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Love. What is love?

That’s what I thought about for hours while trying to write a love letter for someone I didn’t even know.

It shouldn’t be that difficult, I am a smart girl that read a lot of romances. But right now, I feel like all my smartness means nothing. When did a simple question become so difficult to me?

I’m used to doing my classmates' work when they aren't bullying me — which is less than two days a week. Apparently, they’re too busy trying to enjoy their life to worry about school work. Something I should be doing as well, but it’s not like I have time anyway.

My mother died when I was four in a car crash, I don’t even remember her. And since then, my father is too depressed to remember he has a daughter and a house to keep. So I’m part-time working at the train station. All my free time is to do things for school or read a book.

I don’t get too much money, but it’s enough to don’t starve to death or become homeless.

So, I have never had time for love. And I think I am too young — Juliet was dying of love when she was younger than me. But I’m too smart for that.

When Graham appeared at the train station and asked if I could write a love letter, I said yes. Of course. My payment wouldn’t be enough this month and I wasn’t doing much for my classmates. He offered 50$ and I thought he was very stupid. Who, in all their right mind, would pay 50$ for a love letter? But who am I to judge someone? I am not refusing money, anyway. 

But I didn’t expect it to be this hard. I promised to give him the letter in a week and I am not being successful at all. 

I know what love is supposed to mean. It’s the deepest emotion we can experience. Something that controls us — which is desperate. Some say it’s the most powerful magic of all, capable of doing amazing and unexplained things. And people talk about love in many ways. But one of the most curious one is love at first sight. How can you fall in love with someone you just met? How can you feel the deepest emotion in that way? People are weird.

Two days passed and nothing came into my mind. At this point, I was thinking that only people who felt love could be capable of writing about love. Then, I decided I needed to do something. I was going to watch this girl and perhaps, it would be enough to write this letter. Regina Mills.

Who’s Regina Mills? We have literature classes together but I have never seen her. Luckily, tomorrow we’re having literature and everything will just take place.

Before going to bed, I decided to check Regina’s facebook page. She’s a pretty girl, not gonna lie. I can see why Graham is interested in her. She has black hair, brown eyes and a scar on her lips — what I think it can be a charm.

My dad was asleep in the next room, due to the medications he was taken. I fed our cat and she was already waiting for me on my bed.

“I know you’re tired, Roni. I am too.” I said, yawning and stroking her. She purred while I took my place in the bed, lying next to my belly. “Good night, baby girl.”

***

Mornings are always too hard, my dad never wants to eat and I can’t go to school until he decides to eat something. It’s very complicated and I’m always preparing myself for bad news. He’s the only family I have left and I need to leave him alone for hours. A lot of things can happen when I’m not around.

Today wasn’t different and I’m sure I’m going to be late for my first class, which is the one I couldn’t lose today, but that’s okay.

“Dad,” I tried, putting the bowl with milk in front of him. “You need to eat.” He didn’t say anything, his opaque eyes fixed in the window. “Please.”

“Go call your mom.” He whispered and I sighed, every single day was the same.

“Dad, mom is not here. She’s traveling, don’t you remember?” I know I’m a bad daughter for lying to him, but I can’t stand to say that she is dead. And it’s easier to make him feel better when he doesn’t remember the truth. “But we can talk to her later, okay? Just eat a little, please.” He finally looked at me, nodding.

“Okay.” And started to eat, I breathed in relief.

Roni was sitting on the couch when I walked through the door, she meowed at me.

“Take care of him for me, uh? I’ll be back soon.” I pet her. “Here we go again.”

Luckily, I wasn’t late for Literature class. I took my seat in the back of the room. Regina wasn’t here yet, or the teacher for that matter.

“Good morning, class.” Ms. Rose said, entering the room. “Today we’re going to make a report of Wuthering Heights, you can sit in pairs since we have only a few copies available in our library. So, please, choose your pairs.” She said and I saw everyone reuniting until I was the only one alone. “Sadly Ms. Swan, I think you are going to do it on your own.”

“Sorry, I’m late.” Regina said, crossing the door with her breath out of track.

“Ms. Mills, you know I don’t tolerate delays.” Ms. Rose scolded her. “Sit with Ms. Swan.”

“Sorry.” Regina murmured. “Hi.” She said to me. “What are we supposed to do?”

I opened my mouth but couldn’t force the words out. She kept her eyes on me, curiously. But I forgot how to speak.

