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To Hear Her Voice In The Silence

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-Six months later-

 

”When are we leaving?!” Henry moaned in complain and sounded every bit dramatic.

“As soon as your mom comes home, kid. You know that,” Emma said unbothered and without lifting her head from the laptop. She had just received an email from a publisher house. A very interesting email. An email regarding “A Tap on the Shoulder”. An email she would answer in the morning. They had plans tonight. Important plans.

Henry groaned dramatically, and now Emma raised an eyebrow. Did her ears deceive her, or was he starting to sound a little bit like a teenager? Interesting.

“Hooo-ooh!”

Emma smiled and quickly closed the laptop. And just in the nick of time. Neal determinated rose to stand on his own two wobbly legs. And would have toppled over if it hadn’t been for Emma’s ready hand. At one years old, the baby had been doing that a lot. Standing up. And falling a lot. The first time he had fallen over, Emma had been scared shitless, but Regina had assured her that he was fine. Falling over once in a while was all a part of the learning curve. He still couldn’t walk but judging by how well he was polishing his “standing up” routine, Emma reckoned that it probably wouldn’t be long. And she was impressed. So had David been when he came to visit yesterday. With Kathryn. Officially, the two of them were just “good friends”, but Emma could see how Kathryn looked at David. With so much love and adoration in her gentle blue eyes. And David mirrored that look. They were obviously in love with one another. But taking baby steps because David was still fragile, and Kathryn wanted to respect that. The two of them weren’t denying how they felt about one another, but yesterday when David had helped Regina in the kitchen, Kathryn had told Emma that she wanted to do this the right way. David had been through so much, and Kathryn wanted to be a hundredth percent sure he was ready for a relationship before they started anything beyond friendship. Right now, David’s healing process was the number one priority, she had said. And she would be there to help him.

Yeah, it was safe to say that Emma absolutely adored Kathryn, and even though the friendship label between her and David remained for now, Emma secretly thought to herself that David couldn’t have found a better partner. Kathryn Midas was a wonderful person. Patient. Gentle. Warm. Everything Mary Margaret hadn’t been, and Emma was so looking forward to the next visit from David and Kathryn. And to hear more about the house David was gonna look at here in Steveston. He would probably call tomorrow to let Emma know how it went. Not tonight. Tonight Emma wouldn’t be answering her phone. Tonight she had plans with Regina and Henry. Important plans.

“Mooo-ooom?” Henry whined, claiming her attention again.

Emma laughed because he sounded ridiculous. “Yeah, kid?”

“What time is mom coming home?”

Emma quickly glanced at her wristwatch. Regina was actually supposed to be home five minutes ago. “I’m sure she’ll be home soon, kid. Maybe there’s a lot of traffic. Or maybe the place was busy tonight.”

For the past four months, Regina had been doing volunteer work at the Downtown East Side Women’s Centre. There she could help women who had been in the same situation as her. Women who had fled their home. Women with children who were desperately searching for a safe place. The women’s center was that safe place. At first, Emma had been afraid of what the job could do to Regina. She had been afraid that Regina would get flashbacks and feel bad, but it’d had the completely opposite effect. Regina’s eyes shone with pride every time she came home from her volunteer job. Pride over the brave women she met every Friday. Pride that they had taken the first step. She was proud when they sent a woman on her way to her new life. She was proud every time they received updates from the women.

They often received updates at the center, and Regina always looked completely radiant when that happened. Beaming that yet another woman was on her way to recovery. Of course it wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies, though. The women who came to the shelter had been abused. Some of them very badly. Some of them had to be taken to the hospital rather than the shelter, and Regina was often the person who went with the women to the hospital. The one to be in the room with them when they were being examined by the doctor. The one to hold their hands when they were afraid. The one to soothe and listen to their fears. Many of them had been raped by their boyfriends or spouses, and Emma was so fucking proud of Regina. She was loved at the center. So loved that Jane, the boss had offered her a permanent position. And Regina had admitted to Emma that even though she earned more money as a professor at the university, working at the women’s center felt more rewarding. Maybe she would actually end up taking the job.

“Mom?”

“Yeah?”

“Aunt Z just texted me. She and Chad and the baby are gonna come meet us there later.”

“Really?” Emma said and made a face. It wasn’t that she minded the company of Zelena and Chad and their little one. Well, usually she didn’t. But tonight of all nights she would have preferred it being just her and Regina and Henry.

“Yeah,” Henry said, making a similar face. “Should I text her and tell her they shouldn’t come?”

“No,” Emma said, realizing that maybe perhaps she should have told Zelena about her plans for tonight. “Just tell her to meet us half past. That should give us a bit of time.”

“’Kay,” Henry said and tapped away on his phone.

Emma shifted on the couch. Reached within her pocket. Just to check. Just to make sure it was still there. And it was.

“Mom,” Henry chided. “Stop working yourself up. It’s not good for you.”

“Alright, smartass,” Emma mock scowled and chuckled. “I’m not worked up. I’m fine. Look at me. I’m sitting completely relaxed. Totally not worked up.”

“You’re fidgeting,” Henry said without looking up from his phone.

He was absolutely right. Emma was indeed fidgeting. But she wasn’t willing to admit it out loud. Instead she harrumphed and called him a smartass again.

Henry giggled, and so did Neal. He had giggled a lot lately and Emma absolutely loved that. He had the sweetest little laughter one could imagine. And he was babbling. God was he babbling! A lot. Most
of it was utter nonsense, but there had been one occasion where Regina had come home from work and Neal loudly had proclaimed “ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma!” Emma had gasped and immediately deduced that Neal had called Regina ‘mama’, but Regina had laughed and said that it sounded more like baby babbling to her.

As on cue, Neal claimed Emma’s attention by standing up and doing his best to walk. Emma was quick to come to his aid and make sure he didn’t fall over. That would be catastrophic. Tonight the baby managed eight steps before he swayed slightly and would have fallen on his little butt had it not been for Emma’s quick and ready hands.

“Good job, buddy,” she gently praised. “You know what, give it a few more weeks and I think you might start walking!”

“Hoo-oooh-oooh!”

“And you still know how to make owl sounds. Yup. Totally.”

Neal giggled adorably again.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah, you’re adorable,” Emma hummed. “Should we go and find Mr. Owl?”

“Oooh-hoooh!”

“Alright,” Emma chuckled. “Let’s go and find Mr. Owl.” She lifted Neal up on her hip and exclaimed “oh god!”. He was getting really heavy.

They ventured upstairs to find Mr. Owl and get ready, and by the time Neal was sufficiently bundled up (and Mr. Owl had been found, Neal's faithful companion since Malena had gifted the stuffed animal to him), Emma heard the front door open. But that wasn’t the only thing she heard. She also heard humming. Soft humming that sounded like “Only You”. Emma grinned. So tonight had been a good night. That was perfect.

“Aaaah!” Neal babbled as he hastily crawled towards the open nursery door.

“Woah kid, not so fast!” Emma exclaimed as she swiftly caught him and lifted him up on her hip again. “I know you’re excited to see mommy, so am I, but no crawling towards the stairs, okay? You’ll end up giving both of us a heart attack!”

“Maaaaaa?” Henry called up the stairs.

“Be right down!” Emma yelled back and quickly felt within her pocket once more. Yup, still there. She was ready. The blonde took a deep breath as she looked at her reflection. For once she was wearing slacks instead of jeans. Black slacks paired with a rust colored sweater. She looked good. Not too overdressed and not too underdressed either. She took another deep breath, trying to steady herself. She could do this. She had to do this. Without mucking it up. And she could. Of course she could.

“Okay, kiddo, let’s get this train rolling,” she mumbled as she turned her back on her reflection and headed downstairs.

Regina was in the living room, standing in front of the fireplace and rubbing her hands together. She looked up and smiled when she saw Emma and Neal coming into the living room. “Hello, my darlings.”

“Hey yourself,” Emma said and leaned in to give Regina a quick peck on the lips. “How was work tonight?”

“It was good,” Regina said and smiled. But she made a little doubtful grimace when she looked at Neal. “Oh. I see that he’s already ready.”

“Yeah?” Emma said a bit confused. “That was what we agreed on, right?”

“It was, but now I’m actually thinking that it’s a bit too cold tonight,” Regina said and grimaced slightly. “I mean, walking around with a baby in that cold? We can’t exactly walk fast and...” she shrugged lightly. “Maybe it’s not such a smart idea after all.”

Emma panicked. Did Regina want to cancel tonight’s plan? No! Fucking no! She absolutely couldn’t! Not tonight! Not when Emma carefully had thought of everything, had planned everything. The blonde opened her mouth to say something, but Henry beat her to it and exclaimed a: “but moooom! You promised!”

Emma felt a wave of relief wash over her. Henry truly was a pal. There was no way Regina would be able to resist those puppy eyes their son currently was displaying.

Regina seemed a bit surprised at Henry’s exclamation. “I know Henry, but-“

“No, mom! You promised! And I’ve been looking forward to it all week!” Henry said and secretly winked at Emma.

Regina raised an eyebrow.

“Zelena texted a bit earlier,” Emma said, congratulating herself with the streak of creativity. “She and Chad are gonna meet us there with the baby and all...”

“Oh,” Regina said, now pursing her lips slightly. “And since you’ve already bundled up Neal and everything...”

“We’re going?” Henry asked, and Emma could have kissed the kid right then and there. His enthusiasm and excitement was easily taking the suspicion off of Emma. Henry could become an excellent actor someday.

“Yes, we’re going,” Regina confirmed and chuckled slightly. “Just give me two minutes to get changed, alright?”

“Okay!” Henry chirped and bared his teeth in a beaming smile.

Regina chuckled again and gave his hair a fond ruffle as she walked past him. “One would think that I’ve just threatened to cancel Christmas,” she commented as she walked up the stairs.

Henry waited until his mother was out of earshot. Then he said: “nah, not Christmas. But you almost messed up something even bigger!”

“Kid, you’re a brilliant actor,” Emma complimented. “That could have gone to hell completely!”

“Swear jar.”

“Oops.”

“And you owe me a corndog.”

“I do?”

