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i'll be home

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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.


Smart kid.


“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.


“Morning, Ma!” 


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. 

Chapter Text

“Mom, do you think Ma will make it home on time?”


Regina jumped just slightly as she hadn’t heard her son enter the kitchen where she was sitting on the breakfast bar, mindlessly turning her phone in her hands, trying to enjoy the now cold coffee. She had been waiting for Emma to call for an hour now but she couldn’t be angry because she was busy with her bail jumper.


“I know she will.” she couldn’t let herself doubt that, even when Christmas was fast approaching. It had seemed like a fast trip when Emma sprung it on them but with every passing day she was getting more worried. “She promised she would be home for Christmas.”


“I know, but…” Henry came to sit on a stool right next to her. He reached for the cold cup of coffee and gave it a sniff. Before Regina had a chance to say anything, he had downed the cold drink and smacked his lips. Regina’s eyes were wide but she couldn’t find it in herself to be angry or even annoyed. 


“Henry.” she sighed however.


“I know, I know, coffee, bad stuff.” he said seriously and they rolled their eyes almost at the same time. 


Regina smiled warmly because spending time with Henry was always precious and would always be. But ever since Emma had entered their small town, her world had started expanding and now it also included that infuriating blonde who she had managed to fall in love with over the years.


It had taken her a long time to understand and later come to terms with how she felt about Emma and more than once she had been sure it was too late for her, for them.


Their lives were so laced together which made it feel like they had been a couple for years and years. But in reality, it was less than that. Much less. Well, almost a year as it was few days short. Christmas had become something even more in one massive swoop last year.


“You are missing her, aren’t you?” Henry asked gently, an expert in reading his mothers moods. He could see the longing in her eyes, partly because she knew her mother better than anyone - well, except Emma maybe - but also because he was feeling the same way.


The past year had been the best one of his life, by far. The family they had become was a constant comfort and warmth, and even when his Mom had always loved him with her entire soul, there was even more love to go around now. Both of his mothers were happy, and this Christmas was meant to be a proper start of their new traditions.


Henry had left out the star from their tree decorating because since last year it had become Emma’s job. When Henry had handed her the big silver star they had been putting on top of the tree since he was small, Emma had been so amazed by the size of it and had held it in her hands for long minutes. Henry had talked it through with Regina before and they had both agreed it would be a good idea to ask Emma would she like to be the one to put it on top of their tree.


The look on Emma’s face had been priceless. It had been a mixture of barely contained joy and anxiety. Henry had nearly pushed her towards the ladder, and before long the blonde was tangling from the top and trying to set the star on its place of honour. 


As she climbed down, she had reached for Henry and planted a kiss on top of his head. The boy had been sure she was crying a little bit but he had chosen to ignore it as Emma got weird when it came to feelings. 


But what had solidified so many things in his mind, was when his Mom appeared on the other side of Emma and looked up at the ready tree with them. Henry had smiled widely when he noticed his mothers holding hands and decided not to say anything, afraid he would spook them.


What had broken the quietness was his Moms voice.


“It seems like this this might just be something for you to do from now on, Emma.”


Henry had been watching the two women get closer as the years went by and last Christmas they really thought he hadn’t noticed them practically cuddling when he had been dangling from the ladder, setting up tinsel and lights. 


Last Christmas had truly been a turning point for their little family, but especially for his mothers. Henry was grateful they had finally found each other and that things were going so well. He just wished his Ma was going to make it home in time for Christmas. 


“I am, so much.” Henry was roused from his memories by his Mom’s raspy voice. It was so raw and there was clearly something else weighing on her mind.


“She will be home, she knows how important this is.” Henry took the phone from his Mom’s hand and slipped his hand easily on its place. He squeezed her hand tightly and was rewarded with one in return.


And here they sat in silence, waiting for the phone to ring. 


Before long it did.


Regina nearly fell from the stool as she surged towards the device and swiped at it furiously to connect the video. She turned so Emma would be able to see both of them on the screen when the call connected.


“Hey, Ma!” 


“Hello, my love.”


The response wasn’t as enthusiastic but the blonde woman at the other end of the call was fighting back a smile as she was gazing longingly at them. It wasn’t lost on either of the Mills’ that something was going on, but neither of them wanted to be the one to ask. 


“How has your day been?” if Emma was good at something, it was avoiding things. And right now she was avoiding whatever got her smile turned upside down. 


“We haven’t really done much today, since Henry is officially off school for the next few weeks.” Regina smiled tenderly at Henry before turning back to her phone to meet the shining green eyes.


“Are you excited for your holidays, kid?” Emma asked, genuinely curious about what Henry had to say despite whatever was bothering her. 


Henry launched into another wild story about the snow castle they had been building for few weeks now and how they were ‘in schedule’ to finish it before Christmas. But if the snow kept coming they’d be expanding it before going back to school. 


Emma seemed to get more and more enthusiastic about possibly being their building buddy when she returned, but Regina didn’t miss the heaviness in her girlfriends eyes even through slightly grainy video call. 


“When are you going to be home?” 


Henry had dared to ask the question Regina herself couldn’t get out of her mouth and her eyes zeroed on Emma who was fidgeting nervously. This didn’t bode well but they needed Emma to just tell them.


“I don’t think I will make it in time, Henry.” 


Regina had been battling her fears regarding this but she never really thought that Emma would be missing this. For a lot of people it probably seemed like a silly thing to be upset about but last year had changed so many things for the two of them. It was not only the holiday that was meant to be spend with family but it was also going to be marking their one year anniversary. 


Of their first kiss. Of the first time they made love. Of them becoming a couple. Of them promising each other forever because they had wasted so much time.


Of them saying ‘I love you’.


Regina knew this was not Emma’s fault, she knew her girlfriend had tried her hardest to bring back the person she was meant to find but right now the sadness was overpowering her rational thinking. 


Without saying a word she handed her phone to Henry and got up to leave the kitchen. She was going to cry in the privacy of her office and Henry didn’t need to see it, even when she was sure he knew it was going to happen.


