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i still remember the way you taste

Chapter Text

It was like nothing had changed when clearly everything had. But it seemed so easy to forget that right now.

They were all seated in Granny's, just like every time there was something to celebrate. Or plan or mourn or someone was hungry. That was their place.

Granny had made a cake just like she always did and somehow it seemed to be getting better and better as time went by and Regina hated to admit that.

They had made it back. Gone were Hyperion Heights and Wish Realm, well every realm really as they were all brought to Storybrooke to ensure that people wouldn't be separated ever again. This was a new home for all of them.

It had been a slight chaos after they had returned. People have been running around, trying to find their loved ones. Regina had been one of them, trying to find her family. She had found both of her sons and her other son's family at the mansion because of course; the mansion had been Henry's home ever since he was a baby so it was natural that they landed there.

She had eventually found her sister who had been none of the wiser about things changing and everyone returning. It was due to the fact that she still lived at the farm house, rather liking her privacy even when she came to town every single day. The Hyperion Heights version of Zelena had not made the trip as she was living in San Francisco with Chad. Regina had managed to send a message out to her however, informing her that they had made it back to Storybrooke, if she ever wished to return.

Even when Zelena had already briefly met her grown up daughter, the shock hadn't really worn off in time for the second meeting those two had. Zelena had arrived at the diner with her young daughter in tow, speechless probably for the first time ever. But just as Regina had known, the peculiar situation did not limit the love Zelena had to offer as she wrapped her arms around Robin, telling her just how much she loved this version of her as well.

Looking around the diner, Regina noticed all these familiar faces, feeling a connection with everyone. She was a part of their story in some way, but with most the way had often been most unpleasant. She really had done some terrible things, ruined so many lives but now she felt like things had shifted, like they were all breathing in new air.

Snow waved at her from the other side of the room. Somehow the woman she had sworn to kill with her bare hands had turned into someone she knew she could count on with her life. They had become friends and through one of the most complicated family trees, they had even become part of a same family. Sure, they had lived in a same place before, but when she had been the king's wife they had not been a family. It had quite literally been the furthest thing from it.

There was a piece of that delicious cake being placed in front of her as Zelena sat down across from her with her own plate. She was looking at her two daughters, who were chatting loudly. Next to them, holding older Robin's hand was Alice, who looked at her Robin like she had put all the stars in the sky.

"They look so happy." Zelena whispered.

"They are." Regina promised, looking at the two girls so innocently expressing their affection and love for each other. It was quite refreshing how the world had changed and people were more accepting of other people. Love was love, no matter who you felt that towards.

Two sisters fell silent again, enjoying their cake. Regina felt happiness and she couldn't quite believe it. She was surrounded by people who she could call her family, her friends. She felt love for several of them and that was so much more than she ever thought she could have. A weird thing she was experiencing though was like she was partly blinded by a veil.

She could feel how the exhaustion set in, how she just wanted to sleep and gather her strength. Regina couldn't remember the last time she had full night's sleep since it seemed that ever since Henry had gotten that storybook there had always been something. A curse, a villain, just a plain old nightmare, feelings, often even pain... just something.

"Have you seen her yet?" Zelena asked with her voice just as quiet as before.

Regina knew exactly who Zelena was talking about and that made her close her eyes. She had tried her hardest not to think about her after she had been woken from the curse by Ivy in Hyperion Heights. She had tried not to think about her well before that as well, but in the Enchanted Forest it had been easier to push it all aside. As long as she had something to do, she was fine but the nights when she was alone... Well, as said, there was always something.

"No." Regina said, barely audible over the music and talking but Zelena heard her.

"You know you have to face her eventually, right?" Zelena asked.

"I know. But not today." Regina looked at her sister sharply, hoping she would just drop it. Zelena was someone who knew her feelings well, because one night she had been so upset, so drunk and had called her sister to come over. And she had told her everything. That had only been few weeks before she had left to help Henry, and the talk she had had with her sister had helped her seal the deal when Henry asked her to stay.

Zelena gave a slight nod, before focusing back on her cake and watching over her daughters. Before long, her smaller daughter ran up to them, asking was she allowed to have cake with her 'big sister'. Zelena got up with a beaming smile and made her way to the counter to help her daughter.

Regina was left alone and for now it was how she preferred it. Zelena leaving gave a good opportunity for someone else to step closer to her and sit down on the spot her sister had just vacated. "Hello Your Majesty."

"Hello, Mulan." Regina said kindly, having the utmost respect for the warrior sitting across from her. A lot of the people had quickly changed out of their fairytale clothes to feel more comfortable and relaxed, but Mulan was one of the few who still wore their clothes from their homeland. For Mulan it was more of an honor than anything else, although it helped her feel bit more comfortable in this strange new land. "How can I help you?"

"I was thinking... Would you be able to get something for me?" Mulan asked quietly.

That made Regina very curious since it seemed so unlike Mulan to ask something from anyone, especially from her. Regina had heard about the lack of trust in her and she couldn't really blame the young warrior. At the time it had been very true and very real to be untrusting towards her.

"What do you need?

"A forgetting potion."

That made Regina physically rear her head back in surprise. It was odd that anyone would be asking for such a potion, because it really meant forgetting. There was no restoring what the person wanted to forget. Regina tried to think what could possibly be hurting Mulan so much, but she herself wasn't a stranger to hiding heartbreak. There were things she too wished to forget, but over the years she had learned to live with that. Now as she was looking at the hunched over woman in front of her, she felt concern over Mulan as it seemed that the longer she kept her waiting the more she was crumbling before her very eyes.

"I know it's none of my business, but what do you need a forgetting potion for?" Regina asked kindly, keeping her voice down as there were people passing by their table.

"This is a new beginning for me, but there is still this... heartbreak that I cannot stop feeling. I want to enjoy this new land, I want to move past my pain, but it..." Mulan swallowed and looked around to make sure there was no one listening in on them. "It burns me, it's eating me alive. I can't enjoy the simplest of thing without wishing she was there and I-" the young woman realized how much she had spoken and how much she had revealed, and she placed a hand in front of her lips.

Regina was looking at Mulan with her mouth hanging open. It was like the other woman had said out loud every single feeling she was feeling, and she would have never guessed that the woman sitting across from her was feeling even a fraction of the same things she was. Apparently, the world was even more of a bitch than she ever realized.

"Who..." Regina started but suddenly there was a shadow glooming over them and Mulan was pulled up and into a tight hug. Regina looked up to recognize a familiar princess she had once shaded over her pregnancy when they had returned into Enchanted Forest.

"Aurora." she greeted curtly, but what really left her floored was the pain she saw nearly breaking out from behind Mulan's eyes as she was released from the hug. There truly was always 'more to the story than meets the eye' and Regina was wondering how many other stories in Henry's book were so terribly wrong written.

"Regina! I cannot thank you enough for bringing us all here!" Aurora said happily. "We were just walking around town when we heard the music and came to see what this was all about! This will be a perfect place for us to raise our family and now I'm finally reunited with my Mulan!" she pulled the other woman into another hug, completely oblivious of the pain she was causing her friend.

A man appeared behind them, holding a baby in his arms and beaming a smile towards the broken warrior. "Mulan! How happy we are to see you again!" and he reached for her arm to give it a squeeze. That was when the baby in his arms informed everyone that it needed attention and the young couple bid their farewells with a promise of getting together soon for a proper meal and a catch up.

Mulan nearly fell back down on her seat and buried her face into her hands. Regina wanted to reach out to comfort her, but she knew better. There was nothing she could do to make Mulan feel better. Maybe except one thing.

"I will help you." she simply said and the look of utter gratefulness that was sent her way was enough of a thank you. "But it will take me some time since there are ingredients I have to gather and since I brought everyone here it's also my responsibility to make sure everyone is alright and that things are handled accordingly." she sounded apologetic, knowing how much it hurt.

"That's alright. I have battled with this for so many years that waiting a little bit longer won't mean a thing." Mulan said with a smile and it really took a skilled burier of feelings to realize how false that smile was. She got up to leave just when the bell above the door dinged.

There was a roar of welcomes being hurled at the people who had entered and since Mulan was blocking her view of the door, Regina couldn't see who they were. Suddenly she could feel the nagging feeling one got when they were being watched. Looking around she met the intense gaze of her sister. Zelena was looking alarmed and she kept glancing towards the door and then back at her sister.

Regina knew before she even looked. Zelena's hint had been obvious. Closing her eyes for a second, Regina braced herself. She had wished this meeting would not happen today but there was no stopping it now.

Opening her eyes, she straightened her back and drew in a breath. There was a slight crack on her neck as she gave it a stretch like she was getting ready for a fight and in a way, she was. She was getting ready to keep her heart together as it would be ready to crumble to the floor any second now. There had been many a battle, but this was so far the toughest one she had ever faced.

She peeked behind Mulan to see the door and there she was.

Emma Swan.

The young blonde looked just as beautiful as she had since that fateful night Regina had found her standing on her pathway all those years ago. There had been a time when she had stopped curling her hair due to constant duty of the Savior, but Regina noted happily that she had started doing it again. She really liked Emma's hair on those bouncy curls. It made all of this feel familiar, it made it possible for her to imagine things were different for them.

Emma was wearing a white dress and it actually looked like the one they had ordered together before she had left to save Henry. White was her favorite color on Emma because it truly highlighted her natural beauty in every single way. She looked almost angelic which was the perfect combination considering she was also a total badass with a heart of gold.

Mulan noticed the look on Regina's face and then looked behind her to see what the formed queen was staring at. An understanding crossed over her face and she let out a soft. "Oh..."

She couldn't be more right as 'oh' was indeed very correct. Emma Swan was Regina's 'oh'. Oh, she is not trying to take my son away from me. Oh, she saved me. Oh, she did it again. Oh, her hands are actually really soft. Oh, she gives the best hugs.

Oh, I'm in love with her.

Regina had known it for such a long time, but it had taken her ages to come to terms with it and while she dealt with that, life went on, things changed and suddenly she had lost her opportunity. Because suddenly there was a wedding ring on one of Emma's fingers and people kept speaking of true love.

And then things had happened, and everything was ruined.

That was when their eyes met across the diner. The green orbs got slightly larger as she realized who the chocolate eyes belonged to. Regina couldn't hear it, but she saw how Emma's lips moved, clearly pronouncing her name. It was like the people around them disappeared, there were no voices, no music. Just them. It was the most used cliché from a movie or a book, but that was really how it felt like to Regina.

Emma started to make her way forward, ignoring the people around her in order to get to Regina faster. Regina on the other hand had the sudden urge to run. To get up and run out the back just to avoid this meeting, because she didn't know what was going to happen. And that thought was terrifying to her. Could she really hold it together or not?

Emma was nearly in front of her when a high-pitched scream pierced the air and effectively broke the magic around them. Suddenly there were too many voices and music, but the time stood still for several long seconds. It must have been an important scream as it made Emma turn to look behind her which in turn gave Regina a clear view of the door once again.

In the arms of the filthy pirate laid a baby. Regina knew this was to be expected as she had known of Emma's pregnancy since the beginning, but it still hurt. But when she really looked the baby over, her brows furrowed. The baby had a dark shiny hair and deep chocolate colored eyes. There was a white blanked around the baby, a very similar to the one Regina had once carried in her bag when they had needed it to find Emma through magic.

A word 'Hope' was knitted into it.

Regina felt like throwing up. It just couldn't be.

But it was Emma's eyes that met hers only a moment later that made her entire world crash down around her. Getting up from a booth at Granny's had never been so hard before but somehow, she made it. She had only had coffee when they had arrived, so the wobbliness of her legs could not be blamed on the alcohol either. Everything was spinning. And god, did it hurt. It hurt so bad.

Without a second look at the blonde who had been close enough to touch her, she fled the diner, doubting anyone would notice she was gone. She had no idea where she could go to be alone as her usual places were places where her loved ones knew to find her.

Finally, she came up with a place no one would ever think of. It wasn't a place she would ever go for comfort but for solitude? Yes, it would work just fine. When she made it out the back she closed her eyes and purple smoke surrounded her and made her materialize in a familiar bedroom.

It was her old bedroom in the Black Castle. The table they had used for their meeting in the Wish Realm was still there and Regina leaned her palms on it. She let out a pained breath that was soon followed by a piercing scream.

This room was no stranger to screaming. It had mostly been orders, barked at people who served her and screams of agony and frustration. This one was the latter as she was alone in the castle, just like she had always been when she came here.

She knew there would be people around to help her now. There was a sister who she had grown close to over the years and who she considered to be her confident and her support system as their backgrounds were very similar, for obvious reasons. There was the former nemesis who had become one of her best friends. It would only take a call and Snow would be here in a heartbeat. She could really use one of her hope speeches right about now-

Hope.

She had fought against a sob bubbling in her chest ever since she saw Emma enter the diner but now there was no stopping it. It echoed on the walls of her empty bedroom, surrounding her and fueling the sorrow she felt.

There was no way all the little details about Hope were pure coincidence. The color of her hair, the shade of her eyes, the... name. She wasn't sure about the general age of the little girl mainly because the timelines often got mixed between realms and there had been another curse that also somewhat froze the time. She had no real idea and for all she knew it could actually be Emma's and Hook's child.

But Emma's eyes... They told her something else. And one could almost call it a gut feeling. She could not only think it, she could feel it in her heart. Hope was her child. Their daughter.

There were million questions running through her brain and Regina felt like she needed answers to each of them in order to feel even partly sane. But she couldn't ask, not now, not today. Regina didn't think she could handle it as she would end up snapping in a way she hadn't snapped in years. And she didn't want anyone to be around for that, not even Emma because in the grand scheme of things this wasn't her fault.

She was too tired to support her weight on her hands so instead she hopped to sit on the table. Eventually she even laid down on her back, grateful of the cold surface that cooled her burning skin. God, she was tired. She was finally feeling so happy, she had saved everyone, reunited people and done the right thing. And as the fate would have it she was left feeling like this again. If this didn't give her a chance at happy ending, then what was?

"Regina?"

Chapter Text

No. No, please no.

But yes.

There was no running now since they were alone. Regina was yet to get up from the table, trying to avoid the inevitable by taking her time to breathe enough because she was sure that whatever was going to happen now would make breathing hard for her.

Emma Swan was not easy.

Stubborn yes, annoying sure, breathtaking absolutely, beautiful well beyond belief, but easy? Never. There was no direct path into her heart but if you were willing to climb a few hundred walls, swim over the ocean of tears and battle the monsters of her worst nightmares, you might just make it. And Regina felt like she had. Once.

Getting up from the table she instantly locked eyes with the woman she had just seen at the diner. Of course, when she had thought no one could find her here, she had forgotten the one who had seen her heart. Emma knew her better than anyone, having been the only one that crossed over the protections Regina had set for her own heart.

When before the blonde had been there to hold Regina's bruised heart gently in her hands, now she was there to destroy it. And Regina was surprised, that even after all this time, she was going to let her.

"What are you doing here?" she whispered because right now it seemed like talking out loud would set off something. What that was, she didn't know.

"You left." Emma whispered, apparently well aware of the same thing as Regina.

Regina swallowed. "I had to."

"No, you didn't. You never have." Emma said slightly louder as it was getting harder to whisper as her emotions were getting the best of her. The pale pink lower lip was wobbling, and Regina knew what was going to happen if they kept this up and she could not see Emma cry.

"Yes, I did. I did." Regina whispered harshly and then added more softly. "I did."

"Why did you leave me?" a sob had bubbled out of Emma and she was no longer able to whisper at all. Her words were raw and loud, and the pain behind them was real.

"I had to. Because everything changed. Because you left me first." Regina didn't bother whispering anymore either as the spell was already broken.

Emma took few steps closer. There was a sudden fire in her eyes, burning away the tears even when there was still sorrow scarred deep into her face. She balled her hands into fists and gritted out. "No, I didn't."

"Yes, you did! The first chance you got!" Regina spat out mockingly, the old hurt rising to the surface, quickly clouding all of her clear thinking. She was getting just as angry as Emma was, just as hurt. Her chest was aching from the weight of things unfolding. This was the talk they never had and for Regina, it had been years overdue when for Emma it had merely been a blink of an eye in comparison.

In two long strides Emma was standing nearly in front of Regina who was still sitting on the table with her legs dangling down. She was vibrating with the magic and fire and anger that was burning in her veins. Their eyes bore into each other like they had since the first time they met. There was a connection unlike anything either had ever experienced with anyone else in their entire lifetime.

"I didn't leave you." Emma whispered again. Somehow it didn't come off angry, more desperate than anything else. It was like she was trying to explain something with those four words, something that was more complex but repeating these words was the best she could do.

"Emma." Regina whispered again, catching the slight change in tone. "You might not realize it... but you did. And that's why I left." the anger was gone.

It was Emma who surged forward first, crushing her lips against Regina's in a desperate kiss. Her hands clung to the back of Regina's shirt in the saddest of ways. It was like she was afraid that if she let go of her now, she might be gone forever this time.

It was passionate, it was hot, it was messy, just like they were. They were gasping out breaths and moans as they were pulling each other impossibly closer, getting lost. It was like kissing was the only thing keeping them alive, like being physically attached to each other was the only way of survival at this point. Regina was the one who eventually detached her lips from Emma’s, but she didn't waste any time in finding a new place for them.

She was running her tongue up and down the side of Emma's throat, just like she knew the blonde liked it. The moan that was ripped out of the blonde made the throat vibrate in the most enticing manner. At a particularly high moan, Regina sunk her teeth painfully into Emma's throat which in turn made Emma scratch down Regina's back over her pristine white shirt. The brunette took her sweet time sucking the place she had bit down, wanting to leave the most memorable mark on the younger woman.

Sitting back, Regina admired her work, smirking. She wanted to claim Emma Swan as hers. She wanted everyone, especially that no good pirate to know where the blonde had been tonight. There was no one else in the world that could make Emma feel the way she could make her feel.

Emma had told her that and she believed her, because that one night was all she could think about as she went to bed alone and she was sure Emma did that as well.

That was when Emma roughly pushed her down on the table. Regina made her way upwards to give the blonde space to climb up as well. Emma landed her knees firmly on either side of the brunette's hips, sitting up victoriously. She had that same smug smirk spread on her lips like she had on the day she cut into her precious apple tree. Regina couldn't believe how long it actually took them to give into their desires.

"I'm going to have you... my queen." the way Emma used her former title made Regina impossibly aroused. It was a perfect mixture of adoration and respect with a sliver of sarcasm and arrogance that only Emma Swan could muster. It hit Regina just right and she was sure that if Emma didn't get on with it she was going to burst.

Emma leaned down to kiss Regina, but this time it was softer. It was a lot like the first time they kissed. It had been well after things settled down once and for all and Henry had left to find his own story. The two mothers had started to spend even more time together than they already were, giving each other comfort and company while being more than worried about their shared son.

Then one day out of nowhere, they had been having lunch at the mansion's kitchen, sitting by the island and talking about their days. They still didn't know who was the one who initiated the kiss, but they ended up kissing sweetly for an unknown amount of time, lasagna forgotten, just enjoying the feeling they created together. That had let to more firey kisses and eventually they had moved upstairs. Emma didn't make it home that night as she was too busy drowning in an ocean called Regina.

Now they were still kissing, just exploring each other’s mouths. Regina was quite sure that Emma's tongue was familiar with every single bit of her mouth and the early depths of her throat. But she wanted more, needed more. She took a hold of the jacket Emma had thrown over her white dress and pushed them apart roughly.

"If you are going to take me." she snarled. "I suggest you get on with it."

Emma did not have to be told twice. She ground her core against Regina's with strength that quite surprised the older woman. It was rough but even over layers of clothes, Emma knew how to hit her just on the right spot. A moan ripped itself free as Emma sat back up to get rid of her jacket. There was a thud somewhere behind her as it hit the floor. The white dress she had been sporting had hiked itself up while Emma had been straddling Regina. It was an easy thing to get rid of as that too landed somewhere out of sight.

Regina was sure her brain stopped working when she realized Emma was not wearing a bra underneath her dress. Her blonde curls had landed just on top of the most beautiful breasts Regina had ever seen, just waiting to be pushed aside which the brunette did only a heartbeat later. There was no time for soft touches anymore as Regina squeezed and played roughly with the blonde’s nipples.

Emma was nearly howling with pleasure, all the while rocking herself against the brunette.

Regina knew just the way she liked it, with a little pain.

Before long Emma slapped Regina's hands away in order to undress the woman underneath her. The white button up shirt she was wearing was easily ripped off, with few buttons coming lose. Neither woman cared, and Emma was making quick work with Regina's pants before pushing them down. Considering Regina was still laying very much on her back, they managed to undress her rather effectively. It was like they had done it more than once. But they hadn't.

Emma looked down and met the chocolate eyes she couldn't stop thinking about. She reached out with her hand and softly caressed the other woman's cheek. Regina saw something swirling in the green eyes, something she had hoped for but what she wasn't ready to see, not now. Not today.

Instead she yanked the blonde back down from her long hair which made Emma hiss with pain. Regina pressed her lips to Emma's in another wet kiss, needing the contact like she needed air in her lungs. The pale lips slowly made their way down her neck, leaving a path of soft kisses. Regina could feel how her heart was beating wildly as she knew where this was going. What she did not expect was a hard bite to where her neck and shoulder met. It was quickly soothed with a skillful tongue as the blonde made her way downwards.

Emma had left the black lace bra on Regina for a reason, the reason simply being that the former queen looked fucking breathtaking in it. She bit each breast from every possible direction over the bra, each time harder and harder. Regina tried to calm down her breathing, but her chest was heaving without her permission and she could feel her nipples hardening almost painfully. It seemed Emma knew that as well as she pushed down one cup only to bite down. Hard. The brunette let out a strangled sob because it hurt so good.

Emma repeated the action on another breast before sneaking her hand under the queen to open the bra and slip it off her torso. Regina was bare in front of her except for one thing. The thing she wanted the most.

"Emma..." there was a soft whisper and Emma almost thought she imagined it, but then she heard it again. "Emma, please..."

That was something she never thought she would hear as Regina had not done that the first time they slept together. It was clear sign of raw vulnerability and it was more upsetting than anything else. It made Emma shoot back up of her body and wait till Regina met her eyes.

"Regina, are you sure?"

Regina felt how her heart was trying to beat out of her chest. Never had anyone stopped in the middle of sex to ask was she sure. Never had anyone worried over her like that. Never had anyone looked at her like that, ready to stop immediately if she so wished. Never had she felt so safe with anyone as she did with Emma in this very moment.

Instead of being rough like she had been before, Regina reached out with both of her hands. She placed each palm on each pale cheek, looking deeply into the eyes in front of her. Regina hoped Emma saw the raw emotion behind the normally so guarded eyes, she hoped Emma understood how much this all meant to her.

"Yes, I'm sure." she breathed before pulling Emma down for a sweet kiss before whispering against her lips. "I just want you."

Emma pressed another sweet kiss on the red lips before starting to slowly make her way back down. When they had started, most of their movements were fueled by passion and heartbreak. Now there was emotion and wakening and every single slight touch felt like the most delicious burn.

Emma kissed across every bitemark she had left on the flawless body of her former queen. She was breathing in deeply and humming every now and then, the small vibrations feeling pleasant on Regina's skin. The older woman could only feel peace in a way she had never felt before. Her mind was blank of other things, only registering the things Emma was doing to her.

"I have missed you, Regina." was a sudden whisper.

Regina didn't answer, she only listened as Emma explored each part of her body.

"Your soft skin." soft kisses were placed on her right arm.

"Your evil sense of humor." a long lick between her breasts.

"Your laughter." a gentle bite under left breast.

"Your lasagna." a nuzzle against her bellybutton.

"Your moans." a bold lick over the panties just where her clitoris laid hidden.

Emma took a gentle hold of the panties Regina was still wearing to slip them down the toned legs. She took her time, knowing they were in no rush tonight. It had been so long since she had last seen Regina at all, let alone like this. She needed this almost as much as the brunette did.

Emma laid her cheek on Regina's lower stomach and just took a few calming breaths before giving the spot a gentle kiss. "I still remember the way you taste." she whispered, her voice breaking a bit.

Regina was ready to sob because the feelings she had been blocking were gathering up fast and her whole body was shaking with her need. She needed Emma to touch her, to take her, to claim her. She needed to feel.

Without a warning Emma took a slow lick up her slit, using the tip of her tongue to wiggle against her clit. There was such a deep moan and a lot of panting, before Emma did it again which made Regina hit the table with her fists, trying to stay as still as possible. Emma repeated the action a couple more times before she took the entire clit into her mouth and sucked, all the while wiggling her tongue around it.

A scream echoed yet again from the walls. This bedroom had not heard one of this kind of screams in a long time, but Regina found she preferers this kind over anything else. She came gloriously only moments after it, Emma still sucking her clit into her mouth.

Regina felt like her body was twitching without her permission, how it was nearly burning up. There were spots in her vision and she could feel the wetness on her inner thighs. It had been years since she felt like this, nothing had come even close to how Emma made her feel.

While Regina was trying to recover from her orgasm, the blonde happily took on the job of cleaning her queen up, licking around her pussy. She couldn't stop herself from giving Regina couple more gentle licks which made the older woman shake and hum slightly. Climbing up the perfect body under her, Emma gathered the spent woman into her arms and just held her.

Regina was suddenly feeling everything. The absolute bliss of satisfaction, the secure gentleness of Emma's strong arms and the nagging feeling on uncertainty. She had no idea why she had let this happen when she was so unsure and hurt but she was happy it had happened anyway.

They were quiet for a long time, before there was a whisper of a secret. "She's yours."

"Hmmm?" Regina tried to understand what the other woman was referring to. She had almost fallen asleep, feeling like this was going to be one of the rarely peaceful sleeps.

"Hope." Emma whispered, like saying it quietly would be less of a shock. "She is your daughter."

And there is was. The confirmation Regina had searched. She had thought she was going to be happy, but suddenly she was filled with uncontrollable rage once more. Pushing Emma away, she hopped off the table to find her clothes. Ignoring the need for a bra she threw on her shirt and buttoned it as well as she could before there was someone reaching for her arm.

"Regina-"

"No, I don't want to hear it."

"But we have to talk about-"

That made Regina whip around to face the confused blonde. Gone were the confidence and smugness, left was only confusion and hurt. It was sad to see, and it pulled at Regina's heart, but she was too angry to care about any of it. "No, we don't!"

"But she is our daughter and I can't-" it didn't seem like Emma was going to get to finish any of her sentences today because now it was time for the walls to hear the kind of screaming they were more familiar with.

"YOU DIDN'T TELL ME SHE WAS MINE!"

Emma wasn't just going to stand there, being yelled at without yelling back as well. There was that fire again, Regina noted. "I DIDN'T KNOW THAT UNTIL SHE WAS BORN!"

That made Regina stop her dressing as she looked Emma dead in the eyes. The blonde was ashamed, that much was clear but why.

Then it all made sense to Regina. Why Emma had not mentioned anything about it being her baby when she came to the other realm to help them save Henry. Everyone knew she was already expecting; hell, Regina had known it as well and everyone assumed it was Hook's. Which meant-

"You slept with him... around the time we did." Regina's voice broke. "You said that you weren't going to, you said it on the morning you left..." the heartbreak she had been trying to avoid the entire day suddenly crashed through her in the most unexpected of ways. She had not seen this coming, even when she knew the facts. She had not realized how it all somehow fit together in a same timeline and now that she knew... the reality was crushing her.

Emma wasn't meeting her eyes and that was the only confirmation she needed. It was getting hard to breathe, like her lungs weren't accepting the air she was desperately trying to breathe in. She had to take a hold of her chest because it was hurting so bad. It seemed that she had made the right choice to leave after all, since just as she had suspected the entire time, Emma had left her well before that.

Chapter Text

Regina pulled up her pants, feeling the need to cover herself up. She needed the security her clothes were providing her with and she was surer than ever that she needed to get the hell out of here.

"Regina, please let me explain." Emma tried desperately to get the other woman’s attention. From a fast glance it was obvious that the younger woman was close to crying and her already pale face was getting paler. "Gina, please, please. Please, talk to me." and she was full on crying.

Regina had been truthful before. She could not see Emma Swan cry. It did something to her brain, her heart. "What is there to talk about? You really did leave me. You chose him over me. You decided to have a family with him. And then you come here asking me why I left." Regina could feel the tears burning behind her eyes too. "What did I have to stay for, Emma? Huh? Why would I want to stay in Storybrooke, and watch you walk around with him?"

Emma was crying into her hands, shaking her head wildly. It was very unlike Emma to cry when there was someone else there, but Regina wasn't just any regular someone to her. She was her everything.

"I didn't, I didn't mean for it to happen, I-" Emma tried desperately to get her breathing under control in order to talk. "It wasn't supposed to happen, I didn't plan it but it all just... happened." she let out a small hiccup. "And then you started pulling away and then I found out I was pregnant and then Henry asked for help..." swallowing her sobs, Emma managed to continue. "And then you were gone, Regina. I couldn't try to fix it anymore."

"Please, Emma." Regina said while shaking her head. "I don't want to know any more about your dalliance with the pirate than I have to. And it wasn't me who pulled away... You were." finding her other shoe, she leaned on the table to put it on. "You stopped answering my calls and my texts, you stopped showing up for lunch. I didn't see you for a week after it and by the time you came around, my brain had already convinced me that nothing was going on between us anymore. I thought-" now she was crying too. "I thought you regretted it, I thought you were repulsed by having slept with the Evil Queen, I thought you wanted nothing to do with me. It broke my heart!" Regina couldn't help but to scream the last words as she quite literally had to hold onto her chest again.

"Regina, no please." Emma begged her, walking closer but not daring to touch the other woman. "I wasn't repulsed or regretting, I wanted it too. I wanted you, I wanted all of it. But what happened with Hook made me feel so guilty because I did promise you. I promised to take a different path and then I failed, and I couldn't look you in the eye." she took a deep breath, hoping Regina was listening to her. "I was so in love with you... and I still am."

Regina snapped her head up. Had she really heard correctly? Had Emma really said the words the brunette had been dying to hear for years? It was unreal how it was all happening at the same time and it left Regina reeling for the right reaction. But Emma wasn't finished.

"And we created Hope. So, it must mean... that you loved me too..."

Regina closed her eyes.

"Yes, I loved you. I loved you so much." Regina whispered. "Which is why this hurts so bad. I'm battling with myself because all I want to do right now is the reach into my chest and remove my own heart, just to numb the pain I'm feeling." Emma looked alarmed and was about to say something, but Regina cut her off. "But I won't. I won't become my mother who decided that feeling nothing was better than feeling everything."

There was a silence. It wasn't awkward, but it wasn't comfortable either. Regina stared at Emma, trying to memories all the things she most adored about the younger woman. Her soulful eyes, her beautiful hair, her strong arms and stance of confidence. But now there might just be more things she wanted to forget than there was to remember.

Eventually it was Regina who broke the silence. She whispered. "I just wish I could forget all that happened."

