"Good morning Henry," Ruby chirped as the eleven-year-old walked through the door of the diner. "It's been a while since we've seen you on a Wednesday. Is Emma coming too?"

Henry turned a sheepish smile on her. "She said if I wanted a hot breakfast Granny would have to cook it for me. She said to put it on her tab. I think she'll probably be by for coffee soon."

"Fair enough, would you like your usual?"

Henry nodded, surveying the tables to see if his and Emma's usual spot was taken. It wasn't so he sat down and pulled out an old issue of Hulk vs. Wolverine to peruse while he waited for his food to arrive. The bell over the door chimed as the early morning regulars made their way in and out of to-go orders. Henry ignored most of it until the sound of a familiar voice snagged him back to present and he looked up to see Elena talking with Mrs. Kotter about her children having a riding class to themselves since there were so many of them. Inspiration struck and Henry waved Ruby over to whisper something in her ear.

When Elena finished her conversation (with a promise to fit a group lesson for the Kotter kids in her weekly schedule) she made her way over to the bar.

"Hi there," Ruby said with a broad smile as she flipped a white rag over her shoulder and stepped up to Elena. "You must be new in town, I haven't seen you before."

"Relatively," Elena replied ruefully. "I'm afraid I haven't had a chance to explore town very much since arriving. I'm Elena, I've taken over the ranch on the edge of town and the renovation has made me something of a hermit. But I've been told on several occasions that Granny's is the place to start rectifying that."

"That's right," Ruby grinned as if she hadn't already known exactly who Elena was and what she was doing in town. "Welcome to Storybrooke, I'm Ruby. The rumor mill's been going overtime about you. You've collected quite a few admirers. One of which," she reached beneath the counter to pull out a steaming to-go cup, "Thought you might enjoy starting off your morning with a café-latte."

Ruby's eyes tracked over Elena's shoulder and she turned to the corner booth where Henry was very studiously reading his comic book and definitely not going to look up at them. A smile blossomed over Elena's face at the sweet gesture from the boy who was quickly becoming her favorite student.

"Well, I suppose I should go thank the gentleman."

"Careful with that one ma'am, he's making quite a habit of buying pretty women drinks. You'll be wrapped around his finger before you know it."

Elena smirked and took her beverage.

"Ruby," she said as she slid off her barstool, "I have a feeling we'll be friends but I better not hear you call me ma'am again."

"You got it," Ruby assured her and went back to wiping down the counter. She watched as Elena walked over, wondering what Henry had up his sneaky sleeve now. The last time he'd started buying a grown woman drinks over breakfast it'd turned out to be his birth mother, The Savior. She wondered who this stranger would turn out to be and what Henry knew about it that no one else did.

"Is this seat taken?" Elena pointed to the bench across from Henry.

He hastily stowed his comic and folded his hands on the table.

"Well I was kinda hoping it would be," he sassed with a charming grin he'd picked up from his blonde mother.

"Thank you for the drink," Elena said as she sat down across from him. "I'm impressed you added sugar."

"Lucky guess," Henry shrugged.

"You're here alone?"

He shrugged again, "I think Emma will be here any minute."

"Do you come here often?"

"Usually just Sunday's now, it's kind of our thing."

"Can I get you anything else?" Ruby interrupted them. "Sorry Elena, I should have asked while you were at the bar."

Elena gestured for her not to worry about it and asked Henry, "What do you recommend, since you have such excellent taste in beverages?"

"Try the apple pancakes," Henry said without hesitation. "I think you'll really like them."

"Apple pancakes it is," she told Ruby with a grin.

"Perfect, I'll bring your food out with hers Henry. Should I start Emma's usual too?"

Henry nodded, "And a big hot cocoa with cinnamon."

Ruby gave him a suspicious look but when he beamed at her she left without comment.

"So, I didn't really get a chance to talk with you Monday about your lesson. What did you think?"

"It was fun, I liked being your assistant but I wish we had gotten to ride."

"I know I feel bad about that. Two hours just wasn't enough time to go over safety rules and get everyone caught up to you."

