It’s been a year since Emma forgot her life. A year since she was given a new life. A year since Regina gave her a new life. How could she have forgotten? She forgot everything. Every one. Now, Hook is here; he gave her a potion to remember. Says she’s got to go back and save everyone. Again. The job of the savior is never done, she supposes.
But apparently, at least according to Hook, time passes differently between the worlds.
When Regina enacted the curse, time was frozen. But now, time is not frozen. Time moves faster in the Enchanted Forest. For, Emma and Henry, it’s been almost a year. For everyone in the Forest, it’s been almost four.
While she’s trying to process all of this, Hook tries to kiss her. Again. She pulls away, “What the hell?”
He shrugs, “I was hoping it would be different now that you remember.”
“Nothing has changed. You’re still a creep. Now, I just remember your name.”
Hook scoffs, “Play hard to get, Princess. We’ve got time for you to fall in love with me. All the way back to Storybrooke,” he says proudly.
“Ummmm...you can’t ride with us,” Emma tells him.
“Henry?” Emma reminds him. “He still doesn’t have his memories. Since you didn’t bring enough potion to give him his memories back.”
“Oh and now you’re complaining about my rescuing you? Seriously?” He reaches into his bag Emma is only noticing now and pulls out Henry’s storybook. “The Queen sent this. She said this might happen. But Henry has the heart of a believer or something.” He shrugs.
“The heart of the Truest Believer,” Emma tells him. That’s kind of how they saved him from Neverland, but obviously Hook doesn’t care about that. She rolls her eyes but takes the book inside to her son. “Henry,” she calls, seeing him on the couch playing a video game.
“Henry,” she repeats, “Can you come into the kitchen please?”
He turns to look at her and sees a man standing behind her. “Uhhhh mom? Who’s the weirdo?”
“Henry,” she admonishes, but turns to Hook and realizes it must seem very odd to see a strange man without a hand standing so close to your mother. “Ignore him,” she says with a shake of her head.
Henry stands from the couch, “Please tell me this isn’t your new boyfriend.”
Emma laughs, albeit a little hysterically, and notices how Hook puffs out his chest, “Dear god no,” she scoffs and only feels mildly proud when he deflates just as quickly. “Would you just come over here?”
“Mom,” he says again, moving around the couch, “Who is this guy?”
“Captain Hoo-” he starts but is interrupted when Emma elbows him in the ribs.
“Killian Jones,” she tells her son, “But anyways, come over here and look at this book.”
She convinces her son to walk over to the island and shows him the book. “Fairy Tales?” He looks at her in disbelief, “You know I’m a little old for these, right?”
“Too old for a story? I highly doubt that,” she teases. “But these aren’t your average fairy tales,” she promises.
“Hmmm,” he muses, taking the book from her and moving back toward the couch. He no longer cares about the stranger in their kitchen. He’s enthralled with the storybook she’d given to him. Well, given back to him, she supposes.
She pulls out a soda from the fridge and remembers Hook is still there. “Want one?” she asks but moves away from the fridge, assuming he’d say no.
He does, pulling out his flask instead.
Emma rolls her eyes, but moves into her bedroom to start packing things. She knows they’ll be going back to Storybrooke. And knowing her son, it’ll be soon.
She’s barely packed a single bag before Henry runs in her room, “Mom! How could we forget about Mom?! We forgot everyone, how could we do that?”
“Your mom made sure you were protected,” Emma explains.
“Ma! We have to go back to her! To all of them!”
“I know Hen,” she tells him, trying not to feel the sting of him calling her Ma instead of Mom for the first time in almost a year. “Pack a bag, we’ll leave right away.”
“And Hook. Oh my God Hook gave you back your memories. But why? Why him? Why did Mom not come get us.”
“They’re cursed,” Hook says from the hallway.
“Hook,” Emma warns.
“Yes, lie to the boy. That’s worked so well in the past,” he scoffs.
“Who cursed them?” Henry asks, staring intently at Hook.
“Well, that’d be the question of the hour now wouldn’t it, boy?”
Henry glares at Hook, “Why did they send you?”
He shrugs, “No idea. A bird showed up with a note and the potion for Emma.”
“That has to be Grandma! She’s the one who communicates with the birds!”
“Either way, Henry. We have to go back. We have to figure out what’s going on,” Emma tells him.
Henry runs out of her room, passes Hook, and moves into his own room to start throwing things half-hazardly into a duffle bag. He shoves his laptop and his book into his backpack and when he has everything he thinks he may need, he runs back into the living room and sees his mom and Hook waiting in the kitchen. “Let’s go!” He says as he makes a beeline for the door.
Emma follows, with Hook not far behind. She locks the door and they head out to the car and out of the city. It’ll take them a little over 7 hours to get there, which means they’ll be getting there right around dark.
The drive is long, and Henry abandons his mother in favor of his headphones and storybook early on. So she’s stuck with Hook throwing her longing looks from across the bug. It takes everything in her not to smack him after hour 2. She turns up the radio until he starts sighing louder than her music. She takes a very, very deep breath and asks, “So, where were you if you weren’t in the Enchanted Forest?” She knows he’s wanted her to ask him since he got back. Going this long without talking about himself? It might be a new record.
He shrugs, “Oh you know, here and there.”
It takes everything in her not to scoff. Her hands tighten on the steering wheel as she says, “How long has it been for you? Since you weren’t in the forest.”
Another shrug, “I honestly don’t keep track, Love. All the days blend together on the sea.”
“So, you were too drunk to remember most of it,” she elaborates.
“Yeah, yeah, pretty much, a lot of the time, yup.”
