Henry heralds as he pushes open the door to the brunette's bedroom.
The Sheriff glances up at him with a small smile, pushing herself backwards off of her hands and knees so that she sits with her backside rested comfortably in the cradle of her feet.
"Don't you knock, kid?"
She admonishes playfully, and Henry shrugs without a care as he takes a seat on the plush throw that covers his mother's bed.
"I live here."
"Yeah, well, it's my room..."
The blonde counters back with a childish tone to her voice to match her son's. Henry sticks his tongue out at her gleefully, and she sighs with a great deal of heightened drama.
Her statement still feels strange when voiced between the two of them however, but then, he supposes- with all the wisdom his ten years can muster- that he has only had a little over forty-eight hours to process this strange turn of events...
Indeed, it seems like only a couple of hours ago that he and Regina had each been tucking in to a steaming plateful of seafood pasta while sat across from each other at the kitchen table. This incident in itself had seemed a little odd- true, things have changed over the last couple of weeks; this he had picked up on... but still- as she had simply shrugged at his refusal to eat the capers bejewelling the rich tomato sauce; informing him amiably that this was acceptable, so long as he at least tried one. Stranger still had been the large helping of ice-cream for dessert, and her openness to being questioned about what had transpired on her trip to New York; affirming with a complex expression that she and Emma had indeed been successful in locating Mr Gold's son. Henry, in turn, had expressed cautious amazement as to her frequent hints at amiable teamwork with the blonde in this respect.
And that was when it had happened.
Regina had paused briefly- playing with her spoon through the last dribbles of ice-cream coating the delicate crystal bowl in front of her- before addressing him pensively.
"Henry... Would you like it if you got to spend more time with Emma?"
He had been entirely thrown by her question.
Curiouser still, when he had finally found his voice in order to answer her, he had found himself concerned for the first time in, well, forever, that he might hurt the brunette's feelings should he answer too hopefully.
"... Yes? I like spending time with her... She's fun..."
"... Yes, I suppose she is."
His mother had offered quietly, simply nodding as his jaw had dropped comically open.
"And I know for a fact that she would like to spend more time with you..."
These words had gone unheard; Henry still trying to comprehend- no, believe- that he had caught the brunette's previous statement correctly.
"... You... You think Emma is fun?"
"Surprisingly... Yes. I think Miss Swan is a lot of things, Henry..."
"... You like her, don't you? That's why she came round after the curse broke... Because she was nice to you, even though... Even though..."
"Even though I am- was- the Evil Queen?"
"Yes. She was nice to me. And I to her as it happens... And yes, all differences aside now, I do like Emma. Very much so, in fact."
She had smiled gently, and he had frowned at her in return; struggling to find his voice once more.
But she had been patient. Kind. Allowing him to question her in a way he would usually never dare. Nodding and shaking her head here and there, and explaining slowly how her relationship with the Sheriff had evolved and shifted and mutated. She had explained what Emma had attempted to relay unto him as to what had come to pass in Mr Gold's curious, hidden apartment; filling in details the blonde had neglected to share, and thus allowing him to witness the genuine ebb and flow of emotions crossing well loved- yet once feared- features.
She had then gone on to admit that she and Emma had become begrudgingly friendly towards one another quite some time before the blonde's disappearance, and had laughed quietly when asked why such a thing should have been kept a well-guarded secret. Her answer to this had been tentative and careful, as was the rest of her explanation of their current circumstances, which eventually culminated in
"Henry... I'd very much like Miss Swan to come and live here with us, if that would be alright with you..."
And he had simply stared at her; dumbstruck.
Her reasonings had been delicately laid out for him, but of course, he is ten- almost eleven, now- and he had been able to slot in the missing pieces to his mother's words. What he had eventually reckoned on being the truth to the situation had caused him to blush a little uncomfortably, but only in the sense that it isn't often one imagines their parents as partaking in that old, adult obscurity; romance.
Yes, he had blushed, and he blushes now as he regards Emma knelt on the plush carpet- the 'you-must-never-wear-your-shoes-up-here' carpet- as she studies him back fondly.
He knows enough about 'adult things' to feel the colour at his cheeks deepen due to her irritation at being barged in on, before he swiftly scolds himself for thinking about such things as he notes that she kneels amidst a garish cornucopia of wrapping paper. Following his gaze, the Sheriff sniffs with feigned irritability; admonishing him lightly.
"Quit gawping, this is a highly covert operation; strictly need to know!"
He giggles and cocks his head to better assess the shape of the item she wraps, and she shields it with her hands with a scowl, telling him to go and find Regina and see if she needs annoying instead.
"Is that one mine?"
