Actions

Work Header

it's a sitcom, basically

Chapter Text

Two mornings after their conversation in the kitchen, Henry comes downstairs with green hair.

 

“What did you do to my son’s hair?” Regina accuses, pointing a spatula at Zelena.

 

Zelena looks genuinely surprised though and out of the corner of her eye Regina spots Emma’s sheepish face.

 

“Emma?” Regina quirks an eyebrow at her. “Care to explain?”

 

“I put the dye in Zelena’s shampoo,” Emma defends.

 

“I was out of my shampoo,” Henry groans and buries his head in his hands on the table. “I used Aunt Zelena’s.”

 

“Wait,” Zelena says, looking over at Emma. “Does this mean you’re finally joining in on this prank war?”

 

Emma shrugs. “You messed with my jacket.”

 

“Really? That’s what it took? Messing with your jacket?” Zelena looks surprised and a little like she wishes she’d figured that out earlier.

 

Regina recalls the conversation they'd had about Emma's continued insecurities and hesitance to join the prank war and doubts that the jacket was really the thing that tipped her over the edge. She wonders if this maybe has more to do with their discussion about this being Emma's home the other night. Maybe Emma is starting to feel settled? Across the table, Emma gives her a small, almost shy, smile that seems to confirm Regina’s suspicions.   

 

“Are we going to talk about fixing my hair or what?” Henry asks, interrupting the moment between his mothers. “I can’t go to school looking like this,” he motions with his hand to the situation on top of his head.

 

Regina waves her hand and the green vanishes instantly, Henry’s hair returned to its original brown.

 

“And that’s why you need to use magic for pranks,” Zelena says smugly. “Good luck winning this war, blondie.”

 

Emma frowns unhappily, pouting as she sips her coffee.

 

xxxxxx  

 

Emma shows up at town hall at lunch. She’s brought food, which she deposits on Regina’s desk with a grin. “It’s from that new Thai place,” she explains, plopping herself down into the chair across from Regina.

 

Regina smiles. “This is a nice surprise.”

 

Emma shrugs, pulling containers out of the paper bag, handing one over to Regina along with a set of chopsticks and a napkin. “I maybe have ulterior motives.”

 

Regina quirks an eyebrow. “Oh really? And what, pray tell, may those motives be?”

 

“I need you to teach me magic that I can use to win this prank war,” Emma says.

 

Regina’s eyebrow quirks higher. “Seriously? This is what it takes to get you interested in magic?”

 

Emma shrugs, looking only a little bit sheepish. “Yeah?”

 

Regina shakes her head, laughing.

 

Emma grins. “So, you’ll help?”

 

“I don’t know,” Regina smirks slowly. “What’s in it for me?”

 

Emma groans and then she beams charmingly at Regina. “My undying devotion?”

 

Regina snorts, shaking her head. “You’re ridiculous.”

 

“What if I said please?” Emma grins that same charming grin again, the one that Regina really is incapable of saying no to, not that she wants Emma to know that.

 

“I suppose. You really do need my help after all,” Regina agrees after a moment of mock deliberation. “And we can’t just let Zelena win this one, think of how insufferable she’d be about it.”

 

Emma laughs happily, digging into her noodles.

 

xxxxxx

 

The prank war gets intense . Regina can’t think of a better way to describe it. Zelena and Emma trade pranks back and forth and back and forth and no one seems on the verge of cracking. She starts to worry that encouraging Emma to participate, and helping her figure out the required magic, was a bad decision.

 

Then she catches Zelena and Henry whispering together one afternoon.

 

“Our son is teaming up with Zelena!” Regina says, rushing into Emma’s room like this is some kind of dire news.

 

Emma is curled up on her bed, reading something on her phone. “What?” she frowns, looking up.   

 

“They’re working together,” Regina says urgently.

 

“Okay?” Emma says uncertainly, like she can’t quite figure out what the issue is.

 

“This is bad , Emma,” Regina stresses.

 

“Why?” Emma is still looking at Regina like she thinks she’s a little bit crazy.  

 

“Because Henry’s creative . And Zelena has magic. They’re going to win,” Regina explains like that should have been obvious - because it should have been.

 

Emma doesn’t seem worried at all by this elaboration though, instead she just laughs. “Aren’t you the one not participating in this prank war? Didn’t you say that you were too mature for pranks?”

 

Regina scowls because they both know that she’s been helping Emma, even if she hasn’t committed any of the actual pranks herself, and does still like to insist that she’s too mature for pranks.

 

“Listen,” Emma says, sitting up so that she can reach over and snag Regina’s hand from where she’s standing beside the bed. She squeezes. “There’s no better team than us. We’re not losing.”

