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To Hear Her Voice In The Silence

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The next week was a rather busy one for Emma. She worked and minded her own business. She obsessed about the classical concert she was going to with Regina on Saturday and strongly considered to go out and buy a new dress for the occasion. This wasn’t a dinner on an Italian restaurant or a harvest festival. She was going to the theater and judging by the pictures she had seen on Google, this was a fancy place. Red velvet seats, an incredible scene and an amazing chandelier. Regina had stated that there wasn’t a dress code, but Emma couldn’t imagine to show up to the concert wearing her usual “jeans and t-shirt”-attire. Not even her pretty silk top was fancy enough. No, she was going to need something new. And so she was planning on visiting Steveston’s only mall one of these days. She had every intention of walking in there, buy a dress that would be good for the occasion, and then walk out again. Emma wasn’t particular fond of shopping. And especially not shopping for clothes. But this was a special occasion. This called for something a little extra.

The blonde felt good. It was possible that she had been wrong when she assumed that the intruder in her room was the beginning of something, because absolutely nothing had happened since. There had been no hang up calls, no mysterious cars following her on her way home from work.

All the locks had been changed. Everything was calm. Exactly what Emma liked. A calm normality. Hell, it almost felt like the break-in in her room had never happened. Emma knew from Graham that the local police had talked to Mary Margaret and David and warned them about contacting Emma. And it certainly seemed like it had helped. It seemed as though Mary Margaret finally had given up. Graham had recommended Emma to change her number just a precaution, but Emma wasn’t so sure she was gonna do that. There was no reason to do it now. She had received no strange phone calls. And besides, she didn’t want to have to remember a whole new number. That was so confusing. Emma was satisfied with how things were now.

And especially if things continued to be so quiet as they were now. She had already put the incident past her. Yes, Mary Margaret had come to “visit” her. She had come to snoop around in Emma’s business as usual. And so what? Emma literally care less. Giving Mary Margaret was just about the worse thing she could do, so Emma had decided to do the exact opposite. Not give her adoptive mother an ounce of attention. Emma was actually pretty sure that giving Mary Margaret attention had been her mistake when her adoptive mother had called from that unknown number. Emma had said her name and literally called her out. She had given her attention. And that had most likely been what had spurred Mary Margaret to “show up unannounced”.

But even though things had calmed down, Emma still had a feeling. It was probably just her paranoia talking, but she had a distinct feeling that something was missing from her room. She just couldn’t for the life of her figure out what it was. And it annoyed her that she was feeling this way, because she knew she was being paranoid. Nothing had been removed from her room. Everything was exactly as it always was. She would just have to stop being so paranoid. But that was a little difficult given the situation. Even though things had calmed down, Emma was still vigilant. And that was despite the fact that Eugenia’s neighborhood watch had actually become a reality. Every night, the streets of Steveston were patrolled by two different people. Emma had seen it herself. And she had been slightly amused when she had seen Leroy parade around with his axe, and Eugenia with her crossbow. Maybe they were overdoing it, but Emma actually liked it. She liked the fact that they cared so much about her even though they didn’t really know her yet. This had to be the very definition of being welcome with open arms. Emma wasn’t exactly used to that. She wasn’t used to feel like she belonged anywhere. This was all so completely new. And Emma was baffled at how seriously everyone took the neighborhood watch. She couldn’t quite get used to seeing people patrol the streets near Eugenia’s Inn, making sure that there were no strangers lurking there.

Emma was not worried about that, though. Mary Margaret was gone. She was nowhere near Steveston. The polices’ warning had helped. Obviously, both Mary Margaret and David had both denied having ever bothered Emma, but conveniently enough, there had been no suspicious actions since the police had had their little chat with Mary Margaret. If that wasn’t an indication, Emma didn’t know what was.

And boy, was she ever grateful for that! She was finally getting the peace and quiet she so desired. Maybe it was time to dissolve the neighborhood watch, but every time Emma had suggested it, Eugenia had just scoffed and said something about keeping the neighborhood watch one more week. Just as a precaution. Just to make sure.

Emma had quickly sensed that arguing with Eugenia Wolf was useless. When she had put her mind to something, nothing and no one could change it.

And another giving factor was that Ruby fully agreed with her. She was a hundredth percent on board with the neighborhood watch, and ever since Emma had revealed the truth about her adoptive mother, Ruby had been furious at Mary Margaret. Emma found it to be both sweet and a little funny. The blonde often used humor to cover her surprise. She hadn’t lived in Steveston for very long, and yet she was already treated like she had lived here for years. Not a single person had been upset by the fact that Emma had brought “trouble” to their quiet little town.

Emma was grateful that everything had gone back to normal. She felt as though she could breathe easier. She had stopped looking over her shoulder when she went out, and she didn’t check the rearview mirror when she drove to and from work. Unless she had to, obviously. Graham had firmly told her to call if something else happened, but nothing did happen. Everything was calm and peaceful.

This gave Emma the time to think about what really was important. Her upcoming date with Regina. Emma was pretty nervous about that. She had only been to a classical concert once in her life. Emma could remember it like had it been yesterday. She had been eight years old, sitting between Mary Margaret and David, and just as the violin piece had reached its climax, Emma had managed to drop the plastic cup of water she had been given during the intermission. The water had ended up everywhere, Emma had been terribly embarrassed. But no amount of embarrassment could measure up to how scared she had been when she had seen the look in Mary Margaret’s eyes. It had been scary, and especially because Mary Margaret had kept on smiling during the concert. Emma had almost thought that her adoptive mother maybe wouldn’t be angry at her. But things had shifted one hundredth and eighty degrees when they had arrived back home. Mary Margaret had spent most of an hour shaming Emma for what she had done, and how humiliated the pixie haired woman had felt when everyone had looked at her. She claimed that everyone at the concert now thought that Emma was a bad girl.