"You want to forget me?" Emma sounded so broken.

"No. I just wish I forgot how much I love you." Regina whispered before disappearing in a cloud of smoke.

Chapter Text

Regina had proofed home that night, crying herself breathless. It had been the early hours of the morning before she was finally too exhausted to stay up and she fell into dreamless sleep. Upon waking up she realized how many messages and missed calls she had, because she really had left rather quickly. Both of her sons had wondered where she had gone and was she alright. Zelena had called, texted and even Snapchatted her.

Regina had barely made it down the stairs that morning before Zelena had walked in the house like she owned it, ready to hear everything that had happened. Upon seeing the dried-up tear marks and the heartbreak behind brown eyes, the redhead woman had quickly turned into the concerned big sister as she quite literally flew to hug her little sister.

Regina had cried against her sisters’ shoulder, trying to explain with the best of her ability. Zelena listened attentively, not asking any questions, just being there for Regina. Eventually Regina ended her story by saying. "I just wish I could forget it all."

"You don't mean that, Regina." Zelena said even when it was clear to her that Regina was really hurting and more heartbroken than ever. "You aren't the one to shy away from the people you love. You fight for them, you don't give up and somehow you always have-"

"If you dare to end that with 'hope' I will strangle you with my bare hands." it was hard to take her seriously though as she was still a sniffling mess, cuddling a pillow she was hugging to her chest, all the while leaning on her sisters’ shoulder.

"Sure, you will." Zelena rolled her eyes. "But doesn't even the fact that you have a small daughter sway you? You have a third child, Regina, a little girl."

Zelena's words were cutting in deep, making an attempt at the heart Regina was so carefully trying to hide away from hurt. Regina had done her very best and tried not to think about Hope at all. Because when she did, there was a burst of happiness and love and the only thing she wanted to do was to hold her daughter for the first time and never let her go. But things weren't that simple, they never had been for her. Because in order to have Hope in her life she had to find a way to forgive Emma and have her as a part of her life again. And she didn't know what the blonde was going to think about her claiming motherhood on their daughter when Emma was still married to the pirate.

And that led her right back to heartbreak because she realized that just when she had gotten it all, she lost a massive part of her heart.

"Zelena, please." Regina whimpered. "You know it isn't that simple. She has a family, a mother and a... a father. She has had that her whole life. I cannot just waltz in there, demanding her. I don't know what’s going to happen, will Emma even allow me anywhere near her. I just know that I need this pain to stop."

"Well, Henry having you as a mother, sure didn't stop Emma from stomping in and demanding a spot in his life." Zelena muttered, being familiar with the story of how it all began.

Regina had thought of that, but she also had the first-hand experience of being on the receiving end of the pain that situation had caused. Of course, this was all different in so many ways, but Regina couldn't see past that experience. She wanted something different for their daughter, she wanted to be a part of her life in a way that didn't start with a fight but right now all the roads leading up to Regina being her mother started and ended with war of some sort. They had made that mistake with Henry and she would not repeat that.

"I want my motherhood with Hope to start differently. I want what's best for her." Regina whispered. "I want to give her best chance."

"Does that mean giving up? Because it's starting to sound a lot like that." Zelena looked down at her sister, trying to understand.

"I thought you more than anyone could understand why I can't just go there and claim her." Regina got up from the couch and looked at her sister sadly. "I thought you knew what heartbreak was like."

"I do, Regina, I do." Zelena hurried to say, seeing clearly how every single wall in Regina was getting back up. She didn't want her sister to close down, not on her, not now when she clearly needed someone to talk to. It was unhealthy to keep it all inside and they both knew that, but right now it seemed that nothing could stop this shut down.

"Then why do you push me?" Regina was starting to cry again, not knowing what to do and what to feel.

"Because she loves you!" Zelena said, a tad too loudly as Regina took a step back. Calming herself, trying to compose her thoughts, Zelena continued. "Regina, she loves you so much. She did back then, and she still does. You two have three kids and they are all so amazing. You are on the verge of having it all."

Regina looked down. Things had the opportunity to end up that way, she could suddenly just literally have it all, but the years of experience and misfortune were hard to shake off. It was all too new and raw to be dealt with a positive outcome in mind.

"I can't think of this now, Zelena. I don't want to and I'm not ready." Regina rubbed her hands against her face. She slowly started to walk towards the doorway. "I trust you know your way out. I will talk to you soon, I promise."

Zelena wanted to run after her sister, but she knew better than to start an argument. She wasn't sure had she done more bad than good, but at least they had talked and now she knew where Regina and Emma stood in terms of their relationship. Or at least what had happened.

Going upstairs, Regina wasn't sure what she should do. She wanted to hide in her room for the next few days, not seeing or talking to anyone. But on the other hand, she knew she had a duty, a responsibility to the people she had helped to bring over. Even if she didn't particularly feel like socializing she knew she had to.

But for the next two minutes, she was going to sit down and lock in the pain once more. She had years of experience under her belt, so it was easy. The unwelcome feeling of heaviness settled on her once more, bringing in the familiar thoughts and feelings.

Sitting down on the bed, she looked at the room around her. It felt like very little had changed in 28 years. Only new addition were the pictures of Henry in different ages, but other than that, the room had been like this since she had arrived in Storybrooke. She had always wanted to make changes as this was presenting the old her, the Regina she had somehow left behind but she had never gotten around to do that. Right now, with the pain once again locked in, the room seemed fitting.

Regina heard how the door closed downstairs. It meant that Zelena had left like she had asked her to. It made the brunette sad to have told her sister to leave but right now, she didn't want to hear what Zelena had to say, no matter how wise or how right she was.

Deciding to follow through on her plan of being a good mayor, she entered the bathroom in order to throw all her clothes in the hamper and hopping in the shower. Looking herself in the mirror, she gasped and fresh tears leaked out without her permission. She could see the bitemarks that Emma had left on her body, marring her neck and underneath her breasts. She could still feel Emma on her, the pressure and the delicious pain her teeth were able to provide. Raising her hand, she was ready to get rid of them with magic, but she stopped herself in the last minute.

She was experiencing a weird sensation. She wanted to get rid of the evidence of their meeting, but something was stopping her. Looking at the markings, she realized how much, despite the pain caused, she had missed Emma. It had been years for her since she had last seen her, and these marks were a reminder that just maybe the blonde had missed her too. It definitely had seemed like she had.

Leaving them be for now, Regina hopped in the shower. During her time as the mayor she had a sharp five-minute shower rule for mornings because that was the only way she could ever make it to the office on time. Today was no different.

Dropping her towel to the floor she opened the doors to her walk-in closet to choose an outfit for the day. She opted for a simple pant suit, having really missed them during her time in the Enchanted Forest. There were perks in the carefree and comfortable clothes she had worn there but there was nothing like wearing a good pantsuit. It made her feel powerful, just like her dresses as the Evil Queen had.

Looking at herself in the mirror, she felt just a tiny bit better.

She had gotten up, she had gotten dressed, she was about to leave the house. That was more than she had been able to do the first time and she was proud of herself. How had she ever let Emma Swan into her heart was a mystery to her but there was nothing she could do about it now, because the insufferable woman had taken root there and if she was going to weed her out there was a good chance her already worn out heart would go in half permanently.

Instead of taking the time to do it herself she waved her hand over her face and magic gently applied her make-up and fluffed out her hair to perfection. She was ready to go and do this.

Retrieving her phone, she dialed Snow and made her way down the stairs. There was nothing she needed other than her phone, so she walked out of the door, sealing her house with magic. Of course, there was no telling where everyone happy about being here, so this was a precaution she had to take to protect her home.

"Regina?"

"Snow, we need to get ahead of this situation and figure out who arrived and are everyone okay." Regina wasn't going to hold back on handling this. She needed a distraction and being the mayor was going to be it.

"I mean, yes of course, but are you-"

"And I need you to gather up the dwarfs, so we can send them to the other parts of the town to see which kingdoms arrived where. I need to make a map of everything." Regina was powerwalking down the street towards were the loft was. Snow and Charming were still living there with Neal even when Regina had more than once offered to find a real house for them. The loft was tiny for a family of three and when there was even one extra person staying over, it was cramped.

"Regina, slow down, I-"

"And we need to set up a medical point at the hospital where everyone can get checked out if they so wish. There are also vaccinations I wish people to have because they are not used to this world and there are so many bugs going around they haven't even heard of."

"REGINA!" Snow screamed and that made the older woman stop in her tracks. She was nearly at the loft, she could see the building ahead. Snow hardly ever yelled, actually only ever when she was really really angry, but she didn't sound angry. So why...?

"Regina, are you okay?" this voice was quieter, but so concerned. "I... I heard what happened..."

That made Regina's blood run cold. No. Why would Snow know? Zelena knew better than to tell anyone but that meant... Regina felt lightheaded and like she had to sit down. She was not ready to have another conversation about Emma, and especially not with Snow who was not only someone with considerate amount of concern and empathy but who was also Emma's mother. No, there was no way.

"Snow." Regina said with a warning tone in her voice. "I do not wish to talk about this. I want to get this town and all of its kingdoms sorted out. I don't want to or have time for this."

"I know you do, but you have to talk to someone about this and there is something I have to tell you." Snow said calmly, full well knowing the dangers of getting on Regina's bad side. But there were things bigger than that which had to be addressed and if that meant angering the former queen then she was ready for it. It wouldn't be the first time.

Regina thought it over. She was definitely curious, as Snow often ended up being a guardian of secrets for many people. So, she knew things and there were questions swirling in Regina's brain that still needed their answers. Having Snow being so insistent did not help at all with her grand plan of getting distracted, but she knew there was no way the other woman would ever let this go.

"I will be there in few minutes." was the only thing Regina said before ending the call.

Closing her eyes, Regina took a few calming breaths. That was something Doctor Hopper had taught her all those years ago. When she had been the queen, nothing had stopped her from losing her mind. When someone had angered her, there were no ways for her to calm down and control the following events. She had been in her right mind if one could say that, but she hadn't had the means or the reasons to calm down and keep it together. But ever since Henry arrived into her life, there had been the most perfect reason and he had taught her everything. Things took an unexpected turn when the curse broke, and she got her magic back after 28 years. That's when Doctor Hopper had stepped in and helped her deal with the inner turmoils of her mind.

Heels were clicking demandingly on the pavement. The sound made Regina feel powerful, like she was on a mission, like she was invincible. When she made it to the stairs that led to the loft the sound was even sweeter than the pavement.

She gave two firm knocks on the door and she didn't have to wait for long before the door was pulled open by no other than Snow White. It was strange to be back and see Snow again when for Regina it had been literal years since she had last seen Storybrooke, but it was like no time had passed. Snow looked exactly the same she had looked when the brunette had left. Over the years a certain contentment had laid itself on Snow's features and it really suited the woman. Gone was the stress and constant worry; it was like she had embraced life she had so fully, and she was truly happy.

Regina couldn't help but soften when she saw that look on Snow's face.

She remembered how her heart had cracked even with a mention of Snow White, how much rage she had felt towards her. It was unreal for her to see how things had changed for them and how close they had become. Regina knew Snow cared for her wellbeing and she most definitely did for Snow's. Damn, she had gotten soft.

"Regina, come in." Snow said sweetly, her eyes understanding and kind. Regina tried her hardest not to meet those eyes as there was too much emotion there for her to deal with right now. She just wanted to hear what Snow had to say so they could get to work.

Stepping into the loft gave her the weird sense of de ja vu. She did not particularly enjoy the feeling as she had lived in so many realms and in so many different times that it was more confusing than anything else. There were also times that she'd rather forget, and she did not need random places to remind her of them.

There were memories of teaming up, coming up with plans of action to make sure everyone was safe. So many important realizations had happened in this apartment, if not for her, then to someone else that had severely affected the course of their story. She had had many of important conversations in this very room. Sure, many of the memories here were fond, but this was also where she had felt the worst, like her heart was truly about to turn to dust in her chest.

"Regina."

Regina had no idea how many times Snow had called her name, before she finally registered it and raised her eyes to meet the ones of Snow. The color was similar to Emma's but in every other way they were different. Emma knew how to hide what she was feeling and not even her eyes let out more than what she wanted them to whereas Snow let her eyes nearly leak out everything she was feeling in every single situation.

"What?" Regina didn't want to be annoyed or angry, but she was scared and that was the only way she knew how to defend herself. But Snow knew her, and she just looked on patiently.

Regina audibly groaned in frustration. She wasn't really annoyed at Snow but more at herself for acting this way. Snow wasn't being angry at her, so the situation couldn't be that bad, but the younger woman had said she had something to tell her and that alone made her feel nervous.

"Do you want some coffee?" Snow asked kindly like this was a normal visit, like there had been no years apart, like there weren't numerous new realms all cramped into Storybrooke. Like she knew nothing of what had happened between Regina and her precious daughter. It was like it had been before.

And it was asked with such a kind smile that Regina couldn't help but to return.

"Coffee would be amazing, actually." she sighed and followed Snow to their little kitchen area.

Snow rose to her tippy toes to reach for one of the upper shelfs. She was dangling a special mug in her fingers, a one that Regina always used when she was visiting the Charmings. It was something Neal had gotten her a when he had been smaller because he was an absolute sweetheart and he adored Regina. The feeling was very mutual and since the boy had been small, Regina had been a reoccurring visitor in their loft. She supported Snow and Charming through their first months with a new baby, teaching them everything she knew.

It was downright magical how good the former Evil Queen was with babies and kids in general. The babies truly loved her, and she loved them right back, and there was no child that she couldn't soothe. After adopting Henry everything had changed for her, it felt like her heart suddenly grew in size and there was a special, unharmed part that was entirely Henry's. That part of her heart was fully in action when she was around kids.

Thinking of babies made her heart clenched painfully as her mind drifted to a baby she had seen yesterday. The dark hair, the piercing eyes but most importantly her name. Everything else could be matched to the pirate as well as her but the name was something that felt like a stab to the gut.

She physically shook her head, trying to remove the thoughts of her daughter just as Snow turned around to hand her a cup with horses on it. If she saw Regina's weird behavior she didn't let on as she sat down opposite to her former enemy, taking a long sip of her tea. She never let her eyes wander away from the brunette in front of her.

Regina was sitting on her side, holding onto the cup of coffee for her dear life. Her knuckles were nearly white, and she was getting paler by the minute. There was terror in her eyes, that she wasn't able to hide, and she tried to concentrate on anything else except for the woman in front of her.

Snow sighed. "Regina."

The other woman hummed as a response, not looking up.

"Look at me please."

Without saying a word, the brunette woman took a sip of her coffee without raising her eyes to meet the ones of Snow. The pixie haired woman wanted her friend to look at her while she told her the story and she knew a sure way how to do it.

"Emma came to see me last night."

That did it. Brown eyes shot up.

"She was crying her eyes out; her breathing was out of control and she was unable to calm down. I had to hold her against me for long moments before she calmed down enough to even form a word." Snow kept the eye contact, using her calmest voice because she knew this was going to be hard for Regina to hear. "Do you know what her first word was?"

Regina was sure this conversation was going to destroy her all over again, but she had to hear what Snow had to say.

"What?" she whispered, almost too quietly for anyone to hear.

But Snow did. "She said your name, Regina." she reached to take one of Regina's hands that had let go of the coffee cup in front of her and squeezed it gently. "I'm not telling you any of this to upset you, but I want you to know what happened." at Regina's slight nod she continued her story. "She kept repeating your name over and over again and not once did she stop crying. I have never seen my daughter like this, nothing has ever shaken her up like what happened between you two last night."

Regina opened her mouth, ready to ask a question in return. She wanted to know what Snow knew, how much she knew and how much... in detail. There was a certain amount of shame swimming to the surface, but it was overpowered by her concern and curiosity.

Things had been really good between Snow and Emma for years now but there were still things the blonde didn't share with her mother. Regina had been her best friend for years and she was the one who knew everything about the blonde woman. But things had changed for obvious reasons and she had been gone for... hell she didn't even know how long she had been gone in this timeline. She still didn't think Emma had shared everything if her level of upset was anything to go by, but she wanted to know. Also, Snow had mentioned she had something to tell her and Regina wondered was this is.

She finally gathered her thoughts enough to form a question. "What did she tell you?"

"It took her a while to calm down enough to speak, but she told me everything. Not in detail, if you were wondering but I do know what happened, yes." it was very unlike Snow White to be this direct about things, not feeling a bit of awkwardness when she clearly knew what had gone down. It all left Regina reeling even more than she already was as there had been way too much information in the space of the last ten minutes.

There were too many emotions, too many feelings running though her entire body. Pain. Excitement. Hurt. Confusion. Anger. Exhaustion. Happiness. Love.

Love.

It seemed to always come down to that, didn't it? The Evil Queen in Regina wanted to actually gag at the mere idea of it but it was impossible for Regina to deny. She was still in love with Emma Swan and had been for the longest of times.

And she had no idea what was going to happen next. Some people said that loving someone was like taking a leap into the unknown and that was definitely what was happening right now. And not only did she love Emma, but she was deeply in love with the daughter she knew she had but who she had only seen once. A daughter she didn't know was she ever going to see again, other than from afar. Yes, it always came back down to love, but love also came with pain, pain that was able to destroy you. And right now, Regina felt like she was drowning under the love she was feeling.

She had to find an out and Snow was still there, looking at her, waiting.

"And how do you feel... about that?" Regina whispered.

"Regina." Snow sighed. "It has not been a secret that something happened between you and Emma, that feelings were developed. We all watched you two get closer and happier at the same time. There were decisions we didn't understand, something that you both made. But there was nothing we could have done because it was about your lives. And then you left, and Emma was broken for months. Then Hope was born... She never told me, but I knew. I knew it from the moment I saw Emma hold her. She is your daughter Regina, and mine is in love with you. I hope this is something you two can fix."

Regina closed her eyes and willed herself not to cry. She didn't want Snow out of all people see her break down, because she was definitely feeling a breakdown coming with a huge speed.

Breath. Another one.

A third.

"She hurt me Snow... in ways no one ever has... and I have been hurt a lot. I'm not afraid to admit that I'm in love with her... but I'm afraid that this love might actually kill me."

She opened her eyes and plastered a smile on her face. It was time to end this and get back to work. She needed this, wanted this.

"So, what shall we do about Aurora's kingdom?"

Chapter Text

The day ended up being busier than Regina had ever thought. She knew she had brought over a good number of people, but she had no real idea how far and wide her little town had spread out. There needed to be a map, but she needed help. Biting the bullet, she had called up her sister who truly was an expert on her broom. Zelena had showed up only minutes after the call in a cloud of green smoke. They had not mentioned anything about the morning as they set out to work on the map.

One could magic a map onto a paper, but one also had to see everything first and that was where Zelena came in. With a wicked laugh she jumped on her broomstick and soared into the air. Her red hair was left open and it was whipping around her as she flew in circles, waving her hand over a plank piece of paper.

She took her time, wanting to perfect everything for her sister and when she flew down she had a full map of the new Storybrooke and all of its realms. Regina felt grateful and she asked if her sister would want to join her for dinner when she finished for the day. Zelena had pulled Regina into a tight hug and told her to bring onion rings on her way. With a final wicked laugh, she climbed on her broomstick and flew towards where her house seemed to be.

After that Regina had send the dwarfs into every kingdom, making sure everyone knew where the hospital was. She had not been joking when she said that there were illnesses in this land that most people in the story realms could not even dream of. So, everyone had to be checked and fully vaccinated to ensure safety for everyone. She had met with Dr. Whale in the hospital and helped them figure out an efficient way to deal with the masses of people. He had promised to report back by the end of the day.

Having been the Mayor of Storybrooke before she left, Regina also took it upon herself to set up a meeting for the royalty of each realm. There had to be a plan of action, as it was not the time for wars between kingdoms. There had to be an order, a council that would help them determine how to take care of the people. Regina enlisted Snow's help on the matter as people were still more likely to listen to her than they were of Regina.

Having called in her old secretary, they had worked a full list of things to do for the next couple of days. There were house checks, listing of people, records, schooling for the kids, expanding... Regina felt slightly dizzy just thinking about the work load, but she was also happy, since she bloomed when there was things to do. She would choose business over being bored at any time.

At the end of the day, Marie closed the door behind her as she left for the day. Regina leaned back on her chair and let out a breath. Looking around her office, she felt good for the first time that day. After she had left to help Henry, Snow had taken her spot as a Mayor for a while. She had only taken care of the most pressing matters, leaving a huge pile of other things uncared for. Regina couldn't find it in herself to be annoyed as Snow had done exactly what was required to keep the town running. It wasn't like Regina had given them much of choice as she left rather unannounced.

If she was honest with herself she was happy to have all of Snow's stuff to do as it was keeping her well distracted and busy. There was nothing quite like paperwork to numb your mind and even after all these years Regina found that she actually genuinely liked it.

Getting up from the chair she rounded to the big windows that showed her the backyard of the Town Hall. There it still was. Her apple tree. It seemed to be in good shape even when she had been gone and there had been no one to nurture it. The leaves were all green and lush and there was a good patch of apples ripping. It was going to be a good cider season this year.

Leaning her forehead against the cool glass she stared at the apple tree. It had always been a source of joy for her, no matter where she was. When she had lived in her parent’s estate she had grown this tree from a little seed. It had been by the forest at the time and she went there every day to water it and talk to it. Sometimes she even read her favorite book to it in hopes it would grow faster. And while Regina grew into a young woman, the tree took root and eventually made it's very first apple. She remembered kissing Daniel for the first time under it when the flowers were in full bloom. It had been magical.

When she had moved into the Kings castle she had been without her tree for a while because she had no means to transport it to her new living place. Eventually she had gotten good enough with magic and bringing the tree into the castle garden was the first thing she did. Coming to take care of it was the only way she could hold onto her sanity and her will to live while she was paraded around as the King's wife.

Casting the curse had brought everything worthwhile over and that meant her tree as well. While in castle garden it hardly ever reached a full bloom and she had gotten used to that. She hoped however that this new land would bring change, but it took years for even a single flower to grow. In fact, the first ones appeared when she first adopted Henry.

That brought her mind to the time when she had heard an unusual sound. A saw. A chainsaw to be exact. She couldn't remember when she had ran faster in her heels. She had only seen how there was sawdust bursting from her tree and her heart had actually hurt.

Seeing the cocky Emma Swan standing there with a smile of smugness on her face was both the most infuriating but at the same time the hottest thing in the world. Regina had wanted to do so many things in that very moment, but at the time she anger had won out. As the blonde walked away though, Regina had wanted nothing more than to pull her back from her white tank top and have her against the tree. None the less, even when it was not a happy moment, it was still one of Regina's fondest memories. Emma Swan had quite literally brought up a storm as she arrived. Things had changed.

And after her arrival the apple tree had its first full bloom.

Sighing Regina returned to her desk. She could sign few more things before she was going to head to Granny's to get dinner for her sister and her. She had debated to ask Zelena to stay with her, but she didn't want to keep her away from her daughters. That brought her thoughts back to her own sons and warmth spread through her like it always did when she thought of Henry.

Her grown up son was with his family, having moved in to one of the apartments by the Main Street. Regina had seen them today while she had tried to organize the town to function and the grown Henry had also informed that his younger self had stayed with them since Regina left the diner and that he had wanted to go meet his other mother. That had made the mask nearly slip but the brunette had smiled widely.

She did not want to have any contact with Emma right now, but she also didn't want to do anything to ruin the relationship her son was wanting with his other mother. Her younger son was from the Wish Realm and she had been the one to take Emma away. It was only now occurring to her that she had taken everything from her son from the other realm. It made her heart ache once more.

There seemed to be no stopping the pain she was feeling. Even when she had been the queen, the most feared in all the lands, she had been able to push through her pain, she had been able to lock it up tight without it bothering her without her permission. But becoming a hero had changed all that as the pain she was feeling now was somehow stronger and harder to keep in the wraps.

This was enough for today. She arranged the folders into a neat pile on her desk and turned off all the lights. Locking the door behind her she pulled out her phone to message her sister.

I just finished at the office, but I have one more thing to do before I can go home. I will text you when I'm on my way with food.

She had not made it out of the building before Zelena texted her back. 

Just let me know, I will poof over. Robin and Alice are taking Robin out for dinner, they said they would be at Granny's in an hour. See you soon, sis!

Regina smiled and pushed her phone back into her pocket. Breathing in the fresh evening air, she closed her eyes. The town quieted down considerably when the evening came as it was time for dinner in most homes. It allowed one to enjoy a piece of privacy while walking in town and its normally busy roads. Regina had a destination in mind and instead of poof herself there she decided to walk. Nothing in Storybrooke was too far, at least not the place she had in mind.

While she walked there was someone else she needed to text. Henry had said that the younger Henry was with Emma, but Regina had no idea did he intend to stay there or not. He was already an adult, but Regina still felt concern for him like she always had. Wishing to know what he was planning on doing, she sends the message before stopping in front of her vault.

It used to be hard to step in, as the regret was weighing on her a lot but after reconnecting with her parents in the Underworld and seeing how they moved forward, there was acceptance and understanding when she stood in front of the casket where her parents laid. She pressed her fingers to her lips and placed them on each casket in turn.

Pushing on her father’s coffin a familiar staircase was revealed. She took each step carefully knowing full well how much it was going to hurt if she stumbled down with the heels she was always sporting. One moment of clumsiness had been enough to last her a lifetime.

She had promised Mulan to get on with the forgetting potion and she was going to keep her promise. She knew she had some of the things she needed in her vault, but she wanted to be sure which bits she had and which she had to go on finding. Luckily there were other magical beings in Storybrooke and everyone had a supply of their own. She would be able to borrow some of the situation called for it.

Digging around the vault took her a good while even when everything was in their places. Laying down her spell book she was able to make a list of things she was missing. Making a potion like this should have been harder but it took very little time once you had all the ingredients. She was only missing two and they were easy to come by without asking anyone for help. But they had to wait for tomorrow. She had a dinner date to get to.

Chapter Text

Dinner with Zelena had ended up going really well after they had apologized from each other. They had avoided the topic of Emma and Hope as much as possible and the conversation had been light and comfortable. Zelena had shared stories of today, having been really impressive on her broomstick in front of her daughters. She had promised to teach the older Robin how to fly and Regina listened her sister’s excitement with a real smile edged all over her face.

She could never thank the higher powers enough for her sister. Yes, they had a really rocky start, but they found the strength to fight through that and become closer. Regina had no idea how she would have coped or even survived without her sister. And here they were again, supporting each other and being happy for each other.

Zelena had left soon after dinner, wanting to be home when her kids got there. She hugged her little sister tightly before vanishing in green smoke.

Regina was once again left alone. Henry had messaged her that he would like to stay the night but that he was going to be home for breakfast. Regina had agreed and wished him a good night when he would get that far, and told him how much she loved him. He had texted back not a minute later telling her the same.

There were several things people did when they wanted to stay distracted. Some watched TV, some read, some baked, some listened to music. None of that worked for Regina, none of it ever had. What used to help her was taking a long bath and with that thought in mind, she made her way to the stairs and up to the master bathroom.

Water was slowly filling the tub as she got undressed. She tried her hardest not to look at herself in the mirror as she knew the marks Emma left her with were still there. By the time she had taken off her make up the tub was full, and she slipped in it, humming when the warm water caressed her skin.

There.

This felt better.

She dipped her head under the water just long enough to get her hair fully wet as she pushed them back and out of the way. She felt weightless in the water and that reached her heart as well as it too let go of the weight it was carrying. There was peace.

Her body was quite literally vibrating, as the warm water was working on her tight muscles. Lifting her right had to her shoulders she kneaded them roughly, letting out grunts. Stressing was like a death sentence to her shoulders. If she didn't take care of them she was going to be unable to sleep and later on unable to move. And she most definitely needed to do both.

But it seemed her peace was not meant to last.

She had left her phone on the counter by the sink and now it was vibrating heavily which meant someone was calling her. Regina tried to ignore it, wanting to hold onto the peaceful feeling for a little bit longer but every time she closed her eyes it felt like the vibrating was getting louder and louder. She opened her eyes, ready to get up and answer when the phone stopped ringing. Knowing that if someone really wanted to talk to her they would call again.

She closed her eyes, her body stilled, and her heartrate went down.

And there it was again. Regina sat up in the tub so fast that there was a splash from the sides of the tub and now the floor was wet. The brunette tried to ignore that as she stared hard at the offending phone, vibrating yet again. She waved her hand to answer the phone and barked out.

"What?!"

"Regina, have you seen Emma?!" there was genuine alarm in Snow's voice as she spoke loudly into the phone.

"No, I haven't seen her since yesterday. What is going on?" Regina tried to damper down her worry as she waited for an explanation of the situation.

"We cannot find her. She had dinner with Henry, but she had excused herself into the bathroom and suddenly she was gone. He couldn't find her, and we happened to come by the diner." Snow was explaining, and Regina tried to hurry up from the tub, being mindful of not falling down on the slippery floor.

"I will be right there, Snow. Are you still at the diner?" Regina was drying herself faster than she ever had, taking hold of her phone and running to the bedroom to get dressed. She pulled on her jeans and a simple tank top and a jacket. She paid no mind to her make up free and wet hair as she appeared into the diner.

She came face to face with a worried face of her younger son who looked quite ready to cry as well even when he was already an adult. Snow, Charming and Neal were also there, the former still holding a phone to her ear. Regina clicked their call closed before crossing over to hug her son.

Henry was holding onto her for dear life, not saying anything but clearly worried. Regina was rubbing his back, asking him was he okay and to tell her what happened.

"I don't know mom. She was here just now before she went to the bathroom. She didn't come out for the longest of times and then I asked Granny Lucas to go and check if she is still there. And she wasn't. And I don't know is it something I did or said or anything, but she was gone like she was last time and I-" Henry was rambling and there were tears leaking from his eyes that were so like Emma's.

It occurred to Regina that the reason she could not handle seeing Emma cry was the fact that she was physically unable to see Henry cry and they were so similar in so many ways.

"Shhh, it’s okay. I'm sure it was nothing you did, dear." Regina pressed a kiss to his forehead before locking eyes with him. "Your mother had just been through a lot and I plan on finding her and bringing her home. Now, I want you to go home with your grandparents, alright?" as she was speaking Snow had come closer, listening in on their conversation and at the mention of grandparents, she stepped closer and laid her hand on Henry's shoulder.

"Will you be alright?" Regina asked, knowing full well what her younger son had been through.

"Yeah. Just bring her back please, mom." Henry seemed still worried to her stomach, but he put on a brave face.

Regina locked eyes with Snow. "I will call you. Have you called Hook?"

"I haven't yet. I thought I would start with you." there was a mutual understanding flowing between them. "I know that if anyone can find her it's going to be you."

Regina only gave a nod before she packed away towards the door. She was through it before anyone had a chance to say anything more. Walking to the now dark streets of Storybrooke, Regina breathed in the fresh air. There were new challenges when it came to finding someone as there were way more hiding places than there were in the old Storybrooke.

