Henry stared at the pages of his comic book in a daze, his mind processing what his mother had said. He felt her shift beside him on the couch when he had been silent for a full minute. He closed the comic, set it on the coffee table, and turned to face her. “Did you just ask my permission to date Emma?”
"Yes," Regina said. She frowned slightly. "I know how you feel about me. Despite what you think, I don't want to hurt you. I'm afraid that you might feel hurt if I were to date Emma without asking you."
Henry dropped his gaze to his hands. Was he okay with this? He wasn't sure. His mother was the Evil Queen, and this could all be part of her plan to drive Emma out of Storybrooke. But maybe Emma could redeem her.
Shaking his head, he decided it was too great a risk. "No. I don't want her to get hurt."
"I don't want to hurt her. I know you think this is some kind of plot, but I assure you, it's not."
"Of course it is. You're the Evil Queen." He didn't look at her so he wouldn't have to see whatever fake expression of hurt she had decided on.
"Okay, Henry." Regina kissed the top of his head and stood up. "I'm going to go make dinner."
One month later, Henry reconsidered his decision. Regina hadn't asked again for permission to date Emma and she hadn't made any kind of move. While Henry carefully scrutinized every interaction he saw between them, he noticed that Regina and Emma didn’t argue as much anymore. When had that happened? Shaking his head, he decided it didn't matter.
"Mom," he said over dinner one night, "I changed my mind. You can date Emma if you want. But if you want her to agree to date you, you're going to have to make up for a lot of stuff. Do you have a plan?"
From the way she frowned, he figured she hadn't thought much about it.
“We have a much more civil relationship,” Regina said. “We are on far better terms.”
“Okay, yeah,” Henry said, shrugging, “but that might not be enough. She might not forgive you.” He frowned. “Why were you so mean to her anyway?”
Regina gave him a tight smile. “Maybe someday, when you have your own children, you’ll understand why I reacted so poorly to Emma’s presence.” She reached over the table and cupped his cheek. Her thumb brushed gently over his skin. “But until then, I don’t think you’ll be able to fully understand the terror of possibly losing your child.”
He had the urge to apologize then for bring Emma to Storybrooke, but the words stuck in his throat. He had nothing to apologize for; he had done the right thing, after all. The curse had to be broken, and everyone’s memories restored. But perhaps, he thought for the first time, it didn’t have to happen at the expense of his mother.
“Hey, Emma,” Henry said, kicking his feet back and forth while he sat in a chair in the police station, “do you like girls?”
Emma looked up from her paperwork. “Do I like girls? How do you mean?”
“I mean, would you date one?”
Emma’s eyebrows rose. “Um, why do you ask?”
Henry shrugged. “I dunno. Just curious, I guess. It’s not like it’s a bad thing. Is it?”
Emma shook her head. “No, kid. It’s not a bad thing for a woman to date other woman. Or for guys to date other guys.” Her hand disappeared behind the desk, and Henry figured she was touching the badge on her belt; it was a nervous habit, a vague hint as to what she was thinking. “Do you...” She cleared her throat. “Do you think you might be gay?”
Henry blinked, dazed, then said, “No. I was curious what you thought about being gay.”
“Well,” Emma said, hunching over her desk slightly, “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. In fact...” She took a deep breath. “I’m gay.”
Henry suppressed a grin. Awesome. He knew Regina would know this already, but verifying it for himself was just something he had to do. “So...do you have a type? Would you date Ruby?” He kept his voice light.
Emma shrugged. “Ruby’s pretty.”
Brunette, brown eyes: just like Regina. As casually as possible, he said, “So you like girls with brown hair and eyes?”
He scrunched up his face for a moment like he was thinking hard about something. “So would you date my mom?”
Emma stared. “I don’t think that’s going to happen, kid.”
“But if she asked you out on a date would you go?”
She shook her head. “Your mom hates me. She’s not going to ask me out. Besides, is your mom even gay?”
