Henry was not pleased when Regina declined to go to the Hospital to visit Emma. “Henry I have a lot of baking to catch up on. It will be the perfect time for me to do that while you visit Emma.”
“You could just use magic for the cookies,” Henry said sullenly.
Regina spoke sharply. “Magic is limited in this world. How would it be if the next time your grandmother wakes me up in the middle of the night to move a car or some such thing if I tell her sorry I made sugar cookies?”
David put his hand on Henry’s shoulder to move him along. “You’ll be at the Mansion?” He asked Regina.
“Shall I have him home for lunch?”
“Thank you that would be fine. If you and Snow would like to join us…” She let the sentence trail off not believing what she had just said.
“Sure,” David grinned at her discomfort. “I think Snow would like that.” Henry looked mollified by the plan.
Realizing she was putting herself in a situation where Snow could ask about uncomfortable subjects, such as Emma, Regina began to panic.
The dismay on Regina’s face was evident to David. The knowledge of her psyche that he spent the last year acquiring told him exactly why. He tossed her a reassuring smile. “I am sure Snow will love to discuss the weather and baseball with you.”
“Baseball?” Henry said shocked. “You and Grama like to talk about baseball?”
David laughed and after shooting Regina a quick wink lead his grandson out the door.
When her son and guests arrived Regina was ready with barbeque pulled pork sandwiches, coleslaw and blueberry crumble. What she wasn't ready for was Snow White’s exuberant hug and kiss.
“I didn’t have the chance to thank you! Thank you so much!”
“Yes, well, you’re welcome.” Regina said as she extricated her self from the younger woman’s arms.
“Though I must say I am glad I didn’t hear about your decimation of my honeymoon before I granted you clemency!”
The tension in the room dissipated. Regina smirked and began to serve.
“So Mom,” Henry asked coyly, “what else is Grama protected against.?” Regina rolled her eyes planning to ignore the question.
“Yes Regina,” said Snow teasingly, “along with meteors and fungus what are the other hundred or so things you have me covered for?”
“I said there were an hundred or so spells, some of them were multi purpose.”
“If I am protected against so many things how was King George able to use that infertility potion on me?”
Regina immediately turned towards David. “Your mother,” Regina said intensely, “her death was not on my orders.”
“I know.” He replied. It was George flying your flag, but I always knew it was him.”
“Then how come he could hurt Grama if she was protected?”
Regina who had never had a parent sacrifice for her kept her gaze on David. “Your mother died a noble death. She gave her life so you and Snow could have a family. I am sure knowing her death was not in vain was a great comfort to her.”
Snow gasped, “She didn't need to I was protected. Oh David!” Snow looked at her husband sorrowfully. Regina reached out and covered her hand. Such an out of character move caused a tense stillness at the table.
Regina continued to look at David. “It was good she gave the water to Snow. She died in comfort not knowing it was only rain water. She would have died either way.”
After a moment of silent reflection the hostess in Regina kicked in for a subject change. “You however,” she turned to Snow releasing her hand. “You are totally impervious to dragon fire, arsenic and unicorn urine.” Sadly for David, Henry had just taken a sip of his milk and David was now wearing it.
“Why would you have to do that?” He asked between giggles. “Do unicorns sneak up and pee poison on people in the Enchanted Forrest?”
“No but it is the base ingredient for many very nasty potions. All of which are useless against Snow.”
“So really the list would be shorter if we asked what she wasn't protected against.” David said and all eyes turned back to Regina.
“Only two things I can think of,” Regina replied. “Magic cannot make oxygen. So for an example a fire couldn't hurt her but once it has depleted the area’s oxygen she would die.”
When it looked like Regina wasn't going to continue David asked, “And?”
Regina locked her eyes on Snow and replied, “Me.”
“You,” Henry said in a shocked voice.
“Oh please,” Regina said exasperatedly. “There is nothing evil about it. One can’t cast a protection spell against themselves. It’s a law of magic, like making oxygen.”
Snow smiled, “Not that I would worry, but Blue has that covered.”
“You're joking,” Regina respond arrogantly. “She and all her sister’s wand’s together don't have enough power to thwart anything I want to do.”
“They must have,” Henry said thoughtfully. “You were never able to hurt Grama.”
