Note: Thanks for your patience on this chapter! I'm sorry to say that it's Elena/Regina-lite, but I'm happy to say it's the last one of its kind that I have planned. In trade a generous helping of Ruby and Belle and I'm getting kind of attached to them. Fair warning: I'm not writing Belle like she's written in the show. Period. It occurs to me that Ruby's relationship with Emma is also a little bit more developed than the show depicts; but I think the potential is there. If the OOCness makes you crazy, I apologize and hope you'll bear with me or tell me how to make it better. I'm easy. Don't let that get around okay?


Emma and Henry had just gotten up and going the next morning when a knock on their door shattered the comfortable quiet in their apartment. Emma stepped out of the bathroom holding a curling iron with a section of hair wound tightly around it.

"You wanna get that, it's probably Mary Margaret and David," She told Henry, who had already set his book down on the coffee table and hopped off the couch. Emma stood in the doorway long enough for him to check the peephole and let her know her assumption had been correct.

"I'll be right out," she promised, slipping back into the bathroom to finish up as Henry slid the heavy duty lock and deadbolt out of place.

"Good morning Henry," she heard Mary Margaret's cautiously cheerful voice ring out through the apartment and the rustling sounds of her parents entering and shucking coats and scarves. She made quick work of finishing up her trademark loose ringlets and unplugged the curling iron before exiting the bathroom, not bothering to change from her sweats and raglan since Henry was still in his pajamas as well.

"Hi guys," she said as she rounded the kitchen island to where they were setting food out on the table.

"Hi!" Mary Margaret said brightly.

"We stopped by Granny's but since you weren't there yet we thought we'd bring brunch to you," David explained as he pulled three large coffees and a hot chocolate from a drink carrier and Mary Margaret started opening styrofoam boxes filled with eggs, hash browns, bacon and scones.

"Thanks," she said, forcing sincerity into her voice though she hated the way they were tiptoeing around like if they made any sudden moves it would set either her or Henry off. As much as she'd dreaded the imminent conversation she decided having it in the privacy of the apartment was better anyway. "Grab some plates, will ya kid?"

Henry quickly did just that while Emma pulled silverware from the drawers and ketchup and Tobasco from the fridge because Snow had neglected to bring some from the diner.

"This looks great guys," Emma said awkwardly once everything was arranged on the table.

Henry was the first to break the uncomfortable tension by digging into the food, piling eggs and hash browns on his plate and smothering ketchup on both with gusto.

"Can I get the juice?" He shuddered after an ill-advised hot chocolate chaser to his first bite. Emma laughed at his expression and nodded.

"Sorry, I didn't really think the drinks through," Mary Margaret apologized as Henry scampered to the kitchen and back.

"Apparently he didn't either." Emma smirked at Henry who stuck his tongue out at her as reclaimed his chair.

For a few minutes they all enjoyed their breakfast in comfortable silence, the tension only returned when their plates were cleared and there was nothing left to do but talk.

Henry pushed his plate away and folded his hands in front of him, looking expectantly at his grandparents, like a CEO waiting for a meeting to start and Emma had to hide a grin with her coffee cup.

Ever the intuit, Mary Margaret was the first to clue into what the boy was waiting for and she reached across the table to take his hand in hers.

"Henry, we want you to know we're very sorry for what happened yesterday and for not telling you both about the beans earlier. It's going to be a while before everything is ready for us to try and go back to our world, but when it is we're going to make sure that no one is going to be left behind; no one will be left here alone. Especially your…your mother."

Emma waited with her parents while Henry considered the apology and then calmly dropped a grenade on the conversation.

"Even if she's the Evil Queen?" he asked.

Some kids just want to watch the world burn.

"She's an evil queen?" David demanded and Snow jerked her hand away as she looked to Emma for confirmation. The blonde dropped her forehead to her palm and that was enough.

"Subtle kid," Emma muttered.

Henry shrugged and sipped his juice; he couldn't have looked more like Regina or less apologetic if he'd tried.

"When were you planning to mention that Emma?"

"Today," she sighed.

