A/N: And here it is. The end of this story. It's a very long chapter - over 21,000 words! I know it took me a while to post, but there were some angry users on ao3 that were *concerned* on where this story was going and character development left me less than enthused to continue this story. However, I continued to write and waited to post until the story was finished.
I hope you enjoy the conclusion to this wonderful story as much as enjoyed writing it.
Thank you everyone that have stuck with this story - you're the absolute best!
Enjoy all the easter eggs hidden within this chapter - see if you can spot them all ;)
They make it down to the lobby and out to the porte-cochere where a car is waiting for them. Together, they get in and buckled, then head toward Tremblay's office.
When they make it to Tremblay's building, Regina helps Roland out of his seat, clasps his hand tightly and moves around the car to the sidewalk where she brushes non-existent wrinkles from his shirt and fixes his perfectly-placed bowtie.
"Mom," Henry says with a smile, "We're good. Everybody looks great."
Regina sighs, "I'm doing it, aren't I?"
Henry scrunches his nose and says, "A smidge. Just a bit," he adds with a smile.
Regina laughs nervously and runs her hands down her dress. She smiles at her son and says, "I'll try to refrain."
It's Henry's turn to laugh, "Suuuuuure, mom."
Zelena scoffs, "Why start now?"
Regina huffs, "You two are incorrigible."
"You're incorrigible," Zelena repeats back while Henry sticks out his tongue.
"I'm surrounded by children," Regina sighs.
"Gina, Gina, come on!" Roland tugs at her hand, pulling her toward the elevators, "I wanna push the button!"
Regina chuckles, "Alright, dear. Let's go." She turns to see Henry carrying his cousin's empty car seat while Zelena fixes Birdie's headband and places the diaper bag back on her shoulder. They stand in front of the elevators as Roland hits the 'up' arrow.
They ride the elevator to the twelfth floor and when they step off, they're greeting by a perky receptionist under an abstract canvas covered in vibrant colors. "Hi," she says with a too-big smile, "Welcome to Tom Tremblay's office. How can I help you today?"
Zelena holds back an eye roll and almost releases a scoff. Instead, she releases a deep sigh and resituates her daughter in her arms and shares an irritated look with her nephew which quickly turns into a smug smile when they realize they're thinking the same thing, too perky.
Regina steps up to the desk, Roland clinging tightly to her hand. She smiles her politician smile and responds, "Regina Mills to see Mr. Tremblay."
"Oh yes, of course, Miss Mills! Tom is expecting you. If you just have a seat right here," she motions to a row of chairs against the wall, "He'll be with you shortly."
Regina and Roland move to sit, Roland quickly climbing into Regina's lap as Henry and Zelena sit down next to them. They all smile at one another, Regina wrapping her arms around Roland as he swings his feet in front of them. Their attention turns as the reception starts pounding on her keyboard and popping her gum. The phone rings, "Hello, Tom Tremblay's office," she answers before loudly laughing and having what sounds like a very personal conversation. Regina's jaw clenches, things must be very different here in New York, Amelia would never be so loud and unprofessional.
A man walks into the lobby and leans against the desk. "Brittany. Off the phone when clients are in," he says.
"Sorry, Tommy," she says with a bashful smile as she hangs up the phone. It takes everything Regina has not to gag. She notices Zelena do the same and they share a smirk.
Tremblay taps on the desk and winks before turning his attention to the family sitting near the elevators. "Well, Ms. Mills, it's be a long time." He steps away from the desk and toward Regina.
Regina smiles and stands from her seat, shifting Roland to her side (and Henry's) as she glides forward to shake his hand, "Mr. Tremblay, it's nice to see you again."
"You're looking well," Tremblay says as he takes in the image. Regina merely smiles and raises her eyebrows. "It seems you've brought an entire entourage," he adds with a smile, extending his smile to Zelena and Henry.
"Yes, my sister," Regina says, motioning to Zelena.
"Sister? You never mentioned having a sister," Tremblay says as he reaches to shake her hand. He remembers distinctly having to make up some phony relatives for her adoption records since she claimed to have no living relatives.
"Recently reconnected," Zelena says smoothly.
"Ah," Tremblay says as if he knows exactly what she was talking about, "Sibling estrangement rarely results in reconnection. You two must be the lucky ones."
"Somedays," Zelena says with a knowing smirk.
Regina reigns in her urge to roll her eyes but turns her attention to Henry, "And this is my son-"
"Henry," Tremblay finishes with a smile, reaching his hand to encircle Henry's, "It's nice to finally meet you."
"Likewise," Henry says with a professional smile.
"And you," he pauses to turn his attention to Roland, who is standing partially behind Regina's legs, "must be Roland," he says as he crouches down to be at his level. "I hear you're the guy of the hour." Roland smiles shyly but continues to hide behind Regina. Tremblay chuckles and stands up to his full height, "Not a talker, huh?" When no one responds he shakes his head with another laugh, "Alrighty then. Let's get the last of this paperwork verified."
He turns and walks down the hallway he came from and into the corner office. Henry immediately looks around and tries to distract Roland so his mom can sign all the paperwork. The sooner everything's signed, the sooner they can leave. He doesn't like this Tremblay guy. Maybe it's because he knows how shady this guy is, or maybe it's the way he looks at his mom. It's gross.
Regina stands next to Tremblay's desk, waiting as he gathers the necessary documents. "Alright, here we go." He takes a deep breath and says, "This first document in the will we drafted in your late partner's name. It lists you as the sole recipient of all his possessions - which I'm assuming is not much since you told me he was quite the...um...outdoorsman. It also grants you sole guardianship over his son, Roland." He pauses to smile at the little boy who glanced over when he heard his name. His attention was quickly pulled back to Henry as they look out the window at the bustling city below. "I'll need your signature here." Regina signs on the line and looks up to Tremblay, "I'll also need your sister's signature here. A will needs two valid signatures. Assuming you knew this Robin of course…?"
"Knew him?" Zelena scoffs, "I had his baby."
Tremblay's eyes blow wide and Regina chuckles nervously, attempting to change the subject as she scowls at her sister.
"Always with the jokes. She's quite the character isn't she?" Regina says as she takes her niece from Zelena and gives her a subtle glare.
"Some days I feel like a fairy tale villain, actually," Zelena murmurs as she signs her name on the will.
"Kelly West?" Tremblay asks.
"That's me," she says with a smile. A leftover fact from the curse, but she has papers claiming her to be Kelly West and papers claiming her as Zelena West. At least this way it will be harder to prove anything hinky. At his confused glare, "Different fathers," Zelena answers offhandedly, as if that explains away anything.
Tremblay shrugs, it's better to not ask many questions in his line of work. "I'm also going to need another signature, from someone who is a disinterested party. I know we're cutting it close with your sister, but since you have different last names, we should get away with it. Even if it is brought up, she's not personally benefiting, so it should work out. I'll need a copy of his birth mother's signature, showing that she gave sole guardianship to her husband before she died."
Zelena and Regina share a look. "She….she was too young to ever have an documents," Regina starts.
Tremblay gives her a look before another voice chimes in, turning all three adults attention. "Excuse me, Mr. Tremblay," Henry says respectfully, "My mom and aunt are trying to protect Marian. She was a part of an underground cult. When everyone was rescued and saved from their terrible leader, most of them continued to live outside of the law, if you know what I mean." He pauses and gives a shy smile, "She and her husband never had documents, nor did they get any paperwork to fill out. They weren't even legitimately married - neither of them even existed legally. They lived separate from the rest of the world." He offers a small shrug, "Sorry Mom, I know you wanted to protect them, but Mr. Tremblay is here to help us, right?" He asks, attempting to sound innocent.
"Of, of course, Henry." He turns his attention back to the women next to him. He gives a smile and presses a button on his phone, "Brittany? Would you come in here for a moment, please?"
There is no response, but Brittany quickly steps into the room and says, "Yes, Tommy?"
"Would you sign this please?" Brittany steps forward to the table and before she can ask Tremblay says, "Your name on this line." She signs, "And the name Marian Locksley, spelling on this piece of paper, right on this line. I'll need you to do the same signature here on the birth certificate as well," he indicates with his hand the other document.
She signs Marian's name, with her other hand, and asks, "Anything else, Tom?"
"Not at the moment, thank you Brittany." She nods before slipping back out the door.
"She's a bit excessive with her personality, but she's damn good at this," Tremblay says, looking at the two distinctly different signatures. He smiles at Regina and says, "Now onto the adoption paperwork." He sits behind his desk and looks at one of the papers in front of him, "Okay, so we have this adoption certificate for one Roland Locksley to be put into the care of one Regina Mills. This will be binding-"
He's cut off by a shout. "Nuh-uh."
"Roland?" Regina asks, just as startled by Roland's outburst.
"No Wockswey," he says. His vocabulary reverting when he's upset. When no one responds he sighs and hops off the window ledge where he's standing. He points to Henry and says, "Henny Mills, Gina Mills, Lena Mills, Rowan Mills," as if it's the most obvious thing in the world.
No one corrects him on Zelena's last name of West on her legal documents, or the name Lena instead of Kelly. Tremblay clears his throat and says, "My apologies. Roland...Mills?" He asks looking at Regina.
Regina can do nothing but nod. Her heart is beating wildly, she's not sure what to do, but she allows Mr. Tremblay to finish the paperwork instead. She feels Zelena put a reassuring hand on her elbow and smiles at the gesture. "Alright, we've got the birth certificate and the will finalized. I'll have Brittany fix his passport and add in a name change form quickly, and we're almost done!" He speaks into the phone before turning back to Regin,. "Now we just need a few more signatures to finalize everything. Sign here," he points to a line. They continue this back and forth of signing lines and offering initials until he says, "That's it." He smiles, "Congratulations Ms. Mills."
Regina lets out a wet chuckle, it's real. It's finally real.
"Gina!" Roland shouts as he jumps at Regina. She laughs and holds him to her, "Why sad?"
"I'm not sad, dear. I'm very, very happy."
"We all done now? Time for outside?"
"Sure, Roland, let me finish gathering these papers, then we can go, okay?" Roland nods excitedly and runs back over to Henry. "Thank you Mr. Tremblay," she says with a smile as she pulls out a document folder from her purse and begins to file them away.
"Of course, Ms. Mills," he says officially.
She pulls out a check from her folder and places it on the desk. "The rest of your fee, as promised."
"I was never worried about payment, Ms. Mills. You're a repeat customer, and you always pay on time," he offers a small smirk and a wink.
Regina sighs internally, but smiles politely, "You do your job, without a lot of questions. I appreciate the discretion." Brittany walks into the room, silently handing the updated documents to Regina before making her exit, smiling at the young boys watching her.
"Yes, discretion is my thing," Tremblay says, puffing his chest out. "I pride myself on asking no questions. But I've never known why you would need that kind of subtlety, being a mayor and all."
Regina shrugs and smirks, "I guess you'll never know." She adds a wink for good measure.
Zelena rolls her eyes and scoffs. She and Henry share a smirk before Henry jumps in, "Mom, ready?"
Regina turns her attention to her son - sons. Her heart soars and if she's not careful, she's going to shed some tears. She nods with a smile, "Yes dear, let's go sightseeing."
Henry laughs, "Where?"
Regina pauses, she has no idea.
"If I may, there's a great view of the city from the top of this building. There's also the One World Observatory - in the Freedom Tower. But my personal favorite is the National Museum of Mathematics. Yes, I know it sounds awful, but it's great for all ages, and it's super interactive. It's one of the most underrated sights here in the city."
Regina nods, "Those all sound wonderful, thank you for your input. We'll definitely spend our day sightseeing before heading home."
Tremblay steps closer to Regina, "You know...I could give you a tour, too."
It takes everything she has not to step away and roll her eyes, "I think we'll be fine, Mr. Tremblay. Thank you for the offer though. Alright boys," she says turning her attention to her boys, "Let's clean up." There wasn't a mess, "then we'll go see the city."
"Oh yay!" Roland shouts, lifting both hands above his head. Regina quickly tickles under his arms, causing an entire session of giggles.
"Come along, Lovies," Zelena says as she lifts the diaper bag over her shoulder.
They head out into the lobby. "Thank you Brittany," Regina says with a smile as they walk past her desk.
"Of course! And congrats on your newest addition," she responds, smiling down at Roland. She looks back up as the family walks past her and toward the elevators. Regina tells Roland to push the up arrow again and as they hop into the elevator Brittany calls, "Goodbye Mills family!"
Zelena huffs in the elevator, "So uncouth."
Regina shakes her head with a smile, "It doesn't even matter." And it didn't. They were a family. It was finally official. And there was nothing Albert Spencer could do about it.
They ride the elevator to the 25th floor, the top of the building. When the elevator dings, they step off and are immediately greeted with an entire wall of windows overlooking the city around them.
