Inspired by the song Human by Christina Perri.
Author Disclaimer: "Once Upon a Time," the characters, and situations depicted are the property of Adam Horowitz, Edward Kitsis, Kitsis/Horowitz, and ABC Studios. This piece of fan fiction was created for entertainment not monetary purposes. Previously unrecognized characters and places, and this story, are copyrighted to the author. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author. This site is in no way affiliated with "Once Upon a Time," ABC, or any representatives of the actors.
There's nothing left. Everything in her line of vision dims, bleeding out into blurred shapes, as the world stops slowly around her. She's lying on her stomach and she can feel the sharp shards of the ice chandelier sinking further into her back as the force of gravity pushes downwards. Blood seeps into her clothes and a trickle of it traces the apple of her cheek as it makes its downward descent. There's blood. So much blood.
Swimming on the edge of consciousness Regina realizes she's dying.
She's not as angry about it as she thought she'd be.
No she blissfully closes her eyes tiredly it is a relief. Elsa cries desperately beside her, whispering over and over No, no, no, no. The ice that is slowly creeping up her body doesn't even bother her, because she was already so, so broken when she came to try and speak to the girl. Rumple had killed her sister. The Dark One had taken away Regina's only blood relative and even if she had been evil, hell bent on destroying her, at least she hadn't shared her. Zelena had always been hers. Henry wasn't hers. Graham wasn't hers. Roland wasn't hers. Robin wasn't hers. She enacted the curse with nothing and she'll die with nothing.
She laughs, spiting out blood against the frozen floor, Zelena's curse had destroyed her and maybe when she meets her in the afterlife she'll tell her so. Maybe for once someone in her twisted family will congratulate her. Love her.
But…her mind whispers Zelena never succeeded. The Wicked Witch had never killed hundreds of innocent people, never even enacted the dark curse, for all her claim of wickedness she'd merely succeeded in terrorizing the citizens and turning them into monkeys. She's the more innocent of them. Purer then Regina will ever be, albeit green with envy; but she's probably somewhere nice where Cora is congratulating her for punishing her useless child.
"Please," begs Elsa desperately now, "tell me what I can do. How do I break my curse!" Her hands shake and Regina can barely register them in her line of sight and there are muffled cries that reverberate in the distance.
"It's not a curse," she gasps out, "it's a gift. You weren't born evil Elsa," she's so tired, "you aren't evil."
"Accidents happen," she attempts a smile but her lips can't form one and her body is growing so cold. Her fingers nothing but icicles at her sides. "This isn't your fault." She breathes deeply. She'd seen the girl's magic so bright, so light, she just needs training. "Think of Anna, think of how much you love her, think of how much she loves you and your gift."
"She loved it," the Snow Queen echoes. "She used to love sliding around the halls."
"Then think of that, hold that moment and release the snow." Her voice is barely anything more then a breath and her body is covered in blood but she mercifully can't feel the pain. She can see Daniel walking towards her; maybe she does deserve happiness. "Let love free you. Let your talent be a gift that brings light and hope." Suddenly the weight from her back is gone and Elsa's hands desperately cling to her back. Even as the ice recedes from her veins she sees Daniel's smiling face and Death's comforting embrace over the woman's lean shoulders and she reaches for it.
"I'm sorry, sorry, sorry," cries Elsa again.
"Don't be," replies Regina. She thinks of her stable, of kisses that tasted of grass and summer sunshine before frowning as she's pulled backwards. A tug painfully dragging her away from the black wings that wish to embrace her and the scent of forest suddenly invades her nostrils with pungent persistence. She fights it, violently kicks against the strong arms that bind her, the thin fingers that grip hers.
"Let me go!" she wails seeking out the eyes of Daniel who fades before her. "Please! Please!"
"You can't die yet, dearie." The Dark One again. Again, again, again. Not this time. Not again.
With strength she doesn't even realize she possesses she concentrates her magic blasting the accursed man and the entire rescue party away from her with a protective barrier. "Not this time, imp." She sighs as Daniel comes back into fuzzy focus. "You don't get to take this away from me."
"Regina!" yells Snow and she thinks Emma is crying her name too but she hardly cares. For once, for once she will write her destiny.
"Mom!" She winces at Henry's desperate voice and physically feels the blows he pounds against the barrier. It'll disappear when she does and she knows better then anyone there is no magic powerful enough to bring back the dead. "MOM!"
