We Can Love Again

Something to be Thankful For

The house had transformed into an array of heat and delicious smells in the matter of hours. Regina was excited to finally get to use the kitchen as an actual member of the house. She was determined to make this dinner the best yet; after all, dinnertime was the time families were supposed to come together. Now they were a family- or, starting to become one at least.

"Is it done?" Roland's eager voice asked, poking his head up above the counter to observe Regina's cooking.

"Almost," she replied, keeping her eyes on the pan as she stirred the contents with a wooden spoon. "Why don't you help Henry set the table?"

The four year old obeyed, going other to the silverware drawer and pulling out handfuls of forks and spoons. Robin came down the hall and entered the kitchen with a smile on his face.

"Smells absolutely fantastic," he told her, leaning over her shoulder to see what she was making. Regina had to smile back; he was acting like he had never experienced good food before.

"You've completely given up on cooking, haven't you." She mused, giving him a tap on the nose with her finger.

"Completely," he conformed, "now that we have you here all the time, there will be no excuses."

"I didn't know I was signing up to do slave work," Regina said sarcastically, rolling her eyes. In all honesty though, she didn't care. Working was her thing, she was used to it.

"The food is just about done, you want to help me get all of this on the table?" She asked. Robin was already on it, eager to start eating it all.

"This is sure a lot of food," he marveled as he set it on the wooden table, the smells all too overwhelming.

"I know, but I want to make our first dinner together something special." Regina told him, untiring the apron from behind her back.

And it definitely was something special. Placed before the four of them was a roasted ham, corn on the cob, and most enticingly, a pan of chocolate cake baking away in the oven. The scene was something precious, two children on the edge of their seats, light from flickering candles bouncing off their grinning faces.

"Before we dig in to all this, I'd like to propose a toast." Robin said, earning a surprised glance from Regina.

"I'm so glad you and Henry decided to stay with us. Thanks to you two, we can be a family."

Henry and Regina exchanged smiles towards each other. "Now, let's eat all this food." He announced, wanting badly to give into the temptations placed before him.

They spent the next half hour eating as they jumped from one conversation to the next, all enjoying themselves more than they thought they would. For a moment, Henry forgot he was still in the Enchanted Forest, remembering all the meals he had shared with his mom in the past. Sometimes he forgot how great she was at cooking.

"Okay, I think it's time for you to get to bed, Roland." Robin said, as kindly as he could towards the boy. Despite his tone, though, Roland let out a whine as he looked back down at his cleaned off plate.

"But I don't want to!"

Regina came up behind him and picked up his plate and his glass, taking it back to the sink. "How about I tuck you in?" She proposed, instantly wiping the pout off his face.

"Okay..." He admitted to feeling a bit tired. Maybe he wasn't too old to be missing naps after all. Roland took Regina's offered hand and gave one last look to his dad before starting off for his room. The woman couldn't help but recall the first time she had put him to bed; it was when she and Emma had stayed the night to babysit. She had no idea that in just a couple weeks later, his house would also become hers.

After he brushed his teeth and put on his pajamas, the boy crawled in his bed and looked up at Regina, who wrapped the cozy warm covers around his small body.

"I'm happy you're staying here Regina," he said softly, a smile making its way onto his face.

"Me too," she replied, "but you had a big day today, you must be tired."

Roland couldn't disagree with that. He began to feel a heaviness that surrounded him like a warm blanket. "Promise you'll stay with me until I fall asleep?" His voice sounding extremely small.

Knowing it wouldn't take that long, Regina nodded, leaning forward to place a kiss on his forehead. "Always."

She then blew out the thin flame by his bedside, enveloping the entire room with a peaceful darkness.

It didn't take long at all for the four year old to completely fall into a deep sleep; Regina counted about five minutes. She quietly exited the room and returned back to the kitchen, where Henry and Robin were both still cleaning the kitchen. Her twelve year old was running a sopping wet cloth across the wooden table while Robin had his arms elbow deep in a mountain of soap at the sink. By the time she and her two boys finished with the kitchen and started on further organization, it was nearly ten.

