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Words Of Devotion

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Emma Swan knew it was early when she woke up that morning. She knew even before having glanced at the alarm clock on the bedside table. And she knew that she wouldn’t be able to go back to sleep.

Because she was getting married tomorrow.

And she couldn’t have been more excited about it. After months and months of preparation, everything was finally ready. The dresses were bought, the rings taken care of, the tuxedo’s for Henry and little Neal ditto, Emma had her something new (a ridiculously expensive bracelet David had surprised her with), she had her something old (a bottle of fruit-scented perfume she’d had forever), she had her something borrowed (a pair of dangly earrings she had borrowed from Belle) and she most certainly had her something blue (a garter Ruby had more or less pressed into her hand and insisted she wore on the big day. Emma had tried to protest, but deep down she had many a fantasy involving Regina removing that garter with either her teeth or her brilliant hands, so she had agreed to wear the damn garter).

So yes, it was safe to say that everything was prepared. Gowns, rings, vows, shoes, guests, and a minister.

Emma lifted her head so she could peek out of the window. They had forgotten to draw the curtains when going to bed last night, but that didn’t matter. Emma was very satisfied when noting that even the weather was behaving as it should. It had started to snow two days ago, and it hadn’t stopped since. And that was a good thing. Because snow was exactly what she and Regina had ordered for their big day.

Emma lowered her head and smiled again. They were getting married in the garden. They had talked about many locations. Some of them expensive, some of them not, but in the end, they had decided that the garden was the only suitable place really. They had spent so many wonderful hours in the garden, admiring the roses and Regina’s pride and joy, the big apple tree. Getting married in the garden in the snow was ridiculously romantic, she and Regina had agreed. Of course Zelena had tried to object and get them to choose a different location. One that wasn’t their backyard, but both Emma and Regina had been unyielding, and the discussion had ended with Regina glaring at her sister. Zelena had backed off then, and as the months passed, she had started to warm up to the idea of the couple getting married outside. An outside ceremony was actually quite romantic, and especially when taking place in the twilight like Emma and Regina had decided. Leroy and a couple of his brothers had offered to “spruce up” the backyard with some lanterns and lights in the trees, and when Zelena heard that, she had been completely on board with the idea. And an outdoor ceremony did give way for many good ideas concerning the wedding dresses, she had said. Typical Zelena, always looking at the bright side no matter what.

Emma chuckled quietly to herself. The choosing of wedding dresses had also lead to many, many, many discussions. Zelena, and surprisingly enough, Malena had insisted that Emma and Regina did not see each other’s wedding dresses, and both Emma and Regina had decided to just humor them on that one. It was easier. And not seeing each other’s wedding dresses before the big day was all sorts of romantic. Especially Regina had been a big fan of that idea. Emma had found it difficult to wait. She had begged, pleaded, whined, and even used her seductive skills to at least get a teeny tiny glimpse of the dress, but Regina had laughed, patted her cheek and sweetly told her that she would have to wait until the big moment. And Malena, who had assisted Regina on all the shopping trips hadn’t been much of a help either. The only thing she had told Emma was that Regina looked like an absolutely dream, and honestly, that wasn’t very helpful, because Regina always looked like a dream no matter what. Zelena had been equally silent as the grave when Emma had tried to ask her about Regina’s wedding dress. Very unhelpful indeed.

Emma’s own shopping trip to various bridal boutiques had been assisted by Ella who had come from Toronto and Ruby who claimed that she was ‘preparing for the future’. Meaning Dorothy. Those two were still as happy as ever, and Emma thought to herself that it probably wouldn’t be very long before Ruby popped the question to Dorothy. True love was definitely the case when it came to those two.

And true love was most definitely still the case when it came to Emma and Regina. With each passing day, Emma found herself falling more and more in love with Regina. However impossible that even sounded. She had been fearing that the engagement would somehow trigger bad memories for Regina, though, but that hadn’t happened. Regina had continued to flourish. She had relished in the wedding preparation, and her book by the nightstand had been traded for some sort of wedding magazine. But she never turned into a ‘bridezilla’. Emma was always capable of making her put down the magazine and trade the reading for slow kisses and soft touches. Regina was in no way obsessed with planning the wedding. That was more Zelena’s style, to be honest. She was extremely fixated on ensuring that Regina and Emma’s wedding turned out to be exactly as perfect as in the fairytales, and Emma and Regina had secretly laughed about it behind her back. Regina laughed a lot these days.

Each morning she woke up smiling and excited while telling Emma how many days there was until their wedding now. That had been a tradition ever since they had settled on a date. A very, very cute tradition. Emma had found it to be positively adorable. Regina clearly couldn’t wait to get married, and when Emma had asked which part of it, she was looking forward to the most, Regina’s answer had been equally heart-melting. “You”, she had said plainly and had kissed Emma’s cheek sweetly.

