A/N: I know this has to be one of the fastest updates since I stopped posting every day. But in this sad sad day, I think we all need something happy to cheer us up. I sure do. Robin Williams was one of the pillars of my childhood I thought would never fall, and yet he has, and the fact that he has fallen like that makes me extra sad because, sadly, I know what depression is and what it can do to a person... So Robin, if ever you can hear us, this chapter is for you.
Also, I made a mistake last chapter. But an honest one. See, in French, "second-to-last" means there are still two before the last... ;) So, this is the real second-to-last chapter, since the 45th will be the last. I hope I'm not rambling.
Anyway, try to enjoy this chapter on this grim day. It's nothing if not happy.
44. One-hundred-and-seventh dawn
Regina was packing her clothes when there was a soft knock on the door. She didn't even have to ask who it was: that knock was the sole property of the one person who had been at her side almost non-stop since she had given birth. Her daughter's father, Robin Hood.
He was wearing his infamous dimpled grin when he entered the room, and when his arms closed around her form, she could not help but smile back.
Today was the day their little princess got out of the hospital and into the world.
Robin placed a playful kiss on Regina's nose. "How are you this morning, my love?"
She tilted her head to the side with a scrunch of her nose. "Still sore as if I'd done too much riding, but better. At least walking doesn't hurt so bad anymore."
He nodded but remained silent as he grabbed her bag and wrapped the loop over his shoulder. "Ready to meet our little beauty?"
"As ready as I'll ever be." She grinned, and both exited the room. Imelda had been waiting in the corridor and, as they passed her, she assured Regina that the presents and flowers were to be delivered to the mansion later that day. Regina thanked her and took Robin's hand as they walked to the nursery.
Since the day her daughter was born, Regina visited only five times, and not for more than half-an-hour. She had not been able to stand correctly on her own yet, and had had to be steered to the nursery by either a nurse or Robin.
But she had had the opportunity to take her little princess in her arms. Each time.
The tube had been taken out of her throat four days after she was born and after she could swallow on her own. From then on, she had only taken on more weight and height, despite Regina not being allowed to breast-feed her. After all, Regina's body had not had the time to properly evolve through the pregnancy, and Dr Whale assumed her milk would not be as nourishing as it should have been.
It didn't replace the sense of profound belonging when Regina was glancing upon that small bundle of joy that was always cooing away when she was talking to her.
The baby's magic had not started making itself known yet, but Regina thought, and Emma with her – on the sole visit the Saviour made alongside her pirate – that it was because there was no threat anymore.
While the colour of her eyes was still dark blue – everyone knew a baby's eye-colour was not known until much later – her hair colour had darkened a notch, not quite settling yet between a dark brown and a light black. The perfect match between her parents'.
They reached the nursery in comfortable silence, and as Robin opened the door for her, Regina took a deep breath. This was it. On this morning, she'd be a mother again. The mother to a child who'd need her every breath. A baby. Her baby.
Oh merry day.
Whale approached her as soon as he noticed her coming in. He smiled at both parents and gestured them towards a table where a small bag had been made.
"It's customary for the hospital to offer some goods to new parents. Nappies, baby-bottles, dried baby-milk, so on."
Regina nodded while Robin took the bag as well. "It's very thoughtful. Thank you, Viktor."
He nodded, then the door behind him slid open, and Marian entered, a fully-clothed baby girl in her arms and the biggest of smiles on her face.
Regina outstretched her arms as soon as her daughter entered her sight, and Marian placed the newborn in the safe haven of her mother's grasp before standing next to her soon-to-be ex-husband. "She's a darling. She didn't even make a fuss when I clothed her. She's much calmer than Roland ever was."
Robin sighed in relief. "Let's hope it remains that way." Marian chuckled with him, then smiled gently at Regina who smiled back.
"Thank you for everything, Marian."
"The pleasure was all mine, Regina." She paused, then her brown eyes widened a bit. "Do you have a ride? Viktor and I are heading to the diner anyway, for her...proper introduction..."
Regina and Robin smirked to each other. As a princess, their daughter had to be properly introduced to 'the realm', as had been Neal a few months earlier.
Robin nodded. "I've got a chauffeur for the day, thank you for asking." Upon seeing Regina's silent question, he added "Tink offered."
Regina rolled her eyes. "She had her driving-license in a Kinder surprise. We'll be lucky if we get there alive."
Robin chuckled, soon followed by Whale and by Marian.
The baby in her arms opened her eyes and cooed happily, and Regina leaned down to kiss the small palm outstretched her way. "Come on, my beauty. We're going home."
It appeared Tinkerbell, when in a good mood, drove quite well. But then again, the fact that a baby was on board surely had something to do with the quiet way her car drove through town without once busting the speed limit.
Regina couldn't help but enquire. "Tink... Have you taken extra driving lessons while I was at the hospital?"
The fairy snorted. "Very funny. I'll have you know that the only time I was in a mild accident, I had discovered the radio and had put that wonderfully sexy-voiced singer named Matthew Bellamy on...a little louder than I should have. Other than that, I'm a safe driver."
