Not as it Seems

24

Emma and Regina walked into the dining room hand in hand. Regina's father,Henry, looked up and greeted Regina first, "Regina? Mi hija! It has been too long." Henry got up from his chair and pulled Regina into a hug.

Regina returned the hug without letting go of Emma's hand and kissed her father on the cheek.

Henry looked down at Emma and bent down to her height, "And who is this beauty?"

Regina looked at Emma and said, "Daddy this is Emma, my daughter."

Henry looked at Emma and smiled, "Well hello Emma. I guess that makes me your abuelo."

Emma shyly took a step forward and stuck out her hand. Henry laughed and gave Emma a small shake.

Cora watched the whole interaction and couldn't stop looking at Emma. She didn't know this child, but she felt this bubble of happiness in her chest.

Regina called out to Cora and said, "Hello mother. It is lovely to see you again."

Cora smiled and walked over to Regina and Emma.

Cora gave Regina a kiss on the cheek and wiped away the lipstick stain she left.

Regina sighed and said, "Emma, say hello to my mother."

Emma looked up at Cora with the biggest green eyes Cora had ever seen and waved, "Hi... mommy's mom."

Regina couldn't help but smile. Henry stood back waiting to see how Cora reacted.

Cora took a step forward and bent down to Emma's height. Regina and Henry both tensed afraid Cora would say or do something that would frighten Emma. To both of their surprises Cora smiled, a genuine smile, and said, "Darling, you call me Nona."

Emma smiled and gave Cora a hug, "Sorry for running into yous at the park Nona"

Cora was so stunned by the hug that she almost missed Emma's apology. Cora looked up at Regina with wide almost scared eyes. Regina just smiled and looked over to Henry.

Cora finally regained her senses and wrapped Emma into a hug, "That's quite alright honey"

Cora released Emma and stood up, "Well I think it is time for brunch don't you think?"

Regina and Henry nodded. Regina picked up Emma and sat her down in one of the dining room chairs. Emma was a little small for the table but figured she would just help Emma eat.

Cora noticed that Emma wasn't quite reaching the table and made a suggestion, "Emma, how about you and I go sit at the table in the sun room and let your mommy and abuelo talk?"

Emma looked back at Regina, asking for permission. Regina nodded her head and helped Emma down.

Emma walked over to Cora and stood in front of her. Cora held out her hand for Emma to take and Emma instantly grabbed a hold of her hand.

Cora led Emma to the sun room which was through the large french doors, located next to the dining room.

Regina could see Emma and Cora walking hand in hand into the sunroom. Cora called Terri out to the sun room and probably told her to bring her meal to her out there and to get something for Emma as well.

Terri returned to Cora and Emma with two sandwiches and a glass of milk for both.

Regina was staring at Emma and her mother when Henry took a hold of her hand. Regina's attention was pulled away from the tender moment happening a few feet away from her, and directed to her father.

Henry looked from Regina to Emma and Cora, they were both eating peanut butter and banana sandwiches and laughing. He looked back at Regina and said, "I don't know what that little girl did when she ran into your mother yesterday, but I haven't seen her like this in over 35 years."

Regina looked at her father and said, "I don't know what she did either, but I have never seen mother eat a sandwich much less a peanut butter and banana sandwich."

Terri placed their food down on the table and quietly walked away allowing father and daughter to have some privacy. Both Regina and Henry thanked Terri as she closed the dining room doors.

Henry chuckled and said, "Regina your mother was a different person before you were born. The woman I fell in love with, the woman I married, that- that is her. It wasn't until after I encouraged her to go into business did she start changing. Some of what happened to her was my fault."

Regina looked at her father and realized, this was the first time ever that he has talked about what Cora was like before the power hungry business tycoon took over.

Regina was thinking about how much Emma has changed her life in just the short time that she has been with her. She made her re-think what she wants out of life, she made her mother seem human again, she gave Regina a family.

Henry tapped Regina on the hand when he realized that she didn't hear him. "I'm sorry daddy. What did you say?"

Henry smiled and said, "How did you get Emma? I know she isn't biologically yours, so I am wondering how you came to parent a what 4, 5 year old?"

Regina smiled sadly, "She is four and a half. She is a orphan... was an orphan." Regina then told Henry all about how she got Emma.

When Regina finished her story Henry had tears in his eyes. "How could someone be so cruel?"

Regina shook her head and said, "I don't know daddy. Emma is such a lovable girl. I know mother wasn't the best but she never... she never physically hurt me. I can't image being a parent and hurting a child, foster or not."

