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Reckless Abandon

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Thanksgiving


"You should leave."

Emma opened her eyes and frowned, rolling over to look at Regina, who had apparently gotten up and put her clothes back on after Emma had just begun to drift off.

"What? Why?" Emma asked, sitting up quickly and pulling the bed sheet up over her chest. She hadn't had any issue being naked with Regina when Regina was also naked, but now suddenly she felt exposed, and very self-conscious.

"Because!" Regina cried, exasperated, as she threw her hands up in the air as though the answer should have been obvious to the dumbfounded blonde staring at her. "This was a mistake. You need to go."

"Regina! You're freaking out!" Emma insisted. "Just calm down."

"No. Get out." Regina turned away from Emma and started picking up the Sheriff's clothing from where it had been strewn around the room. She tossed jeans and a black bra and a white tank top at Emma without looking.

"Where the hell are your panties?" Regina asked, dropping to her knees to look under the bed.

"I wasn't wearing any, remember?" Emma replied with a playful grin as she got up and began to put her clothes back on.

Regina stood up again and glared at Emma. "Fine. Get dressed and get out." 

Emma rolled her eyes. Leave it to Regina to flip out after the fact. Two hours ago she couldn't get Emma's clothes off her body fast enough, and now she was kicking her out of bed in the middle of the night. Emma smirked to herself, knowing she shouldn't have expected any less from the former Evil Queen.

"Uh… Regina?" Emma asked, once she was dressed and standing awkwardly beside the bed.

"What?" Regina snapped.

"Uh… are we gonna talk about that… thing… that happened? You know, the-"

"No! It doesn't matter. It was nothing, Emma. Now go home." Regina grabbed Emma by the arm and practically pushed her out of the bedroom.

"Call me?" Emma grinned, cheeky as ever. She couldn't help but think Regina was cute when she was flustered like this.

Regina answered by slamming the door in her face.

Emma rolled her eyes again. "Alright, Madam Mayor, I'll see myself out," Emma said aloud, as she turned and headed down the hallway.

This night hadn't exactly turned out how Emma had envisioned, but she couldn't exactly complain, either, even if Regina was currently in a tizzy. The evening had started out innocently enough, when everyone had met up at Granny's for Thanksgiving dinner. Emma had been sitting with Hook, but practically ignored him, as her attention was on Regina all evening.

Regina didn't seem herself. Robin, the proud papa, was busy showing the baby off to everyone, while Regina practically sulked across the table from Emma.

It had been Emma's idea to start taking shots.

Neither of them were drunk, but tipsy enough, perhaps, that their judgments were both a little clouded, and when Robin had left early with the baby, it had been Emma who suggested maybe she should walk Regina home, since driving was out of the question for either of them. Killian had seemed less than thrilled by that, but Emma was more concerned with Regina at that moment.

"I don't think I've ever seen you drunk before." Emma laughed.

"I'm not drunk!" Regina shot back, before chuckling. The mirth was short-lived, however, as a more somber look replaced it.

"What's up with you tonight?" Emma asked, as they neared the Mifflin street mansion.

Regina raised an eyebrow. "Isn't it obvious?" she sighed, shaking her head. "I just… nevermind."

"No, what? We're friends, right? You can tell me."

"It's stupid. He just… fawns over that damn baby so much." Regina cringed as soon as the words left her mouth. "Forget I said that. I have no right to be jealous over a baby. He's her father and…."

"You can't help how you feel, Regina. It's not an easy situation."

"Right." Regina nodded as they reached the front step. "You… want to come in?"

And that's how they'd ended up drinking in Regina's living room til the wee hours of the night. With Henry staying the night at the Charmings' loft and Robin back at the Merry Men's camp with his children, Regina and Emma were free to sit, and drink, and commiserate about their faltering love lives, perhaps a bit more than they'd originally intended to.

Well, not more than Emma had been intending to. She was already quite sure her time with Hook had run its course, and as the evening progressed, she started to think perhaps she really had a chance with Regina, after all those months spent secretly pining for the Mayor.

So then, when Emma spilled her drink on her sweater, and immediately blushed, asking Regina where she could find a towel, and Regina simply smirked and said "why don't you just take it off?", Emma knew she wasn't imagining things.

She left her sweater on Regina's living room floor, and her white tank top soon followed suit on Regina's bedroom floor, though Emma didn't really recall much of the journey up the stairs, other than Regina's tongue in her mouth and tripping at least three times as she tried to take the steps backwards so as to not break contact with Regina's mouth.

With her head buzzing from the alcohol and her body on fire from Regina's touch, Emma remembered little more than entangled limbs and fingers and tongues until the moment when it happened; something Regina thought was nothing but Emma thought felt an awful lot like magic. When Regina's fingers were inside of her, and Regina was on top of her, looking down at her, deep and intensely in her eyes, the moment that Emma came, a white light flashed in the room and for a moment time stood still and Emma saw with perfect clarity exactly what her life was supposed to be, from this moment on.

And Regina said it was nothing.

"Nothing my ass," Emma grumbled to herself, as she trudged along the empty street towards her was grateful, at least, that her new home was much closer to Mifflin street than her parents' loft. She was also quite grateful that she lived alone now, and didn't risk waking anyone up stumbling through the door with sex hair and red lipstick smeared all over her neck.

Yeah, this was much safer. No questions asked, since everyone knew exactly whose house she had just been at.

But that exactly didn't mean she was completely in the clear either, because there was someone she needed to talk to to tie up just one little loose end. Being with Regina had been every bit as amazing as Emma had imagined it would be, but she certainly had no intention of letting Regina be the 'other woman'. No, Regina wasn't just some side chick, she deserved better than that. They both did. This was what Emma had wanted for so long, and she wanted to make sure it started off without a hitch.

And that meant she needed to be minus one hook-handed pirate.

She glanced at the clock. It was late, but she was sure Hook would still be up, probably drinking rum on the deck of the Jolly Roger. He'd been just a little bit angry with her when she'd left with Regina instead of him, and she knew an angry Hook meant a staying up all night drinking Hook. He was nothing if not predictable. 

"You can do this, Swan," Emma said to herself, as she scrolled her contacts on her phone and landed on Hook's name. "Quick and easy, like ripping off a Band-Aid. Then tomorrow, Regina will call."

She wasn't entirely sure Regina would call, but she told herself she would if Regina didn't, as she hit call on her phone.

Hook picked up on the first ring.

"Swan," he said - well, practically slurred - into the phone. "Finally pry yourself away from the Evil Queen long enough to remember you have a boyfriend, love?"

"Actually, Killian, we need to talk."

"Wonderful."

Emma could hear the distinct sound of Hook drinking rum from his flask as she went through the usual it's-not-you-it's-me routine, and swore up and down there was no one else, it was just time to move on, for both of them.

Somewhere, about halfway through, Hook hung up on her, but Emma didn't care. In fact, she was a little relieved as she made her way upstairs to her room. She could still smell Regina's scent on her clothes as she stripped down and changed into a new tank top and plaid flannel sleep pants, the whole time grinning ear to ear.

She debated calling Regina right now to thank her, but decided against it, in case the she was still freaking out. She was sure Regina would come to her senses and calm down by tomorrow, and they could talk about where to go from here.

And Emma was quite sure she knew exactly where she wanted it to go.

"This is it, Swan," Emma whispered to herself as she crawled into bed. "Don't fuck it up."

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Chapter Text

When Emma woke the following morning, she momentarily forgot the events of the night before. It wasn't until she rolled herself out of bed and made her way to the bathroom that she spotted the remainder of Regina's red lipstick still smeared over her neck on her reflection in the mirror.

And she grinned.

And she thought about it the entire time she was in the shower, replaying it in her head. She remembered Regina's hands on her skin as she lathered up her vanilla body wash, and she bit her lip and leaned her back up against the cool tiles as the realization hit her that it actually happened. That wasn't a dream or a fantasy. It was real.

She was still grinning like an idiot by the time she made it into the station for work, even though Regina had yet to call or text her. Emma figured she needed time to sort out her own feelings, and maybe deal with Robin, so she decided it wasn't time to worry yet.

"What's with you?" David asked as Emma walked in.

"What?"

"You. That smile. I haven't seen you smile like that in a while, Emma," David commented.

"Oh. Nothing. Just having a good day, I guess," Emma replied, with a shrug, as she headed into her office. She checked her phone again, just in case, and when she still found no messaged, she shrugged it off and got to work.

It was about half an hour later that her phone finally chimed. A text from Regina: We need to talk.

Emma bit her lip as she felt a knot growing in her stomach. That wasn't the kind of message she'd been hoping for, and she was suddenly worried that something really was  wrong. She tried to shake it off as nerves, because despite Regina's freak out after the fact, she had been totally into it before, and Emma was sure that meant something.

It had to mean something, right?

She swallowed hard as she typed in her response: Ok. When and where?

My office. Now, if you can.

omw

Emma informed David she was off to a meeting with the Mayor - which happened frequently enough that David didn't question it - and headed out to her Bug to drive to Regina's office. She felt her nervousness building up on the entire drive over, as something about their text exchanged had been unsettling to her. 

She hoped her nervousness didn't show on her face as she darted through the hall to Regina's office, and quickly pushed open the door and stepped inside.

"You don't knock?" Regina asked, not bothering to look up from her papers on her desk.

"Well, I thought we were a little past that now," Emma said, timidly. She had never knocked before, why should she start now? And, for that matter, Regina never knocked, so Emma was confused as to why the sudden need for formalities.

"Shut the door."

Emma nodded once and did as she was told, before taking a couple steps closer to Regina's desk. To her relief, Regina finally looked up from her paperwork, and Emma's heart skipped a beat when she looked into those deep brown eyes again - the same eyes she swore looked right into her soul the night before, right before that magical thing happened. The thing Regina said was nothing. Emma wondered if perhaps that was what she wanted to talk about.

"So… um… you want to talk?" Emma asked, suddenly completely clueless as to what to do with her hands. She fidgeted awkwardly before finally shoving them into the pockets of her red leather jacket, where they would no longer be a troubling distraction.

Regina seemed to notice the fidgeting, and frowned. "Yes. About last night."

"Regina, last night was-"

"A mistake," Regina finished, holing up her hand to stop her before Emma could start gushing about how it was the best night of her life and everything she'd ever wanted and all she'd been waiting for.

"A mistake?"

"Yes. We both had too much to drink and obviously neither of us were thinking clearly. I cheated on Robin and you cheated on Hook and we can't take that back, but it's not going to happen again. And no one needs to know that it did."

"Regina! I broke up with Hook for you!" Emma said, sounding more desperate than she had intended.

Regina raised an eyebrow, but looked unfazed. "Well, I certainly didn't ask you to. And I'm sure he'll take you back."

"I don't want him back. And after last night, it didn't really seem like you wanted Robin anymore, either," Emma pointed out.

"Like I said, I drank too much. I said a lot of things last night that I didn't mean. Robin is still my soul mate," Regina said, flatly.

"You don't believe that," Emma insisted.

"Yes, I do. Last night, we may have crossed a line that shouldn't have been crossed , but it doesn't change anything. I'm sorry, Emma, if your feelings are hurt, but there is nothing more than friendship between us, and I think you know that as well as I do."

Emma felt her bottom lip start to quiver, and she sniffed back the tears threatening to fall, determined not to cry in front of Regina. "You're not sorry, you're just scared."

"Really? Of what?"

"Of being with me. Of real happiness. Of... of whatever happened last night. That… that… thing that happened. It was magic, and you know it. And I think you know what it was, and whatever it was, it scared you," Emma said, her voice trembling with hurt and frustration.

"I have no idea what that was. Probably just a mix of our magic pouring out from the intensity of… what we were doing. It's not significant, Emma, so please let it go."

"Fine. Whatever," Emma said, shaking her head.

"And I'll remind you again that I expect your discretion about all of this. There's no reason to spread it around and let Henry hear idle gossip about his mothers."

"No, you're just worried about Robin finding out," Emma shot back. "Don't worry, your secret's safe with me. What's one more affair in your relationship, anyway?"

"Get out," said Regina, her eyes growing dark.

And Emma didn't need to be told twice. She was on the verge of tears anyway, and had the sudden need to get away from Regina as quickly as she possibly could. She stepped out into the hallway and slammed the door behind her, trying to catch her breath and her heart started racing.

She looked in either direction - the hallway was mostly empty, so she took she shortest route to the bathroom and locked the door before letting her tears finally fall, in gasping sobs, as she sank down the wall into a heap on the floor.

How in the hell could this be happening? She conceded that maybe she got a little ahead of herself, but after last night, she never expected Regina to react this badly. Sure, she had freaked out after the fact, but she had also spent most of the evening telling Emma how she hated feeling like Robin's second choice all the time and how she thought she deserved better than that.

Wasn't Emma better than that?

As Emma's tears began to subside, her anguish was replaced by another unpleasant feeling: nausea.

She guessed it was the unexpected confrontation and the emotional outburst making her feel sick, but whatever it was, she was grateful she was in the bathroom right now, as moments later she was emptying the contents of her stomach into the toilet.

"Fucking wonderful," Emma muttered to herself as she got up to clean herself up in the sink. She wished Regina had bothered to teach her some sort of glamour spell to take away the redness in her eyes or the puffiness in her cheeks, as the evidence of crying and throwing up was written all over her face.

Emma sighed, as she splashed cold water on her face. She supposed, if anyone asked, she could play it off as food poisoning. With her eating habits, she was sure that no one would question that. That was the smaller problem solved, at least. But she still had the larger catastrophe to deal with.

Emma grabbed her phone and quickly shot David a text telling him she would be away the rest of the day, lying about an assignment from Regina, before heading back to her car and driving home. Again, she was grateful that she now lived alone, so she didn't have to face any sort of lines of questioning when she came in looking like a distraught mess.

She went inside and slumped down on her couch, replying the entire conversation in Regina's office over in her head. How could she have been so stupid? Of course Regina wouldn't want her more than one night. Who ever wanted her? Only two people ever had: Neal, a grown man who went after a teenager or Hook, the pirate who pursued her like it was some sort of game, and only wanted her because she resisted.

No. No decent person wanted Emma, not long term. No one had and no one would. Not Regina. Not anyone.

Emma pulled her knees up to her chest and hugged them tight, burying her face as the tears started up again. Not only did Regina not want her, she was sure Regina probably didn't even want to be her friend anymore. She'd said there was nothing but friendship between them, but been so cold just now, completely dismissive of Emma's feelings, and Emma couldn't help but think that was very telling of her true feelings. Everything they'd worked for, how far they'd come, had all just been lost.

"Fuck," Emma whispered to herself. "What the fuck am I going to do about this?"

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Chapter Text

It was the sound of her phone chiming again that drew Emma out of her tears and made her raise her head. It was a text, and once she pulled her phone from her pocket, she was surprised to see it was from Lily, of all people. They hadn't spent much time together lately, as Lily had been spending a lot of her own free time with Maleficent, but hearing from her former best friend was a welcome distraction at the moment.

Hey, girl, u busy?

In spite of everything, Emma grinned at the informality. There was a time she thought she'd never see Lily again - in fact, she'd hoped she wouldn't - but now she was relieved to have someone there to take her mind off things.

No. But if you happen to see my dad, then yes.

I wasn't planning on seeing your dad… but speaking of dads….

You found something about your dad?

No. Literally nothing at all. So maybe wanna come help me out? This is super frustrating, so I could use the company tbh

Yeah me too. Where r u?

Twenty minutes later, Emma had herself cleaned up as best she could and she was on her way to meet Lily at the library.

"So… you think the answer is gonna be here?" Emma asked, unconvinced, as she glanced around the library's shelves. 

"No." Lily sighed, looking up from the open book on the table she was seated at. "It's just quiet here, and private. I have all my mom's old journals and stuff. I'm looking for clues, or whatever."

Emma nodded and joined Lily at the table. "So… she doesn't know who your father is, but you think the answer will be in one of her journals?"

Lily shrugged. "Probably not, but I have to start somewhere, right? And what the hell is wrong with you? You look like shit… no offense."

Emma swallowed hard. "Oh. I, uh, I broke up with Hook."

"Oh, sorry Emma," Lily said, offering a small smile. "But don't be sad. He was a major douche canoe anyway. You can do better."

"Can I?" Emma asked, raising an eyebrow. Sure, she agreed with Lily's assessment of Hook, but could she really do better? Her track record seemed to say no.

"Yes. But let's not talk about that now. Here, help me," Lily insisted, handing a journal to Emma.

Emma sighed and opened the journal. She wanted to help Lily, and she'd promised she would, but her heart just wasn't in it. She forced herself to push her own problems from her mind, to help her friend, as she started skimming the first page.

"Why does scouring your mother's journals for information about your father seem dangerously close to a scene from Mamma Mia! to me?" Emma muttered, glancing up at Lily.

"Well, it's kind of where I got the idea," Lily admitted. "Wanna sing some ABBA with me?"

Emma smirked and shook her head, turning back to the book in front of her. At least Lily hadn't changed in one regard: she was good at making Emma forget about her problems, at least for a little while.

Shit, she thought to herself, as she realized this particular journal entry was about the first time Maleficent had met Regina. Fucking figures.

Emma furrowed her brow as she got further into the journal, quickly realizing that this 'friendship' between Regina and Mal had been a whole lot more than that. She'd chosen not to comment the night before, but she had been sure that hadn't been Regina's first time with a woman, and she was also now sure if she got much further in this journal, she would be reading about that, too.

"Lily… does your mother know you have these journals?" Emma asked, suddenly aware that no mother would want her daughter reading any of this.

"Yeah, of course," Lily said, with a shrug.

"Lily…."

"Okay, no, but I didn't know what else to do."

"Oh my God. Okay. I can't read anymore of this. It's not fair to your mother or… anyone else."

"Who? Emma, who? Who's in there?" Lily asked, attempting to grab the book from Emma's hands.

"No," Emma said, closing the journal and holding it out of Lily's reach.

"Come on, Emma! Whoever it is, that could be father!"

"Trust me, it's not."

"Yeah? How can you be so sure?"

"Because… it's not a man," Emma admitted, with a sheepish grin.

"Wow. Go Mom," Lily replied, with a laugh.

"Hey, maybe we should break for lunch," Emma suggested. She hadn't been hungry when she'd left her house, but now she suddenly felt famished. She hoped that was a good sign at least, and maybe whatever had caused the sudden onset of nausea had passed.

"Yeah, okay, we can go to Granny's," Lily agreed.

The two women packed up Maleficent's journals and headed off to the diner in Emma's car.

When they arrived, Granny's was thankfully nearly empty, and Emma was relieved. She didn't particularly want anyone reporting back to David that she was playing hooky from work. Not that he was her superior in any way, but there would still be questions that she wasn't in the mood for answering just now. She supposed that feigning heartbreak over Hook would work again when the time came, but she just didn't feel like getting into it at all with either of her well-meaning but overly prying parents.

When Ruby came to their table, Emma ordered grilled cheese and onion rings, figuring that her favourite comfort foods were more than called for today. Regina was always nitpicking on her to eat healthier, but Regina be damned, Emma was sad, and only cheese and deep fried goodness would suffice.

"Oh, and hey, Ruby," Emma said, suddenly remembering something else she wanted, before the waitress walked away. "Do you guys have, like, pickles, that I could get, maybe on a plate on the side?"

"Pickles?" Ruby asked, raising an eyebrow.

"Yeah. Dill pickles. Lots. On a plate," Emma said, nodding emphatically.

"What the hell, Swan?" Lily asked, as Ruby walked away. "Are you pregnant or something?"

Emma felt her heart drop to her stomach. "What? No!"

"You sure? I've literally never seen you eat a pickle, let alone a plate of pickles. It's weird."

"I'm not. It's not like you eat with me all the time. I love pickles. And, I mean, Hook and I haven't even slept together in over two months. I'd know by now. Trust me," Emma insisted. "I know what two months pregnant feels like."

"Right. Okay," Lily nodded. "Weirdo."

Emma quickly changed the subject and got Lily talking more about life after they had separated as teenagers, to pass the time until their food arrived. By the time it did, Emma was practically starving as she dug into her meal.

Unfortunately, one plate of pickles and half a grilled cheese later, and Emma was feeling nauseated again.

"Shit," Emma said, cringing, as she got up and darted to the bathroom, Lily close behind. She had barely even made it through the door before she fell to her knees and began emptying the contents of her stomach for the second time that day.

"Oh, Emma," Lily sighed, as she crouched down behind her to hold back her hair.

"I'm fine," Emma insisted, once she was done, as she took the paper towel Lily offered her to clean her face. "Seriously, it's just a bug. It hit me this morning and I thought I was over it and apparently I'm not."

"Just a bug?" Lily repeated, raising a skeptical eyebrow.

"Yes! Seriously. Just a bug. I think I should go home now, though. You need a ride?" Emma asked.

"Dude, I live in Granny's Inn, remember?" Lily said with a laugh.

"Right. Sorry. Forgot. I just need to go lie down."

"Okay," Lily agreed, helping Emma to her feet. "But text me when you get home, okay?"

"Yeah, totally. I just gotta make one quick stop first, then straight home, I swear. If you don't hear from me in fifteen minutes, feel free to alert the authorities," Emma said, offering a feeble smile in an attempt to prove she was really okay.

"You are the authorities," Lily reminded her, as Emma headed out the bathroom door. She quickly dropped money for both Lily's and her own meal on the table. She headed straight out to her Bug to make her one stop on the way home: the pharmacy, where she stood there, worrying her bottom lip as she studied the array of pregnancy tests on the wall.

And ten minutes later, after a quick text to Lily, she was in her bathroom, peeing on a stick, feeling every bit as scared and alone as she had the first time she'd done that, at seventeen.

It seemed to take forever for the waiting time to pass, but when the alarm on her phone chimed, Emma took a deep breath and picked up the test to look at the result. There it was, as clear as day: NOT PREGNANT. Emma breathed a huge sigh of relief. She was not pregnant. She wasn't pregnant with Hook's child, and she never would be. At least there was a silver lining in her shit storm of a day, after all.

Emma smiled to herself, as she snapped a picture of the pregnancy test and sent it to Lily, along with the accompanying message: Told ya! Thanks for the paranoia tho. And then she headed into her living room to take a nap, hoping that when she woke up again, she would feel better and maybe a little less heartbroken, though she knew the latter would take a whole lot more time to heal than whatever bug she'd contracted.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Chapter Text

It had been three weeks since Emma had received the indication of 'not pregnant' on her at-home pregnancy test, and in those three weeks she'd only managed to become sicker. She could barely keep any food down, and she'd begun avoiding people as often as she could to circumvent the constant line of questions regarding her health.

She didn't know what the hell was wrong with her, so what was she supposed to tell anyone else?

But now, however, she was sitting in the waiting room at Dr. Whale's office, awaiting the results of a blood test, since she'd no longer been able to make excuses to Lily as to why she didn't need to seek medical attention. If it wasn't pregnancy, then Lily was worried that it might be something serious and she'd urged her friend to see a doctor about it.

Emma had a sinking feeling, however, that somehow it was pregnancy, and her fears were only confirmed when Dr. Whale walked into the room with a big smile.

"Congratulations," he said, grinning at the paperwork in his hands.

"Congratulations on the stomach flu?" Emma asked, hopefully, though her stomach was already in knots, and not from nausea this time.

"No," Whale replied, his smiling fading as he realized that he was about to deliver Emma news that she clearly didn't want to hear. "Congratulations, you're going to be a mother. Again."

Emma sighed and closed her eyes. She should have known the at-home test would be a false negative. Chances are, all those test kits had been sitting on that pharmacy shelf since 1983. And, like she'd told Lily, she knew what pregnancy felt like, and this was it… time a thousand.

"So, I'm what? Like, three months along?" Emma asked, trying to work out how many weeks it had been since she'd last slept with Hook. She was bigger with Henry by this point, but she also hadn't been nearly as sick, and she supposed that must be a factor.

"More like three weeks," Whale corrected, looking down at the test results again. "If I were to pinpoint a date of conception, I'd guess you had a very happy Thanksgiving."

Emma blanched. "What? No, that's not possible."

"You didn't have sex on or around Thanksgiving?" Whale asked, to clarify.

"Well, I guess, technically yes, but-"

"But nothing. That technical yes left you knocked up, Sheriff," Whale concluded, with a dismissive shrug. 

Emma continued to shake her head in disbelief, even as Whale led her out of the examination room, talking about ultrasound dates and other pre-natal information that was just going in one ear and out the other.

Emma couldn't process anything Whale was saying at the moment. All she could think about was that flash of magic that night with Regina and how suddenly it all made sense, and she couldn't shake the feeling that Regina had known exactly what that magic was, and had opted to end everything abruptly anyway, and since avoided Emma completely for three whole weeks.

But Regina wouldn't abandon her own child, would she?

Emma guessed that perhaps she might, if she didn't want that child to be the product of a union she so clearly regretted. Perhaps she didn't want any child unless it was Robin's, as she seemed to be making quite the happy little family unit with Robin and Roland and the baby, while Henry opted to spend more and more time with his grandparents or at Emma's house.

Regina's thoughts on the subject didn't matter right now, Emma reasoned. It wasn't like she was about to run over and share the happy news with her. She was supposed to be meeting Lily at her room at the inn, so she decided to let herself get distracted in the search for Lily's father, and worry about her own problems down the line.

Emma sighed as she climbed into the bug and tossed the envelope of papers Whale's nurse had given her in the backseat. She wasn't in the mood to read about any of that right now. She just wanted to pretend none of this was happening, because she had no idea how she was supposed to wrap her head around the possibility of herself and Regina somehow creating a baby through magic.

The more she thought about it, the more ridiculous it sounded.

Whale was wrong, Emma reasoned with herself as she drove. He had screwed up the numbers somewhere and she was three months pregnant, not three weeks. After all, he wasn't even a real doctor, so who was to say he wouldn't make a mistake?

The idea of being pregnant Hook's child wasn't any more appealing, but at least it was actually possible. And at least it meant she didn't have to go through the awkwardness of telling the woman who had outright rejected her that they were about to be linked by yet another child.

She and Hook had barely spoken either, but Emma was well-aware that he had no interest in becoming a father, so she was sure that he wouldn't try to weasel his way back into her life. Chances were, she figured, that he would suddenly forget he ever knew her and she would be able to raise the baby alone.

It was for the best.

Emma drew in a deep breath as she pulled up to the inn and got out of the car. She headed down to Lily's room, finding the door already cracked open for her.

"Hey," Emma said, as she stepped inside, drawing Lily's attention away from the journal she was currently scouring. She had finally confessed to her mother she'd taken them, and to Emma's surprise, Mal agreed that if they didn't judge her on anything they read there, she had no issue with them reading her journals. Emma had noted, however, that the journal about Regina had mysteriously disappeared from the collection, and she wasn't sure if Mal did that out of respect to her friend's privacy, or if there was something in there she really didn't want them finding out.

"Hey!" Lily said, closing the journal and looking at Emma expectantly. "How'd it go?"

Emma shrugged and stepped over to take a seat next to Lily on the bed. "Well, apparently congratulations are in order, according to Whale."

"No shit. You're pregnant. I fucking knew it. I called it."

"I am aware."

"Did you tell Hook yet?" 

Emma shook her head. "No. Not sure if I'm going to," she confessed. She opted against telling Lily what Whale had said about the date of conception. No one - not even Lily - knew about her night with Regina, and Emma was quite sure it was a non-issue. The date was wrong. She was convinced.

"Emma," Lily sighed. "You can't let your baby grow up not knowing who its father is. You and I both know how much that sucks."

"Yeah, but it will be different. This kid's not going to be an orphan. It will know me, right?"

"Yeah, and what are you gonna tell Hook when he sees that belly growing? He's gonna put two and two together, you know."

Emma breathed a heavy sigh. "Yeah. You're right. I'm gonna have to tell him. Just… not yet. I'm not ready to tell anyone else yet. Not even my parents. I just need a few days to process, okay?"

Lily nodded. "Yeah, totally. I won't tell anyone, don't worry. I got your back, Emma."

"Thanks. How goes the search?" Emma asked, desperate to change the subject.

Lily shrugged. "Not really going anywhere, honestly. I tried questioning my mom again, but she keeps telling me it happened in dragon form, and she's pretty insistent that her memories from any time she's a dragon are fairly hazy. Speaking of, she said she barely remembers you slaying her, by the way."

Emma raised an eyebrow. "Really? Good to know."

"Yeah. And I know she's telling the truth because I don't really remember what happened when I was a dragon. It's weird, you know? Like you become more animal than human… all instinct and not so much conscious thought. The problem with these journals is they are all about when she's not a dragon. I got her to read some, because it triggers some dormant memories for her. Nothing useful, yet."

"Well, if the answer is in here, or out there, anywhere, we'll find it," Emma insisted, putting on a forced smile.

"Hey, Em, if it's too much for you, I can do it on my own. I pieced everything else together on my own."

"I know. I saw your place, remember? But I kind of need the distraction right now. I don't want to sit here and wallow in my own problems. I'll just drive myself crazy. Gotta keep busy."

"Right," Lily agreed. "But you gotta take care of yourself, too, because you still look like crap."

Emma nodded. "Whale mentioned something about a prescription for Diclectin. He said it will help my morning sickness. It's probably in the mess of papers he left me with. I'll get it filled when I leave here."

"You better. I'm gonna hold you to it, because Auntie Lily wants a healthy baby."

Emma rolled her eyes. "Please, I feel nauseous enough already!"

Lily just shook her head as the two got down to work on scouring through more tales of Maleficent's sordid past, until Emma finally left to get her prescription filled.

Once she was home, she flopped onto her couch and studied the bottle of pills in her hand before finally popping one in her mouth, hoping that at least this might work and take at least one stress off of her, for the time being.

"Hey, mom, what's up?" Henry asked, coming down the stairs and eyeing his mother suspiciously.

Emma quickly crammed the pill bottle between the cushions on the couch. "Nothing, just got home. I didn't know you were here."

Henry shrugged. "I thought maybe I'd spend the night here, if that's okay?"

Emma nodded as she motioned for Henry to come sit with her. "It's always okay, you know that, but I thought you were spending this weekend at your mom's?"

Henry shrugged again.

"Kid. What's going on?"

Henry let out a sigh before finally meeting Emma's eyes. "I don't know… it's probably all in my head, but I'm starting to feel like a third wheel. Or, I guess, a fifth wheel. I know I'm older and Roland and Ryleigh need more attention than I do, but it's starting to get to me…"

"Ryleigh?" Emma repeated.

"Oh, yeah. They finally decided on a name for the baby. I guess they wanted to stick with the 'R' theme."

Emma nodded, knowingly. "Henry, you know your name is more significant to your mother than any 'R' themed name in existence," she pointed out.

"Yeah, I know. It's just… right now, I feel alone there. And you're alone here. And we both don't have to be alone, you know?"

Emma smiled. "I know. You can stay here as long as you want. And everything with the baby will settle down once everyone gets adjusted. You'll see."

"I know it will. I'm just grateful that here, it's still just me and you."

Emma felt that all-too-familiar knot twisting up in her stomach again at Henry's words. How the hell was she ever supposed to tell him it wouldn't be just him and her much longer?

The more she thought about it, the more the sheer panic of the situation started to set in. She remembered just how jealous she'd been of her parents' attention to Neal when she was born, and she'd been an adult. How was Henry supposed to handle the mother who gave him up keeping and raising a second child?

This whole thing was a mess, and Emma wasn't sure how she was supposed to fix any of it, all she knew was she was the one suffering, and Regina seemed to be getting off scot-free, and it wasn't fair.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Chapter Text

"Mom!" Henry called from the living room, while Emma was in the kitchen making dinner for the two of them. She still felt nauseous, and she hoped the pills Dr. Whale had prescribed her would at least start to work before she sat down to eat with Henry.

"What, kid?" Emma called back, as she stirred the spaghetti sauce on the stove. Cooking had never been her strongest skill, but now that she had a home of her own, and Henry to feed without her mother's help, she'd taken some time to learn some basics. At one point, she'd even thought about asking Regina for some lessons, but had never actually gotten around to it.   

"What are these?" Henry called back.

Emma rolled her eyes. "What are what? I can't see you."

"These," Henry said, moments later, stepping into the kitchen and holding up an orange pill bottle in his hand. "I found them in the couch."

Emma felt her heart skip a beat as she stepped over and grabbed her morning sickness pills from Henry's hand. "Just, uh, some painkillers Dr. Whale prescribed me a while ago. For headaches. I was wondering where they went."

Henry eyed his mother suspiciously for a moment, and Emma wondered if perhaps he knew what the pills were actually for. She shook the thought from her head in an instant. There was no way Henry would have ever heard of Diclectin.

"Are you okay?" Henry asked.

"Yeah, kid. I just get these bad headaches from time to time. Not a lot. Hardly ever, really. Probably why I misplaced the pills, because I barely ever need them," Emma insisted. She hated lying to Henry, but she knew she couldn't drop this bomb on him right now, especially not since he was here to escape another baby who'd already taken over his life.

Henry nodded, though he didn't look convinced, but allowed his mother to continue what she was doing until dinner was ready.

Emma put on a brave face and forced herself to sit down and eat dinner with her son, even though she felt so awful she wished she could just curl up in bed and hide from the world. But she couldn't. not this time. This wasn't like when she was pregnant with Henry and no one knew who she was or cared about her, and she could just lie alone  in her bunk at the prison all day while everyone went about their lives.

She knew Lily was right. There would be no hiding this, not in a few months at least when the evidence would show itself. She knew she'd have to tell Henry and her parents before then, but she was sure she could wait just a little bit longer.

And she'd have to tell Hook.

Or Regina.

As much as she tried to convince herself that Whale had screwed up, that nagging voice in the back of her head kept telling her that he hadn't. There had been magic that night, Emma knew it, and somehow she was sure this pregnancy was a result of that.

But how could she tell Regina?

Emma was ripped out of her thoughts by the sound of her phone ringing on the counter behind her, and she jumped up to answer it, silently relieved for the distraction of picking at her food and pretending she didn't feel sick for Henry's benefit.

Well, she was relieved until she saw who was calling.

"Regina," Emma said, somewhat timidly, into the phone. "Hi."

"Where is my son."

It wasn't even a question, and Emma immediately felt her defenses going up. "Our son is sitting at my table, having dinner with me."

"I see," Regina replied, curtly. "So now we just switch weekends without so much as a heads up, I take it?"

Emma sighed and headed out to the other room, where she could talk without Henry overhearing. "I didn't switch anything," Emma insisted. "Henry came here on his own. It wasn't my idea."

"Really. Funny how in the last three weeks he suddenly seems to want to spend all of his time with you," Regina commented.

Emma could feel herself fuming as she stepped out the back door and slammed it behind her. "What are you insinuating, Regina? That I'm using him to get back at you because you won't talk to me?"

"That's exactly what I'm insinuating."

"Unbelievable," Emma said, unsure of whether to laugh at how ridiculous this whole situation was, or cry because of how horrendously real it was. "You honestly think I would use my son to hurt you?"

"Our son," Regina corrected.

"Well maybe you should take a moment to think about how our son feels playing house with you and Robin and his kids, Regina. It's not my fault he doesn't want to be there. You don't think about the people you hurt."

"Are you talking about Henry, or yourself, dear?"

Emma pursed her lips and refused to answer, as she felt hot tears burning in the corners of her eyes.

"That's what I thought," Regina said, with a sigh, when she realized Emma had no intention of answering the question. "Be indignant with me all you want, Emma, but that night was still a regrettable mistake. It shouldn't have happened, and when you come to terms with that and stop isolating yourself, or sulking around town when you do go out, perhaps we can talk again."

"You have no idea what you're talking about," Emma said, quietly. "I'm not sulking over you. Not everything is about you. I've been sick."

"Of course you have. Please send Henry home tonight when he's finished dinner. It's my weekend."

"He's thirteen, Regina. He can decide for himself where he wants to spend the night."

Emma didn't give Regina a chance to respond as she quickly ended the call, and swallowed back the nausea that was rising again.

"Stupid Whale, stupid useless pills," she muttered to herself, as she turned, and jumped in surprise when she found Henry standing in the doorway, watching her.

"Kid," Emma sighed, shaking her head. "I came outside and shut the door for a reason."

"Because you didn't want me to hear you fighting with my mom," Henry acknowledged.

Emma gave him a small smile and nodded. "Yeah. I'm sorry, Henry."

"It's not your fault," Henry said, with a shrug. "My mom's been really on edge lately. I guess she must be stressed out or something. It's been ever since…"

"Thanksgiving?" Emma suggested.

Henry nodded. "Yeah, around then. All this stuff with Robin and the baby is hard on her, I guess. Maybe I should go back home."

It stung a little how Henry still referred to Regina's house as 'home'. He'd never referred to Emma's house that way, that she knew of, though she didn't want to push it either.

So she just nodded, and walked him to the door, trying her damnedest not to let the pain show on her face that her son was going home to his other mother - who was having a hard time - while Emma herself was left alone, again.

Emma watched as Henry walked down the road, before shutting her door and grabbing her phone from her pocket, quickly dialing Lily's number.

"Em, what's up?"

"Are you busy?"

"No, just looking at some stuff with my mom."

"Can I come over?"

"Of course, Emma. Always."

Emma sniffed back her tears as she hung up and grabbed her keys, heading out to her Bug to make her second trip of the day to Lily's room at the inn. Truthfully, she wanted nothing more than a few drinks to drown her sorrows, but since that wasn't an option, some time with her old best friend who was quickly becoming her new best friend, all over again, was just as good.

"God, Emma, you look terrible," Lily remarked, as she opened the door to let her in.

"Yeah. Those pills aren't really working," Emma said with a shrug, looking past Lily to where Maleficent sat across the room, looking at her with surprised concern. "Hi Mal."

"Are you alright, dear?" Mal asked, standing to approach Emma. Mal was still essentially a stranger to her, but that little bit of concern was all she could take as the floodgates opened and she couldn't hold back the tears any longer.

"Oh, Emma, come inside," Lily said, putting her arm around Emma's shaking shoulders and leading her over to the bed to sit down, before wrapping her arms around her, tightly. For a few minutes, Emma let herself forget that Mal was in the room and likely watching her closely as she clutched onto Lily and cried herself out on her shoulder. Despite the fact that Mal was completely clueless to what was happening, and Lily only knew part of the story, for a few minutes she didn't feel so utterly alone.

When she finally finished, Mal handed her a glass of water, but it still took several minutes for Emma to really calm down and catch her breath. Finally she sighed, and turned to Lily. "I'm sorry. I'm just… I'm a mess. I'll go home."

"You are not going anywhere," Mal cut in, taking Emma by surprise. "I might not know much about this world, but I know enough to know you're in no condition to drive, or to be left alone."

"She's right," Lily nodded. "You can stay the night here."

Emma nodded, not really in the mood to argue. She didn't particularly want to go home alone tonight, anyway.

"Can I borrow your shower?"

Lily smiled and nodded. "Yeah. Here, let me get some comfier clothes for you," she said, before grabbing some yoga pants and a light hoodie for Emma to change into.

Emma took the clothes and headed into the small bathroom in Lily's room, wondering if perhaps it would be too forward to ask Lily to come stay at her house for a while instead. She certainly had the space and would like the company, and she was sure Lily must be going stir crazy living in the inn.

Emma closed her eyes and let the warm water cascade over her, breathing deep and trying to relax her mind. Crying had helped, a little, even if her head was now pounding.

When she was done, Emma quickly threw on the clothes that Lily had given her and towel dried her hair the best she could before heading back out into the room.

"Better?" Lily asked, giving her friend a hopeful smile.

Emma shrugged. "Tired."

"You should go to bed," Lily said, nodding toward the bed on the other side of the room. "My mom and I are just gonna chat a little outside, so we won't keep you up."

Emma nodded and headed over to crawl into Lily's bed. It had been some time since she'd actually shared a bed with anyone, as she didn't tend to let Hook stay over, and Regina had kicked her out pretty quickly on Thanksgiving, but she and Lily had shared a bed before, as teenagers, so Emma was sure it wouldn't be weird tonight.

She closed her eyes and within seconds, she was asleep.


Emma blinked her eyes open, adjusting to the unfamiliar room she was in. It took a few moments to register she was still in Lily's bed, and she glanced over at the digital clock on the nightstand. It was just after midnight, and she had already sleep for a few hours. She rolled over and smiled when she saw Lily laying next to her, peaceful in her sleep.

Emma's own peacefulness didn't last long, however, as she suddenly felt the urge to be sick, once again. She slipped as quietly as she could towards the bathroom, making it just in time. When she was done, she laid back against the wall, wiping the tears from her eyes.

"How long is this shit gonna last," she mumbled to herself as she stood up to get a cloth to wipe her face.

"Typical pregnancy, or your pregnancy?"

Emma jumped and spun around, surprised to see Mal standing behind her.

"I didn't know you were still here," Emma said, quietly.

"I wasn't. I forgot something and I just came back. Come on. We need to talk."

Emma frowned in confusion, but followed Mal out to the outside patio where she and Lily had talked while Emma slept earlier.

"So Lily told you?" Emma asked, feeling slightly disappointed as she sat down next to Mal. She hadn't even told her own parents yet, she had really been hoping Lily would keep this to herself.

"No," Mal said, shaking her head. "She didn't have to."

"It's that obvious?"

Mal shook her head again. "No, it wouldn't be, to most people. But magical babies tend to have their own unique… vibe."

Emma blanched at Mal's words. "Magical babies?" She repeated, in a whisper.

Mal raised an eyebrow. "You didn't know?"

Emma sighed. "Well, I just thought… Whale must have gotten the date wrong. Because… magical babies?"

Mal let out a short laugh. "Come on, now. How long have you been living in a world of magic? You possess magic. Is this really so strange?"

"Yes!" Emma insisted. "Trust me, it really is."

"Does Regina know?"

Emma cringed. "Does the baby send off a Regina vibe, too?"

Mal nodded. "Magical signatures are unique. Once you're more adept, you'll be able to read them yourself. I'm guessing, given how sick you are, you haven't told her."

Emma shook her head in confusion. "What… what does my morning sickness have to do with anything?"

"It's not morning sickness, dear," Mal replied, as she reached out and grabbed Emma's hand, squeezing it tight.

Emma breathed a sigh of relief as she felt a wave of Mal's magic flow through her, and the nausea seemed to subside, almost instantly.

"How did you do that?" She asked, unconsciously holding onto Mal's hand tighter, lest the other woman let go and take this relief away.

"You're not sick. The baby is draining you. It's not made out solely from your flesh and blood like a regular baby. It's made from your magic, and it needs magic to grow. It's leeching your magic from you, and making you feel ill. I would imagine you felt sick within a day of conception, didn't you?"

Emma nodded, remembering how she'd thrown up the very next day.

"that tends to be how it goes. Magical pregnancy is nothing like normal pregnancy. It will drain you, and you'll need someone to give you a little extra… magical boost. You'll need it on a regular basis until the baby is born."

"Can you?" Emma asked, her eyes pleading with Mal.

"Well… it really should be Regina. Her magic is the most compatible, for obvious reasons."

Emma swallowed hard. Regina was barely speaking to her and still quite insistent their night together had been a mistake. How could she tell her she was not only pregnant, but needed her magic to carry the baby?

"Well… Regina and I are not compatible, according to her. Would it hurt the baby if I got it from someone else?"

Mal shook her head. "No. The baby will be fine, but you would feel immensely better if it came from her. I can help, but it's not ideal."

"Nothing about this situation is ideal," Emma said, with a sigh. "But I can't tell her. I just… I can't. Not right now. No one else even knows but Lily. I…"

"I won't tell her," Mal said, nodding her understanding. "I know how hard this is."

"Because of Lily," Emma nodded, closing her eyes as the realization hit her.

"What do you mean?"

"Because… Lily… Mal, I read a little bit of your journal, about Regina. I mean, Lily looks just like-"

Mal cut Emma off with a sharp laugh. "Oh, honey, no. Regina isn't Lily's other parent."

"But how can you be sure? She said you don't remember when you're a dragon."

"Emma, what exactly do you think Regina and I got into? I mean, I'm all for kink, but we never did anything while I was in dragon form. The logistics of that are, well, impossible and the timing wasn't right. And, trust me, if it were Regina, I would know."

"Right, magical signature," Emma nodded.

Mal gave a small smile, and shook her head. "Right."

Emma sighed as she leaned back in her chair, still clutching Mal's hand and feeling the other woman's magic flowing through her. Oddly enough, in this mess of a situation, she was relieved that Lily was not Regina's daughter. She wasn't sure exactly when she would spring this on the other woman, but she took some solace in knowing this was the only new child coming into Regina's life.

But would Regina even want it?

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Chapter Text

 

Chapter Six


"Henry?" Regina called, as she stepped up to the half open door to Henry's bedroom, pushing it open as she approached. She narrowed her eyes on her son as he quickly slammed the lid of his laptop shut and looked up at her in surprise. "What are you doing?"

"Uh, nothing," Henry said, pushing his laptop away from him and sitting up on his bed. "Just some research for a project for school."

"Okay," Regina said, still a little suspicious as she came over to sit down on Henry's bed. This wasn't the time to pry, however, since she'd come to talk to him for a reason.

"What's up?" Henry asked.

Regina sighed. "Henry. I'm sorry if I made you feel like you had to choose between Emma and myself tonight. That wasn't fair."

Henry shrugged. "It's okay. I know nothing's really easy right now for you."

"Or for you," Regina acknowledged.

Henry shrugged again. "I'm alright. I just needed to get away from the kids for a little while. Sometimes they're, um…"

"Overwhelming?" Regina suggested.

Henry nodded.

"And it's calm and quiet at Emma's house," Regina went on, as Henry continued to nod his agreement. "Just you and her, like it used to be just you and me."

"It's gonna be an adjustment, I get that," Henry acknowledged. "But it's really not just about that. She's all alone there now. I think she just needs me around sometimes."

"How is Emma?" Regina asked, tentatively. "She told me she'd been ill."

"Yeah, she was. She seemed better tonight. She actually ate with me, and she hasn't been eating. Everything makes her throw up."

Regina swallowed as she felt a knot forming in her stomach. Perhaps she'd been too rash in assuming that Emma's behaviour lately had been all about the night she shared together and the way Regina had abruptly ended it. Emma had seemed extremely upset at the time, but Regina wondered if maybe it hadn't affected her as much as she had thought it did?

"Did something happen between you and my mom?" Henry asked, after Regina had fallen silent.

"What do you mean?"

"I mean… you two seemed to be getting along great at Granny's at Thanksgiving, but you've barely spoken since then. Did you two get in a fight or something?"

Regina shook her head, knowing there was no way she was getting into any of this with her son. "No, Henry. I've just been busy with Roland and Ryleigh. They don't leave me a lot of free time. And Emma's been sick."

"Good," Henry said, with a small smile. "Because I think she's still going through a tough time with her break up from Hook, and I don't think it's gonna get easier any time soon, with Christmas coming up and everything. She'll probably need a friend."

Regina stiffened at the notion, already convinced that any chance of salvaging whatever friendship they'd been developing had been snuffed out now. Maybe if Emma hadn't been so hasty to break up with Hook over a one night stand, things might have been different, but she couldn't risk letting Emma get in the way of the life she was building with Robin. It was just too risky. She and Emma would never work, Regina was sure of that if nothing else. And when it all blew up, no one would gain and everyone would be hurt.

But still, she supposed, Henry had a point. Emma was alone now, and Regina really didn't want to see her suffering, even if she thought the pirate wasn't worth another moment of Emma's time. As much as she'd like to have her son with her, Emma probably needed him more right now.

"Maybe you should go back there tomorrow and spend the weekend with her," Regina suggested, trying to find a middle ground. "Not because I don't want you here, but it sounds like she needs you right now."

"Yeah, I think she does," Henry agreed. 

"Alright. Well, it's well past midnight, it's time for bed," Regina said, and Henry watched as his mother stood up to leave the room.

Once Regina was out of the room, he opened his laptop again, to the Google search results for 'Diclectin'.


"So, if you can read this magical signature, does that mean Regina will know, as soon as she sees me again?" Emma asked, as she leaned back into her chair. The air was brisk, but Mal's magic was still warming her, and as good as she felt right now, she had no desire to go back inside. Especially not with so many more questions.

Mal let out a sigh as she pondered the question. "I don't doubt that she knows magical babies exist, though they certainly weren't the subject of any of her lessons with Rumple. I doubt it would be her first assumption, if she knew of your condition. Either way, she won't be able to pick up her own magic on you, because she's already emitting it at all times herself, just as you emit your own magic at all times."

Emma frowned. She thought she was getting good at this whole magic thing, but she'd never been able to pick up on magic coming from another person. She knew Regina claimed she could sense it, but she'd always thought she'd been exaggerating.

"Speaking of Rumple," Mal continued, thoughtfully. "He'd know in a second."

"Wonderful." Emma sighed, closing her eyes. "So I have to avoid him and Regina."

"You don't have to avoid Regina. Like I said, she won't likely pick up on it."

"Not because of that. Because she hates me."

Mal raised an eyebrow in interest as she turned to look at Emma's face. "Emma... I know Regina can be a little bit… erratic… when it comes to things like this. I'm sure she doesn't hate you."

"She kicked me out of her bed and then called the whole thing a drunken mistake. She's spoken to me once in three weeks, and even that was only because she was pissed that Henry was at my house. She's staying with Robin, and she even told me to get back together with Hook."

"But she doesn't know about the baby," Mal pointed out. "A baby changes everything."

"All that's going to change is we'll trade off two kids on the weekend instead of one," Emma said, with a shrug.

"You still need to tell her."

Emma nodded. "I know. And I will, I swear. I just need more time. She doesn't even want anyone to know about that night at all. This baby is going to screw up her whole life, because then she's going to have to tell Robin she cheated on him. What if he leaves her and she blames me for it? What if she doesn't even want the baby at all because it came from me?"

"There's nothing Regina wants more in this world than a baby of her own," Mal acknowledged. "I know she loves your son with her whole heart, and she thinks she loves Robin, but you are going to give her something that no one else in this world can. She's not going to take that lightly."

"You don't think she loves Robin?" Emma asked, suddenly intrigued to know Regina's self-proclaimed oldest friend's take on that relationship.

Mal shrugged. "It's really not my place to pass judgment there, but I think… well, after Daniel, I think Regina is playing it safe. Her heart was so broken and she thought no one could ever love her. Since she lost Daniel, she's always been afraid to open up to romantic love again, no matter how desperately she's wanted it, but pixie dust says Robin is her soulmate, and you can't make a much safer bet than that."

"So pixie dust can't be wrong, then?" Emma asked, feeling the defeat set in.

"It's not that black and white. It's not that it's wrong, it just doesn't always consider all possibilities. Regina and Robin... they were both very different people then. A lot has changed. Regina has changed."

Emma let out another long sigh, and decided to end her line of questioning. Despite Mal's magical boost, she was still feeling exhausted, and decided the rest could wait until she was feeling better.


The following day, Henry arrived at her house just after noon, and Emma had been sure to head straight home the moment he'd texted her to say he was coming back. She didn't want him to know she'd spent the night at Lily's the night before. The kid was too smart for his own good, and she knew it was only a matter of time until he suspected that something was up.

As soon as Henry came inside, however, she quickly learned she didn't have much time left at all.

"Morning sickness," Henry said, simply.

Emma's heart skipped a beat. "What?"

"Those pills. You said you've had them for a while, but they were dated for yesterday, so I looked them up. They aren't for headaches, they're for morning sickness."

Emma closed her eyes, feeling that anxious lump forming in her throat again. "Henry, please don't be mad. I shouldn't have lied to you."

"So why did you?"

Emma quickly realized Henry looked more hurt than angry, which she guessed shouldn't be surprising. "Because… Henry I just found out yesterday, and it hadn't really, fully sunk in yet. And then you were here talking about your mom, and Robin's baby, and I just didn't want to drop another bombshell on you right away. I was going to tell you, eventually, I just… you were so happy that it was just you and me."

Henry looked at the floor for a moment, processing it all, before meeting Emma's eyes again. "Mom, you're having a baby. This isn't like Robin's daughter. This kid will be my brother or sister. How could I be mad?"

Emma smiled, and breathed a sigh of relief, before stepping up to her son and wrapping him in a tight hug. "Thank you Henry. You didn't tell your mom, did you?" she asked, as she pulled away to look at his face again.

Henry shook his head. "No. I wanted to talk to you first. It doesn't really affect her, so you can tell her whenever," Henry replied, with a shrug, as if it truly didn't matter. "What about Hook? Are you two getting back together now?"

Emma shook her head vehemently. "No. No, of course not. Listen, Henry, he doesn't know, and my parents don't even know yet, so let's keep this between us for now, okay? It's too soon to be telling people. It's bad luck."

"You don't really believe that, do you?"

Emma smiled and shrugged. "Who knows? At least now I know why I've been so sick, and why no one else got food poisoning that night."

"And you'll get better now, right? Morning sickness doesn't last forever?"

"Yeah, kid. I'll get better. I'm actually feeling much better today. I was even thinking maybe you could help me set up the Christmas tree?" Emma suggested.

"Yeah, of course," Henry said, with a grin. "And hey, mom… don't worry about anything, alright? My mom did the whole single mom thing for ten years and I turned out great. Even if Hook doesn't want to be around, you still have me, and Gramps and Grandma, and my mom will probably help you out, too."

Emma forced a smile as she nodded. She wished she could just tell Henry the entire truth right then and there, but she knew she couldn't drop that bomb right now. That would have to wait until Regina knew, and Emma was quickly realizing she couldn't really put off that conversation much longer.

"Hey, kid," Emma said, once they'd dragged the boxes of Christmas decorations from the hall closet - not that there was much to grab as Emma hadn't really had time to acquire many decorations of her own since moving to Storybrooke. "Do you know if your mom's planning on going to the potluck at Granny's Christmas Eve?"

Henry nodded. "Yeah, as far as I know. She said something about making lasagna."

Emma smiled. "Okay, good."

Christmas Eve was less than a week away, and Emma reasoned that might just be the best time to tell Regina, as she would be in good spirits for the holiday.

And maybe Mal was right. Maybe Emma was going to give her something that no one else ever could. She'd already given her Henry, and now she could give her a child that was biologically hers, as well.

Maybe she was getting herself worked up over nothing. Maybe it really would all be fine.

Maybe Regina might even be happy, even if she didn't want to be with Emma. She could call their night together a mistake, but would she really see the child they created the same way?

Christmas Eve.

Emma repeated it to herself in her head as she began helping Henry sort out ornaments and decide what should go where, building up the nerve she knew she would need to come clean to Regina.

At least now, for once, she actually believed it might be okay.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Chapter Text

Christmas Eve


To Emma's surprise, Regina had actually agreed to let Henry stay with her up until Christmas Eve. Though she didn't discuss it with her directly, through Henry's mediation they decided they would trade off at the diner that evening, and Henry would go home with Regina for Christmas.

Emma had really been hoping Henry would opt to spend Christmas morning with her, but she guessed being a part of the whole 'Christmas as a family unit' thing at Regina's was important to him, so she'd have to wait until he and her parents came to her house for Christmas dinner to see him again.

It was more difficult with Henry there, but Emma had still managed to slip away a few times to get her magical fix from Mal, citing last minute shopping trips as her reason for needing to leave without him for a secretive errand, and as such, she was generally feeling better that week. Not great, by any stretch, but she no longer felt like she was on death's door every moment of the day. And Emma had finally filled Lily in on the rest of the story, after swearing her to absolute secrecy, and with Mal's help to convince her that magical babies were really a thing.

Still, as Christmas Eve drew closer, Emma felt herself growing more and more on edge, at the realization that she was actually going to see Regina again, for the first time in nearly a month, and she was going to have to tell her everything. It had seemed more feasible when Christmas Eve was just a day in the future, but now that day was today.

A few times, she'd come close to convincing herself that it was okay to back out of it, and maybe Christmas Eve wasn't the right time to deliver news like this, but Emma decided she needed to stick to her guns. It might ruin Regina's perfect Christmas with her new family, but Emma's life had been hell for a month now, and it was time she stopped suffering alone.

It didn't help, of course, that Emma actually hadn't had time to stop by and see Mal on Christmas Eve day, and Lily and Mal had opted to skip the potluck at Granny's, since it was their first Christmas together. Emma couldn't really blame them for wanting to spend time together as mother and daughter, but still she wished she had the support of the only people who knew the truth.

Emma sighed as she realized it was time to get going, and she called upstairs to Henry as she headed to the kitchen to grab the tray of cupcakes they'd made together for the potluck. Emma wasn't much of a baker herself, but Henry seemed to have picked up some skill from Regina, and in her opinion, the chocolate cupcakes with red and white frosting didn't look half bad.

"Mom!" Henry gasped, as he stepped into the kitchen.

"What?" Emma asked, looking up, surprised.

"The cupcakes are for the potluck. I know you're pregnant, but stop eyeing them like you're about to devour the whole tray right here."

Emma smirked. "I was just looking at them."

Truth be told, on any other day this week, she might have devoured more than one of them standing right there, but today, she was already feeling a little nauseous, and as delicious as that peppermint frosting might be, she was sure that was a bad idea.

Either way, Henry took the tray from her and headed toward the door.

"Remember, kid, keep the pregnancy thing on the down low. I'm not telling my parents until after Christmas, remember?"

"I still think you should tell them today," Henry said, with half a shrug.

"Yeah, but it's Neal's first Christmas and I don't want to steal the spotlight. Also, I still think I need some time before I'm out baby shopping every day with your grandmother," Emma said, with a short laugh that she hoped was convincing. Truth be told, she was more nervous about telling her parents that she and Regina had created a baby through magic than she was about telling Regina. Regina first, then the whole truth to Henry, then her parents. That was the order Emma had decided on in her head, and she was sticking to it.

"Fine. Okay. But we gotta go," Henry insisted.

"Mhmm," Emma agreed, as she followed him out the door and headed down to her Bug. She wondered if Regina would insist that she get a new car once the baby came, since her's was a so-called 'death trap'. She guessed they would both have to get new cars, since Regina's didn't even have a backseat. But she was getting ahead of herself. They still had months until the baby came.

"Mom, seriously. Where is your head today?"

Emma jumped at Henry's voice, realizing she'd been lost in thought, just staring at her car. "Sorry, Henry. It's just baby-brain. You'd better get used to it."

Henry smiled. "Were you like this when you were having me?"

Emma bristled at the question. Henry rarely asked anything about her pregnancy, and she was grateful for that.

"Um, yeah, I think so," Emma nodded, as she finally opened the car door. "But it was different, you know? The prison had a pretty tight schedule and they told you where to be and when, all the time. I didn't really have to use my brain as much."

"I guess at least this time will be better," Henry acknowledged, and Emma could tell he was trying not to let any emotion show. "I mean, you have your freedom, so it's gotta be a lot less scary."

"I think it's always scary."

Thus far, this pregnancy had been infinitely more terrifying than her pregnancy with Henry, Emma acknowledged to herself as she began driving to the diner. At least with Henry, she'd known what was going to happen right from the start. She didn't really have any other options, other than giving him up, so there was no real deliberation. This time, however, there were a million options and a million ways it could all blow up in her face, and she was just hopeful that telling Regina today was the right choice.

Or, at least, the least damaging option.

Emma felt her nervousness rising as she pulled up to the diner just in time to see Regina and Robin heading inside. She tried to keep her cool as she pulled into a parking spot, grateful that she also saw her parents' pick up truck parked out front. At least she wasn't just walking into the lion's den.

Inside, Henry rushed over to greet his mother, and Emma tried not to make it obvious that she was staring at the sight of Regina dressed in a tight black dress with a dark red jacket, proudly holding the little infant Ryleigh, whom she'd dressed in a frilly red and white Christmas dress, with a flower headband around her little head.

Emma was already regretting that she'd opted for her regular attire of skinny jeans, a tank top and her red leather jacket as she placed the tray of cupcakes on the counter. Everyone had dressed nicely tonight, and she was glad, at least, that red was festive.

"Emma, there you are."

Emma smiled in relief and turned to greet her mother. "Hey."

"Come on, sit down, everyone's getting ready to eat."

Emma nodded, though the thought of food was making her feel more nauseous than ever, and followed her mother, who of course led her straight to the table where Robin was already sitting. Regina was making her way over, so Emma quickly snagged a chair at the opposite end of the table, hoping to avoid any sort of awkward small talk with Regina before she could get her alone someplace and drop this bombshell on her.

