tried to warn you mate.” Hook grimly announced pulling out his flask drinking from it as he added. “Nasty stuff that, slow and painful.”

“How long does he have Hook?” Emma asked clearly worried, this was the last thing she needed another distraction from finding Henry.

“Depends on how much he was dosed with. Seeing how fast he’s fallen ill I would say days at the most, a week if we’re lucky.” Hook answered reaching out to put a comforting hand on Emma shoulder. Emma gave him a tiny tight smile in thanks.

“No! Don’t say that Hook. There has to be an antidote! Rumpelstiltskin beat it, we can too!” Snow argued and Regina watched this grimly unable to stop herself as she commented. “He survived it by killing my mother. Who with us are you willing to kill to save him?”

Emma looked up to Regina at the comment giving her a sympathetic look then interrupted pointing out. “No one’s dying, stop it! If we start fighting we won’t get anything done.”

Emma stood up and turned to Hook asking, “Is there an antidote?”

“Not one I know of. Maybe pixy dust if we’re lucky but that’s all Lady Bell?” Hook answered looking at Emma with sympathy though she never noticed; she was too busy rushing over to Tinkerbell.

“I know we’ve already asked so much of you. Can you help us one more time? I don’t want to lose my father.”

The term got Snow to look up and give Emma a teary smile. Tinkerbell watched all of this with sympathy and grimly nodded her head as she stated with a serious expression. “Pixy dust might work if we had enough of it but what little I have left is all the magic I have left. Once it’s gone I’ll lose my wings, I’ll never let that happen again.”

“Is there another cure for the poison?” Emma asked desperate.

Tinkerbell looked away obviously hesitant to answer, tears spilled down Snow’s cheeks as she begged the blonde fairy.

“Please Tinkerbell! I can’t lose him. Please!”

Tinkerbell still looked hesitant until Hook spoke up giving the blonde fairy a slimly smile and a leering look as he pointed out. “You still owe me one Lady Bell. I think I’ll call in my mark.”

“You’d use your last favor on this island for Charming?” Tinkerbell asked looking surprised.

Hook looked over to Emma winking at her as he replied, “Yes, he’s a decent gent, doesn’t deserve to die like this.”

Tinkerbell nodded looking concerned then looked around as if to make sure no one was listening. Once satisfied she gestured for those standing to step close, they all did and only then did she tell them in a very low voice. “There is only one other cure for Dreamshade. Pan keeps it guarded at all times, which is why most don’t know it even exists. I’m not even supposed to know but Pan…he trusts me.”

“Well let’s go get it! Right now!” Snow insisted clutching a slowly returning Charming.

“What happened?” Charming moaned.

“You didn’t tell us you were hurt. You passed out.” Snow explained more tears pooling in her eyes. Charming’s expression softened as he gazed up into his wife’s eyes. “I’m sorry. I didn’t want to worry you.”

“Worry me next time. We can’t fix it if we didn’t know there was a problem.” Snow pointed out leaning down and kissing Charming on the lips.

Emma glanced at Regina who was frowning deep in thought. Turning back to Tinkerbell Emma asked. “How far to this antidote?”

“Not that far, it’s the north tip of the island hidden behind a waterfall deep in a cave only accessible by water. Emma you should know the mermaids from around the island, they guard the antidote for Pan. He’s the only one they’ll listen to, anyone else they will kill.”

“Is there a way to sneak by them? A back door? Another way in?” Emma asked her mind going a million miles an hour trying to come up with a new plan.

“No not unless you use magic.” Tinkerbell replied.

“What about your magic Tinkerbell?” Emma asked hopeful and was instantly crushed when the fairy replied. “Pan made sure a long time ago my magic would be useless against him. And even if I could, if Pan found out he’d take away what pixy dust I have left. That would leave me to a fate worse than death. I’m sorry Emma I wish I could be of more help.”

“What do I do now?” Emma asked out loud, the strain of everything was really getting to her.

Inside she was still freaking out about Henry; she truly believed she’d have him back by now.  Their never ending quest to find Henry was taking longer and longer and deep down Emma knew that the more time it took, the more influence Pan would have over her son.  And now Charming, her father, was dying. It was all too much and she wanted to scream in frustration, instead tears welled up and before they spilled over Emma quickly wiped them away. Emma didn’t notice Regina watching her, or the changing expressions on Regina’s face; it went from smug to concerned to resolved. Emma also didn’t notice Regina taking three steps over until she was standing next to her.

“We use what we have Emma.” Regina stated startling Emma.

Emma didn’t expect Regina to be so close or speak so softly, it was as if only Emma could hear her.

“What’s that?” Emma asked staring into Regina’s eyes; it was comforting to know at least one of them had a plan.


“Magic? Your magic?” Emma asked.

“No our magic.” Regina corrected her looking Emma in the eyes to convey her own confidence to the blonde.

“I don’t know how to use what magic I have, everything I’ve done has been by accident or with Gold’s instruction. I won’t be of any help to you Regina. And even if I could…would it be enough?” Emma answered growing even more dejected.

“Then its time you learn. And I do believe it will be enough, it has to be.” Regina announced while unconsciously tugging on her blue jacket, the regal posture was an unconscious sign of Regina’s confidence. It made Emma feel better to see it.

“Do we have time?” Emma asked then turned to Tinkerbell and Hook asking. “How much time does Charming have? You said day’s right?”

Hook frowned and looked away. Tinkerbell pressed her lips together shaking her head at Hook and went over to Charming to examine the wound. A moment later she announced. “Hook was right, the poison is moving through him quicker than it should. The lost boys may be using stronger doses of Dreamshade on their arrows. I can use my pixy dust to make him sleep deeply, it will force the poison to slow down and give us time.”

“How much time?” Snow asked as Charming somehow grew even paler at the news.

“Two maybe three days at the most.”

“And if we just keep moving?” Snow asked.

“He’ll be dead before the nights through. Any movement by him will cause the poison to spread faster.” Tinkerbell stated grimly.

“Do it.” Snow ordered Tinkerbell.

“Make camp get him settled then I’ll put him under.” Tinkerbell instructed sending everyone into action.

As soon as the camp was set up, Emma asked Hook for help moving Charming only to have Regina silently stop her with a gentle hand on her shoulder and a small but sympathetic smile. Then in a very gentle voice Regina asked. “Let me?”

Emma looked at Regina with a tiny amount of relief and gave Regina a tight smile nodding yes. Regina flicked her hand and Charming instantly rose up levitating in place then Regina slowly guided him over by the fire and set him down gently. Snow was at his side every moment, once he was on the ground and wrapped in a blanket Snow gave Tinkerbell the signal to go ahead and she did pulling out a tiny handful of pixy dust blowing it over Charming’s face and chest. They all saw yellow sparkles as the pixy dust soaked into Charming putting him into a very deep sleep, one that resembled death.

“I thought Pixy dust was green?” Snow asked looking to Tinkerbell.

“Only when you use it to fly.” Tinkerbell replied.

Hook watched this then turned to Emma and Regina telling them, “You don’t have much time I suggest you two get started.”

“I’ll help keep an eye on things here.” Hook offered earning him a grateful smile from Emma and a small fast sneer and sarcastic eye roll from Regina.

“You ready? We should get started.” Emma asked as she gestured to Regina to follow.

Regina frowned commenting, “All eager to get started because your boyfriend says so? How convenient.”

“My boyfriend…Hook? What’s your problem?” Emma asked stopping to stare in confusion at Regina.

Neither woman saw Snow stand up or listen in but they did noticed when Snow butted in getting in Regina’s face and giving Regina major attitude telling the brunette. “She just lost Neal. What’s wrong with you?”

Regina’s first instinct was to say something shitty back to Snow then she caught the look on Emma’s face and instantly Regina backed off. Unable to meet Emma’s eyes at first she sighed then looked up at Emma telling her. “I’m sorry. I’m just worried about Henry.”

Nothing more was said and Emma followed Regina out into the dark forest.

The brunette was noticing more and more how much Hook was flirting with Emma and she didn’t like it. Regina knew Hook and how little you could actually trust him; she also knew how he operated and how much of an opportunist he was. Regina was certain Hook would abandon them the first chance he got, his sympathetic nice guy act only seemed to be fooling Emma. For the most part Emma seemed oblivious to Hooks efforts yet Regina didn’t want to give Hook any sort of in with the stubborn blonde. Regina began to plan on how to stop that, the last thing she wanted was Emma falling for Hook’s oily charms. It was bad enough when Neal suddenly popped back up in Emma’s life but it was devastating to find out Henry’s biological father was Baelfire, Rumpel’s son. It had been very painful for Regina to learn to share Henry with Emma yet she slowly warmed up to it and eventually learned to appreciate Emma in her own small way. Regina had no intentions of sharing her son with anyone else.

Thinking of how things have evolved between herself and the blonde it left Regina to wonder what would have happened had her mother not returned to find her in Storybrooke, and that lead her to wondering what her relationship with Emma would have been, had the blonde not broke the curse. And just as quickly as those thoughts entered her mind Regina promptly shook them out, tugged on her jacket smoothing out the non-existent wrinkles then turned to Emma with an expectant expression on her face.

As Emma followed behind Regina, she couldn’t help but notice the blonde fairy staring at Regina. Tinkerbell had been doing it since they left her cave hours earlier, at first it wasn’t noticeable. Now Emma noticed each and every loaded look thrown at Regina. Tinkerbell was still keeping her distance and wasn’t speaking directly to Regina yet even Emma could tell the blonde fairy wanted to talk to the brunette. About what Emma had no idea maybe that complicated history Regina mentioned. Not that Emma would ever admit it to anyone, all those loaded looks really got under Emma’s skin bothering her greatly.

Putting on a firm look of determination Emma walked over to Regina asking, “Where do you want to do this?”

“Someplace where we can have open space and privacy.” Regina answered privately pleased that Emma was so eager to take instruction from her.

Together they walked a good distance away from the camp in silence searching for another open spot eventually finding something suitable. Emma kept her eyes on Regina as the brunette directed her to sit in the center of the small clearing on a smooth rock, then moved to sit facing Emma. There was a full moon above their heads with a clear sky illuminating everything in soft bright white light.

“How do we begin?” Emma asked looking into Regina’s eyes.

“Tell me what you know about magic.”

“Well, Gold told me it came from emotion and I’m starting to see that.” Emma answered.

Regina smiled then began explaining magic to Emma. She began by going through a list of things possible because of magic which lead to discussing how magic worked and why some magic was harder than others. The purpose of spells, enchantments, curses and everything else Regina could think of that she felt was important for Emma to know.

They talked about magic for almost three hours, it was the longest uninterrupted conversation they ever had. Both women were privately surprised by how easy it was to talk to one another. Privately Regina and Emma both found themselves enjoying the conversation. Regina was enjoying sharing her knowledge with Emma as Emma was enjoying learning something new. It helped that Regina lost the sass for the moment (something Emma didn’t think Regina capable of) and focused on educating the blonde. Regina took great pleasure in how quick Emma was to understand what she was explaining and how eager she was to try it out herself.

“Remember emotion is the fuel but your will is the weapon, you need both. Let’s start small.” Regina said giving Emma an encouraging smile.

“Okay.” Emma replied giving Regina a big smile; this was fun—for both of them.

“Hey, can I ask you a question?” Emma asked shyly and Regina nodded yes without hesitation.

“How did you start with magic?” Emma asked curious, the blonde also assumed (correctly) that this open receptive woman in front of her was for a limited time.

Emma hoped Regina would actually answer her, maybe share a bit about herself, something that wasn’t about the Evil Queen. Once upon a time Emma didn’t care how Regina came to be as she was now, however time and everything else that happened changed that. Now Emma wanted, no needed, to know who the woman standing in front of her really was.

“My mother…was always the way she was so I was raised with magic. And to be honest…I hated it. My mother used it to control everyone, to manipulate and hurt people.  I wanted nothing to do with it.” Regina stated softly, Emma had never heard Regina speak in such a gentle quiet manner, it was odd and intimate as if Regina was sharing a special secret with her.

“Then…how?” Emma asked unable to put the complicated question into words.

Instantly Regina froze, her mouth open and close a few times then suddenly she closed her eyes took a deep breath, when Regina opened her eyes she kept them on the ground as she confessed. “I fell in love and we planned to run away together. My mother wanted me to marry a King; I wanted to marry the man I loved, a simple stable boy. The only person I told about this plan was Snow and…she told my mother who found us as we tried to leave. Mother ripped his heart out in front of me and he died in my arms. In my pain I wanted revenge, not long after Rumpel came to me and that’s when I began to use magic…dark magic. I was always powerful but my mother’s spell book opened up a whole new world for me. A world where I was strong and in control.”

“Wait…the king…that was…?” Emma asked unable to say the name.

“Leopold, Snow’s father.” Regina said unable to stop the razor sharp edge to her voice.

Emma stood there stunned; there was so much pain and sadness in Regina’s voice—so much vulnerability. It was one thing to learn about the Evil Queen, it was another thing to suddenly realize that there was a real person behind the Evil Queen. That the villain Regina had become wasn’t instantaneous but a slow methodical process that took years. Emma always knew Snow’s relationship with the Evil Queen was complicated yet no one gave Emma the details about it, everyone assumed Emma would simply accept their reality and their opinion of the past. No one expected Emma to fight back and push to make her choices, come to her own conclusions. Having not grown up in a fairy tale world Emma knew nothing was black and white; that regardless of personal ideals everyone actually lived in shades of gray.

Feeling as if she needed to say something yet not knowing what it should be Emma simply replied, “I’m sorry Regina.”

“What?” Regina asked so softly Emma thought she misheard, yet the questioning, surprised rather intense look the brunette was giving her made Emma pause and add on. “I didn’t mean to bring up old pain. No one’s told me the whole story about what happened. Everyone only gives me pieces. Things were…well they are complicated. I know I don’t have the right to ask you this but…maybe one day when we’re not saving lives and rescuing family every other minute or fighting with each other…you could tell me more…you know about your life before.”

Regina silently stared at Emma stunned, her eyes wide her mouth open Regina didn’t know what to say or what to think. No one had ever asked that before and that it was Emma asking her made her breath catch and her heart beat faster. It made Regina feel…good. And before she realized the words were coming out of her mouth she replied. “Okay, sure.”

Emma gave Regina a bright smile and changed the subject asking. “So what do you want me to learn first?”

“Well we’ll start with the mechanics of it; allow you get comfortable utilizing it. Once you get comfortable the rest will follow.” Regina began shaking off that odd sensation of excitement mixed with anticipation and confusion to refocus on the task at hand. “We should focus on only what you’ll need for the task at hand. We won’t have near enough time to cover everything and ensure you have enough time to practice.”

“Okay, what do you think that will be? Oh wait, we should make a plan.” Emma pointed out.

“That’s a good idea.”

Regina and Emma began to discuss what little they knew of the cave, the mermaids and the antidote. The fact that Tinkerbell suggested they sneak in was a big clue so after debating it for about ten minutes they decided to focus on three skills. Attack, protect and move. All three skills were related to one another as Regina explained it to Emma. “This is your first lesson of control. The magic you’ve done in the past was more due to reflex than intent; you need to train your body and your mind to work as one.”

“How do I do that?” Emma asked confused.

“Imagine it as if you’re taking three steps forward. The first step is your emotions, the fuel for magic. The next step is your will, your intent and last step is combine and release.”

“Okay which one first?”  Emma asked getting up and taking a firm stance in the center of the clearing.

“Moving or what you would know as levitation. Learning that is the foundation for the other two. Are you ready?” Regina asked giving Emma a slight smirk.

Emma nodded yes and Regina raised her hand conjuring up an apple. Looking Emma in the eyes Regina instructed. “Catch and hold. No hands.”

Emma nodded yes and eagerly waited for Regina to toss it up. This would be her first time giving a real effort she hoped that the pressure of finding Henry and saving her dad would be enough motivation. Regina waited for a count of four then tossed the apple up into the air toward Emma. The blonde tensed up and her eyes went wide as if she were using her eyes alone to catch the fruit.

Fractions of seconds felt like minutes as Regina watched Emma and the apple at the same time, she was waiting for the bright red fruit to hit the blonde in the head when to her shock and happy surprise the apple suddenly froze midair a few inches from Emma’s forehead.

“You did it!” Regina whispered in excited awe. Regina was expecting a lot from Emma and that Emma didn’t disappoint was such a new experience for her.

“I did it!” Emma exclaimed bursting with excitement but the second she took her eyes off the fruit it dropped to the forest floor.

“Awe!” Emma pouted leaning down to pick up the fruit however a moment before she could grab it Regina snatched it up with her magic and held it up in the air.

“Ah, ah, ah. No hands Emma.” Regina reminded her with a happy smirk.

Emma chuckled making an “I forgot” face and smiled. The blonde focused on the apple, Regina could feel Emma take possession of it, feeling Emma’s magic was strange and odd…it tingled.

Everyone who could do magic gave off a special magic vibe and Regina could always tell how powerful a person was by how strong that vibe was. The only people she had ever met with magic as strong as hers was her mother Cora and Rumpelstiltskin, until now. Emma’s magic was strong, as strong as her own if Regina wanted to be honest and touching it with her own magic felt like excitement personified, it was the most bizarre yet pleasurable sensation Regina had ever experienced.

“Hey…was that you?” Emma asked glancing over at Regina while keeping the apple floating.

“You felt that?” Regina asked again very surprised.

Most who had magic had to be taught to sense the magic in others, it was not an innate skill at least so Regina thought.

“Yeah. Why?” Emma answered with curiosity.

“Not many can without proper training. This…is a good sign.” Regina answered and Emma face lit up.

“Are you ready for the next step?” Regina asked.

“Yeah.” Emma answered letting the apple drop into her hand then took a bite out of it.

Regina watched amused as the blonde mumbled “good” to herself as she scarfed down half of it. Emma noticed Regina watching giving her that “what the hell are you doing?” look and grinned with a mouthful of apple. Regina raised an eyebrow and Emma grinned a little wider and offered the other half to Regina. The gesture surprised the brunette and it showed amusing Emma completely. Regina shrugged and took the half that was left and bit into it, it was good.  Once the apple was eaten they got back to business.

“Now you practice. I’ll throw stuff up you catch and hold it until I say stop.” Regina instructed and Emma nodded in understanding.

Regina levitated a number of different size rocks, branches and logs from around them up into the air then one by one threw them at Emma. Regina was careful not to overwhelm Emma, the blonde needed to learn how to use those special magic muscles before anything else. Emma did very well but by the end of the exercise she was had sweat beading along her forehead and dripping down her back.

“Okay you can set them down now.” Regina stated watching as Emma set everything down then bent over breathing heavy.

“Do you need to take a break?” Regina asked not really hiding the teasing tone in her voice, it got Emma’s attention and she turned to look at the brunette raising one eyebrow up at her in response.

“It’s okay if you do.  Until you get use to using magic it will tax you learning how to control it, this is normal.” Regina replied laughing lightly.

“Oh, okay.” Emma replied looking a little less peeved. “How am I doing?”

“You’re doing very well.”

Emma had to look away to hide how happy that simple complement made her. When she turned back she asked, “What’s next?”

“We’ll move to protection next. It’s similar in its basic concept only instead of just catching individual objects you can also create barriers, walls, shields…things of that nature.”

“Oh, like I did that one time back in Storybrooke?”

“Yes and no. What you did in Storybrooke was create a protective barrier, a very strong one that took you standing still and keeping you in one place. What we’ll need for this endeavor is something smaller, more mobile and accessible in a blink of an eye. It won’t take as much to produce so you could do it multiple times without slowing down.” Regina explained.

Emma was soaking everything up like a sponge; she wasn’t ready to tell Regina this but the brunette was a great teacher, patient, concise and clear. Emma was impressed.

Regina grinned taking several steps backward and waved her hands in front of her turning the area in between them into thick deep mud. Emma’s jaw dropped open and she looked to Regina with a little dread asking in a rather whiny tone.

“You’re kidding, right?”

“You’re not up for the challenge?” Regina teased hoping it would get a specific response out of the blonde and it did. Emma’s face scrunched up and she gave Regina that “I’ll show you!” look Regina loved getting out of Emma.

“Good, let’s get started.” Regina stated picking up two large handfuls of mud with her magic and raising it to eye level. “Don’t let the mud touch you.”

“You make it sound so easy.” Emma replied sarcastically and Regina smiled a little wickedly as commented. “It is.”

Regina sent one clump of mud after another which Emma was able to deflect. The blonde was getting more comfortable with using magic and doing the motions necessary without getting distracted. Regina picked up the pace throwing more and more mud at Emma, in a few minutes it started to get a little heated as Regina increased her mud attack. Regina wanted to push Emma as far as she could and the moment Emma got really overwhelmed she instinctively turned one of the clumps of mud around and threw it back at Regina with a burst of blue white hitting Regina square in the chest with a loud wet smack bringing everything to screeching halt.

Emma’s mouth dropped open and her eye got huge while Regina’s face twisted in shock then anger followed by outraged determination. It was on. Before Emma could apologize Regina started throwing mud for real and managed to get Emma in the forehead with a rather large clump of the sticky wet earth. Emma was quick to wipe it away and throw whatever mud she could at Regina. Mud flew everywhere.

Regina laughed with delight every time she managed to hit Emma and Emma taunt-laughed at Regina every time she hit the brunette. They started running around the mud hole trying to get each other laughing and taunting each other easily slipping back in old nicknames.

“Is that all you got Sheriff Swan? Pathetic.”

“Oh I could go all night Mayor Mills; it’s you who seems to be losing speed. Tired already? I thought you were tougher than that.” Emma teased dodging, blocking and throwing mud.

They kept teasing each other throwing mud around the pit until they emptied the pit of most of the mud, that’s when they both started circling closer to each other. And when Regina got close hitting Emma in the face with mud, Emma reached down and used her bare hand to scoop up some of the mud that was left and rushed Regina hitting her in the chest with the wet clump and tackling the brunette down into the mud.

It wasn’t until both women were on the ground and they stopped that they were finally pulled out of the moment. They realized they were lying tangled in each other in the mud. The shock of being so intimately close left them both stunned until Emma looked at Regina’s face seeing it covered in mud she burst out in hearty laughter. At first Regina was confused about what was so funny until she glanced down at herself then at Emma and caught on and started laughing along with Emma. Still laughing both women slowly untangled themselves with Emma getting to her feet first; she offered both hands out to Regina helping the brunette up. Emma kept hold of Regina’s right hand and lead them out of the mud pit not letting go until they were back on dry ground.

“I think we got distracted.” Regina commented looking at herself.

Emma chuckled arguing, “Nah, we were training.”

“Training?” Regina asked raising an eyebrow which made Emma chuckle again and comment. “Looks a lot less threatening covered in mud.”

Regina gave up and laughed softly. “You did really well for your first time Emma. We should stop here, rest and begin again at first light.”

“Thank you Regina. And so you know I was about to apologize for hitting you with that mud that first time but you didn’t give me a chance to get a word out.” Emma stated still smiling, it was then she realized how much more relaxed she was and she could think clearly again.

“Well me retaliating as I did…it was part of your training but also because…no one hits me with mud!” Regina said her voice going high at the end making Emma laugh.

“I never thought magic training could be this fun. Shoot I didn’t think I’d ever have fun again, you know with everything that’s happened and everything going on.” Emma commented personally a little surprised at the revelation.

“I know what you mean. And I’ve never had much fun learning magic; this was new for me too.” Regina admitted with a little shrug.

“What are we going to do to clean up? I don’t know where a water source is nearby.” Emma asked looking to Regina.

Regina smiled a small amused smile and walked over to Emma, looking the blonde in the eyes Regina waved her hand palm out over Emma and in a blink of an eye Emma was clean again. Regina repeated the motion on herself and Emma stammered. “Wow!”

“It’s nothing.” Regina commented in a causal manner while brushing her now perfectly clean, brushed and styled hair out of her face.

“Nothing my ass! In any case, thank you, the mud was fun but I didn’t want to sleep in it.” Emma replied the smile never leaving her face.

“My sentiment exactly. Shall we return to camp?”

“Yeah.” Emma answered moving to head back.

“Oh Emma wait.” Regina called out stopping Emma, the blonde turned around looking expectantly at her. Regina conjured up three large apples and handed two over to Emma.

“One for you, one for Snow.” Regina explained in a rather embarrassed soft voice but Emma was touched by the gesture and immediately began to eat hers. “Thank you Regina. This is really nice of you.”

“You’re welcome Emma.” Regina replied and quietly began eating her own apple.

Neither woman dared speak about what apples had been before to Regina and to Emma, both women decided to look at it for what it was not what it represented. That Regina offered was a big deal, that Emma accepted without doubt, was also a big deal. Saying you were friends was one thing, saying you trusted someone was something but showing it was another matter entirely.

Emma was shocked to find the apple filled her up completely, she didn’t know if it was because it was a magic made apple or if it was because anything would have done but the apple had tasted amazing and she was full. On the walk back they chatted about the mud fight, it was a relaxed easy conversation and they both forgot the dire situation they were returning to. It wasn’t until they stepped back into camp and caught three pairs of questioning eyes staring at them they both fell silent. Regina immediately claimed her spot on the opposite side of camp sitting on her blanket leaning up against a tree ignoring everyone. Emma didn’t have that luxury; she had to return to her parents.

“How did training go?” Snow asked immediately still staring at Emma with so many questions in her eyes; her tone was full of accusations.

“Good. Better than expected and it wore me out.” Emma admitted.

“That’s normal when you’re learning.” Tinkerbell commented with a small nod.

“Tinkerbell has helped me keep close eye on your father. Hook was able to find some more berries if you’re hungry and some coconuts if you’re thirsty.” Snow stated.

Hook walked over taking a seat next to Emma handing her a newly opened coconut which she took and drank from though she wasn’t thirsty. Emma held on to the coconut then remembered. “Actually. Here.”

Emma offered Snow the apple, Snow scrunched up her face at Emma in confusion. Then Emma realized what she was doing and lied. “Look what I made. I already ate mine.”

“Really? You made this. Wow! You really are coming along.” Snow commented her whole face lighting up as she took the apple and immediately began eating it.

Emma couldn’t help but glance over at Regina to see the brunette covertly watching her, Emma expected anger, disappointment or accusation in Regina’s face and was totally surprised to see…understanding and relief.