“Hi.” It was all I managed to say and Regina gave me a smile.

“So…?” She raised her eyebrow.

“W-what?” I asked, feeling my cheeks burning.

“What are we going to do?” She repeated and I felt stupid.

“Oh! Right.” I took the copy of Wuthering Heights that Ms. Rose left on my desk and showed her. “We need to do a report.”

Wuthering Heights. Easy breezy.” She laughed. “One of my favorites.”

“One of mine, too.” I shrugged.

“Isn't my ideal of love, but I like the way they’re human, you know? When he says ‘Be with me always - take any form - drive me mad! Only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you! Oh, God! It is unutterable!-”

“I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!” I completed and she looked at me with curious eyes. “I feel you. Even when I can’t see how someone can love another person this way. I feel them.”

“I can’t say that their love is an example because it is sadistic, selfish and sick. But they feel so human, something we don't find in many romances.” She commented and I hated myself for being so attentive to everything she was saying. But it was important to know her vision of love, it would help me to do my job in the best way.

Seriously, I need to write a love letter for her. There’s nothing better than knowing what she thinks of love before doing it.

“You are right. People are always writing about how sweet love can be, how it makes butterflies fly in our stomach and all that light-hearted bullshit.” I commented. “What people know about love is their expectations due to what they consume in love stories and that’s never real.”

“I see you know a lot about love.”

“I do not, really. All I know is that I’m running from it. Always.” I made a joke, but she didn’t laugh.

“Oh. Why so? Did somebody break your heart or something?” She asked, and opened the book.

“Nah. I just don’t think love is for someone like me.” I shrugged.

“Me either. But I’m not running from it.” Regina said. “I’m too young for that.”

We focused on doing our work, no need to read the book again since we knew where were the parts we wanted to put on. At the end of the class, I was getting ready to go to my next classroom when I forgot we did not introduce ourselves. 

“Oh, by the way, my name is-”

“Em-ma." She said, separating the syllables and my mouth went dry. “I know you.”

“I-I thought you never noticed me.” I said, blushing.

“We’ve been studying in the same class for over three months, I see you.” She shrugged.

“Right.” I put my backpack on my back, anxious to get out of here. “See you then, Regina.”

“Apparently, I’m not the only one here.” She teased. “You have noticed me.”

“I-I must have.” My cheeks were burning in flames. What the hell was going on?

“Goodbye, Emma.” She was looking into my eyes when she said my name and a shiver ran through my body. I just gave her a smile and ran. I needed to get away from her.

***

“What the hell was going on?” I asked and my company kept her blue eyes on me, following me while I walked side to side in my room. “I mean, we never talked before! And now I think about that and my hands freeze! How is that even possible? What is that?” Roni meowed at me. “I don’t know, Roni. I don’t know. But I should be able to write something now, don’t you think? I know a little about her — enough to know how she sees love.”

I tried. I looked at the blank papel for 30 minutes until I gave up.

What was going to happen anyway since I heard my dad sobbing in his room. He was never able to make it through my mother’s death. I think they’re the reason I don’t like the idea of love.

My parents have been together since high school and they loved each other with their souls. I can’t stand being in love with someone I can lose or having my own happiness depending on someone other than me. Love does that with people.

“Dad, I’m here.” I said, entering his room. The first time I saw him this way, I panicked. But I learned too soon that someone needed to take care of him and since we’re alone, well, this person is me.

“Where is she, Emma?” He asked me, sobbing. “Why isn’t she here? Did she leave me? Oh, God.”

I remember when I said the truth, I said she was dead and then I had to call an ambulance because he tried to kill himself. Since then, I keep lying to him, saying she’s traveling and we are going to talk to her soon. Sometimes it is enough to calm him down, but not always… He just cries and falls asleep. It breaks my heart.

“She’s going to Paris, don’t you remember?” I said, laying next to him. “She’s probably flying right now, but we’re going to talk to her when she arrives.”

“Paris? She's going to love Paris.” He whispered.

“I know, right? So why don’t you have some sleep now? When you wake up, we can call her.” I tried and he didn’t resist.

I know I’m a terrible daughter. I shouldn’t be lying to him. Every time it happens — which is at least two times a day —, I come up with a fictional story. Mom has traveled all over the world at this point and she’s always living amazing adventures.