Emma was uncharacteristically quiet throughout dinner, as she watched her parents and Henry and Robin and Regina chat and laugh, completely oblivious to the fact that her whole world was crumbling at her feet. Emma managed to catch Regina's eye a couple times, but Regina always looked away quickly, usually to tend to the baby who wasn't even fussing in her car seat, that Regina had placed on a chair nestled between herself and Robin.

Emma couldn't help the jealousy that was rising in her every time Regina turned to the baby, knowing she was carrying Regina's baby at that very moment. She suddenly, painfully, understood why Henry felt like a fifth wheel, and she wondered where she and her baby would fit into this unit once it was born.

"Emma, why aren't you eating?" 

Emma turned to her mother, her mouth gaping slightly, as she was at a loss for an excuse as to why she hadn't so much as touched a morsel on her plate, when everyone else was nearly finished.

"Are you still feeling unwell, dear?" Regina asked.

Emma's eyes shot over to Regina, in disbelief that after all this time, that this was the first thing she would say to her, after she'd acted like Emma had been lying about it before. It was all Emma could do to hold back her desire to stand up right then and there and tell Regina exactly why she was feeling unwell and exactly who was to blame.

But she didn't do that. It wasn't fair to Henry or her parents to find out that way, no matter how much she wanted to put Regina in her place.

So she simply said, "excuse me," and headed to the back of the diner to the bathroom, to splash some cold water on her face, in an attempt to pull herself back together. For a moment, she considered pulling out her phone and calling Mal to see if she could stop over, just for a second. She knew the other woman would probably agree, but she had no idea how she would explain her absence to everyone at the table.

So she just swallowed back the bile and took a deep breath, praying that she could hold it together at least until dinner was over. If she ended up a crying mess in front of Regina later, she guessed that it would only serve to prove that she wasn't lying about everything, not that she wanted to cry in front of Regina.

"Get it together, Swan," Emma whispered to herself in the mirror, before leaving the bathroom and making her way back to the table. She returned just in time to see Robin stand up.

"Can I have everyone's attention, please," Robin said, glancing around the room before looking pointedly at Emma, who was still standing next to her chair.

"Mom, sit down," Henry whispered, and Emma nodded quickly, taking her seat. She wasn't sure what was about to happen, but she had a bad feeling.

"Thank you," Robin said, smiling at Emma this time, before turning his attention back to Regina. "I would just like to take a moment, to make a toast, to this beautiful woman sitting next to me. She has been my rock, my best friend, and my soulmate, through thick and thin and everything life has thrown at us."

Emma smirked as she watched Robin cast a glance at his daughter. If he only knew, she thought to herself, but her smirk quickly faded when she saw the way Regina was smiling up at him.

"And now, in front of all our family and friends," Robin continued, and Emma felt her heart leap into her throat as he placed his hand in his pocket and got down on one knee in front of Regina.

"I'm gonna be sick."

It came out louder than she'd meant it to, she realized, as everyone turned to stare at her, but Emma didn't care as she was actually going to be sick. She jumped up from her chair so fast she knocked her glass of water from the table, and it shattered onto to the floor, but she barely noticed it as she darted back to the bathroom. She made it just in time, locking the door before dropping to her knees in one of the stalls. She was sure her mother was right behind her, but she didn't want to see her right now.

She didn't want to see anyone, much less let anyone see her right now.

When she finished vomiting, Emma sat on the floor, hyperventilating and trying to catch her breath. Of all the ways everything could have blown up in her face tonight, Robin proposing to Regina in the middle of the diner had not once crossed her mind.

"How the fuck can this get any worse?" Emma asked herself, aloud, as she heard her mother knocking on the bathroom door and calling her name.

She couldn't face her right now. She couldn't deal with telling her about one night stands with her former enemy and magical babies and everything else. It was all too much and Emma hadn't asked for any of this and every fibre of her being was telling her to run.

But there was no running - not this time. She couldn't run from the baby growing inside her and she couldn't run from her family. And she couldn't run from the fact that everything was working out perfectly for Regina right now and she was going to be the one to drop the bomb that blew it all up.

Again.

And Regina would probably hate her. Again.

Shakily, she pulled herself up to her feet and washed her face in the sink. Maybe tonight wasn't the night to tell her. Maybe it could wait until after the holidays and after the excitement of Regina's engagement wore off.

Or maybe she could just never tell her, and let her continue on with her happy life and her happy family and Emma could start over, with Henry and the baby.

Emma shook her head. She knew that wasn't an option, even if it seemed tempting right now. It wasn't fair to deprive her baby of a parent, and as horrible as Regina had been to her lately, it wasn't fair to keep this from her, either. She was sure her head was just spinning from what had just happened, and from desperately needing another magic fix.

It occurred to Emma that she hadn't even seen Regina's reaction to the proposal. Maybe she'd said no? She guessed that was just wishful thinking, but it was the only thing that was calming her right now.

Taking a deep, steadying breath, Emma turned toward the door, determined to at least face her mother, though she'd stopped knocking. Moments later, Emma knew why she'd stopped knocking, as a whirlwind of purple smoke appeared, and dissipated to reveal a very pissed off looking Regina.

A very pissed off looking Regina wearing a very large, shiny rock on her left hand.

"What the hell is your problem?" Regina demanded, before Emma could even open her mouth to speak.

"Regina, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt... that… but I was sick," Emma said, trying to keep her voice even and flat, though she suddenly had the desire to just punch Regina, for all the torment she was putting her through.

"You know, Emma, if you're so sick, perhaps it's time you sought a medical opinion, hmm?" Regina asked, crossing her arms and narrowing her eyes at the blonde.

Emma had seen her face in the mirror - bloodshot eyes and puffy tear stained cheeks - so she knew it was obvious that she had really just been sick. And Regina was just being vindictive.

And it was about all Emma could take.

"Actually, I already did that," Emma said, crossing her own arms. "And I'm - I'm pregnant."

Emma watched the array of emotions that passed over Regina's face in a matter of seconds, from shocked, to hurt to angry.

"Well, congratulations," Regina spat at her, and Emma knew in an instant that Regina had immediately assumed the baby was Hook's. How could she not? There was no way she would assume they had created a baby through magic.

"Regina-" Emma attempted, knowing she had to get the rest out now.

"Save it," Regina said, putting a hand up, dismissively. "You know, it would be nice if you could let me have just one thing. You almost destroyed my happiness with Robin once, and now that I finally am happy, and accepting that I'll never be able to give him the one thing that my sister could, and did, you have to go and get yourself knocked up."

Emma gaped at Regina for a moment. "Are you… are you fucking serious right now? You think I got pregnant to one-up you, somehow?"

Regina shrugged. "No. But you didn't have to go and make a spectacle of yourself in the middle of the diner during what should have been one of the happiest moments of my life."

Emma shook her head and plastered on a fake smile. "Well, I'm glad you're so happy Regina. And I hope you and Robin will be so happy forever. Congratulations on your fucking engagement. But, you know, they say the best marriages are built on a foundation of honesty and trust. Don't you have a dirty little secret you're keeping from your fiance?"

"Are you threatening me?" Regina hissed back at her.

"Nope," Emma said, with a shrug. "Just saying these things can come back to bite you in the-" Emma gasped as she felt a sharp pain in her abdomen.

"Emma?"

Emma made another pained sound, as the room started to spin around her. Without a second thought, she reached out and grabbed on tightly to Regina's arm, instantly feeling the other woman's magic flowing into her, and it stopped.

Emma breathed a sigh of relief, as she kept clinging to Regina's arm. Mal was right: Regina's magic was infinitely more effective than Mal's was, and Emma was trying to get as much as she could.

"Are you alright?" Regina asked, softly.

Emma nodded.

"Then kindly remove your hand. I'm going back to join my family. I suggest you do the same before your mother gives herself an aneurysm panicking over you," Regina said, as she shook her arm free of Emma's grasp.

Emma simply nodded, and felt the instant loss of Regina's magic. She swallowed hard as she watched Regina unlock the door and head back out into the diner. Immediately, Snow rushed inside.

"Emma, are you alright?"

Emma just nodded. "I'm fine. I just… I got a little over emotional, I guess," she said with a shrug. She wasn't sure how much longer she could play up the whole being heartbroken over Hook thing, but for the time being, it seemed to be working.

"Oh, honey, I'm sure that wasn't easy to watch," Snow acknowledged with a knowing smile.

"Yeah. I think I'm just gonna go home and try to get some sleep. I've still got a lot to do to get ready for dinner tomorrow."

"Are you sure?"

Emma nodded again, and asked her mother to say her goodbyes for her, as she opted to leave out the backdoor of the diner and walk around the front, to avoid seeing Regina again. As she walked, she pulled out her phone and dialed Mal's number quickly.

"Hey," Emma said, quietly into the phone when Mal answered. "I'm sorry. I know it's Christmas Eve, but something happened and I really need to come over."

Emma breathed a sigh of relief when Mal agreed, but her nerves were still on overdrive as she headed to Mal's place, hoping the older woman would have an answer to what had just happened to her in the bathroom. This pregnancy had already been so different than her pregnancy with Henry, but she knew pain and the room spinning could never be a good sign.

Right now, it didn't matter what Regina did or didn't do with Robin or her life, all Emma cared about at the moment was the health of her baby. That was priority. Everything else could wait.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ 

Chapter Text

"It sounds like this little one doesn't like it when her mommies fight," Mal said, soothingly, after Emma had recounted the events of the diner to her. She'd left and headed straight to Mal's and was now laying curled up on the couch, with her head on the older woman's lap, as Mal stroked her hair softly, letting her magic flow through Emma.

"Her?" Emma asked.

Mal smiled. "You never took a biology class? We may not have known what X and Y chromosomes were in the Enchanted Forest, but it's fairly common knowledge among practitioners of magic, even there, that two women can only produce a biologically female child."

"Oh," Emma said, nodding against Mal's thigh. It made sense, but she hadn't really given a thought to the baby's sex before that, as it didn't really matter to her either way. "I never felt anything like that when I was pregnant with Henry."

"No, you wouldn't have. The baby was reacting to the magical presence in the room. You and Regina were fighting, and it affected the baby," Mal explained.

"But you don't think it hurt it - her - do you?" Emma asked, biting her lip as she absently ran her fingers over her still-flat abdomen.

"I can still sense her magic, and it feels strong, Emma. She's fine."

Emma nodded. "I uh… you were right, about Regina's magic. It helped instantly," Emma admitted.

Mal smiled again. "I'm right about a lot of things," she remarked, but it didn't come off as condescending. In fact, Emma found it reassuring to know that at least someone knew what the hell was going on.

"She's so mad," Emma said, with a sigh.

"She's an idiot," Mal replied, with a shrug. "She's my oldest friend and I lover her dearly, I always will, but she doesn't have a great track record for making good decisions. She'll come around."

Emma shook her head. "I'm not so sure I even want her to anymore. Maybe she doesn't even deserve to know."

"Emma… You know you have my full support in all of this, and I will be here to help you, no matter what, but Regina is my best friend. I can't let you keep this from her indefinitely."

"But she's gonna flip out and her anger will hurt the baby," Emma insisted. "I have to think about my child's safety over Regina's feelings."

"Yes, you do," Mal agreed. "And, for the time being at least, I think you're better off limiting your contact with Regina as much as possible. Her magic may be better for you, but not when she's like this. She'll do more harm than good right now. That being said, however, you won't be pregnant forever. And if you never tell her, eventually I will have to."

Emma swallowed hard and nodded. She really wanted to tell Mal that maybe Regina didn't deserve her loyal friendship, but the woman had forgiven her for locking her under the library for twenty-eight years, so she supposed there wasn't much Mal couldn't forgive in Regina.

"Okay," Emma agreed, finally. "You're right. Again. But I can't do it right now."

"I know. Are you feeling better now?"

"Yes, thank you," Emma said, with a sigh, as she finally sat up. "I guess I should get going now, and let you and Lily have your evening together."

Mal glanced toward the kitchen where Lily was busy working on their own Christmas Eve dinner. "I really should see if she needs help," Mal agreed. "But Emma, please know you are never an inconvenience, no matter what I'm doing, alright? And I think maybe I should stop by your place tomorrow afternoon, just in case. The holidays are draining to begin with, and much more so in your current situation."

Emma nodded. "Thank you."

Mal watched as Emma left her house, and waited until she saw the Bug pulling away through the window, before grabbing her phone and calling Regina.

"So, dear, I hear congratulations are in order," she said, coolly.

"News travels fast," Regina replied. "Who told you?"

"Doesn't matter. Regina, what the hell is wrong with you?"

There was a long pause on the other end of the line, before Regina finally spoke. "Mal, I'm not doing this right now. It's Christmas Eve, and my son is here. You can tell me how much you hate Robin and how big of a mistake I'm making the day after tomorrow, okay?"

"It sounds like you already know," Mal commented, dryly.

"Mal, please, just stop, alright? Just let me make one decision about my future for myself, okay?"

"Fine. The day after tomorrow then," Mal conceded, shaking her head as she ended the call. How in the hell Regina thought following pixie dust to a soul mate was her decision was beyond her, but she knew she needed to talk some sense into her friend before she ruined everything.


Emma breathed a heavy, heavy sigh as she stepped back into her empty home. Her mother had texted her and asked her to come over to the loft, but Emma had insisted that she just wanted to kick back and relax in a warm bath and then go to bed.

She ran her hands over her flat stomach again as she stood and stared at the Christmas tree she and Henry had decorated. With a flick of her wrist, she used her magic to illuminate the lights on the tree, the sparkling white dots casting a cool glow over the otherwise dark room.

And she smiled when she felt a tiny flutter in her lower belly.

"Oh, you liked that, did you?" Emma said, softly. "You like when Mommy uses her magic?"

Emma continued to stare at the tree, thinking about how this time, next year, she would be standing here with a baby in her arms.

A baby girl.

Her baby girl.

Regina be damned, it didn't matter what she did or didn't do, Emma reasoned. No matter what, she was going to have a baby, and no one could take that from her. Not this time.

"I'm sorry about that run in with your… other Mommy," Emma said, as she continued to run her fingers over her belly. She was sure the fetus probably couldn't hear yet, but it was still nice to have someone to talk to, when she felt so alone. "That wasn't very fun for you, I know that now. And I promise I'm going to protect you, even if that means keeping my distance from her right now. No matter what, baby girl, please just know I'm doing all of this for you."

Emma waited to see if she could feel any other slight movement, before eventually giving up and lying on her couch, near the Christmas tree, opting to let the little white lights keep shining as she wrapped herself up in a blanket. She wished she could sense the baby the way Mal could, just so she could check in and make sure everything really was okay. But Mal seemed to have nothing but the best of intentions, so Emma decided she'd have to take her at her word that everything really was fine, and the baby was alright.

It seemed like almost no time passed when Emma's eyes fluttered open again, to the first light of morning.

It was Christmas morning. And she was waking up alone.

Suddenly, she wished she'd taken her mother up on the offer to go to the loft the night before, but she was sure her presence wouldn't be missed as they celebrated Neal's very first Christmas. No, actually, she was sure it would be, but it was easier to tell herself it wouldn't.

It would only be a few short hours before they arrived at her house, anyway, Emma figured. She'd said dinner time, but she knew her mother wouldn't be able to wait until then. She also realized that she still had a lot of work to do, and not much time to do it in.

So she got up and stretched, glancing back at her Christmas tree once again. "Shit," she muttered to herself, realizing she hadn't even thought about wrapping any of the gifts she'd gotten for her family. With a wave of her hand, it was done, and they were all beautifully wrapped and placed under the tree.

She was admiring her work when she spotted a small gift wrapped in shiny silver paper, sitting on a tree branch. Emma got up immediately and grabbed it, smiling as she read the tag.

For Emma, open ALONE

It was Mal's writing, Emma recognized it from her journals she and Lily had been scouring, and she quickly pulled the paper off and pulled the gift box open to reveal a baby rattle shaped like a dragon claw with a shimmery yellow ball on top, and a note.

Emma,

Let me be the first to bestow a gift upon your child. I made one just like this, for Lily, only purple. But she says you like yellow.

Much love,
Mal

Emma grinned widely as she poofed away the remnants of the wrapping paper, and headed upstairs to tuck the rattle away in her dresser drawer. She guessed avoiding Regina wouldn't be all that hard when she had other people on her side, even ones she had never expected to come through for her, like Maleficent.

Emma went back downstairs and started actually getting ready for Christmas dinner, like she should have been doing all week. Luckily, her magic made everything come together easier, and by the time mid-afternoon came and her parents showed up with Neal, everything was done, but Emma was wiped.

"Where's Henry?" Emma asked, as she'd expected her son to arrive with her parents.

"He wasn't ready yet, so Regina said she would bring him by before dinner," Snow said, nonchalantly.

Emma guessed she shouldn't be surprised that her mother was so nonchalant, since she didn't have a clue that she and Regina were at odds with one another. How could she know? Emma hadn't said a word, and she was sure Regina hadn't either.

But Emma hadn't wanted to see Regina again, not this soon. The stress was wearing on her as she attempted to make small talk with her parents, and eventually tried to distract herself by playing with Neal, until the sound of the doorbell made her nearly jump out of her skin.

"I got it," Snow insisted, and Emma didn't look up as she heard the door open. "Oh, Mal? We were expecting Henry."

Emma breathed a sigh of relief, and handed Neal back to her father.

"Mal just had to come by and help me with… something," Emma stammered as she jumped up. Normally, she could come up with a better alibi on the spot, but her head was spinning from stress mixed with using a little bit too much of her magic today.

But Mal just shook her head, smiling at Snow. "Emma's covering for me. I need her help with something for Lily," she lied. "This is my first Christmas with my daughter and I want to make sure everything is perfect."

"Right," Emma agreed. "Um, I have that thing for you, in the other room."

Mal smiled again and followed Emma into the sitting room down the hall. The moment Emma shut the door, she immediately grabbed onto both of Mal's hands and breathed a sigh of relief as she felt Mal's magic entering her.

"My God, Emma, why are you so drained?" Mal asked, looking at Emma in shock.

"You can tell? I kinda used… way more magic than I should have, getting everything ready for today. It takes a lot of juice to make an entire Christmas dinner."

Mal smirked and raised an eyebrow. "There's something to be said about doing things the old fashion way," she acknowledged. "Come on, sit down."

Emma nodded and followed Mal over to the couch, scooting up close to her and letting Mal take one of her hands in both of her own.

"You really need to take it easy, where the magic is concerned," Mal instructed. "The baby's draining you to start with, so using more magic will deplete your resources even quicker. There's always a recovery time, you know."

Emma nodded. "Yeah, I know. I won't do it anymore, I swear. And thanks, for the gift. The rattle. I love it."

Mal smiled. "Lily never got to have hers, you know," she said, sadly.

"I know. There were lots of things I didn't get to have from my parents, either," Emma said with a nod. "I'm just… in spite of everything, I'm just glad that I have a chance with this baby, to have her and keep her, you know?"

"I know."

Mal and Emma sat in silence for a few minutes, as Emma closed her eyes and let Mal work her magic - literally.

"Good?" Mal asked, finally, as she saw the healthy colour returning once again to Emma's face.

But before Emma could respond, the door to the sitting room flew open, and Henry hurried in.

"There you are!" he said, excitedly, his face lit up much more like a five year old than a thirteen year old. Christmas always brought it out in him.

"Yeah, I was just coming back out, kid," Emma smiled, still holding Mal's hand, though Henry didn't seem to notice, as he turned his attention back to the doorway.

"My mom wants to talk to you," he said, slipping back out of the room as Regina entered.

Emma's heart dropped into her stomach. Regina was the last person she wanted to see today, and she certainly hadn't wanted her to see her sequestered away in a room, holding hands with Mal.

For her part, Regina noticed right away, her eyes lingering on their hands for a long moment, before looking up again. "Mal, I didn't expect to see you here," Regina said, curtly. "May Emma and I have some privacy?"

Mal glanced at the panicked look on Emma's face, before turning back to Regina again. "No, I don't think that's a good idea."

Emma breathed a small sigh of relief. On another other occasion, she could take whatever wrath Regina wanted to throw at her, even on Christmas, but not if it meant jeopardizing her baby's health.

"I'm not going to… fine," Regina said, rolling her eyes, before looking at Emma. "Emma, I just… I just wanted to apologize, for yesterday. I was out of line, and I'm sorry."

Emma gaped for a moment. This was the last thing she'd expected. "Oh, uh… thank you."

Regina gave her a tight smile and an uncomfortable nod, her eyes darting between the two blondes again, and it occurred to Emma that Regina was trying to figure out exactly what was going on between the two of them.

"Yes, well, I should get going. Merry Christmas," Regina said, before turning to leave the room again.

"Merry Christmas," Emma muttered, bewildered.

"You okay?" Mal asked, with a gentle squeeze to Emma's hand.

Emma nodded and smiled. "Yeah, I'm fine. Thank you. For everything."

"Merry Christmas, Emma," Mal said, finally letting go of Emma's hand, so she could wrap her arms around her in a tight hug.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Chapter Text

Mal was already waiting in a booth at Granny's when Regina arrived. It had taken her over a week to convince Regina that they really did need to talk, and once Regina had run out of excuses to avoid her since seeing her and Emma holding hands on Christmas day, she'd finally agreed to meet up with her, though she was dreading it.

In lieu of a greeting, Mal grabbed Regina's left hand as she slid onto the bench opposite her in the booth, raising an eyebrow as she observed the diamond on Regina's finger.

"Looks expensive," Mal commented, as she looked up to meet Regina's eyes. "Where'd he steal this from?"

"He bought it," Regina insisted, trying to pull her hand from Mal's grip, but the woman held on tight, opting to interlace her fingers between Regina's instead, as she rested her elbow on the tabletop. It wasn't an intimate act, but one that let Regina know she was about to get an earful of unsolicited life advice.

"Really," Mal said, smirking. "With what money? Last I heard he lives in a tent in the forest."

"He lives with me, actually," Regina corrected. "And he has money."

"He doesn't work," Mal pointed out.

"He worked in New York and I…"

"And you what?"

"I gave him money before he went there," Regina said, regretting the words the second they left her mouth.

Mal raised a questioning eyebrow. "So it's your money."

"No, it's was the town's money. And if you want to get technical, everyone in Storybrooke lives off the money I created in the curse, so it's all my money."

"Touché," Mal said, still smirking.

"What's going on here, Mal? You don't like Robin, is that it?" Regina asked, with an exasperated sigh.

"Actually, I don't have an opinion of him either way," Mal said with a shrug. "What I don't like is watching my oldest friend throw her life away over a man who isn't worth her time."

"Well, that sounds like an opinion of him, doesn't it?"

"It's an opinion of you, actually," Mal corrected. "I know you better than this. This… this taking the safe route and playing house with a man who you think you love, but who doesn't challenge you… this isn't you. You're going to be unhappy. And you're going to get bored."

Regina pursed her lips for a moment, then let out a sigh. "Maybe I don't want any more challenges. Maybe safe is nice."

"Safe is safe, Regina, and nice is nice, and you are neither of those things. Never once have I known you to just accept your life how it's dictated to you, and yet, here you are, following decades old pixie dust to your so-called soulmate. I don't even know who you are anymore."

"Don't judge me, Mal," Regina said, her eyes growing harder. "You don't know me anymore because I'm not the same person I used to be. I'm no longer the Evil Queen. I'm just Regina and I'm just trying to make a life for myself."

"I knew you before you were the Evil Queen, my dear," Mal reminded her.

"Right," Regina agreed. "You knew me when I was young and hellbent on revenge. I would have thought that you, of all people, would be relieved to see I've finally changed, and I'm just looking for happiness now."

"And this is what happiness looks like? Marrying a man you've barely just begun dating, and raising your sister's child as your own?"

"Well, it's not like I have a lot of other suitors lining up," Regina remarked, dryly.

"Well…"

Regina narrowed her eyes for a moment, in confusion, before her mouth fell open. "No," she said, shaking her head in disbelief. "She told you?"

"Who dear? Told me what?"

"Emma!" Regina cried, pulling her hand free from Mal's, finally. "She told you, didn't she?"

Mal simply raised an eyebrow, regarding Regina with mild amusement. "Told me what, dear?"

Regina clenched her jaw and leaned in close to Mal, speaking in a harsh whisper. "It was one night, Mal. We were both drunk and…" Regina shook her head, in disbelief that this was still coming back to haunt her. "Things happen."

"Things happen?" Mal asked, smirking.

"I'm not giving up everything I have over a one night stand, Mal. It shouldn't have happened. I wasn't thinking straight and neither was Emma."

"You're not giving up everything you have? Regina, you have no idea what you have," Mal sighed.

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"Talk to Emma. If you can do so in a civil fashion, that is."

"I tried to talk to Emma, on Christmas. You wouldn't leave the room, if I recall," Regina stated. "In fact, the two of you looked very cozy on that couch together. Was it my imagination, or were you two holding hands?"

Mal smiled and shook her head. "Emma is Lily's friend."

"Well, that's a non-answer if I've ever heard one," Regina said with a small laugh. "What are you hiding, Mal? Something's up, I can tell."

"Like I said, talk to Emma," Mal said, again.

"No, I'm talking to you. If you think you're going to play matchmaker between Emma and I, think again, Mal, because it's not happening."

"God, Regina, sometimes I just want to smack you, you know that?"

Regina scowled. After all these years, it was still infuriating how Mal could get under her skin like that, without even trying. "Mal, you don't know what you're talking about. Me and Emma, that... it could never work. We're too volatile. We've only just learned how to be friends, and then we go and… it's like I have no impulse control around her."

"Look how emotionally charged you are right now, Regina. I can't make a choice for you, but I can say I've never seen you get this passionate talking about Robin. Safe isn't nice, Regina. It's boring. And you've never done boring."

"Well, what difference would it make, anyway? She's pregnant now, and I'm sure it's only a matter of time before she goes back to her pirate," Regina insisted.

"I wouldn't be so sure about that."

"Oh?" Regina asked, raising an eyebrow. "And why's that?"

"It's not for me to say, Regina, but things aren't always as they seem. Talk to Emma. But, I swear, if you fly off the handle with her like you did on Christmas Eve, you're going to have me to deal with."

"Now you're threatening me? I thought you were my friend."

"I am your friend, Regina. And I think I'm probably the only person who can talk some sense into you right now. But I'm also Emma's friend, and she's in a fragile emotional state right now, and in the early stages of pregnancy. She doesn't need your bullshit on top of it."

Regina let out a long sigh, knowing that Mal wasn't going to budge on any of this. "Fine. I'll think about it."


In her parent's loft, Emma sat at the table, staring intensely at the wood surface, rather than the confused faces of her parents. She'd asked to speak to them, and in the nearly twenty minutes they'd been sitting there, she had yet to say a word, or even make eye contact.

"Emma," Snow said, finally.

Emma's eyes snapped up, and when she met her mother's warm but imploring eyes, she lost her nerve. How was she supposed to tell them that she was pregnant, when she knew they would just assume, as Henry and Regina had, that the baby was Hook's? How could she tell them it wasn't, when she hadn't even told Regina?

How could she tell her mother that she'd slept with the woman who'd tried to kill her for years?

When she'd attempted to mentally prepare herself for this, she'd convinced herself that her mother and Regina had buried the hatchet for good, but now she was wondering just how true that really was.

Maybe this was a bad idea.

"Um," Emma said, biting her lip. "I, um…"

Emma breathed a sigh of relief when Neal chose that exact moment to begin wailing in his crib.

"Oh," Snow said, glancing between the crib and her daughter's distraught face.

"No, it's okay, get him," Emma insisted, nodding emphatically. "I, uh, this can wait."

"Emma," David said, gently, putting his hand over Emma's as Snow got up to get Neal. "We're your parents. You know you can tell us anything."

"Yeah," Emma said, trying to sound more convinced than she felt. "I know. This is just… I'm not ready. I'm sorry."

"Emma," David tried again, but Emma pulled her hand back and pushed her chair back from the table.

"I, uh, I'm gonna go. For a walk or something. I'll talk to you guys later," Emma said, making her way quickly to the door before her parents could protest.

Snow shook her head sadly as she watched her daughter leave. "David, she's still so closed off from us. I think she wants to open up about what happened between her and Hook, but she's still got those walls up."

David nodded. "I know. We'll get through to her. Don't worry."


Emma wasted no time getting down the stairs and out the front door of her parents' building. What the hell was she thinking, thinking it was a good idea to tell them she was pregnant with Regina's magical baby? She laughed to herself about how absurd it still sounded, even in her own head. How was she supposed to explain this to anyone else?

She needed to clear her head, so she started walking, quickly, with fierce determination. She was barely even watching where she was going, which was how she ended up barreling into another pedestrian on the sidewalk.

"Umph! Oh, sorry," she said, quickly, taking a step back, and then cringing when she saw exactly whom she had just walked in to.

"Quite alright, Swan," Hook said, smoothing out the front of his leather jacket. "I was just on my way to find you, actually, love."

Emma shook her head in disbelief. "Why?" she asked, already sounding exasperated. They hadn't spoken since the night she'd called to end things, and she couldn't imagine what he could possibly want now.

"I wanted to let you know, I've decided to set sail on the Jolly Roger," Hook said, attempting to sound aloof. "There's nothing tying me to Storybrooke anymore, and I wanted to give you the courtesy of letting you know, in person."

"Oh," Emma replied, surprised. "Yeah, uh, yeah thank you. For letting me know. Have a good… adventure."

"Swan, are you alright?"

Emma took a step back as Hook took a step toward her. Her head was starting to spin and she was feeling nauseous again.

Fucking wonderful timing.

"I'm fine," Emma insisted, nodding. "I just… I just, uh, had a discussion with my parents and uh.. Nevermind. I gotta go."

"Swan?" Hook called after her, but Emma had already vanished herself in a cloud of white smoke.


Emma's knees buckled as she reappeared in Mal's living room, looking around frantically and calling for the other woman, only to quickly realize the house was empty.

"Shit, Mal, where are you?" she muttered to herself as she made her way into the kitchen, thinking perhaps a glass of water would help in the meantime. She spotted a note on the table and quickly snatched it.

Lily,

If you get here before I'm back, I'm just at Granny's diner. Be home soon.

Love Mom

In spite of her drained state, which was quickly getting worse since she'd used magic, again, Emma couldn't help but smile at the note. If nothing else, it warmed her heart that Lily and her mother were finally bonding.

She debated for a moment if she should just lay down on the couch and wait for Lily or Mal to show up. Lily's magic helped a little, but she wasn't quite as adept at channeling the right amount of magic at one time. It was always too little or way too much, and Emma preferred to just let Mal do it.

Her legs were shaking and she felt a sharp pain in her gut that told her waiting wasn't going to be an option. It had been too long since her last magical fix from Mal, and she was in emotional overdrive, and she knew it was a bad combination.

She knew more magic was a bad idea, but she could poof herself to Mal a lot quicker than she could walk to the diner, and she wasn't sure she could make it the entire way on foot without passing out. After several deep breaths, Emma closed her eyes and poofed herself once more, honing in on the diner and Mal in her mind, hoping that would land her right in Mal's booth. At this point, she didn't even care who was there, she was fading fast and she needed help.

In an instant, she was in the diner, not sitting in Mal's booth but standing beside it. As the smoke cleared, Emma fell to her knees, barely aware of Mal's startled cry as the woman jumped out of the booth and dropped to her own knees in front of Emma.

"Emma, Emma," Mal said, frantically, as she grabbed onto Emma's shoulders and pulled her close, trying to get her magic into her as quickly as possible.

"Mal… I need… I need… you," Emma breathed out, her heart beating frantically and her eyes closed.

"Shh, I'm right here," Mal soothed. "Regina, help me get her up."

Mal knew she could have easily gotten Emma into the booth on her own, but Regina's touch and Regina's magic would help Emma recover a lot quicker, even if Regina was unaware. She couldn't help the magic that passed through her into Emma every time they made contact, and that was what Emma needed now.

Emma's eyes snapped open the moment Regina placed one hand on her back and gripped her forearm with the other, helping Mal pull Emma into a standing position before helping her into the bench seat of the booth. Mal quickly slid in next to her, taking a hold of her hand under the table, as Emma's wide eyes watched Regina.

For her part, Regina hesitated for a moment, and then took her seat back on the opposite side of the booth again.

"Emma, what happened?" Regina asked, looking so genuinely concerned that Emma almost considered telling her everything, right there, on the spot. But, she reasoned, she was only concerned because of what she'd just seen, and that didn't change anything in the long run.

"I, uh, I saw Hook… he's leaving Storybrooke," Emma said, her voice flat, without inflection. In truth, she was surprised it had taken him this long to leave after she'd broken up with him. She guessed he'd held onto some hope that she would take him back, and had finally had enough waiting. After all, the world was full of pretty blondes, right?

"Oh," Regina said, unsure what that had to do with Emma's current state.

Mal put her hand on Emma's forehead, and frowned. "Emma, you're burning up. Let's get you out of here."

Emma simply nodded, and closed her eyes, unconsciously leaning toward Mal's shoulder as she listened to her tell Regina goodbye, before enveloping them both in a cloud of smoke and poofing them into a guestroom at Mal's house.

"Emma, what did I tell you about using magic?" Mal asked, as she pulled back the covers on the bed and urged Emma to climb in.

"No magic," Emma said, nodding, with her eyes still closed.

"Exactly," Mal sighed, as she sat down on the edge of the bed. Emma opened her eyes when Mal didn't immediately start pouring more magic into her. She narrowed her eyes in confusion when, instead, Mal flicked her wrist, and a small crystal pendant on a chain appeared in her palm.

Mal held the pendant up with one hand, and Emma watched as purple tendrils of magic left the fingers of the other hand and were absorbed into the pendant, which turned from clear to a light, hazy purple.

"What's that?" Emma asked, too intrigued to think about how sick she felt at this exact moment.

"I may have had an ulterior motive in meeting with Regina today," Mal said, with a small smile, and with another flick of her wrist, the necklace was now around Emma's neck. "I mean, I did want to point out how stupid she is being, but also managed to capture a bit of her magical essence, which I trapped, in that."

Mal tapped the pendant with her finger, and it glowed warm against Emma's skin, and she felt the immediate relief of Regina's magic pouring over her.

"It's not a lot, Emma, but it should keep you from crashing hard like you have been in between your times with me. That is, as long as you stop using your magic."

Emma nodded, her head quickly clearing as the magic worked in her. "I promise. I just needed to get away from Hook so badly, and then I needed to get to you."

"You have a phone, Emma. I can get to you just as quickly, without the repercussions."

"I know," Emma agreed. "So how did it go with Regina?"

Mal smirked. "She's as stubborn and hardheaded as ever. And she knows I know about you and her."

Emma winced and closed her eyes again. "She's gonna kill me."

"She's not. But I will be surprised if she goes through with this wedding. I could see it in her eyes, that she knew I was right. I know her better than she knows herself. How did it go with your parents?"

"Didn't tell them."

"Emma," Mal sighed. "You have to."

Emma shook her head and smirked. "Nah, I think I'll just wait til the baby can talk, and she can tell them."

"Hmm, I think you must be feeling better. You're terrible sense of humour is returning."

"I think I hear Lily coming in. You should leave me alone to sleep now," Emma said, smiling softly.

"Fine. But I'll be back to check on you later, and to lecture you once you feel better."

"Thanks, Mom," Emma chided, as Mal got up to leave the room. Once she had closed the door behind her, Emma reached up and wrapped her fingers around the pendant on her neck, squeezing it tight and feeling the warmth in her hands.

She knew Mal was right, she needed Regina's magic, and she knew she would feel infinitely better in Regina's warm embrace, rather than simply embracing this little magic crystal, but Regina had made it quite clear that option was off the table.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Chapter Text

Emma slept restlessly in the guest bed in Mal's home. Despite the fact that Mal's home was the place she felt safest as of late, she still found herself waking every half hour or so in a state of panic. She was painfully aware that she'd overdone it today, and also acutely aware that nothing was going to get any better if she kept the truth hidden from everyone.

Still, telling the truth terrified her to no end, since she couldn't see a way it could possibly end well for her. One one hand, Regina could become furious with her, as this baby was going to destroy everything Regina had with Robin. If that was the case, Emma figured either Regina could deny it completely, and go on with her life as if she had no connection to this child whatsoever, or she could tell the truth, which included confessing to Robin that she'd cheated on him. The wedding would likely be called off at that point, and Emma was sure that Regina would blame her for it completely.

Emma dreaded the fallout from that. How would she and Regina co-parent this child if Regina hated her?

Emma supposed there was a third option she hadn't considered yet: she could tell Regina, and Regina could be happy about it. Maybe she'd even leave Robin and insist on starting a new life, with Emma and the baby. They'd be together, get married, and be a happy little family.

And Emma quickly realized, that was the worst option of all.

She didn't want to be a consolation prize when things didn't work out with Robin, and she certainly didn't want Regina choose her because of the baby. She wanted something real, and for a time she had thought she might be able to have that with Regina.

Now, she wasn't so convinced.

Emma sighed and sat up in bed, fishing for her phone from the back pocket of her jeans. She'd heard it go off with a few texts while she tried in vain to go back to sleep, but she guessed that wasn't happening any time soon. She swiped the lock screen, expecting to find several missed messages from her mother, but to her surprise, the messages were from Henry and Regina.

Henry was asking to stay with her again tonight, to which she shot back a quick 'yeah, of course, Kid." She opened Regina's messages next, not really sure what to expect.

Emma, are you alright? I called Mal and she told me that you're sleeping. Please message me when you wake up.

Emma, I don't think these are normal pregnancy symptoms, and I'm worried about you.

Maybe we should talk. Soon. Alright?

Emma felt her heart pounding in her chest. She hadn't known what to expect, but this certainly wasn't it. Regina wanted to talk, this was new, and Emma wasn't quite sure what to make of it. She couldn't help her fingers shaking as she typed out her response.

I'm okay. Henry's gonna spend the night. And yeah, we should talk soon.

Emma chewed on her bottom lip as she send the text, put her phone back in her pocket and got up to find Mal and Lily. Unconsciously, she wrapped her fingers around the dimly glowing pendant around her neck, finding that the trace amounts of Regina's magic really did take the edge off. Emotionally charged situations seemed to have her draining quicker than normal, and since every situation seemed emotionally charged as of late, Emma really was grateful that Mal had thought of this.

"Oh, hey there, Sleeping Beauty," Lily commented, as Emma entered the room.

Emma glanced between Lily and Mal, who now had her eyebrow raised, looking at her daughter. "That's not funny," Emma replied.

"Especially not when you look like you haven't slept in a week," Mal agreed. "Come sit down, Emma. You're swaying and it's making me nervous."

"I actually feel kind of okay," Emma remarked, as she came to sit between Mal and Lily. "This pendant is helping, I think."

"Helping, yes, but it's not a solution," Mal informed her. "It's just to take the edge off."

"I know. But it helps... and… well…"

"Well?" Mal prompted.

"Well… Maybe I won't need it forever, anyway. Regina wants to talk. She texted me and said she wants to talk. Soon."

"Somehow you don't seem that thrilled," Mal assessed from the look on Emma's face.

"I mean, it's a good thing, right? Or it could be, I guess. I need her magic and everything but… I don't know, I don't see how this can end well, you know? What if she's furious when I tell her?"

"What if she's not?" Lily suggested. "What if she's overjoyed and dumps that loser boyfriend of hers?"

"Well, isn't that worse? I mean, I really thought we had a chance at something, you know? I don't want her to be with me just because of the baby. I want someone to pick me for me, not because of the situation I'm in. I'm worth more than that, aren't I?"

"Yes, of course you are, darling," Mal agreed, nodding as she patted Emma's thigh with her hand. "I think Regina's making a mistake with Robin, and perhaps the baby might open her eyes, but you deserve more than a stay together for the child arrangement."

"So, should I meet with her then?" Emma asked, genuinely at a loss for the best course of action.

"Emma, honey, you have to tell her. At some point, the truth has to come out. When is up to you, but this has to happen eventually. You know I'll be right here if you need me, so there's nothing to worry about," Mal assured her.

"Right," Emma nodded.


Henry stayed with Emma for the next week, helping her start to get the nursery set up, in secret.

"Mom, when are you going to tell Gramps and Grandma?" Henry asked, on the fifth day. They had finished painting the room a pale shade of yellow, and were busy trying to assemble the crib.

"I tried, kid. And I chickened out. It's not that easy, you know," Emma said with a sigh.

"I know, but Hook left three days ago, and it's not fair that you have to go through all of this alone."

"I'm not alone. I have you, kid," Emma said, with a smile.

"You know what I mean," Henry insisted.

"I know, and I promise I'm not alone. Mal and Lily know, and so does your mother. And, I'm going over to your mother's house tomorrow for lunch, so you won't have to worry about me when you're hanging out with Grace, alright?"

"Fine," Henry begrudgingly agreed, "but I still think you should tell them."

"I will, kid. When I'm ready."


The next day, Emma stood nervously on Regina's doorstep, trying to work up the courage to knock. Even though Regina was expecting her, and had invited her, it was still a nerve wracking experience, considering how badly the last few times they'd been alone together had gone.

But she couldn't just stand there all day, so she knocked.

Surprisingly, Regina greeted her with a warm smile, and for a moment, Emma thought she could really do this. She could tell her, alone in Regina's home, without Robin there to interrupt, and it would all be okay.

But they weren't alone.

Emma hadn't thought to factor the children into this scenario, but when Roland came barreling down the hall to see who was at the door, Emma's heart sank.

"Come on inside, Emma," Regina insisted. "I just fed Ryleigh; she's sleeping, and lunch is almost ready."

Emma nodded, though she felt like she might cry.

"Emma, what's wrong?"

"Nothing, I just didn't expect…" she started, her eyes wandering to Roland's little face. "I thought maybe we'd be able to talk alone."

"We will. Roland can go play after lunch, and we can sit down and talk," Regina insisted. "Come on."

Emma couldn't help but feel like the outsider at a family meal as she sat down at the table. Roland chattered on and on and Regina smiled widely at him. Ryleigh was in her bassinette in the corner of the room, sleeping, but still in Emma's line of vision, as a constant reminder.

It reminded her of the first meal at any foster home, where everyone else was already a family, and she was the odd one out, just trying to figure out how she factored in. How did she factor into Regina's life now? She seemed quite content playing Mommy to Roland and Ryleigh, and Emma was sure when Henry and Robin were home, it probably felt just like a family to Regina. A house full of people and love and Emma was about to upset it all.

After lunch, Regina ushered Roland into the other room to go play, and invited Emma to join her in the living room, while she moved Ryleigh from one bassinette to another. Emma had to wonder if she'd been like this with Henry, never letting him out of her sight. She had to guess she had, and it pained her heart to wonder if she would ever be like this with their child.

"Come sit, Emma," Regina insisted, and Emma did. Regina sat down next to her, with a look of concern in her eyes. "How are you feeling? You really didn't look well the other day."

"Yeah, this pregnancy's been kinda rough," Emma admitted.

"How much time do you have left?"

"Um, I'm due mid-August," said Emma. She decided to opt out of giving her exact due date, which was August 18th, just in case Regina was some sort of math wiz, and was able to count back the weeks to the date of conception before Emma had a chance to tell her. She was sure she was being paranoid, but she also knew she had good reason to be.

"So, a while still," Regina said, with a nod. "I figured. You're not even showing yet. Has the doctor given you anything to help with the morning sickness?"

Emma frowned. Something was off here. How had Regina gone from barely speaking to her, to suddenly being so concerned? Something was very wrong.

"Um… yeah, but it didn't help. It's not… it's not a regular pregnancy, I guess. Mal says the baby's leaching off my magic. It's… draining."

"Oh," Regina said, a little more briskly this time. "Mal says. You've been spending a lot of time with her lately."

"Yeah, I guess," Emma replied. "I mean, she's Lily's mother and all. And I've been helping Lily try to figure out who her father is, so, yeah, Mal's there a lot."

"And you told her about what happened between us?"

Emma blanched. She hadn't expected that. "No, I uh… she figured it out on her own, somehow. I swear, Regina, I didn't tell her."

"I'm not mad," Regina assured her. "Mal has a way of reading people. And seeing what's going on even when they don't. And I trust her to respect our privacy."

"Right," Emma said with a nod, knowing that by respect their privacy, Regina really meant that she knew Mal would keep her mouth shut and Regina could continue on without telling Robin the truth.

Because that's what she wanted, Emma was sure.

"Listen, Emma," Regina said, with a sigh, and Emma knew whatever the reason that Regina thought they should talk, it was about to come out. "I know this can't be easy for you, with Hook leaving you while you're pregnant. And I know Neal did the same thing…"

"He didn't know," Emma pointed out, in a near whisper as she felt the trajectory of this conversation spiraling downward. She now knew what had changed: Regina felt sorry for her. She'd wanted to invite her to lunch out of pity.

"Either way… Emma, I can't imagine how you're feeling right now, but I do know what it's like to be a single mother, and raise a baby alone."

"Please, Regina, don't… don't suddenly act like everything is fine between us because you feel sorry for me," Emma said, shaking her head. She wanted to tell her it wasn't Hook abandoning her, but Robin's baby was still right there, and there were wedding books open on the coffee table and Regina sitting there, at the height of her happiness in her perfect life, offering her pity when it was so much more than that that Emma wanted.

And she could never have it.

"Emma, that's not… alright, no, you're right. I do feel bad for you, because no one should have to be in your situation. And yes, things have been rocky between us, but we're still friends, aren't we?"

Emma pondered the question in her mind. Were they? Regina certainly hadn't been acting like she was interested in Emma's friendship for a while.

"You accused me of getting pregnant to spite you," Emma reminded her.

"I didn't mean that. I was upset, and I apologized."

"You were upset because you thought I was pining over you," Emma continued.

"I know. And I'm sorry, Emma."

"Right," Emma said, taking a deep breath to work up her nerve. She had to this this. She had do, despite the baby and the wedding books and the ring on Regina's finger, she had to. "Regina, there's some-"

Ryleigh's piercing scream cut Emma off mid-sentence.

"Sorry, Emma, just one second," Regina said, jumping up immediately to pick up the baby. "There, there, little one. I've got you."

"Regina?"

Emma closed her eyes in frustration as Roland came into the room, calling for Regina's attention.

"Just a minute, Roland. I'm trying to get your sister to calm down," Regina said, bouncing the baby as she continued to cry.

"But Regina I want to show you something!" Roland insisted.

"Okay, sweetheart, just give me a minute, alright?"

Emma shook her head as she stood back up. "Hey, uh, I'm just gonna go."

"Emma, no, she'll calm down," Regina insisted.

"Yeah… well, we can talk another time. I'm kind of tired." It was a lie, but Regina seemed to buy it, as she said good bye and Emma headed back out to her car.

She got in without a backward glance and threw the car into drive, heading off in the direction of Mal's house. She wasn't in need of a magical fix, but she was in desperate need of the woman's advice.

Emma realized now, more than ever, exactly why Henry felt like an outsider in the home now, with two little children vying for all of Regina's attention. Of course, Emma knew it didn't affect how much Regina loved Henry, but it couldn't be easy for her son to watch his mother split her attention between these two children that she really barely knew.

Emma knew it was silly to be jealous on her own baby's behalf, but being pregnant and emotional, she found she couldn't help it. It shouldn't be Robin's baby that Regina was fawning over, not when she had a baby of her own on the way.

Still, Emma knew she also couldn't hold that against her, since she was the one who hadn't told her yet. She was in for another lecture from Mal, she was sure, but she didn't care. There was no future for her with Regina. Regina's future was Robin, and they could figure out how to share custody of the baby once she was born. Really, she didn't need to know right now, because Emma didn't need her.

Well, she did, but she didn't want to need her.

"How'd it go?" Mal asked, the second Emma had entered the living room. Lily wasn't there, but Emma was okay with that. Mal had been waiting for Emma to come over and fill her in on everything and Emma was a little bit grateful that she could have a little time alone with the woman who was quickly becoming her rock in all of this, even if she wasn't about to tell her what she'd been waiting to hear.

"It um…"

"You didn't tell her."

"I was about to, I swear!" Emma insisted, as she dropped down on to the couch, throwing her hands up in exasperation as Mal sat down beside her. "I was working up the nerve and then the baby started crying, and Roland ran into the room and… Mal, she already has this whole family. How am I supposed to drop this bomb on her?"

Mal let out a long sigh, nodding slowly as though she were making a silent decision in her own mind. "Emma," she said, finally, "I need to tell you something. I haven't been completely honest with you, or Lily, and… well, I suppose it's not fair to urge you to tell the truth when I haven't been."

"Oh my God," Emma said, shaking her head in disbelief. "I was right, wasn't I? About Lily and Regina… oh my God…"

"No," Mal shook her head, quickly. "No, Emma, I promise. This isn't about Regina, but it is about Lily. And you, in a way."

"Okay…"

"Emma, the reason I know so much about magical pregnancies isn't so much because it's common knowledge among practitioners of magic. It's not. It's actually extremely rare. In fact, I can only think of one other case I've ever witnessed."

"Lily."

"Yes," Mal said, with a nod. "Lily was created through magic, but not between myself and Regina. I can assure you of that, Emma, not only because the timing was wrong, but also because there is another factor involved in creating that type of magic."

"Oh, no." Emma closed her eyes, bracing herself for what was coming now. "Please don't say it."

"True love, Emma. It's the only way. Regina and I may have had fun, but we were never in love."

"Regina and I are not in love," Emma insisted. "She told you herself: it was just a drunken mistake. It wasn't love, it was just an itch that needed scratching."

"Not possible, Emma. Trust me, when I discovered myself pregnant, I scoured all the books on magic in the entire realm because I thought it wasn't possible. It took a long time, but finally I found the answer, in an ancient book of supposed myths. True love can transcend a lot of things, you know: realms, stubbornness, denial… stupidity."

"Hey!"

"I meant on Regina's behalf, darling," Mal said, with a smirk. "Regardless, it was a factor, whether either of you can see it yet. Your hearts know what your heads haven't been able to figure out yet."

Emma shrugged. "It still doesn't matter. Robin is Regina's soul mate. He's a sure thing."

"And she's clinging to that for dear life, trust me, I know."

"So this is why you're pushing me so hard to tell her, then? Not just because it's the right thing to do, but because you think we'll somehow work it all out and end up together because of true love?"

"Maybe you will and maybe you won't. True love doesn't guarantee that, Emma. But I do have another motivation in pushing you so hard. I don't want you to make the same mistake I did."

"What mistake?" Emma asked, momentarily pushing down the emotions she was feeling for herself when she saw the look of guilt and regret on Mal's face.

"I was in the same position you are in, Emma. I was about to drop a bomb that would destroy a family, and I didn't do it," Mal confessed. "Lily has - had - another mother, and I never told her. And I've got to live with that… and I have to tell Lily the truth."

"Who?" In all the journals that Emma and Lily had scoured through together, Emma hadn't really seen mention of another woman that Mal had had feelings for, much less true love.

"Her name was Briar Rose."

"Aurora's mother. That's why you had a vendetta against her family?"

"Emma… you know by now that the stories in this realm are way off the mark. But, yes, Aurora's mother. She had a husband - a King, no less - and a family, and I just couldn't do it. I never told her."

"She has… had… magic?"

"True love is magic, dear. But yes, she did. Just a little. Just enough."

"And you didn't need it like I do?"

"Oh, Emma, I was so ill, just like you. But, unlike you, I got to lay an egg, and Lily was able to gestate outside of my body, and so she couldn't leach my magic anymore."

"Ugh, I wish I could just lay an egg," Emma said, with a wry smile.

"Trust me, you don't."

"I'll just take your word on that one," Emma laughed. "But now, you've gotta tell Lily."

"I will. And you have to tell Regina."

Emma sighed, and nodded. "I will. Soon, I promise. Before the baby is born."

"When you're ready, honey. But I won't let you wait forever."

"I know. And hey, um, thanks. For everything. Seriously, Mal… I don't know what I would do without you."

Mal smiled and wrapped her arms around Emma in a tight hug. "It's all going to be alright, you know. I promise."

Emma nodded against Mal's shoulder. "If you say so."

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Chapter Text

By the time Regina had Ryleigh settled again, fed and asleep in her bassinette, and had gone off to look at the art creation Roland had made in the other room, it had been nearly an hour since Emma had left. She felt guilty that she'd invited her over to talk, only to have the conversation completely break down, but at least she'd opened up the lines of communication. She hoped that was a start, at least.

She sighed as she looked at the wedding magazines open on her coffee table, wondering if perhaps she should have put those away. She knew she should have, especially considering Hook had just left Emma alone and pregnant, but it had completely slipped her mind to do so.

A lot of things were slipping her mind these days, she realized, as she started to pick up the magazines, stacking them neatly on top of each other. Going from a home with just her and her son, to a house full of people - including two little ones who constantly needed her attention - was a difficult transition.

But this was what she wanted, wasn't it?

This was what she should have had all along, if she'd just worked up the nerve to enter that tavern in the first place, all those years ago. It was hectic now, but there was lost time to make up for, and she was sure everything would settle into place eventually, and she would start to feel like she belonged in this life.

Maybe she'd even stop wondering if she was making a huge mistake.

Regina was too lost in her thoughts to hear Henry enter the house, until he was standing in front of her in the living room.

"Henry! Oh, you surprised me," Regina said, the look of shock on her face quickly dissolving into a warm smile for her son.

"You knew I was coming home today," Henry reminded her.

"Yes, I know, I just lost track of time, I suppose. How's your mother?"

"What do you mean?" Henry asked, furrowing his brow in confusion at the question.

"Oh, I had just assumed that you'd gone back to Emma's house before coming here," Regina said, with a shrug, as she dropped the stack of magazines onto the coffee table again. She'd find a permanent home for them later, she supposed.

"I did," Henry said, the confused look not leaving his face.

"Emma went home because she was tired," Regina explained.

"Uh, no," Henry said, shaking his head. "She's at Mal's."

"Oh," Regina bristled. At Mal's. She should have guessed. "I had just assumed she went home."

Henry shrugged. "She texted and said she was hanging out there for a bit, unless I wanted her to come home. I said I was headed here anyway, so she didn't need to."

"I see," Regina said, with a brisk nod. "Well, I'm going to go start on supper, so it's ready when Robin gets home."

Henry headed up to his room as Regina made her way into the kitchen, and uneasy feeling rising in her gut. Had Emma really left her house to run back over to Mal's? Leaving because she was tired made sense, but now Regina had to wonder if she'd made her uncomfortable. Or maybe Emma was just done with her all together.

She guessed she couldn't blame her if she was. She hadn't exactly been the kindest person to her in the past two months, since Thanksgiving. And, of course, Emma saw right through her intentions today. She should have known Emma wouldn't want her sympathy for her current situation. She hated being pitied, too.

Regina tried to push thoughts of Emma from her mind as she got started on dinner, just as she did every night. It had been easy when she only cooked for herself and Henry, but cooking for four was a challenge. Roland was an extremely picky eater, which meant she had to prepare a separate meal for him, and tend to the baby at the same time.

"The baby," Regina said, aloud, realizing she'd left the baby in the other room. She was still sleeping, of course, but Regina hated to have her too far away. She headed back to the living room to move Ryleigh's portable bassinet into the kitchen, so she could keep her close by while she cooked.

She knew she was being ridiculous, but she couldn't help it. She'd yet to overcome the guilt she felt over sending Zelena back to Oz, and forcibly separating Ryleigh from her birth mother. She knew it was the right thing to do, but she still couldn't help but worry that Ryleigh would know she was missing out on an important person in her life, and she did everything she could think of to compensate for that.

Ryleigh may be Robin's daughter, but she was also Regina's biological niece, and it terrified her that the child might grow to resent her one day for sending her mother away.

It had been Robin who had suggested that they might as well let Ryleigh think that Regina was her mother, right from the start, but Regina had vehemently refused. There were going to be enough hard questions to answer down the road, without worrying about Ryleigh having to deal with learning that everything she'd grown up on was a lie.

Regina sighed as she stirred the sauce she was working on on the stove. Wasn't it supposed to be easier than this? Robin was supposed to be her soul mate. Didn't that mean things should be less complicated? Despite the engagement, everything was still so messy, and Regina couldn't help but feel like she was a square peg trying to fit into a round hole, trying to fill the role of wife and mother to a pre-existing family.

Deep down, she was sure Henry felt the same way too. It had just been him and her for so long, and now he suddenly had a new father figure and two pseudo-siblings in the mix. Really, it was no surprise he wanted to spend all his time with Emma these days. After all, even her new baby would be Henry's biological sibling. She had spent his whole life trying to convince herself that biology wasn't important, and though she knew that being adopted didn't make Henry see her as less of his mother, she had to wonder if he would ever truly accept Robin, Roland and Ryleigh as his family.


On Mal's urging, Emma had stopped by her parents' loft when she left her house. She'd offered to stay for moral support when Mal told Lily the truth, but Mal had insisted this was something she needed to do on her own, just mother and daughter, and had sent Emma off to visit her own mother, after she'd left things so awkwardly the last time.

When Emma arrived, she found only Snow at the loft, as David had taken Neal out for a drive to help him settle down.

"Hey, honey," Snow greeted with a smile, from where she sat at the kitchen island, apparently pouring over some handwritten notes in a binder open in front of her.

"Hey, Mom," Emma said, crossing the room to join her mother. "What are you working on?"

"Plans. Maybe you can help me," Snow replied, turning the papers to show Emma, who sat down beside her. "I'm thinking we should probably throw some sort of bridal shower for Regina."

Emma rolled her eyes. "Mom, I don't want to talk about Regina's wedding right now."

"What? Why? Emma, this is exciting. Regina's finally marrying someone she loves. I was at her first wedding, you know, and she was miserable."

"Yeah," Emma said, closing the binder without looking at the notes her mother had made so far.

"Emma, what is going on with you? You're not jealous that Regina's getting married, are you?"

"What? Mom! How could you think that?"

"Because of Hook… Emma, it's been two months. At some point, honey, you have to move past this."

"This isn't about Hook! Why does everyone think everything is about him? Yeah, it's been two months, I'm over it. I'm the one who ended things with him, you know? And he's off to God knows where and probably never coming back and I'm over it. He's not my entire life, you know," Emma said, the words coming out faster than she could even think about them.

"Whoa, Emma, sorry. I just assumed… you've been so closed off since it happened, I just…" Snow drifted off, not sure how to continue. As much as things had improved between herself and Emma, she still found she had no idea how to handle her or what to say when she was upset.

"It's not your fault, Mom," Emma said, quietly, as she regained her composure. "I have been closed off. And I haven't been telling you everything. I haven't been telling you anything, actually."

"Okay. So tell me. Whatever it is, Emma, it's eating away at you, I can see that."

"I know."

"I'm your mother, Emma, please, whatever it is, just let me help you."

Emma closed her eyes and bit her lip as she nodded. "I slept with Regina."

"What?" Snow gasped.

"On Thanksgiving," Emma continued. The confession was out, she needed to keep her momentum. "I walked her back to her house, we started drinking, and it just kind of happened. I'm not jealous of Regina, not the way you think… ugh, I don't even know how to explain this. I thought… I thought there was actually a chance at… I don't know, something more between us. I broke up with Hook, and the next day she made it very clear that it was all a huge mistake."

"Emma," Snow said, not sure what exactly to say.

"Mom, listen, you can't tell anyone. Regina doesn't want anyone to know. It will ruin everything between her and Robin."

"Oh, Emma, I'm so sorry," Snow said, once she'd regained some of her composure. "As hard as it is for me to reconcile my daughter and my former stepmother, I know that you and Regina always had a special kind of connection. I can see why her getting married is difficult for you."

Emma shook her head. "Mom, there's more."

"Oh, God, Emma, what?"

"I'm…" Emma started, letting out a big sigh. It was now or never. She had to do this. "I'm pregnant."

Snow gaped for a moment, as the news caught her completely off-guard. "Oh," she said, finally. "Oh, Emma, that's wonderful. It's wonderful, isn't it?"

In spite of herself, Emma actually had to smile. "Yeah, Mom, it is. And Henry knows, and he's happy about it. It's… it's a good thing. I think. It will be."

"Of course it's a good thing!" Snow said, excitedly, throwing her arms around Emma. "And Emma, don't you worry about anything, alright? You're not going to be alone in this, I promise. You've got your family by your side. Everything's going to be fine."