But the thing with finding Emma Swan, was to know what she held dear. She as well as Regina only went to places she found comfort in, which held memories and where her heart had once been happy. Emma had been the one to find Regina when she needed solitude and Regina tried to think of places that would provide that for the blonde.

Emma could be by the docks as she loved to listen to the waves. She had once told her that Killian loved that about her, even when the waves had absolutely nothing to do with the pirate. They had been a comfort sound ever since she was young.

Ruling that out as it was somewhere everyone could find her, she thought of other places where the younger woman could be. There were the bug or Henry's old castle but those too were places where anyone could find her, and Emma Swan would not run away from a dinner with their son to go to a place where she was easily found.

That's when she suddenly realized exactly where the blonde was going to be. She waved her hands as she disappeared with a purple smoke everywhere around her with words echoing in her mind.

I understand why it was so meaningful to you. It was part of your home, you came to it when you wanted to be alone. I'm sorry I took a chainsaw to it.

Chapter Text

Regina appeared by the side of the Main Hall that was the way to the backyard. It was mostly dark but there were few garden lights in there that Regina had installed herself when she had first come to Storybrooke. There were also some fairy lights left from one of the many parties the town had had since they had declared a year of calmness. It all created a bright enough hue, so she could see was there someone else in the backyard.

And there she was, sitting under the apple tree, leaning heavily on its trunk.

As Regina walked closer, she could see how Emma's long blonde hair was left open and it was flying around a little bit in the wind. She was dressed like she had been when she first strolled into the town and it almost made Regina stop in her tracks. Like the curls, the attire was also something that made it so easy for Regina to imagine it being a different time for them. But that was not true, and they were here now, living the life how fate had intended.

Regina was sure Emma knew she was there and without saying a word she sat down next to the blonde, leaning her back against the tree to mirror the other mother of her children. For the longest of times they were quiet, only air surrounding them with the fairy lights looking like bright stars against the dark night sky.

Eventually it was Emma who broke the silence and Regina had been completely unaware that the other woman had been crying until she heard the tears in every word.

"Is Henry angry at me?"

"He is more worried than angry. You left rather quickly, and he is afraid something happened, and that he is going to be left again." Regina saw no reason to sugarcoat the truth as this was something serious and important both of them should be aware of. Their two Henry's had a different set of experiences and fears and it was clear this was one of younger Henry's.

There was a sharp intake and a shuttering breath out as Emma tried to keep her emotions under control. Regina gave her all the time she needed because no matter what, she cared for Emma and her wellbeing.

"I have to talk to him." Emma whispered. "I did not mean to leave him but there was something he said that kick started a lot of things that I couldn't control."

"What was that?" Regina tried to think what could be something that would trigger Emma like that. This Henry had grown up with Emma since he was a baby and they were really close. They had been apart for a while but in their hearts, they knew each other well.

"He asked me about you." Emma smiled slightly. "He knew a little bit since you had gotten to know each other, and he knew how much you loved him. There were still a lot of questions about the past and even more about this town and this life. And about our family." she took another deep breath. "He had seen Hook yesterday but the whole situation had left him more confused than anything, so he asked me. He wanted to know are you and I together, because of Hope and because he had seen how I looked at you in the diner."

Now Regina understood. Emma had been deeply affected by what happened between them and had gone to her mother of all people in such emotional state. So, it was no wonder that she had needed to excuse herself if their smart, all seeing son had asked her such a set of questions. She still waited to hear how the story continued, not knowing what to say.

"I tried to answer but there was still so much I didn't know an answer to and I didn't know what we are going to tell Henry, Henry's." she looked so adorable when she was confused. "I ended up panicking and excusing myself and no matter how hard I tried to calm down I couldn't. And I ended up..." she swallowed thickly.

"Running." Regina whispered, feeling that word in her heart.

They were quiet for a while again, both looking forward, deep in thought. Regina felt like she was living the feelings of last night again. She wanted to be around Emma, like she always had but she could feel her heart hurting and her brain screaming at her to leave. But the need to be around someone she loved so very dearly was bigger than any of that, so she sat there, snuggled against her apple tree.

"What are some of the questions you don't know answers to?" she had to break the silence, also she was more than a little curious. Curse her mind.

"Well, there are loads." Emma said and there was something in her tone that felt familiar, a bit lighter. Like it was when they talked before things got messy. "I don't know what we are to each other. I don't know do you want to meet Hope. I don't know are we ever going to be the same again. I don't know-"

"That sure is a lot of I don't knows, and I can say that I do not have all the answers either. So much happened in the last 24 hours and I have had no time to deal with any of it." Regina took a breath. "I do know an answer to one of the questions however, but it is followed by a question of my own."

"Tell me." this was the first time Emma turned to look at Regina and the brunette could feel the piercing eyes on her. She knew this conversation was important, so she met the green eyes.

"I do want to meet Hope, she has been on my mind quite a bit and I find myself loving her already. But my follow up question is... who will I be to her?" she could feel her heart hurt with the pressure of the question. She knew this was not something to be answered lightly and she was willing to give Emma all the time she needed.

"I want you to meet her, I want to see you hold her for the first time. She really looks so much like you." Emma smiled slightly before closing her eyes. "I don't know how we are going to do this. I have not been able to look at Killian since yesterday and I barely have held Hope because of the guilt I'm feeling. I feel guilty for what I did to you, to us all those years ago and I feel guilty for lying to Killian about everything. You are Hope's mother and you will be introduced as such, but I do have to speak to Killian first."

Regina wasn't sure what she wished the answer would be, but this made her happy but more than anything she felt confused. What was Emma going to tell Hook?

"What are you going to say to him?" she had to know.

"The truth." Emma swallowed before looking forward again. "It will be painful to hear, it will quite literally devastate him, but I have been living like this for years, living a lie with someone I don't love, raising a daughter that's not even his. He will be angry that's quite certain, but I'm through." it was clear Emma was hating the words she was saying, hating the hurt she was going to cause.

"Are you sure?" Regina heard herself asking, knowing full well that Emma could not continue living like this but even after all this time she was willing to help in any way possible if it meant Emma was saved from further pain.

Emma laughed sadly. "Yes, Regina. I know I have to do this, hell I should have done this ages ago. It would have been right for anyone. If I had been brave enough I would have followed through on the plan we had..." Emma whispered the last part and Regina could not stop staring at her.

If they just had talked like adults, so many things would have been so much clearer from the beginning. This day of heartache could have been avoided, although maybe in the grand scheme of things it all had to happen this way in order for them to connect again.

"I'm sorry, Regina. For doing wrong by you and hurting you. I promised you back then that I would never hurt you again and I ended up doing it more than once after that." Emma looked at Regina then. "I know things aren't magically fixed with just apologizing but I will show you. I promise."

Regina felt like her heart was soaring with the promise the woman by her side had made but she knew there was still a massive chance things weren't going to work out. She had been let down once and it had hit her harder than anything. There was fear, the kind that freezes your body.

"I know you are emotional now, Emma and you want to fix it between us, but please... don't make promises you might not be able to keep." Regina whispered, locking eyes with the blonde. "Last time... Emma you broke me. I have never been broken even when people tried. I thought there was no bigger pain than losing Daniel but the feelings I had for you, how much I wanted you... it was bigger, and I have never felt so betrayed. So please, don't promise me anything."

Regina was hardly ever so open with her feelings, in fact Emma was the only person who had ever heard her share so openly and such intimate details about her and her feelings. Regina knew she wasn't easy, she knew it was difficult for people to get to know her for this very reason, but Emma had. She somehow had got to know her before they became friends and her knowledge of Regina's ways had made them a match in more ways than one.

"Regina." Emma took her hands and pressed then against her lips. "I'm so sorry."

"Thank you." Regina whispered, looking at the blonde curls cascading down Emma's shoulders. "So, what do you want to do? I mean, I think we have to have some sort of a plan." Regina swallowed hard, trying to reign it all in.

Emma righted herself and looked off in thought. After a while she locked eyes with Regina once again and asked in the most Emma-like way. "Do you still love me?"

Regina was not expecting that, but she had nothing to hide. For once she had a simple answer to her feelings.

"I never stopped."

That made Emma beam and inch closer. "I want you to meet your daughter, I want to fix this somehow. If you feel the same by the end of it... maybe, you'll give me a second chance?" she looked so hopeful it was nearly painful for Regina to see.

"Maybe. No promises." Regina said but she was smiling all the same. Maybe this was going to work out for her, for them and their entire family. Just maybe.

Emma Swan had gone from an 'oh' to a 'maybe'.

Maybe we will be together. Maybe things will work out. Maybe she is my happy ending.

Maybe we will make it.

The blonde leaned her head against the brunettes and they both closed their eyes and sighed, like suddenly they were complete. They subtly snuggled closer to each other, settling comfortably against the tree. They were silent because suddenly there were no words that needed exchanging. Being silent but together was enough for them right now.

What eventually broke the silence was vibration against Regina's side as someone was trying to reach her once more. She pulled the phone from her pocket and saw who was calling. Pushing the phone into Emma's hand, she gave her an encouraging smile. Emma looked down and gulped, looking at Regina with a slight panic.

"You can do it."

With the reassurance, Emma took a breath and answered the call. "Hi, kid."

There was a worried series of question, each of them answered by Emma only a second later. Regina could hear tears and it pulled at her heart that she was away from their son when he was upset. Feeling Regina move restlessly against her, Emma locked eyes with her and mouthed 'it will be okay'. Then she answered yet another question but before Henry could come up with a new one, she stepped in. "Henry. I cannot even begin to tell you how sorry I am for stepping out on you like that. I did not mean to, but my emotions got the best of me and I didn't want you to see me like that. It was unexpected, and I didn't know how to deal with it so I ran. I'm sorry."

There was silence on the line and both mothers were waiting, holding their breath. Then there were words and Emma exhaled deeply, relieved by her sons answer. Soon tears welled up in her eyes as she was listening to the devotion their son had for her and Regina could do nothing more but to stare up at the other woman.

Emma had come such a long way and it was a privileged to see her like this now. Being able to open up when needed and to people she loved was a big step for her. Regina felt happy she was included in that short list and she looked on proudly as Emma tackled yet another moment as a parent. You had to be able to apologies and be honest when you did wrong by your child. It had been something that took Regina a bit of a longer time to understand but she knew it now.

Emma was wrapping it up with Henry when she suddenly looked at Regina, repeating the question the boy had just asked. "You want to know where you are going to stay tonight...?"

"Wherever he wants." Regina whispered.

"Your mom said that you can choose where you want to stay." Emma answered and there was an answer that Regina couldn't quite make out. "I will let her know. I will see you soon, kid. I love you. Bye."

She handed Regina back her phone as Regina looked on waiting to hear what their son had decided. "He was asking if it was okay to stay with me tonight...?" Emma eventually said, looking rather worried about what Regina might think.

"Of course. I want him to be able to choose where he stays and after today, its best that he does stay with you tonight." Regina had no problems with letting Henry stay with Emma, because no matter what was going on between them personally, Emma was an amazing parent. She put her children first and she was fiercely protective, traits that Regina really admired about her.

"Thank you. I guess we have to talk about this whole shared parenting thing as it got suddenly relevant again, huh?" Emma asked suddenly awkwardly.

"Yes, I imagine we must. Why don't you join me for dinner tomorrow?" Regina asked carefully.

Emma shot up and looked down at Regina wildly. Regina could see concern and excitement, wrapped up in happiness. Emma's reaction was really cute, and Regina actually felt a blush rise to the surface.

"Really? Are you sure about that?" Emma asked, wanting to make sure she had understood correctly.

"Yes. I do realize we have a lot to talk about. And there are several points we have to cover, also I need your intel in helping me run this town and it's realms." Regina was slightly regretting her teenage-like actions and she was trying to turn this into business as fast as possible.

That didn't fool Emma. The blonde surged forward to wrap her arms around Regina in a bone crushing hug as she pressed her face into her neck. "Thank you, thank you, thank you."

"Why are you thanking me?" Regina wasn't going to miss a chance to hug Emma, as she held onto the blonde just as fiercely.

"For not hating me." Emma whispered. "For giving me a chance."

Regina felt like something about this was rubbing her all wrong. She pushed Emma away and when the blonde looked at her alarmed, she placed both hands on either side of Emma's cheeks. She needed to clarify something.

"Emma. Listen to me. I don't want this to be some sort of quest. I don't want you to only do good because you want to fix it between us. I want you to be you. I fell in love with you, Emma. With your questionable sense of humor. With your adorable giggle. With the way you leave the peas on your plate, thinking no one notices. With the way you seem to know everything about me. With the way you care. With the way you use way too much hand lotion and always argue I have to take half of it when you have too much. I don't want you to try to woo me, because you already did it. I want you to right the wrong you did, not only for my sake but for our daughters and even Hooks. I might not like him but he doesn't deserve to live in the dark." Regina broke the eye contact long enough to swallow. "You did a lot of harm, but somehow I'm still madly in love with you. Somehow you still are the one I want."

Emma was holding onto the hands that were laying on her cheeks and she was looking deeply into Regina's eyes. Regina had no idea what the other woman was thinking but she had said her piece and now she only had to wait.

"I understand." Emma was simple and to the point. "Do you want me to bring Hope tomorrow?"

Regina felt conflicted. She wanted to hold her daughter more than anything, but she wanted to do this right.

"I want to hold her when I can tell her I'm her mother, so after you have told Killian about... things." Regina said, smiling painfully because having to wait didn't seem like a good option.

Emma noted but didn't let go of Regina's hands. They kept staring at each other, feeling at peace and Regina couldn't stop her heart from pumping happiness all over her body. Maybe things were going to work out for them after all.

"I have to return you to Henry." Regina whispered when the silence had continued for too long. "And your parents are expecting an explanation of some sort, so I'd prepare for that."

"Yeah, right." it seemed that Emma was struggling to return to planet earth. "I will be sure to call them."

Regina noted and made a motion to get up. A soft hand on her arm stopped her and she turned to look at the blonde who was still leaning against the tree. Regina was sure that Emma Swan was the most beautiful woman she had ever seen in all the lands, in all the realms, in all the timelines and in all her dreams. And she took her breath away.

"Am I allowed to kiss you?" it was a sweet question, but it set the brunette on fire in the most delicious and painful of ways.

She wanted Emma's lips on hers so badly it was nearly hurting. She wanted to feel the connection they so effortlessly created together. She wanted to feel Emma's hands brush the length of her body, roughly. She wanted Emma and the question in its simplicity was too much for her right now.

With every bit of strength, she could muster, she pushed out the words that felt sensible and fair to everyone. Well, not her but she had to be good. "No. Not yet. When things are... sorted. We have to be fair, Emma."

The blonde actually pouted but still muttered her understanding. "Yeah... I do imagine you are right."

"But." Regina said, and Emma perked up instantly. "If you'd feel happy with a hug I'm more than happy to accommodate."

Emma was up from the ground faster than Regina was and she helped the older woman up. Regina spread her arms open and the blonde snuggled in closer. Regina could feel how Emma pressed her entire face into her neck and breathed in her scent. It was more intimate than it had ever been before, and they had hugged numerous times before. The brunette was holding tightly onto the back of Emma's shirt and even thinking about letting go seemed like an impossible idea.

What stopped them this time was not hers, but Emma's phone ringing in her back pocket. She reached for it with one arm and lifted it up, so she could see who it was. Regina could feel how she stiffened in her arms.

"What's wrong?"

Emma didn't answer, and Regina pulled back to look at her face. There were worry lines on the blonde’s face that weren't there a few years before. Even when she truly was the most beautiful one for Regina, she was also getting older and the years of worry and pain were starting to leave marks on the pose line skin. Her soft green eyes had suddenly hardened with the rest of her body.

"Emma?" Regina was getting concerned and she tried to turn around to look at the phone.

"Killian called." Emma said and turned the phone, so Regina could see the name still flashing on the screen. Regina understood why Emma hardened because her body had a same reaction as guilt and disgust filled her mind.

"You should go." Regina said, stepping back fully, her arms falling from around Emma. Her walls were slowly starting to rise and there was nothing she could do to stop it. She felt jealousy, she felt pain, she felt sadness. Trying to keep an open mind about their new situation was hard because there were no guarantees it was going to work.

She was ready to trust Emma with her life, but her heart was another matter. The other woman had broken it once, who was to say she wouldn't do it again. Who knew was she going to keep her promise this time around and confront Hook.

Who knew indeed.

Regina could see Emma's concern as the blonde took a step closer. But Regina knew this meeting needed to end, right now.

"Go home, Emma. I will see you tomorrow."

Without saying another word, the brunette turned around and left the confused blonde under the apple tree, still lit by fairy lights.

Chapter Text

Regina didn't really sleep during the night. There were few hours here and there but the sleep was restless and filled with nightmares. Not the kind where you wake up with a start and are covered with cold sweat, but the kind where you wake up exhausted and disoriented, feeling heavy with what your brain was serving you with.

She got up when the first bit of sun shone past the White Castle that was now blooming in the distance. Regina was working on autopilot, going through her morning chores, trying to keep her mind off of tonight and what might happen and what things might mean. She had work to go to thank the heavens, so there was something to keep her busy. Otherwise she would end up dying with the anxiety she was feeling about seeing Emma for dinner.

Mayor started usually at 9 am but Regina had already had a large cup of coffee, walked all the way to the office in heels and signed a stack of papers by the time it was 8 am. She was scared she would run out of things to do before it was time for her to go home and get ready for dinner. Her fears were soothed when Marie arrived to work with a stack of new things for her to approve and go over. She also reminded Regina that there was a town meeting next week and they really needed to prep for it.

Suddenly it was lunchtime and her stomach was growling like there was no tomorrow. And in fear there might not be, she got up, dusted off her navy-blue pencil skirt and collected her bag. Walking past Marie, she told her to go enjoy the sunshine and have some lunch, but the young girl pulled up pre-prepared lunch from her bag with a smile. Regina appreciated the readiness of the other woman and she gave a small wave before exiting the Town Hall.

It was indeed very sunny, and Regina spend her entire way to Granny's waving at people. She really did know everyone, and everyone seemed to be on a really good mood. It was a wonderful difference to the times when everyone used to be scared of her.

She entered Granny's her head in the skies, thinking of old days and the change that had happened. She didn't notice that someone was calling her name until she nearly hit a table. Her eyes zeroed on Mulan who was sitting in one of the booths and Regina made her way quickly to her.

"Hello, Your Majesty." Mulan greeted officially.

"You can call me Regina." Regina said, feeling like her old title was way too formal and outdated. "Please, I rather be called Regina."

"Alright then, Regina." Mulan smiled a little bit and then leaned closer and whispered. "Are you any closer to figuring out the potion?"

Regina felt guilty that she wasn't faster, but she had alot on her plate at the moment. Town wise but also in her personal life. She didn't want to tell Mulan that though, because she knew how the warrior was feeling. So long had she felt the same pain as she had. So long had she wished nothing more than to be with the woman she loved, and so long had she needed to watch from the sidelines.

"I'm working as fast as I can. I'm missing few more things and I haven't gotten around to get them. It's easy and fast once I have everything I need." Regina explained, talking just as quietly as the other woman.

"Is there something I can help you to find?" Mulan asked, looking very much like a woman who just wanted to get distracted as much as possible. Regina hadn't realised how similar they were in so many ways but there was certain comfort there. She had never had anyone who could relate to her heartache.

Regina pulled a list from her bag, showing it to Mulan. "I'm missing only few and they should be rather easy to come by. I would greatly appriciate the assistance." Regina gave a small smile.

Mulan took the list and examined the ingredients still missing. She seemed to accept the challenge to find them as she put the list into her pocket for safe keeping. Regina felt compelled to make sure the other woman was feeling alright, so she asked a kind question.

"Are you doing alright?"

To her surprise Mulan actually answered and truthfully at that. "Better, but still not great. Storybrooke is a beautiful place and there are alot of places where I know she would never go. I get to be alone if I wish and that is often the case." the warrior actually smiled a bit. "I have also made some friends which too was an unexpected occurrence, but I really enjoy it here."

There was a level of softness that had been missing the last time they talked and Regina wondered that maybe things were changing for Mulan as well. Maybe not in the same way they were for Regina but there was happiness in things the younger woman spoke of.

"It seems to be going better than well." Regina smiled just as a waiter came to take her order. She ordered what she always ordered when she came to Granny's because it sure had been way too long since she was last here. It was good to be home.

"How about you? How are you?" Mulan asked, tilting her head a little. Regina thought about it. She was better but was it going to last? Was it worth mentioning and was she going to jinx it all by saying something?

"I'm alright. Not fantastic but... better. As you said." Regina said and looked down on her hands that she had set on the table. She did not want to go deeper into the topic and it seemed like Mulan noticed that as the other woman changed the subject to town matters.

Regina realised that she had never heard the other woman talk so much and she really enjoyed her company. It was nice to have a friend, for a lack of better word for it. Regina also realized that she could definitely use the other woman's help on figuring out how to best communicate with the other kingdoms of Storybrooke.

By the end of lunch Mulan had promised to help and she would be showing up to Town Hall in few days to hear more details about her work. Regina left Granny's feeling good, but as soon as she stepped back into her office, the concern was back on full force and she couldn't help but to stare at the clock.

Two more hours before she could go home.

Four more before she would see Emma.

The weird part was, they had not agreed on a time. They had not been in touch at all today, even when Regina secretly wished her phone would light up with a message from the blonde. None the less the older woman knew when Emma was going to show up. It was their dinner time.

7 pm. Sharp.

That's what it had always been, ever since Regina first invited Emma to join her and Henry for dinner. And when once a week turned into two times a week, the time was still the same. Even when Emma might have already been in the house before that, dinner was still being served at 7 pm. Regina was precise that way.

She had planned to make something that Emma really liked. The blonde was a great admirer of her cooking and she always let her know how much she appriciated the meals and how proud she was of Regina for learning to make all of that by herself. Regina could feel her cheeks heat from the mere thought of Emma's sweet smiles and small moans as she devoured her food.

The blonde had a particular taste for her lasagna but today was going to be different. Once, after they had become friends, Emma had mentioned that she loved chicken, especially if it was deeply marinated in BBQ-sauce. Regina had been eager to please as well as eager to try to make something new, and when she had served the meal to the blonde, Emma had been over the moon. She was going to surprise her with that tonight, paired off with sweet potato fries and a freshly made salad.

Regina couldn't wait to go home and get started.

 



"Fuck fuck fuck!"

Regina stomped her heel clad foot by her front door before bending down to pick up her keys she had dropped. Putting a key to a keyhole shouldn't be this hard but she was in a rush so of course it became impossible.

She had been anxious to go home, damn near even bored of the dull paperwork and as she had been ready to leave, Marie had barged in with some of the renovators she had hired to do fixing to the new school building. There had been a problem, a misunderstanding that somehow could not be fixed without the Mayors help. Regina had ended up staying an hour overtime before she finally put her foot down and threw everyone out and told them to come back tomorrow. She had sped home not caring about the speed limit as she had dinner to prepare and shower to take.

Now she finally managed to open the door as she stumbled through and kicked her heels off. Hurrying into the kitchen she preheated the oven and took out the chicken she had left to marinade. She thanked the heavens that the meal she had in mind was fairly easy and fast to prepare especially since she had gone off her way to do as much beforehand.

After checking it was all okay in the kitchen she ran up the stairs and swooshed into the shower. She took few calming breaths before pulling the shirt over her head. Turning towards the mirror, she looked over her body.

Brushing her fingertips under her bra clad breasts she touched the faint mark that Emma had left behind. There was only a bit of it left and it was only a matter of time before it was going to be gone for good. Regina realised how much she was going to miss the reminders of their passion as she closed her eyes.

She didn't know what was going to happen tonight, but she tried not to be too positive. Wishing for the best had never really worked out for her and when it was about something as sensitive as this, she tried to keep it all pushed way down. Because if she was hoping for very little and that's what she would end up getting, at least there would be the satisfaction of her being correct. And if things turned out differently... then she would be surprised, and her life would change for the better.

Trying to get out of her own head she jumped into the shower and made great time washing her hair. While brushing the soap onto her body she couldn't stop the humming that immediately started. Her body was sensitive, responsive... shaking. Emma really had started a fire in her that was impossible for her to control and there was no putting it out. Regina did few extra rounds around her breasts, biting her lip. She wanted to do more but she knew she had to go and prepare dinner for Emma.

Regina knew this was going to be a casual dinner as all dinners with Emma were and she was looking to be as comfortable as possible. So, upon opening the doors to her walk-in closet, she chose a soft pair of her black, ass hugging jeans and a simple black top. She hand applied a bit of make-up and dried her hair before giving it a fast brush through.

Hurrying downstairs, she could feel her nerves set in and for the first time the entire day she started to wonder would Emma even show. She had let her down before and there was always a chance she would do it again. But that was when Regina remembered the way Emma had looked at her under the apple tree yesterday and even when they had locked eyes before, there was something different there. That gave her hope she would show anyway.

Diving head first into cooking actually turned out to be a good distraction as her entire focuss was in making this her best meal yet. She knew she had a bit of time but zoning out was suddenly so very easy as she cut the sweet potatoes into thin enough fries as she knew Emma liked them.

So, in her own head she was, that the sudden high pitch ring of the doorbell nearly made her drop the pan she was holding under the water in the sink. Regina could feel her heart racing and her breathing picked up a little bit. Her head whipped up to check the time from the clock she had hanging in the kitchen.

7 pm.

Putting the pan down as calmly as possible she made her way out of the kitchen and towards the front door. With every step she could feel her heart beat faster and by the time she reached her hand to open the door, she was sure she would be having a heart attack.

"One, two, three..." Regina whispered, trying to concentrate on that for a while to regulate her breathing. "You got this, Regina, you got this." it was unlike her to give herself pep talks but right now she needed something, and this was the best she could provide herself with as a drink was out of the question.

The pulled the door open fast, like a band aid.

Raising her eyes to see the person behind the door made her breathless once again but for a different reason she was expecting.

Tears were suddenly running down her face and she raised her free hand to cover her mouth. Her lower lip was quivering a lot under it but there was nothing she could do to stop the sob that bubbled out.

"Emma..."

"Who's that Hope? Is that your mommy?"

Chapter Text

Hearing Emma say those words was something so heavenly to her and she couldn't believe the way her once broken heart suddenly seemed completely mended. She couldn't take her eyes off the tiny baby Emma was holding securely in her arms, a baby who looked around curiously with a tiny hint of smile on her features.

Regina could feel her legs starting to shake slightly and her grip on the door got tighter as she tried to hold herself up with the best of her ability. Everything was suddenly so much, maybe even too much. Her feelings for the blonde and their small daughter mixed in with a lifetime of agony and betrayal and heartbreak was not a combination she was enjoying at all. But then there was relief. Like suddenly there was sunlight in her darkness, like none of the pain mattered when there was a literal open door for happiness.

All the pain was worth it to be in this very moment.

"Regina? Are you alright?" Emma was getting concerned because Regina was getting paler by the minute.

Finding no words, the brunette just nodded wildly, tears still spilling from her eyes. She wanted to say more, to do more but right now it seemed like she was unable to. Opening and closing her mouth, she tried to somehow convey her feelings and somehow... Emma understood.

The blonde freed a hand from under their daughter and pried Regina's hand off the door and pulled it around her shoulder, so the other woman could find support in her. Regina leaned heavily against her savior, feeling the blonde hair tickle her nose and Emma's sweet shampoo surrounding her.

Emma helped Regina into the living room and gently lowered her down on the couch before sitting next to her. Regina had been so floored by the sudden presence of their daughter that she only now had a chance to concentrate on Emma.

The blonde looked breathtaking. She was wearing a simple, soft black dress that hugged her curves and left her arms bare for Regina's wandering gaze. Her hair was curled, and she even had done her make up. Regina couldn't remember the last time she had seen Emma do that. She couldn't help herself as she had to reach towards the other woman to gently grace her face with her fingertips.

"Regina?" Emma whispered, taking a gentle hold of the hand that was still touching her face.

"Hmmm?" Regina hummed, having hard time taking her eyes off the love of her life who was currently so casually sitting next to her on the couch.

"Are you okay?" there was such genuine concern and love in Emma's voice and that somehow seemed to be the last nail to Regina's coffin.

Regina could feel her chest slowly starting to ache in waves and how her breathing was getting out of control again. There was a new river of tears leaking out of her eyes and finally a violent sob broke out, freeing her chest of the pressure it had been feeling. She pulled her hand free from Emma's and pressed both against her own face, trying to control her emotions and hide away.

She didn't want Emma and more importantly Hope, to see her like this. Emma had seen her show more emotion than anyone else ever had, but right now she felt too open and too raw to be seen by anyone let alone by these two. Feeling another sob starting to bubble inside her, she prepared to get up and seek privacy.

Before she managed to get up and before Emma even properly opened her mouth, someone else had something to say.

Both mothers froze, when a high pitched scream left the lips of their small daughter who was still laying securely in Emma's arms. If babies were able to show determination, that's what was set on Hope's little face. She was staring at her brunette mother who couldn't help but to stare back.

Regina didn't even notice that by staring at Hope she actually calmed down considerably and was no longer crying. Emma noticed that however as she moved a little bit closer, rocking Hope gently.

"Do you want to hold her?" she whispered, looking back and forth between her favorite girls.

Regina opened her mouth couple of times, failing to form words in the first couple of tries but eventually she managed to breath out one single word.

"Yes."

Emma came close enough, so their legs would touch and pushed Hope towards the already outstretched arms of Regina.

As soon as Hope was fully in her arms, pressed tightly against her chest, Regina felt a burst of love. She had been affected by many curse breakings before, but there had been only one time when she had been in the center of one. It had been when she had kissed Henry and the curse had broken.

True Love.

As this was not a kiss, there seemed to be only one reasonable explanation, something Regina was still awed and insanely curious about. Hope was a product of True Love, of their true love. Her other mother was a queen, well, a former queen and the other one was the savior. And Emma herself was a product of a True Love as well.

This was the first time she was holding her true love child, which must have been the cause of the burst. But Regina knew there was no love deeper than the love you had for your child and this was once again proof of that. She gently touched Hope's soft little cheek and the baby smiled at her. The only thing Regina could do was to smile back as she was overcome with emotion.

"Hello, my darling." Regina whispered. "I'm your mommy. I'm... I'm your mommy." the emotions were once again getting the best of her as she sniffled lightly. But nothing could take the blinding smile off of her face right now.

She could see Emma looking at them from the corner of her eye. She didn't know what had happened with Hook last night, but she hoped from the bottom of her heart that things were going to work out for her. For them. All of them this time.

She didn't want to be the first one to bring it up, but it seemed that like always, Emma knew exactly what was going in her mind.

"He understood."

That made Regina turn to her wildly and croaked out. "WHAT?!"

Hope expressed her displeasure to loud noises and Regina whispered several apologies before the baby smiled again. When Hope seemed to be fully calmed down again, happily playing with her mothers’ shirt, Regina turned to look at Emma again.

