We Can Love Again

The Photograph

Two days before...

Leaves crunched beneath his irritated footsteps. Where could they be?

The man looked around the oddly silent forest, not really sure what to think about the scene in front of him. The Lost Boys camp was completely desolate, not a living soul was there. Kneeling down, Rumplestiltskin ran his finger across the green grass blades, picking up a fine black dust. Seeing this, he let out a frustrated growl, standing up and brushing away the dust.

So it was true, he thought, they killed him.

But it just wasn't possible. He knew for a fact even Regina and Emma's magic combined couldn't stop Pan. Then how did they manage to do it? Even more so, why did they leave him behind?

He opened his hand and let loose a blue colored spurge of magic, creating a portal in front of him with the image of the Enchanted Forest reflecting inside it. If Peter Pan was truly dead, then the magic keeping him here was completely obliterated.After he thought about things, though, the image flickered and morphed into another destination- Storybrooke. He realized he could see Belle again and tell her that everything was alright. He was curious to see how she and everyone else were managing without them there.

And after he was done, he would return back to the Enchanted Forest where he would have a chat with the queen and finally get to the bottom of things.

"So what are we gonna do today?" Henry asked, his voice still groggy with sleep.

Their temporary living space was still fairly dark; small rays of light pierced through the small windowsill. Regina sat up and rubbed her eyes. Everyone in the crowded room was still half asleep.

"I dunno kid," Emma groaned, "I need more sleep."

"I told some old friends of mine that we'd meet up with them today," Snow said, already fully awake, "that's what we're doing today."

"I don't want to..." Emma replied in protest to her mother.

"It'll be fun, promise." David jumped into the conversation, "everyone wants to see the long lost Princess Emma."

Henry scrunched up his nose. "Mom," he said to Regina, "I don't really want to hang around a bunch of adults... Maybe we could do something today."

Regina wasn't sure she heard him right. Her son actually wanted to do something with her? That was a first.

"Like what?"

He shrugged. "Um... Any place you want I guess. You did live here right?"

"Where else would I have lived?" Regina replied, a small smile soon replacing her sarcasm. "I think I have somewhere in mind- if you're up for it, that is."

Henry grinned. "Of course I am!"

Regina loved her son, but she honestly had no idea why he was suddenly being so nice towards her. For months, he would barely give her a sideways glance. It was always about Emma. Emma's perfect, Emma's the hero, Emma's a better mother...

But no matter how much he had hurt her in the past, she would always love him. She loved Henry from the minute she held him in her arms for the first time. She seemed to do that with everyone close to her in the past- her father, Owen, even her mother. Regina Mills loved deeper than most.

Henry stood in an open field, a white blindfold covering his face.

"Can you give me a hint to where we are?" He asked impatiently.

Regina laughed, excited about how this would play out. "No, keep on walking."

She nudged him forward towards a large, dark colored house, one that looked old and completely run down. She kept her hands on his shoulders to steer him in the right direction.

"Are we closer?"

Regina responded by uniting the knot holding the blindfold. "Here we are..."

Henry looked around with excitement, only to see they were surrounded by an empty field and a haunted looking house. "What's so cool about this place?"

He turned around to face his mother, a look of confusion showing in his deep brown eyes.

"Because," she started, "this is my house. Well, my old house,"

Henry's eyes widened. "You actually lived here?!"

Regina examined the house, a thousand memories running through her head at once. She was starting to rethink the idea.

"Yeah, eighteen years in fact. You want to check it out?"

Henry nodded, taking her hand. "You think we could magic to get there? I don't really feel like walking all the way."

Rolling her eyes, Regina gave her son a look. "You're getting so lazy."But she didn't want to either, so she flicked her wrist, their vision filling with purple smoke.

"This place is huge!" Henry exclaimed once he saw the room they had appeared in; there were heavy red drapes covering the windows and extravagant decorations littering every available space.

"Isn't it?"

As she looked around at the place she once called home, Regina realized she didn't seem any older than she was when she actually lived there. But so many things happened since then.

"How come this house is still here?" He asked, beginning to wander around the ghastly room, "hasn't it been like fifty years since you lived here?"

Hearing this, Regina stopped in her tracks. "It hasn't been that long!" She said defensively, giving her son a cold look, "twenty at most."

"How old are y-"

"...Thirty four, now different topic!" She snapped, really wishing he would move on. Gratefully Henry did.

He soon spotted a massive picture above the cold fireplace, pulling in his attention instantly.

"Is that you? He asked, pointing a finger towards a small little girl in a purple dress, sitting stiffly with her arms folded in her lap.

Regina nodded.

"You don't look very happy."

"Well that's because I wasn't," Regina stated dryly, her eyes drifting towards the image of her mother.

Henry leaned forward to read the small text below.

"Cora?" He said the name, not sure if he were reading it right. Regina tensed when he said it, the name still had the ability to frighten her, even after all those years.

"That's your mom, the one who you didn't want me to meet when we were making the portal?" Henry said these words with such innocence it hit her chest like a ton of bricks. When she didn't give a reply, he turned around to face her.

"What did she do to you?"

Regina could only stare at the faded image of her, stone faced, cruel, red lips, hands aching to feel the rush of power again.

"Lots of things... Bad things. Things mothers should never do to their kids."

Henry hated to see her sad like that. He looked back at the caption again, now noticing the man that was sitting beside his mom. He, unlike the woman, didn't have the intimidating feel to him.

"Hey, that's my name!" Henry said with surprise leaning in for a closer look. "Who is he?"

Regina's pain seemed to be vanquished at the new subject chance. "That's my father, who else would he be?"

"You had a dad too?" His surprise continued, "I never knew that."

"Of course I did Henry, I wasn't created from thin air," Regina rolled her eyes, surprised herself that her own son knew very little about her past.

"So you named me after him?"

"We were really close when I lived here. He was pretty special to me." She replied, not really wanting to relive the moments of her ripping his heart out and killing him.

"Cool!" Her son replied, his face then turning wary. "Why... didn't he try and save you from her?"

Regina ran her fingers through his dark hair. "He was just as trapped as I was."

Soon, there was a silence between them as Henry began reviewing his mother's objectives in his head. Until he was taken off to Neverland, Henry was sure everything Regina did was to hurt Snow and Emma- now, his eyes were opened to a different picture, one with a lonely little girl in a purple dress who was completely unhappy. His throat tightened as he felt his mother gently caress his shoulders, giving everything to take away his sadness that nowhere near compared to hers. The woman with him in the large abandoned room gave everything she had for him- Henry Mills, son of the mayor of Storybrooke, now knew the truth about who his mother really was. He was all she had. Yet he treated her like she was the most awful person in the world.

"I'm so sorry mom..." The words slowly slipped out of his mouth, tears falling down his face.

Regina instantly pulled him close as he let out a sob, his arms tight around her. How could he have been so stupid? All those years, she was always right there for him. She went through fevers, scrapes, coughs, breakfast in the mornings, sleepless nights, bad dreams... all for him. Yes, Emma was his mom too, but Regina was someone he could never truly replace.

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