Regina moved through her kitchen expertly as she busied herself. With what had been going on lately, she decided to take a break today. Things seemed quiet, for once. And she wanted to relax. Between finding the author and dealing with the Queens of Darkness, and Rumple, she had found herself getting more and more stressed out. She never seemed to catch a break though did she? She sighed, at least they were laying low, everyone was informed with what was going on, her place with the group of villains was secure, so she didn’t have that to worry about, and everyone was safe for now. So, for at least one day, she could relax and take it easy.
Of course, that being said, Regina Mills had never been one to “take it easy.” Her methods of relaxation differed a bit from what one might consider usual. The one thing Regina adored was cooking, it relaxed her more than anything. Back in the Enchanted Forest, people had made her meals for her, and she never really got to experience the kitchen first hand. However when she fell into the routine of mixing potions for her schemes, she realized what fun it was. Mixing ingredients and creating something beautiful, not that her evil potions were any kind of beauty. But she appreciated them as her own work. To her it was her form of art, and when she had found herself devoid of magic in Storybrooke, she decided to take on new kinds of recipes. Her first was for her famous lasagna, which had been a hit immediately. The next, her, now slightly infamous, apple turnovers. Which she might add were amazing, when devoid of any kind of poison. Slowly but surely she moved on from one recipe to another, until she was confident enough to experiment with recipes in her own way, give them a bit of flare or some extra flavour. Not that it always worked well. There was that time she wanted to sweeten her pancakes a bit more but used salt instead of sugar, causing the flavour to be horrid. That was only one of many stories, but that didn’t deter her ever. She learned from her mistakes, and made note never to follow them again. What she loved most of all about cooking was how she always seemed to get a smile from Henry whenever she tried something new. It started when she was an infant and she attempted, on one of his quieter days, to make him some home made baby food. It was mostly mushed up fruit. But he liked it enough that when she fed him a spoonful of it for the first time, he beamed a wide, toothless beam at her. She had burst into tears of joy and hugged him and nuzzled him for a half hour before she went back to feeding him. It continued even with solid food. She would try a new cake recipe, or pie, or tart, and he would love it and grin at her. “It’s amazing mom.” He’d usually say, and she’d just smile back at him, thank him or the compliment and kiss him on his head. She doubted he knew how much that little compliment actually meant to her. That night while he’d be asleep in his bed, she would write the recipe down in her special recipe notebook. To be kept there permanently should Henry ever ask for it again or should she ever decide to make it for him.
So today, on the very rare day of peace. She was cooking. She made Henry’s favourite fudge cake for dessert, and cookies to last them a while so that Henry would have a snack. Usually she wouldn’t allow him this much junk food. But she was feeling incredibly generous today in her good mood, and she wanted to make the boy happy. The smile on his face would make it all worth it. For dinner, she opted for a simple yet elegant roasted chicken and potatoes with her very own recipe for garlic dressing. Also a particular favourite of Henry’s.
It was only when she had stopped for a little bit for a sip of water that she realized how heavily it was raining. She was almost about to reach her phone and tell Henry not to be out too long in this storm when she heard the door unlock. She smiled, hoping the smell alone would tip the boy off to his surprise for the evening.
“Henry?” She called out. She could hear footsteps through the foyer, and then.
“Holy crap that smells amazing.” A voice which was decidedly not Her son’s rang out through the room. She lifted her eyebrows in surprise and walked out of the kitchen to confirm her suspicions.
“Hey mom.” Henry said with a smile as the brunette appeared to them both from the kitchen.
“Hello Henry, Emma.” She said, looking over from the fast growing boy to his biological mother. “I didn’t hear you come in with him.”
“It’s okay, I’m just dropping him off, just wanted to say hi.” Emma said to the brunette with a smile. Regina furrowed her eyebrows a little bit, but gave the blonde a small smile either way.
“Well see you guys later.” Emma said, stuffing her hands in her jacket pockets and beginning to turn around before Henry quickly turned and pulled her back.
“Emma, quit chickening out.” He said. The blonde sighed, seemingly unhappy with her failed attempt at escaping.
“Is everything alright?” Regina asked, slightly concerned, though more curious as to what the two were plotting this time.
“Mom, can Emma stay for dinner?” Henry asked blatantly and unabashedly. Regina lofted up an eyebrow at the sudden question. Emma rolled her eyes, leaning down to reach Henry’s shoulder.
