Despite the regime change and disturbances to the routine, one thing that Emma appreciated since returning was Storybrooke's tendency to run like clockwork. Though there were a few people lingering in the diner she knew it would clear out by the time she finished her own breakfast and she'd be able to chat with the Lucas' about their erstwhile customer. In the meantime, she had every intention to think about something, anything, other than Regina Mills but her subconscious betrayed her and kept replaying the morning she'd just spent with her son and his enchanted other mother.

Henry might be scheming to get to know Elena in hopes that some spark of maternal love might be enough to help him remove the blessing on her but the more Emma got to know Elena, the more she wondered where this part of Regina's personality had been buried all these years. If Emma hadn't so thoroughly fumbled the situation with Archie would it have surfaced? She thought she'd seen glimpses; brief, sincere moments when the Queen and the Mayor masks slipped and the woman showed through. When Regina had told her to go save their son in the mines and then again when Emma had promised her at the sheriff's station that she wasn't going to let her die; and again when had saved her and Snow from Gold's magic at the well.

Looking back Emma realized she'd never seen Regina with a genuine smile on her face until the moment she'd welcomed her back to the real world at the well. Afterwards they had kept appearing; hesitantly as if Regina was just remembering what happiness actually felt like and then Emma had ruined it all by accusing Regina of murder and taking Henry away.

Elena flashed those smiles as though she'd never had a reason to mime happiness. If Henry removed the blessing would that disappear once more? Would Regina retain any of the capacity for joy that she had as Elena? Did it matter if Henry had his mom back? She was positive that Regina wouldn't hesitate to sacrifice her own happiness in order to ensure Henry's but Emma wished the two didn't seem so mutually exclusive.


Emma rejoined reality as Ruby sat down with a carafe of coffee and a mug of her own.

"Please." She said, pulling the lid off her cup so Ruby could fill it. "How was your run?"

"Great. I think I've been to every edge Storybrooke has that isn't under water."

"Sounds…fun?" Emma said, raising her eyebrows skeptically.

"Yeah, it really kind of is," Ruby replied. "I really appreciate it you know, that you just take the wolf thing in stride. It's kind of amazing; I mean up until about four months ago you didn't even know they actually existed."

"Oh please," Emma said as she scooped a generous helping of sugar into her coffee and stirred it thoroughly. "It turned out that my parents are Snow White and Prince Charming –who, by the way, are my age- and my son's other mother is-" Emma stopped abruptly at Ruby's stunned expression. "Well, anyway, real werewolves are actually the least shocking part of all of this. Besides, they're in now. Team Jacob and all that…No big deal right?"

"I can't believe you just compared my plight to a mediocre, angst-ridden, teen romance," Ruby griped.

"If the furry paw fits…" Emma grinned.

Ruby groaned at the bad joke but let it go to pursue other topics of conversation.

"So are you gonna keep pretending there's not something going on with you or are you going to do this the easy way?"

If it were anyone else asking, Emma would try to play at obliviousness but Ruby had a knack for reading people and she had about as much tolerance for bullshit as Emma herself.

"It's…complicated," she said, not even knowing where to begin to explain.

"Gee Emma, complicated in Storybrooke? I'm so surprised." Emma didn't need to look up to know Ruby was rolling her eyes.

"You could start by explaining what's up with Mr. Gold?" Ruby suggested. "Who, by the way, showed up this morning asking for the rent, which was bizarre, but I'd rather you started with Elena Quijano and why Pongo was yammering on and on to her about what happened to Archie and how he tried to tell everyone it wasn't her."

Emma nearly spewed coffee at the brunette who was looking at her like she was waiting for a particularly good bedtime story.

"Who said what?"

"Pongo," Ruby said simply.

"You can actually talk to dogs?"

Ruby rolled her eyes, "Seriously? That is what surprises you?"

For a moment Emma just gaped at her like a fish trying to breathe air. She had no idea when Ruby had told her something was wrong with Archie that fateful day that she had known because the dog had literally told her so. Sure, Snow had casually chatted with a raven in the Enchanted Forest but that had been her world, not Granny's Diner in Maine, USA, planet Earth.

