Actions

Work Header

roses are red, violets are blue. wait -- do you really want me, too?

Chapter Text

“You know, you really don’t have to help me with all this. I can get it.” Emma eyed the woman with apprehension – Aurora looked all of a hundred pounds soaking wet, and she was currently squatting down to pick up one of the heavier boxes Emma had packed. If she remembered right, that one actually contained the weights she used at home in favor of a gym membership. She didn’t remember how much she’d actually thrown in the one box, only that she herself had struggled a little bit to get it into the U-Haul. 

“Nonsense,” Aurora replied, only panting a little bit as she hoisted it up. She gave a little nod as she got it into her arms, flashing Emma a smile. “You should see the things I have to lift at work. Nobody tells you that being a florist involves so many heavy bags of soil. You should see my biceps under this shirt.” With that she brushed past Emma, making her way into the apartment. 

Emma blinked, watching her carry it off effortlessly. She shook her head, loading her own arms up before making to follow her. 

Ruby was running around the apartment, picking up various clutter and mumbling apologies as she did so. Emma had just met the girl – she’d only decided to move to Storybrooke a few weeks ago, and she called up Aurora, at least happy to have an acquaintance in the area. They’d only met briefly a couple of years back at a hotel bar, but they’d exchanged phone numbers and kept in touch, and Aurora had mentioned that her friend Ruby needed a roommate – and, well, here Emma was, moving in with a stranger again. She’d been planning on finding a one bedroom somewhere, but hell, she wasn’t one to complain about splitting the cost of rent in a big city, and so far Ruby seemed nice enough.

“It’s really okay,” Emma called as the leggy brunette blew past her with a couple of jackets in her hands and raced over to the coat closet. The apartment wasn’t dirty by any means, and hey, Emma wasn’t exactly the neatest person alive, either. “You can relax, I’m not going to be mad about a little clutter.” 

Ruby shot her a half-embarrassed, half-appreciative look as she finished putting the jackets on hangers and closed the door to the coat closet. “I’m sorry. It’s been a few months since I’ve had a roommate.” She strode over to Emma, taking a few of the items out of her arms and carrying them off to Emma’s room. “I can help you with stuff, at least.” 

Emma shook her head, sputtering out the same things she’d said to Aurora when she’d insisted on coming over to help – you don’t have to do that, I can really handle it, I pack light anyway – but Ruby only rolled her eyes and kept going. Ruby poked her head out from the bedroom doorway, eyes trailing over Emma in a way that made her certain she was being assessed. 

“You’re no good at accepting help, are you?” Ruby said it good naturedly, a small smile on her red lips, and Emma blinked, a bit stunned at the blunt statement. 

Blunt, but accurate. “...I guess not.” She shook her head, passing Ruby to enter the bedroom and set her box down on the bed. 

Aurora laughed. “Don’t worry, she’s not always that blunt.” Ruby raised a brow, and Aurora shook her head. “Oh, wait. Yes, she is.” She flashed Emma a grin. “Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it.” With that she went out for more boxes. 

They had the U-Haul unloaded pretty quickly – Emma didn’t have much to bring, and the apartment was pretty small, anyway. Pizza showed up after that, and before she knew it, they were all sitting in the living room, beers in hand. Aurora was easy to get alone with, and Ruby was nothing short of ecstatic to have her. 

“I’ve missed having a roomie!” She offered Emma a bright smile before stuffing another garlic knot into her mouth. “We’re going to have so much fun together, just wait.” 

“Just don’t let her rope you into half-price margarita night at the restaurant. It never ends well,” Aurora warned, earning a laugh and a half-hearted smack on the arm from Ruby. “Oh, you know I’m right!” 

“Are you a server?” Emma asked, and Ruby nodded. The employment status of her new roommate was probably the kind of thing she should have found out before agreeing to move in, but Aurora had vouched for her and Emma had been willing to take it at face value. She filed that away in her brain in future life lessons , thankful that it had at least worked out this time. 

“Yep, at my Granny’s place. I’ve been working there since I was a teenager.” She shrugged. “It’s not glamorous, but it pays the bills. But enough about me. Aurora says you’re going to be working at the shop?” 

Aurora beamed, and Emma nodded. “You’re looking at Sleeping Beauty Blooms’ newest delivery woman.” 

Ruby clapped. “Oh, good! Rory’s always complaining about having to run out all the time. Maybe you’ll put an end to her whining.” 

Aurora rolled her eyes. “Not a chance. I’ll just find a new topic.” Ruby laughed, and Aurora shook her head. “Anyways, I should be going. I told my wife I’d be back by ten. You okay to be left alone with her?” 

“I think I’ll manage,” Emma replied with a smile as Ruby rolled her eyes indignantly. 

“We’ll do more than that. Just wait, we’re going to be best friends in no time,” The brunette chimed in. 

“I’m counting on it,” Aurora replied as she stood and grabbed her purse from the counter. “Are you still okay to start tomorrow, Emma? We can push it back, if you want. Give you a day to unpack and settle in.” 

Emma shook her head. “Nah. I like to keep busy. Besides, you saw my stuff. There’s not much unpacking to do.” 

“Fair enough. See you tomorrow, then.” She shot a pointed look towards Ruby. “Behave.”

“Yes, mom .”

Aurora left with a laugh, and with that, Emma was alone with her new roommate. Ruby leaned forward to pluck another slice of pizza from the box, and then curled her legs beneath her on the couch as she turned to Emma. 

“So, Emma. You single?” 

 

Emma found the flower shop the next day with ease. Storybrooke was a small town, and it was only a couple blocks over from the apartment. Sleeping Beauty Blooms was printed on a sign out front in neat, curling purple letters, decorated with images of roses and a couple of other flowers Emma didn’t recognize. 

She’d have to learn what things were called if she was going to work here, she thought. 

Then again, she was mostly going to be doing deliveries, from what she understood, so her minimal knowledge of the different kinds of blooms may be enough to get by. How many questions was she really going to be asked?

She swung the door open and a little bell chimed above her. A brunette woman poked her head out from among the rows upon rows of potted plants to her left. The woman was cute, from what Emma could see – she had a kind face, long, wavy hair pulled back into a ponytail, and she was sporting a flowy blue sundress. She had her hands full of little seedlings, and she rushed over to the counter to set them down before hurrying over to Emma, dusting dirt off of her hands. 

“Hi there! What can I do for you?” The woman had an accent, a lilt to her words – Australian, maybe? 

“Hey, uh, is Aurora around?” Emma asked, glancing around the shop, but she didn’t spot her. She turned back to the woman, offering her a friendly smile. “I’m Emma. I’m supposed to start today.” 

“Oh, Emma, hi!” The other woman held her hand out, and Emma shook it. “It’s so nice to meet you! I’m Belle. Aurora said you were coming. Come on, she’s just in the back.” 

Belle – Aurora was really leaning into the disney princess thing, apparently – waved for her to follow as she headed towards the counter. She slipped behind it and cracked the door that was back there, leaning inside and calling, “Rory! Emma’s here!” 

“Coming!” Came the voice from the other side, and Belle turned back to Emma, a bright smile on her face. 

“She’ll be right up.” Belle collected the pots she’d been holding in her hands once more, heading to the spot she’d been in when Emma had walked in. “So, you’re our new delivery woman, huh?” 

Emma nodded, stuffing her hands into her pockets. “Sure am.”

“Good! We could use one, that’s for sure. It’s just been the two of us. Aurora’s wife helps out here and there too, but she’s got her own job, you know? It’ll be nice to have some extra help around here.”

Aurora stumbled out from the back with dirt smeared over her jeans. She looked a bit disheveled compared to the night before – her hair was pulled into a scraggly ponytail, and she was tugging a pair of thick gardening gloves off of her hands. 

“Emma!” She offered her a dazzling smile, holding her hands out in a flourish as she added, “Welcome to the shop!” 

“Happy to be here,” Emma replied. 

“Well. I see you’ve already met Belle. Let me show you around.” 

Aurora gave her a brief tour – the shop wasn’t huge, but it was bigger than it looked from the outside. The door behind the counter led to a large back room that was filled with bags of soil and huge stacks of pots on the one side, and more flowers than Emma had ever seen in her life. Some of the plants were live, growing out of heavy fixtures by the wall with fancy lights above them. Others were just blooms, clippings residing in tall metal buckets, neatly arranged and labeled. There was a table in the middle of it all, surrounded by vases and housing stacks of ribbon and cards. A door at the back of that led to a small greenhouse.

“We grow everything we can support in house,” Aurora explained proudly. “Everything else we purchase from local farms or order in.” She nodded to a van parked in the driveway outside the greenhouse – large and dark green, with the shop’s logo painted across the side. There were flowers painted over the doors, too, and Emma thought it looked something like the mystery machine would if Daphne had decided to start a business. 

She decided not to voice as much. 

“That’s what you’ll be driving. I’ll be honest, though, most of our business is in-house. You’ll probably do a couple of hours of deliveries a day. The rest of it is going to be cleaning and helping customers. You okay with that?” 

Emma nodded. A job was a job – and she’d had far worse, at that. “Fine with me. Where do you want me to start?” 

 

Her first couple of days at the shop passed fairly uneventfully. Deliveries were slow – Emma made a couple each day, and then returned to the shop to do whatever needed done at the time. Aurora had her dethorning roses, for a lot of it – not her favorite task, but she managed to only stick her fingers a handful of times. She had to rely pretty heavily on Belle and Aurora for any of the customer’s questions, but she’d worked retail before, and that was pretty much the same. 

Ruby was pretty relaxed as far as roommates went. On her second day she even came home to find burgers from the restaurant waiting on the counter. 

“Perks of being the owner’s granddaughter,” Ruby called from the couch. “If they make too much I get to take it home. Help yourself.” 

It was her third day at the shop now, and Belle was finally showing her how to work the POS system. Emma watched as she tapped away at the buttons, barely looking up as the bell above the door chimed. 

“Hi, welcome to…” Her voice trailed off, words disappearing as she finally looked up. 

Finally looked up, and found herself face to face with the most gorgeous woman she’d ever seen in her life. 

Her hair was dark and glossy, cropped above her shoulders in a layered bob, and she was wearing a suit that probably cost more than Emma’s entire rent back in Boston. 

“Sleeping Beauty Blooms?” The woman prompted, a glint of amusement flashing through dark eyes. There was a smile pulling at the corners of her painted lips, and she watched Emma with a kind of casual appraisal that made her want to duck and hide beneath the counter. 

Emma cleared her throat, attempting to break herself out of the trance. “Right. That.” 

Belle snickered beside her, and Emma reminded herself that she didn’t know the other woman well enough to elbow her behind the counter. 

“I don’t believe we’ve met,” The woman replied, and Emma swallowed. Her voice was like…like velvet and dark chocolate, honey and…other sexy things that Emma was having a hard time coming up with at the moment. 

“We haven’t. I’m new,” Emma said. 

“I can see that.” She held out her hand, waiting until Emma clasped it to add, “Regina Mills.” 

Emma shook her hand, still feeling a bit dazed. “Emma. Uh, Swan.” 

“It’s nice to meet you, Miss Swan.” She held eye contact with Emma for another moment. Emma tried to quell the racing of her heart, to no avail. “Are you a florist?” 

Emma shook her head again. “Uh, no. I’m just the delivery woman.” 

Regina raised a brow. “Delivery woman? We’ll be seeing a lot of each other, then.” Her tone had dropped. That tiny quirking of her lips was now a full blown smirk, and Emma was certain that her cheeks had gone red. 

“I’ll just tell Aurora you’re here.” Belle finally cut in, a not-so-subtle amusement to her words as her eyes flickered over to Emma. Regina nodded her thanks, and a moment later Aurora was at the counter, taking over the conversation. Emma stepped back, trying not to let the relief show on her face. 

Regina and Aurora went over details of bouquets as Emma listened in. Regina was asking for blues and purples, and Aurora was rattling off names of flowers that Emma had never even heard of. Eventually they reached an agreement, and Regina nodded, saying, “I’ll pay you upon delivery, as always?” 

Aurora nodded, smiling. “Of course.” 

With that Regina turned her gaze towards Emma. “I’ll look forward to it.” With that she bid them all a good day, turning and leaving the shop with a little chime of the bell. 

The moment she cleared out both women’s gazes snapped to her.

“You are totally into her,” Aurora supplied, as Belle added, “That was the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.” 

Emma choked out, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” 

Aurora rolled her eyes as Belle snickered. “Yeah, right. You thought she was cute.” 

“I can’t blame you, she’s hot.” Belle added. 

“I –” Emma began, words failing her. “Even if I did, she’s probably straight.” 

Aurora straight up snorted . “Emma, if that woman is straight, so am I. And I have a wife .” 

“She’s right.” Belle smiled. “I know a gay woman when I see one, and Regina’s definitely not.” 

Emma rolled her eyes, trying to hide exactly how flustered she’d been left. “Whatever. Even if she is, there’s no way she'd be interested in me.” She sighed, adding, “So, she’s a regular, then?” She wasn’t sure how she felt about the idea – on the one hand, the woman was a work of art. It wouldn’t exactly be the worst thing in the world to see her often. On the other hand, if the last few minutes were any indication, Emma would be rendered into a stuttering mess each time. 

Aurora nodded. “She owns a local business. She likes to have fresh flowers for her office. She gives me almost total creative freedom, you know. It’s pretty nice.” 

Fresh flowers for her office. 

Flowers only lasted, what, a couple days in a vase? Maybe five? 

“Exactly how often does she get flowers delivered?” Emma asked, just a tiny bit of panic making it through to her words. 

“Every single week,” Aurora replied, chipper as ever. “Sometimes twice.” 

Emma groaned internally. 

She was fucked.

Chapter Text

Emma’s first delivery to Regina’s office came sooner than she would’ve liked. 

It’s not that she didn’t want to see her again. She was gorgeous, and she made Emma’s heart stutter in a way she hadn’t felt in a very long time. But that was exactly the problem: She was just destined to embarrass herself, she knew it. Emma had a chronic case of foot-in-mouth disease for which there was no cure. 

Aurora and Belle had spent the better part of the last few days teasing her mercilessly about her first meeting with Regina. As annoyed as she was, she really couldn’t blame them – she’d become a mess as soon as she’d laid eyes on Regina. Which, really, Emma thought, she couldn’t be blamed for – the woman was something else to look at. 

That was what Emma told herself, anyway. It made her feel just a hair better about the situation. 

Aurora set out the deliveries for the day on the table in the back as usual, addresses and details neatly printed out on a list for Emma to reference. Only this time, she was hovering, waiting to see Emma’s reaction as she skimmed over the list. 

There, four deliveries down, the last one of the day, was Regina’s name. 

Emma wasn’t sure whether or not to be grateful for the timeline that Aurora had outlined. At least it gave her some time to mentally prepare. 

The first several deliveries passed uneventfully. One to an elderly couple’s home, a couple to business addresses that she left at the front desk. 

And, hey – maybe she’d get to do that with Regina. Aurora had said she liked fresh flowers for her office , right? It would only make sense to leave them with the receptionist – 

But, of course, she had no such luck. 

She strode up the receptionist, vase in hand, and the woman took one look at her after hearing where she was from and gestured to the elevator. 

“Fifth floor, take a right.” She’d then turned back to her computer, bored. 

Emma swallowed, entering the elevator and pressing the little 5 with shaky hands, all the while scolding herself for being so dramatic. The elevator began to ascend, the cheery music mocking her.

It was just a delivery, after all. This was her job. This was Regina’s job. Surely nothing could go that wrong in an office setting, right? All she had to do was say hi, sit the flowers down where she was told, and leave. 

Right?

The fifth floor was just as opulent as the lobby had been, and seemed to be entirely designed with Regina’s office in mind. There were a few other doors to Emma’s left and right, but Regina’s office was straight back – there was no question that it was hers, even if Emma was still too far away to read the etching on the door. It was the only one with an assistant’s desk directly in front of it, and there was even an inlay on the floor that led directly back.

Emma found herself briefly questioning why a business this successful would’ve set up shop in Storybrooke, Maine, of all places – but hey, to each their own. 

At least it meant she got to talk to Regina. 

Wait. 

The assistant smiled brightly at her the moment she approached, eyes dropping to the flowers before meeting Emma’s once more. “Miss Swan, welcome,” She said, and Emma blinked. She hadn’t been expecting that . Did that mean…did that mean that Regina had mentioned her? Her suspicions were confirmed when the assistant continued, “Miss Mills has been expecting you.” 

“She has?” Emma asked, and the other woman’s eyes flashed. 

“Absolutely. She always looks forward to her flowers.” 

Oh.

Emma tried to tamp down the disappointment that rose in her chest at the statement. That made more sense, anyway. It had been silly of her to think Regina might have been looking forward to seeing her , too.

The assistant offered her another smile before pressing a button on her desk phone. After a moment, Emma heard Regina’s voice, and it made her heart flutter all over again. 

For fuck’s sake. She needed to get herself under control

“Miss Swan is here with your bouquet,” The assistant informed her. 

“Thank you, Bridget. Send her in, please.” 

There was a little click over the line and then the assistant nodded to her. “Go on ahead then.” 

Emma nodded, thanking her as she pushed her way into the office. She stopped in her tracks as soon as she entered. 

Regina’s office was the definition of luxury . Emma should have been expecting it based on the hallway alone, but… damn

Her desk was straight back, at the center of the back wall, glass and metal framework that just screamed Regina .  To Emma’s right, there was a seating area with several plush couches and armchairs facing a fireplace. To the left were filing cabinets, several potted plants, and a lavish table with a decorative decanter of what was definitely alcohol. 

“Hello, Miss Swan.” Regina greeted her, standing from her seat at her desk to meet Emma halfway into the room. She was wearing a tight black dress today, and Emma had to actively fight to not let her eyes linger on the small slit at her thigh. “It’s lovely to see you again.” 

Yeah, Emma was screwed. 

“You too,” She managed to choke out as the other woman approached her. 

“I trust you found your way to my office alright?” 

Emma nodded. As if the receptionist, assistant, and fucking trail inlaid into the flooring wouldn’t be enough. “I did, thanks.” She paused, shifting uncomfortably as Regina simply stood in front of her, a smile on her lips. “...Well. Here’s the bouquet.” She lifted the vase, presenting it, and Regina took it from her with amusement in her eyes.