“What did we say about laying it on her easy?” she said to him. Regina was surprised for a moment at that as well, Emma wasn’t always so…parental when it came to Henry. She would sooner let him eat his weight in candy then tell him that he’d had enough.
“Right.” Henry said with a nod and turned to face his brunette mother again. “Sorry. Mom, Emma’s car broke down.”
“Oh.” Regina said. “Well did you try calling the tow-”
“Truck? Yeah, I did, and apparently his truck broke down too.” Emma rolled her eyes. “And I tried calling David or Mary Margaret to come and pick me up, but they both took a camping trip for the weekend, and apparently have no reception, because my call isn’t going through.”
“I truly don’t mean to be rude, but I don’t understand how that ties in with dinner.” She said, looking to Henry as she finished her sentence.
“Well she was gonna walk home.” Henry said.
“Yeah I mean it’s only a few blocks.” Emma added.
“Right, but it’s raining like crazy out there. So I figured, she could stay for dinner until the rain let up.” Henry finished. Regina nodded with a small smile in understanding.
“Well in that case, of course you can stay. Lucky for you, I prepared a big meal.” Regina said proudly.
“Yeah I can smell that. It smells like a Betty Crocker sex dream in here.” Emma said without thinking and Regina’s eyes widened at her as Henry looked over at her with his usual scrunched up face that he got when someone said or did something gross.
“You’re so weird, how are we related?” He asked. Emma chuckled.
“Well your mom did a good enough job on you that all my weird didn’t affect you.” The blonde said, again without thinking. She barely saw the smile creeping across Regina’s face at the compliment.
“Well come in and make yourself comfortable.” The former Evil Queen said instead of addressing the praise.”Would you like a glass of cider?”
“Ooh, love your cider.” Emma said, remembering just how sweet the drink was. Regina took a deep breath as she walked over to the drinks station, suddenly filled to the brim with flattery. She had to admit she was enjoying this newfound friendship with Emma. Ever since they stopped being on opposing sides and actually started working together, she found herself more at ease and, dare she say it, happier. Despite what had happened between her and Robin in the months previous. She found herself at peace, with no one to fight with constantly in the town, although they faced new threats. But Regina felt a sense of family, something she had never truly experienced. Not really.
She broke out of her internal monologue as she turned, glass of cider in hand, and her eyes met forest green ones. Emma smiled at her as she reached and they met halfway for the glass, their fingers brushing lightly against each other.
“Thanks.” Emma said before taking a sip and licking her lips free of the remnants of the drink.
“You’re welcome.” Regina responded. “So, what happened to your car?”
“I don’t know, it just wouldn’t start. That thing’s needed a tune up for a while. It’s been running fine but, a horse with a limp can only go so far before he has to stop right?” She said with a shrug.
“Yes and generally then he ends up shot.” Regina said, only slightly joking.
“If my car were in the room I’d cover it’s ears.” Emma said, faking offense at the comment. Regina rolled her eyes as she walked back towards the kitchen, Emma following her.
“You care far too much for that hunk of junk.” Regina said. This time it was Emma’s turn to roll her eyes.
“That hunk of junk has too many memories in it for me to let go.” The blonde said. “I’m sure you understand the importance of momentos.”
“I do. I just don’t put them out where they can endanger my son.” Regina said.
“Come on, you know I would never put Henry in any danger.” Emma scoffed.
“No I suppose not.” Regina said. “Despite our rocky past, I trust you that much.”
Emma smile and tilted her head slightly at the brunette.
“Thanks Regina.” She said.
“For what?” Regina asked, slightly confused.
“Trusting me.” Emma said with a shrug as she sipped her cider again.
“Well you did prove yourself, especially in Neverland.” Regina said.
“We were a team on that.” Emma said.
“Yes, quite the team if I recall correctly.” Regina said, a small smirk appearing on her face as she recalled the memory of when Emma defied her own mother to stand by the brunette’s decision in how to handle retrieving their son.
As if being called, Henry appeared in the kitchen, happily sniffing the air like a dog on the hunt for food.
“I smell cookies.” He said blatantly, standing right in front of Regina. The brunette rolled her eyes.
“You’ll spoil your appetite.” She said sternly.
“Please.” He whined.
“Kid your mom’s cooking up something that, if it tastes as half as good as it smells, will knock the taste buds right out of your mouth.” Emma said. “You can survive without a cookie for a while.”
“I thought you were the cool mom.” Henry said, turning towards Emma. The blonde scoffed a laugh at him.
“And I am, but even my coolness can’t get over how amazing that smell is.” She said, messing up his hair affectionately.
