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Epilogue

 

Henry, clearly tired of waiting for Emma exchange more than small talk with his grandparents, had all out demanded a family meal for his birthday.

 

He had been very firm on the parameters of the meal; they were to have the Thanksgiving dinner they’d failed to have in November - the meal itself was to be cooked by Regina, but Snow was to make the pie because she follows Martha Stewart’s recipe and she and Snoop Dogg are friends so you know it’s good.

 

Regina had overheard Emma, on a couple of occasions, trying to persuade Henry they could do something else (including trying to bribe him with a trip to Brewer for laser tag; which Regina has subsequently Googled and pleased that Henry had declined the offer). However, with each new suggestion Henry just became more steadfast in his determination for a turkey dinner. You and Mom are practically living together now, no excuses, you both owe me a Thanksgiving.

 

Regina had, despite her reticence to glorify gun violence (laser or otherwise), also tried to persuade Henry that perhaps a Mills-Swan-Charming meal was not the best way to celebrate his birthday. However, he’d returned with an annoyingly well-argued three tiered discourse.

 

The first was that given she and his grandmother were talking again, he saw little reason for Emma to still be weird about the whole ‘baby portal thing’. Regina didn’t feel the need to explain that most of the conversations she had with his grandmother centred around Snow crying and demanding updates on her daughter’s life.

 

The second was that Lily was staying in Storybrooke, she’s working at Granny’s and everything (a fact that Regina knew all too well, and, as a consequence, she was spending less on take out coffee than she had been), though I don’t think that’s why she’s staying, I think it’s more to do with the fact she can fly around as a dragon here. Regina had lost Henry on a dragon tangent for a bit before she was able to get him to circle back round to his argument which was: if Lily was staying, and neither Emma or Snow were planning on leaving; Storybrooke simply wasn’t big enough for her to keep her grudge going. Like Ma has totally forgiven you for being manipulated by Grandpa Gold, she can forgive Grandma and Grandpa for being manipulated by The Author.

 

Henry’s final argument, which Regina felt was not only the best but also more like an argument and a half, was that the last time Emma had been like this it had taken her six months to get over it. I’m simply not giving her that much time again , Henry had told her arms folded tightly across his chest looking every bit like the mother he was bored of placating. Anyway , he’d concluded, it’s not fair on Neal to miss out on that much time with his big sister.

 

It was definitely that argument that had persuaded Regina and so she managed to convince Emma that Henry’s Thanksgiving Birthday wasn’t the worst gift they could give him.

 

(It has also taken the promise that the following day they could go to Brewer and not only could she and Henry play laser tag, but Regina pledged to Emma that she would join in for at least one game too. Highest scorer wears the strap on , she’d whispered in Emma’s ear to add extra incentive; I literally carry a gun around for a living, do you not want a fair fight Madam Mayor? Oh, Regina had offered Emma her best politician’s smile, you have no idea what I’m capable of! )

 

Emma had done remarkably well at dinner, better than Regina thought even Henry believe she would be.

 

Emma had spent time playing PAW Patrol with Neal in the garden, running around with him on her back as he shouted Mighty Pups go, go, go! as Charming chased around after them. At supper, Henry managed to prevent anyone else from talking by explaining, at length and with excruciating detail, the intricate and minute—yet seemingly incredibly important—differences between Spider-Man and The Amazing Spider-Man .

 

Presents were opened, the pumpkin pie cake had been cut, and all  was well in the house; that was until everyone was congregated in the hallway working out how best to say their good-byes. Regina and Henry sucked in and held nervous breaths as Snow went to hug her daughter and held Emma far longer than necessary. Regina wasn’t able to catch what was whispered in Emma’s ear but she able to make out the responses of I know and a somewhat delayed I love you too, Mom at which point Regina felt able to let go of her son’s hand. Emma had kept to her promise of ‘being the well behaved little princess’ her parents had always wanted.

 

Consequently, Regina had played laser tag.

 

Having spent, what seemed like, the longest four hours of her life surrounded by over zealous and over sugared teenagers (and an equally hyped up Emma) Regina was too tired to suggest an alternative diner at Granny’s or care that she was wearing jeans and sneakers in public; let alone remember what time of day it was and if Lily was on shift.

 

Only once their order had been taken by someone that was decidedly not related to her (unless her mother had another bastard child she’d failed to mention) she allowed herself to relax and bask in the happiness of Henry and Emma as the pair of them compared notes on the best part of the day as if they hadn’t spent every minute of it together. Annoyingly though, the pair of the were united in the belief that Regina being brow beaten enough to stop at Walmart so she could but a pair of jeans and sneakers to play in was the highlight of the trip. It was at this point that she started staring at the kitchen hatch hoping for their meals so that Henry and Emma would have something else to occupy their mouths with other than their words of mockery.

 

However, the only thing to emerge from the kitchen was Lily carrying a plate of food that none of them had ordered. So busy watching the newest waitress of Granny’s employ that Regina didn’t realise the conversation around her had ended and Henry was offering the woman a small, timid wave.

