Right There All the Time, Part 3

Previously: Part 2 [U]

It’s time for a Big Important Talk.
Rated U.

* * * * *

On Wednesdays, Grace came over after school because they were lab partners and science was Henry’s weakest subject. But Grace had convinced him that he should talk to Emma today because Emma would be home by four and Mom usually wasn’t home until after six, so it gave him a window of two to three hours when he had Emma to himself. So, instead of sitting in the dining room, pretending to study but actually waiting for Grace to lean forward in just the right way to see down her shirt into the undiscovered country of secret, hidden girl parts, he was in the kitchen waiting for Emma. And he kind of resented Emma for that.

Wednesdays with Grace had taken on new meaning since he had started his Official Dossier, because he could now see that he was as hopeless as Emma when it came to romance. Grace made him feel awkward and embarrassed and faltering, but also protective and eager to please. That was all Emma and that sucked big time, because Emma was so clueless that he was having to sit her down for a Big Important Talk. He kind of resented Emma for that, too.

He was running through potential opening lines when he heard Emma slamming the front door shut because Mom wasn’t there to tell her off. She was singing along to her iPod when she entered the kitchen, not even realising that Henry was there rather than in the dining room with Grace. She opened the fridge door, checking out the chicken and vegetable casserole Mom had left for her to reheat for their dinner. She picked up a few green beans and ate them and then stuck her finger in the gravy and was licking it clean when she turned around and saw him.

“Oh my God, kid!” She flushed red and pulled the headphones from her ears. “Were you trying to give me a heart attack?” She narrowed her eyes. “Where’s Grace anyway? Did you two have a fight or something?” She leaned against the fridge like she hadn’t just been picking at Mom’s perfectly cooked meal, something they both knew was strictly off-limits, so the Grace thing was just an attempt to steer the conversation, but Henry was not stupid enough to fall for her trying to divert him from the task at hand.

“Mom.” Okay, that sounded wrong; he’d only called her that during the year in New York, and only Mom was Mom. “Ma.” He’d been trying that one occasionally, but maybe it didn’t suit the moment, because Emma was looking at him funny. “Emma, I need to talk to you about something.”

It was almost comical how quickly Emma’s eyes widened and her faced paled. She swallowed and took a half-step towards him. She was holding her palms up and her left eye was twitching.

“Hey, hey. It’s okay,” she said. “Whatever you’ve done, I’m sure we can fix it.”

“What?”

“Whatever trouble you’re in,” Emma eased herself into the seat across from him, as if he were a felon at risk of flight or flight with the slightest provocation, “it can’t be so bad that we can’t work something out. Is it something at school?”

“No, it’s not school. School’s fine.” Mom was right: Emma was an idiot sometimes. “I’m not in trouble.”

“Okay.” Emma’s brow furrowed. “Is this about getting a car again? You know I’m on your side on that one, but I don’t think we can change your Mom’s mind. She says you don’t need one until you’re—”

“It’s not about getting a car.” Although, if things went well enough, maybe Mom would be so distracted and happy that he could persuade her into at least letting Emma give him driving lessons in the VW. He’d have to keep that in mind for later.

“Oh God, is Grace pregnant?”

“No!” They hadn’t even kissed yet, even though he wanted to all the time, but he so didn’t want to talk to Emma about that, because she would just tease him about having no game, and that was too embarrassing for words, even though she was genetically to blame for his total lack of game. “No. Emma, stop.” He took a deep breath and tapped his finger against the Big Book of Gay, which was between them on the table. “It’s about this.”

Emma had that wary look, like she suspected he was trying to distract her, which was pretty rich when she was the one who kept trying to distract him.

“You need help with a school project?” She all but barked out a shaky laugh. “That’s what this is? Wow, that’s—” She shook her head. “You had me going there for a second.” She pushed herself up from the chair and headed over to the counter, picking up the coffee jug and filling it with water from the tap. “Well, you know your mom’s better at school stuff than I am, but, yeah, I’ll help you if I can. You want a special latte? Our secret?”

“That would be awesome,” he said, taking his hand away from the Official Dossier and letting Emma babble on about inconsequential everyday stuff while she made lattes for them both. She never used Mom’s coffee machine, the really expensive one with the huge manual which was only in Italian, but Emma’s lattes, with ordinary coffee and milk and hazelnut syrup all heated together in the microwave then frothed with the hand whisk, were still pretty good.

