We Can Love Again

Christmas Time is Here (Part 1)

One week later...

The house smelt like a mix of fresh pine and turkey, which was slowly baking in the oven. Roland was practically bouncing off the walls, shouting gleefully "Santa was here! Santa was here!" Over and over again as he impatiently waited fake his parents to come down the stairs. It was Christmas morning.

"Henry when will everyone come?" The child asked, still dressed in his fleece pajamas.

"Hold up, they'll come soon," Henry replied, still wiping the sleep from his eyes. Though my was already eight in the morning, the two boys hadn't gotten much sleep.

"Merry Christmas!" Came a voice from behind him, causing both of them to smile. Regina encased her boys in a hug, kissing the tops of their heads and squeezing them tight.

"Are you ready for a big day today?" She asked, just as Robin came up behind her.

"Yes!" They said in unison, smiling from ear to ear. Their living room had transformed into a gold mine, filled with presents wrapped in all colors under their giant pine tree they had successfully dragged in from the forest.

"Well, why don't we start some breakfast first," their mother proposed, giving Robin a glance, "I told everyone to show up around eleven, but who knows if they'll listen or not. Doesn't really matter."

Wrapping his arms around her shoulders, Robin smiled. "I'll help you- I've gotten better at cooking, you can't deny that."

Regina responded with a roll of her eyes. "I suppose you have. Now boys, don't you are touch those presents!"

She pulled her hair into a ponytail, and they set off in the kitchen. The air was quick to become filled with the delicious scents of bacon and other breakfast foods.

Regina felt as though she were on a right schedule, fighting for every second that passed with the fear that someone was going to arrive extremely early and throw them all off balance.

"I can't believe Santa ate all my cookies!" Roland exclaimed as his mother presented him with his breakfast.

Regina couldn't help but chuckle as she remembered how she had simply raked the dozen cookies into a bag, planning on giving it to Neal secretly when he arrived.

"I know, I bet he was hungry. But you better eat up, we have a half hour until people will start coming and this house has to be spotless."

"Do you think Santa got me what I wanted?" Roland said, through a mouthful of sausage.

Regina sat down next to him and helped him cut up his food. "I don't know, let's hope. I still can't believe that out of everything else you could've asked for, it was just a few coloring books. There isn't anything else you want?"

The question had been bothering her since he revealed it.

"I don't need anything else," Roland replied, his smile as genuine as they came, "I have the bestest family in the whole world. Nothing else matters."

It was moments like these where Regina felt as though she were the child, and he the adult. His words made her heart feel like it was glowing inside of her.

"That's right, and you never forget that. I know our family is big and complicated, but we all love each other." She told him, as if it were the most important thing in the world- it was, really. But he knew.

"I love you, Momma," her precious little boy told her, a bright smile on his face, "I never want Christmas to end!"

She gave a quick but gentle kiss to his forehead. "I love you too. You've made my Christmas just about a thousand times better. Now- are you ready to have fun today?"

Obviously, his answer was an enthusiastic yes. As the time crept closer to everyone's arrival, Regina got herself in her extreme cleaning mode. She and Robin managed to clean every nook and cranny of their house spotless in what seemed like no time flat, leaving no trace of their breakfast. There was just enough time for her to change into a sweater before the doorbell began to ring.

They were greeted by ambitious smiles, groups of their friends and family coming in at once with snow strewn in their hair and on the bottoms of their shoes. Some of them had in their arms one present, others had two, three, even four. Robin and Regina welcomed them all as they trickled in, passing out blankets and mugs of cocoa as they dropped their hats and coats.

"Thank you for inviting us!" Belle said to Regina, giving her a hug.

"Anytime! Glad you could make it," she responded, keeping her happy attitude going, even when she caught sight of Rumplestiltskin standing beside her.

"Where should we put this?" She asked, showing her the pecan salad she had made.

Regina pointed towards the fridge. "If there's room in there. I imagine we'll be eating in about an hour or so."

The fact that she had made no certain plans for the event made her feel relaxed, like she could completely be herself with no one objecting. Regina loved this; being able to just talk with people, get to know them better.

That's exactly what they were doing. About fifty people were crammed in their living room- lining their couch, sitting on the floor, everywhere there was space.

