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Monsters and Negatively Charged Ions

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The thing about monster hunting, Emma discovered, is that contusions and concussions are pretty standard. Someone had suggested she wear a helmet to face a draugr. Nasty, rotting things with the strength of a bull . She assumes that is not a suggestion she took seriously considering that a doctor is currently shining a light on her eyes. He hums while she wonders just why the hell she is in a hospital gown when the problem is her head. The doctor then turns to examine her brain scan and opens his mouth only to close it. 

 

“What?” Emma snaps. Rolling her eyes only hurts her head.

 

“I’m just going to ask you a couple of routine questions, if that’s OK.”  The lines around his eyes crinkle with practiced smile. “Who is president?”

 

“Does that even matter? The realms are united.”

 

“OK then. Next question,” He scribbles on a notepad. “Who merged the realms to begin with ?” 

 

“Please…” God, Emma could punch the doctor right now. That smug, expectant look on his face. “The Queen…”

 

“Who is…”

 

Shit. She should know this. Like 200 points on Jeopardy easy.  Emma tries to come up with a face. A name. Maybe a headline. She remembers when it happened. The blinding light in the sky and ground shaking. The burst of magic that pricked her skin and lifted a weight off her shoulders. Why did it feel like that? There was a specific reason. Her head hurts just thinking about it. 

 

“I don’t remember.” She admits. “Why can’t I remember?” 

 

“It’s the heroes’ disease,” He says like he knows her. Like he is trying to be funny about it. “Just a little run of the mill amnesia. I wouldn’t be too concerned.” 

 

Emma is going to punch him. If she has brain damage she could at least blame it on that. But just then a knock on the door saves him from getting a black eye. 

 

“Come in, we’re just about done.” 

 

A man peeks his head in. Whatever mush her brain is right now knows enough to feel relief at the sight of him. He is tall. Too tall, the mush seems to remind her. His lips are pressed into a thin line and his scarf is still around his neck. Red and grey. His name. At the tip of her tongue. If she could just place him, Emma is sure everything would go back to normal. 

 

“Hey, ma.” He smiles at her. “Tough day at the office?”

 

“Hey, kid.” She replies like a reflex. 

 

Kid. Hers? Yes. But he has to be her age. Unless. How old is she? How much doesn’t she remember? Emma checks her reflection on the glass cabinets, searches for grey hair and wrinkles. For crow’s feet. Liver spots. Anything that makes sense but is horrifying all the same. All she finds is blonde hair and a few smile lines on her face. Emma holds her forehead as pain shoots across it.

 

“Just how hard did I hit my head?”  

 


 

Henry. Her adult son’s name is Henry Mills.  He has a wife called Jacinda and a daughter called Lucy. Their existence is explained by time-travel spells, curses, and portals that make Emma’s head spin. The yellow of his house was picked to match Emma’s bug. It has two stories and he has an office set-up in the garage. A little nook that Jacinda calls his nerd corner with a typewriter and a bunch of notebooks next to his old motorcycle. They have her set-up in the guestroom they never use up by the door to the attic. It’s not babysitting, ma. Emma almost believed him. It’s just until mom gets back. And that thought, terrifies her. There is something that remains unsaid between them. An agreement that some piece of knowledge should remain a secret. 

 

Emma has a wife. That much they told her. She shares a house somewhere in town with her, as married people often do. It’s where everything she has ever owned can be found. Anything that might spark her memory. But Emma dreads walking into that place. Empty. Unrecognizable. It would feel invasive. Going into that place when her wife is off realm on a trip. With no cell reception. She is going to be furious with whoever convinced her the trip was a good idea, Henry sucked in a breath as he helped her settle in. Anxiety sits at the pit of her stomach, for the moment she meets her.



“So, uh..what is she like?” Emma asks Jacinda as she chops a carrot. “Uuh, my wife.” 

 

“Abue’s the best! No one cooks or hexes like her. She does it with style, ” Lucy pipes in as she sneaks away with a cookie in hand. “And she is like, the love of your life. You can get kinda gross about it but everyone just lets slide…”

 

“Lucy.” Her mother reprimands her. “Though I cannot deny she has a point.” 