"He understood?"

Emma sighed regretfully. "He had known something was going on. He didn't know what to do with his suspicions especially since you were no longer here. But he knew."

Emma let out an actual laugh which seemed to be more humorous than anything. "He knew Hope wasn't his daughter." then there was fondness. "But he loved her like she was."

Regina had a hard time understanding all the information that she was receiving but what mattered to her more was that Emma seemed to both understand and accept things as they were. Regina had been truthful when she had said that Hook didn't deserve to live in the dark and now seeing how things had unraveled so calmly... It was a blessing and Regina felt grateful that her daughter had been loved and taken care of by the pirate as well.

Because sometimes you have to look for the silver lining. Sometimes no matter how much you resent and hate someone, no matter how much you are hurting... Yes, well, sometimes there are other things to think about, more important things to be taken into consideration.

Hook could have been the pirate she once knew, and he could have have taken his revenge towards Regina out on Hope. But he hadn't. Instead he had taken care of her and for that, Regina felt like she owed him something.

It seemed like he too had found the right reasons to change.

"Are you alright?" Regina asked, looking intently at Emma. No matter how much Emma wanted to be with her, she was still having regrets on how she acted towards Regina and later on Hook as well. Emma was genuinely one of the good ones, she didn't want to cause anyone pain on purpose and no matter how well Hook had taken it last night, there must have been a massive emotional charge just waiting to blow Emma over.

"I am." Emma smiled, knowing the intent behind Regina's question. "I am where I need to be."

Regina closed the distance between them and pressed her lips against Emma's in a deep kiss. She had her eyes closed in an instant, wanting to revel in the feeling of relief and love. As the kiss got deeper, Emma lifted her palms to Regina's cheeks, gently pushing her tongue past Regina's soft lips.

Had it not been for their daughter and the alarm from the kitchen, they would have ended up having a completely different kind of evening.

They pulled apart, blushing deeply but chuckling joyfully. Regina couldn't tear her eyes away from Emma and the blinding smile the blonde had on her face. She felt like she had, once upon a time, as a young girl on her parent’s estate. She felt like she had when she first realized she had feelings for Daniel. The freedom and the fluttering of a heart that was ready to experience it all.

The alarm rang for the second time and both women shot up to hurry into the kitchen. Upon entering, Regina was ready to fly towards the oven to save their dinner but before she had a chance to ask Emma to take Hope, the blonde strode confidently towards the oven. She slipped on Regina's ovenmits and smoothly pulled out their food. It had been there longer than it was supposed to be but there was no way anyone could tell. It was still perfect.

Emma spun around as soon as she had safely put down the dinner and Regina could see the sheer happiness in her eyes.

"You made my favorite food?"

Regina suddenly felt very self conscious about her decision and while trying to control the blush rising to her face, she attempted to downplay her sweet idea. "Every food is your favorite food, Emma."

Emma knew what Regina was up to and she smiled even wider. She came closer to pull both Regina and Hope tightly into her arms as she kissed both of their cheeks. Regina could suddenly see this happening every day and her heart was singing with the possibility.

Emma pulled back and Regina instantly missed the warmth. She looked down at the baby in her arms and smiled. Suddenly the smile was wiped from her face as she realized something horrible. She turned to look at Emma who sensed there was something wrong.

"What is it, Regina?"

"I didn't know you were both coming by." Regina stammered, looking helplessly around. "I only prepared dinner for us and she is too small to eat it. I don't have any baby food here and-"

Emma burst into an uncontrollable laughter and Regina felt embarrassed and was quickly getting angry. This was not something to laugh about and she felt horrible for not having even considered how this night might unfold.

It took Emma a hot minute to calm down and Regina was glaring daggers at her. She couldn't really be angry because there was a carefree smile on the other woman's face and at least today she hadn't made Emma cry.

"Let’s put aside other facts and start with this one. Regina, you have magic. You could easily magic some baby food." that made Regina blush from head to toes and look down. "Secondly, I have been doing this for a moment now, I never leave the house without having baby food on my being." Emma was smiling widely, clearly not at all offended. "And thirdly, I packed us a bag because I was hoping we could stay here for the night."

That made Regina shyly rise her eyes to meet Emma's and she huffed, trying to gather her dignity somehow. She failed as she returned to staring at her own feet.

"You are an ass." she muttered.

Emma beamed. "Yeah, but you still love me."

That made Regina smile sweetly before locking eyes with Emma. "That I do."

Emma reached for Hope and Regina handed her over. It was magical to see how they looked at each other, how easily Emma made Hope laugh and the sweet tone she used when talking with her. She had never heard Emma use it before and she couldn't help but wonder what it could have been like if Emma had been around Henry when he was a baby.

She knew the story behind Henry's birth and she could understand Emma's situation. Regina had always felt bad for Emma, but she had told the other woman before that she couldn't be fully sorry because Henry was the center of her world. Emma had understood that immediately and told her she was happy Henry ended up with her. Because otherwise she would have never met Regina and they wouldn't be a family.

"And I wouldn't really wanna live in a world where we hadn't met."

Emma informed her they were going to get their bags from the car if she was okay with setting up dinner by herself. Regina shooed them away before bringing everything into the dining room. She also magicked a chair for Hope to sit in so she could enjoy dinner with them.

Regina was now set and the only thing missing were the beautiful Swan's that were taking a mini adventure to the car. She didn't have to wait for long before she could hear Emma babbling to Hope, clearly kicking the door shut with her foot.

"Yeah, we are going to have dinner with mommy, aren't we baby? We get to have yummy food and I have some mango sauce for you. That's your favorite. Do you know what's my favorite? You." there were kissy noises and Hope babbled happily. "And your brothers who I cannot kiss at the moment, but do you know who else? Mommy. I will give her plenty of kisses soon, but first we gotta get you to the table. Swan family motto is... Well, I don't know what it is, but it involves food."

That was when Emma and Hope stepped into the dining room, Emma carrying a heavy looking bag on her shoulder all the while babbling to Hope who she had securely against her side. Regina had heard every word and was beaming widely. She couldn't really help it.

"What?" Emma asked, noticing Regina's face.

"We are your favorites, huh?" Regina smirked, loving the blush coloring Emma's pale cheeks. She was half expecting Emma to deny it, to tell her she had heard wrong, but the blonde surprised her again.

"Yes." she simply said before dropping the bag and setting Hope into her seat which was in the head of the table where Regina usually sat. She raised her eyebrow at Regina who only shrugged.

She went to rummage through her bag to find baby food all the while Regina played with Hope's feet. The little girl seemed really happy, but Regina knew the telltale signs of exhaustion that were starting to set in.

Emma had mentioned them possibly staying the night and Regina was eager to have them both in her house but as she had not known about Hope's arrival she hadn't had time to prepare. But even while mocking her Emma had made a fantastic point about her magic which she often forgot these days. So, she waved her hand under the table, picturing a perfect nursery. There was a free guest room right next to her bedroom which would be a perfect fit.

"Found it!" Emma straightened herself victoriously and walked into the kitchen to move Hope's dinner onto a plate.

"Your mama is really the sweetest, isn't she darling?" Regina whispered, while combing her fingers through her daughter’s hair. "She is silly and funny, and god-" 

"Hope, your dinner is served." Emma announced walking into the dining room.

Regina looked in awe when Emma prepped Hope for her messy dinner. She fastened a bib around Hope's neck to cover her clothes with an expert precision. There was no fumbling or doubt there as she worded each of her actions for the baby who tried her hardest to reach the cup of mango sauce her mama had placed just beyond her reach. 

Eventually she placed the cup in front of Hope, giving her a plastic spoon. She stepped back to admire her work before she noticed Regina looking at her wide eyed.

"What?" suddenly Emma was feeling self conscious because the stare was intense in so many ways, in ways that only Regina Mills could muster.

"I have never been so in love with you as I am in this moment." Regina whispered, still completely floored by the sweet scene she just witnessed. Motherhood looked good on Emma Swan and there was no denying it. The blonde had been mother before, and she had helped Regina raise Henry into a fine man but there was something different about babies.

Emma leaned down to seal their lips together once more. It had been a long time since they were so free to kiss each other like this which is why each kiss seemed to automatically end up way deeper and hungrier than originally intended.

Regina fisted her hands into the fabric of Emma's shirt and tried to pull her down. She needed to feel Emma closer, she needed to feel her skin against her own, to feel the weight of Emma's body on top of her own.

"Regina, Regina." Emma whispered, pushing at Regina's chest that was heaving. 

Brown eyes closed as she tried her hardest to get her breathing under control. Only Emma could make her feel like this, like she had no control over her body or her needs. Only Emma was capable of setting her on fire in a way that would last for days. Only Emma was the one who was allowed to throw gasoline into the already burning flames.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry." Regina whispered.

"No, no, don't be sorry." Emma pleaded as she pressed a sweet kiss on Regina's forehead. "Now is just not the time, we have dinner to get to."

That made Regina chuckle because only Emma would put dinner before sex. Only Emma and Regina loved her endlessly for it.

Emma sat on her place and didn't even pretend to act civilized before she dived in to get a bit of everything Regina had set out in front of them. It made Regina's heart soar when she saw the blonde enjoy the food and it soared even more when she turned to their daughter on her other side who was happily splashing around her mango sauce with glee. Sometimes the spoon even made it to her mouth, but she was happy.

And so was Regina.

Chapter Text

"She is asleep."

Regina shivered as Emma whispered it directly against her ear in the dimness of the nursery she had built up. She had willed her magic to paint everything in different shades of yellow, because she knew it held a special meaning to Emma and to her too, if she was honest. There was a big wooden bookcase leaning against one of the walls, filled with storybooks and picture books. Regina thought she had been really clever with her choices as she had picked the undying classics from this realm, like 'Snow White' and 'Cinderella'. Snow would have a field day with these ones later.

There was also new drawer filled with baby clothes and soft blankets and toys. There was nothing missing, but Regina was still worried she had overstepped somehow. But Emma had walked around the room with tired Hope in her arms, sweetly whispering to her so the little girl could calm down. She had touched the backs of the books, shooting a grin in Regina's direction when she noticed the titles, before picking up one of them.

There was an old rocking chair in the corner of the room, the very same Regina had sat in with Henry in her arms when he had been small. Emma had sat into it like she had been doing this for years, settling Hope securely against her before starting to read.

Regina had been mesmerized by her voice, feeling a calmness settle around her and it seemed that Hope was experiencing similar things because in no time she was asleep in Emma's arms. That didn't stop Emma from reading a little bit longer and Regina guessed it must have been for her benefit as the blonde shot her another look and a smile.

Regina had closed her eyes only for a while, with her back against the wall next to the door and she somehow must have fallen asleep because she hadn't noticed that Emma stopped reading nor that she had moved to stand right in front of her, whispering into her ear.

They looked into each other’s eyes and Regina couldn't help but to wonder about Emma's once more. She had done that a lot when they had been building their friendship and later on started developing feelings. There was something downright magical about the green of Emma's eyes, like you wanted to jump in head first and drown yourself.

That's what loving Emma Swan was like. It was like drowning. In good and in bad. But she was always willing to dive in no matter and that in its own right, made their love true.

Regina pushed off the wall and walked past Emma to set up a baby monitor, so they would be alerted if there was something troubling their precious angel. She then proceeded to go to the door, but she extended her arm towards Emma.

The blonde didn't hesitate to take her hand and lace their fingers together. Regina pulled her from the room, waiting for the other woman to close the door behind her.

There were no words exchanged when Regina led Emma towards her bedroom. It was like calmness; a certain level of serenity had been placed upon the house and the dark hallway they were walking down.

The door was opened and then closed.

Stillness.

Brown met green.

This time it was Regina who moved first as she pressed Emma roughly against the now closed bedroom door. There was a bump when Emma hit the wooden door but neither of them cared as they were too busy letting their mouths devour each other. The kisses were messy, all teeth and tongue. Regina couldn't get enough for sucking Emma's tongue in her mouth.

It was weird because for the first time ever there was no rush, no emotional baggage to unload, no secrets waiting to be revealed. There was only time.

Regina pressed her entire body flush against Emma's as she laced her fingers tightly into the blonde hair to keep the younger woman completely against the door. Regina liked the powerplay because there were no clear 'tops or bottoms' in what she had with Emma. She did enjoy her fare share of dominating but there was nothing quite as hot as Emma calling the shots and topping her.

But right now, in this second, she was the one with the power and it didn't seem like Emma minded. At all.

"Bed. Now." Regina growled against Emma's lips, pulling her from the door by her hair before letting it go. Seeing how eager Emma was made Regina feel even more fired up but it also made her heart flutter. No one had ever wanted her the way Emma had, in such open and honest way. Neither had anyone made her feel as good as Emma did.

Even when both of them were burning with need, they found it from themselves to take things calmly. Emma lifted her soft dress effortlessly over her head, laying it on Regina's arm chair by the window. She was not wearing a bra, but she had opted to wear underwear that matched the black dress she had worn. Those however were dropped on the floor as she sat on the side of the bed, looking expectedly at Regina.

Regina made her way over and lowered herself to straddle Emma. She pulled the blonde into another dizzying kiss, threading her fingers in the blonde hair once more. She enjoyed the softness of Emma's hair and the slight amount of pain it inflicted. Emma had told her how much she enjoyed when Regina did that, so the older woman was mindful to do that as often as possible.

Emma's palms made their way to cup Regina's ass, massaging roughly and pulling the other woman closer to her all the same. Unconsciously they worked up a rhythm, which led to Regina breaking the kiss, so she would be able to let out the loud pants the movement caused.

The sensations were so strong it was nearly impossible for her to stop, but with a massive amount of self-control she stilled her hips and breathed deeply into Emma's hair. They were still against each other for a good while, gathering themselves.

Regina could feel how Emma brushed her hands calmingly up and down her back, content in just resting her head on Regina's chest. The brunette couldn't help but smile because this was the kind of intimacy that she graved. Needed even. Wanted definitely.

She wanted to have someone to hold her up through the storm while she did the exact same for her partner. She wanted someone who wasn't afraid to call her out on her bullshit, she needed someone who wasn't afraid of the Evil Queen. She wanted someone who she could count on. She wanted someone to raise children with. She wanted someone challenging but who would love her through it all.

Someone who would make her quiver with need, scream out her passion. She needed someone to make her feel.

And that was Emma. It had always been Emma.

"Emma." she whispered into the blonde hair. Emma pulled away enough to meet Regina's eyes.

"Yes?"

"I love you." Regina whispered just as quietly.

Emma responded by pressing her lips to Regina's in a sweet kiss. It was filled with the love they felt for each other and Regina could feel it shake her to her core. How had she gotten so lucky?

That was when Emma wrapped her strong arms around Regina's hips and expertly flipped them so that Regina was laying under her. Not wanting to be apart for any longer than was necessary, she attached her lips hungrily on Regina's once more.

Regina could feel how the heat was starting to gather in her lower stomach, how the wetness was starting to work it's way out of her body. She needed Emma, needed her hands and mouth on her.

"Emma, please." she panted against Emma's kiss swollen lips. "Please."

Emma didn't have to be encouraged again as she snaked her hand into Regina's jeans, gasping into her mouth when her hand was met with the extensive wetness Regina often produced when turned on.

"Fuck, Regina." Emma panted, gathering the wetness up with her fingers. "You are so wet."

"For you." Regina was already having spots in her vision and Emma wasn't even properly touching her yet. "Only for you."

Emma brought her fingers to her lips and sucked them in. The moan she let out made Regina's entire body vibrate and she was actually ready to sob right then and there if Emma wasn't going to give her what she needed.

It was funny how the tables turned so fast, because the second Emma wanted to dominate her Regina was ready to whatever the blonde asked, without even putting up a fight about who was going to top who.

"I need you." Regina whispered. "Please take me."

Emma pressed their lips together, moaning at the combined taste of Regina's mouth and her essence that was still lingering on her own lips. While kissing the brunette, Emma made quick work in opening Regina's bra as the brunette just happened to arch her back deliciously.

The blonde wasted no time in pulling off every single article of clothing before she attached herself on Regina's neck. The kisses she was giving were sweet, gentle but she had every intention to mark the beautiful woman under her.

Regina was breathing heavily, trying to puck her body up against Emma's to get the friction she needed. Emma used her other palm to press the brunette down by her lower stomach before moving her hand downwards. Regina nearly sobbed with joy when her nimble fingers came in touch with her burning heat.

"Fuuuck." Regina panted out as Emma rubbed her all the while kissing down her body and biting down under her breast. The brunette was sure there was going to be a mark there tomorrow, but she was loving it.

No one had ever marked her before, she had never let anyone do that. But there was something erotic, something final about being marked by Emma Swan. It combined with the relentless hand between her legs was making Regina come with a scream.

Emma pulled away with a smug smirk. "I totally still got it."

"You, my dear." Regina was breathing heavily. "Have always got it."

With a grace only a queen could possess, Regina pushed herself down under the blonde so she was almost nosing the blonde's clit. Emma let out a surprised yelp and was about to get up from on top of Regina when the brunette pulled the blonde's hips towards her face.

The unexpectedness of the situation and the force of Regina's suction made Emma moan deep from her belly. She tried to lean on her hands, keeping her body upright, but with every suck on her clit her arms were shaking harder and harder.

When Regina's tongue ventured to her entrance there was no holding on. Emma fell on her face on the bed, grinding her pussy against Regina's face. Regina might have told Emma she still got it, but Emma very much knew that Regina still very much had it as well.

Regina's name became a mantra on Emma's lips as she tried her hardest to not come just yet. She was there, had been for a while but there was something extraordinarily earth shattering about holding on when Regina was intent on giving her an orgasm. The brunette had skill, she was eager, and she still knew just how to do it the way that made Emma fall over the edge.

And with a bite on Emma's clit she finished the blonde off.

Emma couldn't control her body’s shakes as she definitely had spots on her vision. Regina didn't seem to mind being under Emma's shaking body as she took her time cleaning of Emma's thighs and after the blonde's shaking had calmed down a bit, she cleaned her entire pussy as well.

Regina pushed Emma off of her gently and crawled up to meet her eyes. Green eyes were still unfocused, but they were trying their hardest to meet the brown. Regina pushed her fingers through the blonde curls, giving the other woman time to recover.

A pale hand was laid on her chest and soon enough it was cupping her breast. Regina laughed and looked down at Emma, who was busy staring at something. Regina followed her line of sight and saw that the other woman was tracing the mark she had left earlier.

"I like it when you mark me." Regina whispered her admission and Emma's lips spread into a smile.

"Good, because I plan on doing it again." Emma whispered before leaning up to kiss Regina sweetly. Sweet only lasted a while before the blonde was pushing herself on top of the brunette.

"Why don't you get on with it then?" Regina smirked.

Chapter Text

It was difficult for Regina to even begin to understand how her life had suddenly changed in one night. It seemed almost alarmingly easy to leave the previous heartache and pain in the past when she woke up the following morning wrapped in Emma's arms. She had only got the experience this kind of morning once with her blonde savior and that had also been the day that started a series of events that led to them being apart for years.

But this time, the whole setting was going to be different. They were going to be different.

Regina prepared breakfast for her little family, smiling widely the entire time and not being able to look away from the adorableness that was Emma playing with Hope while they waited for food. Eventually Regina served toast and eggs with several options on toppings for Emma and herself and freshly cut fruit for Hope.

They sat down to eat and enjoy their morning together. Regina told Emma more about what was happening in town and the help she might possibly need from the Sheriff's Department. Emma tried to wiggle herself into action more than once, but each time Regina reminded her that she was on well-deserved and much needed maternity leave with Hope.

Topic soon changed from work to family as they gave each other updates about their nearest and dearest and what had happened during the years apart. Regina hadn't even realized this was the first time since she came back that they talked about something else other than their own problems. She remembered how much she actually enjoyed talking with Emma and hearing her stories. The way the blonde had with words was entertaining and she could only imagine how much Hope would enjoy it when she got a little bit older.

"I want to have family dinner." Emma mentioned suddenly, taking another bite of her toast. "Like with everyone. My parents and Neal, both of our Henry's and his family. Zelena and the girls..."

Regina was actually rather shocked because once upon a time, family had been a sore subject, something to even avoid entirely. But she couldn't deny the fluttering of her heart when she realized that they actually had a family to invite to dinner.

A girl with a broken, abusive family and a girl with no family at all, were going to have their rather extensive family over for dinner.

"I think that would be lovely." Regina beamed.

Emma smiled back and instantly launched herself into detailed food planning, even whipping out her phone to write down her ideas. Regina could feel her cheek starting to hurt from all of the smiling as she watched how Emma included Hope into her frantic planning.

"What do you think, Hops? We could have a large portion of chicken because who doesn't like chicken, right? Ah, but your grandma really likes fish. Maybe we could have both. And your brothers really, really like the chicken Regina makes so we have to make sure we have enough. Also, no matter what your auntie-Zelena will have tea at some point, so we have to be able to make it otherwise she will huff and puff this house down..."

Content in just listening Emma talk, Regina settled better on her chair, sipping her morning coffee. She was more than happy to prepare whatever her love wanted to have served for their family, especially since it was going to be their first ever full family dinner.

It was a weird feeling, because not so many years ago there had been a time when she had been all alone. Her mother had just died, and everyone had hated her. Not even her own son wanted to be anywhere near her and she had been sure that's how she was going to remain till the end of her days. Alone.

But things had changed, in the most unexpected of ways. Regina couldn't remember this scenario ever even entering her brain, not even during the nights when her strong cider was the only company she had. Falling in love with Snow White's daughter, the Savior, the chosen one who was going to break her Dark Curse she worked so hard for... It definitely had not been in her plans. But Emma had a way of getting under her skin and in no time, she had knocked on the walls surrounding her heart.

And she had fought her way in and stayed there ever since.

"Regina, are you listening?"

Regina snapped out of her thoughts to see two pairs of eyes looking unimpressed her way. It was uncanny how a child who looked so much like Regina herself was sporting an almost identical expression to her blonde mother. The brunette couldn't hold in the laughter that was bubbling out of her. It was such a pure feeling of lightness, one she hadn't felt in the longest of times. And Regina wasn't sure had she ever laughed that hard before.

"I'm sorry, Emma." she wiped the tears from her eyes, trying to calm her breathing enough to speak. "I honestly wasn't, but please, tell me again."

Emma was looking at her differently now, no longer unimpressed but smiling warmly because she hadn’t seen Regina let loose quite like that before. Sure, with alcohol, sure with hushed stories of the past, but never with happiness. Not like that.

Regina smiled back at her and extended her hand for Emma to place her phone in. It was going to be a dinner of many options because Emma wanted to make sure there was something for everyone to enjoy. Regina was fine with cooking, but she reminded Emma that she would require help in setting up and it would be Emma's duty to invite everyone over.

The blonde saluted with a firm 'yes ma’am' before stealing a strawberry from Hope's plate as the baby was already done with eating. The flowers Regina always had in the dinner table held her attention right now and Regina reached to give her daughter a daisy to play with.

Both mothers were silent for a while, just looking at their baby, gently touching the flower and bringing it closer and closer to her face. This was one of the moments in life, in your child's life that you just wanted to witness, to remember when they were older and flying out of the nest. There was no need for photos or videos, because Regina knew this was one of the moments that was going to be seared into her brain and that she would remember even when she was old. She was going to always remember this.

What eventually put them all back in a gear was Emma's phone ringing in Regina's hands. It was Snow, as one could guess, and Regina handed it back to the blonde so she could answer. The reason Snow called required Emma's presence and the younger woman promised to leave as soon as possible. They decided it would be more comfortable for Hope to stay with Regina for the time being and the older woman was more than happy to call Marie to let her know she was not coming in today. And soon Regina was holding their small baby as they waved at Emma, who had hard time tearing herself away.

"Wave bye bye to mama." Regina whispered and helped Hope to raise her little hand to wave at their Savior who was backing away towards her car, wanting to keep her eyes on her girls for as long as possible. Soon the still well working yellow bug took off from the curb and Regina closed the door.

She lifted up her small daughter to her own eyelevel, holding her securely under her arms. There was another smile just fighting to get out and once again her happiness was spread out on her lips. Regina looked deep into the chocolate eyes so similar to her own before whispering.

"What shall we do today?"

 


 

Their afternoon together was true bonding time for united mother and daughter. Regina busted out a lot of Henry's old toys she had hidden away in the many closets of the mansion. She set up her livingroom differently to make more room to them to play and lie around. Regina had always presented a regal front to people and she wasn't someone people would deem funny or silly, or even relaxed. But in the privacy of her own house, she was exactly that, because for the better part of her time with Hope they just laid on the floor. At times it was with toys or then it was with books.

Regina wanted to make up for the lost time she had with Hope. Granted nine months was different than ten years, but she had a pretty good idea of how Emma must have felt when she first arrived in town. She had just wanted to catch up, to do something with Henry. Regina once again felt regret for being the one to stop them from seeing each other at the time.

They had lunch together, Hope eating some of the baby food Emma had left in the house as Regina made a sandwich for herself. She whipped out her phone from the back pocket of her jeans to see had Emma messaged her about their dinner plans. They had been messaging back and forth, Regina occasionally sending pictures of Hope to make the separation less painful. And now there was a confirmation in her inbox.

I have been in touch with everyone and they are more than excited to be there! I told everyone to be in the table at 6 pm because I don't want Hops to get too cranky if it gets too late.

And it was very much like Emma to double text.

And Zelena said she would arrive earlier to help you. I tried to tell her we would be fine, but have you tried to reason with that woman?

Regina laughed evilly because there truly was no reasoning with Zelena Mills, not at all. She didn't mind her sister showing up though, because she wanted to gossip just a tiny bit. And with gossip she meant to gush over last night.

I will call her to confirm, but I cannot believe you even tried to talk her out of it.

The answer was almost instant.

Me either, Regina. Me. Either.

Regina chose to response with a photo of Hope instead. Emma received a beautiful photo with Hope splashing her hand into her food. Regina didn't really mind the mess, which was another difference in her demeanor with kids and adults. She handed Hope a spoon before dialing her sister.

For some reason everyone was really fast with their phones today.

"Hello, my dear sweet baby sister." Zelena managed to always sound both joyful and loving but also downright mocking when she answered her sisters calls. It caused Regina to roll her eyes, but it warmed her heart.

"Would you stop tormenting Emma, please?" Regina couldn't help but to banter a little bit, there was just no way not to bring it up.

"Me? Tormenting? You got it all wrong." Zelena always, always, played along. "I was just telling your baby mama how things are. I'm allowed to come and help my little sister whenever I please, especially when it's about a family dinner."

"Sure, you are sis." Regina smiled. "Which is why if you are so eager, I expect you to arrive no later than 3.30. I need your help preparing the part of the meal that my baby mama specifically chose for you because she remembered you like it."

That caused a long pause and Regina felt the blush of victory to rise on her cheeks. She was going to ask was Zelena still there, but the red head beat her to it.

"Okay, fine!" there was no acknowledging the sweetness of the action or apology of how she acted but everyone knew not to expect those lightly from Zelena. "I will be there then. Besides the girls really want to see Hope and I too, am excited to finally hold my niece."

That made Regina beam. They chatted for a while longer before Hope started to demand her mother’s attention. "Zellie, I'm sorry I have to go, Hope is done with her lunch. I will see you in couple of hours!"

Regina was ready to end their call when she heard a frantic call of her name from the line. She pressed the phone back on her ear and asked confusedly. "Zelena?"

"Regina." her sister was slightly breathless and there was a nervous tone in her voice, and with the former Wicked Witch, that did not happen very often. "I have something I was meant to ask you."

"Of course." Regina was getting more and more confused and even mildly concerned. It definitely wasn't like Zelena to act this way and she was known to going straight to the point if there was something she wanted.

"I was wondering... Could I invite someone to the family dinner?" the question was a bit quieter than the beginning of the sentence, showing just how nervous Zelena truly was.

There were million questions running in Regina's brain about this mystery person. She wanted to know so badly what, or more specifically, who was affecting her sister this way. But she also knew how much Zelena did not need the stream of questions currently floating in her mind. What she needed, was an answer.

And it was an easy one.

"Of course."

"What? That's all you are going to say?" Zelena was nearly barking into the phone. "I'm inviting someone to the first ever full family dinner anyone has ever hosted, and you are not even going to ask who it is?!"

"No." was Regina's simple answer. "I will find out later today anyway and I know it wasn't easy for you to ask. Am I curious? Oh yes, so very curious but I can wait."

"Thank you, Regina." there was that softness again. "I appreciate that. Me and the girls will be arriving before, but my mystery person will be at the table at 6 pm like asked."

"See you in a bit, sis." Regina smiled. "I love you."

Telling each other they loved one another was something they had started doing before Regina had left to help Henry. It had been shocking for Regina first time Zelena said it - yes Zelena had even said it first - but right after shock came relief and happiness. Their bond had a beautiful beginning, in the stolen memories of their childhood. They never knew it before they had a little visit to the Underworld. But where they thought they started was so horrible and painful that it seemed almost impossible they would ever reconcile or become close in any way. 

It was a huge step for the sisters to say those words even when they had been true for longer than that. Both of them were grateful for the family and confident they were to each other. It hadn't been an easy journey, not simple in anyway, but they had gotten this far. And they both knew just how nice it was to be reminded that there was someone, somewhere out there who loved you.

"I love you too, Regina. See you soon!"

It was only a half an hour or so after that, when Emma walked in, breathless under several bags of groceries and excited to see her girls. She spends a good while kissing Hope all across her perfect face before wrapping an arm around Regina to pull her into a deep kiss. Regina couldn't wait to be greeted like this every day and she pulled Emma closer for another kiss.

"So how are you my favorite girls?" Emma asked, holding sleepy Hope against her.

"We are getting ready to nap a little bit, aren't we Hope?" Regina used her special 'baby voice' which wasn't like the baby voices on many other people. It was smooth and soft and a tone quieter than her normal speaking voice.

Hope was well nestled into her mama's arms by that point and Emma asked could she go and put her down for her nap. It was obvious that Emma was suffering from the separation they had today, and Regina was more than happy to let her. She watched how Emma made her way upstairs, Hope nearly asleep under her chin. They truly looked beautiful together.

Regina took it upon herself to move everything Emma had brought into the kitchen. She had no idea how the blonde had managed to bring everything in with one go but she knew how motivating seeing your baby was.

She was shoulder deep into preparing chicken when Emma walked into the kitchen. The blonde took her time in the doorway before walking closer and wrapping her arms around Regina's waist. She pressed her face into Regina's neck, inhaling slowly. Regina could feel how goosebumps were raising on her arms as her eyes slipped shut.

They just stood there for long minutes, content to be close to each other. It was only when Emma pressed her lips to a sensitive spot on Regina's throat, when the older woman let out a ragged breath. A kiss. Another. A tiny nibble.

Regina spun around in Emma's arms.

