Author's Note - And now we have come to the conclusion of our story. I'm very proud of the fact that cath and I not only decided to write a story but managed to finish it! Thank you to everyone that has taken the time to read this story and followed us, reviewed, or even just took a peek as an awesome guest. It's been a lot of fun doing this and kind of sad that it is over, but we did what we wanted to do - retell season 3B when, in our opinion, the show sadly deteriorated. Not sure if there will ever be an epilogue or a sequel, especially since the end of season 4 has a lot of potential. Until then, feel free to read our other ongoing story, The Hearty Honeycrisp Apple =)
Leaping through the portal that they'd created with the Black Fairy's wand, Regina threw the tool back quickly before the passage between lands closed. She knew that Rumpelstiltskin would eventually realize he was carrying a fake, then retrace his steps. Regina was confident that he would find the wand wherever it landed because it was clearly important to him.
Exhaling sharply as the portal closed, the mayor turned and took stock of the familiar location. She would not have imagined she would be so glad to see the aging wooden frame of Zelena's barn! Unaware that the jump through the portal had stripped away the spell disguising their identities as guards, Regina looked to Emma and Marian.
"Are you both alright?" she asked, both exhilarated and exhausted.
"I knew it!" Marian declared, quickly scrambling away when the true form of her rescuers were finally revealed. The shock of the trip and how disorientated she was to her surroundings mattered little when she felt threatened by her would-be murderer. "I knew this was a trick of the Evil Queen's!"
"Whoa lady! No!" Emma got up and slowly raised her hands as she moved between Regina and Marian. "I get why you're confused and upset, but this is not the Evil Queen anymore. She was, yes, but not now. Regina wanted to rescue you because she wanted to make amends."
"Marian… Robin and Roland are here. In this land," Regina said emphatically. "I wanted you to have a chance together. Please don't be afraid. I saved you from… me. So you could have a future."
"What?" Marian's face twisted with anger and confusion. "You lie! I never gave away their positions! This is a ruse. The Evil Queen saves no one…"
Emma crouched towards the ground, wanting to get eye level with the woman and to hopefully appear less threatening. Legitimate panic was what Marian was feeling. And betrayal. There was no reason for Marian to trust Regina at all, but maybe Emma could at least calm her down enough to listen.
"You're right. You never gave up the location of your husband and son. They did escape the queen's wrath and lived. But we're not in the Enchanted Forest anymore. The portal that Regina opened took us to a different land, but also … to the future."
And when you say it out out loud like that, I sound fucking nuts.
"You expect me to believe that?! That my killer had a change of heart and decided to just … come back and rescue me? It's absurd!"
Yep. I sounded fucking nuts, Emma thought in dismay. She looked at Regina with a sigh before glancing back at their livid guest.
"She didn't come back for you, to be honest. Some bad magic happened here in our present land. It opened up a portal that someone was going to use to change the past. We stopped them, but not the magic. So we ended up getting sucked into the portal and we had to be careful not to change anything in what was her past, because we might not have had a home to come back to," she explained and looked to Regina to fill in the rest. Marian had to hear the reasons of why they took a chance and rescued her from the reformed queen herself.
"But despite that danger of preserving our past and futures, I knew what the Evil Queen had done to you," Regina said softly, her tone soft and full of regret. "I knew what she was going to do to you, Marian. And at the same time, in this land, I knew that your husband grieved you. I knew your son was growing up without his mother. If we had this chance, being thrown back into the past… into your present… I had to take the risk to set things right. I had to save you from… myself."
Regina paused, collecting her thoughts. At the end of the day, it didn't matter whether Marian believed them. She patted her pockets for her cell and placed a call to Snow, asking her to track down Robin Hood and Roland and to bring them to Zelena's barn. She kept it short with Emma's mother, even though Snow tried pressing for more information, and explained nothing further before ending the call.
On her feet, Marian went over her options as she scrutinized Emma and Regina. The blonde appeared sincere, despite how insane it was to believe how they rescued her. Her eyes were kind and very persistent, trying to will her to believe that this story was true. The Evil Queen, on the other hand, was not at all acting as she had been while Marian was incarcerated. She had shown restraint and could hear the regret quietly weaving its way through her words, but this was still crazy to believe. Part of her wanted to actually. Believe. To have a chance at seeing her family again? The opportunity just seemed too good to be true.
While Regina was on the call, Emma kept a close eye on Marian. The last thing they needed was her running off. Storybrooke was not enormous, but if she zigged instead of zagging the right way, Marian could run over the townline and cause a whole new set of problems if they didn't find her in time.
"Your mother is bringing them over," she told Emma. "She just has to find them first."
Rolling her eyes, Emma snorted. "Check the forest. Where else would they be?"
Regina couldn't help but chuckle despite the craziness of the circumstances. "I'm sure that's where she'll look first, dear."
Growing serious, Emma regarded Marian. "Just give us an hour to bring your husband and son here. As Regina said, my mother will bring them and they can confirm our story. Not to mention who my mother is will probably cement that we're not lying, and that Regina has changed."
That at least sparked some curiosity from Marian. "Who is your mother?"
"Snow White," she said with an irony that couldn't quite escape her tone. Even after breaking the curse a couple of years ago, it was still weird to admit aloud that Snow White was her mother!
Marian considered that and if their story were indeed true, that they were from the future, Snow White's child would be older. Regina could have easily masked her years with magic, considering how deep her vanity ran.
"I'll set aside the absurdity of this and wait to see if your story has any merit. But only for an hour. If Snow White does not make an appearance, you let me go." Dark eyes burrowed fearlessly into Regina's. "Do you understand?"
The brunette lifted her brows at Marian's defiant attitude. Some gratitude for saving her damned life and staging a reunion with her family! she thought.
"I understand completely. Lucky for both of us, Snow is good at finding people," Regina replied with a smirk.
Later, Regina turned and lifted her head in acknowledgement of the Charmings, plus Robin and Roland, as David's beat-up pick up truck rolled up to the barn's wide doorway. She marveled at the four of them piled into the cab, but very little with Snow and David surprised her anymore.
Robin climbed out, carrying Roland against his side. "What's this about, Regina? She wouldn't bloody tell me anything!"
"Hello, Robin," she said with a sigh. "I'm sure I disturbed you from rubbing sticks together, but-"
"Robin?!" Marian's startled voice cut through Regina's snark as she saw her husband climb out of the strange carriage that didn't require horses. That bizarre detail didn't matter to her. Robin was alive and here as promised. "Oh god, Roland!"
She ran up to them without any hesitation, throwing an arm around Robin's neck while gently cupping the cheek of their son. "You're really here," she said joyously as everyone else was just drowned into the background.
Regina looked to Emma then and sighed. She offered a weary smile, arching a delicate brow. "Well. All's well that ends well as the writers say?"
