She Promised Me Love

26

Emma had sent Henry back to Regina and was talking to some other guests as she tried to make her way over to her little brother to congratulate him on his birthday. But people were insistent on talking to her. Regina watched this bemusedly. She was actually almost giddy with happiness just because Emma had made it a point to come over to her and Henry, to talk to them, to show the assembled room that things between them had changed, were still changing.

“How did you like the wine, Henry? Was the vintage to your liking?” she asked Henry as he rejoined her.

“It was only a small cup, it’s not that big a deal,” he said grumpily, but when he chanced a look at her, he must have seen her smile. “You’re not mad?”

“You know, I remember a different ball when your grandma first boozed. It was quite amusing,” Regina said with a smirk.

“What did she do?” Henry asked eagerly.

“She... no, I really can’t tell you, not until you’re a little older,” she teased.

Henry rolled his eyes. “Well, I’m not trying to get hammered or anything, I just...,” he looked over to where a small group of young women stood, giggling among each other. Regina couldn’t say which of the doubtlessly royal teens had caught his fancy, they were all beautiful - the way they were supposed to be.

“Ah, just a little bit of liquid courage? Henry, it’ll still be awhile before there will be dancing and if you want to impress any of these ladies you will have to dance,” Regina informed him.

He looked back a little queasy at her. “Dance?” he asked.

She confirmed it with a wide smile. “Courting is an old art, Henry. Dancing is the first acceptable advance on a woman - or a man. The first touch of hands, the first embrace. It’s been too long since I’ve done it,” she mused and was once again looking over at Emma. She wished that Emma would have the courage to ask her to dance later.

“Don’t worry, mom, I hear it’s like riding a bicycle,” Henry interrupted her thoughts.

Regina whipped her head around at him.

He grinned cheekily at her.

“Very clever, sonny. You’ll watch that mouth of yours,” she told him but her good mood wasn’t challenged at all by his joking with her.

“Are you gonna curse me if I don’t?” he asked, still grinning.

“I might. How would you like to have acne for the rest of your life?”

“MOM!” Henry exclaimed.

Regina laughed. She pulled him to her by his arm. “Don’t challenge me, son. I may not be evil anymore but that doesn’t mean I’m all good,” she said with a twinkle in her eyes.

Henry lay an arm around her shoulders and pulled her close for a moment, then he let her go again a little self-consciously. “You’re better than you think you are,” he whispered.

Regina looked up at him. “I guess I’m better than I thought I could ever be again, that has to be enough for both of us.”

“For the three of us,” Henry corrected.

Regina’s eyes strayed to Emma and she smiled. She patted Henry’s shoulder but didn’t comment on his words.

“So, which one of the young ladies has caught your fancy, son? The blonde, the brunette, the redhead or the raven-haired?” Regina asked looking at the group of giggling girls again.

“Well, I guess you could say we have a similar taste: I like blondes, too,” he said boldly and took a step back. “I think I’m going to talk to Granny a little, excuse me,” he added quickly.

Regina squinted her eyes at him. “Akne,” she threatened and he retreated even faster.


Emma had finally made her way to the thrones and knelled down on the lower of the two steps leading up to them.

Killlian giggled as she did that. “Emma,” he said.

“Prince Killian,” she gave back formally and he laughed some more. “I wish you a very happy fourth birthday, health and comfort, and the love of your family and your people, always.”

Killian crawled off his throne and came to stand before his still kneeling sister. They smiled at each other, they were matching smiles, matching green eyes.

“You look like me,” he said indicating their similar attire.

“You like it?”

He nodded.

“Do I get a hug?” She then asked and he practically fell into her opening arms. They both laughed. Then Emma picked her little brother up and placed him on her hip. “I want to introduce you to someone special, okay?”

Killian nodded.

Emma walked them over to where Regina stood. “Prince Killian, Lady Regina. Regina, Prince Killian,” she introduced them formally.

“I know her,” Killian told her quietly.

“You do?”

“Yes, Prince Killian and I are old friends,” Regina said and smiled.

“She gave me that huge present over there,” Killian let Emma in on the secret.

She looked over to where Killian’s birthday presents were piled up. Next to the table stood a present on the floor that still reached higher than the table and Emma lifted a questioning eyebrow at the other woman.

Regina smiled.

“That was very generous of you,” Emma said. “How did you get it here from Storybrooke?”

“You might have noticed that Archie is here tonight. He came this morning and brought it with him,” Regina told Emma who looked around for the tall, red-headed psychiatrist. She discovered him and he waved at her momentarily. She smiled and nodded at him.

“That was very nice of him,” she commented.

“He is a very nice man,” Regina gave back and they looked at each other for a long moment.

Then Killian brought Emma’s attention back to him when he leaned toward her ear and whispered, “Regina is really pretty.”

Emma looked at him and then smiled brightly. “That she is, little brother,” she agreed.

Killian grinned. Emma tickled him as Regina looked on quizzically.

“I am what exactly?” she asked as no answer was forthcoming.

“Pretty,” Emma simply said.

“Oh, that is sweet of you... Killian. I knew there was going to be a Charming I would like some day,” she stroked his fair hair.

He giggled. “You like Emma, too,” he said in a loud little boy’s voice.

Emma laughed. She ignored the faces that were turning toward them all around and squeezed Killian. “You little rascal,” she murmured and tickled him some more.

He squawked.

“Did you pay him to say that?” Regina asked smiling bemusedly at the two.

“No, though he would probably have been susceptible to the bribery. He just says what he sees,” Emma informed Regina with a wide grin.

She wasn’t paying attention to their surroundings at all, all she saw was Regina. And Regina was looking back. Time ceased to matter, so did space. It felt like floating to Emma, until Killian spotted someone in the crowd he knew, “There’s Robin,” he called out, right into Emma’s ear.

Emma flinched, but turned as the outlaw entered in what must have been his best clothes. His arm was held in a sling but he still conveyed all the strength of a true hero and he smiled easily as some people started applauding him. He went over to where David stood with Snow, Phillip and Aurora, with Mulan a little to the side looking over her queen and king.

“What is he doing here?” Emma grumbled, then looked a little embarrassed because she had said it out loud.

“Haven’t you heard, the fighting is over? The kingdoms won, my former men lost,” Regina informed Emma about the news.

“Who told you?” she asked.

“I overheard two maids talking about how heroic Robin has been, that he was injured during the fight and still fought on,” Regina said with a smile.

Emma noticed how Killian teetered nervously in her arms. “You want down?” she asked him.

Killian nodded. “I wanna go talk to Robin.”

Emma put him down.

He instantly bolted towards his parents and as David saw him coming he crouched to pick him up.

Emma used this moment, when everybody was preoccupied by the hero and the royal family, to turn to Regina.

“Would you join me on the terrace, I think I need a little bit of fresh air,” Emma asked.

Regina looked at her curiously. Then she inclined her head in the affirmative and Emma took her hand, laying it into the crook of her elbow. They maneuvered through some guests toward one of the double doors that led out onto the terrace.

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