"Hey- guys!" Robin finally got everyone's attention, silencing the million conversations that were going on at once. "First off, Regina and I thank you all for coming. We're going to have a fun time today. I know lots of you brought presents- we'll open them all here in a little bit, and eat all the food you guys made. But, for now, let's have a Merry Christmas."

A cheer arose from the crowd, praising them for all they had done.

"I've been waiting for you to smarten up and host a party," Hook mused, giving him a hearty slap on the back with his good hand. "Now tell me- where's all the rum?"

Robin gave him a look. "Sorry mate, Regina gave me strict no alcohol rules- we can't have everyone drunk with our kids around." He leaned in slightly, knowing him all too well. "But I have a few bottles of whiskey in the back closet. Don't tell many other people, or we both know Regina will kill me."

Killian revealed a sly smile. "And this is why you're my favorite."

He was off in a flash, careful to avoid Emma on his way to the closet.

"Do you think Paige and I can go over to Nick and Ava's house for a bit?" Henry asked, finally spotting his mother talking to Mother Superior amongst the crowds of people.

Regina wrapped her arms around her son. "Aren't they here? I made sure to invite them, and their father."

"I don't think they're here," Henry responded sourly.

"Well, maybe in a little bit. Mother Superior and I were having a conversation actually, so why don't you say hello and be polite." Her voice hinted some dissatisfaction.

Looking up at the nun, Henry gave her a sheepish smile. "Sorry... Hi Blue."

"You're getting so tall since the last time I saw you," she mused, suddenly feeling like an awkward great aunt to the boy rather than a friend.

He gave Paige a distressed look when he had the chance, and she responded with a sympathetic shrug, dashing off back into the mass of people. When Henry attempted to follow her, his mother responded by holding him tighter.

"Oh, and I managed to get one of my spells to work, one that connected this realm with the Enchanted Forest. I got in touch with Tinkerbell, and she told me that she's doing perfectly fine with the other fairies and she really missed you. I told her that you and Robin are getting married soon, and that you two were expecting a baby in a few months. She said she couldn't be more proud of you."

Regina smiled. "Really? I really do miss her. If there's another way to travel realms, I'd love to try it. She would enjoy it here."

"Oh, I'm sure she would," Blue replied, "if I ever get to talk to her again, I'll mention it to her. Now Henry- how has your Christmas been?"

He had only been paying partial attention to the conversation. "Great! I love having everyone here for Christmas."

"You sure have a lot of presents lined up over there," she smiled, glancing over her shoulder. "But do you know what the real meaning of Christmas is? Why we have presents?"

With a slightly confused expression, Henry shook his head.

"Well, today is the day that baby Jesus was born," she explained, "he's the son of God, and he was sent to this realm to save everyone from sin. When he was born, lots of people came to visit him, and gave him gifts."

Regina soon found herself intrigued by what the nun was saying. She remembered attending one sermon while she was queen, but she had never fully understood the concept of a God.

"So God lives in another realm?" Henry asked, "is there any way to know more about Him?"

Blue laughed slightly. "That's what I do, practically every day. He lives up on Heaven, and that's where you go after you die."

Henry smiled. Believing in something that couldn't be seen was right up his ally.

"That sounds really cool. Mom, you never told me that Christmas was about God."

Regina shrugged. "I've never really known myself."

Mother Superior put a hand on her shoulder. "Well, it's never too late to learn. Christmas is a holiday for families to come together, and that's the most important thing."

Then, a pair of arms engulfed Regina in a hug from behind, startling her slightly. "I finally found you!" Will mused, Roland right by his side.

"I feel like I haven't seen you in forever!" She exclaimed, "you totally lied when you said you would visit all the time."

He rolled his eyes. "I visit all the time! Robin sent me to find you; he says it's just about time to start with the presents."

When she saw the green bottle in his hand, Regina eyed him suspiciously. "Where did you get that?"

"Nowhere." Will was quick to respond, "but come on- I want presents just as much as you do."

She barely had enough time to wave goodbye to Blue before her brother whisked her away.

"We both know you just want to see what Ruby got you," she muttered, knowing she was right. Everyone was waiting for them to arrive, the surprisingly large pile of presents in the middle of their living room floor.