Regina made a sort of snuffling sound in her sleep, and Emma immediately wiggled closer to her fiancée. She had to take advantage of this, because tonight another wedding tradition would be put in motion. Perhaps the only wedding tradition Emma wasn’t particularly looking forward to. Spending the night before the wedding apart. That had been Zelena’s idea, and Regina who wanted to include as many as the old traditions as possible had hinted that she wanted to try that. Obviously, Emma hadn’t been able to say no to her, so they had made the joined decision of spending the night before the wedding apart. Henry, who at the age of thirteen had started to sport some teenage behavior once in a while, had rolled his eyes and asked why they wanted to include such a silly tradition. Regina had silenced him with an “absence makes the heart grow fonder”. There had been no way of protesting against that, and Emma thought to herself that she had to quit being such a baby. Of course she could handle spending one night away from Regina. All she had to do was to close her eyes and think of the many, many nights to come.

Emma breathed in the scent of apples in Regina’s hair. Thoughts about the wedding was swirling around in her brain. The bouquets, the ceremony, the following reception (which would be taking place in a completely transformed Eugenia’s Inn. The inn had been extended with a completely new and large room. According to Ruby, the extension of the Inn was a dream come true for her grandmother, and when Emma and Regina, along with the rest of Steveston had celebrated the new extension, Regina had liked the new building so much she had asked Emma how she would feel about having the reception there. Emma had immediately loved the suggestion because what better place was there than Eugenia’s Inn? She and Regina had so many memories from that place. Coffee dates with and without written notes. Regina had confessed to falling in love with Emma right there at that inn. It was perfect. Of course Zelena had nearly gotten a heart attack when learning that the reception would take place at Eugenia’s Inn, but Regina had just shrugged and told her that that was how things were going to be. And when discovering that not only Henry but also Mal backed them up, Zelena had abandoned ship. A wedding at ‘granny’s’ it was, she had scoffed while rolling her eyes and calling them crazy. But Emma knew that they weren’t crazy. The wedding would be perfect. Because it would take place in familiar surroundings with all their friends. She and Regina didn’t need a big hullaballoo. They just needed each other and their friends and family. That was more than enough.

Regina made another soft sound in her sleep, and Emma immediately took the opportunity to hold her a little bit closer. Last chance to do that before the wedding. Emma was damn well planning on making that count. She buried her nose in Regina’s dark tresses and inhaled her scent.

“Mmm,” Regina mumbled in that husky and slightly breathy morning voice she often sported. The only cure for that was coffee and on few occasions gentle rubbing of her throat as to warm up the vocal cords. Emma happily took on that chore when it was required.

“Hey, are you awake?” Emma asked softly.

“Mmmm,” Regina rumbled again, and without opening her eyes: “yes, I think...so.”

Emma chuckled. “Morning, beautiful.”

“Good morning, my darling, and merry Christmas,” Regina hummed in response. Now she opened her eyes, and they seemed to shine as she said: “tomorrow night...”

“We’ll be married,” Emma finished the sentence and snickered. “I know. Isn’t that awesome?”

“Very awe...some indeed.” Regina cleared her throat. “Are you looking forward to say ‘I do’?”

“You know it,” Emma grinned. “Are you looking forward to the honeymoon, Mills?”

“Oh, the honeymoon,” Regina said. A grin spread on her face. “Yes. That is something I am looking very much forward to.”

“Me, too!” the honeymoon was one of the things they had decided almost before setting a date for the wedding. They would be going to Paris like they had talked about. But they would take the long way round. Their flight to Paris would take off in Toronto three days after the wedding. But they wouldn’t be spending those three days in Steveston, oh no. Because two other tickets had been booked as well. Tickets to the train from Vancouver to Toronto. After the reception, Emma and Regina would be waved off while they drove to Vancouver central station to catch the train. Of course that was how they were going to start the honeymoon. It was the only way, really. Of course they had to go back to the place where it all had started. The train. Three days without Wi-Fi and no other connection to the outside world. It was going to be perfect. Emma couldn’t think of a better, more romantic way to start their honeymoon. Travelling by train could be oh, so romantic. She and Regina had already proved that once when they travelled to Toronto by train when Regina had to go back to get the operation that had restored her voice. And her life.

“What are you thinking about, my darling?” Regina asked gently and pulled Emma out of her thoughts by pulling her into her arms.

“I’m thinking that my nose and mouth are buried in your chest and I’m absolutely fine with it,” Emma said slightly muffled and let out something that could have been a giggle when she felt Regina’s hand travel down to her bottom and give it a light squeeze.

Regina chuckled richly. “Is that so?”

