At the Castle
Snow was looking for Henry. He’d been quiet at breakfast and hadn’t attacked it with his usual fervor. Something seemed to bother him and it wasn’t very difficult to guess what that something was. Snow found him walking in the garden with a forlorn look on his face.
“Henry, here you are,” she greeted him.
He smiled at her, but it was a very small smile. She answered with one of her own of which she hoped it would be uplifting somehow.
“Where are the boys?” Henry asked after Killian and Roland who had grown thick as thieves these last two days with Killian running after the bigger boy and Roland showing him all sorts of games he’d learned from the Merry Men. They actually played at Robin and Little John, with Roland imitating his father, telling Killian how to behave like Little John. It was comical and Henry liked to watch. He also liked to participate, usually taking the part of Friar Tuck.
“They’re with David. He’s trying to show them how to shoot an arrow with their little practice bows – as if David was ever any good at it,” she added with a wink.
Henry laughed a little.
Snow took Henry’s arm and they walked by the beautiful flowerbeds of this late spring. When they came across a bench that looked over this part of the garden, Snow pulled Henry toward it. They sat down.
“You miss your mothers, don’t you?” she asked him.
He nodded. “Yeah. I mean, it’s great spending time with you and David and the boys. Killian has grown so much since we were last here, he’s great.” Henry tried to be upbeat, but Snow could tell that his heart wasn’t in it. His gaze drifted into a far distance.
“Is there something else that’s bothering you, Henry?”
“I don’t know. Things are so different here,” he said.
“Bad different?” Snow asked, worried that someone had said something hurtful to him.
Henry shrugged. “They treat her so differently here,” he said and looked at his hands as if ashamed he’d even mentioned it.
“Mom,” Henry answered in a small voice. “And I know... I know that she’s done terrible things. And I can’t blame them and mom doesn’t, but it’s like she’s not really here. They stare through her. And it’s not just them.”
It seemed to Snow that this last part was especially difficult for him to say and she assumed he was referring to the way she herself and David treated Regina.
“Henry, you know that we love you and that we’re all trying to make these visits as pleasant as possible, but too many things have happened between Regina and us and--”
“I wasn’t talking about you. I was talking about ma,” Henry said with a hurt yet equally shamed face. He seemed to fight with his loyalties toward both his mothers.
“Emma? But...” Snow didn’t know what to say to this. She didn’t really know how Emma and Regina ‘lived’ with each other. She just assumed that they treated each other much the same way like they had before: distant, antagonistic, trying to work out a schedule for Henry while otherwise talking as little as possible. And, in truth, she hadn’t paid much attention to the interaction between them while they had been here because what Henry said about everybody else was certainly true for Snow – she looked through Regina. So now she made an effort to remember some of the interaction between her daughter and Regina and she seemed to recall them talking in low tones at dinner, Regina looking to Emma before she’d left that night. There was no hostility between them, there actually seemed to have been... a camaraderie there. One that Snow had never noticed before, one that Emma hadn’t said anything about.
“How are they in Storybrooke, Henry?” Snow asked, curious.
Henry looked at her. “They get along. I think they’re friends now.”
“Really?” That certainly surprised Snow.
“Yeah, I mean, not like you and Ruby, you know. Mom’s not for all the hugging and stuff but we’re all having breakfast pretty much every morning at Granny’s,” he said, grinning. “Mom always teases Emma about ordering the same thing and Ruby always asking her what she’s having. It’s kind of this thing they do. And sometimes when mom and I are late or something, ma orders for her. You know how mom always just drinks coffee and ma would order a stack of pancakes for her and mom would look at her all... angry, but not really. And she would eat every last bite of the breakfast. They tease each other like that,” Henry told Snow.
“I had no idea.”
“Yeah, because when they’re here they’re not doing any of that, they hardly talk. And I think it’s because ma tries not to be disloyal to you or anything. And mom goes along with it,” he explained what bothered him so much. He looked at Snow openly, trustingly.
“And that confuses you,” Snow said.
Henry shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t think it’s right.”
“What else are you guys doing? You’re right, Emma probably feels like she has to keep this from us because she thinks it might hurt us, but I really want to know. And I’m going to talk to Emma about it, that is, if you want me to?”
Snow smiled and pushed Henry’s long bangs from his forehead. “Yes, I will talk to her. We don’t want Emma to be different here. We always want her to be herself,” she assured Henry.