"Whoa!" Roland says in awe as he moves toward the windows. He steps forward, about to put his hands against the windows, when Regina moves behind him and grasps his hands, putting them on the handrail instead. He stands on his tippy toes to look over the railing and to the city below. "You can see everything," he whispers in wonder.
They stand and look at the city until Roland grows bored and begins to wander around. "I think it's time we do some other sightseeing," Regina notes as she watches Roland move around the building.
Zelena hums in agreeance, "Where to?" she wonders aloud.
"Well, I believe Roland is done looking out windows for a while, perhaps we could go to that museum of mathematics that Mr. Tremblay recommended. At the very least, Roland can interact with some things before lunch."
Regina calls the driver and has him come back to pick them up and take them across town to the National Museum of Mathematics. The boys (and Zelena) are enthralled with the interactive displays, while Regina walks around with her niece until she falls asleep on her shoulder. She makes her way back to her sister and sons to watch their amazement and wonder. They move around both floors, working with as many exhibits as they can. Eventually, Roland realizes Regina is not right next to him and grabs onto Henry until he spots her across the room sitting down, playing, with his sister. He makes his way to her and rubs at his eyes.
"Are you tired, Roland?" Regina asks as he stops and leans against her legs.
He shakes his head, causing Regina to laugh; he can barely stand up straight.
"Well, why don't we finish up here before we go eat lunch and head back to the hotel for a little rest. Does that sound alright?"
Roland nods but says, "I'm not tired."
"Of course not," Regina says with a smirk, "But your sister might want to take a little nap when we get back. Can we stay with her?"
Roland thinks for a minute, "Only if she gets scared," he responds.
Regina smiles, this boy is the sweetest, "Wonderful, I think she'll like resting with her big brother." She smiles and runs her fingers through his hair, "Would you go tell Henry and Zelena that it's time to leave, dear?"
He begins to nod before he pauses and looks to Reigna, "Two more minutes?"
Regina chuckles, "Alright, two more minutes."
Roland is off, he runs toward Henry and Zelena, quickly jumping back into the exhibit they were currently at. Regina followed and held her niece so she could also participate in this last exhibit.
Together, the three children, and Zelena, finish the last exhibit and Regina says, "Alright, time for lunch," and they leave the museum without any meltdowns. In the entryway, Zelena takes her daughter from Regina and begins to buckle her into her seat while Regina attempts to fix Roland's hair and bowtie from jumping through some of the exhibits. It doesn't work.
"Gina, I'm fine," Roland whines as they wait for the car to pull up.
Regina sighs but nods, turning her attention back to the road. She chuckles with Henry as she holds Roland's hand, waiting to be picked up.
When the driver is there, Regina asks him to take them back to the hotel where they order room service for a late lunch and then turn on a movie to rest. Roland is asleep before the opening credits finish, Henry is soon to follow, and Regina sits between then, savoring the moment as her boys sleep on either side of her. She's not sure when, but at some point she, too, fell asleep. She awoke to see the end credits playing to find both boys still sleeping against her and Zelena and her niece lounging on the chair nearby. They share a smile and sit, content, to wait for their children to wake.
Eventually, Henry stirs and slowly comes to, momentarily forgetting where he was. When he remembers, he smiles and relaxes further against his mom who smiles and rubs her hand up and down his arm as he wakes up. They remain like this, Henry turning on another movie, all snuggled up in the living room until Roland wakes up.
They head out again, intent of doing some more sightseeing before it gets dark. They head over to the American Museum of Natural History to show Roland all of the dinosaurs. They spend most of their time there, Roland listening intently while they interact with one of the Explainers (tour guides) that walked them to this section.
Roland runs between the exhibits, unable to hide his wonder at the large bones before him. After a few hours of learning about dinosaurs, their Explainer informs them that the museum will be closing shortly, but they were more than welcome to come back tomorrow for a longer tour - and could even see the other exhibits. The Explain had winked at Roland and he started to giggle, saying how much he loves dinosaurs. Regina thanks their guide and heads outside with her family. They head back to the hotel and find a cute restaurant just down the block.
When they walk into the building, they are greeted by a hostess who is able to get them a table quickly, "I love your matching outfits," she says as they are seated. A waiter is there soon after to get them drinks. This place isn't known for having children inside, but Roland and his sister were on their best behavior, even earning a few commendations from the wait staff and other patrons on how well both children behaved. They even gave Roland a free ice cream dessert and a fawned over how cute he was in his little bow tie and suspenders.
After he ate his dessert (sharing with Henry-who insisted on his big brother status being initiated right away), they left the restaurant and went back to their hotel room where they all showered and changed into comfy pajamas before heading back out onto the balcony to watch the sun sink below the horizon.
Roland climbed onto Regina's lap with his stuffy and blanket and rested his head against her shoulder, "Today was good, Gina," he says with sleepy smile.
Regina chuckles and kisses the top of his head, "It was, wasn't it?" she says with a smile of her own. She looks to her sister, who has an arm around Henry as they sit next to her on the balcony, content with the noise of the city below them.
Eventually, the sun sets, and Roland falls asleep; as does Henry, against his aunt's shoulder. Regina stands with Roland in her arms as gently brushes Henry's hair from his face as she whispers, "Henry, time to go to bed."
"But I'm nah...tired," he sighs as he blinks blearily.
"Come along," Regina says with a chuckle, taking his hand as he stands and follows her inside.
She gets both boys into bed and covered up before heading back into the main room. She and Zelena have a glass of wine and talk about the day as well as their plan for tomorrow before heading off the sleep.
The next morning is filled with more sightseeing. They visit the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, ride the ferry, stop in for story time at the New York Public Library (a nice, relaxing break in the middle of their day) and go check out Ground Zero and its One World Observatory before heading downtown. They get dinner - at a place much less fancy than the night before - and head to see the Lion King. Henry had gotten a kick out of it when his mom told him they had tickets.
They found their seats easily enough and had a few minutes to spare before the show started. Roland couldn't contain his excitement as he turned around, trying to take everything in the theater in. The lights dim and Roland is practically bouncing when Regina lifts him up onto his seat. He doesn't last there very long before he crawls over to Regina's lap. She uncrosses her legs and wraps her arms around his waist.
The opening song has the animals enter and walk down the aisles. Simba's journey through the elephant graveyard was unsettling for Roland, but sitting on Regina's lap helped. He made it through that, but Regina wanted to smack herself when she realized she had ignored the fact that Simba's father dies in the movie. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. She wants to shake herself but instead she holds Roland tighter. He seems mostly confused when Mufasa died, but he did lean further into Regina, who simply holds him close and rocks him gently. They make it through the rest of the musical, Roland content on Regina's lap. When the lights come back on, she realizes Roland is practically asleep on her lap. She smiles and attempts to get him to stand. He does, but he leans against her as she stands and grabs her bag.
"Mom, let's go, and when we leave can we walk down the street? I wanna show Aunt Z her musical before we go." He offers a grin that can only be described as nefarious.
Zelena gives a confused look but puts Birdie in her seat and buckles her as someone from behind them said, "I have to commend you both, your children are so well-behaved. You're doing a wonderful job."
Regina and Zelena share a surprised smile and thank the person behind them. Although they don't say anything, Henry knows how important it is for other people to compliment them. No matter how many times he tells his mom she's great, or how awesome his aunt is with Little Bird, he knows they don't really believe it. They've been told too many times that they're bad to believe anything else.
Regina smiles at Henry and lifts Roland into her arms, his head dropping to her shoulder. They all walk out together and see their car waiting. Regina offers to put Roland and Birdie in their seats when Henry grabs Zelena's hand and tugs her toward the end of the block. She doesn't understand why he's so insistent but she goes along with it, allowing him to drag her away from the car. Regina gets both sleeping children buckled in and sits waiting for Henry and Zelena.
They head back toward the car, Regina seeing them when she looks up from her phone after responding to a few text messages for the first time all weekend.
Zelena gets into the car, "Did you know about this? This...this...this Wicked?"
"You do use that word often," Regina muses with a smirk.
Zelena huffs, "I doubt it's very accurate."
The driver gives them a strange look through the rearview mirror, but says nothing.
They make it back to the hotel with only minimal discussion of the accuracy of Wicked. Regina carries Roland inside, gets him into his pajamas, and lays him in bed without him ever waking up.
"So I guess he really does need that nap in the afternoon," Henry whispers as he walks into the room in his pajamas.
Regina chuckles and nods before wrapping her arms around her son, "Did you have fun today?"
He nods, "I did! Seeing Ground Zero was so powerful, Mom. It was as if you can still feel everything that happened there even though it happened right after I was born. That's an entire lifetime! I mean, it's one thing to hear about it at school, or even watch old clips from what happened, but that feeling I had walking around, you just can't emulate that."
Regina nods, "It is really wonderful what they were able to do after such a tragedy."
"Everything was great, Mom. And spending our first full day as a whole family was really great. Roland being a Mills is pretty cool. I think this is really good, Mom, really good."
She smiles softly and her son, "It is definitely that," she feels her eyes brim with tears and how happy she is. She tries to hide it by kissing Henry's forehead and saying, "Why don't you lay down and get to sleep? We've got another full day before heading home."
"Night, Mom," he says, wrapping her tightly in a hug. "Love you."
"I love you too, Henry. Goodnight," she says, returning his hug in full.
She carefully shuts the door and turns to face the main room, seeing her sister at the counter with two glasses of wine.
"Birdie asleep?" she asks, sitting next to her sister.
Zelena nods, "Didn't even wake up to drink her bottle, slept right through it. That must be quite the life."
Regina chuckles, "I hope she takes advantage of it, I doubt she'll sleep much once she starts moving around and tries keeping up with those boys."
Zelena shares in her laugh, "I'm going to be honest, I can't wait for that. I'm so glad she'll be able to grow up with family around her."
Regina reaches out and squeezes her arm, giving a soft smile, "We all get to grow together now."
Zelena returns the soft smile but decides to turn the conversation away from her, "So what did you think about the musical?"
Regina sighs and rubs at her forehead, "I think Roland enjoyed it, the music and costumes were wonderful, and he was captivated through the entire thing. I just wish I had thought it through and remembered that the father died in this world's retelling."
"You can't think of everything, Regina," Zelena tries to pacify.
"I just cannot believe I did that. It was a stupid move. I should have never done that."
"He loved that play. It was, perhaps, a bit on the nose, but Roland enjoyed the musical. Let's not make things a bigger deal than they are, Regina."
"A bigger deal? A bigger deal?! This is a huge deal! How could I be so ignorant?" Regina forgets to be quiet and then winces, hoping the boys and her niece didn't wake up.
"Regina." Zelena says as she leans in front of her sister, squeezing her arm. "Yes, he lost his father. Yes, he has a lot of questions and is confused. But this musical did not somehow scar him further. He enjoyed the musical. Leave it at that. He'll have plenty of meltdowns and questions in the future. Right now, you just need to focus on the fact that he's happy. Right now he's happy," she repeats with a smile, "that's what matters."
Regina nods, "I suppose you're right. Thank you," she adds with a smile.
Zelena smiles and offers a small shrug, "What are big sisters for?" She finishes the last of her wine glass and places it in the sink before returning and wraps Regina in a hug before saying "Goodnight, Regina," and heading into her room.
"Goodnight Zelena," Regina responds, relishing the silence before she finishes her own glass. She shuts out all the lights and heads to bed.
They're up again to watch the sunrise, but choose to have a lazy morning. They sit out on the balcony and when everyone is awake, they head down to the pool. Regina watches from the deck as Henry and Roland splash each other, Roland staying safely on the deck, and Zelena carefully stands in the shallow end, clinging tightly to her daughter above the water. Regina offers a smile before moving to stand beside her sister. She reaches for her niece, waiting for Zelena to decide to let her go. Eventually, with a nervous sigh, Zelena gives her daughter to Regina. Regina smiles at her niece before slowly dipping her in the water. First, her toes, then her legs, until eventually her shoulders touch the water. Regina offers a bigger smile and continues talking to her niece, who is smiling her toothless grin. Regina continues to watch Roland on the steps in his life jacket. After about ten minutes, she notices Birdie's lips turning darker than their usual pink color. She lifts her to her chest and rubs her back as she makes her way next to her sister. She hands her off and says, "I'm sure she's getting cold, maybe a warm shower before being wrapped in some towels?"
Zelena nods and begins to exit the pool. If Regina had known she was so uncomfortable in the water, she wouldn't have asked her to come down here. Although she probably would've come to watch the boys anyway, and Regina wasn't about to miss seeing her adorable niece in the cutest swimsuit she's ever seen. She smiles and turns to look at her sons. Her sons. She cannot even begin to explain how wonderful it is to know that both of these boys are hers to love forever. She watches as Henry continues to try and coax Roland into the water, but he's not convinced. Regina comes to stand by him and holds out her arms. He jumps into them and she begins to walk toward the deeper water. He clings to her tightly until they're in water near Regina's shoulders.