"It's ok. But Emma and I were kinda hoping we could come by this weekend and go riding."

"Emma rides?"

"Well, not exactly, but Mary Margaret and David do and they said they'd show us so you wouldn't have to do anything if you're busy."

"That wouldn't be a problem," Elena said thoughtfully. "I don't have lessons on the weekend and no one else has made private appointments. I wouldn't mind helping you and Emma. I think between the two of us we could catch her up pretty quickly."

"Awesome! I don't think Emma's that excited about it, I think she's a little bit scared. But she'll get over it, she's really brave."

Ruby returned with plates of apple pancakes for both of them and a glass with milk for Henry.

"Thanks Ruby," they chorused.

"You bet," Ruby said and moved along to refill coffees at the booths behind them.

"Mmm," Elena said as she tried a bite of her pancakes. "Good choice, these are delicious."

"They're pretty good," Henry said. Granny's pancakes were nice but his mom perfected everything with apples and hers beat Granny's outta town. Even after his run in with the cursed turnover he still craved her confections.

"So can I ask you something?"

"Sure," Henry said, taking a big gulp of milk and waiting expectantly for Elena to continue.

"You call your mother Emma? How come?"

Henry floundered for a minute. He'd always called Emma, Emma. He'd tried calling her 'Mom' once in New York but it had felt kind of weird and she had nearly fallen off the sidewalk when he'd said it so he'd decided that Regina would always be 'Mom' and he'd figure something else out for Emma when she was ready.

"I was adopted," he said finally, deciding that the truth was the best route. "I found Emma and now I live with her because my mom isn't here right now."

"Oh." Surprise played across Elena's face but she banished it quickly. She couldn't get rid of the sad look that took its place in her eyes though. Regina hadn't been nearly as easy to read but Henry had seen that quiet sorrow on her face more times than he could count, and he wondered what had put it there now. Was a bit of his mother peeking through or was it Elena's blessed memories making her look this way. Wasn't the blessing supposed to make her happy?

Elena gave him an indulgent smile and was about to ask another question when the bell over the door tinkled and Emma schlumped in and dropped on the seat next to Henry. Ruby seemed to materialize right behind her and set another large to go cup in front of her.

"Chocolate and coffee, best of both worlds," Ruby said with a wink for Henry.

"Oh bless you, you wonderful human being," Emma said emphatically as she picked it up and took a long pull from the drink.

"You're welcome," Ruby said as she deftly transferred three plates of food and a glass of milk for Henry from her tray to their table. "Enjoy!"

"So, we're having a very impromptu breakfast," Emma said with a little scowl for her son, who had adopted the most innocent expression he could muster. She added, "Good morning Elena, nice to see you again. What were we talking about?"

"Henry was just telling me about your plans to go for a family ride this weekend?"

"I hope he asked nicely, and remembered that you have a business to run," Emma mumbled, giving Henry's foot a nudge with her own under the table.

"He was the very definition of gentility," Elena teased loftily, winking at Henry. "He bought me a drink before he made the date and everything."

Emma noticed she couldn't quite wink one eye, the other always blinked with it. It was endearing.

The hell, Swan?

"That's kind of his thing," she said drily, casting a sidelong glance at Henry so she wouldn't have to look at Elena. The happy expression on Regina's face was messing with her head again and she really needed to figure out how to stop that before it happened. It was just the blessing, when they brought Regina back it would be gone. Fucking magic.

Henry covered his smirk by shoveling a forkful of scrambled eggs and hash browns into his mouth.

"So I've heard," Elena said, looking between the two with a mirthful but curious expression. She was certain there was some element to this conversation she wasn't getting but neither of the Swans deigned to let her in on it.

"Well, I'm sure you're busy, and have a schedule and prices set up for this sort of thing," Emma hedged. "Mary Margaret thought it would be a fun family outing and the little traitor here agreed before I had a chance to say no."

