Regina dropped her keys on the table by the door, let her purse fall carelessly, and slipped off her shoes. She went into the kitchen and poured herself a glass of wine, then headed into her living room, preparing for another night alone. For a brief moment, she had hoped that her son would return home tonight, but he had gone to Granny’s to celebrate without a backward glance.
Since she was alone, she allowed herself the luxury of collapsing on the sofa and letting her head fall back. Sometimes it seemed like she had spent her entire life playing a role, but was becoming much more difficult recently. Playing the Evil Queen or the ruthless mayor was easy enough, but now she wasn’t exactly sure what role she was supposed to be playing.
After Emma had arrived in Storybrooke, it had become clear that Regina was in danger of losing the only thing she cared about. None of her old methods had worked, so she had decided to adopt an attitude of forced cheer, regardless of how hard it was to smile when she saw her son—hers, not Charming’s, not Snow’s, and certainly not Emma’s—consistently choosing them over her. She couldn’t lose her him, so she was prepared to do anything it took to keep him.
She hadn’t realized exactly how hard it would be. Compared to this, hiding her grief for Daniel and marrying Leopold with a smile on her face had been easy because she had a clear plan and she knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that it would succeed. If she just had some reason to believe that she was making progress in rebuilding her relationship with her son, she could keep smiling forever if need be. But she had gracefully let him go off with Emma and Snow and he hadn’t even looked back.
As she finished her wine, she heard the sound of the key in the door. Henry must have forgotten something. She sat up a little straighter and schooled her face into a welcoming smile. As expected, Henry bounded in with Emma following behind.
“Did you forget something?” she asked, looking warily at Emma.
“No.” He looked at Emma and she nodded encouragingly. “I just thought I would sleep at home tonight.”
That was a surprise, but Regina didn’t let it show. “Very well. It’s late, so go upstairs and I’ll check on you in a few minutes.”
Henry hesitated for a moment, and then obeyed. Internally, Regina sighed at her lack of warmth, but it wasn’t like she had a good example to follow.
That left Emma standing in her foyer with a foil covered dish in her hands.
“Thank you for bringing my son home, Sheriff Swan.” Once again, she winced at her coldness. “Again, I’m glad to see you back in Storybrooke.”
“I’m glad to be back.” An awkward pause. “In all the excitement, we didn’t realize you weren’t with us until we were already at Granny’s. So...um…pie?” she said, holding out the dish. “It’s apple.”
“Granny made it, so unless you’ve been sharing your recipe, it should be safe.” Regina accepted the surprisingly heavy dish. “It’s a lot of pie,” Emma added unnecessarily, shoving her hands in her pockets and rocking back on her heels, looking as uncomfortable as Regina felt.
“Thank you.” They both hesitated. “Would you like to join me for some pie and coffee?” Regina asked, fully expecting to be refused.
Emma paused for a moment, then she nodded. “I’d love to. I… I should probably give Snow and Charming some time alone.”
Regina nodded. “Of course.”
It wasn’t much, but her son was getting ready for bed in his own bedroom and it seemed like Emma was making some sort of peace offering. Right now, that was enough.