Emma watched as David and Mary Margaret ran right towards her, hugging her desperately that she was now the middle of a Charming sandwich. She flailed, trying to return the embrace. "Hey guys! We're fine!"
"Emma, thank god you're alright," gasped David, tears of relief clutching his eyes. "We feared we'd never see you again, even with Belle and Gold trying to find a way to get you back."
On the periphery, Regina's stoic gaze turned away from the Locksley reunion to that of the Charming's. "Belle and Gold were trying to find a way back for us?" she asked in mild disbelief.
"After threatening him and Belle wearing him down, yes. Henry too, of course," David explained. He pulled back and cupped Emma's face. "I'm so glad you're safe. I don't know what I would've done if I lost you again."
Emma felt a mixture of emotions - regret, pain, relief, and still the ever present anger she had for her parents. David's admission of not wanting to lose her again struck a nerve that had been plucked too many times.
"Yeah. Thanks to Regina," she said and took a step back away from her parents. "She found a way to get us home."
The mayor tilted her head. "Only because you were skilled at giving me the time I needed to find that way."
And that was all she wanted to say about that for now! They had not had chance to talk about what had happened in the Enchanted Forest, nor were they likely to in the excitement of their safe return home. When it happened, the conversation between Regina and Emma had to be a private one.
"Where's my baby brother?" Emma just had to ask. They went through hell to save everyone, including him, and she needed to know he was all right.
"Belle's watching him, honey. At the Pawn Shop." Snow clasped her hands in front of her coat, wanting to reach out for Emma again, but could feel her daughter's resistance. "We needed to see you. To know you were safe. We almost came right away, but Regina insisted that we find Roland and Robin."
She watched the Locksley reunion with smile. "And I'm glad we did."
"Mama, it's really you?" Roland asked, his dark eyes wide with amazement. Far too young to understand anything that had happened, he could only look from father to mother for confirmation. "You're really coming back to us, Mama?"
"Yes, sweetie," she confirmed, her voice cracking from the shock of it all. "I'm here now. And I'm never leaving either of you again."
Robin looked from his wife and son to Regina, standing there with the Charming's and Emma. He felt absolutely bewildered because he knew that Regina had killed her! What was going on?
"Marian, you're really you? And you're well?" he finally asked, staring at her.
"Yes. Robin. It's really me." She fixed her gaze solely upon her husband. "Regina and Snow White's daughter saved me."
She looked hesitant, sparing a glance at the other group, before her courage was mustered. "I … know that the Evil Queen was telling the truth. That this is the future." Marian swallowed hard and brushed her thumb along Roland's cheek in a daze. "My son's already grown so much in such a short time … and I missed it …"
Robin pulled her in for a fierce hug.
"Thirty years has passed since I learned you'd died," he whispered. "That long! He's still just a lad, and now you can see him grow up, Marian. We can be a family again."
"But h-how?" She was take back, aghast. "Thirty years … and you're … you're both …" Marian wasn't entirely sure how to finish that sentence. Coming to the future was hard enough to swallow, but to believe that she missed thirty years was absurd!
"The queen's curse," he said simply. "Roland and I were frozen until Miss Swan over there broke the spell. It's… it's a long story. But, we have a second chance now. To my great surprise, the queen found you. And brought you back to us."
"She really wanted to make amends for all of us …" she muttered, really coming to understand that there was no deception in her release. "As crazy as all of this is, how she saved me and how you're both here, she … the Evil Queen saved me..."
"Aye, she did," Robin said, speaking with similar wonder. "I suppose that this life here in Storybrooke really did redeem the Evil Queen."
Roland smiled. "Mama's really home!"
Shuddered as the stress of the last few hours left her and took Roland from Robin's arms to hold him tightly. "Yes, my little darling. Mama's really home."
As she hugged her son, Marian caught a glimpse of the queen looking directly at her family. She gave Robin a look of resolution and began to approach Regina while still holding their son. It was a show of faith, in her mind, to come close to her would be killer with her own flesh and blood.
"Regina." Using the woman's given name felt peculiar on her tongue. "I'm grateful I was wrong about you. You saved me and brought me back to my family. Gave us a second chance." She kissed Roland's temple and stroked his hair, swaying him gently within her grasp. "Thank you."
It was only proper to express her gratitude to the woman that had risked a lot to rescue her, when she and Snow White's daughter did not have to. She had been right to be wary of Regina, but no longer was that necessary.
The mayor inclined her head, gaze shifting from mother to son and back. "You're welcome, Marian. I hope that the future is happy for you now. For all of you."
Emma broke away from her parents, happy to be distracted by something more positive than hearing her parents go on and on about missing her and her safety. Snow and Charming were equally grateful for the family reunion and didn't pick up on their daughter's unease this time, but mother and daughter would still need a long talk together.
"Me too," added the blonde. "Glad we could help give you all a happy ending."
Regina slipped her hand into Emma's and gave it a squeeze. "Yes. A happy ending."
Robin approached, looking tongue-tied with emotion. He nodded brusquely and offered his hand to both Emma and Regina.
Emma let go of Regina's hand and shook his hand firmly. "I'm going to presume all of us are squared away with the past?" She smiled knowingly because pixie dust and murders had caused a huge rift between the three of them. Some were newer bouts of jealousy, or revenge-planning that were thirty years in the making.
"Aye, Emma. What's done is done." He then looked to Regina. "Thank you for righting your wrong. I … I could never imagine …" Shaking his head, his gaze dropped and searched for his wife and son, unable to express his gratitude properly.
"You're welcome, Robin," Regina said firmly.
"Well, here's what I think," Emma smiled and patted Robin on the back. "I think that you three need to get a ride back to where the Merry Men are so you all can have a huge reunion together. Then, stop by Granny's later tonight since I'm sure my parents are going to throw yet another, the town is saved and we need to celebrate at Granny's, party."
"That sounds really nice," Marian agreed. "What do you think Roland?"
He grinned and kissed his mother's cheek. "Let's go home! And go to parties!"
David looked back at his truck and winced. "I really don't have a lot of room for everyone. Most of you will have to ride in the back. Unless you're Regina." He gave her a sideways smirk, "I presume you've already called shotgun?"
Regina smirked at him and squeezed Emma's hand again. "Let me know where we'll find Henry and we'll simply poof ourselves there."
"He's with Belle and your brother. Already taking his responsibilities towards his uncle very seriously," replied Charming.
"Good. We'll be there shortly," Emma said pensively while loosening her grip on Regina's hand.
"Don't fret. I can easily ride in the back of the truck," quipped Robin. "I've rode in worse."
Marian elbowed her husband in the side and gave him a scathing look. "Says you. I was the one being hauled around in a cart trying to give birth to our son!"
