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Our Precious Miracle

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Emma lies in bed staring up at the ceiling. She's doing a lot of calculating at the moment.

 

Calculating whether she's full-on drunk or if she has just barely managed to keep a toe in the realm of tipsy. Calculating the moral repercussions of making the moves on a kid's mom when he's innocently sleeping just down the hall. Calculating just how much longer she can cowardly hide under the covers in the guest room before Regina falls asleep and she misses out on her chance altogether because she took too long to pluck up the courage to knock on her door.

 

That last thought is what has Emma scrambling off the mattress. Her legs tangled in the sheets, she stumbles once, twice, and then falls into the door frame with a dull thud.

 

Emma freezes, eyes wide. Okay, yeah, even if she maybe still classifies as tipsy she probably shouldn't have had that last glass of wine. Please don't let her fucking hippo tromping have woken up Henry.

 

Please. Please. Please. Please. Please.

 

She listens for movement.

 

...

 

...

 

...

 

Nothing happens.

 

Score! Emma Swan is totally gettin' lucky tonight.

 

Carefully, she creeps out into the dark hall on the balls of her feet, navigating creaking floorboards with the finesse of one who has made the trip often. This time is different though. This time she's not going to ask to borrow a spare toothbrush or to sheepishly admit that she set her mattress on fire with some inadvertent sleep magic.

 

No sir.

 

This time Emma is Going For It.

 

Though she's still slightly nervous in her approach, there's an underlying giddiness to her movements as Emma makes her way towards Regina's room. Anticipation. Because the groundwork has been set and everything is so obvious, so inevitable, even if the words haven't yet been spoken. And there's something almost magical in the security of this moment when so much of her life has been ruled by uncertainty.

 

The security that she's totally gonna bang.

 

Shit. Emma hesitates at Regina's door, fist poised to knock. Bang??? She might be drunker than she thought. Maybe she shouldn't...

 

...

 

...

 

...

 

Nah. She's probably fine.

 

Emma knocks softly, then waits.

 

She could just walk in. It'd be fine. They've reached that point. But it's a courtesy. One of those many little details Emma's never brought herself to care about before Regina. Shoes off in the house and dishes washed immediately after every meal and jackets on hooks or hangers rather than slung over the backs of chairs. For nearly thirty years Emma never gave a damn about any of it.

 

Then she met Regina. And Regina does give a damn. She gives a lot of damns about all of it. She's got a place to put your shoes when you come in and a whole closet for only coats and she always washes pretty much everything as soon as it gets dirty. All those little things that used to make Emma roll her eyes and call people anal over are important to Regina. For whatever reason, they are. And somewhere along the line Emma has found that all the things that are important to Regina have become important to her on principal.

 

So she knocks and waits instead of slipping into the room like she wants to, and her brain is so full of sappy, sticky Regina mush she's not even grumpy about it.

 

How many glasses had she had?

 

It takes a few seconds before the door opens, just a crack, and Regina peers out.

 

Gosh. She has a really good face. How come every time Emma looks at her it's like she forgot how good a face it is? Why is it always such a punch to the gut? Like, wham, good face alert punch.

 

"Is everything okay?" Regina whispers, concern all over her really good 'A' plus, plus face.

 

"Hi," Emma whispers back. Judging by the way Regina's eyes widen in alarm she doesn't do such a good job. She lowers her voice and tries again. "Can you let me in so I don't wake up Henry?"

 

Regina bites her lip, hesitant like the fact that there's about to be some bangin' isn't so obvious and so inevitable--which is crazy talk--but eventually relents and steps back so Emma can scurry inside the room. As soon as the door is closed behind them, Emma rounds on Regina, hands coming up to cup that very good face.

 

"I have a very important question to ask you," she announces, staring deeply into her eyes.

 

Wow. This isn't even just a very good face. This is her favorite face. This has gotta be the Best One to ever exist ever.

 

... 

 

She probably doesn't have the authority to make that sort of claim.

 

...

 

Oh whatever. Come on, it's at least in the top five.

 

Regina stares up at her, eyes bright despite the late hour and mouth twisted up at the corners like she's doing her best not to laugh. Which is weird because it's not like Emma is trying to be funny right now. She's shooting more for dramatically romantic. That's kind of the goal. Maybe a little sensual too? Like, to set the mood. She juts out her lower lip a little, aiming for a Posh Spice sort of sexy pout.

 

Regina really does laugh then, and Emma whines in protest.

 

"Maybe we should sit down for a moment," Regina tries, gesturing stiffly towards the bed behind her, not really able to turn too much in Emma's grip.

 

"Yeah let's do that!" Emma drops her hands and makes a mad dash for the bed. She dives under the comforter and lays back, pulling the blanket up to her chin before dropping her gaze pointedly to the opposite side of the mattress. Hint hint.

 

"I meant-" Regina's sigh is equal parts frustration and fondness.

 

At least Emma hopes so.