Emma had cried herself to sleep that night. Because she thought that she was a bad girl too.

So no, Emma definitely did not have the best memories about going to classical concerts, but she knew that the concert she was going to with Regina was going to be a far better experience than the one she’d had when she was eight years old. And she was looking forward to it. She was looking forward to spending another evening with Regina. In fact she couldn’t wait. And she was delighted that Regina had made the next move. Emma had been a little nervous about that the last time they departed. That brief flicker of anxiety in Regina’s eyes had made the blonde wonder, but now when Regina had asked her out, Emma wasn’t worried anymore. And especially not given how much they had been texting each other since their date. They were good. Everything was fine.

Except for the fact that she still didn’t have a dress for the occasion. That was definitely NOT good. In fact that was the only thing that could make Emma panic just a little bit. She had been putting the trip to Steveston’s mall off for as long as she could, but when Thursday rolled around, Emma couldn’t very well put it off anymore. She had to buy a dress. Something that was elegant without being overstated. It sounded very easy, but Emma damn well knew that it wasn’t.

She hated shopping for clothes, but this time she couldn’t just wing it. She wanted to look good for the concert.

 

So that Thursday Emma took advantage of the fact that she was getting off work early and swung buy the mall on her way back from Dragon Publishing.

The mall was a bit of a jungle, really. And terribly big. Emma had thought that this was just a cute little mall with maybe three or four stores, but boy, had she been wrong! This mall was enormous. Three floors full of stores. Even though she had barely stepped inside, Emma was already intimidated. She had not thought this through.

But there was nothing she could do about that now. She needed to find a dress for the concert, so she might as well get started right away.

The blonde reluctantly went over to the clothing department. Not wanting to waste any time, she immediately went over to the dresses and started to rifle her way through the racks. Emma pursed her lips slightly as she touched and compared the different dresses. There were many pretty ones, but not quite up Emma’s street. Some of them were a bit too much, many of them were a bit too expensive.

Emma was not exactly a millionaire. She sighed a little as she rifled her way through the next rack. Maybe she should have brought “back up”. In form of either Ruby or Elsa. Or Isabelle. Emma could definitely have needed a bit of guidance. She felt pathetically tempted to text Regina and ask exactly what she should wear for the concert. But then again, that would just have been TOO pathetic. Even for her. Emma was determined to do this herself. Without help from Regina or Isabelle or Ruby or Elsa. Of course she was capable of choosing a dress on her own. She was an adult, after all. And choosing a dress for a formal occasion was a part of adulthood.

“Nope,” Emma muttered to herself as she loosened her grip on a pale pink dress with details on the bodice and a matching belt. It wasn’t exactly her style. She would look like a schoolgirl from the 1950’s if she put that on. Not that there was anything wrong with the 1950 style, but it wasn’t for her. She was going to a fancy concert. She wasn’t planning on dancing jive. No, she would have to find another dress.

Emma grumbled a little under her breath. The next dress she stumbled on was a midnight blue thing made of silk. It was floor length and very pretty. And very expensive too. She couldn’t possibly afford that one, so she decided to spare herself the heartache it would be to try it on. Imagine if she loved it and it happened to fit her perfectly. Raiding her bank account was not on the schedule today. She had actually almost done that once. Raided her bank account. But not on clothes. On books. She had been stuck in her apartment with a stubborn influenza, and so she had ended up spending a little too much money on books that could keep her entertained while she was sick. She had been living of spaghetti with ketchup for a month afterwards, but it had been so worth it.

Emma wasn’t interested in making the same mistake twice, though, so she quickly moved away from the expensive dress. She would have to find something else.

And after a while she did. Emma immediately knew that she had hit the jackpot when she saw the grey sequin dress. It was sparkly without being over the top. It was pretty, but in a discreet, subtle manner. She quickly plucked it off the rack and took it into the dressing room with her. Emma hurried as she stripped out of her jeans and tanktop. She should have worn something that was easier to strip out of. She should have thought about the fact that she potentially could end up trying something on. Why couldn’t she be more practical when it came to such things?

Oh well. Now she was ready to try the dress on. Emma almost held her breath as she slipped the dress over her head. She dearly hoped it was gonna fit. She had already spent too long in this mall. She just wanted to go home and have a cup of cocoa.

And maybe she could do just that in a moment. Emma grinned a little when she looked at her reflection. The dress was pretty damn perfect. It had thin, delicate spaghetti straps. The neckline was low.
Definitely showed of a good amount of cleavage, but never in an indecent manner. Emma did a little spin in front of the mirror. No risk of tripping in the dress either. It was calf length and therefore perfectly safe. Emma grinned. Yep, this dress was definitely suitable. She looked good. Like a modern day and slightly more badass version of Cinderella. Emma suddenly realized that this dress was something that the Cinderella in her story would wear, and the blonde grinned at that. Funny coincidence.

Emma elegantly pulled the dress over her head, making sure that it didn’t end up on the floor like her jeans and tanktop had. She wouldn’t want her new dress to get dirty. That would be shame.

Once dressed and done up, Emma walked up to the counter and paid for her brand-new dress. This had been easier than what she had expected, and the smile she flashed the girl at the counter was full of relief and maybe just a tad silly. But Emma didn’t care. She had found her dress. Without cursing anyone out over it. That was a victory in Emma’s book, and she was one big smile as she left the mall.

