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Second Chair

Chapter Text

For as long as she could remember, the offices of Gold & Co. Law had been Regina’s second home. Some of her earliest memories were running through the corridors with her custom-made ‘working girl’ Barbie that dressed ‘just like mommy’. As soon as she started high school, she’d act as her mother’s shadow over spring and summer break, grooming her for Harvard Law where years later she came top of her class. As soon as she graduated, there was a job waiting for her at the firm and that was where she remained a decade later.

Regina didn’t think that was a bad thing, as all her fellow alumni moved from firm to firm. Gold & Co. was her birth right, her mother’s stake to be hers once she retired. It was something she had never argued with, why should she? A definite job at the biggest law firm in Boston with an eventual role as partner wasn’t anything to shake your head at. In fact, she was one of the few people in her class not to have at least one freak out during exams. Her pay was more than satisfactory, her success rate was one of the highest on the east coast, and she was now the proud owner of a top-floor luxury penthouse with its own private pool.

Yet for Regina Mills, it wasn’t enough.

That particular day, she was feeling particularly down. For whatever reason, waking up alone bothered her that morning. It had been…she couldn’t even remember the last time she shared a bed with someone. It had never really bothered her before but when she woke up to an empty bed, empty home, she felt a sudden and crippling sadness.

To make matters worse, the feeling refused to shake. She tried to distract herself, heading out for breakfast instead of making it at home and making it to the office earlier than usual to get on with her case work. But it was still there with every bite of her croissant, every sip of her coffee, and every word of her case notes. It was unescapable.

So for once she was actually relieved to be called up to her mother’s office. She hoped she’d done something wrong, something so small and insignificant that only her mother would find a reason to penalise her for. She hoped her anger would push away the sadness. It would be easier to deal with.

Yet, as she walked into her mother’s office and found both her and Mr Gold sat there waiting for her, she realised her wish would not be granted.

“Regina”, her mother said in her work voice, void of affection or motherly love. “Please take a seat.”

Regina nodded and did as she was told.

“We have a new case for you, dearie”, Gold informed her. “We are handing the Matterson case over to Miss French.”

“What? Why? I’ve been working on that case since day one! You can’t just take it away from me!”

“Regina, please”, her mother huffed. “Just be quiet and listen.”

Regna shot the older woman a glare before crossing her arms and looking to Gold with thin lips.

“As you are aware, Mr Blanchard is at our London office for the next three months. We received a call from him last night informing us that his daughter has found herself involved in a substantial law suit.”

Despite her usual pride in being professional, Regina had no shame in the smile that appeared on her lips.

“Snow White is getting sued?”

“For goodness sake, Regina. You don’t have to look so happy about it.”

Oh but she did. Finally good-two-shoes Mary-Margaret had messed up. 

“I’m sorry mother but this is too good.”

“I wouldn’t find this amusing, dearie”, Gold warned her. “You’re now the second chair on her case.”

“Oh you have to be joking.”

“Not at all”, Gold replied. “Miss Blanchard and her partner, David run a community centre across town. During one of the youth nights, a young boy was severely beaten by another. The parents are suing the centre for neglecting their child, claiming that they were both aware of the situation beforehand and failed to prevent the attack from happening.”

“Alright, have they offered a settlement? Does their insurance cover it?”

“It would have”, her mother replied. “If they hadn’t found out who Mary-Margaret’s father is. Now they are asking for $2 million.”

“And of course Leopold doesn’t want that to happen. I’m guessing one of you will be taking first chair?”

 “No, neither of us are going to be involved in this case”, Gold informed her. “Apparently Miss Blanchard as her own lawyer and it took a long while for her father to persuade her to even have our firm involved.”

Regina rolled her eyes. Why was she even surprised?

“Okay, who is this fancy lawyer Snow White thinks so much about?”

“She’s freelance”, her mother said, her detest clear in her voice. “She does a lot of small cases within the community. Apparently a good and trusted friend of theirs.”

Intriguing, Regina thought.

“What’s her name?”

Her mother skimmed the surface of her desk before picking up a post-it note, reading the name on it with squinting eyes.

“Emma Swan.”

Chapter Text

Getting out of the cab at the address, she had a sneaky smirk at the not-so-glamorous apartment building Daddy’s Little Princess now resided. Tipping the driver generously, she mentally prepared for the inevitable tongue biting that was to come.

Be professional, Regina could practically hear her mother’s voice in her head. Chin up, shoulders back, smile on.

She did exactly that and made her way up to her new client’s home.

Upon finally reaching the apartment, Regina did the most elegant knock she could muster. She instantly heard footsteps on the other side and the door flung over.

“Regina!” Mary-Margaret squealed as she practically jumped on the (slightly) older brunette, who almost lost her footing with the force of the impact. By the time her mind caught up with her, the younger woman was clinging to her like a koala.

“Mary-Margaret, I’d like to breathe if you wouldn’t mind.”

Mary-Margaret giggled and let her go, smiling at her brightly.

“You cut your hair! It’s so pretty!”

“As did you”, Regina noted.

When they were growing up, they both had long dark locks that the secretaries would often braid without even being prompted to. Regina cut hers off when she first started at the firm, wanting a more professional look without the fuss. Mary-Margaret had cut hers much shorter and of course it suited her finely.

“I guess it’s been a long time”, Mary-Margaret shrugged, still smiling away.

“Indeed”, Regina nodded. She hadn’t seen her in some years, before Merry-Miss decided financial stability was below her.

“Come through and meet David!”

Before Regina had chance to agree, Mary-Margaret had taken her hand and dragged her into the apartment.

Annoyingly, it was nicer than she expected. Despite it being an inner-city apartment, it had an undeniable rustic feel, everything vintage and/or pretty. This shouldn’t have been a surprise to Regina- when they were kids, her dollhouse always looked so beautiful compared to her own neatly-organised house organised for continence.

Sat on the couch was a handsome blonde man, who stood up to greet her with a stunning smile.

“This is my fiancé, David”, Mary-Margaret introduced him and Regina once again felt a twinge of annoyance. Only Snow White could refuse a fortune and get everything anyway.

David shook her hand, the one his fiancée wasn’t clinging to anyway.

“Pleasure to meet you, Regina. Mary-Margaret has told me a lot about you.”

“She has?”

“Oh yes, apparently you two had quite the time as kids. She was so excited that you were coming by.”

“I asked for you personally”, Mary-Margaret admitted. “I told my father I wouldn’t have anyone but you.”

Regina looked at the other woman in surprise.

“Really? Why would you do that?”

“I wanted to see you, catch up while we have chance to. Goodness knows we are never going to win this case.”

David moved over and put his arm around his wife.

“Don’t talk like that. We’ve got to have hope.”

Mary-Margaret nodded, nuzzling into him.

“Let’s sit down and discuss the case then, shall we?” Regina suggested, wanting to break up the scene before she vomited.

They settled on the couches and Regina retrieved the case file from her bag.

“So, first things first, I have to ask the question. Were either of you aware of any conflict between Nicholas Hansel and John Darling?”

“Oh no”, Mary-Margaret replied with adamance and without hesitation. “We had no idea of any of it until Michael came running through screaming. It was so awful.”

“Okay”, Regina nodded. “Were you aware that Nicholas was at all violent?”

“Nothing more than you’d expect”, David replied.

“What do you mean by that?”

The couple shared a look before he explained.

“Kids are kids, Regina. Especially boys, most of them think their superheroes. Then there is the fact that most of these kids have difficult situations at home. Fights do happen but…nothing quite like this.”

Mary-Margaret nodded in agreement.

“The genuinely violent kids are easier to pick out than you’d think once you know what to look for. When we see the signs, we intervene immediately. We want to keep everyone safe and make sure all the kids get whatever help they may require. David and I take that very seriously, as do our volunteers.”

“Very good”, Regina noted. “Well, I had a look through the case file on the cab ride here and it states there were several witnesses to the attack. Their recounts of what happened seem to match up well considering how young they are. My recommendation, if we are serious about getting you out of this suit is to deny any knowledge of any unpleasantness between the boys and try make it seem like a spontaneous act of violence.”

“But that wouldn’t help Nicholas’s case, would it?” Mary-Margaret questioned. “He’s still got his court date pending.”

“No other case matters but this one”, Regina said firmly but Mary-Margaret didn’t seem to like that.

“He could go to prison though. Oh David, what if we say something and it sends him to prison?”

“We shouldn’t worry about it”, David assured her and Regina nodded in agreement.

“Yes, we shouldn’t even think of it. You both obviously care about this boy but you have to understand that we have the lesser hand here. Now if you want me to genuinely help you and there being even a chance of the ruling going our way, we can’t worry about jeopardising a completely different case that has nothing to do with us.”

Mary-Margaret shook her head in disbelief.

“Regina, I’m sorry, I don’t feel comfortable with that.”

Trying desperately not to give into the temptation to roll her eyes, Regina looked to David for his opinion. He simply took his fiancée’s hand, making his allegiance clear.

“Alright then”, Regina said, getting to her feet and putting the file back in her bag. Before putting the bag on her shoulder, she took out her card holder and removed one of the small pieces of printed card. She placed it down on the coffee table. “If you decide to take this lawsuit seriously, my number is on the card.”

She stormed out of the apartment before they could say anything else. God, she knew Mary-Margaret wasn’t the brightest but this was beyond stupidity. In her raged state, she marched down the stairway, too impatient to wait for the elevator, and was about to exit the building when she ran straight into a blonde woman.

“Mind where you’re going”, Regina snapped at the woman who was dressed in the most atrocious red leather jacket she had ever seen.

“I could say the same to you”, the blonde shot back before looking Regina up and down, letting out a bitter laugh. “So you’re the fancy lawyer from the fancy firm?”

“How do you know that?” Regina demanded and the blonde woman just rolled her eyes, gesturing at her attire.

“You might as well have a neon sign hanging above your head.”

Regina looked down at her designer work attire before making eye contact with the blonde’s green eyes once more.

“Do I have to repeat the question again?”

The blonde rolled her eyes again before holding out her hand.

“I’m Emma Swan, M&M’s lawyer.”

This time it was Regina’s turn to look the blonde up and down with a laugh.

“You can’t be serious.”

“Oh, I am”, the elusive Emma Swan assured her. “I was actually coming here to talk to you, tell you how this partnership is going to work.”

At that, Regina raised her eyebrows.

“Oh really?” she questioned. “I’d love to see you try but I’m afraid I’ll not be taking on this case. Good luck with the case, you’re going to need it.”

With that, she stormed passed the blonde and exited the building in search of a cab.

Chapter Text

When Regina got back to the firm, her mother was already loitering by her office.

“Why are you back so soon?” she demanded but Regina just walked right passed her into her office, locking the door behind her. Slumping into her big leather office chair, she leaned back and closed her eyes.

She was a successful, sophisticated woman yet Mary-Margaret had dragged out her inner petty child. Snow White in her perfect apartment with her perfect fiance with her ridiculous morals that made everyone’s job ten times harder. Regina kind of hoped she did lose the suit to teach her a lesson, though she was sure daddy would come in to fix everything. The whole situation was almost comical, she wanted nothing to do with it.

As her frustration boiled down, she quickly came to realise how quiet her office was. Quiet office, quiet home. The two places where she spent most of her free time was void of human interaction. She’d never been a sociable person, mostly because she didn’t like most people. It had never bothered her much before but for whatever reason, the silence had suddenly become painful.

It was then her cell phone rang. Regina sighed and checked the ID. It was a number she didn’t recognise so cleared her throat and answered it professionally.

“Regina Mills.”

“Hey, Emma Swan here.”

Regina rolled her eyes.

“Hello, Miss Swan”, she sighed. “How can I help you?”

“Well considering we have this case to go over, I think we need to meet.”

“Like I said earlier, Miss Swan, I’ll not be coming onto this case. If you’d like I can give you recommendations for other potential second chairs.”

The blonde said nothing and Regina was about to hang up when she finally spoke up.

“Look, I’ve spoken to Mary-Margaret. She’s pretty adamant she wants you on the case and if my client wants something, they get it.”

Regina rolled her eyes again.

“Miss Swan, I cannot work for a client who will not help themselves. My success rate is high for a reason.”

“Why not let me familiarise you more with the case? Maybe you’ll reconsider.”

“I very much doubt that”, Regina replied. “Have a good day, Miss Swan and good luck with the case. Important people will be watching.”

With that Regina put down the phone and the sickening silence returned

 

It was mid-afternoon and Regina had enough of being caged in so decided to go to Starbucks on a coffee run. She was going to get a triple shot latte and come straight back. That was the plan anyway. But as soon as she exited the building, someone lightly took hold of her arm and pulled her aside. She let out a startled squeal and looked to her attack, only for her face to set in a glare.

“Do not manhandle me, Miss Swan!” she snapped, yanking her arm out of the blonde’s gasp. “What the hell are you doing here?”

“I want to show you something”, Emma Swan told her. “It’ll only take twenty minutes of your time.”

Regina sighed, folding her arms.

“You won’t change my mind.”

“Then there‘s no harm me showing you then”, the blonde countered.

Regina narrowed her eyes, looking the other woman up and down. Emma Swan was definitely an attractive woman, even with that terrible jacket. There was a toughness about her, but Regina was sure she was tougher. She actually wondered what she’d be like in the court room, hard and to the point or slow and meticulous.

Her curiosity must have gotten the better of her as she found herself nodding and following the blonde down the street. It was only when she saw the yellow monstrosity that she came back to the present.

“I’m not getting in that.”

“Oh come on, it’s not that bad.”

“It looks ancient.”

It was a Volkswagen Beetle that had seen better days, painted the most awful shade of yellow. It had definitely seen better days and from the looks of it, it didn’t have many left.
“Vintage”, Emma corrected her. “And I can tell you with the up most certainty that the bug provides an excellent driving experience.”

Regina looked at her sceptically but moved over to the passenger side anyway.

“Are you at least going to tell me where we are going?”

“Oh, that would ruin the surprise,” the blonde replied, starting up the car.

Though she did cling onto the seat belt for the majority of the ride, it wasn’t as bad as she expected. She wasn’t going to blame the car for them almost getting taken out by a bus, that Miss Swan’s attempt to run a red light. Thankfully, however, they reached their destination in one piece.

They were close to Mary-Margaret and David’s apartment block and the building that Emma parked in front of was just as hideous. It was covered in graffiti and there was wiring in the windows.

“What is this place?” Regina grimaced.

“This is the community centre David and Mary-Margaret run”, Emma answered. “It’s pretty much the heart of this community.”

“Doesn’t look like it.”

To that, Emma shrugged.

“Sure, it’s rough round the edges but it really is a great place. It’s basically a non-profit, they rent out the upper space to dance instructors and fitness classes and use it to fun the youth clubs and other recreational activities. They host AA meetings and grief classes which mean a lot to many people. And that’s all because of Mary-Margaret and David. They work so damn hard for this place and they are who made this such a wonderful place.”

“You seem to know from experience?”

Emma nodded, looking to the building fondly.

“This place means a lot to me, and my son.”

“You have a child?” Regina said in surprise and the blonde nodded with a smile.

“Henry, he’s five.”

Regina nodded. For some reason that made her heart warm.

“So you want me to help you save this place? Why?”

Emma shrugged, putting her hands in the pockets of her jacket.

“You may seem stuck up, difficult, and a total bitch but your tough. I’m tough too and I need someone like you to have my back in that court room. I’m not naive, I know this lawsuit is gonna be awful, but I think this place is worth fighting for. I just hope I’ve persuaded you to think the same.”

Regina took in the building once more before looking back at Emma.

“I drive myself from now on.”

A bright smile spread across Emma’s face.

“You got yourself a deal.”

Chapter Text

When Regina Mills was told ten o’clock, she heard half past nine. When she said meet at ten, she was ready for half past nine and at least expected the other person to arrive on time.

It was almost eleven o’clock and Emma Swan had not yet arrived.

Annoyed didn’t even cover it. She was livid.

“Stop pacing”, Ruby told her as she watched the enraged woman from the doorway. “So she’s a little late. There may be a perfectly good reason.”

“You don’t get it”, Regina huffed. “She harasses me and drags me across town to make me believe this whole thing was important to her. Then I set up this meeting to show I’m going to make an effort and she doesn’t even turn up. Clearly she doesn’t care as much about this case as she is letting on.”

Ruby sighed and shook her head.

“Just check those emails before my mom fires me.”

“What?” Regina frowned before waving her off. “Yes, yes, I will. When Miss Swan leaves, if she ever arrives that is. I knew this was going to happen. How could I let her fool me like that? Blindsiding me with all that ‘heart of the community’ dribble and telling me about her son. I expect this from the other party but to be manipulated by someone in my own…Ruby?”

The other woman was nowhere to be seen. Letting out a frustrated groan which came out as more of a growl, Regina went to sit back in her chair. She checked her phone in case somehow she had missed any attempt of communication from Miss Swan but the blonde hadn’t even tried to make contact.

Since she had nothing better to do, she opened her emails. Her mother had sent her six emails one after the other, all under the same subject title. Typical, the woman was one of the biggest lawyers in Boston and she couldn’t even email appropriately.

Just as she was about to open up the first email, her office door opened and Emma Swan entered.

“Miss Swan”, Regina greeted her coldly. “I was about to contact missing persons.”

“I’m sorry, something came up”, the blonde pretty much waved it off, slumping down on the small couch meant for clients. “Nice office.”

“You’d have known that earlier if you had turned up on time. Alas, time has been wasted.”

“And who’s the one wasting time now?” Emma challenged. “Look, I said I’m sorry and I am. Can we just get on with the case, please?”

Regina narrowed her eyes and picked the case file up from her desk.

“I’m guessing you spoke to Mary-Margaret about what I said to her yesterday?”

“Indeed I did”, Emma nodded.

“And you disagree as well?”

“Of course I do. Mostly because it wouldn’t work…”

“Wouldn’t work?” Regina questioned. “Are you suggesting I am not capable of winning this case?”

Emma sighed, spreading herself out more on the couch so she could put her feet up.

“I’m not saying you are incompetent. I’m saying that if we went that way in court, it wouldn’t go in our favour.”

“And why would that be, Miss Swan?” Regina challenged her. “And get your feet off my couch.”

Emma huffed and swung her legs back so her feet were on the floor. She sat up looked the other woman directly in the eye. Regina wasn’t intimidated by it, in fact she made it her mission to stare her out.

“We want the jury to believe that Mary-Margaret and David knew nothing about any conflict between the two boys and didn’t think anyone was at risk. So we make a big deal about how much they care about the kids and if they had even the slightest inkling that any of them was having trouble or at risk, they’d have intervened and done the best for all parties involved. Then what we completely counter all that by throwing a kid under the bus all for the sake of money? The jury will notice that and we lose by default right there.”

Regina frowned. To some extent that did make sense, but then again…

“I’ve never experienced a case go like that.”

“Because you don’t defend people like David and Mary-Margaret”, Emma pointed out. “When you defend someone with a six figure bank account and a fancy Armani suit, the rules are different from when you defend someone with a bit of spare cash and a suit with holes in the pockets. It’s a whole other ball game.”

Regina raised an eyebrow in amusement.

“So I’m like a soccer player playing baseball?”

“More like a polo player playing hoops”, Emma smiled. “But don’t worry, I’m taking the lead.”

“I’m sure I am, Miss Swan. Now, I’d very much like to see our witness list. All I can find in here is the witness put forth by the prosecution.”

That wiped the smile right off the blonde’s face.

“Erm, yeah, about that…”

Regina closed her eyes trying to keep her cool.

“You’d better be finishing that sentence with either you left it at home or in that yellow death-trap of yours.”

Emma let out a nervous laugh.

“Afraid not. I just hadn’t got round to approaching anyone yet.”

Regina was about to blow her top when the door opened and Ruby stuck her head through.

“Emails now before your mom kills me”, she said before closing the door.

Shooting Emma the deadliest of glares, Regina turned to her computer screen and skimmed through the emails. They turned out to be six emails with of explanation about a survey that was attached to the sixth email. Regina sighed, her mom was really losing it.

Opening the survey, she found them to be an array of multiple choice questions. She glanced over at Emma, who was sat very still with a guilty look on her face. Tight lipped, Regina turned her attention back to the computer screen and went through the questions one by one. All the while Emma was silent. All until she finished the survey and pressed enter, which seemed to make the blonde pipe up.

“No one told me a requirement to work here was to be super good looking. I’m kind of insulted they haven’t given me a call.”

“That is highly inappropriate”, Regina snapped, causing the younger woman to hold up her hands defensively.

“Sorry, I was just trying to…I’m sorry.”

“You seem to say sorry a lot. Clearly you’re not as tough as you say. Though I shouldn’t be surprised. Most of what you told me yesterday has been proven to have been largely exaggerated.”

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” Emma demanded.

“Well from what you’ve shown me so far today, you clearly don’t care about this community centre as much as you lead me to believe.”

With that Emma jumped to her feet and approached the desk.

“How dare you! You don’t know shit about me and what I care about! Just because I build my cases differently than you doesn’t mean I don’t care! Sure, it’s nice for you. Little Miss Big Shot in her fancy office working for Mommy and getting the big pay check. My office is my head, I have just enough money to put food on the table, and I don’t even have parents to get me a job at a fancy law firm. But I win just as many cases as you do and I do that while being a single mom on top of that. So don’t you dare say I’m not tough and don’t you dare say I don’t care because I can assure you, I’m ten times tougher than you and care more than you have the ability to.”

Regina got to her feet. In her heels she was an inch or two taller than Emma and she was damn sure gonna make her know it.

“Lateness and lack of preparation do not make you a working class hero, Miss Swan. It makes you unprofessional. I’m very aware we have very different working and personal situations but there are such things that apply to everyone and one of those are basic manners. When you have an appointment to keep, make it early if not on time. If, as I imagine it often does when one has a child, an issue arises that means you cannot make said appointment, you inform the person you are meeting to tell them you’ll be late. Telephones were invented for such occurrences so for God sake use one! And also, if you do not have a document ready, do not hand a case file over without disclosing it is not in there as it could save your colleague spending their evening retracing their steps thinking they’ve misplaces something that doesn’t even exist! Do whatever you want with your own cases but this lone ranger act isn’t going to cut it in here. I’m no cowboy and I’m not going to become one for your benefit. You wanted me on this case so badly, you’ll damn well work with me because I may be second chair but I’m definitely not your side-kick.”

They stood there for what felt like forever, glowering at each other, waiting for the other to chock. Regina was sure it wasn’t going to be her and, to no surprise, it was Emma who broke eye contact first.

“Fine”, Emma said, doing her best to not make eye contact with the brunette. “I get it. I’m not used to working with others and I’m sorry from what I’ve seen you’re not exactly a team player either.”

“No, I’m not”, Regina agreed. “Seems as though this partnership is going to be harder than we thought.”

Emma shrugged, meeting Regina’s gaze once more.

“If I’m late again I’ll call.”
“Good”, Regina nodded. “I’ll try not to be such a snob.”

“That would be nice”, Emma smiled. “Maybe we could actually get through this case without killing each other.”

“Oh I very much doubt that”, Regina replied, making the blonde laugh.

“Yeah, that was probably too optimistic.”

Silence fell between the two of them again but this time it was much lighter. Once again, however, Emma felt the need to break it.

“Before I start being all ‘professional’ though I must say, you’d look really hot in cowboy boots.”

Unable to stop herself, Regina laughed.

Chapter Text

Regina drove herself to the address Emma had texted her at ridiculous o’clock last night without a hiccup. The address she’d been given was close to the community centre, a ten minute walk if that, and was on a street consisting on tightly packed houses that were definitely out of there hay day. To her surprise, Emma was already there waiting for her with the yellow monstrosity nowhere in sight.

Pulling in alongside her, Regina got out of her car to greet the blonde but it seemed as though her partner had no interest in her.

“Is that a Mercedes?”

“Good morning to you too, Miss Swan.”

Emma smiled sheepishly, staring at the car in awe.

“Good morning. Sorry, I just can’t believe this is your car.”

Regina looked at her car with very little interest. It was painted black with elements of silver. She didn’t care much about cars, just wanted something with simple and with a little class. Sure she liked driving it and kept it in pristine condition but that was as far as her affection went. It was only a car, after all.

“It’s nothing special”, Regina told her, to which Emma frowned.

“Nothing special? This is a classic! Not as classic as the bug but still pretty slick. What’s its name?”

“Name?”

“You know, like a nickname. Like I call my car 'The Bug'.”

At that Regina rolled her eyes, refusing to even answer something so foolish. However, Emma continued to pester.

“Does it have a nickname then or what?”

“Yes, ‘Regina’s car’. Now can we please drop this ridiculous topic, Miss Swan?”

Emma didn’t answer, she just continued to study the car.

“Miss Swan”, Regina hissed, causing the blonde to finally look at her.

“Can I give it a nickname?”

“No you cannot”, Regina snapped. “Now can you please tell me what we are doing here?”

“Nope”, Emma shook her head. “Let me nickname your car and I’ll tell you.”

Regina was close to losing it.

“Fine”, she said through gritted teeth. “You’re such a child.”

“You say that like it isn’t a compliment.”

Regina rolled her eyes again but decided to move the conversation on.

“So now will you tell me why we’re here?”

Emma pointed to the house directly across the street from them. It was one of the more ill-kept houses, the wooden front steps noticeably splitting and the small front yard was overgrown with long grass and weeds. Regina tried to hide her reaction from Emma. It was a world away from the house she’d grown up in with its sea views and tennis court. Emma was right; she’d been playing a completely different game to everyone else.

“This is where Nicholas Hansel lives”, Emma told her, leading her across the street and up to the house. “I told his dad we were coming to see him.”

“Whatever for?” Regina frowned as she carefully followed Emma up the rickety front steps of the Hansel household. The blonde chuckled and knocked on the door.
“Well you wanted to get us some witnesses.”

Before Regina could respond, the front door opened and a tired looking man appeared.

“Good morning, Mr Hansel”, Emma greeted him, holding out her hand. “I’m Emma Swan, we spoke on the phone.”

The man nodded and shook her hand before looking to Regina. He looked her up and down, causing her to look at herself also. It was then she realised she looked ridiculously overdressed and felt tried not to blush in embarrassment. Emma must have noticed this as she put a light hand on her lower back.

“This is Regina Mills, she’s my new partner in law.”

Mr Hansel didn’t hold out his hand for her to shake, just gave her an awkward nod, which Regina returned. He then stepped aside for them to enter.

“Come through to the living room.”

They both headed inside and it wasn’t until they turned to enter the living room that Regina realised Emma’s hand was still on her lower back. She did nothing about it though, allowing the blonde to lead her to the couch.

Mr Hansel closed the front door and moved to stand in the doorway.

“You guys want a drink?”

“Yes, thank you”, Emma replied with a smile. “Water would be nice, right Regina?”

“Yes, thank you”, the brunette awkwardly replied. Mr Hansel just nodded and walked towards the kitchen.

Emma looked to Regina with a worried expression.

“You okay?”

“Yes, why?” Regina replied, trying to be not sound as awkward as she felt. Emma seemed to notice though and did not look impressed.

“I thought you were going to try not to be a snob?”

“I’m not being a snob”, she tried to defend herself but Emma didn’t believe her.

“Yes you are”, Emma hissed, dropping her voice so Mr Hansel couldn’t hear. “You think I didn’t notice your face when you saw this house? You looked disgusted. Then whatever that was outside was not just awkward, it was cringe-worthy. After all that crap you said yesterday about being professional and you do that.”

Regina sighed, putting her head in her hands.

“I know, I know. I’m sorry but I was…I feel ridiculous.”

“Why do you feel ridiculous?” Emma asked, her tone much lighter. Regina laughed bitterly and indicated to her outfit.

“Look at me. I look so overdressed it’s embarrassing! He must think I’m such a stuck up bitch.”

“Probably”, Emma shrugged. “But he probably found you more intimidating.”

“He found me intimidating?” Regina questioned, making Emma laugh. “It’s not funny!”

“Calm down, Regina”, Emma chuckled. “So you’re scared of poor people, no biggie.”

“Don’t say that”, Regina snapped. “You make me sound like a real ass-hole.”

Emma laughed again and Regina was failing to see what was so funny about the whole situation.

“Don’t worry, it’s a two way street. He’s just as scared of you as you are of him. Just stay quiet and let me handle everything.”

It was then Mr Hansel entered, shakily carrying two glasses of water while trying to balance a plate of cookies.

“I found these in the cupboard, hope they’re okay.”

“Great, thank you”, Emma smiled, getting up to take the glasses from him, swiftly handing one over to Regina before taking the plate also. Mr Hansel nodded before moving to sit in the armchair facing them.

“I don’t have much time to talk”, he told them. “I have to be back at work in an hour.”

“This won’t take long”, Emma assured him. She offered Regina a cookie and give her an encouraging look. The brunette took one and held it awkwardly in her hand along with her glass of water. She noticed Emma smirk in amusement before a sudden air of professionalism took over her.

“Mr Hansel, as you may be aware, I’m going to be defending Mary-Margaret Blanchard and David Nolan in their court case where they are being accused of neglect, saying they were aware of a situation and failed to do anything about it.”

“Yeah, it’s a load of bullshit. Heck, I didn’t even know my son was even capable of doing anything like that and he’s my own flesh and blood.”

“Yes, we think it is to”, Emma nodded. “That’s why we would you to testify saying exactly what you’ve just told us. It won’t take up much of your time and I can personally speak to your employer about taking time off.”

“Oh, no”, he shook his head. “I don’t think so. I’ve got enough on my plate with Nick’s stuff and work. No, it would be too much.”

Emma was about to reply but, in a sudden return of her usual confidence, Regina beat her to it.

“Are your children at school now, Mr Hansel?”

“Yes”, he nodded, clearly feeling awkward talking to her. “Ava is in her usual classes but Nick is kept to himself. He’s not allowed anywhere near that Darling kid.”

“And you work full time? Must be difficult being a single parent with that kind of schedule without all this extra pressure.”

“Yeah it is”, he replied, seeming more comfortable with her now. “But no one said being a parent was easy.”

“No, in fact that is what has really put me off having kids. I bet it is worth it at the end of the day though.”

Mr Hansel smiled and nodded.

“Yeah, it really is.”

Regina smiled at him softly before looking to Emma, who was staring at her, awestruck.

“What if I told you I can help you make this stressful situation a little more manageable?”

Mr Hansel said nothing but from the look on his face she could tell she’d peaked his interest. Reaching into her pocket, she pulled out one of her business cards and a pen. She quickly jotted down a number on the back and held it out to him.

“Call this number and tell them Regina Mills referred you. My firm prides itself on catering to their clients’ needs and if you bring your son’s case over to us, we’ll guarantee him the best defence money can buy probono.”

Mr Hansel looked at the card hesitantly before reaching out and taking it, a bright smile appearing on his face.

“Thank you, thank you so much. And of course I’ll testify, with one condition. Nick or Ava are not to be involved. They have too much going on to get involved in another court case.”

Regina nodded, giving water and cookie to Emma. Who had drank and eaten her own while watching the conversation unfold in front of her. Getting to her feet, Regina held out her hand to Mr Hansel, who jumped up and shook it without hesitation.

“Thank you for your time, Mr Hansel. We’ll let you get back to work and we’ll contact you if we need you for anything.”

Mr Hansel nodded, now in high spirits. Regina smiled and looked back to Emma, who was lost for words.

 

“Joan Crawford.”

“Excuse me?” Regina frowned as they walked back across the street.

“A nickname for your car”, Emma replied. “Joan Crawford.”

“That’s just ridiculous. It makes no sense.”

“Isn’t that the point of nicknames?” Emma challenged. “They’re meant to be inventive.”

“Yes, inventive not random”, Regina responded. “At least the nickname for your car has some kind of relevance. How do you look at a car and think ‘Joan Crawford’.”

“I watched Mildred Pierce last night so that’s probably why”, Emma shrugged. “You were great in there by the way. And it was nice of you to offer to take on Nicholas’s case.”

“Well, between you and me, my mother was planning on approaching him anyway”, Regina told her. “But I would have likely done it anyway. That firm owes me a lot of favours.”

“See, I knew bringing you on board was a good idea”, Emma smiled, right before her phone buzzed in her pocket. “Damn thought I put it on vibrate.”

Regina watched as the blonde pulled her phone out to check the notification, only for her face to drop.

“Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit!”

“What’s wrong?” Regina asked while the younger woman began to have a meltdown before her very eyes.

“Henry has a fucking dentists appointment in an hour and by the time I go home for my car, get Henry out of preschool, then get to the dentist, we are gonna miss it by a long shot. Shit, how could I forget that? Damn it!”

“Calm down”, Regina told her. “I’ll take you in my car.”

“Are you sure?” Emma asked and Regina nodded.

“Wouldn’t offer if I wasn’t.”

“But will you be okay with Henry?”

At that, Regina rolled her eyes.

“What do you think I’m going to do, Miss Swan? Eat him?”

“I hope not”, Emma replied with a nervous laugh. “It’s just…are you fine with kids?”

“I’d like to think so”, Regina nodded but the blonde did not look convinced. Either way, though, she agreed.

“Thanks, I owe you one.”

“It’s my pleasure”, Regina replied, getting out her keys and unlocking her car. “Hop in.”

Chapter Text

The preschool Emma had directed her to looked like a nice place to begin your school experience. The walls of the building were covered in murals of butterflies and rainbows, giraffes and elephants, full of colour and excitement. The windows were covered in pieces of coloured paper, likely children’s drawings put up for display. Regina couldn’t remember her preschool being like that. That had been a much more formal affair and for the first time she realised she’d missed out.

Before she could continue her train of thought, the front doors of the small building flew open and a small boy with messy brown hair came running out. Emma was not close behind as they both ran to her car, both laughing away without a care in the world.

Emma picked up her speed and beat him the door, opening one of the back doors so he could climb in.

“Hi, Mommy’s friend!” the little boy greeted Regina, who was taken aback with how confident he was. She remembered being terrified of adults when she was a child, even her own mother. Still, she turned in her seat and smiled at him.

“Hello, young man.”

The boys smile grew before looking to Emma, who had just got back in the passenger seat.

“Mommy, your friend called me a young man. Does that mean I don’t need school anymore?”

“Nice try, kid”, Emma replied. “Get your seat belt on. We need to behave in Regina’s fancy car.”

“I will, Mommy”, he replied and Regina watched in her rear-view mirror as the boy did exactly as he was told. Looking up, he met her gaze and smiled again.

“I’m Henry, what’s your name?”

“I’m Regina”, she replied. “I work with…your mommy.”

She heard Emma laugh but chose to ignore it. Checking the road was clear, she pulled out and began driving down the street.

“You’d better remember the directions to this place, Miss Swan.”

“Don’t worry, I know this place like the back of my hand”, Emma assured her. Though Regina kept her eyes fixed on the road, taking extreme care knowing she was carrying precious cargo.

“What’s your car’s name, Regina?” Henry asked.

“Joan Crawford”, Emma quickly answered.

“No it isn’t”, Regina responded just as quick. “It’s a Mercedes Benz, Henry.”

“Regina’s name is better than yours, Mommy”, Henry replied, making Regina smile in victory. Emma, however, was less pleased.

“Kid, hers isn’t a nickname. It’s the make of the car.”

“Make?” Henry questioned and Regina heard the blonde sigh in defeat.

“Never mind, Henry. But the car is called ‘Joan Crawford’, okay?”

“But Regina said….”

“Ah, ah”, Emma stopped it. “Who is buying you ice cream after this?”

“Mommy’s right”, Henry said quickly before giving Emma a high five.

“You are giving him ice cream after a dentist appointment?” Regina questioned. “Doesn’t that kind of defeat the object?”

“Maybe to your weakling teeth but Swan’s have warrior teeth”, Emma replied dramatically, earning a ‘Yeah!” from Henry in the back.

Regina said nothing and stayed quiet the rest of the way, listening to Henry explaining what he’d been doing at preschool before they picked him up. Apparently they’d been painting their favourite characters and Henry had painted the Hulk. He was apparently missing story time which he said was his favourite part of the day. Emma told him he’d be able to have story time later but he didn’t seem too enthusiastic about waiting.

Once Emma had successfully directed them to the dental practise, Regina pulled up out front and both Swans jumped out.

“Thanks, Regina”, Emma said before lightly nudging Henry.

“Thank you, Regina.”

“You are very welcome, Henry. Miss Swan, shall we meet again at my office later?”

“What? Aren’t you coming for ice cream?”

Regina thought she was joking and rolled her eyes but when the blonde didn’t make a ‘witty’ remark, she realised she was serious.

“Oh no, I couldn’t intrude”, Regina replied, shaking her head. “I don’t really like ice cream anyway.”

“Don’t like ice cream?” Emma questioned. “I think your pulling my leg there. I bet you’re imagining some fudge brownie scoops smothered in chocolate sauce with a whipped cream finish.”

“No, I’m thinking about if I stop here much longer, I’m going to get a ticket.”

Emma huffed and stomped her foot like a petulant child.

“Come on, Regina. I don’t wanna be riding around on the bus all day.”

“You should have thought of that before you left your car at home.”

Emma scowled at her before patting Henry on the shoulder.

“Kid, do your thing.”

Regina frowned in confusion as she watched Henry nod and walk towards the car window. He pressed his nose up against it and pouted, staring at her with big sad eyes. It was cute, way too cute. She’d never seen anything more adorable yet the sad look on his face made her feel like a terrible person, even though she knew all she’d done was refuse ice cream. Despite trying to hold her own, within a half-minute, she slumped her shoulders in defeat.

“Fine, I’ll park up down the street. Come find me when you’re done.”

Both Henry and Emma smiled the same victorious smile before rushing off into the practice.

Regina rolled her eyes and went in search for a legal parking space.

 

“Vanilla?” Emma looked down at Regina’s ice cream tub in disgust. “That’s so…vanilla.”

“Yes, Miss Swan. Vanilla is vanilla.”

Henry laughed at that and Regina smiled at him warmly. He was covered in chocolate sauce but still looked adorable. Seeing Emma Swan covered in chocolate sauce, however, wasn’t as appealing as she thought it would be.

“Regina, are you going to pick me up from school?”

“Oh”, was all Regina could offer as a reply as she was taken completely off-guard. To make matters worse, Emma was too engrossed in her ice cream to notice what her son had asked. Not really knowing what to say, she went for the cop-out answer.

“You’ll have to ask your mom.”

Regina had hoped the boy would drop it but, of course, Henry looked to his mother and poked her in the shoulder. Emma snapped out of her trance and looked to her son.

“What’s up, kid?”

“I asked Regina if she was picking me up from school and she said to ask you.”

Even with her focus now entirely on her ice cream, Regina knew Emma was incredibly amused by this.

“Yes, Kid. She is.”

“Good”, Henry said cheerily. “I’m drawing her a picture!”

This caused Regina to look up once more.

“You are?”

“You are?” Emma frowned. “What of?”

Henry shrugged and continued to shovel down his ice cream. Emma laughed fondly before looking to Regina.

“Looks like you’re our ride home.”

Regina pretended to look displeased, but for some reason she wasn’t that annoyed about the situation.

Chapter Text

Regina looked at the pictures laid out on the table in disgust. The tables in the conference rooms at Gold & Co. were by no means small but somehow there was so much evidence of Mary-Margaret’s good will that there was very little room left for David’s own charitable work. She didn’t know whether it was the ice cream from earlier or the sight of the woman’s face that caused the sickening feeling in her stomach but she imagine neither helped matters.

“I think we have plenty to work with here”, Emma smiled, not at all affected by the mountain of frozen calories she’d devoured not long ago. “Now we just need to decide what we should name-drop during opening and closing statements.”

“I’d say let’s pick three, use them quickly in the opening statement, then remind the jury of them later”, Regina suggested, to which the blonde was quick to shake her head at.
“We can’t possibly cut this down to three. There is too much good stuff here to waste.”

“We won’t be wasting anything, we’ll simply give some examples of charitable work they have done to give the jury a good idea of their character. If we keep a long list, the jury will not only be bored out of their minds, they’ll see it as bragging and that won’t help us at all.”

“Oh please”, Emma scoffed. “Who the hell would think that?”

“Me for starters”, Regina admitted. “In fact I’d go as far as thinking they were complete fakers.”

Emma rolled her eyes, not taking what Regina said with the seriousness intended.

“You’re just saying that because you don’t like Mary-Margaret.”

“No, I’m not. Seriously, it would be a bad move. Anyway, we don’t have time for all this dribble. We’ve got to give a great opening statement so we stand on good ground going in.”

Emma still looked sceptical but didn’t argue.

“Why don’t you pick your top three then.”

Regina scanned the table before picking up three of the photographs.

“The campaign to keep the children’s home open, the volunteer-work at the children’s hospital, and starting up the free children’s book club.”

“Seriously?” Emma crinkled up her nose. “Those are boring. I say the charity sky-dive, the all-day Star Wars marathon to help fund the local middle school’s arts program, and the family day to support Planned Parenthood. It was awesome, there was soft ball.”

“Too cliche, too trivial, and too political”, Regina replied. “Mine show they care about the children’s stability at home, their health and well being, and their education.”

“Like I said, boring.”

Regina rolled her eyes.

“Boring is good sometimes. Mary-Margaret isn’t a rock star, she doesn’t need the theatrics.”

“What? Mentioning sky-diving is theatrical? It’s not like they’re gonna use it as their ‘big entrance’. It’s just a name drop and it’ll catch people’s attention. I’ll be the one making the statement so just trust me, I’ll pull this off.”

Regina stood down, sick of arguing with someone who was unable to see the point.

“Fine, if you think it’s best.”

They sat in silence as they went over everything once more, making sure they hadn’t overlooked any hidden gems. Regina stood by her choices but pretended to ponder them anyway, not wanting to push Emma too far out that she’d not be able to see Henry later.

Emma, however, decided to test her patience to the limit.

“So what’s the deal with you and Mary-Margaret?”

“My ‘deal’ right now is that she’s done too many annoying things for charity. Though, I guess if you’re good at something, make money off it.”

“See, that!” Emma did that finger-click to point thing Regina found incredibly irritating. “Seriously, why don’t you like her?”

“Why am I being badgered for not liking someone?” Regina huffed. “It’s not a crime, and I should know.”

Emma let out an annoyingly loud laugh.

“Wow that was almost a joke! But, come on! Mary-Margaret is the most likeable person I know, and I know a lot of people. So tell me why you’re being a hater.”

“You don’t know Mary-Margaret as well as I do, trust me on that.”

Regina tried to bite her tongue and keep her cool, something she was notoriously not good at when Mary-Margaret was concerned. Clearly oblivious to this, Emma kept pushing.

“Oh, come on. Give me something to work with here. At least tell me how you know each other?”

“I thought that was obvious,” Regina laughed. “I thought you knew her father is a partner for the firm.”

“Yeah, so your parents work together, so what?”

Though she hated to admit it, Regina knew the blonde was intelligent enough to at least pass a Bar exam. So it surprised her how she seemed to miss the point so exceptionally.

“Her father and my mother were always working and we had no one else to look after us, with my dad often away on business and her mother sadly deceased. So while our parents were working we were palmed off together. We pretty much grew up together. I finally got a break from her in college but as soon as I started working here, she kept showing up. When she stopped being dependant on her dad I thought I was finally free yet here I am.”

“That’s a pretty strange dynamic”, Emma commented, to which Regina pulled a face.

