Regina blinks. She breathes deeply in and looks around. They are ...outside and everything around is lush and green and verdant in a way that Regina recognizes as not real. But she blinks again...and she forgets.
"Who are you," Regina says with a shake of her head.
A woman stands in front of her, a short woman wearing a shade of lavender that pops beautifully against her dark skin. She is dark like the night sky, and twice as beautiful. She smiles. "It's alright, I get lost sometimes too. It is part of the curse."
A violent slam of memories shoves itself like an icepick behind Regina's eye, she flinches and gasps. And then she blinks, but she doesn't quite forget. "The...curse?" she breathes. She digs for one of those violent memories, diving deep into her brain and it is so, so hard to swim through with every breath of this sweet ancient air breathed in. "The curse," she says once she's caught it. Her sister, the green bitch, and the curse that had taken them back to Storybrooke, the curse that had meant to rip her happiness apart, the curse that had meant to rip her baby from her. Her baby, where-
The woman nods, and laughs, a sound so sweet. "I'm afraid we all have our own curses, it is usually the fate of those like us."
Regina blinks, both her hands over her belly, her belly is flat, why should that feel so strange? "Like us?" Regina questions. She takes a step forward over soft ground. The air smells so sweet and this world is so green.
"Witches," the woman says. She has deep dark eyes, and hair that is a crowning glory around her head. "The dead ones curse us for what they say we stole." Her smile dims sadly, "but perhaps such things belong to a different time. I can't remember now, did I defeat the dead ones?" She lets out a soft laugh with a shake of her head and says, "but if that were so who would have cursed me?"
"I'm confused," Regina breathes, she cinches her eyes shut and still her hands are flat over her flat belly. Robin, where is Robin-
The woman steps towards her and raises a hand in the air between them. A shining gem pops into existence above her palm. Regina can feel the heat and light of the gem and she opens her eyes to see. "This is my heart," the woman says with her head tilting to study it.
For only a flash it's not a gem at all, not an enchanted heart either, for just a moment, a slice of a second, it is a pulpy mess of muscle that oozes thick blood onto the woman's palm until it overruns and streams down to the ancient dark soil beneath them.
Regina blinks. There's a shining gem in the woman's hand. "You've placed my heart inside you, Regina. Even the Ancient Darkness only wore me in a pouch on his belt," the woman says with a soft smile. She has kind eyes and a beauty that is otherworldly. "There is great power here that you must only embrace."
"I...need to defeat my sister," Regina takes a deep breath and tries to think, she tries to remember.
"Embrace me," the woman says.
Regina looks inwards and swallows hard. She and Granny had arrived at the vault. They'd descended the hard stone stairs. There had been pain lancing across Regina's lower back but she'd ignored it- Granny showed her the gem. The heart. Regina had held it and sunk it into her chest-
"All the power that was mine, will be yours. I was the strongest witch of my age, of any age. Think of the power. It will fill your blood with strength. Take my heart."
Regina shakes her head minutely. "Who are you?"
"My name is…" the woman trails off and for the first time some turmoil appears behind her eyes. She frowns and looks down at the gem in her hand (it is a heart, blood gushes from it, where does the blood pump from, blood, so much blood, a river of it, blood red like the iron banks of the Weeping in the enchanted forest, Regina will drown in it.)
Regina blinks and a light from within the gem shines and shines and reflects in Regina's eyes.
"I suppose I had a name," the woman says. Her voice is quiet. "I had a mother, and many sisters who must have called to me. I had a beautiful wife with a shining soul and she called me-" the woman flinches. "I can't remember now. It's been so long."
There's a fog over Regina's mind. Something in the sweet air makes her want to gag.
"I am of the past," the woman with a name no one remembers says. "But I can help you with your future. You've already made the choice, Regina, you placed my heart within you, but you cannot have my power without embracing me."
Regina shakes herself, "What does that mean? To embrace you?"
"After you use my power and remove my heart from within you, I can leave this place. I can be at peace after so, so long."
"But what does it mean?" Regina asks.
"My soul is tethered here, to this mortal thing that was torn from me so many millennia ago." She squeezes her fingers around the heart in her hand, it gives a squelch and gushes blood. "To embrace me would transfer my soul to you, and when your time of need is done I ask you to free me."
