written: June 7, 2012

first posted: June 8, 2012

Thanks go to Beth H for beta reading!

Author's Note: This takes place after the events of season 1 for the series "Once Upon A Time." it contains spoilers about the season's events. So if you haven't seen the season finale, "A World Without Magic" yet, this isn't going to make much sense to you.

Author's Note 2: This story features the characters of Emma Swan and Regina Mills in an explicit same-sex encounter. If this is not your cup of tea, do NOT read. Otherwise, enjoy.

Summary: When Emma visits Regina during her house arrest, the former mayor/queen's loneliness leads to chess... and other things.

Your Move

a Once Upon A Time, Swan Queen story

by LZClotho

Sheriff Emma Swan stepped out of her official vehicle onto the drive of the large white mansion in the exclusive Storybrooke neighborhood. She took off the baseball cap and adjusted her ponytail. With a glance around the immediate area, she confirmed no one else present and locked the vehicle, slipping the keys into the right pocket of her khaki uniform pants. She adjusted the collar of her summer-casual duty shirt, a sky blue oxford with the Sheriff's logo sewn onto the left breast. Before approaching the front door, mindful of her duty to perform, Emma replaced the baseball cap and circled the house to the right, studying the grounds for signs of recent activity. From the side yard the street was no longer visible, hidden by meticulously kept trellises of flowering vines. The same worked in reverse, granting the home's resident a much-needed privacy. Emma noted that a folding deck chair had been brought to the small cobblestone covered space along with a plastic table on which rested a paperback book, opened facedown to preserve the page. She wondered why Regina would have left the book outside.

Rounding the far corner of the house, Emma had her answer. Regina Mills, former mayor of Storybrooke, Maine, knelt in her flower garden pulling weeds. Her feet were tucked under her thighs out of sight. She wore denim shorts which took Emma by surprise. She hadn't thought the woman owned anything in denim. The brunette's head and body were bent toward her task. Hands encased in gardener's gloves moved among the flowering plants uprooting the invaders. She wore a wide brim hat to guard against the sun and big-lensed sunglasses that obscured a great deal of her face. A water bottle with a flip-top cap rested in the grass alongside her right thigh. Emma approached quietly, continuing to examine the bent head as she neared. The woman wore a sleeveless top in navy blue, showing off the suntanned and muscled shoulders which were the result of her outdoor work. Emma noted the top of the joint was beginning to pinken; Regina had been outside too long.

She announced herself with a cool, "Regina."

The woman on her knees startled. Emma realized why when her head turned and she saw the buds and wires of a set of headphones tracing down the front of her body to a music player in leather pocket clipped onto her waistband. Regina stumbled to her feet, stripping off her gloves. She winced though glancing toward her own feet. Glancing downward as well, Emma could now see the woman's feet were bare, long and elegant with narrow toes. Compared to the delicate bone structure, the bulky court-ordered black and silver electronic bracelet looked out of place encircling her left ankle. Emma reached out a hand and steadied Regina as the woman removed her earbuds.


Emma let go. Regina bent over and picked up her water bottle. "Let's get this over with."

With Emma following, Regina gathered her book from the side yard and then went into the house through the nearby kitchen entrance. Removing her hat, she placed it on a coat hook behind the door, lightly fluffing her shoulder length hair, which was a little longer than the mayor's usual cut, Emma noticed. Apparently satisfied she was as composed as she could be, Regina spoke again, this time with her back to Emma, facing the kitchen sink, hands on the stainless steel edge. "May I get you something to drink, Sheriff?"

Always polite. Stiff. Formal. Emma saw it now for what it was. A cover. For fear. Frustration. Sadness.

Grimacing, Emma pondered her response. She usually declined Regina's hospitality, never forgetting the apple turnover. But Emma never quite knew what to say to the woman on her weekly check-ins. She had a report to write and usually spent about half an hour questioning Regina on her activities. Beyond that, they spoke little. This was only the end of the first month. though. If it wasn't going to drive her crazy, Emma thought, she might try to find other things to talk about with Regina to make it more bearable.

