So the idea for this came from one of @freifraufischer‘s herd of anons, and then @sometimesangryblackwoman gave some prodding to get it written. Anyway, post-ep in which Henry sends the other Regina a care package of things from the modern world, and makes the mistake of soliciting suggestions.
A couple weeks after sending the Evil Queen off to a fresh start and a chance at some happiness, Henry writes her a note. It’s mostly to tell her they’re all okay, that they’ve survived the latest peril which has so marked his adolescence. She’d want to know, he thinks. He tacks on a post-script about his grades, fully aware that she won’t be pleased about that, but hey, there was an epic battle going on and a few nights where he was out late saving the world instead of studying algebra. Surely she can forgive him that.
It’s a one-way form of communication, but it’s the least of what he owes her. Every once in a while, he pens another note, telling her about the situation with Violet and how the horses are doing and everything he thinks she might want to know. It’s not enough, but it’s what he can do.
He’s taken little Neal to the park to give Snow and David some time to themselves and is thinking of what to say to his other other mom when he hears what the mothers in the park are saying. Princess Aurora is laughing about one of the first times she used the internet for shopping. “I couldn’t believe it. You just tell it what you want and it arrives! Better than magic, if you ask me.”
“It still comes with a price!” Ashley says, and the women all laugh.
It gives Henry an idea.
The family is having Thanksgiving at the Mills house. It’s the one holiday they all really embraced after the curse was broken—Mom loves to cook, Snow loves to decorate, and Emma loves to eat, so it’s perfect for their quirky little family. The night before, Henry informed them all that he could use his abilities to send things, modern conveniences she might miss, to the other Regina, so if they had any suggestions he was certainly open to them.
The table was stunned for a minute, but soon they were coming up with all kinds of ideas. Before long it devolved into a conversation of the old days in the Enchanted Forest, and sometimes about the things they missed during the year when Henry and Emma were in New York. But on Thanksgiving itself, Emma calls him aside. “Hey, kid, you haven’t made up your magical care package yet, have you?” she asks.
He shakes his head. “No, I wanted to see if there were any more ideas.”
“Right. So this might be a little embarrassing, but trust me, it’s necessary.”
She hands him a slip of paper and walks away. On the note are two items.
For half a minute Henry wants the earth to swallow him.
He shoves the embarrassment as far back as he can and tries to be sensible. Emma’s right, probably—okay, definitely, since he has no idea what this is like and she does. But ugh, he wishes the pen would let other people write down their seriously personal suggestions instead of him having to do this.
Half an hour later, Snow calls him away from football with the guys to the dining room, where she’s putting the finishing touches on the table. “Wow, Grandma,” he says, “it looks great.”
“You think so?” Snow replies. “I keep thinking the flowers are too tall, but I guess not everyone’s as short as me. You’re not even as short as me anymore.”
He grins by way of apology. “So what do you need help with?”
“Oh, I was actually going to give you another idea for the other Regina. I don’t want to embarrass you, but…”
The words aren’t even out of her mouth yet and Emma’s note may literally be burning a hole in his pocket. Why isn’t there ever a sinkhole when he really needs one?
He stammers his thanks and hopes he isn’t blushing.
Dinner is great, even if he can’t quite look a couple of the women in the eye. He stuffs himself on mock-apple pie (Mom’s idea of a joke), and when Mom gets up to wash the dishes, he follows her to help. The others try to protest that she shouldn’t be cleaning up when she did most of the cooking, but she waves them off, knowing she likes things done a certain way.
Henry knows her system, though, so he can help. The others clear the table and let mother and son get to work. As she washes and he dries the china, she says, “There’s something very important you need to add to your list for… the other me.”
“Ugh,” he says. “I know, Mom. Emma and Snow both talked to me about this, okay? I know. Chocolate and… the other thing.”
Mom looks at him with this expression, torn between laughter and incredulity. “The other thing? Come on, Henry, the word won’t hurt you.”
The ground beneath him betrays him yet again, refusing to open and put him out of his misery. “Chocolate and tampons,” he mumbles.
With a soapy hand, Mom pats his cheek. “That wasn’t so hard, was it?”
Seriously, he’s going to crawl into a cabinet and live the rest of his life in there as a hermit.
“Have you got a piece of paper?” she asks.
“Good. I want you to write this down.”
“Mom, Emma already gave me a note with this, so it’s not like I’m going to forget.”
“No, I want you to write down the actual brand. These things are not to be left to chance.”
Mortified, he obeys.
In that other place, Regina is between encounters with the angry young king—she’ll bring him around yet, she knows—when she gets a box from her son. It’s thoughtful and kind and makes her heart so full she thinks it must burst. But in the bottom there’s another box, wrapped in brown paper. Henry has scrawled a note on it. They said you needed this.
She laughs so hard when she opens it that she literally falls out of her chair.
My poor little prince, she thinks. You must have wished the earth would swallow you whole.