After their second Sunday outing Regina invited Henry to have the next visit at her home. As directed he met her outside her family mausoleum.
“Hi Mom,” Henry said with a bright smile.
“Hello Henry,” she replied with an equally bright smile. She pointed to his bike.
“We’re going to need that.” She waved her hand and it was gone.
“I’m going to show you how you can get to my home. I’m trusting you to tell no one outside of your family, ok?” Henry nodded his understanding. Regina led him in and pointed to her father’s monument.
“Push here,” she said. It only took a gentle nudge to reveal the hidden stairway.
“Cool,” Henry said while bouncing with excitement. Regina grinned as he followed her down.
“The things in here are special, you need to promise you won’t touch them.” Henry looked around the room his eyes eating up all the fascinating items.
“Please don't come here without permission. Most of this,” she waved her hand around the room, "is harmless, but some of it isn’t.”
“Ok, but will you show me some of it sometime?”
“Sure I will.”
Henry pointed to a large wardrobe. The door was open and a low-cut brocade dress and other trapping of Regina’s past life were visible.
“Are those your queen clothes? Did Grama have cloths like those too?”
Regina chuckled. “Snow was a little more demure in her attire.”
“Mom,” Henry paused uncomfortably, “I mean Emma, said Snow didn't have the equipment to carry off the kind of dresses you wore.”
Regina’s eyes bulged at the comment.
“Grampa laughed his head off and Grama threw a napkin at her.”
“I see,” Regina cleared her throat uncomfortably.
“I couldn't figure out what they were talking about at first but Grama was blushing so hard I guessed they were talking about boobs, right?”
Regina was blushing rather hard herself as she replied, “I have no idea.
Upon entering the tunnel Henry noticed his bike and got quite excited to see another one next to it.
“You’re going to bike with me! Awesome!”
Regina grinned. “With all of the baking I do, a little exercise is advisable.”
The two peddled along chatting happily. They conversed about their week and then the conversation took its usual turn to events in the enchanted forest. Henry felt better each time they talked. He was glad to learn the truth. Regina was honest, as she promised him she would be. She answered his questions waiting for the one that would end it all. She answered knowing that at some point he would learn that she was not a person to love or believe in.
“I don’t like it Mom but Emma says different world, different rules.”
They were dismounting their bicycles when Henry asked, “Would you act like that in this world. Do bad things?”
Regina took a deep breath. “I promise I will never, ever again act like that in this world.”
Henry looked at her steadily. “But you have before?”
“In my mind I still ruled, being called mayor was just another name for queen.”
She opened her door and Henry followed her to the couch as she continued to talk.
“There was a man in the old world. He committed a crime and I sentenced him to death. Rather than execute him I took his heart. I used it to make him do my bidding. I still had it when we came here.” She looked at her hands.
“He made me angry and I crushed it.”
“What did he do, in the old world I mean?”
Regina’s mind went back to that day. She had sent the huntsman in to the woods with Snow. Instead of taking her into hiding as ordered he warned her of a fabricated danger. He told her Regina wanted her heart but he would protect her by fooling the queen. The idiot brought back a deer heart saying it was Snow’s and then he threatened to say he had killed her on the queen’s orders.
She looked at Henry shaking her head.
“He was a fool thinking the daughter of the queen of hearts wouldn't know the difference between an animal and human heart.”
“Wait…What…” Henry straightened up in excitement.
“Your mother was the queen of hearts?”
“Oh God Henry, one story at a time, please.” He nodded and settled back down.
“Why did the huntsman tell Grama that you were trying to kill her?”
Glad to be able to talk about someone else’s bad deeds Regina continued.
“He was hoping that Snow would swoon at his bravery and skill. When he protected her from the evil queen he thought she would fall in love with him. He wanted to be king.”
“But you stopped him by taking his heart!”
“Oh please,” Regina said rolling he eyes. "Do you think she needed me to stop him?
You have met your grandmother right, not Mary Margaret but Snow White? Do you honestly think his plan would've worked?”
“It wouldn’t have. I didn't raise some simpering maiden, I raised a queen. I raised a queen who would never need to hide behind any man.”
Henry raised his eyebrows at the sharpness in her voice.
“If that cowardly weasel thought he was going to try his chances on Ms Swan after causing her mother so much trouble, he was wrong!”
Regina’s eyes were blazing by this point.
“I didn't murder the lying swine. I carried out the sentence of a convicted criminal.”
Regina came back to herself and looked at her wide eyed son. Sure that she had finally gone too far she reached out to him.
Henry shook his head looking at her solemnly. “Sheriff Graham?”
“Yes,” she whispered.
“I guess what Emma says about Snow is true for you as well.” He suddenly smiled at her impishly.
“You can take the queen out of the forest but you can’t take the forest out of the queen.”
Regina looked at him dazed. That was certainly not the response she expected.
