(Basically I was fed up with all the hate and fighting (yes I know it's a drama), so I decided to write my longing dream for this show of everyone finally being at peace and being a family. For the record I'm actually a huge CaptainSwan shipper, but since I don't know how to fit that in here, I went with my next choice for Emma: Neal (no SwanQueen, sorry guys)
This will be a series of vignettes with everyone living in wayward harmony, starting with Thanksgiving. Also, let it be known my favorite relationships are Snow and Regina, Rumple and Henry, Rumbelle, and Emma and Henry, so there will be a lot of that. Not a huge Snowing fan, sorry guys (but there will be some).
Next chapter: Rumplestiltskin loses a bet with Belle at Christmas time, and winds up in a big red suit, at the Charmings' doorstep.)
It was mid afternoon outside the Summer Palace, and the golden sun was blazing in the sky. The air was warm, the breeze was gentle, and all-in-all, it was a perfect setting for the event that was never supposed to happen to take place.
The dysfunctional family of Henry was going to have Thanksgiving Dinner.
Rumplestiltskin shook his head as his cane sifted through the grass, watching his over zealous son and grandson race up the hill. It would be a lie if he said he was dreading what was to happen in only a couple of hours. It would also be a lie if he said he wasn't dreading it. To put it simply, he didn't know how he felt.
It had been two months since returning to the forest most of them grew up in, and such festivities like Thanksgiving was non-existing in the land, but not when there was a certain little boy that wasn't about to let go.
Oh, how Henry had pleaded and begged and even cried at one point to play on everyone's sympathy and make this day possible. It hadn't been a very difficult effort; for the time spent living in Storybrooke, no one wanted to give up Thanksgiving and Christmas. And now, finally functioning as the most wayward family in history, they could finally have a real Thanksgiving.
"Dad, check it out!" came Henry's bubbly voice as he gestured wildly to some sparkles leaping from the grass. "Fairies!"
Rumpelstiltskin had to laugh in partial endearment as not only Henry, but his childish, adult son bolted into the grass, where the glitter floated. "Unlikely," he told the boys. "Creatures of that size are probably sprites, and jumping at them like an eager cat isn't the way to go about catching them. Besides, we're to be gathering centerpieces and decorating for tonight, aren't we?"
"Ah, we can spare a break, can't we?" Neal whined, clapping at the sprites and trying to cup them in his hands.
"I don't think it's called a break when you haven't even done any work yet," Rumplestiltskin pointed out with an amused smile. "How about we save the sprite catching for later and pick flowers instead, before Ms. Swan has our heads?"
Over the months, the wildness had begun to disappear, evaporate slowly from Regina's black heart. It had lightened a few shades. It hadn't turned white, it never would, but the stains in it no longer continued to corrupt her life.
She was cold, distant, but no longer a threat. She was welcomed, in her son's heart, in his life, and in the family. Being accepted was still something she was getting used to.
Nothing had really happened that lead to the woman they struggled to cut out of their lives now actively involved in their dysfunctional family. There was no sudden revelation or tearful, overly sentimental apologies. There was simply nothing, and that was just it. The feuds stopped, the hatred simmered, and peace came. Everyone was tired of fighting. All that ever accomplished was further pain and unhappiness.
It was Henry, it had always been Henry. He was the metaphorical string that tied this family together. And the strings had become stronger over time without the stress of hatred to sever them.
Spending an extended period of time with the people she once detested with every fiber of her heart and soul was even harder to get accustomed to. To be more specific, Snow White.
"Are you done yet?" Her voice dripped with impatience and old-age hostility as she glared at the back of her step daughter's curly head. Her tone had changed in these months. The almost innocent, human emotion had finally replaced the dead monotone she had for years. It always seemed to revert with or without her consent when she was with Snow.
"There has to be at least fifty recipes in this old book," the voice griped back. It wasn't hard to tell neither women were especially keen on this mother-daughter cooking session.