 

Though she moves to her side of the bed, Regina doesn't slip in beside Emma. She stands, hands on her hips. "Emma," her words are gentle, "do you remember the conversation we had downstairs? Where I said I thought it would be better if you slept in the guestroom because we both had a lot of wine and you seemed a little drun-"

 

"Of course I remember," Emma says, brow furrowed as she frantically tries to remember what she definitely doesn't remember. "But I was in my room thinking--calculating, which is even smarter--and I decided I'm not drunk. I'm tipsy." She lifts her chin, proud, even if some of the effect is lost while she's lying down.

 

Regina bites her lip again, grappling with a smile. "I'm tipsy," she says, trying and failing to sound stern. "You are dru-"

 

"Please just come here." Emma stares up at Regina with the doe-eyed woeful look she's inherited from her parents. She pats the empty space beside her. "I promise I'll be super good, I just have something really important to ask you."

 

Regina shifts on her feet. She looks to the door for a second before sighing and shaking her head. "In for a penny," she mutters bitterly and then slips under the covers.

 

Emma beams. She immediately wiggles closer until she's pressed against Regina under the comforter, their shared body heat warming her from head to toe. It's a delightfully pleasant feeling. Even tipsy--tipsy, Regina, not drunk--Emma can appreciate the novelty of this moment.

 

They've leaned against one another on the couch before. Shared one armed hugs on occasion. Two armed ones when Henry was trapped between them. But now is the first time she's ever had the absolute pleasure of being able to surround herself with Regina completely. In her house, in her room, in her bed with one leg trapped between hers and a hand on her waist.

 

"Emma," Regina whispers, an impossible dichotomy of warning and wanting as Emma's fingers tease beneath the hemline of her shirt. "Your question."

 

"Yeah," Emma hurries out, doing her best to shake off the intoxication of being this close to Regina, owner of her Number One Favorite Face. "Right. Yeah. It's very important."

 

"You've said." Regina's dry tone doesn't match well with the soft features of her Very Good Face.

 

"Your face is very good," Emma blurts out. Which is dumb because Regina probably knows that already. It would be a crime if she didn't. To look less dumb Emma throws in, "It's my favorite one," even though Regina probably already knows that too. She's obviously way ahead of the local competition. Duh. 

 

Regina's lips press into a thin line and she breathes deep through her nose. Emma watches every minuscule movement with rapt attention.

 

God, that face is so good how does Regina do that?!?!?!

 

"Emma," Regina's fingers reach up to trail along Emma's cheek, thumb brushing lightly at the edge of her lips, "ask me your very important question."

 

"Okay." Emma takes a deep breath and scoots forward until they're sharing a pillow, foreheads pressed together. "I need to ask if you've had so much wine that it would be taking advantage for me to kiss you right now, or if it's cool for me to just go for it?"

 

Regina's breathy laughter is warm. "As I said downstairs, I think perhaps you're too drunk to-"

 

"I'm tipsy," Emma whines into the space between them. "Tipsy. It's all good. Tipsy is fine. Great for smooching. Look-" She presses a gentle kiss against Regina's lips. Soft and careful, leaving plenty of time for Regina to pull away if she decides she's maybe not all that into the idea after all. And even with just that light contact Emma's whole body is like woah. Bubbling and tingling and buzzing and her head is a little fuzzy as if just one kiss is enough to get her drunk.

 

...

 

Not that she is drunk. 

 

Like, it's a metaphor. 

 

She's tipsy. 

 

...

 

She's fine.

 

...

 

It's fine. 

 

"See?" Emma whisper-shouts triumphantly, loud enough that Regina has to hush her. "Could a drunk person do that?" 

 

"Evidently," Regina drawls, but doesn't push Emma away, which is obviously her way of giving the go ahead. 

 

Still, Emma is very much into enthusiastic consent and all that, so... 

 

"Regina," her whispers seem to be growing more hoarse as the night wears on, but Emma powers through her sore throat in the name of True Love (and also in the name of getting some), "is it weird if I touch your boob?" 

 

A painful pause, and then-

 

"Kind of, if you announce it like that first, yeah."

 

"Damn." Emma hesitates. "Still though, can I?" 

 

"Oh my god, just do it if you're going to do it." 

 

"Dope." 

 

"No." Regina slaps her hand away before she can even make contact. "Now you can't."

 

"Oh come on," Emma whines.

 

"If you're drunk enough to say 'dope' you're too drunk to touch my..." Regina hesitates for a long moment and Emma can physically feel how much it kills her to eventually mutter a petulant, "breasts." 

 

"I say dope all of the time," Emma tries, more than a little desperate. 

 

A harsh scoff. "I have known you for three years and I've never heard you say dope once." 

 

"But-"

 

"Not even once."

 

Emma pouts. "Maybe I say it in private?" She brightens at the idea. "Yeah. It's a private word for alone time. That's all."

 

Regina hums. "You're too drunk, Emma."

 

"Tipsy."