She didn't want to fight. She knew though that most of the time she and Regina crossed paths in her first year in Storybrooke that's all they'd done. Especially when it came to Henry. The realization gave her pause. The few exceptions had also been about Henry. Would Regina welcome news of her son's activities, or would it cause animosity? Emma decided the gamble was at least worth one shot. "Yes, thank you. I don't have to be back out on patrol right away."

Regina turned. Her brown eyes captivated Emma suddenly, wide and open. Her lips quivered before she spoke. "I... You would?"

"Yes." Emma tried a faint smile. Regina's was just as tentative in response.

Regina opened her refrigerator. She reached in and pulled out a decanter. The amber liquid in it was barely a finger-width high. Emma saw Regina swallow. "Well, I can get another bottle." She went to a small door set in the wall beside the entrance to the kitchen. Emma saw when it was opened that it was an inset wine rack. One lone bottle was visible. Regina withdrew it slowly. She dusted off the label and pursed her lips.

Regina gripped the neck and exhaled. She looked at Emma then quickly away, rummaging in a nearby drawer. "What is it?" Emma asked.

"My last bottle."

"Don't open that," Emma protested. "Save it for a special occasion."

Regina's expression was impossible to read for a moment. Emma thought it would've been perfect for a snappish comeback like "What special occasions?" But the woman declined the opening and instead looked to be thinking of something else. "The study," Regina suddenly murmured and immediately started out of the kitchen. Emma followed.

The house was as impressive as always, Emma thought as they moved down the corridor, spotless in its black and white motif, though she did notice that the large front foyer mirror was gone before Regina gestured for Emma to enter first. Emma recalled the room from their very first meeting. Regina went to the small table with a decanter and three short cut crystal glasses. The decanter appeared to be slightly less than half full. Regina poured two half-glasses, passing one to Emma as she stepped forward.

Emma watched Regina drink first, the fingers of the woman's hands playing over the surface of the crystal. "It's safe, Sheriff," Regina said, taking the glass away from her lips. Emma noted the way Regina's lips shone from the moisture of the drink as she lifted her own glass to her lips and sipped. It really was the best apple cider she'd ever tasted.

Regina started to settle to the sofa then paused looking down at her knees still slightly dirty. Setting down her glass on the low table between them, she brushed at her knees and then swept her hands behind her back and down over her rear and thighs before sitting. Emma settled to the other couch, continuing to sip and watch her hostess/charge over the rim of the glass. Regina continued to present an anxious aspect even as she picked up her glass and attempted to hide it behind the rim of her glass.

"Regina," Emma asked abruptly. "Are you all right?"

Regina's brow furrowed, then cleared abruptly to neutral. "Of course, Sheriff. I've been very busy."

"No, I... Do you get many visitors?"

"Yes." Emma saw the way she ducked her gaze away before returning it to Emma's face and that told a different story. Emma canted her head. Regina remained stubbornly silent for a long time as her gaze discerned the lie. Regina exhaled. "No one has visited since you checked on me last Sunday, Sheriff."

"You had a few in the first few days, if I recall."

"Yes," Regina replied. "They've got better things to do now."

"The fairies haven't figured out a way to get everyone back yet," Emma said.

"I see." Regina's tone was strangled, a mix between curiosity and disdain. Emma continued to pursue the topic.

"Perhaps I should bring someone to discuss the situation with you next week." Regina's expression quickly shifted to alarm. Emma waited.

"I won't have anything to say to them."

"Because you won't tell them... or because you don't know?" Emma asked.

Regina pursed her lips again, but then her shoulders drooped. "I don't know."


"I don't! OK? I don't know how to fix this. The curse broke. I saw you do it! As far as I know we were supposed to all be whisked right back! I thought that was what the cloud would do, but it didn't. Instead it brings magic here! And I can't access any part of it, but Rumple's dancing all over town, and the fairies, damn them, have been all over this place with their stinking dust!"