He grunted in all the right places as Emma talked, and rethought the speech he’d been preparing before Emma came home. Maybe his best plan was to say as little as possible; Emma had told him that a good way to interrogate a suspect was to say nothing and force them to fill the silence.

“All right, then,” she said, sitting back down and pushing his coffee towards him. “So, what’s this thing you need help with then?”

Henry’s stomach tightened. Emma was so open and unsuspecting that he almost decided not to tell her anything, but he needed to tell one of them because it had all gone too far and they needed to know. They needed to know because he couldn’t live with not telling them. He hadn’t even made it to a full month like he’d planned because he’d finished his notebook already and it didn’t seem sensible to start a new one, not when what he had already was plenty convincing.

He pushed the Official Dossier towards her.

“You should read this.”

“Okay.” She tilted her head at him, but put her mug down and pulled the book open. She’d only flicked through a couple of pages when the blush—or maybe the heat of anger, because her temper was even shorter than Mom’s, and that was saying something—started spreading across her cheeks. She looked up at him. “Kid, what is this?”

“It’s a dossier about you and Mom.”

Probably despite herself, Emma’s mouth curled up in a smile. “A dossier, huh? Did you learn that word from your mom?”

“I read a lot.”

Emma looked through some more pages, her cheeks getting redder, and then she all but threw the notebook down on the table. “Okay, spill. What the hell is this, this thing?” She folded her arms. “Because this looks to me like you’ve been spying on me and your mom and that’s not cool at all.”

“I wasn’t spying! This stuff happens in front of me!” He could feel his plan to say as little as possible was slipping away. “I just thought that if I wrote it all down then you wouldn’t be able to pretend that it wasn’t real.”

“That what wasn’t real?” Emma was defensive and scowling and this was not going well at all.

“You and Mom being in love with each other.”

“Come on, kid. You can’t be serious. Me and Regina?” She said it like it was the most ridiculous idea in the world and not The Way Things Were.

“Read it.” He shrugged. “I mean, what have you got to lose? If you think it’s all bullshit, and I’m totally wrong, then all you’ve done is waste a little of your time.”

“You’re not making sense.”

“I’m not making sense?” He reached across and opened the Big Book of Gay to the first Thursday, Date Night, when he’d come home to find Emma sleeping with her head on Mom’s shoulder and her arm around Mom’s waist, and Mom resting her cheek against the top of Emma’s head. He pushed the notebook towards her. “Then read that and tell me what I’m supposed to think.”

“Henry.” Emma barely looked at the page, shaking her head.

“What about this one?” He reached over and flipped forward to the following Saturday, when the three of them had gone for lunch in the diner and Mom and Emma had been all giggly and flirting and so completely wrapped up in each other that they didn’t even notice he’d left the table to join his friend, Micah, at the counter. “I’m not making this up. It’s all there.”

“Look, Henry—”

He knew she wasn’t going to say anything remotely reasonable after that. ‘Look, Henry’ was always the start of a lecture on how he wasn’t grown-up enough to understand something or how whatever he wanted was a Bad Idea. This was backed up by the fact that Emma gave him a total Mom look, the one which was a mix of kindness and impatience with just a touch of I’m-the-adult-here, and put the notebook down.

“—I know that it’s natural for kids to want their parents to be together, like you did with me and your dad—”

“Don’t even start with that.”

“Henry!”

“No! You don’t get to act like I’m just some stupid kid who doesn’t get it. I was ten when I wanted you and Dad together. Ten. I’m not a little boy anymore.” He slapped his hands onto the table. “This isn’t like that. This isn’t me wanting anything. I was fine when I lived week-about with you at the loft and here with Mom. But you’ve been here over a year now and you and Mom keep telling me and everyone else that you only live here because it’s what’s best for me, but that’s not all it is. It’s what’s best for both of you as well. This is our family, you and Mom and me. We’re happy, and you make each other happy. I’m not trying to push you together, because you’re already together. You’re basically married and I don’t know how you can’t see that. Maybe you’re just too shit-scared to admit it, but, please, read the book and you’ll see that I’m right.”

“I really don’t think that—”

“Please?”

Just as he thought he was getting through to her, Emma’s face hardened and she pushed back from the table, her chair scraping across the floor as she stood.

