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As Fate Would Have It

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Excerpt:

“ENOUGH!” Zelena shouted, standing up and gripping both women by their arms, dragging them into the back hall that led to other rooms. When she finally stopped, she whirled around and fixed the two women with a glare of her own, crossing her arms and shifting her weight to one foot. “Do I need to get you two a room, because you’re fighting like some old married couple!”

Regina and Emma dragged their eyes to look at each other across the distance they had placed between them. Regina felt something nagging at her as she looked at Emma’s red face, but she pushed it down and shifted her gaze to her sister as she continued.


 

 

Regina pinched the bridge of her nose against the headache that had a death grip on the back of her eyes. It had been almost a month since she laid Robin Hood to rest in the Storybrooke Cemetery, the rest of the townspeople crowded around her in sympathy, her sister Zelena by her side, with newly named baby Robin, through the whole service.

Everyone.....except Emma.

Regina sighed. She knew Emma had been there for as long as she could, but as the actual burial took place, Regina couldn't fault her for wandering to the grave of her own love, the famous pirate, Killian Jones, more commonly known as Captain Hook. Regina let out a humorless laugh as she thought about her and Emma’s apparent taste for thieves.

Seems best friends really do share everything.

The sudden tingle in the air had the corners of her lips twitching as she felt the familiar tendrils of magic pulling at her. The pain behind her eyes eased away into nothingness, her mind becoming less cloudy as she pushed the thoughts of Robin’s funeral to the back of her mind. She opened her eyes and focused on the woman propped against the doorframe to her study, arms folded across her chest, feet crossed at the ankles. The only light on in the study was her desk lamp, but she didn’t need the light to see the woman’s head of loose, golden curls, and the small smirk on her face for having snuck up on Regina.

Speak of the devil. Er, think.

“You know, you might not get a headache straining to read those papers if you actually turned some more lights on.” The lights suddenly flicked on and Regina saw that smirk that she knew was on Emma’s face, even if it was smaller these days.

“Maybe I like reading in the dark?” Regina said, rolling her eyes.

“Yeah? And I like bear claws, but you don’t see me eating them twenty-four seven.  Some things are bad for you.”

Regina quirked an eyebrow at the other woman, the corners of her mouth turning up in a small smile. Shuffling the papers on her desk, she shook her head at Emma and went back to reading over the town planning papers Mary Margaret had dropped off earlier, asking her to look over them for the next council meeting. Emma let out a low chuckle when Regina didn’t respond to her remark and pushed off from the wall, crossing over to the desk and coming up behind her. She frowned when she saw the paperwork.

“Are you taking over as Mayor again?” she asked.

“No, I’m just reviewing these for your mother. I guess I’m a reserve mayor or something.” Regina frowned. “Though now that I think about it, this really isn’t my job anymore. I don’t know why I’m taking it this seriously.”

It’s one thing if she was getting paid to do it, but she wasn’t. Yeah, yeah, she could do a nice thing, but this was the third file Mary Margaret had dropped off this week, and it was only Thursday. Still frowning, she gathered the papers up and put them back in the file. The new Mayor needed to learn how to maneuver city planning on her own, like Regina did when they first arrived in Storybrooke. Besides, Regina didn’t have this kind of help, and though she didn’t necessarily mind helping out, she had other things going on in her life right now she should be focusing on. Like finding a new job, connecting with her sister, or like spending time with Henry.

Or what the hell Emma was doing here anyway.

Regina let the breath out she hadn’t realized she’d been holding and stood up. Emma took several steps back so as not to get hit by the desk chair as Regina turned to face her.

“Regardless, to what do I owe this pleasure?”

Emma leaned back, shoving her hands in her back pockets. “We were supposed to meet everyone at Granny’s half an hour ago....?”

Regina’s face fell. She had forgotten all about the family dinner Henry had asked to have at Granny’s earlier in the week. Family meaning Zelena and baby Robin, Mary Margaret and David with baby Neal, Emma, Henry, and Regina herself. Here she was complaining about the paperwork keeping her away from her family when in reality, it was her keeping her distance. If she was being honest with herself, she was putting her walls back up. It was easier to handle the sympathetic looks and sideways glances that way, though it would be easier if Henry and Emma weren’t the two people in this town who could crash through her walls with a toothpick.

“Regina?”

She snapped out of her self-depreciating thoughts at the sound of Emma’s voice. She hadn’t even seen her cross the room to the door, where she stood in the doorway waiting.

“I’m sorry. I forgot.” Regina finally said, shaking herself the rest of the way out of her head. “Let me just grab my coat.”

“Already got it.” Emma grinned and held it open for Regina to slip into.

Regina rolled her eyes, a smile playing at her lips as she turned around to slip her arms into the open coat. “Always trying to rush me. Can’t let a woman have a moment to herself.”

Emma laughed as Regina brushed past her out of the study and headed for the front door. “If I recall correctly, you’re the one who has the uncanny knack of popping up everywhere in my life. To be honest though, if you didn’t want me popping up, you never should have given me the spare key to your house.”

Regina only rolled her eyes again as they exited the manor, walking down the walkway to where Emma’s old yellow VW bug was parked on the opposite side of the street. It was nice to hear Emma laugh again, as both of them rarely did so these days, really only when the other was around, or with Henry. Getting in the car, Regina checked her phone to see three missed messages from Henry.

At Granny’s. Where r u?

On the way yet? Family dinner night!

Guess u forgot. Emma’s on the way. Ordered ur favorite. 

Regina’s face fell as Emma started the car. Emma frowned, noticing the other woman’s mood. As she pulled out onto the street, she turned the radio on low to distract Regina’s mind. Music always helped Emma come out of her mind a little when she just couldn’t be around others. Regina tapped a quick answer back to her son and slipped her phone back into her pocket. She was silent for a moment, staring out the window lost in thought, before she felt a hand on her arm. Startled, Regina shifted her attention to the hand, before bringing her eyes up to its owner’s face. Emma smiled a small smile at Regina, who smiled back softly. A moment of understanding passed between the two women before Emma pulled her hand back to the steering wheel, turning her attention back to the road. Regina stared down at her arm where Emma’s hand had been, touched by the gesture. She shifted in her seat and ignored the small tinge of disappointment she felt when Emma removed it.

Pulling up at the diner, Emma parked across the street and shut the car off, getting out and locking it out of habit when Regina had shut her door. It’s not like someone in this town would steal her car, but it was a habit that couldn’t hurt.

Regina crossed the street with haste, not wanting to keep Henry waiting any longer than she already had, and quickly crossed the outdoor dining area and climbed the few steps to the door. Pushing it open and stepping inside, the smell of food hit her nose as she swung her eyes through the restaurant searching for that familiar head of brown hair.

“Mom!” Henry called, breaking into a grin and standing up from his seat next to David, motioning the two women over.

Regina smiled and crossed the diner, accepting Henry’s embrace as she reached the table. “Sorry I’m late.”

A chorus of smiles and hellos passed around the table as Regina took her seat next to Zelena, across from Henry. Emma plopped down in the last chair, at the end of the row of tables they had pushed together to accommodate the crowd, situated between Regina and their son. Zelena placed her hand on Regina’s shoulder and gave her a quick kiss on the cheek in hello before turning back to her daughter to give her a bottle.

“Caught up in paperwork again mom?” Henry asked.

Regina felt a pang in her heart at his tone, as if this was a normal occurrence. She supposed it was as of late, but the guilt she felt didn’t assure her that it was worth it. “Unfortunately,” she sighed, meeting his eyes. “but no more. I am done with paperwork for a while. I am going to spend more time with my family.”

She grabbed his hands across the table and gave them a light squeeze as he smiled at her. She felt Mary Margaret’s eyes on her, but before the pixie haired woman could speak, Ruby was arriving with the table’s orders.

“Steak with steamed veggies and a cheeseburger with onion rings.” Ruby finished, placing the last two meals in front of Regina and Emma. As the smell of her steak hits her nose, Regina’s stomach lets out a low rumble and she realizes how long it’s been since she last ate. Emma cracks a smile out the corner of her eye at her, but Regina ignores her and begins to cut her steak into smaller pieces before eating.

Light banter is struck up around the table, Zelena and Mary Margaret discussing burping techniques; David, having taken over the Storybrooke Animal Shelter, telling Henry and Emma about a dog who got loose from the bath and ran all over the clinic, Henry’s nose wrinkling up as he laughed. Regina smiled at her son and glanced at Emma. The blonde’s eyes met hers and smirked at her, before shoveling three onion rings in her mouth. Regina scrunched her face up at the other woman’s eating habits, rolling her eyes and turning back to finish her meal. Emma’s light laughter reached her ears and Regina shook her head, the corners of her lips twitching in amusement. Ruby came by not long after that, clearing away the empty plates before returning with a tray of coffee and two hot chocolates, with whipped cream and cinnamon, for Henry and Emma.

Zelena had just excused herself from discussing job opportunities with her sister to use the bathroom when Mary Margaret turned her attention to Regina over Zelena’s empty seat.

“How did the town planning paperwork look, Regina?” she asked.

“I was meaning to talk to you about that. It looks fine, but I think I’m going to have to let this be the last papers I look over.” Regina looked up at the woman from where she had been cooing at her niece. Mary Margaret frowned slightly, but Regina continued. “It’s not that I mind much, but I think you can tackle this without outside help. Besides, I need to take some time and focus on other areas of my life right now, namely my son, so I don’t have the time to look over your work.”

Regina rocked baby Robin’s car seat while she studied the woman’s face. She had chosen her words carefully, not wanting to be rude. Their old rivalry in the past, Regina had actually come to like the woman, somewhat, though she’d be the last to admit it. And maybe not even then.

The pixie haired woman nodded, “I understand. You need to take some time to enjoy life and your family.” Mary Margaret stretched her hand across the table and covered Regina’s free one. “How are you doing?”

Irritation flared up inside Regina. There it was. The sympathy in her eyes, the pained smile on her face. The soft and hesitant tone she used as if she was afraid that if she talked at a normal level, she’d shatter through whatever fragile emotions Regina had and break her into a million pieces. It was the same look, the same smile, the same tone she’d gotten from everyone in town every time she stepped outside her door. She couldn’t go to the grocery store, walk down the street, or even pick her son up from school without getting that look from everyone she passed. If she was honest with herself, this was one of the biggest reasons she had thrown herself into the town’s paperwork, to avoid going out and dealing with the same routine over and over. Regina wasn’t a child, and she wasn’t some fragile piece of art that could break at any moment.

“I’m just fine, thank you.” Regina snatched her hand from Mary Margaret’s. “I can handle things just fine.”

The other woman started, sitting up straight and blinking at Regina with wide eyes. Regina glared at her before noticing the table had gone quiet. She turned her head to see Henry, David, and Emma staring at her, David and Henry’s mouths pressed into thin lines. Emma’s eyes bored into Regina, her brows gathered low over her eyes in annoyance.

“Well damn, Regina. Calm down. It was only a question.”

Regina sat back in her chair, looking down at her hands as she folded them in her lap. “I am calm. I simply answered her question.”

Zelena chose to return to the table then, pausing and lowering herself slowly into her seat at the obvious tension in the air. “What’d I miss?”

“Nothing,” Emma answered. “Just Regina biting my mother’s head off for asking a question.”

Regina shot the blonde woman a glare. “I was not! I answered her truthfully. If she didn’t want my answer, she shouldn’t have asked.”

