There was nothing that could have prepared Emma for the phone call she received just as the long year was finally falling into December. Someone she had known well a long time ago was cashing in a favour and she couldn’t turn it down. That was not how her world worked, even when right now it was causing her heartache.
Even thinking about the two sets of teary eyes she had just driven away from made her nearly sob. After having spend their first magical holiday together last year, this had become something Emma was really looking forward to and she had been excited to experience it again.
But now she was on her way out of the town that had become her home over the years and the people she loved the most, all just hours before they were meant to go pick up their Christmas tree. And she didn’t even know how long she was going to be gone for.
Emma held onto the wheel of her car tighter as she was thinking back to last year, which by far had been the best Christmas ever. Better than anything she could have possibly imagined when she was just a child.
The invitation had been delivered into the Sheriff’s station while she had been out for lunch and as she stepped into the room holding a to-go cup of cocoa from Granny’s, her eyes had zeroed on a white envelope on her desk.
Emma had almost bet the envelope would be saying her name in Regina’s beautiful cursive but instead it had been written by the equally refined handwriting of her son. Their son. She couldn’t help but smile from ear to ear when she noticed a small swan doodle leaving from the last letter of her name.
Henry was many things, many wonderful, brilliant, unique things but this was something she was always particularly grateful to Regina for. The creativity that Henry possessed had been nurtured and encouraged throughout his life by his mother, and here they were.
Wasting no time tearing open the envelope, she pulled out a card with a snowy scenery and a massive white swan stretching its wings in the middle of it. It was not necessarily Christmassy but it definitely fit the winter spirit. Nothing could destroy the smile that was painted across Emma’s face as she stared the card for a long while.
Turning the card around she was met with more of Henry’s handwriting. He had managed to fit quite a bit of text in such a limited space and Emma sat down on her chair to read through it carefully.
As she made it to the end, the smile was still firmly on her face but there were tears freely flowing down her cheeks. She had been invited to spend the Christmas with Henry and Regina. She had been carefully listening Henry talk about their special holiday traditions for quite a few weeks now and it had made her feel such overwhelming warmth but it was heavily framed with sadness.
Warmth for the childhood Regina had given Henry, filled with love, smell of baked goods and massive trees in living rooms. Henry had never missed anything in his life and he was the centre of his mothers universe, had been from the moment she had first held him.
The sadness had been an unexpected addition that crept in late at night when she thought about Henry’s stories of past holidays. This was the first time since she came to town where they actually had a chance to celebrate Christmas, but as it inched closer she had no idea where their current dynamic left her.
But now it seemed like she had worried for absolutely nothing though, because Henry wanted here there. And if Regina’s separate signature at the bottom of the card right next to Henry’s was anything to go by, the brunette woman was at least allowing it.
Emma felt her heart flutter as she gently pressed the card against her chest and closed her eyes. The little orphan Emma would never believe that there would be time when she was going to be spending a Christmas with a family of her own.
The drive to Boston wasn’t that long, in fact it seemed like it all happened in a flash but the distance was weighing heavily on Emma’s chest. It felt like with every passing mile something was pressing down on her, making her feel sick.
She couldn’t wait to make it to her hotel room so she could finally call home.
Emma had lived in Boston long enough to know her way around, and finding the hotel was easy. When she eventually closed the door of the room, she let her bag fall from her shoulder with a heavy thump. Shaking her tired arms the signature red leather jacket followed suit. Emma knew it was way too cold to be wearing such thin coat but when she had left for Boston she knew she had to bring something to bring her comfort. And this was her choice, even if she froze.
Falling face first into the lush bed was absolutely the best thing she had done that day but it did nothing to help her breathe any easier. Her chest still ached and there was burning behind her eyes.
Quickly reaching for the back pocket of her jeans for her phone, she tapped the screen few times to start a video call. She just had to see the two people she missed with her entire being.