“No it isn’t. Sure it’s exaggerated because of how demanding their jobs were but it’s a concept that’s been around for…well, ever. Why is it so strange to you? Did your parents work from home or something?”

Within an instant, Regina saw the prominent air of confidence disappear. Even though she noted the blonde’s childishness, she now truly resembled a little girl, and not a happy one at that.

“N-no actually”, Emma replied, her voice catching in her throat in the beginning. “I don’t have parents so I guess it is strange to me.”

A large sting of guilt spread through the brunette’s chest.

“Oh, Emma, I’m so sorry…”

“No, its fine”, Emma assured her. “I’ve not really known any different and all things considering, I turned out alright in the end.”

“Yes,” Regina agreed before she realised what she was saying. Instantly, Emma’s confidence returned in the form of a smile.

“See, I knew you liked me!”

“Oh hush, Miss Swan,” Regina huffed. “Let’s end the conversation there. I think we’ve revealed too much about each other in the last three days.”

“I was just thinking we haven’t revealed enough yet,” Emma flirted back. Regina couldn’t think of a remark to follow so instead decided to end the exchange there.

“Let’s focus on the work as it is our reason for being here.”

“As you wish,” Emma said but, as Regina went over her notes, she could feel the blonde’s eyes were still on her.

“Stop looking at me, Miss Swan.”

“Sorry, can’t help it,” Emma replied, causing Regina to once again roll her eyes.

 

Standing with Emma outside the preschool, Regina spotted Henry instantly out of the sea of small children stampeding out of the building. He must have seen her too, as a bright smile appeared on his face as he ran over, clutching a coloured piece of paper in his small hand.

“Regina!”

Regina smiled and waved to him while Emma mock-scowled at him.

“Charming, Kid!”

Henry seemed to ignore her and ran straight to Regina, holding the paper out for her.

“Regina, I drew you a picture!”

“You did?” Regina gasped, taking the picture from him. “Thank you so much.”

In all honesty, she could make head nor tales of what Henry had actually drawn but it was certainly colourful. Emma looked over to see what it was and frowned.

“Kid, what’s this meant to be?”

“It’s you and Regina and me eating ice cream,” Henry told her as though she were stupid, which made Regina laugh. Now knowing what the drawing was meant to depict, Regina began to see what it was. The red blob with yellow all around it was Emma, the grey blob with black around it was hers, and the smaller blob with brown around it was Henry.

“We need to get you back in to art classes, kid”, Emma commented, to which Regina tutted.

“He’s an abstract artist. Aren’t you, Henry.”

“Yeah!” he replied, sticking his tongue out at Emma who did the same in return. Regina rolled her eyes.

“Come on, Henry. Let’s take your mother home before she causes trouble.”

Henry nodded and moved closer to her, taking her hand. Regina panicked, looking to Emma for her to intervene but the blonde just laughed and took her son’s other hand.

 

Emma’s apartment building was across the street from Mary-Margaret’s and was almost identical. Driving up, she spotted the yellow monstrosity parked out front and, to her annoyance, Mary-Margaret was stood beside it. She waved at them with a sickening sweet smile, making her way over to them when Regina pulled up.

Emma jumped out and opened the door for Henry, who launched himself out of the car and into Mary-Margaret’s waiting arms.

“M&M!”

“Hello, my darling,” Mary-Margaret beamed as she lifted him up to hold him on her hip. “Did Regina pick you up from school?”

“Yeah!” Henry smiled. “And she came for ice cream!”

“Ice cream, wow!”

Regina watched as both Henry and Emma smiled with the other woman, trying not to show her disgust. (It was disgust she felt, right?)

Then Mary-Margaret looked to Regina and smiling sweetly. Regina replied with a smile laced with sarcasm. Emma sighed and moved over to open Regina’s door, leaning over to unbuckle her seat belt before pulling the brunette out of the car.

“Come be friendly.”

Regina wasn’t happy but did as she was told.

“Mary-Margaret,” she greeted the smiley woman formally. “Miss Swan and I are working hard on your case.”

“Yes, Emma has kept me updated,” Mary-Margaret nodded. “Maybe we should all meet up for dinner one night, maybe you could host Regina? I’d love to see this luxury penthouse of yours.”

“Woah, luxury penthouse?” Emma questioned. “How am I only just hearing about it?”

“Because I don’t flaunt it,” Regina replied, glaring at Mary-Margaret who just carried on smiling. “How do you even know about that?”

“Daddy told me about it, he helped Cora picked it out for you.”

“Your mom got you an apartment?!”

“She put down the deposit, yes,” Regina answered. “It’s an apartment, no need to make a big deal about it.”

“Daddy told me it has a pool.”

That caught Henry’s attention.

“Pool!”

Regina sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose. And people wonder why she disliked the woman so much.

“That does it, Regina,” Emma teased. “We’ll be coming round some time.”

“I don’t think so, Miss Swan.”

“Kid, do your thing.”

“No, no, none of that. Maybe, at some point, we can have a case-related meeting at my apartment.”

Mary-Margaret let out an excited squeal.

“Fantastic! Let us know when you’d like to have us.”

Regina shot her one last glare before looking down to smile at Henry.

“Goodbye for now, Henry. Miss Swan, I’ll be seeing you tomorrow.”

“Erm, no you won’t”, Emma replied with a guilty expression. “I forgot to tell you. I don’t work weekends unless it’s an emergency.”

If Henry hadn’t been there she would have screamed bloody murder but Regina forced herself to keep her cool.

“Fine, enjoy your weekend, Miss Swan,” she said with a tight smile before storming off to her car.

Once in her car, she reached into her pocket for her phone, only to feel the carefully-folded drawing Henry had given her. With a light smile, she started up the car and pulled out into traffic, heading towards the nearest Target.

 

Regina looked at the art-piece had had been hanging in her office since she’d been given it. She wasn’t sure what it was and to be honest she didn’t really pay that much attention to it. Her mother assured her it was one of the most expensive pieces they owned up personally she didn’t have much of an interest in it.

So, after so many years of hanging there in the background, Regina took the painting from the wall and lent in against the wall. Looking at the blank wall, she found it too weird so quickly picked up the new frame and hung it up.

Stepping back and smiled, admiring her new favourite piece of art.

She didn’t notice her mother had come into her office until she spoke up later.

“Unless that is a Picasso, it should not be on the wall.”

“Emma’s son drew me it,” Regina told her. “It’s staying.”

“Emma’s son?” her mother questioned. “You’ve only known her a few days.”

Regina nodded. Yes, it had only been a couple of days but it felt like so much longer. Whether that was good or bad was debatable.

“I have a feeling with Emma Swan, it’s either all or nothing.”

It was then she felt her mother fall into her, quickly grasping her shoulder to keep on her feet. Regina quickly grabbed hold of her.

“Mother, are you okay?” she asked in concern, helping the older woman regain some balance.

“Yes, yes, I’m fine,” her mother assured her with a light laugh. “I’m just tired, is all.”

Regina didn’t quite believe that but it wasn’t the first time her mother had overworked herself

“Go home and get some sleep,” Regina ordered, making the older brunette roll her eyes.

“Yes, yes, I’ll call my driver. You’d better get home too, young lady.”

Regina rolled her eyes before watching her mother walk out of her office.

“Goodnight, Mother.”

“Goodnight, Regina.”

Once her mother was out of sight, Regina’s attention turned her attention back to Henry’s drawing and she smiled once again.

Chapter Text

Though Emma Swan had said she didn’t work on the weekends, it hadn’t stopped her from irritating Regina with none work related texts.

Hi, how’s the pool?

Hey, how’s it going?

What do you think of the weather? Crap ain’t it!

What did you have for dinner? Me and Henry had burgers!

Me and Henry are watching Guardians of the Galaxy? I’m totally Star Lord.

Update: Henry wants to be Rocket Raccoon- I’m kind of worried.

Update: you’re Gamora.

What you doing today? Me and Henry are going to the comic book shop.

Spent way too much money! Why is the kid so cute?!??!?!?

Breakfast for dinner is the best! What you having?

Goodnight, Mills! See you tomorrow bright and early. Oh by the way, the prosecution contacted me and we’re having a meeting tomorrow.

Regina replied as followed:

I wouldn’t know, Miss Swan. I don’t use it often.

Nothing is ‘going’, Miss Swan. I am enjoying a day off.

It’s partially cloudy, not a hurricane.

I had some lasagne, Miss Swan. Hope you enjoyed your meal.

I have no idea what that means.

What? Why? What is a Rocket Raccoon?

That better be a good thing.

I’m going to catch up on some paperwork. Hope you and Henry have a lovely day.

The word ‘no’ exists for a reason, Miss Swan. But he is admittedly very cute.

I’ll take your word for it. I’m having the rest of my lasagne.

EMMA SWAN, WHY HAVE YOU BEEN TELLING ME ALL THIS ABOUT RACCOONS AND FAILED TO TELL ME THIS?! I’LL BE UP HALF THE NIGHT NOW! YOU HAD BETTER COME PREPARED!

Needless to say, Regina was not best pleased. Yet she decided not to dwell on it and drove to work that morning refreshed and ready for whatever the prosecution had to throw at them.

She was sat in her office when Emma finally arrived and of course the blonde was quick to notice the new feature.

“You framed Henry’s drawing? That is so adorable!”

“Call me adorable again and you’ll face severe consequences.”

Emma held up her hands in mock defence before sprawling herself out on the couch.

“I got you a present, by the way.”

“You did?” Regina asked in surprise and the blonde nodded with a mischievous smile.

“Yeah, you’ll see later.”

“Do I even want to know?”

“Maybe, maybe not,” the blonde shrugged. “So you ready for this meeting?”

“I believe so,” Regina nodded. “I don’t know much of this Camilla Duvell. Have you experienced her before?”

At the woman’s name, Emma grimaced.

“Cruella de Vil more like. Woman is a vulture, goes after small businesses and none profits and squeezes them out of every penny. I swear she gets a kick out of it.”

Regina didn’t like the sound of this woman one bit.

“What firm does she work for?”

Pan&Whale.”

Regina frowned. That sounded familiar.

“So have you ever gone up against this woman?”

“Yep,” Emma nodded. “Three times so far.”

“And how did that go?”

“Lost all three,” Emma admitted. “But I won’t lose a fourth.”

“No you won’t,” Regina said firmly. “I don’t lose.”

“Yeah, you’re my lucky charm,” Emma teased and the brunette rolled her eyes.

“What are we going to do if they make an offer?”

This made Emma sit up and made herself look surprisingly professional despite the ridiculous red leather jacket she continued to wear.

“I talked to Mary-Margaret about this and she said they have some money saved away, the remainder of her trust fund I believe. That, plus their insurance leaves them clear at $200, 000. Any offer lower than that and they gave us permission to accept if we think it’s the best option.”

“And will we?” Regina questioned.

“Do you think we should?”

“It’ll make everything a lot easier, even though it’s very unlikely they will drop that low.”

“Stranger things have happened,” Emma shrugged. “But I agree. Even though I have enjoyed our time together, if we can end this cleanly and quickly, it’ll be for the best.”

“So we are agreed,” Regina noted. “If not, the battle will begin.”

It was then that the desk phone rang and, knowing who it was, Regina answered on speaker.

“You’re on speakerphone, Ruby.”

“The people from Pan&Whale are here.”

“Okay, thanks. Show them to conference room 1,” Regina told her before hanging up and looking to Emma. “Are you ready, Miss Swan?”

Emma jumped off the couch and did a superhero pose.

“Hell yeah I am!”

 

Weighing up the woman that sat across the table from them, Regina saw that Emma’s nickname for her was apt. Despite her blonde hair and lack of fur coat, the woman did have a villainous air about her. She was a handsome woman, very thin with sharp facial features.

Regina instantly didn’t like her.

Emma sat next to her, glaring Ms Duvell. Regina hadn’t seen Emma look at someone in such a way before and she was surprised how scary it was. Clearly the blonde had more fire than she was letting on.

“Looks as though you are going up in the world, Emma darling. Have you finally given in to, how was it you put it? Oh yes, ‘corporate toxicity’.”

“Not yet, Camilla,” Emma replied. “This is Regina’s place, not mine.”

“Ah yes, your second chair,” Camilla smiled wickedly. “Ms Mills, I’ve heard so much about you.”

“Really?” Regina questioned. “I’ve heard nothing of you but then again, Pan&Whale is a second-rate firm. Not quite in our league.”

Camilla’s smile disappeared and she narrowed her eyes, watching Regina closely.

“I wouldn’t be bragging right now, Miss Mills. Bearing in mind, you’re the one rolling around with street trash.”

She felt Emma shift next to her. Fearing she was going to leap over the table at the smug woman, Regina put a hand on her arm. Thankfully, that was enough to encourage her to keep her cool.

“Shall we get on with things, Miss Duvell?” Regina suggested. “I believe you have an offer to discuss with us?”

“You presume I’m here to make an offer?”

“Aren’t you?”

The woman looked so smug, Regina was struggling to keep her cool. Camilla laughed amusingly, leaning back in her chair.

“No, Miss Mills. I am not here to make an offer. In fact, I’m stepping down as first chair.”

“You are?” Emma frowned. “How come?”

“I felt as though this…,” she gave Regina a side glance, “particular case would benefit from having someone different at the helm.”

Emma raised her eyebrows at that.

“Oh you did, did you? And when were you going to inform us of this?”

“Not that it’s any of your business, but right now.”

Emma and Regina shared a look as Camilla got to her feet and opened the conference room door.

“Darling, come on in.”

Yet another blonde woman appeared in the doorway and it was then Regina realized why Pan&Whale rang a bell. Without thinking, she got to her feet and stared at the familiar face in complete shock.

“Mal?”

Mallory Ficent smiled at her but it wasn’t a happy smile, it was vindictive.

“Hello Regina.”

Regina just stood there, watching as the two women took their seats opposite her and Emma, who was pulling on the sleeve of her blazer, forcing her back down.

“I’m guessing you two know each other,” Emma spoke up, making Mal chuckle.

“Yes, Miss Swan. Regina and I go way back.”

Regina felt like such an idiot. How could she have not put two and two together?

“Miss Swan, this is Mallory Ficent.”

“Pleasure,” Mallory said with pursed lips. “Back working with others, Regina? And here I was thinking I was special.”

“Mal, please,” Regina hissed, but it only made the other woman laugh. It wasn’t like when Emma laughed at her. When she did there was a fondness there. When Mal laughed at her it was poisonous.

“Oh, Regina. No need to be shy here. We are all about to be very good friends.”

“I very much doubt that,” Emma spoke up, her tone darker than before.

“Let her finish, Miss Swan,” Camilla cut in. “I have a feeling you’ll like this.”

Regina’s eyes were locked with Mal’s. The other woman was certainly enjoying herself but in those blue irises, there was still the hatred she’d seen there all those years ago. She’d be lying if she said that didn’t bother her.

“So you have an offer for us?” Emma asked, bringing Regina away from Mal’s gaze to look at the one blonde in the room she didn’t mind being there.

“Yes,” Mal nodded, Camilla passing her over a document. “We talked to our clients and they said they’d be willing to drop to this offer.”

She placed the document in front of Emma, who read it closely.

“Are you serious?” Emma questioned is disbelief. Regina quickly leaned over to see and she too could not believe what she saw.

$150,000.

“Very serious,” Mal replied. “We know your clients financial situation and we’d like this to stay out of court.”

“But this is ridiculous,” Regina cut in. “You’ve got the upper hand! Why would you roll over?”

Mal looked at her challengingly.

“You’re not in a position to negotiate this, Regina. This goes to court, you lose and we waste time. Just accept the deal, it’s beyond generous.”

Emma opened her mouth to reply but Regina quickly took the paper and ripped it in half.

“See you in court,” she told them before storming out of the room, leaving two smug blondes while another chased after her.

 

Regina had made her way to the underground parking lot by the time Emma managed to catch up with her.

“Regina, what the hell was that?”

“She was tormenting me and I wasn’t going to stand for that,” Regina replied, marching towards her car.

“It was the perfect deal, Regina! Now Mary-Margaret and David are going to lose everything!”

It was then Regina finally stopped and turned to face Emma.

“No, they’re going to win. Because I don’t lose and I’m sure as hell not losing to her.”

“You can’t promise that,” Emma shot back. “We had a clean cut deal!”

“Don’t you think I know that, Miss Swan?! It was the best deal imaginable but Mal…”

Regina trailed off, reaching into her pocket to take out her car keys. It was only when she heard the metallic sound of her keys that she realised her hands were shaking. She didn’t get to hold them for too long though as Emma was quick to take them off her.

“Miss Swan, give me back my keys.”

“Where are you going?” Emma questioned, looking at her with a serious expression.

“I need to get out of here. I need to drive.”

Emma looked her up and down before shaking her head.

“You aren’t driving in this state. I’ll take you somewhere.”

“No,” Regina said adamantly, taking off towards her car. She heard a loud sigh from behind her as Emma followed.

“Regina, I have your keys.”

“Miss Swan, please leave me alone.”

She was just about to get to her car when Emma sped up and cut her off. Regina tried to get passed her but the younger woman was quicker than her and blocked her every time so she was forced to accept defeat.

Emma dangled the keys in front of her as she made a show of putting them in her jacket pocket.

“I’m holding on to these until you calm down. Don’t try taking them ‘cause I’m faster than I look.”

“Miss Swan,” Regina said again, even her voice shaking. “Please, I need to get out of here.”

“And I’ll take you if you let me.”

“No, you don’t understand. I need to be alone, I…” Regina cut herself off when she spotted something stuck to the back bumper of her car. “Miss Swan, what is that on my car?!”

A guilty look appeared on Emma’s face and she stood by to let Regina see clearly what it was.

When she saw what it was, Regina couldn’t believe it.

“Is that a Joan Crawford bumper sticker?”

“Yeah, I found it online,” the blonde replied guiltily. “I was hoping you’d be in a better mood when you saw it.”

Regina stared at the sticker for a few moments before bursting out in hysterical laughter. She couldn’t stop, even when it began to hurt her stomach and feel rough in her throat. Emma looked absolutely terrified.

“Regina, are you okay?”

“No,” the brunette replied, her laughter mixing with tears. She was a total wreck in the middle of her work parking lot and in front of her co-counsel. She was very far from okay.

She felt an arm wrap around her as she was led away from the car.

“Come on,” Emma spoke softly. “Let’s get outta here.”

Chapter Text

Emma drove them down to the water while Regina sat in the passenger seat hysterically crying. She was so embarrassed but the tears just wouldn’t stop falling. Thankfully, Emma said nothing, just kept on driving until they reached their destination. Then, once she parked up, Emma just sat there and allowed her to let out all the tears she had and slowly calm down.

Once she’d finally stopped crying, Regina watched Emma get out of the car and was quick to follow her. Wordlessly, they walked closer to the water and sat on the nearest bench. They sat in silence for a while but, as usual, Emma Swan couldn’t stay silent for long.

“So, did you like the bumper sticker?”

“It’s very funny, Miss Swan,” Regina replied, her voice uneven from all the crying. “How did you find such a thing?”

“The internet is a crazy place.”

Regina smiled and nodded in agreement.

“Indeed it is.”

It was then Emma addressed the elephant in the room.

“So, what’s the deal with this Mal lady?”

Regina sighed. She didn’t want to talk about it but she knew she didn’t have much of a choice.

“When I started working at Gold & Co., we were junior associates. During that time we got close…”

“Close or close?” Emma cut in.

Regina closed her eyes, trying to keep herself in check.

“Close as in I was hopelessly in love with her.”

Shit,” Emma breathed and Regina nodded.

“Indeed.”

“So what? You had a bad break up?”

“We weren’t really dating,” Regina clarified. “We were working too much to have any form of social life besides…you know.”

“Regina Mills, you little minx,” Emma teased. “Look, you don’t have to tell me the rest if you don’t want to…”

“No, no,” Regina quickly cut in. “You should know. Anyway, we been having this thing for almost a year when the financial crisis happened and we were told that they had to cut one of us…”

“And they fired Mal,” Emma finished. “She took it bad?”

“Very”, Regina nodded. “She said I only got the job because I was the boss’s daughter. Worse thing was, that wasn’t even the case. My mother would have not thought twice about getting rid of me if I wasn’t the better choice. I tried to tell Mal that but she didn’t believe me.”

“So she left you, just like that?”

Regina let out a bitter laugh.

“I haven’t even got to the punch line. I told her I’d give up the job if it meant not losing her. She just laughed in my face, told me she only got close to me because of who my parents were and the fact I fell for it proved that I was the weaker candidate.”

Emma jumped off the seat, fists clenched.

“That fucking bitch.”

“Miss Swan, calm yourself,” Regina snapped. “Sit down.”

Doing as she was told, Emma returned to her seat. Regina could hear her breathing heavily.

“How can people be such fucking bastards?!”

“Miss Swan, stop swearing,” the brunette scolded her. “Yes, she hurt me and yes, she pushes my buttons. But what happened taught me a lesson to not give my heart out so freely.”

That made Emma frown.

“What do you mean by that?”

“I won’t let anyone else hurt me, Miss Swan. The only person I can trust we my heart is myself.”

The blonde clearly didn’t like that answer, sitting up and staring at Regina with wide eyes.

“So you’re never going to let yourself love anyone again? Regina, that’s no way to live.”

At that, Regina rolled her eyes.

“I hardly live a tortured existence. I have a successful career, an above average income, and a nice home. That’s enough for me.”

“No, it isn’t,” Emma shook her head.

“And you know this how, Miss Swan?”

“I watched you with Henry the other day,” Emma answered. “You’re eyes brightened the more time you were with him. You may not know it yet, but I think soon you’ll want more than just a work life.”

Regina shook her head adamantly.

“No, I don’t think so. My job is demanding enough for me to not need anything else.”

Regina looked out on the water, watching the boats floating along. She’d always loved the harbour, having grown up with the sea at her back door she’d always felt a close connection to it. The sound of waves calmed her and reminded her of simpler, happier times when the world made more sense.

“You know I told you I had no parents, right?” Emma spoke up, shattering Regina’s small moment of tranquillity.

“Yes, I do,” Regina nodded.

“They left me by the side of the road like I was trash. It’s something I’ve never got over even though I don’t remember it happening. I got passed around a lot as a kid, no family wanting me for long. Still, I got a scholarship to go to college and I got into law school. Met I guy, Henry happened, guy left. It’s all stuff I’ve never been able to get over. Then I went to a therapist a couple of years back. He said I had severe abandonment issues. Yeah, I spend a lot of the time scared the people I care about are going to up and leave, maybe sometimes I get so paranoid about it that I consider cutting the ties myself. But does that stop me from letting people in? Hell no. Because life is worth living, as corny as that may sound.”

Regina let all that information sink in. It was a total surprise. Emma was so confident, so open. But then you never truly know a person…

“I’m not unopen, Miss Swan,” Regina spoke up. “I just don’t like the pain.”

“No one does,” Emma told her. “I hate it as much as you do. I just don’t give into it.”

Regina watched as a small boat floated passed. The water was calm, perfect for sailing.

“My father died a few years ago,” Regina suddenly blurted out without even realising. She didn’t want to continue but the look Emma gave her told her she had no choice. “We were always very close. I was his only biological child, though he adopted my half-sister, Zelena, when she was younger than Henry is now. In fact, it wasn’t until my sister revealed the fact during a family argument in our teen years that I even knew this fact. He loved her as much as he loved me, gave her his name and made sure she never felt like the odd one out. He worked away a lot while we were growing up but when he was home, we had the most wonderful time. He liked the sea, having grown up by the sea back in Puerto-Rico. Back home, were my mother lives, there is a private beach were we’d spend days on end swimming and building sandcastles. Then when we’d come into the city, we’d go out on his boat and sail around the harbour. They were always the best days.”

Regina smiled at the memories and Emma smiled also.

“Then we grew up,” she continued. “My future kept looking brighter, Zelena’s became more and more questionable. Then, two years or so all that business with Mal, Zelena got busted with drugs in her car. The normal conviction for that here is around two years, as you’ll know. She would have got that but you see, Mills is a well-known name. My dad built up a very successful business and my mother is infamous, as you’ll also know. So the judge decided to make an example of her and gave her a ten year sentence. Turns out the gift my father had given her was more like a curse.”

“What?” Emma gasped. “Can they do that?”

“Of course they can,” Regina almost laughed. “But as you can imagine, my mother was furious. We appealed so many times but to no avail. She’s still in there now, though I don’t see her often.”

“Hurts too much?” Emma asked and Regina nodded.

“Now I’ve put it off so much, I can’t muster up the courage,” she admitted. “But anyway, my dad died of a sudden heart attack. It was awful, truly awful. That pain I’d felt with Mal was nothing compared to losing him. He was my favourite person, the one who always knew how to make me smile. Then suddenly, just like that, he was gone. We had a funeral but it was small since Zelena was given permission to attend and my mother didn’t want her to be a spectacle. His last wish was to be scattered on the beach behind our house and since Zelena was only allowed out for the funeral, it was just me and Mother there. Once we’d scattered his ashes and all, I asked her if I’d ever be able to love someone as much as he loved all of us. You know what she said to me?”

Emma shook her head. Regina looked out on the water again, recalling the bitter memory.

“She said ‘love is weakness’,” Regina looked back to Emma, her last remaining tear rolling down her cheek. “Is the fact I don’t believe her enough for now?”

Emma smiled and nodded, reaching forward to catch the tear with her thumb.

“Yeah, I’d say that’s something we can work with.”

Regina smiled also and the pair turned their attention to the harbour once more, watching the boats sail by.

Chapter Text

Regina was happy to see Emma already waiting outside the courtroom when she arrived, smiling at her as she walked over.

“You’re early, Miss Swan,” Regina commented, to which the blonde shrugged.

“Dropped the kid off at preschool and had nowhere else to be.”

“How is Henry?”

“I’m not sure, actually,” Emma replied with obvious worry in her face. “He was really quiet when he came home and he’s only ever quiet when something’s bothering him. I tried to get him to talk to me but he just went straight to his room.”

Regina frowned, incredibly bothered by this.

“If there is anything I can do, let me know.”

“Thanks,” Emma half smiled but Regina could tell her co-counsel was not in her usual high spirits. Understandably so. She couldn’t even imagine the worry a mother left for her child but from what she could tell, it was tearing Emma apart inside.

The synchronised clapping of high heels against stone signalled the arrival of their opposition. Camilla and Mal walked through into the courtroom, smiling smugly as they passed.

“Here we go,” Emma huffed. “Let’s get in there.”

Regina nodded and followed Emma into the courtroom.

 

Emma had said they were pretty high on the judge’s list that day but it turned out they were following a law suit involving a Hot Dog vender’s cart rolling off and hitting a Wall Street Banker on a business trip. As you can imagine, they ended up sat there for quite some time.

Eventually, they were called up to the bench. As the four women approached the bench, it was like switch had been pressed inside Emma as she tried to beat Mal to the front of the court. Sure Emma was fast but Mal had the advantage of having high heels to add more length to every stride and beat her to the bench. Regina just let Camilla walk ahead of her, not wanting to indulge the vile woman in her playground pettiness.

They’d had the misfortune of receiving Judge George. Regina had been in his courtroom for several cases and won every time. That was the problem. Judge George liked social hierarchy and so the high-up businessmen she’d defended in those cases always had his ear, his bias clear as day. Though the Darlings were no Kardashians, Regina feared as soon as he realised who Mary-Margaret was and how she’d swapped life as a kept daughter for the downtown guy, his bias would not go in their favour.

Judge George looked at Emma with distaste before looking at Mal and Camilla and rolling his eyes. Regina could practically read his thoughts- street trash and cheap knock-offs. When he noticed her, his face brightened.

“Miss Mills, it’s been a long time.”

“Indeed it has, your honour,” Regina replied with a nod.

“Tell me, how’s your mother? I haven’t seen her down the club for some time?”

“She’s very well, your honour.”

“Good, give her my best.”

“I will, your honour.”

Judge George nodded before looking to the case file.

“So, the case of Darling vs. Blanchard and Nolan. Has any settlements been offered?”

“We offered the defence a very generous settlement offer, your honour,” Mal answered. “They turned it down.”

“So this will be proceeding to court,” he said with no amount of enthusiasm. “Is there any argument against holding the trail in front of the jury?”

“No, your honour,” Emma answered with a surprising amount of professionalism.

“Oh no, your honour,” Mal practically purred, glancing back at Regina. “We are very confident in taking this case before a jury.”

Judge George nodded, scanning the case file once more.

“Any other issues that need to be made known before trail?”

“Yes, your honour.”

To Regina’s surprise, it was Emma who spoke up.

“Proceed, Miss Swan.”

Emma cleared her throat and stood up straighter.

“Your honour, I’d like to request that one of our witnesses testify via two-way video feed.”

Jude George narrowed his eyes.

“And for what reason?”

“Because they are a minor, your honour.”

“Objection, your honour,” Mal quickly jumped in. “We have a minor on our witness list and we have not made such a request.”

“Your honour, my witness is small for his age and…”

It was then a cell phone rang, and the sound seemed to becoming from Emma’s jacket pocket. Judge George glared at her as the blonde sheepishly reached into her pocket.

“My apologies, your honour.”

Regina fought the urge to face-palm as she watched Emma check her phone under the scrutinising gaze of the judge. However, when she saw Emma freeze upon reading the screen, she knew something was up.

“Excuse me, your honour,” Emma said quickly. “I must take this call.”

Judge George glared her down once more before nodding. Regina watched as the blonde moved passed her and practically ran out of the courtroom. With a sigh, she took her place at the bench.

“Miss Mills, it is only out of my respect for you and your mother that I don’t hold your co-counsel in contempt of court.”

“I do, your honour,” Regina nodded, trying to ignore the smirks both Mal and Camilla were sporting.

“And as such, I deny your co-counsel’s request and deem that any and all witnesses must take the stand in person unless there are concerns for their safety and wellbeing.”

“I understand, your honour,” Regina nodded.

“Anything from the prosecution?” Judge George looked to Mal, who shook her head.

“No, your honour.”

“That settles it,” he said, picking up his gavel. “The case of Darling vs. Blanchard and Nolan will be held in front of a jury in three days hence.”

He then stroke down the gravel and that was that.

“Next case.”

As Regina walked always from the bench, Mal bumped her shoulder.

“I’m looking forward to us sharing a courtroom again.”

Regina watched as her ex moved ahead to join Camilla, both smiling victoriously. She huffed and went off in search of Emma.

 

She found the blonde loitering outside the courthouse, pacing. Regina stormed towards her.

“What the hell was that about?! You made yourself look incredibly unprofessional in front of the judge! You’re lucky him and my mother have a history and that he’s as bias as they come otherwise you’d be held in contempt.”

“Regina,” Emma sighed. “I really don’t care right now.”

“DON’T CARE?!” Regina all but screamed. “How dare you! If you are going to act like this, Miss Swan, I’m walking.”

“Regina, don’t,” the blonde’s pleaded like a child. Regina sighed and folded her arms.

“Tell me, what is so important that you run out of court like that and leave me there like a sitting duck?”

If there was ever a reason Regina would accept, Emma said it in a single word.

“Henry.”

Regina’s anger disappeared and was replaced with deep worry.

“Why, what’s wrong?”

“I don’t know,” Emma replied, her voice cracking at the end as her eyes began to glisten with tears. “Apparently there has been some kind of incident. They won’t tell me over the phone but I need to get down there.”

“Then why are you still here?! Go, go.”

“I needed to tell you that first, and that I need to deal with Henry for the rest of the day.”

“Well your request was denied and we only have tomorrow and the next day to get this case ready for trail.”

“Oh fuck,” Emma cursed. “What are we gonna do?”

“Maybe Henry could come to the office…”

“No,” Emma shook her head. “I don’t know what he’s going to be like when I pick him up and I don’t want him running a mock.”

“Okay then,” Regina nodded, mind racing through possibilities before she found a likely solution. “Why don’t you take care of Henry now and then the both of you come to my apartment later? If Henry is unwell then he can sleep in my guest room, if he’s had a rough day then he can come play in the pool, and if by some sudden change in character he has done something wrong then I have a 2,000 piece puzzle of the globe you can punish him with.”

Emma mulled the idea over before nodding.

“Sounds like a plan. I do really want to see this luxury pad of yours.”

“Excellent,” Regina smiled. “I’ll make you dinner. Is there anything Henry won’t eat?”

Emma laughed and shook her head.

“He’s his mother’s son and so he eats pretty much anything.”

“Alright then,” Regina nodded. “Now go!”

Regina watched the blonde run off in the direction of her car. Though she was both worried about Henry’s well being and still kind of annoyed by Emma’s actions in the court room, she couldn’t help but be excited for when she'd see both Swans again later.

Chapter Text

Regina had been very excited about Emma and Henry coming round. She’d made sure the pool was clean and in order (even though she’d had a pool maintenance guy come check on it a few weeks before) and had gone out to the store especially for dinner supplies.

Then, just as she was preparing her signature homemade lasagne, she received a text from Emma that ruined everything.

Hey, listen…Mary-Margaret invited me and Henry round for dinner and I told her we were having dinner at your place and…she kind of invited herself and David :/ hope that is okay?

Regina didn’t reply, hoping Emma would get the message that no, it was not okay. Not okay at all. The Emma text again.

Regina, I know you’re pissed right now but she’s our client and you promise you’d have her round.

That was when Regina bit.

No, Miss Swan, I did not promise. Mary-Margaret invited herself like she has this evening. And no, it is not okay.

Emma replied almost straight away.

I know and I’m sorry but you know as well as I do you can’t say no to her.

Yes you can, Miss Swan, Regina typed back. In fact, I’ll tell her no right now.

She was half way through her text to Mary-Margaret when Emma replied.

Regina, please! It’s one evening and Henry will be there! He’s so excited to see you and play in the pool and after the day he’s had, he needs to have a good time. I’ll take care of M&M and we can use the time to update them on the case. Please juts be civil…for me?

Regina sighed and deleted the message she was going to send to Mary-Margaret.

Fine but I’m not happy about it. How is Henry?

He’ll be okay. I’ll tell you later.

Regina put her phone back on the counter and continued to make the lasagne with much less enthusiasm as she had before.

Yet if Regina was anything, she was a good hostess and so when she answered the door to Little Miss and her Mr Man, she greeted them with a bright smile.

“Mary-Margaret, David, come on in. Can I take your coats?”

The pair walked in and shrugged off their coats.

“Wow, Regina,” Mary-Margaret gasped. “This place is beautiful.”

“Thank you,” Regina replied politely as she hung their coats up in the closet. “Not as grand as our childhood homes but I like it that way.”

While Mary-Margaret looked around impressed, David was in absolute awe.

“This place is amazing! Look at the couch! Look at the TV! Look at the view!”

Regina watched as the grown man ran around her apartment like an excitable child. Next to her, Mary-Margaret laughed.

“Boys and their toys. They never grow out of it.”

“I’ll take your word for it,” Regina replied, keeping an eye on David near her expensive vases. In fact, she was watching him so closely that Mary-Margaret’s next statement caught her even more off-guard.

“Emma likes girls too, you know.”

The abruptness of it made Regina jump but followed it up with an eye roll.

“I guessed as much considering she flirts with me at any given opportunity.”

Regina had expected Mary-Margaret to laugh but instead she looked at her in surprise.

“She does?”

Before Regina could reply, there was a knock at the door. Feeling the rush of excitement she’d felt that afternoon until her evening was rudely gate-crashed, she all but ran to the door. As soon as it opened, Henry shot in, quickly hugging her waist before darting around the apartment like a mad thing.

“Mommy, it’s as big as a castle! Mommy, this couch is giant! Woah, Mommy! Look at the TV! Wow, you can see everything from up here! Mommy, help me find our apartment!”

“Henry Swan, I raised you with manners. Get your grubby hands and off that window!”

Regina smiled at Emma as the blonde walked into the apartment. The blonde was wearing a dress but all the attention was drawn to that terrible read leather jacket. She seriously could not get over how awful that jacket was.

“Hey,” Emma greeted her. “Nice place.”

“Thank you, Miss Swan. Can I take your coat?”

“Sure,” Emma smiled and shrugged off her jacket. And then, Regina’s jaw dropped.

She knew Emma was wearing a dress but that was a dress. It was hot pink, slim-fit, and hugged in all the right places. It was sleeveless, exposing her muscular arms just as the dress showed her toned stomach. Then there was her hair, flowing angelically down to the neckline which teased cleavage but didn’t give much away.

She’d always known Emma was an attractive woman but, if you excuse the profanity, fuck.

“Erm, Regina?”

Snapping out of her trance and realising that she’d been gawking at the other woman for an unknown length of time, Regina blushed.

“I apologise, Miss Swan.”

Emma laughed and walked closer.

“Didn’t know you couldn’t handle a bit of skin, Mills,” she winked, nudging Regina lightly as she walked past and headed to where Henry was stood, looking round the living area in awe. “You okay, kid?”

“Where’s the pool?” he asked. “I’m wearing my trunks.”

“Wait till Regina says you can, Kid.”

“Of course you can, Henry,” Regina smiled at him before ointing to one of the doors leading off from the living area. “It’s just through there.”

Henry jumped up and down with excitement.

“Regina, come in the pool with me!”

“I’m sorry, Henry,” she replied sadly. “I need to make dinner. Maybe Mary-Margaret and David will go in with you.”

Henry pouted before looking to the couple expectantly. David laughed and ruffled his hair.

“Okay, buddy. Let’s race and Mary-Margaret can referee.”

Henry grinned before speeding off to the pool, David and Mary-Margaret happy to follow.

“Don’t you want to go in?” Regina asked Emma, who shrugged.

“I’m not in the mood,” Emma replied before smirking at her suggestively. “But if you go in, I could be persuaded.”

Regina laughed but shook her head.

“Not tonight, we have work to do. Anyway, I don’t really like the pool.”

“You don’t like the pool?” the blonde frowned. “Why have it then?”

“I can’t very much get rid of it, especially after my mother searched high and low for an apartment that had one. There’s nothing wrong with the pool particularly, I just prefer swimming in natural water.”

“Fair enough,” Emma shrugged. “So, want any help with dinner?”

“If you’d like,” Regina smiled and lead the other woman to the kitchen area. She didn’t really need the help, she could make this meal in her sleep, but it meant the pair could talk about what had happened that morning.

“So, how is Henry? He seems happy.”

“Only because he’s been wanting to get in your pool since Mary-Margaret let it slip,” Emma laughed but Regina could hear the sadness in the other woman’s voice. A she expected, Emma then turned deadly serious.

“He’s getting bullied.”

“What?!” Regina gasped. “W-why would anyone do that? He’s the sweetest kid!”

“I’ve been asking that myself all day,” Emma sighed. “Thing is, I knew something was up and when I got that call, I had a feeling it was going to go how it did. Apparently one of the teachers noticed Henry getting pinned up against a wall by a bigger kid. The teacher talked to Henry about it and he admitted to her that said kid had been bullying him. So the teacher takes the kid out of the class and Henry somehow got his head shoved down a toilet.”

Regina couldn’t believe what she was hearing.

“But…they’re five year old kids!”

Emma shrugged again.

“Kids are fucked-up, Regina. I grew up in a foster home, I know exactly what kids are capable of.”

Normally very intrigued by Emma’s life, Regina definitely didn’t want to know what she was alluding to.

“What are you going to do?”

“Not sure. He’s staying home until I can figure something out. I can’t send him back there I already feel bad about sending him when I knew something was wrong.”

“Don’t do that,” Regina told her sternly. “This wasn’t your fault. The teachers were incapable of doing their jobs and those kids are evil. Don’t you dare blame yourself, Miss Swan.”

“I doubt they’re evil, Regina,” Emma said with a hint of amusement. “It happens. The kids probably saw it in a film or something. They say kids are easily influenced and like you said, they’re five. They aren’t responsible and the teachers are outnumbered. I on the other hand has one kid and I ignored all the signs because I didn’t want to see it. What hurts the most is that he didn’t even trust me enough to tell me about any of this.”

Regina held up her hand to silence her.

“Stop right there, Miss Swan. You ignored nothing, you knew something was wrong but you didn’t know what it was. As for Henry not talking to you about it, he was probably scared of telling anyone. The important thing is that he’s safe now and he’s having a fun evening.”

Emma didn’t look convinced. Regina sighed and moved over to her wine rack.

“Are you driving?”

“No, we got the bus. David is gonna take us home.”

Regina nodded and pulled a bottle of red wine out of the rack before getting two glasses. She poured two drinks and handed one to the blonde.  Emma took it gratefully, taking a sip and nodding in approval.

“Nice stuff.”

“Yes,” Regina agreed, taking a sip from her own glass. “I know I’m no expert on this subject but from what I’ve seen you are an exceptional mother, Miss Swan.”

“Thanks, Regina,” Emma smiled. It wasn’t a big smile but Regina could tell it was genuine. “Quick question and you don’t have to answer if you don’t want to, have you ever considered having kids?”

And there it was. The familiar sting she felt whenever anyone branched that topic. Sometimes she’d lie and say ‘oh no, I’d never have the time’, or brush it off with a ‘maybe someday’ or a snippy ‘that’s none of your business.’ She couldn’t really do that with Emma, though. For some reason with her she was an open book.

“Once I did, after Mal, Zelena, and my father. I decided to go it alone, get a donor and raise the baby by myself. I had my contrast changed so that I could go part time if I ever had a child, even gave a few clients over to my colleagues in preparation. But it never happened.”

“Why? Did you get cold feet or something?”

Regina took a large gulp of wine and lowered the glass, watching the red liquid instead of meeting Emma’s gaze.

“I can’t have children, Miss Swan.”

Silence was no stranger to them but this one was suffocating. Looking up, she saw that was staring down at something with frown, deep in her thoughts. Noticing her glass was now half empty, Regina topped it up and did the same to her own.

“Thanks,” Emma said quietly, escaping her thoughts and taking another sip of her wine. “This is seriously good stuff.”

“Should be, it’s worth $500,” Regina told her, unable to hold back the laugh when she saw Emma’s eyes widen. “It was a gift from a client, as most of my wine are.”

“I’d better take my plan to sweep you off your feet with flowers and chocolates back to the drawing board then,” Emma teased, making Regina blush.

“I’m a prize, Miss Swan,” Regina replied, to which Emma nodded in agreement to almost instantly.

“Yes you are. Which reminds me, we’re meeting with our new witness tomorrow afternoon so I was going to take Henry to the new Guardians of the Galaxy in the morning. Wanna come with?”

“I haven’t seen the first one,” Regina pointed out but Emma waved that off.

“Doesn’t matter, you’ll get it. If you’re that worried, Henry will tell you everything that happened in the first one.”

“I don’t know…” Regina trailed off, making Emma do a sad face that was the spitting image of Henry’s.

“Oh come on, pretty please? Henry will love it and you can share my popcorn.”

Regina rolled her eyes. Why were Swan’s so annoyingly persuasive?

“Okay then, I’ll go,” Regina sighed, making the blonde grin.

It was then that the egg-timer went off and Regina checked her watch in surprise.

“That’s my twenty-minute warning,” Regina announced, moving over to set the egg-timer again.

“Wow, you’re a pro at this,” Emma laughed before opening the oven. “Wow, that smells amazing!”

Regina moved over and closed the oven.

“It’ll taste even better if you let it cook.”

“Okay, okay,” Emma held up her hands in mock defence. Regina rolled her eyes before placing the salad bowl in front of her.

“Toss the salad for me, would you? Oh and this new witness, is it the one you asked the judge about today?”

