I'm undertaking the challenge of eradicating mature content from this work. If you would like to see this work unedited look for it at A03 please, but the entire work is not posted there yet. This is a very long work, please bear with me.

Regina lets the wounds on her arm fester.

In daylight the wounds are covered with black silk, lace, or whatever else remains untouched in her wardrobe after so long away. The rich fabrics feel foreign against her skin now, but they make an excellent shield against prying and curious eyes.

Not that there are many prying and curious eyes at all to guard from, but there is at least Snow. Pure Snow White, who is still so infuriatingly good after everything she has lost, who still finds it within herself to smile, to laugh…

Regina stares at the deep furrows maring her arm in the night. She should be sleeping but she can't. She leaves the wounds open to air in the night and keeps them for a secret for her eyes and hers alone. The long gashes have no hope of closing without stitches. They are framed in angry pussing red. She thinks she deserves the pain.

Henry, her sweet child, is gone, and she suppose she deserves that pain as well.

It is not quite as dramatic as stealing away her own heart or pricking her finger with a cursed sleep, but somewhere in her mind she knows these wounds are more final. Infections are no laughing matter, especially here, where a medicine man and some herbs is your only protection from death.

Regina doesn't want to die. Henry wouldn't want that. Yet she still she lies in her bed at night and watches her arm grow into a gruesome sight.

She does not cry.

Regina is surveying a map in conference with Snow and her ragtag council when she faints for the first time. It comes on rather suddenly. The voices in the room become a distant sound as she blinks rapidly. She starts swaying gently from side to side as spots of color light up her vision. She feels a hand clasping just above her elbow and she hears Snow's voice is in her ear before the sound of blood is rushing through her head becomes impossible to ignore. Regina stares with blank eyes at the concern Snow wears so beautifully. Then it's dark.

Even after she regains consciousness she has to struggle for a few moments before she can open her eyes. She has sprawled inelegantly onto the cold stone floor. Snow has followed her down and is kneeling at her side. Charming, his brow creased as if he is confused, hovers over his wife's shoulder.

They watch, Grumpy and three of his brothers, Granny and Red, Snow and Charming, others too, as Regina struggles to sit up. And it is a struggle. Just to sit up leaves Regina out of breath and dizzy. Snow has her hands out as if to offer help but seems to think better of it; Snow shuffles away on her knees when Regina reaches for the table edge.

Regina knows what she must look like, sweaty and pale and pissed off, it's no wonder no one helps her. No wonder at all.

"Regina, are you alright?" Snow asks. From her tone it's obvious the idiot girl has already figured out the answer.

"Fine," Regina answers. Her voice shakes, her voice sounds weak even to her own ears.

Regina stiffens her jaw and attempts to stand. Everyone takes an immediate step back as Regina pulls at the table edge; they watch as Regina stumbles over herself twice before she has the strength in her legs to hold herself up. Her legs tremble.

She takes in one deep breath and raises her hand from the table. There's sweat dotting at her hairline and she already knows she is going to faint again. But not here, please not here. Regina stumbles her way out the open door of the chamber.

"Regina, wait-" Snow says as she climbs up and chases after.

Regina keeps walking and does not listen as she passes through the doorway.

Only one corridor away and she is forced to hold herself up against the walls. It's slow progress towards her bed chambers. The halls are almost empty, almost, she passes people by, but she has to work so hard to even stay conscious that what they must think, that they think her weak, is pushed violently to the back of her thoughts.

She's staggering like a dizzy drunk and her breath comes quick and sharp. The wall seems frighteningly far away even though her hand rests on it still.

The colorful bright spots creep back in from the edge of her vision.

A sharp tug on her skirt has her turning her head, but her world is already black. She hears the voice of a child, but the buzzing in her ear blocks whatever question was asked.

Her eyes roll back into her head and Regina falls to her knees. She has the half formed thought that this must be so frightening for a child before she has no thoughts at all.

Regina wakes in her own bed, groggy and sluggish, she curls to lay on her side. She pulls her knees in towards her chest as sense returns. She's in her nightgown. She's covered in sweat and feels disgusting.

It takes a long while for her to be able to catalogue her own body. A gasp escapes her mouth when she feels the pain. Her whole arm is on fire. It aches so badly. It hurts more then when her sister's freakish monkey had first clawed it open. From the elbow down to the base of her thumb her arm is wrapped in fresh white linen. Her brow furrows, confusion and heaviness courses through her body.

It feels as if something has been stolen from her.

Dear Snow White has stolen another ending, this one not so happy, but an ending all the same.

Is that what she craved? It isn't what Henry would have wanted.

The groan of a chair comes from the corner and as fast as her tired, abused body will allow Regina swishes her eyes to see the thief striding towards her. His clothes are stained bloody with splotches all over and Regina has the vague remembrance of being held down, of screaming, of crying, as her wounds were ripped open, as corruption spilled out and out and out, until finally a medicine man had put some herbs down and had sewn ugly stitches into her skin and wrapped it all up. The memory flows over her almost too fast for her to follow. She closes her eyes and tries to breath through sudden nausea.

But Regina can't remember Snow being there, and Regina is sure Snow would have been if she had known. She would have been their with a disappointed frown and those sweet doe eyes and she probably would have cried. Snow must not know and for that Regina is grateful. Disappointment from that little girl would be to bitter a pill to swallow at the moment.

"You scared my son," the thief says by way of greeting. When Regina finds the strength to open her eyes she finds him merely a foot fall from her bed. His eyes are hard and his shoulders tense. She doesn't have the strength to speak. She's tired. She's hurt. She can't think.

His stance does not waver. How long will he wait for an apology that's not on its way, she wonders.

A shiver racks her frame and her knees draw closer to her chest without conscious thought. It's a fetal position and her eyes slip closed once, twice, and she can't will them open again.

She hears a sound from him, some worried sound, and then the thud of boots fall towards her before a warmth is draped around her shoulders. She sleeps.

Weak and dreary sunlight filter through her dark curtains the next morning.

She does not leave her bedchambers.