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feel there’s something (rising rising in my veins)

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Emma wakes to the sound of beeping and the sharp smell of antiseptic. There’s a low, dull ache in her abdomen, but not much more pain than that, which is a bit surprising considering the last thing she remembers is a sword to the gut. 


Someone is holding her right hand, and when Emma finally cracks her eyes open and rolls her head to the side, she sees Regina in a padded hospital chair. Regina’s head is pillowed on one arm on Emma’a bed, hair mussed and all over the place, and her other hand tightly clutches Emma’s even in sleep. Where their fingers are entwined Emma can see a sluggish purple pulse, feel the warmth of Regina’s magic seeping into her skin. 


Emma’s squeezes Regina's hand, and Regina’s grip tightens in response before her head shoots up. Her skin is waxy and eyes red-rimmed and bloodshot, deep purple hollows underneath. 


“You look like shit,” Emma croaks, and Regina lets out a choked, disbelieving laugh. 


“You’re awake.”


“Seem to be,” Emma agrees. She shifts again in the bed, trying to prop herself up, and Regina presses a button, raising the bed until Emma is sitting.


“Are you all right?” Regina asks. She's still holding Emma’s hand, thumb absently smoothing across Emma’s knuckles. “Does it hurt, do you need more pain meds, or—”


“I'm okay,” Emma says. “A little sore, but not too bad. How long have I been out? Is everyone else okay?”


Regina nods, swiping at her face to wipe away something that looks suspiciously like tears. “Everyone's fine. They'd be here now, but Whale’s been pretty strict about visiting hours. They'll be very relieved to see you up. You've been…unconscious for about three weeks, now.”


Emma’s mouth opens in silent surprise. Three weeks? She's been out for three weeks? She swallows, trying to make sense of this.


“Emma?” Regina asks.


“Sorry,” Emma says. “Sorry, I'm fine, I just—that’s a long time.”


“Yes,” Regina agrees, and Emma can hear a world of weariness in that one word. 


“So Whale kicked everyone out but you, huh? No such thing as visiting hour restrictions for a Queen?” Three weeks. 


Regina offers a faltering smile and twitches their combined hands, still glowing purple. “I was awarded a human IV exemption.”


“You've been pumping magic into me this whole time?”


Regina looks away, smoothing out wrinkles in her pants. “We should get a nurse,” she says, instead of answering. “Whale will want to look you over. And I need to call Henry and your parents, tell them you're awake.”


“Regina—” Emma starts, but Regina is already pressing the call button, summoning a nurse. Regina steps out into the hallway to make her calls, abandoning Emma to the nurse’s mercy: taking her vitals, asking questions and muttering things like “unbelievable,” and “never would have expected it” until Emma’s head starts to spin. 


Twenty minutes later, Emma's family is crammed in the hospital room, watching anxiously as Whale examines her. Whale peels back the bandaging around her wound and Emma averts her eyes, not sure she wants to see. She hears her mom gasp, though, so she’s guessing that it probably doesn’t look pretty.


Whale prods around the edge of the wound, and Emma hisses. 


“Does that hurt?” he asks. 


“You poking at my stab wound? Yeah, I would say it hurts.”


Whale nods, and a nurse steps up with a clean bandage. “We’ll give you a slighter higher dose of painkillers,” he says. “You’ll rest better, and heal better, if you aren't hurting. Ultimately, though, it’s looking much better than I would have thought possible just a couple days ago. You're healing quite nicely now.”


“Great,” Emma says. “When can I go home?”


“Depends. In a normal situation, I would want to keep you in the hospital for possibly up to a month. You had extensive surgery.” 


“A month?” Emma starts to protest, but Whale holds up a finger to cut her off. 


“Your case, however, is unique in that you've had Regina healing you on top of what your body can do for itself. If she continues to provide assistance, you could be out much sooner.”


He glances at Regina, who's leaning against the far wall, one hand over her stomach, watching them with dark tired eyes. Regina nods once, and Whale turns back to Emma. “Excellent. You'll still need plenty of rest, of course. Minimal exertion and no strenuous activity. We’ll talk more about aftercare when you’re ready to leave. And you should have someone around to keep an eye on you, in case you have any…relapses.”