Emma watched Regina heave herself to her feet and pace through the small confined space, a sleek panther trapped in a cage. "Regina, it's-"

Abruptly Regina spun toward her and cut her off. "Ask your questions and leave me alone!"

Emma shot to her feet. "I'm trying here, Regina."

"Trying what?" Regina snapped.

Emma put up her hands, palms out. "To make this easier."

"If it's so hard, why do you keep coming here?"

"It's my job."

"Assign a deputy to do it. You have no shortage of them now. Half of Snow White's guards no doubt would jump at the chance."

"Jump at the chance to murder you, you mean. Regina, I swore we'd handle this with the laws of this world. Not the other one. I am sworn to protect you to the best of my ability." Emma gestured. "Now, have a seat."

Regina resettled herself onto the couch. She did not relax back into the cushions, however, looking alertly at Emma instead. "All right. Starting at the top. No, I have had no visitors this week. The in-house security cameras now linked to the sheriff's office can confirm that. I had to chase a stray cat from the yard trying to eat my daylilies. I ordered two bags of groceries from the market, which were delivered on Wednesday. I mailed one letter yesterday."

That was new. Emma asked, "To whom?"

Regina looked like she wouldn't say but then shrugged. "You'll know soon enough I suppose. I wrote to Henry."

Emma nodded. It probably would be in Monday's mail delivery. "Henry's doing all right," Emma offered. "School's out at the moment as you know, and he spends a lot of time out at the playground you had built for him and the other kids."

Regina couldn't hold back her curiosity. "Does he -?" Emma's head shake stopped the question.

Emma let her have her quiet thoughts for a moment. "What's on your agenda for the coming week?"

Fingering her hair, Regina asked, "Is there some way I can get a haircut?"

Emma dipped her head in acknowledgment. "I'll work out the logistics and call you. How about Wednesday?"

"Thank you."

"Anything else?"

"I get the newspaper every day, but the puzzles are getting tiresome."

"I can't get you internet access," Emma stated.

"No, I..." Regina trailed off. "I just need... mental stimulation."

"Kind of tough just having a conversation with yourself."

"I saw this chess commentary in the paper. They run a mail game service, pairing up people. It would mean approving another pen pal. Probably outside Storybrooke since I'm not likely to find someone here in town willing to correspond with me."

"I play," Emma said.

Regina frowned. "Are you volunteering to be my pen pal, Sheriff?"

"No. How..." Emma trailed off. "I can't lengthen these visits all the time, but... I have Tuesdays off. What if... that became game night... or... something?" Emma quirked her lips in a smile, realizing even as she said it how awkward it all sounded - and probably would be. Regina would never go for it. "N-" She shook her head.

Abruptly Regina cut in. "I accept."

Emma's gaze found Regina's. Both women froze in place. Slowly Emma offered a smile.

Regina oh so slowly returned it.

"I'll bring a board on Tuesday," Emma said.

"I have one here." Regina walked to a wall cabinet. Opening it she withdrew a hand-carved wooden box just large enough to house a chessboard and pieces, Emma thought.

When Regina brought it to the table between them and set it down, Emma reached out and traced her fingers over the intricate carving of a castle with figures representing all the chess pieces scattered like a melee fight in the foreground. Armored knights on horseback, priest and priestess in long robes hands lifting staffs, helmeted soldiers with short swords, a queen in veil and slender dress, her crown mere filigree upon her long hair, her handsome king standing tall in boots, a sword slung at his waist, his own crown encrusted with jewels.

"This is gorgeous, Regina. Where did you get it?"

"My... father... gave it to me when I was ten summers old." Regina had reverted to the time measures of youth rather than speak of it in years as this world would. Emma looked up as Regina's hands came between her own and lifted away the wooden box cover. "He... He taught me how to play." There was a soft light of joy mixed with sadness that had been evident in the brunette's tone.

