Bringing Joy that will Last

SwanQueen Christmas thing.
Rated A.

* * * * *

It was weird having her own apartment again after living in the loft for so long.

What was not weird was that it was Christmas Eve and she was going to bed alone and she would be waking up alone in the morning.

Emma Swan knew that feeling all too well.

Except, now, she had this second set of memories—some of which had faded the longer they’d been been home, but they were still there, still felt real—which said that she had spent every Christmas Eve of the previous twelve years enjoying a meal with Henry and then wrapping last-minute presents after he had gone to bed. And she had woken up every Christmas morning to Henry jumping onto her bed and telling her that Santa had been. Even last Christmas, in New York, when he was too old for such things, he did it anyway, because it was their thing, the thing they did.

But, it wasn’t their thing; he had done all of it with Regina. Or, at least, he’d done that with Regina for most of the first nine Christmases of his life; the last two hadn’t been good, and Regina had missed the previous year altogether. And that was why Henry was at his mother’s right now: because Regina deserved to have at least one more Christmas when their son, the boy who was getting way too grown up too fast, was still enough of a little boy to jump on her bed and announce that Santa had been, dragging her downstairs to open presents.

Assuming that her memories were directly based on Regina’s, the other woman would probably be tired from staying up to prep the dough for Christmas morning cookies, leaving it in the fridge overnight so that all they needed to do in the morning was cut them, bake them and then decorate them, but she’d wake up delighted to have their beautiful boy right there with her.

And, although it meant that Emma would be alone on Christmas morning, she wouldn’t deprive Regina of that joy, not when she had gone without so much of Henry for so long. Operation Mongoose was about giving Regina her happy ending, and Henry was the start.

So, maybe she was going to sleep alone and without her son close by, but she was doing it because she wanted him to have the best. And Regina was definitely the best Mom she could have picked for him. And there were presents in the living room for her, presents which she could open in the morning, and which had been bought or made for her by people she considered friends and family, and that was a pretty good feeling in itself. Later, she would go to her parents’ and Regina and Henry would join them for the meal.

She amended her initial thoughts, linking her hands behind her head and staring up at the ceiling. She might be on her own, but she wasn’t alone anymore. She had a home. She had friends. She had a family.

She smiled and closed her eyes.

+

“Emma! Ma! Wake up! Santa’s been!” Henry bounced on the bed with the enthusiasm of the six-year-old she had never actually bought a bike for.

Emma immediately jolted upright.

“Santa’s been!” Henry repeated, his face beaming with joy. “Come on!”

As she blinked her eyes, trying to focus, she realised that she was not in her own bed, which was nowhere near as large or as soft as the one she’d just woken up in. Sweet Baby Jesus, this bed was amazing, and there were, like, four pillows behind her which were just the perfect amount of firm but yielding. And the sheets had to have a thread count of about a billion per square inch.

“Emma!” Henry was pulling at her hand now, almost tugging her arm right out of its socket as he shifted backwards off the bed.

“What?” It wasn’t the most eloquent thing she’d ever said, but what the ever-living fuck was happening?

“It’s time to get up now, Emma.”

Okay, that voice wasn’t Henry’s. She swung her head around to the doorway, where Regina was leaning against the doorframe, a cup of coffee cradled between her hands, and a wry smile on her face. She was wearing plaid pyjama bottoms and a white tank top under an open black silk dressing gown, and her cheeks were flushed and her hair was tousled and how was it even possible for any human being to look that utterly perfect at—Emma glanced around and caught sight of the bedside clock and, seriously, kid?—seven in the morning.

But then Henry was pulling her again, so she got out of the comfortable bed of awesome, giving it a baleful glance, knowing that she would find her own bed seriously lacking in comparison from now on.

She gave Regina a beseeching look, mainly because she didn’t think saying ‘What the fuck?’ would be appreciated.

“We’ll talk later,” Regina said, sipping her coffee and giving her a smile which was equal parts mischievous and mysterious, “but, first, presents.”

+

Still in a daze, Emma watched as Henry ripped open another brightly-wrapped gift, one which had been under the tree in her apartment when she went to sleep the night before.