“Regina!” she could hear Emma’s tiny voice come from the phone Henry was now holding but she didn’t turn around. She couldn’t.


Closing the office door firmly, she quickly moved to her alcohol cabinet that was now under strict lock and key. Pouring herself a glass of cider felt familiar and oddly comforting, even when she had started making a considerable effort to not drink when things got hard. 


But if there was a reason to drink it would be her girlfriend missing their second family Christmas and their first anniversary because she was running after a convict across the country, as favour to someone she hadn’t seen in years.


Yeah, definitely a good reason for a glass of cider. 


Sitting down on the couch by the fireplace, Regina sipped her drink steadily and willing her body to stop shaking. She didn’t want to cry, it just made her feel sick afterwards, but it felt like her chest was slowly caving in. 


Falling in love with Emma Swan was something she had never really counted into her plans. Not only had she been the fated Savior who was going to break her Dark Curse after 28 years, but she was the True Love daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming. 


How could that have happened?


Regina used to think it was preposterous, but upon closer examination it all made so much sense. Emma was also the woman who carried Henry safely to term and gave Regina a chance to be a mother, something she could never repay. The blonde nuisance had also become Regina’s own personal Savior, believing in her when nobody else did and saving her life more times than she could count. 


Emma was the one who saved what was left of her bleeding heart. 


Huge tears were dropping onto Regina’s lap as she silently cried over the moment she - they - were going to be missing. 


She was unsure how long she had sat alone in the dark before Henry knocked on the office door. Blinking wildly she put down her now empty cider glass and called for her son to come in.


Without putting on any of the lights, Henry made his way over and sat next to her on the couch. When they had sat together in the kitchen, Henry had taken away Regina’s phone but now he pressed it into her palm instead.


He pressed a kiss to her cheek before getting up and heading towards the door, no doubt getting ready to go to bed as it had gotten quite late. Before he stepped through the doorway he said quietly.


“Call her. She feels just as broken as you do.”


With that he closed the door and left Regina alone in the darkness.



Regina was anxiously pacing the foyer, slightly unnerved by the flapping of her slippers against the marble floors. It was December 23rd and she was waiting. Always waiting.


Emma Swan was due to arrive any minute now, and she didn’t want to have to rush to open the door. Henry was still getting ready for the day, end of the year holidays being their time to sleep late and hang out only in their comfy clothes.


Regina had battled with herself the better part of the morning. She wanted to look breathtaking, wear her tightest red dress and curl her hair and impress. She wanted to look desirable, so otherworldly that Emma couldn’t take her eyes off of her. 


But this was not what today was about; today was about family, warmth and comfort. And she could not lay on the couch watching movies in a tight dress. 


So instead she had pulled out a bag from her closet that Henry had given her few weeks ago. He had called it ‘the get up’ knowing full well his mother didn’t own many comfy clothes and this holiday always called for it. 


A black pair of leggings had been a happy surprise, something Regina had started wearing more and more while she was home. But what had made her roll her eyes but smile despite it all was a two sizes too big, apple red hoodie with a black silhouette of a crown on it. 


As she slipped it on, she almost moaned because she was pretty sure she hadn’t felt comfort before. The fabric was soft and it reached all the way past her butt, making her feel fluffy. A foreign feeling for the once feared Evil Queen but she couldn't really find it in herself to care. It was Christmas after all.


So after slipping on a red pair of slippers - also by the courtesy of Henry - she had made her way downstairs to start their late breakfast. 


Emma was meant to be spending the next few days at the mansion and Regina had invited her to join them early so she could have breakfast with them as a part of their tradition. So now everything was prepped in the kitchen and the only thing she was missing was the adult Swan and the young half Swan.


A knock sounded through the foyer and Regina swirled around and almost lost her footing. Tugging her hoodie down nervously she crossed the foyer and opened the door to greet their guest. 


The irony of it all was that her plan was to look so good it would leave Emma breathless, but instead just seeing the blonde hair in easy curls was what left her gasping for breath. The blonde woman was dressed in her usual attire that consisted of skintight jeans, a tank top and a leather jacket. How she wasn’t freezing Regina didn’t understand but goodness, she was beautiful.


“Hi.” Emma whispered, very obviously looking Regina up and down, grinning widely.


“Hello, dear.” Regina leaned on the door and smiled back, her entire being calming down now that Emma was here. It was interesting to her how the other woman’s presence had such an affect on her. It was easy to feel content with Emma around.


“Can I come in?” Emma asked after a while, a shiver shaking her body and Regina stepped back to let the blonde in. What the brunette hadn’t noticed until now was the massive bag she hauled over her shoulder and a simple black gym bag she had over another. 


Emma was carrying her heavy bags like it was nothing and Regina could feel her cheeks heat up. She was only human and the other woman’s physique was mouthwatering.


“Where should I put the gifts? I have them all wrapped but I don’t know how you normally do this.” Emma had taken off her boots and put them in the hallway closet. She turned around to face Regina and the older woman had a sudden urge to gently cup the pale face and kiss her cheek. 


She moved, like in daze and stopped in front of Emma. Every fibre of her rational thinking was telling her to back off, to not ruin anything but before she could get herself under control, her hand was resting against Emma’s cheek.


Panic was rising fast after that and she wanted to step away but Emma was warm against her hand, soft and oh so beautiful. The urge to kiss hadn’t lessened, in fact it was only growing alongside her panic. It was an interesting sensation, a one she could not shake herself out from.


But just like always, Emma made her calm down. The blonde leaned her face more firmly into the hand and smiled. She lifted her own hand against Regina’s and held her there, clearly enjoying the small gesture.


“Where to, Regina?” she whispered and motioned towards the bag of gifts. 


“You can take them to the office. I always put them out when Henry goes to sleep.” Regina whispered as well, not wanting to break the magic that was surrounding their moment.


“I can do that.” Emma pressed a sweet kiss on Regina’s palm before taking off towards the office. “I was promised breakfast. What are we having?”


Regina was left staring at her hand in awe and the blush was slowly rising on her face. They had been getting increasingly more touchy and flirty as well but this was new.