Emma notes everyone in the room exchanging nervous eye contact, but when she opens her mouth to question it, Snow jumps in. 


“Your father and I have your old room all ready for you,” she says eagerly. “We’re all set to—”


“She’ll be coming home with me,” Regina interrupts, a note of finality in her voice. “I can get her to the hospital faster than anyone else, should it be necessary. And do whatever else it takes in case there are any…relapses.” 


More anxious looks. 


“Right,” Snow says. “Right that makes…that makes sense.” 


“What's going on?” Emma asks. “Why is everyone so worried about relapses? I thought everything was looking good. I don’t even hurt that much, as long nobody’s poking me.” Of course, that could be the morphine. Emma glances from person to person, but no one will meet her eyes. “Mom?” she asks, and Snow opens her mouth to say something, but then closes it again. “Regina?” Emma tries next. 


Regina strides forward and rests a hand on Emma’s shoulder. “It's nothing you need to worry about,” she says firmly, looking at each person in the room in turn, as though daring them to contradict her. “You just concentrate on getting better.”


“That would be a little easier if I knew what was going on,” Emma grumbles. 


Regina smiles at her, and if it's a little strained, Emma supposes that's to be expected. Three weeks. 


“What's going on is that you're healing from a major trauma. Quite nicely, now, and we want to keep it that way.”


Emma wants to keep arguing, there is clearly something more going on that no one is willing to tell her, but she can feel the increased dose of morphine hitting her hard, eyelids drooping and body feeling like it might float away.


“We should let you get some rest,” her dad says. He leans down and kisses her on the forehead. “We missed you, baby girl,” he whispers. “I'm glad you're back with us.” 


Then Henry bends over, squeezing her hand. “Feel better, Mom,” he says. “I love you.”


Both Henry and David look at Snow, but she just raises her eyebrows and pulls up a chair. “Oh, I'm staying,” she says. 


“I'm just going to be asleep,” Emma objects, tongue feeling thick in her mouth. “You should go do things. Fun things. Being in a hospital with a sleeping person isn't a fun thing.”


“I'm staying,” Snow repeats. 


Regina has also settled back into her chair, and she takes Emma's hand in her own. Emma lets her head loll to look at Regina, and she feels a wide, dopey smile spread across her face. “My human IV,” she says. “Pumping me full of magic. Your magic feels good. I think it feels even better than the drugs. And these are good drugs. But the drugs have to come in through needles, and your magic just comes through your hand. You have soft hands. Did you know that?”


“Go to sleep, Emma.” Regina's voice is gentle but commanding, and Emma obediently closes her eyes. “Nice hands,” she murmurs, and she's out. 


Emma spends the rest of that day drifting between sleep and semi-consciousness, only vaguely aware of her mom and Regina on either side of her, and then, as the room gets darker, just Regina. The second and third days pass much the same way, and it's not until the fourth that her meds are lowered enough for her to stay conscious and cognizant for most of the day. 


Emma puts her newfound clarity to good use pestering Whale for an updated release date. He puts her off with vague obfuscations, but the fifth time she asks, finally sighs and relents. 


“Based on normal healing time, I would estimate you are about a week out from me being comfortable releasing you. That’s little more progress than Regina has been averaging in a day, but if she has an extra push in her, you could be out as early as tomorrow.”


Emma waggles her eyebrows and grins up at Regina. “What do you say? Up to help spring me from this joint?”


For a moment, Emma thinks she sees apprehension flicker across Regina’s face, in the slight widening of Regina’s eyes, the quick intake of breath. But then it’s gone, so quickly Emma thinks she must have just imagined it, Regina’s expression smooth and calm as she returns Emma's smile with a smaller one of her own. “I'll see what I can do,” Regina says. 


Later that night, when everyone else has left for the day and it's just her and Regina again, Emma flips through channels on the TV hanging on the wall opposite her bed. “Anything you wanna watch?” she asks Regina. 