 

“Hey Hen,” Lily smiled back at him, appearing equally as nervous.

 

“I didn’t know you were working tonight,” Emma said as she wrapped an arm around Regina clearly designed to reassure.

 

“Just finished. Going to eat this,” Lily held up her plate, “before I head up to my room and see what fun reruns are on telly tonight.”

 

“Why don’t you join-” Regina looked around the diner at all the empty tables, but a squeeze to her should told her she should continue, “us, Ms Pa- Lily.”

 

“You sure?” Lily looked sceptically back at her, “I don’t want to interrupt or anything.”

 

Regina must have taken too long to reply because she felt a soft tap at her ankle from Henry, “No, no,” she swallowed her discomfort and motioned to the seat next to her son in the booth, “we’d-“ but she struggled to finish her sentence and looked to Emma for help.

 

“Sit down,” Emma told her friend, “Regina’s not good at invitations. Took me a year to get anything out of her and even then it was a poisoned pastry.”

 

“I believe you had my shirt many months prior.”

 

“See how she just skims over the deadly turnover?” Emma continued as Lily eventually sat down next to Henry. “Don’t let your dinner get cold, ours will be out in a minute,” though despite Emma’s words, Regina still had to slap her hand away from picking at Lily’s fries.

 

“Why are you living here?” Regina asked after she couldn’t stand the silence at the table any longer.

 

“It was this or that shack in the woods with Mom,” she answered, after the waitress had placed down the remainder of the meals. “Here’s got cable,” Lily added with a shrug as she removed the pickles from her burger and placed them on Henry’s plate with such an ease that Regina could only assume she, Emma, and Henry had continued to share meals together despite everything that had occurred. “Unlike you to join Em and Hen here.”

 

Regina adverted her gaze from Lily, her level of discomfort having risen at the directness of the statement. It was true she was frequenting Granny’s less since Lily had started nearly two months ago, she knew it was obvious to everyone in the town why, she just hoped they were discrete in stating it.

 

“Mom’s too tired to cook tonight,” Henry saved her from answering, “she kicked our butts at laser tag.”

 

“Not surprising given she’s running around with a badge and a gun most days.”

 

“No, not Ma,” he corrected Lily, “ Mom ,” pointing a fry at Regina for emphasis.

 

“Get out,” Regina risked meeting Lily’s eyes and was rewarded with, what she thought at least, was a slightly impressed smile.

 

“I don’t know why you’re all so surprised,” Regina focused on slicing her chicken, “it’s simple hand-eye coordination. Now, sword fighting, that’s a skill; which is why you seldom see Emma with one.”

 

“Forgive me for not attending a high school with a fencing team,” the blonde grumbled into her meal.

 

For a second dinner in a row Henry dominated the conversation with the pros and cons of Web Slingers, saving the topic if MJ or Gwen Stacey was endgame for dessert; and he no doubt would have continued long into the evening except for the fact Lily asked:

 

“Why any is this important?”

 

“Because there’s a new Spider-Man 2 film,” he answered as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.

 

“Yeah, for years dude, with that weird scientist with tentacles like my mo-” Regina focused her attention on her apple crumble, not wanting to think too much about the fact Lily had stopped mid word, “-Malificent’s friend.”

 

“Not that Spider-Man 2 , there’s a new Spider-Man 2 .”

 

“I’m sorry,” but any tension Regina had allowed to consume her quickly dissipated as she found she had to stifle a laugh because Lily had put down her spoon, pushed away her sundae, and fully turned in her seat so she could properly look at Henry, “we’re living in a world with multiple Spider-Man 2 s? Like 2 Spiders 2 Men?”

 

“You’ve got two moms and not in a way like I’ve got two moms, but in a way like one of them is a dragon and the other is, well, Mom,” once again Regina disliked that she was being gestured at, “but you’re struggling with the fact that there are multiple films called Spider-Man 2 ?”

 

“What was wrong with the first Spider-Man 2 ?”

 

“Moms,” he wriggled back round in his seat so he was looking across the table at them, clearly tired of their silence in the matter, “can Lily come to the movies tomorrow because I just can’t have this conversation without being able to properly evidence that Toby McGuire is not the ultimate Spider-Man.”

 

“If Lily has nothing better to do and you’ve not bored her silly enough with all these Spider-Men, she’s more than welcome to join us.”

 

“You sure?” Lily repeated her question from earlier, brown eyes meeting brown, trepidation still weighing heavily on her voice.

 

Once again Regina swallowed down all of her doubts and insecurities before managing: “Of course.”

 

Regina swore she saw Emma shoot Lily a wink in her peripheral as Henry simply beamed around the table clearly impressed with himself.

 

“Look at you,” Emma squeezed Regina’s knee as she clinked their glasses together once they were finally alone.

 

Lily had retired up to her room and Henry had demanded he be able to go see his grandparents so he could retrieve his Marvel DVDs because apparently Lily has a lot to catch up on .