“Mom.” there was a whisper from the top of the staircase, and as Regina looked up she was met with Henry who was partially leaning over the railing. “You need to get yourself together if you plan on wooing her.”


“Oh, shush you.” Regina was sure the colour of her face was matching her hoodie but there was also a pleased smile on her lips. She had not talked to Henry about any of this, but it was clear that the teenager knew what was developing between his mothers. He gave not so subtle hints and made comments such as this and that alone calmed Regina considerably.


Henry made it down the steps and stopped in front of Regina. Only now did the former Queen realise that the boy in front of her was wearing a hoodie very similar to her own, but with a black quill printed in the chest. He had also gone with the main colour of Christmas, but instead of leggings he was wearing a pair of joggers. 


“Merry almost Christmas, Mom.” he wished and hugged her tightly. Regina wrapped her arms around him, never passing up an opportunity to hug her son.


“Merry almost Christmas to you too, sweetheart.” she pressed a kiss to Henry’s cheek before releasing him. “Please go and show Emma to the guest room and then I expect you two downstairs to set the counter so we can finally have breakfast.”


Henry dashed off with a smile and Regina headed into the kitchen to start pancakes. She was going for a full breakfast spread but she decided to start with making three different kinds of pancakes as they all had their favourites. Henry liked his with blueberries, Emma with chocolate chips and freshly cut bananas and Regina preferred hers with only few chocolate chips and with a bowl of raspberries. She was an apple girl through and through but she had always liked berries with her pancakes.


Making the pancakes was easy and as she flipped the last one on Emma’s plate, she heard a throat being cleared behind her. Regina turned around and her mouth fell open.


“I think Henry intended for all of us to match.” 


Indeed. Emma was wearing a matching red hoodie but with a swan in the front and she had gathered her long hair into a loose bun on top of her head. But what made Regina reach for the counter to steady herself were the black rimmed glasses that were sitting comfortably on top of Emma’s nose. 


Emma was definitely the breathtaking one.


“So it would seem.” Regina uttered and she cursed herself for sounding less than regal.


Emma came closer and peeked past Regina towards the counter where the ready pancakes were waiting. A grin spread across her face and she reached over Regina to pick a few raspberries from the bowl she had set out for herself.


Regina was feeling like she was high from the closeness of Emma’s body. Her brain was not getting enough oxygen and her senses were flooded by the subtle scent of Emma’s perfume. 


“You look gorgeous.” 


She had not meant to say that, and her brown eyes widened. It was the truth of course, but after what happened in the foyer this was too bold. She had real feelings for Emma but just blurting things out like this was not going to do her any favours.


How Emma surprised her again was something Regina couldn’t comprehend.


“Thanks, babe.” and there was a firm kiss against her cheek. “Can I start my pancakes now? I don’t like it when they get soggy.”


Regina was vaguely aware she nodded as a reply because Emma sat down and didn’t waste a second arranging the cut bananas in a shape of a smiley face across her pancake. Henry came in and rushed towards his plate as Emma was finishing her second. 


They all made small talk and Henry was making a list of movies he wanted them to watch today in preparation for tomorrow. Regina served a second wave of breakfast food before sitting on Emma’s other side to start her pancakes. She didn’t mind waiting to eat hers and the berries tasted just as great as they always did. 


While Emma and Henry devoured every last crumb, Regina sipped her coffee happily, ready to get this day properly started. She tried her hardest not to stare at the blonde woman, currently in animated conversation with their son about their most Grinch-esque qualities.


After cleaning up their breakfast mess, the family of three settled into the living room. Henry had brought down his duvet like he always did and made himself a nest into the biggest armchair of the room. 


Emma settled into the one end of the couch, trying to create a nest from the blankets Regina had set on the couch but from the amount of huffing and puffing it was clearly not going as she hoped.


“You know, you are also allowed to bring down the duvet from the guest bedroom.” Regina mentioned casually but she didn’t miss the brightness of Emma’s eyes as she darted from her spot up the stairs and out of sight.


“You’d never let me run in the house like that.” Henry pointed out from his place at the armchair. He wasn’t looking directly towards his Mom, but he was smirking knowingly.


Regina didn’t really have a comeback to that because he was right, of course. Emma was getting away with a lot of stuff lately. It was hard to scold her though because then she pouted and Regina had to literally leave the room because it was just that adorable.


Footsteps could be heard rushing towards the stairs and heavy thumps followed. And then in a doorway stood Emma, wrapped from head to toe in her duvet, smiling the biggest smile Regina had ever seen. 


“Lets get this show on the road, kid. Hit it!”


Henry’s list always started with the ‘Elf’. During the movie Regina had been comfortable, lounging on her end of the couch. She was occasionally distracted by Emma’s and Henry’s sniggering. They were so similar and Regina couldn’t believe there used to be a time when she despised the similarities they shared. Now they were something she cherished.


But as Henry selected the second movie of the day, Regina was starting to feel just slightly restless and her toes were freezing. She was contemplating on starting a fire but then she felt eyes on her. Turning to her side her brown eyes locked with Emma’s green. Emma mouthed ‘come on’ and only then did Regina notice the duvet she was holding up.


Emma wanted her to share her duvet. 


Regina wasn’t one to lose an opportunity and she quietly shuffled closer. Emma used her arm to pull Regina closer by her waist and draped the duvet snuggly over her shoulders. 


This was not only sharing, this was snuggling. And Regina was over the moon.


Falling in love with Emma Swan and trying to come to terms with it had been just one more struggle added to her already challenging life, but being in love with her was easy.


Even when she had been with Hook, it was still easy to love her. She was like sunshine in the middle of her darkness and ever since she arrived in town, she was a constant in her life in a way no one other than Henry had ever been. 


From a meek ‘hi’ at her porch to this very moment, snuggled together in matching hoodies, a day before Christmas. 


Emma’s body was warm and strong against Regina’s and she was trying her hardest to keep her focus on the movie. But Emma was getting sleepy and was leaning heavily against the armrest of the couch and as they were wrapped in the same duvet, she was pulling Regina with her. 