“That’s no reason to be rude!” Emma’s hands slapped the table. “Would you rather she not give a rat’s ass about your feelings?!”

“I’d rather she mind her own business! That’s all anyone can say to me anymore! If they can’t think of anything else to say, then they shouldn’t say anything at all!”

Emma jumped up from her seat, voice rising. “You hardly talk to anyone! You barely come out of your house anymore! How is anyone supposed to know how you’re doing unless they ask?!”

Regina stood as well, pressing her palms down flat on the table as she leaned towards the blonde woman. Neal began to cry from the other end of the table. “Did it ever occur to anyone that maybe I don’t want to be talked to?! Maybe I stay in my house to get away from everyone and their incessant questions?!”

“Oh woe is me, Regina!” Emma rolled her eyes. “Did it ever occur to you that people might actually CARE about you? That they might actually worry about you and think of you?! NEWSFLASH, Regina! You’re not the only one who lost someone recently!”

“ENOUGH!” Zelena shouted, standing up and gripping both women by their arms, dragging them into the back hall that led to other rooms. When she finally stopped, she whirled around and fixed the two women with a glare of her own, crossing her arms and shifting her weight to one foot. “Do I need to get you two a room, because you’re fighting like some old married couple!”

Regina and Emma dragged their eyes to look at each other across the distance they had placed between them. Regina felt something nagging at her as she looked at Emma’s red face, but she pushed it down and shifted her gaze to her sister as she continued.

“No? No answer? Good. Remember this silence and go out there and play nice for your son who spent a lot of time organizing this dinner, and for me because I did not spend all this time wanting a family to watch it fall apart over stupid egos!”

The other two women looked at their feet, embarrassed but unwilling to apologize. Zelena pegged them with another glare before brushing past them and rejoining the rest of their party. Alone in the hallway, the two women looked everywhere but at each other. Emma shuffled her feet, suddenly very interested in her boots. Regina swung her arms, trying to relieve the tension in her shoulders.

Emma sighed. “She’s right, you know.”

“I’m aware.”

Emma bit back a smart remark and let out a shallow breath. “Look, let’s just call a truce. For Henry and Zelena’s sake.”

Regina finally turned to face Emma, seeing her hand outstretched for a handshake. She jutted her chin out, not wanting her agreement to this truce to mean that she was apologetic, and grabbed Emma’s hand, giving it a shake. Emma’s fingers clasped around the brunette’s hand, returning the shake, but she let her hand linger for a few extra heartbeats before releasing her grip. Regina chose to ignore the extended shake as well as the strange bundle of nerves in her stomach. Turning away, she sauntered back out into the room with Emma hot on her heels.

The awkward air that hung around the table made Regina wince, but she suppressed it before it reached her face. Mary Margaret gave her a wary look, and Regina forced a small smile at the woman. She knew she had been a bit unreasonable, but she wasn’t ready to admit it yet. Especially not in front of everyone. She could feel Emma’s eyes on her, however, so she tried to make her smile more convincing until Mary Margaret turned back to her conversation with Zelena.

“Can we mom?!” Henry’s voice brought her head back in his direction.

“I’m sorry?”

“A dog! Can we get a dog?” Henry looked at her with eyes the size of saucers and a huge grin plastered across his face.

Regina chuckled and smiled, “I’ll think about it.” Henry opened his mouth to protest. “We will discuss it when you get that history grade up, young man!”

Henry ducked his head sheepishly at his mother’s gentle scolding. Emma leaned down, “What’s this? You said you had good grades!”

“It’s not my fault history is boring.” Henry defended. “If it was the history of fairytales, I’d have an A!”

The sounds of laughter were heard around the table as the tension eased out of the group. Emma ruffled her son’s hair in response before launching into a conversation with Henry about her own schooling.

David turned to take Neal from his wife and Regina caught her eye. Feeling sheepish herself, she opened her mouth to apologize when the familiar ripple of magic in the air washed over her. Zelena stiffened in her seat and Regina heard the scrape of a chair as Emma stood up, both having felt it, too.

“Regina.....?” Emma started.

“Yeah, I felt it, too.” She stood from her seat and locked eyes with the blonde before turning and rushing for the door. She burst outside and into the street, Emma hot on her heels with Zelena close behind.

“Do you think it’s Rumplestiltskin?” Zelena asked.

Regina didn’t answer as she slowly spun in a circle, trying to zero in on where the magic was emanating from. “No, I don’t think so. Look!” She had stopped spinning when she spotted a pillar of light coming from the mayor’s office. 

“What the hell is that?!” Emma asked from behind, her voice sounding incredibly close to Regina’s ear.

The brunette gritted her teeth. “That, my dear, is a portal. Storybrooke is about to have a new visitor.”

Chapter Text


Excerpt:

“You believe yourself to be one of the most powerful beings in the world, but I know what you really are; what you always have been, Rumplestiltskin.”

She moved closer until her face was mere inches from the imp’s. “A coward.”


 

 

Her footsteps made no sound as she all but floated across the smooth stone floor through the large castle made of metal and dark stone. She looked small in her light-colored gown compared to the towering, dark blue-black walls that seemed to stretch on and on, the same walls branching off in three other directions at every turn. One could easily get lost in this place, but she knew exactly where she was going. The small ticking accompanied by the sound of a whistling teapot announced that the little clockwork robot had finally caught up to her.

“M-m-mistress, one has to make an appointment to s-see him!” Wilkins said, stuttering as it tried not to trip on the bottom of her skirts pooling around her bare feet.

“I am well aware of his rules, Wilkins, as I am the one who made them.” She responded, sparing a small glance down at the robot but never breaking her stride.

Wilkins clasped his metallic hands together, bowing his head as he jumped her skirts again. “Yes, but he has been very busy as of late—“

“I was summoned here, therefore I do not need an appointment.” She gathered her skirts as she ascended a few steps. “Besides, he will see me. After all, he is my father.”

She turned the last corner and headed for the carved metal doors at the end of the hall, leaving the little robot puffing nervously behind.


Pushing her way through the heavy doors, she made her way into the room her father used as a study. She had only been in this room once before, when she was brought to him not long after her birth. The time where he decided what to do with her, and decided who would raise her. She traced her fingers along the bookshelf, dusting lightly over the knickknacks gathered on the shelves over the years. Souvenirs from the era where the citizens of Underland actually saw him leave his castle. It was an era long forgotten.

Fortunately, she didn’t have long to dwell on that before the door at the back of the study swung open to reveal him. She spun around, her face passive as he tinkered with the watch in his hands.

“I have heard that you have been traveling to the Scales again.” He said, not looking up from his work.

A flicker of annoyance flashed across her face before returning to its previous passive state. “If you mean the scales that weigh the good in the world versus the evil, then yes.”

He glanced up at her face and she met his level stare with her own. Silence stretched on for a full minute before he turned his back to her to grab a tool from his shelf. “I have told you many times that while you hold the fate of all beings in your power, we must remain neutral entities, Ananke.”

Ananke thrusted her chin in defiance. “What good is it to hold the universe’s fate throughout all time just to watch it destroy itself? I can’t sit by any longer and watch these beings make the wrong choices when I hold the power to show them the right ones!”

The sound of a pocket watch snapping shut filled the air as he whipped around, bright blue eyes sparking. She felt the small pull on her mind as the being whose life the watch represented passed from the living world.  “What have you done, Ananke? What have you changed?!”

“It is only for the better. The Evil Queen has been unleashed on the world, and Regina—“

“Enough! I do not interfere with these beings throughout time because I am Time! I can only be in the past and present, so I do not dare change the future! Even though you hold the keys and are able to see the future yourself does not give you right to change it!” His eyes were emitting sparks now as his own internal clockwork was heating up over his strain.

He sighed and pulled his robes open to let the steam escape from the clock in the center of his chest. She had three of the same clocks herself, two on her collarbones under the halter neck strap of her gown and one situated between her breasts, to represent the past, present, and future.

Time rubbed his eyes, and sat down at his desk. “Oi, why do you and that infuriating girl vex me so?”

“Alice?” she asked.

“Yes, Alice!” Time threw his hands in the air as a young blonde girl poked her head into the study.

“You called?” Alice asked.

“It is time for you to go.” Time stood up and crossed to stand in front of Alice, placing his hands on her shoulders. “Time is a friend to no man, but I remember you always. But please, do not come back.”

“Ananke, please take Alice back to her world.” He turned around, but paused before sitting down again. “And come back from their world.”

Ananke smiled sickeningly sweet and looped her arm through Alice’s. “Of course, Father. What else would I do?”

With that, she spun on her heel and left the study, pulling Alice along with her. Time watched them go before collapsing, exhausted, into his chair. Wilkins shuffled in moments later with a tray of tea and set it down on the desk.

“Are you alright, sir?”

Time rubbed his temples. “Wilkins, do not have a child.”


Alice Kingsleigh struggled to keep her footing as the strange young woman all but dragged her through the long halls of Time’s castle. For someone who seemed so dainty, she had a surprisingly strong grip on Alice’s arm and a powerful stride that propelled them forward.

Curious, Alice thought to herself, taking a few moments to take in the other woman’s appearance. Her hair was a rich brown, almost black color that cascaded down her shoulders in large, loose curls and stopped midway down her back. The top half of her hair and bangs were swept back behind her head, wrapped around a spool used for thread and pinned in place by a small spindle. A gold chain headpiece stretched from each side of the spool to a stone Alice had never seen before resting against her forehead. Though the bottom of the woman’s long gown kept catching under Alice’s boots, the other woman seemed to have no trouble at all. Alice swore she saw bare feet peeking from under her skirts, and if she listened hard enough, she could almost hear a faint ticking.

“Curiouser and curiouser.” Alice breathed, her face scrunched up as she tried to decide what to make of the woman. The corners of the woman’s mouth twitched up in amusement at Alice’s words.

“Pardon me, but where is it you are taking me, Miss...?” She finally asked.

“Ananke.” When Alice just looked at her in confusion, she smiled before she continued. “My name is Ananke. I am taking you back from Underland to your world.”

“Hello, Ananke. My name is Alice.”

Ananke’s laugh tinkled in her ears. “I know who you are, Alice Kingsleigh.” They turned a corner and headed for the large arched doors that marked the front door of the castle. Alice frowned as they pushed through the doors and made their way down the path back to Underland.

“Forgive me for asking, but why do you have to take me back? The way back usually appears when it is time for me to return.” She asked after walking in silence for some time.

Alice frowned deeper as the woman’s laughter rang out again. “Let’s just say, there’s been a change of plans.”

Alice couldn’t help but feel as if she was being made fun of, and that did not sit well with her at all. Alice Kingsleigh was not some silly girl and she would not have anyone thinking such things. But before she could open her mouth to reprimand the young woman, Ananke was pulling her through the door and back into The White Queen Mirana’s tower room. The White Queen herself was waiting there, but though she was happy to see Alice, she seemed startled by the company she kept.

“Ah! Mirana of Mamoreal! How nice to see you again.” Ananke smiled at her, tipping her head only slightly and finally letting go of Alice’s arm. Alice looked at her curiously again as she curtsied for the queen and gave her own greeting.

The White Queen nodded her acknowledgements at Alice’s show of respect before curtsying herself to Ananke. “Benevolent Anake, how nice it is to see you again. Though I am to assume it is under happier circumstances this time?”

