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A Sorta Fairytale (1/?)

Fandom: Once Upon A Time
Pairing: Emma/Regina
Rating: K
Word Count: 2,376
Summary: When Henry was six, Emma and Regina divorced. Emma moved to Chicago, while Henry stayed with Regina in Storybrooke. On the eve of Henry’s tenth birthday, Emma knows she has to make things right with her son. And maybe along the way, she can fix her relationship with Regina as well. Swan Queen AU.

Emma never wanted to be an absent parent. She had grown up without parents and always promised herself that she’d be the best mom to Henry that she could be. She never wanted him to have to feel any of the things that she felt when she was younger. She wanted him to have everything, a loving home with a loving family and everything his heart desired. She wanted the perfect life for him.

She wondered if he had the perfect life now. It had been... a long time since she last talked to him. After the break up with Regina, and then the move to Chicago, Emma did her best to try to stay in contact with him, calling him at least once a week to check in. But the longer she stayed in Chicago, the less it seemed that she was needed in Maine. The phone calls stopped altogether sometime last year with Emma telling herself it was better for Henry that way.

She didn’t know how everything happened. The break up with Regina was a blur, even though she knew their downfall started years before it was finalized. Moving to Chicago she rated as one of the biggest mistakes of her life. It killed her, living a thousand miles away from her son and the life she promised to give him when he was born. She knew that not seeing Henry every day would be excruciating, but constantly fighting with Regina right in front of the kid wasn’t doing him any favors either. Emma knew she had to get away and took the first opportunity to do so, telling herself she was doing it for the right reasons.

Her life in Chicago left a lot to be desired. In the nearly four years that she had lived there, she hadn’t tried to become a part of the community. She had lived in the same apartment for three of those years, but still had most of her things in boxes. Even though she had tried to convince herself that it was her new home, when she thought of that word, the only thing she could see was that white house with the long sidewalk leading to the front door that she insisted they paint red, despite Regina’s adamant protests. Even if Emma never lived there again, that was her home. Nothing else could compare.

She wondered what was going on in that house right now. She glanced to the clock, finding it was nearly seven in the evening. Regina and Henry were probably sitting down to dinner. She closed her eyes for just a moment and gave in to fantasy, pretending that she was there with them, complimenting Regina on the perfect dinner that she cooked then listening to Henry talk animatedly about the upcoming science fair. But the moment passed and Emma opened her eyes again, shaking her head. /You did this to yourself,/ she reminded herself. /You did this./

It was entirely her fault. The break up wasn’t; it was a joint effort between her and Regina, but the move to Chicago was her own brilliant idea. She could still see the look on Regina’s face when she told her ex that she was moving, a look somewhere in between shock and disdain. Regina had been furious with her, saying that she was abandoning Henry, shirking her parental duties. Emma refused to see it that way, even though she agreed with Regina now. She did abandon Henry, in almost the same way that her parents had abandoned her.

His birthday was tomorrow. Her little boy was turning ten. She hadn’t seen him since he was seven on her one and only trip back to Maine since the move to Chicago. For just a moment, she wondered if he even remembered what she looked like. She felt a stabbing pain in her chest. But it’s Henry, she reminded herself, the smartest kid she’s ever known. He wouldn’t let himself forget her. That thought didn’t give her much comfort though either.

Glancing at the sun that was slowly setting in her rear-view mirror, she promised herself that tomorrow was going to be different. She was going to start fixing everything that she’d broken. No matter what, she was going to make things right with her son, and maybe, she could start to fix things with Regina as well. She didn’t ever expect them to be as close as they used to be, but she hoped they could at least try to be friends, if only for Henry’s sake.

The thoughts of Regina made her chest ache. She ignored it, pretending that it was only a longing for the familiar instead of for a very particular brunette. She hadn’t been in a relationship since Regina. She was so busy with her work that relationships were far from her mind. She would resort to the occasional one night stand, but then only to scratch the itch, never for anything more. That was the way that she liked it, she reminded herself. She’s always done better on her own.

But that mentality had hurt the people she cared most about, she reminded herself. It was useful, protecting herself, but it also got her where she was now, alone and full of regret for the pain that she’d caused. She hoped she hadn’t hurt Henry too much. He was an amazingly resilient kid but having one of your parents walk away like she did? That had to have hurt him bad.

She took in a deep breath and let it out slowly, willing herself not to cry. That was why she was doing this, for him, because she had to make everything right with him. It was going to hurt like hell, but she had to do it for her son.

She took in another breath and read the sign as she drove by it. “Welcome to Storybrooke,” she whispered.


Emma stopped short before knocking on the door, pulling her hand away instead. The door that used to be a cherry red now was snow white, a reminder of all of the things that had changed since the last time she had been in Storybrooke. She knew she should have called first, to give Henry, and more importantly Regina, some kind of warning. But ever since the idea to come back had popped into her head, she never really believed that she would go through with it. She always thought she would wind up chickening out before she ever saw her son.

It took her two hours of driving around the little town before she could bring herself to turn down the street she had been skillfully avoiding. She went through all of the reasons why it was a bad idea to show up unannounced, then all of the reasons why she couldn’t run away again, not this time. As she parked her car on the street in front of the house, she knew that she was doing the right thing, but that didn’t make it easier.

A sound from behind startled her. She turned to see the neighbors across the street getting out of their car. Even though she couldn’t remember who used to live in that house, she knew she’d never seen these people before. After they disappeared into their house, Emma looked around the neighborhood, taking in the details illuminated by the street lights. It was getting pretty late, somewhere around nine o’clock. It was almost late enough to convince her to come back tomorrow, but she knew that if she didn’t do this now, she would never come back.

