Regina's dining room had never been so full. A small part of her smiled inwardly at the crowd gathered there. After years of holiday dinners attended by just Henry and herself, only two of the ten chairs had ever been frequently used. On some of those nights, as she'd clean the table after their meals, she'd send longing looks at the empty chairs. Wishes for a partner and siblings for Henry were her deepest secret, and on most days she didn't even let her daydreaming show what could be if things were different. If she was different. If her past was different.
But there were no place settings of china or silverware on the table this evening. Even most of the chairs had been pushed aside to create more standing room around the large table. For tonight was not a dinner of celebration or a holiday gathering with family. It was a night of planning and preparation for the destruction of the Wicked Witch.
'At least there is food', Regina begrudgingly thought as she placed a plate of snacks on the table, this time in front of the mound of volumes Belle had had her nose buried in going on five hours now. As the girl looked up, noticing Regina place the food down beside her, she sent a smile to the Queen, and a soft 'thank you' as she reached a hand out for the nourishment. Her eyes were once again to the lines in front of her in a matter of seconds, but Regina let a small smile escape in response.
"I still say we try a bucket of water," Emma spoke up above the scattered groups of conversations. The frustration was clear in her voice, as they'd been coming up with ideas and shutting them down just as quickly for the last few days.
The night Regina and Robin had shared their first true love's kiss in Storybrooke, they'd only partially broken the spell Zelena had placed on their memories when she'd sent them back to this world. If Regina's heart had been beating in her chest, as it should have been, their kiss would have cured them all of their missing memories. Aside from Robin and Roland, a few of the other towns people had also regained their memories from the kiss, almost half the population to be exact. Present today in her home; only Snow, Granny and a few of the Dwarves and Merry Men had their memories wholly intact.
Regina turned to the blonde with an eye roll, walking towards the other end of the table where Robin and all of the Charming's were bent over a scattering of papers. "This isn't a children's film, Ms. Swan. A bucket of H2O nor a fallen house will end this battle."
Emma groaned and dropped her head onto the wooden surface, "I know. We are just all out of ideas it seems."
Coming to stand in between Robin and the chair Snow was sitting in, Regina ignored her step daughter's wide grin as she watched Robin put an arm around Regina and place a quick kiss to her temple.
When they'd arrived home the night of their kiss, Roland asleep in Regina's arms, Snow and Charming were still in her study. At the sound of the front door opening and closing, David had run out, exclaiming a spell or curse had been placed on his wife, causing her to think her memories had been returned.
"Regina! Thank goodness you are back. Something is wrong with Snow."
Snow trailed into the foyer after her husband, stomping her feet after him and telling him that he was the crazy one and how there was nothing wrong with her. He turned back to her and they carried on for another minute or so until Snow finally noticed that it wasn't just Regina that had entered the home. With one look at the three of them, Roland asleep with his head tucked into her stepmother's shoulder and his arms looped around her neck, she burst into tears.
"You too?" she asked with hope, crying harder as Robin smiled in return. She rushed passed her husband and engulfed Robin in a close-as-can-be hug around her protruding belly. When they broke apart, Snow looked between the three of them and smiled even wider. "You kissed?"
"Yes we did, step step daughter," he replied and Snow laughed loudly at their inside joke. "She could never resist me."
"I'm so happy for you both."
"Well," Robin began, sharing a glance with Regina, his smile weakening slightly. "It is not quite our happy ending just yet."
"Yet," Regina emphases, but it did not reach her eyes, doubt still always lingering.
Snow frowned at their words, noticing the redness around Regina's eyes and her lack of smile. She put a comforting hand on the woman's arm and asked, "What's wrong?"
Robin opened his mouth, but had a hard time finding the right words to explain to Snow without upsetting his wife again. It had been a quiet journey home and he feared her lingering doubts would overcome her earlier conviction. David took the moment of silence to step forward and get their attention. "What exactly is going on? You remember as well?"
