A few hours later, both Henry and Regina were laying on the plush green grass. Regina had managed to turn his sadness into laughs as they finished the tour of the slowly fading house. They walked through everything from deserted bedrooms to the eerie stables- the one place she actually missed out of everything else in that house.
It was around noon, making the sun's positioned directly above them in the perfect blue sky. Regina found herself having fun with the twelve year old, something they hadn't shared together in quite a long time. She just hoped it would stay that way for a while.
"Apple?" Regina asked, using magic to pull one off the tree nearby. Henry looked at it hesitantly.
"Oh relax," she smirked, knowing him well enough to know he was thinking of the Fairytale that went with it. "It's just an apple. A special one, I might add, since it's from my tree."
There used to be rows of apple trees lining the sides of the house; then, one day, her mother got them all chopped down because it blocked the view- or, what's what she claimed. She and her father managed to spare two- one ended up in her castle and the other remained here, its roots firmly set into the ground.
Henry took the apple and took a big, juicy bite into it. "You know, I had to live like this when I was with them, the Lost Boys. Nothing but the woods, the sun, and... Them."
Regina heard the tentativeness in his voice, it made her sad inside. "Henry, what happened to you after they took you?"
Her son began fiddling with his fingers. "Well Peter tried to make me believe that you guys weren't coming for me," he said slowly, "but I wouldn't believe him."
This caused a smile of relief to come across her face. She could always count on Henry to believe in what's right.
"They tied me up and wouldn't let me leave... Or do anything. It was scary."
He gave her a small look of true childish fear before it was covered by a false courage. Noticing this, Regina couldn't help but miss the younger Henry, the one that possessed more childlike ignorance to all the scary things in the world. But, of course, he had her for a mother- things couldn't remain hidden forever.
"Well you never have to go back to that. I promise." She said softly in an attempt to comfort him.
"Mom..." He started, with his mouth full, "you seem different from when we were in Storybrooke. I haven't heard you said anything bad to Snow, or even Emma. Does being with Robin and that kid really make you happier?"Regina just stared at him, caught off guard for a moment. Was it really that obvious?
"Umm... Well, they're the only people besides everyone from home that seem to like me," she said, "for who I really am."
Henry knew that what she was saying was true. Still, he felt weird about her having a secret life over with them. Then, he had an idea.
"Can we go over there right now?" He asked suddenly, setting the eaten apple down on the grass.
Regina gave him a look. "Henry, we can't just go over there. It doesn't work like that."
"Why not? I want to meet them!"
"Because it's not our house, that's why." Regina argued, "they could be busy too."
"Come on, you know you want to," Henry folded his arms. He knew he wasn't that great at winning arguments with her, but this time he had a feeling he would end up on top. "Unless you want to go back to the room and be locked in with Snow White and Prince Charming."
The deal was sealed- he could see it in her eyes.
"I guess we could..." She sighed.
Henry smiled as she took his hand, both of them soon evaporating in purple smoke. They reappeared right in front of the small cottage, everything around it calm and tranquil.
"Now, be on your best behavior, okay?" Regina said, in an absolutely serious tone, "please don't mess things up. I have magic, I can put frogs in your bed."
Henry rolled his eyes. "Promise. Now can we go in?"
Slightly nervous, Regina went for the door, giving it three knocks when she got there. What if he was mad at her for showing up without notice? What if they were busy? It wasn't like she had special privileges nobody else had.
The door opened with a creak, revealing Roland looking up at her with a smile. "Hi Regina!" He said in his usual perky tone of voice, soon noticing Henry standing beside her, "who's that?"
Henry examined the little boy. Sure, he was cute. But he was awful small.
Just then, Robin came to the door to see what his son was excited about. He was pleased to see it was Regina; he should've known.
"Nice to see you again," he said with a smile, "is this... Your son?"
"I'm Henry," he said politely, not really sure what to do. The man seemed nice; he was tall and was obviously pretty fit. It excited him that he was in the presence of Robin Hood- this was the first time he was meeting an actual Fairytale character that didn't live in Storybrooke... Besides Peter Pan. But he tired to kill him, so Henry figured he didn't really count.
"Nice to meet you lad, I'm Robin and this is Roland." He gestured to the boy in front of him, "come in, I was just getting lunch ready."
The four of them took a seat on the old and dusty couch. Henry immediately started with his questions.
"So you're the leader of the merry men, right?"
"That's right," Robin replied, "how did you know that?"