“These are violets.” Regina held the arrangement out in front of her, inspecting it. 

“Yep, violets. There’s...a lot of them. Aurora thought they were pretty, I guess.” Emma rocked back on her heels, hands clasped in front of her as she avoided eye contact with the intimidating businesswoman.Violets were at least one of the handful of flowers that she could identify. “So...do you like them, then?” 

“I do.” Regina set them down on one of the many decorative tables in her office. “Are you aware of the meaning that violets hold, Miss Swan?” 

“Uh,” Emma swallowed. “I’m not, no.” 

“They symbolize faith, and affection.” Regina folded her hands behind her back. “But also love. Are you familiar with the poet Sappho?” 

“...Yes.” Check and fucking mate , Emma thought. She might as well wear a rainbow on her forehead, for fuck’s sake. Although, if Regina knew her too, that had to mean – 

“Good.” Regina regarded her with a glint in her eye. “She would often write about violets, and about adorning her lovers with them. So much so that violets are now associated with sapphic women. That is, women who love other women.” She reached out to trace the edge of the petals of a few of the flowers. “They really are quite beautiful. Tell Aurora she’s outdone herself.”
And, oh, if Emma thought her heart was racing before, it was a thousand times faster now. “I will, thank you.” She stood there awkwardly for a moment, wondering whether or not that had been a dismissal. But then she was saved by the ringing of Regina’s phone, and the other woman shot her an apologetic glance. 

“I’m sorry, Emma. We’ll talk next week?” She asked, and Emma nodded. She replied with a smile before answering the call and pressing the phone to her ear. 

Emma took that as her signal to leave, and retreated from the office with only a slight sweat on her brow. 

That could have gone worse…right? 

 

When she returned to the shop, there was a woman she’d never seen before lounging in the back room. She was sat on the counter without a care in the world as Aurora darted circles around her, plucking bloom after bloom and arranging them into something beautiful within the vase she had set out. 

“Honestly, babe, we had pork chops three nights ago. Can’t you pick something new?” Aurora asked as she snagged a few white roses and added them to the arrangement. 

The other woman shrugged. “You make them delicious,” Was all she said, and Aurora paused her flitting to look her in the eye and shake her head. 

“You’re not getting out of this with flattery,” She replied. 

Emma cleared her throat, feeling a bit like she was intruding on something. 

Aurora jumped immediately, spinning around. The woman on the counter only glanced up, a small smile gracing her lips. “Emma! You’re back! How’d it go?” 

“Fine, thanks,” Emma said. “Are you going to introduce us?” 

The woman on the counter turned that smile to Aurora, who glanced between them, eyes widening. “Oh! Of course! Emma, this is my wife, Mulan. Mulan, this is Emma. She’s our new hire I told you about.” 

Mulan nodded, pushing off of the counter and striding over to hold a hand out to Emma. Honestly, did everyone around here shake hands? What the hell happened to a good old-fashioned nod? 

Still, Emma took it. Mulan had a kind aura about her, despite the stoic impression she threw off. 

“Nice to meet you, Emma.” 

“You too,” Emma replied. 

The other woman’s eyes flashed, and Emma felt a sinking in the pit of her stomach. “So, I hear my wife is trying to hook you up with Regina Mills.” 

She felt her cheeks heat up, and, really, there was no use trying to deny it. “She is, yeah. Maybe you can talk some sense into her.” 

But, to her surprise, Mulan only shook her head. “I think you should go for it. Regina’s a…complicated woman. She could use somebody in her life.” 

Thank you ,” Aurora said. She took a couple steps backwards, eyeing her latest creation. “It’s missing something. What do you think?” She glanced over at Mulan, who tilted her head. 

“This is a romantic bouquet?” 

Aurora nodded. “Romantic, but traditional.” 

Mulan frowned. “Do you have any gardenia in? The dark leaves would look nice. It’d fit with the theme, too. Purity and all that.” 

“You’re a genius.” Aurora planted a kiss on her wife’s cheek, before darting off to pull a couple of large white blooms from one of the various buckets. 

“You really know your flowers,” Emma commented, and Mulan shrugged. 

“Side effect of marrying a florist, I guess.”

“Makes sense,” Emma replied, but then she fixed her gaze onto Aurora. “You know who else really seems to know her flowers? Regina.” Emma eyed the other woman, eventually asking, “You sent violets on purpose, didn’t you?” 

Aurora shrugged, feigning innocence. “I don’t know what you mean.” 

“Please! Regina told me all about how women used to send them for like, gay love and all that.” She shook her head, tossing her keys onto the counter. “I told you, Aurora, she’s pretty. That’s all.” 

“Pretty and single ,” Belle chimed in, the door thudding behind her as she blew into the back room. “And gay.” After a moment, she added, “Wait, Regina said? You saw her?”

“When did you even get here?” Emma shot her daggers, and Belle grinned. “Even if she is gay, she’s way out of my league. I’m not going there. End of discussion.” 

“Oh, not even ,” Aurora protested. “You saw her? Like, in her office?” 

Emma eyed her, shrugging. “Yeah? So?” 

So ,” Aurora began, “She usually just has me drop them off with her assistant. She must have wanted to see you if you made it all the way to her office.” 

Aurora and Belle shared a conspiratory look, and Emma only rolled her eyes. Her heart was fluttering, though, and her palms felt clammy. So maybe Regina really had wanted to see her –

She shook her head. “Yeah, right. She probably just…” Emma trailed off, words dying in her throat as she realized she really couldn’t come up with a rationalization. Mulan seemed to realize the same thing, breaking into a grin, and Emma frowned. “Whatever,” She grumbled, and then left the back room to go and tend to her daily tasks. 

 

Emma spent the better part of the next week fidgeting through her days, bouncing from task to task and trying not to think about the brunette who had captivated her every waking moment for the last week and a half. Even Ruby noticed that something was up, and when pushed hard enough Emma had spilled, telling her all about the other woman and Aurora’s seemingly devious plan to set them up. 

And, of course, Ruby had all but squealed, jumping up and clapping. She’d nearly begun planning their wedding on the spot.

And now, Emma had finally come in to find Regina’s name on the delivery list once more. Instant panic had clutched at her ribs – panic, and then excitement, and then lust , of all things, and jesus christ , she was a grown woman. She needed to get ahold of herself. 

She’d been directed up to Regina’s office, the same as last time. Only, when she’d gotten inside, Regina had blown past her almost immediate.y. 

“I’m so sorry, Emma, I have to deal with something real quick.” Regina cast an apologetic glance over her shoulder as she rushed out of the room, looking uncharacteristically disheveled. “You can set those down on my desk. I’ll be back in a moment to pay you.” 

“Oh — Yeah, okay,” Emma nodded, and then the door was closing behind the brunette. She stood there for a moment, vase in hand, a little bit stunned. 

That was the first time Regina had ever called her by her first name.

It made her heart skip a bit, and shook her head, suddenly aware of the weight of the bouquet in her arms. She set the pot gingerly down on Regina’s desk. She studied the flowers that it contained – the only ones she recognized were the tiny purple blooms scattered throughout – violets, again. She made a mental note to tell Aurora off the moment she returned.

“You should ask her out, you know.” 

Emma jumped at the voice, whirling around to find a teenager on Regina’s couch.

“Uh,” she said, and the kid broke out into a grin. “What?” 

“I said , you should ask her out.” 

Emma only stared at him, and he continued on. 

“Mom’s favorite flowers are roses and lilies,” he informed her. “Red ones. Predictable, I know, but hey. She likes the classics. Oh, and orchids, if you really want to impress her.” 

“Thanks, I guess? But I’m not planning on asking her out.” Hell, she’d only met the woman a week ago – 

“Listen. All I’m saying is that she’d say yes if you did.” He shrugged, adding, “She even told my aunt Kat about you. She called you the blonde with  —“ 

The door opened then and Regina barreled in, looking ever so slightly disheveled as she greeted Emma with a smile. She smoothed her hands over the wrinkles in her skirt. “So sorry about that. Let me grab my wallet.”  She glanced between Emma and the kid as she did so. “I see you’ve met my son, Henry. I trust he behaved himself for you?” She cast a stern glance his way and he put on an innocent face.

“Of course, mom.” 

Emma rolled her eyes while Regina couldn’t see, but she decided not to rat the kid out. 

For now, at least.

“He was an angel,” she said. “He must get his perfect manners from his mother.” 

Regina turned towards Emma, holding out her corporate credit card, and Henry stuck his tongue out at her behind his mother’s back. Emma fought the urge to return the gesture as she took the card and swiped it through the portable reader and then held out her phone for Regina to sign. 

The brunette, for her part, didn’t seem to register the dialogue between the others. She only took Emma’s phone from her hand, signing. She took a moment more than Emma thought she would, and Emma’s heart fluttered as she saw the brunette tap at the keyboard. 

“You don’t have to leave a tip,” she sputtered out. “I know it asks,” She added, when Regina flicked an amused glance her way. “Just. You don’t have to do that.” 

“You’re kind, Emma.” Regina replied, tapping at the screen a few more times and then handing it back to Emma. The screen simply read transaction completed , and Emma swallowed down her nerves. “But I want to thank you for bringing them all the way to my office. You deserve a tip. Unless you’d prefer I say thank you another way?” Regina tilted her head with the question, and Emma felt her face light up red. 

“I…” She stumbled over her words, and then heard a distinct gagging noise from over in the seating area. 

Regina’s attention snapped over to her son.  “Henry Daniel Mills, that’s enough.” Her voice was firm but affectionate, and Henry’s head popped up over the couch again, a shit-eating grin on his face. 

“Sorry, mom.” She raised a brow, and Henry turned to Emma. “Sorry, Emma.” 

Emma nodded, at the same time as Regina said, “Thank you.” She turned back to Emma, shaking her head. “Teenagers.” With that she sighed, moving to admire the bouquet instead. “Well. Thank you for the delivery, Emma. These are beautiful.” She reached out to caress the blooms with the tips of her fingers. “Violets again, I see.” 

“Violets again,” Emma confirmed. “Aurora has a…sense of humor, I guess.” 

Regina turned to face the other woman again, a glint in her eye. She plucked one of the tall blue flowers from the bunch, stepping forward to tuck it into the fold of Emma’s shirt. Emma’s breathing stilled as the brunette’s fingers worked deftly with the fabric, their skin briefly making contact. It was enough to make her dizzy, but it was over in seconds, and then Regina had stepped back, a mischievous smile gracing her lips. 

“Do me a favor,” She began, eyes flicking from the flower back to meet Emma’s. “Ask Aurora about the meaning of that one when you get back.” 

Breathless, Emma only nodded. “Will do.” They stood there for another moment, Regina watching her expectantly, and then Emma stepped back. “Right. I should be getting back then. Good to see you again.” She peered over at the couch, where Henry was still watching them. “Nice to meet you, kid. Try not to give your mom too hard of a time.” 

“No promises,” He replied, and Emma rolled her eyes, making her way out the door. 

When she returned to the shop the place was empty of customers, Aurora relaxing against the counter as she filled out their supply orders for the week. Mulan was lounging in a chair behind her, coffee in hand, and she raised it to her in greeting. 

“Hey, Em. I brought you one too.” She gestured over to the countertop where a drink carrier was sitting, one paper cup remaining. 

“Thank you,” Emma smiled, shuffling over to take the drink. Mulan had given her the nickname almost immediately, and for a moment she allowed herself to soak in the warmth of having a friend that cared enough to do that, to include her in the coffee run – that was, until Aurora caught her wrist just as she reached for it and tugged her closer. “Hey, what –” 

What is in your shirt?” She asked, a mischievous glint in her eye that told Emma she knew well the answer to that question. “Did you put that there?” 

Oh, boy. 

Here we go , Emma thought, noting the way Mulan perked up at the question, eyes brightening in a mirror of her wife’s as she caught sight of the petals. “Nothing. Regina gave it to me. As a thank you,” She added lamely, knowing very well that there was no use trying to deter them, not now. 

“I bet she did.” Aurora smirked. “Interesting that she picked that one out of all the ones I put in that arrangement. Did she tell you what it is?” 

Emma shrugged. “Lavender, right?” 

Aurora shook her head. “Honestly, Emma. One of these days you’re going to have to learn to differentiate. Close, but this is blue salvia. More importantly, did she tell you what it means ?” 

Do me a favor. Ask Aurora about the meaning of that one when you get back.

Emma sighed. “No, she didn’t. She…told me to ask you, actually.” 

That smirk broke into a grin, and Aurora finally released her wrist, reaching instead to pluck the flower from Emma’s shirt. 

“Hey!” Emma protested. Not that she would admit it to Aurora, but there had been something special about the fact that Regina had put it there in the first place, something intoxicating about the way her fingers had moved over the neckline of Emma’s shirt. 

“Oh stop, you can have it back in a second. This,” She began, holding the bloom up so that Mulan could see it. “Actually, wait. Belle, come out here! You have to see this too!” She called. 

Belle popped her head out from the back a moment later. “What is it?” 

Aurora waved the flower in front of her. “Regina put this in Emma’s shirt . And told her to ask me what it meant.” 

Belle’s eyes widened, glancing between Emma and the flower as she broke into a smile. “Now isn’t that interesting.” 

Emma huffed, reaching out for the flower. Aurora ducked out of Emma’s reach. “Can you just tell me what it means and give it back, please?”

“Don’t worry, you can have your little gift from your girlfriend.” She twirled it between her fingers. “But Emma, blue salvia means I’ve been thinking of you .” She held the flower back out and Emma took it back immediately, tucking it back into her shirt. Aurora clapped her hands together, spinning back to her wife and Belle, squealing as if she wasn’t the one who had set the arrangement up in the first place.  “Isn’t that just so romantic? Regina’s thinking of you, Emma.” 

And, okay. Emma would be lying if she said she didn’t really like the thought of that. 

“You’re blushing,” Mulan chimed in, in that matter-of-fact way she had. Emma stuck her tongue out at her, reaching for her coffee. “Oh, and you’re very mature.” 

“Thank you for the coffee,” Emma replied, pulling the stopper out and taking a healthy swig of the hot liquid. It burnt her tongue, but it was a welcome distraction from the embarrassment. 

Mulan smirked, and that was almost worse than Aurora’s squealing. “You’re welcome.” 

Emma pushed past them all with a roll of her eyes. “Whatever. I told you all, she’s out of my league. Maybe she thinks it’s Aurora who’s flirting. She knows you’re the one making the bouquets.” 

Mulan shook her head. “She’s met me several times, Em. She’s hitting on you.” 

Emma shook her head, swinging the door to the back room open as Belle snickered. As much as she loved the idea of Regina flirting with her, that would just be too good to be true. Henry’s words came to mind – you should ask her out! She’d say yes – but then again, he was just a kid. A kid who probably just thought his mom was lonely. She heard Aurora’s laughter behind the door, and busied herself with dethorning roses.

Chapter Text

Emma tossed her coat over the back of the chair near the door as soon as she entered the apartment. It was a habit of Ruby’s that she’d quickly fallen back into after a couple of days of Emma living with her – and honestly, it had come as a relief to Emma, who had been stressing out over Ruby’s near-compulsive need to pick up every bit of clutter. Slowly, she’d started to slip back into habits that were more befitting of a working adult, and Emma had been able to relax a little more each time, realizing that she didn’t need to keep things spotless to keep her relationship with Ruby from getting strained. 

Ruby poked her head over the couch. “Hey, Emma. How was work?” 

Emma shrugged, not really wanting to bring up her encounter. She’d dealt with enough needling from the girls at the shop, and she wasn’t really wanting to trigger the onslaught from Ruby as well. They meant well, really – but it was embarrassing, and honestly, Emma didn’t really want to linger on the idea of something that she couldn’t have. 

Because even if Regina was flirting with her – which, okay, after today seemed pretty likely – she probably didn’t want anything serious, and Regina was the type of woman to take over Emma’s thoughts completely. 

She already occupied enough space in Emma’s mind, and nothing had even happened between the two of them. If they shared so much as a kiss…and then Regina pulled away from her? Emma shook her head, trying to clear it. She didn’t want to think about that. 

“Not bad. You off tonight?” Emma eyed the other woman. She was lounging against the arm of the sofa, a raggedy tank top and a pair of thick sweatpants a stark contrast to her daytime wear. 

Ruby confirmed as much with a nod. “Tuesday nights aren’t exactly busy.” She held up a slice of pizza, gesturing to the coffee table. “I ordered pepperoni. Wanna join me?” 

Emma smiled. “Sure. I’m just gonna change.” Really, one of these days, one of them was going to have to start cooking more often.

Emma threw on her comfiest set of pajamas, thinking to herself that she deserved a bit of relaxation tonight. She soon settled onto the couch beside Ruby, who tucked up her feet to make room without complaint, and busied herself with eating pizza and scrolling through her phone. Ruby had some movie on the tv — some old, B horror film, from the looks of it — and Emma let the dialogue and dramatic violins become background noise. 

It wasn’t until late that night that Emma realized what Regina had been doing when she’d held her phone for a few moments extra. She wouldn’t have noticed, probably, if she hadn’t been closing out her open apps. 

She never opened the contacts app. She really didn’t need to – almost everyone she talked to had an open text message on her phone. But there it was, hovering in her open apps – she tapped it and it opened to a contact that she definitely hadn’t entered herself.

She would’ve remembered. 

Holy shit. 

Emma sat straight up with the realization, earning a questioning glance from Ruby. They’d settled into a movie marathon, Emma sinking into the cushions with her feet propped up on the table, and she hadn’t moved in hours.

“What’s wrong?” Ruby asked, brow furrowed.

Emma blinked, eyes flickering up to meet Ruby’s and then back down to the screen. “…Regina’s number is in my phone.” 

“…What?” 

Regina’s number is in my phone, ” Emma repeated, eyes wide. That wasn’t — she hadn’t —

No, because Regina had. 

She must’ve. Emma remembered the extra several moments she’d taken when she’d paid for the flowers, the way she’d tapped a few keys on the screen. Emma had assumed she’d been leaving a tip, but…clearly not.

Oh, fuck. 

Under business, it simply read call me

…Oh, fuck

Ruby sat up too, at that, leaning over to get a look at Emma’s screen. Emma tilted it towards her, and Ruby’s eyes lit up.