 

Regina doesn’t correct the we , doesn’t insist like she usual does that she’s not actually participating in this prank war. If she’s being honest with herself, her heart flutters just thinking about herself and Emma being a we . And Emma isn’t wrong, they really do make a good team.

 

xxxxxx  

 

That night when they all head upstairs together after an evening sprawled out in the living room watching Full House, Emma steps into her room and then steps right back out. “Where is my bed?” she asks, eyes narrowed suspiciously in Henry and Zelena’s direction.

 

Henry ducks his head but the grin on his face tells Regina all she needs to know. The thing he’d been whispering about with Zelena earlier must have been this.

 

“That’s odd,” Zelena says, far too delighted. “How do you misplace a bed?”

 

Regina rolls her eyes. “Give up the act, Zelena. We all know you did this.”

 

Emma sighs. “Whatever, I’ll just sleep on the couch.”

 

Zelena is practically vibrating with delight at that suggestion.

 

What ?” Emma asks suspiciously.

 

“The couches may have been misplaced along with your bed,” Zelena answers, eyes twinkling.

 

Zelena ,” Regina groans in exasperation. “You can’t just get rid of all of our furniture.”

 

“Chill, sis, it will be back in the morning,” Zelena rolls her eyes.

 

It's another time based spell, then.

 

“And where exactly is Emma supposed to sleep tonight?” Regina demands, hand on her hip.

 

Zelena shrugs. “Not with me.”

 

Emma’s shoulders slump in what almost seems like dejection. “It’s fine, I’ll just sleep on the floor.”

 

“Emma, no,” Regina responds immediately. She’s not letting Emma sleep on a floor.

 

“It’s not a big deal,” Emma says, adding, “it wouldn’t be the first time,” in a rushed sort of mumble that is mostly under her breath.   

 

Regina frowns at that but she doesn’t comment, not right now when there’s still the matter of sorting out where Emma will sleep tonight. “Don’t be ridiculous, Emma. There’s plenty of room in my bed. You can sleep with me.”

 

Emma’s eyes flicker uncertainty and she runs a hand through her hair. “Are you sure? I really don’t mind sleeping on the floor.”

 

“You aren’t sleeping on the floor, Emma,” Regina says firmly.

 

“Okay,” Emma agrees with a tentative smile.

 

Regina sees Henry and Zelena share smiles and a not all that subtle low five, and understanding washes over her. This must have been their plan all along. She’s baffled and annoyed in equal measures. What exactly are they trying to accomplish here aside from making Emma uncomfortable? She narrows her eyes at them so that they know she’s on to them but any lecture she wants to give can wait until tomorrow. To Emma she says, “You can just come in whenever you’re ready.”

 

xxxxxx

 

Emma takes a solid half an hour to change into her pajamas.

 

Regina is already in bed, tucked under the covers and reading a book, glasses perched on the bridge of her nose, when Emma slips into the master bedroom. Emma hovers awkwardly near the door, eyeing Regina uncertainly until Regina quirks an eyebrow and motions with her hand to the empty side of the bed.

 

Emma runs a hand through her hair, shuffles from foot to foot, and then finally moves over to the bed, climbing up beside Regina, shoving her legs under the covers and leaning back hesitantly against the pillows.

 

Regina finishes the sentence she's reading and closes her book, setting it on the nightstand. She pulls off her glasses, folding them up and setting them on top of the book.

 

“You can keep reading if you want,” Emma says. “Don't let me interrupt whatever you'd usually do.”

 

Regina looks over at her, studying her carefully. “I was just waiting for you, that's all.”

 

Oh .” Emma breathes that single syllable out like she's not quite sure what else she should say.

 

“Of course, I was starting to think you were going to stand me up,” Regina smirks.

 

The smile that tugs at the corners of Emma's mouth is sort of sheepish. “Sorry.”

 

The smile Regina offers in return is nothing but fond. They lapse into silence and Regina doesn't even really realize that they’re staring at each other until Emma bites her lip and looks down.

 

“Thanks for saving me from sleeping on the floor,” Emma says, looking back up.

 

Regina shakes her head in the way that makes it clear that Emma's thanks is unnecessary. “Of course I wasn’t going to let you sleep on the floor.” Her tone is light, all exasperated fondness, but then she remembers what Emma had said about sleeping on the floor before and she sobers. “When you said you'd slept on the floor before… “ she hesitates, but she continues, “Was that from when you were a child?”

 

Emma shakes her head once, her eyes falling to her lap, as she picks at invisible lint on the comforter. “Nah, social workers at least made sure there were beds in the places I stayed.” She shrugs. “It was when I first got out of jail, I didn't have any money, and furniture wasn't really high on the priority list for the money I did have, you know? So, I just slept on the floor for like nine months.”