“No. You know what? I might not be the real Mom in this house, but I’m still your mother, which means that you don’t get to lecture me, and you definitely don’t get to swear at me.” She paced across the kitchen. “More than that, you shouldn’t have spied on your mom and me because you have no right to mess around in our lives. Do you honestly think she’d be happy to know what you’ve been up to, because I sure as hell don’t think so. Your mother is the most private person I know, and she’d resent the hell out of you for this. You can’t pry into her personal shit and then make all sorts of wild accusations about things which are none of your damn business.”

“But you love her! I know you do! And she loves you, too.” This wasn’t how he’d seen this playing out at all. He’d expected some minor resistance followed by a grudging acceptance of what he was trying to tell her. But this outright denial wasn’t right and wasn’t fair. And, what was worse, even in her denial, Emma was proving how much she loved Mom by making it about protecting Mom’s privacy and feelings and not her own.

“That’s enough.” She stormed over and picked up the notebook, pressing it into his chest. “You take this and you go to your room and you don’t come down until your mom comes home.”

“But—”

“Henry, for once, just do as I tell you and go to your room.” Her hands were balled into fists and her jaw was so tight, he thought the tendons in her neck might snap.

“Fine. Whatever.” He got up, but he slammed the notebook onto the kitchen island. “But you really should read this.”

Emma turned away from him. “No screens while you’re up there, either.”

+

He waited and waited and waited for Emma to come knock on his door, certain that she would forgive him as soon as she read the evidence. His heart sped up when he heard her footsteps on the stairs about half an hour after their fight, but she stomped past his door to her own room. She slammed her door even harder than he’d slammed his earlier.

He threw himself down on the bed, punching his pillows. He was angry with Emma for being unfair and at himself for not predicting that Emma would be unfair, because he should have known that she’d react badly to being confronted. He didn’t have time to think about what to do next before he heard Mom’s car pulling into the driveway. He jumped out of bed and opened his door at the same time Emma opened hers.

“I have no idea what your mom’s doing home early,” she said, “and we’ll talk later, but she doesn’t need to know about any of this, okay?”

He didn’t answer because he was thinking how weird it was that Mom was coming home unannounced, because Mom always, always texted what time she’d be home so that Emma wouldn’t worry because, oh yeah, Just Friends and not Totally Married.

“Emma! Henry!” Mom rushed into the house, her heels clacking across the hall. “Where are you?”

“Up here,” Emma called out. She was searching his eyes for something—some kind of reassurance that he wouldn’t cause a scene, he was guessing, seeing as he hadn’t answered her original question—so he stepped out of his bedroom to stand beside her, holding his hand out across his body for a fist bump. Emma grinned and bumped his knuckles, ruffling his hair for good measure.

“What are you two doing skulking up here?” Mom asked, appearing at the top of the stairs, removing her earrings and kicking off her heels.

“I was about to take a shower,” Emma said.

“I was doing some homework,” he said.

“Oh,” Mom said, smiling at them both and obviously not finding their behaviour suspicious. “Well, I’m afraid I won’t be able to join you for dinner tonight as I forgot that I’d arranged to meet the Storybrooke Heights Residents’ Association out at the community center. I barely have time to get changed, so this is really just a flying visit.” She bent over to pick up her shoes and, true to form, Emma craned her head so that she could get a better view of Mom’s ass.

“We can wait till you get home,” Emma said.

“Don’t be silly,” Mom said, heading into her bedroom, but leaving the door open so that they could keep talking. “I won’t be home before nine.”

“You need to eat, Regina.” Emma walked down the hallway and stopped outside the door, leaning back against the wall. Henry stayed where he was, waiting for some cue from Emma.

“They’ll be serving food at the meeting. I’ll pick up something there.”

“A stale Danish pastry and some lukewarm coffee is hardly dinner.”

“Which one?” Mom popped her head around the bedroom door, holding out two dresses in her right hand.

“Definitely the charcoal,” Emma said, but there was something strangely robotic about her voice, like she was on autopilot.

Mom kept talking from inside the bedroom as she got ready, reminding Emma about the permission slip for flag football which needed to be filled out, and mentioning that she would be late tomorrow as well, so could Emma pick up some wine at the grocery store because they only had one bottle left of the red they both liked, and she was still talking when she came into the hallway, turning her back to Emma. Emma reached down to pull the zipper up, smoothing her hands along Mom’s spine as she did so, and Mom gave her a grateful smile over her shoulder.