"Why wait? That should have been the first thing you told us yesterday," Mary Margaret complained. "You should have told us weeks ago! How long have you known? And how can an evil queen be Henry's mother?"

"Hey! Remember what I said about you not getting to be judgey about this; that still stands."

"I'm sorry if I'm a little upset that you've been keeping something like this from us. And don't you tell me I don't get to be upset about it. I'm the one who gets to decide what I'm upset about."

"This reaction is exactly why I haven't told you about this yet," Emma lamented.

"She's not an evil queen," Henry added. "She's the Evil Queen."

"Not helping, Henry," Emma told him and proceeded to explain to her parents about the queen who had enacted Rumpelstiltskin's terrible curse and how Regina had been changing for good when Emma and Henry had left for New York and they'd found a whole new world when they'd returned to Storybrooke; everything changed by a blessing.

When she finished silence reigned for a few minutes while her parents processed all the information she'd given them. She could tell Snow was thinking up questions faster than she could decide which to ask first. Henry got the same expression on his face when he was about to burst from the need to know everything. She was surprised when it was David who spoke first.

"So you're telling us, that we found a way to subdue the Evil Queen –the same Evil Queen who is the reason we've all been separated and cursed for the last three decades- without killing her and you want to…undo it?"

"Yes," Emma nodded once and then shook her head. "No."

Henry's head thumped down to the table.

"I mean yes, I want to undo it and no, you didn't "stop the Evil Queen"."

She had to use the air quotes, she did. But she stopped herself from finishing with "blah, blah, blah," and that had to count for something.

"That would be like us letting Rumpelstiltskin out of his cell when we'd finally captured him," David argued.

"Okay, first of all, he wanted you to capture him so that's actually a terrible example. And I –we-" she motioned between her and Henry, "want to reverse it because she's not the Evil Queen anymore."

"You expect us to believe that when you've just finished telling us what she did to you to stop you breaking her curse?" He retorted.

"Yes! I expect you to believe me. I expect you to trust me."

Isn't that what families did for each other? Hadn't she earned that by now?

"Sweetheart," Snow began sympathetically and Emma had to suppress a groan because nothing good ever came from a talk that started with 'Sweetheart'. "It's not that we don't trust you. It's just difficult to reconcile all of this. If the evi-" she stopped herself when Emma and Henry both glared at her- "If Regina did do the things we've been blaming Rumplestiltskin for then I can't imagine how you would think someone can come back from that kind of wickedness."

"And yet you let Rumplestiltskin run free to scheme and plot, but that's okay because he's not directly interfering with your happiness. Is that really your line of morality?"

To her credit, Snow did look uncomfortable at that.

"Well," David pointed out, "Now he's lost his memories and his power too and nobody knows how to bring them back. So in a way he's been punished along with the Evil Queen."

"That was an accident," Emma said disdainfully. "You weren't discussing ways to punish him when he suggested we let an innocent man die in the hospital or when he showed up and threatened to kill all of us if something happened to his girlfriend."

"We don't remember that Emma!" Snow cried.

"Well, how do you remember it then?" Emma snapped. "Because you sure as hell weren't surprised we went looking for his son. You just let us go with the Dark One because he couldn't have been as bad as an Evil Queen?"

"Of course not," Snow retorted. Emma hadn't heard her use that tone since the DA had tricked her in the interrogation room.

"He proposed a deal," David cut in before his wife could get going. "Confessed that everything he'd done was to get his son back and that if you'd help him then he'd bind his powers here and not harm anyone in Storybrooke again."

"And you believed him?" Emma asked incredulously.

"You did. You made the deal. We couldn't stop you."

"The Dark One's powers can't be bound by anything but his dagger," Henry piped up.


"The book says so," he said simply. "Unless you had his dagger nothing would bind him to that deal."

"Rumpelstiltskin always honors his deals," David countered.

"More like he always collects on them," Snow said and for a moment Emma thought they'd won her over.

"Not that it matters, it didn't actually happen that way," she reminded them.

