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They are finishing dessert – a decadent-looking brownie and ice-cream concoction – when Snow says it.

“I don’t think you should go back to the mansion, Regina.”

Henry is in the bathroom – he drank at least six sodas at dinner and Emma didn’t say a word, something Regina will have to address later because, really, he’s still her son and that much sugar and caffeine is in no way suited to the health of a twelve-year-old – and Snow, Charming, and Emma are all looking at her expectantly.  

“Excuse me?” 

Emma jumps in. “Mary Margaret’s right. Zelena obviously has it in for you and, no offense, she kinda kicked your ass yesterday. Probably not a good idea to give her another opportunity to throw you through a building.” 

She isn’t used to this. People caring about her well-being. 

“I’m sure she won’t bother. I no longer possess what she is looking for.” 

“Yeah, yeah, yeah, don’t have your heart, whatever – we’re gonna have to talk about that later, Regina, because really? Random dude it the woods is probably not the best guard for something so important – but she can still find ways to hurt you.” 

She remembers Greg and Tamara and a dark room and so much pain. 

“Come back to the loft.” Charming looks at Snow when he makes the offer, and she nods. “You’ll be safe there.” 

She wants to snark back at him, tell him that she knows that because she was the one who cast the protection spell, but she can’t quite bring herself to do it. She blinks instead. 

“Regina, please.” Snow puts a hand on her shoulder, and Regina thinks that this is maybe the first time they’ve made physical contact without animosity, without hatred (hidden or overt), with anything resembling caring since the very beginning. 


It’s the only thing she can think of to say. 

“Because we’re family.” 

She looks around. David nods. Emma shrugs, as if to say Hey, we have a kid together, so… 

She smiles slowly. Even without her heart beating in her chest, she is flooded with warmth. 

“I suppose we are.” 

“Are what?”

And Henry is back from the bathroom and it’s back to code and inside remarks and “Hey, Henry, there’s another mailbox, think you can run over that one?”

Emma answers him. “We are ready to get outta here and go home. Regina’s gonna stay with us for a couple of days – her house is being fumigated. That okay with you, kid?” 

They all pour out of the booths and head toward the door, David hanging back to help Snow wiggle her way out. 

Henry looks at Regina and smiles. “Yeah, she’s cool. Better than you at video games.” 

“She’s better at video games, huh? 

“She can cast way more spells on the Harry Potter game than you can, Mom. And they’re way cooler, too.” 

“Regina is better at casting spells?” She grins cockily at Regina who rolls her eyes. 

“That’s what I just said. Pay attention.”

“Well, so what if she’s better at Harry Potter spells? I’m better than her at… Skype.” 

Regina tries not to laugh. “Shut up, Emma.”

Henry looks back and forth between them. “Are you guys talking in code? I’m twelve, I’m not stupid.”

Emma slings an arm around his shoulder, “Come on, kid. Let’s go home.” 

“Can I drive?”


(Later, when they’re home and he’s in the Iron Man pajamas that she bought him for his last birthday that don’t really fit anymore because he’s gotten so, so tall, he gives her a hug goodnight and she can feel her heart – wherever it is – explode). 

(Emma grins at her.)

(She has a family.)