My dad is mentally ill and he should be doing some treatment, but we can barely pay our bills. Psychological treatment is expensive and he’s been sick for so long that I don’t know if there’s any hope for him. We can pay for his medicine, but we can’t afford a resting home. But I think he's getting worse, maybe I have to get enough money so we don't starve and try to take him to the doctor to change the medication. Another good reason to write that damn letter.

My dad was sleeping when I slipped off his room and Roni was waiting for me next to his door.

“We’re tired, aren’t we?” She meowed and I took her in my arms. “Let’s have some rest, princess.”

***

Today is not my day.

Definitely, every single deity in the universe conspired against me today. It all started with my dad having a panic attack and I had to send him to the hospital. How am I going to afford that? No idea.

I can’t lose classes, especially when I’m trying to be the best student so I can get a scholarship. I’m doing very well, at least in a part of my life, I’m doing well.

It’s a funny thing when you’re in high school and people hate you for being… you. Seriously, I do nothing and still have to deal with bullies. What is an ironic thing since eventually they’re going to need me and I, well, what can I do but accept their work?

I have no friends and I used to feel for that in the past. But now? I’m just too grateful to care. People are mean. They are harmful. And you’re going to get your face punched just by existing. So what do we do? Nothing. Schools do nothing. So why should we care?

Unfortunately, I was so unlucky today — I couldn’t stop thinking about my father —, and I couldn’t see her coming into my direction.

“Watch your way, weirdo.” She said but I didn't even have time to react before her fist hit my face.

My schoolmates did nothing, as expected. Great day. Ella was standing in front of me, I could taste my blood in my mouth.

“Sorry.” I managed to say. That’s what they do: they punish you and you say sorry, like it’s your fault. She laughed and I could hear everyone whispering around me, but nobody did anything. I felt like an animal being put on display in a zoo. Which was not so different since the caregivers beat them up to dominate them and then have what they want. I was giving what Ella wanted: power and fear.

“Leave her alone.” I heard a voice standing out among the students and almost thought I was delusional.

“Or what?” Ella laughed and I held my head to see Regina coming to me.

“Are you okay?” She asked me, lifting my chin to check my injury. I looked at Ella and could see, for the first time, the purple stain on her blouse. Apparently, the punch wasn't just for hitting her.

“Oh, your girlfriend came to save the day!” Ella provoked and some people laughed. “I think I should punch her too so you can match each other and she may learn to step out of my way!” She hissed.

“I am not afraid of you, Ella.” Regina said firmly.

“You’re brave, Mills. Better watch out from now on.” She threatened and I was quiet, not knowing how to react. Ella turned, called her friends and left, then the crowd dispersed.

“Are you okay?” Regina repeated and I stared at her.

“I’m fine.” I shrugged.

“I’m so sorry.” She lamented, her brown eyes focused on me, showing her worry. “We should go to the nursery, you need to put some ice on it.”

“No, no. It will be fine.” I tried to ensure her. I have painkillers in my bag, if it gets bad, I can take it.

“Are you sure?” Regina asked and my cheeks burned. I’m not used to having people paying too much attention to me.

“Yeah, sure.” I shrugged. “Regina-” I tried to say, but I couldn’t get the words out.

“Yes?” Ugh, I hate how emotional I get when everything I want to do is run away and hide. I could feel my eyes watering and I bowed my head so she wouldn't see. Too late. “Emma?”

“I just wanted to say thank you. For Ella, you know.” I whispered. 

“You don’t need to. Really, I hate to see what she does to others, it pisses me off that nobody does anything to stop her.” She was kind of revolted. “But it’s that everything? You seem like you are needing to talk with someone.”

“No, I’m okay.” I hurried. “We’re going to be late. Thank you again, bye.” I said and could feel her eyes on my back when I left.

If I thought that would be all, I hardly knew how wrong I was. Miss Rose, in addition to our literature teacher, was our advisor. And when she showed up at the door of my biology class, I knew the worst was yet to come.

“Sorry to interrupt, Mrs. Dallas, but can I get Miss Swan for a moment?” She said and after my teacher nodded in agreement, I got up and walked silently to the door.

“Have you gone to the nursery, darling? Your face is pretty bad.” She said and I knew she knew the answer.

“No.” I answered while we walked in the doorway. She opened the door of her room.

“Take a seat, please.” She pointed at the chair in front of her desk. “I’m aware of what happened earlier, but I want to hear your version of the story.”

“It was my fault. I hit Ella and she spilled juice in her blouse.” I said, looking at my fingers.