Regina stepped away from the group at his confused frown and Snow's worried expression, too overwhelmed all at once. "I'm going to put Roland down in Henry's room while you start explaining, Robin."
"I can help dear, if you'd like?"
"Dear?" David's frown managed to deepen.
They both ignored him. "I'm fine," she promised, and then added in a softer voice just for him, "I want to do this by myself." The 'because I can't remember doing it this last year' went unsaid.
He smiled sweetly back at her with understanding, "Take your time then."
"We were close to creating a spell to rid her of her powers in the Enchanted Forest," Snow spoke up, reminding her daughter of the memories they'd recounted to her. "If we did it once, we can do it again." She finished with a sharp nod of her head, sure her optimistic thinking was needed to keep the group going.
"We may need another solution," Regina thought out loud. "You said it yourself, Snow, Belle and I did most of the preparations for the spell, and unfortunately we both were not lucky enough to regain our lost memories."
"You will my love," Robin assured her, giving the arm around her a squeeze. "Which is why my men and I should try to retrieve your missing heart."
"Robin, no. We discussed this and-"
"We just need a diversion Regina," he assured, turning her body to face his fully. "If her and the Dark One are elsewhere distracted-"
"But that is how she and Gold stole Regina's heart in the first place," Emma jumped in, hair askew as she lifted her head from the table. "Won't she see that coming?"
"I don't think in the heat of the moment the Witch would notice myself, or a few of my men, missing."
"You don't think? That is not very reassuring, Robin."
"I agree with Regina," Snow added, looking up at the couple from her seat. "Because for Zelena to be that distracted, it would have to be Regina and I doing the distracting, and I am too close to my due date to risk it. I'm sorry."
"What about a summoning spell?" Granny asked. "For the Queen's heart?"
"The protection spells I have in place on my heart will not allow it I'm afraid."
"There must be another way to get your heart back?" David asked with a hopeful expression. "Your memories are the key to winning this battle."
"Let me just send a scouting party, my dear," Robin said. "Just to the perimeters of her dwelling."
"No, I forbid it."
"You forbid it?" At his dumbfounded and slightly offended expression, there were seconds of an awkward hush over the room before chaos ensued.
"It is a dangerous mission-"
"Perhaps a spell that would-"
"You can't just forbid me, Regina-"
"Does anyone read Woodland Elfish? I can't quite get this passage translated? Or is it Spanish?"
"It's not Spanish."
"Has anyone lost a small child?"
"Watch me, Locksley."
"You're a Locksley too now, apparently, so-"
"Stay out of this, Swan."
"Do you know how annoying it is when you use only my last name to reprimand me?"
"In case you didn't hear me the first time, I found this small boy on my journey here and I do believe he belongs to-"
"It looks like Spanish. Are you sure?"
"Then stop doing idiotic things, and you'll never hear your last name from my lips again, dearie."
"That might actually be worst when you use that tone."
"If you would just come look at this passage, I really think-"
"For the love of..."
"It is not Spanish!"
A shrill whistle cut through the tension of the main room's occupants. "As I was saying," Hook cleared his throat from the entrance of the dining room, "I believe some of you may be missing something." Beside him stood young Roland, cape around his shoulders and a toy wooden sword stuck into the belt slung over his Storybrooke jacket.
"Roland!" Robin exclaimed, he and Regina rounding the table at the sight of him and rushing towards the boy. "You are supposed to be with Tuck. You must stop running off. It is too dangerous right now, my boy. Please," Robin pleaded, lowering himself to one knee in front of his son.
"I'm sorry, Papa," Roland lowered his head at the scold. Then a whined, "But...I had to."
"Roland, are you alright?" Regina asked frantically, also coming down to the boys height. Running a hand over his head, brushing the hair on his forehead back and examining him for any scrapes or signs of injury. "Why did you run off from the Friar?"
"I had to complete my mission, Mama."
