Henry stared at the door that led to the place that had been his home for so long and to his surprise he actually felt sad that it wasn’t his home anymore. Reaching up before he lost his courage he rang the doorbell and waited for his mom to answer. Chloe had been right, no matter what else she was, no matter that Emma was his mother, Regina was still his mom. He heard her high heels clicking on the hard tile floor and knew she was almost to the door. For years the sound of her heels clicking away was how he knew where she was in the house. It was how he knew she was always there.
As the door slid open he watched her face change from anger directed at any of the countless adults who had been coming to her since the curse broke to a mix of sorrow and joy at seeing him standing there. It was then that he finally understood what Chloe had been trying to make him see.
His mom was not only alone, she was lonely. Just like he used to be, before he found his purpose, before he found the book.
He’d moved on to a new family where he was surrounded by love and life and he’d just left her behind by herself. He finally came to a decision he’d been battling with since Chloe began to talk to him. He would give his mom a second chance, with him at least, she was his mom she’d earned that from him even if no one else agreed. If he’d learned anything from his book it was that everyone deserves a second chance. Everyone.
“Hi mom, can we talk?”
Regina didn’t know what to think. When she’d first seen Henry on her doorstep she’d been so happy but also so sad that he wasn’t hers anymore, then he’d called her mom. At first she thought it might be a trick, she was ashamed of it now but she’d thought he’d been sent to distract her, but it had been ten minutes and nothing had happened. He seemed to be deep in thought when she’d asked him what was wrong he had told her he was trying to find the right way to word his questions, that he wanted to know some things but he didn’t want to hurt her feelings by saying it wrong.
“Henry, you won’t hurt my feelings. Just ask me what you came to ask.” After the curse broke she had resigned herself to his hatred, if he wanted to know something she would do her best to explain it all to him. Anything to take that sadness from his eyes.
“Why?” Why what?
“Why ask?” She was so confused. Did he want to know why he should ask her his questions? She didn’t even know what his questions were.
“No, that’s my question. Why? Why did you enact the curse? Why do you hate Snow so much? Just why?” He looked so earnest, like he was genuinely confused. Almost like he couldn’t believe he’d never asked before. Like this question was an obvious one to ask, but he’d just never taken the time before.
“Why did you decide to ask me that now?” No one had ever really asked her about this before. A few simply knew like Snow and her father, others weren’t interested in the why, only the outcome, and the rest just assumed that she was simply evil at heart. No one had ever simply asked her, no one but her Henry.
“I met someone today, a new friend or at least someone who could be a new friend maybe, and she pointed out that I know the reasons behind so many other things that on the surface would look like acts of evil from an outsiders point of view. That the reasons behind what they did made me more inclined to forgive them or to even think that there was nothing to forgive at all. Then when she asked me why you did what you did I couldn’t tell her, because I didn’t know. So now I’m asking why you did it. So I can tell her.” Her boy looked so flustered as he talked about this girl and his neck got red when he said how he wanted to answer her questions. Whoever this girl was she definitely made an impression.
She thought about what to tell him, should she tell him the truth? This might be her only chance to tell him everything, to help him understand, and even if she never got him back she had this chance now to help him to really see her for who she was both back then and now. Even if he never loved her again, maybe after today he just wouldn’t hate her, and maybe that would be enough. Besides if she didn’t tell him someone else might and who knew how they would spin the story. Every teller of tales had their own way of presenting the facts after all, he should get to hear hers.
“Well I guess it’s all connected. I hate Snow White because when she was younger about your age really, she told someone a secret of mine and the man I loved very much was killed because of it. At first I tried to let it go. I really did, intellectually I knew that she was just a child and she was tricked into revealing my secret by my mother, a most formidable woman who even I as a young adult had a hard time denying. But the more time that passed, and the more my life changed in ways I didn’t want it to the angrier I became.
“Her life was turning out just as she’d always dreamed she had everything she’d ever wanted without even a shred of guilt for what she had done, it didn’t matter to me at the time that she didn’t actually know the consequences of what she’d done she had no idea that my mother had killed Daniel, all I could see was her life turning out perfect while I was stuck living a lie I never wanted to live. Then one day I was just sitting there thinking about how different my life could have been if only he’d survived and we’d run away together like we’d planned and I just started to blame her. She was the reason he was gone, so it followed that everything else that changed because of his death was also her fault.
“I did a lot of bad things trying to make the pain I felt go away. I thought that if she knew my pain, if she felt it like I did, if she had a hole in her heart like I did then I would feel better, that we would be even somehow. But everything I did, it never worked, my life still fell apart and she got loyal friends and the love of her life out of it. Then they joined forces and they defeated me, banished me, and they were together happily ever after. The day I got the announcement of their wedding I felt this black bone deep rage well up inside of me and I couldn’t make it stop. She was getting everything. Everything I tried, all those years, and she was still going to get the love of her life while mine was dead because of her.
“Then I remembered the curse. My friend Maleficent had told me about it before, she’d gotten it in trade with Rumplestiltskin long ago but she said she would never enact it. That it was too evil even for her and I thought what a wonderful idea. You know the rest.” Well more or less, there was no reason to tell anyone what became of her father or the fate of the hatter.
Henry didn’t know what to say. He’d half expected some pitiful excuse of no one ever loved me or something along those lines but this? Strangely he kind of understood this. He probably wouldn’t have before talking with Chloe but during her explanation he’d put himself in her place. Her love, her Charming, had died all because a little girl couldn’t keep a secret then that girl grows up to have everything she ever wanted, everything his mom never got to even reach for again after Daniel died. Yeah he could see how that might eat away at someone. He wasn’t condoning what she did, the curse had still been beyond evil, and beyond overkill, but maybe it was if not forgivable at least a little understandable.
