The year seemed to fly by to Regina. She mused about it as she sat at Granny's for the annual Christmas Eve party. The people of Storybrooke were gathered inside, sharing alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks as well as every sweet known to man. Music played, the Christmas classics mixing with the various conversations being held as everyone formed little groups.
Robin stood with John and Archie, chatting with his hands in his black pant pockets. Once again, he wore a dark green sweater over a white button down shirt with his hair slightly messy. She had run her fingers through the dark blond locks herself to achieve the desired look before he had kissed her.
Henry and Roland chased their friends around the diner. They had had their ups and downs, much like their parents, as the Mills and Locksleys got used to sharing a household. After a few bumpy months, they were able to settle into new schedules and routines, though Robin insisted on surprising them every so often. "To keep things fresh," he had explained as he drove them to a cabin he had rented for a snowy weekend. Regina taught everyone how to ski that weekend.
Mother had kept their year interesting as well. The only petition of hers that the court had granted so far was a change of venue, with Mr. French agreeing that there was too much bias in Storybrooke with Regina being a servant of the court there. After that, though, the courts had so far sided with her. Mother had been removed as executor from both trusts, even though Zelena had stayed by her side and had testified that she knew about her trust fund. Regina and Mr. French suspected she had perjured herself but had no way to prove it. Not that they really cared-Regina was in control of the money that was rightfully hers. She was able to infuse her camp with some needed funds in addition to the ones received from the Lydia Wakefield Locksley Fund.
As he told Alice, Robin liked to be a hands-on donor and for the first time, the Daniel Colter Summer Camp for Inner City Youth offered its campers archery. Regina had watched from the sidelines, openly ogling her husband from behind her sunglasses as his muscles rippled with his precise movements every time he fired an arrow. She also enjoyed watching him coach the children-he was a natural.
She and Robin had met with lawyers to make sure their assets were protected and financial planners to invest wisely. Both ensured their sons would be taken care of money-wise, as well as any other children who would come along.
Like the one using Regina's kidney as a soccer ball. She rubbed her extended stomach, hoping her little girl would calm down. Almost at term, though, it seemed she was getting ready to make her appearance. Regina just prayed they made it through Christmas without her going through labor.
"Eggnog?" Mary Margaret offered, setting the cup down in front of her. "It's not spiked, I promise."
Regina laughed. "I trust you."
"How's Little Lady Locksley?" She sipped on her own eggnog as she patted Regina's stomach.
"Very, very active," Regina replied, wincing as pain went coursing through her. "I wish she would take a nap."
Mary Margaret laughed as Poppy ran up to the table, dressed in a green dress and her hair cut in a bob. She smiled at her aunts, revealing a few missing teeth. "Merry Christmas!" she said.
"Merry Christmas, sweetheart." Regina hugged her. "Where's your father?"
"Right here," Hades said, emerging from the crowd. He looked more relaxed than she had ever see him, even with Poppy's jacket over one arm and a bag of goodies for her in hand. "Merry Christmas, you two."
Regina gave him a soft smile. "Merry Christmas to you."
"Where are Henry and Roland?" Poppy asked, looking around for her beloved cousins.
"They're making cookies. Would you like me to take you there?" David asked, approaching the group with Neal in his arms.
She nodded, taking his hand as he dropped his son into Mary Margaret's lap. "I'll be right back," he told her.
Once they were gone, Regina turned to Hades and took his hand. "How are you?"
He sighed, sitting down next to her. "I'm as okay as expected, I guess. I mean, it's difficult to spend my first Christmas without Zelena and I miss her but when I look at Poppy's smile, I know I've made the right decision to leave her."
"It was," Mary Margaret assured him, trying to keep a squirming Neal from sliding off her lap. "Poppy deserves better."
Regina nodded. "She does. So does Zelena, if she would only see it."
"I wish I could take her away from your mother and undo all that brainwashing," he said, squeezing his glass of nog as he glared at a snowman on the tablecloth.
She covered his hand. "It's hard to walk away from someone like Cora. Trust me, I know better than anyone."
He nodded. "But you did it. You finally walked away. Because of Robin."