Snow quietly ate her apple while Hook spent five minutes trying to talk to Emma but she had too much stuff on her mind. When he realized how unresponsive she was he gave up going to lay down on his blanket and promptly passing out snoring clutching his flask. Emma wondered how there was still rum in it when he was drinking from it almost nonstop. Maybe it was a magic flask, a never ending supply of rum.

“That wouldn’t be so bad.” Emma commented out loud.

“What was that sweetie?” Snow asked and Emma snapped out of her thoughts to reply. “Nothing I was just thinking out loud.”

“I knew you could do this Emma. We’ll save your father. As long as Regina keeps cooperating.” Snow commented looking a little pissed.

“Regina’s been a good teacher and I’m learning as fast as I can. We’ll get the antidote.” Emma tried to assure her but Snow threw more questioning looks at her then commented. “You two sounded like you were having a good time when you came back to camp. For a moment I was worried you weren’t taking this seriously.”

“Seriously? Of course I’m taking it seriously. I just spent something like six hours learning and practicing magic, busting my ass so we can do this. How can you say that?” Emma shot back.

Across the camp Regina sat up on her blanket her back still turned to everyone, Emma knew she was listening to every word they said.

“I know I’m sorry Emma. I’m just so worried about your father and I don’t trust her. I know we’re all supposed to be working together but I don’t trust her. I don’t think I ever will.” Snow insisted.

Out of the corner of her eyes Emma saw Regina get up and walk out of camp. Emma’s first instinct was to get up and follow Regina out however before she got a chance to consider it Tinkerbell quietly got up and walked out of camp in the same direction Regina had gone. Emma frowned and fumed for a quick moment then turned to Snow telling her. “You don’t need to trust Regina. I do and she’s going out of her way and risking her life to help save dad not just Henry, she didn’t have to do that. I’m not asking you feel different about her, I’m asking you to stop saying it out loud. All the little digs need to stop; we need to be a team. We’re out running out of time, for dad and for Henry. We don’t have time to fight anymore.”

Snow was stunned silent; she had nothing to say in return. Tears welled up and Snow finally said, “You’re right. I’m sorry Emma, I’ll try.”

“Thank you.”

“You should try to get some sleep if you want to start at first light.” Snow suggested and Emma nodded lying down.

Keeping her back to Snow, Emma laid there awake staring out into the dark forest thinking about magic, about the lessons and the mud fight but mostly thinking about Regina. Emma kept wondering what Regina and Tinkerbell were doing out in the forest, what they might be talking about and why. Emma really wanted to get up and go spy on them only the fact she couldn’t come up with a good excuse to give Snow kept her in place.

The entire day had been a whirlwind of stress, adrenaline, overwhelming emotion, despair and hope. Emma’s head was still spinning over it all and now that she had a moment to stop and think about it all so many details were popping up. Charming had definitely been acting weird and now they knew why, Emma felt bad for not noticing yet she didn’t get down too hard on herself there was a lot going on. Snow was watching her like a hawk and Snow really didn’t like how well Emma and Regina were working together. Emma didn’t care until the big stuff was out of the way Snow’s issues could wait. She had to worry about Hook and what he wanted from her, he wasn’t helping them out of the goodness of his heart that much she was sure. Nor could she forget that Rumpelstiltskin was out there too supposedly on their side and Pan whispering poison in her son’s ear.

And again Regina came to mind.

Regina was stepping up to the plate at every turn and Emma could clearly see how hard she was trying. It was more than Emma expected, it was more than anyone else was doing to help. Thinking back over the last few weeks Emma realized a lot of the hard earned and hard fought for progress between Regina and herself had been damaged when she went into the portal. Emma heard enough from Archie and Ruby about how Regina was targeted by everyone and without Emma there to push back for Regina, Regina went fell back on old tactics to get what she wanted. It had been a surprise to find out from Charming, that Regina willingly let Henry stay with her dad as a sign of good faith on her part. Things got better when Emma and Snow returned to Storybrooke, then fell apart completely when Cora found her way to the sleepy little town with Hook. When Regina was accused of murder, Emma knew deep down Regina wasn’t guilty. Emma had gotten to know Regina pretty damn well through their fighting. Yet Emma didn’t have faith in her own instincts, in her own judgment and in her weakness, she fell prey to Snow’s and Charming’s bias toward the ex-Evil Queen.  Thinking back on the time she went to Regina’s house during the murder investigation to confront Regina, Emma now realized why Regina had acted so hurt. It was because she was hurt, Regina had faith that Emma would believe her because she knew her and Emma failed her just when Regina needed her most.

Emma had gotten so many things wrong, her head twisted in so many directions with everyone pushing for control of her. Too many things happening too fast, her mind couldn’t keep up and she made bad choices because of it. Emma wondered how much fighting could have been avoided if she had tried talking to Regina first or maybe tried to get all the facts instead of jumping the gun time and time again. Everyone was caught in a cycle of pain and no one was trying to stop it. Emma still couldn’t fully believe what Snow did to Regina and Cora, Snow never had the courage to tell Emma the whole truth about what happened but she overheard Snow and Charming talking and got the gist of it. No one was innocent and Emma was starting to think no one ever was. The whole good and evil so important to everyone around her were nothing more than roles people played to fit in to the world they knew; roles impossible to let go.

Things were better now. It happened in the mines, what Emma and Regina did together to save everyone and they did it together. They worked as a team and proved for the third time what they were only now recognizing; they were stronger together than they were alone. Having Henry get kidnapped was horrible, the worst thing that’s happened yet and that was saying a lot. However one of the side effects of the tragedy was all of them joining forces and that was leading to new developments between Emma and Regina.

Developments like Regina being helpful and supporting Emma when it counted. Emma was still shocked Regina opened up about her past as she had, she never thought she’d earn that level of trust with the brunette, that she had made Emma feel really good. That trust from Regina, Emma wanted to keep it and knew she’d have to work to do so. The whole training session was still rolling around in the back of Emma’s mind. The long conversation, the playful teasing and how fun Regina was, it was all so surprising. Emma also couldn’t believe she actually tackled Regina to the ground, she had done it without hesitation and that Regina didn’t get mad about it was…wonderful.

That train of thought lead Emma to think of all those subtle quiet communication between the two of them was becoming more and more common. The long looks into each other’s eyes, asking and answering questions without having to speak. The quick yet meaningful physical touches…and then there was the biggest thing of all: saving Regina from Tinkerbell’s pixy dust; Emma knew what happened and what it meant yet she wasn’t ready to accept it and pushed all those implications out of her mind.

Emma tried to go to sleep but she kept listening for Tinkerbell and Regina to return.

Regina couldn’t listen to Snow anymore and stood up walking out of camp back toward the training area not knowing where else to go. She needed to be alone if only for a moment, things were going very well between Emma and herself, she didn’t want to ruin it by letting her anger at Snow show. Normally she didn’t have that strength of restraint however the training session with Emma was an amazing stress reliever and Regina felt more focused than she had been in a long time. That whole session was a little odd, with how easy and comfortable it was. Regina couldn’t remember the last time anything was that easy or comfortable usually everything was painful and hard. Regina didn’t know why she always enjoyed her interactions with Emma yet she did from the beginning. The first person in twenty eight years who did something different, something challenging and from someone who had the courage to stand up to her right from the start. And on the plus side the lesson had been a lot of fun, Emma was easy to teach and picked up things quickly.

Regina was still thinking about Emma and the mud fight when she heard a noise in the brush behind her.

“Who’s there?” Regina demanded hands out ready to defend herself if necessary.

“It’s me Tinkerbell.” The blonde fairy replied stepping out into the moon light.

Regina put her hands down; she wasn’t happy about the interruption and asked in a slightly sarcastic tone, “Do you need anything?”

“I came to talk.”


Regina waved her hand creating a nice warm fire and two logs to sit upon and gestured to the blonde fairy to join her. They both took a seat opposite each other and sat for a long moment staring into the fire.

“You knew what happened to me after…didn’t you?” Tinkerbell asked looking Regina in the face.


“Did you ever look for him?” Tinkerbell asked.


“Why did you lie to me? And why didn’t you try after you found out what happened to me? Because I took a chance on you! Why? You have to tell me why!” Tinkerbell demanded getting mad all over again.

Regina sat there moving her jaw and grinding her teeth as she fought with herself, to tell Tinkerbell the truth or continue to lie. Tinkerbell stared at Regina while she waited.

“I got to the tavern door and opened it. I panicked and ran. I…I…I wasn’t ready to let Daniel go. I wasn’t ready to let the anger go. You said I could let go of the anger that was weighing me down and suddenly it felt like without it. I would just float away. That anger was all I had. What would I be without it?”

“You would have had love Regina. True love! Would that have been so bad?” Tinkerbell pushed baffled by the brunette.

“Love is weakness.” Regina stated looking into the fire, fresh tears spilling down her cheeks.

“What about your son? You said you loved your son.”

“I do love my son. Henry the only thing I’ve ever gotten right.” Regina confessed with more tears spilling over.

Nothing else was said for a long while both sat in silence staring at the fire. Eventually Regina sighed and tilted her head looking rather pained as she told the blonde fairy. “You saved my life and tried to help me but I was…afraid and beyond redemption. I heard what the Blue Fairy did to you. I could have helped with the dark magic I was learning but you have to understand as I was then…as I could be again…Tinkerbell I’ve ripped countless hearts from people’s chest, I have a room full of them. I was as evil as everyone expected me to be. If you had been anywhere near me then…you would most likely be dead now.”

“You turned into exactly what the Blue Fairy said you would turn into. I thought I could save you.” Tinkerbell confessed giving Regina an apologetic smile.

“No one could save me. I wasn’t ready.”

“Are you now?”

“I don’t know.” Regina replied then fell silent for a moment. “Tink can I ask you a question?”


“I know the Blue Fairy took your wings. Yet here in Neverland you have them…Was it Pan?”

“Yes. Why? Are you worried?”

“No you did what you had to do to get what you wanted back. I know the feeling.”

They both fell silent again for another long moment, eventually Tinkerbell broke the silence.

“I was wrong.” The blonde fair said out of nowhere.

“What did you say?” Regina asked eyes wide; it was the last thing she expected the blonde fairy to say.

“I was wrong.”

“About what?”

“Saying you couldn’t change. I was curious and had to know so I spied on you and Emma earlier. I watched you two together. It was not what I expected. You are different. It rather reminded me of the girl I met all those years ago. There was a time I regretted saving you. I don’t anymore.”

“Sometimes I regretted you saving me too. When you told me pixy dust could lead me to a new love, my happy ending I felt like anything was possible that maybe I didn’t have to turn out like my mother. Only the path I was on was already set just as Rumpelstiltskin said it was. I became my mother…I was wrong about so much. You saving me that day, it’s only one of many regrets.”

“Do you still feel that way?”

“No not really. The path I walked, as horrible as it was led me to the one thing that’s brought me happiness, Henry. He’s the reason I’m trying to change, trying to be the mother he deserves.” Regina confessed smiling a little at the thought of her son.

“How did Emma get involved in all this? Get involved with you?” Tinkerbell asked leaning back on the log, she was fascinated by this new Regina.

Regina frowned and told Tinkerbell a short version of what happened, the curse, Emma being transported to a different realm; Emma’s early life and having Henry, her adoption of Henry and Henry bringing Emma back to Storybrooke. Regina didn’t want to speak ill of Emma in anyway and made it clear Emma giving up Henry for adoption was what was best for all of them, even admitting how she wrongly used that information against Emma in their fight over Henry.  And how Regina’s mistake led to Emma breaking the curse in Storybrooke all the way to how they ended up in Neverland. It was nice to tell someone the whole story; it gave Regina reflection she had never allowed herself before. She felt ashamed of much of her behavior no matter how she was manipulated and pushed into doing all the things she did, she still knew better.  It renewed her resolve to be better from now on, for her it was literally one step at a time.

Talking to Tinkerbell was easier than she thought it could be, easy like it was when they first met all those years ago. It reminded Regina what it was like to have a friend; the only person she had that connection with anymore was Emma. That’s when it hit Regina, having Emma in her life made her feel less alone.

Regina used magic to remove the fire and the logs so they could return to camp. They found Snow asleep next to Charming holding him with one arm. Hook was snoring even louder and had rolled off his blanket. Emma was lying down with her back toward everyone. Regina wanted to see if she was awake to talk to her however when Regina realized she didn’t have an excuse to wake her up or talk to her at such a late hour. Regina frowned pouting a little bit she laid down on her own blanket and tried to sleep.

“Goodnight Regina. Sleep well.” Tinkerbell quietly told her.

“You too Tink.” Regina replied closing her eyes.

Unbeknownst to Regina, Emma was awake; she wanted to speak to Regina as well, however, she saw Tinkerbell’s smile and Regina’s smile upon their return to camp. Emma didn’t know what to make of it. She did know it bothered her and completely irritated her so much so it forced her to think hard about all of it eventually falling asleep still wondering why she felt jealous of Tinkerbell.

The next morning Emma awoke to find everyone else still asleep except for Tinkerbell, the blonde fairy was sitting by the fire heating water for tea.

“Good morning Emma.”

“Morning.” Emma replied rubbing the last of sleep from her eyes. “Hey how’s Charming? Is he holding up?”

“Yes, he’s holding up well. You will need to make the attempt at the antidote tonight; if you wait any longer it might be too late.” Tinkerbell warned.

Emma nodded in understanding and got up to pee. She walked off into the woods and relieved herself. The moment her mind was awake she remembered she was mad at Tinkerbell. Returning to camp Emma noticed Regina still sleeping and took her seat making a sarcastic comment to the blonde fairy. “I’m surprised you’re up this early considering how late you went to sleep last night.”

“I don’t sleep much.” Tinkerbell answered not catching on to the sarcasm or Emma’s souring attitude.

“Well that’s all good for you but Regina’s not a fairy, she needs her sleep. Be more considerate of her next time and try not to keep her up all night.” Emma snapped glaring at Tinkerbell.

Tinkerbell was slowly catching on to Emma’s weird outburst commenting, “We were talking, something we’ve needed to do for a long time. Emma you’ve shown me a side to Regina I have not seen since we first met. And this time I didn’t have to save her after jumping out a window.”

“Wait, what? How did you meet Regina for the first time?”  Emma pressed.

“Regina said she fell, I had concerns she jumped out of the castle window. I saved her and convinced her all was not lost. My efforts didn’t have the effect either of us anticipated. I was surprised to see hope in her eyes again. It was nice to know the girl I met was not completely lost.”

Emma didn’t have anything to say to that, she had no idea Regina tried to kill herself. Emma never considered how bad things must have been with Leopold for her to considered suicide. Then again she didn’t know hardly anything about Regina before meeting her. The bits and pieces Emma was learning wasn’t enough she needed to learn more, she needed to learn everything.

Emma lost deep in thought didn’t noticed Tinkerbell watching her with a curious expression.

A short time later Hook woke followed by Snow and Regina. Hook went off with Tinkerbell to search for something for breakfast while Emma passed out tea to Snow and Regina who were both quiet, it was the first morning with no bickering. Emma couldn’t believe how nice it was. Hook and Tinkerbell returned empty handed so Snow stood up grabbing her bow and announcing.

“I’m going to go hunting. Berries won’t cut it anymore, we need proper food.”

“You can’t go alone. That’s way too dangerous.” Emma protested.

“I’ll go with her.” Hook volunteered surprising Emma. The pirate gave Emma a charming smile trying to look humble and it worked getting Emma to say.

“Are you sure? You just came back. I can go.” Emma offered but Snow wouldn’t hear of it. “No, if I’m going hunting I need someone I trust back here watching your father. I’ll take Hook.”

Hook smiled shooting flirty eyes at Emma and the blonde thanked him. It made Regina roll her eyes in sarcasm and she made a small quick expression of vomiting. Tinkerbell was the only one who caught it and had to stifle a laugh, even the fairy could see how hard the pirate was trying with most of it falling flat. Snow and Hook were quick to leave camp, Emma put more water on for tea privately amazed that Snow carried so much tea with her in that small pouch on her waist, it was enough to last them at a couple of weeks.

With Snow out of the camp Emma felt more comfortable talking to Regina and didn’t hesitate to offer Regina cup of hot tea gesturing to the brunette to take a seat by the fire. Regina gave Emma a small grateful smile and took the tea sitting an arm’s length away.

“How did you sleep?” Emma asked the brunette.

“Good. Better than I thought I would. I think you did wear me out a little.” Regina replied with a small unconscious smile.

Tinkerbell watched the two of them from a short distance away, she could hear everything and she could see every glance, every gesture between them. Tinkerbell was fascinated.

“How did you sleep?” Regina asked unable to tear her eyes from Emma’s face as the blonde shrugged and gave her that cocky smirk Regina privately liked so much.

“Okay, I wasn’t as worn out as you but then again I wasn’t out all night.”

“What?” Regina asked surprised by Emma’s observation and light teasing.

“You came back awfully late last night. That’s all.”

“Keeping tabs on me Sheriff Swan?” Regina asked raising one eyebrow at Emma.

“Maybe Mayor Mills? We have a schedule to keep. And you are older than me so I worry about health and ability to keep up. ” Emma replied in an unconscious flirty manner that made Regina smirk in amusement.

Emma and Regina continued to talk and tease one another with Tinkerbell silently watching no longer confused, the blonde fairy was very amused by what she saw. An idea had begun to form in the fairy’s mind the night before during her conversation with Regina. It wasn’t so much what Regina said that was so fascinating but how she said it and how she lit up when she talked about Emma. The one thing Tinkerbell learned about Regina right from the get go was how much Regina loved challenges and Emma Swan had been nothing but a challenge from the moment they met. And the unique development of their relationship with one another was unlike anything Tinkerbell had ever heard of or seen. Now in the light of day Tinkerbell was sure she was right now she only needed to test her idea and get proof. Because if she was right that meant the pixy dust that day all those years ago had been wrong.

The light hearted atmosphere disappeared the moment Snow returned carrying a rabbit already skinned ready to cook. Emma stared at her mother in shock; it was still odd to see Snow White emerge out of Mary Margaret. Emma kept forgetting how badass Snow White really was when all she normally got was overbearing Mary Margaret.

“Emma you and Regina should go practice. This will take a while to cook.” Snow suggested getting the rabbit set up to cook with Hook’s help.

Emma was finally noticing how much Hook was smiling at her, trying to be helpful only to look to see if she was watching. It made Emma sarcastically roll her eyes, the last thing she needed was to hook up with anyone especially a literal pirate that had caused so her and her family so many horrible problems. Emma knew she had made some bad decisions in her life but getting together with Hook was one she wasn’t going to go near. The self-destructive streak that would have pushed her into the arms of someone like Hook wasn’t as strong as it used to be; Emma was growing up and had bigger concerns to deal with then where her next bad boy booty call was coming from.  

“Regina, are you ready?” Emma asked and Regina nodded yes and without another word they walked out of camp together.

It wasn’t until they had reached the training area they used the day before that Emma broke the silence.

“We may not get the chance later so I wanted to tell you, thank you Regina.”

“For what Emma?”

“For helping me. For helping Snow, for doing all that you’re doing. I wanted you to know I appreciate it and I meant it when I said we were friends. Plus I don’t want to mess it up so I’m going to try to communicate better and not jump to conclusions or take anything for granted. Too much can get ripped away in a blink of an eye. And I know I can’t get Snow to change how she feels about you but I did ask her to stop antagonizing you so much and she’s agreed.”

Regina was happily surprised and it showed on the brunettes face.

“Let’s get started.” Emma suggested.

“This morning will be all about attacking. Ready to learn how to throw a fireball?” Regina asked with playful smirk.

“Oh yeah!”

Now that Emma was more comfortable doing magic learning how to create and throw fireballs was simply a lot of fun. At first they practiced making them and throwing them with Regina playing fireman and putting out countless fires Emma caused from poor aim. Then they moved to throwing them at each other, which Emma didn’t want to at first.

“I don’t know Regina. What if I accidently hit you? I don’t want to hurt you.” Emma insisted looking genuinely worried and Regina smiled lightly amused; it was becoming a very common expression for the brunette when alone with Emma.

“That’s sweet of you to say Emma but allow me assure you I can handle myself. And it’s very important you practice like this, it’s important it becomes reflex. If you stop to think you may pause too long and give your opponent the chance they need to defeat you. I won’t allow you to go out tonight until I’m sure you’re ready. You getting hurt is not an option.”

“Okay.” Emma agreed.

It felt good to have someone care and believe in her, that it was Regina was no longer such a surprise.

They practiced by throwing fireballs at each other, Emma was really enjoying herself. By the time they decided to return to camp two hours later they were both confident in what Emma could do.

“How do you want to go in?” Emma asked looking to Regina.

It was unconscious but Emma completely took Regina’s lead when it came to magic and that she did so made Regina much more confident in what they were doing. It was a reassuring neither of them would go blindly rushing in. They did make a good team.

“I think we should sneak up take a good look then poof in.” Regina suggested.

“We didn’t cover poofing.” Emma pointed out and Regina laughed with a big smile.

“You’re with me, I’ve got you covered. We go in together and we leave together.”

“What if we get caught by the mermaids?”

“I know how to change my appearance. It takes a lot but if necessary I can. My only real concern is if I’ll be able to mimic the brat who stole our son well enough.”

“Well think that instead of Evil Quinn, you do evil kid; can’t be that far off right?” Emma joked and got Regina to laugh again.

Now that she was getting to hear Regina genuinely laugh more. Emma was staring to realize how much she really liked hearing it and found herself doing small things to get it to happen more and more.

“Hey, can you look like anyone?” Emma asked.

“Well that’s how my mother framed me for murder.” Regina commented as if it was nothing yet it made Emma reach out and stop Regina mid step.

Emma waited for Regina to stop and look at her before telling her. “I wish I knew that before. I didn’t know magic like that was possible in Storybrooke. Your mom did it but I never thought about anyone else doing it. When you were first accused for Archie’s murder I didn’t think you did it and I believed you when you said you didn’t. Then that dreamcatcher showed me a vision of a woman who looked identical to you murdering Archie. I was confused and everyone was pushing me to accuse you. I was wrong Regina. I’m sorry. It shouldn’t have taken Archie being found alive to figure out you were innocent.”

“I’m the Evil Queen; I’ve done many horrible things. It’s what’s expected of me. I’ll always be the villain Emma.” Regina stated sadly, the pain clear in her voice and eyes.

“Not anymore Regina. You’ve never been the Evil Queen to me and you never will be. You’re Regina Mills complicated stubborn, damaged and trying to do the best they can with what they’ve got…just like me. Everyone wants me to play the role of Savor but I’m just Emma, and you know, you’re one of the few people that see me as Emma and not the Savor. We’re both more than what people think we are. I’m not saying your past doesn’t mean anything, it does but it doesn’t define who you are today and who you can be in the future. ”

“Expectations can be horrible things.” Regina commented and Emma nodded in agreement.

Mutually they fell silent as they stepped back into camp. The rabbit was done and Hook, Tinkerbell and Snow were talking about Pan. Snow looked really worried.

“Did we miss anything?” Emma asked taking a seat next to her mother which made Snow smile. “Hook and Tinkerbell were telling me more about Pan.”

“We can’t forget Rumpelstiltskin is out there too. He may find Henry first.” Emma commented.

“I hope not, there’s no telling what he’ll do once he has Henry. He really is someone you can’t trust unless you have leverage over him.” Regina commented and even Snow nodded in agreement.

“You two should eat.” Hook suggested offering rabbit on a stick to Emma; she raised an eyebrow at the pirate but took the meat anyway.

Regina reached over getting some while keeping an eye on Hook. Snow turned to Emma asking eagerly. “How did training go?”

“Great, we’re all set to go. We’ll head out soon.” Emma assured her mother.

“What have you learned so far?” Snow asked.

At first Emma didn’t think Snow was genuinely interested yet that eager look never wavered so Emma told Snow what she learned then gave a quick demonstration. The first thing Snow noticed was.

“Odd, I’ve never seen magic that color before.”

“Emma has a pure heart and pure intent so her magic is pure. You’re used to seeing dark magic, magic of the corrupted and black hearted.” Regina explained keeping her eyes on the fire.

Snow was surprised by the information as was Hook. Tinkerbell just nodded in agreement and gave Regina a quick warm smile that the brunette returned. Emma saw the exchange and was instantly annoyed, acting rash Emma outwardly acted shocked she asked Regina in an accusing tone of voice. “Why didn’t you tell me that before?”

“You didn’t ask.” Regina replied finally looking up her eyes only on Emma.

“You could have offered the information. I thought we talked about this.” Emma replied getting all worked up about it.

“Are you mad at me?” Regina asked genuinely surprised and in turn got all worked up about it too. “If we stopped right now so I could fill you in on everything, we’d never leave this camp because it would take us years to go through everything you don’t know.”

“Are you calling me dumb?” Emma asked looking really offended she stood up huffing and walking to pace a short distance away.

Regina stood up following Emma trying to tell her. “I never said that! Stop putting words in my mouth. I was only trying to make a point.”

“That I don’t know anything!” Emma shot back.

“No! Well damn it…yes. It wasn’t a slight against you! Why are you so worked up?” Regina asked getting in Emma’s face and the blonde didn’t back down an inch.

“You need to communicate with me more and assume that if it’s important, I should know.” Emma pushed and Regina stood there looking a little confused.

“Okay, fine.” Regina replied with a small shrug, giving in was easy since she couldn’t figure out why they were fighting.

Snow and Hook watched in confusion while Tinkerbell covered her mouth with her hand unable to suppress the amused smirk.  Emma returned to the fire to keep eating as did Regina, the brunette was confused while Emma remained obviously annoyed.

Over the next hour Emma and Regina got ready to leave with Tinkerbell. Hook was extra attentive to Emma offering her rum and extra weapons both which Emma refused. Yet Emma took a moment to speak to Hook privately, she was asking him to make sure he watched her parents to promise nothing bad would happen. And Hook promised using the moment to flirt heavily with Emma.

Across the camp Regina watched Emma and Hook growing more annoyed by the moment. The brunette was shooting daggers with her eyes at Hook when Tinkerbell walked over asking. “Problem Regina?”

