Not So Evil Queen
She couldn't be more proud of her son. In just a few months, he had learned how things worked in the new realm (Robin was still a work in progress) and was doing extremely well for his first year of school. It was amazing how easily the child retained knowledge, soaking it in like a sponge. He walked about Storybrooke with huge brown eyes, full of such innocence and potential. Sure, Regina had to teach him a lot of things. But for the most part, it was the other way around. Roland had taught her so many wonderful things, she didn't know what her life would be without him.
"One, two, three, four." The child counted a row of freshly peeled orange slices, a proud smile on his face as his mother praised him.
"You're getting so much better!" Regina tightened her arms around him, resting her chin on top of his mess of brown hair as he picked up a slice with his fingers and popped it in his mouth.
"Ms. Carson will be very proud of you." She told him, causing Roland to let out another giggle. Grabbing another slice, he turned around with the little space he had on his mother's lap and held it out to her. She opened her mouth, and Roland placed it in for her to chew. Immediately, she made a face.
"These are sour!"
Roland shook his head. "They're yummy!"
Their argument was disrupted by the sound of the doorbell sounding. Regina let out a sigh, honestly not wanting to get up and answer it. But she gently set her son down anyways, and headed towards the front door.
"Snow?" She asked, seeing her stepdaughter dressed in her blue coat and boots to keep out the cold that was settling in.
"Hey Regina, I know you're probably busy right now, but I wanted to ask you something."
"I'm not busy, it's a Wednesday morning. Just getting Roland ready for school." She complied, wondering what she could possibly want.
"Well, do you have any plans for tomorrow?"
Regina gave her a look. "What's special about tomorrow?"
"Thanksgiving!" Snow said, looking shocked, "it's thanksgiving- did you forget?"
She supposed she had. Recently, she seemed to be forgetting everything. "Yeah, completely forgot. So... No. We don't have any plans. Henry is still over with Emma at the apartment."
Snow laughed at her remark. "This is your first Thanksgiving as a family!"
"Life is busy!" That was the only excuse Regina could think of. The baby was her excuse for pretty much everything else.
"Do you uh, want to come over to our house tomorrow afternoon? I'll invite plenty of other people- just for a huge get together dinner type thing."
Of course Regina knew about Snow and Charming's annual get together. It had been her tradition even back in the Enchanted Forest, even if they technically didn't celebrate the holiday. Eighteen year old Snow would invite anyone and everyone and they would have a party that seemed to last for hours. She remembered how Snow had begged her to come join them, but she would always claim she wasn't feeling up to it. Regina never thought that Snow would ever attempt to invite her again.
"Really?" That was all Regina could say at the moment. She was so taken aback.
Her stepdaughter nodded. "It'll be fun! You've made lots of friends since you came back. And plus, you're an excellent cook. Do you think you'd be up to coming over in a little bit to help us start cooking food? We have to make lots if we're going to feed everyone."
Turning back to peer inside her house, Regina responded with a nod and a smile. "That'll work. I have to take Roland to school in a few minutes but I can come by afterwards."
"Mommy, you know Jupiter doesn't like to be alone!" Her son's voice came from behind, quite assertively as he carried his puppy in his arms.
Regina gave him one of her 'mother' looks. "I think she'll be just fine here for a little while. Besides, I don't think Jupiter wants to spend the entire day with me. I'll just be making food for tomorrow afternoon."
Seeing he had no idea what she was talking about, Roland made a confused face. Snow was quick to jump to his aid.
"Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Now, I know you may have never celebrated it before but it's a day when-"
"Pilgrims ate food together!" The boy finished for her, excitedly. "I learned about that a couple days ago."
Both women were shocked at his remark- Roland was learning a lot at school.
"Yes, that's right," Snow said with a smile, "and we celebrate the holiday by eating together as a family. So, this year, all of us are going to have dinner together, because we're a big happy family."
When Regina heard those words, her eyes widened slightly towards her stepdaughter. She supposed she still wasn't used to them not despising each other- she considered her a part of her family. The realization of it all again made her heart feel like it was about to explode in her chest.
"Okay! Do I get school off tomorrow then Mommy?"
Regina smiled warmly down at his bright face and ran her fingers through his hair. "I suppose it does. You'll have a chance to play with Alex."
It was obvious Snow and Ashley were very good friends. Then again, Snow was very good friends with quite a lot of people.
"Yay! I can show her my puppy!"
Jupiter was pressed up against the boy's chest so tightly, she could barely move. Regina suddenly felt sorry for the poor thing.
"We'll see about that. But, now you have to get your things and get into the car. I'll be there soon, I don't want you to be late."
Roland obeyed, and surrendered Jupiter to his mother's arms before he dashed back down the hallway.
"Oh my gosh, she's the cutest little thing!" Snow exclaimed, reaching out to pet the tiny animal.
"I know, she's a handful though," Regina told her, rubbing the beagle behind her soft, velvety ears, "I'm trying to get Roland to quit coddling her all the time. I thought he would be wrecking havoc with her when my back was turned, but all he does is carry her around all the time."
Slowly, Regina set the puppy back on the ground and watched her scamper off towards the kitchen. "Well, Roland's free to invite her over to the apartment. Maybe I can convince Ruby to bring her dog. Oh, they could be a cute little puppy couple!"
It took a large amount of willpower to keep herself from smiling. "Pairing up dogs is just... Weird. If we need to give anyone a girlfriend, it's Neal."