“Oh. And it justifies your face injury?” She frowned and I felt so small. “I may need your father to come here, Miss Swan.”

“Okay.” I said, like every single time she told me the same, knowing that my father wouldn’t be able to do that.

“And this time, I really mean it.” As if she was reading my mind, she said and I gave a tired sigh. "Or I will be forced to contact the social service."

I didn’t tell her David was in the hospital, something told me that would make things worse. So I promised I’ll bring my father and she dismissed me.

Is there any way it can be worse? Universe, I’m just commenting, you don’t need to take it as a challenge, please.

*** 

I tried to do my best to keep myself out of troubles the rest of the morning. So, when I was leaving for work, Graham showed up and I had almost forgotten that I’m on deadline.

“How is the letter going, Swan?” He asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Almost done.” I answered, however it wasn’t true.

“Good! I’m excited to get Regina’s heart.” I almost rolled my eyes. Someone who can’t write their own love letters shouldn’t be dating anyone. But I am in no position to judge him. “She’s the prettiest girl I have ever seen.” He said and when I followed his eyes, Regina was there, looking at us. “She’s looking at me.” He sighed.

“If you don’t mind, I gotta go.” I replied, anxious for him to stop talking. He didn’t even look at me again, just kept staring at Regina and sighing.

Work was the only quiet thing in my day, without many surprises. And when I got home, the appalling silence made me want to run. It had been some time since my father had had a panic attack, the doctors explained, but I couldn't understand where they came from or what I could do to prevent them. Sometimes the medication would fail and things would happen, like today. They asked me to keep him under observation in the psychiatric ward and even without knowing exactly what I was going to do, I accepted. I was afraid to take him home and something even worse happened.

I was tired. Sometimes things get too heavy. After I took a shower, I lay in bed with Roni and while I caressed her, listening to her purring, I allowed myself to cry. Being alone after a rough day was hard, I missed having someone to tell me that everything is going to be okay.

What will I do when my father is unable to attend school? It is not even because he is in the hospital, but he was never able to attend school meetings. However, this had been the first time that Ms. Rose had threatened the social service. What would happen if she actually called them? I have no idea. But I know enough to know that I need to have a responsible guardian before the state, but as far as I know, it's just the two of us. It has been like this forever. What will happen to me if the social service hears about my situation? I'm only seventeen! But worst of all, what will happen to my father?

I allowed myself to cry until my eyes were too heavy to stay open. I put all my worries aside and fell asleep, hoping to find a place in my subconscious away from school, Ella, the hospital bills and a certain letter that needs to be written as soon as possible. Now, more than never.

Partially, the universe granted me a truce. I haven’t dreamed of any of this, but Regina showed up. I don’t usually dream about people — probably because I don’t know a lot of people. So when she showed up, it was strange.

She was holding my hands and I was not feeling nervous at all, it was like we’re used to doing it. We weren’t at school, but somewhere into the woods. I never went to a place like that, I don’t know how my mind was able to create it. We were in a small clearing, next to a lake, sun shining through the trees, a sweet breeze ruffling Regina's hair. I felt at peace, I didn't even remember the last time I felt that way. Suddenly, Regina turned to me and I felt my heart stop beating.

“You have no idea how much I have waited for this moment.” She said, looking at me in the same way people look at their loved ones in those romantic movies. But before I could say anything, I woke up.

My alarm clock was ringing and Roni was meowing at the bedroom door.

"What was this?" I wondered, noticing my irregular breathing.

I almost forgot that my father was not at home and that I would have to go to the hospital before going to work. But while I was making my way to school, I kept trying to find an excuse to give to Ms. Rose. And I needed to find one quickly, I have literature class on my first period today.

Which means I’m going to see Ms. Rose earlier than I wished. And I’m going to see Regina.

I don’t know why the thought of seeing her suddenly makes me nervous. And I haven’t thought of that until now.

Well, what if I skip a class for today? Just my first period wouldn’t ruin my perfect grade, would? I think it’s normal and even healthy sometimes, I never did because I never had something more interesting to do but focus on my future. But today I do. I need an excuse.

So, instead of going to Ms. Rose's class, I walked to the library. It would be a great place to try to find a way out of my problem. And time flew by while my mind went round and round but found no solution. Maybe I should be honest, say that my dad is hospitalized but that I would bring him as soon as he was discharged. Maybe it wasn't so bad. Ms. Rose is always kind to me, maybe she can understand.