"All right! I take it back!" chuckled the outlaw. "Marian's ridden in worse things. But, I will still take the back so you and Roland can have a bit of comfort. Though, it's rather a debatable topic."
"Hey! What's with all the dislike of my truck?" asked a legitimately confused Charming.
"Well… it could use a paint job. Maybe?" Mary Margaret supplied unhelpfully.
Regina chuckled and smiled at the banter. It felt like life was nearly back to normal. She just needed to see Henry with her own eyes and know that they'd kept life here intact with their foray into her past.
Despite everything seeming perfect and happy, Emma needed to know one last thing. "Quick question though. What happened with Zelena?"
"Dr. Whale patched her up," said David. "You really did a number on her, Emma."
"Can't blame me," she said, partly offended that he was bringing up how badly she had beaten her up. "She was going to kill my brother and destroy everything that we knew to exist."
"But she's contained, correct?" Regina clarified, her tone severe as this was such a serious matter. "Zelena has no magic and can't possibly escape?"
"Yes. Gold used Pan's bracelet on her and nullified her magic. She's locked up at the station and poses no threat," confirmed David.
"So … who's watching her then if you're here and Belle's with baby bro?" Emma wondered.
"Hook. And Archie. Of all unlikely partners," Mary Margaret supplied. "Hook is on guard duty and Archie is trying - unsuccessfully - to talk to her about redeeming her ways and healing from how slighted she feels."
Regina shook her head, trying to imagine that scenario. She looked to Emma. "Ready to go see our son?"
At least it wasn't Gold watching her. Emma would hate to see the mess he would make of her as punishment for keeping him under her control. She had a feeling that the chances of that weren't over for that for a long while.
"Yeah." Regina's question took Emma away from her thoughts. "Let's go."
In a poof of purplish-white smoke, the savior and her queen vanished.
Rather than take them straight to Gold's shop, however, the purple-white magic dropped them at the same park bench where they had sat together, with Henry, and endured Zelena's taunts. Regina wanted to see Henry desperately, but she felt this needed to happen first. The park was adequately private, given all the excitement elsewhere in town.
"Uh … Regina?" Emma was understandably confused as she looked around the park that had become a pivotal turning point in their relationship. Zelana's taunting had made the blonde further question what was going on between them. The witch's plan backfired, and here they were … together. So why weren't they checking on Henry? "This is definitely not the inside of the pawn shop."
"I thought we needed a moment, together, before being barraged by our son and by Gold and whatever he remembers now as a result of our little excursion," Regina said matter of factly.
She squeezed Emma's hands, then collapsed down onto the bench out of sheer exhaustion. Regina didn't even want to calculate how many hours she'd been up, across lands, and the odds they'd overcome in their journey. Truthfully, she didn't want to think about it at all, but felt they had to regroup.
"Darling… I do want to see Henry as soon as possible. But, I need to know that we are okay and on the same page after… what… happened," she said, stumbling over her words as she remembered the sight of Emma with her younger Evil Queen self.
"Oh," commented Emma as hands went on her hips and looking defensive. She wasn't quite ready to sit yet. They had been through so much the last couple of days that she had believed that seeing their son and relaxing together until the party tonight was the priority. Everything had moved a mile a second to make sure they come back to the present alive and didn't screw up anything here in Storybrooke. Everything appeared perfectly normal, but who knew if any subtle changes had been created by those past ripples. Like freeing Marian, the prisoners overhearing the plan, how Regina got the wand to bring them back, and then just casually got rid of it. One little change could have far reaching consequences than they could have predicted.
"You really sure this is a good time to go into that?" she said, glancing at the mayor shrewdly. "Even in the best scenario, this conversation won't be quick and painless."
Regina looked up at her, swallowing hard. "Are we okay enough to let the conversation wait?"
"That's entirely on you. I really hate to say that," Emma admitted anxiously. "I'm the one that potentially fucked things up."
She knew in her heart that what she did wasn't wrong. That the woman she had made love to in the past was still her Regina, regardless of what time in her life it had been. The Evil Queen was her true love. Mayor Mills was her true love. Regina Mills was her true love. It all equated to the same answer, but would Regina see that too?
Not knowing how to deal with any of this anyway, Regina nodded and rose from the bench. "Then, let's go see our son."
She considered Regina's wordless acceptance, immediately turning it back into what they were originally supposed to do - go see their son. It was always Regina's first concern, Henry's well being, yet she had stalled seeing him so they could talk about their relationship, because it was that important to her. Should she dismiss that so carelessly, despite both of them agreeing to postpone their much needed talk?
"Wait, Regina," she said quietly, motioning back to be bench with a pensive smile. "Please …"
The mayor remained standing next to the bench, lifting an eyebrow in a look that could be curiosity or impatience. She sighed softly and admitted, "I… only felt that if we didn't talk now, we never would."
"With us, it's a possibility. We tend to keep things bottled up for way too long," she agreed. "Maybe we'll talk in the future. Maybe we won't. Regardless, you wanted to talk now, so we should, and I need to respect that."
Regina nodded again and looked down at the grass, gathering her thoughts. "I'm sorry for what happened. It wasn't fair to you to have to go away with her. I'm so thankful you survived her… me.. but I'm so sorry that this was how it had to be."
"You're sorry?" Emma's bewilderment was clearly heard in her voice. "Regina… you don't owe me an apology. That wasn't you now. And to be honest, my life was never in jeopardy with the past you, once the you back then realized I wasn't going anywhere." Swallowing hard, this was the more difficult part to admit. "Which was the truth because I didn't want to go anywhere."
Regina closed her eyes. "You liked being with her."
"Yes. And no," she explained. "I love being with you. All of you. Being with you back then made me realize that for one simple reason. Well... no. That's not entirely true. I already believed it. What happened confirmed it."
Perhaps it would make more sense for Regina if she could remember what had passed between them, but preserving their lives had demanded that the queen forget.
"Seeing who I had been, knowing what I went on to do… you can still love me?" she asked, daring to meet her gaze at last.
That was the crux of it for Regina. She truly felt ashamed of the monster she'd become in the Enchanted Forest, truly living up to her title as the Evil Queen. And since she had no idea how the Queen had been towards Emma, frankly, Regina could only assume the worst. Because she knew what she was like; she had only to think of how she had treated the Huntsman to have reason to fear what she couldn't remember.
"Again, I can never forget or condone what it is you have done. But I can understand what led you down that path and the choices you made while you were manipulated by your mother and by Gold. I know you hate what you've done in the past and have done so much to rectify your wrong doings. Raising Henry, risking your life to save the entire town, reuniting Marian with her family … just a few glimpses of the potential you really have," she said with green eyes full of love. "And I saw it back then too. I could see the woman that craved desperately for love and who just couldn't believe there was the potential for it to happen again."
