Decided to rewatch some of Once Upon a Time. This is what my efforts have come up with so far. Hope ya like it, my alligators!
I don't own Once Upon a Time.
Storybrooke was slowly recovering from the sudden break in the curse. Regina had, unfortunately, been released from prison on the grounds that nothing she had done in the past could actually be proven since it had happened in a completely different realm. Most of the townsfolk were outraged at the verdict and even more so that she had been able to keep her reputation clean in this new realm. A few were placated by the news that she would have to resign as mayor, though, in favor of Snow White and Prince Charming. Regina had only rolled her eyes and muttered about wondering how long that would last.
What truly bothered her was her son's continued suspicion of her as the Evil Queen. He wanted her to prove she had changed, but how on earth could she possibly do that when the entire town didn't trust her? It was times like these when Regina wished that Henry had waited until he was eighteen before deciding to go off and try breaking a curse. At least then he wouldn't have such a black and white mentality. The former queen had instead reluctantly resigned herself to her home, practicing in this new world's form of magic.
She still went to the diner for coffee every morning, ignoring the simpletons and their muttered curses. Emma had allowed her—Regina sneered at the thought every time—to see Henry on the weekends, though with her supervision, of course. Today was one of those such visits, actually. They tended to be less tense when held in the diner, so Regina made it a point of arriving early. Within a few minutes, Henry and Emma arrived through the door and, like always, a smile split Regina's face at the sight of her son.
Emma left Henry to his own devices while she went to the counter to order a soda. Glancing back, the blonde watched Regina tentatively reach for a hug and Henry half-heartedly return it. Not for the first time, Emma wondered what Regina had done to cause Henry to hate her so much. And, like usual, the sheriff couldn't keep her mouth closed about it.
Spotting Ruby not too far away, Emma called, "Hey Ruby, you got a minute?"
The first full moon in Storybrooke had passed with little incident, thankfully, and Ruby had easily regained control of her wolf. The entire three nights had been spent running through the forest. The waitress looked up at her best friend's daughter and shrugged, setting down the rag she had been using to wipe down the counter. "What's up, Emma?" she greeted the blonde.
"You've said before that you watched Henry grow up, right?" Emma asked, to which Ruby nodded. "Well, I mean… I don't really know how to ask this, but… was Regina… bad for him?"
Ruby cocked her head in confusion. She had an idea what Emma was implying and the very thought set her blood aflame, but she didn't want to jump to conclusions. Taking a steadying breath through her nose, Ruby murmured, "I don't follow."
"Well, I mean, the kid seems pretty adamant that she's not his mom and he hates her-." Ruby's hand tightened on the countertop, but she said nothing, so Emma continued. "I was just wondering how badly Regina hurt him-." Emma did stop at the infuriated growl that ripped through Ruby's teeth. Several other patrons also glanced over in surprise at the sound, but moon-yellow eyes were only focused on the newcomer.
"Allow me to make one thing very clear, Emma," Ruby said slowly, her voice deep with the presence of the wolf. "Regardless of what she did in the Enchanted Forest and negating the fact that she took us all to an entirely different realm, nothing Regina did here was even remotely bad. Am I clear?"
Emma was taken aback at the sudden change in attitude, especially coming from Snow White's—she resisted the urge to snort at that—most loyal friend. "I-I just wanted to understand-."
"You understand nothing!" Ruby hissed. "You only know what Henry's book told you, but that little pile of dead trees only knows one side of the story, Snow's side. And just like I said, until you came along, nothing she did was bad. That includes raising Henry." Ruby closed her eyes and took a deep breath. "I've watched her for ten years. I've watched her soothe him, the way she smiles at him, the way she held him when he was scared. I listened to her sing him lullabies, coo to him when he was anxious and express how much she loved him day after day. For ten years. Regina may have done some terrible, horrendous things in the Enchanted Forest, but everything she has ever done for Henry has been out of love."
Emma nodded mutely at the small speech, unsure about why Ruby was so adamant to prove her wrong about Regina. Granted, she couldn't possibly imagine the woman singing a lullaby of all things, but clearly, Ruby had seen a side of her that most other people didn't get to. Emma could respect that enough not to comment further. Besides, from her standpoint, it certainly hadn't looked like Henry was in a bad home when she had come.
Ruby took another calming breath and the tension in her shoulders eased. "Look, I'm not trying to bite your head off or anything, I just… she's done a lot of shit, but being a bad mother is not something anyone can accuse her of. She loves Henry from the bottom of her heart, you know? And his absence is… kinda wearing on her a little. Everyone in town already gives her enough flack without trying to tarnish her motherly reputation too."
"Yeah, I get it," Emma murmured. "It was just a little surprising coming from you. Considering you're Snow White's best friend and all. I thought you'd jump at the chance to make me hate her some more or something."