"Yes," she admitted, "because I didn't want to lose him. So I was able to see the strength he saw inside me. The onus was on me and it's on Zelena now."
"But it still seems like Poppy and I aren't enough for her." The sadness in his voice almost made Regina cry.
Mary Margaret leaned over and took his hands. "Then it's her loss. But I think Regina agrees with me-you and Poppy are our family. We won't abandon you two."
"Absolutely not," Regina agreed, still amazed at how much closer she was to her brother-in-law now that he was divorcing her sister. It seemed strange.
Then again, her family was hardly what one would call conventional.
A pain sharper than the rest racked Regina and she gasped, gripping the table as she breathed through it. Mary Margaret and Hades both leaned forward, rubbing her back. "Regina, what's wrong?" she asked.
"Pain," she said through gritted teeth. "Worse than just the baby kicking."
Mary Margaret and Hades shared a knowing look before he stood. "I'll go get Robin."
Regina shook her head as the pain subsided. "No, he'll only worry. It's all he's been doing for the past few weeks. Honestly, you'd think he was a first-time parent."
"He cares about you," Mary Margaret replied, taking her hand. "And it sounds like you might be in labor, Regina. Robin needs to know that."
Panic seized her and Regina shook her head. "No, it's not time. My due date is in a few days."
"Because babies are known for keeping schedules," Hades drawled, giving her a pointed look before he disappeared into the crowd.
Another wave of pain hit Regina and she squeezed Mary Margaret's hand as she tried not to cry out. The last thing she need was for everyone to crowd around her while her boys looked on, scared. Beside her, Mary Margaret walked her through the Lamaze breathing exercises.
"These contractions are close," she said when Regina was finished. "I think you and Robin should go to the hospital."
"Contractions?" Robin frowned as he knelt next to her, eyes wide with worry. "How long have you been having them?"
"Not long. If I'm really having them," she replied.
He looked over at Mary Margaret, who let out a sigh of exasperation. "She's in denial."
"Okay," he said, sliding an arm between her back and the chair. "Let's go talk with Dr. Whale and see what he says."
"Ugh, do we have to see him today? It's Christmas Eve." She allowed him to help her up, determined to prove to them all that she was not in labor. After all, she would know if she were.
As she stood, something wet ran down her leg and she gasped. Everyone looked down and Robin's concerned look turned into a determined one. "Your water broke. You're in labor, Regina, and we're going to the hospital. No arguments."
"What about my overnight bag?" she asked, thinking of the bag she had packed and waiting by their front door at home.
"I have a spare in my truck," he told her. "I've had it there for almost a month now. Just in case, you know."
For a moment, Regina was impressed by his forethought. It was then chased away by another wave of pain and she sagged in his arms. "I'm going to need some help getting her to the car," Robin said.
"I got her," Archie replied, his voice coming from her left side as she felt another arm wrap around her. "You're doing great, Regina."
"It feels like the opposite," she moaned, sweat already beading at her hairline. "How much longer do I have to do this?"
"It's going to depend on how far dilated you are. Which I can't tell until we get you to the hospital." Whale's voice came from behind her and she knew he was hurrying to get to his own car.
Though her vision was blurred, she could see everyone in the diner hurrying to help her. It touched her even as she grew embarrassed to be causing a scene. "Can we hurry up?" she asked Robin through gritted teeth.
He rubbed her back. "David's just bringing the truck around for me. We'll be on our way shortly."
"Mom?" Henry asked. "Dad?"
She bit back a groan as guilt washed over her. How could she not have spared even a single thought for her sons. Regina turned slowly, trying her best to smile as Henry's and Roland's concerned faces came into view.
"Hey, you two," she said. "It looks like your sister wants to join us for Christmas. Dad and I are going to have to go to the hospital, okay?"
They nodded and Roland looked up at her, hesitant. "Will it hurt if we hug you?"
"No." She opened her arms and the two boys rushed into them. They hugged each other tightly and she kissed both their heads. "I love you both."
"I love you too," Roland said, which Henry echoed.
Archie held onto Regina as Robin knelt before the boys, hugging them as well. "Be good and mind Tink, okay?" he told them.
