A/N: Thank you to all my readers who have enjoyed this story enough to move onto chapter 3! Let me know if you'd like more and I will update another 3 chapters until this story is entirely done. I know I take my time to update my works, but I do get things done, eventually. Happy reading! :)
"Excuse me?" Cora blinked, while Robin's mouth hung open.
"Alright, sis!" Zelena smirked, "I knew you were hiding something from us when I saw you at the tree lot!"
Henry senior rubbed his temple, walking ahead of everyone else, standing in front of his daughter, "Regina, what on earth are you saying?"
Regina squeezed at Emma's hand who she felt wanted to make a run for it, "What I'm saying, daddy, is that…" Her eyes turned to the blonde, "Emma and I," She turned back to face her father, "We've known each other for a while now and I, well, I wasn't sure everyone would take the news of me seeing a woman, so… I asked her to meet us here. She's the reason why Daniel isn't showing up."
Robin's mouth, along with Graham's hung open, while Zelena's smirk remained frozen in time.
Henry took a step back as Cora walked up to both women next, "So, you two… are you saying you are romantically involved?" Her eyes landing on a confused Emma.
Green eyes looked over from Cora to Regina, who looked at her quite pleadingly. She hadn't spoken since she walked through that front door.
"I…" Emma looked at Regina one more time before shrugging and providing the older woman with a warm smile, "Guilty, again." She chuckled, her arm wrapping around Regina's waist, to look the part.
"Uh," Robin cleared his throat, "Graham, why don't you and I bring that tree in?" He quickly placed his hand on the small of Zelena's back, "Honey? Give us a hand?" He nodded towards the door.
"Are you kidding?" Zelena beamed, "There is no way I am missing this!"
Robin threw a glare her way, nudging his wife out the door, "Come on, sweetheart. Not everything concerns you." He murmured, walking out the door, shutting it in place.
The house grew quiet. Regina thanking God once again that Henry had gone down for a nap, returning absolutely worn out from hunting for that perfect tree.
"Alright, look, I know this must look," Said Regina, "but, you have to understand, it wasn't an easy thing to say. I- I for one was surprised when Emma and I met," Her eyes turned to the blonde who remained quiet, "and sparks just flew. We became really good friends and you know, one thing leads to another." She sighed, "Please say something."
"You know, this to me seems more like a family matter, so I'm just gonna…" Emma motioned towards the door, wanting badly to leave.
"Don't you dare walk out that door." Cora warned her, which was enough to keep the blonde right where she was standing. Her eyes focused on her daughter as she stood before her now, "Regina…" She paused, inhaling slowly, "Are you saying you are a lesbian?"
Regina hesitated but nodded. Too afraid to say anything else.
A smile overcame her mother's lips, pulling the frightened brunette into a loving, motherly embrace, "My darling, I always knew you would meet a good woman someday!"
Brown eyes looked wide at her beaming father, who stood in between both the blonde and brunette, hugging them both.
"We always knew you would find a wonderful woman. And, I must say, young lady, you are quite appealing to the eye." He winked over at Emma, embracing her in an unexpected hug, "Welcome to the family."
Emma chuckled, her hand lightly patting on the man's back, "Thank you. Sir."
"Oh, none of that sir, crap. Call me Henry." He patted the blonde's back, causing her to slightly loose her footing.
"He's right, dear." Cora smiled, beaming with happiness that her daughter finally found someone, "You may call me Cora." She hugged the blonde next, "You have absolutely no idea how happy I am that you are here."
"You are?" both women said in unison.
"Well, of course!" Cora brushed off her daughter's confused look, "For the love of God dear, wipe off that look off your face. I never cared who you ended up with, Regina, all I wanted was for you to find someone- anyone- even a woman to make you happy." Her smile grew as she stared at Emma once again, "Ugh, and what a beautiful girl you are, dear."
"Thank you, Cora." Said Emma, feeling quite flattered, "I can certainly see where Regina gets her looks from."
Cora blushed, chuckling to herself, "Oh, well…"
Regina's gaze was focused on both of her parents, "So… let me get this straight… you're saying that you're not mad? You're okay with this?"
"Of course, we are, darling." Said Henry, placing a kiss on his daughter's head, "Now, why don't we all go continue this conversation in the living room, over some hot chocolate? Come on."
"Uh…" Emma choked out, "Before we do, I was wondering if I could speak to Regina alone for a moment?" Her eyes turned to the brunette, a rather sarcastic smile on her lips, "Sweetie, may I speak with you upstairs, please?"