 

Emma …” Regina breathes out, a hand reaching out and brushing against Emma's shoulder tentatively.

 

Emma lifts her eyes from her lap and turns her head slowly to look over at Regina. “It's not a big deal, Regina.”

 

The fact that Emma doesn't think it's a big deal, only makes it worse. Regina feels the familiar guilt that comes any time there is a reminder of the things Emma had endured because of her curse. She doubts that that guilt will ever truly go away.

 

Emma seems to see the conflict in her eyes. “Seriously, it really isn’t,” she says. “It's actually one of the ways I remind myself that those memories you gave us wouldn't have been reality. How could I have taken care of a baby? I couldn't even afford a bed.”

 

Emma ,” Regina repeats, her fingers still resting against Emma's shoulder.

 

Emma smiles at her, a sad sort of smile that doesn't quite reach her eyes. “Can we please not do the whole woe is Emma thing?”

 

Regina swallows but she nods in agreement. “Okay.” She still doesn't pull her fingers back from Emma's shoulder, instead she brushes her thumb along Emma's bare skin. “Do you realize how incredible you are?” she asks sincerely.

 

Emma laughs wryly, shaking her head. “Not even a little.”

 

Regina shakes her head too. “It's not a joke. You've dealt with so much and somehow you still manage to be you , good and kind and just… you're a bright light, Emma.” She doesn't say the rest of what she's thinking, that Emma's is her bright light, that having Emma here makes all of her days better.

 

Emma rolls her eyes at Regina but her cheeks turn pink, so she must be at least a little pleased with Regina's words. “I could say the same about you, you know. You've been… everything I need.”

 

It's Regina's turn to blush. Her heart suddenly thumping loudly in her chest as she stares and stares and stares at green eyes that are filled with softness and that odd sort of longing they sometimes hold. Regina eyes dip to Emma’s lips and for just a moment she images leaning forward and kissing her, for just a moment she lets herself remember how wonderful it had been to kiss Emma that day at the station. But that can’t happen. That’s not what Emma wants. Regina pulls her hand back from Emma’s shoulder, immediately regretting the loss of the warmth under her fingertips. She has to swallow thickly to clear the sudden lump in her throat. “We should probably sleep.”

 

Emma blinks rapidly, as if startled. She runs a hand through her hair. “Yeah.”

 

Regina nods, swallowing once more, and then forcing herself to draw her eyes away from Emma. She leans over and turns the lamp on her nightstand off, plunging the room into darkness. She shuffles in the bed, until she’s comfortable, Emma doing the same beside her.

 

“Night, Regina,” Emma whispers in the darkness.

 

“Goodnight, Emma,” Regina whispers back. She falls asleep to the sound of Emma’s even breathing.

 

xxxxxx

 

Sharing a bed with Emma is not at all the experience that movies and television shows have led Regina to believe it will be. She fully expects to wake up to sun streaming in through the window, limbs tangled together. Instead, she wakes up at 2 am, freezing cold, Emma beside her, curled up in a ball with her back to her, the blankets wrapped tightly around her. Regina tries to pull some of the blankets back but the move is met with a grunt of distress and the blankets being ripped back out of her hands with a surprising force.

 

“Emma,” Regina tries softly and when there is no response, she tries a little louder, “ Emma!

 

Emma just mumbles something unintelligible and pulls the blankets even tighter around herself.

 

“Alright then,” Regina sighs, pushing herself up, swinging her legs over the side of the bed, and standing. She pads quietly to the closet and reaches for a spare blanket, before heading back to the bed. With the new blanket wrapped carefully around herself, it’s not long before she’s drifting off again, the sound of Emma’s even breathing luling her to sleep once more.

 

xxxxxx

 

When Regina wakes up again, the sun is streaming in through the slats in the blinds. At some point in the night, Emma has rolled over, and when Regina opens her eyes, the first thing she sees is Emma’s face, blonde curls splayed across the pillow, her hands tucked under her chin, the blankets still wrapped around her like a cacoon.

 

Emma is still sleeping, Regina can tell because her face is relaxed, her breathing still soft and even. She looks so incredibly peaceful, and so incredibly beautiful, and Regina can’t draw her eyes away. She doesn’t dare even shift in the bed, lest that wake Emma, but, still, after a few minutes, Emma shifts, her eyes fluttering under her eyelids, as if the weight of Regina’s gaze alone has been enough to wake her.

 

Emma’s eyes blink open slowly and, seeing Regina, she smiles sleepily. “Hi.”