And with few rings a beautiful face appeared on her screen, smiling with evident relief. The way she breathlessly said her name made Emma blush just a little bit.
After receiving her invitation, Emma hadn’t wasted a single second in getting a head start on doing her Christmas shopping. She had known what she wanted to get her parents and little brother for months now and shopping for Henry was probably the easiest task there was. But of course one particular person poised as a problem.
What do you get a woman whose only wish in the world is to spend time with her son? What do you get a women who you have harboured deep and complicated feelings for since the moment you two laid eyes on each other? What do you get a woman who is your best friend but who you want to be so much more for?
What do you get a woman who you want to kiss every time she smiles or laughs?
What do you-
Shaking her head in a way that resembled a fluffy golden retriever more than she liked to admit, Emma sighed. She was very skilled in losing her ability to concentrate when her mind wandered to Regina. It felt unreal how long she had pined over the mother of her son. It felt like a lifetime because sometimes she couldn’t quite remember her life without Henry and Regina in it.
Over the years they had become allies and then tentative friends. But as time passed, their lives laced together tighter and tighter without neither of them noticing.
Now there wasn’t a day she didn’t see Regina. For work, for lunch, for dinner, for a quick nightcap. And more often than not they spend their day off’s in the mansion playing boardgames or watching movies with Henry.
Just like a family.
In these quiet moments, Emma found her mind focusing on this particular topic even when she tried her hardest not to think about it at all. If she thought about it too much, she would get self conscious and she didn't want to do anything to jinx the happiness she was feeling. How her heart nearly beat out of her chest every time she heard Henry laugh his head off at something silly Regina did only for him or the way the brunette very gently leaned her cheek on Emma's shoulder when they watched a movie together.
For Emma, a day wasn’t a day without the bright smile and the even brighter chocolate eyes.
It was only the beginning of December however and she had time to figure out the perfect gift for the woman she was desperately in love with.
“Did you arrive safely?”
Emma smiled at the evident concern in Regina’s voice. It helped somewhat with the dull ache in her chest. The pressure she had been dealing with since leaving was just a little bit less and she was breathing easier.
It was amazing how much just talking to your person helped.
“I did. It was a long drive though.”
“Oh, come on. Are you really trying to tell me you didn’t make the most of it by listening to that obnoxious playlist of yours?”
Emma let out a bark of laughter that shook her entire body. Of course Regina would bring up her playlist, the one that contained just about every bit of music she even remotely liked. Which meant it was a mess. A mess she played every time they were all together in the car, be it a long drive to New York or just down to the beach.
“I know you love it, Regina.” Emma smirked and she could see the corners of full lips quirking upwards. Seeing Regina smile was definitely the most powerful magic of all - if you didn’t count True Loves kiss - and Emma couldn’t believe how lucky she was to be at the receiving end of it.
But right now it just drove home the fact that there was distance between them. And tomorrow would have been an important day that Emma was going to be missing, all because of a silly favour.
It seemed she wasn’t the only one whose happy bubble had burst because the next question was asked in much quieter voice, and the just happy lips were turned downwards again.
“Have you eaten anything?”
For someone who loved food, Emma Swan was also someone who couldn’t help but have her moods affect her appetite. If she was angry she usually ate out of frustration. Happiness caused every bite to be a celebration. But when she was sad, she could barely even stomach hot cocoa.
“I had a quick bite just before I made it into the city, but I will probably order in later if I feel hungry.”
Regina pursed her lips at the other end of their video call but decided not to say anything. Emma was grateful for that because she didn’t want to fight over something so pointless, not when there was already so much weighing on her.
For a long moment they just stared into each others eyes, comforted by the steady breathing they could hear from the tiny speakers of their phones.
“I miss you.” Emma whispered, her voice cracking.
Without missing a beat, Regina whispered back.
“I miss you too, my love.”