Mom didn’t seem to notice that she was maintaining a one-sided conversation, with only the occasional ‘uh-huh’ from Emma, who was mostly staring at the ceiling in the hallway while she clenched and unclenched her fists. Not knowing what else to do, Henry moved to stand next to her, but she didn’t acknowledge it or look his way.

When Mom reappeared from the bedroom, freshly changed, perfume and make-up reapplied, they followed her down the stairs. Emma reached for Mom’s winter coat and held it out for her to slip on without Mom having to say anything, and then Mom cupped his face and rubbed her thumb over his cheek, warning him that she’d know if they ordered pizza just because it was easier than heating the dinner she’d made for them.

Emma opened the front door and, as Mom passed, Emma’s cheek was already hanging out there, waiting to be kissed, and Mom kissed her like she always did, her left hand finding Emma’s hip and resting there for a moment. Emma watched Mom get into the car, and lifted her hand in an automatic wave as Mom pulled out of the driveway. When she closed the front door again, she rested her head against it.

“You’re right,” she said. “We need to talk.”

+

Emma went for a shower first, probably to have some time to herself, so Henry put the chicken casserole in the oven and boiled some rice to go with it. He’d already started eating by the time Emma reappeared, the Official Dossier in her hand.

“I read it,” she said, fetching her plate from the oven and sitting down opposite him. She opened the notebook and pointed to one entry. “She really does this?”

He read the page upside-down, and grinned. It was about Mom mooning and sighing over the flowers Emma had bought her.

“She really does.”

She nodded and picked at her meal, not really eating. “What’s DAF?”

“Dopey Adoring Face.”

“I hate you.” Her smile said otherwise and she turned to another page. “SEOV?”

“Special Emma-Only Voice.”

“TMT?”

He rolled his eyes. “Totally Married Touching. There’s an abbreviation key on the inside cover.”

“An abbreviation key?” She flipped back to check it out. “You are so your mother’s son.”

“No, no, I’m not. I’m your son just as much as I’m Mom’s son, and I think that I have the best and worst bits of both of you.”

“Maybe.”

She only asked a couple of other questions, both about things Mom did when she wasn’t around. When she was finished, she handed the notebook back to him.

“We’re really like that?”

He pushed his meal away. Like Emma, he wasn’t that hungry, because this was much more important than food. “You are so married, it’s not even funny.”

“God, I’m in so much trouble.” Emma dropped her head to the table and groaned.

“Why?”

She lifted her head, and she looked totally miserable, which was the complete opposite of what he’d been going for.

“Shit, shit, shit.” She punctuated each word by banging her head against the table again.

“Emma?” Her reaction was worrying him. “Is it not good?”

“What, that my fifteen-year-old son has to be the one to tell me that I’m in love with his mother? No, that’s awesome. That’s just fucking perfect. Also, don’t tell your Mom I swore like that in front of you.”

“Yeah, like she doesn’t know.” He was so relieved that Emma appeared to accept that she was in love with Mom. That was a good start, at least. “She knows everything.”

“Well, not everything.” There was humour in her voice, which was another good sign. “She obviously doesn’t know that she kisses me goodbye every time she leaves the house. She’d be horrified if she knew she did that.”

“Don’t be stupid. She wouldn’t be horrified.”

Emma screwed her face up. “Yeah, of course she would. If she had even an inkling of what she was like around me, she’d kick my ass to the curb so fast.”

“What?” That made no sense to him at all.

“Your mom hated being married. There’s no way she’d want that ever again, especially not with me.” Emma shook her head. “Not a chance.”

“But—”

“Trust me, I’m not what she wants.”

“Oh my God, how stupid are you?” He wanted to slap Emma on the back of the head, like she did to him when she was teasing him. He had no idea why Emma was deliberately misinterpreting the facts, but it was infuriating.

“Watch it, kiddo.”

“Did you even read what I wrote at all?”

“Well, yeah.” Emma shrugged and held her hands up. “And what that book says is that I have been deluding myself for a really long time, and that your Mom is the nicest person in the world for putting up with me.”

“That is not what it says.” Honestly, why was she making this so hard? “She’s in love with you. I have never seen her this happy, not even when I was a kid and it was just her and me and I didn’t know anything about the curse. And that’s you. You make her happy.”