He smiled, more relaxed now. “Sometimes we have dinner together, you know how ma can’t cook much but mom does it and sometimes ma comes over. And after dinner they’re talking or Emma and I are playing a video game. That one time, after I’d gone to bed, I was thirsty and I went to the kitchen and they were...” He laughed at the memory. “They were in the living room and ma was teaching mom how to play Mario cart. Mom was laughing so hard because she bumped into everything. They didn’t see me. I mean, I didn’t watch them for long, just for awhile,” he said quickly because he knew it wasn’t nice to spy on people.
Snow smiled at Henry to reassure him. “You’re spending alternating weeks with them, right? Emma one week, Regina the next?”
“Yeah, but it’s, you know, they don’t even seem to keep track because the new house is pretty much across from the mansion.”
Snow nodded to this, she had known about it. Emma had said it was easier this way, especially if one of them had something coming up and suddenly Snow was curious as to what something like that might be.
“What about when one of them is busy one night when they have you over. Are you just staying with the other then?”
“That rarely ever happens. Mom sometimes has late meetings but she’s usually home before nine.”
“Don’t they ever go out with someone, like on a date?” Snow asked curiously.
Henry just shrugged his shoulders. “No, not really.”
This surprised Snow - a lot. She’d always thought that Emma would date. She was an attractive young woman with an almost grown son, and the same could be said about Regina. Storybrooke certainly wasn’t big but outsiders had already started settling there while they were still looking for ways to cross realms, not in droves but slowly. Emma had told her that this was still happening. Were there no bachelors among these newcomers? Were there no single men living in Storybrooke?
“Maybe they go out when you’re not staying with them?”
Again, Henry shrugged. “You know how Storybrooke is, everybody knows everyone’s business and I would probably have heard about it if either of them had been going out with somebody,” he reasoned, but didn’t seem bothered by it.
Snow, however, was bothered and she made a conscious effort not to let Henry pick up on it. She smiled. “How often does your dad visit, Henry? Is he around sometimes?”
“Yeah, Neal visits every month for a few days. And I’ve visited him twice last year,” he told her.
“In New York?”
Henry nodded. “We went to a basketball game, it was awesome.”
“Did Emma come with?”
The boy shook his head. “No, it was just the boys on the town,” he told her, grinning widely. It seemed like that had been the phrase Neal had used. They had probably eaten a lot of pizza and played video games on these occasions.
“Does Neal have a girlfriend?”
Henry shook his head. “I think he’s kind of still hung up on ma. I mean, he sometimes looks at her when he’s visiting and you just know that he still likes her a lot.”
“And what do you think Emma feels for him?”
“She treats him like a friend, mostly. Sometimes they fight, but I’m not sure what it’s about. They don’t do it in front of me and I’m not eavesdropping. It’s not often or bad.”
Snow nodded. She grew thoughtful and Henry looked at her expectantly for more questions she might have.
“Are you happy like this, Henry? With just your moms and your dad visiting?”
“Sure, it’s how we are. We’re a family,” he said smiling.
Snow smiled back. “I’m glad that it’s going so well for everyone,” she said and laid her arms around him. He was now much bigger than her and it was difficult to get her arms around his shoulders. Henry hugged her back a little awkwardly, but he seemed better now that they’d talked about things.
When they parted they sat for a while longer and Snow told Henry about the upcoming ball for Killian’s birthday. He seemed eager to wear his new suit with the red pants and the white jacket, the colors of the kingdom. He’d had two appointments with a tailor in the past days and the suit which looked a little like a dress uniform was being made especially for the ball.
“I’m sure you’ll look just as handsome as your... as David,” she told him.
“Speaking of, if there’s nothing else you want to talk about, would you maybe go looking for David and tell him where I am? I want to talk to him about something. And you could show the boys how to really shoot with bow and arrow,” she added with another wink.
Henry laughed. “Sure. Will you really talk to ma about what we talked about? When she comes back?”
“I will, Henry, I promise.”
“Thanks, Snow,” he said and then walked off in search of his granddad.
A while later, David came across his thoughtful wife on her bench.
“You wanted to see me,” he smiled and sat next to her, pulling her into a one-armed hug.
She put her arms around him and clung to him.
“You all right?” he asked.
“Yeah, I... I had a long talk with Henry about something,” she told him.
“I’m not sure.”
He could tell by her look that she was worried, though.
“It’s about Emma and Regina, something... seems to go on there,” she said, choosing her words carefully.
“They’re not fighting about custody again, are they? I thought they had it all figure out by now.”
“They’re not fighting, David. It seems to be quite the opposite,” she said and looked up at him.
He looked at her quizzically and she started telling him what Henry had told her.