“Yep. For helping you out when you stood with your mouth open and looked like a goldfish instead of saying something.”

“Excuse me!” Emma huffed. But Henry had a point. She had totally frozen when Regina had been on the brink of cancelling tonight’s plans.

Henry snickered. “You know I’m right.”

“You might be,” Emma muttered a bit defiantly.

Henry snickered again, then glanced up the stairs and lowered his voice to a whisper as he murmured: “do you have it?”

“Yep,” Emma assured.

“You’re sure?”

“Mhmm. It’s right here in my pocket,” Emma smiled.

“Good,” Henry said plainly and when he glanced up the stairs again, he very much looked like a man on a mission.

Now Emma was the one to chuckle. The sound was nervous, though. A pit pitchy.

After a moment Regina came back downstairs. She had changed into a pair of black stockings and a purple knitted dress with a deep V-neck. Her hair had been brushed until it was shining, and she had tied the front section of her hair into a little braid. She looked fantastic as always. “I’m ready,” she announced.

“Cool!” Henry said. “Then lets go! Ma’s gonna buy me a corndog!”

“She is?” Regina asked and tilted her head in surprise.

“Yep. Because he... uhmm, helped me with Neal earlier,” Emma improvised and cursed herself for the “uhmm”. That did not sound truthful at all.

“Okay then,” Regina said lightly, seemingly accepting that explanation. “Well, I suppose that’s okay since you’ve already had...dinner.”

Emma breathed a sigh of relief.

“Let’s go!” Henry said, jumping to his feet and racing into the hallway to put on his shoes and jacket.

“He is very enthusiastic,” Regina observed with a chuckle. “Have you secretly been giving him sugar or something?”

“No, of course not,” Emma said and did her best to make her chuckle sound naturally. Neal squirmed in her arms, and she was quick to put the little boy down on the floor. With Mr. Owl.

“Could have fooled me,” Regina smiled as she gently cupped Emma’s cheek. “Are you ready to leave, my love?”

“Totally,” Emma assured and instantly leaned into the touch. “You look good tonight.”

“Thank you. So do you. Very smart,” Regina chuckled. “What’s the occasion?”

“Does there have to be one?” Emma said lightly and pecked Regina’s lips. “It’s a beautiful evening.” She pecked Regina’s lips again. “I’m spending it with my beautiful girlfriend.” Another peck. “And our
beautiful boys.” She pecked Regina’s lips a fourth time and lingered for a moment there.

“Mmm,” Regina murmured against her lips, and Emma immediately forgot everything. Even tonight’s mission. Everything sort of just faded away when she kissed Regina. She cupped her girlfriend’s cheeks and couldn’t resist to deepen the kiss. Just for a moment. She was allowed to do that. She hadn’t even welcomed Regina home from work properly. Time to rectify that.

Regina hummed into the kiss again, and Emma felt her soft, warm hand find home on her lower back. Emma shivered a bit. That was a soft spot. And Regina damn well knew that. Hence why she was chuckling adorably into the kiss.

Emma moved her hands up and nestled her fingers in Regina’s soft dark tresses. She wasn’t planning on messing up Regina’s hair. At least not much. Just a smidge. Just for a second. And real sneakily so Regina didn’t notice it. Emma could do that. She could do sneaky. Hell, that was basically what she had been doing all day. Actually, she had been doing sneaky for the past month or so. And it had been absolutely terrifying and scary and-

“Moms, coooome onnn! I can hear you kissing!” Henry complained from the hallway.

Regina chuckled as she pulled back. “Well, he’s not wrong.”

Emma grinned. “Nope. He isn’t. We better get going before he gets an ulcer or something.”

Regina giggled (yep, giggled!) as she picked up Neal and Mr. Owl and headed into the hallway. Emma followed and soon both women had put on their boots and coats. Emma opted for the grey trench coat she had bought a few weeks ago while Regina shrugged on her blue fur collar coat and gloves.

“You forgot something,” Emma said with a chuckle as Regina buttoned her coat.

Regina didn’t seem to know what that something was, so Emma grinned again as she reached up on the hat shelf and grabbed Regina’s blue woolen scarf. She lovingly tied it around Regina’s neck and then smoothened it a bit where it had creased. “There. It’s really cold outside. I don’t want you to end up with a sore throat or anything.”

“Oh,” Regina said and smiled warmly. “Thank you, my darling.”

“Are we going or what?” Henry asked impatiently and surprised both women a bit when he swiftly lifted Neal (and Mr. Owl) into the stroller.

“Lead the way, sweetheart,” Regina hummed.

 

And that was exactly what Henry did as the little family left the house and headed out in Steveston’s crisp, fresh autumn air. Emma dawdled on purpose and discreetly moved the secret little item from the pocket in her slacks to the pocket in her coat instead. That was better. Much better. She took a deep breath. Reminded herself to be calm and cool and collected. She wasn’t gonna freak out or panic. She could do this. Of course she could. And she wouldn’t need gloves tonight. Her hands were already clammy as it was. She chuckled hoarsely to herself.

“Are you coming, my love?” Regina asked softly.

“Yup,” Emma said and quickly got her hands out of her pockets. She couldn’t draw attention to herself like that. “I’m right behind ya.”

“Excellent,” Regina said and turned her head. “Henry, sweetheart, wait for your mom. And don’t race with that stroller!”

“But Neal thinks it’s fun,” Henry claimed.

“I doubt that, dear,” Regina said patiently. “And you could end up... knocking someone down, so please be careful, okay?”

“Okayyyyyy,” the boy mock grumbled, and Emma chuckled as she caught up with her family.

It truly was very beautiful. All the little stalls lined up everywhere. The lanterns in the trees. People walking by with their plastic cups of cider. The fun fair with the carrousel and Ferris wheel and everything. Yes, Steveston’s annual Harvest Festival was beautiful. Emma slipped her fingers in between Regina’s glove clad ones as they walked down the transformed Main Street.

“It looks beautiful,” the brunette hummed.

“It does,” Emma smiled and then teasingly added: “do you want a corndog too, babe?”

Regina chuckled. “No, thank you. You know I’m not too fond of corndogs.”

“Some pie later then?” Emma sweetly offered, knowing full well what the answer was gonna be.

“Well, I can’t possibly say no to that,” Regina said, and her dark eyes sparkled. “What time are we meeting Zelena and Chad again?”

“First in an hour,” Emma replied. “Gives us plenty of time to see everything.”

“In an hour?” Regina raised an eyebrow. “Goodness me, that’s a long time. Oh well. Perhaps they can meet us back home if we decide we’ve had enough before the hour is up.”

“Yeah,” Emma said halfheartedly. Her throat was closing up. And she felt a bit nauseated too. Fucking hell, she was getting nervous! And she absolutely should not be. She could do this. Without being nervous.

“Can we go and see the Jack-o’- lanterns?” Henry asked.

“Of course we can, sweetheart,” Regina smiled and gave Emma’s hand a gentle tug. “Come on, my love. Let’s go and see some pumpkins.”

“Sure thing,” Emma said and tried to sound nonchalant. Henry looked up at her and smiled encouragingly at her when Regina didn’t see. Emma did her best to return the smile.

They headed over to the Jack-o’-lanterns, and it really looked nice, all those carved pumpkins that were lit up by candles.

“Can we get one?” Henry asked hopefully. “It’s Halloween tonight and we don’t even have a pumpkin!”

“We’ll buy one before we leave,” Regina promised and rubbed her glove-clad hands together. “We don’t wanna drag it around for the entire night.”

“Okay,” Henry said and tilted his head at the many pumpkins. Then he glanced back at Regina. “It looks nice. Don’t you think so, mom?”

“It sure does,” Regina nodded and smiled. “Real nice.”

“Hoo-oooh!” Neal squealed. He clearly agreed.

“What do you think, Ma?” Henry asked as he turned to Emma.

“Yeah,” Emma said hastily and nodded. She had been more focused on looking at Regina. “It looks really nice. And kinda romantic too.”

Regina chuckled amusedly as she glanced at the “scary” faces carved into the pumpkins. “Romantic, you say?”

“Yeah. I meant the candles... not the faces,” Emma clarified and felt a bit dumb. Maybe she had chosen the wrong time to talk about romance.

But Regina glanced at the candles flickering in the twilight and smiled. “I agree. It is romantic.” She turned to her son. “So, which pumpkin do you want, Henry? Maybe we can ask Leroy to keep it for us until we come back.”

“That one!” Henry said excitedly and pointed to the biggest, most orange pumpkin that had by far the best scary grimace.

“That one?” Regina checked.

“Yep!”

“Okay then. Let’s go ask Leroy,” Regina smiled, and Emma watched as she and Henry made their way over to Leroy and began chatting with him. She saw how Leroy smiled widely, and it didn’t take long before he loudly proclaimed: “anything for you, sister!”. Now Emma was the one to smile. It was no secret that Leroy liked Regina. Everyone in Steveston liked Regina. And Henry. And Neal had long ago charmed his way into everyone’s heart. Emma’s grin widened as she witnessed Leroy bend down, tickle Neal’s cheek and proceed to talk in a high pitched “baby” voice to him. And he was richly rewarded.
Neal reached out and placed a hand on his cheek. Whilst hooting like an owl. Obviously. Emma was straight up laughing now. Their kid was just too cute for words. After another few minutes of chatting, Regina and Henry thanked Leroy and then returned to Emma.

“Is he gonna hang on to Mr. Pumpkin for us?” the blonde asked, still grinning.

“You bet,” Regina said with a smile. “We’re bringing home the nicest pumpkin in all the patch, isn’t that right, Henry?”

“Yep!”

“Awesome,” Emma said. “Ready to continue, then?”

“We are,” Regina confirmed and adjusted the blue scarf around her neck just a little.

“Can I push the stroller again?” Henry asked hopefully.

“Yes. If you don’t race,” Regina admonished and teasingly wagged a finger at him.

“I promise,” Henry snickered and went over to the stroller. He proudly began pushing his little brother, and Emma “aww’ed” out loud. That was just too adorable to witness.

“Are you ready to continue as well?” Regina half-joked as she took Emma’s hand.