“Yep. That’s so, Ms. Morning Sexy.”

Now Regina laughed heartedly and gave Emma a little squeeze. “Are you nervous about tomorrow?”

“No, I’m excited!” Emma said warmly and lifted her head with some trouble so she could meet Regina’s gaze. “Are YOU nervous about tomorrow?”

“I am,” Regina replied. “But it’s the good kind of nervous. The butterfly kind.”

“Oh, the butterfly kind,” Emma chuckled and stretched her neck so she could peck Regina’s jaw. “So no cold feet?”

“God no. My feet are practically burning.”

“Sounds dangerous.”

Regina rolled her eyes a little bit at that and cleared her throat.

Emma shifted so she was laying a little more properly on top of Regina. She teasingly tapped her collarbone once. “Isn’t it crazy to think that tomorrow night we’re on the train to Toronto?”

“I’m looking forward to another train ride with you, my love,” Regina hummed and then laughed a little as she shook her head. “When I woke up, I thought that this was just a normal day and that I was going to work.”

“No more work for a while. Sorry, beautiful,” Emma said without feeling sorry at all.

“I’m going to miss everyone at the shelter, but I must admit that being on honeymoon with you overshadows everything else,” Regina chuckled.

“Glad to hear it, babe.”

A little over seven months ago, Regina had made a decision. A career change. She had quit her professor job in favor of working fulltime at the women’s shelter. Teaching just didn’t make the same sense to her as it had done once. Whenever she was teaching in a classroom, her mind was at the women’s shelter. She had to do something that made sense for her, and working at the women’s shelter more than did that. Working as a professor paid better, but it wasn’t about money. It was about doing something where she felt that she was making a change. And that was exactly what she was doing now.

Along with a little group of other women, Regina now helped lost and abused women to get back on their feet. She accompanied them to the hospital if and when they needed to be examined or patched up. She held their hand when they were afraid, and she helped onwards to new homes when they were ready to leave the shelter. She was often given updates from them once they had settled in in their new homes, and she and Emma were still talking about Jennie, the eighteen year old girl who had arrived battered and bruised at the shelter. She hadn’t had anywhere to go afterwards, so Emma and Regina had taken her in to live with them for a while. Jennie had lived with them for four months, and Regina had spend many a night comforting her when she cried and was afraid. Eventually, she had regained her physical and emotional strength, but all three of them had still cried when she had left their house. Today Jennie lived on Prince Edward’s Island. Far, far away from her abusive ex. She still called Emma and Regina once a week to chitchat, and she had indeed been invited to the wedding as well.

“This Christmas is gonna be quite the... different one,” Regina mused, pulling Emma out of her thoughts.

“Yeah, it is. For sure,” Emma chuckled. Tomorrow was December 26th. A Boxing Day like no other, it would be. Getting married on Boxing Day had been Henry’s idea, and obviously, Zelena had approved rather enthusiastically. Both Emma and Regina had been somewhat more skeptic. Would anyone even show up for their wedding if they chose to have it on the 26th of December? And what about Henry? If they really decided to get married on the 26th of December, it meant that they would leave for the honeymoon that same night. Meaning that they wouldn’t be home New Year’s, and honestly, both of them had balked a little at that idea. But to their surprise, everyone had found it to be a wonderful idea. And of course they would be there. So that’s what Emma and Regina chose to do. Go all in and have their wedding on the 26th of December. A date to remember. Emma had joked that this way she would never forget the date of their anniversary. Not that she would anyway. This Christmas had been very special. Even more special than Neal’s first Christmas last year. That had been something too, but it was entirely possible that this one would top it. By a million times. The house had been bubbling with a particular excitement all through the Christmas days, and Henry had been way more excited about the upcoming wedding than about the presents he was going to receive today. He wasn’t the least bit upset that they wouldn’t be there for New Years. Because he was going to spend New Year’s with Malena and Ursula and Zelena, Chad and Robyn. And he was so excited about it.

Regina wiggled a little and grunted slightly as she reached out and turned the alarm clock. Her hand brushed against her book which was laying spine up on the nightstand, and she cursed quietly when she almost knocked it onto the floor.

Emma chuckled a little as she eyed Regina’s ‘bedtime story’. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. “Are you gonna bring Evelyn with you on the honeymoon?”

“Perhaps.”

“I’m not sure that’s a good idea, babe,” Emma said jokingly. “You cried about it last night.”

“Well, it’s a heartbreaking...story,” Regina said simply. “But a good one too.”

“I bet it is. I wanna read it after you.”

“Of course. But it’ll make you cry,” Regina warned.

“Good thing I have you to comfort me and kiss it better then.”

