2. First dawn
Regina's eyes fluttered open as a ray of sunlight touched her face.
It took her a moment to remember why she wasn't in her bed. And when she remembered, her heart began to ache once more, and once more with too much force.
She clutched her shirt and fisted into it, wishing she had the strength to rip out her heart and crush it to dust.
But as she wished that, her sole reason for not doing it opened the door and stepped inside, a tray in his hands.
He smiled as he saw her awake. "Good morning, Mom."
She tried a smile of her own, but knew it looked fake and too weak. "Good morning, darling. What have you done?"
"I made you breakfast. Something light, since I guessed you wouldn't want to eat. Coffee, and two crackers with jam."
He set it down on her knees and sat down beside her.
Her eyes locked to her son's face, she reached for him and put a hand on his cheek. "You have grown so much."
He smiled and put his own hand over hers. "And now we have time to properly catch up." He was about to add something, but the echo of a phone ringing interrupted him and he stood, walking to the door, only looking over his shoulder to gesture her to the tray. "Eat. I want it gone when I come back up."
It struck Regina at that moment that Henry acted with her as if he was the parent and her the child. And strangely, it probably was what she needed.
Henry got up about five minutes later. Regina was nipping on her second cracker, her coffee all but finished.
"So?" she asked.
He smiled widely and came to sit by her again. "It was Gramps. He asked if you'd mind if he and Grandma came by later. With the baby." He sent her a careful glance, as if he feared her answer.
She thought about it for a moment, but the memory of little Prince Neal sent a pang of jealousy to her heart. And that jealousy was a good one, for once. She nodded. "What did you say?"
"I said yes. But I can-"
"Perfect. I guess a little company will do me good." She swallowed her last bit of cracker and got out of bed. "But I'll probably have to look my best." She ruffled his hair as she passed him and exited the room into the corridor.
As Regina stopped in front of her bedroom door, she took a deep breath. His scent was still engulfing the room, and she held her breath as she walked to the window and opened it wide, taking a bid gulp of fresh air before she leaned back inside and got to her wardrobe.
Moving around in this room proved to be far more difficult in the light of day.
She could see him everytime her eyes fell onto the bed. She could feel him everytime she glanced in the bathroom mirror, feeling his arms around her waist as he drew her in for a kiss.
No. She should stop thinking about that.
It was hurting so much she doubled over and rendered her meagre breakfast in the sink.
Snow and her Charming arrived a little before midday. As they waited for them, Regina and Henry caught up with what they had missed of each other during that last year, and the former Queen took a long time cleaning the house with her bare hands rather than using magic. It cleansed her mind.
Baby Neal was cooing away in his father's arms, and surprisingly enough, David was smiling at her as he stepped into the house and leaned over, showing her the bundle of joy in his arms.
"Hey Neal, meet your Auntie Regina."
Her eyes widened and met Snow's over Charming's shoulder. She smiled and nodded. So she looked down at the baby and his small hands, tucking a finger in his fist. "Hello there, Neal."
"Would you like to hold him, Regina?" Snow asked, a hand on Henry's shoulder.
"Are you certain?"
"I couldn't be more certain."
She nodded, then sighed. "I would love to, but...better do it as I'm sitting down. I'm not sure of myself today."
The Charmings followed her and Henry to the sitting room, and as Regina sat into her favourite armchair, David stooped and placed baby Neal in her arms, and as she carefully cradled his head, he opened his eyes, meeting her brown with baby blue.
"He's beautiful, Snow."
"I know." The Princess chuckled before kneeling beside her step-mother. "We had a question to ask you."
"Oh?" She didn't look away from Neal's little face, and a grin formed onto her lips almost against her will.
David sat facing her, his wife coming to sit on his knees, and Henry grinned, obviously what they would ask of her.
"Regina...would you accept to do us the honour of being Neal's godmother?"
The scene froze, Regina's eyes widening and meeting the couple across from her. Were they really asking that of her? Did they really trust her with that?
"Are you...are you...sure?"
"We are. And before you say something, we thought of it way before Neal was born. We can't think of someone more worthy of it. As a last sign that everything is mended between us."
Regina sighed, her eyes closing for a moment. Many emotions got through her at that moment, and as the baby let out a little squeal, she opened her eyes again, glancing down at him, the smile reappearing immediately.
"It would be my great pleasure."
Snow stood and came to embrace her, and whispered low in her ear. "I really hope you can think of us as friends, Regina."
"I do hope that too..."
And as she realised the scene was that of friends visiting each other and spending time together, for the first time in hours, she was happy.