Henry waits for Regina to reach the kitchen before he turns to his mom.
"You two were together, weren't you?" he asks.
She stills for a second, looking shocked and slightly flustered, and he knows that he's got it all figured out. He loves drawing the lines together, coming to conclusions about the questions he has, and this is one that has been puzzling him ever since his mom first introduced him to Regina.
She looks at him. "What makes you think that?"
"I'm not blind, you know; I've seen the way you look at each other. It's kind of gross." he tells her, and then after a moment he adds, "Am I right?"
"I-" she starts, opening and closing her mouth.
He can hear Regina doing something with the oven, and even though Henry's positive he already knows the answer, he still wants to find out before she comes back in. It's become more and more obvious to him over the last few days, but the way that his mom and Regina have kept smiling stupidly at each other over the table during dinner has been enough to solidify his beliefs. His mom still looks surprised by his question, like she doesn't know quite what to tell him or how to do it.
"Yeah, you're right, kid. I'm sorry I didn't tell you about it before," she says eventually.
Henry grins up at her. "It's okay."
"Hi, Regina!" he says, sliding into the seat opposite her.
Regina gives him a ridiculously warm smile. "Hello, Henry."
Henry glances over to where his mom is, ordering pancakes, to check that she's still there before he turns back towards Regina.
"Thanks for the food yesterday, it was great," he starts.
"You're very welcome," Regina says, taking a sip of her drink.
She sets it down and Henry decides that it's pretty much now or never.
"So, my mom told me that you two used to date back when you were both younger."
Regina looks like she's about to spit her drink out before she manages to swallow it back down, and she coughs slightly (but somehow manages to still keep it polite) before she speaks.
"It's okay, you know. I don't mind," he reassures her.
Regina looks at him with wide eyes.
"But I don't – your mother and I... we were never," she splutters, not quite getting her words out, and Henry is feeling suitably confused.
"So my mom lied to me then? That doesn't make any sense."
Regina purses her lips, and it's almost as if she looks like she's feeling guilty of something.
"No – she – of course not." she tells him, finally settling on her words. She hesitates for a second before saying, "It's true."
Henry beams at her. With his mom admitting it and now Regina, it's made the proof of his theory even stronger.
"Tell me about you two," he begs.
Regina freezes again. He keeps forgetting she's only supposed to be the mayor to him, but if she'd known him as a baby... Ever since he got to Storybrooke everything's felt like walking through one massive deja vu.
"Why?" she asks curiously.
Henry shrugs. "I care about my mom, and she's never told me much about who she's dated. Were you two happy together?"
Regina smiles softly. She hasn't touched her drink for a little while, and Henry thinks she may have drifted off into space or something before she blinks like she's remembering where she is again and starts talking.
"Not at first. We hated each other when we met; always at each others' throats." She laughs, and then she's silent again for a moment. Henry figures she's trying to work out what she wants to say. "You were just a baby then, and I adored you. I think that eventually I realised I'd fallen in love with your mother too."
Regina swallows. Henry can't tell whether she looks uncomfortable, guilty, or sad. After a couple of seconds, he decides on the latter.
"What happened, then? If you two were so great together?" he asks.
She smiles again, but this time she looks a little bit like she's trying hard not to cry. "I wanted to give you both your best chance."
Henry knows he's not going to be able to push it any further.
Henry is thinking of the way that Regina's expression seems to fall every time his mom is talking to Hook when his mom is dropping him off at Mary Margaret's for what seems to be the fortieth time (and he swears he isn't even exaggerating those numbers). He's just unbuckled his seat belt and he's about to get out of the car when he pauses for a second.
"Mom, do you like Hook?" he asks.
"Hook?" his mom questions, like that's the most ridiculous thing anyone's ever asked her. "As much as he likes to think so, I'm not interested."
He's pretty sure the corner of his mouth has quirked up into a smile, because his mom is looking at him like she knows there's something going on in his head.
He decides to just go with it anyway. "Is it because you still have feelings for Regina?"
Her eyes widen comically. Her reaction makes it seem like the question is worse for than the one he'd asked about them dating in the first place.
"What? No. No – we- that's all in the past now. She still wants to get to know you again, that's all."
He doesn't believe her for one second, but he nods slowly in a way that he's sure is totally convincing to indulge her, and his mom fixes him that same look again like she's warning him to stop thinking. Henry knows he needs to get out of there fast.
"I'll see you later okay, mom?" he says, opening the door and hopping out.
"Bye, kid." she calls out of the window, and Henry sees her shaking her head as she pulls away.