"Mission? What mission sweetie?" she asked softly, tucking strands of hair behind his ears.
"To get the mean man," he answered, a small hand going to the toy sword at his waist. "He stole from, Papa!" He began waving the sword around as if he were in a fight, "And I had'ta defeat him."
"Roland!" Regina gasped the same time as Robin spoke, "No, you didn't! The man from the woods, Roland?"
"Yes," he stuck out his chin. "He a bad man, Papa. You always stop bad men and me now, too. I big now. I'm five." Regina pulled him into her arms as the last of his words left his lips, falling back onto her behind at the weight of him. Happy that he was alive still and seemingly unharmed, but knowing how close she had been to losing another son left her emotionally shaky.
"What man?" Snow's voice now right behind them, as Roland returned Regina's hug and climbed further into her lap. "He doesn't mean Rumple?"
"I'm afraid he does," Robin answered in a solemn voice, looking at his son with wide eyes.
"Roland, what happened?" Emma asked from beside her mother.
"I followed the trail he left in the woods."
"But Roland, there was no trail," Robin interjected.
"There was, Papa! I found it today and I just knew I could track him like you would."
"What sort of trail, boy?" Hook asked with a frown.
"It was sorta shimmery," he responded after a moment of thought, turning in Regina's lap to face the group looking down at him. "And it went aaaaall through the woods and then to a house and it worked too 'cause I founded him."
"Gold was there?" David asked with large eyes, "Was the Wicked Witch?"
"Uh huh," he nodded his head in affirmation, Regina tightening her arms around him at that. "She was yelling at him."
"How did you get away?" Snow asked with a hand at her chest, the other squeezing onto Regina's shoulder in silent support.
"She didn't see me! I tucked below the window. I thought he mighta, but nothing happened and they left. And Mama," he turned his face up, looking at her above his head, "He was so silly! He left the door open a crack and everything!"
"Do you think Gold was trying to..." David started but paused as he looked down at Roland. Then he spelled out, "A-S-S-I-S-T?"
Regina kissed Roland's forehead, his gaze still upwards and looking at her proudly. "Yes," she replied to Charming. "He must have. That is the only explanation for the magic trail."
"Roland, the Witch didn't see you?" Robin scooted closer to the pair. "You're sure?"
"Yes, Papa," he shook his head rapidly up and down. "They didn't come back and I was quick."
"Quick with what, son?"
"Getting the treasure back! The treasure he stole from you, Papa." Robin's head jerked up toward Regina's and their eyes locked.
"Regina," he gasped out. "The imp only stole one thing from me that day in the woods."
Regina's breath stuttered out and she bent down over Roland's shoulder, making their eyes meet. "Did you find Papa's treasure?"
He looked down, away from the woman he cared so desperately for, and down to his hands with a pout, "No." It came out as a shameful whisper. "I looked exactly where Little John always says treasure is too, down low and up high. There was no down low rooms, but I went up high! I found a bunch of stuff but not Papa's treasure."
He pulled himself from Regina's lap with a wiggle and waked the two short steps to his father hesitantly. "I'm sorry, Papa."
"Oh, Roland," Robin sighed and pulled him into an embrace. "You have nothing to be sorry for!"
"But I couldn't find it! I tried to get it back," he cried into the embrace.
"No, it's alright. I'm just glad you're ok," he assured his son, rubbing at his back. "That was a very dangerous mission you went on," Robin pulled back and looked Roland in the eyes. "Too dangerous to do without backup. Promise me you won't go on a mission without me ever again, alright?"
"Alright, Papa," he promised, a small hand on his father's cheek. "I promise."
"I think I almost had it too," Roland sulked. "I found your satchel, Papa, but there was no treasure in it." He stood up from his father's embrace and fiddled with the belt around his waist. Turning it around on his small hips, slowly Robin's stolen satchel peeked out from under his long cape. Roland's little fingers quickly untied it from its secured position on his belt and handed it over to his father. "Just a squishy red rock. Can I keep it? It's warm. Wiggles too. I like it."