"Emma, no marks-"

"I thought you liked them." Emma cut her off, looking concerned and putting some distance between their bodies. "I mean, yesterday-"

"-where people can see them." Regina finished, appreciating Emma taking her 'no' seriously. "I meant what I said. I rather enjoy being marked by you. But there will be a house full of people coming by soon and I do wish to present well to your parents. And I don't think it starts well with a hickey." Regina looked pointedly at Emma, who smirked.

"My parents already count you in as family, I don't think you need to impress them."

"I still want to present well, you know that." Regina said, kissing Emma's cheek before turning back to dinner preparations. "Besides, if you did mark me, I don't think this dinner would ever get done." she muttered under her breath.

Emma fist pumped behind Regina, before asking what she could do to help. She knew she still wasn't the best in the kitchen but there were still things she could help with and indeed, Regina soon came up with a long list of things the blonde could do.

Before long there was music playing in the kitchen, both women doing little dances whenever possible during their task. It was domestic and fun, and Regina found herself laughing more and more freely as minutes passed. It wasn't that she had hard time being happy around Emma, but her over all demeanor had always been more reserved. It felt like the furthest thing from her mind right now.

At precisely 3.30 pm the doorbell rang, and Regina hurried to open the door to her sister and nieces. She was greeted with a group hug from her sister’s family and a small wave from Alice who Regina pulled into a hug as well. Both Robins and Alice started asking about Hope as soon as the front door closed behind them, but Regina hurried to tell them that the little girl was napping so she would have all the energy in the world to spend with them later.

She whispered the girl’s directions to Netflix and the three of them were gone faster than Regina ever anticipated. Zelena raised her eyebrows at her sister but Regina just shrugged. They made their way into the kitchen, where Emma had turned the music down a notch and was now preparing salad.

Emma and Zelena greeted each other with a hug, which they had started doing. It had taken the blonde a while to completely trust Zelena, in her fear she would hurt Regina again, but they had become rather great friends. Zelena had truly appreciated Emma's promise to help raise Robin if something were to happen to her and that fact had helped her greatly in building a friendship with the Savior.

"So, what do we have here?" Zelena inquired, taking a peek into every possible pot and bowl she could find. "What do you even need me for, you seem to have it all under control!"

"I know you want to go and watch Netflix with the girls, but there is no way." Emma said, ready to challenge her friend. "We do need help because there are a lot of people coming by and I heard you even invited an extra one."

Zelena shot a murderous look at Regina who raised her hands in mock surrender. "She was going to find out soon anyway. Besides as you said" she paused for dramatic measure to have attention of both women. "she is my baby mama."

Emma laughed and Zelena rolled her eyes, knowing there was no winning this one. She ended up giving Emma a lesson about making her tea just the way she liked it, a mandatory lesson for anyone who even dared to consider themselves her family.

Just before five Hope announced she was ready to get up and changed and Emma pushed Regina towards the stairs in front of her. This was going to be the first time they picked up and changed Hope together as this morning Emma had worked on autopilot.

Regina felt excited but there was nervousness creeping in. She knew how to do this, she knew everything there was to know about babies but this was another first with Hope. She remembered her firsts with Henry who hadn't been able to stop crying and it brought back the horrible possibility that maybe she wasn't what Hope wanted or needed.

Emma noticed the change in the mood as they made it to the second floor and she stepped in front of Regina to stop her. Turning to fully face the other woman, she pressed her lips to Regina's forehead in a comforting kiss. She knew Regina was stuck inside her own head, plagues by doubts and she wanted to do something to help her.

"Talk to me... please."

Regina swallowed a couple of times, closing her eyes and wrapping her arms around Emma's waist. The blonde pulled her closer and into a warm hug and that alone seemed to somehow calm the brunette down enough to want to share her feelings.

"I don't want to fail her."

"Fail her?"

"I want to be a good mother, but what if I don't do well, what if I ruin it with Hope?" there was franticness in her voice, a slight shake in her hands that were balling up around the back of Emma's shirt. It was a burst of doubt about her own motherhood, a burst she hadn't felt in years.

"Regina." Emma said strongly, putting her finger under Regina's chin so the other woman would raise her gaze to meet hers. "Do you know how I learned motherhood?"

At the small shake of Regina's head, Emma continued. "By watching you with Henry. When I first got here, I was too blind to see things that were so obvious. You are an incredible mother, Regina, you have taught me everything there is to know. When my parents had Neal, and you were there to help them... I learned too. For Neal at the time but it also prepared me for the future." there was a small laugh. "I would have been so lost with Hope if you hadn't taught me, if I hadn't seen how to do it. I know you are worried about the time you missed, but you have been right here with us through all of that. You taught me, us, how to love. So if you ever have doubts... think about that."

Pressing another kiss to Regina's forehead, Emma pulled the stunned brunette with her towards the nursery where their daughter was waiting. Regina's emotions were still running high but once she picked Hope up from her grip it all washed away because she knew she could do this. She had done it once and she could do it again, and this time she didn't have to do it alone. Neither of them would never be alone again.

They worked as a team with diapers and changing, both cooing at their small magical miracle. In no time at all, Hope was dressed for their evening, holding her blankie with both hands. She was perched up against Regina's shoulder, ready to be properly introduced to the rest of the family.

Making their way downstairs, they could hear talking and laughing from the living room. It seemed that Zelena had indeed joined the group to watch Netflix instead of helping in the kitchen, and neither Emma or Regina was too surprised nor annoyed with that. They walked towards the living room, ready to see the reactions from the rest of the Mills'.

It was weird, because in sense they were all family already, through different connections perhaps but it was only now that Hope became officially a Mills. The girls gushed over the baby and wanted to hold her in turn. It was hard for Regina to let her go but with Emma's hand to hold, she eventually made it. Now they were all sat in the living room with the baby resting in the arms of her auntie, who looked down a the baby with a wicked smile on her face.

"You will be the one I corrupt with wicked tricks and ideas." she mock whispered, well aware she could be heard by everyone in the room.

"Dream on." Emma huffed, knowing full well Zelena was joking. "Why don't you give those ideas to your own daughters?"

"Why would I corrupt my own perfect children when I have an eligible little niece in my hands now?" Zelena's smile was spreading, fully enjoying the situation and she slight banter there was in the air.

"How about you concentrate more on cooking and less on corrupting our daughter? How about that?" Regina said before she got up and picked up her daughter. "We will be going to check dinner, won't we baby? Won't we?" she pressed a kiss to Hope's little cheek before disappearing into the kitchen.

The girls were back on watching their show and Zelena saw how longingly Emma was looking at the direction of the kitchen. It was good that things were better now, that her sister wasn't calling her drunk and crying against her shoulder. But that image and that pain that had been nearly pulsating from Regina in waves, was still haunting the older witch. She didn't want to see her sister like that ever again and even when things were better now, she had a right to worry.

"Emma, can I have a word with you outside?" Zelena asked and Emma got up as an answer.

They headed to the backyard, both breathing in the fresh evening air. It was truly a beautiful night in Storybrooke, one that only happened very rarely in the drafty old Maine. Maybe things were going to change with the new realms brought in but that remained to be seen.

"Is something wrong?" Emma asked, leaning on the railing on Regina's patio.

"I need to talk to you about Regina." Zelena said seriously, turning to look at the blonde woman. "I need to make sure you are not going to hurt her." she whispered dangerously, looking Emma dead in the eye.

Emma looked down knowing full well what this was about and how serious their current topic was. There was regret and shame in her heart as she thought just how much she must have hurt the woman who she loved, the woman who was the other mother to all of her children.

"I know there was something going on between you two before she even told me. I noticed how much happier she suddenly became, how she literally couldn't shut up about you and I was happy for her. But then one night... she calls me. Crying. Drunk. Broken." Zelena swallowed back her anger. "You broke her, Emma. You broke her heart in ways no one else has been able to. And there have been people in her life who only tried to destroy her."

Emma couldn't meet Zelena's eyes, but the words were piercing her. She knew she hurt Regina, she did but hearing it from someone who had been there to pick Regina up was devastating.

"I know you were and probably still are hurting as well, but I swear to god Emma. If you ever hurt her again, if you make her cry like she did on that day... I swear to god, I will kill you." Zelena knew they were friends and as a person she was way past the threats and killing, but she wasn't joking right now. There had been way too much damage done to her sister to last several lifetimes and she had sworn she would protect her.

It seemed to be clear to Emma as well that this was not one of their jokes. The red head was serious, and she would actually end her life and Emma was smart enough to take this warning very seriously.

"Okay."

 


 

"Hey, moms!" was the exclaimed greeting as soon as the door was opened, and Emma and Regina were pulled into the arms of their sons. The younger Henry was just a bit shorter than the older Henry, which meant they both towered above their mothers. It seemed that in only few days the younger Henry had grown a lot. Regina and Emma held them tightly, pressing kisses to their faces in greeting.

The whole family was about to be fully gathered for the very first time.

The older Henry introduced Emma properly to his wife and daughter who had only heard stories of Henry's Savior, the one who broke the first ever Dark Curse and who was one of the heroes from his book in the land without magic. Lucy and Emma got along instantly, and they were deep in conversation before the door was even closed behind them.

Regina pulled the younger Henry with her to the kitchen to show him all the food they were going to be serving and the young man was just as excited as his biological mother and older version were about the sheer amount of chicken Regina had prepared.

"How are you mom?" he asked, when he helped his mother carry things into the dining room. They were almost set to start their meal as most people were already here.

"I'm great, Henry." she smiled at her son, before the curiosity got the best of her. "Why do you ask? We were texting this morning."

"Because I was there during the party at Granny's. I was also the one who made Ma run away. I know there is something going on but I'm not sure what... I mean, my version of Ma never had anything going on with anyone. Except for my dad of course, but he is dead." the way Henry sometimes rambled on was so very much like Emma and Regina found it absolutely adorable.

"Henry, Henry." Regina stopped him by taking his hand to her own. "There is... a lot of history between your Ma and me. So many things happened in this realm that didn't happen in yours. And since your mom didn't remember them then, she couldn't tell you about any of it. There are things we need to tell you about when you come home. But right now, the only thing you need to know... is that we are together and there is a baby sister for you to meet."

Henry's eyes lit up and he pulled his mother into another hug. Regina held him tightly, grateful that things had turned out this way and that he was here with them. They were finally all here.

When Henry ran to the living room to meet his new baby sister, Snow made her way into the kitchen. She, Charming and Neal had arrived only a while before the Henry’s, but this was the first minute alone. A minute Snow desperately wanted to have.

"Hey, Regina. Is there something I can help you with?" she came to stand by Regina looking around the various foods set out and ready to go on the table. "I heard Emma helped you decide what we'd be eating tonight."

"Oh yes. She wanted to make sure there was something for everyone. You know how seriously she takes the matters of food." Regina raised an eyebrow at Snow and the younger woman laughed. Yes, it was very much like Emma.

"I think it runs in the family, because Charming is definitely very similar." Snow leaned on the cupboards by the sink, watching Regina do finishing touches to the fish that was undoubtedly for her. "Do you need some help?"

"No, I'm fine, but thank you Snow." Regina shot her a kind smile because the gesture was truly sweet and much appreciated.

"How are you?" Snow knew she had left Regina rattled after their last heart to heart, but if things were at all what they looked like, there had been a change, a good one.

"I'm actually... so happy. Which is weird by all accounts. Overwhelmed too at times, but happy." Regina was concentrating to give Snow a real answer, an explanation of her feelings because the other woman was one of her closest friends. Not to mention the mother of her true love and the grandmother of all of their children. She had felt nervous at first about meeting Snow and Charming after things were resolved with Emma, but it felt just as comfortable as it had before.

"Emma didn't say anything to us but since you are hosting a family dinner together, I assume things worked out between you two?" Snow looked hopeful, almost even smug.

Regina didn't even know what to say because she was suddenly overcome with giddiness. Things truly had worked out for them. She looked down to her hands shyly before whispering.

"She told Hook."

"What?" Snow had trouble hearing the normally so loud queen.

Regina lifted her gaze to Snow and said a bit louder. "Snow. She told Hook about us, about Hope. She told him about everything." relief washed over her because this was the first time she had said any of this out loud even when she knew it to be true.

"Oh, Regina, that is so wonderful." Snow rushed forward to hug Regina tightly. "I'm so happy for you both."

Regina hugged the other woman closer, closing her eyes. Things had taken such a turn it was hard for her to even begin to understand any of it. Going from nearly ripping her own heart out to feeling this kind of bliss would give anyone whiplash, but for someone as careful and doubtful as Regina it was almost too much. She had hard time believing any of this was real and she was half expecting to wake up any moment.

The brunette knew she needed to have a moment alone to calm down and think, but this was not the time nor the place, because it was almost 6 pm which meant the dinner was going be served. Snow helped her carry everything to the table before they announced the dinner was ready. The table filled with people in record time, everyone aware of Regina's skills in cooking.

Regina was about to sit down in her spot between Hope and Charming, before there was a ring of a doorbell. She locked eyes with her sister who nodded. Regina made her way into the foyer to open the door, her curiosity over her sister’s mystery guest bubbling back to the surface. Regina had no idea who her sister could have possibly invited to dinner, but considering their messed-up timelines, Regina realized that she had no real idea about her sister’s life now. Maybe she had truly met someone.

Taking a hold of the door knob, she twisted and pulled the door open. The heavy door to Mifflin Street 108 swung open and Regina came face to face with someone she didn't think it could ever be.

"Mulan?"

Chapter Text

"Good evening, Regina." Mulan said confidently, even when there was uncertainty and maybe even a small amount of fear shining from her eyes. She was dressed in very comfortable looking get up, the red sneakers and red pilot jacket matching well with her black hair and jeans. It was rather unusual look for the warrior, especially since up to this day Regina had only ever seen her wear clothes from the old world. But it was safe to say that the land without magic really suited her well.

"Mulan? What are you doing here?" Regina leaned in to give her a small hug before meeting her eyes. She wasn't sure was this really Zelena's guest or was it a weird well-timed coincidence.

"I have something for you." Mulan said, reaching into the pocket of her jacket and pulling out a tiny plastic baggie. "It's the rest of the ingredients you were missing."

Regina took the little baggie, inspecting its content. It seemed Mulan had really found everything she was missing, and she waved her hand to make the baggie disappear and reappear in the drawer in her nightstand.

"I'm also here for-" Mulan only managed to start when there was clicking of heels that drew their attention.

"There you two are! I was starting to wonder did Regina open the door at all!" Zelena waltzed in, smile spread wide on her face as she stopped next to Mulan. She pressed a quick kiss on her cheek before taking her hand and pulling her with her towards the dining room.

"Come on, Regina, the food is getting cold and your baby mama was asking for you!"

Regina was left standing there with her mouth hanging open. This had truly taken an unexpected turn that she never would have seen coming, but it seemed that whatever the situation was Zelena was happy and it seemed that Mulan was as well.

She closed her mouth and the door that was still wide open, before powerwalking back into the dining room, where people were in full swing of things, enjoying their meals. Regina rounded the table where Emma was sitting with Hope before pressing a quick kiss on both of their cheeks. Emma smiled warmly before she resumed her attempt on trying to feed Hope who was more interested in touching her food than actually eating it.

Regina sat down and started her dinner and Charming instantly started a conversation with her about Hope like this was any other day. Regina was more than happy to talk to him, wanting to hear his stories about the small princess.

Regina could say that so far, the dinner was going on amazingly and this was definitely the best dinner she had ever been a part of. Everyone was smiling, there was constant chatter and everyone enjoyed the food since there was very little of anything left.

She could feel how Emma took her hand under the table even when the blonde was deep in conversation with her father about the Sheriff station and how they could best work to help Regina with their current situation. What they both could agree on was the fact that they needed to hire someone there to help since it was mainly just David since Emma was still in maternity leave. Regina said it would definitely be alright and that she would leave it up to them to decide who they deemed alright to hire.

Looking around the table, Regina couldn't help but smile as she saw Hope snuggled in Snow's arms as the young grandmother fed the baby some dessert with the tiniest spoon on earth. The two Henry's had seemingly become inseparable as they were joking and laughing with Ella and Lucy, who seemed to be as happy as ever.

Zelena was helping her younger daughter to cut her food accordingly as the older Robin and Alice were asking Mulan a million questions about her adventures across the realms. The warrior seemed to be feeling just as light as Regina was in that very moment as she threw her head back in laugher at something Alice said. She seemed happy. They all seemed happy.

Regina didn't want to have doubts, she wanted to revel in her happiness like everyone else seemed to be doing but it wasn't so easy. Every time in her life when she had started to feel content and truly happy, something had destroyed it. Even a sliver of hope always got rambled under the pain and anguish, often caused by the people closest to her.

She had lived through that pain enough times for her brain to jump into the horrible next step where everything went wrong. What if this thing wasn't working out between her and Emma? What if she was too damaged to be what Emma and Hope needed? What if-

Suddenly Regina felt sick to her stomach. What if, despite the calm break up and understanding, Hook was feeling bitter and wanted to get Emma and Hope back? Regina couldn't blame him, because they were pretty damn perfect. But what if she wasgoing to lose her new family to the pirate? What if Emma chose him over her because he had been there when she wasn't?

There was a sudden tug on her hand and Regina nearly jumped out of her skin. Her eyes instantly flew to Emma's. They stared each other for a second.

"Are you alright?" Emma whispered, having seen yet another turmoil spiraling behind Regina's eyes. Regina appreciated the fact that Emma knew her so well but more than anything she appreciated the fact that she wasn't alone. It was easier for her to calm down with someone there and who was better than her true love?

"Yes, yes." Regina whispered back but as Emma looked at her skeptically she sighed before lowering her voice even more. "It's been a long day and it's getting to me..."

Emma gave a slight nod of understanding before pressing a kiss on Regina's lips. "It's only for a while longer. You can excuse yourself soon because it seems that Hops is getting a bit cranky there." they both turned their gaze to their daughter who was moving restlessly in her grandmothers’ arms. "Looks like you aren't the only one done with social situations for the day, mommy." Emma grinned before pressing a kiss to Regina's cheek.

Regina looked at Emma in awe. Ever since they had become friends of any sort, they got really close really fast. So close in fact that people started to call them best friends very soon after that. Regina had known it then and she definitely knew it now, because Emma truly was her best friend. There had never been anyone who knew her quite like Emma did.

Emma had been there to help her through the separation from Henry when he had gone to look for his own story in other realms. Emma had been the one to pick her up. Emma had been the one to know what kind of food to bring so she would actually eat it. Emma had been the one to distract her from her worry even when she was just as worried herself.

They truly shared a special connection; the like Regina had never had with anyone before.

Regina only now realized just how much she had missed Emma. She had tried her hardest not to think about the blonde during her time away but after Ivy had woken her from the curse the longing was back on full force and it had been nearly unbearable. It had been the following day when she had walked into the bookshop and bought a copy of older Henry's 'Once Upon a Time' book that he had written while cursed.

Sure, the stories were a bit different, modified by the curse to fit their situation without making it too easy to figure it out. But the bits that mattered had been real and still there, and Regina truly appreciated the illustrations. As Roni she had no pictures of her family as it had all been swept away in the curse but there they all were, in the pages of that book.

The Charmings, her sister... and Emma. When she had first seen the picture of the other woman, with her blonde hair as messy as ever and that damn red leather jacket, Regina had doubled over in agony. It was like years of missing and loving the blonde nuisance had just waited for the dams to break and drown her. Ivy breaking the curse for her had done that. She had endured the pain from several years during that one evening.

It had been excruciating but things had picked up in Hyperion Heights after that and Roni only had time to think about Emma before she went to bed. There had been no denying it then or even now - Emma Sean was the love of her life, no matter what happened before or what was going to happen now. And that was a cold hard fact. Regina could deal with her insecurities and fears, hell, she had done it before and now, for the first time she had someone she could share it all with.

That was when Hope demanded attention from one of her mothers and Emma nudged Regina to get up and retrieve her daughter. Hope calmed instantly as Regina pressed her against her heart. True Love truly was special, so special in fact that they had been able to create this beautiful child. So special that the said child was able to fully calm down and feel safe when her true love parent was nearby.

Regina excused herself after everyone had wished Hope goodnight and took her daughter upstairs. It was already late and even when Hope had napped for a long time, she was exhausted from all the people and business of the evening.

While Regina changed Hope and dressed her into a sleeping onesie, she talked to her.

"I understand why you are tired, baby. I am too. I love our family but today has been an intense day. Well, yesterday was too but so was today." she quieted for a while, lifting Hope to her line of sight before whispering. "It's time for you to sleep, my love. Sweetest of dreams." she pressed soft kisses onto Hope's cheeks as the baby was slowly falling asleep in her arms.

Regina laid Hope in her crib gently and tucked her blankie around her. Tiny fingers automatically wrapped around the fabric and brought it close to her face as she slept. Regina didn't know for how long she just stood there watching her daughter before she whispered.

"I love you, Hope. I love you from the bottom of my heart and I want you to never forget that."

She backed away from the crib before closing the door behind her. She turned to walk down the hallway back downstairs, but she met Zelena on the top of the stairs.

"There you are! I came to see are you alright." Zelena looked Regina over, noting the slightly red eyes but deciding to let it go for now if Regina didn't bring it up on her own.

"I'm alright, just... took my time." Regina smiled lightly.

"Of course, of course. The family dinner is a success, wouldn't you say?" Zelena motioned downstairs where they could hear joyful voices and loud laughter.

"Most definitely." Regina agreed, before smirking. "So, you and Mulan...?"

"We are just friends." Zelena smiled back. "At least I think we are. She is funny, strong, her hair is pretty, so yeah, I think we are friends." at Regina's raised brows, Zelena nudged her shoulder. "Hey!"

"Alright, alright, you are just friends!" Regina laughed before sitting on the stairs and tapping the step with her hand, so her sister would sit down next to her, which she eventually did. "So, how did you two meet? I mean, was it in the Enchanted Forest or here, or?"

"Well." Zelena leaned on her knees. "We met for the first time in the old world, although it wasn't... good. Only rarely were people left with a happy fuzzy feeling after meeting me." Zelena looked down sadly, the same guilt pushing down on her as it did on Regina. "We ended up meeting properly and during much happier occasion during the party at Granny's. It seemed like she really needed to company, someone to talk to, you know? And it was so easy to push aside all the old bad, and just concentrate on the moment we were living. Not many people can do that, but she did. And we sat there together, and she told me stories. And I told her stories and I guess we... became friends." there was a slight blush on the pale cheeks and Regina took her sisters hand.

She was so happy to hear Zelena talk this way about someone. They had known each other for many years now but there had never really been anyone. Sure, there had been Hades, but Regina was pretty sure he never loved Zelena and he was never mentioned. But the Zelena who lived in San Francisco had talked in the same soft manner. About Chad who she was now getting married to.

"I'm happy for you, sis." Regina whispered.

Zelena shot her a smile. "I'm happy for you too."

Zelena asked Regina about the events of yesterday and Regina launched into a story. She told her about how Emma had shown up with Hope, and about their dinner together. Regina also mentioned some bits about their night together and Zelena was nearly bursting from trying not to laugh at her sisters’ pink cheeks.

Soon the older Henry came to the bottom of the stairs to ask them to come down as they needed to leave soon.

It was truly getting late and the rest of the children were starting to get cranky from tiredness. Mary-Margaret and David left first, intent on taking Neal home as tomorrow was going to be a school day anyway. The schools were the first thing up and running again after the realms were brought to Storybrooke and Regina had made sure that before any other massive renovations were made, there would be new building made for the children from other realms. Education was important in this world and Regina was going to make sure there was something for everyone. Only then was she going to concentrate on other things.

The next ones to leave was Henry's family. The younger Henry had been happy to stay with his older versions family for the time being, but he was more than happy to stay with his mothers and dive head first into the large comic book collection his older version had told him about. He hugged everyone goodnight as headed for the stairs to get ready for the night.

Mulan helped the other women to carry everything in the kitchen before she felt like it was time for her to excuse herself. She thanked Emma and Regina for the lovely dinner and welcoming her into their home. Zelena pulled the warrior out of the kitchen for goodbyes and she soon returned, all blushy.

Emma and Regina didn't say anything as Zelena helped them clean, unusually silently, while Robin and Alice entertained the smaller Robin long enough for the red head to be done. After they were done, Zelena asked her little family to hold hands as they all disappeared in the green smoke.

Silence.

What a beautiful, much needed silence.

Emma and Regina were both standing in the kitchen, just breathing in deeply and enjoying this moment. They were standing next to each other, both leaning on the counter. Slowly Regina leaned her head on Emma's shoulder and the blonde pressed her own against it.

"It doesn't feel real." Regina whispered soon. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn't shake the feeling of doubt. She wanted to be happy more than anything, but she knew she never truly could until she had brought this up with Emma.

"What doesn't?" Emma whispered back, sensing the seriousness of this moment. She had known something was wrong ever since they woke up this morning but especially during the dinner it had seemed that Regina was completely closing off.

"This. You and me." Regina hoped that what she was going to say next wasn't going to hurt Emma's feelings. "I cannot believe you chose me."

It did cause some sort of frantic emotions in Emma as the other woman pushed away from the counter and turned to look at Regina. The blonde had seemed so calm for the entire day, handling all the emotions and mood swings thrown in her way, but now she looked lost and confused.

"Why would you even say that?" Emma asked sadly.

"Because, I-." Regina quieted mid-sentence, taking a minute to form carefully what she was going to say. "Because you didn't before. You chose him. And I was gone for years and I needed to live with that fact for so long. It's hard to shake off and understand and... trust, that this is your final decision." she was speaking bravely, confidently even when in the inside she was anything but.

Emma looked down again, closing her eyes. Regina didn't say anything, waiting to hear Emma say something. Anything.

"I understand." she finally whispered. "I do know that the damage I did is not going to be fixed in one night. I do know that, but for a while there... I forgot. I forgot that there had once been heartache because it all just feels so good with you. Like it's meant to be, like it has always been like this." Emma had gotten considerably better explaining her emotions over the years, but she was still prone to ramble at times.

The emotions were getting a better of both of them, neither of them willing to meet the eyes of the other. Regina knew it was her turn to say something, but she felt horrible for making Emma feel so sad. But she knew there were things on her mind and if they wanted this to work out, if they wanted to be happy there were things to talk about.

"I'm afraid you will choose him again." that snapped Emma's eyes to her, pain and regret shining from them. "I'm afraid you will soon see how much more damaged I have become over the years we have been apart and that you don't want me around Hope because of it. You once didn't want me around Henry, no one did and I'm afraid it will happen again." Regina pushed down the tears that were threating to fall. She had to be stronger than this.

Emma didn't even try. She was letting the tears fall down her face, looking brokenheartedly at the woman in front of her. Emma knew that Regina came with a baggage, had known it since they met for the very first time, but she hadn't realized how long they had been apart. For her it might have only been couple of years at the most but for Regina... god, Emma didn't even want to guess how long. 

A lot of things had happened, and Emma realized she knew nothing of what had truly happened in Enchanted Forest, in Hyperion Heights or later on during the battle to end all battles. She knew nothing of what had happened to the love of her life, knew nothing of how to help her and here she was trying to mend the old wounds when there most definitely were new raw ones needing the care more.

Regina could see the gears turning in Emma's head, saw how the blonde was trying to digest her words and quite possibly million other things. She appreciated the time Emma took to answer as them ending in a heated discussion wasn't going to be beneficial to either of them or their family.

Finally, it seemed Emma had gathered herself and her thoughts, as she took a step forward and took Regina's hands in her own. She looked down at them for a while before whispering.

"There are so many things I have missed that I shouldn't have." raising her eyes to meet Regina's she continued with a firmer voice. "I want us to talk. I want to hear everything that happened, all the twists and turns. So much time has passed since we were last together and that was yet again one thing I didn't understand. But what I do understand... is doubt and insecurity, because I feel those too. Not on same things as you do, but I get it. You are allowed to feel that way, because I definitely deserve it. And I also know that the only way I can ever prove it all to you is by showing you. But I do promise you," Emma cupped Regina's cheek gently. "you are the one I want, Regina.

Regina was staring in Emma's eyes, searching for answers and all she could see was sincerity. The blonde was speaking from her heart and Regina found herself believing her. It wasn't going to happen overnight, like the blonde had said but this was definitely a good start.

The brunette leaned in to press a gentle kiss to the pale lips in front of her. It lasted only seconds, but that was enough to leave both women breathless. Regina pressed her forehead against Emma's and closed her eyes, breathing in the familiar scent of Emma. The younger woman had always smelled gently of perfume, one of those gentle subtle ones you could only smell if you were in her space. Regina had spent a lot of time in that space since they met and she knew that smell well. It brought her comfort, familiarity, both things she desperately needed right now.

"I love you." she couldn't help but whisper because she did. She loved Emma in a way she had never loved another person. The woman in front of her was unique, maybe even special, her perfect match and true love. Emma was like her island in the storm, had always been even when she sometimes was the one causing the storms. No matter the insecurities and doubt, Regina was feeling almost dizzyingly happy to be there pressed against Emma.

"I love you too." Emma whispered against Regina, relieved about the calm conversation. It had not been ideal, definitely not happy but it had been something they needed.

"I think we should go to bed." Regina spoke nearly against Emma's lips, before pulling back enough to caress the golden hair that was framing the most beautiful face on the planet.

"Can I-" Emma took a breath. "Can I hold you tonight?"

A wide smile broke on Regina's face because yes, yes, she definitely did want Emma to hold her and just her asking was blain adorable. They had woken up like that this morning and Regina had never felt as safe as she had then, and she was excited to feel that way again.

"Please."

Emma took Regina's hand before leading them to the stairs. They stopped by to wish Henry goodnight and tell him to put down the comics. The next stop was to see Hope, but the girl was in deep sleep, not at all bothered by the sound of a door opening and closing.

It took them little to no time at all to make it to the bed. For a second there was awkward fumbling as they tried to arrange the duvets around them, but then Regina could feel a slender arm snaking its way on her back thigh.

It stayed there for a while, Emma clearly waiting for Regina to get comfortable and turn off the lights. Then it continued its way up her side before wrapping around her waist and pulling her closer. Regina could feel Emma's muscular thighs mold against her own and their ankles twisting to interwind. Then the blonde pressed series of small kisses against her back before laying her head against hers.

They were quiet for a long while and Regina was sure Emma had already fallen asleep. She was almost asleep herself before she could hear words whispered against her ear.

"Please Regina... please know, that I love you. Please, give me a second chance."

Regina opened her eyes and her mouth, ready to reassure Emma that she knew and that she always would. But it seemed that these were words she wasn't meant to be hearing. Emma seemed to think she was already asleep,

"I hate that I hurt you. I hate that I damaged our relationship so badly that you cannot trust me now. I'm so, so sorry, Gina, I-... I love you so much..."

Regina could hear tears in Emma's voice and she wanted nothing more than to turn around and make it better somehow. But she also knew this was private for Emma, that she only let it go like this because she thought Regina was asleep. She didn't want Emma's walls to rise up if she exposed her now so the only thing she could do was to pretend to sleep.