Really though, nothing should shock her anymore at this point in her life.

"You're right, absolutely normal. Carry on."

Ruby shrugged. "I was trying to look like I wasn't listening, since Elena's not from around here and dogs do what dogs do right? But he called her 'Alpha' and was going on about something happening to Archie but as far as I'm concerned Archie looks totally normal and definitely not dead. So what gives?"

"Ruby," Emma sighed and scrubbed her eyes with one hand, "This really isn't a morning coffee conversation, this is a late night, full bottle of MacCutcheon kind of conversation."

"Yeah, well, you've been back for almost two weeks and you still haven't called me for a girls' night, so you're stuck with what you got."

"It's pretty unbelievable."

"You're talking to a werewolf."

Touche, Emma thought as she looked around the diner, to make sure no one was eavesdropping. Greg Mendel was in a holding cell at her station but someone had tipped him off about Ruby.

"No one's coming in for at least forty-five minutes," Ruby assured her. "Get talking. And while you're at it you can explain that 'Henry's other mother' comment too. Don't think I missed that."

"It's kind of the same story," Emma admitted.

"So you and she were like…a thing?" Ruby's said with a lascivious grin, hoping Emma was about to reveal something juicy about her mysterious past.

"God no!" Emma snapped. "She's from your land."

"She just moved here from the outside," Ruby protested. "And what's that supposed to mean? You're from my land too you know."

"I thought you were gonna believe me? Do you wanna hear this or not?"

Ruby made a zipping motion across her lips and waited expectantly.

"She's from your land. Nobody remembers her because apparently the Blue Fairy put some kind of spell on her that made her forget who she was and everybody else in town forgot too."

"So, she's stuck with her Storybrooke memories? Like Belle?"

"No, that's the thing she didn't have Storybrooke memories. Elena is completely new."

"So who was she?"

"Regina Mills."

Ruby's expression was blank. Emma shouldn't have expected any recognition, nobody in town had thought of her as Regina anyway.

"The Evil Queen?" She tried again.

Ruby's expression didn't change.

"Look, you think Rumplestiltskin was the one who cast the curse right?"

Ruby nodded.

"He wasn't. He got the Evil Queen to do it for him. But this spell changed everybody's memory of what happened in the last year, just enough that things seem the same but they're totally different. Gold has no memory of being Mayor because Regina was, and he probably came looking for the rent because according to his memories he owns most of the town and that's what he did."

"You're telling me everything we think Gold did, it was actually Regina? Gold didn't adopt Henry the Evil Queen did?"

"Former Evil Queen," Emma corrected. "And yes."

"So did the Blue Fairy put a spell on her so she wouldn't be the Evil Queen anymore?"

"That's the thing! I don't know why the Blue Fairy cast the spell. All I have are these pieces and hints that make no sense I'm just supposed to find out how they go together and figure out what the hell to do."

"That is complicated," Ruby said, using the table to brace backwards in her seat. "And in the meantime you're letting Henry have breakfast with her?"

"Ooh not 'letting'," Emma declared. "That was all on my kid: the con-man/super-genius. He left me a note this morning and came down for breakfast."

"I figured something was going on when he walked in without you."

"Yeah, we had a talk about that. Do me a favor and make him wash dishes next time he shows up and tries to use my tab."

"Can do, Granny'll love it. That's her kind of parenting," Ruby said with a fond glance toward the kitchen where the woman was still busy cleaning up after the breakfast rush.

"Whadaya know, maybe I am doing something right," Emma mused.

"But you haven't explained what's up with Elena, Regina, whatever her name is," Ruby shook her head as she tried to sort out the details of Emma's story and make them mesh with her own muddled memories. "I remember Henry being miserable with Mr. Gold; that's why he came to find you. But watching him with her this morning –he pulled the same trick with the drink that he pulled on you your first day here. And you are here- so he had to have come to get you for some reason but you all ate breakfast together like you've been doing it for years."

"Yeah, well," Emma looked down and tapped the lid of her cup and tried to figure out how best to explain Regina. "Regina wasn't all sunshine and daisies, but she was a good mother and she was trying to be a good person for Henry. He's having a hard time without her and he's convinced that he can kiss her and bring her back."