“Emma, come on!” Henry’s usually calm voice was nowhere to be found when he was tapping his foot annoyedly by the door. He was fully wrapped from head to toe in his winter jacket and a grey set of beanie and mittens, which Emma had pointed out might just be a bit of an exaggeration.
But knowing who they were going to be meeting by the park in ten minutes, it made perfect sense. Henry didn’t want this special outing to be delayed because his mother needed to send him back to the apartment to bundle up in warmer clothes.
“I’m almost done, kid. Chill.” Emma couldn’t help but to roll her eyes. Where was the 11-year-old that worshipped the ground she walked on? And who had dumped this grumpy teenager into his place?
“I don’t want to be late! And you know Mom will be so annoyed with you if we are.” Henry kept tapping his foot, shaking his head as Emma decided on a leather jacket instead of the perfectly good winter jacket that was hanging right next to it. Sure they didn’t have snow yet but it was getting increasingly colder with every passing day.
“With me? What about you?” Emma knew Henry’s statement to be true but she couldn’t help but tease the teenager who was sporting hilariously similar expression to his brunette mother.
“Where do I even begin? I’m her only son, the centre of her world, she gave me a True Love’s Kiss…” Henry was using his fingers to count, a smug smirk on his lips as he was was just waiting for Emma to admit he had won.
Emma knew she had lost long before they even started this conversation and she couldn’t help but smile at Henry warmly. It had been a long road for them all to get here, where there was no more doubt and hurt and where Henry understood just how deep his mothers love for him was.
Pulling a beanie over her blonde curls, Emma stepped closer to Henry and put her arms around him. He didn’t hesitate to return the hug, both of them aware of the importance of his words.
“Well, let’s get going then before she does kill me for making you late.” Emma whispered and without saying anything else, they walked out of the door and started their short walk towards the park by the Main Street.
As they stepped out of Emma’s apartment building, they could see the entrance to the park and the darkly dressed figure that was waiting for them. Henry and Emma walked next to each other, Emma trying to hide the fact that she was indeed freezing in her choice in jacket and Henry almost bouncing up and down, his excitement getting the better of him.
But as soon as the figure waiting by the park entrance turned and noticed them, Henry broke into a sprint and threw himself against his mother in a tight hug.
They almost fell over, but Regina managed to steady them. She wrapped her arms around her son in a hug that was jus as fierce as his was, kissing the side of his head. It wasn’t going to take long for Henry to grow taller than Regina, a fact that the brunette woman was not at all happy about and something she downright refused to talk about when Emma brought it up.
“Hello, my little prince.” Emma was close enough to hear Regina gently greet their son. Emma didn’t know how many times she thanked fate for bringing Henry to Regina. While there was no doubt about Regina’s reign of terror as the Evil Queen, the blonde knew there was no better mother out there. Henry was one lucky goose.
“Hi, Mom.” his smile was blinding. While he mostly acted like a grumpy teenager, in this moment he looked years younger, very much resembling the small boy that knocked on her door all those years ago.
Regina’s smile was beautiful and Emma was unable to look away. Henry had launched himself into a rant about the importance of today’s mission, reminding them both about the common goal. It was not unlike a drill sergeant, telling his men - well moms - the details of their attempt.
While she was definitely listening, it was also very clear that this was not the first time Regina was hearing this particular list of high quality traits. Emma swore she saw her mouth some of Henry’s lines as he just kept going. Regina then turned to look at Emma and rolled her eyes all the while smiling sweetly. Emma couldn’t help but to grin back.
“Are we ready?” Henry suddenly asked seriously, looking expectantly between both of his mothers. It was incredibly hard to take him seriously when he was all bundled up in winter clothing, his cheeks reddening in the cold wind.
“I can assure you, dear, we are ready.” Regina smiled and nudged him towards the park.
Henry took off with such speed he could put runaway Pongo to shame. He ran through the alcove towards Marco who had set up their traditional Christmas tree market in his usual spot, by the park entrance. As every year, the Mifflin Street mansion started their Christmas preparations the 1st of December and the most important part of it was getting the perfect tree.