Elena waved her off, "No, David talked to me ages ago. I meant it when I said you're welcome to use the horses anytime. I understand he had an arrangement with the Gordons and I don't mind keeping things the way they are. Actually, that's four less horses I have to exercise so you'll be taking some work off my hands."

"Are you sure," Emma asked, trying to suppress her discomfort at accepting Elena's offer. David and Mary Margaret hadn't given her a chance to pay for Henry's lessons and it irritated her to feel like she was accepting handouts. Even if they were from her parents and Elena was…well, Regina.

"I wouldn't offer if I wasn't."

"Elena was saying we could come by earlier and catch you up on saddling and mounting and then we could learn to ride together and surprise David and Mary Margaret. What do you think?"

Elena couldn't smother her chuckle at Emma's bewildered expression although when Emma glowered at her for it she did take a drink to hide her smile.

"I think you should finish your breakfast or you'll miss the bus," Emma snarked.

"Well, maybe Elena could just go riding with us too," Henry continued. "David says there's a trail through the forest have you been?"

Elena shook her head. "I haven't had the chance to go off the ranch yet but I've been meaning to."

"You should come!" Henry announced happily, his plan was working perfectly.

"No, I think that's family time, I don't want to intrude," she said, finding that she didn't like being in the hot seat nearly as much as she enjoyed watching Emma squirm as she tried to subvert Henry's expert machinations. "You'll have to show me another time."

Henry pouted but didn't protest because Emma kicked his foot under the table again when he tried.

"Anyway, you'll-

Loud barking cut off whatever Elena was planning to say. Archie had come through the diner door with Pongo who was usually much more sedate when Archie stopped in for his morning coffee and bagel. Henry half-expected Elena to comment on the dog being allowed in the restaurant at all because it was unusual and his mother would have had a fit about regulations if she knew. He was surprised when Pongo pulled Archie over to their table and put a paw on Elena's leg and she merely listened with a perplexed expression as the Dalmatian let out a series of quiet whuffs and bays that sounded almost conversational.

Emma looked from the dog to Archie and back to Elena with wide eyes and a gaping mouth. The rest of the diner patrons returned to their meals as if this happened all of the time but Ruby kept a watchful eye on the dog from across the room.

"Well hello to you too," Elena laughed when Pongo had finished and removed his paw from her knee. She reached out to scratch his ears and the dog sat sedately next to his master as if he'd delivered a very important message and they could carry on as usual now.

"You have the weirdest dog Archie," Emma told the therapist.

"S-sorry, he's not usually so social," Archie apologized. "And never with people he doesn't know. I'm sorry for interrupting your meal."

"No worries," Henry quipped, leaning forward to look at the dog. Pongo was weird, but he'd always figured that was because Archie treated him like a human and he technically was a fairytale character.

"It's no trouble at all," Elena assured him. She offered her hand. "I'm Elena Quijano, I've just moved to Storybrooke."

"Enchanted," Archie said gently as he took her hand and returned her smile bashfully. "I'm Archie Hopper and this is Pongo, who would apparently also like to welcome you to Storybrooke."

"After this morning I feel thoroughly welcomed," she said happily.

"Right," Archie paused as if searching for something to say. "Do I- Have we met? It…it's just Pongo doesn't usually act like this."

Elena frowned and shook her head while Emma and Henry both watched in rapt attention.

"I don't believe so; I haven't spent much time in Maine. I've traveled a lot; maybe we've met at an event before?"

"No, I haven't been out of Storybrooke in quite some time," Archie said. He seemed to search for something more to say and came up short. "Well, sorry again to have interrupted your morning. It's a pleasure to meet you Ms. Quijano; nice to see you Sheriff, Henry."

"See ya, later Archie," Henry said, then drank the last of his milk and elbowed Emma. "Let me out, I've gotta go catch the bus."

"I should go too," Elena slid out of her own seat and took enough money to cover her meal and a tip out of her purse and laid it next to her plate. I have a meeting with Principal Honey at the high school to set up a volunteer internship for students who want to enter a vet program."

"Wow, you don't mess around do you? You've been here what, four weeks?"

