After her dramatic departure from the court house Emma went to Regina’s. She spent much of her time there speaking to the unconscious woman. Hoping that the information would somehow get through and provide comfort Emma spoke of her forgiveness and of the love both she and Henry truly felt for her. After several hours she left for Granny’s Diner to meet up with Henry and bring him home.
Snow White was sitting at the back of the diner when Emma arrived. Knowing that Henry wouldn't be arriving for a while she went back to sit with her mother while she waited. “Hi” She said softly. Snow looked up and Emma could see that Snow’s eyes were red from crying. She waited for her mother to speak.
“It was strange after you left,” Snow said quietly. Emma nodded for her to continue. “John Ivy, a member of Regina’s personal guard stood up to speak. He said he wanted to confirm all that you had declared about her.”
Emma’s eyebrows went up in surprise. “Why would he do that?”
“Well,” Snow said. “There are people that were loyal to Regina.” She smiled softly at Emma’s look of confusion. “If she had no loyal subjects I wouldn't have had to fight to get the kingdom back. Anyway, after he said his peace he got down on one knee and offered me his allegiance.” Snow shook her head as if she was not sure how she felt about it. “I asked him why, if he was loyal to Regina, he would do that. He said Regina’s abdication yesterday made him and all her people mine.”
Emma cocked her head in question and said, “Abdication?”
Snow’s smile showed a touch of irony as she continued. “It’s like retirement for a monarch. He insists that Regina had taken the roll of lady protector and was holding the throne for me to be ready. He believes that when she called me Your Majesty and said she would defer to my ruling she was actually abdicating.” Snow teared up again and said, “What a mess!” She wiped her tears and continued. “It was all so black and white before. Now it’s not.”
Emma barked a little laugh laced with pain. “You don't say.” She said sarcastically.
Snow grimaced and asked, “Are you really going to press charges against Rumplestiltskin?”
“Yes,” Emma said. “I have a very long list of people who need to be held accountable for their actions.”
Snow sighed as she replied. “That will make things complicated.” Her tone was almost beseeching. Snow clearly wished for a different answer.
“No,” Emma’s voice was harsh. “That will make this supposed justice true.”
As she looked into her mother’s eyes she saw a flash of fear. Emma knew that fear intimately. As her daughter opened her mouth to speak Snow looked like she was bracing herself for rejection. “You know I hate this, I think everyone blaming Regina is wrong.” Tears were flowing freely down Snow’s face as Emma continued. “I think she deserves a fresh start, we all do.” She put her hand over Snow’s and the two women locked eyes. “You wont loose me over this. I’m not going any where.”
Snow’s tears turned into tears of relief. She could barely choke out her response. “Thank you, I couldn't bare to lose you again.”
“It’s your world, your rules. I don't understand them but I know I can’t interfere more then I have.” Tears were now falling down Emma’s face. “I'm sad and need some space but I don't hate you and I won’t abandon you.” The gentle hold of the women’s hands turned in to a tight grip, a promise of faithfulness.
When the bell on the door jingled Emma turned to see her son enter the diner. Snow immediately moved from their table to a counter seat. If she didn't already know, the angry look Henry gave her clearly showed Snow he wasn't going to be talking to her.
“I don’t understand how you can talk to her. You know what she is going to do. She is supposed to be one of the good guys and she isn’t!”
Emma shook her head. “Henry don’t you see what you are doing? You can’t just decide to hate someone because they don't live up to your expectations.” She put her finger under his chin so he was looking her in the eye. “That didn't work out so well with Regina did it?” He shook his head. “Well, she’s my mom Henry. I don't like what is happening but she is still my mom.”
Snow was blatantly eavesdropping on Emma and Henry’s conversation. She was glad that Emma was defending their relationship but not really sure how much she liked being compared to her former step-mother.
“Do you think if Mom promised to undo the curse and find a way back to the Enchanted forest people would forgive her? Maybe they won't kill her if they know she will try to get them home.” Snow thought that might be a plan with a possibility until she heard Emma laughing at the idea.
“Hell no!” Emma responded. “If she found a way to send us all back to the Enchanted Forest three quarters of the town would stone her so she couldn’t!”
Snow White’s back stiffened at such blasphemy.
“What do you mean?” Henry asked. “Grama says everyone wants to go back.”
Emma patted her son on the shoulder. “Henry, really think about it. The people that want to go back or even punish your mother are in the minority. Have you noticed that in a city of over 9000 people it is only the same few hundred making any noise?” Henry cocked his head for her to continue.
“Do you think that the average pig farmer really cares about the death of a king or the plight of a princess? They don't care if Snow or Regina is in charge as long as their basic needs are met.”
“But mom did bad things.”
“Sure, but so did most kings and queens. She was just scarier because she had magic. A lot of the stuff she is blamed for she didn't even do. Rumpelstiltskin and neighboring rulers did many things that Regina was blamed for. Of course the curse took it all to a whole new level.”
