timeboundpythia: (LotR Epilogue Waiting World)
[personal profile] timeboundpythia
Title: Lessons
Author: [livejournal.com profile] timeboundpythia
Disclaimer: The characters and premise of Once Upon a Time aren't mine.
Rating: G
Spoilers: None specific.
Summary: After the curse is broken and a return is made to fairytale land, Emma is having trouble adjusting, though receiving assistance from an unexpected source.
Notes: Emma/Regina.


Her escape was almost complete.

Just past that last watchman and...

As light started to fade from the sky, Emma was out of the castle and running.

They believed she needed protecting. Their attempts to assign a guard contingent to her hadn’t ended well, for she had managed to make those guards look incompetent without expending much effort at all and should have lost them their jobs several dozen times over. Perhaps the princesses they were used to babysitting were more docile. Maybe the ridiculous dresses had slowed those girls down. She didn’t know. In the end, following argument upon argument and a tangled web of obligation and regret, all had agreed that the situation did nothing but make them all miserable and she was left mostly to her own devices, with only the usual watch in the palace to try and evade to avoid lectures and questions.

Arguing with her parents always turned out to be an inelegant, less-than-witty, unmitigated disaster, with too many weapons in each of their hands to entirely avoid hurt. She was not a child. She was sorry she wasn’t the baby they had had to give up. Mary Margaret was all at once best friend, mother and myth, leaving her stumbling over her words every time she tried to address her. Snow. Mom. Mother. Mary Margaret. Queen.

Princess Emma. God.

It all left her with two constants: Henry, who was struggling just as much as she was, only with the added pain of being taken from the woman who had raised him, and Regina, who was... undeniably Regina, with her cold anger, guarded soul and a bitterness that had everything and nothing to do with their return to the world from which she had flung them.

Everyone insisted that Regina didn’t have a soul.

Emma knew better, but she had to admit that Henry would not (yet) be safe with Regina, not that she was sure he was safe with her either. He needed people to show him the way in a world he was desperately and eagerly trying to understand, not someone who still had trouble lacing up a corset correctly and spoke out of turn at dinner. Her parents were good parents; she could see that in the devotion Henry could accept and which she fought off at every turn; could see that he was safe with and could learn from them.

She could understand Regina’s bitterness, being forced to watch those she (had?) despised play happy-families with the child that she, of all of them, had the potential to understand the most.

Emma slipped into the stables and was soon leading out one of the more mellow mares. The poor thing had put up with quite a lot from her in the past few months, being that she had missed the memo that she could only assume had read ‘Requirements of a fairytale princess: must be able to ride a horse.’ The dresses, she simply could not get on with, but she had persisted with the horse riding for the sake of her parents, who had taken it upon themselves to teach her personally (and had subsequently witnessed the awkward posture, falling and frequent cursing). She was thankful that she had continued on through it all, since it now allowed her to put distance between herself and the castle more swiftly than on foot.

Distance was only one of the things she wanted.

Half an hour’s ride later and... she wasn’t there.

Regina wasn’t there.

She had never not been there, waiting beside the tallest tree, even when they had been pretending that their meetings were completely by chance.

Glancing about, Emma didn’t dare call out, for fear of alerting someone far more unpleasant (though who would believe there was anyone more unpleasant?) than Regina. Who went around shouting out the name of the woman who had done so many terrible things?

Where the hell was she?

Trapped? Dead? Brooding in her empty castle? Or did she simply just not-

“My, don’t we look anxious.”

“Don’t do that!” Emma snapped. “I thought you were-“

“Dead?” Regina scoffed. “Please. Even if I am powerless now, they’re all too scared to risk laying a hand on me in-case it’s not true. I can skulk around these woods, as you’d put it, to my heart’s,” she smirked, the sharpness there drawing attention from any pain visible in her eyes, “content.”

“Then have the decency to skulk around on time.”

“My dear princess, were you worried?”

“Forgive my concern for the woman who most people would quite happily leave for dead,” Emma retorted.

Regina’s gaze softened marginally. “But not you.”

“No. Not me.”

Silence. Just for a moment. Just the quiet and a shared look of apprehension and untold affection threatening to break through ample frustration. Then the raven-haired woman let forth a cackle worthy of the evil queen she once was as she gently tugged at her horse’s reins and broke from the tree line, horse falling quickly into a gallop. “Come on, princess,” Regina called back. “Looks like your riding’s getting up to scratch. Next week, we start on banquet manners.”

“Great.”

“I know; it could take years.”

“And quit calling me that.”

“Make me.”

Fin
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