 

“Good morning,” Regina says, incapable of stopping the smile that spreads across her face.

 

Emma’s sleepy smile widens. She seems impossible content. “Did you sleep okay?” she asks softly.  

 

“Someone stole all my blankets,” Regina points out.

 

Emma’s eyes open a little wider and she looks down, seeing for herself that she’s completely cocooned in the comforter. “Oops.” She looks back at Regina sheepishly. “Sorry.”

 

“It’s okay. I got up and got another blanket.” Regina smiles. “How about you? How did you sleep?”

 

“Amazing,” Emma smiles slowly, and there’s still that sleepy quality to her expression. She untucks one of her arms from under the blankets so that she can rub at an itch under nose. She doesn’t tuck that arm back under the covers, instead she lets it rest on top of the blankets, in the space between them, the tips of her fingers brushing against Regina’s forearm. She makes no other attempt to move, seeming content to lie there and stare into Regina’s eyes.

 

It’s a weekday, and they need to be up soon, but Regina doesn’t feel any rush to get out of this bed. Truthfully, a part of her wishes that this quiet moment could last forever.

 

It’s a weekday though and no matter how much Regina wants the moment to last, it can’t. Sure enough, it isn’t long before she hears the sound of a door opening and closing, and feet padding down the hallway to the washroom. It’s Zelena, going through her morning routine.

 

“I guess we have to get up,” Emma sighs, like it’s the last thing in the world she wants to do.

 

“Yes,” Regina agrees, but she doesn’t move.

 

It takes them another ten minutes to actually get out of bed.

 

Zelena is already settled in the kitchen when they finally make it downstairs.

 

“Good night?” Zelena quirks an amused eyebrow at them.

 

Regina just narrows her eyes at Zelena, not bothering to answer that.

 

xxxxxx     

 

Regina drives Henry to school that morning.

 

She waits until she’s pulled out of the driveway and they are turning off of Mifflin Street to say, “We need to talk about that prank from last night.”

 

Henry looks over at her a little sheepishly, but he doesn’t say anything, just waits expectantly for the lecture.

 

“Why would you choose to make your mother uncomfortable like that?” Regina quirks an eyebrow over at him, before turning her eyes quickly back to the road.

 

Henry’s nose scrunches up uncertainly. “She wasn’t actually uncomfortable, was she?”

 

“She thought she was going to have to sleep on the floor, of course she was uncomfortable,” Regina says, signalling to turn left.

 

“But she didn’t have to,” Henry points out. “She slept with you .”

 

Regina’s lips purse and she doesn’t say anything to that. They drive in silence for a minute before she speaks. “Henry, are you and Zelena trying to…” she hesitates, trying to decide on the right phrasing, “force Emma and I into a relationship?”

 

Henry bites his lips and looks studiously out the window.

 

Henry ,” Regina prods.

 

“Maybe?” he mumbles, looking back over at her. “ Force sounds kind of harsh.”

 

It’s probably the closest thing to an answer Regina is going to get, so she just accepts it. “Henry, you have to stop. Emma and I are friends, we aren’t going to be anything more than that.”

 

“Why not?” Henry protests.

 

Regina swallows, eyes on the road as she turns onto the street the school is on. “Because it isn’t something Emma wants.”

 

Henry’s forehead scrunches up into a frown. “Why do you think that?”

 

Regina remembers the kiss with a sudden pang of longing. “I just do .” She pulls over in front of the school and parks.

 

“Did something happen?” Henry wonders.

 

Regina sighs. “Nothing happened, Henry.”

 

“Then why are you so sure Ma isn't interested in a relationship?” Henry prods, unwilling to just let it go. “I see the way she acts around you.”

 

Regina quirks an eyebrow. “And how's that?”

 

“Like… like you're the sun,” Henry says seriously.

 

Regina swallows thickly, that pang of longing back in her chest. He's wrong though. He's wrong because they'd kissed and all Emma had said was sorry . “You're wrong,” she says out loud and it's too quiet, too forlorn, but she can't take it back.

 

Henry hesitates, his brow furrowing, but he must see the pain in her face because all he says is, “Okay,” and then he lets her hug him even though they’re right outside the school and that’s something he wouldn’t usually allow, in case one of his friends were to see.

 

“I love you, Mom,” he says, reaching for his backpack and getting out of the car.

 

“I love you too, Henry,” Regina echoes.

 

xxxxxx

 

One night the following week, Regina is caught up dealing with an issue at Town Hall and she is late getting home. When she finally walks through the door of the manor, it's to the sound of music pouring out loudly from the living room. Curious, she takes off her shoes and moves down the hall, stopping in the entrance to the living room to just watch.  