She turned back to the door, raised her fist to the white wood and knocked. Taking in a deep breath to steady her nerves, she stepped backwards a bit, preparing herself for the brutal reunion that she knew was about to take place with Regina. The door opened. Emma’s heart stopped in her chest.

Regina stood in the doorway, eyes wide in surprise. She was dressed in a dark gray skirt suit, looking every bit as beautiful as Emma remembered. Emma crammed her hands deep into the pockets of her leather jacket, suddenly feeling incredibly intimidated. “Hi.” She said, trying to sound strong, but she knew it didn’t come off that way. Her voice seemed to snap Regina out of her stupor.

“What are you doing here?” She asked coldly.

“I came to see Henry. I wanted to be here for his birthday.”

“Why? You didn’t even bother to call for the last one.” Regina snapped, taking a step forward and closing the door halfway behind her.

She winced at the memory of Henry’s last birthday. “That was a mistake, a big mistake. And I’m sorry-”

“Why should I even let you see him?”

“I’m his mother.” She answered, earning a mirthless laugh from Regina.

“Right. Because a real mother would go over a year without contacting her son.” Regina said softly but bitterly. “Don’t give me that, Miss Swan.”

After the break up, Regina had reverted back to using a more formal version of Emma’s name. It always made Emma cringe internally, as though nothing had ever happened between them. “Regina, please-” She began to beg but froze when she heard Henry’s voice from inside.

“Mom, who’s at the door?” He asked, his voice coming from just inside the foyer. That was when Emma caught sight of her son’s face through the window next to the door. “Mama!” He yelled. A moment later, he pushed past Regina and ran out of the house. Emma bent down and caught him in a hug, picking him up and spinning him around. Once Emma put him back on the ground and looked at him, he asked, “what are you doing here?”

“I came to see you, kiddo. If I remember right, somebody’s birthday is tomorrow.” Emma said with an impish grin, earning a huge smile from Henry. “I thought I’d come surprise you.”

“I’ve missed you.” He said suddenly, sadness creeping into his eyes.

Her heart ached. “I’ve missed you, too, kid. More than you can imagine.” She said and cupped his cheek with her hand. “I love you so much.”

Just like that, the sadness was gone. “I love you, too, mama.” He said and hugged her again. His arms around her neck, she looked up to Regina standing on the porch. Her arms were crossed over her chest protectively, anger burning in her eyes. Emma pulled back and looked to Henry.

“What are your big plans for tomorrow?” She asked.

“We’re having a party at two. Will you come?”

“Of course I’ll come. And I might have a present or two for a special someone.”

“Really?” He asked.


“Henry, that’s enough.” Regina finally said from the porch, earning both Emma and Henry’s attention. “It’s time for bed.”

“But mama just got here.”

“You’ll see her tomorrow, alright? But right now it’s bedtime. Go upstairs and get ready. I’ll be there in a few minutes.” Regina said, her tone softer than the way she spoke with Emma earlier.

Henry turned to look at Emma. “You’ll be here tomorrow at two?”

“I wouldn’t miss it for the world.” She said as Henry’s arms wrapped around her again. “Now, go on, get to bed and your birthday will be here before you know it, ok?”

“Ok.” He said reluctantly. “Night.”

“See you tomorrow.” He smiled wide at her and hugged her again then headed inside, past a still unamused Regina. They both watched him head up the stairs and disappear. Regina turned back to Emma.

“I don’t know what you think you’re doing here, but for Henry’s sake, don’t give him any false expectations that this visit is going to change anything,” she said, the coldness back in her voice.

“What are you talking about?” Emma asked, sticking her hands back into her pockets.

Regina took a step forward, almost towering over Emma. “You haven’t called in over a year. Don’t make him think that this visit from you means that you’re going to be in his life more. You and I both know that you’ll be here a few days and when you go back to wherever it is you came from, you will forget about Henry. Don’t pretend like you’re going to start being more involved in his life, when we both know that you aren’t.”

Emma looked away, surprised at how much pain she felt from the accuracy of Regina’s words. “Look, Regina,” she started, taking in a deep breath, forcing herself to look at her ex-wife again. “I know I’ve made a lot of mistakes. But I’m here now and I want to fix them. I don’t want it to be like this any more. I want to be a part of Henry’s life more than anything, and I know my behavior hasn’t shown that, but I’m going to do better. I’m going to be the parent that he deserves me to be. Starting now, I’m going to be better.”

Regina stared at her for a long moment in silence, eyes void of any emotion. “The party is at two. If you want to take him out to lunch beforehand, be here at noon.”

“Then I’ll be here at noon.” Emma said, a grateful smile on her lips.

“But so help me,” Regina took another step closer, her eyes locked with Emma’s, “if you hurt him again, I will destroy you if it is the last thing I do.”

Emma swallowed hard.

Regina turned and stepped back over the threshold, wrapping her fingers around the doorknob. “See you at noon.” She said over her shoulder and closed the door before Emma had a chance to respond.

Emma took a few steps backward, still looking up at the house. She noticed movement from upstairs. Henry was standing in his bedroom window looking down at her, a smile on his face. She grinned back up at him and waved, earning her a wave back. Holding eye contact with him, she silently promised to never hurt him again. A few moments later he disappeared.

She headed back towards her car, feeling a little shorter than when she first got to the house.