"You... are our everything, my everything." Emma whispered into the darkness again. "I know you cannot hear me but I just... had to say something. Goodnight." there was a kiss pressed against the tan back as Emma settled down. Her breathing evened out soon after, but Regina had hard time falling asleep.

She stared into the darkness before whispering, even more quieter than Emma had moments ago.

"Goodnight."

Chapter Text

The next couple of days went with trying to find a balance in their new family. Regina hated that she had to work when all she wanted was to spend more time with Emma, Henry and Hope. She wanted to bond with her daughter who she had just met, with her son who she had brought back from a different realm and with the woman she was in love with but had been separated from for years. She didn't want to give all the attention to the town, but she knew she had to. It was her responsibility.

Regina had gotten the school development on its way and it seemed that everything was going to be ready soon. She had even enrolled her younger son into school, wanting to make sure there was new knowledge to support the wide education he had gotten in the finest teachers of the White Kingdom.

Even when there was important work to be done for the town, there was nothing better than coming home to be greeted with smiles, hugs and smell of food. But that had been her past two days and she wasn't complaining, although she had to pinch herself the first time to make sure she wasn't dreaming.

"There you are Madame Mayor, we were wondering when you would be home." Emma's smile was blinding as she turned from the stove to face her girlfriend. "Henry was ready to start munching the counter there if you weren't going to turn up soon." Henry poked his tongue out from the end of the counter, but he too was smiling big.

He came forward to give Regina a hug, a thing he had started to do and which Regina loved so much. He then returned to his place at the counter, clearly waiting for the food to be served. Meanwhile Regina peppered Hope's face with kisses, making the little girl squeal with delight.

Regina could see Emma from the corner of her eyes, leaning against the sink, waiting for her with a smile. When Hope had calmed down, Regina finally moved up to her girlfriend. She pressed her body against Emma's and wrapped her arms around the blonde's neck. Regina could feel how Emma's hands settled on her hips as they stared at each other.

"Hi." Regina whispered.

"Hi, gorgeous." Emma whispered back.

"Now, how was your day?"

"Me and Hops laid on every single couch in this house."

"That must have been exciting."

"You have no idea. There are more couches in here than meets the eye."

"You are such an adventurer at heart, darling."

"We missed you though." Emma confessed sweetly, slightly lowering her gaze.

"I missed you too and I wanted to come home as soon as I left." Regina admitted.

"You shouldn't go to work tomorrow." Emma stated, her face serious.

"Maybe I won't." Regina smirked and pressed her lips against Emma's in a deep kiss. They very much knew they were in the same room as their children, but it seemed that now once they were together again being apart for even a normal length work day was causing withdrawals.

They separated from each other with several small pecks on each other’s smiling lips. Emma shooed Regina to her place before presenting their dinner. Emma had started to learn how to cook ever since she started her maternity leave and she had gotten pretty good.

Regina loved to cook but she couldn't deny how good she felt that someone wanted to cook for her, for the sole reason to make her happy. Ever since her talk with Emma, she had felt lighter about their situation and about her own feelings. Sure, things took time but every day it seemed just a little bit easier.

Also, there was Emma's nightly confession, but Regina hadn't brought it up yet and she was unsure should she. Things the blonde had said were much the same that she had while they had talked in the kitchen, but in the darkness, Emma had been unguarded, raw. It was the same but yet completely different.

But Regina knew they were in the same page here and for now that was enough.

The conversation at the dinner table that night was very much about the new people that had been brought from other realms. Henry told Emma about everyone he had met at school and Regina in turn about everyone she met because of her work. For Emma, it still continued to be the most peculiar thing, to hear about the people who were only characters in this worlds literature and film.

It was all so domestic and sweet, and Regina couldn't quite believe her luck. She was ready to live like this every day, to feel this loved and cared for and to love and care in return.

 


 

Regina hurried up the steps into the mansion, eager to see her family. She had gotten out way sooner than she was meant to, because her final meeting of the day had gotten canceled. Henry still hadn't made it home and Regina hoped they'd be able to take Hope for a walk and pick their son up from the bus.

Opening the door, she was in such rush she didn't much have time to look around or even listen what was happening in the house. Only thing she did was to kick off her heels in order to move faster, so impatient she was to hold her daughter again. The kitchen was empty as was the study. Skipping happily towards the kitchen, Regina could feel her heart nearly beat out of her chest, that's how happy she was feeling.

Her smile was only widening as she neared the kitchen and heard the familiar noise of her daughter banging her little plastic spoon on something. She was so adorable when she did that and that was very Swan-esque way of demanding food.

She was almost there.

But she came into a sudden halt in the doorway and her mouth dropped open.

It was like her heart had turned to dust in her chest without anyone having to have touched it. It was just how much it was hurting right now. Regina tried her hardest to breathe but she could only inhale but her lungs weren't letting anything out.

Her hand flew to her chest, on top of where her heart was supposed to be, trying to do something, anything to relieve the ache but she was in too much of a shock right now. She needed to leave.

Regina's attempt to leave quietly was ruined by no other than her own daughter who happened to turn enough in her chair to see her. There was a happy squeal, the one she always made when Regina was kissing her face and that roused the two other people in the room.

Brown met green.

"Regina..."

That was when the brunette turned and ran out of the house.

Chapter Text

How could she had been so stupid?

The pavement under her bare feet was hurting but it was nothing compared to the pain that was clawing at her inside her chest. If she didn't know any better, she would have thought she was having a heart attack but she was quite sure there was no heart left in her chest.

When Regina had woken up this morning, she didn't think she would end up running barefoot down the streets of Storybrooke, her eyesight blurred by tears. Actually, it had been far from it. She had woken up with a smile on her face and happiness in her heart. Her body had been relaxed and fully satisfied after their intense love making, and he mind was ready for the new challenges that came with being the Mayor of a storybook down and its realms.

She had been happy.

Happy.

How ridiculous it sounded now, how childish and naive. Why did she ever think she was meant to have that kind of happy ending? She might have done good things but were they really good enough to vanish the anguish and pain from the past? Apparently not.

It became harder and harder to run, her breathing so out of control because of the sobs that were ripped out of her one after the other. She pushed herself long enough to make it to the only safe haven where she could seek solitude.

Pushing her father’s coffin out of the way was filled with guilt and regret, just like it always was. Regina was sure she would never stop feeling guilty about it but right now she could only handle one heartbreak at a time.

Making it down she nearly threw herself towards the nearest chair because her legs were finally giving out. She leaned forward, trying to get her forehead to touch her knees in order to calm herself down. But she couldn't and if she was honest with herself she had no idea why she was even trying.

Thinking back to the scene she had just witnessed brought fresh tears into her eyes and she slapped her hand to cover her mouth. It was almost funny how many times she thought she had her heart broken before. When Daniel died, when she had to kill her father, then Henry rejected her after the curse was broken and when Emma had left her. She thought she had been hurting then.

But nothing came even close to what she was feeling now. Seeing Emma in her the arms of that pirate, holding him and kissing him had just destroyed everything in her. Regina wanted to reach out into her own chest and confirm that there was nothing else left but dust, but she didn't have the energy to do even that.

She just sat, looking forward and letting her tears fall.

How was I so stupid? Why did she do this to me? Did I do something wrong? Doesn't she love me anymore? Was this all just a trick, a game? Why am I not enough?

With every passing question the agony in her chest rose a bit, and eventually she was screaming out her pain. The vault wasn't her old room in the castle, but when it came to screaming, well, it would do just fine. And Regina did scream, because it sorts of felt like she was letting the bad feelings out somehow even when she knew very well that there was no curing this ache. Not this time.

Why did she ever fall in love with Emma Swan? She was only left hurting and humiliated, broken. And alone once more. And there was no escape now either as there no longer were other realms, there was no son in trouble that she needed to go and help.

She had to live through the pain, to somehow forget-

It was like someone had inserted a bolt of electricity into her brain and she shot up from the chair. She stood to the other side of the room, pulling her case closer. She was breathing heavily, thrilled with the possibilities. Opening the case, she let her fingers glide over her many vials, all different shape, size and color. She picked out three and set them on a table. With a wave of her hand she brought something from her house.

She had told Mulan that with all the ingredients the forgetting potion was easy to make, and they now had everything they needed. She would be brewing enough... for the both of them.

The former queen worked swiftly and without hesitation, adding the ingredients in the order stated in her spell book. If it had been any other situation and any other mindset, Regina would have acknowledged how dangerously easy the potion was to make. One could forget everything if it was made wrong and once you drank it there was no turning back. What you once knew was no more.

It was like it had never happened.

Pouring half of the potion into a vial she brought it closer to her lips. Only then did she halt. She took several shuttering breaths, the high of potion making wearing off and the pain creeping its way back in. She knew how the potion worked, she had made it correctly and she could get rid of the heartbreak, but she found herself to be scared. She didn't want to forget anything else, but if she ever wanted her heart to beat normally this was something she had to do.

Regina nearly dropped the vial when she heard banging from upstairs. Someone was in her family crypt, calling her name. It was only a matter of minutes before someone pushed aside the coffin and came downstairs. This was her only chance.

Tears in her eyes, she brought the vial closer to her mouth again before breathing out a broken whisper.

"I wish I had never fallen in love with Emma Swan."

She downed her drink.

Chapter Text

Regina opened her eyes slowly, suddenly gasping in a breath. It felt like this was the first proper breath she had taken in ages and maybe it was. It certainly felt like her body needed it desperately.

In and out.

In and out.

In and-

“Regina!”

The franticness of the voice was what made Regina turn around. She knew whose voice it was before even seeing anyone, and she was already annoyed and ready for this encounter to be over. Closing her eyes for a second, she took another deep breath before opening her brown eyes just in time to see Emma Swan storm down the steps of her vault.

The nerve with that girl.

“Regina, thank god, I looked everywhere for you!” Emma was panting as she flew to wrap her arms around the brunette. Regina was too stunned to react at first but when she got her bearings, she pushed the blonde away roughly.

Emma looked down, knowing full well that this wasn’t going to be so easy. There was a lot to talk about and she wanted to make sure Regina listened to her. And it helped the brunette to listen if she wasn’t mad and Emma hoped that her panicked hug hadn’t just boiled Regina over.

“We need to talk.”

Suddenly Regina felt heaviness settle itself on her as worry took over. She had been through enough to know that when someone started a conversation with those words, something bad had happened and she wanted to know right this second what it was.

“Is Henry alright?!”

“Henry? Wha- “

“Did something happen at school?” Regina was patting her pockets to find her phone. She wanted to hear her sons voice immediately.

“Regina, Henry is fine, but I want to talk to you about- “Emma tried to get her full sentence out but there was no use, Regina was faster like she had always been.

“Then why do you insist on worrying me like this, Miss Swan?” Regina was furious. This woman had no right to worry her like this, had no right to touch her. They were barely friends, they just tolerated each other for Henry’s sake.

That made Emma take a step back. Miss Swan. Regina hadn’t called her that in years, not with such distaste at least. There was coldness in her eyes that Emma well remembered but hadn’t seen directed at her since…

Since the first curse broke.

Emma started to desperately look around, moving stuff off the way, not listening to Regina’s warnings and threats. The annoyed, almost angry tone Regina had on was nearly crushing Emma under the meanings behind it, but the blonde tried not to think about it too much as she would not be able to function and figure this out.

“Really, Miss Swan, was it not enough that you scared me but now you must destroy my vault as well?” Regina couldn’t understand why the young blonde was intent in causing her inconvenience today, but it looked like she was about to lose her mind. Regina couldn’t deny the concern that bubbled deep within her as she looked how the blonde got more desperate by the minute. So, she was going to let Emma rummage around a while longer.

Emma went around the vault, looking into every nook and cranny, trying to find answers. She wasn’t sure what the question was though, but she had to do something, find a reason for the coldness behind the brown eyes.

Emma knew there was reason for Regina to hate her, but it had always resulted in more emotions but right now it seemed like the brunette was blank, like there was only distance between them, like there had never been love.

And that scared Emma more than anything.

It was then that she came by an open spell book, the very one Regina had often used when teaching her. Even when Emma was very much still learning the art of magic, she knew enough words and markings to be able to put two and two together. Her blood was running cold and it was like someone took a permanent hold of her heart and squeezed.

She tried her hardest to come up with something to say, something to ask or even something to explain herself with. But upon looking at Regina, how her arms were tightly crossed over her chest and how her face showed her clear boredom, Emma felt defeated. She didn’t know what she was going to do and she didn’t know could she even begin to explain.

“We should go.” She whispered, just wishing Regina wouldn’t fight her on this.

For once she was in luck as Regina didn’t say anything as she turned on her heels and headed towards the stairs. Emma sneaked the book off the table and pushed it into her jean pocket. She followed the brunette up again and they started their walk out of the cemetery with a respectable distance between them.

As it seemed that Regina was ignoring her entire existence, Emma took the time to message the people she had called up to help when Regina had left, letting them all know she was found. She left out her terror and suspicions, wanting to make sure there was nothing and no one to alarm their sons and daughter. She was going to get to the bottom of this first before alarming too many people. But she knew she was going to need help, which meant biting the bullet and texting Zelena.

Emma told the witch that she was going to need help, that something had happened to Regina and she didn't know what to do. She knew Regina wasn't going to be happy about her presence, but she couldn't leave the brunette alone, so she told Zelena to meet her at the mansion.

They had made it to the driveway of the mansion when Regina suddenly spun around. She had been deep in her thoughts as she was feeling a bit off and she hadn’t realized Emma had followed her home until now. She had seen the blonde’s reflection on one of the car windows. Regina had no idea why Emma was there, at her home and why she thought it was okay to assume she was welcome. They were co-parents sure, but she had spent enough time with the blonde nuisance to last for a week.

“What are you still doing here, Miss Swan?” Regina sighed, rubbing her temple. She was tired, confused and she just didn’t want to be around Emma any longer than she had to.

Emma opened and closed her mouth a couple of times, not knowing what to say. What do you say to a person you love with your entire heart but who doesn't want to be anywhere near you? What do you do when you just want to hold your soulmate, but they look repulsed at the mere idea of touching you? How do you even begin to explain the already messed up situation when your true love doesn't seem to remember who you are?

“I promised to meet Zelena here.” Emma supplied some sort of answer for the brunette, hoping it would gain her access into the house. She had left Hope with Hook, telling him to take her to their old house and wait there until she had a chance to talk with Regina.

Regina seemed displeased with the idea of Emma meeting her sister here, but she could really use her sisters’ company right now. There was something bugging her, there was a heaviness in the air and in her heart that she knew hadn’t been there before, but she had no idea what to do with it. Needless to say, she didn’t enjoy it one bit and was ready to be rid of it.

So maybe Zelena coming by wasn’t a bad idea even when it meant she had to be around Emma Swan a little while longer.

“Fine. Follow me.” She huffed before leading the way into the house.

Emma followed gratefully, wishing that the red head would show up sooner rather than later because she was starting to freak out. She had a pretty good idea what had happened, but she wished Zelena would swoosh in here to tell she was mistaken and an idiot and that she could help Regina.

They had only closed the door behind them when there was a cloud of green smoke in the middle of the foyer. It revealed a panicked looking Zelena who surged towards Regina in seconds and took a hold of her face. Regina tried her hardest to fight back but the red headed witch was relentless in her pursuit to check her sister for any physical injuries. Only when she seemed to feel sure that Regina wasn’t bleeding to death or suffering, she turned to Emma.

“You called me here, only for me to find out she is fine.” She spoke slowly, dangerously and Emma could feel goosebumps rising.

“But Zelena- “Emma tried but it seemed like it was one of those days when she couldn’t get a word in with the Mills sisters.

“Zelena, what is going on? Why would Miss Swan call you about me?” The brunette seemed confused, even angry as she didn’t know what was going on. As far as she understood the two women in front of her were barely civil with each other, only talking if it was about the town business. But now they were suddenly communicating behind her back about her… What the fuck was going on?

Zelena’s eyes went wide with the use of Miss Swan. Emma could see how her mind was working a mile a minute, trying to piece together the bits of information she knew. Suddenly her face went stoic as she looked Emma dead in the eye.

“She told me once she wanted to forget you. She was drunk and crying, you had just shattered her heart.” There were no emotions in Zelena’s voice, but her hands were shaking at her sides. “And just last week, after the family dinner, I was talking with Mulan and she…” Zelena swallowed roughly. “She said Regina was helping her with something. A potion.” She stopped and looked at Regina who was standing there, looking more and more confused by the second. “A potion to forget.”

Emma had had her doubts but the magnitude of it all hit her like a truck. She didn’t know that Regina was helping Mulan with anything even when they seemed to have become friends. She had never even considered this to be a possibility.

"No..." Emma was gasping out, trying to wrap her head around the information. "No, this cannot be happening..."

"What did you do?" Zelena's entire body was shaking now and she was barely holding her magic in check. "What did you do to her?"

"Zelena-" Emma took a cautious step backwards, raising her hand a little bit. She remembered Zelena's warning well, she knew there was no playing with the former Wicked Witch. She had to be careful. "I can explain-"

Suddenly there was a surge of magic that nailed Emma to the wall. It was like something was pressing at her chest, making it hard for her to breathe. She couldn't feel the floor under her, so she was definitely in the air. Oh shit.

"IF THERE IS SOMETHING TO EXPLAIN IT MEANS YOU DID SOMETHING!" Zelena was storming closer, screaming from the top of her lungs, tears of frustration and anger spilling on her face. "SHE TRUSTED YOU EMMA, SHE WAS OPENING HERSELF UP TO YOU! WHAT THE HELL DID YOU DO?!"

Regina had been momentarily stunned, but she rushed closer as she saw Emma fly against a wall. She had no idea what was going on, but it was seemed like her sister was ready to kill her sons other mother. She had to do something.

"Zelena, what on earth are you doing?!" she exclaimed as she made it to her sisters’ side. Zelena was not looking at her, as her eyes were zeroed on Emma. Her sister was so angry, and she had no idea what to do to calm her down. "Stop it."

"No." Zelena answered. "I need answers."

"Let her down, Zelena." Regina laid her hand on her sisters’ shoulder. "How am I ever going to explain to Henry that his aunt is flying his other mother against walls?" she tried to bring in the kids as ever since Zelena officially became part of the family, it seemed to work.

"She hurt you." Zelena whispered, only now turning to look at Regina. Regina was surprised by the tears that were flowing down on her sister’s face. "You don't remember it, but she did. She has done it before and I told her I would kill her if she ever did it again. And here we are."

Zelena turned her stormy eyes towards Emma again who swallowed heavily. She chanced a look at the brunette who was standing there, with her mouth open only a fraction. Brown eyes were staring at her sister like she was crazy, and Emma wanted to laugh.

How had it all turned so upside down?

She had to try to reason with the redhead, there was no other way to try to help Regina.

"Killian came here today." Emma started, tearing her eyes away from Regina so she could concentrate on Zelena. "He came to say goodbye."

"Goodbye?" Zelena was no longer screaming but she was suspicious and still angry. "What do you mean goodbye?"

"He came to tell me he is going to leave Storybrooke. Ever since I told him he tried to find reasons to stay but there were none." Emma continued to tell her story, feeling a stab of regret. She had ended up hurting so many people.

"I don't understand. That's a good thing, right? That was her biggest insecurity, that she was going to lose you." Zelena's magic was slowly calming down as she was now more confused than angry.

Emma closed her eyes. It was meant to be happy news to Regina. Something to put her mind at ease. It had been all that, until the brunette came home early and saw a mere second on the interaction, out of context.

"He hugged me and he..." Emma closed her eyes "he kissed me goodbye. Regina saw it and-"

The pain on her chest was suddenly there tenfold and she groaned in agony. It was like someone had placed a massive hand on her chest and just pressed down. It was getting hard to breathe and her vision was starting to spot with the lack of oxygen. It was hard for her to hear what was being said, as even the voices started to muffle.

Emma was about to lose consciousness when suddenly there was a surge of air pumped into her lungs as she fell to the floor. She had never been so grateful for breathing as she was this very moment, trying to inhale as much as possible.

Things were starting to sharpen up in her eyes and her hearing was coming back in crackles. She was about to try to get up from the couch when there was sudden presence next to her. Lips were pressed near her ear and angry whisper pierced through the fog.

"You have Regina to thank, otherwise you wouldn't even be alive right now. It was ready to crush you like a bug. I'm taking Regina with me and you have tonight to clean this house up. She doesn't need to see any of it before we know how much she made herself forget."

Emma's eyesight was alright enough to see two people vanish in a green smoke.

Chapter Text

Regina laid on the bed in her sister’s guest bedroom. Henry had just come in, wishing her goodnight but Regina had barely heard him. Zelena and her had picked him up from the bus after they left the mansion, telling him they were spending the night at the farm house.

Zelena and Henry had exchanged looks at the bus stop, and later in the house. Regina knew everyone thought she didn't see but they were all staring at her, whispering and leaving something out. She had heard a lotat the mansion, when Zelena had nearly crushed the life out of Emma.

It was impossible to keep up and try to even begin to piece together all the information she had gotten as none of it made any sense. There was a lot of talk about pain and hurting and Hook. Regina wrinkled her nose at the mere idea of him. She had never been too fond of the pirate, as he had teamed up with her mother all those years ago and there was nothing pleasant about those memories. Nor were there about their little trip to Neverland.

Regina turned to her side and squeezed her eyes closed. It was all just so much to process, but she was happy to be around her family. Robin and Alice had caught her up in town gossip, happily filling her in about the news from the kingdoms they had visited earlier that day. Younger Robin had played board games with Henry for the entire evening, every bit as intense as her mother who had taken it upon herself to prepare some dinner.

Regina had taught her sister to cook when she had become a mother and over the years the old witch had gotten great at it. The food had been served and everyone had retreated to their respective things afterwards. Robin and Henry to their game, older Robin and Alice to their little cottage they had made their own after arriving and Regina and Zelena in the living room.

It was like nothing had happened, like it was any other day.

Zelena was a world class actress and she gave nothing away as she babbled on about a tv show she had been watching and her ideas how to improve the town map she had created. Regina had only been listening with half a ear, her mind elsewhere.

She turned again in her bed to see the time. 02:07 am.

God, how she wished she could sleep, but alas it didn't seem like it was going to happen anytime soon.

It felt like she had barely finished the thought when she heard the door open. She raised her head to see Zelena quietly close the door again. Without saying a word, the red head tiptoed closer and sat to the other end of the bed. She was dressed in a massive emerald green bathrobe that was almost as long as her, with white socks peaking from under the hem. The whole get up was just barely visible in the near pitch black darkness.

They were quiet for a long time before Regina whispered.

"Will you tell me what is going on?"

She could hear Zelena sigh and it was almost audible how the gears were turning in her head as she was trying to form an answer. Eventually, she whispered equally as quietly.

"It will be a shock, Regina... or then you won't believe a word I'm saying."

"Try me."

And Zelena launched into a story. It was a story about two women who became friends and who eventually fell in love. There was a mention of a man, who was the reason the other woman left the one she loved and destroyed her by doing so. The women spend years apart because of curses and realms, but now they were reunited after going through their heartache. These women lived together now, they loved each other, and they even hosted a family dinner for everyone. They had been happy. And then the man returned, and the woman saw too much, and she broke her heart. Again. The only out she had found was the forgetting potion she had been making for her friend. And now she didn't remember.

Regina just listened, unable to formal a question or even make a sound. She had no idea how long the story lasted but finally, finallyher sister quieted down.

"No." was the only thing she managed to breathe out.

"I know it seems odd, but I swear-" Zelena started, but she was cut off as Regina was trying to verbally process the story.

"You are going to sit there and keep telling me that I fell in love with- Who in their right mind would fall in love with Emma Swan?" it was almost impossible to even say those words without laughing. It was like it was only yesterday when the blonde had walked into Storybrooke, all arrogant and annoying, trying to take Henry from her. They had gone through a lot of things together sure, but when thinking of Emma, those feelings were the first ones to bubble out. Just that. How would that ever morph into love?

"You were, you so were, but like I said, you just... wanted to forget that." Zelena whispered and even when Regina couldn't see her face she could sense the sadness in her sister’s voice. She couldn't understand why Zelena was sad, when there was quite literally nothing to be sad about. She didn't love Emma Swan and she never had. Never would. So, she wasn't missing anything.

"This is ridiculous." Regina huffed, getting annoyed. She was done with this charade and didn't want to hear any more about it. It was a lot to take in and if Zelena had something to add, then well... it could wait.

It was dead quiet in the room and Regina was starting to doubt was Zelena even there anymore. Maybe she had slipped out when she was deep in thought. Maybe she had imagined all of this and it was all a nightmare.

The brunette would deny nearly jumping out of her bed, when her sister finally spoke. "I know you don't believe me, but it's all true. I don't know how it's all going to work, but for now... You are safe here and you are always welcome to return."

Without saying anything more, the red head got up and headed for the door. And she was gone as quietly as she appeared. Regina was left even more confused than she was before, and it was only when the sun was starting to rise when her exhausted body knocked her out.

 


 

The following day started simply and comfortably, but it grew weirder and weirder as she made it out of the house and to work. There was a lot of staring, worried glances and canceled appointments. After lunch time and several worried questions from her friends later, there was no meetings left and only paperwork to keep her company. Regina acknowledged that she was rather happy being alone right now as nothing seemed to make sense. Yesterday wasn't like this, that she was sure of but even when things were weird, she didn't feel unhappy. It was quite the opposite in fact.

Because right now she had absolutely everything she needed. The final battle had been fought and everyone who were brought in with the last curse were happy and settling in. She had both of her sons and her older son's family here, and she could see Lucy grow up. She was reunited with her sister in this world as well and she no longer had to cross realms to have coffee with Snow. What more could she ask for?

It was almost time leave and Regina was just finishing up her final document of the day when there was a knock on her door. Marie had waved bye 15 minutes ago and Regina's curiosity was peaked - who was behind her door?

"Come in!"

It revealed no other than Snow White, who looked almost scared to be there. Regina couldn't understand why, because they had somehow managed to become best of friends. It was remarkable really, but right now she felt more concerned than anything as it seemed like the other woman was ready to burst into tears any second now.

Regina got up and hurried towards her friend just in time as Snow drew in a breath before starting to cry. Regina helped the smaller woman on the couch, offered her tissues before taking her hands. She had no idea what was wrong with her friend, but she was anxious to find out and maybe she could do something to help.

"Snow? What happened?" she asked kindly, still holding onto Snow's hands.

After a lot of swallowing and nose wiping, Snow finally managed to talk. "Emma."

Ah, yes. Of course. Whenever Snow cried it almost always had something to do with Emma. When they were happy tears it was usually something to do with mother daughter bonding, but if they were tears of sadness... something was really, really wrong. No matter what Regina's personal relationship was with the blonde, Snow and her daughter had really come a long way and if there was something wrong, Regina was ready to work on and beyond to help her friend.

"What about Emma?" Regina asked kindly.

"She came home yesterday, crying." Snow whispered, wiping her nose again. "She said she had ruined everything, that there was no way of fixing it. Regina, she was so upset." Snow nearly started to cry again.

Regina remembered yesterday vividly but she had no idea how much of it Snow knew about. She didn't think any of the details of Emma nearly dying in the hands of Zelena would console Snow much, so she tried to make the situation better with a bit of uncharacteristic humour.

"I know Emma can be dramatic sometimes, but 'ruining everything' seems a bit too big of a bite, even for her."

Her well-meant humor seemed to have the opposite effect as it somehow made Snow cry even harder. Regina tried to backtrack and enter the conversation again from a different angle. "Snow, tell me what happened."

That made Snow pull away entirely and look Regina directly in the eyes. Regina was slightly taken aback but she met her gaze head on, waiting for Snow to say something.

"You really don't remember, do you?" she then whispered sadly.

Suddenly the massive office started to feel too small as Regina tried to breathe as deeply as possible. Even the mention of remembering and forgetting was making her feel horrible and she didn't need it from Snow. She should have known that the second Emma came up in the conversation she should have found a way to shut it down. How stupid of her.

"Snow, let it go." she whispered, hoping against hope that for once in her life the pixie haired woman would just listen to her wishes.

What was she expecting, really?

"But Regina-" Snow started but this time Regina was ready to cut her off.

"No, Snow. I can't stand everyone just coming to me and telling me how horrible it is that I can't remember!" Regina could feel the familiar anger bubbling out. "It's not horrible because there is nothing to remember and nothing to miss! And if I have really done something to my own memories, there must have been a damn good reason!"

There. She said it.

She was done with people trying to tell her how miserable she should be, because she truly wasn't. Yes, she was confused and curious, but that was far outweighed with happiness she was feeling right now. Regina didn't want people to ruin it by putting ideas in her head every five minutes. She had done the right thing by bringing everyone here and now she could finally concentrate on the things she loved. Her family and her work.

"I'm sorry, Regina." Snow said, knowing the signs. "For so many things, but at the moment for upsetting you. It wasn't my intention."

And Regina knew that. Those days were far behind them and she was grateful for that every day.

"I know Snow. I didn't mean to yell." she rubbed her temple before looking at her friend again. "Would you, Charming and Neal like to join me and Henry for dinner tomorrow night? I very much feel like a small family dinner is in order."

Snow confirmed that they would definitely be there before she announced that she should be on her way. They hugged their goodbyes before Regina was left alone once more. She swiftly moved behind her table to finish up before leaving for the night.

Henry had already arrived home, she knew that much. Even when her younger son was from the Wish Realm, Regina had introduced him to phones. It was very important that there was a way for them to be in touch with each other and she had expressed her wish that Henry would let her know when he made it home.

Regina stopped at Granny's on her way home, wanting to surprise her son with pizza. Yes, during the time Henry had gone to find her own story, Granny had explored the world of pizza and as per usual she was nailing it. How annoying but also it was a blessing in disguise.

It was nearing dinnertime when Regina arrived home. She was met with Henry at the door and he quickly snatched the pizza box from her hands with a victorious yelp. Regina yelled after him, telling him to keep the pizza warm when she went to change. She got a quick 'ok mom' as confirmation before heading upstairs.

Regina wasn't sure what she expected to find upstairs, but as she opened her bedroom door everything was just like it had always been. The bed, the nightstand, the armchair by the window...

There was something in the air though that troubled her. It was nearly vibrating, creating a sense of force in the room. There was something familiar about it and that's when Regina understood what it was.

Magic.

In any other case she would have been alarmed and on defense in seconds but there was something downright comforting about the magic. It was heavy like duvets sometimes were and they pressed you comfortably into the bed. It was like fire in the fireplace during those cold winter months. Security.

Regina still felt like she should check it out but as she lifted her hand to use her magic, Henry called her name from downstairs, wanting to know what was taking her so long. Regina lowered her hand and launched to get ready to have pizza with her son.

The brunette could say that the dinner was the highlight of her entire day. Henry was excited about his day at school and all the new things he had learned from the teachers of this realm. Regina was more and more happy with her decision to send Henry to school here as well, even when she knew he had a fine education, fitting for a prince from the best teachers of the White Kingdom. Regina knew Snow would have never let her grandson be anything but a model student.