"Oh gosh, didn't know it was so late," Robin said, feeling tired himself. Regina set down the basket she was holding and looked towards Henry, giving him a look that he knew meant there was no getting out of it.

"I can get a few blankets for you," the man told him, setting off towards one of the closets.

"Will you be alright out here?" Regina asked the boy, who was trying to conceal a yawn that had stretched over his face. He nodded, accepting the wool blanket Robin handed to him.

"Are you guys gonna..." Henry started, giving his mom a look, which reddened her face slightly.

"It's not like I have anywhere else to sleep, he does have the biggest bed." Regina said defensively, not wanting to strike up a conversation about the topic.

Henry knew she was right, she did have nowhere else to go. He went over to the couch and sat down, spreading the blanket over the cushions.

"I'll leave you two alone for a bit," Robin said, starting off towards his bedroom.

Regina trend back towards her son. "Do you want your pajamas?"

Henry hadn't realized until then that he hadn't changed clothes since he had arrived in the realm. "I always thought you having magic was a bad thing- I guess not."

He smiled, looking down to find his red checkered shirt replaced with his favorite blue long sleeved shirt and striped bottoms. Then he felt her arms around his neck as she pulled him in for a hug, resting her chin on his shoulder.

"Thank you so much for wanting to stay with me."

Henry retuned her hug, loving the attention she was giving him. Usually, he hated it, thinking she was smothering him like he was a small child. But, as he got to know more about what his mom was really like, he realized that he really did like it when she showed affection to him.

"Anytime," Henry told her, "I thought it would be an adventure for us."

Regina let out a small laugh as she pulled back to look into his eyes. "I'm already loving it."

He lay down on the couch and pulled the blanket up to his chin. "I'll be right over there if you need anything. You can sleep in tomorrow if you want." She told him, standing up to give him one last look before heading towards the bedroom, blowing out all the candles as she went.

There was only a bit of light emitting from the bedroom she and Robin now shared. He had a toothbrush sticking out of his mouth when she entered, making it so he could only smile towards her. Regina sat down on the bed and reached for the zipper of her dress located at the center of her shoulders. When Robin noticed she couldn't quite reach it, he bent down to rinse his mouth and quickly went over to assist her.

"Let me," he said softly, moving her hair out of the way so he could gently pull down the zipper.

"Thanks," she replied, knowing very well she could have done it on her own with magic. She then changed into some comfortable clothes and slipped under the covers, just a few inches away from Robin. Maybe she was a tad bit nervous about sleeping with him, but considering she hadn't been with anyone since Graham, she knew she was finally going in the right direction.

"I'm really gonna like this," she started, "sleeping right next to you."

Robin smiled. "Me too."

"I just... I feel safe when I'm with you." Regina said hesitantly, realizing how cliché that probably sounded.

He put his hand over hers comfortingly. "Regina, I never want you to feel like you don't belong- because you do here. You never have to worry about being alone, or abandoned, or any of the sort. I'll protect you."

His words went right straight to her heart. She lay her head on his chest and closed her eyes, concentrating on his warmth and the beating of his heart. How special they here, glowing red hearts; there were thousands of ways to manipulate them, transform them to nothing but dust- but when it came to caring for them, that's where the queen of the Enchanted Forest was the least experienced.

"You have no idea how thankful I am for you," she told him, managing a smile.

"I love you, Regina." The words couldn't help but leave his mouth. Everything felt right when she was with him.

She lifted her head up to face him, astonishment in her eyes. "You... You do?"

"I do. Very much," smiled Robin, wiping away her tears before they could make their way down her face.

"Thank you... For giving me a chance... Believing in me..."

He held her tightly as she rested her head back on his chest, falling into a deep sleep after a few minutes, the words hanging in the air between them, words Robin knew would be there for quite a long time.

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