Regina felt Emma slowly pulling away and fought the urge to pull her back. “I have to go,” Emma said quietly. Regina nodded, not meeting her eyes. She didn't want to see the look of disappointment that she was sure would be there. The kiss had started as a gentle peck but had quickly grown passionate. Regina still felt the fire of it singing in her veins.
“Hey,” Emma said softly. When there was no reply she repeated, “Hey,” and waited for Regina to look up before she continued.. “Henry will be wondering where I am.” Se smiled at Regina tenderly. “I don't want to go but it is nine o'clock already.”
Regina’s eyes widened as she looked over at the mantel clock. She had been so lost in their kisses that she hadn’t noticed the passing of an hour. Emma planted a playful peck on Regina’s nose. “I don't want to be out too late and have them speculating about what we are doing alone together all this time.”
Regina stiffened and nodded. “Yes, of corse, no one need know about this.”
Emma studied Regina’s face. After a moment she pulled out her phone and dialed. “Hi Mom, things are running a little late here. Do you mind keeping Henry so I won’t have to wake him up to move him?” Emma listened for a moment and then continued. “ Every thing is fine, really. It’s just that mapping out the holidays and all takes more time then I thought.” Emma waited and then continued. “Yea, I know we have a couple of months but I like to just get things out of the way early. So I’ll come by in the morning with clothes and all, ok?” There was a pause and then Emma said, “Ok thanks, bye.”
Emma closed her phone and then looked at Regina sternly. “You have got to stop looking for rejection in everything I do.”
“Of course,” Regina replied stiffly. “I’m glad you aren't rushing off.” She plastered a fake smile on her face. “I do think that if you want to keep us a secret we will need to work on some better excuses.”
“What did I just say?” Emma shook her head. “I don't want you to be my dirty little secret. I just want a little time to get use to us before we are the talk of Storybrooke. I thought we might take things slow.”
Regina’s eyes were a sparkling with emotion when she asked, “So you want us to be a” she paused looking for the right word, “couple?”
Emma placed her forehead gently against Regina’s. "I have waited for two years for you to give me a chance and I just spent the last hour kissing you. Which thing makes it seem like I don't want to be a couple? My God you have me so turned around I just told my mother we were working on our Christmas plans in August!”
The women burst into a cathartic laughter. “I guess we have some things to talk about,” Emma said as they began to snuggle on the couch. “I don't want to rush this.” She stopped for a moment as Regina pulled her in for a skin tingling kisses. “We need to be comfortable together before we face everyone else.”
“I’m pretty comfortable right now.” Regina’s voice was low and sultry.
Emma pulled back a little. “You listed reasons that made you weary of love, but what about me. I started life as trash found by the side of the road. I had a family and then I was just tossed aside, replaced.” Emma got up and walked to the refrigerator for a drink. “Henry’s dad told me he loved me and then the next thing I know I am in jail. Put in jail for his crimes to discover I was pregnant with his kid. If we are going to do this you have to promise it's for keeps.”
Regina closed her eyes. “I want that. I really do. But what if I am bad at it?” She glanced at Emma and then looked away embarrassed.
Emma moved quickly back to the couch. She took Regina’s hands in hers. “We are both coming at this with a lot of baggage. Let’s just agree it is going to work and go for it!”
Regina pulled her hands away. “But what if she’s out there for you? What if she is waiting and I'm in your way?”
“What are you talking about? Who’s waiting for me?”
“Your true love,” Regina said softly. “I know you love me. But what if there is a true love for you? One who isn't a recovering evil queen?”
Emma leaned in for a kiss. After giving and receiving several she said. “Silly woman, I don’t need to break a curse to know you are my one and only.” She rubbed her hand over her heart. “I feel it here.” She leaned in and gave Regina a long slow toe curler of a kiss. “And lots of other places too!” She slowly stood up. “I need to go.”
“Would you like me to send you?” Emma didn’t know exactly where she was so using magic to transport her self to and from Regina’s apartment was not possible for her.”
“Are you kidding,” Emma asked incredulously. “I can’t miss driving the golf cart!”
In the morning when Emma arrived with Henry’s fresh clothes she was greeted by a high five and “Way to go Mom!”
Snow gave a big teary eyed hug saying, “I am so happy for you!” David was standing by and patted her on the shoulder as her mother practically squeeze the life from her.
“Ok, guys, what the heck?” Emma asked once she was free to breath again.
Henry pointed to the book on the counter. Emma looked at puzzled. “Didn’t the title used to be gold?” She was confused by the silver lettering on the cover.
“That is not all that’s changed, look!” Henry turned to the last page shaking with excitement.
Seeing the representation of their first kiss Emma blushed. “Well, I guess we did effect our very on curse in a way,” she mumbled to herself. Then she read the text and grinned up at her mother. “She is so gonna-“
“Don’t say it,” Snow interrupted. “Do. Not. Say it!" She was practically shouting. “She is not going to kill me. If she didn't kill me when I was twelve she is not going to do it now!”