 

"Well I would like to wait until you're not tipsy. Just to be sure." Regina has gone back to sounding more amused than annoyed now, which is great, even if Emma hasn't been allowed to do any boob-touching yet. "You understand."

 

Emma heaves a long suffering sigh. "Can I stay with you at least?"

 

"Will you be good?"

 

"I'm always good."

 

"Debatable." Even as she says it though, Regina rolls onto her other side and pulls Emma's arm tight around her waist so they're snuggled up comfortably together. Which is just as good as boob-touching if she's honest. 

 

Emma molds around her and breathes her in, in, in.

 

Maybe it's even better than boob-touching. 

 

"Regina?"

 

"Shh," a soft murmur, "I'm sleeping." 

 

"Oh, okay."

 

And so, not wanting to be left behind, Emma sleeps too. 





-





"Regina!"

 

All things considered, Regina thinks she's really proving just how far she's come in the new life she's managed to scrape together for herself. 

 

"Hey! Regina!"

 

Sure, she could easily set Emma on fire for accepting a painfully suggestive invitation for 'dinner' last night and then chugging so much wine that she couldn't even start 'dinner' let alone make so much as a dent in the appetizers-

 

"Regina! Wake up!" 

 

-and then having the sheer gall to manhandle Regina awake like some kind of-

 

"It's an emergency! Regina! You have to-"

 

"I WILL DESTROY EVERYTHING YOU LOVE!" Regina snaps up on the mattress to stare Emma down with as much venom as she can muster at--a quick glance at the alarm on her bedside table--" Six fifteen, are you kidding me? It's Sunday, you barbarian. Get the fuck out of my house." 

 

"Woah, okay," Emma shrinks away a bit where she's perched on the edge of the bed, eyes wide, "not a morning person. Noted." 

 

Regina glares at her. "I will kill you. Right now. I won't even feel bad about it." 

 

"Wait, wait, wait," Emma splutters, and it's when she shifts that Regina finally makes out through her blurry, tired vision the figure in Emma's arms. "I know you're mad, but I woke up because my head was pounding-" 

 

Wait.

 

What?

 

Figure??

 

Regina frantically rubs the sleep from her eyes.

 

"-and I went to the bathroom to pop some pills, but even after I downed, like, an ocean of water I couldn't fall back asleep so I was like, 'hey, maybe I could try and sweat this crap out' and then-" 

 

"The point, Emma," Regina snaps because she’s rubbed and rubbed and still- 

 

"Oh, right, yeah. Uh-" Emma shifts and readjusts her grip so Regina can get a full look at just what--who--she's carrying. "I woke up in the middle of the night and there was a baby on your bedroom floor."  

 

"A what- who?" Regina blinks but Emma is already passing the child over. "Wait-" 

 

Emma doesn't, and there's a baby in Regina's arms. Soft and chubby, with dark hair and warm brown eyes already trying to worm their way past her confusion and into her heart. 

 

"It was just, like, there," Emma continues, pointing at the carpet. "I already checked downstairs and everything's still all locked up. I have no idea how it even...it's gotta be some kind of..." she trails off.

 

Regina leans back a bit from the child now settled on her lap, trying her best to remain objective and impartial despite the sweet, gummy smile she's currently faced with. "Where did you come from?"

 

With a loud squeal, the baby claps its hands together in delight. Regina pegs her as likely around nine months or so. Older than Baby Neal at least, surely. 

 

An exaggerated gasp distracts her. She looks up to find Emma standing over the bed, mouth open. "Oh my god, one of our magical enemies broke in and turned Henry back into a baby to get revenge." Her eyes widen impossibly. "Holy shit, Henry!" 

 

"Wait, Em-" 

 

But it's too late. Emma dashes out of the room and takes off down the hall like a herd of elephants. Regina sighs and looks down at the baby still sitting patiently in her arms.     

 

"I hope you're ready," she drawls, "this is her being reasonable."

 

The baby lets out a laugh darkly mischievous enough that Regina feels like she's already rubbing off on the child. Unfortunately, any pride is quickly drowned out by a resounding BANG and then a loud shout of, "Ma!? What the hell?? Get out!" 

 

"Oh dear." Regina murmurs.

 

Emma returns to the room moments later, eyes averted and cheeks a deep red. "Uh, Henry is, t-totally safe and well and also taking an early shower so..." she bobs her head, trauma clear in every word, "yeah. All good. No worries there." 

 

"Yes," Regina agrees slowly, doing her best not to laugh. If not for Emma's sake than for Henry's at the very least. "Having raised Henry from infancy I was going to tell you that at no point in his development did he look like this."

 

"Right." Emma clears her throat.

 

"Also this appears to be a little girl." 

 

"Yup." Emma forces a laugh. "Duh." 

 

The little girl laughs again. Emma flashes her an odd look, but they're interrupted before Regina can dissect it. Henry is in the doorway, hair soapy, a damp towel wrapped tight around his waist, and murder in his eyes. 

 

"Hi, Ma!" His voice is too high and too tight. "Why are you in our house breaking down locked doors, huh? Is that just a fun thing you're gonna start doing now, or-?"

