"Mommy, what is Christmas and why do we have it?" Henry asked, sitting at the kitchen island as Regina baked his favourite Christmas cookies. It would be his fifth Christmas, at age four.
She slipped the cookies into the oven and moved to sit by him, where he clambered happily onto her lap. "Well, sweetie. Christmas is all about the birth of Jesus Christ."
"A very special man." She said simply, stroking his hair back. "Now, for his birthday, Christians all around the world give each other gifts."
"Aren't those the people who go to church? We've never been, why do we have it?" Regina laughed a little. He was always a smart boy.
"Well, Christmas used to be exclusively celebrated by Christians, but it soon spread out to the non-religious." Henry listened intently as his mother told a brief version of the story, eager to understand. "And that's why we give gifts to each other."
"Can Uncle Graham or Uncle Sidney take me shopping?"
"So I can get you a present! Usually you just close your eyes and I get you something, but now I understand. I wanna get you something special." He said matter-of-factly.
Regina grinned lovingly down at her little boy, watching him decorate some of the cookies. "Of course, sweetie. I'll call Sidney now."
"What do you think you're gonna get your mommy, then, Henry?" Sidney asked, smiling. Since Regina had adopted the little boy, Sidney had been down as official guardian, should anything happen to her.
The boy shrugged, holding the adult's hand as they walked around Storybrooke's shopping area. He'd made sure Regina stayed home, even going so far as making Sidney lock the door from the outside – of course, he'd only pretended to. "I'll know when I see it."
"Are you sure you're going to get her those?" Sidney asked seriously, looking down at the little boy clutching the rabbit slippers to his chest.
Henry just nodded defiantly, strutting up to the counter and jumping up and down, trying to put them on the desk. Sidney placed them down for him and went to take out his wallet.
"Nuh uh! I'm using the money I saved!" He dug into his pockets and held up a handful of change – not nearly enough for the slippers - to Sidney, who discreetly paid the rest of the cost.
The cashier leant over the desk to look at the little boy. "How would you like to come up here and wrap it for your mommy, so she doesn't get a chance to see it?"
Henry nodded eagerly, trying to clamber up before Sidney lifted him.
Regina gasped playfully. "I wonder what Henry got me…" Henry, by her side, just giggled and held out the gift, clumsily wrapped in snowman paper and nearly covered in sellotape.
She tore the gift open and smiled lovingly, slipping the rabbit footwear on straight away. "I love them, Henry, thank you."
Every year after that, Sidney took Henry out to buy yet another pair of slippers – a different animal each time – and every year, Regina would wear the slippers from one Christmas to the next. She'd swap out the ratty and torn, used slippers for her new pair every Christmas, and neither of them ever tired of this particular gift exchange. Henry did, of course, start buying extra gifts on top of the slippers.
When Sheriff Swan got a call from Regina that she thought someone was in her house late at night, she'd laughed a little, surprised that Regina – a woman so put together and feared in this town – was now calling on her for help.
Nevertheless, she made her way over and silently made her way around the house, gun pointed, as she looked for a suspect. Regina had shut herself in Henry's room after hearing noises, and Emma soon went to investigate her bedroom at the brunette's insistence.
She searched the room and the en suite bathroom, then pulled open the closet doors. "A whole room? Jesus Christ, Regina." She whispered, walking inside to inspect. There was one particular door that was just a little ajar at the other side, and she moved forward to open it. She let her arms drop at what she found.
Seven pairs of tattered animal slippers, placed neatly on shelves. One particular pair – lions – looked newer, but still ratty. Emma frowned in confusion and then laughed a little. Regina had a collection of animal slippers? Her ideas of the cruel woman were shattered at the thought that this, of all things, was her weakness.
"Did you find anyone?" Regina asked from the closet door, making Emma jump and turn around.
"Nothing but animal slippers." She laughed. "Seriously, Regina? Animal. Slippers."
The brunette rolled her eyes, walking forward and crossing her arms in front of her chest. "Henry buys me them every year for Christmas, and I wear each pair for the whole year until he buys me new ones." She said proudly, completely unashamed. "I'm still on the lion ones until this Christmas."
Emma's laughing grin fell to a softer smile as she looked back at the shelves. "That's cute…" She mumbled sadly, counting them. "Started when he was four, huh?"
The Mayor nodded. "Not long after I told him the story of Christmas. The meaning."