Regina chuckled lightly. “That you do. Always. Anyway, don’t you think it’s about time we get out of bed? It won’t... be long before Neal wakes up and demands our attention.”

“Our little baby,” Emma gushed. “How the fuck are we gonna survive without him for almost three weeks? I am gonna miss him and Henry like crazy!”

“Yes, me too,” Regina agreed. “But I’d rather not... bring them with us on our honeymoon.” She waggled an eyebrow at Emma.

“Someone’s in a good mood. Wanna start the honeymoon right now, beautiful?”

“No,” Regina laughed. “I’m sure that’s against tradition or something.”

“Screw tradition?” Emma suggested.

“Eloquently put as always.”

“Thanks. I try my best.”

Regina clicked her tongue a little. “I’m sure you are capable of waiting until tomorrow night. Aren’t you?”

“No...” Emma said defiantly as she burrowed further into Regina’s chest. “But this is nice too.”

“Are you talking to me or to my breasts?”

“All three of you.”

Regina laughed loudly. “You truly are terrible, my darling. Did you know that?”

“Yeah, you tell me all the time,” Emma quipped. “And especially last night when you cuddled me in your sleep.”

“I did do that,” Regina hummed satisfied.

“You weren’t even asleep, were you?”

“No.” the brunette chuckled richly.

“You little sneaker,” Emma said softly. “And I thought you were blissfully asleep.”

“Nice to know that I can still surprise you,” Regina said lightly as she sat up in bed and stretched her arms above her head.

Emma pouted a little when the motion caused her to slide right off Regina, but before she could say anything, they head Neal’s usual babbling through the baby monitor. First babbling and then giggling. Always the same pattern. Cute in the morning but slightly disturbing at night.

“Looks like our son is awake,” Regina hummed and smiled when Neal went: ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma! Through the baby monitor.

“I’ll get him, and you’ll make the coffee?” Emma suggested as she a bit reluctantly.

Before Regina could answer, Henry came bursting into the bedroom, loudly proclaiming: “moms! It’s Christmas!”

“So it is,” Regina chuckled. “Merry Christmas, my little prince.”

“And-“ Henry grinned from ear to ear. “You guys are getting married tomorrow!”

Emma and Regina looked at each other. Both of them feigning confusion, and Regina even took it a step further when she said: “we are? That certainly is news to me.”

Emma giggled like a little kid.

“Did you hear that, my darling?” Regina continued and looked at Emma. “Apparently, we’re getting married tomorrow.”

“We are?” Emma said, chuckling. She wasn’t as good as faking as Regina was. “Wow! That’s wild, man!”

Henry rolled his eyes dramatically. “Sometimes you guys are idiots.”

“Now, now, Henry Swan-Mills,” Regina lightly scolded. “Why don’t you go and get your brother instead of insulting your mother and me?”

Emma heard him chuckle as he skipped down the hallway towards Neal’s room. Her grin widened when she heard Neal squeal in the delight when his brother came into the room. The two boys had an amazing relationship. Neal followed Henry wherever he went, and one of the little boy’s first word had indeed been “’Enry! ‘Enry!”. All three of them were ridiculously proud of that.

Emma didn’t realize that she had been stalling until Regina gently patted her cheek and said: “come on, my darling. Let’s head downstairs. I do believe we have a couple of children eager to get their presents. And I want to make pancakes.”

Emma’s stomach rumbled just by the mere thought of Regina’s Christmas-chocolate-chip-pancakes, but she still reminded: “you don’t have to make ‘em today.”

“What nonsense,” Regina scoffed. “Of course I do. It’s Christmas. And it certainly wouldn’t be without them.”

Emma chuckled. “I just meant that with everything’s that’s going down tomorrow-“

“I’m not gonna cook tomorrow,” Regina cheerfully interrupted and reached within the closet. She found her red velvet bathrobe and shrugged it on.

“Alright then, Mrs. Clause,” Emma joked and grinned. It was probably Regina’s bathrobe that made her think of Santa Clause- or rather his wife that was.

“No,” Regina said with faux sternness to her beautiful voice. “I’m not gonna be a Mrs.-anything until tomorrow afternoon.”

“Alright then, Mills-soon-to-be-Swan-Mills,” Emma laughed. She simply couldn’t stop laughing this morning.

Regina laughed too as she grasped Emma’s hand. “Come, my love. Let’s go and have some breakfast.”

Hand in hand they walked downstairs where they found Henry and Neal waiting for them. Henry had already placed Neal in his high chair, and the twelve year old was well in the process of setting the table. Emma whistled quietly. “You didn’t go straight for your stocking this Christmas, huh!”

Regina let out a soft chuckle as she walked over and kissed first her eldest and then her youngest son on the forehead.

“No,” Henry huffed and flashed her a grin. “This year there are more important things.”