 

"Henry," Regina warns despite her amusement. 

 

"I'm sorry," Emma holds her hands up in surrender, eyes on anything but their son, "I swear I didn't see...anything. I just wanted to make sure you were okay."

 

"Yeah, well I'm fine thanks," Henry snaps, voice even higher. 

 

"Henry," Regina tries again, "why don't you get changed and head downstairs to decide what we'll have for breakfast? Anything you want." 

 

He works his jaw for a moment, hard eyes still on Emma. "Anything?" 

 

"Anything," Regina agrees, pauses, then adds, "within reason." 

 

His only response is a grunt as he backs out of the room, his hard glare never leaving Emma until the very second the door snaps shut between them. Emma deflates as soon as he's gone. 

 

"This is so not my morning." She presses a palm to her forehead. "I deserve at least a cup of coffee before the Storybrooke Shenanigans start up, don't I?" 

 

"What you need is more water," Regina amends.     

 

"WAA!" The baby shouts her agreement, hands in the air.

 

Emma flashes them that thoughtful look once more. "Do you think-" A shrill tune cuts her off. Groaning, she pulls out her cell phone. "Don't tell on me," she stage whispers as she puts the ringer on silent, "but I really can't deal with Snow right now." 

 

Regina tries to contain her smirk. Really, she does. 

 

Kind of. 

 

"So," Emma flashes the kicked-puppy look she'd unfortunately inherited from her parents, "how likely am I going to get away with suggesting a relaxing breakfast first, mysterious baby drama later?" 

 

Regina sighs.

 

-

 

Downstairs, Henry is finally calm enough to notice their guest.

 

"You guys are being awfully chill about this," he muses. The baby is in an old highchair of Henry's that Regina had summoned down from the attic. She's currently working on a sliced up banana that's rapidly becoming mashed. "Like, what are we supposed to do with her? Can we even trust she's a real baby? She could be some kind of dark magic in disguise." 

 

"That's what I said," Emma exclaims around a mouthful of bacon.

 

Henry prods at the baby's chubby arm suspiciously with the prongs of his fork.

 

"Nah!" She slaps the utensil away with a defiant shriek. 

 

"Henry, don't poke the baby." Regina turns away from her coffee just in time to catch Emma slowly extending her own fork on the baby's other side. "You're not allowed to poke her either."

 

Emma's pout is a perfect mirror of Henry's.

 

"What is wrong with you two?" Regina's hands find her hips. "You're acting like you've never seen a child before."

 

"I'm not debating she's a child," Emma defends. "I'm just saying she also might be a magical bioweapon pulsating with dark energy." 

 

"Yah," the baby adds solemnly.

 

Emma whirls around on her, mouth open and eyes wide at the unexpected show of support while Henry cracks up over his waffles. 

 

Regina heaves a long suffering sigh. "Ridiculous," she chides. "She is in no way a magical bioweapon. Look, I'll prove it." Regina steps toward the baby where she's gleefully smashing bits of banana into the tray of the highchair. She reaches out a hand and the baby's attention shifts to it immediately, grabbing on with sticky fingers. Regina sends a slow, gentle pulse of magic her way. A soft hum, warm and delicate and completely nonthreatening. 

 

"Uh," Emma warily eyes the faint purple glow around where their hands are connected, "what am I looking at here?"

 

Henry sighs. "Mom's obviously using her magic to reach out and feel if the baby has any that will respond to hers." 

 

Emma pulls a face at him. "Obviously?" She mocks. "Since when are you such a magic master?"

 

"I'm not." He shrugs. "But what else would she be doing?"

 

"What else would your face be doing?" Emma shoots back childishly. 

 

Henry snorts.

 

"If you'd pay attention, children," Regina raises her voice to reclaim their attention, "you can see there's no reaction. She has no magical ability and so we can safely assume-"

 

A bright pink flash of magic zaps out of their connection and singes the cupboard just over Regina's shoulder. 

 

"BAH!" The baby shrieks in delight. Giggling, she claps her sticky palms together, clearly reveling in the dumbfounded expressions around her.

 

...

 

Well, shit.

 

"That's it." Emma slaps her hands on the counter and pushes up from her stool. "Regina, there's too much evidence to ignore now. I know where the baby came from."

 

Regina growls as she waves away the smoke emitting from her cabinetry. Will she never be allowed rest? Marco had just fixed the harsh scorches from Emma's last magical mishap last week. "If you say evil bioweapon I will set you on fire."

 

"No," Emma declares valiantly, chin raised. "She's a magical baby that was created from our True Love magic when we slept together last night."

 

Henry starts hacking on his waffle. 

 

"Oh my god," Regina hisses. She rushes over to thump on Henry's back in an effort to help him dislodge his breakfast from his throat. "We didn't- we didn't sleep together. And also what??" 

 

"Uh, I'm pretty sure I'm still here from last night so," Emma raises her hands, "yeah, we did."

