Disclaimer: I do not own Once Upon a Time or any recognizable characters.
AN: This was written for SkullGauddess who was the 900th reviewer of Incoming Messages. Prompt: A Growing Up series where Regina is a grandmother. Thanks for the awesome prompt, and I hope you like it!
Regina got the call early afternoon. The noise of the children in the background almost drowned out her son's tired plea to watch Robby and Melanie for a few hours, just until Paige and Henry returned from the clinic. Of course, the older woman had said and quickly moved to put away her sewing and glasses to tidy up the already neat bungalow.
Much had changed in the twenty-five years since the curse broke. Battles were fought, hearts were crushed, lives were lost, and in the end, evil, true evil that took the form of the duo of Cora Mills and Rumplestiltskin, had been defeated. As a result, a rip between the two realms had been created, and for the first time, travelers could pass between Storybrooke and the Enchanted Forest. A proportion of the populace had decided to return to their roots, the Charmings included, but it was to Regina's pleasant surprise when she watched her son about to step through to the other side turn back around and ask if he could come back to her again.
So Henry stayed for six months of the year in the Enchanted Forest, learning politics, training in swordplay and becoming every bit of royal he was destined to become. Then he returned to Storybrooke, living in the quaint bungalow on the outskirts of town, enjoying the luxuries of modern technologies and central heating, but more importantly, getting to know the mother who had suffered a great deal in the past, whose mother was the source of nearly everyone's pain, who turned the tide of the war by siding with the Charmings. Regina had changed, that much Henry could see.
She was still stern and not to be taken lightly, but she was still his mother who cautiously and unwillingly taught him how to drive, who grinned as the awkward teen looked down at his feet while she taught him to waltz in time for his first ball, and who shed tears at his wedding, the only time she ever returned to the Enchanted Forest where the ceremony was held.
Never had someone brought her that much joy, filled the void in her heart so fully. That is until she became a grandmother. She'd never admit it, but during Robby's birth where she and Emma (Jefferson being there in spirit) sat in the waiting room, Regina couldn't help but wonder if this child would inevitably hate her as Henry had at one point in his life. The thought made her nervous, but the anxiety was quickly washed away when Regina internally smirked at the fact that the newborn Robin Jefferson Mills cried furiously in the blonde savior's arms but immediately quieted down when placed in the care of the former Evil Queen.
She never realized how complete her life had been until she met her grandchildren.
The incessant ringing of her doorbell gave her an idea as to her visitor, and she quickly fluffed her ever graying hair and walked towards the foyer, pulling the door open. A small force crashed into her legs as Robby wrapped his arms around her.
Regina grinned and crouched down to the mini-Henry and gave him a peck to his forehead. "Why, hello there, handsome."
She stood with the toddler still clinging to her when Henry, now over six feet and all semblance of his baby features lost with his chiseled jaw and broad shoulders, stepped over the threshold carrying his two year old daughter on his hip. He kissed Regina's cheek in greeting. "Hey, Mom. Thanks for taking them. Paige might be contagious, and it's hard enough when one person is sick, let alone four."
Regina smiled and took Melanie from him, smothering her in kisses. "You know I love having them."
Robby tugged on Regina's pant leg. "Gramma look!"
He dropped his Spiderman backpack to the ground and began taking everything out, ignoring his father when Henry placed a kiss on the top of his head and left.
The brunette looked down when Robby tugged her again. A large fairy tale book was held high in the air as the four year old lifted it to show his grandma.
"Daddy gave it."
Regina smiled softly at the book. It was the one that started it all, the one that led her to where she was now. She helped relieve his load by taking the book and motioning for him to follow as they ventured into her living room where she kept toys and playpens for her grandchildren's visits.
Robby pulled himself up on the couch, scurrying to the book Regina had placed on the armrest. "Read it?"
"Of course, darling." The aged woman placed Melanie in a playpen where she immediately went for her toys before moving to the couch and letting Robby climb into her lap, the book opened in front of them. "Which story?"
"Robin Hood!" Regina chuckled. Up until Regina's introduction of comic books, Henry's favourite fairy tale had been the vigilante who stole from the rich to give to the needy. Like father like son, she supposed.
"Once upon a time-"
"Gamma hungy!" Melanie stood in her playpen and called out.
Robby pouted. "Laney's always hungry."