Wait , you mean the business hottie from your first day? That Regina? Em, this totally means she’s into you. When the hell did you get her number? You didn’t tell me!” 

“I…” Emma shook her head. “She must’ve put it in my phone when she paid for the flowers today.” 

Ruby pouted. “You didn’t even tell me you saw her!” 

Emma at least had the decency to send her an apologetic glance. “Sorry, Ruby. I was just…tired. The girls at work spent all day teasing me about it and I kind of wanted to put her out of my mind for a while.” 

Ruby softened at that. “Why the hell would you want to do that, Emma? She likes you. Aren’t you, I don’t know, excited? Unless…are you not into her? You seemed pretty far gone for her like, a couple days ago.” 

“No, no, I am. ” Emma sighed. “It’s just…she was flirting with me today, too. And I don’t know. She’s just so…commanding. I’ve only seen her three times and each time she’s been wearing some designer suit. I mean, look at me.” She gestured to herself, baggy t-shirt and flannel pajama pants, all neatly topped off with a light layer of pizza crumbs.

“Emma, I hate to break it to you, but I’m sure she wears pajamas, too.” The words were teasing, but she said them with a kind smile, and it grew when Emma laughed, too. 

“You know what I mean, Ruby.” It wasn’t just the way that she dressed – though, that was part of it, too. She thought back to what had become her standard work outfit: dirty blue jeans that were already starting to get holes in the knees from kneeling on the concrete floor of the shop, and her scuffed up boots that were leaning by the door. She’d at least taken to wearing nice shirts –  not nearly Regina nice, but pretty blouses that allowed her to at least pretend that she’d put some effort in. There was dirt beneath her fingernails, and she was fully aware of the fact that she smelled like fertilizer and chlorophyll. Regina, on the other hand, carried with her a regal presence everywhere she went. Emma found herself stunned by the other woman’s presence every time she saw her, with her perfectly styled hair and manicured nails – not that Emma had spent that much time staring at her hands. Right. “I’m…not like that. I’m just…me.” 

Ruby just scoffed and rolled her eyes. “Yeah, you’re Emma, and you’re hot . You know you’re hot, right? I’d fuck you myself if I wasn’t worried it’d mess up the whole roommate dynamic.” She shook her head. “Tried that once before, it was such a disaster.” Her eyes flashed, and she plucked Emma’s phone right out of her lap, ignoring Emma’s indignant hey! as she did so. She held it out, screen facing Emma. “Passcode,” She demanded. 

“Why?” Emma asked, suspicion lacing her words. “What are you going to do?” 

“I’m going to text her for you since you won’t do it yourself, you dumbass. What, you think you aren’t worthy ? That’s the dumbest shit I’ve ever heard, and I’m going to prove it to you when she responds right away. She’s probably been watching her phone all day.” 

“Uh-uh, no.” Emma snatched the phone back, tucking it safely inside her bra, where she was certain – well, somewhat certain – that Ruby wouldn’t reach. 

“Why the hell not? I’m not going to say anything weird. Just, something like, hey, it’s Emma!” 

“Because I don’t want to seem desperate,” Emma sighed.  “I’m going to give it like, a day or two. Also, it’s midnight.” 

Ruby rolled her eyes and sat back against the armrest with only a little bit of dramatic flair. “Alright, fair enough. But you have to tell me what happens when you finally do.” They sat in silence for a moment while Ruby nursed her beer. “So, when do I get to meet her? Or at least see a picture?” 

Emma scoffed, but she couldn’t help the little smile that was pulling at her lips. Having friends that actually cared about her love life was nice, even if they did insist on being absolutely insufferable about it. She hadn’t had that in Boston. “Let’s wait until we can actually establish that this is going anywhere first.” 

“Fair enough.” Ruby smirked at her over the rim of her mug. “But I want to be the first to know when you two hook up.” 

“You have my word.” Emma shook her head. “Oh, that reminds me. Aurora wanted me to tell you we’re invited to drinks and dinner at her place tomorrow.” 

“Oh, cool.” Emma eyed her for a moment, contemplating, and she added, “What?” 

Emma shrugged. “Nothing. I think she wants to introduce you to Belle. You two would be good for each other.” 

“Hmm.” Ruby rested her chin in her hand as she considered. “I met her once, at the shop. She’s cute, in a bookish kind of way. Yeah, okay. That could be fun. I’ll wear something cute.” 

Emma eyed her. “And you won’t say anything to them about Regina’s number?” Ruby pouted, and Emma added, “Seriously. They’ll never let it go.” 

“Alright, fine. I promise.” 

Emma held out her hand towards Ruby, one pinky stuck out, and Ruby hooked her own into it. 

Pinky promise,” She corrected herself, and Emma smiled. 

“Thank you.” 

Ruby softened again, and after a moment, she added, “You know, Emma, she’d be lucky to have you. If it really turns out that she doesn’t see that – which I doubt it will – she’s an idiot.” 

Emma returned that soft little smile, the rock that had permanently settled in her chest for years lightening just a little. “Thanks, Ruby.” 

 

The end of the next workday rolled around pretty quickly. They were steady, just busy enough to keep Emma busy, but slow enough that she could still get things done. 

The little bell at the door chimed and Emma looked up as a woman entered, prepared to go and help her, but Aurora called out a greeting almost immediately.

“Hi, Kathryn!” The words were accompanied by a bright smile, and she cleared away a little bit of the clutter on the desk in preparation. 

A regular, then, Emma reasoned. She was normally the one to take clients at the desk nowadays, but Aurora was already behind it, and she seemed to know this woman, anyway. Emma resumed her sweeping of fallen leaves and shriveled petals. 

“Hi, Rory!” The blonde replied with a smile, before pressing her phone back to her ear. “No, I’m at the florist. Yes — I’ll be home in 30 minutes, Fredrick. Just change the damn diaper. You can make it a half hour on your own.” She hung up the phone with an eye roll. “Men.” She glanced up, making eye contact with Emma. “Don’t ever marry one, they’re far more trouble than they’re worth.” 

“I’m a lesbian,” Emma blurted out, regretting it immediately as the customer’s eyes widened a bit. “...So that’s not a problem,” She added lamely. She heard a snicker come from behind the counter, and she shot a glare Belle’s way, who did absolutely nothing to hide the fact that the laughter had come from her.

The woman – Kathryn – replied by way of nod, an amused smile on her face. “Good for you, honestly.” With that she strode up to the counter, offering Aurora a nod. “We’re going to be having a fundraiser here in a couple of weeks. Think you could swing us a couple of short-notice arrangements for the event?” 

Aurora’s eyes sparkled. “You know I love a challenge. For the two of you, anything.” She flipped open the binder she used to track large orders and pulled out a fresh page. “How many are you looking to do?” 

“Six large arrangements and two dozen small for the dining tables, please.” Aurora raised a brow, and Kathryn continued, “I know, I know. Can you make it happen?” 

Aurora smiled, shaking her head. “I did say anything for you, didn’t I? I’ll figure something out. Any specific requests?” 

“Nope. You know my girl, she trusts you. Complete creative freedom, she just wants something that will go with the color scheme. It’s going to the local hospital, so we’re thinking green for the main event.” 

“That’ll be easy, since, you know. Leaves.” Aurora commented, and a little laugh escaped Kathryn. “Any particular shades? Accent color?” 

“Dark green. And, white and blue are probably safest. Maybe pink.” 

Aurora nodded, scribbling down in her book. “Alright. I’ll have to see if I can get my hands on some alstroemeria. Maybe some lily of the valley?” 

“Sounds beautiful.” 

Aurora grinned, flipping the paperwork and pushing it towards Kathryn so that she could sign. “Perfect. Are you handling the deposit?” 

Kathryn flashed a card. “Got card privileges just for the occasion.” 

Aurora laughed as she processed the payment. “Will we see the two of you tonight?” 

Kathryn nodded at that. “We’ll be there. Both of us. I’m going to steal her phone for the evening, if I have to.” 

They finished up the transaction, and just as Kathryn was leaving, she turned back and made eye contact with Emma. 

“You know, I didn’t catch your name.” 

“Emma,” She answered, and Kathryn’s eyes flashed. She gave a little nod, and Emma had the feeling there was more to it than she was letting on. 

“Nice to meet you, Emma. I’m Kathryn. I’ll be seeing you.” 

With that she left the shop, and Emma directed a questioning look at Aurora and Belle. 

Belle just shrugged nonchalantly, and Aurora replied in a noncommittal voice, “Oh, she’s just being friendly. She’ll be at dinner tonight. I think you’ll like her.” 

Emma just hummed in response. It would be nice to make another friend in town, and Kathryn did seem like the kind of person Emma would get along with. Shrugging, Emma put it out of her mind and went back to her evening tasks. 

Aurora reminded her about dinner – for probably the fourth time that day – as they closed up the shop and Emma strolled over to her bug. She waved to indicate that she’d heard, and then pulled off to run a few errands before heading home. By the time she made it back to the apartment, Ruby was already dressed and ready, flitting around the kitchen much as she had the day Emma had moved in. Her long dark hair had been neatly straightened, and she was wearing a bright red dress that was probably more fitting for a cocktail party than a casual dinner with friends. 

“Wow,” Was all Emma said, and Ruby grinned at her. “I, uh, didn’t know this was a fancy clothes kind of event.” 

Ruby shook her head as she put a hoop earring in. “It’s not, don’t worry. I just felt like it.” 

Emma raised a brow. “And it has nothing to do with the prospect of getting a date tonight?” 

Ruby flashed her a grin. “Maybe.” She clasped the other earring and then took a step back, holding her arms out and doing a little twirl so Emma could see the whole of her outfit. “I look good, though, right?” 

Emma gave her a reassuring smile. “Very,” She replied, and it was the truth. “Are we driving together?” 

“That’s what I figured, if it’s okay with you?” 

“Of course. I need a shower, though – give me like 20 and I’ll be ready.” 

“Yep. Oh, wear something red! We can match!” Ruby called after her. Emma rolled her eyes to herself, a fond smile appearing on her lips. 

Why the hell not? 

She showered and blew her hair dry in record time, not wanting to be late to the first social event she’d been invited to since coming to town. When she finally made it to her wardrobe, she pulled out a pair of dark jeans and a flowy red blouse with sheer sleeves. She slipped on one of her nicer pairs of boots, and then she was ready. She swept her keys off of their spot on her dresser and returned to the kitchen, where Ruby was beginning to pace. 

“Ready?” She asked, eyes dropping over Emma’s outfit in an appraisal. “Oh, you look hot.” 

Emma laughed. “Thanks. You too.” 

“I know,” Ruby replied with a wink, and Emma shook her head, brushing past her to the bug. 

 

Aurora’s place was a hell of a lot bigger than Emma had been expecting. 

The house was tucked into the edge of the woods, not so far as to be inconvenient but enough to be out of the way. It was two stories, and the yard was a sprawling shrine to Aurora’s love of florals. 

“Oh, damn,” Emma breathed as they pulled up. 

“Yeah, their place is nice as hell, isn’t it?” Ruby glanced over at Emma’s gaping, and added, “Probably don’t bring it up, though. Aurora inherited this place from her parents. They both passed when she was young.” Ruby popped her door open. “I mean, you can tell her it’s nice, of course. I just mean, maybe don’t be like, wow, you’re rich!” 

“Got it,” Emma replied as she too got out of the car, still stuck on the sheer size of it. A small part of herself – the orphan part – resonated with the rest of what Ruby had said, though, and some of her easy connection with Aurora made sense now. 

“Anyways, no more sad stuff,” Ruby said as Emma shut her door and locked the bug. She started up the walkway towards the front door without waiting for Emma, adding, “Party time!” 

It was Mulan who opened the door when they rang the bell. She had a beer in hand and an easy smile on her face, one that transformed into raised brows as she took in Ruby’s outfit. 

“Damn, Lucas. Trying to get laid tonight?” 

Ruby winked at her. “I have it on good authority that there’s a pretty, single brunette here tonight.” 

“Three, actually,” Mulan replied with a pointed glance as she waved them inside.  

“Three?” Emma asked, handing over the bottle of wine that she’d brought. Ruby had poked fun at her for it, telling her that they’d think it was too formal. She’d stopped when Emma’s eyes had dropped to her four-inch heels. 

Mulan took the bottle and thanked her. “Aurora loves a good red. C’mon, everyone’s in the kitchen.”

“Who’s everyone?” Emma asked as Mulan led them through the entryway. Three single brunettes. Emma ticked them off in her head. If Ruby and Belle made two, then who was the third? And why the hell had Mulan looked at her like that when she’d said it? 

A dark, rich laugh filtered through the hall as if to answer her. 

…No. It couldn’t be. Right? They wouldn’t – 

Emma’s heart skipped a beat as she realized she didn’t know how close Aurora and Regina actually were. 

Her suspicions were confirmed when they entered the kitchen. There, leaning against the island with a glass of wine in her hand, was Regina. 

She looked up as soon as they entered, meeting Emma’s eyes with a small flush on her cheeks that was probably just from the alcohol. 

Right? 

“Ruby and Emma are here,” Mulan announced, and a chorus of greetings sounded through the group. Aurora strode over to give them both a hug and thank them for coming. She introduced them to the others – Ruby to Kathryn and Regina, and both of them to a sweet couple named Mary Margaret and David. After that she left them to mingle, pulling more wine glasses out of the cabinet and handing one each to Ruby and Emma.

“Hi, Emma. Long time no see.” 

Emma looked up to find Kathryn regarding her, a slightly embarrassed looking Regina next to her. She sipped at her wine for a moment, eyes trailing over Emma’s body. 

Emma offered her a lopsided smile, their earlier encounter fresh in her mind. “Hi, Kathryn.” 

“You were right, Regina.” A mischievous smile graced her lips as she studied Emma, and then she made eye contact with Regina. “When you called her the blonde with the biceps.” 

“The – what?” Emma stared, slack jawed, as Katherine grinned. Regina stood beside her, a look much like Emma’s on her own face, but with wide, panicked eyes. 

“Kat–” She hissed, and Kathryn shrugged.

Something clicked in Emma’s memory, then: she even told my aunt Kat about you. She called you the blonde with – 

Kat. Kathryn. Her interest in Emma at the shop –

Well. That explained that.

“Your words, not mine.” She shot Regina a wink. 

Regina’s eyes finally flickered over to meet Emma’s. There was a distinct blush on her cheeks now, one that couldn’t simply be written off to alcohol. “I’m…well.” She took a deep sip from her wine and then shook her head, letting out a breathy, embarrassed laugh. “You know what, I’m not even going to try and deny it. You have nice arms, Miss Swan.” 

Ruby looked like she was going to burst into giggles right then and there.  

Emma smiled sheepishly, suddenly grateful that Ruby had talked her into wearing red – the sheer sleeves did wonders for her muscle definition. “...Thank you.” It was all she could think to say. Regina busied herself with fixing a playful glare at her friend. 

After that Emma was sucked into the group’s conversation. At one point Ruby caught her eye, not so subtly pointing at Regina and mouthing oh my god ! Emma rolled her eyes, but she couldn’t help her smile, because…well, yeah. Regina was fucking stunning. She’d worn a dark green blouse to the party, and the color was nothing short of gorgeous against her tan skin and dark eyes.

And then Mulan announced that dinner was served, and everyone filtered into the dining room. That was – everyone except Regina, who was still standing by the kitchen island. Emma steeled herself with a deep breath. This was the perfect opportunity. She wasn’t going to squander it. With one last glance over at the group – ensuring they were far enough not to overhear, because anything Emma said would surely become more firepower for Aurora and Ruby – she made her way over to Regina.

  “We look like Christmas together,” Emma commented, and a laugh bubbled from Regina’s throat, low and sultry and loose from the wine. It set Emma’s heart racing. 

“Why?” She asked with a grin, eyes dropping to Emma’s red shirt, and that bright, wide smile sent butterflies through Emma’s chest. “Is it because this conversation is a gift, or do you want to unwrap me?” 

Emma blinked, a little bewildered and unable to help the surprised grin that spread across her lips. 

Regina chuckled, a little embarrassment making it through to her words as she added, “I’m sorry, that was…a lot. You’ll have to forgive me, Rory’s managed to get two of these into me already.” She gestured to her wine glass. 

Emma sipped at her own, looking away to attempt to hide the heat in her cheeks. “No, it’s okay, it’s…” She trailed off into a flustered laugh. “I was talking about our shirts. Because, you know, you’re wearing green.” 

“I know, Emma.” She leaned forward against the countertop, eyes fixed on the dining room ahead. “I hope I haven’t just scared you off entirely?” 

“Not a chance. It’ll take more than that to get rid of me.” Emma joined her, leaning her back against it instead with her body angled towards Regina. “You put your number in my phone,” She said after a moment, and Regina’s gaze finally flickered to meet her own. 

“You found that, huh?” She asked, a sheepish smile on her lips. “I was wondering. I believe I left explicit instructions, didn’t I?” 

“Kinda figured that less than a day might seem desperate.” 

Regina peered at her. “You’re ruining a perfectly good lesbian stereotype, you know.” 

“Who says I’m a lesbian?” Emma smiled even as she said it. She could practically feel Regina roll her eyes.

“You did, earlier today.” 

It was Emma’s turn to look sheepish. “Kathryn told you about that, did she?” 

Regina gave a low laugh. “The moment she returned to the office. Practically broke down my door to announce it.” 

“Well, that’s embarrassing.” Emma smiled, her eyes dropping to her mostly full glass as she did so. 

“It was cute, the way she told it.” Regina replied, and Emma glanced back up to meet her eyes. Regina was smiling at her, and they were decidedly closer than they had been to start with. 

When had that happened? 

Their arms were brushing on the countertop now. A thrill shot through Emma’s chest at the realization .

“Come on, you two. You can flirt in there with the rest of the party.” 

They jumped apart. Mulan was standing in the doorway, regarding them with amusement. She waved them over, fixing Emma in particular with a sharp look. 

“Just don’t tell Rory that I interrupted you two. I worked hard on dinner, though, and damn it, you two are going to eat.” 

“Sorry,” Emma muttered sheepishly, stepping away from Regina reluctantly and making her way to the dining room. Regina did the same, only she nudged Mulan as they walked past, an affectionate smile on her face.