“You bet. Lead the way, Mills.”

“I rather think I prefer walking next to you instead of leading,” Regina said softly.

As they walked around at the Harvest Festival, the little family saw several familiar faces. They almost ran into Ruby and Dorothy who, judging by the looks they gave each other, rather looked like they ought to be somewhere private and not in public. But Emma was happy to see that Ruby and Dorothy’s relationship was still going well. They looked as in love as ever.

“It’s been a while, you two,” Ruby commented. “Lets hang out soon, yeah?”

“We’d like that,” Regina answered and smiled at her girlfriend. “Right, Emma?”

“Yeah,” Emma confirmed and smiled at Ruby.

“Great. Tell you what, why don’t we talk about it tomorrow when you guys come and have breakfast?”

“Good plan, Rubes,” Emma grinned. “See you guys later.”

“See you,” Dorothy replied and smirked as she jokingly dragged Ruby along. “Come on, baby. Let’s go check out some pumpkins.”

“Right behind you, darlin’,” Ruby snickered and offered Emma and Regina a wave as she and Dorothy disappeared down the street.

Emma and Regina and Henry all chuckled at that. They continued down the lit up street, and the next people they “ran into” were Isabelle and Robert Gold. Robert greeted them in the same fashion he
always did, but Isabelle seemed almost unnaturally cheery. That made Emma wonder until Isabelle and Robert left, and Regina chuckled quietly to herself. “Well, well.”

“What?” Emma asked confused.

Regina glanced around and then her hands danced in the air as she made a sign Emma vaguely recognized. The sign for “pregnant”.

“Oh!” Emma exclaimed. “Are you... Are you sure?!”

“Mmm, her cheeks were glowing, and she was wearing an enormous coat,” Regina whispered. “I just thought it was better to be a little discreet about it.”

Emma laughed. It had been a while since she last had seen Regina use Sign Language. “Well, I’m happy for her.”

“Me, too,” Regina smiled.

Henry skipped ahead of them, and one time Emma and Regina managed to loose him and Neal in the crowd for ten seconds while they said hello to Elsa and her sister Anna who had come to visit. Once
they were done talking to Elsa and Anna, Henry was scolded a bit for running off like that, and the boy looked a bit sheepish as he apologized.

“My, it’s getting cold!” Regina commented as she pulled her coat tighter around herself. “I believe it’s almost cold enough to...snow!”

“You’re silly, mom!” Henry laughed.

“What about some hot chocolate?” Emma suggested.

“What a wonderful idea, darling,” Regina praised. “Let’s go and have some hot chocolate. My treat.”

And so they headed over to the stall that made hot chocolate.

“Three cups of cocoa with whipped cream, please,” Regina said to Astrid who was in charge of the stall. “Do you have any cinnamon?”

“Cinnamon?” Astrid repeated and looked a bit surprised. “Yes, I believe so.”

“We’ll just need a sprinkle on our cocoa,” Regina chuckled.

“Yep, just a sprinkle,” Henry added with a grin.

“Hoo-oooh!”

“Sorry kiddo,” Emma said and tickled her son’s cheek. “No cocoa for little owls. But maybe a tiny piece of pie later if you’re lucky.”

“Ooooh!”

Emma laughed as she crouched down to kiss her boy’s tiny nose and then rubbing her own nose against his for a second.

Regina and Astrid chitchatted while she made the cocoa, and now and then Henry glanced up at Emma. He smiled in excitement and encouragement, and Emma smiled back. It felt like her stomach was full of butterflies, and she was a little nervous about whether she could actually drink any cocoa or not. Oh well. If she couldn’t, Henry would probably be more than willing to drink it for her. A very valiant boy he was.

“There we are,” Astrid said briskly. “Three hot chocolates. Sprinkled with cinnamon.” She chuckled.

Henry immediately grabbed his plastic cup of hot chocolate and took a sip, thoroughly ignoring Regina’s admonishments about it being too warm to drink right away.

Emma snickered into her own cup of hot chocolate. Taking a small sip, she said: “Mmm! This is really good! Almost better than Eugenia’s.”

“Shh!” Astrid said wide eyed. “She might hear you!”

“And we can’t have that.” Regina chuckled as she too took a little sip. She licked her lips appreciatingly and nodded. “You’re absolutely...right. This is very good cocoa.”

Emma quickly did a double take as she looked at Regina. Then she spluttered slightly. “I’m not saying that you have whipped cream on your nose, beautiful, but-“

“You have whipped cream on your nose, mom!” Henry exclaimed and laughed shamelessly. “You look so funny! Can I take a picture of you?”

“No, Henry Swan-Mills. You absolutely cannot,” Regina said gravely as she quickly wiped her nose. “Better?” she asked Emma.

“You looked nice with whipped cream on your nose too,” Emma assured and bared her teeth in a grin.

Regina shook her head and clicked her tongue in mock disdain.

Henry couldn’t stop laughing into his cocoa. And even Neal participated and giggled even though he probably didn’t have much of an idea of what his older brother was laughing at.

Regina sighed and attempted to change the subject by saying: “Henry, since we’re close to the food stalls, do you want that corndog now?”

“No, I wanna wait,” Henry replied.

Regina raised an eyebrow. “Are you sure? It would be practical to get it now since we’re right by the food stalls.”

“I wanna wait, mom,” Henry said and scrunched up his nose. “Hot chocolate and corndog don’t go well together.”

Regina sighed in that particular way she sometimes did when she found her darling son to be slightly difficult. “Alright then. We’ll wait.”

“Thanks mom,” Henry said innocently and winked up at Emma.

Emma discreetly winked back. No, Henry couldn’t have a corndog right now. That corndog wasn’t just a corndog. It was a secret signal between them. One they had agreed on a week ago. Henry was actually the one who had come up with it. Of course he was. He was such a smart boy. And a hundredth percent dedicated to tonight’s secret mission. Perhaps even a little too dedicated. Everything had to be perfect, and Emma could feel the pressure. Suppose she mucked it up? Suppose she ended up saying the completely wrong thing? Or stuttering her way through what she actually wanted to say? Jesus Christ, that would be absolutely terrible.

“My love?”

Emma blinked. “Huh?”

Regina chuckled warmly. “I was just asking if you’d like a...corndog? Or don’t you like mixing cocoa with corndog either?”

“Oh.” Emma grinned a bit. “Nah, I’m good, beautiful. I don’t need anything right now. Well, except for a kiss, but I can’t have that because Henry is here...” she made perfect puppy dog eyes

“That’s a pity...” Regina said and pursed her lips in feigned sadness. She turned her head and looked at her son. “Not even a small one?”

“Pretty please?” Emma added.

“Ooookay,” Henry groaned. “As long as you don’t-“

“Don’t say it,” Emma warned.

“Suck faces,” Henry defiantly finished his sentence.

“How dare you,” Regina laughed. “We never do that!”

“Yes you do!” Henry exclaimed. “Last night after I had gone to bed and came back to have some water!”

Emma and Regina looked at each other, properly chastened. There was a teeny tiny possibility that they might have been doing that.

Henry cackled into his cocoa. “Just kiss each other, moms. But not too long, please.”

Emma smirked at her girlfriend as she stepped forward and pecked her lips once. “There. That was a teeny tiny kiss, wasn’t it, kid?”

“Acceptable,” Henry joked.

“You’re awful,” Emma said with a grin as she wrapped an arm around Regina.

“Can I take a picture of you guys?” Henry asked with an adorably tilt of his head. “You look really cute like that.”

Emma and Regina looked at each other once more, and Regina nodded once.

“Knock yourself out, kid,” Emma grinned. “But make it a good one, okay?”

“I promise,” Henry assured as he found his phone in his pocket and sat his cocoa down on the little table. “Smile, moms!”

Emma and Regina did just that, and when Henry flipped the screen, Emma had to admit that it was a damn good one.

“Can I take one of you three now?” Regina asked. “I want a memory of this wonderful evening.”

Emma couldn’t choke back a grin as she and Henry agreed to one more picture. Regina was gonna remember this night, alright! The blonde lifted Neal out of the stroller, kissed his cheek and instructed him to “look at mommy!”. Neal did just that, and he was giggling happily at the funny sounds Regina was making in order to keep his attention.

“Perfect!” Regina said warmly as she took the picture. “Absolutely perfect.”

“Can I see?” Henry asked eagerly and ran over to his mother. He grinned as he saw the picture and ordered Emma to come and see.

Emma felt utterly warm and ridiculous as she looked at the picture of herself and Henry and Neal. All three of them were smiling happily. “We gotta frame that,” she pointed out.

“Absolutely,” Regina agreed.

“If you’d like, I could take one of all four of you together,” Astrid graciously offered.

“Yes!” Henry said before either of his two moms could get the chance to either say yes or no.

“I guess that means we’re having our picture taken,” Regina said mildly and gave Emma a soft nudge. “Are you ready to smile for the dicky bird, miss Swan?”

“Oh my god, don’t ever say that again!” Emma begged and tried to smile and not grimace.

Regina chuckled amusedly and wrapped an arm tightly around Emma’s waist as Astrid took the picture of them.

Once the cocoa had been drunken, the little family did a bit more walking. They explored all the little stalls that had popped up overnight, and they ended up buying three sets of clothes for Neal. Not that
he needed it, but they couldn’t help it. Nor could they help buying him a stuffed owl. Another stuffed owl. Henry stumbled upon something as rare as a stuffed swan, and he didn’t even have to beg Regina for it. She bought it for him right on the spot.

“Nice,” Emma complimented with a grin when Henry got his swan. “What’s his name?”

“I dunno. SHE hasn’t told me yet,” Henry said, looking like he was mildly scolding Emma.

The blonde chuckled.

Regina tugged at her coat to wrap it tighter around herself. She then shivered lightly. “Aww,” Emma cooed with a chuckle as she wrapped an arm around Regina. “Feeling cold, beautiful?”

“Yes,” Regina said simply. “I’m still voting that we head home and meet Zelena and Chad there.”

“But mom, we’re having fun!” Henry proclaimed with a dramatic whine.

“I know, honey, but it’s also so cold tonight,” Regina said patiently. “And little Robyn isn’t that old yet. It may be very cold for her.”