She remembers doing the same thing with Henry when he was a little big younger than Roland is now. Henry's ability to swim was very important to Regina, especially living right on the ocean. She and Henry continue to play in the water, allowing Roland to grow more comfortable. He still held onto Regina but he wasn't clinging quite as tight. Regina vows to sign him up for swimming lessons when they get back to Storybrooke.
Eventually, she sees Roland start to shiver and says it's time to get out. They stand under one of the hot showers before wrapping up in towels and sitting next to Zelena as they wait for Henry. When they're all done and semi-dry they head back to their room. They all shower and get dressed before meeting back on the balcony. Regina fills two coffee mugs and orders room service for their late lunch/early breakfast. She moves back onto the balcony and hands Zelena her mug and watches her try to push her wet hair away from her face, curls everywhere.
"Sometimes I wonder if I should just shave it off and start fresh," Zelena mutters as she tries to hold her daughter and her coffee while moving her hair out of the way.
"Would you like me to plait it for you?" Regina offers.
Zelena gives her a strange look. "Would you?" she asks, unsure.
"Of course," Regina says with a smile, "it will be easier to keep it out of your face and hold onto Birdie. And it'll be better in the heat."
Zelena nods, "Okay," she says softly, with an equally soft smile.
Regina puts her coffee down and moves to stand behind Zelena and begins to braid her hair. She ends up doing a crown braid. Zelena's hair is so long that it easily braids all the way around her head, giving her an adorable crown that keeps her neck clear and cool, and keeps the hair up so Birdie hopefully can't yank on it. Regina takes her niece into her arms and tells Zelena to go look in the mirror and see was she thinks, offering to change it if she doesn't like it.
Zelena comes back and gives Regina a hug, surprising her, and says "It's perfect. Thank you."
Regina smiles, "Of course."
"Roland's turn!" Roland shouts from his spot at the table.
Zelena chuckles and turns to wrap him in a big hug, "Of course it's Roland's turn for hugs!" She kisses the top of Henry's head and they share a smile before she takes her plate of food and sits to eat. Regina places her niece on her knees and continues to drink her coffee, and eat her food. They all finish their food before packing up their bags and leave to make their final stop at the American Museum of Natural History, again, to catch the final tour through the museum. They got the chance to see everything, all of the permanent exhibits, the special exhibits, the giant-screen show, and the Space Show.
After the tour (which took up their entire afternoon), they get into their waiting car, which already has their bags packed and loaded from the hotel, and head to the airport. Another seamless entrance through TSA would've been too much to ask for, so Roland had to have a meltdown because he didn't want to take his shoes off, and Zelena had to be "randomly selected" for a pat down. Regina had never been more grateful her sister didn't have her magic here. Henry had to take his cousin in his arms, Regina was trying to calm down a screaming Roland as she tried to put his shoes back on, eventually giving up and allowing him to walk barefoot and screaming behind her. She places his shoes in her bag as she stops by her son. She sighed and offered a tired smile to her oldest son who was trying to rock his fussy cousin. She reaches out her hands and takes her niece in her arms, bouncing gently. Henry shifts closer to her as Roland comes and stands in front of them, rubbing vigorously at his eyes.
"Wanna ride, Ro?" Henry asks.
Roland gives a grumpy nod and wraps his arms around Henry's neck before Henry holds his legs and stands up, waiting to give him a piggyback ride when Zelena returns.
Finally, Zelena steps out with a flustered TSA agent behind her. Zelena has the biggest smirk on her face, while the agent is as red as can be.
"What did you do…?" Regina asks carefully, hoping her sister won't be arrested before their flight home.
"Exactly as I was told," Zelena responds with a nod.
Regina sighs, "Does it even pay to apologize?"
The TSA agent doesn't respond, she simply walks away, beat red. "Doubtful," Zelena surmises. She steps up and starts grabbing her daughter's things that are waiting by Regina's feet before marching off toward their gate. She grabs a snack for herself, and a much healthier snack for Henry and Roland. She sits down next to her sister, who looks haggard as she holds her almost sleeping niece. She hands Regina her food and sighs when Regina simply stares at her chocolate bar. She rolls her eyes and hands her part of her chocolate only to see the biggest smile on her little sister's face. She can't even pretend to be mad. Not after a long day without a break, a few meltdowns, and the feeling of total exhaustion. She's too tired.
Roland has now gone two days without a nap, they're all in a new place and not sleeping like they would in Storybrooke, and there have been far too many fits from Roland today for Regina not to be upset. She should be furious, or at the very least exhausted beyond belief, but all she feels is happiness. Happy with her family around her, even if she's dead tired.
She and Regina eat their chocolate bar while Henry and Roland pick at their food. Eventually, Birdie wakes up and Zelena takes her to get her bottle while Henry plays a game on his phone, Roland watching him over his shoulder.
Regina resituates herself in her chair, thankful she chose to wear jeans and flats today instead of a dress and heels. She relaxes more as she has a quiet conversation with her sister. Roland carefully pulls his blanket and stuffed monkey from his backpack and makes his way to Regina, climbing up into her lap, still without his shoes. He settles with his head directly below her chin. She rubs his back until long after he falls asleep. She watches her son across from her on his phone texting some of his friends he was able to meet up with from the city. She smiles at how happy he is, surely texting with his friends about today, when they had adventured on their own through the natural history museum.
They sit quietly, Regina and Zelena discussing how wonderful their weekend was and their favorite parts, while Henry switches between laughing at his phone and playing some game that has all of his attention.
An announcement comes overhead. Their flight is delayed. Regina can't help the groan that escapes her. Of course their flight would be delayed. Who wouldn't want to spend an extra night in the airport for a flight that's supposed to get them home and in their own beds again. Her head falls back against the seat, allowing her to stare up at the fluorescent lights.
"We could always head back to the hotel," Zelena offers.
Regina shakes her head, but lifts it so she can look at her sister, "We don't know when the flight will leave. We'll just have to stay here and wait."
Zelena sighs, but begins to take off the baby carrier holding her daughter to her chest. "I suppose we'll be here for a while. Would you like some coffee?"
Regina nods, watching as Zelena stands and walks to her nephew, gaining his attention before handing him his sleeping cousin. Zelena runs a hand down her face and releases a deep sigh before she brushes the loose hairs from her braid away from her face and heads toward the coffee shop.
Henry stands and pushes his bags to the middle of the aisle, next to his mom's, before plopping in the seat next to her. "How long will we be here?" he asks quietly, resituating his infant cousin on his chest.
"I don't know," Regina whispers back, "I'm sorry this happened. I know you wanted to get back."
Henry shrugs, "I don't need to be back for algebra."
She sighs, "You should be in school," she reasons.
"And fairy tales should be just stories. Sometimes things don't work that way." he says with a smirk.
Regina shakes her head and chuckles, "Touché."
Henry leans over to rest his head on Regina's shoulder and releases a sigh, closing his eyes. His hands rest atop his sleeping cousin's back as he shimmies to find a more comfortable position in the chair.
Zelena walks from behind them with two giant cups of coffee (after taking a picture with her phone like Henry showed her - she'll have to send it to him when he wakes up), "I figured we'd need all the caffeine we could get."
Regina nods and gives a grateful smile to her sister as she sits down next to her. They talk quietly for the next few hours. Eventually Henry wakes up to resituate and Zelena offers to take her daughter so he can sleep a little easier. He falls back asleep before she could even get Birdie's bottle.
Finally, after an entire night in the airport, their flight is called and Regina carefully stands with Roland in her arms. Zelena already had her daughter in the carrier, ready to go. They load the plane, Roland never waking, Henry barely conscious. The plane takes off and they watch the sun rise before landing in Portland.
Zelena buys two of the biggest pair of sunglasses Regina has ever seen when they land in Portland. "What?" she asks innocently, "The sun is much brighter after you don't sleep," she states matter-of-factly.
"I thought that was for hangovers," Henry responds.
"That too," Zelena answers simply. "Wait," She turns to look at her nephew, "What is that? The hangover?"
"Too much alcohol," Henry answers. When Regina gives him a startled look he responds with a shrug, "Hook always brags about never having one."
"He's never been sober enough," Regina snarks before she realizes she spoke aloud. "Henry," she says, feeling chasted, "I- I didn't…"
"I get it, Mom," he says with a smirk, "You don't have to like him. I don't."
"Henry," she says with a shake of her head, "He's your-" she pauses, unable to say it. He's not anything to Henry. Well, almost, "He's very important to your mother."
Henry shrugs, "I know." There's a small pause before he says, "What time does the dealership open?"
"I have no idea," Regina answers honestly.
Henry stops walking. Regina pauses, looking back at her son. When she only gives him a confused look, he throws his hands in the air, "Then where are we going?"
"To the car…?" Regina says slowly, still confused.
"We don't have a car!" he shouts. Roland jumps in Regina's arms, head lifting to look at Henry.
Regina gives him a stern look. He lowers his hands and droops his shoulders, chastised. "We do have a car. It was dropped off this morning right before our plane took off."
Henry gives her a strange look, but Regina turns away, continuing to walk toward baggage claim.
They pick up their bags, Henry pulling Regina and Roland's behind him along with his own bag after he helped his aunt grab her bag and the stroller. They follow Regina out of the airport and to an unknown vehicle. Unbeknownst to them, Regina had grab the keys from a valet while they set up the stroller, grabbed the carseats and all of their bags. Roland is still clinging to Regina tightly as she unlocks the car and opens the liftgate so Henry and Zelena can put their bags inside. She coaxes Roland to stand on his own so she can get the two carseats installed in the new vehicle.
"Fancy, Mom," Henry muses about the Buick as he crawls between the two seats to the third row, putting his bag on one side and buckling quickly.
Regina smiles before she finishes adjusting Roland's seat and buckling him in. She had already finished her niece's seat; all Zelena had to do was click in her carseat. Both women get into the car and share a smile before Regina starts the car and drives them out of the airport. They stop for breakfast, since both boys claimed to be starving and then head north toward Storybrooke.
They drive across the line, magic flowing through Regina and Zelena's bodies once again. It's as if a piece of a puzzle is put back into place. They feel whole for the first time since they left for New York. They go home to the mansion and unload everything. Henry offers to take Roland outside to play while Regina begins to unpack their bags and start a load of laundry. She walks into the backyard to see Henry and Roland playing some sort of airplane game while Zelena and Birdie lounge on a blanket under the shade of the giant apple tree.
"Well, the laundry is started and I put in a call with the head teacher at the school, we have a meeting this afternoon after Roland's nap. Hopefully he'll be set to start school this week yet." Zelena nods, watching her nephews run across the yard with their arms out to their sides. "Oh," Regina says as she says sits beside her, drawing Zelena's attention once again, "Granny wants us to go to the diner tonight to celebrate finalizing Roland's adoption. And she wants to have a big reception this weekend for everyone else."
"Always a party in this town," Zelena muses with a scrunched nose.
Regina can't help the chuckle that escapes at her sister's disgust, "Don't worry. You never get used to how often heroes want to celebrate things. Even the most mundane of moments in this town deserve their own celebration."
"Well, I'd hardly call this occasion 'mundane', but if they want to have a party, we'll be there to party. Or to play some magical pranks, maybe even throw a fireball or two."
The sigh that escapes Regina is long and full of tired frustration, "Are you always this frustrating?"
"Yup," Zelena says with a smirk.
Regina shakes her head but says nothing more, watching her boys chase each other around the yard. Eventually, Roland grows tired and comes to lay on the blanket next to Regina, resting his head on her thigh. She runs a hand through his hair and asks, "Should we go lay down for a rest before we go to school and meet with some teachers?"
Roland looks up at her but eventually nods. They stand together and head inside. "Henry, homework," Regina calls from behind her.
Regina and Roland climb the steps and move to his room. She had already set his stuffed monkey and blanket at the edge of his bed, so all he had to do is pick them up as he crawls under the covers and waits for Regina to join him. Together, they sing a song and and lay quietly until they both are fast asleep.
She wakes when she hears Henry walk into the room. "Mom," he whispers, "don't you have a meeting?" he asks. Regina sits up, rubbing at her eyes before looking at the time. She sighs and nods, carefully extracting herself from the bed and following her son out. She leaves the door open for when Roland wakes up and follows her son to the steps. She notices her sister's door shut, so she assumes she and Birdie are also resting.
Henry and Regina head down to the kitchen where she whips up a simple snack/lunch since they haven't eaten since breakfast. Roland eventually makes his way down the steps and climbs onto a chair next to Henry while Regina makes him a plate of food and gets him some juice. They eat with simple conversation flowing until Regina shoos them out of the kitchen and toward the front of the house. She places a plate of food in the fridge for Zelena and waves her hand, magicking a note on the counter telling her that it's there. Then she moves to the foyer, where she puts on her heels and-
"What are those?!" Henry asks, looking at her heels.
Regina raises her eyebrow, not willing to play this game again, "I'm in jeans, Henry, for the second time in two weeks. That's never happened before. Let's not give this town a heart attack."