The waitress, Ruby, interrupted their chat and took their identical orders of burgers, fries and a coke. Then Emma continued. “Think about all of the people who were in the court house yesterday. They were Snow’s friends, other royals, people who had shops and those that served the royals. These folks had life pretty good in The Enchanted Forest. The rest woke up here and were just glad not to be living on dirt floors anymore.”
“But what about true love?” Henry’s voice rose as he expressed his disbelief that most of the cursed people were fine with it. “What about their happy endings?”
Snow smiled thinking, Ha, he has you there, take that!
Emma rolled her eyes. “Ok Henry your right all of the true love couples have a legitimate beef. I’ll grab a pen and we can make a list of the true love folks.” She held her pen over the paper expectantly. “Ok so who are they?”
“Grama and Gramps”
Snow was pleased to hear Henry start with her and Charming.
“Who else?” Emma asked. Henry was quiet and then scratched his head.
“I don’t know? Are there more?”
“Not that I know of.” His birthmother replied.
“Well,” Henry huffed, “people still lost their happy endings.”
You go guy, Snow thought to herself.
Emma took a swig of her coke and then continued. “Henry there is a reason that fairy tales are all most all about royalty. For most people in the enchanted forest a happy ending was having a hot meal at the end of the day. And honestly who would want to read about that!”
As Emma and Henry finished their meal and left the restaurant Snow was lost in thought. She was shocked by Emma’s views on her subject’s feelings about the curse. It was even more shocking that she actually believed Emma to be correct. With a new understanding of the life of her subjects Snow White left Granny’s and headed to the town office to decide the fate of the kingdom and its former queen.
Henry started to shake his head no as Emma pulled her car in to the driveway of Regina’s mansion. “Emma I can’t go in there. Please I can’t see her.
Emma turned to him. She was racking her brain to find a way to prepare Henry for what he will find inside. “Henry you don't have to worry. I promise she doesn't blame you. She still loves you.”
“I don’t know what to say to her,” Henry whispered. “How can I tell her how sorry I am.”
“You don't have to say anything to her. You don't have to see her. She-”
“Oh right!” Henry interrupted her. “I should just sneak up to my room and hide?” His was practically yelling as he continued. “That sucks!”
Emma put her hands up in surrender. “No Henry that’s not what I mean.” She gentled her voice and patted his shoulder. “Regina won’t know you are there because she’s unconscious.” She took a deep breath and continued. “Her magic is too strong. It would never let her subject her self to her sentence. She put herself under a sleeping spell so no one will get hurt.”
“Oh,” Henry responded. “Oh,” he said again as he slowly nodded and got out of the car. Once they were in the mansion the two went directly to Regina’s side. Henry touched his mother’s hand and began to bend over to kiss her cheek
“Don’t,” Emma Said sharply. She was petrified that he would be subject to the horror of his mother’s memories.
“I didn't think I could face her but now I need to. Maybe she’ll wake up so I can say sorry.”
“Kid, this is how she wants it. We need to honor her wishes.” Emma cringed internally as she recognized her own hypocrisy. They stood together silently at her side for a few minutes. Then Emma took her son’s hand and led him to the TV room. “Where’s the Nintendo buddy? I really need to blow something up.” Henry set it up and they spent the rest of the evening blowing up Bowser in Mario kart.
Henry slept in his room for the first time since the curse had broken. Emma slept on the couch in the study. She couldn't face being away from Regina when she knew time was short. At seven AM Emma’s phone woke her. She glanced at the caller id and knew it was her mother on the line. “Hello,” she answered in a raspy morning voice.
“Good morning honey,” Snow said. “The announcement will be made this morning. I would like you, Henry and Regina to meet us there at Nine.”
“I don’t want to be there Snow, neither do Henry or Regina. You can come tell us here after you've addressed your adoring public.”
“Emma we need to do this as a family, I need you there.”
Emma’s voice had a sharp edge as she replied. “So you think my son and I should act like this is ok? You think that our blood relationship trumps his love for Regina?”
“I know I made a huge mistake and was not a good mother. I know I was young and naive and could have been a better queen.” Snow took a deep breath and continued. “But like it or not I am your mother and your queen.”
Emma began to interrupt her mother but Snow would not allow it. “No, Emma, you used your status as princess to speak in front of the town. No one but my royal daughter would have been allowed to speak to me in such a way. Henry has spent a week enjoying the roll of prince. Oddly he has been enjoying the title as the son of a princess when he could have claimed son of a queen.”
Emma stared at the sleeping Regina while her mother continued. “You and Henry will be standing by us as the proclamation is made. Regina has publicly stated she would yield to my rule. Are you and Henry going to do any less?”