“I don’t know,” he said thoughtfully. “She was in love with a guy a long time ago in the Enchanted Forest, but she likes women too.” He tapped his fingers on his knee. “I don’t know.”
Emma watched him with an expression that Henry couldn’t quite place. She turned back to her paperwork. “Anyway, don’t you have an appointment with Archie soon?”
Reluctantly, Henry picked up his backpack and left. But, he noted with a grin, she hadn’t said no to his question.
Henry watched Regina finishing up some paperwork. It was Wednesday; she always went to the cemetery on Wednesday, usually alone, but today Henry had decided he would join her. He wondered if he should tell her about the conversation he had with Emma a few days ago.
“I asked Emma if she was gay,” he said. Regina’s head snapped up to look at him with an eyebrow raised. “She said she was.”
“I see,” she said. “I’m surprised she told you. She’s a very private person.”
“It didn’t seem like that big of a deal to me. Who cares?”
Regina smiled sadly. “I lot of people, unfortunately.” She jotted something down on the papers in front of her, stacked them neatly, and set them off to the side. “Are you ready to go?”
“Yeah.” He slid off the couch. Sliding on his backpack, he waited for her to gather her purse and lock some drawers. They stopped for dinner at Granny’s; they didn’t speak much while they were there, but Henry told her a bit about school which he had stopped doing. From the small smile on her face, he figured it made her happy to hear about those things.
It was dark when they reached the cemetery. Regina clutched Henry’s hand, only letting go when they reached the mausoleum. The doors opened with a creaking groan. The inside was dusty and dim and bare. It sent shivers up Henry’s spine. He pressed himself against Regina’s side. She squeezed his shoulder.
“You can wait outside, Henry.”
He shook his head. “I want to stay.” He thought he saw her eyes glimmer.
Then she leaned over the stone coffin, placed her hands on the cool surface and said, “Hello, Daddy.”
The next morning, Henry ate his pancakes thoughtfully, trying hard not to think about the way his mother’s eyes had shone with tears the night before. “You know...” She shot him a look, and he swallowed his mouthful of pancake. “Maybe you could give Emma chocolates. I’m sure she’d like it. Then ask her out.”
“Just ask her out?” Regina cocked an eyebrow. “Just like that?”
“Just like that,” Henry said. “It seems like a good idea to me.” He smirked. “Unless you’re scared.”
Regina smirked back. “The direct approach it is then.”
“Did you ask her out?” Henry raced down the stairs, jumping the last three steps. Before Regina could reprimand him, he bounced on the balls of his feet. “What did she say?”
Regina smiled, ruffling his hair. “She said yes. We’re going to go to dinner tomorrow night. I’ve already gotten you a babysitter.”
Henry groaned. “I don’t need a babysitter!”
“Yes, well, that’s what you think.” She placed her hands on his shoulders, turned him around and pushed him toward the stairs. “Now, clean your room while I make dinner. And don’t shove everything into the closet. I’ll be checking that.”
“ Mom ,” he whined.
“Go, Henry,” she said, her voice lighter than he remembered it in years.
Henry sat at the bottom of the stairs, tapping his feet. The babysitter sat in the living room, flipping through the channels. She would probably be in trouble when his mom came back and found out he wasn't in bed, but the worst his mom would do would be to never hire her again (he didn't like her anyway), and he wanted to know how her date with Emma went. He hadn't been able to sleep for the past hour.
He checked his watch. It was eleven thirty. Regina should be back soon.
The door opened, and Regina stepped inside. She smiled when she saw him.
“How was your dinner?” he asked, leaning forward.
“It was excellent.” Regina ruffled his hair. She seemed willing to overlook the fact he wasn't in bed yet. “We're going to set up another date soon. Now, you should be in bed. Go.” She nudged him up the stairs.
He climbed a few stairs so that he was eye level with his mother, and he threw his arms around her neck. “I love you, Mom. I'm really glad you're happy.”
She held him tight. “Thank you, Henry. I love you too. Now go to bed.”