To be honest, I don’t have much choice and I don’t think that lying is going to make things better. Although I came here to find one, all my mind could come up with was: tell her the truth.

And with this thought, I walked to her class when the bell rang, announcing the end of the period. I waited for everyone to come out so I could have a talk with her in privacy. But I didn’t see Regina in the back of the room.

“Emma.” She said when I entered and I almost turned around, but Ms. Rose looked at me and I froze.

“Good to see you, Ms. Swan. We have to talk.” She said and I bowed my head. Regina came closer, touched my arms and I felt electrical currents passing between our skin.

“Can we talk?” She asked, trying to look me in the eyes, but I just nodded. “I’ll wait for you, then.” And walked out.

“So, where’s your father?” Ms. Rose asked when we’re alone.

“Actually, he’s in the hospital.” I said, quickly. “He had a panic attack and the doctor thought it was better to him if he stayed in observation.”

“Ms. Swan, why haven’t you told me anything? I’m your advisor.” She said and there it was: the look of pity that I always wanted to avoid and that's why I didn't talk about my father. “I'm sorry, but I know it's just you both and I know your dad's condition — that's why he never comes to meetings. But I need you to have a legal guardian. Is there no one in the family that you can contact?” I shook my head and regretted it immediately. “So I need to call the social service. I'm sorry, Emma, but it's part of my duty as a teacher.”

If I could go back in time, I would have lied.

 

Regina was waiting for me outside the room. "Are you okay?" She asked and I started walking outside, I needed to get some air. My life was about to turn around and I didn't know how I was going to deal with it. She followed me, looking at me with concern.

"Yes, I just need some fresh air." I said, but I could hear my voice breaking due to the lump in my throat.

"Do you want to get out of here?" She asked me and I thought for a few seconds. Why not? Then I shook my head in response. "I know of a place that will do you good." And she guided me in silence behind the school, until we entered the forest and any other day, I wouldn't be doing that. “We are here.” She said and I watched the place. It was very similar to my dream and it made my stomach turn, but it didn't have the lake.

“It’s beautiful.” I whispered and felt her getting closer.

“I know. I used to come here when I needed to run from the world.” Regina said, I turned to look at her and she had her eyes closed, feeling the breeze, she sighed and I looked away.

“Thank you. Again.” She looked at me and touched my arm another time.

“Do you want to talk about it?” She asked, so quietly that I almost couldn't hear it.

My mind went into conflict and I didn't know if I wanted to speak or not, but I felt myself walking on the edge of the abyss and I needed to open up to someone. Any normal person wouldn't do that to someone they just met, who didn't even know if they could trust. But I told her everything, from mom’s death to what was happening. We ended up sitting side by side and I played with the grass while telling Regina everything that was about to explode. She listened to me in silence, she was a good listener. And as I let things go, I felt a little better.

“Woah. It's too much.” She said when I finished telling her. “I'm really sorry for all of this, Emma, really.” She put her hand over mine, squeezing slightly, and my breath caught in my throat. “If there's anything I can do to help you…”

“Okay, thanks.” I removed my hand gently so as not to embarrass her. "You heard me and that's enough." She looked at me and smiled kindly, I could feel the wings of the butterflies dancing in my stomach. What was happening? "I-I think I need to go." I said, getting up and running my hand to line up my clothes. "I'm not going back to school today, so I'm going to see my dad." I gave the first excuse I found, knowing that my father had a fixed time for visits.

"Do you want me to go with you?" She volunteered, already getting up. 

"No!" I got a little excited, nervous about the possibility of spending more time with her. "I mean, no." Said a little softer. "He doesn't react very well with people he doesn't know." This was not a lie.

"OK then. Let’s go back." She said, taking the lead for the way back. We left behind the school and I stopped to look at her.

"Thanks." I said and she laughed.

"You need to stop thanking me, I didn't do anything." She responds, looking me in the eyes.

“You did.” I shrugged.

“Okay, then. You’re welcome, darling.” Darling. She called me darling. I can feel my cheeks burning and she’s seeing it because she’s looking at me. Oh my God.

“I-I need to go.” She laughed, she probably noticed. “See you later.”

“See you, darling.” She said again and I’m sure she was teasing me. But I couldn’t react, so I just walked away. I could feel her eyes on my back.