Anake’s laugh tinkled in the air again. “Why yes my dear, but as you know, those were not my decisions. But all is well now and it is behind us all.”

Alice, oft known for being unable to hold her tongue, blurted out the questions burning in her mind. “What is going on here? Who is this woman?”

Mirana looked at Alice. “Why Alice, this is Ananke, daughter of Time, goddess of Fate.”

Ananke’s lips twitched as Alice looked between her and The White Queen in disbelief. Several moments of silence stretched forward before Ananke again grabbed Alice’s arm and waved her hand, a door appearing out of nothing. “Alice, dear, do pick your jaw up off the floor. Tsk, tsk. And here I thought you might actually be open to believing seven impossible things before breakfast.” Turning to the queen, she said “Well, must get Alice home now. May your future be a pleasant one, Mirana.”

The White Queen watched with mixed emotions as the two women opened the door and passed through the portal, leaving Underland far behind.


STORYBROOKE

Emma felt the familiar feeling of dread dropping into the pit of her stomach at Regina’s words. As much as she didn’t want to keep fighting with the brunette woman, she’d much rather go back to that than face whatever, or whoever, was making their way into their town. Regina whipped around to say something and bumped into her, Emma quickly bringing her arms up to wrap around the other woman’s lithe form before she fell. Regina paused in Emma’s embrace, catching her eyes and for some reason, unable to look away. Emma could feel a strange sensation mixing with the dread in the pit of her stomach as the moment stretched out longer than she intended. A throat clearing behind them had Emma’s arms dropping, Regina pushing back from her and stepping away. Emma ignored the sensation again at the loss of warmth and turned to Zelena, who eyed the two women with suspicion in her eyes.

“Zelena, go back inside and let the others know what’s going on.” Regina demanded, slipping into her no-nonsense demeanor Emma liked to call her “Madame Mayor” side. “Emma, you’re with me.”

Emma had barely managed a nod before Regina was already at the car, tugging uselessly at the handle. Reaching into her pocket, Emma sheepishly took out the keys and opened her door, getting in and leaning over to open Regina’s. She ignored the glare she knew she was receiving from the other woman and started the car, throwing it in drive as soon as the engine sputtered into life.

“Emma!” Regina protested, grabbing the console and the passenger side door to steady herself as the blonde pulled a sharp U-turn and punched the accelerator, tearing through the streets of Storybrooke as fast as the old car could go.

“Regina, now is not the time to comment on my driving skills!”

“Well, I’d like to make it there alive!”

“Relax. I’ll make sure you get there alive, just maybe in a few pieces.” Emma grumbled out the corner of her mouth.

Regina pinched the bridge of her nose again. “You’re so infuriating sometimes.”

Emma smirked as she turned the corner, Regina clinging to her seat to keep from flying about inside the car, and headed for the mayor’s office at the end of the street. “Aww, Gina, I care about you, too.”

Regina continued to hold her nose, but her lips curled into a smirk despite her annoyance. “I don’t remember saying that.”

Emma rolled her eyes playfully as she parked the car. “Oh, come on. We both know I’m irresistible.”

Regina scoffed and the two women jumped from the car, the brunette fishing in her pocket and bringing out a large set of keys and shoving one into the lock. Emma quirked an eyebrow at her.

“What? You didn’t think I’d hand over the keys without making copies, did you?” Regina rolled her eyes. “Come on, Emma, it’s not like I use them regularly; only for emergencies.” Emma frowned at her, but followed her anyway into the foyer and leaping up the steps to the second floor. The light seemed to be coming from the actual office of the mayor, the door slightly ajar.

“Regina, wait.” Emma whispered, grabbing the brunette’s arm and pulling her back before she could reach the door.

“Emma, what are you—“ but she cut off as Emma pressed a finger to her lips and pointed to the door. Two distinct female voices could be heard from the room ahead. They seemed to be arguing.

“I thought you were taking me home?”

“I was. I mean, I am. Hold on, give me a minute. I’m new at this.”

“You’re new at this?! I thought you were some all-powerful—“

“I AM! I meant new at portal jumping, not my cosmic duty!”

Emma watched Regina’s face scrunch up in confusion. “’Cosmic duty’?” she whispered loudly.

Emma clapped her hand over Regina’s mouth as the voices suddenly ceased. Regina reached up in a feeble attempt to pry Emma’s hand off her mouth but paused as a hushed whispering came from the office.

Did you hear that?!”

“Yes. I think someone’s in here.”

Silence fell on both parties, both listening for sounds of the other. Emma began to wonder if the other two women had gone back through the portal, but the fading light suggested that the portal was closing. Regina, realizing Emma’s hand was still on her face, leaned back as she tried to pry the blonde’s fingers off of her mouth. Both women froze as the keys in Regina’s coat pocket jingled in the deafening silence. Emma sucked in a breath, finally removing her hand from the brunette’s face and hoping like hell that the couple in the other room hadn’t heard the noise.

Silence stretched on. Then, THUMP!

The sound of a window being thrown open filled the hallway as Emma dived for the office door, throwing it open and sweeping her eyes across the room. A young girl paused in the far window behind the desk, one foot out into the night as she straddled the windowsill. She locked eyes with Emma for the briefest of moments before Regina all but mowed Emma down to enter the room.

The girl’s head snapped back out the window as she yelled, “Run!” and leapt from the window, her dark hair disappearing from view as she dropped the ten feet to the ground below.

Emma felt Regina grab her hand and jerk her into motion, dropping it when she was sure the blonde was bolting down the stairs behind her. Bursting out the front door, Emma’s eyes locked on the two figures dashing up the street before she broke into an all-out sprint, Regina’s footfalls echoing off the pavement behind her.

The two runners were agile, Emma had to give them that, especially in their dresses as she watched them dive under fences and leap hedges, cutting through the residential streets back towards Granny’s. One blonde and one brunette, they held onto each other as they dashed out into the middle of the street, unaware of the headlights heading straight for them. Emma halted in her tracks, grabbing the back of Regina’s coat as she barreled past her, not expecting Emma’s abrupt stop.

The next minute seemed to happen in slow motion. Emma’s eyes widened in horror as the car sped towards the two strangers, too far away to be reached. Regina let out an audible gasp and threw up her hands, trying to stop the car as Emma felt a scream rip from her throat.

WATCH OUT!

At Emma’s scream, the brunette whipped her head towards the oncoming car. The moment she took her eyes off her feet, she stumbled in the dark, losing her grip on her blonde companion who twisted around to try and help her back up. The car made no attempt to stop, actually seeming to speed up as it raced towards them.

Emma grabbed Regina’s hand, launching them forward. The blonde visitor was still trying to get her brunette companion up from the street, but she wouldn’t budge. Her head swung back and forth between the car and Regina and Emma, as if she was trying to make a decision. Raising her hands above her, she stretched one towards the direction of the oncoming car, waving the other hand towards her friend. Out of a thin air, a door appeared behind the blonde, swinging open to reveal the swirling light of a portal.

“Alice, GO!”

As the blonde was propelled through the opening, the door swinging shut behind her, the dark haired stranger rose to her feet and waved her other hand at the car. It stopped a mere two feet from her as Emma and Regina reached her side. The stopping of the car was unnatural. There was no screeching of brakes, no smoke from the tires; just an abrupt stop, as if frozen in time.

Turning her body so she could look at the car, as well as at Regina and Emma, the girl raised her hands defensively.

“That’s close enough, Emma Swan and Regina Mills.” She said, pegging them with a glare.

“How do you know our names?” Regina asked, eyeing her suspiciously.

“Yeah, who the hell are you?” Emma shot back. She looked like she got lost coming home from some Greek toga party, for crying out loud.

Instead of answering, she turned her attention to the car. “You can come on out of there, Dark One. I’ve been looking forward to meeting you.

After a moment, the headlights dimmed and the car door opened, Gold stepping out of the car with that same infuriating smirk that seemed to be permanently etched onto his face.

“Hello there, dearie. Terribly sorry. My night vision isn’t quite what it used to be, I’m afraid. Are you alright?”

The corners of the girl’s lips twitched in amusement. “You know better than to lie to me, Rumplestiltskin.” Emma thought she saw the corner of Gold’s smile slip for a moment. “We both know you’d have taken great pleasure to run me over, but we also know that, just like your previous attempts to cheat your way to a ‘happy ending’, it would have been in vain.”

Emma shifted from foot to foot, watching the exchange and growing impatient at her unanswered questions. Gold’s eyes narrowed, his mouth pressing into a thin line. “Yes, well, we all know that Fate can be.....a cruel mistress.” The girl smirked at his words.

“Ladies, may I introduce you to Ananke, daughter of Time himself, goddess of necessity, the most powerful dictator of circumstance, the one who holds each of our fates by thin little strings.”

Emma sucked in a sharp breath. Well, that explains the clothes.

Ananke lowered her hands but kept her eyes trained on Gold, her smirk never leaving her face. Regina stiffened next to Emma, bringing her hands up slowly to her face as she shook her head, trying to make sense of it all.

“Wait. So you’re the goddess of Fate?!” Regina asked, her voice coming out in a disbelieving chuckle. “There’s no way. You look barely eighteen and to be honest, a little clumsy with magic for someone who’s supposed to be as old as the cosmos.”

“And you’re supposed to look three decades older.” Ananke snapped, eyes narrowing at Regina before she jerked her chin back at Gold. “He’s supposed to be over 400 years old and yet here he stands. Trust me Ms. Mills, I am no stranger to magic, but you sit and watch all beings play out their existences for several hundred centuries before you decide to try portal jumping and let's see how good you are. Please, be my guest.” She waved her hands out in a sarcastic welcoming gesture.

Emma could feel Regina bristling next to her, her irritation coming off her in waves, but she made no comeback other than to glare back at the goddess. When it was clear to Ananke that Regina would not respond, she sighed and when she spoke, the defensive edge had left her tone.

“Regardless, yes, I am the goddess of Fate; past, present, and future. Enforcer of destiny, keeper of all living and dead things, neutral party to the world’s balance of power. I do not interfere often, giving the chance of free will to all, but occasionally I have to play cosmic clean-up to fix mistakes mortals make in order to restore the grand design. While there are others who govern different areas of the universe, such as Nyx and her night children, or Hades, until recently, with his rule of the Underworld, I am the final say in the matter of their fates.”

“You could literally change fate?!” Emma blurted out, wincing at the over-eagerness in her tone.

Ananke’s laugh tinkled in the air. “As easily as you breathe, dear Emma.”

“So....” Regina said quietly. “You could....bring someone back from the dead?”

Ananke’s smile slipped and an uneasy look crossed her face. “In most matters, yes. Once they have passed to a better place, however, it is a rule that I don’t bring them back. They have then passed into the arms of a power greater than mine or my father’s. If they aren’t there, then I will say that ninety-nine percent of the time yes, while the other one percent is saved for reasons only known to me and the being in question.”

Ananke turned her attention back to Gold quirking her eyebrow at him mockingly before clasping her hands in front of her. Regina was quiet next to Emma, forehead scrunched up as she got lost in her thoughts. Emma instinctually brought her arm up around her, resting her hand around her waist. If Regina thought it was awkward, she made no protest as she continued to stare at the ground intently.

“Well then,” Ananke announced. “If there will be no further questions, I’d best be on my way.” She waved her hand and another portal door appeared behind her. “It was so very nice to meet two of my favorite beings.”