Emma nodded against Snow's shoulder as she hugged her back tightly. Internally, she debated on telling her the rest, but decided against it. That was a lot of information for one night, she supposed, the rest could wait.

Still, she wondered how long she could keep telling herself that before even she wasn't convinced.


It was late by the time Emma made it home that night. She'd stayed at her parents' for dinner, and had relayed the good news to her father, who had been just as thrilled as Snow, though she opted to leave out the night with Regina when speaking to David. As awkward as that had been to tell her mother, she was sure telling her father would have been a thousand times worse.

Secretly, she hoped that Snow would just tell him, knowing that she'd be itching to tell somebody, and Emma wouldn't have to worry about it.

She had just finally dropped down to her couch when there was a loud, urgent knock at the door. Emma groaned and got back up to her feet, heading in the direction of the incessant banging. She threw the door open, to find a red-eyed, puffy cheeked Lily standing there.

"Can I come in?"

Emma nodded and stepped back, letting Lily in the house. She should have known that Mal's confession wasn't going to go over well, even if Mal had seemed oddly confident that it would. Emma still knew Lily better than she did, and she knew how desperately Lily had wanted to find out about her other parent.

"She lied about everything!" Lily cried, as she dropped down to the seat Emma had just vacated on the couch.

"I know," Emma said, gently, as she took the seat next to Lily.

"She knew the whole fucking time and she let me waste my time looking anyway! She lied about not remembering, and lied about it happening when she was a dragon! Emma!"

"Lily, I'm so sorry."

Lily nodded as she attempted to sniff back the new batch of tears forming. "She said she let me look through her journals and keep searching because she knew it would be a dead end, and she figured I would give up eventually. Who the fuck does that?"

"She was ashamed, Lily. She didn't want you to know how badly she fucked up," Emma attempted to explain, while imagining her own daughter, twenty some-odd years down the road, in Lily's position.

"What difference would it even make? Briar Rose died… it's not like I will ever get to meet her. And she never even knew I existed!"

"That's why she's ashamed, Lily. She let you down and she let her down, and there's nothing she can do to fix it now."

Lily nodded, as she wiped fresh tears from her cheeks. "She said I'm the product of true love, like that was some sort of consolation."

"So am I," Emma replied, "but it didn't stop me from having a fucked up life, either."

"Yeah," Lily sighed. "Emma, listen, I know you need her for like magic and whatever for your baby, and I'm not gonna ask you to stop seeing her, but… I can't right now. I need some space and… I don't know, just don't tell her how I am, if she asks, okay?"

"Lily… you're just trying to hurt her because she hurt you."

Lily shrugged. "It's the only thing I know how to do - hurt people. You should know that by now. Apparently, it's in my genes."

"I don't believe that. I know it's hard. I've been where you are, remember? I know what it's like to envision these perfect parents as a kid, and when you finally meet them, you find out they're not. They're just people. My parents lied to me, too. But, having them is still better than not having them."

Lily sniffed, and pondered that for a moment, before nodding. "Maybe. But right now all I really wanna do is get in my car and drive as far from here as I can and never look back."

"Yeah. I know how that feels, too. But you're not going to do that. You have family here, and it's going to pull you back."

"I don't have family. I just have a mother."

"And a sister," Emma pointed out. "Aurora. And a nephew."

Lily wiped her face again. "Yeah, I guess I do. I never really thought about that."

"Like it or not, Lily, you belong here. You have roots here. And you can't leave, because I need you."

"Emma Swan admitting to needing someone," Lily said, with a small laugh. "I never thought I'd see the day."

"Shut up."

Lily smirked and nudged Emma with her shoulder. "Can I crash here tonight? For old time's sake?"

"Yeah. Maybe you can help me sort out this shit show I call a life, too."

"It's not that bad, Emma. For either of us, I guess. We'll figure it out."

"Yeah, we will."

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Chapter Text

Emma groaned when she heard the knock at her front door. She knew it was late in the morning, probably closer to noon, but Lily had kept her up well past midnight the last two nights, and she had really needed the sleep. Lately, Lily had been opting to stay at the little house her mother was renting, rather than the inn, and after their argument, she hadn't wanted to go back to either place, and had opted to stay with Emma instead, until she cooled down.

Emma peered across to the other side of the bed where Lily was still asleep, dark hair cascading around her pillow. There was a guest bedroom, but late night chats usually ended with Lily passing out in Emma's bed, which didn't really bother either of them.

The person at the door knocked again, and Emma nudged Lily's leg with her foot under the blankets.

"Lily!" she said, in a loud whisper. "Wake up!"

"No," Lily moaned, trying to scoot away from Emma's foot.

"Wake up and get the door," Emma insisted, kicking Lily in the shin this time.

"Ow! No! You get the door," Lily said, not opening her eyes. "It's your house."

"But I'm pregnant!" Emma whined. "Seriously, Lily, go answer it and tell whoever it is that I'm sleeping."

"What if it's my mom?"

"It's not!"

"How do you know?"

"Because she doesn't knock, she just poofs herself into my living room and starts yelling for me. So go get the door."

"No," Lily said, as the person knocked, yet again. "They'll go away."

"They're not going away. It's my house and I make the rules, so get the door."

Lily smirked as she opened her eyes, finally. "What are you, ten?"

Emma shrugged as she smiled and closed her eyes again, knowing that she'd won.

"Fine," Lily said, as she tossed the covers back and swung her legs over the side of the bed. "But I'm not putting on pants."

Emma cracked one eye open to assess Lily's state of dress. Her black Guns n Roses t-shirt was more than long enough to cover all the essentials. "Whatever," Emma muttered, closing her eyes. "Just get the damn door."

Lily tossed her pillow at Emma, before getting off the bed and heading down the stairs. She had never been one to particularly care how she presented herself, and in this little town where she knew almost no one, she really didn't care that her legs were bare and her hair was a mess. She just wanted to tell whoever was at the door to fuck off so she could go back to sleep.

"I'm co-oming!" Lily yelled, when there was yet another knock when she reached the bottom of the stairs. She flung the door open, and nearly snorted in surprise when she saw Regina standing there, her fist in the air as if she were about to knock again, and her mouth gaping open in surprise. "Oh. It's you. What do you want?"

Regina stiffened at Lily's crass greeting and the fact that she was barely dressed and seemed to have no issue answering Emma's door like that. "I, uh, Henry's been trying to call Emma and she's not answering. He asked me to come over and check on her."

Lily shrugged. "She's fine. She needs to sleep. She's pregnant, you know."

"I'm aware," Regina replied, unsure of how to take Lily's tone of voice. "Is she sleeping now?"

"Yep, so you should probably just leave. And, you know, leave her alone and shit."

"I'm sorry, but is there a reason you feel the need to speak to me in this tone of voice?" Regina asked, crossing her arms in front of her chest defensively.

Lily shrugged again, trying to act like she didn't care one way or the other, but she couldn't help the smirk that was forming on her lips knowing that she was already getting under Regina's skin. Served her right, thinking she could ditch Emma after a one-night stand, in Lily's opinion, though she knew she couldn't actually tell Regina that.

"You treat my best friend like shit," Lily offered as an explanation.

"Lily, stop," Emma said from behind her. When she'd heard Regina's voice, she'd decided it was better to get up and deal with her herself, rather than subject her to Lily. Lily was fiery on a good day, and with all the pent up anger she had toward Mal at the moment, combined with the fact that this was the first conversation she'd had with Regina since Emma had told her the truth, she couldn't see this ending well.

On one hand, she liked that Lily was so eager to tell Regina off for her, but on the other, she didn't want to make things between them worse. The situation was messy enough as it was, and she didn't need Regina to go into bitch mode again. She wanted to be able to be civil with her.

Lily turned and smiled at Emma. "I got this, Em. Go back to bed, I'll be right there."

It was impossible for Regina to miss the over exaggerated wink that Lily shot in Emma's direction, though Emma herself was looking at Regina.

"Regina, tell Henry I'm fine. I forgot my phone in the living room last night - pregnancy brain or something I guess - so I never heard him call me. I'll call him back tonight," Emma insisted, grabbing her phone off the end table by the couch for proof that she was telling the truth.

"Right," Regina replied, her eyes darting back and forth between Emma and Lily. Emma, at least, had the decency to wear shorts under her AC/DC shirt, but her hair was in just as much disarray as Lily's was, and Regina suddenly wanted to be anywhere but here. "I'll talk to you later, Emma."

"Bye," said Emma, as Lily slammed the door in Regina's face. Emma shook her head. "That wasn't necessary."

But Lily was already laughing as she walked back over to Emma. "She totally thinks we banged."

Emma rolled her eyes and let out an exasperated sigh. "Ugh, Lily! Why do you have to do this to me?" she whined, but she couldn't help the smile forming on her lips, either. It wouldn't have been her intention to let Regina think that, but she'd spent enough time being jealous since their night together. Maybe it was fun to make Regina a little jealous, too.

"We could totally play that up, you know? Serves the bitch right," Lily said, her eyes twinkling with excitement.

"No!"

"Why?"

"Because… for one, I'm trying to re-form some sort of civil relationship with Regina, because I have to tell her the truth and we have to figure out a way to co-parent this baby. And two, you just want a distraction so you don't have to think about your mother and everything else."

"Is that so bad?" Lily asked, honestly.

"Yes, sadly. We're not kids anymore, Lily. We can't just run away when things get hard."

"No, actually, we can."

Emma sighed and nodded. "We can, but I don't want to."


Talking to Regina became more strained in the weeks following her unexpected visit to Emma's house. Lily spent two weeks there, before returning to the inn for another two, and finally reconciling with her mother. Emma was glad for that, but also a little dismayed as it meant she was alone in her house, once again.

Emma's own mother tried her best to fill that gap, though. While she wasn't around all the time - especially on the nights where Emma didn't sleep and instead kept herself up all night panicking over the situation and the fact that she still hadn't told Regina the truth - she kept Emma distracted enough during the day, baby clothes shopping and giving her baby books to read. She even seemed to have put plans for Regina's bridal shower to the back burner, in favour of planning a baby shower for Emma.

Henry had spent that month splitting his time fairly equally between both his mothers' homes. On one hand, he wanted to be near Emma and help her with the baby's room and everything else as much as possible, but on the other, he didn't want to be pushed out of the newly forming family unit at Regina's house, either.

By the beginning of April, Emma was entering her second trimester, and finally growing a little baby bump. It wasn't enough that anyone would notice, which she was grateful for since no one else in the town knew yet, but it was enough to make everything feel real. She really did have Regina's baby growing inside her.

And she really was going to have to tell her.

It was late on a Thursday night, while Emma sat in the rocking chair of the now-finished nursery, her hand lightly on her little baby bump, and staring at nothing in particular, that she heard her front door open. It was late for her mother to make a surprise visit, and Henry was supposed to be at Regina's until Sunday, Mal always poofed inside, so she guessed it must be Lily.

"Mom?" she heard Henry's voice from downstairs, sounding a little strained, and she jumped up right away.

"Henry?" she called, as she came down the stairs. "Kid? What's wrong? Did something happen?"

"No, nothing," Henry said, with a shrug, as he dropped his bag to the ground. "I just wanted to come here early."

"Kid. Talk to me."

Henry sighed and headed into the living room, dropping down onto the couch. Emma quickly followed suit.

"Kid?" Emma prompted again, when Henry didn't start talking right away.

"Look, Mom, I know you've got a lot on your plate already, but I don't know who else to talk to about this," Henry started.

"Talk to me, Henry. What is it? Girl trouble?" she suggested. She knew he and Grace were getting closer, and she couldn't imagine what else would have him looking so distraught.

"No! No, it's nothing like that, it's just… I'm worried about my mom."

"Your mom? Why?" Emma asked, surprised.

"She just… she doesn't seem like herself. She seems… unhappy," Henry explained. "She was really upset the other day, saying how sorry she is that she doesn't have as much time for me as she used to. I told her it's okay, but she still seems stressed out. And she and Robin have been fighting. A lot."

Emma nodded slowly, taking that all in. She hated that she actually liked hearing that Regina and Robin were fighting. "Well, a wedding and going from a single mom of one to a married mother of three has got to be a big adjustment," Emma acknowledged.

"Yeah, it probably is. The wedding though, that's what they fight about most. I don't think my mom wants a wedding at all."

Emma narrowed her eyes. "Why would she accept the proposal then?"

Henry shrugged. "I mean, I guess she wants to marry him, but she doesn't want to do the whole wedding thing. Robin keeps bringing her all these magazines and stuff and she keeps putting them in drawers and she doesn't call back the wedding planners. She won't agree on a wedding date, either, and it's causing problems."

Emma let out a long sigh. She realized that in a month of barely speaking to Regina again, she really had no idea what was going on in the other woman's life. It was easy to lament her own situation, but really, she was excited about the baby, even if she was scared as hell to tell Regina the truth about her. Things were actually starting to look up for her, and she had no idea that Regina's life was falling apart around her.

Or, at least, that was what she was gathering from Henry's assessment.

"It can't be easy," Emma said, "and she's kind of been on her own. Mal spends most of her time with Lily and baby stuff has kind of been monopolizing all of my and your grandmother's time."

"Yeah, and my mom doesn't have any other friends."

Emma swallowed, realizing that Regina had been going through so much of her own shit that Emma wasn't even aware of. If she could have just been honest with her from the start, they could have worked through the baby thing, and Emma could have been there for her now. She didn't want to be the one helping Regina with the wedding, but she didn't want to be a stranger in Regina's life, either.

"I don't want you to worry about her, Henry. Go home tonight, and I'll call her and we'll get together, alright? This is adult stuff and you don't need to be worrying about it, okay? You only get so much time being a kid; let me worry about your mom."

"Thanks, Mom," Henry said, with a relieved smile.

Emma nodded and gave him a quick hug, before he headed back out the door. The moment he was gone, she grabbed her phone and called Regina.

"Emma! Have you seen Henry? He took off…"

"He was just here, Regina, and he's on his way home," Emma assured her. "But that's not what I called for."

There was a pause on the other end of the line, before Regina spoke again. "Okay. Why did you call?"

"Because I want to get together. Soon."

"You do?"

"Yeah… I mean, you asked me a while ago if we were still friends, right? I still want to be, if you do."

"Yes. Emma, I'd like that."

Emma smiled as she hung up the phone, realizing that was about the most positive interaction she'd had with Regina in over three months. Maybe it was a start. It wasn't too late to tell Regina the truth now. It wasn't too late to salvage some sort of friendship from the ruins.

Or so she hoped.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Chapter Text

Regina and Emma sat in awkward silence in Emma's living room the following afternoon. She'd offered Regina coffee, and had run an internal monologue through her head the entire time she was making it. She knew she just needed to suck it up and say it; quick and painless, like ripping off a Band-aid. But it wasn't going to be quick and painless, she knew. It was going to be difficult and messy. But it needed to happen.

"That's an interesting necklace," Regina said, finally. The crystal pendant had caught her eye earlier, and she was quite sure the glean wasn't coming from reflected light, but rather from inside the crystal itself.

"Oh," Emma said, instinctively putting her hand over the pendant, as she often did. "Mal gave it to me."

"It's enchanted?"

"Yeah. It helps with my morning sickness," Emma explained, opting to leave out just how.

"Well, you do look healthier lately," Regina remarked. "I had just assumed that was a result of Lily in your life."

Emma cringed. "Regina, look… there's nothing going on between me and Lily," Emma said, though she wasn't sure why she felt the need to assure Regina of that. It wasn't like they were a couple, and it wasn't like Regina wasn't engaged to someone else. Emma knew there was nothing Regina could say if she were in a relationship, but she still felt the need to assure her that she wasn't. "She's just my friend."

Regina nodded, even if she looked less than convinced. She wasn't sure why the thought of Emma with Lily was getting to her, but it was. "Speaking of Lily," Regina said, deciding perhaps it was best to change the trajectory of the conversation, "Mal told me about Briar Rose. She told me that she told you, too."

"Yeah," Emma said, nodding. Mal had forgotten to mention that she'd told Regina, but she guessed she should be grateful, since at least now she wouldn't have to explain the concept of a magical babies to her.

"Magical pregnancy," Regina said, sighing. "I had no idea such a thing existed."

"Apparently it's kind of rare. True love and all that."

Regina snorted. "Yes, true love. Some true love - she didn't even tell her."

Emma felt her defenses going up almost instantly. "Well, I mean, Briar Rose already had a family. It would have torn them apart."

"Yes, so Mal said. But still… how could she keep that to herself? Family or not, Briar Rose had a right to know."

Emma swallowed hard. "I don't think it's fair to judge if you've never been in her situation," Emma pointed out.

"The situation is irrelevant," Regina said, dismissively. "I know it was impossible for your to tell Neal, but this would have been like not telling Hook when you had the chance."

"I don't think that's a great comparison," Emma said, quietly.

"No, I suppose it's not. I'm sorry, Emma, I shouldn't have brought him up."

"It's fine," Emma said, with a shrug. "Doesn't matter. I didn't invite you over to talk about me, anyway."

"Oh?"

"Yeah, I uh… well, we haven't talked in a long time, and I just wanted to know how you are?"

"Busy," Regina offered, as an attempt to excuse the real reason she hadn't called Emma since the morning that Lily had answered her door for her. "Three kids and wedding plans, you know."

"Yeah. How's that going, by the way? The wedding planning?" Emma asked, grateful that Regina had offered her the perfect segue.

"It's, um… Robin wants to get married this summer, but I want to hold off until the fall, and it's causing some friction."

"You want to hold off?'

"Yes. You're due in August, and a new sibling and a mother getting married is a lot of change for Henry all at once, isn't it? Your due date isn't negotiable, but the wedding date is."

"Right. Makes sense," Emma agreed. She was hoping Regina would have cited cold feet as her reasoning, but she guessed things were so strained between them at this point, that even if that were a reason, Regina wouldn't tell her.

Emma half listened as Regina talked about Ryleigh and Roland and Henry, and she noted that Robin and the wedding didn't come up again, even once. She half listened until her phone went off, and she grabbed it from her pocket.

"Oh, it's my mom," Emma said, sighing almost in relief for a ticket out of this awkward one-sided conversation. "She's throwing me a baby shower, and she wants to go over some stuff."

"Oh, okay," Regina said, with a quick nod. "I should be getting back to work, anyway."

"Yeah, um… Henry and I were going to go to the diner tonight with my parents. You should come. I mean, if you want to," Emma offered.

Regina smiled. "Robin's taking the kids to the Merry Men's camp tonight so, yes, I'll be there."

Emma smiled. "Okay, yeah. I'll see you then," she said, realizing this could be the perfect time to break the news to everyone, all at once. It would be better to have her parents and Henry there, just in case Regina didn't take it well. At least she'd have people on her side, and without Robin or his children interrupting.


Regina was on her way back to work when she ran into the last person she'd expected to see around Storybrooke again.

"Hook," she said, taken by surprise. "You're back."

Hook offered a shrug in greeting. "I needed to see Emma," he said.

"Well, I should think so, all things considered."

"What do you mean by that, Your Majesty?" Hook asked, his voice dripping with sarcasm.

Regina rolled her eyes. "Give it a rest, pirate. I know about the baby. It's about time you stepped up and took some responsibility, for once."

Hook looked dumbfounded as he watched Regina walk away.


"Swan, where are you?"

Emma cringed when she heard Hook's voice on the phone. "Hook. You're back?"

"Yes, I'm back. A month out sailing on the Jolly Roger, and I still couldn't get you out of my head, love. I had to come back. And, from what I've heard, I'm sure I've been on your mind, too."

"What are you talking about?"

"Well, I've just run into Regina…"

Emma's heart dropped into her stomach. "No. No no," she muttered, though she knew it was too much to hope that Regina hadn't let it slip out.

"Where are you?"

"Working," Emma lied. "Listen, we'll get together tomorrow, alright? And I'll explain everything."

"Tomorrow? Swan-"

"Gotta go!" Emma said, quickly ending the call and dropping her head into her hands. She had really been counting on Hook being gone for good, though she was quite sure once he found out that she was expecting a baby with the former Evil Queen, that really would be the case.


Emma knew by now she should stop expecting anything to work out for her.

After an afternoon of baby shower planning with her mother, she'd gone to the diner early to satisfy her craving for dill pickles before everyone met her there for dinner.

"Swan."

"Shit," Emma mumbled under her breath, before turning to see Hook walking up behind her. "Are you wearing the same clothes you left in?"

"What?" Hook asked, looking at his clothing, confused, before changing the subject. "Emma, we need to talk."

"No, we really don't," Emma insisted, shaking her head. "Not now."

"Emma, Regina told me about the baby."

Of course she did. Emma closed her eyes, trying to find her center, as her hand instinctively found the crystal around her neck.

"Swan, you should have told me. I would have never left you alone."

"Killian, it's… it's not your problem. You should have stayed gone."

"Emma, I may be a pirate, but I still have some integrity, and enough decency not to leave the woman who's carrying my child!" Hook insisted.

Emma cringed as she watched her mother enter the diner with Regina, from the corner of her eye. Her father and Henry weren't there yet, but she knew they'd be close behind.

Emma heard her mother ask Regina to get them a booth, before stepping over to Emma's side. "Hook. You're back," Snow said, curtly.

"Mom-" Emma attempted, before Hook cut her off.

"Snow, I've only just been made aware of Emma's condition, and I want you to know, I plan to do right by her."

"Oh my God, Killian, stop," Emma insisted. "Please, just go home and we'll talk tomorrow. I really need to talk to my parents and Regina right now."

"Wait, Swan, let me finish," Hook said, keeping his attention focused on Snow. "Please know, I have every intention of being a father to this child, and when your husband gets here, I'm going to ask him for Emma's hand in marriage."

Emma blanched.

"Just stop, alright? I can't deal with this right now! I'm not… oh my God I'm not going to marry you… we'll talk later, privately," Emma insisted, hoping this would be the end of it and Hook would take the not-so-subtle hint and back off.

And she should have known by now that backing off wasn't in his nature.

"Swan, this is my child, too."

"It's not! The baby isn't yours!" The words were out of her mouth before she could even process that she was saying them, and it only took a split second to register that the entire diner had gone silent. Everyone had heard.

Emma felt like she might puke, or pass out, as she looked up and her eyes met Regina's face - her dark eyes were wide with shock and her mouth was half open - and she knew in an instant that Regina had figured it all out.

So this was how she was going to find out the truth, and Emma knew it was all her fault.

"Emma," Snow said, tentatively, attempting to put a hand on her daughter's shoulder, and that was all it took for Emma to realize that she needed to get the hell out of there. Now.

In a poof of white smoke, she disappeared, landing herself in the center of her living room. Her heart was racing and she couldn't catch her breath and she knew right away that poofing was a bad idea. She hadn't used any magic in over a month, and that little bit was all it took for her to be reeling. She grabbed the crystal pendant around her neck, trying to grasp at what little of Regina's magic was left in there, but it wasn't helping.

Her head was spinning as a swirl of purple smoke erupted in front of her, and Regina materialized before.

"Regina, I-" Emma breathed out, not sure exactly what she could possibly say now. Suddenly, she wanted to kick herself for every missed opportunity along the way. She'd had months to tell her the truth, and now she couldn't think of any excuse why she hadn't all along. She'd had good reasons, hadn't she? If she had, she couldn't remember them now, and the look of hurt and betrayal on Regina's face was surely going to do her in.

"It's mine, isn't it?" Regina asked, though her voice still resounded with utter disbelief.

All Emma could do was nod.

"I counted back from mid-August, you know, which puts your date of conception somewhere around Thanksgiving. I had assumed that just meant you were still sleeping with Hook at the same time."

"I wasn't," Emma admitted, feebly. "Not for a couple months before that. I told you things were strained."

Regina shook her head. "Mal was going on and on about magical pregnancies and all I could think was 'Emma would have told me', because I really believed that you would have. Then you invited me to your house and I even brought it up and you still didn't tell me, so I was sure I was wrong."

"I'm sorry."

"How long have you known?"

"Regina-"

"How long have you known that it's mine? How. Long."

Emma closed her eyes and shook her head. This was going to be bad and she knew it. She was barely keeping it together as it was and all she wanted to do was reach out and grab Regina and let her magic take this sick and disoriented feeling away.

But she couldn't do that. Not now.

"Right from the start," Emma said, ashamed of herself as the words came out.

"The start?"

"Right from the day Whale confirmed I was pregnant," she elaborated. "He gave me the date of conception and I knew it had to be you. I mean, I didn't believe it at first but then I talked to Mal and-"

"You told Mal. You couldn't tell me but you could tell Mal? You didn't even know her!"

"She figured it out herself," Emma clarified. "She… sensed it. She sensed the baby and your magic and she figured it out. She confirmed it for me."

"So she knew from the start, too," Regina said, lifting her fingers to the bridge of her nose as if she were warding off an impending headache. "Two of the only people I thought I could trust in this world and you both kept this from me?"

"She didn't want me to," Emma said, quickly. She knew it was her who had screwed up and she didn't want to throw Mal under the bus. "She wanted me to tell you."

"So it was just you who wanted to keep it from me then?"

"No! I wanted to tell you… I tried, Regina, I-"

"You didn't try! You let me think it was Hook's child!"

Emma shook her head, and immediately regretted it when she started feeling nauseous again. "No, I tried, but there was always something. I was sick, and you wouldn't talk to me, and then Robin and your engagement and… I was about to tell you that afternoon at your house and then the baby started crying and… I lost my nerve."

"You lost your nerve? Emma, my God, you could have texted it to me and it would have been a better way to find out than this."

"I know! I didn't want you to find out like this, I swear!" Emma put her hand on her belly as she felt an unfamiliar pressure. She scrunched up her face in confusion at the strange feeling.

"What? What is it?" Regina asked, her voice quickly changing from angry to concerned.

"The baby reacts to your energy when your pissed," Emma said, swallowing hard as she felt a sharp pain in her abdomen. "This happened in the bathroom at the diner on Christmas Eve, too."

Regina rolled her eyes, clearly not buying it. "Of course it did. Another missed opportunity, right?"

"Regina, stop!" Emma insisted, grabbing her belly with her other hand as the pain intensified. "Something's wrong."

Regina hesitated for a moment, but she knew it wouldn't be in Emma's nature to pretend something was wrong with the baby when it wasn't. She reached for Emma's arms to lead her toward the couch. "Breathe Emma. Sit down. Tell me what's happening."

Emma couldn't get the words out as she doubled over in pain, her head nearly dropping to her knees as she sat down on the couch. "I need… I need…" she whispered, clutching at Regina's hands and trying to get at her magic. She could feel it entering her, but it wasn't taking the pain away. Something was very, very wrong.

"What do you need, Emma?" Regina's voice was filling with panic as she realized she had no idea how to help.

"I need Mal," Emma said, finally, not releasing Regina's hands from the death grip she had on them. "Something's wrong!"

"I need to get you to a doctor," Regina said, shaking her head.

"No! I just need Mal," Emma insisted, but the pain was only intensifying, and she thought better of that. "Hospital," she managed to squeak out, right before she felt the purple smoke engulfing her.

She blinked as she reappeared in a seat in the emergency room, and Regina was already up, on her way to the triage nurse, demanding that Emma see Dr. Whale immediately.

Emma watched her out of the corner of her eye as she pulled her phone out of her pocket. She didn't trust her voice at the moment, so she shot Mal a text instead: Hospital. I think I'm miscarrying.

It was mere moments before Regina was back at her side, and a nurse was there with a wheelchair, urging Emma to get in.

Emma gasped as she stood to make the transition from her seat to the wheelchair, feeling a wetness between her legs. She looked down, and sure enough, there was blood on her jeans. "No, no, no…" she whispered, mostly to herself, as she shook her head in disbelief. This couldn't be happening.

"It's okay, Emma," Regina attempted to reassure her as she followed the nurse pushing the wheelchair. "Whale's on his way. Everything will be fine."

Emma didn't respond as she felt another sharp pain in her belly, and winced again. She wasn't sure if this was a coincidence, or a direct result of Regina's anger, but she was sure she was losing her baby.

Emma felt herself going into autopilot, unable to actually think about anything, as the nurse helped her strip down and get into a hospital gown, and up onto the hospital bed just as Whale was entering the room. She was vaguely aware of Regina's presence in the room, but she couldn't focus on anything but how much pain she was in, and the distinct words "spontaneous abortion" leaving Whale's mouth.

This was real. This was happening. She was about to lose the baby and she'd likely lose Regina too. Even if Regina was worried about the baby now, she would certainly still be pissed at Emma when this was all over… perhaps even more so than she already was, and Emma couldn't imagine both of them having to deal with this loss on their own.

Then again, Regina was only losing something she'd just learned mere minutes ago was even hers at all. Emma had been making plans, thinking about names, and even had an entire nursery ready to go. Maybe she'd gotten too far ahead of herself.

"There's nothing you can do?" Emma heard Regina ask, and she closed her eyes as she heard Whale offer his apologies, and offer to return with some painkillers.

"I don't want painkillers," Emma managed to choke out, once Whale had exited the room. Only Regina and the nurse monitoring Emma remained now.

"Emma," Regina sighed, stepping over to the bed as if she'd only just remembered that Emma was there. Emma knew she was imagining that, but she couldn't help but feel incredibly alone at the moment.

"I don't want painkillers!" Emma insisted, again. "I want my baby." That was all she could manage before the tears started, and within seconds her body was wracked with sobs.

"I know," Regina whispered, gently, as she wrapped her arms around Emma's shoulders and hugged her close. It was less than comforting, though, since Emma could feel Regina's magic once again, and was painfully aware that it wasn't helping in the least.

Emma didn't look up as she heard the door open again, assuming it was Whale with the painkillers

"What the hell's going on?"

Emma's heart skipped a beat a Mal's voice. She'd almost forgotten the text that she'd just sent, but just hearing her voice but Emma slightly at ease. Mal would know what to do.

"She's miscarrying," Regina explained, so Emma didn't have to. "Whale said there's nothing he can do to stop it."

Mal nodded and stepped over to Emma, placing her hand on Emma's little baby bump.

"I still feel her," Mal said, more to herself than anyone in the room as she quickly pondered the options.

"Can you stop it?" Emma asked, hopefully.

Mal shook her head. "No, but we're gonna try the next best thing. Lay back," Mal instructed, before turning to Regina. "You ready for a long overdue magic lesson?"

Regina let go of Emma so she could lay back on the bed, looking at Mal in utter confusion. "What are you going to do?"

"Not me. You. You made this baby, Regina, and now it's time to make sure she's ready to come into this world," Mal explained, putting her hands flat, hovering just inches over Emma's belly, and Emma cringed, knowing that if Regina hadn't just found out the way she did, that would have been how she found out the truth. "Follow my lead."

Emma closed her eyes as she felt first Mal's magic, then Regina's, over her belly. She didn't quite know what to expect, but her eyes shot open again as she felt and even more intense pain in her belly. She let out a sharp cry, and then watched as her belly grew before her eyes.

It hurt like nothing Emma had ever experienced, but it only took a second to realize what Mal had meant: she couldn't stop Emma from miscarrying, but she could make sure the baby was viable. Emma let out another cry and a choked whimper as she clamped her eyes shut again.

"It's hurting her," Regina said, though she didn't attempt to stop without Mal's permission.

"We're growing a little bean into a full sized baby in a matter of moments. It's gonna hurt," Mal explained, as if that should have been self-evident. "But pain is temporary and childbirth isn't a walk in the park on a good day."

Emma nodded, knowing that she could endure any amount of pain if it saved her baby girl. "I'm fine," she choked out.

"What the…" Whale's voice betrayed all the shock he felt as he entered the room again. Emma hadn't even heard the door this time.

"Good timing," Mal remarked. "I think you've got a baby to deliver."

Whale simply nodded, urging the two women out of the way so he could check on Emma. Mal took the opportunity to pull Regina to the other side of the room.

"What the hell happened?" Mal asked, in a hushed whisper.

"Nothing! We were just talking and…" Regina sighed when she saw the look on Mal's face. The woman could read her like a book, and she wasn't buying any of this. "Fine. I overheard her telling Hook the baby wasn't his, and after everything you told me about Lily, I put two and two together."

"And you flew off the handle," Mal finished, nodding. "Your emotions and you magic affect the baby."

"How the hell was I supposed to know that? I haven't exactly been in the loop!" Regina said, in her own defense.

"Well, you are now, so what you are going to do?"

"I've known for all of five minutes, Mal. I need time to process."

"You're out of time," Mal said, shaking her head. "Human bodies aren't meant to gestate babies to full term in a matter of minutes. Emma's going to need support and magic to recoup. You have to make a choice."

Regina nodded, as Whale called for their attention.

"Let's get this show on the road, ladies. Who's staying?" he asked.

"I am," Mal said, without a moment of hesitation. She seemed to all but forget Regina was ever even in the room as she headed back to Emma's bed.

Emma offered Mal a weak smile, and turned her attention to Regina, waiting to see what she was going to do.

"I can go, if you want me to," Regina offered, knowing she was more than likely going to be the third wheel, especially if Emma wanted Mal over her. Why wouldn't she? Mal had been there from the start and Regina had done little more than donate her DNA, up until a few minutes ago.

"No, I want you to stay, too," Emma insisted. "You should be here when your baby is born."

Whale shook his head and pretended he didn't hear that as Regina made her way over to the bedside. It was enough that Emma had gone from barely showing to ready to pop in a matter of moments, he didn't want to think about the dynamics involved in this being Regina's baby. Sometimes he hated living in a world with magic.

"Alright, Mama, let's get down to business," Whale said, rubbing his hands together as he crouched between Emma's legs, ready to catch. Regina rolled her eyes, but Emma was too far gone to worry about Whale at the moment. "On the count of three, you're gonna push."

Emma nodded, and grabbed one of Mal's and one of Regina's hands in each of her hands, squeezing hard as she pushed. She forced memories of when she'd had Henry, alone and handcuffed to the bed, to the back of her mind as she made herself to focus on the present. This wasn't the same. She wasn't alone and she wasn't giving this baby up. She was going to have her and take her home and regardless of whatever fall out with Regina remained, she was going to have her baby girl.

"You're doing great, Emma, almost there," Mal said, rubbing Emma's forearm with her free hand.

"Is she okay? Does she look okay?" Emma asked, between panting breaths.

"She looks perfect," Regina assured her. The baby was only out just past her shoulders, but Regina could see her face just fine and everything looked good, as far as she could tell.

"One more big push," Whale said, and Emma let out a cry of pain as she pushed.

Time seemed to move in slow motion as she watched Whale lift up the baby into her view. She wasn't moving or crying and Emma's heart sank, instantly. Henry had cried almost immediately - she'd never forgotten that sound - and she was sure something was wrong. No one was saying anything, they all just looked at Whale as he turned the baby over in his hands.

And then she heard it.

A high pitched wail left the baby's mouth and Emma fell back onto the bed, tears of relief in her eyes.

"She's okay, Emma," Whale assured her.

Mal helped her pull the hospital gown down from her chest as Whale laid the baby there, for her first skin to skin contact. Emma was barely aware of how she was sobbing as she placed one shaky hand on the tiny babe's back, the other lightly on her head. She had a little bit of soft, dark hair and Emma was already reasonably sure she was going to have Regina's colouring.

But it didn't matter what she looked like. Nothing mattered other than that she was here.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Chapter Text

It never ceased to amaze Emma how life could change in the blink of an eye, for better or for worse. When she'd been growing up, she'd gotten used to never having a moment of stability, and that had only continued when she'd finally run away for good and met Neal. She'd had plans for a life then, safe and secure, with him, until she'd ended up pregnant and alone, in prison.

After she'd gotten out, she had found a bit of stability, at least for a few years, until Henry had shown up and blew everything up, all over again. Suddenly, she'd found herself in a world with magic and parents and curses and a family. It was crazy and hectic but she wouldn't give it up for anything.

Earlier that morning, she'd been making plans to tell Regina the truth, finally, and now she was in a hospital bed, holding her infant daughter to her chest, in utter disbelief that any of that had just happened. She would have thought it was a dream, if it weren't for the immense pain she was still in.

Everyone was quiet, for a just a moment, but Emma couldn't hold on to that moment long enough, as the nurse was coming to take the baby out of Emma's arms and down to the NICU to have her checked out,

"The NICU?" Emma repeated, her voice betraying her nerves as the nurse left the room. Unconsciously, her hand went to the spot on her chest where the baby had just rested, and now she felt painfully empty.

"It's just a precaution, Emma. She seems healthy, but a little on the small side, so the NICU doctor is the best one to look at her. You'll see her again shortly," Whale explained. "Now, as for you to ladies, I'll need you to leave the room."

It was Mal who protested. "What? Why?"

"I need to check Emma over," he offered by way of explanation. "It may come as a surprise, but women's bodies aren't meant to go from zero to ten centimetres and fully effaced in two point five seconds. Labour happens for a reason."

"She would have lost the baby," Mal reminded him.

Whale sighed. "I'm not saying it was the wrong thing to do. I'm just saying that I need to make sure there were no unforeseen consequences."

"Regina, go with the baby," Emma called out, as Regina neared the door - too tired and sore to worry about what Whale was saying about her body - and Regina nodded.

"Did that really just happen?" Regina asked, aloud, once they were in the hallway, but she didn't really expect an answer.

Mal smiled, however. "Come on, Mama, I'll walk you down to the NICU. I'd hate to see you faint along the way."

Regina scowled. "I'm not going to faint. Can you blame me if I'm in shock?"

"No. And I also wouldn't blame you if you're upset with me for keeping this from you. I really thought it should come from Emma, though."

Regina nodded. "I'm not sure what I am at this moment. This all just happened so fast… it doesn't feel real. I wish I'd had more time to adjust to even knowing first."

"Either way, I don't think Emma had any real intention of telling you until she was on her way to the delivery room," Mal said, shaking her head. "Though, in all fairness, she clearly had good reason."

"Mal… do you think it was my fault?"

"That Emma got pregnant? Yes, I think that's well established, actually."

"No! I mean… everything else."

Mal let out a heavy sigh. "You mean that she almost miscarried? I don't know, Regina, but I think she came close to miscarrying on Christmas Eve, too. None of this was handled the way it should have been - you're both so stubborn - but it doesn't matter now. I know you would have never put the baby in danger intentionally. And, more importantly, I think Emma knows that, too."

"And what about everything else?"

"What else?"

"Is it my fault that she felt she needed to keep it a secret?" Regina asked.

"Regina, you and Emma have a lot to work through, and it's probably not going to be easy. There's a lot of hurt feelings and pain and raw emotion to deal with, but at least now you can do so without endangering the baby. I'm not going to lie, Regina, when Emma thought it was best for her and the baby to keep her distance from you, I had to agree. No offense, but you're a loose cannon."

Regina cringed, knowing that she couldn't say much to defend herself at this point. She wanted to think she would have been calm if Emma had just told her, but she couldn't kid herself into believing that was actually the case.

"Oh, God… The Charmings are going to kill me," Regina said, looking up at the ceiling as reality started sinking in. "And Henry… there's going to be so many questions. And, oh, Robin!"

Mal smirked, as it seemed apparent that this was the first time Regina had even remembered Robin existed.

"How in the hell am I going to tell Robin?" Regina asked, as they approached the doorway to the NICU.

Mal shrugged. "You'll figure something out, I'm sure, but right now, the only thing you need to worry about the little girl on the other side of that door. Go meet your daughter. I'm going to go back and check on Emma."

Regina nodded, and drew in a steadying breath as she turned to enter the NICU. Inside, the nurse was quick to hand her a hospital gown to put over her clothing, and she stood and watched as the nurses cleaned the baby up and weighed her, and then the doctor checked the crying baby over.

She watched as the doctor and the nurses spoke, and caught fragments of the nurse from Emma's room relaying the story of the magically growing baby with two mothers. It was so surreal, and she wasn't sure if she even breathed until the doctor turned to her and smiled.

"Congratulations," the doctor said, approaching Regina with the baby in her arms. "She seems perfectly healthy, but very hungry. Is Emma planning on breastfeeding?"

"I, uh, I don't know," Regina admitted.

"Well, she needs to eat soon, so you two better figure out your plans."

"I should take her back to Emma, then," Regina said, though her voice sounded a million miles away as she stared down at the screaming infant. She hadn't realized how shaky she was, herself, until the doctor placed the baby in her arms.

"Oh!" Regina gasped, as the baby's slight weight suddenly made everything feel so very real. "Hi, there. Oh, don't cry, little one."

Regina took a moment to look the baby over, running her fingers lightly over her dark hair and soft skin, red from crying. She couldn't see her eyes, and they were squeezed shut, and she wondered if they'd be bright blue like Henry's had been when she'd first gotten him. The nurses had put her in a diaper and wrapped her in a blanket, but her little foot still stuck out and the hospital bracelet on her ankle read Baby Girl Swan, March 27, 2016, 5lbs3oz.

"Baby girl Swan, let's get you to your Mommy," Regina said, softly, as she turned back toward the door, accompanied by one of the nurses. The walk was silent, save for the baby crying and Regina's soothing coos, and Regina was glad at the nurse was there to lead the way, as she couldn't tear her eyes off of the little baby.

Her baby.

Hers and Emma's.

Whale was gone and Emma was sitting up on the bed, supported by Mal's arms, when Regina re-entered the room.

"What's wrong?" Emma asked, immediately panicked at the sound of her daughter's cries.

"Nothing! She's just starving," Regina assured her. "How, um… how are you planning on feeding her?" she asked, hating how awkward it was that she didn't know any of Emma's plans with the baby. These were things they should have had time to discuss.

"Mal says breast milk will be best, because she'll get some of my magic that way," Emma explained, and Mal worked on undoing the back of her hospital gown as Emma held out her arms for the baby.

Mal says. Regina was so sick of those words, and she hated watching Mal help Emma get situated with the baby. She so badly wanted to push her out of the way, and help Emma herself, but she wasn't even sure if Emma would want that. She seemed perfectly content with Mal, and Regina took a couple steps back as the nurse came over to help Emma get the baby in a position to latch.

She felt like an intruder on somebody else's family moment as she watched Emma's face light up when the baby finally stopped screaming and started eating. Mal rubbed her shoulders and told her she was doing great, before looking up to meet Regina's eyes.

"You got this, Mama," Mal said, giving Emma's shoulders one last squeeze before crossing and heading for the door, motioning for Regina to follow.

Emma appeared to be lost in the moment, looking down at her tiny girl, so Regina stepped out into the hallway with Mal.

"What is it?"

"Emma's in pretty rough shape," Mal reported. "She's going to need some time to recoup, and Whale is ordering six weeks of bed rest. Emma's already against the idea, so we're going to have to make sure she's taking it easy, and do whatever we can to help her. I need to know if you're on board."

"Of course I am!" Regina said, without a moment of hesitation. "That's my daughter."

"I know. But you need to be there for Emma, too, not just the baby."

Regina nodded. "I know. I can do that, Mal. Emma and I have gotten along when Henry needed us, certainly we can do the same for our baby."

"Alright. She's not going to be released until tomorrow. Can you stay here tonight?"

"Yes," Regina said, quickly, silently grateful that Robin was keeping the kids at the camp tonight, so she wouldn't have to worry about making an excuse for her absence.

"Good. I'm going to go call the Charmings," Mal said, with only the slightest hint of disdain in her voice.

Regina turned and headed back into the room, just in time to hear Emma informing the nurse that she didn't know how to burp the baby.

"I've got this," Regina said, before the nurse could even react.

Emma looked at her in surprise as she came and sat on the bed, close enough that their legs were almost touching, but conscious enough of Emma's space to give her a little room. She held out her arms for the baby, and once she had her again, set about getting her situated to burp.

"Looks like you ladies have this under control," the nurse commented. "And I've got rounds."

"Thanks," Emma said, her voice sounding tired, as the nurse left the room. Her eyes fell back on Regina's hands on the baby. "I don't know how to do any of this baby stuff. I didn't have time to read any of the books."

"Well, it's a good thing she has two parents then, isn't it?" Regina asked, smiling as the baby let out a burp that seemed way too big to come from her tiny body. "Oh, that was a good one."

Emma couldn't help but smile, albeit weakly, at Regina complementing the baby's belch. "She has two parents," Emma repeated. "So that means you want to be involved?"

Regina's eyes snapped up to meet Emma's. "How could you ever think I wouldn't?"

Emma shrugged. "I don't know. Because of the implications involved in everyone knowing the truth?"

"By everyone, you mean Robin."

Emma nodded. "Yeah."

"Robin and I are already making it work with his child. I'm sure it's not going to be an easy conversation, but I know he'll try to make it work with mine."

"Right," Emma said, trying not to sound too dejected. Of course that was going to be Regina's response. What did she think would happen? Regina would see the baby and forget Robin even existed?

The look on Emma's face wasn't lost on Regina. "I'm going to stay here with you tonight," Regina offered.

"Kay."

"Have you thought of any names?"

Emma bit her lip. She'd thought of several, but she didn't really want Regina to know she'd been making quite so many decisions while keeping the baby a secret from her. And it wasn't like she'd actually picked one, yet. "No."

"Oh. Well, there's still lots of time. Ryleigh went nearly four weeks without a name."

Inwardly, Emma wanted to cry at the mention of Ryleigh's name. She knew that she was still Regina's biological niece, but the fact of the matter was Regina was raising her as her own, and Emma didn't want Regina thinking about Ryleigh while holding her own baby.

Emma knew she was being ridiculous, but she was too worn out and sore to even care. She had been through a lot, today, and she wanted to be selfish.

"Are you okay?"

Emma nodded. "I'm just tired. I think I should lie down."

Regina moved off the bed so that Emma could lie down, cradling the now sleeping baby in her arms. Within minutes, Emma was asleep as well, and Regina sat back down on the edge of her bed. For a moment, it struck her how easy all of this felt. It would be so easy to go home with Emma tomorrow, and start a whole new life with her and Henry and the baby.

But things weren't that easy. Emma was not her fiancee and she had a whole other life waiting for her at home, once Robin returned from the camp with the children. And she had a whole lot of explaining and apologizing to do.

None of that mattered right now, however. Time had slowed down and, for the moment, she could just be here, at peace, with her sleeping baby and her baby's sleeping mother.

Until the Charmings would undoubtedly arrive, that was.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Chapter Text

Emma groaned as she stirred awake, blinking a few times to adjust her eyes to the light streaming in from the window of her hospital room. She glanced around the room, finding that it was now empty, save for the nurse who was standing near her bed with a clipboard, jotting something down while staring at Emma's heart monitor screen.

Where were Regina and the baby? Emma felt herself immediately begin to panic. She wasn't yet released to leave the hospital, but the baby was. What if Regina had decided to take her home? Could she even do that? While she was sure she probably couldn't, not without Emma's consent, she couldn't help but feel that same sense of loss that she did when Henry was born; laying in a bed all alone to recover while her baby went off to start his new life without her.

"Where's my baby?" Emma asked, her voice strained, when the nurse finally looked at her.

"She was getting a bit fussy so Regina took her for a walk," the nurse explained, a warm smile on her face. "She'll probably need to eat soon, but Regina wanted to let you rest as long as she could. She said your parents are on their way."

Emma nodded and breathed a sigh of relief, immediately feeling like an idiot for panicking like she did. But, she couldn't help it. She'd been so dazed and out of it since the baby was born, she realized she couldn't even recall what her face looked like. She'd held her to her chest and she'd fed her, but it all seemed like a hazy blur to her now.

"Can you please find her, and tell her to bring my baby back?" Emma asked.

"Of course."

Emma laid back on her pillow, waiting for Regina's return once the nurse left. She couldn't help but think it was unfair how she'd been the one to fight through the few months of pregnancy she'd actually had, and she'd been the one to go through the pain of actually having the baby, and Regina got to be the one to enjoy her while Emma was laid up in bed, recouping. It wasn't fair that Regina continued to get the easy end of this deal, and while Emma tried to remind herself that it wasn't like Regina had intentionally caused any of this, a small part of her couldn't help but blame her for the near miscarriage that landed her in this position now.

"Hey," Regina said as she entered the room, the baby comfortably nestled in one arm. In any other situation, Emma might have found that to be a beautiful sight.

"Hi," Emma said, simply, holding out her arms for the baby as she sat up.

Regina didn't miss the grimace on her face as she moved. "How are you feeling?" she asked, as she sat down on the bed and placed the baby in Emma's waiting arms.

"Like I was just ripped in half," Emma replied without looking up. Her eyes were on the baby squirming in her arms, and she smiled as the little one opened her bright blue eyes. "Look, she has blue eyes!"

"So did Henry, when he was an infant. They didn't change until he was about six months."

Emma nodded. There were still so many things she didn't know about Henry when he was a baby. There were things she wanted to know, but she was afraid to ask because he had never really been her baby, he was always Regina's. "Hers will probably end up being brown," Emma acknowledged, a hint of sadness in her voice.

"She has your mouth and your chin. I think she'll be a good mix of the two of us."

"Did Mal go home?" Emma asked, feeling the need to change the subject. She wasn't sure why, but she was suddenly feeling bothered by Regina having any sort of claim on her baby. She chalked it up to the hormonal crash Whale had predicted she'd go through, after he'd reminded her for the third or fourth time that bodies weren't meant to gestate babies so quickly.

"Yes. She thought she'd be in the way once your parents got here. She said she and Lily will come visit you tomorrow."

Emma nodded as the baby began to fuss again. "I think she's hungry," Emma said, moving to attempt to undo the back her hospital gown with one arm.

"Here, let me help you," Regina offered. "If… that's okay."

"Yeah."

Regina gave her an awkward smile as she leaned forward, reaching her hands around Emma's shoulders and undoing the ties at the back of the gown. She couldn't help but feel the tension in Emma as she moved back again, and noted that she didn't seem nearly as comfortable with her helping as she had seemed with Mal.

Emma held the top of her gown with one hand, looking utterly confused as the baby began to cry.

"Emma, what's wrong?"

Emma shook her head. "I, uh, I can't remember what side I fed her on last time. I'm supposed to be switching sides every time."

"Left. So, your right, this time."

"At least someone remembers," Emma said with a mirthless laugh, as she pulled down the right side of her gown and got the baby situated to latch.

"Well, you were pretty out of it earlier. I should get you one of those bracelets to remind you," Regina said, decisively.

Emma nodded, thinking of how much nicer it would be to actually have someone there to remind her, but she guessed a bracelet would have to be the next best thing, when no one was around.

"So, Whale seems confident that you can go home tomorrow," Regina said, attempting to break the awkward silent tension in the room.

"Oh."

"I can come back with you, and help you get her settled," she offered.

"You don't have to. The nursery is already done," Emma said, offhandedly, oblivious to the hurt look on Regina's face as she said it. "Henry and I took care of it."

"Oh."

Emma glanced up, meeting Regina's eyes. "Look… I'm not trying to push you out or anything, but the simple fact of the matter is I have to get used to doing things on my own because that's how it's going to be most of the time."

"Emma, I intend to be a part of our child's life," Regina said, her voice tight.

"I didn't say you couldn't. I'm just saying I don't need to you hold my hand the entire time. I got through four months of pregnancy on my own."

"Well, you didn't have to."

Emma clenched her jaw and looked back down at the baby, deciding this wasn't a fight she needed to have in front of a newborn.

"Emma."

"Just don't, okay? I don't want to fight about this when I'm feeding my baby."

"Our baby."

Emma closed her eyes and nodded. "I know."

Regina let out a long sigh. "Your parents will be here soon, with Henry. How do you want to tell them?"

Emma smirked and shook her head. "I haven't exactly been good at the whole telling part. They're going to be shocked enough that the baby is already here. Maybe we can wait to tell them the rest."

"Emma!" Regina said, exasperated.

"Fine, okay, we'll tell them. I'm sure they're gonna want to know who fathered this baby anyway."

Regina groaned, which actually earned her a small, genuine smile from Emma. "Please don't say I fathered her."

"You knocked me up. What would you call it?"

Regina stopped herself before she could say 'a miracle', since she knew it would sound sappy and she wasn't sure how receptive Emma would be to hearing that, anyway. "I would call it magic. I guess we know what that flash of light was now."

"You really didn't know."

Regina shook her head. "Honestly, Emma, I thought it was nothing. If I had known… well, I would have handled things differently."

"Yeah."

"I can burp her," Regina offered, when the baby broke away from Emma's nipple and refused to relatch.

But Emma shook her head. "No, I want you to show me how. I know you gave me those memories, like I had actually kept Henry, but they're fading away. I can't really remember how to do any of this. I never really knew in the first place, I guess."

"Prop her up like this," Regina instructed, moving the baby and Emma's hand at the same time, and keeping her hand firmly over Emma's without even realizing she was doing it. "And rub her back with your other hand."

Emma didn't object to Regina keeping her hand on hers as she rubbed the baby's back. It felt nice and familiar and comforting, and it reignited that little feeling inside of her that maybe this would all work out. Maybe they really could be a family and these last four months would just be an unfortunate hiccup along the way that would soon be forgotten.

She knew, however, that would all depend on Regina. She was the wildcard in this whole situation, and the one that Emma couldn't seem to count on to fit into place. How could Regina realistically balance two families and two lives at the same time? She now shared two children and apparent true love with Emma - though Emma was shying away from bringing that up just yet - but she was also raising Robin's two kids and had agreed to marry him. There was no common ground, and Emma wasn't sure how this could possibly work.

And she hated the fact that she was still holding onto hope that it would.

Emma smiled when the baby finally let out a burp, proud of her little victory. She looked up to meet Regina's eyes again. "I want you to stay with me tonight," she said, before she could even process what she was saying.

Regina narrowed her eyes in confusion. "I thought I already told you I was going to stay?"

"You did. I just want you to know that I want you to."

"Alright. Henry can go home with you parents when they leave here tonight, and I'll take you home when you get released."

It wasn't a suggestion this time, and Emma couldn't think of a good enough reason to protest. "Fine," she said, simply. "Can you take the baby back? I need to lie down."

Regina nodded and quickly took the baby back into her arms. It wasn't long before both the baby and Emma were sleeping, once again. It didn't come as a surprise, considering Emma was exhausted and also on a morphine drip to help with the pain.

In favour of letting Emma rest, Regina took the baby to the maternity ward atrium to await the impending arrival of the Charmings with Henry. She knew she would only have a few moments of quiet with the still sleeping babe, but she could still revel in it.

Regina studied the little one. She knew her hair was all her, and her mouth and chin were definitely Emma, but she couldn't yet tell on the nose and the eyes really could go either way, she imagined. She hoped the child really would grow to look like a mix of them, not too strongly like one or the other.

She'd never thought she'd ever hold her own flesh and blood child in her arms - in fact, she'd gone to great lengths to ensure that could never happen - but now she was sure she knew exactly what Mal had meant when she'd told her she had no idea what she had.

"Regina," Snow said, almost breathlessly, as she entered the atrium, followed by Henry and David, with Neal in the car seat in his hand.

"We don't have a car seat," Regina acknowledged out loud, suddenly realizing there was probably a whole lot of things they didn't have. She had no idea what kind of preparations Emma had already made, other than the nursery, in the short time she'd actually had to prepare.

The comment wasn't lost on David or Snow, who each looked confused at the use of the word 'we' for a moment, before their attention was drawn back to the baby again.

"Regina! What happened?" Snow asked, as she hurried over to the seat beside Regina. "This… this can't be Emma's baby!"

Regina sighed and shook her head, before carefully placing the baby in Snow's arms. "She was going to miscarry," she explained. "Mal and I… we did what we had to do to make sure the baby would survive, and that meant making her viable, with magic."

"That couldn't have possibly been good for Emma," David acknowledged, while his wife smiled down at the tiny infant.

"She's okay. She's got a fair bit of recovery ahead of her, but she's alright. Well, she will be. She's sleeping now."

"I can't believe I have a sister," Henry marveled, as he sat down next to Snow.

"Yes, actually," Regina said, with a heavy sigh. "There's something I need to tell you. All of you. So Emma doesn't have to."

Snow shook her head as a small smile crept onto her lips. "She's yours, somehow, isn't she?"

Regina's mouth dropped open, momentarily, before she regained her composure. "How on earth did you figure that out?"

Snow shrugged as she stroked her finger lightly on the baby's cheek. "Well, she's not Hook's, apparently. Emma made sure everyone knew that. You both had magic, and I knew her due date and I knew… Well, Emma told me about… you know…. Thanksgiving."

"Wait… what?" Henry said, his eyes darting between Snow's innocent looking smile and Regina's red cheeks. "Mom? You and mom?"

"Henry, I, uh… we'll talk about this later, alright? I don't think this is really the time or place to really get into this discussion."

"No, I think it is," David cut in. "I mean, Regina, how? Wait, no, I don't want to know the logistics of how, but… how?"

"Magic, just like Snow said" Regina said, with a small shrug. "You don't question how you survive with only half of your wife's heart, do you? There's not really a lot that magic can't do."

"Right, but…" David's voice trailed off for a moment. "Making a baby?"

"I don't claim to have any answers here, David. I just found out myself, and then, well, now we have a baby."

Regina couldn't help but notice the side-eye Snow was giving her, along with the little smirk that didn't leave her lips. "What?!" Regina finally asked, exasperated.

"Oh, nothing," Snow said. "I was just thinking about the most powerful magic of all."

"True love?" Henry asked.

"Henry," Regina sighed, shaking her head and making a mental note to thank Snow for that one later. "Love comes in many forms. It doesn't… it doesn't have to mean anything. Not the way you're thinking, anyway."

Regina watched as Henry and Snow exchanged glances. She shook her head at the idea. True love? With the savior? How could she be in love with her best friend - or former best friend, as it were, since she hadn't exactly been a friend to Emma in the past months.

"So, what now then, Mom?" Henry asked.

"What do you mean, what now?"

"Well, I mean, you can't still marry Robin when you have a baby with my Mom."

"Henry… I haven't even talked to Robin about this yet. I'm going to tomorrow, and we'll decide what to do from there."

"Oh."

Regina couldn't help but notice the dejected look on Henry's face. She couldn't imagine what that was about, however, because she'd never gotten any inkling that her son wanted his two mothers to be together. She supposed perhaps that Henry didn't want her to marry Robin, but if that were the case, he'd yet to voice his concern on the matter to her.

"Henry, listen to me: right now is not that time for any of us - me or Emma or Robin - to be making any life altering decisions, alright? We'll figure it all out in time."

"Wait, Regina, you haven't even told us her name yet," Snow pointed out, both because she was curious and because she wanted to derail the current conversation.

"I know. Because she doesn't yet have one," Regina explained.

"Oh, well I could give you some suggestions!" Snow offered.

"I think Emma and I can figure something out, Snow, but thank you."

Regina was actually grateful when the nurse came by to inform them that visiting hours were over.

"We didn't even get to see Emma," David protested.

"David, she's sleeping. Come see her tomorrow," Regina insisted, as she took the baby back from Snow. "Henry, I want you to go home with your grandparents tonight, alright? I'm going to stay here with Emma."

Henry nodded as he stood to give his mother a hug, and placed a small kiss on the baby's forehead.

After they'd said their goodbyes, Regina headed back to Emma's room where she was still sleeping soundly. Regina crept into the room, placing the baby in the hospital crib, before curling up on the chair near Emma's bed. It was far from an ideal sleeping arrangement, but the nurses had left a blanket for her, and she figured she could survive for one night. After all, she knew a little muscle cramping would be nothing compared to how sore Emma would be in the morning.

"Good night, baby girl," she whispered to the sleeping babe, before finally closing her own eyes for the night.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Chapter Text

The room was mostly dark, save for the dim lights glowing on the monitors beside her bed when Emma woke up to the sound of her baby crying somewhere to the left of her. She blinked a few times, disoriented because she didn't really remember falling asleep and certainly didn't expect it to be night time already, before craning her head to the side to see Regina already up and picking up the baby from her hospital crib.

Emma shifted herself up to sit, slowly. Her body was aching more now than it had been before, and she was grateful that she'd never re-tied her hospital gown after the last feeding as it was one less obstacle in the way now.

"Left side," Regina reminded her, softly, as she handed off the baby, and Emma just nodded as she pulled down the left side of her gown and got the baby situated to latch.

"What time is it?" Emma asked, once the baby began to feed.

"Uh, a little past midnight."

"I thought my parents and Henry were supposed to be coming?"

"They did," Regina informed her. "While you were sleeping. I wanted to let you rest, but they met the baby."