“Just one! Come on, like, the smallest there is.” Henry said to Regina again.
“They’re made with the same sized cookie cutter.” Regina said in response.
“Didn’t at least one of them come out a little funky?” he asked.
“Doubt it.” Emma muttered. Regina was filled with that feeling of flattery again and she had to close her eyes and take a subtle deep breath for a moment to stop from breaking out into a wide grin at the blonde.
“Well, Henry. You can either have the cookie now or have the surprise that I have for you for after dinner.” Regina said with a smirk. Henry’s eyes went wide.
“You made fudge cake.” He stated, rather than asked.
“Wait hang on we get fudge cake?” Emma said, her eyes suddenly as wide as his. Regina rolled her eyes but chuckled.
“Okay yes you got me, I made fudge cake.” She said. “Worth the wait?”
“Totally. Thank mom.” He said, going over and hugging Regina. She smiled at him and kissed the top of his head before he pulled back. He walked back out of the room, high fiving Emma on the way out. She smiled over to Regina as he exited who smirked back curiously.
“What?” she asked.
“Can I be totally honest?” Emma asked back instead of answering. Regina raised her eyebrows a little.
“Please do.” She said. Emma looked at her for a moment before continuing.
“I know we’ve had our differences in the past, a lot of them, and a lot of them being about Henry.” She began, Regina wasn’t exactly sure where this was going but she didn’t interrupt. “But you really are a great mom Regina.”
“I’m not done. I said totally honest.” Emma cut her off, Regina stopped again to let the blonde continue.
“Giving up Henry when I was still a teenager was…the most difficult thing I have ever done in my life…And I fought a dragon.” She added the humor to ease off the tension she could suddenly feel within herself. “And I regretted it for years afterwards.”
“I thought I would never get over it. I thought I would go through life, always having that storm cloud hanging over my head, making me feel like crap every single day of my life.” She stopped to take a breath before continuing. “When I first got here, for a while, when I thought you to be the worst person on earth, no offense.”
“For a while during that time, I regretted it even more. To see him going through all that torment, all that pain and confusion. It didn’t make me hate you more. It made me hate myself more. To be the one who put him in that position. It felt like I had thrown him into a fire or a pit of wolves, and it killed me inside every day. And the Neverland happened, and I saw you go crazy with worry for him and do everything in your power, literally, to save him. And I started thinking, hey, maybe she’s not as bad as I thought.”
“And now?” Regina asked. The timidness in her voice shocked Emma a little, but the blonde didn’t let it show, instead going on with her thought.
“Now?” Emma smiled at her softly. Regina thought it was possibly the warmest smile anyone had ever given her, and she could feel said warmth right in her heart. “Now, I’m almost glad I gave him up. Sure, the memories we had, the fake ones that is, that you gave us, they were amazing. And I still cherish them. But, knowing that they aren’t real, I truly am glad I gave him up. Not that I don’t love him, he’s basically my world.”
“But you love him so much, and so deeply, and you do so much for him. You dedicated your entire life to him once he came into your life.” She stopped and bit her lip for a moment, seemingly losing her train of thought. “I guess, Regina, what I’m saying is that…If anyone was going to raise Henry, then I’m glad it was you. I couldn’t have given him much. You gave him everything he ever needed or wanted. You were able to give him so much more than I ever could. So yes, I’m thankful Regina, that you were the one to raise him.”
Regina took a deep breath, trying to push down the small lump of emotion that had formed in her throat. She cleared it, to make sure she was speaking clearly, and smiled softly at the blonde.
“Thank you, Emma, coming from you, and with our past, that means a lot to me.” She said gently. Emma’s smile widened a little as she sipped her drink. They were silent for a few minutes, but it was a comfortable silence, where nothing else needed to be said. Regina felt at peace for the first time in ages and she had to admit that Emma’s little speech was part of the cause.
Soon though it was time to call Henry for dinner. As Regina busied herself with preparing everything, Henry set the table, with Emma’s help. The blonde sat across her brunette son, leaving the space in between them, the head of the table, for Regina. Soon the former queen was placing two dishes in the center and a bowl of her garlic dressing. She sat at her spot and smiled as her two dinner companions smelled the air around them happily.
“Hot damn Regina.” Emma said as she scooped up some chicken and potatoes into her plate, taking a healthy portion of dressing over everything because it smelled amazing. She scooped up some vegetables too, but not too many. Regina noticed she pulled the same trick of taking only one scoop and, accidentally of course, dropped half of it back into the bowl. Now the former queen knew where the trick came from.