“Like these,” Regina chirped in as she opened the fridge and found the tinfoil covered plate she carefully had placed in there yesterday.

Emma groaned when the tinfoil was removed. Regina’s Christmas eggnog cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting. If this wasn’t heaven on earth, Emma wasn’t sure what was.

“Oh my god,” she almost moaned, and Regina quirked an eyebrow at her. She probably recognized the sound from elsewhere.

“Henry, do you want pancakes or French toast?” she inquired.

“Pancakes,” he said immediately.

“My love?” Regina looked at Emma.

“Pancakes,” Emma echoed and grinned at her soon-to-be-wife. “But don’t you want me to-“

“Make the coffee, yes,” Regina interrupted with a chuckle. “And ensure that our youngest son gets some food in his little belly.”

“You got it,” Emma half-laughed, walking over to the fridge, she grabbed the special “Neal-bread” and the fruit he always had in little slices.

“Foo-foo-foo!” Neal squealed.

“You got it, buddy,” Emma confirmed, smiling widely. “It’s breakfast time!”

“Foo-hooh-foo-hooh!”

Regina snickered as she whipped out the frying pan and the ingredients for pancakes. Emma proceeded to feet Neal. First the bread, then the slices of fruit and then sips of milk in between. She knew and loved the drill. This was their morning routine, and she adored all of it. Including Regina’s raspy interpretation of “O Come All Ye Faithful”. In fact that was Emma’s favorite part of their morning routine.
Hearing Regina singing. The brunette was halfway through the song and well into the process of making Christmas-pancakes when her cellphone suddenly chimed on the table. She huffed, clearly insulted over having been interrupted in both chores and said: “Emma, darling, could you...?”

“Already on it, babe,” Emma assured and grabbed Regina’s phone. “Ha!” she said when she checked the message.

“What is it?” Regina asked. Now in the middle of flipping the pancake.

“It’s a text from your sister. She says, and I quote: “last day as an unmarried woman!”. Followed by lots of emojis. And Merry Christmas.”

“Good lord,” Regina scoffed. “I’ll answer her when we’ve had breakfast.”

When the pancakes were done, they all dug into the Christmas breakfast. Emma and Regina had coffee while Henry had his special Christmas-hot-chocolate-with-marshmallows-and-whipped-cream. The unhealthiest drink this world had to offer, Regina joked. That was the reason why Henry only was allowed to have it on Christmas morning. And he savored every drop of it.

Emma praised the pancakes. And the eggnog cinnamon rolls. Regina was the world’s best cook, and she didn’t hesitate to tell her that. Regina chuckled and shook her head as though disagreeing, but she actually looked fairly satisfied with her own doing. As she should be.

Once the food was eaten, the little family helped each other with cleaning up in the kitchen. Well, Neal was mostly just standing in the way, but Emma, Regina, and Henry all helped one another. Henry carried the dishes, Emma rinsed, and Regina dried and put it away. That way it didn’t take very long before the kitchen was clean and tidy again.

“Not a sign of breakfast,” Emma joked.

“Har, har, har, very funny,” Henry said and rolled his eyes dramatically. “Can we go into the living room now, please?”

“Yes, my little prince,” Regina said warmly. “We can go into the living room. See what Santa brought us.”

“Sanna! Sanna!” Neal squealed.

“That’s right, kid,” Emma grinned and ruffled her youngest son’s hair. “Santa came last night.”

“Uhh-“ Henry started, but Regina waved him off with a firm: “in this house everyone believes in Santa Clause, Mr. Swan-Mills!”

Both Emma and Henry laughed at that, and Henry couldn’t contain himself any longer. He skipped ahead into the living room, and Emma and Regina found it wise to follow him.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care. Henry and Neal’s stocking were bulging with presents, and Emma and Regina settled on the rug by the fireplace and watched as Henry emptied his stocking. Of course they had spoilt him rotten. After today, he was the proud owner of four new games for his x-box, a new and beautiful storybook, and a new scarf. Furthermore, they had given him a gift certificate for the local bookstore so he could buy whatever he wanted. He was delighted with his presents and hugged both of them when saying thank you.

Neal had been spoilt too, but he was still a bit too young to understand the concept of Christmas presents. He seemed more interested in the wrapping at first, but then he spotted the big teddy bear, and he squealed in excitement and hugged the stuffed animal close.

Emma and Regina were only giving each other modest gifts this year. With the wedding tomorrow, they didn’t really need other gifts than that. It was Henry who had insisted that they at least bought each other something, and because of that, Regina was now the happy owner of a pair of antique earrings Emma had found in Mr. Gold’s shop.

“For your something old,” Emma said, blushing after Regina had kissed her thank you.