They nodded as Tink hugged them to her. "Don't worry. We'll be fine. You two focus on that little girl."
"Robin? Your car is waiting," David said, stepping back into the diner.
"I love you." Robin kissed both boys before standing. He grinned at David. "Thanks, mate."
"Anytime. Good luck, you two." David stepped aside, leaving the doorway clear for them.
Robin slid his arm under hers as another contraction hit. She groaned as he and Archie carried her to the truck, helping her into the rear passenger seat. Robin buckled her up before kissing her forehead. "Not much longer."
"Liar," she hissed out, breathing through another contraction. "I think time is slowing down."
He chuckled as he slid into the driver's seat and put the truck into drive. As he sped off, Regina could only pray her daughter came quickly.
Little Lady Locksley answered her mother's prayers.
When Regina and Robin got to the hospital, Whale was right behind them. Nurses took care of her, ushering the couple into a room so they could examine her. Unfortunately, Whale had to declare she was past the point for an epidural. "You're going to have to do this completely naturally," he said.
"Great," she groaned. "Do you have any good news?"
"I do. You're dilating at a pretty quick pace so I have a feeling you'll be giving birth shortly. Your daughter is pretty eager to join us." Whale rolled away, grinning at her.
Regina had collapsed against the pillows, squeezing Robin's hand. "This is all your fault."
"I know, dear," he said, patting her hand. "Now, breathe."
She glared at him but did as he said as another contraction hit, more painful than the last. Regina hoped Whale was right and she didn't have much longer to do this for she wasn't sure if she was going to survive.
A few hours later, just after midnight, Regina delivered a healthy baby girl. Her cries filled the room as Whale held her, allowing Robin to cut the umbilical cord. Regina started to cry as the little girl was laid on her chest, her heart beat calming the baby girl. She had tufts of dark hair and gazed at the world with bright blue eyes. Regina was certain she was the most beautiful baby ever. "Hello there," she whispered. "Merry Christmas, baby girl."
Robin kissed her head before pressing his cheek against her as he studied their daughter. "She's going to be as beautiful as her mother."
"You might be a bit biased there," Regina replied, teasing him.
"Damn right," he chuckled, running finger along the baby girl's cheek as she yawned.
A nurse approached them, smiling. "I need to take her for a bit to get her cleaned up and everything. But first, do you have a name for her?"
"Holly," Regina replied. "Holly Mary Lydia Wakefield Mills Locksley."
"That's a lot of names for such a little girl," the nurse commented.
"Yeah, well each of them has its own meaning," Robin said before looking at Regina. "Though it was one more than we agreed."
Regina just gave him a small grin as she reluctantly handed their daughter over to the nurse. "You'll give her back to us?"
"Of course," the nurse chuckled. "As soon as possible. You should use the time, though, to clean yourself up and get yourself settled. Okay?"
"Okay," she whispered, watching her daughter leave the room without her.
Robin kissed the top of her head. "You didn't have to name her after my mother."
"I didn't have to. I wanted to," she replied, pressing her palm against his cheek. His scruff tickled it. "She was important to you and we should honor her."
He smiled, wiping away a few tears before clapping his hands together. "Let's get you nice and comfortable for when Holly returns."
"I called Tink. She said the boys are sound asleep in Henry's bed with Archer in between them," Robin whispered, easing himself into the chair next to her bed.
Regina smiled, thinking of the brown mutt that had shown up in their backyard in late spring. The boys had pleaded with them to keep him but with a baby on the way, she and Robin had agreed it wasn't the right time. So Robin had driven the dog to the shelter but the mutt kept running away, turning up in their backyard again. After a week, they had to admit the dog had chosen them and agreed to adopt him. Henry and Roland had been thrilled, christening their new family member "Archer."
Archer hadn't been chipped but it was clear he had had some training for he was housebroken and knew some basic commands. The vet determined he was about a year old and in good health, despite some worms which were easily cleared up. He was an easy-going dog who adored children and enjoyed a good rest on the couch as much as a run around the backyard. Regina doubted they could've picked a better dog for their family.
"They love that dog," she said before looking down at Holly, who was sound asleep on her chest. "Hopefully so will this one."