She wasn’t a complete idiot, despite what Regina might think, and she knew that the only possible explanation for everything was that Regina had brought her there by magic. Regina had brought Emma and all of her Christmas presents to her home in the middle of the night. Part of her thought that she should be affronted by the sheer presumption of the act, but she was spending Christmas morning with Regina and their son, sitting cross-legged on the floor in front of a roaring fire with a cup of cocoa in her hand (and it had whipped cream and those tiny marshmallows she loved). There was laughter and happiness and a tape of the Rat Pack singing Christmas tunes—Regina still owned a boombox, which was inexplicably Emma’s third-favourite thing about the bizarre scene—and Henry squealing with delight at the sight of the present he’d kept till last, a new games console they had bought together for him—his joy was her second-favourite thing—and Regina wearing flannel pyjama bottoms and a white tank top looking like the happiest, most adorable person in the world ever. And that was totally her new favourite thing.

“This is for you,” Regina said, reaching behind the chair she was leaning against and pulling out a large gift box.

Emma took it in embarrassment. She had bought Regina a couple of presents, but they had been such uninspired and typical Mom gifts (perfume and a pair of earrings) that she’d given them to Henry to give to Regina instead.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t get you anything,” she said.

“Didn’t you?” Regina was staring at their son with such love that Emma knew she couldn’t have given her a better gift than this time with Henry. Still, a true friend bought you something, even if it was just a box of chocolates. A true friend would buy you something to make you smile. And the smile Regina had right then? Emma would give just about anything to have Regina smile like that all the time. It made her even more beautiful than she usually was, and regular Regina was, like, hot as—

Shit.

Oh, shit.

Oh, Jesus-fucking-Christ-on-a-cracker, no.

Emma’s stomach sank. She couldn’t be. No, it wasn’t remotely possible that she was—

“You haven’t opened your gift,” Regina said.

Emma started from her thoughts and looked at her. Oh, God, Regina was doing this little shy, half-smile thing and she was all whatever, with the pyjamas and the tank top and no make-up and the hair which was all flicked out at the ends, and so the hottest thing Emma had ever seen.

Regina had said something. Words, she had said words. A gift. Emma looked down at the box resting in her lap. Gift box. Okay, she should probably open that. It might distract her from the dawning realisation that she was in love with Regina Mills.

“Open it, Ma,” Henry said.

“Sure. Right. Yeah.” Emma pasted a fake smile on her face, one which she hoped wasn’t just a big sign which said ‘Kid, I want to jump your Mom’, and untied the ribbon wrapped around the box. She lifted the lid off slowly, and set it on the floor next to her. There was a layer of tissue paper on top. Emma smoothed her hands over it before pulling it back.

It was a coat. Specifically, it was a blue winter coat which looked like it cost more money than Emma made in a month. She lifted it carefully out of the box and held it up. It had an asymmetric opening and zips and it felt like it would be snug and warm like a hug and, God, she loved it.

“I know clothes are a very personal thing,” Regina said, and there was hesitancy in her voice, like she wasn’t sure whether Emma liked it or not, which was crazy, “but I thought that it seemed very you.” She shrugged. “I have the receipt, if you wish to return it.”

“No. God, no, Regina.” She was still staring at it like it couldn’t be real. “It’s perfect.”

“Try it on,” Henry said.

“Yes. Try it on, Emma,” Regina said. Emma finally had the courage to look at her again, and she was still doing the half-smile thing, which made her eyes crinkle and there was something there which might be affection or might be friendship, but it warmed Emma from the inside out.

She stood up and pulled the coat on over her long-sleeved tee.

“Sweet, Ma. It really suits you,” Henry said.

“Yeah?” It fit her so well that it was almost as if it had been tailored for her. She ran her right hand down her left arm. Even in New York, when she’d had a suspiciously large bank balance courtesy of Regina, she hadn’t ever bought herself anything which felt so rich. The kid who had grown up with nothing still found it hard to spend too much money on herself.

“May I?”

Regina was standing in front of her—when had she stood up?—and holding her hands up between them. Emma nodded mutely, not trusting herself to speak. Regina reached behind her and adjusted the collar, then smoothed out the material across Emma’s shoulders. She was close enough that Emma could smell whatever body wash or skin cream she used and feel the heat radiating off her. Emma could feel herself swaying forward, as if Regina had her own gravitational pull and Emma was powerless to resist it.

