She’d noticed it for weeks. Ever since that leather-clad loon had shown up, she had been unable to shake the sense that something was wrong. Even more alarmingly, Henry, who was normally affable and easy-going, had been acting alternately sullen and edgy. She put it down to the stress of the season leading to Christmas for her and Henry’s final exams.
But when his melancholy persisted past the end of the semester Emma grew concerned. Now, surrounded by tinsel and ornaments, Henry sat moping on the couch staring at an apple ornament. One of Emma’s fondest memories of Henry’s childhood Christmas traditions was his insistence that they use only red ornaments like the kids in the song.
Emma sighed deeply as she plopped down beside him.
“What is it, Kid?”
“I don’t know. Something just feels wrong.”
“With the tree?” Emma nudged him, making light of the situation.
Henry rolled his eyes, “No, Mom. It just feels like something is missing this year.”
“Henry, you just feel that way because we had to move in the Fall. We can make this place home, too. We’ve got the tree you picked out. We’ve got The Year Without a Santa Clause on. We’ve got cinnamon toast for the morning.”
“I know, Mom. I’m sorry. I just remember Christmas feeling different somehow.”
Emma sighed again, “I know, Hen. Believe it or not, I feel the same way.”
He looked at her hopefully, “You do?”
“So you don’t think anything is wrong with me?”
“Of course not. Lots of people feel a little sad around the holidays. It can be a stressful time of year.”
She reached over and pulled him toward her until his head rested on her shoulder and closed her eyes as she rubbed her hand up and down his arm. She kissed his messy hair and then let her chin rest on the crown of his head. Just as she closed her eyes she heard the opening strains of Blue Christmas.
The dampness on her cheeks surprised Emma, but not nearly as much as the shaking of Henry’s shoulders as he started to cry.
“Oh, Henry. I’m sorry. Christmas has always been your favorite.” She felt her heart aching for her son and squeezed her eyes shut as she held him closer and whispered, “I wish I knew how to make it better.”
Her eyes flew open as she heard a decisive knock at the door. She pushed Henry’s shoulders back as they peered at each other.
Henry shook his head silently. After their last visitor, Emma felt alarmed to have a second random person at her door in less than a month. She nodded once and said, “Henry, go to your room.”
He looked at her in alarm and shook his head vehemently. “No, I’m staying with you.”
“Henry, it’s fine. Just go.”
He stood reluctantly and went to his room. She stood and straightened out her sweater as she walked to the door. A glance through the peep hole showed that it was not the smelly leather guy again but a beautiful brunette fidgeting wildly.
Emma opened the door and met caramel colored eyes, which widened slightly even as she sighed her apparent relief.
“Uh…can I help you?”
The brunette looked at her shoes for a moment attempting to mask a flash of hurt. Emma, however, caught it. She felt a sense of déjà vu at the expression.
“Have we met before?”
Caramel eyes met hers again as the brunette’s head snapped up. She nodded slowly, “Yes, we have.”
“I’m sorry, I can’t seem to remember your name.”
Once again, Emma felt a familiarity at hearing the name. She tested it out, “Regina.”
They stood and stared for a moment before Regina realized she should say something more. She spotted the detritus of Christmas behind Emma and said, “Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t realize you were busy.”
“My son and I were just decorating our tree.”
“Henry,” the sound was a choked sob. Emma was mesmerized as she watched a tear trickle down a wind-burned cheek.
“Hey, are you ok?”
Regina nodded as she swiped at her cheek.
“How do you know his name?”
Emma was not sure why but she felt instinctively that she could trust this woman not to harm them. She called upon her super power and could sense nothing more than a woman in need of assistance.
“Why don’t you come in? I make a mean hot cocoa.”
Regina looked her in the eye and said, “Got anything stronger?”
The effect was instantaneous. Emma stared at her in amazement.
“We’ve had this conversation before.”
Memories of a grey dress and a white house came to her and Emma suddenly felt extremely unsettled.
“Ok. I get that we knew each other somehow. But you still haven’t said what you are doing here.”
Regina cleared her throat and took a step closer. “There’s something that I need to try,” she continued to approach.
Emma watched her approach and held her ground. “And what exactly might that be?”
Regina stopped when she was inches from her. She reached out a tentative hand to push a curl behind Emma’s ear. When their eyes met, Emma gasped.
“Close your eyes.”
Regina simply stared at her, her expression full of pleading. Emma sighed but then complied and let her eyelids flutter closed.
“Are you happy now?”
Emma held in her breath as she felt Regina’s fingers skate around to the back of her neck and pull her down until their lips met.