I got home and went straight to the kitchen, I needed water. Regina called me darling and my hands started to sweat just at the memory. I need to write and deliver that letter, so I can start running away from her and act like nothing has happened.

I took a pen and paper from my backpack, sat down at the kitchen table, and started writing.

 

Dear Regina,

I cannot say that I am an expert in love. Honestly, I didn't know what it was like until I met you. Personally, I used to think that love was a divine creation to make fun of us. They made us and put our “other half” somewhere far away, so we spent our entire lives trying to find them. To my surprise, I found you without having to search for that long.

You are beautiful. And I'm not saying this just because you are physically beautiful - although I have never seen eyes more beautiful than yours. But your whole being is beautiful. You are kind and intelligent and can brighten someone's life just by existing. Which is a funny thing to notice when I realize we barely know each other, and yet, you can make butterflies fly in my stomach and my hands sweat with desire for your touch.

I used to doubt love at first sight. But how could I go against the facts if my heart decided to love you as soon as I saw you? I dream of you, and I can’t get you out of my head.

I don’t know, but I have the feeling that, whatever our souls are made of, yours and mine are the same.

From someone who’s truly, deeply and madly in love with you,

Emma Swan.

 

Wait, what? I just ruined the letter by signing as if it was mine. What’s wrong with me? And where did that come from? I don’t think about Regina in this way. Yes, she’s been good to me but we barely knew each other! Emma Swan, you’re out of your mind!

I don’t know why this made me upset, but I was angry at myself. What the hell were I thinking of?

After panicking over a small mistake, I transcribed and signed Graham's name, folded it in half and kept it in my backpack as if I were getting rid of something very bad. I took a few deep breaths and tried to relax. It was no big deal. It was probably some irrational fantasy brought on by my mind, simply tired of everything that was going on.

But somehow, I couldn’t stop thinking about that letter – even when I went to the hospital and dad was ready to go home. They changed the medication, said it was stronger and could keep him under control. I had to take the money out of the bills, which was already fine, to pay for hospital expenses. But at least now he was fine.

He didn’t say a word when he saw me, but I understood that it was the medicine’s effect. He looked so tired, I couldn’t make him eat anything before he fell asleep.

“It’s getting worse.” I whispered at myself.

***

It was not the agreed day between Graham and me, but I needed to get rid of that letter. So, as soon as I got to school, I looked for him to give him that piece of paper that was haunting me. He tried to have a little conversation, but I just wanted to stay as far as I could from that letter. Graham paid me after he read it and said it was “perfect”, I almost rolled my eyes.

Finally, I was done with that. And since I don’t have to think about Regina, everything is going to settle down. Everything will go back to the way it was. I gave a relieved sigh and walked to my first period. Everything is going to be okay.

Maybe not. Ms. Rose showed up again and I stood up before she could ask me. She was worried, I could see it in her eyes. As usual, I took my seat in front of her desk.

“Ms. Swan, I called the social service and I have good news!” Frowning, I waited for her to finish. “I told them about your situation and they found an aunt of yours, contacted her and she promised she would be coming to town, to see how you were doing and try to help you.”

“Yay.” I said with no excitement. An aunt? Really?

“You don’t seem too excited.” She pointed, staring at me.

“I just didn’t know I had an aunt.” I shrugged.

“I know you and your father have been doing this together for so long, but having someone’s help can do good to you.” Ms. Rose explained. 

“Huh, maybe.” I murmured.

“And how’s you dad doing?”

“He’s fine, already at home.” I shrugged again, knowing that “fine” isn’t really the right word.

“Good! Your aunt should be here today or tomorrow and we already have a meeting.” I don’t even know who she is but she’s already involved in my life. I must be a joke for the universe.

 

“Emma!” I heard Regina’s voice and closed my eyes. Again that butterflies in my damn stomach. I thought it would stop when I wrote the letter. I turned to see her and she was smiling.

Oh God.

“Hi.” I managed to say, she opened her mouth but Graham appeared on her side.

“Hello, Regina.” He said and there it was. I rolled my eyes. I couldn’t control myself.

“Huh, hi.” She said, giving an uncomfortable smile and looked at me again.

"I have something to give you." Graham said, as if I wasn't there. My eyes widened when I saw him pulling the paper from his backpack and my head was like that Disney movie, Inside Out, my Core Emotions running around the control room while everything was on fire.

“I-I need to go.” I said and turned around, getting out of there as fast as I could.