Emma nodded, though she was slightly disappointed that she didn't get to be the one to introduce her parents to her brand new daughter; another missed second chance this time around. She tried to force that thought down, but it was hard not to become more and more frustrated with how everything was happening. She hadn't had ample time to create expectations for herself, and still none of this was living up to what she did expect.

"Did they ask who the father was?" Emma asked, quietly.

There was a pause before Regina spoke, prompting Emma to look up at her again. "They… your mother… she figured it out."

"What?"

"Well, she-"

"You told them," Emma said in disbelief, shaking her head as she lifted one hand to wipe a tear from her cheek. She hadn't even realized she was crying until she felt the tear trailing down her face, betraying all the emotions she was trying so hard to keep in check in front of Regina.

"No, Emma, your mother figured it out," Regina insisted.

"And you confirmed it?"

"I had to."

"No, you didn't! It wasn't your place to tell them. They're my parents and it's-"

"It's what? Your baby?" Regina snapped back. She knew she should know better than to engage in a fight while Emma was clearly coming down from a hormonal crash, but Emma always had an uncanny way of pressing all of her buttons at once.

"I wasn't going to say that."

"But you think it, don't you?" Regina demanded, finding herself unable to hold her tongue, as she often struggled with these days. "You shut me out, Emma. You went through this pregnancy alone because of choices you made."

"That's not true and you know it!"

"Okay," Regina paused, taking a breath to calm herself down. "Let's not fight, alright? We're both tired and you're-"

"I'm what? Don't you dare say I'm hormonal."

Regina raised an eyebrow and opted not to comment on Emma's hormonal state, though Whale had warned her Emma's emotions would be in overdrive. "I was going to say you're in pain."

Emma pursed her lips and turned her focus back on the baby as she continued to eat, trying to force herself to breathe and calm down.

"Your mother was asking about a name," Regina said, in an attempt to break the awkward silence.

"I'm not ready to name her yet."

"Well-"

"Well nothing. We'll name her when I'm ready," Emma said, as she moved the baby to position her to burp. "I should have had five more months to prepare for this, you know."

"Yes, well, I had all of fifteen minutes," Regina pointed out.

"I thought you didn't want to fight."

Regina let out a long sigh. "I don't. But there are things we're going to have to discuss."

Emma nodded. "Yeah. How did my parents take it?" she asked, finally looking up at Regina again. "Oh, God, what does Henry think?"

"Well, your mother is thrilled. Your father is confused. Henry's in shock."

Emma nodded as she rubbed the baby's tiny back. She supposed that was about how she'd expected it to go, though she really hadn't had time to give it much thought. And she supposed that perhaps she should be relieved that Regina had told them, as it was one more burden off of her shoulders, but she was having a hard time seeing it that way.

"I was going to say it's not fair," Emma said, quietly, once the baby had let out a large burp.

"What?"

"I was going to say, they're my parents and it's not fair. This all just… sucks, you know? You're right: I am in pain. And I'm exhausted. And yeah, I just had a baby, but I've had a baby before and it wasn't like this. I thought… I don't know. I didn't think it would be like this."

"Emma…"

Emma scrunched up her face, causing Regina to stop before she could even start talking. She felt an instant knot in her stomach, as she suddenly thought Emma was about to double over in pain, but instead she lifted the baby up and sniffed her.

"Ugh… that's all you," Emma said, holding out the baby for Regina to take her back. "I'm on bed rest. That puts you on diaper duty."

Regina smirked and shook her head as she took the baby back and stood to bring her back over to the crib to change her. She watched Emma from the corner of her eye as she changed the baby's diaper, and noted that she had slid back down onto her pillow. Just a few minutes of sitting up to feed the baby had exhausted her, and for the first time, Regina realized just how unfair this really all was.

"You will feel better," Regina said finally, once the baby was changed and back in her sleepers, snuggled up in Regina's arms once again.

"I don't want to talk about it," Emma said, staring up at the ceiling with a frown.

"Emma-"

"I don't want to talk about it."

Regina sighed and shook her head, opting to leave it at that as she sat back down in her chair to cuddle the baby to sleep. Emma glanced at her once, before rolling onto her side, facing the other direction.


The baby had Emma up three more times in the night to feed, before the morning sun coming in through the blinds on the window had Emma up for good. She'd heard that a newborn's feeding schedule was exhausting, but she really hadn't known quite what to expect.

When she woke this time, however, the baby was still asleep in Regina's arms, and Mal and Lily were making their silent entrance into the room.

"Oh, honey, we were trying not to wake you up," Mal said apologetically, when she spotted Emma scooting her way up to sit on her bed.

"It's fine," Emma said through a yawn. "It's too bright to sleep in here anyway."

"We would have come later, but I just couldn't wait to meet little Lily Jr," Lily grinned, winking at Emma before making her way over to see the baby.

Regina shot Emma a look of panic.

Emma knew Lily had a penchant for making Regina jealous, but she decided against letting her make Regina think she was the baby's namesake. She wasn't in the mood for more fighting just yet. "She's kidding," Emma said, rolling her eyes at Lily. "And don't ask for a name because she doesn't have one yet."

"Oh, Baby Girl Swan," Mal cooed, as she lifted the baby from Regina's arms. "Whatever will your mommies call you? And how long will they make us wait to know?"

Emma smirked as Mal shot her a sideways glance and a wink, but Regina stiffened, noting once again how much more comfortable Emma was with Mal than she was with her. She thought she was making an effort, but perhaps it was too little, too late?

As she watched Emma smile while Mal and Lily fawned over the baby, Regina felt that distinct pang of jealousy again, and the odd sensation of feeling like an outside observer of her own family. This wasn't the first time she'd felt like this - it was just like when the curse had broken and Henry had wanted nothing to do with her.

But realistically, she wondered what she could have done differently. It wasn't like she knew Emma was pregnant when she'd ended things so abruptly - she hadn't even known it was possible - and she couldn't very well throw away everything over a one night stand, could she? It was too big of a risk; she'd told herself that countless times in the days and weeks that had followed. What if it didn't work out and Regina broke Robin's heart for nothing? Or worse, Emma's? What if it didn't work out and she was left alone, all over again?

She'd thought these were legitimate concerns at the time, but now all she could see was another happy family that she was on the fringe of. Sure, she was invited in, but was her presence really wanted?

Regina was drawn from her thoughts when she felt her phone vibrate in her pocket. She hadn't checked it in hours, knowing that Henry was asleep, and she wasn't expecting anyone else to call. It felt like a punch to the gut when she saw Robin's name on the screen. It was the shock back to reality she needed, to remind her that the worst was far from over, because she still had a giant confession to make.

She might lose everything with him, anyway.

Hey, Regina, the weather's looking like it might take a turn this morning. We'll be heading home early.

Regina bit her lip and glanced back up at Emma. Mal and Lily seemed to have her distracted enough that she didn't even notice that Regina's phone was out, and she was grateful for that, at least. She wasn't so grateful for the sudden realization that this would be her life now: splitting her time between two families and four children.

She felt her heart start beating faster as the reality really began to sink in. She was going to be at home with Henry part time, and Roland and Ryleigh - two children that weren't even hers - full time. She and Emma wouldn't even be able to begin discussion shared custody arrangements until Emma was done breastfeeding, and Regina suddenly was painfully aware that she had no idea how this was possibly going to work out.

She couldn't breathe. It was all too much and suddenly she knew exactly why Emma had been so reluctant to tell the truth. This was going to turn her whole life upside down, and Emma had been right to fear the fallout from that.

Last night, in a quiet room, helping Emma with feedings and cuddling her sleeping baby girl, it had been easy to forget that this wasn't permanent. She could take Emma home today, but she wouldn't be taking her home, she'd be taking her to her house, helping her get settled, and then going home to her own house. Emma would be at her place, with Henry and their baby, and Regina would be home with Robin and his children.

It was too much.

Suddenly, the room felt suffocating, and without a word, Regina got up and bolted out the door, pressing her back against the wall in the hallway trying to regain control of her breathing.

Moments later, the door opened again, and Mal emerged, her soft blue eyes filled with concern.

"Regina, what the hell is wrong with you?"

In spite of herself, Regina had to smile at Mal's penchant for skipping the bullshit and getting straight to the point. But her smile was fleeting, as she shook her head. "I… I just… Mal, what hell am I going to do?"

Mal sighed and placed a hand on Regina's shoulder. "Who just texted you?"

Regina guessed she should have known Mal didn't miss that, even if it seemed like she hadn't been paying attention. "Robin. He's coming home early and I… I guess I just got hit with a dose of reality. On one hand, I never want to let that baby girl out of my sight, and on the other hand… I have a fiance waiting for me at home. How am I supposed to make this work?"

"Well, you already know my thoughts on you marrying Robin," Mal said, the look of disapproval apparent on her face.

"Mal, I'm serious."

"Well, at the risk of sounding trite… there was a time when you knew how to listen to your heart. Maybe you should try that again."

Regina let out a long sigh. "That's not exactly helpful."

"Well, you never listen to me anyway," Mal said, with a shrug. "You'll figure it out."

"Thanks," Regina said, nodding, though she didn't feel even remotely convinced. Mal offered a half smile, before heading back into Emma's room, and Regina waiting until the door closed behind her to pull out her phone and text Robin back.

I won't be home until later. I have some things to take care of, and we need to talk about something important once the children are asleep.

Regina put her phone back in her pocket, not waiting to see if Robin texted back right away. He usually didn't anyway, as he was quickly distracted by the children, and at this point, Regina was grateful for that as she didn't want to have an in depth text conversation with him just now.

As she re-entered Emma's room, she was acutely aware of why it was so hard for Emma to tell her the truth, because she had absolutely no idea how she was supposed to tell Robin.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Chapter Text

Emma couldn't help but notice Regina's sudden distractedness the moment she came back into the room. She seemed restless and antsy, and though Emma tried to ignore it, she couldn't help but find annoying how Regina seemed to look at the clock every two minutes as if she had someplace else to be, all of the sudden.

Still, she smiled and turned her focus back to Mal and Lily and the baby. She'd felt considerably better since Mal had arrived than she did the night before, but even she was aware that her energy was draining, and quickly.

"Emma, are you feeling alright?" asked Mal, with a distinct frown of concern on her face.

"Fine," Emma lied. "Just tired, but that's normal, right?"

Mal continued to frown as she handed the baby off to Lily, who readily accepted the little one. She placed a hand flat on Emma's sternum and closed her eyes, getting a feel for the other woman's essence. "You're more than just tired," Mal assessed, after a few moments. "You are absolutely drained."

Emma closed her eyes and nodded as she felt the familiar feeling of Mal's magic flowing into her. "I didn't think I'd need this after the baby was born."

"Need what? What does she need?"

Emma's eyes blinked open again in time to see Regina standing up to come over to the bed. Momentarily, with the familiar feeling of Mal's magic entering her, Emma had actually forgotten Regina was even in the room at all.

"Magic," Mal answered, when it was evident that Emma wasn't going to. "Growing a magical baby is very draining on the mother's reserves," Mal explained to Regina, before turning her attention back to Emma. "You haven't had a chance to recoup yet. You'll still need it until you heal completely."

"Could I do it?" asked Regina.

"Truthfully, it should have been you all along," Mal replied, looking pointedly at Regina. "But it's too late for that now. You still could, but only if Emma wants you to."

For her part, Emma opted to stay quiet. While she knew Regina's magic worked faster and was more effective, she suddenly wasn't quite ready to let go of this connection she had with Mal, either. And she was quite sure Mal would be more readily available when she needed her than Regina possibly could be, despite how involved Regina claimed she wanted to be. It had only been a few hours, and Emma wasn't sure how invested she was in her wellbeing, or if her concern was solely for their baby.

"So Whale is confident you'll go home today?" asked Mal, deciding perhaps it was best to change the subject.

"Yeah. He doesn't think there's much he can do for me here. He said I just need to rest and take it easy and let my body heal itself. And I guess if I need magic to heal, there's no real point in being here anyway, right? I miss my own bed."

"I bet," Mal agreed.

The door opened again, and Emma leaned around Mal to see Henry and her parents entering the room. Seven people and a baby made the small room feel extra tiny and cramped, but Emma found she didn't really mind. There had been no one around her to care when Henry was born, and she was grateful for the support this time.

"There's my sweet girl!" Snow exclaimed, after giving Emma a quick hug before turning her attention to the baby.

"How're you feeling?" asked David, as Mal took the opportunity to remove herself from Emma's bed. Emma was glad for that, as she didn't particularly want her parents or Henry to worry about her, and she certainly didn't want them to question what Mal had been doing with her hands on her chest.

"Tired, but I'm alright," Emma said with a smile that was less forced now. "I get to go home today."

"Oh!" Snow gasped. "Already? That seems really early."

Emma shrugged. "Whale said so, so unless he changes his mind…"

"Oh. Well, I can take the day off work, then, to get you settled."

"Oh, no, Mom, that's okay. You don't have to do that. Regina's going to take me home and then you and Henry can come back after school."

Emma knew she and Regina hadn't actually discussed Henry coming back to her place after school, but she figured it was a safe assumption to make that he would want to, and an even safer assumption that Regina wouldn't fight her on it, all things considered.

"Alright," Snow agreed, though she looked less than convinced that this was the best course of action.

Moments later, the door opened yet again, and this time it was Whale.

"Whoa, there are way too many people in this room right now," he said, shaking his head. "And it's not even visiting hours yet. Out. All of you."

"But we just got here!" Henry protested. "I haven't even held my sister yet!"

"It's alright. We have to get to work, anyway," Snow said, glancing at David. "And Henry, you have to get to school. Emma's right, we can go there after school."

Emma gave Henry a sympathetic smile. Truthfully, he had been waiting longer than half the people in the room to meet the baby. "She's gonna eat, poop and fall back asleep soon anyway, kid. You can hold her tonight."

Emma watched as Lily purposely bypassed Regina as she tried to take the baby back, and handed her to Emma instead. She didn't exactly approve of how petty Lily was being, but she didn't exactly object to it, either. She kind of enjoyed the look of annoyance on Regina's face, and she liked that she had one person who was just there for her, and only really cared about her feelings in all of this.

Once the room had been cleared out, Whale gave Emma a quick final check over, and decided that she could go home that morning.

"Do you think my mother was right? Does it seem early to you, for me to go home?" Emma asked Regina, once Whale had set off on his rounds.

Regina shrugged. "Whale's an idiot, but I think you'll be alright. You don't really need medical attention after all, you need magic, so the hospital really is of no use for you now. Speaking of... I can… I can help you with that, you know."

Emma stiffened, turning her gaze downward. "Actually, I'm okay with Mal doing it."

"Emma, please don't shut me out."

"I'm… not. It's not like that. I'm not going to push you out of our baby's life or anything, but… what I need and who I get it from has nothing to do with the baby. It's about me and I… I just want Mal to do it."

"You don't trust me."

"Regina, don't do this. It's not about you."

Regina swallowed and nodded. "The baby needs a car seat. I'll go pick one up so we can go…" Regina opted to leave the word home from the end of her sentence, since home was two different places for them.

"Your car doesn't even have a backseat," Emma pointed out. "And we didn't drive here."

"Then I'll go get your car, unless you're opposed to that, too."

Emma rolled her eyes. "Do whatever you want."

Emma shook her head as she watched Regina leave, and breathed a sigh of relief when she realized she was alone with her baby girl for the very first time. She was so tiny, and looked quite content in her sleep at the moment, but Emma knew it was only a matter of time before she'd be hungry again. Still, she revelled in the time she had now, thinking back to how many times she'd wondered what it would have been like to hold Henry as a newborn. She knew now, however, she'd made the right choice in refusing to look at him, because looking at her little girl now, she knew she'd never have been able to let him go if she'd seen him.

Still, she couldn't help the feeling of surreal dissociation she felt as she looked at her baby. Regina was right: she did have her mouth and chin, but the resemblance wasn't enough for Emma to feel a connection with the child. She wondered if it was residual unresolved feelings over giving Henry up, or if it was the loss of five months of watching her belly grow and feeling the baby kick and move, but she was sure she should feel something more than she was right now.

She was sure she should feel something.

Emma wiped at the tears she could feel forming in her eyes with one hand as she continued to look at the baby. Part of her was afraid of the lack of emotion she was feeling, but another part of her was all too aware of all the wrong emotions lurking just below the surface. She thought back to the panic she'd felt the first time Regina had taken the baby out of the room, and realized that the very idea of the baby being out of her sight was terrifying. She chalked it up to how close she'd come to losing her, just yesterday, but suddenly she had the pervasive thought that if she turned away for a moment, something terrible might happen. What if she stopped breathing? What if she choked and no one was around who knew what to do? What if Emma passed out from exhaustion and the baby cried and cried with no one around to hear her?

On top of everything, Emma couldn't shake the sudden, intense fear that the baby might just up and vanish.

After all, she'd essentially appeared out of nowhere.

She knew her fears were unfounded, but still, after giving Henry up, Emma had been sure the next time she got pregnant, it would be when she was in a stable relationship with someone who loved her. She hadn't planned on being a single mom, and she truly wasn't sure if she was cut out for it. It hadn't occurred to her that she could get pregnant by another woman, and she always used protection with Hook, but a condom would have been entirely redundant with Regina.

Just as she'd expected, it wasn't long before the baby was awake and crying again, wanting to be fed. This was the first time Emma would attempt it alone, but she'd done it enough times now that she was fairly confident in her own ability. Getting her gown untied one-handed was awkward, but she managed to do so before the baby grew too hysterical from waiting, and before long she was latched and feeding away.

"Well, you won't starve, at least," Emma said, gently, as she ran her fingers over the baby's soft hair. "The rest.. I guess I'll figure it out as we go. And I won't let you go nameless for long… I'll think of something, I promise. No R's."

Emma sighed as the baby continued to eat, wondering what on earth was taking Regina so long. How long could it possibly take to poof herself back to Emma's, pick up the Bug, pick up a car seat, and come back? Emma was already going stir crazy in her hospital room; how was she supposed to last six weeks on bed rest in her home?

By the time Regina returned, Emma had managed to feed and burp the baby, and change her herself for the first time.

"What took you so long?" Emma asked, as she glanced at the car seat Regina was carrying. It had pink and purple plaid cushioning in it, and Emma's first thought was that it wouldn't match any of the other things she'd gotten for the baby. Mal had started her off on a yellow theme, but she supposed Regina had no way of knowing that since she'd never seen the nursery.

"Well, I picked up some other things we'll need," Regina said, setting the car seat down and pulling a shopping bag out of it. "Did you feed her while I was gone?"

Emma nodded as she watched Regina pull a package from the bag.

"I got you this bracelet, you switch wrists every time you feed her so you know which side. And you can move this piece to keep track of the time of her last feeding," Regina explained as she pulled the bracelet out of the packaging. It was yellow at least, with white numbers and a little red heart that Emma could slide over to indicate the time. She wondered if Regina picked yellow because she remembered she liked it, or if it was just a coincidence.

Emma slipped the bracelet on her wrist as Regina pulled a few preemie sleepers and hats and pacifiers from the bag. "She can't go home in a hospital sleeper," Regina explained. Emma pursed her lips and didn't say a word as she remembered the little sleeper she'd seen online, which she'd had full intentions of driving to a large baby store out of Storybrooke to purchase. It was pale purple with little green spikes up the back so that when you pulled the hood up it made the baby look like a tiny dragon. She thought Mal would love it.

She guessed it didn't matter now.

"You got anything else in there?" Emma asked, leaning forward to try to look in the bag.

"Receiving blankets."

"Oh."

"Was there something else you needed?"

Emma shrugged. "I think you were supposed to get me a push present."

"A what?"

"You know… I pushed your kid out, you give me a present. It's a thing. I read it online."

"Oh."

"I'm kidding Regina. I just want to go home."

Regina nodded, but Emma couldn't help but notice she looked more than just a little uncomfortable all of the sudden, as she took the sleeping baby from her to change her into a little mint green sleeper with tiny pink stars on it. She hoped Regina's sudden strange behaviour was not indicative of a step backwards when they'd barely even begun to move forward.

"What is with you?" Emma asked, as Regina got the baby strapped into the car seat.

"What? Nothing," Regina insisted. "I'm going to go get the nurse so we can get out of here."

Emma nodded and watched her leave again. Moments later, the nurse was there with a wheelchair, and helping Emma up to get changed.

"I brought some clothes from your house," Regina said, grabbing a pair of Emma's yoga pants and a tank top from the bag.

"You went in my house?"

"I… I didn't think you'd want to go home in what you came in."

"Yeah," Emma agreed, remembering that her jeans were ruined anyway. 

Regina took the baby out into the hallway as the nurse helped Emma get out of her monitors and changed. After a few minutes, the door reopened and the nurse emerged, pushing Emma in the wheelchair.

"I could walk," Emma pointed out.

"Hospital policy," the nurse replied.

Truthfully, Emma wasn't so sure she could walk any great distance at the moment. She hadn't been any further than the bathroom in her room since having the baby, and even that was a struggle. She foresaw herself spending a few nights on her couch, since the stairs at her place were likely going to be impossible for the time being.

So she allowed the nurse to push her out of the hospital and help her into the passenger seat of her own car, while Regina fastened the car seat into the base she'd already installed. She wondered if perhaps she should have taken her mother up on her offer earlier. Being at the hospital with Regina and the baby was one thing, but being at her home alone with her was going to be something else entirely.

Emma could feel the shift in tension when Regina got into the driver's seat. She didn't particularly care for anyone driving her Bug, and the only other person she'd ever rode shotgun to in it was Neal. She couldn't quite place her finger on why it was so uncomfortable, so she tried not to think about it, and turned to stare out the window instead. At least getting anywhere in Storybrooke was a short drive.

And they rode in silence the entire way. Emma wasn't sure if Regina didn't have anything to say, or just didn't know what to say, or perhaps was simply picking up on the vibe that Emma was putting off, but whichever it was, she made no attempt to break the silence, and neither did Emma.

"We're here," Regina said, after she'd stopped the car in Emma's driveway and Emma had made no attempt to move.

Emma nodded. "Yeah."

Regina narrowed her eyes at Emma and shook her head, before getting out to open the backdoor to get the baby. "Do you need any help getting in?" she asked, once Emma finally opened her door.

"No."

Emma pulled herself out of the car on shaky legs. Truthfully, help would have been nice but she wasn't about to ask for it now that she'd just turned it down. She did her best to maintain an even posture as she followed Regina up to the door and watched her unlock it with her own key. Emma guessed she must have used magic to get her keys in the first place, as she didn't remember her taking them. She couldn't even remember if she'd had them on her when she'd gone to the hospital in the first place.

She followed Regina into the living room and made it almost all the way to the couch before her knees buckled under her. Regina had just set the car seat down on the couch and gasped when Emma fell forward, about to take a header into the coffee table, catching her before her forehead could connect with the polished wood.

"Hey, hey, easy," Regina said, gently, as Emma tried to stand up again. "Here, come sit down."

Emma nodded, and felt that all too familiar dizziness hitting her again, though it wasn't as strong as it had been when she was pregnant. She clutched onto Regina's arms and felt her magic, though she was still certain that Regina had no idea what was happening. Emma breathed deep as Regina's magic entered her, steadying her as she sat down.

"You okay?"

Emma nodded again. "Yeah. Just lightheaded."

"Why don't you lie down and try to get some sleep? We probably have a good hour before she'll need to eat again."

"Yeah," Emma agreed, and she was already drifting. She lay down as Regina moved the car seat from the couch to the coffee table to give her some space, and she wasn't sure if she lifted her legs onto the couch herself or Regina helped her, as she was fading too quickly to really be aware.

Sleep would help, she was sure; she would feel better when she woke up.

She was vaguely aware of Regina's presence for just a few more moments, but still the sting of panic of something terrible happening to her baby girl hit her again mere seconds before she surrendered to sleep.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Chapter Text

Falling asleep feeling anxious had never ended well for Emma in the past, and today was no exception. Less than an hour after falling asleep, she woke up in the throes of a panic attack. Her hand immediately went to her chest as she felt the tightness there, and her heart felt like it was pounding in her ribs and her back and her stomach all at once.

She scanned the room, finding no sign of Regina or the baby, save for the empty car seat still perched on the coffee table. Emma closed her eyes and told herself that the presence of the car seat meant that Regina and the baby were still in the house, though that did little to stop her anxiety.

She knew it was irrational to think Regina would leave with the baby. After all, where would she go that Emma couldn't find her? Even in her current state, she was sure Regina must know that she'd crawl through hell and back if she had to, to track her down.

Breathe, Emma, she silently commanded herself. Regina didn't take the baby. The baby is fine. They're just in another room.

She focused on taking a few deep breaths, until she was sure she had herself under control enough to at least stand up, and go find Regina.

After another steadying breath, she rolled to her side and forced herself to sit up. She planted her feet firmly on the floor, and it helped to ground her, as she scanned the room again. Regina's purse and phone were sitting on the end table, and Emma was convinced that she hadn't left.

Still, she needed to know for sure.

Emma's legs were still shaky as she stood up, and that, coupled with the pain her back and abdomen made her wonder if standing was a good idea at all, let alone trying to walk.

But she needed to know that Regina and the baby were still here.

Walking slowly, in attempt to prevent another near fall, she made her way toward the kitchen, where she was sure she could smell something cooking. Sure enough, when she made it to the doorway, she found Regina stirring something over the stove, while the baby slept in a bassinet Emma had never seen before. Emma guessed it was one of Ryleigh's, and Regina has summoned it with magic. The idea of her daughter using Ryleigh's hand me downs didn't sit well with Emma, but she supposed it would have to suffice until she could get her a bassinet of her own.

Emma slumped against the wall as the effort of standing started to become too much. She wasn't sure if Regina heard the sound, or sensed her presence, but either way her eyes were on her in an instant.

"Emma, what are you doing?"

Emma swallowed before answering. She couldn't exactly come out with 'I have an irrational fear of you stealing our child away or some other terrible disaster happening if she's out of my sight for even a split second'.

"I wanted to see what you were doing," Emma lied.

"I'm making you some meals to put in the freezer, so you won't have to cook," Regina explained as she stepped over to Emma. "You shouldn't be up. You look pale."

"I'm fine," Emma said, feeling her defenses going up. The last thing she wanted was Regina doting over her like she was a helpless convalescent.

"You're not fine. You need to sit back down," Regina insisted, taking Emma by the arms to lead her back to the couch.

Emma shook her head quickly. "The baby!"

Regina flicked her wrist and the bassinet appeared next to the couch, the baby still sleeping soundly. Emma wasn't quite sure how she felt about Regina using magic on the baby, but she seemed to be fine and she supposed she would have to trust that Regina knew how much magic was safe to use in that regard, even if it made her feel uneasy.

The stress of the conflicting emotions soon had Emma feeling sick again, as Regina walked her back to the couch, practically supporting all of her weight.

"I should get you a bell or something," Regina said, off-handedly, "so you don't have to get up."

Emma nodded absently, though she could feel herself fading quickly. Her energy seemed to be nearly tapped out, and it seemed to take much less to drain her than it had, even when she was pregnant. She debated for a short moment whether she should ask Regina to call Mal over, but quickly decided that would be a waste of time when Regina was right here, and had made it clear she was willing to help.

"I need…" Emma said, almost breathlessly, as Regina helped her back down onto the couch.

"What do you need?"

Emma swallowed, trying to find her words. Mal would have just known, and she certainly wouldn't have let her get this far gone. "Magic," Emma finally whispered, holding her hands out to Regina and hoping the other woman would know what to do, somehow.

Regina grabbed a hold of Emma's hands quickly, and almost instantly Emma felt the relief of her magic flowing into her. It felt different, and still slightly unfamiliar compared to Mal, but it really did work faster. Emma wondered if it was more than just the baby - perhaps Regina's essence was just more compatible with own, naturally.

"Is it helping?"

Emma gave a weak smile, and nodded as she closed her eyes and let herself relax.

"This is what Mal did for you? When you weren't feeling well?"

Emma nodded again. "Yeah."

"What did she mean when she said it should have been me the whole time?"

Emma breathed a heavy sigh. She'd sort of hoped Regina hadn't caught that, or that she'd forgotten already, and she really wished Mal hadn't said anything at all. "She meant… your magic would have helped me more since the baby is a mix of both of us."

"So, you would have been better off with my help?"

"Yeah. But Mal's magic worked. Just not perfectly."

"Would you have carried to term if it were me and not her?"

Emma's eyes snapped open in surprise at the question. She hadn't thought about that before. "I… don't know. I guess we won't ever know."

"You should get some sleep now."

Emma nodded, finding that she couldn't think of a good reason to avoid sleep at the moment, and she didn't really want to anyway. She still had a little more time before the baby would need to eat again, and she supposed she should get all the rest she could until then.

"Leave the baby here if you go back to the kitchen," Emma said, as she lay back down on the couch, her eyes already closing again. "I need to be able to hear her when she wakes up to eat."

Regina didn't answer, and Emma didn't know if she was perhaps nodding or just looking at her with concern, but she stretched her arm out to place her hand on the bassinet anyway, just to be sure.


Emma found the remainder of the morning and early afternoon to be fairly calm by comparison to the first time she'd woken up. She'd fed the baby twice, and spent the rest of her time laying on the couch with her phone texting Lily when she wasn't dozing off, while Regina made meals to freeze for her and Henry. Emma almost wanted to believe that Regina had had some sort of change of heart, but she couldn't help but think she was doing it out of guilt and she was sure this newfound kindness wasn't going to last.

Still, she opted not to question it for the time being.

As the afternoon rolled on, Regina was finally finished in the kitchen and came to join Emma on the couch. Emma swung her legs over to sit up and make room for Regina, tossing her phone on the blue binder on the end table.

She'd forgotten about that binder.

"Emma, what's wrong?" Regina asked, when Emma seemed unable to tear her eyes away from it.

Emma shook her head, telling herself she wasn't going to cry. Hormonal overdrive or not, she wasn't going to cry in front of Regina over this. "It's, um… it's plans my mother was working on for a baby shower," Emma said quietly. "I guess, uh, I guess it doesn't matter now."

"You can still have a baby shower," Regina reasoned. "Lots of people have showers after the baby's been born."

Emma shrugged, choking back the tears that were still threatening to fall. How was she supposed to tell Regina how unfair this was? She was supposed to be able to enjoy her pregnancy this time around. She knew she should just be grateful that her baby was here at all, considering how close they'd come to losing her, but it was hard not to think of everything she'd still missed out on.

"Emma.."

"I'm fine," Emma said, nodding quickly as she heard the front door open. "That's Henry."

It was only moments before Henry and Snow were in the room, and Emma was able to forget about the shower for the time being, as her mother started questioning her on how she was feeling, and how her first day home had been, and if the baby was eating alright.

"Can I hold my sister now?" Henry asked, glancing back and forth between his mothers. Before Emma could answer, Regina nodded and stood up to pick up the baby, and place her in Henry's waiting arms.

"She's so tiny," Henry marvelled. "I don't think Uncle Neal was ever this tiny."

"He wasn't," Snow agreed.

"Did you name her yet?"

"Not yet," Regina said, before turning to Snow. "Are you planning on staying here tonight?"

"Oh," said Snow, clearly surprised by the question. "I suppose I should, if you're not."

"I don't need a babysitter," Emma muttered, though she was well aware that she actually did, since she could barely stand on her own. She supposed both her mother and Regina were also quite aware, as neither of them choice to comment on her interruption.

"I need to go home," Regina said, sounding almost disappointed. "I have to talk to Robin… I need to tell him."

Emma's heart began to race as she realized what Regina was saying. She hadn't been sure she'd even wanted Regina to bring her home in the first place, but somehow it hadn't occurred to her that Regina would have to leave, eventually. In spite of everything, she couldn't believe that Regina hadn't even asked to stay over on her first night home with the baby.

"Emma, are you alright?" Snow asked, and Emma knew the signs of panic must be showing on her face.

"I'm fine!" Emma snapped, before turning to Regina. "Regina, if you wanna go, just go."

"Emma!" Regina gasped, taken aback by the sudden change in her demeanor. "I didn't say I was going to leave right now!"

"Now, later… what difference does it make? Either way, you've gotta go home to your family."

Regina swallowed back the anger that was rising in her. Whale had warned her that Emma's hormones would likely cause some drastic and unpredictable mood swings, but it was still her natural instinct to want to fight back every time Emma baited her. Still, even Regina knew better than to fight with her now, and upsetting her any more than she already was wasn't likely to end well.

"Fine," Regina said, calmly. "But I'll be back tomorrow morning before your mother goes back to work."

Emma scowled, hating how much it sounded like Regina and her mother would be trading off shifts taking care of her while she convalesced, even though that's exactly what they were doing.

"I'll see you in the morning, little one," Regina said softly to the baby, before leaning in and placing a gentle kiss on her forehead. She said her goodbyes to Henry and Snow, and, not without trepidation, she finally stood and picked up her purse and phone from the end table, and made her way to the front door.

She felt sick to her stomach as she opened the door and stepped out on the porch, and the desire to run right back inside and tell Emma she wasn't leaving her baby for a second was overwhelming. But, Emma was right. She did have a family of sorts waiting at home for her. Not her family, as her own children were on the other side of that door, but children who had become dependent on her none the less, and a fiancé who deserved to know the truth, even if she had no idea how she was going to tell him.

Sighing, Regina stepped off the porch to make her way to her car, only remembering once she made it to the driveway that her car was at her own house, and she'd driven Emma's car here. She supposed being in emotional overdrive, combined with sleep deprivation from the night sleeping in a chair in Emma's hospital room, were affecting her ability to think clearly. She shook her head and waved her arms to poof herself back to the mansion.


"We need to talk."

Regina waited until the kids were both in bed and asleep to attempt to speak with Robin. She'd had all day to think about it, but she really couldn't come up with a better opener than we need to talk. It was cliché, but she supposed there was a reason no one liked hearing those four words.

"Alright," Robin agreed, albeit apprehensively, and followed Regina into the sitting room. "You're not calling off the wedding, are you?"

Regina forced a tight smile, knowing that Robin was attempting to make a joke to lighten the obvious tension in the room, but it still hit her like a punch to the gut that that might very well be the outcome of this conversation.

"No," she said, slowly, as she sat down, Robin quickly following suit. "I have, um, I have to confess something to you. It's not going to be easy to say, and it's certainly not going to be easy for you to hear."

Robin's eyebrows knitted together as he finally seemed to accept the gravity of whatever Regina was about to say. "Alright, so tell me, then."

"I did something… I… uh," Regina stammered. She wasn't ever one to be at a loss for words, but she'd also never confessed to adultery before.

"Regina, whatever it is, just tell me."

"I slept with Emma."

"What?"

Regina dropped her eyes to the ground to avoid the look of shock on Robin's face.

"What… uh… when?"

"Thanksgiving," Regina said, quietly.

"Thanksgiving? Regina, that was months ago!"

Regina didn't have to look up to know that the expression on Robin's face was changing from shock to anger. She knew she should look up - she deserved to see how she'd hurt him - but she couldn't. She'd seen that look enough times on Emma's face in the last few months, she wasn't sure how much more pain she'd caused to people she cared about she could bear on her conscience.

"I know," Regina said, swallowing hard.

"That was before we even got engaged!"

"I know," Regina repeated, nodding. "And it was just that one time, I swear."

"Is that supposed to make it all better?"

"No," Regina insisted, shaking her head. "It's not, and… oh, God, there's something else."

"Well, go on then."

Regina let out a long sigh. "I… well, we - Emma and I… I… I got her pregnant."

This time, Regina looked up when Robin didn't answer. His expression had changed to one of utter confusion now, and Regina wondered if he was about to ask her if she'd suffered a head injury, because she knew all too well how little sense she sounded like she was making.

"How… is that even possible?"

Regina gave a half-hearted shrug. "Magic, apparently. I didn't know it was possible - neither of us did - but, it is."

"So that's why you keep refusing a summer wedding then, is it? Not because of overwhelming Henry with a new family in addition to Emma's child, but because Emma's bearing your child. Is that it?"

Regina shook her head quickly. "No, no. I didn't know. I just found out yesterday. And… she's not having the baby in the summer. She already had it."

"I thought she was only a few months along?"

"She was… we got in a fight when I found out. I lost my temper and she started to miscarry. Mal and I, we used magic to speed up her pregnancy and she delivered yesterday."

"So, these were the 'things' you had to take care of today, then? Emma and her baby?"

Regina nodded. "I couldn't tell you over a text message, obviously. Speeding up the pregnancy took a severe toll on Emma's body. She's on bed rest and I had to stay with her. It's my baby and… well, it's my fault that this all happened this way."

"She blames you for the miscarriage?"

"She didn't miscarry and… I don't know if she blames me, but it doesn't really matter. It's my fault." Regina felt sick to her stomach as she said the words out loud. She was sure it was her fault, and here she was, confessing it to Robin, instead of Emma, who was the one who really should have been hearing it. "I hurt her so much."

"Her?" Robin repeated. "I'm your fiancé. I'm the one you agreed to marry and have a life with. She was a one night stand."

"Don't talk about Emma like that," Regina said, her voice quiet but still strong enough to deter Robin from making any more snide remarks about Emma, for the moment.

Robin shook his head, pausing before speaking again. For her part, Regina remained silent, letting him take it all in. She knew it was a lot - she'd just been there herself - but she was still anxious for this conversation to reach its end.

"So," Robin said, finally. "What is your plan, then?"

"My plan?"

"Yes. What do you plan to do? Leave me for Emma? Go after shared custody? What?"

"To be honest, I haven't thought that far ahead. It's been a sort of whirlwind, really. And I wasn't sure if you would leave me once you found out."

Robin nodded slowly. "I suppose we should postpone the wedding, at the very least."

"Okay," Regina agreed.

"And if you want to make this work, I would ask you to cut ties with Emma," Robin continued.

Regina bristled. "You can't ask me to do that. I'm going to see my daughter."

"Your daughter can come here. If Emma doesn't like it, we'll take her to court for shared custody."

"It's not that simple, Robin. Emma is breastfeeding, and the baby needs to be with her. I can't feed her without Emma. There isn't a court in the world that would side with us, and furthermore, what the hell court could we even go to? Conventional courts don't have jurisdiction over magical babies. And I won't put Emma through that. She's been through enough."

Robin sighed and rubbed his temples, leaning back in his seat. "I should have figured this out, you know? The signs were all there: how you and Emma suddenly stopped speaking, how she made a horrendous scene at the diner when I proposed to you."

"She was sick."

"Of course she was."

Regina felt the wind get knocked out of her as she heard Robin reiterate the same thing that she'd said to Emma when she'd told her she was sick. Had she really sounded that cold and crass?

She guessed Robin was right. If all the signs were there that she'd slept with Emma, all the signs were certainly there that something was going on with Emma, and Regina had failed to pick up on any of them.

No, she supposed it was worse than that. She'd blatantly ignored them.

"So, where do we go from here?" Regina heard herself ask the question, but her mind was a million miles away as she half-listened to Robin say he didn't know, and he'd need time to sort through it, and how he'd be sleeping in the guest bedroom until he figured it out.

And Regina sat alone in the sitting room long after he'd left the room and gone to bed, wondering where exactly she was supposed to go from here.


"So, what's wrong with the names on that list we made?" Henry asked. He was sitting next to Emma on the couch, still holding his tiny sister in his arms. Snow had had Granny bring Neal to Emma's and she had him in the upstairs bathroom, bathing him and getting him ready for bed as she waited for David to come over after work.

Emma was relieved at how attached Henry appeared to already be to his sister. She'd had the slightest worry that he might be jealous, considering the situation at Regina's, but thankfully that didn't appear to be the case. At least one thing was going right.

"She doesn't look like any of them," Emma said, with a shrug.

"And you and mom haven't talked about any others?"

Emma shook her head. "Not yet. And you're being really cool about this, by the way. I thought you might be mad I didn't tell you."

"Well, I wish you had, but it's okay. And yeah, it's kind of cool, actually. I mean, I never thought I would have a sibling who would also be both my mom's kid too, you know?"

"Yeah, I didn't really expect to share another kid with your mother, either."

"So… have you two talked about what it means?"

"What what means?" Emma asked, narrowing her eyes at Henry.

"Well… magic babies come from true love, right?"

Emma's eyebrows shot up in surprise. "Your mother told you that?"

Henry smiled. "No. But Grandma suggested it and she kind of confirmed it."

"Really?" Emma asked, immediately hating how excited that little bit of information made her. She reminded herself that Regina was at her home, with Robin, right now, and seeing as how she hadn't come back over crying or with bags packed, Emma could only guess the confession had gone well.

Fucking figures, Emma thought to herself. It wasn't even that she wanted Regina, she just didn't want her to be happy with Robin. Maybe it was petty and immature, but she didn't care. Being in pain and confined to her couch was making her miserable already, and knowing that Regina was happy wasn't making it any better.

"Well, she said true love comes in many forms," Henry explained.

Emma nodded, feeling immediately deflated. "She's probably right."

"I think she's wrong."

"Henry," Emma sighed, closing her eyes. "Please promise me you're not going to try to play matchmaker between your mother and I."

"I'm not!" Henry insisted. "I'm just saying…"

"No. Please. Don't 'just say', alright? This is a messy situation and it's probably going to be messy for a while. Whatever Regina decides to do, and whatever I decide to do… we're both adults and you've gotta respect that, alright?"

"Yeah but… she should be here, shouldn't she? This should be her family, not Robin and his kids. I'm her son, and this baby is both of yours and that gives you leverage."

"Henry, I know you don't want her to marry Robin, but this isn't the solution to that, alright? The baby isn't a bargaining chip and you will always be her son. If I use you two to come between her and Robin, she'll resent me for it. Even if we ended up together, she'd resent me and I wouldn't be happy. I'm not going to be the one she settles for because something else didn't work out. Got it?"

"But what if she wasn't settling? What if she picked you? Then what?"

"Henry!" Emma whined, shaking her head. "Enough, okay? I just had a baby twenty four hours ago. Give me a break, alright kid?"

"Okay. Can I at least help you think of names?"

Emma smiled and nodded. "Yeah, kid, that I'd like. But your mom gets a say, too."

"Okay," Henry agreed, and Emma hoped that he would throw himself head first into this task, and stay far away from her love life for the time being.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Chapter Text

Sleeping alone that night was rough on Regina, not because she missed Robin in her bed, but because she already missed her baby girl, and she worried about how Emma was making out on her own. Logically, she knew Henry, Snow and David were all there, and she had no real reason to worry, but still, that was her baby, and she knew she should have been there on her daughter's first night home.

She tried not to think about how she could have been, if she'd handled so many things differently from the start.

Still, she couldn't go back and change anything, so she tried to stay optimistic that it wasn't too late to fix things with Emma, and restore their friendship, at the very least. With that thought in mind, she was up with the sun that morning, getting ready to go back to Emma's, and hoping she could make it out of the house before Robin and the kids were up. She knew leaving him a note after the bombshell she'd dropped last night wasn't exactly fair, but she also didn't want to fight with him. She'd made sacrifices for his child, and though the circumstances weren't remotely similar, she was sure she shouldn't have to defend her desire to be with her own child.

"You're going back already?"

"Yes," Regina sighed, turning back to face Robin. She'd nearly made it out the front door and thought she was in the clear. "I told Emma I'd be back in the morning."

"So, this is how it's going to be now, is it? You'll sleep here and then go back to her without so much as a word to me?"

"Robin, I… I don't know how it's going to be now. We haven't exactly had time to figure anything out, but my daughter is there and I told you last night I'm going to see her. I just wanted… I just wanted to go this morning without a fight, alright?"

Robin clenched his jaw as he watched Regina slipping into her shoes by the front door. "So I'm just supposed to accept that my fiancée has two families now, overnight? You're going to split your time between us and them and I'm expected to just sit idly by and await your return, whenever that might be?"

"I know. I know I screwed up and I know this is a mess and it's my fault, but Robin, you can't make me feel guilty for wanting to see my daughter."

"Well, if there's one thing I've learned about you, it's that you're going to do what you want, regardless. So, go on, then."

Regina hesitated for a moment. She knew this fight was going to happen, sooner or later, and she knew she didn't really have a leg to stand on, but she'd promised Emma she'd be back in the morning, and she'd let Emma down enough already.

She left without another word.


"There's my precious girl," Regina cooed, as Henry handed the baby off to her in the morning. Snow was still busy getting Neal ready to meet up with Granny, and Emma was watching them from the couch, looking exhausted and like she might fall asleep at any moment. "How was last night?"

"Good. I think she likes me," Henry said, running a finger over his sister's cheek.

"Of course she likes you. You're her big brother."

It wasn't long before Snow had Neal ready, and the Charmings and Henry were on their way out the door for the day. Emma was asleep before her mother could even say goodbye, but Snow informed Regina that the baby had just eaten, and she would be good for a while.

Regina sighed once the house was quiet, and the evidence that her daughter really had just eaten made its way to her nose.

"I wonder where Mommy keeps your diapers," Regina said, softly. She didn't particularly want to wake Emma, and figured she could find diapers on her own while she got some much needed rest.

Figuring that the nursery would be a safe bet, Regina headed up the stairs in search of the room. She'd never been upstairs in Emma's house, but it didn't take long to find the pale yellow room filled with baby things. She knew Emma had only had Henry's help setting the nursery up, and she was impressed at how well they'd done.

In addition to the yellow walls, there were sheer lavender curtains over the big window that the white wooden crib sat under. The crib bedding was yellow, pink and lavender, and in lieu of a teddy bear, a little stuffed dragon sat in the corner of the crib. Regina knew it would have to come out when the baby began sleeping there, but Emma hadn't expected the baby so soon.

Next to the crib sat a white dresser, and above that, on the wall was a framed picture of Emma's first ultrasound. Regina swallowed back the sick feeling she got at the realization that she hadn't been there to witness either of her children's first ultrasounds. She wasn't even sure Emma had had one with Henry, as she'd never felt comfortable asking her about that pregnancy.

She guessed there really was a lot they never talked about.

She guessed that really was a problem.

Against the other wall sat a change table, and Regina was relieved to find it fully stocked already.

"See, we got this under control, baby girl," said Regina, as she changed the baby's diaper. "You really do need a name, though. Maybe I can convince Mommy when she's awake."


It wasn't very long before Emma was awake again, as it wasn't very long before the baby was hungry and crying again.

"When did you get here?" Emma asked, her voice husky as she scooted herself up into a sitting position.

"You saw me this morning," Regina reminded her, as she handed her the baby to feed.

"Oh. Right. I've been kind of… disoriented," Emma offered by way of explanation, but Regina frowned, noting the completely detached and faraway look in Emma's eyes.

"Emma, are you feeling alright?"

"Fine. Well, all things considered, I mean."

"Right. How was your night last night?"

"Fine. How was yours?"

"Emma…. I'm not trying to make small talk."

Emma nodded, looking at Regina with a serious face. "Neither am I."

"You want to know how it went with Robin," Regina acknowledged with a sigh. "About as well as one could expect, I suppose."

"He's pissed."

"Well, of course he's… pissed. Wouldn't you be? Last night I had to confess that I cheated on him, and explain how that night resulted in the birth of a child. Magical babies are a lot to process on their own, add in the betrayal and… well, he has a right to be angry."

"I guess…"

"You don't think so?"

"It's just a little bit hypocritical, don't you think? I mean, on Thanksgiving you were telling me how he slept with you while Marian was under that freezing curse. He cheated on her, so what's the difference?"

"I suppose it makes a difference if you're the one cheating, or the one being cheated on."

"Yeah. Like I said: hypocritical."

"We have a lot to work out. We - well, he - decided to postpone the wedding. And he slept in the guest room last night."

Emma nodded slowly, looking down at the baby as Regina spoke. She didn't want to be happy about it, but a small part of her was glad that Regina was finally suffering some fall out from everything, for once.

Regina watched in silence as Emma finished feeding the baby, and burped her, before snuggling her up to her chest and leaning back against the arm of the couch. She waited until Emma looked settled to speak again. "So… we really need to talk about a name."

Emma looked visibly annoyed as her eyes snapped back up to meet Regina's. "I told you we'll name her when I'm ready. I don't… I don't know what will suit her yet. She's stuck with it for the rest of her life, you know."

"I'm aware. I have named a child before."

"Right. Well, you had someone to name him for. I don't have anyone to name her for, and I don't really think you do, either."

"No, I suppose not," Regina conceded. "But she doesn't have to be named for someone. We didn't name Ryleigh for anyone."

"Oh my God. Can you just not mention Robin's baby for once? Is that really so much to ask?"

"Emma! I just - nevermind. Fine. So what are we doing in the meantime, then? Just continue to call her 'the baby'?"

Emma shrugged. "I only ever got to make one choice when I had Henry, and that was to give him up. Really, it wasn't even a choice, because there was no other option. I couldn't let myself love him when I was pregnant. I couldn't get attached. I couldn't think about a name or his future or anything, because he was never mine. Can you understand that?"

"Emma-"

"No, please just listen. I didn't have any control then and now it's like… it's like I have too much control. She depends on me for everything already. What if I do something wrong? What if I pick the wrong name and she hates me? I just don't want to fuck this up."

"Emma, those are perfectly normal worries to have. It's terrifying to have someone completely depend on you, but you aren't on your own in this, you know."

"I know, I'm not… but I kind of am."

Regina pursed her lips and decided not to comment on that statement. After all, she knew what Emma meant and there wasn't really much she could say. They sat in an awkward silence for several minutes - long enough that Regina actually exhaled in relief when she heard the doorbell ring.

"Are you expecting someone?"

Emma nodded absently. "Yeah. Lily."

Regina clenched her jaw and nodded, getting up to answer the door. Lily smirked as Regina opened the door, and it was all she could do to force a smile instead of blasting her off the doorstep with magic.

"Good morning, Lily," Regina said, as sweetly as she could manage, though she knew Lily saw right through it and she didn't particularly care.

"Where's Emma?"

Regina fought the urge to roll her eyes as she motioned toward the living room. She hung back around the doorway, not sure what she should do now that Lily had taken up her place on the couch, and Emma seemed much happier and more comfortable with her friend around.

Regina watched in silence, quickly realizing she really did have two families now, and yet she didn't really feel like she belonged to either of them. Her children, and the mother of her children were here, but Regina had made a commitment to Robin and she wasn't sure how she could ever resolve things and make this work - not the way she wanted it to, anyway.

Sure, Emma needed her right now, but did she even want her around?

She was silently grateful when the baby started to stir again, giving her an excuse to come back into the room.

"She probably wants to walk around," Regina stated, holding out her arms for the baby. She couldn't help but notice the disappointed look on Emma's face as she reluctantly handed the baby over, and she knew it must be difficult on her that she couldn't get up and walk with the baby herself.

"I'll take her outside and let her get some fresh air," Regina offered, picking up the knitted baby blanket from the arm of the chair and wrapping it around the baby. Truthfully, she just wanted a reason to get out of the house so she didn't have to listen to Emma and Lily chat like everything wasn't a giant mess right now.

Emma watched with longing eyes as Regina turned and walked away.

"Hey," said Lily, snapping Emma's attention back to her as Regina walked out the sliding glass door into the backyard. "What's wrong? You want me to go get the baby back from her?'

Emma shook her head. "No, it's not that. I just wish I could get up and walk with her, you know?"

"Yeah, well still… if Regina's getting on your nerves or whatever, I'll tell her to leave."

"She's fine. It's her baby, too. She has a right to be here with her."

"It's your baby too. And your house and your life and she didn't want any part of any of that until the baby came along."

"God, Lily, it's not like she's moving in! She has her own house and a financé. Trust me, I haven't forgotten."

"And she treated you like shit. Have you forgotten that?"

"No," Emma scowled. "Just… it's complicated, okay? And you don't have to be so rude to her, by the way. The simple fact of the matter is she's going to be here. You're my best friend but she's my baby's mother and if you two can't get along it's only going to stress me out more."

"Fine. Just promise me you're not going to be blinded by all this true love bullshit, okay?"

"You think true love is bullshit?"

Lily shrugged. "Well, supposedly my mother shared true love with Briar Rose to create me, and look where it got her."

"Right. But she didn't act on it, did she? It's not just some ticket to happiness or whatever. It takes work. My parents just make it look easy."

"You think Regina's worth the work?"

"I think… I think Regina's engaged. I think our friendship is worth salvaging, at least for the sake of the two children we share, but beyond that… I don't know. I'm trying not to think about it - or any prospective relationship right now. I'm one day into six weeks of bed rest and I've got a brand new baby to worry about. Everything else can wait."

"I get that, Emma, but time's still moving forward, new baby or not. You can't just remain in stasis and act like nothing's wrong for six weeks, either. At the very least, you could be naming your child."

Emma frowned. "I don't want to talk about that."

"Why?"

"Because, Lily, I'm just tired. I think I should take a nap."

"Fine," Lily sighed, as Emma laid back down on the couch. She grabbed the afghan from the back of the couch and tucked her in, promising to sit with her while she slept.


"Look, Mom," said Henry, as he came to sit beside Emma after school, holding a piece of lined paper in his hand. Regina had gone home shortly after Snow had returned, and as much as Emma hated feeling like she was their joint ward, and they were at shift change, the fact that Lily had stayed all afternoon had made things strained and awkward for all three of them, and Emma was actually a little grateful when they both went home.

"Hey, kid. Whatcha got there?"

"A list of baby name ideas."

"Oh," Emma sighed, suddenly less than thrilled, but she took the paper anyway. "Let's see what you've got here."

Emma scanned the list, hoping that something might jump out at her. Andrea, Savannah, Emily, Natalie, Leah, Miranda…

"I don't know kid…" Emma sighed again, shaking her head as she handed the paper back to Henry. "It's hard, you know? Maybe you and your mom should just pick something. She did a good job picking your name."

"Come on, Mom. What's wrong with these names?"

"Nothing, Henry, it's just not an easy choice, you know? What name do you like?"

"I like Emily," he suggested.

Emma scrunched up her nose and shook her head. "Too close to Emma. Emma Swan and Emily Swan?"

"It's gonna be just Swan?"

"Well, that is my last name."

"I know that. I just… I don't know, I guess it didn't occur to me that me and my sister would have different last names."

"Well, your mom and I haven't talked about her last name either. We need a first name first. What else do you got?"

"Um," said Henry, as he scanned through the list he'd made again. "Okay… what about Sarah?"

"Why Sarah?"

Henry shrugged. "It's a good name."

"They're all good names, kid. That's the problem. And the names we picked before were all good names… how are we supposed to pick something that suits her when we don't even know her?"

"Sarah means 'Princess'," Henry offered, hopefully. "And technically she is a princess."

Emma smiled and shook her head. "True… I guess your mom and I really will have to sit down and figure this all out, soon. Can I have your list back?"

"Yeah. of course," Henry agreed, handing her the paper back. "I'll think of more names tomorrow."

"We're trying to narrow down the list, not make it longer!"

"Right, but… I think when you hear the right name, you're just gonna know."

"I hope so, kid."

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Chapter Text

Over the next several days, Emma and Regina found themselves falling into a routine that they never really openly discussed; they just let it happen. Regina spent her nights and most of her late afternoons and evenings at her home, and she drastically cut back on her hours from work, allowing her to spend most of her days with Emma and their daughter. She never asked to come over, and Emma never told to her leave or asked when she would be back, they just grew to accept this new state of normal without questioning it, for the moment.

For her part, Regina knew it was something Emma didn't want to discuss. She didn't want to discuss a schedule that had to be put in place because she was in no physical state to be left alone, especially not with a newborn. Emma had always been fiercely independent, and Regina knew that this sudden utter dependence on herself, Snow, Mal, and even Lily was a huge blow to Emma's ego, and she knew she wasn't the only one tiptoeing around the subject to spare Emma's feelings. She also was quickly realizing she wasn't the only one Emma was being short with.

She assumed it must Emma's frustration over the whole situation, combined with a bad case of cabin fever, but as time progressed, Regina quickly learned that it didn't take much to set Emma off these days. Whale continued to chalk it up to postpartum hormones when he made a house call for Baby Girl Swan's one week check up - as Emma refused to let Regina or even Snow leave the house with the baby without her - but Regina was convinced that it ran a lot deeper than that.

Though she wouldn't dare broach the subject with Emma, she was still sure that Emma blamed her for everything that had happened.

It had been ten days since the baby had come home, and no one - not even Henry - had brought up the idea of naming her in at least five; discussion of things like names brought Emma to tears more often than not.

On top of everything, there was something else weighing heavily on Regina's conscience, which concerned her more when she was at home with her other family than the fact that her relationship with Robin was rapidly disintegrating around her, and that was the fact that she felt like a hypocrite for advocating her right to see her daughter when she'd forcibly separated Zelena from her own daughter.

She didn't dare mention it to Robin, not when they were still barely on speaking terms, but she found it nearly impossible to look at Ryleigh now and not be overwhelmed with guilt. It seemed like the easy choice to banish Zelena at the time, all things considered, but now she had to wonder what really gave her the right?

She couldn't shake the thought of Zelena as she sat in the baby's nursery in Emma's house, rocking her own daughter and staring at the mirror across the room, wishing she had the magical strength to see into other realms.


It was early afternoon on the baby's tenth day home, after she'd been fed and was sleeping soundly in the bassinette near the end of the couch. Normally, Emma would have tried to get a nap in while the baby slept, but she was distracted by the perplexed look Regina had been wearing most of the time for the last few days. The curiosity was eating at her, and she needed to know.

"What's up with you?" Emma asked, trying to sound casual, though their interactions had been anything but casual for some time now.

"What? Oh, nothing," Regina said, brushing it off.

"That look on your face isn't nothing. What's going on? Problems with Robin still?"

Regina shrugged. "Nothing's changed there. He still barely speaks to me and sleeps in the other room. It's hard to have an actual discussion about the future, I suppose, when I'm either here, or we're there with his kids. We're kind of just in limbo, I guess."

"And that's not what's bothering you."

Regina studied Emma's eyes, knowing that she was seeing right through her, as she usually did. "I've been thinking a lot about my sister, actually," Regina confessed, with a sigh.

"Really?" asked Emma. "Why?"

"I, um… do you think I did the right thing by sending her back to Oz?"

Emma studied the seriousness of Regina's face for a moment. It had been so long that they'd actually had a real conversation, about anything, that Emma had almost forgotten what Regina looked like when she was doubting herself and actually allowing herself to appear vulnerable. Emma knew opening up wasn't Regina's forté, and she'd known for quite some time that she was one of the very few people that Regina actually opened up to, at all.

At least, she had been at one point. She wondered if, perhaps, they were heading in that direction again.

"I don't know," Emma admitted, after a few moments of thought. Truthfully, she'd never really had time or reason to put much thought into Zelena's departure at all. "I guess you did what you had to do, right? To protect Robin and Ryleigh."

"But was I protecting them? Do you think Zelena would have really hurt her own daughter?"

"Regina… it's been months. Why is this bothering you so much now?"

"Because, I used to be like her. Having Henry in my life, it gave me a reason to change. Having someone to love, and who loved me back… it was something I didn't think was possible. What if motherhood would have changed her, and I took that chance away?"

"Maybe it wouldn't have."

"Maybe… but is it fair that she has to go on, missing her child growing up, and knowing she's out there, somewhere, wondering if she's okay?"

Emma gave a small shrug. "I did it for ten years."

"Yes, but that was different. That was your choice."

Emma stiffened. "I never had a choice, Regina,you know that. It wasn't like I just decided I didn't want to be a mother. I couldn't be a mother. I was a homeless teenager in prison with no family or friends. There was no choice."

"Emma, I didn't mean it like that. I mean… you got to make the decision to give Henry his best chance. I know that couldn't have been easy, but you still got to make that one choice to give him a chance at a life you couldn't give him then. Zelena didn't have a say at all. I took that from her."

Emma swallowed, pushing down her annoyance. "I don't know if you made the right decision. For all you know Zelena could have taken Ryleigh and disappeared and Robin would have never seen her again."

Regina nodded, letting out a slow sigh. "I just wish I could know. I wish I could know if she was hurting over this, or if she even cares at all."

"She cares. You don't carry a child inside of you and not care. Nothing in my life has ever hurt as bad as listening to Henry cry in the delivery room, and knowing I couldn't have him."

"There was a time when I thought nothing could hurt as badly as losing Daniel, until the moment I made eye contact with the child I raised for ten years, and he didn't even know who I was. I already miss our daughter when I'm not here, and she's only ever a five minute drive away."