"True, but try convincing him to move on from Emma," Snow retorted, deciding to leave it at that. Neither of them wanted to turn up another conversation about the blonde's love life.
"I'm sure he'll figure it out eventually," Regina said flatly, before pulling on her coat, "but I really should get going. I'll be over as soon as I can, okay?"
Her stepdaughter nodded, seeming conflicted with herself for a moment before she stepped forward and wrapped her arms around her. Instantly, Regina scowled a bit; it was an instinctive thing to do, for every time she felt that close in proximity to Snow White, she remembered her as a child, always wanting to feel her love and affection. She supposed, after all the years that had passed, Snow would move on from that constant need. But maybe some things never changed.
So she hugged her back; she hugged her back as if it would wash away all the horrible and disgusting things she had done to her throughout her life.
"See you in a minutes." Snow finished for her, letting a faint smile slip before heading back for her car. Perhaps the feelings she had were right- maybe she did love Regina like she used to. But there were still things she could never tell her, like how detecting the movement of the child inside of her felt like someone had punched her hard in the stomach. Snow kept the aching knots of pain to herself, like she almost always did, as she started up her vehicle and headed back in the direction of her apartment.
It was slowly getting easier for her to be over at Snow's apartment without thinking about all the previous times she had been over for... Less merrier of circumstances. Sure, the apartment was smaller than what she was used to, but the home possessed a quality Regina hadn't noticed until recently- coziness. Just like her old home in the Enchanted Forest.
Of course, Ruby, David, and Emma were already there. They all seemed to have about five conversations going on at once, all of them resulting in smiles and giggles being passed from person to person. It was very lighthearted to see; and for once, Regina didn't silence the fun when she entered. Quite the contrary, actually. They welcomed her with kindness, like she was one of them.
"Can you make those apple turnovers you're so good at?" Ruby asked, perky as usual. For what seemed like the first time ever, that question wasn't intended for puns, or sarcasm. It was simply a question.
Shrugging her shoulders, Regina set her jacket down and quickly ran her hands under warm water before indulging into one of her favorite pastimes- cooking.
"Do you have all the right ingredients?" Regina asked, turning towards the pantry in hope of finding the ingredients. She stopped abruptly when she saw someone was already inside; it was obvious to who it was.
"I've always wanted to learn how to make those, then we could sell them at the diner." Granny Lucas said, grabbing a canister of sugar and handing it to her.
Regina couldn't help but feel awkward around her. She smiled, but inside all she could think of were the spots that began to appear in her vision as she clamped her hand around her throat. "I could show you, if you're not already doing something."
Granny peered over to check up on what Ruby was doing, which was kneading dough on a flour covered countertop. "I think she's fine on her own... For goodness sake, she's almost twenty five; let's hope she can make rolls on her own."
Regina couldn't help but mile at that remark. So many Granny was a little rough around the edges, but she tried.
"First off, you have to mix this lemon with about four cups of water. Put the sliced apples in water while we wait so they don't brown."
When it came to cooking, Regina was in charge. She knew what she was doing, and she always, always, made her finished product as precise as possible.
Regina got to work by melting butter on a skillet over the heated stovetop. It wasn't long before all the apples were sizzling over the skillet, along with the mixture Granny put together.
"You can get the pastry sheets out of the fridge," she told the older woman, who surprisingly did what she was told without a word. Regina fetched a wooden spoon and stirred the apples across the surface of the skillet, soon catching the blissful scent that always came with making them. Even though the entire room was animated with laughs and escalated voices, she found herself being sucked in by the methodical movements, enticing sounds, and wonderful sights. Regina couldn't help herself from beginning to hum something that was on her mind as she stirred, adding in more brown sugar and cinnamon every few seconds.
"You're making all this look so easy," Granny remarked, snapping her head out of the clouds, "if you weren't already busy, I'd have you come work at the diner with Ruby."
Regina rolled her eyes. "You know I would, but somebody has to take care of this baby."
Regina assigned her to the job of stirring the apples while she started unwrapping the pastry sheets.
"By the way, how do you like that wolf figurine I got you?"
"I really like it! Robin is trying to get a mobile set up, and I think the figurine will be right in the middle. It really is beautiful, thanks again for giving it to me."
Granny simply smiled. "Not a problem dear, I really do like babies. It's not every day they're born here... Makes me remember when Ruby was nothing more than a little tiny thing. But, I won't bore you with all my stories on my granddaughter."
The pastry was thoroughly flattened with the base of her palms, something she was quite the expert at doing. "No, I'd love to hear them! Bring the skillet over here while you do, it's about time we put this in the oven."
She did, and the both of them began slowly poring the cooked apples on top of the pastries. "All we have to do is fold the pastry over and make sure the edges are sealed right. Then they can be cooked."
She and Granny worked side by side, sealing the edges one by one and setting them on top of the oven pan Regina had set out. The older woman then proceeded to illustrate stories of Ruby as a little girl, getting into all sorts of mishaps that were far more hilarious than she seemed. Ruby would interject from time to time and claim that none of the stories ever happened. Regina soon couldn't stop laughing as she continued with the turnovers, giving Granny a sideways look every now and then to let her know she was listening. She never quite thought she could let herself become so loose around her; to laugh, smile, simply have a good time. There was even flour that had gotten on her nose, but Granny never said anything about it. Because she wanted to remember that moment, the moment when she finally broke the ice between her and the not so evil queen.