“Why?” Henry asked. “What did you do when you were twelve?”
“Nothing,” Snow said a little too quickly to be honest. “I just meant when I was a kid I was pretty annoying and lived so…”
Emma chuckled, “Nope, not gonna cut it. What did you do?”
Snow blushed. “We had a big party to celebrate one thing or another, not really sure what. There were three other royal families there. The other little princesses were talking about how wonderful their mothers were. They were saying they could do all these great things like sing and dance and stuff. They weren't impressed that Step-mother was an expert horse woman or bow woman.” She took a deep breath. “So I told them she could sing so sweet that birds came out of the trees to be near her.” Snow closed her eyes and shook her head at the memory.
“Of course no one believed me and called me a liar. Father took offense and declared I didn't lie even before he know what I had said. “You should have seen his face when he heard what it was. But worse was Step-mother’s face when he told her to demonstrate. I am not sure what he was going to do when it didn't work. Knowing what I know now, I realize the look on her face was absolute terror.”
“Oh my God,” Emma said. “This is a memory that I didn’t get! What happened?”
“I stepped over to the window and had a quick chat with a bluebird. When she started to sing five of them came in and circled her head the entire time she was singing. Father was so impressed he made her do it at the next royal function as well.”
Henry started to laugh and David and Emma followed suit. The three of them had tears streaming down their face. Snow shook her head and rolled her eyes. Clearly not finding the actual memory as amusing as they did the retelling of it.
Emma finally choked out, “What did she do? She must have done something.”
Snow nodded. “She found a troubadour to coach our voices. She told me that eventually people were going to stop being distracted by the birds and notice her mediocre voice. The next time she was commanded to sing she requested I join her. After that she said she had a sore throat and I sang alone. Of course the birds still came so I sang alone going forward. Eventually people forgot that she had done it at all and I became known for it.”
“But she never said anything about it?” Henry asked still chortling. “Really, the mom I know would have had to say something.”
Snow’s expression became very sad. “She asked why I would embarrass her in such a way. When I told her why she gave me a long searching look. She told me that bragging was common and beneath me. Then she said, ‘You mustn't let the fact that there is nothing special about me be a reflection on you.’ She left the room and never mentioned it again.”
The tree smiling faces turned to frowns at the realization of Regina’s little self worth. “My entire childhood was a farce,” Snow said in despair. “My father was an abusive tyrant and my step-mother a prisoner. A prisoner at the hands of a spoiled thoughtless little brat!”
Emma put her hand on Snow’s back and gently rubbed circles around it. “Mom don’t, it’s true your father was cruel and abusive. There's no excuse for his behavior. But compared to Cora he was a kitten. The woman killed a man just for convincing Regina he cared about her. Regina thinks the guy was probably a social climber but she didn't deserve to see him die right in fount of her. ” Emma wiped a tear from Snow’s face. “As for you, all twelve year-olds are a little selfish.”
“Hey,” Henry said affronted.
Emma ignored him and continued. “You were the first person who ever wanted her for herself. The first person who ever wanted to spend time with her and know her was you. It’s true you wanted her as a mother but not to use her or hurt her just to love and be loved by her.” She gave Snow a kiss on the top of her head. “I know I was mean and angry when I spoke at the trial. I wish I could say that the things I said weren't true, but they were. Just remember every thing, every thing is trumped by one fact. You chose her, for the first time someone chose her.”
Snow pulled Emma in to a hug. “And now you have.”
Emma nodded, “And now I have.” She picked the book back up and read the last page again. “Well, she may not kill you, but she’s gonna be pissed!” At this the tears were replaced by laughter.
“So tell me,” David asked as he reached for a cookie. “are you going to do right by my daughter?”
“I guess that depends on what you mean by ‘do right.’ I certainly don't plan on hurting her.”
“You know what I mean Regina. She loves you and wants it all. Are you going to be her happy ending?”
“Shepard we’ve only just started to come to terms with our feelings. Don't you think you are moving little fast?”
“Come on, the book proves you are true loves. Once you have that why wait?”
“Book, what book?”
“Shit,” David grabbed a cookie and shoved it in his mouth.
David reached for another cookie. Regina slapped his hand and magicked the plate out of reach.
“Umm, didn't you talk to Emma today?”
“No, we have both been rather busy. Apparently all seven dwarfs decided to go on a drunken crime spree at the same time. As deputy you should know this.” Regina stared at him with her eyebrow arched. “I repeat, what book?”
“Nope, not this time. Emma will tell you herself when you see her.” He looked longingly at the plate of cookies and then turned to go.
“Shepherd,” Regina said in a rather sing song voice. “Did I mention that my pasta maker seems to be on the fritz.”
David smiled at her. “It wont work anymore Regina. You have made a rather large tactical error.”
“Oh, really, and what would that be?”