"But you and Henry are the only ones who remember it differently," Snow pointed out. "Is it possible that it's your memories that are changed?"

Emma froze at the words, the hair on the back of her neck rose and every muscle in her body tensed, ready for a fight; a reaction borne of too many years in homes where she had never gotten the benefit of the doubt and her foster parents always had.

"No," she growled. "It's not."

Snow tried to backpedal.

"I didn't mean that we don't believe you," she said. "I just think we need to consider that we all have different versions of events to get straightened out."

"You don't need to patronize me, I knew what you meant."

"It doesn't matter what we remember differently." David looked every bit the king who was used to having his word become law. "The point is you were gone when we decided that this spell was the best solution and you don't trust us to have made the right decision. We're your parents Emma-

"Yeah, well, if parents are just people who get to tell me what to do because they say so then parents are the last thing I need."

The world stopped.

Snow and David looked like they'd been sucker punched. Emma ignored it, all of the discomfort and tension she'd been burying since the curse had broken bubbled to the surface. The part of her that was grateful she'd finally found her parents, the part of her that understood they had always loved her, that they had done their best to protect her the only way they knew how was beaten back by the part of her that had spent more than twenty years searching for people she hated and hoped for in equal measure.

"I've had plenty of parents," she spat. "What I need is a family. Some people who have my back, even when they're not sure I'm right. Are we going to be those people or not?"

Tears filled Snow's eyes and David sat back, dumbstruck.

"I know this is hard for you, and that it would be hard for you even if you could remember Regina. But I am absolutely certain that undoing the blessing is the right thing to do and I don't need your permission to do it. I would like it if you had some faith in me but I guess I don't really need that either."

"We do have faith in you," Snow protested. "I'd just like to think that we wouldn't have done this if we had any other choice, and it worries me that you're putting your faith in the wrong people –the wrong person."

"Maybe I am," Emma admitted and it was Henry's turn to send her a shocked look but she continued. "But I need to know for sure."

"We all owe her another chance," Henry declared, apparently not satisfied with the simplicity of Emma's answer.

"We do," she agreed. "And at the very least, I think we're going to need her help."

"With what?"

"She left me a warning note, saying that she'd helped you put her mother under a sleeping curse but that it's only a matter of time until she finds a way to wake up from it, and if that happens I have no idea how we're going to stop her without Regina or Rumplestiltskin."

Snow and David wore nearly identical confused expressions.

"She's going to wake herself up from a sleeping curse? Is that even possible?"

"Regina thinks so. She's a pretty powerful witch," Emma said, remembering Cora's displays of magic in fairytale land.

"But she hasn't yet? Where is she?"

"In a coffin, in the big crypt in the cemetery; I check it when I'm out on patrol," Emma confessed. "So far it looks like the spells Regina put on it are holding and she hasn't found a way out but I think it's only a matter of time."

"Why would Regina want to help us stop her own mother?"

"To protect Henry," Emma shrugged. "I don't know the history but she definitely didn't want Cora anywhere near him."

To the point she'd almost been willing to let Snow and Emma smash against the spell-gate Gold had put on the well but given her experience with Cora, Emma couldn't say she really blamed her and in any case Regina hadn't actually gone through with it so she saw no reason to remind her parents of that now.

"Why don't we remember her?"

"I don't know for sure," Emma admitted. "I think it's because she was too connected to Regina, she had no reason to be in Storybrooke without her, so the blessing just…wrote her out."

"So what's your plan to undo the blessing?"

"True Love's Kiss," Henry chimed in again. "What else?"

"Will that work? Who's her True Love?"

"Me," Henry said. "I'm her son. I can do it."

Snow and David looked uncertainly between them both.

"It's the best plan we have right now," Emma said. "The Blue Fairy says she can't lift a blessing once it's been given. Apparently she can't even remember giving it because it erased her memory too."

"Well then, what are you waiting for? Why go through with all the riding lessons if you're just going to undo Elena? More quality time with the Evil Queen?"

"That's the thing; the Blue Fairy also thinks that in order for Henry to have a chance he needs to love both versions of his mom. So we've been spending quality time with Elena because he already loves Regina –even if she is a reformed Evil Queen."

