A/N: Sorry it's been so long, and sorry this probably isn't exactly the chapter you'd been anticipating. What can I say? Snow is a crotch-blocker.
(Even in fiction.)
This, I Find In You
Chapter 11: Happiness
The bell over the pawn shop door rang out as the two women made their way inside. Regina hung back by the door as Snow crossed to the register, and she bounced on her heels, trying to warm herself. The fact that magic was apparently fine so long as a Charming needed it to break into the Dark One's business rankled her. And furthermore, she quite frankly didn't appreciate being dragged along as Snow White's accomplice on an early morning crime spree.
Especially not when she could be home. With Emma. Keeping warm in… other ways.
She rolled her eyes. It was ridiculous. Honestly, a truce meant nothing to some people.
Snow disappeared further into the shop and Regina trailed after her, dragging a finger along the counter top, frowning at the layer of dust covering almost everything.
"I don't see why this can't wait till later. Apart from that damn fairy, I'm the only villain left in town—"
"—you're not a villain."
"So… unless there's some sense of impending doom that I'm not picking up on, I'm failing to comprehend why there wasn't at least time for coffee. Gold is gone, with good reason, and there's nothing here that…" Regina trailed off and frowned at the silence. "Just don't touch anything that—" she winced at the crash that resounded from the rear of the shop. The idiot was going to get herself killed. Digging around in the Dark One's possessions was never very good for your health. "…and she's not even listening to m. Are you listening to me?"
Snow popped her head back around the corner she'd vanished behind. "I'm looking for something."
"Obviously. Anything in particular?"
A voice floated from the back of the shop, "A way to keep my memory intact."
Regina froze where she stood. "…You make it sound as though you're leaving."
"It's crossed my mind…"
Her frown deepened. "Have you told Emma about this?"
Her hackles rose and she almost snarled at the thought of Emma being left behind once more, especially after witnessing the scars that abandonment had left behind before. She'd be damned if she stood by and let it happen again.
Even if – and she couldn't believe she was thinking it – even if it meant keeping Snow White around.
Shoulder down and back, Regina stalked around the corner, where the other woman was digging through a pile of books.
"Look at me. Where are you going?"
Snow stopped what she was doing, but couldn't quite bring herself to turn around and face her.
"I'm going to go and look for Charming and Red."
Regina's posture eased at the confession, and her eyes softened a little.
"Snow… They're dead—"
"I don't know that!" Snow swung around and cut her off. "I can't accept that. They vanished in a storm of your mother's magic. Not a trace of them to be found – I know, I've looked. Magic is unpredictable here, right? They could be anywhere. Until I see a body I have to believe that they're still alive. I have to."
The room became awfully quite awfully quickly. Regina stared at her own feet.
She may have had her troubles with the Prince and the Wolf, but that didn't mean she couldn't empathize with the pain of loss, even if it was the pain of her oldest enemy. She wasn't a monster.
"Henry told me what happened."
"…What?" Regina locked eyes with Snow.
"The other night. He saw the whole thing. How you saved Emma." she shrugged. "If I didn't know better, I'd say you were losing your touch."
Regina scowled. "My touch is perfectly fine."
"I never said it wasn't." Snow smiled sweetly. "…But only because I know better."
"And what's that supposed to mean?"
"What it means is that I'm the only person alive that knows what you look like when you're in love and, well… I never thought I'd see it again."
Regina bristled silently. Snow White had her pegged but as much as she hated being in that position, she wasn't going to waste her breath with a pointless denial.
"You do make her happy, Regina. I think she could make you happy too."
She closed her eyes, reeling.
It was, what? Only everything she'd ever wanted. And her old nemesis just dangled in under her nose like it was nothing at all.
"Look – I am tired of everyone hurting! I know I messed up everything the first time, but I don't want to do that. Not again. Not to you. You lost the one you loved most because of me… Now I entrust you with the one that I love most."
The message in her eyes was unmistakable.
Look after her. Please.
Regina nodded. "Okay. And you're going to talk to Emma."
Regina followed Snow back into the apartment.
"…I don't know why that's so unbelievable. I mean, I'm no Dark One, but if I hadn't been so focused on bringing you, Emma – and inadvertently, my mother – back from that godforsaken place, right now you'd be in Hawaii, having the time of your life, instead of breaking and entering in small town Maine."
Snow hung her scarf up on the hook behind the door. "It's not that I doubt your skills…"
"…It's just that everyone assumes that a man is the one for the job. Honestly, Snow."
Snow ignored Regina's eye roll and sat next to Emma on the bed, lifting a hand to brush the hair away from her eyes.
"Good morning, sweetheart. You're looking much better."
Emma took a sip from her cocoa and smiled, raising an eyebrow. "…Sweetheart."
"Mom." Her smile faltered at the awkward silence that ensued. "…Regina?"
Regina softly smiled her reassurance to Emma. They would have their conversation later.
A/N: Okay, so it's just occurred to me that I had this whole sub-plot thing about why Rumple did what he did, and I haven't been able to include it. God, this whole editing thing is a bitch - you come up with something really cool and logical then you have to cut the whole thing out.
[So, basically when Rumple took Emma and Henry to New York they visited a cancer clinic, and while Emma took Henry for pizza, Rumple visited a patient in palliative care. The patient was his son - I don't know or care if it was Neal or not - and Rumple returned to use the candle to heal him, and then cleared out of town once more, this time for good. I don't know whether or not he took Belle with him. Make your own decisions, based on your own pre-existing shipping patterns. Rumbelle, she goes to Manhattan. Red Beauty, she and Red help re-build the town. Whatever.]