“I’m sure Zelena and Chad will be here in a moment,” Emma said quickly. “Let’s just...walk around for a bit longer, yeah?”

Regina tilted her head. “You think so?”

“Yeah, I really do.” Really, really do!

“Hmm. Okay then,” Regina said with a slight nod. “I suppose we can stay a bit longer. After all, this only happens once a year.”

“Exactly,” Emma sad and felt utterly relieved. Regina seemed very determined to bust the blonde’s secret plans for tonight. Something they would laugh at later, Emma was sure.

“Awesome!” Henry grinned. “Plus, I haven’t had my corndog yet!”

“Oh yes, that is very important,” Regina said a bit sardonically and gave Henry’s hair a fond ruffle.

Emma had to suffocate a chuckle. Hell yeah, the corndog was important! The corndog was actually the most important thing ever tonight! Well, except for that little secret Emma was carrying around in her pocket.

“Should we buy some Christmas ornaments?” Regina mused. “I know it’s a bit soon, but I saw a stall selling them earlier...”

“That’s a great idea, babe,” Emma smiled. “I’m all for Christmas ornaments.”

“Me, too!” Henry grinned.

So they headed to the stall that sold Christmas ornaments and ended up buying far too many. Or so Regina claimed. After all, what would they do with so many Christmas ornaments? Henry got accused of being “smart” when he flatly stated: “decorate the tree?”

Emma laughed at that while Regina scowled and reminded Henry to mind his ‘tude. Yes, she actually said that, and it only made Emma laugh even harder and the blonde claimed that Regina sounded like
she was from “the hood”.

“It’s very attractive,” Emma said when Henry was well out of earshot and looking at decorative Christmas angels they had absolutely no need for.

“Is it indeed?” Regina said and smirked in that particular way Emma so favored.

“It is,” Emma hummed and slipped her finger in between Regina’s.

“Well, I’m glad you like it, miss Swan,” Regina said. Her voice went a bit rougher, and now she was definitely drawling a bit. Emma suddenly felt rather weak.

“Mills,” she groaned. “You cannot take that tone with me when we’re out and about. “It’s not fair!”

“And which tone is that, my love?” Regina asked, still drawling.

“You know which one,” Emma huffed.

“No, I really don’t,” Regina chuckled. “You have to tell me, darling.”

“Your... bedroom tone,” Emma mumbled and felt how her face grew hot.

“Oh?” Regina chuckled again. “I have a bedroom tone?”

Emma huffed. “Oh please! You damn well already know you have a bedroom tone!”

“Actually, I had no idea,” Regina smirked. But the glint in her eyes certainly suggested otherwise.

“Mom! Can we get some of these?” Henry asked, ruthlessly interrupting their flirting.

“Christmas angels?” Regina asked amusedly. “I don’t think we have any need for Christmas angels, my little prince.”

“Nah, not the Christmas angels,” Henry said as he came over and tugged at his mother’s sleeve. “These guys over here!”

Emma and Regina both headed over there to take a look at what Henry had found. It turned out to be nutcrackers. Not actual nutcrackers, but neat figures carved in wood. “They’re nice,” Regina nodded.
“But what is the purpose?”

“I dunno...” Henry blushed a bit. “I just think they’re nice.”

“Oh I see,” Regina smiled. “Well, I guess it wouldn’t harm to get one. Which one do you like best?”

“This one!” Henry exclaimed as he grabbed one of the figurines. This particular nutcracker had a red “velvet” coat on with golden buttons. “He looks just like the one in Ma’s story!”

“So he does,” Regina nodded. “Let’s get him.”

Henry got his nutcracker and was delighted, and the little family continued exploring the Harvest Festival. Emma and Henry shamelessly dragged out the time. And dragged Regina along to all the little stalls they could find. Neal had fallen asleep in his stroller long ago, and Regina seemed amused at Emma and Henry’s enthusiasm about the Harvest Festival. Amused and definitely unsuspecting that this was one big ploy. A wicked plan made by Emma and Henry in the hours when Regina was at work. Kept under wraps for a month, damn nearly two months and the source of sneaky whispering and secret gazes exchanged during dinner. But not for much longer now. The lanterns by the Ferris wheel was switched on as well at the little lights adorning the Ferris wheel itself, and Henry reached out and gave Emma’s wrist a slight pinch. Emma was quick to turn her head and her butterflies fluttered anxiously in her belly when she spotted that the lights had been switched on. Then she pinched Henry’s wrist back. It was showtime.

“Mom, can I have my corndog now?” Henry asked sweetly and innocently.

“Now?” Regina frowned. “Sweetheart, we’re nowhere near the food stalls.”

“You promised me!” Henry exclaimed, and Emma saw Regina’s jaw tighten slightly. The blonde felt guilty and hoped that Henry wouldn’t get in trouble for his naughty behavior. He was doing it for Emma.

“Yes, I suppose I did,” Regina said and appeared to be quelling a sigh. “Very well. Let’s go and get your corndog. And then I think we’ll...be calling Zelena to hear if she and Chad will be here soon. I’m starting to freeze.”

They turned around and walked towards the food stalls. And the Ferris wheel. Emma discreetly reached out and gave Henry’s hand a little squeeze. He had been playing his part beautifully tonight. And he knew it. He sneakily grinned up at her.

“Do you want a corndog too, my love?” Regina asked and sounded a bit tired.

“Nah, I think I’m good,” Emma said distractedly as she secretly patted her pocket. Yep, still there. But damn, she was getting nervous now! Almost on-the-verge-of-getting-sick nervous. What if she somehow mucked this up? What if she actually did?! Jesus Christ. She took a deep breath and tried to calm herself. Pull yourself together, Swan! She was going to do this. And she was going to do this the right way. The perfect way. And it was going to be wonderful. The fairytale moment she had envisioned for a while. She took another deep breath and tugged at the lapels of her coat.

They reached the food stalls. Henry got his corndog and munched happily on it, and Emma knew she had to be patient for a little while. Her suggestion had to sound spontaneous and not at all like she had planned it beforehand. Which meant that she had to let Henry consume more than just three bites of his corndog. The blonde shifted a bit next to Regina. Henry glared at her in warning, silently admonishing her to act natural and not like a fool. Emma tipped her chin up and did her best to follow Henry’s silent order.

They chitchatted, and as far as Emma could judge, the conversation flowed perfectly naturally between them. Well, at least between Regina and Henry. Emma was struggled to be natural. Her voice sounded high pitched and nervous, and she silently cursed herself. She was supposed to sound natural, damnit!

Regina shivered a bit in her coat and tugged the sleeve up to glance at her wristwatch. “Five more minutes and I’ll call Zelena and tell her that we should meet back at our place instead.”

Henry narrowed his eyes at Emma, giving her what could only be described as a poignant look. Emma nodded very slightly. She knew that time was running out and she had to act soon if she didn’t want to mess this up.

So once those five minutes were up, and Henry was half-way through his corndog, Emma tried to be as nonchalant as possible as she asked: “hey kid, you wanna take a ride in the Ferris wheel with me?”

For a split second, she could see the hint of a proud smile on Henry’s lips, but then the talented Mr. Swan-Mills found a completely different attitude as he scowled and held up his corndog. “I’m eating, Ma!” he flatly pointed out.

“Can’t you just finish that real quickly?” Emma asked, following their script to perfection.

“I have half a corndog left!” he exclaimed and scowled again. “I can’t just shove it down my throat, Ma!”

“But I really wanna go for a ride in the Ferris wheel before we leave!” Emma whined and did her best to sound natural.

“Ask someone else. I’m eating,” Henry said flatly and took another big bite of the corndog.

“Seriously?” the blonde groaned. “I love food as much as you do, kid, but rejecting a ride in the Ferris wheel? That’s just-“

“Ask someone else,” Henry scowled. “And stop bullying me!”

“But I don’t have anyone to ask...” Emma whined dramatically and looked pleadingly at Regina. “Babe?”

Regina glanced at the Ferris wheel and pursed her lips. “We’ve got time to wait until Henry is done eating, my darling.”

Damnit!

“But I don’t wanna,” Henry stated firmly.

Regina tilted her head. “Why ever not? You usually like the Ferris wheel, honey.”

Henry shrugged. “I still do. But I don’t want you guys to wait for me. I’ll finish my corndog while you two go for a ride in the Ferris wheel.”

Regina chuckled. “That’s sweet of you, honey, but I can’t go. We can’t both leave Neal.”

“Uhm, hello?!” Henry huffed. “I can watch him!”

“Henry-“

“Mom, seriously, you guys will only be gone for a few minutes, and I’m a big boy. I can watch my brother.”

Regina tilted her head now. “Are you sure?”

“Just ride the Ferris wheel with Ma, okay!” Henry sternly ordered.

“Henry Swan-Mills-“ Regina started and narrowed her eyes.

“It could be really awesome if you wanted to go with me,” Emma hastily added, trying her best to soften Henry’s exclamation. She flashed him a sheepish smile. She was sorry that she was getting him in
trouble with his mom.

Regina raised an eyebrow.

“Please?” Emma sweetly added, batting her green eyes at Regina and hoped that she was giving her perfect puppy dog eyes.

“Okay...” Regina said, now glancing between Henry and Emma in a confused ‘what on earth is going on?’-manner. Emma hoped that she didn’t suspect anything.

“Was that a yes?” Emma asked hopefully and sweetly.

“Yes, I suppose so,” Regina said with a slight sigh. “Our son seems more focused on his relationship with his corndog...”

“Yup,” Henry said and took another big bite of the corndog to emphasize.

“Please don’t.... stuff your mouth, sweetheart,” Regina gently admonished. “There’s a bottle of water in Neal’s pram if you need-“

“Mom.”

“Come on, babe,” Emma said and took Regina’s glove clad hand. “Let’s brave the Ferris wheel.”

Regina nodded and told Henry: “we’ll be right back.” then she graciously allowed Emma to gently tug her towards the Ferris wheel.

Henry flashed Emma a grin and mouthed something that could have been ‘finally!’

Emma felt that anxious flutter as she and Regina went the rest of the way over to the Ferris wheel.

