It was Friday night, 4:59 PM, and Regina was so tired of being the mayor. When Snow handed her back the town hall keys and practically fled down the front steps, she’d considered it a victory. The fearless princess had been scared off by the American tax code of all things. Now, almost a year later, she too was feeling the pressure of filling out all the paperwork Storybrooke needed to stay safely under the radar. How, exactly, was she supposed to explain expenses like “fairy dust containers” and “weapons for the armory”?
Really this was all Emma’s fault. Emma was the one she couldn’t say no to. Emma was the one who would look at her and beg her to let Snow and Charming have this one thing, even though it was never just one thing. Usually it was one thing every few days. At the worst it was one thing every few hours. Regina gave in every time. Perhaps it was because Emma was no longer one thing either. She wasn’t just Miss Swan, she wasn’t just Henry’s mother, and she wasn’t just Snow’s daughter. She was… well.
The office was subdued and dim. Regina turned off all the lights except for her desk lamp when it started to get dark. Artificial light still had a tendency to give her headaches. Her pen flew across the forms piled in front of her. She was the only one in the whole town who knew how to do the towns taxes, so she always did them by herself. Her fingers were beginning to ache. Perhaps this year was the last year she’d do the papers by hand. Thankfully the clock on the wall ticked over to five o’clock and the egg-timer she’d taken to leaving on her desk rang obnoxiously.
She turned the timer off and stacked the papers neatly before practically flying out the door with her coat and purse. Her car was the last one in the lot. It always felt awfully like her old life when that happened, like she was all alone in the same monotonous loop once again. Regina just wanted to get home so she could wrap herself up in the differentness her life had become. Only then would she shake the stress of the day.
Of course she could’ve used magic to travel. Ever since Emma started practicing her, the purple in her magic had grown lighter and lighter until it was violet, and the blue fairy had deemed her fit to use magic without supervision. Not that she’d needed the blue gnat’s input on how fit she was, and not that the blue fairy knew but she could still summon the dark if she wanted. The Evil Queen would always be a part of her. It just didn’t seem like a necessary part anymore. She drove because the ten minutes within the safety of her Mercedes gave her time to transition from one role to the other. Mayor to mother, leader to lover.
When she arrived home the lights were uncharacteristically off. Usually she had a hard time convincing Henry and Emma that they weren’t the only house in town that needed electricity. They left lights on at all hours, all over, as was their nature. Ever since Emma showed up Henry had become a bit messier, a bit rougher around the edges. Regina tried to be annoyed about it, but she simply couldn’t deny that seeing bits of Emma in their son made her heart melt a little more each day. The fact that all the lights were off in the house spoke volumes.
Regina moved up the walk quickly. Fear was slowly creeping its way up her torso from her belly. Were they gone? As far as she knew they hadn’t had any plans. Even if Henry was at a friends house, Emma would have texted her if she wasn’t going to be home for dinner. The only explanation then was that something awful had happened or that they’d finally done it. They’d finally left her.
Regina stepped into the house carefully, soaking up every detail. Henry’s backpack was gone, but Emma’s keys were in the dish by the door, including the key for the old bug that Emma kept parked behind the shed because it needed such frequent repairs. Regina sighed in relief as she realized the bug was parked there now, and began to look around for the still elusive blonde. Henry gone on a Friday night usually had Emma falling all over her the second she walked in the door.
Regina was just turning to check the study when one of the upstairs floorboards creaked. She smirked to herself and headed for the stairs. So Emma was waiting for her in their bedroom. Perhaps she’d gotten over the awful habit of taking her against the front door the second she got inside, or more often than not on top of the little table next to the hall closet. Regina stepped carefully onto the carpeted second floor and kicked her heels off.
She stepped towards the door and inhaled the scent of vanilla. Something was going on. Vanilla meant candles, and candles were rare indeed. She could see the flickering light around the edge of the door now. Regina nudged her way into the bedroom cautiously. The lights were off, but the room was filled with so many candles it didn’t even matter. Rose petals were scattered across the floor and over the bed, purple ones like she liked, as well as the elongated petals of white lilies.
It took her breath away, though Emma still wasn’t anywhere to be found. She walked further into the room and turned until finally the woman came into view. She was leaning against the bathroom door in nothing but a white button up and shorts. The button up was left open, just like Regina liked it. Emma was sipping slowly from a mug of coffee and had a smug smile on her lips.
“Like it?” She asked. Regina tilted her head to the side and swayed over to the blonde. She let her fingers dance over Emma’s smooth cheek and curl around the back of her neck. Emma’s free hand arrived at the small of her back in short order and tugged her closer. Regina smirked at that. It was a position they ended up in quite a lot, even when they were just being sweet on each other for a second or two.
“You know I like it,” Regina said softly. Emma grinned and leaned forward to kiss her. Regina let Emma’s lips glide over her own for a moment, just relaxing and lazily following along. The usual ferocity of their bedroom activities was absent. Emma liked it quick and messy, even if they were smiling and laughing the entire time. Regina liked to describe it as energetic instead of intense. Emma used the word intense anyway.
“Oh wait,” Emma mumbled against the corner of her mouth. Regina huffed indignantly and rolled her eyes, even though nothing would come of her slight annoyance. She’d always end up giving Emma all the time she needed. It was slightly disappointing when, however, when Emma untangled herself from Regina and hopped over to the dresser. Regina moved to sit on the bed, considering they were going to end up there anyway, and waited patiently.
Emma dug through her drawer of knick-knacks, comics, books, one or two things she always wanted to have on hand, and pulled out a small white box with a red bow. Regina’s eyebrows shot up in surprise. Emma had hidden it in the one place she wouldn’t look, not that she looked through Emma’s drawers intentionally anyway. She did do the laundry though, and would have eventually rearranged things to make way for newly clean articles of clothing. Emma walked back over with the box. There was a shy smile on her face that made Regina’s heart beat faster and Regina couldn’t help but smile fondly back at her.
Emma handed her the box without so much as a word. It was heavy, about the size of an orange. Regina held it carefully, not quite sure what this all meant, but only just aware of the urge to pull away and become cold. She pulled at the ends of the red ribbon and the bow fell apart like water. Very carefully she lifted the lid, and even more carefully she parted the tissue paper she found within.
“Oh,” she said. Emma’s eyes flickered between Regina’s face and the small gift in the box. She was positive Regina would like it, even if it took a few seconds to sink in. Regina lifted the ornate inkwell from the box and studied it closely. It was the standard glass bottle wrapped in swirling silver that as a whole formed the shape of an apple. The stem was part of the lid and the whole thing look masterfully crafted. Regina ran her fingers over it in awe.
“It’s beautiful Emma,” she breathed. Emma grinned wider.
“I knew you’d love it,” she boasted. Regina nodded and set it carefully on the comforter at her side.
“I just wish I knew why,” she said. Emma looked at her in puzzlement. A flash of uncertainty flashed through Regina. Why was Emma looking at her like that?
“Regina,” Emma said gently, “It’s Valentines day.”