Mission accomplished.

But her smile had faltered slightly by the time she had made it back to Eugenia’s Inn. Yeah, she might have bought a dress, but what about her har? Shit. Emma had literally no idea what to do with her hair. Should she put it up or leave it hanging down? She always had it hanging down. Wasn’t it a bit boring? A ponytail then? Nope. That was boring too. Shit. She would have to study hair tutorials. Great.

Emma grimaced and groaned under her breath. She absolutely sucked at hair tutorials.

 

But somehow, things managed to come nicely together. Kinda, anyway. When Saturday afternoon came, Emma was wearing her brand-new, sparkly dress. Somewhere between bobby pins all over the floor and too tight ponytails, Emma had given up on the hair tutorials and opted for letting her hair hang loose in soft curls around her face. Yes, maybe she always had her hair like that, but she had done something a little extra tonight. She had spruced things up a bit with some extra volume, and the result was actually pretty good. She had also sucked up to Elsa until the other blonde had given in and borrowed her a pair of silvery stilettos that matched the dress perfectly. It was miles away from her usual “jeans and t-shirt”-uniform, but Emma liked it. For once she had found a dress, she felt comfortable in. She looked put together.

Well, at least she did until she came to the ugly realization that she still hadn’t a proper coat. Which meant that she had no choice but to wear her red leather jacket over the pretty dress. Emma cursed a bit. That would definitely be an odd combination. But what other choices did she have? None.

Emma rolled her green eyes as she shrugged on the leather jacket. Then she blinked as she looked at the result. She supposed it could have been worse. She blinked again. The contact lens in her right eye was irritating her. Maybe she should bring her glasses. Just as a precaution. She hoped that she wouldn’t need them, but still, it was better to be safe than sorry. Emma reached within the top drawer in her dresser and found her glasses. As she stuffed them into her (borrowed) purse, she shivered slightly. There was that feeling again. That feeling of something being off about the room. The feeling of something missing from the room, even though Emma still couldn’t pinpoint what it was. It was most likely just her paranoia raging, but still, Emma couldn’t quite shake the feeling. She would have to work on that. Everything was fine. There was nothing to worry about.

Emma took another glance at herself in the mirror. She was undoubtedly ready to go now, and she took a few deep breaths. She was a little nervous about tonight. Exactly like she had been the previous time. And the time before that. It was a little ridiculous, really. Emma chuckled slightly and shook her head. She should know by now that everything would go wonderfully tonight. Exactly like the last time. And the time before that.

Emma spun around on her heels and left her room, inserting her brand-new key into the equally brand-new lock. Then she walked down the hallway. Her borrowed high heels clacked on the hardwood floor.

She found Ruby downstairs behind the counter. She was looking at her phone, grinning goofily, and Emma was willing to bet all her money that the waitress was texting Dorothy, the woman working at the hardware store. Ruby was undoubtedly smitten with her.

The clack-clack-clacking of her heels easily gave Emma away, and Ruby looked up from her phone. Her eyes darted over Emma, and then she mock-swooned as she grabbed onto the counter. “Be still my beating heart!”

“Very funny,” Emma said sardonically and rolled her eyes.

“You look amazing, Ems,” Ruby said without an ounce of sarcasm. “Regina will go nuts!”

Emma snorted quietly. Somehow, Ruby had managed to quench out of her that she was seeing Regina, and the brunette waitress found that to be incredibly interesting. More than once, Emma had asked her to mind her own business. In a funny, joking manner obviously, but Ruby had claimed that she didn’t know what that meant. And she was probably right. But her curiosity didn’t help much. Emma plain refused to answer any questions. The only thing she had told Ruby was that everything was very new. And Ruby had been forced to accept that.

“Excited?” Ruby asked and smiled.

“Yeah,” Emma said truthfully and brushed a stray curl behind her ear.

“A classical concert, was it?” Ruby inquired.

“That’s right,” Emma confirmed.

“Hmm. I’m more of a Rammstein girl myself,” Ruby grinned.

Emma laughed too. “I like Rammstein too, but I have a feeling that it might not be Regina’s thing.”

Ruby guffawed at that, and Emma couldn’t blame her. She really, really couldn’t imagine Regina at a Rammstein concert.

“You and Dorothy have plans tonight?” Emma asked.

“Yep. We’ve got a romantic neighborhood watch date,” Ruby replied and chuckled.

Emma opened her mouth, but Ruby was quick to silence her:

“Don’t even try and argue, Ems. The neighborhood watch will remain until Granny decides otherwise.”

Emma shook her head. “Don’t you think she’s exaggerating just a little?”

“Nah,” Ruby said and shrugged. “I actually don’t. Just accept that we care about you, okay?”

Emma laughed. “Okay then. I surrender.”

“Good,” Ruby said and grinned. “Now run along. You don’t want to be late for your date, do you?”

Emma quickly glanced at the clock behind Ruby and realized that she had to get a move on. “See you later.”

“See ya,” Ruby said, and her chuckle followed Emma as she more or less ran out of the restaurant and almost managed to trip. High heels were fucking dangerous!

 

**************************

 

It actually wasn’t that difficult to find the address Regina had given her. Emma had feared that she would get lost and end up driving around for hours and hours, but the drive there went so smoothly, and soon Emma found herself parked in front of a rather nice looking, two stored white house. The blonde whistled quietly. This was definitely an expensive neighborhood. Exactly as she had expected it to be. She had had some sort of inkling that Regina lived in a nicer area, and now her suspicion was confirmed.