 

"Not-" Regina cuts herself off with a growl. "We slept together, we didn't sleep together." She looks to Henry when she says it but he doesn't seem particularly interested in the details. 

 

"Make it stop," he rasps, hands clutching dramatically at his throat.

 

Emma scoffs. "We both know magic isn't fussed with semantics." She has a superior look in her eye Regina wouldn't mind humbling with fire. "Regina, think about it. She kinda looks like you, she has magic," Emma ticks her borderline nonsensical points off on her fingers as she speaks, "and she's, ya know, got a touch of the ol' evil."

 

"Excuse me?" Regina can just about feel her eyebrows flirting with her hairline. 

 

"I just mean," Emma holds her hands up in defense, unfortunately rather unrepentant looking even in her clear apprehension at going against the queen(because Regina may have gotten softer but she is certainly not soft), "upstairs she was cackling, and you were cackling, and, honestly, there was just a lot of cackling going on. Come on, this is the only thing that makes sense."

 

"It makes absolutely no sense." Regina crosses her arms over her chest but is sure not to pout. Probably. "And I don't cackle."

 

"Uh," Henry drawls in complete betrayal, "yes you do."

 

"Yeah," Emma bobs her head excitedly along like a fucking seal, "it's like," she raises her voice to an uncomfortably high pitch before hunching her shoulders for dramatic effect, "hah hah hah." 

 

"No." Henry shakes his head because apparently he doesn't love his mother anymore. "She sounds like hee, hee, hee."

 

"I dunno," Emma needles, pulling a face. "I think it's more like-"

 

"Heh, heh, heh," the baby cackles. 

 

Emma jumps up, snapping her fingers. "Oh my god that's it!"

 

"Wow, that's like, the same exact cackle." Henry's features twist up into a bemused expression. "Huh."

 

"I know right?" The sheer force of Emma's smugness is enough to make Regina's skin crawl. "It's super obvious this is our magical True Love Baby." 

 

"Would you stop saying that?" Regina seethes. "It makes no sense. It's not a thing. It's never been a thing. And I don't cackle." 

 

Henry snorts. "Mom, you cackle literally every day. Like, anytime something mildly inconvenient happens to Grandma ever."

 

She frowns. 

 

He shrugs without apology. "It's true."

 

"You're grounded. No screens for the rest of the weekend." 

 

His mouth drops open. "What?" he splutters. "Come on. We've been over this, Mom. You can't ground me every time I tease you a little." 

 

Regina shrugs and moves to start cleaning the waffle maker. She's made her point, thank you very much. 

 

"Ma," Henry turns on Emma, his voice a pitiful whine, "tell her she can't just ground me every time she's teased. It's not fair and you know it."

 

"Well- I mean- Like-" Emma cuts herself off and makes a pained sound low in her throat. No doubt her sense of justice warring with her healthy fear of Regina's wrath. 

 

Regina turns to face her in clear challenge, sure to keep her expression perfectly neutral. She knows by now the uncertainty is what gets to Emma the most. Her silence has always been more impactful than any barb she's ever tossed the savior's way. 

 

It works like a charm, of course. 

 

Emma takes a deep breath, her throat quivering. "It's-" she braves weakly, "maybe- uh,  maybe it's not totally, you know, a hundred percent fair for you to ground Henry when he...teases...you...a little?" Her voice reaches unnaturally high pitches by the end of the sentence. It's a wonder the glassware doesn't shatter in the cabinets. "Maybe?" she squeaks again.

 

Regina presses her lips into a thin line of displeasure and does an impeccable job of not letting her delight show when Emma trembles in response. 

 

"No screens for you either." 

 

"Aw man," Emma collapses dramatically across the countertop in defeat. "Thanks Hen, now you got us both in trouble."  

 

-

 

"Hey, you ever think that maybe not every single problem we have can be solved by reading dusty books in your creepy tomb dungeon?" 

 

"I prefer to refer to it as a vault, thank you," Regina says with a sniff as she leads them down stone steps that admittedly could do with a good sweeping. "And the method has been working for us so far. Why go against the grain on this one?"

 

"Because we don't need to find any answers. We already have it all figured out." Emma bounces the child on her hip a bit. "This is our magical True Love Baby from when we totes slept together last night. Case closed. Let's slap a name on a certificate and raise her up right."

 

"For the love of god," Regina snarls, whirling about, an accusing finger pointed directly at Emma's stupid, smug face, "we did not sleep together." She lowers her voice into a poisonous drawl just to make sure Emma truly understands her frustration--sexual and otherwise. "Trust me."

 

For once, the savior manages to wrap her feeble mind around Regina's meaning. She pulls a face as realization dawns, flushing in embarrassment. When the baby laughs-- doesn't cackle- -and smacks her roughly on the cheek with a sticky palm, well, that's just icing on the top of Regina's vary tall cake. 

 

-

 

"Could she have come from another realm?" Regina murmurs, flipping through the musty pages of the heavy tome on her lap. "Perhaps another universe?"