Regina instantly lost the glare and answered. “No. Not at all.”

“I don’t trust Hook either but Emma is smart to play it up. Use him while he’s still interested.” Tinkerbell commented and Regina frowned glancing at the fairy.

“We don’t need him.” Regina insisted.

“For the moment, you do.”

Regina didn’t like that answer yet she couldn’t refute it. Taking a deep calming breath Regina mentally began planning different ways to rid them of Hook once they had the antidote.

Soon Emma said goodbye to Snow and was off with Regina and Tinkerbell into the dark forest. They walked in silence for over ten minutes before Tinkerbell commented. “If we make it to the cave before dusk you’ll have your best chance. Mermaids can see very well in the water during the day and at night, it’s dusk when the light changes that’s a problem for them.”

“How far away is it?” Emma asked looking up at the sun trying to figure out how much time they had. Everyone came to a halt.

“Far, we’ll be cutting it close if we keep going on foot.” Tinkerbell replied.

“What do you suggest?” Regina asked the fairy.

“You use your magic to take us there.” Tinkerbell replied.

“Hook said the island changes on you that using magic to move around would be pointless.” Emma interjected with Regina nodding in agreement both women were very serious.

“Which is true, unless you’ve lived long enough on this island to know it was well as Pan does. I know it better than the lost boys; I was Pan’s favorite for a while. It’ll take us a few jumps to find the right spot and it will be much faster than if we went by foot.”

“Okay. Let’s do that.” Emma was eager to agree, she was eager to get this mission done with. At first she didn’t want to use magic and now she had no choice too much was at stake

“Okay.” Regina nodded taking a moment to think.

Regina fidgeted with her jacket one more time nodding to herself then reached out with her right hand palm up to Emma looking the blonde in the eyes. Emma gave her an encouraging smile and took Regina’s hand holding it tight. Regina returned the encouraging smile then turned to Tinkerbell placing her left hand on the blonde fairy’s shoulder. Purple smoke engulfed them immediately and in a moment they found themselves in a different spot on the island.

It took several poofs to find the right place. To Emma and Regina every spot looked exactly the same thankfully Tinkerbell could tell the difference.  Traveling through magic smoke was physically hard for Emma at first, being able to hold Regina’s hand kept the blonde from falling over a few times. Emma didn’t let go until they finally found the right spot. And when they did Tinkerbell went on high alert making them all crouch down she whispered in a panic. “Regina, mask our smell or you’re done for!”

Regina nodded and with a flick of her hand they were bathed in purple smoke. Tinkerbell leaned in close to Emma telling her in a very low voice. “The cove is just past that hill. Don’t let them see you or smell you or the mermaids will go on high alert and your plan will be ruined.”

“How much longer until we should go?” Emma whispered back.

“An hour maybe.” Tinkerbell guessed looking up at the slowly moving sun.

Emma nodded then tapped Regina on the leg and gestured to her for them to go take a look over the hill. Regina nodded and together they crept up to the edge of the hill peeking over to see several dozen mermaids lounging in and around the cove. Emma never expected to see so many gathered in one place, she didn’t even know that many even existed. Suddenly their simple plan didn’t seem like it would be enough, not against that many mermaids out to kill them.

A light tap on her should and Emma turned to look at Regina, the brunette motioned for Emma to lean in. Emma nodded leaning close and Regina pressed her lips to Emma’s ear whispering. “The cave is behind the waterfall. I don’t think we’ll be able to sneak by all the mermaids and go in through the waterfall but we might be able to make it through the crack in the roof. If I can see inside, I can safely poof there. What do you think?”

Emma was momentarily flustered, Regina pressing her lips to Emma’s ear with hot breath made a tingle run up her spine and her toes curl. It took Emma a moment to think about what she had been asked. When she had her answer she scooted closer to Regina pressing her lips to the brunette’s ear whispering. “I think that’s a great idea. But we need a distraction or it won’t work.”

When Emma pulled back she noticed Regina looked a little flushed in the face. Regina took a moment to lick her lips and breathe before leaning in to whisper in Emma’s ear.

“I have an idea. I’ll tell you back behind the hill.”

Emma nodded yes and crawled back down the hill with Regina. Tinkerbell was silently waiting for them.

“That’s a lot of mermaids.” Emma commented and Tinkerbell nodded in agreement offering. “If there’s anything I can do to help, tell me.”

“Thanks Tink.” Emma replied smiling at the blonde fairy. Emma was glad to have the help.

“So what’s the plan Regina?” Emma asked looking to the brunette eagerly.

Regina turned to look Emma in the eyes asking, “The plan depends on one thing so before we do this I have to ask. Can you trust me?”

“Regina…I already trust you. You said you wouldn’t leave me behind and I believe you. I believe in you. So what’s the plan?”  Emma asked quietly with a small confident smile.

Relieved and reassured Regina brightened and quietly told Emma and Tinkerbell the plan. It was complicated and difficult but if they all did their part they’d be in and out before the mermaids knew what hit them. They waited together for a little longer then slowly moved into position.

The mermaid cove was horse shoe shaped with a massive water fall on in the center; the cliffs next to the waterfall overlooked all of Neverland. There were no shores or beaches in the cove just black slick rock and thick bushes. Regina walked behind the hill then hiked up the side up to the top of the waterfall. And exactly where Tinkerbell said it would be was a large crack in the rock large enough for her to see inside. Peering into the crack Regina could see a good portion of the cave. The water from the cove flowed into the cave filling it, there was no place to stand or walk where the mermaids couldn’t get you; however directly below, and in the center of the cave stood a small island. On top the small piece of land stood a pear tree that bore silver fruit.

All Regina needed to do now was wait for the signal.

Down below Emma and Tinkerbell walked over to the mouth of the cove and waited for dusk to hit the waterfall. The moment it did Emma let loose a flurry of fire across the cove burning the bushes along the west end. Dozens of mermaids rushed over and Tinkerbell began throwing rocks. Emma started moving slowly along the edge of the East side of the cove shooting fire balls and causing the mermaids havoc. They shrieked in a symphony causing rock slides along the cove and storms to roll in. Emma kept up the attack all the while counting loudly in her head.

Up above Regina heard the first fire ball hit and immediately turned to smoke slowly seeping inside the crack and into the cave.  Regina was very aware of the mermaids as she snuck down, the purple smoke slowly gathering at the base of the tree she didn’t materialize until she felt the mermaids in the cave leave or move toward the waterfall. Solid again Regina hid behind the tree then suddenly noticed the environment she was in.

The trunk of the pear tree glittered gold and orange, the fruit above glistened sparkling silver, each leaf glowing green. The ground under her feet was unlike any she had stepped foot on before, small grains of tightly packed yellow, oranges and browns. Staring too long made it seem as if it was moving on its own, a natural optical illusion. Regina blinked a dozen times forcing her eyes up and to the walls, iridescent blues and whites more hypnotic than the sand under her feet. Regina was sucked in and stumbled almost falling into the water, the small jolt woke Regina from her stupor.

Regina heard a loud commotion outside and was quick to tear a hole in the inner lining of her jacket then pick two fruit and slipping them inside her coat. Regina was about to poof out when she was suddenly hit by stinging light green slime in the shoulder and arm. Suddenly that arm went numb depleting some of her magic, looking up she spotted a dozen angry mermaids approaching slowly. In a panic Regina raised her other arm and started launching fire at the incoming mermaids.

Outside along the edge of the cove Emma was slowly making her way toward the waterfall. Tinkerbell stayed at the mouth of the cove trying to keep the mermaids distracted and occupied. However the longer it all went on the more the mermaids were catching on. Their symphony of shrieks continued and the weather grew worse. It reminded Emma of the one hurricane she had been caught in during her week long stint in Florida. Yet even through the pounding rain, black skies and violent winds she heard the loud explosion coming from inside the cave as well as the accompany crack of rock as the outside next to the waterfall began to crumble into the water. A moment later Emma watched in shock and awe as a mermaid came flying backward out of the waterfall landing almost in the middle of the cove.

Suddenly it hit Emma, Regina was in trouble! Without thought or hesitation Emma ran as fast as she could to the waterfall using her magic to knock mermaids back and away. On reflex she pulled her sword and used it to find her way through the waterfall. A small thin slick ledge the width of Emma’s boot was all she had to stand on as she pushed past the pounding wall of water. The moment she pushed through to the other side Emma spotted Regina fighting off a dozen mermaids and losing as they managed to grab her and pile on dragging her down toward the water. Emma was about to yell Regina’s name when slimly mermaid hands grabbed hold of her boots yanking her in.

Under the water Emma fought off three mermaids stabbing two of them and using her magic on another, she had no idea her magic could work underwater yet it gave her the moment she needed. Emma swam as hard as she could for the small island and Regina. Emma managed to reach the glistening shore a moment before several more mermaids launched themselves at Emma only to be suddenly repelled by Regina even though the brunette was struggling with six of her own. Emma had her perpetual shocked wide eyed holy crap expression on her face as she kicked off more mermaids then turned scrambling to her feet to rush over to Regina. Emma used magic to pull of some of the mermaids off Regina when one red headed mermaid hissed at Emma and leaned down biting Regina in the shoulder making the brunette scream.

“Get off of her!” Emma screamed at the mermaids.

Emotionally reacting to hearing Regina screaming in pain Emma unleashed her fury at the mermaids. With a super boost of magic Emma grabbed all the mermaids attacking Regina and flung them hard against the cavern walls knocking them all unconscious. Then Emma turned and set the water in the cavern on fire and used her magic to keep it burning. The fire forced the mermaids to remain under the water giving Emma the chance to get to Regina. Aware that Regina was hurt yet unsure how bad it was she gently rolled Regina over onto her back. Tears of pain were rolling down the brunettes face, dark blood soaked her coat and Emma could see torn flesh.

“Can you stand up?” Emma asked worry clear on her face, all Emma could think was: it wasn’t supposed to happen like this, no one was supposed to get hurt.

Regina nodded and grabbed onto Emma allowing the blonde to help her to her feet. Only this time Emma didn’t let Regina go, as soon as they were both standing Emma slipped an arm around Regina’s waist and held her tight. Looking the brunette in the eyes Emma told her. “Hold on to me. Don’t let go.”

Regina nodded looking stunned and in a lot of pain. They both looked around, there was no way out but up and more mermaids were closing in, a number of them were throwing themselves at the fire trying to get through to them.

“Can you poof us out of here?” Emma asked eyes wide and growing desperate.

“Not by myself.” Regina confessed through her pain.

Emma pulled Regina tighter, holding her as close as she could, bringing them so close they could feel each other’s heated breath. Emma looked the brunette in the eyes reminding her. “You’re not alone. We do this together.”

At that moment a large very pissed off mermaid broke through the flames flinging herself at Regina and Emma. Both women clutched each other tighter then raised their free hand aiming and unleashing their magic together blasting the mermaid with a blinding white supercharged wave of magic. The rest of the mermaids remained under the burning water. Emma wrapped both arms around Regina. “Take us out of here Regina.”

Regina nodded wrapping her other still numb arm around Emma taking strength from being held and poofed them out of the cave taking them back to the top of the waterfall. Materializing under black skies hard heavy rain and rolling thunder both women held on even tighter to each other forcing them to scream over the whipping wind to be heard. Emma screamed, “Did you get the antidote?”


“Then let’s get out of here! We need to go grab Tinkerbell first; she’s still by the mouth of the cove.”

Regina nodded and they poofed over to Tinkerbell who immediately gave them both an odd look neither woman caught. In a rush to get out of the storm Emma let go of Regina with one arm and waved at Tinkerbell calling her over.

“Come on! We need to get out of here.” Emma yelled over the rain and thunder.

Tinkerbell nodded running over, the moment she reached them and placed a hand on the blonde’s shoulder Regina poofed them away. It took Tinkerbell and Regina three tries to get close to the camp and by the time they did Regina was close to passing out from blood loss.

“Stay with me Regina! Stay with me!” Emma demanded as Regina’s eyes started to roll into the back of her head with her body going limp. Emma was forced to pick Regina up bridal style and carry her back to camp. Hook and Snow were both standing up when they came rushing in.

“What happened?” Snow demanded watching Emma rush to lay Regina down by the fire across from her parents.

“Regina got bit by a mermaid.” Emma told Snow trying to slow the still gushing shoulder wound.

“Did you get the antidote?” Snow pushed and Emma’s eyes got big.

“Regina! Regina! Wake up! Regina please wake up!”  Emma yelled at the brunette even going as far as to shake the woman awake and thankfully it worked.

“Emma? Emma?” Regina weakly answered.

“Regina where’s the antidote?” Emma asked getting in Regina’s face. Regina could barely open her eyes though she did manage to say, “It’s inside my coat.”

Emma checked carefully trying not to hurt Regina any more than necessary and found the fruit inside the lining of the jacket. Seeing silver sparkling fruit made Emma pause before handing it over to her mother.

“Tinkerbell, how does it work?” Snow asked.

“You have to put the fruit in his mouth.” Tinkerbell stated.

Snow immediately got to work biting off small pieces of the silver pear slipping the small pieces into Charming’s mouth. Hook watched for a moment then turned to watch Emma try to slow the bleeding down on Regina’s ugly wound with no improvement. Tinkerbell kept an eye on both of them.

“The Queen doesn’t look good at all.” Hook observed.

“Can the fruit help Regina too?” Emma asked and Tinkerbell quickly shook her head no.

“Mermaid bites are fatal.” Hook commented grimly and tears sprang into Emma’s eyes.

“Fuck that! I’m not losing Regina now! Nobody’s going to die!” Emma growled at them getting really angry. “Damn it Regina! Wake up I need your help! Damn it, wake up Regina! I need you tell me what to do!  How do I fix this? I don’t know how!”

Emma started sobbing getting angrier by the second her mind searching for some solution before it was too late. The thought about trying to kiss Regina back into health crossed her mind only this wasn’t a magic caused problem. Then Emma got an idea, she knew it was possible to heal physical wounds through magic, if only she could figure how to do it herself. Then Regina’s magic lessons floated through her mind, and Emma remembered if she wanted it enough, it could happen.

Placing both hands palm down over the bloody wound Emma shut her eyes and used all that she had inside to gather her magic and pour it into Regina. The level of extreme worry and panic flooding Emma’s veins had not been that intense since Henry had eaten the apple pastry. And through Emma’s intense will pure magic flowed from her and into Regina slowly stopping the bleeding then healing the wound. To accomplish this huge feat Emma had to keep her magic open and flowing for almost three whole minutes. With each beat of her heart she felt herself wearing down, her magic—her life force pouring into Regina pulling the brunette from the brink of death.

Emma felt herself get dizzy and black spots began to invade her vision forcing her to stop. The bright glowing white blue light instantly disappeared and Emma fainted. A moment later she felt a soft hand take her and gentle caresses to her face. Moaning and opening her eyes slowly she found Snow and Charming staring at her with Hook and Tinkerbell standing behind them. Snow was the once caressing her face trying to gently coax her back to consciousness. However one quick glance down Emma saw it was Regina holding her hand.

“Emma! Emma, are you okay?” Snow and Charming pushed.

“Yeah. I’m fine just lightheaded. Did the fruit work?” Emma pressed trying to sit up but Snow forced her to remain lying down.

“Yes it worked.” Charming told her looking back to health and normal again.

Relieved Emma laid back then turned her eyes to Regina. Emma didn’t even have to ask the question. Regina smiled with tears in her eyes as she nodded her head.

“It worked. You saved me…again.” Regina told Emma softly. Emma nodded very relieved then lay back passing out from exhaustion. Hook watched this frowning, he asked.  “Is she going to be okay mate?”

“Yes. She needs to rest that’s all.” Regina commented letting go of Emma’s hand to stand back and give the Charming’s space. Regina returned to her spot on the other side of the camp by the tree and lay back resting. Snow and Charming watched over Emma asking Tinkerbell a dozen questions about the mission and how it went. They were disappointed to find Tinkerbell didn’t know much. Eventually Charming, Hook and Tinkerbell began discussing how to find Pan. Snow watched not participating in the conversation then quietly stood up walking over to Regina. Not waiting for an invitation Snow sat down by Regina which totally surprised the brunette.

“What did I do now?” Regina huffed frowning; she was exhausted and needed a moment alone.

“I wanted to say thank you, for helping Emma and risking your life to save my husband. You didn’t have to. We have a long messed up history together, and I’ll admit it’s hard to see you as anything but the Evil Queen yet I can see you really are trying Regina. You’re not the person you used to be, I hope you can keep it up. For Henry and for yourself.”

Snow said what she needed then stood up returning to her spot by the fire next to Charming. Regina was stunned; the last thing she expected was Snow to be cordial to her. It left her wondering how long the pleasantries would last.

Now alone Regina took a better seat against the tree where the others couldn’t fully see her. Regina made a mirror appear then examined her newly healed wound. The wound had been larger than her entire hand span yet now…it was as if the bite never happened at all. Only her torn bloody clothing was left as proof. Frowning at the damage to her jacket Regina used her magic to return her clothes back to perfection. Leaning against the tree Regina thought long and hard what happened in the cove and the cave.

Despite getting hurt the one thing that was lingering on Regina’s mind was how Emma saved her—twice, how incredibly strong their magic was together and how—wonderful it felt to be hugged and held by Emma. Yes it was a life or death situation but as unconsciousness pulled at Regina she still felt warm and secure because Emma had her arms wrapped around her. Emma had made Regina feel safe. A feeling Regina never experienced before even with Daniel she worried for herself and for him yet with Emma, Regina believed together they could get through anything no matter the danger. It was a new feeling and a new revelation, one that she wasn’t going to share with anyone yet to acknowledge it to herself was a big step for her. Regina sat there silently dwelling on it until she was too tired and laid down to rest.

Emma woke up with a start a few hours later feeling a lot less groggy and much more level headed. The drain on her body from healing Regina with her magic was worse than she ever expected yet now after having rested a while she felt significantly better. Looking around she noticed everyone asleep, glad to have a moment alone Emma sighed getting up to check on her parents. Both Snow and Charming were asleep holding each other smiling lightly. Tinkerbell was curled up on the other side of the fire while Hook snored a short distance away clutching his rum flask. Emma walked over to the one person not nearby, Regina. The brunette was curled up on her thin blanket using her arm as a pillow.

Quietly as she could Emma kneeled down next to Regina and gently checked to see if there was still a wound and accidently woke Regina up. Only instead of bolting up right startled, Regina moaned lightly and halfheartedly smacked at Emma’s hand with her eyes still closed she mumbled. “Not now Emma. I’m tired.”

Emma thought it was the cutest thing she had ever seen.

“Regina, did it heal?” Emma asked softly leaning in a little closer.

Regina moaned lightly again then turned and opened her eyes blinking at Emma. A small smile spread across the brunette’s lips as she sat up on her elbow answering in a husky voice that made an electric tingle run up the blonde’s spine.

“Yes. You were amazing Emma.”

Emma chuckled finding Regina’s choice of words very amusing; Regina however was still half asleep.

“Why are you up? You should be resting. You need your rest, the magic…(yawn)…took too much out of you. Going to…(yawn)…find Henry tomorrow. Need both of us…at our best.” Regina tried to tell her while trying to fight falling back asleep.

“Go back to sleep Regina. I just wanted to make sure you’re okay.” Emma quietly whispered gently pushing Regina down pulling the thin blanket over her, the brunette only fought it for a moment then allowed herself to be tucked in.

Regina laughed softly to herself then commented eyes closed and falling back asleep. “Never thought…a Charming would be my friend…hahaha…Emma Swan is my friend…my only friend. Beautiful friend.”

“You think I’m beautiful?” Emma asked extremely curious.

Regina smiled in her sleep chuckling to herself. “Very beautiful.”

Emma was surprised; she sat there for along moment staring at Regina thinking about what the brunette said. Emma wanted to wake Regina up and ask her more questions, Emma was confused. Then dismissing it all because Regina had been more or less asleep when she said it, Emma returned to her own blanket. Emma sat by the fire thinking about how different Regina could be and how different Regina always was with her.  Emma marveled at what they did at the cove, how they handled themselves and how they worked together.  Emma could see that things between them were changing. Friends, the word kept repeating itself in Emma’s mind then she thought of Henry, he’d be so proud of the both of them.

The next morning everyone was in brighter spirits with everyone eager to get going. Charming was back to normal and Snow was beaming in happiness again, they were the first one’s awake so as soon as everyone else began to get up they took off for a morning quickie. Hook flirted with Tinkerbell while they went out looking for more coconuts and berries, leaving Emma and Regina alone for a moment. The brunette was the last one to wake and Emma was right there to greet her with a cup of hot tea. Regina eyed it with a little hesitation then her features softened and she took the cup.

“How much tea does Snow carry around with her?” Regina asked taking a careful sip.

Emma took a seat next to Regina on the brunette’s blanket holding her own cup of tea.

“A lot, enough to last a few week’s maybe longer.” Emma replied with an amused smirk.

They both looked at each other, noticed they were both trying not to laugh and burst out laughing.

“If Henry could see us now.” Regina commented still smiling. Emma noticed Regina was doing that more and more lately, she liked it.

“He’d be very proud of the both of us.” Emma added with a small smile of her own.

“Yes. We shouldn’t dally, with Charming back into fighting shape we need to focus on Operation Henry.” Regina commented brushing her hair out of her face and taking another dainty sip of tea.

“Operation Henry?” Emma asked pleasantly surprised.

“It’s what I’ve been calling all this in my head. It’s…”

“What he would have called it.” Emma finished for Regina.


Emma suddenly grew very serious, “We’re going to get him back Regina.”

“I hope so.” Regina replied with a soft humorless sigh.

“Stop it Regina. No doubting Operation Henry, not now. I believe in you and I believe in me too. I believe we can and will do this. Do you believe?”

Regina paused staring Emma in the eyes, the intense confidence was very reassuring.

“Yes I believe.”


“When do we leave?”

“As soon as everyone gets back. The faster we get on the move the faster we track Pan down.”

While they waited Emma and Regina went over the plan. The map could tell them where Pan’s camp was but Pan moved the camp at will and could change the island around them at whim. Both women realized if they moved around the island through magic as they had before with Tinkerbell leading them they’d find Henry in no time, however Snow, Charming and Hook were all very insistent they not use magic. They were still discussing it when Hook and Tinkerbell returned. The few edibles they could find were divided equally and as they ate what little they could find Emma started asking Tinkerbell about paths through the dark forest.

“Oh I see what you’re asking. Yes it’ll be a long walk but I can lead you to Pan’s camp.” Tinkerbell assured Emma.

Charming and Snow returned and Emma quickly caught them up.  They finished eating and broke camp quickly. With a new plan in place everyone was eager to get going. Traveling on foot took a long time, Emma was starting to wish they had used magic instead and one glanced at the brunette Emma could tell Regina felt the same way. However Snow and Charming were both overly positive and more than a little pushy in getting everyone to remain upbeat. Walking in file Charming and Snow took the lead with Regina and Tinkerbell in the middle with Hook and Emma bringing up the rear. The eternal flirt that Hook was used the opportunity to chat Emma up.

“So tell me Emma, is your boy much like his father?” Hook asked innocently.

“Um, actually I don’t know.” Emma answered honestly, then it hit her she really didn’t know Neal at all and she was only starting to really get to know Henry.

“How do you not know?” Hook asked surprised.

“Well, I met Neal when I was really young and we were only together a short time. I was in love but I barely knew him. When he took off I went to jail and found out I was pregnant with Henry. I gave Henry up for adoption which is how Regina became Henry’s mother. I didn’t see Henry again until he found me ten years later. I’m still getting to know him.”

“But Baelfire returned?”

“Sort of.” Emma replied with a shrug, the more she thought about Neal the more she reflected upon herself and she didn’t like what she saw.

“You love him though?”



“Yes and no.”

“What does that mean?”

“I was in love with him once a long, long time ago and I still care about him but love like you’re talking about…no I don’t.” Saying it out loud was weird for Emma, she may have told Neal she loved him as he was getting sucked into a portal yet now thinking clearly about it she realized she only said that because he was dying.

“Would you love again?” Hook asked giving her a small smirk.

“Yeah if it was the right time with the right person.”

“Ever consider a pirate?” Hook asked his smile growing.

Emma rolled her eyes at him and laughed. “Nope, never crossed my mind.”

They both laughed and Hook pulled out his flask offering it to Emma. She took a solid drink from it then passed it back. Hook’s mirthful expression disappeared as he asked. “I’m curious about something. Can I ask you about Henry?”

Emma shrugged and Hook went on. “You say the Queen was the one who adopted Henry. Is he good lad?”

It took a moment for Emma to catch on what Hook was really asking and was immediately pissed, her expression turned hard as Emma explained. “Look Regina may have been the Evil Queen in Fairy Tale Land but in Storybrooke she learned how to be Regina and that’s the woman who raised Henry. My kid is smart, kind, resourceful, stubborn and has the biggest heart I’ve ever known. That had nothing to do with me and everything to do with how great of a mother Regina has been to him. You can say what you want about the Evil Queen but don’t you dare imply that Regina is a bad mother.”

“Whoa now calm down. I was only asking a question. My only dealings with Regina have always been with the Evil Queen even in Storybrooke. I didn’t know there was a difference.”

Emma glared at him and stomped ahead leaving Hook behind.

Both Regina and Tinkerbell had overheard the conversation as Emma paid no mind to how loud she was speaking. Neither woman said a word about it and kept walking. Regina was privately blown away, no one ever defended her about anything—ever, all anyone ever saw in her was the Evil Queen someone to be feared or used. Emma’s kind heartfelt words brought tears to Regina’s eyes and warmed her heart. Aware that she could have been considerably better when Henry discovered his true origins and brought Emma back to Storybrooke, Regina acknowledge she had been weak and absolutely terrified. And in her weakness and fear she resorted back to the person she used to be, the only person she really knew how to be. The only person she knew could protect Henry. And she had been wrong, wrong about how to protect Henry, wrong about Emma, wrong about so much.

The momentary elation from Emma’s kindness was soon overwhelmed by Regina’s desire to see her son, hug him and apologize to him. Without her anger or emotions blinding her Regina could see how much she needed to make up for.  

