“Emma, take the baby,” Regina orders, her tone every inch the fearsome queen as she impatiently holds out their nearly four-month-old daughter. Normally, Emma would jump at the chance to cradle and cuddle their little girl — and really, the way that Regina’s narrowed gaze is resolutely fixed on a particular point beyond Emma’s shoulder isn’t lessening the impulse — but she instead steels herself, defiantly crossing her arms over her chest. As angry as Regina may be, Emma trusts that having their daughter in her arms will prevent her from doing anything stupid.
“Regina,” Emma counters, trying and failing to match her fiancée’s imperial tone, “you’re being ridiculous.”
Regina’s eyes widen with outrage. “Excuse me?” She tucks Bianca, who has begun to fuss at all of the movement and noise, against her chest again, and Emma can’t help but feel a bit of an ache in her heart at the lost opportunity. After giving Henry up as a newborn and missing the first ten years of his life, she thinks sometimes that she’ll never be able to hold and kiss Bianca enough. “Were you not just paying attention? That... that wench just insulted me!”
All that Emma can do is let out a heavy sigh; she’d known from the moment that Henry made the suggestion that this would turn out disastrously. “She’s an actress, Regina. She’s just playing a part.”
“Then someone should go tell her that she’s got her lines wrong,” Regina snaps. Having failed to convince Emma of the righteousness of her crusade, she turns to her son, her expression softening as she does. “Henry, dear, could you please—”
“Mom, no. You promised that you weren’t going to do this. You promised that this week would be all about fun,” Henry says, his voice full of such a childish whine that all the adults around him practically expect him to stomp his foot in punctuation. Neither Emma nor Regina can quite miss the way that his voice cracks ever so slightly in the middle of his rant, though, and both women’s eyes soften for a moment as they realize that their little boy, already thirteen, is growing up far more quickly than either would like.
Regina is silent for a moment beneath her son’s withering glare, and for a moment, as she rubs soothing circles on Bianca’s back and kisses her on the top of her little sun hat, it seems as if she’ll finally back down. “Fine,” she says. “David—”
Before he even has a chance to react and fall in line with his daughter and grandson, Regina deposits the baby in his arms, leaving a surprised David with no other recourse but to take hold of her. He’s about to protest when Bianca stops fussing and snuggles contentedly against his chest, and after that, he's too busy dealing with his melting heart to worry about Regina’s rage.
“Mo-om,” Henry cries, and this time he actually does stomp his foot. “You said that we could go on Space Mountain first, before the lines got too long. You’re ruining everything.”
“Henry!” comes Emma’s sharp rebuke, but it’s too late; she can already see the hurt shining from Regina’s eyes.
Henry, for his part, immediately looks remorseful. “I’m sorry,” he whispers, slipping his hand into his mother’s with a gentle squeeze. “But if we don’t get there now, the lines are going to be really long, and everyone says it’s the best ride here.”
Regina appears somewhat mollified by Henry’s words, but Emma can tell that she’s not quite ready to surrender yet. “But,” she protests, pointing dramatically, “look at her.”
All heads turn in the direction indicated, their gazes falling upon the poor, unsuspecting Disney World cast member dressed as the Evil Queen. She chooses that moment to let out a deep, stereotypically evil laugh, blissfully unaware that her performance has drawn her the ire of the original star of the show. It’s a good thing that magic has been banished from this realm, Emma muses, because Regina looks so incensed that the poor girl would probably be engulfed in a ball of fire by now.
“Regina,” Emma warns yet again as she plants herself firmly between the two queens, “you knew when we bought the tickets that Disney has the story all wrong. You knew that there would be someone dressed up as the Evil Queen, and you said that you’d be able to deal with it.”
“She’s spreading lies about me, Emma,” Regina hisses. “As if anyone could have ever thought her prettier than me! And as if I would have ever gone to all of that trouble over appearances! It’s ludicrous.”
“Hey, at least they bothered to cast you,” David grumbles. “I’m half the love story, and I broke the sleeping curse, but did they even bother to hire anyone to play me? Now that’s ludicrous.” He frowns when none of the others respond; only Bianca indicates that she’s been listening by gurgling happily and making a vigorous attempt to grab her grandfather’s nose.
Emma sighs inwardly at her father’s brief tirade before redirecting her attention to Regina, whose eyes seem far too full of sadness for the topic at hand. “Since when have you cared about what people think of you?”
Regina recoils slightly, her gaze darting momentarily between Henry and Bianca before returning to her fiancée, and Emma finally understands. Henry gets it first, though, because he moves towards his mother before Emma can react and wraps his arms around her. “I know that’s not why you did it, Mom. We all do. You’re different now, and Bianca and I love you. You don’t have to worry anymore.”
Regina’s eyes shimmer with unshed tears as she stoops over to kiss the crown of Henry’s head. One arm slides securely around his back as the other reaches out to allow Bianca to cheerfully grab a finger with her chubby fist. The three remain that way for several long moments until Regina finally pulls away with a heavy exhalation. “Thank you,” she murmurs, stroking Henry’s cheek with her thumb.
Offering a soft smile, Emma asks, “Better now?” Her fingers twine with Regina’s as her smile is slowly returned. Regina nods, then suddenly stops, gripping Emma’s hand tightly.
“No!” Regina exclaims. “There’s still one more thing.”
Emma’s fingers discretely find their way to her temple. “What?”
“Never, in all of my years as queen, did I ever wear anything as hideous as that,” Regina insists, jerking her head towards the costumed employee. “You know that too, right?”
She can’t help it; Emma bursts out laughing right there, in the middle of Disney World with her family full of fairytale characters. “Of course.” Emma pulls Regina into her arms, in part because she can think of no other way to publicly express how much she loves this woman, but also because she doesn’t want Regina to see the incredulous expression on her father’s face (or the way he’s emphatically mouthing not true). “I know that you’d never hide your hair, especially not with that weird... head thing she’s wearing.”
“Good.” Regina presses a quick kiss to Emma’s lips before grabbing Henry’s hand. “All right, let’s find this Space Mountain thing.”
Henry lets out a small whoop of glee as he grabs both his mothers’ hands. “Come on, let’s go!”
“Wait a minute,” David says suddenly, his words bringing Henry to a halt. “Where’s Snow?”
Frowning at the sudden realization, the four whirl around, craning their necks for some sign of Snow’s dark pixie cut. Emma wonders how long her mother has been missing; she was ranting about Cinderella’s castle (it looks nothing like Thomas and Ella’s, apparently) just before Regina went off on the Evil Queen. She’s about to start pushing her way through the crowds when Regina laughs heartily, one finger extended in explanation.
There, several yards to their right, is Emma’s supernaturally young mother, caught in a heated argument with the bewildered Disney employee playing Snow White.
Regina takes Bianca back with a smirk, watching with amusement as David makes his way over to his wife. “See, Emma? I told you I wouldn’t be the problem here.”