 

Emma scoffs loudly from the other side of vault. She's on her back on the hard stone, hair splayed out around her like a halo, arms raised as she holds the baby overhead. The child giggles as she's lightly bounced up and down and up again. "Oh okay, so a literal infant universe jumping through space and time is more believable than us having True Love. Great. Thanks. Awesome." 

 

Regina blinks at the unexpected bitterness in Emma's tone. "I didn't- I only meant-" She bites her lip, shifting where she sits, "I just mean there's no evidence to suggest-" 

 

"What evidence do you need?" Emma is doing a terrible job of hiding her pout. She sniffs, her gaze firmly glued to the baby. "We're here and we- You know. And she's here. Like, come on."

 

"Emma," Regina finds herself speaking more softly despite herself, "I only meant that there's no evidence to suggest a...union like that is even possible. There's no record of beings made purely from magic," she hesitates, breathes deep, "True Love or otherwise." 

 

Emma pops up, a deep scowl on her lips. "Just because it's not in one of your dumb books doesn't mean it's impossible. We both know that." She lifts her chin. "I think you're just a shy nerd who's trying to hide in the back of the library because she's scared of her feelings."

 

Regina's mouth drops open at the sheer absurdity of the accusation.  

 

"Don't bother to deny it." Emma props the baby up on her lap. "T.L.B. agrees with me. Don't you, T.L.B.?" She coos at the child. "Yes you do. Of course you do."

 

The baby gurgles her agreement. 

 

"I am not scared of my-" Regina falters, mouth opening and closing like a suffocating fish. "You," she changes tack, because lashing out has always worked oh so well for her in the past, "are just pushing your fantasies on to me. I'm trying to be logical. I'm doing research to try and find the truth and I'll tell you something right now, savior." Regina pushes her book to the side to stand and march over to the shelves bolted into the wall. "These," she says, gesturing to the overflowing books and tomes and scrolls, "are all the ancient texts written by the old masters I have that don't mention a word about children magically manifesting from True Love magic after two people who didn't sleep together spend a single night in the same bed." She points to an empty corner of the room. "These are all the ones I have that do."

 

It's Emma's turn to glare at Regina for unbearable smugness. Finally. 

 

"Not to mention," she continues, riding high on her intellectual victory, "it makes no sense for there just to suddenly be this fully formed child." She gestures to the baby now gnawing on a fistful of Emma's long, golden hair. "Why wouldn't one of us be pregnant? Hmm? Why wouldn't she be an actual infant? Why so many months along?" 

 

"Pfft." Emma rolls her eyes. "Because this is a True Love Miracle Child and actual legit infants are the worst. They just eat and shit and cry and lay there. Everybody pretends to be all over them but come on, we all know the truth." She bounces the baby on her lap that's now tugging on Emma's necklace rather violently. "T.L.B is at the age where all the good stuff starts happening. She's laughing, babbling cute stuff, makin' mischief, and if you forget to support her head her neck isn't gonna snap like a Kit Kat. Come on, we get to skip all of the headache and just enjoy the payoff. We're living the dream." Emma manages to get the words out rather clearly for someone who's being strangled with their own jewelry. "She hasn't even had explosive diarrhea once since we've had her! Do you know how many times my brother has absolutely doused me since he's been born? I could tell you the exact number. I keep track." 

 

Regina wrinkles her nose. "I'll pass."

 

"Probably for the best. We've hit double digits." Emma sighs. "Look, if you want to waste a beautiful day down here 'doing research' then T.L.B. and I aren't going to stop you. But no matter who is right and who is wrong, she exists and she needs looking after. Whether you get your answers or not, tomorrow we start treating her right."

 

Regina's gaze drifts from Emma's determined expression to the baby's gummy smile. Her shoulders droop in time with the strength of her resolve. "Okay." 

 

Emma smirks. "Good. Back to your studies then, nerd." 

 

Regina huffs. 

 

-

 

"Strike," Emma cheers. She cups her hands over her head and shakes them in celebration. "Ten million points to T.L.B, negative two to the Almighty Savior."

 

The baby shrieks happily as Emma moves to reset the empty vials she'd stolen from Regina to use as pins. The two are on their third impromptu bowling match and it's enough to do Regina's head in. Still, it's not like she's going to complain when the child looks so happy as Emma helps her roll the rubber band ball across the floor.

 

It's surprising, that Emma looks happy too. Like this is a normal, everyday occurrence. Like this baby hadn't just materialized from nothing right into Regina's house. Like she genuinely believes the girl is hers--theirs--to care for. To guide. To love. 

 

Despite knowing better, Regina tries to make either of them out in the baby. Tries to find similarities in the eyes or a common nose or a familiar smile. And maybe there is a passing resemblance to Regina in the darkness of her soft hair, but try as she might Regina struggles to find anything of Emma at all. And maybe she's missing it but that just doesn't seem possible because she knows Emma. Has known her for years. Has been learning every subtle shift in every expression since the day they met. Learning even earlier through Henry. Understanding a bit more of Emma Swan every day she'd spent raising their son.     