When Emma stormed past them to walk next to her parents, Tinkerbell turned to Regina quietly asking, “Why don’t you go talk to her?”

“I wouldn’t be welcome up there.” Regina replied putting up her Queen mask, she didn’t want anyone to know how much she wished she could just walk up to Emma and be a caring friend.

“You would be, by Emma.” Tinkerbell commented and smiled when she noticed Regina mulling it over. In the end she decided against it and remained by the blonde fairy’s side.

Around mid-morning they stopped to take a break at Emma’s suggestion, she had noticed Regina slowing down and limping a little. She didn’t want to bring it up but she did make the brunette sit down for the duration of the break. Of course they both had to argue about it.

“Why can’t you do what’s good for  you? Why do you have to be so stubborn?” Emma asked glaring at Regina.

“Why do you have to be so pushy?” Regina shot back.

“Because you won’t listen!” Emma replied giving Regina that look she only ever gives Regina and the brunette finally gave in. “Alright fine.”

“We need to find some water and refill the canteens before they’re completely dry.” Snow pointed out and Emma volunteered to go. Emma grabbed the canteens and headed back the way they came knowing they passed water not that long before. And for a long moment she thought she finally got a couple minutes to herself then she heard heavy footsteps trying to catch up. For a very brief moment Emma thought it might be Regina coming to keep her company and talk, Emma kind hoped that was the case then was incredibly disappointed when Hook came running over. Emma gave him a dirty look and he grinned. “What? I can’t leave a damsel in distress? Or leave you to the dark forest alone.”

“I have a sword and I know how to use magic. I’m not helpless.” Emma pointed out rolling her eyes at the pirate.

“Okay you got me. I wanted a moment alone with you.”

“For what?” Emma asked looking at Hook as if he had lost his mind.

“To apologize. I didn’t mean to anger you back there. I was only curious.” Hook told her sincerely.

Surprised by Hook’s sincerity Emma nodded and accepted the apology. They walked on together toward the stream. When they reached it Hook helped Emma filled the few canteens they had.

“The only child I’ve ever gotten to know was Baelfire. I never saw myself as a parent, I still don’t but I regret not spending more time with Baelfire while I could. When he was younger he very much reminded me of Malia.” Hook confessed losing his smirk for a moment.

“You and Malia never thought of having of your own?” Emma asked, this was a different much more appealing side to the pirate.

“No. Leaving Baelfire behind always bothered Malia, and a pirate’s life is not meant for children.”

“I know what you mean. I never wanted kids and for a very long time I saw Henry as a mistake. Something I regretted, something I tried to forget. I wasn’t anyone’s mom, I could barely take care of myself then Henry popped up out of nowhere and everything changed. Suddenly I couldn’t imagine my life without him in it. I regret not being there for him all those years and I can’t change that. I won’t leave him again, this time I’m ready to be a part of his life.”

“That’s very noble of you Emma.”

They both stood up at the same time only a hand span apart, Hook started glancing down at Emma’s lips, Emma grabbed him by the collar of his coat holding him there closing her eyes. They leaned in kissing each other. Emma let the kiss go on for about two heartbeats then caught herself and pushed him away with both hands. Shocked and appalled by her momentary weakness, Emma frowned at him and slapped open hand across the face very hard.

“What the hell Hook!”

“I thought you wanted me to do that. You did want me to do that.” Hook replied with a slimy smile and a shrug. Suddenly Emma realized he had been playing her, all he wanted—like always—was to get in her pants.

“No Hook I didn’t want you to do that. And I shouldn’t have done that. Ugh…just don’t okay.” Emma said rolling her eyes at Hook and grabbing the canteens walking quickly back to the group.

“Emma, I’m sorry. I really did think you wanted me to kiss you and you did kiss me back. Come on don’t be mad over a little kiss.” Hook pushed following her.

“You know Hook for a half a second I thought you were being on the level, that we might be able to be friends. But no you have to ruin it by being a slimy asshole. Kissing you was a mistake. Did you really think you could kiss me and I’d melt into your arms and we could run away together off into the sunset? I’m only here on this horrible shitty island to find my son, not for anything else. And besides Hook, I’ve moved on from dating slimy assholes for sex, the next person I get involved with will be someone I can proudly introduce my son to. You may be really handsome and probably a great lay but you’re not a relationship kind of guy. I’m trying really hard not to make any more mistakes I really don’t need you tempting me with shit that will only make my life worse.”

Emma stomped back to the group obviously pissed. Everyone noticed yet only Snow pushed the issue. “Is something wrong Emma?”

“No. Let’s get going.” Emma curtly replied.

It was obvious to everyone that Emma was uncomfortable, that something had happened between the two. Snow pulled Emma to the front of the line to speak privately while Charming glared at Hook with disappointment. Regina sneered at Hook trying to repress the urge to turn him into a worm. Tinkerbell brought up the rear when they all heard a loud commotion the sounds of a large group of people running through the dark forest.

“Maybe it’s Pan with Henry?” Emma said then took off after the loud noise with everyone else running to keep up. They ran after the noise almost losing track where it was coming from, whoever it was they were running fast. They continued to run after the noise when it suddenly stopped, they kept going anyway when the entire group burst into a clearing. To find a beat up, bloody, out of breath Neal on his knees. They all caught glimpses of lost boys disappearing into the forest.

“Neal!” Emma said shocked.

“Oh shit.” Regina whispered turning and walking away, she didn’t want to watch their reunion yet there was nowhere to go. Snow and Charming were happy to see Neal as was Hook. Emma was in shock, she reached out hugging Neal. “I thought you were dead? How did you survive?”

From a short distance away Regina watched everyone welcome Neal back, everyone was so happy to see him. Not Regina. Regina hated that look Neal had in his eyes when he looked at Emma plus the last thing Regina needed was another person to fight with over Henry. And from everything Regina garnered from Rumpel, Snow, Hook and even Emma, Neal was just like his father, a coward that preferred running away instead of facing problems or difficult situations. Regina listened in on Neal’s explanation of how he survived the bullet wound and where he ended up. All Regina could think was that this Hood fellow seemed like a trusting fool to allow Baelfire to use his son as bait. As far as Regina was concerned Neal was not good enough to be in Henry’s life or in Emma’s.

Regina’s Queen Mask fell into place, having the dark one’s son nearby brought it out automatically. She was still deep in thought when Neal’s voice broke through.

“Wait! My father’s here too? Where is he?”

“He went off by himself days ago, before we even reached the island.” Snow informed him.

“Who was chasing you?” Charming asked.

“The lost boys. They’ve been chasing me around the island since I arrived yesterday. Every time I’d get close they hit me with something new. Not enough to really hurt me just slow me down to make the chase, their game fun.”

Neal started asking a bunch of questions and Regina grew impatient. Walking back over to everyone she reminded them. “We don’t have time for this. We stick to the plan.”

“But Regina, he’s hurt.” Emma pointed out.

“Fine.” Regina replied waving her hand in Neal’s general direction immediately healing all his superficial wounds. Turning back to Emma and trying hard to keep the sarcasm and sarcastic looks to a minimum Regina asked. “Can we go now?”

Surprised by Regina’s act of kindness Emma stared for a moment wide eyed. With a shrug she said, “I guess we can.”

“We stick to the plan?” Regina asked Emma and the blonde nodded yes.

Content Regina fell quiet again and within a few minutes they were moving again. Regina remained in the back of the group with Tinkerbell, the blonde fairy seemed to sense something going on with Regina and stayed by the brunette’s side. Emma walked at the front of the line with Neal talking quietly. A large part of Regina wanted to know what they were talking about while another bigger part didn’t want to know at all.

“Are you okay Regina?” Tinkerbell asked.

“I’m fine. Why do you ask?” Regina replied with her angry Queen expression.

“You look angry.”

“Oh.” Regina didn’t realize the mask wasn’t working and instantly forced her face to soften.

“It’s okay if you are. I understand.” The blonde fairy said cryptically.

“Understand about what?” Regina replied genuinely confused.

Tinkerbell smiled sweetly at Regina, “You’re worried about your son.”


It wasn’t what was pissing Regina off but she’d take the easy out.

Tinkerbell reached out giving Regina a one armed hug surprising the brunette completely. Up ahead Emma chose that moment to turn and look behind, catching the look on the blonde fairy’s face as well as the hug. Emma frowned and turned forward again, she was really bothered by that fairy.

“Emma? Emma? I asked you a question. Did you even hear what I said?” Neal pushed waving his hand in front of Emma’s face.

“Oh, sorry. What did you say?”

“I was asking if you’ve seen Greg or Tamara around.” Neal asked leaning in.

“We haven’t. The only people we’ve run into are Pan and the lost boys.” Emma replied.

“I wonder if they’re with Pan since this is where they brought him.” Neal commented.


“Hey, Emma can I ask you something?” Neal asked stepping in closer until they were almost bumping into each other.

Emma looked at him funny replying. “I thought we were already talking.”

“It’s what you said before I fell through…Did you mean it?” Neal asked looking at Emma from the side with a hopeful expression. Emma frowned and sighed heavily replying, “You’re really going to bring that up now? Really? Okay fine let’s talk about it. Yes I meant it but like not you think.”

“What do you mean?”

“I love you because you were a big part of my life a long time ago, a big part of how I got where I am. But we’ve both moved on, become different people. You don’t even know me anymore and I don’t really know you. Friends, is all I can offer.” Emma tried to be as clear as possible.

“Okay. I understand.” Neal replied nodding to himself, he was disappointed.

Emma ended the conversation by pulling out the map and slowing down a little so she could ask Tinkerbell. “How much further?”

“We’re getting really close. Not much further.” Tinkerbell replied gesturing down the path they were walking down.

“Okay, Regina with me. Everyone get ready.” Emma called out and everyone moved into position drawing their weapons.

“Can you feel that? He’s close.” Regina said in a low voice to Emma, the blonde was surprised but she could feel it.

They moved quietly and quickly, in the distance the sun began to set. Suddenly breaking the tense silence a man screamed. Neal looked up with worry. “Papa! That’s my father. Pan has my father.”

They rushed into a clearing around a very big tree, lost boys all around with Pan and Rumpelstiltskin in the center. Pan was torturing him with all the lost boys watching. Behind Pan by the tree surrounded by Felix and other lost boys stood Henry, he was dressed like one of the lost boys, covered in dirt wearing a dark cloak with a dead look in his eyes.

“Put it down Pan!” Emma ordered rushing in with Regina besides her and everyone behind them.

“Well, well, well looks like the whole families here. Took your sweet time did you? Come to see the show?” Pan greeted them pushing a knife into Rumpelstiltskin’s chest drawing a long deep line.

“Pan! Stop it! Let him go!” Neal demanded trying to rush him only Charming held him back.

“Tsk, tsk, tsk Baelfire. You know the rules, step any closer and I’ll gut your father.” Pan warned Neal and Neal backed down.

“I’m here for my son Pan. You stalled us long enough.” Emma called out and Regina stepped a little closer to the blonde raising her hands up getting ready.

“You left him, you abandoned him. He’s one of us now; Henry has chosen to be a lost boy.” Pan replied grinning. Behind Pan Henry watched everything without reaction it was almost as if he didn’t recognize any of them.

“You stole him, you held him hostage and we want our son back. Now.” Regina growled at Pan. Henry blinked and turned his head looking at Regina with curiosity. Emma saw that and called out to Henry.

“Henry! Henry! We’re here to rescue you and take you home!”

Henry didn’t react to Emma at all and Pan laughed. “You should have figured out by now on this island truth rules supreme. Continue to lie and you’ll never make it through this game.”

“Henry! It’s your mother do you hear me? It’s Emma!” Emma called out to Henry and he continued to stare blankly at her.

“Henry! It’s Neal, your dad! Henry?” Neal shouted out and Henry didn’t react.

Pan started to giggle smirking as he told them. “You all think family is all about blood. It’s not. Family means so much more than that and if any of you were honest with yourselves you’d see it too. If you all put so much importance on blood then we all must agree Charming is a fraud, born a poor Sheppard and masquerading as his brother the one actually raised a real prince. And Snow forever the Princess, never a Queen doomed to make poor choices again and again. And then there’s the dark one, born of a poor coward who abandoned his family. Well he certainly lived up to family traditions making cowardice his own. You pretend you took the mantle of dark one to protect your son yet, is it not true you only did so to feel powerful for once? And even with all your great power and foresight you’re still a coward. I knew it all those years ago when you were just a boy and we first met. Do you know that the dark one and I are almost the same in our power and deviousness yet there’s one really big difference. I don’t lie. I have no need of it. The truth is so much more powerful and devastating it’s the best weapon of all. I run to truth not away from it and that makes me more powerful than one else.”

“Enough of this Pan!” Neal shouted trying to shut him up; Pan’s words were having a strong negative affect on everyone.

“It’s never enough Baelfire. You lie to yourself as much as anyone here. I gave you your chance all those years ago and you spat in my face. Forever thinking the grass is greener on the other side. Let’s look at how you’ve live your life since leaving my island shall we? On the run your whole life, taking advantage of everyone you come into contact with including Emma, running away when things became difficult than staying away even though you know what was going on. No matter how you try to spin it we all know Baelfire that if you had not literally ran into Emma that day you would have kept running and never looked back. And the best part I enjoy the most, is Baelfire thinking he has any right to be a father to boy he never wanted or important to the woman he abandoned. Really, how long has it been since Tamara dumped you? And already asking Emma out on a date? Not to mention in the middle of a crisis. Wow Baelfire, that’s fast no matter what world you’re from.”

Most gave Neal a dirty look, especially Regina while Hook looked away with a guilty expression.

“How do you know all this?” Emma asked shocked.

“When you’ve lived as long as I have, when you have nothing but time you find out all sorts of things. I see and hear everything past, present and future. I’ve been waiting a long time for this all to come to pass.”

“Why? What do you want with Henry?” Snow butted in making Pan grin big again.

“He’s the truest believer. I need Henry to restore what I can’t. And now Henry is a lost boy, he’s a part of my family now. And there’s no going back. Allowing all of you on the island, letting you come to camp was only so I can show Henry the importance of moving on and fully embracing his new family, his real family.”

 Emma began to panic, she reached out to Regina grabbing her by the arm quietly begging, “Regina, please…do something.”

Regina glanced at Emma with a loaded look, she turned hard eyes on Pan then soften a little as she called out directly to Henry. “Henry. Henry it’s your mother, Regina. We’ve come to take you home. We’ve been looking for you for days. We would have been here sooner if Pan hadn’t played his games or if your grandfather had not gotten poisoned. We’ve been on the island the whole time Henry, searching for you. We were never going to give up. We love you and we need you to come home with us.”

Regina kept her voice low and normal, Henry began to blink more and more and slowly shake his head. He was finally coming around.

“We’ve missed you so much. You’d be so proud Henry, Emma and I have finally stopped fighting. We’ve been working together, like a team, to find you.”

Pan’s eyes got big and he looked pissed, Henry shook his head again then looked up over at them asking. “Mom? Mom?”

“Yes Henry! We’ve come to take you home.” Regina called out tears of happiness spilling down her cheeks; it was a huge relief to see the light return to Henry’s eyes.

Henry tried to break ranks but Felix grabbed him holding him back, Henry struggled, hitting Felix in the stomach with his elbow making the older boy let him go. As soon as he was free Henry rushed over to Regina reaching out hugging her tight. The lost boys sprang into action taking up arms and aiming arrows at everyone forcing them to remain still.

Pan was practically foaming at the mouth he was so angry. Hook hung in the back with Tinkerbell both looked very afraid, Charming and Snow stood next to Neal they were all shocked yet not as much as Emma. Pan had forced Emma to speak the truth with the map and now Henry was enchanted to only react to his real parents and it was hard to face that like Neal, Emma was not Henry’s parent, she wasn’t his mother. In truth Regina was Henry’s mother. Family was more than biology; it was free will, devotion and honest love.

“Are you okay? I’ve been so worried.” Regina asked hugging Henry tight not caring any longer about what was going on around her.

“I’m okay. I thought you forgot about me, that you weren’t coming to get me.” Henry confessed tears in his eyes.

“I could never forget about you. Never. I’d do whatever it took to find you no matter how long it took or how hard I had to fight or how far I had to travel. I love you Henry. I’ll always be there for you no matter what.” Regina told him happy tears falling down her cheeks.

“Did you and Emma really make up?”

Regina pulled back and nodded giving her son a huge smile matching the one Henry gave Regina. Hugging his mother Henry turned to Emma smiling happily at her and Emma smiled in reflex. Henry opened one arm gesturing to Emma to come over and join the family hug and Emma’s smile grew as she stepped forward until Pan spoke sneering at them. “Now this is a family reunion I can get behind, not you Emma. You haven’t earned your place yet. But we’re not done yet. Are we Henry?”

“Emma has earned her place in this family! And you are finished with our son!” Regina sneered right back at the demonic boy. Everyone with Emma was once again stunned silent while Emma smiled confidently and took a deep breath steeling her courage she stepped forward and stood next to Henry and Regina with her sword out pointed at Pan.

“We’re taking our son and leaving. No games Pan.” Emma firmly told Pan.

Pan laughed cutting another line into Rumpel’s chest making the dark one grimace and whimper in pain.

“Papa, get up! Fight back!  What are you doing? You’re powerful, get up and fight back!” Neal begged holding out the only weapon he had, a small dagger he pilfered off a lost boy.

Rumpelstiltskin had tears in his eyes as he look away unable to meet anyone’s gaze especially his son’s. Pan enjoyed the devastation on Neal’s face. “I thought you were smarter than this Baelfire, the years have not been kind to you. I have the dark one’s dagger, how did you think I was keeping him captive and subdued? I mean come on Baelfire, I’ve been torturing him for hours to lure you all in. How could I possibly do that without the dagger?” Pan taunted Neal who looked like he wanted to curl into a ball and cry.

Pan pushed Rumpelstiltskin down using his foot to make the man lay flat then pulled out a second dagger from his belt and struck plunging both blades simultaneously into Rumpelstiltskin’s back pinning him to the ground. Rumpel screamed and twitched making the wounds gush blood soaking his clothing and the ground beneath him. Everyone cringed at it, Neal tried to rush Pan but Hook held him back. Pan stood up stepping off of Rumpelstiltskin toward Henry giving the boy a very dark look.

“Henry you know what the consequences are for breaking your word to me. Don’t you?”

Henry didn’t answer he nodded his head and clutched Regina tighter. Pan smirked pushing Henry more. “Tell them the truth Henry. Tell them what you decided.”

Henry looked like he was going to be sick, he was pale and little green with heavy tears in his eyes.  He turned to Regina and Emma telling them both. “I’m so sorry mom. I thought you guys forgot about me…Pan saved my life. I thought I had to make a new home with a new family. Pan said you weren’t coming for me and I believed him.”

“Henry what did you do?” Regina asked very concerned.

“I joined the lost boys. I gave my oath to Pan.”

“Oh god.” Regina whispered a look of devastation on her face.

A look everyone but Emma mirrored. Confused by why that distinction was so important Emma asked. “What? What does that mean?”

“It means Emma, he’s bound to Pan.” Hook offered letting Neal go, both men were pale and looked ill.


“It means Pan controls him.” Hook stated unable to look Emma in the eyes.

“So?” Emma pushed still not getting it.

“Emma! Anyone bound to Pan is his slave for life and in death. It’s why hardly anyone leaves the island. You only get to leave if you’re allowed.” Neal explained in an embarrassed rush.

“Wait? That means…oh no.” Snow commented looking sad. “Neal? A lost boy? Hook…you too?”

When both Neal and Hook looked away with shame and Tinkerbell backed up out of the clearing those who had been with them finally understood.

“Holy shit.” Emma whispered finally getting it.

The betrayal Emma felt was overwhelming, she expected something like that from Rumpelstiltskin or Regina but not from Neal, Tinkerbell or even Hook. Emma felt like a huge fool.

“This was all a trick to get us here!” Regina exclaimed shocked then accused, “To steal our son!”

Regina was getting angry, one quick glance at Emma confirmed the blonde blond felt the same as they both had the exact same pissed off expression. Emma glared angrily at Pan asking. “If all you wanted was Henry, why bring us here at all?”

“It’s necessary that Henry let go of his past so he can fully embrace his future.” Pan explained looking at Emma as if she was stupid.

“His future doing what?” Regina sneered.

“His future as the heart of magic. Magic is dying and it’s need to be revived, replenished, renewed. A job I once did alone. Yet no longer. Now I need help and Henry is the only one.”

“You’re going to steal my son’s heart!” Regina accused eyes wide, she was enraged.

Pan laughed nodding his head. Henry leaned over puking on the ground next to his feet. Charming tried to take a literal stab at Pan with his sword only to have a lost boy kick his word from his hand and punch Charming in the face.

“Ah, ah, ah David. You don’t get to play this round. This is Henry’s game.” Pan warned.

“I’m not such a bad guy. I’ll even be a sport and give Henry a chance to get out of his deal with me. Would that make everyone happy?” Pan taunted them and enjoyed the mutual looks of confusion on everyone’s face.

“You lied to me…about all of it! How can you stand there and tell us you only speak the truth when everything out of your mouth to me is a lie!” Henry accused getting angry, the expression on his face matched both his mothers.

“I didn’t lie about anything Henry. It was the truth and nothing but the truth. Your family did abandon you many times over your life, your family wasn’t looking for you they were fighting mermaids to steal fruit from a special tree, and they did forget about you while they dealt with all their unimportant interpersonal drama. I never lie Henry. You are the key to saving magic and I do care about you more than your mothers do.”

“A life for a life. That’s what you said.” Henry stated glaring at Pan letting his anger show.

“That is what I said. Do you wish to pay your debt to me now?” Pan asked smirking again.

“I do.” Henry stated with a nod of his head startling both Regina and Emma.

“Then let’s get started. Who’s going to take your place Henry?” Pan asked his smile growing.

“Henry, what’s going on? What did you promise him?” Regina asked looking her son in his eyes.

“He save my life mom, and I gave my word I would pay him back for it. He warned me this wouldn’t be taken lightly that if I changed my mind I would have to pay him back.” Henry tried to explain.

“How Henry?” Emma asked.

“By taking the life of someone else.” Henry stated grimly.

Pan cackled enjoying himself immensely asking with a toothy smile. “So! Which one shall it be Henry? Not your absent cowardly sperm donor, that would be too easy. Nor can it be the flip flopping pirate, it’d be too kind to finally put him out of his misery. And it can’t be your grandparents, they inflict too much suffering on the world.”

Both Snow and Charming gave Pan confused hurt looks that made Pan giggle.

“No Henry for this debt you’ll have to choose someone you really care about. How about your real mother? She’s done enough evil in all the realms you’d be the only person mourning her. Even you’ve said yourself Henry that the darkness inside the Evil Queen is too much for anyone to handle. You’d be doing a service to all the realms striking a blow against evil in the name of good.”

“You are not good!” Henry yelled at Pan, tears welling up in his eyes.

Regina reached out clutching Henry to her and he broke down crying in her arms. Pan watched this amused then warned them when he noticed a glint in Regina’s eyes. “If you fight me on this my lost boys will cut you all down with poisoned tipped arrows. And you may still have enough fruit to counteract the poison but I don’t think any of you have enough magic to bring back the dead. Try me Evil Queen and let’s see who comes out on top.”

“Well, if you insist.” Regina commented glaring angrily at Pan.

“No! Mom no! Don’t give him a reason. I’ll stay Pan.” Henry replied completely crestfallen.

“No!” Both Regina and Emma screamed at the same time.

“I don’t have a choice.” Henry whimpered tears spilling down his cheeks.

“Yes you do.” Regina stated taking a deep breath and steeling her courage. Emma recognized the expression on the brunette’s face it was the same in the mines. Regina was giving up. Emma blinked internally panicking.

“I volunteer.” Regina stated bravely looking Pan in the eyes, and then she turned to Emma asking. “When it’s done, take Henry back to Storybrooke. Keep him safe, will you Emma? Raise him right?”

“Raise him right? I can’t do that without you! Please Regina, don’t do this!” Emma begged tears pooling in her eyes.

“If this will save Henry then so be it.” Regina replied then turned Henry around to give him a proper goodbye hug.

“Mom, please don’t do this! Please! Mom, don’t do this.” Henry begged openly crying.

“For your freedom…anything.” Regina replied her voice going lower, a more menacing tone to it.

Feeling threatened the dark part of Regina emerged and Evil Queen made herself known.

“Enough with this nonsense. Let’s get this over with.” Regina sneered tilting her head back in her “I’m bored with this” regal manner.

Snow, Charming and Emma watched shocked and stunned silent by what they were witnessing. To see the Evil Queen willingly go to her death as a noble act was something they never thought they’d live to see. It brought tears to Snow’s eyes. Tinkerbell stood in the far back halfway hidden by the forest crying silently. Hook and Neal stood back watching with guilt as they were both glad it was not them on the chopping block.

Regina left Henry’s side spreading her arms out to Pan. “Where do you want me?”

“Over there against the tree. Henry you’re with me.” Pan said gesturing Henry to stand by him, reluctantly Henry did.

“Felix crossbow.” Pan ordered and Felix handed Henry the crossbow giving Henry a small slimy smirk that made fresh tears spill down Henry’s face. Henry took the crossbow with shaky hands, tears continued to stream down his face. Pan wrapped an arm around Henry gently guiding him to a spot across from Regina.

“We’ve played this game before Henry. Only this time if you don’t shoot the right target I’ll kill everyone but you. Oh and no magic it’s against the rules. Understand?”

Henry nodded yes still crying.

“Good.” Pan smiled pleased.

Charming tried to go after the closest lost boy trying to stall the inevitable and was promptly shot in the thigh with a poisoned tipped arrow for this trouble.

“Anyone else wants to try?” Felix answered chuckling to himself.

Snow fell to her knees at Charming’s side holding him, she looked frightened. Emma remained still unsure of what to do next. Pan put Henry in the right spot then announced. “All you have to do Henry to clear you debt it shoot the crossbow at the Evil Queen. Simple.” Pan explained and Henry cried harder.

Nothing else need be said as they all waited to see what Henry was going to do. Regina stood leaning up against the tree her eyes blazing white hot hatred at Pan then when her focus turned to Henry they automatically softened.

“It’s okay Henry. Do it.” Regina announced putting her chin up one last time.