 

She scratches the back of her neck not knowing what to make of that. Emma never really saw herself as a person who had a love of her life and that had been fine. Most people don’t get them and she had been more ordinary than most people. That had been fine and enough for a whole twenty-eight years, according to her family. But then she came into town and well. The rest she cannot remember. 

 

“When is she coming back?” Emma breathes out the question.

 

“Four or five days, give or take.”  Jacinda replies, rummaging through the pantry. “Me and Tiana have told her to consider using ambassadors. But does she listen? No. Por necia.” 

 

Great. Her wife is this larger than life figure. Important enough to go on these missions. Indispensable to them. And Emma, is what? A monster hunter who gets her brains knocked out by the undead. It would be disappointing to meet her, Emma thinks. Her wife would be expecting a different Emma Swan. Not her. With her light-headedness and foggy memories. 

 

“I know that look,” Henry tells her as he washes rice in the sink. 

 

“What look?”

 

“The trademark ‘I’m questioning my place in life even though I have no rational reason to’ Swan look.” He raises his brow in a way that is at least familiar to her. 

 

“That’s a mouthful.” She scratches her neck. Being seen so transparently is something she will have to relearn. 

 

“Hen, go easy on her.” Jacinda says. “Do you remember how you were when you woke up from the last curse? You made it as far as the embankment before you came to.” 

 

He sighs and then gives her a knowing smile.  Her son, it seems, knows when to admit defeat. Maybe he got that from her. 

 

“Look, I think re-meeting mom and moving back into the house is a little much for you right now.” 

 

“Yeah. Sorta.” Emma admits as she fiddles with her fingers. “But wouldn’t she...wouldn’t she want me to?” 

 

“She’ll understand. Trust me, time is mom’s strong suit.” 

 

“What do you suggest?”

 

“Meet somewhere neutral,” Jacinda says helpfully. “At a cafe somewhere. No pressure.” 

 

“Yeah, ma. Take your wife out for coffee.” Henry laughs. “It’ll be like a blind date.” 

 

Emma isn’t sold on the idea but it’s something concrete. Small. Doable.

 

She can take her wife out on a blind date.

 


 

Lucy spent the night going through all their favorite movies. Cheesy monster flicks from the 80s with some classic superhero stuff where the special effects were before a time without magic.  All this in the hopes of jogging her memory and getting away with pizza on a Wednesday night. She didn’t say it but Emma suspected it all the same. It was all a distraction, a con she spotted a mile away. Her wife had come back into town and Henry and Jacinda had gone to meet her at the town’s port. Break the news to her. Lucy ended up snoozing on her lap halfway through their marathon as Emma considered what tomorrow would bring for her. 

 

Breakfast was quieter than usual, glances were exchanged silently. Someone has to tell her, Jacinda’s eyes seemed to say. The date, Henry said clearing his throat, would happen today in the afternoon. If Emma felt like it. He omitted anything about her wife’s feelings about it. Pressed his lips into silence as he sipped on his tea. Later Jacinda watched Emma go through several variations of the same outfit until she landed on her old red leather jacket and strongest boots. 

 

“Ha, abue will love that.” Lucy said with a laugh. “It’s a classic gran look.” 

 

That twisted her guts into a ball of nerves. Emma stepped onto the transport on the port suddenly feeling that the whole thing was a terrible idea. But she found the old cafe in Brooklyn all the same. Busy, near the port there. Witches, half-wolves. Princesses still in the gowns. Emma walks past the waitress refusing to serve a Prince’s horse clotted cream on a cup on her way in. Wonders just who her wife could be. It dawns on her that she did not ask. Not even her name, which really should have been the first thing she should have learned. That settles it. Emma is an idiot. 

 

An idiot who lines up for coffee all the same. Because she isn’t a full coward yet. If her wife is a larger than life character then she would look it. Unfortunately, the whole cafe is packed with them. Some ancient sorceress is going to approach her, call her a pet-name she doesn’t recognize, and Emma is going to faint.  The bell above the door rings and in walks someone fitting that description exactly. Dressed in a grey cloak and leaning on a staff. Emma has half a mind to run before it’s too late. She will tell Henry to apologize, it’s too early. She couldn’t do it after all. 

