A/N: For all of you who enjoyed the first chapter and are moving onto the second one, I hope you do continue to enjoy the direction this story will take! :) Happy reading!
Both Henry and Regina removed their coats and scarfs around their bodies and necks, hanging them on the coat rack that was stationed by the front door. The indoors already providing a familiar and welcoming warmth that Regina remembered all too well from when she was a child. The chimney in the living room was lit, every corner of the cabin was decorated with Christmas ornaments, lights and the famous reef on the door, along with red and green spheres. And to top it off, the mistletoe by the kitchen entrance, which was straight ahead.
Everything, except a Christmas tree. That they would all go hunting for as a family later in the day, as it was their tradition.
"Look, who's here!" Henry Sr. beamed, his cheeks light pink.
"Henry, go easy on those cookies." Regina warned her son, who was already scarfing down a few freshly made sugar cookies.
"Grahama s'id I coo eat s'm!" Henry exclaimed, his mouth full.
"Regina, dear!" Cora smiled a smile similar to Regina's, which the brunette didn't know if she found annoying or or not. "It's so wonderful to see you."
Regina smiled, a bit of a sarcastic smile but a smile nonetheless, "Hello, mother." She placed a kiss on the older woman's cheek, "A little behind on baking?"
"Afraid so, dear, but, nothing we won't be able to handle," She glanced over at Henry, "isn't that right, Henry?"
"Wrigh!" Henry beamed, his cheeks puffed up with mashed cookies, crumbs decorating his lips.
Regina sighed, shaking her head, "Mother, I really wish you wouldn't spoil my son with cookies before dinner, he will throw them up all over the place."
"Oh," Cora brushed her daughter's words off, "He's a boy, Regina. You were a girl once before, remember?"
"How could I forget?" The brunette hissed under her breath.
"Never mind that, darling." Her arm linked with her daughter's, "What's this I hear about Daniel not coming to join us for this entire week?" Regina threw a glare at her son, knowing too well he had opened his mouth up to his grandmother.
Henry Sr. cleared his throat, "Hen, why don't you come and help your tired, old grandfather with unloading your luggage from your mother's car, huh? Leave some cookies for the rest of us."
Henry was quick to jump off the counter, (his favorite spot in the kitchen) leaving happily to give his grandfather a hand with all that luggage.
"Honestly, dear…" Cora continued, "Is he really not coming?"
Regina sighed, "No, mother, I'm afraid not."
"Why, Regina, whatever did you do?" The woman asked, oblivious to her daughter's eye roll, "You see, this is why you should be more outgoing, you really shouldn't work so much, dear. I mean, my God, be more open minded about relationships- you aren't getting any younger. Do you know what you're doing to my heart? You're breaking it. Do you want to die miserable and alone?"
"Well, mother, you know, that is every single mother's dream- dying miserable and alone…" Her tone sarcastic, which quickly changed as soon as her mother threw a well known glare her way, " I don't know, maybe being alone for a while isn't such a bad idea." She nodded, noticing her mother's wide-eyed glance, "You know, I'm so focused with finding happiness in all these guys that I just don't seem to really connect with, maybe that's a sign that I need something else in my life for once. Something different."
Before Cora could say anything else, to possibly protest against her daughter- because that was her favorite hobby, it seemed- the doorbell rang.
"Oh! That's your sister!" Cora's hands clapped together, absolutely delighted that the family was soon coming together. "She claims to have the best Christmas gift for me and your father this Christmas."
"Oh, really?" Regina's brows raised, trying to sound as sarcastic as possible, "That's quite a shocker."
"Regina, dear, help me with this last batch, would you?" Said Cora, removing her oven gloves and quickly handing them over to her older daughter. Her smile matching Zelena's as she walked in through the kitchen.
Regina decided to quickly bury her head into the oven, almost considering jumping right in and shutting the lid on herself. But then deciding that the heat would be a little too much.
"It never fails!" Zelena beamed, her arms spreading out, "Every time I arrive, the smell of freshly baked cookies just surrounds the old place!" She beamed, her arms wrapping around her mother in a loving hug.
"Zelena, dear, mm!" Cora squeezed her daughter's body in a tight hug. It was always a sight that made Regina sick to her stomach as she tended to be the favorite. "My God, let me look at you." Her eyes scanned her daughter's glowing appearance, "You look absolutely…" She stumbled trying to find her words.