Regina nodded, providing her parents with another smile, "Excuse us for a moment."
"It's a pleasure to meet you." Emma smiled, waving them off as she headed up the stairs.
Cora and Henry stood side by side, the man's arm wrapped around his wife's waist, matching smiles as they looked up at the happy couple.
"It was wonderful meeting you, Emma." Said Cora.
Their heads turned to the front door opening, Robin peeking in, "Uh, Hen, would you mind helping us with this tree?"
Regina led the blonde into a room, shutting the door behind them as they entered.
Emma stood in place, hands placed on her hips, "So, we're dating now?" She waited for an explanation.
"I'm sorry." Regina held out her hands before the blonde, taking notice that she still wanted to make a run from this nut house, "I couldn't think of anything else. My family has been on my case because I got dumped, and my sister and her husband have been wanting to fix me up with their friend, even when I told them not to. It's been…" She sighed, "Exhausting. I wasn't expecting to see you again and when I did, that was the first thing that came to mind. I'm sorry, but if you could just help me and keep up appearances for my sake, I would be greatly, greatly appreciated."
Emma blinked, "Well, how long are we talking about here?"
"Just until Christmas, new years tops."
Emma chuckled, shaking her head, "I don't know."
Regina's brow raised, "Oh, so I'm only good for you to flirt with at a bar, but not when I need your help in pretending to be my girlfriend?"
Emma's cheeks turned a shade of pink at the memory, "Yeah… about that night." Her hands tucked inside her pockets, "I was a little drunk, I, I should have never…"
"Okay, so what's the difference in helping me out now?" Asked Regina.
The blonde scoffed, "It is a huge difference when you involve your entire family. I, I can't do it, I'm sorry. Not when in the end we'll probably fake a break up and crush everyone's heart. I mean, your parents are already excited as can be about the idea of us being together."
This was a crazy idea, and they couldn't possibly pull it off, even Regina knew that.
"That's exactly my point. They are already thrilled with the idea of me being romantically involved with someone." Said Regina, "And who better than you, who I ran into on this trip? Now, that has to be a sign for something."
Emma sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose, giving it some serious thought. As crazy as this idea was, she could help. It's not like she had a family to go home to for Christmas, and it would be nice to be a part of a family for one holiday- even if all of it was for appearances sake.
"Please, Emma." That was the first time, except for downstairs when being introduced to her family, that the blonde had heard her name being voiced by her. And what a beautiful sound it was. It became even more tough to say no after Regina's brown eyes looked at her the way they were in that moment, "Weren't you the one who told me that you liked the idea of coming in like a knight in shining armor to rescue me? Well, here's your chance. I need your help, just enough to get through this Christmas with my family. And if you don't do it, I will never hear the end of it."
"I also remember you stating that you didn't need to be rescued." A tiny smile tugged on her lips at the brunette's desperate look, "You really want my help?"
"Please." Regina practically begged, and that wasn't something she easily did. "What do you say?"
Emma smiled, shaking her head, "That once I agree to this, you start referring to me by my first name. No more Ms. Swan."
"So, you'll do it?" the brunette's eyes lit up, a sight Emma loved seeing happen before her very eyes.
The blonde nodded, "Yeah, I'll do it. I'll be your girlfriend for Christmas. I don't have much going on anyway." She grunted, feeling the brunette lunge at her in a hug. A hug which she returned back, and quickly broke apart from. "So, does this mean we'll act like an actual couple?
"Yes," Regina nodded, "The looks, the occasional hand holding, maybe cuddle every now and again, you know, just enough to keep up appearances and make everyone believe that we're in love."
"In love, huh?" Emma smirked, taking a few steps towards the brunette, "And will that include kissing too?"
Regina's hand landed on the blonde's stomach, preventing her from walking any further as she stepped back, "Don't push your luck. There can't be any kissing-"
"Well, then how will everyone believe that we're-?"
"Being affectionate with one another, and maybe an occasional kiss on the cheek will be enough." Regina paced around the room for a bit, "I'll have to talk to Henry to keep him in the loop."
"Henry?" Emma's brows furrowed.
"My son. I named him after his grandfather." She informed her.
Emma's smile grew, "Hey, yeah! The little munchkin, so I'll finally get to meet him, huh?"
Regina chuckled, "That reminds me, around my family, ease up on the nicknames. No calling me munchkin anymore, or pumpkin."