“Mom I get it, honestly I understand. The jerk should never have messed with your family.” He took a deep breath.
“Your world, The Enchanted Forrest, was a really violent place. Now that everyone is back to themselves, crime in Storybooke is pretty high. You changed during the cursed time but they didn’t. People just seem to go after each other when they get mad. Grama and Gramps are trying to fix that, but then someone ticks them off and they grab for their sword or bow. It’s really kind of scary.”
Henry cocked his head and looked at her thoughtfully.
“Actually if there was a contest for the person least likely to go on a murderous rampage, you would probably win.”
The two looked at each other seriously for about one second and then burst into gales of laughter. After calming down they moved to the dining table.Regina’s apartment was basically a large circular room. The kitchen was open and the area around it was set up for dining. There was no divider but the furniture was set up so the dining and living room areas were clearly delineated. After a pleasant meal Henry began to poke around. The first door he tried was locked. He looked at his mother quizzically.
“That is to the outside, I keep it locked.”
Henry nodded and moved on.
“Bathroom,” he said when he opened the next door.
Regina nodded. When he reached for the next door Regina started and almost tried to stop him. She had forgotten about the second bedroom. He turned around with a beaming smile.
“You have a room ready for me.”
Regina was flustered and slow to answer. Henry’s smile fell away.
“This was already here wasn't it.” He looked sadly through the door.
“This was from before, in case I came with you. It’s not for now is it?”
Regina just stared at him not sure what to say.
Henry’s voice was disheartened as he said, “I thought this meant my punishment was over. I guess not.”
“Punishment? Henry I am not punishing you.”
“Really, what would you call disappearing for a year without calling or anything?” Henry’s voice rose in anger.
“Then when you finally came out of hiding you tell me you don't want me to call you mom and I can only see you once a week.” A hint of tears mixed in with his anger as he continued.
“I told you I was sorry. I don't know what else you want me to do.”
“Henry I am letting you be with your real family, like you wanted. I’m trying not to interfere. I am just glad you want to see me once a week.”
Henry rubbed his face with the back of his hand.
“You left me with strangers and no way to get in touch with you. The only person I knew was Emma.”
“I thought you wanted to be with your grandparents and your mother.”
“Grama may look like Miss Blanchard but they aren't the same person. Gramps and David Nolan aren't even from the same planet.”
He shook his head at the memory of people changing in to the opposite of what they were.
“Emma was ok at first but then she got totally weird. She was freaked out about having parents. She was constantly trying to stop everyone from killing each other and then up all night with nightmares. After a while she was like a zombie.”
Regina was devastated by Henry’s story.
“I don't know what to say.” Her voice was husky with emotion. “I can’t believe I let you down in such a profound way.” Her voice broke, “I am sorry Henry, I am really so sorry.”
“It got better after a while.” The two studied each other. Henry’s voice was as husky as Regina’s had been as he asked, “Will you be my Mom again? Please?”
Regina held out her arms to him.
“Yes, of course I will, yes.” They hugged each other tight and cried as hard as they had been laughing earlier.
Regina served Henry a cup of hot chocolate.
“Will you come home now?” He asked.
“This is my home Henry. I want to live here.” She gently put her hand through his hair.
“I do have that room here for you if you want to use it.”
Henry nodded his assent.
“I wish you would come back to the mansion.”
“I know you do. I am sorry honey but I won’t. I really like it here. I’m not the mayor or the queen I’m just me. I think I like being just me.”
The two finished their cocoa and discussed what Henry thought would be an acceptable custody arrangement.
Regina held back a grin as she watched an oatmeal cookie disappear from her offerings.
“You again, I really should have made Snow spend more time in the palace kitchens.”
David smiled. “Henry enjoyed his time with you. He mentioned that you and he are looking for more time together with a more permanent arrangement.”
Regina was relieved to see no accusation in his face.
“Yes, well, I was going to mention that.” She sounded rather nervous as she continued.
“I thought we might all talk on Thursday over dinner.” She closed her eyes and took a breath before saying, “At my home.”
David was flabbergasted.
“You want all of us for dinner at your place?”
“I believe that is what I said.” She replied drily.
“Snow, Henry, Emma and Me?”
David’s disquiet made Regina feel more confident.
“Yes dear, the evil queen wants to have the Charmings for dinner.” She waited a beat and continued, “To feed not to eat.”
“So like a family dinner?”
“No,” Regina replied. “A meeting where we will discuss Henry’s wishes and have food.”
“I see,” David said slowly. “But why Thursday? Couldn't it be Wednesday or Friday?”
Regina’s lips twitched. “Tell me Shepherd is there a problem with Thursdays?”
David shifted uncomfortably.
“No, I guess Thursday is ok.”
Regina reached out and patted his cheek.
“Don’t worry dear, I’ll serve lasagna.”
David grinned in relief. As she departed in a puff of smoke Regina heard him ask hopefully, “With garlic bread?”