Henry sobbed harder and raised the crossbow but his hands were shaking from his crying so Pan helped making sure it was aimed right. With nothing left Henry shut his eyes as he pulled the trigger. Pan was so focused on watching Regina, eager to see the arrow plunge into her chest he didn’t see Emma break out into a sprint a moment before Henry pulled the trigger. The blonde ran to Regina taking the arrow in the back. The force of the blow pushed Emma into Regina’s arms surprising them both.

“Emma?” Regina whispered stunned staring into the blonde’s eyes as she held Emma close. Regina was the only thing holding the blonde woman up.

“Regina.” Emma whispered back tears welling up.

The arrow did severe damage hitting Emma right next to the spine paralyzing her. Looking up into Regina eyes, tears spilled down Emma’s face, she was in so much pain. “Regina—save our son.”

Regina nodded gently setting Emma on the ground, standing up the darkness inside Regina took over and everyone including Henry got to see the Evil Queen in action. Quicker than even Pan thought possible, purple smoke flowed out from Regina as she disappeared from where she had been standing and reappeared next to Pan. Without hesitation Regina used her magic to grab Pan by the throat and raise him up slowly and gleefully choking the life out of Pan. The lost boys stared wide eyed and frightened; no one had ever done that to Pan before. Pan struggled to get loose to no avail Regina held him tight.

Henry had opened his eyes when he hear the bolt hit and was shocked to see he had hit Emma instead but when Regina went into revenge mode he ran over to Emma trying to help her.

“Mom! She can’t get up. Emma can’t get up. Mom!” Henry screamed to Regina.

The Evil Queen turned her head and used her free hand to remove the arrow from Emma’s back, and then heal the ugly wound restoring the feeling to Emma’s legs. Then Regina used her magic to remove the daggers from Rumpel’s shoulders healing him immediately and he stood up looking as angry as the Evil Queen.

“Ah, that’s better. Thank you Regina.” Rumpelstiltskin commented stretching his muscles. Rumpelstiltskin smirked menacingly at the lost boys and used his magic to disarm them then subdue them painfully with vines from the nearby trees. Rumpel then approached Pan and searched him finding his dagger.

“Did you really keep it on you? Pan, you know better or are you that arrogant?” Rumpel asked him.

“Oh he’s that arrogant.” Emma commented walking over to stand next to Regina. Emma glared at Pan and reached down taking Regina’s free hand holding it tight. A surge of magical energy washed over Regina, making her fingertips crackle with white energy. Emma turned to Regina looking the brunette in the eyes telling her firmly. “Let’s see how Pan likes it when the tables are turned. Regina, take his fucking heart.”

The Evil Queen smiled wickedly with dark intent as she replied, “With pleasure.”

Regina held onto Emma’s hand releasing Pan letting him fall to his feet before violently plunging her other hand into Pan’s chest and ripping out his heart. The absolute shock on Pan’s face made Regina giggle and Emma smirk.

“Didn’t see this one coming, did you?” Emma taunted Pan.

“How?” Pan asked in anguish.

“This.” Emma replied holding up her and Regina’s clasped hands and giving the demonic boy a fuck you look, a look that Regina mirrored. Regina pulled out of Pan’s chest a small hard black object that looked nothing like a heart, more like a small burnt acorn. Opening her hand Regina showed it to Emma and both women frowned confused.

“Not even my heart is this small or black.” Regina commented then looked up at Pan with curiosity. The demonic boy was still trying to put up a brave front then Emma asked him. “Your heart…is…oh…how long have you been dead?”

Panic rose behind Pan’s eyes as he tried to run only to have Regina give a quick hard pump to what was left of his heart forcing him to remain put.

“That’s why he needed me.” Henry commented coming up besides Regina wrapping one arm around his mom’s waist for comfort.

“What was that Henry?” Regina asked turning to look at her son.

“Magic is fading because no one believes in it anymore. Pan’s not the source that’s why he needs the lost boys, why he’s always needed lost boys because they believed and like he said, Neverland is all about belief. But it’s not enough anymore; the lost boys aren’t enough to keep Pan powerful. That’s why he needed me.”

“Well he can’t have you.” The Evil Queen stated squeezing Pan’s black heart making him and all the other lost boys cry out in pain. Emma turned and noticed both Neal and Hook on their knees in as much pain as the lost boys.

“Shall I end him?” Regina asked Emma and Henry and both realized how serious Regina was.

“No! Don’t kill him. He doesn’t deserve such a merciful end.” Emma stated firmly giving Regina a reassuring squeeze of the hand.

“Then whatever shall we do with him?” Regina asked, her smile promising so many things and none of them good.

“Turn him into something harmless.” Henry suggested.

“I like that. Good suggestion Henry.” Regina replied smirking.

Regina shoved her hand back into Pan’s chest putting his black heart back then used her magic to hold Pan still. Turing to Emma, Regina lost the Evil Queen smile and instead smiled as Regina. Emma could tell the difference. “Emma would you like to do the honor? You did get the arrow in the back.”

“I would love to Regina, thank you.” Emma replied turning her focus back to Pan.

Everyone watched as Emma used her magic to transform Pan into a small white fluffy bunny with a pink nose and big black eyes. Henry laughed and Pan’s shadow came bursting through the bushes red eyes ablaze in fury screaming like a banshee.

Snow leaned over Charming covering him, Neal and Hook were still in pain on the ground as were the lost boys. Tinkerbell was sobbing just behind the bushes still watching. Rumpel went into a defensive posture ready to take Shadow on but was beat to it when Regina and Emma acted as one. They raised their hands together and blasted Shadow with a full force direct hit of magic. And though he tried to fight it, Shadow faded and died in the intense white light of the two’s combined magic.

“When did you guys learn to do that?” Snow asked wide eyed, mouth open in full shock.

“Yeah, that was cool!” Henry shouted with a bright smile.

In the turmoil of the moment no one noticed Tinkerbell sneaking in small, grabbing Pan by the fur and flying off with him.

Regina and Emma smiled at each other pleased yet remained holding hands. Regina hugged Henry with her free arm then turned to Rumpelstiltskin. “What do you want to do with the lost boys?”

“Oh are you giving me a choice? How lovely.” Rumpel replied a smile growing on his face.

“Wait now! Let’s talk about this first.” Snow pointed out looking really worried, it was never good when Rumpel look that happy.

Emma raised her free hand toward Charming and concentrated, it took a few moments but she managed to heal her father of his wound. Snow pulled out what was left of the fruit letting Charming eat some.

“We let the lost boys go. Our fight was with Pan and we won. They can have the island, we’re leaving as soon as we can.” Emma stated firmly looking everyone in the face to make sure she was heard.

Regina reached in to the lining of her coat and pulled out the second fruit handing it to Emma.

“What’s this?”  Emma asked surprised by the presence of a second sparkling silver pear.

“I grabbed two. I thought we might need extra. You need to eat some, that arrow was most likely poisoned.” Regina pointed out with a small happy smile. She put away the Evil Queen and let just Regina shine through. Emma ate some of the fruit then let go of Regina’s hand to give Henry a full hug.

While Regina and Emma had a moment alone with Henry, Snow and Charming talked to the lost boys with Rumpel to find out the fastest way off the island. Hook and Neal stayed on the ground recouping from the intense pain, once Shadow had been vanquished the bulk of the pain disappeared now it only felt as if they had been run over twice and been up for days on end without sleep.

“That was amazing! How did you guys do that?” Henry asked with one hand on each of his moms.

“We worked together.” Emma told Henry proudly, she was all smiles for both Henry and Regina.

“So you knew you could do that?” Henry asked still amazed.

“Yes. Your grandfather was poisoned and your mother and I had to go on a mission to get that special fruit that would counteract the poison.” Regina explained, her smile as large as Emma’s.

“Wow, was the mission hard?”

“Yes, your mom had to teach me how to use magic.” Emma began and Regina interrupted adding. “We got in a mud fight, it was fun.”

“You taught Emma how to use magic? And a mud fight? Really? I can’t believe I missed that.” Henry was shocked, elated and disappointed. Emma nodded and continued, “When your mom said I was ready, your mom poofed us all over the island looking for the mermaid cove.”

“The mermaid cove!” Henry’s eyes grew large in awe.

“We had to fight mermaids to get to the fruit. Your mom got bit by one of them.” Emma explained and this time Henry looked worried. “Are you okay?”

Regina smiled and nodded yes. “Emma healed me after we got the fruit back to heal Charming.”

“Wow, I missed so much.” Henry commented and Regina reached out hugging him again. “We’ll have time to get caught up. We’re in no rush now, we have you back.”

“And you still need to tell us all about your time with Pan. Did you have any fun?” Emma asked curious and trying to keep things light. They would discuss the difficult stuff later.

“Actually after a while I did.” Henry replied then added. “Some of it was fun, some of it was really scary.”

With a huge smile Snow walked over interrupting them. “Hey guys, are you ready to go home?”

“You found us a way?” Emma asked excited.

“Yes, we have a way!” Snow said with great enthusiasm.

Rumpelstiltskin got Felix to talk he was the only one other than Pan who knew where Pan kept his stash of magic beans. They let the rest of the lost boys go then with Rumpel keeping a very short leash on Felix they all traveled together  to retrieve the magic beans. Charming was keeping pace with Rumpel and Felix, Snow a step behind them. Regina and Emma flanked Henry behind Snow with Hook and Neal bringing up the rear. Neither Neal nor Hook talked much, both grimacing as they walked.

They reached their destination a little before dawn. Pan had hidden the magic beans in an old tree. Henry volunteered to climb up and fetch the beans. Emma and Regina both agreed to let him without argument or hesitation and watched him from the base of the tree just in case. Henry was a pro getting high up really fast and found a pouch hidden in a branch; he was back down on the ground as quickly as he climbed up.

“Wow, you got good at that.” Emma commented impressed and Regina added wanting to say it out loud. “That was impressive Henry.”

Henry shrugged while smiling proudly then handed the magic beans over to Regina and she handed them over to Emma.

Rumpelstiltskin let Felix go after wiping his memory then they headed to the Jolly Rodger. By dawn everyone was on board and they were sailing away from Neverland. Rumpelstiltskin and Neal talked inside the boat while Hook was at the wheel with Charming and Snow.

Emma, Regina and Henry talked alone at the bow.

“Mom, what’s going to happen when we get home?” Henry asked Regina but it might as well as been to the both of them.

“What do you want to happen?” Regina asked leaving the choice up to Henry.

“I want to come home but I want to still be close to Emma.” Henry replied.

“We will be no matter what Henry.” Emma assured him.

“Well I would love for you to come home Henry. And Emma I know this going to sound sudden and very odd but in light of everything…that’s happened…I think this…maybe a good idea?” Regina said with such great difficulty that she had Henry and Emma staring at her oddly.

Regina took a deep breath shutting her eyes momentarily then she opened her eyes and looked at Henry and Emma. Still a little nervous Regina tried again. “Snow’s place is tiny and not very private. I thought I’d offer my home to you. As you know I have a large house with extra rooms. And since Henry’s moving back you’d get to see him all the time. Nothing would be interrupted…We’d all be happy. What do you think?”

Henry’s whole face lit up he was super excited by the idea and immediately leaned over to give Regina a huge hug.  “Are you sure mom? That would be the most amazing thing ever. All of us in the same house! What do you think Emma?”

The blonde was shocked, mouth open eyes wide stunned silent. Blinking a few times realizing the same thought was going round and round her head she smiled and nodded yes. “Okay. That actually sounds really good. You do have a lot of room, it wouldn’t be like I was in the way.  I’d get to see Henry every day. And I wouldn’t have to find some place new to stay and my parents could be alone as much as they wanted. Win—win.”

“Then it’s settled.” Regina replied smiling warmly at Emma.

This was new territory for both women yet with Henry back safe and sound and them heading home they felt good about moving forward in a new direction.

“Are we ready to make the jump mates?” Hook called from the wheel.

Everyone shouted back that they were. Neal and Rumpelstiltskin came topside while Emma pulled out a magic bean. Emma and Regina held hands with Emma throwing the magic bean making the portal open instantly, and this time it was easy for the two of them to direct the boat home to Storybrooke.

The Jolly Rodger sailed into Storybrooke harbor a little before midnight, the town was quiet.  Seeing Storybrooke approach Emma leaned in whispering to Regina. “I need to stop by my parents place first to grab clothes.

“I could loan you something for tonight and you could go over grab your stuff and Henry’s stuff tomorrow.” Regina suggested with a hopeful expression.

“Oh, okay.” Emma replied liking the idea, one less thing to do before getting in a hot shower.

By the time the boat pulled up to the dock Belle, Grumpy, Red and Archie were there to greet them. Rumpelstiltskin greeted Belle enthusiastically kissing her passionately the second he was off the boat. Snow was eager to hug Red then Grumpy and Archie, Charming was right behind her. Neal followed his father quietly while Hook went below choosing to remain on the ship. Henry led Emma and Regina off the boat, everyone was glad to see Henry and Emma while still keeping a good distance from Regina.

“We’ll throw the welcome home party for you after you guys have rested.” Grumpy told them.

“So is there anything we need to know right away? Any huge problems we should know about?” Snow asked right away getting Charming to chuckle; he was thinking the same thing.

“No! Belle put the barrier back up around the town so we’ve been mostly safe, the few problems we’ve had we’ll talk about tomorrow at Grannies.” Red said giving Snow one more long hug.

“You all should go home, clean up and rest. We’ll go over everything else tomorrow. We’re just all really happy to see you. Word of your return will spread quickly.” Archie told the Charming’s.

Rumpelstiltskin, Belle and Neal were already walking off heading to Rumpel’s house. Red, Grumpy and Archie offered to walk the Charming’s home. Charming turned to Snow asking her, “Are you ready to go home?”

“Yes, very ready. Emma? Henry are you two ready to head home?” Snow asked.

“Uh, actually we’re both going to head home with Regina instead.” Emma boldly told her parents walking over to them while Henry stayed by Regina’s side both quietly waiting to see how they would react.

“What? You’re going to go home with Regina? Why?” Snow asked confused, Charming had the same expression on his face.

“Your place is too small for all of us and Henry wanted to go home. Regina offered her extra room, she has the space. And now I’ll get to see him all the time like I wanted. And you and…dad…need your own space. I really don’t want to walk in on the two of you ever again. You know?”

Snow relaxed a little and Charming nodded in sympathy, still Snow pushed. “I’ll be honest I don’t know if I’m okay with this. I won’t argue with you about it right now, one night won’t hurt but I have severe doubts about you moving into that house full time. Meet us at Grannies tomorrow, okay?”

“Yes, I’ll be there.” Emma replied nodding and giving her parents a grateful smile.

Everyone watched as Emma, Henry and Regina walked off together. Those who had remained behind were very, very confused. Snow frowned and Charming looked worried yet they didn’t say a word about it.

“Snow? Why is Emma leaving with Regina?” Red asked unable to keep quiet, it was just too strange to see.

“She wants to be close to Henry, we just got him back. The rest we’ll talk about tomorrow.” Snow replied wrapping her arm around her husband. “Let’s go home.”

Emma, Henry and Regina walked in silence for the most part. It was strange to be home again, everything was so quiet and modern. They were all coming off the adventure high and fully relaxing for the first time in weeks. For Henry this was his first time going back and forth like that while it was Emma’s second and Regina’s…too many times to count. Regina was very happy to be back in Storybrooke, she didn’t want to go back to that other life or those other worlds. Going back would be like going back to being the Evil Queen full time again and she didn’t want to do that she was happy as Regina Mills. Happy being a regular person.

They reached the house with Regina leading the way in. Henry went directly to his room to shower and change. Regina shut and locked the door behind Emma then turned on some lights leading Emma upstairs showing her the guest rooms, Henry’s room and her own room. Emma had a choice of three different rooms and she chose the one closest to Henry’s and Regina’s. Regina dug out a set of comfortable clothes for Emma to wear and showed her the bedroom’s private bathroom.

“You own comfortable clothes? Are you sure you didn’t just use your magic to whip this up? I’ve never seen you wear anything remotely close to this.” Emma commented taking the stack of clothes with a raised eyebrow.

“I’ll have you know Emma, that I do occasionally wear comfortable clothes. I however do not wear them outside of the home. I make a point to always look my best outside of the house.”

“And in the jungle, I come out filthy and you look ready for a model shoot.” Emma joked and they both laughed.

While Emma and Henry both took a long hot shower, Regina went to the kitchen to see what she could whip together to feed the three of them. She did a quick check to see what she had in the freezer and pantry and was glad to find a few things she could put together. Putting some chicken strips and fries on one sheet Regina put that on the top rack in the oven, then on the bottom rack she slipped in a frozen chicken cheese noodle casserole for herself and Emma.  Setting the kitchen timer Regina went upstairs taking a fast hot shower.

Emma and Henry both came out of their rooms at the same time. Henry laughed when he saw Emma wearing his mom’s clothes.

“So kid, I gotta ask you. Are these really Regina’s clothes?”

“Yup, she only wears them when it’s really cold or she’s not feeling well. She says they’re her favorite.” Henry commented grinning.

“Her favorite? Really? Interesting.” Emma replied taking stronger note of how comfortable the fabric was; warm, very soft and a very beautiful pale gold color with white and black trim along the cuffs and collar.

They headed downstairs with Henry asking, “Can we watch a movie?”

“Sure, I don’t see why not. Sounds nice. What do you want to watch?”

“Something funny.” Henry stated taking off for the small TV room next to Regina’s library. Emma followed surprised to find a comfortable, cozy room with a large TV in the corner with a big overstuffed couch facing it. Hidden in the far wall was a library of movies both VHS and DVD’s. Emma watched Henry go through the library when her stomach growled.

“I’m going to see if your mom has anything in the fridge.” Emma informed him then left trying to remember where the kitchen was and found it easily. Walking into the immaculately pristine kitchen Emma was greeted with the most wonderful scent in the world.

“What is that?” Emma asked out loud.

The ding of a bell went off startling Emma making her jump, in rushed Regina in nothing but wet hair and a black silk robe to turn the oven down and take out Henry’s food. Emma had never seen Regina like this before, the wet hair combined with the slight damp silk black robe that hugged the brunette in all the right places made Emma stupid for a really long moment. By the time Regina was plating Henry’s chicken strips and fries, Emma finally found her tongue again. “I could have done that for you.”

“That’s okay. I didn’t think I’d be that long in the shower. It was wonderful; I didn’t want to get out.” Regina commented pulling the ketchup out the fridge pouring some out on the corner of Henry’s plate.

“I know what you mean. So what’s that amazing smell because I don’t think it was the chicken strips?” Emma asked leaning against the counter trying not to be obvious about her staring.

“Oh it’s a chicken cheese noodle casserole I had in the freezer. It should be ready in another twenty minutes or so.” Regina replied getting out a glass and pouring a cup of red mix-berry juice for Henry.

“Yours?” Emma asked remembering that Regina could actually cook.

“Yes.” Regina replied looking to see how Emma would react that and was elated to see Emma’s face brighten. “Yum. I can’t wait. Is there anything I can do to help?”

“You could open a bottle of wine for us. I’m going to go give this to Henry then put some clothes on.” Regina replied smiling shyly at Emma.

“Okay! Red or white? I know you have both. Or wait? You sure you don’t want cider instead. I only got to taste it that one time.” Emma asked enjoying this.

“Oh, that’s right. Well then yes, we’ll have cider instead. The bottle is in the library.” Regina replied taking Henry’s plate and cup of juice.

Emma couldn’t help herself she discretely followed Regina to silently watch her walk into the small TV room using her magic to pull out a small folding table from behind the couch setting it in front of Henry then placing his plate and cup down. Henry’s smile was huge and he was excited for one of his favorite things to eat. Regina beamed smiling at him and kissed him on the head before heading upstairs to change. Emma felt reassured by what she saw; she knew she made the right choice.

Emma found the library and poured two big glasses of cider, she couldn’t wait taking a big sip from her glass. The taste of the cider mixed with being back in that room Emma had a flash back to the first time she met Regina Mills. Enjoying the memories Emma laughed.

“What’s so funny?” Regina asked from the doorway, she was wearing a light purple version of the same pajama’s Emma was wearing.

“I was thinking about the first time I was in this room.” Emma replied handing Regina the other glass of cider. Regina took it with a soft “Thank you.”

“That night feels so far away.” Regina commented taking a long sip of her cider.

“Yes it does, we’ve both come a long way since then. I can’t believe this is where we ended up. Who would have thought?” Emma added laughing.

“Not me or anyone else in this town. Maybe it was Henry’s plan?” Regina laughed.

“It feels…strange…but in a good way. Or am I crazy?” Emma asked.

“You’re not crazy.” Regina assured her.

“Are you sure about this? About me being here full time?” Emma asked looking Regina in the eyes, she needed to make sure; this was something really big for the both of them.

“Yes, I’m sure but if you have any doubt or concerns please just talk to me about it okay? All I ask is that our business, remain our business, I don’t want the whole town knowing what happens in our house okay?”

Inside Emma smiled big at Regina’s use of “our house” she liked it.

“Okay. So…what else do you know how to cook?” Emma asked trying to be sly.

“Why? Wait…can you cook?” Regina asked grinning.

“Um, not really…well…no. I can’t cook at all.” Emma admitted and they both laughed.

“I can cook a few things. And I can teach you if you’d like. I was starting to show Henry how to cook when you first came into town. We didn’t have much time to after that.”

“Well, we will now.” Emma stated confidently.

“Good. Come on let’s go make our plates and join Henry.”

Regina pulled the casserole out of the oven then put two large pieces on two big plates, gathering silverware and napkins while Emma refilled their glasses. They took seats on opposite sides of Henry in the TV room and watched Despicable Me. Once Henry was full he fell asleep between Emma and Regina, they watched the rest of the movie then turned on the regular TV and turned down the sound. Neither woman wanted to admit it but they both wanted to sit and talk so the TV remained on.

“Regina, are you really okay with this? With having me here? All the time? I know we just talked about it but…I can’t help feeling that maybe…”

“Emma enough, yes I am okay with all of this, I wouldn’t have suggested it if I didn’t think it was good idea. I don’t want to fight any more Emma. I don’t want to be the bad guy anymore. And we’re friends; I think we’ve both proved it too. I’m going to keep working hard to be a better person and having you here will calm everyone else down. Because if you trust me, they’ll trust me. I want a chance to prove to them what I’ve already proven to you and Henry.” Regina said with a hopeful smile.

“Sounds like a great plan, a plan I’m happy to help with. You know what you did in Neverland was… amazing. You weren’t the villain then, you were the hero.”

“Well when you work with a hero, it rubs off.” Regina commented, and Emma grinned it was a nice complement.

“Do you think Regina, you’d be willing to show me more…you know magic wise?”

“You want to learn more from me? I thought you’d ask the Blue Fairy or something.”

“Nah, I like you more. I didn’t say anything at the time but you’re a great teacher Regina. Learning from you was fun.” Emma confessed.

“Okay. Sure we can continue the lessons. Are you sure you don’t want to clear it with Henry first. I’m supposed to be cutting back on the magic. I don’t want to have pay another huge price for what I’m doing.”

“Magic comes at a price but I think when we use it to protect our family and for genuine good intentions the price is worth paying. And you won’t be facing it alone, we do this…together as a family.”

“A family, really?” Regina couldn’t believe it to be possible.

“Yeah. I think it’ll help us move forward in a positive way. Everything that’s happened over the last few months will weigh heavily on all of us. I think we can show the whole town we can move forward together, we won’t forget past but we can put it behind us and learn from it. A new beginning for all of us.” Emma commented reaching out to squeeze Regina’s hand.

The simple gesture of comfort surprised both of them and Emma quickly took her hand back.

“So…I’m going to Grannies tomorrow to meet with my parents and everyone else to see what’s going on. Do you want to come with me?” Emma asked.

“Uh, I would but I don’t think that’s a good idea. I know I won’t be welcome there. I’ll take Henry food shopping and restock the refrigerator and pantry. If I need to know anything you can tell me after.” Regina suggested being realistic, and that made Emma frown.

“Okay but next time you’re coming with me. Everyone needs to get used to seeing you participate instead of instigate. Do you have a special dinner in mind?” Emma asked fishing.

Regina laughed; Emma was so easy to read sometimes.

“Is there something you’d like me to make?” Regina asked not quite believing she was sitting relaxing in the TV room of her house with Henry asleep next to her while having a very flirty conversation with Emma Swan.

“Nothing specific, I was curious to what amazing thing you were going to make next. I’ve been living off of Grannies food and cereal since I got here.” Emma admitted with a shrug.

“That’s…actually a little sad Emma. We’ll change that.”

“Uh could you make some of those turnovers again? Only this time without the magic fruit?” Emma asked hoping Regina would get the joke.

“Sure. I can do that.” Regina replied smirking.

“Apples?” Emma asked teasing.

“I don’t think Henry would appreciate that. How about Peach or pear? I could even do blueberry or raspberry if you prefer?” Regina replied laughing and Emma joined her.

A moment later it hit Emma and she stopped to ask.  “Is it weird that we can laugh about what happened?”

“I think it is better we do laugh about it, help us move on from it. And so you know from me, I’ll never do anything like that again. I was desperate and I was wrong. I’m sorry for what I did, all of it. And I will do everything I can, every day for the rest of my life trying to make up for it.”

“We’ll take it one day a time. And you’ve got Henry and me to help; it’ll be easier this time.” Emma assured her.

They switched the conversation to lighter stuff discussing the movie they watched for another hour before Emma picked up Henry carrying him to bed. Regina watched this small feat of strength in genuine amazement, Emma was stronger than she looked and the blonde knew how to put those arms to good use. Once Henry was tucked into bed Regina and Emma locked up the house said a polite goodnight to each other and went to bed.

Laying in their own bedrooms both women were awake for a little longer thinking about Neverland, thinking about being back in Storybrooke with Henry safe and sound but most of all thinking about the woman in the other room. Where they began and where they were now were vastly different places and where they might be a few months in the future was something worth dwelling on. It was almost exciting in that both women actually looked forward to seeing what would happen.

The next morning Emma woke to the amazing smell of fresh brewed coffee. Stumbling downstairs with rather spectacular bed hair still in her pajama’s Emma found both Henry and Regina awake and dressed for the day.