Ruby shook her head and replied, "While I'm sure you'll find that Henry's definition of 'good' and 'evil' isn't what really happened on either side of the war, not all of the 'good' guys are so quick to proclaim how amazing they are. Some of us actually bother owning up to the bad things we did in the Enchanted Forest…"
Emma watched the waitress for a moment, her eyebrows scrunching skeptically. "Something tells me, someone needs to rewrite that book Henry has…"
Ruby snorted and shot her a look that plainly said, 'Ya think?'
The pair lapsed into companionable silence as Ruby went back to her job while Emma sipped her drink, thinking over Ruby's speech and behavior. Over with Regina and Henry, the little boy was enthusiastically explaining to his mother all of the wonderful things that happened over in the Charming loft. Regina listened with rapt attention, watching him with acute fascination. She was simply happy to have her son talking to her in any capacity and not spitting insults in her direction.
"And that's how we got rid of the mouse!" Henry declared, puffing his chest out proudly.
Regina giggled at the sight and at the embellished tale. "Well, I'm glad you could rid yourself of it, though I don't think I'd have minded keeping it in a cage."
Henry's eyes widened at that, his entire face lighting up in excitement. "I could've kept it as a pet?"
Regina pursed her lips a moment before saying, "We would have had to tame it first, but you're getting to an age where you might be able to handle a simple rodent."
"Cool!" Henry breathed. Regina's heart fluttered at the look on her son's face. "Maybe when I come by tomorrow we can go shopping and pick one out together!" Suddenly, his eyes darkened suspiciously and he asked, "You're not doing this to get me back on your side, are you?"
"Not really," Regina responded, though not entirely telling the truth. "I did see a show in which the students were allowed to take some kind of class pet home with them every once in a while. That's why I said rodent and not puppy."
"So… You're thinking of getting me a puppy?" Henry grinned.
"We'll think about it," the former mayor told him sternly, her lips twitching in a smile. "Maybe when you're a little older and can be trusted not to go running off all alone." Henry pouted at that and Regina chuckled softly.
As she was about to ask him about another subject she considered safe in order to dissuade him from possibly asking about her currently nonexistent redemption, Regina felt a pulse throughout her body. At Henry's stiffening, she knew he had felt it as well, and a brief glance around the diner proved they weren't the only ones. Standing quickly, Regina brought Henry close to her as she glanced around in confusion. Something had happened and she didn't know what; she hated not knowing what was going on in her town.
"What the hell was that?" Ruby muttered, feeling a strange prickling under her skin. It was as if there were tiny pins pressing just slightly at the surface of her flesh and she wasn't really familiar with the sensation.
"Not… sure…" Emma responded, also confused.
Granny strode from the back and growled, "Something just happened. My wolf is gone." Ruby's eyes widened and she understood the prickling sensation. Her wolf never felt like a prickle, it felt like an itch. This was different and definitely a bad sign. As if by reflex, all heads turned in the direction of the former mayor.
Regina rolled her eyes at the looks being cast at her and huffed, "Don't look at me! I've been here this entire time. Clearly, I couldn't have done this one."
"What if you've got a body double somewhere?" one of the dwarves—whichever one—piped up accusatorily. "You could have her doing something while you're here."
"Clearly someone doesn't understand how cloning magic works," Regina muttered with another roll of her eyes. "The short of it is that if I had a body double somewhere, one of two things would have happened. Either my emotions would be split and I would therefore not be able to concentrate on anything for longer than three minutes at a time or the amount of power needed to give both of us equal emotion would be a massive drain and Henry would have noticed if I was more tired than usual."
"You do seem a bit exhausted," someone else grumbled.
"She hasn't been sleeping, dimwit," Granny snapped. "She's looked a mess for days. Now that we've cleared up it wasn't Regina, we need to figure out who else could have done this. My wolf may be old, but it still takes time to control."
Thankfully, all were saved at that moment by Marco rushing through the door. "Mayor White has called a town meeting!" he called, catching everyone's attention. "Apparently something's happened with the magic in Storybrooke." As to be expected, he directed a glare to Regina. The former queen simply rolled her eyes once more and didn't even bother correcting him.
Instead, she drew herself up to her full height and turned to Henry, absently scratching her arm. "Come along, Henry," she said softly, holding out her hand. "Let's go make sure whatever this is doesn't have any negative effects on you." Her face darkened and she growled, "If it does, I may need to set the person responsible on fire." At her son's reproachful look, Regina sighed. "Or… I could simply inform them that they need to fix it immediately." Henry grinned and took her hand, the pair following everyone else to Town Hall.
Trouble in Storybrooke (what else is new). Time to see what's happening!
Remember, sneak peeks and update info can be found on my tumblr, gothalbinoangel-fanfiction! I just opened commissions!