Emma chuckled, "Well, what should I call you?"
"Anything but that."
"Alright," The blonde shrugged, thinking up a nickname on the spot, "How about Gina? It's still your name, it's just shorter."
The brunette groaned, rubbing her temple, already hating that nickname even more, "Maybe this wasn't such a good idea."
"Alright, alright," Emma pulled the brunette back into the room as she wanted to race out the door, "I'll keep the nicknames under wraps."
Emma took in the brunette's nervous state, "Hey, this will work." She assured her, smiling at her, the same smile she glanced at the bar and tree lot, "I promise you, after this Christmas, your family is going to adore me and you will practically want to marry me."
Regina scoffed with a chuckle as she headed out the door, "I wouldn't get too cocky."
"This is going to be fun." The blonde mumbled to herself, following Regina back downstairs.
"Oh," Regina stopped just outside the bedroom door, staring back at Emma, "Just to be safe. You don't have a girlfriend or anything that will come looking for you, do you?"
"Don't worry about that, I will explain it to her calmly. Of course, I can't speak for our kid."
Regina's eyes grew wide, smacking the blonde on the arm once she grinned, "Very funny."
Emma's grin grew, "No, I don't have anyone that you need to worry about. And my family isn't here, they live far away and couldn't make it this Christmas, so, we're safe."
"Good." Regina nodded, turning to her son Henry, who was making his way out of a bedroom, rubbing his eyes. "Henry."
"This is Henry?" Emma smiled.
"Who are you?" Henry asked, staring up at Emma in surprise.
The brunette suddenly grew nervous, "Henry, this is Emma. Uh-"
"Oh, Emma!" Henry beamed, coming out of his sleepy state enough to realize she was the same blonde woman from the tree lot. "I know you!"
"You do?" Regina's brow raised.
"Well, aren't I famous." The blonde chuckled.
Henry nodded to his mother, "I saw her at the tree lot and you talked about her to Kathryn."
Emma's head turned to stare at the brunette, while her cheeks were coated with a shade of pink.
"Henry, we have to talk. Come with me." Regina pulled her son by his sweater.
"Do you like comic books?" He asked the blonde.
Emma smiled, "I sure do! You have any?"
Regina pulled on his sweater again, "You can show her your comics later, Henry. Come." Her eyes turned to the smiling blonde, "Why don't you head on downstairs? Just, don't let my family overwhelm you."
Emma waved at Henry, "Nice meeting you, kid."
While Regina explained the whole ordeal to Henry, and how he should keep up appearances, which he was delighted to do so. Especially since, Emma looked pretty trustworthy to him and he liked her right off the bat. Emma was already becoming pretty good friends with the brunette's family, really quick. So quick in fact, it surprised Regina once she came downstairs.
Regina grew nervous at the happy sight of her family, especially her sister's who came up to her with a grin from ear to ear.
"So, sis. This explains why Daniel isn't showing up." Said Zelena, "Emma, huh? Why on earth would you keep this kind of relationship a secret from me?"
"Because you would then tell mother and I wouldn't hear the end of it." Regina joked, only deep down it wasn't a joke. "Where is she?"
"Oh, she's delighting mother with helping her in the kitchen with dinner."
"Oh, my God." Regina rushed into the kitchen, finding the blonde and her mother sharing laughter. Cora relaxed, leaned up against the counter with a glass of wine in hand, while Emma took over the stirring of the mash potatoes.
"You really don't have to do that, dear. I am perfectly capable." Said Cora, taking a sip of her wine.
"Oh, I'm sure. I don't mind, I love helping out." Said Emma, her hand continuously stirring, "Although, I can't cook everything, but I make one wicked mashed potato."
"That sure does smell delightful! Doesn't it, Regina?" She asked her daughter, a pearly white smile coating her lips.
It certainly did smell delightful. Magical even. Regina couldn't help to inhale the delightful scent of their cooked meal.
"It sure does." Regina watched the blonde work, gathering the wine bottle from the counter, serving herself a drink.
"Emma, dear, forgive me. Would you like a glass of wine?" Cora asked, to which Regina was still shocked over just how well her mother was delighted with her dating a woman.
"Oh, no, thank you." Emma shook her head, continuously stirring, but providing Cora with a warm smile of her own, "I don't really drink much."
Regina's brows furrowed, looking over at the blonde, clearly remembering her enjoying a beer at the bar when they met, "You don't?" She whispered, to which Emma simply looked away.
