DISCLAIMER: I don't own Once Upon a Time or Swan Queen or any of the characters associated with the show. They belong to ABC and Disney and a bunch of other people who aren't me.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To procrastinatingsith[at]gmail.com
SPOILERS: Set loosely between 3x21 and 3x22.

By Jaina


"You're staring, Miss Swan."

The way Emma jolted out of her reverie was satisfying on a visceral level.

"Oh, sorry," Emma murmured, not managing to sound very apologetic at all. It was just like the woman.

"Is there a problem?" Regina asked when Emma continued to stare at her, paying no attention to the mug of hot chocolate cradled loosely between her hands. At first it had been amusing, the way that Emma's eyes hadn't left her since she had entered the diner. But now after almost half an hour, without even so much as a hello, it had gone past amusing and slid into irritating. Regina had spent enough time as an unpopular monarch that it made the space between her shoulder blades itch with the anticipation of an attack.

Emma held up her hands in mock-surrender. "Nope, no problem here." And then she smiled at Regina.

It was one of the most disturbing things Regina had ever seen. "And yet, you're still staring."

"Sorry, I just…" Emma shook her head and dismissed what she'd been about to say with a flick of her fingers. "It's nothing. I was just about to go anyway." But even with her head ducked as she rose, Regina could see the smile tugging on her lips. She touched Regina's arm as she stepped past her, a light brush of fingers that sent a shiver down Regina's spine and raised the fine hairs on her arms. "Have a good day."

"Not until you tell me what's going on," Regina snapped, unable to contain it any longer. "Have you discovered something else about Zelena? Is there another spell? Henry isn't-"

"Henry is fine," Emma cut her off before she could get any further. "He wants to have dinner with you and Robin sometime." Her smile quirked up into a full-fledged grin. "I think he wants to grill Robin about his intentions towards you."

Regina flushed and looked away. "That's hardly necessary."

"Well, of course not, but Henry's your son. He's looking out for you." The smile slid from Emma's face to be replaced with something far more serious. "He was the same way with Walsh."

"The man to whom you were affianced?"

"We didn't exactly get that far," Emma said with a shrug. "But yeah, basically."

"I hope you weren't exposing my son to any bad influences, Miss Swan," Regina said darkly. She still knew far too little about what the year her son had spent away from her had been like; she didn't like to imagine it. Regina had hoped that the good, stable background that she had endeavored to provide them would be enough to overcome any unhealthy or irresponsible urges Emma might have. Her opinion of the woman had come a very long way from their first meeting but it didn't blind her to Emma's shortcomings.

"He was a pretty great guy, except for the whole flying monkey thing," Emma said, with a wry grimace. "That part pretty much sucked."

"Did you love him?" Regina surprised herself by asking. It wasn't like her to get involved in the entanglements of others - emotional or otherwise. Snow White had taught her the error of that way well enough.

Emma shrugged again. "I did. Or I thought I did anyway. I wouldn't have introduced him to Henry otherwise."

"I'm sorry to hear that." Regina said, her voice low, pitched to carry to Emma and no one else.

"Yeah?" Emma shrugged. "What are you gonna do?"

"Cast an evil curse on all those who hurt you to take away their happy endings," Regina suggested with nonchalance that belied her words.

"'cause that worked out so well for you," Emma countered with a soft snort of laughter.

"I don't know," Regina mused. "It doesn't seem so bad. I have my son. Someone who lo- likes me," Regina corrected herself with a stutter and another flush. This time she couldn't hold Emma's eyes.

"It's a good look for you," Emma said, ducking her head to catch Regina's gaze. "Being happy." She took a deep breath and quirked a smile. "That's why I was staring. You have this glow. It's beautiful."

Regina could feel her cheeks heating even more at Emma's words. It was the oddest sensation. She had thought she was decades beyond embarrassment but speaking of Robin could make her blush like a schoolgirl. It left her feeling vulnerable and she did not enjoy it. The Evil Queen did not wear her heart on her sleeve for all the world to see. That was only an invitation for it to be crushed. Regina certainly couldn't believe that she was standing here speaking of it with her second greatest enemy and only rival for Henry's affections.

"And who's fault was it that I was unhappy for so long?" Regina bit the words out, snapping her gaze up to Emma's and daring her to deny the history that lay between them.

"Snow's," Emma said so evenly that it took Regina a moment to understand. "Your mother's. Rumple-fucking-stiltsen's for playing us all so he could come find his kid. Me. Take your pick."

"You don't believe that," Regina snapped. "I won't be mocked."

"I wouldn't... I'm not." Emma said, with a quick shake of her head. "I think destiny is bullshit, but from what I can tell you got played - a lot, just like the rest of us - and sometimes your choices just plain sucked. You did what you could."

Fury flashed through Regina at decades of pain being reduced to a handful of ridiculous sentences. "You have no idea what you're talking about," she hissed. "Rumplestiltskin may have hidden things from me but my actions were my own. You don't get to take that away from me."

"No," Emma agreed. "You're right. I wouldn't appreciate that either, but I meant what I said. I'm glad you're happy."

"So I won't attempt to complete my vengeance on your family?" Regina demanded. Self-serving motivations she could accept; it was altruism - pity - that infuriated her.

"No. Pretty sure you gave that up for Henry," Emma said, with a knowing look that was nothing if not irritating. "You deserve to be happy though, after everything."

"Why, Miss Swan, I didn't know you cared," Regina challenged her with an arch of her brow, her lips curving up into a wicked smile.

"There's a lot of things you don't know, your majesty," Emma said as she began to back away, shoving her hands in her pockets and looking as if she hadn't a care in the world.

Regina's brow furrowed. "Such as?"

Emma's lips flashed into one of those maddening smiles. "Well that's for me to know and you to find out, now isn't it?"

"Absolutely not, Miss Swan. You will get back here right now and tell me what you mean. I insist."

Emma was still grinning as she turned, waving jauntily to Regina behind her as she sauntered away. Part of Regina wanted to pursue her and demand to know what she was talking about immediately, but Regina found she didn't have to. She could let it go - for now. Perhaps it was Robin's influence.

"I'll make sure Henry calls you about that dinner with you and Robin," Emma hollered back over her shoulder and Regina realized she was smiling too.

Regina had no idea what was wrong with her or what that infuriating woman was going on about but the thought of sitting down to meal with Robin, Roland and her son was enough to bring a smile back to her lips. It filled her with warmth and eased the ache inside of her that had been her only companion for decades.

Brilliant red lips turned up into a final smile. It might even be worth it to invite Emma to dinner, just to watch the woman squirm with the mundane domesticity of it all. Yes, that would do nicely. Plans decided Regina headed toward home. After all there was much to be done.

The End

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