It's Regina's turn to babysit him today, and they've been taking a walk in the park together. So far Henry's been asking her only the completely innocent questions, but they're now sitting on a bench to eat ice cream, and he figures it's time to work out where she stands.
"My mom got almost got engaged back in New York," Henry says, and he does it in such a casual way that he feels quietly proud of himself.
"I-" Regina stops, and she's probably just thought better of what she was about to say to him. "Really?" she asks him, after a moment.
"His name was Walsh." He supplies helpfully.
"And this Walsh," she says, and Henry's sure that he can detect a hint of bitterness in her voice, "did he make your mother happy?"
He licks his ice cream. "I think so," Regina looks downcast. "But when he proposed to her she said no, and pretty much straight after we came here to Storybrooke. She says it's for a case, but I know that's not the whole truth. I keep wondering what else she's not telling me."
He looks at her expectantly, and it seems to take her a couple of seconds to realise that he's directing the question at her.
"I'm not really the person you should be asking about this." she says, and Henry thinks she might tell him something more, but she stays silent instead.
He's about to open his mouth to ask her another question, but Regina beats him to it.
"Your mother's now here, look," she says, directing his sight to a figure coming towards them from across the grass.
Regina smiles as his mom comes into view and the look on her face is so fond that Henry has to try really hard not to throw up. He doesn't even think she knows that she's doing it, and when his mom does the exact same thing in return, he groans and feels like burying his head in his half eaten cone.
"Thanks for letting me spend some time with him," Regina says to his mom, and they're both doing that smiling thing again that's really gross.
"Thanks for looking after the kid," his mom replies, laughing.
She steps closer and then moves to sit down next to Regina on the bench while Henry finishes off his ice cream and pretends he isn't at all looking at either of them.
His mom touches Regina's arm and then she murmurs something in her ear that Henry can't quite make out. Regina looks surprised, but then her face softens and she nods.
"I'm fine," she says, and it's loud enough for Henry to hear even though they're both angled away from him, and facing into each other instead.
He promises himself he isn't distorting what he's seeing to suit his purposes or whatever, they really do care about each other, and it's enough to make him feel a little sick. (It's not nearly bad as the way Mary Margaret and David act around each other, though, and he finds himself really, really grateful for that). Henry figures that if they won't admit their feelings, or they don't even realise them, then it's up to him to work on an operation to sort the whole mess out.
Henry asks Mary Margaret if she can tell him anything about when his mom and Regina were dating and she starts violently choking on her biscuit. Henry stands there mildly alarmed by her reaction as David rushes to her side to make sure she's okay. After she's stopped and she's just a little red in the face, he decides it's probably for the best if he doesn't try to ask her again.
The next person he attempts to ask is Ruby. She works at Granny's which seems to be a pretty popular place for the locals to go, so Henry reckons she's picked up a lot of gossip over the years. His mom is over at another table talking to an old friend with yet another frankly ridiculous name, so he takes the opportunity to go and talk to the waitress under the pretence of buying something to drink. He tells her what he wants (and it still weirds him out that she somehow knew he likes cinnamon, but maybe it's only because it's what his mom always used to order) and sits down to wait.
When she gives it to him he drinks half of it in one quick gulp. "Ruby?"
"What's up, Henry?" she asks, pausing what she's doing to look at him.
He pauses for a second, realising he hasn't actually thought about what he wants to ask. "You know when my mom and Regina were dating? What- like, what were they like?"
She looks a mixture of confused and surprised for about a millisecond before a grin breaks out on her face.
"When they first met they acted like they hated each other's guts, but half the town were placing bets on who was going to confess and when it would happen," Ruby says, and she chuckles like there's more to the joke than he understands. "Really, we all knew it was only a matter of time before one of them snapped, I mean they had a whole lot of unresolved se- uh, unresolved tension between them for one thing. When they finally decided to stop being stupid about the whole thing you guys made the best family together."
Henry's silent for a moment, thinking again.
"Hang on, did you make bet?" he asks.
Ruby laughs again, and her smiling mouth somehow reminds Henry of something a little bit wild. "Of course I did! Any other burning questions you have to ask me?"
Henry blurts out the words seemingly all at once. "What happened? Why did mom and me leave town if her and Regina were so in love with each other?"
He can see the hesitation in her face, and he knows she won't tell him everything but he's at least hoping for something, because he can't understand why anyone would want to leave such a good life behind and he's desperate just to try and figure it all out.
"Neither of them wanted things to turn out like that, Henry. I can't tell you what it was, but something happened and Regina had to give you both up to protect you and your mom - to give you your best chance."