A hush fell over the room.
"No, you can't keep it," Robin smiled down into the bag. "Because it belongs to your, Mama." Robin looked up at his son with a wide smile, his hand pulling a warm beating heart into the air. "You did find the treasure, Roland."
Regina and Snow started crying instantaneously, Snow's sobs much louder than the quiet trail of tears that fell down Regina's cheeks.
Once Regina's heart was put back where it belonged, she and Robin shared a proper True Love's kiss. With Roland squished between them and giggling, they embraced and the force from their kiss washed through the room. From the power of it, all of the group staggered where they stood, empty chairs turned over, and the long elegant window curtains flapped in their place.
"Do it again!" Roland clapped with a laugh, his hair awry from the broken spell. "That was fun."
"I remember," David was mumbling over and over as he pulled his wife into an embrace.
"I know where the passage we need is!" Belle was practically jumping up and down. "We can complete the spell!"
The commotion around the couple was like white noise though. When Robin and Regina finally broke apart above their son, their love filled expressions could have melted the most frozen of hearts.
And then, with a smile, Regina whispered to Robin, "Hello, husband."
To recreate the spell they'd made back in the Enchanted Forest, Regina and Belle worked tirelessly through the night and the following day. The group had to nearly force feed them meals, but their pleads for the women to have any sort of rest fell on deaf ears. Robin stayed in the room, leaving it only to see to Roland. But even the boy enjoyed watching the Queen work and was too stubborn to leave. Both Hood males rarely left the room in fact, choosing instead to sit out of the way at the built-in window seat. Robin's gaze was especially protective as he watched with wonder as his wife worked at the complicated spell she was weaving into his arrow tips.
By the time Regina stepped away from the table, her body sagging with relief and a mumbled, "It is done", it was nearing the next morning. Roland was asleep next to his father, toy sword in his hands and cape placed over him as a makeshift blanket. He didn't stir as Robin stood from the cushioned bench, heading towards his wife with light steps.
They embraced and she used the last of her energy to throw her arms around his neck, Belle already asleep in one of the dining room chairs, as her role in the spell had finished hours ago. Robin easily scooped Regina into his arms and carried her over to Roland's sleeping form, lowering them to the empty spot above the boys head. He stirred then, but rolled to his knees and made room for his father's legs. Once Robin had Regina, already fast asleep, settled between his legs he beckoned for Roland and the boy moved forward.
Snow found the three of them in the same positions hours later, sun streaming onto their faces through the curtains behind them. Regina with Roland tucked into her waist, Robin's arms around them both.
Emma was hushed by her mother as she entered the room mid sentence. They both watched the three for a silent moment, Snow smiling in awe, before backing out of the room quietly and shutting the double doors behind them. The family's peace could last an hour longer, for today was the day. They'd all soon face off against the Wicked Witch one last time, and fears of any of their makeshift Charming-Hood-Swan family not making through it was worrying them all.
It nearly came to that hours later. The town was wrecked and their family was bleeding and barely standing at this point. It had taken time to lure Zelena to the cross walk that was booby trapped to act as a sort of quicksand. It was nothing elaborate. Nothing that would hold her for long. But it was enough of a distraction so that when Robin stood from his hiding spot, the broken window of the clock tower Regina had crashed through a week prior, the Witch didn't see his arrow fly towards her.
It was not a kill shot, he'd promised Regina that much, but as it pierced through the skin of her shoulder blade, Zelena screamed as if it were one. It was likely more the spell now poisoning her veins that caused the blood curdling cry, but he felt satisfied none the less.
Regina and Emma helped each other to their feet from their fallen place on the sidewalk, both bruised and battered. Zelena looked to her sister with a powerless rage, shouting "What have you done?" as the green of her skin started turning a sickly black.