Snow made a face at the jibe but otherwise accepted it gracefully.

"What about Cora?" David asked. "Should we be worried?"

"Yeah." Emma couldn't keep the unsaid 'duh' out of her voice. "But until she actually wakes up or we get Regina and Gold back I'm not sure what else we can do."

"What about the fairies? The Blue Fairy is still working on a way to bring Sneezy and Belle's memories back, when she figures it out she could bring back Rumplestiltskin and then we would have someone to combat Cora without taking the chance that we put the blessing on the Evil Queen for a good reason."

Emma sighed but accepted that from their point of view it was a valid question. And though the imp's transgressions were certainly more numerous than the Queen's, at least they'd always known where his loyalties lie: solely with himself. He'd been willing to kill them and risk Charming's wrath and the loss of Emma's aid to stall Cora before. It was fair to assume he would help them get rid of her once and for all if he could.

"How close is she to figuring it out?"

"Not very," Snow admitted. "She says she doesn't know enough about how the curse functions to counter it."

"Then Regina is still our best option."

David and Snow shared a long look and one of their silent conversations that irritated Emma so much but when they turned back to her it was with surrender in their eyes.

"Okay, what do you need us to do?" Snow asked simply.

A victorious smile broke out on Henry's face and the corners of Emma's lips lifted in relief.

"What you've been doing for now," she answered, "Unless you know a better way to undo fairy magic than what we've got."

Snow shook her head regretfully.

"Then we just keep moving forward until something changes." Emma stood and began moving dishes from the table to the sink, unable to sit still any longer.

"We'll try to curb our parental tendencies too," Snow added, as she and Henry and David moved to help clean up as well.

"You don't have to do that," Emma sighed, already sorry for her outburst now that the rational part of her was back in control. She wished she knew how to explain the conflicting feelings that had been pulling her in fifteen different directions since the moment Snow and David had found her on the street after the curse had broken and the bizarre reality of their situation had hit Emma with all the gentility of a Mack truck.

"No, I think we do. You're an adult –you're older than I am technically," Snow realized with a chuckle that was just this side of hysterical. "We waived the right to tell you what to do when we put you in the wardrobe and made you grow up without us. We sacrificed your childhood along with getting to teach you so many things –But I couldn't be prouder because you grew into an amazing person anyway."

Emma stared at the bubbles that were steadily rising to cover the dishes in the sink and tried to control the trembling in her bottom lip and blink away the tears that were threatening in her eyes. She clutched the edge of the sink, feeling as if she let go she would fly out of this world and wake up again in one where she was an orphan that nobody wanted and no one was proud of.

When she felt Snow's tentative hand cover one of hers she closed her eyes and wiped the two tears that fell with her other hand. Henry used that opportunity to snuggle into her right side so when she lowered her hand it settled around his shoulders and it wasn't long before she felt David's larger hand on her left shoulder and knew if she opened her eyes then she'd see him holding Snow as well.

"We're going to do this family thing if it kills us," Snow said decisively.

Emma snorted and tangled her fingers with her mothers, squeezing them as she leaned her head on the crook of Snow's shoulder for just a moment.

When she pulled away everyone else took the hint and dispersed as well, using the excuse of tidying up to stay quiet and not push for anymore deep discussion. Emma was glad that Snow seemed to understand, or at least remember from when they'd been roommates, her need for space after she'd been so emotionally vulnerable. And when they finished helping Snow and David made their excuses to leave.

"You'll be at Henry's lesson tomorrow?" Emma asked Snow while they gathered their coats and hats. She knew that just as much as she needed space now, Snow would need to reconnect soon, so she offered the branch.

"Is that alright?"

"Yes!" Henry called from the couch where he'd set up a video game after saying his own goodbyes.

"You heard the kid," Emma grinned.

"And maybe," Snow hesitated, "Maybe we could talk a little more about Regina?

"Sure." Emma forced her voice to sound easy, though she knew the conversation would probably be anything but. Snow gave her a watery smile and pulled her into a quick hug before opening the door.