"I'm sure she will." Robin placed his hand on their daughter's back, smiling at her. "Look at what we created, Regina."
She nodded. "She's beautiful, isn't she?"
"Just like her mother." He leaned in and kissed Regina. "Happy anniversary, love."
"Happy anniversary," she repeated. They had spent some time arguing over what to consider their anniversary and decided on Christmas, when they woke up in bed with wedding rings on.
He rubbed her arm. "This has been the best year of my life."
"Mine too." She smiled down at Holly, a baby girl she wouldn't have even began to dream of a year ago.
Jingle bells made them look up to find a familiar red velvet clad man in the doorway. Santa stepped forward, smiling at them. "Merry Christmas."
"Merry Christmas," Regina repeated. "Come to see the new addition to our family?"
He nodded, looking down at the baby. "Merry Christmas, Holly."
"You already know her name?" she asked, amazed.
"I'm Santa Claus," he replied with a chuckle. "Her name appeared on my list the moment she was born. Which reminds me…"
Santa turned to his sack, digging through it until he pulled out a little wrapped box. He presented it to Robin. "This is for her."
"Thank you," he said, taking the box. "For this gift and for...everything."
"You're very welcome. Now, I need to go visit your house and leave Henry and Roland their presents. You two get some rest. You're going to need it."
They chuckled before Santa disappeared into the shadows again, off to deliver more presents. Regina watched as Robin opened Holly's, pulling out a little silver rattle. He shook it and they smiled. "Her first present," Regina murmured.
Robin nodded, placing it back in the box. He then held out his arms. "I think it's time to return her to the nursery. Santa was right about getting rest."
She hesitated, holding the sleeping baby closer. "Do I have to?"
"No, she can stay here," he said. "But the nurses are more than capable of taking care of her and you'll get more sleep this way."
"Okay. Good night, sweetheart. Mommy loves you." She kissed the top of her daughter's head before handing Holly to Robin.
He held the girl close, kissing her as well. "Daddy's got you. We're going to go for a walk but don't worry, you'll see Mommy soon enough."
Regina watched as he left with Holly, sighing as she settled back against the pillows. Her eyes grew heavy and she closed them, ready to succumb to sleep. The last thing she registered was Robin's return as he kissed her forehead and dimmed the lights so they could get some sleep.
She dreamed of all three of her children in her backyard, Archer at her feet and Robin sitting by her side. It was perfect.
The Locksleys celebrated Christmas three days later, a couple days after Regina and Holly were released from the hospital. Everyone had been willing to keep it quiet and just let Regina celebrate with her husband, two sons and new daughter, but she wanted the family there.
Robin, though, was dubious. "Are you sure you're ready to have people over? You need your rest."
"I think I can handle a few people," she insisted. "And I guarantee you Mary Margaret and Granny will do most of the work."
She was right. Both women had blown in and insisted she do nothing but sit on the couch with her beautiful baby girl. Regina was happy to comply.
Holly slept in her arms as Archer sniffed the baby girl, still curious and cautious around the new family member. Yet he seemed to be okay with her and Regina knew he would come around soon enough. She scratched behind his ear and his tail thumped against the couch cushion. "Good boy," she cooed.
Archer yawned and laid down, his head on her lap. Roland climbed up onto the couch, glancing down at Holly. "Can I hold her, Mom? I'll be really careful."
Regina smiled. "Okay. Let's get you set up and you can hold her for a bit. Robin!"
With Robin's help, they were able to prop Roland up with some additional pillows before handing Holly over to him. Both showed him how to support her head and told him to hold on tight because she tended to squirm. Roland's eyes grew wide as he held her. "She's so small and warm!"
"So were you," Robin replied with a chuckle. "And I'm sure Henry too."
Regina nodded as she let Archer curl up on her lap. "He certainly was. A bit heavier than Holly, though."
"Are you saying Henry was fat?" Roland crinkled his nose, amused.
She shook her head. "No. He was a perfectly healthy weight."
"Did I hear my name?" Henry wandered into the room and hurt filled his eyes as saw Roland and Holly. "You're holding her?"