Emma and Regina followed after him, letting him run around assessing the trees displayed, trying to pick the best one. Emma offered her arm to the other woman, who smoothly slipped her own around Emma’s and pulled their sides together.
A shiver rocked Emma’s body but she wasn’t sure was it because of the cold or because there was no space between their sides. They were just walking together but it felt so incredibly intimate and her cold cheeks were tingling with the sudden warmth.
“He has been like this every Christmas since he was four.” Regina said gently, without looking at Emma who was leading her towards new set of trees “I used to get a smaller tree so he was able to reach but ever since he fully got into the holidays he has insisted we get a huge tree.”
There was so much love in Regina’s story and while Emma knew all of this, thanks to the memories Regina had shared with her, she happily drank in each word. Imagining a small Henry and a younger Regina sitting in the living room of the mansion, decorating a small Christmas tree was suddenly filling every corner of her mind. How she wished she could have seen them like that.
Emma had no idea how long she had been distracted, but clearly long enough for Regina to take in her attire. The blonde almost fell back as she suddenly felt something draped over her shoulders. Her eyes focused on the woman standing a breath away from her, wrapping her own scarf around Emma’s shoulders.
The look that was edged across Regina’s face was one of pure concentration as she made sure the scarf covered most of Emma’s front which was stupidly bare because she hadn’t closed her jacket.
The scarf smelled like Regina’s perfume and it was intoxicating. Emma tried her hardest not to breathe in too deeply as the other woman was still standing right in front of her and would be able to notice.
It didn’t take the brunette woman too long to be satisfied with her work as she stepped back.
If the aim had been to keep Emma warm, the blonde was happy to report the other woman had succeeded. Although she wasn’t sure was it due to the scarf or the close proximity that caused her entire being to heat up.
“You need to dress better, Emma.” Regina muttered, finally meeting the green eyes. “I don’t want you to get sick.”
Not us, not Henry, but I.
Emma wanted so desperately to say something, anything, as she had been silent ever since they had arrived to the park. She liked to consider herself at least a bit smoother, but right now it seemed like someone had taken her voice. So instead she nodded, hoping that was going to be enough.
Regina seemed to be in no rush to go looking over Christmas trees as she kept regarding Emma with an unreadable expression. Emma wasn’t one to turn down a staring contest with her, never had been so she kept looking deep into the chocolate eyes that seemed to shine in the faint glow of the Christmas lights that had been hung across the park.
“You never responded to our invitation.” Regina said quietly and Emma was surprised to note a hint of nervousness in her normally unwavering voice.
“I thought the answer was obvious.” Emma managed to breathe out, wanting to pat herself on the back for forming a coherent sentence. She tried her hardest to keep her emotions in check because even thinking about spending the Christmas together with Henry and Regina made her choke back tears.
“I might need you to spell it out for me, dear.” Regina smirked, clearly feeling just a bit more confident as she toyed with the edge of the scarf she had wrapped around Emma.
At first Emma was going to prolong this, to maybe tease Regina a bit but as soon as the thought popped in her head it melted away. She couldn’t come up with a single reason to make this into a game. Because it wasn’t game for her.
“I’ll be there.”
Rolling onto her side, Emma reached her arm out to turn off her alarm that she had already snoozed twice. She should know better than this by now as snoozing often made her very irritated, but she was exhausted and needed the few extra minutes of sleep. She didn’t often wake up feeling angry but there was no doubt as she sat up in the unfamiliar bed. She was angry.
Logically she knew there was nothing to be angry about, but it didn’t really make her feel any better so instead she decided she was going to be angry until she no longer could. A faulty plan, sure, but that was all she had willpower for.
Getting herself ready was never a lengthy process for the blonde and she was out of the hotel in record time. She had to start her trusty yellow bug before she spend a good while scraping ice from each of her windows, hearing Regina's voice in her head reminding her to actually scrape more than just a half of her windshield like she used to do. Please be safe in that rust bucket, Emma. I could never lose you like that.