 

The couches have been pushed back and the coffee table has been moved to create a makeshift dance floor, and Henry, Emma, and Zelena, are all moving to the beat of the music, laughing and smiling and happy .

 

Regina has no idea what has caused this impromptu dance party but there’s a sudden lump in her throat as she watches them.

 

She thinks of all the years before Henry, thinks of coming home night after night to a house devoid of noise, thinks of being lonely, always lonely, surrounded by people who never saw her. She thinks of the curse breaking and the house suddenly being plunged back into silence again, thinks of the months before that when dinners had often contained nothing but the sound of forks and knives scraping against plates and where the only sound she might hear on any given night was that of feet stomping angrily up the stairs. She thinks of standing at the town line and having to say goodbye to Henry and to Emma thinking she'd never see them again, thinks of a year without either of them.

 

For so much of her life she could never have imagined this . Could never have imagined a house, a home , filled with noise and joy and people she loves . And she does love them, not just Henry, but Emma and Zelena too.

 

Emma spots Regina then and she stops dancing, standing still to stare at Regina with eyes that are shining with the same kind of happiness that Regina feels. She smiles, a slow, fond, smile, and beckons Regina forward with a wiggle of her finger.

 

Regina just smiles at her and doesn't budge, her eyes lingering on Emma's.

 

Zelena and Henry spot her then too and Henry whoops, “Mom! Come dance!”

 

Regina smiles wider but still she is slow to move from where she's standing in the entrance.

 

Emma moves for her, crossing the room towards her, and grabbing both of Regina's hands.

 

Regina lets herself be tugged forward with no real protest. Emma walks backwards, not letting go of Regina hands until they've made it to the makeshift dance floor. Even then, she only drops the one, and it’s just so that she can twirl Regina like they're dance partners, out away from her and then back towards her, so close that Regina finds herself reaching out to steady herself with a hand on Emma's shoulder.

 

Emma tips her head back and laughs, and Regina's breath catches in her throat. Emma is beautiful always, but especially like this, with shining eyes, and cheeks tinged the slightest of red from the physical exertion, and happiness seeming to permeate from every inch of her.

 

Regina is breathless watching her, her heart thumping erratically in her chest, and she has to look away for a second for fear she might spit out something she’ll regret if she doesn't - something like I love you and not in the way she loves Henry or Zelena.

 

Looking away proves no better though because she finds Henry and Zelena watching them, with far too knowing expressions.

 

Emma's hand slips around her waist, pulling Regina’s gaze back to her. She finds Emma smiling at her almost sheepishly, a flicker of a question in her eyes, a is this okay ?

 

Regina should pull away, she knows she should, but instead she just smiles and takes the lead, moving them to the beat of music that is maybe just a little too quick for this type of dancing.

 

Henry and Zelena laugh beside them, mimicking their position in what is surely mocking. But Regina doesn't care, because Emma won't stop smiling and her green eyes are absolutely shining and Regina's heart swells and swells and swells.

 

xxxxxx

 

Zelena and Henry both manage to slip away, leaving Regina and Emma to clean up.

 

Emma pushes the couch back into place from behind while Regina checks it from the front to make sure it's straight.

 

“That's good,” Regina says with a nod.

 

Emma grins at her and then proceeds to hop over the back of the couch, bouncing off the cushion and dropping into a seated position.

 

Regina rolls her eyes at the move but it's with fondness more than anything. She sits beside Emma, which only seems to make Emma's smile widen and Regina's heart flutter. There's still music playing, although they've turned the volume down considerably to the point that it's just soft background noise. They stare at each other and something about the atmosphere in the room suddenly feels charged. Regina has to force herself to ask a question before she does something she's going to regret - like lean forward and kissing Emma. “Am I allowed to ask what spurred the impromptu dance party?”

 

Emma laughs, shrugging her shoulders. “I don't know. Everyone was just in a happy mood I guess.”

 

“Are you?” Regina finds herself asking. “ Happy ?” she clarifies.

 

“Yes,” Emma answers, although there's a flicker of something almost uncertain in her eyes. “Are you?” she asks quietly.

 

Regina's head tilts, studying Emma carefully. “Of course I'm happy. How could I not be?”

 

Emma swallows thickly and her eyes drop to Regina's lips before they flicker quickly back up to meet Regina's eyes. “Yeah?” she says and it's not clear if she's asking for confirmation on what Regina has just said or asking an altogether different question.

 

“Yes,” Regina breathes out, not sure what she's answering, as her own eyes dip to Emma's lips.

 

Regina doesn't know who moves first, they seem to simultaneously lean forward, Emma's hands looping around Regina's neck, and Regina's tangling in loose blonde hair, as their lips meet in a kiss that is all urgency.