Emma and Regina startled at her words as the goddess turned to Gold. “And you. I wish I could say I enjoyed it, but then I’d be lying.” She smirked at him and turned around, reaching out and placing her hand on the doorknob of the portal.

“Just a minute, dearie. You’re not going anywhere just yet!”

Gold raised his hand and the portal door swung shut. Ananke turned around, eyes blazing, as Gold was suddenly thrown back, collapsing on the pavement with a sickening thud. Emma tried to move forward to stop her, but she found her body unresponsive to her commands to move.

“Rumplestiltskin, how you never cease to surprise me with the stupid decisions you continuously make! Making deals, taking pleasure in cheating others out of their happy endings, always trying to kill those who hurt your precious pride or who could possibly be better at you than something.” Gold’s body rose into the air until his face was level with the goddess’, his eyes locked onto hers with pure hatred burning in them as she froze him in place. “You believe yourself to be one of the most powerful beings in the world, but I know what you really are; what you always have been, Rumplestiltskin.”

She moved closer until her face was mere inches from the imp’s. “A coward." A single finger slid down the side of Gold's face as a small smile graced her lips. "Want to know a secret, dearie? You always will be.”

And with that, she turned on her heel and headed back to the portal door. The sound of voices could be heard from up the street, and Emma thought she could just make out the form of Henry at the front of the group, running in their direction. Ananke opened the door, a bright light bursting forth. She turned to Regina and Emma, releasing them of their frozen state.

“About two minutes after I am gone, the car will unfreeze. Make sure you are out of the way by then.” She smiled warmly at the two women, one foot already through the swirling vortex. “Take care of each other!” She chuckled, “A cruel mistress, indeed.”

As she disappeared through the portal, Emma clasped her other arm around Regina, trying to move her out of the way of the frozen car. “Come on, Regina we have to move!”

Regina pushed on Emma’s arms, tearing free of her embrace. “No, Emma! I—I have to know!”

“Know what, Regina?! If a speeding car can crush you?! Because the answer is yes!” She tried to pull on Regina again, but she eluded her grasp. The group of townspeople grew closer.

“I’m not going! I have to know, Emma!” Regina grasped the lapels of Emma’s jacket. “I have to know about Robin! If he’s safe, if she can find out where he is! Wouldn’t you want to know about Hook?!”

Emma stopped struggling to pull her away and stilled her hands on Regina’s waist, looking into her rich, brown eyes and suddenly, strangely, she wasn’t so sure if she would have wanted to know about Killian. Regina, taking Emma’s pause in struggling as one of surrender, turned towards the portal door, catching it just before it closed. As she began to step through, Emma’s hand shot out and found Regina’s.

The brunette woman turned back to Emma with pleading eyes. “Emma, let me go.”

“No.” Emma said, casting a glance back towards the rapidly approaching crowd.

“Emma—“

“You’re not going anywhere without me! I care too much about you to lose you now, Regina! So if you’re going, then I’m coming with you!”

Emma surged forward, pushing Regina through the portal, but keeping a firm grasp on her hand. Before closing the portal door behind her, she looked back at Henry who was almost to the door and mouthed the words “I love you” before slamming the door and disappearing into the blinding vortex after Regina.

Chapter Text


Excerpt:

Emma, come back to me.”

Jerking back to the conversation, Emma hadn’t noticed that Alice and Queen Mirana had begun walking back towards the castle, nearly at the door. Regina was staring into her face with her hand on her shoulder, gently shaking her out of her thoughts. Emma shook her head and smiled sheepishly at her.

“Aww, you know I could never leave you, Gina.”


 

 

You’re not going anywhere without me! I care too much about you to lose you now, Regina! So if you’re going, then I’m coming with you!”

 

Have you ever been to the State Fair and rode the Grav-i-tron? It’s a ride that is shaped like a spaceship that you climb up into with a bunch of other people, filing around the circle and holding on tight to the bars on either side of you. The ride starts slow, spinning around faster and faster until you’re pressed into the walls, but even they move up towards the ceiling from the force of the spin. Your eyes are everywhere at once as the sights and sounds swirl around you at a nauseating pace, your knuckles turning white as you grip those side rails with every ounce of strength you have in you, feeling the adrenaline, slight bit of nausea, and the exhilaration of fear, calmed only by your anchoring hold on the bars.

That’s what it felt like when Emma stepped through that portal after Regina, clutching onto her hand until her knuckles were white as they were swirled around in different directions. The feeling of her fingers slipping sent shockwaves of emotions through her, the depth of which she ignored, and simply focused on the task at hand. Emma refused to let Regina go, squeezing her fingers as tight as she possibly could around the other woman’s until she distinctly heard a slight whimper of pain, but if the brunette found the hold unbearable, she didn’t let on as she, too, gripped Emma’s fingers back with surprising force. They jerked around aimlessly, squeezing their eyes shut against the dizzying flashes of colors for what felt like hours, but in reality was more likely only minutes.

The sudden halt of their spinning as their bodies collided with something hard knocked their hands loose. Emma felt every last whisper of breath forcibly knocked from her lungs from the jarring impact, sharp pains shooting through her ribs and up through her head. Gasping for air, she let her throbbing head rest on the cool surface, realizing through the fog in her brain that it was actually somewhat soft. Sweeping her arm out, she felt her hand collide with a warm body, fingers eventually coming up and grasping at hers. Emma cracked open one eyelid, seeking out the owner’s face. Regina’s deep brown eyes caught her misty green one and held it, both women assessing the other, chests heaving.

Regina, having landed on her side, torso twisted so her forearms caught most of the impact, was the first to try and sit up. Throwing one last look at Emma, who had both eyes closed now, she took a look at their surroundings. They had landed in a small clearing, so small that it was only slightly larger than the amount of space it took for both women to spread out comfortably. Tall plants surrounded them on all sides with breaks in between, sunlight casting patches of light between the stalks. Enormous flowers, as big as Regina herself towered above them, and if she listened hard enough, Regina could hear a faint whispering between each flower, as if they were talking. When one flower seemed to bend down towards Regina, she saw the face inside and groaned, the realization of where they landed finally clicking into place.

Another groan sounded behind her, and Regina’s hand that was still entwined with Emma’s was tugged. Regina dragged her gaze from the talking flowers back to the blonde, who was now sitting up, clutching her ribs. Eyeing her, Regina surveyed her face as it reddened, Emma’s nose scrunching up and her eyes glazed from pain. Her eyes traveled down to Emma’s other hand, cradling her ribs, one of which was poking at an awkward angle.

“Emma—“

“I’m....fine.” she hissed.

“No, you’re not.” Regina rolled her eyes at the other woman. “Stubborn, yes. Fine? No.”

Emma let out a throaty chuckle that sounded more like gasping and squeezed her eyes shut, that infuriating smirk still in place. Regina pegged her with a glare, even though she couldn’t see her, and gingerly removed her hand from the blonde’s. Emma’s eyelids snapped open, eyes darting around until they settled on Regina’s face, puzzled from the blonde woman’s obvious panic. Emma dropped her eyes to Regina’s hands, a blush creeping up her neck and spilling onto her cheeks.

After a moment, Regina’s hands moved to Emma’s torso, pulling the hand cradling her chest away gingerly. Returning to the blonde’s ribs, Regina’s fingers brushed down her side, feeling for the break. As her fingers brushed just under her right breast, Emma sucked in a sharp breath, whether from pain, or something else, Emma couldn’t tell. She ignored the feeling of Regina’s gaze on her face, closing her eyes. Clamping down on her bottom lip to keep from crying out, she felt Regina’s hand on her breast again, cupping it firmly as she held it up and used her other hand to heal Emma’s ribs.

Emma felt the breath whoosh out of her as arousal licked its way between her legs. What the hell?!

Realizing the lack of warmth, she opened her eyes to deep, chocolate brown eyes gazing at her. Concern bled through Regina’s features, but her eyes registered something else entirely. Emma found herself leaning unintentionally closer, eyes never leaving those rich, brown orbs.

“I’m telling you, I seen what I saw!”

“You ain’t saw what you seen!”

The sound of something bursting into the clearing snapped the two women out of their personal bubble, bringing their attention to the twin boys who stumbled at their feet. They were short and fat, with perfectly round, bald heads. Both wore matching outfits of brown and white striped shirts tucked into matching brown shorts with red suspenders. Their socks were striped like their shirts and were stuffed into brown penny loafers with a single buckle on top. They stared open mouthed at Regina and Emma, who stared back quizzically.

“See! I saw what I seen!”

“Let’s tell the Queen!”

As quick as they came, the two boys grasped hands and ran back through the foliage, sputtering more nonsense in rhymes as they went. Regina turned back to Emma and had to choke back her laughter at her look of confusion, eyes wide with her lip curling.

“Where are we? Fucking Munchkinland?!”

Regina’s laughter bubbled up her throat and past her lips as she stood up, extending a hand down to help Emma up. The blonde took it, digging her heels into the dirt and hoisting herself up to stand next to the brunette. Regina dropped her hand and Emma tried to ignore the slight pang in her chest at the loss of contact.

“No, Emma.” Regina sputtered, coming down from her laughing fit. She swung her arms outward, motioning to the scenery in a grand gesture. “Welcome to Wonderland. Or Underland, as I hear it’s appropriately called.”

Emma frowned. “Why would we be in....Underland...?”

“That’s exactly what I want to know.”

The voice didn’t come from Regina. Emma moved closer to her and shifted the weight to the balls of her feet, readying for a fight. She might have her own magic, but there’s no telling how it would work here. But her fists? They worked in every world.

So long as it’s not a dragon. Or an ogre. Emma grimaced.

A young blonde woman, no older than 21, stepped into the clearing. Emma recognized her as Ananke’s blonde companion back in Storybrooke, but she couldn’t remember the name Ananke had called her when she pushed her through the portal.

“My name is Alice, Alice Kingsleigh.” Alice extended her hand out to Regina, who shook it tentatively, before turning to shake hands with Emma.

“I’m Emma, and this is Regina.” Emma spoke, feeling some of the tension bleed out of Regina’s body. “Alice? Like, Alice in Wonderland, Alice?”

“So it seems.”

Regina scoffed, looking at Emma. “Our entire town is made up of fairytale characters, all written down in a book that our son is now the new Author of, we just defeated Hades, and Fate herself paid us a visit and told us we were ‘two of her favorite beings,’ and you’re stuck on whether she’s Alice from Alice in Wonderland?”

Emma just rolled her eyes, biting back a retort in favor of swatting Regina’s shoulder playfully before turning back to Alice. She didn’t have to look at Regina to know she was smirking.

“Curious.” Alice muttered, eyeing the two women with a small smile. When both women turned to look at her again, she leaned back against a tree, clasping her hands in front of her. “As I was saying, I’d sure like to know what you both are doing here, but also why I am here. I’m home aboard my ship not five minutes before my looking glass is rippling, prompting me back here. I can only assume the two are related, as you have just arrived yourself.”

“So, you’re saying you’ve been summoned here, for us?” Regina’s nose scrunched up in thought.

How cute. Emma shook her head to clear her thoughts. She had no idea where that came from, but now was not the time for some soul-searching. She was so caught up in her head, she missed Alice’s reply, zoning back in to hear only part of Regina’s questions.

“....do now? Who’s this queen we heard these twin boys speak of?”

“You must mean the Tweedles!” Alice said, a smile gracing her features. “They must have meant The White Queen! She’d know what we’re doing here!”