"Gorgeous?" Zelena smirked, her red hair somehow matching perfectly with her dark green trench coat and maroon scarf, "I know, mother. All part of Robin and mine's Christmas surprise for you and daddy."
Cora gasped excitedly, "It isn't another trip to Hawaii, is it? Dear, we couldn't possibly…"
Regina rolled her eyes, placing the platter of cookies down on one of the kitchen counters.
"No," Zelena chuckled, "It's bigger. Much, much bigger, mother."
"Oh, what is it, dear? You know, your father and his weak heart, he can't take big surprises."
The red head tisked at her mother, "Sorry, mother, you'll just have to wait."
"Oh, dear, but couldn't you just-"
"She said to wait!" Regina snapped, her jaw clenching tightly, knowing that whatever it was, it would top her Christmas present to her parents. It always did.
"Oh! You really shouldn't have, son!" Henry senior's voice was heard from the living room.
Zelena looked over at her sister with a smirk, while Cora's eyes were momentarily wide, until she went to investigate what had her husband all excited. Leaving both siblings all alone.
Zelena's husband, Robin was also just like her. Both made a ridiculous amount of money, not that Regina didn't but her sister always seemed to have more. Even ending up marrying her High School sweetheart, Robin Locksley, whom Regina might've had a crush on once upon a time ago. But, like always, he chose Zelena out of the two. Of course, all that was forgotten now, buried in the past, but what she couldn't stand was that her sister and Robin always went out of their way in getting them the most expensive gifts. Even to her son Henry.
"Regina…" She heard her name being called, which made the brunette close her eyes momentarily, continuing on decorating the rest of her mother's Christmas cookies. Her head turned towards her sister as she felt her arms squeezing her into an embrace.
"How are you, Zelena?" She asked her.
"Oh, you know me," Zelena shrugged, smirking, "When you have an amazing husband like mine, a girl can't complain."
Regina smiled a sarcastic smile, "I know."
"Oh." Zelena leaned over the counter, her eyes watching her sister quite sympathetically, "I'm sorry to hear about Daniel dumping you. And on Christmas time!"
The brunette finally stopped what she was doing, her brows furrowing, "How- how did you know about that?"
"The Mills hotline, of course. You know mother tells me everything."
Regina nodded, "Right. Well… he didn't dump me."
"Oh, of course, he didn't, darling." Zelena's hand patted her sister's hand quite delicately and quite sarcastically.
How in the hell is it that they could know that he dumped her? That just irritated her to her very core. Just like the fact that every time something went wrong in her life, her mother and sister were always gossiping about it.
"He didn't." Regina confirmed, already convincing herself of that very lie, "It just so happens…" Her hand continued to place the green frosting on a tree shaped cookie, "I was the one who ended things with him."
"Really?" Zelena's brow raised, intrigued once her sister nodded in confirmation, "Do tell. What happened, did you find him in bed with someone else?" Her eyes grew wide, drawing her own assumptions already, "No, wait! Don't tell me, it was him who found you in bed with someone else, am I right?"
"Of course not!" Regina's brows furrowed, she moved away, packing up the cookies by memory, each similar sets in their own bags. Just like when she was a child.
"It's nothing to be ashamed of. I mean sometimes the flesh is weak," Zelena shrugged, "A woman finds herself alone and you do unspeakable things."
This time, Regina couldn't help but chuckle, the bags crackling within her hands as she kept up her work, "Are you saying you've cheated on Robin?"
A cackle was released from the redhead, "Dear me, no! Don't be silly, sis, I would never! But, I did cheat on Chad in High School."
Regina's eyes grew, "You cheated on Chad? With who?"
The brunette scoffed, shaking her head, a smirk visible on her lips now.
"Mom!" Henry ran into the kitchen, "You have to come see what uncle Robin brought grandpa! It's big and it plays records!"
"Way to not give it away, Henry." Zelena ruffled the boy's hair, walking right behind the boy and his mother as they entered the living room where their father was already playing one of his old vinyl records. Frank Sinatra's voice filling the room with White Christmas.
"Cora mentioned to us that your old record player had broken, so we wanted to give it to you a little early." Robin smiled at the older man, who almost had tears in his eyes from listening to his classic records.