By the time second movie was finished they were fully laying down, Emma with her back towards the TV and Regina sandwiched between Emma and the back of the couch. Emma was snoring softly against Regina’s neck and Regina was drawing circles on Emma’s back as she was trying to keep her eyes on the screen.


Emma’s strong arms were wrapped around Regina’s form and somehow the blonde had even managed to wiggle one of her legs over the other woman’s. 


While this was something Regina had only dared to dream about she was feeling nervous. Even though the events of the past month suggested there was something going on between them, she couldn’t stop the self doubt from creeping in. 


Emma was everything. And what was Regina?


“Mom, I can practically hear you overthink.” 


Brown eyes snapped to meet the green of her son. He was still happily nestled into his chair but he had fully turned to face the couch. Regina could feel the blush coming on but she didn’t turn away.


“It’s alright to feel happy sometimes, you know.” Henry said and looked at his Ma who was holding onto his Mom like a koala bear. “Just because you feel good, doesn’t mean its destined to break.”


Regina almost laughed but she held it in. That was exactly what her life was, had always been and no matter how hard she tried it felt impossible for it to be anything other than that.


“You just described my life, Henry.” she whispered, being careful not to speak too loudly. “I’m afraid that this isn’t what I hope it is.”


Henry scoffed, and motioned wildly at his sleeping Ma. “You are worried, that the woman who is using you as her personal body pillow, who has kissed you not once, but twice since they arrived in this house today, who has been by your side for years, is somehow… not feeling the same way you do?”


Well, when you put it like that.


“I guess you are right.” Regina couldn’t help but grin a little because Henry was making fantastic points. Sometimes you really needed someone else to spell it out for you.


“Just be happy Mom, you deserve it.” Henry smiled and turned towards the TV and chose another movie. He turned down the volume so he wouldn’t be disturbing Emma and Regina let her body relax. She fell asleep with her lips gently pressed against Emma’s forehead. 



“I am so fucking done with this.” Emma mumbled over a coffee cup as she glared daggers at the man sitting in front of her. They were seated in a roadside diner in the middle of nowhere, and Emma was just about ready to throw the cup still filled with bitter coffee against the nearest wall. 


“I know you are pissed off, Swan, but there is nothing we can do except catch this son of a bitch.” said the man sitting with her in the booth.


He was a local young Sheriff by the name of Mark, who had offered to help her track down her bail jumper when she walked through their station doors some days ago. They had run down clues and talked to people for two days, and all they knew was that the scumbag was in town but they had no idea where.


“But I promised I’d be home by now! I promised-“ Emma was getting worked up, still unable to believe this trip had turned out to be such a dumpster fire. 


“I know you promised your wife that you’d be home for Christmas but I also know you made a deal, and you are the kind of woman who is going to honour that.” Mark was very direct which was something Emma appreciated a lot.


But wait, wife?!


“She is not my-“ Emma tried to correct him but she was cut off once more.


“The way you have mentioned her just about a thousand times in two days tells me everything I need to know.” Mark's smirk was knowing. “You miss her and your kid, and want to get home to them, and being a Grinch over that is totally understandable.” 


Emma smiled weakly at the Sheriff. She really couldn’t believe she was going to be missing this because of a favour, but at least she knew there was love waiting for her when she made it home. 


“Did she call you back?” Mark asked as he sipped his own coffee and made a face. His black hair was covering half of his face as he was tiredly leaning on his hand. It had not only been a long few days for Emma but for him as well. 


“She did.” Emma’s smile was soft as she was staring into the depth of her coffee cup. “She said she was sorry for walking out on our call, but she only did it because she was sad.” that made Emma’s heart ache. 


“That makes sense.” Mark nodded. “But she loves you now and she will after.”


“I have talked about her a lot, haven’t I?” Emma laughed lightly. She had never loved anyone like she loved Regina so talking about her significant other was somewhat a new experience for her. 


“You have, but hey I’m happy for you, sis.” Mark said and lifted his coffee cup slightly so Emma could tap it with her own. 


They both took a sip and as Emma was lowering her cup, something caught her attention by the diner door. When they had arrived, they had automatically made a beeline towards the far away booth in the corner, unintentionally giving themselves the perfect view to the door. 


Mark had his back towards it but Emma could see everything clearly, not that she had paid any mind to who was coming and going. 


But the person who had just walked through the doors, was the guy she had been chasing for weeks now. That twisted son of a bitch who had jumped bail in Boston had now entered the same diner they were currently occupying. 


Emma was almost afraid to take her eyes off her target but she had to signal to Mark because otherwise they’d lose him. She met his eyes quickly and he could see something was going on just with a single look.


“What is it?” Mark didn’t seem too alarmed yet but there was urgency in his question.


“I will shoot you where you sit if you turn around now, but the asshole we have been chasing just stepped in here.” Emma said in low voice, now following her target with her eyes. 


He had sat by the bar and was ordering food by the looks of it. Even assholes had to eat.


“How do you want to handle this?” Mark asked, moving the coffee cup to the side and checking his gun and cuffs. He didn’t turn around, blindly trusting Emma in this moment.


“I’m going to walk past him and block the door. I’m gonna call him by his name and he will most likely try to flee to your direction. I need you to take knock him out cold. He will not run again.” Emma didn’t stop staring at the man who was sipping his coffee like it was any other day in the world, not like someone who was running away.


“I can do that.” Mark said and Emma stood.


She had done this countless of times before but it felt like there was more at stake this time around. When she had started on the job there was never anything other to fight for than herself and the fat payday that followed most of her targets. But in this moment she could only see the dark haired boy and his mother, standing by the orange line that separated their small fairytale town from the outside world.


Walking past him went seamlessly, and taking a deep breath Emma turned around and hollered:


“Kirk Daniels, fancy meeting you here!”


And just like she had predicted, the man took one look at her while his brain registered the name that had been called out before taking off into the opposite direction. He only made few steps before Mark stepped in front of him and knocked him out with the handle of his gun. Not wanting to take any chances, he cuffed him seconds after he hit the ground. 