"You can hold her next," Robin promised him, wrapping an arm around the boy. He shared a look with Regina she read loud and clear: Holly already had her brothers wrapped around her little finger.
Henry brightened up. "Thanks, Dad. Will you let Poppy hold her when she comes?"
"We'll have to see," Regina answered, not sure if her niece was old enough to be entrusted with Holly, even for a little bit.
"Okay, Roland. It's Henry's turn." Robin motioned to his son to hand Holly back to Regina.
She cradled the baby girl, who continued to sleep on as her brothers switched places on the couch. Once Henry was settled, she placed Holly in his arms. "Mind her head," she told him.
"I will," he replied, holding her tightly. He grinned at her until her little tongue poked out between her lips. "Is she sticking her tongue out at me?"
Regina bit back her laughter. "That's just something she does. You used to do the same thing when you were a baby."
"Oh. Then I guess it's okay." He turned his attention back to his sister as Robin held Roland close.
"I like having a sister," Roland declared, leaning against his father.
Henry nodded. "Me too."
"Good," Robin replied, "because your mother and I are quite fond of her and plan on keeping her around for a long time."
Both boys just rolled their eyes.
"Okay, it's Daddy's turn to hold Holly," Robin then said, gently taking her from Henry's arms.
Granny entered the room, smiling at the baby. "Look at this precious little girl. You two certainly make beautiful babies."
Regina glanced down at Henry and Roland, who were snuggled on either side of her with Archer stretched out over all their laps. Both beamed up at her and even though she played no role in creating either of them, she said: "Yes, we do."
"Anyway, I wanted to tell you that everything is almost ready," she said. "There is nothing for you to worry about."
"Thank you so much. You didn't have to do this," Regina replied.
Granny waved her off. "Nonsense. You just gave birth. It's the least we can do. Right, Mary Margaret?"
"Right," her stepsister said, gliding into the room. She placed a cloth over her shoulder and held out her arms. "Can I hold my niece? Please?"
Robin placed Holly into her arms and she settled the baby against her shoulder, cradling the girl's head. "I miss when Neal was this small."
"Are you and Uncle David going to have another baby?" Henry asked, rubbing Archer's bared belly.
Mary Margaret smiled. "We've discussed it but we want to wait until Neal's a bit older."
"Makes sense to me," Robin replied, squeezing between Roland and the armrest of the couch. "It'll be easier."
The doorbell rang and Regina turned her head, struggling to get up. "I should get that."
"No," Granny insisted. "You spend time with your family. I'll go get the door."
Knowing it was pointless to fight, Regina settled down. She smiled down at her boys. "You two ready for Christmas Round Two?"
They nodded eagerly as Tink bounded into the room. She set her sights on Holly and grinned. "Can I hold her?"
"My daughter is not a hot potato," Regina warned. "She's also going to need a nap soon."
Tink's face fell and Robin chuckled as he looked at Regina. "Well, love, I think we can make an exemption for Holly's godmother."
"What?" Tink let out a little shriek, which earned a whimper from Holly. As Mary Margaret quieted the girl, Tink lowered her voice. "Really?"
"We couldn't imagine a better choice," Robin replied as Regina nodded. It had really been a no-brainer for them.
Tears filled her eyes. "Thank you so much. I'm honored. Truly."
Mary Margaret shifted Holly into the petite blonde's arms. "Here you go, sweetheart. Safe in your godmother's arms."
"Hello, sweetheart," Tink cooed, bouncing Holly.
Henry frowned, looking up at Regina. "Wait, who's my godmother?"
"I am," Mary Margaret replied, smiling. "And Uncle David's your godfather."
"Uncle John is my godfather!" Roland chirped before frowning. "I don't think I have a godmother."
Robin shifted a bit. "No, you don't. But that's okay."
"Does Holly have a godfather?" Henry asked.
"Well, we're going to ask Archie," Regina replied.
"Ask Archie what?" The man in question walked into the living room, Pongo by his side. Archer jumped off their laps to go greet his friend, sniffing the other dog.
Regina grinned at her friend. "If you'll be Holly's godfather."
He paused, his mouth falling open. After a few moments, he cleared his throat. "I'd love to."