Emma briefly considered if she should honk to let Regina know that she was there, but she quickly decided not to. It seemed like such a tacky thing to do. Emma settled for leaning back in her seat and switching on the radio while she waited. She wiggled her toes and then cringed slightly. It had been too long since she last had worn high heels, and she could already feel it in her feet. It was a good thing they were going to sit down for most of the evening. Emma wasn’t sure she could even handle a quick walk in these shoes. Not that the weather exactly invited to do so. It was pretty cold this evening, and
Emma had a feeling it would be even colder before the night was over.

The blonde glanced up at the house. She could see some light come from a room upstairs and she caught herself wondering if that was Regina’s bedroom before she firmly cold herself that that was a pretty creepy thing to think about.

Emma tapped the wheel lightly and tunelessly hummed along to the song playing in the radio. It wasn’t a particularly good song, but Emma was in an excellent mood. She couldn’t wait for tonight’s date. She was looking forward to listening to some classical music, and she was looking forward to spending the evening in the best possible company.

After a moment or so, Emma noted that the light had been switched off in the upstairs room. Maybe it was Regina’s bedroom. Maybe the light being switched off meant that Regina would be coming out of the house at any moment. Emma stretched her neck slightly. She wouldn’t even pretend that she was looking after Regina. Her heart thumped pleasantly in her chest as she thought about Regina’s beautiful smiles. Then a light was being switched off downstairs. Emma guessed that it was the hallway. She switched the radio off. Regina would probably come out of the door any moment now.

Emma’s hunch proved to be correct. After two more minutes, the front door to the white house opened, and Regina emerged from the house. She was wearing a white belted, trench coat that looked very posh. Emma wondered for a second about what Regina was wearing underneath before she looked at Regina’s face instead. As always, her dark hair was smooth and silky soft. Emma was itching to let her fingers glide through the dark tresses. Just once.

Regina was smiling, and her dark eyes were sparkling. The sight almost took Emma’s breath away. God, she was beautiful! It was like she became more and more beautiful each time Emma saw her.

Emma returned the smile and almost lifted her hand in greeting. But then she remembered that they could greet each other in the car. She didn’t want to look like an idiot, waving like that.

She watched as Regina walked towards the car. The brunette was wearing high heels as well, but she looked ten times more elegant wearing them than Emma did. She carried herself much more gracefully. Emma chuckled quietly to herself. Of course she did. That wasn’t so surprising given how much class Regina had.

Emma patiently waited for Regina to make it to the car, and as she waited, she looked down. More specifically at Regina’s legs. Regina’s gloriously exposed, long, tanned legs. Whatever the brunette was wearing underneath that trench coat had to be something that was relatively short. Emma couldn’t have been more grateful for it. Now Regina was close enough to reach out and open the door to the passenger’s seat, and Emma quickly looked up again. She didn’t want to be caught staring at Regina’s legs. That wasn’t a very classy thing to do. And honestly, looking at Regina’s face was satisfying enough. Emma would never tire of the way her dark eyes sparkled. She looked at Regina’s lips. They had been painted a deep shade of red. The darkest shade Emma had seen so far, and it looked absolutely incredible.

Regina opened the door and climbed onto the passenger’s seat, and for a moment the situation felt slightly bizarre to Emma. Because it made no sense that this graceful, classy woman had just climbed inside a yellow bug of a car.

But the situation only felt bizarre for a moment. Regina “broke the spell” by reaching within her purse and handing Emma a post-it note.

Emma smiled as she read the note: ‘hello. It’s nice to see you again.’

“You, too,” Emma smiled. “Are you ready to go?”

Regina nodded once and then inspected her reflection in the mirror. Emma saw her frowning a bit, and the blonde had to stop herself to not blurt out how beautiful Regina looked.

She didn’t though. Instead she discreetly slipped the note from Regina into her borrowed purse. The last time at the restaurant, Regina had thrown all the little notes out before Emma could snatch them up, but this time Emma was determined to not let that happen. Maybe it was a tad silly, but she had a little space in one of the drawers in her dresser in which she “hoarded” the notes Regina had written her. Well, the space in her drawer also housed her new library card and a very pretty notebook Ella once had given her, but Emma hadn’t written a word in yet. It amused Emma to open the drawer and look at all the post-its. She had a pretty solid collection of written post-its already, but she couldn’t wait to store tonight’s note away in the leather satchel.

Emma switched the engine on and maneuvered the car away from the house. Regina leaned back in her seat, and as she did that, Emma saw her look at the blonde’s dress. Emma very briefly took her eyes off the road and looked at Regina, and during their brief moment of eye contact, she saw Regina’s lips move and form a single word: ‘Pretty.’

“Thank you,” Emma smiled and might have blushed a little. “I’ve just bought it.”

Regina nodded a little, looked at Emma’s sequin dress once more and then flashed her a smile. It was obvious that she liked what she saw, and Emma felt positively giddy because of it. She liked that

Regina looked at her, however brief it might have been.

The blonde reminded herself that she was driving right now, and she quickly turned her attention back to the road. This was the sort of thing that caused car crashes. And crashing was not on tonight’s schedule. Emma had every intention of making sure that they arrived safely at their destination.

“Do you wanna listen to music or anything?” Emma asked in an attempt to distract herself. “You’re welcome to abuse the radio.”

She shot a quick look at Regina, and the brunette looked rather amused as she shook her head once. She was clearly comfortable in the silence.