She rolls her eyes and shakes her head. They’re silent for a bit, each lost in their own thoughts as Henry puts his book away and tries to sleep.
“Do you know what we’re getting ourselves into?” She asks after they’ve crossed the border into Maine.
He shakes his head, “I left shortly after we arrived in the forest. There was nothing for me there. Hopped my first ride out.”
“So you stole a boat?” Emma asks, reading between the lines.
“I am crushed you think so little of me, Love,” Hook says, apparently affronted.
Emma offers him a side eye, not believing him for a moment.
Hook deflates slightly, sighing and says, “Not at first. I was just trying to find my ship. Someone took my Jolly Roger, I had to get it back.”
“By any means necessary?”
“By any means necessary,” Hook confirms.
They’re silent again after that. “How did you know it’s been four years for them then?” Emma asks.
Hook reaches into his pocket and pulls out a note,
Get to Emma. Give her this potion, it will bring back her memories. We’re back in her land, but we’re trapped. No one can get out and we’re missing our memories. Everything after Neverland. There’s someone new in town, whoever took all the memories. Bring Emma. She’s their only hope.
P.S. Henry will need this. There’s only enough potion for one of them.
He reads it and then shows it to Emma from across the car.
She nods, obviously R would be Regina, but who is X ? Is it really her parents? Why wouldn’t they just sign it.
“It was delivered by bird,” Hook reminds her, “along with the potion and that book.”
“That’s one strong bird,” Emma muses. That book is anything but light.
“I’m sure it was enchanted,” Hook reasons.
Eventually, Henry sits forward, “Ma, I’m hungry.”
She laughs, he’s definitely her kid. They pull off in Portland to grab some fast food and Henry promises not to tell his mom just how much fast and processed food he’s eaten in the last year.
The rest of the ride is less tense. With everyone’s hunger sated, Henry starts quizzing Hook about the other world, comparing what’s in the book with what Hook experienced. And Emma reminds him more than once to keep it all kid-friendly.
The final two hours go by quickly and all too soon (for Emma) they’re passing the Welcome sign. Her anxiety has been building since they left Portland, but she’s been trying to hide it.
“Chill out Ma, it’s only been a year.”
She and Hook share a look. They never told him it’s been longer for everyone else.
They never get the chance. They’re pulling up to Granny’s and Henry is out the door before Emma can call him back. She chases after him, still feeling her magic coursing through her veins for the first time in a year.
She makes it in the door and it’s as if time is frozen. Everyone is staring and Henry is frozen in the doorway, just in front of Emma.
“Henry! Emma! You’re back!” Mary-Margaret rushes toward them. She engulfs them in a hug, wrapping them both up tight.
Emma’s frozen. Not only is her mother (who happens to be the same age as her-but that’s a psychological issue best saved for another day) seeing her for the first time in almost a year, but she is very, very pregnant.
“Oh are we glad to see you!” she exclaims beaming at them both.
Henry is smiling back just and big and it takes everything Emma has within her not to grimace.
“We’re so glad Hook got to you,” Mary-Margaret says with a smile as she notices Hook lingering outside the doorway.
He nods his head in acknowledgement, but says nothing.
“Um, Grams?” Henry asks, drawing everyone’s attention back to him. He gestures vaguely to her stomach.
She laughs, “We’ve been gone a long time, Henry. But it seems you haven’t aged at all?”
“That’s because it’s been a year?” he says, eyebrows drawn down as he studies her.
Her eyes grow wide and she looks at Emma.
“Henry,” Emma says, ignoring everyone else in the diner, including her mother and father-who is still sitting in a booth. She kneels down, tuning out everything, everyone, else. Henry turns toward her, his eyes betraying his fear. She smiles softly at him, “For us, it’s only been a year, but for everybody else, it’s been closer to four.” She watches him start to process and apologizes, “I’m sorry I didn’t say sooner, Henry. But I wasn’t certain.”
“You didn’t believe,” he says.
She gives him a crooked smile, “That’s your department, kid.”
He looks over his shoulder at his grandma, “Four years?”
She nods softly. “And we missed you both so, so much.”
“But how?” Henry asks, looking for answers.
David shrugs, “Magic?” Henry scoffs, while everyone else in the diner laughs. “We’ve asked the fairies and apparently it’s just how time works between worlds,” David elaborates.
Henry nods, accepting this. He looks around at the diner. He sees Granny and Ruby, the dwarves and the fairies, but not the most important person. “Where’s my mom?”
“She uh-” Mary-Margaret starts.
“She went back to her house,” David finishes. Sharing a look with his wife.
“I have to go see her,” Henry announces turning around at the door.
“Henry-” Mary-Margaret starts again, her voice hitching. She shares a look with her daughter conveying something.
“It’s been four years for her. I need to see her. To make sure she’s alright,” Henry begs to his other mother.
She nods, looking up to see something in her mother’s eyes, but she’s not sure what it is. Fear? No. Apprehension? Maybe. Maybe she’s hiding something. Maybe it doesn’t matter. She wants to see Regina too. It’s been a long time. And she has things to say. “Okay kid. Let’s go to Mifflin.”
Henry beams and charges out the door.
“Emma!” Mary-Margaret calls as they leave Granny’s. But Emma merely waves behind her. Whatever her mother has to say surely can wait.
Emma and Henry make it to Mifflin in record time. Emma barely has a chance to put the bug in park before Henry is flinging himself from the car and racing up the front steps. The front door is still unlocked, just like always he thinks with a smile. His mom always says whoever tried to break into her home would regret that feat almost instantly. The foyer is dark and as Henry looks around he sees the rest of the downstairs is as well. “Mom?” he calls out, wondering if she’s in her study or upstairs already. “MOM!” he yells louder.