Regina stood up from her seat enraged. Sparks were flying from her hands. “Would someone please burn that book!” She was practically yelling. She looked at Henry and spoke very slowly and carefully so she could not be misunderstood. “There is one reason and one reason only that Snow White was protected from me.” She had a hand in the air with her pointer finger up. She met eyes with each of the three of them and continued while glaring at Snow. “You were never hurt by me because I never wanted to hurt you, Never!” And with that she disappeared.
“Will she come back?” Henry asked in a small sad voice.
“Not right away, but I believe she will eventually.” Snow replied.
“You really do?”
“I do,” said David firmly with no room for doubt.
“How can we get in touch with her if she doesn’t?”
“Hmm,” David said with a twinkle in his eye. “I suppose we could choke your Grandmother!”
Snow looked up at the sound of her secretary’s voice. “Yes Fiona?”
“You have a visitor.”
Snow should have guessed who it was by the uncomfortable sound in Fiona’s voice.
Regina stepped in to her former office. “Here,” she said handing Snow a manilla envelope. “I finished this and thought you might like to have it for your council meeting.”
“I would, thank you.” As Regina turned to go Snow said imploringly, “Please sit down so we can talk.”
“I need to-”
“Regina you know we need to talk. If you didn't want to see me you could have magicked this right to my desk.” Snow let out a big sigh. “Cut the crap and sit down!”
Watch it,” she replied at the vulgarity. “I could still wash your mouth out with soap.”
“If it means you’ll stay and talk to me I’d bear it gladly.”
Regina sat. “Fine Snow, say what you need to say.”
“Regina, we’ve got to figure this out, figure us out. We are a family, extremely odd and dysfunctional, but a family none the less.” When there was no response she continued. “For now could you at least reach out to Henry? Get a cell phone? Tell us where you live?” When she realized no reply was forth coming Snow continued. “I don't know how to act with you. One minute we are able to talk and the next you are gone. You’ll talk about our messed up past but refuse to envision a better future.”
After a moment Regina replied. “May I pick up Henry after school and walk him home?”
“Yes,” Snow said with a great sigh of relief. “God yes!”
“As to the rest meet me at my family mausoleum after dinner. Will seven o’clock suit you?”
Snow’s responding smile was positively radiant. “I’ll be there.”
Responding to her smile Regina replied, “Don’t Snow White. Don't start visioning us a happy little family. I don't want to go through that with you again. I will make a few concessions for Henry’s sake but Do. Not. Push Me! Snow nodded and Regina turned and left.
Henry saw his mother across the school yard. Walking towards her hesitantly he was relieved to see a fond smile on her face. “I’m sorry,” were the first words out of his mouth.
Regina put her finger to his lips. “No, I am. I shouldn't have flown off the handle it was immature. I know that you have received wrong information.” She moved her finger under his chin so that they were eye to eye. “Leaving like that was wrong, especially as you had told me how much it hurt when I disappeared last year.”
He smiled and they began to walk home. “We tried to burn the book,” he said quietly. “We made a fire and threw it in.” He shook his head woefully, “It wouldn't burn.”
Regina shrugged. “Thank you for trying, but I figured as much. It had to be enchanted with all the trouble it’s caused.”
“Mom,” he said hesitantly. “I would like to know the truth. I would like to know what really happened.”
“Ok,” she said with a hint of sadness. “But a little at a time all right?”
Regina stopped at the mansion’s walk way. “Aren’t you coming in?” Henry asked.
“No,” When she saw the disappointed look on his face she continued. “Would you like me to add my new cell phone number to your contacts?”
“Awesome!” He handed it over to her. She added her number and then stared at the phone until it turned purple. Once it was normal again she handed it back to him.
“In an emergency just say, ‘Regina Help” and I will come. Otherwise just dial normally.”
“Why Regina not mom?”
“I think it will be confusing with you calling us both, your birthmother and me, mom. Regina is fine for me.”
“I would know who I was talking to.” Henry said with an impish smile. “Calling you Regina would feel strange.”
“Yes, well, I am sure it will feel normal over time.” She gave him a forced smile. “Would you like to join me for lunch on Sunday? Its warm enough for a picnic in the park.”
“Sure,” he said smiling. “Do you want me to check when the others will be free?”
“I was thinking just us. Is that ok?”
“Oh I thought it would be a family time.”
“Henry,” she rubbed his back at the shoulders with the palm of her hand. “The curse is broken and you've found your real family. Having you as my son for those eleven years was the best thing that ever happened to me. I love you now and forever. But I am not a part of that family.” Before he could respond she said, “I’ll meet you here at eleven.” And she was gone.