"Because your kiss brought him back."

"Give the lady a prize." Emma raised her cup flippantly and then took a long drink, wishing there was something stronger in it.

"I don't understand though, if she wasn't the Evil Queen anymore why did the Blue Fairy put a spell on her that would change everyone's memories?"

"Your guess is as good as mine at this point," she said with a wild gesture to imply the endless possibilities. "It may even be better. What do you remember happening after I left with Gold?"

Ruby frowned as she tried to sort through memories that seemed to grow fuzzier the more she tried to focus on them.

"Hook caused some trouble," she began, but she sounded uncertain. "But your parents stopped him and things were almost normal for a few days until the storm came in."

"Snow and David mentioned that," Emma confirmed.

"Usually we have some warning but it came so fast and hit hard. Some electrical lines blew down on the convent and started a fire; all the buildings on Main Street had damage either from the wind or the flames. I remember a few people leaving, saying if they couldn't go home then they were at least going to move somewhere normal. It was only a handful though, the rest of us just got to work fixing things. I think the fairies must have helped but I don't…I can't say for sure what they used magic on. What are you thinking? Do you think Regina had something to do with that?"

Emma gave her a non-committal shrug.

"I don't really know. And I can't know unless I undo this spell."

"And Henry has a plan to do that," Ruby confirmed. "But what if she did? What if Regina reverted or whatever and the Blue Fairy changed her memories so she wouldn't want to hurt anyone?"

"I mean I can't prove that didn't happen but Regina had come a long way and I don't think she would have just ditched all that because someone pissed her off."

"You're willing to gamble on that?" Ruby asked bluntly. "Because that's what you're doing, betting that you're not releasing an Evil Queen on everyone in Storybrooke."

"Let me ask you something." Emma leaned forward and dropped her voice, fully aware that she was about to cross a privacy line she hadn't traversed since the curse had been broken.

"You're different now," she carefully told the brunette. "Duh right? But you're more...confident and settled and…sad?"

She watched Ruby's face for any sign that she'd offended her and for a brief second an expression she recognized as haunted flickered across the other woman's open face but she cocked her head and replaced it with tentative curiosity.

"And you still call yourself Ruby," Emma continued. "Would you go back and be just Ruby again if you could? Do you ever wish you didn't remember being Red?"

"God, now there's a MacCutcheon conversation," Ruby said with a self-deprecating grin.

"Yeah, well you have about thirty minutes," Emma mocked her. "So start talking."

Ruby looked down into her mug of coffee to compose her thoughts.

"Honestly," she began after a long pause. "I would cross the town line today if I could guarantee that the wolf would be forgotten along with Red."

That was not what Emma expected to hear from her mother's oldest friend and she had to react quickly to keep her shock from showing on her face.

"There are other things I wouldn't want to give up," Ruby admitted. "It's nice not to wonder all the time where you come from, you know? And Granny and I understand each other more now. We went through a lot together once upon a time and 'Ruby' was only just at the beginning of that journey. So I am more settled, but I guess that's not a bad thing."

They shared a smirk at that, knowing that for both of them "settled" would never seem quite natural.

"Sorry, I guess that wasn't what you wanted to hear huh?"

"No, no. I mean, I didn't want to hear anything one way or another." Which was mostly true. "I just…I get that you have things in your past you'd rather not remember. I just can't help but wonder if Regina might too."

"Well, yeah, Evil Queen kind of implies that right?"

Implied was an understatement. And the mixed feelings Emma had about Regina's past were legion.

"Yeah, and I can't really get over that. But I also can't get over the fact that she raised Henry for ten years of his life and I know I'm biased but he is a really great kid."

"Em, lots of really great kids have lousy parents."

"Yeah, but as near as I can tell his biggest beef with her is that she lied to him about being the Evil Queen."

Ruby's eyes narrowed.

"Lies hurt Emma, even the ones we tell to protect the people we love. Sometimes those are the ones that hurt most of all."