 

Emma pulls back first, her hands lifting from Regina's neck. Her pupils are blown, her cheeks are flushed, and she's a little bit breathless, but there's something panicky about her expression too, and Regina's heart is already sinking when Emma opens her mouth to say, “I'm sorry.”

 

No ,” Regina says, even though she doesn't mean to.

 

Emma frowns, her brow knitting together. “No?”

 

Regina can feel her hands shaking and she untangles them from Emma's hair, balling them tightly into fists in her lap to try and hide the trembling. “ Why are you sorry?” She's not sure she's going to be able to handle the answer but she needs to know because clearly pretending she can just bury her feelings hasn't been all that successful of a strategy.

 

Emma's frown only deepens and she wraps her arms around herself, like she's trying to hold herself together. “Because… this isn't what you want.” It's so quiet that Regina barely hears it.

 

“What?” Regina says, and she's frowning now too. “Why would you think that?”

 

Emma bites her lip, her eyes flickering with uncertainty. “You said it. After we kissed last time. You said it didn't mean anything.” Her words are so hesitant, almost like she's afraid of how Regina will respond to them.

 

“Because you apologized like it was a mistake you regretted, and you were uncomfortable and I didn't want you to feel that way in your own home,” Regina says and she doesn't mean for it to be so defensive but that's exactly how it comes out.

 

Emma flinches at the sharpness in Regina's tone, her arms seeming to wrap tighter around herself. The confusion is still there in her eyes but there's something else too, something like the odd longing Regina's noticed before, or maybe something closer to tentative hope. “I just… this is the best place I've ever lived. This is the only place that's ever felt like home, except for maybe that year in New York with Henry, but that wasn't completely real. So this is it, the only real home I've ever had.  And I got scared that kissing you was going go to screw everything up. I didn't know what you wanted and I… I was worried that if it wasn't the same as I what I wanted, you'd make me go.”

 

Emma ,” Regina says, softening completely as understanding washes over her. If only they’d actually talked earlier. “I would never ask you to leave. I couldn't. You're my family. And, besides…” Regina's heart thumps loudly in her chest as she admits, “I think we want the same thing.”

 

“Are you saying…” Emma trails off like she's afraid to ask the question, biting her lip, her eyes shining with that tentative hope now, her arms loosening the hold on her body.

 

“I love you, Emma,” Regina says, and it feels something like relief to finally say that out loud.

 

Oh ,” Emma's eyes widen and her arms drop to her side. “Oh,” she repeats like she's completely at a loss. “ Really ?”

 

Emma looks so adorably baffled that Regina can't help the laugh that bubbles out of her chest. “Yes, really,” she confirms fondly, even as she waits nervously for Emma’s reaction, her heart still thumping hard against her ribcage.

 

Emma beams, her smile absolutely lighting up her entire face. “Well, that's a relief.” She laughs happily. “Because I love you so fucking much.”

 

Regina feels her entire body relax, happiness washing over her. “Really?” she asks, repeating Emma's question teasingly with a quirk of her eyebrow, although there's maybe a little bit of uncertainty to the question, a little bit of a need for confirmation that she really did hear that correctly.

 

Emma laughs again. “Yes, really, you goof,” she says and she doesn't give Regina a chance to grumble at being called a goof because she's surging forward, laughing, as she presses her lips quickly to Regina’s once, twice, a third time, and then finally she let's them linger in a more searing kiss, one hand settling on Regina's shoulder, the other cupping her cheek.

 

Regina sighs happily into the kiss, her eyes fluttering closed and her arms looping around Emma's back to pull her closer.

 

They maybe shouldn't be kissing like this on the living room couch while Zelena and Henry are somewhere, possibly, nearby, but Regina doesn't really care - Emma loves her.

 

xxxxxx

 

Later that night, Regina comes to Emma's room to say goodnight with a gentle kiss that quickly turns heated.

 

Emma is smiling when they finally part, resting her forehead against Regina's and staring directly into her eyes. “What are we supposed to do now?” she wonders.

 

Regina considers it but she's not really sure she has answer. “Whatever we want,” she decides.

 

Emma strokes Regina's cheek with the pad of her thumb, her eyes still so close and staring directly into Regina's. “You should let me take you on a date.”

 

“A date?” Regina lifts her eyebrows.

 

“Yes,” Emma grins. “A date. On Friday.”

 

Regina's heart flutters in her chest and she smiles. “Okay, we can do that.”

 

Emma grins wider, finally pulling her forehead away from Regina's but it’s only so that she can kiss her again. This time it's the soft kind of kiss, the kind that conveys love without needing words at all.