It almost sounded like everything had just gotten away from her. She had wanted Snow to suffer and when she couldn’t get to her individually she went after everyone just so she could make sure she got her. It was extreme but he could see the train of thought that derailed to make it happen.
He opened his mouth to tell her that he forgave her when he heard the front door slam open and multiple footsteps come rushing towards them in the kitchen. His mom moved around until she was in front of him, protecting him like she always had. Looking around her at the doorway he saw Snow, Charming, and Emma standing there looking very very angry with his mom.
When she had first been told that Henry had been seen going into Regina’s house Emma hadn’t known what to do. She’d run home to see if Henry was there thinking that maybe the person who’d seen it had been mistaken. She hadn’t found Henry but she had found her parents, after filling them in they all decided they needed to go rescue Henry from Regina. Now here they were in Regina’s kitchen, it struck her for a moment that Regina was standing in front of Henry protecting him, but she pushed it away to focus on what was important. This woman had her son.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing Regina? I said you couldn’t see him.”
“Slow down Nancy Drew. It may have escaped your notice what with all that righteous fury you have building up in you there, but I didn’t take Henry, he just showed up here.” She knew that Hopper had said that Henry had come here alone, but that didn’t mean that Regina hadn’t lured him somehow or helped him make the decision to come. She hated that magic was now a viable option when it came to figuring out what happened.
“Why would he do that, he hates you as much as everyone else in this town does!” And he did. She had sat through countless rants about the evil’s of the Evil Queen. Heck before she even started to believe in the stories he told he still spent hours a day telling her how evil his mom was, how manipulative and cruel she could be. No way that kid just up and changes his mind without help.
She knew from the way Regina flinched that she’d hit the mark with that.
“No, I don’t.” Wait what? Did Henry really just say that he didn’t hate Regina? But Henry had hated Regina since the day she’d met him all those months ago. It was a constant like the sun. The sun rose every day and Henry hated Regina every day.
“Henry, what-” She never got to finish her question.
“I thought I hated her, but really I only hated some of the things that she’s done. But a new friend of mine pointed out that I was wrong and she was right. I don’t hate Regina, how could I, she’s my mom.” Ouch! That hurt a lot more than she’d thought it would.
“Henry sweetie, Emma’s your mom you know that.” She turned to Snow silently thanking her for coming to her defense.
That didn’t answer her question though of what the hell had gotten into Henry. It was like someone had flipped a switch and changed him from day to night, made him care about Regina all of a sudden, and the only person she could think of who would even want to do that was Regina herself. He had mentioned a new friend, could this friend be the cause of his new outlook on life?
“No, Emma’s my mother, Regina’s my mom.”
“Henry, what?” That was all any of them could think to say. That sentence was just so bizarre they couldn’t even come up with a whole question. Even Regina looked confused, which while hilarious wasn’t really helpful.
“Emma gave birth to me, and she’s staying here for me so she’s my mother and nothing will ever change that. Regina took care of me for years and taught me everything I know, she’s the reason I am who I am, she’s my mom and nothing’s ever going to change that either. I won’t give up my mom to keep my mother and if you really love me you wouldn’t ask me to.” With that Henry just turned and ran from the house not letting anyone stop him. The kid was really stubborn when he wanted something and right now it would seem he wanted to be away from all of them.
Stunned she turned back to Regina to find her equally as stunned as the rest of them by Henry’s outburst. So this new way of thinking hadn’t come from her then. Then who had twisted his mind around so much?
“This conversation isn’t over Regina.”
Their business here over for now the Charming’s left to find Henry and to figure out what to do now.
Regina sat at a table with her mother Cora and tried to understand what had happened today. When it had come down to it the only thing she could think to do was to seek out her own mother for advice. She had never been the best mother in the world but since she’d gotten her heart back she’d changed, become more of a true mother and she really needed someone else’s opinion on this whole thing.
“So, Henry has forgiven you then?”
“It would seem so, I just can’t figure out why.” Why had Henry made a complete turn on how he saw her. It couldn’t have been simply her explanation of her actions, while it had been as complete as she could think to make it, it hadn’t been a long drawn out narrative that gave him a lot to think about. It had been the bare bones facts of her life before the curse, nothing else.
“Who cares why he’s forgiven you, just be happy that he has.” She was right of course she should be happy but she just couldn’t seem to shake this feeling of dread. If he could turn so quickly in her defense, could something else just as quickly turn him back against her?
“But, it was all so sudden mother, what if someone has cast some sort of spell on him to make him forgive me.” If someone had she wasn’t sure what she would do. Kill them or thank them. Kill them most likely, no one cast upon her son, no one.
“What would it matter if they did? The outcome is in your favor, take it as a win and be thankful.”
“You didn’t mother! Tell me-” If her mother had cast a spell on her son then the killing would just be that much more creative. They may be on speaking terms at the moment but that didn’t mean she had forgiven her, not by a long shot. One day they would have their reckoning and when they did, it would be epic in nature and scope.
“Of course not dear, rest assured I had nothing to do with it. I simply don’t understand why you would care why you have his forgiveness when you’ve worked so hard for it.” Because if it was a spell and if that spell were to break then Henry would go back to hating her and she didn’t think she would survive that a second time. She could never say that out loud however not even to her own mother.
“You’re right mother, but is there a way for us to be certain that this change of heart is true.” She had to know!
“Of course dear, if that’s what you want I’m sure we could think of something.”
“Yes, mother, that’s what I want.” It was what she needed.