“Thank you dear.” Regina answered simply. Henry chuckled as he took the tongs from Emma to help himself.
“What’s with all the cooking mom?” he asked. “Not that I’m complaining.”
“Nothing special dear, I just felt the urge to cook up a big meal today.” Regina explained.
“Man my car picked the best time to break down.” Emma said as she took a piece of chicken into her mouth and moaned unabashedly at the flavour. “Okay, don’t ever tell her I said this, ever. But Mary Margaret has nothing on your cooking Regina.”
Regina chuckled and smiled proudly.
“Thank you, Emma, I’m flattered.” Regina admitted as she also took a bite of her food. They had just started eating, but she would bid this dinner another culinary success under her belt.
“Seriously though, you ever thought of giving up royalty and opening up a restaurant? I bet you could rule a lot more kingdoms if you hypnotized them with your amazing cooking.” Emma joked. “Could give Granny a run for her money.”
“Yes and then we’d have her to deal with besides everything else.” Regina joked along. Henry chuckled.
“Maybe she’d be the next evil queen huh?” he joked too.
The banter for the evening continued on mostly the same, with mild jokes and light conversation. Emma would send the occasional smile Regina’s way, and Regina would reciprocate quickly and then drop her eyes back to the table. But the brief moment their eyes met they had a telepathic understanding. This what both of them had craved for the longest time, and it should definitely happen again.
“I’m gonna cry.” Emma said blatantly. “Henry close your eyes I don’t think you should see me like this.”
“Quit being so dramatic dear.” Regina chastised lightly.
“Seriously this is the best thing that has ever been in my mouth.” Emma exclaimed.
“That’s what she said.” Henry muttered before taking another bite of cake. Both Emma and Regina’s eyes widened and shot over to him.
“Excuse me?” Regina said, her voice turning slightly stern.
“I’ll handle this.” Emma said with some authority in her voice as she reached over and took a chunk out of Henry’s slice of cake.
“Hey!” he exclaimed.
“Deserved it.” The blonde sang lightly as she placed the piece into her mouth and ate it. Regina rolled her eyes and shook her head.
“Really you two are…” she looked around for the words.
“Awesome?” Emma supplied.
“Adorable?” Henry said with his cute grin.
“Infuriating.” Regina finished. The blonde and her son burst into a fit of giggles as Regina sipped her wine, which they had switched to some time during the meal because she thought it would go well with the chicken.
“You love us, don’t even try to deny it.” Emma said, reaching over to playfully poke the mayor’s side. Her hand was quickly slapped away before she attempted again, to the same result.
“You know, you two are really cute together.” Henry said blatantly. They both stopped to look at him with similarly raised eyebrows.
“What do you mean kid?” Emma asked.
“I’m just saying, you know, you have that dynamic now. If you two were dating you’d be the cutest couple in the town.” The boy said with a smile.
“And possibly the most bizarre.” Regina shot back.
“Pretty sure Hook would have a heart attack.” Emma said jokingly.
“Yes because that is what’s putting his heart at risk.” Regina said sarcastically.
“Hey, I said heart, not liver.” Emma shot back. Regina scoffed a laugh as Henry chuckled.
They finished eating and helped Regina with the dishes. Henry peered out of the window once they were done.
“It’s still raining.” He said to Emma, who looked out the window over his shoulder.
“Yeah but it’s only a little drizzle, I think that’s how lucky I’m gonna get. I should get going.” She said with a smile to the two.
“Come, I’ll walk you out.” Regina said.
“Thanks. See you tomorrow?” She said, the latter question towards Henry.
“Yeah.” The boy said with a grin. She kissed the top of his head before walking out towards the front door with Regina.
“Hey thanks for having me over. I really enjoyed it.” Emma said to the brunette.
“Yes, so did I.” Regina said with a small smile. “Perhaps we should do this again some time.”
“I’d like that.” Emma said with a grin. “Well, goodnight Regina.”
“Goodnight dear. Have a safe walk.” Regina said, giving her a genuine smile as she opened the door for her. Emma reached over, giving Regina’s arm a gentle, friendly squeeze before walking out. Regina smiled at her retreating figure before closing the door. She sighed, it really was an enjoyable night.
As she started walking back towards the kitchen to finish clearing up, she heard the loudest thunder crack she’d ever heard and the sound of thousands of gallons of water dropping from the sky at once. Her eyes went wide and she went back to the door just as a loud knock was heard on it. She opened it to find Emma Swan totally soaked from head to foot, her eyes wide and her body shivering. She was reminded of an abandoned puppy in the storm.