“Hello there!” Billy who was in charge of the Ferris wheel cheerfully greeted. “Just the two of you?”

“Yes,” Regina said and glanced at the cabin. “Oh. Not as small as I feared. Excellent.” Billy opened the gate for her, and while she was wiggling into the cabin, Emma discreetly leaned in and murmured to Billy: “at the very top.”

“You’ve got it,” Billy chuckled conspiratorially and gave her a slight pat on the back. “In you go.”

Emma followed Regina inside the Ferris wheel cabin and plopped down on the bench across Regina. Billy closed the little metal gate behind them and pulled a lever. The right lever. The Ferris wheel moved, and their little cabin was slowly making its way to the very top.

“And up we go,” Regina said a bit jokingly as she leaned back against the wood bench that made it out for a seat. She shifted a bit and made a face. “Could have done with a....pillow or something.”

“Sore ass, lovely?” Emma quipped with a snicker.

“Cold,” Regina corrected and raised an eyebrow as she looked at Emma who was still sitting on the bench across from the brunette. “What are you doing all the way over there?”

“What? Oh,” Emma shrugged lightly and pretended that her sitting position wasn’t deliberate. “I didn’t think about that.” She glanced over the little metal gate. Steveston was getting smaller and smaller the higher they soared.

“So, are you gonna come over here?” Regina half-chuckled.

“Nah,” Emma smirked. “Not enough room on the bench for two, Mills.”

“Alright,” Regina said, and Emma could hear that little hint of uncertainty in her voice. “Am I being paranoid...or are you acting a little strange tonight, my love?”

“Strange?” Emma echoed, feigning confusion. “What do you mean?”

“I just think that both you and-“ Regina shook her head. “No, you know what. Never mind. I’m just being silly.” She cleared her throat. “This is....nice.”

“It is,” Emma agreed and had to bite her tongue. Regina was not being silly. Not ever!

“It’s been a nice....evening,” Regina said softly and flashed Emma a smile. “A perfect evening. I’m glad you and Henry convinced me to go anyway.”

“Me, too!” Emma said and returned the smile. “It would have been a shame to miss all of this.” a big, fucking shame!

“It would,” Regina nodded, briefly glancing down, making a face and then hastily looking back at Emma again. She still wasn’t overly fond of heights, and Emma knew that.

“I’m glad you went with me, lovely,” Emma said, stretching forward and reaching out so she could brush her fingers lightly against Regina’s.

“You’re welcome,” Regina smiled. “As long as it’s not going too fast, it’s okay.”

“Good. That’s good.” Yes, the Ferris wheel was indeed taking them to the top in a very, very slow pace, and Emma was actually pretty grateful for that. The effect wouldn’t be the same if the ride in the
Ferris wheel was over with in a flash. Good old Billy. Emma knew that involving him in her plans had been the right choice to make.

Regina frowned a bit. “Isn’t it odd that we’re....the only people on the Ferris wheel? Shouldn’t it be full of children?”

“You’re right, that IS a bit strange,” Emma said with a nod and suppressed a smile. No, it wasn’t. There was a reason why the Ferris wheel was empty tonight. A damn good reason. Billy was a pal. That was
the reason.

Regina hummed a bit absentmindedly as she looked up at the starry sky. She tugged a lock of hair behind her ear.

“Have I mentioned that you look awesome tonight?” Emma asked.

Regina chuckled. “I think so?”

“You look fantastic!” Emma said for good measurement.

Another deep, rich chuckle. “Thank you, my darling. So...do you.”

“You think so?” Emma teased.

“You know I do,” Regina said and mock scowled.

It was Emma’s turn to snicker.

“It was a bit odd that Henry didn’t want to come along,” Regina observed and tilted her head ever so slightly.

“There wouldn’t have been enough room in here for three people anyway,” Emma teased and felt like a master improviser.

Regina clicked her tongue in mock disdain. “You know what I mean. He’s usually all for Ferris wheels.”

Emma leaned forward slightly again. “Maybe he was just trying to give us a bit of alone time? We haven’t had a lot of that tonight.” she could say that. That wasn’t dangerous.

“You’re right. We haven’t. How considerate of him,” Regina snickered and leaned forward as well so she could peck Emma’s lips lightly.

Emma pecked right back. Regina’s lipstick tasted of chocolate tonight for some reason. Delicious. Maybe it was the remains of the hot chocolate they had earlier. And her hair smelled awesome too. Of that apple scented shampoo. And her skin! Mmm! Some sort of exotic fruit Emma couldn’t remember the name of right now.

Regina chuckled softly as she pecked Emma’s lips once more and then shifted to pull back.

“No, stay where you are,” Emma almost moaned. “You smell fantastic!”

“Is that...so?” Regina lightly teased as she “stole” yet another kiss from Emma’s lips and then pulled back. She pulled her fur collar coat closer together around herself, tugged a lock of hair behind her ear again.

 

Emma’s heart started to hammer in her chest. They were almost at the top of the Ferris wheel now. Almost showtime. Jesus Christ! The butterfly of anxiety kept flapping around somewhere in her belly, and Emma silently ordered herself to be calm.

Up, up, up they went. Slowly, ever so slowly until they were right at the top. Steveston looked teeny tiny. The Ferris wheel stopped and left their little cabin hanging still in the air.

“Why are we...stopping?” Regina questioned and raised an eyebrow.

“Part of the ride?” Emma offered. It was half-assed.

And Regina didn’t look very convinced either. Emma couldn’t blame her. “Seems rather odd given that we’re the only people here. Isn’t stopping at the highest point something they do to thrill the children?”

Man, she had such good arguments tonight!

“You’re right,” Emma conceded and wetted her lips before continuing: “the Ferris wheel stopping like this isn’t a part of the ride.”

“It’s not?” Regina was raising an eyebrow now.

“No. Billy stopped the Ferris wheel because I asked him to,” Emma said and felt oh so tempted to check her pocket just. One. Last. Time. But she knew she didn’t have to. She already knew it was there. She could feel it.

“You did?” Regina frowned. “Why?”

“Because I, uhh, need to talk to you,” Emma wheeled and almost cringed. That wasn’t half as smooth as she hoped for.

“And you felt it was necessary to...lure me into a Ferris wheel for that?” Regina asked incredulously.

”Yeah. It’s a pretty important talk,” Emma said truthfully.

Something in Regina’s jaw tightened. “Okay...” she said slowly. “Is... Is everything okay?”

“It is,” Emma said immediately and leaned forward so she could brush her fingers against Regina’s. “It’s not that kind of talk, lovely.”

“Oh. Okay,” Regina visibly relaxed again. “Then, what is it?”

Emma took a deep breath and kept her fingers where they were so they could just barely touch Regina’s hand. “I love you.”

“I love you... too,” Regina said and chuckled lightly. “You could have told me that in the street, my darling. You didn’t have to bring me all the way up here to tell me that.”

“No, that’s not what I want to say,” Emma blurted. “Or, it is. It’s the essence of what I want to say, but not what I was planning on saying first-“ she shook her head when she realized that she was rambling. “Damn. This is hard.”

Regina, bless her, looked politely confused and curious.

“I love you,” Emma said again. “I’ve loved you for a very long time now.” She took a deep breath and made sure to look Regina in the eyes as she continued. “When we first met on the train, my first thought was that the woman sitting across me was absolutely beautiful. I’m thinking the same tonight, by the way. When you first used your phone to communicate with me, I was intrigued and wanted to know more. When we started to communicate more, I was happy because it meant that my trip to Vancouver wouldn’t be as boring as I had dreaded. When I witnessed you storming out of the bathroom in tears, I felt worried. Probably a lot more than I should have been considering that we were essentially strangers at the time. When we arrived at Vancouver station, I felt disappointed that the journey wasn’t longer because I didn’t want to lose contact with you.” She flashed Regina a smile.

Regina smiled back, and Emma continued her speech:

“When I saw you with Henry at the station with Henry, I realized that you were a mother. And an extremely good one too. Normally, that would have scared me off, because I had never been interested in a woman who had a child before. When you said yes to giving me your phone number, I could have jumped up and down like an idiot-“ Emma chuckled lightly. “That was how happy I was. I started to look forward to our coffee appointments. They became extremely important to me. As did the post-it notes you used to communicate with me. For every single meeting, I discovered more layers of you, but I also saw more and more of you. And I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. That someone could be so wonderful and smart and beautiful and unique-“

“Emma, I-“

“I haven’t finished yet, my love,” Emma gently interrupted her. She cleared her throat and then continued: “I literally had the biggest crush on you. You reduced me to sixteen year old blushing schoolgirl- you actually still do that, by the way-. And seeing you being Henry’s mother... I can still remember the Harvest Festival I invited you and the kid to. I was blown away by both of you. I saw a mother and a son with an incredibly close bond. I saw a kid who adores his mother, and a mother who would do anything for him. But it wasn’t until we went to a classical concert together that something inside me shifted. You looked so beautiful that night. It took my breath away. But it wasn’t just that. There was this woman singing on stage, and you were crying. You were crying while she was singing. You were crying, and afterwards you were embarrassed about it. But it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen, and it was right then I realized that I had fallen in love with you. Completely and utterly. I kissed you for the first time that night.” she gently touched Regina’s hand once more. “Today I know that you weren’t completely ready to kissed then, but-“

“It was perfect,” Regina whispered.

“It was,” Emma agreed. “And then things happened, didn’t they? We didn’t see each other for three weeks, and no, I’m not about to talk a whole lot about that. At least not the bad stuff. Instead I’m going to talk about how that was the first time I saw how protective you are over those you care about. You willingly removed yourself from me in order to protect me.”

Regina flashed her a slight wobbly smile.

“But like I said, I’m not going to talk about those three weeks,” Emma continued. “Instead I’m going to talk about the time afterwards. About how you signed something to me in a cabin in Salmon Arms...”

“I remember that,” Regina said softly.