The Sheriff swallowed her sadness, selfishly wishing she had some kind of emotional, Christmas tradition with the boy. This showed her, more than anything, that Henry really was Regina's son. She doubted that anything could change that – but as she thinks… She realises she wouldn't mind that. She didn't want to take Henry from this woman, she just… Well, she just wants to be able to share him.
The curse broke not long before Christmas… But Henry still went out with Sidney – as was tradition – to buy yet another pair of the slippers for his adoptive mother. When they got back to the Mansion that day, gift neatly wrapped, Regina sat him by her side.
"I've been thinking…" She said softly, seeing that the gift in his hand was an odd shape and wondering if he'd not gotten her the slippers. "What if I invited Emma to come over for Christmas?"
"Really?" Henry asked curiously, trying to hold back his eagerness.
Regina nodded. "I know you like to open your gifts early, so…"
"She could sleep over? In the guest room?" The brunette nodded affirmatively. Henry smiled. "And you could invite Snow and James over for Christmas dinner! Show them you've changed and you want to be good now."
She pursed her lips a little at the idea of spending Christmas with her ex-step-daughter. "I think that's a very good idea."
"I'll go call them now!" Henry grinned, getting up. His mother pulled him back.
"One more thing." He nodded a little, telling her to go on. "I was thinking that maybe you should get Emma a pair of animal slippers this year."
"Well, when she came and investigated something here a few months ago, she found the slippers. She seemed kind of saddened by them, and I think you should get her a pair."
He thought for a moment before nodding, placing his gift under the tree before heading back over to Sidney, who was stood at the living room door. "C'mon, back out." He smiled, looking between the man and his mother. Regina smiled softly but proudly at her little boy.
"We uh… We'd love to come over for dinner, Regina. That's… Really nice of you." Snow smiled softly as she spoke into the phone. "Yeah, we know Emma's staying, that's fine. For Henry, right?"
At six in the morning on Christmas Day, Henry bounced happily on Regina's bed to wake her up, eager to find out what she'd gotten him this year. Once she was awake and had gone downstairs to make coffee and hot chocolate, he ran into the spare room and did the same to Emma, who groaned unhappily.
"Five more minutes, kid!"
"No!" He laughed. "Mom's up, and she's making you coffee."
"Is it instant or gourmet stuff?"
"Gourmet, duh." He laughed again, still bouncing. "Like mom drinks instant."
Emma sighed and sat up, eager for a taste of expensive coffee as she pulled on pyjama pants and made her way downstairs, already in a tank top and underwear.
"Merry Christmas." She yawned, forcing Henry into the kitchen so he couldn't attack the gifts.
"Merry Christmas, Emma." Regina smiled, holding out the delicious almond and cinnamon flavoured coffee. Emma's eyes were barely open, and she just leant in the direction of the scent. Regina smirked and started moving the cup around, pulling it closer to her and forcing Emma to nearly fall forwards. She managed to catch herself and open her eyes, gulping down the drink.
"This beverage, I like it. Another." She joked, soon placing her empty mug down on the counter. The brunette shook her head as she refilled it.
Henry soon chugged his hot chocolate. "Can we open presents now?"
"Go on, sweetie." Regina smiled. He ran into the living room and she followed, albeit much slower, perching on the edge of the sofa to watch him. Emma slumped happily by her side, sinking into the cushions.
"Damn, Regina, you could have made me sleep on the couch and I wouldn't have minded."
"Remind me to do that next time then." The brunette smirked.
"Next time?" Emma asked curiously. Regina didn't reply, merely sipping at her drink.
After Henry had torn open the gifts from his mothers, then his grandparents, then friends, he picked up the first gifts for Regina and Emma. Emma's definitely looked like a pair of slippers, but Regina's didn't. "Mom first." He smiled, holding out the gift to the brunette.
She smiled softly and opened it slowly, grinning when she found a pair of bunny slippers, one on top of the other as opposed to side by side. "Oh, honey, I thought you'd stopped…" She said quietly, wiping her eyes as she pulled him in for a hug.
"Nah, I just wanted you to think I did so you'd be surprised." He smirked.
"Oh, you sneaky little thing." She laughed, kissing his head.
Henry looked over at Emma, sitting right by Regina's side. "You can open yours now."
The pair watched as Emma gingerly tugged open the gift. She tried to hold back her emotions at the first Christmas she'd had that wasn't with her on her own or with one of the abusive and terrible families. Her eyes watered at the sight of the slippers that matched Regina's, this pair side by side. Henry pulled gently from the brunette's arms to hug Emma, and she held him close, her eyes on the slippers in her hand.