 

xxxxx

 

The next night, Zelena helps Regina prepare dinner. She washes lettuce, and then spins it carefully in the salad spinner. “So,” she says, “Are you going to explain why you've been smiling like an idiot all day?”

 

Regina looks up from where she's stirring pasta sauce at the stove. “What? I am not,” she denies, even though it's the most unbelievable lie because Zelena has quite literally just interrupted a day dream about kissing Emma, and Regina knows she was smiling a second ago.

 

Zelena rolls her eyes. “Please, I've never seen two people eye each other as doppily as you and Emma were eyeing each other at breakfast this morning.”

 

Regina feels herself flush and she hesitates to answer just long enough for Zelena to grin smugly at her, far too amused and far too knowing.

 

“Tell me what happened,” Zelena says, dumping the lettuce from the spinner into a bowl she grabs from one of the cupboards.

 

Regina puts the lid back on the pot of sauce and turns to completely face Zelena. “We kissed,” she admits and she can't stop the smile from spreading on her face.

 

Zelena is looking smug again. “After the dancing yesterday?”

 

“Yes,” Regina nods, leaning back against the counter. “Well, also once before, technically.”

 

Zelena's eyebrow quirks upwards at that, looking amused on top of smug now. “ And ?” she prompts, somehow knowing there is more.

 

Regina isn't sure why she's suddenly nervous, like she's sharing a secret she maybe isn't supposed to, but still, she finds herself admitting, “And I told her I love her.”

 

Zelena's grin somehow gets wider. “And she said she loves you too, right?”

 

Regina's heart does a flip as she remembers those words leaving Emma's mouth. “Yes,” she confirms, blushing again.

 

Zelana tips her head back and laughs. “Took you guys long enough. I was starting to think I was going to die of old age before you two got your act together.”

 

“Oh shut up,” Regina grumbles but she's too happy to be properly annoyed.

 

Zelena just rolls her eyes, amused. “What else are we adding to this salad?” she asks, her eyes flickering down to the bowl.

 

“There's some peppers and cucumber and onion in the fridge,” Regina answers, making a move to push herself away from the counter.

 

Zelena holds up her hand though to stop her. “I've got it.” She moves to the fridge, pulling out the ingredients mentioned and sets them on the counter, grabbing the cutting board and a knife next, while Regina just watches.

 

“So are you going to call off the prank war now?” Regina asks, while Zelena rinses the vegetables at the sink.

 

Zelena sets the rinsed vegetables on the cutting board. “Why would I do that?”

 

“The whole point was to get  Emma and I together, wasn't it?” Regina quirks an eyebrow at her.

 

Zelena laughs but doesn't answer.

 

“I'm right, aren't I?” Regina questions, a little uncertain about the validity of her assumption now.

 

Zelena lifts one shoulder in a shrug as she chops up the red pepper into pieces. “Perhaps lately.”

 

“And before?” Regina wonders, eyeing Zelena curiously.

 

Zelena tosses the red pepper pieces into the salad bowl. She looks over at Regina and there's something almost hesitant in her expression. “I was bored. And you seemed rather pleased with how my suitcase stunt turned out. I just thought… if I could get Emma to really settle here, you'd be happy.” She lifts one shoulder in that indifferent half shrug again and looks back down at the cutting board, starting to chop the cucumber.

 

Regina blinks slowly as what that confession really means washes over her. “Zelena, I…”

 

“It's not a big deal,” Zelena says before Regina can sort out what exactly it is she wants to say.

 

It does feel like a big deal but Regina is still at loss for how to express her feelings. She ends up just watching Zelena finish cutting up the cucumber, transferring it to the salad bowl, and moving on to the onion. “You know,” Regina says. “You've really become a member of this household. A few months ago there's no way you would have helped make dinner, especially not willingly.”

 

Zelena looks up at that, her eyes tinged with confusion but also a pleased sort of surprise.

 

“I'd really like to lift the house arrest spell,” Regina says as way of explanation for her train of thought.

 

Zelena's eyes widen and her shoulders tense, something suddenly strained in her expression. “Would I have to leave then?” It's perhaps the quietest thing Zelena has ever said.

 

“Only if you wanted to,” Regina rushes to assure her.

 

“Okay,” Zelena says carefully, looking back down at the cutting board, and Regina isn't sure if that's okay I'll go or okay I'll stay , or maybe just okay you can lift the spell .

 

“Selfishly, I hope you'll stay,” Regina admits. “You're a part of this family now and I don't  really want to imagine this home without you in it.”

 

When Zelena looks up, her eyes are moist. “I don't want to leave.”

