Disclaimer: I own nothing but the plot and any unrecognizable characters and dialogue.
Honestly I should have been working on Goodbye Means Forgetting but I couldn't get this out of my head and honestly, it fed my muse to write this. So, enjoy.
"How are things at home? It can't be easy, what with Henry's birth mother showing up out of the blue."
Evie chewed on the pin stuck between her lips, brow creased in concentration. Ruby stood on the raised dais set in the middle of the studio apartment. Swatches of fabric were strewn about every available surface in every color, material and print imaginable.
Circling her friend to critically examine her latest masterpiece – a sinfully form-fitting dress made of patented red leather, with a low-cut neckline – Evie clapped her hands in success.
"Perfect," she announced, beaming up at Ruby. Her smile dimmed at the sight of the older woman's concerned frown. "It's been an adjustment, I'll admit. But we're… surviving."
Evie chose the neutral term with care; her mother never liked it when outsiders knew about any strife within the mayoral Mills family. As it was, there wasn't a soul in Storybrooke who hadn't heard about the sudden appearance of the birth mother of Mayor Mills' youngest child and only son, Henry.
"Has Mayor Mills been on the warpath?" Ruby cautiously asked. Evie disliked it when people made disparaging comments against her mother, even if they were warranted. While Ruby admired her friend's loyalty to her mother, she still tested the waters every now and then. "I mean, she can't be too pleased to have Emma here."
Evie's eyes narrowed thoughtfully. "First name basis with the blonde interloper, are we?" She asked, turning to arrange the half-finished accessories on the table to her left. She had several red jewel hearts set against gold filigree finished and ready to be sold, while others had yet to be glued.
"E… " Ruby began, looking stricken by the implications of Evie's words. "I would never- "
Evie whirled, expression softening at the sight of Ruby's dismay. "I'm joking, Rubes. I know that you wouldn't betray our friendship like that. Besides," she admitted grudgingly, "Emma is surprisingly… pleasant. Honestly, I think my mom is more displeased of being deprived of a real, concrete reason to hate her."
"You mean other than Henry running off to find her?"
Evie laughed, twirling her dark curls. "Exactly. I can understand hating Emma on principle, but that might make people think my mother is just a bitter, jealous woman."
Ruby tried, and failed, to hide her smirk. "Regina? Bitter and jealous? I've never heard something so ridiculous."
The studio echoed warmly with their laughter, broken only by the faint but purposeful knocking on the door. Tossing her curls, Evie ushered Ruby behind the changing screen and unzipped the dress before returning to the dais to collect leftover fabric.
"Come in!" She called as an afterthought, gathering the material in her arms to reuse on something else.
"E!" Ruby whined. "The zipper is stuck!"
Rolling her eyes at the drama queen – who was also her best customer – Evie made to trek across the room, only to stop dead at the sight of the stranger at the door. Emma Swan stood awkwardly, wearing a silken lavender blouse that Evie knew belonged to her mother – Evie had designed it herself – with Henry at her side.
"Hi Evie!" Henry sped towards her with the speed of a freight train. "I knew you'd be here!"
"Henry, it's not even noon, where else would I be?" Evie knelt to his level, twerking his nose affectionately. "Now, the better question is, why aren't you in school?"
His eyes slid away guiltily. "No reason. Emma needs some clothes and I figured this would be faster than shopping!"
Evie blinked at the subject change, raising an eyebrow at the color rising rapidly in Emma's high cheekbones. She had begun to wonder if the red, leather jacket, jeans, and leather boots the blonde had worn since her arrival were the only articles of clothing the blonde owned.
"Well, as you can see, I've got plenty finished." Evie gestured expansively toward the racks of finished clothes. "Go ahead and look, if you want. You," she pointed at the small lounge area and nodded at Henry, "go and sit there while I finish with Ruby."
At her name, Ruby saw fit to remind them of her predicament. "Still stuck in the dress, E!"
Sighing, Evie turned and went to extract Ruby from the death trap her commission had become. Ten minutes later, Ruby was fully dressed again, newest dress packed safely into a garment bag. Waving goodbye, and tousling Henry's hair playfully, Ruby left the trio to stare awkwardly at one another.
Emma had several articles of clothing gathered in her arms, leaving Evie to eye them critically. Several plain tank tops in white, grey and black, along with two pairs of skinny jeans. Clothes she hadn't had a chance to tailor or embellish.
Evie nodded in acceptance. "Those'll work. Do you need them tailored?" She asked with a pained smile.
Emma hesitated before nodding cautiously and heading towards the changing screen. Henry watched, half-upside down on the sofa, as his sister measured Emma, pinning the clothes as she went.
"So… you're a seamstress?" Emma ventured after several minutes of strained silence.
Thrown off by the one-word reply, Emma searched her brain. "Henry said you were sixteen… shouldn't you still be in school, not running a business?"
Thankfully, Evie wasn't offended by the line of questioning. "Actually, I'll be seventeen soon. And I finished a year early."
Satisfied that the clothes fit how they should – she didn't even need to alter the pants too much – Evie collected the clothes and set them near her sewing machine.
"They'll be done by tomorrow morning, you can pick them up then."
"Thanks," Emma smiled, the expression faint and guarded, but there were hints of friendliness that Evie hadn't been privy to yet. "Really, I was in a bit of a bind. When Henry suggested this place… "
"I get it." Evie told her, giving her an equally small smile. Both turned to Henry, the air between them no longer as thick with tension as it had been at their first meeting. "Henry, Emma's leaving!"
"How'd it go?" The little boy asked, his beaming smile making Evie scoff in indulgent amusement. "What?"
"You, little brother, are too crafty for your own good." Evie teased, giving him a tap on the nose. "I phoned the school and called you off for today, so mom won't know you skipped to spend time with Emma." The unspoken again lingered in the air between the two siblings. "Now, don't skip school again, or mom'll have both our heads."
Henry's smiled widened, nearly splitting his face in half. Launching himself at her, her hugged her tightly around the waist before he grabbed Emma's hand and dragged her from the studio.
Evie watched them go, her hesitant, amused smile slowly dying, as the implications of the effect that Emma Swan's permanent presence in Storybrooke would have on Henry, finally settled heavily in her stomach.
Thoughts? Comments? Questions?