Regina visibly relaxed, tension bleeding from her shoulders. Emma eyed her with concern but didn’t comment, opting instead to place her hand at the small of Regina’s back in a comforting gesture as the trio set out through the oversized forest after the Tweedles.


Emma grunted as a branch whipped into her face, leaves filling her mouth and making her sputter. Just ahead, Regina’s laugh rang out through the air. Moving the branch aside, Emma saw they had finally reached the edge of the forest, the remainder of their journey giving way to rolling hills that reached to a long, stone path leading to a castle in the distance, set against high cliffs. Emma cut her eyes at Regina, the older woman laughing through her fingers at the blonde’s glare.

“Shut it.”

Regina only laughed harder, falling into step just behind Emma who was trudging down the hill to catch up with Alice.

“Oh, come now, Emma! We’ll be at the castle soon enough. Then you can eat!” Regina’s comment was only met with grumbles that sounded a lot like “pain in my ass” and she smirked, finding amusement in how easily she could rile up the blonde woman.

“Hurry up now, you two!” Alice called from the top of the next hill. Regina quickened her pace, moving past Emma with her smirk still in place. Suddenly, she felt the ground fall away from her as two arms wrapped around her waist, hauling her up into the air. She let out a small grunt as Emma tossed her over her left shoulder, one arm clamped around her waist, the other braced on her hip.

“Emma! Put me down!” Regina ground out, teeth knocking together as the blonde woman ran up the hill, her grip tightening on Regina’s hips.

“No can do, your majesty,” came Emma’s triumphant reply. “I’m just so hungry, we need to get to the castle as fast as possible!”

Regina rolled her eyes, gripping both hands onto Emma’s shirt to try and steady the constant jarring. As Emma started the downhill descent, Regina was suddenly conscious of Emma’s hands. The constant bouncing from her running was causing the blonde’s hands to slip, making her readjust as best she could to keep her hold on the brunette. Regina was surprised as Emma’s right hand moved to clamp down on her thigh, slowly inching upward as they ran. Feeling a spark of heat ignite inside her, surprise flitted across Regina’s pretty features. She fisted her hands against Emma’s shoulder blades and pushed up, causing her weight to shift as Emma faltered.

“Emma! PUT. ME. DOWN!

The world tilted and Regina was suddenly brought to a stop, Emma’s hand coming dangerously close to brushing against her core. She sucked in a sharp breath as Emma put her down but kept her hands on the brunette’s arms, their bodies flush against each other’s. Chocolate brown eyes met emerald green ones and held them, their faces only inches apart. Regina’s breath hitched in her throat at the proximity.

“Or what?”

The feeling of Emma’s breath brushing across her lips made Regina’s head spin. Emma’s eyes searched the brunette’s, and what she saw must have pleased her as Regina felt the other woman’s body melt against her, fitting perfectly against her own. Brown eyes fluttered between green eyes and soft, pink lips, the distance between them disappearing as they leaned into each other involuntarily. Green eyes fluttered closed, but before their lips could touch, a throat cleared nearby.

The two women sprang apart, cheeks burning red. Both refused to look at the other, or at Alice, but if they had, they would have seen the beginnings of a smile tugging at her lips as she said, “Curiouser and curiouser.”

“Come now, ladies. We’re almost to the castle.”

As Alice continued on towards the castle, Emma shuffled her feet on the grass nervously. Regina hadn’t moved either, the charge that still hung in the air confirming that. Slowly, Emma dragged her eyes up to look at Regina, stopping short of meeting her eyes. When neither of them moved, Emma waved her hands in front of her, gesturing for the brunette to take the lead. Straightening her back and jutting her chin forward, Regina dipped her head slightly in acknowledgement and strutted after Alice. With a whoosh, Emma let out the breath she wasn’t aware she was holding and followed her down the stone pathway.


When the trio was crossing a small bridge in the stone path, the sound of an extra set of footsteps could be heard echoing off the cobblestones. Three heads—two blonde, one brunette—snapped up to search for the newcomer. Emma’s jaw went slack at the woman rushing towards them. Clad in a white gown with white hair and pale skin, her lips were painted a dark plum color, and her whole body seemed to flutter across the ground. She held her arms up in a whimsically feminine gesture, and as she drew closer, Emma could make out a small golden crown atop her round head. The White Queen.

“It’s rude to stare, Swan.” Regina hissed in her ear.

Emma jumped, glancing at Regina but quickly returning her eyes to the approaching monarch. “Swan?”

“It is your name.”

“Cut the crap, Regina.” Emma rolled her eyes. “Just because you’re mad at me for earlier—“

“I’m not mad at you.” Regina said, her voice barely above a whisper.

Emma frowned, turning her gaze to finally look at the brunette. “Silence speaks volumes, Your Majesty.”

Regina winced and opened her mouth to speak, but the Underlandian queen had reached them, smile blindingly bright and eyes twinkling.

“Alice!” The queen embraced the younger blonde, who curtsied to the pale woman after breaking contact. “Not that it’s not always wonderful to see you, but what are you doing back so soon?”

“I wish I knew Your Grace, but I was home not five minutes before I was called back. I feel as if it has something to do with these two,” Alice waved a hand at the two Storybrooke residents. “They came through a portal not far from me about the same time.”

The White Queen trained her eyes on the two women, who had come to stand quite close together, Emma’s body instinctually placed in front of Regina’s to block some of the pale woman’s view.

“And who might you two be?” The blinding smile was back.

Regina touched Emma’s arm, leaning closer to whisper in her ear. “I’m not a queen anymore, Emma.”

“You were queen before you were the Evil Queen, Regina. You’re still queen when she’s gone.”

Regina didn’t reply, but she pursed her lips, keeping her hand on Emma’s bicep. Emma turned to look at the expectant face of The White Queen, a small smile gracing her lips as she curtsied jerkily. “I’m Emma, Emma Swan. This,” she said, sidestepping Regina as she waved a hand in her direction. “is Regina. Queen Regina.”

The pale queen’s smile widened, if at all possible, as she took in the two portal jumpers. Her eyes flicked between Emma and Regina, studying their body language and taking note of Emma’s placement of herself in front of the brunette.

“Nice to meet you both,” she said finally. “I am Queen Mirana of Mamoreal. You must be your queen’s White Knight.” She gestured at Emma, who grimaced.

Regina snorted. “Well, if we are all being honest and telling our titles, she’s Princess Emma.” Regina tucked a flyaway blonde curl behind Emma’s ear. “But sometimes White Knight seems to fit her better.”

Emma tensed under Regina’s fingers and her mind drifted back to their close moment on the hill. Turning, she met those chocolate brown eyes and read the warmth and amusement in them to match the smirk plastered on the brunette’s features. Tucking the hair behind her ears was such an affectionate gesture for Regina to suddenly make. Sure, at this point in their lives they were practically best friends, so simple gestures like that weren’t always a big deal. And yet, Emma couldn’t deny the strange sensation of butterflies fluttering in her stomach, or the way her ear felt like it was on fire from Regina’s touch. She wasn’t quite sure why these feelings were starting surface or where the tension that hung between them even came from, but as she gazed at the older brunette woman talking animatedly with her hands to Alice and Mirana, she couldn’t seem to find it in herself to care about that. And that puzzled her because, how was this going to affect them now?

Emma, come back to me.”

Jerking back to the conversation, Emma hadn’t noticed that Alice and Queen Mirana had begun walking back towards the castle, nearly at the door. Regina was staring into her face with her hand on her shoulder, gently shaking her out of her thoughts. Emma shook her head and smiled sheepishly at her.

“Aww, you know I could never leave you, Gina.”

The smile that stretched across Regina’s features could have made ole Leroy grin. She laughed and turned towards the castle, Emma falling into step beside her.


While Emma had been lost in thought, Regina had relayed their story to Alice and The White Queen, the latter of which had offered them refuge in her castle until they could figure out their next move. They had just finished a dinner Emma had practically inhaled, while Regina ate like the damn dainty dignitary she was, snorting at Emma’s not-so-charming eating habits.

Unfortunately, the pale monarch didn’t have any answers as to why Alice had been summoned, or why Ananke’s portal would have led back to Underland, but she did promise to help figure it all out in any way she could.

“Really, we should find Absolem,” the queen was saying. “He would probably have all the answers you seek.”

“But it’s Absolem who usually finds me.” Alice replied.

Just then, a white rabbit in a suit vest rushed into the room, coming to a stop at the queen’s side.

“She has returned, Your Majesty.”

Mirana’s back straightened while her eyes flickered to the empty chair next to her. “Thank you, McTwisp. Ladies, I must excuse myself. I need to attend to my daughter. Bayard will show you to your rooms.”

As the queen hurried from the dining hall, a large bloodhound approached them. “Follow me, ladies. Alice.”

Alice smiled and followed the dog happily, while Regina and Emma exchanged a look.

“I don’t think we’re in Storybrooke anymore.”

Emma snorted. “You did not just make a ‘Wizard of Oz’ reference! You have been spending way too much time with your sister.”

Regina just grinned and turned to follow behind Alice, but not before catching Emma grabbing one last handful of cookies from the table and shoving them in her pocket. Grabbing her hand, she dragged the blonde woman away from the sweets and hurried to catch up to their guide. After they left Alice at her room, they followed Bayard to a room at the end of the long corridor. He bid them goodnight and quickly left.

“Looks like we’re sharing, Gina.” Emma waggled her eyebrows at her while Regina rolled her eyes.

“Happy happy, joy joy.” Regina’s hand was perched on the ornate handle of the door when Mirana’s voice rang out from the room across the hall.

“Lily Emmaline Mamoreal, when are you going to stop your wandering and realize you have to start learning how to rule?”

Silence hung in the air before the queen spoke again.

“One of these days you are going to realize that I only wish the best for you. For now, though, you are restricted to the castle. Now get some sleep.”

A shadow crossed the doorway of the adjacent room and Emma pushed Regina inside their room in a rush, trying to keep from being caught eavesdropping. Emma pushed the door closed quietly, and when no knock sounded upon their door, she turned to face Regina, only to notice that she was no longer by her side. Instead, she had wandered out into the middle of their room and was turning in a slow circle, taking it all in. Emma crossed to where she stood, doing the same.

The room was quite large, with high ceilings and an open floor plan. The walls were decorated in an old fashioned striped wallpaper that still gave the room a royal feel about it, with ornate décor placed strategically along the walls. All of the furniture was white, from the large wardrobe, to the vanity and matching bench, to the large, king size plush canopy bed raised up on a platform at the back of the room. Two doors where over by the bed, one of either side, which led to the adjacent bathroom and a sprawling balcony. And like everything else that was in this castle, it was all a white-washed version of colors. Emma whistled low, feeling uncomfortable in a room of such frilly splendor.

Regina sighed, “Well, I am going to go take a shower.”

Emma nodded and shrugged out of her red leather jacket, throwing it across the back of a chair that was part of a set clustered around a small table. Hearing the water cut on in the other room, she stepped to the balcony doors, opening them and stepping out into the cool night air, mulling things over in her mind, especially her growing feelings for the brunette in the other room.

As if summoned by thought, Regina stepped out onto the balcony beside her, and gazed out at the dark cliffs in the distance. She was in a cotton tank top and shorts that she must have found in the wardrobe, her makeup gone, and her hair was wet, a few droplets collecting on her tanned shoulders. Regina turned her head to look at Emma, smiling when she caught her looking at her.