Emma didn’t mind the silence either, but to be brutally honest, she wouldn’t have minded a bit of music right now. A beat she could listen to, something that could distract her so she wouldn’t be looking at Regina instead of the road would have been great. Emma squeezed the wheel a little tighter. This was trickier than she had expected. She shot Regina a quick look again. The brunette was comfortably leaning back in her seat. Emma suddenly found herself worrying if the passenger’s seat was clean. Regina was wearing a white trench coat. Emma would hate if she ended up with a stain on it because the seat were dirty or something like that. Maybe she should have cleaned the car before picking up Regina or something like that.

Emma almost rolled her eyes at herself. Now she was definitely obsessing.

 

Finding the theater wasn’t difficult at all, Emma’s GPS was very reliable, and soon the blonde could park the yellow bug in front of the theater. And she felt very accomplished.

Emma switched the engine off and looked at the beautiful woman sitting next to her. “Are you ready to head out?”

Regina nodded, fumbled with her purse and then found the two tickets for tonight’s concert. She opened the door to the passenger’s seat and stepped out of the car.

Emma was quick to do the same. She quickly locked the car and then followed Regina towards the theater.

Emma’s first thought when entering the theater was “holy shit!”. The place was definitely posh. Red carpets on the floor. Golden archways and enormous staircases. Emma was slightly blown away by what
she was seeing, and she felt slightly dazed as she followed Regina. The brunette was walking towards a wardrobe, and before Emma could protest, she had paid for a locker where they could leave their coats.

Emma didn’t say anything, but quickly decided that she would be buying Regina a drink during the intermission. That was the least she could do.

Regina loosened the belt in her trench coat, and then unbuttoned it. Simultaneously, Emma unzipped her own leather jacket, but she completely lost focus when Regina slipped the trench coat off her body and revealed what she was wearing underneath it. A red dress. A red dress that ended just above her knees. A red, fitted, sleeveless dress with a scoop neckline. Emma stared unabashedly for a moment.

Regina was wearing a cream colored silk scarf around her neck, and when she had taken her coat off, the scarf had slipped some. Once again, Emma noticed something white peeking out from underneath the scarf. Exactly like she had noticed during their train journey, but now that Emma was standing right next to Regina and therefore could get a closer look, it didn’t take her long to figure out that the white something most likely was some sort of bandage. That was what was hiding underneath Regina’s scarves. But as soon as Emma had made that deduction, Regina’s slim fingers came up and adjusted the scarf, covering the bandage once more.

Emma quickly looked away. She didn’t want Regina to know that she had been looking. It’s none of your business, Swan. At least it isn’t yet. Later perhaps. When we’re closer. Yes. Emma hoped that Regina someday would reveal all her secrets to her. Emma blinked slightly. Why were they still standing in the wardrobe? That was odd.

But when she glanced up again, ready to ask why they were still standing in the wardrobe, she was slightly surprised to see Regina looking at her. The brunette was looking at Emma’s newly bought dress, and she was looking in that particular way Emma had been searching for during their first coffee appointment.

Emma felt very warm. Regina was looking at her, but definitely not in a seedy way. There was nothing “elevator eyes” about it. She wasn’t looking at Emma’s body. She was admiring all of Emma, like she could somehow look right through her, and Emma had never experienced anything like it. She could feel herself flush a shade of bright pink, and she copied Regina’s gesture as she tugged her hair behind her ear and tried her best to return the look Regina was giving her.

Emma wasn’t completely sure how long it lasted, but then Regina “broke the spell” by smiling almost lightly and then nodding towards the door.

“Yeah,” Emma nodded. “We better get going.”

Regina nodded as well, and then lead the way as they left the wardrobe and then walked back into the impressive foyer. Emma’s legs were like jelly as she followed. She doubted that she would ever forget the way Regina had looked at her. It didn’t make an ounce of sense that Regina was looking at her that way. It should be the other way around. It OUGHT to be the other way around, because Emma couldn’t fully believe that she was actually here with the stunningly beautiful woman that was Regina. That didn’t make an ounce of sense either.

“I’m glad you asked me to come with you tonight,” Emma blurted out as they stood in line and waited to be let into the concert hall.

Regina’s head whipped up and she flashed Emma a little smile.

“Thank you,” Emma said plainly.

Regina shook her head and laughed silently at that. The implication was clear; she thought Emma was silly for thanking her.

Not wanting to enter a battle she couldn’t win, Emma instead asked: “so, where’s Henry tonight? Is he staying over somewhere?”

Regina nodded in confirmation.

“Classical music not his groove?” Emma asked and chuckled.

Regina bared her teeth in a grin at that and shook her head in a “definitely not”-manner.

“Well...” Emma chuckled again. “Good thing you could find someone else to ask then.”

Regina nodded, and for a second it looked like she was about to put a hand on Emma’s arm or even take her hand. The blonde definitely wouldn’t have minded, but Regina clearly changed her mind and
turned slightly so she could watch the queue.

Admittedly, Emma felt a little disappointed at the brunette’s change of heart, but she was quick to remind herself that there would be plenty of other opportunities to hold Regina’s hand.

The queue moved quickly, and soon Emma and Regina were next in line to be let inside the concert room. Emma was certain it was gonna be awesome.

 

And it was. It was actually fantastic. Awesome didn’t really cover it.

Emma hadn’t exactly walked in blindly to this. She knew that there most likely would be some violins and flutes and other classical instruments, but she hadn’t been prepared for how the violin was almost singing. How the flutes were sounding like a lullaby from an enchanted forest. And she hadn’t been prepared for how much she enjoyed it. She had always claimed that classical music wasn’t exactly up her street, but now she knew why. She had never been given the chance to fully enjoy it. The only classical concert she had been attending was the one she had been to when she was eight and had sat tugged in between Mary Margaret and David. She had sat completely stiff and had been afraid to move a muscle after she accidentally had dropped that glass of water. She had been overly tense and therefore unable to enjoy the concert.