Emma glances over at Regina, and frowns. Regina has her head resting against the raised side of Emma's bed, and with the drugs out of her system Emma is able to see just how worn out Regina looks. 


“Hey, you okay?” Emma asks. 


Regina raises her head. “Of course,” she says. She tries to smile at Emma, but now that Emma’s really looking she clocks the deeply etched lines around Regina's mouth, the way her eyes keep drifting out of focus. Emma starts to extract her hand from Regina’s, but Regina tightens her grip. 


“You don't actually have to do this,” Emma says. “I know I made a fuss earlier, but it won't kill me to spend a little more time in the hospital. I don't want you to—I didn't mean to pressure you into this.”


“Don't be ridiculous.”




Regina licks her lips, gazing at Emma with full brown eyes. “You're not pressuring me,” she says quietly. “I'm…very ready for you to come home. Whatever extra push that takes.”






Emma runs her thumb along the webbing between Regina's thumb and forefinger, and Regina lets out a little hum. “You don't even have a cot,” Emma murmurs. “I've been awake for four days, how am I just now noticing you don't have a cot?”


“No room,” Regina says. “The doctors need access. And I'm fine, Emma, really. It's only one more night. And then we can both go home. Let’s just focus on that, okay?”


Emma nods, leaning back against her pillows. She shifts a little, trying to get comfortable. 


“Hey Regina?”


“Yes, Emma?”


“Thanks for saving my life.”


Regina smiles at her, slow and sweet. “Any time, Swan. Just try not to make a habit of being sword-bait in the future.” She rests her head against Emma's bed again, closes her eyes. 


Emma resettles, tilting her own head so the top of just barely touches Regina's. 


“Night, Regina,” Emma murmurs, and with the feel of Regina's hair brushing her forehead, the scent of Regina's shampoo washing over her, she lets the world fade out.  




Whale has a surgery in the morning, and then the discharge paperwork takes longer than Emma was expecting, so it's late afternoon before she's finally gathering her things to go, changing into the t-shirt and yoga pants she pulled from the duffel Snow brought over earlier in the day. 


“Right then,” Regina says, as Emma finally signs the last release form and collects an assortment of papers on aftercare. “We should get going. Henry, will you grab Emma’s bag? I don’t want her carrying it.”


“They’re not going to make me ride out in a wheelchair?” Emma asks, looking around the room as though expecting one to materialize. 


“Not for the way we’re leaving,” Regina says. “Are you both ready?” Henry nods, and Emma follows suit, even though she’s still confused. “All right then.” Regina raises her arms, poofing them out.


They reappear in Regina’s room. Regina falters as the smoke clears, stumbling a little, and Emma and Henry both grab her by the elbows, steadying her before she can fall. 


“Hey there, easy,” Emma says. 


Regina blinks a few times, then steps out of their grip. “I'm supposed to be saying that to you,” she replies. 


“Yeah, well, no offense but right now I think you look worse than I do. Is there a reason you used your magic to poof us here instead of the more standard car trip?”


Regina is clearly still disoriented, but after a moment of squeezing her eyes closed she seems to refocus. “I thought getting in and out of a car might put unnecessary strain on your stomach muscles. And I didn't want you to have to use the stairs. You heard Whale, you're supposed to be avoiding excess exertion.”


“I don't think he meant that I'm not supposed to move at all,” Emma says, but Regina ignores her, going over to her bed and flipping back the covers. 


“Here,” she says. 


Emma just stares. “That's your bed.”


“I put on fresh sheets.”


“That's not what I—don't you have a guest room? I don't need to take over your bedroom.”


“The guest room is at the opposite end of the hallway from the bathroom. My room has an ensuite. This way—”


“No excess exertion, yeah. I think you’re maybe taking that one a little too far.” 


Regina ignores her, guiding Emma over to the bed and propping pillows behind her back. “You're being ridiculous,” Emma says as Regina smoothes the blankets over Emma’s lap. Emma turns to Henry, raises an eyebrow. “Come on kid, back me up here.” 