They’d been left neighboring seats at the table, at least, sandwiched between Ruby and Kathryn respectively. The proximity made Emma’s heart race. 

Dinner was delicious. Emma wouldn’t have pegged Mulan for a cook, but apparently she was, and a fantastic one at that. Aurora kept them all in wine – Emma didn’t drink much more than her first glass, wanting to remain clear-headed lest she embarrass herself in front of Regina. She was known to be… affectionate when she was drunk, and that was the last thing she needed right now. 

The rest of them, on the other hand…well. 

Ruby and Belle both were tipsy by the end of the night. They appeared to have hit it off, though, and when Ruby pulled Emma aside to whisper that they were calling an uber and not to wait up, she squeezed her upper arm and told her to have fun. 

Good for them, she thought. 

“Ohh, I’m toast. I’m going to have to call Frederick. He’s going to be pissed,” Kathryn practically sang the words. She pulled out her phone and it immediately slipped from her fingers, landing at her feet with a thud. Regina burst into actual giggles as she bent down to retrieve it for her friend. 

“Me too,” She murmured. 

“You can come with us.” Kathryn eyed Regina. “You’d have to sit in the back, though. With the car seat.” 

Regina frowned at the notion, and Emma…she shouldn’t, but. She was sober. She could drive. 

“I can give you a ride,” She offered. 

Regina’s eyes snapped to her immediately. Kathryn gave a little “ooooh”, and Emma heard Ruby snicker in the background. But none of that mattered, because Regina was regarding her with shining eyes, with flushed cheeks and a smile on her lips, and oh, Emma was farther gone for this woman than she’d thought. 

“Okay,” Regina replied, still staring at Emma with those wide brown eyes. “I’d like that. Thank you.” 

Emma nodded. “Alright, then. Cool.” 

She said her goodbyes, Aurora shooting her a knowing look as they made their way out to the bug. 

Regina laughed as soon as Emma unlocked the car and the lights flashed. 

“You drive a beetle?” She asked, striding up to it and peering at the front of it. She looked back up at Emma, disappointed. “You don’t have the eyelashes.” 

“No, I don’t.” Emma laughed, amused at this new side of Regina. Emma didn’t know what she was expecting, hadn’t really given much thought to what the other woman would be like drunk – but goofy hadn’t been it. “They’re not really my style.” 

Regina pouted. “I think they’re funny.” 

“I’ll get some just for you,” Emma replied, and Regina brightened immediately. 

“You will?” 

“I will,” She confirmed, opening the passenger side door for the other woman and ushering her inside. 

“Good,” Regina replied, and plopped down inside. “Thank you,” She murmured, as Emma closed the door behind her. When she circled around and entered the driver’s side, Regina added, “I don’t usually drink, you know.” 

Emma laughed. “I can tell.” Regina had had – what, three glasses of wine? Maybe four? “It’s okay, just relax. And – here, put your address into the gps.” She handed over her phone to the other woman, who took it and began typing. 

“You know, you never texted me,” Regina commented as she handed the device back. “That means you have my number but I don’t have yours. That’s not fair.” 

“I’ll fix that tonight, I promise.” Emma checked the gps. Mifflin street – that wasn’t actually too far from her own place, albeit it was in a much nicer area. Such was the nature of small towns, she supposed. 

“Good,” Was all Regina said. Emma gave a soft laugh, and they drove off in silence. 

When they pulled into the driveway Emma cut the engine. Regina peered out the window for a couple moments, and Emma asked, “Do you want me to walk me to your door?” 

Regina turned to her, wordless. Instead she shifted closer, leaning forward to cup her hand around Emma’s jaw. 

“You’re really beautiful, you know that?” She whispered, and Emma swallowed. 

“Regina…what are you…?” Her words were cut off as the other woman leaned forward and kissed her. It was slow, lazy, languid – and it was wrong to let it go on, Emma thought, because Regina was drunk , but oh, was it nice . Emma tried to tamp down her disappointment as she resolved to break the kiss – 

But then Regina pulled back abruptly, fingers flying up to her lips as she blinked, wide-eyed as if she could hardly believe what she’d done. 

“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have…” She swallowed visibly.

“It’s okay,” Emma whispered, unsure how to react. She just sat there, stunned that it had actually happened, terrified that Regina would regret it, until their eyes met again. “It’s okay,” She repeated, and Regina’s eyes softened. 

“Goodnight, Emma,” She whispered, and ducked out of the bug without giving Emma a chance to reply. She hurried up the driveway to her door, and Emma watched helplessly as she disappeared from view. 

“Right,” Emma breathed to herself, turning the key and pulling away from Regina’s home. 

It wasn’t until she was home, tucked into her bed with her face scrubbed free of makeup and her pajamas on, that she pulled out her phone. Her thumb hovered over Regina’s number for several seconds before she finally tapped the new message button and typed out her reply.

Goodnight, Regina .

Chapter Text

 

Emma waited for a reply for several minutes. When none came, she buried her face in her pillows, trying to calm her racing thoughts enough to sleep . It was no use, though. 

Regina had kissed her. 

Regina had kissed her, and then pulled away like she’d been burned

Emma groaned into the pillow. That was not how she’d wanted their first kiss to go. It had been sweet, it had been thrilling – but Regina hadn’t been sober. Hadn’t been acting with a clear mind. What if she regretted it in the morning? It sure seemed like she would, given the way she’d jumped away so quickly. 

When she finally did get to sleep it was fitful. She was grumpy at work the next day, and even worse, she felt guilty about it, because Aurora and Mulan kept casting knowing little smiles at her, and Belle was practically glowing . Emma was working the morning shift, Belle the evening, and when she blew in around noon it was with the brightest smile on her face and flushed cheeks. 

Emma was happy for them, she really was. Ruby hadn’t been home when she’d woken up, which meant she’d stayed the entire night at Belle’s, and maybe done breakfast, too. 

It was sweet, and she was jealous. 

She pulled out her phone for the millionth time today, opening her texts and staring at the still-blank message window. 

Goodnight, Regina.

There was a little Read 5:28 AM just below her message. 

Of course Regina had to be the type to have read receipts on. It would’ve been easier if Emma could’ve just pretended her message hadn’t gone through. Emma had been able to reason that Regina had probably fallen asleep as soon as she made it home, and then again that she’d probably just been busy with work – but lunch hour had come and gone at this point too, and the reality – 

Emma sighed. The reality of it was that Regina just didn’t want to talk to her. 

“Woah.” Emma turned to see Aurora just behind her, brows raised. “That’s a hell of a sigh, Emma. You okay?” Emma only shrugged, and Aurora continued, “I kinda figured you’d be in a better mood today. Seemed like you had a pretty good night.” Emma didn’t reply, and she prompted, “Did something happen?” 

For a moment Emma contemplated just shrugging it off, maybe saying that she just hadn’t slept well, had a headache, maybe. But there was something in her that curled at the thought, a yearning in the hollow of her chest that said it was nice to have people to confide in, and so she simply nodded and then showed her phone to Aurora. 

“Yeah. I mean, no. But yes.” 

Aurora seemed confused at that, but she took Emma’s phone and glanced down at the screen. 

“...Oh. Ouch,” She said, and Emma’s heart sank a little more. “I mean, maybe it’s not that bad. Maybe she’s just busy.” 

“She kissed me last night,” Emma blurted out, and Aurora’s eyes shot up to meet her own. 

“That’s – Emma! That’s good, right?” Emma pursed her lips, and Aurora echoed, much more quietly, “...Right?” 

Emma sighed. “She kissed me, and then she jumped away and apologized for it. And then she practically bolted from my car, and hasn’t said a thing since. That doesn’t sound good, does it?”

“Not really, no,” Aurora conceded, and Emma’s heart sank. “But maybe she was just embarrassed. She was pretty far gone by the time you guys left.” 

“Maybe,” Emma replied, but there was a sinking feeling in her gut. “I’m just worried I’ve scared her away somehow.” They stood there in silence for a moment, Emma picking the thorns off of their newest shipment of roses and Aurora with a comforting hand pressed to her back. “When’s my next delivery for her?”

“Monday,” Aurora replied. “It’s a single delivery week.” She frowned, handing Emma’s phone back to her. “...I can scale it back on the romance factor, if you want? She gives me creative control. I can do whatever you – I – want.” 

Emma’s heart was like a rock in her stomach at this point. That was exactly the opposite of what she wanted – everything inside her was screaming to go the opposite direction, hell, show up at the woman’s doorstep with a dozen red roses. But, of course, that was stalker behavior, and the last thing she wanted to do was frighten her away entirely. No, space was a good idea. 

“Probably a good idea.” 

 

Emma spent the next several trying not to pout too hard. Each day she’d check her messages for a text, contemplate sending another one, and then close the app out altogether. It was ridiculous, really – she’d only met Regina, what, two weeks ago? 

But she couldn’t help it. There was just something about her that drew Emma in. And now that she knew what it felt like to kiss her – how soft her lips were, the way she’d sighed into Emma, the way her fingertips skimmed over Emma’s cheekbone – she didn’t want to just forget it and move on. 

Mulan had passed her when she was loading the truck for the day, and had simply nodded, offering, “Good luck.” 

She was directed up to Regina’s office by the same bored receptionist and the same friendly assistant. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary until she entered the room. 

Regina was already standing, hands wrung together in front of her. 

“Hi, Emma.” 

Emma’s heart was already in her throat. She’d tried to calm herself down before she’d come up, tried to prepare herself – but now that Regina was in front of her, it had all flown out the window.

“Hey,” Was all she said. It came out quieter than she’d intended, and she shifted the vase down and to her side so that it wasn’t obstructing her view of the other woman. She was dressed as impeccably as ever, but the usual commanding presence had been dampened just a bit, and there was a flush on her cheeks. 

Regina’s eyes dropped wordlessly to the flowers and Emma strode forward, depositing them on their usual table. 

“So what’s in there this time?” Emma asked. Aurora had tried to tell her before she’d left, but she’d held up a hand, wanting to save it. It had become a game with the two of them, Regina deciphering the meanings with that mischievous glint in her eye, and Emma missed it. 

But instead of that glint, this time Regina gave a breathy, nervous laugh, reaching out to take a few of the petals between her fingers. “White carnations, yellow roses, and baby’s breath.” She skimmed her fingertips over each of the blooms as she identified them. Silence passed between them, and Emma stuffed her hands into her pockets. 

“Aren’t you going to tell me what they mean? That’s our thing now, right?” 

Regina finally met her eyes again, an almost shy smile on her lips. “They’re…kind.” There was the slightest hesitation to her words. “You didn’t pick these? Aurora did?” 

Emma frowned. “Aurora always picks them. Why, what do they mean?” 

Regina paused, worrying her hands together as if deliberating. Eventually she shook her head. “Don’t worry about it. Innocence, mostly. Friendship.” 

Emma felt a pang go through her. This was what she’d asked for, though – Aurora had delivered on her promise to scale back the romance. “Do you like them?” She prompted. 

“Of course,” Regina replied, though her smile was tight. She dropped her hand from the blooms, making her way over to her desk. “Anyway. I’m sure you’ve heard by now that we’re having a fundraiser.” 

Emma blinked at the abrupt change of subject. “Yeah, Kathryn mentioned it when she was ordering those flowers. I kinda figured it was yours. You know, once I found out you knew each other.” 

Regina’s cheeks flushed a bit at that, but she nodded. “Good. I wanted to let you know that all of the vendors are welcome to stay for the entirety of the party, and they are welcome to bring a plus one.” 

“Cool. I’ll tell Aurora. I’m sure she’d love to bring her wife.” 

Regina only offered her a small smile, and then nodded. “Will you...be bringing anyone along? A date, perhaps?” 

“Oh,” Emma’s eyes widened. “I didn’t -- I’m just a delivery woman. I didn’t think --” 

“Didn’t think I’d invite the woman who’s carried every one of those vases into my office, week after week?” She regarded her with one brow raised, and her tone had softened when she spoke again. “Of course you’re invited, Emma. And besides that, I…I’d like to think I could call you a friend,” She added, eyes sliding behind Emma to focus on the flowers for a heartbeat. “You will be attending, won’t you?” 

“I… I guess I will.” Emma tried not to be too disappointed at the use of the word friend . Maybe the flirting had been just for fun after all. Maybe Emma had read too far into things, maybe Regina was just friendly when she was buzzed – 

Regina nodded. “And you’d be welcome to bring a date. That is...if you want to.” It was more of a question than a statement, and Emma frowned. 

“Is this an everyone will have a date kind of event?” 

“I assume.” Regina gave a shrug. “...I won’t, as of yet. But I suppose most people will.” 

“Well,” She began, heart fluttering. “I’m sure I could ask somebody.” 

Regina was just staring at her expectantly, and Emma worried at her lower lip. Surely she wasn’t asking – no, there was no way. Flirting was one thing, a stolen kiss in a quiet car another – but this…this was Regina’s work. 

She was the CEO. 

Would she really want to show up with a woman on her arm?

Probably not. And even if she did, she definitely wouldn’t want it to be a woman like Emma . And then there was the kiss, how quickly she’d jumped back – and Emma’s text message app, which still displayed nothing but a forlorn Goodnight, Regina . Regina didn’t want…there was no way she would want Emma to just. Invite herself as Regina’s date. She’d say no, and then things would be awkward, and Emma would have to choose between skipping the event entirely and hurting her feelings or, worse, spending the entire night at the party gazing at her from afar like some kind of stalker – 

And so, she just replied lamely, “I could bring a friend.” Except, no she couldn’t, because her only friends were from work. Aurora and Mulan were out for obvious reasons, and they’d just introduced Ruby and Belle, so -- “I could probably get Ruby to set me up with somebody, at least.” 

Regina’s face fell, ever so slightly. It was only for a moment before she recovered, but still, Emma caught it. “I’m sure she would.” 

“I’m sure she’d set you up with somebody too, if you asked,” Emma joked, attempting to recover. The tension had shot up in the room, and she shifted her feet uncomfortably. “Somebody who cleans up well.” Better than I do

But that barely earned her a cracked smile, and it didn’t seem genuine. “I’m sure she would.” Regina pressed her lips into a flat line. “But I’m afraid I’ll likely be attending solo.” 

A few moments passed in silence. They felt like minutes, and they had Emma contemplating backpedalling, saying wait, no, I’m sorry. Be my date?  Until -- mercifully, Emma thought -- a knock sounded at the door. Regina’s receptionist poked her head in. 

“Sorry to interrupt, Miss Mills, but Mr. Gold is outside.” 

Regina gave an exasperated sigh. “Alright, I’ll be right there.” She shook her head, smoothing her skirt down as she made for the door. She paused as she neared Emma, meeting her eyes. “Don’t go anywhere, Emma. I’ll get you your invitation when I come back.” 

With that she made for the door and ducked out of the office. As soon as it clicked shut behind her, Emma let out a groan. 

“Nice going, Swan,” She muttered to herself. She wasn’t entirely sure what she’d done, but she’d done something to upset the other woman. That much was clear. 

“No kidding,” A voice came from Regina’s sitting area, and she jumped. Henry’s head had appeared over the back of the sofa -- he’d been laying on it, apparently, invisible from Emma’s vantage point. And, apparently, he’d been there for their entire conversation, judging by the pointed and judgemental stare he was currently treating her to. “You’re an idiot.” 

“You scared the hell out of me, kid.” 

“And you deserve it, too,” He replied, and Emma rolled her eyes. 

“Why, exactly, is that?” 

He shot her the most exasperated look that Emma thought she’d ever seen come from a teenager. “Because, Emma! Did you not get that she wanted you to ask her to the fundraiser just now? She practically begged you!” 

Oh. 

“Okay, kid, she did not beg me. She didn’t even prompt me.” Even as she said the words though, they faltered, and she found herself questioning the statement. 

Henry put on his best doe-eyed face and mimicked his mother, “Will you be bringing anyone, Emma? I’ll be going alone. Please ask me to the prom, I have such a crush on you.” 

“Okay, hey, that is not even remotely what she sounds like.” 

Henry laughed, the innocent face breaking into a grin. “Okay, maybe not. But she did want you to ask her.” He paused, and when Emma didn’t say anything he added, “Look, Emma. I like you, and so does my mom. Just trust me on this one. Ask her out.” 

Emma frowned. “If she’s so into me, then why…” She shook her head, deciding against relaying the details of their flirting to Regina’s kid of all people. “Never mind. She just hasn’t been giving me the clearest of signals, that’s all. I think she wants me to back off.” 

Henry just huffed, as if Emma was the densest person he’d ever had to deal with. “She’s embarrassed that she kissed you. Duh.” 

Emma furrowed her brow. “She told you that?” And then, "Wait -- she told you that she kissed me?" 

Henry wrinkled his nose. “Of course not. Ew. I overheard her talking to Aunt Kat,” He explained, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. 

And, honestly, maybe it was. 

Leave it to a teenager to see the obvious. 

She blinked. “You’re saying that she hasn’t texted me back for five whole days because she’s embarrassed that she kissed me? Really?” 

Henry rolled his eyes, dropping back onto the couch with a thud. “Duh. She thinks she came on too strong. She thinks she scared you off.” 

Emma faltered. “I…I texted her, though!”

Silence, and then: “Mom’s been burned before. By men, mostly, but still. You’re gonna have to show her you care.” There was a scraping noise and then Emma saw his eyes slowly appear from over the armrest as he pushed himself so that he was hanging over it. “You still remember what flowers I said were her favorites?”

Of course. Of course she’d been an idiot this whole time, sulking around because Regina didn’t want her, when really –

She nodded. “Red roses, red lilies, and orchids.” 

Henry nodded approvingly. “Good. I like you, Emma Swan.” 

Emma rolled her eyes, but offered him a smile. “Right back at you, kid.” She frowned after a moment, adding, "You should really stop eavesdropping on your mom, though." 

The door thudded open then and Emma jumped, eyes snapping over to see Regina blowing back into the office, looking far more irritated than Emma had ever seen her. There was a man at her heels, greasy hair and an outdated suit, barking some nonsense about shareholders at her. Emma’s first instinct was to drag him right back out of the room, but she figured that wouldn’t end well for anyone. 