Suddenly it seemed like her friend Ruby was gone and the woman who had been named Emma's godmother had taken her place. Emma thought about what she said and had to swallow the lump that rose in her throat as she remembered the little untruth she'd told Henry about his father.

"It could have been so much worse though," she insisted. "I know exactly how things could have been worse. I was terrified of worse. That's why I placed him to begin with. He would have gone into the system until I got out of jail and he probably would have ended up there again before I got my life together. I just couldn't do that to my kid! He deserved more than that and at the time private adoption was the only way I could give it to him."

She paused, biting her lip as she remembered the hours she'd spent in a tiny conference room going over her options with a social worker, trying to figure out what was best for her baby. And then she recalled that awful moment when she'd stood on Regina's porch and was sure that she'd made the wrong decision. But for all her faults Regina had proven her wrong about that at least. If there had been any doubt left in her mind after Regina had helped Emma break the curse to save Henry then the past few weeks had banished it completely.

"Before they cast the spell Regina must have had some time to get things in order, because she left him some stuff. The spell got rid of everything in her house but somehow she gave him this trunk with his favorite blanket and these photo albums, these gorgeous photo albums, with notes about every picture. I've been looking through them for two weeks and I'm still not finished. She gave him everything Ruby, everything I wished for him. He had toys and birthday parties and books and piano lessons –My kid can play the piano! Henry was her whole world. And even after everything that has happened I don't know how someone who is supposed to be evil incarnate could be capable of the kind of love that I see in every single one of those pictures."

"He still had to come find you though, and –at least in my memory."

"Yeah, he did and for a long time I wasn't sure that I'd done the right thing so I stayed. But I am sure now that she loved him and that he needs her."

"It's not like she's gone completely though," Ruby pointed out. "Maybe Elena's all of those good things; maybe she's the part that was capable of that kind of love. That sounds like something the Blue Fairy would arrange."

"Yeah, but why?" She asked. "I keep coming back to that. I won't know why she did it unless I undo it –but then I don't know if I should? And if I don't then what do I tell Henry because the kid just really wants his mom back. Regina left a letter and said it was a punishment but the Blue Fairy said the 'blessing' she used had to be wished for. And nobody can tell me what the hell the truth is because nobody can remember!"

She clenched her hands to keep from slapping the table in frustration and Ruby sighed and layered on some sympathy.

"We definitely should have waited for booze," she said resolutely and Emma let out a chuckle that was a little hysterical. "I wish I could tell you what you want to know."

Emma gave her a thin but appreciative smile and forced herself to relax; knowing Ruby was probably the last person she should be taking her frustration out on.

"I think I gotta let Henry try, even you said you wouldn't go back to the way your relationship is with Granny now. Elena likes the kid but she's not his Mom, you know?"

"It always comes back to mothers doesn't it?"

Emma cocked her head and waited for Ruby to continue.

"You didn't have a mom, Snow didn't have a mom, I didn't have a mom…I wouldn't wish that on anybody much less Henry, even if he does have a perfectly good mother sitting right in front of me."

"I'm not though," Emma vented. "I mean I am. But I wasn't there for him growing up and now I'm learning how to do everything by doing it the wrong way first."

"Oh, come on, you're not that bad. That kid adores you."

Emma's eyebrows raised in reluctant agreement. "Good thing too, or he'd never put up with me."

"I'll help, if I can," Ruby offered. "Maybe I could talk to Belle and see if she has any books on how to reverse fairy magic?"

"I thought Belle doesn't have her memories?"

"She doesn't remember our world, but she knows the library like I know this diner."

"And she can help us find magic books?" Emma asked skeptically.

"Well…she knows Storybrooke is kind of a weird town. She and Tom Clarke saw more than we could explain before everybody decided to go on the down-low about the fairy tale thing."

"Sure, we can ask. But it'll have to be on my off hours," Emma said as she glanced at the clock, noting that she was officially going to be late for work.

"That's a lot of sudden concern about office hours for someone who is still sitting in a diner booth."

"This is a working breakfast," Emma informed her. "I've still gotta talk to you about Greg Mendel."