That was definitely not the case tonight. Tonight Emma was sitting relaxed in her seat. She completely soaked up the music, and every time the tunes from the violin soared up and exploded in a raging crescendo, the blonde’s palm went sweaty, and her breathing quickened. Emma didn’t really have a rational explanation for that. At least none other than how much she enjoyed the music. There were moments where she actually had to close her eyes, and as she did, she imagined a swan unfolding her wings and leaping towards the sky. She couldn’t quite figure out why that was what the tunes from the violin made her think about, but she didn’t bother to analyze her thoughts either. Now was definitely not the time for analyzing and thinking about things.

Emma felt some shifting next to her, and she opened her eyes. Regina had leaned back in her seat. Her eyes were closed as well, and her lips ever so slightly parted. Emma’s palms went sweaty again. She couldn’t find words to describe how beautiful Regina looked right now. No words would cover.

Emma felt so tempted to reach out and take Regina’s hand. To hold the brunette’s hand between her owns, but at the same time she didn’t want to bring Regina out of peaceful state she was in right now.

That would almost be a criminal act. And so Emma reminded herself that there would be other opportunities to hold Regina’s hand. Plenty of other opportunities.

The tunes from the violins rose in strength, and it felt as though music was coming from all over the room. Emma could feel how goosebumps erupted on her skin, and she rubbed her arms slightly.

Maybe she should have gone to a few more classical concerts in her life. She had clearly been missing out. The blonde turned her head and looked at Regina. She was so grateful the brunette had asked her to come tonight and share this special experience with her.

Regina opened her eyes for a moment, and Emma smiled at her.

Emma hadn’t exactly been fearing that she would be bored at the concert. She was with Regina. Obviously, she wouldn’t and couldn’t be bored in Regina’s company. But she had been slightly worried that the concert would be very long.

 

That, however, was not the case. At all. It felt as though they had just started when there was intermission. Emma fulfilled the promise she had made to herself and bought Regina something to drink. A very small glass of white wine for her, and a glass of water for Emma herself. She raised her glass slightly, clinked it with Regina’s.

“Cheers,” Emma smiled.

Regina returned the smile tenfold and lifted her own glass slightly. Then she took a small sip of the wine.

“Good?” Emma asked, nodding towards the glass in Regina’s hand.

Regina nodded eagerly, and then she was reaching within her purse. Emma smiled when she saw the familiar stack of yellow post-its and the pencil Regina frowned a bit in sheer concentration as she scribbled, and then gave Emma the note. The blonde quickly read it: ‘yes, it’s very good. Thank you for buying me wine. You didn’t have to do that.’

“And you didn’t have to invite me to this concert,” Emma teased. “But I’m glad you did, though. It’s amazing.”

Regina nodded and then ripped a new post-it off the stack. She scribbled for a moment and then gave the new post-it to Emma. The blonde read that just as quickly: ‘Yes, it really is. I’m glad you’re having a good time. Do you think you’ll be going to more classical concerts in the future, then?’

“Oh yes, absolutely!” Emma said firmly and nodded. “If I can find people who plays the violin half as good as those guys on stage does, that is.”

Regina was openly amused at that, and she grinned as she took another sip of her wine.

Emma took a sip of her water. She felt so completely relaxed. So contend that she knew that if she should accidentally spill the water, it wouldn’t be a disaster at all. Then she noticed that Regina was looking at her again. This time, the brunette was clearly looking at her hair, and instead of smiling and letting Regina know that she knew, Emma pretended she hadn’t noticed and sipped her water again.

She really, really liked when Regina was looking at her, and she didn’t want to break the spell, so to speak.

But what did break the spell, however, was the faint sound from a bell somewhere, indicating that the last part of the concert was just about to start. Emma almost cursed out loud and definitely grinded her teeth in pure frustration when Regina turned her attention back to the stage in front of them.

The last part of the concert was equally as fantastic as the first one had been. Violins, flutes and pianos played in perfect harmonies, and Emma almost felt breathless as she sat there in her seat and listened as the music unfurled around her and soared towards the ceiling. Sometimes the music was as delicate as a soap bubble. That made goosebumps appear on Emma’s skin. And sometimes the music was intense and almost explosive. That made all the little hairs on Emma’s arms stand up. It felt as though the music was inside her. Every tune, every melody was better than the last one, and it was impossible for Emma to decide what she liked the best.

That was, until a woman walked on stage. A woman wearing a long white dress. Her hair had been carefully arranged in an intrigant updo. Everyone applauded, and the woman smiled graciously at her audience.

Then everything went quiet for a moment. Emma could hear her own heartbeat. The conductor gestured to the orchestra, and the orchestra began to play anew. After the preliminary tunes, the woman on stage joined in and began singing:

“Try to remember the kind of September

When life was slow and oh

so mellow...”

Emma didn’t recognize the song. She had never heard it before, and she was willing to laugh at her version of herself who wasn’t one for opera. The woman on stage had a rich, warm voice that somehow still managed to sound delicate and fragile.

“Try to remember the kind of September

When grass was green, and grain was yellow.

Try to remember the kind of September

When you were a tender and callow fellow...”

 

Emma could feel how the goosebumps erupted on her skin once more, and she felt like she was in some sort of trance as she looked at the woman singing on stage.

“Try to remember and if you remember
then follow
follow....”

The blonde almost had to force herself from looking away from the stage. It was damn near impossible to look away from the singing woman, but Emma wanted to look at Regina. She wanted to see the brunette’s reaction. She finally turned her head and looked at Regina.