Cora's hand patted at the man's back, caressing the wool of his green sweater, "Well, that is a very thoughtful gift, Robin, dear." She held out a hand for her grandson, "Henry, come, dance with your dear grandmother, hm?"
"Would you care to dance with your dear, old father?" Henry senior held out his hand for his daughter Zelena, which she quickly took and began dancing with him without protest.
That only left Robin and Regina.
Robin's eyes met with the brunette's, his hand extending before her, "Shall we?" He offered.
The brunette almost blushed, because she couldn't help to admit that the man had a charming smile to him. She was hesitant, but accepted his hand anyway, looking down at her feet, already stepping on his shoe which caused him to wince a little.
"I'm sorry." Regina chuckled, quite bashfully, keeping her eyes down on her feet.
"Never one to dance, were you?" Robin chuckled, leading her carefully to the best of his abilities, "You're not that bad."
Regina glared his way, "Now you're just being nice just because you're my brother-in-law."
Dancing would be fun for her, if she knew how without stepping over anyone's feet. She always did that and scowled herself for it. She remembered that her father always tried showing her how to dance, and he wouldn't mind her stepping on her feet when she was a child, but now as an adult- she was sure she would probably crush them. Still, she was grateful Robin managed to keep up their dancing enough for both of them. And she was even more grateful once the music ended and it was time for everyone to head on out and pick out their Christmas tree for this year.
Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree by Brenda Lee played out through the speakers of the outdoors once they arrived at the only town's tree lot. The family traveled in two separate cars. The snow shoveled, creating a pathway for people to walk along on.
Christmas trees were always something that made Regina smile, the smell of fresh pine brought back to many fond, childhood memories of her and her father shopping for their tree. He taught her all he knew about picking out the perfect one.
Somehow, you just saw it and you just knew…
"Come on, Henry, let's go before all the good trees are taken!" Robin lifted the boy up and carried him over his shoulders, running past a crowd of people. Henry happily holding on to his uncle's hands. While Cora and Henry senior went off to look on their own.
"Robin, be careful with him, please!" Shouted Regina, her body going stiff at the feel of her sister's arm wrapped around her.
"Don't worry about it, sis," Zelena grinned, watching Robin with Henry by some trees, "I have a feeling he is going to be a wonderful father. Someday."
Regina chuckled, walking along with her sister, arms linked together, "You a mom? I can't believe that."
The redhead's brow raised, "Oh? Do you think you can be the only one raising a child in this family?"
"That's not what I meant." Regina looked into her sister's eyes and saw seriousness, "But, Zelena, come on. You and Robin have never even discussed the possibility of having children. You're both so busy with your jobs and life to even want children. You yourself always said you were both still in your prime of marriage."
Zelena nodded, "That's true and I still firmly believe that. But, lately, I don't know…" She shrugged, her eyes scanning through a row of trees. She grinned at her sister, "Hey, listen. Robin has a single friend he works with-"
The brunette rolled her eyes, sighing, "Zelena, no-"
"His name is Graham." She insisted, "Incredibly handsome- I think you would really hit it off."
"I don't need you or mother or anyone in this family to start setting me up with someone who will just end up being intimidated by me." She shook her head, "Especially your husband."
Zelena raised her hands in defense, "Alright, alright. I'm sorry to bring it up." Her pale hand came up to caress the pine needles, her nose scrunching up. "I think this one's too soft."
"The softer the better, it'll last longer." Regina removed her glove, the cold quickly coating her hand as she reached to caress another part of the needles on the tree.
Zelena shrugged, never really caring which tree they acquired as long as they had one. "I'm going to go look over there."
Regina remained too focused on the tree, taking in its stance and green appearance. Her hand reached inside her coat pocket, pulling out a glass ornament of a small horse. Her first one, given to her by her father when she was just six years old. It hung by a red string, perfectly on the tree as the brunette placed it on there. Just to test out the look. Her smile beaming at the sight of it.
"You carry your own Christmas ornament?"
Regina turned to the sight of the same blonde woman from the bar, back in New York, her eyes wide but brows furrowed rather quickly in question, "You?"
Emma smiled the same dimple cheek smile, "Me."
Okay, now she really had to be stalking to her.
"What are you doing here?" Regina had to ask, her eyes taking in the sight of the blonde's tight jeans, boots, black sweater, and unmistakable red leather jacket, plus her golden locks hanging over her shoulders.
"I followed you." Emma said bluntly, at least that's the way it sounded to Regina.