"Great," Ruby replied in a tone that suggested she thought it was anything but. "You're gonna have to do it while I work though, the dwarves have a standing order to pick up coffee on their way to work."

"Not a lot to tell really," Emma admitted, but she followed Ruby over to the bar anyway. "

"Well you're going to have to tell it to a bigger audience," Granny announced as she strode through the door from the kitchen.

Ruby and Emma both smiled at her in greeting as the older woman began assembling cardboard totes and coffee cozies for the drinks Ruby was preparing.

"Better than telling it twice," Emma quipped. "His real name is Owen Flynn; he uses a penname when he travels."

"Your background check said that?" Ruby clarified as she popped open two drink carriers and poured steaming coffee into eight cups.

"No, but his driver's license did. I confronted him about it and he said as much. So I ran a check on both names and his story checks out. He really is a writer for a travel magazine. He covers a niche beat, going to places that are supposed to be haunted or that have weird urban legends and then he writes about them."

"And Storybrooke, Maine is right up his alley," Granny muttered.

"Bingo. He does more standard writing under his real name and only has a traffic ticket on his record."

"Standard flunky who chased the wrong story at the wrong time?"

"Sure seems like it. I don't know how he got so close to figuring out your little secret but he knows now that he was onto something and he knows the trespassing charges are bull. It's illegal to keep holding him if he's not going to appear before a judge and the longer I do the more likely that is to come back and bite me in the ass."

Ruby shared a glance with her grandmother and Emma wondered if it was standard for fairytale people to carry on conversations without actually speaking because apparently it was a thing. Then Ruby proceeded to pull a familiar digital camera out from beneath the counter.

"In that case you might want to take this then and pretend you've had it in an evidence locker or something. We kind of checked his to see if he got any pictures but it looks like Granny stopped him in time. The moon is waning and I've got the wolf under control anyway."

"And I talked Mother Superior into dusting up the freezer," Granny added as she shoved finished coffees into the carriers with enough force that Emma was worried the Styrofoam would cave under the pressure. "Least that blue flitwit could do really."

Emma figured there was a story there but if she was going to start her shift by emptying cells she needed to get to it.

"Can't put it off anymore then," she told them. "Could you two let the grapevine know that everyone needs to be on their best behavior till he leaves? Maybe we can all give him the run around and he'll decide to cut his losses."

Sometimes it shocked Emma how embedded into the town she'd become. When had that happened? She felt like she was setting up the plot for an episode of Andy Griffith.

"Gotcha covered," Ruby said.

"And keep an ear to the ground, I still haven't figured out how he knew where to snoop and he's not revealing sources."

"Oh, we'll be doing that," Granny assured her. "You can tell him I put his bags in his car, what with that rule about not harboring criminals."

"Thought that one was just for felons?" Emma grimaced, "I am gonna be in so much trouble if he decides to do a write up on the law enforcement in this town."

"Maybe we should have the Blue Fairy wipe his memory," Ruby suggested.

"If we get really desperate," Emma considered it. "But at this point I really wish everyone would stop screwing around with everyone else's memories. It's a pain in my ass."

"Never a slow day in the savior business, huh?"

"Yeah, yeah," Emma rolled her eyes. "Thanks for the chat Rubes. I guess I better go let our friend go before he decides he can file charges against me," she said, collecting her refilled cup and keys from the counter before striding toward the door.

"Anytime," Ruby called after her. "I'll talk to Belle, maybe we'll stop by later this week?"

"Sure!" Emma waved as she exited the diner. "See ya Granny!"

"What, no food for the prisoner this morning?" Greg, Owen –Whatever!- drawled from his cot as Emma walked into the office and set her coffee and his camera down on the desk.

"You're not a prisoner," Emma said automatically. "And you're not even incarcerated as of this morning. Granny decided not to press charges so you're a free man. I definitely wouldn't head that way for chow though and you're out of a room."

He looked surprised in spite of himself as she unlocked the cell held it open. He pulled his tweed jacket off the end of the cot and slipped passed her.

"Oh yeah, where else does one stop for breakfast around here?" He asked warily.

"There's a McDonald's in Rockland, you should be able to get there before 10:30," Emma replied sweetly.