"I'll come in to the station early," David said as he followed the brunette out. "You could show me this tomb so I can check on it too and then pick up Henry?"

"Sounds great," she told him.

He reached out to squeeze her shoulder, and they both smiled as they turned and disappeared down the stairs. Emma shut the door behind them and leaned against it for a moment, enjoying the feeling of weightless relief that filled the space her parents had left.

"Ready to kill some zombies?" Henry asked from the couch, waving a black controller at her.

"Oh, hell yes."

Later that night, after Henry had gone to bed and Emma was seriously considering heading that way herself a soft knock on the door interrupted the solitude in the apartment for the second time that day. She checked the peephole and promptly opened the door when she saw who was standing outside.

"Not to sound disappointed to see you but what are you doing here?" She drawled, leaning against the doorframe.

"Well, your mother showed up at the end of my shift crying because apparently an evil queen stole her baby and taught her how to ride a horse," Ruby said with a mock pout that broke into a toothy grin. "So I thought you could probably use a drink. And my lovely partner in crime here brought you some light reading."

Belle smiled shyly at Emma over the stack of ancient looking tomes balanced precariously in her arms.

"In that case, welcome to my humble abode." Emma shoved the door further open and swept her arm wide as they entered the apartment.

"Love what you've done with the place," Ruby commented, making herself at home in the kitchen, pulling tequila and drink mixes from the tote she'd brought with her.

"Yeah, well apparently blessings are great at interior design."

"Really?" Ruby eyed the loft speculatively. "Thorough and handy; it might be harder to break than you thought."

"Tell me about it," Emma lamented as she pulled out glasses for Ruby and a can of coke for herself.

"What, my booze isn't good enough for you?" Ruby demanded. "Just because I didn't spring for MacCutcheon…"

"It's 11:30," Emma protested.

"It's midnight margaritas," Ruby sang as she stirred tequila and mix in a pitcher full of ice and then poured a generous helping into the three tumblers before brewing up another batch.

"Henry's asleep upstairs."

"I'm not saying you should get shit faced, what kind of person do you think I am?"

"The kind who better use her inside voice if you want to continue this conversation," Emma hissed and snatched one of the drinks from her before reclaiming her seat on the couch.

Ruby grinned triumphantly and carried her own drink and the pitcher full of seconds over to the love seat.

"C'mon Belle, you'll have to forgive Em," she said, motioning her friend to join her. "She's a bit of a heathen but she's good people."

Emma realized abruptly that she hadn't actually met Belle since she'd lost her memory; really, she'd barely met her before. Ruby had filled her in on most of the town gossip, which included details about her new friend, but Belle had tended to stick close to Rumpelstiltskin, whom Emma had actively avoided.

"Sorry," she said as Belle set moved her books to the coffee table and sat down next to Ruby.

"It's alright," Belle replied kindly.

"So, what have you got for me?"

"Unh unh," Ruby interjected. "Gossip first. How'd it go with your parents?"

"I thought Mary Margaret filled you in."

"Well, sort of. But I prefer to get all sides of the story."

"Oh. You know, it was all pretty standard." Emma crossed her arms and mimicked Snow's uniquely saccharine brand of the parental lecture voice, "Emma, you are forbidden to be friends with any Evil queens! Emma, you are forbidden to reverse any spells we've put on Evil Queens! Emma, we really feel it's best if you just go with us on this because we're your parents and we said so."

Ruby snickered and clapped her hand over her mouth as if she were surprised that the sound had come from her.

"Oh, I shouldn't laugh."

"Why not? That was dead on."

"She's my best friend Emma."

"I thought I was your best friend," Emma teased.

The brunette got the torn expression that Emma recognized appeared whenever "Ruby" and "Red" clashed in her mind.

"You both are," she resolved. "That's why I'm here for your side of the story. And I can't imagine that lecture went over very well."

"Not particularly," Emma grimaced. "I might have pulled the 'I've had too many bad parents because you sent me here by myself, to listen to your 'because we said so' bullshit' card."