“I figured I would be my own something old,” Regina joked, but was quick to assure that it was a joke after Emma had glared at her. Then she handed Emma her present.

Emma was like Henry. She never could wait when it came to presents. She quickly tore off the wrapping paper, and she straight up exclaimed in delight when seeing what Regina had gotten her. A leather jacket. A new and bright red leather jacket. It looked very expensive and shiny. Not old and faded and tattered like her old one. Emma gave her fiancée a big kiss and a heartfelt: “thank you so much, babe. You know exactly what’s good!”

Next. Henry gave them their presents. Emma and Regina laughed and thanked him when opening their gifts which contained matching aprons with pictures of Emma and Regina together and a text declaring: ‘future Mrs. Swan-Mills.’

“Thanks, kid,” Emma laughed. “That’s brilliant!”

“Aunt Zee helped me a bit,” Henry said modestly. “But the text was my idea!”

“It’s awesome,” Emma chuckled, and while Henry was busy showing Neal the aprons with the pictures of “ma-ma-ma-ma!”, Emma discreetly pushed another and soft present towards Regina with the discreet warning: “this is for tomorrow night. Might wanna wait with opening it until then.”

Regina blushed prettily and discreetly pushed the present away from prying eyes. She probably had an inkling about what it was.

“Do you guys wanna go outside in the snow now?” Henry asked excitedly. “We could go for a walk or something?”

“Actually, my little prince, there’s one more gift left,” Regina said cryptically.

“There is?” he said, voice bubbling with surprise and excitement. “Cool! What is it? Is it for me?”

Regina only laughed as she reached within the pocket of her dressing gown and pushed an envelope towards them. ‘For Emma & Henry’ it said in Regina’s elegant handwriting.

“Hang on, we were only supposed to give each other one gift this year!” Emma cried. Had Regina changed the plans? If so, Emma felt horrible for not having bestowed more gifts upon her fiancé.

“This one wasn’t very expensive,” Regina said cryptically. “Now open the envelope.”

Emma gave the envelope to Henry, and he eagerly tore the envelope open. Out fell what appeared to be a letter, and Emma and Henry both chuckled a bit as they read the letter Regina had written them:

“Dear Emma and Henry!

First, I’d like to say that I’m sorry I can’t be there to celebrate Christmas with you. I would have loved too, but I’ve been told that I’m not quite old enough yet, and I guess I have to live with that. But I am so looking forward to meeting you, and next year we’re going to have so much fun on Christmas morning!

My name is Lola, and right now I’m living at the animal shelter where David is taking really good care of me until I’m old enough to join your family. I’m a Labrador mix. I’m not really sure what other breed, but I’ve been told that I’m really gentle. And I won’t get so big either, so that’s a good thing, right?

I was found in a box by the roadside along with my other siblings. My mommy was never found, and my siblings has already been promised away to other families. It was just me left until Regina showed up and said that I was perfect. I’m just six weeks old right now, so not at all ready to come home, but when Emma and Regina come back from their honeymoon in Paris, it’ll be time for me to finally come home and meet you guys! Regina has already met me twice, and she really, really likes me. She says I’m a very good girl, and I think she’s right about that. If Henry wants, Regina has arranged with David that he can come and say hi to me while his moms are away on honeymoon, but perhaps he’d rather wait until Emma comes home so they can meet me together?

I’m not allowed to come into Emma and Regina’s bed. I’m not allowed to come into Neal’s room either. Regina says that’s not a good idea. I’m allowed to sleep on the floor in Emma and Regina’s bedroom if I want to. And if I get really sad and cries after my mommy at night, I’m allowed to sleep in Henry’s bed. By his feet. Henry has to take me out on walks every day after school. I hope he wants to do that, but Regina says he will because he loves dogs and has asked for one ever since he was three years old. Now he’s finally getting one!

It’s also his responsibility to fill my water bowl every time it’s empty, but Regina says that he’s such a smart boy, so that won’t be a problem.

I can’t wait to meet all of you really soon! David says I’ve been so much happier ever since Regina told me that I was being adopted by her and Emma and Henry and Neal.

I love all of you already, and I can’t wait to see you all soon!

Love, Lola!”

Henry yelled “are you serious?!”, and Emma stared at her fiancé. “You’re... you’re giving us a dog for Christmas?” she whispered and felt stupidly close to tears.

“On certain conditions, my love,” Regina chuckled. “But essentially, yes. I am. I hope raising her can be a family project.”

“Oh my gosh, thank you! Thank you so much!” Henry shuffled over and hugged Regina tightly. “Thank you so much, mom!”

“You’re welcome, my little prince,” Regina said warmly. She looked at Emma over her son’s shoulder.

