r. once upon a time. regina mills/sheriff graham. ~2k.
a/n: i hate myself more than i can possibly say!! but uh, the story of me and this show goes like this—i was comfortably loathing its entire existence from afar until yesterday, in which i was walking around thinking how much i wanted to write queen/huntsman, at which point it hit me how fundamentally fucking great an idea modernday queen/huntsman would be, at which point i legitimately braked in my path in the middle of the sidewalk and nearly went FUCK! aloud. i am too lazy to worldbuild, y'all. so i ponied up and watched...this show. blaming vega_ofthe_lyre, truly madly deeply. and an overwhelming majority of this show still makes me want to salt the earth, but guys, guys: the queen. and the huntsman. are fucking. canonically. in realtime. and that is so bulletproof that i cannot even completely hate myself for having banged out an unedited pornographic 2k in less than a day even though i am still not simpatico with this show's aesthetic/choices/existence. bulletproof. every iteration. i am exactly this person. i am not proud.
When she appoints him sheriff, she brings him an apple, a gift, congratulations even if it was her appointment. He laughs—easy enough to accept the gift when they both know it was her doing; something flat flickers in the back of his eyes, but he grins and holds it easily, tossing and catching it in his palm just once. She thinks: you are a child, a boy. But everyone is a child next to her, everyone around her feels impossibly young, new-eyed; she carries all the years in the town, all the history. It wears heavy, heavy as millstones. She has learned to wear them lightly though, no other choice, not when she holds the town tight in her palm and fixed in her heart, not when there is no option of letting go. She is queen and god and storyteller and lonely, lonely: still and all, this is what victory means.
The apple falls, neat as can be, into his palm with a smack, and she can spare a laugh for it, something appreciative and amused and sweet as the fruit. He sinks in his teeth, and she stops laughing. Stops thinking child and feels his presence as a tangible fact near her own. The office is tiny, cramped around her—she is used to sprawl, to spaces so large they can soak up the quiet, to luxury into which she can sink. Her house is vast, beautiful, as open and hollow as she could possibly wish, and not even Henry can break its stillness completely. She has learned to love this, to soak in the quiet even as she feels it gripping at her neck. The town silences itself in her wake, the story it tells is stitched around her and the inhabitants give her a wide and soundless berth: the world holds its breath in her proximity. None such here; he is in the office with her and they are cubicle-close and she can hear the precise pattern of his breathing, hoarse and broken up round the apple, easy, easy. And there is nothing boyish about it: he is hers, more than most; she must remember this, must keep track of these imbalances. Hers already, with juice on his mouth and a gun on his hip, and this, this is a thing worth having.
Her hip rests against the edge of the desk, his hand resting hard on the other side, and he is leaning in over papers and he is thanking her. The queer thing is: she wants to thank him back. For what, she couldn’t say, but he takes up space naturally at her side and she feels memory wrap inside her, the knowledge of combined debt and letdown coiling in her stomach, and there is gratitude and she is waiting and he is comfortable, comfortable at her side: he walks around to the other side of the desk, “can I see you out?” he asks, reaches out to the space near her waist, and she thinks she could bridge the gap, could breathe in and expect fur and metal and sweat. Could ask him to bring her the world, to bring her hearts, to call her queen. (A short step from Madam Mayor, a shorter trip of the tongue.)
It is an ominous ghost to ask him to live up to.
The room smells of apple rather than of blood, of paperwork and dust rather than magic, and she shakes her head. The old rules don’t apply, and a heart is no trophy for a victor. Not in the hand, at least: there is no call for blood here, though her own is close and thrumming in her ears, rare music to a woman with no fear, no call to fear. Rare music, laid at his feet, familiar as he is, too familiar, too many liberties she’d allow. This backfired once; he forgot to fear enough, once. But there is nothing to fear now. “Close the door,” she says instead, and he does.
“More business?” His hand rests on the doorknob, and she moves into the space he leaves open, the expanse of his chest and the spread of his arms lain unguardedly out; she thinks, that is no way for a soldier to stand, but he was never a soldier, and the war is over. He should guard his heart, she thinks, still: he should know how easy it would be to cut it out, he should remember. Reaching out, she lets her hand settle on his, nails working lightly over his wrist.
His eyes are wide, dark and darkening; she thinks she should have brought cider rather than the apple, should have done this at night, but the sun sears in through the window, filtering in through the crooked blinds, and there is nothing to hide, this is her daylight now as much as anyone’s. “I wouldn’t say business,” she says, and he drops the apple; it echoes, bouncing hollow along the linoleum, and his hand is lifting to the back of her neck and he looks surprised at himself, but his hand settles all the same. This is not the first time.
“Why me?” he asks, “Madam Mayor. I’ve been meaning to ask.”