Emma frowned, glancing over at the sleeping baby in the bassinette. "I was going to tell you, you know."

"What?"

"That the baby was yours. I was going to tell you before she was born."

"I know. For what it's worth, I understand why you didn't. I didn't exactly make anything easy on you, and Emma, I am sorry for that."

Emma looked back at Regina and nodded. "Yeah." Emma's voice came out a whisper. She hadn't meant it that way, but she knew it wasn't lost on Regina. She cleared her throat before speaking again. "You really hurt me, you know. I thought… well, I guess it doesn't matter. It is what it is, right? We're in this mess now and it's not going away so we have to learn to live with it, right?"

"Emma, I… I'm sorry that you felt like you had to go through all of this alone. I'm sure it felt like the first time you were pregnant all over again and-"

"No. It was nothing like the first time I was pregnant. Yeah, I felt hurt and betrayed and terrified, but I wasn't alone this time."

"I know, you had your parents and Mal and Lily. What I meant was, you felt like you couldn't tell me, just like you couldn't tell Neal."

"That's not the same. Neal wasn't even in the country when I found out I was pregnant. I didn't know where he was."

"I know-"

"No, you don't know. The real difference is, in spite of everything, I still knew that Neal loved me. He never treated me like an afterthought!"

"You have never once been an afterthought, Emma."

"Well, you have a funny way of showing it," Emma scoffed. "I thought Neal had abandoned me, but really, he did what he had to do to keep me on a path to a fate I only had because of you in the first place. But you! You listened to me tell you all my doubts about my relationship with Hook, and then you took me bed, and the next day you told me it was all a mistake and there was nothing between us. I've been abandoned by a lot of people in my life, Regina, but I never expected that from you."

"Emma-"

"No, just don't. Just fucking don't. You want to assuage your guilt over something? Let's check in on your sister. Maybe you'll catch a break and she'll be fine, and you can keep going on pretending that your actions don't affect anyone else!"

"Emma, don't!"

Emma ignored Regina as she waved a hand to magically produce a mirror that hovered in front of them, and Regina forgot for a moment that she was trying to stop Emma from using magic as she saw her sister's face appear on the glass surface before her.

Regina felt her heart drop to her stomach at the sight before her. Zelena was dressed all in black, which wasn't surprising, but she didn't look like herself at all. Her hair was limp, and there was a lost look in her eyes and what appeared to be a very strong drink of amber liquid in the glass in her hand.

"Oh my God," Regina whispered under her breath, her eyes wide at the sight of her sister looking utterly destroyed. She didn't have much time to process, however, as the mirror suddenly fell from her view, smashing on the floor in front of them as Emma made a pained sound and slumped forward.

"Emma!" Without a second thought, Regina grabbed Emma by the shoulders, pulling her up and against her, wrapping her arms around her tightly and allowing her magic to flow into her. Emma was shaking and hot to the touch as her head lulled against Regina's chest.

"I'm okay," Emma forced a whisper, though she didn't have enough strength to pull herself out of Regina's arms.

"No, you're not," Regina countered firmly, though she moved one hand from Emma's shoulder to gently stroke her hair. "Please, just let me help you."

Emma sighed and nodded, though she really didn't have much of a choice in the matter. This was only the second time she'd taken magic from Regina since the baby was born, but she knew it worked better, and faster, than Mal's did, and she wasn't sure she'd be able to get an entire sentence out if she attempted to ask Regina to call Mal.

And she knew Mal would not be happy to learn she'd used magic in the first place.

Still, Emma didn't want to feel as secure as she did right now in Regina's arms, because she knew it wasn't real. It didn't mean anything other than Regina wasn't going to sit there and watch her keel over and pass out, when she could do something about it. Nothing was going to be fixed by this, she knew, but she still couldn't help the tears that were starting to fall of their own volition.

Whale blamed her erratic emotions on hormones, but she knew she wasn't like this after Henry was born. Sure, she hadn't had a baby to disrupt her sleep schedule, but she'd still been in prison and hardly recouping in ideal conditions. This was something more and though she'd tried to keep her fears to herself as much as she could, suddenly in the moment, feeling sick and light-headed but somehow completely safe with Regina's magic flowing through her veins, she voiced the one thing she'd been keeping hidden from everyone.

"Regina… what if I can never love the baby?"

There was a long moment of silence, and for a moment Emma wondered if she'd even said it out loud. She hoped she hadn't, since she'd been denying it, even to herself, and she was sure this was the one thing that was going to make her the worst mother in existence.

"You don't love her?"

Emma swallowed hard at Regina's words, squeezing her eyes shut and noticing that Regina didn't stop holding her, or stroking her hair. There was nothing accusatory in her question, and suddenly Emma heard the words pouring from her own mouth before she even had time to process what she was saying.

"I don't know!" Emma admitted, keeping her eyes closed as she spoke. "Everything I read said I was supposed to bond with the baby while I was carrying her but I didn't get the chance. I had barely even felt her move and then suddenly she was here and I lost all that time.

"Emma… I didn't carry Henry. I didn't even meet him until he was three weeks old, and I still bonded with him. You can't get that lost time back, but you can bond with her now."

"You can bond with her. When I'm not feeding her, I'm sleeping, and I can't get up and walk with her or doing anything and then... well now I probably just set my recovery back even further."

"Emma, being a mother to a newborn is terrifying on a good day. There was a time when I thought I was in over my head with Henry, and truthfully, I considered sending him back. He doesn't know that… no one really knows that… but I didn't think I could do it. It's okay to doubt yourself - it's perfectly normal - just remember that that little girl already loves you unconditionally. She's not going to remember this time and you will bond with her, in your own time. Look at Henry. You didn't meet him until he was ten and you love him."

"But I was never his mother until you gave us those fake memories," Emma pointed out, softly.

"Those memories were fake, yes, but magic can't force love. You loved him on your own."

Emma nodded, as she unconsciously pushed herself closer to Regina. She was starting to feel better, physically, but she wasn't quite ready to let go of the comfort of Regina's embrace yet. She wished she could just hold on to this moment, having Regina's attention and support not because she was passing off the baby to her, or talking about baby names, but because Regina was supposed to be her friend and she needed a friend right now.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Chapter Text

Emma felt the swoosh of magic in the air before she even had to look up to see Mal had just poofed herself into the room. She was still lying against Regina, Regina's arms were still around her, and the mirror was still in shards on the ground. She knew she was busted.

"What happened here?" Mal asked, frowning down at the broken mirror as Emma looked up at her, slightly sheepishly.

"Emma isn't feeling well," Regina responded immediately. "But everything's fine."

"Bullshit. Emma, I can feel your magic. What did you do?"

Emma motioned to the broken mirror on the floor with one hand. "I wasn't thinking," Emma replied. "But Regina was here and I'm okay now."

"Right," Mal said, still shaking her head and she waved a hand to vanish the broken glass, before turning her attention to the baby. "Hello, darling."

Emma moved to extricate herself from Regina's arms as she watched Mal pick up the sleeping baby and cradle her close to her chest. "Don't wake her up," Emma warned, though she doubted Mal was even paying attention as she smiled down at the baby.

"You have to be more careful, you know," Mal scolded gently, her eyes bouncing between Emma and Regina, and Emma knew that was her silent way of telling Regina to stop her from doing something like that again.

"I know," Emma sighed. "I got upset and I wasn't thinking… and, I mean, I didn't realize how much magic would drain me still, since she was born. I thought you said you felt better after you… you know…"

"Laid an egg?" Mal offered, knowing the idea was still strange to Emma.

"Yeah."

"I felt better, yes, in that I wasn't so sick anymore, but my magic was weakened, and I didn't have anyone around to give me a boost. How else do you think your parents were able to get away with Lily's egg? If I were myself, I would have been able to roast them, but it just wasn't in me."

Emma nodded. She hadn't really thought of that before, but she supposed it made sense. Still, she opted not to mention how grateful she was that Mal hadn't been herself in that moment.

"You actually do look better though," Mal commented, tilting her head to one side. She shifted the baby into one arm and approached Emma, reaching forward to lay a hand flat on Emma's chest. A white glow encompassed Mal's hand for a moment, and she raised an eyebrow in surprise. "You feel stronger. Regina's magic is good for you."

Emma shot Regina a quick glance before turning back to Mal. "Right. You said that before."

"No, honey, I mean… it's not just more compatible; it's healing you."

"So I could recover quicker?" Emma asked, a small hopeful smile forming on her lips.

"I don't see why not."

"I'm willing to try, if you want to," Regina offered, before Emma even had the chance to ask.

"At this point, I'm willing to try anything," Emma admitted. "I just want to be able to be a mother to my baby girl."

"Of course you do, honey," Mal agreed with a nod, before stepping away to walk with the baby as she started to squirm in her sleep.

Emma turned back to Regina, still smiling her hopeful, relieved smile. "I think… all that stuff I told you.. It will get better when I get better. It will."

Regina smiled back encouragingly. "Of course it will."


Over the course of the next few days, Emma and Regina's new routine changed slightly, as they set aside time every afternoon when no one else was there for Regina to transfer some of her magic to Emma. Though she'd yet to admit so much to Emma, this time together felt intimate to Regina in a way she couldn't quite explain. She wasn't sure if Emma felt it too, or if she was just relieved to finally be feeling a little better, but every afternoon when they sat on the couch together, Regina holding Emma's hands in her own, and Emma's head falling onto Regina's shoulders as she closed her eyes and relaxed into the feeling, Regina felt that the two of them were one, even if it was only for a short time.

She hadn't felt like that since Thanksgiving, and though it had scared her then, now, it wasn't so scary. These days, she felt more at home with Emma and their baby than she did in her own home, with Robin. Robin was working nearly every day now, as a deputy in the Sheriff's station, since Emma was on an indefinite leave, and he'd enlisted some of the Merry Men as babysitters in the meantime, since Regina wasn't generally home during the day to watch the children anymore. Roland was more than happy to be learning archery from Little John, and Ryleigh had always been a fairly easy-going baby, and was content with whoever would play with her and feed her, for the most part.

The change was a weight off of Regina's shoulders, but she still knew they couldn't go on like this forever. At some point, a decision was going to have to be made about the future of their relationship, and it was a conversation she wasn't looking forward to.

Regina and Emma hadn't discussed what they saw in the mirror, either. Regina knew that the state Zelena was in needed to be addressed, but she wasn't quite sure how. She couldn't exactly tell Robin, and she was quite sure it wasn't Emma's problem. Still, it made it all that much harder to look at Ryleigh, knowing that she had a mother out there, clearly pining for her daughter.

It was a Thursday morning that Robin had approached Regina in the kitchen, Ryleigh in his arms, looking slightly frantic.

"Regina, I uh, I forgot that Ryleigh has her check up with the pediatrician this morning. David needs me at the station all day, and obviously none of the men at the camp can take her," Robin explained.

"I can take her," Regina said, nodding, and holding her arms out for her niece. Robin handed her off, and smiled awkwardly, before heading to the door where Roland was waiting to leave. Regina watched them go, marvelling at how quickly they'd become like two strangers living under the same roof.

Sighing, Regina headed back to the dining room, and frowned as she watched Henry yawn for what seemed like the tenth time that morning. He'd ridden his bike back home from Emma's that morning in order to pick up some books he needed for school that day, but Regina could tell by the dark circles under his eyes that he was far more tired than he should be just from getting up a little bit earlier than normal.

"Does the baby wake you up throughout the night?" Regina asked, studying Henry's face carefully. She knew he liked being at Emma's with his sister, and she hadn't protested when he'd opted to stay over there more nights than at home. She supposed it wasn't even fair to refer only to her house as home anymore, anyway, since Henry essentially had two homes now.

Henry shrugged. "A little, I guess."

"A little? Henry, you look exhausted!"

Regina frowned again when Henry looked down at the french toast she'd made him for breakfast. He was picking at it absently, and she knew something was troubling him. "Henry, what's going on?"

"Nothing," Henry replied, half-heartedly, and Regina knew it was a lie.

"Henry."

Henry let out a long sigh and looked up to meet his mother's eyes again. "Um… does Mom sleep a lot when you're over there?"

"She naps when the baby sleeps," Regina said, nodding. Even with Regina's magic, Emma wore out easily. "She needs to, Henry. It's the only way she's going to recoup."

"Yeah, yeah, I know that… and it's not the sleeping that's the issue… it's, um… does she have a lot of nightmares when you're there?"

"Nightmares? Not that I know of," Regina said, shaking her head and furrowing her brow in confusion. "If she does, she doesn't tell me."

"Oh, you'd know," Henry insisted.

"How?"

"She wakes up screaming sometimes. Usually she just wakes up crying, though. Like sobbing. It wakes me up a lot. She has nightmares about the baby."

"Every night?"

Henry nodded. "Usually more than once a night. She says it's not a big deal, but she also told me she dreams about terrible things happening to the baby, and it scares her. She said she knows you'd never let anyone hurt the baby but… I think she's scared because she can't use magic right now and she feels defenseless."

"That's likely it," Regina agreed, though, by this point, she was quite sure it ran a lot deeper than that.

"Yeah… maybe don't tell her I told you, okay? I mean… if she wanted you to know she probably would have told you herself, right?"

Regina sighed and nodded. She wasn't sure if this was something Emma might have shared before everything happened between them, as guarded as she had always been, but she was sure Emma probably didn't want her to know now. She'd just finally begun opening up about her feelings, and Regina didn't want to ruin the progress they'd made so far.

Once Henry had left for school, Regina set about getting Ryleigh ready to go out. She was six months now, and growing so fast. Her eyes had stayed bright blue and her wispy peach fuzz hair was starting to come in in strawberry blonde curls. Regina should have guessed she'd end up looking just like her mother.

Regina gave Ryleigh a sad smile as she ran her fingers through her soft hair. "I've made a lot of mistakes since you were born, baby girl," she said, with a sigh. "But I'm going to figure it all out. Don't worry."

For her part, Ryleigh didn't look worried as she smiled up at Regina. "Alright, let's go then," Regina said, wanting to get out of the house early enough to stop by her office on the way to Ryleigh's appointment. To say she'd been neglecting her work was an understatement, but now that Emma was feeling well enough to be alone for a couple hours each morning, Regina was finally able to get caught up a little at a time.

She was nearly out the door when her phone went off with a text from Emma.

"Hey… can you come over?"

Regina frowned. In all this time, Emma hadn't once asked her to come over, and immediately, she wondered what was wrong. "Of course," she typed back. "Is everything okay?"

"Yeah. I just need you," was the immediate response, and Regina wasted no time strapping Ryleigh into her carseat and making the short drive to Emma's.

Emma had given her a spare key the week before, so once Regina arrived, she scooped Ryleigh up in one arm and let herself into the house, quickly finding Emma sitting at the end of the couch, the baby in her bassinette just an arm's length away. Emma's eyes were bloodshot and she looked exhausted, and Regina immediately wondered if she'd just suffered another nightmare.

"Emma? What's wrong?"

Emma's eyes snapped to her, and she immediately frowned. "Why do you have Ryleigh? I thought Robin got her a babysitter?"

"She has a doctor's appointment this morning," Regina explained. "None of the Merry Men drive, and I'd rather be there to talk to the pediatrician myself than have someone else take her."

Emma nodded, though she looked deflated. "Why can't Robin take her?"

"He's at work. Emma, what's wrong?"

Emma shrugged. "Nothing. Sorry. I just forget you have this whole other life sometimes. I shouldn't have bothered you."

"No, Emma, it's fine. Just tell me what you need."

Emma shrugged again, and Regina couldn't tell if she was just being insolent, or if she really wasn't sure what she needed.

"Emma."

"Nothing. I don't need anything. I just… I don't know… I just wanted you to come over. It's stupid, I just… I feel better when someone's here. I got used to someone always being here."

"Emma, did you have a nightmare?" Regina asked, her concern for Emma's agitated state causing her to forget that she'd just told Henry she wouldn't mention it.

"Why would you ask that?"

"You just look upset, and exhausted," Regina said, bouncing Ryleigh on her hip as she started to squirm in her arms. "I know you worry about something happening, and I just thought, maybe…"

"You said it's normal to worry."

"It's is, Emma, I was just asking-"

"You think I'm being ridiculous, don't you?" Emma asked, her face showing an array of anger and hurt feelings.

"No! Emma, I don't."

"Yes you do! You did this all on your own with Henry and you think I'm pathetic because I can't do it!"

"Emma, I've never once said anything like that! Where is this even coming from?"

Emma scowled. "Whatever. Don't worry about it. It would just be nice once in a while to not feel like I'm a single mother, you know?"

Regina bit her lip and fought the urge to remind Emma that she'd been there every day since the baby was born. Wherever this outburst was coming from, Regina knew it was something Emma was battling inside herself and projecting onto her, and picking a fight was probably the worst thing she could do right now.

"Emma, I'm sorry. I'll be back this afternoon after Ryleigh's appointment.

"Right. Because Robin's kid trumps your own still."

"That's not fair," Regina said, her voice taking on a warning tone.

"Right. Whatever. Just go. I'll take care of the baby myself."

"Well, if it's going to be such an issue, why don't I just take her with me then?" Regina suggested, exasperated.

"You can't!" Emma snapped. "You can't take her because I have to feed her. That's why I can't ever have a break!"

Regina swallowed, nodding as realization set in. "You want a break?" she asked, keeping her voice even and calm, knowing Emma was in the verge of a meltdown.

"Yes!" Emma cried, exasperated. "Of course I want a break! I haven't slept a whole night in weeks and I know it's a terrible, horrible thing to say, but yes I want a break! Sometimes I get so jealous because you get to leave. You get to go home and sleep."

"Emma, you have no idea how much I hate leaving her every day. It's not a break and it's certainly not a relief of any sort, because I miss her the second I walk out the door."

"Don't try to make me feel guilty for feeling like this, because I already do," Emma said, quietly, already losing her steam.

"That's not what I'm trying to do. I know it's not easy to have a baby so dependent on you. I've been there. The situation may have been different, but I was still the only one Henry had. I know what it's like to lose sleep and to worry all the time and to feel like a terrible mother because you just want five minutes to yourself and you can't have it. But Emma… you can't keep bottling these feelings up. It's not good for you. If you can't talk to me, you've got to talk to your mother, or Mal or Lily."

Emma breathed a heavy sigh and closed her eyes for a moment. "You should go."

"Emma-"

"You're going to be late for Ryleigh's appointment. Lily's coming over anyway. I'll be fine. I shouldn't have bothered you."

"Emma, I'm glad you asked me to come over. I don't want you to feel like you're on own in this, ever. I'll come back this afternoon once I drop Ryleigh off with the Merry Men, alright?"

"Fine." Emma nodded.

Regina hesitated for a moment, wondering if perhaps she should just stay, and reschedule Ryleigh's check up, but she wasn't exactly sure that staying here with her was a better idea. The decision was made for her, however, when she heard Lily's car pulling up outside, and she knew that was her cue to leave.

"I'll see you soon."

"Yep."


"I cannot believe she brought Robin's bastard kid here," Lily said, as she leaned back in the couch next to Emma.

"Don't call her that. She's just a baby," Emma said, frowning. She could excuse her own attitude toward Ryleigh since she was sure she was justified in not liking Regina's attention on another child when she had a baby of her own, but something about Lily's snarking attitude was rubbing her the wrong way this morning.

If she was being honest, it had actually been rubbing her the wrong way for a while.

"I thought you hated that kid," Lily said with a short laugh.

"I don't hate her! What kind of person hates a baby?"

Lily rolled her eyes. "Okay. Hate's the wrong word. But still… why would she even bring her here?"

Emma shrugged. "She's taking her to her doctor's appointment," Emma explained. "And, you know, Ryleigh is my daughter's cousin."

"Right. Where was that sentiment three days ago when you were whining about Regina taking care of Robin's baby while you were stuck here with yours alone?"

Emma opened her mouth to defend herself, but stopped when she realized Lily was right. She really had complained about the attention Regina gave Robin's baby a lot; more, perhaps, than was really necessary.

But she had a right to complain about it when it affected her life, didn't she?

"Why was she even here?" Lily pressed.

"I asked her to come over. I feel better when she's here."

"Why? You already knew I was coming over," Lily pointed out.

"Yeah, but… you come over to spend time with me. She helps take care of the baby. It's just… it's different. I feel better when she's here in case something happens."

"Emma, nothing's going to happen!"

"I know! I know you think I'm being irrational, but I can't help it."

"You didn't tell her that thing you told my mom and I, did you? About not feeling a connection with the baby?"

"Yeah, I did."

"Emma," Lily sighed, shaking her head. "She's gonna take that baby from you, you know."

"No, she's not."

"Wanna bet? She knows you're struggling and you keep calling on her for help. You think she doesn't see the opportunity to take the baby and just meld her into that perfect little family she's got going on?"

"Shut up, Lily. Regina would never do that to me."

"How can you be so sure? She already fucked you over before. Or do you have selective memory these days?"

"What is your problem? God, Lily… I know you don't like her, but can you seriously just try to get along with her? For my sake?"

Lily raised an eyebrow. "Didn't realize you and Regina are a package deal these days."

"We're not. But we do share two children, and she's helping me get better. You could respect that, you know."

Lily rolled her eyes. "Sometimes I don't get you, Swan. Like, how bad does she have to hurt you before you walk away? She treated you like shit, for months, and you just welcome her back into your life with open arms."

"We have a child together," Emma repeated. "It's not that simple."

"No, it is simple. You don't have to let her hang out here all the time. You can tell her when she sees the baby and she can't do shit about it."

"That's not how I want to raise my child, Lily. Regina screwed up, but she's at least trying to be better. And she apologized."

"Oh, so she says sorry and everything is magically all better, then?"

"No!" Emma snapped. "Everything's the same, but I can still make a choice to forgive her, you know. I don't have to hold this against her forever."

"She doesn't deserve your forgiveness."

"You know, Lily, sometimes I wonder if you forget that Regina's not the only person who's screwed me over in my lifetime. And, you know, if I held everyone up to your standards these days, I'm not sure you would have even been deemed worthy of my forgiveness."

"That's different. We were kids."

"Yeah, we were. And now we're not. So maybe it's time for you to grow up."

"Whatever," Lily said, standing up from the couch. "If you wanna sit back and let Regina walk all over your feelings, be my guest. But don't come crying to me when she breaks your heart all over again."

"I won't."

Lily shook her head, and turned to leave the house. Emma watched her go, and winced when she slammed the door. She glanced over at the baby, and sighed as she watched her eyes blink open at the sound, though she thankfully didn't start to cry.

Emma leaned over and picked her up, cradling her close to her chest. "Lily's wrong," Emma said, softly. She was sure forgiving Regina was the right thing to do, even if it was only for her own peace of mind. Everything else was so far out of her control, but at least she had a choice in that.


Across town, Regina sat in the waiting room at Ryleigh's pediatrician's office, absently thumbing through the stack of pregnancy and postpartum information booklets on the table, while Ryleigh slept against her chest. After leaving Emma's, she's opted to skip going into the office, which meant she was excessively early for Ryleigh's appointment.

Regina flipped through the booklets half-heartedly, picking up a few on breastfeeding tips and baby milestones to take back to Emma that afternoon, though she wasn't entirely sure how well received they would be. It was hit and miss these days what kind of mood Emma would be in when she arrived, and what it would take to set her off once she was there. It was like Emma was always waiting for a fight, and always on hyper alert for any perceived slight against her.

Near the bottom of the pile was a leaflet that caught Regina's attention. She flipped through it, scouring the pages until she came to a list of symptoms. Intrusive thoughts… nightmares… irritability… difficulty sleeping… anxiety… sense of detachment…

Regina felt her heart sink as she realized she was right. Emma's issues were ran far deeper than postpartum hormones.

And now she was going to have to find a way to tell her.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Chapter Text

When Regina returned to Emma's house early that afternoon after dropping Ryleigh off with the Merry Men, she found her asleep on the couch, the baby nestled against her chest. Emma had one arm loosely draped over the sleeping babe, and the other one limply falling over the side of the cushion, her fingers just brushing the floor. She looked much more like she'd passed out from exhaustion, rather than just decided to take a nap.

"Oh, Emma," Regina sighed. After what she'd read at the pediatrician's office, she wanted nothing more than to hold Emma in her arms and tell her everything was going to be okay. But that's not who they were - at least not right now - and Regina was quite sure she'd have to tread lightly.

So she crossed the room quickly and quietly, before crouching down beside the couch. Gently, she lifted Emma's arm off the baby, and carefully lifted the baby up, not waking her as she cradled her in one arm. With her free hand, she lifted Emma's other arm and settled it on her abdomen with the other, before grabbing a blanket from the back of the couch and tucking it in around her.

There was enough space between Emma's head and the arm of the couch for Regina to sit with with the baby. She settled in with the baby snugly against her chest and stared at nothing in particular as she debated how she was going to broach this next subject with Emma.

Regina wasn't sure exactly how much time passed before she felt Emma stirring beside her. Emma let out a low groan as she ran her fingers over her chest and realized the baby wasn't there. Regina didn't even have a second to react before Emma's eyes snapped open, looking panicked, and landed on her.

"Sorry," Regina said, on instinct, though she hadn't done anything wrong. She just hated seeing that moment of fear in Emma's eyes, knowing how she worried about the baby.

"You came back," Emma acknowledged, quietly.

"I told you I would be back," Regina reminded her.

"Yeah. I know."

"Where's Lily?"

"We got in a fight," Emma said, through a yawn. "She left."

"Oh. When did the baby eat last?"

Emma groaned again and held up her arm to Regina. Regina caught her by the wrist and checked the last feeding time on the bracelet she'd given Emma. She hadn't actually expected Emma to follow through with using it, but she was glad now that she'd given it to her.

"A little over an hour ago. We have some time," Regina said, more to herself than to Emma, though it spiked Emma's curiosity slightly.

"Time for what?"

Regina sighed. "I want to talk to you about something," she said, as she leaned forward to place the sleeping baby back in her bassinette, which was still near the couch.

Emma felt slightly uneasy as she pulled herself up into a sitting position next to Regina. While she was sure Lily was wrong, she didn't like the serious tone in Regina's voice. Whatever she wanted to talk about, Emma was sure this wasn't going to be a pleasant conversation.

"Okay," Emma said quietly, as she drew her knees up to her chest, instinctively.

"I was looking at some pamphlets at Ryleigh's pediatrician's office," Regina said, as she reached into her purse and pulled out the small stack, leafing through them carefully as she spoke. "There's something I want you to look at. And, Emma, please try not to get upset, because I think this is something we need to consider and talk about it."

"Okay," Emma repeated, her throat tight as she watched Regina go through the pamphlets and finally stop at one, and hand it to her. Emma frowned as she read the words on the front. "Postpartum Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?"

"Just read it, please," Regina urged, gently.

Emma frowned as she read over the symptoms. Of course, she'd had a feeling that something was off with her since the baby had been born, but she'd been sure it would pass once she was recovered.

"Okay, but it says it's caused by things like unplanned C-sections or emergency hysterectomies," Emma pointed out.

"Well, I doubt the people who put this information together had ever considered a magically sped up pregnancy in the realm of possibilities. But, Emma, you can't deny that the way she entered this world was traumatic for you."

Emma swallowed and nodded, her hands shaking as she held on to the pamphlet. Regina had asked her not to get upset, but she was aware what she really meant was to not lose her temper and fly off the handle. To her own surprise, though, Emma didn't feel like she even needed to. Somehow, being able to put a name to what she was feeling was oddly reassuring, even if she still felt like she was about to cry.

"Okay. Okay, yeah," Emma mumbled, nodding as she stared at the pamphlet. "Okay."

"Emma, I know this is a lot, but you have to understand it isn't your fault. And you don't have to keep feeling like this."

Emma swallowed hard. "Henry told you about my nightmares, didn't he?"

"He was worried about you."

"Yeah. I didn't really want him to have to see all that. I tried to get him to go home. He can be so stubborn."

"He's his mothers' son," Regina acknowledged with a smirk, getting a small laugh out of Emma.

"Yeah."

"Emma, you know, you could have told me when you had a nightmare."

Emma shook her head. "I don't have them when you're here. It's strange. It's like, maybe… I don't know, maybe I don't have to worry about the baby when you're here. Like maybe I can just relax, because I know you can protect her from anything."

"That makes sense."

"Okay. So, now what?" Emma asked with a sigh, hoping Regina had some sort of answer.

"Well," Regina sighed, taking the pamphlet back from Emma and reaching out to take her hand, squeezing it gently to reassure her. "I guess the first step will be to call Archie. Then we'll go from there."

Emma nodded again. "It's that simple? Go see Archie and I'll just be fine?"

"I don't think it will be that easy, but I think it's where we need to start."

"You're saying 'we' a lot," Emma pointed out.

"I know. I'm not about to make you go through it alone, considering it's my fault you're in this position in the first place. But, I suppose it doesn't have to be me. You have your parents, and Mal, and Lily."

"I'm not so sure I have Lily anymore."

"It was that bad?"

Emma shrugged. She wasn't sure if it was that bad, but Lily wasn't the most rational person she'd ever met, either. "I don't know. It doesn't matter right now. But, Regina, I, um… I want you know I don't blame you for what happened - for how she was born."

"I still blame myself."

"Well, you shouldn't. I mean… I didn't blame Neal for leaving me when he didn't know I was pregnant. How is it fair if I hold you to a higher standard? After all, it's my own fault you didn't know, and anybody would have reacted how you did if they found out the way you did. You didn't know what it would do to me."

"It doesn't mean I feel less guilty for it. We both screwed up."

"Yeah."

"What did you and Lily fight about?"

"That, kind of. She thinks I shouldn't forgive you."

Regina raised an eyebrow in surprise at the mention of forgiveness. "Have you? Forgiven me?"

Emma shrugged. "I'm not sure. But I think that's where we're headed, isn't it? I don't want to be mad at you and… I can't be angry with you and need you at the same time. My brain can't reconcile the two, and I do need you. But Lily… well, I think she thinks she's protecting me, somehow. Neither of us really learned how to have normal friendships, you know? But she was criticizing you and how you brought Ryleigh here and she was saying so many of the things I've said - a little more bluntly maybe, but still… I didn't like listening to it."

"Maybe I shouldn't have brought Ryleigh here without giving you a heads up, but when you texted me this morning, all I wanted was to get here as quickly as I could. Emma, I'm always going to love Ryleigh, but she's not my daughter. You need to stop seeing her as a threat."

"I know! I know… it's irrational, but I can't seem to help it right now. Maybe it's something else I have to talk to Archie about, I don't know… I just don't want our daughter coming second to your first family."

"She doesn't," Regina insisted, squeezing Emma's hand again for emphasis. "And you don't. It's messy but we'll figure out how to make it work."

"Okay," Emma agreed, and for the first time she actually believed that might be true.

"Looks like someone's awake," Regina commented, nodding toward the baby who was looking at them with her big blue eyes. It only took a moment before she was crying, and Regina was scooping her up, as Emma got ready to feed her.

The whole act of feeding the baby had become so perfectly routine that Emma almost found herself on autopilot most of the time. This time, however, as she got the baby situated, she leaned against Regina, almost unconsciously, and actually felt the comfort of not being alone.

Her head falling onto Regina's shoulder as the baby ate, however, was out of pure exhaustion, though Regina didn't object.

"I was thinking," Emma said, tentatively, as she stroked the baby's soft dark hair with her free hand. "That maybe I could start pumping and you could feed her sometimes. I mean, if you want to. Then maybe I can get some sleep."

Regina smiled as she leaned her cheek against Emma's hair. "I would love that. I'll get you everything you need."

"Okay," said Emma, as she actually felt herself genuinely smiling for what seemed like the first time in weeks. And she let herself relax, snuggled up against Regina and holding her baby girl, feeling hopeful for the first time since she'd given birth, that everything really would get better. 

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Chapter Text

Emma wasn't quite sure what to expect on her first meeting with Archie, and she was apprehensive when he'd shown up on her doorstep the day after her discussion with Regina. Regina had made the call for her, and had asked for the house call so that Emma's first venture from her home since the baby was born didn't have to be to see a therapist. That, and she hadn't been sure she'd be able to convince Emma to leave the house at all, just yet.

So Regina had stopped by the house in the morning to check in on her, and had left when Archie arrived to give Emma some privacy, promising she'd pick a breast pump up for her while she was out, and smiling to herself at how domesticated that sounded, in spite of everything.

Emma had simply nodded, and watched Regina kiss the sleeping baby goodbye as she left the house.

And the session had started out simply enough. Archie asked her general questions about how she was feeling physically and how she was adjusting to the baby, and Emma was almost starting to feel at ease, until he hit the sore spot.

"So, she's sixteen days old now, and you haven't named her yet?"

Emma bit her lip. Nothing in Archie's tone sounded even remotely accusatory, but hearing him say it out loud, it sounded completely absurd. How on earth had she not even given her daughter a name yet? Her own parents had picked her name long before she was even born, and sure, it had taken Robin and Regina a while to name Ryleigh, but neither of them were her mother.

"It's, uh… it's harder than I expected," Emma said, not looking at Archie in the eyes.

"I'm sure it is difficult to choose a name she has to have her entire life, but Emma, I get the feeling there's more to it than that, isn't there?"

Emma nodded. "It's just... I don't feel any sort of connection to her. I mean, I'm not neglecting her. I feed her, I take care of her, I cuddle her and tell her that I love her, but I feel like I'm just putting on a show. I'm just playing Mommy to a baby that isn't even supposed to be here yet. I wasn't ready. I'm not ready."

"Just because you weren't prepared doesn't mean you aren't ready, Emma. You're already doing everything you're supposed to be doing. Your baby is thriving, and you've got lots of support, which is key. Getting your emotions in check is what we're here for, and that includes addressing how you feel about the baby."

"I feel like… like I don't know her. She wasn't even supposed to be here until the end of summer, and it's like… she should still be inside me, and I've got this imposter in the bassinette. It feels like… like I didn't really even get to experience being pregnant, so how can this be my baby? It's crazy, I know, and I know that's my baby, but I feel so disconnected from her."

"You're hesitant to name her because you don't feel a connection, but I think that giving her a name is a step in the that direction. Calling her 'the baby' allows for that disconnect to continue. It allows you to maintain that indifference, even if that's not your intention. Give her a name and she'll start to feel like a person, and not an object."

Emma nodded quickly. "Okay. There's something else, though."

"And what's that, Emma?"

"A first name… that's one thing. Henry has made lists upon lists of suggestions. But what about her last name? If I name her I have to decide, is it Swan? It is Mills? Is it a combination of the two? It's… it's a lot to think about. It kind of… I don't know, it's kind of hard when I don't know what the future between me and Regina looks like."

"Do you think you and Regina have a future as something other than co-parents? Or friends?"

Emma shrugged. "I don't know. That's the problem. Every logical part of me tells me to let go of that hope, but it took true love to create this baby, and that's not nothing."

"And that's making you hold on to the hope?"

"I guess. I don't know. Something is. I want to accept that she's engaged and that whole… everything… was just one night - a mistake, as she puts it. But I just can't seem to."

"Have you talked to Regina about what that means? Having a baby created from true love?"

Emma shook her head. "No. She knows about it but… I guess I've been waiting for her to bring it up. It should be her. She's the one with something to lose, right?"

"Well, I don't think it's a matter of losing something or gaining something, but it's something that you two will need to address in time. And when you're ready, you might have to be the one to bring it up. But let's take this one thing at a time. You can give the baby a name now. You don't need to decide on a last name until you fill out the paperwork. But having something to call her will help."

"Okay," Emma agreed. "I can give her a name."


Regina was longer than Emma expected returning that morning. She hadn't planned on quite so much free time between Archie leaving and Regina coming back, but she used it to pour over the lists that Henry had written out for her. Some names he had crossed out and some had stars beside them, and Emma followed his lead as she went through the list. She noted that Sarah had three stars beside it, and she remembered Henry insisting it was a good name, but she wasn't sure it was right.

She wasn't sure any of these names were right.

"What do you want to be called?" Emma asked with a sigh, dropping the papers to the floor beside where she sat on the carpet, her back against the couch, the baby laying on her back on her legs, staring up at her with wonder. "What name suits you, hmm? I want it to mean something, you know, so that someday when you ask about it I have a story to tell you. Someday I can tell you how you were a shining light amidst a giant disaster that your Mommy and I created, and that even though things are a mess, that for you, I would do anything to make it better. For you, I would get better. You were the thing that gave…."

Emma let her voice trail off as a smile crept up on her lips. "Oh, I know…"

Her train of thought was broken by the sound of a key in the front door, and she turned and watched with expectancy as Regina came inside. She'd expected her to come with a shopping bag from the baby store, but she walked in empty handed and Emma could already sense that something was off.

"Hey," Emma called to her.

"Hey." Regina came into the room and sat down on the floor beside Emma, smiling down at the baby, though her smile looked a little forced. "How did it go this morning?"

"Okay. Better than I expected. Archie's coming back again on Wednesday."

Regina nodded. "That's good."

Emma waited to see if Regina was going to ask her what they talked about, but she continued to look at the baby, running her fingers lightly over her cheeks. Emma supposed Regina knew from Henry's sessions with Archie, and her own meetings with him, that therapy was supposed to be confidential, but Emma wasn't convinced that was why Regina seemed a little distracted.

"I didn't make it to the store yet," Regina commented.

Emma frowned. "You've been gone all morning. Did you go into work?"

"No. I went home."

Emma felt a knot forming in her stomach, and she knew something was wrong. "Okay. Regina, I can tell something's wrong. What happened?"

"Robin and I are… we're taking a break. He informed me this morning," Regina said, not looking up to see Emma's reaction.

Emma turned to look at her, unable to read her expression. "Taking a break. What does that mean?"

Regina gave a half hearted shrug. "I guess we'll see. I think it means he wants to end things with me and doesn't quite know how to make a clean break. I guess neither of us really do."

"Are you okay?"

Regina nodded, slowly. "Yes. I think so. He… I didn't tell you this morning, because I didn't want to put anything else on you before your session with Archie, but last night he asked me to make a choice, and this morning I told him I wasn't giving this up. He took that to mean I chose this over him."

"This?"

"This," Regina repeated, motioning to herself and Emma with her hands. "Being here with you and the baby. He thinks I spend too much time here. I've done everything to make it work with his child and he couldn't do the same for me."

Emma nodded, and turned her attention to the baby on her lap again. "I, uh, I thought of a name. Just now. Archie thinks naming her will help me…. But you're probably going to hate it so… if you hate it just tell me and we'll think of another one, okay?"

"What's the name?"

"It's, um… I want to call her Hope," Emma said, biting her lip as she turned to look at Regina again. "You hate it, don't you?"

Regina tilted her head to one side, taking a moment to look at the baby before answering. "No, I think it's perfect," Regina said, smiling, as she reached over to stroke the baby's soft hair. "Hope Swan."

"It can be Swan-Mills, if you want," Emma offered, without thinking. It just slipped out, but the moment she heard the words out loud, she knew that was what she wanted.

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah, I mean, in spite of everything, she's your daughter too. She shouldn't suffer because we can't get our shit together," Emma explained, with a small smile.

"Thank you."

"So… he made you choose and you chose us? Me and the baby, I mean?" Emma asked, tentatively.

"I chose us, yes. Hope and Henry… and you and me. Our family, however dysfunctional it may be. When Robin asked me to choose, I didn't tell him until this morning, but the moment he asked, I didn't even have to think about it. When I'm here, I'm happy, but I dread the moment I have to go home. When I'm home, I'm just counting down the hours until I can come back. Don't get me wrong, I love Roland and Ryleigh, but they're his kids, not mine. It's not the same."

"So, what now? Is Robin taking the kids to the camp?"

Regina shook her head. "No. He offered to but I think that's too big of an adjustment for the children all at once. My house has become their home, so I told him to stay there for now and I'll go to the inn until we figure out what comes next. I'm here more than I am there right now anyway, and I'm sure it won't be long before he and I come to a decision about the future."

"You could stay here, for a few days, if you wanted," Emma offered.

"Emma, you don't have to do that."

"It's fine. I mean… I have the guest room and, you know, my mom has to haul all of Neal's stuff back and forth with her, so I'm sure she wouldn't mind a couple nights at her own home in her own bed. Plus, when the baby… when Hope cries, she wakes up Neal and then he cries and…"

"Alright, okay. I'll stay here."

"Good. And now you won't have to miss her at night," Emma reasoned.

"You should have opened with that. Now I might never want to leave," Regina said with a small laugh.

Emma forced a smile as she thought about what Archie had said. As badly as she wanted to get it out in the open, she wasn't sure if now was the best time to bring up true love. While she was quite sure that Regina wouldn't react now the same way she had before, she was also sure that she wasn't ready for even a gentle rejection at this point.


"Are you staying here tonight?" Henry asked, frowning in confusion as he looked in the doorway of the guest bedroom, where Regina had poofed a small suitcase of a few days worth of clothing, which she was sorting on the bed.

"For a few days," Regina said, nodding. "Didn't Emma tell you?"

Henry shrugged as he entered the room and sat on the bed. "She was asleep on the couch when I came inside. What's going on? Grandma can't stay over?"

"This actually has nothing to do with your grandmother. She's staying at the loft because I'm staying here."

"Why? Did something happen? Is something wrong?"

Regina sighed, knowing that too much had happened in the past two days. She and Emma had decided against telling Henry that Emma was seeing Archie, knowing how their son worried.

"Nothing's wrong with Emma or the baby, so don't worry," Regina started, as she sat down beside her son. "That's not why I'm staying here. I, um… Robin and I…"

"You broke up?" Henry asked, a little more excitedly than he intended to.

"No. But I think we're headed that way."

"Oh," Henry said, nodding.

Regina raised an eyebrow. "You don't seem overly fazed by that."

Henry shrugged.

"Henry?"

Henry sighed. "I didn't tell you this before because… I don't know, you were happy and I didn't want to be the one to mess that up, but… I don't want you to marry Robin."

"I thought you liked him?"

"I do… It's not that… it's just, I'm not a part of that family - your family with him."

"What do you mean? Of course you are."

"I don't feel like it. I know Roland and Ryleigh need more attention and everything, and maybe it's selfish of me, but, you're my Mom, not theirs. And it sounds terrible because they don't have any other mother, and I do but… I still want you."

"Oh, Henry," Regina sighed, draping an arm around him and pulling him close. "I never meant to make you feel like you didn't belong. You know how much I love you."

"Yeah, I know, but now that my sister is here, it feels even more like you belong here with us, and not there with them. You're not the same person with Robin, Mom… it's like… it's like you want to hold on to him so hard that you forget who you are."

"What are you talking about?"

"Well… I mean, take Zelena for instance. You banished her to Oz because of Robin."

"I banished her to Oz because of what she did," Regina corrected.

"Really? Can you honestly say that if she'd had a baby with any other man but Robin, you'd have done the same thing? Even if it were conceived the same way?"

Regina hesitated. She hadn't really ever considered that before. How much of banishing Zelena had really been about Ryleigh's safety? And how much had been out of pure revenge?

"See? You can't answer because you know you wouldn't have. You aren't that person anymore, but you're so scared to lose Robin that you do things you don't really want to do."

"I hurt people I didn't want to hurt," Regina acknowledged.

"I don't think that's what a relationship is supposed to be like."

"It's not," Regina sighed. "It's hard, Henry. I lost love once, and it destroyed me. I'm not sure I can go through that again."

"It's not the same, though, is it? I mean… if that were Daniel, would you be here right now?"

Regina shook her head. "Probably not. I'd be fighting to have him and my children."

"You'd be finding a way to make it work."

"Yes," Regina agreed. "Henry, how did you get to be so wise?"

"I've been spending time with Mal."

Regina smiled. "Of course you have. Come on; you can help me get dinner ready. Emma tells me those meals I premade didn't last long with you in the house. And, Emma and I have something else to tell you."

"You named the baby?" Henry asked, excitedly.

Regina smirked. "You'll have to wait and see…"

Henry laughed. "I'm really glad you're here, Mom. Like, actually here."

"Me too."


A/N: For those asking for more Mal, there is still more Mal to come, don't worry ;) There are still more bonding moments coming up between Emma and Mal.

And for the guest who asked, yes, this will become SwanQueen romance. That was the plan from the start, but I didn't want to rush it.

Chapter Text

"Can you please just tell me her name already?" Henry asked the moment they sat down at the table to eat.

"How do you even know we named her yet?" Emma asked with a smirk. She was still a little groggy from being woken up for dinner, but surprisingly she felt better than she had in quite some time. She wasn't sure if it was talking to Archie, or naming the baby, or just having Regina there, but she couldn't help but feel like things were a little less chaotic, even if it was just for a moment.

"Come on! Mom said you guys have something to tell me, and I know that's gotta be it!"

"I don't know what you're talking about," Emma teased.

"Emma, don't torture him."

"Fine," Emma conceded, throwing her hands up in mock defeat. "Henry, you're sister's name is… Hope."

"Hope," Henry repeated, a small smile forming on his lips. "Hope. I like it. I can't believe I didn't of it."

"Neither can I, actually," Emma agreed.

"Hope what?"

"Swan-Mills," Emma replied.

"No, I mean, what's her middle name?"

Emma gaped for a moment, looking at Regina. How had it not occurred to them that she needed a middle name? "I, uh… she doesn't have one."

"Yet," Regina added.

"Right. Yet. Kid, just be grateful you have something to call her, alright?"

"Alright," said Henry, shaking his head but still smiling as he turned his attention back to the lasagna on his plate.

Emma smiled at the sight before her: Henry and Regina at the table, chatting about his day at school, and Hope in the bassinet, sleeping soundly in the little yellow dress that Mal had given her, which just finally fit. For a moment, Emma let herself get lost in the feeling that this was what a family looked like. This had been what she'd hoped for one day. She knew it wasn't real, but it was a taste of what could be. Maybe. Someday. Maybe not with Regina, but with someone. Didn't she deserve a family of her own, after all this time?

For her part, Regina chalked Emma's quiet demeanor up to being tired, and after dinner, she enlisted Henry's help in washing the dishes, despite Emma's insistence that she could do it.

"Regina, you cooked dinner, I can wash the dishes."

"No. You've been up enough already. You're supposed to be on bedrest."

"I feel fine."

Regina shook her head. "No. You have to take it easy. Whale said six weeks and it's only been two."

"Almost two and a half."

"No. You're tired."

"I'm not tired," Emma insisted, trying her best to hide her smirk. "You don't just get to come into my house and start bossing me around, you know."

Regina turned, her eyes wide. "Oh, Emma, I'm not trying-"

"I'm kidding," Emma said with a small laugh, shaking her head. "Do the dishes yourself then. I'll go watch TV."

Regina watched as Emma walked away, and noted that she grabbed the bag from the baby store that contained the breastpump Regina had gone out to pick up while Henry had kept an eye on dinner. She hadn't really wanted to wait as she'd hoped that Emma would want her to get up with the baby tonight. She felt bad enough invading Emma's home, after everything that had happened, and she wanted to feel like she was at least contributing something while she slept in the guest bedroom that night.

"What's with you two?" Henry asked, frowning as he noted the way that Regina watched Emma leave the room.

"What do you mean?"

"You're… getting along. That's new."

"It's not new, it's just… been a while."

Henry raised an eyebrow. "Yeah, it has been a while. It's been a while since I actually saw either of you look happy. I mean, Mom's happy because she's feeling better than she has in months… but you seem happier, too."

Regina sighed and turned back to the dishes, opting not to comment. She wasn't sure exactly what she should say, anyway. Rightfully, she knew she should be more upset and stressed out over the situation with Robin, and yet, Henry was right. She did feel happy.

It didn't make sense. Robin was supposed to be her second chance at a happy ending, so why was she happier away from him? She chewed on her lip as she scrubbed unnecessarily hard at the plate in her hand, trying to work out exactly what was going on. Was it just that she was under the same roof as her children, and she didn't have to leave? She wanted to believe that was all it was, but there was a nagging feeling in her gut telling her it was more than that.

"Mom!"

Regina jumped, and snapped her head around to look at Henry. "What?"

"Are you trying to scrub a hole right through that plate? It's clean!"

"Right," Regina nodded, handing the plate to Henry to dry as she picked up the next one.

"You okay?"

"I'm fine," Regina said, forcing a smile. "I just… I have a lot on my mind."

Henry watched her slip right back into her distracted state but decided to keep quiet. Whatever his mothers were dealing with between them, he was sure they'd made some sort of progress in the last day or so, and as much as he'd like to intervene and push them in what he thought was the right direction, he decided that it might be best to stand back and let them find their way there on their own.

Regina scrubbed intensely at the next plate until her concentration was broken again by her phone vibrating on the counter across the room.

"I'll grab it," Henry offered, but Regina shook her head as she handed him the dish she'd been working on to dry.

"It's fine," she said as she dried her hands on a towel and crossed the room to pick up her phone. She sighed when she discovered a text from Robin: Regina. I don't like how we left things earlier. Can we get together tomorrow to discuss?

"What is it?" Henry asked, noticing the frown on Regina's face.

"Nothing."

"It's something. Mom, what's going on?"

"Henry, it's nothing. It's…" Regina sighed. She supposed she couldn't keep this from Henry, as whatever decision she and Robin came to would affect his whole life. "It's Robin. He wants to meet up and discuss things."

"So, are you going to?"

Regina frowned again, debating how she should answer, both Robin and Henry. "I'm… I'm not sure."

"You're not sure?"

"Henry… I don't know what to do. But I can't put this all on you, you're only thirteen."

"So, talk to Mom then," Henry suggested.

"It's not that simple. I can't put it on her, either. It's… it's complicated. My problems with Robin are not her problems."

"Okay, so talk to Mal."

"Well, Mal-"

"Mom! Seriously, stop making excuses."

Regina sighed and nodded. "Right. Fine. Okay, I'll talk to Mal."


"So… you're sure you're okay to get up with her when she cries?" Emma confirmed, as she put the last of the bottles she'd managed to fill with the pump Regina had gotten her into the fridge.

Regina sighed from the doorway to the kitchen. "Yes. We've been over this. You're going to sleep and I'm going to get up with her."

"But you're sure you'll hear her?" Emma pressed.

"Yes." Regina punctuated her word with a firm nod. "I've done this before you know. With Henry and with Ryleigh. We'll put the baby monitor in the guest bedroom and I will hear her."

"She's never slept in the nursery before."

"Would you feel better if I put the bassinet in the room with me?"

"Kind of."

"Alright," Regina agreed.

"Okay." Emma paused for a moment before finally nodding. "Okay. Good night."

"Good night, Emma."

Emma paused again, before heading out of the kitchen. She stopped by the bassinet in the living room to give Hope a kiss goodnight, before heading up the stairs. It was the first time since she'd come home from the hospital that she'd even been upstairs. She'd been far too sore and tired to attempt it at first, and later she'd been far too worried that something would happen, so she'd opted to stay on the ground floor with Hope, just in case.

With Regina there, however, she didn't need to worry. Regina could take care of Hope, but Emma knew she could also help her if something happened and she needed the extra magical boost to recover.

Still, it felt odd, even after only having the baby home for such a short time, to be on her own again all of a sudden. Despite the fact that she knew Regina was downstairs and Henry was in his room just down the hall, Emma didn't like the sudden quiet that came from sitting alone on her bed with no one to talk to and nothing to worry about.

She wished she could just text Lily, but Lily had made no attempt to reach out to her since their last encounter, and Emma wasn't sure how it would be received; especially not if Lily found out she'd let Regina stay with her.

Instead, Emma changed into a pair of plaid flannel shorts and a soft black tank top, and crawled into bed. It was much earlier than she'd gone to bed in ages, but she really was exhausted. She supposed it didn't really matter what Lily, or anyone, thought of her letting Regina stay there. Regina had pointed out that Hope had two parents, afterall.

Emma rolled onto her side and pulled the covers up to her chin, closing her eyes tight. Despite her exhaustion, she wasn't sure she'd be able to get any sleep, as her mind was still in overdrive. She'd been in a bit of a haze over the last couple weeks, she realized. She'd been filling her time with sleep and taking care of Hope and trying not to let herself think about anything else.

But now she couldn't do anything but think.

Emma forced herself to stay in bed, though she was itching to get up and talk to Regina. Everything felt different between them tonight, and she was dying to know if Regina had noticed. They had gone far too long without addressing the proverbial elephant in the room, and Emma knew that with Regina staying in her house, they wouldn't be able to dance around it much longer.

She wasn't even sure she wanted to anymore.

No, she decided it would be better to get everything out in the open. It wasn't going to be easy, but nothing had been easy between them in nearly half a year. Lily had been right about one thing: she couldn't continue to live in a stasis. Time was still moving forward, and Emma couldn't afford to sit back and pretend it wasn't while life continued on around her.

Emma let out a heavy sigh as she heard Hope start to cry. She sounded close, and Emma realized that Regina must have brought her upstairs already. Emma hadn't heard her come up, but she'd closed the door to her room and she guessed Regina had been quiet on purpose, thinking she was already asleep.

Emma bit her lip and strained her ears to listen to what was happening. It was all she could do to stop herself from jumping out of bed and running to grab the baby from Regina. She'd wanted the break, but she couldn't help the surge of anxiety now that she realized what having a break entailed: putting all her faith in Regina.

Logically, she knew that Regina was more than capable of taking care of the baby. She knew she had a hell of a lot more experience than Emma did herself, but her emotions tended to get in the way of her rational brain these days, and as she listened to Regina go down the stairs with a crying baby, and come back up with a quiet one, Emma still couldn't relax.

She listened to Regina's footsteps passing her bedroom and going into the guest bedroom, but it did nothing to stop the impending panic attack she could feel brewing deep down. It was a little less scary now that she had a name for what was happening, and now that she had met with Archie and had another appointment scheduled, but that appointment wasn't until next week and Emma was panicking right now.

She lasted about another three seconds before she threw the covers off. Without another thought, she jumped out of bed, crossed the room and pushed open her door, and hurried across the hall to the guest room. The door was still open, and the light from the doorway casted out into the hall. For a moment, Emma told herself to turn around and go back to bed, but the next thing she knew, she was standing in the open doorway, staring at Regina. Regina sat in the rocking chair that Snow had moved from the nursery to the guest room when she'd been sleeping here, since Emma wasn't using it yet, Hope swaddled in a soft yellow blanket in her arms, happily drinking from one of the bottles Emma had made.

Emma stared for a moment, all the remnants of the panic she'd felt fleeing from her in an instant. She was about to turn and silently head back to her room, when Regina looked up.

"Emma? What's wrong?"

"Nothing," Emma whispered, shaking her head. "Everything's… fine."

Regina frowned, but Emma forced a thin smile.

"Good night, Regina."

Emma didn't wait for Regina to respond as she turned and headed back to her room. She was still smiling as she climbed back under her blankets and curled up on her side.

For the first time in nearly six months, everything really did feel fine.


"Hey kid," Emma greeted as Henry finally made his way downstairs at nearly noon. "Late night?"

Henry shrugged, and looked more than a little sheepish, and it wasn't hard for Emma to guess he'd likely been on the phone with Grace nearly half the night, as it seemed to be their Friday night tradition these days.

"I guess," Henry agreed, as he sat down beside Emma on the couch. "Where's mom?"

"She, uh… had a lunch date, I guess? I don't know, I think she went to go meet with Robin."

Henry frowned. "No, I don't think so."

"No? She just said she had a lunch date, and she looked kind of agitated. What makes you so sure it's not with him?"

Henry shrugged again. "Because he texted her last night and she basically blew him off. I knew she would once she was here. Her home's with us, not with him."

"Henry."

"No, mom, I know you don't want me to get involved, but that doesn't mean I can't still see what's going on."

"And what exactly do you think is going on?"

"Well," Henry started, tentatively, "you look better than you have in weeks, and mom looks happier than she has in months. You two think you bring out the worst in each other, but that's not how it looks to me. I saw my mom's face when Robin texted her. All that stress was back instantly. The person she should be with is the person who takes that stress away, you know?"

Emma nodded. "Yeah, kid. I know. But one good night doesn't mean that Regina and I could be that, for each other, you know."

"Mom… I'm not naive. I know it's not gonna happen overnight, but…"

"But you think it's going to happen."

"I know it is."


"Emma?" Regina called as she walked into the house after her lunch date with Mal. The living room was empty, but Emma's Bug was still outside, and she knew that Emma knew better than to walk or poof herself anyplace, so she must be home.

"Emma?" she called again, quickly realizing that Emma was nowhere on the first level of her house. With her bag from the baby store still in hand, Regina headed up the stairs. She checked the nursery first, finding it empty as well, and she frowned.

Regina made her way down the hall to where Emma's bedroom door was open, and peeked inside, finally finding the other woman sitting cross legged on her bed, an array of papers spread out around her, and Hope in the bassinet, sleeping soundly beside the bed.

"There you are. What are you doing?" Regina asked as she stepped into Emma's room.

Emma looked up, surprised. "Oh! I didn't even hear you come in. I'm, um, looking at the plans my mother made for a baby shower. Some of the games won't really apply anymore, but, we could still have one, you know?"

Regina nodded. "Yes. I think that would be a good idea."

Emma nodded absently, looking back down at the papers. "So… how was your lunch date."

"It was… fine. Mal says hi, by the way. And she'll be stopping by to see you soon."

Emma's eyes snapped up. "Really?"

"Yes… why?"

Emma shrugged. "I just… You had lunch with Mal? I just assumed you were meeting Robin."

Regina shook her head. "No… he wants to meet up and talk but… I don't know."

Emma nodded. "Actually, I think maybe you and I need to talk."

"About the shower?" Regina suggested.

Emma shook her head. "No. About… everything, I guess," Emma said with a sigh. She pushed the papers out of the way and scooted her way to the end of the bed, sitting cross-legged near the edge. For her part, Regina seemed to pick up on the silent invitation and finally entered the room, sitting down beside Emma.

"Everything…" Regina repeated. "That's a lot."

"Yeah. So let's start with Robin. What are you going to do?"

"I'm not sure… I'm not sure what I want to do. This is all just so complicated."

"Because of me? And the baby?"

Regina shook her head. "No. Well, yes and no. It's was complicated long before that. It's been complicated from the start, really."

Emma nodded slowly, working up the nerve to ask Regina the question she'd been dying to ask for so long. She guessed maybe now was the best time, since Regina was in limbo and everything was up in the air.

"Regina, um," Emma said, as she picked at a thread on the thigh of her jeans. "Can I ask you something?"

"Of course."

"Why?"

"Why? Why what?"

"Just… why? Why did you pick him? Why did you sleep with me? Why did you still pick him even after that? What was so wrong with… no, just why?"

Regina let out a long sigh. "That's a lot of questions."

"I think I deserve an answer."

"You do," Regina agreed. "I'm just not sure where to start… why did I pick Robin, initially? That you already know."

"Because he's your soulmate," Emma said, rolling her eyes.

"He's supposed to be," Regina agreed. "But… you know, I suppose I didn't really even pick him at all, did I? I just kind of dove in head first because I was supposedly fated to be with him. That's not really a choice, is it?"

"Fate pushes us, but our choices are ours."

Regina nodded. "I did say that, didn't I?" Regina sighed. "Emma, I… I shouldn't have handled anything with you the way that I did. I'm not even sure I could explain it, because I'm not sure I understand it myself."

"You could try," Emma suggested.

"I could… I… I'm sorry I said it was a mistake. I don't believe that it was. I did, at the time, but I can't call it a mistake when it resulted in the birth of our daughter. I do wish… I do wish that it had all happened differently. We were both drunk and upset and searching for something to take the pain away, and we found that in each other. I didn't… know… that it would mean more to you than that."

"I thought I meant more to you than that."

"You did... And you do… Emma, you always have. And I wish I could take it all back and do everything differently. You are worth so much more than a drunken one night stand. That was the real mistake, and it nearly cost our friendship. That's on me, not you."

Before she could say another word, Regina felt Emma's hand on her cheek. It took a split second to register what was happening before Emma's lips were on hers. It was unexpected, and in an instant Regina felt all that same electricity as she had that night they'd spent together.

And, in another instant, it was over.

Regina blinked as Emma pulled back. Emma's face was already flushing as she dropped her eyes back to her lap and whispered, "I'm sorry."

Chapter Text

Six months ago; Thanksgiving 2015


She'd told her to leave.

They'd spent the evening together, laughing and drinking, and one thing had lead to another and instead of stopping it before it started, she'd waited until it was all over and she'd told her to leave.