 

Emma had waved him away with a text us when you get there regardless of the fact she’d linked their iPhones and constantly kept track of his movements.

 

Hey Emma had defended her actions when Regina had found out there’s a tonne of Disney villains I’ve not met yet. Scar, Jafar, that chubby English man with a pug she’d reamed off. You know Star Wars is Disney ? While I’d love to meet Princess Leia, the real one, I don’t want to have to go toe to toe with Darth! And I definitely don’t want Henry to become the droid he’s looking for.

 

“-seems I’m not the only one able to play nice at a family meal,” Emma continued, having persuaded Regina to stay for another drink just the two of them. “She wants to get to know you,” Emma added more softly after a sip from her glass, “she just doesn’t know how.” Regina gave her a side glance over her whiskey. “You are kind of intimidating.”

 

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

 

“Sure you do,” Emma smiled at her, Regina felt Emma’s hand moving slightly higher. “The meaner you are, the further people stay away. They can’t hurt you if they don’t come close.”

 

“Please don’t psycho-analyse me in a place that’s only one step up from a bullet diner.”

 

“Hey,” Emma rubbed at her thigh, “you’re talking to a girl that lived a boat rather that admit she loved you. That’s why we work; we’re equally messed up.”

 

“That’s not as reassuring as you think it is,” Regina retorted, finishing her drink and encouraging Emma to do the same.

 

She guided Emma out on to the street, the pad of her thumb gently tracing love letters on the side of Emma’s hand as the walked to the car.

 

They were practically on Mifflin Street before Regina finally spoke again, “I think Lily should move into the loft. She shouldn’t be living in a Bed and Breakfast, especially now she’s moved here on a permanent basis.”

 

“It’s only a two bedroom, and I really don’t want to share a room with Henry again given he’s now fourteen and has an unhealthy relationship with his tube sock.”

 

Regina shook her head, this was not the time to discuss Henry’s laundry (though she did mentally catalogue it as an ‘Emma conversation’ that the blonde would need to have with their son sooner rather than later).

 

“Neither you or Henry have spent a night there in two months. And unless you want to tell me otherwise, you don’t even have a box of cereal by way of food in your kitchen. Furthermore, I have half of your dreadful jackets hanging in my coat closet,” she continued as they walked down her path, “it might as well be all of them at this point.”

 

“Madam Mayor,” Emma spun round, her mass of keys left dangling in the front door as it slowly swung open, “is this your way of asking me to move in?”

 

“Depends on how you react,” Regina stepped passed her and into the house, “are you going to say ‘yes’ or are you going to ignore me for six months while you hyperventilate at the prospect of domesticity and a literal white picket fence?”

 

“If I say ‘yes’,” Emma grabbed her and pushed her against the nearest wall, kicking the front door firmly closed in her wake, “my framed Family Tree of Fate is moving in with me and to be hung above our bed.”

 

“I might see to it that it gets irreparably damaged in the move,” Regina tried to protest as Emma started nipping kisses along her neck, a thigh sliding tantalisingly between her legs.

 

“Nope,” Emma continued, pinning Regina’s arms to her sides to stop her trying to slide her hands beneath Emma’s shirt, “it’s a package deal. Me and The Tree.”

 

“I’ll let you wear the strap-on,” she attempted to counter as Emma started to grind against her.

 

“Please,” Emma bit down on her shoulder, “you and I both know that while you may wear the pants, I wear the harness in this relationship. There’s no case of ‘let’. Now,” she undid the button of the terrible jeans Regina was still, inexplicably, wearing, “ask me to move in properly and I’ll reward you right now with not just a ‘yes’ but the best fuck of your life.”

 

“Ms Swan,” Regina managed to expel before a thumb roughly swiped at her clitoris, “I think you should get your mail redirected here.”

 

“Not quite what we’re looking for, Madam Mayor,” Emma took the smallest step backwards, she was still able to support Regina’s weight and hold her captive against the wall, but the pressure Regina needed was lost. “Want to have another go?” she offered, taking her earlobe between her teeth.

 

“Ms Swan,” Regina pulled her arms free so she could grab fist fulls of Emma’s T-shirt, forcing the blonde back against her body, “are you moving in or not?”

 

“I suppose that’s the best I’m going to get,” Emma laughed, sliding her right hand lower into Regina’s underwear.  Regina relaxed against the wall, her eyes closing and her head falling back, as she felt Emma tease her folds open, trailing a wet finger up and more gently starting to circle, painfully slowly, the erect collection of nerves. But just as quickly as Emma’s finger arrived it seemed to disappear:

 

“I do love you,” Emma said, pausing her ministrations once again. Regina opened her eyes to see Emma nervously staring back at her, “you know that right?”

 

“Just as you know I love you,” Regina smiled, pulling Emma closer still, practically moulding their bodies into one against her wall. “Please move in with me.”

 

“I’ve just been waiting for you to ask,” Emma kissed her slowly as she finally slid two fingers inside her.