“How late did I sleep in?” Emma asked walking in.

Regina poured Emma a cup of coffee adding a little sugar and milk to it before handing it to Emma surprising the blonde.


“You’re welcome.” Regina replied brightly, she was having a great morning and it showed. The good mood was infectious and Emma found herself smiling for no reason.

“It’s still early, if that’s what you’re wondering. Mom and I always get up early.” Henry commented and Regina grinned adding. “It’s a Mill’s thing.”

“That’s how you always beat me awake.” Emma commented to Henry and the boy laughed nodding.

“So what you up to today Emma? Mom and I are going shopping.” Henry asked sipping on what looked like hot coco.

“She has a meeting to go to at Grannies, to get caught up with everyone.” Regina offered for Emma.

“Your mom got out of going with me this time but next time…” Emma commented smirking and Henry laughed. The kitchen timer dinged and Regina pulled hot pastries out of the oven. Henry clapped happy they were ready while Emma stared in surprise. “What’s this?”

“Breakfast.” Regina replied smirking lightly.

“When did you have time to do this?” Emma asked taking a seat next to Henry while Regina put a few pastries on a big plate then set the plate in front of them.

“This morning when I got up, it’s peach. I found a can in the pantry.”

“I think I’m going to like living here.” Emma commented digging into a hot peach turnover. The simple complement made Regina beam in happiness no one ever paid her real complements. It was very nice to hear.

Henry scarfed a pastry down then asked with a full mouth, “Grumpy said something about a welcome home party?”

Emma grinned replying, “I’ll find out when they’re planning it.”

“I wonder if it’s going to be a potluck like last time.” Henry asked and Emma’s eyes got wide as she eagerly asked Regina.

“Hey, if it is could you make that lasagna again? I really liked it a lot.”

“Using me for my cooking Miss Swan? How common of you.” Regina teased and Emma teased right back. “Well Miss Mills, this common girl doesn’t have any cooking skills so I know to take what I can get. And you did offer to teach me so when you feel I can make a few edible things. I’ll take up cooking duties.”

This surprised Henry and Regina and they paused to look at one another before turning to look back at Emma with hesitation.

“Awe, come on. If I can pick up magic I can pick up cooking. Right?” Emma asked worried maybe she couldn’t. Regina burst out laughing eventually commenting, “We’ll start small, do the cooking as a family.”

“That sounds like fun.” Henry commented with a big grin.

They talked about food and grocery shopping while they finished breakfast. Soon Regina and Henry were off to the market while Emma changed and was off to Grannies to meet with everyone. At the market Regina and Henry gathered everything on the list quickly. The clerk was surprised to see Henry and brightly greeted him and hesitantly greeted Regina. Henry noticed but didn’t say anything, Regina was used to it so ignored it. However once they were back in the car Henry asked. “Mom when we get home can we talk about what happened? All of it?”

Regina wasn’t expecting Henry to cut right down to it so quick, it brought tears to her eyes yet she still managed to say. “Sure, of course we can. Do you want to wait for Emma? Do it together?”

“I wanted to talk to you first. We can bring Emma in it later.” Henry said reaching out giving his mom a one armed hug. Regina started crying and nodded yes hugging Henry back. It gave Regina a moment to calm the tears when she did she drove them home. They unpacked all the groceries then sat down to talk.

The walk over to Grannies gave Emma  a chance to clear her head before facing everyone. She had enjoyed her morning a lot, Emma never thought she’d ever say this but she liked being at Regina’s, her own room and bathroom, hot coffee  and freshly made pastries when she woke up, her son there to greet her, it was pretty awesome.  That happy bubble she had going on with Henry and Regina would not survive through the interrogation she was about to face from everyone else. Emma knew she needed to prepare and think about what she said. It was bad enough Snow and Charming would be looking for anything to pick on she didn’t want to give anyone else reason to pick on her too.

Getting there Red was outside setting out Grannies’ sign and rushed over to give Emma a bone crushing hug. “I’m so happy that you guys survived everything. I was so worried. We all were.”

“Thanks Ruby.” Emma replied hugging Red back for a moment before stepping away.

“So did you really sleep over at the Evil Queen’s last night?” Red asked leaning and lowering her voice. Emma laughed and nodded. “I did. I’m going to be living there now. I’ll be going over to my parents place after this to grab mine and Henry’s stuff.”

“Really? Why?” Red asked confused and shocked.

“She has more space and I get to see Henry every day. It’s working out well so far.” Emma tried to explain.

“But it’s the Evil Queen?” Red pushed.

“She’s not the Evil Queen anymore. She’s just Regina. Come on, I don’t want to have to tell the story twice and I’m sure everyone will want to hear it and want answers.” Emma replied smiling at Red telling the absolutely truth.

Emma and Red went inside to find it filled with people. Belle was there without Rumpelstiltskin, as well as the Blue Fairy, all the dwarves, Anton, Archie along with two dozen other people had gathered to meet. Emma figured out right away these were all the people involved in protecting the town while they were gone. Granny was pouring everyone coffee and Red pushed Emma right into the thick of it where Snow and Charming were standing being bombarded by dozens of questions. As soon as everyone realized Emma was there they quieted down, apparently everyone knew where she had slept.

Emma had Belle fill her in on what was going on making everyone wait for the juicy stuff. Belle had done a great job protecting the town, Rumpelstiltskin had left her instruction how to put the barrier back up around the town rendering it invisible again. It worked for the most part but some of the residents started to rebel the longer they were gone. Now that they were back everyone hoped it would calm the rest of the town down.

“Okay so we need to talk about what are goals are as a town.” Emma pushed trying to keep everyone on track however no one wanted to talk about that yet.

“I think you should tell us what happened in Neverland.” The Blue Fairy pushed.

“Okay.” Emma replied with a weary sigh.

Emma was careful in what she said but she remained honest throughout only mentioning specifics here and there. Emma did not explain how she woke Regina from the pixy dust only that she did. Other details like how she and Regina discovered how powerful they were together Emma did share with everyone. It was important they all understood how much Regina did for Charming and Henry while in Neverland.

“So you moved in with Regina and Henry? In  her house?” Archie asked, like everyone else they were confused on why Emma would do that regardless of how much Regina did in Neverland.

“Yes. My parents need their space and so do I. When Henry asked to move home, Regina offered me the extra bedroom. I took it because it means I get to see my son every day.”

“You could keep him full time like you did before he shouldn’t be around the Evil Queen so much or at all.” The Blue Fairy pointed out and Emma shook her head no as she bluntly replied, “Henry is Regina’s son, nothing will ever change that. Yes he’s my son too but we’ve agreed to share him, no more fighting.  I won’t take Henry away from his mother so please don’t bring it up again. And another thing I’d like to add. I know none of you trust Regina and I’m not asking you to. I’m asking you to trust me. I’m in her house and I’ll be watching so will Henry, none of us want Regina reverting back to her old ways. When Regina saved my dad’s life I decided to give her another chance. Our success in Neverland was due to her help and think she can contribute our future success as well.”

“What about Rumpelstiltskin? Grumpy asked.

“I can’t vouch for him. He did help, he didn’t pull any tricks so we’ll see. So for right now let’s move on from the both of them and focus on what our next step is.” Emma pushed trying to get them back on track.

Everyone started shouting out different things. Some wanted to go back to Fairy Tale Land others wanted to stay, a few wanted to leave Storybrooke and venture out to see the other stuff out there. They couldn’t agree and the conversation got out of hand.

“Hey! Stop it! Quiet down!” Emma shouted getting everyone to quiet down. When she had everyone’s attention she told them. “Look I think I may have a solution. How we got home was Pan had a stash of magic beans. I have what’s left. Anton can we use the beans that’s left to re-grow the garden?”

Anton nodded, “Yeah. It’ll take a couple of months to get the garden back into shape but with living beans it’ll be easy.”

“With more beans we can let those who want to go back go back, those who want to stay can stay. I would like to see Storybrooke be a real town again, we can let outsiders in as long as we all work together to protect each other. Anyone who wants to go wandering can go wander. Fairy Tale Land isn’t what it used to be maybe we can help it get better from this end. Who knows, if we wait for the garden to grow we can use that time to think about what we really want and then help each other achieve it.”

Everyone was surprised Emma had such thought out clear ideas that were good. Most everyone was won over and the subject changed to the coming home party.  They would hold it that next evening so everyone could prepare something to contribute to the party at Grannies. Emma retrieved the Sheriff’s badge from Red, everyone had taken turns wearing it and the keys to the police station and the police cruiser. Emma was pleased with how the meeting was going and was about to head back to her parents place with Charming when the Blue Fairy pulled her aside. “Emma I need to talk to you for a moment.”

“What do you need?”

“I’d like you to reconsider residing in that house with that woman. You can’t trust her, the darkness in her is too strong. It’ll hurt you and put everyone in danger.” The Blue Fairy insisted giving Emma a stern look. Annoyed and slowly getting angry Emma replied. “I’m a big girl I think I can handle it. And so you know I will bring Regina to the party so I’m asking you now to please keep your comments to yourself. I’m not asking you to be nice to her, I’m asking you not to say stuff like that in front of Henry. He doesn’t need to hear it okay?”

“Will you not listen to reason?” The Blue Fairy pushed.

“I’ve been listening, I’ve also made up my mind.” Emma stated giving the Blue Fairy a tight smile walking away.

“Ready to go?” Emma asked Charming and they quickly left. Snow stayed behind to get caught up with Red.

They were at the end of the street before Charming made Emma slow down and ask. “You were really eager to leave, is something wrong?”

“The Blue Fairy was being pushy again.”

“She can be.” Charming agreed then added. “Snow feels the same way and when she gets the chance she will push the point.”

“And you won’t?” Emma asked.

“Regina saved my life and Henry’s. I owe her a second chance. And I actually feel better you being in that house because you can keep a close eye on her. If she starts acting strange you’ll be the first one to notice. And I really liked your ideas in there. They were really good and I hope everyone else agrees.”


“It’s nice when you say it.” Charming admitted grinning at his daughter.

“It’s still weird, strange to say out loud but I’m trying.” Emma admitted.

Emma and Charming retrieved the police cruiser and drove over to the apartment, Charming helped her load up hers and Henry’s stuff into the trunk. Emma thanked her dad then drove over to the police station to get caught up with the current staff. They extended it to four people who would now be her support team. Emma was happy to have the help. It allowed her to get caught up quickly, she made sure they knew she’d be back first thing in the morning to start her first shift then headed home to the Mill’s house. She parked in the street then carried all the stuff inside setting it at the bottom of the stairs. Emma called out to Henry then Regina while wandering around the bottom level. She found them in the library, a small fire burning in the fireplace Henry asleep in Regina’s lap.

“Hey? How was your day?” Emma asked quietly walking in and taking a seat on the couch across from Regina.

“Good. Henry and I had a long conversation earlier about everything that’s happened.”

“In Neverland?”

“From the moment he read the book and became aware. I had a lot to explain, a lot to apologize for, still so much more to make up. And this time I didn’t give him any excuses, didn’t try to spin my behavior. It was the most honest I’ve ever been with him and myself. It was as hard as I thought it would be.”

“How’d Henry take it?”

“Better than I expected, it was good to finally talk openly about it. He was more confused than angry. We promised each other not to keep secrets from each other anymore.”

“Would you like a glass of wine? I can open a bottle?” Emma asked, she didn’t know what to say to help Regina feel better, the brunette looked so sad. “That would be nice Emma thank you. How did the meeting go?”

“Better than I expected. I’ll tell you about it in a moment.” Emma replied getting up going to the kitchen.

Emma returned with an open bottle of Merlot and two glasses. She told Regina everything that was said at the meeting, the reactions everyone had and the ideas she shared with them. Then she told Regina about the Blue Fairy getting in her face and what she asked in return.

“I’m telling you Emma, that…the Blue Fairy has always had it out for me. Be careful with her, she’s vindictive, more so than even I used to be and that’s saying something.”

“I’m starting to see what you mean. Oh my dad was supportive of my moving here. He helped me pack my stuff up.”

Regina looked surprised but didn’t say anything.

They kept talking over a glass of wine. Eventually Regina moved letting Henry sleep on the couch and they went into the kitchen to start dinner together. They talked about Emma’s ideas, and that Emma has taken up her badge again. Regina knew Emma would return to the job but Emma’s ideas for Storybrooke were new. Regina was surprised she liked them and thought they were smart.

“I’ll help in any way I can.” Regina offered.

“Really?” Emma asked surprised Regina was offering. Getting used to this new helpful Regina would take some time.

“Yes. I know the others won’t be happy with me helping much but anything I can do to help you I will.” Regina explained and Emma used it as the opportunity to tell her.

“Actually I already had something in mind. I’m going to push to have you fully reinstated as Mayor. We need you as the public face of Storybrooke. And I’m going to need your help putting together a new communication system in the town.”

“Wait, what? Really? You think everyone will go for that?” Regina was shocked and flattered.

“Yes. We need someone strong and effective incase anything happens or I need backup and I can’t think of anyone else I’d want backing me up when and if the shit hits the fan. Plus you’ know the job and we’re going to need someone who knows what they’re doing to help get the town back up and running as quickly as possible.”

“Thank you Emma.”

“I really do want to turn Storybrooke into a normal town. You know with normal schools, normal stores, normal stuff going on. I want Henry to grow up in a safe loving place.”

“Me too.”

The welcome home party was less odd for Emma than the last one, Grannies was packed with a lot of people wanting to see them. And this time she walked in with Regina and Henry which made a world of difference on how everyone treated Regina. Plus Henry stayed by Regina’s side the entire time while Emma made the rounds with everyone else. Belle brought Rumpelstiltskin and Neal with her, they mingled mostly to themselves yet seemed to have a good time. Eventually everyone relaxed and enjoyed themselves.

The next day Emma had her first day back on the job, Regina spent time with Henry and when Emma got home Henry asked if they could have their family talk. After dinner the three of them sat in the library and talked about everything. Emma shared a lot more of her actual past with Henry and Regina, while Regina opened up to the both of them about some of the events that led to her becoming who she did. Regina was honest to Henry that some stuff she simply couldn’t tell him, it was too horrible but she would tell him what she could.

“Mom, are you really serious about changing?” Henry asked Regina.

“I…I am.”

“Then you have to get rid of all the bad stuff you’ve kept.” Henry asked surprising Emma and Regina.

“Like what Henry?” Emma asked curious.

“The stuff in the family mausoleum.” Henry stated.

“Oh the hearts.” Regina said with a heavy sigh, than she nodded agreeing. “Okay. A few of the items I will have to keep for emergency situations but other stuff like the hearts I will be happy to get rid of. Emma will you help me it this weekend?”

“Sure.” Emma replied nodding in agreement, she was curious to what all Regina had in that mausoleum for a long time now.

“Will that be a good start Henry?” Regina asked wanting to make sure her son approved.

“Yeah that’s a great start mom.”

Over the next week Emma took back her job and pushed with everyone to have Regina reinstated as Mayor. It took a little while but eventually it worked. By the end of the week Regina was back in office and an official town council of Storybrooke was formed to help support Regina and Emma in town affairs. Belle was the head of the council which made everyone feel better about Regina’s involvement. Town forums were held almost daily to keep everyone informed and up to speed on what was happening and what would happen next. Emma and Regina both worked hard to be as transparent as possible and it went a long way in calming everyone’s fears.

Saturday morning Henry went off to spend time with Snow and Charming while Emma went with Regina to the cemetery. Regina used magic to open the mausoleum doors and Emma followed her inside. Regina paused at the coffin inside, turning around she looked Emma in the eyes telling her.

“When we’re done here today you’re going to hate me all over again. And I want you to know now, I understand. It’s okay and I’ll wait until I don’t seem so evil again just…let’s try to keep Henry out of it.”

“Regina, what’s in here?” Emma asked worried.

“My past as the Evil Queen.”

“Shit. Okay I’ll keep it from Henry but now I’m really worried about what down there.” Emma commented impatiently gesturing Regina to get started. Regina waved her hand and the special door opened, Emma whispered, “Shit. That’s why.”

They went down below and Emma was shocked by everything in it. There was too much to take care of in one day so Emma made Regina explain everything, when they got to the wall of hearts Emma was stunned.

“These hearts…are they from still people still alive?” Emma asked unable to tear her eyes off the wall.


“We need to return them. All of them.” Emma insisted.

“Not all of the hearts belong to good people. Some of them belong to very, very bad people.” Regina pointed out.

“Well, we keep an eye on those but everyone gets a second chance. We return the hearts.”


Emma and Regina made a plan to work on returning the hearts, destroying what couldn’t be used and only keeping a few mementos of the past. Emma was rather surprised by the elaborate dresses Regina wore as the Evil Queen and used it to tease the brunette in effort to keep things light. It made it easier returning to Henry afterward. That first Saturday as they left at sunset they had barely made a dent. Regina was really depressed about it and when they reached the car Emma offered. “How about we come back next weekend and keep working on it. We’ll get through it Regina.”

“Emma, why are you so nice to me?” Regina asked frowning.

“We’re friends and friends support each other during rough times. Come on Regina you knew this wouldn’t be easy. You need to focus on fixing what you can instead of dwelling on what you can’t.”

“You make it sound so easy.” Regina commented discretely wiping away tears.

“When you’re trying to clean up shit from your past and trying to stay sane at the same time, sometime it is that easy. Come on let’s go home.” Emma said getting behind the wheel of Regina’s car while the brunette climbed into the passenger seat.

That evening Regina and Emma had dinner alone for the first time. Regina made steak, steamed veggies and baked potato. They didn’t talk about their pasts, their problems or even Henry really, instead they talked about places to picnic, places to go hiking or take day trips to that were nearby. At the end of dinner they took the wine bottle into the library taking seats opposite of each other.

“Regina can I ask you a personal question?”

“Sure.” Regina replied with a shrug.

“What sort of things do you enjoy doing?”

The question surprised Regina, and it was the first time she ever really thought about it. It took Regina a moment to answer and for the rest of the evening they talked about the things they enjoyed doing. Emma couldn’t remember the last time anyone cared to ask about her interests and she was amazed to find out she actually had quite a bit in common with Regina.

Sunday night Emma had dinner with her parents while Regina and Henry ate at Grannies. Snow took the opportunity to grill Emma about what it was like to live with Regina looking for anything to critique anything to use to get Emma to return to her place. Emma stuck to her guns and played nice letting Snow talk as much as she wanted while keeping her real reactions and feelings to herself.

Over the next month everyone worked hard. People in Storybrooke grew comfortable speaking to the council members and they in turn got used to working with Regina to answer everyone’s concerns and to handle any problems that arose. The council members got a chance to know a different side to Regina, one that was a lot less cold and a lot more warm and inviting. It made working with her a lot easier and it proved Emma was right. This made the council members curious if Emma was right about fixing the town too.

The first goal was to get the garden up and running. The land had to be cleared, replanted and re-cloaked in magic. All the dangerous areas of Storybrooke were fenced off with warning signs put up. The library and the schools reopened with Snow going back to work as a teacher. Some jobs were reassigned, people who better were better suited for them took them over. Those without purpose was given one, everyone was expected to pitch in even the children. Everyone was accounted for, everyone given a direct communication to both the Sheriff and Mayor’s office.

Emma hired Charming as her deputy and Red as her receptionist and tracker. Red still worked with Granny at the diner but because her skills were important she also worked at the Sheriff’s office. While the others filled in the evening and weekend staff.  Emma had them invest in better communication equipment so when a visitor came into town they all knew immediately without magic. If they knew someone was there they’d be better prepared to keep the town secret. If they all worked together it would work. The process was slow yet effective.

By the last week of the month they were able to accomplish a bulk of their goals. They planned to remove the barrier at the end of the week. Emma made everyone who wanted to leave and wander sign a sheet so they knew who was gone. Then she created an emergency number to call for those who wanted to wander in the case of magical trouble and wasn’t surprised when Neal was one of the first people signed up to leave as soon as the barrier was down. Since the return she had only seen Neal twice and it was very briefly, Henry only saw him once. Emma was disappointed but not surprised. With Belle taking such a prominent role in the town and running the Library Rumpelstiltskin was inclined to behave and even pitch in.

During that time Snow and the Blue Fairy continued to nag Emma about moving out of Regina’s house while Charming kept his opinions to himself. Thankfully they all kept quiet around Henry letting the boy be happy. And he was, finally in a steady healthy routine that included cooperating parents, school, friends and being a normal kid Henry began to blossom. The more that they got done the more the town folk believed in Emma giving her more and more leeway to get things done. Public opinion on Regina also began to shift in a positive manner as more people became aware of how much she was doing to help out.

Plus on the weekends Regina and Emma cleaned out the secret crypt with evening heart returns, they tried to get several done each time. It went a long way in proving how much Regina was genuinely trying. Even though no one spoke about it in front of Emma or Regina, everyone heard about them going around and returning hearts. Suddenly faced with proof that even evil people can do good things, people around town were more willing to give others a true second chance. It also stirred up a lot of emotions about returning permanently to Fairy Tale Land making the biweekly town forums to discuss such topics very heated.

One change that really surprised everyone was how well Regina and Emma worked together, what happened in Neverland wasn’t a fluke. They stopped fighting and didn’t get into arguments in public any longer. If they disagreed about something they would wait until they got home to discuss it in private. By doing that they projected a unified front. They both stopped rushing into things taking time to stop and discuss it with each other which they found always presented better solutions. It did take a while for Regina to stop falling back on old dirty habits and not so great solutions but once she did she was quite creative.

Living together and working together allowed both women to really get to know each other and now that things had calmed down they had the time too. In a month’s time Henry, Regina and Emma became a tight family unit, each getting to know the other better than before. It gave the three of them something they all had felt was missing, a real loving supportive family. Their rhythm with each other was easy, natural and reaffirming.

It was normal for Regina to spend the bulk of her time with her son or alone but now she had Emma too. Having someone she could talk to on a regular basis made a big difference in Regina’s continued efforts to remain upbeat about her recovery from evil. While Emma stopped hanging out with other’s so much socially to spend more time with Regina and Henry. Then in the middle of the month Emma and Regina started getting invited to dinner parties at council member’s houses. There were at least two a week and because it was good for Regina to get out and make friends and for others to see the more human side of the brunette Emma never turned down an invitation.

When they could find time Henry, Regina and Emma began to do regular family activities. They went on picnics, hikes and long walks at the beach, a lot of the time they used the outings to catch up with one another. Later they turned the backyard into a fruit tree grove, planting pear trees, peach trees and even an orange tree alongside the already standing apple tree. Emma and Regina used their combined magic to get the seeds to grow to maturity in moments instead of years and overnight had a full crop of fruit off of each tree. Regina taught Emma and Henry how to bake and they started making pies as gifts for people around town. It was a big hit.

Emma never saw the shift of her priorities yet her mother did and began to nag Emma to start dating again. Snow hoped a new love interest would distract Emma from Regina. Emma protested telling Snow the truth, she was too busy right now but maybe later she’d be open to it.

Two days before the magical barrier was set to come down Emma went to have her weekly lunch with Snow at Grannies. Emma hoped Snow would drop her usual favorite topic of Emma moving out of Regina’s house only to find some random guy talking with Snow when Emma arrived.

“Hey mom.” Emma greeted Snow, it was still odd to call someone her age Mom but it made Snow happy.

“Hi honey! Come meet Trevor.”

“Hey Trevor.” Emma greeted the guy with a sigh, this was the sixth man Snow had introduced Emma to in the last two weeks.

The man was very average in appearance and looked nervous, when Emma shook his hand, it was wet.  Emma’s other hand slipped down to her phone and she pressed an alarm button getting the phone to beep.

“Oh shoot! Sorry Mom got to take this. Be back in a moment.” Emma said pulling out her phone and pretending to answer it before returning to tell them. “Sorry, I need to cancel lunch today. I’m needed back at the station. Rain check, mom?”

“Sure honey. I understand. Are we still on for dinner tomorrow?” Snow replied.

“Yup. Nice to meet you Trevor.” Emma said on her way out, instead of driving back to the station where her father would be waiting to ask question about the latest blind date set up, Emma drove home to eat lunch. Pulling into the driveway behind Regina’s car, Emma was glad to find Regina home too. Walking in Emma found the brunette in the kitchen warming leftovers.

“Heating up enough for two?” Emma asked walking in.

“Sure but I thought you were having lunch with Snow?”

“She brought another guy for me to meet. I got out as quick as I could.”

“How many men is that now?”

“He’s number seven I think.” Emma commented pulling off her coat and putting it on the back of the chair.

“I wonder how many men your mother is going to introduce you to before she gives up.” Regina asked laughing.

“How many men are on the planet? Oh shoot even then she’d start pulling them from other realms. She’ll never stop.” Emma moaned and they both laughed.

“So we were invited over to Belle’s tonight’s for Baelfire’s going away party, it was put together last moment.” Regina threw out and Emma immediately tensed.

“What?” Regina asked immediately, they had gotten even better at reading each other over the last month neither woman got away with anything anymore.

“I know it’s a going away party but I was really looking forward to staying in tonight. You were going to make chicken and dumplings and it was my turn to pick the movie. I even bought more popcorn.” Emma whined pouting a little.

Regina tried her hide her laughter turning to pull the baking dish out of the oven and pulled out two plates splitting what was in the dish. Handing one plate over to Emma, Regina took a seat next to the blonde and as she unfolded her napkin she suggested. “How about we go to the party make an appearance, Henry gets to say goodbye in person to Baelfire and we cut out early. We’ll be back home watching the movie by nine.”

“What about dinner?” Emma asked still pouting and giving Regina puppy dog eyes.

“I’ll make it and put it in the oven to keep warm. We’ll eat late. I promise by nine we’ll be home alone with the door locked. Will that make you happy?” Regina replied smirking, she enjoyed how much of a fuss Emma made over her cooking.

“Actually yes, that sounds like heaven. No offense to Belle but I hate eating at her house. She’s so heavy handed on the spices. And everyone else will want to hang out for hours and if it was once in a while that’d be great but they want to do that at every party.” Emma commented making a bad face and Regina laughed nodding in agreement.

“I can’t help that I prefer being home alone with my family. That’s not unreasonable is it?” Emma asked and Regina immediately replied. “No not at all.”