Emma shrugged and sipped her beverage.

"Had to be done," she said. "It got better after that. They're going to support mine and Henry's plan to set things right even if they are worried about the Evil Queen thing."

"Hence the hysterics when she talked to me?"

"She really cried?" Emma asked, regret coloring her tone.

"'Fraid so. She's tough but it weighs on her; all the things she missed. You know."


"I'm sorry," Belle interrupted. "But Evil Queens?"

"Long story, I'll fill you in later," Ruby said and Emma was glad because she didn't feel having to filel in anyone else's messed up memories.

"Anyway, we all had some things to get off our chests, so that probably wasn't the end of it but I think we're in a better place now anyway," Emma finished with a long pull on her margarita.

"Here, here," Ruby said as she and Belle joined her.

"Right. So…" Emma smacked her half-empty tumbler down on the table. "What have you got for me Madame Librarian?"

"Less than it looks like," Belle pushed the thick stack of books toward Emma.

"Seriously? There's like six books right there and they're huge."

"And I hope something in them can help. But I'm afraid it's a bit of a pin in a hay barn situation, and I'm still not clear on what exactly the 'pin' in this case is."

"This," she slid one of the texts forward, "Is the only book in my library that actually mentions 'Damnatio Memoriae'."

"Forgotten Pharaohs?" Emma asked skeptically, examining the only book Belle had brought that appeared to be printed after 1900.

"There are certainly more, but I'm afraid the library here is a bit…"


"Small," Belle amended. "Anyway, when I Googled the term, this is one of the sources that popped up. In this world it means the 'condemnation of memory' and the practice fits in rather nicely with what Ruby's told me about your friend's problem."

"Problem" was an understatement and Emma spent more time studying Ruby and Belle, trying to figure out how much Belle actually knew, than looking at the book she'd been given.

"In this world," Belle launched into a history lecture with gusto, "The term dates back to ancient Rome and Egypt when conquered rulers would have their faces and names literally struck from history. Understandably that makes it a bit of a difficult subject to study because the main indication of Damnatio Memoriae having occurred is the lack of information; the gaps in history, if you will; the chips in portraits and stone where names and faces should be. I found a lot more information on the web about it, for instance, did you know that Cleopatra-"

"Belle," Ruby nudged her," Spark Notes version."

"Oh, right, sorry," Belle murmured, dialing back her exuberance.

"This is great," Emma told her, making a half-hearted effort at flipping through the book and mentally kicking herself for not Googling the spell too; it's the first thing she'd done when tracking a bounty. "But how does this help me with Regina?"

"I don't know that it will," Belle admitted. "But since it sounded like you had nothing to go on, I found everything I could hoping something might help."

"Sure, I didn't mean to sound ungrateful. It looks like you put a lot of work into this and I appreciate it."

"Right, well, obviously I don't know a lot about magic, but I don't think there's anything in these books that will tell you how to reverse the spell; especially not one powerful enough that it to banish someone's entire history and replace it with a new one."

Emma had known it wouldn't be as simple as looking up a antidote or counter spell but she couldn't help the feeling of disappointment that swept over her. She'd hoped that the sheer amount of material Belle had toted over meant better news than this.

"What about all these?" She gestured to the remaining texts, all of which looked ancient.

"These are all books that are not of this world," Belle said reverently.

Emma's gaze snapped up to her, then to Ruby, then back to Belle again.

"I can't say they're from your world –our world- for certain but they definitely don't exist in any catalogue or database that I could find access to."

"They smell like home," Ruby offered, "And reek of magic."

"There are a few mentions of memory spells in this one," Belle handed her the top book. "I brought the rest just in case; the bottom one isn't even written in a language that I recognize."

"Wonderful," Emma muttered, at a loss. She'd never been much of a scholar, though she'd had a knack for getting information when she needed it, but this was looking like another dead end.

"Thank you, for looking at least."

"It's actually fascinating; I'd be interested to know if there are any other books from our world here in Storybrooke. Ruby's told me what she can but I'd love to read about it for myself."