 

Emma isn't in this child. Regina would know, wouldn't she? If this baby could be- If they could- wouldn't Regina know? Inherently? 

 

...

 

Or is she really just shy and scared, hiding in the library? 

 

Could they really...?

 

After all this time, does Emma really think- When they hadn't even...?

 

...

 

"It's not-" Regina falters, swallows. 

 

Emma glances up from her makeshift game, brow raised in question. 

 

"It can't be true," Regina tries again. "That's just...it's not how magic works. But-" She breathes deep, "if it did..."

 

Emma's features shift from confusion to soft realization. 

 

"Do you really think...?"

 

There's that smugness again, that insufferable smirk, but the bright affection clear in Emma's gaze more than eases the sting. 

 

"Duh."

 

Even with the warmth rolling through her, Regina manages a scathingly over dramatic eye roll. "Not that it is possible," she snaps. "Again, just to be clear."

 

Emma's smile doesn't so much as falter. 

 

"We'll see."

 

-

 

Regina carefully turns the crinkled page in front of her. The more time that passes, the deeper into her collection she's been forced to wander. Even with the exceedingly good (if she does say so herself) care she takes of her equipment, the book she's looking through now is old and brittle. It likely had been even before her mother had no doubt stolen it. 

 

She shifts over the words. The vault is hardly equipped for comfort and her back is starting to ache from how long she's spent hunched over the table. A part of her longs to give in to Emma's demands they resurface for lunch, but if she could just look a little longer she might be able to find-

 

On the other side of the table, the baby's tiny face rises slowly into view. Regina blinks, startled as the child slowly ascends through the air until she's completely visible over the edge. And it would have been frighting if Regina couldn't make out Emma's hands safely supporting her back and bottom, the woman crouched down just out of sight. 

 

Regina opens her mouth, not even sure she wants to know what idiocy is going on now, but a high pitched baby voice that one hundred percent belongs to Emma Swan interrupts her. 

 

"Regina, look into your heart. I am your magical True Love Baby. You know it to be true." 

 

"Oh my god," Regina mutters. 

 

"Join me, Mother. Let our powers meld and together we shall bring this realm to its knees before us." The baby smiles widely, sucking on her own pudgy fist. "The masses will quiver at our feet, begging for mercy, but their prayers will fall upon deaf ears. For what are mere mortals to us gods?" 

 

The baby lets out a shriek of delight as Emma's head pops up beside her. 

 

"Wow, did you hear that?" she says in her normal voice, a comical look of exaggerated fear pasted over her features. " Definitely your daughter. She inherited all of your theatrics and bloodlust. A deadly combination." 

 

Regina presses her lips together, doing her best to look irritated. 

 

"Come on," Emma whines, dropping the act, "T.L.B. and I are bored. Let's go get some food and then have a little fun. We're wasting the weekend. It's gotta be past noon by now, no?" She stands and adjusts the baby securely against her side so she can pull her phone out of her pocket to check the time. Her face pales. "Woah." 

 

"What?" Regina studies her. "What's wrong?"

 

"An insane amount of missed calls from Snow. Messages too." 

 

Never a good sign. Regina pats her pockets to see if her phone is in a similar state but finds them empty. She must have forgotten hers back at the house in all the commotion this morning. 

 

"Hold on." Emma taps the screen and presses the phone to her ear. She bounces the baby on her hip a little as she waits for the ringing to stop. "Yeah, hey." A pause. "Sorry. It was on silent all day. I forgot to put the volume back on. I know. I know. I'm sorry." 

 

Though she can't make out the words themselves, Snow's shrill voice is more than loud enough for Regina to roll her eyes over. 

 

"Yeah." Emma's eyes flicker over Regina. "We're together. Do you want- I dunno. I guess hers was off too. Wanna talk to her? What's going on?"

 

The shift is not subtle. 

 

"Oh no..." Emma's whole body tenses. Her eyes dart around the room. From the baby, to the books they've gone through already, to Regina, and back to the baby again. "You're- you're sure?" She worries her lip and Regina moves closer, eager to get in the know.

 

"What is it? What's going on?" 

 

Emma takes on a panicked look and turns away from her. "Nothing. Go away." 

 

"Emma," Regina scolds. "Tell me."

 

Emma gives a dismissive wave. "No. Don't worry about it."

 

"What? Come on." She reaches for the phone but Emma jerks her hand out of reach, holding it far overhead. "Emma!" She's more demanding this time, and the baby's safety is the only reason she hasn't used magic to get her way already.

 

"Mind your own business."

 

"If you don't give me that phone this instant-"

 

"Oh, yeah, see, the thing is I would but I don't want to so-"

 

-

 

Regina's wide, plastic smile is insufferable, and Emma makes sure to stand well behind her so she doesn't have to bear witness. 