“Henry?” it sounds like a whisper, but he realizes his mom is upstairs. He grins at Emma, who’s standing behind him in the doorway. He takes off up the stairs and into the hallway with Emma hot on his heels. He freezes when he reaches his bedroom. It’s exactly as he left it. His heart pangs as he realizes just how long it’s been since he’s been in this room. Since he’s stayed here with his mom. He peeks inside, but his mom isn’t in there. Wondering if she’s maybe in her room, he makes his way down the hallway. Before he makes it to his mom’s room, his attention is caught by the room across the hall. What was once a spare bedroom now has a soft light emanating from it. His curiosity gets the better of him and he comes to stand in the doorway to find his mother standing in the middle of the room. His smile fades from his face as confusion over runs it. She’s rocking gently, and in her arms Henry sees a little girl, no more than a toddler, almost asleep against his mother’s chest.
“Mom?” Henry asks in a whisper.
Regina freezes her rocking when she sees her son. The girl in her arms stirs and Regina is quick to make her way to the crib against the wall. She carefully places the girl onto the mattress and makes her way from the room. She closes the door carefully and immediately wraps her son in her arms, “Oh Henry,” she whispers against his hair, “I’ve missed you so much.”
Henry wraps his arms tight around her, closing his eyes as tears fall down his cheeks.
Regina pulls back to find him crying, “Henry?”
He falls back against her, hiding his face against her shirt.
“Oh, sweetie,” she breathes, “It’s alright. It’s all going to be alright,” she soothes, rubbing her arm up and down his back, just like she used to do when he was young, just like she was doing to his sister in the other room.
“I missed you so much.”
“Darling, you didn’t remember me,” she reminds him.
He shakes his head against her chest. “But I should have.”
She brushes a kiss against his temple, “No, Henry.” She pulls back just enough to wipe his tears away. “The curse protected you. Just like it was supposed to.”
“But we should’ve been together!”
Regina smiles a teary smile and shakes her head softly, “We’re together now, dear. And I’ve missed so much. Tell me everything about New York and your life there.”
“I’ve missed more,” he reasons. “I have a SISTER?!”
She smiles but puts a finger to her lips, leading him away from the doorway. “Let’s go downstairs, we have lots to talk about.”
She freezes on her way to the stairs, first noticing Emma standing on the landing. “Hi,” she says nervously.
“Hello,” Regina greets.
Henry looks between his moms before he tugs on Regina’s hand, “Come on, Mom!” He pulls her past his other mother, down the stairs, and into the living room where he plops them both down on the couch. He collapses himself into her arms and curls up beside her.
They both sigh, not realizing just how much they missed this. “Tell me about New York, darling,” Regina prods.
He immediately starts telling him about his school and his new friends and everything he’s done since the curse.
Regina sits silently, taking in every word Henry speaks. She nods along and even chuckles at some of his antics when he talks about his friends.
When he’s finished, he sighs and looks up to his mom, “But I bet your stories are way better than mine,” he tells her quietly.
“Oh, darling. You vastly overestimate the Enchanted Forest.” She reaches forward and gently brushes the hair from his face.
“Ummmm Mom?” he starts, “I come home after a year and find out I have a sister. Obviously something happened.”
She laughs and Henry smiles, he had missed his mom’s laugh. “Well, dear, I wish I could tell you all about it, but it seems that when we were brought back, all my memories were taken. Everyone’s memories actually. No one remembers anything from our time in the forest. We just showed up back in Storybrooke and were able to guess it’s been about four years.”
“Because of the babies?”
Her eyes close as she smiles at him, “Yes, Henry.” She laughs and opens her eyes to smile down at her little boy. “Because of the babies.”
“Can you tell me about my sister? Do you remember anything from your time in the forest?”
“I can tell you her name is Mabel. She’s the sweetest, Henry. Just like you were at that age.”
“How old?” Henry asks, eyes alight with wonder at the prospect of having a little sister.
“About two? Two and a half?” She pauses. “I hate not knowing when her birthday is,” she mutters to herself. She looks back at her son and her smile returns. “She’ll be so excited to meet you, Henry. You’re her favorite bedtime story.”
“You tell her about me?” he asks, almost shocked.
Regina rolls her eyes playfully, “Of course, Henry. She knows all about her big brother who was away in New York.”
“Yeah?” his eyebrows raise in excitement.
She nods, “And she’ll be so thrilled to hear your stories.” She leans in closer and whispers, “You tell them much better than I ever could.”
Henry scoffs. “I learned from the best,” he tells her honestly.
She smiles again, brushing the hair from his face and caressing his cheek. “You should eat something,” she announces. “Did you eat dinner?”
Henry nods but when his mom gives him her signature Mom-look, he sighs, “Well, it was fast food. But we were in a hurry to get up here and see you!” He explains quickly, watching her face fall.
She turns to look at Emma, who has been hiding herself against the doorway into the room. “How much junk have you been filling our son with this past year, Miss Swan?”
She’s momentarily taken aback by Regina referring to Henry as “our son” but it’s gone when she sees the look of barely contained fury behind her eyes. “Probably more than I’ll ever admit to,” she says coyly, causing Henry to snicker and Regina to roll her eyes.
“Let’s get you some real food, dear,” Regina says, standing from the couch and making her way into the kitchen.
“Mom,” Henry exasperates, “I’m fine, I’m not even that hungry.”
“Now that, dear, is absolutely impossible,” Regina says matter-of-factly moving from the room.
All three move into the kitchen, Emma albeit reluctant to let Henry out of her sight, but also not wanting to intrude on the mother and son rebonding. Regina pulls food out of the fridge and reheats it with a wave of her hand. In that same moment, three plates are placed on the island filled with food.