“What?”

“Nothing. Shower’s nice?”

Regina laid her head on Emma’s shoulder. It’s not the first time she’s done that in the last month, but it was the first time it sent the blonde’s heart racing and gut clenching.

“It definitely got the dirt smell off.”

“And the scent of forest,” Emma chuckled, but stopped short when Regina didn’t reply or join in. She just continued to stare out at the view, but the small wrinkle in her forehead told Emma that she was frowning. Robin, Emma thought. Of course the forest would remind her of him. I’m such an idiot.

After a moment of silence, Emma spoke the second question that had been burning in her mind all day. “What are we doing here, Regina?” Her voice was just a whisper, as if scared she might shatter the petite brunette woman whose head still rested comfortably on her shoulder.

“I don’t know.” Regina whispered. “I just feel like I have to know if he’s okay. I have to know what happened to his soul, and maybe.....maybe Ananke can put my mind at ease. I have to try.”

Emma bit her lip, wanting to say so many things and feeling as if none of them was the right thing to say, so she stayed quiet, wrapping her arm around Regina’s slim frame and tucking her further into her side. So the next voice heard in the still of the night wasn’t hers.

“Well if it’s Ananke you’re looking for, maybe I can help.”

Both women turned to look at the edge of the balcony, Emma’s arm still around Regina, as they turned their gazes upon a young girl perched on the railing of the balcony, looking out at the scenery. She had long red hair, tumbling down in loose waves to the small of her back, the bangs pinned back off her face. Her dress was a pale pink that matched her cheeks, and stopped just below her knees. Her stockings were white and lead down to black boots that threw the entire princess look, as if one leg cocked up on the railing didn’t already accomplish that.

“The name’s Emmaline, and I know Ananke quite well.”

Regina raised one perfectly arched eyebrow. “As in Lily Emmaline, the princess?”

Emmaline winced. “Just Emmaline, if you please, and yes.”

“How do you know Ananke?” Emma was confused as to how she’d even made it out there without them knowing.

“Oh, we’re quite close.” Emmaline smiled, but there was mischief in her eyes. “If you’d like, I could take you to her.”

It was Emma’s turn to raise an eyebrow. “Aren’t you grounded?”

The redhead grimaced. “Don’t worry about that. I’ll work something out with my mother. Are you two in?”

The two women exchanged a long look, before Emma whispered “What other choice do we have?”

Turning back to Emmaline, Regina nodded. “We’re in.”

Emmaline smiled and stood up fully on the ledge. “Good. We’ll leave after breakfast tomorrow. I suggest you get some sleep ladies.”

The two women watched as she gripped the vines growing up the side of the castle walls, climbing them like a rock wall and out of sight. Emma shook her head and turned to Regina. “Okay, I gotta say it. This place is fucking weird.”

Regina’s throaty laugh filled the air as both women returned to their room and closed the balcony doors. Heading to the bed, Regina crawled in while Emma stripped down to her underwear and climbed into the other side, scooting closer to the middle where Regina was, but keeping a respectful distance. She sighed against the pillows, reveling in the softness.

“Goodnight, Gina.”

“Goodnight, Emma.”

Neither women would remember who did it first later, but as they drifted off to sleep, their bodies grew closer until Regina was backed up against Emma, both falling asleep with the smallest of smiles gracing their faces.

 

Chapter Text


Excerpt:

“Well, now. If you two are quite finished,” She closed the satchel she’d packed with their belongings and tossed it to Emma on the floor. “I’ve finished packing everything we’ll need. Let’s get a move on shall we?”


 

 

 

Sunlight filtered in through the curtains and fell softly across dark brown waves and olive tanned skin, slowly filtering beneath closed eyelids and rousing the owner into a state of consciousness. Sounds and sensations slowly began to settle in around the brunette woman, grounding her in the feeling of gentle, yet firm fingers curled around her upper arms and the sensation of lips upon the smooth skin of her forehead. A contented sigh bubbled up from her throat and pushed past her lips, earning a soft rumble of amusement in the chest of her bedmate. Deep, chocolate orbs were slowly revealed, taking in the sight of milky, white skin over the expanse of a neck and collarbone, surrounded by long, golden curls. Smiling into her sleep-dazed bliss, Regina tightened her hold on slim hips, pulling them flush against her and sighing again, slipping her eyes closed once more.

Ginaaa...

Regina’s eyes flew open as the realization of her bedmate registered through the thick fog still clouding her brain. Releasing Emma’s hips from her grasp, she bolted upright and practically stumbled over the foot of the bed, an apology ready to fall from her lips as the blonde’s laughter cut through her panic. Regina’s eyes snapped up to Emma’s, only to find them closed as she propped up on her elbows, her nose and forehead wrinkling as she laughed. Placing a hand over her stuttering heart, she glared at the blonde, continuing to do so until she opened her eyes, only to close them again as she fell into another fit of laughter. Irritation bled across Regina’s features as she struggled to calm the increase in the fluttering of her heart at the sight of Emma sprawled across the sheets in her underwear.

“What are you laughing at?!” Regina snapped.

Emma’s laughter died away, emerald green eyes meeting chocolate brown with such intensity, Regina gasped. Rising from the bed, Emma crossed the distance between them in two strides, stopping when her blonde curls tickled the hairs on Regina’s forearms.

“You.”

Her breath had caught in her throat at Emma’s sudden advance and she struggled to form words under her piercing gaze. “Wh-what?”

Green eyes held her captive for a few moments longer until a familiar smirk twisted pale pink lips, breaking the intensity of the moment. “You’re so cute.”

Words failed the brunette as she watched the other woman cross to the wardrobe they shared, grabbing clothes and retreating towards the bathroom, smirk still in place, her laughter floating in the air behind her. Regina let out a shaky breath, the thrumming of her heartbeat erratic in her chest. Her skin felt heated underneath her fingers, but that was nothing compared to the heat she felt pooling between her thighs. As she stared, practically panting at the door that the blonde woman had just exited through, she fought the overwhelming urge to burst through that door and demand just what the hell Emma had meant by that comment. The sound of the shower turning on drifted from the other side of the door and Regina blushed, the idea of bursting through the door and finding a naked and wet Emma Swan on the other side suddenly making her shy while the heat in her core only began to throb.

Groaning, she raked her fingers through her hair and tried to ground herself as she crossed to the wardrobe and looked through the gown selection, settling for a long, deep red, off-the-shoulders gown with gold trim on the hem of the neck and the sleeves with a matching gold cord tied around the waist, reminding her of her dress from Camelot. No, she was not imagining herself in there with her best friend, water running in rivulets over their skin as pale pink lips met plump red ones. She was definitely not pretending the soft feel of the gown was Emma’s hands, caressing her bare skin in exploration. And she was not thinking of the blonde sweeping her hair off her neck and into a ponytail, trailing kisses down to her collarbone and lingering there, gently nibbling at the soft flesh. No, no way was she thinking that.

But the steady throbbing between her thighs broke through the lies she was trying to tell herself. And as the sound of the shower cutting off reached her ears, she looked in the mirror and faced the truth she’d been denying.

I may be attracted to Emma Swan.


 

Yep, I am definitely attracted to Emma Swan.

Regina inwardly groaned as the blonde made her way into the dining hall, greeting Queen Mirana with a grin as she entered. To anyone else’s eye, Emma’s outfit wouldn’t suggest she planned to be traveling, but to Regina, it was as obvious as the blonde was beautiful. She was dressed in a gown that also reminded Regina of the one Emma had worn in Camelot, a cream and light, olive green accented gown with a low-cut, sweetheart neckline coupled with an empire waist that only served to accentuate the blonde’s cleavage; Regina swallowed thickly before letting her eyes cast over the rest of her appearance. The gown swept softly to the floor, but was cut higher in the front than the back, the toes of Emma’s tall, brown, lace up calf boots peeking out between the folds. Her long, golden curls were swept back off her shoulders, twisted smartly into a French braid that started at the crown of her hairline and ran down one side of her head to the back, where it branched off and hung down her back like a thick rope.

Regina forced a tight smile and returned her eyes to her plate, avoiding the blonde’s gaze. She had left the room shortly after dressing so as to purposely miss Emma’s exit from the bathroom, unsure of what she’d do or what feelings she’d convey while she was still worked up. Emma had always read Regina like an open book, and these were feelings she wasn’t sure she wanted to share with Emma, or if she’d share them at all. She wasn’t even sure if Emma had meant anything by her comment or if she, too, had felt the same heat between them. How she couldn’t have Regina wasn’t sure, because she certainly had felt like she was about to spontaneously combust in that moment.

“Regina!”

Her head snapped up from where she’d been pushing her fruit around on her plate to lock with laughing green eyes. Four sets of eyes were trained on her, Emmaline having joined them for breakfast, but it was Emma’s eyes who held hers captive. After a few beats of silence, she realized she must have been asked a question. Folding her hands in her lap and clearing her throat, she licked her lips and tore her eyes away from Emma’s, but not before she saw the subtle darkening of her green eyes.

“I’m sorry. I must have been lost in my thoughts. What were we talking about?”

Emmaline smirked down into her plate before schooling her features back to her expression of nonchalance she’d maintained the entire meal. Alice choked back a laugh by clearing her throat as Mirana repeated her question.

“I was inquiring as to whether you had a plan upon meeting Ananke? Even if you do find access to her realm, it will be challenging to find her.”

Regina frowned, “To be honest, I hadn’t really considered it.”

The loud clatter of Emmaline’s fork hitting the tiled floor rang out through the dining hall. Regina fought the urge to look at the princess as Mirana quirked an eyebrow in her daughter’s direction but said nothing.

“In the past, we’ve seemed to have pretty good success by just winging it.” Emma shrugged, returning her gaze to Regina. “Regina and I make a pretty good team. I’m sure we can handle it.”

Regina smiled tightly at her before turning back to face the queen at the sound of her voice. “Be that as it may, please....be careful on your journey.”

Emma and Regina both nodded silently. Alice’s hands smacked the table lightly as she stood up, the sound of her chair scraping the floor grating against Regina’s nerves. “Well, I think it would be best to start with paying a visit to Time and go from there. If he doesn’t know anything, I suggest we set out to find Absolem in the forest. I’ll gather some supplies I think we’ll need and we can head out tomorrow at first light.”

She had barely left enough time for them to nod in agreement before she excused herself and swept from the room, the table falling into a thick silence save for the tinkling of Emmaline’s knife against her plate. Mirana frowned, turning her attention back to her daughter and opened her mouth to speak, only to be cut off by the abrupt rising of the princess from her seat.

“I’ll be in my chambers.” She called over her shoulder, the sound of her black combat boots echoing off the vaulted ceilings.

Regina exchanged a look with Emma before rising from her own chair. “I think we will return to our room as well. We need to prepare for travel. Thank you for the meal.”

The queen smiled a tight-lipped smile and nodded at them as they exited the dining hall. As soon as they had closed the doors behind them, Emma let out a breath, falling into step beside Regina and chuckling. “That Emmaline is a real subtle one, huh?”

Regina snorted, “The only time I’ve ever seen anyone have worse trouble keeping their mouth shut is watching you eat onion rings at Granny’s.” She smirked as Emma swatted her arm.

“Hey! This coming from the woman who started a war because a little girl didn’t keep a secret.”

“I stand by my statement.”