Arriving to the office she had been called to took her less than half an hour and as she stomped through the door, her bad mood seemed to only be increasing. She tried her hardest not to snap at the receptionist who directed her into the right floor.
When the elevator doors binged shut, she leaned her back against the far wall and closed her eyes. She didn’t want to be here, not when the alternative was quite literally everything she had ever wanted. The anger was quickly turning into a flood of tears, but she would be damned if she was going to cry now. She had a job to do, and the sooner she was done the sooner she could go home.
As she made it into the waiting area the receptionist had mentioned, she sat down. There was still good fifteen minutes before her appointment was meant to start. Twisting her phone around in her hands, Emma contemplated what was the right thing to do.
On the other hand she wanted to call home more than anything, because she was homesick for the first time in her life and she knew her foul mood was directly linked to that. But she was afraid she would only end up feeling even worse if she heard the familiar voices.
It seemed though that she was not going to have a choice in the matter as her phone started to gently vibrate in her hands, and the familiar contact photo was taking over her screen.
Pressing the green accept button, Emma brought the phone to hear ear.
Hearing Henry’s cheery voice nearly made Emma crumble right then and there but instead she managed to rasp out. “Morning, kid.”
“I just wanted to call you and wish you good luck today.” he sounded so grown up and the blonde felt like she had been gone for much longer than a day. How was it that it was less than day ago when this same boy held onto her for dear life at the town line as she was about to leave?
“Thank you, Henry.” she whispered. “That means… a lot. You know?” no matter how long she had had her family, talking about difficult feelings made Emma feel awkward, especially with the son she was meant to parent.
“I know, Ma. The sooner you get started, the sooner you are done and then you can leave.” Henry said matter of factly. “I will put the star on the shelf next to our tree so you can put it on right away when you make it home.”
Henry’s words made the tears fall from Emma’s eyes as she pressed her hand against her mouth in order for no one to hear the sob that had pushed its way out. She had completely underestimated how hard this was going to be.
She had never felt this kind of yearning to be somewhere she was not.
But then again this was the first time in her life when she had a family to miss.
“Emma?” a voice said from the doorway and Emma raised her eyes to a man she had known well years ago and who was the reason she was here today. Here instead of picking out a Christmas tree with her girlfriend and their son.
“Hen, I gotta go. I will call you soon.” she rushed out and she could almost hear Henry opening his mouth in protest. “I love you.” she whispered quickly, not daring to look at the man waiting patently for her to be done.
“I love you too, Ma.”
Emma found out quickly that decorating a Christmas tree was somewhat an art form that she was definitely not familiar with. She had not told neither of the Mills’ that this was the first time she was decorating a Christmas tree, but maybe her inexperience was easy to see. Henry was showing her how the tinsel was meant to be put on and the blonde was determined not to disappoint, so she did exactly like instructed.
When Henry disappeared down to the basement to get their ladder, Emma dared to glance towards the brunette who was sitting on the floor, casually leaning against the back of the couch, untangling the lights that would be going on the tree next.
Regina was dressed in something that looked a lot like pair of black leggings and a deep purple sweater that was stretched well past her thighs. She looked so very comfortable and probably the happiest Emma had ever witnessed her.
Their eyes met suddenly when Regina lifted her gaze from the lights. Emma felt her entire face flush as she had been caught redhanded making heart eyes at her sons other mother. Regina didn't seem to mind though as she smiled warmly.
“How are you feeling?”
Of course Regina knew her well enough to see that she was more than a little overwhelmed. Not only had they known each other for years but they had also become best friends. Regina was the one Emma opened up to about, well, everything.
“Would you believe me if I said I was fine?” Emma asked with a small laugh, shuffling her feet a little.
Regina put down the lights and regarded Emma carefully.