Best chance. It's what Regina told him the other day, and now that he's been told it again he understands the meaning behind it far more strongly. His mom and Regina were separated still loving each other, because they loved each other.
He finishes his drink and then leans in closer across the counter, hoping he appears conspiratorial.
"How would you feel about joining me in an important secret operation?" he asks.
Ruby pretends to be thinking about it for a moment. "I don't know, what've I got to do?"
"First off, spread the word that people'll want to start making their bets again."
Ruby plays along like she hasn't already guessed what he's planning. "Yeah? Why would that be, then?"
Henry grins at her. "I'm gonna get my mom and Regina back together again."
Henry mentions in passing to his mom that he thinks they should have dinner with Regina again. She can barely cook anything past toast, so he casually suggests (and it really is becoming an art, now, how he does it) they go out to eat instead, and he's gotten so good that the conversation ends and he's pretty sure she's left believing it was her idea all along. He's arranged with Ruby for them to be eating outside where Henry guesses it'll be a lot quieter and more romantic for them (or whatever, he's not pretending to be an actual expert on how the whole love thing actually works). His only problem is that it's happening in a little under an hour and he has absolutely no clue how to convince his mom that he can't come, and that they should just go without him.
He's thought about telling her that he feels ill, but he knows she'll just see straight through it before the words even come out of his mouth. His mom is like a human lie detector test, and all he's coming up with is blanks when he tries to think of any excuse he can give that's even a half truth. Giving up and just going with them isn't even an option because Ruby's promised him she's going to make it as much like a date as possible, and Henry doesn't even want to imagine how awkward it'll be if he's there too and it's all just ruined. He's also a little scared Ruby will kill him if she doesn't get what she wants, and Henry really doesn't want to let himself down either. The words think of something, think of something, think of something, think of something repeat themselves over and over in his head and he's pretty sure he's only going to get a headache just from thinking too hard any second s-
He has a headache.
Henry makes a disgruntled noise and falls back onto his bed as he rubs a hand across his head like it'll somehow magically relieve the pain. He feels pretty useless after he's put so much work into organising everything only for it to all fall apart because he can't think of something, and just as he's whispered the word shit to himself about ten times in increasing volume and tone his mom appears in the doorway.
"Hey, are you alright kid?" she asks.
He rolls over to face her, looking at her blearily. "What?"
His mom tilts her head, studying him. "You don't look so good. You feeling okay?"
It takes Henry a couple of seconds before it dawns on him, and he doesn't know by what coincidence this has happened or if it's some sort of small miracle, but he'll take whatever he can get. Sure, it's just his head that hurts and only a little, but those are all just details.
"No, I-" he says weakly, and stops for a long pause. "I think I might have to stay home, sorry mom. Go without me, I'll be fine here."
"If you're sure," she says slowly.
"Yeah, of course. I don't wanna ruin everyone else's fun too, c'mon."
She laughs. "Okay, I'll call Mary Margaret then."
Henry's having breakfast at Granny's as usual and his mom's just gone to talk to David about a couple of things when Ruby comes over to him.
"So?" he asks as he tries (and probably fails) to hide the excitement in his voice. "How did it go?"
Ruby grins and looks over behind the counter first before she sits down opposite him, his mom's half eaten plate of pancakes in front of her.
"They were both awkward with each other at first, but I'm guessing it was only because it was the first time they'd had a meal alone with each other," she pauses, and then like she's just remembered something she quickly adds, "since they broke up, that is."
Henry's eager to find out more, to find out whether what he's done has changed anything or not. "And then?"
"They both warmed up after a little while. Obviously I couldn't hang around the whole time otherwise they would've thought I was spying on them-"
"Which is exactly what you were doing," Henry interrupts her, laughing.
She rolls her eyes at him in a way that comes off as affectionate. "I know that. I didn't want them to know that. Anyway, I didn't catch everything that happened but they talked about you at first, and then that, uh, case your mom's been working on. But, it didn't take long before they were talking about each other and doing the whole smiling and staring thing across the table without realising it. I think they definitely flirted with each other. At least a little bit."
Henry quickly looks around to see if his mom's coming back yet. When he spots her, it looks like her and David are almost done talking.
"So it was a success?" he asks, and he's really really happy the whole thing has seemed to have achieved something.
"You got it! Now give me a high five," she says.
Regina's taken his mom up to her office to talk about something to do with the case she's working on. Henry's not really sure if he believes that's what they're doing, but they've been talking for what he figures has to have been at least a couple of hours by now, and he's starting to get bored of just watching Doctor Who reruns on TV all by himself. (He thinks he's probably seen this episode with the kid in the gas mask at least five times before already). Deciding it's worth it to go and ask how much longer they're actually going to be, he gets up and makes his way to the stairs to start trudging up. Henry can hear their voices as he gets nearer, but all of a sudden the talking stops and he hears something that sounds a lot like a crash and his mom hissing the word 'fuck'.