As a wave of magical energy pulse through her, Emma’s eyes flew open in shock before falling closed once more as she sank into the kiss. Emma snaked her arms around Regina’s waist and pulled her closer before pulling back her face but keeping her arms around Regina.
“Merry Christmas, Madame Mayor.”
Regina beamed at her, “Merry Christmas, Miss Swan.”
“Mom! Hey, Mom, I…” Henry had burst from his room but stopped dead at the sight of his mothers embracing in the doorway. “Mom,” the word was a choked whisper.
They stared at each other before Regina smiled tearfully at him. “Merry Christmas, Henry.”
Henry sprinted forward and threw himself into her arms. “Oh my God, Mom! I can’t believe you’re here! You did it! You broke the curse!”
At this, Emma looked thunderstruck and walked quickly away to sit on the living room couch.
Regina noticed her departure and said, “Henry, would you please go make the three of us some hot chocolate? I think your mom and I need to talk for a minute.”
He nodded and started to walk away but turned and said, “You won’t leave, right?”
She smiled and shook her head. “No Henry, I won’t leave.”
He beamed at her and skipped off toward the kitchen humming Santa Clause is Coming to Town. Regina watched him go with a fond smile before turning and walking over to settle herself beside Emma on the sofa. She folded her hands in her lap and waited for Emma to speak.
After a few minutes, her fingers tangling worriedly in her lap Emma said, “Henry said you broke the curse.”
“And I remember everything. Like, all the stuff in Storybrooke and Neverland. And that day at the town line.”
Regina winced as she nodded, “Yes, I think Henry remembers now, too.”
“I remembered when you kissed me.”
Regina cleared her throat and shifted uncomfortably.
Emma laughed suddenly. Regina, assuming she was laughing about the kiss flushed bright red and crossed one leg over the other, huffing.
“That must be why Hook kissed me.”
Regina’s eyes narrowed dangerously, “He did what?”
“That smarmy idiot thought he might be my True Love? How much rum has he been inhaling?”
Regina smirked at the insult. “Well, dear. I can’t blame a man for trying.”
Emma looked at her for the first time since she’d sat down. “But you did it.”
Regina lowered her gaze but Emma lifted her chin with a finger and lightly pressed her lips against Regina’s once again. It felt like fireworks and sunshine and coming home. She lifted a trembling hand to Regina’s cheek and said, “So that means that you…”
“It was in Neverland that I realized it, but I think it started before then.”
“I always thought it was only me,” Emma gazed at her with open wonder.
Regina shook her head and said, “I just never thought that you could…”
“Well, I tried not to,” Emma smirked playfully, “But you are one stubborn character, Madame Mayor.”
Regina’s expression changed from indignation to bright joy at sparring with the Sheriff once more.
“Do be quiet, Miss Swan.”
Emma would have retorted but as her lips were captured once more, she lost all coherent thought.
They jumped apart and looked around to see Henry balancing three mugs of cocoa in two hands. Emma leapt up to help him, her ears burning and the flush spreading across her chest.
“Henry, it’s…it isn’t what it seems like.”
“My mom didn’t break the curse by kissing you therefore proving she’s your true love?”
“Ok. I guess it’s exactly what it seems like.”
Regina piped up, “Henry, are you ok? Do you want to talk about this?”
He considered for a moment before replying, “No, I’m good.”
“Are you sure? You seemed a little…”
“Hey, I said I’m fine with it. That doesn’t mean I want to see you guys making out.”
Regina chuckled as Emma said cheerfully, “Fair enough, Kid. Fair enough.”
“Besides, I have like a million questions!”
Both mothers exchanged a glance as Henry bounced around excitedly.
“How did you get here? And on Christmas?” He gasped like he was coming up from the ocean and he desperately needed air, “Did you take Santa’s sleigh?”
Emma snorted and nearly choked on her hot chocolate until she took in Regina’s serious demeanor and said, “Oh my god, did you?!”
Regina’s lip twitched up into a half smirk and Emma slapped her shoulder playfully as she resumed her seat.
“Gotcha,” said Regina fondly.
“Yeah, you did,” Emma said as she took Regina’s hand and rubbed her thumb across the back. Regina smiled warmly at her.
“So how did you get here?”
“Storybrooke is back?!” Henry’s bouncing turned into a manic dance.
“Well, it wasn’t before. But I imagine it might be now.”
“You have to tell me absolutely everything.”
“Henry, chill. Let the woman breathe. There’s plenty of time for that.”
Regina smiled at her and said, “All the time in the world.”
Henry watched them for a moment and then ran forward to enclose them both in his arms for an awkward family hug. “This is what was missing. Now it feels like Christmas.”
Regina looked at Emma questioningly over Henry’s shoulder. The blonde shrugged and grinned, “It was a blue Christmas without you.”