Emma managed to drown him out as Regina met her eyes and then popped a drawer on her desk, neatly sliding out a piece of cardstock and striding directly over to Emma to hand it to her. Her eyes met Emma’s for a moment and there – finally – Emma could see nothing but affection. 

She didn’t know how she hadn’t seen it sooner. Blinded by her own insecurity, apparently, but it was there in the way that her brow relaxed, the way her lips turned up just a hair. Emma was intoxicated with the knowledge, and she took the card, their fingertips brushing as she did. It sent butterflies off in her stomach, flush to her cheeks – But then Regina’s eyes tore away from her, hardening instantly as she spun to face the man again. Emma hadn’t been listening, but she managed to catch the last part of what he’d said, and oh

“ – You’d know that if you weren’t such a stupid brat. Your mother and I built this company and you will not – ” 

“She won’t what?” Emma cut him off, tone like ice. A hush fell over the room, and the man turned to her.

“And who the hell are you to speak to me like that, dearie?” His eyes slid down her form, appraising in a way that made her feel slimy, taking in her stained jeans and off-the-rack blouse. "Taking in street rats again, are we Regina?" 

Emma hadn't been made to feel inferior by her financial status in a long time, and like hell was she about to let this man, whoever he was, be the one to accomplish her relapse into that particular insecurity. She took a deep breath, trying to tamp down the rage that that tone brought boiling in her throat. “I'm a friend of Regina’s.” She said the words with certainty, a steel to her voice that she hadn’t had just minutes ago. “And you don’t scare me. Talk to her like that again and I’ll drag you out of here myself, and you can find out exactly who I am.” 

Emma felt a hand on her upper arm at that, and she glanced over to find Regina, staring at her with something like gratitude in her eyes. Still, she ran her thumb over Emma’s shoulder in a calming gesture. 

“Thank you, Emma, but I can handle this. You should go.” 

Emma might have been hurt by the dismissal if it wasn’t for the way her eyes were shining. She could bask in that look forever, she thought –

“This is the kind of company you keep?” Gold’s voice cut through the moment, and Regina’s look fell to exasperation immediately. 

“You may have had my mother under your thumb, but this is my company now. You will not speak to me like that, much less in front of my son.” Regina’s voice had taken on an iciness that she’d never heard, but that fit perfectly with her initial impression of the woman – beautiful, and terrifying. 

It was kind of hot. 

She turned back to Emma, her hand still on her shoulder. She gave a grateful squeeze, and then said, “I’ll see you at the fundraiser, Emma.” 

Emma’s eyes darted back towards the man – he was seething, but held his tongue – and then back to Regina. 

“Alright,” She finally conceded. “If you need anything, you have my number.” 

Regina’s eyes flashed at that, a flicker that may have been guilt – and Emma bit back regret. But it was gone in an instant, and she let her hand drop from Emma’s arm. 

“I do,” She replied, and when she offered her a small smile it was genuine, if tempered by the current situation. “Thank you.” 

With that Emma nodded, making her way out of the office with one watchful eye on Gold. 

She’d just completed the rest of her rounds and made it back to the shop when her phone buzzed in her pocket. She pulled it out, one leg hanging half out of the truck as she checked the notification.

You’d be a hell of a lot more scared of him if you knew who he was

Emma’s heart stuttered as she registered the name above the message. 

Regina Mills. 

She found herself grinning at the message, unable to help herself, and unlocked her phone to reply. You know, hello is customary , she sent back. Followed quickly by: Why, who is he?

Hello, Emma Swan. The reply came quickly, followed by the three little dots to indicate that Regina was still typing. You never struck me as the traditional type, anyway. 

Emma’s fingers hovered over the keyboard, and she began to type out a reply, just as another message popped up:

Gold owns half the major companies based in Maine, and then some

Doesn’t matter, Emma replied. I’d do it again in a heartbeat

There was a pause, those three little dots popping up and then disappearing again a couple of times. Emma was just about to lock her phone and head inside when a new message finally appeared. 

I’m sorry, was all it said.

Emma waited, breath caught in her throat, until another came through. 

I’m sorry for leaving you hanging these past few days. I’m afraid I overstepped the other night.

Emma laughed outright. Henry had said –

You’re kidding, right? Emma sent the text before she could talk herself out of it, and then felt a momentary panic, worried about how Regina would take the comment. You didn’t overstep, she added quickly. Not at all.

Good. I don’t want to frighten you

Impossible. You’re not scary. Emma replied, despite the fact that she had very much found Regina intimidating when they’d first met. 

I’ll have you know I’m terrifying, came the response. My employees call me the evil queen, you know

“I’m gonna guess things went well, then?” Mulan’s voice made Emma jump, and she jerked her head up to spot the other woman leaning against the brick wall of the shop, cigarette in hand. She noticed Emma’s eyes on the cigarette, and added with a sheepish smile, “Guilty pleasure. Don’t tell my wife, and I won’t tell anyone you’ve been grinning like an idiot and muttering to yourself for the past five minutes.” 

Emma laughed. “Deal,” She replied, and typed out one last message: 

You’re too cute for that. I’ve got those eyelashes on order, you know.

With that she locked her phone and slipped it back into her pocket as she hopped out of the truck. Mulan clapped her hand over her shoulder as she went, snuffing out the cigarette and following her back inside. 

Yeah, things went well. Very well. 

Chapter Text

The fundraiser approached rapidly. 

Regina was busier than usual with planning, and Aurora was swamped trying to manage the massive order that Kathryn had put in for her last minute on top of all of the usual orders. And that meant that Emma was busy too, taking up some of Aurora’s duties that didn’t involve any actual artistic know-how. But still, she and Regina exchanged a steady stream of text messages throughout the days. Nothing too deep. Easy things, things that hadn’t come up in their previous encounters: favorite colors, music preferences, the like. Emma learned that – unsurprisingly, given her flower preferences – Regina’s favorite color was a deep burgundy, and that when she was stressed she liked to bake. 

Which, apparently, was all the time, at least when she was planning an event – Emma had received pictures of confections she’d never even heard of.

She hadn’t expected Regina to be so…soft. 

She’d joked about her being cute, but that had mainly been a reference to the way she’d behaved after a couple of glasses of wine. Overall Regina gave off a much different vibe, one of tight gripped control and no room for error, but Emma was beginning to see that maybe, just maybe, that was nothing more than a disguise she put on for the office. It slipped away a little more with each exchange, and Emma fell a little harder each time. 

The invitation had the dress code listed as black tie, and Ruby practically dragged her out dress shopping. She hadn’t even had to ask – Belle had asked Ruby to attend with her, and Ruby had declared they were going dress hunting together immediately. They’d only been to two shops before Ruby pulled one off the rack, held it to Emma’s body, and pronounced it the one. 

“Isn’t that supposed to be my choice?” Emma asked, laughter in her voice, and Ruby raised a brow. 

“As your best friend, I believe it’s mine.” 

And that had been enough to make Emma’s heart sing. The term might be juvenile – but she hadn’t had somebody to call her that since, what, high school? 

It was the day before the fundraiser now. Aurora had spent the entire morning preparing the arrangements that Kathryn had ordered. There had been a delay with some of the different types, and she’d been darting around to the thirty different vases that currently occupied the majority of their back room countertops. 

Emma had mentioned wanting to bring Regina a bouquet, though, and she’d stopped immediately.

“Oh, absolutely , I will help you with that. Are you kidding?” She’d actually clapped, and Mulan had rolled her eyes affectionately behind her. 

“Are you finally going to ask her out for real?” Mulan asked, and Emma shrugged. 

“I’m going to…I don’t know. Tell her I’m interested.” 

Aurora scoffed. “Pretty sure you’ve made that clear at this point, Em.” 

“Honestly, Emma, if you don’t say the words can I take you out sometime tomorrow I’m going to ask her for you,” Belle chimed in. 

“Alright, alright,” Emma conceded, only a little whine to her voice. “I’ll do it. I just want it to be perfect, you know?” Her voice had dropped to a mumble at the last part, and Aurora’s face softened immediately. 

“Aw, Emma. I didn’t know you were such a sap.” She nudged her with her elbow as she walked by, depositing the last of the flowers from her hands into one of the vases. With that she wiped her palms on her pants. “Alright. First things first. What kind of vibe are we going for here? Sappy, like you?” 

Emma shot her a wry glance. “ Actually , I’ve got flowers picked out already.” 

Aurora looked taken aback. “Really?” 

“Red, all of them. Lilies, orchids, and roses.” 

“I didn’t know you could name that many,” Mulan cut in with a laugh, adding an amused and only half-apologetic “Sorry,” When Emma turned a withering glare in her direction.

Belle turned and gathered a couple of each of the listed blooms, and when she deposited them on the worktable Aurora raised her brow, regarding the assortment of flowers with uncertainty. “Emma, you know that you’ve got an intense arrangement picked out here, right? You know what these mean?” 

Emma shrugged. “Her kid said these were her favorites.” Aurora looked doubtful, and Emma added, “I know the red roses are romantic, right? How bad could it be?” 

Aurora shook her head. “It’s not that it’s bad , it’s just…” She gestured to the flowers one by one. “Red roses are romance, yes. They’re a declaration of love. Orchids mean the same, and also that you think she’s beautiful, which, duh. That doesn’t even need to be said, the woman’s a total smokeshow. Red lilies, on the other hand,” She continued, jabbing a finger at them for emphasis, “Are technically orange, and they mean I burn for you . Are you sure that’s what you want to say?” 

“Oh,” Emma murmured, pushing a hand through her hair. That was a little intense, but – “I want to give her her favorites.” She studied the combination for a moment. They really did look nice together., and, well. What was the worst that could happen? 

Aurora eyed her, hands drifting down to pick up one of the roses. “As long as you’re certain.” 

Emma nodded. For once in her life, she was, very much so. “Yeah, I am. Let’s do it.” 

 

Ruby fawned over her the entire morning the day of. Emma even woke up to her cooking breakfast – she’d burnt the toast a little, but it was still breakfast , and Emma couldn’t remember the last time somebody had done that for her. She took her plate gratefully and Ruby swept her up into a hug, nearly knocking the food onto the floor. 

“Go get your girl,” Ruby called after her as she was leaving. “I’ll see you there!” 

Emma left the apartment with her hair and makeup done, but in her usual work clothes. The first part of the day was work, after all – they had to get everything sorted at the shop for their other orders, and then get the flowers to Regina’s event and actually get them set up. When she arrived at the shop Aurora was already there, flying around from one arrangement to the next, and Belle and Mulan were loading up the van. 

They were all in similar states to Emma: fancy hair and makeup, but casual clothing. Emma spotted a couple of garment bags off in the corner and set hers with. 

“Hey, Em. You ready for today?” Mulan asked, a glint in her eyes as her gaze drifted to Emma’s left. She followed — there, on the counter, was the arrangement Aurora had put together for Emma the day before. 

Emma nodded. “As ready as I’ll ever be.” She deposited her shoes with the pile as well. “What’s your dress look like? Ruby helped me pick mine. I’m afraid it’ll be a little too…sexy,” She finished lamely, and Mulan shook her head. 

“Sorry, I can’t help you there. I’m a suit kind of girl. Maybe ask Rory?”

“Ask me what?” Aurora paused her dashing, backtracking a few steps at the sound of her name. 

“Em’s afraid her dress is too sexy.” 

Aurora raised a brow at that. “Too sexy? Where is it?”

Emma nodded to the garment bag and Aurora strode over, unzipping it. She held the dress out in front of her, eyes wide. 

“Oh, you’re going to look hot , Emma. That’s a hell of a slit, but I think you’re fine.” Aurora placed the dress gently back inside the bag and laid it back on the counter with the others. “Regina’s going to lose her shit when she sees you.” She eyed Emma with a little smirk on her lips, and then she shook her head, schooling herself back into business mode. “Alright, we’ve got a couple of hours until then. You have deliveries to make, and the rest of us have preparation to do. You’ll meet us at the venue after you make your other stops?” Aurora asked, reiterating the plan they’d come up with the day before, and Emma nodded. “Good. The event starts at six; we get there at four. Regina assured me we’ll have a room to change in.” 

Again, she was just repeating plans they’d already made, and Emma had hardly forgotten them. But it seemed to calm Aurora down, and so she didn’t complain or comment on it, just nodded dutifully. The venue in question was actually the local high school’s gymnasium – hardly fitting for a high brow, black tie event, Emma thought, but then again, there weren’t many options for large gatherings in Storybrooke, Maine. 

“Got it.” Emma caught her upper arm, offering her a reassuring smile. “Hey, this is going to be great. Regina loves your flowers. You’ve got nothing to worry about.” 

Aurora drew in a deep breath, returning the smile with a grateful nod. “Thank you, Emma. I know.” 

With that Emma helped Mulan and Belle to load up the last of the arrangements into the van and then took off on her route for the day. They had minimal deliveries for the day, thankfully, and Emma managed to get them done in record time. She got a couple of weird looks what with her disjointed appearance, but she couldn’t bring herself to care, not when tonight promised an opportunity to see Regina. 

When she made it to the school she was flagged down immediately by Kathryn, who appeared just as flighty as Aurora had earlier. 

“Oh, thank god you’re here,” Kathryn exclaimed the moment she opened the van’s door and dropped to the sidewalk. “The caterer was late and the bartender –” She cut herself off with a wave of her hand and a little roll of her eyes. “Don’t even get me started on the bartender.” 

Emma glanced at her phone. “I’m not late, am I?’ She’d been so certain that Aurora had said four, and it was just past 3:45 – 

But, to Emma’s relief, Kathryn shook her head. “No, not at all. I’m just –” She stopped, taking a deep breath and placing a hand on Emma’s upper arm. “Forgive me, Emma. I’m a little frazzled. You’re right on time, and I’m happy you’re here.” Her expression softened, and she added, “I know Regina will be, too.” 

Emma couldn’t help the smile that Regina’s name triggered. It was embarrassing, how far gone she already was for the woman. “Is she around?” 

Kathryn shook her head, and Emma tried to tamp down her disappointment. She’d known that Regina would be busy, after all. “She’s at home, getting herself and Henry ready for the party. She left me in charge until she gets back. I’ve managed so many of these events for her, and yet I’m just as stressed every time.” She dropped her hand at that, turning towards the van. “I assume everything’s in there?” Emma nodded, and Kathryn added, “Do you need help unloading?” 

“The others should be here any minute. The plan was for them to wrap things up at the shop and meet here at four.” 

“Good.” 

With that Kathryn gave her directions to the gymnasium, along with instructions on where to place everything and directions to the room they’d been offered to store their belongings in. She then disappeared back inside, off to check on the status of the bar. 

Emma only had to hang around for a few minutes before the others showed. She used the time to pull out her phone and fire off a quick text to Regina: 

See you soon.

She tapped her phone against her palm a few times, debating on sending something more meaningful, or something flirtatious – but ultimately decided against it, opting to leave it at the simple message. The response came quickly, and though it was as simple as Emma’s had been, it brought a smile to her lips.

Not soon enough.

“Oh, she’s blushing.” Belle’s voice brought her out of her thoughts, Aurora’s laughter following. “Texting your lady?”

“She’s not my lady,” Emma replied. 

“Yet,” Aurora corrected her, holding out a very familiar bouquet as she approached. “You’ll need these, though. I can’t believe you forgot them.” 

Emma’s heart skipped several beats when she realized it what it was – her flowers. Regina ’s flowers. “Oh, shit,” She said, reaching out to take them from the other woman. “I really left them?” 

“Right on the counter.” 

“Cut her some slack. The woman’s clearly nervous,” Mulan piped up, turning her attention from her wife to Emma. “Don’t let her get to you, Em. She spilled an entire glass of water on my lap on our first date. I had to walk through the restaurant looking like I peed myself.” 

Aurora’s cheeks turned a distinct shade of pink, and she gave an embarrassed smile. “It’s true. She still married me, though, so I think you’re in the clear.” 

Emma shook her head. “You guys are ridiculous,” She said, but it was affectionate. “Come on. Kathryn told me where to take everything.” She set Regina’s arrangement safely on the van’s passenger seat before helping the others to unload it.

The gym had been converted into a fancy venue with far more success than Emma had thought possible. There wasn’t much to be done for the flooring, but the bleachers had been retracted, long tables lining the walls instead. Displayed on them were items that were supposedly up for auction, and spaces had been left for where they’d been instructed to place the larger of the arrangements. And then there were the dining tables, arranged in a staggered pattern throughout the room. There was a microphone at one end, and a makeshift bar at the other. Kathryn was at that end, and she waved at the group when they entered. 

They had to make a couple trips to bring all the arrangements in, but in the end, it looked beautiful. Aurora had opted for blue and white flowers, with glossy dark green leaves to fill them out. It complimented the color scheme of the tablecloths perfectly. She really had an eye for color, Emma mused. 

The room that they were promised turned out to be a classroom. Not that Emma was complaining – she wasn’t sure what she’d been expecting, anyway, but a classroom made sense. And it was fine, really, as long as they stayed away from the window. This particular room didn’t have any to the outside, just the long, single slit facing the hallway. She stole off to the side, Mulan, Aurora, and Belle all doing the same. Belle changed into a dark blue gown, and Aurora’s dress was a flowy, light purple thing, perfectly fitting with the shop’s sleeping beauty theme. Mulan had a gorgeous black suit, embroidered in dark purple flowers, and a silky purple shirt to match. Emma admired the couple for a moment – Mulan looked every bit the prince to Aurora’s princess. She fought back the pang of jealousy in her gut – no, not jealousy, she corrected herself. Yearning. 

She shook her head, putting the thought out of her mind and strapping on her heels. She slipped out of the room, heading for the restrooms that she’d seen on their way back. She wanted to get one last look in the mirror before she went out in front of everyone. 

The dress that Ruby had picked for her was flattering, she had to admit. It was a dark red, made of soft fabric that had just a slight shimmer to it as she moved. It was sleeveless – to show off your arms , Ruby had said – and there was a deep slit that went halfway up her thigh. She’d curled her hair and left it down for this. 

Overall, she looked pretty nice. 

Her heart was racing at the thought of seeing Regina, especially in something so fancy. 

“We look beautiful.” Belle showed up behind her in the mirror, and Emma turned to face her. “Beautiful enough to win over our respective women, I’d say,” she added, a sparkle in her eye. 