Gold's dagger was lying on the ground between the Witch and the pair, and Emma lunged forward for it in case Zelena had any lingering magic and could summon it. Gold appeared in a cloud of magic the moment Emma stepped back beside Regina, his arms tightly around Belle.
"What have I done? I've taken your everything, sister," Regina hissed out. "Your power is gone. Your slaved master is free. And I have the one thing you never did and never will." She limped forward as Robin and the Charming's all gathered behind Regina. A united front.
"A family, bitch."
Zelena screamed in fury, hands clawing at her hair. Clumps of it came out with her rage, as the black of the spell darkened her eyes and began oozing out of her mouth.
"Stand back," Regina called to the crowd. After they'd complied, she raised her hands into the air and a strong purple wind started to circle around them. "Ready for your movie ending Ms. Swan?" she called over her shoulder, above the howling wind and with a sassy smirk.
"Huh?" the savior frowned with confusion, her parents crowed at her sides. They all followed Regina's head tilt as she turned to look at a side street that led to the outskirts of town. A tall thin tornado was racing down the center lines of the road, heading straight towards the struggling Witch. Peeking out from the swirling purple storm was a small white square.
Emma squinted into the distance and after a moment her eyes widened, before she smirked back to the Queen. "Do it."
Snow and Charming looked at their daughter with confusion, until Robin's curious voice sounded from beside them over the winds. "Is that a house?"
Charming looked to the storm with disbelief and Snow almost rolled her eyes at her step mother. "Regina, really?"
"Yes, really," she laughed and turned back to the street just as the storm entered the central portion of town. The group hesitated at the size of it and some thought of stepping further back out of harm's way and into safely, until they saw that the tornado was leaving no destruction in its wake. It passed through power cables, leaving them intact, and swerved around astray cars and heavy debris from the earlier battle. It was as if it had eyes only for the Witch struggling in the middle of its path.
Zelena was crawling backwards on her hands and behind, looking at the approaching tornado with horror. She turned to plead to her former master for aid, but seeing Rumple's proud gaze was glued to her younger sister's back, her eyes flashed with resentment.
"You can't kill me, sister!" Zelena screamed over the noise. "I am too powerful to die. I will come back. And I'll get you for this." A manic laughed echoed from her lips, "I'll get you my pretty-"
"Oh, shut up," Regina snarled and an extra spark of light flew out of her fingertips. The storm finally reached Zelena and her voice was swallowed up as the wind did the same to her. She disappeared from sight, only a purple gale where she'd once been. The storm dispersed into the sky as Regina lowered her hands, and a small white house lay in the middle of the road
A pair of jeweled slippers poking out from underneath the front step.
"And you made fun of my bucket of water comment," Emma laughed out, her hands brushing her windblown hair from her face. "Will you be getting a little dog and carrying him around in a hand basket?" she teased.
"No, but I can conjure up a hot air balloon if you'd like to go on a journey? Far. Away," Regina retorted, hands on her hips as she glared at the blonde.
"You're both children, I swear," Snow was shaking her head at the pair, but a smile was threatening to escape her lips, before she turned to David and they shared a celebratory kiss.
"I don't get these references," Robin frowned from the sidewalk.
"You will," Charming told him with a slap on the back and a laugh after he pulled away from Snow, "I have a feeling we'll need escapes from all the family dinners in our future. Us men have to stick together."
"Wait," Emma froze before she turned back to Regina with a smirk, "I just realized this makes you my Grandma doesn't it?"
"I will turn you into Toto you little-"
"It's alright, my love," Robin laughed, coming to her side and placing a kiss to her lips to silence her retort. "You'll be the most beautiful Grandmother in the town."
"Would you like to remain married, Locksley?" Regina almost growled at him, trying to squirm away as he snaked his arms around her waist.
"You're a Locksley too now," he smiled and kissed her again, this time on her cheek as she turned her head away from him.
But with one look at the loving gaze he had for her, any remaining frustration melted away. "You're right. I am."