Emma entwined her fingers with Regina's and tugged her closer. The brunette smiled uncertainly, wanting to believe in everything that her true love told her.
"Somehow, our kiss broke the concealment spell you had over me. I thought it was for only curses, but it seems that our love was strong enough to break regular magic too. Or …" she shrugged, "... you really do just suck at illusions."
"I… she… saw you?"
Regina made a face and looked away. It hurt, knowing that. It hurt because - on some level - her younger self had recognized the chance for true love, and Mayor Regina herself had been the one to forcefully strip the opportunity away from her. Of course, she'd had zero choice in the matter. But still…
Emma waited nervously as she watched the mayor internalizing this, hoping that her honesty didn't doom their relationship.
"At least..." Regina whispered aloud, struggling to come to terms with this, "...at least she… I didn't suffer. I woke up with a pounding headache and no memory of you. There was no pain because there was simply nothing there."
Regina paused, remembering.
"There was only the confusion and rage I felt when Kalyn told me that Marian had escaped…!" She looked up at Emma then, wide-eyed. "I can remember that! I was furious."
She laughed, realizing now the irony.
"Really?" Emma looked dubious. "I would've thought since you were there mucking with the past, that you might not actually remember the past as your past self went through it."
Did that even make any sense? I think I just confused myself.
"I just remember where my memories picked back up, after the potion we made her… me? I don't know how to refer to my past self!" she complained. "Losing Marian just made me more determined to find Snow… and that's exactly what we wanted to happen."
Regina sighed and rubbed her forehead.
"Well, yeah. For everyone's sake it was important to get you back on the same path as before. Especially our son's sake," the savior responded firmly, despite a hint of sadness that crept into her voice.
"Yes." Regina closed her eyes and re-grouped, emotionally. "Thank you, Emma. For being able to see the good in me, even then. I… hope I was good to you."
The back of Emma's fingers brushed gently along the mayor's cheek. "You were. And I'm entirely convinced that we could be happy whenever. Literally."
That made Regina smile, even if it was tinged with sadness for what her younger self had lost. "Well, you are my true love, dear. I'm convinced of that, especially now."
Frowning, Emma cupped Regina's cheek instead as she looked just as bleak, even if for a moment. "Part of me is sad it didn't work out then too. I felt terrible for leaving you. Even if you don't remember."
That admission both broke Regina's heart and left her feeling exhilarated. Emma truly loved her, every aspect of her. She smiled softly and leaned in, brushing their lips together in a gentle kiss, which Emma returned more firmly. The burden that both of them had been carrying, all of their guilt, had disappeared when Regina pressed their lips together. She clung to Emma then, feeling their magic begin to tingle in addition to the sparks of desire that she felt for the savior.
"Yes…" she breathed softly. "I do believe we are okay. And can go see Henry now."
"Me too, hon," replied Emma just as softly.
Regina paused, then a deep smile crossed her face at the pet name. Emma was noted for being the non-sentimental type, so that meant a good deal to hear the affectionate term on her lips. Regina didn't say a word about it though, and simply used her magic to poof them to Mr. Gold's shop.
With Belle in the back watching the young prince, Henry was in the front of the shop, pouring through books as Gold look on at his grandson with reserved patience. The arrival of Regina and Emma by purplish white smoke had startled their son momentarily, who almost dropped an old tome onto the floor. "Careful, lad. That's a thousand year old text," he gruffed before looking at his guests.
Henry was far more welcoming. "Moms!"
He immediately ran around the corner and tackled the two of them into his arms. "You're both back and safe!"
"Yes! We are!" Regina said, oofing softly as Henry thudded into them at full speed. "We're both back and stronger than ever."
"That's right, kid." Emma ruffled Henry's unruly hair and kissed into it. "Back home safe and sound."
Which was a crazy notion that she never thought would happen. Believing that Storybrooke was home. Sure, there were a ton of issues that she had to work out with her parents, especially Snow, but this was the town that Henry had brought her to so she could meet the mayor. That was the real unexpected change that her life took when her son had found her. That he was bringing her to the home that she had been yearning for as long as she could remember back in foster care.
"You really went back to the past?" Henry asked, incredulous.
"We really did," Regina confirmed. "Evil Queen, Rumpelstiltskin, and all."
"Aye," came Gold's voice as he came from behind the counter to stare at them. "Next time ye take a magical item of mine, take a bit more care with it, will you?"
Regina lifted her brows, staring at him. "You knew it was me?"
He rolled his eyes. "I see the past and the future. You'd think someone around here would remember that by now! Of course I knew it was you, dearie, and not your younger queenly self. She couldn't have managed that spell as well as present day you could."
The brunette smirked and blushed at the off-hand compliment. She pondered what it meant what it meant that Rumpel had known things were amiss at the castle that night. Had he shown up by chance then? Or to facilitate her acquiring the Black Fairy's wand? Gold seemed to divine her thoughts and smirked knowingly.
"You're just lucky that tossing it carelessly aside didn't have greater consequences than it did, Regina," he said.
"Wait. How come you gave grandpa and Belle such a hard time at the barn then?" asked Henry inquisitively. "They said you didn't want to help because it was impossible and foolish. Was that because the past hadn't changed yet? Or were you being your usual crotchety, cryptic self?" finished the young man in a surprising moment of defiance.
"Aren't you just being a sassy young man, Henry," Gold replied with a smirk.
"Well, can't blame him for asking," Emma said with a chuckle. "But I think in this case, two things could've happened here, Henry. Gold was being his usual crotchety, cryptic self because if he said anything, it could ruin any chance of us coming back - no matter how slim. Or, he honestly didn't have a clue yet because the past hadn't officially changed. Either way, it doesn't matter. Sounds like we didn't mess anything up." She spared a glance at Regina. "Thankfully…"
"Yes," Regina said emphatically. "Thank you for taking care of Henry while we were away."
"And unnamed baby bro," Emma added with a smirk. "Appreciate your help. And Belle's."
"Of course," Gold said sardonically. "As you reminded me once, we are family now."
"That we are. Glad you remembered. Or visioned it. Or, whatever it is you do."
Gold and Regina chuckled at that. She rested a hand on her son's shoulder. "Ready to head home, Henry?"
"Yes. Definitely!" he declared before wrapping his arms around Regina's waist in a tight hug. Henry was so relieved that everyone was safe, and that what he always believed remained true - the good guys always won.
She hugged him back and smiled at Emma. "You too, dear?"
Emma's face scrunched up in confusion to the question. "Um, what?"
Regina chuckled. "Ready to go home?"
"Yeah, I guess." She looked over at Gold. "I figure the parents are coming back to pick up princeling?"
"Aye. That's correct."
Nodding, she looked back at Regina and Henry, figuring it was probably a good idea to check in at the apartment. "I'll poof home and catch up with you guys before the party?"