When he gets to the door, they're kissing.
He wants to look away because, gross, it's his mom, but at the same time he's actually gone and done it; they've realised they both still have feelings for each other and they've stopped being idiots about it. It's all thanks to him of course, and Henry can't help but feel slightly, ridiculously proud for it. One of them moans (he isn't sure which, and it really doesn't matter), and his previous feelings all no longer matter anymore because, again, gross. He coughs as loudly and as pointedly as he can and they spring apart, looking flustered and guilty. Weirdly enough, though, they don't seem to be surprised to find that he's been standing there.
"Henry," Regina says, a little out of breathe still. "Your mother and I were just-"
Henry cuts her off midway, grinning. "Making out, yeah. I kind of gathered."
"We're sorry you saw that, kid. We just got a little..." his mother trails off.
"Distracted," Regina supplies helpfully.
Their words come out sounding sort of false and exaggerated, but Henry knows better so he dismisses the thought as quickly as it'd come.
"What were you guys doing then?" he asks.
Regina shifts a little like she's trying to hide something from his line of sight, but he knows that idea is just as stupid as the last one he'd just had cross his mind.
"she's telling me everything she knows that might help with the case. D'you mind waiting downstairs for a little while longer, kid? We'll be done soon" his mom says.
"Okay," he says with a wide smile on his face. "And by the way? I'm happy you two are back together again."
They're getting up to leave the diner and Henry sees his mom lock her fingers with Regina's, who looks down at their held hands like she's a little bit shocked. Then his mom smiles at her warmly and it's like all of her shock has been melted under that one smile. Regina tightens the grip as the murmurs in the room start to build up in volume, and Henry catches the grin that Ruby flashes him from across the room - which is probably in part to the $50 she's just made from her bet.
The three of them all go to the park together and Henry begs them for stories of when he was a baby. Their smiles look a lot less like they're supposed to be small and secret and although they both insist they can't remember much they manage to tell him a lot about what their family was like (because he knows that's what it was, what it's going to be again - the three of them together, a family.)
Mary Margaret and David walk into the diner Tuesday morning and Henry figures it must be a coincidence that Regina chooses that moment to lean forward and swipe her thumb across his mom's lip, the words 'you still had cocoa there, dear' sounding stupidly affectionate. When he glances over to where Mary Margaret has stopped in the doorway, Henry finds that she's staring at them, and looks like she's probably very close to having a small heart attack.
When his mom comes to pick him up Regina kisses her cheek as she says goodbye to her, and Henry's pretty sure his mom is blushing. He's also pretty sure he sees her checking out of the corner of her eye to make sure he's watching, but he's more sure of the fact that it's a pretty stupid thing for him to think.
Henry doesn't think the news of the relationship has gotten round to Hook yet, seeing as he lives so apart from everyone else, alone on his boat, so when he sees them from across the street Henry has to try really hard not to laugh at how wide his eyes have gone. His mom, on the other hand has no shame, and just laughs, and then laughs even harder as she pulls an arm around Regina's waist to bring her closer.
Henry's sleeping at Regina's tonight. Apparently his mom is going on another stakeout, and he would've had to go to Mary Margaret's again if he hadn't insisted that he knows Regina much better than he knows her and David. He's been sent upstairs by his mom to put his stuff in one of the guest bedrooms while she talks to Regina, but it doesn't take him very long and when he comes out of the room again to start walking back to the stairs he hears his name being said. He stops dead in his tracks, trying to be silent so he can hear what they're saying. It's probably his mom telling Regina not to forget when his bedtime is and how much TV he's allowed to watch, but the way it'd been said had sounded more serious than that.
"What do you mean, how are we going to tell Henry?" his mom asks. "We're not."
Henry hears one of them moving and holds his breath. The noise stops and he breathes again, wondering what they could possibly be hiding from him.
"Don't you think he has a right to know? He hates being lied to, Emma. When all of this is sorted out, when-" Regina says, and he can't quite make out the next part.
"He's going to hate me." she finishes.
His mom sighs. Henry knows that sigh, and all of a sudden he's reminded of the fact that eavesdropping is supposed to be wrong. This concerns him, though, it's important, so he thinks he should be able to let it slide just this one time.