Emma laughed. “I hope so.” 

Belle hooked her arm around Emma’s waist, drawing her close as she regarded their reflections. “I’m glad you came to Storybrooke, Emma.” 

“Me too.”

 

When six o’clock finally rolled around they filed in with the crowd. Ruby found them immediately, hurrying right up to Belle’s side. She’d picked a black dress from the same store as Emma’s had been – even sexier than the one she’d picked for Emma, with a deep neckline and form fitting silhouette that had Belle blushing immediately. 

“You look stunning,” Emma commented, and Ruby flashed her a wicked grin. 

“And you look hot , Swan.” 

Emma spotted Henry from across the room. He was looking dapper in a suit, and he flashed Emma a bright smile and a thumbs up as she caught his eye. Emma returned the motion, just holding back a laugh as he approached. 

“Hey, kid. You look nice.” 

“You too,” Henry replied. “You going to ask my mom out tonight?” 

“Damn, right to the point,” Ruby laughed. 

Henry shrugged. “I’ve been telling her to. I keep catching her smiling at her phone like an idiot. It’s gross,” He added, but that grin was still there, and Emma rolled her eyes. 

“Well, get ready, because it’s only going to get worse. I hope, anyway.” She glanced around, eyes darting through the crowd. “Is she around somewhere?” 

Henry nodded. “Yeah, but you probably won’t get a chance to talk to her until after the speeches. That’s always how it works with these things.” Emma tried not to let her disappointment show, but Henry seemed to pick up on it anyway. “Don’t worry. I know she wants to see you. She’s gonna make time.” 

After that Henry wandered off to talk to a couple other people, Kathryn among them. As promised, she spotted Regina milling about, but it was only fleeting glances, and she seemed wholly wrapped up in other people. Eventually somebody tapped at the microphone, though, and they were directed to take their seats. The waiters appeared with salads, and Emma busied herself with food, tuning out the words of the man at the microphone. It wasn’t that she was bored, it was just that…well, yeah, she was bored. Glancing around their little florist’s table, though, it at least seemed like she wasn’t alone. 

That was, until, a familiar voice rang through the gymnasium. 

Emma’s eyes darted up immediately, and she heard Ruby’s hushed snicker at the motion. 

“Thank you all for coming,” Regina began, and Emma was captivated instantly – both by the silkiness of her voice, and, well .

She looked stunning

Her dress was silky, deep green like the tablecloths, hugged every curve – Emma tried and failed not to let her eyes linger on the deep cut of the neckline. It had off-shoulder cap sleeves that gave it a classic feel, but it was also undeniably sexy

Regina’s eyes scanned the crowd, and Emma started as their gazes met. Regina’s eyes lingered on hers for a moment, her painted lips curling up into the tiniest of smirks, before she continued on with her speech. 

“Breathe,” Ruby leaned over and whispered in her ear, and she blinked, reaching out for a sip of her water. 

“Thanks,” Emma murmured under her breath. 

“Any time.” 

Emma zoned out for the rest of the speaking, eyes only for Regina and her meal. Emma had ticked the little box for fish on her invitation when she’d RSVP’d, and the salmon she was served probably cost more than she’d ever spent on a single meal. Dessert came after Regina had concluded and passed the mic off to some old man. Emma busied herself with savoring each bite of the tiny but decadent slice of chocolate cake. When the speaking was finally over, guests began to rise from their tables, and Emma headed directly to the bar for a glass of wine.

“You know, red is my favorite color.”

Emma whipped around at the sound of Regina’s voice, nearly splashing the beverage down the front of her dress. Regina watched the liquid slosh in the glass with amusement before her eyes slowly raised to meet Emma’s.

“I know,” Emma replied. She was trying for smooth, but the words came out more flustered than anything, and Regina’s smile only grew. “You told me,” She added, and wow, that only made it worse. Emma pursed her lips a bit, embarrassed. They’d been texting so easily throughout the past week, but somehow it was much harder to talk to her face to face, especially when she looked so damn gorgeous

Luckily, it only seemed to endear her to Regina. “I’m glad you came,” She replied.

Emma felt some of the tension leave her shoulders. “Thank you for inviting me.” The words were heartfelt – she hadn’t really expected it, not to a corporate event like this. Henry’s chastising echoed in the back of her mind, his insistence that Regina had wanted her to be her date – She swallowed, put the memory aside. 

After all, she had a bouquet waiting to declare just that. 

Instead she added, “You look incredible.” 

“Thank you.” Regina’s voice had dropped in volume, and if Emma wasn’t mistaken, there was a slight flush to her cheeks. “You do too.” A moment passed, and then Regina added, “I couldn’t help but notice that you didn’t bring a date.” 

Emma’s heart rate rose at that. She cleared her throat, pulling a sip of the wine while she attempted to gather her thoughts enough to speak without embarrassing herself. Regina waited, the epitome of patience, until Emma finally replied. “No, I didn’t. I’m single.” Her cheeks flared at that. So much for that – “I mean, uh. Tonight. In general, too, but…you knew that,” She finished lamely. Nice. “...Did you? Find a date, I mean.” 

Regina’s smile had become a grin, and she was watching Emma with that same affection that she’d noticed back in the other woman’s office. “As I said, I’m attending solo.” 

“That doesn’t seem right,” Emma replied as smoothly as she could, attempting to recover from her stammering. “That the host should be left without a beautiful woman on her arm.” 

Regina raised a brow at that, and oh, Emma knew she was in trouble just with that tiny little motion. “If it concerns you so much, would you care to volunteer?”

Chapter Text

Oh. 

Emma stared for a moment, wide-eyed, and then a little laugh burst out of Regina. 

“Oh dear, you look like a deer in headlights. Did I break you?” She was regarding Emma with amusement twinkling in her eyes. She caught her lower lip between her teeth for a moment, though, and Emma could see the tiniest bit of apprehension leaking through. “...Too forward?” 

That broke Emma out of her trance. She blinked, and shook her head. “No, no. Not at all.” 

“No, that wasn’t too forward, or no, you don’t want to volunteer?” 

“The first one. Definitely, to the second. I mean, yes. Please.”

Regina laughed again at that, this time with relief. “Alright, then. Good.” She reached out, catching Emma’s free hand in her own. “In that case, come with me. I have something for you.” She took a step back, tugging Emma and making her wine slosh ever so slightly. “...Give that to me before you ruin your pretty dress.” Emboldened, she took it in her other hand without waiting for an answer, fingers slipping around the stem and brushing against Emma’s as she did so. She eyed it and then brought it to her lips, keeping eye contact as she took a sip.

And, oh, there was no doubt about it. Emma’s cheeks were red .

“Cabernet?” She asked, and Emma nodded. “Hm. Good choice.” With that she turned, hooking her fingers against Emma’s as she led her out of the gymnasium. 

The hallway outside was quiet, a stark contrast to the inside, where music and chatter echoed against the high ceilings. Out here there was a line for the women’s restroom, and not much else. Regina took her down the hall and around a corner, into one of the adjoining classrooms. The desks had been pushed to one side, much like the one that Emma had been provided with, and there were piles of personal belongings lining the walls. Regina set the wine glass down on one of the desks before bending down to pick something up. When she turned, it was with one hand held behind her back. She offered Emma a soft smile before she brought her hand forward. 

In her hands was a bouquet. 

It was nothing more than a tiny bundle of flowers, really – delicate white blooms that looked a lot like roses. Emma was fairly certain that they were something else, though – their petals were thinner, denser, neatly arranged in a spiral out from the center. It was interspersed with tiny purple blooms that Emma would now know anywhere.

“For you,” Regina said, unnecessarily. 

“Regina…” Emma took the gift, letting her fingers trail over the edges of the petals before she finally met the other woman’s eyes. “They’re beautiful. Thank you.” The dizzying heat she’d felt just minutes ago had settled, replaced now by a gentle warmth in her chest. “What do they mean?” She asked.

Regina raised a brow, a smile appearing. “You know, Emma, you’re going to have to start learning them if you’re going to keep working for Rory.” 

A little laugh bubbled out of Emma’s chest. “Teach me, then.” 

Regina only regarded her for a moment, that certainty slipping ever so slightly to reveal that same old nervousness that Emma had come to love. “Well, those are violets,” She began, and Emma shook her head. 

“We’ve been over that one.” Regina’s eyes rose to meet hers, an expression on her face that clearly said I know , and Emma grinned. “Do you know how hard you called me out with that first bouquet? I’m never going to forget how hard you had my heart racing the moment you said Sappho .” 

“Glad it had the intended effect,” Regina replied. She let her fingertips rise to trail over Emma’s wrist, and Emma’s heart rate was rising all over again. “The others are camellias,” She added finally. 

“And what do they mean?” Emma’s voice had dropped to a murmur, and Regina’s eyes flickered to her lips, just briefly. 

“They mean that I adore you.” 

And with that admission the fingers at her wrist stilled. Regina took the bouquet from her hands, setting it aside wordlessly so that she could close the gap between them. Her other hand rose from Emma’s wrist until their palms met, until she could lace their fingers together, and Emma’s breathing stilled as Regina’s lips ghosted over her own. 

It was nothing like the kiss in the car had been. Regina had made that move confidently, bolstered by the alcohol in her bloodstream, without fear of rejection. 

This was different. This was…tentative. Searching. 

She pressed their lips together softy, just once, and then pulled back a hair, giving Emma time to choose. Emma curled their fingers tighter and brought her other hand to Regina’s waist, drawing her closer. Regina let out a little hum at that, kissing her once more, this time with intention. She parted her lips against Emma’s, drew her tongue over the blonde’s lower lip, brought one hand up to cup Emma’s jaw. 

When they pulled away they were both a little breathless. Emma gave an elated little laugh and Regina echoed it, leaning their foreheads together as they recovered. After a moment she stepped back, their hands still interlocked as she reached for the bouquet again. 

“Did you get these from Aurora?” Emma asked, and Regina nodded. 

“Yes.” 

…Well. That explained some of her excitement when Emma had mentioned wanting to create an arrangement for Regina. 

Emma glanced back at Regina, fully stepping back and angling her body towards the door. “I brought something for you too, actually.” She motioned with her head for Regina to follow. 

“Yeah?”

The florist’s room wasn’t too far from the one that Regina had taken her to. Storybrooke high school wasn’t that big, after all, and it only took them a moment before Emma was tugging her into the classroom. 

Unlike Regina’s, the arrangement that she’d brought was sitting out in plain sight, right on top of one of the desks that had been pushed off to the side of the room. The bright reds of the petals were eye-catching, impossible to miss, and Regina gasped the moment she cleared the doorway. 

“Oh, Emma.” She breathed, fingers slipping from Emma’s as she stepped towards the gift. Emma hung back, watching as the other woman approached the flowers, fingers dancing at the edge of the vase much the same as Emma’s had. “They’re beautiful. How did you…” She trailed off, shaking her head. She tilted her head to the side as she glanced back at Emma, her eyes flickering from Emma’s down to the bouquet. “Am I going to have to tell you what these ones mean, too?” She asked, a bit mischievous, and Emma felt herself blush.

“No, I got the rundown from Aurora on that, thanks.” She  ducked her head a moment, tucking a few stray strands of hair behind her ear. “I know it’s a little…much,” She confessed, smiling as she met Regina’s eyes once more. “But I have it on good authority that those are your favorites.” 

Regina shot her a questioning glance. “Rory told you, I assume?” 

“Henry, actually.” Regina’s eyes widened at that, and Emma grinned. “When you left us alone in your office. He’s been pushing me to ask you out.” 

“Has he, now?” Regina shook her head, bewildered. “I’m going to have to have a chat with him.” 

“Go easy on the kid. He’s about the only reason I worked up the courage to make any move at all.” 

“If I remember correctly, Miss Swan, I made the first move.” Her eyes narrowed playfully and she turned her body towards Emma, back against the empty desk beside the arrangement. “In fact, I think I’ve made them all, so far. I think it’s your turn.” 

Oh. 

That was an invitation if Emma had ever heard one.

Emma strode forward obediently, both hands coming up to cup Regina’s jaw as she kissed her with determination – no hesitation this time, no doubt, no second thoughts – just her lips on Regina’s. Regina let out a surprised hum and then she sank into the kiss, arms coming up to hook around Emma’s neck. Regina’s lips parted against her own again, hands growing needy, slipping down to Emma’s waist and then her hips. Emboldened, Emma dropped her own, bringing them under the other woman’s thighs to lift her up onto the desk behind her. She let out a gasp, legs parting immediately to allow Emma to stand between them. Her dress proved restrictive, and so she gathered it up instead, drawing it up around her thighs. Emma’s hands roamed over bare skin as Regina hooked one leg around her hips. Her hand dropped to Emma’s ass, squeezing as she tugged her closer. Their bodies were flush against one another now, Regina’s jaw tipped up to kiss Emma. 

“Oh! I –” 

The voice startled them both and Emma jumped back, Regina pulling her hands back from Emma immediately. Emma looked back towards the door to see Belle standing in the entryway, pink rising in her cheeks as she took in the scene before her. 

“Hello, Belle,” Regina spoke up, voice sheepish but amused. 

“Sorry,” Belle replied, hand dropping from the doorway to gesture towards her bag. “I just…came for my keys. I didn’t mean to interrupt.” 

“You’re good,” Emma said, finally remembering her hands on Regina’s thighs. She pulled them back, reaching up to catch the hem of the other woman’s dress and pull it back down as inconspicuously as possible. Belle didn’t seem to notice, at least – or, if she did, she didn’t let it show. Regina shot her a grateful glance. Belle hurried forward, digging her keys out of her bag before slinging it over her shoulder. 

She turned towards Regina as she made to leave the room, expression timid as she said, “Thank you for inviting us. I’d apologize for leaving early, but…” She smiled, nodding as Regina gave a breathy laugh. 

“No offense taken,” Regina replied. “Have a great night, Belle. Thank you for coming.” 

Belle gave one last grateful nod, turning her gaze back on Emma as she added, “...I wouldn’t wait up for Ruby.” She flashed the keys. “I’m going to give her a ride, so.” 

“Good for you two,” Emma said, nodding. She was about to tell Belle to drive safe, but Regina cut her off.

“I don’t think Emma will be home tonight either, anyway.” 

Emma’s eyes snapped back to Regina, who was regarding Belle with a smirk. Belle laughed and Regina’s gaze slid back to meet her own, the smirk becoming a teasing smile. 

“Alright, then. Fair enough.” Belle nodded. “Oh, before I forget, Ruby said these were yours.” She tossed Emma the keys to the bug, and Emma caught them. 

“Thank you,” Emma said, tossing them onto the bag she’d brought. “Night, Belle. Take care of my roommate.” 

“You know I will,” Belle called back as she retreated to the hallway, closing the door pointedly behind her. 

With that Emma turned back to Regina. Her legs were still parted on the desk, Emma still halfway between them, and she stepped forward, hands finding the hem of the other woman’s dress and drawing it above her knees once more. “Not gonna be home tonight, huh?” 

Regina shrugged, a sheepish smile on her lips. “Not if I have my way.” 

She looped her hands back around Emma’s waist and pulled her back down for another kiss. She was just sinking into it, just running her fingertips back up Regina’s thighs when her stomach growled violently – traitorously – and Regina burst into laughter against her lips. She leaned back, peering at her with a teasing grin, and asked, “Hungry?” 

Emma stepped back with a wry smile, the mood effectively broken. “Maybe,” She said, and Regina raised a brow. “The salmon was a pretty small portion, okay? I haven’t eaten much today.” 

Regina grinned. “Well. I can’t fault you there.” She leaned back, hands braced against the desk, and then shot Emma a wicked look. “Want to get out of here? I’d kill for some fries right now.” 

Emma blinked. “Aren’t you, like, the host? Don’t you have to stay for the party?” 

Regina shrugged. “I’ve already snuck off to kiss you.” Emma felt her cheeks flush at the words, and Regina sat up, catching her jaw between her fingers. She pressed a quick, soft kiss to Emma’s lips, this time far more chaste. “I might as well leave,” She continued. “Besides, I already made my speech. That’s all these old men care about. Kat can close up house for me. She’s better with people than I am, anyway.” 

Emma raised a brow. “Isn’t being a people person kind of a requisite of running a business?”

“Less so than you’d think.” Regina grinned and dropped her hand back to Emma’s hip as she leaned back. “Alright. Better at tolerating self important gas bags who just want to hear the sound of their own voice than I am. How’s that?” 

“Overwhelmingly honest,” Emma replied, and Regina laughed. 

“But fair?” 

“But fair,” Emma echoed. “We could grab Henry, and –”

Regina cut her off, shaking her head. “Miss Swan, did you really just suggest that we take my son with us on a date?” 

Emma stared at her for a moment, dumbfounded and a little bit stuck on the word date . “But…If we leave, how will he get home?”

Regina eyed her. “He’s sixteen, Emma. He can drive. Anyways, he brought a friend with him tonight and they’re having a sleepover at his house tonight.” 

“That’s convenient.” She meant the comment to come out teasing, but she couldn’t quite hide the eagerness leaking through, or the sly smile that was creeping up on her lips. “A little too convenient.” 

Regina shrugged, matching the smile but not dignifying that with a comment. “...Fries, then?” She asked, peering at Emma through her lashes with eyes that were just a little widened in a pout and oh, jesus christ. 

“Fries,” Emma confirmed, rolling her eyes as the pout transformed into something triumphant. “You’re ridiculous.”

“Resourceful,” Regina corrected her as she slid herself forward off of the desk, bringing them face to face, flush against one another. Emma didn’t step back, and Regina didn’t make any effort to put space between them either. Her hand came back up to trail along Emma’s jaw, and she brought their lips fractions of an inch from one another. “I do know how to get what I want, Emma.” She murmured the words against Emma’s lips, let them brush, just barely – 

And then slipped away, quickly bending down to snag her purse before heading for the door. 

Emma blinked, shaking her head to clear away the fog which that had left her in. “It’s just fries,” She called after Regina, who laughed as she opened the classroom door and ducked out into the hallway. 

Nevermind the fact that Emma was pretty certain she’d give Regina the world if she only asked.