"Oh, you're not getting rid of me that easily."

"Worth a shot," Emma sighed and moved to the locker where she'd put the rest of his belongings and returned them to him.

"You know the harder you try to get me to go the more I'm convinced there's a story here you don't want me to find," he informed her as he checked his camera and wallet.

Emma scoffed.

"I'm not worried about your story," she assured him. "What does concern me is what you're willing to do to get it. And for the record next time I catch you invading an innocent citizen's privacy and property I won't wait for them to press charges before I haul your ass out of town and drop you so far from civilization your 'story' will be the least of your problems."

"Now Sherriff Swan, there's no reason to go making threats."

Emma rolled her eyes but didn't respond to that, deciding everything that immediately came to mind sounded like she'd gotten it from a bad cop drama. Instead she gestured to the door

"Goodbye Flynn."

For a long moment he looked like he was going to come up with something else to say but as he met Emma's glare he seemed to think better of it and scuttled through the door.

She made her way into her office and dropped into the chair behind the desk. Writers had deadlines right? She hoped now that he'd worn out his welcome at the only place to stay everybody in town would keep their mouths shut and he'd be forced to leave just to keep his job but she didn't dare hope that she'd seen the last of him.

Later that night, after Henry had gone to bed and the news had finished, Emma shut off the TV and curled up on the couch with the last of the albums and a bottle of beer. She'd been putting off looking at it; partly out of a principled dislike for endings in general but mostly because she wasn't sure she wanted to see the changes 2011 had brought from the perspective of Regina's discerning lens. The albums may have been intended to illustrate Henry's childhood and they had, but Emma felt as though the pictures and notes said as much about Regina as they did about Henry. The woman she'd gotten to know by perusing the books was the mother she had both hoped and feared existed, but the woman she'd met on her birthday over a year ago had been a crude facsimile of the one who had created these albums. Regina and Henry had both changed from the people that albums one through eight portrayed and Emma was both curious and apprehensive of seeing that evolution pictured.

On the other hand she had been dying to know what had changed so drastically that Henry had dubbed his mom the Evil Queen and began to look for his birth mother, the savior, and she had a feeling that this album would be a good start in finding out. So she took a deep sip of her wine and cracked open the leather bound cover.

Year nine started out the same as the others with school pictures as Henry began third grade. There were candid shots of him in class and at home, learning times-tables and practicing cursive and ones of him posing with various art projects and mugging for the camera. Then, about a quarter of the way through the scrapbook there was a noticeable change in the frequency of the pictures and the length of the notes that accompanied them. The dates between pictures began growing further and further apart and Emma noticed that there were more Christmas pictures than there had been in previous albums, as though Regina had used them to make up for the lack of November and January pictures. There were even fewer February through July photos and Emma remembered Henry had told her that Regina had stopped carrying her camera around everywhere because he hadn't let her take his picture anymore.

Henry's soccer pictures in June were the last until his next school picture and the shot of Miss Blanchard's fourth grade class lined up in the school cafeteria. The next page held a few of Henry opening presents on his tenth birthday followed by a few more from Christmas with only the date marking the occasion. Unlike previous years there were no notes detailing what his favorite present and carol had been; no memories jotted down for preservation.

She flipped the page and her chest clenched as though Regina herself had reached in and tried to take her heart. Almost the size of the page itself, the photo was of Emma and Henry sitting at his old castle with their heads together and The Book across their laps. It was a decent picture but it had obviously been taken at a distance and lacked the warmth and flair of Regina's shots so Emma suspected that the photographer had been Sydney Glass, spying on them shortly before the castle depicted on it had been destroyed by the weather. It was the final photo in a book that was less than halfway finished.

Emma wasn't sure whether she was relieved or disappointed that the transition from happy little family had been so abrupt. Despite not really wanting to see Regina and Henry's relationship devolve on the pages before her she had hoped to find a little more evidence as to its cause. Now she was at a loss, wondering if Regina had added the final picture with Emma or Henry as her intended audience. Was it there to remind Emma what she'd taken from Regina, regardless of her promise not to? Or maybe it was Regina's blessing, a final note to Henry that though she was gone he would still have his Emma, just like he wanted.