“So do I. And it was killing me that I didn’t know what it was,” Emma chuckled. “But eventually, I found out, didn’t I? You told me what it meant. That you had fallen in love with me. And let me tell you, that was the happiest moment in my entire fucking life!” she chuckled lightly once more but then grew serious. “But you also told me that it scared you. That you hadn’t expected to ever feel like that again, and we agreed to take it slow. One day at the time, I believe was the exact phrasing. And we came up with something else. Replace the bad touches with the good ones. I guess you could say I made it a mission. To woo you like I had never wooed anyone before. And I did pretty good, didn’t I?”

“You sure...did,” Regina smiled. “You still do.”

“There were so many kisses after that,” Emma chuckled. “I remember every single one of them.”

“Me, too.”

“And eventually, there were these...phone calls as well,” Emma continued softly. “Very special phone calls.”

“The most important phone calls in my life,” Regina said plainly. “You restored something inside me.”

“Sometimes I have to pinch myself,” Emma said gently. “Sometimes I have to remind myself that you actually opened your heart to me. That this-“ she gestured lightly towards Regina. “Is real. The way we’ve shared a bed and cuddled and co-slept the entire night. The way you trusted me enough to let me lie on top of you. The way you confessed your love by writing on my back. The way Sunday dinners and dessert in front of the fireplace became a part of my life. The way all three of us, you, me and Henry, slowly but steadily became a unity. How you let me help you when things are hard. How we’ve both been through so much in our life and still manage. How you manage to be gentlest, most wonderful, loving person I have ever met. Your bravery. You are undoubtedly the bravest woman I have ever met. I know you don’t always see it or believe it, but every day, I marvel at your bravery. At the way you just... continue. Good truly can come from broken, and I’ve never known anyone who is as good as you are, beautiful. You make my life better every single day.”

Regina wiped her cheeks and flashed Emma a tearful little smile.

“We went from strangers on a train to something completely else,” Emma said, voice rough with emotion now. “When I left Toronto, I knew what I was running away from. I just didn’t know what I was running towards. I had no idea that a tap on my shoulder would actually be my fate. How a couple of post-its would evolve and become the single most important messages in my life...”

“Emma,” Regina said softly. Just that.

“Before I met you, I thought that words were essential in a relationship,” Emma gently continued. “You taught me that it wasn’t. I’ve learned...so much from you. I’ve learned what it means to have a family. I’ve learned what love is. And I’ve learned how to love. Because of you, I’m a part of something bigger. Because of you, I’m the mother of the brightest ten year old I’ve ever met, and the sweetest little owl ever.”

Regina chuckled wetly.

“When I ran away from Toronto, I ran away from h-home,” Emma said. She was openly crying. “But I also found home. I was a lost girl, and you found me. Exactly how I found you. We find each other every single day, and I constantly discover new things I love about you. Yesterday it was the way you nibble on your lower lip when you concentrate, and today it’s the way you scrunch up your nose when Henry teases you. I don’t know what it’s gonna be tomorrow, but I know I can’t wait to find out.”

Regina sniffled and wiped her cheeks with the back of her hand.

“When you spoke at that event- I’ll never be over that, by the way- you said that you thought of the sun when you thought of me. Tonight I’m asking you to give me the chance to be the sun in your life f-forever,” Emma took a deep breath. “I’m asking you to be my home, my safe harbor, and in return I’ll love the hell out of you. I’ll make it my life’s mission to keep your heart safe. To be by your side no matter what, and make sure you know you’re loved every single day.” Emma’s hands trembled as she reached within the pocket of her coat and finally, finally, found that little velvet box she had kept hidden there for three days now. She popped the lid open, revealed the ring with the deep purple diamond that was nestled inside the velvet box. With some trouble she stood from the bench and knelt down on the small cramped space that made it out for the floor in the Ferris wheel wagon. And then she looked back up at Regina, smiled through her tears but made sure her voice was steady and strong as she asked the most important question in her life: “Regina Maria Mills. My soulmate. My home. Will you marry me?”

Regina stared speechless at the ring in the box. The ring her father once had given her mother. The ring she thought was gone forever. She was crying but smiling all the same, and even though it was a whisper, her voice was still completely audible as she said: “yes.”

“Yeah?” Emma asked, all thoughts of the speech she so neatly had prepared disappeared, and she became goofy for just a moment. And eager to confirm that she had heard correct the first time.

“Yes, Emma Swan,” Regina said with a voice that was thick from emotion. “Yes, I’ll marry you!”

Emma’s cheeks hurt from smiling that wide as she attempted to slide the ring on Regina’s finger like the age old tradition bade her. But there was just one problem...

“Oh,” she snickered. “Might wanna take your glove off, beautiful.”

“Oh,” Regina echoed, and her cheeks pinked so beautifully as she hastily ripped off her glove and lightly stretched out her bare hand.

Emma gently slid the ring on Regina’s left ring finger. It was a perfect fit. Of course it was. Emma had gotten the ring re-sized so it would fit Regina’s finger. “I love you,” she said as she pressed a kiss to Regina’s knuckles.

“I love you too!” Regina half-sobbed and her chin quivered as she smiled at Emma. “Come here!”

Emma rose from her kneeling position on the floor. Her knee made an audible clicking sound as she moved to sit next to Regina on the bench, and she almost made a bad joke about being too old to be on her knees. But she didn’t. She couldn’t. Not when Regina cupped her face so gentle and lovingly and then kissed her. Really kissed her. Emma could taste the saltiness of the fresh tears on Regina’s soft lips, and the blonde poured all her love into it as she kissed her....her fiancé. Holy shit, Regina was her fiancé! They were...They were going to get married. God! Emma had been so focused on delivering the perfect proposal. On putting her masterplan in action. But now... now she was fully grasping the fact that she and Regina were getting married. She wrapped her arms around Regina’s neck and deepened the kiss. She was only partially aware that the Ferris wheel had started to move again. She didn’t care. She just wanted to kiss Regina. And keep kissing and kissing and kissing her! She would never ever get enough of Regina’s kisses. Regina’s lips were still salty, and Emma guessed that the tears were still flowing. Happy tears. The best kind of tears. Regina still had her hands on her cheeks.

One bare and warm, and one glove-clad and leathery and Emma couldn’t help but laugh because it was a bit ridiculous. It felt like she was going to explode with happiness. Her chest was gonna crack and her heart was gonna pop right out. She was going to be Regina’s wife. Emma Swan-Mills. Or Emma Mills. That had a nice ring to it as well. Mrs. Emma Mills.

They didn’t stop before both of them were quite breathless. Regina was actually panting slightly when they finally parted. Emma didn’t move. Nor did she let go of Regina’s hand. The hand that was now carrying the ring. “I love you,” she said quite unnecessarily.

“I love...y-y-you too,” Regina said, and her voice trembled. She looked down at the ring now adorning her finger. “That’s....that’s the ring my father gave m-my mother. I thought I had lost it during the move from Montreal to Vancouver. How did you...?”

“Zelena,” Emma said simply and chuckled. “She had it.”

“Zelena?” Regina was confused. “I.... I don’t understand.”

Emma didn’t want to talk about *him* tonight, but she couldn’t see how else she could explain Zelena’s thievery. She wetted her lips. “When...When he was going to propose-“

“You can say Killian, my love,” Regina gently interrupted with a soft squeeze to Emma’s hand. “It’s completely fine. I won’t break. Nor will it ruin how happy I am.”

Emma squeezed back and then explained: “when Killian was going to propose to you, he asked Zelena if she knew where the ring your father gave your mother was. He wanted to use it. And Zelena... she told me she had a bad feeling, so she lied to him and told him that she didn’t know where the ring was. And then she went upstairs and err...took it from you. And held onto it. Until about seven months ago where she gave it to me.”

“She stole it,” Regina chuckled.

“Well, essentially. Yeah. She did.”

“And I’m glad she did,” Regina murmured. “This ring means so much to me. It shows how fiercely my father loved my mother, and I would have been heartbroken if Killian had been the one to use it to propose to me. The ring would have ended up symbolizing something terrible. It would have lost its meaning and I would have been heartbroken.” She gently stroked Emma’s cheek. “This ring was meant to be given to me by you and nobody else.”

“I love you,” Emma said again.

“I love you too, my darling,” Regina smiled and added as an afterthought: “fiancé.”

“I like that word a lot,” Emma grinned. “Tell me, did you really not see this coming?”

“No,” Regina said with a shake of her head. “I knew that something strange was going on tonight. I just couldn’t pinpoint what it was.”

Emma chuckled. “Gotcha!”

“Henry knows, doesn’t he?” Regina asked and Emma could almost hear the lightbulb switch on.

“Yeah. He does.”

“Of course he does,” Regina said with a laugh. “How long have you two been conspiring?”

“For a month.”

“A month?!”

“Yep. A month.

“My goodness...” Regina said and shook her head again. “A whole month?!”

Emma offered a light shrug. “I wanted it to be perfect.”

“It was,” Regina said softly and squeezed Emma’s hand. “It really was.”

They were slowly on their way down again, but suddenly their Ferris wheel moved entirely too fast. Regina gasped in sheer terror while Emma cursed and clutched at Regina’s hand for dear life. As their little Ferris wheel cabin moved entirely too fast through the air, Emma literally saw her life flash before her eyes. This was not how things were supposed to go, damnit!

“What the hell?!” she half-yelled, squeezing Regina’s hand tightly. She almost felt a bit nauseated now. And genuinely afraid that she was going to, you know, die in a Ferris wheel! She and Regina were literally squished together because of the high speed, and Emma’s hair was blowing in the wind.

But then, as quickly as it had begun, the Ferris wheel slowed down and began moving in a normal, slow pace. They were quite close to the ground now, and Emma could hear Billy curse loudly whilst yelling something to his assistant about the “wrong lever!”

“Jesus Christ!” Emma hissed, releasing the breath she had been holding.

“That just went from being the happiest moment in my life, to the most terrifying,” Regina said dully. She was as white as a sheet.

“Jesus Christ!” Emma repeated and released her tight grip on Regina’s hand. “Are you okay?!”

“I think so. Just give me a....moment to restart my heart,” Regina joked. “That scared the crap out of me.”

“Swear jar,” Emma meekly joked.

Regina laughed throatily.

“Please tell me this didn’t ruin the moment,” Emma begged.