"I know that this must be hard on you. I'm sure you hate having to pretend about all of this, especially when it's with me, right? But if we tell him the truth now then he's gonna have more questions. He'll hate us even more if he knows now when we can't tell him why rather than finding out when we have a real explanation for him. You deserve this too, Regina. You should get to be his mother just as much as I do, and this works, doesn't it?" she asks, her tone soft.
"I- it's not you," Regina says with an honesty that Henry thinks she seems surprised at. "We're- this is okay. I'm just worried."
Henry is incredibly confused. He still has no idea what they're talking about.
"Seriously? You're saying you're actually okay with this present tense, just not future?" she pauses. "I'm sorry - about last week, I mean. I should've asked you first but there wasn't any time and-"
"I know. We needed a distraction. It's fine, Emma. It was actually-" and this time it's Regina's turn to cut off mid sentence.
She's completely silent for a few long seconds.
"What? It was what?" his mom asks.
"Forget it. Don't you have a stakeout to go to, Miss Swan?"
"Yeah, I better go," she says.
Henry mutters shit under his breath and runs for the stairs.
For some reason his mom and Regina seem to be getting more tense with each other, like their actions are getting more forced. His mom goes to hold Regina's hand but hers flinches, and then when they do come into contact, Regina is ever so slightly rigid. His mom calls Regina dear but she says the word like she's spitting it out. They're not smiling at each other as much anymore. All of these things are subtle and small compared to the bigger picture, but Henry, of course, is appropriately worried.
He comes out of his room with an armful of DVDs and he's trying really hard not to drop any when he hears his name being mentioned. It's sort of ridiculous, the way this is happening again, and he wonders why they need to have so many conversations about him without feeling the need to tell him what on earth's going on. They're having a movie night, and his mom was supposed to be setting up the TV while Regina did popcorn, but apparently they've decided they'd rather be talking instead. He remembers for a moment that he shouldn't be eavesdropping, but the same thought had done nothing to deter him the last time, so he stops walking to listen anyway.
"I mean, what the hell is your problem, Regina?" his mom asks, her voice filled with anger. "You told me you didn't mind, didn't you? And even if you did, why would you want to fuck it all up now when we've already established what the consequences are gonna be?"
The room is silent, and Henry is painfully aware of his own breathing.
"Say something. I don't care how you feel, we've got to keep this up. I know this is all my fault, okay? Curse me however much you want when all of this is over, but there's no way of getting out of this now. We have to pretend, no matter how much you might-"
"I told you, Emma, I don't- I didn't have a problem with it."
"Then what now? What's changed?"
"This isn't the time to be having this conversation," Regina says, sounding desperate, "Henry could come back any second."
"Please just tell me, Regina. I want to know what's going wrong."
The room falls silent once again, with a heaviness that's near suffocating.
"I- you." Regina tells her, and she sounds so nervous, so sincere Henry thinks there's something bigger going on than what he's even been trying to understand.
"Me? Me what?" his mom asks, and then she doesn't get to say anything else because Regina is kissing her and then she's kissing her back.
"Oh. Oh." his mom says, almost a whisper.
Henry doesn't know what revelation has just been made. He still doesn't know what they'd been arguing about, or how it involves him and whatever secrets they're keeping from him. He's just as confused as he's been from the start, but he knows none of that matters to him anymore - he's sure they're doing it for a reason, for an important reason, and he knows they're going to tell him eventually. Kind of most importantly, Henry's just happy they're not fighting anymore. He walks into the room grinning, and doesn't even groan in disgust when he sees that they're still kissing each other, because they both look like they've discovered the best thing in the world in each other.
He gets his memories back, and pretty much the first thing Henry remembers is that Regina is his mom. For a second after, everything else stops.
Regina is his mom.
Which means, wait, her and his other mom (bio mom? He doesn't even know how to think about all of this. What did he call them before? Shouldn't they have different names?) - which means, wait, Regina and Emma never knew each other when he was a baby. They were never dating. He looks at them and for a moment the accusing words 'you both lied to me' are on the tip of his tongue, but he swallows them down and then with a very sudden clarity, everything falls into place. The conversations he'd overheard make sense now, a lot of things make sense now, and he feels a little stupid for not getting any of what was going on before (this doesn't last very long, because he quickly reminds himself he had no idea that magic even existed or what both his mom's real histories were before). Okay, he acknowledges, they'd lied to him about being in a relationship before, and, okay, they'd then pretended to be in a relationship after that, but Henry isn't childish enough to pretend he doesn't know why they did it, why they thought it was the best thing to do.
Henry looks at Regina and beams.
"Mom," he says, and he rushes at her to pull her into a hug.
(If all of them are crying at least a little bit, Henry doesn't think it matters; they're finally, properly, the family they've always been meant to be).