“Do you like it?” Regina asked.

“I love it.” She bowed her head, because Regina wasn’t stepping back and Emma couldn’t move, couldn’t look up for fear that she might do something really stupid, like launch herself at Regina.

“Is it time for cookies now?” Henry asked.

Emma could feel Regina staring at her for a long moment, before she turned to Henry and said, “Yes, sweetheart, I believe it is.”

Then the two people she loved most in the world headed to the kitchen, leaving Emma standing in her new perfect coat, wondering how she could have been so stupid as not to notice that she had been in love with Regina Mills for the longest time, and how she was going to be able to participate in Operation Mongoose now that she had realised that she wanted to be Regina’s only happy ending.

“Emma,” Regina called out, “are you joining us?”

“Be right there.”

She was so, so fucked.

+

Cookies were good, not just cookies themselves, although it was a given that almost any cookie was a good thing, but the act of baking and then decorating cookies was good. Baking and decorating cookies was a Henry-centric activity. Baking cookies and teasing Henry about his lame decorating skills prevented Emma from staring too hard at Regina. Regina had a streak of confectioner’s sugar on her neck, extending down from her jawline, and Emma couldn’t see that without thinking about removing it slowly with her tongue.

So, yeah, teasing her son mercilessly about his inability to draw a straight line with a piping bag (because naturally Regina had a veritable array of piping bags for decorating cookies, like that was a perfectly normal thing) was a much better option for all concerned than Emma looking at Regina in any way, shape or form.

Then there was the tasting of the cookies, which was good, too, because having her mouth full of cookie made it much less likely that Emma might blurt out something like ‘You are really pretty’.

But cookies could only distract a teenager from a brand new games console for so long and that length of time was apparently just as long as it took for his Mom, who still had that sugar on her cheek, to warn him that any more treats would spoil the meal that his grandmother was cooking for them.

As soon as Henry dashed from the room, Emma turned to the kitchen island and started clearing up the baking trays.

“Leave that for now,” Regina said from behind her.

“Are you sure?” Emma didn’t turn around. “If we don’t soak these trays, then this stuff will harden fast and then you’ll never get it off later.” She picked at a blob of burnt-in cookie with her thumbnail.

“If only one or other of us had magic,” Regina deadpanned.

There was a long pause in which Emma didn’t know what to say, so she just waited while she heard Regina moving around behind her. And then Regina was on the far side of the island, sliding a steaming of mug of coffee towards her.

“Why did you let me believe you were staying with your parents last night?” she asked.

Emma snorted with laughter, because, hell, that was a much easier question than she had been expecting. It made her let her guard down for a moment, and she looked straight at Regina, who was leaning over the counter. And—oh God, oh God, oh Jesus—not wearing a bra under that tank top. Emma exhaled and tipped her head towards the ceiling.

“I wanted you to have this time with Henry and not feel guilty about it.”

“Guilty?”

“Yeah, you weren’t going to give in, so it seemed easier to lie.” Emma grimaced. They had managed to get into a fight over who should have Henry. And, unlike all their previous other fights over Henry, it had been because each of them was insisting that the other should take him.

Regina sighed. “I wasn’t going to give in because I didn’t want you to be alone at Christmas, Emma.”

“Yeah, well, I didn’t want you to be alone, either.”

“I’m used to it.”

“You shouldn’t be.” God, this was the very attitude which had caused the fight in the first place. Regina should expect more from life than the bare minimum. She deserved good things. They both deserved good things. They might even be able to create some of those good things together.

“And neither should you. We are where we are.” Regina straightened up, and placed her fingers over her lips in thought. She opened and closed her mouth a few times, and then said, “If you had told me that you weren’t going to your parents’, I would have invited you to stay over. Christmas is a time for family, Emma.”

That Regina might think of her as family and want her around for Christmas gave Emma a warm feeling up her spine.

“I didn’t want to impose.”

“You’re not imposing.”

“I just,” she shuffled from foot-to-foot, “I had him to myself last year, and you missed it all, so I thought you should have him to yourself this year.”

