Disclaimer: These characters do not belong to me. The only profit I earn from this piece is your feedback, dear reader.
Summary: Magic in Storybrooke has all kinds of unpredictable consequences. Emma gets the surprise of her life—for the second time—and assumes Regina must be behind it. (Yes, it’s Magical Baby fic.)
A/N: Established Swan Queen, set months after the end of season 1.
Emma sat in the Nolans’ cheery kitchen, one leg drawn up so that her chin rested on her knee. Cocoa had sounded good when her mother offered it, but when Snow placed it on the table in front of her, the smell of the hot milk and cinnamon turned her stomach. She reached as if to pick it up but when Snow turned her back, she surreptitiously pushed the mug further away.
“So are you going to tell me or are you going to make me guess?” Snow asked over her shoulder.
“I thought I’d wait until you sat down, at least.”
Snow tilted her head as she turned back toward the table, carrying her own cocoa. “That sounds bad. Is it bad?”
“It’s…” Emma had practiced this in the mirror, but now she couldn’t remember a single word that she had planned to say. Finally, she took a breath and managed to get out the important part. “I’m pregnant.”
Snow blinked at her, very slowly. “I didn’t know that was something you were, ah, planning?”
“We weren’t,” Emma mumbled.
“I’m sorry, we are still talking about you and Regina, right?”
“It just kind of happened… magically.”
Snow choked on a mouthful of cocoa, her ears turning so red that Emma worried she might be having an allergic reaction to it. “Magically?” she sputtered.
“I guess it’s a thing that happens.”
Snow pinched her lips into a tight line and tapped at them with the fingertips of one hand. “Really?”
“I guess. What do I know?”
“You and… Regina.”
“Yup.” Emma puffed out her cheeks. This was turning out to be every bit as awkward as she’d expected—maybe even more so. She scratched at the embroidered tablecloth and waited for Snow to process that information. Snow made a shuddery, high-pitched noise, and when Emma looked up at her mother, it took a moment to realize that she wasn’t crying. She was laughing.
Snow was laughing so hard that her whole body shook. The hand over her mouth moved to cover her eyes instead, and Emma saw a single tear slide from behind Snow’s fingers. Emma leaned back in her chair, staring. She had guessed that Snow would be upset. She had been prepared for scolding, for shouting, for sobbing, but this? This was fully creeping her out.
After a minute, Snow took a few long, shaky breaths, clearly trying to compose herself. When she saw Emma’s stricken face, she reached across the table to take her daughter’s hand. “Oh, Emma, I am sorry, truly. I’m not laughing at you. I’m sorry.” This was followed by another burst of nervous giggling.
“It’s okay,” Emma reassured her. “People get weird when they get a shock.” She’d seen it often enough to know this was true, but Emma found that even saying it out loud did nothing to quell the little curl of hurt feelings that was squeezing her throat shut.
“It is a shock,” Snow conceded. “But I’m sorry anyway.”
Snow was guarded about her feelings about Regina, especially when Henry was around, which was most of the time. That was exactly why Emma had left him at home. If anybody was going to talk her out of this, it was going to be Snow. And it was going to be now.
“I know you think it’s a bad idea.”
“I think it’s not the choice I would make for you,” Snow countered. “But it’s not my choice to make.”
“She’s a good mom.” Emma didn’t know why she was trying so hard to pick a fight, but the little flash in Snow’s eyes at that was remarkably satisfying.
She wasn’t taking the bait, though. “Henry’s a special boy. He’s been good for her. So have you. And true love, well…”
“Who said anything about love?” Emma snapped. It was one thing to hear Regina say it, but it was quite another to hear the words in her mother’s mouth, wrapped in what sounded quite a bit like skepticism.
Snow put her hands up. “No, no one. You’re right.”
The apologetic tone made Emma regret the implied lie. “I mean, I do, actually,” she confessed. “Love her.”
With a small, sad smile, Snow nodded. “I know.”
“No,” Snow said, almost pleading. “Don’t be. Don’t be sorry for that.”
“I didn’t mean to. Love her. But she’s different now, I think. Or she wants to be.”
“Anyone can change their life, Emma. You did,” Snow reminded her, squeezing her hand.
Emma squeezed back and wondered how true that really was.
When Emma had mentioned to David that Regina was bored and restless, trapped inside the house as the weather turned colder and wet, he had sent home a few particularly bothersome files for the former mayor to work on. He had been trained to be a king, not a mayor, and in this realm his knowledge had all kinds of gaps that Regina had had decades to fill. Regina had blown through the work in an afternoon, making changes in her precise handwriting and leaving carefully instructive notes on almost every page. Although she hadn’t told Emma to ask for more to do, she was pleased to find that every few days, when the finished work disappeared, more was left in its place. It wasn’t exactly what she’d done as mayor, and it was still lonely, but it was satisfying, it passed the time, and while no one spoke of it, Regina knew that the steady stream of work was a silent vote of confidence.