Regina grinned after picking up Melanie and letting her down to practice her newly learned steps. She offered her free hand to the boy. "She's a growing girl. Just like how Robby is big and strong like his daddy."
The boy puffed up his chest before grabbing the book and running ahead of them, climbing up into his booster seat, waiting for his juice and crackers. Regina placed the little girl in her high chair before moving quickly through the kitchen, setting a plastic cup of juice in front of Robby and a sippy cup for Melanie before returning to her cupboard for some crackers and cheese.
Melanie took one look at her brother drinking from a big kid's cup and threw her sippy to the ground. Regina turned, her stern glare prominent, though softened by the years of being a grandmother. "Melanie."
"Is that how we ask?"
Robby snickered into his cup. He wasn't in trouble for once. The little girl widened her big blue eyes then gave a practiced pout. "Pweease?"
Regina sighed and picked up the sippy cup then poured her granddaughter a plastic cup of juice. "You can't throw this one, okay?"
"'Kay." With careful hands, the little girl drank, beaming proud at her brother.
A few minutes later, the brunette woman set a plate of cheese and crackers in front of Robby and a bowl of Arrowroot cookies in front of Melanie. Like with the cup, Melanie pushed her bowl to the side but had enough sense not to drop it. She looked to her grandmother with the same wide eyes. "Me too pwease?"
How could Regina say no to that face? With a sigh, she handed over her own plate.
"Stop copying me," Robby groaned to his sister.
Melanie realized that Robby appeared to be sitting at the table, and she pointed at his booster. "Me too pwease?"
"Gramma she's copying me!" Robby yelled at the woman who was sitting right next to him.
"Robin," Regina scolded. "She just wants to be like her big brother." She turned to the little girl. "But you, princess, need to stay in your high chair."
"No!" This time Melanie did knock her snack over, spilling her cup of juice in the process. The juice scattered everywhere on the table, soaking through a few pages of Robby's book.
"Laney!" Robby yelled, angry tears immediately falling down his face as he scrambled for his book, making the pages even more wet.
Regina stood in the chaos, placing the book on the counter away from the mess and grabbed a dish towel to mop up the sticky liquid. The floor was a mess, her mahogany table was ruined, Robby was crying and Melanie was screaming. Suddenly a sound overpowered all of that.
"I hate you!" Robby stood from booster glaring at his sister before running away to the room that was designated for him. Regina's mouth was parted before she could scold the four year old, but Melanie began to bawl. She was sure the girl didn't know the meaning of the words, but the anger her brother had was a sure indication it wasn't good.
Regina lifted the little girl from her seat who immediately clung to her grandmother's neck. The older woman rubbed her back. "Shhh, it was an accident, right?"
Melanie didn't answer and only buried herself deeper into Regina's neck. She held onto the girl as she cleaned up the floor and assessed the damage of the book. The words were runny and the pictures were distorted. She was sure the pages would stick as soon as it dried.
She hummed softly to sooth the little girl before making her way to Robby's room, peeking her head in to see the boy hiding under his covers. She stepped in to check on him, only to find that he had worn himself out with his tears and was sound asleep.
Melanie inched her head up to look at her brother. "Robby mad at me."
"He's not mad, sweetie," she said softly before exiting the room and going back to the kitchen. She set Melanie on the counter and inspected the book. As luck would have it, the first few pages of Robin Hood couldn't be salvaged.
She turned a mayoral grin to the toddler. "How would you like to do some colouring?"
Robby woke an hour and a half later. He hadn't forgotten what his sister had done and he was still angry about it. Begrudgingly, he rolled out of bed and peeked his head out into the hallway, hearing soft talking and giggling. He followed the sounds to the living room and gasped at the mess that was once his grandmother's spotless living room.
Paper with various drawings littered the floor, scissors, construction paper and glue cluttered the coffee table, and markers and crayons, at least in Melanie's section, were discarded haphazardly. His grandmother sat on the floor with her back to the couch, a hard book under a paper stack of drawings as she wrote, squinting at the distorted writing of his fairy tale book while Melanie lay on her stomach, feet high in the air as she drew a green figure with a bow and arrow.
"What are you doing?" He asked stepping into the room.
Melanie picked herself up and dawdled towards her brother. "Look, Robby. Look."