“You know what, Mom?” Henry asks, stepping away from the island, “I think I’m just going to go upstairs and get some sleep. I’m real tired,” he says with an exaggerated yawn and stretch of his arms. “But you guys eat; I’m sure you’ve got lots to talk about.” He takes off like lightening out into the foyer and upstairs to his bedroom.
“Have we just been hoodwinked?” Emma asks with a scoff.
“It appears so,” Regina says, tension radiating from her.
“Soooooo,” Emma starts looking off into the distance. “Seems like you were happy while you were away.”
Regina scoffs, “Yes. Of course, Miss Swan. It was just like any other time in my life. I give up my happiness so everyone else can reap the benefits.”
Emma rolls her eyes, “You obviously adjusted.”
“Don’t start,” Regina warns.
“And why not?” Emma asks, a challenge rising in her voice, “You went off and had another kid just because you gave up Henry?”
“Do you think it's that easy?” Regina growls, “If I could just go off and have a kid do you think I would have had such a terrible time as queen?” Emma is silent. Regina looks at her hands, “She’s not mine,” she whispers. “She can’t be.” She takes a breath, “She’s just another lost child of the forest. She just happened to find her way into my arms.”
“So you didn’t-” Emma trails off, unable to finish her sentence.
“Well, I wouldn’t be the person to ask now would I?” Regina snaps.
Emma holds up her hands in surrender, “Jeesh,” she mutters, “Sorry I brought it up.”
“As you should be,” Regina says, head lifting up haughtily.
Emma shakes her head. “Whatever. Listen, I’m going to go back to Granny’s to see my parents. Will I see you guys in the morning?”
“I doubt you’ll want to stay with your parents all night,” Regina tells her, a knowing look glinting in her eye. “I will leave the door unlocked and you may stay in the guest room.”
Emma gives an unsure look but turns and leaves the kitchen and then the house.
Regina makes her way upstairs and finds Henry on a laptop typing away sprawled out across his bed.
“Did Mom leave?” he asks without looking up.
“Yes, but I’m sure she will be back in the morning,” Regina says, leaning against the doorway.
“Do you think she’ll be upset?” he asks, still typing.
“About?” she asks, although she knows what he’s talking about.
“The little boy sitting next to Gramps at the diner. I’m assuming that’s my little uncle?”
She smirks, nothing gets by her little, observant boy. “Apparently.”
“Do you think Mom will be upset?”
“Perhaps,” she says with a shrug, “Or perhaps she will be thrilled to have a little brother. Who knows what goes through Miss Swan’s head.”
“You generally do,” Henry says with a challenge, finally looking up at his mother.
She rolls her eyes. “Don’t spend too much time on that computer, Henry. You should get some sleep.”
“Yes,” he nods. “We’ll have a busy day tomorrow. Seeing everyone and telling my sister just how cool her big brother is.”
Regina smiles, “Goodnight Henry.”
“Goodnight Mom. Love you,” he adds, shifting his computer onto his night stand.
She pauses in the doorway, a soft smile gracing her face. Her heart sings after hearing those words given freely from him when for so long he refused to say that. “I love you too, Henry.” She steps into the hallway, closing his door softly behind her. She peeks into Mabel’s room, smiling at her sleeping daughter, before moving her way into her own bedroom, leaving the hallway light on for when Emma returns. She changes into pajamas and crawls into bed, relishing in having her two children under the same room for the first time ever. She falls asleep with a smile upon her face.
It’s still dark when she wakes. She looks around, taking in her surroundings. She’s still in Storybrooke. Her memories come back, remembering that Henry is back, and he has his memories. But she does not. There’s still a blank spot where her memories from the Enchanted Forest should be. She turns her head and finds a figure standing in her doorway; she sits upright and lights a fireball. “Easy, tiger.”
“Emma,” she says, the fire extinguishing from her palm. Her shoulders settle, releasing some of the tension within them.
“You knew.” It’s not a question, but it might be an accusation. “You knew and you didn’t warn me.”
“But I offered you a place to return,” Regina says, betraying nothing. “So you weren’t stuck with the perfect family all night.”
Emma scoffs, “My perfect family.”
“And how are you coping?” Regina asks.
“You could have told me,” Emma says, a far-off look in her eyes.
“It wasn’t my secret to tell. And I never told secrets that weren’t mine. That was always your mother’s niche.”
Emma rolls her eyes, “She was ten, Regina.”
“At ten, Henry knew about secrets and how to keep them. He obviously made it all the way to Boston with no one the wiser. And you, I’m assuming you knew how to keep a secret at ten.”
Emma shakes her head, knowing this fight will lead them nowhere.
“You never answered my question,” Regina says, filling the silence.
Emma sighs but moves into the room. She sits on the floor, leaning against Regina’s dresser, facing the bed. “I don’t know.” She shrugs, “It makes sense for them to want more kids. To want to do it right I guess.”
She shakes her head, letting it fall onto the dresser behind her. “It’s fine,” Emma tells her with a fake smile.
“No. It’s not,” Regina says, sitting upright in bed to see Emma’s face. “And it’s alright. You can be upset here. I won’t judge you.”
Emma scoffs, “Well, that would be a first.”
Regina smirks but tries to hide it by laying back and staring at the ceiling.
“Goodnight Regina,” Emma says finally, slowly standing from her spot on the floor and moving out of the room. “Thank you,” she whispers at the doorway, leaving to go into the spare room.
“You’re welcome,” Regina says to no one.