Emma realized it was time to decide. She promised her mother she would not loose her, yet by avoiding her responsibilities she would be rejecting her family. If she cried while they did it, so be it. She was loosing her friend, her love, she need not pile more loss on top of that. “Henry and I will be there. Regina will not.”
“Thank you Emma. All we have to do is stand together while the proclamation is read.”
“Oh my god,” Emma said incredulously. “A proclamation, is that like when they say ‘hear ye, hear ye’ in the movies?” She paused waiting for a response that didn't come. “Snow, are they actually going to say ‘hear ye, hear ye’?”
“It’s custom,” Snow said stiffly. “Royalty does not make announcements. The crier does.”
While riding to city hall Henry was clearly angry about his required attendance. Emma tried to help. “Look at it this way kid. We are going to stand up there and be strong just like your mom would have. You saw her in the court room, she didn't flinch as they yelled at her. We are going to stand there strong for her.”
When they met Snow and Charming at the town office Emma’s jaw dropped. Her mother and father looked ready to give audience in a thrown room. Both were dressed in royal finery with circlets on their heads. The blue fairy was standing by them with her wand clearly visible. “Henry, I know you are angry but you are royal and this is part of it.” Snow spoke quietly to him. Blue waved her wand and his clothes changed to a suit matching his grandfather’s. Emma stepped back.
“Oh please this is too cliche. You’re not going to have a fairy god mother magic me in to a dress.” Snow nodded her head yes and Emma shook her head no. Henry spoke up before she could object further.
“You said we had to do this. So get over your self and lets get this over with. I want to go back to Mom.” Emma closed her mouth and nodded. She was grateful that her dress was relatively plain yet still elegant. The circlet around her head pulled uncomfortably at her hair.
In just another moment the doors opened for the family to step out on the town steps. A man standing off to the side unrolled a parchment and began to call out. “Hear ye, hear ye, Let it be know in the kingdom of the enchanted forest that Queen Regina has abdicated the thrown and title of Lady Protecter. It is with Joy we announce the ascension of Queen Snow.” Emma and Henry looked at each other confused. Some members of the crowed cheered while others looked as confused as the prince and princess.
The crier continued. “The royal family, Queen Snow, King David, Princess Emma, Prince Henry and the Dowager Queen Regina invite you to the coronation three weeks hence.” Now there was some spontaneous cheering from the crowd as they realized the kingdom would once again be whole and under one uncontested queen.
“By the order of Queen Snow this joyous occasion will be commemorated with clemency for all. Let the dungeons be cleared of its prisoners. All is forgiven as we move together as a kingdom united!”
At this, John Ivy the former head of Regina’s personal guard stepped forward and made the traditional call “Long Live the Queen!” The crowed responded in kind and cheered.
Emma leaned over to Henry and whispered, “Do we have any dungeons?”
“I guess maybe the Jail counts for that.” He responded. “Do we have any prisoners?”
“Well, there was Leroy but we let him out on the way over.”
Snow leaned over to her daughter and grandson whispering. “Smile and wave and we can get the heck out of here.” The two complied immediately and they turned and walked back in to the city hall.
The four looked at each other. Emma spoke first. “Was that a test? You let us think the worst for nothing.” Emma’s voice crackled with ager. “You let Henry cry all night over nothing?”
Snow shook her head. “I was up all night wrestling with what to do. This decision was not made lightly and it went against the wishes of my council. I became firm in my decision just before I called you.” She put her hand on Emma’s shoulder. “You did not grow up in this life and it may be hard to understand the rules. In this world when I am queen then I am queen. I owe explanations to no one.” The royal mother and daughter locked eyes and then Emma nodded concession.
“So Regina will not be punished?”
Snow rolled her eyes. “If I accept her abdication then I accept that she was queen. As queen she owes explanations to no one.” She looked at Emma seriously. “In spite of all you say there were many people who were hurt by her. By granting pardons to all I have made this decision of mine easier for them to bear.”
“So there will be no more trials, Jefferson, Rumplstilskin and the others are all forgiven?”
“They will not be brought to trial. Unpunished doesn't mean forgiven so you can continue to dislike them all you want.”
Henry piped up, “So my mom will not be punished?”
David laughed. “I don't know Henry. After she hears herself referred to as the dowager queen a few times she might just throw herself in prison.” Snow laughed loudly in agreement.
Henry looked puzzled. “What does dowager queen mean?”
“It is a title usually given to the widow of a king. It basically means she is a queen with no power because her spouse is gone and his heir is on the throne. Often referred to as the queen mother a dowager queen is generally quite old.”
Emma closed her eyes, “Yea, she’s gonna hate that!”
Snow smiled as she held out her hand to her grandson, “Friends.”
Henry smiled up at her and nodded, “Friends.”
“Well, I guess we should go tell the dowager queen about her new title.” Snow said as she headed for the door. Emma and Henry looked at each other and shrugged. Nether sure what to say about the situation back at the mansion.