"Six; and it's really a sneaky way to get some assistants to help with lessons and chores."

"Mm, I've heard of programs like that," Emma said. "I think your school will be a great thing for Storybrooke."

Just as long as they could keep the town's eccentricities hidden from actual outsiders and Emma could solve all the problems that had popped up since the curse had broken without starting Fairy Tale War I.

She didn't even want to think about that though until she'd finished the rest of her coffee.

"Come on kid, we gotta get you to the bus so I can enjoy the rest of my breakfast," Emma stood to let Henry out and caught Ruby's eye to gesture that she'd be back in a minute.

The three of them walked out of the diner together, Henry trotted ahead of both his mothers looking very pleased with himself for having pulled the morning together so perfectly without even trying.

"So I'll see you…Saturday then?" Elena probed, as they paused on the sidewalk in front of the diner to say goodbye.

"Saturday morning yes, Mary Margaret wants to pack a picnic for lunch." Emma rolled her eyes.

"Sounds like fun. I'll see you Saturday then," Elena said with a smile. "Thanks for letting me invade your breakfast."

"My pleasure," Henry smiled. He wanted to hug her again but decided not to push it. These things must be handled delicately. He'd learned that with Emma.

They waved and went separate ways, Elena to a brand new Chevy truck that was parked against the sidewalk and Emma and Henry towards the corner where a group of kids were waiting for the school bus.

"Hey walk slow with me for a minute," Emma said, tugging Henry's backpack to pull him back into step with her. They only had two drive ways before they'd be in hearing range of the other kids.

Henry's shoulders slumped, knowing what was coming.

"This morning really wasn't cool kid," Emma said as sternly as she could. She hadn't really had to discipline the kid before and she was finding she probably liked it even less than he did.

"We used to meet at Granny's for breakfast all the time," Henry pointed out. "And you said-

"I know what I said. And that was before you lived with me all the time. It's not fun to come out of your room at seven in the morning and realize your kid is gone. What if something had happened to you?"

"I just walked to Granny's and I left a note."

"And that is all that stopped me from looking for you in the squad car with the sirens going. Will ya look at me please?"

Henry turned to her and she bent to be on his level, the same way she'd seen Regina do countless times.

"I know we used to do things differently before the curse broke but I think maybe we made some mistakes too. I feel really bad if your mom ever felt like I did this morning because you'd snuck out to have breakfast with me."

Henry frowned in the direction Elena had driven off. He hadn't really thought of that before and before the curse broke he wouldn't really have cared.

"I know you miss your mom making you breakfast every morning."

"Her apple pancakes are better than Granny's," Henry whispered, knowing Granny had wolf-hearing and not wanting her to come out and scold him too.

Emma chuckled and ruffled his hair. "Fair enough. Anytime you want to go to Granny's for breakfast you just say okay?"

"What if I don't?" Henry asked, genuinely curious as to what boundaries Emma was going to set rather than asking for the sake of being obstinate.

"I'll talk to Ruby, no more using my tab to buy food. If you talk to me first I'll give you money."

"So I'll have to go to school without food?"

Emma's heart lurched at the thought. Henry had grown up never knowing what it was like to go hungry for any reason and if Emma had her way he never would either.

"I was thinking you'd have to wash dishes and earn your keep," she thought quickly. "I think at the going rate for a busboy today's breakfast would have cost you about two hours. Seriously though just talk to me, that's not so bad right?"

"Nope," Henry threw his arms together. "I love you Emma."

"Love you too, kid." Emma returned the hug, certain that she was never going to get used to how good being a mom felt.

"See you after school." He pulled out of her arms and ran for the bus. She waited until it pulled away with Henry safely inside before heading back to the diner to finish her breakfast and talk to Ruby.

Notes: Shorter chapter this time because it's actually the first half of what's quickly becoming a behemoth. Part II will be up when I get back from camping. Expect more Ruby, more fluff as I can't seem to avoid that, and more plot. Happy weekend all, happy Memorial Day all who celebrate. Thanks for reading everyone!

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