"Your soul is tethered?" Regina remembers from so long ago, another tethered soul. She shakes her head. "I am not strong enough to free you." Thaemtonum, a spell her sister cast- her sister, where is she. Regina can't see from the fog in her mind- "Thaemtonum is only a spell I've read of in old books, I can't even know if what you're saying is truth-"
The woman laughs, "Spells have names now?" she asks in confusion. "And hold such rigid rules apparently. It is unnatural to put limits on yourself, Regina, your power comes from within you and is limitless."
Regina falters. She is not strong enough to beat Zelena on her own. Zelena is the stronger witch. The sweet air is in her brain.
"Would you...be able to control me?" Regina asks.
"Of course not," the woman assures.
There are no words needed, for as soon as the decision is made up in Regina's mind the world around them melts away, like a facade made of wax. The verdant green and healthy soul melts in viscous clumps to reveal the horrible prison it really is. It is cold, so cold. It is wet and dripping, and vile creatures scutter over Regina's feet and squirm and pull in her hair. A crushing weight falls in Regina's lungs as the sweet air leaves and underneath she can smell the rotting stench and standing before her is no longer the beautiful dark skinned woman but what remains of her. Her skin is bloated and discolored. The soft tissue of her mouth has been eaten away and her teeth look shockingly white against the horror. Her mouth does not move. "Embrace me." She launches herself at Regina.
Regina's feet are stuck. Her body will not move. The gem is now a rotten thing, not a heart at all, it is a rotten mass of sludge that is grey and green and toxic. It stinks. Regina gags and lifts a hand with great effort, but it's all worth nothing when the corpse steps in close and slams what had once been a heart through Regina's skin and ribs and muscle and leaves the mess there in her chest cavity.
The scream that tears from her mouth reverberates in the vault.
"Regina!" Granny yells and grabs her shoulders.
Regina's eyes open wide. Her fingers come up to claw at her chest.
"Girl, what is it?!"
And then Regina stops. She exhales and starts to shake. It's like she'd standing on a live wire. The power she suddenly feels makes her dizzy. Her hands come up to her face and she threads her fingers back into her hair. Her pupils are wide.
Granny shakes her, "Tell me what's going on!" she demands.
"I'm alright." Regina shakes and shakes, tremors under skin. The power in her blood makes her heart beat beat BEAT against in her chest.
The baby kicks.
Regina cradles her belly and soothes the little foot still pressed against taut skin. "It's alright," she repeats.
"You screamed like you were dying! Is the baby alright?"
"The baby is fine," Regina assures her. Her voice is vague. It's like she is far away. The power in her blood thrums through her brain. The power makes he forget the horror of seconds ago. Rumple had worn the heart on his belt and destroyed a castle with nothing but a thought. Regina has the heart within her and she could destroy the world. Every breath feels alive. She is gone from Granny's hands in a cloud of smoke.
Granny screams after her, but Regina can't hear.
Regina appears in Snow's loft and barely registers the three shocked faces that greet her. She needn't even raise her hand to snare Zelena in a sudden and incredible grip that tears Zelena from the chair she'd been sitting in. Zelena gasps, the grip on her tightens and and her lungs are empty. She starts to fight desperately, but it truly is completely useless.
Snow is screaming Regina's name. Regina turns her head to glance at her. "I-" but whatever Regina was going to say is gone. The power inside her doesn't let her speak. Regina still shakes, and she doesn't need to, but she raises her hand before her, with her fingers gently curved. Zelena slams down into the floor without a sound escaping her mouth, her legs break with audible snaps. Zelena's eyes are already bulging. Broken capillaries in her eyes shine bright red. She can't breath.
Emma steps between Regina and Zelena. Her hands are raised. "Whoa, you can slow your roll," Emma says.
Regina shakes her head, but even with the foreign power inside her she knows she can't merely sweep Emma aside. Emma. Henry's...mother. His other mother. Regina blinks and her hold on Zelena loosens enough for the other woman to draw in a breath.
"I-" Regina shakes her head. Blood is rushing through her head so loud.
Emma takes a step forward. "Regina, I think you got this under control." Her tone is calm, a forced calm just like if a perp had pulled a gun on her. "Hey, can you tell me what's up? How are you-"
Zelena tries to lash out with magic, the attempt would have been enough to knock Regina on her ass...before. But now all it does is annoy her and with a snarl Regina smashes Zelena out through the window and then back in. Snow screams and jumps as Zelena is cut to ribbons and begins to bleed. The sounds she makes talk more of anger than pain. "You bitch," Zelena gurgles. "You- you fucking bitch."