Henry sighs, "I guess it's progress."
Regina shakes her head with a smile, "Let's go." She leads the boys outside and they hop in the new vehicle, heading to the school.
They get to the school and Regina helps Roland out of his seat and together, they walk into the building, with Henry right behind them. "I think I'm going to go by Grandma and get my other homework," Henry muses aloud.
Regina nods and smiles, "We'll find you when we're done."
Henry returns the smile and offers his fist to Roland. When Roland bumps it with his own, Henry winks and says, "Catch ya later, Ro."
Roland nods and clings tightly to Regina's hand as they walk toward the front office. Regina offers a politician's smile to the secretary as they walk by. They make it to the kindergarten room and Roland freezes. Regina stops with him and crouches down beside him, "Roland?"
"I don't wanna," he whispers.
"You don't want to what?" Regina asks, confused.
"I don't wanna go to school, Gina. I wanna stay with you." His lower lip juts out.
"Oh, sweet boy," she coos and wraps him in her arms, "School will be fun! You'll meet all kinds of new friends and learn new games and how to read, and then you'll get to come home and spend time with me. You can do both," she says with a big smile. Roland looks unsure but when Regina asks, "Can we just go in and see? Let's meet the teacher and see the room, then you can decide if this is something you want to try."
"Of course," Regina promises. Roland thinks for a minute and then nods. Regina smiles and stands, pushing open the door. She smiles at the teacher sitting behind the desk. "Mrs. Porter," she says kindly.
"Madam Mayor, so glad you could make it," the teacher says amicably as she stands. She moves toward them and motions to a table in the middle room, "And you must be Roland," she says acknowledging the boy hiding behind Regina's legs. "Please, have a seat."
Regina moves toward the table and sits at the tiny table made for tiny bodies. Roland quickly climbs into her lap and stares at the teacher, unsure. "Thank you for meeting us," Regina offers, attempting to ignore how Roland hides against her.
"Of course, I've heard wonderful things about Roland here; Mrs. Nolan can't talk about him enough. She has started talking about him as much as she does Henry and Neal."
Regina smiles and looks down at Roland, "He's wonderful."
Mrs. Porter smiles and looks to Roland, "Hello Roland," she says attempting to get his attention, "How are you?"
When he says nothing, Regina nudges him and says, "Can you tell Mrs. Porter what we did this weekend?" She hopes it will cause him to speak. It doesn't. "Where did we go?"
It takes a moment, but eventually Roland whispers, "New York."
"New York?" Mrs. Porter asks excitedly, "What did you do there?"
Roland looks at Regina, he sees an encouraging smile. He returns it and turns back to Mrs. Porter, "We saweded a HUUUUUGE lady statue and went to the tippy top of it and we stayed in a big hotel with pretty windows and we went to see the dinosaurs TWICE!"
"Wow," Mrs. Porter says, "That sounds amazing! Do you like dinosaurs?"
Roland nods, "Dinos are my faaaaavorite."
Mrs. Porter chuckles and smiles, "So, Madam Mayor-"
"Regina, please," she says, returning her smile.
"Regina," she amends, "what can I do?"
Regina sits a bit straighter, "While in New York, our paperwork was finalized. It hasn't been officially released, unless Snow spoke to you about it," she pauses. Mrs. Porter shakes her head with a confused look. Regina gives a soft smile, "Roland is officially under my care now. I have adopted him and he will be staying with me from now on. He will be 5 soon and I think it is important that he starts school and creates a new schedule."
Mrs. Porter nods, "And he hasn't had any formal schooling?"
Regina shakes her head, "Not in the Enchanted Forest, and when he came here… there was...there was just no time to officially enroll." Mrs. Porter nods, "But now he needs a schedule, he needs to be around his peers. He needs formal learning." Before Mrs. Porter can ask, she says, "He knows how to count and knows his alphabet and we've been working on writing both letters and numbers."
"That's very impressive for a child who has never had any formal schooling," Mrs. Porter says, impressed.
Regina gives a small smile and offers an uncharacteristic shrug. She looks down at Roland, "He's quick to learn." There's a pause, "And he's spent some time with workbooks with letters and numbers a few times each day."
Mrs. Porter nods with a wide smile, "That's wonderful!" She looks to Roland, "Well, Roland, what do you think? Would you like to spend a few hours in here with some of my other friends tomorrow?"
Roland watches her closely before looking up at Regina, "With Gina?"
Regina offers a small smile, "I'll bring you here like I do Henry, and then I'll pick you up."
Regina shakes her head, "No, dear, but you'll get to tell me everything when I pick you up."
"Don't wanna go, Gina," he whispers, his lip jutting out in a pout.
"You won't be going anywhere, Sweetie," she soothes. "You'll be here with Mrs. Porter and some other kids to play with and then I'll be back to pick you up." She offers him a big smile.
But he's not convinced. "I don't know…."
Regina offers a small smile, "How about we go get Henry and talk about it tonight, does that sound okay?"
Roland nods, still unsure.
She gives him a big smile and kisses his forehead, "Let's go find Henry."
"Right here, Mom," Henry says from behind them.
"Henry!" Roland shouts and jumps off of Regina's lap.
"Hey, Ro," Henry says with a smile as he moves Roland away from the two adults.
"I want to mention this so you know what's going on," Regina starts, as she stands and moves to stand next to Mrs. Porter. Mrs. Porter nods so she continues, "Roland is experiencing some...difficulties adjusting. Losing his father has...affected him in ways that surprised me. He's having problems with separation. We're working on it, but it'll be a long process. Dr. Hopper is already aware and we're hoping things will change for the better once we get on a structured schedule."
Mrs. Porter nods, "I believe you, Regina. I'm glad Roland has someone that will care for him during this difficult time."
Regina nods and looks at the boys, playing quietly in another part of the room. Her smile softens as she watches them play and laugh together.
"So, will he be starting tomorrow?" Mrs. Porter asks.
Regina's attention is drawn back to the teacher and says, "I'm not sure, I'll have to discuss that with Principal Hubbard. I had the paperwork drawn up earlier this week and he'll be set to start soon. Probably later this week, depending on what the principal thinks." Mrs. Porter nods and Regina smiles, "Thank you for meeting with us tonight."
"Of course! Roland seems like a wonderful child, I can't wait to have him in my class."
Regina can't help the smile that takes over her face once again, "Thank you Mrs. Porter."
"Jane. Thank you, I do appreciate this."
She nods, "Absolutely. I'm so excited!" She practically bounces up and down in excitement, "Oh! Here," she pauses to grab a piece of paper off of her desk, "here's my email and cell phone number. If you need anything, or find out when he'll be starting, just let me know."
"Thank you. Again," Regina adds with a smile. She turns to the boys - her boys, "Alright, boys. Let's head out."
Henry perks up, "Grandma wants us to go straight to Granny's."
Regina sighs and rolls her eyes "Of course she does."
They head out of the school to find Snow waiting in the parking lot, "New car?"
Regina shrugs, "I needed an upgrade."
"It's lovely," she says with a smile. She looks down at the boys, "Well?"
Regina simply stares, unsure of what she's asking.
Snow chuckles and shakes her head, "Ready to go to Granny's?"
"Just one minute, I have to call Zelena." Regina pulls out her cell phone and dials her sister's new phone.
"Hello?" she answers.
"Oh, I didn't wake you, did I?" Regina asks, suddenly upset that she could have interrupted her sister's sleep.
"No, I am just changing Birdie's clothes since she decided to puke on her last outfit."
Regina chuckles, "Well, when you're done we are going to Granny's. Apparently, we have to leave right from the school," she eyes Snow who simply smiles, "Would you like us to pick you up?"
There's a flash of green and there stands Zelena and her daughter. "Magic," Zelena reminds. She might as well have just said "duh" with an eye roll.
Regina sighs and shakes her head, "Let's go." She helps get the boys in and situated while Zelena places her daughter in her carseat. Snow is waiting in her car when Regina and Zelena both climb into the front of the Buick. They follow her to Granny's before unloading from the car and entering the diner.
"Well if it isn't the family of the hour!" Granny says as she moves her way around the counter.
"Granny!" Roland shouts and he takes off toward her.
"Hello there Mr. Roland," she greets as she lifts him in her arms. "Did you have fun in New York?"
"THE MOST!" He shouts before he starts telling her about all of the dinosaurs he saw and about the other exhibits as well as their adventures in the science museum.
The Mills women stand and smile as Roland barely takes a breath before telling Granny about all the people he saw. Regina notices Snow move to the side where David and Neal are waiting in a booth.
"Wow!" Granny says when Roland finally takes a breath, "It sounds like you had a great time." She smiles and pulls Henry into a side-hug, kissing his forehead before setting Roland back on the ground and saying, "It's time to get you all fed! Here, find a table and I'll get you some drinks."
"Ever the mother, Widow Lucas," Regina muses aloud with a smirk. She receives a bark of laughter in response and her smirk grows into a smile.
"We were thinking we could all sit together," Snow starts, drawing attention to herself. "Unless of course you guys would prefer to sit by yourselves, because that's totally fine too. We were just thinking that since...well, since...you know...we're all here together anyway…"
Regina takes pity on her former stepdaughter and says "That would be great." She smiles at Snow and nods at David before following her sister to the table. They all fit nice and cozy and share stories, mostly Regina (and a bit of Zelena) telling stories about their weekend in New York as the boys flit between their seats, the jukebox, and helping Granny.
They have a lovely dinner. Just before dessert, Emma walks in. "Oh hey," she says, pausing on her way to the counter where her to-go cup is waiting. "Welcome back," she offers with a smile.
Roland leans against Regina, unsure of what to think. This is the lady that said she needed to take him away, but then she helped his Gina so he could stay with her. She also knows that weird guy who has no hand and makes his Gina angry. He watches her closely, uneasy.
"Hi Rollie Pollie, how was New York?" she asks with a smile as she comes to stand next to them at the table.
"Don't call him that," Regina says, but there's no bite to it.
Emma smirks, "I see even after vacation you're still tense."
Regina rolls her eyes, "I went on vacation, I didn't become a different person, Miss Swan."
Now it's Emma's turn to scoff, "Really, Regina? We're going to do this?"
But before the women can begin their squabble, Roland says, "Who you?"
Emma pauses, "Me?" When Roland simply stares at her she smiles, "I'm Emma, Roland. I'm Henry's other Mom."
"Two?" He turns to look at Henry.
Henry laughs and nods, "Yup, two moms."
Emma chuckles, "Well, I have to go on shift," she hooks her thumb toward the counter where her coffee cup sits, "so I will see you guys later."
"Go work?" Roland asks. Regina wonders why his sentences are jilted, "whatcha doing?"
"I'm a superhero," Emma says with a smirk. Roland's eyes widen in awe. "But you can't tell anyone, just the people at this table know."
Roland pauses and studies her, "You have no cape."
Henry is the first to crack, laughing aloud. He's got her there.
Emma narrows her eyes at him before looking back at Roland, "Good detective skills, keep working on those. But I can't wear a cape, it gets stuck in my car door. So I wear this jacket." She points to her red leather jacket. "It's better than a cape because it's stylish and keeps me warm late at night."
"That's so cool," Roland whispers in amazement.
She sends him a wink and says, "Well, I'm off to save the world. Take care and good morrow to you all." She bows deeply before turning on her heel, taking her coffee cup and leaving the diner.
After dessert, they make their way back to the mansion where they go about their new routine of baths and bedtimes for the two youngest before Regina and Zelena find themselves in the living room with Henry as he finishes the rest of his homework for tomorrow. Regina sends him to bed and she moves to the study to grab two tumblers with her cider for herself and Zelena to enjoy before they, too, head to bed.
The next morning has Regina and Roland up to watch the sunrise, as usual. Regina has a moment where she wonders if Roland will grow out of these early mornings when he starts his new schedule and then quickly pushes that thought away. She loves these quiet mornings with him, no matter how many cups of coffee she needs to stay awake for the rest of the day.
Together, they wake Henry and make breakfast before getting dressed and dropping Henry off at school. Regina heads into her office to talk with her assistant about what happened since they left for New York. Thankfully, nothing detrimental occurred and there were no break-ins. Amelia hadn't even heard anything from Albert Spencer or his band of lawbreakers.
Regina receives an email from Principal Hubbard inviting her to visit the school with Roland, finalize paperwork and maybe introduce him to his classmates. Regina hopes that her being with Roland for a while in the classroom will encourage him to handle it better on his first day when she has to leave him there.
She helps Amelia sort through some files that she needs to sign, then she looks at her scheduled meetings for the week, and eats a late lunch with Zelena and Birdie after Roland took an early nap. She smiles at the thought of him snoozing peacefully after such a long weekend. Regina and Zelena talk quietly as Roland plays on the floor with his sister and her toys. "Is it alright that I put you down as an emergency contact for Roland?" Regina asks out of the blue.
Zelena looks startled, "Emergency contact?"