"You guys are the only ones that can really cook without blowing anything up around here," Emma had told them. The blonde's words had not been enough to sway the unhappy duo, so Henry swooped in with his pouty-Charming face and dewy eyes to melt their hearts, and easily succeeded. It was true that Snow and Regina were the only two people that couldn't make the kitchen combust, but neither could shake it from their heads that this had to be more of a conspiracy than that.
"Why don't you just pick the easiest recipe then," Regina snapped, "At least that way you don't have to get your pretty little princess hands dirty."
Snow's mouth set into a hard, unmoving line, but she refused to humor the other woman. They just had to bake together. They didn't have to make any extended conversation. "I like the idea of the three tiered pineapple-mango cake."
Nostalgia seeped through the former queen's veins as she remembered the days spent in a kitchen under the warm summer sun with Henry as he helped her with her baking. Pineapple-mango cake had always been his favorite, and it was one that she had never been able to perfect (most likely because her seven year old son insisted on helping every time).
Regina sighed. She thought she was going to enjoy watching Snow White crash and burn in a misguided attempt at baking a difficult dessert, but not when it was her son's favorite. "Well let's get on with it then."
"How does it look, Rum?"
Rumplestiltskin's golden eyes rolled up to gaze at the paper lanterns his Belle had strung around the boughs of the tree. Right now in the daylight they blended into the scenery, but it would be twilight by the time everything was set up, and the lanterns would be more visible.
"I think it looks as beautiful as you." He dipped her playfully, and the woman squealed with a giggle as her brown locks dragged along the dirt. "Although I don't think anything in this land could rival your beauty." The sun beams touched her irises right where they gleamed the most.
"Well aren't you a charmer," the brunette purred playfully as she slipped her mouth into his.
"Hey," Charming interrupted, a half-hearted scowl on his face. "That's my bit."
"Oh, don't worry, dearie, nobody is quite as charming and charismatic as you," Rumplestiltskin retorted in his old-age-high-pitch-dripping-with-honey-sweet sarcasm.
Belle laughed again. "So how are our boys doing gathering flowers and plants for the centerpiece?"
Rumplestiltskin turned to gaze down at a patch of marigolds, where Baelfire and Henry had apparently lost interest in chasing sprites, and now lay rolling about in the garden and grappling like little boys.
"Oh they're very intricate in their work," the deal maker responded dryly, and his love chuckled again.
Charming stood back with the other grandfather, his lips pursed in amusement as he let the endearing scene continue for a few moments before speaking. "Hey Henry, how'd you like to help Emma catch a turkey?"
That got the boy's attention, and he popped out of the flowers and nearly knocked Rumplestiltskin to the ground as he bounded toward his maternal grandfather. "Wow, really? I get to catch a turkey?! How are we gonna do that? Are we gonna use, like, a net or something?"
Rumplestiltskin scoffed. "Really, catch a turkey? Why I could save you all the trouble right now and conjure one up, cooked and stuffed."
Neither party looked too keen on the idea of getting magic involved, and Henry was still bouncing in excitement at the prospect of hunting like a child of the Enchanted Forest, so the deal maker went quiet.
"Thanksgiving is a familial holiday, and even the work put into it should be a bonding experience," Charming explained, squeezing his young grandson's shoulder. "We shouldn't try to take any short cuts." He gave his grandson a playful love pat and sent him off on the trail. "Emma should be at the beginning of the forest, and I'll catch up soon!"
The pre-teen waved at both sets of grandparents and exuberantly took off down the dirt path, whipping past the trees and letting the wind whisk up his tweed coat as he hummed a happy tune about Thanksgiving. Right before he glanced up from the path to search for his mother, he bumped into something solid.
"Whoa, holy crap!" The startled blonde swerved around in an attack position, half expecting to see a gobbling, rainbow colored avian, and releasing a sharp puff of air when it turned out to be her son. "Henry, don't scare me! I thought you were a turkey." She didn't even stop to realize how ridiculous that sounded.
"What gave it away?" Henry laughed, "The feathers on my head?" He ducked as his mom playfully swung for him. "So what direction do you think the turkey will be in?"