Emma was about brush off the comment as rhetorical but then paused to think about it. She hadn't actually expected there to be any books from Fairytale Land in the town library of all places, much less five. But if there were books there then it was possible they'd be elsewhere. She doubted Rumpelstiltskin would have neglected to bring over anything he thought he might need once the curse was broken; he could be hiding a magical library of his own in his shop or at his home for all Emma knew. Regina's study had been packed with books at least as old as these, if they hadn't gone the way of the rest of her possessions there might be something useful in it and there was always her vault which not only had seemed intact but Henry had said it was like a freaking treasure trove of stuff from the old world.

"I'll see what I can do about that," she said, more to herself than anything but Belle lit up at the prospect anyway.

"Would you?"

"Sure, if these don't have what I need I'll have to look for more anyway. And besides tha , even if these books don't help me with Regina they might help Mother Superior help you."

"I hadn't thought of that."

"That's because you've been too busy geeking out about emperors and pharaohs to remember there's a whole lifetime of other worldly knowledge that you've forgotten," Ruby chided her affectionately as she refilled her drink and Belle's cheeks went rosy.

Emma smiled half-heartedly and gave the magic books one last glance before deciding there wasn't anything she could do about Regina tonight so she might as well enjoy the rest of this impromptu girl's night as well as she could.

She scoffed internally at the very idea. Before she'd come to Storybrooke the closest thing she'd come to a "girl's night" was an irregular weekend bar crawl with friends of a friend down in Tallahassee. Now, here she was, enjoying drinks with her werewolf godmother and an amnesiac librarian while her kid slept upstairs.

"You seem pretty comfortable with all this magic stuff," Emma commented to said librarian as she picked her drink back up and folded herself more comfortably onto the couch.

Belle shrugged, her confidence seeming to wane as the topic shifted from books to girl talk.

"It's gotten easier," she told them. "The first week was hard. I hate hospitals and they were keeping me sedated. But once my memories of the library started coming back they released me things got better and Ruby and Granny have helped loads. I've learned it's easier to think of it as just something new to learn about."

Emma hadn't known Belle well enough before she'd been forced over the town line to discern which of Belle's memories were real, if any. She knew Regina's curse had kept her in the hospital psych ward until it broke and that she hadn't had an intricate identity like everyone else in town. But Snow remembered her as the librarian so maybe the blessing had fixed that too when it erased Regina from Belle's mind. She wondered if the librarian would be so eager to help reverse the blessing on Regina if she could remember what the former queen had done to her and felt a little guilty for omitting that bit of information, especially since Ruby couldn't remember it now either.

"I try not to think about it too much, it still throws me sometimes," Emma admitted, refocusing on the conversation.

"Getting thrown head first into a new world can do that to you," Ruby piped up, as if she knew.

"No kidding," Emma grumbled and finished her drink in one gulp.

"Want another?" Ruby asked, lifting the almost empty pitcher.

Emma looked at the clock on the stove and judged the pleasant buzz humming through her body.

"No, I'm good," she decided. "Morning's are a bitch as it is."

"You didn't have much trouble getting up in time for work the last time we did this."

"I didn't have a full-time kid the last time we did this."

"So you've turned into a teetotaler?"

"No, I'm not getting drunk at midnight on a Sunday because that's not what moms do."

"How would you know?" Ruby asked, and it would have hurt Emma's feelings if she didn't sound genuinely curious; after all, Ruby had never really had a mother either. Not that having a Granny for an example wasn't a damn sight better than what Emma had managed to pick up between less than stellar foster mothers and Carol Brady or Edna Garrett.

"I dunno," Emma shrugged uncomfortably. "I guess, growing up I had this idea of what the perfect mother would be like –what my mother would be like, but it's kind of late for that for me, but I want to be that kind of mom for Henry."

"Was Regina that kind of mom?"

Emma made a sour face.

"In some ways. I mean, she's definitely got the baking stuff down," when she wasn't adding poisoned apples to her desserts, "Which is good, because I really don't think that's ever gonna be me. But in other ways…" Emma trailed off and shrugged her shoulders again; fiercely studying the empty glass in her hands.