They carried on talking until it was time for Henry to turn in for the night. He kissed Regina's cheek before wishing her goodnight and disappearing upstairs. Regina hummed to herself as she put away the dishes and cleaned up the kitchen.

That was when the doorbell rang.

Walking swiftly towards the foyer, Regina fluffed her hair and dusted off her clothes, opening the door without second guessing like one often does. But as soon as she saw who was on the other side of the door, she rolled her eyes tiredly.

"Miss Swan, I really don't have the time-"

"No, please listen." the tears in Emma's voice made Regina stop and focus on the woman in front of her. Emma looked like she had been crying and that somehow, she had managed to lose a severe amount of body weight since Regina last saw her yesterday. She seemed utterly miserable and Regina actually felt a bang of worry.

"I know you don't remember." Emma whispered. "And my mom says that you are happy this way. I... I respect that, because I hurt you." she looked down.

"Do you actually believe in all this?" Regina couldn't hold her question in any longer. She had had several conversations about her apparent love for Emma Swan and finally the topic of all those conversations was standing there in front of her. So, she just had to ask.

"Yes, because it's true." Emma didn't seem to mind the slight mocking undertone Regina knew her question had had. "I love you."

It should have made her giddy. It should have made her feel an emotional surge of some sort. It should have brought up tears. It should have been like a bang of understanding in her heart.

But none of those things happened, because she didn't feel that way about Emma.

"I'm sorry, Emma, but I'm not feeling the way you are." Regina said, feeling a bit bad for the girl who had just told her she loved her. She knew Emma well enough to know it wasn't a small step she had just taken, opening up like that, but she couldn't lie. Especially when their current situation was so peculiar.

Emma looked down, closing her eyes for a bit, clearly trying to gather herself. Regina waited, wanting to give the other woman a moment.

Finally, the green eyes rose back up to meet the waiting pools of chocolate.

"I know you might not believe me or any of us right now, I know it seems like the most impossible thing and yeah, I can kinda see the humor in this. I mean, we didn't exactly start from the good place." Regina let out a tiny snort purely on accident, but Emma smiled. "Yeah, I feel that. I didn't think we would end up here either. But none of this changes the fact that I know and remember what happened and how I feel. I will tell you how I feel every day, because I once promised you that I wouldn't let a day go by without you knowing that."

Regina was starting to feel uncomfortable, but Emma was being so sincere that she didn't have the heart to interrupt her.

"You are my everything." was whispered into the evening air as Emma turned around and walked away.

Regina followed her with her eyes until the darkness swallowed her.

She quietly closed the door.

 


 

 The next day started considerably calmer than the previous had apart from the text Regina found waiting for her as she woke up. It was from Emma and it was very simple and to the point.

I love you. Good morning.

The blonde had told her the previous night that she was going to keep reminding her of that and Regina was unsure what to do with the information. She felt bad for Emma, not because the blonde was feeling things but because she was feeling them towards her of all people. But it brought up a feeling of guilt even when there was nothing to feel guilty about. She didn't love Emma and it wasn't her obligation to.

Ignoring the message, she made a quick work on her morning preparations before meeting her son downstairs for breakfast. They chatted for long moments before Henry had to run to catch his bus to school. Once Regina was left alone she had the biggest desire to stay home. She had no idea what she was actually going to do with her time but going to office to be stared at wasn't really something she was excited about.

But before she could really decide her phone rang and just like that she was whisked away to be the Mayor again.

Marie had called to inform her that queen Aurora and king Phillip were requesting to meet her at their castle. Regina had a lot of reasons to dislike the perky queen, one of them being what she did to Maleficent all those years ago and what she was currently doing to Mulan. Regina didn't know was Aurora aware of the fact that Mulan loved her and that every time they met the warrior was just barely holding herself together.

None the less, it was her duty as the Mayor of Storybrooke to take care of any possible problems the new arrivals were having. Especially the royalty of the realms, because it was a well-known fact that they were the neediest ones.

Regina arrived in record time, parking her Mercedes in front of the castle. It was a weird mixture of worlds and cultures, but it didn't matter right now. There was work to be done.

As it turned out, there was no real problem which made Regina roll her eyes. The whole meeting was more about Aurora and Phillip wanting to know what was happening in the realms that were brought over and how situations were going to be handled in the future. Regina did her best trying to explain the fine points of running a town in the land without magic, just wanting to put their doubts and worries at ease. Because only thing worse than a royalty was a worried royalty. They were bound to do hurried, bad decisions and Regina knew that from personal experience.

She only managed to tear herself away during lunchtime and she was already exhausted. Aurora was just as perky and annoying as she had always been, and the constant chirping was tiring to be around for too long.

Regina knew she might end up regretting it but she parked her car in front of Granny's, fully intent in getting some lunch before heading back into the office. She did her best to ignore the stares that seemed to follow her around the diner, but people seemed to lose interest when she finally sat down in the booth.

Picking up the menu, she tried to decide what she was going to eat. Granny was really branching out, bringing new things in with speed of light so for once there were new things to choose from. While she was reading, someone slipped into the booth opposite to her.

"Hello, Regina."

Regina raised her eyes before smiling kindly. Mulan was sitting in front of her, smiling as well. It was nice to meet someone without them being instantly worried or sad. It had only been going on for few days but it was already getting old.

"Hello, dear. How are you?" Regina asked, putting the menu down.

"I'm actually pretty great." Mulan smiled again before asking a question of her own. "And you?"

"Never better, even when people seem to think that's wrong somehow." Regina laughed a little bit. "I feel happy."

Mulan was staring at her for few seconds before she spoke again. "I know why you did it. And I understand the pain you were feeling. The decision must have been easy to make in the moment, but I feel like you forgot more than you were meant to."

That made Regina feel a slight panic. The whole situation seemed completely made up to her, but no one had ever brought it up like this. If she truly had done it, what had she forgotten by accident?

"Mulan." Regina whispered dangerously. "You better tell me right this second what you are talking about or I will-"

"You don't have to threaten me, Regina. We are friends now and I was going to tell you because I feel like you deserve to know as many details as possible." Mulan was smiling at Regina and the former queen felt bad for reverting back into anger.

"Would you please? Zelena told me everything that happened, but she didn't mention anything else but Emma." Regina was thinking back to the impossible story her sister had painted for her.

"I know what Zelena told you, which is partly why I'm here. She didn't have the heart to tell you, nor did she know would you even believe her if she did." Mulan spoke calmly, and it somehow made Regina feel calmer as well.

For the first time since this whole episode started she tried to wrack her brain, trying to remember what she could have possibly forgotten. Of course, it didn't work but it also didn't hurt to try.

"You have a daughter, Regina."

That made the former queen burst into uncontrollable laughter. Everyone in the diner turned to look at her but she saw no one as her vision was blurred with hysteric tears. This was getting more and more ridiculous by the minute and she didn't know why no one else seemed to understand that.

"That was a good one." Regina was wiping her eyes when she finally managed to calm down. "But I cannot have children, haven't been able since I was very young and drank a potion to prevent any possible pregnancies." that should have made Mulan drop the topic, but it didn't.

"Emma carried your child."

Oh, it was getting better.

 "So, let me get this straight. On top of me being in love with Emma Swan, she also carried my child?" Regina was going to humor Mulan because this was just too golden to pass. "That would mean we are true loves and that is just the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard."

When Regina finished up her mini rant she saw how Mulan's gaze was focused on something behind her. There was sadness bedded in the gaze and Regina felt a sense of de ja vu. This scene was so familiar and as she turned around she was half expecting to see Aurora, but what she saw instead made her feel ashamed. Emma was standing by the diner door, looking right at her with a heartbroken look on her face. It made something tug in Regina's own heart, but she was getting so distracted by staring at the child Emma was holding.

It was like she was staring at a little copy of herself. The eyes, the hair... it was uncanny. It almost made Regina believe Mulan's story, but she figured the only reason she was getting so stuck on the details was because she had just been told she had a daughter with Emma. Yeah, that must have been it. God knows, who’s the child really was.

But what shattered Regina's uncaring exterior and her ability to convince herself on things was the happy squeal and grabby hands the baby presented her with when she saw Regina. Those little eyes, so much like her own, seemed to light up as the small girl tried to leap out of her mother's arm towards Regina. The brunette could feel a bile rise into her mouth and she knew she had to get away. There was no reason for anyone to see her crumble.

Without saying a word to anyone she got up and hurried out of the backdoor.

Chapter Text

Regina only ever properly stopped moving once she had slammed shut the door of the mansion. She was still breathing heavily, fighting the urge to throw up all the while trying to wrap her head around what had just happened. The more she tried to piece things together, the more panicked she was starting to feel.

The story was both starting to add up but it was like trying to push a piece of a puzzle into a right place, but the piece was completely wrong way around. There were sides that weren't matching, that didn't make sense to Regina and they were so severe that they couldn't be overlooked.

Regina took the steps upstairs two at a time which was a feat for the short woman. Entering her room, she felt the familiar pressure of magic hitting her like a heatwave. Over the last couple of days, she had gotten so used to it and the comforting ability it had on her, but right now all she wanted was to know what was going on. Because the magic in her room was somehow connected to this whole ordeal.

Lifting her hand in front of her, Regina gave it a little wave across the room. Suddenly there were shining holograms all around the room. There were photographs, clothes and toys that Regina had never seen before. What was most startling to Regina was the fact that the holograms were giving the room a homey kind of feeling, the kind Regina herself had never been able to create. She could feel hot tears spilling on her cheeks as she walked towards the pictures that had been added next to the ones of baby Henry.

There was a slightly bigger picture that looked like it had been taken over a family dinner. Both of her Henry's were there as was the older Henry's family. The Charmings were there, as was Zelena's family and to Regina's surprise Mulan was there as well. But what she couldn't really take her eyes off was Emma who was holding her from behind and the baby that was laying in Regina's own arms. Seeing all three of them in the same picture like that made Regina see the similarities between them. The baby really looked like it could be theirs.

There were more photos of both Henry's, of the Charmings and of Regina and Emma together. Regina wished she could pick up one of the pictures and look closer, but it was only a hologram of the one that had once stood there. Everything that was now a hologram had been removed with magic, and now seeing what the holograms presented, Regina knew it must have been Emma. She felt ashamed that it had taken her so long to figure out whose magic it had been, since they had made magic together before.

It took Regina a long time to tear her eyes away from the picture of the two of them holding each other close like there was no other place they would rather be in. It didn't seem real, it was too odd to be real. It was like her heart wanted to believe but her brain wasn't going to let her, because it just couldn't be.

There were clothes in the room that Regina assumed must have been Emma's if the comfortable style was anything to go by. There was a basket of baby toys in the foot of the bed, some of them new and some Regina recognized to be Henry's old toys.

Every item missing from the room held memories and feelings that Regina didn't feel and didn't know anything about and it left her in conflict. It all seemed so good, so why would she have wanted to forget all of it? Was the thing Emma did really so horrible that she would voluntarily give up the feeling the comfort she was now experiencing?

There were other rooms she wanted to see, because the effects of Emma's magic was spread over the entire second floor. She peaked into Henry's room, raising her hand in front of her. Not a lot of things were removed from this room as it seemed Henry had found a way to hide things in plain sight. Upon closer look, Regina found the same family photograph on one of his shelfs and she took the opportunity to pick it up for a closer look.

Everyone in that photo looked so happy and carefree, like there was nothing wrong in the world. The thing that had been in her room had already knocked at the door of doubt in her brain, but this picture made the door swing open. Could it actually all be true? Was this what she had chosen to forget?

Placing the picture back carefully, Regina left the room. There was a guest room at the end of the hallway, right next to her room and she walked slowly towards it. She didn't remember the last time she was in that room, but she was sure there was something there now. Or had been.

Pushing the door open, she took a step into the room. There had been a bed there before, a wooden closet, things that normal guest room had but right now there was nothing. It was just an empty room. But Regina knew in her heart that it hadn't been empty couple of days ago.

She was almost scared when she waved her hand.

What she saw appear around the room made a sob bubble out of her as she slapped a hand to her mouth. It was a nursery, decorated in the softest of colors, filled with books and toys and clothes. What captivated the most was the crib that was leaning on the furthest wall. It looked like it had been made out of the finest of woods and Regina wished she could touch it. This room was filled with photographs as well, some of them copies of them ones in her bedroom.

There were baby pictures of the child she had seen in Emma's arms, all put in order from the oldest to the newest. She truly looked so much like her, but howcould it all happen to her?

It wasn't that Regina disliked the idea of a happy family, quite opposite in fact. It was something she had always wanted but what she hadn't gotten before Henry came into her life. But there had never been anyone she had wanted to share the joy of parenthood with. She had loved Daniel, but it had ended before it had even truly begun, and she had been different then. Robin had been there, but she had always felt there was something missing in their bond and then the entire relationship had ended up going sideways as well.

But Emma? Had she once upon a time been so in love with Emma that they ended up having a true love baby? She had known Emma for a long time and they had been through a lot together, but she hadn't fallen in love with her. Why would she?

Waving her hand, she made the holograms disappear, before leaving the room. She needed some fresh air after being so consumed in Emma's magic.

Sure, Emma was kind and funny and she had always been really good with Henry, even when Regina hadn't particularly liked that she was around. Emma had that gorgeous, flowy hair and fine legs, and somehow, she understood Regina. Not only her as a person but her story and background as well. They were friends, she wasn't in love.

There it was again, that pressure in her heart. it was like she had just finished half an hour of cardio, that's how tired the organ seemed to her. Like it was handling too much for unknown reasons and Regina was getting more and more concerned by the minute.

Making her way down the steps, she nearly threw herself out of the backdoor that led to the yard. It was in the middle of the day and the sun was still high in the sky and right now Regina preferred it over the dark nighttime. She needed light, she needed clarity. She needed to know what was going on.

Well, if she looked at it from another angle, she knew what was going on because literally every person she had met in the past couple of days had told her the story in some form. But was it really-

No, she had to stop doubting if she ever wanted to figure out what had happened, what had really gone down. There were several people she wished to talk to to get the full picture, but what would that really accomplish? If she truly had done what everyone said she had, there was no reversing the spell. What you once knew, was no more. She had studied the potion well after she promised to make it for Mulan.

The warrior had said something to her in the diner.

The decision must have been easy to make in the moment.

Maybe she had made a mistake in the heat of a moment. If the situation had been bad and she had felt herself being at risk, she knew herself well enough that she might have just... done it without thinking too much of the consequences.

"Mom! I'm home!"

Regina turned around as Henry called from inside the house. Henry. He had been there since they were all brought to Storybrooke, maybe he knew something that could help her figure this all out. Regina felt bad for even thinking of asking help from her own son, but she was getting desperate as her brain refused to turn off.

She hurried into the house, nearly colliding with said son in the living room doorway.

"Woah, mom, you okay?" Henry held onto her mother’s shoulders to steady both of them.

"Me? Yes, of course I'm okay, I-" Regina hurried to reassure her son like she always did, not wanting to worry him but the look she was receiving was the one of disbelief and doubt. That made Regina quiet down midsentence and think over what she was going to say.

Henry knew there was something bothering his mother and from the looks of her, she got something she wanted to ask. "Tell me what you are thinking." he prompted.

"It's about this thing I have apparently forgotten."

"Yes?"

"And I was wondering..."

"Go on."

"What do you know about it?" Regina finally managed to squeeze out her question.

Henry put his hand to his chin dramatically before smirking. "Do you wanna talk about being head over heels in love with Ma or the cutest ever baby sister you two seemed to have created?"

It was like someone had thrown Regina with a brick, that's how stunned she was. She knew her son was almost grown up, but she had forgotten that this version had been raised by no other than Emma Swan. It didn't matter that the Wish Realm Emma had been more princess than a badass because it seemed like the bluntness came through blood.

"I think we have a lot to talk about." she whispered before turning on her heels and heading back into the living room. Henry followed after her and fell down to sit next to his mother on the couch.

They were quiet for a long time, before Regina mustered up a courage to ask. "How much do you know?"

"Well, I know that she is in love with you and that you are in love with her. Frankly, I have never seen anyone quite as mushy as you guys." Henry smiled, because it was true. His mothers were so head over heels in love with each other, it was sometimes downright sickening. "You both were so happy together."

"What about the... baby?" Regina was almost afraid to ask, but that was something that intrigued her the most.

"She is the cutest ray of sunshine and before you ask, yes she is a product of true love, your true love with Ma." Henry said, looking at his mother’s reaction closely. There was a growing spot of softness in the middle of the doubt she was clearly feeling.

Regina felt bad for asking Henry the next question because no matter what, he shouldn't have to worry about things that happened between his parents, but he seemed to be the only one who had no opinions, but who let him feel as she wished. "Do you know why I did it?"

Henry gave a small shrug. "I don't know the details, but what I do know, it seems there was a misunderstanding and you didn't know what happened."

Hearing the word misunderstanding was usually something that should bring relief, but right now it nearly made Regina throw up. Had she really thrown all of this away over a misunderstanding that could have been solved if she had just waited? Had she ruined everything by being too selfish?

Henry could see how pale his mother had suddenly gotten which concerned him. He laid his hand Regina's shoulder. "Mom? Are you okay?"

Regina breathed in and out a couple of times, trying not to cry in front of her son. "No, Henry, I'm not okay. I will be, eventually but right now I don't feel too good." she wasn't going to lie especially when the only thing she wanted to do right now was to lay in her own bed and see no one.

Henry nodded his understanding before Regina got up. She was swaying a little bit on her feet, but she made it surprisingly well to the doorway. There she turned to look at her son. "There is some money in my purse for food. You are free to order in." remembering her son was from the Wish Realm, she backtracked a little bit. "If you call Granny's and tell her what you want, she will be delivering here."

Without saying another word, the former queen retired to her room, wanting to be alone with the mistakes she had possibly made. Tomorrow she would talk to people about things and memories and magic. She needed more answers. Right now, the only thing she wanted was try to sleep a bit, so maybe she would feel better.

It was weird how she hadn't realized how much comfort Emma's magic in the air brought her as she fell asleep as soon as her head hit the pillow.

 


 

Regina had half been expecting nightmares, but she woke up from a peaceful sleep. It was rare for her to feel so calm after being under so much stress, but for some reason things were different now. She couldn't help but to think was it because of the forgetting potion she may have taken. That she had taken.

Yes, Regina was more and more sure she had actually done what people have told her she had. The stories she had heard seemed more and more possible in theory but feeling wise it was still hard to believe she would ever fall in love with Emma Swan. And the baby... Regina realized she didn't even know her name.

Rolling around in her bed, she reached for her phone she had left on the nightstand. It was already evening, nearing her son’s bedtime. Regina listened carefully but she couldn't hear anything from the house. If it had been the olden days when you never knew what kind of villain was there to terrorize you next, she would have gone directly into the panic mode. She knew however that things were different now and she would do well to check first.

Picking up her phone she saw couple of missed calls and several texts. Most of them from Snow and it was only then that Regina remembered she had invited them for dinner. She groaned audibly before opening the messages Snow had send her.

Hey, I had figured you might have forgotten dinner, but we decided to come by anyway to see if you and Henry wanted to join us for a dinner out. He told us you weren't feeling well, and we decided to take him with us to Granny's, I hope that's okay. We are going to return him afterwards. Do you want us to bring you something?

The message after that was couple of hours later.

Henry is returned, and he said he is going to bed to read. We checked he has his alarms on so he is ready for school. There is some food in the fridge if you are hungry. Please call me tomorrow. I hope you are feeling better.

Regina felt grateful for her friendship with Snow, but she couldn't help but to feel bad for her son who she had left to tend for himself. That wasn't what mother should do.

It was like Henry had known she was thinking of him because there was a new unread message in her phone a second later. Opening it, she could feel tears gather in her eyes.

Hey, mom. I know grandma texted you about dinner. There is food in the fridge if you are hungry and I set up the coffee machine if you feel like you need a cup. I know you are feeling bad over tonight but please don't. I know you needed time for yourself and it's okay. I will see you tomorrow for breakfast? Goodnight, mom. I love you.

She quickly texted Henry back, apologizing anyway and telling him how much she loved him. He was a good boy, a brilliant boy. It was a privilege to be his mother.

Rolling to her back, she just looked up in the ceiling. She had a massive urge to wave her hand and make the hologram photographs and clothes appear again, but something in her was screaming against the idea strongly.

Instead, the brunette huffed before throwing off the covers and making it out of the bed. She dragged her tired body into the master bathroom where she got undressed. It was unlike Regina Mills to sleep with her day clothes on but she had been too stressed out to care in the moment.

So now she was peeling off tight, wrinkly navy colored pantsuit and putting them in the hamper. Upon righting herself, she pushed her arms towards the sky, stretching her body before there was the satisfying crack of her back that she was aiming to. She then turned to look at herself in the mirror.

Gasp.

There were bruises all over her body. On her lower stomach, on her breasts, especially on the right one, on her sides and- were those teeth marks on her hips?!

Regina couldn't believe her eyes and she was on her way to get properly outraged. She had never, in any realm or time let anyone mark her like this. There was no one she would allow to do that, to claim her like this!

Suddenly she halted and looked at her own reflection in the mirror. Was... was this Emma? Had she let Emma do this? It seemed to be the only option, the only even remotely possible explanation.

Emma.

Regina lifted her hand and carefully touched one of the marks under her right breast. First just with her fingertips, then adding a bit of pressure. It wasn't hurting which must be why she hadn't noticed it before this. She moved up to a next one, when she suddenly felt a slight blush creep up on her cheeks. Being sure it was because she was feeling mildly embarrassed, she moved up to the one that was almost directly on her nipple.

When she pressed down, Regina could feel like a sudden ocean had appeared near where the bite marks were, and she let out a ragged gasp. None of this should be turning her on but seeing the marks in such intimate places and the amount of work that was clearly put in them... Regina nearly whimpered as her clit started throbbing.

The brunette tried to breathe through it, willing her body to calm down and the throbbing to subdue. But there was no use because with every move of her body, the throbbing got worse and worse, to the point where it was nearly painful.

In final desperate act, Regina jumped in the shower and turned the water on cold. As cold as it could go. But instead of being able to stay under the icy stream, she had to jump out of the way and press her back against the shower wall.

Now her heart was beating fast, she was slightly shivering but her original problem was still there. Her body was pumping so much adrenaline that the only thing she could do anymore, was to slip her hand downwards and start rubbing.

Regina was no stranger to taking the matters into her own hands, but it had never been like this. She was on the verge of coming after few rough circles, but she was determined to make this as enjoyable as possible. Her legs were shaking violently, begging her to give up and come, but Regina wasn't going to be that easy, not even for herself.

She pushed in with two fingers, surprised how easily they slipped in as she started steadily to pump in and out of herself. Regina was panting, regaining the warmth she had lost as she slipped a third finger inside.

It felt so good, like nothing she had ever experienced before. Her other hand attached itself to the less bruised breasts and twisted it roughly. It almost made Regina scream out when the delicious pain shot right where her clit was.

She was so close.

Pulling her fingers out she concentrated back on her clit, rubbing faster and faster. She was panting out of control, being unable to even hold her eyes open. That was when she saw a flash. It only lasted a second, but in that second, she saw someone very familiar. In a situation she didn't remember but definitely felt.

"Emma." Regina gasped before her body completely let go and the orgasm overtook her.

That was when her legs decided they weren't going to support her anymore either as she slid down the wall and sat on the floor. The water that had just felt too cold was actually feeling rather perfect right now as Regina sat under the spray, with her body still shaking and her eyes directed at the ceiling.

Somehow it was always about her.

Emma.

Chapter Text

Regina had promised she would meet Henry for breakfast and she was there well before her son came down. She had done very little sleeping after her shower, trying to think about anything else except for Emma, but it had been the most fruitless attempt of her life.

It seemed that once she started figuring out nice things about Emma, she had no idea how to stop. Her brain, who was usually the one controlling the brake pedal had apparently chose to ignore it for the time being. Something which Regina appreciated and was extremely mad about.

Regina took out her frustration in cooking as she prepared every kind of breakfast food she had a possibility to do. When Henry walked in the entire counter was overflowing with options and he dived in before he even wished Regina good morning.

The brunette didn't mind, she was just happy her son was in a good mood and that she was able to feed him this morning as she failed miserably last night.

"Good morning Henry." Regina smiled, taking a sip of her coffee.

"Morning, mom." Henry said after swallowing some bacon. "How are you feeling?"

Regina thought that over. She was feeling better than yesterday, having some clarity over certain things definitely helped but she still didn't know what she wanted to do with the information she had discovered. She was a mess, but her son didn't have to know that exactly.

"I feel better. I'm really tired, but I think things are clearing up." Regina smiled from behind her coffee cup. Henry seemed to be happy with her response as he dived back into his breakfast.

Regina planned on going in the office a little bit later today, so she saw Henry off to school, before laying down on the couch. She wanted to talk to her sister, had been since yesterday but she didn't know what she wanted to say. Her sister had a massive protective streak going on and Regina didn't want their talk to end with Zelena throwing anyone against the wall again.

While contemplating what to do, her phone vibrated in her pocket. She pulled it out only for a smile to pull at her lips. It was something that happened every day.

I love you. Good morning.

Emma's good morning messages arrived during a wide range of time in the mornings. It was clear that the other woman woke up in irregular times, but Regina knew how it was with a baby. Sometimes they slept and sometimes they barely even closed their eyes. Today's message came in a bit later, so at least Emma got some rest.

With her mood definitely improved, Regina braved to call her sister. She hadn't heard her voice for a couple of days and as per usual, Zelena answered almost immediately.

"Hey, Regina."

"Hey, sis! Listen, I-"

"I'm sorry."

That left Regina confused more than anything else. What was Zelena talking about? Before she had a chance to ask however, her sister shot into a rant.

"I should have told you about your daughter, I should have explained everything like it happened, but you were so upset, and I didn't know what to do. And I hate that you had to see the whole ordeal with Emma, it wasn't my intention to go so far and I-"

"Stop."

It was enough for Zelena to quiet down. Regina's tone had been firm, leaving no room for arguing. The red head knew better than anyone not to annoy her sister and right now poking the bear was most unwise.

"Is there a way to reverse it?" Regina whispered, already knowing the answer but wanting to hear someone else’s confirmation. Her next move was going to be determined by Zelena's answer. She had a sudden urge to hang up the phone, pretend that nothing happened, but before she could do that, Zelena spoke.

"I have looked everywhere..." Zelena's voice cracked. "I'm so sorry, Regina, but I don't think there is anything we can do."

Closing her eyes, Regina begged her body to hold in the tears. She had been crying a lot in the past few days and it was starting to take its toll. Her lungs hurt, her heart hurt and just like that she was bone tired once more.

"Regina, are you there?" Zelena asked when it had been quiet for a long while. She knew Regina must have already known the answer before asking but having someone else say it often made it more real and you had to process it all over again.

"Yes, I'm here." Regina sighed, sitting up on the couch. "I have one more question."

"Yes?"

"Was there a misunderstanding?"

Now it was Zelena's turn to quiet down. Yes, there had been a misunderstanding, but she had no idea how well her sister would handle that piece of information. It was one thing to accept you had forgotten your true love and your baby daughter, but over something that could have been solved with talking? Zelena knew Regina well enough to know this was going to be really hard on her, but she had promised to tell her everything now as she had hidden Hope from her before.

"Yes."

Regina had known that already as well, but hearing her sister confirm the horrible truth was shattering. Her heart had felt heavy for days, even when she had been happy, but right now it felt like someone stabbed it with something. It hurt, and she was yet again on the verge of tears.

It was clear Zelena heard the gasping breaths as she worried. "Regina? Are you okay? Do you need me to come by?"

"No." Regina breathed out. "I'm alright. I have to go to work."

"Work? But Regina, they will survive a day-"

"I need to work. I cannot just stay home and think about this."

Zelena wasn't pleased but she accepted her sisters reasoning. Both of them knew what it was like to be plagued with something even when the last thing you wanted to do was to remember any of it. Sometimes distraction was a better, healthier option to cope.

Right after the call was over, Regina surged out of the door. She had a busy day ahead and she was more than happy to dive head first into it.

Which she did.

 


 

For the next couple of days no one really saw Regina. She was locked up tight in her office, only coming out or allowing anyone in if it was about the building or if something was actually wrong.

Being the mayor was something that many people in town deemed as hard. Regina didn't see it that way. Even when she had been miserable for years under the curse after first casting it, she had found comfort in learning new skills to help their town bloom. She had had no idea about any of official aspects of being the mayor but the personality traits she possessed helped her to acquire those quickly.

She enjoyed the paperwork and the decision making. She knew what was best for her people and she always found a way to do what was necessary. So right now, she was practically living in her office, Henry having informed her that his other mother would like to have him over for a while. Regina had felt a bang of regret in her previous actions as she quickly confirmed that it would be alright with her.

As there was no one waiting for her at home, she felt it was okay to work for as long as she needed to. During a day she was always worried there wasn't enough for her to do to keep her busy but that must have been some sort of sign for Marie who always seemed to carry more stuff in only seconds after.

It was almost Thursday evening when Regina closed the last file from the pile Marie had delivered to her before leaving for the day. That had been three hours ago. For the first time that day Regina felt hungry and she went over the possibilities for food.

She was graving pizza more than anything right now, but there was no way she would be going to Granny's for that. She was done with being stared like she was a zoo animal, granted the people were starting to lose interest as this had been going on for a while now.

When Granny had hired more people, she had extended her services to also deliver if asked. Regina was grateful for this update as she called in only a minute later. Granny promised that the pizza would be at downstairs door in half an hour.

While waiting, Regina cleaned up her desk just enough to fit a pizza box. She was feeling lazy, so she instead of walking all the way to the conference table she just dropped the files on the floor next to her desk. She rolled around in her chair, feeling comfortably tired and content.

Regina had gotten through some very important paperwork today, she had been on the phone with the Sheriff Station as Charming had found someone to be his Deputy. Regina was more than happy he had asked Mulan, because her friend truly needed something to do and the town would benefit from Mulan's skills and extensive experience.

Yeah, just a busy, busy day, just doing work and not thinking about Emma. Nope. Not at all. Because why would she be thinking about Emma? No reason. Simply none.

Regina groaned into her hands and laid her forehead on the table. The blonde was on her mind constantly and she was having mixed signals as to why that was. There was nothing in her body that said 'love' when thinking of Emma, but did you really think about another person this much without being in love with them?

The brunette was sure she was just stuck on what other people were saying. That's why her head couldn't let go of Emma Swan. Yes, that must be the reason.

Half an hour had run by faster than she knew because the downstairs doorbell was ringing to alert her that her pizza had arrived. It was time to eat and then get back to work.

It wasn't until the next morning when Regina woke up leaning on the now empty pizza box that she realized that maybe it was time to stop for a second. She pushed her things aside and fluffed her hair to look less like she slept in her office.