 

“Are you crying?” Regina can't help the question that slips out, she's just so surprised.

 

“It's the onion,” Zelena protests, looking embarrassed.

 

Regina laughs with fondness, pushing herself off the counter and crossing the distance between herself and Zelena, wrapping her arms around her sister in a side hug.

 

Zelena stiffens at first, completely uncomfortable but after a minute she drops the knife onto the cutting board and turns, wrapping her now free arms around Regina, hugging her properly.

 

“I love you, you know,” Regina tells her, still wrapped up in the hug.

 

Zelena clings tighter for a moment and then she pulls back from the hug. “But not in the way you love Emma Swan, right ?”

 

Regina rolls her eyes and shoves Zelena's shoulder. “You're insufferable.”

 

“But you love me,” Zelena smirks.

 

“I do,” Regina can't help but confirm.

 

“I love you too,” Zelena admits with sincerity but also with all the awkwardness of a person not used to expressing their feelings.

 

Regina smiles, her heart soaring. She snags a piece of cucumber out of the bowl. “So, you are going to give up on the prank war now, yes?” she asks because she really hadn't gotten an answer before.

 

“That's for me to now and you to find out,” Zelena smirks, her eyes twinkling with mischievous delight.

 

Regina groans. She has has a feeling this prank war might last the rest of their lives.

 

xxxxxx

 

Friday arrives quickly and that afternoon Regina gets a text from Emma saying that she will be late getting home. Regina herself gets home on time and gets ready for their date but as the clock creeps closer and closer to the hour they're supposed to leave for dinner and Emma still isn't home, Regina starts to worry that they're going to have to postpone this date all together. She tries not to feel disappointed. It's not Emma's fault she got hung up at work, after all.

 

It's ten minutes before their previously discussed departure time when the doorbell rings. When neither Henry nor Zelena move, Regina sighs and gets up. She pulls the front door open and her eyes widen in surprise.

 

It's Emma. Emma holding a bouquet of some of the most gorgeous flowers Regina has ever seen. Emma with her coat unzipped, revealing the black dress she's wearing underneath, a dress with a deep cut v neckline that draws Regina eyes downward, until she realizes she's staring and has to force her eyes back up to meet Emma's amused green ones.

 

“Hi,” Emma says with a smile. “You look beautiful,” she adds, her eyes flickering down to take in the wraparound grey dress Regina has chosen.

 

“So do you,” Regina answers.

 

Emma's smile widens and she holds out the bouquet of flowers. “Here, these are for you.”

 

“Thank you, they're gorgeous,” Regina takes them from Emma with a smile and butterflies flutter in her stomach making her feel absolutely ridiculous. “Come in, I want to put them in water.”

 

Emma nods and follows her into their home and towards the kitchen.

 

“So you weren’t actually hung up at work, then?” Regina guesses, as she takes out a vase and fills it with water.

 

“Nope,” Emma confirms with an almost sheepish grin.

 

“And are you going to explain why you rang the doorbell instead of just coming in? Or is that meant to be a mystery?” Regina quirks an eyebrow as she takes the flowers out of their paper wrapping and works on trimming the stems.

 

Emma shrugs her shoulders. “I just thought… just because we already live together, and have basically done every bit of this backwards, it doesn't mean we can't do the whole dating thing properly.”

 

It's impossibly sweet, really, and Regina leans over to kiss her. “I love you,” she murmurs against Emma's lips.

 

“Aren’t you supposed to wait until the date is over to kiss?”

 

They pull apart at the interruption to find Zelena standing in the entrance to the kitchen with Henry, seemingly just there to heckle them, because she doesn't wait for an answer to waggle her finger at Emma and say, “What are your intentions with my sister?”

 

Regina rolls her eyes and Emma laughs and says, “I'm going to take real good care of her, scouts honour,” before leaning over and kissing Regina's cheek.

 

“How sweet,” Zelena mocks and Henry giggles.

 

Regina rolls her eyes again but she's smiling fondly as she places the flowers in the vases. “Let's go before these hecklers start actually interrogating us,” she says, holding out a hand that Emma takes without hesitation.

 

“Have her home by eleven!” Henry calls after them as they head out of the kitchen.

 

“Don't do anything I wouldn't approve of!” Zelena adds.

 

Regina shakes her head and Emma is suppressing laughter.

 

“I'm still not completely convinced we haven't been cursed into a sitcom,” Emma says as they step outside and head towards her car still hand in hand.

 

“You know what,” Regina says, squeezing Emma's hand as they stop in front of the car. “If we are, it's not a curse I care to break.”

 

It’s true. Sitcom or not, she's pretty damn happy with her life. She's even happier when Emma leans over and kisses her.