Snow arrived at the Mills mausoleum at the appointed hour.
“Welcome to my vault,” Regina said as she pushed her father sarcophagus. It moved to reveal a staircase. They went down.
“Nice job with the push-me pull-me you did on Henry today.” Snow was clearly angry.
“I love you and I will always come for you,” Snow said in a sing song voice. “But I am not a part of your family. Don't call me mom.” Snow’s voice got hard. “Damn it Regina Henry is confused enough!”
“Confused you want confused. Let’s see what happens with me in the picture. His grandmother becomes his step sister and his grandfather is his brother-in-law. His birth mother becomes his niece and his mother becomes his great grandmother.” She exhaled in exasperation. “It’s like some damn country and western song!”
Snow chuckled, “When you put it that way our family tree is a little awkward.”
“Oh no Snow, it doesn’t hit awkward until you add the granddaughter who has deluded herself to believe she is in love with her grandmother!”
“Regina stop, none of that matters. Well, the part about Emma being in love with you does but the rest is just a list of silly excuses. I know you need more time for this to feel comfortable but we are not going away. We want you to be part of our family.” Snow suddenly got a faraway look in her eyes. “You know if you and Emma do work out then she also becomes my step-mother and-”
“Stop!” Regina said forcefully.
Snow grinned and looked around at Regina’s private vault. “Two points to Henry, he was sure this is where you were living.”
“He was wrong,” Regina replied pointing to a blank wall. “Through that door way is a tunnel that leads to my home. I realize that if I am going to have Henry visit you have a right to know where he is.”
“I don’t see a door.” Snow said squinting her eyes as if that would change the view.
“You will have access to this room and see the door under two conditions.” Snow nodded to show she was paying attention. “You will never enter this room or my home without an invitation, never unless there are dire circumstances. And you will tell no one.”
“Of course Regina,” Snow replied confidently. “I am sure I can speak for David and Emma as well.”
“What part of ‘no one’ was unclear?” Regina’s eyes drilled into Snow’s. “Can you promise?”
Snow sighed and rolled her eyes. “This is a test to see if little Snow has learned her lesson. I have and I will.” She continued with annoyance clear in her voice. “Barring a dire emergency I agree with your conditions.”
Regina handed her a needle and small ceramic dish. “Prick your finger.”
“Wow,” Snow said in surprise. “I think you got the wrong princess.”
“Haha,” Regina responded dryly. “Two drops please.”
“Are we doing some kind of blood sister oath?”
“No, I am casting a blood lock charm. It matches the family line. Only you and Henry will be able to get through.”
Snow did as she was asked. She wisely refrained from mentioning that this would give Emma access too.
David made himself known as soon as Regina arrived for her nightly delivery at the nursing home. “I thought you might change your routine. Maybe that you might want to avoid me.”
“What,” she answered grinning, “and miss you telling me how my secret is driving Snow crazy.” David snorted.
“Has she cracked yet?” Regina asked gleefully.
“No and it is killing her.”
“There is a hidden door under my fathers monument. It leads to my home.” She handed him a vile and a pin. “Put a couple of drops of blood in here and I’ll make sure you can get in.” She shook her finger at him. “Emergency only and you tell no one.”
“Henry will tell her I am sure. I won’t ask him to keep a secret from his mother.”
“So basically you had a strong need to jerk Snow’s chain.”
“Someone needs to do it.” Her lips twitched in mirth.
David chuckled, “And you do it so well.”
He handed her back the vile now containing his blood. “I think Blue fairy would have a heart attack if she found out I gave you this.”
“Hmm” Regina replied in a faux evil voice. “Imagine the potions I could brew, the harm I could do!”
“No, blood locks are powerful magic. I like my privacy.” She grinned at him. “You can tell her I told you.”
David gave Regina a large and sincere smile. “Do you have any idea what it is like to be married to the universally loved paragon of virtue that is Snow White?”
“God no, the family tree is a mess as it is!”
“Having at least one person in my life that isn't a devotee is soul saving. So, thank you.”
“Don’t mention it.” The two stood in silence for a few moments. “So is it time for my lecture on Henry and Emma and," she put up her fingers to make quotes, "the family.”
“No,” David said as he grabbed a snicker doodle. “I’m leaving that up to Snow. I’m just here for the cookies.”