Henry shakes his head. “I know better than to fight Mom when she's in one of her overprotective moods.” 


“I am not being over—” Regina stops, catching the teasing glint in Henry's eye. “You're both impossible.”


“And you love us for it,” Emma teases. Regina's face softens, that special Henry look, with something else Emma can't identify shining in her eyes. 


Regina gives her head a little shake, and turns to Henry, resting a palm on his cheek. “I'll come down and get started on dinner once I've gotten Emma settled, okay? Will you go take a look and see what I have to work with?”


“Sure.” He kisses each of them on the cheek. “Love you, moms,” he says. “I'm glad you're both home.”


“We love you too, sweetheart.” Regina holds out her arms to him and he steps into the hug, resting his chin on her shoulder. “You did really good, Mom,” Emma hears him whisper. “Take a break now, okay?”


Regina nods, a watery smile on her face as she watches him go. He shuts the bedroom door behind him, and Regina swipes a finger under her eyes, then refocuses on Emma. “Are you comfortable?” she asks. “Do you need more blankets, or some of your pain pills, or—”


“I'm good,” Emma says, leaning back against the pillows. Regina starts bustling around the room, filling a glass of water and setting it on the nightstand next to Emma, straightening the throw on the end of her bed, fussing with the window and the curtains to let in the exact right amount of fresh air and light. She seems unwilling to stop moving, to take a breather and meet Emma’s eyes. 


“So,” Emma says, feeling awkward and way too aware that she is in Regina’s bedroom, in Regina’s bed. “Um, how have things been with the Queen?”


Regina looks up, confused. “What?”


“The Queen. She try anything new while I’ve been knocked out?”


Regina shakes her head, slowly. “No,” she says. “No, the Queen is…no longer an issue.”


“She didn’t get turned into a snake again, did she?”


“No.” Regina licks her lips, eyes Emma cautiously. “I reintegrated with her,” she says quietly.


“Oh,” Emma says, startled. “I…didn’t even know that was possible.” 


Regina’s watching her, studying Emma’s face, and Emma thinks her response must not be what Regina’s looking for, because after a moment Regina’s shoulders sag a little, eyes take on a look of sadness and defeat before she looks away.


Emma fumbles for something else to say, something that will erase that expression from Regina’s face. “How was it? Are you okay?”


Regina smiles, and something about it makes Emma want to cry. “I’m fine, Emma. You don’t have to worry about me.” She says it firmly, and Emma recognizes that the subject is no longer up for discussion. 


Emma chews on her lip, toys with the edges of the blankets folded over her lap. “You think we’re both finally going to get a break, now?” she asks. “Even just a month without any threats to our lives would be great.”


“I’m also pretty done with realm hopping,” Regina offers. 




“Endless new branches to our son’s insane family tree.”


“Ice monsters.”


“Demonic bats in hats.”


“You sound like a deranged Dr. Seuss,” Emma says, and Regina laughs, leaning against the closet doorframe. She picks up Emma’s duffel to move it out of the way, and Emma can see an exhausted tremor in her hand as she heft’s it onto her divan. 


“I’m going to go get dinner sorted,” Regina says. “Are you sure you don’t need anything before I go down? I’ll have my phone on me so you can text, but if there’s anything you want now—oh, should I close the window? It was stuffy in here so I thought the room could use the fresh air, but I don’t want you to get cold or—”


“Regina, I’m fine,” Emma interrupts. “You really don’t need to be doing this much.”


Regina opens her mouth, closes it again.“I just want to make sure you know I’m here for you,” she says. 


“I already know you are. You don’t need to run yourself ragged jumping through hoops to prove it.”


Regina looks away, and Emma frowns.


“You don’t think that, right? That you still have to prove yourself? Tell me you don’t think that.”


Regina’s closed eyes are the only answer Emma needs. 


“Regina, why?” Emma asks, genuinely bewildered.


Regina shifts her jaw to the side, bites her bottom lip. Emma just waits, hoping the silence will be enough to draw Regina out. 