“Are you going to come home and change after work or meet me at the party?” Regina asked with a slightly judgmental tone to her voice.

“What? Why do you have to say it like that for?” Emma replied confused.

“You always wear your uniform. I thought you could come home and change into something more fun before we go out tonight. Unless you prefer, to wear the uniform out?”

“Are you going to wear another black dress?” Emma shot back giving Regina the same look back.

“Black is classic.”

“It’s a uniform as much as my jacket and boots are. How about we switch it up. You wear color and I’ll wear a dress.” Emma offered.

“People will talk Emma.”

“People are going to talk anyway Regina. Come on it’ll be fun and it’ll only be for a couple of hours.”

Regina gave in. “Okay.”

Emma went back to work while Regina stayed behind to get dinner started, it would need to simmer for a few hours so it’d be ready to take off the stove when they left for the party. They both made sure to clear their desks before heading home for the evening. Most people would be heading over to Belle and Rumpelstiltskin’s house for the party and Belle wouldn’t leave Regina’s office until she had Regina’s word her and Emma were attending. Belle’s insistence was a wonderful change over how it used to be between them, Regina marveled how fast things have changed for the better.

Getting home Regina found Henry already getting ready and Emma in the shower, Regina had to rush to catch up. Regina pulled the chicken and dumplings off the stove and into the oven to keep warm before running upstairs to shower and change. Henry was downstairs watching TV when Regina finally emerged from her bedroom wearing an emerald green dress with matching heels.


Regina turned to see Emma stepping out of her own bedroom staring at her; Emma was wearing a tight purple red dress with spaghetti straps.

“No Emma, you—wow.” Regina corrected unable and unwilling to stop staring at the blonde.

After seeing Emma in nothing but jeans, boots and heavy leather jackets to now see her in tight very flattering dress almost short circuited Regina’s brain.

“Thank you but you’re the one that needs to promise me not so much black anymore. You look amazing in color, especially this green. Stunning.”

“Are you guy’s ready to go?” Henry called out from downstairs breaking the spell both women seemed to be under.

“Yeah! We’re on our way down.” Emma called out still staring at Regina. Nothing more was said as they left the house and drove over to the party in Regina’s car. On the drive over Emma made everyone go over the plan. “Okay so we stay until 8:30 then we say goodbye to everyone and we’re back in the car by 8:45 and home by 9. Agreed?”

“Agreed.” Regina and Henry both replied with a nod of their head.

Every social function they attended they made it clear to each other when they expected to leave so there was no miscommunication in front of others. And no one was ever expected to stay longer than they felt comfortable to.

They entered the party together looking like a tight knit family each wearing almost identical black and gray long button up coats. Belle brightly greeted them at the door with Grumpy helping by taking everyone’s coats. Henry spotted some of his friends and took off running. Belle pulled Regina aside to show her something while Grumpy pulled Emma in a different direction to talk shop.

“Grumpy, do you really want to talk about all that now?” Emma asked trying not to show how annoyed she was, it was almost as if she was never off duty not even at a party.

“I thought you should know some of the town’s folk you’ve marked as troublesome plan on coming to the party tonight.”

“Oh! Well Charming’s should be here any moment and he’s the one that chose to be on duty tonight. Let him know when he arrives and I’ll keep an eye out.” Emma replied.

“Okay and Emma you look great in that dress.” Grumpy replied smiling warmly at his friend.

“Thanks Grumpy.” Emma replied then went off looking for Archie.

Emma found Archie talking to a few other town council members, Regina had suggested Archie  uses his therapy skills to help those who were not adjusting and it turned out to be a great idea. Archie was a good therapist and soon everyone was going to see him. It helped those on the fringe of Storybrooke feel more welcome in their own town and encouraged them to participate more. The feeling of unity did amazing things for everyone’s peace of mind and really pushed the idea of true second chances.  

“Hey Archie!”

“Hi Emma. Glad to see you at the party! I didn’t think you’d be able to make it until later?” Archie replied.

“Well Charming’s taking the evening shift tonight. He’ll be here later.” Emma offered then added asking. “Archie, you’re still coming over to dinner tomorrow night right? Regina’s really looking forward to you coming over.”

“I wouldn’t miss it for the world, Regina’s an amazing cook.” Archie commented with a big smile.

This would be Regina and Emma’s third attempt at a dinner party, and once everyone realized how good of a cook Regina was and how much fun Emma could be when she wasn’t wearing her Sheriff’s badge they quickly became the house to be invited to.

Archie was pulled away by Nova, Archie had been working with the fairy to get rid of her nun’s habit and reclaim her life. Getting out from under the Blue Fairy’s thumb was difficult yet Nova was determined. Nova still loved Grumpy but didn’t feel good enough to re-establish contact with him again. Unbeknownst to Nova, Grumpy was seeking the same help from Archie and the therapist hoped to set them up on a blind date soon tomorrow night in fact, if everything went as planned.

Emma was about to look for her son when she spotted him running past with the other kids. It was so nice to see him having fun with his friends, to see him so happy. Emma then went in search of Regina when Red swooped in and pulled her aside.

“Emma I need your help!” Red declared once she had Emma in a quiet hallway away from the party.

“Okay with what?” Emma replied easily, it wasn’t often Red asked favors so Emma figured why not.

“I need your help distracting Gold. I’m planning a surprise party for Belle and he always ruins everything. He’s such a stick in the mud.” Red grumbled. She had been spending a lot of time with Belle and they had grown close however Red still hated Rumpelstiltskin with every fiber of her being and hated that Belle was still with him.

“Sure I’ll help in fact I’ll get Regina to start an argument with him or something so he won’t see it coming.” Emma commented making Red laugh.

“Are you sure their last argument lasted a week and ended up in fire fight in the middle of main street?”

“They know the rules if they destroy anything fighting they’ll have to rebuild it so I’m not that worried.” Emma replied with a shrug. As Emma grew more comfortable using magic she calmed down about everyone else using it as well, magic always came with a price but when it was shared by the entire town the price paid was a lot less steep.

Mentioning Regina and Rumpel, Emma looked around to see the brunette talking to a trio of handsome men. Narrowing her eyes at this Emma looked around more to find Rumpel and Belle arguing quietly in a corner. Turning her attention back to Regina, Emma stared at the men trying to place their faces. Then it hit her, they were from the bean garden, ex-soldiers from Fairy Tale Land. Emma couldn’t remember if they were from Regina’s army or Snow’s but here in Storybrooke it didn’t matter. What mattered now was that Emma didn’t like all the flirty attention they were throwing Regina’s way.

This wasn’t the first time Emma caught men sniffing up on Regina, now that the brunette was much more approachable many came out of the woodworks to flirt with danger. This also wasn’t the first time Emma got unreasonably pissed about it and immediately put an end to it. Narrowing her eyes at those men Emma raised an eyebrow and frowned. Making a quick stop to the open bar Emma grabbed two glasses of champagne from the open bar then headed over to Regina.

The closer Emma got the more she could overhear those men laying on the compliments rather thick making Emma gag a little. And as Emma walked up Regina finished her drink and all three men clamored and argued about who was going to get Regina a refill. The brunette was smirking at the attention yet when she spotted Emma just behind, her whole face lit up.

“Excuse me!” Emma growled out when one of the men bumped into her.

“Oh! Sorry Sheriff Swan. Didn’t see you there.” The man replied giving Emma a charming smile.

“Excuse me.” Emma repeated motioning with her champagne filled hands for them to back off and they did giving her a clear path to Regina.

“Mayor Mills, you look like you need another drink.” Emma stated walking over and handing Regina a new drink.

“Thank you Sheriff Swan. You always know what I need.” Regina commented her smirk turning into a genuine smile.

“Why don’t the three of you see if you can help Belle with anything.” Emma suggested giving the three of them a hard glare that made her point very clear.

The men quickly disappeared making Regina laugh and comment. “That wasn’t necessary Emma. I could of handled it myself.”

“But you don’t have to when I’m here.” Emma pointed out sipping on her own drink trying to act as if what she just did, didn’t mean anything.

“Well then you can’t leave my side then.” Regina replied with a sexy smile that made Emma grin in response.

“Okay, I won’t.” Emma replied her eyes never leaving Regina’s.

Emma didn’t know how Regina had done it but over the last month as they really got to know and understand one another Regina was slowly becoming Emma’s favorite person. Simply being around Regina made Emma happy and she never thought that would happen. Of course Emma believed it was because for the first time ever she had real best friend, someone she could tell anything to and who would support her no matter what. What Emma didn’t know was Regina felt the same way, which is why neither took a closer look to why they were both constantly chasing off each other’s possible dates. All it ever took was one solid glare from either of them to get the interested guy to run away.

Emma and Regina both lost track of time as they talked about how the rest of their day had went. Neither was interested in mingling with everyone else, both were totally content to only talk to each other. However Snow and the Blue Fairy were watching this from across the room scheming to separate them somehow. Snow hated that Emma lived in the Mills house and she tried every single day to get Emma to move out or at the very least put some real distance between herself and Regina. Snow knew how magnetizing Regina could be and was frightened that Emma would fall for Regina’s tricks. Because no matter how good Regina behaved, Snow like the Blue Fairy was always on constant alert waiting for Regina to go back to doing Evil. They had a similar watch on Rumpelstiltskin as well. Snow worried that Regina would return to evil and drag Emma with her but Snow feared Rumpelstiltskin period and knew the moment his relationship with Belle soured he would return to his old ways.

Snow watched in quiet distress as her daughter and her nemesis laughed and had a good time with each other. Then Neal walked over interrupting them, Snow was surprised to see a whole range of emotions flash across Regina’s face so quickly anyone not paying close attention would not have noticed. Anger, annoyance, disappointment and…jealousy? Regina was pissed by the interruption though hid it well while Emma appeared weary about it as she dutifully followed Neal outside. Regina watched the pair walk outside and promptly hid how hurt she was about it. Snow was confused.

Emma made sure to grab a full glass of champagne off the open bar as they walked out to the backyard where it was quiet. Neal kept his hands shoved into his jeans pockets his eyes everywhere but on Emma.

“So what did you need to talk about? Departure? Contact lists?” Emma asked trying to figure out why it was so important that they talk now.

“No, I’m good with all that stuff. I wanted to talk to you about us.” Neal began and Emma immediately interrupted him.

“There is no us.”

“That’s not what I meant Emma. Can I finish please?”

“Okay. Sorry, go ahead.”

“I’m sorry for what I did to you. All of it. And I hope when I come back it’ll be okay if I call to hang out with Henry.” Neal began still unable to fully look Emma in the eyes.

“You could have been hanging out with him this last month Neal. You don’t need special permission to see your son.” Emma replied confused.

“Actually Emma I do. I know what’s going on with you and the Evil Queen. Why do you think I’ve stayed away this whole time? I have eyes you know. The only thing I’m curious about was did you get together with her before or after Neverland? I mean shit Emma, I knew you were desperate to be a good parent and get back into Henry’s life but I never thought you’d go as far as fucking the Evil Queen.” Neal said finally looking Emma in the eyes, he was heart sick and angry over the whole confusing thing.

“What the hell are you talking about Neal? I’m not fucking anyone. And I haven’t fucked anyone since before I came to Storybrooke. I’m going through one of longest dry spells I’ve ever had. Regina’s my friend. What in the world are you talking about?” Emma asked, she was so confused she couldn’t get mad about the accusations.

“I don’t believe your whole innocence act Emma. I have eyes, we all do. Everyone has noticed. So spill it? How good is the Evil Queen in bed?” Neal pushed.

“Where is this even coming from? You know what, never mind I don’t care. Even if I was fucking Regina, it’d be none of your damn business! We were talking about Henry. Neal you had the chance all month to hang out with Henry and you chose not to. Just like you’re choosing to leave Storybrooke, you don’t have to you know. You could stay here and I don’t know maybe—be Henry’s father! Neither Regina nor I would have said no because Henry loves you and wants you to be a part of his life. You chose to stay away, you did this and now you’re running away. Like always. And I wasn’t going to get in the way of you being in Henry’s life Neal but if you continue to push these lies I will forbid it. Don’t poison my son’s mind with bullshit.”

“It’s not poison if it’s true.” Neal shot back and Emma rolled her eyes and stomped back to the backdoor pausing at the threshold. “Neal you’re an idiot but I wish you well on your travels. And I hope you make it back to Storybrooke one day.”

With that said Emma returned to the party, on the outside she looked calm and cool while in truth on the inside she was confused and angry. How dare Neal accuse her of that! Emma racked her brain trying to figure out where Neal’s accusations came from and ended up in the kitchen sipping on champagne straight from the bottle.

Emma was in deep thought when Hook sauntered in. Over the last month Hook gave up his plan to leave and with Charming’s pushing Hook decided to be a useful member of Storybrooke. Gone were Hook’s long leather coat or dusty leather boots, now he sported jeans, a short leather jacket and solid color button up shirts. Tonight Hook was in khakis, brown loafers and a light blue long sleeve button up dress shirt. Every time Emma saw him she snickered thinking to herself, “Suburban pirate.”

“Drinking alone? What’d Regina do now?” Hook asked offhand as he walked in and grabbed an unopened bottle of champagne.

“She didn’t do anything! Why do you keep asking that?” Emma demanded, hostile and defensive.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa Emma calm down. It’s was an innocent question. And since becoming your friend I’ve noticed the only person who really pushes your buttons are your mother and Regina. It was a shot in the dark not an accusation.” Hook tried to explain and Emma frowned rolling her eyes at him and taking an even longer swill from the bottle. “Sorry. I just got done talking to Neal. Man, that guy pisses me off.”

“Really? Because I think he’s still in love with you.” Hook commented offhand.

“What? Oh god, please tell me your joking?” Emma whined and Hook shook his head no.

“Then that’s why. Shit.” Emma sighed still pissed.

“Can I ask what happened?” Hook asked politely.

Emma gave him a hard glare but he kept the sweet inquisitive expression on his face. Emma relented and told him. “Neal thinks I won’t let him see Henry because I’m too busy fucking Regina.”

“Well…aren’t you?”

“What! You too! What is it with everyone?”

“Well…aren’t you?” Hook pressed again now looking as confused as Emma.


“Really? Are you sure?” Hook replied thinking it over and looking even more confused.

“No! Why does everyone think that?” Emma protested getting angry again.

“Um…well, let’s see. You two act like an old married couple, you hang just the two of you all the time and you get really angry when people interrupt that. You finish each other’s sentences and make apologies for each other without being asked. Oh and you host dinner parties together, take romantic weekend getaways together and you both get this, rather love-sick disgusting look on your faces when you speak to each other. Think about it Emma, you haven’t looked at a bloke since you kissed me and you both get this look of incredible anger every time someone tries to flirt with either of you. We’ve all assumed you were together. Well, all of us but Snow.”

Emma was speechless, she had no idea what Hook or Neal were talking about but not wanting to get in an argument during the party or have her night ruined any more than it already was Emma told Hook her truth. “I still don’t know what in the world you’re talking about Hook.  There’s no way Regina would ever see me like that, come on now. Regina and I are friends—that’s all. Whatever you see, is all in your head. But I guess if you’re joining in on the town gossip, it’s a good sign you’re finally settling in.”

“So you’re going to stand there and deny it?” Hook pushed grinning he still liked making Emma squirm.

“Well there’s nothing to deny so I’ll just stand here.” Emma replied sarcastically.

“So nothing has happened between you two? Nothing at all?” Hook asked obviously shocked.


“Wow. Damn, now I owe Archie money.” Hook commented and Emma frowned at him.

“You guys betting on us?” Emma demanded getting pissed all over again.

Hook smiled weakly and shrugged raising his hook up in a gesture of giving up. Emma narrowed her eyes at him she demanded. “Who all has been betting?”

“Everyone but your mum and dad. And of course Regina and your son.”

“Fuck! What?” Emma was shocked, it was stunning to think everyone in town thought that bizarre idea was true.

“Sorry mate. You know how small towns are. They’ll talk about anything.”  Hook commented trying to lighten the blow but Emma looked pale and a little ill.

“You alright mate?”

“Great.” Emma replied sarcastically then added. “I’m going to go now.”

Emma drained the rest of the champagne in the bottle tossed the empty in the trash and headed back to the party. Everyone else seemed to be having a great time, Emma looked around wanting to visually check on her son. When she was tense as she was right now, it always calmed her to visually check on her son make sure he was okay. Emma had to walk around for a bit until she eventually found Henry off on the side with Neal. They were smiling and talking. Emma didn’t want to interrupt them however it did cross Emma’s mind what she’d do to Neal if he tried to turn Henry against herself or Regina. It wouldn’t be pretty.

Emma went by the bar again grabbing a glass of champagne, she drained half of it when she noticed Charming looking concerned about something. Worried something was going down at the party Emma moved through the crowd to get a better look at Charming on the other side of the room. He was talking to Snow and Snow looked as if she wanted to burst into tears. Now really worried something bad was happening Emma started politely pushing through the crowd when she noticed on the far left just outside in the dark were the Blue Fairy and Regina. The Blue Fairy was saying something to Regina who looked as if she were about to cry or scream. Already pissed at the Blue Fairy for nagging her constantly Emma got angry, it looked like to Emma that the Blue Fairy was being a bully and Emma wasn’t having it.

Pushing her way through the crowd Emma silently stepped outside, she could hear the Blue Fairy tell Regina in a harsh whisper. “I see you for who you really are and who you will always be, the Evil Queen. Darkness surrounds you and no matter how you pretend you will always be Evil. Do everyone a favor and disappear. No one wants the Evil Queen here, you’re a burden on everyone.”

Emma was angry, the Blue Fairy had stepped way over the line. Narrowing her eyes at the Fairy, Emma startled the both of them by snapping in a pissed off voice. “Call her the Evil Queen one more time and I’ll knock you on your ass. How many times do I have to tell you to back off!”

The Blue Fairy immediately clammed up and stepped away from Regina looking both pissed and surprised. Regina looked surprised and relieved.

“Emma. You didn’t hear the whole conversation.” The Blue Fairy tried to explain.

“I heard enough. I already know what you think about Regina. You tell me every chance you get in your pathetic attempt to get me to move out of my home and away from my family.” Emma growled stepping out into the back yard and up into the Blue Fairy’s face making the fairy physically step away from Regina.

“It’s the truth.” The Blue Fairy pushed.

“It’s the past and I’m tired of hearing about it. And I was okay with you nagging me every damn day about this however I refuse to allow you to bully Regina in any way. It’d be one thing if you did it to other ex-villains but you don’t. You only do this shit to Regina and it’s finished. Do you understand?” Emma asked looking the fairy in the eyes, she was deadly serious and she need the Blue Fairy to understand that.

“She’s going to get you killed Emma. You’ll never find your happy ending as long as you’re live in that house. Do you really want to doom yourself to a loveless life? Do you want to deprive Henry of two loving parents? There’s still time to fix this Emma.” The Blue Fairy pushed and Emma snapped.

“He does have two loving parents! Fuck you and your meddling!” Emma growled reaching back closing her fist and punching the Blue Fairy in her smug face breaking her nose, knocking her down to the ground.

“Emma!” Regina said in shock.

“What?” Emma asked turning to Regina, the brunette blinked a few times before managing. “That was amazing. Thank you!”

Emma grinned from ear to ear, it felt good to hit the nosy fairy in the nose but it felt great to get that complement from Regina.

“Is your hand okay?” Regina asked walking over to Emma grabbing the blonde’s hand examining it.

“Regina, would you like to go home? I don’t think I’m in the mood for the party anymore.”

“Sure. Should I get Henry meet you at the car?” Regina asked looking in Emma’s eyes, in her mind all she could think was “My savior” of course she’d never say it out loud.

“No. I’ll ask my mom to watch Henry so he can stay. He’s having fun and I don’t want to ruin his night.” Emma replied taking her hand back from Regina adding. “It’s fine.”

Regina smiled and headed for the back door to go back in the house. Emma turned back around to the Blue Fairy leaning down to get in the fairy’s face warning her one more time. “I mean it Blue, you bring that shit up to me or Regina again and I’ll kick you off the town council. You know I can so don’t push me.”

“I’m only trying to save your life Emma, is that bad?” The Blue Fairy called out.

“I can do without your help. And you know what, stay away from my mom too.”

Emma went back inside found Regina saying goodbye to Belle and Rumpel, Emma went over to Snow and Charming.

“Emma, sorry about that. I was about to step outside and put an end to it.” Charming said looking a little guilty.

Emma paid him no mind instead turned to her mother asking. “I’m only going to ask you this nicely once mom, please stop nagging me about where I live or how I spend my time. And stop trying to hook me up with every man in town. I can find my own dates.  And I’d also appreciate you not hanging out with that fairy so much. She puts ideas into your head, I swear.”

“I’m sorry Emma. I knew she was going to step over the line. Regina has been doing really well, better than I thought she could despite my continued fears.” Snow tried to apologize.

“I need a favor. Regina and I are going home and Henry’s staying. Can you two keep an eye on him?” Emma bluntly asked.

“Sure.” Charming replied and Snow nodded yes.

“Thanks.” Emma replied walking away to find Regina.

She found the brunette with her coat on, Emma’s coat in her hand while watching Henry play laser tag in Belle’s front yard with a dozen other kids.  Emma walked up to stand next to Regina silently watching Henry run around.

“Everything okay?” Regina asked Emma quietly.


“Ready to go home?”


Emma used her magic to freeze everyone in place but Henry. It was one of the family projects they had been working on. Henry ran over to them flushed, sweating and panting.

“What’s up!”

“We’re going home. Your grandparents will be watching you, let your grandfather know when you’re ready and he’ll drive you home.” Emma told him.

“Oh, okay! Thanks mom. Bye mom, see you guys later!” Henry gave them both a hug then ran off as soon as he did everything started moving again.

Emma said goodbye to lots of people as they left. With Regina driving the drive home was quiet. They went inside changed into comfortable clothes then met in the kitchen. Emma poured them both ciders while Regina made two plates of Chicken and Dumplings. They took everything into the TV room sitting next to each other in the center of the couch. Emma used her magic to levitate a movie off the shelf and into the VHS player.

After they ate the movie was done, Regina got up to take the dishes to the kitchen and Emma followed with their glasses.

“Are you going to tell me what he said? I know it bothered you, I saw you right after. You should have come to talk to me.” Regina commented rinsing the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher.

“I don’t think you want to know. And I don’t want to talk about it. That guy pisses me off. He can never accept responsibility for his own actions. Ugh!” Emma was still a little pissed about it.

“At least he hasn’t had a chance to rub off on Henry yet.” Regina commented.

“Are you okay? The Blue Fairy can really be a really big bitch.” Emma said watching Regina’s face.

“Yes, I am. Thank you for coming to my rescue. I felt cornered.”

“That’s what it looked like.”

“You know what though. I didn’t think about retaliating in a violent murder death kill manner at all.” Regina confessed and Emma grinned.

“See! That’s good. What the hell does the Blue Fairy know? Nothing, that’s what. I’ll make my own damn happy ending.” Emma stated and Regina laughed.

“No, I mean it. I’m tired of everyone meddling in my life, dictating what I do, who I love and all that. I’m going to choose for myself.”

“Me too!” Regina agreed loving the idea.

“How about we open up a bottle of wine and put in another movie.” Regina suggested trying to change the subject.

“Okay.” Emma easily gave in, she was still thinking about what Hook said yet wasn’t ready to share it with Regina yet. They opened a bottle of red, popped some popcorn and got settled in for another movie. However after the first glass Regina paused the movie, and turned to Emma giving her a curious look asking. “Okay what is it? I know you’re holding something back. You’re practically radiating secret right now.”

Emma remained silent while staring at Regina with a hopeful puppy dog look, sometimes it got Regina to give in. Not this time.

“Nope. Spill it. What?”

“Okay, fine. Neal insinuated something and when I vented to Hook about it.” Emma began and was immediately interrupted by Regina.

“Vented to Hook about it?”

“I went into the kitchen for a drink he walked in, we started talking. Anyway, I told Hook what Neal said and Hook told me everyone thought it was true.”

“What does everyone think?” Regina asked narrowing her eyes at Emma.

“I told him it wasn’t true.” Emma pointed out draining her glass and reaching for the wine bottle refilling it.

“Spill it Emma.”

“Ah shit. Regina everyone thinks we’re…in a romantic sexual relationship.” Emma said looking really uncomfortable.

“What?” Regina asked suddenly confused.

“Yeah.” Emma replied raising her hands up in surrender and confusion.

“If that were true why would Snow be pushing all those men on you and what about all those guys hitting on me tonight?” Regina pointed out.

Emma laughed nodding in agreement. “I know. Hook says my parents are the only ones who don’t think that and everyone else has been placing bets. Hook lost money.”

“Why would they think that? Is it because we live in the same house? Because were finally friends? Finally getting along?” Regina asked leaning back on the couch pressing up next to Emma.

“Maybe, I don’t know. But it did confirm Hook’s a gossip.” Emma commented laughing.

“I’m having a hard time getting use to the khakis and loafers. It’s an odd look on a man with a silver hook for a hand.” Regina added and they both laughed.

Nothing more was said about it as they went back to watching the movie and drinking wine. They finished the bottle with Regina lying out on the couch using the right end as a pillow with Emma sitting at her feet. Over the course of the movie Emma started leaning toward Regina until she was lying behind the brunette then eventually laying on Regina using the brunette’s hip and stomach as a pillow. Both women fell asleep like that and later when Henry finally came home that’s how he found them.

Henry watched his mom’s sleep for a long moment grinning, he grabbed a blanket throwing it over the both of them and made sure the house was locked up before going to bed. Upstairs Henry pulled out a thin unremarkable notebook and his pencil. Opening the book the first page read, Operation SwanQueen: Getting my Mom’s Together. Henry made a few new notes.

The rumors of Emma and Regina having gotten together began by accident, a girl Henry’s age asked about the possibility of  his mom’s getting together and it made Henry think about it for the first time. Henry said he wouldn’t mind, as long as both his moms were happy. Someone overheard that and misunderstood. For Henry it planted the idea in his mind and once he really thought about it and started watching his mom’s together he noticed, they already were happy—with each other. That’s when he got the idea for his latest secret mission.