“Yeah, the one impartial witness to the assault. Kid called August, cute as a button. His dad was okay about him testifying but wanted him to be safe so I suggested the video feed. Now that’s out of the window, I’ve gotta try persuade him to still let the kid testify in person.”

Regina frowned as she placed a baguette on her cutting-board, beginning to cut it into small slices.

“I don’t know how I feel about this. I know this is a sensitive case but I know what Mal is like and she’ll not care whether it’s a kid on the stand or a grown adult.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll deal with the terrible twins,” Emma assured her. “Don’t count me out, Regina. You haven’t seen me in action yet.”

Regina rolled her eyes and continued cutting the bread, all while watching the other woman out of the corner of her eye.

 

Dinner was a success, the food at least. Everyone cleared their plates, even Henry who had said it was ‘the best food ever!’

The conversation, however, was not so great.

After everyone had commented on how good the food was and Emma made a quick toast, momentarily things became awkward. Regina didn’t know what possessed her to do so but she’d found herself asking Mary-Margaret and David how they’d met.

Big mistake.

David didn’t get a word in edgeways while Mary-Margaret went on and on and on and on and on and on….

Every little detail was covered, even stuff that had no context in the great epic love story Regina didn’t ask for. She pretended to listen while really paying attention to Emma working her way through the two bottles of wine she’d left out on the table. She’d had a glass, Mary-Margaret had half, David was driving, and Henry was five. Yet somehow all three bottles had been finished and the culprit was obvious without the process of elimination. That led to Regina also having to keep an eye out for Henry, who had left the table after he’d finished his meal and was wondering around the living area exploring.

It was Henry who ended Mary-Margaret’s ramblings by dropping a large book down on the dinner table.

“What you got there, Kid?” Emma asked, the alcohol making her much louder than usual, which Regina didn’t think was possible.

“A story book!” Henry announced excitedly. Regina sat up and looked at what the young boy had brought over. When she caught sight of the cover, she laughed.

“I’ve never seen this before,” Mary-Margaret commented, looking to Regina. “Is it a children’s book?”

“Looks it,” Emma answered for her with a frown. “Why would you own a book called Once Upon a Time, Mills?”

“I don’t own it,” Regina answered. “I made it.”

“You wrote a book?” Emma asked in surprise, taking the book from Henry and opening it at a random page. “Ooo, pictures!”

“Let me see!” Henry jumped up and down in excitement before Emma scooped him up and sat him on her lap. “Wow, cool!”

Emma scanned the text and laughed.

“Snow White and Prince Charming? Really, Regina?”

Mary-Margaret seemed to perk up at that, which annoyed Regina greatly. Looking to the blonde, she raised an eyebrow.

“What do you mean by that, Miss Swan?”

“Well…it’s not very you,” Emma replied. “I’d have thought you’d write a law textbook or something, not this!”

Regina was about to argue that but then she realised Emma had a point. So she decided to just explain.

“I took a writing class in college and that was the result. My father loved it so much that he hired an illustrator and had it printed and binded. I have two copies, one he made for me and one he made for himself. That’s his copy and he even made me sign it.”

Regina smiled at the memory, her father was such a loveable goof. Emma smiled too, turning to the front pages and laughing.

“Hey Kid, look at that! Here, in front of us, is a rare book signed by none other than Regina Mills!”

Henry grinned and ran his hand across the page.

“I wanna read Regina’s book!”

“I do too, Kid,” Emma answered, flipping through the book. “Looks like fun!”

“You’re welcome to take it with you,” Regina said fondly at Henry, whose smile grew even bigger.

“Thank you, Regina!”

Emma however, wasn’t smiling and if she hadn’t seen her drink an excessive amount of alcohol with her own two eyes, she’d believe she was sober.

“Regina, are you sure? It’s you dads.”

“It’s fine, Miss Swan,” Regina assured her, finding Emma’s concern incredibly touching. “But like I said, I have two copies. My own copy is the one I most treasure and, either way, I’d very much like to here Henry’s review.”

Emma nodded in agreement, a smile appearing on her face that proved that, yes, Emma Swan had drank to much.

“We’d better get going,” David said, checking his watch. “Otherwise we won’t make it back for Henry’s bedtime.”

As her guests go ready to leave, after Mary-Margaret had insisted on doing at least some of the clearing up, Regina fetched everyone’s coats. She gave David’s his first and they shared an awkward hug before he was yanked anyway and replaced by a very clingy Mary-Margaret.

“Tonight has been amazing,” the younger woman said joyfully, to which Regina nodded.

“Yes, though we didn’t get to discuss the case at all. We’ll have to meet and go through it before trial.”

“That means we’ll have to do this again,” Mary-Margaret replied, pulling away and looking at Regina with a bright smile. “Oh, I have missed you so much.”

Thankfully she didn’t have time to come up with a polite reply as the other woman kissed both her cheeks and took her coat from her.

“See you soon, Regina,” she smiled before leaning in again to whisper in her ear. “David and I will leave you guys alone.”

Regina looked at her in confusion but Mary-Margaret looked right past her to where Emma stood helping Henry into his coat.

“Emma, David and I will go call the elevator,” she told her, winking at Regina before walking out of the apartment. Regina rolled her eyes before yelping when she felt something attach itself to the bottom of her right leg. Looking down, she saw it was Henry, clinging to her like a sad koala.

“Kid, let go of Regina’s leg right now,” she heard Emma tell him but the boy’s grip only became tighter.

“I want to stay here with Regina and the pool.”

Hearing Emma’s annoyed sigh, Regina decided to take matters into her own hands.

“Okay, Henry. But before you go in the pool, you have to help me with all the dishes.”

Henry jumped away from her as though she had some kind of plague.

“Bye, Regina,” he said, taking the large book from Emma and running off with it after David and Mary-Margaret.

“That was impressive,” Emma laughed moving to Regina and holding out her leather jacket. “Will you help me with this?”

Though she was sure Emma was in no way incapable of her putting her own jacket on, Regina complied. Helping her into the arms, she turned the blonde round and smartened her collar, all the while very aware of how Emma was looking at her.

“There, all ready,” she said when she was done, looking up to meet Emma’s gaze. “Let me know about the movie tomorrow. I’ll have to let my mother know I won’t be in the office. Also, I’ll be reviewing the state laws on minors giving evidence if I find anything of use I shall let you kn…”

Before Regina could finish, Emma leaned forward and placed a long and intense kiss on her nose, stunning the brunette instantly. She didn’t know what to do. She was sure a peck on the nose was fine but this amount of nose kissing was not hygienic. Still, it was a kiss. A nose kiss but a kiss from Emma Swan, her co-counsel who drove her crazy yet somehow made her feel so safe and warm inside.

You’ve had too much wine, Regina told herself, and clearly so has she.

 Before breathing became an issue, Emma pulled away.

She looked at Regina for a moment before nodding.

“Okay, next time I know to aim lower.”

Then, just like that, she left, shutting the front door behind her.

Regina just stood there, not entirely sure if that had really happened.

It certainly had been an eventful evening.

Chapter Text

Emma was uncharacteristically quiet when Regina picked her and Henry up that morning. None of that Joan Crawford nonsense, no flirtations, nothing. All she got as a ‘hello’ and then she’d turned her attention to Henry, telling him to recount the plot of the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie.

Admittedly, Regina didn’t understand any of what Henry told her and when she looked to Emma for context, the blonde refused to even look at her. Eventually they made it to the movie theatre and, true to her word, Emma got a large popcorn for them all to share.

The film itself was…interesting. Regina didn’t understand much of what was going on but Henry seemed to very much enjoy himself so she was happy with that. Once they had been forced to sit through the credits for five scenes that were totally unnecessary, they left the theatre with Henry jumping around them excitedly.

“And then Star Lord went pow and Drax was like boom and Gamora was like Wham.

“We know, kid,” Emma sighed. “We watched the movie too.”

Henry stuck his tongue out at his mother, who did the same in return, before looking up at Regina.

“What was your favourite part, Regina?”

When it ended, Regina thought but did not say.

“I enjoyed the soundtrack.”

Emma let out a snort of laughter. She shot her a look but the blonde quickly looked down, still refusing to look at her. Regina frowned, what had she done?

Luckily Regina chattered on and on as they reached her car and drove to Mary-Margaret’s. He’d said goodbye to her and Emma wordlessly took him up to their apartment before returning just as silent.

They just sat in the car, parked in a no parking zone, no radio no nothing. Eventually, Emma finally broke.

“Why are we just sat here? We need to get going to meet August and his dad.”

“I don’t know where I’m going, Miss Swan,” Regina reminded her. “I drive, you direct. That’s our system.”

“Oh yeah,” Emma replied in a quiet voice. “Sorry, drive up and take the first left.”

Regina nodded and did just that.

“So, are you going to tell me why you won’t look at me or do I have to guess?”

“What?” Emma questioned, feigning innocence. “I’ve been doing no such thing!”

“Okay then, look at me now,” Regina challenged.

“You’re driving!”

“I don’t have to look at you to know you’re looking at me, Miss Swan.”

“What? That makes no sense.”

Regina rolled her eyes and shook her head.

“Stop making excuses, Miss Swan. Either look at me or tell me why you won’t.”

Though her eyes were firmly on the road, she could tell Emma was struggling with her decision.

“Fine,” Emma sighed. “I admit it. I can’t look at you. Is that enough?”

“No, I want to know why,” Regina pressed.

Regina….”

“Miss Swan…”

Emma huffed and slumped in her chair.

“Fine, if you are going to act like such a child, I’ll tell you.”

“Me acting like a child?” Regina questioned, eyebrows raised. “You’re the one who has been refusing to even look at me all morning let alone say two words to me unless forced.”

Emma didn’t say anything for a few moments before saying something unintelligible.

“Excuse me?”

Emma sighed and repeated what she said.

“I French kissed your nose,” she spoke through gritted teeth before suddenly sitting up in her seat. “Turn right here.”

Regina followed Emma’s direction with an amused smirk.

“Is that it? You won’t speak to me because you kissed my nose?”

“Yes,” Emma replied in shame. “Not exactly a Casanova move.”

“I’m sure Casanova probably did a lot worse,” Regina pointed out, making Emma laugh softly.

“Yeah, you’re probably right. Still wasn’t very smooth, was it?”

“Not particularly,” Regina admitted. “But you weren’t trying to be so it’s fine.”

Emma didn’t reply, just pointed to what looked like a joiners.

“Pull up right here.”

Regina did so and the pair got out of the car. She followed Emma into the shop and was surprised by what she found inside. Hidden on a street on the wrong side of town was a shop filled with the most beautiful wood pieces she had ever seen. Elegant ornaments, traditional yet intricate designed cuckoo clocks, and detailed wooden plaques which seemed to mostly depict well-known Prussian folktales.

“This place is beautiful,” Regina gasped, looking around in awe. “I would have never expected such a place in this neighbourhood.”

“And that’s a dollar in the snob jar,” Emma teased, picking up a small modal Micky Mouse and bopping it on the nose. “It’s not all you rich folk who like their fineries.”

“I know, I know,” Regina said quickly. “But some of these wouldn’t be out of place in art galleries.”

“Not everyone wants excessive success, Regina,” Emma replied. “Some of us are happy just getting by.”

It was then an elderly man walked through from the back.

“Emma,” he greeted her in a thick Germanic accent, bright smile on his face. Emma smiled also, reaching over and shaking his hand.

“Nice to see you, Geppetto,” Emma replied, earning a harsh elbow from Regina. “Hey!”

Regina shot Emma a look before smiling politely to the man.

“Will you excuse us a moment?”

As soon as she nodded, Regina turned Emma around and walked her a few feet away.

“Do I have to talk to you again about professionalism?”

“No you don’t,” Emma huffed. “That is his nickname round here.”

“And that is fine for your average Joe but we are lawyers on a case and so we refer to them as their given name.”

“Regina, I’ve known his since I was five and I’ll address him how I always have,” Emma snapped before going back to talk to the man in question.

“Excuse Miss Bossy Pants, Gep. She’s new.”

Regina glared at Emma before smiling to the man and holding out her hand.

“Mr Booth, I’m Regina Mills. I’m working on the case with Miss Swan.”

Mr Booth smiled and shook her hand enthusiastically.

“Nice to meet you. Before you ask, yes I am from Germany. My parents and I immigrated here and changed our family name when I was a child. It is also my boy’s name, August. I legally adopted him.”

“Yes, Miss Swan informed me,” Regina nodded. “My father’s family did the same when he came here from Puerto Rico. He felt it would help establishing himself as a businessman.”

“It’s a shame,” Mr Boot said sadly. “Family names are precious.”

Regina nodded in agreement.

“But sometimes they matters a little too much.”

“Okay…lets move on to the trial stuff,” Emma interjected awkwardly. Regina nodded once more.

“Yes, lets. Miss Swan told me August would be here.”

“Oh yes,” Mr Booth nodded before heading through the back of the shop.

“You didn’t tell me Mills wasn’t your last name?” Emma questioned, picking up a miniature wooden boat from the counter. Regina took it from her.

“Stop touching things, Miss Swan. And I didn’t tell you because my name has always legally been Mills so it is my last name.”

Thankfully before Emma could take the topic any further, Mr Booth returned with a young boy in toe. Emma had informed her that August was small for his age but he looked more like Henry’s age, yet the boy was ten and Regina now understood her co-counsel’s desire to have him testify out of court. Mal was going to rip him to shreds.

However, to her surprise, August approached them both confidently, giving Emma a high five.

“Hey, Emma,” he said, having a similar accent to his father.

“Hey, Kid,” Emma greeted him before pointing to Regina. “This is Miss Mills, She’s not as scary as she looks.”

Regina ignored that comment and smiled down at the boy.

“Nice to meet you, August.”

“Nice to meet you too,” he replied. “You’re a lawyer like Emma?”

“Yes, I am,” Regina nodded. “You’re very brave to go on the stand for us.”

“Not really,” he shrugged. “I’m only going to be telling the truth so there’s nothing to be afraid of.”

Regina just smiled at that. Wouldn’t it be nice if that were true.

“Emma said on the phone there was an issues with August’s testimony?” Mr Booth asked and Regina quickly looked to Emma, who nodded gravely.

“Yes, unfortunately the judge isn’t allowing us to have August testify via video feed and say he has to actually be in court.”

Mr Booth frowned and shook his head.

“I don’t like the sound of that at all.”

“No, neither do we,” Emma told him. “And although we would really benefit from your son’s testimony, we understand if you’d wish him not to.”

Mr Booth thought for a moment before shaking his head again.

“I’m sorry, I couldn’t possibly let my boy…”

“No!”

All eyes looked down to August, who was stood with his arms folded, staring defiantly at his father.

“August, if your dad doesn’t want you to…” Emma began to speak to him softly but the boy shook his head adamantly.

“No, you don’t understand! We all love the youth club, every kid round here goes. The streets are full of big kids and the parks aren’t safe. The community centre is where we all hang out, where we feel safe enough to have a good time. You may think I’m small, but I have a big voice and I’m going to use it to save our safe place.”

Regina, for one, was not only surprised but impressed by the boy’s speech. Emma looked surprised also but Mr Booth wasn’t. He just smiled proudly.

“My darling boy, you amaze me once more.”

“Does that mean I can still testify?” August asked hopefully and after a moment of thought, Mr Booth nodded.

“Yes, my boy.”

August grinned from ear to ear and ran into his father’s outstretched arms.

“Thanks, Papa!”

Regina smiled at the scene before looking to Emma, this time meeting her gaze.

 

“What if I was trying to be smooth?”

“Sorry?” Regina frowned as she walked side by side with Emma back towards her car.

“Earlier, you said I wasn’t very smooth last night but it was okay because I wasn’t trying to be. But what if I was?”

Regina was surprised but luckily all those years in court had trained her for such occurrences. She gave Emma her best poker eyes with the hint of a smirk on her lips.

“I’d say next time you shouldn’t drink two bottles of wine beforehand.”

“Next time?” Emma’s face lit up hopefully.

“Yes, Miss Swan,” Regina nodded. A bright smile appeared on Emma’s lips, before something seemed to catch her eye that made her laugh.

“Never took you for a shoplifter, Regina.”

Regina frowned before looking down and realising she was still holding the miniature boat she’d taken from Emma.

“Great,” she sighed. “Wait here, I’ll go return it.”

“No, I’m gonna walk,” Emma told her. “I’ll go talk to Mary-Margaret and David about the case since we didn’t have chance last night. Why don’t you head back to your office and do the paperwork. You’re probably much better at it than me.”

“Okay,” Regina nodded. “I’ll call you later.”

“Oh I sure hope so,” Emma winked, walking up to Regina’s car and patting the roof. “Look after, Joanie.”

Regina rolled her eyes and watched the blonde walk away. Once Emma had blended into the sea of people walking on the street, she headed back into the shop.

Mr Booth was stood behind the counter with August nowhere to be seen. When he saw Regina, he smiled.

“Did you forget anything, Miss Mills?”

“Yes,” Regina replied with a guilty smile, holding up the boat. “I accidentally took this.”

“Accidentally?” Mr Booth laughed, causing Regina to do the same.

“Would you believe me if I told you I confiscated it off Miss Swan?”

Mr Booth laughed once more but nodded.

“Emma has done the same thing herself. And like I always say to her, you are welcome to keep it.”

“Oh no,” Regina shook her head. “I couldn’t possibly.”

“No, I insist. As long as you promise me two things?”

Regina looked down at the little boat before putting it in her pocket.

“What two things?”

“That you look after my boy in that court room. I want him to be in good hands.”

“Of course,” Regina nodded. “That’s a given.”

“Good,” Mr Booth nodded. “I’d also like you to promise me is to do with Emma. She works hard and deserves to be happy.”

“Yes, she does,” Regina agreed, making the old man smile.

“I’d like you to promise me you’ll make her happy. It is none of my business but I’m not blind. Just promise me that if you get the chance, make her the happiest person in the world.”

Regina smiled fondly and nodded.

“I’ll try my very best.”

 

Chapter Text

Since waking up that morning, Regina had felt like she was walking on air. She’d sung in the shower, practically skipped across the street to the coffee shop, left a very generous tip, and walked to work with a smile on her face, admiring the beautiful morning.

When she made it up to her office, she was happy to find Emma already there waiting for her, sprawled out on the couch.

“Making yourself comfortable, Miss Swan?”

“Of course,” Emma replied, sitting up and smiling at her tiredly. “Good morning.”

Regina sighed contently, smiling blissfully as she settled herself in her office chair.

“Good morning.”

“Woah, someone’s happy.”

“Yes, I am,” Regina nodded. “This is one of the most beautiful mornings I’ve seen in a long time.”

“What, did you get laid or something?” Emma laughed before her smile dropped. “Wait, did you get laid?”

“No, I didn’t,” Regina replied, noting the blonde’s visible relief.

“So, what is it?” Emma continued to press. “I am officially intrigued.”

Fortuitously, Ruby came barging in.

“There’s some lady waiting for you guys in conference room 2.”

Regina rolled her eyes. Of course that day was never going to be perfect with humankind’s apt for general stupidity.

“What do you mean ‘some woman’, Ruby?”

The tall brunette shrugged.

“She said she was here to speak to you two.”

“Thank you, Ruby,” Regina sighed, shaking her head in disbelief.

“I’m surprised she isn’t scared of you,” Emma said once Ruby closed the door behind her.

“Of course not, she’s one of the brat pack.”

“What’s that?” Emma asked in amusement.

“The brat pack- the children of Gold & Co,” Regina explained. “There was three of us, myself, Ruby, and Mary-Margaret. Ruby is the granddaughter of one of the old secretaries, we all called her Granny. She retired a few years back to fulfil her dream of opening a diner in her home town up in Maine. Ruby took over her job, like I will eventually take over my mothers. She’s much better at her job than she appeared just then, professional when she’s not dealing with me and even then she won’t act that way in front of clients.”

“But why the brat pack?” Emma questioned, making Regina chuckle.

“Because we were just that, Miss Swan. Complete brats. Mary-Margaret was the spoilt one, Ruby was the unruly one, and I was the bad tempered one. In some ways, that hasn’t changed much. Back then we were a formidable force, always causing mischief and driving everyone mad. We did have some fun times, though. When Mary-Margaret wasn’t being unbearable.”

“So you two were friends way back then?”

Regina scrunched up her nose before shrugging.

“In a way. We didn’t really have much choice to be friends. We grew up together, that kind of thing bonds people in a way. It must do as it seems every time I think I’ve shaken her, she comes back twice as clingy.”

At that, Emma shook her head.

“She’s not that bad.”

“Oh she is,” Regina insisted. “Come on, let’s go see who’s here to meet with us.”

 

When they walked into Conference Room 2, they were greeted with a young woman who, to Regina’s annoyance, walk straight up to Emma and gave her hug.

“It’s so good to see you, Emma,” the woman smiled as the pair embraced. Regina eyed the woman up and down. She was very beautiful and of middle eastern decent with a smooth accented voice that would drive anyone crazy. Emma, however, awkwardly patted her on the back and pulled out of the embrace.

“Good to see you too, Jasmine. We weren’t expecting you till this afternoon.”

“My home visit appointment was cancelled. The whole family has the flu, poor things.”

That’s when the penny dropped and Regina understood. This was the social worker Emma had told her about.

“Miss Shirin,” Regina smiled politely, holding out her hand to her, “My name is Regina Mills, Em-Miss Swan’s co-counsel.”

Mr Shirin smiled back and shook her hand eagerly.

“Call me Jasmin, please. Mary-Margaret has mentioned you many times.”

“Jasmine is a friend of ours,” Emma quickly explained. “She did the welfare check on Mary-Margaret and David when they took over the community centre.”

“You’re allowed to do welfare checks on people you know?” Regina frowned, to which Jasmine laughed and shook her head.

“No, that’s how we met.”

“Yeah, turns out Jasmine here had been dating a friend of ours and he’d not told us,” Emma laughed. “We gave him such a hard time when poor Jasmine here let it slip.”

“And now we’re all good friends,” Jasmine smiled. “Yet that in no way affected my evaluation of Mary-Margaret and David’s suitability to look after children and minors that attend the youth club or any other event at the community centre. I am happy to testify to that in court.”

“See, now we have someone official on our side,” Emma said confidently. “Now we have an edge.”

Regina nodded, her brain working at light-speed.

“As long as we establish you became friends after then this could very much work in our favour. Why don’t we save her till last?”

“No, we leave David till last,” Emma insisted. “He’s not nicknamed Charming for nothing. We need a good innocent face to end our defence on.”

Regina had her doubts but agreed.

“Okay, we call her up first. That way we are building with solid foundations.”

“Exactly,” Emma smiled at her before looking to Jasmine. “I told you she’s good.”

Regina looked down, trying to hide her smile with her hair.

 

It was late and the sun had gone down, the city instead illuminated by a sea of tiny lights. The offices at Gold & Co. took up the twenty sixth and twenty seventh floors of the building, giving Regina a superb view from her office window.

She and Emma were sat on the floor surrounded by papers and an outrageous amount of take-out food that the blonde had insisted on ordering. Regina had kicked of her heels about an hour ago while Emma had discarded her jacket on the couch.

Yet it was only as she reached across to get the copy of the prosecutions witness list that she noticed the mark on Emma’s wrist.

“Is that a tattoo?”

Emma followed her gaze down to her wrist and nodded.

“Yeah, some kid at one of my foster home looted a tattoo parlour and he let me borrow all the stuff for $20. Another stupid decision I’ll always regret.”

“You did that yourself?” Regina frowned, leaning over to take a look. “You did very well, it looks professional.”

“Looks more like a close encounter with hepatitis and infection,” Emma responded, looking down at the tattoo in disgust. “I’d get it removed if I didn’t have a kid I’m gonna someday have to put through college.”

“It’s not so bad,” Regina assured her. “It’s actually one of the more tasteful tattoos I have seen.”

That at least made Emma laugh.

“I never thought I’d hear you, Regina Mills, label a tattoo as ‘tasteful’.”

At that, Regina shrugged.

“I still have some surprises left in me.”

“Oh, I’m sure,” Emma teased. “Speaking of surprises, what have the devious duo put on their witness list?”

Regina held up the list and read it out to Emma.

“They only have three- Robin Locksley, Killian Jones…”

“Ugh, creep,” Emma visibly cringed.

“…and Wendy darling,” Regina frowned. “That’s a short list.”

“Wow, maybe they really don’t have anything to work with.”

“Or they don’t feel as though they need that much to win,” Regina sighed. “I wouldn’t put anything past Mal and that Camilla woman.”

“Yeah, we’re still gonna have to go in ready for war,” Emma nodded before checking the time on her phone. “I’m going to step out and call to say goodnight to Henry. Mary-Margaret normally puts him down around now.”

“You know, you shouldn’t be using our clients as a babysitting service,” Regina told her, watching the other woman stumble to her feet and hop on one leg.

“My leg is asleep,” Emma whined. “And they love it, say its good practise for when they have kids.”

“Mini Mary-Margarets,” Regina grimaced. “That’s a thing of nightmares.”

Emma laughed before hopping out of the office with phone in hand. Regina shook her head and looked down at the witness list again, trying to work out Mal’s game. She was so engrossed in her theorising that she didn’t notice her mother appear in the doorway.

“Regina Mills, what on earth are you doing on the floor?!”

Regina jumped, almost knocking over a carton of noodles.

“Mother, you startled me. I swear one day I’ll have to put a bell on you.”

“You didn’t answer my question, Regina,” the older woman pressed.

She looked tired, Regina noted, more than usual. Her face was much thinner and her cheeks less rosy. Her mother had always worked hard, that is where she got her relentless work ethic from. It had never seemed to affect her mother, all the late hours and stress of it all. Often she forgot that her mother was getting older, maybe too old to be under such demand. Like hell she was going to talk to her about it though. She wasn’t prepared for that argument.

“I’m working, mother,” Regina huffed gesturing to all the papers.

“You work at a desk, Regina. This looks more like a picnic.”

“Well its how Miss Swan wanted to work so this is how we are working.”

Her mother frowned, looking at the red leather jacket discarded on the couch and crinkling her nose.

“I do hope you are not rolling over for this Swan woman.”

Air seemed to catch in Regina’s throat, sending her into a fit of coughs.

“Oh get your head out of the gutter, Regina,” her mother snapped. “I meant I hope you aren’t letting her tell you what to do. You are a Mills and you are an associate of this firm and I will not have you submitting to this Swan woman.”

It was at this moment Emma returned and Regina’s heart dropped when she saw the mischievous smile appear on the blonde’s face.

“Now that does paint interesting picture. I’ll have to save that for later.”

Regina put her head in her hands. This was not happening.

“I’m Emma Swan,” she heard Emma introduce herself naïve to the upcoming embarrassment that was about to hit in 3…2…1…

“Nice to meet you, Miss Swan. I’m Cora Mills, Regina’s mother.”

After a few moments, Regina dared to look up. Emma looked like a deer in headlights while her mother stared her down with narrow eyes.

“I-I’m so sorry, Mrs Mills,” Emma began to babble. “Sometimes I make stupid jokes that aren’t funny and I don’t know why I do they just blurt out. Never in court though, well not yet anyway. But I assure you your daughter and I have done nothing like that, again not yet anyway…or never if that is preferable for you. We are strictly professional, unless you count the ice cream with my son, the boat watching, the movie we went to see, and the dinner were I awkwardly kissed her nose at the end. Which you didn’t need to know about but anyway, we’re professional. And if we ever aren’t it’s my fault, I’m a bad influence. Bad Emma. Okay, now I’m referring to myself in third person and I’m losing my breath so I should really stop talking now…sorry again.”

Regina sighed. This really wasn’t happening.

Yet, in some kind of random, outrageous plot twist, her mother…smiled?

She’d seen her mother smile on many occasion, not as much since Zelena went to prison and her father died, but this was no ordinary smile. This smile was odd, the product of a combination of emotions that Regina couldn’t seem to put her finger on.

“Enjoy your evening, ladies,” she said, nodding to both of them before walking away. While Regina watched her go in disbelief, a big grin appeared on Emma’s face.

“I think she likes me.”

Regina groaned and put her head back in her hands.

She knew something was going to make this day as bittersweet as the last. There was nothing that could not be tainted by the sheer embarrassment the last few minutes had created, not even a night filled with romantic dreams of Emma Swan.

Chapter Text

Regina was checking her watch for the eighth time when Emma finally came into view.

“What time do you call this?” she demanded, pointing to her watch.

“I know, I know,” Emma said guiltily. “I’m sorry, I got stuck in traffic.”

“You know we are due in court in five minutes. Everyone is in there waiting!”

“Okay, Regina, I get it,” Emma huffed. “Tomorrow I’ll set off earlier.”

“Yes you shall,” Regina nodded before she allowed her face to soften. “How was Henry this morning?”

“He was great,” Emma smiled. “He wasn’t too interested in seeing me, just wanted to go over to Ashley’s. He loves hanging out with her kids.”

“At least someone will be having fun,” Regina sighed before looking at her watch once again. “We should really be heading in there.”

Emma nodded in agreement, rubbing her hands together.

“Yeah before the wicked witches start dropping houses.”

“The wicked witches didn’t drop the house,” Regina frowned. “It was an accident.”

“That’s what Glinda wanted everyone to think. I’ve seen the conspiracy videos and I’m telling you, she’s the shadiest of them all.”

Regina rolled her eyes but didn’t argue with her. They headed into the courtroom and moved to sit either side of Mary-Margaret and David, the former already crying.

“Oh Emma, Regina,” she said dramatically. “I can’t do this.”

Regina rolled her eyes and looked down at her notes, not in the mood for this nonsense. Emma, however, was more sympathetic.

“Hey, don’t worry. You’re in good hands here.”

Regina leaned back in her chair to get a look at the prosecution. She instantly met Mal’s gaze, Camilla talking to a couple sat behind them who appeared to be Mr and Mrs Darling. Mal smiled at her and Regina returned a glare.

“All rise.”

They all got to their feet as Judge George entered. Once seated in the bench, he surveyed the room before telling everyone to sit and calling for the jury. When they were all settled, Judge George addressed the court.

“Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Calling the case of Darling vs. Blanchard and Nelson. Are both sides ready?”

“Yes, your honour,” Mal answered.

“Yes, your honour,” Emma followed.

Judge George nodded before looking to the clerk.

“Will the clerk please swear in the Jury?”

While the clerk swore in the jury, Regina looked back over to Mal and once again met her gaze. They held eye contact for a few moments before Emma not-so-subtly leaned back in her chair and blocked her view.

Once the clerk had finished, it was time for opening statements. Mal got to her feet and took to the floor, fully addressing the jury.

“Your Honour and ladies and gentleman of the jury: the Darling family have filled a suit against Miss Blanchard and Mr Nolan in regard to an assault on their son made by another child at a youth club run by the two defendants on March 2nd. Not only do we wish to prove to you that both defendants were aware of and issue between both boys, but that they were incapable of ensuring the safety of John Darling, a vulnerable minor under their care. The evidence we present will prove that both defendants are guilty and liable.”

Mal confidently returned to her seat and Emma took her place. Regina had been second chair many times, both seen and done more than she could keep count. Yet this time, as she watched Emma stand before the jury, she felt an unfamiliar nervousness.

“Your Honour, ladies and gentleman of the jury,” Emma began. “Under Article 11 of the UN’s Universal declaration of Human Rights, everyone should be presumed innocent until proven guilty. Yet today, we will prove that this is not even needed as it will be made abundantly clear to you that, not only both Miss Blanchard and Mr Nolan are totally innocent of these charges, but are outstanding citizens and incredibly caring people.”

Regina let out a deep breath, watching as Emma returned to her seat. Judge George cleared his throat.

“The defence may call their first witness.”

Emma stood up once more.

“The defence calls Jasmine Shirin, Your Honour.”

The bailiff escorted Jasmine to the witness box and the clerk swore her in. She looked nervous, Regina noted. That worried her.

Once the clerk had finished, Emma began her questioning.

“Miss Shirin, what is your occupation?”

“I’m a social worker,” Jasmine explained. “Most of the time I work with families and assess whether a home environment is suitable for a child, looking at a number of factors spanning from the unsuitability of a guardian based on their lack of capabilities to cases of neglect and abuse. Sometimes I am asked to assess places such as community centres that wish to put on groups and events which would involve them being responsible for minors. My job then is to assess whether it is safe and suitable which includes looking into the place itself and those who run it.”

“And how many years have you been in this line of work?”

“Nearly fifteen years.”

“And you assessed the community centre Mary-Margaret and David run?”

“Yes, I did,” Jasmine nodded.

“And what was your overall assessment?”

“It ticked all the boxes. The building itself is a safe and welcoming environment and both Miss Blanchard and Mr Nolan are not only suitable to look after children but ideal for the job. In my honest working opinion, they are the perfect people to be running such a place.”

Regina watched Emma closely. She was impressed by how professionally the blonde was presenting herself.

“And what is your relationship now with Miss Blanchard and Mr Nolan?” Emma asked.

“We’re good friends,” Jasmine replied with a smile. “I’d never met them before but as it turned out David, Mr Nolan, was friends with my boyfriend. I didn’t become close to them until after I did my assessment, though. I take my job very seriously.

Emma smiled and nodded.

“No more questions, Your Honour,” she said, moving back to her chair.

“Does the prosecution have any questions?” Judge George asked and as expected, Mal got to her feet.

“Yes, Your Honour,” she replied, taking the floor.

“Miss Shirin, you say you did not become ‘close’ with Miss Blanchard and Mr Nolan until after you had made your assessment, is that correct?”

“Yes, it is,” Jasmine replied confidently.

Mal nodded and pulls a small remote from her blazer pocket. she pressed a button and the TV screen set up close to the jury turned on to reveal a photograph. The photograph was of David, Mary-Margaret, Jasmine, and another man all stood with their arms round each other with big smiles. As soon as Regina saw the date stamped at the bottom, she knew this wasn’t going to go well.

“Miss Shirin, is that you with Miss Blanchard and Mr Nolan in that photograph?”

“Yes it is,” Jasmine nodded.

“And will you read out the date in the bottom right hand corner.”

Emma was quick to her feet.

“Objection, relevance?”

“Over-ruled,” Judge George responded. “Please do so, Miss Shirin.”

Jasmine leaned over and read out the date.

“April 10th 2012”

Mal nodded and walked back to the prosecution table. Camilla handed her three pieces of paper, which Regina eyed suspiciously.

“I’d like to submit into evidence the first page of Miss Shirin’s report on Miss Blanchard and Mr Nolan,” Mal said, handing both Emma and the judge a copy before moving over and giving the last to Jasmine. Regina looked over at Emma as she scanned the page. When the blonde silently cursed, she knew they’d lost.

“Can you read out the date of submission for the court, Miss Shirin?”

Jasmine nodded and looked at the date, noticeably hesitating. Emma took this chance to but in.

“Objection, relevance?”

“Over-ruled, Miss Swan,” Judge George said one more. “Please do so, Miss Shirin.”

Jasmine sighed and did as she was asked.

“April 11th 2012.”

The looks on the jury’s faces said it all. Regina sighed and ran a hand threw her hair.

“No further questions, your honour.”

As Mal walked back to her seat, she looked at Regina and winked.

Judge George checked his watch and frowned.

“This court will recess for lunch and will continue in two hours’ time.”

“Lunch?” Emma frowned once the Judge had left. “It’s not even eleven?”

“This will happen a lot,” Regina told her. “He has a bad back and hates sitting in the chair. Plus he’s always meeting people for lunch. He’s one of the old boys club so he gets away with it.”

Emma shook her head before looking to Mary-Margaret and David.

“Are you guys okay?”

“A little shaken up, that’s all,” David replied, Mary-Margaret holding on tightly to his arm. “We thought that one would be a shoe-in.”

“Yeah so did I,” Emma sighed, looking once more to Regina. “Did you have any idea about that?”

“None at all but Mal has always been anything but predictable.”

Emma nodded in understanding while Mary-Margaret frowned.

“You know her?”

“Okay, let’s get some sandwiches,” Emma quickly jumped in. “There’s a deli down the street, let’s go.”

 

Regina sat on one of the benches outside the courthouse, look across to where Mary-Margaret was sat. She had started trying as soon as they left the courthouse and Emma had suggested she go set the sandwiches while David tried to calm her down. She stayed close by, just in case anyone came over to harass them. So far no one had even looked at them twice yet for whatever reason she couldn’t stop watching them.

The way David held Mary-Margaret close as she rested her head on his shoulder. How he cupped her cheek and wiped away the tears with his thumb. Regina reached up and touched her own cheek, remembering how Emma had done the same that day by the water. She smiled at the memory, feeling that warm fuzzy feeling that had begun to flare up whenever she thought of that annoying, ridiculous blonde.

As if sensing her presence in her thoughts, Emma appeared, quickly handing Mary-Margaret and David their sandwiches before walking over to join Regina.

“I got your chicken,” Emma said with a smile, handing over the neatly wrapped sandwich. “Actually looks pretty good.”

“Thank you, Miss Swan,” Regina replied gratefully. “Will you at least let me pay for myself if not David and Mary-Margaret’s? I feel awful.”

“No way, you cooked us a fool dinner and let my kid swim in your pool. A sandwich is the least I can do.”

Regina decided not to argue, planning to make up for this on a later date. She unwrapped her sandwich and was happy to see Emma was right. It looked delicious. Then Emma unwrapped hers and the mouth-watering smell of melted cheese greeted her. Taking a sneaky peak, she saw the mother of all grilled cheeses resting in its wrappings on Emma’s lap.

Emma must have noticed her looking and laughed.

“Wanna go halfsies?”

Regina was about to decline but the grilled cheese looked too damn good and Emma was also eyeing up her sandwich so decided to go for it. She took a half of the grilled cheese while Emma took half the chicken.

“Okay, taste test,” Emma announced. “Five, four, three, two, one…”

Emma bit into her chicken half while Regina took a bite out of her piece of grilled cheese. One bite was all it took and Regina was in heaven.

“Oh my, that’s amazing!”

“This is pretty rad too,” Emma nodded before looking to Regina and laughing, pointing to the corner of her mouth. “You’ve got yourself something there.”

“Oh,” Regina blushed and reached for her handbag to retrieve a tissue. But Emma stopped her with a light hand on her arm.

“Let me get it.”

Regina could only watch as Emma leaned over and wiped the side of her mouth with her thumb. Emma’s touch was so soft it gave her goose bumps.

“There you go,” Emma smiled, leaning back. “Got it.”

Regina stared at the blonde as she stuck the thumb in her mouth and suck away the grilled cheese remnants as though it were a normal occurrence. Maybe it was to her, being a mother and all, but Regina was totally shook and could not control the blush that formed on her cheeks.

“Sorry, I’m not used to eating greasy foods, especially with my hands.”

“Well we’ll have to change that,” Emma said with her mouthful. She swallowed her food a little too forcefully for Regina’s liking before wiping her mouth on her sleeve. “Come over for dinner tonight and I’ll make you my famous burgers.”

“I couldn’t possibly, Miss Swan,” Regina replied out of politeness, silently hoping the blonde wouldn’t take no for an answer. Luckily, she didn’t.

“I insist that you do. We can even discuss work so it won’t be completely social. Either way, though, you need to see Henry asap. He’s obsessed with your book.”

“He is?” Regina said in surprise and Emma nodded.

“Yeah, he loves it. I really like it too and I’m kind of bummed he had Mary-Margaret finish it with him last night. But I’m sure there will be an encore staring tonight. The Evil Queen better get with The Saviour otherwise I’m going to flip a table. I ship them so hard!”

“Ship?” Regina frowned, causing Emma to dramatically roll her eyes.

“Muggles. So you coming over or what?”

Regina tried to keep her cool but couldn’t stop the smile appearing on her face.

“Well I can’t disappoint my fans now can I?”

“You certainly cannot,” Emma replied, shuffling over closer and playfully bumping her shoulder.

Regina quickly checked her watch. They still had a while yet until they had to head back inside, giving her enough time to return to her professional self after yet another relapse of teenage lovesickness. Something that, as of later, had become a common occurrence. 

Chapter Text

The bailiff had to bring through two thick pillows so that August could be seen in the witness box. While his father sat nervously in the public seats, August sat up confidently and seemed to even impress the clerk during his swearing in.

Once the clerk was done, Emma stepped forward.

“Mr Booth,” she said professionally. “How old are you?”

Even Regina was amazed the blonde should keep a straight face; August looked so adorable in his suit and tie.

“I’m ten years old,” August replied confidently. “I know I look smaller. I’ve been to doctors and they said I’m healthy, just waiting for that big growth spurt.”

Regina noticed the members of the jury smile and even Judge George’s face lightened slightly.

“And you attend the youth club run by Miss Blanchard and Mr Nolan?”

“Yes, I do,” August nodded. “It’s really fun. Mary-Margaret does crafts with us and David will play basketball with us. He lifts me up when I go to shoot a hoop so I can reach the basket.”

There was a chorus of quiet awws. Regina looked over to Mal and Camilla. Both of them had faces of stone.

“Can you tell me where you were when Nicholas Hansel assaulted John Darling?”

“Well I’d been painting a bird house at the crafts table when I got some paint on my trousers. Mary-Margaret suggested I go try wash it off so I was on my way when out of nowhere Nicholas ran in and went straight for John. David was on the other side of the room and he ran over like Captain America and tried to break them up. Nicholas fought him though, punched David right in the face. He was crazy.”

“Did David hesitate at all?”

“No, he ran straight over.”

“And what happened after the fight?” Emma asked.

“David took Nicholas away while Mary-Margaret went to help John. After the ambulance came to take him away, she went and calmed the rest of us. We were all pretty shaken up about it.”

“So in your opinion Miss Blanchard and Mr Nolan did their best job in dealing with the fight?”

“Objection, Your Honour” Mal jumped to her feet. “Your Honour, I’m not sure a child’s opinion is either relevant or reliable.”

For a mere moment, Regina was worried. Yet when she saw Judge George look at Mal with disdain, she tried her hardest not to smirk.

“Over-ruled, Miss Ficent.”

Mal sat back down and without being prompted, August answered the question.

“Considering how bad the fight way, yes I believe so.”

Emma nodded and smiled at the boy.

“No further questions, your honour.”

Mal got to her feet and approached the witness.

“Mr Booth, may I call you August?”

Mal’s tone was patronising in Regina’s opinion and it seemed that August felt the same.

“If you like,” he shrugged.

“Okay August, have Miss Blanchard and Mr Nolan ever lost their temper with any of the children at the youth club?”

“No, never.”

“You seem certain of that. Are you absolutely sure?”

“Objection!” Emma jumped up. “Badgering the witness!”

“Sustained,” Judge George nodded.

“Alright then,” Mal sighed. “Have you ever seen Miss Blanchard or Mr Nolan be at all bias to any of the children? More specifically anyone involved in the assault?”

“No,” August answered simply. Mal tilted her head slightly to one side.

“Do you know what bias means, August? It means…”

“I know what it means,” August interrupted. “From the French word biais, it means to be inclined or prejudicial for or against a person or group, usually used in the sense of being unfair. I may be small but what I lack in height I make up for in my IQ. I’ve skipped two grades and have won three under 16 debating competitions. So yes, I do know what it means and in my opinion, Mary-Margaret and David are the definition of fair.”

Mal looked to Judge George, likely wanting him to discipline the defiant ten year old. Regina could have laughed when he just looked at her expectantly. With a sigh, Mal carried on.