“Come in.” She said, taking her by the arm gently and leading her back inside. Without thinking, she started removing Emma’s soaked leather jacket as the other woman shivered.
“I made it like, three feet off your porch.” Emma said, her voice as shaky as her body. “I’m soaked to the skin, this storm is crazy.”
“Let’s get you warm before you catch a cold.” Regina said as she hung the blonde’s jacket on the coat rack. Her voice was nurturing and warm and Emma was calmed by it alone.
Regina sat in her office, the sound of rain hitting the window being the only sound that filled the room, besides the occasional shuffle of papers. A knock pulled her out of her rampant thoughts as she lifted her eyes to it.
“Come in.” She called. The door swung open gently and a blonde head of hair popped up.
“Hey, there you are.” Emma said. She now donned a light grew sweater and the only sweat pants Regina owned, and never wore. “Thanks again for the loan.”
“It’s no problem.” She said back. “I thought you were playing some kind of video game with Henry?”
“He got tired, so he went to bed.” Emma said, walking further into the office and shutting the door behind her. “You really gonna look through that book all night?”
“I’ve nothing else to do dear.” Regina said.
“Well why don’t we watch a movie?” Emma suggested. Regina looked up at her for a brief moment before turning her eyes back to the book. “Come on it’ll be fun.”
“Not as fun as you think, I don’t own many.” Regina said. “And the ones I do are all kids’ movies that I had gotten Henry when he was growing up.”
“You mean you’ve never seen a movie before?” Emma asked incredulously.
“I had better things to do.” Regina answered, not taking her eyes off the book.
“Did you at least watch them with him?” Emma asked. Regina remained silent and Emma scoffed a laugh. She walked over to the desk and shut the book that rested on it in front of Regina.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Regina said as the blonde put the book away.
“Come on, you’ll live a lot happier when you discover Disney.” Emma said, nodding her head towards the door. Regina took in her stance. The blonde’s arms were folded over her chest and she had a look in her eyes that, albeit light and slightly playful, told Regina that the other woman would not let up in her attempts to get the brunette into the living room. So the former queen rolled her eyes and stood up, exiting the office with Emma in tow.
“You go make yourself comfortable in the living room, I’ll get us some popcorn and wine.” Emma said, heading into the kitchen. Regina rolled her eyes again, but did as she was told. Soon enough, Emma was walking back in with two glasses, a bottle of wine and a bowl of popcorn. She set everything down on the coffee table and went over to the DVD shelf, tapping her chin for a second as she scanned over the small collection of movies until her eyes fell on one and she smiled. Regina lifted an eyebrow towards her as she picked it up and went right to the DVD to place it in, not allowing Regina to see which one she had chosen. She sat down on the couch with a smile on her face as she poured wine out for the both of them, handing Regina her glass which the former queen accepted with a small smile in thanks.
“So which one did you choose?” Regina asked, still hesitant to have agreed to this.
“You’ll see.” Emma said with a smile as she hit play and the theme for The Lion King started playing. Regina rolled her eyes.
“Really? You picked the one with the talking animals?” she asked.
“You’ll thank me later.” Emma stated as she sipped her wine.
Later, Regina would bitterly deny crying in the scene where Mufasa dies and tapping her foot along to Hakuna Matata. But Emma knew better than to believe her. When the credits to the movie started rolling, she looked over to Emma, who’s head was tilted onto the couch with her eyes closed.
“Emma?” she spoke softly. The blonde didn’t answer and that’s when she realized Emma had fallen asleep. She looked over to the wine bottle. Empty. But Regina had only had one glass. She rolled her eyes and figured that Emma had drank herself to sleep. The rain had finally stopped, but she wouldn’t let Emma walk home this late at night with that much alcohol in her system. She stood up, walking over to the other side of the couch and taking Emma’s arm over her shoulder. The blonde only stirred slightly and Regina wondered just how strong her wine was.
“Emma, come on dear, let’s get you to bed.” She said, hopefully coaxing the blonde into cooperation. Emma’s legs moved, but only as an automatic response. The blonde mumbled and muttered incoherently as Regina walked her up the stairs carefully. They reached the guest room and Regina put her gently into bed before pulling the duvet over her.
“Goodnight Emma.” She said softly, standing up and walking out of the room. She barely heard the response as she clicked the door shut.