I’m never coming back to the school. Never. I can’t talk to Regina Mills ever again. She will know it was me. I can’t face her anymore.

I couldn’t stop thinking about that when I went to work, my mind was full of scenarios where Regina knew the truth and I can’t deal with that. She is going to think that I’m insane, she was just kind with me and I fell for her. Wait, I didn’t fall for her. Then why am I so scared?

***

After dinner, the bell rang and I froze. We’re not used to having visitors.

“Hi, can I help you?” The blonde woman stood at my door with watering eyes.

“Oh, my God. You’re so grown!” She hugged me and I almost panicked.

“Sorry, do we know each other?” I extricated myself from her embrace, taking a few steps back.

“Oh, sorry. I’m Ingrid Nolan, your aunt.” She said, cleaning her face. Oh, my aunt. With all that Regina thing I have forgotten that part.

“M-my aunt.” I babbled. “Come in, please. Dad is in the kitchen.” I gave her space so she could come in with her little suitcase. She was tall and thin, with long, blond hair like mine. It was easy to notice some kinship, except for the eyes, since mine were green like my mother’s, and hers were blue.

“David?” She called for him and I couldn’t keep my tears when my father looked at her. He recognized her instantly and started to cry. She held him in her arms, crying and asking for forgiveness.

I didn’t know what happened between them but I was uncomfortable watching them. So I started cleaning the kitchen. They were still hugging each other when I finished.

"It's time for the medication." I warned, holding the night pill dad had to take.

"Oh, of course." Ingrid walked away and I watched my dad take the medicine.

"Does he take many of these?" Asked me.

“Now he will only take this and another one in the morning, they changed the medication after what happened." I explained and she shook her head in understanding. 

After that, I helped dad upstairs and left the two of them alone in the room, warning that he would soon fall asleep.

Roni was sleeping in my bed, nothing unusual. I lied by her side, taking a deep breath. What a week. I now have an aunt. I don’t know how things were going to be. Dad is getting worse. And there’s Regina. A smile spread over my face when I thought of her. I don’t know why I feel like she’s the only good thing that happened to me this week.

But as soon as it appeared, it went away when I remember that at this point, she had read the letter and I helped Graham to win her heart. This thought hurt my heart and I couldn’t explain why. We just met and I’m not in love, that’s not possible, but if I was… Regina probably likes boys. I am not prejudiced against girls who like girls, I think that is none of my business. But Regina probably likes boys. And okay, I'm not in love with her. Maybe having a crush, but in love?  I'm too smart for that.

I heard a knock on my door and took a deep breath, knowing that that moment would come.

“Come in.” I said and saw Ingrid’s face popping up.

“I guess you’re so confused right now, aren’t you? We should have a little talk.” She smiled and I sat on my bed while she took the chair. “I didn’t know your mother passed, sweetheart, I’m so sorry.” She looked at her own fingers, embarrassed. “Your father and I had a fight when our dad passed. David didn’t agree with me taking control of dad’s company, but I’m the older one and that was what dad wanted. We said horrible things at each other and we've cut contact since then. He moved to this city with your mother and you were just born. I didn't hear from you anymore until the social service got in touch.”  She looked at me, her eyes watering. “I am sorry for what is happening to David. And I want to be able to help.”

“It’s a lot to process.” I sighed. “But how would you do that?”

“You can live with me.” She shrugged, like it was obvious.

“Sorry, but where do you live?”

“Oh, right. Boston.” She said and winced, knowing it wouldn't work out very well.

“That’s not possible. All my life is here, school and work.” I got up and started to pace. “We can’t move to another city.”

“You can focus on your studies and stop working for now.” She tried and I shook my head. “David would have the best treatment, I had a talk with your advisor and she told me he’s been sick for so long. Perhaps some doctor in Boston can do better for him.” And she touched on a point that I couldn't ignore.

“I-“ I sighed, closing my eyes. “I’m going to think about it, okay?”

“You can have all the time you wish.” She smiled gently.

After settling her in our guest room, I went to my own and tried to have some rest. But I couldn’t stop thinking. Ingrid – Aunt Ingrid – could offer to my dad something I can’t. Maybe after all these years, they can recover the time lost. Maybe my dad can be okay. I should do what’s best for him.

***

The weekend flew by while we packed up everything needed for the move. On Monday, I went to school after the usual schedule as I was not going to attend class, but to get some documents to take to the other school.