The pieces inside were as ornately carved as the care given to the cover image. The white pieces were off-white marble, the veins a shadowy blue, dancing through the surface like lightning. The black pieces were ebony marble, but so uniformly inky black it should've been impossible to discern the detail, but the carving again was superior to anything Emma had ever seen. Somehow each seemed even more detailed than its counterpart white piece. She'd never seen black marble so flawless. Regina lifted out the board, which also looked to be marble. It had alternating ebony and white square spaces, with finely carved lines separating one from the next, for the playing field. The four edges beyond the playing field was marbled black and white, the colors gnarled around one another like vines competing for the board's space. It all looked to be a single piece of marble. The workmanship was, in a word, breathtaking.

Emma lifted one of each color piece in each hand. "Black or white?" she asked.

Regina took the black piece, a priestess, from Emma's right hand. "You are the guest," Regina said. "So you go first."

"White always goes first," Emma pointed out.

"Good to know I won't have to teach you the game, Sheriff."

Emma placed her pieces on her side of the board as Regina did the same across the table. The woman was leaning forward eagerly, elbows on her knees, even after she had finished arranging her pieces. Emma studied the woman's face as she moved her king's pawn two spaces forward.

Regina glanced up at Emma, brown eyes revealing golden swirls and a quirk of the lips that was very close to the former mayor's all-too-familiar smirk. She nodded though and moved her king's pawn also two spaces forward. "A standard opening. I certainly hope, Miss Swan, that your gamesmanship becomes more imaginative as we proceed."

"We'll see," Emma replied noncommittally. She studied the board, considering all the potential moves, several layers of possible responses by Regina, and finally made her selection. She released the piece and glanced up to see Regina already studying the board, her right hand reaching toward it, her left arm crossed over her knees. The way she leaned forward, Emma realized she could see directly down the small gap at the top of the woman's blouse. Emma looked away, her gaze instead falling on the side of Regina's throat, where the glitter of a tiny diamond stud glinted from behind locks of dark hair. She found her tongue tip darting out over her lips.

There was a tap on the table. Emma noticed it was Regina's fingernail and met Regina's eyes with a shrug. Quickly she glanced at the board configuration and straightened her back, rubbing her hands on her knees as she contemplated her options. She reached for her glass, appreciating the cool liquid sliding down her throat. As she was about to swallow the rest, she recalled it was the last of Regina's supply and put the glass down without finishing it right away. Better make it last.

She wiped the moisture from her fingertips on her pant leg before reaching for her queen side bishop, well, priestess. She lifted it and studied the intricately carved face. "I've never seen anything so... perfect," Emma commented.

"Thank you."

Emma placed the figure back on the board where it had been and considered the board again. Finally she made her move.

Regina cupped her chin in contemplation. A faint light danced in her eyes as she selected the queen's knight, sweeping one of Emma's pawns from the board. The move threatened Emma's priest. She considered retrenching, but the reversal might leave her castle exposed to Regina's priestess. Hmmm.

Finally selecting a partial cover action that drew attention to another part of the board, Emma sat back. Regina once again bent close over the board. Emma studied the top of the bent head. The machinations of the woman's mind absolutely fascinated Emma. She was certain, Storybrooke Mayor, Evil Queen, or chess opponent, Regina Mills never stopped calculating all the potential actions and their outcomes.

"So how come you...?" Emma shook her head and trailed off, finished her current move and swept one of Regina's pawns from the board. "Never mind."

Regina looked up at her, her expression one of confusion. "What?"

"Nothing. I apologize. Didn't mean to distract you." Emma gestured back to the board.

Regina shrugged, squared her shoulders and made her move. Emma nodded as she watched Regina nudge the black queen forward one space.

Emma countered with a move by her white knight. She considered, if Regina didn't come up with something soon, it would be her game in another five, or perhaps six, moves.