“I would pretend if it made you feel better.” she finally said, but before Emma could say anything she continued. “But more than that I want to make sure this is actually something you enjoy. We don’t want to make you feel uncomfortable.”
Suddenly there was pressure gathering behind her eyes and Emma begged her body to keep it together. It wasn’t like her to cry like this but she was experiencing things for the first time, things she had only ever dreamed of. It felt so surreal to have people in her life who genuinely cared about her wellbeing and happiness.
“I’m alright, mostly. It’s just…” Emma didn’t know how much she wanted to open up in this moment. This was meant to be a joyous occasion and she didn’t want to do anything to ruin it with her heavy feelings and possible crying.
But before she knew it, every bit of her self-control just melted away.
“This is my first proper Christmas as I have never been asked to join others in their celebration. Nor have I ever had a family of my own to celebrate with. I have never even decorated a tree before and I’m afraid of doing something wrong and ruining it.”
While their friendship was very open and honest, this admission left Emma feeling even more exposed than some of the more gruesome stories of her past that she had shared with Regina before. She knew how important this holiday was to both Henry and Regina, and having been invited was a great honour but she was a bit intimidated.
Regina tilted her head just the slightest bit as she looked Emma deep into her eyes. The blonde felt her cheeks flush even deeper shade of red, but before she could come up with an excuse for her outpour, Regina gently tapped the space next to her on the floor.
Emma’s heart was beating so fast as she walked closer and sat down next to the former queen, their shoulders resting together. Regina reached for Emma’s hand and laced their fingers together.
“Emma, I know what it’s like to feel this way. I felt exactly the same way when it was time to celebrate Henry’s first Christmas. I knew very little of this words holidays, having only seen what was done in movies and TV shows. I was so afraid to disappoint him.” her voice was deep as the darkest sea and Emma was bewitched.
“I cried the night before Henry’s first Christmas, because I was unsure had I done enough. I felt like maybe this was not going to be something he liked. But in the end.” she squeezed Emma’s hand tighter in her own. “He was just happy to be here with me, eating until he no longer could and opening too many presents because I spoiled him rotten.”
There was something so comforting in Regina’s smile as she looked ahead towards the massive three that only had tinsel hanging from it. It was like she was reliving a memory.
“So don’t worry. All that matters to him, is that you are here.” Regina turned her gaze back to Emma. The blonde had never wanted to kiss Regina more than she did in this moment.
Reaching forward with her free hand, Emma gently touched Regina’s jawline with the tips of her fingers. They had only recently broken through the physical barrier and were now touching each other more freely. They linked their arms together when they walked side by side and Regina took every opportunity she could to use Emma’s shoulder as a pillow during a movie night. And Emma was more than happy to brush away hair from Regina’s face, lingering just the slightest of bits.
This was intimate and the way Regina’s breath got caught in her throat made Emma’s insides warm deliciously. She continued to gently caress Regina’s face, her touch feather light. It was foreign territory but everything about it felt so right.
Slowly Emma slid her fingers through the dark curls, amazed at just how soft it felt. Gently, but with newfound confidence she gently fisted a bit of hair at the base of Regina’s neck and ever so slightly pulled her forward.
They were only a breath away, it would be so easy for them to kiss right now and the way Regina was breathing was driving Emma crazy.
It would be so easy.
“Uhm, a little help here?!”
Instead of springing apart, they both took a deep breath and put some distance between their bodies. Regina was blinking furiously, smoothing her hands over her thighs and Emma was delighted to notice her breathing was just slightly out of control.
Before getting up and going to help Henry with the ladder, she pressed a quick kiss on Regina’s cheek. She didn’t wait to see what Regina was going to do as she rushed towards the basement door where Henry was trying to wiggle the ladder through.
They set up the ladder next to the enormous tree Henry had picked out and the brunette boy shot up the steps to finish with the last of the tinsel. Emma was dutifully holding onto the ladder and directing him towards areas that were still bare.