When Regina finally speaks, her voice is so quiet Emma has to strain to hear her. “You thought it was me. Under the hood. You thought it was me.”


“Regina, I told you before, it was a vision, it's not like it was my subconscious telling me not to trust—”


“Bullshit!” Regina snaps, lifting her head to glare directly at Emma. Her eyes glitter with unshed tears. “You didn't see me holding a sword. You saw a shapeless, faceless figure under a hood, and when I wasn't with the rest of your family, instead of thinking  maybe I was stuck somewhere, or hurt, or dead, you jumped straight to ‘Oh, my killer must be Regina!’ That was your first thought. So don’t tell me I don’t still have to prove myself.” Regina looks up at the ceiling, like she’s trying to keep the tears from falling.“I ripped myself in half trying to be good enough, and I'm still—you still—” Her voice cracks, and she drops down onto the side of the bed, pressing a hand to her mouth. For a long minute she just sits there, taking in shuddering shaky breaths while she tries to get herself back under control. Then she closes her eyes and bows her head. “I’m sorry,” she says, voice low and hoarse. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have yelled. You just got out of the hospital, I shouldn’t—I’m sorry. I'm just so tired, I'm so…” Regina rubs her fingers against her temples, sounding close to tears again. “I'm so tired.” 


“Hey,” Emma says, sharp worry flooding her chest. She reaches forward to rest a hand on Regina's arm, and can feel Regina trembling through the thin fabric of her shirt. “Hey, maybe you should lie down for a while?”


Regina shakes her head, not turning around. “No,” she says. “No, I need to go help Henry with dinner, and there's so much laundry, and you might need help, and so I need—”


“You need to rest,” Emma says, more insistently this time. Regina's still shaking her head, but mechanically, like she isn't even aware of doing it. “Come on.” Emma pats the pillow next to hers. “Lie down. Even if it's just for twenty minutes. Otherwise I think you might pass out in the kitchen and our son should only have to be worried about one mom at a time, right?”


Regina lets out something that might be a laugh. Emma slides her hand down Regina's arm, tugging her back. 


At Emma’s pull, Regina brings her legs up so she's all the way on the bed. “Twenty minutes?” she says. She shifts to face Emma, eyes wet and conflicted. “You promise? And then you’ll wake me up?”


“I promise.”


“Okay,” Regina says, more to herself than to Emma. “Okay. Twenty minutes.” She starts to lie down, and Emma lays a light hand on Regina’s wrist. 


“Regina?” she says. Regina looks up at her, eyes half-lidded. “I’m sorry. I’m really, really sorry.”


Regina nods mutely, then curls up on the bed, closing her eyes. She's out before her head even hits the pillow. 


Emma spends the time flipping through her phone, and not that long after Regina falls asleep someone raps lightly on the bedroom door and opens it without waiting for an answer. 


“Regina, I brought over stuff for dinner, and I'm cooking, so don't even try—oh,” Zelena stops when she sees Regina asleep, Emma sitting up next to her with her finger to her lips. “Well,” Zelena says, more quietly this time. “That makes my life easier.” She crosses over to the bed, arms folded across her chest. “Is she all right?”


Emma looks down at Regina, dark hair splayed over the white pillowcase, tucked under the heavy throw Emma had retrieved from the foot of the bed. Regina looks so small like this, curled into herself and vulnerable. “I think so,” Emma says. “I think she's just been pushing herself a little too hard.” Emma lightly brushes some hair off Regina’s face, traces her thumb over the worry-furrow between Regina’s eyes that hasn’t gone away even in sleep.


“Understatement of the century,” Zelena mutters under her breath, but when Emma raises a questioning eyebrow, Zelena just waves her off. “Never mind. I just came up to tell Regina I'm making soup, so she doesn't have to worry about dinner. And to order her to sleep, but it looks like you've already accomplished that.” Zelena cocks her head to the side, looking down at her sister. “How did you do that?”


“Lied, and promised her I would wake her up.”