“Are you really serious?” Emma half-sobbed. “We’re getting a dog?”

“Yes,” Regina chuckled. “There’s a couple of pictures in the bottom of the envelope. Might wanna see that and check if you like her.”

In a manner of seconds, Emma had thrusted a hand inside the envelope, and she and Henry aww’ed out loud when they saw the pictures of the tiny fluffball of a puppy with enormous ears.

“She’s adorable!” Henry said, grinning from ear to ear.

“And look at this!” Emma squealed. She had found something else in the bottom of the envelope. A tiny green collar with a heart shaped doggy tag with the name “LOLA” written in huge block letters followed by their cellphone number.

“That is so cute!” Henry yelped, his voice was reaching that state of high pitched only a puppy can make you do.

“It’s adorable!” Emma gushed and looked wide-eyed at her brilliant fiancé. “Babe, are you serious? Are we really getting a dog? A puppy?!”

“Yes, my love,” Regina confirmed with that smile she always wore when she found Emma to be particularly adorable. “We’re officially expanding the family.”

“Oh, wow,” Emma said a bit distracted. It was Regina’s talk of ‘expanding the family’ that did that to her. Made her distracted. Because Emma had something important to talk to her fiancé about.
Something very, very important. Something she had been mulling over for months, but figured would be best to discuss after the wedding. Her plan was to talk about it at some point during the honeymoon. When the wedding was over with.

“Now,” Regina said and interrupted Emma’s train of thoughts. “How many of you would like to accompany me on a little Christmas walk once we’ve gotten dressed?”

“Me,” Emma said at the same time as Henry asked: “can we go see Lola? Please?”

“Not today, my little prince,” Regina chuckled. “I know you. If you see her today, you’d only beg us to take her home immediately.”

“Not true...” Henry muttered. Despite it being very true.

“You can go and visit her after the wedding,” Regina promised. “As much as you want too, honey. I have an open appointment about it with David.”

“Aww, come on, not without me!” Emma protested. “That’s not fair!”

“Sorry, Ma,” Henry chuckled. “But you can’t stop me from seeing the puppy!”

“Aww, man...” Emma pouted, and Regina watched her with a glint in her dark eyes. Her voice was all tease and amusement when she asked: “would you like to postpone the honeymoon so you can take your new puppy home instead, my darling?”

“Fu- frick, no!” Emma said, only narrowly avoiding saying a word that definitely should not be uttered on Christmas morning. “I mean, no. Definitely not. Nu-uh. Absolutely no-“

“We get it, Ma,” Henry interrupted and grimaced in disgust. “You really want to go on honeymoon with mom. There’s no reason to keep talking about it.”

“He’s right,” Regina said, but Emma saw how she winked at her when Henry looked away. Emma chuckled to herself. That little minx. Tomorrow night she was definitely gonna do ‘stuff’ to Regina. Her bride. Her wife...

“Now then,” Regina said briskly, ruthlessly interrupting Emma’s train of thoughts descending into naughtiness. “How about that walk? It’s a beautiful day.”

“I could use some air,” Emma said half-heartedly. Seriously, she had just come up with twenty different ways to take off Regina’s clothes tomorrow night...

Regina tilted her head, and the smile on her lips told the tale about her knowledge of what Emma was thinking about right now. Of course she knew. She always did.

All three of them left the living room. Neal attempted to follow Henry up the stairs, but neither Emma nor Regina really trusted the two year old when it came to stairs, so Emma carried him upstairs instead. She was also the one to get him dressed, and when Regina was done dressing herself, she poked her head inside the nursery so she could observe. She liked doing that. She liked seeing Emma with Neal.

“Jesus,” Emma said a bit strained as she finally managed to put Neal’s socks on his wiggling feet. “How am I supposed to get him into the suit tomorrow?”

“You’re not,” Regina chuckled. “Ruby and Eugenia will do that. Your only job is to focus on getting yourself ready.”

“Right,” Emma smirked. “That’s the only little thing.”

Regina hummed and then looked dreamily out of the window. “Tomorrow night we’re married. Can you believe that?”

“As a matter fact, I can,” Emma joked and lifted Neal down on the floor. “Woops. There we go, little man. All done.”

“It seems like it was yesterday we met each other on the train,” Regina murmured, venturing further down memory lane.

Emma walked over to her and hugged her from behind. “I was a completely different person back then,” she murmured into Regina’s hair. “All lost and confused....”

“I was a completely different person,” Regina gently interrupted. “Scared and guarded. But you opened me. You saved me.”

“You saved ME,” Emma retorted and then smiled a little. “Is that a part of your wedding vows, beautiful?”

“Maybe...” Regina teased. “Maybe it is.”

“That’s cheating,” Emma teased. “You’re not supposed to tell me the vows until tomorrow night.”