"Yes, so if Roland were to get sick at school or something were to happen and I could not be reached, they would call you."
"Really?" Zelena asks dubiously.
Regina lets out a chuckle at her sister's disbelief, "Yes, really. Is it too weird? Should I write in someone else?" Regina feels guilty for trying to thrust this on her sister, maybe she doesn't want that kind of responsibility, or maybe she doesn't want to have to worry about Roland.
Before Regina can lose herself in her thoughts Zelena says, "I would be honored, Regina. I- I guess you just caught me off guard. That's a lot of responsibility and trust you're giving to me."
A soft smile takes over Regina's face as she leans across the desk and wraps Zelena's hand in hers, "I trust you, Zelena. I know you'll do what you can to help us." Zelena returns the smile and blinks rapidly to keep the tears at bay. They share a watery chuckle and go back to watching the children while Regina finishes her paperwork.
After lunch (and playtime with Birdie), Zelena and her daughter head back to the mansion to rest while Regina and Roland head back to the school. They meet with Principal Hubbard, whose trusty dog, Colonel, was sleeping at her feet. Regina discusses paperwork and semantics surrounding Roland's start to school before being escorted by Principal Hubbard and Colonel to Mrs. Porter's room.
Roland does surprisingly well. He interacts with a few of his classmates and even leaves Regina's lap a few times to play or explore. He is still very aware of her presence and constantly watching her movements, but it's progress.
They agree that Roland starting tomorrow would be best. Hopefully, everything will go smoothly and Regina will even be able to get a few hours in at work.
Regina and Roland head back to the mansion. They enjoy some time outside with Zelena and Birdie before eating dinner and heading to the store to pick up some school supplies for Roland. He was so excited to pick out crayons and found a dinosaur pencil case that he just had to have. After they finish purchasing his supplies, they head to Granny's for some celebratory ice cream. Henry joins them, finally done with his homework and having dinner with his other mother and Hook. they all celebrate with bowls of ice cream, thank Granny, and go home where they get ready to sleep. After all, tomorrow was going to be a big day.
Roland hardly slept. He was restless, constantly moving around Regina's bed, waking her every time he flipped over. Eventually, Regina sighs and gets out of bed, Roland will be up soon anyway; and if she's being completely honest, she wasn't really sleeping anyway. She was too nervous. The same thing happened when Henry started school. She was worried about how he would react to being in school. She wasn't sure how Roland would handle her absence. She just wanted him to do well. Hopefully, this would be a positive step in the right direction. His anxiety won't end overnight, but school should help with this. Regina just hopes she can hold together and show she's not as nervous as she is. She needs to be strong for Roland. She needs to make this as easy as possible for him.
They can do this.
Roland is up within the hour. When he notices Regina is already awake and leaning against her headboard, he smiles and crawls onto her lap, resting his head over her heart. They chat quietly as Regina tries to prepare him for the day ahead. He seems unsure about Regina leaving him but at least he's not screaming. Yet.
She can't think that way, so instead they head downstairs to watch the sunrise before waking Henry and making breakfast.
Roland decides he wants to look his best for her first day, so he's a little upset when he is told he has to wear a uniform but relents when he sees Henry wearing the same thing, and Regina promises to bring him another button up shirt - this time mint - and pairs it with a new pair of gray jeans that he tells Regina will make him very fast when he wears his converse high tops. Regina smiles and helps him dress before she readies herself with a flick of her wrist. She sends him downstairs to grab his backpack (already packed) and his lunch box. He then asks Regina to help him tie his shoes before she grabs her own bag, coffee, and keys. Henry makes his way down the steps, dragging his backpack behind him. Regina smiles at her half-asleep son and brushes his wayward hair away from his face, "Good morning, dear," she says as she hands him his cocoa and shoos him out the door.
They make it to school with time to spare. Henry has finished his cocoa and wipes at his face as he steps out of the car. He kneels next to Roland before they get to the building, "I'm going to be just down the hall from you, okay Ro? I'll see you at recess and again right after lunch. I want to know all about kindergarten, got it?" When Roland nods, Henry puts out his fist to bump. He sends a wink at Roland before he stands and moves toward his friends, offering a final wave as he starts into the school with his friends.
Regina takes Roland into the building, holds his hand and leads him toward the kindergarten room. They pass Snow, who offers a "good morning" and wishes Roland a wonderful first day, saying she'll be keeping an eye on him, calming both Regina and Roland. They stop in the open doorway to Mrs. Porter's room. There are children rushing around, excited to see their friends again. Roland steps closer to Regina as he sees all of the other children chasing each other.
"Good morning class," Mrs. Porter greets, getting everyone's attention. "It's time to start our day, can you find your spots on the rainbow rug?" The children all rush to their squares on the carpet near the front of the room. Mrs. Porter smiles at Roland and Regina before moving to stand in front of the other children. "We have a new friend joining us today." She motions for Regina and Roland to move closer, which causes Regina to take a few steps into the room, careful not to step on Roland as he attempts to use her as a human shield, separating him from his new classmates. "This here is Roland, he's new here and is excited to meet all of our friends in class. Can you all say hello to Roland and to Ms. Mills?"
A chorus of "Hi Roland," and "Hi Ms. Mills," rings throughout the room, causing Regina to smile and say "hello" back. Roland merely hides himself from his classmates and clings tightly to Regina's legs. She smiles and moves his arms away from her legs so she can squat down to his level. Mrs. Porter has begun class and the children are enthralled as they discuss what day it is and what the weather is like outside.
"Roland," Regina whispers. When he looks at her with wide eyes, she smiles and kisses his forehead, "Would you like to go sit by your classmates?" His forceful head shake makes her chuckle and says, "I think you'll have a lot of fun here, Roland. These new friends are so excited to play with you. You'll play games and listen to Mrs. Porter tell stories, play outside and eat your snacks before I come back to get you. How does that sound?"
"Gina no go," he says as he juts his lip out in protest.
Her heart cracks, how can she leave this boy when he's obviously scared?
"How about we make a deal? Would you like to make a deal with me?" Roland gives her a questioning look, so she begins her proposition. "How about you stay here for one hour, and I come back to eat lunch with you." Lunch is much longer than an hour away, but he's four and doesn't know how to tell time yet. Hopefully, he doesn't learn how to do that today.
Roland thinks for a minute and says, "Gina come back?"
Regina pulls this sweet, little boy into her arms and kisses his cheek, "Of course I'm coming back, Sweetie. I'll miss you too much to wait until after school. But if you can stay with Mrs. Porter and her friends, I'll be back to eat lunch with you."
"Really?" Last night they had talked about Roland staying at school all day like Henry while Regina went to work. His biggest concern was not seeing Regina for a whole day and he said he was going to miss her too much. Hopefully, this will be enough for him to make it through the morning without incident.
Regina nods, causing Roland to beam at her before he throws his arms around her neck, squeezing her tight. "Alright dear, why don't you go by Mrs. Porter and she'll tell you where to sit."
Just then, Mrs. Porter says, "Alright class, let's move to our desks and pull out our morning books." The children all scurry from the floor to their desks. She makes her way to Regina and Roland and holds out her hand, "Would you like to follow me to your desk Roland? I can show you where your morning book is and we'll get started with the rest of the class."
He looks nervously at Regina and she whispers, "I'll see you at lunch, Sweetie." He smiles and takes Mrs. Porter's hand as she waves to Regina and steers toward his desk. Regina can't help but feel like her chest is closing in, maybe Roland's not ready to start school. Is it Roland who isn't ready or is it Regina? She's not sure but she just hopes this isn't a mistake.
"It gets easier," a voice says from next to Regina.
She startles, so lost in her own thoughts that she missed the fact that someone was approaching her. "I'm sorry?" she asks.
The teaching aide smiles softly, "The drop-offs," she explains, "They get easier. Soon you'll drop him off and he won't even know you're gone."
Regina sighs and offers a sad smile to the teaching aide, "That's what I'm afraid of." The aide doesn't get a chance to reply before Regina says, "If anything happens, Mrs. Porter has my cell phone number as well as my work number. I'll be back to check on him at lunch." She slips out the door and does her best not to look back.
She's barely in the office half an hour before her phone rings.
She jumps and quickly answers, "Hello?"
"Mrs. Mills?" A voice asks, "We seem to have hit a roadblock-"
The secretary doesn't have the chance to finish her sentence before she magicks herself into the office, "What's wrong?" she asks immediately.
"It's Roland-" the secretary starts again before Regina vanishes and appears outside the building, where her magic led her to Roland. She sees him screaming as his teaching assistant attempts to soothe him by holding him in her arms. Henry is there too, trying to talk to Roland, who is trying his hardest to get out of the aide's arms.
"Roland?" Regina asks as she makes her way across the playground.
"GINA!" he screams as he manages to wiggle out of the arms holding him and takes off running toward Regina.
She swoops down and lifts him into her arms as he sobs into her neck, "What happened?" she asks the aide when she stops next to her.
"Honestly? I have no idea," she answers. "One minute we're playing a game outside and the next minute, he's screaming and won't stop." She offers a shrug, but keeps scanning the playground, mentally counting all of the children present.
Regina looks at the sobbing boy in her arms and sighs, Pause. Validate. Label. Empathize. Just like Dr. Hopper said. "What game were you playing, Roland?" she asks softly, rubbing her hand up and down his back. She counts to ten. Roland mumbles something into her shoulder. Pause. "What dear?" she asks, unable to understand his grunts.
"Don't wanna stay," he mumbles, a little more coherently.
"You don't want to stay with your new friends?" Regina asks, unsure of what happened in the last hour. Roland shakes his head and clings tightly to Regina's neck. Validate. She knows she's not keeping him here any longer. She sees Mrs. Porter make her way across the playground as she catches her aide's attention and they switch spots.
When Mrs. Porter stops next to them and smiles at Roland, "Can you tell us what happened Roland?" she asks quietly.
He shakes his head but clings tighter to Regina, "Gina no go," he says adamantly.
Mrs. Porter nods as if his explanation gave us the entire story, "I believe they were playing hide and go seek. He was having a hard time finding them," Henry says, drawing attention to himself.
"He doesn't like when people disappear," Regina whispers, her heart breaking for the little boy whimpering in her arms. "Roland, love, it's okay to be scared, but I need you to talk to me." Label.
"He may not be ready for a full day just yet," Mrs. Porter muses aloud. "Maybe we can work together to get him into a full schedule by the fall. School's almost out anyway, and he's young, not even five yet, he won't even be the oldest kid if he starts in kindergarten next year." Off of Regina's odd look she elaborates, "I'm not sure how far to push his security net. I don't want to push him too far. It's possible that he would benefit from a slower integration, an hour, then two hours, and so on. We could even set him up in the summer school program where he could have a chance to meet some of his peers, and it's only a few hours for a couple weeks. Hopefully by then, he'll be a little more comfortable around others, or it would be a really great place to start building up to full days by September."
Regina nods thoughtfully, "That's a good idea, Mrs. Porter," she acknowledges, offering a smile. Empathize. "I was scared when I started classes too," she says to Roland, who is still hiding in her neck.
"Really?!" she shouts, causing Regina to raise an eyebrow at her. She nervously chuckles and says, "Sorry, I'll go ahead and email you the summer school schedule and give you time to look it over at home. It doesn't need to be returned for another week or two, but the sooner you get the paperwork turned in, the sooner you'll know his daily schedule. I'll even talk to Dr. Hubbard and see what we can do about modifying a schedule for Roland, make it easier on him to adjust."
"I would appreciate that, Mrs. Porter," she says with a smile. She turns to see her son standing nearby looking uncomfortable. "Thank you for trying, Henry," she offers with a sad smile.
"He was just screaming, Mom, Mrs. Frosch tried to help but nothing could. He just kept screaming. I thought he was going to pass out, he wasn't breathing."
"I know, Sweetie," Regina soothes as she runs a hand through his hair, "It's scary, but we'll get through it. He'll be alright." She takes a deep breath and says, "I know this has been a lot for you, but do you think you can go back to class? Will you be able to focus?"
Henry offers a smirk, "Do I have a choice?"
Regina chuckles, "Not really." Off of Henry's groan she says, "But we can do something fun tonight, I think we'll all need something fun tonight."
"Like order pizza?" Henry asks sweetly.
She smiles and nods, "Sure."
"Hear that, Ro?" Henry asks with a chuckle, "We can eat pizza and maybe even watch a movie."
Roland says nothing, simply staying hidden against Regina's neck. Regina sighs, "It'll happen, Henry. I'll pick you up after school, okay?"
Henry sighs but shakes his head, "Grandma said she'd bring me home. She said she wanted to talk to you after school, but now that Ro isn't going to stay, she'll want to bring me home and see you."
Regina nods, "Of course. Let me know if that changes and you need me to pick you up."
Henry nods and smiles, "Will do. Bye Mom. Bye Ro," he says as he rubs his back. "See you later, Little Dude."
