We Can Love Again


Granny's was completely transformed into a five year old's dream birthday location- for Storybrooke, that is. Regina didn't have many other options, because hosting a party for a million small children wasn't about to happen. The Charming family had notoriously helped out with the planning and setting up, and much to her relief, Roland still didn't catch on that she had forgotten about it. Of course, it still made her feel bad she had forgotten, but she had to make sure her little boy had one amazing birthday. Not just any birthday, either; this was the first one they would spend together as a family.

"Now Roland, you be nice to everybody- be sure to thank people for coming."

The child couldn't sit still he was so excited. Never before had he had a party with friends his age for his birthday; usually his father would bake him a cake and take him riding down to the villages so he could pick something out at the shops.

"Are we there yet?" He let out a whine, causing his parents to laugh.

"We're almost there!" Regina reassured, just as they turned the corner to the diner.

Emma and the rest of the gang were already there, as well as the rest of his preschool class.

It wasn't long before they pulled up to the restaurant. Regina gave Robin a look, as if to prepare him for the chaos that they were about to walk into. Henry and Roland bolted for the front doors before their parents could say anything about it.

They were welcomed by a rally of cheers and applause, giving Roland a rush of pride inside. So this was what being the birthday boy felt like.

"Happy birthday kid!" Emma came over to him with a smile, sticking a party hat on his head and fastened a string below his chin.Roland beamed. "What are we going to do?"

He noticed many familiar faces among his guests; friends from school, Ruby, Snow, Charming, Will, Killian, Neal, and Granny. The smell of food was fairly strong, making him hungry for a hamburger.

"Party, have fun!" The blonde replied, pointing towards the back table. "All those presents are for you. Lots of your friends dropped them off."

Roland couldn't believe his eyes- they were all for him. Regina prodded him towards a group of kids, and he was soon immersed in the crowd of children, all smiling and wishing him a happy birthday.

"I think we did it," she muttered to Robin, who agreed one hundred percent with her. It was beyond impressive they were able to pull off such a party in less than a week.

"I can't believe you bought him all this stuff," Will told her, rolling his eyes, "if you can afford all of this, why aren't you paying my rent?"

Regina gave him a pat on the shoulder. "Because you're fully functional of doing all those things yourself. Now, if you don't mind, I need to see how dessert is coming along."

Back inside the kitchen, Granny, Ruby, and Snow were surrounding a cake, all finishing to frost the sides with bright colors. When they noticed Regina and Robin enter, they all smiled warmly.

"So, how do you like the decorations?" Snow asked, looking exhausted under her excitement.

"They're amazing! I can't believe you were able to do that!" She replied, examining the cake with surprise. "That looks delicious. Roland will love it!"

Granny smiled, seeming to take pride in her work. "Well it is his birthday, after all."

"So what's the plan?" Ruby asked, wiping the icing off the front of her shirt.

"We have a few games planned," Robin began, "and then we can feed them that cake. Then I figured we could just... Hang out and talk. Get to know some of his friends."

"Speaking of games, we should get one started if we want to get a party started." Regina said, glancing back around at the other side of the register. Some kids were starting to take interest in Killian's hook.

"We'll be fine here," Snow told her, "this cake is almost done. Get David to help with whatever you need him to- he should be in that crowd somewhere."

Regina couldn't argue with that. They were outnumbered a million to nine. But they still managed to get the chaos under control and to start a game of twister in the middle of the diner. Roland was bursting with excitement; Regina had never seen him to happy before. Seeing him interact with children his age made her heart feel light and carefree.

It was proving to be easy, entertaining a whole classroom of four and five year olds. They were all having a good time, that was the only thing that mattered. Even the adults found that they were enjoying themselves.

"Neal, fancy seeing you here." Hook began, sitting down at the bar next to him.

The man looked up, giving him a slight nod. "I wouldn't miss Roland's birthday for the world," he responded, his voice sounding enthusiastic.

"So, what'd you get him?"

Neal raised his eyebrows. "I didn't know we were supposed to get him something... I thought only his friends-"

"Well, you thought wrong." Killian interrupted, his eyes sparkling with that irritating sense of pride. "You see that green one over there? That's the present I got for him."

Just then, the boy came into view. Robin announced to everyone that they were going to start opening up the gifts. Seeing his chance, Hook quickly got his attention.

"Roland! Lad, open up my present first- the green one in front."

He obeyed, darting to the other side of the diner to pick up the large green package in his arms. The other children sat quietly and waited for him to begin.

Emma and Ruby had cameras in hand as they waited for him to open it. The paper ripped easily as the five year old broke into it, soon revealing a dark article of clothing- a hat. More specifically, a pirate hat.

"Wow! Did you really get me a real pirate hat Hook?" Roland gasped, feeling it in his hands and staring down at it in awe.