"Do I look like some sort of turkey expert to you?"
Henry's eyes crinkled in merriment, just the way his father and grandfather's did. "Hey, we're in a magical forest. Do you think this turkey might spit fire or needles?"
Emma's eyes contracted into pinpricks of horror. "I'm gonna need a bigger gun."
"I'll always prefer our forest over Storybrooke, but I do miss the electrical wiring," Belle sighed as she finished decorating the last boughs of the tree. "Twinkling lights would stand out so much better. Or maybe Storybrooke just spoiled me."
Rumplestiltskin chuckled, his arms slipping around Belle's slender waist as he pulled her into him. "Twinkling lights? It's not Christmas." His face fell in dread. "Speaking of which, that's in a month, and I'll bet our dear grandson isn't going to let that go by without some sort of heinous love fest like this one."
"Christmas in the Enchanted Forest," Belle mused, "We're certainly making our land more festive than it ever was."
"Mm, yes, it's a shame there's no Santa Claus in this world."
The brunette grinned, tracing a finger over her love's cheekbone until he shivered from the contact. "Well I've heard back in the modern world, family members dress up as Santa Claus for their little ones, and give them presents. You have magic...you'd make a perfect Santa Claus."
Rumplestiltskin didn't even bother to express how disturbing and undignified prancing into the Charming household with a big red suit and a sack of gifts sounded. "There's only one little one that I know of, Henry. Where are the others you speak of?"
As if on cue, a purple plum unceremoniously dropped from the tree, directly onto Rumplestiltskin's head. He winced, but as he and Belle looked up, a few more plums rained down, and they jumped back.
"Why you insubordinate boy!" Rumplestiltskin exclaimed with wide eyed amusement as he sighted his adult son perched up in the boughs of the plum tree with a handful of plums. "You're supposed to be collecting plums for cider, not lobbing them like projectiles!"
Neal smirked teasingly at the couple, and in that moment, Rumplestiltskin saw his fourteen year old again. "Hey, I never had a chance growing up to tease you with my new mother, so I'm making up for it."
Belle gave a giggling yelp and reached up for coverage with her arms as several more plums rained down at her. Gaping, Rumplestiltskin rushed to his love's side and pulled her out of the range of fire.
"Baelfire, where is your sense of honor? You do not open fire at a lady!" As he said this, several purple missiles were flung from the tree, pelting off the man's head with a comical hollow noise. "Testing me, boy? You're not too big for me to tan you," he commented playfully.
"Shit!" the son cursed as he ducked several plums hurled back at him in a cloud of purple magic. "You've opened fire!" he shouted at his father. "Now it's war, old man!"
"I did not open fire! I merely got you back for trying to take your step mother's eye out with a plum!"
The couple cried out in laughter as the fruit began to pelt them relentlessly, and decorating and their duties for the day were all but forgotten as a full scale fruit war broke out.
Burlap sacks of sugar and flour slumped against the wooden counters, and flour covered the floor. Snow loved cooking, but over time had come to learn she needed a steady head when she did it. And here, frantically trying to get the recipe right, she was all but collected, and most of the ingredients wound up around her feet.
"See, this is why palace's have servants," Regina commented, a hint of amusement in her tone, finding it more than entertaining to see the younger woman so stressed and miserable. "The ingredients are in everything but the bowl."
Snow White heaved a harsh sigh and slumped against the wall. "Everything was so much easier with electrical equipment."
"And servants," Regina reminded. "That way you don't have to worry your prissy little head off about making everything perfect, and we can just take on separate tasks for this grueling gathering rather than just pretend we can get along." Although she did think she was doing exceptionally well with Snow White thus far. She wasn't in the oven yet.
Trained to deal with her step mother's insults and ice cold demeanor, the queen only answered, "We're not having servants do this, Regina. Henry wants this cake and it won't be as special if we just take the easy way out. Besides, I want to learn how to cook my grandson's favorite dessert."