Like a coward.

Yes, they'd both been a little drunk. Maybe more than a little, really. Emma had even pointed out as much before they'd even made it back to the house.

"I don't think I've ever seen you drunk before," Emma had laughed.

"I'm not drunk!"

Regina had insisted, she remembered that clearly, but she also clearly remembered staggering just a little in her high heels on the pavement of Mifflin Street as they'd walked. Emma must have noticed as much, but she didn't say a word, and she was a little wobbly on her own feet that evening as well. Regina had been just a little entranced by the way her blonde hair shone in the moonlight and the way her eyes shimmered when she laughed. She hadn't wanted the night to end just yet.

So she'd invited her in.

She hadn't had a clear intention of how she wanted the evening to unfold after that, but she'd be lying to herself if she said the thought of what could happen never crossed her mind.

And she invited her in anyway.

A million times, that little voice inside her head screamed at her to stop now, before it was too late, but that voice had been silenced when Emma had spilled her drink on her sweater, and blushing, had laughed and asked where she she could find a towel.

"Why don't you just take it off?"

Regina hadn't been sure she and Emma were on the same page until she'd seen that playfully challenging look in Emma's eyes as she did just that.

From that point on, it was a blur, really. A mix of the alcohol and adrenaline overtook her better judgment, and she was leading Emma up the stairs to her bedroom. She remembered clothing that couldn't come off fast enough and exploring every inch of Emma's pale skin with her mouth. She couldn't get enough, she couldn't get close enough, and something primal had taken over her then. She'd felt alive for the first time in ages, and when she made eye contact with Emma as she was making her come, she knew fully well that the manifestation of tangible magic in the room had come from inside her.

Of course, she really hadn't known what it meant at the time.

Emma had sighed, relaxed and sated, and her eyes appeared suddenly so heavy as Regina climbed off of her. She was glad Emma was already nearly asleep, as it meant she couldn't see the way Regina stayed still and stared at her, mouth gaping and eyes wide, as she came down from the magical high she'd somehow created inside and outside of herself.

She'd never experienced anything like that in her life before. She'd never created actual magic during sex, even with Maleficent, and she couldn't let herself even begin to ponder what that meant.

The flash of white light had sobered her up in an instant, and in the aftermath, she finally realized why this was a bad idea.

How could she have let this happen?

Robin was off taking care of his children and Killian was God knows where - she didn't really care, but it didn't make what they'd just done any less wrong. Robin was supposed to be her soulmate, and while Emma had insisted that she wanted to end things with Hook, the simple fact of the matter was, she hadn't yet, and Regina had no way of knowing if she'd still feel that way when the morning came.

No, she was sure that Emma wouldn't feel that way when morning came. Regina had already begun to convince herself that this was nothing more than two people seeking solace and finding it in each other. Emma might have been all in that night, but things always had a way of looking different when daylight came.

And, even if they didn't, Regina knew she couldn't let this continue. She hadn't let herself feel any kind of passion this deeply for anyone since Daniel had died. She couldn't. Save for Henry, everything good - everything she ever loved - was always ripped away from her in the end.

Sure, things could get a little boring with Robin, but she wasn't eighteen anymore and she didn't have all the time in the world to figure out what she wanted.

After all, how could she justify giving up a sure thing over one night?

And then, of course, there was Emma to consider, Regina had realized, as she'd finally slipped off the bed and began putting her clothing back on. Of course Emma would end up getting hurt. Everyone who crossed Regina's path ended up in the crossfire somehow, whether it was her intention or not. Fate had chosen Robin for her, and Regina shuddered to think of who might pay the price down the line if she tried to fight back against it this time.

So she woke Emma up.

And she told her to leave.

For her part, Emma was still intoxicated and high on post-coital bliss, grinning ear to ear while Regina harped at her over missing panties. Emma was telling her to calm down but she was just growing more agitated with every passing second, as she knew every second that passed was one second closer to her changing her mind and asking Emma to stay.

And that couldn't happen.

She hadn't really wanted to hurt Emma, but she'd seen no other option, really. She'd seen the hurt and confusion on Emma's face the following day when she'd called her into her office to tell her, on no uncertain terms, that this would not be continuing, but in the grand scheme of things she'd managed to convince herself that a little heartbreak now surely was better than whatever would happen down the line.

It wasn't easy watching Emma go from friend, to lover, to stranger, but Regina couldn't stop herself from fixating on the way she'd felt that night. She hadn't felt that kind of fire in her belly since she'd been with Daniel, and she couldn't risk that kind of heartbreak again. And she certainly couldn't subject Emma to it.

Emma had told her she was just scared, and Regina truly wondered if she had any idea how right she was.


Present


"I'm sorry," Emma whispered, her face red as she pulled back from the kiss that had surprised her just as much as it had surprised Regina; maybe even more so.

"Don't be."

Emma swallowed. "Okay."

Regina hesitated for just a moment, before attempting to lean in and recapture Emma's lips, but Emma turned away, shaking her head as she closed her eyes.

"Okay," Regina said, suddenly so unsure of herself. Emma continued to sit in silence, opening her eyes only to stare at her hands in her lap, and Regina knew it was up to her to keep talking. Emma had asked for answers, and Regina really couldn't deny that she deserved them.

"There's nothing wrong with you, Emma. I picked Robin because I didn't want to hurt him, and I didn't want to hurt you."

"How could you think that wouldn't hurt me?" Emma didn't look up.

"I thought… I thought you'd be hurt more in the long run if I didn't end things. I have an uncanny knack of destroying everything good in my life. You should know that by now. I didn't want you to end up as collateral damage."

Emma swallowed. "That's easy to say now."

Regina sighed. "Mal told me today that she thinks I'm trying to protect myself by playing it safe, and… maybe I am. But there's more to it than just that."

"So tell me." Emma continued to stare at her hands, as she shakily clenched and unclenched them.

"Pixie dust lead me to Robin. It was meant to show me my soulmate, and my second chance at a happy ending, and when I saw him, I didn't go into the tavern."

Emma shook her head. "Yeah, I know. I've heard the story."

"You've heard part of the story. I got scared and I didn't go in. And then I lied about it. That part you know, but… it wasn't just that I was afraid of being happy. What would have happened if I had gone in there? I couldn't just run away. The King's army would have tracked me down, and I doubt he would have been overly forgiving. And Robin… well, he would have likely been killed when they found us. It was like a cruel joke, because fate was showing me that I could be happy, hypothetically, but there was no way to make it reality."

"Okay," Emma said, trying to figure out where Regina was going with this.

"So I played it safe then. I was scared and I didn't go in, and I convinced myself that he'd be better off without me anyway, even if it meant I continued to suffer. I convinced myself that I was being selfless, but… do you know what Tinkerbell said to me in Neverland? That I ruined Robin's life that night, by not going into that tavern. Can you imagine?"

"So… you feel guilty?" Emma asked, finally looking up and searching Regina's eyes.

"I feel… responsible. I ruined his life once by not going into that tavern, and then years later, I killed his wife."

"Well, you did, and then you didn't. Zelena did."

"That doesn't change anything. I took away his chance at happiness not once, but twice. And now, if I want to be happy, I have to take it away a third time."

"Regina… I don't think it's that simple. This isn't the Enchanted Forest, you know. This is the real world, and your happiness - or lack thereof - isn't dictated by fate or pixie dust. If you want to be happy, you've got to go after what makes you happy. And so does Robin. If you're not happy with him, what makes you think you can make him so happy?"

Regina gave a half-hearted shrug as she processed what Emma was saying.

"And… his happiness isn't your responsibility in the first place. It's a lot to put on a person, trust me, I know. It's a lot of pressure to be responsible for someone else's happy ending, and I'm pretty sure that's not how it's supposed to work."

"But what if you and I had taken a chance and it all blew up in our faces?"

"That's what life is, Regina. Taking chances and not knowing what the outcome will be, but having faith that the chance it worth taking anyway. There's no sure things in this world, Regina. And, speaking of Mal, she told me pixie dust doesn't work exactly how you think it does. It doesn't consider all the possibilities. I've thought about that a lot, you know, and you're not the same person you were that night at the tavern, and neither is Robin. What makes you so sure that if you did it all over again, the pixie dust would still lead you to him?"

Regina gave a half hearted shrug. "I.. honestly don't know."

"Look, Regina, I'm not saying dump him and be with me. I know it's not that easy. I'm just saying… maybe it's time to start being honest with yourself."

Regina nodded. "Yeah, Mal said the same thing today."

"And... I'm sorry I kissed you. I don't really know what… I don't know what I was thinking."

"It's okay, really, it-" Regina wasn't quite sure how she planned on finishing that sentence, and inwardly she was relieved when Hope chose that moment to wake up and start wailing. The kiss was unexpected to say the least, and she needed time to process.


That night, Regina and Emma laid Hope down in the crib in her nursery for the first time, deciding to try their hand at alternating feedings throughout the night.

"Are you sure she's going to be okay?" Emma asked, nervously, in the hallway just outside Hope's nursery, as she worried the baby monitor in her hands.

"She'll be fine. You have her monitor, and even if you didn't, we both know she's got nice, healthy lungs. We'll wake up when she cries, I promise."

Emma nodded, and headed to her bedroom, somewhat reluctantly. But Regina was right; between the monitor and hearing Hope's actual cries from the nursery, she was up in a flash.

Regina had pulled the rocking chair back into the nursery earlier that evening, and as Emma sat and rocked and fed Hope, she smiled to herself. The sense of detachment to her daughter was still nagging at her, but the whole situation was starting to feel more like she'd thought it should in the first place. She wasn't stuck on her couch anymore, doing nothing more than sleeping and feeding a nameless baby.

It wasn't quite all that she'd imagined yet, but it was a start.

Down the hall, Regina laid awake in the bed in Emma's guestroom, staring up at the ceiling. She was sure she wasn't going to have to worry about whether or not she'd hear Hope cry when it was her turn to feed her, because she was sure she wasn't going to be getting any sleep any time soon.

So much had changed in the past few days, and there was so much that needed to be worked out. Emma's kiss aside - because she couldn't even begin to process that right now - Regina started replaying her conversation with Maleficent from earlier that day, over in her mind.

Once she'd arrived at the diner, and after a few minutes of Regina gushing over how nice it had been to spend a night with her daughter, she'd finally confessed to Mal that the real reason she'd wanted to meet up was to talk about Robin. And a few more minutes of Mal expressing - again - just what she thought of him, Regina had sighed and shook her head.

"Mal, please," she had said. "I'm coming to you as a friend, because I'm torn. I really don't know what the right thing to do is."

"I know," Mal had agreed. "But that's not a question I can answer for you. You need to take some time to think, and figure out what it is you want, and what you're really afraid of."

"Well, that's a little easier said than done."

"It's not, actually. You're just overthinking it. Regina, I know it's harder to see things clearly when you're in the middle of them, but anyone with eyes can see that you're unhappy. You think you cover it well, but I can see right through you, you know that. You're not yourself when you're with Robin. It's like… well, a long time ago you helped me get my fire back, but now I think it's you who's lost yours."

"I think that's a little melodramatic."

"Is it? Regina, it's not hard to see how tightly you cling to Robin, like you can't survive without him, but honey, you're not cut out to be a housewife. It's not in your nature, and one day you're going to grow tired of being nothing more than one half of 'Robin and Regina'. You've taken who you are and tried to snuff out the parts that don't fit into this 'soulmate' persona you think you have to live up to, because Robin can only see part of who you are. I, on the other hand, I know who you are. All of you."

"I'm not the person you thought you knew anymore."

"Yes, you are. Every piece of your past formed who you are, and every piece of your personality is still there, somewhere. You've just gotten good at hiding. It's easy for Robin to forgive your past because he hasn't seen that side of you, and he's in love with a distortion."

Regina frowned, knowing deep down that Mal was voicing the worries that she'd never been able to shake about her relationship.

"The real question is, though… why are you okay with that? Why are you okay with a man who is in love with who he thinks you are?"

"Maybe who he sees is the person I want to be."

"Regina, you've come a long way from who you used to be. We both have. But you know as well as I do that the darkness is still a part of you. You might not give in, but it's there, and you aren't going to truly be able to be happy unless you can find love with someone who sees every part of you, and accepts you anyway."

"And you think that person is Emma."

"Maybe. Maybe not. You'll never know if you don't try. What are you so scared of, Regina?" Mal had asked, her eyes imploring Regina to actually force herself to consider that question. "Are you afraid that if you take a risk - if you take a chance - with Emma, that it's not going to work out?"

Regina had shook her head, laughing mirthlessly. "I'm not afraid of what will happen if it doesn't work out. I'm worried about what will happen if it does."

Maleficent had sighed then, finally picking up on what was really going on. "You're afraid to be happy."

Regina bit her lip as she continued to stare up at the ceiling, long after she'd heard Emma head back into her room after feeding the baby. Part of her wanted to follow Emma into her room, and continue their conversation from earlier, but part of her didn't even know what she would say.

But, it was all going to have to come out in the open, eventually, and Regina knew it was going to be sooner rather than later, the longer she stayed at Emma's house. They couldn't keep going on in a stasis, and moving forward - or in any direction, really - Regina knew relied on her making a decision about Robin.

And she knew it was going to have to be her. If Robin were going to end things, he would have by now, she reasoned. In many ways, she was surprised he'd let it go on this long, but now she knew it was up to her to determine how much longer it continued. It wasn't just her future that hung in the balance anymore.


Regina sighed audibly as she read the newest text message that had just come in.

"Robin?" Emma asked from her place beside her on the couch, not actually looking up from the papers on her lap. Henry had left shortly after breakfast to go for a walk with Grace by the docks, and once Hope had gone down for her morning nap, the two of them had decided to actually get down to business on baby shower planning, but Regina's phone had been serving as a constant distraction. While Emma had tried her best to pretend she hadn't noticed it go off several times already, she was quickly becoming aware that the person on the other side wasn't planning on giving up any time soon. And it wasn't hard to guess who that person was.

"Yes," Regina said with a nod. "He won't stop insisting that we need to talk."

"Well, he's not wrong."

"I know. I just don't know what to do."

Emma glanced over at her. "Well, the first thing might be to actually answer one of those texts, because he's clearly not giving up until you do."

"No, I meant… I don't know what to do about me and Robin."

"I think you do."

Regina sighed.

"Regina… I don't want to sound self-serving here, but maybe it's time to wake up and see what everyone else can see."

"And what's that?"

"That you're miserable with him. Henry's right, you know. You're happier when you're here. Even you know that. I'm not saying that… well, I'm not saying that anything's going to happen between you and I, but do you really see yourself finding a way to be truly happy with Robin? I mean, if it's so meant to be, wouldn't the choice be easier?"

Regina nodded quickly. "I thought it would all just fall into place, eventually. Every relationship has its hurdles, right?"

Emma sighed. Regina had been visibly tense all morning, and she looked like she hadn't slept a wink the night before. Emma could tell by the way Regina's voice rose an octave higher than it usually was that the woman was on the verge of crying. "There's hurdles and then there's dead ends, Regina."

"I know. And what keeps running through my head is how do I make a choice between my soul mate and true love?"

"What?"

"I used to think one should go hand in hand with the other - that Robin being my soul mate would ensure true love. But, I'm learning it doesn't work that way. The proof is right there in that bassinet, isn't it? We might not have known, but Hope's very existence means something bigger for us. But, doesn't it make me a horrible person if I just leave Robin behind? He wanted to marry me and have a life with me, how can I expect him to just cut his losses and walk away?"

"I think it would be worse to have a life with him out of a sense of obligation, if you're not invested. I spent a lot of my life trying to assimilate into families where I wasn't really wanted and I never really belonged. You can't force a family to happen if everyone's not all in, and you haven't been all in for a long time, have you?"

Regina shook her head. "No."

"So, then the choice should be obvious."

Regina nodded. "So… do you want to talk about… that? True love, I mean?"

"No," Emma said, simply.

"Emma, I think we need to talk about what it means."

"Yeah, we do. But we're not having that conversation until you make a choice. We could have two very different conversations, but it all depends on what you decide to do."

Regina paused for a moment, before nodding again. "You're right. And I know what I'm going to do."

"Okay. Do it. Then we'll talk."

Chapter Text

Regina stood on the porch in front of closed door to her own house for far longer than she really should have, considering it was, after all, her house. It was her house, but her family wasn't here and even after only three nights away, she felt like a stranger on her own doorstep.

But she'd agreed to meet with Robin today.

She'd finally texted him back late Sunday afternoon, after she and Emma had finished making plans for the baby shower, and when she gave him a timeframe in which to expect her visit, she couldn't help feeling like she was making a to-do list: paper work at her office in the morning, break up with Robin at noon, then pick up diapers and shower invitations.

Regina sighed as she debated on whether she should knock, or just walk in. It was her house for crying out loud, and yet, she didn't know what to do. For a moment, she held her fist up in mid air, fully prepared to actually knock, but she thought better of it, lowered her hand, and grabbed her keys to let herself in.

"Robin?" she called, as she stepped inside only to find the house quiet. She'd expected the kids to be on the main floor playing, and she knew Robin was expecting her.

"Hello? Robin?"

Moments later, Robin rushed down the stairs, Ryleigh held snugly in one arm, and his bow in the other hand. Roland was right behind him, his face ashen, and Regina couldn't help but notice the full quiver of arrows on Robin's back.

"Robin? What's going on?"

Robin set his jaw and glared at Regina. "What the hell did you do?"

"What? I didn't do anything… what are you talking about?"

"Zelena," Robin practically spat.

Regina shook her head in confusion. "Zelena? Robin, I don't know-"

"Zelena's back. In Storybrooke."

Regina gaped at Robin for a moment, shaking her head in disbelief this time. "Robin, I had no idea. I swear. What… how do you know?"

"Because she paid me a visit at the Sheriff's station this morning. I was meant to be there until noon, and Little John would be watching the children until after you and I spoke, but I left early and got my children and came here to prepare to return to the woods."

Regina nodded, finally taking note of the bags already packed at the bottom of the stairs. "You think you'll be safe from here there? That Ryleigh will be?"

"Well, I don't have a hell of a lot of other options, do I?"

"Well, you could have called me."

"Could I have? You barely even respond to me anymore. Could I really expect you to take a break from whatever it is you're over there doing with Emma just because I called you?"

"You know I'd never let the children be in danger. You're not going to the woods. She will find you there and you'll be defenseless."

"I have my arrows and my men."

"And she's a mother who will be relentless until she gets her daughter. Please, just let me help you."

"I'll take my chances."

"Robin!" Regina gasped. "You don't honestly think I had something to do with this, do you?"

"Well, it wouldn't be the first time you betrayed me behind my back."

Regina clenched her jaw for a moment, taking a deep breath to calm herself before continuing. "This has nothing to do with that. Taking the children to the woods is too dangerous. You should stay here, let me put a protection spell on the house, and I will deal with Zelena."

Robin appeared as if he were about to protest, but then thought better of it. "You can guarantee that Zelena can't get in? Because she's gotten past you before."

Regina sighed. "I can't do the spell myself. My blood magic won't work against her, so someone else will have to cast it."

"Emma," Robin said, closing his eyes in annoyance.

"No. Emma can't use her magic right now. I'm going to call Maleficent."

Regina didn't want for Robin to respond as she grabbed her phone and quickly called Mal, asking her to come over.

"So, she can do it?" Robin asked. He still hadn't moved from his place at the bottom of the stairs, apparently waiting to see if staying truly was his best option.

"Yes. She'll be here soon. And she is much more powerful than Zelena, trust me."

"Fine," Robin replied with a nod, before turning to Roland. "Roland, it's alright. We don't have to leave right now."

"So I can go play?" Roland asked, excitedly, and Regina was grateful that the boy was still too young to realize what was going on.

Robin nodded, and as Roland took off to the other room in search of his toys, Robin handed Ryleigh off to Regina, so he could remove his quiver.

"I know this isn't the best time," Regina said, as Ryleigh snuggled against her chest, "but it will take Mal a few minutes to get here, and I really do need to talk to you."

Robin nodded, and Regina noted the look of disdain in his eyes had already begun to fade. "I think I know what you're going to say?"

"Do you?"

"Well, it's not too much of a stretch to guess you're planning to leave me for Emma. So, go ahead. Get it out."

Regina sighed. "I… that's not exactly accurate. I don't know what will happen between Emma and I. Maybe nothing, but that's not the point. Robin… I think it's time for us to accept that this isn't working. Neither of us are happy, you can't deny that."

"You've been unhappy for quite some time, Regina. I thought I could change that. I thought you wanted stability and security and I thought that proposing would prove to you that I was sticking around for the long haul. I knew you doubted yourself, Regina, but I didn't know just how much you doubted this relationship."

"Neither did I," Regina admitted, her voice just above a whisper as she turned her eyes to the ground. On one hand, getting it all out felt like a weight off her shoulders, but on the other, while she didn't feel as strongly or deeply as she knew she should for Robin, she still cared for him and watching the hurt on his face still stung. "Are you going to be alright?"

Robin smiled, shaking his head slightly. "I'll survive. I've got my children and my men and David's checking over the budget to see if he can offer me a permanent position at the station."

Regina nodded quickly. "He can. I've already checked the numbers."

"Well then. I'll be just fine."

"You're taking this better than I expected," Regina noted. She wasn't disappointed in that, so much as she was surprised. She'd expected a fight.

"You checked out of this relationship months ago, Regina. It was only a matter of time. I didn't expect to learn that you'd cheated, or that you had a child with someone else, but you haven't really been a part of this for quite some time, have you? Even when you were here, physically, your heart has been someplace else entirely. I still love you, Regina, but I still remember what a happy marriage is supposed to feel like, and I'm not willing to settle for less than that."

Regina sighed and nodded, debating on whether or not an 'I'm sorry' would be appropriate. Robin didn't look like he was waiting for an apology, and and chance of continuing the conversation was cut off by the swirl of magic that suddenly appeared in the room. Regina noted the way that Robin was immediately on alert, but it wasn't Zelena who materialized.

"You don't knock?" Regina asked, smirking at Mal.

Mal shrugged. "Not my style."

Mal wasted no time getting to work casting her strongest protection spell, as Regina stood back and watched her. There was something so fascinating about watching Maleficent perform magic, and Regina had been enthralled by it since the first time she saw her transform into a dragon.

When Mal was finished, she took a few deep breaths to recover, and Regina could tell the magic was strong. She could feel it, almost palpable, in the air.

"So now what?" Mal asked, eyeing Regina suspiciously and taking note of the baby in her arms.

"Now, Robin stays here with the children, and I get to deal with my sister." Regina gave Ryleigh a kiss on the forehead before returning her to her father. "I just need to grab some clothes and I'll go."

Mal opted to stay on the main floor with Robin, explaining how her spell worked and what he should do if he needed to leave the house, since the spell would not only prevent anyone from getting in, it would prevent him from getting out.

Upstairs, Regina used her magic to pack her bag, since she'd already gone through all the outfits she'd taken to Emma's. She hadn't really expected to be gone more than a couple days, but now she knew she would be out of her home indefinitely, until they figured out what to do about Zelena. She sighed, looking around the room she'd once shared with Robin, but all she could think of staring at that bed was her night with Emma.

She shook her head, knowing that now was not the time for any of this, and she had more pressing things to deal with at the moment.

She headed back downstairs, suitcase in tow, and followed Mal to the front door. After a quick goodbye, Mal poofed them both out to the curb, where Regina's car now sat parked on the street. Regina could only guess Mal had moved that with her magic, as well.

"I put a spell around the entire perimeter of your property, as well as a more condensed, stronger one around the actual house itself. If your sister thinks she's getting in, she has not one but two barriers to cross."

Regina nodded. "I still need to get to her and figure out what the hell she's planning, because if it were my child, I'd walk through hell and back to get to her. Zelena's not going to give up because of a protection spell."

"Well, it buys us some time, anyway." Mal glanced at Regina's suitcase. "So what's your plan in the meantime?"

Regina shrugged. "I guess I'll get a room at the inn."

"You're not going to stay with Emma?"

"Well, she offered me her guestroom for a couple nights, but this is likely going to be a lot more than a couple nights. Just because we're getting along doesn't mean she wants me to move in indefinitely."

"You'll never know unless you ask."

Regina nodded as she threw her suitcase into her trunk. On some level, she knew Mal was right, and chances were if she went back to Emma's and told her she needed to stay longer, Emma would gladly let her. "Do you want a ride?"

Mal smirked. "It's not often that you ask me that question," she commented as she opened the passenger door and got into the car. Regina shook her head as she got into her side.

"So, what's your other plan? As far as finding your sister is concerned?"

"No idea. But, if I know her as well as I think I do, I'm not going to be able to find her until she wants to be found."

"So, then, should I put a spell over Emma's house, too? Because I think it's a safe bet that if she can't get to Ryleigh, she's going to come after you next."

Regina's face paled as she considered the possibility she hadn't thought of before. "What if she comes after Hope because she can't get to Ryleigh?" She stepped down on the pedal harder and drove a bit quicker back to Emma's.

Once they reached Emma's, Regina didn't even wait for Mal to get out of the car as she practically ran to Emma's front door. "Emma?" she cried, frantically, her eyes darting around the room.

Emma stepped around the doorway from the kitchen looking confused, Hope happily sleeping in her arms. "Regina, why are you yelling? She's asleep."

Regina breathed a sigh of relief. "Sorry. I was worried."

Emma turned her attention to Mal as the other woman entered through the still open front door. "What's going on? I thought you were going to take care of things with Robin?"

"I was. And I did, Emma. I did. I ended things with him, but something else happened."

The look of sheer disappointment was evident on Emma's face. "Of course. Something always happens."

"No, no, nothing like… it's Zelena. She's back in Storybrooke."

"What?"

Regina nodded. "Robin saw her this morning. He was set to take the kids to the Merry Men's camp, but I called Mal and had her put a protection spell over my house instead. And she's going to put one up here, as well, because…"

"You think Hope's in danger?"

"I don't know. I don't what my sister's plan is, but I don't want to take any risks here."

"Right. Yeah, of course," Emma agreed, and watched as Mal got to work enacting the protection spell. "What about Henry."

Regina thought for a minute, and decided not to take any chances there, either. The protection spell wasn't fully enacted yet, so she waved her hand to poof Henry from his classroom into Emma's living room.

"Uh…" Henry said, looking around in utter confusion, his hand in mid-air, clutching a pencil.

Regina quickly relayed the story - again - and Henry simply nodded.

"I was in the middle of a math test," he commented. "You better call my teacher."

"I will, but Henry I need you to call your grandfather and tell him what's going on. I get the impression that Robin left the station fairly quickly this morning, and the fact that David never called Emma or I about this, tells me he doesn't know yet."

Henry nodded and headed to the other room to make the call, as Mal finished up the spell.

"All done," Mal said, though she sounded incredibly tired. "And, here." Mal stepped over to Regina and Emma, opening her hand to reveal a glowing pendant on a chain. "It's like the one I gave Emma. It's infused with some of my magic, and it will let you leave the house when you need to."

"Thank you," Regina said as she took the pendant from Mal and held it tightly in her hand. "For everything, Mal. Really."

Mal gave a small smile. "Anything for you two beautiful idiots," she said with a sigh. "But, now, I'm going to go home and lie down. I haven't used this much magic at once in quite some time, you know."

"Thank you," Emma said.

"So, that's how your pendant helped you with your sickness?" Regina asked, once Mal had left in a cloud of smoke. "I knew it was enchanted, but I didn't realize Mal infused it with her magical essence."

"Well, yes and no… That's how it worked, but it wasn't her essence it was infused with."

"What do you mean?"

Emma gave a half-hearted shrug, unsure of how Regina would react to knowing what Mal had done. "She, uh, she infused it with your magic. She managed to capture a bit of it, I guess, and it helped."

"Oh. Emma, I wish I would have known…"

"I know. I wish we both would have done a lot of things differently, but we can't go back," Emma said, as she headed toward the couch to sit down. Regina followed suit.

"No, I suppose not."

"So, it's over between you and Robin?"

Regina nodded. "Yes. He's going to continue to stay at my house until this Zelena thing is resolved, and I packed a suitcase."

"I didn't see a suitcase."

"It's in my car."

"Oh. You're not planning on staying here, then?"

Regina turned to Emma in surprise. "I wasn't sure you'd want me to. A couple nights is one thing. I don't know how long this will be."

Emma shrugged. "It's kind of nice," she said, as she stroked her fingers idly over Hope's wispy hair, "having you here, I mean. You know, to help with Hope and with… well, everything. It's nice to be able to talk to you again."

"I know," Regina agreed. "And I guess now that we're both essentially under house arrest until we figure out a way to smoke my sister out, or she decides to make a move, we'll have lots of time to talk."

"Well, we do have a lot to talk about."

"Yes, we really do," Regina replied, with a nod. They really did, and despite her sister's uncanny knack of interjecting herself into their lives at the most inopportune times, Regina noted that this was the first time she'd be able to talk openly, about everything, because there were no more romantic loose ends to consider.

Robin was safe. All of the children were safe. And she and Emma were together in the same house.

Regina had let an opportunity slip through her fingers once. She wasn't about to do that again.

Chapter Text

"So…." Emma started, hesitantly. "How did it go? With Robin, I mean?"

Regina sighed. "Do you really want to talk about Robin?"

Emma shrugged. "Not particularly. But I'm not really sure where else to start."

"Me either. It went… well, better than I'd expected. I guess I should have known he'd already seen it coming. Apparently everyone knows me better than I know myself these days."

Emma nodded. "Well, we know Mal certainly does. She knows us both better than we know ourselves, actually. We should do something for her, you know? When things get back to normal. Because I can't even imagine where we would have ended up without her."

"And what about Lily? Did you decide if you want to invite her to the shower?"

Emma shrugged again. "I mean, I probably should, right? She hasn't talked to me since our fight. Maybe I've gotta be the one to extend the olive branch? She was way out of line, but… I haven't exactly been easy to get along with the past few weeks."

"Emma, that's not your fault."

"I know, but it's not her fault, either. And it's not yours."

"Em-"

"No, Regina, I've told you I don't blame you, and I don't. This morning, Archie was telling me I can't move forward living in the past, and I think that's something we both need to learn. No amount of guilt or regret can change anything. Hope's here now, and she's healthy and perfect."

"And what if she hadn't been? I would have never been able to…"

"Forgive yourself," Emma finished, nodding and looking down at the baby in her arms. "Me either. Everything that happened, it was my fault, too. Everything would have been different if we'd… I don't know, found a way to talk to each other, I guess. But we can't take any of it back, so I guess we just have to be grateful that it turned out okay. Mostly okay."

"Mostly," Regina agreed, with a nod. "And are you okay? You haven't talked much about how you're feeling about the baby, you know."

"I know. Nothing's really changed there, yet. Archie thinks… he thinks I should get out of the house for a couple hours without her."

"You sound hesitant."

"Yeah. I don't know. I don't know if I want to. I mean, what's it going to help?"

"Archie's a professional."

Emma smirked and raised an eyebrow. "Really?"

"He might have gotten his degree in the curse, but it came with real knowledge, you know."

Emma shrugged. "Doesn't make a difference now anyway, I suppose. I can't really go out on the town with Zelena on the loose, can I?"

"Our lives don't have to stop just because she's back, you know. And she's got no reason to come after you."

"But if she did, I can't defend myself."

"So go out with Mal, then. It's only a couple hours, Emma. Hope and Henry will be safe here with me. You haven't left this house since she was born, you know. Maybe Archie has a point."

"Maybe," Emma said, nodding as she looked down at the baby sleeping against her chest again. "It's weird, you know? Like… this disconnection I feel. It's like she's just a thing that needs my attention, but I also feel like I can't let her out of my sight for even a second. It's terrifying to even think about it."

"Maybe it's your way of overcompensating," Regina suggested.

"You think so?"

"Sure. You feel guilty and you feel like you're failing so you overdo it in other areas, like obsessively worrying about her. But she'll be fine with me."

"I know! I know… I'm not trying to suggest that she wouldn't. I mean, you raised Henry full time by yourself. I don't doubt your mothering skills. I just… I feel so useless right now. I can't use my magic… I can't… I can't feel like I'm supposed to. I don't doubt you as a mother, Regina. I doubt myself."

Regina shook her head, and held her hands out for the baby. "Just give to her me, and go call Mal. Set something up and everything will be fine. I promise. We'll be right here waiting for you when you get home."

"Okay," Emma agreed, handing Hope off to Regina, somewhat hesitantly, before getting up to grab her phone.

A quick phone call later, and she was back beside Regina on the couch, looking more apprehensive than before.

"Emma?"

"Mal and I are going to go out for coffee. She said she's feeling much better and I said I could come pick her up now," Emma said, nodding her head as if she were trying to convince herself she could really do this. "Coffe. One hour. At Granny's. That's it, and then I'll be back."

"Just go out and relax, alright? You'll be fine. Mal's not going to let anything happen to you and I'm not going to let anything happen to the kids. Archie wouldn't have suggested it if it wasn't good for you."

"You're right. You're right, I know you're right. It just… this isn't easy, you know?"

"I know."

"Yeah. But I can't just keep staying stuck where I am, either, I guess. And hey, we can talk more when I get back, right?" Emma asked, almost hopefully. "It's kinda nice, you know. Talking… maybe making some progress."

"Yes. Of course, Emma."


"So, tell me my dear," Mal began after a sip of her coffee once Ruby had brought their drinks, "how are things going with you and Regina?"

Emma sighed, shifting nervously in the booth across from Mal and staring at her hot cocoa a little too intensely before looking up to meet her imploring eyes. "You really want to talk about me and Regina? I mean, I pretty much monopolize all of your time with my problems as it is."

"I don't see it that way," Mal replied with a shrug. "I'm genuinely interested."

"Well, I also know all the magic today wiped you right out. I'm surprised you were even up to coming out at all."

"I'm a dragon, darling. My recovery time is much quicker than a human's. And I know how to keep extra magic on reserve, for when I need it. So, please, Emma, stop side stepping my question."

"Alright. Okay. Well… I don't really know where we're at right now. I mean, she told me she'd end things with Robin and she did, but I'm still… I don't know, hesitant to move forward, I guess? Everything's just kind of confusing, still. I told her we should talk more, and I know she wants to talk about true love and what it all means but I'm just not sure I'm ready."

"You're not?"

"Well, I mean… she seems sincere, but what if she freaks out again? Then what?"

Mal nodded. "Right, well, you two both can't keep letting the fear of what might happen dictate your actions, you know?"

"I know. I did kiss her. Did she tell you that?"

"No."

"Yeah. I don't know what I was thinking. I stopped right away and then she tried to kiss me back and I started panicking. It's all a lot, you know? And on top of everything I've got my sessions with Archie and we've been focusing mainly on Hope. He said naming her would help and I really believed him, but nothing's really changed other than I don't have people pressuring me to name her anymore."

"You're still feeling disconnected?"

Emma nodded, the defeat evident on her face. "Yeah. It seems so easy for Regina, though, and I don't get it. I mean, Archie says a big part of it was her sudden arrival, but I still had months to get used to the idea of having a baby. Regina had minutes and she's fine. So it makes me think... what's so wrong with me?"

"There's nothing wrong with you, Emma. You'll get through this."

"I don't know if I will. Maybe I put too many expectations on Hope. I thought… I think I thought having another baby would make up for everything. I thought it would heal the pain of giving up Henry. And I thought… well, maybe not consciously because I tried so hard not to think it, but a part of me thought having Hope would magically fix everything between me and Regina."

"But things are better between you and Regina," Mal pointed out.

"Yeah, but… not the way I want them to be. We're just… co-parenting like we always did, just under the same roof right now."

"Are you sure it's the same as it always was?"

Emma thought for a moment, before a small smile started at the corner of her lips. "Maybe it's not exactly the same. You know, I thought I didn't like how much Hope is starting to look like Regina, but then the other night, Regina was cuddling her and they were both half-asleep and it was just… I don't know how to explain it, it was just so beautiful to watch. I just had this split second thought of the fact that we - Regina and I - we made her. She exists because of us, and not just because we got drunk one night. Because of magic and…"

"And true love," Mal finished.

"Yeah. It's kind of hard for me to wrap my head around still. But Hope's eyes, they're starting to turn dark already. She's going to have Regina's eyes without a doubt, and when I realized it, I wasn't upset about it. I was actually happy about it. Because it's even more than we just made her, it's like you said before: I gave Regina something no one else ever could. That means something, right?"

"It does."

Emma's smile began to widen. "Hope's becoming so expressive, already, too, you know? When she scrunches up her nose she looks just like Regina. And I think she's already in love with Henry, too. As much as a baby can love someone. Her face just lights up when she hears his voice."

Mal smiled as she took another sip of her coffee and let Emma continue to gush.

"She's going to be a hair puller, though, I can already tell," Emma said, shaking her head. "When I feed her, she gets her fingers tangled in my hair. And she strokes it when she's falling asleep. Regina said Henry did the same thing as an infant, and she's already talking about cutting hers off because Hope yanked out a good fistful the other day. But I don't know, I don't mind it."

"You can always put it in a ponytail," Mal suggested.

"Exactly. And, oh! Just wait until you see the outfit she's going to wear to the baby shower. I ordered it online, in three different sizes just in case. I don't know what will fit her by then and baby clothes are so oddly sized. Some of her newborn onesies still fit her, but in others she's already in three months! I still can't believe I already had to pack up all her premie clothes though. She's growing so fast, I'm in disbelief."

"Honey…" Mal said, shaking her head, but smiling.

"What?"

"Are you listening to yourself right now? Do you know the size of the smile on your face and the way your eyes light up when you talk about your daughter? Do you even realize how much you're talking about her?"

Emma thought for a moment, about to apologize for monopolizing the entire conversation thus far, until it dawned on her what Mal was really saying. A small smile crept back up on her lips, even as she felt unexpected tears stinging at the corners of her eyes. She'd done a lot more crying than she would have liked since Hope was born, but this was different and she knew it. This meant something.

"I miss my baby!" Emma said, nearly laughing at the admission.

"Of course you do, honey."

"I want to go home."


Emma couldn't get in the door fast enough once they'd arrived back at her house. She barely even waited for Mal to let her thought the protection spell before she had the door open and was running inside. Mal shut the door behind them as Emma dashed into the livingroom, where Regina and Henry looked on in confusion from the couch.

"Mommy's home!" Emma exclaimed as she lifted Hope from her bassinet, as the little one stared at her with wide eyes. "And I missed you so, so much."

Emma peppered Hope's soft cheeks with kisses before cradling the baby close to her chest. Silent tears fell from her eyes as she let them shut, and swayed back and forth with Hope in her arms.

"What's going on?" Regina asked, getting up from the couch and walking over to Mal, who was still watching Emma with a big smile on her face.

"Progress," Mal said, softly, reaching out with her hand to grab onto Regina's and give it a little squeeze. "You two still have a long road ahead of you, but I think Emma just surpassed her biggest road block."

"I hope you're right," Regina whispered back as she watched Emma with Hope. She smiled as Henry got up and went over to Emma, wrapping his arms around her and his sister, and she realized that she was seeing something before her that she'd never once seen with Robin or his children.

It was something she couldn't admit to herself before, but now, looking at Emma, Henry and Hope, Regina saw her future there.

Chapter Text

A wild RowArk appears, with a new chapter of Reckless Abandon!

A/N: If any of the things in regard to Oz don't fit with canon, it's because I can't really remember what happened with that storyline, and it's not really pivotal to the story anyway, so I didn't go back and rewatch!


Chapter Twenty Eight


"Look," said Emma, grinning as she held up a piece of paper on her way back into the kitchen, where Regina was cradling Hope in one arm.

"What's that?"

"Hope's birth certificate! It came a lot quicker than I expected." Emma held the document up for Regina to see. They'd realized that they really should decide on her full name before the baby shower, and once they'd chosen it, Regina had gone straight to the town hall to fill out the paperwork to order Hope's birth certificate.

It had been a little over a week since Emma had gone out with Mal, and while in that time Zelena hadn't made another appearance, Emma and Regina had thrown themselves head first into shower planning. They'd decided that sooner was better, so that all their friends could finally actually meet their daughter, and the shower was set for the upcoming weekend.

Aside from the arrival of Hope's birth certificate, the morning was about the same as any other was for them these days. Henry went to school, after Regina let him through the door and through the protection spell using Mal's enchanted pendant. Both Emma and Regina had been hesitant to let him return, but they knew they couldn't keep him locked in the house indefinitely. They also knew that Snow was picking him up in the morning to drive him, and that if anything were to happen, Regina was only a poof away.

Still, even though they hadn't heard a peep from Zelena yet, Regina was jumpy from being on constant high alert, and late that morning, when Hope was napping and Emma was taking a shower, she quickly learned she was right to still worry when there was a knock at the door.

It wasn't her house, but she'd gotten to used to living there that it didn't faze Regina to be answering Emma's door, but normally she knew who was coming and when, and they weren't expecting anyone this morning. Her heart was pounding rapidly in her chest, and sank immediately when she opened the door to see Zelena standing there.

However, it wasn't so much the fact that she had shown up - Regina had really been expecting it at some point - but rather the fact that she looked just as bad, if not worse, than when they'd seen her in the mirror. It was clear that her banishment was taking a toll on her, and if it weren't for the hell that Zelena had put them all through, Regina would allow herself to feel bad for her sister.

Instead, she inhaled sharply and forced her nerves down. "Zelena. You can't come in, the house is protected."

Zelena gave a half hearted roll of her eyes. "I can see that, sis," she said, holding her hand up to the invisible barrier between them, that glowed opalescent when her hand neared it. "And I don't want to come in. I want my daughter."

"She's not here," Regina stated, crossing her arms in front of her.

"I'm aware. She's with her father in your house, which I note is also protected, and which, honestly is where I'd expected to find you. It took me a few days to track you down, you know. But I'm not here for a fight, Regina. I'm here, coming to you, mother to mother, to ask for a second chance."

Regina faltered slightly. She hadn't expected this, and she wasn't sure if it was a trick. "You've had a second chance."

"You've had several," Zelena countered, though her heart really wasn't in it and Regina could tell.

It was true, Regina knew she couldn't deny that much, but still she was wary. "Even if I thought you deserved one, it's not up to me, Zelena. Ryleigh is Robin's daughter."

Zelena inhaled sharply, a look of surprise overcoming her as her eyes lit up, ever so slightly, and Regina realized that her sister hadn't even known her own daughter's name until this point.

"Ryleigh," Zelena repeated, "that's what you've called her then?"

Regina let out a sigh. "Not me," she reiterated. "She's Robin's daughter."

Zelena closed her eyes and nodded quickly. "Yes, yes, I know. I just assumed… is that why you aren't at home, then? You and Robin are no longer together?"

Regina shifted uncomfortably. "That's really none of your business."

"It is if it was my fault."

"Isn't that what you wanted? To ruin my life?"

"Not anymore," Zelena admitted, and she sounded utterly defeated. "There was a time when hurting you was all I lived for, but now…"

Regina nodded as Zelena's voice trailed off. She might not have Emma's superpower, but even she could tell her sister was being sincere. Maybe motherhood had changed her after all, even if she hadn't yet gotten to experience being a mother.

"I'll talk to Robin for you," Regina conceded, after a few more moments internal debate. "I can't make you any promises, but that's the best I can do."

"Thank you." The corners of Zelena's mouth curled up in a tiny, grateful smile.

"I need your word that you won't do anything before then. And I'll need to know where to find you."

Zelena nodded quickly. "Yes, absolutely. You have my word," Zelena swore, before relaying to Regina the location of the cottage she'd been staying in.

Regina sighed as she closed the door once her sister had left. Of all the things she'd been expecting, a heartbroken Zelena wasn't on the list, and she wasn't sure how she was supposed to feel about this right now.

And she really wasn't sure how she was supposed to advocate for the sister she'd banished, now that she was back.


At Emma's suggestion, Regina opted to wait until after the shower to attempt to approach Robin about the Zelena situation. She sent him a quick text to relay that she'd seen her sister, and that while she didn't believe she posed a direct threat to him or the children just now, she advised that he stay at her house, still.

In the midst of picking things up for the shower, Regina also stopped by Zelena's cottage. Her sister looked slightly better than when she'd last seen her, but Regina found it really did hurt her heart to watch the hope fade from her eyes when she told her she didn't plan on talking to Robin until next week.

She did, however, bring photos of Ryleigh, which Zelena took, but opted not to open the envelope just yet. Regina chose not to comment, though she wondered if her sister was planning on holding on to them so she'd have something, just in case Regina couldn't convince Robin to let Zelena see Ryleigh.

Regina wasn't sure if it was true concern, or just guilt, but she found herself asking Zelena if she had enough food in the cottage or if there was anything else she needed. Zelena rolled her eyes. "I didn't come here in search of a babysitter, you know," she said, not bothering to hide the annoyance in her voice. "Whatever I need is just a flick of the wrist away."

"Right," said Regina, nodding. "How did you get here, anyway?"

Zelena let out a short, mirthless laugh. "I had to relinquish my control of Oz to Dorothy," Zelena explained, spitting out Dorothy's name like it tasted vile in her mouth. "I gave up everything in return for a ticket out. Oz means nothing to me now. It's nothing without my child. Regina-"

"I know. I will talk to Robin on Monday."

"But why does it have to wait so long?"

Regina shook her head. "With the baby shower on the weekend, it's too much. He's going to be less receptive knowing…" Regina let her voice trail off as she watched the look of confusion wash over Zelena's face, and suddenly remembered that her sister didn't know about Hope.

"Baby shower?" Zelena repeated.

"I, uh, yes. It's a long story, and it's kind of the reason why I ended things with Robin. Well, one of many reasons, but either way, it's not the best time. No matter what, he sees you as a threat to his child, and he will likely see you as such for quite some time. Asking him to let you see her right before a celebration of my own child, I just… I don't think it will be well-received."

"I see," said Zelena, nodding absently, and Regina knew she had a lot of burning questions she was just dying to ask, but she opted to stay silent, and Regina knew it wasn't the time for that, either.

So she left the cottage with a little more hope for her sister - the most she'd had, ever - that she really did only come for her daughter, that she really might be willing to change for her and that letting her meet her daughter really would be the best thing, for Zelena and for Ryleigh.


The three days that lead up to the shower involved a lot of cooking, decorating and running out for last minute things. Stress was high in Emma's house, but for the first time since she'd started seeing Archie, she went for her session at his office, willingly leaving Hope at home with Regina while she was gone. Even after her breakthrough nearly two weeks ago, though Emma now admitted she really was beginning to finally bond with her daughter, the anxiety was still ever-present, so Regina knew that leaving Hope at home with her for the longest time ever was another big step for Emma.

And Emma's anxiety was in overdrive on the days leading up to the shower, especially every day that passed in which her package she'd ordered with Hope's outfits didn't arrive. By Friday, she was in a full blown panic, having no idea what she was going to dress her daugher in, but on Saturday, when all hope was nearly lost, the package finally arrived.

Finally, Sunday arrived, and while Regina took care of the last minute food preparation, Emma took Hope to the nursery to get her ready for her shower.

Hope was nearly six weeks old now, and gaining much more control and strength in her neck muscles, and Emma smiled at the way Hope's big, nearly brown, eyes followed her around the room as she got everything she needed to change her and then get her dressed. Hope turned her head from side to side, watching Emma's movements as she laid in her bassinette.

"Alright, time to get dressed," Emma announced, once Hope's diaper was changed. First came the little onesie, pale green with the words "My Mommies Love Me" on the front in a kind of shimmery purple font.

Next, she pulled on a pair of purple leggings, nearly the same shade as the lettering on the onesie with little frills on the butt. Emma wasn't overly fond of the frills, but she knew Regina liked those sort of things so she guessed she could handle them, for today. No one was really going to be paying attention to the frills, anyway.

Finally, the thing Emma had been most excited for: Hope's little sweater. She'd missed the chance to bring her home from the hospital in the dragon sleeper she'd wanted, and though she'd ordered that online as well, she didn't feel a sleeper was the most appropriate attire for Hope to meet the people of Storybrooke in, for the first time. Instead, she'd managed to find a little dragon sweater, green and printed with a shiney dragon scale pattern. It had a hood, and dark purple spiked that ran from the top, all the way down Hope's back, and down the little tail affixed to the bottom of the sweater. There were two soft little horns at the top, and Emma thought it was perfect.

The dragon tail on the sweater mostly covered the frills on Hope's little bottom, but Emma decided to go with the little white socks with the frills on the ankle to complete the look anyway.

"Alright, baby girl, let's go see how your party looks!" Emma cooed, as she moved to pick Hope up, but stopped in an instant, her heart skipping a beat as Hope did something she'd never done before.

Emma felt tears burning in her eyes as a big grin came over her face. For the first time in her short little life, Hope smiled.

"Oh my," Emma whispered as she picked her baby up and held her close. "Everything might not have gone as planned, but I still got your first smile!"


Emma surveyed the living room as she walked in with Hope. Perhaps they had gone a little overboard with the decorations - streamers in purple and green all over, sparkly big balloons in all the corners, and a giant sign that read WELCOME BABY HOPE, along with way too much food already out on the dining room table and a cake that was way too big - but Emma didn't care. She'd never had a baby shower before, and she was quickly learning that when it came to parties, Regina spared no expense.

Emma didn't even get a chance to tell Regina about Hope's smile before guests began arriving. Snow and David were first, not surprisingly, with Neal looking dapper in a little suit. Henry was with them, since he'd gotten sick of shower preparations and opted to spend the night at his grandparents' instead. Snow immediately took Hope off Emma's hands and headed to the kitchen to help Regina. Soon after, Ruby, Granny, Archie, Tink, Ashley and Aurora with their families - Emma knew it wasn't generally tradition for men to attend baby showers, but nothing about this so far had been conventional and she wasn't about to start now.

More and more people arrived, but Emma's face lit up when the door opened to reveal Mal and Lily. It had been weeks since she'd spoken to Lily, but her friend stood there with a sheepish smile on her face.

"Hey," Lily said, once Mal had said hello and set off to find Regina.

"Hey."

"So…" Lily started, biting her lip nervously.

"Yeah, I know."

Lily nodded. "No, let me say it. Emma, I'm sorry. I was out of line and… I suck."

Emma shook her head. "No, we were both kind of out of line. We both suck."

"Well, I'm trying to unsuck, if that makes a difference?" Lily said, raising her eyebrows in expectation.

"Me too. I'm, uh, I'm seeing Archie, actually. No one really knows, except Regina obviously, and my mom and your mom. But… it's helping. I'm a little more… me… again. I think."

"That's good," Lily said, nodding. "It really is. I, uh, I met my sister."

"Oh!" Emma's eyes went wide for a moment. In the rush of sending out invitations, she'd completely forgotten that Aurora was Lily's half-sister, and she'd invited them both. "How's that going?"

Lily shrugged. "She didn't take it well at first, but… we're coming along. She and Philip invited me over for dinner the other day and it was… it was nice. Having a family - like, a real family who care about you and invite you to things - it's nicer than I would have expected."

Emma smiled and nodded. "Yeah. It is. And hey, I'm glad you came. Hope missed her Auntie."

"Hope," Lily repeated. "My mom told me you'd named her. I can't believe I haven't seen her since then. I'm so sorry."

"I know. Come on. Let's go mingle."

When Emma re-entered the living room, Mal had Hope in her arms and was headed straight for them. "This is adorable, Emma!" Mal said, running the fingers of her free hand over the little soft spikes on Hope's sweater. "Lily, if you ever have a child, be prepared for it to dress like a dragon, always. I didn't even know they made clothing like this…"

Lily grinned and shook her head. "She's an actual dragon and she's amazed by what people can do with fabric."

After a while of greeting and making polite chit chat with their guests, Emma went to fetch Hope from Granny, who had her now, and found Regina so that they could make their formal introductions of their daughter.

"Hi, everyone," Emma said, standing near the table with the giant cake, Hope's head resting on her shoulder as Regina stood beside her. Their guests fell silent as they turned their attention to the two women. "Regina and I just want to take a moment to thank you all for coming and spending this day with us and our little girl."

Emma smiled as she looked around the room of people smiling back at her. She'd been so disappointed that she didn't get the shower with all the games like guessing how big her belly was, but right now, she realized that this really was better.

"And, now that she has a full, legal name, on paper and everything, allow me to formally introduce our daughter," Emma said, turning Hope so she was facing the group of shower guests. "Everyone please help us welcome… Miss Sarah Hope Swan-Mills."

Emma watched how Henry's eyes lit up when he heard his sister's full name.

"You used name I picked?"

"Of course we did," Emma said, with a smile. "You're right. Sarah's a good name. We'll still be calling her Hope, but it's only fair that your name choice was used as well."

"Princess Hope," Henry said, grinning at his sister.

Regina was the next to speak, standing close to Emma as she addressed their guests. "There's a second announcement that Emma and I would like to make," she started, pretending not to notice the sudden looks of unmasked intrigued on Henry's, Snow's and even Mal's faces, knowing that they were likely expecting some sort of announcement about Emma's and her relationship status.

She cleared her throat to refocus.

"This has been a long, and not always easy, journey for Emma and myself, as you all know. There were a lot of difficulties to overcome, and through it all, even before I, or even Snow, knew what was going on, someone was here, taking care of Emma and taking care of everything. Mal, you are my oldest and dearest friend, and without you, Emma and I might not have even been standing here, introducing our healthy, happy little girl. We owe you more than we could ever repay, and as our sincerest thank you, to you, we'd like to ask you to be Hope's godmother."

Mal's smile changed into a look of complete surprise. "You're sure?"

Emma smiled. "There's no one else better suited," she said. "Hope adores you, and like Regina said, we owe her life to you."

Mal nodded as she smiled again. "Then I would be honoured."

The shower continued on into the late afternoon, everyone eating and chatting and passing the baby around. Lots of pictures were being taken, but amidst the noise and movement in the room, Regina quickly noticed that someone had gone missing. Henry, who'd spent most of the party chatting with Grace, was now nowhere to be seen and Grace was busy chatting with Nick and Ava.

Regina slipped silently from the room and headed off in the direction of Henry's bedroom, where sure enough, she found him sitting on his bed, staring at his hands in his lap.

"Hey," Regina said softly, as she entered the room. "What's wrong?"

Henry shrugged. "Nothing, I guess."

"Something's bothering you," Regina said, coming to sit beside her son on his bed. "I'm your mother. Talk to me."

Henry shrugged again, and twisted his hands in his lap. "It's stupid. And childish."

"Henry, whatever it is, just tell me. You know I won't think anything that's bothering you is stupid. Did something happen with Grace?"

Henry shook his head quickly. "No, no it's not that. It's… Mom, you know I know how much you love me right?"

"Yes…"

"Okay, I just… do you ever wish that I was your biological son? Would… would you think of me differently if I was? I mean, Hope… she even looks like you."

"Henry!" Regina wrapped her arms around Henry, hugging him tight. "There is no way I could possibly love you more. I don't care who you look like, given the chance to change your biology, I wouldn't. Without you being exactly who you are, the curse never would have been broken, Emma wouldn't be here and Hope wouldn't even exist. I don't care what your genes say, I've been your mother since you were three weeks old."

Henry nodded and smiled against Regina's shoulder. "Yeah, okay. This day just kind of got to me a little, I guess."

"That's okay, Henry," Regina reassured him, placing a small kiss on his forehead. "These past few weeks have been a huge adjustment for all of us, but I think things will start to settle down now."

Henry nodded again, and Regina turned her eyes to the wall in front of her. Things would surely settle down for Henry, she had no doubt in her mind, but now that the shower was over, she not only had her sister's dilemma to deal with, but she and Emma were going to have nothing to distract them from the inevitable conversations they needed to have about their future.

And, if she were being honest, she realized she no longer wanted the distraction, anyway. She wanted the future.


Thanks for sticking with this story, even during that long hiatus. There's still more to come, I promise, and I'm going to try really hard to not make you wait so long for the next chapter, which will feature Emma and Regina making some decisions about their future!

Also, as always, you can find me on tumble as rowark-sq … come send me asks about this story, or any of them, really, because talking about them really does motivate me to write more!

Until next time!

RowArk

Chapter Text

"Did she go down okay?" Regina asked, looking up as Emma re-entered the living room, where Regina was busy cleaning up after the shower. Snow had offered to stay after dinner and help, but Regina really wanted some time alone with Emma, and since Henry was off to sleepover at Nick's, now seemed like as good a time as any.

"Yeah," Emma said with a nod. "I think the party wore her right out. Too bad. I kind of wanted to have a baby fashion show with all her new clothes."

Regina smirked. "I used to take pictures of Henry in every new outfit I ever got him."

"Poor kid."

"Hey! He enjoyed it."

"He didn't know any better."

Regina smiled as she shook her head, tossing more streamers into a garbage bag. "I missed this, you know."

"Missed what? Cleaning up after parties?"

"No. Joking talking to you. Being around you."

Emma glanced at Regina. "Don't go getting all sappy on me now."

"I'm not. It's just been an emotional week."

"Yeah. I know. Why don't we take a break, hmm? This mess will still be here."

"We can't just leave it!"

"Regina… it's my house, and I say we can. I think we have more pressing issues to worry about than a few stray balloons and paper plates, don't you?"

Regina nodded. "I suppose. Now that the shower is done with, I have to consider my sister's situation. I can't put off-"

"Regina. I don't want to talk about Zelena. I want to talk about us."

"Oh," Regina breathed. "Oh. Okay."

"I think it's time."

Regina nodded. She knew it was time, but she wasn't so sure she was ready. "Right. Okay," she said, putting the bag down and following Emma over to the couch. "Okay."

Regina couldn't help but notice the way that Emma sat close to the arm of the couch, drawing her knees up defensively. In spite of everything they'd been through recently, the last of her walls were still up, and Regina knew, this time, they really did need to get it all out in the open.

"So, where do we start?"

Emma actually laughed. "Oh, God… where do we start?" she repeated, shaking her head, before her expression became serious again. "I did say, once you made a decision about Robin, then we could talk about… you know…"

"True love?" Regina suggested.

Emma nodded. "Yeah. Sorry, it just still sounds strange to say, all things considered."

"But there's no denying it," Regina pointed out. "And we have to discuss what it means."

"What do you think it means?" There wasn't a hint of sarcasm or skepticism in Emma's voice now, as there had been so many times before, and Regina knew she really was ready for an honest conversation.

"I think… it's a possibility, but not a guarantee. It's something within our grasp, but we'll have to work for it. Nothing ever seems to come as easy for you or I as it does for everyone else, but… we did create Hope without even trying. I think… we could really find happiness, if we were both all in."

"Are you? All in?"

"I am now. Are you?"

"You are now. You weren't before. I don't… I don't know what you want me to say, Regina. I don't know what the right answer is, here. I don't want to just be the one you settled for, you know? I don't want to be your second choice."

Regina sighed and nodded. "You know, it's funny… Robin said pretty much the exact same thing to me, when I kept blowing him off to be here with you."

"That's different. That was because of the baby."

"It's never once been just about the baby."

"Regina… what are you saying?" Emma asked, biting at her lip nervously.

"I'm saying… I never regretted that night we spent together. What I have regretted, however, is how I behaved after the fact. I regret how scared I got, and how I treated you, and how I made you feel like I didn't want you or that you were nothing to me, because that's never been the case. I destroy everything I touch, Emma, and I never wanted to hurt you. And you're not my second choice. You're not the one I'm settling for because something else didn't work out. Something else didn't work out, because I had already chosen you."

"So this is really what you want, then? If Hope weren't a factor, if we'd never made her, would you still pick me?"

Regina smiled, and slid closer to Emma on the couch, reaching out to cup her face in her hands, to look her in the eyes. "Yes, Emma. Yes. Hope's arrival may have given me the push I needed to see things more clearly, but I choose you. I've always chosen you. I chose you last Thanksgiving when I invited you in, and I've chosen you a million times before that. I just… didn't always know I was making a choice."

Emma's heart raced as she held her eye contact with Regina. One thing she could always count on, no matter what, was that she always knew when Regina was telling the truth.

"So it's up to you, Emma," Regina continued, when Emma didn't speak up right away. "Are you all in?"

Without a word, Emma closed the remaining space between them, Regina's hands sliding from her cheeks to her hair as she moved, and she pressed her lips against Regina's in a forceful, urgent kiss. It held months and months worth of pent up emotion and need, and before Regina could really even react, Emma was pushing her back onto her back, and crawling over her, deepening the kiss further as she ran her tongue over Regina's lips.