“But you said that David would lift you up to reach he basket in basketball? Wouldn’t that be considered bias?”

“No really,” August frowned. “There is a difference between equality and justice. Him lifting me up was only making the game fairer.”

Finally, Mal gave up.

“No further questions, Your Honour.”

Judge George nodded.

“Defence, call your next witness.”

Emma was about to speak when Camilla stood up.

“Your honour, we would like to request a recess.”

“Your honour, we’ve only had two witnesses,” Emma argued. “With the weekend coming up, the prosecution are purposely delaying the trial.”

Judge George ignored her, checking his watch. Regina knew his answer as soon as the request was given.

“Court will resume at 9am tomorrow.”

Emma’s face was like thunder.

“I can’t believe them.”

“Don’t worry,” Regina told her. “They are going to lick their wounds. We won this round.”

“No, August won this round,” Emma corrected. “That kid is gonna go places.”

Regina looked to Mary-Margaret and David, who seemed to be in higher spirits.

“Are you two feeling better?”

“A little,” Mary-Margaret answered. “It’s more uncomfortable than I thought it would be.”

David nodded in agreement, putting his arm around his fiancé.

“We knew it would be an emotional rollercoaster.”

“You guys head home and relax,” Emma told them. “Leave the worrying to me and Regina.”

Mary-Margaret then lunged and trapped Emma in a hug. In an attempt to stop herself from rolling her eyes, Regina looked out across the court room and instantly saw a familiar face.

“I’ll be right back,” she excused herself before walked over to meet the woman in question.

“Mother, what are you doing here?”

“I had an appointment and thought I’d drop by,” her mother answered. “Why? Can’t I see how my daughter is doing in court?”

“You never normally do,” Regina replied. “And I didn’t even do anything.”

“I went to your 3rd grade play when you played villager 6,” she reminded her. “And anyway, I wanted to see how Miss Swan faired. Also, you didn’t tell me Mallory was working for the prosecution?”

“I didn’t think it was something you had to know,” Regina answered, causing her mother to give her the look.

“I hope you aren’t being too sociable with her. I don’t like her.”

“Yes well me and you both.”

“Good,” her mother nodded. “Miss Swan seems to be more than we expected.”

She looked back to Emma, who was loitering close by. Regina couldn’t help but laugh.

“Yes, she is.”

When they met each other’s eye, Emma seemed to take that as a cue to walk over.

“Hey,” she said awkwardly.

“Emma, you have met my mother, Cora Mills.”

“Yes, last night,” the older woman reminded them. She was doing that weird smile again and it instantly made Regina uncomfortable.

“Yeah,” Emma blushed. “That could have gone better.”

“You left an impression, as you clearly have with my daughter.”

Mother.”

“I’m only being honest.”

Regina sighed and without thinking took hold of Emma’s hand.

“Okay, we need to go. I’ll see you later on, mother.”

To her annoyance, her mother’s smile only grew.

“I will see you later, Regina and hopefully I will see you again soon, Emma.”

Before Emma could answer, Regina took the opportunity and dragged her away.

By the time she realised she was holding onto the blonde’s hand, they had exited the courtroom and Emma was now walking beside her. She didn’t want to pull her hand away but also didn’t want to force Emma to hold hands with her. So, with extreme care, she lessened her grip on her hand, allowing the other woman the chance to let go.

To her surprise, Emma’s grip only tightened in response.

Chapter Text

Emma’s apartment building was very similar to Mary-Margaret’s, basically the same building mirrored on the opposite side if the street.

Having gone home to freshen up, Regina took a cab downtown and made her way through the building to the address Emma had text her. All the way she had found her imagining what Emma and Henry’s apartment would be like. Would it be cluttered and manic or contradict everything she knew about Emma and be neat and tidy? Either way, it was likely a world apart from where she lived.

Once she found the apartment, she knocked on the door and instantly heard a familiar voice echo through.

“REGINA’S HERE!”

Regina smiled as small feet rabidly came closer to the door, followed by a pair of heavier ones.

“Kid, back up so I can let her in.”

The door opened and Henry shot out, latching on to her legs.

“Regina!”

“Hello Henry,” Regina smiled, hugging him back. Due to the high difference it was kind of awkward but she made it work. She looked up to Emma, who was stood in the doorway smiling.

“Hey.”

“Hello, Miss Swan,” Regina smiled back.

“Kid, let go of Regina so she can come inside.”

Henry did as he was told, releasing Regina’s legs from his death grip and instead took her hand.

“Come read with me!”

“Kid, don’t drag Regina around.”

He seemed to ignore her, dragging Regina into the living room and pushing her to sit on the couch.

“Stay there,” he told her before running off into another room.

Regina looked around the room in surprise. The room was spotless, no dust, no mess, not a children’s toy in sight. Yet the décor completely contradicted that. The walls were covered in movie posters: all three films in the original Star Wars trilogy, Thelma and Louise, The Wizard of Oz. Then there was two canvas prints, one of Bette Davis and the other of (surprise, surprise) Joan Crawford. The more personal photographs were stood up, scattered around the room wherever there was space. Henry was in every single one: Henry as a new-born, Henry as a toddler, Henry on what seemed to be his first day of pre-school, Henry with Emma, Henry with Mary-Margaret and David.

Emma must have noticed her looking as she picked up one of the photographs of baby Henry and brought it over.

“Here he’s three weeks old,” she told her, handing the frame to Regina as she sat down next to her. “He was so cute, I couldn’t stop looking at him.”

Regina agreed. It was one of the cutest things she’d ever seen. He’s eyes were big and unfocused, so tiny and so delicate but also just so Henry. She couldn’t help but smile.

“He’s still cute.”

“I guess,” Emma crinkled her nose. “But then he didn’t answer back so…”

“Oh shhh,” Regina laughed. “He’s the sweetest thing.”

“Oh yeah?” Emma challenged. “Say that to me again later. Hey Kid, Regina’s waiting!”

Henry came running back through clutching the Once Upon a Time book. He halted in front of Emma.

“Mommy, move!”

Emma sighed and got to her feet, Henry quickly taking her seat next to Regina.

“I’m going to start dinner,” Emma told them. “Give me a shout if you need anything.”

“Do you need any help?” Regina asked and Emma shook her head.

“No, you keep the kid entertained.”

Regina watched as the blonde walked into the kitchen area and opened the refrigerator. She got out the raw burger meat and some side ingredients, putting them on the kitchen side as she retrieved some trays and pans from one of the cupboards.

“Regina!”

“Sorry Henry,” she said, looking back to him. “What did you say?”

“I said we should start from the beginning,” he told her, opening up the book. “Right from where The Queen crashes the wedding.”

Regina nodded and leaned over so she could see the page. Clearing her throat, she began to read out loud to Henry, who snuggled up into her side.

 

She’d continued to read to Henry until Emma called over saying their food was ready. Henry approached the table with the book in hand.

“Kid, no book at the table.”

Please,” he whined but Emma shook her head.

“Nope, I’m sick of seeing it. No offense, Regina.”

“None taken,” Regina assured her before looking to Henry. “Why don’t you go put it back in your room and we’ll pick it up again later.”

With a pout, Henry nodded and did as he was told. Emma watched him go, shaking her head.

“He’s obsessed. Sure your book is great but it’s literally all he’ll talk about it.”

“I’m sorry,” Regina replied guiltily. “I shouldn’t encourage him.”

“Don’t be silly,” Emma laughed. “In honesty, this couldn’t have come at a better time.”

Regina nodded and was about to reply when Henry came running back through.

“Burger time!”

They all sat at the table, Emma and Regina facing each other while Henry sat at the head of the table. The two women had identical meals: large cheeseburger with fries, salad, and coleslaw. Henry’s was smaller in quantity and had less fries and more salad. Yet he didn’t at all complain, instead picked up his burger with a big smile on his face.

“These at the best burgers ever,” he said before taking a large bite. Emma laughed and looked to Regina, who had started off with her salad.

“He’s a bias critic.”

“I’m sure he’s your harshest critic,” Regina corrected her but Emma shook her head adamantly.

“Nope, that’s you.”

“Me?”

“Yep,” Emma nodded. “You live in the world of sophistication. You’ve eaten the finest gourmet food out there. Likely any burger you’ve had was made from a cow breed on the foothills of the Himalayas, served with lettuce imported from rural England and the finest tomatoes from a 200 year old family farm in Spain. Then smothered in burger sauce developed from a French recipe and all packed up in bread baked in the best bakery in Munich. So I have big competition.”

Regina rolled her eyes.

“I’ve eaten at McDonalds, you know.”

“Oh really?” Emma questioned. “When was the last time?”

“I don’t know, four or five years ago,” Regina replied but when Emma looked at her in amusement, she huffed. “Look, there is an affordable deli across the street from my office and I like to cook myself. That doesn’t mean I don’t eat burgers and such because I’m, what you call, a ‘snob’.”

“Whatever you say,” Emma laughed. “Now eat the burger. The suspense is painful.”

Regina rolled her eyes and directed her knife and folk towards the burger, only for Emma to reach over and pull the plat away from her.

Emma,” she sighed, looking up at the blonde who looked at her in disgust.

“Rule one, Regina. Don’t cut up my burgers! It’s hand food.”

Regina rolled her eyes yet again, ready to argue but the look on Emma’s face was deadly serious.

“Fine,” she said in defeat. “I’ll eat it with my hands.”

Emma smiled victoriously and pushed back the plate. Regina awkwardly picked up the burger and took a bite.

“So?”

Regina continued to chew with exaggerated expressions of concentration that made Henry giggle. When she’d milked that enough, she moved onto her next move.

“It’s okay, I guess.”

“Okay?” Emma’s eyebrows raised so quickly Regina thought they were going to fly right off her forehead. “These burgers have been praised by every single person I have made them for. Take another bite and judge again.”

Regina laughed and shook her head, deciding to put the blonde out of her misery.

“You did a fine job, Miss Swan. Well done.”

A bright smile appeared on Emma’s face and she held up both her fists in a way not dissimilar to Rocky Balboa.

“I’m officially burger champion of the world!”

Shaking her head, Regina picked up her burger again and took another bite. She had to admit, Emma’s burgers were good. Hers would be better though if she ever attempted it.

While all this was going on, Henry was giggling.

“What’s got you giggling, Kid?” Emma asked before popping a fry in her mouth.

“You and Regina are like in the book, Mommy,” Henry said, highly amused. Regina frowned and quickly swallowed the bite she was chewing.

“What do you mean, Henry?”

“The Queen and The Saviour,” Henry answered. “They fight but they don’t really fight it’s just playing because they love each other. That’s like you and Mommy.”

Regina looked at Emma and Emma looked at Regina.

There was a slight tingling on Regina’s tongue, as though she had the urge to say something but she wasn’t sure what. From the look of things, Emma was the same, biting her lip so hard a part of it went white.

For a change, it was Regina who broke the moment, looking down at her plate. Emma followed in suit, clearing her throat.

“Kid, I told you no spoilers.”

In a way, Regina was glad the moment had passed. Then there was a part of her that desperately wanted it back.

Chapter Text

After they had finished dinner, Regina had insisted on doing the washing up, despite much protest from her hostess. In the end, Emma gave up and went to get Henry into some pyjamas. By the time, she’d finished, Henry was running around in a Chewbacca onesie with Emma chasing after him.

“Kid, pack it in.”

Henry replied with Wookie noise.

“Henry stop it!”

Regina tried not to laugh made another Wookie noise. Shaking her head, she moved into the living area, where Emma stood with her hands on her hips as Henry stood defiantly on the couch.

“What’s wrong with the little Wookie?”

“All I said was that he’d have to go to bed soon and he went crazy!”

“I’m not going to bed yet!” Henry shouted. “Regina is still here!”

“Kid, I said soon like in an hour. It’s not even your bedtime yet.”

It was then Henry started crying.

“Regina’s my best friend, not yours.”

Emma sighed and looked to Regina apologetically.

“He gets cranky around bedtime.”

Regina nodded in understanding before moving to crouch down in front of the sad Wookie.

“Henry, we can all have more than one best friend. Like David is your best friend too, right?”

“I guess,” Henry replied, shrugging his little shoulders.

“So I can be your best friend and your mom’s best friend,” Regina told him before leaning over to whisper in his ear. “But you are my best friend. Don’t tell your mom.”

A bright smile appeared on his face for a moment before being replaced by a big yawn.

“You tired, Kid?” Emma asked, clearly already knowing the answer.

“Yes, Mommy,” he replied, rubbing his eyes. “I think I will go to bed now.”

Emma laughed and picked him up.

“Come on then, Kid,” she said, bringing him up to Regina who had gotten back on her feet. “Say goodnight to Regina.”

Henry looked up at her, his head resting on his mother’s shoulder.

“Night, Regina.”

“Goodnight, Henry,” she smiled, lightly kissing his cheek. “Sweet dreams.”

“I’ll put him down, I’ll be back in a moment,” Emma told her before carrying her son through to his bedroom. Regina sat down on the couch and checked her phone. She had three missed calls from her mother.

Rolling her eyes, she decided to call her back. Her mother answered after three rings.

“Regina Mills, where are you?” he mother demanded. “I’ve been worried sick! I checked your office, your apartment, called everyone and everywhere. You’d better have a good explanation for this.”

“I’m sorry, Mother. I’ve had dinner at Emma’s apartment and I turned my phone off as not to be rude.”

“Oh Emma,” her mother seemed to perk up at that.

“Yes, Emma,” Regina huffed. “Why do you say her name like that?”

“No reason,” her mother replied. “I may have called Mary-Margaret earlier. I didn’t know your Emma had a son?”

“She’s not my Emma,” Regina sighed, although the idea was quite appealing. “And why have you been calling Mary-Margaret?”

“I wanted to know what kind of woman had my daughter so smitten. So have you met this son of hers?”

“Yes I have. He’s sweet and adorable.”

“Very good,” her mother replied, sounding way too pleased. “If you and Emma ever need a babysitter, I’d happily volunteer.”

“Thank you, Mother but Emma has child care sorted.”

“Well the offer is there. Now go spend time with Emma and call me when you get home. Or if you go home.”

“Mother.”

“Alright, alright. I’ll hang up now. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”

“Alright, Mother,” Regina huffed. “I’ll talk to you later.”

Hanging up the phone, Regina set an alert for when she needed to move her car. She’d parked on a metre and only had about an hour left.

Just as she was about to set it, there was a crash behind her.

“Shit.”

Regina whirled round and saw Emma in the kitchen area stood over a broken glass.

“Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine,” Emma nodded. “It just slipped out of my hand.”

Regina put her phone back in her pocket and moved over.

“Stay still, I’ll clean this up.”

“I can help,” Emma piped up but Regina adamantly shook her head.

“No, you need to stand right there so you don’t cut yourself,” she said, indicated to Emma’s feet which were only clad in a pair of rainbow fuzzy socks. The blonde didn’t argue and did as she was told, standing perfectly still while Regina cleared away the glass.

Once she’d cleaned up all the glass she could see, Regina double checked the area extensively before nodding.

“Okay, I think that’s all of it.”

“Great,” Emma relaxed. “Thank you.”

“No problem.”

Emma cautiously stepped over the area where the glass had smashed and made her way round the kitchen, opening one of the cupboards.

“Do you want a drink?”

“I’m driving,” Regina reminded her and Emma nodded.

“Oh yeah, sorry. What about some coffee then?”

“That would be great, thank you.”

Once Emma had made them both a steaming cup of coffee using a coffee machine that looked older than Henry, they both made their way over to the couch.

“So, Mr Hansel is first up tomorrow,” Emma pipped up. “I think that should go smoothly.”

“Don’t jinx it,” Regina sighed, moving forward to double-tap the coffee table. Emma just laughed.

“I didn’t take you for the superstitious type.”

“I’m not, I just don’t take any chances.”

“Yeah, yeah, whatever you say.”

Regina rolled her eyes.

“We shouldn’t ever presume a witness is going to be good for us, we shouldn’t presume anything will go our way. We just have to use everything we have to try persuade the jury Mary-Margaret and David are innocent.”

“Yeah, you’re right,” Emma nodded. “Mallory is definitely good at twisting things.”

The woman’s name made Regina grimace.

“She’s more relentless than I remember.”

“Maybe you were a good influence on her.”

“Oh please,” Regina laughed. “I was much worse. I’d do anything to win, still do to some extent. Back then though my work was everything. Now, after life has gone on, it is still important to me but not as much.”

“That’s good,” Emma smiled. “Work should never be the most important thing. Before for me it was about living life but then as soon as Henry came along, he became the centre of my universe.”

“As he should be,” Regina nodded.

“Yeah, he’s my family. Everything I do, I do for him.”

“Have you ever thought about having other kids?” Regina asked curiously. Emma shrugged in reply.

“Maybe one day. I’ve always wanted to foster but I’m not in the position to do so at the moment. But I won’t do it alone. It’s a great privilege to raise Henry but it’s hard being a single parent.”

“I can imagine,” Regina nodded once more.

“Would you ever consider having a kid through other channels?”

“Oh I more than considered it,” Regina replied. “About five years ago, I tried to adopt. Everything had been set up, the mother wanted to have an anonymous, closed adoption. I was so excited, I bought a crib, baby grows, painted the spare room, the whole works. My favourite thing to buy was the baby boots. I must have bought well over twenty pairs.”

“What happened?”

Regina sighed, trying not to cry at the painful memory.

“I got a call saying the mother had changed their mind.”

“Oh Regina.”

“It was a risk I was very much aware of,” Regina shrugged. “I’d been worried about something going wrong with the adoption but everyone from the agency to my mother said not to think about it and look forward to the baby. So I did and look what happened. The people at the agency said they had another baby available for adoption but I couldn’t do it.”

Emma put a light hand on her shoulder.

“Hey, don’t let one bad experience put you off adopting. Yes, stuff like that happens but next time you could be successful.”

“That’s the problem, Emma. Could. No one seemed to understand that I lost a child that day. A child I loved more than anything and I lost it because someone changed their mind. I know I have no right to be angry as really it was her child and you probably think I’m terribly selfish but she didn’t want the baby and I did. Then she decides she wants it and I’m the one who has to suffer. I would have been a good mother, I’d have given that baby everything.”

“I understand,” Emma said, moving her hand from Regina’s shoulder onto her back, rubbing it softly. “But she was their mother. You can’t blame her for wanting her child.”

“It doesn’t make it fair,” Regina replied and Emma nodded.

“I know. But hey, I know you’d make a great mother. Henry loves you.”

Regina smiled at the boy’s name.

“He’s wonderful.”

Emma smiled too and moved her hand once more to wrap an arm around Regina’s weight, pulling her into an embrace,

“You’re way too easy to talk to,” Regina said, to which Emma nodded.

“Funny, I could say the same about you.”

Chapter Text

Regina was six blocks away from the courthouse when her car started making a loud popping sound. She tried to ignore it but as soon smoke started coming out from under the bonnet, she was forced to pull over.

Half an hour later, she was stood with the car bonnet up, waiting for the mechanic. Getting impatient, she’d begun looking under the bonnet herself to see if she could spot the problem. So far, she had no clue. She was so adamant in finding it, however, that she didn’t notice the yellow bug pulling up alongside her.

“I didn’t know you moonlighted as a mechanic.”

Startled by the familiar voice, she hit her head on the bonnet. Clutching the back of her head, she got out from under it and shot the blonde a glare.

“Don’t sneak up on people like that!”

Emma just laughed.

“Are you okay?”

“Oh I’m just dandy, Miss Swan,” she huffed. Emma shook her head and moved her car forward. Regina though she was going to drive away but instead Emma parked in the available space in front of hers.

Getting out, she walked over and took her own look under the bonnet.

“Wow, Joanie isn’t looking too good.”

“What told you that, Miss Swan? The smoke or the fact I’m going to be later for court because I’m waiting for the goddamn mechanic.”

“Woah, someone is cranky this morning,” Emma joked but wiped the smile off her face when Regina’s glare deepened. “Okay, okay, look we have like forty minutes. I wouldn’t worry.”

“It’s going to take a while to speak to the mechanic when they finally grace us with their presense. You’re going to have to start without me. You should get going.”

“Nah, I’m good,” Emma replied. “I’ll talk to this mechanic for you. Who did you call?”

“I called Ruby and she called this guy she’s seeing.”

“Oh well he’ll get here quick then,” Emma laughed, making Regina frown.

“What?”

“You know, if someone close to the person your kind of, I don’t know, court…”

“Court?” Regina questioned in amusement. “We don’t like in a Shakespeare play.”

“Oh you get what I mean. Anyway when you’re starting off dating someone, if they ask you to do something for their friend or family member, you do your best so they then like you and big you up.”

“That makes no sense,” Regina shook her head.

“No, it does!” Emma insisted. “Say like your mom needed some burgers made for a work BBQ, I’d be down there with the best stuff, every burger would be my best. I’d be punctual and polite, a real suck up. Then she’d go to you like Oh My God, Emma is so great. You should totally stick with her. She’s a prize! After that, you’d be eating out of the palm of my hand. Trust me, it works.”

“I very much doubt that, Miss Swan,” Regina rolled her eyes. Yet it was then that a tow truck came into view.

“You were saying?” Emma said with a smug smile. Regina just rolled her eyes again.

The tow truck pulled up and a young man jumped out.

“Hey Emma,” he greeted the blonde, who returned a smile.

“Hey there Gus.”

“You two know each other?” Regina frowned.

“Yeah,” Emma nodded, “He’s who I go to whenever the Bug has had a problem, which is barely ever.”

“We also live in the same building,” the young man nodded. “I’m Gus by the way.”

“Nice to meet you,” Regina replied before cutting to the chase. “So my car has packed in.”

Gus rubbed his hands together and moved to look under the bonnet. Without much inspection, he shook his head.

“This isn’t good at all. I’m gonna have to take it to the shop.”

“Great,” Regina sighed. “How long is that going to take? I have to be in court soon.”

“Not long, I just need you to sign some paperwork and I’ll give you a call.”

Regina nodded and Gus back to the truck only to return with a pen and clip board. Before he could hand it to her, Emma snatched it away.

“Miss Swan, what are you doing?”

“I know all your details. Get what you need from the car while I’m doing this and we can be on our way.”

Regina wanted to argue but she wanted to get to court more so did as Emma suggested.

By the time she’d got her bag, files, and favourite CD out of the car, Emma was done with the form and Gus was attaching the car to the tow.

“Here’s the keys,” Regina said, reluctantly handing them over before looking to Emma. “You’d better have filled all that out right.”

“Hey, I knew everything but your phone number so I just put down mine.”

“Why didn’t you just check your phone?”

Emma looked at her guility.

“I didn’t think of that. But anyway, I know Gus and I know cars so I’m your best representative.”

“Fine,” Regina sighed. “Come on, let’s go before we are even later.”

“We’ve got more than enough time,” Emma assured her but said a quick goodbye to Gus and lead the brunette to her car either way. Once they were both in the small Bug, Emma reached into the back and went through Regina’s stuff until she got the CD.

Bowie? Good choice!”

“Give me that,” Regina huffed snatching the CD back. “Let’s go.”

Emma started the engine and put the car in drive.

“If Mallory starts with her tricks, you are so gonna be the one speaking for us.”

Regina didn’t know if that was a good thing or a bad thing but scowled none the less.

 

“When I got the call, I was shocked,” Mr Hansel told the court. “You know, you don’t expect your kid to do that, especially when it’s so out of character. For a moment I didn’t believe it but when I got down there and saw the aftermath…it was soul crushing.”

“So did you have any idea that Nicholas was capable of such an attack?” Emma asked.

“No,” Mr Hansel shook his head. “Not in my wildest nightmares.”

“Where you aware of any kind of tension? Was Nicholas at all acting out of character at home?”

“No, he was as he always is. That morning he was his regular self. I didn’t even have an inkling that something like that would happen?”

Emma nodded, taking a beat before dropping the big question.

“So if you didn’t sense anything was wrong, do you think it would be possible for Miss Blanchard or Mr Nolan to pick up on any tension?”

“No, not at all. I know I wasn’t there during the club but he’s my son, my own flesh and blood. If there were any signs to notice, I’d have seen them before anyone else.”

“No further questions your honour.”

As Emma moved to her seat, Mal got out of hers. Regina thought Mr Hansel’s testimony was strong, not the best but good enough. yet when she looked over at the prosecution, the smile on Mal’s face told her they’d walked straight into a trap.

“So Mr Hansel, you know your son better than anyone?”

“Well Ava probably knows him better having spent nine months in the womb with him but otherwise yes, I am.”

Mal nodded, faking understanding.

“Yes, Nicholas and Ava are twins. Their mother died a few hours after she gave birth to them, is that correct?”

“Objection!” Emma jumped up. “Relevance?”

“Sustained.”

Mal didn’t seem to care. It wasn’t her plan to get an answer.

“And you had only met her once? A one night stand in a seedy motel?”

“Objection!”

“Sustained. Ms Ficent get to the point.”

“Okay then,” Mal replied, not at all phased by the objections as if she had not only expected them, but relied on them. “Mr Hansel, is it true that the only reason you are in your children’s lives is because the late Miss Gretel, Nicholas and Ava’s mother, put you on their birth certificate shortly before her death?”

“Objection!” Emma jumped up fiercely. “Your Honour, that is totally inappropriate.”

Judge George didn’t seem to agree.

“I’ll allow. Answer the question, Mr Hansel.”

“Technically,” he replied, clearly uncomfortable and understandably so. “I didn’t even know they existed but when I knew they were mine, I stepped up.”

“But you never prepared to be a father?”

“No but like I said, I stepped up. Just because I was prepared to be a father doesn’t mean I can’t be a good one.”

“Oh no, that’s not what I was saying at all,” Mal insisted, putting on an air of innocence. “I was just thinking it must have been hard suddenly becoming a single father to two new-borns without a moment’s notice. So not only are you the only parent but you are also the only bread-winner. Would you say you work hard for your family?”

“Of course I do,” Mr Hansel replied, puffing out his chest with pride. “I work my fingers to the bone making sure my kids have everything they need.”

“Yes, you do,” Mal nodded before walking back to the prosecution table and picking up a file. “Will you look at these for me, Mr Hansel?”

“Sure,” he nodded, watching as Mal approached the witness box and placed a piece of paper in front of him. Regina looked to Emma, who appeared to be just as confused.

“Can you tell me what this is, Mr Hansel?” Mal asked. Mr Hansel nodded and looked down at the paper before frowning.

“It’s my work hours from the week before the fight happened.”

“Indeed it is. Now I’ve highlighted the times both children were either at school or at the youth club. How many hours did you work that week that were not in that time?”

Mr Hansel looked down at the paper again.

“About twelve hours.”

Regina pinched the bridge of their nose. How had they been so stupid?

“And how many hours would you say you spend with your children in a morning or an evening on average?”

“I don’t know,” Mr Hansel shrugged. “On a school day, an hour in a morning and two hours on an evening before they go to bed. Then on weekends I normally leave them to sleep in and see them for about three hours when I get home. I’m a working single parent, they know I’m doing it for them.”

“I’m sure they do, Mr Hansel,” Mal patronised. “So that works out about twenty one hours a week, near enough. Now can you tell me what this is?”

She placed another sheet of paper down in front on Mr Hansel, who once again looked down at it with a frown.

“It’s the register for the youth club that week.”

“Yes, and I’ve highlighted Nicholas’s attendance. Please tell the court how many hours your son spent under the care of Miss Blanchard and Mr Nolan that week.”

Mr Hansel looked down at the paper, did the math, and sighed.

“Thirty four hours.”

If she wasn’t in a crowded courtroom, Regina would have slammed her head against the table, or better yet slammed Mal’s head into it.

“No further questions, you honour.”

Emma leaned back in her chair and sighed before looking to Mary-Margaret.

“You ready?”

Mary-Margaret looked absolutely terrified but nodded.

“Yes, I think so.”

Emma nodded and got to her feet.

“Your Honour, the defence would like to call our next witness.”

Judge George checked his watch before nodding.

“Very well. Proceed, Miss Swan.”

“The defence calls Mary-Margaret Blanchard, your honour.”

The bailiff came and took Mary-Margaret away to the witness box. Regina watched her as the clerk swore her in. Her hand was shaking and she looked like a trembling puppy. She was not at all sympathetic. All she had to do was answer a few questions and for her sake she’d better answer the correctly.

“Miss Blanchard,” Emma addressed her. “When the incident occurred, you were in the crafts area, is that correct?”

“Yes it is,” Mary-Margaret replied but said nothing else.

“Did you see Nicholas Hansel or John Darling before the assault?”

“I saw them from a distance but I never spoke to them. I usually stay by the crafts area while David plays sports and stuff. They are usually with him and they were that day too.”

“So you didn’t speak to either of the boys that day at all?”

“Not before the fight, no.”

“But did you notice anything different about either of them?” Emma asked. “Any tension or any behaviour that seemed out of character.”

“Not at all. They seemed perfectly normal.”

“And after the assault you stayed with John darling. What did you do for him?”

“I made sure he was comfortable. I helped him sit up and lean forward because his nose was bleeding. I didn’t want to do much in case I put him in anymore danger. I sat with him until the ambulance came.”

“And would you would have done that for any other minor under your care?”

“Of course,” Mary-Margaret answered. “I’d do it for anyone.”

Emma nodded and gave her an encouraging smile.

“No further questions your honour.”

Mal got to her feet and approached the witness box.

“Miss Blanchard, you come from quite a privileged background, don’t you?”

“Yes I did,” Mary-Margaret nodded. “My father is a very successful lawyer.”

“With a whole lot of family money. Do you often notice differences in your upbringing with that of those attending your youth club?”

“Yes, but all childhoods are different. I mean, Regina and I grew up together and our childhoods were very different.”

Regina felt the rage boiling up inside her. That was obviously the wrong thing to say.

“So you do admit that the minors that attend your youth club have a different social situation as you did as a child?”

“Objection”, Emma stood up. “Relevance?”

“Over-ruled,” Judge George replied. “Answer the question, Miss Blanchard.”

“Yes, they do,” Mary-Margaret answered.

“So it could be said that you wouldn’t notice certain warning signs due to your privileged upbringing?”

It was stupid question and Regina knew Mal thought so too. However, as soon as she saw the tears form in Mary-Margaret’s eyes, she knew why their opposition had done so.

“No, I love those kids. Just because I grew up privileged doesn’t mean I don’t see when they are hurting.”

“Oh, so Nicholas was hurting. When did you notice this?”

“I didn’t,” Mary-Margaret insisted. “You’re twisting my words.”

“Everyone in the court heard you say it, Miss Blanchard. So please answer my question.”

“I did answer it.”

“Miss Blanchard, please answer the question.”

“But I didn’t know, I promise I didn’t know a thing.”

And then the crying started.

Regina felt the anger boil up inside her. Rule one- don’t fucking cry! From the look of things, Emma felt the same, leaning back in her chair and rubbing her temple. David, however, looked like he was about to jump over Mal and envelope in a tight embrace. Regina was tempted to do the same but instead of the hug, she’d slap her silly.

As for Mal, she looked pretty pleased with herself.

Judge George looked at Mary-Margaret’s blubbering form and shook his head.

“Okay, I think that’s enough for today. Enjoy your weekends and be back here for when court resumes on Monday.”

Regina watched him leave, noticing him mutter women under his breath. She’d have been pretty pissed at that if Mary-Margaret wasn’t currently taking up all of her anguish.

“What are we going to do now? David asked, looking between her and Emma. Just as the blonde was about to answer, Regina beat her to it.

“It doesn’t matter now,” she said, picking up her belongings. “Your wife just lost us the case.”

With that she walked past a stunned David and a frowning Emma.

“Regina!” she called after her but Regina ignored her, heading straight for the doors.

 

Regina took a cab to the bar down the street from her apartment and drank gin till the barman refused to serve her. She wasn’t drunk but she’d drank a ridiculous amount for before lunchtime so instead headed home to continue there. Opening one of her more expensive bottles of wine, she drank until she passed out on the sofa.

By the time she woke up, it was dark outside and Emma Swan was banging on her door.

“Regina, I know you’re in there. Open the door!”

Sitting up with a groan, she rubbed her eyes before getting to her feet. She didn’t feel drunk anymore but the killer headache she was experiencing made it no easier to walk the short distance to the door and deal with the lock. When she finally got it open, she was greeted by a tired looking Emma Swan, who stared at her for a moment before bursting out laughing.

“Oh My God, you look like a grumpy panda!”

Leaving the door open, Regina marched to the bathroom and discovered that when she’d rubbed her eyes, she’d caused all her dark eye make-up to smudge catastrophically. As she tried to scrub it off her face, she heard her front door shut and by the time she’d got most of it off and headed back into the living area, Emma was sat on her couch.

“I hope you’re happy with yourself,” Emma said angrily. “Me and your mother have been ringing you all afternoon.”

Regina looked around and realised she had no idea where her phone was.

“Yes, sorry, I had a nap.”

“You had more than just a nap, you got drunk. Are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” Regina replied. “And I am sorry about what I said to David.”

“I know,” Emma nodded. “But it was unprofessional and unfair.”

“Yes, I know and I will apologise to David.”

“And Mary-Margaret,” Emma added. “Yes she messed up but Mal is a manipulative bitch and she feels so awful about it, especially after David told her what she said.”

“Good, I hope she feels awful.”

“Regine, you don’t mean that…”

“No, I do,” she insisted. “It’s about time she feels awful. God knows she’s done enough to me to warrant having a conscience as heavy as a boulder.”

“Okay, enough,” Emma snapped. “I know you two have a past and I wasn’t there but from where I’m standing, you are the one in the wrong.”

“Me?” Regina gasped in outrage. “How dare you! You know nothing about it!”

“No I don’t but I know that Mary-Margaret has done a lot for me and Henry and she has a heart of gold. As much as I like you Regina, and I really, really like you, you have a temper and you aren’t very tolerant.”

At that, Regina laughed.

“This isn’t about me not being able to tolerate her extremely annoying personality. It’s about her sucking everything she can out of me like a fucking leech.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“Emma, all she ever did was take from me, anything I had, anything I achieved. All my childhood she ruined everything for me and now she’s come back for the sequel to ruin my career.”

“Oh don’t be over dramatic,” Emma snapped causing Regina to raise her eyebrows.

“I’m being over dramatic? Okay then, story time. I won the equestrian competition at our riding club every year from the age of eight. I practised my little ass off while Mary-Margaret messed around and skipped lessons. I earnt those trophies but did I get to keep them? No, because every time Mary-Margaret’s father would give me a hundred dollar bill and the trophy away and give them to her. One year I refused and a week later she slept over at our house and stole it. I demanded it back but all I got was another hundred dollar bill. That not good enough? What about the time my dad got me a kitten from a rescue? I called him Hubert and I loved him for all the five days I had him until Mary-Margaret saw him and stole him away. Yet again, when I tried to get it back, I got a hundred dollar bill. Same thing happened when my father gave me my grandmother’s necklace and when he brought back a Beefeater teddy back from his trip to London before he jetted off to Asia for six months. Whenever I acted up about it, I was ‘difficult’. Whenever she had a tantrum, people felt sorry for her because her mother was dead. Yes it was tragic but it wasn’t fair that I had to suffer because of it.”

“Regina, they are all material things,” Emma argued. “Sure the cat thing sucked but that was so long ago. I know I sound harsh but you need to forgive her. You were kids. Heck, I had everything stolen from me when I was a kid. In fact, the only thing I still have is an old baby blanket. You don’t see me complaining.”

Regina wanted to laugh but she physically couldn’t.

“See, this is where Mal may have had a point today. You don’t get it because you didn’t grow up the way I did.”

“No I didn’t,” Emma agreed. “You grew up with money and parents and I grew up with neither. You know what, all that money you are complaining about I would have sold my soul for when I was eighteen. You are so entitled you have no idea.”

“See, this is what I mean,” Regina huffed. “I know I was very lucky to grow up the economic situation that I did. And yes I have a lot of good childhood memories but most of the time it was horrible. Mary-Margaret things I had a great childhood because she did. Her father loved her more than anything. He’d leave work early to take her to the park, pick her up from school every day, get her whatever her heart desired, attended every sports game and school concert, never missed a parent-teacher conference. Emma, my parents didn’t even turn up for my high school or college graduations. I was the girl who got stuck waiting on the school steps waiting for her mother to come pick her up. I was the girl who spent Christmas with the nanny because mother and father were working. Yeah okay I had a family but I had a father who was barely ever there, a sister who demanded every scrap of attention, and a mother who loved her job more than she loved me.”

Regina took some steady breaths to try calm herself down before continuing.

“Those ‘material things’ made me incredibly happy, you know why? Because those trophies were earned through my hard work and love for horse riding, because that necklace belonged to a grandmother I adored yet barely ever saw and connected me with a part of myself that I often feel disconnected to, because my father took time out of his schedule to think of me and get me a present he knew I would love. As for Hubert, he was the first thing that loved me just as strongly and as completely as I loved him. Then what happens? Little Miss Perfect likes the look of him and takes him away, takes it all away. And you know what, Emma? That isn’t fair.”

Emma said nothing, just stared at her with wide eyes. So Regina continued.

“Did you know I finished high school with A+ across the board? I worked so hard from day one yet Mary-Margaret dropped out before graduation and got a brand new car, which she ended up crashing into mine that was a graduation gift and totally writing it off. I went to college, I became a fucking great lawyer yet for some reason, she still has everything. She has no qualifications, never known what its like to have a career yet she is loved by everyone and has the perfect fiancé and will likely have a ton of ugly babies to rub salt in my wounds. And yet she’s still taking things from me. I was on a great case that would have really put my name out there yet I had to give that up because she wanted me to help her on her stupid lawsuit. Then she makes a complete fool of me in that courtroom today and dammit Emma, she’s even stood in the way of us right now. I just can’t anymore. I quit the case.”

“No Regina,” Emma said, her voice now softer. She tried to reach out for her but Regina pulled away.

“Emma, please. I’ve had enough, I want her out of my life. I want a life and I can’t have her in it because she ruins everything. I want a big house by the sea, lots of children with someone I love more than anything and loves me back just the same.”

A tear rolled down Regina’s cheek at the thought.

“Emma, I just want to be loved for once.”

Emma walked forward and cupped Regina’s face and wiped away her tears with her thumbs. She didn’t say anything, just leaned in and pressed their lips together.

Regina was already emotional, a conflict of sadness, anger and hatred. But once she fully realised Emma Swan was kissing her, she only had one strong, burning emotion.

Pure happiness.

Chapter Text

Brewing her first cup of coffee the next morning, Regina couldn’t stop smiling. It had been suck on her face from the moment Emma pulled away from that first kiss, the first of many that soon followed. Around eleven, she had to practically peel Emma off of her and tell her to go home before anything went any further. She knew Emma had got home safely as about half an hour later, she received a text….

Goodnight, babe! Keep tomorrow free, I’ll pick up Henry and we’ll all spend the day together! Missing you already xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Regina couldn’t help but laugh at the outrageous amount of kisses. She re-read the message a few times before she replied….

That sounds perfect! I miss you too, Emma. Goodnight and have the sweetest dreams xxx

She felt like such a teenager and she’d be more ashamed herself if it didn’t make her feel as though she were flying. Even as she poured her coffee she couldn’t keep still.

Just as she took the first sip of the warm beverage, there was an eager knock at her door. Her smile growing tenfold, she practically ran to the door and swung it open, only to come face to face with her mother.

“Mother?”

“Don’t sound too disappointed,” her mother sassed before looking her up and down. “Why are you still in your pyjamas?”

“Because it’s a Saturday and I can,” Regina shrugged, stepping aside to let her mother in. “Would you like some coffee?”

Her mother walked in and headed to the kitchen area.

“You’re sounding chipper this morning,” she commented as she poured herself a cup of coffee.

“I’m happy it’s the weekend, I guess,” Regina replied, not wanting to tell her about the true reason why she was on cloud nine. What was there really to say anyway? They didn’t have much chance to discuss anything last night so really all she had was a heavy make out session and a promise of tomorrow.

Her mother didn’t look convinced but dropped the subject.

“So, I’m going to see Zelena today and I was wondering if you wanted to come with me?”

Regina thought for a moment before shaking her head.

“No, but give her my best.”

Her mother sighed and shook her head in disappointment.

“Honestly Regina. You need to get over whatever fear you have of visiting your sister. She always asks for you.”

“I’m busy today.”

“Don’t lie to me.”

“I’m not!”

“Okay then, who are you ‘busy’ with?”

In both convenient and incontinent timing, there was a knock on the door. Ignoring her mother’s questioning expression, she walked as casually as she could to the door and opened it.

“Regina!” Henry shot in wrapping his arms around her neck. “Come play in the pool!”

He let her legs go and grabbed her hands, only to freeze as soon as he saw her very confused looking mother. Suddenly, Henry let out a loud scream and hid behind Regina’s legs. It was then that Emma burst into the room.

“What’s happened?” she shouted way too loud, making Regina wince. As soon as Emma saw Regina’s mother, she stood down and stood up straight.

“Good morning, Mrs Mills.”

“Good morning, Miss Swan,” the older woman replied. “Nice to see you again.”

“Don’t talk to her, Mommy,” Henry cried. “She’ll steal your heart!”

“What?” Emma frowned. “What are you talking about?”

“She’s the Queen of Hearts from Regina’s book!”

Regina couldn’t help but laugh.

“No, no, Henry. That’s my mother.”

“But she looks like her!”

“Yes, my father thought it was funny to make the illustrator draw the character to resemble her. I assure you she’s harmless.”

Well that wasn’t exactly true and Henry didn’t seem to believe it. He clung on tighter to her legs.

“Do you promise?”

“Yes, I promise.”

Reluctantly, he let her legs go and worked out towards her mother, who looked totally confused to what was going on. He stopped a few feet in front of her, clasping his hands behind his back while rocking on his feet.

“I’m Henry.”

To Regina’s surprise, her mother bent down to Henry’s height and held out her hand.

“Nice to meet you, young man. My name is Cora.”

Henry giggled and shook her hand before trying to drag her across the room.

“Come watch me swim!”

“Kid, let go of Mrs Mills,” Emma scolded him but the older woman just laughed.

“Its fine, Miss Swan,” she assured. “I did have two kids of my own, you know.”

Emma just nodded and Regina watched as her mother stopped Henry, getting him to look up at her.

“As much as I would like to see how good a swimmer you are, I am going to have to leave,” she told him, making Henry do his signature pout.

“But why?” he whined.

“Well, I’m going to see Regina’s sister.”

Henry’s face lit up and he jumped up and down.

“I wanna go too!”

“Woah there, kid,” Emma quickly moved over and picked him up, holding him on her hip. “We’re spending the day with Regina. We’ll see Regina’s sister another day.”

Henry didn’t seem too pleased with that answer but nodded in acceptance.

“Yes, right,” Regina jumped in. “Mother, shouldn’t you be going?”

“Ah, yes,” her mother nodded, smiling softly at Henry. “I hope to see you soon, Henry.”

“Bye Cora”, he said with a wave, making her smile grow for a moment only for her face to return serious as she gave Emma an acknowledging nod. “Miss Swan.”

Emma nodded back with a smile but said nothing.

Regina frowned at her mother’s behaviour and confronted her with hands on hips as she approached.

“Why are you being like that with Emma?” she questioned in a whisper as soon as they were close enough.

“You are my daughter,” her mother replied. “It’s my job to intimidate your girlfriends.”

Before Regina could argue, her mother walked out of the door Emma had left open.