 

“Is this the line for the coffee or the elixir?” A silky voice asks next to her. “They did a poor job with the symbols, I’m afraid.” 

 

Emma turns to look at the owner of the voice and feels herself deflate with relief. It’s only a woman. Maybe the most beautiful woman she has ever seen, sure, but only a woman. Dressed in a trenchcoat and a purple scarf. Black hair that goes just below her jaw. Not a fairy, or a princess. Or an ancient sorceress. This woman could not be her wife, she concludes.. 

 

“Uh, it’s for the coffee.” Emma manages to say. “If not, guess we’ll have to wait and see if we grow a second head or something.” 

 

The woman laughs and Emma feels a pull of sadness that this woman is decidedly not her wife. 

 

“Is that what elixir does? And here I thought it was eternal youth.” 

 

“Nah. That’s what golden apples are for.” That bit of forgotten knowledge slipped out. “All the rage with the rich.” 

 

“As if we need them to live longer.” 

 

The woman eyes her curiously, something like satisfaction in her eyes. It makes the back of her neck warm, her words stick to the back of her throat. 

 

“Are you with someone?” The woman asks, giving the room a quick look. 

 

“I...kind of?” Emma ends up replying. 

 

“That is usually the kind thing you know.” Her lips curl with the words. 

 

“Yeah. Usually.” Her chest fills with all the insecurities she had been feeling, with the certainty that she will not be enough for the woman who walks in through the door. “I’m meeting my wife. Apparently.” 

 

“Oh?” It sounds a lot like disappointment. 

 

The line moves and they are closer to the till. Just one person ahead of them. Emma has still not made up her mind on what she’ll drink to wash down her shame. 

 

“It’s kind of a funny story, actually. I hit my head on the job and have a mild case of amnesia,” It’s like her chest has been punctured and now everything is flowing out of her. “I’m supposed to meet my wife here or re-meet her, I guess. I don’t know, my kid thought it would be a good idea--”

 

“You don’t sound so sure.”

 

“You caught that.” Now Emma laughs. Even a stranger can spot it, what would her wife think? “It’s just a lot to process. Didn’t even ask for a picture, so I don’t even know what she looks like. Isn’t that stupid?  I can’t wrap my head around it.” 

 

The woman nods, her lips a thin line. She types on her phone and then gives Emma a pained smile. 

 

“I’m sorry. I don’t know why I unloaded on you.” 

 

“It’s alright, dear.”  She says with a breath. “Perhaps it’s what you needed.” 

 

“Welcome to Gecko’s, sorry about the wait. Peak hours.” The cashier greets them. “What can I get you?” 

 

Emma signals for the stranger to go first, it’s only fair she thinks. She has taken enough of her time. 

 

“A grande Americano, please.”  There is a quiet sigh before she adds. “To go.” 

 

“Can I have your name?” 

 

“Regina.” She says like she has just given away a secret. 

 

Of course, this is when Emma’s memories clear. Just a fraction, just an inch. In the dumbest way possible.

 

“Like the Queen?” Emma asks before she can stop herself. 

 

“Yes. Exactly like the Queen.” Regina says, shaking her head on something that borders amusement.  

 

“You must get that a lot.” 

 

“Not as much as you’d think. Most people don’t have the nerve.” There is something about her, almost playful. “And what are you getting, Miss…”

 

“Swan. Emma Swan.” She has ever been happier to give out her name. “That much I didn’t forget. Even if I can’t remember how I like my coffee.” 

 

“You should try their hot chocolate with a little cinnamon on top. It’s superb.” She takes her receipt, before giving her one last smile. “It was nice meeting you, Miss Swan.” 

 


Her wife didn’t show in the end. Henry called, she could practically hear him wincing. There was an emergency. Totally last minute, mom had to take a transport to go off realm again. Sorry, ma. Emma thinks it is probably for the best. She got to sit with her hot chocolate and cinnamon and remember the lyrics to an old song. Relieved that she would not have to disappoint her wife that day. One day she will be ready, maybe soon. Maybe not. 