Three plays later, Emma was down two more pawns and a castle and stared at the board in disbelief. Where had that come from? She leaned forward, forearms resting on her knees, hands dangling loosely, but her mind tightly focused. Finally she saw the endgame materialize once again and took Regina's knight with her priestess.

After a while of listening to the quiet breathing, the occasional tap of marble against marble as pieces moved around the board, the ticking of the clock on the mantle, and drifting quietly in the apple scent that permeated the room, Emma broke the silence. "You play excellently. I haven't seen Henry play." She moved a pawn.

"Henry doesn't-" Regina cut herself off and made what Emma realized was an unconsidered move on the chessboard. She didn't immediately take advantage, more intrigued by what had overset Regina's thoughts.

"I don't... know if Henry plays chess. I did teach him checkers when he was five," Regina amended, "but I... didn't get a chance to teach him chess." Regina bent over the board, resting her chin on her palm. Emma knew that avoidance tactic. It wasn't about contemplating her move, it was about hiding her face from Emma.

Sincerely, Emma said, "I'm sorry."

Regina reared up, her eyes dark and pained, her throat flushed. "Are you?" There was a mix of venom and pain in her tone.

Emma sat back from the board. "Yes, Regina, I am."

Regina bit her lip. "Will you tell me what he says about my letter?"

Letter? Oh, right. Emma licked her lip, remembering the beginning of their conversation, well, the interview she was required to conduct as part of the house arrest monitoring. She inclined her head. "I will."

Looking at the board as the sheriff moved a piece, Regina realized she had not been paying attention and the board configuration momentarily stymied her. She canted her eyes upward, trying not to move her head, so Emma Swan wouldn't notice. She still hadn't figured out why the blonde woman had agreed to play with her. Being around Regina obviously made the woman uncomfortable. Regina had caught the woman fidgeting, buffing her palms on her pants, swallowing hard, licking her lips... Regina's eyes widened momentarily as she considered the symptoms. Ridiculous! Regina shook her head to clear the thought and doubled down on her concentration.

Emma Swan was probably the best chess player Regina had played in... as long as she could remember. She'd begun beating her father at the game by the time she was twelve. Their games ended when she went to Leopold's court. Even when he visited, he said it was inappropriate for him to keep her away from her family for so many hours and would only rarely give her a game. Her family! That was a laugh. Leopold and Snow had never been her family. Regina twisted her lip in a sneer and played an aggressive move, taking the white priest off the board with a hard push from her black priestess. The piece went airborne. Emma's hand snapped out at the same time as Regina's to recapture it. Regina's hand closed first; Emma's fingers cupped the back of Regina's.

Regina's thundering heart skidded to a halt as her gaze snapped up to Emma's.

"I've got you in two moves if you do that," Emma said quietly.

Breathing hard, Regina fought down her heart rate. It was deplorable to lose control like that, she thought. Backing up, Regina placed the piece back on the board. Rubbing her hands on her shorts, she heard the clock in the hall chime a half hour. She had no idea which one. She felt like she'd been running a marathon. Every day for the last month. She squared her shoulders and brushed her fingertips into her hair line as she leaned forward again over the board.

"We don't have to finish," Emma said.

"Didn't you know? Once started, always finish," Regina quoted.

Emma asked, "Who said that?"

Her mother had actually, but Regina resolutely ignored that. "I don't know," she said. "But it's important to me to see things through."

Emma nodded. "I can see that about you. To the bitter end."

"You see me as pitiable then?"

"Aren't you?" Regina responded with her best glare. Emma conceded. "OK. Maybe not pitiable, but this certainly isn't how you planned it."

"You're right. It's not." They traded moves, each losing a pawn.

"How many of the last 28 years have been happy, Regina?"


"This. All this was about getting your happy ending, right? How many of the last 28 years have been happy?"

Regina didn't have to pause and think. "Henry."

Emma nodded. "Yes. But he's only been here the last ten years." Emma canted her head to the side. "What about the rest of it?"