Walking out she met stunned Marie by the elevator, telling her to cancel everything for today as it was time for her to go home to get some actual rest.

Regina jumped into her Mercedes before letting out a massive yawn. It was Friday and the weekend was ahead. She had to come up with something to do, but right now what she wanted more than anything was to go home.

The drive to Mifflin didn't take long and she had her car parked and the keys in hand in no time. She was well aware that there was no one home today, so she took her time drinking her morning coffee before making her way upstairs to take a bath.

It all felt normal, like things were much like they had been before. She was enjoying herself as she played some music while relaxing her aching muscles in a hot bath. She even took out her bath salts that she hadn't had a chance to use in the longest of times. One of the best things to come out of her Dark Curse was to be introduced to indoor plumbing. There was nothing quite like it.

It was midafternoon when Regina emerged from her room, washed, relaxed and awake. She had taken another nap, in her own bed this time. Making her way downstairs, she made her way to her phone which she had deliberately left there so no one would bother her.

And no one had.

Regina's eyebrows grew closer together as she stared at the empty lock screen. There were no missed calls, no text messages, nothing. She glanced at the clock that was hanging in her kitchen. 3:19 pm.

No messages.

Regina had not been prepared for this. She had gotten so used to being greeted with sweetness every morning that she hadn't counted on the fact that Emma couldn't just keep sending her messages forever, especially since she never responded. But right now, she was feeling... heartbroken that she didn't find a message telling her she was loved by the blonde.

She had to sit down. This was definitely not something she had been prepared for. She wasn't meant to feel this way, she was supposed to shrug it off and continue her day, not sit down and feel sad about it. What was wrong with her?

Regina felt angry. Not towards Emma, or the world but towards herself. She had let this happen. And she had to do something to fix it.

She picked up her phone and started typing. She pressed send before she had time to second guess herself. Only then did she read the message and she could feel blush rising. No wonder she had taken a forgetting potion if going off the rails when it came to Emma Swan was so easy.

It seems like you are no longer interested in anything resembling of pursuing me. I deem that wise as there is no reason for you to. There are still some things we need to discuss so I expect you to be here tonight. 7 pm, sharp. Don't be late.

Regina buried her face into her hands. For fucks sake.

 


 

Emma hadn’t responded to the message, but Regina knew the blonde would show. She always did, even when she wasn't needed. That statement alone told a lot about Emma.

Regina had debated for a long while should she make something for dinner because that was dinnertime in the house. And the more she thought the less she knew. Would Emma be showing up alone or would she bring Henry and the baby as well? What if the baby wanted something to eat? Would Emma be bringing something for her? Should she make something high and fancy or should she aim for something simple?

Questions just kept piling up and she knew answers to none of them. One phone call would have solved her problem but there was no way she would be calling Emma as the blonde hadn't answered her message.

She ended up making lasagna because she knew that Emma enjoyed that, and if Henry was there he would have the chance to try his mother’s famous lasagna. She also prepared something for the baby to eat, taking a wild guess at her age as she had only ever seen the baby briefly and it was hard to guess from a picture.

7 pm was arriving way faster than Regina had expected. She had gone to change into something a bit better and she opted for black jeans and black top. Going through her closet Regina also tried to find a pair of heels to wear. They had always made her feel more grounded and powerful and she definitely needed that tonight.

Not there was nothing more to do than wait. The wait was only less than 20 minutes but to Regina it felt like eternity. She had spent the entire day trying to figure out what she wanted to say to Emma and what kind of outcome she was looking for in this conversation. She had questions and she expected to get an answer.

Regina loathed the possibility to having to be vulnerable in front of Emma, but there was no plan that didn't involve delving into topics that would make her tear up. Mainly they were to do with their daughter that she still knew next to nothing about.

6:53pm

Regina was listening closely because there was no mistaking the noise that Emma's yellow bug made when one tried to break with it but she couldn't really hear anything. Maybe it had to do with the amazing build of her house or the heavy beating of her heart that pumped in her ears.

6:57 pm.

Regina was starting to be sure that Emma wouldn't show because the blonde knew better than to be late when she specifically told her to be on time. She had been on Emma's case about being late before, to the point they actually had a real fight about it.

7:00pm

Regina got up from the step on her stairs and headed towards the kitchen. She tried to hide the fact that she was devastated, but what made her nearly fall down on her heels was the ringing of the doorbell.

Without thinking she nearly ran to the door and threw it open. And there she was.

Standing in front of her was the blonde woman who was somehow the mother of all of her children, dressed in a black dress that hugged every single curve on the woman's body. She had her hair braided into a tasteful braid that came to rest on her chest. In short, she looked breathtaking.

Regina had no idea how long she stood there before Emma cleared her throat. Regina's eyes shot up to meet the ones of the other woman, and what she found... was smugness. The brunette huffed, trying to hide the blush that was rising to her high cheeks.

"I didn't think you would be on time." she had to say something snarky to take the focus out of herself and the best way she knew how was to be slightly evil.

But instead Emma laughed whole heartedly. "When a beautiful woman tells you to be on time, you show up exactly when you are told to." Emma truly had the most irresistible way to wink.

The blush wasn't going anywhere, in fact Regina was sure she was getting redder and redder. She opted not to say anything but moved aside so Emma could enter the house. Regina had paid attention to the way Emma was dressed but only when she moved did the older woman zero her eyes to the heels the blonde was sporting.

For someone as clumsy as Emma, walking even a meter in heels was a accomplishment, but it seemed that the blonde was very much in her element as she walked around the foyer, waiting for Regina to gather herself.

But the blonde wasn't blind either.

"It's like de ja vu." she said, looking Regina up and down.

Regina looked down, feeling like she was undressed compared to Emma who had shown up in a freaking dress and entire get up. But she wanted to know what Emma meant with that, since it seemed nearly impossible for the blonde to take her eyes off of her.

"What do you mean?" the curiosity got the best of Regina.

"You wore the exact same outfit when I came here to tell you about us being yours." Emma had made a promise to herself. She wasn't going to soften the truth or lie to Regina if and when she asked a question. Not even to save the older woman’s feelings, because if it was her in Regina's situation, she'd want to know absolutely everything there was to know.

For the second time in five minutes Regina was left speechless. She hoped that later on she wouldn't be quite as silent and shocked every time there was new information thrown her way.

Choosing to ignore Emma's statement for now, Regina decided to take the conversation to a direction that was familiar to both of them. "I made dinner."

As expected the blonde's eyes went wide and there was the very special shine that everyone with the Swan blood got when there was food. Wanting to stay on that common ground, Regina led Emma into the kitchen where she had set two places to eat on the kitchen island. She felt like maybe eating there was more comfortable than eating in the massive dining room.

Pulling out the lasagna from the oven, Regina cut a generous piece for Emma and set it in front of her. Emma knew her manners and waited until Regina was sitting next to her before starting her dinner.

Regina could feel goosebumps rising as she heard Emma moan around her food. She had seen and heard Emma enjoy food before but this time she was shaken to her core, quite literally. Trying not to look was harder each time Emma moved food towards her mouth, and Regina had to concentrate on putting food on her fork and delivering it safely into her mouth.

"So, where are the kids tonight?" Regina asked like it was any normal dinner with a... friend. Yes, let’s go with a friend.

Emma worked hard to chew and swallow before answering. "They are at my parents. Mom and dad were more than happy to take them, especially since they haven't really gotten to spend proper time with either of them since everyone returned."

Regina nodded as her answer and continued her eating. It was when Emma had eaten 3/4 of her piece of lasagna did she put her knife and fork down as she turned fully towards Regina.

"Okay, so you have questions. Let's hear them."

Her tone wasn't unkind, more amused than anything. Regina shot her an evil look, before putting her utensils down as well. She didn't want to do worse than Emma, so she turned towards the blonde and exhaled.

"I do have questions, but I'm unsure where to start." she looked down at her hands shyly.

"Well, that’s one for the books."

That made Regina look at Emma, her brows furrowed because she did feel slightly offended. She was also intrigued as the other woman's tone wasn't unkind or judging, it was more like she was just stating a fact.

Emma elaborated only a second after, not waiting for the other woman to question her. "I mean, you are madam mayorand during all the years I have known you, I have never seen you anything but ready to talk so this is truly the first for the books."

Regina was secretly touched by the insightfulness of Emma's explanation, but to put up a front she huffed and crossed her arms over her chest. "Fine then. Did we have family dinner at some point?"

"Oh yeah, there was a massive dinner, and everyone was there. You prepared so much food, so that everyone had something to eat." Emma thought back fondly, remembering the beautiful atmosphere.

"How long were we together?" Regina was still very fuzzy about the timeline of it all, especially since there had been so many years that she hadn't been in Storybrooke at all.

"Let's see." Emma leaned back on her chair. "We were together for a bit before I fucked things up and you left to help Henry. Then you were gone for... well, a long time. It took us time to figure out some stuff when you came back but we got together pretty fast. I guess we were 'officially' together just less than two weeks." Emma had to dig her brain because the timelines were fuzzy for her as well.

Regina accepted the answer, making a mental note on trying to figure it out later.

"And..." she swallowed thickly. "How old is our daughter?"

Emma smiled instantly at the mention of their daughter. "She is nine months old. Soon ten though. Time is going so fast."

Regina's mind was filled with images of baby Henry at that age and it was nearly too much for her to handle. She swallowed a couple of times before looking at Emma again who was studying her.

"What's her name?" Regina whispered, feeling the burn behind her eyes. She willed the tears to stay at bay though, because she wanted to hear this. She wanted to know what her daughter was called. Regina didn't even notice that at some point she had gone through all her doubts into acceptance: she had a daughter with Emma.

"Hope." Emma smiled, and that was when Regina crumbled. She pressed her face into her palms as sobs bubbled out of her. It was hurting so bad, just realizing that she had forgotten her own daughter by accident.

"Hey, hey." Emma leaned closer and pulled Regina into a hug. She wasn't sure was Regina going to be so happy about this but right now her true love was crying, and she wouldn't just idly sit by. "It's okay. It's going to be okay."

"How can it be okay, Emma?" Regina cried into the blonde's shoulder. "How will it ever be okay that I made a stupid decision and forgot my own child?" there was a fresh set of tears flowing down Emma's shoulder.

Emma knew that there was nothing she could say right now to calm Regina down. She just had to let it all come out, just suffer through it before they could move forward. It took Regina a long time to compose herself enough to pull back from Emma's arms. Tapping her eyes with the napkins she had set out for them, she breathed raggedly for a minute.

"Do you still want to continue? Because we can do this some other time-" Emma was worried this was going to be too much for the older woman. She hadn't seen Regina for days, but Henry had been sending her reports about how his mother was doing.

"No, no, I want to do this now. I just... need a minute." Regina smiled weakly before straightening her back. It was like she was channeling some of the old regalness she used to hold when they had first met before she turned to look at Emma again.

"If you are sure." Emma expected a confirming nod before she settled to listen again.

"Can you tell me... how you chose her name?"

Now it was Emma's turn to look down and try to keep her emotions at bay.

"I found out she was yours only when she was born. She looked exactly like you from the moment she was out in the world and it was as clear as day that she was your daughter as well as my own. But at that point you were already gone. I had no idea where you were and there was no way of contacting you. I missed you, I missed you so much, but the only thing left from you, was her. I was hoping you'd return, and I could make it right. And when we were asked what we wanted to name her, I knew." Emma breathed in and out for a while, battling with her emotions.

"You knew?" Regina was leaning forward, swept in the story.

"I was thinking back to a moment quite many years ago. It was matter of life and death just like it always was, and I didn't know what to do. But you did, just like you always do. You pulled me aside and told me there was a way to get out of it, that when the time came I'd know what to do. You told me there was something I taught you all those years ago. Do you remember?" Emma took her down memory lane before asking her question quietly.

"That night, on Main Street. When you were trying to defeat Giddeon and-" Regina remembered the situation better than she wanted to admit. It had been terrifying, and she couldn't deny the worry that had nearly beat out of her chest when Emma was standing there, ready to fight Giddeon. "You told me what hope was. When despite what everyone told you, you didn't give up on me."

Emma nodded. "And hope was something I needed, because I had to believe that eventually you'd find your way back to us. Hope is what our family is built on. Because you also taught it to me in return. It just all felt so fitting, so that's how our Hope became Hope."

Regina felt truly touched about the choice of name Emma had blessed their daughter with because it was true. Hope was all they needed, had ever needed. Regina had been too blind to see it when she had been causing pain and destruction, but eventually she had grown and learned. She now knew the importance of it, otherwise she wouldn't have survived all those years apart from Emma.

"Emma? How did we fall in love?"

"Gradually. I think there has always been so much chemistry between us, but on top of that there were million other things going on, so it took us literal years before neither of us did anything about it or made a move to even explore it. You have always been one of the realest, constant things in my life and I don't know really... Falling in love with you was just so easy. You are my best friend, Regina." it was hard for the blonde to find the right way to put it, because the things she was feeling for the brunette couldn't be put in words.

Regina wanted to respond to those feelings, she wanted to connect with Emma the way the blonde deserved. She wanted to see Emma smile. Regina was an adult enough to admit that the previous feelings of annoyance and dislike were long gone, but she still wasn't where Emma was. But she wanted to remember so badly.

"You don't have to say anything, Regina." Emma smiled sadly. "I know you cannot remember, and I don't want you to try to feel things for me just because you know I'm feeling them for you. I'm not exactly sure what's going to happen now, I mean, we got kids." there was a flash of sadness in Emma's eyes that she tried to quickly mask with a smile. "We will figure something out though."

A new, more intense wave of guilt washed over Regina. She had no idea what had been going on in her own mind when she had taken that potion. As someone who had been studying magic for years, one would have thought she was going to be smarter. But she better than anyone knew, that desperate people were willing to do anything.

"I'm sorry, Emma." Regina whispered, reaching for the blonde's hand. Intertwining their fingers happened accidentally but it felt so natural. "I'm sorry I got us into this mess. None of this would have happened if I hadn't taken that potion."

"How much do you know about what happened?" Emma cocked her head a slight bit and Regina thought she looked absolutely adorable. Almost like a puppy.

 "I only know what Zelena was screaming to you about and Henry told me there had been some sort of misunderstanding on my part." Regina once again felt bad for even asking Henry about anything. She never wanted her son to have to worry about her like that.

"There was a misunderstanding." Emma informed her regretfully. "You walked in on me and Hook kissing. He came by to tell me he was leaving Storybrooke for good and we said goodbye. You walked in on the wrong second and me leaving you for Hook had been one of your biggest fears." Emma sighed. "I don't blame you for being upset or even reacting the way you did. It was not your fault in any way and I feel like I am to be blamed for this."

"Emma, no." Regina had to get up from her chair, so she could stand directly in front of Emma, unconsciously pressing closer. "I don't know how I felt before I drank the potion but forgetting isn't the way to handle it, I know that much. I don't want you to think it was your fault because it wasn't. It was just... unfortunate."

Emma was looking directly into her eyes before whispering. "I love you, you know."

Regina gave her a sad smile. "I know..." then she swallowed thickly. "I want to love you too."

Emma laughed wetly and pulled Regina into a hug, wrapping her arms around the brunette’s neck. The brunette took the last missing steps to stand between Emma's legs as she wrapped her arms around Emma's waist. It was intimate, it was warm and utterly perfect. Regina wanted to cry because now that she was past her denial she realized just how easy falling in love with Emma must have been. Maybe she could fall again.

She wanted to fall again.

"Will you wait for me to get there?" she was falling apart but Emma was holding her up.

"I will wait forever if I have to." Emma whispered into her ear, holding her tighter still.

And there in Emma's arms Regina knew she had never felt safer.

Chapter Text

Weeks went by and Regina was getting the hang of the new family life she was living. She and Emma had agreed that no matter what was going on between them or more so with Regina's memory loss, it was important to provide their children with normal as possible routine. So, Emma and Hope moved back to the mansion, but this time instead of doing everything with magic, Emma and Regina decided that it would be good bonding for them to do the nursery by hand.

They had gone to the store and argued like an old married couple about what kind of paint they were going to buy, and they soon agreed on two ones that they planned to use. Other was soft white and the other was pastel yellow.

Painting of the nursery had turned into a massive bickering before Regina poked Emma with a paint brush. The blonde didn't believe her eyes, but she was fast to retaliate. Eventually they managed to finish with a decent result. Regina had also been in touch with Marco about him possibly making Hope a new crib and a new bookshelf. The old man had been excited about the idea and had promised to get right to it.

In the meantime, both Emma and Hope were sleeping downstairs, because both women had felt it to be a better place for them to start.

While out of the house, Regina was still shoulder deep in organizing things to be comfortable for the new arrivals. It had turned out that Mulan was indeed a perfect fit to their Sheriff's department as she put her many skills in good use. They had also been a great help to Regina in reaching the remote corners of their shared town, because in the old lands being in touch was nearly impossible. They were doing their best to set up phones, but it was slow.

The thing Regina had been most excited about had been meeting her daughter for the very first time. She was so beautiful and brilliant, and Regina could happily spend hours just watching her explore and play.

Regina felt happy. She loved the life she was living with her little family now and coming home every night had never felt quite like this.

It had been nearly a month since Regina and Emma had dinner, and Hope had made it into her own room. Emma was still sleeping downstairs but during evenings she often found her way to Regina's room when the kids went to bed, just to seek company in the big house. Today was one of those nights.

Emma had just freshly showered downstairs and she had picked an apple on her way upstairs. She walked into the bedroom and fell down on the armchairthat was by the window. She was munching on her apple happily, looking around the room like it was the first time she had ever been there. New pictures had been added next to the ones of baby Henry, some of them from a time Regina didn't remember and some of them completely new ones.

Emma's favorite was the selfie Henry had taken of all of them in Hope's new nursery. Hope was waving her little fists, securely placed on Regina's hip, while Emma had wrapped her arm around Regina's shoulder. They were all smiling brightly, the kind of real smiles when things happen in a moment.

"Is there something you need, Emma?" Regina didn't even bother raising her eyes from the book she was reading. There were several ones spread around the bed and Emma had gotten a good enough peek to know for sure they were spell books. They often were.

"I was bored." Emma said and bit loudly into her apple. "Do you need help?" she said, turning her head to be able to read even a bit of what Regina was currently working on.

"I know I have taught you magic, but I doubt you can read as well as I can, no offense." Regina looked up apologetically. "I'm trying to figure out something."

Emma knew that Regina was spending a lot of her spare time trying to find a way to reverse the effects of the potion. Emma had told her early on that when they weren't talking, her and Zelena had buried the hatched in order to go through every single spell book in Storybrooke. They hadn't been able to find anything useful, not even close. Regina had still insisted on going through them herself as well.

Emma understood that well, because even when it wasn't looking good the brunette felt she was at least trying. And sometimes just trying was enough.

"What are you trying to figure out?" Emma asked, tucking her legs under her bum. "I mean I assume it's about the potion, but were you wondering anything specific?"

Regina pushed her glasses higher up on her nose and Emma couldn't deny how hot she looked right now. "I want to find out why I forgot Hope as well. I mean, I assume I drank the potion to forget you and our love, but why did it erase the entire existence of Hope as well."

"I feel like the answer is in your question." Emma though, munching more of her apple. "I mean, maybe you are looking from the wrong place."

"What do you mean?" Regina was curious about Emma's point of view in this. She herself had been staring at these books for so long, but she couldn't figure out what was it that she was missing in this riddle.

"What I mean is, that Hops is a product of true love, ourtrue love. You drank the potion to forget our love and she is the direct product of that. So maybe the potion somehow made you forget her as well as she is linked to it... or something?" Emma faltered a bit under Regina's intense gaze.

The brown eyes were piercing on a good day but right now Emma was sure they drilled deep into her soul. It was making the blonde feel a bit uneasy as she started to get defensive. "What?"

"You." Regina breathed out deeply like she had been holding it in for god knows how long. "Are a genius!" Regina jumped down from the bed so that the book bounced a little and barreled to hug the blonde. In her surprise and attempt to balance them both, Emma's hands flew to Regina's hips, dropping the half-eaten apple in the process.

"I have been looking for answers so hard that I didn't even realize how simple it all actually was! It makes perfect sense! I should have asked you way sooner!" Regina sounded so happy, even when it was slightly muffled by Emma's hair. "I could just kiss you right now!"

There was an awkward silence and Regina felt too embarrassed to pull back, so instead she hugged Emma tighter. The blonde knew it had been a slip up but god how she missed kissing Regina. It was a complicated situation however and she would wait until Regina was ready.

"I'm sorry." Regina whispered. "I didn't mean to make it so awkward."

"It's okay." Emma hugged the other woman closer still. "You didn't mean it."

"What if I did?" Regina whispered shakily. Kissing Emma had been something she had wanted to do for weeks now. Whenever the blonde was laughing or talking, Regina could only concentrate on those lips and how amazing it must be to have them pressed against her own.

When Emma and Hope had moved in, things had already started to change between them, shift almost. She had been able to acknowledge that she wanted to be around Emma and that she enjoyed her company but over the weeks her feelings had been increasing rapidly in tandem with the beat of her heart.

She didn't feel the pressure anymore like she did when she first found out she had forgotten things. Her heart beat steadily now, speeding up when was appropriate and slowing down slightly when she went to bed. It felt healed, like it had never been touched with sorrow and pain. It was a mystery how magic sometimes worked, because sometimes even when things didn't work the way they were supposed to, there was still a silver lining there somewhere if you were willing to look.

"Regina." Emma pushed her back enough, so she could look into the brown eyes. "I don't want you to rush yourself. I want you to want it, not just do it to fit our situation. I want you to kiss me because you love me." Emma's lips turned downwards. "And I know you don't."

But she did. She did love Emma.

Regina pressed her forehead against Emma's before closing her eyes. "I'm sorry." she whispered again because she had no idea what else to say. She loved Emma but saying it right now would be insulting. Instead she whispered out her secret wish, something she wanted to ask Emma every time the blonde came into her room during the evenings. "Will you stay with me tonight?"

Emma didn't say anything, but Regina could feel her nod against her head. Emma waved her hand behind Regina, making the books mark their pages before flying into a pile next to the nightstand. The covers were pulled back and Emma picked Regina up effortlessly. She laid the woman into the bed, taking off her glasses and placing them on the nightstand. Regina was looking up at the kind eyes of the blonde woman who she had just asked to stay the night in her room. She had never wanted to be physically near anyone like she did with Emma, but right now she was going to break if Emma wasn't going to be there.

"Give me a minute, I will go close everything downstairs and I still have to brush my teeth." Emma smirked, and Regina felt a bit better. She watched as the blonde disappeared into the hallway and now she just had to wait.

Regina didn't know how or when she was going to tell Emma she loved her. Things had picked up and she was alarmed how soon she had fallen. But it helped her understand how things must have worked before, because loving Emma was easy. Just what the blonde had said about her.

Emma was fast. She was soon back with her toothbrush and she disappeared into the master bathroom after quietly closing the bedroom door. Regina smiled when she heard Emma hum in the bathroom as she brushed her teeth.

"Incoming!" Emma mock whispered as she dived into the bed. The bounce that resulted nearly threw her out of the bed again and Regina was trying to muffle her laughter into her pillow. Emma poked her tongue out at her before settling comfortably on her side of the bed. They were sharing a duvet and they had their legs slightly touching each other, just barely but even that felt like heaven to Regina.

Laying on their sides they were facing each other. Regina was still smiling wide as the image of Emma nearly bouncing off her bed was playing on loop in her mind. Emma was smiling for other reasons because right now she was exactly where she was meant to be.

"Are you ready to sleep, Emma?" Regina whispered.

"I am but can I-" Emma didn't remember the last time she felt so nervous. "Can I hold you?"

"Please do." Regina breathed out, nearly shaking with excitement. She was ready to be held by Emma, she needed it.

Instead of spooning, Emma opened her arms and Regina quickly moved closer and buried herself in the blonde's arms. Emma's skin was soft and warm, and she smelled like shower gel. Her hold on Regina was strong, like she was afraid that if she didn't hold on the other woman might disappear. Regina wasn't complaining as she snuggled in as close as possible.

"Goodnight." Emma whispered into Regina's hair.

"Goodnight, darling." Regina whispered, content in listening Emma's heartbeat. Soon it started to slow down as the blonde's breathing evened out. Very soon after that there was a tiny little snore that indicated that Emma was asleep. Regina had hard time keeping her eyes open as well but before she fell asleep she pressed a kiss on Emma's chest.

"I do love you, you know."

Chapter Text

Upon waking up the next morning, Regina had to work hard to untangle herself from Emma's arms as the other woman was still holding on tightly. It was early, almost too early for anyone to be awake but Regina had woken up to being insanely hungry. Knowing how much breakfast was appreciated in this household, she made her way downstairs after peeking into the rooms of her children. Satisfied as they were both still asleep, she pulled out several items she would be needing to make the most epic breakfast ever.

While she was pouring the eggs on the pan, Emma walked in, yawning unnaturally. Regina had always found it rather amusing how much the younger woman could open her mouth while yawning. The blonde walked closer to lean her chin on Regina's shoulder as she peeked down to the pan. She had woken up alone and not liking that feeling at all, she had followed the sounds of cooking downstairs.

"Good morning." Emma yawned again.

Being sure the eggs were going to survive few moments without her, Regina turned around and wrapped her arms around Emma's neck before pressing a deep kiss on her pale lips. Only when the eggs were nearly jumping off the pan, did Regina release the stunned blonde in order to turn around and save their breakfast.

"Darling, what else do you want with your toast than eggs and bacon?" Regina hadn't noticed how Emma had barely moved from her position behind her but when she turned to repeat the question she nearly collided with her. "Emma, what's wrong?" she took a hold of her upper arms, giving the blonde a bit of a shake.

Emma opened her mouth a couple of times, just staring at Regina. When the brunette opened her mouth to repeat the question, Emma surged forward and pressed their lips together for a second, much more passionate kiss. Only when Regina's hands made it to Emma's ass, did the blonde stop and push the other woman away.

"Emma, what is going on with you today? Are you feeling alright?" Regina was getting whiplash from Emma's changing mood, but she still took a step closer to take her hands. "Please, talk to me."

"You kissed me." Emma whispered. "You kissed me."

Regina looked dumbfounded. "I often do kiss my girlfriend in the mornings, yes."

"Regina." now it was Emma's turn to grab Regina, this time from her cheeks. "You kissed me."

They just stood there, looking at each other for a minute before the brown eyes widened comically. She gasped, before huge tears started rolling down her cheeks. Emma pulled her forward, so their foreheads could rest against each other. The blonde couldn't hold in her tears either as they sobbed together.

"Emma, Emma, oh god." Regina wrapped her arms desperately around the blonde, crying freely into her neck. Letting the other woman go was unimaginable as she just wanted to be as close as possible. Emma didn't seem to mind as she wrapped her arms around Regina's waist to slightly lift her off the ground.

"I'm sorry, Regina, I'm sorry about what you saw and that I didn't catch up with you faster. I'm sorry for everything." Emma was sobbing, barely being able to speak but she tried bravely because there were things she wanted the brunette to know right this instant. "I love you, I love you so much."

"Shut up." Regina hiccupped. "It was my fault. I was an idiot and didn't think about anything when I drank that potion. I should have listened to you and not just disappear." Regina was doing only slightly better with talking but only slightly. It was a lot of sniffling and tears mixed in with the rest of it.

"You are back." Emma whispered over and over again, before she laughed. It was one of those laughs that resonated from deep within your belly and that rumbled out shaking your entire body. It was infectious as Regina couldn't help but to join her.

They stood there, in the middle of the kitchen, holding onto each other for dear life all the while laughing. That was when the baby monitor on the table rattled alive, alerting that their little princess was indeed wide awake.

"Hope." Regina gasped. "I have to see Hope." she was almost half way out of the room when Emma took her hand to stop her.

"Breathe and calm down." Emma instructed, much calmer herself now. The blinding smile was something that could not be wiped from her face anytime soon. They breathed in and out together for a while before making their way upstairs together. Emma pushed the door open for Regina who was by the crib with two massive leaps.

"Hope." Regina was crying again. "I'm so sorry, my love. I didn't mean for any of this to happen." the small baby was babbling at her mother, all the while tapping her cheeks where the tears seemed to have made a permanent river. Regina pressed kisses against the little hands while holding her daughter securely against her.

Emma joined them as she wrapped her arms around the pair, kissing both of their cheeks. They changed and redressed their little girl for breakfast before Emma took Hope downstairs as Regina woke Henry with the good news.

The breakfast that day was the most joyous occasion since the family dinner all those months ago. There was laughter, there was more stories and memories. Regina felt a bit odd for having two very different set of memories about who she was before the potion and who she had been during it.

Emma took it upon herself to share the good news with their family and before the breakfast fully over, Zelena had materialized in their kitchen, with her hair up on a messy bun and her emerald green bathrobe only half tied. The red head had run to hug her sister, both of them crying freely, relieved that this was finally over and that the outcome had been better than neither of them even dared to hope.

Not long after that did Snow and Charming barge through the door. Snow was openly sobbing when she pulled Regina into her arms and Charming was trying his hardest to keep it together. It was an emotional morning, and even though everyone had places to be as it was a week day it was hard for the family to separate.

Eventually Snow headed to work, taking Henry with her as they were going the same place anyway. Charming opted for a morning walk to the station, promising to stop at the Town Hall to let Marie know what had happened and that the Mayor would not be coming in today. Zelena didn't have anywhere to be but eventually when she calmed down, she hugged her sister one more time before disappearing in a green smoke.

Wanting to just be together, they gathered Hope into their arms and made their way upstairs to their bedroom. They laid their precious daughter in between them and pulled up the covers. Even when Hope had been awake only for couple of hours, it had been so charged she was already exhausted.

Regina watched as Hope's breathing evened out and she closed her eyes. Emma was clearly watching the same thing because as soon as Hope fell asleep she whispered. "What are you thinking?"

"I'm thinking of how lucky I am right now and how little everything else matters." Regina met her true loves eyes. "Even though it wasn't planned, the potion made me see everything differently. Our family is what matters and there is no reason to dwell in the past."

"I'm just happy you are back." Emma took a hold of Regina's hand under the duvet. "Do you know what happened?"

"I fell in love with you." Regina smiled, thinking back how the blonde had held her so tightly like she was ready to protect her from everything. "Again."

"Did you kiss me?" Emma smiled warmly.

"Right there." Regina reached over their sleeping baby to press her palm against Emma's chest. "Where your heart is. Where you keep your feelings, your secrets and us, your family. You are something remarkable Emma Swan. You are the reason we made it through this, because you were patient with me, because you gave me what I needed."

It didn't matter that there had once been heartache. It didn't matter that things hadn't always worked out for them. It didn't matter that they had both made mistakes. They had gone through almost an impossible situation and somehow, they survived.

Regina remembered, and they were free to love each other.

"Are you ready for our nap, my everything?" Emma winked.

"Yes, Miss Swan, I think I am."