A smile spreads across Zelena’s face. “Good to know you have some use. I'll send Henry up with a tray for you in a few minutes. And I'm staying the night—Belle’s watching Robyn—so if you need anything, text me before waking up my sister.”


“I'm sure I'll be fine. But I will.”


“Good.” Zelena turns to go, then pauses in the doorway. “I'm glad you made it through, Savior. Even if only for her sake.” She nods at Regina, and before Emma can decide if she's supposed to respond—does that merit a thank-you?—Zelena has swept out of the room. 




Emma doesn’t wake until late the next morning, but even so, Regina is still asleep beside her. At some point in the night, Regina's hand drifted under Emma’s shirt and onto her waist, and if the warmth emanating from the touch weren't enough of a clue, sure enough, when Emma looks down she can see a tell-tale purple glow through the thin white fabric of her shirt. 


“You stubborn—” Emma mutters, and sighs. She gives Regina her hand back, freezing when Regina grumbles and shifts in her sleep, only sliding out of the bed when she’s confident Regina hasn't woken up. “That does not count as resting,” Emma tells the sleeping woman. 


Emma can still feel hospital crawling all over her skin, so even though she’s hungry, she heads into the bathroom first to shower. She turns the water on and strips quickly, but falters once she has her shirt off, catching herself in the mirror. She stares at the six inch long scar on her abdomen. It already looks better than it did yesterday, but the puckered skin around the wound is still an angry red, a sharp contrast against the ten black stitches. Emma closes her eyes, pushing away the memory of steel sliding into her skin, of dropping to the pavement sure it was the last time she was going to see her family. She clenches a fist and swallows hard, forcing herself away from her reflection and into the shower. When she gets out the mirror has completely fogged over, but Emma still keeps her eyes closed and her back turned as she pulls on her sweats and shirt. 


Dressed, she peeks in on Regina (still asleep), and heads downstairs to dig up something to eat. She’s relieved to find that while she is quite stiff, she isn’t particularly sore, as long as she’s careful with her movements, and it feels nice to be up and out of bed.


Henry’s beaten her to the kitchen, standing over the stove and stirring something in a pan. 


“Morning, kid,” Emma says.


Henry spins around. “Mom! You’re up! Does Mom know you’re up? Am I going to get in trouble for not making you go back to bed?”


“Your mom is still sleeping, so no, she doesn't know I’m up. And someone will probably get in trouble, but I will shoulder all the blame and make sure she knows you were an innocent party in my revolt against further bedrest.”


“Your funeral,” Henry says. He opens a cabinet by his head and pulls down a stack of white plates. “Scramble?” he asks. “Are you allowed to have real food yet?”


“I am so ready for real food,” Emma says. 


Henry laughs. “You only had the hospital stuff for like three days!”


“Which was three days too many. Bring on the scramble.”


Zelena wanders in as Henry is plating up the food, and the three of them share a surprisingly nice breakfast. 


“Should I wake Mom up?” Henry asks halfway through, a frown puckering his forehead. “It seems like she should be here. Your first meal back home.” 


He starts to push back from the table, but Zelena shakes her head at him. “Let your mother sleep it out.  She’s been eating, at least, so she needs rest more than she needs food right now.”


Emma wants to ask what ‘she’s been eating’ means—why wouldn’t Regina be eating?—but before she can, Henry grabs her hand.


“So, Mom. What do you want to do with your first day back?”


Emma laughs. “I guess I haven’t really thought about it. I’m sure your mom will insist on it being a quiet day. Honestly, right now I’m just enjoying breathing non-hospital air. Why? Any suggestions?”


“Movie marathon,” Henry says quickly, and they jump into a debate over whether Star Wars or Avengers is a better way to celebrate Emma’s return home.


They’ve all finished their food—Emma’s plate so clean it looks like she licked it—when they hear Regina’s door open and close, then quick footsteps on the stairs. “Henry?” Regina calls. “Henry, have you seen—oh.” She lets out a long whooshing breath when she sees Emma sitting at the kitchen table. “You’re here.”