He asks; completely ignoring her request for solitude. The blonde rolls her eyes as she struggles to multitask between sticky-tape and holding things in place. Hissing as she tears a piece of tape across her lip as well as through her teeth, she licks at the resultant sore spot experimentally, before tossing her hair over her shoulder and regarding the boy with a smirk.
"No, it's for Ruby. Who say's I got you anything, anyway?"
Henry's grin falters slightly, and Emma chuckles evilly, shaking her head and making a second attempt to secure an awkwardly folded flap of deep green wrapping-paper in place.
"Relax, kid, I did yours first."
He smiles, and hops down from the bed to take a seat on the floor beside the Sheriff; holding down the mischievous paper to allow her a better chance of securing it down. Watching as sharp, white teeth make quick work of the festive red tape Regina had pulled out of the depths of the writing table in the corner the day before, Henry studies the blonde pensively as she abandons wrapping for ribbons.
"It's going to be weird this year... Christmas..."
Emma stills as Henry ponders quietly, looking up at him slowly and swallowing.
"Yeah... I guess so... I mean... If you want to just spend it with Regina then-"
He corrects her hastily, and her cheeks flush slightly as he continues
"I like having you around here! Also, you make my mom act like she's on a good mood all the time-"
"-Oh, I'm sure she's just suppressing the onset of madness-"
"-What I meant is because, like... Well this will be the first year that an actual year goes by for everyone else and not just me..."
"... I guess it will..."
She frowns, and regards the boy seriously.
"It must have been very lonely..."
"Well, for a long time I just thought maybe there was something wrong with me, but I-"
His words taper off into a surprised grunt as the Sheriff suddenly pulls him tightly to her and wraps her arms around him in an almost vice-like grip. Circling his own arms around her neck without question as to this sudden, obscure behaviour, he shifts slightly so that he rests in the cradle of her lap, and buries his face into the warmth of her hair; not understanding why she hugs him in such a way, and at the same time, understanding it completely.
They stay that way even when the soft pad of footsteps creeps closer up the stairs, and Emma peeks up over soft chestnut locks when they come to a halt to find Regina leant in the doorway. The darker woman raises an eyebrow curiously, but doesn't push for an answer when the blonde simply closes her eyes. Smiling, the Mayor walks quietly over to the bed and takes a seat, ruffling the accessible patch of Henry's hair, before offering a light tug to the Sheriff's.
"Things all seemed a bit calm and quiet; I was getting suspicious."
Henry pulls himself away from the younger woman's chest and regards the brunette with a frown.
"I was reading in my room and then helping Emma..."
"Oh, it's alright, dear, I was talking about Miss Swan."
The blonde sighs with a burlesque roll of her eyes, and Henry chuckles at the obscurely childish bickering between the two women.
Shoving him abruptly off of her lap with a small smirk at the irritable 'hey!' this garners her, Emma regards the boy amiably and informs him she needs to get back to work. Regina nods, smoothing out a crease in the pretty, scarlet pencil skirt she's selected to honour Christmas Eve.
"Yes, let's not overload the Sheriff with the difficulties of multitasking, or who knows what she might tape herself to... Besides, there's a whole tray of gingerbread men downstairs in need of faces."
Grinning, Henry does as he's told, pushing himself up off the floor and trotting down the stairs in a flurry of chaotic, heavy stamping of feet the brunette wonders if Emma realises is evidently genetic.
Leaning forward to pluck up a discarded snippet of ribbon, the Mayor attempts to use it to tie back long hair with a smile; chuckling darkly as the younger woman ducks with a low growl in order to escape such a cruel fate. Rising from the bed, Regina sighs and holds out her hand in a gesture to help the blonde to her feet.
"So, do I get a hug too, then?"
"I dunno, I might be all tapped out..."
"Give it a go."
"Ugh, you're so needy..."
Emma gripes sarcastically before flinging her arms around the darker woman's neck and placing a loud kiss on her cheek. Rolling her eyes, the Mayor encircles her waist and waits for the blonde to desist playing the fool and simply squeeze her back companionably. Getting what she wants after second or two, they stand that way for a little while, before Regina gently pushes the Sheriff back and places her hands on her hips in a business-like fashion.
"Are you planning to stay up here all day, dear?"
"No... I guess I could help Henry deface some humanoid cookies..."
The younger woman broaches with a hopeful grin.
"Oh no you don't; you're a big girl, and can therefore- maybe- be trusted with a knife. Onions need dicing."
"It hurts my eyes!"
"You're wearing contacts!"
"I'm not wearing them now..."
"Well... That explains your wrapping..."
The brunette smirks evilly as the younger woman glowers at her; running a finger coquettishly up the latter's arm.
"Go on, go and be a good little elf and help out..."
"...Jeeze, and then what? I get to sit on your lap or something while you tell me if you deem me naughty or nice?"
"Don't be ridiculous, dear. Then you can peel some potatoes."