Chapter 4 – New Normal

Henry wasn’t sure what he expected to wake up to after dropping his information bomb the night before but pancakes wasn’t it. He walked into the kitchen to find plates on pancakes piled high with whip cream and strawberries, it was amazing. His mom never let him have things like that except for on his birthday. 

He knew his eyes were wide and his stomach was grumbling but he was also suspicious. While he’d never done anything like this with his mom he’d never done it here either so there had to be some kind of strings attached. When he looked up to find his grandparents looking at him with huge smiles on their faces from the other side of the plates he knew that string was about to choke him. There was no escape, nowhere to run away to so he had to go through with it and try and be brave.

Sitting at the counter he picked up his fork and tried to find the pancakes under the whip cream while he waited for them to start talking. He was very good at waiting out the adults around him.

“So, Henry.” It begins. “We wanted to talk to you about what you said last night. About you and Regina.”

“What about it?” He knew they wouldn’t be thrilled about him spending time with his mom again after everything but he also knew there was nothing they could do to stop him. He found a way to Emma, he found a way to them, he would find his way to her. End of story.

“Well, we just wanted to make sure you really thought about things before you made a decision that could affect your whole life. I mean letting Regina back into your life is a big step to take. I just want you to be sure.” He could see the concern in her eyes and he knew out of everyone in Storybrooke Snow was the person who his mom had hurt the worst, but he couldn’t let that be the only reason he used to make his decision.

“I am sure, you’re the one who isn’t sure. I know what she did to you and everyone else was horrible, but I have to make my choice based on how she treated me.”

“I just don’t want you to make a choice now with only half of the story.”

“I know the whole story, I asked her yesterday to explain it to me so that I could make a truly informed decision. She told me about Daniel and why she was so angry in the first place. She told me about her mom and you and everything. She might not have told me everything yet, but she told me enough.” The mention of Daniel seemed to make Snow sway a little back and forth. He felt a little bad for bringing it up, but he needed them to know that he knew.

“Henry I don’t know what Regina told you about-” He didn’t want to listen to the excuses or the rants, he’d had enough of those in his life already.

“She told me that when you were a girl mom’s mom tricked you into telling a secret and Daniel died, then mom got angrier and angrier as you grew up and got a wonderful life while she was stuck in a life she didn’t want. That anger eventually got so big and dark that it consumed her life and pushed her to do more and more bad things.” He knew that her anger didn’t make what she did any better, but Chloe was right that it did put a different spin on the whole story.

“Henry I-” He knew it was rude to keep interrupting his grandmother but he really didn’t want to hear it right now. He knew Snow’s story from the book and while he didn’t know all of it and he knew Chloe would probably tell him he should listen to her and let her tell him whatever she wanted to but today was about his mom and it might not be fair but he was going to focus on her today and everyone else can try again tomorrow.

“I know it wasn’t really your fault, you were my age, I think deep down mom knows it too but everyone else was gone so she focused on you. I know what she did was wrong and went too far beyond any kind of a reasonable response to the situation but that was also a long time ago for her. You guys might have some memories of being stuck here but the real you didn’t have that time only my mom did and she’s changed. Maybe not completely, yet, but she’s changed and I’m not going to turn my back on her.” Having said everything he wanted to say he jumped up and ran to his room to get dressed. He wanted to get to the park soon so he could try to find Chloe. They had a lot to talk about.

Emma walked up to Regina’s door trying to find a different emotion to lead with other than anger. She knew that this wasn’t Regina’s fault, that Henry was just being a sweet kid who wanted to make sure Regina wasn’t lonely in her big old house on her own, but she still couldn’t help but feel this deep seeded rage building up within her at the idea of her son coming here alone.

She debated about knocking, then she remembered that Regina had magic and that made her mind up for her. As she waited for her to come to the door she rehearsed for the hundredth time what she was going to say, she didn’t want to start out overly confrontational but at the same time if she went too soft then Regina would just run right over her. She had one of those personalities.

“Can I help you?” She silently cursed herself she was so busy trying to psych herself up for the confrontation that she hadn’t noticed the door opening, not a good start.

“I want to talk to you about yesterday.”

“About how you and your parents broke into my home and started flinging accusations at my head? Yes, Sheriff, I do believe we should discuss that.” She could hear the sneer in her voice even if it wasn’t on her face and it put her back up.

Yes, what she did yesterday wasn’t exactly friendly, especially since she had been wrong but that didn’t give Regina the right to try and use it against her. She had been trying to protect Henry!