“Goodbye Regina,” she said before closing the door behind her.

As soon as the door clicked shut, Emma led Henry to the couch and turned on the TV, expertly finding that cartoons.

“Hey look at that, kid,” she said. “Your favourite.”

Henry nodded slowly, instantly engrossed in what was on screen.

With that, Emma wasted no time in running back to Regina and pulling her into a quick yet passionate kiss.

“It’s so weird,” Emma said once she’d pulled away, making Regina frown.

“Why is it?”

“Oh no, the kiss wasn’t weird,” Emma quickly assured her. “The kissing is great, more than great. Electronic!”

Regina blushed, smiling brightly as she nodded in agreement.

“Definitely electronic.”

“What I mean was the fact that now I can actually get to kiss you,” Emma explained enthusiastically. “Do you get how amazing that is?!”

“Yes, I do,” Regina replied before leaning in and pressing a light kiss to the blonde’s lips. Emma’s hand reached up into her hair but the brunette quickly pulled away. “Miss Swan, there is a child in the room.”

“I wasn’t going to do anything,” Emma feigned innocence, at which Regina raised an eyebrow.

“Says the woman who less than eight hours ago had her hand up my shirt.”

A mischievous smile appeared on Emma’s face, clearly recalling the memory as Regina was herself.

“Okay, fair enough,” she said before looking down at Regina’s attire. “Nice pyjamas.”

“Yes,” Regina sighed, looking down at her silk nightmare in embarrassment. “I’m sorry, I wasn’t expecting you this early.”

Emma laughed and wrapped her arms around her.

“That’s your fault for being totally irresistible.”

Regina blushed once more, pressing her forehead against Emma’s.

“I should get changed, then we can go somewhere with Henry. It’s meant to be a beautiful day.”

“It certainly is,” Emma agreed. “We’ll take him to the park. Oh and also, we’re having dinner with David and Mary-Margaret tonight.”

Aaaand moment ruined.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea, Emma,” Regina said, pulling away.

“No, it is,” Emma insisted, cupping Regina’s cheeks so they were looking each other straight in the eye. “I know you have your pasts and if I have to play Switzerland then fair enough. Thing is you are both important to me and I want more than anything for you two to get along. We’re gonna have some great take-out food and as soon as Henry goes to sleep, we’re all gonna sit down at you are going to tell Mary-Margaret everything you told me last night.”

Regina sighed and shook her head.

“I don’t know.”

“Hey, if it doesn’t work at least you’ll have it all off your chest. She’ll know how much she hurt you and you’ll be able to move on, no matter the outcome.”

“But what if things explode?” Regina questioned. “I can manage being civil when I have to right now but I have a temper and  if anything escalates through this ‘talk’, I don’t want you stuck in the middle.”

“Let me worry about me,” Emma told her. “It goes bad, I’ll get David to take Mary-Margaret and we can drink one of your expensive wines.”

“I’m not getting in a cab intoxicated, Miss Swan.”

“Yeah, like I’d let you,” Emma shook her head in mock disbelief. “You’re looking at a protective momma bear here. No, you can stay at my place.”

At that Regina raised her eyebrows again.

“What did we discuss last night, Miss Swan?”

“I have a pull-out couch,” Emma replied. “Get your head out of the gutter, Mills.”

Regina rolled her eyes but laughed anyway.

“Okay, then I’d love too. As long as you don’t mind me intruding on you and Henry’s routine.”

“Don’t worry about it, you’re my girlfriend after all,” Emma shrugged, taking Regina by surprise.

“G-girlfriend?”

Emma instantly looked awkward, moving her rams from around her waist and putting her hands in the back pockets of her jeans.

“Well yeah, I mean we’ve technically been on a few dates already and we know a lot about each other. I know this kissing and stuff is new and we’ve only known each other a couple of weeks. But what’s the point in wasting time going through the motions of getting to a place we’re already at, or at least I am.”

The sincerity of those words and look on Emma’s face as she spoke them made Regina’s heart melt. With the big smile that had now found its home on her face shining brighter than ever, she nodded in agreement.

“I’m right there with you.”

“That’s settled then,” Emma grinned, moving in to kiss her until Regina put a finger to her lips to stop her.

“But we are still taking it slow on a physical front.”

“Yes, I know,” the blonde sighed. “But can I please kiss my girlfriend now?”

“You may,” Regina nodded, closing her eyes and was pleased that Emma wasted no time in kissing her. Kissing Emma was a unique experience. She’d kissed a reasonable number of women in her life, most bending into one in her memory except for Mal and now Emma. Mal’s kisses had always been aggressive, sexually driven and was basically a stepping stone to the act itself. She’d always thought that was what kissing with feeling was like, rough and crude, even forceful at times.

Yet kissing Emma proved that theory wrong. The way she kissed her was passionate for sure but while Mal’s kisses were bruising, Emma’s were healing. While Mal made her feel like she was drowning, Emma made her feel like she was walking on water. Every touch was gentle, every moment was savoured even though it felt like time stood still for them. That is what every kiss had felt like no matter how chase or brief. And she never wanted to experience anything less.

When the kiss ended, Regina’s eyes fluttered open in time to catch Emma’s doing the same.

“You go get ready and pack an overnight bag. I’ll take Henry to the pool, if that’s okay?”

“Of course it is,” Regina nodded. “I’ll try not to take too long.”

“We have all day,” Emma assured her and Regina smiled at the thought. A day with Emma and Henry was certainly something to look forward to.

As she left the mother and son to occupy themselves, Regina headed into her en suite and turned on the shower. Stripping out of her pyjamas, she stepped under the flow of warm water. As usual, her mind wandered in the shower. Often she’d just be thinking over cases or reminiscing past memories or catchy pop songs. That day, only one thought came to mind.

Regina Mills, girlfriend of Emma Swan. Was it just her or did that have a certain ring to it?

Chapter Text

She’d had a nice day with Emma and Henry. They’d gone to the park, gone out to lunch, then went to watch the boats at the harbour. Now they were back at Emma’s apartment, Henry playing with his building blocks while she and Emma watched him from the sofa.

“Kid’s gonna be an architect when he grows up, I’m telling you,” Emma said proudly. Regina looked at Henry’s unsteady and odd-looking construction and smiled.

“He certainly could be, Miss Swan.”

“Okay, enough with the Miss Swan. I’ll answer only to that when I’m in trouble, otherwise it’s Emma, baby, or honey-pie.”

“Honey-pie? That’s not happening.”

“Okay, Honey Bunny.”

Regina sighed in defeat.

“Any luck in getting Henry into a daycare?”

“Not yet,” Emma shook her head. “All the good ones are either full or too expensive. I know I shouldn’t be picky and there could be bullies anywhere but I want him to go somewhere nice, you know?”

“I agree,” Regina nodded. “Surely on a lawyers salary you’d be able to find somewhere suitable.”

At that, Emma laughed.

“On your salary, maybe. If you haven’t realised, my clients aren’t particularly rolling in green. I’m what you’d call an ‘affordable’ lawyer. Plus, I have student loans still to pay.”

“Why don’t you work at a firm?” Regina suggested. “If only for a little while? At my firm, you sign a six month bounded contract and they’ll pay off all your student loans.”

Emma barely even seemed to think about it before she shook her head.

“As tempting as that sounds, I like being freelance. I like helping my community, even if that doesn’t necessarily help myself. Henry may not have the most but he gets what he needs and I want to make sure he knows the value of morality over money.”

Though Regina outwardly nodded in understanding, in her head she saw red flags. It wasn’t the words themselves that bothered her it was the way Emma said them, almost robotically rehearsed like a witness being told exactly what to say.

“Well I hope you find somewhere soon.”

“Me too,” Emma nodded. “Ashley says she doesn’t mind and I do pay her but I don’t want to rely on her too much. Normally David and Mary-Margaret look after him at the community centre’s day-care club if he’s not at preschool. Honestly, if this case goes sideways I don’t know what I’ll do with Henry.”

“I’ll help,” Regina quickly offered, which made Emma burst out laughing. She glared at the blonde and folded her arms. “What’s so funny about that?”

“Babe, you’re a workaholic. You’ll be busier than I am.”

“I’ll take some time off or work from home,” Regina challenged but it only made Emma laugh more.

“Okay, I’ll believe it when I see it.”

Regina huffed, slumping in her seat and pouting.

“You always laugh at me! I’ve been told I’m void of a sense of humour so please enlighten me as to why I seem to be so hilarious?”

“Because you’re such a cute little grumpy panda and I find it funny.”

“A cute little grumpy panda?” Regina questioned to which Emma nodded.

“Yep and I totally dig it.”

Regina blushed despite finding it ridiculous.

“Why a panda though?”

“You wear a lot of work suits,” Emma shrugged. “I always thought pandas were the most well-dressed of the bears. Plus they are pretty goofy yet could easily turn savage. That’s pretty much you.”

“I’m not savage,” Regina huffed. “Like I said, I have a temper.”

“Accept it, you’re a panda. Goofy with the potential to mane and extremely rare.”

Regina rolled her eyes. She used to have intelligent conversations about politics and culture. Now she discussed what kind of animal she was and honestly enjoyed it a lot more. Still she was a grown woman and should be having conversations a bit more refined.

“What animal are you then?” she still found herself asking.

“I’m a golden retriever,” Emma answered confidently. “Intelligent, friendly, trustworthy, loyal. I tick all the boxes, especially the hair.”

Not only was Regina not surprised by her girlfriends answer, she found herself agreeing.

 

The instant Mary-Margaret stepped over the threshold, Regina’s day was ruined. She was wearing a god awful dress covered in flowers and was smiling like the idiot she was.

David trailed behind her and shot Regina a glare. She narrowed her eyes, challenging him to say something. That caused him to quickly stand down.

Dinner was fine. The food was good and Henry kept the conversation light. Mary-Margaret was being her usual insufferable self but Regina kept her mouth shut and concentrated on her food.

It was when it was time for Henry’s bedtime and Emma went to tuck him in that the awkwardness finally reared its ugly head. David and Mary-Margaret sat on the couch while Regina loitered in the kitchen area, counting the seconds till her girlfriend returns.

Now Regina was sure if it was anyone else, they’d know she wasn’t interested in interacting with them. Yet Mary-Margaret clearly thought everyone wanted to interact with her and so decided to shout loudly at her across the apartment.

“That food was lovely, wasn’t it Regina?”

“It was very nice,” Regina answered at a more acceptable volume. She hoped her shouting wasn’t disturbing Henry.

“We love that place, don’t we David. Emma discovered it when she first moved onto this block. We used to go to the place round the corner but our neighbour got food poisoning from there so we were a bit put off. So we talked to Emma and she recommended this place. We were reluctant at first as it didn’t look particularly great on the outside but Emma insisted it was great so we took her word for it. Well she was right and the food was divine! We’ve gone there ever since and we’ve told everyone we know to do the same. Fair to say, they’ve done a lot more business since.”

“Good to know,” Regina replied and too her dismay, Mary-Margaret kept talking.

“Next time we should go to this great pizza place we know. We always have it when we have a movie night. I’ve been dying to watch a good rom-com. Oh Regina, I have a great collection of rom-coms. I’m such a romantic. Everyone should be a romantic. Love is such a beautiful thing.”

Regina just nodded because admittedly she was right- love is a beautiful thing. Yet the shining look in Mary-Margaret eye as she said it bothered her. It was so naive, the look of someone who had never had their heart broken by someone they truly loved. She shouldn’t be surprised. Any potential for heart break in Mary-Margaret’s life had been skilfully removed by daddy and now she had her perfect little life all lined up. If only everyone had it so easy.

To her relief, it was then that Emma returned.

“What was with all the shouting?” Emma asked, not seeming angry but not particularly pleased either.

“Oh I was talking to Regina,” Mary-Margaret replied. “She is stood quite a distance away.”

Regina rolled her eyes. Of course it was her fault.

“Well it’s a good thing Henry was tired,” Emma joked. “Regina really wore him out today.”

“You spent the day together?” Mary-Margaret questioned. “You should have told us, we would have loved a day out.”

“Yeah well Regina and I have something to tell you.”

Regina looked at the blonde in surprise, watching as she walked over to stand next to her.

“As you know, Regina and I have been working closely while preparing for this case,” Emma began to explain. “I liked her from the moment I met her. She was fiery and strong-willed and I wanted her as my second chair, not only to help you guys but so I could see her in action. After spending more time with her, I learnt that Regina is more than a good strong lawyer with a sassy attitude, but that she is kind, caring, great with kids, secretly a little dorky with a lot of pain pushed down in there. And she’s beautiful, I knew she was hot already but when she smiles its like I’m looking at an angel. So I was feeling a lot of feelings and last night I decided to act on those feelings.”

Emma reached out and took the brunette’s hand in hers. Their eyes met and Regina couldn’t help but mirror the smile on her girlfriends face.

“And it turns out, Regina has those feelings too. As of this morning, she is my girlfriend and I feel so unbelievably blessed that someone as special as her even looks at me twice.”

Regina couldn’t stop smiling. She was about to reach up and pull her into a deep kiss, but before she could a girlish squeal ruined the moment.

Mary-Margaret came running over and pulled them both into a tight hug.

“This is amazing! I knew this was a match made in heaven, I just knew it. I’m so glad I got you two together. I’m so happy!”

“What my fiancée means is that we are happy for you,” David laughed, making his was over and putting a hand on Mary-Margaret’s shoulder. “Congratulations to you both.”

“Thank you, David,” Emma grinned from ear to ear. “Just keep it quiet around Henry. We haven’t told him anything yet.”

“Of course,” he nodded. “But I think he’d be over the move about this. He loves Regina.”

“Oh you’d make the loveliest little family!” Mary-Margaret gasped. “We should make sure we have kids at a similar time so they can grow up together like Regina and I did.”

“Okay,” David quickly cut in. “Let’s take this through to the living room, shall we?”

“Great idea,” Emma nodded. “Anyone want a drink? Regina brought wine.”

“Oh that would be lovely,” Mary-Margaret beamed.

“Can I trouble you for a beer, Emma?” David asked and the blonde nodded.

“Sure thing.”

“I’ll get the drinks,” Regina cut in. “You’ve done enough this evening.”

“Are you sure, babe?” Emma asked and Regina nodded.

“Yes, of course. What can I get you?”

“A beer for me too, please. Beers are in the fridge, bottle opener is in the cutlery draw, and you know where the glasses are.”

Regina nodded and went to the fridge to get the beers as her girlfriend went to join her friends.

“So you guys were trying to set us up, huh?”

“Not in a direct way,” Regina heard Mary-Margaret reply. “I did actually want Regina on the case but I will admit, I’d often hoped I’d find chance to introduce you two. Though I’d never dreamed of you sharing such chemistry.”

Regina smiled when she heard Emma laugh as she retrieved the bottle opener.

“Well they do say opposites attract. So you wanted to get your two gay friends together?”

“Not just because of that,” Mary-Margaret laughed. “Honestly I was thinking more of friendship but this is even better.”

“Indeed it is, isn’t it babe?”

Regina rolled her eyes and brought the two beers through, handing one to David before turning to her girlfriend.

“Certainly, babe,” she replied teasingly, handing the blonde her beer.

“I tried for a long while to set Regina up with someone, ever since we were in school,” Mary-Margaret laughed. “She hated all my choices. Regina kept her sexuality a secret from us for quite a while but eventually she clued us in. She didn’t tell her parents though.”

Regina rolled her eyes as she fetched two wine glasses. She set them down on the table and began carefully pouring the expensive alcohol.

“We were invited to a big Christmas party for the firm,” Mary-Margaret laughed at the memory. “It was back in my party girl days so I was drunk before we’d even arrived. Regina was back from law school for the holidays and was still single so I took the initiative. I got right up on stage in front of the mic and asked if there was any eligible ladies around for my good friend Regina. I’m telling you it was so funny. Regina, her mom, and her dad all had the same horrified look on their faces. I laughed so hard I wet myself.”

Regina laughed at the last part. Now that had been funny. David laughed a little too. Emma however, didn’t laugh at all.

“Wait a second…you outed my girlfriend?”

Regina tensed upon hearing Emma’s cold tone, causing her to spill some of the wine on herself.

“Shit,” she cursed but the others either didn’t hear her or didn’t care.

“Oh Emma, I was drunk and being silly,” Mary-Margaret waved her off. “I did a lot of stupid things back then.”

“Yeah, like fucking outing my girlfriend.”

As soon as the curse left her girlfriends mouth, Regina darted over and sat herself on the chair arm next to Emma, putting a hand on her shoulder.

“Emma…”

“No, Regina,” Emma shrugged her off and got to her feet. “I’m not having it.”

All Regina could do was watch as Emma pointed an accusing finger at Mary-Margaret.

“You treated my girlfriend like shit.”

“Emma, calm down,” Regina told her but the blonde didn’t stand down.

“What?” Mary-Margaret frowned. “I did no such thing!”

You stole her stuff and fucking outed her to everyone!”

“Emma,” Regina tried again, speaking softly in a way that could have helped if Mary-Margaret hadn’t looked so offended.

“I did no such thing. Regina is lying.”

“Don’t call my girlfriend a liar!”

“And don’t you shout at my fiancée!” David barked, getting to his feet to confront Emma, who didn’t look at all phased by it.

“Your fiancée made my girlfriends life a living hell, Nolan. She used to steal the riding trophieegina won when she’d lost, stole stuff her dad used to bring home whenever he was working away, stole Regina’s grandmother’s necklace. Heck, she even stole her kitten and kept it as her own. Now I find out this I wonder what else you did to mess with Regina’s life.”

“She’s lying!” Mary-Margaret cried before shooting Regina a glare. “Why would you tell her those things?”

“Because it’s the truth,” Regina answered, head held high.

David frowned stepping away from Emma and turning to Mary-Margaret.

“You said you won those trophies and Regina got jealous so scrapped out your name?”

“Oh please,” Regina scoffed. “Jealously is so not my style.”

Mary-Margaret burst into tears.

“I don’t know why you are bringing this all up now. It was a long time ago and I-I’ve changed.”

“But why lie about it?” David frowned. “I know you were a different person back then but you never told me any of this. Is there more stuff you haven’t told me?”

“I didn’t want you to think badly of me,” she sobbed. “I was scared you’d judge before you let me explain.”

“Okay then,” David said, hands on hips. “Explain it to me.”

Mary-Margaret took a deep breath to compose herself before she answered.

“My mother died when I was young and Daddy would get me whatever I wanted. I didn’t think that he’d take stuff from Regina if I wanted it but he did. Regina had two parents and a sister. I only had Daddy. I thought she wouldn’t mind if I took her things but no she was ungrateful even though Daddy paid her for it. She had so much more than me and she wouldn’t let me have anything.”

“You stole my cat,” Regina snapped. “How can you not feel guilty about that?”

“He was mine longer than he was yours,” Mary-Margaret shot back. “Prince Lotus Blossom was my best friend and how dare you shame his memory.”

“HUBERT WAS HER CAT!” Emma all but screamed. “Why can’t you admit that you did Regina wrong and apologise?!”

“Because she’s the one poisoning you against me, Emma,” Mary-Margaret cried. “She’s pushing me out of the picture so she can have you and Henry for herself.”

“Right, that’s it,” Emma growled. “Get out of my home!”

David got to his feet and stormed out without a second glance at his fiancé.

“David!” she called after him. “David, please come back!”

“I’d like you to go please,” Emma said once more, pointing to the now open door.

“Emma please just listen to me…”

Emma didn’t listen. She picked up her beer bottle and threw it against the wall.

“GET OUT OF MY HOUSE!” she screamed before storming towards her bedroom, leaving Mary-Margaret and Regina in the living area.

Mary-Margaret opened her mouth to speak but Regina quickly stopped.

“Enough has been said tonight. You need to go.”

Mary-Margaret nodded and got her coat and the one David left behind. She moved to the door but paused, looking back to Regina, who bent down to pick up the larger pieces of glass.

“You know, I was wrong. You’re not right for Emma. You’ll make her bitter, just like you.”

Regina sighed and shook her head, not even bothering to look up at her.

“Goodbye, Mary-Margaret.”

When she finally heard the door click shut, she let out a sigh of relief. She’d known this ‘talk’ was a bad idea, she just didn’t expect Emma to be the one that exploded.

Regina took her time in making sure all of the glass was cleaned up before getting a wet cloth to clear up the beer. She was so preoccupied by her task that she didn’t hear little bare feet approaching.

“Regina?”

She looked to see Henry stood a few feet away, holding a stuffed animal in one hand as he rubbed his tired eye with the other. Regina smiled at him softly.

“Hello Henry, shouldn’t you be in bed?”

“I heard Mommy shouting. Mommy never shouts.”

“Yes, I know. She just got a little angry, everything is fine.”

“Angry at you?” Henry frowned and Regina quickly shook her head.

“No, no, me and your mother are absolutely fine,” Regina assured him and Henry smiled sleepily.

“Good. I love you, Regina.”

“I love you too,” she replied softly. “Why don’t you run off back to bed?”

Henry ignored her and went to sit on the couch, watching her closely. Regina carried on with her cleaning and by the time she’d finished, she found that Henry had fallen asleep. After putting the damp cloth in the sink, she carefully lifted the boy up and carried him through to his room. Laying him down on his bed, she tucked him in and placed a light kiss on his forehead.

After settling one Swan, she moved on to the other. Knocking softly on the closed door of her girlfriend’s bedroom, she slowly turned the handle and pushed it open.

“Emma?”

Regina found the blonde wrapped in her duvet with her head poking out at the top.

“Hey,” Emma weakly replied. “Was that Henry just then?”

“Yes, he heard the shouting. I put him back to bed.”

“I’m sorry.”

“It’s no problem,” Regina assured her. “Look, I’m gonna call a cab…”

Emma instantly shot up into a seated position.

“What? No, stay.”

“But your upset,” Regina said and Emma nodded.

“Yeah, I’m upset. So instead of sleeping out there, you are sleeping in here.”

“Emma Swan,” Regina sighed, “what did we discuss about taking things slow?”

“Yeah, yeah, I know,” Emma waved her off before leaning over to reach under her bed, pulling out a large pillow. “I put it in between me and Henry when he stays in here. He kicks in his sleep so if this can stop an energetic sleep-kicking five year old, it’ll work just fine for us.”

Regina wasn’t convinced but agreed anyway. She went to ready for bed and returned to the bedroom quickly, getting under the covers on the other side of the pillow as Emma.

“Another nice pair of pyjamas I see.”

“I have many,” Regina teased before positioning herself so she could comfortably address Emma. “I thought you were Switzerland?”

“Yeah, it seems like you’re not the only one with a temper,” Emma laughed before a regretful look appeared on her face. “I shouldn’t have shouted like that.”

“I think everyone said things they shouldn’t have,” Regina tried to reassure her but Emma didn’t look convinced.

“I don’t know, when she told that story of how she outed you, something seemed to snap in me. What I don’t get, though, is how you were angrier about those trophies than her outing you in front of everybody?”

“Oh trust me, in the moment I wanted to rip her head off,” Regina told her. “But when my parents sat me down and we all talked, they were very accepting and everything was great. I was very lucky. In a way, I’m kind of glad she did it as I was way too chicken to do it myself. And by having everyone finding out at the same time, it was like ripping off a band aid. But then again, I was very lucky.”

“Fair enough,” Emma shrugged. “But still it was a shitty thing to do.”

Regina pondered over Emma’s reaction before a sickening thought came to mind.

“Emma, were you outed?”

The question was serious but that didn’t stop Emma from laughing at it.

“Regina, I was a foster kid. By the time I realised my sexuality I didn’t have anyone to be outed to.”

Feeling a small sense of relief, Regina pondered her girlfriend’s reaction once more.

“So can I ask why it bothered you so much that I was outed?” she asked with a frown. “Besides the fact that it was, as you put it, a shitty thing to do.”

Emma sighed and rolled over to lie on her back.

“I don’t like the idea of someone telling a secret and ruining your life forever. It scares me.”

“Do you have a secret like that?” Regina asked, a little scared of the answer.

“We all have secrets like that,” Emma replied. “Even if you can’t think of them off the top of your head.”

Regina didn’t like that answer but she accepted it for now. Rolling over to mirror her girlfriend, she stared up at the ceiling.

“So what are we going to do about Mary-Margaret and David?”

“I’ll sort it,” Emma told her. “You don’t worry about it.”

She wished she wasn’t, but Regina was worrying a lot. After all, how could they win the case with conflict like this in their own team.  

Chapter Text

Despite falling asleep with an arm draped across her waist, Regina woke up alone in bed with Henry poking her arm.

“Regina, wake up!”

Regina reluctantly opened her eyes and smiled sleepily at the boy.

“Good morning, Henry,” she said groggily.

“Good morning,” he said in reply, hugging his stuffed animal close to his chest. “Where is Mommy?”

Regina shot up, now wide awake.

“She’s not here?” she frowned and Henry shook his head.

“No, I checked everywhere.”

Regina looked around for her phone but while doing so noticed a folded up piece of paper on the bedside table next to her. Picking it up, she unfolded and read the note inside.

Babe,

I’ve gone to talk to David. I shouldn’t be too long but if the kid wakes up, stick some cartoons on. Don’t make any breakfast, I’m sorting that. See you soon,

Emma x

P.s. You’re so adorable when you’re sleeping. I loved waking up to that.

Regina smiled, folding the note up and putting it in the small pocket on the chest of her silk pyjamas shirt. Looking back to Henry, she ruffled his hair before getting herself out of bed.

“Come on, let’s go watch some cartoons and wait for your mother.”

Henry grinned and ran through to the living area. By the time Regina walked through, the TV was on and playing an old episode of Scooby Doo with Henry sat on the floor in front of it, legs folded.

Regina sat herself on the couch and checked her phone. She had a message from her mother telling her Zelena was well and wanted to see her, and a missed call from Mary-Margaret from daft-o’clock in the morning. What caught her attention was a message from a number her phone didn’t recognise, yet the person had left their name in the text.

Hi Regina, I was wondering if you wanted to get a drink with me? I’ve been wanting to talk to you about something. Hope you accept-Mal xx

Regina read the text over once more before locking her phone and setting it aside. She tried to forget it and watch the cartoon but her mind kept going at hyper-speed. Why the hell was Mal texting her? She had to tell Emma, she wanted to tell Emma, she needed to tell Emma. She needed to talk about this with someone and her girlfriend was that someone.

Finally, about ten minutes later, Emma appeared carrying a large grocery bag.

“I have fresh waffles!” she announced, holding the bag up like a trophy.

“Yay!” Henry cheered, getting to his feet and jumping up and down. “Waffles, waffles, waffles.”

“You stay right there with your cartoons, kid,” Emma told him. “Me and Regina will sort out the waffles, ‘kay?”

Henry nodded and sat back down as Regina got up to meet Emma in the kitchen.

“Sorry I left you with the kid,” Emma said as she got three plates out of the cupboard. “I thought t wouldn’t take long.”

“What happened?” Regina asked, unpacking the waffles from the bag. They were in separate containers with a tub of chocolate sauce accompanying them. Emma reached over and took the container, putting it in the microwave.

“I went round to talk but only David was there. Mary-Margaret walked out last night and is at her dad’s place.”

“Yeah, I had a missed call from her this morning,” Regina told her. “Is David okay?”

“Yeah, he’s not in the best of moods but he’s not mad at you or me. He says he’s glad he now knows the truth. I told him we’d continued representing them both no matter how this resolves.”

“Yes, quite right,” Regina nodded, setting the waffles out on the plates. “We can’t look divided or the vultures will swoop in.”

Emma nodded as the microwave beeped. She got the small tub out and lifted the lid, the rich smell of chocolate filling the air.

“Damn that’s good.”

“Should we be having chocolate for breakfast?” Regina asked, to which Emma laughed.

“It’s just like Nutella,” Emma shrugged, pouring the sauce evenly across the waffles. “Can you get the whipped cream out the fridge please, babe?”

Regina nodded and did as she was asked.

“Listen, I’ve got something I’ve got to tell you?”

“Oh God, please say you’re not allergic to nuts or anything,” Emma panicked, causing Regina to shake her head frantically.

“No, no, Emma. This is great, I’m not allergic.”

“Good,” Emma smiled, taking the whipped cream from her girlfriend and began squirting large dollops of it on each waffle. “So what’s up?”

Regina took her phone out and brought up the text.

“When I checked my phone this morning, I had a text from Mal.”

 Emma instantly set the cream can aside and took the phone Regina was holding out to her. She read the text and frowned.

“Do you have any idea what she wants to talk to you about?”

“Absolutely none,” Regina shook her head. “Honestly, I don’t really want to know.”

“Do you want to meet her for drinks?” Emma asked nervously.

“Not at all,” she answered adamantly. “I want nothing to do with her.”

Emma handed the phone back to her.

“If you even want to go to get closure, I’ll support you.”

“I don’t need closure, Emma,” Regina assured her. “Maybe a few weeks ago I did but now she’s nothing to me but an ex and an opponent. I’m with you now, fully and completely.”

Emma smiled at that and picked up the whipped cream to carry on her task.

“Thanks for telling me and being honest.”

“I’ll never be anything but honest with you,” Regina promised, not failing to notice Emma hesitate for a split second.

“I bet your mom would rather you be with Mal, though. She was really cold to me yesterday.”

Regina rolled her eyes at the mention of her mother’s antics.

“She hates Mal and absolutely loves you, don’t worry. Yesterday she’d worked out something had changed between us and decided to mess with you, and me.”

“By scaring the living crap out of me?” Emma laughed. “Why would she even do that?”

“She’s done it every time Zelena and I have begun seeing someone. As soon as she gets a whiff of any kind of romantic involvement, which she has a sixth sense for by the way, she puts on the ice queen routine. A part of me things she likes embarrassing me and my sister but I also think she likes to assert her dominance. She likes you well enough I should be able to get her to stand down next time I speak to her.”

“Why don’t we go see her today?” Emma suggested. “We could do it together. The sooner I please my possible future mother-in-law, the better.”

“Okay, well she practically lives at the office so we can pop by later, then I can walk home from there.”

“Home?” Emma pouted and Regina couldn’t help but laugh.

“Emma, I have to go home at some point. If you want you and Henry can come round and I’ll cook some lasagne.”

Emma’s face lit up at that.

“Yeah, that would be awesome! Anyway, waffle time!”

 

Henry jumped out of the elevator as soon as the doors opened.

“Regina’s work!” he said excitedly. Ruby got up from her desk to greet them.

“I see you have a friend,” she commented smiling down at Henry. “Hey there.”

“Hi, I’m Henry.”

“I’m Ruby.”

“Ruby, is my mother in my office?” Regina asked, making Ruby laugh.

“As always. I swear she never leaves her office.”

Regina nodded before frowning.

“What are you doing here on a Sunday?”

“Overtime,” Ruby shrugged. “I’m saving up for a trip to Vegas.”

Regina rolled her eyes before putting her hands on Henry’s shoulders.

“Ruby, can you watch Henry while Emma and I go talk to my mother?”

“Sure thing. Come on, kid.”

Henry happily followed Ruby back to her desk. Regina smiled before looking to Emma, who was usually quiet.

“Are you okay?”

Emma looked down at her feet, a slight blush on her face.

“I’m a little nervous. I don’t usually get to the ‘meeting the parents’ point.”

“Oh honey,” Regina sighed, taking her hand and squeezing it lovingly. “Don’t worry, you’ve already met her after all. I’ll be right there with you, doing all the talking. Just hold my hand and let me take the lead.”

Emma nodded and allowed Regina to lead her through the office space to her mother’s large corner office. As expected, her mother was sat at her desk looking through a case file. She looked up when she heard them enter and her eyes lit up.

“Regina, Miss Swan. To what do I owe the pleasure on this Sunday afternoon?”

“Mother,” Regina began, feeling the nerves now herself but for Emma she stood strong. “Emma and I are now in a relationship. She is my girlfriend. We are very happy and we hope you are happy for us too.”

Her mother put the case file down on her desk and leaned back in her chair.

“What would you do if I wasn’t happy?”

“Excuse me?” Regina frowned. “What do you mean by that?”

“If I wasn’t happy,” her mother reiterated slowly, “what would you do?”

Regina thought for a mere split second before straightening her posture.

“Nothing, I’d stay with Emma.”

“Very nice, Regina,” her mother noted, her eyes locked on Emma. “But it’s not your answer I’m most interested in.”

Regina looked to Emma, worried in case her girlfriend was internally panicking.

To her surprise, Emma held her head up high and addressed her mother with a strength very few had when faced with the older woman.

“I’d try persuade you otherwise, I’d try my damn hardest. But the only reason I’d leave Regina is if she expressly asked me to. Your opinion means a lot to Regina and so means a lot to me. But the only opinions on our relationship that matter to me are my son’s and your daughter’s.”

Regina watched as her mother pursed her lips, staring Emma down for a few moments before getting up from her chair. She walked over to the blonde and looked her up and down.

“I’m warning you now that if you ever hurt my daughter, you’ll never work in any city on the east coast again. If I find out you’re using my daughter for money, I’ll slap you with a lawsuit so crippling that it’ll follow you around your entire life. If you cause my daughter even the slightest moment of unhappiness, my blessing will be revoked. And if you cheat on her, I don’t care if your son is cute, I’ll find you and kill you.”

“Mother!” Regina gasped in horror but Emma squeezed her hand, telling her it was okay.

“I understand but none of those things will ever be an issue. I know exactly how precious your daughter is and I will never treat her any less.”

The older woman stared at the blonde for a moment before bursting into tears. Regina was completely in shock. Her mother never cried.

Emma looked just as surprised, even more so when her mother pulled her into a tight embrace.

“Thank you, Emma,” she sobbed into her blonde hair. “Thank you so much.”

“Mother?” Regina spoke in concern. “Are you okay?”

The older woman laughed and pulled away from the blonde, who had been stood awkwardly with one hand holding her girlfriends and the other cautiously resting on her mother’s back.

“I’m fine,” her mother assured her, smiling while looking between them. “I’m happy for you both.”

“I can tell,” Regina couldn’t help but laugh. “All the ways I thought this would go, I never expected you to cry.”

Her mother laughed also and put her arm around Emma’s shoulder, who had a bright smile on her face.

“My daughter has finally found a nice girl. I think that’s something worth crying about.”

Regina couldn’t agree more. Seeing Emma there with her mother, both laughing and grinning from ear to ear, she realised that for once she had most of her ducks in a row.

Unknown to her, that wouldn’t be the case for long.

Chapter Text

That morning in the shower, Regina was boringly thinking about her taxes when she heard the bathroom door creak behind her. Quickly turning off the shower, she rubbed away some of the condensation on the glass to look out into the room. She couldn’t see anything untoward except the door being opened.

Regina frowned. Maybe she didn’t close the door like she thought. Happy with that conclusion, she turned back around and switched the shower back on. Humming a spontaneous tune and allowing the water to fall over her face, she didn’t notice the other presence in her bathroom until she felt hands on her tips.

“FUCK!”

Almost jumping out of her skin, she spun round and was faced with a laughing, wet, and very naked Emma.

“Wow, you’re pretty jumpy in the morning.”

Regina huffed and smacked her girlfriend on the arm.

“You creep, I thought you were taking Henry to Ashley’s?”

“Yeah, I did. I used the key you gave me.”

“That was in case of emergency, not to sneak up on me in the shower.”

Emma wrapped her arms around her and pulled her closer. Unable to control herself, Regina did the same.

“I’m trying to keep our relationship spontaneous,” Emma teased, at which Regina rolled her eyes.

“We’ve been dating two days. If we’re already losing our spontaneity we may as well get ourselves a pair of rocking chairs.”

“Today is our third full day of dating and I can honestly say they have been anything but boring,” Emma assured her. “But rocking chairs is actually a good idea. We should look into that when we move in together.”

“When?” Regina questioned. “That’s very presumptuous of you.”

 Emma laughed and shook her head.

“Nope just realistic. Anyway, you can’t talk about being presumptious after giving me key to your apartment.”

“That’s practical,” Regina argued. “What if Henry leaves something here?”

“Okay, lets not talk about my son when we’re in this situation.”

It was then Regina fully realised what kind of situation she and Emma were in.

“You’re naked in my shower.”

“Yes, I am,” Emma nodded.

“And we agreed, no sex…”

“Until the case is over, yes I know,” Emma teased, moving in to place a quick kiss on her nose. A not so distant memory came to mind and Regina couldn’t help bursting out laughing.

“Hey, what’s so funny?” Emma askes, confused. Regina tried to compose herself enough to talk.

“I got a flashback to when you made out with my nose.”

Emma’s cheeks reddened with embarrassment.

“I was aiming for your mouth and I would have got away with it too if it wasn’t for that fancy wine.”

“Whatever you say, dear,” Regina carried on laughing, making Emma pout.

“Hey, don’t laugh! It’s actually quite tragic. We could have gotten together so much sooner.”

“Or I’d have slapped you for drunken kissing me and we’d have never gotten together at all?” Regina countered, Emma’s eyes widening in horror.

“Oh no. Okay, maybe the nose kiss wasn’t so bad. Let’s get on with our shower so we aren’t late for court.”

“Just what I was thinking, Miss Swan,” Regina agreed. “Now keep your hands to yourself.”

“That’s not what you said last night,” Emma smirked, earning another slap on the arm. “Ow!” Okay, we can shower. Jeez.”

Regina shook her head before leaning in to place a kiss on Emma’s nose.

“What am I going to do with you, Emma Swan?”

“I can think of a few things…” Emma trailed off before leaning in and kissing the brunette deeply.

“Oh for fuck sake.”

In the process of buttoning up her shirt, Regina looked over to her girlfriend, who was laid on her bed fully dressed and glaring at her phone screen.

“What’s wrong? Is it Henry?”

“No, Mal has pulled a quick one again,” Emma huffed. “Apparently her witnesses simply had to testify today and Judge George has agreed.”

Regina rolled her eyes. Typical Mal to ruin a great morning.

“Which one’s up first?”

“Killian Jones,” Emma said with a grimace.

“I take it you know this individual?” Regina questioned, to which Emma nodded glumly, sitting up to speak to her properly.

“He’s the janitor at the community centre and he always hits on me in a really creepy way. He’s asked me out more times than I can count and even though I’ve expressly told him to leave me alone, he won’t. I told Mary-Margaret to fire him but she says I’m being too picky and should give him a chance. But he’s so awful and just eww. He scares Henry too which is always a red flag.”

Regina rolled her eyes. Typical Mary-Margaret.

“Well he says anything to you in my presence, he’ll be dealing with me.”

Emma laughed, getting to her feet and approaching Regina. She picked the neatly ironed blazer up off the bed and helped the brunette into it.

“Don’t worry, I feel very safe with my panda bear by my side.”

“We talked about that nickname,” Regina reminded her and Emma held her hands up defensively.

“Hey, pandas can be pretty vicious. They are wild bears, after all.”

Regina rolled her eyes again, playfully this time.

“Come on, we’re going to be late.”

 

Killian Jones looked like he had just stumbled out of a dive bar and totally listened to obscure punk in his spare time, which he’d no doubt believe that made him better than everyone else. Though her father had actively taught her the life lesson of not judging a book by its cover, Regina decided she hated him from first glance.

As the bailiff lead him to the witness box, he looked to Emma and winked at her. Regina was about to jump across the desk and punch him in the face but she didn’t think that would help anything.

Regina was currently sat in between David and Mary-Margaret, who despite both her and Emma emphasising how bad it looked refused to sit next to each other. It was awkward but she was too busy watching eye-liner guy (seriously, what jerk wears that make up like that to court?) ogle her girlfriend to care.

The clerk swore him in and Mal got up to begin her questions.

“Mr Jones, can you please tell the court where you work.”

“I work as a janitor at the community centre,” he replied in what sounded like a British accent but wasn’t quite right before pointing to Mary-Margaret and David. “They are my bosses.”

“Do you confirm you are gesturing to Miss Blanchard and Mr Nolan?”

“Aye, I do,” Mr Jones nodded and looked pretty stupid doing so.

“So you have been around the building when the youth club is in session.”

“Aye”, he replied. “I’m always there. The little shits break everything.”

Mr Jones clearly thought he was funny but nobody else seemed to find it funny, certainly not Regina. She was glad Emma hadn’t agreed to go out with him, bar the obvious reason. Emma and Henry deserved a lot better than her, they deserved the world. But this man clearly had an ego the size of the Atlantic and the thought of him being around Henry after making that statement made her feel physically sick.

Mal didn’t look too happy about his statement either, most likely because it didn’t make one of her precious witnesses look bad. Still, she carried on her questioning.

“And did you know Nicholas Hansel and John Darling?”

“I knew them both. The lads always break things. Those particular lads always hang around together with two blonde girls, I think they are their sisters.”

“And theses sisters, did they get along?”

“Objection,” Emma jumped in. “Relevance!”

“Over-ruled, Miss Swan,” Judge George said with a clear lack of interest. “Answer the question, Mr Jones.”

“Aye, they were always together.”

“What about John Darling? Did he get along with Nicholas’s sister, Ava?”

At that Mr Jones laughed.

“Definitely not. The day before the fight, the Darling Lad and the Hansel lass were in the corridor were my office is. I had the door propped open and I could hear them shouting.”

“And what were they arguing about?”

“I’d been at a gig the night before and my ears were still ringing so I didn’t hear exactly what they were saying,” he admitted, pulling at his pierced earlobe in indication. “But those two arguing a day before her brother beat down on the Darling lad can’t be a coincidence.”

“And did you tell either Miss Blanchard or Mr Nolan about this?”

“Aye,” Mr Jones nodded. “I told Miss Blanchard and she said she’d talk to the Hansel lass about it. If she’d only talked to the Darling lad she’d have known something was up but everyone seems to think the girls are automatically the victim.”

Regina looked to Emma, expecting her to objectify. Yet the blonde stayed in her seat, nether pleased or displeased with the answer.

“No further questions, your honour,” Mal said and returned to her seat as Emma rose from hers. Mr Jones smiled when he noticed her approach the bench which made Regina’s stomach clench.

“Mr Jones, do you have a good relationship with Miss Blanchard and Mr Nolan?”

“Call me Killian, love,” he tried to charm but only came across as a creep. “And I guess so. David is a decent guy and Mary-Margaret said she’d put a good word in with you about me so she’s clearly has good taste.”

Regina glanced over to Mal, who was watching the scene before her with much enjoyment.

“Would you say, in your opinion, that both had the best attentions of all the children in their care at heart?”

“David, sure. He’s a decent guy. Mary-Margaret didn’t like the lads that were rough, liked the more feminine ones. As for myself, I love kids,” he looked Emma up and down hungrily. “I’d be great father material.”

Judge George cleared his throat at that.

“Mr Jones, please answer the questions put before you and do so formally.”

Regina was glad the judge said something before she was unable to stop herself. She couldn’t bear any of it. Emma, meanwhile, remained professional and didn’t even falter.

“So you also had a good relationship with the kids?”

“I’m not a paedophile,” he said defensively.

“I didn’t mean romantically, Mr Jones,” Emma corrected. “I meant did you talk to them? Were you pleasant?”

“I guess,” he shrugged before that crude smile returned to his lips. “You know I’m quite charming.”

Regina’s instinct was to take Emma and get as far away from that man as they could. But, trapped between Thing 1 and Thing 2, all she could do was watch.

Emma moved back and took two pieces of paper from one of her files. She handed one to the Judge and one to Mr Jones.