Emma craned her neck to see Henry standing on the stairs, clutching his blue patchwork quilt around his shoulders.

"Hey kid, everything okay?"

"Had a nightmare," he said, looking terribly lost and not a little disoriented.

"C'mere," she said, swinging her legs down to make room for him on the couch. That was all it took for him to dart down the final four stairs and burrow into her side. Emma reached out and pulled him into an awkward cuddle. She was at a loss as to what to do next, certain that Regina had had a routine for such things but Emma was just barely beginning to get used to hugging her son. She wasn't sure what he needed after a bad dream.

"You wanna talk about it?" She asked, looking down though all she could see was the top of his shaggy head.

"Dunno," he mumbled.

"Was it the Netherworld again? Do you still have your necklace?"

Henry fumbled under his blankets and his fist popped out a second later, the vial with the dream potion was clutched inside.

"So…not the Netherworld?"

Henry retracted his hand and tightened his cocoon with a sigh. "I don't know. It was different, I don't really remember. I just woke up really scared."

"I'm not very good at this," Emma said apologetically. "What does your mom usually do?"

"Makes me warm milk and sends me back to bed."

"Do you want me to do that?"

"This is okay," he said simply.

"Okay," Emma relaxed, pleased to note that if she wasn't doing this mom thing "right" then at least she wasn't doing it wrong either. She looked at the album she'd discarded on the coffee table and contemplated it in silence, absently rubbing Henry's shoulder as her thoughts wandered back to its contents and the change in the pictures after his ninth birthday.

"Sorry, I know it's dumb to be scared of dreams. It wasn't even because of magic," Henry's uncharacteristically timid voice cut through the quiet.

"Hey, it's not dumb. Everybody has nightmares."

"Even you?"

"Especially me," Emma admitted but hoped he wouldn't press the subject.

"Do you think my mom has nightmares, since she's under a spell?"

Emma pondered it for a second before answering, "No, I don't think the blessing is supposed to work that way. I think it's supposed to make sure she's happy."

"She seems really happy," Henry agreed. "She smiles a lot more."

Emma nodded, they'd covered this already but it seemed to put Henry at ease so she didn't mind that it was a little inane. Besides, hadn't she been thinking the same thing all day?

"Something's making her sad though," Henry told her.

"Why do you say that?"

"At breakfast today we were talking and she looked really sad for a minute, like she used to," he said thoughtfully. "I used to ask what was wrong and she'd always tell me she was fine. She lied a lot."

"Is that why you stopped letting her take your picture? Because you thought she was lying to you?" Emma hadn't intended to get into this now, Henry was already upset and cranky due to his interrupted sleeping schedule, but she didn't think she was going to get a better segue than this if she kept putting it off.

"I knew she was lying to me," Henry insisted crossly.

"About the book?"

"Even before the book."

"Why do you say that?"

Henry sighed again, and sat up so they could talk properly, though he still leaned against Emma unwilling to forgo contact altogether.

"Because it's true."

"Does that have something to do with why you stopped letting her take your picture?"

"Kind of," he admitted. "But not right away."

"Because she lied about not being sad?"

"No," Henry scrubbed his eyes in frustration. After two false starts he began to explain, "Jacen McCandles was my best friend in kindergarten. When I started first grade I wanted to know how come he didn't and Mom told me it was because he'd gotten held back and I believed her. But when the same thing happened in second grade with Mariah Lennox I knew something was up. She always told me that it was because I was so smart but then she stopped coming to my class to read with us and have parties and she stopped letting me play at the other kids' houses. I had a growth spurt and was six inches taller when I started third grade and Jacen was still in kindergarten. I'm not stupid, I knew I was getting older and the other kids weren't. At first I thought Mom just didn't realize, because none of the other teachers did either, but I knew she was hiding something. She kept lying about it and she started making me talk to Archie. We just…quit having fun, so I didn't want my picture taken anymore."

"Is that how you knew she was the Evil Queen?"