…Yeah. Gone. That was the word for it. Emma was gone

 

Emma followed the other woman through the halls, hurrying behind her as quickly as she could in her heels to catch up to her head start. Eventually Regina led them to an exit, and when they went through it Emma found that they’d let out directly into the parking lot. Emma peered around for the distinct yellow, wondering where Ruby had parked her car. 

Regina stopped dead in her tracks the moment that Emma’s car came into view. “You’re kidding.” 

“I’m not.” Regina’s eyes flickered between her and the bug, and Emma met her gaze with a grin on her face. 

“You didn’t actually order those for me, did you? Tell me you already had them.” 

“Nah. I told you, they’re not really my style.” 

“...But you ordered them, and drove here with them on your car anyway?” 

“Actually, Ruby did. I drove the company van.” Emma shrugged, adding, “Besides. I made you a promise, didn’t I?” 

“I thought you were joking.” Regina blinked, a little taken aback, and then she shook her head and reached out to take Emma’s hand in her own.  She strode over to stand in front of the bug, tugging Emma along behind her. She let out a little laugh, breathy and flustered, and when she turned back to meet Emma’s eyes there was a soft smile on her lips. “You’re something else, Emma Swan.” 

With that Emma unlocked the bug and Regina slipped into the passenger side. When Emma sat down and closed the door Regina peered over at her and smiled. 

“What?” Emma asked. 

Regina shrugged, the smile growing. “Nothing. It’s just…it looks different in here when I’m sober.” 

Emma laughed at that as she turned the key and the bug hummed to life. “Now you can appreciate her properly.” She shot her a sideways glance. “Are you going to hold my face and tell me how beautiful I am again?” 

Regina’s gaze snapped up. “I did what?” 

Emma nodded. “Right before you kissed me.” 

Regina stared at her for a moment with her jaw agape, and then shook her head, eyes turning back to the road. “I don’t remember that.” Embarrassment colored her words, and she reached up to tuck her hair behind her ear. “I remember kissing you, of course. But I don’t remember the other part.” She shot Emma a sheepish glance. “I didn’t manage to scare you off, so I suppose it worked out.” 

“Are you kidding?” Emma shook her head. “You made my entire week with that kiss. I was just worried because you ran away so quickly after.” 

Emma thought that she could see a slight flush coloring Regina’s cheeks, although it was hard to tell in the glow of the streetlights. 

“Yes, well. You weren’t exactly responding to my advances up until that night. I was pretty certain you didn’t want me, and that I’d overstepped a boundary.” 

“I flirted with you at the dinner, didn’t I?” 

“Sure, but I figured that you were just humoring me. Or just in it for the fun of it.”  She shrugged, and when Emma glanced over at her she found a content affection in the other woman’s gaze. “I’m glad that I was wrong.” 

At that point they’d pulled into the diner’s parking lot, and Emma only responded by way of a smile, hopping out of the bug to make her way around to the passenger side and open the door for Regina. 

“Chivalrous,” She laughed, adding, “Thank you, Emma.” She peered up at the building’s sign fondly. “I see you’ve been introduced to Granny’s? That means you’re officially a Storybrooke local, you know.” 

“My roommate works here,” Emma replied. “I’ve never actually been. Eaten plenty of the food that she brings home, though.” 

“Ruby, right?” Regina asked, and Emma nodded. “I knew her in passing, but Rory’s was the first time that I’ve ever really spent any time with her. She seems sweet. If a little…eager,” She added slyly, and Emma laughed. 

“You’re not wrong. You should have seen her face when I found your number in my phone.” Emma held the door for Regina, who thanked her again and stepped inside. 

They drew a fair bit of attention in their getups, from staff and guests alike. Regina nodded towards an older woman behind the counter, who offered her a smile, and strode directly over to a booth towards the back. 

“Henry and I get lunch here every Sunday,” Regina explained. “Granny’s been running this place as long as I can remember.” 

“So does everyone just call her Granny, then? I thought it was just Ruby at first because, you know, she’s her grandma. But everyone else seems to, too.” 

Regina shrugged, rearranging her dress as she slid into the booth. “Well, her first name is Eugenia, but she hates to be called that, especially by anyone younger than her.” She smiled. “Besides, she’s kind of taken on that role in the community, if that makes sense.” 

Granny strode over to them, a little pad of paper in her hand. “Regina, dear, what in the world are you wearing? Did the dress code for this place change without me knowing?” 

Regina laughed. “We just came from a fundraiser. It’s nice to see you, too.” 

Granny smiled, giving Emma a once-over instead. “You’re going to introduce me to your beautiful date, aren’t you?” 

“She is, isn’t she?” Regina replied, brushing her heel against Emma’s underneath the table. “Granny, this is Emma Swan. She’s new to Storybrooke.” 

Granny put her hands on her hips at that, eyeing Emma. “You’re the one who’s been living with my Ruby.” It was a statement, not a question, and so Emma just nodded. 

“That’s me.” 

Granny narrowed her eyes, and Emma found herself wanting to scoot back in her seat. The woman must have been at least in her sixties, but something about her was incredibly intimidating – Emma had the feeling Granny could hold her own in a fight. 

Not that she was about to start swinging in the diner, of course.

But then Granny laughed, shaking her head. “Do you have any idea how much she talks about the two of you lately? She’s been going on and on about how you need to get on with it and take her on a date.” She jabbed her pen in Regina’s direction. “It’s about time. Maybe now she’ll find something else to talk our ears off about. Congrats on finally getting your act together. This is a date, right?” 

Regina had one hand at the back of her neck, looking sheepish on her side of the booth as Emma only blinked and gaped at the older woman. “I…Uh, thanks? I think?” 

“Didn’t answer my question, kid.” 

“Yes, Granny, it’s a date. Thank you.” Regina finally spoke up, reaching to take a sip of her water to conceal the flush on her cheeks. “Do you think we could get a basket of fries?” 

Granny nodded. “The usual sauces?” 

“Yes, thank you. Emma? Any requests?”

Emma shrugged. “Ketchup is fine.” 

“Boring,” Regina teased, bumping her foot under the table once more, and Emma flashed her a grin. 

They ordered their drinks – Regina a water and Emma a coke – and Granny disappeared. They made small talk over the table until she arrived with their fries, and Emma marveled at the array of sauces that she brought with them. 

Emma blinked as Regina dipped a fry into a ramekin of what looked like honey mustard. “Wow. Now I see why you called my ketchup boring.” 

Regina shrugged. “I like variety.” She popped the fry into her mouth, and went for mayo next. 

“That’s gross,” Emma said, and a look of what Emma could only describe as betrayal crossed Regina’s features as she chewed. 

“You’re kidding. You don’t like mayonnaise?” She was regarding Emma with wide eyes, brows furrowed, and her nose doing this scrunchy thing that was quite frankly just adorable . Emma couldn’t help but smile. 

“Not a fan, sorry.” 

Regina shook her head, coating another fry in even more mayo than before. “I think we’re going to have to cut this date short then, Miss Swan. I won’t stand for that.” Emma laughed, and Regina responded with a grin, adding, “Sometimes I mix it with ketchup, too.” 

“No, you don’t!” Emma wrinkled her nose. “I’m sorry, but that’s horrifying.” 

“Is not,” Regina shot back, teeth briefly catching her lower lip. “It’s the perfect balance of savory and sweet.” 

“Who would’ve thought the Regina Mills would have terrible taste in condiments?” 

Regina snorted, replying, “I’ll have to have that added to my job title, thanks. Regina Mills, CEO, Mayonnaise Enthusiast.” 

Emma dissolved into a fit of laughter after that, Regina grinning across the table at her, and oh, making out in that classroom had been one thing, but this – 

Emma could spend the rest of her life like this. 

Was that insane to think about a person she’d only met two weeks ago?

But Regina was regarding her with equal affection in her eyes, cheeks rosy, chin balanced in her palm. Maybe, just maybe. 

“Aren’t you going to eat anything?” 

Regina’s voice broke her out of her thoughts, and when she glanced up, the other woman was holding out a fry that was dipped in – only – ketchup. There was a shy smile on her lips, and Emma wanted nothing more than to kiss her. 

But they were in a diner filled with other people, and that would mean leaning across the table and the absurd amount of sauces that Regina had ordered, and so she took the fry instead. Regina gave an approving smile when she popped it into her mouth. 

They managed to polish off the basket between the two of them. Regina left the ketchup for her – which was both sweet, and also probably due to the fact that she had a million other choices in front of her. Emma dug around in her bag for a piece of gum afterwards, sending a silent prayer of thanks when she saw that she had some. She offered Regina a piece as well, and she took it gratefully. 

“Trying to kiss me again before the night is through?” Regina teased, and Emma flushed. 

“Trying to do a lot more than that, if you’ll let me.” Emma breathed, immediately feeling self-conscious about her forwardness. But Regina’s brow shot up, and then her eyes shifted from surprised to something a hell of a lot darker , and Emma felt her heartbeat skyrocket with just that one look. A slow, predatory smile crept over Regina’s lips. 

“Careful what you wish for, Miss Swan. You might get more than you can handle.”

Emma opened her mouth to reply, but then a figure appeared at the edge of their table. Emma jumped as Granny dropped the check halfway between them, a wry look on her face as she shot them both sidelong glances.

“Take the flirting somewhere else, would you?” With that she walked away, leaving the two of them to look sheepish in peace.

Emma snagged the check before Regina could. Regina only rolled her eyes as Emma tucked a twenty into the fold and placed it back on the table.

“Chivalrous,” She said, echoing her earlier comment. “Thank you.” 

Emma stood and held a hand out to help Regina from her seat, earning a laugh as Regina shook her head at her. She took the extended offer anyway, and when she was up, she didn’t let go until they reached the bug. When they did, she swung their hands back and forth for a moment, and then turned to peer off into the distance. 

“Ever been to the pier?” She finally asked, and Emma shook her head. “Neither of us are dressed for it tonight. It can get pretty windy. But it’s nice. Sometimes I just like to sit and watch the ocean.” She shot Emma a sheepish glance. “You should take me sometime.” 

Emma grinned. “Is this your way of asking me on a second date?” 

Regina just shot her a sly smile and climbed into the passenger side of the bug. 

 

Emma pulled up to the mansion a short time later. She barely had time to speak before Regina opened her door, calling a “You coming?” before closing it behind her. With a startled blink Emma followed her up the walkway to the door. 

“So,” She began as Regina pulled her keys from her bag, “I guess this is where I kiss you goodnight?” 

Regina paused her digging, meeting Emma’s eyes with a raised brow. “Emma.” She stepped forward, bringing them face to face, and reached one hand out to settle on Emma’s hips. Emma’s breath hitched as they made contact. “I won’t say no to that kiss,” She continued, bringing her other hand up to tilt Emma’s jaw towards hers. She brushed their lips together lightly, teasing, before she cupped the hand on Emma’s jaw around the back of her neck and kissed her properly. She melded their bodies together, parting her lips against Emma’s and slipping her tongue into Emma’s mouth. Emma responded in kind, wrapping an arm around the other woman’s waist as she sank into the kiss. After a moment Regina broke away, meeting Emma’s eyes as she added, “But you and I both know that I’m not asking you to leave.” 

With that she stepped back and unlocked the door, leaving a breathless Emma and an open door in her wake.

 Emma followed her inside, of course. She swung the door closed behind her, following Regina into her home. It was just as big – if not bigger – as it appeared from the outside, and Emma couldn’t help but peer around, taking in the huge foyer with wide eyes. Regina strode directly into the kitchen, calling over her shoulder to let Emma know she could take her shoes off and leave her bag by the door. When Emma finally made it to the kitchen Regina was pulling down a couple of wine glasses. She set them down on the island next to an open bottle and began to pour, gesturing to the trash can as she did so. 

“You can spit your gum out there.” 

Emma nodded gratefully, thankful that she hadn’t had to ask. Regina slid the glass over to her – a cabernet, like her choice earlier. 

“Thank you,” She responded. Regina watched her with dark eyes as she sipped, and Emma’s heartbeat quickened under that gaze. 

“You’re welcome,” Regina murmured, eyes drifting from Emma’s down over her body. “I’ve had a wonderful time tonight. The most interesting fundraiser I’ve thrown by far.”

Emma chuckled. “You mean they don’t usually end with you making out with a vendor?” 

“Not usually, no,” Regina replied, amused. 

“Glad I could be the exception,” Emma replied, and Regina’s smile only grew. 

“As am I.” Regina took a long sip of her wine, and then tilted her head to the side. “You know that I was setting you up to ask me out when I gave you the invitation for tonight, right?”

Emma blinked, a little blindsided. “I mean. It took me a bit.” 

Regina raised a brow. “I was dropping hints pretty hard there.” 

“Yeah, well. I’ve never been the best at reading those kinds of signs. I kinda thought you’d be embarrassed to have somebody like me on your arm for the night.” 

“Somebody like you?” Regina echoed, and when Emma glanced over she was regarding her with disbelief. “Emma, you’re…” She shook her head. “You’re gorgeous. And funny, and kind , and brave enough to stand up to Gold . What part of that did you think I’d be embarrassed about?” Regina narrowed her eyes. “I guess I am doing it again after all, huh? I’m not going to hold your face this time, though.” 

Emma was silent for a moment, stunned. “You really think that about me?” She finally responded, and Regina replied with an exasperated, “Of course.” 

Emma shook her head. “I don’t know, I guess I just thought…I’m just the flower girl. The delivery girl, at that. You’re the CEO of a fancy company.” 

“You really think I care about that?” The words were almost hurt, and Emma shook her head fervently, afraid she’d accidentally just called the other woman shallow. 

“Not at all! Just – old insecurities, I guess. I’ve never really been…wanted before.” Emma fought the urge to run, to close back up, hide the vulnerabilities that she was exposing with her whole chest. But Regina’s eyes had softened, her gaze understanding in a way that didn’t feel like pity, and Emma felt herself relax, even if it was only a little. Still, though she felt the need to deflect, and so she added: “Henry set me straight, though.” 

That caught Regina’s attention. “Henry did what?” 

Emma sipped at her wine. “Oh, you know. Spilled everything the moment you walked out the door. On both occasions,” She added, much to Regina’s dismay. “The first time he just told me you liked me. Nearly told me about the blonde with the biceps nickname you gave me. Thanks, by the way. I work out.” She shot Regina a wink, and the other woman scoffed good-naturedly. “Then the day you gave me the invite, he called me an idiot and told me you wanted me to be your date. I would’ve asked you then if Gold hadn’t followed you back up.” 

Regina barked out a disbelieving laugh. “That little shit.” She shook her head. “I can’t believe he did that.” 

Emma grinned. “Don’t be too hard on the kid. He’s probably the only reason I’ve made it this far.” 

“Yes, well. He still shouldn’t be eavesdropping, let alone relaying my conversations.” Regina shook her head. “I’ll have to have a talk with him. Although, I suppose I can’t complain, if it got us here. I could certainly get used to you putting me on desks and kissing me.” There was a glint in her eyes as she turned them back on Emma, and Emma felt her mouth run dry. She sipped at her wine, attempting to recover. Regina seemed to notice the reaction, and she continued, “Although, I do have to say, I’d prefer it be my desk in my office, and not the high school.” She tilted her head to the side, adding, “And while I’m amending things, I’d prefer to have you on your knees, instead.” 

Emma nearly choked on her wine at that, and Regina only laughed, sipping at her own. 

Not even fair. 

It didn’t take long before Regina circled the island counter and backed Emma up against it. She took the glass of wine from Emma’s hands, much as she’d done earlier, and set it aside with a smirk. When she met Emma’s eyes again they were dark with lust, and she braced her palms on the countertop behind Emma. 

“Is this alright?” She asked. Her voice had dropped in volume – it was low and sultry and suggestive and it set Emma’s skin alight.

“Yes.” Emma choked out the word, reaching out to slip her hands around Regina’s waist and draw her closer. “Yeah, this is very okay.” 

“Good,” Regina breathed.

When she kissed her this time, it was heady, languid, weighted with the promise of more . Emma let out a whimper – an actual whimper , and fuck , that was embarrassing – as Regina pressed up against her, her hands falling from the counter to Emma’s hips as she drew her closer. Emma let her own drift across the other woman’s body, landing on her lower back and then her waist. 

Regina drew her hands back, catching Emma’s instead. She broke the kiss as she did so, meeting her eyes as she pulled Emma’s hands from her waist and drew them up her ribcage to skim over her breasts. 

“You can touch me,” She breathed. “I want you to touch me.” 

Oh, fuck

The words alone sent a shiver through Emma’s spine, sent heat pooling beneath her thighs – she caught the other woman’s lips in another kiss, this time dropping all pretense of propriety. She was only too happy to obey, to oblige Regina’s request, and she palmed her breasts without hesitation. Regina arched into the touch. Her own hands had dropped from Emma’s wrists and found her ass instead, and she squeezed, pulling Emma against herself as she did so.

Regina tugged her forward after a minute, murmuring “bedroom,” against her lips, and Emma nodded. 

“Yes. Please,” Emma breathed in reply, and Regina pressed one last kiss to her lips before breaking away, catching Emma’s hand in her own as she led her through the house. They barely made it up the stairs before Regina was on her again, backing her against the wall with one hand in her hair and the other at Emma’s breastbone. “Bed,” She reminded her after a moment, and Regina let out a breathy laugh before dropping her lips to Emma’s jaw, fisiting her hand through the blonde’s curls to tilt her head back and grant her better access. 

“Eager,” She taunted between kisses. She peppered them down Emma’s throat until she reached her pulse point, at which point she trailed her tongue over Emma’s skin instead. 

Emma replied with only a hum, more or less confirming the accusation, and Regina sucked at the tender flesh instead. The hum devolved into a moan, and Emma curled her fingers against Regina’s hips. Regina seemed to appreciate that, because she leaned back, releasing Emma’s hair with a slight nod. Her tongue darted out to wet her lips as she surveyed her work – Emma had the feeling there was a light bruise where she’d been, but she couldn’t bring herself to care right now. 

“Bed,” Regina agreed, and backed down the hall. 

Emma followed her without hesitation. She was already breathing hard, her legs already shaky, and she was thankful that she’d taken her heels off when she’d first entered the other woman’s home. She wasn’t sure how she’d fare in them now. 