A faint cry wakes her before the sun. She sighs but rolls out of bed, not wanting Mabel to wake anyone else in the house. She smiles as she thinks about how full her home is right now. Both her children under the same roof. Even Miss Swan’s presence can’t bring her down. She makes her way into her daughter’s room and carefully picks her up from her crib.
“Good morning, darling,” she whispers, holding her sleepy daughter close to her chest. She leaves the bedroom and quietly moves downstairs and into the kitchen to make some coffee.
“Mama?” Mabel finally speaks after Regina takes her first sip of coffee.
“Yes, my dear?”
“Why are we so quiet?”
Regina smiles, “Your brother came home last night.”
Mabel’s eyes light up. “Henry’s home?!”
She nods. Watching the excitement overtake Mabel’s face.
“Time to wake up, Mama. Time to wake UP!!”
“Shhhhh, darling girl,” Regina says, putting a finger to her lips, “Henry got home very late; after your bedtime. He needs sleep. When he wakes up, then you can play.”
“But Mama! ”
Regina shakes her head, “Why don’t we go outside and play until Henry wakes up, okay?”
She huffs, looking every bit her mother’s daughter, but she allows her mother to carry her outside. After impatiently playing with her mother and magically created butterflies flying around her, her brother appears in the doorway. “Morning Mom,” he says with a smile, pushing his bed head out of his face.
“HENRY!” Mabel squeals, taking off from the grass and launching herself at her brother.
Henry catches her in his arms, surprise showing on his face, “Hello there, Miss Mabel,” he greets.
She giggles, “Hi.” She lets go of him and runs over to her mother.
“Good morning, dear,” Regina greets with a smile, running her fingers through her daughter’s hair.
“It’s so early, Mom. And it’s not even a school day.”
Her eyes grow wide, “We’ll have to re-enroll you here in Storybrooke and take you out of your classes in New York.”
“We’ve got time Mom. No worries,” he says with a grin. He sits beside his mom and smiles down at his little sister. She hides against her mother’s chest but continues to peek out at him, suddenly shy. “What’s the plan for today?”
Regina smiles at both her children, “Re-enrolling you in school, Henry,” she teases. “Other than that I suppose we’ll have to be on the look out for whoever took our memories. I’m supposed to meet with Snow and her son at some point because it seems he’s the only one the memory curse hasn’t affected.”
“He kept his memories?” Henry asks in surprise.
She nods, “So it seems.” She looks down at her daughter, “It doesn’t seem to have taken any memories from the children born in the Enchanted Forest. However, Mabel is too young to really tell us if she remembers anything.”
Henry nods, “Do you think I could come with you?”
“Of course dear, you and Mabel can both come if you’d like,” Regina says with a smile.
They sit in silence for a few moments, Henry sneaking smiles at his sister when she peeks away from her mother’s chest to watch him. Regina notices movement in the kitchen. She waves her hand, magicking a cup of coffee on the counter for Emma. “Mabel, dear,” she starts, drawing her daughter’s attention up to her, “Do you remember me telling you about Henry’s other mother?”
Henry looks over and sees Emma in the kitchen. He smiles and looks back to his other mother to see what she tells his little sister.
Mabel nods to her mother, a smile on her face.
“She’s here and she’s going to come outside in a minute. I want you to be polite okay darling?”
Mabel nods, her smile growing across her face.
Regina’s eyes narrow in confusion, studying her daughter.
Emma walks outside and Mabel launches her tiny self at the blonde. “MAMA!” she screams.
Emma freezes her eyes connecting with Regina’s.
Regina looks less distressed but Henry beats her to it, “Mabel, Emma is my mom.”
“Me too,” she tells him matter-of-factly.
Emma looks distressed, like she wants to crawl out of her skin and away from the little girl clinging to her legs.
Regina stands and moves over to Mabel, squatting to be at her level, gently removing her from Emma. “Mabel,” she says softly. “Emma his Henry’s mom.”
“Mine too!” Mabel doubles down.
“Sweetie,” she starts, “You’ve got me,” trying not to sound too hurt.
“TWO Mamas,” Mabel tells her again, growing exasperated. “Just like Henry.”
Regina closes her eyes and shakes her head once. “Mabel, that’s not true. I’m sorry, baby. But you’re stuck with me.”
Mabel rolls her eyes and takes a step away from Regina. “Ma-gic-ba-by,” she spells out and pokes Regina’s belly. “Two Mamas,” she repeats.
Regina’s eyes open wide in shock, trying to figure out what Mabel really means.
“Uhhhh, Ma?” Henry says, distracting Regina from her thoughts.
Emma takes a step back, bumping into the doorway.
“Oh for heaven’s sake Miss Swan,” Regina snaps, standing up to her full height. “She’s a toddler. She’s heard me talk about Henry having two mothers and now she wants to be just like him. It’s hardly a surprise. Stop looking as if you’re going to throw up.”
“Wha-?” Emma shakes her head. “What’s she talking about?”
Regina rolls her eyes. “Nothing, dear.” She lifts her daughter into her arms. “We need to get dressed and meet your mother for breakfast. Henry, if you would like to go, please get dressed and ready. If not, there’s oatmeal or pancake mix you can make as long as Emma is with you.”
He looks at his blonde mother, who still looks pretty shaken. “I think I’ll probably just stay here.”
Regina nods and heads inside to get herself and her daughter dressed.
She stops in Mabel’s room first, “Mabel dear,” she says, setting her daughter on her bed and kneeling in front of her, “What did you mean when you said you have two mamas?”
“I’m da magic baby, Mama,” she says, putting her hands up in the air.
“But what does that mean, baby?” Regina asks, trying to wrack her brain for any memory of what happened during their missing time.