Emma’s lips settled into a pout, one pale pink lip pushing past the other, Regina’s gaze lingering upon it before she ripped her gaze away to stare straight down the hallway. They had reached their room, Emma leading the way inside, when the door across the hall opened and Emmaline rushed over to Regina, quickly ushering her inside after Emma.

Emma had crossed to the armchairs settled in the corner by the fireplace, her boots resting on a small coffee table as she quirked a brow at their visitor. Regina barked out a laugh, Emma’s eyes switching to her in confusion.

“You just look exactly how I would have pictured you as a princess. A tomboy in a gown, feet up on the table, the only thing missing is a beer and unhealthy food choices!”

Regina’s hand came up to cover her mouth as she laughed, barely registering the tingle in the air before the cord of her gown hanging loosely at her hips suddenly tightened and jerked her backwards into the wall. Laughter choking in her throat in surprise, her eyes snapped to Emma’s face, lips twisting into a snarl at the blonde’s laughter. Not a mean snarl, not even an aggressive one. Mostly amusement and a slight thrill of competition that had that snarl morphing into a wicked grin. Emma’s eyes were squeezed shut as her laughter bounced off the walls, so she didn’t notice when Regina’s hand flicked out in her direction, completely caught off guard as the chair she was in pitched forward, throwing her onto the coffee table with such force, she slid across it and off the other side, landing harshly onto the carpet on her stomach with a strangled “Oomph!”

Emma groaned and pushed herself up onto her elbows, twisting her head around to glare at Regina, but her irritation melted away at the expression on the brunette’s face. Her eyes were closed, the skin around them crinkling with her laughter. The worry lines around her mouth had dissolved into laugh lines that softened her features, and her forehead was a smooth expanse, the vein that stood out when she was stressed (or pissed or overwhelmed, really) had disappeared completely. It had been a long time since Emma had seen Regina look this relaxed, and something deep inside her chest vowed that she’d do anything to make sure Regina looked that way more often.

As Emma shifted to sit on her butt, leaning back on her elbows to support herself, her eyes slid to Emmaline over by the bed, stuffing Emma’s red jacket into a satchel and casting glances between the two other women, a smirk firmly in place. To be honest, both women had forgotten she was in the room, Regina’s laughter fading as she, too, remembered their room guest.

“Well, now. If you two are quite finished,” She closed the satchel she’d packed with their belongings and tossed it to Emma on the floor. “I’ve finished packing everything we’ll need. Let’s get a move on shall we?”

Emma and Regina exchanged a look, Emma stifling a laugh as Regina rolled her eyes and followed the princess out onto the balcony. When Emma emerged behind them, Emmaline had already begun descending the trellis down to the grass below, Regina’s hand poised on the edge of the balcony to follow, a haughty look on her face as she regarded their escape exit. Emma snorted at her as she shifted the strap of the satchel across her body, earning her a “Shut up, Swan,” before Regina swung her legs over the railing and descended from view. When the blonde had safely joined them on the ground Emmaline set off down the side of the hill, ducking behind the tall hedges that shielded them from view as they approached the tree line of the forest. They walked in silence, shoulders hunched, legs tensed, with ears straining for any sign that they had been discovered and being pursued. When no sounds had alerted them to the possibility of being found, they began to relax, Emma slipping into an easy stride next to Regina where she hovered a few paces behind their red-headed guide.

 “Hey.”

“Hello.” Regina grimaced, but it wasn’t at her. Emma frowned and examined her, eyes darting around until they landed on her feet. Regina was limping ever so slightly, favoring her left leg.

“Gina,” Emma breathed out, concern evident in her low tone, but Regina refused to look at her, jutting her chin just a fraction of an inch higher. “How long, Regina?”

Regina’s eyes narrowed, that old, familiar pride igniting in her chest. She could feel Emma’s eyes on her more than she could see them, given that her peripherals were compromised due to her nearly closed eyelids, but she didn’t need to see the blonde to feel the disapproval and underlying concern in those green orbs. She tried to ignore the warm feeling spreading through her body due to Emma’s concern for her, but she was quickly failing. The blonde seemed to have that effect on her. Especially recently. Regina sighed.

“Since the trellis.”

“Regina!”

“Shhh!” Regina smacked Emma’s bicep and cast a furtive glance at Emmaline, who had stopped to look back at them questioningly. When she turned back around, Emma spoke, having significantly lowered her voice.

“What the hell, Regina? Why didn’t you say anything?”

“I was too busy trying to make sure we escaped without being noticed, Emma.” Her voice sounded exasperated, exhaustion creeping into her tone. Whether tired of the conversation or tired of hiding the fact she felt twinge of pain every step, Emma wasn’t sure.

“Let me at least heal you.”

Regina was about to open her mouth to protest when Emmaline stopped abruptly. “If you two don’t mind, I have to excuse myself. Nature calls and whatnot. I’ll be over there,” she jerked her thumb to a particularly thick copse of trees. “I wouldn’t wander too far. This part of the forest still has some unsavory characters of my aunt’s that’d just love to mess up a pretty face.” Her eyes slid from Regina’s to Emma’s, lingering there for a few beats longer before she turned and headed through the branches and out of sight. Regina wasn’t aware she was frowning until Emma quirked an eyebrow at her, but she shrugged her off. Allowing Emma to guide her over to a fallen log with a hand firmly grasped on her elbow, she quickly tugged off her ankle boots, for the first time in her life actually thankful she hadn’t worn her heels before jumping through the portal into another crazy adventure.

Regina tried not to groan as she mentally berated herself for getting them into this mess. Granted, she didn’t ask Emma to come with her, but she had. Staring down at the blonde, her braid falling forward over her shoulder as she gingerly lifted Regina’s slim ankle into her hands to examine it, Regina was grateful she had come with her. What was it she had said before following her through the portal?

You’re not going anywhere without me!

Regina’s mouth twitched in amusement. As if I could ever rid myself of her. Couldn’t years ago, can’t now. Not that I’d want to.

“I care too much about you to lose you now, Regina!”

Her sharp inhale caught Emma’s attention where she had just finished healing her ankle. “Are you alright, Gina?”

No. “Yes, thank you.”

Emma nodded and rose to her feet, handing Regina’s boot back to her. She slipped it on just as Emmaline came back through the trees. “Alright ladies, anyone else?” They both shook their heads. “Alright then, let’s go on a little longer before we stop for a nice lunch together.” Winking at Emma, she spun on her heel and started off, trusting them to follow.

Regina scowled and stood up, readjusting the matching cloak to her dress she’d remembered to grab before leaving the castle, and marched after the redhead. The sound of leaves crunching underfoot alerted her that Emma was right behind her, attempting to match her determined stride. She was trying to walk faster than her; trying to keep her from catching up so she could have a minute to think without the blonde invading her thoughts, but Emma was taller, if not by much, and eventually managed to catch up to her, though Regina noticed, with some satisfaction, that her breathing was labored.

“Slow down, Regina, damn.”

“Walk faster.” Regina felt Emma roll her eyes next to her.

“Now, now, Regina, I’m not the one who twisted her ankle earlier. You’d think someone who walks most of the time in at least four inch heels would be able to manage a two inch chunky-heeled ankle boot.” Regina fought the smirk trying to appear on her face. “What’s the matter, Gina?” she continued, “can’t walk normally in anything less than three inches? That must be so hard, having to walk in those all the time. Doing laundry, taking a shower....” she leaned in close to Regina’s ear, lowering her voice just for her. “During sex...”

Regina’s nostrils flared. She could feel the blush creeping up her neck and fighting for residence on her face. Before she even knew what she was doing, her arm thrust out and connected with Emma’s shoulder. A surprised cry came from the blonde as she lost her footing, rolling feet over head down a small hill and landing with a soft thud at the bottom. Rushing to the edge of the drop, Regina peered down at her, looking for signs of injury. Emma raised her head and groaned, locking eyes with Regina.

“Regiiiiinaaaa!”

Staring down at her, short wisps of hair falling into her face, small twigs stuck to the side of her head, Regina couldn’t help but laugh, made only louder when Emma pulled a leaf from between her boobs in disgust. Clutching a nearby tree for support, she nearly doubled over in laughter at Emma’s scowl as she picked herself up and began to try and climb the hill.

“How’d those sensible shoes work for you, Emma?”

She grumbled under her breath as she passed, shooting Regina a glare before turning to follow after Emmaline, who’d paused against a tree and smirked at the two of them, shaking her head before continuing on their journey.


 

The sun was high in the sky before they stopped for lunch by a small stream, Emmaline pulling out sandwiches from one of her bags for the three of them. At some point during their trek through the trees, she’d picked some fruit—mostly berries—for them to munch on as well. Conversation was mostly light and easy, Regina still on edge a little around the princess, especially when she lingered a little too long around Emma, but she ignored whatever feelings that invoked in her. Now was not the time for soul-searching.

It was Emma who finally broached the subject of the questions they’d both been wondering since the night before. “So, Emmaline, how exactly do you know Ananke?”

Emmaline swallowed a mouthful of her sandwich and took a swig from her water bottle before she answered. “Ananke and I go back for some time now. We met when I was younger. Been in contact ever since.”

Emma nodded, but Regina eyed the redhead closely, sensing more to the story than she let on, but not wanting to push it. Yet.

“Be that as it may,” she spoke, garnering their attention. “How exactly are we going to be able to get to....whatever her realm is called?”

“Mount Olympus.”

Emma choked on her water, spluttering for a minute until she regained her voice, hoarsely crying “Like Hercules and Zeus and all that?!” Emmaline nodded. “I thought only gods could go there!”

“That’s true, unless we have the Olympus Stone.”

Regina narrowed her eyes. “And where are we supposed to find this Olympus Stone?”

Emmaline smirked at her, reaching into the folds of her dress to a hidden pocket, pulling out a round stone about an inch thick and holding it up for them both to see. There was a carving of a lightning bolt coming down from a cloud on the front.

“I told you, I’ve got a contact.”

Chapter Text


Excerpt: 

Regina snapped her eyes to the young woman. “So you admit you’ve been flirting with her?”

Emmaline quirked an eyebrow, a smirk plastered on her face. “Are you admitting you’re jealous?”


 

 

 

Emma paused in her walking and looked up at the pink-streaked sky, raising a hand to shield her eyes from the dying rays of the sun. “We’d better find some place to make camp. It’s going to get dark soon.”

Emmaline paused as well, copying Emma’s posture. “Alright then. We’ve been following the path of a nearby stream that heads down from the mountains. I’ve made sure we kept around 200-300 feet between us and the shore to keep from being spotted, but we should be able to make camp closer to the banks for the night.”

Emma nodded, turning to check on Regina who had stopped to sit on a fallen log. Emma waited until Emmaline had begun walking ahead of them before she fell into step beside Regina. “How’s your ankle?”

 Regina rolled her eyes at her. “I’m fine, Emma. You can stop asking me every hour.”

“Come on, Regina. You know you’re not always so eager to be honest when it comes to admitting you might need some help.”

Regina scowled, focusing her eyes on the path before them. “I’m fine.”

Emma huffed in annoyance. “Whatever, Regina.”

Emma quickened her pace, overtaking Emmaline as she busied herself with looking for a good campsite. Regina’s sarcasm was wearing on her patience and Emma was not in the mood for one of their arguments. Emma knew she was harping on Regina’s injury, but if she was hurting now before they even had really started their journey, she’d really be hurting later. Okay maybe she was overdoing it a bit, but Regina really should be used to it by now. Emma always pushed her. She pushed and pushed until Regina’s walls crumbled, whether that resulted in a fight or not was irrelevant.