Emma rushed towards them to make sure there was no danger as Mark was flashing his badge to the other customers who were looking at them curiously. The asshole being out cold, Emma took out her phone and snapped a photo of him. 


Attaching it to a text message, he wrote a short message to Dean.


I’m done.


It only took a minute before there was an answer.


Go home.


Emma wasn’t about to fight him on that. It took a while for her to coordinate what to do with their catch and with few quick phone calls it was arranged that Mark would be delivering him to Boston.


“Are you sure there is nothing else you need?” Emma wanted nothing to do with the case but she also didn’t want to dump any more responsibility on her new friend than she already was.


“We are all good! I have always wanted to visit Boston so I’m looking forward to this, although the company is something to be desired for.” Mark kicked the still unconscious man who was now double cuffed to the back of his car.


“Well, say hi to Dean for me then. It was good meeting you.” Emma offered her hand so they could shake on their brief partnership. 


“It was good meeting you too, Emma Swan. Say hi to the wife and son for me.” Mark winked. “Oh and if you guys ever happen to be driving through here, do give me a call.” 


“I will.” Emma laughed before climbing into her car and slamming the door. There was only a quick stop to be made to pick up her stuff and then she was going to drive through the night to make it on time to see her family for breakfast tomorrow. 

Chapter Text

“Mom! Get up, it’s Christmas!”


Henry had always been excited on the Christmas morning and him growing up had not calmed him down. He was insistently knocking on Regina’s bedroom door, all the while yelling loudly. 


Regina wanted to roll out of bed and get ready for the day but her bed was feeling so incredibly comfortable. She burrowed deeper into the soft pillows and closed her eyes.


Henry moved from her door to the one just down the hall. His knocking was just as frantic but instead of calling his Mom, he was calling for his Ma. 


Regina was blushing all over again when she was thinking of how yesterday had gone. 


The two woman had napped on the couch, tightly wrapped around each other for the better part of the day. It felt like years worth of exhaustion had laid itself on them and they were more than happy to succumb under its force. 


Regina had always thought Emma would be a restless sleeper, tossing and hogging covers. But the blonde had barely moved from her spot the entire time. Her breathing had been calm, her glasses a bit wonky on her nose and her body warm. The nap had truly been glorious. 


Emma had awoken before Regina did because when she blinked open her brown eyes, she was looking directly into Emma’s green ones. There was not a sliver of panic or hesitation in them which shot down all of Reginas worries and allowed her to enjoy the remaining closeness.


They could hear the TV in the background as Henry was still going through his list of movies. There was no sun peeking from behind the curtains anymore as the outside world was enfolded in darkness. 


Emma had asked her sweetly how her sleep had been, like this was something that happened between them often. Their conversation afterwards had been sweet and innocent, like they were years younger and this was the first time they were flirting with another person. 


At some point Henry had dramatically reminded them that he was indeed in the room and he, as their son, didn’t want to hear such lame flirting. Emma threw a pillow at him afterwards and they reluctantly untangled themselves so Regina could go and make them a small dinner. 


Henry had turned in early in anticipation of the following day, but Regina didn’t miss the attempted wink he tried to shoot her way from behind Emma’s back. Regina felt like she had taught Henry everything but sadly neither of them could wink to save their lives. It didn’t stop him from trying though.


After Henry had made it safely upstairs and closed his door, Emma and Regina had set out all the gifts under the tree. Their interactions had been like they always were; teasing and snarky, but there was new softness to it that made Regina’s chest expand. The way Emma was with her was sweet and caring, but she never stopped using the nicknames she had come up with over the years nor did she never miss a chance to tease her. 


Loving someone who felt such comfort and freedom around you was otherworldly.


They had parted for the night at Regina’s bedroom door where Emma put her arms around Regina for a tight hug. Regina couldn’t resist and gave the blonde another kiss on her cheek but much closer to the corner of her mouth. The eye contact that followed was electric and Regina was sure this was going to be the time they kissed properly for the first time. 


But then Emma was slowly backing away, smiling all the same and gave a signature awkward wave by the guest bedroom door before stepping in and closing the door behind her. 


“Mooom! Get up!” 


Regina groaned louder than before and called out. “Henry, it’s too early for you to be up. Can you come and ask me again in 15 minutes?”


The door opened and Henry stood there with his arms crossed over his chest and unimpressed look on his face. “Mom, it’s Christmas. You know what this means.”


“I do indeed, but that doesn’t mean we couldn’t delay breakfast and presents with 15 minutes.” Regina yawned and snuggled further under her duvet.


“Yeah, what she said, kid.” Emma said behind Henry as she leaned her sleepy head on his broad shoulder and let out a pathetic yawn of her own. 


“You guys are the worst.” Henry rolled her eyes but it was clear he could at least find some humour in it. 


“It’s two against one, sweetheart. Snuggle in.” Regina wiggled to the middle of the bed to make some room. Henry made a show of gathering speed before jumping on the bed and getting comfy on the spot Regina had left for him. 


Regina draped the duvet on top of him and they both got comfy with a sigh. Regina closed her eyes for a while but when nothing happened, she opened them again. 


Emma was still standing in the doorway and she was fidgeting nervously. The brunette knew if it was her standing there she would be feeling the exact same way so she decided to offer reassurance.


“That also includes you, Miss Swan.” 


Just like Henry, Emma didn’t have to be told twice. She rounded the bed quickly and climbed into the bed on Regina’s other side, effectively sandwiching the former queen in between her and Henry. An arm snaked around Regina’s waist and she unconsciously pressed her body closer to Emma’s who was now flush against her backside. 


“If you guys are going to be gross, then I’m out of here.” 


“Shut up, you little shit.” Emma’s sleepy voice said as she hugged herself closer to Regina. 


Regina felt so happy in this moment and she pressed herself tighter against Emma, eager to feel the blonde’s body against hers again. They had been a family for a long time but how their dynamic worked really made it sink in.


It was unsure how long they stayed in the bed, each of them drifting off at least for a bit, but when Regina opened her eyes for a second time she felt much more rested. Henry had disappeared somewhere, no doubt getting downstairs ready but Emma was still here, tightly snuggled into her back, seemingly dead asleep. 