She had expected to see Regina sitting with her eyes closed and listening intensely, so what she actually saw when she looked at Regina, took her by surprise.

Regina was looking at the singing woman on stage. She was blinking rapidly, and Emma easily spotted the tears streaming down Regina’s cheeks. The brunette could clearly sense that Emma was looking at her, because she quickly wiped her cheeks and then shot Emma a sideway glance, smiling a little and shaking her head as though she was silently apologizing for being silly.

Emma didn’t think it was silly. She thought it was beautiful. In fact she doubted that she ever had seen something more beautiful than Regina being so deeply moved by the music.

“Deep in December it's nice to remember

Although you know the snow will follow.

Deep in December it's nice to remember

Without a hurt the heart will hollow....”

 

Regina sniffled quietly and wiped her cheeks again, and Emma almost felt overwhelmed by tenderness. God, Regina was such a beautiful, wonderful soul. She had absolutely nothing to be embarrassed about.

 

“Deep in December

it's nice to remember

The fire of September that made you mellow.

Deep in December our hearts should remember and follow
follow.”

 

As the song ended and everyone started to applaud once more, Emma saw Regina wipe her cheeks and then shake her head once more. When she looked up, Emma flashed her a big smile. She was silently trying to tell Regina that she had nothing to be embarrassed about, and she hoped that Regina would understand.

 

 

Emma never wanted this concert to come to an end, but sadly it did eventually. After a long applaud, it was time to leave, and Emma and Regina left the grand concert hall. They were standing in line for quite a while, but eventually, the line dissolved, and they made it back outside. They walked towards the yellow bug, and Emma couldn’t help but smile. This had been another successful date.

Regina looked very contend too, even though she kept wiping underneath her eyes. Emma grinned a little at that. Regina was clearly wearing waterproof mascara tonight and was just being paranoid.

They climbed into the yellow bug, and Emma switched the engine on. Soon she maneuvered the car out of the parking lot, and she saw how Regina leaned back in her seat. She didn’t seem to mind that this was a yellow bug and not a Mercedes.

“That was an amazing concert,” Emma said as they made it back on the main road.

Regina nodded and smiled a little.

“That opera singer really...” Emma ran out of fancy words and settled for using a more “modern” one: “wow”.

Regina’s eyes sparkled at that, and she nodded again.

Yes, the concert had been wonderful, and if Emma had to come up with something she had been dissatisfied with, it would have to be the fact that there hadn’t been a lot of opportunity to communicate
with Regina. The concert had been an amazing experience, but Emma so cherished all the written post-its. There had been a bit too few of them tonight. But that was rectifiable as well. Emma had every intention about asking Regina out again. She would take her to another restaurant. And she would bring plenty of post-its with her.

Emma briefly glanced at Regina. The brunette had leaned back in her seat and had closed her eyes. It could have looked like she had fallen asleep if it hadn’t been for the little smile on her lips. Emma guessed that she was sitting and soaking up the concert.

“Feels pretty strange just to be going home after this, huh?” Emma asked.

Regina opened her eyes and laughed soundlessly as she nodded in agreement.

“But its like it sort of just took all your energy, isn’t it?” Emma continued. She felt incredibly tired, but in a very good way.

Regina nodded again and then adjusted her collar on her trench coat a bit.

Emma stole another glance before turning her attention back to the road. Regina looked absolutely wonderful tonight. She was so, so beautiful. Emma had never felt so weak before in her life. Everything about Regina made her heart beat faster in her chest, and Emma noted that her palms had gone sweaty again. They were slipping slightly on the wheel. One could debate what had been the most beautiful thing tonight. The concert. Or Regina. Emma knew what she would choose.

 

Much too soon she could park the little yellow bug in front of Regina’s sisters house, and Emma silently complained about this. She didn’t want to say goodbye to Regina just yet. But she didn’t have much of a choice, really. So she would have to settle for being a “gentlewoman” and walking Regina to the front door.

Regina looked slightly surprised when Emma exited the car as well and then walked up the pathway with her. Maybe she had expected Emma to remain sitting in the car.

“Well...” Emma said as they made it to the front door.

Regina smiled.

“I had a really great time tonight,” Emma said, and oh god, how she meant it!

Regina found her phone in her purse and quickly began typing on it. Then she turned the screen towards Emma: ‘so did I. Thank you for coming with me.’

“Thank YOU for inviting me,” Emma said gently.

Regina offered a light shrug and then frowned slightly as she typed on her phone once more. After a moment she turned the screen towards Emma again: ‘but I’m not completely happy with the fact that I managed to make a bit of a fool of myself at the concert.’

“What do you mean?” Emma asked, now frowning too.

Regina brushed her fingers over her cheek as though she was wiping tears away. Then she shook her head and rolled her eyes.

“Seriously?” Emma said disbelievingly. “You’re embarrassed about that?”

Regina nodded.

“Don’t be,” Emma said quickly. “Seriously, don’t. You have nothing to be embarrassed about, Regina. Tears are nothing to be embarrassed about.”

Regina didn’t look like she completely agreed, but then she seemed to shake it off. She smiled at Emma and then turned slightly to put a hand on the doorknob.

“Wait,” Emma said. She wasn’t completely sure why. Maybe it was her unwillingness to say goodbye to Regina, or making the impulse came because she kept thinking about how touchingly beautiful it had been to witness Regina cry over the music.

Or maybe she asked the brunette to wait simply because the moment was just right.

And Regina waited. She raised an eyebrow in slight surprise, and then she looked expectantly at Emma.