 

What she can do is go on a monster watch with her granddaughter. The streets are quiet this close to dusk. The perfect conditions to get her mind off failed first dates and a malfunctioning brain. 

 

“Trust me, gran,” She says, giving a radar a hit. “I’ve been doing this with you for a while.” 

 

“Why does that sound like a trick?” Emma gives a look which she hopes has some authority to it. 

 

“OK.” Lucy gives her a sheepish smile. “So maaaybe we didn’t have monsters in Concordia or Hyperion Heights but I have definitely been on patrol with you before. I’m gonna turn fifteen this year, so like.  This is a rite of passage and stuff.” 

 

“Uh huh.” It might not be the full truth but the worst they can encounter tonight is a few pixies. “What does the radar say?” 

 

“All clear.” She gives her a thumbs up. “Think this will bring back any memories?”

 

“I don’t know.” Her voice gives her away her frustration. “Haven’t forgotten anything monster related. Though I can’t remember anything before I decided to hunt them.”  

 

“You were Storybrooke Sheriff.” Lucy informs her, maybe expecting the title to hold some special power over her. 

 

“Gross.” 

 

“That’s what the Mayor thought of it at first,”  There is a laugh the kid is biting down. “But you grew on her.” 

 

Emma gets a flash of the Mayor’s office. An apple tree. No, an apple tree she took a chainsaw to. Fuck. That sounds like her. An office decorated in dark colors. Lunches that ran a little late. They became a hide-out. From what? It’s worse when she gets these floating fragments of her life than when she cannot remember at all. 

 

“Did I quit? What happened?” 

 

“Queen Regina united the realms, gran.” At least she tries to sound patient. “You and the Mayor decided it was pointless and immoral to police the town with the realms open for all. Left that to the community.” 

 

“Right. Cool. So when did I move on to... this ?” 

 

“After you rescued me from a griffin’s claws. You already had the skill set, so why not?” Lucy shrugs her shoulders while Emma gets over the horror of a monster coming down and snatching her away. “Also I think you’d just binged Buffy for the first time. Abue gave me full mocking rights.” 

 

“Yeah?”

 

“Mills family tradition.” 

 

Her wife must think Emma is some dork. Could find it endearing. Or at least she would like to believe. When the idea of meeting her doesn’t fill her with a cold panic and she returns from that conveniently timed off-realm trip, they could try going on that date again. 

 

“Hey, gran. I’m assuming red dots are a bad thing.” Lucy lifts up the screen so she can check it. 

 

“I thought you’d done this before, kid.” She winks as she takes the radar from her. 

 

“Would I lie to my grandmother?” 

 

Triangular red dots. That means it’s her least favorite kind of monster coming out the sewage. Pure slime and a stench like death. Don’t you dare try and kiss me, Emma Swan. I’ll burn the slime off you if you take another step. 

 

“Why are you smiling?”

 

“Hope that’s not your favorite hoodie you’re wearing, Luce.” The sentence is strung so naturally. She has that sliver of her wife to thank for it. 

 

Her granddaughter makes a face followed by a muffled whine. Just in time a green slime oozes out from a manhole. It makes unhuman, disgusting sounds Emma does not care for as it transforms into a giant blob. A giant, one eyed blob that is only interested in absorbing them. 

 

“Go out with your gran, Lucy. It’ll be fun, maybe you’ll get to spot a Mearas.” The kid mutters under her breath as the slime monster grows three times in size. 

 

“Hey--” Emma begins but is cut short by a putrid five pounds of green slime thrown on her.  

 

“Watch out!” Lucy tries to pull her away by her wrist but it’s too late. A wetness snatches her up her feet and then, of course. The damn thing swallows her. 

 

Thirty seconds of air. Emma has to think. Think. Slime, slime. Ectoplasm? I suppose magic could be boiled down to negatively charged ions, if you want to be pedestrian about it. Magic. Emma stretches her fingers until the tips are sparking white and the blob explodes everywhere. 

 

“Gran!”  A goo covered Lucy rushes to her side. 

 

“Did you know I have powers ?” 

 

“Yeah,” She says twisting slime out of her hair and throwing it in Emma’s face. The disrespect. “You owe me dinner. For the child endangerment.” 