Emma tried to keep herself busy as she didn’t dare to look at Regina because what if she had misread the entire situation and had now ruined everything they had worked for? What if she was going to lose this because of a moment of boldness?
While Emma was busy beating herself up, she didn’t notice the other woman coming up from behind her. But then there were hands firmly planted on her waist and a deep voice spoke right next to her ear.
“Henry, dear, would you start with the lights as you are already up there?”
Emma was experiencing a full body shiver but tried to tamper it down because Regina’s body was only inches away from her back and she would be able to feel it if they were to touch. Her brain had the sudden mad idea to push against her but that also caused blaring of alarms and she managed to calm her body down enough no to do it.
But the hands were still on her waist and she was in heaven.
“I can do that, Mom.” Henry said happily, reaching for the lights that Regina quickly supplied. Emma almost whined at the loss of contact as Regina stepped away to get the lights but it was like the older woman knew because this time there was a chin laid delicately on her shoulder as they both did their best to gaze up at their son from the awkward angle.
Emma wanted to say something, anything but she had no clue where to start. Not only was this situation like from one of her dreams but their son was only few feet away, babbling on about the perfect way to surround the tree with the lights.
Regina’s breathing was steady, warm. Emma couldn’t see her face but if it was anything like her own, she would be smiling from ear to ear. The blonde had done so much smiling in just one day that she felt her cheeks ache.
It really seemed like Regina could somehow sense Emma’s thoughts and moods, because just when the blonde woman felt like she could breathe like a normal person, there were a strong pair of arms wrapped around her waist and a warm body moulded onto her back.
Emma let out a gasp, quickly looking up at Henry but he was none the wiser. His mothers were essentially cuddling as he was too busy talking about decorations.
“Do you mind?” the question was so quiet Emma was almost sure it was just a breath.
“No.” because she didn't, she really really didn’t.
“I’m glad you are coming home for Christmas.” Regina whispered, gently brushing a chaste kiss on Emma’s cheek and before the younger woman had a chance to reply the warmth of Regina’s body was gone as she moved to help their son with the remaining of the lights.
“Dean, I can’t keep doing this! He has already jumped twice and I’m half a world away from where I started!” Emma was almost screaming into her phone. If she was going to squeeze any harder she was sure the device would break.
“I need to get him in, Ems, you know this. We have gone over how important he is.” the man on the other end of the phone said gently, aware of the frustration his friend was feeling.
“I know, I know, but I need to get home soon, it’s almost Christmas and I promised-“ Emma was breathing faster, working herself up with no means to calm down.
“If you’ll just catch him, I promise-“ there was a slight impatience lacing itself into the tone of Dean, the man who Emma had owed this stupid favour.
Catching bail jumpers had always been one of Emma’s best skills but she had happily left all of that behind her when she moved to Storybrooke. While it was often quiet, she didn’t mind being a small town Sheriff. At least she got her exercise running after Pongo.
“I’ve had him in my sights, just an arm length away but then something always happens! It’s not my fault that he -“ Emma was about to fully yell because she was over this bullshit, so fucking over it. She knew she had no one else to blame but herself but she was frustrated.
“Don’t take that tone with me, Emma! We agreed on this and when I contacted you there was still plenty of time for you to catch him. When he is locked up, you are more than free to travel home to your family. But we agreed.” his tone was just a tad patronising but Emma couldn’t concentrate on that right now.
“I will catch him. I will.” she whispered the last bit more quietly to herself because there was no way this smelly piece of scum was going to keep her from the second Christmas with her family.
“Take care, Emma.” Dean was a smart man under all that insistence and he knew better than to talk to the blonde woman more now. She was upset and hearing his voice was not what she needed.
He ended the call before Emma had the chance to wish him the same.