"Oh I see, a labor of love. This isn't magic, Snow White. Cooking is not a magical endeavor, it's an intellectual one-something you quite obviously fail at..."
Of course she was one to talk, Regina knew. So accustomed to modern technology, working in a stone-age kitchen again was like rocket science.
"The pages are so old," Snow White remarked, fingering the frail, yellowed paper. "Half the recipe has faded. Do you have it anywhere else?"
"What do I look like, a walking notepad?"
Realizing her stepmother wasn't going to do anything more than insult her and give her sarcastic responses, Snow scanned the unhelpful recipe, not entirely sure how to make this dessert. It didn't help that half the the words were either faded or stained beyond recognition. "Eggs next, it looks like. Then the...pineapples?" Damn this infuriating recipe! "Is the cake supposed to have chunks of fruit in it?"
"No," Regina said, heating up the stove. "You mix the pineapple and mango together with sugar in a small pot of boiling water. After that you pour it into a pan and add the other ingredients, such as the eggs. That part I remember."
Adding the fruits into the boiling concoction on the stove, Snow White instinctively reached for her electrical whisk tucked behind the microwave, and only found her hand grabbing at the air. She flushed and griped in embarrassment as she remembered where she was. It had been two months and she still searched for her old appliances.
"I'll always love this forest, but I wish we at least had battery powered whisks here."
"Maybe we should revive Thomas Edison so we could have a jump-start on manufacturing electricity into our land."
Snow's lips twitched in partial amusement as she worked away at the pot of fruit, trying to stab it down into mush the best she could.
Regina stayed off to the side, supervising. She wanted to get engaged—it was her son's dessert after all, but not if it risked some familial cooking bonding with Snow White. She watched the younger woman fruitlessly chop at the stubborn ingredients for a moment and then finally held out a heavier, metal spoon to her.
"Try this. It'll chop better, and it'll be easier on the hand." Full-out baking mode, the former queen tipped in a few more trickles of water. "Add more water so it will liquify better." Without thinking, Regina wrapped a hand around the spoon, and her fingers brushed the tips of Snow White's, helping her to stir the mixture. "Stir consistently, at a steady pace. Never let the mixture stop."
Snow's hand moved with the spoon, the feeling becoming natural as she stirred insistently without Regina's help. The spectrums of colors swirled until they morphed together into a different texture. In this time, Regina stayed right behind Snow, looking over her shoulder.
In another world, they could have been this way before, baking in the kitchen like a mother and daughter, like a family. Snow spent time when she was young standing on a stool and watching the palace cook as she worked, baking her father's favorite pheasant dish, or a series of pies.
"You should add some more water, the heat evaporates it if there isn't enough."
Nodding, Snow reached for the bottle again, but instead grasped a different bottle that her careless daughter had foolishly left out on the counter the night before. Regina's eyes widened as she saw the liquid form at the rim of the bottle, but it was too late.
"Snow, that's not-!"
Both women shrieked as a cloud of fire exploded from the pot and licked the ceiling, catching on the wooden counters and engulfing them in flames. Regina rose a glowing hand, and with a single squeeze, choked the fire to nothing.
Despondently, Snow rose and salvaged a few mango and pineapples out of the charred mess, finding they were the only survivors of the failed cooking attempt. "That could have gone better." She shrugged and tossed the pot into the sink. A small bluebird appeared on the rim of the windowsill, and Snow managed a small smile at the creature.
"Everything is alright, Cassy, it was just a small cooking mishap." The bird chirped and took flight.
"Are you on some sort of medication I should be worried about, dear?" Regina's tone had adopted a light, suspiciously mother-like concern.
"No." Snow's eyes narrowed. "Medicine for what?"
"Well for your schizophrenia for one, since you actually, ludicrously believe you have the ability to talk to woodland creatures."
"Just get the broom."
"We should sing a song to pass the time."
"A song about what?"
"You want to sing a song about turkeys?"
Emma and Charming trekked down the forest path while Henry took the more adventurous route, leaping over logs and climbing smaller trees.