Henry smiled and asked, "So you see yourself as a parent to Emma? Not just a temporary guardian?"

Regina thought about it for a second and replied, "Yes, I want to be Emma's mother. I think I can do it. I love her, so much."

Henry looked back at Emma and Cora. Emma was now sitting in Cora's lap as Cora pointed out the different plants in the sun room.

Regina smiled at the sight and thought Who knew, all it took to melt my mothers cold heart was a grandchild.

Henry looked to Regina and said, "You should do it."

Regina looked confused, "Do what daddy?"

Henry patted Regina's hand and said, "Adopt her. Adopt Emma"

Regina smiled and shyly asked, "Do you think I can actually do it? Raise a child?"

Henry looked at Regina and asked her a series of questions that he knew the answer would be 'yes'. "Do you want to be her mother?, Do you want to protect her?, Are you willing to sacrifice?, Can you support her emotionally and financially?, but most importantly do you Love her?"

Regina nodded her head to all questions, "Then mi hija, I think you can most defiantly raise Emma"

Regina hugged her father and held on tight, "Thank you daddy."

Cora and Emma emerged from the doors just as Regina and Henry pulled away.

Emma ran over to Regina and lifted her arms. Regina instantly picked her up and placed her on her lap. Emma started talking about all the things her Nona told her, "did you know that there are horsies here?! Like real ones! And Nona said when it gets warm out abulto can teach me's to ride! And there is a flower that turns all purple! cat nations!"

Regina looked up at her mother confused for a moment. Cora mouthed 'Carnations' and Regina nodded her head.

Emma finally told Regina about all the cool things Nona shared with her.

Regina realized she hadn't eaten yet so she shifted Emma so it was easier for her to eat her long forgotten salad.

Emma had her head resting against Regina's shoulder, her legs dangling across thighs, with Regina's strong arm around her back which held her closely and securely.

Regina and Cora had a civil conversation for the first time in years, ranging from business to fashion.

It was actually Henry who realized that Emma had fallen asleep.

Cora looked at a sleeping Emma and smiled. "Regina darling, go put Emma up in your old room, let her sleep."

Regina was too focused looking at Emma's serene face to hear her mother. Henry cleared his throat which got Regina's attention. "Sorry. What was that?"

Cora and Henry both looked at each other and then back at Regina. "Your mother suggested that you put Emma up in your old room, to let her sleep."

Regina hesitated, "She doesn't like to wake up without me there."

Cora nodded and said well then, "How about we go to the living room? Emma can take the large couch. This way you can both keep an eye on each other."

Regina nodded and scooped Emma up into her arms and stood up. Much more gracefully than the first time she attempted the move in the Boston Police station.

Regina, Henry, and Cora all moved the the luxurious living room. Regina gently laid Emma down on the leather couch. Henry went up stairs and grabbed a warm blanket from the linen closet and gently laid it over Emma.

Emma snuggled into the warm blanket and curled up into a ball.

Regina bent down and brushed Emma's blonde curls from her face and kissed Emma on the temple.

Regina stood and walked to where her parents were sitting. She poured herself a drink and sat down.

Henry and Cora smiled. Regina looked at them questionably, "What?"

Cora opened and closed her mouth a few times, a move Regina had never in her life seen Cora do. She finally found the words, "I am sorry Regina."

Regina was taken aback, "Sorry? Sorry for what?"

Cora sighed and said, "For not being the mother you needed. I look at you with Emma and think back, I never did that. I wasn't... I am so sorry."

Regina looked at her mother, she was apologizing. Cora Mills never apologizes. Regina took a big gulp of her drink and asked, "Why? Why weren't you?" Regina needed to know? Why was she so cruel and cold?

Cora sighed, "I didn't know how? Not for a child. I didn't know how to be a mother, a wife yes, a business woman yes, but a mother.. no idea. So I taught and showed you what I knew. I made sure you would have the tools to be whoever you wanted to be. But darling please, please don't follow in my foot steps. Love her, be her mother."

Cora and Regina both had tears streaming down their faces. Cora stood and opened her arms to Regina. Regina quickly stood and engulfed her mother in a tight embrace.

Henry looked on misty eyed, he knew this was a long time coming, he was just glad that he is around to see loves of his life finally take a step towards fixing their oh so battered relationship. Henry then looked over the couch at a sleeping Emma, he smiled and whispered a small 'thank you'. Even though Emma doesn't know it she is healing so many broken hearts, and for that he is forever in her debt.


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