Regina’s eyes widened in surprise and something else Emma couldn’t identify. “While that’s characteristically noble of you, I don’t want my happiness to come at the expense of your own.” She rolled her eyes, possibly at her own sentimentality. “Also, if you had just told me the truth, I wouldn’t have had to summon you and all your presents in the middle of the night.”

Emma grinned. “You know, I’m kind of happy you did that, because it was actually an awesome surprise.”

“I’m glad.” Regina blushed, actually flat-out blushed, and that made Emma fall a little bit more in love with her. “I brought some clothes over for you, if you want to shower and change.”

“You did?”

Regina nodded. “They should be hanging in the guest room closet. You’ll find towels and everything else you’ll need in the bathroom.” She rubbed her hands together. “Right, well, I shall also get washed and dressed.” She looked up at the kitchen clock. “What time do you think we should leave for your mother’s?”

We. Regina said ‘we’ and it sounded so, so good that Emma couldn’t keep the smile from her face.

“Like, one, maybe?”

“Good, that will give plenty of time to make some desserts before we go, then. Any requests?”

Oh, good God. Regina Mills couldn’t be real. No-one was this incredible. She brought Emma to her home, so that they could all share Christmas as a family, and she made special cocoa and special Christmas cookies, and she looked good enough to eat, and now she was baking on request?

“Maybe that fruits of the forest cobbler thing?”

“You like that?” Regina tilted her head in bemusement. “I would have thought it wasn’t sweet enough for you.”

“No, I really like it. Although your apple pie and caramel tart are pretty awesome, too.”

“Then, that’s what I’ll make.”

Emma was confused. “Which one?”

Regina smiled. “All three.”

And, just like that, Regina sauntered from the room, and Emma watched, speechless again.

+

Freshly showered and dressed, her hair dried but still damp at the ends, Emma swung by the living room to let Henry gush about his new console and the Marvel and DC games they’d bought him to go with it (all totally age-appropriate, just like she’d promised Regina they would be). She watched as he played a few levels and talked her through all the special moves each character had, before she headed back to the kitchen.

“Hey, Regina.” She came to a halt in the doorway and the rest of her question died on her lips.

Regina was wearing a navy dress. Regina was wearing a short-sleeved navy dress which stretched across her ass as she bent down to get a dish from a low cupboard.

“You found everything okay?” Regina asked as she stood up, her gaze passing over Emma’s less formal dress. The streak of confectioner’s sugar was gone, but Emma’s desire to bury her face in Regina’s neck and cover her skin with kisses and licks and maybe mark her just a little hadn’t dissipated at all.

“Yeah, but,” she was finding it hard to concentrate because the front view of the v-necked dress was even better than the rear, and, seriously, she needed to have a talk with herself about how she could not have known how she felt about Regina before today, “this wasn’t what I was supposed to be wearing.”

She was dressed in tight black pants, her best black boots and a pale grey button-down, even though she had left out a dress for herself the previous evening.

“Yes, I originally transported the dress.” Regina folded her arms over her chest, her lip curling in clear distaste. “On the basis that this is not 1956 and you are not Doris Day, I sent it back and brought you something more appropriate.”

“My mother likes that dress.”

“Well, of course she does.” Regina shook her head. “And I’m sure she’d look lovely in it. You, however, would look like a little girl playing dress-up.”

Emma mirrored Regina’s stance, folding her arms over her chest, and leaning back against the doorframe. “I thought today was meant to be about family? I just wanted to make her happy.”

“It is.” Regina softened then. “And this family is happy with you just as you are.”

Emma felt something like hope building in her chest. “You are?”

“We are.” Regina looked to the side but her eyes flicked back to Emma again.

Emma desperately wanted to ask what Regina thought in her own right without roping Henry into the equation, but she wasn’t that brave. The silence between them grew heavy until a cooking timer pinged, and Regina reached out to turn it off, turning her back to Emma. Emma could read the tension in the other woman’s shoulders, and she wasn’t quite sure what was going on between them, only that it felt strangely awkward and tentative and not quite them.

“So, um, anyway,” Emma unfolded her arms and scratched the side of her neck, “I just came through to see if you needed any help with anything.”