Turning carefully in Emma’s hold, Regina pressed her forehead against the blondes and inhaled deeply. They had laid like this on the couch yesterday and she had graved an opportunity to do this again. 


It was unclear to the brunette where they stood in terms of their relationship. They kept doing this but neither of them had made a proper move or brought anything up in a conversation. Regina was normally someone who would face things like this head on but she found herself hesitating. There was so much at stake here, and not just for her but for Emma and Henry as well.


“Do we have to get up yet?” a muffled grumble could be heard and Regina opened her eyes. Emma hadn’t opened her eyes but her breathing had quickened, signalling she was in the land of the living for now. 


“Henry is waiting, and while I appreciate his attempt at making breakfast, he has also inherited your cooking ability.” yes, snark was good so early in the morning.


“You try to insult me but not being able to cook has scored me endless meals at your place.” Emma pointed out and it was indeed very true; the blonde woman dined in the mansion more often than not. 


“None the less, I think it might be wise for us to get up.” Regina didn’t really want to untangle herself from Emma’s body but there was a day to get started on.


“I will miss cuddling you, though.” it was said so quietly but Regina caught it. It was a first actual acknowledgement of their physical closeness and Regina could feel her face warm up with sheer delight. She pulled slightly away from Emma so she could meet her eyes. Their bodies couldn’t even fit a hair in between them, but now they were at least able to look at each other. 


“I will miss it too.” she whispered earnestly, itching to finally close the distance between their lips. But before she could, Emma spoke again. 


“Maybe we can do some more of this later tonight?” there was confidence in Emma’s voice and Regina found that wildly attractive. Everything about Emma was like a magnet and she was helplessly pulled closer with each new thing the blonde woman said or did. 


“I’d like that.” Regina was sure the blush had covered her entire face by this point but she couldn’t bring herself to care. They would have having a first family Christmas today and afterwards she would get a chance to be wrapped up in Emma’s embrace. 


Without saying anything more, they got up and made their way downstairs where Henry was just about to start with pancakes. Instead of taking over, Regina stood next to him, guiding him through the motions of cooking breakfast. He was a fast study because of course he was. 


Emma was sitting on the breakfast bar, looking at the two brunettes and smiling from ear to ear. 


As breakfast was being served by excited Henry, he reminded them that as soon as they were done there would be the next important step to their day and that was opening presents. It was evident that the teenager had seen the pile of presents waiting for him under the tree, his whole family having gone insane in spoiling him rotten this year. 


Emma and Regina cleaned up while Henry went to get everyone blankets around the tree. He had also promised to start a fire just the way Regina had taught him couple of years ago. Regina could feel her mouth turn downwards when she thought about the small boy who would sit on her lap and watch the fire for ages while she was reading to him. Gone was that small boy and here was this proud, tall, independence seeking young man who was getting ready to fly from their mansion shaped nest. 


“So what happens after we open presents?” Emma asked as she wiped her hands on a towel.


“Well, Henry goes on massive overdrive because he wants to try absolutely everything he got. Knowing our families there will be several games wrapped up and ready to be consumed so it’s safe to say that will keep him occupied.” Regina reached for the towel and wiped her hands as well. 


“Maybe he will let me join.” Emma looked so hopeful. “I got him two of them after all.”


Regina rolled her eyes but stepped closer and reached for Emma’s hand. Lacing their fingers together she leaned closer and pressed her mouth against the other woman’s ear.


“I’m sure there is something else you could be doing rather than yelling at a TV when our son kicks your ass, hmm?”


Regina could feel delight blooming in her chest when Emma took a stuttering breath. The normally shiny green eyes had darkened looking like the deepest of forests of their old homeland. 


“Holy shit, Regina.” the pale cheeks were flushed red, her breathing just slightly laboured. Regina was drinking in Emma’s response, delighted over her reaction. 


“Come along, dear. Our son awaits.” without giving Emma any more time to recover, Regina took off towards the living room, not checking was the blonde following. But from the slapping of slippers against the floor, it was clear that Emma was only few steps behind her. 


Henry was always the one to divide presents but this was the first time there was a third person huddled with them around the Christmas tree. He read out loud every tag even when most things were for him. Neither woman couldn’t hold in their smile as Henry was getting gradually more and more excited with each present he put to his pile. 


“And this is for Mom and the last one is for Ma.” 


He handed them their presents before looking expectantly at Regina. He resembled a puppy with his huge eyes and Emma snorted. It was clearly something that happened every year though because Regina smiled gently and said.


“Go ahead.”


It was impressive how Henry managed to make wrapping paper fly so high. Considering his pile of gifts was quite impressive, he managed to go through it in less than 15 minutes. And while he was going through his gifts with such speed, he made sure to put everything beside him neatly and include the card he got with each one so he knew who to thank for what.


Emma and Regina spend more time watching him than opening their own presents. But gradually they started going through their own piles. 


It wasn’t too hard to guess from the shape of the present, but David had gotten Emma her very own sword, having mentioned it was time for her to learn how to be a Charming. 


Snow had put together a collection of recipes from the old world and bound them into a book for Regina. The older woman turned the pages in awe, already planning on making some of these dishes in the near future. 


Emma hoped beyond hope none of them included any chimera meat, because that might become the first time she ever turned down Regina’s cooking.


They both had gotten something from each of their family members, everything quite spot on and mostly quite useful, except maybe the drink mixing book Ruby had gotten Emma. Regina had snatched it from Emma before scoffing. Emma wasn’t sure but it sure looked a lot like jealousy to her. 


Henry however gave them something that made both of them tear up.


He had given them a book that closely resembled his old storybook but most of the pages were blank. The first opening however had his refined writing and a picture taped on the page next to it. As the women leaned closer, their eyes misted over as they gazed on three smiling faces of their family. It was a quick selfie Henry had insisted they took after finishing decorating their Christmas tree. They were all mushed together and you could see the tree in the background.


Henry had written an explanation in the beginning.


I wanted there to be something we could start collecting our memories into. And what’s better than a storybook, right? I love you, moms and I can’t wait to document our adventures.