"Swan, I need the keys to my truck-" Leroy's eyes quickly moved over to the beautiful brunette, a smirk, "hey… who's your friend?"
While Regina had no interest in meeting him, even with that Santa hat on his head, Emma rolled her eyes, handing the short man his keys, "Alright, Leroy, go. You'll scare her off."
"Oh, what- is she spoken for or something?" He asked with a grunt.
"She is for you, Grumpy." Emma rushed him off, pushing him on his way.
"I've told you to stop calling me that!" He warned her, "Quit flirting and get back to work!" Leroy glared at the blonde as he went on his way, his features grumpy looking.
Emma looked back at Regina with pink rosy cheeks, her hands tucked inside her pockets, "Sorry about that. He's always in a grumpy mood, hence the nickname."
"You work here?" Regina asked, still not overcoming her surprised state to find the attractive blonde here, of all places.
Emma dug inside the back pocket of her jeans, showing off her own Santa hat, "Guilty. I'm more of a volunteer, really. Leroy appreciates all the extra help he can get."
Regina's brow raised, watching the man cursing something under his breath as his truck wouldn't start, "Yes, he seems very appreciative."
The blonde smiled at the frustrated sight of the man, "He takes a while to warm up to." Her eyes gluing back to the beautiful brunette, "So," She motioned towards the tree, where the brunette's ornament still hung, "I think this is the right tree for you."
"Do you now?" Asked Regina, her brow raised, glancing over at her ornament, which was being appreciated by the blonde.
"Yeah, it goes very well with your glass ornament." Emma took the glass horse down carefully, handing it back to her, "Who carries an ornament in their pocket?" She asked, brows furrowed.
"This isn't just any ornament." Said the brunette, tucking it back safely into her coat pocket, "This was my very first own one that my father gifted to me. So, you see it's special."
"Cute. The only ornament I ever liked was in a pawn shop not too far from here." Emma shrugged, "It's not mine to others, but mentally to me it is. It's a small swan."
Zelena continued to look around, now with little Henry by her side, her eyes glancing over at her sister with the strange, attractive blonde woman. "Henry?" She nodded, "Who is that with your mom?"
Henry's brown eyes took in the sight of his mother with Emma, his brows furrowing, a smile soon exposing his lips, "Oh, that's Emma. She's a friend of my mom's," He looked up at his aunt, "I heard her telling Kathryn about her last night."
Zelena hid behind a tree to not be spotted and continued her observations from afar. She could certainly see an attraction between, even from afar.
"I'm actually glad I ran into you again." Said Emma.
"You are?" Regina asked.
Emma nodded, her hands remaining in her pockets, "Yeah, because I actually felt bad for interfering in your business back at the bar with your ex-boyfriend."
"Oh," Regina brushed her words off, "Just forget about it."
The blonde nodded, "So, still friends?" She extended her hand out, which Regina hesitantly shook, her eyes focused on the blonde's smile again, a smile Regina didn't mind looking at every time it flashed before her eyes.
"Swan! Will you come help me with this piece of garbage truck?" Leroy shouted, to which everyone turned his way.
Regina chuckled, taking her hand back as Emma looked at her apologetically.
"I guess I gotta go, but I'll be sure to have this tree delivered to you later today." She assured Regina.
"That would be great. Thank you." She watched her leave, chuckling to herself and shaking her head. It seemed Emma made her have that reaction so easily. Her tiny smirk that coated her lips was soon gone, of course as soon as her sister caught up with her.
"So, sis… who's your friend?" Zelena nodded towards the blonde, who was helping Leroy with his rusty blue truck.
Regina shook her head, brows now furrowed, "She works here, she was helping me pick out a tree."
"Oh, we have a tree?" Zelena asked.
"Yeah, we'll get it delivered later on today."
"So, we have a tree?" Henry senior asked, appearing behind his two daughters along with his wife, Robin and Henry. "Which one is it?" His smile grew at the sight of the tree that the brunette pointed to.
"If you don't like it, we can always-"
Henry wrapped his arm around Regina's form, his smile flashing before her, "It's the perfect tree, sweetheart. That's the one."
She smiled, feeling a kiss given to her right on her temple by her father. Mentally thanking God himself that the subject of the mysterious blonde woman was dropped.