Emma saw an opportunity and grasped it. Simple as that. She leaned forward and then kissed Regina very, very gently. They were standing closely together, but Emma didn’t even put her hands on
Regina’s shoulders. Tonight this was enough. Tonight the soft brush of their lips connecting was all Emma needed. Regina’s lips were soft and warm and wonderful against her own, and her perfume completely filled Emma’s nostrils and made her feel ever so slightly drunk. She could feel how Regina shifted slightly, could feel the rapid beating of her heart.

The kiss didn’t last long as was as fine and delicate as a soap bubble. Everything about it was absolutely perfect, and Emma could feel a smile blossom on her lips as she pulled back and looked at Regina.

But what she saw wasn’t what she had expected or hoped to see. She had hoped to see Regina return the smile, but instead she was confronted with dark eyes that flickered as though the brunette was anxious, and hands that came up to tug dark strands of hair behind her ear.

Emma was confused. If she didn’t know any better, she would say that Regina was AFRAID, but surely, that couldn’t be the case. Emma refused to believe that. No. Regina had returned the kiss, she was sure of that, and yet it felt like something was off. There was that little shift. The teeny tiny barely-there change in Regina’s mood.

“What?” Emma asked quietly. Had she done something wrong? Has she somehow misread things completely?

Her question seemed to bring Regina back from whatever journey she had been on. The light and life returned to the brunette’s dark eyes, and she shook her head and smiled at Emma. Then she lifted her hand and gave Emma the slightest, soft little pat on the cheek before she thrusted one hand inside her purse and found the key to her house.

“Goodnight,” Emma said. She wasn’t completely sure what else to say.

Just as she had said it, Regina succeeded in unlocking the door. She opened the door but turned around before going inside. She flashed Emma a smile. A slightly different smile. A smile that was... Emma couldn’t quite explain it. And before she could get the chance to think more about it, she saw Regina’s lips move, and the brunette wordlessly formed the word ‘goodnight’. Then she went inside the house and closed the door softly behind her.

There wasn’t much more Emma could do here, really, and her high heels echoed slightly against the pavement as she walked back towards her car. She was slightly confused, but the confusion was so easily overshadowed by the happiness she was feeling. She had kissed Regina. She had finally kissed Regina. It felt as though she was completely light and could fly. Their third date couldn’t come soon enough for Emma. Everything about tonight had been absolutely perfect, and Emma couldn’t wait to tell Ella all about it when she got back home.

The blonde whistled, actually whistled as she climbed back inside the car and switched the engine on. She maneuvered the car away from the house and flicked around between the stations until she found a radio station she wanted to listen to. One that played classical music.

 

 

Emma still felt completely light when she parked the car in front of Eugenia’s Inn. And she didn’t feel so sleepy anymore. She felt full of energy. As though kissing Regina had given her some sort of boost.

Maybe she wouldn’t be going to bed right away. Maybe she would sit up and write for a while.

The restaurant was quiet when Emma stepped inside. Ruby was probably out with Dorothy, and Eugenia was most likely out on another round of neighborhood watch. With her crossbow. Emma chuckled as she went up the wooden staircase and then padded down the hallway towards her own room. She inserted the key into the lock and pushed the door open.

The first thing she did when she had closed (and locked) the door behind her, was slipping her shoes off. The blonde moaned a little in sheer relief. God, that felt good. Her feet had been sort of dying after having been trapped in Elsa’s shoes for an entire night.

Next Emma unzipped her silvery sequin gown and wiggled out of it. Instead of carefully folding the dress, she simply left it hanging over the back of a chair. Maybe she had gotten a boost of energy, but right now she couldn’t be bothered to put the dress away. She unhooked her bra and left that on the chair as well. Then she opened one of the drawers in her dresser and found the long t-shirt she slept in. Relief flooded her system as she slipped the t-shirt over her head. That felt amazing too. She ran her fingers through her hair and then wandered into the bathroom to brush her teeth and find a rubber band so she could tie her hair back in a ponytail. She yawned a little as she brushed her teeth. The taste of her toothpaste made her realize that she hadn’t been thinking about the smell of her breath when she kissed Regina tonight. Emma cringed a little. It was a good thing she hadn’t eaten garlic or anything. Next time she would bring some peppermint pastels or something like that. Emma snorted quietly as she resumed brushing her teeth.

Once that was done, there was only one thing she wanted to do. To switch on her laptop, climb under the covers and then write for a little while before turning in. But there was one thing she needed to do before that could happen. The blonde grinned as she reached within her purse and found the few post-it notes Regina had managed to write to her during the night. More to add to a growing collection.

Maybe it was silly, but Emma didn’t care. She had officially become a collector of Regina’s messages. And honestly, she didn’t see anything wrong with that. There were worse things to be a collector off.

She crouched down in front of the dresser as she cracked the third drawer open. The one where she kept all the messages from Regina. Emma laughed a little to herself and her thoughts wandered to Regina as she stuffed the post-it notes into the drawer. ‘More notes to add to the collection,’ she thought to herself.

But then something made her pause. Something made her frown and open the drawer completely. At first, she wasn’t completely sure what it was that had made her pause and open the drawer once more, but then she realized that it was that same, paranoid feeling she’d had throughout the week. The feeling that something had been removed from her room. Emma hadn’t been able to pinpoint exactly what it was. Until now.

Her library card was missing. That was the first thing Emma noticed, and her instinctive, first thought was to curse her intruder far, far away. God damn it, she had just gotten that library card, for fucks sake!

But then it dawned upon her that something else was missing from the drawer as well.

All the post-it notes from Regina were gone.

 

 

 

To Be Continued............