Henry could see the effect his gift was having on his mothers and he came closer so they could hug him. All three of them hadn’t hugged like this since the last villain and it felt a bit foreign as there was no one trying to kill them. 


As Henry went back over to his pile of gifts, Regina was ready to unwrap her last present. They hadn’t agreed on getting each others gifts, but Regina had seen Emma’s handwriting in the card attached to the small package so she had saved it for last. She had no idea what the other woman could possibly want to give her, but she was excited to find out. 


She could feel eyes on her, Emma no doubt wanting to see her reaction. She lifted her gaze and smiled reassuringly towards the blonde, before she carefully tore the wrapping paper away. 


What fell on her lap was a small white bunny and an envelope. Regina was feeling very confused but she didn’t voice her thoughts before she could examine this gift more closely. The bunny was small, just big enough to fit her palm. It looked like it had been held onto before, but it was still in good shape. Setting the bunny into her lap she reached for the envelope. 


Pulling out a piece of paper, she met Emma’s nervous gaze before reading what the blonde had written.




I thought long and hard what to give you but it was hard to come up with something you already don’t have. I mean you have magic, you can just poof things out of thin air! You deserve the world, but instead you have given me, us, that without asking for anything back. You gave me your memories of raising Henry and I have never been able to find a way to even begin to thank you. But that gave me an idea.


What you are holding in your hands is the sonogram I got when I was expecting Henry. I don’t know why I held onto it all these years but I did. Now it’s yours. I wanted to share what I could about the beginning of our son. And the bunny is the toy I bought for him after I got out of prison and whenever I thought of him, I held onto his tiny paw. I never regretted giving him away because I knew he was better off without me, that I was giving him his best chance. And I was right. You are the best mother anyone could ever ask for and I’m so happy Henry found his way to you. 


Merry Christmas.


Love, Emma


Regina didn’t realise she was fully crying before there was a hand on her shoulder. She tried to focus her blurry eyes on the face of the woman who was leaning towards her, concerned and alarmed. Henry had also come closer, but he still kept his distance, not wanting to overwhelm his Mom any more.


“Regina?” Emma asked as she sat down in front of Regina and moved her hand from her shoulder to her face, willing her to look at her. “Have I done something wrong?”


She knew it had been a bit of risk and while she had thought Regina might like receiving something from the earliest phases of Henry’s life she really hadn’t thought Regina was going to be crying her heart out either. She exchanged worried looks with Henry but focused back on Regina as the other woman was slowly calming down. 


Regina was looking down on her lap, her sole focus on the slightly wrinkly black and white picture that very clearly showed a shape. She smiled widely, before looking up at Emma and Henry. She turned the picture towards Henry and laughed.


“This is how small you were. Can you believe it?” 


She sounded so amazed that Emma couldn’t help but laugh. Oh gods, she wanted to kiss this woman silly. 


Henry reached for the photo, holding it delicately all the while examining it. He looked curious, most likely never having seen anything like it before. He then looked at his Mom again, seeing the emotions swirling everywhere around her. He smiled and gave the photo back to her. 


Regina pressed the photo gently to her chest before turning to Emma. Her eyes were shining and the smile could not be wiped away. With her other hand, she carefully snaked her hand behind Emma’s neck and pulled their foreheads together. 


“Thank you.” she whispered. “You have no idea what this means to me.”


“I think I have a pretty good idea after seeing your reaction.” Emma joked, loving the easiness of their closeness. Every time they touched it felt so right, so good and she hoped they’d never stop doing this. 


“You found the way to give me the perfect gift.” Regina pulled back and waved her hand. The sonogram was now enclosed in a photo frame that was no doubt there to protect this one of a kind treasure. 


With another wave, both the frame and the small bunny disappeared and appeared on top of the mantle. Satisfied with her actions, Regina reached for the neatly wrapped small package that was near where Emma had sat opening her presents. It was the one from her. 


Regina shared a nervous look with Henry, having asked Henry for his opinion before going through with this. He nodded, smiling widely. 


Regina handed Emma the small package and sat back, looking at her expectantly. 


Now it was Emma’s turn to be nervous because she hadn’t been able to come up with anything for Regina to give her. There was nothing that she truly wanted, not anymore as she had gotten her wish.


“What is it?” she couldn’t help but ask as she shook the small gift next to her ear and tried to listen for any possible sounds that would give away what Regina had gotten her. 


Rolling her eyes, the former queen crossed her arms across her chest and looked at the blonde. “How about you open it so you don’t have to ask?”


Emma tore into the wrapping with same gusto as Henry had and she was left holding a black box. She hesitated only for a beat before opening it and when she did it was her turn to be left speechless and fighting down her tears. 


In a middle of the box, laid a key. It wasn’t just any old key, as it was very similar to Henry’s key that she kept borrowing from time to time. This was a key to the Mifflin Street 108.


“I know this might seem a bit quick and out of the blue,” Regina started and to her credit, her voice was only wavering a little. “but this is something that feels right for us, for Henry and I. You are part of our family and we would love to have you here with us permanently.”


This was already so much to handle but what completely disarmed Emma was what Regina finished with. 


“Stay with us, Emma.”


The blonde wasn’t sure what kicked her boldness in high gear all of a sudden but before she knew it she had surged forward and crashed her lips against Regina’s. 


Without them noticing, Henry scooped some of his gifts into his arms and left the living room, understanding that this was not where he was meant to be right now. Where he was meant to be was in his room, in front of his TV, testing out his new games. 


The kiss started off a bit messy, both of them trying to get their frantic breathing under control. As Regina’s hand made it to Emma’s face, they both calmed, letting their mouths explore. 


Emma’s lips were much softer than Regina had anticipated, the feel of them against her own downright criminal. Whatever day dreams she had had about this moment didn’t make the reality any justice. Kissing Emma was like breathing and she hoped this meant they were going to be doing this for a long time. 


Maybe even forever. 


“Regina.” Emma moaned against her lips and Regina could feel her entire body shake. Not only was she hopelessly in love with the woman she was currently kissing, but she wanted her. With every fibre of her being. 