Mabel sighs but stands up from her bed and touches her mother’s cheek. She smiles and moves her hand down to Regina’s belly. “Magic. Baby.” She tells her again. She reaches back up to hold her cheek again.
Regina’s eyes glaze over as her vision swims with a memory that isn’t hers. She finds herself looking up into her own eyes. Everything is soft, a little blurry, but she feels safe. Her body is enveloped in warmth and safety. Cocooned within it.
She's singing softly.
“My sweet little miracle.” Regina whispers.
“To think we made you. And that she’ll never know.” Wipes at eyes. “Well, I’ll make sure you know them. Your Mom and your brother. You’ll know all about them. I promise you, my heart.”
Regina blinks and her eyes focus back onto the room before her.
“Mabel,” she whispers in surprise. She stares in shock down at her daughter, “You have magic.”
“Duh, Mama,” she says with an eye roll.
Regina can’t help but laugh at the way her tiny eyelids flutter as she tries to roll her eyes like her mother does. “Alright, dear. We have to go and meet Snow for brunch and Granny’s.”
“Magic Mama!!” Mabel squeals, clapping her hands.
“Okay, Mabel, we’ll use magic to save time,” she agrees. She stands and with a puff of purple smoke, they’re both dressed and standing outside of Granny’s.
“Yay Mama!” Mabel says taking off at a run into the building. “Pancakes!! Pancakes!”
“Settle, dear,” Regina says, placing hands on her daughter’s shoulders.”Make sure you ask nicely, Mabel.”
They enter the diner and spot Snow and her son already sitting in a booth.
“Auntie ‘Gina!” he says excitedly, jumping from the booth to wrap her in a tight squeeze.
“Hello, Sweetheart,” she says, gently holding the back of his head.
“Mommy says my Emma stayed at your house last night. Is she coming here to see me?”
Regina smiles and sits down beside him as Mabel crawls up on Mary-Margaret’s lap, no doubt to tell her all about her morning. “She’s going to eat breakfast with Henry, but I’m sure she’ll be over to see you soon.”
He looks a little crestfallen at this but she quickly distracts him with the menu and decides what to get for breakfast.
They eat together, talking about whatever the children bring up. After they’re done and the children have gone over to look through the jukebox with Granny, Regina broaches the topic with Mary-Margaret. “Has he said anything about the Enchanted Forest. Does he remember?”
“You know he does, Regina,” she says with a confused look.
Regina shifts uncomfortably.
“What happened?” Snow asks, trying to get a read on Regina’s emotions.
She swallows thickly and looks over at Mabel, pointing out something excitedly to Granny. “She said something this morning. Something about being a magic baby.”
She’s silent for a moment. “Is it possible?” she asks Regina.
Regina shrugs, “I don’t know. I suppose theoretically, it could happen. Magic creates lots of things. But I’ve never heard of magical conception.”
“She said you carried her?” A pause. “But Regina, that’s-”
“I know,” Regina says. “It’s impossible,” she finishes.
“Unless-” Snow starts.
“Unless what?” Regina asks, a little impatient.
“Unless True Love,” Snow states.
“Oh for heaven’s sake,” Regina scoffs. “Daniel was my True Love, Snow. And we both know how that ended.”
“He was your first love, Regina. Perhaps there’s someone else out there destined to be with you.”
Regina is silent. Thinking back to that time in Neverland. No , it couldn’t be. Fate isn’t that cruel.
Or is she?
But the timelines don’t add up. It can’t be true.
“You know who it is.” It’s not a statement.
Regina looks up, “I haven’t the faintest idea,” she lies.
Snow scoffs. “I may not have Emma’s superpower, but I know you’re lying to me Regina.”
“I think it’s time for us to go,” she says, ignoring Snow’s remark. She stands from the booth, calling out to Mabel, “Come along dear. Time to go.” Both children come running. She leans down to Snow’s son, “I’ll be sure to tell Emma you said hi.”
“Can she come over and play with me?”
“I’ll tell her she must,” Regina promises.
He smiles proudly at that. No one ever says no to his Gina.
Regina takes Mabel's hand and together they leave the diner to head back home.
“Mama?” Mabel asks as they begin walking home together.
“Why Mama don’t know me?”
Regina falters in her steps. She sighs, stopping, and picking up Mabel in her arms. She pulls her close to her chest so Mabel can rest her head against her shoulder. “Sweetie, a lot of what you remember, no one else does.”
“So we hafta get your mem’ries?” Mabel asks innocently.
“Yes, dear. We just have to find my memories, but that could take a while,” Regina explains.
Mabel lifts her head to look into Regina’s eyes, “Just ask the mean greenie.”
Regina stops walking again. “Ask who?”
“The mean green lady. She was naughty at home. Said she was gonna hurt you.”
Regina’s eyebrows draw downward, intently thinking about what her daughter just said.
They continue their short walk back to their house in silence, Regina stewing over what had just transpired between her and her daughter as well as between Snow and herself. Mabel stays with her ear over Regina’s heart, playing idly with her mother’s necklace.
Regina turns toward her house, following the walkway up to the front door. She opens the door and moves inside, still holding tightly to her daughter. Inside, she sees Henry and Emma in the living room, playing a video game and speaking quietly to one another. She watches Emma bump her shoulder with Henry’s and Regina smiles, at least not everything has changed.
“We’re back,” Regina calls, setting Mabel down and acknowledging the two in the living room.
“Hey Mom,” Henry says, turning and giving his mom a big smile before his attention goes back to the screen, “No fair Ma, that’s cheating,” he whines, pushing buttons on his controller.
Regina does her best not to roll her eyes. “I need to make a phone call.” She turns to her daughter, “Mabel, do you want to play here or in my office?”