I thought a lot about Regina on the weekend. But maybe it’s good that I’m leaving, so things can’t get worse between us. And since we’re not really friends, I don’t have to say goodbye. I can leave just like that. That’s what I tried to convince myself. 

I quit my job and Ms. Rose was emotional when I told her what was happening – even though she knew it was a possibility because aunt Ingrid had talked to her too. I never thought this would be happening.

After I got home and everything was packed, I took a deep breath looking at where was my home for all these years. I couldn’t stop the tears from coming down. But I frowned when I heard the bell. We weren’t expecting anyone.

“Regina.” I whispered when I saw her standing in front of me.

“So it’s true? You’re leaving?” She asked and I could hear a little hurt in her voice.

“Mm, yes, I think so.” She gave me a sad smile and bowed her head.

“I know it was you.” She said without looking at me.

“What?” I asked but my hands were already shaking.

“The letter. I know you wrote that.”

“I-I don’t know what you’re talking about.” I lied and she looked at me, she wasn’t angry or anything, I had to remember myself how to breathe.

‘Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.’” She smiled and I closed my eyes. Damn, Emma Swan, how did you do that?!

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to-

“I liked to know it was you.” She interrupted me and I frowned. “I’ve been watching you, Emma Swan, trying to be brave enough to talk to you and when it happened in Literature class… I couldn’t help myself anymore.”

“W-what do you mean by ‘watching me’?” My cheeks were burning and she didn’t answer, she approached me and put her hand on my face. I closed my eyes with the explosion of feelings that went through my body. 

“May I?” She whispered, her breath touching my face and I nodded.

Regina Mills gave me my first kiss. Her lips moving gently and sweet on mine, her hand caressing my face. It tasted like heaven. My heart was jumping on my chest and when she broke our kiss, I kept my eyes closed. I was afraid that she would disappear if I opened them.

“You make butterflies fly in my stomach too.” She said. “I’ll wait for you, darling. I’ve been waiting and I can do it a little more.” She kissed me again, without warning this time and left. I felt the urge to run to her, but I didn’t.

“Your girlfriend is beautiful.” I jumped when Ingrid said that and she laughed. Regina is not my girlfriend, but I didn’t tell her that.

Later that day, we’re on our way to Boston and I went all the way stating that this was better. Which didn't make it any easier. I was leaving, but my heart was staying with a certain brunette with the most beautiful eyes in the world.

***  

My hands were shaking with excitement. I checked myself in the mirror a million times. Would Regina like my haircut? I hope so.

Today is her graduation day, she’s becoming a psychologist and I’m so proud of her. I graduated a few days ago, I’m a journalist now and Regina is moving to Boston. We’re not moving together. Yet. She’s moving with her sister Zelena, the funniest redhead I know. Zelena lives there for 2 years, but today, we’re all in Storybrooke – even auntie Ingrid and my dad, who’s been better since he changed his treatment. He’s doing therapy to deal with his depression and he’s been doing well. The doctor is even thinking of removing his medication.

Regina finally appeared, she was wearing a red dress that fitted so well on her body. I’m a really lucky girl, I think. Her hair was falling in little waves in her back – I like her long hair. And her makeup was divine, red lipstick was made for her.

“Emma!” She said and ran to me, I hugged her, closing my eyes and smelling her perfume. The last time we met was last month and I was missing her so bad.

“I missed you, baby.” I gave her a peck so I wouldn’t mess her makeup.

“I missed you more, darling.” She said, looking at me with that lovely eyes.

I fell head over heels for Regina almost 5 years ago. And after I moved to Boston, it didn’t change. I sent her a facebook message before I even left Storybrooke. We had a long distance relationship, trying to meet whenever it was possible. And now we’re here. She’s graduating and moving closer. And I’m even more in love with her, if that was even possible.

You have no idea how I’ve waited for this moment.” She said, giving me another peck and I sighed. It was so good to be with her.

“I love you.” I said, looking into her eyes and she smiled at me.

“I love you more.”

I didn’t know back then how right I was when I affirmed that our souls are the same. I didn't know if it was true that the gods separated us from our soulmate so that we could spend our lives trying to find them, but if it were, I couldn't be more grateful that they allowed me to find Regina so soon.

Today if I had to write a love letter, I wouldn’t have to think too much. When I asked myself what love is, I would come with the answer without having to think twice: Regina Mills. She’s love, she’s my love.