The glass from the broken windows rises up from the floor. Emma takes another step forward and reaches out to touch Regina's arm. "Regina, can you please take a breath and talk to me? I'm not into torturing people."
Emma squeezes softly on the meat of Regina's arm and the glass drops back down with a crash. "Yeah, you're alright. You've got her under control. Take a breath."
Regina takes a deep breath. The heart beats so strongly in her chest that it hurts. Zelena dangles in the air a foot of the ground, her broken legs hang grotesquely.
"You're glowing and you're hair is floating all over like you're underwater. I don't know what you did, Regina, but you're freaking me out," Emma says.
"I am the heart of the kingdom," Regina says. She chokes it out.
Snow gasps. Zelena titters out a cruel little noise, "You fool, you-"
Zelena gasps and her eyes are literally ripped out of her head. She screams and screams, the eyes are still attached by strands into her brain.
"NO!" Emma shakes Regina, "I mean it! I will not be a part of torturing anybody! Either kill her or leave her!"
Regina, she gasps suddenly. A little bit of her brain clears. She looks to Emma and her face twists. "I didn't mean to-"
"Can you put them back in?" Emma says. She's back to being calm.
In a moment Zelena's eyes are right back where they belong. There's no sign of trauma around her face at all. Tears leak out of those newly returned eyes and Zelena's snarl looks more like she's choking back a sob.
Regina takes a deep breath and snaps Zelena's legs back together. Healing has never been her best skill, but the power she uses isn't her own and it truly could do anything. She could destroy the world. She wants to destroy the world, gods how she wants to feel the blood of the world that had abandoned her run through her fingers she wants the world to bleed she wants to watch it burn, she could do it she could destroy the world- she could destroy it now- her power is limitless in this vessel she thought she'd never have a mortal form again, the blood in her veins feels warm and gushing and so so free, she could-
Emma turns to her mother. "How long since David texted you? Does he have Robin yet?"
Regina gasps. She shudders and nearly drops herself down on her knees. The grip on Zelena never loosens but Regina snaps the fog from her brain in an instant at the sound of Robin's name. She'd been swallowed up. Thoughts and feelings that aren't her own are invading her brain. Thinking of Robin helps. Feeling the baby kick helps.
"Oh god, Regina, what did you do?" Snow comes up beside her and hesitantly grips her forearm. "Is the baby alright?"
"The baby is fine," Regina snarls.
Zelena laughs, bolder now. Tears are still wet on her cheeks. "Is this one going to make it then? I can't understand how desperately you want some squealing brat attached to your tit."
"You," Emma rounds on her with a finger raised, "shut the fuck up."
Zelena laughs, she sounds suddenly unhinged.
"Now tell me, was this a planned child or did your whorish ways get the better of you?"
Regina feels like she's in an oven. There's sharp pain in her back that she focuses on. The pain is hers, that pain is because of her daughter. The heart inside her is trying to suffocate her with pain from centuries ago. It almost overtook her. She can't take the heart out yet. Zelena would escape.
Zelena wriggles uselessly and snarls at Snow. "There's still time, you know. For you to run off to the the Blue Fairy. She'll take care of this one like she did the rest. Wouldn't it be better for the baby to die then to have a mother like this?"
"What are you saying?" Snow holds her phone in her hand and she's desperately calling David again and again. He isn't answering.
"What are you talking about?" Regina snarls, hand over her belly now, to comfort herself as much as to try to protect the life inside.
Zelena smiles a smile full of spite, her face pinched, those lovely blue eyes bloodshot and rimmed red. "You believed all those children died within you for no reason?"
Regina shakes her head, sharp little movements, she repeats her question, quieter, deadlier. Tears are growing in her eyes and she refuses to acknowledge them, even in her own head, but they are angry tears, the result of too much all too soon. The heart inside her is powerful but it's pain too, centuries of a dead woman's agony and sadness, the more Regina holds it in her body, the more she succumbs to it, the more her own pain blinds her. And here Zelena is talking of one of the worst pains of her life.
Zelena's lip sneers up. "You would have been a mother how many times over?" She scoffs. "Three little needy brats, or four?"
"Don't you talk about them," Regina spits out. Her hand moves to strike again in another loss of control that would have ended with Zelena's head snapped clean off her body, but it's Emma that grabs her to restrain her.
"Your children were murdered." Zelena looks down at Regina's bump, and rolls her eyes, she's still fighting the magic that will never let her go.