“I go with Mama,” she says, taking Regina’s hand.
Together, they walk into Regina’s home office. With a flick of her wrist, Regina brings some of Mabel’s toys into the room. Mabel moves over to her toys while Regina moves behind her desk. She pulls out her phone and, after making sure Mabel is distracted, calls Snow.
“Regina?” Snow asks, a little concerned.
“Have you heard any talk about someone green returning from the forest?”
“What?” Snow finally responds.
Regina sighs, “You were there when we were documenting all the newcomers that came back with this last curse. Do you remember anyone green?”
A scoff, “I think I would remember that Regina.”
More silence. Regina sighs, “Mabel mentioned ‘asking the green lady’ about my memories.”
“Hmmmm. Well, I’ll ask Leo and see what he remembers, but I think someone green would stick out,” Snow says.
Regina rubs at her temples. “Alright, see what you can find out.” She goes to hang up.
“How’s Emma?” Snow asks before she can hit “End Call”.
“She’s playing a video game with Henry right now.”
“But how is she?” Snow asks again.
“She’s...coping, Snow,” Regina sighs.
Silence. Snow takes a breath. “I wish I knew how to fix this,” she breathes.
“There’s nothing to fix, Snow,” Regina tells her former stepdaughter turned friend. “She just needs time.”
“One thing I’m not good at giving,” Snow says with a self-depreciating chuckle.
“Things will work out,” Regina promises.
“Are you ready to tell me who Mabel’s father is yet?” Snow asks, changing the subject.
“Let me know what you find out from your son,” Regina says before ending the call.
Regina sighs, running her fingers through her hair. “Mama can we play?”
“Sure, darling,” she says, standing from her chair.
They head outside, taking Henry and Emma with them. Regina smiles as she looks around, Mabel and Henry chasing Emma, who’s pretending she can’t easily outrun two children. She laughs from her spot beneath her apple tree.
She watches Mabel reach up and hold both hands against Emma’s cheeks. Regina sits upright and watches nervously as Emma’s glaze over. Mabel lets go of Emma and skips away towards where Henry is pointing out a bird in the bird feeder.
Emma blinks and looks to Regina.
Regina sighs and leans back against the tree, waiting for Emma to ask for an explanation.
“What was that?” she asks, sitting down beside Regina under the apple tree.
“She has magic.”
“Well, that much is obvious, Regina. I meant how did she show me that?”
“What did she show you?” Regina asks, finally looking at the blonde beside her.
“I-” Emma shakes her head, “I’m not even sure. My eyes went dark and then there was this...singing? Maybe?”
Regina is quiet, waiting for Emma to continue.
“I just felt safe. Is that even possible? Did she really make me feel something when I couldn’t see anything?”
“It’s magic, so I suppose,” Regina says.
“But what did she show me?”
Regina shrugs, “She apparently has magic. And already has a good handle of control.”
“Were you teaching her?” Emma asks.
“I wouldn’t be the one to ask,” Regina reminds her. “No memories, remember?”
“We really need to figure out how to get those back so we can stop whoever did this.”
It takes everything in Regina not to mention how obvious Emma’s statement was. Instead she just sighs, “Yes, well the only thing I have to go on is Mabel telling me to ask “the mean greenie” so we’re at a loss at that end.”
“The mean greenie?” Emma repeats in confusion, “Is this a person?”
“Apparently there was a mean green lady who said she was going to hurt me in the other realm. However, seeing as I have no recollection of this, and she’s obviously not green here in Storybrooke or we would have known about her already, I suppose we don’t have any solid leads.”
“Who was green in your world?”
“I’m sure a lot of people and things were green. The Enchanted Forest had a lot more than just humans living there. And even some of the people were cursed and I suppose that could theoretically make someone green.”
Emma looks over at Henry and Mabel playing. She thinks and Regina can almost hear the cogs turning. “But I feel like this person would be more prominent if she was dealing with you directly, especially if Mabel saw her. So, that means she probably has magic. Could she be a fairy?”
Regina looks to Emma, that actually makes sense.
The surprise must show on her face because Emma bristles, “I am known to occassionally have a smart thought,” she explains.
Regina smirks but chooses to move on. “The only green person I know with magic is Tinker Bell, and I can’t imagine her being “mean”, especially to a child.”
“Maybe it’s the Wicked Witch, eh? That’d be a plot twist,” Emma teases. But Regina’s silent. Emma looks at her and her eyes widen, “Regina, tell me it’s not the Wicked Witch. She can’t be real.”
Regina gives her a ‘are you serious right now look’?
Emma sighs, “Yeah, yeah, I’m the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming. My son’s other mother is the Evil Queen. I’m friends with Pinnochio, Jiminy Cricket, and Red Riding Hood - who also happens to be the Big Bad Wolf. It shouldn’t surprise me. Hell, I even dated a Flying Monkey.” She pauses, and looks at Regina, their shocked expressions mirroring each other. “Oh my God I dated a Flying Monkey!” Emma says, as if she had forgotten the whole thing. “I completely forgot. He flew off the freaking roof?! How did I forget that?” She looks back at Regina who is still shocked, “I- I was dating this guy for a while before Hook showed up with that memory potion. He asked me to marry him but I said no. I just- couldn’t,” she adds after a breath of silence and a look that cuts Regina to her core. “And he just-” she shakes her head in disbelief. “He just flew off the roof. I completely forgot about it when I turned around and went back inside. Even when Henry asked me about it, I didn’t remember that he flew off the roof. How did I forget he FLEW OFF THE ROOF?!”