 

"We really are very sorry." He's a kind looking man. Heavy set with a well groomed mustache and bright, teary eyes. "Meggy just gets herself into such mischief." 

 

"Her magic only manifested just recently." Meggy--Megan--twists in her mother's arms. The tall, thin woman looks rather haggard, her dark hair in limp curls that hang messily around her shoulders. She looks exactly like someone with no magical experience who has found herself suddenly dealing with all kinds of it on a regular basis. Emma can sympathize, she's seen that look in the mirror plenty of times. "Now it's all day every day. She disappears here and then shows up there. One day she'll be under the car and the next she's on the roof!" 

 

Her laughter is high pitched, manic, and if she wasn't so busy sulking Emma might have felt sorry for her. 

 

"No harm done." It absolutely kills Emma that Regina is only being so nice to them to rub it in. She's one hundred percent positive that the practically-perfect-in-every-way mayor is judging this frazzled little family to high heaven. "Besides the breaking and entering of course."

 

Everyone laughs but Emma. David laughs the loudest. David always laughs the loudest. 

 

Emma scowls. 

 

"Thank you so much for taking such good care of her, really. We'd been preparing for the possibility that she might magic herself out of the house some day, but when it finally happened we still found ourselves more than a little flustered." Judging by the fact that the buttons on the mother's blouse are mismatched and the father is wearing bath slippers at the police station that's probably an understatement. "It really is a blessing your home is the one she stumbled into."

 

"Aw," Regina coos in an incredibly un-regina-like way, "well despite the confusion we loved having her." Her sickly sweet smile turns on Emma. "Didn't we, Sheriff?" 

 

Emma scratches at her nose and looks away with a noncommittal, "Hmm."  

 

At the very least Emma was right about Megan being a True Love Baby. She's just the more traditional sort, not created from True Love but born with magic because of it, just like the Savior herself. Magic doesn't run in either of her parent's families so they've been left with a sparking, teleporting baby and no experience on how to handle her. Honestly, listening to their many, many, horror stories she's actually grateful to have been the wrong one all along. 

 

Like, it's not as though she actively wants another baby at the moment. Or at all. Maybe. She's not really sure. Hasn't given it much thought, which is probably telling in itself. Really, the reasoning had just made sense to her at the time and, frankly, the more pushback Regina had given her at the idea the more she'd wanted to fight for it to be true because, well-

 

The more pushback Regina gives her on anything the more Emma fights for it. That's just their way. 

 

Truth be told, embarrassed as she is Emma is also more than a little relieved.  

 

...

 

At least she would be if Regina would stop fucking grinning at her like that. 

 

It takes an eternity for her humiliation to end. A thousand "thank you"s and a million "don't mention it"s and a promise from Regina to help teach Megan how to handle her powers as she grows. An eternity before the family shuffles out to reconnect and Snow and David head home to put their feet up after a frantic morning and only Regina is left in the station, releasing a long, contented sigh. 

 

"Well, that was very embarrassing for you." She gives Emma a sharp, condescending pat on the cheek and then heads for the door. 

 

At this point, there's really only one thing for it.

 

Emma barks out a high laugh. "What? Wait, did you not know I was joking the whole time?" She blows out an incredulous huff. "Pfft. Oh wow. It was super obvious. I mean, as if I would be dumb enough to think-" Another laugh. "I dunno, Regina. Sounds like if anybody here should be embarrassed it's you." 

 

Regina doesn't so much as slow her step as she disappears through the open door. "Whatever you say, Emma."

 

Emma pouts for all of a second before chasing after her. 

 

"I still maintain she has your eyes!"  

 

-

 

Megan clumsily dismounts her bike and leans it against the garage, fiddling with the clasp of her helmet as she heads up the front walk. The front door is unlocked, just like it always is for her every Sunday, and she lets herself in without knocking because Regina acts all offended when she does even though Dad always reminds her to have good manners. 

 

"Hey, check it out," Emma is the first to greet her in the hall, a cookie in each hand, "T.L.B. in the house."

 

"Emma, it's been literal years," Regina groans from the kitchen. 

 

Megan happily accepts the treat as she ignores the bickering she's far too used to by now.  

 

"How's middle school treatin' you? Still spooky?" 

 

She shrugs. "Mom says I'll get used to it." 

 

"Smart lady."

 

"All right, here we go." Henry emerges from the living room, a dusty box in hand. Even though he goes to school a couple hours away, he comes home to see his moms pretty much every weekend. Emma says it’s because he’s a Big Dweeb. "So hear me out. It's old and a little outdated now, but I think we're gonna have a lot of fun with it. Especially if we can get my moms to play too."

 

"Talisman?" Emma scoffs. "Get real, nerds. I want to actually enjoy my day off, thanks." 

 

Henry rolls his eyes as she disappears into the other room. 

 

"Lessons first," Regina pokes her head in from the kitchen to remind them, "games after."

 

Henry grins at Megan as soon as she's gone, brow raised. "Think you can work your magic on them?"

 

Megan cackles.