Killian gave him an amused smile. "It's a rare one of mine, all the way from the Jolly Rodger herself."

"Put it on, Roland!" Emma encouraged, preparing her camera as the boy did so. Regina couldn't help but smile at the sight- he was absolutely adorable.

"See, I know what the lad likes," Killian pressed, enjoying the look of irritation on Neal's face.

After the first present, everyone wanted their present opened next. Both Regina and Robin fought to keep order in the room as they started randomly selecting presents off the back table and giving them to Roland so he could open them. He got just about a million things, from a pair of new red sneakers to a pile of new action figures to add to his collection. Ruby got him the cape she discovered at the store, both Snow and Charming presented the boy with an array of puzzles and board games, Will gave him a years worth subscription to a Lego magazine, and Emma found a bear completely made of chocolate online (Which Regina appreciated greatly). Even Alex gave him something memorable, a crown formed by toothpicks and glue. "Because you're a prince," she told him.

The five year old took no hesitation in replacing his pirate hat with the crown. It only took a few minutes for the entire floor to become covered in a rainbow of wrapping paper. Before they started cleaning up, Regina and Robin both presented him with a small, rectangular box.

Roland smiled up at them brightly, quickly unwrapping it with his greedy hands. When he saw what it was, though, the boy couldn't help but feel a tad disappointed. All that was there was a bunch of papers.

"This is something very special, Roland." Robin began, exchanging glances with Regina, "these are adoption papers. I know you already think of Regina as your mom, but with these papers, it'll be completely final- we'll officially be a family. Nobody can tell you otherwise."

As Roland processed the words, his face broke out into another smile.

"We have papers for you too, Henry." Robin added, earning a surprised glance from the twelve year old.

Could Robin really become his permanent father?

"Yay!" Roland proclaimed, wrapping his arms around both of his parents.

"Let's get the cake ready," Ruby told her, obviously more than ready for food.

Regina couldn't argue with her; they had twenty kids resting on their hands. Robin quickly slipped back into the kitchen to check up on how the cake was going. In no time flat, a ginormous chocolate cake covered from head to toe with icing.

"Killian, can you grab me a piece?" Emma asked, not about to compete with children for dessert.

Neal glared when the pirate revealed yet another annoyingly vengeful smile.

"Hey, I could get you one." He quickly interjected, earning dubious looks from both Emma and Hook.

Killian was quick to respond. "Well, she asked me. I'm her boyfriend, after all."

He couldn't help but slip the last sentence in, knowing it would only infuriate Neal further.

"I can still do nice things for her!"

In response, Emma let out a groan and walked off. "Fine, I'll get a piece myself."

As soon as she left, it was just Killian and Neal- neither of them could hide their irritation for one another.

"Why do you always have to be jealous about Emma and I?" He asked, sending the man a glare. "Can't you just accept the fact that she chose me?"

Neal stood up so he now looked down at the pirate. "She loved me first! Henry is my kid!"

Their voices were raised now; one could easily feel the tension between them.

"Well she doesn't love you anymore! Emma chose me!"

Then Neal reacted. He shoved his hands towards his chest, sending a powerful blow that almost sent Hook backwards off the chair he was sitting on. In an instant, he was on his feet, his hands balled up into fists and anger glowing in his eyes.

The diner had become stone silent; everyone, all the children looked towards them with fearful expressions frozen on their faces.

Regina almost had her mouth open in shock as she turned her eyes to Robin, desperately pleading that he did something.

He walked up to them, grim faced, his finger pointing sternly towards the door. Hook and Neal were still both staring murderously at one another, almost waiting for the other to falter.

"Get out. Both of you." Robin told them in a low voice, barely catching their attention. But as the both of them glanced around the silent room of shocked faces, they began towards the door without a word.

Roland grabbed his mother's hand, clutching it fearfully as the scene flashed again and again in his head. Once they were gone, though, things slowly began to melt back into normality; people started up their conversations again and continued to eat cake.

Emma's face was a deep shade of red as she stared at a fixed point at the ground, eventually managing to walk over to the kitchen, where she banged her head against a wall. Regina followed her, eyes showing concern.

"Are you okay?"

The blonde responded with a loud groan.

"Don't worry about it, they'll sort it out." Regina attempted to comfort her, though she knew the statement was false.

Emma continued to bang her head against the wall. "Just make sure Roland's doing okay... Men are stupid."

Giving her a slight pat on the back, Regina turned her attention back to the party.

Robin was talking to Roland, who was looking down at the floor.

"You want to thank everyone for coming?" He asked softly, picking up his pirate hat and putting it back on his head.

Roland nodded, though he immediately took the hat off and set it on the ground.

Then, he immersed himself into the crowd of people, thanking every single one of them for attending his party with a smile.

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