We Can Love Again

Holiday Cheer

As much as she wanted to see the room as their future daughter's nursery, Regina still could only see it as Will's bedroom. She knew it was a good thing he moved out; Will could progress further in his life that way. But half of her expected him to come back home with all of his things. Regina really did miss him living with them.

"Are you sure you don't need help setting that up?" She asked, raising an eyebrow at her struggling soulmate. He was surrounded by bits and pieces of a white baby crib, the sheet of paper containing the instructions clutched in his hands.

"No, I got it," Robin grumbled, obviously not getting it at all.

Regina signed. "It's not bad to ask for help, Robin. You're still new to all these things..."

"I need to do this! I'm her father; I need to do something for her. I'm not incompetent."

Regina knew he felt stressed about learning everything. Robin Hood was a natural born leader, willing to die for honor and loyalty. He had his trusty group of Merry Men too, before things... changed.

"I know she'll love you whether you can put together a crib or not," she replied softly, "but you have fun with that. I'll be making lasagna downstairs if you need me."

In contrary to the precious day, today had been calm and quiet for the Hood-Mills family. Roland was fast asleep in his room, and Henry was divulging in a new video game. Regina wanted to start getting things ready for Christmas, as well as begin the nursery. It was only twenty days away; she couldn't believe how fast time was going. The weather outside was cold and bitter- typical for Maine. Usually, Regina didn't take much of the Christmas spirit to heart. She and Henry used to decorate and bake cookies when he was younger, but after the curse broke that all fell apart. Her son had always been a quick witted child; he found out quickly that Santa was really just Mom. Regina was determined to make sure Roland had the best Christmas holiday ever. Whatever it took, Henry wasn't going to tell him the secret of Santa Claus.

She began the lasagna just as she had done a thousand times in the past- it was her personal favorite dish, something she was pretty good at. After getting it in the oven to bake, she checked up on Roland to see if he were still asleep. To her relief, he was passed out on his tiny little bed, just as she had left him an hour ago. He might have been five years old, but he hadn't outgrown his naps just yet. Regina tried not to say anything as she passed the nursery again to see how Robin was doing. She could see he wasn't making a lot of progress, but she also knew attempting to help would have him on another bout of defensiveness. Her fiancé would stop at nothing to get that crib set up.

Up in her dusty old attic was where she kept all her old Christmas decorations. Regina hadn't been up there in what seemed like years; it was dark and musty. But she was determined to get her house reflecting the Christmas season. Things were different with Roland and Robin in her life. Everything changed because of them, including her sense of Christmas spirit.

So she began hauling boxes of decorations out of the attic, finding it hard to lift them with her stomach in the way. She was out of breath by the time she got to the living room.

"Regina, what are you doing?" Robin asked, hearing her dragging boxes down the hallway.

"The baby is in the way!" Regina muttered, straightening herself up to give him an exasperated look.

Robin had to keep himself from laughing. "Here, let me help you," he offered, reaching for one of the bins, "this really can't be good for your back."

"I told you, I got it!" She persisted, "I'm not invalid… not yet anyways."

Robin gave her a look due to her sheer sarcasm. "Fine. Have fun dragging those boxes, dear."

"I will, thank you very much."

Regina then proceeded to push the box down their flight of stairs.

Her son was so sucked into his video game, he barely even noticed his mother on the floor a few feet away from him, beginning to pull out decorations left and right. Over the years, Regina had collected many things between her and Henry- everything from wooden nutcracker statues to colorful strings of lights.

"You want to give me a hand with some of these boxes?"

Henry glanced over his shoulder. "Why are you getting all those things out?"

His mother then got up, gently taking the controller out of his hands. The boy scowled up at her, but he knew she wasn't going to give it back.

"What's coming up in three weeks?"

It took a few seconds for the realization to hit him. "Oh yeah, it's Christmas!"

Regina laughed. "Yeah, it is. Help me start decorating?"

Seeing he had no chance of continuing his video game, Henry complied and began taking things out of the boxes. "Are we going to put up the Christmas tree too?"

"Of course!"

"But mom- our tree is small and pathetic. Don't you think this year... Now that Roland and Robin are here, can we get a real tree? A real big one?"

Giving him a look, Regina unraveled a very old string of popcorn. "What are you talking about? Our tree is fine! Besides, real trees leave little pine needles everywhere." She thought back to the days when her father would take her deep into the forest, in the bitter cold, to choose a Christmas tree. It was one of the few things Cora allowed them to do as a family, even if she never bought any presents for her.

"The Charmings always have a real tree," Henry pouted, knowing just how to get to his mother.

"Do they?" She asked sarcastically, "well, I suppose you could ask your father about it. But you'd have to be willing to help him."

"Yeah!" Henry beamed, "I will! This time Dad can put up the lights so you don't have to fail at it."

Regina couldn't help but whack him over the head for that one. "Hey! I tried! And I got the lights up... Eventually."

The twelve year old then pulled out a small envelope with his seven year old handwriting on it, addressed to none other than Santa Claus himself. "I remember this!"

He said with a slight smile, opening it up. "I can't believe I wrote this- dear Santa, I want more toy trucks so I can race them."

He couldn't stop himself from laughing. "I was so stupid for believing in Santa!"

"It was cute. Seems like just yesterday you were making cookies just for Santa." Regina smiled, "and guess what you got that year? Trucks!"

Henry folded the note back up and tucked it in his pocket.

"It's actually quite ironic you stopped believing in Santa after all the belief you put into me being an evil queen."

"Well you made it obvious! Getting trucks from Mom after specifically asking Santa really does raise some suspicion."

Regina rolled her eyes. "How did my son of mine ever get to be so smart? That's exactly not what's going to happen with Roland. I'm going to make him believe if it's the last thing I do- and you're going to help me."

There was a red Santa hat at the bottom of the box, which Henry grabbed and stuck on his head. "I guess I'm in. We can call it Operation Santa... Or Operation Trick Roland into Believing in Santa."

Regina smiled, giving her son a high five. "Let's give Roland the best Christmas ever."

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