“Maybe she’s happier now, but that’s only because we’re friends, and it’s nice to have people who’re there for you. Even though you’re a pretty decent kid when you’re not prying into things which don’t concern you, it’s hard being a single parent, and it’s a relief knowing that there’s someone else to share that with. Your mother has an awful lot of love in her to share and, despite what she says sometimes, she likes taking care of people. And she’s really good at it. The best, in fact. That’s what you’re seeing.”

“No, she loves you.”

“She does, but not like you want her to.” Emma’s smile broadened into a smirk as something occurred to her. “For a start, she’s not even into women.”

“Oh, and you know this because?” He smirked right back.

“We’re friends. We talk. She would have told me.”

“Yeah?”

“Yes.” She nodded, utterly convinced of her own rightness.

He waited, allowing the moment to become a Significant Pause. “Like you told her that you’re into women?”

“I’m, uh, well.” She furrowed her brow, and he had to laugh, because Emma looked adorably uncomfortable. “Right, you know, maybe we shouldn’t be talking about this after all.”

“Which bit? That you’re into women, that you’ve never told Mom that you’re into women, or that you’re in love with Mom?”

“The bit about my son being a gloating little know-it-all.” She scowled at him, but she was also half-smiling, like she knew he was right.

“You do love her, right?”

“Yeah.” Emma turned her head and ran her fingers through her hair, nodding. “I do, kid.” She didn’t exactly sound happy, though. “It doesn’t matter. We can’t tell her about any of this.”

“What? Why?”

She turned to face him and gave him a full-on Stare of Parental Wisdom. “Your mother’s happy, yes?”

“Yes.” He nodded, not sure why this needed checked, other than for Emma to be condescending.

“And, even if we don’t agree on exactly why she’s happy, we’re both pretty sure that the way things are now, the three of us together as a family, that’s what makes her happy?”

“I guess.”

“So, it stands to reason that the right thing to do is to keep things the way they are now, and not rock the boat by telling her about this and making her feel like we’ve been conspiring behind her back.”

“No!” Man, this had worked out so much better in his head than in real life. “The whole point is that, if you’re this happy when you don’t know that you’re married, how much happier would you be, would both of you be, if you, like, shared a room or whatever.” He held his hand to his forehead because she was making his head hurt. He was actually having to explain to Emma—his mother, for the love of all things holy—that Mom Sex was a Good Thing, which made this officially the worst day of his life, and he’d had a lot of really bad days, including being kidnapped and losing his soul and being sent away from his Mom because of the second curse.

Emma laughed at him, but it wasn’t unkind. “Oh, kid. I’m sorry.”

“Why are you sorry?”

“Because you’re a good boy, and I know you want the best for us, but life isn’t as easy as you want it to be.” She rubbed her hands together, and then scratched her palm, which was one of the things she did when she was feeling awkward and uncomfortable. “Your mom is the most amazing woman in the world, you know. She’s brave and strong in ways that we can’t imagine, and, if she ever wanted to be with me, I would consider myself the luckiest person in the world, because no-one loves quite like her.” Emma had a faraway look, and he knew she was picturing Mom, maybe one of her Only for Emma Smiles or maybe just Regular Everyday Mom, because Emma really did love everything about Mom. “But I know things about her that you don’t, things that you’ll never know because you’re her son, and some things a boy doesn’t need to know about his mother. I know how she feels about relationships and marriage and about making her own choices in life. If she really does feel the same way about me that I do about her, then she’ll figure it out. But we have to let her do that on her own. We can’t make plans or try to force her into something she doesn’t want.”

“But you didn’t know. I had to tell you.” It really wasn’t fair. Emma was missing the point by, like, a Grandma amount of missing the point.

“What was it Moe said?” Emma reached across and tapped the Big Book of Gay. “That I knew in my heart that I loved her, but the rest of me hadn’t caught up yet?”

“Something like that.”

“Well, I’m pretty sure that your mom is smarter than all the rest of us put together.” She smiled at him. “Okay, maybe not you, but she’s definitely smarter than me and most of the other people in this town. If your mom feels something for me, she’ll get there.”

He didn’t want to give in, but Emma had obviously made up her mind about everything already, and only Mom could make Emma change her mind about things. And that was only because Emma was in love with Mom, which was the Actual Point he was trying to make, and which Emma was trying so hard to avoid.

“So, what do we do, then?” he said.

“Nothing.”

“We can’t do nothing.” He’d gone to all this trouble and put all this evidence together, and Emma thought they should do nothing?