"Well, I think that is very responsible of you." Cora's hand landed on the blonde's shoulder, her eyes looking over at her daughter, "Regina, dear. Where on earth did you meet her? She certainly is something."
Emma smiled, clearly enjoying the attention.
"That sounds like a very interesting story, doesn't it?" Zelena walked into the kitchen, wine glass in hand, pearly white smirk, matching her mother's.
Regina rolled her eyes, which Emma caught sight of. Her sarcastic smile on point, "Let's not do story time now. I don't want to overwhelm her."
"Who's overwhelming?" Cora asked, "Emma, dear, are we overwhelming you?"
Emma smiled, leaving the pot sitting on a low fire on the stove, "Oh, no, not at all." Her head turned towards the brunette, who by the look on her face, wasn't exactly sure what to say. Emma however, came up with something on the spot, as if it were a work of magic, "We've known each other, what? About a week. I was uh, having a really bad day and I was at a bar and she happened to walk in there for a quick drink and we saw each other from across the room." Her smile beamed so well, Regina had to admit, she could keep up appearances, "Sparks just flew."
Cora and Zelena were both holding each other's hands, absolutely over-taken by the blonde's story. Even Regina found herself getting lost for a moment in those big, green eyes of hers.
Robin stepped inside the kitchen, an empty glass in hand, his brow raised at the sight of the women staring at one another, "What's going on? What did we miss?"
It was his confused look and tone of voice that woke them all up from their trance. Regina found herself blinking to gather her thoughts in that moment.
"Oh," Zelena walked up to her husband, grabbing him by the arm of his green sweater, "Robbie, you missed it! Emma here is telling us about how they met."
"Well, of course, as attracted as we were with one another," Emma continued, "We fought immediately after."
"Fought?" Cora asked, brow furrowed.
"Oh, yeah. She wanted my cab, I said no." Emma smiled as everyone else shared a laugh around the kitchen.
"Oh, dear," Cora's hand rested on Emma's arm, suddenly pulling her into a tight hug that surprised both the blonde and brunette, "You certainly are like a breath of fresh air in this house! Wait until you meet my son, Jefferson. He will just love you."
"Where is he?" Emma asked, keeping up the conversation, once Cora broke their hug.
"Oh, he is always late. Practically the last one to make it to our little reunion." Zelena brushed it off, "He will be here soon, I'm sure."
"Hey, um," Robin squeezed right in, "Do you mind if we all gather in the living room? We are trying to get this damn train set to work, but we literally can't figure it out. Henry already changed the batteries and it won't work."
"A train set?" Emma asked him, to which Robin nodded.
"We always place a train set around the tree every Christmas," Regina explained, smiling at the memory of when she was a child, "Father insists."
"Yes, we must absolutely get that old thing to work or my husband will for sure have a heart attack." Said Cora, "I've told him to throw it away and get a new one, but too many memories with that thing."
"Well, I love trains." Emma smiled, "Let's have a look at it." Everyone moved along the living room with her, where Henry immediately came running up to the blonde with the train in hand.
"Emma, can you fix this? We've tried everything." Henry handed his grandfather's train to her.
"It shouldn't be a problem. Let's see what we can do." Emma moved over to the couch, along with Henry, already messing with the train.
Regina couldn't understand what she was doing with it or how she easily took it apart, or where did this miracle of a woman come from to agree to help her out with this crazy idea, but she certainly found herself more and more fascinated by her just like the rest of her family.
"Oh, dear, she is lovely." Cora spoke, standing to the left of her daughter, her eyes on Emma.
"She really is, sis." Zelena nudged her, while she stood to her right side, "I don't know why on earth you had her so well hidden. Seriously though, where on earth did you find her?"
Regina shrugged, smiling, "I guess it was just one of those forms of miracles type of situations."
"She did it!" Henry's shout of excitement made them turn their heads, along with the sound of the train whistling and working.
"Well, I'll be, look at that!" Henry Sr. smiled, rosy cheeks and all.
"How on earth did you know to do that?" Robin's head tilted in question, wondering just how she fixed it.
"Mom, she fixed it!" Henry looked over at his mother, shutting the train off as he began to take the other parts out of their box.
Emma shrugged, smiling, "I used to work with trains a lot." Her eyes met Regina's from across the room, a smile tugging at the brunette's lips in amazement. While Graham, he joined in, a little disappointed that things wouldn't work out with Regina now that she had a girlfriend.