"Well yeah," the kid grinned with his father's smile. "When Grams is doing something in the house she always sings about it. She sang about cleaning the kitchen the other day, and it just makes the task more fun she says."
Emma smiled back at her adorable son. "Well, what about turkeys should we sing? Are we going to sing about how delicious it's going to taste? How much fun it will be to gut them? Or maybe about how they spit fire and needles?"
At that, Charming stopped walking and stared at his daughter in amusement. "What? Fire breathing turkeys? Where in the world did you get that notion?"
Emma was immediately embarrassed, wanting to slap the affectionate amusement off her father's face. He was staring at her as he would if she was five and asked if lollipops could grow on trees. "Well hell, I don't know! We're in a land of fire breathing dragons-"
"Yes, but not fire breathing turkeys!"
Both her father and son roared with laughter at her expense, and only laughed harder when she demanded they shut up. The blonde narrowed her eyes at her giggling son and took a lunge for him.
"You got me into this, you brat! You're the one that suggested they breathe fire!" Her son let out a tiny, high pitched scream, but his mother grabbed him in a headlock anyway. He was granted mercy when the trio heard the snapping of a nearby twig.
They all fell quiet, snapping their heads up to see a multicolored creature waddling not even twenty feet from them.
"Whoa, that was fast," the blonde mused, releasing Henry and reaching for her gun. A hand stopped her, and the exasperated blonde stared up to see her father had taken her weapon. "What the hell? Am I expected to kill this thing with my bare hands?"
Without saying anything else, Charming pocketed Emma's gun and tossed her a quiver. She tossed it back with a glare.
"Who do you think I am, Robin Hood?"
"No," Charming intoned playfully, "But you are your mother's child, and it's about time you learn how to operate weapons from our world. No guns, Sheriff, it's time to learn how to shoot a bow."
Emma scowled, but said nothing else on the matter and begrudgingly accepted the quiver. The weapons-woman badass of Storybrooke fumbled clumsily with the bow, which only ended up slipping from her hands and winding up at her feet. Charming felt a sad endearment by his daughter's defeated expression, and without thinking, he gently took her arm and helped her place the arrow.
The gesture came instinctively as he watched his daughter struggle, and as he helped her hold the bow thoughts raced through his head. He thought of the missed years of his daughter's life, teaching her how to shoot an arrow, use a sword, and even sculpt the perfect snowball. At least he could give her this, and it was even these little moments that he cherished and knew it wasn't too late for them.
"Now when you aim, make sure you get dead on or as close to the heart or brain as you can. It's not mandatory, but it would lessen its suffering."
Emma felt her heart tingle as he helped her and knew she was thinking the same things he was. She aimed the bow, never keeping her eyes off the target, and let go. With a whizz, the arrow sliced through the air and speared the turkey with a squawk.
"Alright, you got it, Mom!" Henry cheered as he bolted over to the body and lifted the bird up by the neck. He felt bad for the dead bird, but more than anything he just wanted to be like his grandfather. "Gramps, can I carry it?"
Charming chuckled affectionately and watched as his little grandson attempted to throw a turkey nearly the size of him over his shoulder. "Just like a regular little hunter."
"Well, we sure did a good job of...sprucing up the place, now, didn't we?"
It was sunset and the hill that the three of them were in charge of decorating lay unchanged other than the various, smashed plum remains in the wake of a fruit-firing battle. Lanterns were at least hung—maybe that would be their saving grace.
"Snow White is not going to be pleased," Belle giggled, wiping the remnants of plums off her dress.
"Oh, and who made her Queen of the world?" Rumplestiltskin quipped, "Wait..."
"Emma is totally going to kick our asses," Neal snickered, flicking a plum pit at his father. Rumplestiltskin playfully swiped it back at him.
Charming, Emma, and Henry expected to come to the hill and see the area flooded with flowers and candles. Instead, they found plums scattered around three played out adults.
"Wow, has anyone seen my fiance and future father in law?" the blonde snarked, "Cause I think someone replaced them with five-year-olds. So this is how you go about gathering plums for cider, huh?"