“I’m a rebel,” Regina chuckled.

“Reb-el, reb-el,” Neal squealed and tugged at Emma’s pajama leg. Luckily, Emma was prepared for it and quickly scooped him up in her arms. “Nope,” she chuckled. “No tugging off mommy’s pants today. No, sir!”

Both Neal and Regina chuckled at that, and Regina extended her arms out. “Come, let me take him so you can get dressed.”

“You don’t think I’m appropriately dressed for a walk?” Emma joked.

“You always look ravishing, my darling,” Regina hummed. “But perhaps not entirely appropriate for a walk.”

“Fair enough,” Emma grinned.

“Now give me our son,” Regina jokingly demanded.

Neal wiggled in Emma’s arms. “Mamm-maaah, mamm-maaah!”

“Oh, you wanna go over to mama?” Emma quipped. She knew the answer. Neal always wanted Regina.

“Mammm-maaah!” Neal demanded, wiggled, and extended his own pudgy little arms out towards Regina. He always did the exact same thing, and it was always too fucking cute for words.

“Alright, here we go! One son, coming up!” Emma cheerfully announced and obviously had to make these ridiculous ‘vroom-vroom’ sounds to pretend that Neal was an airplane about to land. Neal loved that too, and this morning was no exception. He squealed in delight as he ‘landed’ safely in Regina’s arms.

“Hi, honey,” Regina hummed and squeezed him slightly. Then kissed the top of his blonde head. She always joked that he looked like Emma with his curly blonde hair and bluish-green eyes.

“Mama-mama-mama-mama!” Neal chanted and squeezed Regina right back with his pudgy little arms.

“Aawww,” Emma cooed. Maybe Regina and Neal weren’t ‘biologically’ related to one another, but Regina was every bit Neal’s mom. Undoubtedly. And so was Emma. She was mommy-mom-mommy, while
Regina was mama-mama-mama. None of them quite knew why Neal was calling them by different names, they hadn’t taught him to do so, but both of them found it to be positively adorable.

“Come now, little man,” Regina hummed. “Let’s give mommy the chance to get ready so we can go out in the snow!”

“Snow!” Neal squealed on his way out of the room, and then as the door closed: “bu-bye, mommy!”

“Bye, sweetheart,” Emma chuckled. “See you in a jiffy!” god, their son was simply too cute for words. He had been a wonderful baby and now an epic toddler full of words. Emma licked her lips absentmindedly. She found herself thinking about babies. Then she shook her head. One thing at the time. First the wedding. That was what was most important. Anything else could wait until afterwards.

But then... Then she’d talk to Regina. Emma licked her lips again. She was a bit nervous about that to be honest. But she’d get over that. Because obviously, she could talk to Regina about anything and everything, Emma already knew that. Communication. That was the most important thing in their relationship, and it had been from day one. Emma smiled. Tomorrow night, they wouldn’t just be girlfriends or fiancées or whatever. They would be married. MARRIED. Regina would be her wife. Seriously, that was how Emma would introduce her in the future. ‘And this is my wife, Regina.’ or ‘this is Regina, my wife.’. God. Emma was going to say that a lot. Along with ‘Mrs. Swan-Mills’. Regina Swan-Mills. Flipping heck, that sounded great. Better than Emma Swan-Mills, actually.

Emma blinked. She had totally been zoning out thinking about the wedding tomorrow. But maybe that wasn’t so bad, really. She wasn’t nervous anymore. She probably would be when she finally would talk about the thing, she had been mulling over for quite a while but had kept quiet about because the wedding was what mattered the most. That was the most important thing. The thing they had been looking forward to the entire year. Seriously, Christmas hadn’t even gotten that much attention. Emma shook her head as she continued to get dressed and ready for the day. Regina had given them a puppy for Christmas. She had literally gone all out. And while Emma obviously was super excited about the new puppy (she was definitely a dog-less dog-lover), she also hoped that it wouldn’t influence anything else. She hoped that the timing wouldn’t be terrible. God, she hoped it wouldn’t!

But she would just have to wait and see. And focus on getting married. She wasn’t nervous about THAT. Definitely not. She was excited. Beyond words. She couldn’t wait to share the moment with her family and friends. All of them. Ella had arrived in Steveston yesterday, and Emma had spent as much time with her as she possibly could. But mostly, she was excited about Regina. Seeing her in her wedding dress. Hearing her say ‘I do’. Slipping a ring on her finger and thereby finally making Regina her wife. In sickness and in health. For better or for worse. Until death did them part. Emma took a deep breath and smoothened a hand over her hair. To imagine there had been a time where she couldn’t see herself getting married. Now it seemed utterly ridiculous...

 

 

To Be Continued.....