"You're welcome. And you'd better wear them all day." He smiled up at her, and she kissed the top of his head.
Any other year, Regina might feel jealous that the blonde had her son's attention. Jealous that he'd gotten her the same gift. Instead, she just smiled softly, proud of Henry for including his other mother in their tradition, and not the least bit upset or angry. Sure, it meant giving up a little piece of something she shared with the boy, but perhaps it would lead to something bigger. Perhaps Henry would start buying them both slippers each year.
Henry pulled away to pick up the two other gifts. He handed one to Regina and one to Emma.
They both tore them open happily. Regina smiled. "DKNY's Be Delicious, for her." She laughed, taking out the apple-shaped perfume bottle. Henry grinned and looked to Emma.
"I know you don't like perfume, but you do have a lot of guy's fragrances, so I got you that one."
The brunette turned to look at the blonde, who was holding the same perfume as her… But the 'for him' version. She laughed a little. "Oh, the irony. Henry, I do hope you got your grandmother one of these."
Henry laughed too. "Thanks, kiddo." Emma smiled.
Regina stood, slipping the bunny footwear on. "I'm going to shower and then start cooking. Emma, there's another bathroom you can use, Henry, why don't you watch one of your movies." He nodded and first arranged the rest of the gifts under the tree – the ones left from the three of them to Snow and James.
Snow smiled softly as she and her husband stepped awkwardly into the mansion that afternoon. "Thank you for inviting us, Regina."
Henry grabbed his grandparent's hands before they could do anything else, and dragged them into the living room to open gifts. Emma was slumped in an armchair with a beer, facing the TV.
"Emma, can you help me in the kitchen?" The older brunette asked from the doorway, forcing Emma out of her chair.
"I hope you know I'm just gonna burn the place down." She joked.
Emma headed for the vegetables in the kitchen, but Regina grabbed her arm to pull her back. "I wasn't serious, I just needed to talk to you."
"Then why didn't you say that?"
"Because your parents might see that as a murder attempt instead of me actually wanting help in the kitchen. Anyway, I want to ask you something."
"Go ahead, anything."
"Do you think I should make it snow? Would that be a good idea? Henry sees white Christmases in the movies and he just looks at them like he's dreaming of having one here, and I want him to have that."
Emma thinks for a moment. "I thought you said magic was different here?"
"That's where I'll need you to help. What happened with the portal… Your magic would help. Yours is inherently good. It's just a simple atmospheric disturbance charm. It'll last twenty four hours."
Emma smiled a little. "Of course I'll help – for Henry – on one condition." Regina nodded, urging Emma on. "You make it Snow in all of town, not just your house."
"Oh, of course."
"Moms!" Henry called. "Presents from and for you guys!"
The pair made their way back into the living room. Seeing that Snow, James and Henry took up the sofa and Emma had taken up her place in the armchair again, Regina had nowhere to sit. That was until Emma patted the arm of her chair and the brunette perched awkwardly by the blonde's side.
Henry brought over one perfume-sized box for Regina and something even smaller for Emma.
"Regina gets a bigger gift than me? That's not fair!" The Sheriff whined playfully.
The ex-Mayor chuckled, inspecting her gift and reading the box. "Petrichor, the smell of dust after rain.' Thank you. I do enjoy that scent."
Emma opened her smaller box, frowning in confusion. "Car keys?"
"We know how the bug completely died last week." James smiled. "Those are actually your mother's keys, you get to pick the car and we'll buy it."
"Now I kinda feel like one of those sixteen year olds who gets a car for birthday or Christmas, but alright. I'll go with it."
Henry picked up the gifts under the tree that Emma had brought over and took them to the couple. Both of them got books – Emma never had been a good gift giver.
The pair hesitantly opened the gifts from Regina – two boxes about the size of those you'd get a handheld gaming console in. Underneath the paper were two wooden chests. They opened them, and inside each was a crown. James' could be recognised as the crown Leopold once wore, and Snow's as the one Regina once wore – the one Snow's mother had once wore.
"I hereby abdicate my throne to its rightful heir, Snow White, and her husband, James Charming."
Four pairs of wide eyes turned on her, shocked. Henry grinned suddenly and ran forward to hug her. Emma smiled softly and rubbed her back.
"I will of course perform the official crowning ceremony, perhaps at the New Year Ball at the town hall." Snow nodded.
"That would be wonderful, Regina." Snow said softly, smiling the tiniest of proud smiles.