“So, taking me for a spin was not a part of your plan?” Regina asked.

“No!” Emma spluttered and rushed to assure. “God no! I’d never-“

Regina interrupted her by laughing again. “I know, my love. I was just....kidding.”

“Oh,” Emma snickered too. “Well, that was pretty memorable, huh?”

Regina chuckled as she lightly put her hand over Emma’s. “Definitely memorable, darling.”

Emma grinned like an idiot as she looked down at the ring on Regina’s finger.

Regina tugged off her other glove, and Emma grinned again, because Regina looked a little silly wearing just one glove.

Their little cabin reached the ground, and Billy immediately started apologizing profusely as he opened the little metal gate for them. “I am so sorry about that! My assistant-“

“It was an accident,” Regina gently finished the sentence with a chuckle.

“And you didn’t ruin anything,” Emma added with a grin.

Billy visibly relaxed at that. Then he smiled as he glanced at Regina’s left hand. “Then I suppose a congratulations is in order?”

“It is,” Regina confirmed. “Thank you.”

He smiled as he held the metal gate open for them, and Emma and Regina rose from the little bench. Emma’s legs still felt a bit like jello as she followed Regina. Because she had been nervous, and because she thought she was going to die for a moment there. The two women wormed their way around the small queue, and they found Henry anxiously waiting for them near one of the benches.

“Moms!” he exclaimed so loudly Neal’s head popped up. He had been peacefully asleep in his pram. But Henry paid no attention to that as he hurried over to them.

“The Ferris wheel suddenly started spinning real fast!” Henry said wide eyed and worried. “What happened?!”

“Minor error. We’re fine,” Regina assured. “But I suddenly remembered why I don’t like heights.”

“Yeah, that was one hell of a ride,” Emma said a bit meekly. Seriously, she was still shaky.

Henry gave her a rather poignant look but didn’t say anything. He just waited impatiently.

Regina chuckled once more and assured their son: “I said yes, Henry. Don’t worry.”

A huge grin spread on Henry’s face, and he beamed as he looked at Emma. “You asked her!”

“I did,” Emma confirmed and grinned right back at her. “Good thing she said yes, huh?”

Regina gave her a nudge and scowled. “I do hope you’re not doubting my answer.”

“Actually, I was more nervous about screwing up,” Emma said truthfully.

“You didn’t,” Regina said softly. “You gave me the most perfect, romantic proposal, Emma, and I couldn’t be happier.” She turned her head and pecked Emma’s cheek lightly.

Emma blushed with happiness and pride as she wrapped an arm around Regina’s waist and gave her a soft squeeze.

“Operation Ferris wheel is done,” Henry said satisfied and grinned at his moms. “Now comes Operation Next Chapter.”

“The wedding?” Regina guessed and smiled as she lifted Neal out of the pram.

“Yup,” Henry confirmed. “Are you guys going to get married in a church?”

“A church?” Regina chuckled as she balanced Neal on her hip. “We’ve been engaged for five minutes, honey. I don’t think we’ve....thought about any of that yet. I know I haven’t.”

Henry shifted his focus to Emma. “Ma? Have you thought about where the wedding’s gonna be?”

“Not really,” Emma said lightly. “I’ve been thinking more about the honeymoon.” She said it without thinking much of it, and Regina raised an eyebrow, silently warning Emma about little ears present.

“Where I want to take you,” Emma quickly clarified. Nothing else, god no!

“Oh,” Regina said. “Do tell, my darling.”

“I actually have many suggestions,” Emma admitted now a bit sheepish. “And a whole list at home. Not that I was trying to decide where we were going beforehand-“

“I know, darling. I know,” Regina gently interrupted and took Emma’s hand. “You were just excited.”

“Exactly.”

Henry glanced down at Regina’s left hand, then looked up and grinned: “hey, mom?”

“Yes, sweetie?” Regina said.

“It suits you,” Henry smiled. “The ring. It looks nice on you.”

“Thank you, honey,” Regina beamed and released Emma’s hand to adjust Neal on her hip.

“Here, let me take him,” Emma said softly.

“Why?” Regina asked and raised an eyebrow.

“Because...” Emma quickly snatched their son out of Regina’s arms and adjusted him on her own hip. “I can see Zelena hastily approaching, and I can imagine she’ll shower you in both questions and hugs when she sees that rock on your finger.”

“Oh,” Regina followed Emma’s gaze. Zelena was indeed coming towards them, carrying a “pink bundle” in her arms and with Chad in tow.

“Hello there,” she said as she reached them, and she sounded a little stressed. “God, what a circus! Steveston is completely overrun by people tonight! We could barely find a parking spot, that’s why we’re running so late and-“

“May I say hello to my niece now?” Regina interrupted and chuckled.

“Yes, yes, of course,” Zelena said as she quickly placed the one month old baby in Regina’s arms. “Please do take her. My arms are getting tired!”

Regina chuckled again as she gently rocked the little baby in her arms. “Hello there, Robyn. I think you’ve grown since the....last time I saw you. Yes, I do, yes I do!”

While she was engaged with “babying” the baby, Emma and Henry were given hugs and hello’s by Zelena and Chad. It didn’t take long before Zelena stated that she was freezing.

“Yes, we’ve talked about maybe it would be better to head back to ours,” Regina chirped in. “We’ve already been here for a while, and the temperature is dropping.”

“That sounds like a good idea,” Chad said and glanced at baby Robyn. “I don’t want little Rob-Rob to get cold.”

Zelena scowled. “What did I tell you about calling her that?!”

“Not to,” Chad said nonchalantly while Emma and Henry laughed. “But Robyn was your idea. I think it’s more than fair that I get to chose her nicknames. Isn’t that right, Robbie?”

The baby cooed sleepily in Regina’s arms, and Regina brought her left hand up so she could tickle Robyn’s cheek. “There’s a good girl, Robbie.”

“Not you too! I’m serious, Regina, do not call her-“ Zelena trailed off as her gaze landed on the ring on Regina’s left ring finger.

“Five, four...” Henry chuckled. “Three, two, o-“

“What. Is. That?” Zelena said slowly.

“That would be Mother’s old ring,” Regina said cheekily.

“I can see that it’s Mother’s ring,” Zelena scowled. “I’m asking what it’s doing on your finger?”

Emma laughed as she wrapped an arm around Regina’s waist again. “I might have taken Regina on a ride in the Ferris wheel. And then I might have asked Billy to stop the Ferris wheel when we reached the top. I also might have delivered a long speech and by the end of it asked Regina a very important question...”

“A question I said yes to,” Regina added with a smile.

There was a moment of silence, and then Zelena almost screeched: “oh my god! You’re getting married!” she immediately proceeded to hug Emma tightly. “Congratulations!”

“Thanks,” Emma grinned as she hugged Zelena back.

After having hugged Emma sufficiently (and squeezing her a little too hard), Zelena turned her attention to Regina and commanded: “give Chad the baby, little sister.”

Regina didn’t have much of a choice. She handed baby Robyn over to Chad and had to live through Zelena hugging her thoroughly.

“I’m so happy for you!” Zelena exclaimed as she squeezed Regina.

“Yes, I can sense that,” Regina joked as she patted her sister’s back. “Are you done now?”

“Nope,” Zelena said plainly and kept hugging Regina.

“Okay then.”

Chad chuckled as he patted Emma’s shoulder. “Congratulations.”

“Thanks,” Emma grinned. Regina appeared to be drowning in Zelena’s affection.

Finally, Zelena released her grip on Regina. “So, when’s it gonna be? How did she propose? I want to know everything.”

Emma laughed again. “I proposed the old fashioned way, Zee.”

“You went down on one knee?” Zelena asked and looked like she was going to fawn.

“Of course I did,” Emma said lightly and modestly.

“It was perfect!” Regina added and flashed Emma a beaming smile.

“You said something about a Ferris wheel?” Zelena asked.

“Mmm,” Regina answered while her hand sought Emma’s and found it. “Emma proposed on the Ferris wheel.”

Zelena ooh’ed and ahh’ed and then turned to Chad. “Take notes, my dear.”

“I thought you didn’t want to get married?” Chad half-laughed.

“Perhaps I changed my mind,” Zelena shot back. She turned her attention back to Emma and Regina. “So, when’s the big day gonna be?”

“We have no idea,” Emma laughed and squeezed Regina’s hand.

“We haven’t exactly...planned anything yet,” Regina added. She seemed more interested in looking at Emma than looking at her sister.

“You know what could be awfully romantic?” Zelena said excitedly.

“What?” Regina asked and raised an eyebrow.

“If you got married at Christmas,” the redhead said dreamily.

Emma guffawed while Regina scoffed unimpressed. “Zelena, Christmas is two months away.”

“You want a long engagement then?” Zelena asked, completely unphased.

“I don’t know. We haven’t discussed anything,” Regina said, mildly irritated now. “We’ve been engaged for five minutes.”

“Tell you what, why don’t I stop by tomorrow with some wedding magazines?” Zelena continued. Clearly nothing could quell her excitement. “It’s never too early to be on the look out for dresses. You’re going to wear white, aren’t you?”

“I’m not exactly a blushing virgin.”

“Moo-ooom!” Henry protested and covered his ears. “I don’t wanna hear that kind of stuff.”

Emma grinned and gave Regina a little nudge. She was so cute when she got all irritated with Zelena.

“I’m sorry, honey,” Regina amended and continued: “since I haven’t been married before, I do believe I’m going to...wear white.”

“Perfect,” Zelena said and turned to Emma. “Are you planning on wearing white?”

“Yeah,” Emma said and dis-entangled her fingers from Regina’s so she could slip an arm around her fiancés shoulder. “I’m definitely counting on that.”

“Wonderful!” Zelena said with a wide smile. “I cannot to help you with planning everything.”

“I don’t mind going through wedding magazines with you,” Regina said softly. “Or hearing your opinions. But I’d like if we can keep things...grounded. Slow, if you will. I’ve never had the chance to plan my wedding. Not really. And I’ve certainly never had the pleasure of doing it with my fiancé. I would like to enjoy that.”

