The Next Morning
Breakfast with the Charmings. Regina wondered how she had gotten from cursing all of the Enchanted Forest because of them to sitting at their breakfast table. It was only the family – and her – this morning, and it felt strange. She could see that Snow and David felt uncomfortable, too, while Henry and Emma didn’t seem to feel anything amiss. And why would they? They shared breakfast with Regina almost every morning, Emma always joining them when they sat at Granny’s.
How very strange the concept of family was.
“David told me about your plan,” Snow addressed Emma while cutting her son’s pancakes into edible sizes.
“And you don’t like it?” Emma seemed mildly amused.
“I thought you came here to spend time with us, and now you want to hunt rapists and probably murderers in the woods – of course, I don’t like that,” Snow told her daughter. Regina and Henry both looked up and at Emma.
“You’re going with Robin Hood?” Henry asked, impressed.
“That’s the plan.”
“Can I come, too?” he then asked eagerly.
“Absolutely not,” came from Regina.
“No, kid,” from Emma at the same time.
“Of course not,” from Snow.
They all looked at him intently.
“I’m almost 17,” he argued.
“You just turned 16 and there is no way for you to join a group of... unwashed woodsmen to go after a dangerous band of even dirtier woodsmen. Finish your breakfast,” Regina told him.
Henry folded his arms in front of his chest, pouting.
“Listen, kid. I will only help them find these thugs. It’s not even interesting work, it’s just running around in the woods, sleeping on the hard earth and have bugs crawl all over you.”
“And fighting those ass..ah, thugs when you find them,” Henry argued.
“There won’t be any fighting for Emma. She’s going to come home before the fighting starts. I talked to Robin about it, she will only help them find these guys. When they do, he’s going to send her home. ASAP,” David said and it was as much for Henry as for Emma to hear.
Emma smiled ironically at her father. “It’s not like I was looking for this, David. Mulan asked me, then Robin did, too. I only want to help.”
“You’re on vacation, Emma. They shouldn’t even have asked you,” Snow said. She still didn’t sound very happy with Emma’s decision.
“I guess, they figured that as the princess of this kingdom I would want to help. You’re always the ones telling me to fulfill my share of responsibilities as princess. Now I do and you don’t like it?”
“This has nothing to do with princess’ responsibilities. This is only you wanting a good old-fashioned adventure. I thought Neverland would have cured you of all that.,” Snow gave back.
“I’m not looking for adventure, Snow. I just want to help my kingdom. And I will be home before the ball, earlier depending on how long it takes to find them. I promise.”
Snow sighed as she helped her younger child eat his breakfast.
Regina watched the interaction thoughtfully. Forbidding Henry to go with Emma had been a maternal reflex, but she wasn’t sure why Emma would want to go on this mission. She didn’t buy her reasoning for a minute, but why would she want to go if it was such tedious work? From what Regina had understood of the situation the night before, there were capable men hunting for the band of thugs. Why would Emma want to get involved in this? Did she really just want an adventure?
Regina didn’t know but she was curious enough to find out.
Emma was in her room, packing a bag with some clothes, thinking about things she might need – a bar of soap was certainly at the top of that list.
She looked up when there was a knock at her door.
“Come in,” she called out, expecting it to be Henry. He wasn’t likely to give up so easily even when both his mothers put their feet down.
She was surprised to see Regina enter.
She had to hand it to the dark-haired woman, she surely knew how to wear a dress. While Emma insisted on wearing her usual clothes with an upgrade to dress pants and shirts when meeting visitors, Regina was garbed in the more traditional clothes of her home realm. As Emma understood it, they weren’t really the kind of style she had preferred when she was the Evil Queen, but they still fit very nicely. She wore peach this morning, it complimented her darker skin and those amber eyes... Emma blinked, noticing just in time, as Regina turned after closing the door, that she was staring.
Regina surveyed the room.
“Now, this is what I call a princess-y chamber,” she said.
“Oh, drop the act, Regina. It’s not like Snow put you up in the dungeons, your room is only two doors down. It can’t be that different,” Emma said, smiling.
“It certainly isn’t as grand as this. Maybe it was build as the maid’s quarter?” Regina gave back, but smiled also.
Emma was about to counter something, but in that moment Regina’s look became earnest, her posture changed from relaxed to... regal, was the best term for it.
“Is there something wrong?” Emma asked.
“You’ve decided to ride with Robin Hood. Were you going to tell me or is that a courtesy I haven’t earned yet?”
“Well, I wanted to tell you last night, but I didn’t want to disturb you. I figured you would be at breakfast so...”
Regina looked at her for a long moment, seemingly burning her eyes into Emma’s skull to see if she was telling the truth.
Emma remembered how she had told Henry about her ‘superpower.’ While she could usually tell when someone was lying, she herself was bad at it and she wondered what Regina now saw. Because she hadn’t lied, yet she hadn’t told the entire truth, either.
“I have decided to accompany the search party as well,” Regina informed her.
Emma literally took a step back in surprise. “You what?”
“I’ve decided to come, too,” Regina repeated.
“But...” What was she to argue? That Regina couldn’t because it was too dangerous? If it was dangerous for Regina it was even more so for herself. her magical powers weren’t nearly as advanced as Regina’s. But she was supposed to look after Henry, maybe? Regina would give her a piece of feminism 101 if she tried that argument. And she certainly couldn’t give her the truth, that she didn’t want her to come because of... something that might not even be real.
“Have you told Henry?”
“Not yet and I don’t suppose he will be thrilled, but he’ll have to accept it,” Regina answered.
“Just like that?”
“You don’t want me to come?”
Emma hesitated. “It’s not like that. I just... it didn’t even cross my mind that you would want to.”
“You mean because it would be much more comfortable staying in a place I’m not wanted, merely tolerated even by the servants? Did you think I would rather stay here with your mother, exchanging recipes, or telling her how she can keep her son from sucking his thumbs?”
Emma closed her eyes for a moment. She hadn’t thought about this at all. That Regina would feel abandoned in a place where no one but Henry would have a friendly word for her. “I’m sorry, I didn’t think about this.”
“Why would you? It’s not your problem,” Regina said simply. And judging by her attitude she wasn’t going to make it Emma’s problem, either, she was simply doing what she thought necessary for everyone to survive this week.
“It’s...,” Emma wanted to argue something, but then didn’t.
“I should go pack and tell Henry. Maybe you could tell your parents?”
“I will.” She watched Regina walk to the door. “Regina,” Emma called out to her just as she reached for the doorknob.
Regina turned and looked at Emma expectantly.
“You said yesterday that we weren’t friends. Did you mean that?”
It wasn’t really what Emma had wanted to ask, she had wanted to ask Regina if she had told her all her reasons for coming with them. She had wanted to ask if Robin Hood had anything to do with her decision. But how could she? And why would she? It wasn’t any of her business what might be going on between Regina and the ‘King of Thieves.’ And, really, they had only met the other day – as far as Emma knew.
“No, I didn’t,” Regina answered her question.
For a moment Emma was confused to what she was referring. Then she remembered her question and she smiled.
Regina answered it with a small one of her own before she left the room.