Regina woke up first. Lying on her back she felt something, someone heavy on top of her. Prying her eyes open Regina glanced down to see an arm and leg thrown over her pinning her in place, a glance to the left and spotted a mess of blonde hair. Emma! Emma was asleep on top of her! Regina woke up quickly and realized not only was Emma Swan asleep on her, the blonde’s face was pressed into her cleavage and their legs intertwined.

Trying to remember how they got like this Regina lay still enjoying the small fact that at least she was comfortable. And it hit Regina, the last time she had lain in anyone’s arms was Graham. A wash of heavy guilt rolled through Regina and she finally felt motivated to move. However as soon as she did Emma held her tighter pressing her face even more into Regina’s breasts. It was cute and Regina giggled, the motion finally woke Emma up.

“What? What’d I miss?” Emma asked immediately lifting her head up from Regina’s chest, her eyes still closed.

Regina laughed a little more grinning from ear to ear. Emma slowly opened her eyes finally realizing exactly where she was. The blonde’s eyes grew big for a moment then they narrowed as she grinned wickedly.

“You said you weren’t ticklish, right?” Emma asked not moving.

“Emma, don’t you dare.” Regina warned trying to sound intimidating but it never worked on the blonde anymore.

Emma’s smile got bigger and Regina started to squirm trying to get out from under the blonde. Then without warning Emma launched a full on tickle attack. Swift fingers found sensitive ribs and Regina howled with laughter until she had tears in her eyes. Emma laughed keeping the attack going no matter how Regina squirmed until they both rolled off the couch and on to the floor getting tangled up in the blanket.

The doorbell rang and Henry went downstairs to answer it, he could hear his moms laughing and playing with each other in the TV room. Opening the door revealed Hook carrying a covered picnic basket.

“Hi Henry, Granny sent me over with breakfast. Are your mom’s home? Wait, what is that? What’s going on?” Hook asked noticing the very loud laughter coming from inside the house.

Henry smiled at Hook taking the basket, “Oh that’s just my mom’s goofing around.”

Then as Hook was about to ask another question Emma and Regina ran by in circles heading to the kitchen, both had very messy bed hair, Emma was in just her pajama bottoms and her dark blue tank top while Regina was in her pajama’s with the top unbuttoned and hanging loose revealing a sky blue tank top underneath. Emma was trying to take off Regina’s pajama top to tickle Regina more and Regina managed to doge Emma and turn the tables by swiftly and suddenly yanking down Emma’s pajama bottoms then rushing off to the kitchen. Leaving Emma standing there showing off her bright red panties.

“Hey! No fair Regina!” Emma shouted stopping to pull her pants up only then glancing at the open door with her son and Hook watching. Hook met her eyes and smirked very amused. Emma narrowed her eyes at Hook and walked over to him and Henry.

“Look mom, Granny sent over breakfast.” Henry told Emma, she smiled at her son replying.

“That’s great, why don’t you go take the basket into the kitchen. Careful you mom’s in a playful mood this morning.”

Henry nodded and rushed off with the basket. Hook couldn’t stop grinning, Emma narrowed her eyes at him waiting for him to say it.

“So what was that you were trying to convince me of last night? Something about nothing going on?” Hook asked laughing.

“Bye Hook, tell Granny we said thanks.” And with that Emma shut the door in Hook’s face.

Emma walked into the kitchen to find Henry and Regina going through the contents of the basket. A pot of coffee brewing on the counter, tantalizing Emma with its wonderful smell.

“Anything good?” Emma asked.

“Granny packed us our favorites!” Henry told her with excitement and then began setting out their individually covered breakfast plates on to the table.

Regina retrieved silverware while Emma grabbed mixed fruit jam, butter and an orange juice bottle for Henry from the refrigerator. They set the breakfast table together with Emma pouring two cups of coffee for herself and Regina setting it down next to their plates. They sat down as a family and enjoyed their breakfast.

As soon as they were done they made Henry go back upstairs to pack for his sleepover at the Tillman’s house. Set up the week before over a dozen kids would be camping out in Hansel and Gretel’s backyard with only their dad and three dwarves as supervision. It was planned to last all day, all night and into the next afternoon. Henry was beyond excited. When Henry was ready to head over Emma slipped on some jeans and drove him. Emma walked him to the Tillman front door and made sure to thank Mr. Tillman for volunteering his time and house for the kids get together. Mr. Tillman was quick to remind Emma that he still owed her for bringing his kids back to him. It was the reason why Emma drove Henry over instead of Regina, it was out of respect for Mr. Tillman and the delicate peace forged with the people of Storybrooke.

When Emma returned to the house she found Regina in her gardening outfit (one of her designer outfits she lost luster for) working out in the fruit grove pruning her apple tree. Regina was softly singing to the apple tree, Emma stood there at the back door quietly listening. Emma had only ever heard Regina since once before, the brunette had a beautiful voice. Then Emma listened to the lyrics and realized Regina was singing the Sarah Sanderson song “Come Little Children” from Hocus Pocus, a movie they watched with Henry a few days before. Emma thought Regina singing that song to her precious apple tree was too funny and burst out laughing.

“What? What’s so funny?” Regina asked finally noticing Emma was there.

Emma didn’t know how to put it at first then she grinned laughing more as she tried to explain, “Oh just you singing that song out here to your apple tree. I thought it was funny.”

Regina stopped to think about and started chucking, “I just realized how it must look. Good thing it was you and now Snow who caught me singing it. She’d think I had something devious planned and would insist on keeping Henry for at least a week.”

Emma laughed nodding in agreement then added, “Shoot I was more impressed you liked that movie. I thought you’d be against such depictions of witches.”

“It was a child’s movie, I knew not to take it seriously. I thought it was funny.”

“Really?” Emma asked giving Regina a look making it clear she didn’t fully believe her.

“Okay it also made me think about, what I could have done if I had sisters to rely on.” Regina commented getting a wicked smile.

“Now that’s more like it. For a second there I was a little worried you were sick or something.” Emma teased. Regina laughed grinning at Emma and continued to prune her apple tree. Emma continued to watch her quietly for a long moment. “Regina?”

 “Yes Emma?”

“Will you sing that song one more time for…me?”

“Why?” Regina asked turning around to look the blonde in the face.

Emma blushed admitting, “I like it when you sing. You should more often, you have a beautiful voice.”

This time Regina blushed, she turned her head away from Emma so the blonde couldn’t see. Keeping her eyes on her apple tree Regina started singing the song again.  Emma used her magic to make light harp music flow into the fruit grove to accompany Regina’s very hypnotic voice. Emma was drawn to her feet and over to Regina.

She stood there listening to Regina’s angelic voice, emotions, ideas and realizations that had been lingering on the fringe of Emma’s mind and heart suddenly came into focus and her heart clenched. In that moment Emma understood, she wanted to kiss Regina. Not like she had back on Neverland, no this time Emma wanted to kiss Regina—for real. Maybe Hook wasn’t that far off as she thought he was. Emma thought about her own behavior and finally understood what most people had already seen. Now all she needed was to make sure Regina felt the same way.

As Regina finished the song, she noticed Emma standing behind her. Turning around Emma didn’t step back, she stayed put only a single hand span from Regina and to Regina’s confusion the soft harp music picked up some light hand drums continuing on.  “Emma?”

“Dance with me Regina.” Emma asked softly looking the brunette in the eyes.

“You dance?” Regina tried to tease until she looked up in to Emma’s eyes and saw how serious the blonde was. Emma pressed even closer offering her hands while keeping her eyes locked with Regina’s. The brunette looked surprised and a little confused yet still took Emma’s hands letting the blonde lead. They both slipped into an easy waltz.

“I didn’t know you could dance.” Regina commented privately impressed by how well Emma moved in time with her, it was flawless.

“I took lessons once when I was hunting down a skipped bail. Impressed?” Emma asked this time purposely flirting with the brunette.

“Actually yes but then again you always surprise me.”

Emma smiled and twirled Regina then brought her close again, wrapping one arm around Regina’s waist. Being so suddenly close their lips were almost touching Regina was slammed with electric intensity. One moment she was goofing off with Emma the next she was staring deeply into Emma’s eyes desperately trying to control her suddenly rampant desire and not kiss Emma right then and there.

“Emma?” Regina whispered.

“Are we crazy Regina?” Emma asked deadly serious.

“Well…yes. We’d have to be to get where we are today.” Regina replied smiling, she hoped the loaded moment would calm only Emma gripped her a little tighter.

“Are you happy?”

“How so?”

“Happy with your life right now? Being back in Storybrooke, having Henry back? Having…me…in  your life? Are you happy?” Emma pressed.

“Yes. I’m almost afraid to admit it out loud in fear someone will take it away but I am happy.” Regina admitted.

“Why? Is it because we’re back in Storybrooke? You have Henry back?”

“Yes but it’s more than that Emma. What are you asking?” Regina asked forcing them to come to a stop.

“Regina…do I make you…happy?” Emma asked nervously.

Stunned by the question Regina didn’t have an answer at first, she took a moment to actually think about it. Emma grew even more nervous and started to pull back. Regina tightened her grip holding Emma in place.

“Did you mean what you said last night? About choosing for yourself?” Regina asked.

“Yeah I meant it.”

“We can do that? Break the rules?” Regina asked, now she was clutching tightly to Emma afraid she would float away if she didn’t hold on.

“Regina, we’ve done nothing but break rules. Why stop now?”

Regina smiled looking down, when she looked up again she had tears in her eyes. “You’re right.”

“Wait! What was that? I never thought I would hear those words come out of your mouth. Say it again.” Emma teased.

“Emma Swan you were right…this one and only time.” Regina replied and they both laughed.

“You…do make me happy Emma. I don’t know how or when…but I see it now.” Regina admitted looking a little shaken.

“Do…I make you happy?” Regina asked nervously.

Emma smiled big and nodded yes.

“What about Henry? This could ruin everything?” Regina pointed out looking slightly terrified.

“Or it could be exactly what we both need. How about we worry about Henry after we know…about us for certain.” Emma suggested, she was worried about what Henry would think too but not enough to stop.

“What do you want to do about it? About us?” Emma asked.

Once the question was out there both women had hard time breathing, both hearts beat so hard and fast in their chest for a moment it was all they could hear. Then Regina took a calming breath and told Emma. “I think we choose for ourselves. Take fate by the hand and break every rule.”

Emma smiled and leaned in kissing Regina gently on the lips. Flush with an instant rush of excitement, electric sparks, shooting stars and the world spinning so fast, their world would never be the same. 

Softest lips they had ever felt pressed against their own opening a floodgate of desire, passion and lust. Hungrily they opened their mouths leading with dancing tongues as they deepened the kiss. Emma gripped Regina’s waist a little tighter while her other hand went up into the brunette’s thick tresses, Regina had the softest silkiest hair, the softest skin. Emma felt on fire and drowning all at the same time; desperate for breath yet relief was only found through Regina’s lips, through Regina’s hands. Everything faded away, the world didn’t exist as the impossible became destiny.  

When lack of oxygen got in the way they pulled apart enough to breathe while still holding on to each other tight. Both women were dazed, totally overwhelmed by the intensity of the moment. By the intensity of the kiss.

“Stars Emma.” Regina whispered breathlessly.

“Stars?” Emma asked panting.

“Kissing you made me see stars.” Regina confessed then added grinning happily. “I’ve never seen stars kissing anyone before. And I’ve never felt the word spin either. Did the world spin for you?” Regina asked looking completely surprised.

“Holy crap…yeah. What does this mean?” Emma asked wide eyed and worried. This was bigger than a crush, bigger than lust or desire, this was something more. Something both women first encountered in Neverland and had been ignoring ever since. They couldn’t pretend anymore, holding on to each other tight they realized in the same moment there was no going back only moving forward.

“This means we head inside before your mother does one of her random checkups. Last thing she needs to see is me ravishing you in the backyard.”

Emma laughed and it broke the serious tension of the moment. She added smirking, “Yeah that would be bad. But we don’t have to head inside.”

Regina gave her an odd look. Emma waved her hand using her magic to create a magical bubble, a false front to give the illusion to anyone outside that the yard was empty and quiet. Thus insuring they would have absolute privacy.

Enjoying the direction Emma was heading in Regina took it one step further bringing out Emma’s bed to sit under the apple tree. Emma laughed and Regina pointed out. “Not on the grass! It’ll get in my hair.”

Emma laughed. Regina leaned in kissing Emma gently pulling the blonde toward the bed and suddenly stopped. “Emma?”

“Yes Regina?”

“I’ve never…been with a woman before. And it’s been a really long time since I’ve had sex.” Regina wanted to be honest, this was incredibly new territory and she was terrified she’d make a mistake.

Emma knew who she talking about but didn’t say his name, that would ruin the moment. Instead Emma tried to keep things light and find out something important. “So you’ve never fooled around with a certain blonde fairy?”

“Emma! No, I didn’t.” Regina playful slapped Emma in the arm making the blonde giggle and mumble. “Good.”

Emma pulled Regina close looking her in the eyes she assuring Regina.

“It doesn’t matter. I’ve experimented with women twice before, both one night stands. Everyone after Neal was a one night stand. I don’t want any more one night stands.” Emma said in a rush.

“Emma…I don’t know what to do?” Regina admitted.

“Anything you want.” Emma replied, both times with women were odd, strange and fun the same as it was with the random men she had been with.

“What if…what if I’m not enough?” Regina asked showing Emma how vulnerable she was. Emma leaned over kissing her lightly on the lips then assured her. “You are already enough, and we’ve only kissed. Just do what feels natural, the rest will come.”

For some reason Emma knew this time, this sexual experience would be better. And the simple honest words of encouragement did the trick, Regina brightened and got this super hungry look in her eyes.

“Okay.” Regina breathlessly agreed grabbing Emma by the shirt and kissing her senseless.

No more words were spoken as they fell back onto the bed. Regina took the lead kissing Emma all over, her hands and tongue wandering everywhere. Things became a blur of need with kisses, nibbles, and licks as Regina grew impatient and used her magic to strip Emma down to nothing. When Emma realized she was naked she raised one eyebrow at Regina and used her own magic to relieve the brunette of her own clothing. Both of them having magic made thing’s very interesting and fun.

“Wow.” Emma whispered eyes wide in awe. She had never seen Regina naked before, it left Emma dumb all she could manage was a blown away. “You are so beautiful.”

“Only when I’m naked?” Regina asked raising one eyebrow at Emma.

“No, all the time. I just couldn’t keep it in anymore.” Emma admitted.

Regina grinned then started using her fingertip to trace lines over Emma’s chest then around each breast and areola. All normal conversation stopped. Emma started breathing heavily as Regina teased her skin leaving a blazing trail.

“You said anything I wanted, right?” Regina pressed in a husky voice, watching Emma’s reactions closely.

“Yes.” Emma weakly managed as Regina began teasing her naked hips.

Pleased with the reaction she was getting Regina leaned down reaching out with her pink tongue to trace lines over Emma’s sensitive ear, then collar bone down to pert breast and hard nipples. The more Regina ran her tongue over Emma the more she liked it and wanted to taste even more of the blonde. Regina sucked on Emma’s nipples her tongue wandering all over while her hand went lower seeking out soft blonde curly hair and slick wet folds.

“Oh, god Regina!” Emma called out her whole body reacting to deft fingers slipping in and briefly touching upon Emma’s clitoris.

Regina grinned watching enthralled as Emma began panting and twitching as she dipped her fingers in again and again. Before today Regina was a selfish lover, she was all about taking pleasure not giving pleasure. Yet today Regina found herself in a new predicament, today she wanted to please Emma first. Regina was so turned on by touching Emma, kissing Emma, tasting Emma, it was so sensual, sexy and addicting. The more Emma turned to mush under Regina’s explorations the more Regina wanted to push it, she wanted to send Emma over the edge, taste Emma completely.

“Are you sure you’ve never done this before?” Emma panted barely able to keep her eyes open.

“Yes. Why? Am I doing okay?” Regina asked licking the tip of Emma’s nipple while playing with the Blonde’s clit. Emma couldn’t speak all she could was nod her head yes with great enthusiasm.

For such a tiny body part, it was so smooth to the touch and so responsive. Regina was fascinated, she could feel how close Emma was and pushed her fingers a little lower, dipping a little deeper. Emma couldn’t speak coherently all she could do was open her legs and pant Regina’s name a few times. Taking a chance Regina dipped two fingers deeper until she pushed inside of Emma so wet, so warm, and so sexy. Emma begged for more and Regina pushed deeper then pulled out pushing in again and again until Emma finally tipped over the edge calling out Regina’s name.

Emma rolled over mid orgasm to grab onto Regina to ride out the waves of pleasure. Pressing her face into the crook of Regina’s neck it took Emma a while to calm her breathing or regain her sight.

“Holy crap that was intense. I thought I was going to black out for a second.” Emma panted holding on to Regina.

“I did good?” Regina asked nervous.

Emma looked up at her and laughed with a huge grin. “You did better than good. It was the most intense orgasm I’ve ever had. I saw more than stars I saw the whole galaxy. How did you do that?”

Regina looked surprised and shrugged, she had no idea what she was doing she was winging it and was so glad it was enough to make Emma orgasm.

“I don’t know. I like touching you.” Regina admitted shyly.

“My turn?” Emma asked getting her second wind quickly. She was very eager to show Regina what little she knew. Regina laughed and Emma took that as permission. Pulling Regina close they started kissing again, Emma took the opportunity to trace almost every spot on Regina with her tongue. Making a blazing trail over the brunette’s breasts down to bare hips, Regina twitched and broke out into a sweat.

“Wow…Emma…is that what it felt like for you?” Regina asked panting a little, she was having a hard time keeping her eyes open the further down Emma’s tongue wandered.

“Yes. Want to feel something even better?” Emma teased and Regina nodded yes.

Emma used the tip of her tongue to trail a path across both hips then lower to firm thighs. Emma could smell Regina’s musk making her drool, excited and very eager she leaned in reaching out with her tongue gently licking smooth folds hidden by silky black curly hair. Regina bucked under her, Emma used both hands taking firm grip of the brunette’s hips holding them in place and pressed forward searching for the small nub with the tip of her tongue.

“Oh…my…Emma! Oh Emma! Oh Emma! Oh Emma!” Regina began to pant and tremble.

This was totally brand new for Regina, no one had ever done to her what Emma was now doing. Regina couldn’t think, couldn’t move, could barely breath, she was helpless as the orgasm hit. She saw nothing but bright white blinking stars, she couldn’t hear anything or speak, Regina came close to blacking out only Emma’s grip on her kept her tethered to the world. Never in her life had Regina experienced something so intense, so mind shattering, so beyond herself and everything she knew. A merging of mind, heart and soul it was in that moment she lost who she was and was reborn again. Regina would never be the same.

Once Regina rejoined the world she made sure to show Emma the same kind of attention and they spend the rest of the day making love in the backyard under the apple tree.

Eventually as it grew late and the sun began to set they both remembered they had a dinner party to throw. They used magic to return the bed to the house then to get the house cleaned and ready for the party. Regina made Emma go upstairs to shower and change while she took care of the food. Having lost track of time Regina was forced to resort to magic to procure dinner as well.

“I thought this was supposed to be a home cooked meal?” Emma asked standing in the doorway openly enjoying watching the brunette move around the kitchen. The blonde was wearing tight black pants along with a long sleeve metallic navy blue shirt it was one of Regina’s.

“Well someone kept me occupied all day. So we’ll have to make due.” Regina replied trying to act normal but she could feel Emma’s eyes on her. Turning to glance at the blonde over her shoulder as she popped in some appetizers to warm in the oven, Regina saw the lust and desire clear in the blonde’s eyes and it triggered a deep ache in between her legs. Suddenly all Regina could think about was that Emma was wearing too many clothes.

“How much time do we have?” Regina asked pulling off her apron.

“Two hours, you still need to shower.” Emma pointed out unable to stop herself from hungrily staring at Regina.

“Come with me.” Regina asked reaching out taking Emma’s hand and making the blonde follow her up the stairs.

“Regina…if we get started…we might forget about the party. What would everyone say?” Emma asked undressing as she followed Regina up the stairs.  

“Nothing to our face apparently and nothing that wasn’t true.” Regina commented laughing and giving Emma a seductive smile that made the blonde’s knees weak.

Emma followed Regina to her bedroom then into the shower where they lost track of time again. It wasn’t until the doorbell rang they finally stopped and turned off the water. Emma and Regina used magic to give themselves time to get dressed and finish the last minute preparations without their guest knowing, all who were waiting outside the front door. By the time Emma opened the door with a huge grin, everything was done and no one was the wiser.

“Hi everyone! Come on inside!” Emma greeted them holding the door open.

In walked Granny and Red, followed by Belle, who arrived alone Rumpelstiltskin was off having a private evening with his son; Archie, Abigail and Fredrick then Grumpy and Nova. Last in were Snow and Charming.

“Hi Honey, wow you look really nice tonight.” Snow said with a big smile gesturing to the simple yet elegant dark blue dress.

“Thanks mom, it’s brand new.” Emma replied hugging Snow then Charming.

“Any problems at the station today dad?” Emma asked Charming as she walked them in.

Regina had already taken everyone’s coats and was busy playing bartender for everyone.

“No, everything was quiet.” Charming replied.

“Emma can you get the appetizers from the kitchen, please?” Regina asked as she walked by with drinks for Archie and Red in her hands.

“Okay. Excuse me.” Emma replied walking away from her parents to rush into the kitchen returning a moment later with two filled trays.

For the first hour Regina and Emma were busy entertaining, filling drinks and refilling appetizer trays. Watching them closely, were everyone else at the party especially Red, Belle and Archie.

“It’s been a few times now but I still can’t believe I’m attending a dinner party in this house. Willingly!” Archie joked and they all laughed agreeing.

“Things are so different now. I still forget sometimes and I have to remind myself. If someone told me six months ago this is where we’d all be I’d never believe them.”  Red stated taking a sip of her red wine.

“She’s like a completely different person. If I didn’t know her from before I would think she had a twin.” Belle commented and Archie added. “Oh completely, it’s a big change. Fast too, faster than I thought possible.”

“That’s because she’s not the Evil Queen anymore, she’s not even the old Mayor Mills she’s…just Regina now.” Red said in a low voice not wanting the hostesses to hear her use the EQ term.

“I wonder why that is?” Belle asked.

“I think it’s because she’s happy.” Red said with a firm nod of her head.

All three of them paused to watch Regina for a moment the brunette was standing just outside the room in the hall with Emma. They had paused to talk for a moment getting close so they wouldn’t have to raise their voices. They almost looked like they were about to kiss when they laughed and pulled back and continued to talk. It didn’t matter what they said the three of them could see that Emma and Regina were simply beaming at each other with obvious love and joy. It was a look all three had noticed not long after they returned from Neverland. A look of love only reserved for each other and for Henry. None of them had ever seen Regina look so happy, or be so much fun with a great sense of humor, or that Emma could be playful, relaxed, content, clear headed and cool. Even Henry had blossomed into an outgoing popular boy with lots of friends. Together they made a beautiful happy family.

“If Regina can get her happy ending, we all can.” Red said with a hopeful smile.

Archie raised his glass and toasted. “To second chances.”

“To second chances.” Belle and Red replied raising their glasses and together they drank.

Across the room Granny was talking to Grumpy and Nova about what Hook saw earlier when Charming walked over.

“What was that about Emma?” Charming asked with his typical bright over eager smile.

“Oh, that’s right. You didn’t hear about what Hook saw.” Grumpy commented trying not to laugh.

“What was it?” Charming asked and Granny, Grumpy and Nova looked like they wanted to run away. “Uh, I had Hook bring by breakfast this morning and when Henry answered the door he heard a big ruckus going on then watched as Regina pulled Emma’s pants down in front of the open door showing off some apparently very bright red underwear.”

“And?” Charming asked confused on what the big deal was.

“And there’s been some speculation about what goes on in the house. Or you know between them.” Grumpy tried to say only made Charming more confused. “I don’t understand.”

“David,” Nova began. “Everyone in town thinks Emma and Regina are together.”

Charming was still confused, Granny sighed rolled her eyes then told him bluntly. “Together like you and Snow are together.”

“What?” Charming asked suddenly pale and looking ill as he added. “There’s no way.”

“Charming, have you ever watched the two of them together.” Grumpy pushed and Charming turned to do just that. Emma and Regina walked back into the room with a new bottle of red wine both giving each other secret smiles and looking very much in love and happy.

“Holy crap, Snow’s going to be pissed.” Charming whispered suddenly seeing what everyone else could see.

“You don’t care that your kid’s with her?” Granny asked being very blunt.

“I just want Emma to be happy. I have no choice in it. And…Regina’s not the same person she used to be.” Charming said with a shrug.

“How did you not see it before?” Nova asked curious and so was Grumpy.

“I don’t know. It’s all I can see now.” Charming said sadly and drained his wine glass.

“You’ll get used to it, we all did.” Grumpy replied, giving Charming a sympathy pat on the back.

“Thanks.” Charming replied sarcastically then mumbled. “How am I going to tell Snow?”

“Tell Snow what?” Snow asked walking up with a big happy smile.

“Nothing.” Charming was quick to say and Granny, Grumpy and Nova looked guilty.

“What?” Snow pushed and now even Charming looked guilty.

“We’ll talk after dinner. Okay?” Charming pushed back and to his absolute relief Snow gave in. “Okay.”

“Dinner is ready everyone!” Emma announced with a big smile and all conversations stopped as the party moved to the dining room. Emma rushed back into the kitchen to help Regina bring in the different dishes when she was surprised by the feisty brunette pulling her into a quick passionate dizzying kiss. When Regina let her go, the brunette was quick to fix herself and check her makeup. Satisfied with the way she looked, Regina glanced at Emma grinning then quickly leaned over whispering in Emma’s ear. “I think I love you Emma Swan.”

Regina tried to rush away but Emma was too quick grabbing hold of her waist and keeping her in place to return the quick kiss with one of her own. Emma looked Regina in the eyes telling her. “I know I love you Regina Mills.”

“Not too fast?” Regina asked.

“Just fast enough but we need to tell Henry right away. He should be the first to know.”

“Tomorrow night?”

“Sounds like a plan. Now are you ready for dinner?"

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