Regina snorted back, but said nothing.
Robin then cleared his throat from his perch on the passenger's seat, his eyes meeting Regina's in the review mirror. "What's new in town anyway? Last time I went at Granny's to organize today's meeting, Leroy was still at the hospital."
Tink chuckled. "Oh, he was just drunk up to his arse when Thea cursed him, nothing more..." All the remaining cursed people had been awoken when Thea died, as if her magic had stopped from taking effect the moment it died with her. Which was unlikely in Regina's experience. "The Atlanteans put up a camp near Jefferson's house, and he's not too happy about it since he can hear their singing until late at night... But damn these people can party!"
Regina smirked. "Oh, so...I guess you've been visiting, then?"
Tink blushed, the Queen could see the red spreading on her skin from behind her. "I visited once...or twice."
"Or twice, eh?" Robin met Regina's eyes and both chuckled, much to Tinkerbell's annoyance.
"Shut it or I'll throw you out of my car!"
"Do it. We've only a couple of more streets to walk anyway..."
Tink sighed but remained silent for the five last minutes of their journey.
Granny's diner was full when they arrived, as almost each and every citizen seemed keen to meet the Evil Queen's spawn. Or so Grumpy said once Regina stepped inside.
The dwarves, albeit less cheery than usual, had gathered in a corner with pints of beer in their hands. The Charmings were all sitting in one booth, and the rest of Regina's friends sat in another. Elsa and Jefferson were looking happier than usual, she noticed, and Grace was grinning too widely for it to be a coincidence, but other then that, nothing to talk about.
A little fury ran for her legs, but was stopped in extremis by his father.
"Roland, easy! You don't want the baby to fall, do you?"
Roland shook his head, a dimpled smile of his own framing his little face, and Regina stooped so he could tuck his index finger in the baby's grasp as he usually did, before he placed a kiss on her head and he went back to sitting with his mother and her boyfriend.
And it looked like Red had managed to seduce the poor Naveen after all...
Henry was next to her side and kissing his baby sister's head, and he whispered a "I know who you chose as a godfather" in her ear before going back to sit next to Emma, who was also a little too cheerful for it to be a coincidence.
Eventually, Robin and Regina – and baby girl – stood at the far end of the diner and faced their family, friends and...fellow citizens. Little princess had opened her eyes and was cooing peacefully, as if her too was waiting for the moment she would be officially named.
Robin took Regina's hand and kissed her temple, and she took a deep breath.
"I would like to thank each and every one of you for being here today... I know that, if this had happened a few years back, this would not have been a happy day. But, thanks to a group of crazy and optimistic people," her eyes went to Snow, who smiled affectionately at her, and to Henry, "I am now a changed woman. I hope I am a good woman too. I also know that, without most of you, I would not be alive today, and neither would be my daughter. So, today is also a day for you to receive my...our gratitude for the help you brought us when Thea attacked Storybrooke."
There was a general cheer, then silence rose again.
The baby let out a happy squeal, and Regina smiled down at her before taking a new deep breath. "It is our honour to introduce you to our daughter, Princess..." she let the suspense settle in, bad habits die hard, "Rowan Helena Locksley."
The rumour spread like fire. All were exchanging glances at the name pronounced. In Regina's arms, baby Rowan smiled. Robin kissed her temple again. He had not known her choice of name either. "Rowan?"
She nodded and met his eyes. "It suited the daughter of a forest-smelling archer."
He smiled widely and nodded. "That it did. It does."
Robin raised his hand after a moment and the company silenced itself once again.
"Now that the introductions have been made, we would like to take the opportunity to also name the bab-Rowan's godparents." He paused and eyed everyone seriously, albeit with a smile on his lips. "Godparents are named to raise the child in case his or her parents die. But, in our case, we wanted Rowan's godparents to be a link between families...to create a big family in itself, that love binds and that this little one here can rely on."
Regina nodded. "I have chosen her godfather, whereas Robin chose her godmother."
Robin nodded to her. "You first. The obvious one."
She chuckled, then her eyes went back to the audience. "As her godfather, I chose someone who has surprisingly never betrayed my trust, and who has forgiven my previous faults to give a chance to a wonderful friendship I never saw coming." She paused. "Jefferson."
The Hatter's eyes widened the size of tennis balls and he stood, Elsa squeezing his hand as he passed her and came to stand in front of Regina, stunned.
She chuckled. "This was the easiest choice to make today..."
He tried a smile, even if he was still too stunned to talk, and walked to place himself behind Regina and Rowan.
The Robin cleared his throat. "As Rowan's godmother, I chose someone who I loved and still do, who made me happier than I deserved and who, despite my many faults, has never left my or our child's side..." A rumour spread as everyone understood who it meant. "Marian."
The surprise was definitely there as Marian rose from her seat and embraced Robin, thanking him warmly before she did the same with Regina.
"Thank you for your trust... Thank you so much..."
Across the room, Regina met Snow's eyes. And what she saw in them was pride.
Because now, they were one big family...