"Do you want to hold her?" Tink asked, bouncing with the baby girl.
"I'd love to." Archie took her and cradled Holly close. "She's beautiful, you two."
Robin motioned to Regina. "That's mostly her mother's doing and we all know it."
Though she rolled her eyes, Regina felt her cheeks heat up. Everyone chuckled and the party continued as the last guests-David, Neal, Hades and Poppy-arrived. The little girl bounded into the room, still in her coat, and studied her new cousin with wide eyes. She declared Holly to be just like her baby doll and everyone smiled at how adorable it all was.
Regina studied her family and realized that it was far better than the one she had thought she had to hold onto. She glanced over at Robin, grateful once again that he had given her the ability to finally walk away from her mother and Zelena.
She had never been happier.
Regina lowered the light in her room after laying Holly down in her bassinette. She then covered the girl in a soft pink blanket before running her finger down her soft cheek. "You're my best Christmas present ever," she whispered.
"Even better than me?" Robin asked from the doorway. He gave her a teasing grin.
She returned it. "Yes. You've been knocked down to my second best Christmas present ever."
"Fair enough," he said, approaching her. "I definitely can't compete with my own daughter."
Robin wrapped her in a hug, holding her close. "I never would've imagined this last year. Us married and with a beautiful baby girl," he whispered.
"I wouldn't have either," she said back. "Especially when I still hated your guts."
He laughed before kissing her. She clutched onto his sweater, leaning into him as his hands slid down to her ass. Regina broke the kiss, giving him a look. "Really, Mr. Locksley? Copping a feel now?"
"You know I'm shameless, Mrs. Locksley." He grinned at her.
She rolled her eyes but grinned back at him. "What am I to do with you?"
"Hopefully keep me."
"I guess so," she replied with a sigh. "Even if you did abandon our guests."
He chuckled. "They're fine. Granny set up the food like a buffet so everyone is helping themselves."
"We should head down there then." Regina's stomach growled as she flipped on the baby monitor.
Robin didn't move though. "There's just one thing I want to do first."
"It won't take long. I promise." He opened the drawer on his nightstand and pulled out a small wrapped box. Robin held it out to her. "This is for you."
She took it, frowning. "What is it?"
"One more Christmas present," he answered. "Go ahead."
Regina sat on the bed as she tore off the white wrapping paper to reveal a black velvet box. She opened it to find a gold necklace inside, with three charms-two boys and a girl. Each had her children's respective birthstone inside.
"This is gorgeous," she said, looking up. "But why wait to give it to me now?"
"Because I got this today." He then pulled out a packet and handed it to her.
She pulled out the papers inside and read them over. And then again. Then the words blurred together as tears filled her eyes. "You…?"
"Went forward with our plan and had papers drawn up so I could formally adopt Henry and you could formally adopt Roland? Yes," he replied. "All that's needed is your signature."
"You're the best, you know that?" She laid her hand against his cheek.
He grinned. "I know."
She gave him a gentle push before setting the papers down. "We'll handle that once everyone goes home."
"Sounds like a plan to me," he said, standing up. He held out his hand. "Shall we go get food before everyone eats it on us?"
"I doubt Granny would let that happen." She took his hand though and gave one last glance at Holly, assured the baby was still asleep.
Robin paused at their doorway and gave her one more kiss. "You with me?" he asked.
"Always," she replied, kissing him.
They closed the door behind them and headed back downstairs, where warmth, laughter, food and their family awaited them.
Regina's wish had been answered ten times over in ways she had never imagined and for that, she was forever grateful for Santa and two little boys who just wanted to be brothers.
A/N: And thus it ends. Thank you all for coming on this Christmas journey with me. Your response has been amazing and brightened my holiday.
Once again, thanks to GlindaLovesShoes and Rachael728Once for all their help on this. You two are the very best.
I unfortunately lost my grandmother on Friday. She had been battling several conditions for years and so it wasn't entirely unexpected, but it was still surprising. The next few days for me are going to be very busy, which I'm sure you can all understand.
Once everything calms down and we start to move on, I hope to get back to a regular posting schedule.