"Oh. Alright, dear," Regina said smoothly despite the surprise she felt. She had simply expected that Emma would come home with them. "We'll see you a bit later then."
Henry was quite astute at what was happening here and had to laugh. His parents were so transparent except when they were talking to one another. "Uh, Ma? Mom wanted you to come home with us. To the mansion," he said matter-of-factly because it was so obvious!
Emma shifted back and looked completely lost as she regarded Henry. "Really?" And repeated the exact same look towards Regina when her smirking son failed to answer the one worded question. "Really?"
The brunette rolled her eyes and ignored Gold's expression out the corner of her vision. "Yes, dear. Henry would tell me to be clear and state that you are our family, so of course I want you to come home with us."
To which their son nodded knowingly with a smug look on his face, which annoyed Emma to no end.
"Why didn't you correct me then?" asked the savior with a pout.
She already felt that home was with the two people standing before her, but it wasn't like Emma would push for a change in their dynamic so easily. Coming home with Regina and Henry meant a lot more to her than just hanging out at the mansion before the night's festivities. She wanted something permanent that wasn't filled with regret, and needed a lot of work to patch things up; and with her brother finally here, room in the loft was becoming premium space. Emma needed her own place, or at least shared space with the people she wanted to surround herself with that gave her life real meaning. Mary Margaret and David were good people that had made terrible decisions, but they'd taken forever to come clean because they felt that they did it for the greater good. It was better since they accepted Regina was in her life, but it was a long time coming for her to move out. Of course, she realized she could be easily misinterpreting everything that Regina meant, as usual. But it was the first time in a long time that Emma's mind was thinking long and longer term. Even wanting to solidify it further.
Regina reached for Emma's hand and guided her family out of Gold's shop. She really didn't want him listening in and was quite confident that Gold didn't want to hear it either. He had his own peculiar relationship with the bookworm to work on.
"Emma… I thought that if you wanted to spend time with your parents that that was simply your choice," Regina said once they were on the sidewalk and walking down Main Street. "We'd been through a lot in the last week and I could understand wanting to connect with them. Well, not really. But, if that's what you'd wanted, I would understand."
Between them, Henry chuckled. No matter what, he supposed, Regina would always find a way to make a snarky remark about Snow and Prince Charming!
"I'd… be very happy if you wanted to change your living arrangements," she continued. "After all we've been through, I'd love if you'd call 108 Mifflin Street home with us."
Henry's eyes lit up! He had to contain his enthusiasm, forcing himself quiet because he wanted Emma to come to the conclusion of what was obviously the right answer. Which was to say yes!
"I was hoping you meant that. When you asked about coming home," Emma admitted. She wrapped a casual arm around Henry's shoulders and drew him closer. "I just didn't want to jump to conclusions."
Henry leaned against his mother as they continued to walk, so happy this was happening. It was a dream come true having both of his moms together like this, especially when all he wanted was them to stop fighting and work together!
Regina smiled. "Good. You are part of our family, my dear."
"A crazy idea just a couple years ago, moms," quipped Henry, making Emma laugh.
"Couldn't agree with you more, kid."
The brunette chuckled and beamed a radiant smile at the blonde. "A couple years ago… this would've been unfathomable! Now, I can't imagine it any other way."
Green eyes looked over at Henry and then to Regina with the biggest smile on her face. "Neither can I, hon. You and Henry are my home."
Henry made a face and wordlessly mouthed, hon, wondering where that came from!
"Henry, are you ready yet?" Regina called, her voice carrying up the stairs.
Clad in a sleeveless black dress and black heels with a cornflower blue scarf around her neck, she glanced at the grandfather clock and realized they were cutting it too close. Henry was dawdling and Emma hadn't even returned from her impromptu departure. Regina Mills disliked lateness, but it was looking like she'd have no choice but be late… unless she left her family behind!
My family. Who'd have thought.
Regina caught her smiling expression in the mirror and chuckled at herself when her phone buzzed, indicating she received a text message. She plucked her phone from her purse and called up to Henry again as she looked down to read the text that was from Emma.
Sorry. Runnin late. Meet u 2 at Granny's.
The mayor sighed and replied back with a simple, OK. See you there. :-) Regina thought that the smiley face was needed lest Emma think she was upset. All she could think - as she glanced back up the staircase - was that she knew from where Henry's tardiness had come from; the young man came by it honestly!
Would not miss it ;), came the quick response back as Henry barreled down the staircase. He was still wearing the same clothes as before, just opting for a new, clean, shirt at his mother's insistence.
"I'm ready!" he stopped at the landing, putting his grey and red stripped scarf on and noticed that someone was noticeably missing. "Where's Ma? I thought all three of us were going together."
"So did I, my prince. Emma… well, your ma says she'll meet us there. Whatever mystery mission she's on has delayed her," Regina replied. She smiled and smoothed the shoulders on his shirt. "You're all set?"
"Yeah," Henry said with a roll of his shoulders, giving his mother a patient look as Regina was being overly motherly with him. "Did she tell you why she's running late?"
Regina slid her purse onto her shoulder and grabbed the keys off the sideboard table.
"No, she didn't," she said. "Did she give you any hints?"
"Nothing. Just had to do a quick errand before she'd meet us here," he said with a shrug. "Weird."
Regina nodded and ushered her son out the door, locking up behind her. "Well, it must have been important, whatever it was. And so long as it's not a magic portal, a curse, or an unknown relative causing problems, I can abide the lateness today." She chuckled because all of those scenarios described the last several weeks of their lives. "So, we'll see her there."
Henry scowled, wondering what could have been so important to keep Emma from joining them. She wasn't usually that secretive, which made him curious if she went to see her parents to smooth things over, but then another possibility crossed his mind.
"You don't think she went to check on Zelena, do you?" he wondered aloud before looking at his mother. "Grandpa said things were pretty intense before you guys got sucked into the portal."
Regina sighed. "Yes, it was, and I certainly hope not. If she did that, I'd hope Emma has enough sense to go see Zelena with back-up." Shaking her head, she unlocked the car doors and slipped inside. "Let's hope her secret venture is something far more benign."
When Regina and Henry arrived at Granny's, the party was already in full swing - but with a few notable absences. Hook had remained at the sheriff's station to continue his watch over the Wicked Witch along with Doc and Happy as backup at Snow's insistence. She didn't trusted the pirate or understood his motivations in assisting them now that his reason for behaving, her daughter, was with Regina.
Despite being "redeemed" as it were, Regina still couldn't help but feel awkward as they entered and found herself blushing over the cheers and attention directed toward Henry and her, but it was really just her since her son had joined in the cheering.