Emma, "Regina, let's set up a cell with some- wards or something and dump her in there. There's gotta be a way to hold her. Alright, we have to talk about what to do with her. You've done a good job. Come on, talk to me."
Regina hasn't heard a word. "Murdered?" Regina repeats, with her voice quavering. The heart inside her has seen her weakness. She's beyond controlling herself, she'd spent so long wanting those children, and then mourning them, she'd spent so long living with the absolute pain of thinking she was toxic, that her womb was toxic, that it was her and her love was what killed those babies. Her babies. The blue boy is called up from the depths of her mind, the beautiful son that had never made a sound. The heart inside her screeches out a terrible sound and another baby, a beautiful dark skinned baby flashes in Regina's brain. She feels the pain, she'd lost so much too, the urge to destroy itches at Regina's fingers.
"The Blue bitch," Zelena cackles.
Emma tenses, Regina can feel it in the hand that Emma still has around her bicep, but some sort of calm washes over Regina. "Why?" she questions, why would the fairy, the scaly dead eyed thing under that pretty face, want so badly to kill Regina's children? Over and over, death after death, why-
The heart inside her screams.
Zelena looks like she's lost her mind.
"How do you know that?" Emma questions sharply. She steps away from Regina, she steps in front of her. "This could be some bullshit you're spitting out to keep us fro-"
"Do you remember the first one?" Zelena says loudly, she drowns out Emma's voice. "Do you remember how your dear husband, the King, dragged you before her and asked for her blessing?"
Regina sucks in a breath through her nose, she straightens her spine. "How do you know that?" She tries to fight the heart inside her. She needs to tear the thing out.
"There's a spell to show the past, to see the truth. That old man Farouk would know it, it's his kind that needs be sacrificed to cast it. I know all about you, dearest sister. I know every dirty little thing about you. I know about that darling blue little baby. What did you name him? Joshua. As if the King would have let you name your own children. You were nothing but his whore, nothing but his broodmare-"
Regina blinks and shakes her head. She won't let the heart control her. But she can't see how it sneaks its tendrils out and manipulates her.
"That is absurd!" Snow suddenly barks out. "She's lying."
"I'm about to find out," Regina says.
Regina slams Zelena down into the floor and all around her symbols etch themselves into the rough hardworn wooden floor of the loft. Zelena screams a high scream and lays there, not able to move even an inch. Regina is gone in an instant, leaving Emma gripping empty air.
Miles away and barely a second later Regina's eyes shine purple as she looks up the convent steps. The heart says burn it, but Regina shakes the thought away.
The power of the centuries old heart, the heart of a Queen long dead, it thrums inside Regina's chest as she bursts Blue's doors down.
"Your Majesty," is the cool welcome from the fairy. The rage inside the heart becomes focused. It's not the world it wants to burn, it's Blue.
"You know why I'm here?" Regina can tell by the look on the dead thing's face, that waxy smile, those empty eyes.
"I have my suspicions, certainly."
Regina takes three steps inside the room, a dark mahogany lined room, the carpet a deep rich red, the inner sanctum and study of the Mother Superior, but that's a mask, as much as the pretty face is. A vision, of centuries ago, a millennia ago, of a slimy thing slithering from the banks of the Weeping before it was a river, marshland, boggy and stinking of death, of wanderer's lost in the night and never seen again, the heart thrums out a screech of horror and of seething hatred, Regina sees it, feels it, in a flash, still confused, but certain the fairy before her is an evil thing.
Fire wants to grow in her palms, her whole body feels alive with it, even the baby seems agitated, ready to fight, not since the height of her time as the Evil Queen has Regina wanted someone to suffer so badly. Suffer as she had done. Suffer so much that death would seem easier, seem better.
"Did you murder my children?" Regina asks, she hears a gasp behind her, in the hall, from beyond the still open doors hanging dangerously off their hinges. One of the other fairies, or more, are in the hall, they are all scaly underneath their masks, she wonders if they are all dead inside, if they are as evil as she suspects Blue to be. Only evil murders children, only evil sends children to their death, Regina had been evil, and she recognizes it now.
Blue's eyebrows raise, not in surprise, or outrage, amusement almost, flippantly she cocks her head to the side as she stands from her chair. "You only have Henry, Your Majesty, and I assure you I would not touch a hair on his head."
"In the old land," Regina seethes, taking another step, "the King and I's children, the one he asked that you bless, did you kill them?"