“You were the right man for the job,” she says simply, the only man, she doesn't, and then, “Regina. You may.” Looks up long and clear, teeth worrying the back of her lip, she can taste lipstick on her teeth and then he leans in and tips up her chin and she tastes apple and the rasp of his beard. Soft, somehow. She inhales hard against his mouth and bites his lower lip: soft is never enough. Her mouth opens wide and wanting under his and she presses her tongue into the hollow behind his teeth, digs in her nails against the broad bone of his wrist. Willing him to fight, somehow, to kiss her like it isn’t peacetime, but he has never known anything else, she must remember that: this man is not a product of the war, has never dipped his hands in blood for her, for anything. He moans into her mouth and she rakes a hand through his hair, scratching slow along the back of his neck. It is easy, kissing him; he acquiesces, he always has, and she loved it in him once. It is easy, and she remembers the curl of his hair beneath her fingers, the scrape of beard under her jaw. He kisses her neck, hands pulling her in at the waist and moving slow and sure and easy down the slope of her back, long-overfamiliar as he grips the curve of her ass, hiking her skirt beneath his hands.
The door knocks at his back, thudding clumsily against his shoulders, and he breaks the kiss, laughs into the shudder of his breath. “What is this?” he asks, “Madam Mayor—”
It’s nearly a plea, the question is not about the kiss, the question is about the way his hands know where to go, the sudden easy cartography of her body beneath his hands like maps long-made, but made in a different land, and she quiets him with a thumb over his lips, fingers stroking over his cheek, against the rasp of rough hair and warm skin. “Don’t worry about it,” she says, “Graham,” she says, and his face unlocks at the name: not even a real name, not the kind that counts, not the kind that binds, but it feels good to say, warm, familiar already. It never mattered what he was called. “Sheriff,” she says, and that’s a hundredfold harsher and a hundredfold realer: what matter the name, it’s the role that matters here. They are built on roles, and he was nothing until she gave him his part; the role fixes him in place in the town and here, in this room of desperate ordinariness, with his hands allowed and all over her. She rests a hand on his chest, which rises and falls fast as fear beneath her palm. Her thumbs tick idly over the buttons. She does not scry for his heart. “It’s nothing worth remarking on,” she says. “We’re adults, after all. But perhaps we shouldn’t test the door.”
He bares his teeth, white through his beard, clenching a laugh between them. And his hand is on her wrist and on her neck and in her hair and his mouth is on hers, silencing, oh! she thinks, fearless, familiar, and she wraps her arms around his shoulders, pulling him back towards his desk, cluttered with new paperwork that she disturbs with her hips, that she slides over and pushes to the floor. “Shit,” he says, hoarse into the side of her neck, and she wants to tell him: don’t worry about the jobs, she knows better and he’ll learn. He’s the keeper of the peace, the quiet, no more, no less, and the quiet is more persistent than anything.
“There are people outside.”
“I remember,” she says, amused, untucking his shirt. “Try to keep yourself under control.”
Her legs wrap around his hips, pulling her in against him, all long hard warm weight, and he groans, almost inaudibly into her ear. “Try,” and she bites at the soft skin of his neck and feels him swallowing, swallowing; she slides a hand between his legs, palm against the ridge his cock makes through his jeans and he muffles his mouth against her hair and she remembers.
“I will see you,” she hisses beneath his ear, “every week. I will expect—” he clutches at the base of her spine and her breath cuts off her words, she swallows exclamations and old names and twists at the waist, leaning hard into shocks of pleasure and old knowledge written against their skins.
“Report to me,” she says, “weekly—tell me everything, everything—”
“Just weekly?” he says, swift and harsh on his breath, and she shivers, she says nothing more, her eyes close again and she rocks slow and sure against him, hands pressed against the broad bare spread of his chest. He is hers, he is hers as she slides her fingers over the zipper, as he hikes her skirt up over her hips. He is hers, he has never been anything else, never belonged anywhere else but beside her—she slides into standing against him, pushes him back against the papers, and he lies back as her hands pull at his hair, as she kneels atop him, her mouth biting into a grin—inside her.
His eyes flick closed for a moment, and she cannot help exhaling, slow, as she arches her back, as she moves easily over him, and where her hands touch him she is no longer trying to draw blood. She brings herself off against him, easily, and his throat tips back to the ceiling, denim on his legs chafing between them; “god,” he says, reaching, arching between her legs, and her hand pushes his throat back, her face away. She presses the heel of her hand to his mouth and he bites it, muffling sound into her palm, plea or prayer, she could not tell.
He kisses the centre of her palm and his spine goes slack.
Another piece of the seam sews itself into place. But he does not smell of blood, metal, fur, forest. Just sheer human sweat, and he sprawls, hoarse and slack-still and so vulnerable beneath her, idly stroking his hands over hers.
“Jesus,” he says, remembering to speak. “Of course I will—I mean—Jesus,” and he’s grinning, “Regina, Regina,” and she muffles the bright flash of his teeth, muffles her name where it turns into incantation, it is not real, it holds no power. Inside her chest, something stabs hot at her heart—relief, it’s relief, but even relief hurts unaccustomed, hurts when it comes after long throes of nothing, nothing and fear.
The room is bloodless. This is not a sacrifice.
For a moment her eyes linger closed and she can will herself to trust in this peacetime.