"Let's be honest, Ms. Swan, pureed plums are much better than cider any day."
"I caught a turkey!" Henry chirped. His mother glared playfully at him.
"Well," the boy grinned sheepishly, "I brought it back anyway."
Neal laughed. "Great, now we just need to cook it."
"Good luck finding the kitchen through all the smoke."
The group turned, eyes widening as they saw a soot covered, worn out looking Regina and Snow White making their way up the hill, and carrying a large bowl rather than a silver platter they expected to see a cake on.
"Wow," Emma laughed, "What happened? You both look like hell."
Snow hesitated. "Cooking was-"
"A labor of love," Regina deadpanned, and Snow couldn't help but laugh.
The sun had fallen past the hills, and a blanket of twilight covered the once-blue sky by the time everything was set, and the feast was prepared. Belle's lanterns illuminated the plum tree, and lit the small hill the family sat on.
"Pineapple,-mango pudding anyone?" Snow asked as a bowl was passed around the picnic blanket, and the family helped themselves to a serving.
"What happened to the cake?" Emma teased. "Did you two liquify it?"
"No," Regina responded dryly. "Your mother burned down the kitchen, so we had to improvise."
The ever collected queen flushed like a guilty child, and chuckles rose from the group.
Henry took a spoonful of pudding, his face beaming in happy nostalgia."I remember when I was little, and you made that cake in the summer time. I used to sit in your lap on the front steps, and we'd eat it and watch cars go by."
The eleven year old paused his spoon in mid air, and gave his adopted mother a cheeky grin. He bounded forward into her lap, and the startled woman melted as she reveled in the joy of feeling her little boy in her arms, like so many summers ago.
"We should all go around the blanket and say what we're thankful for," the boy suggested. The family all glanced at each other and shrugged. It was a traditional custom, after all.
"I'm thankful for this past year, as crazy and ridiculous as it's been," Emma began. "I found everything I ever wanted." She gripped Henry's hand lovingly, and smiled at Neal. "And some things I didn't even realize I wanted."
"I'm thankful for finally finding my husband, my daughter, and my grandson," Snow said, pressing a brief kiss to Charming's lips.
"You know we'll always find each other," Charming responded, giving his wife's hand an affectionate squeeze.
"I'll be thankful when the two of you sickening love birds find a new saying," Regina snapped quietly. The couple glared at her, but everyone else only laughed.
"Well then I suppose I'll speak for my Bae, and Belle," Rumplestiltskin shrugged, "And I'll say we echo...the sickening lovebirds'... sentiment. To family."
"You did a great job decorating the tree, Belle," Emma complimented. "It looks so...magical. But why are we having a picnic dinner outside? I mean, isn't there more places to decorate, and more room in the palace, with our dining room table?"
"Wait for it, dearie," Rumplestiltskin said, a strange glint in his eye. "I suggested an outdoor picnic for a reason."
Seconds later, an ethereal streak of light shot across the dark sky, and it was quickly followed by another, and another. Soon, shimmering orbs began to rain down across the land in an endless, majestic pattern. It was like the stars were falling from the heavens.
Emma was awestruck. She lived in Boston, and in a busy, nearly star-less city, not once had she seen a meteor shower. "Holy crap... Did you do this?"
"No, not quite," Rumplestiltskin chuckled, "But I've always had a fascination with astronomy, and over the years of observing it, I learned what days astrological events occurred."
"Is this anything you had in mind for today, kid?" Emma asked her son, squeezing him affectionately around the shoulders.
"No," Henry whispered, his eyes shimmering in joy and wonderment. "It's all been so much better."
The group fell silent for the next few moments and observed the night time spectacle, sitting there on the blanket, united as the strangest family tree in history. Past bitterness, hatred and feuds were forgotten in the moment, their slate clean and empty, and ready to start over again.
A lot of damage had been caused, and scars that would never heal, but here in the unity of family, they were finally ready to try.