Regina didn't answer. Instead she moved her castle in close to Emma's fortifications. Time to end this, she thought, eying Emma's king. Regina leaned back, her gaze locked on Emma's hazel-green still searching her face, still wanting an answer. "What are you getting at?"

"You." Glancing away from Regina's face, Emma looked over the board and moved her remaining knight. Regina saw with alarm that the black queen was in her palm, almost out of sight as Emma's fingers closed around it. "White Knight takes Black Queen." Emma's gaze returned to Regina's face. Regina heard the soft thunk as Emma tipped over the black king. "Checkmate."

Rising to her feet, Emma pulled Regina up with her. Black queen still caught in her grasp, she brushed her fingertips through Regina's hair caressing her temple. The shiver started there and rolled down Regina's spine to lodge deep in her belly; she felt Emma's buckle press into her. Her knees shook. Emma's other arm was suddenly around Regina's waist, holding her up firmly against her. Her fingers slipped from Regina's hair to her cheek.

A slight pressure and Regina turned her head. Emma's eyes, the green flecked with gold, filled her field of vision. Then their lips were pressed together. Regina had never felt anything like it. The warmth of them made her own temperature rise. The softness of them moving over hers made her think of downy duckling feathers which she used to enjoy burying herself in in the barn as a child. Remembering that achingly distant more innocent time, Regina closed her eyes to prevent the fall of tears which burned behind them.

Emma's lips moved to her cheek and Regina gasped aloud. Dimly she heard another thunk and then both of Emma's hands were in her hair, fingers threading through, cupping the back of her head, lips trailing kisses over her cheeks, then closed eyes, and finally her forehead. Regina pushed her face into Emma's shoulder. The tears were hard, wracking sobs. She clutched Emma like she was the child and Emma the Savior she'd wished would rescue her all her life.

She let herself be guided to the couch, laid gently back, the cradle of her pelvis taking Emma above her. Lips returned to hers. Fingers slipped from her face to her chest; an errant thumb awakening the hidden flesh. And then, Emma's fingers warmed against the skin of her belly.

Languidly they traded kisses. Emma pulled back to look into Regina's eyes; Regina lifted up and recaptured the luscious mouth. She pulled out the ponytail from Emma's hair, and finger-combed the tresses until they were curling softly around Emma's shoulders and face. She nipped at Emma's bottom lip. Emma nipped back.

Regina shifted; Emma's knee slipped to the floor. Their pelvises ground together. Regina pushed up to her elbows, reaching for the buttons of Emma's shirt. Emma had tugged up Regina's top, not quite baring her bra-covered breasts. Momentarily they were both stymied, arms and hands in the way of the flesh they wished to reach.

"Regina!" Emma blurted, passion making her rasp. She plundered Regina's mouth, capturing her tongue. Emma pushed searching hands away from her chest and threw off her own shirt. Regina returned her hands to Emma's bare chest, capturing the small warm mounds of flesh in her palms, abrading the dusky nipples with her thumbs, and then grasping them between thumbs and forefingers. Emma moaned into her mouth and Regina took the sound in with reverent murmurs, as though it were fealty.

Emma's hands returned to Regina's abdomen, tracing the musculature there and making it quiver. They separated and Emma tugged the top over Regina's head, revealing her nakedness to the green gaze shining with hunger.

Regina was proud of her body, but it had been a long time since anyone had seen her, really seen her, this exposed. Graham didn't count. While she'd found pleasure in his arms, there had always been an emptiness to their coupling. Now, as Emma's gaze touched her nakedness for the first time, Regina knew bone-deep that this would count. Emma slowed her touches, fingertips barely skimming the curve of her breasts, the swell of her belly. Her gaze followed her fingers on Regina's skin and Regina felt it prickle in sensation as though her eyes were another touch.

Regina swallowed. "Emma?"

Looking up, Emma answered the unaskable question, "Yes, Regina." Regina heard the claim in it. She smiled, just a bare curve of her lips, but it felt so good. Emma dipped her head down until their foreheads met.