David leaned in and whispered in her ear, “You taught my wife to cook.” He gave her a quick peck on the cheek and sauntered off laughing.
When Regina’s magic told her Emma was in the orchard she went to the door of her home and exited rather then transporting. It was time to let her know where she lived, time to let her in completely. “Hello darling,” Regina said after walking across the blueberry field. The two women smiled at each other.
With a flourish Emma accessed her magic and a small wooden bench appeared next to them. “I’ve been practicing.”
Regina gave her a loving smile, “Good work.” She nodded towards the bag in Emma’s hand. “Whats that?” The women sat down as Emma pulled Henry’s story book out of her bag. Regina rolled her eyes and sighed. “I could go my whole life without seeing that cursed book again.”
Emma smiled. She leaned in and gave Regina a quick kiss on her lips and set the book on her lap. “Its funny you should call it that. Take a look.”
Regina glanced distastefully at the book. And then looked at Emma puzzled. “I thought the title was in gold.”
“It was,” Emma said grinning. “Henry told me that at eight o'clock on Wednesday evening there was a flash of light and the book changed.”
“Eight o'clock Wednesday, are you telling me the book cover was changed by our kiss?”
“It changed more then that Regina, read it.” Emma sat quietly while Regina read the book cover to cover.
Regina read the last page aloud. “The Savior and the Dowager Queen lived happily ever after.” She went to close the book but stopped and stared at the last page. “This is ridiculous,” she said grumpily. “I mean really-“
Emma stopped her before she could get up a full head of steam. “I know the whole Dowager Queen thing is annoying but-“
“Not that,” Regina interrupted her impatiently. “Why The Savior? You are a princess. Why didn't Princess Emma and the Dowager Queen get to live happily ever after?” She stared at Emma as if expecting an answer.
“I think,” Emma said slowly, “that we were able to change the book with true loves kiss. Maybe we could kiss again and see if we can change that part too.”
Regina smiled and leaned in for a kiss. When they looked back at the book it hadn't changed. “Hmm,” said Emma. “Maybe we should try again.” Regina’s face was glowing with mirth as they shared another kiss. And again they found the book had not changed.
“I think that this will take much more effort then we can put forth on this bench.” Said Regina, eyes twinkling She stood up and took hold of Emma’s hand. They walked together across the blueberry field and stopped at Regina’s now visible door. “Are you sure you want to come in?”
“I've never been more sure of anything in my life,” Emma replied. “Are you sure you want to let me in?”
Regina answered with a laugh and pulled Emma in through the door way, in to her home, in to her happy ending.
Snow White turned as her daughter entered the room grumbling. “I think I got everything.” She had just taken her fourth load of supplies to the car. “I can’t believe we need all of this stuff for a simple picnic.”
Snow just smiled, not taking the bait. “Come on Mom, I know Regina is up to something.” Snow shrugged and took one last look around the kitchen before heading out to the car.
Henry and Emma had moved into the apartment with Regina. She had absolutely refused to even consider moving back to the mansion. As a result Snow and David moved in to the mansion. Snow was in heaven cooking in the amazing kitchen that Regina had set up in her former home. And David was in heaven eating her cooking.
“You know what she has planned don't you?”
Snow pursed her lips and made a motion of locking them with a key.
“Come on you’re my mother tell me.”
Snow turned and locked gazes with her daughter. “I survived making her sing with birds flying around her head. I survived naming her the Dowager Queen. I know without a doubt if I ruin this surprise she will end me. So no Emma I will not screw up her surprise and start the whole ‘I will ruin your happy ending thing’ all over again.”
Emma shrugged, “Ya can’t blame a girl for trying.”
When they arrived at the park Emma stood next to the car in shock. She had been there last week and she was sure there hadn't been a softball field like there was today. Instead of the small family picnic she was expecting she saw a large crowd. Many of them were wearing matching shirts either purple that read Storybooke Royals or green that read Granny’s Sluggers. Snow laughed at Emma’s shocked face as she took off her windbreaker revealing her own purple shirt.
Emma scanned the crowed until her eyes fell on Regina handing out equipment. When she saw Emma looking at her Regina smiled and jogged over. She handed Emma a purple shirt and kissed he quickly on the lips. “Put this on,” she said and quickly ran back to directing the action on the field.
Regina looked excited as she took a wireless microphone and walked to the pitchers mound. "Ladies and Gentlemen thank you so much for coming to Storybrooke Co-Ed Softball league’s inaugural game!”
David walked over to Emma enjoying the still shocked look on his daughters face. “She really loves you.”
Emma nodded completely overwhelmed. “How did she do it? Honestly how did she find this many people who want to play soft ball?”
David laughed, “Cookies, she baked lots and lots of cookies!”
“I guess I never knew how many people in this town would cave for her cooking.”
David scanned the crowd of people. Three years ago they would have allowed Snow to put Regina to death. Three years ago they called her the evil queen. Now, many of them call her their friend.
“Well, now you know.” He said smiling.
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