For the past two and a half weeks the next call was always the one she wanted to make the most but each time she delivered bad news, Emma grew more and a more anxious. She wanted to have something wonderful to tell Regina and Henry when she called but this time wasn’t going to be it.
Regina’s face appeared on her phone almost immediately.
“Hello, my love.”
God, that smile was just everything.
“Hi there, gorgeous!” and Emma in turn couldn’t help but smile just as brightly back. “Is the kid around as well?”
“Of course not.” Regina rolled her eyes as she moved around what was no doubt the kitchen. “He has been out almost every night with his friends after the snow fell. They have been building a huge snow castle in the park.”
A bang of sadness hit Emma like a truck because she could have been there to help him. Another thing she was missing.
“What are you doing then?” she wanted to hear Regina talk, she needed it almost at much as she needed air to breathe.
“I just made myself something to eat.” Regina wiggled something in her other hand that looked a lot like a plate of sandwiches. “There is no reason to make a big dinner if I’m the only one here.”
Emma closed her eyes leaned against the pillow on her hotel bed. The sheets were soft but it was completely missing the comforting scent of Regina’s hair conditioner and the lotion she used every night before bed.
“Emma? What’s wrong?”
The blonde didn’t have to see her girlfriends face to know her brows were furrowed and she was trying to figure out what could have upset Emma. So instead of answering and delivering bad news, Emma made a request that almost made her feel embarrassed.
“Will you tell me about your day? I just want to hear your voice.”
Regina hummed gently, piecing together what was going on. It didn’t take a genius to realise Emma was not coming home yet and being on the phone like this was comforting for them both.
“I just want to hear… you.”
And so Regina’s deep voice filled the small hotel room, starting from what she made her and Henry for breakfast that day.
It was alarming how fast December seemed to be flying by. The town had an event every weekend, starting with the Winter Festival and finishing with the annual Snow Sleigh that her mother hosted at the largest hill of Storybrooke. They had been very lucky with the weather as it had snowed only days after picking up the tree but Emma also knew her mother had made Regina promise to magic them some snow in time for the sleighing if it didn’t snow naturally.
The overall atmosphere in town was serene and for the first time since Emma moved into Storybrooke, there was peace.
Emma had spend one entire evening wrapping the gifts she had gotten her family with such love and care. She wasn’t an expert packer or anything but she noted happily that she wasn’t all that horrible either. But she was struggling more than ever with what to get Regina.
Their relationship had evolved ever since they helped Henry decorate the Christmas tree that now stood proudly in the living room at Mifflin Street. It was nothing that completely changed their dynamic but it was more.
It seemed like the former queen couldn’t help but lay her hands on Emma’s waist whenever she got a chance. It was something that Emma wouldn’t have called intimate prior to this but now every time Regina’s hands graced her form, she was left breathless.
She did wonder was physical contact something that happened unconsciously now because she couldn’t even count the amount of times she herself found herself touching Regina. Mostly it was just them sitting so close their sides were completely pressed together but time or two - or seven - she had realised she was holding onto Regina’s hand. And not very casually, but full on having her fingers laced with the brunettes.
It all felt so natural now that they had gotten past the whatever barrier prevented them from touching each other. They never spoke of it, just shared a blushy smile and looked away. It felt like there was something magnetic between them, always pulling them together.
And how could she mind?
The touching wasn’t the only new thing. They had made staring into each others eyes a norm from the moment they met, but there was newfound tenderness to it. Emma constantly wanted to touch Regina’s face again like she had during their tree decorating but she wanted to be able to kiss Regina at the end of it.
Maybe the magic of the holidays would give the blonde the courage to make the first proper move.
But right now the most pressing issue was to find something to give Regina. It couldn’t be just anything, it had to be something important. She had had few ideas before things started shifting, but they all seemed inadequate now.
Maybe she could just wrap Henry in some colourful wrapping paper and put a bow on him and sit him under the tree? For a hot second she thought about doing it because what was better than Henry?
And with that, a brilliant idea struck her.