With that realisation, she broke the kiss hastily. Emma hadn’t even opened her eyes but Regina looked around worriedly. She had almost forgotten they had kissed in front of their son, but right now he was nowhere to be found. Some of his things were missing, so he had definitely made it upstairs.


Not wanting to waste another moment, Regina attached her lips back on Emma’s before the blonde had a chance to complain. Now she pushed forward, sitting comfortably on Emma’s lap. Everything became more, their bodies pressing together, both of them hungry for the other. If they were to go any longer they’d be having their first time in front of the Christmas tree.


“Regina, Regina.” Emma panted as she pulled away from their steamy kiss. Her lips were a bit swollen, but she felt so alive. Kissing Regina was - for the lack of a better term - fucking awesome.


“Yes?” Regina felt like a young girl once more, unburdened by her past and horrible deeds. She felt like she once had in her parents estate, young and in love. Carefree like she hadn’t been since. 


“I love you.” considering it had felt like one of the most scariest things ever prior to tonight, right now it felt like the easiest thing to say. Emma felt like laughing because why had she been worried? Looking at things now, she felt stupid for worrying in the first place.


Regina always looked beautiful, but she was otherworldly when she smiled. Each smile directed Emma’s way went into a special place in her heart, stored away like treasures. And now there was the most brilliant smile spread across her face, as she pressed a sweet kiss on Emma’s waiting lips.


“I love you, too.”


The kiss that followed the words was gentle, full of promise. They were going to talk, but that was for later. Right now the only thing they wanted was to love each other, because they had wasted years. This had really turned out to be a Christmas that changed everything.



Emma knew the she was cutting it very close and she was abusing absolutely every speed limit while racing home. She had only stopped a few times to fill gas and to have a cup of coffee so she wouldn’t fall asleep on the wheel. 


It was already six in the morning and Henry was going to be up in an hour. Emma was unsure how much more she had left, but she just kept driving. She had been playing her trusty playlist for the most of the trip but the closer she got, the more she needed the quiet so she could think.


Seven o’clock came and went and it was nearing eight when Emma could see the familiar sign ahed. Pressing the gas pedal she raced across the town line. 


The unsettling feeling of magic surged through her body, leaving her breathless and everything blurred. Blinking furiously she tried to get herself under control so she wouldn’t end this trip wrapped around a tree. 


It only took few minutes before she turned her car to a familiar street and headed towards the end where a huge white mansion was standing. 


Parking her car to the curb, Emma stepped out and stretched her body. It had been a long drive and while her muscles where sore it was worth being here this morning. Emma almost ran to the black gate that separated the sidewalk from the lush front yard of Mifflin Street 108. The walkway that followed led to the porch and while walking Emma couldn’t help but smile at the numerous times she had walked towards this house.


Not every visit led to smiles and happy memories, but after their rocky start each visit had gotten increasingly more happier. But right here on this walkway everything was set in motion and Emma’s life changed.


While the history between Regina and her was difficult at times, Emma had always cherished their connection from the very beginning. Regina Mills had always been so layered, brilliant and so utterly fascinating. 


In a black and white world, Regina was like a rainbow. 


As Emma walked towards the house, she tried to catch a glimpse of either Regina or Henry through the windows but she was out of luck. They were most likely still having breakfast in the kitchen and those windows were pointed towards the backyard. 


Regina had a doorbell but Emma had always knocked. She could hear her girlfriend before she could see her. Regina was having a conversation with Henry about something and her tone indicated that she was displeased about their current topic. It was rather surprising considering what day it was and how it usually took proper effort for Henry to do something to annoy his mother. 


“Henry Daniel Mills, this is the absolute last time I will-“ and the door opened to reveal a curly bedhead, a set of flannel pyjamas and bright red slippers. 


Regina’s mouth dropped open as Emma gave her a silly grin and a small wave. “Hi.”


“Emma.” Regina whispered, her eyes never leaving the blonde standing in front of her. Breath. Another. “Emma!” she rushed forward and threw her arms around Emma. 


Emma wrapped her arms around Regina’s waist, hoisting the smaller woman off the ground and pressing her fully against her body. To steady them, Regina wrapped her legs around Emma’s thin waist. 


“You are here. How did you- I don’t understand.” Regina was laughing against Emma’s lush hair, struggling to form her thoughts into actual sentences. Just hearing the other woman laugh made Emma hold onto her even tighter. 


“I promised I’d be home for Christmas, didn’t I?” Emma smiled and pulled back enough so she could nuzzle their noses together gently. 


“You did.” Regina smiled so brightly Emma was sure the former queen would be complaining about her sore cheeks come tomorrow. Guiding Emma towards her with a hand on her cheeks, Regina pressed their lips firmly together, unable to hold in her moan. 


Emma didn’t think anyone had ever missed her like this before and she was in verge of tears while she held onto Regina and kissed her with everything she had. 


“Mom, where did you go? I wasn’t done making my point and I-“ Henry appeared in the doorway but stopped cold when he saw the scene unfolding before his eyes.


“Ma?” he suddenly sounded years younger and Emma broke apart from Regina to turn towards their son. She spread her arms open and Henry launched to hug her. Emma had never considered herself a hugger before Henry knocked on her door in Boston.


Her showed affection so effortlessly and there was a huge amount of it to go around, and Emma wanted to thank Regina for one more thing when it came to raising Henry.


“See Mom?” Henry said as he pulled back to stand between his mothers. “I told you she was going to make it.”


“You are the Truest Believer for a reason, Henry.” Regina smiled at him and ruffled his hair. He tried to duck away out of teenage grumpiness but his smile was giving him away.


“Now, are you two allowing me to freeze to death after driving all this way to surprise you for Christmas?” Emma was truly freezing as she was once again not well equipped for the chill of December. 


Regina rolled her eyes before taking Emma’s hand into her own and pulling her towards the open door, Henry skipping in front of them. When they finally stood inside the door, Regina turned and wrapped her arms around Emma’s waist.


“Merry Christmas, my love.”


“Merry Christmas.”