 

Emma throws her head back and laughs. Laughs until she gets pulled into a hug. 

 


 

Going on a transport covered in blob monster means they at least got to sit unbothered while they travel to the best yuca shop in all the realms.  Everyone in the family swears by it, Lucy informs her. They do a lot of travelling, Emma was told over vivid descriptions. The realms were united and there was nowhere they didn’t go. All of them together. Through rainforests and ruins. Lost cities, old cities. Forbidden cities. Emma listened and resented her lost memories yet again. How could she get so many wishes granted only to forget them.

 

It’s drizzling in this other realm and the air feels like a warm blanket. The humidity sticks to her and every passing person pinches their nose as they walk away. The winding and thin streets lit by magic, paved with cobblestone.. The orange of it reflects on the small puddles on the side-walk.  They make their way to a red tarp, and if nothing else, her stomach responds to the smells coming from it. The yuca street vendor, who seems to know them both intimately, swats them away. A short woman with a hair net covering her dark hair.

 

“Ufa mama, you stink like caca de perro.” She says covering half her face. “Take the last table by the other stall. I’ll bring you your usual.” 

 

“Jeez, gran. Can’t take you anywhere.” Lucy pokes at her ribs. “C’mon. Tita always throws in an extra glass of horchata if we behave.” 

 

“I like this place.” Emma says once they have settled on a table. She means it, the strange familiarity of it gives her what she can only describe as nostalgia. 

 

“You would. It’s where abue brought you on  your first official date.” Lucy tells her as she leans on her elbows. 

 

“Official?” 

 

“I took you a while to figure it out,”  She accepts the drinks from a young girl, who tries to fan away their smell. “Dad likes to say it was something like twenty-five years in the making. Abue puts more like at--” 

 

“Twenty-five?!” Emma sputters out her rice drink. 

 


A ping goes off in Lucy’s pocket and she retrieves her phone only to try and hide a smile. Emma would have guessed puppy love if not for the distinct look of mischief in her eye. 

 

“Really, gran, we’re covered in entrails and that’s the part that throws you off?” She gets to her feet and stretches her arms. “I’m gonna go get us some tajadas while the food comes.” 

 

“Wait--”

 

“It’ll be a second.” 

 

Emma is left scratching her head as Lucy does everything in her power to avoid coming back to the table. Tell me, she doesn’t take after you. She wishes she could catch these elusive memories and hold them in place. 

 

“Miss Swan.” A voice breaks her out of her thoughts. 

 

Regina. The woman from the coffee shop is holding a tray with what Emma assumes is her order. It’s an accomplishment to keep the surprise from giving her away. Train her voice into something that isn’t caught so off guard. 

 

“Of all the food stalls, in all the realms…” 

 

“It would seem your amnesia has not affected your taste,” Regina is poised so elegantly but never out of place. Like she relishes the humidity of this realm. “Even if it dated your sense of humor.’ 

 

“That I can’t blame on the brain damage.” 

 

At least that makes her chuckle. Head injury jokes have been her favorite way to diffuse awkwardness these past few days.  It will get old some day soon but not today when Regina is putting her hand on the extra chair across from her. 

 

“I would ask if I could join you but the stench--”

 

“Yeah, yeah. The hazards of monster hunting,” She replies, feeling very warm in her slime covered clothes. “My granddaughter has been giving me hell about it.” 

 

“It’s extremely deserved. There was public transport humiliation involved.” Lucy arrives with an identical tray and pauses for a moment. “Hi, stranger.” 

 

“Regina.” 

 

“Like the Queen.” Lucy raises a skeptical brow. Gives her a head to toe appraisal, like she doesn’t know what to make of her outfit. 

 

Regina’s lips break out in a smile, followed by a scrunch of her nose. This again, the gesture seems to say.  Emma feels a tug of fondness for this stranger. Not just because she is still as beautiful as that day at the coffee shop. There is something else about her. The definition escapes from Emma’s grasp. 

 

“Would you two of mind if I--”

 

Please .” The kid sets down her tray and closes her eyes like she knows what’s coming. 