"Goodbye Henry," Regina says with a smile. "Mrs. Frosch," she calls, drawing attention to the young woman. When she has her attention, "Thank you, for trying to help. And I'm sorry about the difficulty."
"No worries, Madam Mayor. But please, call me Tiana." She smiles when Regina nods, "I hope Roland is alright. I'm sorry I couldn't help more, but it sounds like we might see him again soon for our summer school program. Let me know if there's anything you need from myself or Mrs. Porter." She smiles and tries to catch Roland's eyes, "See you later, Roland," and with a wave, she heads toward the doors.
Regina turns to see Mrs. Porter, lining up her class to head back inside. They exchange waves and Regina turns away, walking with Roland around the corner of the building. She walks away from the building, away from the school, down the street and toward the center of the town. She doesn't say anything, simply walks with Roland held tightly in her arms. She finds herself walking down the street and into Granny's.
"Well, hello there, Madam Mayor," Ashley greets.
Granny peaks her head out of the kitchen window. She starts to say something before clicking her teeth together and says, "Why don't you two have a seat, I'll bring you some breakfast."
Regina carries Roland to the back booth and slides into the seat, facing the entrance. She doesn't say anything, simply holds Roland close and sighs, rubbing his back while she waits for Granny to bring out their breakfast. Ashley brings over a coffee and a glass of juice; she gives a sad smile before moving back behind the counter.
Of all the things that could have happened, Emma Swan showing up was the last thing she hoped for. Yet here they were. She notices Emma before Emma sees her in the back. But that didn't last long. As soon as she's spotted, Regina sends out a pulse of magic. It's enough to shock Emma. Her eyes open wide, ready to call Regina out on the use of magic but she sees a glare on her face and protective arms wrapped tightly around Roland, who seems to be clinging to her like a life preserver. Her face falls but she nods, acknowledging Regina. She turns to grab her coffee and bearclaw from Ashley, sends a silent wave, and leaves the diner.
Regina continues to sip her coffee. Roland had fallen asleep. Regina noticed before they walked into the diner but she knows he exhausted himself with his breakdown. She should have known he wasn't ready to start school. She let the idea of "perfect" and "normal" overwhelm her and allowed herself to ignore the warning signs. She should have known better.
Before she can start berating herself too much, Granny walks over with a bowl of oatmeal for Regina and a waffle covered in whipped cream and strawberries for Roland. She slides into the seat across from Regina and says, "What happened?"
Regina sighs and sets down her coffee mug which Ashley quickly refills on her way passed their table. "I honestly don't know what exactly happened. What I do know is that when I left, he went with Mrs. Porter - without tears. An hour later, he's kicking and screaming. He wouldn't even let Henry talk to him. He was a wreck. I showed up and he immediately ran at me and hasn't loosened his grip since. We were able to piece together that he was possibly playing hide and seek. I don't know if he had some sort of flashback but he became inconsolable. And now we're here." She rubs her hand up and down Roland's back, watching Granny and waiting for her reaction. Preparing herself for the severe tongue-lashing on how she screwed up.
It doesn't happen. Instead Granny sighs, "I'm so sorry, Regina. He's struggling with people leaving. You did the right thing trying to start him in school. I just wish he was ready. Hopefully he'll be ready by September."
Regina looks at her in shock, "That's it?"
"What's it?" Granny asks, equally confused.
"That's all you have to say? No reprimand on how I pushed him too far? Or on the fact that I wasn't paying enough attention to Roland and his emotions? What about why I was so adamant about sending him to school?"
Granny gives her an odd look, even more confused than before. "Of course not," she says, "you couldn't have known that he would have some sort of episode. Yes, you knew he was having a hard time being without you, but you had to try. And now you know. Now you can learn from it. You have a starting point. We can all work together throughout the summer to work up his time away from you so he can possibly be ready for full days at school." Regina's shocked, this was not what she was planning. Granny merely shakes her head, "Regina, I'm not sure what you were expecting, but you're a great mother. There's no way you could have known this would happen. You could not have known this would occur." She offers a smile, "But let's not focus on that; let's look at the rest of today. What are your plans?"
Regina has no idea, "I don't think I have any. I wanted to get some work down before I had lunch with Roland at school. I suppose I'll take him to City Hall with me like we've been doing for the last few weeks."
Granny nods, "Maybe you could try leaving him with someone you trust for an hour or so, with plenty of explaining before hand. That way Roland would know you'd be coming back and also that he was with someone he trusts, even for a little while."
"Is that your way of offering to watch Roland?" Regina asks with a smile.
This pulls a chuckle from deep within Granny, "You know I'd never say no to the chance to spend time with that cute kid." She smiles at Roland, who is still laying against Regina.
Regina runs a hand through Roland's hair. "Roland, would you like to eat your waffle before it gets cold?"
Roland sits up and looks at Regina. She brushes her hand against his cheek and smiles. He smiles back and slides off her lap to sit next to her. He sees Granny and leans against Regina, "Gina no go."
"Sweet boy," Regina says as she wraps her arm around him and kisses the top of his head, "I'm not going anywhere. And Granny makes delicious waffles. Make sure you say thank you because she made your favorite."
"With extra cream," he says with a big smile, teeth and all. Both women grin and watch as Roland begins eating his breakfast.
Regina picks at her oatmeal and chats quietly with Granny. Roland is mostly silent, choosing to enjoy his waffle and not talk. He's still pretty exhausted from all the sobbing, that little catnap didn't do much for his energy to return. They thank Granny, leave a tip, and head back to City Hall.
Regina lets Zelena know what happened and she promises to bring their lunch, like usual. The rest of the day is back to normal, like most of their days in the past weeks. This "normalcy" continues for the rest of the week - waking up before the sun, taking Henry to school, spending time in Regina's office, lunch with Zelena, naptime in her office, going home to play outside, and eating dinner with everyone together before bedtime - until Friday night. Regina is told to meet Henry outside Granny's and that's where she finds him, standing with Snow, David, and Neal. Roland is clinging to her hand tightly, but is smiling at Snow when she waves at him. Together, with the Charmings, Henry, Birdie, her sister, and Roland, they all walk into the diner.
It's beautiful. There are streamers and balloons and a banner that says Roland Xavier Mills. Regina's eyes fill with tears. Puzzle pieces cover everything: the banner, the decorations on the wall saying love you to pieces, the puzzle piece cake that says the perfect fit, cupcakes and cookies in the shape of puzzle pieces. And then there are the pictures. They're everywhere. Tons of pictures of Roland and Henry, a lot of them with various poses and facial expressions. Pictures of Roland and Birdie. She even sees a few pictures of Roland and Zelena. But mostly, she sees pictures of herself with Roland. Pictures of them sleeping, all cuddled up. Pictures of them sightseeing in New York. Pictures of them playing and laughing together. When were these even taken? All of the pictures are recent and include their entire family. The five of them and even Granny appears in a couple pictures. She smiles at the photos portraying their tiny family. The selfies and photos taken by Henry, and a few must have been taken by Zelena. Her heart is happy. Selfies from their trip to Portland, Roland and Henry before going to school, everyone before and after their paperwork was filed, sightseeing selfies in the city, and Regina, her sons, and her niece while stuck in an airport waiting for their delayed flight. Regina didn't know this pictures existed, but she's so happy they do.
But nothing makes her happier than seeing Roland Xavier Mills above the cake on the wall.
Roland. Xavier. Mills.
Her new baby. Her new son. She keeps looking back at the sign and her smile is getting bigger and bigger. Granny walks in from the kitchen, carrying a roaster full of roast beef. "Roland," Regina says, gaining the young boy's attention. "Do you have anything to say to Granny?"
His face lights up, "Thank you!" He squeals as he jumps up and down in place. He turns to look at Regina, "Can I have some cake now?"
Regina chuckles, "Not yet, Sweetie. We need to make sure everyone gets here and eats. Then we can have cake."
Roland groans but turns his attention to where Henry and Zelena seem to be chatting quietly. Regina's suddenly worried about what shenanigans they were planning.
People begin to arrive shortly after. Kathryn and Jim show up, giving big hugs and even bigger presents. Townspeople continue to filter in to celebrate. They love to party more than they love to hate Regina. They're here to eat roast beef and cake; and celebrate with their benevolent king and queen - The Charmings.
Everything is going well, everyone is having a good time, mingling and laughing. That is, until Emma and the pirate showed up.
"Hey guys," she says awkwardly with a wave.
Regina sighs but puts up a hand and waves. She looks over to see Roland standing on a chair by the counter, Henry standing next to him as they look into the display case filled with puzzle piece cupcakes. She smiles at her boys, discussing their favorite flavor they want to try tonight. She sees them share a laugh, Henry shaking his head at something Roland said; he's in his prime, being a big brother. Her heart warms.
Henry notices his other mother and he tenses, but offers a smile and a wave from across the diner. Roland notices and turns to see Emma and Hook. Regina sees his eyes widen and he quickly looks to Regina. She sends him a smile as she stands next to Kathryn.
"Are you going to be alright?" she asks her brunette friend.
Regina looks at her and smiles, "Of course. I'm with my family. Everyone can come to celebrate."
"Okay, who are you and what have you done with my best friend?" Kathryn asks with a chuckle.
Regina smirks and shakes her head, "Very funny."
Kathryn lifts her elbow to bump against Regina's arm with a laugh of her own, "It's good to see you smiling Regina. I don't think you've stopped all evening."
"It's been longer than that," Regina replies as she watches her boys. Roland jumps into Henry's arms and they spin once before Henry puts him on the ground and he sprints at Regina.
"Thank the Gods you started wearing flats," Kathryn says as Regina lifts Roland into her arms.
Regina laughs but turns her full attention to Roland, who starts talking about the red cupcake he wants to try after he eats his roast beef.
"I'm hungry, Gina," he says with a sigh.
She chuckles, "Let's get you some food, then." Together, waving to Kathryn, they head over to the table overflowing with food.
They pass Granny who smiles and tickles Roland under his chin. He laughs aloud and pushes her arm away, "Granny," he shouts. She laughs and waves at him and Regina keeps walking.
"Hey Rollie Pollie," Emma greets as she comes to stand next to them.
Regina gives her an odd look but merely shakes her head at Emma as Roland stands on his own and takes her hand, smiling at Emma.
"I gotcha a present," she says with a smile. "You wanna open it?"
Roland looks at Regina before looking back to Emma, "Gina says not till after cake."
Emma looks at Regina and shrugs. Regina narrows her eyes but nods, "If it's that important Miss Swan, Roland can open one present. Just this one," she says, directing her attention to Roland.
He nods in understanding and takes the bag from Emma and sets it on the ground. He pulls out a tiny leather jacket. Roland gasps and looks at Emma. "Your very own superhero jacket. Better than a cape," she adds with a wink.
"Can I wear it?" he asks as he looks at Regina.
She laughs and nods, helps him to put the jacket on over his gray t-shirt that says Mills inside a puzzle piece. Every Mills has one. Regina, Zelena, Henry, and even Robin has a tiny gray onesie like their shirts, paired with a pink tutu. The others are wearing jeans with their shirts, and now Roland has a black leather jacket on top, completing his superhero look. "What do you say to Emma?" Regina whispers as she finishes setting his jacket so it's not wrinkled.
"Thank you Emma!" he screams as he hugs her legs.
"You're welcome Roland. That's not all, I have this for you as well." She pulls out a junior deputy badge. "It's no superhero mask, but it makes you a detective. You can solve crimes too."
"Really?!" Roland asks, bouncing up and down.
Emma chuckles and hooks the badge on his belt loop. "There you go, dude."
"Mom," Henry says to get there attention, Emma still kneeling next to Roland. "Stay next to Roland, I wanna get your picture. The best police force in town," he says with a smile.
"The only police force in town," Regina says with a smirk.
Henry laughs and takes the photo of Roland beaming and Emma looking offended off screen. He takes another when she turns back and smiles. When she stands, he takes another. Now you can see them both in their jeans and jackets, badges on their hips. "Perfect."
"Great, now we can leave?" Hook asks from his spot brooding in the corner.
"Killian," Emma admonishes.
"What? You said we had to give the gift. We have, now we can leave." He stands and motions toward the door.
Regina rolls her eyes but attempts to usher Roland away from the pirate and toward Kathryn and Granny. "Thank you for setting this all up," she says as she moves away from the bickering couple next to the door. Henry moves next to her, nervously checking on his blonde mother.
Kathryn and Granny smile, "Of course," they reply.
"Mom, I don't like this," Henry says as he looks at his mom and Hook.
"I know, but we can't step in. Emma's too independent for that," she answers honestly.
"But keep watch, I still have my crossbow if things get too heated," Granny says with a nod and moves behind the counter, pretending to look at all the food. Regina sends Roland and Henry to the jukebox, telling them to pick a song.
Regina stands next to Kathryn, listening to Killian and Emma argue.
"We don't need this, Swan," Killian insists. "Let's go, just you and me. You can make dinner. It'll be a quiet night in, just the two of us."