“Low grade residual magic,” Regina explains, “It’s actually pretty basic. Enough magic is left behind that it messes with your brain. So, your brain just comes up with a logical-enough explanation.”
“That is wild,” Emma whispers, shaking her head.
“But,” Regina starts, drawing back to the conversation at hand. “It does tell us what we’re up against. The only person I know who is green and using Flying Monkeys is the Wicked Witch of the West.”
Emma groans, throwing her head back against the tree trunk. “This won’t be easy, will it? She’s got magic. And loads of it since she took it all back in Oz, right? Or is that just a crazy rumor I heard?”
Regina shrugs, “I never spent much time in Oz. I hated the feel of other worlds’ magic compared to that of the Forest.”
“Well isn’t that just fan-freaking-tastic,” Emma snarks.
Regina doesn’t have time to respond because her vision starts to swim, as if Mabel was controlling her again; only Mabel is across the yard with Henry. “Emma,” she breathes, reaching out to grasp her arm.
“Regina?” Emma asks, sitting forward and allowing Regina to put her weight against her. “Regina?” she asks again, louder.
Regina’s vision swims and everything goes black. Everything is gone except Emma screaming her name one more time. Then, nothing.
Regina blinks, looking around. She’s in a dark room. She attempts to bring forth a fireball, but nothing grows in the palm of her hand. Dammit.
“Careful, dear sister. Wouldn’t want you to hurt yourself trying to do magic,” a condescending voice calls from the darkness.
“Who are you?” Regina grits through her teeth, unable and unwilling to admit her fear at being surrounded by this unknown darkness.
“Oh, and here I thought you would have had your memories back by now with all your True Love’s mucking about,” the voice sneers.
“Excuse me?” Regina asks, confusing ebbing from her chest.
“Oh please,” the voice scoffs. “A soulmate. A True Love. You just have to have it all, don’t you, Regina.”
“I can guarantee I haven’t the faintest idea what you’re going on about,” Regina says.
“Well, let me enlighten you,” the voice says. Lights flash and Regina can see herself as if reliving a memory she has no idea she had locked away in her brain, blocked by the curse. It’s her with a man. A man from her past. The archer Tinker Bell tried to get her to meet. They’re walking together, her very pregnant, and laughing together. She touches his arm when he says something and two young boys going running past them, causing them to move apart and him to grab her elbow so she didn’t stumble.
The memory disappears and Regina’s heart seizes, that was a key into her missing years, and she has no idea what it means.
“See? The voice asks sharply.
“I can’t say that I do,” Regina snarks, denial strong, her back straightening even more than before, raising to her full height and embodying as much of the Evil Queen as she can in slacks and a sweater. She tries to push Robin from her mind, she needed to find her new friend. Her soulmate, a completely platonic soulmate who helped and supported her while Emma was away.
“Ugh,” the voice groans, “You really are as dense as you look.”
Regina’s jaw tenses as she tries to bring forth her magic, but it’s being blocked by something.
“Well, anyways, it didn’t work out. I sort of stole his heart and now he belongs to me,” the voice promises. Regina doesn’t have to see this voice to know she’s grinning like the cheshire cat.
“What do you want?” Regina grounds out between clenched teeth.
“Simple. I want you to have never existed,” the voice says.
“Oh, is that all?” Regina asks with an eye roll.
“Yes, but I can’t just kill you. It’s more elaborate. So, I’ll give you back your memories. I’ll let you remember and then I’ll make sure you never existed. Give you everything, just to take it away.” The voice is smirking, as if triumphant.
With that finality and before Regina can respond, she finds herself back beneath her apple tree staring up and Emma, Henry, and Mabel. She blinks and attempts to block the sunlight from blinding her. Henry shifts his head to the left, giving his mother a shady sillouette across her face.
“Mama!” Mabel says, “Not naptime!”
“No dear, it’s not naptime,” Regina says with a smile. She sits upright, grabbing onto Emma’s forearm for balance.
“Are you okay?” Emma asks, studying Regina closely.
She smiles brightly, “I’m more than okay,” she breathes, turning her attention to all three of them. “I remember everything.”
“You do?!” Henry shouts in excitement. “How did you get your memories back? Was it True Love’s Kiss?”
Regina shakes her head. “No, the Wicked Witch stole them, but she gave them back.”
“Why?” Henry asks, apprehensive.
Regina shrugs, attempting to look nonchalant. “Why does she do anything?”
“That’s not an answer,” Henry says warily exchanging a look with Emma.
“Unfortunately, dear, I don’t know why the Wicked Witch would do this, but I do know how to defeat her.”
“You do?” Henry and Emma ask simultaneously.
“I do. But first, we need to eat lunch. Then we have things to do.” She makes her way inside as Emma and Henry follow her, sharing an uncertain look. Regina makes a light lunch for everyone and smiles as they all sit around the island eating. When they’re done, she goes about cleaning up the non-existent mess.
“Henry, why don’t you take Mabel outside to play for a bit.” Regina looks up to find Henry looking at her in confusion. She looks over to Emma, who repeats, “Henry, please?”
When Regina nods in agreement, he takes Mabel’s hand and talks about catching frogs in the garden.
“Maybe a snake,” she says excitedly, making Regina flinch. She knows full-well that they’re going to try to sneak in a snake or a frog back into the house.
“Okay, spill,” Emma says when Henry closes the door behind them.
“Don’t play dumb, Regina. You suddenly have your memories back and apparently know who took them and how to stop her and you stop to make lunch?” She scoffs, “Come on, Regina. That’s insane.”
“She’s yours, Emma,” she says softly, staring intently at the countertop.
“What?” Emma asks, clearly not following.
“Mabel,” Regina explains, “She’s yours.”