Now Zelena’s smile was gentler, and her voice much somber as she said: “of course. I understand that. Feel free to tell me off if I’m going overboard. I’m just... so happy for you. For both of you.”

“Thank you,” Regina said softly and smiled at her sister. “I couldn’t be happier.”

“Me neither,” Emma said and squeezed Regina’s waist slightly. “And I cannot wait to go through every last wedding magazine with you.”

Regina chuckled lightly, then asked: “do you want a long engagement or a shorter one, my love?”

“I want whatever makes you happy, babe.” Emma said truthfully. “That’s the main thing. As long as you’re happy, I’m happy too. Long engagement, short engagement, it doesn’t matter. I can wait for a year. Or two years or three. Or five or ten. Or I could marry you tomorrow if that’s what you want.”

Regina looked a bit misty eyed as she chuckled, but before she could get emotional, Henry interrupted: “can I be the ringbearer?”

Regina flashed him a warm smile, and Emma grinned as she said: “yeah, sure thing, Frodo.”

“We have to tell David tomorrow,” Regina said softly.

“Mmm,” Emma nodded. “I’ll invite him and Kathryn to the wedding, but I don’t want anybody to walk me down the aisle. Is that okay?”

“Of course,” Regina said. “I don’t want anyone to walk me down the aisle either. No one is giving me away to anybody. I’m choosing this on my own.”

“That’s my girl,” Emma half-chuckled as she leaned in and gave Regina a quick kiss.

Henry wrinkled his nose in mock disgust. “Aunt Z, they won’t stop kissing!”

“I don’t think they’ll stop tonight, nephew of mine,” Zelena chuckled. “Cut them some slack. They’ve just gotten engaged.”

“Aaaalriiight,” he groaned. “I’ll pretend I can’t see it. But only for tonight.”

“Thanks kid,” Emma chuckled and gave Regina another kiss as all five of them, and Neal, headed back towards their house to have coffee and warm up. Zelena chitchatted, but Emma paid more attention to Regina and the way she was smiling.

 

 

Emma had actually had a plan about seducing her beautiful fiancé that night, but the plan was busted. Zelena and Chad stayed for quite a while. Or, Zelena did. At some point, Chad wished them a good night and drove home with baby Robyn so she could get some proper rest. Zelena kept hanging around, and it was well past eleven before she finally called a taxi, hugged them and then said her goodbye, “warning” them that she would be back tomorrow.

Both Emma and Regina were utterly exhausted when they finally could retire to the bedroom. It felt like every joint and muscle in Emma’s body had gone liquid, and she moaned a bit as she finally, finally settled down with her head against the pillow. A moment later, Regina came into the bedroom wearing her grey silk pajamas. Her face had been scrubbed free of makeup and she still managed to look completely radiant.

“Come here,” Emma sleepily rumbled and outstretched a hand towards her.

Regina snickered as she took the hand being offered to her, and soon she was laying in Emma’s arms. Being the little spoon as she always was.

“Happy?” Emma asked. Just to check.

“More than I ever could have imagined,” Regina replied and twisted the ring on her finger.

“It suits you,” Emma murmured against her fiancé’s hair.

“It does,” Regina agreed with a soft chuckle. She turned so they were looking at each other. “We’re getting married,” she breathed.

“We sure are, beautiful,” Emma smiled. “And if Zelena gets too much, we’ll elope to Vegas and do it without her.”

“She would never forget us,” Regina laughed.

But Emma didn’t. Instead she groaned. “Damn.”

“What?” Regina asked, raising an eyebrow at once.

“I had these wicked plans about seducing you tonight,” Emma confessed. “But then Zelena happened, and now we’re both...”

“Too tired,” Regina finished the sentence with another chuckle. “Yes. It’s been quite the day.”

“I’ll seduce you tomorrow!” Emma said almost darkly.

“Or perhaps I’ll seduce you,” Regina smirked. “How about that?”

“Mmm,” Emma hummed. “That sounds good, lovely.”

Regina smirked again as she gently traced her fingers along Emma’s cheekbone. “Do you really have a list....over honeymoon destinations?”

“Mmm,” Emma admitted. “But only a small one.”

“I want to read it tomorrow,” Regina said plainly.”

“Of course. Where do YOU wanna go?” Emma asked curiously. “The sky’s the limit.”

Regina chuckled and then went quiet for a moment. She was clearly thinking about it, so Emma gave her time to do that and busied herself with playing with the brunette’s hair.

“I’ve always wanted to see Paris,” Regina said after a moment.

“Paris, mon chérie?” Emma quipped. “Oh la la.”

“You’re silly.”

Emma ignored that. “That’s actually on my list too.”

“Seriously?”

“Mmm. You have good taste, Mills. And I’d say that Paris is a pretty good suggestion for a honeymoon.”

“We’ll have to talk more about that tomorrow,” Regina hummed as she curled up in Emma’s arms.

“Agreed.” Emma dropped a kiss on her forehead. “Goodnight, beautiful.”

“Goodnight, my darling.”

 

*******

 

When Emma woke up the following morning, it was to an empty bed. Regina “had gone missing”.

Emma sat up in bed, rubbed her eyes and then called: “Regina?” because this wasn’t exactly how she had hoped to start the morning. She had hoped to kiss Regina awake.

There was no answer, but Emma found something on the bedside table. A yellow post-it note. Oh. Interesting. She fumbled and grabbed her glasses. Then grabbed the note and blinked so she could read it:

 

‘Dear fiancé of mine,

Please come downstairs when you wake up.

Love,

Regina.’

 

“Interesting,” Emma grinned to herself as she studied the note one more time. Regina had even made a little heart at the bottom of the note. The blonde aww’ed out lout as she hopped out of bed and grabbed her bathrobe on her way out of the bedroom. She shrugged it on, belted it and then rushed downstairs.

Regina was waiting for her. She was sitting by the kitchen table. Emma stopped in the doorway and stared. The table was set with a beautiful table cloth, the fancy china and an enormous bouquet of red roses in a vase. And a plate with an enormous stack of golden, crispy, chocolate chip pancakes. Regina’s specialty, and Emma’s favorite. But usually saved for special occasions. Not Saturdays. But then again, today WAS a special occasion. The most special occasion ever! Emma inhaled through her nose. Mmm! The kitchen smelled absolutely fantastic. Of freshly brewed coffee and homemade pancakes. It smelled of home.

“Good morning,” Regina said with a smile.

“Good morning. You...you made breakfast,” Emma said lamely. “And bought me roses.”

“I did,” Regina confirmed with a grin. “I also cancelled Zelena. I explained that I wanted to spend the day with my fiancé. She understood that.”

“Where’s...Where’s the boys?” Emma asked completely dumbfounded.

“Henry is at Nick’s, and Neal is with Eugenia,” Regina told her. “I love them dearly, but I wanted to be alone with you today. Is that okay?”

“Uhm, yeah!” Emma laughed. “It’s fucking more than okay!”

“Good. Are you hungry?”

“Always.”

Regina tutted adorably and smoothened a hand over her bathrobe. “Of course you are.”

Emma grinned. “You wrote me a post-it note.”

“I did,” Regina confirmed and her dark eyes gleamed. “You like my post-its notes, don’t you?”

“You know it,” Emma laughed. “And you drew me a little heart too!”

“Did I?” Regina asked with a mighty poor imitation of surprise.

“You totally did.”

“Interesting,” the brunette said with false wonder in her eyes. “Why did I ever do that?”

Emma chuckled.

“Let’s have breakfast,” Regina said briskly. “Sit down, my love.” she rose from her chair and went over to the kitchen counter to fetch the coffee.
Instead of sitting down, Emma followed her. Caught up with her and gently wrapped her arms around her fiancé’s waist. “You didn’t have to do all this,” she murmured as she buried her nose in Regina’s soft tresses and breathed in her scent. Regina always smelled so amazing in the morning.

“I wanted too,” Regina said softly. “I don’t know how much it is compared to everything you did to me yesterday, but-“

“It’s everything,” Emma softly assured as she nuzzled her nose against Regina’s neck and then planted a kiss there. “You’re everything.”

Regina exhaled and leaned back against the touch. “This is the ultimate.”

“What is?” Emma murmured with her lips still near Regina’s neck.

“Ever since we started dating, you’ve been replacing every bad touch and experience in my life with something beautiful. Now you’ve made me look forward to planning our wedding. This ring on my finger doesn’t feel like chains. It feels like freedom.”

Emma kissed her neck once more. “I love you.”

“And I, you,” Regina said as she spun around and planted a kiss on Emma’s lips.

“Good morning, fiancé,” Emma said a bit goofily as she lightly twisted the ring on Regina’s finger.

“Good morning, fiancé,” Regina echoed and smiled as she turned around again, leaned back against Emma once more and then looked out of the window. “You know what I think?”

“No. What do you think?” Emma asked as she wrapped her arms around her fiancé’s waist.

“I think it’s gonna be a beautiful day,” Regina softly murmured and moved her hand, so it was resting on top of Emma’s.

“You know what I think?” Emma said as she lowered her mouth and planted another kiss on the side of Regina’s neck. “I think you’re absolutely right.”

With that she gently spun Regina around once more. She cupped her cheeks and looked into those deep dark eyes. And she saw everything she could ever hope for. Happiness. Hope. Excitement. And love. Regina’s eyes were overflowing with love as she stood there and smiled at Emma.

Emma smiled too as she bowed her head and kissed her fiancé’s lips once more. Not just a peck this time. A new day had begun. Another day with Regina. And maybe... Just maybe she would start it with seducing Regina right here, in this kitchen.

Regina's sweet laughter filled her ears when Emma revealed her wicked plans. There were talk about the pancakes. How they would get cold. How the coffee would get cold. But in the end, they ended up in the bedroom once more. Clothes were discarded, and soon enough Emma found herself on top of Regina. Kissing her. Loving her. And there nimble fingers on her back. Fingers writing 'I love you' on her naked back, because Regina's lips were otherwise engaged and she couldn't speak because of it, and Emma smiled down at her fiancé, because of all the different ways they communicated, this was one of her favorite ways. One of her favorite ways to hear Regina's voice in the silence.

 

The End