"Killian. We're here to celebrate with Regina. Roland is staying, he's safe, and now Regina is happy. We could all use a reason to celebrate. Let's do that. We're with our friends now."
"No," Killian shouts, drawing everyone's attention. He lowers his voice, but almost everyone is listening to them now. "These are your friends, Swan. And we can celebrate in our own way," Regina tries not to gag as he waggles his eyebrows and attempts to wrap an arm around Emma. "Why do we need to celebrate for her? She is the Evil Queen, remember? She doesn't deserve happiness." Regina pretends it doesn't sting when he says this. He is an asshole, he tried to kill her. She tries to ignore it, but it still hurts.
"Killian," Emma gasps and steps back. "You are not the only person worthy of redemption. And we're here for Roland. His happiness and his sense of safety is important. That's what we're celebrating. Now stop this, we're here to celebrate. We can do that for a while."
"I never get to see you anymore, Swan. You're always gone. Always with everyone else," he whines.
Regina can't help the eye roll. So needy, she thinks.
Emma releases a sigh, "I have family and friends here, Killian. I can see them too. But I always come home to you," she offers with a smile.
"It's not enough," he spits. "It'll never be enough. I will never be enough for you, Swan."
"Oh my god," Regina groans and shakes her head, causing Kathryn to chuckle.
"Killian," Emma exasperates, "It's all of us, together, that make a family. I can't leave that."
"Can't? Or won't?" He spits out. Before Emma can respond he says, "I've done everything for you. For us, Swan. That kid shouldn't even be here. If you would've just taken him to child services, we would be fine. It's us, Swan. Without the boy, we'd be better together."
"What are you talking about?" Emma asks.
"You should just follow orders, Swan. You should've taken that kid away from her right away."
"Killian, please don't say what I think you're going to say," Emma warns.
"I had papers, Pirate," Regina says, finally stepping into the conversation. She notes Henry holding Roland with Granny in front of them, holding her crossbow.
"Had. But once they were gone, you had nothing."
"You didn't," Regina says confused. "You couldn't."
"I could. And I did," he said puffing up his chest.
"Not alone. There's no way. Your stench would have been everywhere."
"I helped with that," a voice says from the doorway.
Regina turns and sees a small woman with wild hair and wild eyes. "And who would you be?" she asks with a raised eyebrow.
"Madam Mim," she announces with a grandiose bow.
"You weren't here in any of the curses," Regina claims, without question.
"Correct!" she says as she lifts her pointer finger into the air.
"How did you get here?" Regina asks the woman in front of her.
"A boat," she says simply.
"It's a ship," Hook says gruffly.
"Whatever," this Mim says. "I've been in town since, keeping a low profile. You know, flying low to the radar. However you say it here," she shrugs, "Anyways, I suppose I made a few friends in the wrong crowd, always my favorite crowd to be in," she adds off-handedly. "And started selling my services." When no one says anything she sighs, "Aren't you going to ask me about those services?" Silence. "Ugh, fine, I'll tell you anyway. I can change. Into a snake," the woman leaves and in her place is a hissing snake. The woman is back, "Into a chicken," a chicken takes her place. The woman returns, "Into anything really. Even a fly that leaves no trace, or a cleaning lady that leaves no residue for your magic to find. And I work for the highest bidder."
"The pirate paid you the most?" Regina asks with skepticism.
"No, he's just the cutest. I helped him because he smuggled me into this magical wonderworld hidden within the Land Without Magic and also because I want to spend more time with him." She smiles and twirls the ends of the frizzy gray hair.
"Ew," Zelena says from her spot beside Regina. She placed Birdie into Kathryn's arms and stepped forward, next to Regina and Kathryn stepped back by Granny and the boys.
"Says the red witch," Mim muses.
"Are you color-blind?" Zelena asks with a ball of green fire in her palm.
Mim giggles and shifts into a snake again. Before she has a chance to change back or move toward them, Regina materializes the magic-blocking cuff and slaps it onto Mim's rattling tail. She flops on her back, once again human.
"That is not fair," she whines to Regina as she tries to take the cuff off.
"I know," she replies with a fake pout, "But I don't play fair. I play to win. Now who the hell is this wannabe witch?" she asks, addressing everyone else in the diner.
"Heyyyyyy," Mim replies, but her voice is cut swiftly when Regina twists her wrist and removes her voice.
"That's not a fair move," Zelena says, holding her hand to her neck, remembering what it felt like to actually lose her voice.
"I know," she repeats with a smile. "Now, does anyone know her?"
"Ummmm," Emma starts, drawing attention to herself. "Well, the only Mim I've ever heard of was in The Sorcerer's Stone with Merlin. Crazy lady that can shape-shift and thinks she's stronger than everyone, including Merlin. I'm pretty sure she flies on a broomstick too," she gives an embarrassed look toward Zelena.
"It doesn't matter. She's leaving. I'm kicking her out. Out of city limits." Regina is not budging on this. "And I'm doing the same for that damned pirate. Thinking he can come back from the dead repeatedly and then decides to tempt fate by hurting an innocent child."
"Now, Regina. Be reasonable," Emma starts.
"Be what?" Regina asks in disbelief.
"You know what?" Henry asks, stepping in between his mothers. "Maybe Hook can take a walk? And you can get him when we've all cooled off?"
"That might be a good idea," Emma says, looking uneasy.
"What?!" Hook asks, outraged.
"Yeah, that sounds like that best solution for everyone," Emma explains.
"But-" Hook starts.
"No Hook. You've done too much to count. But this is too far. I can't allow this to continue."
"Oh, Roland is the line?" Zelena mocks. "Not kidnapping and torture? What about electric shock? That's not too far? What about going on a temper tantrum rampage and attempting to kill EVERYONE?! No? Okay, just want to make sure we're all on the same page."
"Zelena," Regina starts, ready to reprimand her sister. Although she's not wrong.
"No, don't you dare try to silence me. Everyone in this ridiculous town pretends this Savior is some kind of god among us. Well, newsflash, she's done some shit worse than what I did in Oz. I, at least, didn't drag everyone to Hell to save some Jackass that had LITERALLY JUST TRIED TO KILL US. But what really gets me, is that she still claims to be "good." That sure doesn't sound "good" to me. Sending a torture survivor on some manhunt to save her torturer? And then bringing said torturer back to life on the day we're celebrating Robin's life? Uh-uh. No way. I know this town is full of fairy tale characters but even this is too much bullshit. I refuse to accept this shit. Throw the pirate into the ocean and hope is mermaid victims take care of him." She points a glare at him when he doesn't back down from his angry-man-position as he tries to use his size to intimidate her. "Gods, don't you just want to PUNCH him sometimes?" She looks to Emma, "I honestly can't believe you stayed with him this long. And don't talk to me about the guilt you feel about whatever his situation is. You sped up my pregnancy for your own gain. And no, I haven't forgiven you for that. The only reason I haven't gotten my revenge is because you're important to my nephew, and my love for him is stronger than anything I could ever feel toward you. But the pirate?" She brings her attention back to Hook, "Well," she adds a wicked grin, "Henry has apparently never felt more than obligatory affection due to his mother and her guilt or whatever it is she feels for you. And now that you've attempted to tear apart his family time and time again, he wants you gone. And I am all too happy to oblige." She lifts her hand in the air and steps toward Hook.
"Enough," Regina says, holding her hand up.
Zelena pauses and says, "You can't be serious. After all he's done? After all he's taken from us?"
Regina just shakes her head, looking haggard. "Just…" she sighs, "just let him go; take him over the line."
"You realize he'll just come back here if we let him go scot-free, right?"
Regina shakes her head and materializes a scroll in her hand. "This used to allow people into Storybrooke. It can probably be modified so that he'll never be able to find his way back here."
"No!" He shouts for the first time. Regina had put a silencing spell on him when he was trying to interrupt Zelena's tirade. It must have slipped when she was talking with Zelena. It warmed her heart to have someone care so much for her, she just wished it wasn't here in front of so many people - she will have to hug her sister later. Unfortunately, Hook continues on his rant, "Swan, look, I know I messed up, but I did it for us. Without that brat, we could've moved forward. You felt too guilty to truly love me with him in the way. If he's gone, you wouldn't have felt so guilty about killing that thief. We could have moved on. Just you and me. By getting rid of him, I was helping us get to our best future."
Emma shakes her head, tears in her eyes. "There was never just a you and me. I have Henry. I have a family. And-" she pauses to look at Regina. She takes a deep breath before turning back to Hook, "I had friends, until you took me away from them. Zelena's right," Zelena shows the surprise on her face as she looks to her sister in shock, but Regina's still caught up in Emma's speech, "I have done some very questionable things lately and I need to try and make up for them, if that's even possible. But I constantly chose you over everyone else, I thought that's how relationships worked, I've never really been in a healthy one, but I was wrong. You shouldn't have wanted me separated from the people that care about me. You took me away from everyone I care about. You've gone too far time after time, and now I'm done. We're done. I can't continue like this."
"Swan, don't say that. We were good. Come with me. We can begin again, away from Storybrooke, away from all these distractions."
Emma shakes her head, "Unbelievable. These people are my family. I have a life here. A good one, or...it was good before...maybe it can be good again."
"You went to Hell for me!" Hook shouts, "That means something! You love me!"
"I felt guilty. I didn't want you to die because of me. But I can't allow guilt to drive me into a toxic relationship any longer. It's hurting my family, not just me. I can't let that go on." She shakes her head and looks at Regina, "Ready?" she asks sounding exhausted.
Regina simply nods and looks to Hook. She steps up into his face, "Enjoy your next trip to Hell because no one's coming back to save you."
"Die, Witch. I should've killed you when I had the chance. I was so close. I couldn't kill you before, but it didn't work. Then I tried to take away your family thinking you would back back to your evil ways, allowing me to step in and save the day. I even tried to make Henry doubt you, push him away from you and send you closer to the edge; closer to making you disappear forever. I was so close," He makes to continue but Regina steals his voice again.
Regina releases a deep breath and runs both hands through her hair. She puts the scroll in her hand and raises another. "Zelena?" she asks, making eye contact with her sister.
"I would be honored," she says with a smirk. Hook and Mim are encased in green magic before they disappear, swallowed by green smoke.
Regina sighs and looks behind her to see Kathryn and Granny protecting her sons and niece.
"Gina!" Roland screams and is finally released from Granny and Henry.
She sinks down to her knees and catches him in her arms. "It's alright, Roland. Everything is alright."
"Moms?" Henry asks, unsure of his approach.
"Henry," Regina sighs, standing to wrap an arm around him. She lets go and allows Emma to hug him.
"I'm so sorry," she hears Emma whisper.
Henry shrugs without responding, "What now?"
"We're going to send them away," Regina responds, holding Roland tight. "It won't take long." She turns her attention to the boy in her arms, "Roland?" When he looks up at her she smiles, "Can you stay with Granny and Kathryn to help cut the cake and pick your favorite piece?"
Roland smiles at the thought of cake, but then his eyebrows draw together, "No go," he pouts.
"I'll be gone for two minutes," she promises. "You'll stay here with Granny and Henry. I need you to stay with Kathryn and Birdie, in case your sister gets scared. Can you be a big helper for Kathryn?"
Roland looks unsure but sees Henry smiling, so he nods.
"Wonderful. You're the best helper, Roland." She smiles and kisses his cheek, "I'll be back in two minutes. Then we can eat some cake before bedtime."
Roland's eyes light up at the thought of cake. She sets him down and Granny sends her a smile as she puts her crossbow in a safe place. Regina watches him walk toward her before she nods at Emma and whisks them both away to the town line.
"Were you behaving?" Regina asks with a smirk.
"Of course not," Zelena answers honestly.
"Alright, if all three of us use our magic together, we should be able to block them out and prevent them from ever returning."
"What about memories?" Emma asks.
"What do you mean? Their memories should be intact. Although we could probably remove memories within the spell, but that's a curse all on its own."
"Oh, well, I guess it's no big deal," Emma starts and shrugs.
Regina gives an odd look but brushes it off. "Ready?" she asks toward her sister. Zelena nods, flexing her fingers.
"Swan, don't do this," Hook starts.
"Oops, sorry about that," Zelena says, "Must've gotten distracted enough to lose hold of the silencing spell. All better now."
Regina looks to Emma, "Follow my lead." When Emma nods, she lifts her hand and purple magic flows from her. It's joined with Emma's magic and she feels Zelena's green magic thread through theirs to complete the curse. There's something there, something she can't explain, but Regina ignores it. The scroll blinds in a flash of light. When the light fades, they open their eyes to see Hook and Mim standing on the other side of the town line. Hook begins to shout. Regina doesn't know what to do, Emma is obviously not handling this well, but she's also not the person to be comforting her. She sighs and places a hand on her shoulder. "Let's go," she says quietly. When she receives a nod in response she magicks the three of them back to the diner. She enters and is engulfed in hugs, "Thank goodness you're alright," Snow says as she squeezes Regina. She's released as Snow moves on to hug Zelena, catching the witch off-guard. Charming is next, hugging Regina and asking if she's okay.