"What madness is this?" Blue huffs out a breath, but her face isn't right, has she always been so poor in imitating the emotions of people? "You come here to destroy my property," she sweeps a gesture at the broken doors, "to threaten me?"
"I came here to kill you," Regina corrects, the heart in her chest, not her own, it ripples out power, she can feel each wave of it flowing over her, thrum thrum thrumping against her rib cage. Destroy, it whispers, destroy.
It's Tink, wide eyes pleading, jumping in from the hallway, she reaches for Regina's hand.
She's blown back, she strikes the wall so hard the drywall cracks and breaks. Tink gasps and coughs, crumpled on the ground looking dazed, but stands in seconds. "Regina, you're not yourself!"
"You're protecting her?" Regina seethes."After what she's done?! Do you even know what she is?!"
Tink takes another step forward, limping and grimacing. "I can see that thing inside you, Regina, you're losing control! It's warping your mind!"
"No," Regina shakes her head, long hair bouncing, tangled and a mess now. "No, I'm finally seeing the truth! She murdered them, Tink!" Tears blur her vision before she angrily swipes them away, in that second of distraction Blue tries to disappear. Regina feels her trying to pull in magic and lashes out, she tears the gathering magic apart with only a thought, and she relishes in the pain filled sound Blue emits.
"I believe you!" Tink screams, her hands raised as she takes another step, and another when Regina raises her hand, her fingers curled as if tightly wrapped around a throat and in response Blue begins to rise off the floor. "Regina!"
The heart, Regina almost feels the presence of the woman behind her, a shadow behind her every move. Dead things, the woman says, they are dead things.
Blue snarls and the blast of magic she emits next is enough to blast Regina and Tink both back. Blue always had such a pretty face, it's not so pretty after Regina lashes out with sharp stinging magic and tears a chunk of skin off. There are scales underneath. Blue screeches and in a flash the skin is regrown. Regina launches forward and tears and tears and tears with strength and power that isn't her own. The heart inside her screeches and an answering call tears itself from Regina's throat.
Blue tries to defend herself, attack, and regrow her skin all at the same time. Regrowing her human mask is what she gives up on first. Regina tears and tears and there is never any blood.
"Is this what you are Tink?" Regina snarls. There are slashes on her body, and blood on her clothes. She has completely and totally forgotten about the baby. "Is this what you are inside?!"
She and Blue have blown out the wall of the office now. Blue stumbles out onto green grass. She looks winded and angry.
In a moment that is impossible to decipher, Regina finds herself with the upperhand. She uses every ounce of power within the heart to grab at Blue and trap her. Blue's struggles are far more powerful and fervent then Zelena's had been.
Regina sobs out a breath and falls down to one knee with both her hands held in front of her. She lowers them slowly.
The baby isn't kicking now. The absence of that near constant sensation shocks Regina's thought process awake. Regina presses her hand against her belly and isn't gentle when she prods against it. If the baby gets agitated with the constant prodding she'll start to kick again.
Tink steps forward and stares with true horror at Blue. Blue is a dead thing hanging in the air. A rotten scaly thing that stinks of death and snarls with a vertical mouth and nasty long fingers twice as long as a humans.
"Is that what you are Tink?" Regina sobs out. The baby won't kick.
A gaggle of other fairies climb out the demolished wall. Every single one of these delicate little fairies nearly gags at the sight before them. One even faints.
Regina nearly falls down in the dirt. The baby won't kick. She isn't moving. She's killed her baby. The sob that overtakes her isn't something she can control. After fighting both Zelena and the Blue Fairy, and letting some ancient power overtake her, she is utterly exhausted. She's also bleeding and beaten. Every blow Blue sent her way is being felt now that her adrenaline and the hearts control over her is fading.
Tink sinks down on her knees next to Regina and lays a hand on her back. "Regina? We didn't know. We didn't know."
"What are you underneath?" Regina sobs.
"I promise you we aren't that!" Tink swears. "I promise you Regina we aren't whatever that is!"
Regina shakes her head frantically, her water just broke. Suddenly all the discomfort she's been in all day is making a very scary amount of sense. "The baby," Regina grits out.
"Is she okay?" Tink asks.
"She's coming," Regina grits out. But the baby won't move. She just killed her baby.
"You need to take that thing out of your chest right now," Tink says, still in that commanding tone.
But Regina is still in her own world, panic twirling up her spine, each breath feels as if it's being pulled through a tiny straw, she's getting dizzy. She needs Robin.