 

A purple mists envelopes them for a few seconds and when it’s lifted every bit of slime is gone. Emma feels her heart settling down. She hadn’t even known it had been racing.  

 

“Uh, thanks.” 

 

“Happy to help. Besides, you were scaring away Tita’s customers.” 

 

Regina settles at the table, with her back so straight she could be at a royal table. She digs through her bowl full of yuca and pickled slaw with discerning fashion. The woman dabs her lips with her napkin and Emma realizes she must have been staring. For how long, she cannot tell. 

 

“So, Regina .” Lucy says with a mouth full of food. “Come here often?” 

 

“I’d say so, yes.”  There is some sort of amusement in her expression.  “It’s one of my favorite spots.” 

 

“That’s funny.” Her tone is weird and impossible to read. “How do you know my gran?” 

 

“Lucy. Not the third degree.” It merits chastising. It does.. “We met at a coffee shop.” 

 

“The one where you were supposed to meet abue?” 

 

No. No. The kid seems intent on staring down Regina, a fixed gaze. It’s as if Lucy is daring her to do something. Say something. That would mark her as a threat to Emma’s marriage.  Guilt hangs over her stomach. There must have been something Emma did to imply this and Lucy is picking up on it. It’s mortifying. 

 

“Kid, it’s nothing like that.” Emma breathes out. “I’m sorry.” 

 

“Don’t apologize, she is right to be wary of strangers. “ Regina runs a hand through her hair and then sets her plate aside. “You are very lucky to have her as a granddaughter.” 

 

That seems to melt a smile out of Lucy. A confusing one. It makes soft lines around the woman’s eyes. Like something has been said between them and Emma has missed it entirely. 

 

“I was just about to tell  gran about how she and my abue got together,” The weird tone is gone but it’s replaced by an equally puzzling easiness to her words. “Lots of swords and magic involved. A pirate dumped at Sea. Interrupted weddings. A legendary affair.” 

 

“My, that sounds like a story.” Regina’s eyes are light and attentive on her. 

 

  You idiot, no one could have predicted us. Not even me. The words stay trapped between her ribs as Emma looks away. For the first time since she hit her head, Emma understands how much she misses her wife. 


 

Henry has a solution or so he says. For the lack of memories and the general panic and inadequacy Emma goes through at least once a day. He types out a list of places and things to do that just might bring back her memories. It’s not like a curse, kid. It’s a condition.  It’s all still a story, Ma. Stories always work themselves out. His vote of confidence and Lucy’s and Jacinda’s insistence is what pushes her to try.

 

 Walk to the old Sheriff’s station and face whatever ghoul was messing with the wires. It’s only good to give her a migraine as she tries to decide if her wife had ever sat on her desk. Legs crossed, like a cat expecting her prey.  The day Emma arrives at the docks a strange feeling of isolation creeps into her lungs as she stares out onto the water.  Like her pockets are empty of the one thing that matters. The point of it goes over her head. And the salt only gets lodged in her throat. 

 

It’s best to move onto the next things and places on Henry’s lists, she decides.. In no particular order and as the mood strikes her. In a fair in Camelot she finds Regina dressed in a perfect red, being harassed by a jester. Her brow furrows when she snaps her head to a side, I’ve been followed by buffoons before, do not think I will not give you to the lady in the lake. There Emma remembers a dance, holding her wife in her arms in Camelot. With something like bitterness in her tongue. After a disorienting trip to the Wish Realm she finds Regina standing at the back of a transport. In knee high boots and a buttoned up coat. Looking like a page from a story book. They watch the bright rainbow sparks of the magic at work in silence until Emma makes a joke and Regina shakes her head. 

 

On the other side of a troll guarded bridge in Seattle, she gets caught in the rain. It’s Regina's umbrella that shields her from the storm.  Some would say I’m one of your marks, Miss Swan. Should I be worried? It makes her mouth taste like spiced cider. But Emma finally has to admit that the whole thing is getting embarrassing when she gets a swinging door to the face outside the lady’s at a diner in the middle of nowhere. For the shame, the dishonor of a sore nose, she gets rewarded a sticky bearclaw and an eye roll. Really, dear, it was bound to happen.  All throughout Emma looks at Regina’s dark eyes and feels that empty space she saves for her wife pulsate until her bones ache. 