"What about Elena Quijano?"

Emma's eyes shot up to meet Ruby's inquiry with a glower.

"It's a fair question Em; I'm not asking if you wanna marry her."

Images flashed through Emma's mind, of Elena and Henry and the way she patiently taught him about horses and the way they smiled together as if Henry too had never heard of an evil queen or had a mother who lied to him and made him feel crazy, or less than enough.

"Yeah, she really is."

"And we're trying to break this spell…why, again?"

More images; memories of Henry hugging Regina as he thanked her for rescuing her and Snow; and of Regina and Henry smiling over the lasagna dish at the welcome back party; and of the devastation on Regina's face when Emma had told her she was going to tell Henry who was responsible for Archie's apparent murder.

"Because I think if she had a chance, Regina could be the mother I always wanted for my kid."

"So…you do wanna marry her?"

Emma grabbed the nearest pillow and chucked it right at Ruby's head but the brunette just laughed and batted it away.

"I already told you there's nothing between us," Emma groaned. "There never has been."

"Nothing but a son you both share," Ruby pointed out.

"Uh, yeah, badly."

"Sounds like the beginning of a 'divorced lesbian love story if you ask me," Belle joined in.

"How would you know?" Ruby demanded.

"I read a lot," Belle sniffed primly.

"Okaaay," Emma said loudly. "I think that's enough for the both of you."

"You know what they say about ladies who protest too much."

"I skipped class the day we covered Shakespeare."

"And yet you got the reference."

"We probably should get going," Belle interjected before Emma and Ruby got too carried away in their back and forth. She stood up and offered a hand to Ruby to pull her out of the couch as well. "You might be able to start your day on a pot of coffee and two aspirins but I can't."

"Yeah Rubes," Emma snarked as she joined them. "You better be careful, twenty-eight years catches up to you fast."

"Excuse you! Are you implying that I'm old?"

"Well it did occur to me while I was talking with Mary Margaret that you guys are at least fifty-five?"

"I am two summers younger than she is I'll have you know." Ruby emphasized every word with a sweep of the tequila bottle she was supposed to be stowing back into her tote.

A smug grin bloomed on Emma's face.

"Right, so that makes you, what, four hundred in dog years? Shouldn't you be curled up in front of a fire somewhere?"

Ruby was not prepared for that and her bluster deflated like a leaky balloon.

"Clever. How long did it take you to do the math on that one?"

"Less time than it took you to come up with that witty gem."

"You're lucky I like you."

"Yeah, I am," Emma agreed sincerely. "You're not driving are you?"

"I had two drinks!"

"And a half," the Sherriff corrected. "With twice the usual amount of tequila."

"We walked," Belle promised as she buttoned up her coat and pulled on gloves for good measure.

"It's a block and a half, of course we walked," Ruby scoffed with twinkling eyes.

She let Belle help her with her own jacket as they meandered toward the door, shuffling her tote awkwardly from hand to hand to get her long arms through the sleeves. Emma held the door as they made their way out, but not before Ruby caught her in a strong hug.

"We'd better do this again soon," she said. "And not on a school night; Henry and David can have some male bonding time and we are going to have a proper girl's night with no dreary mother chit-chat. Speaking of which Mary Margaret should probably come too."

"Deal," Emma promised.

"And hell, let's make it really fun and invite your friend whatsername too."

"Go home Ruby."

"'Night Emma," Ruby grinned.

"Good night Emma, it was nice meeting you again," Belle piped up from behind Ruby.

"You too, and thanks for the books, I'll work on finding you some more."

Belle smiled gratefully and turned away as Ruby linked their arms and dragged her down the stairs. Emma rolled her eyes and shook her head and privately thought that Ruby had a crush of her own to explain. Then again, not if that conversation involved, in any way shape or form, admitting that Ruby was right and she had feelings beyond wanting to do right by her kid where Elena was concerned. Because she didn't.

Maybe if she kept telling herself that it would come true.

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