"So… your mysterious friend seems to like you." Zelena murmured, catching her sister right on the stairs, after she was done unpacking her suitcases that were brought into the house.
Of course, that subject was only dropped for a little while, given that once both sisters found themselves alone again, Zelena was right back on it.
Regina rolled her eyes, "Zelena, please. We were just talking-"
"You know, I always had my suspicions that maybe your inclinations were directed towards the females, but-"
"Wha-?" Regina scoffed almost a choking sound, followed by a chuckle, "Zelena, don't be ridiculous. I'm not… I'm not."
Zelena stared at her sister wide-eyed, "Hey, I'm not judging, sis. I mean, there a few times I experimented with a girl before Robin and I-"
Regina blinked, "I'm sorry, what?"
"It's a perfectly normal thing, darling. And with the way that blonde was staring at you and you were staring at her back at the tree lot-" She chuckled.
Zelena shrugged, "Nothing," her arm linking through the brunette's arm again, guiding her towards the living room, "So, you're absolutely sure you're not a lesbian?"
Regina gave it some thought, chuckling to herself, "I would say that is a possibility."
Zelena clapped her hands, very much like their mother, "Wonderful! Because," she nudged her sister into the living room, "There is someone in here whom Robin and I would like to introduce you too."
The brunette's eyes followed Zelena's line of sight, which led to Robin's friend Graham who was conversing with him and their father and mother. As it turned out, he had traveled out there to spend Christmas with them, personally invited by Robin and Zelena. "Oh, no." Her eyes wide as she quickly turned back.
"Ah!" Zelena pulled her right back, nudging her into the living room while whispering into her ear, "Just give him a chance, Regina. He's a good guy, and you can't deny how handsome he is."
"Zelena, I really don't want-" Regina spat under her breath, smiling at Graham who's eyes were focused on her now as they entered the living room.
"Graham, this is my sister, Regina." She smiled, nudging her sister one more time, standing her in front of Robin's charming friend, "Regina, this is Graham Humbert."
The nervous man cleared his throat, finding the brunette absolutely attractive, "Hello. Regina." He extended his hand.
"Hello. Graham." The brunette shook his hand, her eyes looking up into the man's green ones. She wasn't feeling it, she hated this, being matched up with someone she knew absolutely nothing about. As charming as the man was, he wasn't as charming as Emma. Even she had to admit that.
Her head turned to everyone gawking at them both with matching smiles. God, did she hate her family sometimes. They could be quite pushy to want to see her with someone.
"Graham, dear," Cora spoke up next, "Didn't you say you wanted to go on a walk?" Her eyes looking at her daughter, "Regina, dear, why don't you go with him?"
"Oh, I- I- I don't-" Regina stumbled through her words.
"Regina," Cora warned her, whispering into her ear, "Don't be rude, dear. He came all this way."
Regina smiled over at Graham, slowly releasing a breath, "I'll get my coat."
"Great." He looked over at Robin, who nudged him over, making him quickly reach the brunette by the door, "Here, I'll help you. Let me help you with your coat." He took the brunette's coat, placing it one sleeve at a time around her body, while she took care of the scarf. And just as he pulled open the door…
Everyone's eyes, including Regina's were focused on the blonde standing just outside the door, Christmas tree by her side.
"You?" Regina's brows furrowed.
Emma smiled at the sight of the brunette, "Hi. Uh… I came delivering your tree."
Zelena smirked, "Regina, aren't you going to introduce us to your friend?"
Everyone glanced over at the redhead with confusion as to how they knew each other, including Emma.
That's when Regina came up with the craziest of ideas. An idea that would surely get her family off of her back with wanting to pair her up with anyone else. Emma couldn't have arrived on a more perfect time.
"Regina, how do you know her, dear?" Asked Cora.
Brown eyes focused back on the confused blonde, her smile on point. "Uh… why don't you come on in?" She didn't give the blonde a chance to protest, just grabbed her by the arm and brought her into the house, leaving the tree just outside the cabin. "Everyone, I have an announcement. This is Emma."
Emma waved shyly at everyone, her eyes looking down at the brunette's hand, which rested against her chest, her other hand suddenly holding onto her own.
Regina continued to flash a pearly white smile, "Emma and I… well, we've been dating. We're together."
Eyes wide, mouths dropped open at the sudden, unexpected news, including Graham's and even poor Emma's, who gawked at the crazy brunette with utter shock.