We Can Love Again

The Daunting Mystery

The phone rang about six times before she picked up.

"Regina? What a surprise hearing from you!" Snow said into the phone, smiling warmly at the sound of her stepmother on the other end. She was beginning to love the new friendship they had.

"I was just calling to see what kind of plans you and David had for Christmas," Regina told her, propping the phone up with her shoulder so she could pour both her sons a glass of juice as they prepared to start supper.

Snow seemed slightly surprised by the question. "Um, we haven't really talked about it much, but I suppose we'll just have a little get together at the house again. Why the sudden question? Of course you're invited, Regina."

"Well, I was just thinking that maybe we can have something over here this year; after all, you do need a bigger house for all those people. And you do so much for everyone as it is- it's the least I can do."

Snow softly hummed to herself, debating what the answer should be. "I mean... I guess that would be fine, you're right about needing a bigger house. I'll talk to David and Emma and see what they say."

Regina couldn't help but smile. She knew Robin was stressed out and she needed to take things easy with the baby, but Regina really wanted to host that party, to seal the deal on her conversion to the good side, to fully prove to everyone that she was one of them.

"I think it's awesome you finally want to put your big house to use," Snow joked, "I can get the word out to everyone. I'm sure they all will be exited to hear. We can talk plans later on."

"Alright, well I don't want to keep you from eating. Talk to you later, Snow." Regina said, hanging up the phone and turning her attention back to her boys.

"You seriously want to have a party over here on Christmas?" Henry asked, in the middle of spooning a pile of white rice into his plate. "That's so cool! I love parties!"

Regina laughed at his enthusiasm. "Well it isn't for sure yet, but I thought I'd give your grandma a break after everything she does."

Snow was a leader to all those innocent villagers she had kept under her thumb for countless years. Every single one of them loved her like a sister; she was far more than just a friend. While Regina had been destroying lives, Snow had all kept them safe, with a promise of hope for a better life. That was more than she could ever do, nonetheless, live up to.

"Is Dad missing dinner again?"

Regina sighed. "He has to work overtime again. How you can work overtime at an animal shelter beats me- have you two noticed how weird he's been lately?"

Immediately, Henry cast his eyes down to his plate as he began picking at his meal. Despite his mother being the infamous evil queen, he had gotten pretty good at hiding things from her. It was a tricky and dangerous ordeal, but clearly not impossible.

"Maybe he's just trying to find you a present," he replied, realizing that the answer he gave her wasn't entirely a lie.

"Oh God, he doesn't need to get me anything," Regina said quickly, though Henry could tell she was beginning to blush. "This baby is our Christmas present, I don't need anything else. Besides, why would I need anything more? I have the two best boys in the entire universe."

And that was how the rest of their dinner conversation went. Roland convinced her that she needed a present like everyone else, and preceded to let the cat out of the bag on what he was planning to get her- a bag of gummy worms. He swore on his life that babies loved gummy worms.

After dinner, Regina sent both her boys upstairs to take their showers. Since Roland claimed he could take his own bath now that he had turned five, she no longer had to help him (Henry was assigned the task of keeping watch of him no matter how strongly opposed he was to the idea)- therefore, the overworked mother had at least thirty minutes to herself. Once she heard the bathroom doors close, Regina was off upstairs faster than she could stop herself. The curiosity was eating away at her; what could he possibly be doing in there? They had to finish by Christmas, and that date was getting closer and closer.

She came to the door and stared at it irritably, halfway expecting it to open just because she wanted it to. But, of course, it didn't. So she reached for the handle. That didn't work- it was securely locked shut. She soon sought out the key she knew rested on top of the door, but she just couldn't reach it, even on the tips of her toes. Regina was just about ready to scream something entirely inappropriate when she heard a loud bark from behind. She whipped herself around and gave Jupiter a menacing glare as she brought her finger up to her lips to shush her. Then, she got an idea. Picking the puppy up, she raised her arms again towards the very top of the door, using the squirming puppy to swipe the key off the ledge. But still, it didn't work. The key didn't seem to be there.

"Mom?" Came Henry's voice, staring at her like she was on drugs, "what the heck are you doing?"

Her face substantially paled as she slowly lowered her arms and turned towards him. "Nothing... Why aren't you in the shower?"

It took him a few seconds to find words. "Roland forgot his bubble bath... You know Dad took the key, right?"

"Well I realize that now, thanks for sharing." She shot back in harsh sarcasm, letting Jupiter go free, "I don't care what your father says, I have to know what's behind that door! You'll help me, right Henry?"

The boy suddenly felt skittish as she came closer to him. "Uh- I don't know if Dad would like that- but right now I have to help Roland with his bath." He stuttered, resisting the pure urgency in her facial expression as he bolted for the bathroom door. Regina could only stare blankly at where he once was, hearing the lock to the bathroom click. Feeling utterly defeated, she decided to head back downstairs and watch TV. She knew it wouldn't help with distracting her, but it was something. Christmas couldn't come fast enough.

The lines at the convenience store had never been longer. Practically all the Storybrooke residents, be them royalty or shepherds, were out and about the store looking for Christmas presents. Regina swore she was just in this situation just yesterday, desperately searching for something to give to Roland for his birthday.

Clutched in her little boy's hands was a list of not so neatly written names- everyone they were planning on inviting. "Ruby! What can I get her Mommy?"

Regina sighed, glancing down at their cart, that was already filled to the brim with presents. Her son was determined to get every single person his own present, which meant they were finding three presents per person, among the three of them. She was beginning to run out of ideas on what exactly to buy- some of the choices were obvious, like getting Emma a couple pairs of blue dress shirts as an inside joke. Ruby though, she was difficult. The woman seemed to have everything she could ever want. Regina thought about asking Will, but she doubted he knew.

"Mommy!" Roland repeated, sounding irritable as he tugged on her coat.

"Oh, uh... Chapstick? I bet she'd love that," Regina said ambiguously, selecting the first tube she saw and handing it to him.

Thankfully, he seemed to like that present. "What about Granny?"

She stopped herself from releasing a groan. Things were still a tad rocky between them; Regina didn't know if she could ever forget the whole bathroom thing. Now she had to find something to get her for Christmas?

"Why don't you... Draw her a picture?" She suggested, completely out of ideas. After putting some thought into what she would get the older woman, she decided on simony writing her a letter. It wasn't much, but at least it was something.

"Do I have to get everyone something?" Henry asked behind them. For a minute, Regina forgot he was with them.

Turning around, she gave him a look. "Well, I suppose you don't have to, but where's the fun in that?"

Roland was quick to come to her side. "Santa would want you to give everyone presents!"

The twelve year old sent him a dark glance; he was just about to say something negate about Santa, before Regina stopped him. "It doesn't matter Roland, surely Henry has something up his sleeve."

She sent him a menacing narrow of the eyes to shut him up, which worked almost instantly.

"What about Mr. Gold? What can I get him?" Roland asked, whacking her senses back into reality.

"Why do you need to get him anything?" She asked, before she knew what she was saying.

Her five year old gave her a horrified look. "Mommy! You said I could get presents for everyone!"

He was right; Christmas wasn't about to be ruined by him like Thanksgiving was. Robin practically forced her to invite him and Belle.

"Fine, choose something from around here that's not too expensive." She told him, quickly resolving the issue. Once he was gone, it was only her and Henry- and his told-you-so smirk.

Nonetheless, she was going to make the most out of the holiday with her family. Nobody was going to get in her way.

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