She waved a hand and chuckled, taking the proffered glass of beer from Grumpy. That said something and Regina knew it; at one of the other parties at Granny's, he'd drawn a knife on her! Her face disappeared behind the heavy glass tumbler, taking a drink. Henry was handed a soda as he looked around, and much to his dismay, he didn't see Emma yet. He decided to test out if his one theory was true and walked up to his grandparents of the Charming variety.
"Did Ma come and talk to you at all today once you dropped off Robin Hood's family?"
Snow tilted her head to the side and gave Henry a funny look. "No… she didn't come by the apartment. Why?"
"She had an errand to run, and I was hoping it was to talk to you guys." He smiled good naturedly. "You know me, I always have to figure things out. Especially what my parents are up to when they're trying to act covertly."
Mary Margaret smiled, paused, and then realized Henry was talking about Emma and Regina as his parents. It threw her off just slightly, but then she shrugged it off.
"Oh! Sorry, Henry. I've not seen or heard from her. But, I'm sure she'll be here soon…?"
"I wouldn't worry too much, Henry. I'm sure Emma's fine," David said with his usual optimism.
"She said she would be …" he offered.
"Oh?" David lifted his brows curiously. "She contacted you?"
"Yeah. Just before mom and I left to come here. She texted us."
"Well, there you go then!" Mary Margaret said optimistically, but almost dismissively. "Emma will likely be here any moment!"
Meanwhile, Regina lingered by the bar, carefully sipping her glass of beer. She entertained a few curious residents who'd asked if it was true that they'd traveled back to the past with Zelena's time portal. She felt pleased but awkward at having a conversation with them, but - after all these years - perhaps it was an actual step forward with the Storybrooke locals. It was then that she realized that it had been almost an hour since Emma had last texted.
Excusing herself, Regina decided she didn't have time for the slow process of typing a fresh text to her true love. Instead, she dialed her directly as she stepped out the back of the diner and stood on the small porch off the alley.
It was picked up right after the second ring.
"Hello, Regina," came Emma's crisp voice like nothing was wrong.
"Oh. Hello, Emma. I… just wanted to check in and make sure all was well. We expected to see you at the diner by now. You do remember the party is at the diner, correct?" she asked, half-kidding.
"Haven't forgotten at all. I was just curious how long it was going to take for you to find me at the party. Stiiiiiill waiting …" she admonished.
"What?" Regina snapped. "I've been in the diner the entire time, until I called you now. You are not at the party."
"Really? I'm not? Huh." There was a two second pause for dramatic effect. "Are you sure? Did you look … everywhere?"
Regina rolled her eyes, never one much for games like these even under the best of circumstances… especially right now. She stepped back into the diner, scanning the party-goers. Henry was in an animated discussion with Pinocchio, she noted, but Regina did not see Emma anywhere.
"Alright. I'll bite, darling. Where's everywhere in this particular case?"
There was a chuckle over the receiver. "Gave up already? That didn't take long."
Regina bit the inside of her cheek. She'd been too keyed up to nap when they'd gone back to the mansion and while she wasn't exactly fatigued yet, the brunette was aware that she'd been awake for an obscene number of consecutive hours. Her patience was apt to wear thin quickly.
"Emma…" she hissed, nearly calling her Miss Swan in the moment.
"Okay, fine. Check out front."
Regina smacked her own forehead and realized she was wearier than she realized. "On my way," she replied and hung up. Touching Henry's shoulder, she whispered to him that Emma was apparently outside and she was going to check in with her.
"Great! Let's go," he announced heartily, already presuming that was an invitation to join his mom.
Regina looked a little embarrassed. "Wait here for just a moment, okay, dear? I'm not sure what your Ma is up to, but she was clearly toying with me regarding her location. I'd like to see her alone first."
"See, Pinocchio?" Henry looked over at his young friend and rolled his slowly. "Told you."
The two boys shared a smile before Marco's boy was laughing. "Yeah. Secret adult stuff."
"Be nice or I'll ruffle your hair, Henry," Regina whispered, teasing.
"Don't worry," he assured the younger boy, "we can continue talking about this after she leaves. Ruffled hair or not!"
She arched both eyebrows at Pinocchio, shook her head, and gave Henry's shoulder a squeeze. After interacting with him as August, seeing him as a boy was a little unnerving!
With that, Regina skirted around dwarves who were talking about starting a drinking game; she shuddered at the very thought and headed out the front door of the diner to find Emma. The savior was casually sitting on one of the benches with her legs sprawled down its entire length with silly, wide grin.
"Took you long enough," she said with a fearless smile. Clearly Emma had an agenda that she wasn't sharing - yet. As Regina approached, she swiveled her legs around to sit properly and patted the space next to her. "Have a seat."
"We were worried about you, you know. Henry started interrogating your parents over your whereabouts and curious behavior," she told the blonde as she sat down.
"Well, I think it's rather cute how he worries and has to go all detective. Bonus points for bothering my parents," she jested, quite amused at their son's gusto.
Regina smiled. "Indeed. So… why are you sitting out here, darling? The party is partly in our honor for defeating the latest Storybrooke evil-doer."
"I had an errand to run. Just took longer than usual because it required a special order," she admitted and leaned over for a kiss, purposefully not explaining anything further.
Regina was trying to process what could possibly be a special order just then, when they'd only made it back to town hours ago, when Emma kissed her. She touched her cheek and smiled against her lips before drawing back to gaze at her.
"That was quite the kiss, Miss Swan," she said playfully.
"I can completely overshadow it though," Emma teased back confidently. She reached into the inside jacket pocket and pulled out something obscured by her hand. Regina could only catch a glimpse of black. "Got a present for you."
"A gift? As a special order?" Regina inquired, puzzled. "Or, is your secret special order the graphic novels I'd forbidden Henry to buy?"
Laughing, Emma shook her fist. "I'm not that good to hide shrunken graphic novels in my hand here. So no. Not that."
She set her hand down on the faded table but did not move her hand away just yet. "If you don't accept it right now, know that it's cool. We've been through a lot in such a short time. I mean, we were barely talking to one another when I came back. And now?" Her face lit up in absolute disbelief. "We're moving in together. Has it even been a couple of weeks? Things always go from zero to hundred around here without much effort."
Regina glanced at her hand, then met her gaze. "Emma?"
"I wanted to make it special, so please don't hate me for going to Gold. I know I'm not ready to make stuff like this, and I figured since we got his dagger back - the bastard owed me a favor for a change." He also returned the necklace that could nullify Emma's magical abilities. It was only fair that the items that could hold power over them were returned to the rightful owners, it was just unfortunate that the magic couldn't be immediately removed from the swan pendant. Gold had said that the anguish of ruining the symbol of his son's love for Emma by imbuing it with power over her would not be magic so easily withdrawn. For now, at least it was safe.