And there, with her tongue in Regina's mouth, and Regina's hands gripping her head, holding her in place, their bodies pressed together, Emma felt whole for the first time in a long time, and it was exhilarating.

Still, Emma had just one more question, and she broke away from Regina's lips to ask, "do you want to go upstairs?"

Regina's throaty "yes" was filled with so much need, but also hope and confirmation and a promise of better things to come, this time around.

Before either of them knew it, they were making the same journey they'd made months ago, up a different set of stairs, but it felt like the first time all over again. The half cleaned up living room was long forgotten as articles of clothing began falling on Emma's bedroom floor.

And this time, it was different. Neither of them were looking for an escape. This time they were slower, and curious, and present.

Emma could feel herself vibrating with arousal and magic, and for a brief moment, she worried about another magical impregnation, but in the next moment, she didn't care. She'd waited so long for this moment, and logical thought had all but escaped her. All she cared about right now was Regina. Regina body under hers. Regina's pupils blown as she stared back at her own eyes. Regina's skin, hot and sweaty, but still soft and velvet to the touch. Regina responding to her every movement, her eyes rolling back and her back arching as Emma's fingers brought her to orgasm, and Emma could swear she almost felt it, too.

For a brief while, all was forgotten. All hurt feelings and sleepless nights and responsibilities left Emma's mind as Regina rolled her over, positioning herself on top of her, kissing her lips, then her jaw, then her neck. Emma breathed in deep as Regina moved lower and lower, kissing her collarbone, her chest, her stomach. Emma's eyes fluttered closed and she let herself get lost in the feeling, her magic humming just below the surface of her skin, heightening every sensation. She could feel Regina's magic too - she could recognize it now - palpable in the room, mixing with her own.

When Emma came, her release came with great relief, feeling as though the last barrier between herself and Regina finally slipped away, leaving nothing holding them apart. It felt like a do over; a chance to start again from the beginning, and not make the same mistakes again. Emma knew that second chances were few and far between, and it wasn't something she intended to take lightly.

Her hand fell lightly on the back of Regina's head, weaving through damp, dark hair as Regina crawled back up her body, kissing her collarbone again, her neck, her jaw, and finally landing on her lips. Emma kissed her back, somewhat lazily, as her eyelids started to grow heavy. Her magic was ebbing now, and she could feel the exhaustion of a hectic, emotional day, combined with an unintentional expenditure of magic, start to overtake her.

For her part, Regina seemed to notice, as she kissed her cheek, then her forehead, and climbed off of her, pulling the blankets up over both of them as she lay down next to Emma, her head resting lightly against Emma's shoulder, as if there was no question that this was where she would sleep tonight.

In Emma's mind, there really was no question.


"It didn't happen this time," Emma said suddenly, rolling over and casting a confused glance at Regina. She wasn't sure how long they'd been lying there in the dark, the room only dimly illuminated by the moonlight coming in through the window.

"I thought you were asleep," Regina replied, stifling a yawn. "What didn't happen?"

"You know… that, uh, that flash of magic, like last time. For a second, I thought it might happen again."

Regina raised an eyebrow. "The magic that impregnated you? Wait, did you want that to happen again?"

"No!" Emma said, quickly. "No, no. One infant is enough for now. But… it's weird, isn't it? I mean, is it just random?"

"I don't really know how it works, honestly, Emma. I suppose it's something we need to look into though, in case we need, well, some sort of magical contraception."

"Yeah," Emma agreed, sighing, as she snuggled herself closer to Regina, draping an arm over her abdomen and letting her head settle in against Regina's bare chest.

As soon as they were settled again, Hope chose that very moment to start wailing from her crib, startling them both.

"Oh right," Emma groaned, rolling back over. "We're parents."

Regina chuckled as she pushed the blanket off of herself. "I'm on it. You sleep."

Emma nodded, already starting to drift off as Regina got up from the bed and magicked her housecoat on to herself, and headed toward the door.

"Hey," Emma called, sleepily, before Regina could get into the hallway. "Come back when you're done. Sleep here with me tonight… if you want to."

Regina smiled. "I will," she agreed, before padding out into the hallway on bare feet, heading to the nursery. Hope was red-faced by the time Regina scooped her up from the crib, but she stopped screaming the moment she was in Regina's arms, and stared up at her with wide eyes, taking a few gasping breaths as she seemingly decided whether to keep crying or relax now that someone was surely going to feed her.

"Oh yes, baby girl, it's alright," Regina cooed as she headed back out into the hall, on her way to the stairs to get a bottle, "Mommy's got you. Mommy's right here."

Regina paused at the top of the stairs for a moment, her smile widening as she looked down at Hope. "Mommy's here. And I'm never leaving, ever, ever again."

Chapter Text

Emma had already been waiting in front of the locked door of Archie's office for twenty minutes before he even showed up to start work the following morning. She knew he didn't book patients early on Mondays, so the look of confusion on his face as he approached wasn't surprising.

"Emma, you don't have an appointment today."

"I know," Emma said, smiling apologetically as she bent to pick up Hope in her car seat as Archie unlocked the door. "But it's kind of urgent? I was hoping maybe you could squeeze me in this morning? I'll pay you double."

"No, no, that's not necessary," Archie insisted, motioning for Emma to follow him inside his office. "Have a seat."

Emma set Hope's car seat down on the coffee table, and after checking to make sure she was still sound asleep, she took a seat on the edge of the couch, fidgeting nervously with the cuff of one of her jacket sleeves.

"Emma," Archie prompted, gently, as Emma chewed on her bottom lip.

"Yeah?"

"You wanted to talk to me," Archie reminded her.

Emma nodded quickly. "Yeah. Sorry. I do. My head's just… I just… I..."

"Okay, take a breath. Just start at the beginning, and tell me what's going on."

"Um, everything? A lot?" Emma sighed, leaning back a little in her seat and trying to relax. "Something happened yesterday. Last night. Between me and Regina."

"Did you fight?"

"No." Emma shook her head. "No… the opposite, actually. We, um… we slept together."

"Okay. Is this something that you wanted to happen?"

"Yes. I mean, I think so. Yes I did, but… it all happened so fast. We were talking and then Regina said some things and then I was kissing her… was that a bad idea?"

"How about we start with what you and Regina were talking about. What were the things that she said?"

"Well, she said that maybe we could find happiness? Together. And that she was all in. And that I wasn't her second choice."

"And you believe she meant those things?"

Emma shrugged, then nodded. "I can tell when she's lying. She wasn't."

"And then you kissed her?"

Emma nodded again. "Yeah. And then… well, you don't need the details, I guess. But we slept together."

"And now you're having regrets?"

"No! No, I don't regret it. I'm just… scared? Maybe?"

"What are you afraid of?"

Emma glanced down at Hope again, trying to collect her thoughts. "I don't know. Everything, I guess. It's like… we screwed up so bad the first time. Both of us did, it wasn't just Regina. Now, it feels like a second chance but… I'm still me and she's still her and what if it all just blows up in our faces again?"

"Well, that's always a possibility, with any relationship. But if this is what you want, and it's what she wants, and you are honest with each other and keep the lines of communication open, it doesn't have to end badly. It's going to take a conscious effort from both of you."

Emma nodded, feeling at least some of the tension leave her body. "I didn't feel any different this morning."

"What do you mean?"

"Well… last night, I felt good. And happy and safe. But then morning came, and all the shit's still there. I still feel anxious. And tired. And Regina left to go talk to Robin about Zelena and Ryleigh and I know - logically, I know - I don't have anything to worry about, but I still had another panic attack after she left."

"Recovery is a process Emma, we've been over that. You're still recovering."

"Yeah, but Regina and I-"

"Emma. Let me stop you right there, because I think I know where you're headed. Regina said some things that you've wanted to hear for a very long time, and while that can be healing, it's not going to just erase everything you've been through. Healing is a journey, but it's your journey. Getting into a relationship with Regina isn't a way to bypass the process. It's not going to magically make everything better, and that's far too much pressure to put on any relationship, especially a new one."

"So what do I do then?"

"Exactly what you are doing. You can pursue this relationship with Regina, and you should, if that's what you want to do. And you continue your therapy. You keep your communication open and honest, with me and with Regina, and in time, you'll get better. You already are doing much better than you were when you first started seeing me, you know that."

Emma nodded. "Okay. Yeah, I can do that. I just… I don't know, I just want to be done with all of this."

"I know. And you will be, in time. But just remember, you're not going to get better because of Regina. Trauma isn't healed that way. Your support system is important, though, and I do think this is a good thing. Emma, I'm happy for you. For both of you."

"Thanks, Archie."


"Regina?" Emma called out as she stepped into her house. Regina's car was outside, so she knew she was home, though it was surprising considering she hadn't been gone long at all. Emma wasn't sure if that was a good or bad sign. "Regina, where are-"

Emma stopped mid-sentence as she spotted Regina in the living room - sitting on the living room floor, to be exact - and she wasn't alone.

"Uh…" Emma said, as she set the car seat where Hope still slept soundly down on the coffee table.

"Hey," Regina replied, glancing almost apologetically toward their apparent guest. For her part, Ryleigh seemed completely oblivious to Emma's arrival, as she happily played with some plastic blocks on the floor. Those didn't belong to Hope, and Emma could only guess Regina had brought them with her, along with Ryleigh's diaper bag which sat on the couch.

"What's going on?" Emma asked, opting to join Regina on the floor, sitting down cross legged. "Robin let you take Ryleigh? Are you taking her to see Zelena?"

"No," Regina said, biting her bottom lip nervously. "Well, maybe. I'm not sure yet. But that's not why she's here."

"Okay, so?"

Regina sighed. "Don't be mad, alright?"

"Okay… Regina, you didn't kidnap her did you?" Emma attempted to lighten the mood, but Regina didn't crack a smile.

"No, um… I went to talk to Robin today, as you know," Regina started, looking sadly down at Ryleigh, who seemed utterly uninterested in what she was saying. "And he was getting ready to leave. He and the Merry Men have decided to go back to the Enchanted Forest. Gold has a way to open a portal and… he says there's nothing here for him, or any of them, so they're going back."

Emma nodded, realization sinking in. "So, what does that mean for Zelena getting to meet her daughter? When do they leave?"

Regina glanced up at the clock on the wall. "Um, now?"

"Now? Like, right now? What about Ryleigh?"

Regina nodded. "They um… Robin doesn't want to take her."

"What?"

Regina shook her head, swallowing. "If I hadn't have gone over there today, he was going to take her to the fairies. He wasn't even planning on telling me himself."

"Regina… what? He was just going to abandon her?"

"I talked him into letting me take her. I know I should have talked to you first, but it happened so fast and I couldn't just let him drop her off with strangers. I figured we could figure out what to do together?" Regina asked, hopefully.

"Yeah, yeah, of course. I just… wow. I mean, obviously I'm not one of Robin's biggest fans, but I never thought he'd just up and leave one of his children."

"He says he doesn't feel connected to her. He never bonded with her. I guess it's another thing I was completely oblivious to. I mean, I practically raised her from birth, and in the last couple weeks, since I haven't been around, he's been leaving her with men from the camp to watch her nearly every day. He thinks it will be hard for her to adjust to life in the Enchanted Forest, and maybe he's right. And it bothers him that she looks so much like Zelena."

Emma nodded, and looked down at Ryleigh. She really did look just like a tiny version of her mother, with her soft red curls and bright blue eyes.

"I know you said no more babies, but-"

"Regina," Emma cut her off, her eyes snapping back up to Regina's face. "You did the right thing by taking her. I got dropped off with strangers over and over again my entire life. It's never not traumatic. She deserves to be with someone she knows and loves."

"Thank you, Emma, for understanding. I'm hoping… well, I'm hoping this will only be temporary."

"You want to give her to Zelena?"

"Well, not right away. Zelena's a stranger to her, too. And, she seems sincere, but I want to be sure before I just hand Ryleigh over. Is that unfair of me?"

"It's not a simple situation. There isn't a yes or no answer to that question."

"I know. I'm not exactly sure what to do next, to be completely honest. I haven't gotten in touch with Zelena yet."

"Why don't you invite her over here?"

"Really?"

"Yeah, I mean… then we're both here to keep an eye on her, and you don't have to go spend time with her alone."

"Thank you, Emma," Regina said, reaching out to take Emma's hand and give it a little squeeze. "Where did you go today, by the way? I thought you said you were staying home?"

"Oh, um… something came up."

Regina raised an eyebrow, but simply nodded.

Emma sighed. "Actually, I went to see Archie."

"You didn't have an appointment today."

"No. I had a rough morning, though. I got a little anxious after you left. Actually, a lot anxious. I had a panic attack."

"Oh, Emma, you should have called me. I would have come back," Regina insisted, squeezing Emma's hand a little tighter.

"It's okay. It wasn't a big one, but I was a little freaked. So I went to see Archie. And… I told him about last night."

"Oh. You're not having regrets, are you?"

"No!" Emma insisted. "No, I'm not. Are you?"

"No, Emma."

"Okay. Well, we have Archie's blessing, in case you were wondering."

"Good to know."

Emma glanced down as she felt a small tower of plastic blocks fall against her leg, and met Ryleigh's wide and curious eyes. "Funny how things change, isn't it?" Emma said, shaking her head in disbelief as she looked back up at Regina. "We go from being at each other's throats to Emma and Regina against the world so quickly."

"Well, I for one like this version of us better."

"Yeah, me too," Emma agreed, as she turned her eyes toward Hope in her car seat as the baby started to whimper. It was only a matter of seconds before she'd be wailing and ready to eat. "Even if it comes with an apparently rapidly expanding brood of children."

"I'm going to go give Zelena a call and set something up," Regina said once Emma got herself situated to feed Hope. "Do you want me to take Ryleigh with me?"

"She's fine. I don't imagine you'll be long anyway."

"I won't."

Emma watched her get up and leave the room, and turned her attention back to Ryleigh, who had given up on stacking blocks and was now just banging two together in her little hands. "You're alright kid," Emma said, after a few moments of watching her. "And I guess you're kind of like family. Sorry I wasn't, like, super cool to you before."

Ryleigh glanced up from her blocks for a split second, before looking away again.

Emma smiled. "Well, you won't remember any of that anyway. But listen, kid, it looks like we're going to have to be part of each other's lives now, so we can try to get along, right?"

Ryleigh glanced up again, and held Emma gaze for a second or two, before tossing on of the blocks at her feet and picking up a new one.

"Great. Okay. Glad we had this talk."

"How's this afternoon?" Regina asked, as she walked back into the room.

"This afternoon? Today?"

"Yes. Zelena doesn't want to wait any longer, and I can't really blame her. If it's going to happen anyway, we might as well do it now, right?"

Emma nodded. "Yeah. I wouldn't want to wait either."

"I told her she could come after Ryleigh's eaten lunch."

"Regina, it's going to be okay."

Regina nodded. "I know. I'm just worried."

"It will be fine. We've got this. We can handle it. We're a team."

Regina smiled. "You're right. We can handle this. Thank you, Emma."

Emma smiled as she cradled Hope closer to her chest while she nursed. She really did have to marvel at how quickly things could change. Adding Ryleigh into the mix may not have been expected, but as she watched Regina help her stack up the blocks again, for once Emma realized she didn't feel the slightest twinge of jealousy. She knew Archie would tell her that was progress, but she didn't want to think about Archie and therapy right now.

Right now, she was just content to enjoy the moment.


To be continued

A/N: I know you guys want me to update faster (some have been more vocal than others) but please try to understand I am writing as fast as I can. I really do put everything into this (and all my stories) and they take time to create. I appreciate your patience so, so much! Thank you all for reading and sticking with me!

Chapter Text

A/N: I just want to make it clear, in light of JMo's announcement, that I am not leaving the Swan Queen fandom, and I will not stop writing. This ship does not depend on Emma's presence on the show, and no matter how they choose to write her out, there are still millions of Swan Queen stories yet to be told. This fandom is bigger than the show or its writers or its actors, and I am not abandoning ship! I love them, and all of you, too much for that!

Viva La Swan Queen!


Also, story-related A/N: For everyone who's been asking about Mal, don't worry! Her story isn't over yet! I know she kind of moved to the back burner for a little while, but she will be back in the action soon, I promise. After all, she's spent so much time helping Emma and Regina figure out what they want, it's about damn time someone asked her what she wants!

Originally, Lily was supposed to be in this chapter, and Mal would be back in Chapter 32, but I've pushed Lily's part into the next chapter, because this one was getting long and I didn't want to make you wait too much longer for an update!


Chapter Thirty One


Regina waited nervously in the living room for Zelena to arrive. Hope was down for her afternoon nap and Emma had opted to take a nap as well, and that left Regina, impatient and apprehensive, wondering if this was the right thing to do.

The chance to back out was missed, however, with a knock on the front door, and Regina knew it was time. She glanced at Ryleigh, who was happily playing with her little toy xylophone in her playpen, completely oblivious to the fact that they had a visitor, and heading toward the door.

For her part, Zelena looked both anxious and hopeful when Regina opened the door, her eyes a little brighter than the last time Regina had seen her.

"Hi," Zelena said, her voice betraying her nerves in an instant.

Regina wasn't sure what she'd expected, but the lack of snark from her sister was slightly jarring. She tried to remind herself that it was a good thing, as she nodded her greeting and stepped back from the doorway. "You can come in. I had Mal take the protection spell off the house yesterday."

"Thank you." Zelena nodded as she stepped slowly over the threshold, slightly hesitant, and Regina had to wonder if she thought it was a lie, or that perhaps it was all a trap. She offered an awkward smile, in disbelief herself that this was really happening right now, after all that they'd been through.

Zelena's eyes scanned the entryway of Emma's house. "Emma's not here?"

"She's sleeping," Regina replied, motioning for Zelena to follow her into the livingroom. "She naps when our daughter naps."

"Oh."

Regina wasn't sure if there was more that Zelena wanted to ask about her relationship with Emma, or the fact that they had a child together, but she wasn't about to offer any information up. Now was certainly not the time.

"Ryleigh, baby, there's someone here to meet you," Regina cooed as she stepped up to the playpen, reaching down to pick Ryleigh up. She took a steadying breath, and turned to face her sister. "Zelena, this is you daughter."

Any doubts Regina had been holding melted away as she watched the change in her sister's face. Her icy blue eyes welled up with tears despite the smile forming on her lips, as she reached out to take Ryleigh from Regina's arms.

"Oh!" Zelena said, sounding almost surprised as she took Ryleigh into her arms. "There you are! I've missed you so much, my darling."

Regina watched as Zelena hugged Ryleigh close, and kissed her hair, thankful that her niece hadn't chosen this moment to make strange, as she sometimes did. She wasn't sure her sister would be able to take it.

"Look at you," Zelena marvelled, as she took in her daughter's appearance. "You're so big already, and, oh! Smiling!"

"She smiles a lot," Regina offered, tentatively. "And giggles. She's a happy little girl."

Zelena nodded, blinking back tears as a smile spread across her face. "You're my happy little girl. Did you know that? I'm your Mommy. I know I've been gone a very long time, but I'm home now."

Regina cocked her head to the side, surprised at Zelena's use of the word 'home'. It had never occurred to her that she'd ever come to think of Storybrooke that way, but then, she supposed, Zelena had never had a home, really. And, since relinquishing control of Oz to Dorothy, Regina guessed that Zelena didn't really have a home outside of Storybrooke anymore at all, in any sense of the word.

"Ryleigh… am I saying that right? Ryleigh?" Zelena asked, her eyes wide with concern as she stroked Ryleigh's cheek and looked at her face, as though she were trying to learn and memorize every feature on the spot.

Regina couldn't help but be reminded of herself when she first adopted Henry, so unsure of everything and so afraid to make even the tiniest of mistakes. She forced a smile that she hoped was reassuring. "Yes, you're saying it exactly right."

"Ryleigh," Zelena repeated, a hint of distaste in her voice this time, and Regina quickly realized maybe it had nothing to do with worrying about mispronouncing her name at all.

"You don't like the name?" she asked, trying not to sound too accusatory.

Zelena sighed as she ran her fingers through Ryleigh's strawberry blonde hair again. "It's very… modern. Nothing I would have chosen, given the chance. But... it's her name and I suppose I will get used to it, once I get to know her. Perhaps it suits her more than I realize. Does she have a middle name?"

Regina cringed before answering. "It's… Marian."

"Marian?" Zelena practically spat back, before looking back at Ryleigh's big blue eyes with disbelief. "You can't be serious."

"I know. I was against it too, but I didn't really have a say, you know. She's not my daughter."

"Robin remembers that I killed Marian, right? How utterly distasteful to name my child after her," Zelena scoffed, stroking one hand over Ryleigh's head, as if to console her from the horror of this travesty.

"Well, in all fairness, he wasn't really considering you when naming her. He did once believe that he would be having her with Marian, not you."

"He didn't even love her. Trust me. I was there."

"I know. You don't need to remind me."

Zelena narrowed her eyes for a moment, but seemingly thought better of picking a fight with Regina right now. "In any event, I'll not have my daughter brandishing the name of one of my victims."

"I don't think anyone's going to stop you from changing her middle name. She knows her first name, though, so it's not really fair to change that, too. And, if it makes a difference, I suggested Ryleigh to Robin."

Zelena rolled her eyes. "I suppose that makes it marginally better. However, I think you're wrong: Robin will certainly attempt to stop me from changing her middle name. I'm honestly baffled that he even let me see her, let alone without his leering presence in the room."

"Actually, no, he won't," Regina said, shifting her weight nervously from one foot to the other, knowing the truth was about to come out.

Zelena raised an eyebrow. "And why's that? Had a sudden change of heart, has he?"

"In a manner of speaking, I suppose. Though not the kind you're thinking."

"What on earth are you talking about, Regina?"

Regina sighed. "Well, I suppose you'll find out eventually, anyway. Robin didn't decide to let you meet Ryleigh. He left her."

"What?" Zelena asked, her eyes wide in shock.

Regina nodded. "He and the Merry Men went back to the Enchanted Forest. He took Roland and left Ryleigh with me. It was a one-way trip, Zelena. He gave her up."

"He gave her up," Zelena repeated in a whisper, as she hugged Ryleigh close to her again. "After everything, after you two stole her from me and banished me to Oz, he just… gave her up?"

"I… yes, he did. I'm so sorry, Zelena. And I hope you know I only did what I did to protect Robin and Ryleigh."

Zelena let out a sharp laugh. "You and I both know you did what you did to punish me. You took a child from her mother because I took your boyfriend. And then what? You up and left him for Emma anyway? I had to suffer, and you didn't even want him anyway."

"You did much worse than just take my boyfriend, and you know that."

"Well, you've done much worse yourself, haven't you? And yet, here you are, happily at home with your family, you son and your baby and your… your Emma. Why is it that, no matter what you do, you always seem to come out on top?"

"I've worked hard to make amends to the people I've hurt, and I'm still working toward that, Zelena. And… I hope that you wish to do the same."

Zelena sighed and looked back down at Ryleigh again. "If you're asking whether I'm planning on changing… all I care about now is my daughter. Revenge, wickedness… none of that matters anymore. I've missed so much already."

"I know."

Zelena raised her eyes to meet Regina's again, the anger quickly dissipating. "Seven months," she said, hugging Ryleigh closer as the little one laid her head on her shoulder, her eyelids slowly closing. "I don't know anything about her. Does she walk? Talk? I don't know what she likes…"

"She crawls. She hasn't taken her first steps or said her first word yet. She's a happy girl, like I said. She loves to play, and cuddle. She laughs and smiles all the time."

At that, Zelena smiled again. "Happiness is all I want for her. And that's what I plan to give her. Are all her things here, then?"

"The essentials. Most of her things are still at my house. Why?"

"Well, I'll need them at my cottage. I suppose I can just poof them all there."

"Oh," Regina replied, a pained look coming across her face as she realized Zelena expected to take Ryleigh with her today.

"Oh?" Zelena repeated. "Oh… you're not planning on letting me have her, are you?"

"I'm not sure it's the best thing for her, right now."

"You're not her mother, Regina. I am."

"I understand that, but Zelena… she doesn't know you. Let's just… take some time, alright? Let her get used to you. I brought her here because I didn't want Robin leaving her with strangers. It's not fair to her."

"She seems perfectly content with me," Zelena pointed out, motioning with one hand to how Ryleigh was now completely asleep against her.

"And I'm glad she does. Zelena, I would love nothing more than for this to all work out, and for you to have her full time. She should be with her mother. I just… I need to know it's the best thing for her."

Zelena drew in a breath, ready to counter, but then she pause. Her face softened as she spoke again. "You love her."

"Of course I do."

"And you want what's best for her. I don't really know how to be a mother, Regina. I don't know how to put someone else before me."

Regina smiled, reaching out to place a hand on her sister's arm. It was such a small gesture, and yet Regina couldn't help but feel like it was a major milestone. "I know. Trust me, I've been exactly where you are. But, I'm willing to try and make this work, if you are."

Zelena sighed, and nodded. "Seven months is a long time to be alone," she acknowledged. "I know I was alone before, but I had a purpose then. Or, something to work toward, at least."

Regina smirked. "Right. Revenge on me."

"Right," Zelena agreed. "I don't want that anymore. I just want to be a mother to my child. I'll do whatever it takes."

"I'm glad to hear that, Zelena. I really, truly am," Regina said, with a smile.


"How ambitious do you feel tonight, Emma?" Regina asked after dinner, as she hoisted Ryleigh from her high chair and tucked her securely onto her hip. Zelena had gone home, not long after Ryleigh had fallen asleep, but not without Regina's promise that she could see her again soon, and call whenever she wanted.

But, that was a matter for another time. Right now, she and Emma had something pressing to attend to.

"Uh… depends. What do you have in mind?" Emma asked, tentatively.

"Well, both of these girls need baths. I'm thinking, two babies, two adults, one tub, half the time. And Henry can clean up from dinner."

Emma smiled, purposely ignoring Henry's groan. "Well, one of them isn't even mobile. How hard can it be?"

"Famous last words."

Emma smiled and shook her head, standing to get Hope from the bassinette before following Regina up the stairs to the bathroom. How hard could this really be?


"So how do we do this?" Emma asked, once Regina had the tub filled with a few inches of warm water and several floating bath toys. Hope didn't generally have toys in the bath, and she seemed oblivious to their presence now, though Ryleigh already seemed eager to get at them.

"Well, Ryleigh can sit on her own, so if you bathe Hope at your end, I'll bathe Ryleigh and try to keep the water in the tub."

Emma smirked, not realizing just how serious Regina was until she was kneeling at the side of the tub, holding onto Hope as she placed her gently in the water. Hope was in the tub no longer than three seconds before Emma felt water splatter on her arm and the back of her head.

"Hey!" she gasped, and turned to see Ryleigh sitting at the other end of the tub, grinning from ear to ear, a plastic duck in one hand and a plastic boat in the other, while Regina scooped up water to wet her hair.

"Ryleigh, no splashing," Regina reminded her gently, but Ryleigh just giggled as her toy-laden hands hit the water again.

This time, Emma had to laugh too, as water landed on Regina's shirt and in her hair.

"Don't encourage her Emma. We're trying to learn 'no splashing'."

"Right," Emma agreed, trying to hide her smile as she turned her attention back to Hope - who didn't seem to mind the ruckus as she stared up at her with wide eyes - and began washing her dark hair gently with a soft cloth. She was growing so quickly already, but Emma couldn't help but grin as she imagined what it would be like a few months from now when she was as mobile and active as Ryleigh.

"Oh, God, what if we still have two of them?" Emma wondered aloud, not really meaning to.

"What?"

"When Hope is older and she starts splashing, what if we still have two of them?"

Regina shook her head as she worked baby shampoo into Ryleigh's hair. For her part, Ryleigh had tossed away the duck, but had managed to distract herself with a floating shark toy, at least for the time being.

"Well, if things continue the way they did today, I'd hope Ryleigh will be with Zelena by the time Hope is her age. But I think it would be nice if they stayed close, don't you?"

"Yeah," Emma agreed. "I didn't have cousins. I guess me, you, Zelena… none of us really had much in the way of family growing up. At least our kids will."

Regina nodded as she rinsed the shampoo from Ryleigh's hair. "I think Zelena's just as lost as I was, once. But I saw something different in her today. She wants to change. She wants to do better and, in spite of everything, I believe in her."

"We all get lost sometimes, Regina. I've seen the same thing in you. I've seen a woman who wants to change, and do better. I've believed in you, in spite of everything."

"And I've let you down."

"No," Emma said, as she lifted Hope from the tub and began wrapping her in a towel. She didn't take long to bathe at this size, and Emma liked to get her out of the water before her fingers started to prune. "Never when it comes to Henry. Never when it comes to Hope. If there's one thing I know I can count on til the day I die, it will be that you would move Heaven and earth to protect our kids, and you will always do better for them."

Regina nodded as she watched Emma snuggling Hope close to her chest, oblivious to the bath water that splashed against her arm, once again. "I always will, but not just for them."

Regina didn't get a chance to finish her thought as another giant splash of water hit her cheek and neck, and she turned back and shook her head at Ryleigh, who was giggling uncontrollably now.

"Listen, you. I've already showered today, thank you very much." Regina shook her head as she pulled the plug to let the water start draining out, and turned back to Emma. "I guess that didn't go terribly. But now we're going to have to figure out sleeping arrangements for the girls tonight. Ryleigh's playpen is fine for naps, but she can't sleep there all night."

"You're still staying here?" Emma asked, with mild surprise.

"Oh! I just assumed… no, you're right. I can go back to my place with Ryleigh tonight."

"Regina," Emma started, the disappointment in Regina's voice not at all lost on her, "I'm not kicking you out. I just assumed you'd want to go home now that Robin's gone. But you're more than welcome to stay here. Ryleigh can sleep in Hope's crib tonight. Hope prefers her bassinette anyway."

"I don't want to overstay my welcome. Especially not after thrusting another baby into the mix."

"You're not," Emma insisted, as she handed Regina a towel to dry Ryleigh with. "You should stay. I want you to stay."

Regina smiled. "Okay."

"Lily wants to stop by later," Emma mentioned, as Regina got to work drying Ryleigh off. "That doesn't bother you, does it? Because I can go there instead."

"It's your house, Emma. I don't decide who you invite over."

"Right, but-"

"Emma. You've been incredibly gracious, letting me stay here. And letting Ryleigh stay here and Zelena come over. But I'm not going to take over your entire life. Lily's your friend and you should see her. I can find something to do to stay out of your hair."

"Okay. She says she has some big news to tell me. I'm kind of dying to know what it is. Hope looks like she's about to pass out, so I'll get her ready for bed and put her down, and then text Lily. Then you've only got one baby to worry about."

Regina glanced back at Ryleigh. "Right, the one who looks like she won't be tired for hours."

Emma looked at Ryleigh thoughtfully for a moment, then turned back to Regina. "Maybe I'll put the bassinette in my room, so that Hope doesn't wake Ryleigh up in the night when she gets up to eat."

Regina nodded. "That's a good idea."

"Mm-hmm. And maybe you should just sleep in my bed again tonight, too," Emma continued. "You know, to be close to the baby, and all."

Regina smirked. "Well, how could I say no to that?"

"You can't," Emma said, standing. "So I'll see you there."

"It's a date," Regina agreed, as Emma headed out into the hall, and toward Hope's nursery. She sighed as she hugged Ryleigh close to her in her fuzzy towel, thinking about what a whirlwind of a day it had been.

It was funny, though, how it seemed less chaotic with Emma on her side. Everything always seemed easier when they faced it together. It always had, and it amazed Regina that she hadn't figured that out sooner.

She hoped, at least, it was better late than never.


A/N: And hey! Guess what, friends? I start a new shift at work next week (no more overnights!) which means I'll have more free time, and hopefully be less exhausted all the time, which means more time for writing! Yay!

This story is going to have at least 7, probably 8 more chapters, and I'm going to try to get them out as quickly as possible now. (Especially since Chapter 32 is partially written already!)

Until next time!

Chapter Text

"Well, I see you've still got your squatter," said Lily, nodding toward where Regina's purse sat on the end table beside the couch. "Where is she?"

Emma rolled her eyes. "Lily, don't be an ass, you just got here. And she's taking a bath."

"Right. Sorry. I'm being nice, I forgot. A bath, huh? That's pretty, uh… nevermind. How much longer is she staying?"

Emma shrugged. "We haven't really talked about it."

"Oh," Lily replied, nodding as she took a seat on the couch, Emma following suit. "She's been here for a while."

"Yeah, well, we have a baby, you know."

Lily smirked. "Uh huh, so why are you blushing then?"

"I'm not!" Emma insisted, though she could feel her cheeks heating up at Lily's comment. Why was she blushing? It wasn't like they didn't have a baby. Then again, Emma knew she was more than capable of being alone now, and she had to admit to herself, her desire for Regina to stay had little to do with having help for late night feedings at this point.

"So, are you two like, a thing now?"

"What? What would make you even think…" Emma let her voice trail off as Lily's smirk turned into an actual smile. What was the point in keeping it a secret, really?

"Come on, you can tell me," Lily insisted.

"Fine. We are… unofficially," Emma admitted.

"Unofficially?"

"We… uh, we haven't really talked about that either. Things have… changed, between us, I guess you could say."

"Hmm. Well, I guess it was inevitable," Lily remarked, with a shrug.

"And why's that?"

"Well, since Robin dumped her, she's gotta be on the rebound now, right?"

Emma shook her head in confusion. "Robin didn't dump her. Regina broke up with him. Where did you even hear that?"

Lily shrugged again. "He told me."

"Why on earth would you ever talk to Robin?" Emma asked, narrowing her eyes. "Oh wait.. Oh God… that's not the news you came here to tell me, is it?"

"What?" Lily laughed, shaking her head. "God, no. I've got some standards you know, Swan. But I talked to him at the station."

"At the station. What, did you get arrested?"

Lily shook her head. "Your dad didn't tell you?"

"Tell me what?"

"Well, in light of your current absenteeism and Robin's soon-to-be AWOL-ness, the Storybrooke police force is a little short-handed. Your dad offered me a job."

"You're going to be a cop?"

"Hey, whatever, you're a cop."

"I'm a Sheriff," Emma corrected her. "Show some respect to your superior officer, deputy."

"Whatever," Lily laughed. "Sheriff of a fake town. My mom's been helping me gain control of my magic and your dad thought I might be of use around the station, so he's not calling on your and Regina whenever things go awry. I think he thinks the baby made you soft, Swan."

"Yeah, right. But, congratulations, Lily. Seriously, I mean it. I'm proud of you."

"Hey, that's not even my good news!" Lily insisted, a wide smile crossing her lips. "I bought a house!"

"What?"

"Yeah, did you know there's like a bunch of empty houses in this town? People who were separated during the curse found each other and moved in together and whatnot. And since there's, you know, like zero real estate market in Storybrooke, it was cheap."

"Shit, Lily, I never thought I'd see the day."

"I know, right? I'm putting down roots, just like you said. My mom's here, my sister and her family, and now a job and a house. I've never had so much permanence in my life."

"It feels good, doesn't it?"

"Surprisingly, yes," Lily agreed. "And I'm going to be having a housewarming party next weekend, by the way. You're invited. And I suppose you can bring Regina as your plus one, if you want."

"Oh, how gracious of you," Emma laughed, rolling her eyes. "Next weekend? That's fast."

Lily shrugged. "The house has been empty since the curse broke. Nothing's stopping me from moving in right away. And my mom's going to stay with me for a bit, too. I offered to build a Granny Flat for her outside, but she said she's not a granny and she'll not be living in a shed, so that's a no."

"What is she going to do now?" Emma asked, as it suddenly occurred to her that in all the time Mal had been helping her and Regina get their lives together, she'd never stopped to wonder what Mal wanted from this new life in Storybrooke. "I mean, I know she has you and she loves getting a chance to be your mother, but you're an adult with a life of your own and she's kind of on her own."

Lily nodded. "Yeah, I know. She keeps telling me not to worry about her. She said she survived centuries alone, not to mention twenty eight years locked in a cave under the library. She says she'll be fine, but she's got to want more, right?"

"Yeah, that's what I was- oh!" Emma stopped as she heard the distinct sound of crying coming from upstairs, and she paused for a moment to listen to which baby it was coming from.

"That doesn't sound like Hope," Lily remarked.

"It's not. It's Ryleigh. Regina said once she's down she'll sleep seven or eight hours, but her routine is all off and she's not used to this house," Emma reasoned, already starting to stand.

"Ryleigh's here?"

"Oh, yeah, I guess I forgot to mention that her father opted to abandon her. I always knew that guy was an ass."

"Shit," Lily said, shaking her head. "Won't Regina get her?"

Emma shrugged as she stood up. "She's in the bath. I can get to her quicker. I'll be right back."

By the time Emma got upstairs, Regina was already out of the tub, heading into the hallway with nothing but a towel on.

"Oh, Emma, I can get her," Regina insisted. "I really thought she'd be out all night."

Emma smiled, pausing for only a second to take in the sight of Regina, her skin still glistening with water from the bath, the ends of her hair wet. And her collarbones - Emma suddenly had a whole new appreciation for her collarbones.

But she shook her head, remembering that there was a screaming child in the other room, and if she didn't get her quieted down soon, they'd likely have two wailing babies on their hands in a matter of minutes.

"It's fine," Emma said, holding up her hand. "I got this. And you're wet and… well, mostly naked. Just finish your bath."

For her part, Regina blushed a little, and gave Emma a small smile before nodding. "Well, if she won't settle for you, I'll dry off and get dressed."

"Got it."

Emma headed down the hall to Hope's nursery where Ryleigh was clearly not sleeping in her crib. By the time she got in there, Ryleigh was sitting up, red faced with fat tears making their way down her cheeks. She held her arms up instantly to be picked up, but seemed to think better of it when she saw Emma approaching instead of Regina.

"Hey," Emma said, holding her hands out to Ryleigh. "It's okay. You know me."

Ryleigh stopped crying and stared, hesitating a moment. Emma was sure she was about to start screaming again, but instead she held up her arms to Emma.

"That's a girl," Emma said, scooping her up and hugging her against her chest. Ryleigh's head fell against her shoulder and Emma started rubbing her back over her soft fuzzy sleeper as she headed back into the hall. She was sure the little one would be asleep again in no time, but she took her back downstairs with her anyway, just in case.

"She okay?" Lily asked as Emma sat back down in the couch.

"Yeah." Emma ran her fingers through Ryleigh's soft hair. "I think she's probably just scared being in a strange room in a strange house. I've been there. It's never easy."

Lily nodded. "So, are you and Regina, like, adopting her now?"

Emma shook her head. "No. Zelena came over today to meet her, and eventually Ryleigh will go live with her. But we've got her in the meantime. It's not so bad, you know? Two babies… it's not as crazy as I thought it would be."

"You're not thinking about having another one, are you?"

Emma bit her lip, but couldn't help but smile. "Maybe? I don't know… Regina and I haven't talked about it, but it's a possibility, I guess. One I wouldn't necessarily be opposed to."

Lily rolled her eyes, but she still smiled a genuine smile. "You're nuts, Swan. But… if it makes you happy - if Regina makes you happy - then I say go for it. I haven't always been the best friend, even recently, but I support you. Even if you have to knock some sense into me from time to time."

"Thanks. I know you just want what's best for me. Even if you're an asshole about it sometimes."


Emma sat cuddling Ryleigh on the couch long after Lily had gone home. Regina came to join her once, she was out of the bath and Hope had woken up, ready to eat.

"It's nice to see you two bonding," Regina commented, nodding toward Ryleigh as she cuddled Hope close, bottle in her hand.

"The kid's alright, despite her parentage."

Regina raised an eyebrow. "Let's… not get into her parentage tonight, alright? I don't really want to talk - or think - about Robin right now."

"Fair enough." Emma went on to fill Regina in on Lily's news instead, and tell her about the party next weekend.

"A housewarming party," Regina repeated. "That will be nice."

"I was thinking maybe I could ask her if we could invite Zelena."

"Why on earth would we do that?"

Emma shrugged. "See how she behaves in a public setting? I mean, if she's going to live here and raise her daughter, she's going to have to learn to function in this town, which means meeting people, making friends, not trying to kill everyone. You know."

"Good point. Though I will be a little sad to see Ryleigh really go."

"You'll still see her," Emma reminded her.

"Yes, I know. But-"

"But it's kind of nice having two babies?"

"What? No, I was going to say I've barely been away from her since she was born. Wait… do you like having two babies?"

"I dunno… I mean, it's not that bad, is it?"

Regina let out a small laugh. "It's only been one day."

"Well, I don't mean we should have another kid right this second or anything."

"But you want to have another one?"

"I… yeah, I think I do. Don't you? Don't you want to go to ultrasounds, and pick out nursery themes, and feel the baby kick... all that kind of stuff?"

"Yes, but… I don't wouldn't Henry or Hope to think we want a do-over. Like we're striving for a pregnancy experience we haven't been able to have."

Emma nodded. "I'd be lying if I said that wasn't part of it. I want… I want to have a good experience with pregnancy, you know? And a good delivery experience. It won't make me love Henry or Hope any less but… I still want that. Before I found out I was pregnant with Hope, I didn't think I ever wanted to have another baby, but now… I don't think I'm done. I don't feel like we're done."

"Okay."

"Okay?"

Regina nodded. "Yes, okay. We'll have another baby."

"Wait… now?"

Regina laughed, shaking her head. "Well, not right now. But, yes, Emma… I'd like to have another baby with you."

Chapter Text

On the morning of Lily's housewarming party, Mal was busy making sure every detail was perfect. Thought at first she'd insisted that Lily's new house seemed warm enough, upon learning that what her daughter was actually after was a party, she'd thrown herself in head first. After all, she'd missed every milestone in Lily's life so far, she wasn't about to miss this one too.

"I almost regret teaching you how to use Pinterest," Lily commented as she entered the room, eyeing all of the handmade decorations and on-theme snack platters.

"Why? They are all perfectly immaculate and, oh, what was that phrase again? At point?"

"On point," Lily corrected.

"Right, yes. The centrepiece is truly on point. And besides, I have lots of free time on my hands in this realm, you know. It was nice to have something to do."

"Oh, mom-"

Maleficent put a hand up to stop her daughter. "No, this day is for you. No worrying about if I'll be lonely. I'll be fine. I'll be here with you, remember?"

"Right. Alright," Lily agreed, though she still eyed Mal with slight concern. "But will you be fine? Really? I mean, are you fine?"

"Lily!"

"No, Mom, don't just brush it off. I mean, Regina got a second chance to find love and have a family, don't you ever wish you could, too?"

Mal sighed. "Yes, of course I think about it. But I don't want to think about it right this moment, alright?"

"Fine. But we're coming back to this later. We've missed out on a lot of bonding, but I'll be damned if I watch my mother give up on her own happiness. Not after all the time and effort you've put into helping other people find theirs. It's not right."

"Okay. Later. For now, let's worry about the party, alright?"

For her part, Mal continued on, fidgeting with this or that, essentially filling time until the guests arrived. What Lily didn't seem to understand was that she'd been alive for centuries, and was in no real hurry to jump into anything at the moment. She'd learned long ago not to push things, and to let them fall into place on their own. Even if the arrival of Emma and Regina's little one had sparked some sort of yearning inside her, she was content enough to leave it alone for now.

And once the guests did arrive, there wasn't time to think on it anyway.

Mal grinned from ear to ear when Emma walked in, lugging the car seat with Hope nestled securely inside.

"Oh, honey, should you be carrying that?" Mal asked immediately, hurrying over to take the car seat from her hands.

"Yeah, it's fine. I'm doing a lot better, actually," Emma insisted. "And it's not that heavy."

"But she's getting so big!" Mal continued, setting the car seat down on the nearest table so she could get to work unstrapping Hope, who stared up at her with big, dark eyes. Emma was right: they did turn brown, just as she'd predicted they would. "Oh, look at you, precious one! You're growing so much!"

Mal glanced up again as Regina came in the door, followed by Zelena who held Ryleigh on her hip, her hand protectively over her daughter's head as though she thought someone might snatch her away at any moment. Mal had only seen Ryleigh a few times before, and she'd never formally met Zelena, but she had to marvel at the irony that it had only been weeks since she'd been casting magical protection spells to keep Zelena away.

"Mal," Regina said, once she was fully inside and the door was shut behind her, "this is my sister, Zelena."

Regina already sounded exasperated, and Mal could only guess that was the result of a morning likely spent bickering with her sister, but Mal smiled as she shifted Hope into one arm and held out her hand to shake Zelena's.

Zelena seemed to hesitate for a moment, but she finally removed her hand from Ryleigh's head and took Mal's. "Pleasure, I'm sure."

Mal studied her closely. She wasn't quite what she'd expected. She certainly had a snark to her tone of voice, but her eyes told a different story. Mal could see the pain there, and the loss and the loneliness. She could see the uncertainty with her surroundings and the desperation to be accepted, even if she wasn't about to admit it.

Though they looked nothing alike, Mal could see a younger, more desperate and lost Regina in Zelena's face.

Truthfully, she'd thought it was a bad idea when Regina had suggested that she and Emma would like to bring Zelena with them today. She'd expected disaster, but what she saw before her wasn't a woman hellbent on destroying everything around her - she certainly knew what that looked like - but a mother and a lost soul.

Mal held Hope close to her chest and watched as Regina started introducing Zelena to others in the room. Everyone was a little hesitant - some had had less than pleasant encounters with Zelena before, even if they'd never formally met her - and Regina herself seemed wary. But Mal knew Regina had been in that position before, too, just as she had herself. Changing was one thing, but getting others to accept that you've changed, that was something else entirely.

"Do you want me to take her?" Regina asked, after she'd made the rounds with Zelena and was back on the same side of the room as Mal again. Mal was sure Regina was looking for something to distract herself with so she didn't need to keep hovering over her sister, but she wasn't ready to give the baby back just yet.

"No, you get her all day. Let me spend some time with my goddaughter."

"Okay," Regina agreed, though she looked less than eager to leave Mal's side. Zelena had taken up a spot on the couch with her daugher, and Emma had gone off with Lily to get the grand tour, and Mal could tell Regina felt a little out of place with everyone else still left in the room.

"Snow and Charming can't make it," Mal commented. "Apparently Neal kept them up all night and they're both exhausted. I think they're still uncomfortable around me, even if David just gave Lily a job."

"Well, maybe it's for the best. I'm not sure Emma and I are ready to tell them yet."

"Tell them what?" Mal asked, turning to Regina with interest.

"That we… have decided to give being together a try."

Mal smiled and shook her head. "Idiots. It's about time."

"Well, you of all people know we've been through a lot in a relatively short time. Emma's been through hell."

"Mmhmm. She seems much better now. You both do."

Regina nodded. "I think we are. We're both volatile as hell, but I don't know… I think maybe she counter balances me. I think I'm better with her than away from her. It's insane, she's… she's not the person I thought I would ever come to need and want so much. Or to…"

"To?" Mal repeated, raising an eyebrow.

"To love."

"Have you told her that?"

Regina shook her head quickly. "I'm not sure I'm ready. I'm not sure she's ready. We've discussed it in a roundabout way, because, well, we have Hope and so we know… but I'm not sure I'm ready to say it. I'm really not sure she's ready to hear it."

"But you're sure you feel it?"

"I think so… I mean, it's a lot to process."

"It's really not. You're just overthinking, and overcomplicating something simple and natural. Because you're scared."

Regina sighed and shifted her weight from one foot to the other. "How about a change of subject, hmm? Let's talk about you for a change."

"Not much to discuss, dear."

"And why's that? You haven't decided to become a shut in again, have you? Lily's getting her life together, Emma and I are getting things figured out… what are you going to do, now?"

"Now that I'm no longer needed?"

Regina rolled her eyes. "You know that's not what I mean. And you know how grateful Emma and I both are to you, for everything you've done. But I also know how you take to solitude. There's a whole world here, Mal. And you're young-"

"I'm ancient."

"You're not."

"I've been around-"

"For centuries, I know," Regina finished for her. "And how many decades did you spend alone, pining away as time moved on?"

"I'm not pining."

"I didn't say you were."

"And a few of those lonely decades were at your hand, if I remember correctly."

"I know."

Mal smiled, and looked down at Hope as the baby grabbed onto the ends of her long hair, giving a gentle pull. "I do think about all that I missed with Lily, more than I'd even like to admit. Maybe I'd like a second chance, to be a mother to a baby. A child. Raise them from infancy."

"It's not too late for that."

"Maybe. But as much as Lily would like to think I'm soft, the rest of this town still sees me as the scary dragon bitch. I don't exactly have suitors lining up down the street, you know."

"There was a time when this entire town hated me too," Regina pointed out.

"Yes, but then you banded with the heroes and saved them dozens of times. I think they see that as a plus."

Regina smiled and shook her head, but stopped short before she could voice another thought on Mal's potential love life. Her eyes darted around the room, frantically.

"What's wrong?"

"Where's Zelena? She was right there, on the couch with Ryleigh. I never saw her leave. Oh my God, Mal! She has Ryleigh!"

"Okay, calm down, she can't be far."

"Can't be far? Mal! She has magic! She could be halfway to Oz by now."

"And we have magic, too. We'll find her," Mal insisted.

As if on cue, Hope chose that very moment to begin to wail.

"Oh, she's hungry," Regina assessed, glancing around the room again. Emma hadn't returned with Lily yet.

"Okay, you feed your daughter, and I'll find Zelena," Mal decided, handing the baby off to Regina, before pausing for a moment, breathing in deep and looking toward the stairs. "I can still feel her magic here. I don't think she went far. Maybe she just needed the bathroom."

Regina nodded hopefully as she made her way to Hope's diaper bag. "Maybe," she repeated, though she sounded less than convinced.

Either way, Mal headed up the stairs, following the new yet familiar magical essence in the air. Zelena's magic felt similar to Regina's - close enough that a less discerning practitioner of magic might not be able to tell the difference - but she supposed that wasn't all that strange. They might only be half sisters, but they'd both inherited their magic from their mother.

It didn't take long to find the room where Zelena's magic was most densely concentrated. It was the guest bedroom, and the door was shut. Mal tapped lightly on the door, before opening it.

Once she did, she quickly learned why she could feel Zelena's magic so strongly right here. She stepped into the room, her ears assaulted by Ryleigh's deafening wails, as Zelena paced, bouncing her, completely oblivious to Mal's entry.

"You cast a silencing spell," Mal noted, as she shut the door behind her.

Zelena stopped short and spun around to face Mal, eyes wide like a deer caught in the headlights.

"I didn't know what else to do! I brought her up here to change her and she just started screaming, and she didn't stop. I've tried feeding her, walking with her, toys…" Zelena motioned with one hand to the guest bed where the contents of Ryleigh's diaper bag were strewn everywhere. "Nothing's working. I think she hates me!"

"I'm sure she doesn't hate you," Mal said, stepping closer. "I don't think she's capable of that emotion at this age."

"Well then I'm just a terrible mother. Regina will never let me have her if she only screams when she's alone with me!"

"May I?" Mal asked, holding out her hands for Ryleigh. Zelena seemed to hesitate, but handed her daughter over anyway. Ryleigh stared at Mal in confusion for a moment, but when Mal started bouncing her and rubbing her back, Ryleigh calmed down and laid her head against Mal's shoulder.

Zelena threw her hands up in exasperation. "I can't do it. I never should have come back here. I can't even comfort my own daughter but she settles for you."

"Stop," Mal said, gently but firmly. "She doesn't hate you and you're not a terrible mother. You're just a new mother, and she's picking up on your nervousness. You've got to hold her with confidence. She's got to feel that you're sure of yourself so she can relax and feel safe."

"I've never felt less sure of myself in my entire life," Zelena admitted.

"That's okay."

"No, it's not. I've got to prove to Regina that I can be a good mother, and at this rate, Ryleigh will be in high school before she can live with me!"

Mal smiled and placed a hand on Zelena's arm. "Regina isn't the enemy here. If you're worried or struggling, talk to her. Trust me, honey, I know she loves Ryleigh, but she's got two kids of her own already, one of whom is an infant. She doesn't want to keep your daughter from you indefinitely."

Zelena sighed. "Thank you," she said, finally. "You know, you're the first person here who hasn't treated me like a pariah. Not that I can really blame the rest of them, I guess. I knew the whole town would still hate me when I came back, but I thought I'd be okay with that if I had my daughter, at least. But…"

"Here, try again," Mal said, moving to shift Ryleigh back into Zelena's arms. "Hold her with confidence. Let her know you've got everything under control."

Zelena still looked less self-assured than Mal would have liked, but this time when she took Ryleigh back, Ryleigh nestled her head against Zelena's neck.

"See? She loves you."

Zelena's eyes snapped up in surprise. "She does? She doesn't even know me."

"Of course she does. Babies know."

Zelena nodded. "I'm just so worried… I missed so much time with her."

"I missed thirty years with my daughter. Ryleigh's not even going to remember you were ever apart from her. You'll be alright."

"Thank you," Zelena said again, her lips forming a small smile. "Really. You have no idea how much I need someone to believe in me."

"We all do, honey. I've been in your shoes. I know what it's like when everyone wants your head on a stake. Now, it's more like silent distrust and overly conspicuous sideways glances, but my daughter is here and that's all that matters."

"Well, maybe we could be the town pariahs together, then?" Zelena suggested. "I mean- I'm not implying-"

Mal smiled at the way Zelena's cheeks flushed. "Everyone could use a friend, right?"

Zelena nodded quickly. "Right. Yes. Exactly."

"Well, alright then. But we should probably get you back downstairs before Regina sends out a search party, hmm? It looks like Ryleigh's asleep now, anyway."

"Alright."

With a flick of her wrist, Mal returned the contents of the diaper bag to their original home and lifted the silencing spell off the room, as she followed Zelena to the door. She smiled to herself as she watched the other woman walking ahead of her, with the tiniest inkling deep inside that perhaps this was the start of something for the two of them.


To be continued...

Chapter Text

A/N: I wasn't sure how the potential Wicked Dragon ship was going to be received, so I'm super happy that lots of you are on board! Your support and awesome feedback has been what kept me motivated to stay with this fic and I appreciate it more than you know!


"Why are you so late, kid?" Emma asked, when Henry walked in the door after school, much later than he usually did.

"Oh, I had to go home and grab one of my books for school. Or, well, my other home, I guess. Mom's house," Henry replied. "Cause, uh, this is home too."

Emma smiled. "Yeah, I get it kid."

Emma shook her head as Henry took off to the kitchen to grab a snack, as he usually did, and she turned back to Regina. It was a rare moment of silence as both babies had just gone down for their naps, and Henry would be heading upstairs to start on homework before dinner.

Regina started talking before Emma had the chance to say another word. "We probably should grab his stuff from my house. And I'll need to pick up more clothes, for myself and Ryleigh. And we should probably bring her crib over, so Hope can have hers back," Regina paused, noting the thoughtful look on Emma's face. "Sorry, was that presumptuous? I mean, it's been weeks, if you don't want-"

"Regina," Emma said, smiling, "if I was planning on kicking you out, don't you think I would have already?"

"Well, why are you looking at me like that then?"

Emma sighed. "Because I just realized… we have two houses. At some point, this is an issue we're going to have to address."

"You mean, move in together?"

Emma shrugged. "Eventually. I mean, if this all works out, then yeah? That's generally how these things go, isn't it?"

"Yes."

"So, I guess the thing we'll have to figure out is where? Which house do we live in and which house do we sell?"

"You move in with me, and we'll sell your house," Regina said, decisively.

"What, wait? Just like that? No discussion?"

"Well, I don't mean right now. But when the time comes."

"Oh, so when I said we can figure this out, you somehow heard 'we'll just do whatever you want and screw what I have to say'?"

"Emma!" Regina gasped. "No, not at all. But it's the only option that makes sense."

"Really. And why's that?"

"Well, if you're serious about wanting more children in the future, we'll have to live at my place and sell yours. There isn't enough space here."

"We can turn the guest bedroom into a fourth bedroom," Emma pointed out. "I said I think I want to have one more baby, not a dozen!"

"Hope's nursery is too small to remain as a bedroom. It wouldn't be fair to make one child have a tiny room."

"Henry will move out eventually."

"We can't plan an entire future contingent on one day telling Henry his time's up and he needs to find a place of his own."

"Jesus, Regina, I wasn't suggesting we kick him out. I just meant kids grow up and move out. It's what happens. If we have another kid in the next couple of years, by the time she's old enough to need a bigger room, Henry will be in college."

Regina shook her head. "And what if he's not?"

"Then the girls can share a room."

"Absolutely not. Children need their space and privacy."

Emma huffed a sigh of annoyance and crossed her arms over her chest. "I survived childhood without space and privacy. I shared rooms with seven other girls at a time sometimes, and they were strangers for crying out loud. I'm suggesting that Hope can share a room with her unborn future sister one day, until Henry inevitably moves out."

"Why is it so important to you that we live here?"

"Why is it so important to you that we live in your house?" Emma shot back.

"Because it's my home," Regina said, defensively. "It's been my home for thirty years, and, more importantly, it's Henry's home and it has been since he was three weeks old."

Emma frowned, and cast her eyes down to the floor. Regina had a point, but she wasn't ready to cede her ground just yet.

"You didn't answer my question," Regina pointed out.

"What question?"

"Why is it so important to you that we live here?"

Emma looked up again and met Regina's eyes. "Because it's my home."


The tension was thick around the dinner table that evening. Emma stared down at her plate as Regina distracted herself by focusing on feeding Ryleigh. Henry seemed oblivious as he shoveled lasagna into his mouth, and Emma wasn't sure if he just had something else on his mind, or if he'd just gotten so used to her mood swings recently that her sudden silence and sullen demeanor didn't faze him anymore.

The panic that was slowly setting in now was a different kind of panic than the type she'd gotten used to lately. This wasn't an anxious fear of some undefinable unknown, but a very real fear that she and Regina were making a giant mistake right now.

Or, perhaps, only she was.

Emma felt a knot form in her stomach as she began to wonder if any of this would actually work out, or if a relationship with Regina was going to mean making all the sacrifices while Regina got what she wanted. Sacrificing for Regina wasn't a new concept for her, by any stretch of the imagination, but after all she'd been through, she felt it was about time that Regina should meet her halfway.

A large part of her hated herself for thinking that way. Hadn't Regina made sacrifices already? She'd done a lot since Hope was born, Emma couldn't deny that. She'd been the one to identify what was going on with her when even she couldn't understand it herself, but Emma also couldn't deny that there was still a lot of hurt lying just below the surface. She'd thought she'd begun to heal, but now she wasn't so sure.

So she excused herself from the table, citing a headache as the reason, and left Regina in charge of both babies. She felt a little bad as she ascended the stairs to her bedroom, but she needed a break. She really needed to process.

Emma looked around her room. It wasn't as immaculately decorated as the master bedroom at Regina's mansion, and not quite as big, but it was hers and that was important. Surely Regina had to see that that was important.

She sat down on her bed and ran her fingers over the comforter. It was soft and warm, the nicest she'd ever owned, really. Her bed in her apartment in Boston had been nice, but she'd opted for style over comfort then. It had been exhilarating to have a place of her own, and she'd wanted to make it a place to be proud of, something she could show off, but not someplace to ever call home. She hadn't even really known what home meant at the time.

Emma wiped a tear from her eye as she pulled her legs up to sit cross-legged on the bed. She could hear footsteps on the stairs, and while she assumed they must be Henry's, she couldn't help but feel like it sounded like Regina.

Sure enough, moments later, Regina stood in the doorway of her bedroom, knocking lightly on her doorframe.

"May I come in?" she asked, once Emma had looked up.

Emma nodded and scooted over on the bed, making space for Regina to sit down next to her. "You left the babies downstairs alone?"

"Henry's with them. Hope's asleep and Ryleigh's quite content to play with him, and he's quite capable of watching her. I'm not worried about the babies. I'm worried about you."

Emma sniffed and wiped away another tear. It was really no use to lie and say she was fine now, when anyone would clearly be able to see she wasn't. "Why?" she asked, instead.

"Because you're clearly upset. Emma, if it means this much to you, we can live here. I'll sell my house."

Emma shook her head quickly as the tears began to fall in earnest. She couldn't stop them, and when Regina reached her arms out to pull her into a tight embrace, it only made her cry harder. Her shoulders shook as she let her head fall against Regina's shoulder and she sobbed.