"No, it took me a long time to figure that out," Henry said. "For a long time I thought it was Mrs. Audley who runs the city council, but she's Ashley's stepmother and I figured out Ashley was Cinderella so that ruled her out. And then I found out I was adopted and finally realized that my mom knew why I was growing up when none of the other kids were and she was lying to me to protect the curse. Her curse."

"I see," Emma said because she couldn't think of a better response.

"Breakfast was fun. I'm glad you and Elena were both there. I miss my mom Emma," Henry whispered, as if it was a secret and not something Emma agonized over thirty-seven times a day.

"I know you do kid," she sighed.

"Do you think she made the wish because of me?"

"What?" Emma asked sharply, nearly bumping him away in her effort to look at him directly.

"I think she made the wish because of Archie, because she thought that I think that she killed him."

"Kid," Emma started to protest but Henry cut her off.

"No! Grandma and Grandpa didn't tell her he was alive and we weren't there when Cora came, so she helped stop Cora and made the wish so she wouldn't remember me because nobody wanted her and Grandma and Grandpa wanted to punish her."

"Henry I really don't think that's true."

"Don't you?" He twisted to face her and his eyes seemed to cut through her very soul and find every doubt and worry she had that breaking the blessing might not be the right thing to do. She clamped her mouth shut and met his gaze, remembering with painful clarity what Ruby had said about the lies told to protect people being the ones that hurt most.

Regina had said that she'd helped put her mother under the sleeping curse but Snow and David had still deemed it necessary to punish her for the damage Cora had caused, which made no sense unless Snow and David thought Regina had helped cause it. That didn't seem too far outside the realm of possibility to Emma, her parents seemed to believe that Regina's natural tendency was toward destruction. They'd been quick enough to pin Archie's apparent murder on her. But, even despite fairly compelling evidence in their favor, they had been wrong. Maybe they had jumped to conclusions again, maybe Regina had wished for the fairy blessing to rewrite history before Snow and David could punish her once more for something she hadn't done.

Regina hadn't asked, in either of her letters, for Henry and Emma to undo the magic, punishment or not. She also hadn't hinted at whether or not the punishment was deserved or at least just. Maybe Regina had thought a new life with new memories would be a blessing. Maybe she finally had her happy ending and would be pissed off if Emma thwarted it yet again. Though Emma was pretty sure that if she woke up and found out much Henry had missed her Regina would probably forgive her. Maybe.

"Henry, I know Regina would never have wished to forget you," she told him adamantly. "But you're right, I think she might have really wished for the blessing."

"Does that mean we shouldn't undo it?" Henry asked, his face scrunched in consternation that made him, for just a moment, actually look like the eleven-year-old he was and not someone much wiser, with more experience.

"I think you should try," Emma told him honestly. "I think she'll want to remember you, and she'll want to know you love her."

"But if it doesn't work?" Henry fretted.

"Then we'll worry about that when it happens," Emma told him. She had exactly zero ideas to undo the magic otherwise. It wasn't like Regina had any other true loves loitering about and without Regina Emma had no idea how to get Gold's memories back to ask him. Unless Belle had a copy of Blessing Breaking for Dumb Saviors stashed away in her library Emma would be at a dead end.

"Do you think Saturday's too soon to try?"

"I think it might be a little weird to just lay one on her, even after your 'date' this morning," Emma observed. "Maybe you should try dinner."

Henry scowled at her.

"Sorry, kid," she said.

"I figured," Henry groaned as he relaxed back into the couch.

"Can we watch cartoons? I want to think about something happy for a while."

Midnight had come and gone and she knew that even Henry would have a hard time waking up in the morning if he didn't get some sleep but she had enough experience with nightmares to know that Henry was in dour need of some whimsy. Especially after their conversation.

"Sure thing," she agreed and leaned forward to grab the remote off the coffee table. She surfed through channels until she found cartoons instead of infomercials. Then she snuggled back under the blankets to watch with her son.

Three hours later the television turned itself off automatically, but the two people sound asleep on the couch didn't stir.

Notes: I had a plan for this chapter and the muses hated it. I think we've worked it out but who even knows? In any case, thank you for your patience and for reading!

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