Regina’s bedroom was just as spacious as the rest of the home, though Emma didn’t get much of a chance to look around – Regina grasped at her shoulders immediately, guiding her over to the perfectly made bed and directing her to lay back against the pillows. As Emma watched she reached behind herself and unzipped her dress. She kept her eyes locked on Emma’s as she did so, lips parted, curling up into a smirk as the fabric pooled around her feet. 

Emma couldn’t keep eye contact for long. 

Her eyes dropped to drink in Regina’s exposed skin. She was wearing a matching set – a plain, black bra, perfect for wearing under such a tight and silky dress, and panties to match. It was hardly elaborate, but oh, was it hot

Nevermind the fact that Emma would probably find anything incredibly alluring on Regina. 

She climbed onto the bed, shifting so that she was laid down next to her on her side. It left her hand free to roam, and Regina found the slit in her dress almost immediately, slipping her hand beneath it to slide up Emma’s thigh with a sigh as she kissed her. “Love this,” She murmured against Emma’s lips. “I’ve been staring at your legs all night.” 

“Yeah?” Emma asked. She wasn’t too big to admit that she was basking in the attention, just a little. 

“Yes,” Regina smiled against her lips, one hand sliding up to grip at her hips. “I can’t wait to have them wrapped around me.” 

Emma hummed at that, her own hands coming up to drift across the other woman’s skin. After a moment she pressed a hand at Regina’s shoulder, pushing her back down to the bed so that she could sit up. 

“I’m taking this off,” She said by way of explanation, reaching for her own zipper. “I’ve been in this damn thing for too long.” 

“You’ll get no objections from me,” Regina replied. Her voice had dropped to a husk, and Emma swallowed, acutely aware of the fact that Regina’s eyes were on her. 

Emma pushed off the bed, standing to make it easier to strip off the gown. It put them in a mirror of their earlier position, but this time, there was no holding of gazes, no pretense of teasing. Regina didn’t bother trying to conceal her appraisal, head tilted to the side as her eyes roamed up and down Emma’s body. Emma dropped the fabric, and Regina let out a slow breath. 

“You’re just as beautiful as I imagined.”

Emma’s heart thudded, the thought of Regina thinking about her body, imagining her, what she might look like under her clothes – 

It was intoxicating. 

“All of it,” Regina instructed – demanded – and Emma shivered. “I want to see you,” Regina continued. “Take the rest off.” 

Emma obeyed, slowly, reaching behind herself again to undo the clasp of her bra. It was strapless, and Regina inhaled as it fell away, leaving her chest bare. She drew her hair back behind her shoulders, affording the other woman a clear view. Regina’s breathing was coming heavy as she drank her in. Emma watched as she parted her legs, wondering whether or not it was a conscious movement. 

Regina sat up then, shifting so that she was sitting over the edge of the bed. “Come here,” She rasped, and Emma stepped forward. Regina’s hands found her hips immediately, drawing her in. She pressed a kiss to Emma’s abdomen, just at the base of her breastbone, and her hands drifted up to skim Emma’s nipples instead. Emma drew in a shaky breath as she tweaked them between her fingers, drifted her thumbs over them, letting out a satisfied hum as Emma leaned into the touch. 

“You’re exquisite, Emma.” Her hands dropped as she breathed the words, and she hooked her fingertips into the sides of Emma’s panties. “Fucking beautiful.” She tugged the fabric down, not completely, just an inch or so – and then her eyes snapped up to meet Emma’s. The ghost of a smile – wicked, one that spoke of dark intentions, desire – appeared at her lips, and she sank forward off of the bed and dropped to her knees.

Oh. 

That was a sight Emma could get used to.

Regina was waiting, watching Emma for some kind of approval, Emma realized, and she nodded, threading her fingers through the other woman’s hair and pushing it back from her face. 

“I didn’t peg you as the one who’d be on their knees,” Emma said. Her words came out breathy, and Regina let out a low laugh. She drew the skin of Emma’s thigh between her teeth, biting down until Emma gave a little wince at the sharp feeling. It wasn’t painful, not exactly – but, fuck, was it thrilling

“I’m still in charge here, Miss Swan. Don’t forget it,” Regina chastised, but there was a playfulness to her tone. 

“So sorry,” Emma laughed, and Regina smiled. She pressed a light kiss over the spot she’d nipped at, swiping her tongue over the skin instead.

She tugged at the fabric of Emma’s panties once more as she did so. Her fingers hadn’t moved, and Emma’s heart raced as she pulled the scrap of fabric down her legs. She felt embarrassed, only briefly, at how wet she was, how soaked the fabric must be – but Regina didn’t seem to care. In fact, she let out a sigh, laughter forgotten, and pressed another kiss to Emma’s thigh. It brought her lips closer to Emma’s core, and Emma’s breath hitched as their skin made contact.

“Fucking beautiful,” Regina repeated. 

Emma stepped out of the fabric and kicked it aside. Regina brought her hands up around the back of Emma’s thighs, and Emma’s grip on her hair tightened as she pulled Emma forward, coaxed her to part her legs and tilt her hips forward just enough to grant Regina access. 

“Don’t be shy,” Regina murmured. “I want this. Do you?” Emma nodded, and Regina ran her hands up around her thighs and back down once more. “Then relax,” She added, “And let me do the work.” 

Emma swallowed, reaching out to brace her weight against the bed frame. Regina pressed a few more kisses to her thighs, each one closer, gentle, before she finally tasted her. 

She pressed her lips to Emma’s clit, sucking gently. Emma let out a gasp and Regina hummed in response, tongue darting out to stroke the sensitive flesh. Emma rocked her hips, helping to establish a rhythm that sent warmth blooming through her abdomen. Her grip tightened on the wooden frame as Regina’s fingers pressed into her thighs. 

After a minute Regina pulled back, and Emma let out a little noise of disappointment. But then she stood, spun Emma around, guided her back to the bed and instructed her to lay back. She followed her onto the bed before drawing Emma’s thighs apart once more and settling between them.

“Oh, okay,” Emma breathed. “This is good.” 

Regina smiled up at her. “Better angle,” She said by way of explanation, and then her thumb was at Emma’s clit, and other thoughts sank out of Emma’s mind as she melted against the pillows.

Emma whimpered as Regina’s mouth replaced her thumb. Her tongue felt hot against her core, and the pressure was already building within her abdomen once more. Regina traced her fingers along her outer labia, applying light pressure before slipping two fingers inside of her, curling them forward just right – 

Regina’s name spilled over her lips as she came, hands fisting in the bedspread as she rocked her hips against the other woman’s mouth. Regina let her ride it out, waiting until her movements had sputtered out before sitting up and wiping her mouth on the back of her hand. She climbed up and settled beside Emma as she let her recover. Stray curls had fallen into her face, and Regina reached up to push them back, letting her fingers trail down across Emma’s jaw. She tilted it so that Emma was facing her, locking her gaze onto the blonde’s. 

“I could get used to doing that,” She murmured. “Seeing you come undone like that.” 

And there, within that phrase, was the hope for more , for again , and oh, Emma would like that. She’d really like that. She only nodded, unsure how to communicate that kind of need . But Regina seemed to understand, the ghost of a smirk – self-satisfied, damn her – at her lips, and Emma left it at that. 

Emma’s eyes dropped to her swollen lips, to the glimmer across Regina’s chin that she’d missed, and fuck

Regina was beautiful, anyone could see that. Stunning, even. Gorgeous. 

But in that moment, with her hair tousled from Emma’s fingers, eyelids heavy with lust – nothing could compare, Emma thought. Nobody could compare to this woman whose life she’d stumbled into on accident, who was so entirely, wholly above her in every way, who could gather the stars in a row and Emma would still only have eyes for her.

Emma didn’t know how to put any of that into words – thought maybe, just maybe, that was a little much for a first date – and so she kissed her, instead. 

She tasted herself on Regina’s lips. Salty sweet, bitter all at once – she traced her tongue over Regina’s bottom lip, savoring the way the brunette sighed against her, parting them in response and allowing Emma to slip her tongue against her own instead. 

Regina shifted, swinging her leg over Emma’s thighs so that she was on top of her, bracing her weight on her arms at either side of Emma’s head. Emma hummed her satisfaction at the move, hands skimming over Regina’s hips to palm her ass. After a moment she dropped one, propping herself up against the pillows so that she was sitting back against them. She used the hand still wrapped around Regina’s hips to bring her with, so that was Regina now more in her lap than hovering over her. 

“Your turn,” Emma murmured, pulling back from the kiss to trail her lips down the other woman’s throat. “You’re wearing too much. Take it off.” 

Regina chuckled, but it was breathy, less taunting than she’d probably been aiming for. “Demanding,” She said, and Emma bit down at the skin below her jaw. She inhaled sharply, adding, “I didn’t say I was complaining.” 

Emma hummed against her skin, and Regina complied with the command, meeting Emma’s fingers behind her back just as Emma undid the clasp. 

“If you were going to do it on your own, why did you ask?” Regina laughed, and Emma’s fingers came back around between her breasts. She hooked them around the gore and tugged it forward, leaving Regina to fumble with getting the straps off her arms as Emma pulled at it impatiently. “Hang on!” She smiled against Emma’s lips, breathy little laughs escaping between kisses. “I’m taking it off! So impatient,” She mumbled, pressing another long kiss to Emma’s lips, looping her arms around the other woman’s neck and bringing their bare chests flush against one another. 

When they finally broke the kiss, they were both breathing hard. 

“You were taking too long,” Emma teased, and Regina huffed. “Besides,” she continued, “I remembered. I have to unwrap my present.” 

Regina rolled her eyes, but it was good-natured, and she rose up onto her knees. “Unwrap me, then.” 

Emma was only too happy to do just that. She tugged Regina’s panties down just low enough to expose her, a sigh escaping her lips as she did so. She let her eyes roam over the other woman’s body, taking in her bare breasts and the wetness between her thighs. Emma dipped a hand into the gap above the fabric, savoring the visible shudder that passed through Regina as her fingers made contact with her skin. Regina’s lips parted as she bore down against Emma’s hand, seeking friction. 

“Take them off,” Emma breathed, “So we can do this for real.” 

Regina gave a distracted nod, though she rolled her hips a few more times. The panties pinned her legs together, though, and she was already straining against the fabric as she attempted to straddle Emma’s legs. 

Emma shifted up to press a light kiss to Regina’s throat. “I need more room to move my hand,” She added, and Regina nodded again. 

“Alright, alright,” She conceded, turning to catch Emma’s lips with her own. Emma gave a few more strokes of her fingers and then retracted her hand. Regina shifted back immediately and tugged the panties down her legs, tossing them haphazardly across the room and returning to her previous position immediately. 

“Now who’s impatient?” Emma teased, and Regina cut her off with a kiss, catching Emma’s hand and bringing it back between her thighs. 

“I am,” She replied, smiling into the kiss. “Don’t stop now, Emma. Make me come.” Her words were low, demanding, and Emma’s mouth ran dry, heat flashing through her chest. 

“Oh, fuck, yes,” Emma murmured. The thought of Regina coming undone on top of her, the thought of her name on Regina’s lips – 

She pressed her fingers back to Regina’s clit, and Regina responded immeidately, a breathy fuck escaping her lips as Emma made proper contact. She finally established a real rhythm, stroking her fingertips back and forth to the pace that Regina set with her hips. Emma wrapped her free hand around Regina’s thigh but she caught it instead, bringing it up to splay over her breast instead. She held it there as Emma squeezed, fingers wrapped tightly around Emma’s wrist. She whimpered when Emma took her nipple between her fingers, bearing her hips down harder into Emma’s touch. After a moment she replaced her fingers with the pad of her thumb, slipping her fingers down to the other woman’s entrance. 

“Yes,” Regina breathed her encouragement. “Please.” 

Emma pressed two fingers inside of her, curling her fingers forward and rocking them to the pace of the other woman’s grinding. 

Regina’s pace grew more erratic as they went, and Emma tried her best to maintain the rhythm they’d set against the jerkiness of her movements. Her breathing grew ragged, little moans escaping her lips as she rode Emma’s fingers, and fuck , Emma had never seen anything so hot as Regina rocking above her as her wetness dripped down to her palm. 

Regina came with a gasp, falling forward with one hand against the headboard as her motions stilled. She stuttered out the first syllable of Emma’s name, just a breathless Em –, the second half lost in ragged breaths. 

When her breathing finally slowed, Emma retracted her fingers, wiping them on her thigh. Regina started to shift off of her, began to slide off to the side, but Emma caught her instead, drawing her forward by the thighs. 

“What –” She asked, voice hoarse after her panting – “What are you doing?” 

“I’m not done with you,” Emma replied, bringing her hands up to Regina’s hips. She tugged her up once more, coaxing, “Come here.” 

Regina obeyed without another comment, only an oh when it clicked. Emma had slid down as she’d drawn the other woman forward, bringing her hips directly over her face. 

Oh ,” Regina echoed, allowing herself to be pulled down towards Emma. “Okay.” 

Emma slid her tongue over the other woman’s clit, mimicking the motions she’d established with her fingers earlier. A moan escaped Regina’s throat, and she began to rock her hips much the same as she’d done before. Emma gave a self-satisfied laugh, more a vibration in her throat than anything, but Regina picked up on it. 

“Shut up,” She said, but it was breathy, and it devolved into a gasp as Emma’s fingers joined her mouth. She slid her fingers inside once more, and Regina moaned above her, a string of curses falling from her lips. Emma kept her free hand wrapped around Regina’s hips, holding her in place as she rode out her pleasure, body eventually sputtering in the same way as it had the first time. Emma had learned from that, rocked Regina’s hips with her hand as she maintained her pace, drawing the orgasm out until she had Regina clutching at her fingers and panting, “Okay, okay. That’s – enough. That’s enough.” 

Regina rolled off of her, collapsing onto the bedspread beside her with a contented sigh. After a moment of catching her breath she rolled over, catching Emma’s jaw in her hand and bringing her in for a kiss. Emma sank into it, savoring the way Regina shifted closer, seeming to melt into her. When Regina pulled back there was affection shining in her eyes, plain as day, and Emma’s heart fluttered. 

“Where have you been all this time, Emma Swan?” Her voice was barely a whisper, reverence on her lips as she spoke her name. Emma’s heart rate jumped, and all the feelings that had rushed to her only hours before came flooding back.

  But it was far too early for all that, and so instead she replied: “Boston?” 

Regina laughed outright, squeezing Emma’s hand before she rolled out of the bed. “I need water,” She announced, padding over to the dresser and pulling out a couple of tank tops and some silky pajama bottoms. She tossed one pair over to Emma, who just barely managed to catch the top but missed the pants entirely. They landed directly over her face, and she actually heard Regina snort . When she pulled them down Regina had her hand over her mouth, still laughing but looking embarrassed

Emma was unable to help her grin. “Oh my god,” She said, and Regina shook her head as a flush rose in her cheeks. “You know, maybe I should look into a bouquet of those camellias. If either of us is the adorable one, it’s totally you.” 

“I am not ,” Regina protested, mock-offended. Emma only raised a brow, and she added, “If you tell anyone, I’ll have to kill you. I have a reputation to maintain.” 

Emma laughed, sliding out of the bed and tugging the clothing on. “Don’t worry, your secret’s safe with me, Your Majesty.” 

Regina shook her head again as she dressed. She caught Emma’s hand as she passed her, lacing their fingers together and tugging Emma out of the bedroom and back down the stairs to the kitchen. She let Emma go when she got there, bringing down two glasses and filling them with water. She passed one off to Emma, who polished it off in one go. Regina took it back and refilled it with wide eyes, and Emma sipped the second one more slowly. Regina led her silently to the living room, where she deposited Emma on the couch before lighting the fireplace. Once it was roaring she curled up at Emma’s side. She tugged a blanket down over them, and Emma pulled her closer, warmth blooming through her chest as Regina leaned her head against her chest. 

They sat there in silence for several minutes, Emma just stroking her thumb over Regina’s arm. Regina was fighting to stay awake, and Emma watched her eyes drift closed with a fond amusement. 

“I could get used to this,” Emma finally murmured, her voice barely a whisper, not wanting to wake the other woman but feeling the need to voice the words aloud. Regina’s eyes fluttered open at the sound of her voice, lids heavy as she peered up at Emma through a sleepy haze. 

“Me too,” She confessed. She shifted up to press a chaste kiss to Emma’s lips, and then she settled back against her chest with a sigh. Her body grew heavy again, and Emma laughed softly. 

“Am I going to have to carry you up to bed?” She asked, and Regina smiled. 

“I’m just resting my eyes,” She insisted, voice heavy with sleep. Emma laughed, and she grunted, adding, “I am.” A moment later, and then, barely a mumble: "Maybe." 

Emma only smiled, wrapping her arms tighter around Regina and shifting them both back against the arm rest. Thankfully, Regina’s couch was oversized, and they could lay comfortably side by side. Regina hummed, curling up against Emma’s side with one leg hooked over Emma’s. 

Emma did end up carrying her upstairs, after all. 

They’d both drifted off, Emma herself after watching Regina sink into sleep, cataloging every little twitch of her nose, the way her hair fell forward over her cheek when she shifted. She’d awoken to the clock reading well after three a.m.

She shifted off the couch and slid one arm beneath Regina’s back, another at her knees. 

Regina didn’t come to until they were at the top of the stairs. “You’re strong,” She murmured, a smile tugging at her lips, though she never opened her eyes. “I was kidding. About carrying me.” 

Emma laughed, though she was a bit out of breath. “I work out,” She answered, and Regina’s smile grew into a sleepy grin. Regina only nuzzled her face into Emma’s neck. 

“I like you,” She murmured. 

“I like you too, Regina,” Emma replied, fighting to keep the amusement from her voice. “You’re half asleep.” 

“I am,” Regina acknowledged. “I mean it.” 

“I know,” Emma agreed as they reached Regina’s bedroom. She deposited the other woman in the bed. The covers were still tousled from earlier, and she pulled them up around Regina before skirting around to the other side. Like her own personal magnet, Regina snuggled into her as soon as she slid beneath the covers. She wasn’t complaining, though: she felt something melt inside of her as Regina tucked her chin against her shoulder. Emma wrapped her hand around Regina’s waist, pulling her close. 

Yeah. This was good. And for once, it was something that she felt like she could keep