“No, I’m nearly ready to put the cobbler in to bake.” Regina didn’t turn around, and Emma suspected it was to avoid looking at her. She angled her head towards the kitchen clock. “Tell Henry he needs to put the movie on if we want to see it all before we have to leave.”

Emma laughed. “A Muppet Christmas Carol?”

“Yes.” Regina’s hands were tense against the kitchen counter. “Did you watch it last year?”

“Yeah.” Both of them had known all of the songs and most of the dialogue.

“Good. That’s good.”

Emma shook her head, even though Regina couldn’t see the gesture. “It would have been better if you had been there with us.”

Regina turned around finally, and her eyes were shining with unshed tears, and her smile was a little forced. “I would have liked nothing more.”

“Me, too.” She pushed off the doorframe to leave, but paused. “Regina?”

“Yes.”

“Thank you for the coat and for, well, all of this.” It was just gone 10am and, so far, the past three hours had been the best Christmas of Emma’s life. “I’m really sorry I didn’t get you anything.”

“That’s not important.” Regina shook her head. “Go set up the movie, and I’ll be through as soon as I’m done here.”

+

Like the cookies had been earlier, the movie was the perfect distraction. Their seating arrangement, with Emma in a chair and Henry and Regina on one of the couches, also allowed Emma to watch her family without arousing suspicion. They were beautiful. They did silly faces and put on high voices for some of the characters and made Emma conflicted about how much the simple domesticity of her son and his mother made her think very lustful thoughts about Regina Mills.

Every time Regina left the room to check on the baking, Emma considered following her and living out certain fantasies she was developing about pushing that navy dress up and having her way with Regina on the kitchen island.

She didn’t, of course, but she really enjoyed thinking about it.

A couple of times, she spaced out so much thinking about the many ways she’d like to explore Regina’s body in various stages of undress, Regina actually asked her if anything was wrong. She just shook her head and pretended to watch the movie.

As soon as it was finished, Regina went straight into commander mode, sending Emma and Henry around the house to collect up presents for the Charmings and any other belongings they’d need for the rest of the day, including packing up the console and games for some post-dinner grandfather-grandson gaming. Henry was taking the last of things out to Regina’s car when Emma wandered upstairs to find Regina. As she did so, she pulled on her new coat, and marvelled at how good it felt.

She knocked on the open master bedroom door, and entered when Regina appeared from the en suite and motioned her in.

“So, look,” she said, stuffing her hands in her coat pockets, “do you want to drop me at home just now to pick up my car?”

Regina was in front of the vanity, putting on her new earrings, the ones Emma had bought, and stared at Emma over her shoulder. “Why would you need your car?”

Emma frowned. “For getting home later. Or, you could drop me off afterwards, if you don’t mind. I mean, I guess I could walk.” The earrings looked pretty good on Regina, if she did say so herself. Maybe her taste wasn’t so bad.

“Oh, well, I’d assumed that you’d stay here again.” Regina’s brows knitted together. “But, yes, if you would prefer to go home, then, of course I can—”

“Fuck. Stop.”

Regina checked herself in the mirror, a pointless exercise because she never, ever looked less than incredible, and then looked back at her. “Stop what?”

“I’ve made this awkward somehow. You’ve made this whole day amazing for me, and I don’t know what I’ve done, but this,” she made a flapping motion to indicate both of them, “is getting way too polite or something.”

“It’s not your fault.”

“Of course it is. It always is.” Emma rotated her neck and sighed. “I’d really like to stay, but I didn’t want to just assume that would be okay, and I was scared if I asked, you’d say no.”

Regina started walking towards her, her head tilted in a slight question. “Emma, do you honestly believe that I would have transported you here in the middle of the night if I didn’t actually want you to be here?”

“Well, no, but—”

“Would I have made you all of your favourite desserts if I wanted to push you away?” Regina was still walking slowly towards her.

“I guess not.” Emma swallowed, because Regina had stopped right in front of her, well within her personal space, and she was looking her up and down again in a frankly unsettling manner.

“And would I have brought you these specific clothes for today, knowing how good you look in that shirt and those pants, if I didn’t want to be able to see you in them all day long?”