"I think since Regina and Robin are the hosts, they should get their presents first," Granny offered, once they entered. Both Will and Regina took a seat next to Snow and Robin, who saved them seats on the couch.

"Please, I don't need presents first," Regina said quickly.

"Yes you do," Snow argued, "you deserve the best treatment out there."

With that, she handed her a small package wrapped in blue. "You can start with this one- from me and David."

Rather hesitantly, she opened it up. It was a small slip of paper with the words Storybrooke Stables written across the top.

"What's this?"

"A year pass to the stables!" Her stepdaughter said, "it means you can go whenever you want for free. I had to talk Ghepetto into making it a thing, but he did."

Regina could only stare down at it in amazement. She had never even thought about going back there; the memory of Daniel there still made her skittish inside. But the idea of going to visit the horses whenever she wanted... It made her excited.

"Once you have the baby of course. Can't raise that baby girl without introducing her to horses."

Regina knew that was true. "Thank you do much!"

There was no hesitation in wrapping her arms around her. That was how the next few hours went for her. She was given presents every which way, one after another, and thanked every single person for all their love.

"Alright, I need to give Robin his present now, before I drown in gifts." She said, setting a new makeup set from Ruby down next to her.

"Oh no, I'm in trouble aren't I," Robin said jokingly, as she grabbed another present from the pile and handed it to him.

"You'll like it, I promise."

Opening it as slowly as he could, her fiancé purposely built the tension, until a square object came into view, the front covered over with glass.

"What's this? A picture frame?" He asked, holding it out so he could get a better look at it.

Regina smiled. "Yes, so you can fill them with pictures," she told him, sounding more than excited about it, "because pictures are memories, they're always there to look back on, no matter what happens in the future."

A smile snuck onto Robin's face as he imagined those frames filled with images of his future wife, his kids, even all the friends he had made in the past couple of months.

"This is probably the best present I could ever think of getting," he told her, leaning in to give her a quick kiss. Upon doing so, both Henry and Roland cringed.

"Okay love birds, times up." Emma said, causing them to laugh. "Regina, I'm surprised you haven't been jumping up and down over the nursery."

When she heard this, Regina's eyes lit up. "Yes! Do I get to know now?"

Robin quickly exchanged a glance with Neal and Killian before turning his attention back to her. "I don't see why not..."

She was up in a flash, taking his hand and starting for the stairs. Everyone followed behind them, all anxious to know what could possibly be behind that door.

When the couple reached the end of the hallway, where the door to the nursery lay, she looked ready to burst with excitement.

Once again, her fate was blocked from sight by nothing but a door.

Robin opened it, and gestured for her to enter.

She did, and she couldn't believe what she saw.

A wooden rocker sat in the corner by the window, which was open, her apple tree in full view. There was a white changing table next to it, with bins filled to the brim with clothes and diapers. The crib was white as well, with pink and purple blankets already lining the bottom. All that was missing was a baby.

But the most shocking aspect of the room were the walls. The walls were covered with beautiful paintings, coming from all four sides. She saw bright green rolling hills, an azure sky, and a small cottage home, their cozy little home from the Enchanted Forest. The lake was in the picture as well, glittering and sparkling like she had remembered it. Horses galloped across the fields, foals racing right next to their mother. It was all there. Every memory, every moment, every last second of it was there.

"How... How did you do all this?" Regina asked, when she found her voice again.

Robin out his hands on her shoulders. "Well, I made the chair, with Killian's help. Ruby did most of the painting."

"I can't take all the credit," she said, "Neal did a lot of it too."

"This is amazing!" Regina told her, throwing her arms around her neck, "it's more than amazing!"

It was hard to keep her emotions in check as she hugged Neal as well. "I can't believe you kept all this a secret!"

"Well, it wasn't easy," Neal recalled, "but I guess it is possible to keep a secret from the former evil queen."

"I couldn't give anything less to our future daughter," Robin told her, causing her to turn around and give him the biggest smile he had ever seen from her. "This is absolutely perfect. I can't thank you enough."

"You're the one carrying the baby," he complied, "this was the least I could do. But I really couldn't do it all without everyone else. There were so many things to be done, but everyone was more than excited to help out."

She hadn't realized how many friends she had gotten since she had changed. So many people loved her, true love, the best kind out there. And she couldn't be more grateful.

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