Regina's fingers slipped up through Emma's loose curls. Their lips came together in supplication. Regina slipped her hands around Emma's back, mapping the muscles as she moved. Up, she unclasped the tiny catches of bra, pushing the fabric away from the skin toward Emma's shoulder blades. Down, she met the barrier of Emma's waistband and belt. Skimming over the khaki fabric, she squeezed twin ass cheeks with her palms and made her desire explicitly known.

As Emma sat up, with one arm she lifted Regina with her, keeping their upper bodies warmly pressed together. She unpinned Regina's bra, alternating kisses down her shoulders as she slipped the straps down her arms and finally flung the undergarment out of reach. Regina cupped Emma's head to her chest as she submitted gladly to Emma's attentions, kissing the blonde curls into which she pressed her face, gasping her pleasure.

As Emma's hands drifted down her back and her mouth drifted between Regina's breasts, Regina brought her hands to Emma's shoulders and squeezed lightly. "Let me," she murmured. "Please, let me."

She fell into Emma's gaze when the woman lifted her head. The pupils were wide, the effect of her arousal making the green almost vanish. Regina reached for Emma's buckle, slipping the belt open and then releasing the button and zipper before returning to the bare skin of Emma's hips and pushing the pants down ahead of her caresses. Regina leaned forward with the motion and skimmed her lips across Emma's chest, circling first one breast inward to the nipple before moving to the other. The pants dropped to Emma's knees and she leaned back as Emma stood, removing them. They jangled with keys and other contents in the pockets as Emma laid them over the arm of the sofa.

Regina slid out of her denim shorts before Emma could help. But before they could be cast away, Emma's hand caught hers with the shorts in them. "I don't think I have ever seen you wear denim," she said, her throaty voice clearly demonstrating the grip arousal had on her. "It looks good."

The denim dropping from her hand, Regina rose to her knees, meeting Emma in the center of the couch. Each woman cupped the other's cheeks as they kissed, now both naked save for dainty bits of underwear: Regina's silk, Emma's cotton.

Emma sat down on the couch, pulling Regina into her lap. They were of a similar size, but the way Emma cradled Regina's back, lifting a breast to kiss made Regina feel delicate and fragile, cherished. Regina buried her face in Emma's hair, mindlessly clasping and unclasping her arms, trying to contain herself and yet restless to explode all at the same time. "Oh, please, please," she murmured over and over again. The sensations of Emma's mouth on her breast only intensified the tightness in her groin, until her hips surged upward, seeking the firm press of another. Emma's hand cupped Regina's center: The heel rubbed just above, and the fingers slipped beneath the fabric just below.

Regina gasped at the first press of two fingers; the heel of Emma's hand pressed down, the fingers curled inward more deeply. Regina felt her walls shake, fluttering, and then utterly collapsed under the onslaught of a shockwave thoroughly overwhelming her. She cried out, Emma's mouth trailing up from her breast to capture the sound. Those marvelous fingers continued to stroke and curl. Regina surged again in Emma's hands, an unbroken filly straining at the hold of a master horsewoman. Gradually the throbbing eased to a pleasurable ache, as muscles used far too infrequently pulsed with resurgent blood flow. Her heart beat with a strength that shook her entire frame. Emma wrapped her arms around her, and Regina clung on, fingers splayed across Emma's shoulders, squeezing as she reassured herself of the reality of this moment.

Emma palmed her cheek with a tiny bit of pressure, encouraging Regina to lift her head. When she did, Emma lightly traced the curve of her facial bones with her fingertips. "You're almost impossibly beautiful," Emma said, her voice low, reverential. "Your skin is flawless, except for this tiny scar here." Her fingertip brushed above the right side of Regina's lip. Regina kissed it as it passed. "Over the last year, sometimes I'd look at you, and I'd forget what I was doing, or why I was doing it, because looking at you simply took my breath away."