“I’d like to submit into evidence the complaint log kept by Miss Blanchard and Mr Nolan regarding the youth club.”

“Objection,” Mal shot up. “We didn’t know about this!”

“I didn’t have it till this weekend,” Emma responded. “And, since you decided to swap our witnesses around at the last minute, I didn’t have the time to submit it into evidence.”

“I’ll allow it,” Judge George ruled, reading the evidence with interest.

“Mr Jones, at the top it says page one of how many?”

“Twenty-three,” he replied.

“Twenty-three pages,” Emma repeated. “All complaints about you. According to most of these complaints from parents, you are verbally abusive to the kids of all ages and terrified a young boy to the point where he’d wet the bed thinking you were waiting outside his room. In fact, Mr Nolan and Miss Blanchard told you to stay away from the youth club activities or else they’d be forced to let you go. Is that true, Mr Jones?”

“Oh come on, Emma,” he laughed. “Kids are pussies. You know me. I’m your fucking prince charming.”

Judge George banged his gavel heavily.

“I’ve had enough of your crude manner, Mr Jones. I am forced to find you in contempt of court. Take him out of my court and out of my sight!”

The bailiff took Mr Jones away, who continued to shout for Emma.

“Love, tell them its okay. You understand my charm. No one else understands us!”

Regina got to her feet but Emma held her hand up, telling her to leave it.

“Your honour, I’d like to request a short recess,” Emma said, her professional façade still firmly in place.

“I couldn’t agree more, Miss Swan,” Judge George nodded. “Court will resume in twenty minutes.”

As soon as the gavel hit the wood, Emma darted out of the court room. Regina moved swiftly after her, ignoring the protests from David. She followed Emma to the bathroom, catching up with her there and taking her hand.

Leading Emma into a cubical, she closed the door and locked it for good measure. Regina turned round to look at Emma, who instantly ran into her arms, tears falling down her cheeks.

“Shh, it’s okay. It’s over,” Regina spoke softly, wrapping her arms around her girlfriends trembling frame.

“I feel so disgusting,” Emma sobbed. “His words, his looks, they made me feel dirty and disgusting. In front of all those people too.”

“You have no reason to be ashamed,” Regina told her sternly. “He looked like a disgusting, dirty, ignorant, nasty fucking bastard. You did better than I could have done, Emma. You were so strong.”

Emma nuzzled her face into Regina neck.

“I don’t feel very strong,” she admitted. Regina sighed and rubbed circles into her back.

“Is there any way I can help?”

“Just hold me and don’t let go,” Emma replied and Regina did. She’d never not.

Chapter Text

Emma had gone back in to talk to David and Mary-Margaret, leaving Regina with the responsibility of getting bottles of water out of the vending machine. It was all going well until the machine refused to take her $10 bill.

“Come on,” Regina huffed. “Stupid machine, I’ll rip out your mechanical heart.”

“Hey, machines have feelings too you know.”

Regina looked round and saw a blond man had approached her.

“No they don’t,” Regina sassed. “They are inanimate objects.”

The man just laughed and stepped closer.

“Well this one is certainly not happy with you. Let me have a look.”

Regina stepped aside and watched as the man studied the machine for a few moments before slamming his fist against it.

“Try it now,” he said, stepping back to allow her access. Regina moved back and tried to insert the money once more. Finally the machine accepted it and the water bottles began to fall.

“Thank you,” Regina smiled, instantly ducking down to get all the bottles.

“No problem,” he replied and once she’d stood back up, he held out his hand. “I’m Robin.”

Regina was about to shake his hand before the penny dropped.

“Robin Locksley?”

The blond man laughed again.

“How did you know?”

Regina didn’t know what to do so just awkwardly ran away, clutching the water bottles close to her chest. She ran through to the court room and as soon as Emma saw her, she burst out laughing.

“What on earth are you doing?”

Regina dropped the bottles on the table and ran a hand threw her hair in panic.

“I think I just fraternised with a witness.”

Emma raised her eyebrow, smirking in amusement.

“I leave you for two minutes and you’re fraternising?” she teased. “I knew you’d be trouble.”

“Emma, this is not funny,” Regina huffed. “If Mal finds this out, we’re toast.”

“Toast? Really Regina?”

Emma.”

“Okay, okay,” Emma held up her hands. “I’ll stop. Tell me what happened.”

Regina told her what happened and as soon as she’d finished, Emma burst out laughing again.

Emma.”

“I’m sorry, babe,” Emma said through her laughter. “It’s just from what you’ve told me, it was a pretty casual interaction. Unless you think he did it flintily if so I’ll kick his ass.”

“That’s the thing, I can never tell when guys flirt with me.”

Emma was clearly trying not to laugh at her again.

“Don’t worry about it, babe. He helped you get some water, that’s all. And if Mal makes a big deal out of it I’ll put her in her place.”

Regina nodded, smiling at her girlfriend gratefully before looking around the court room.

“Where is the dragon lady anyway?”

“No idea,” Emma shrugged. “She wasn’t in here when I came back.”

“Probably planning another of her evil schemes. Any more thought as to why she might have asked Mr Locksley to testify.”

“No idea,” Emma replied. “He’s only a parent, his son goes to the same kids club as Henry. What about you?”

“I’ve got nothing. Did you ask David and Mary-Margaret?”

Emma sighed and slapped a hand to her forehead.

“I’m so stupid! I thought we’d have more time to prepare so I only got to ask David this morning. Damn, I knew I forgot something. Hey, Mary-Margaret!”

Mary-Margaret turned to them but before Emma could ask the question, Judge George walked in.

“Where is Miss Ficent?”

“Here your honour,” Mal called rushing into the room to her seat.

“Miss Swan, Miss Mills, please take your seat.”

Emma huffed and moved to sit down.

“Don’t worry,” Regina assured her with a light hand on her shoulder. “I’ll ask her.”

“Miss Mills,” Judge George huffed. “I’m not in the mood. Please sit down.”

Regina did how she was told, trying to ignore Mal’s smirk. Judge George, however, did not.

“And I’d wipe that smile off your face, Miss Ficent. After all, it was your witness that put me in this foul mood. We’ll be talking about that once the court abjures for the day. Now call up your next witness.”

Mal cleared her throat and stood up.

“The prosecution calls Robin Locksley, your honour.”

The bailiff escorted Mr Locksley to the witness box and as soon as he saw her, he frowned. Regina looked down to avoid his gaze. He must think she was crazy. To distract herself while the clerk swore him in, she wrote a message on her notebook for Mary-Margaret.

Do you have any idea why Mr Locksley is testifying against you?

Mary-Margaret squinted at the writing before taking the pen from Regina and replying.

I can’t read your handwriting.

Regina rolled her eyes. Sure her handwriting was rough but it was perfectly readable. She just drew two lines underneath it, prompting the other woman to look again.

“Mr Locksley, how do you know Mr Nolan and Miss Blanchard?”

“I know them from their community centre. They put on a kids club during the day for children below school age. My son Roland attends.”

Mary-Margaret put two lines under her first reply.

Regina sighed and wrote the question out in clear capital letters.

 “You’re a single parent aren’t you?”

Mr Locksley looked to passed Mal to Regina and nodded.

“My wife died when Roland was a baby.”

Emma noticed this and instantly got up.

“Objection, You Honour. As much as it’s very nice getting to know Mr Locksley, this information about his personal life is hardly relevant.”

“Your Honour, I’m giving the court some context, is all,” Mal quickly argued. “But if Miss Swan wishes, I’ll hurry it up a little.”

Regina looked back to Mary-Margaret, whose eyes were wide with horror.

“Sustained, Miss Swan. Get on with it, Miss Ficent.”

Even from the back, Regina could tell Mal was smirking.

“And why did you stop sending your son to these kids clubs?”

“He was being bullied,” Mr Locksley said with anger in his eyes. “He was being bullied and Miss Blanchard refused to even acknowledge it.”

Regina sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose. Brilliant. She glanced over at David and Emma, both their faces like thunder.

“And why was that, Mr Locksley?” Mal continued to question.

“Because apparently she was ‘sure my son was mistaken’ as this boy was ‘the loveliest child’,” he replied bitterly.

Mal paused for a beat before asking her next question.

“And what was this boy’s name, Mr Locksley?”

“Henry Swan,” he replied and Regina’s stomach dropped. She quickly looked to Emma, who had frozen with eyes wide.

“No further questions, Your Honour,” Mal said, moving back to her chair with a smile on her face.

Regina reached behind David to rest a comforting hand on her back but as soon as she touched her, Emma jumped from her seat.

“Your Honour, May I please pass over to my second chair and leave the room. I don’t think I can do my job affectively when the subject is about my son.”

Mr Locksley glared at her like she was scum of the earth and Mal seemed to find it all incredibly amusing. The Judge may have been in a bad mood but he agreed with a nod. As soon as he agreed, Emma left the courtroom.

“Does the defence have any questions, Miss Mills?”

“Yes, Your Honour,” Regina nodded, getting to her feet yet remained behind the table.

“Mr Locksley, I’m sorry to hear about this. The thought of children doing that to each other is a thought I hate to loiter on.”

“Thank you,” he replied with a light smile.

“Was it your son who confided in you about his bullying or did you find out from someone else?”

“My son told me.”

“That’s very brave of him,” Regina complimented. “So once your complaint was ignored by Miss Blanchard, did you speak to anyone else about this?”

“No one at the kids club,” Mr Locksley told her. “I didn’t mingle with the parents much.”

“I’m not much of mingler either,” Regina responded and before she could continue, Mal got to her feet.

“Your Honour, Miss Mills is clearly manipulating both the witness and the jury.”

“How so?” Judge George questioned, causing Mal to falter.

“Well with her charm, Your Honour.”

“Miss Ficent,” Judge George sighed. “Miss Mills cannot help being a pleasant person, a quality both you and Miss Swan have been void of for most of these proceedings. Over-ruled. Carry on, Miss Mills.”

“Thank you, Your Honour,” Regina smiled sweetly at him before looking back to Mr Locksley. “Why didn’t you speak to Mr Nolan about this?”

“I didn’t see much point,” he shrugged. “I just wanted Roland out of there.”

“That is understandable,” Regina nodded. “But, in your opinion, was Mr Nolan fair when dealing with other parent complaints of this kind?”

“I’d heard he was really efficient,” Mr Locksley replied. “In fact I was looking for him to make the complaint to but I ended up catching Miss Blanchard first.”

“Thank you, Mr Locksley,” Regina smiled. “No further questions, You Honour.”

“Thank you, Miss Mills,” Judge George said, glowering out across the room. “Thank you for showing everyone how to properly handle the questioning of a witness. Today has been nothing more than a showcase of terrible court conduct and so I am postponing court for the rest of today and tomorrow. I hope that all parties involved take the time to reflect on how they could do better.”

As soon as everyone began to disperse, David was out of the room. Regina reached for her bag only for Mary-Margaret to pull it out of the way.

“What was that about?!” she demanded. “Your job is to make us both look innocent not just him.”

“Yes well I can’t do that when you actively throw yourself under the bus,” Regina snapped, pulled her handbag out of Mary-Margaret’s grasp. “How could you not tell us about this? How could you not tell Emma?”

“How did you…”

“I have eyes. I saw the guilt on your face and the surprise on hers. You know what, I can’t even look at you anymore. Buck up your ideas or I’ll be talking to Emma about splitting the pleas. I’m sure the Darlings have very little interest in David and would happily accept you laid out on a plate.”

“You can’t say stuff like that,” Mary-Margaret cried. “You’re my lawyer.”

“That doesn’t change the fact that you are an insufferable idiot.”

With that, Regina stormed out, only to have Mal right on her tail.

“Regina, why don’t we go have that drink now?” she suggested once she’d caught up with her.

“Not now, Mal,” Regina snapped, increasing her pace and shaking her off once they reached the crowd in the corridor outside.

Regina made a quick B-line for the main doors and was so preoccupied in meeting her target that she didn’t notice Mr Locksley, walking straight into him.

“I’m so sorry,” she quickly apologised. “I wasn’t concentrating.”

“No worries,” he assured her. “Thanks for that in there, by the way. It meant a lot that you acknowledged my son’s pain and bravery.”

“No problem,” she smiled. “Now sorry to be rude but I have to jet off.”

“Busy lawyer life, I understand,” Mr Locksley nodded before getting his phone out of his pocket. “Can I have your number? Maybe we could go out for drinks or dinner sometime?”

So he was flirting, Regina mentally noted.

“I’m sorry, I’m super busy with work and my girlfriend…”

As soon as she said that, he held his hands up.

“Okay, that’s fine. Sorry, I just don’t meet women like you…well ever. I shouldn’t have jumped the gun like that.”

“No worries,” Regina assured him, holding out her hand. “It was a pleasure to meet you, Mr Locksley.”

He eagerly took her hand and shook it.

“The pleasure was all mine, seriously. If this girl of yours is ever stupid enough to let you go, come find me and I’ll make you the happiest woman alive.”

Regina just nodded awkwardly before rushing away in hope to catch Emma. Unfortunately by the time she got out of the building and made it to the street, neither her girlfriend nor the yellow monstrosity was in sight.

“Shit,” she cursed, her mind racing on what was best to do. “Shit, shit, shit.”

A car horn behind her caused her to jump. She looked round and saw David pulling up beside her with the window down.

“Jump in,” he told her. “I know where she’s going.”

Regina didn’t think twice before getting the vehicle and telling David to be as quick as he could.

Emma needed her and it couldn’t wait a second more.

Chapter Text

As soon as they turned the corner, Regina spotted them. Henry was stood on the roof of the bug standing off with his mother who was stood on the sidewalk with her arms folded.

David pulled up behind them and Regina jumped out, darting to Emma’s side.

“What’s happening?”

“He refuses to come down,” Emma huffed, causing Henry to stomp his foot hard on the roof of the car.

“She’s mean!”

“You stomp your foot on the bug one more time and Regina will take the book away.”

Henry looked at Regina with hurt in his eyes. It was a sight she hoped she’d never see again. Shaking her head, she put a hand on Emma’s shoulder.

“Let me sort this out. David wants to speak to you.”

Emma shot Henry a warning look before walking away. Regina stood before the young boy, hands on hips.

“Get down.”

Henry stuck his tongue out at her. All Regina had to do was raise his eyebrows and Henry slid down to sit on the bonnet, folding his little legs and looked at her innocently.

“Okay Henry, I want you to be honest with me. And remember I’m a lawyer so I know when you’re lying.”

“Mommy is a lawyer and she doesn’t know when I’m lying,” Henry quickly countered, making Regina smirk.

“That’s what you think.”

Henry’s eyes widened.

“So she knows that I steal from her candy stash?”

“Why do you think all your favourite candy is in there?”

Regina was totally playing by ear but Henry seemed to believe every word.

“Okay, I guess I should tell the truth then.”

“You should,” Regina nodded. “So tell me about this bullying accusation?”

“What’s an accusation?” Henry frowned.

“It’s when someone has said you have done or said something that is not yet proven either true or false.”

“Oh okay,” he nodded in understanding. “If I tell you, you can’t tell anyone else, okay?”

“Well Henry I’ll have to tell your mother,” Regina told him, wanting to be honest with him. Henry huffed before nodding.

“Okay, I understand. I’ll still tell you.”

Regina smiled to him softly, waiting expectantly for his explanation.

“I’m not the one being mean to Roland,” he told her. “He’s my friend and being a bully is bad. It was another boy who is mean to him because he’s small. Roland was really upset and said his daddy kept asking him if he was okay. The mean boy told him if he told anyone he was the one bullying him, he’d hurt him even more. He told me though and I said that he could say it was me. I thought that if his daddy complained and Mommy asked me if it was true, I could tell her who the bully really was. Roland was too scared to tell anyone himself. None of the grown-ups said anything and then Roland left.”

Henry looked down to his lap sadly.

“I miss him lots.”

Regina stared at him, taken aback by what she had been told. Henry certainly had morals above his years.

“Is that the truth?” she asked despite already knowing the answer.

“Yes,” Henry nodded insistently. “Regina, should I always tell the truth?”

“When it comes to serious stuff like this, yes you should.”

“But should I always tell the truth? Do you always tell the truth?”

“Yes,” Regina lied. “I always do. I’m going to go talk to your Mommy now so stay there, okay?”

Henry nodded and Regina walked back towards the blonde. He would one day know she lied when he was old enough to realise she lied as a career. Yet that day was far in the future and she may not even be in his life when it came, though she had her hopes.

When Emma saw her approaching, she stepped away from David and moved to meet her.

“Did you get anything out of him?”

Regina recounted what Henry had told her and Emma listened intently, looking just as surprised as she herself had been.

“Holy shit.”

“My thoughts exactly,” Regina agreed. “What are you going to do?”

“Go hug my son,” Emma smiled before running over picking Henry up from the car bonnet, holding him close to her chest. The sound of them both laughing warmed Regina’s heart and the sweet kiss Emma pressed on his forehead was especially touching.

“I’m sorry I shouted,” she heard Emma say to him.

“It’s okay, Mommy,” Henry replied. Emma put him down and kneeled so she could talk to him properly.

“Next time this happens, you just tell me, okay? I know Roland is your friend and what you did was very admirable but the best way to help your friends is to tell me so I can deal with it.”

“Okay, Mommy,” Henry nodded.

“Now we are going to have to talk about this more later on but for now, David is going to look after you while Regina and I go somewhere, alright?”

“Yes, Mommy,” he nodded again. They shared a high five before Emma got to her feet and handed her son over to David.

“I’ll call you when we’re back.”

“No problem,” David assured her before picking Henry up and putting him on his shoulders, “Come on, buddy. Let’s go play some video games.”

“Yay!” Henry clapped, completely forgetting Emma and Regina’s presence as he was taken across the street to the opposite apartment building.

“Where are we going?” Regina asked once they’d gone.

“Gus called to say Joanie is all fixed up and we can go get her.”

Regina smiled at that. She’d missed her car.

“Great, I’m guessing you know the way?”

“Sure, it’s just round the block,” Emma replied. “We can walk it.”

The pair only managed a few steps before Emma reached for Regina’s hand, entangling their fingers and touching palms. They walked in silence for a while, enjoying the good weather of the day. Until a thought popped into Regina’s mind that she felt she should voice.

“I was right about Mr Locksley.”

“I’m sorry?” Emma frowned in confusion.

“That he was flirting with me,” Regina clarified. “He asked me if I wanted to get a drink or dinner sometime. I told him no, of course.”

“Wow, first Mal and now Mr Locksley,” Emma teased. “I certainly have some competition.”

Regina couldn’t help but laugh.

“My ex and a random guy who helped me with the vending machine? Emma, you have no competition there. You have no competition, period.”

“I don’t?”

“Of course not you ridiculous woman,” Regina rolled her eyes. “I’m only interested in you.”

“Great,” Emma grinned from ear to ear. “The same goes for me too.”

They were both still smiling when they reached the garage. Regina was happy to see her car ready and waiting to go. Gus came out with a clipboard and greeted them with a smile.

“Hey, guys. She’s all ready to go. Just need you to sign here, Miss Mills.”

“Please, call me Regina,” she insisted, taking the clipboard and scanning the form. There was the information Emma had written down in her chicken scratch handwriting with various other things to do with the repairs and such. Near the bottom was the amount the repairs cost and next to it, the box marked ‘paid’ was ticked. “I’m sorry, this must be a mistake. I haven’t paid yet.”

“No, a Mrs Cora Mills wrote us a check to cover the cost and a very generous tip,” Gus replied. “I even got to treat Ruby to a new pair of shoes with it and had enough left for dinner.”

“How the hell did she know about this?” Emma frowned. “Did you tell her?”

“No but I’m sure Ruby did,” Regina sighed, not surprised at all. Despite already having enough money to comfortably retire, her mother still insisted on paying things for her. This was a bit more than she’d usually pay off but reading her mother’s actions were near enough impossible.

Still, she sighed on the dotted line and handed the clipboard back to Gus.

“Thank you, Regina. Mrs Mills has the receipt if you ever need it. Here are your keys and safe driving.”

Regina took them gratefully, glad to have both them and her car back in her possession.

She and Emma jumped in and Regina started up the engine, the sound much healthier than before.

“Let’s take her for a drive,” Emma quickly suggested. “Joanie has been cooped up too long.”

“Where do you suggest we go?” Regina asked, expecting her girlfriend to say the beach or out into the country. But no, Emma Swan was not that predictable.

“Let’s go see your sister.”

Regina instantly tensed.

“That’s not a good idea.”

“No, it is,” Emma insisted. “I googled it and its pretty close. Plus they have visitation today and we’ll make it easy.”

“How do you even know where my sister is being held?” Regina questioned, to which Emma pretended to zip up her mouth.

“A magician never reveals her tricks.”

“Mother told you.”

“Maybe a little.”

Regina rolled her eyes.

“Oh come on,” Emma whined. “I want to meet her and I want to see her.”

“She doesn’t want to see me,” Regina told her.

“Yes, she does.”

Regina sighed and turned the engine off.

“No, it’s not happening,” she said, leaning back and folding her arms.

Now it was Emma’s turn to roll her eyes.

“Don’t cat like a baby, Regina. Stop being chicken and go see your sister.”

“I am not a chicken,” Regina huffed, only for Emma to make chicken noises at her. “Okay then, let’s go. Let’s see who’s right.”

As she turned the engine back on, Regina tried to ignore her girlfriends victorious grin.

Chapter Text

The prison had a small parking lot for the guards and for visitors. There were numerous cars parked there already but it wasn’t hard for Regina to find a space. Her car had gotten them there with no trouble what so ever. When Emma got out the car she fondly patted the roof.

“Good girl, Joanie.”

Regina rolled her eyes and locked the car.

“I will admit, I’ve missed the old girl.”

“Same here,” Emma nodded. “Come on let’s get in there.”

Emma started walking towards the building but Regina didn’t move, the nerves suddenly hitting her at full force. It didn’t take long for her girlfriend to realise she wasn’t following and made her way back.

“What’s up?”

“I don’t think I can do this,” Regina told her.

“Sure you can,” Emma encouraged her. “You only have to walk through a few doors and sit down.”

“I just can’t. Let’s go to the beach instead.”

Regina reached for her keys but Emma grabbed them and stuffed them in her bra.

“Nope, we’re not going anywhere. It’s either go in there or stand out here till it gets dark.”

Emma!”

“Regina!”

“Ughhhhhhhhhhhh.”

Regina folded her arms and sulked. Emma left her for a few minutes before holding out her hand to her.

“Come on, I’ll lead you there.”

Regina looked at the hand reluctantly and Emma sighed.

“Look, has anything bad ever happened when you’re holding my hand?”

“No, but we’ve only been holding hands a few days so I don’t think we have enough evidence to support that theory.”

Regina mentally kicked herself. What the hell was that mess of words?

“Well then let’s do another test,” Emma suggested, wiggling her fingers encouragingly.

Regina pondered for a few moments before giving in and taking her hand. Emma led her towards the building and joined the short line waiting to sign in for visitation. While the waited, she began to feel tense. Emma must have noticed as she gave her hand an encouraging squeeze.

“I know this is scary,” she told her quietly. “But once this is over, you’ll thank me. I promise.”

She was a little sceptical of that but Regina said nothing. Zelena was going to be mad at her, deservedly so. Sure this day would have happened eventually but she hadn’t prepared for it to happen so soon and so spontaneously. They hadn’t spoken in years and it was even weird to think how close they were to each other now, soon to be face to face.

Once they reached the front of the line, the guard handed a clipboard over to them.

“Who are you here to see?”

“Zelena Mills,” Emma answered, signing her name before handing the pen to Regina, who wrote her name with a shaky hand.

“Go through and take a seat. The inmate will be there shortly. After that you’ll get twenty minutes.”

Emma led her through to the visitation room and sat them down at one of the tables. There were a good number of people already waiting. The prison itself seemed a lot more laid back than Regina had expected. It was low security but she expected more iron bars than light coloured walls.

“You still nervous?” Emma asked and Regina nodded.

“Very much so.”

“Yeah, so am I.”

“You are?” Regina frowned. “How come?”

“I’m meeting your sister for the first time. I want to make a good impression.”

Regina smiled and kissed her cheek, making the blonde blush.

Inmates started coming through, greeting their visitors with hugs before sitting down to make the most of their allocated time. A few more women walked out and then Zelena appeared.

She looked older, understandable as all Regina had seen of her in years were outdated photographs. Besides looking slightly more slender than she remembered, her sister looked well. Surprised, but well.

Regina nervously got to her feet as Zelena approached, Emma doing the same. For a moment, she was sure Zelena was going to hit her but was taken aback (quite literally) when her sister ran the last few feet and threw her arms around her.

“My baby sister!”

Once the initial shock wore off, Regina hugged her sister back tight and began crying uncontrollably.  

“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”

“It’s okay,” Zelena spoke softly. “I understand and I forgive you. I’m just glad you’re here now.”

The moment was then ruined by a prison guard approaching.

“That’s enough physical contact.”

Reluctantly, they parted and all sat down. Emma instantly held out her hand to the redhead.

“I’m Emma Swan,” she blurted out, making both Mills sisters chuckle.

“I wish I could shake your hand, Emma, but I’m not allowed to touch either of you until our times up,” Zelena explained. “Prison rules.”

“Oh,” Emma said, slightly embarrassed. “Let’s pretend we did.”

“Sounds like a plan,” Zelena nodded. “I’ve heard much about you already, Emma. I hear my sister is quite smitten with you.”

Regina shook her head in disbelief.

“Mother.”

“She’s very excited about you finally dating again,” Zelena laughed. “I guess I have that to look forward to when I get out.”

“I think it’s sweet,” Emma shrugged. “She wants Regina to be happy.”

“Yes, it is sweet,” Zelena agreed.

“But Mother just so happens to be borderline sociopathic,” Regina finished, making her sister laugh again.

“Has she threatened you yet?” Zelena asked Emma, who looked straight to Regina. The brunette laughed and answered for her.

“She did,” Regina confirmed. “She said she’d kill her if she cheated on me.”

“Oh, Mother must like her then.”

“Like me?” Emma frowned. “She said she’d kill me!”

Regina and Zelena shared amused looks.

“I dated a guy in my junior year of high school who was a senior,” Zelena began. “He’d got this really rare vintage car for his birthday and he would have died for the thing. Honestly, I had to take my shoes off before getting inside. Anyway, when I told Mother we were dating, she told him if he hurt me, she’d take away everything he loved. Yeah, pretty intense, right? So we dated for a while and then he cheated on me with the head cheerleader. When I found out, I ran home crying and Mother just so happened to be working from home that day and saw the state I was in. Next day at school I see him getting off the school bus. Turns out some thugs took his car for a joyride and beat it up bad. The cheerleader dumped him and he had to get a job to pay for the extensive repairs.”

“What, and you think she did it?” Emma gasped with wide eyes.

“Oh certainly,” Zelena nodded. “Regina, tell Emma about what she did to that Daniella girl.”

Though she noted Emma was quite shaken up by Zelena’s story, Regina noticed it had also peaked the blonde’s interest. So, with the encouraging gaze of her sister, she told the story.

“After Mary-Margaret’s big announcement about my sexuality, the daughter of my father’s close friend got my number. We’d met various times throughout our childhoods but hadn’t seen her in the time after I realised my sexual orientation. She was a keen horse-rider, like you know I was, and invited me to go riding with her. Soon enough, we dating. I liked her a lot and honestly, if we’d had lasted more than a few weeks then I probably would have fallen head over heels in love with her. But then we were out riding and we got into a heated argument. Daniella pushed me and I fell straight off the horse, breaking my leg, arm, and if I’d have hit the ground any differently, I could have broken my back. Mother was outraged and, despite my protests, inflicted revenge. Daniella was due to start an internship at a ranch down in upstate New York, infamous for training elite equestrians and breeding the finest horses north of the Mississippi. One call from Mother and they declined her internship.”

“Poor girl,” Emma said sympathetically. “What happened to her?”

“Oh she’s fine,” Regina assured her. “She has her own stables and I go riding with her sometimes. No hard feelings between us.”

At that, the blonde raised her eyebrows.

“You do?”

 “They used to do more than riding during those visits,” Zelena teased, earning a glare from her sister.

“That was a long time ago and I haven’t seen her in over a year,” Regina quickly stated. “She got married to a wonderful woman and they are very happy.”

“Oh yeah,” Zelena remembered. “Mother told me. I was surprised she didn’t stop the wedding for you.”

“Daniella and I are friends. Lines may have been blurred a number of times but we were never compatible enough for anything more,” Regina clarified, noticing Emma relax. She didn’t know why it bothered her girlfriend so much. After all, she’d made it very clear her eyes were only for her. Still this wasn’t the time for analysing Emma’s insecurities. “She could have been quite the athlete if she’d had that internship. I still can’t believe mother would do such a thing.”

At that, Zelena scoffed.

“Do you not know our mother? She’s an axe murder away from an institution.”

Regina laughed at that but quickly changed the subject.

“So how is it in here?”

“Boring, sometimes violent but no one touches me so I just ignore it,” Zelena shrugged it off. “What about you? I hear you are on a case against Mal?”

“Yes, it’s a pretty close call,” Regina admitted. “But Emma and I are up to the challenge.”

“I’m betting it will be a challenge defending Little Miss Perfect. I don’t know which one is worse. Wait, no Mal is definitely worse. The Smug bitch, I wish I could be in that courtroom when you crush her.”

“She could crush us,” Regina countered but Zelena shook her head.

“Mother wouldn’t let that happen.”

“Mother can’t control everything.”

Zelena nodded in agreement.

“Tell me about it.”

It was then that a guard approached the table.

“Times up, inmate.”

“Oh come on,” Zelena protested. “That can’t be twenty minutes already.”

The guard was in no way sympathetic.

“Inmate, say goodbye to your visitors or I’ll drag you to solitary.”

Zelena rolled her eyes and got to her feet, the other two women doing the same.

“I hope you’ll come again soon,” Zelena said to Regina, who nodded adamantly.

“As soon as I can, I’ll be back.”

“And bring Emma with you.”

“Wouldn’t miss it,” Emma said with a firm nod.

Zelena looked between them and smiled, pulling them both into a hug.

“I’m so happy for you both but if there is a wedding you’d better wait till I’m out of here. Maid of Honour is my job.”

“I wouldn’t want it any other way,” Regina assured her, which was true. She wasn’t one to fantasise about weddings but in her head, her sister was always her Maid of Honour. They may not have always seen eye to eye over the years, but they were Mills and Mills stick together. She’d betrayed that once, never again.

 

Back at Regina’s apartment, Emma had barely managed to send a text to David saying they were back before the phone was discarded on an armchair.

Regina was laid on top of her, both still fully clothed but in the middle of a very heated make out session.

“Where’s all this come from?” Emma spoke breathlessly against her lips. Regina captured her lips again, sliding her tongue against the blonde’s before pulling away to answer.

“You’re amazing and I wish this case was over so I can show you how much.”

Emma laughed and leaned up to capture her lips again.

“I’ve been thinking the same thing,” she panted once she’d pulled away. “This time next week, hopefully it’ll all be over.”

Regina quickly pressed their lips together again. The thought alone made her burst with happiness. No more Mal, no more Mary-Margaret, and a hell of a lot more of Emma Swan.

They were then interrupted by an eager knock at the door and both women jumped up.

“How do I look?” Regina asked.

“Like you’ve been well and truly ravished,” Emma teased. “How about me?”

“More or less the same.”

Emma laughed, not caring that their appearances painted a picture of what they had just been doing. Regina decided to do the same and answered the door just as she was. As soon as the door opened, Henry rushed inside.

“Regina! Mommy! Pool!”

“Not so fast, Kid,” Emma quickly intercepted him and picked him up. “We’ll go in the pool soon, just let Mommy and Regina talk to David, okay?”

Henry wasn’t paying attention, instead, rubbing his little fingers against the smudged lipstick on Emma’s face.

“You been doing face paint, Mommy?”

Both women had to bite back a laugh. Regina swore she’d never known anything more adorable.

David appeared in the doorway, stood awkwardly with his hands in his pockets.

“Thanks again, David,” Emma smiled. “How was he?”

“He was great,” David replied with notable nervousness in his voice. “Once he got working on his puzzle, we barely heard a peep out of him.”

“We?” Emma frowned and David stepped aside to reveal Mary-Margaret. She was holding a large cardboard box in her hands that covered most of her face but Regina would know that pixie cut anywhere.

Emma instantly put Henry down.

“Go put on some cartoons, Kid,” she told him and like the good little boy he was, he ran along without question.

David quickly moved to stand between them.

“Right, before any arguments happen, Regina will you please just listen to what Mary-Margaret has to say.”

“I can’t believe you’re back on her side,” Emma said in outrage. “After what she did…”

“And I was wrong,” Mary-Margaret jumped in. “I’m so sorry, for all of it. I just want the chance to earn your friendship back, both of you.”

“Oh yeah?” Emma questioned sceptically. “And how do you think you’ll manage that?”

Mary-Margaret walked over to Regina and held out the box for her.

“Careful, its heavy.”

Regina frowned but too the box anyway. It was heavy, a little too heavy. She quickly moved to the kitchen island and placed it down on that. When she opened it up, she couldn’t help but gasp.

“Is this…”

“All the stuff I took from you,” Mary-Margaret nodded. “Most of it was back at D-my father’s house. I know a lot of it you’ll have now outgrown and not want anymore but I hope you’ll still get some joy out of them.”

Regina pulled out one of the trophies and ran her thumb over the place where her name had been scrapped away.

“Thanks,” she said, admiring the trophy with a smile. Placing it down on the counter, Regina headed to her bedroom and went to her closet. She retrieved the large jar covered in aged My Little Pony stickers and brought it back through to the living area, handing it over to Mary-Margaret.

The pixie haired woman opened the jar and her eyes instantly widened.

“Is this…”

“All the money your father gave me in exchange for my stuff. I never spent a dime of it.”

Mary-Margaret put the lid pack on and held it close to her chest.

“Thank you, Regina.”

Regina nodded before looking to her girlfriend, who was still shooting Mary-Margaret daggers.

“Emma?” she questioned, unknowingly triggering her rage to unleash.

“How DARE you not tell me about my son being accused of bullying! I’m his mother, I have a right to know!”

“I knew it was false so I didn’t want to worry you,” Mary-Margaret insisted. “If I thought there was any truth behind the allegation, I’d have said something.”

“Roland was being bullied! If you’d questioned Henry about it, you’d have known that!”

Mary-Margaret looked to David as he rested a supportive hand on her shoulder.

“I already discussed it with her,” David told them. “She deeply regrets her actions.”

“As she should,” Emma shot back.

“Emma,” Regina sighed.

“No Regina, I’m not having it. She doesn’t get to come in with a box of stuff and expect everything to be hunky-dory.”

“I’m not,” Mary-Margaret quickly jumped in. “I want to earn back your trust and friendship. I’ve behaved poorly and I can now truly see that.”

“Oh really?” Emma questioned. “How so?”

Mary-Margaret looked to David again and when he nodded encouragingly, she looked to Emma again.

“These last couple of days alone in my childhood home made me realise a lot of things. I’m not saying he was a bad father, but I know now that I was spoiled rotten. He was compensating for an absent mother but I think that the reason that I became so greedy was the fact that I could never fill that hole. It’s not an excuse but its what I believe happened. The reason being because as soon as I met David, that void disappeared and the material things stopped mattering as much. Being without him only proved that. What I also realised that I think too much about myself. Yes I do all the charity work, community work, volunteering. But I’m not as selfless as I think I am and I want to change that. The way I was raised, though with the best of intentions, didn’t make me a good person. But I want to become one, starting with earning back the relationships my selfishness has ruined. I’m only asking for a chance, Emma. And I promise you won’t be sorry.”

Emma pondered over it for a few moments before folding her arms.

“It’s up to Regina. You did the most wrong to her so she decides for both of us.”

All eyes landed on Regina. The chance of having Mary-Margaret out of her life was right in her hands, but it was not about her. It was about Emma and Henry and she knew deep down that Emma wanted to forgive her. So she made the call.

“You can try earn my forgiveness and in turn I will try to give it.”

Mary-Margaret smiled brightly, hugging the jar tightly.

“Thank you, Regina. Thank you so much.”

Regina just nodded in reply, not daring to look at Emma.

“We’d better get going,” David said. “We’ve got reservations in an hour.”

Regina saw them out, and closed the door behind them. It was then she looked to Emma, finding that she was staring at her with a blank expression. Awkwardly, she approached her.

“I know you may no…” she began but before she could get very far, Emma grabbed her by her collar and pulled her into a searing kiss. It was son hot and so intense that Regina had trouble coming to when Emma pulled away slightly.

“God you’re sexy when you’re compassionate.”

Regina laughed and swooped in to kiss her again.

 

“Henry’s all tucked in,” Emma announced as she entered Regina’s bedroom. “What you up to?”

Regina was sat cross legged on the bed with the box in front of her.

“Just looking at everything,” she said, rummaging through and pulling out the Beefeater teddy bear. “It’s so weird having it back.”

“But good, right?” Emma asked as she sat down on the bed next to her, reaching into the box herself.

“In a way,” Regina shrugged. “I mean don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to have it all back. But back then all this stuff was so precious and now it’s just…not.”

“You’ve grown up, it happens,” Emma told her, pulling out a small wooden box. Opening it up, she pulled out a long beaded necklace.

“Your grandmothers?”

“Yep,” Regina, nodding as Emma put it on for her. “This one is definitely nice to have back.”

“It suits you,” Emma smiled. “I bet you looked a lot like your grandmother. You know, since you don’t look much like your mom and Zelena.”

“My dad said I’m her spitting image,” Regina smiled warmly. “His favourite thing was to make me recreate photographs of his mother and send them back to the family. I’m sure there is a whole album of them out there.”

It was then that the door creaked open and Henry appeared.

“Mommy, I can’t sleep.”

“Did even try?”

“A little.”

Emma sighed and climbed off the bed.

“Come on, back to bed.”

Henry ignored her and walked over to Regina.

“Is that a teddy bear?”

“Yes it is,” Regina nodded, holding the bear so Henry could notice. “It was mine when I was a kid like you.”

“Why is he dressed funny?” Henry crinkled his nose like Emma did when she was confused.

“He’s a Beefeater,” Regina explained. “They stand guard over the Tower of London.”

Henry’s eyes widened in awe.

“Cool!”

Regina saw the bright shine in the boy’s eyes as he studied the stuffed toy. She mentally debated with herself for a moment before holding the bear out to him.

“He’s been working hard and wants to sleep but me and Mommy won’t be going to sleep for a long while yet. Why don’t you take him to sleep with you?”

Henry’s face split into a grin as he took the teddy bear gratefully.

“Thanks Regina,” he said before running out of the room.

“You didn’t have to do that,” Emma spoke up once they heard the guestroom door creak shut.

“It’s no bother,” Regina shrugged, fiddling with the necklace beads. “He’ll get more enjoyment out of it than I would.”

“Another let down?”

“Pretty much,” Regina nodded, looking in the box again. “The sentimentality is nice but I’m not bursting with happiness like I would have done back when I was into all this stuff. To be honest, the only thing that would make me feel like that now would be Hubert, but he’s buried in Mr Blanchard’s backyard.”

When Emma didn’t reply, Regina looked up to see the blonde deep in thought.

“Are you okay?”

Emma snapped out of it and smiled softly.

“I’m great, babe,” she replied before noticeable falling into her thoughts once more. Regina didn’t know what her girlfriend was thinking but it sure did seem important.

Chapter Text

Emma had nudged her awake that morning and told her she had some errands to run. Regina had fallen back asleep once she’d left but was soon woken up by Henry jumping on the bed with the beefeater teddy tucked under his arm.

She got up and the pair sat to watch cartoons before Henry decided he wanted to read the book again. They managed to read through the entire thing, something Regina herself hadn’t done in years.

With the kingdom finally at peace, The Queen and The Saviour lived happily ever after.

“Again, again!”

Regina sighed and put the book aside.

“Maybe later, Henry.”

“But it’s my favourite and you tell it better than Mommy.”

“You’d better not tell her that,” Regina laughed. “Anyway, I think your mother would be a great storyteller.”

“Only because she’s your girlfriend,” Henry teased with a mischievous grin. “You looooove her.”

Regina rolled her eyes. Like mother like son.

“Okay, young man. Why don’t we see what I have for breakfast?”

“But Mommy does breakfast,” Henry pouted. “Last time she brought in waffles.”

“Well I have Nutella in the cupboard,” Regina suggested and Henry’s face instantly lights up.

“Nutella, Nutella, Nutella!”

“Okay then, we’ll wait a while longer for your mother and then we can have some.”

He grinned and snuggled into her side, still clutching the bear to his chest. They sat there contently quiet for a while before Henry got restless.

“She’s taking forever.”

“She’ll be home soon,” she assured him.

“Regina?”

“Yes, Henry.”

“What will happen if you’re not Mommy’s girlfriend anymore?”

“What do you mean?” Regina frowned, worried as to where this conversation was going.

“Well Joseph’s Mommy had a boyfriend and when they broke up, Joseph couldn’t see him anymore,” Henry told her sadly. “Is that what’ll happen if you stop being Mommy’s girlfriend?”

Before Regina could answer, the front door opened and Emma walked in with a box under her arm.

“Regina,” she called out in a sing-song voice. “I have something for you.”

Henry climbed over the top of the couch and approached her curiously.

“What is it?”

“This is Regina’s surprise so she looks first,” Emma told him, making the boy run back round the couch and pull Regina up.

“Come on, Regina! You have to see so I can see!”

Regina laughed and approached Emma while holding Henry’s hand. Emma held the box out carefully, holding it steady from underneath.

“Open it,” Emma told her. Regina rolled her eyes and opened up the box, taking a peek inside. Eyes wide, she looked back up to Emma.

“You didn’t.”

“I did,” Emma grinned.

Henry jumped up and down, trying to see.

“Regina, what is it?”

Regina looked to Emma for assurance and the blonde nodded encouragingly. Carefully, she reached into the box and pulled out the tiny kitten.

As soon as he saw it, Henry’s eyes widened in awe.

“KITTY!”

“Shhh, Henry,” Regina said in a soft quiet voice as she stroked the kitten lightly. “They will be terrified.”

“Why?” Henry asked with a frown. “Your apartment is nice.”

“But we are a lot bigger than they are,” she told him. “Everything is big and scary. We want them to not be afraid of us so that means no shouting, okay?”

Regina held the kitten close to her chest as she carried it to the couch. By the time she had sat down, Henry had moved to sit beside her. He looked at the feline in fascination.

“Sorry for shouting, kitty,” he whispered before looking up to Regina. “Is it a boy or a girl?”

“Boy,” Emma answered, sitting down on the other side of Regina. “I took the liberty of naming him Hubert Jr. I think we should just call him Junior though.”

“I like it,” Regina smiled, looking down at the small cat in her lap. Junior was grey with black markings and the most beautiful blue eyes that she instantly fell in love it. “What a handsome young man you are!”

“He’s a stunner,” Emma grinned. “As soon as I saw him I knew he was the one for you.”

“Can I hold him?” Henry asked and Regina looked to Emma. The blonde smiled and picked Junior up, getting up to stand in front of Henry and place the kitten carefully in his lap.

“He is not a toy,” she told him sternly. “Let him sit in your lap and stroke him. If he tries to run away, don’t pull at him. Just tell us.”

“Okay, Mommy,” Henry said, to distracted by his new friend. Emma shook her head and sat back down.