Emma finally removed her hand so that Regina could see what she had been concealing the entire time, a small black jewelry box. Brown eyes went wide, shifting from the box to Emma, and back. She bit her lip and took a sharp breath when Regina realized she was holding her breath. "Emma…?"
"Who knew the mayor would ever say my first name in awed repetition?" she said with adoration. "Now before I explain further, will you kill me if I said I kind of borrowed your earrings?"
Regina crooked a brow. "No…? But do explain, dear."
"Since we came back and talked about what happened back … then…" It really was absurd trying to talk about their past as being part of everyone's past that had long since past! "I kept going back to the night I brought Henry home to you. I mean, that's the moment that everything began for us. That was the moment that everything I've ever wanted since I was a kid was given to me. I just didn't know it yet."
Regina smiled softly, remembering how severe she'd been with Emma. She'd been responding to her fright from Henry's disappearance and the terror she'd felt that the woman would steal her son from her, no matter that it was a closed adoption. Instead, she'd managed to steal her heart.
"I didn't know it then either." Regina took Emma's hand and gave it a squeeze. "But what of my earring?"
"I wanted something from that night." Emma reached over the table and nudged the box forward with an enticing smile. "So, needless to say, the earrings you wore that night are totally ruined. But their sacrifice was not in vain."
She's proposing to me! Regina took a deep breath and held out her hand so that Emma could slide the ring onto her finger.
"I didn't even ask you yet!" Emma slid the box into the palm of her hand after noticing how eager it was for Regina to accept her gift, but she didn't pry the the case opened just yet. "I'm not crazy then for doing this?" she asked quietly, lightly rubbing the edge of the box's hinge nervously. "This isn't too fast?"
"No. We're true loves, Emma. Somehow… we are meant to be. I believe that with all my heart."
"Even in your past," she confirmed more adamantly, her reservations fading away with Regina's understanding and approval. "We were always meant to be. Things were never so clear than it was back then. It made me realize how lucky I am to have found you."
She finally opened the box. The ring inside was of similar design to the necklace that Emma had always worn, weathered and rough, but just slightly thicker in weight. Embedded into the metal of her once necklace were the two pearls that were once Regina's earrings, just shrunk down to the proper size of the ring, it's own metal loosely woven into the metalwork as if were threaded in. "Gold added the diamond between the pearls. He said it was only proper since we're royalty. I asked him why he cared, because I sure as hell don't. He didn't answer. So, I'm going to trust it's not cursed…"
"Emma… this is beautiful. And poetic, truly," Regina whispered. "So beautiful and thoughtful. I appreciate that it's so personal and unique to us. And… I am so thankful that you could find value in my past self. That you could completely love me."
Tears pricked Regina's eyes at the symmetry of a non-ring becoming a symbol of love in her life as she finally understood. It was just like Daniel using the loop from the saddle in her mind.
"I'm just glad you can still love me because of what happened between us. Even if you can't remember," she admitted with a disheartened sigh. Emma quietly struggled with the knowledge that she was the only one that remembered that night because it was an injustice to the love they shared. A love that Regina could not appreciate what happened between them because she had been rightfully forced to forget them.
Regina smiled though, and shook her head. "Don't worry about that. Trust me."
Again, she presented her ring finger toward Emma, smiling expectantly, as the blonde gave her a shrew look. "I technically didn't even ask you yet …" she teased, taking the ring out of the box.
Regina chuckled. "Oh, I know. I expect to hear quite the proposal out of you, Miss Swan."
"Ouch. Going formal now, Madam Mayor?" Emma dusted off her knee in obvious playful preparation. "Means all formalities need to be observed, huh?"
"Oh, absolutely," she replied, eyes dancing with mirth. "I actually want to hear this proposal. So formalities must be observed!"
Emma threw her hands out in concession, offering a smirk of approval. But it was her eyes that bore straight into Regina's with a seriousness that caused a knot of anticipation in the mayor's chest. "Who am I to deny you?"
Regina smiled and stared intently at Emma, barely breathing as she watched her take a knee before her. Emma's expression sobered up completely the moment that she took the offered hand, her other holding up the symbolic ring between them. "I know where my forever is. It is with you and Henry, and it would be my honor if you would marry me."
It was simple and to the point, and completely heartfelt. Regina nodded eagerly as she blinked away tears. "Yes, Emma. Yes!"
Smiling as a surge of emotions caused tears to dangerously prick Emma's eyes, she slid the ring over Regina's finger, making them officially engaged. All the teasing aside, she had been nervous that somehow she'd be rejected. She had wondered if they would both come to the same conclusion that this was wickedly fast and they needed more time to process everything before agreeing to marry, even if every scenario that Emma visioned had the two of them together as a family together with Henry.
"I love you, Regina." She whispered the words, her voice on the verge of cracking from the weight of emotion she was carrying.
Regina didn't immediately reply as memories surged back just as she'd designed: when she'd created the memory potion that was delivered to the queen through the wine Emma had her drink, Regina had ensured there was a way to break its effect. The way to do it was to have an engagement ring - from Emma - slide onto her finger. As planned, every second from their night together came rushing back. Regina closed her eyes as memory and emotion hit her hard; she had the reality that Emma had wanted her then and wanted her now overwhelming her senses.
"Emma… dear, I love you…" she gasped, opening eyes that were bright with tears. "And… I remember everything…"
Green eyes drifted across Regina's features, utterly dumbfounded as to what the implications of that statement meant. It was exactly what she wanted and now that it was here, the memories of the night they had shared, she momentarily felt a rush of panic.
"You, remember?" Emma said aloud to make it real.
Regina remembered and loved her, just as how she believed it would happen within her heart. It was just her head freaking out for no good reason. Like it had been stated between them numerous times - they were true loves no matter where or when they were. With the panic gone, it made the wheels spin and Emma flinched back in awe.
"But … how? You drank the potion back then. There's no way to remember because our true love lip locks aren't supposed to break potions." She frowned as her train of thought completely lost focus and began wandering. "But … it did break the illusion spell on me. I didn't feel any magic this time though… And you're so lucky I didn't drink the potion too!"
But then she realized, Regina would have woven the spell so that both of their memories would return from the potion in that bottle.
Regina smiled and pulled Emma up to her, hugging her tight. "I built this into the potion when I created it that night. That, when you proposed to me someday, it would restore my memories. Yours too if necessary, but I believed you wouldn't take the easy way out. That you would want to remember, even after explicity warning you not to."
"Whoa! Waitaminute!" She pulled back, completely dumbfounded. "You … you just knew that I'd propose to you? What if I never did, Regina?!"
The mayor smiled. "I just knew that if we were ever to wed, it would have to be that you who would propose to me. That you would need to feel secure and sure about that sort of plan for yourself. For us. And, I thought that would be the perfect way to reconnect those memories so that there was no doubt that you are my past, present, and future, in the same way that I influenced so much of your life, Emma."