She took his hand and led him to her drawings on the floor. They held stick figures of Maid Marian, Prince John, and Robin Hood. Pictures of loot and the Merry Men were featured on another set, then she walked him over to where she had vacated and showed him the forest she had drawn with Robin Hood shooting at targets and the title drawn in cursive, clearly done by their grandmother.
"Like it?" She asked hopefully.
Regina held her breath, hoping the toddler wouldn't throw a tantrum at the fact that his favourite story was all but ruined. He looked from his sister to his grandma. "You didn't wait for me?"
The older woman laughed. "There's still lots to do, and then we have to bind it."
Eager, the two children fell to their stomachs and began drawing, adding their own tidbits to the story that wasn't originally there. By the time the pages were complete, Melanie had fallen asleep, curled up against Regina's leg as Robby was putting the finishing touches to the ending. Regina carried the sleeping girl to the playpen then gathered the pages, placing them in order.
"How do you make it a book?" Asked the curious little boy.
"It's already a book, dear," Regina said pulling out her sewing equipment and her glasses. After stringing a piece of yarn through a needle very carefully, she patted the space beside her on the couch. "We just need to put it all together."
Robby watched fascinated as his grandmother weaved the yarn through the pages. Before long, Regina snipped off the end and tied it, placing the completed book into his lap.
"Now you don't have to carry such a large book."
Robby beamed, flipping through the pages, seeing his drawings come to life in the book.
"You know Melanie just wants to do things like her big brother," Regina said softly.
He stared hard at the pages, most of which she had drawn. "She didn't mean it."
"No, she didn't."
"I don't hate her," he mumbled.
She placed an affectionate kiss to the top of his head. "Of course, you don't."
"Can we make another one?" He finally looked up at her.
She tapped his nose. "Perhaps after dinner."
"Can we do a new story, the one daddy always tell?"
"And what does daddy tell?"
Robby jumped on the couch mimicking swordplay. "About the White Knight having to save everyone-"
Regina rolled her eyes. That story.
"-but it wasn't enough, so the Evil Queen became good 'cause she didn't wanna lose her son and she defeated the witch and freed everyone."
Regina paused. "He tells you that story?"
Robby nodded. "I want that story and Robin Hood."
She hugged the boy to her, closing her eyes as he hugged back. "We can make that story."
Regina allowed Robby to help prepare dinner, baked macaroni and cheese, and by the time Melanie was awake and everyone was fed, the kids were already settled on the couch diving deep into the pages of their own creation while Regina washed the dishes.
When she was done, she headed to the living room, still quite a mess, but found herself leaning against the partition watching her grandchildren flip through the book. Robby was storytelling based on the pictures alone and provided the voices as he went along. Melanie giggled furiously at his falsetto of Maid Marian.
A knock at the door interrupted Regina's spying, so she walked slowly towards the door. Henry and a sickly looking Paige stood in her porch light, and Regina immediately offered up her smile.
"Just food poisoning," Paige explained. "Nothing viral."
"That's good to hear, dear," Regina said ushering them in.
"Were they okay?"
"A small incident but nothing I couldn't handle," Regina smirked.
"Look!" Robby yelled running to his parents with his book.
"Look!" Melanie copied, still struggling to get off the couch.
Henry took the book, grinning as he flipped through it.
"What little artists," Paige beamed.
"And then we're gonna make Gramma's story!"
Regina's eyes flashed from her grandson to her son, but the grown man just high fived the child. "It's about time we got her story down on paper."
"I'm gonna write it," Robby stated firmly.
"I help too!" Melanie pointed a thumb to her chest.
"Did you ask Grandma if you could?" Henry asked, helping his daughter into her jacket.
"Gramma can we?" Robby asked with wide eyes and a huge pout. Melanie joined him. "Pwease?"
Regina's heart swelled as she crouched down to engulf both children in a hug. "I would love nothing more than for you two to write my story."
She blinked away the moisture from her eyes as Melanie placed a kiss on her cheek, Robby following suit.
"Robby copy me," she said proudly stepping back.
The older woman laughed, standing back up.
"Thanks again, Mom," Henry stepped forward giving her a kiss on the cheek before opening the door escorting his family out.
"Can we make it tomorrow?" Robby stopped in the doorway and asked.
Regina simply nodded. "Of course."
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