“Of course I'm here. What, did you think someone kidnapped me from the bed?”


Regina just gives her a look, then comes over and tilts Emma’s chin up, looking her over. “You were okay on the stairs? You didn’t pull anything? I wanted you to spend at least one more day in bed…”


“Fine, no, and no way,” Emma says, addressing each of Regina’s questions. Regina stares into Emma’s eyes like she’s looking for the lie.


“You’re certainly looking better this morning,” Zelena tells her sister. “Almost like a real person, instead of the walking dead.” 


Someone let me sleep for over fifteen hours, instead of waking me when she was supposed to.”


Emma shrugs one shoulder. “Sorry not sorry. You needed it. And someone was sleep-healing me again last night, which means a significant chunk of those fifteen hours do not even count.”


“Mm,” Regina says noncommittally. She picks up Emma’s hand, presses two fingers to Emma’s wrist, taking her pulse. Emma watches her nod in approval, then feels the threads of Regina’s magic start to seep into her blood. 


She snatches her hand back. “No healing before breakfast.” 


Regina looks down at Emma’s cleaned plate. “You ate breakfast.”


Your breakfast.”


“Yeah, Mom, we saved you some,” Henry tells her. “It’s kind of cold now, but I can heat it back up for you.” 


Regina goes over to his chair and kisses the top of his head. “Thank you, sweetheart, that sounds perfect. Is there coffee?”


“There is, but I haven’t decided if you’re allowed to have any, yet,” Zelena says. “I’ll think about it while you go shower. Aren’t those the same clothes you were wearing yesterday?” 


Regina glances down at herself. “I guess I was a little frantic when I woke up and found Emma gone,” she admits. 


“Well, as you can see, your Savior is all in one piece. And I will make sure she stays that way while you go clean up. Shoo.”


Regina looks Emma up and down one more time, like she’s reassuring herself that Emma really is here, and all right. 


“I’m good,” Emma tells her. “Go.” 


Regina nods, letting out a breath as she heads out. “When I come back I want coffee!” she calls over her shoulder. 


“We’ll see!” Zelena yells back.


When Regina comes back down, she’s in yoga pants and a large sweater that falls off her shoulder and over her hands, feet bare, hair still damp and curling at the edges. It’s unguarded and soft, and when Regina leans on the wall by the window, looking out at the yard and bathed in morning sunlight, Emma feels her heart turn over. 


“She’s human!” Zelena crows. “Fresh clothes! What a sight, ladies and gentlemen.”


“Do you ever shut up?” Regina asks. 


“Not voluntarily,” Zelena says. “But you’ll be rid of me shortly. I need to go pick up Robyn. Now, your Charming in-laws called and said they would be over this afternoon to see their daughter, and they’ve arranged a food delivery schedule, so you don’t have to worry about that. Do you need anything else?”


“I’m perfectly capable of cooking for us,” Regina protests. “Emma’s the invalid, not me.”


“Hey!” Emma protests, at the same time as Zelena says, “Debatable.”


“Well,” Zelena continues. “I’m off then. Have a lazy day. I already told Henry not to let you do any housework. Don’t make your son police you, sis. And these two have arranged a movie marathon, so that’s all settled. Call me if you need anything, etcetera etcetera.” Zelena waggles her fingers at them.


Regina pushes off from the wall, catching her sister in the kitchen doorway. “Zelena, wait.” Zelena cocks her head, and Regina wraps her arms around Zelena in a tight hug. Zelena looks startled at first, then returns it. “Thank you,” Emma hears Regina murmur. She has her head resting on her sister’s shoulder. 


“For what?” Zelena asks. 


“Being here,” Regina says. “Even when I tried to push you away.” 


Zelena rubs Regina’s back. “What are sisters for?”


They separate, and Regina comes and takes a seat at the table, accepting Henry’s plate with a smile. 


“What did Zelena mean about ‘your Charming in-laws?’” Emma asks.


Regina’s cheeks flush pink, and she looks away. “Oh, who knows with that one,” she says. “Better to not try and make sense of her. Now. Coffee?”