Henry smiled. "Back at home I have this storybook that has all the Fairytale characters in it."
"So you've been reading up on me," he mused, "what else do you know?"
Regina mentally scolded herself- she should've seen this coming. Henry couldn't keep his mouth shut about his book.
"Well, you steal from the rich and give to the poor. You and the rest of the merry men travel around and help villagers. You had a wife once but she died... Didn't know you had a kid though."
Regina wished she could be anywhere else but in his house. It was such a mistake bringing him here.
Robin was truly surprised. "Yeah... That's about it."
"Where do you live?" Roland asked, thankfully changing the subject.
"A place called Storybrooke." Regina practically jumped at the chance, "it's in another realm. Actually, it's a realm where magic doesn't exist and people live normal lives- we have magic in our town though. All the other Fairytale characters that used to live here live there."
"So that's where everyone vanished to, huh." Robin said, "and if it weren't for the unknown force field that came up, would we be there too?"
She nodded. "Eventually we'll go back. Henry's actually from the rest of the world without magic. This is his first time to the Enchanted Forest."
Roland frowned. "You can't go!" He said, throwing his arms around her neck. "I'd miss you!"
"Don't worry, I'm not going anywhere for a while, promise." Regina reassured, returning his embrace.
Henry eyed the boy skeptically, watching him hug his mother. He knew her long before he did, yet Roland acted like she was his mom too.
"Um, Robin, I think something's boiling over in the kitchen." Regina said, turning her attention to the smoke rising behind them.
"Shit," he muttered to himself, immediately getting up and running over to the kitchen. Regina set Roland down and followed him, her cooking instincts taking over.
"What're you making?" She honestly couldn't tell. But whatever it was, it was giving off an awful smell.
"Umm... Well it's supposed to be mashed potatoes..."
That was the last thing she would ever think of. "You're doing it all wrong!" With a wave of her hand, the boiling pot vanished.
"How about we try something easier, like chicken soup? Everyone can make soup, promise."
Robin shrugged. "I don't know. I'm a pretty bad cook,"
"Don't worry," Regina smiled, "I'll help." She opened up some of the drawers and fished out a few knives, using magic to make a piece of chicken appear on the countertop. "We can cheat and use magic on some of this..." She said, snapping her fingers and causing the chicken to turn fully cooked. "It's such a shame you guys don't have ovens."
Handing him a knife, she gestured towards the meat. "Cut this up into small pieces while I get the other stuff ready," she instructed, setting off to find a pot big enough. Once she found one, she set it on the burner equivalent to a stove and lit a fire beneath it. She couldn't find any noodles, so she used magic to make them appear in the pot.
"You're doing good," Regina said, watching Robin slowly cut off the pieces, obviously trying hard not to mess up. He finished and set the knife down, smiling over towards her.
"I guess it's not that hard."
"See, told you," she said, gathering up the pieces in her hands to take over to the burner. Robin took the ones left over and followed her there, watching her slowly set them in the pot. When she was finished, he did the same.
"Slowly!" She said quickly, seeing him about to dump all of them in at once. But it was too late, they all fell in and splashed both of them with the steaming water, causing Regina to let out a squeal.
"I'm so sorry!" He told her, though he couldn't help himself from laughing.
"It's fine," she replied back, finding it hard to keep a smile off her face when she saw him burst into laughter. She grabbed a washcloth and wiped her shirt that was now covered with water droplets, doing the same to Robin when she was finished. Regina then realized how close she was to him as she pressed down on his chest where a particularly large spot was, feeling his hard muscles beneath the fabric of his shirt. She stepped back and tried to keep her frazzled expression off her face.
"You know, it'd be a whole lot easier to just use magic." She said; with a snap of her fingers, they were both completely dry.
"Boys, lunch is ready!" Regina called them, fetching some bowls and forks. The both of them came scampering into the kitchen, sitting down at the table and waiting patiently for Regina to dish them up. Robin picked up the pot and brought it over to the table, pulling out a chair for Regina before sitting down himself.
Thanks to Regina, they were finally having a nice meal together. It felt nice to Robin as he peered around the table, seeing his son lit up and bright as he blew on his fork before sticking it in his mouth, seeing Henry swing his legs under his chair. And then there was Regina- he watched her laugh as her son told her something funny, twirling her fork around in the bowl without another care in the world. The atmosphere was something his house hadn't experienced in a long time- four years, in fact. In that moment, he felt like he had a family again.