Work for the mayor’s office was what she was doing when she found, toward the bottom of a stack of files, a slim blue folder labeled with her own address. She frowned as she flipped it open. The work was all complete, and so meticulously well done that Regina wondered if she herself hadn’t already worked on it without noticing. It was the content that made absolutely no sense. It appeared to be an amendment to the property line, moving it back to include a large swath of the woods behind the house. Clipped to the back cover of the folder, after the very last page, she found a note.
Things will be green again soon.
Thought you might like a walk in the woods.
It was signed with the round, swooping initial she associated with David’s signature. Regina worried her bottom lip between her teeth, wondering if it was worth holding on to the initial prideful indignation that made her want to sneer at the gift. After all, she reasoned, surely she deserved something in return for all the work she’d been doing. The town would probably have been falling apart at the seams otherwise. A glance out the window at the woods which were indeed beginning to look distinctly green made up her mind.
She found her favorite wool coat in the hall closet and let herself out through the sliding glass door at the back of the house. She intended to find out what was encompassed by the new property line and if there were any indication of the boundary once she was out in the woods, but she quickly came to a clearing that gave her pause. It was just deep enough into the woods that the house was no longer visible through the trees, and large enough that an oblong of clear blue sky could be seen where the treetops didn’t quite meet.
Without really thinking about it, she directed a few small bursts of flame to clear away some of the thicker underbrush. The persistent tingling itch at the place where her fingers met her palms lessened a bit when she did that, so she threw a few more flames toward the sky. An idea occurred to her, and she began to move her hands through the air with more purpose. She lifted and rotated stones, directing trees and vines with a crook of her finger, and coaxed flowers out of the ground that weren’t native to Maine—or anywhere, really. Inside her modern home, magic meant exploding light bulbs and slamming doors that shook the whole house, but the natural world was rather more forgiving. She gained momentum as she worked, transforming the clearing into a wild sort of garden.
Behind her, she heard a soft, “Wow,” and whirled, a little out of breath, to see Emma at the edge of the clearing. Her arms were shoved into the too-tight sleeves of a blue pleather jacket that hung open around her protruding abdomen. “You did this?” Emma asked, stepping toward her. “This is amazing.”
“I have a great many talents, Princess,” Regina replied evenly.
Emma smirked. “I’m aware.” She took in the rough stone bench, shaded by an arbor of interlaced trees. “This isn’t going to start singing or dancing or anything, is it?”
Regina rolled her eyes. “Fucking Disney,” she breathed. “You’re safe.” She watched as Emma lowered herself onto the stone slab. The blonde visibly relaxed when it didn’t shift under her weight.
“What’s all this for, anyway?” Emma asked.
“Henry always liked being outside, the park. Even when he was tiny.” She came to sit beside Emma. “If the little one takes after you at all, she’ll mutilate our yard. I thought I’d need a place to bring her.”
“You’re really good at this.”
Regina blinked in surprise at the open compliment. “Landscaping?”
“The kid stuff. Knowing what they need.” Regina looked at her sharply, wondering where Emma got that. But Emma appeared completely absorbed in her own thoughts. Tears in her eyes were threatening to spill over. “I don’t think I can do it.”
“Of course you can.”
Emma shook her head. “I look at Henry and he’s incredible. And it’s completely you. You did that. The only thing I’ve ever known for sure about raising kids is that I have no idea how to do it.”
“There’s no secret. No one gives you an instruction manual. It’s really just an alarming amount of guessing.”
Emma pushed at her tears with the heel of her hand. “That’s… not even a little bit reassuring.”
Regina shrugged. “So you’ll fail.”
“What the hell, Regina?” Emma threw up her hands.
“If you don’t know what you’re doing, it stands to reason that you’re going to fail,” Regina said, as if she were explaining a mathematical proof.
Emma sniffed and looked at her. “Seriously, that’s not making me feel better.”
“Why on earth would I be trying to make you feel better? You’re going to fail at parenting and ruin our child.” Regina reached into the pocket of her coat, pulled out an apple that could not possibly have been in there, and took a bite.
“Well, I’m not going to ruin her!” Emma wailed, not noticing right away that the corner of Regina’s mouth was twitching as she chewed. When she saw that she was being teased, she sighed, exasperated. “You can be a real bitch, you know that?”
“I’ve been told,” Regina replied, offering her the apple. Emma looked at it, then back at her, raising an eyebrow. Regina shrugged and took another bite herself. “You will, though,” she said, once she’d swallowed. “Just like with Henry. Sometimes, you’ll do the wrong thing. And you can sit around wondering why you did it and how you could have been so foolish or you can figure out what the next thing is and try to get that one right.”
Emma sighed deeply. “I know. I just get scared.”
“You’ll get used to it,” Regina promised.
Emma eyed the apple in Regina’s hand. “Got anything else in that pocket? Not an apple,” she added quickly. Regina thought for a moment, trying to remember if she knew how to do anything other than apples. Then she smiled and closed her eyes, concentrating as she reached into her pocket and produced a peach, soft and ripe and as warm as if it had been sitting in the afternoon sun.