"Emma, Emma," Regina said, placing a hand on Emma's cheek and making soothing circles with her thumb. "It's alright."

"It's not! You can't sell your house."

"It's just a house. It doesn't matter."

"It mattered two hours ago," Emma pointed out.

"I'm stubborn, you know that," Regina said, with a small chuckle. "But our home is where our family is. My home is where you are."

Emma shook her head again against Regina' shoulder. "Of course we're not going to sell your house," she said. She took a deep breath as her tears began to slow down. "It's bigger, and it doesn't make sense to live here instead."

"Then why were you fighting me on it?"

"Because!" Emma closed her eyes for a moment, trying to gather her thoughts to articulate what was really bothering her. "Because… you weren't even going to discuss it. You just made up your mind and that's how it was going to be, your way or no way, just like it always is and… and that can't be my life. It's not going to…" Emma breathed another heavy sigh. "It's not going to work."

"Don't say that." Regina moved back so she could cup Emma's face in her hands, and their eyes met. "It was just a fight. I'm sorry, Emma."

Emma drew in a shaky breath and closed her eyes, placing her hands atop Regina's on her face. "This is my first real home, you know. My parents' loft never quite felt like home, even if it was way closer than any place I'd ever been before that. But here… it's just… it'll be hard to give it up, you know? Henry and I decorated Hope's nursery, you know."

"I know. Emma, I'm serious. If you want to stay here, we will."

Emma shook her head. "It's… it's not really about staying here. It's just… I don't know, maybe I'm just being stupid, or overdramatic, or something. It's fine."

"Don't shut down on me now, Emma, please."

Emma swallowed, and opened her eyes again to meet Regina's. "Would you really sell your house, if that's what I wanted?"

Regina nodded. "Yes. Your happiness is more important to me than my house."

"I don't want you to. You're right. It's Henry's home. This…" Emma paused and looked around her room again. "This house means a lot to me, but you're right: home is where our family is."

Regina smiled. "This isn't something we have to do tomorrow, you know."

"I know. Everything just still feels like a lot right now. I'm overwhelmed."

"I know." Regina reached her arms around Emma again, and pulled her close. "It will be okay. I'm sorry I'm so hardheaded sometimes."

"Sometimes?"

Regina laughed. "Alright, most of the time."

Emma sighed. "You're stubborn, and my moods are still all over the place," Emma admitted. "It's not easy feeling so out of control."

"I know," Regina agreed as she stroked the back of Emma's head with one hand. "It's been one thing after another and there's always another hurdle. But we're stronger together, you know? We always have been."

"Yeah." Emma moved back from Regina's embrace as an idea struck her. "Hey… maybe Zelena should move in here."

Regina blinked. "What?"

"I mean, not move in with us, but if I move into your house, Zelena should move in here. She can't just stay in that cottage in the middle of nowhere, it's not good for her."

Regina thought for a moment. "That's not a bad idea, actually. Assuming she'd be on board, that is. But Ryleigh will be used to this house, so maybe it might ease the transition along, rather than packing her up and sending her to another new home to live with Zelena."

Emma wiped the last of the tears away from her cheeks, though her eyes were still red and puffy, and sighed. "Just when I thought I'd been holding everything together so well lately."

"You are, Emma," Regina insisted, reaching for one of her hands and giving it a gentle squeeze. "Give it time."

Emma nodded. "I'm trying. And, I guess you're really not hardheaded all of the time. I really don't know how I would have gotten through these past few weeks without you, you know?"

Emma's cheeks flushed at the admission, and she hoped that her skin was already red enough from crying that Regina didn't notice. Now that she was calmer, she had the presence of mind to be a little more self-aware. Though she knew there was really no shame in admitting she needed help, it still wasn't her strong suit.

Regina squeezed her hand again, and cupped the back of her head with her other hand, before leaning in to give her a kiss on the forehead. "Let's not worry about this anymore tonight, alright?" she said softly. "We've got babies who need baths and to be put to bed, and then maybe we can curl up on the couch and watch a movie?"

Emma smiled. "Yeah, I'd like that."


To be continued…

A/N: So I think I said before that there would be a total of 37 chapters, but since my outlines don't ever pan out the way I plan, there will be a few more than that, since now I'm pretty far behind from where I should have been by chapter 34 lol. Not sure how many more, but more than 3 for sure!

Chapter Text

It was well past midnight, and Emma was still awake.

After watching a movie cuddled up on the couch together, Emma had invited Regina to sleep in her bed again; but they'd done nothing more than sleep, since they were both so exhausted. Well, Regina had slept. Emma had spent the last few hours staring up at the ceiling in the dark, replaying the day in her mind.

Even though they'd settled their fight, Emma was still unsettled, and she couldn't figure out why.

She knew it wasn't over the house. Sure, this was the first home she'd ever owned, but she wasn't really that attached. She'd formed some good memories here, but she'd barely even had this house a year, and she couldn't really see herself missing it when she eventually did move out. It wasn't that… it was something else.

Sighing, Emma turned her head to look at Regina. In the moonlight streaming in from the window, she could clearly make out her features. Her face was turned slightly toward Emma, her lips parted just a bit, her breathing slow and rhythmic. Emma found it oddly calming to watch Regina sleep. After a hectic day, it was soothing to lay in the quiet, the only one awake in the house, and appreciate what she had.

She thought back on how drastically her life had changed in the past several months. Really, she should be used to adjusting to rapid changes in her life by this point - nothing had ever been the same since the night Henry showed up on her doorstep in Boston all those years ago - but something felt different.

It felt like things were finally falling into place.

Emma smiled as Regina sighed in her sleep, and she wondered if she was dreaming. Her eyes trailed over Regina's dark hair, her cheekbones, her jawline, and she thought about the last time she'd kissed her. For a moment, she just stared in awe, in total disbelief that this was her life now. It was something she'd wanted for so long, and now that she was so close to having it, it terrified her.

She'd never felt quite this way with Hook, with Walsh, even with Neal. She'd thought she'd been doing what she was supposed to do: find a man, settle down, raise a family. It had never felt quite right with any of them, but she'd always chalked that feeling up to not really knowing what having a family was supposed to feel like.

But she had one now.

Emma watched Regina intently as she thought about that. She and Regina really had formed a family, without ever intending to. When Henry had first brought her to Storybooke, Emma had thought about taking him away from here, but this was his home and where he belonged. And she knew this was her home and where she belonged now, too.

She thought about what Regina had said earlier - my home is where you are. She wondered if she'd meant that. It was too soon for things like that, wasn't it? A part of her couldn't help but feel like maybe Regina was on the rebound. She always grabbed on too quickly and held on too tightly, and Emma wondered if that was what was happening now.

Being with Regina was the opposite of everything Emma had thought she was supposed to do, and yet, in spite of everything they'd been through, it was the first thing that ever felt fully right in her life. There had been a time where she'd tried to push down her attraction to Regina. It had been wrong on so many levels - she was his son's adoptive mother, she was her mother's mortal enemy, she'd cursed an entire realm and set Emma's life on the lonely and painful path it had taken. Above all, Regina had hated her and wanted her to leave Storybooke, and yet even then, Emma couldn't help but wonder.

At that time, she'd chalked it up to her damaged personality and her tendency to seek out people who would leave her eventually. Afterall, that's all she'd ever known in life, and even if it always hurt, it was familiar. She could deal with being left.

It struck her, suddenly, that what was harder to deal with was being wanted. She was always second to someone or something, wasn't she? She'd been given up so many times as a child that she stopped hoping for a family to come along. She'd been betrayed by the only friend she'd ever had, and then again by the first person who'd ever loved her. Even if Lily and Neal had found their way back into her life eventually, those old hurts still stung, somewhere deep inside.

Even in her adult life, not much had changed. She had Henry, but Henry had another mother. She had her parents, but her parents had another child. Walsh had been a set up from the start, and Hook… well, to Hook she was nothing more than another conquest of many.

And yet now, as she gazed on Regina, the one person she'd always thought would be forever unattainable, she realized the gravity of the fact that Regina had chosen her, even when she had another, safer, option available. It didn't exactly erase the hell Regina had put her through in the last year, but Emma knew how frightened and damaged Regina was too. Nothing ever came easily to either of them, but somehow, right now, this felt like it could.

As if she sensed herself being watched, Regina blinked awake, her eyes meeting Emma's.

"Can't sleep?" Regina asked, her voice low and raspy.

Emma shook her head. "No."

"What's wrong?"

"Nothing. I was just… thinking."

"About what?"

"You."

Regina raised an eyebrow. "Do I want to know?"

Emma smiled. "I was just thinking about us, and how far we've come, and I just… moving in is a big step, isn't it?"

"Emma, I've practically been living here for weeks."

"I know, but… it would be different. I'm just… are you sure that's really want you want?"

Regina let out a long sigh and reached out a hand to cup Emma's cheek. "Emma, I'm sorry that I just assumed you'd want to move in with me. I should have asked you how you felt about it. It's just… it's not the first time I thought about it and I suppose, in my head, I'd already sort of assumed that's how it would go. It just seemed like the natural progression this would take, and somehow I forgot to consider your side. And I'm sorry."

"Thank you," Emma said, her voice nearly a whisper. "You've really thought about this?"

Regina nodded. "Of course I have. I wouldn't have ended things with Robin if I weren't planning on taking things further with you. That wasn't a decision I made lightly, Emma. This isn't simply a fling. I've always been searching for something longterm, you know what."

"Your happy ending."

"Yes."

"And you really think you could find that with me?"

Regina smiled and leaned forward, closing the small distance between them and pressing her lips against Emma's in a long kiss. "Yes," she said, as she backed away a couple of inches, just enough to be able to meet Emma's eyes. "And maybe I should have figured that out sooner. Maybe I should have realized that the one person who was always more invested in my happiness than I was myself, would be the person who could make me the happiest."

Emma smiled, and found herself at a loss for words. Luckily, Regina was quick to keep the conversation going.

"What about you, Emma? Do you think you can find your happy ending with me?"

Emma swallowed, and thought for a moment before answering. "I… I guess I haven't put a lot of thought into that. I mean, I'm not saying I don't think I'll be happy with you, but… happy endings are for fairytales, and that's not really what my life is, is it?"

Regina raised an eyebrow. "You don't think this is your fairytale?"

"Seriously, Regina? Maybe the most depressing and pathetic fairytale ever written."

"Hmm… that's not how I see it."

"No? How do you see it then?"

Regina smiled. "I see… a story about a lost princess, ripped from her world and forced to endure hardship after hardship, lonely and destitute until the baby boy she'd given up finds her, against all odds, and brings her home."

"Hey, I wasn't destitute. I had a good job and a nice apartment when Henry found me," Emma pointed out.

"Fine. But you'll admit you were lonely."

Emma shrugged. "I guess. Yeah."

"Yes, so, carrying on… the princess becomes the prophesied savior, breaks the curse, restores everyone's happy endings, and finally finds her own."

"The princess falls in love with the Evil Queen," Emma mused. "Former Evil Queen. Sorry."

"Nothing like a good plot twist."

"We could decorate the nursery together," Emma suggested.

"What?"

"In your house. You and I could decorate the nursery together. When Henry and I painted the nursery here, that's when this house started to feel like home to me. Your house is already your home, and Henry's, if I could… I don't know, add a piece of myself to it, it could feel like my home, too."

"Of course," Regina agreed, leaning in to kiss Emma quickly again.

"And it's not going to feel weird? You know, after having Robin living there?"

"I'll buy new bedsheets," Regina offered.

Emma let out a small laugh. "That's not what I mean."

"I know. No, I don't think it will feel weird. Robin was… well, suffice it to say, Robin did not live up to my expectations. It's not really his fault, I suppose. Maybe he would have been what I needed when I was first meant to meet him, but now… he was safe, and he was boring. I don't miss him."

"Not at all?"

Regina shook her head. "No. Once I let him go willingly, I realized it was never really him I wanted in the first place. I just wanted to not be alone anymore. When I met him, I just wanted someone there to love me, and I thought that clinging to him out of desperation was love."

"And now?"

"And now… now I realize that Mal was right all along. I'm never going to be happy playing housewife to a man that doesn't challenge me. I need an equal. I need someone who sees me as I am, not as they want me to be, and loves me anyway. Someone who accepts the worst parts of me along with the best. Someone who-"

"Believes in you when no one else does?"

"Yes."

"Someone who understands you, because she understands what it's like to be different, and to be feared and unloved, and to not be wanted even though you're trying your best?"

"Oh, Emma," Regina whispered, reaching for her and pulling her close into a tight embrace. "I'm so sorry that I ever made you feel that way."

Emma nestled in against Regina's warm body. "I didn't mean it so specifically. I meant, in general, in life," Emma clarified. "But Regina, I forgive you."

"Do you?"

"Yes, I do. I-" Emma stopped herself. The unspoken I love you hung heavy in the air, but she wasn't sure she was quite ready for that, so she changed her trajectory. "I want to move in with you. I want to try and find my happy ending with you."

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Chapter Text

It had been just over three weeks since Lily's housewarming party, and Regina had to marvel at just how far Zelena had come in such a short time. She'd been over to see her daughter every day, and Ryleigh was beginning to get excited in the anticipation of her mother coming over.

She and Emma had discussed it a few times this week, and they'd decided it was time to bring up discussion of the future with Zelena.

"I'm really gonna miss this kid, you know," Emma said, purposely offhandedly, as she sat on the floor with Hope in her lap, across from where Zelena sat playing blocks with Ryleigh. They both knew that Zelena had taken the current arrangement hard, and they decided keeping future discussions light was probably for the best.

"Miss her?" Zelena asked, unable to hide the hopeful lilt in her voice, clearly guessing where this conversation was headed.

"Yeah, you know, when she starts living with you full time."

Zelena's eyes snapped up to meet Emma's. "Well, that won't be for quite some time, I'm sure."

"Actually," Regina cut in, stepping over from where she'd been watching to sit on the couch behind Emma, so she could face her sister. "Emma and I have been talking and we think, sooner might be better than later. That is, if you feel like you're ready."

Zelena opened and closed her mouth a couple times, clearly caught off-guard. "If I'm… oh… do you think I'm ready?"

Regina couldn't think of a time where she'd ever seen Zelena unsure of herself, and she took it as all the more proof that she really was ready and willing to be Ryleigh's mother. "I actually, really do," Regina said, with an affirmative nod. "Look at her, she adores you. I was wrong to keep you from her. I know that now."

Zelena raised an eyebrow. "Of all the things I'd never expect from you, Sis, admitting that you're wrong is up near the top."

"Don't push it, Zelena. I'm trying to offer you an olive branch here."

"Right, yes, well thank you. I suppose I'll have to hurry up and get my cottage ready for her. Do you have a timeline in mind?"

Emma cast a glance back at Regina, before turning her attention back to Zelena. "Actually… Hope and I are going to be moving in with Regina next week, so we're thinking then."

Zelena gaped for a moment. "So what's this, then? You want to U-haul with my sister and taking Ryleigh along would be too much? So you decided I don't need to be watched with her every second?"

"Wow." Emma blinked. "That's… way off base."

"We think you should move in here," Regina said, quickly. "Rather than living isolated out in the middle of nowhere. There's more space here, and Ryleigh's already used to this house. It might help the transition if she gets to go to sleep and wake up in familiar surroundings."

Zelena thought for a moment. "Alright."

"Alright?" Regina repeated, exchanging a quick glance with Emma. They'd expected to have to convince Zelena that this was the for the best.

"Yes, alright. This house has become Ryleigh's home, and that cottage really means nothing to me. It would be nice to be closer to town."

"Okay," Emma said, nodding. "I guess it's settled then…"


"Did that seem too easy to you?" Regina asked as she folded up another one of Hope's onesies. Zelena was still downstairs with Ryleigh, and Emma and Regina had opted to let her have some time alone with her daughter as they got started packing up the nursery.

"Yes!" Emma said, nodding emphatically. "I really expected her to put up a fight. And how the hell does she know what u-hauling means?"

"The moving company?" Regina asked.

Emma laughed and shook her head. "No. She was referring to us moving in together too quickly. U-haul lesbian. It's a thing."

Regina raised an eyebrow. "Well, even if it is, it's hardly what we are doing."

"Either way, I wonder where she picked that up?"

Regina shrugged as she placed the last of the folded onesies into the box she was working on, and moved onto the next drawer, which held Hope's sleepers. Almost immediately, she noticed a small piece of paper tucked into the corner of the drawer, and she pulled it out.

Emma,

Let me be the first to bestow a gift upon your child. I made one just like this, for Lily, only purple. But she says you like yellow.

Much love,

Mal.

Regina wasn't sure how long she stared at the paper, but it was long enough for Emma to notice, and pull her attention away.

"What's that?"

Regina's eyes snapped up in surprise. "Oh! Um-" she reached out to hand the note over to Emma- "I found this in the drawer. Sorry, I shouldn't have read it. I didn't realize… I thought maybe it was a misplaced receipt or something."

Emma glanced down at the note and sighed when she realized what it was. "Mal gave me this when she gave me Hope's little yellow rattle," she explained. "At Christmas. I completely forgot it was in there. Are you okay?"

Regina nodded quickly. "Yes, I just… I just forget how much I missed out on sometimes. Mal knew before Christmas."

"I was going to tell you Christmas Eve," Emma reminded her.

"I know." Regina nodded. She didn't exactly want to think about what happened on Christmas Eve, especially now that things were so much better between them. "Do you think maybe we can do things right the next time around?"

Emma grinned. "You mean, come with me to ultrasounds? Rub my swollen feet? Make late night trips to get me ice cream when I have cravings?"

"Yes, all of that. Talk about names. Feel her kick for the first time. Buy her gifts before she's born…"

"I'd like that."

Regina nodded. "Me too."

"So we're really going to do this then? Have another baby? I mean, obviously not right now, but..." Emma said, still smiling as she shook her head. "I've never actually planned to have a child before."

"It'll be a new experience for both of us."


"You don't have to miss her, you know," Zelena commented as they sat down at the dinner table. It was the first time that Emma had invited her to stay for dinner, but seeing as things were going well, it seemed like the logical progression.

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, we won't live far apart. We can set up playdates for Ryleigh and Hope. I read that that's a good thing to do."

"You've been reading parenting books?" Regina asked.

Zelena half-shrugged. "I've had a lot of spare time. When you're not engrossed in plotting your enemy's demise, you find yourself with a fair bit of time on your hands."

"Right," Regina said, shaking her head. "Of course."

"Of course we'll have playdates," Emma agreed. "The girls adore each other, and Hope is your niece, afterall."

"I can babysit," Henry offered, suddenly, giving Zelena a small wink. "Sometimes, you know, if you need me to."

"What's going on?" Regina asked, her eyes darting between Zelena and Henry. She knew Henry had been chatting with Zelena that afternoon while she and Emma had been packing, and now she really wondered what was up.

For her part, Zelena just shrugged again. "I may have… made a friend."

"A friend?" Regina repeated. "How on earth did you make a friend living out in the middle of nowhere?"

"You did take me to a party a few weeks ago," Zelena pointed out. "And this… friend… and I have really been getting on well. So we might just need to enlist Henry to babysit, from time to time."

"Who did you possibly meet at Lily's?" Emma asked.

"No, I don't want to jinx it," Zelena said, with a wicked grin.

Regina thought back to Lily's party for a moment, and let out a small surprised gasp when she remembered. "Maleficent," she said, simply.

"Mal?" Emma repeated.

"When we couldn't find Zelena and Ryleigh, Mal found her. It's her, isn't it?"

Zelena's grin shifted into more of a genuine smile. "It's funny how things happen, isn't it? I could have killed you for insisting that I couldn't be left alone with my own daughter, and I hated that you dragged me out to socialize with a houseful of people I once cursed, but it ended up being the best thing you could have ever done for me. Mal wasn't sure how we should tell you, given your… history, but I guess the cat's out of the bag now."

Regina shot a quick glance at Henry, unsure of how he'd react to Zelena's comment about her history with Mal, but for his part, he looked unfazed. "Does Lily know?" she asked, turning her attention back to her sister.

"Yes, of course. And she's fully supportive."

"Really?" Emma asked, raising a skeptical eyebrow.

"Fine," Zelena conceded, rolling her eyes. "She's… warming up to the idea. Slowly."

Emma chuckled. "Well, I guess now I know who you learned about u-hauling from."

"Mal and I may have discussed her moving into my cottage. Lily may have thought that was a little fast. I suppose she'll be a bit happier to know that I'm no longer planning on keeping her mother secluded out in the woods with me. Your house is much closer."

"So, you're really going to move in here?" Henry asked, looking excited.

Zelena nodded. "I think so."

"That's awesome! It's a great house. I'm glad it's going to stay in the family."

"Family," Zelena repeated, quietly, with a sigh. "Yes, I suppose that's right."


"You okay?" Emma asked as she handed Regina another plate to dry. Regina had grown quiet for the rest of dinner, and seemed lost in her own thoughts even after Zelena had gone home and they'd bathed the babies and put them to bed before starting on the dishes.

"Yes… it's just… Mal and my sister?"

"It bothers you?"

Regina shook her head. "It shouldn't. It really shouldn't. Mal and I are ancient history. There's no feelings left there beyond friendship, I promise, but…"

"But it's weird?"

Regina nodded. "Yes!"

"I think it's always weird to watch someone you once loved move on with someone else."

"I want Mal to be happy," Regina insisted. "She deserves it. But… with Zelena?"

Emma shrugged. "She seems to really be trying. Maybe Mal is a good influence on her?"

"It will certainly lead to some interesting family dinners."

"I wouldn't have it any other way," Emma said with a grin, before leaning in to give Regina a quick kiss on the cheek. "Now, let's get these dishes done so we can head up to bed and forget all about Mal and Zelena for the rest of the night."

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Chapter Text

"You are planning on taking this couch with you to my sister's, correct?" Zelena said offhandedly as she tossed her suitcase onto the couch in question.

"Um, I'm actually not planning on taking any of my furniture," Emma replied. "It's all new, you know. And most people like having places to sit in their homes. Considering that the furniture in the cottage likely belongs to whoever owns it, I thought you'd appreciate the gesture."

Zelena shrugged. "I suppose I can have it reupholstered when I have the walls repainted. Is this the original hardwood?"

Emma rolled her eyes. Why on earth Regina had picked the exact day her sister would be moving in as the day she just had to go out for coffee with Mal, Emma would never know. No, scratch that, as Emma watched Zelena run her finger over a mantle and then sneer in distaste at the dust she found there, Emma realized she knew exactly why Regina didn't want to be there.

"You know, you're kind of picky for someone who's getting a house given to them for free," Emma pointed out.

"Oh please, don't act like money and real estate mean anything in this town. You're probably just happy you don't have to worry about maintaining the property when you move out."

Emma supposed Zelena did have a point, even if it was an annoying one.

"Do you have any more bags coming?"

Zelena glanced at her lone suitcase and shook her head. "I haven't managed to accrue many worldly belongings since arriving here. Just my clothes."

"Right, well, Regina and I moved all of Ryleigh's things here last night, so you won't need to worry about any of that. All her clothes, diapers, toys, her crib and bedding, everything you'll need is here. And, obviously, Regina and I are only going to be a few blocks over if you need anything else."

Zelena nodded absently, her attention suddenly focused on a large framed picture hanging over the mantle. It was of Henry holding Ryleigh and Hope. It wasn't a professional shot, just one last picture of all the kids in the house before they moved, but Henry was grinning and Ryleigh was laughing and Hope had actually smiled for the camera for the for the first time, and they'd decided they needed to have it blown up and framed.

"Are you taking that?" Zelena asked, nodding toward the picture.

"We had two copies made, actually," Emma replied. "We thought we'd leave this one here, for you. A sort of housewarming gift."

For the first time since walking in the door, Zelena smiled. "I'd like that," she said, before turning to face Emma. "Emma… In case it doesn't go without saying, I appreciate all that you've done for me. And I don't just mean letting me move into your house."

"What else have I done?"

Zelena smiled and shook her head. "Do you really think my sister would have allowed me back into my daughter's life if it weren't for you?"

Emma shrugged. "It was her idea, really. I didn't push her into it."

"You didn't have to. You're good for her. You make her better. Robin was… well, I suppose I don't have a leg to stand on talking badly about Robin, do I?"

"I won't tell anyone."

Zelena let out a small laugh. "Right. Well, he wasn't good for her, and, between you and me, he wasn't nearly good enough for her. Tell her I said that, and I'll kill you."

"Duly noted," Emma said, with a laugh.

"Previously, I haven't exactly been a good addition to Regina's life myself, but I really, truly am intent on changing that."

"I know you are. And she does, too."

For a split second, Emma thought Zelena might try to hug her. As far as Zelena had come, Emma was still relieved when Ryleigh started crying from her crib in the nursery, saving her from that awkward contact.

"Well, I guess that's my cue," Zelena said, with a genuine smile.

"Alright, I'll be down here. Regina should be back soon."

With a final nod, Zelena turned in the direction of the stairs. "It's alright darling, Mommy's coming!" Zelena called cheerfully up the stairs.

Emma watched until she was out of sight, and moments later the crying stopped. She smiled to herself as she turned and surveyed the room again. Moving out of the first house she'd truly called home was a bit of a bittersweet, surreal feeling, but still, she couldn't stop smiling, knowing that in a few short hours, she'd be walking through the front door of what she hoped would be the last new home she'd ever move into.


Regina sat watching Mal intently as she sipped her coffee in their booth at Granny's. With one hand, she tapped on the handle of her own mug nervously, and with the other, she rocked the car seat sitting next to her on the bench, where Hope slept soundly. This was the first time she'd ever taken Hope out of the house without Emma, and while that was a tremendous feat in itself and a credit to how far Emma had come in her therapy, Regina was more focused on Mal at this moment.

For her part, Mal looked amused. So Zelena tells me the secret's out, she had drawled over the phone when Regina had called to meet up. At the time, Regina had thought perhaps she meant it to be teasing, but now she saw something different in her friend's face. Something lighter, something… happier.

"Are you going to stare at me all afternoon, or do you have something you'd like to say?" Mal asked, a playful twinkle in her eye.

Regina sighed. She supposed she had called her for a reason, though she wasn't quite sure how to say what she wanted to say. "You… and Zelena?"

"I think that much has been established, hasn't it?" Mal asked, unable to hide her smile.

"Yes, I'm just still having a little trouble wrapping my head around it, to be honest."

"Why? Regina… you're not jealous, are you?"

"What? No, of course not. You and I… we're ancient history. There's no residual feelings left, I promise."

Mal raised an eyebrow. "Good. Because you've never really been good at sharing."

"I'm learning," Regina said, flatly. "But Mal… Zelena? Are you sure this is a good idea? I mean she's… she's…"

"She's what, Regina? She's done some terrible things in her life? So have I. So have you. She's struggling? We both have, too. She's really not that different from you and I, is she?"

"I suppose not," Regina admitted. "She says you're already talking about moving in together. Isn't that fast?"

Mal shrugged. "Lily said the same thing, but… when you know, you know."

"And what if you're wrong?"

"That's all part of life, isn't it? But let me ask you this, Regina: what if someone told you you were moving too fast with Emma? Would you slow down?"

"Probably not," Regina admitted, with a small smile.

"Mm-hmm. And what if they asked you how do you know she's the right person for you."

Regina looked pensive for a moment, and then sighed. "Because… as scared as I once was to even be with her, now it's the thought of ever being without her that terrifies me. I was afraid to love her, and now I don't think I could survive without her."

"You would," Mal pointed out. "We always do. Survive, I mean. But that feeling - love like that - it's rare. And I'm not going to miss my chance this time. Not like I did with Briar Rose. Maybe we're moving fast, but I'm grabbing on with both hands."

"You never felt like that with me."

Mal smiled, and reached out to take Regina's hand. "Maybe, if we'd met at any other point in either of our lives, we could have had the greatest love in the entire realm. But we were both too hellbent on our own revenge then, weren't we?"

Regina nodded. "It all seems like such a waste now. Revenge."

"It is. But we've both lost and learned and grown and now we can love and be loved and that's all that matters."

"So you really love my sister?" Regina asked, squeezing Mal's hand.

"I am falling in love with her, yes. I haven't felt like this in a very long time. She makes me happy."

Regina smiled. "Then I'm happy for you. I suppose I should know by now to trust your judgment on these things, anyway."

"That you should. And speaking of… have you told Emma yet?"

"Told her what?"

"That you love her?"

Regina sighed. "No. I just… I thought she was about to say it one night, weeks ago, but she stopped herself.

"If you feel it, you should say it, Regina. Life is short."

"Life is anything but short," Regina retorted.

"Fine. But you've been miserable for most of yours so far. Wouldn't you like to spend the rest of it happy?"

"That's all I want."


"Anybody home?" Regina called out as she walked through the living room at Emma's.

"Dining room!" Emma yelled back.

Regina headed in that direction, hands full of take-out bags from Granny's, and Mal following behind, carrying Hope in her car seat. She smiled when she found that the table was already set in anticipation of their return, and Lily was already there. She could tell by the way that Lily was keeping a cautious eye on Zelena, that for once she wouldn't be the target of her snark, at least for this family dinner.

Ryleigh was already set up in her highchair, and Emma took Hope from Mal as Regina began unbagging the food. Take out was never her first choice, but considering that she and Emma would be heading off to the mansion with Henry and Hope shortly after dinner, she supposed Emma was right when she'd suggested that cooking might be a bit much tonight.

Regina watched out of the corner of her eye as Mal draped an arm around Zelena and gave her a kiss on the cheek. Zelena smiled and Regina marvelled at how smitten they seemed with each other. Maybe she really did have nothing to worry about as far as they were concerned.

Dinner was a little hectic; the noise of five adults and one teenager chattering away, while Ryleigh banged her plastic plate and cutlery against the tray of her highchair and Hope squawked from time to time, just to make sure no one forgot she was still in the room as well. It was loud and busy and yet Regina couldn't help but grin as she took it all in. It was never what she'd expected her life to shape into, but now, she found she couldn't imagine it any other way.

She locked eyes with Emma across the table, and Emma was smiling, too. When she looked at her, everything else around her seemed to fade into the background. And she knew Mal was right: she had to tell Emma that she loved her. Tonight.


A/N: so there are going to be three more chapters to this fic, and then it will be complete, however I am planning on writing some one-shots set in the same verse. I've had people asking about Emma's next pregnancy, and that's not something that I'm planning on writing in this story, since this story was always meant to be about baby Hope and how she brought her mothers together, but I love this story as much as you all do, and I'm not ready to let it go just yet… so there will be some fluffy one-shot follow ups coming… they will be compiled in a story called "On and On (Reckless Abandon)" and they'll follow their lives, Hope growing up, any future children, etc...

I'm not sure if I will write an actual sequel, but I am thinking about writing a short companion story, about Mal and Zelena, if people would be interested in reading that.

Also, I have an upcoming fic that I've started, that was a prompt for one of the winners of the Outburst Commentathon back in June, and it's magic pregnancy/magic baby fluff, so get ready ;) It's called "It Takes Two".

Chapter Text

Leaving her house for the last time had been a little harder than Emma had expected. Though it wasn't really the last time she'd ever be there, when she'd stepped out the front door that evening, the realization hit her that it was no longer her home. It was Zelena's and Ryleigh's home now, possibly soon to be Mal's as well. As happy as she was for them and the little family they were forming, it was hard to say goodbye to the first home Hope had ever had.

Still, she put on a brave face as she secured Hope's car seat into its base in the backseat of her Bug. Regina and Henry had already left in the Mercedes, and since they'd spent that week moving all of Emma's things into Regina's house, all that was left to go was herself and Hope.

"This is a big step, baby girl," Emma said softly as she tucked Hope's blanket in around her. Hope stared up at her with big brown eyes full of wonder. She was three months old now, and so fascinated by everyone and everything she saw.

"It's a good thing, though," Emma continued, nodding her head decisively. "You're not going to remember living here, but that's alright because you're never going to remember the time when Mommy and I were fighting. You're never going to remember us as anything other than happy."

Emma smiled as Hope babbled back at her a bit. She was a chatty little one lately, and Emma loved that it made her feel all the more real, even if she should have still been in her womb at this point.

"Your new bedroom isn't quite as pretty as the one you've got here, but I promise Mommy and I have big plans on how we're going to decorate it," Emma promised, as she leaned in and gave Hope a kiss on the forehead, before finally standing up. "But we better get going before Mommy and Henry start to worry."

Emma shut the door and climbed into the driver's seat, breathing a heavy sigh as she looked back at her big blue house one last time. She hadn't realized that everyone was standing on the porch, watching her leave, and she smiled and waved. Ryleigh squealed and waved back - something she'd just learned earlier that week - from her place securely on Zelena's hip. Mal waved too, before putting her arm around Lily and giving her a small kiss on the temple.

For her part, Lily just watched, and Emma knew this new arrangement wasn't easy on her. She figured it was something they'd talk about eventually, now that they were friends again, but that wasn't a discussion for tonight.

Emma sighed and took one final glance in the rearview mirror at Hope's car seat before starting the Bug and shifting it into drive. There was still an inkling of sadness, but it was quickly being overtaken by excitement as she remembered this wasn't really a sad goodbye, but the start of a brand new adventure.


Regina and Henry were waiting for them on the front porch when Emma pulled into the driveway at the mansion. It was an exhilarating feeling to come home to her family waiting for her.

"Home," Emma whispered out loud and she threw the Bug into park and turned off the ignition. Moving into the first home she'd ever owned was exciting in its own way, but she was quickly realizing it didn't come close to comparing to how she was feeling right now.

Regina and Henry headed toward the Bug as Emma got out and opened the back door. Hope was still wide awake as Emma unstrapped her from her car seat and picked her up.

"Ready to be home, baby girl?" Emma asked as she stood up, cradling Hope close to her chest.

"We're ready to have you both home," Regina said, leaning forward to kiss Emma on the cheek before kissing Hope on the forehead. "Ready to go in?"

Emma smiled. "More than you know."

Henry grinned as he lead the way to the door, and Emma realized he was finally getting something he'd wanted to for so long as well: both his mothers and his sister under one roof with him, permanently. She was glad that he's listened to her and not pushed it, letting her and Regina find their way to each other on their own, but she knew how happy he was to have his whole family together, at last.

Emma took a steadying breath as she followed Henry through the front door, Regina close behind. It had been barely over seven months since that fateful night that she and Regina had stumbled through this doorway, a little bit drunk, on Thanksgiving, and it suddenly hit Emma truly how much things had changed since that night.

She wiped a tear from her eye as she made her way up the three steps just past the entryway, and it wasn't lost on Regina.

"You alright?" Regina asked, gently, stepping up to her and running a hand over her back.

Emma nodded. "Yeah, I am. I really am," she said, smiling though a couple more tears still escaped. "I just… I always wanted a home, you know? And I'd kind of given up on that and… it's just a little overwhelming. I never really knew how different it would feel to have a home and not just a house."

Regina smiled and nodded, wrapping her arms around Emma. "Welcome home, Emma."


They tried to keep Hope's routine as close to normal as they could that night, knowing she'd be thrown off sleeping in a different house. Emma was a little thrown off, too, since everything was a little different now.

"It feels weird with only one," Emma commented as they bathed Hope together in the master bathroom. For weeks they'd been bathing both girls together, and now two mothers seemed like a lot for one baby.

"I know," Regina agreed, "but it's also nice to just be able to focus on Hope again, isn't it? I loved having Ryleigh around, but she did split our focus a little."

Emma nodded. "Yeah. And I suppose once she's crawling around and getting into everything, we'll be glad there's only one."

"For now."

Emma laughed. "Yeah. Good point."

After her bath, it was bedtime, and Emma carried Hope the short distance down the hallway to the room that she and Regina had picked to be her new bedroom. It was much bigger than her nursery at Emma's, and it was right next to Regina's room.

Their room.

Emma smiled to herself as she realized it really was going to be their room from now on. She'd never truly shared a room with someone before. She'd had people sleep in her bed but it had always been herroom and her bed - never truly shared. But all of that was changing now.

Hope's new room was still undecorated. It was a project they planned to take on in the weeks to follow, but for now it was white walls and white curtains. Her furniture from Emma's was here, along with her clothes and toys, and framed pictures from her walls sat on the floor, leaning against the far wall. Emma thought about how they'd have to get more pictures and toys to fill this room that was so much bigger, but that wasn't going to be an issue for her since she loved the thought giving her daughter all the things she'd wished for as a child.

"We should get her a big bookshelf," Emma said, thinking out loud. "And fill it with all the books we can find. I want her to be smart."

"She will be," Regina said, with a smile. "We'll read to her every night, just like I did with Henry."

Emma stepped over to the crib and laid Hope down on the soft mattress. "Good night, baby girl," she said softly, leaning in to give her another kiss on the forehead before standing up and turning on the baby monitor.

Regina gave Hope a kiss, too, and then followed Emma from the room, turning off the light while the soft glow of the nightlight filled the room, and they headed back to the master bedroom for their first night at home together.


Of all the things Emma had imagined happening on her first night home with Regina, Hope incessantly screaming wasn't one of them.

They'd tried everything - changing her, feeding her, another bath with lavender, changing her clothes, rocking her, singing to her - but everytime they thought she was finally out, she woke up and started screaming again.

After two hours, they were sure she was finally down for the night after fifteen whole minutes of peace and quiet, but just as Emma closed her eyes, she heard her once again.

Emma groaned, rolling over to look at Regina, who was already getting up. "What are we going to do?" she asked, sitting up. "Do you think she hates her new room?"

Regina shook her head. "I think she's just out of her element. She's been sleeping in her bassinet for so long in a room with both of us. Maybe she doesn't like being alone. I'm going to go get her."

Emma laid back on her pillow and listened to Regina's soothing voice through the monitor as she picked their daughter up from her crib. As she'd expected, Hope stopped crying the moment she was in her mother's arms again, and moments later Regina was back in the room carrying the red-faced baby girl.

Regina gently placed Hope on the bed beside Emma, and then crawled back into bed herself.

"You just want to let her sleep here tonight?"

"We'll let her fall asleep between us and move her into the bassinet once she does," Regina explained and she lay back down on her own pillow. "I had to do the same with Henry from time to time when he was a baby."

"What was Henry like as a baby?" Emma asked as she ran her fingers through Hope's soft dark hair.

"He cried a lot," Regina said, with a small fond laugh. "Much more than Hope does. But he was also very happy, and inquisitive, and he loved to be cuddled. He was a mama's boy through and through."

"Shocking," Emma said in mock surprise.

"Well, there was that stretch where he hated me," Regina reminded her.

"He never hated you. He was just… struggling."

"Mmhmm," Regina hummed her quiet agreement. "But let's not talk about the past tonight."

"You want to talk about the future instead?"

Regina nodded. "Yes," she said, as she watched Hope's eyes start to close. "This was a big step. Where do we go from here?"

"I don't know," Emma admitted. "But… it's kind of nice not having a plan in mind, isn't it? I mean, look what happened when we just let things take their natural course."

"Fair point. So for now, we'll just live together, sleep together, be…"

"Girlfriends?" Emma suggested with a playful grin.

"I suppose that's what we are now, isn't it?"

Emma's smile widened. "You know, this is the first time we've really talked about this thing we're doing."

"It's about time, isn't?"

Emma raised an eyebrow. "Yeah? Why now?"

"Because Emma, I… I love you."

Emma's breath hitched in her throat for a moment. This wasn't the direction she expected this conversation to take, and for a moment she just stared at Regina.

"You… you do?"

Regina smiled. "Yes. I do."

"Regina, I love you too. I've wanted to tell you for weeks but I just didn't know how, or when or-"

Regina cut Emma off mid-sentence by leaning over to capture her mouth in a long, hard kiss. In that moment, all concern about what the future may or may not hold melted away, and Emma was lost in the moment, feeling completely at peace, at home, and truly loved.


A/N: Since people seem to be on board with the one-shot idea, feel free to send me prompts of one-shots you'd like to see in this verse ;) Decorating the nursery will definitely be one of them… something I'd like to write, but not as part of this actual story.

You can send me prompts on here (in comments or private message) or on my tumblr, rowark-sq

Also, shout out to RedDevilLola for catching the Blink 182 reference… their song Reckless Abandon is what I named this fic after, and that's why I'm calling the series of one-shots "On and on (Reckless Abandon)", which is how the song opens.

Chapter Text

A/N: So there is a bit of a small time jump in this chapter, but don't worry, the things that happen in between chapters 38 and 39 will be the subjects of some of the follow-up one-shots.

Also, I've decided I am going to write an actual sequel as well. It probably won't be as long, and it won't be nearly as angsty, I promise, but I have a fun idea, and, like I said, I'm not ready to let go of this verse… also, I feel like Emma and Regina aren't at the point I'd hoped they'd be at by the end of the story… the story arc is winding down and I feel like there isn't anything left to draw out of it now, but their story is really just starting… so yeah, there will be one-shots and a sequel coming. For sure.

Chapter Thirty Nine


August

It had been a little over six weeks since Emma had moved into the mansion, and Regina was amazed at how well the transition had gone. After everything - and considering who they both were - she'd really expected some hiccups along the way. But other than Emma's bad habit of leaving her shoes wherever she'd taken them off, and leaving her jacket draped over the dining room chair - which, if Regina was being honest with herself, she didn't really mind, as she found she actually liked those reminders that Emma really did live there - everything was damn near perfect.

Almost too perfect. And that had Regina worried.

Decorating the nursery had been an adventure, and it had only taken a few nights to get Hope adjusted to her new room, allowing Regina and Emma to have time alone together at night. Sometimes they talked, sometimes they made love, and sometimes they did a little of both, but either way they went to bed each night and woke up each morning blissfully happy, and in love.

However, around the beginning of the second week of August, Regina had started to notice a change in Emma's demeanor. She seemed stressed, and a little agitated, and spend a great deal of time focusing on whether or not Hope was hitting the milestones she should be at nearly five months old. She compared Hope to the babies of other mothers who posted on the online message boards that Regina had tried to convince her to stay away from, and she worried that Hope wasn't developing as quickly as she should be.

"She's absolutely fine," Regina had insisted, when Emma had pointed out several posts from other mothers whose babies were already rolling from their backs to their tummies.

She hesitated in telling Emma she was needlessly worrying, since Emma was still in her weekly sessions with Archie, and she wasn't sure how much - if any - of this new anxiety was related to her PTSD, but she also knew she couldn't let Emma keep driving herself crazy like this.

The morning of the eighteenth of the month, it all came to a head.

Regina woke to find that Emma was already up, which wasn't common for her. She wasn't exhausted day in and day out any more like she'd once been, but she wasn't an early riser, even on a good. Now that Hope slept in later than she used to, Regina found that she often had to wake Emma up in the morning, usually with a kiss that would be met with a groggy smile and an insistence that she needed "just five more minutes." Regina knew better by now than to allow that, since five minutes was never just five minutes, but she could usually tempt her with the prospect of an early morning shared shower.

This morning, however, Emma wasn't even in the room when Regina's eyes opened. She hadn't heard Hope cry this morning to wake Emma up, so immediately she was concerned.

"Emma?" she called out, as she threw the covers off of herself and stood up from the bed. The en suite bathroom door was open and the light was off, so she grabbed her robe and headed to the hallway instead.

She set off to check Hope's room first, and that was where her search ended when she came across Emma sitting in the rocking chair, looking out the large window, hugging her knees to her chest. Her cheeks were stained with tears and Regina rushed into the room.

"Emma? What's wrong? What happened."

Emma shook her head without looking up. "Nothing happened," she said, quietly.

"Then what's wrong?" Regina asked again, reaching out to cup Emma's face in her hands, so that Emma would look up at her.

Emma swallowed and glanced to where Hope still slept in her crib, before meeting Regina's eyes. "It's stupid. It really is."

"Nothing that has you this upset is stupid, Emma. Just tell me."

"It's my due date."

"Oh," Regina breathed. She'd known that Emma was due in August, but Emma had never told her the day, and after the trauma of Hope's early birth, she'd never brought it up again.

"I know it's ridiculous to be this upset when she's here and she's perfectly fine, but I worry about what it did to her and if she's really okay and…"

Regina nodded. "This is why you've been so worried about her milestones?"

"Yeah."

"Emma, I promise, she's perfectly fine."

Emma nodded. "I know. Logically, I know. But there's more than that. I want another baby."

Regina raised an eyebrow. "I thought we'd already agreed on that?"

"Yeah, I know, but I don't want it to be some distance thing we may or may not do in the future. I want to have another baby now."

"Now?"

"Well, maybe we could start trying now? I mean, I'm not really sure what we can do differently, but we can figure it out and do it. Hope can have a sister close in age and… well, it might sound selfish, but I want to have a good pregnancy. I want to enjoy it. I've never had that chance."

"That's not selfish," Regina said, dropping down to her knees in front of Emma as Emma lowered her legs to the floor. Regina reached forward and took Emma's hands in her own, resting them in Emma's lap as she kneeled and looked up at her. "If you want to try now, then I want to try now. We're in this together, from here on out."

"You're sure?"

"Absolutely."

"Good," Emma said, nodding as she sniffed back the last of her tears. "Because I want to do this with you, one hundred percent of the way. After everything we've been through, I couldn't imagine having another child with anyone else but you."

"Well, I'm glad to hear that," Regina said, smiling as she gave Emma's hand a squeeze, "because I feel the same way."

"And I mean it, I want the whole nine yards: ultrasounds, baby shopping, maternity photos, foot rubs, everything."

"I swear, Emma, I will be the best baby daddy you could ever hope for."

At that, Emma had no choice but to laugh. "I love you, Regina."

"I love you, too," Regina replied, standing to give Emma a long kiss on the mouth before continuing. "And I promise we'll do everything right this time. And I will be there every step of the way."

"And I won't keep any secrets," Emma promised.

"We'll both be honest with each other. About everything."

"Communication is key," Emma said with a grin. "At least that's what Archie keeps telling me."

"He's a wise man. For a cricket."

"Mmhmm," Emma hummed her agreement, before noticing that Regina's attention had suddenly seemed to shift. She glanced over at the direction of Hope's crib, where the baby lay awake now, happily cooing up at the mobile that hung above her crib, fingers outstretched as though she were trying to grab at it. That wasn't out of the ordinary for her, so Emma was confused as to why such a look of shock had washed over Regina's face all of a sudden.

"Regina?" Emma asked, not hiding the sudden worry from her voice. "What? What is it?"

"I don't think we need to worry about Hope's milestones so much."

"What?"

"Emma, look!" Regina pointed to the mobile above the crib.

This time, Emma let her gaze lift up from Hope and land on the mobile, where the little stuffed dragons were following each other in a circle as the mobile seemed to spin of its own accord.

"Did… did you leave it turned on?" Emma asked, quietly.

Regina shook her head quickly. "No… I think she's doing it."

Hope giggled out loud at the sight above her, and kicked her feet happily against the mattress, causing the mobile to bounce and sway as though she'd been kicking it directly.

"Oh, she's definitely doing it," Emma agreed.

"Yes… this is… new."

Emma grinned and shook her head. "I mean… we probably should have seen this coming. Two magical mothers, she's practically made of magic, and the product of true love."

Regina nodded quickly. "I know, I know, I just… I thought it might manifest when she was a little older? She might have learned to walk first?"

"Imagine the response I'll get on that message board when I ask the other mommies if their babies have mastered levitation yet," Emma commented, nodding toward Hope's pacifier that was hovering in midair beside her.

"Don't you dare."

"I'm kidding," Emma insisted, standing up behind Regina and wrapping her arms around her from the back. She let her chin come to rest in the crook of Regina's shoulder. "Do you think it's a coincidence that it manifested for the first time on the day she was supposed to be born?"

"I suppose we could look at it as a second birthday of sorts," Regina suggested, as she watched Hope gleefully snatch the levitating pacifier and put it back in her mouth.

"I wonder if we can teach her to magically change her own diapers?"

Regina let out a small laugh. "I'll leave that one to you. I taught you magic, you can teach it to our daughter."

"You think that's really a good idea?"

Regina shook her head. "No, I think it's a terrible idea. We'll do it together."

"Yeah, I like that better," Emma agreed, squeezing Regina a little tighter. "But not right now. After breakfast."

Regina chuckled. "Of course."


So, one more chapter to go after this one, which will end this story and set up the next one! Feel free to keep sending me prompts for this verse, especially now that I'm in brainstorming mode for the sequel!

Chapter Text

November

Emma truly couldn't believe how quickly five months had gone by living in the mansion. It only seemed like yesterday that she was saying goodbye to her old house, and now she was perfectly at home here. So much had changed: Hope was nearly crawling, Ryleigh had had her first birthday party, and she and Regina had been actively trying to conceive another baby.

They'd poured over every piece of information they could get their hands on, and as far as they could tell, there was a little more than just true love and magic involved. There were cycles of elemental magic in the world that needed to be taken into consideration, and since neither of them really knew how to track those, they decided the best option was to just keep trying until it happened again.

It was more fun that way anyway.

It was a lazy afternoon in mid November, and they had the house to themselves. Henry had taken Hope out for a walk in her stroller with his grandparents and Neal, and Emma and Regina had meant to use this free time to start preparing for the Thanksgiving dinner they'd be hosting next week, but as of yet, they hadn't quite made it off the couch in the living room.

"We really should go to the grocery store," Emma pointed out from where she lay on her back, Regina's body pressed on top of her.

"Mmhmm," Regina agreed, though she made no attempt to get up, and instead leaned closer, to kiss Emma on the mouth.

"And polish the silverware," Emma continued, a teasing lilt in her voice as she broke her lips free from Regina's.

"Yes, of course," Regina agreed again, and kissed her again.

"The laundry's piling up you know," Emma continued, biting back her smile.

"We should definitely do the laundry," Regina said before kissing Emma longer and harder.

Emma raised an eyebrow when Regina stopped kissing her. "We're not going to do those things, are we?"

This time, Regina just smiled and shook her head, kissing Emma yet again.

"Didn't think so…"

"You don't sound terribly disappointed," Regina pointed out.

"Well, we've never had sex in the living room. We probably shouldn't let this opportunity go to waste."

Regina grinned and kissed her again. "Probably not."

"And the grocery store will still be there tomorrow," Emma reasoned.

"Mmhmm," Regina agreed, moving to nuzzle against Emma's neck, kissing the skin there.

All prior thoughts of everything they needed to do fled from Emma's mind as she ran her fingers through Regina's hair. Regina was gently biting at her earlobe and Emma couldn't help the moan that escaped from her throat.

It wasn't long before Regina was sitting up, her thighs on either side of Emma's hips, as she pulled her shirt over her head. Her bra was the next thing to go, and before Emma could really appreciate the view before her, Regina's fingers were grabbing at the fabric off Emma's tank top, working it up as Emma lifted her back and shoulders from the couch, allowing Regina to pull it off of her completely.

Regina let out a low growl as she realized their pants were going to be harder to remove from this position, and with a wave of her hand, she removed the rest of their clothing. Emma was used to the feeling of Regina's magic on and around her by now, but something felt more charged, more urgent and intense than it usually did.

She couldn't dwell on the change though, because Regina was kissing her collarbones fervently as the fingers of her right hand trailed their way down her torso, and over her pelvis, as Regina shimmied herself back, moving one leg and then the other until she was kneeling between Emma's thighs.

Emma felt an unfamiliar and yet familiar spark in Regina's fingers when they finally made contact with her sex. She gasped at the intensity, but Regina didn't seem to notice anything out of the ordinary.

Emma could feel time slowing down as she lost herself in the feeling, and she knew - even before the bright white flash of magic illuminated the room - exactly what was happening. She knew the unique feel of Regina's magic by now, and she felt the surge as it entered her threw Regina's fingers, filling her so full she thought she might burst. Her eyes snapped open as she came, just in time to see that telltale white flash she'd seen that very first time.

Her eyes met Regina's after a few moments, and even in her post-orgasm bliss, she couldn't miss the surprise on Regina's face.

"Did that… just…" Regina stammed.

And Emma grinned as she closed her eyes again. "Yeah."


Thanksgiving

By the time Thanksgiving rolled around, Emma knew. She hadn't needed a pregnancy test to confirm, as the magic sickness had set in almost immediately, just as it had when she was pregnant with Hope. This time, however, she had Regina - and Regina's magic - and she was feeling healthy and alert in a way she never really had with Hope.

"Need any help?" she asked, as she stepped up behind Regina who was stirring the gravy on the stove. She slipped her arms around Regina's waist and kissed her neck before resting her head on her shoulder.

"Is this how you plan on helping?" Regina asked, and Emma could swear she could hear the raised eyebrow in her voice.

"Mmhmm," Emma hummed, nodding against Regina's shoulder. "It's Thanksgiving and I'm being thankful and, you know, showing my gratitude."

"Are you sure you didn't just want to get closer to the food before dinner?"

"Well, I am eating for two, you know. Did you get pickles?"

Regina chuckled as she set the wooden spoon down and reached back to run her fingers through Emma's hair. "Of course I did. I told you, didn't I?"

"That you were gonna be the best baby daddy ever?"

"Yes. But if you tell anyone I said that, I'll kill you."

Emma gasped in mock surprise. "You would never! You love me too much."

"You're right," Regina agreed, turning in Emma's arms so that she could face her, and give her a quick kiss on the lips. "I do. But I also hear the door."

"They can let themselves in," Emma insisted, squeezing Regina a little tighter.

Regina chuckled, and pulled herself away. "Watch the gravy," she said, handing Emma the spoon before giving her another quick peck.

"Fine," Emma sighed, smiling as she watched Regina leave the kitchen and head to the door. She turned her attention back to the gravy, giving it a lazy stir.

Ever since she'd gotten pregnant, she found it hard to be away from Regina even for a second. She could feel Regina's magic inside her all the time - she could recognize it as clear as day now, just as Mal had said she would, eventually - and it led to Regina being on her mind even more than she usually was.

She found herself in disbelief now that she'd ever managed to get through the months of pregnancy she did with Hope, without having Regina around. With Regina's magical boosts several times a day, Emma found herself full of energy and in good spirits, without any traces of sickness or dizziness. This was the bliss of magical pregnancy she'd read about in old books when she and Regina had done their research.

This was all that she'd wanted.

Emma smiled to herself as she felt Mal's and Zelena's magical essence behind her. She'd become extremely adept at recognizing individual signatures, and it was heightened now that she was pregnant. She turned, and tilted her head to the side when she found only Mal had entered the kitchen.

"What's wrong?" Mal asked, immediately noting the look of confusion on Emma's face.

Emma shook her head. "Nothing. I just thought I was getting really good at picking up magical essences. Maybe I'm not as good as I think."

"You didn't feel me?"

"No, I did. I just thought I felt Zelena, too."

Mal took a couple steps closer to Emma and smiled, and Emma could have sworn she felt Zelena's magic even stronger than before, though she could clearly hear her talking to Regina in the other room now. It took a moment, and then it hit her.

"Oh my God!" she gasped, her eyes involuntarily snapping to Mal's abdomen. "You're…"

Mal raised an eyebrow as her smile widened. "I'd say I'm in about the same condition you are."

Emma's laid a hand on her own abdomen. "You can feel her."

Mal nodded. "Just like the first time. Just like you can feel mine."

"Oh, Mal," Emma said, dropping the spoon back into the pot she'd been stirring without a second thought to how it splashed gravy onto Regina's immaculate stovetop. She quickly closed the distance between them and pulled Mal into a tight hug. "This is so amazing!"

Mal squeezed her back. "I know. You're not the only one who wanted a second shot at this, you know."

Emma nodded. She and Mal hadn't talked much about her pregnancy with Lily, but she knew enough to know it wasn't easy on her. "Does Lily know?"

Mal sighed and pulled back from Emma a bit, to look at her face. "She does. She's… less than thrilled. I was hoping maybe you could talk to her? You've been there, experiencing your mother carry a new child when she didn't raise you. You could probably relate to her best."

Emma nodded quickly. "I will."

"Thank you."

"Oh my God, did Regina realize when you came in?"

Mal shook her head. "I don't think so. Zelena was with me then, she wouldn't have realized… we were going to make the announcement tonight, once everyone was here. Unless you'd like us to wait. I don't want to steal your thunder."

"Well, my parents and Henry already know, and now you, so Zelena and Lily are the only ones left to tell, I guess."

"Well, we could do it right now then. Zelena and Regina both deserve to know they're both going to be aunties."

Emma grinned and grabbed Mal by the hand, pulling her along with her to the living room where everyone was. Her parents hadn't arrived yet, but Henry was already playing with Ryleigh on the floor and Zelena had Hope in her arms, giving her as many kisses as she could as the little one giggled and squirmed in her arms. Lily was watching Zelena with keen interest, but Emma couldn't quite tell her mood from her face.

Emma met Regina's eyes across the room, and she smiled. Soon her parents would arrive with Neal and the house would feel fuller and louder than it ever had, but still Emma could tell Regina was loving it just as much as she was.

She wasn't quite sure how to make the announcement, but luckily, Zelena beat her to the punch.

"Well, darling," she said, looking over at Mal. "What do you think? Is now a good a time as any to make our little announcement?"

"What announcement?" Regina asked.

"The same one we were going to make when they got here," Emma replied, winking at Regina.

Regina looked back and forth between Zelena and Mal for a moment, until it hit her. "You're having a baby?"

Mal smiled and nodded. "We are."

"Wait," Zelena cut in. "Are you two having a baby?"

"Yeah," Emma replied. For a moment, she wasn't sure if Zelena was going to laugh or cry, and she suddenly worried that her jealous streak would rear its ugly head once again. But instead, she turned and handing Hope to Lily, and crossed the room to give Regina a tight hug.

"Congratulations," Zelena said, quietly, but loud enough that Emma could hear.

Emma watched the complex emotions displaying on Regina's face, and she knew this was a huge breakthrough for them. As much as Regina hated to admit it, she did crave a closer relationship with her sister, and Emma couldn't help but hope this was a step in the right direction.

"So, I'm gonna have a sister and a cousin," Henry said, grinning and nodding from his place on the floor.

"Imagine what a houseful we'll have next Thanksgiving," Mal commented.

Emma's eyes met Regina's again, and they shared an unspoken moment. Neither of them had mentioned what happened last Thanksgiving at all, all month, but Emma couldn't help but marvel at how everything had come full circle.

Everything she had now: Hope, this house, her girlfriend, her son under the same roof as her every day… everything had been the result of herself and Regina getting a little too tipsy and a little too lost in each other that night. In the weeks that had followed, if anyone would have tried to tell Emma that just one year later she'd be in a home filled with family, hosting Thanksgiving dinner with the woman she loved, she'd have thought they were crazy.

And maybe they were both a little bit crazy for taking that plunge, and giving love a chance when they were both been burned before - sometimes by each other - but standing in this living room right now, Emma knew without a doubt there was no place else she'd rather be.


"This is where it all started," Emma mused. It was past eleven and everyone had gone home after a loud and hectic but ultimately successful Thanksgiving dinner. The kids were in bed and Emma was laying in Regina's arms, her head on Regina's chest.

"Hmm?" Regina hummed, as she threaded her fingers lazily through Emma's hair.

"Last Thanksgiving, in your bedroom… in your bed. That's where this whole thing started."

"It's your bedroom now too, you know," Regina reminded her.

"Yeah, I know. I'm still getting used to saying that."

"You've thinking about last Thanksgiving?"

"A little bit," Emma admitted.

"Stay."

"What?" Emma asked, turning her head to look at Regina in confusion.

"Last Thanksgiving, I told you to leave. And now I'm asking you to stay."

"I live here," Emma reminded her with a small grin. "Of course I'm going to stay. Where else would I go?"

"I don't just mean tonight, Emma. Or just for now, or just for a while… stay here, Emma, with me, forever. Live with me forever. Marry me, be my wife, love me forever. And I'll do the same for you."

"You want to get married?"

Regina nodded. "It's about time I made an honest woman out of you."

Emma's cheeky grin fell away as she realized Regina really was serious."You're the only one who could."

"I know. Emma, I love you. Marry me."

Emma sniffed back a tear threatening to fall as she moved herself up to meet Regina's lips, kissing her long and hard before breaking away to look in her eyes. "Yes."

The End


A/N: I just want to say a big thank you to everyone who went on this ride with me! This story has been a journey, and while I'm sad it's over, I'm excited for the sequel. I fully understand if some of you would like to let this story end here, but for everyone who wants more, I can't wait to embark on that next journey with you too!

Much love,

Row.