With a sigh, Emma pulled back a branch and stepped into a small, grassy clearing surrounded by shrubs. The sound of water reached her ears from the other side of the bushes, and a quick sweep of the arm showed the stream Emmaline had mentioned about twenty feet on the other side.

“This spot looks good. What do you think?” Emma asked, turning back to the others. She focused her gaze on Emmaline, ignoring the way Regina’s gaze made her skin itch.

Emmaline looked up, pale green eyes meeting emerald, a bright smile breaking out over her face. “This is perfect, Emma. Great job.” Her eyes held Emma’s for a few beats longer before Emma broke the contact, giving the young woman an awkward smile and turning to set up a pallet for her to sleep on for the night. She felt Regina come near her and fought the urge to look at her. It was surprising to her, realizing just how hard she had to resist. It was as if she was fighting her instincts, her gaze naturally drawn to the brunette like a heat-seeking missile and Regina was a volcano ready to erupt.

Emma snorted at her analogy, thinking of how the similarities between Regina and an erupting volcano applied to more situations than this one. She felt Regina’s glare piercing her back and set her jaw, deciding she needed a moment to herself. Throwing down her blanket in a huff, she bit out “I’m going to take a dip in the stream,” before gathering her skirts and pushing her way through the bushes towards the water.

Emma stopped at the edge of the water, glancing around for some coverage should she be stumbled upon. About thirty feet up the bank there was a tree, and she made her way towards it, slipping her boots and cloak off before yanking on the strings lacing up the back of her gown. She let it float softly down her body, stepping out of it one long, toned leg at a time. Throwing the dress over a low branch, she stripped out of her underwear and stepped into the water, a low moan escaping her lips as the water hit the sensitive flesh of her breasts, her nipples hardening against the slight chill of the stream.

Her hands fumbled with removing the band tying off her long braid, her long, pale fingers massaging her hair from the tight twists, the gentle current capturing the blonde tresses in a gentle fan in the water behind her. She let out a small sigh before slipping fully under the water, willing the cool water rushing around her to wipe any thoughts of Regina from her mind.


 

Regina was irritated. Exasperated. Fuming.

Why? She wasn’t exactly sure, but it had something to do with Emma Swan. Sure, Regina was used to her stubborn ways, catch her on a good day and she might even call them endearing. Maybe. But now the blonde was pointedly ignoring her and that bothered Regina for reasons she didn’t quite understand, but she knew she didn’t like it.

Emma’s snort of laughter pulled Regina from her inner ranting, the brunette shooting a glare at the blonde’s back without even thinking of the reason why. Dragging her eyes back to her own blankets, she was smoothing out the wrinkles when Emma suddenly rose to her feet, throwing down her own blankets. She barked out a tart “I’m going to take a dip in the stream,” before disappearing into the bushes.

Regina sat down on her makeshift bed with a frown, eyebrows knit together in annoyance. Her frown deepened as she heard the light laughter drifting to her from about ten feet away. She cut her eyes in its direction, catching a glimpse of Emmaline stretched out on her side, one knee bent towards the sky, her head propped up by her elbow and cradled by her palm. Regina fought her scowl. If she wasn’t in the mood for Emma’s attitude, she definitely wasn’t in the mood for the redheaded princess with an unhealthy disrespect for boundaries.

“You’re so cute.”

Regina’s eyes widened, “Excuse me?”

Emmaline smirked. “You and Emma. You’re so cute.”

Regina wasn’t sure how to respond to that. So she decided not to, busying herself with looking through her satchel and taking inventory of the items. She noticed a hairbrush and a bar of soap, absentmindedly wondering whether Emma had thought to search for one before she left for her bath.

“See? Just like that. One minute you’re mad at her, the next you’re worried about if she has what she needs.”

Crap, did I talk about the soap out loud? Regina made a point to look anywhere but the redhead’s direction, continuing her search throughout the bag. “I’m afraid I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Riiiight. You two are both so oblivious to the other’s affections, it’s almost sad.”

“Emma and I are just friends—“

Emmaline rolled her eyes. “Yeah, yeah. ‘Just friends’ lose their train of thought when the other walks into the room; ‘Just friends’ can’t keep their eyes off each other when they’re in a crowd of people; ‘Just friends’ drop their entire lives to follow the other through a portal, even if it’s to find the other’s past love; ‘Just friends’ hold each other under the stars; ‘Just friends’ get increasingly jealous when certain redheaded princesses flirt with one of them all day—“

Regina snapped her eyes to the young woman. “So you admit you’ve been flirting with her?”

Emmaline quirked an eyebrow, a smirk plastered on her face. “Are you admitting you’re jealous?”

Regina raised her chin in defiance, turning her eyes back to repacking the bag. Out the corner of her eye, she could see Emmaline’s smirk was still in place as the woman spoke again. “Yeah, didn’t think so. I’ll admit to it when you admit to being jealous. And honestly, the sooner you do, the easier all our lives will get.”

With that, she rolled onto her other side, turning her back to Regina and leaving her with that piece of information that she wasn’t sure how to process. Were her and Emma just friends? Regina thought back on the last month, thinking of all the time she’d spent with the blonde. They’d certainly grown closer, but was it more than that?

Is it more than that for me?

The answer to that question didn’t come easy. Yes, Regina was attracted to Emma, but was it enough to be something more? Did she want it to be something more?

Regina shook her head, trying to clear the incessant questions from her mind. Her eyes fell upon the bar of soap. A bath to settle her mind suddenly sounded like a great idea. Mind made up, she grabbed the soap and a thin blanket for a towel and rose from her blankets, casting a glance at Emmaline’s back before disappearing through the bushes.

When she reached the bank of the stream, she searched for a familiar blonde head. Frowning when she didn’t see Emma, she looked further up the stream and caught sight of her gown slung across a tree branch. Satisfied that she was at least nearby, Regina pulled off her boots and clothes, folding them neatly in the grass and setting the bar of soap on top. Loosing her hair from its tie, her dark brown waves tickled her skin as they swept across her bare shoulders. She stepped gingerly into the gentle stream, wading in until the water reached just above her breasts, the current caressing her smooth, olive skin. Leaning her head back, she wet her hair and reached for the soap, lathering some onto her hands and massaging through the dark strands in slow circles, a small whimper falling from her lips as her fingernails scratched deliciously at her scalp.

Satisfied with her hair, she leaned back again to rinse the soap away, hissing as her breasts raised above the water level, the night air nipping at her hardened peaks almost painfully. Straightening back up, she bent her knees to sink lower into the water, reaching for the soap again. She began to wash her body, the water rinsing the suds away as soon as she touched her skin. As her fingers brushed her nipples, Regina felt a twinge in her core and instantly blushed. Glancing around quickly to see if anyone had wandered near, she returned her hands to her breasts, capturing the puckered skin between her fingers and massaging gently, feeling them soften under her touch and a slow heat beginning to build in her abdomen.

It'd been over a month since Regina had been touched, or touched herself, and her body was all too eager to respond. She increased the pressure, twisting and teasing her nipples between her fingers before moving her hands to cup her breasts. Her soft moan grew louder as one of her hands slid down her body, fingers brushing against a small, neatly trimmed patch of dark curls.

Just as her fingers found her clit, something knocked against Regina’s back, startling her as she stumbled forward a few steps, letting out a startled cry. Hands wrapped around her upper arms tightly and she jerked away, whipping around with hands raised, ready to blast whoever it was clear across the stream.

“Regina?!”

Arms grasped her forearms again but this time Regina didn’t fight them. One hand released her momentarily to sling long hair over their head, the water making the golden tresses almost brown. The hand grasped her arm again, green eyes blinking water droplets from long lashes as they focused on her face.

“Regina?” Emma asked again.

“Emma?”

“Are you alright?! I’m so sorry! I didn’t see you! I was just swimming and...”

Emma’s voice faded out of focus in Regina’s mind as their situation slowly sunk in. They were standing in the middle of the stream, Emma’s hands firmly wrapped around her upper arms, holding her tightly. They were separated by only a few inches, and Regina had to fight the blush creeping up the back of her neck at the realization that they were both very naked and Emma had almost caught her touching herself.

Realizing Emma had gone quiet, Regina met her gaze. Green eyes studied her face, following the path of the water droplets running down her face, over her lips, and down past her chin. Regina licked her lips and watched as green eyes darkened, Emmaline’s words ringing in her ears.

“You two are both so oblivious to the other’s affections...”

Regina’s eyes flicked down to soft, pale pink lips before returning to green eyes so dark, her breathing caught in her throat. Emma’s hands slid from her arms to her back, pulling her closer as she leaned down to brush her lips softly against Regina’s. Without thinking, Regina stepped closer, one hand wrapping around Emma’s neck and tangling in her hair as she pressed their lips together more firmly. Emma let out a moan, pulling Regina flush against her, reveling in the feel of the older woman pressed against her.

Regina’s eyes flew open as Emma pulled her against her body, their breasts pressing together as a white hot jolt of arousal shot to her core. She gasped, pulling back from the kiss and pushing firmly against Emma’s chest as she took a few steps back towards the shore.

“Emma, I-I-“

Emma’s eyes were wide, one hand reaching in her direction in confusion. “Regina...?”

Regina swallowed thickly and shook her head to clear it, taking a few more steps back to keep from joining Emma back in the middle of the stream and pressing her body flush against hers, letting her hands explore all the areas that made Emma let out more of those sinful moans....

No, I can’t do that to her. Regina thought, biting her lip in frustration. No matter how much I want to.

Regina scrambled up the bank, grabbing the thin blanket and wrapping it around herself before gathering her clothes in her hands. Glancing back at Emma, she muttered a quick “I’ll see you back at camp,” before disappearing through the bushes and leaving a confused Emma behind.


 

Regina had redressed and laid down on her makeshift bed by the time Emma made her way back to their campsite. She felt horrible for leaving the blonde the way she had, but it was all so confusing. And fast. She had just began exploring her feelings for the blonde, she didn’t want to just jump into something and end up hurting her.

Did she even want it to be something? Did Emma? And what about their journey? They were here to find out information on Robin. Was that disrespectful to his memory? Would Emma want her to stop her journey? No, Emma wouldn’t ask that of her, she was sure. It was all so confusing though. They needed to talk, but tonight was not the night. She just hoped she hadn’t hurt Emma or ruined any part of their friendship with her decision.

Regina laid in silence, listening to the sounds of Emma getting ready for bed. She heard the sounds of shuffling cease and she listened hard, wondering if she had finally gone to sleep. She shivered in the night air, her wet hair making her colder as she wrapped her blanket around her body, actually missing Emma’s body heat from the night before. She scrunched her face up as another gust swept through the camp, oblivious to the shuffling starting up behind her again.

Something warm was laid over her shoulders and back, protecting her from the wind. Regina opened her eyes in surprise, brown orbs taking in the red leather draped over her as the shuffling settled again. Regina blinked in surprise before slowly breaking into a smile, burrowing her face into the leather and inhaling the scent that was uniquely Emma.

“Thank you,” she whispered into the night.

The response was low, but it wasn’t hesitant at all. “Always, Gina.”

Yeah, Regina thought to herself as she burrowed deeper into Emma’s jacket and closed her eyes. It’s more than that for me.