 

The last place on Henry’s machine-typed list is 108 Mifflin Street. It comes with a set of parentheses. (Only go when you’re ready. Picking up some flowers wouldn't hurt either.) Memory loss or not Emma is certain she never expected to be given dating advice by her adult son. Or to be thoroughly inspected by her granddaughter and her mother before she even sets out the door. 

 

“What are you gonna say?” Lucy asks,  as Jacinda picks out a loose thread from Emma’s pullover. 

 

“Hi?”

 

“I mean. That’s worked in the past.” Henry points out, forgetting she is most definitely not in on the joke. “You’ll do great.” 

 

“You could fall flat on your butt and she’ll look at you like you’re the moon.” Her daughter-in-law adds. 

 

“Maybe I’ll just do that. Break the ice.” Emma stiffles out a laugh and finally gets to walking out the door. Slips on her way to the car for good measure. 

 

“Please stay in one pice, gran.” Lucy snickers. 

 

“Kids.” Emma mumbles, slipping into her yellow bug for the first time since that draugr knocked her unconscious. 

 

If you think I am driving this metal coffin... You’re just saying that because you don’t know how to drive a stick. Admit it. 

 

A warmth washes over Emma as starts the ignition and finds that the way to Mifflin Street seems to be instinctual. It felt like buying her bouquet at the market at a stall in front of Tita’s place picking out Orchids, Palulu and Blazing Swords because it’s what felt right. Emma could still not be enough for the woman who is her wife. She could still find her wanting, still miss the Emma Swan with her full memories. Anxiety dips in and out of her stomach but it’s not stronger than the ache of missing her.  Emma makes all the right turns back to the house, goes past that Oak tree that needs trimming. Until she sees it. 

 

“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.” She slams her breaks.

 

A dragon. A goddamn dragon. Of all things tonight. Perching itself on the roof of a house. Her house. The one she shares with her wife. The Mayor’s Mansion. Her wife is the Mayor. Her grandkid is such a little shit, Emma is going to tell her that when she wraps her in a hug. But now there is a scaly bastard threatening she has to take care of. It opens its jaws to throw fire up into the sky and sinks its claws deeper onto the roof.  The bug ends up abandoned on the sidewalk as Emma goes to confront the thing. 

 

“Hey! What is your deal?!”

 

“I seek the Queen!” It screeches. “My treasure under the mountain! She took it from me!” 

 

“Then why the hell are you messing up my house? Shouldn’t you be destroying a castle or--” What. Her head spins and air is scarce on her chest. Her wife is the Queen. Her wife is the Mayor. Emma is married to the Queen. Of all the realms. Who had been away. The most beautiful woman she had ever seen. Dressed in red. In a buttoned up coat and boots. Exactly like the Queen. Emma Swan, the biggest idiot in all the realms. That should be her official title. 

 

“Listen, you overgrown snake, it was explained to you that new laws  call for redistribution of wealth,” Her voice says, stepping out of a purple mist. “It is forbidden to hoard riches in such an obscene manner. Wyrm or not.” 

 

“Thief!” It bellows and launches itself forward. 

 

“Regina!” Emma says her name like a reflex. Just like the magic that transports her, the magic that seems to remember better than she does. To shield them from a furious beast. 

 

“Miss Swan, we have to stop meeting like this.” Regina has the audacity to say with a grin. “What would your wife say?” 

 

“You don’t have to rub it in, you asshole.”  Emma tells her as she snakes a hand around her waist. 

 

“That’s true, She is so stupidly beautiful when adrenaline and magic are lighting up her eyes. “But where is the fun in that?” 

 

Emma presses closer to her body as they push forward against the dragon with the ease of their combined magic. Worm, worm. Transform into a worm. First go its wings, then the fire it had been breathing is all but extinguished. All that is left is an earthworm burrowing into the mud. 

 

“Welcome home, darling.” Her laugh, she had missed knowing it was Regina’s. 

 

Finally. Emma gets to kiss her wife.