"And all of this just happened in like two days. Barely two days!" she said in wonder. "I mean, it felt right. Everything. It's … just … wow, Regina. You were so … understanding of what happened. So sure that it wouldn't hurt our relationship. You were always sure … "
Regina pursed her lips, deciding internally if that was as true as Emma felt it was. She gazed at her thoughtfully. "Honestly? I trusted you implicitly. But, as me in that carriage with you, I feared for you, Emma. I feared what my younger self would do… knowing how she was toward people. How I was toward people..."
She fell silent, experience the surreal truth it was to hold two perspectives of that night in her mind. She remembered how she felt as adult Regina, the mayor, and also how she'd felt as the Evil Queen. It was a gift to be able to remember both and to realize how deeply she loved Emma Swan.
"But, it was both aspects of me who ended up falling in love with you. Losing my memories was the only way for us to safely escape, and it was a kindness to block my memories in the moment. I can't imagine if I ever lost you now and how I would've acted, as queen, if I'd remembered the next day…?" Regina shook her head because it would've been terrifying and surely would've changed their lives present-day. "I am so thankful you could love me, after everything."
Emma had let Regina take all the time she needed to express her feelings. It was not anything at all that came easy, a source of enormous friction between the two of them previously. But, it was also a way they challenged each other in order to bring out their better selves and more importantly, allowed Emma to open up her heart to another. It was effortless … once she realized that she was actually in love with Regina and that those feelings were reciprocated. It was the only reason she was thankful to Zelena since it forced the two of them to talk. The trip to past, it had its merits, but it wasn't entirely necessary to solidify what was in her heart - that Storybrooke was home, with Henry and Regina.
She picked up Regina's hand and lightly pressed the palm of her fiancée's hand to her lips, eyes so full of love and an eagerness for the future that Emma had never had in years. "I will always …" she paused purposefully for effect and winked, "... love you."
Emma Swan was a complete and utter Charming brat.
Regina laughed softly, getting the joke.
"Everything happened for a reason, Regina," she said seriously now. "How it was supposed to. We don't need to worry about what ifs anymore. The future's what we make it, and we get to do that together. Something that you and I always knew was meant to be."
"I couldn't have said it better myself, dear," Regina replied.
And with that said, she leaned closer and kissed Emma passionately, deeply. Unbeknownst to either of them, the revelers in Granny's all peered through the front windows and door, watching them. It was Mary Margaret who couldn't hold back any longer and flung the diner's door open, flying down the steps.
"I can't believe it! You're going to get married!" she cried out.
Regina's head flew back and took in the sight of the pixie brunette standing over them. She'd expected a fight, until she saw the delight in Mary Margaret's eyes.
"Can we go poof away now?" asked the blonde in a somewhat serious whisper, not turning around.
Regina glanced back at Emma and couldn't hide her smirk. She chuckled softly and quoted Mr. Gold. "All magic comes with a price, dear. This is ours now."
"Aw, man. You did not just quote Gold and equate dealing with my parents as the price for true love!" she whined, pouting further as Mary Margaret pulled her up and into a jubilant embrace.
Regina winked at Emma and rose to meet Mary Margaret's embrace when she grabbed onto her too.
"We're family again," she whispered.
The mayor flushed at the passion in Snow's voice. "Yes, dear. I suppose we are."
"But as a real family," Henry chimed in as he finally waded through the crowd to see his parents and hugged each one of them when Mary Margaret finally let him have some room. "This is so awesome! But unlike grandma, I can totally believe this."
Regina smiled and looked from Henry to Snow; it was time for her to blush now. Her gaze drifted over the various townspeople and family who'd poured out of the diner on the heels of her former adversary. Everyone looked happy. It was hard for Regina to fathom, honestly, but it was true nevertheless. She looked back to Emma and smiled, who immediately smiled back with a radiance not often seen from the savior.
"I think this is a good time to show your parents what you found, Henry." David's voice cut through the noise of the assembled crowd.
"You holding out on us, kid?" asked Emma, playfully shoving their son's shoulder.
"Henry?" Regina lifted a brow, curious to what David could be talking about.
"Well, I wasn't holding out really. I was just curious if …" he shrugged and smiled mischievously. "You know what? It's better if I show you."
He grinned at his grandfather before running back into the diner.
Regina was about to ask David what in the world they were talking about, but he saw her expression and merely shook his head. Henry was back in a flash anyway, leaping down the last two steps and careening toward them with his storybook. In the past, Regina would have freaked at his jumping the stairs like that. After surviving Neverland, her reaction had tempered some.
"What is this all about, Henry?" she asked with a puzzled smile.
"Well, since you two went into the past, I was curious about the book and if there could be changes. That maybe you and Ma had already been there, and I could look for clues that could help us rescue you," he explained.
"We were like Marty McFly, kid." Emma smiled easily as she wrapped an arm around Regina's shoulders. "Totally had interactions, but made sure to fix them so we didn't mess anything up when we came back to the future!"
Regina chuckled at that analogy, but wondered if Emma was wrong, given the enthusiasm on Henry's face. "How did we do? We… didn't change your book, did we?"
"You did," he said pointedly but couldn't stop smiling from ear to ear. "You changed the book!"
She looked to her fiancée, eyes wide. "We did?"
"Well, it can't be bad." Emma immediately second-guessed herself and spoke without her previous confidence. "Right? I mean, everything's fine … Nothing change… but how could you know? Henry, if we changed the past, how could you even realize that anything's wrong?"
"Henry said the same thing actually," David said to reassure her daughter. "Chances are nothing's changed. Which is impressive considering what we saw in the book."
"Your story was added in and says you preserved the future. " Henry immediately had page 23 marked and opened it before his mothers. It was an illustration of Emma Swan and the Evil Queen sharing an affectionate moment before the fireplace in the queen's chambers, softly gazing into one another's eyes just before they were about to kiss. "The story talks about how the Savior had to take away the Evil Queen's happy ending in order to ensure that everyone's future were secured."
Regina stared at the picture, eyes brimming with tears. She was incredibly curious to know how the story was told, in detail, considering how events had played out. Sighing softly, she looked to Emma and smiled.
"The Savior had to take away the Evil Queen's happy ending in order to ensure that everyone's future were secured... but then she gave it back, and helped to save the Evil Queen in the process," she whispered.
Henry looked at his mother in surprise. "You're not the author, right? Because that's exactly what it says in the book, and you couldn't possibly know that."
Regina tilted her head, surprised. "I think, my prince, this tells us that we are all the authors of our own stories, and capable of creating our own happy endings. If we have the faith to do so."
... The End
Author's Note - Hope you liked the changes we came up with and thank you again for reading! =)