“I hope you don’t mind me getting him.”

“Not at all,” Regina smiled, kissing her on the cheek. “Thank you so much.”

Emma blushed and put an arm around her girlfriend.

“He’s six weeks and is vet checked. I know the breeder and they are super big animal lovers so he’s been treated with nothing but love and care.”

Regina looked to the kitten, already smitten.

“And here he will be treated like a prince.”

“I guessed as much,” Emma laughed. “Am I your princess?”

“No, you’re my charming saviour,” Regina replied before kissing her.

Unfortunately, the sound was ruined by Regina’s ringtone.

Regina sighed and leaned forward to get it from the coffee table. When she saw it was her mother, she sighed once more.

“Hello Mother,” she answered with the phone to her ear.

“I heard you went to see Zelena yesterday,” her mother cut right to the chase. “I’m beyond happy that you did so. Thank you, Regina.”

Regina frowned upon hearing the emotion in her mother’s voice. Though her mother had been uncharacteristically emotional lately so she shouldn’t be surprised. She really needed to talk to her about over working.

“I’m happy I did also. I wish I’d done it sooner.”

“Good, I’m glad,” her mother replied. “Is Emma with you?”

“She is, as is Henry,” Regina answered.

“Put me on speakerphone.”

Regina rolled her eyes and brought the phone away from her ear. Nudging Emma to get her attention, she held the phone up between them and put it on speaker.

“Okay Mother, you’re on speakerphone.”

“Hi Cora,” Emma chimed, making Regina smirk. Her girlfriend was such a kiss-up when it came to her mother.

“Good morning, Emma,” the older woman replied. “Now, I am going away to New York on a business trip and should be back the day after tomorrow.”

“You didn’t mention this before?” Regina frown returned. “What kind of business trip.”

“A none of your business trip,” her mother replied, making Emma laugh loudly. “And it is a last minute meeting. You should be ready. When you take my position you will have to do this often.”

“Okay,” Regina huffed. “Safe travels then.”

“I’m not done yet, Regina. I’d like to offer my babysitting services this evening to allow you and Emma to go out for dinner.”

“Mother, I don’t know….”

“Thank you, Cora”, Emma quickly cut her off. “We gladly accept your services.”

Regina looked to Emma question as her mother responded.

“Excellent! I’ve already made reservations and I’ll have a car come pick Emma and Henry up from their apartment at seven. I shall see you both later.”

With that, she put the phone down.

“Why did you agree?” Regina questioned and Emma shrugged.

“I trust your Mom to look after Henry and I want to go on a date with you.”

Regina couldn’t argue with that.

“Okay then. Nutella on toast anyone?”

Emma’s face instantly lit up.

“Nutella!”

Regina rolled her eyes. Like Mother like Son indeed.

 

“Regina, hurry up,” her mother huffed. “They will be here any minute.”

“Coming Mother,” Regina huffed, checking her appearance in the mirror one last time before heading out to the living area, where her mother was playing with Junior. “How do I look?”

She was wearing a tight black dress with her hair slightly curled and had spent a good hour slaving over her eye make-up. Looking her up and down, her mother gave a nod of approval.

“You look beautiful.”

Regina smiled when she heard the knock at the door and moved as fast as she could in her heels to answer it. Henry ran in and made a B-line to the kitten.

“Junior, I missed you.”

Emma followed him in, wearing the pink dress again that Regina had many a dream about.

“Wow,” Emma gasped. “You look amazing!”

“As do you,” Regina said with a blush, making the blonde smirk.

“I know you love this dress on me.”

“Ladies, your reservations are in ten minutes,” her mother called over. “You’d better get going.”

“Right,” Emma nodded. “Henry, be good for Cora.”

“I will,” he replied, no tearing his eyes away from Junior.

“Take care of our boys, Mother.”

“Regina, those reservations were hard to obtain.”

Emma took her hand walked her out the door, closing it behind her.

“She’s right. We don’t want to miss those reservations.”

Regina rolled her eyes. Of course all Emma could think of was food.

As soon as the car brought them to the restaurant, Regina noticed Emma tense up. It was fancy, way fancier than even Regina usually experienced. They were walked from their car to the door by the valet and were handed over to a waiter, who took them to their table.

“Your meal today is being paid for by Mrs Cora Mills,” the waiter informed them. “She insists you have whatever and as much as you like. Would you like any wines, this evening?”

“A bottle of the house red would be fine,” Regina answered. “Emma, would you like any different.”

“No, I’ll just have a water,” her girlfriend answered in a quiet tone.

“Coming right up,” the waiter said, handing them their menus. “I shall take your orders when I return.”

Regina nodded her thanks before opening her menu. The duck looked good, and the lobster. She often struggled to choose when both were on the menu. She looked over to Emma and saw her staring down at the menu in shock.

“Emma, are you okay?” she asked in concern, causing the blonde to blink and look up to meet her gaze.

“I’m fine,” she nodded with a forced smile. “Just trying to decide what to have.”

“You don’t look fine,” Regina pressed. “Come on, you can tell me.”

Emma closed the menu and set it down on the table.

“The prices are ridiculous. I can’t afford it.”

“Didn’t you hear what he said? My mother is paying so don’t worry about it.”

“I don’t like sponging,” Emma countered.

“You’re not,” Regina assured her. “This is her treat. She wants us to have a lovely evening so let her do that.”

Emma didn’t argue at that and picked her menu up again.

“I can’t decide between the lobster or the duck then.”

“Same here,” Regina chuckled. “Why don’t I get the lobster and you get the duck then we could share?”

“I like your thinking, Mills,” Emma grinned, noticeably more comfortable.

By the time their food arrived, she was pretty much back to her chilled, confident self.

“This stuff is great,” she said with a mouthful of duck. “We should come here again.”

“Don’t talk with your mouthful,” Regina mock scolded her. “You’re worse than Henry.”

It was then Regina remembered the conversation she’d had with Henry that morning. She hesitated for a moment before deciding to branch the subject.

“Emma, I need to talk to you about something.”

“Sure, go ahead,” her girlfriend replied, leaning over to pick at the lobster.

“Well, I was sat with Henry this morning and he asked me about what would happen if you and I broke up?”

“He did?” Emma frowned. “Why was he thinking about that?”

“Apparently his friend Joseph can no longer see his mother’s ex-boyfriend so he got worried.”

“And what did you say to that?”

“I didn’t,” Regina replied. “You came in before I could answer.”

“But what would you have said?” Emma questioned, putting down her knife and folk.

“I’d have said that even though I’d love to still be a part of his life, the decision belongs to you.”

Emma smiled and nodded in acceptance.

“Thank you,” she said, picking up her cutlery again and shovelling down more of the duck.

Regina watched her closely for a while before speaking up again.

“Out of curiosity, what would happen if we broke up? Would I still be able to see Henry?”

“I don’t know.”

“You don’t know?” Regina frowned.

“Yeah, if we every break up I’d have to weigh the situation then.”

Regina thought over her girlfriend’s words over and over a few times.

“So I could potentially be in his life for a long time and then suddenly never see him again?”

“I don’t know,” Emma said again. “Why are you worrying about these hypotheticals?”

“Because most hypotheticals end up being inevitable,” Regina shot back, putting down her knife and folk. “I think we need to talk about boundaries.”

“Boundaries?” Emma frowned. “Why?”

“Because I’m spending too much time with Henry.”

Emma looked at her, completely confused.

“But I thought you like Henry?”

“I love Henry,” Regina corrected. “And that’s the problem. We’re moving way too fast and Henry is getting way to use to having me around. I don’t want him to be majorly affected when we break up?”

“When?” Emma questioned. “So you think we are going to break up?”

“I don’t know, Emma. I hope not but you know as well as I do that it is a big possibility.”

“No, I don’t think it is.”

“Well I’m glad you’re optimistic but I think we are moving way too fast. We’ve only been dating a matter of days and I’m already a pretty permanent part of Henry’s life and it worries me. That’s why I want to know where I stand if we do part ways.”

Emma seemed to be thinking deeply and to Regina the wait for a reply felt like forever. Eventually, the blonde shook her head.

“I’m sorry, I can’t answer questions I don’t know the answer to.”

Regina shook her head, whipping her hands with her napkin before getting to her feet.

“Fine, let me know when you have an answer. I’ll walk home, you take the car and pick up Henry.”

“Wait no. Regina don’t go.”

Regina ignored her and stormed out of the restaurant.

She’d learnt a long time ago that she could walk fast when she was angry, even while wearing heels. In no time she’d found herself a few blocks away from her apartment, walking passed a few bars filled with people and music. It was then that the car pulled up alongside her and Emma jumped out.

“Regina, wait up.”

“Go away, Miss Swan.”

“Regina, please just let me talk to you.”

Emma’s voice was laced with sadness and it made her heart ache. The brunette sighed and came to a halt, folding her arms as she faced the blonde.

“You have five minutes.”

Emma nodded and took in a deep breath.

“Your right, we’re moving way too fast. And yes, you are spending a lot of time with Henry. You are totally right on all those fronts. Thing is, Henry is the most precious thing in my life. I’d die for him in an instant. So there is no way my feelings for you would ever cloud my better judgements when it came to him. I’ve welcomed you into our lives because I trust you not to hurt us. And the reason why I don’t know whether I’d let you see Henry if we broke up is that the only ways I can see us breaking up are situations that would leave us hating each other. I hope you agree with me when I say I don’t want Henry caught in the middle of that.”

Regina found herself nodding in agreement.

“Yes, you’re right. But that doesn’t excuse the fact that we are moving way too fast.”

Emma sighed and took Regina back by unceremoniously reaching down the front of her dress and pulling out what looked like a small braid of lace, resembling that of a friendship bracelet.

“I was hoping to do this in better circumstances but I think this is the best way to do it,” Emma laughed nervously before looking at Regina with a serious look on her face.

“Regina Mills, from the moment I met you, I knew you were the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. But looks are superficial. What really made me fall for you was the person you are inside, as corny as it sounds. You’re amazing, totally amazing and I can’t believe someone like you would look at me twice. But you did and that makes me the happiest person in the world. I know we are moving at supersonic speed but I don’t care that we are. We’re happy as we are and society’s expectations can go to hell for all I care.”

Emma took Regina’s left wrist and tied the bracelet around it. Once it was secure, Emma pointed to the purple piece of ribbon that stood out against the two white ones.

“This bracelet I made when I was fifteen. I’d just been sent to new home and while moving, one of the laces had unthreaded from my baby blanket. I had to cut a little off to preserve the rest of it but I didn’t want to lose the bit I’d removed so I made this bracelet. That day, I was feeling very insecure, very unwanted. I made this bracelet to take my mind of it but it ended up absorbing all those feelings too. Then I decided enough was enough and decided to think positive. I told myself that one day I’d meet someone who would never abandon me and when I knew for sure I’d found them, I’d give them this bracelet.

“I was with Henry’s father six months, never even thought of giving him it. Good job I didn’t considering what happened in the end. Of course there is Henry but one day he’ll leave me too which is fine, that’s what kids are meant to do. Then, out of the blue, this beautiful fiery lawyer walks into my life and suddenly I didn’t feel alone anymore. Regina, I’ve only known you this short amount of time but I know in my heart, you were the person this was made for. You’re the person I am willingly giving both my heart and trust to. With the bracelet I promise to you that no matter how hard things may get, I’ll never stop fighting for us. I’m falling in love with you, Regina. I’m falling hard and I’m prepared to spend every day for the rest of my life falling even deeper.”

Regina didn’t know what to say. She looked down at the bracelet, touching it with more care than she would any diamonds. A tear fell down her cheek and as always Emma quickly caught it with her thumb.

Regina laughed at that, giving her the confidence to look up and meet the blonde’s gaze.

“I’m not falling in love with you,” she told her, a bright smile on her face. “I’ve already fallen.”

Chapter Text

Regina woke up with a killer headache when her alarm went off the next morning. Wincing, she managed to sit up.

Emma wasn’t next to her even though she was sure her girlfriend had come home with her the night before. Maybe she hadn’t. Everything was a little fuzzy after a certain point. She remembered them arguing and she remembered Emma giving her the bracelet. Regina looked down at her wrist with a light smile, touching the bracelet fondly.

After that, they’d gone in a few bars before finding a place that was putting on a Stevie Nicks tribute act. Of course Emma had insisted on taking to the dancefloor and for some reason they thought it would be a good idea to do shots during the short intervals. Somewhere between Rooms on Fire and Stand Back she began to lose her bearings.

With a groan, she got out of bed and headed to for the kitchen to get some coffee. When walking through, she spotted her spare bedding sprawled across her coach, a mass of yellow hair pocking over the top.

Realising her girlfriend was asleep, Regina crept the rest of the way only to stub her toe on the kitchen island.

“Fuck!” she hissed, unable to contain herself as the sheering pain spread through her

Emma jumped out of bed, almost stumbling over as she pushed her messy hair out of her face.

“What happened?” Emma said, somewhere between sleepy and alert.

“I stubbed my toe,” Regina told her as she stood balancing on one leg as she held onto the other that was still throbbing. “What are you doing out here?”

“What do you mean?” Emma frowned. “You know why, because we were both too drunk to share a bed and not do anything we’d regret. You were the one who gave me the bedding.”

“Oh,” Regina blushed. “Sorry, my memory of last night is a little fuzzy.”

“No surprise there,” Emma laughed, flopping back down on the couch. “You were pretty out of it. I told you not to mix your drinks but did you listen to me? Nooooo.”

Regina rolled her eyes, hopping over to join her.

“Well I’m definitely paying the price. I feel like I’ve done six rounds with Xena Warrior Princess.”

Emma chuckled, wrapping her arms around her.

“Yeah, you were pretty bad. In the end I had to take you out before the show finished. You remember the show, right?”

“I remember everything perfectly up until Seven Wonders,” Regina assured her, touching the bracelet once more. Emma smiled and pulled her even closer.

“That’s when you switched from vodka to Tequila. You went downhill pretty quickly after that. When I was pretty much carrying you out, she started playing Leather and Lace and you wanted to stay. You cried most of the way home about it then when we got out of the car, you threw up all over the sidewalk. That seemed to sober you up a bit.”

“Oh God,” Regina cringed, deeply embarrassed by her behaviour. “I do love that song though.”

“I know you do. You told me about ten times.”

“Okay, you tease me now but as soon as you do something like this you’d better not complain when I do the same.”

At that Emma pouted before looking around with a frown.

“What time is it anyway?”

“Just gone six,” Regina answered. “My goddamn alarm clock woke me up.”

“You set it for six every morning?”

“No, only the days I have work…fuck!”

Fuck!”

They both jumped off the couch.

“We need to shower,” Regina panicked. “We both stink of alcohol. Then coffee, lots of coffee. Oh God where is Junior?!”

“Relax,” Emma said calmly. “He’s in with Henry. Your Mom found a box for him to sleep in.”

Regina moved swiftly to the guest room and opened the door to see the kitten curled up on top of Henry. From the smell, she was pretty sure one of them had wet themselves.

“Emma, we have a situation.”

Poor Henry was woken up early and forced into the shower while Regina was forced to deal with the bedding. Luckily, Junior’s little accident had been on the quilt so had not soaked through to the mattress. She put the sodden bedding into her washing machine, the culprit stood watching her with fascination.

Once she was done, she down at the kitten with her hands on her hips.

“I hope this doesn’t become a nightly fixture, young man.”

The kitten just looked up at her with those big blue eyes that would make even the coldest heart melt. She couldn’t help but smile as she bend down to pick him up.

“But don’t worry, my sweet little prince,” she cooed softly, scratching him behind his ear which earned her a strong purr. “Mommy is not mad at you, no she’s not. In fact, Mommy is mad at Mommy because she needs a shower but you are too cute to put down. Do you want to come to court with me? Oh shit, what are we actually going to do with you?”

It was then Henry came running through with his hair wet and fresh clothes on.

“Junior!”

Emma followed him through, running a brush through her equally wet hair.

“Calm down, Kid. You spent all night with him.”

Regina smiled and set Junior back on the floor. He ran immediately to where Henry had knelt down to greet him.

“I’d better go get a shower.”

“We’ll be fine,” Emma assured her. “I’ll start breakfast.”

Regina kissed her quickly before rushing to the bathroom.

She showered, dried her hair, got dressed, and put her makeup on in record time. Once done, she headed back through to the living room to find Ruby sat with Henry and Emma at the table, eating a piece of toast with one hand while the other cradled Junior.

“Ruby?” Regina frowned, moving over to sit with them. Emma immediately got up gave her three slices of toast that were smothered in more Nutella than at all necessary.

“I’m here on orders from you mother to take this little guy to work with me today,” Ruby told her, smiling fondly down to the tiny bundle of fur. “He’s a cutie, that’s for sure.”

“But what if he escapes in the elevator or someone stands on him? Or what if someone steals him? Or he misses me?”

“Babe, chill,” Emma told her. “No one is gonna do anything to their boss’s daughter’s cat unless they want to get fired.”

“Or have a death wish,” Ruby added. “Everyone is terrified of Cora. Don’t worry, Regina. I’m the animal whisperer, remember? I mean look at this little guy. He’s so chill. I reckon he’ll be no bother at all.”

Regina didn’t like the sound of Junior in such a crowded place but it was either that or leave him here unattended so neither were very attractive. Maybe she needed to take some time off until he was properly house trained. Or was that taking it a little too far?

“Alright, just for today.”

“And tomorrow,” Emma added. “I got a call while you were in the shower. Not only is Wendy Darling unable to testify till tomorrow but Robin Locksley has requested to add to his testimony.”

“Great,” Regina sighed sarcastically. “Today is going to be flipping fantastic.”

 

Mr Locksley smiled at Regina as he was led to the witness box. She just gave him a small nod in reply, not wanting to lead him on in anyway. He seemed like a pleasant man, after all.

“Mr Locksley sent a request to make a statement to add to his testimony to which I have agreed under the circumstances,” Judge George told the court. “We shall listen to what he has to say and any lawyer who jumps in while he is speaking will have a strike next to their name. I run my court like a baseball court. Three strikes and you’re out. Miss Swan, Miss Ficent, you both have to my recollection one strike left. So I expect for the rest of this trial for you both to behave close to perfectly. Miss Mills, you have been a perfect example and as always a pleasure to have in my court.”

Mary-Margaret nudged her and did a subtle thumbs up. Regina gave a small smile in return.

“Mr Lockley, please begin making your additional statement and address the court while doing so.”

Mr Locksley cleared his throat and looked out to the courtroom.

“I sat here two days ago and said that Henry Swan bullied my son. That was what I believed and was so confident in it that I took it to the stand. However, I’ve since found out that not only was I wrong out Henry Swan being a bully but that he was doing his best to help my son when he was too scared to say anything. I want to say that I’m sorry to Henry Swan for accusing him of something he didn’t do in a court of law. No five year-old should have to deal with that. I would also like to apologise to Miss Swan for making her listen to me saying such horrible things about her son. As a parent I know that must have been awful and for it to be false must only make it worse. And finally, I would like to apologise to Miss Blanchard. Though I don’t agree at all with the fact she didn’t even look into the issue and find it very unprofessional, her instincts were indeed right. I wanted the court to know that as I don’t want any ruling to be founded due to a misunderstanding on my part. So yeah, I’m sorry everyone.”

“Thank you, Mr Locksley,” Judge George spoke up. “Thank you for coming back to reiterate your testimony. We’ll let you get on with your day.”

Emma nudged Regina and leaned in to speak to her, finally able to sit together again now the two lovebirds were back on track.

“How did he find that out? Did you tell him?”

“No, did you?” Regina replied and Emma shook her head.

“Nope, did they?”

Regina looked over and saw that David and Mary-Margaret looked just as surprised as they were.

“Doesn’t look like it.”

“Do you think his son told the truth?” Emma asked to which Regina was sceptical.

“I don’t think so. I’m sure if he was going to say something, it would be before his father told it to the whole court room, not after.”

Emma nodded, deep in thought.

“Who else could have told him then?”

Regina thought for a moment before the penny dropped.

“I told mother last night while I was getting ready.”

Regina leaned back in her chair and sighed. How did she not guess straight away? The whole situation had mother all over it. Emma, however, seemed to find it very amusing.

“God save Cora Mills,” she said with a laugh and Regina found herself agreeing with the sentiment.

Chapter Text

David sat in the witness box looking at Mary-Margaret like a kicked puppy.

“I hate seeing him up there,” she said to Regina. “He’s not very confident when it comes public speaking.”

“He’ll be fine,” Regina assured her. “Emma’s good.”

She watched as her girlfriend moved to stand before David, looking good in the blank suit pants she’d been forced to borrow after she got Nutella on hers.

“Mr Nolan, where were you when the fight broke out between Nicholas Hansel and John Darling?”

“I was playing softball with some of the other kids. John had been playing too but he’d stepped aside to talk to his sister.”

“Do you know what they were talking about?”

“No I don’t,” David replied. “I didn’t find it odd. They are quite close.”

“And what did you do once the fight began?” Emma asked.

“I got right over there and broke it up. Nicholas had gotten in a few good hits and John was pretty beaten up. Mary-Margaret looked after him while I took Nicholas away to calm him down.”

“After it happened, did you think of any way you could have gotten there sooner?”

“Objection!” Mal jumped in. “Call for speculation.”

“Over-ruled,” Judge George replied. “I think this is actually a very good question. Please answer, Mr Nolan. And I will remind you that you are under oath.”

David nodded in understanding before answering.

“I have thought about it a lot and honestly I can’t think of any way I could have gotten there quicker. I moved as soon as I heard the first cry and there was no way I could have gotten there quick enough to stop him from landing those first punches.”

“Some people would say you should have been closer, or at least constantly prepared for something like this to happen. What would you say to that?”

“I’d say that no incident like this has happened before. Sure we’ve had minor fights here and there but overall they are good kids who all get along. Just because they come from underprivileged backgrounds doesn’t mean they are thugs.”

“Thank you, Mr Nolan,” Emma nodded. “No further questions, your honour.”

As Emma returned to her seat, Mal approached the witness bench.

“Mr Nolan, did you consider Nicholas Hansel to have any form of anger issues?”

“Objection,” Emma cut in. “Your honour, is this line of questioning appropriate?”

“I don’t see why not,” Judge George replied. “Answer the question, Mr Nolan.”

“I wouldn’t say so,” David replied. “He’s a nice kid, that’s what makes this all the more shocking.”

“Shocking,” Mal repeated. “Mr Nolan, there are witnesses stating that you had to tell Nicholas Hansel to, and I quote, ‘calm down’ during a game of softball a week before the assault. Is that true?”

Regina leant back and pinched the bridge of her nose. Emma slumped in her chair, folding her arms with a face like thunder.

“I-I don’t remember. Maybe I did, but kids get competitive….”

“No further questions, your honour,” Mal cut in, walking back to her chair with a smirk on her face.

“Objection, your honour,” Emma jumped up. “Miss Ficent didn’t let the witness finish his answer.”

“This is what I was talking about,” Judge George sighed. “I’ve had enough of these playground antics. Miss Ficent, since your second chair has been more absent than present throughout these proceedings, you may keep first chair. As for you Miss Swan, I’d like you to switch with Miss Mills for tomorrows witness testimony. You may make the closing statement otherwise I don’t want to hear your voice. Court will resume tomorrow.”

Mary-Margaret instantly started crying.

“Poor David. How could she do such a thing to him?!”

Regina fought the desire to roll her eyes.

“She’s a lawyer, Mary-Margaret. It’s her job.”

“That and she’s a bitch,” Emma quickly added. “I can’t believe this.”

Regina nodded and put a comforting hand on her shoulder.

“Hey, it’s only for questioning and I’ll have you know I’m a very good lawyer.”

“Babe I have so much faith in you and I know you’ll do amazing,” Emma quickly clarified. “I just hate getting benched like this.”

“I know but you’ll be right there beside me.”

A silly smile appeared on Emma’s face.

“You promise?”

“Always.”

That seemed to lift her spirits. Regina mentally patted herself on the back before looking to Mary-Margaret.

“Why don’t you go meet David and we’ll call you later.”

Mary-Margaret nodded and rushed off, leaving the two lawyers to walk out by themselves.

As they walked out the courtroom, Regina felt a weird sensation in her eye. She blinked a few times and it didn’t go away so tried to ignore it. They barely made it out of the doors before she accepted defeat.

“Let me just run to the bathroom,” Regina said as they walked out. “I think I have an eyelash in my eye.”

“Really? Let me look?”

As Emma reached out for her, Regina ducked back.

“Emma, you know how I feel about you but no one touches my eye but me and my ophthalmologist.”

“Fair enough,” Emma nodded in understanding. “I’ll wait for you here.”

Regina smiled before practically running to the bathroom. She stood herself in front of the mirror and cautiously tried to get the offending eyelash without touching her eye. It was a tense task, leaving her on the very verge on an intense cringe.

She didn’t notice the other presence in the bathroom until she heard the familiar laugh.

“Still go a phobia of eyes, I see.”

Regina sighed, still concentrating on the task at hand.

“Leave me alone, Mal. I’m not in the mood.”

Mal just laughed and moved over to stand next to her.

“So, you didn’t reply to my text?”

“I didn’t think I had to,” Regina replied, finally getting a hold of the eyelash.

“Well it’s basic manners.”

Finally getting it out of her eye, Regina grimaced at the eyelash resting on her fingertip. She leaned over and squirted an unreasonable amount of soap into her palm. Rubbing her hands together, she washed her hands under the tap to rid them of any potential eye germs.

“Well you using me to get ahead wasn’t exactly great social etiquette now was it?”

Mal sighed and leant against the sinks.

“You’re still mad about that? Regina, it was so long ago.”

“Maybe so,” Regina replied, turning the tap off and moving over to the hand driers. “But I don’t forgive easily and even if I did, I doubt I’d forgive you anyway.”

“Can’t we try?” Mal asked hopefully, speaking up over the hand drier. “Let’s go for that drink and get to know each other again. We owe it to ourselves to give us another chance. How about tonight?”

Regina shut off the hand drier and turned round to face Mal.

“No, I’m busy tonight.”

“Oh really?” Mal questioned sceptically. “Doing what?”

“Enjoying the evening with my girlfriend, her son, and my cat,” Regina replied before exiting the bathroom, leaving the stunned blonde behind.

 

Henry had taken Junior to the guest room having built him a cosy little bed out of a large plastic storage draw and a few old towels.

“He won’t pee on the bed,” Henry insisted when Emma had told him Junior was staying in the kitchen area. Eventually after he did his signature pout, both women reluctantly gave him permission.

Regina was going round cleaning. Before Emma and Henry started staying over, there had been nothing out of place in her apartment. Now she walked around picking up socks and standing on stray pieces of Lego (which by the way fucking hurts). Add Junior to that and her once immaculate apartment had descended into chaos.

“Stop cleaning,” Emma told her from where she laid out on the couch, playing on her phone. “The place looks fine.”

“I can see mess,” Regina replied, reaching under the coffee table to retrieve the legs of a Lego person.

“So the place looks lived in?” Emma shrugged. “This is what happens with a family home.”

Regina couldn’t help but smile at that yet still didn’t stop cleaning.

“I’m not living in a home that has Lego scattered like landmines.”

Emma laughed at that.

“You sweet summer child.”

Regina rolled my eyes and continued searching for the tiny building blocks of pain. She heard Emma get up from the couch but was still surprised when the blonde pulled her to her feet.

“Emma, what are you doing?”

“I had some iTunes credit,” Emma said in reply, moving to connect her phone to Regina’s speaker system. “And I felt bad that I made you leave last night during one of your favourite songs.”

Regina watched as Emma searched through her songs before finding what she was looking for. The familiar intro of Leather and Lace began to play as Emma moved over and held a hand to her.

“May I have this dance?”

“You may,” Regina accepted, taking her girlfriends hand and allowing herself to be pulled into her arms.

Emma took the lead, allowing Regina just to enjoy the moment. She’d always thought the song was particularly beautiful before but now it almost brought her to tears. There was something about hearing it in Emma’s arms that made it so magical that she closed her eyes to savour every second.

Just as the song was ending, there was a loud knock on her door that made them reluctantly pull away.

“Who could that be?” Emma frowned, to which Regina shrugged.

“I wasn’t expecting anybody.”

Emma moved over to pause the music as Regina made her way over to her door. Opening it, she found herself face to face with a blonde girl around eleven or twelve years of age.

“Hello?” she said, not bothering to hide her surprise.

“Are you Regina Mills?” the girl asked.

“That I am,” Regina asked. “How can I help you?”

The girl reached into her jacket pocket and pulled out what looked like a business card.

“You gave this to my dad,” she said, handing it over. “You’re a lawyer, the one representing David and Mary-Margaret. I looked you up in the phonebook and found your address.”

Regina took the card and saw it was her own business card. Turning it over, she saw the details she’d written down for Mr Hansel when she and Emma had visited him at home. Their first real day on the case and the day she met Henry. That felt like so long ago now but only a few weeks had paced since then. Despite a horizontal crease near the middle, it had barely even aged.

“I’m Ava Hansel, Nicholas’s sister,” the girl introduced herself. “And I think I know how you can win your case.”

Chapter Text

Regina and Emma walked into the courthouse with their heads held high, the kind of entrance usually accompanied by a rock song in the movies.

Mr Locksley was waiting for them near the entrance, an A4-sized envelope in his hand.

“Good morning, Mr Locksley,” Regina greeted him. “You remember Miss Swan, right?”

“Yes, I do,” Mr Locksley nodded. “I’m sorry about what I said about your son…”

“Water under the bridge,” Emma quickly assured him. “Is that the picture we asked for?”

“Yes it is,” he nodded, handing it over.

“Great,” Emma grinned. “I’ll go get this submitted into evidence.”

The blonde ran off, leaving Regina with the confused man.

“Why do you need that, may I ask?”

“I can’t tell you right now but you’ll know soon enough,” Regina assured him. “I do strongly suggest you stick around though. There are going to be things said in there that you’ll want to hear.”

“Okay then,” Mr Locksley nodded. “Can you give me any kind of hint?”

Before Regina had time to reply, she noticed Mary-Margaret and David coming through the doors.

“I’m sorry, I have to go speak to my clients. I’ll see you in there.”

Mr Locksley chuckled and nodded in understanding. Regina gave him a polite smile before rushing over to the couple.

“Did you bring it?”

Mary-Margaret held up a bright blue tote-bag in confirmation.

“Yes, just as Emma asked.”

“So do you really think we’ll win?” David asked hopefully.

“I’ve never been one to bet on these sort of things,” Regina told them. “But yes, I very much do.”

 

Wendy Darling sniffled, girlish tears in her eyes.

“It was so horrible. John was covered in blood and they had to call an ambulance. Sure Mary-Margaret took care of him up until the paramedics took over but they treated Nicholas like a victim too. Even after what he did, they still favoured him.”

“And no punishment was given to Nicholas at all?”

“Objection,” Regina cut in. “You honour, Miss Blanchard and Mr Nolan are in no position to punish minors and if they had done so this lawsuit would be a very different one.”

“Quite right, Miss Mills,” Judge George nodded. “Sustained.”

“I’ll rephrase,” Mal said, clearly ticked off which pleased Regina greatly. “Did Miss Blanchard and Mr Nolan place and sanctions…”

“Objection,” Regina cut in again. “You honour, even if Miss Blanchard and Mr Nolan were in a position to place ‘sanctions’, Nicholas Hansel, regardless of what he’s done, is an eleven year old boy.”

“Right again, Miss Mills,” Judge George agreed. “As always, you are a pleasure to have in my court.”

“Thank you, your honour,” Regina smiled sweetly.

Judge George smiled back before looking to Mal with obvious contempt.

“Sustained. Miss Ficent, please choose your words carefully.”

Mal shot Regina a glare before returning to question the witness.

“And were there any repercussions on Nicholas Hansel in regard to the youth club?”

“Him and my brother are not allowed to attend till their court case is done. They are punishing my brother even though he was the victim in all this. It’s clear favouritism.”

“No more questions, your honour,” Mal smirked, walking back to her seat. She looked at Regina in a way that said ‘whatcha gonna do now?’

Well she was going to show her.

Emma watched Regina get to her feet with a confident smirk on her face.

“Go get ‘em, Babe.”

Regina winked at her in reply before picking up the envelope Mr Locksley had given her and approaching the witness stand.

“Miss Darling, you refer to your brother as the victim, is that correct?”

“Yes,” Miss Darling nodded yet Regina noticed the half-second of hesitation that was evidence the information Ava Hansel had given her held true.

“Really?” Regina questioned. “Miss Darling, do you know a young boy named Roland Locksley?”

“Objection,” Mal jumped up. “Relevance.”

“I think Miss Mills is getting to it, Miss Ficent,” Judge George replied. “If you’d stay quiet for more than two minutes we’d have probably gotten to the point by now. Over-ruled. Please answer the question, Miss Darling.”

“No I haven’t,” the girl quickly answered. “I don’t recognise the name.”

“Then maybe you’d recognise the face,” Regina said while pulling the picture out of the envelope. “I am handing Miss Darling a recent picture of Roland Locksley.”

Upon seeing the boy’s face, Wendy Darling froze.

“Do you recognise him now?” Regina asked, already knowing the answer. The girl looked over to her parents, tears once again in her eyes yet these were much more genuine.

“Yes, I know him,” she nodded.

“And how do you know him, Miss Darling?”

“There is a buddy system set up between my middle school and the preschool across the street. We are assigned a kid and we all walk down the street to the community centre. All I have to do is hold his hand on the way there.”

“And are there adults accompanying you?”

“Yeah, teachers from my middle school and preschool. There is like rota, I think.”

“And Miss Blanchard and Mr Nolan have nothing to do with this?”

“No, they are aware of it and weren’t too happy about it at first. They asked me if I was okay with the responsibility but I said I was fine. I liked Roland. He’s a really cute kid.”

Regina nodded in acknowledgement.

“And when was it that your brother John met Roland Locksley?”

“Objection!” Mal cut in. “Your honour, Miss Mills is making accusations…”

“No she isn’t,” Judge George huffed. “Over-ruled. Answer the question, Miss Darling.”

The girl looked terrified and if it were under any other circumstances, she’d have felt sorry for her.

“I had to stay behind ten minutes one night for a school council meeting. I’m class presiden so I had to stay. I’d completely forgotten to say I couldn’t walk Roland until school ended so I asked John if he would.”

“And what happened after that?”

Wendy Darling wiped a tear from her cheek.

“John told me he’d be walking Roland to class from now on. I-I told him no but my brother…he’s not the kind of person you say no to.”

“Did you find out why your brother was so keen on walking Roland? I mean, that doesn’t sound like something a boy his age would eagerly do.”

“Objection,” Mal spoke up again. “Your honour that is totally argumentative. Maybe young Mr Darling just wanted to volunteer his services, maybe be friend the young b….”

“He was hurting him,” Wendy Darling blurted out, cutting Mal off and catching the attention of the entire court room.

“Hurting him?” Regina frowned. “Can you expand on that please, Miss Darling?”

Judge George leaned forward in his seat.

“Yes, Miss Darling. Please explain what you mean by that.”

The girl looked in the direction of her parents again as she answered.

“He liked putting people down. I love him but he likes to say things that really hurt. But he only ever did it to me and my other brother and everyone treats their siblings poorly, right? If I’d have thought he’d be like that with Roland I wouldn’t have let him anywhere near him. He used to say things to him that made him cry, dig his nails in while holding his hand, jabbing him in the side and punching him in the stomach when people weren’t looking.”

There was a noise behind her and Regina turned to see Mr Locksley storming out. She felt bad about making him hear all that but he had a right to know. If she was in his shoes she’d want to know, no matter how awful the truth was.

“And you saw all this?” Regina asked.

“No,” the girl shook her head. “I guessed something was going on but I didn’t know for sure until Ava told me she saw John hurting him.”

“That is Ava Hansel, Nicholas’s sister, is that correct?”

“Yes,” Wendy Darling nodded. “She’s my friend, we were all friends. She told me about it and I asked her not to tell anybody until I spoke to John about it. I asked him and he told me everything.”

“Yet you never told an adult?” Regina questioned. “Why didn’t you at least tell your parents?”

“I’m a straight A student and I’m trying to get a scholarship to a private high school,” the girl answered. “I didn’t want to get in trouble and jeopardise that.”

Selfish brat, Regina couldn’t help but think.

“So what did you say to Ava?”

“I told her to not say anything and leave it alone. By then, Roland had moved preschools so there was no point in saying anything.”

“But she didn’t leave it alone, did she? She confronted John about it.”

“I told her not to,” Wendy cried, her crying becoming increasingly hysterical. “But she wouldn’t listen.”

“Your honour, this is just cruel,” Mal jumped in. “She’s a child!”

“If I recall correctly, Miss Ficent, you were all for the minors testifying in this case to be treated the same as any adult,” Judge George replied. “Over-ruled. Continue, Miss Mills.”

“Thank you, your honour,” Regina nodded before looking back to Wendy.

“And she then told Nicholas, correct?”

“Yeah,” Wendy nodded. “John didn’t scare Ava, she’d too tough. She told Nicholas everything. I was there and ran to warn John but it was to no use.”

“So, considering most of this happened while you were in the care of teachers from your school and the preschool, Miss Blanchard and Mr Nolan couldn’t have known or prevented any of this?”

Wendy sighed and wiped another tear from her cheek.

“No, they couldn’t have known anything.”

Regina nodded in acknowledgment.

“No further questions, you honour.”

Regina sat down with a sigh of relief. Emma looked impressed.

“That was brilliant, couldn’t have done better myself.”

“I told you I was good,” Regina teased but before Emma could say a comeback, there was a loud ‘psst’ coming from the direction of the prosecution. They both looked over to see Mal leaning across, holding out a folded piece of paper.

Emma leaned across and took it before leaning back so Regina could see too. Inside, there was a settlement amount. $150,000- same amount they’d suggested before.

Regina couldn’t help but scoff at it and that gave her girlfriend the message. Emma made eye contact with Mal and ripped the paper up in front of her.

 

Mal’s closing statements had always been heavily embellished but this one was the definition of reaching.

“So you see, John darling is still a victim. These actions described to you today were a cry for help that Miss Blanchard and Mr Nolan failed to pick up on.”

Regina couldn’t help but roll her eyes at the ridiculousness off it. Emma, however, seemed to find it all very amusing.

“Do you think she actually believes this will convince anyone?” she whispered and Regina shook her head.

“She’s clutching at straws. She knows she’d in trouble.”

It was then that the doors to the courtroom opened and a young man rushed in. Regina recognised him as one of t interning assistants from her firm. He took a seat behind Regina and leaned forward to speak to her.

“Miss Lucas says you need to call her cell phone straight away. It’s an emergency.”

Regina nodded and retrieved her phone from her handbag.

“Wait, you can’t go,” Emma protested. “You’ll miss the closing statement.”

“I’ll be quick, I promise,” Regina told her with a light smile before heading out of the courtroom. When she struggled to get signal she headed outside of the courthouse, calling Ruby’s cell as soon as she had the bars.

Ruby answered after two rings.

“Regina?”

“This better be important, Ruby. We are doing closing statements.”

“It is, I wouldn’t call if it wasn’t.”

“Is it the photocopier again?” Regina sighed. “Because I told you the password is gold625….”

“It’s not about the photocopier, it’s about Emma.”

Regina instantly tensed.

“Why? What’s happened with Emma?”

As soon as she heard Ruby sigh, she knew it was bad. But she never expected the answer she received.

“Regina, she’s not a real lawyer.”

Chapter Text

“W-what do you mean?”

“Your Mom wants to hire her but made me do a background check so I called a contact at the Bar Association and they can’t find her bar number. I looked into it deeper and she failed her bar exam and never took it a second time.”

“H-how could she get away with that?”

“Surprisingly a system of lawyers is built on trust.”

“Fuck, what am I gonna do?”

“You need to tell Judge George, otherwise if she gets found out and they realise you know, you’ll be disbarred. This is serious Regina. Emma could go to prison over this.”

“So you know for sure she’s not a lawyer?”

“Well I’m on the phone with them while they double check so it looks like it.”

“Once the jury starts deliberating, the verdict stands,” Regina said, to herself mostly. “And I don’t know for sure…”

“Regina, no! Don’t even thi…”

Regina hung up. She took her time to compose herself before making her way back inside. She walked back into the courtroom just as Emma was wrapping up her closing statement.

“Now we finally know the true reasoning of what happened that day, is it really Miss Blanchard and Mr Nolan who are to blame? Is it the middle school? The preschool. Or even the children themselves? But it’s clear that neither of the defendants could have known any of this was happening and if they did, they would have done something about it. These people are good people, charitable people, and caring people. This accusation is a complete farce and I hope we have persuaded you to think the same and find the defendants not guilty.”

Emma sat down and nudged Regina playfully.

“Pretty smooth, huh?”

Regina didn’t reply. She couldn’t even look at her.

Judge George, however, looked incredibly relieved it was over as he addressed the jury

“I will now excuse the jury to deliberate. People of the jury, I advise you to consider all the evidence presented here and decide on the verdict you believe to be fair.”

As soon as the jury was led away, Regina got to her feet and stormed out of the courtroom. She’d hoped for a clean get away or at least get far enough away from the courthouse but Emma caught up with her just outside.

“Hey, what’s up? Aren’t you happy? We’re gonna win this thing!”

Emma was in noticeably high spirits and Regina was even angrier at her for robbing the feeling of victory from her.

“I got a call from Ruby.”

“Oh yeah, is everything okay?”

There was serious concern in Emma’s voice, Regina noted. She either had no idea what Regina was about to say or was expertly keeping up the lie.

“Apparently my mother wants to hire you so asked Ruby to do a quick background check on you. So she reached out to our contact at the Bar Association.”

Emma’s face instantly dropped.

“You know.”

Regina narrowed her eyes and nodded.

“Yes, I know.”

“Okay, just let me explain….”

“I don’t want to hear it,” Regina cut her off. “You lied to me, lied right to my face.”

“I didn’t have a choice,” Emma replied, desperation in her voice. “You’d have had to say something and I'd have gone to jail. I couldn’t risk that.”

That just made Regina even angrier.

“You really think I would have said something? I can’t believe you couldn’t trust me after I poured my heart out for you. I even told you about Mal sending me one text and a guy asking me out on a date. I trusted you completely but clearly the same couldn’t be said for you.”

“No, it’s not like that. I didn’t tell you because you’d have had to say something for the sake of you job and I couldn’t risk that, not with Henry.”

“You honestly think I’m that heartless?” Regina questioned, not even believing what she was hearing.

“No, not heartless,” Emma quickly clarified. “But I know how much you care about your job…”

“I care about Henry and I care about you,” Regina bit back. “Yes, my job is important to me but if it was a choice between being a lawyer and being with you and Henry, I’d quit in a heartbeat. I fucking loved you and I love Henry with my entire being.”

“Regina, I…”

“No, I don’t want to hear it,” Regina cut her off. “I won’t be returning for the verdict but I wish you luck for David and Mary-Margaret’s sake. After that, either you go to a judge and tell them about this or I will.”

“No, Regina please don’t….”

“No, if you think that low of me then why should I bother risking my career for you? After all I passed my bar exam.”

Emma sighed, running a nervous hand through her hair.

“Will you just let me explain?”

Regina pretended to think about it for a moment before shaking her head.

“No, I think I know all I need to. I’d greatly appreciate it if you delete my phone number and refrain from contacting me in the future.”