“Nothing new, I mean.” She stood up and cleared their plates from the table, walking over to the sink. “Right now, we have some ice-cream because your mom’s not here to tell us off, and because she expects us to eat ice-cream when she’s not here to tell us off, and we wouldn’t want to disappoint her. I know for a fact that she bought some caramel swirl last week.” She winked at him. “And a new tub of chocolate sprinkles.”

He did love caramel swirl with chocolate sprinkles. “And then?”

“Then, kid, we keep on doing what we’ve been doing.” She turned and leaned back against the sink. “We love her, and we show her that we love her, and we keep her happy with this weird little family we’ve built. And we trust that if there’s anything more she’ll work that out for herself.”

“But, right now we could put her in a wedding dress and send up her the aisle to you and she still wouldn’t work out that you’re together.”

Emma laughed. “How come she’s the one in the dress?”

He raised his eyebrow. “Emma, have you seen yourself?”

She looked down at her jeans and tank top and overshirt, then back at him, unamused. He shrugged and grinned back. What? He was telling the truth, and he hadn’t even mentioned the flannel thing.

“Get the bowls and spoons,” she said, shaking her head. “I’ll get the ice-cream.”

There was something he was still missing about all of this, because Emma was being very un-Emma. Watch and wait was the sort of plan Mom would come up with, whereas Emma was the one who wanted to act right away. Also, she’d given in way too easily, going from ‘I’m not what Mom wants’ to ‘Mom will work it out’ a bit too quickly. He set the bowls and spoons down and stared at the Big Book of Gay, thinking back through everything Emma had said, trying to find the moment where she’d misdirected him.

Emma came up behind him and slipped her arm around his shoulders, pulling him to her in a half-hug.

“Promise me something?” she said.

“Hmm?”

“Promise me you won’t say anything to your mom about any of this.” She rested her forehead against his temple. “I’m serious, Henry. She’s in a good place now, and what we have here works, and I don’t want to do anything in this world to take this happiness away from her.”

“Okay.”

She pulled back and tucked her finger under his chin, turning his head until she could see his eyes. “Promise?”

He nodded. “I promise.”

That seemed to appease her, and she set about spooning ice-cream into their bowls, generously adding chocolate sprinkles and extra caramel sauce, the one Mom made for them from sugar and condensed milk and which tasted like the happiest bits of his childhood.

“So, you never told me what happened with you and Grace today,” Emma said. “I know that everything we’ve discussed makes it look like I’m not the best person to give advice about women, but I’m willing to listen if you want to talk about it.”

Oh. My God.

Grace.

Grace was Mom, and he was Emma. He was Emma, and Emma was him: that was what he had been missing.

He had no game because he was Emma and Emma had no game. He hadn’t made a move on Grace because he was, as he had accused Emma of being, shit-scared. He was terrified of what it would mean if Grace turned him down and they couldn’t be friends anymore, and then he wouldn’t have Grace in his life at all. Emma didn’t want Mom to know anything because she actually believed that Mom would kick her to the curb. Emma didn’t want Mom to know because, despite over a hundred pages’ worth of evidence, Emma didn’t really believe that Mom was in love with her, and Emma was the one who was in a good place and didn’t want her happiness with Mom to be taken away.

Well, crap. Now he had no idea what to do.

* * * * *

Next up: Part 4[U]

2 Comments

  1. Lyn
    Posted 25 February 2015 at 3.17pm | Permalink

    Well, Regina and Grace better have some game, because these two are hopeless… They kinda remind me of me, damnit:P. I can’t wait to see how this plays out, Emma’s probably gonna try to be as normal as possible, which will be horribly awkward en nowhere near casual. Can’t. Wait.

  2. KB
    Posted 25 February 2015 at 9.00pm | Permalink

    I DAF love this story. Emma’s awkward physical manifestations of her inner turmoil (clenching and unclenching her fists, resting her head against the door after it closed etc.) are some of the special touches that make your stories ring true. Then there are the interactions between characters that are the difference between a nice little fic and something that rings real and true. I can totally see E&R’s little all-but-married daily life in my mind, along with E&H not so stealthily eating icecream like the two kids that they are. And the adorable little quips hidden away (“a Grandma amount of missing the point”) are just the cherry on the top of the icecream sundae. [Plus, OMG, caramel made from condensed milk … yum].

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