"Oh no," Zelena says when she's released from Snow and Charming attempts to hug her next. "I don't do hugs."
"Moms! Aunt Z!" Henry shouts as he runs from the bed and breakfast. He crashes into Zelena first after she moved away from Charming. His arms wrap around her waist, sighing, "You're okay."
Zelena wraps her arms around his shoulders, cradling his head in her hands and kissing the stop of his hair. "Of course."
"Moms!" Henry says as he's released from his aunt and reaches to hug both of his moms.
"Henry," they both say with a smile, hugging him back.
"GINA!" Roland says as he comes running from the back and barrels into Regina.
She swoops him into her arms and hugs him tight. "Hello, Sweet Boy," she says with a smile.
Granny comes from the back, cradling a sleeping Birdie in her arms. Kathryn and Jim are behind her, smiling at those already in diner. "Everything okay?"
"For now," Regina answers honestly. "One mountain has been leveled."
Kathryn smiles and moves closer, running a hand down Roland's back as she reaches to hug her friend, "Let's celebrate today. Tomorrow is a day for other problems, let's celebrate the good from today. Roland is here, he's a Mills, and you've solved the mystery of the Cleaning Lady and the Missing Papers. Those are important things to celebrate."
Regina nods, "You're right. Of course you're right. So let's do that. Cake, anyone?" she offers. Everyone agrees and moves toward the cake. There's only one piece missing, and it's a middle piece. "Henry?" she calls. He hums, but says nothing. "Do you know who might have taken this middle piece of cake?"
"Ummmm...the Spanish Inquisition?" he offers.
"What?" Zelena asks.
"That was unexpected," Kathryn adds.
"That's because NO ONE EXPECTS THE SPANISH INQUISITION," Henry shouts.
Regina sighs and pinches the bridge of her nose.
"Okay, kid," Emma says with a laugh, "No more watching Flying Circus on Youtube."
"Who on earth let you watch Monty Python?" she asks, glaring at Emma.
"Ummmmm, actually," Zelena starts, "Henry told me it was a - oh how did he say it? A life-changing movie and that I had to see it."
"And it changed your life Aunt Z!" Henry shouts in his defense.
Zelena shrugs, "I feel like I could have lived without it." Henry gasps and clutches at his chest over her heart. Zelena rolls her eyes at her nephew's antics and says, "Honestly, I found myself with more questions after the movie than before."
"That's how it's supposed to be!" Henry tries to explain in a tone like duh.
"No more Monty Python for you," Regina says.
"But MOOOOM!" Henry whines, "It's educational. We watched it in school!"
Regina shakes her head, "Yes, but then you went above and beyond to watch that Flying Circus series."
"And it has nothing on the Holy Grail, Mom."
Regina smirks, "Tis' but a scratch," she quotes.
"Your arm's off!" Henry responds.
"No it isn't," she replies, shifting Roland further onto her hip.
"What's that then?" Henry quotes, pointing to the floor next to the cake.
"I've had worse," Regina recites with a shrug.
"You have no arms!" Henry answers, skipping some lines from the scene.
"It's a flesh wound," Regina repeats.
And Henry loses it. He always does at that line. He just sees the black knight from the movie standing without arms, ready to kick the enemy.
"We'll call it a draw," Regina finishes, both imagining the knight propped up without arms or legs as he "decides" to let that other man win their duel.
"Did you guys just nerd out for a minute?" Emma asks when their laughter dies down. "How did I not know you watched Monty Python, Regina?"
Regina shrugs, "I come from a realm that has knights. My kingdom's knights were called the Black Knights. And my son wanted to be a knight for the majority of his life thus far. When I started paying closer attention to what the school was showing the children, I realized how ironic the curse made everything. Learning about knights through comedy was the perfect inside joke for myself for decades."
"Nerd," Emma summarizes.
"Let's just eat the cake. Then we have little kids that need to sleep yet tonight."
"Easy there, old lady," Zelena teases.
"Excuse you, I may be near 70," Regina says regally.
"Maybe?" Zelena scoffs.
"Oh hush," Regina mocks, "you're my older sister, remember?"
"I surely don't look it," Zelena says as she fluffs her hair.
"Or act it," Regina responds with a raised eyebrow. Zelena petulantly sticks her tongue out. "I rest my case," Regina says, proving her point.
"Hey!" Henry says, drawing their attention, "I would just like some cake, please."
Regina chuckles and pats Henry's shoulder, "Alright, dear, let's eat cake."
They eat cake, Roland finishing with frosting all over his face, even getting it on his eyebrows. Regina laughs and clears his face as everyone starts to pack up and leave the diner.
Snow and Charming are the first to leave, Neal hitting his fussy period and needing sleep. Zelena and Birdie are next, Zelena choosing to poof back when Birdie needed a bottle. Kathryn and Jim go after that, claiming they need to clean before going to bed. It sounded like an excuse to Regina, but she merely hugged her friend and bid them goodnight. When they step outside, she turns to see Granny sitting at the table with a sleeping Roland against her chest. Regina smiles, hoping this is a good sign.
"I suppose I'll take him home and get him into bed," Regina says as she steps toward Granny.
"Nonsense," Granny says with a shake of her head. "I can walk to your home and continue with these wonderful snuggles."
Regina sighs, no use arguing with the shewolf, "At the very least, let me get you back so you don't have to walk all the way." Granny smiles and nods as Regina transports her back to the mansion. She turns to Emma and Henry, "Well, let's close up," she offers with a smile.
"What about the mess?" Emma asks. With a flick of Regina's wrist, the leftovers are in the fridge and the counters are clean. "Oh right," Emma asks with a chuckle.
Regina shakes her head but smiles. She motions toward the door and follows Henry and Emma out of the diner, locking the doors behind her. They all stop on the patio where Emma rocks on her heels.
"Mom?" Henry asks. He chuckles when both women turn their heads, "I'm gonna go home with Ma tonight." He looks at Emma and adds, "If that's okay?"
"Of course it's okay, Kid," she says with a smile, "but you don't have to do that. I'll be alright."
Henry shrugs, "I haven't been at your house in a while. I want to spend time with you."
Emma smiles and affectionately ruffles his hair, "Okay, Kid, you got it."
"Henry, why don't you go start Emma's car?" Regina asks.
Henry sees that for what it is, a reason for his moms to talk without him listening. He nods and takes Emma's keys before walking to her car and getting in the passenger seat.
"How are you?" Regina asks once the car door is closed.
"I'm alright," Emma says with a shrug.
"You don't have to lie, you know."
"I shouldn't feel bad; or guilty. And I should be asking you how you are."
Regina shakes her head, "Everyone asks me that. I'm fine. I've been fine. Exhausted, but okay. One fight down, many more to come." Emma gives her a questioning look so she elaborates, "We found out who broke into my home and my office, stealing my papers and my peace of mind. Not to mention how much stress they placed on Roland. But there's so much that still has to be done, particularly Albert Spencer and his band of minions."
"Albert Spencer can go and choke on a giant bag of dicks," Emma states simply.
Regina gives her an odd look before laughing aloud, unable to control it.
Emma smiles, it's the first time she's been the cause of Regina's laughter in a very long time. "I'm glad you enjoyed that."
"I doubt many others would," Regina mused aloud.
"Well, I don't give a flying sugary fuck what any of those bozos think." Regina smiles but shakes her head. Emma shrugs, "For real though, Regina. How are you feeling?"
"It's been a long few weeks."
Emma nods in agreement. "I am sorry for everything I've put you through recently. Tearing your life apart from the very beginning. I know we put a lot of that stuff behind us before, but recently, I made some really shitty choices and most of them hurt you. I want you to know how sorry I am for all of that. For hurting you, everything with Robin and Hades, and everything that happened after that. I know an apology isn't going to fix anything, and I don't expect it to, but I want you to know that I am sorry, and I will spend the rest of forever trying to make it up to you."
Regina's eyes fill with tears. She doesn't have many words, but she gives Emma the softest of smiles - the first of many to come - and whispers, "thank you," before stepping forward and wrapping her in a tight hug. She sighs, holding Emma close. She smiles, "why don't you and Henry join us or breakfast tomorrow?"
"That sounds nice," Emma replies with a smile.
They release each other and smile their biggest smiles, "See you tomorrow."
It's a start. A start on forgiveness, a start on acceptance, a start of something new. Hopefully, it can be a start of a happy beginning. One where they share a son, share a common end game - raising the best son they can.
Regina transports herself back to the mansion after waving goodnight to her oldest son. She smiles when she sees Roland and Granny on the couch, both sound asleep. She gently places a hand on Granny's shoulder, when Granny opens her eyes Regina smiles a soft smile - the same one she gave Emma and Henry earlier. She takes Roland into her arms and starts an argument she's ready to win. "Just stay here, tonight. No need to walk home."
"I am entirely fine to walk, Regina."
"Just because you can, doesn't mean you should have to." Regina repeats the same thing Granny told her the day of Robin's funeral.
Granny can't help the chuckle that escapes her, "You could always poof me home," she reasons.
Regina shakes her head and fakes a yawn, "I'm fairly tired," she responds with a smirk. Granny shakes her head, ready to continue this argument. Regina plays her trump card, "Roland would really enjoy it if you stayed."
Granny groans, "Cheap shot," she mutters.
Regina laughs and says, "There's not a reason for you to leave, I cleaned everything and locked up the diner. Everything will be fine until tomorrow morning."
Granny nods, "Alright, I'll stay."
Regina smirks in triumph. She flicks her wrist, locking everything and allowing the magical spell to strengthen before she heads up the stairs - she knows two of the people that broke into her house and office are gone, but she still wants those with ill-intent to stay away. She sighs, exhausted, and leads Granny to the spare room. "See you in the morning."
"Are Henry and Emma joining us in the morning?" she asks with a sly grin.
Regina stops to give her a confused look before she says, "Yes, they'll be here for breakfast."
Granny's smile grows, "Goodnight, Regina."
"Goodnight, Granny," she responds, using her name instead of Widow Lucas or Shewolf. A great step toward the continuation of their relationship.
Regina heads into her bedroom and closes the door.
Granny stands in the hallway as Zelena opens her door. She turns to the redhead with the biggest grin that shows all her teeth. She holds out her hand looking like a predator looking at it's meal. "Told you," she said as Zelena places money in her hand.
Zelena groans but leaves the money on Granny's palm, "Double or nothing by the end of the week."
"You're on," Granny says with a scoff, "I know what I saw, and it's not going away."
"Your eyes are old, Shewolf. And you're wrong, they've been through too much. Regina doesn't have it in her to forgive like that." Granny merely gives her an unimpressed look. Zelena sighs, "Ugh, I know, that sounded ridiculous even to my ears. But!" she adds before Granny can get too excited, "It will definitely take more than a week," she reasoned.
"We'll see," Granny muses as she steps into the spare bedroom and closes the door, "we'll see."
That night, Regina dreams of her family. She's standing on the front lawn, Zelena is chasing her toddling daughter across the lawn, Granny is rocking on the porch swing laughing as Birdie tries to get to her. Granny lifts her up into her arms and kisses her cheeks until she's a giggling mess. Granny places Birdie back on the ground, to continue her running. She leans back against the porch swing - placed there just for mornings like this, where it's too beautiful to stay inside - and wraps her arms around another little girl. Her dark hair and dark skin make her look like a tiny Regina. Her hair done up in an elaborate braid and her beautiful dress - looking exactly like Rapunzel's in Tangled - show just how spoiled she is surrounded by big brothers and the rest of the family to dote on her. Regina doesn't think her smile can get any bigger, but then her sons come barreling out of the front door.
"Come on Ro!" Henry shouts, "We're going to miss the bus." He stops at the end of the sidewalk and waits for his little brother to catch up. Roland stops just behind Henry and takes his hand. Together they take off running toward the end of the street.
"Be careful!" Regina calls out after them.
Henry slows them down and turns to send a beaming grin her way, "Bye Mom!" he says with a wave of his free hand.
"Bye Mommy!" Roland shouts with an excited wave of his own.
Regina's smile grows as she waves backs. The boys turn around and take off toward the bus stop. A hand slides into hers, squeezing tightly. "If you smile any bigger your face might break open."
She shakes her head and laughs, "I would be okay with that."
A head comes to rest on her shoulder after lips find their way to her cheek, "I hope you're this happy for the rest of forever."
Regina smiles, kissing the top of the head on her shoulder. "We will be," she sighs softly, squeezing the hand in hers.
She smiles in her sleep. If this is her future, she can't wait for it to continue.
A/N: I hope you read this story and draw your own conclusions. It's open ended for you to choose what you want to happen next.
Thank you, again, for all those that have read this story. I loved receiving your reviews and speculations about what was to come. You're all wonderful!