“No, no, Regina please don’t do this,” Emma begged, tears appearing in her eyes. “I love you, I love you so much. You promised you wouldn’t ever abandon me.”

Regina couldn’t believe the nerve of her.

“I made that promise to the Emma I thought I knew and loved. Turns out you’re just like everyone else, lying and scheming to get what they want from me. When were you going to tell me, huh? After we’d had sex or after we were past the point of me avoiding any backlash?”

“I never used you,” Emma insisted. “I love you. My love for you is real.”

“Maybe,” Regina shrugged. “But you’re not. You’re not the person I fell in love with.”

“But I am! I am the person you fell in love with!”

“No, you’re a liar. I’ll have yours and Henry’s things dropped by your apartment tonight. My key, please.”

Regina held out her hand expectantly. Emma just swatted it away.

“You don’t get to do this. You can’t just throw what we have away like that. You can’t do that to Henry, he loves you.”

“Don’t you dare use the Henry card on me!”

“If you claimed to love him as much as you say, you wouldn’t be doing this to him!” Emma shot back. “You’re shunning him and sending his only parent to prison. I don’t have any family. He’ll end up in the system, all because of you.”

“No, Miss Swan, because of you,” Regina corrected. “This is your mess. You make your bed, you lie in it. Now give me my fucking key.”

Emma huffed and reached into her pocket, slapping the key into Regina’s palm.

“Thank you, I think that is all. Goodbye Miss Swan.”

Regina turned and stormed off towards her car. She’d car shared with Emma but in that moment she didn’t care. Emma could crawl home for all she cared.

 Walking around the back of her car, she noticed the stupid Joan Crawford bumper sticker, so cheap it was already peeling off. Anger boiling up inside her again, she ripped it off and crumpled it up in ball, throwing it against the sidewalk. Environment be damned. She hoped the world ended right now.

Getting in her car, she tuned her radio to the local rock station and got the volume up to its highest. She drove off recklessly, impatient to get on the open roads.

 

She didn’t know how she ended up at the prison, let alone got there conveniently for visitation. When Zelena had seen her sat there alone, she must have twigged something was wrong as she instantly told Regina to tell her everything.

And tell she did. About the case, about Emma. The whole sorry story.

When she was done, Zelena shook her head in disbelief.

“God, Regina. I’m sorry.”

“Yeah,” Regina shrugged. “I was stupid. I had a feeling at times she wasn’t telling me everything but I ignored it. I was so blinded by love that I didn’t see what was really going on.”

“Well it sounds like she had Mother fooled as well and she’s usually a bloodhound for this type of thing,” Zelena reminded her. “Don’t be too hard on yourself.”

“Oh God, I forgot about Mother,” Regina groaned. Emma was dead meat for sure. She mentally slapped herself. You shouldn’t care, she told herself. Emma betrayed you. She deserves whatever she gets. Yet no matter how much she wanted to believe that, her mind was still conditioned to worship the ground Emma walked on. It made her hate herself even more. How had she become so weak?

“What are you going to do?” Zelena asked and Regina shrugged again.

“I told her if she didn’t tell a judge herself then I will. But I don’t know if I can.”

“You still love her?”

“Of course I do,” Regina sighed. “I just hate her at the same time.”

“Well you know what they say about love and hate…”

“I don’t need a philosophy lesson right now, Zelena,” Regina huffed. “The lesson from this is I’m a naïve idiot. Yet again a beautiful blonde has made a fool out of me. I should have known. Why would someone as beautiful and wonderful as Emma ever fall in love with a boring workaholic loner like me? It’s like Mal all over again. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”

“No, Regina,” Zelena instantly disagreed. “I saw you two together. The way she looks at you is no act. She loves you. So she lied about this and she was wrong to do that but in her defence you’d only been dating less than a week.”

“It’s not about the time, it’s about how we felt about each other,” Regina argued. “She was practically living in my apartment with her son. She got me a cat!”

“You have a cat? Bring me pictures next time!”

“Zelena!”

“Sorry,” Zelana sighed. “But seriously, I wanna see this cat.”

“Fine, to be honest I don’t know what I’m going to do with him either. He’s Henry’s new best friend.”

“You are not getting rid of the cat,” Zelena told her sternly and Regina rolled her eyes.

“I’m not getting rid of the cat and that is not the issue here! The issue is my girlfriend lying to me!”

Zelena held her hands up defensively.

“Okay, now you listen to me, little sister. Emma is not like Mal. Mal is a queen bitch and I hated her guts. Mother does too and Father used to rant about how she wasn’t good enough for you on the daily. Now I like Emma, Mother likes Emma, and I’m sure Father would have liked her too. I don’t think she’s done this to hurt you, she probably didn’t tell you in case you reacted like this.”

“Why are you defending her?!”

“I’m not defending her,” Zelena snapped. “If you can’t forgive her, fine. I wouldn’t blame you. But telling yourself Emma is like Mal is not gonna make you stop loving her, especially when you know she’s not like that at all.”

Regina sighed, knowing what Zelena was saying was true. Emma was nothing like Mal and that only made this worse.

Once visitation was over, Regina went back to her car. Staring the engine, her radio came on and was playing some obscure rock song. She quickly changed the station and found a popular music station.

“Hope you are all enjoying the sun today,” said the generic radio DJ. “And what better way to spend it than a Stevie Nicks marathon!”

Regina sighed. Usually she would have loved nothing more (well except maybe a Bowie marathon) but like everything else, Emma had ruined even that. She reached over to change the station but as she did so, her sleeve pulled back slightly and she caught a glimpse of the bracelet Emma had given her.

She brought back her hand to look at it properly. She’d totally forgotten it was there, having only taken it off to go in shower. Turning over her wrist to see the little knot that kept it on, she tried to undo it yet found it a harder task that anticipated. Emma had been putting it on and taking it off for her and clearly two hands were better than two, even if they were lying hands.

The more she struggled with it, the more frustrated she became and the more tears started to fall. She quickly reached her limit and gave up, slamming her hands against the steering wheel to vent her frustration.

It was then that the emotions caught up with her and she couldn’t stop them from taking over her. Listening to the songs she and Emma had danced to in blissful happiness two nights before, cried her heart out alone in her car.

Chapter Text

As soon as Regina walked out of the elevator to the Gold&Co. offices, she was instantly bombarded by Ruby who was cradling Junior in her arms.

“I can’t believe you put the phone down on me!”

Regina sighed, reaching out to take Junior from her.

“I didn’t have a choice. We had the upper hand.”

She lifted Junior up to get a good look at him, her mood slightly improving.

“Hello my little prince, Mommy’s back. Oh yes she is.”

Ruby tutted and shook her head.

“I can picture it now. Crazy cat lady living in a huge mansion, everything floral.”

“More like block colours and wooden furnishings,” Regina corrected her. “I have refined tastes.”

“Regina Mills!”

Regina protectively brought the kitten close to her chest as she looked to wear her mother stood down the corridor.

“Can I speak to you in your office?”

Regina sighed, ignoring Ruby’s laughter.

“Sounds like your in trouble,” she teased and Regina stuck out her tongue in reply before following her mother with Junior in her arms.

Once she reached her office, she found her mother waiting, holding open the door.

“Take a seat.”

Regina moved to walk round her desk.

“No.”

With a huff, Regina moved round to sit in the visitors chair while her mother closed the door and took her usual seat behind the desk. She held out her hands expectantly.

“Cat, please.”

Regina reluctantly handed Junior over, watching her mother place him in her lap, out of sight.

“How was your trip? I wasn’t expecting you back till this evening.”

Her mother completely ignored the question.

“I hear the witness testimony went well today.”

“That it did,” Regina nodded. “I don’t want to jinx anything but we had the upper hand in the end.”

Her mother didn’t look at all impressed.

“I also heard you had a disagreement with Emma.”

Regina covered her surprise by clearing her throat and raising an eyebrow.

“And who did you hear that from?”

“Emma herself,” her mother replied. “She’s in my office.”

“She’s what?”

Regina got to her feet, ready to storm that office. The nerve of that woman.

Sit down,” her mother said sternly and Regina instantly got back in her chair. “She came here looking for you and she ran into me. You will have the opportunity to talk to her, scream at her, throw stuff at her to your heart’s content. But after we have had this discussion. Is that clear?”

Regina just nodded in reply. She loved her mother very much yet when she spoke to her like this, she was absolutely terrified of her.

Cora Mills picked Junior up and placed him down on the floor. He instantly scampered under the desk to Regina and curled up next to her foot.

“Regina, you may have noticed I have been acting a little out of character as of late.”

“Indeed I have,” Regina nodded. “But you are working far too much.”

“Maybe, I have but that is not the reason.”

A surge of worry ran through Regina. Suddenly the whole thing with Emma was at the back of her mind and was replaced with terrible thoughts of what her mother may say next.

“Not long before you took on this case, I found a lump,” her mother began to tell her daughter, who listened with wide eyes. “It was rather large and I felt as though I should make an appointment with my doctor. After a few scans, he confirmed it was a tumour. He said he’d have to refer me to a specialist but told me that if it was indeed cancerous, my prognosis would not be good.”

Regina felt like the floor had come apart from underneath her feet. She felt like she was falling.

“I was very shocked by this, as you can imagine,” her mother continued. “But mostly I was worried, worried about you and your sister. I wanted to make sure you had each other if the worse were to happen, that you were both financially stable, but most of all, that you were both happy.”

“Mother, you don’t have to worry about us,” Regina assured her but her mother instantly shook her head in disagreement.

“No, I do. Your sister is in prison and once she is out, she’ll have a big mountain to climb. Yes, it was easy to have money set aside for her but I didn’t want her to be alone if I wasn’t around anymore. She needed you but you also needed someone. You were married to your work and the only people you interacted with were Ruby and I. Then Emma came into the picture and everything seemed to fall into place. You looked so happy, Regina, and that’s all I ever wanted. I made it my mission to encourage this relationship in any way I could. Then Emma went and exceeded my expectations, made you confident enough to reconnect with your sister, make you strong enough to forgive Mary-Margaret. It was then I realised Emma was not just a means to making you happy. She was capable of lessening the void I’d leave behind when I was gone.”

“No-no,” Regina shook her head frantically, tears glistening in her eyes. “No one could ever replace you.”

“I know,” the older woman smiled sadly. “But having Emma and Henry would make it a lot easier on you and the responsibility you’d have to carry. My shares in the firm, the family fortune, your sister. You’re a strong woman, stronger than you think, but even you couldn’t hold those burdens alone.”

“So you’re saying I should forgive Emma? Because you’re dying and I-I need someone when that happens?”

“Exactly,” her mother nodded. “But I’m not dying.”

Regina did a double take.

“What?”

“Turns out its benign, very anti-climactic. Typical private practises, get you all worried and make you spend money when there was no real problem in the first place. I’m having it removed in a few weeks, nothing to worry about.”

With a great sigh of relief, Regina slumped back in her chair, a hand on her rapidly beating heart.

“For Christ sake, Mother.”

“Well you had a right to know,” her mother shrugged.

“Where was that attitude all that time you were keeping this from me?”

“You had a case and I didn’t want to worry you until I knew for sure. In hindsight it’s a good job I didn’t.”

Regina just shook her head.

“You’re unbelievable.”

Her mother chose to ignore that comment.

“So I think you should forgive Emma.”

“Why should I?” Regina huffed, her anger returning. “She lied to me and put my job at risk.”

“Oh Regina, grow up,” her mother snapped. “Nothing is ever that black and white. Anyway, I’m not asking you to run off into the sunset with her. I want you to at least be civil considering you’ll both be working here together.”

“What?” Regina frowned. “Mother, you do realise she’s not actually a lawyer, right?”

“Of course I do. I’m not stupid, Regina. May I also remind you I’ve been a lawyer since before you were even conceived?”

Regina rolled her eyes. Why was she always like this?

“You can’t hire Emma knowing she doesn’t have a bar number. You’re just opening the doors for the States Attorney’s Office to investigate this place and I know there are a lot of skeletons you and Mr Gold want to keep hidden.”

“Now you keep your voice down,” her mother scolded. “And I’m hiring her after she passes her bar exam. I’ve made the arrangements, used some leverage and cashed in some favours to do so I might add, and she will take it tomorrow in one of the conference rooms. It’ll be sent straight off by messenger to be marked and by the end of the day tomorrow, she’ll be a hireable lawyer. All under the rug, no one would ever know.”

“I very much doubt Emma would agree to that.”

“She already has,” her mother replied. “She didn’t really have much of a choice- sign a two year contract with us and become a real lawyer or be arrested for fraud.”

Mother!

“What? It’s a very generous offer.”

Regina shook her head in disbelief.

“What if I don’t want her here?”

“Tough.”

“What happened to you ‘wanting to be happy’?”

Her mother sat up straight in her chair.

“Regina, being on the verge of death taught me a lot…”

“You were not on the verge of death,” Regina cut in, earning a glare from her mother.

“Well I didn’t know that at the time did I? And don’t interrupt your mother.”

Regina sighed and slumped back in her chair like a sulking child.

“Any, as I was saying,” her mother continued. “This experience has taught me take every opportunity life throws at you and Emma Swan is an excellent lawyer. This is a business opportunity I cannot pass up.”

“Mother, aren’t you going to take some time off?” Regina asked with concern. “I mean, you’ll be having surgery soon and this has been an emotional ordeal. I thought you’d slow down for a while.”

She instantly regretted saying anything when she saw the look of insult on her mother face.

Slow down? Regina, I may seem ancient to you but I’m still in my prime and very capable of working thank you very much. Anyway, I feel reborn and I have big plans for expansion. Oh also I’d like you to sit in a meeting with me and Miss French about suing my doctor for the false diagnosis.”

Regina rolled her eyes. Only her mother.

“Alright, Mother.”

“I also heard you may be wanting some time off and I’ll tell you now that will not be happening.”

“I only wanted a few weeks to look after Junior,” Regina quickly argued but her mother shook her head.

“I’ll hire a cat nanny if you are that bothered about it. Also may I remind you that if you cannot work with Miss Swan and decide to leave the firm, you’ll have a 6 month notice period which you will be expected to finish. Do you understand?”

Yes Mother,” she sighed, feeling as though she was six years old again getting told off.

“Good, now go speak to Emma. Do me a favour and let her explain herself before biting her head off. I know how hot headed you get.”

“I get it from you,” Regina pointed out and her mother nodded.

“Yes, you do. But there is a lot of your father in you and he forgave me for a lot more than what Emma has done.”

Regina nodded in understanding before leaning down and picking Junior up, handing him over to her mother again.

“Can you watch him for a moment?”

Her mother nodded, happily taking the small kitten. Regina watched them both for a few moments before getting up and leaving the office.

It was time to face Emma again.

Chapter Text

The walls of her mother’s office were almost completely glass and so Regina saw first. The blonde was facing away from her, looking out at the city skyline. Her golden curls flowed down her back, clad in the red leather that was no longer so repulsing.

Regina felt so feeble. Despite her anger and feelings of betrayal, the mere sight of Emma Swan still made her weak at the knees.

She forced those thoughts out of her mind and held her head high, completing the final steps and swept into the office.

Upon hearing the door open, Emma turned round. From her expression, Regina could tell she was surprised to see her.

“Regina?”

Regina said nothing in reply, trying to quash the anger while ignoring the shiver sent down her spine when Emma spoke her name. She made her way over to her mother’s desk and opened one of the bottom draws, finding the bottle of whisky and glasses she knew the older woman kept hidden.

“Fancy a drink?” she asked Emma as she placed the two glasses down on the desk and poured herself a drink.

“Sure,” Emma shrugged, hands nervously in her pockets. “I erm never took you as a whisky person.”

“I’m usually not but I’m making an acception today,” Regina replied, pouring Emma her drink and handing it over. “I’ve just had a very interesting conversation with my mother.”

“You have?”

“Yes,” Regina nodded. She didn’t know why she still felt the need to tell Emma this, after todays bombshell was well entitled to keep some things to herself. Still she felt compelled to tell the blonde everything. “She told me she found a lump and her doctor said the prognosis wasn’t good. Apparently this was all while we were working on the case and she never told me.”

“Wait, what? Your mom’s….”

“Oh no,” Regina quickly jumped in. “It turns out it was benign, though she didn’t tell me that until after I was an emotional wreck.”

Shit,” Emma gasped. “Are you okay?”

“I’m more shook up than anything,” Regina replied. “Today hasn’t done anything for my nerves.”

Emma looked down at her glass. It was obvious she was feeling guilty.

“I’m still very much angry at you, Emma,” Regina told her honestly. “But right now, after what my mother’s said, I don’t have the energy for an argument. She asked me to allow you to explain and now would be the best time.”

Emma nodded, looking up to meet Regina’s gaze.

“Can I-can I sit down?”

“Of course.”

Emma moved to sit in the armchair her mother used for reading. Regina remained stood, leaning against the desk.

“As you know, I had Henry while I was at law school,” Emma began. “It was hard but I was making it work. Henry has never been particularly difficult and I made sure I kept myself on top of everything. Then, about a week before the bar exam, he started teething. I was up most nights with him and didn’t get any sleep the night before the exam so of course I flunked it. My scholarship didn’t extend to retaking the exam and I had no money so that was the end of that. I got a job in a diner full time and had enough for us to get by. I always planned to retake it when Henry was older but I never intended to do this. Thing is, there was this sweet old couple who lived in the apartment opposite and one day they were at the grocery store and the wife slipped. She’d broken her leg and all her face was busted up but they couldn’t afford the extra care so her husband had to do everything. They looked into getting a lawyer but everyone they talked to seemed to mess them around. In the end I said I’d help. Just once for a good cause. I didn’t see the harm. Anyway, I won the case for them and suddenly I had more people around the area asking me to represent them. I tried to refuse them but the money….Regina, we were living below the poverty line and I wanted to do my best for Henry. It was selfish and stupid and I’m sorry. I wasn’t trying to fool you or anyone. I’d just dig myself into a hole I couldn’t get out of.”

Regina nodded in acknowledgement. It was selfish and stupid but she didn’t live in Emma’s world. If she’d failed her bar exam, she’d have had a check sent off the very next day for a retake. She never had a child to support and even if she did, her trust fund would alone would have made them comfortable. Still, she hated the lie.

“My mother said you’d accepted her deal,” she said, not sure yet of what to say in reply to Emma’s explanation. “I was surprised. You said you liked being freelance.”

“I do, even if I had a bar number I would but Henry is more important,” Emma answered. “He doesn’t deserve to grow up like I did.”

Regina nodded in agreement. Henry didn’t deserve that at all.

“And you are okay with working here?”

“Could be worse,” Emma shrugged. “I’m sorry if you don’t want me here and if the circumstances were different, I wouldn’t have taken it but…”

“No, no, I understand,” Regina assured her. “My mother put you on the spot and in your shoes I would have made the same choice.”

“You’d probably never get in this situation in the first place, though,” Emma pointed out with a nervous laugh.

“True,” Regina nodded. “I do assure you you’ll do well being here.”

“I’m sure I will,” Emma nodded.

There was a long awkward silence between them. It felt as though another glass wall had appeared between them, thin enough so they could talk but thick enough to feel the separation.

Usually it was Emma who broke their silences but this time it was Regina’s turn.

“I understand why you did it, why you lied, but I’m not ready to forgive you.”

Emma nodded in understand.

“I understand,” she said sadly.

“But I do want to,” Regina added. “I’m just hurting too much right now. I-I can’t trust you and right now I can’t just carry on as we were.”

“I’d never expected to. I know I’ve betrayed your trust but I swear I’ll do everything I can to earn it back.”

“I hope you can,” Regina nodded. “I don’t want to lose you, or Henry.”

“You’ll never lose us,” Emma quickly assured her. “Your family now. Even if we aren’t together.”

Regina smiled at that. With her feelings in a frenzy, the stability was much appreciated.

“I’m sorry for shouting earlier.”

“You had every right,” Emma shrugged. “I deserved it.”

“No you didn’t. I should have at least given you a chance to explain.”

“You have now and now is what matters. Okay, we just take it by day, no pressure. If we get back together, great. If we don’t, you’ll always have me. My love for you spans across numerous definitions. We’ll make it work, someway or another.

Regina nodded in agreement.

“We’ll make it work.”

The moment was broken by the sound of Emma’s cell phone. Pulling it out of her pocket, she frowned at the message on the screen.

“It’s Mal. She’s coming here with another settlement offer.”

Regina moved over and read the message with surprise.

“Wow, she really must be worried about the jury verdict.”

“I’ll call Mary-Margaret and tell them to get down here,” Emma said, tapping away on her phone.

“Right, good idea,” Regina nodded. “I can’t believe this case is almost over.”

“Almost,” Emma repeated.

Chapter Text

Mal sat opposite them wearing a sour expression. Camilla Duvall was sat next to her, to everyone’s surprise.

“No too busy to join us today, Ms Duvall?” Regina asked, earning a spiteful glare.

“We are here with a settlement offer,” Mal told them. “I hope we will be able to come to an agreement on settlement.”

“Why do we need a settlement?” David pipped up. “After all, it’s been proven what happened had nothing to do with us.”

“Juries can sometimes be unpredictable,” Emma answered. “Though you do have a point there. Why should we accept an offer when it looks very likely we’ll win?”

“Because are you really ready to put two million on a very likely?” Mal asked challengingly. “Look, this is the best way forward. My client gets money, yours doesn’t end up bankrupt. Simple as that.”

“True, but there is also the fact that my clients will have not cleared their names,” Regina countered, which caused Mal to roll her eyes.

“Look, no one will remember this when the truth about what happens gets out there, which it most definitely will. Just take the chance and settle.”

Emma and Regina looked to David and Mary-Margaret, who as rehearsed just shrugged in reply.

“Okay the,” Emma nodded. “What’s the number?”

“$100,000” Ms Duvall answered. “Coverable by insurance.”

Regina and Emma looked to the couple again, who shook their heads.

“We don’t want our insurance to go up,” David answered. “We’ve got a wedding to pay for.”

“But we have an offer for you,” Mary-Margaret pipped up. “That is if you’re clients would be interested?”

Both Mal and Ms Duvall sat up at that.

“They would,” Mal answered. “How much?”

“I’m not sure exactly,” Mary-Margaret replied, reaching under the table for the tote-bag. “I didn’t really count it.”

With that, the pixie haired woman placed the large My Little Pony covered jar on the table.

“What is the meaning of this?” Ms Duvall demanded.

“This is our offer,” Mary-Margaret told her. “It’s blood money and I don’t want it in my home. So Mr and Mrs Darling are welcome to it. How much is in here again, Regina?”

“About £5,500 I think,” Regina replied.

At that, Mal laughed.

“You honestly think we would settle for that?”

“Well it’s either that or nothing,” Emma replied. “Let’s face it, no one is going to give the parents of Mr Future Serial Killer anything. In fact, this is a very generous offer. If it was me, I’d let you get nothing. But you know David and Mary-Margaret, always the good Samaritans.”

Regina almost laughed; Mal looked absolutely horrified.

 

“I can’t believe they took it,” Mary-Margaret said for the tenth time, accepting the glass of champagne Regina handed her.

“Do you really keep $2,000 bottles of champagne just lying around?” Emma asked and Regina shook her head.

“No, the more common ones are the $10,000 ones,” Regina answered. “I prefer this kind though, not as flashy.”

Emma took a sip from her glass and groaned

“Damn, I can’t wait to work here now.”

“You have a job here?” Mary-Margaret gasped. “Congratulations!”

Regina rolled her eyes and was about to take a sip from her own glass when someone sharply cleared there throat from the doorway. She looked and saw it was Mal.

“I’m sorry, can I borrow Regina for a moment?”

Regina looked to Emma, who was staring at the contents of her glass. She probably thought it was none of her business anymore and for some reason that bothered Regina more than she thought it would.

Still she got to her feet and met Mal in the corridor, closing the door behind her.

“Mal, what do you want?” Regina sighed. Not so long ago, she’d have jumped at the chance to have an intimate conversation with the rival lawyer. Now she just wished she was back in the conference room with a completely different blonde.

“Drinks,” Mal replied. “I’m not taking no for an answer, Regina.”

“Well you’re going to have to,” Regina said strongly. “I don’t want anything to do with you.”

“Don’t lie,” Mal told her. “Why else would you be messing around with that little street urchin?”

“Excuse me?”

The other woman just laughed.

“Don’t pretend, Regina. I saw the way Miss Swan was watching you today. You have her on the same hook I had you on all those years ago and I have to say I’m impressed. Although you don’t have to do that anymore. You have my attention.”

Regina couldn’t believe the nerve of that woman.

“I don’t want your attention and I’m not manipulating Emma. I love her.”

She surprised herself how easy that came out but neither the less she didn’t take it back. They’d only called it quits an hour ago and Regina already wished she could take that back….wait, what?

Regina’s inner monologue was cut off by Mal practically laughing in her face.

“Oh Regina, you can’t be in love with her.”

“I can’t?” Regina questioned. “Why not?”

“She’s not one of us,” Mal said instantly. “Yes, it may be fun to walk on the wild side but there are people that are made for our world and those who aren’t. You can’t have the future with her that you could have with me.”

“I could never have a future with you because I don’t want to be with you. I want to be with Emma.”

Again, she surprised herself. She looked back through the glass door and met Emma’s gaze. Emma quickly looked away, as though trying to pretend she hadn’t been watching them. Regina smiled- she was such an idiot.

But Regina was an even bigger idiot and she now realised what a mistake she’d made.

How could she have been so eager to get Mal back after she’d practically smashed her heart with a sledgehammer and been unable to forgive Emma for a good-intentioned lie? Yes it was a big lie, one she wouldn’t forget easily, but Emma had never wanted to hurt her. Mal had crushed her completely and had done it out of pure spite.

Emma made her feel good about herself; Mal made her feel worthless. Emma broke down her wall; Mal pushed her into building them higher. Emma loved her; Mal used her. She loved Emma; she thought she’d loved Mal, but really she’d had no clue what real love was.

Not until now.

“Emma’s not perfect,” Regina found herself saying. “She’s messy, she’s inappropriate, she acts like a child, she wears that hideous leather jacket everywhere she goes and insists to drive a death trap of a car. And she lied to me, right to may face about something so important. But she makes me happy, makes me feel safe and wanted. Look me in the face, right now, and tell me you are capable of doing the same.”

Mal pushed her lips held her head high.

“There are more important things in life than happiness, Regina.”

“That’s where you’re wrong,” Regina replied. “It’s the whole point.”

Mal just scoffed in response.

“You’ll regret this one day. Goodbye Regina, I hope happiness can be enough for you.”

With that, the tall woman turned on her heel and stalked off towards the elevator.

“Goodbye Mal,” Regina whispered, watching her go.

She took in a deep breath before entering the conference room one again.

“Regina?” Mary-Margaret instantly spoke up, her voice laced with worry. “Is everything okay?”

“Just dandy,” Regina replied, making a b-line for Emma. She took her half full champagne glass from her and put it on the table beside her own.

“Hey!” Emma protested but Regina didn’t give her much chance to continue as she took her hand and pulled the blonde out of her chair.

“David, Mary-Margaret, feel free to take the champagne home with you and you are more than welcome to stay here till you are ready to go. Ask Ruby to call you are car when you’re done. I know this is a big ask, but could you watch Henry tonight?”

“Certainly,” Mary-Margaret grinned. “Regina, thanks again. For everything.”

“What are lawyers and friends for,” Regina smiled back before dragging Emma out of the conference room.

“Regina, what are you doing?” Emma questioned yet made no attempt of struggling, quite willing to be pulled around the office space.

Regina dragged her to her mother’s office. She could see her mother sat in the armchair with Junior on her lap. Not wanting her beloved kitten to escape, she opened the door wide enough to poke her head through.

“Mother, can you cat-sit for me tonight?”

She watched as her mother’s eyes travelled to were her hand was intertwined with Emma’s and a bright smile appeared on the older woman’s lips.

“Of course. Enjoy your evening.”

Regina gave her mother a quick smile before closing the door and dragging Emma back across the floor, this time to Ruby’s desk.

“Holding hands?” Ruby frowned when she saw them. “What did I miss?”

Regina didn’t answer the question. She didn’t have the time.

“Ruby, is the client suite free?”

The long-haired brunette frowned as she reached into her draw and got out the key card.

“Yeah, it’s free but why would you need…Regina Mills, you wild dog!”

Regina just smirked as she took the key card from her.

“You’re not the only one with game, Lucas,” she said with a wink before dragging Emma to the lifts. There was a crowd of people waiting for the elevator as the doors opened but Regina pushed right by them.

“Boss’s daughter coming through on important business. Wait for the next one.”

As expected, they all stepped back, giving the couple an elevator all to themselves.

“Okay, now tell me what this is all abou…”

Before she could finish, Regina grabbed at her jacket and pulled her into a deep searing kiss. This time it was her who took the lead held up Emma who had gone noticeably weak at the knees.

When she eventually pulled away, she brought Emma with her who was less willing to break apart.

Holy shit, Regina,” Emma breathed, in a state of shock.

Regina laughed and cupped her cheek.

“I hope that was okay with you.”

“It was very okay,” Emma insisted. “But I thought you wanted to call it quits?”

“I did,” Regina nodded. “But talking to Mal made me realise something. I was putting too much pressure on you….

“No, you weren’t,” Emma shook her head frantically.

“No, I was, in my head anyway,” Regina told her. “I’d put you on a pedestal, thought you were the definition of perfect and when you lied, it tainted that. But now I see that no one is perfect and everyone has told a lie once in a while.”

“Not many that would risk jail time,” Emma countered, which made the brunette laugh.

“Wait till you start working here.”

Emma laughed too.

“Fair enough. But still, I don’t blame you for being mad. I put your job at risk and I betrayed your trust.”

“Yes, and I still don’t trust you yet,” Regina made clear. “The thing is, we broke up an hour ago and I can’t bare with just haven stolen glances across a room. Not now I see you clearly for the first time.”

“What do you mean?” Emma frowned.

“That you’re not perfect and you’re never going to be. But I don’t want you to be, either. I didn’t fall in love with a perfect person, I fell in love with you.”

A wide grin appeared on Emma’s lips while a single tear fell down her cheek. Regina was quick and caught it with her thumb.

“So we are back together?” Emma asked hopefully, her eyes alone telling Regina were she stood one the situation.

“Yes,” Regina nodded. “But no more rushing, no more expectation. Just one day at a time, okay?”

“Sounds perfect to me,” Emma agreed. “So where are we going?”

“A hotel,” Regina answered.

“A hotel?”

“Yes, i-is that okay with you?”

“It’s more than okay.”

“Great,” Regina smiled before leaning in to kiss her once more.

 

Making love to Emma Swan was unlike anything Regina had experienced.

Like most of their relationship, it had been at 11 the entire time. Long, passionate, and beyond divine- by the end Regina wasn’t just seeing starts, she was every much among them.

She couldn’t stop smiling as she lay there in the satin sheets of the king-sized bed. Though the day had been hard, the evening had so far been magical.

The door to the bathroom opened at Emma came out clad in one of the hotel bathrobes, her hair noticeably damp. She flopped down on the bed next to Regina.

“That was the best shower I’ve ever had! Next time, you’re joining me.”

Regina laughed and leaned over to kiss her girlfriend on the cheek.

“You’re cute in your fancy bathrobe.”

Emma grinned, taking in the luxury suite they were spending the night in.

“This place is just…wow.”

“It’s the Gold&Co. lifestyle so you’d better get used to it.”

“And what a chore that will be,” Emma teased, looking at Regina suggestively. “So, shall we go again?”

Regina pretended to think before shaking her head.

“No.”

“No? Why? Did you not enjoy it?”

“You know I enjoyed it,” Regina replied and Emma smiled smugly.

“Hell yeah, I do.”

Regina rolled her eyes and got out her phone.

“I was on the app store while you were in the shower and I found this great one that’s like study flash cards. I downloaded it and they have some for the bar exam.”

Emma groaned and tried to bat the phone away.

“No studying, not sexy.”

Regina quickly cleared her throat.

“Emma Swan, you will pass this exam and you will do so with flying colours.”

Emma said nothing, just continued to sulk. Regina sighed- time to get creative.

“How about if you do well on these flash cards, I reward you.”

Emma instantly propped herself up.

“Reward how?”

“How do you think?”

With that, Emma quickly sat up straight, crossed legged.

“Let’s study, Mills.”

Regina rolled her eyes. She loved this idiot more than she could say. Whatever happened tomorrow, whether their plan worked or failed, they’d get through it.

Because Emma brought her so much happiness and that was what Regina had been searching for all along.

Chapter Text

2 and a half years later….

Regina stood in the foyer of the firm’s office, admiring the newly installed sign for Mills&Co. with pride. She’d thought it would be odd seeing her family name up on the walls that had been before covered in Gold. But looking at it now, it felt right.

“Regina!”

She snapped out of her musing and looked to Ruby, who was wearing a short sleeved shirt that was certainly not formal. If her mother had been here, Ruby would have been forced to change but Regina didn’t mind. It was a pretty hot day after all.

“Ruby, what’s up?”

“Your car is out front.”

“Thank you,” Regina nodded, getting her handbag that she had left on one of the armchairs.

“You nervous?” Ruby asked. “It’s gonna be weird having her around again.”

“It will and I am,” Regina answered. “But I’m also very excited.”

“Yeah, bet you are,” Ruby laughed. “Good luck.”

“Thank you, Ruby. I’ll see you on Monday.”

Regina made her way downstairs and got into the chauffeured car that was waiting for her.

The drive was as long as it usually was but she always found it better when she wasn’t driving. When she could just look out of the window and daydream the time away.

It took over an hour but finally the car pulled up in the parking lot of the prison. Jumping out and giving the driver a generous tip, Regina regarded the building with distaste. Hopefully this would be the last time she’d have to come here for anything other than work.

It didn’t take her long to see the bright yellow bug parked just across the parking lot, or the beautiful blonde approaching her.

“Where’s you car?” Emma asked, greeting her girlfriend with a  short kiss.

“It wouldn’t start this morning,” Regian sighed, taking Emma’s hand as they walked towards the building.

“Again? Right that settles it. We are going to the showroom tomorrow and getting you a new car.”

“No,” Regina whined. “She just needs a little tuning up.”

“She’s always needing a tuning up,” Emma countered. “Babe, I love Joanie as much as you but she’s had her day.”

“You’re car has too!”

“Yeah the bug is beat up but at least it’s still driveable. Look, we need a more family car anyway and this is the perfect opportunity to do that.”

“I’m on a partner’s salary now. We can have three cars easy.”

Emma sighed and shook her head.

“There is a difference between what we can have and what we need to have. I’ll take a picture of the thing and frame it if that’ll make you happy but the car needs to go.”

Regina shrugged. She knew Emma was right but she wasn’t ready to accept it.

“I just don’t like the idea of her being crushed into a cube.”

“Neither do I,” Emma admitted. “But old Joanie needs to go.”

They walked into the prison entrance and the guard at the desk instantly acknowledged them.

“How can I help you today, ladies?”

“We’re here to pick up Zelena Mills,” Regina answered. “She’s getting released.”

“She’s just getting processed,” the guard told them. “Wait there and she’ll be out in a moment.”

Regina nodded and moved to stand with Emma by the door.

“We should have time to pick up the kids once we’ve dropped Zelena off,” she noted, checking her watch.

“Yeah hopefully,” Emma nodded. “If not, I’ll call Mary-Margaret.”

“Emma, she’s eight and a half months pregnant. She can’t just whip down and pick up two kids at your request.”

“She offered,” Emma said defensively. “And she’d only send David. She can barely move with the size of that bump. I’m telling you now, that’s gonna be one big baby.”

Regina nodded in agreement. Mary-Margaret was the size of a house.

It was then there was a loud sharp buzzing sound and a door opened revealing Zelena. It was weird seeing her in normal clothes, the very clothes that she’d worn when she’d entered this awful place. It showed how thin she’d gotten but Regina was more destracted by the bright smile on her sister’s face as she hugged the small bag of personal belongings to her chest.

Ass soon as she saw them, Zelena ran forward and pulled Regina into a tight embrace.

“Im finally free,” she cried out dramatically. Regina rolled her eyes but said nothing, just hugged her sister back.

“Okay ladies, lets get moving,” Emma encouraged. “We have to make it back for school leaving time.”

The drive didn’t seem as long on the way home as it did on the way there. Emma drove while Zelena went on and on about her plans now she was out of prison. Regina nodded along, knowing her sister would never get round to doing barely any of her plans. Still she was glad her sister was out of that place and finally have the opportunity to be an aunty.

Once they reached their destination, Emma parked up the bug and the trio headed up to Regina’s old apartment. When they reached the door, Regina handed Zelena the keys.

“Welcome to your new home.”

Zelena took the keys eagerly and unlocked the door, darting isnde as soon as she could.

“Wow, this place is huge!”

“I thought you’d like it,” Regina smiled. “That’s why I’ve been saving it. I’ll sign the leese over to you on Monday.”

Zelena sprawled herself out on the soaf and turned on the TV.

“God, I’ve missed this!”

“I’m glad your home, Zelena,” Regina told her. “I just wish Mother was here.”

Emma moved over and put a hand on her girlfriend’s shoulder.

“I do too.”

At that, Zelena rolled her eyes.

“She could have not gone on that business trip if she’d really wanted to.”

Regina rolled her eyes in return.

“Zelena, she’s the head of the firm now. Pretty suddenly too. She has a lot on her plate.”

It had been quite the scandal. Mr Gold ended up getting disbarred for taking money from a client’s account. Not that he faced any repercussions. He was currently sunning it up in the south of France with Miss French. Regina had been concerned when her mother stepped into his shoes but the older woman had taken to the role like a duck to water.

“Yeah, yeah, I know,” Zelena waved her off, flicking through the channels too fast actually see what was on. “I’m kinda glad she’s not here. I get a weekend of piece before the nagging begins.”

Regina looked at her watch and sighed.

“Z, we’re going to have to get going. My number is on the fridge along with Mother’s. She wants you to call her at six, okay?”

“I got it,” Zelena assured them. “Go pick up the kids and tell them their cool aunt Zelena will see them tomorrow.”

Regina rolled her eyes again but carried on smiling. Yet another duck was in order and she finally had her sister back.

The couple said their goodbyes to Zelena before rushing down to the bug. Once inside the little yellow Volkswagen, Regina checked her watch again.

“Okay, we have twenty minutes. We should get there in plenty of time if we set off now.”

But Emma just sat there, engine off, looking at Regina.

“Emma, we need to go,” Reina huffed but Emma held her hand up to stop her protests.

“We have time for this,” she told her.

Regina frowned as she watched Emma reach into her jacket pocket.

“We’ve talked about this a lot and you always said you wanted to wait until your sister was out of prison. Now she is, I don’t want to wait anymore.”

From her pocket, Emma pulled out a small black box. She opened it up to reveal a simple silver band with a large diamond front and centre.

“Regina Mills, love of my life and partner in everything from law to parenting, will you do me the upmost honour and become my wife?”

Regina stared at the ring in complete shock. She couldn’t actually believe this was happening.

“Yes, of course yes.”

Emma grinned, leaning over to press a sweet kiss on her lips before taking Regina’s left hand and slipping the ring onto it.

“I know it’s not much but I saw it and I just knew it was right.”

“I love it,” Regina smiled. “Where have you been hiding this?”

“Mary-Margaret’s apartment,” Emma admitted. “That’s why I took this morning off. I needed to get it and work out what I was going to say. I’ve never been so nervous in my life.”

“Why? You know I’d have said yes no matter how you asked me.”

Emma shrugged, staring down at the ring on her now fiancée’s finger with a smile.

“I wanted it to be perfectly us.”

“And it was,” Regina assured her. “I love you so much.”

“I love you too,” Emma grinned before putting her seatbelt on and starting up the car. “Now we are really gonna be late.”

 

Luckily traffic wasn’t bad and they made it to the school just in time for the kids to be let out. Regina smiled as soon as she saw Henry appeared- almost eight and growing up way too quickly for her liking but still the sweet boy that first stole her heart. Zoe trailed after him, a bright smile on her adorable little face.

They’d been dating about a year and already living together when Mary-Margaret told them about Zoe. Mary-Margaret had put on a special fun day for the children at a local children’s home and told them about a sweet little girl Henry’s age who was in need of a foster family. Turns out she had been abandoned as a baby in front of a fire station and had been passed around from pillar to post all her life. That deeply resonated with Emma, having gone through a similar situation herself and it didn’t surprise Regina in the slightest when her girlfriend told her she wanted to go meet her.

They went down to the children’s home to meet Zoe and honestly, Regina didn’t know what to expect. However, she certainly didn’t expect to meet a smart, strong, adorable young girl who in the short time they spent together stole both their hearts completely. They instantly began working on fostering her and Zoe had been with them ever since.

What made the fostering even more successful was not only the bond she and Emma formed with Zoe, but how close she and Henry had become. They were joint at the hip, siblings and best friends combined. It was amazing how it had all fallen into place, as though it was meant to be. They still had to finalise the adoption but they were a close, happy family.

“Moms,” Henry greeted them as he jumped into the back seat, shuffling across to let Zoe in too. “We got invited to Roland’s birthday party!”

“He’s having a bouncy castle!” Zoe added excitedly. “And a huge cake.”

“Very good,” Regina smiled. “Remember to give me the invitations when we get home. How was school?”

“Good,” Zoe answered. “We played Star Wars at recess. I was Leia, Henry was Luke, and Roland was Han.”

“It was awesome!” Henry added.

“That’s great, but what about your classes?” Regina prompted. “How did they go?”

“Alright,” both children said in union and with equal disinterest. While Regina sighed, Emma laughed.

 

When they got home, Junior was lounging out on the steps leading up to the house. He was now a fully grown cat and had quite a few extra pounds of additional cat treats and the occasional plate robbery. They’d tried putting him on a diet but he just went off and got fed from the neighbour so it was never any use.

He got to his feet when he noticed they had arrived and followed them into the house, heading through to the living room in pursuit of the kids.

“Moms, can we watch cartoons?” Zoe asked while Henry just went ahead and put it on anyway.

“Only until dinner’s ready,” Regina told them before walking through to the kitchen with Emma.

“I think we should order in pizzas,” Emma suggested. “As a treat to celebrate our big news. We can tell them over dinner.”

“Sounds like a plan,” Regina nodded. She never used to have take-out before she met Emma and now it was pretty much a weekly occurrence. She knew she’d put on some weight since then but Emma seemed to love it so she didn’t feel at all insecure. And, admittedly, she had developed quite the taste for pepperoni.

“So honeymoon,” Emma said as she perused the menu for the pizza place. “I’m thinking Vegas weekend then a week in Cali.”

“Vegas isn’t child friendly, Emma,” Regina pointed out.

“You want to take the kids with us?”

“Yes, why? Don’t you?”

“No, I’d love to go somewhere with the kids it just limits our choices,” Emma shrugged.

“Well, I actually did have an idea,” Regina told her, peaking Emma’s interest.

“You do? Lay it on me!”

“Well I was thinking Orlando. We could go to Disney and…”

Regina didn’t get to finish before Emma jumped up in celebration.

“Heck yeah! That’s settled. Wedding, then Disney. Man, I’m gonna have to make a checklist of all the stuff we have to see! Oh and then we could go to Universal and go to the Harry Potter bit and we could all get a wand! This is going to be so awesome!”

Regina rolled her eyes. Sometimes she felt like she was the mother to three children. Yet she still loved every minute.