Regina lifted her own hand to cup Emma's cheek, slipping her fingertips across the shapely brow and down the strong nose. "Henry looks so much like you," she said. "You'd turn, or scowl, or smile at something he said. It always reminded me he was yours." Her voice laced with both the love and the pain that always brought. But she lifted Emma's chin now, pressing her lips against Emma's with a smile. "Thank you."

Her hand drifted across Emma's chest as they continued to kiss. When she skimmed a nipple, Emma's body jumped underneath her, reminding her that Emma was still unsatisfied. She was more patient than most of Regina's previous lovers would have been. But then again, until Graham, most were out for their own pleasure, not hers. Her frown must have shown because Emma kissed her cheek asking softly, "Something wrong?"

Regina shook her head and instead cupped Emma's head, bringing their lips together again. "I'm just going to show you how much I mean that." She straddled Emma's hips, using her superior position to drag her body and lips along the woman's entire length, sliding their calves and thighs together, intertwining them as she kissed down Emma's chest, latching first onto one nipple then the other, mapping her torso from sternum to belly button with her lips just skimming the undulating surface. Emma's hands were strong on her shoulders; Regina briefly wondered if this was something she shouldn't do.

But then she took in the faint marks that remained from Emma's pregnancy, the stretch marks that had been left by her son as he grew inside her. And she kissed them, every one. The hands on her shoulders softened, the hips under her chest surged. She stroked Emma's sides like she was gentling one of her father's horses, murmuring softly.

She kissed the honey-colored hair at Emma's sex, stroking her fingers over and through it. Parting it she found Emma's clit swollen, her labia soaked with her need. Regina settled her upper arms across Emma's thighs, using fingers from both hands to stroke and slowly coax open her legs and nuzzled into the heat. Emma's gasps and cries guided Regina's fingers and tongue until the pleasure could be contained no longer and Emma's core convulsed around Regina's fingers, and her chin and throat were soaked with Emma's fluids.

Emma's hand drifted into her hair as she continued to come down from her peak. Regina captured the hand and brought it between her lips and Emma's stomach, alternately kissing the knuckles and fingertips and the soft skin of Emma's belly, feeling the quivering aftershocks of Emma's orgasm. Emma coaxed her back up to settle in her lap; Regina sought out her mouth and Emma tasted herself on Regina's lips.

Regina felt Emma's one hand on her back stroking contentedly and clasped the other between her two palms, fascinated by it. She kissed the palm and Emma's fingers curled around stroking her cheeks. She studied the lifeline in the palm, recalling her palmistry lessons as she traced the creases that bespoke the blonde's destiny. Emma's hands were strongly defined with the tendons and sinew, the nails blunt and rounded but a touch of feminine vanity had them buffed to a natural shine. Emma's other hand continued to make soothing circles on Regina's back and she felt herself slowly going boneless, resting more fully against Emma.

"Do you remember touching my back at the mine when Henry and Archie were trapped?" she asked quietly. She looked up across the arch of Emma's shoulder to meet Emma's gaze. "Do you?"

"Yeah, I think so."

"I never forgot that touch. I think it was the first time someone touched me in care... since..." Regina exhaled. "Since Daniel."

Emma withdrew her hand from Regina's and brushed hair from Regina's brow. "Daniel?"

"When I was still my father's daughter, my mother's disgrace, Daniel... Daniel was the man I loved," Regina said softly. "My true love."

"But I thought you were Snow White's stepmother, King Leopold's wife?"

Regina nodded. "Daniel... was killed."

"I'm sorry, Regina." And Regina could see she really was as the green of her eyes flickered with gold like dust dancing on the wind in a field. Regina rose, fetching a blanket from the other sofa. She repositioned herself, wrapping her arms around Emma's shoulders as Emma's arms encircled her waist. Then she arranged the blanket over their nude forms, laid her head on Emma's shoulder, kissed the space where throat and shoulder met, and closed her eyes in her first real sleep in weeks.