Emma’s brain had completely stuttered to a halt with that final question, when she felt Regina’s hands cupping her cheeks, and she only had a split second to steady herself before Regina was kissing her far too softly. Not that it was a bad kiss, because it was the best kiss ever, and she was actually shaking from the intensity of it, but she wanted so much more, so much everything.

Regina pulled back only a few inches and waited. Emma’s eyes fluttered open and Regina was smiling and staring at her mouth.

“The shirt really brings out your eyes,” Regina said, her voice little more than a whisper.

“Oh.”

“Mmm.”

And then Regina was kissing her again, and there was tongue this time and—oh, God, yes—teeth nibbling at her lower lip, and Emma’s hands found their way behind Regina, pushing into her lower back and bringing them closer together.

“You’ll wrinkle my dress,” Regina said against her mouth, and the way her lips ghosted across Emma’s as she spoke make Emma all kinds of weak.

“You can magic it better.” She grinned and squeezed Regina’s ass for emphasis.

“We should go,” Regina said, pressing a few more tiny kisses to Emma’s lips and not helping her want to leave the bedroom at all.

“Yeah.” She tried to lean back in, but Regina laughed and grabbed the lapels of her coat, pushing her back.

“That coat looks really good on you.”

“Thanks.” Emma looked down at herself. It really did look good. “I’m still sorry I—”

Regina placed her thumb over Emma’s lips, silencing her as she wiped off the traces of her lipstick.

“I don’t need a present from you. Your being here is enough.”

Emma blushed. “Okay, but—”

“Moms!” Henry shouted from downstairs, and both women turned in the direction of his voice. “We’re all packed and ready to go!”

“We’ll be right there, sweetheart,” Regina called back. “Go wait in the car while we lock up.”

“Okay. Cool. Hurry up!”

The front door opened and slammed shut again, and they both turned back to face each other.

“Stay tonight,” Regina said.

“Well, yeah, I thought I was.”

“No.” Regina bit her lower lip and Emma thought they would never make it out of the front door if she kept doing shit like that. Regina then glanced over at her bed and then back to Emma. “I mean stay with me tonight.”

Oh, Regina meant like stay-stay. With her. In her bed. Emma didn’t trust herself not to say something completely stupid, so she just nodded as enthusiastically as she could, and that made Regina laugh again, that perfect sound which made the whole world better, and brushed her thumb across Emma’s lips again.

“So that’s a yes?” Regina asked.

Emma nodded again, but her stupid mouth said, “You’re really pretty.”

Regina kissed her fiercely then, all mouth and lips and teeth and tongue, completely undoing all the good work that she’d done in removing her lipstick from Emma’s mouth. When they broke apart, breathless and panting, Regina shook her head.

“We need to go now, before I forget that our son is freezing to death, waiting for us in the back of my car.”

Regina walked to her closet and picked out her black leather jacket. She pulled it on and returned to Emma’s side. Emma held out her hand, blushing when Regina took it and linked their fingers, giving a quick squeeze before leading them from the bedroom and down the stairs.

As Regina locked the front door, Emma said, “In case I forget to tell you later, this has been the best Christmas I’ve ever had.”

Regina leaned in and murmured in her ear, “If that’s how you feel now, imagine how you’ll feel when we get home tonight and I give you the rest of your present.”

For the third time that day, Regina walked away, leaving a stunned Emma staring after her.

4 Comments

  1. Duncan
    Posted 28 December 2014 at 8.56am | Permalink

    I just recently started reading SwanQueen Fics… All thanks to u btw… And I have to say that this one is absolutely amazing. I miss the Spashley stories but I can’t wait to read more of this too! Seriously. Bravo!

  2. spikkels8
    Posted 30 December 2014 at 3.03pm | Permalink

    I Agree with Duncan. Love me some Spashley but I am most definitely enjoying the SwanQueen Fics too. Always great and entertaining as usual so thank you!!

  3. Julie Cecil
    Posted 23 August 2015 at 1.53am | Permalink

    Everything you write is *perfect*. I started reading your stuff while off work on a medical leave…Emma and Regina made my time off pretty amazing. Thanks!

  4. GeminiNerd
    Posted 29 November 2015 at 3.16am | Permalink

    Been a fan for a few years. I love the SwanQueen fic. Keep it coming please!

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