“Sure, okay, if that’s where we need to start in order to finish this conversation in a civil manner then I’m sorry for storming in here yesterday. Hopper told me he saw Henry coming in here alone and I jumped to conclusions. Now can we talk about Henry?” It didn’t look like she was going to let it go for a moment before she seemed to have an internal debate with herself over how to act. Thankfully she seemed to come down on the side of being polite.

“Very well, come in Ms. Swan and we’ll talk about Henry.” Following the Evil Queen into her house gave off serious nursery rhyme vibes. Come into my parlor said the spider to the fly. She was so not ready for this, every time before when she had confronted the other woman it had always been after she had done something wrong, she wasn’t used to being on the backfoot from the beginning.

“Henry told me last night that he wanted to spend alternating weeks here with you. Starting Monday. I don’t have to tell you why that would be a bad idea.”

“Now that’s where we disagree, already, I think you do need to tell me why it would be a bad idea for Henry to spend time in his home.” Damn, she walked right into that one.

“The whole town is baying for your blood Regina, do you really want Henry here when they come looking for it?” She knew it was a bit of a low blow, but it was also a valid concern so she didn’t feel bad at all for making her point.

“Let them come. Magic has returned to me now there is nothing you or anyone else can do to me now and no one will ever lay a single finger on my son.” Her hands clenched as the word son floated in the air between them.

“You can’t promise that.”

“Yes I can. I am the villain, remember, I know how to spot every weak link far before my enemies will ever have the chance to even look for a way to exploit it. My son will always be safe with me.”

There it was again, that word, son. That was the real problem between them and they both knew it. They were both his mother and it hurt to not be the only one, but for him they would both try their best to keep things civil. They had to.

“Why are you really here Emma? You know if Henry wants to be with me you won’t be able to truly stop him any more than I was able to stop him from running to you. What is this really about?”

“I just want to be sure he’s going to be okay. Look, I know I can’t stop him I don’t think anything in the world can stop that kid once he really sets his mind to doing something but that doesn’t mean I won’t worry about it. I just needed to be sure he would be safe here, with you.”

“Always.” Strangely enough she believed her, for all that she didn’t give birth to him Regina was Henry’s mother and she would die to protect him. They both would. Looking into each others eyes they finally truly understood one another. 

All that mattered was Henry and Henry wanted to be with them both.

Henry found Chloe near the swings, that seemed to be her spot really and he could respect that, everyone needs that one place that they could go to to think. He sat down in the swing next to her just letting himself sway in the breeze until she decided to pay attention to him. 

“So how did it go?”

“It went. I told everyone that I would be spending every other week at my mom’s house. They didn’t like it but they can’t stop me either. I just wanted to thank you for helping me. You didn’t have to and I just-” He couldn’t finish what he was trying to say his throat was too full of emotion to be able to choke out the words. 

“Well, you’re welcome Henry, it was my pleasure.” She simply continued to swing as she spoke gently swaying back and forth never really speeding up or slowing down just being there.

“I was wondering, you said you aren’t in the book, and I get that but who are you? If you don’t mind me asking.”

“I was a little nobody really. My mother was named Charlotte. She was a maid in the castle run by Princess Aurora and her family. When this curse came down on us all my mother was already under a curse of her own in the castle, I was swept here because I was living with my father at the time and we were forced to leave my mother behind. I miss her terribly and hope to one day see her again.”

“I’m sorry.” There was really nothing else to say, his mom had taken her away from hers and she still chose to help him make the right choice for his own family. She was truly an amazing person. “Who was your dad?”

“My father was a man named Jean. He was a soldier or little renown, he served with LeuFou and Gaston for a time and so we were living in another kingdom far from my mother when the curse hit us all.”

“That’s cool, did your dad come through with you?”

“I’m sure he’s here somewhere and one day I’ll find him.” She sounded so upbeat when she said it like finding him when so many others were also looking for lost loved ones was a certainty. Well, it would be if he had anything to say about it, he would help her find him.

One day.

Regina sat in her foyer trying not to jump at every sound. Henry was coming home today and she couldn’t wait. The fact that he decided to give her this second chance was more than she ever dreamed of but now he was coming home. Not forever but she would still be a part of his life and that was all the mattered.

Hearing the doorknob turn and the door creek open she couldn’t stop herself from getting to her feet, but she did manage to hold herself back from running to the door. She didn’t know if Emma came in with him or not and she would not lose even and ounce of dignity in front of that woman.

“Hi mom.” He was home.

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