"I'm not your mother Henry," she breathes the effects of the healing spell dissipating. They have prolonged her departure but not abated it. She laughs hollowly. "Rumpelstilskin is more your family then I." It hurts to say it but even the most malicious wizard in the realms shares more of a visceral connection with her little prince then she does.
She feels the ice melt beneath her and at least she has helped Elsa. At least she has stopped the eternal winter, at least she was a hero to one person. Henry's pounding continues and Regina knows that soon, soon, soon, she'll be free but she tenses when a new fist joins her son's rapid ones. Calloused fingers gingerly caress the barrier surrounding her and she gasps at the tenderness that accompanies the action as a forehead presses against the shield.
No. No second chances. Not again. Her broken heart can bear no more.
"Regina," he pleads. "Regina please don't do this."
"It's your majesty," she sobs chest heaving as her breathing becomes labored again and getting air in becomes harder.
"Your majesty there are no words to convey what it is like to loose you."
"Hurray, comes to mind," she mutters sarcastically. "Please," Daniel comes closer, "please let me go."
"I can't do that," the pressure is firmer against the shield. "I choose you."
"No, you don't," she chokes tears leaking from her eyes freezing on the face of her too cold body. "I killed Marian. I killed countless. Go be happy and rejoice in the death of the Evil Queen. I don't want an obligated love." Daniel flickers before her and she can make out the freckles on his nose. Zelena too. Her sister, her sister is smiling, and her mother, her heartless mother is smiling at her.
"Is that what you think this is?"
"I think your sense of honour is valiant and good but giving crumbs and taking pity on a broken woman is cruel." Closer and closer, her father joins them and soon, soon, she'll be free. She'll have love and family.
"You're killing me, Regina," his entire weight settles on the shield, pressing, pressing and she gasps as her senses are overwhelmed with the pressure; the line of his body pressing against her own in comforting familiarity. Henry is screaming, louder and louder, and everyone is also yelling at her attacking the shield, clawing at it, but their voices are lost to her as her mind focuses solely on the man who she had thought was her destiny. He will be happy. She thinks selflessly. She will assure him about why she is the wrong choice, the poisonous choice that will destroy him, and then she will take Daniel's hand.
"I choose you Regina. Don't leave me. I am not a strong as you."
"We're wrong. Marian will make you happy. Live for her and Roland. I am nothing but the withered husk of a failed woman who took her anger out on the world. Go. Away."
"Marian loves anew." She blinks her weary eyes open at that news. "I love anew."
"Then love again." Daniel kneels before her and Regina smiles at him. Her blood has dried and her body is ready for this surrender. Begs for it.
"What of soulmates?"
"We all get second chances." She wheezes. Death is at Daniel's side and Regina cries in relief at the sight.
"You are my second chance, Regina," utters Robin reverently, "You are my only chance. Regina, please!" It is a moment of weakness that her barrier let's him slip through, she just wants to feel something one last time before she says goodbye, and Robin races towards her, again collecting her into his arms. His hand forces her chin towards him but her eyes seek Daniel's. They are so blue but not that blue she thinks, as he fades away and a new face replaces his boyish one, instead she sees one that is rugged with work and stubble covered, mouth curved with mischief.
"No, no, no, please," she cries trying to grab at her stable boy's face again. But Daniel is gone and Robin's is there and it is kissing her, blue eyes boring into hers focused and stern, hands supporting her. "Please!" His face is broken and sad as she struggles against him.
"No," he presses her forehead to his, "no. I am selfish. I need you. I won't give you up."
"No one needs me. No one even cares, all anyone ever does is cause me pain." Her family is gone, receding, bleeding away, because the kiss, the wretched kiss is healing her. The wretched curse of true love is trying to claim her ending.
She screams in his embrace, fights against his unrelenting grip, and he holds her. Holds her tight and steady and kisses her again and again swallowing her anguish meeting every cry with one of his own.
"I'm sorry. I will fight for you. I won't leave you alone until you let me back in you stubborn woman. I won't just watch as your world falls apart. I'm sorry. I'm sorry."
It feels like hours of him rocking her, both of them crying, but then everything comes into focus and even, even if she believes his words, she can't. She's not ready to be that vulnerable again.
He watched her fall apart.
Watched her stand alone against the anguish of knowing her only relative had been murdered by her own mentor. Had said nothing to protect her from the town's accusations that the storm was her fault, that somehow this was her revenge for Emma finding Marian. Even if he wasn't hers, he had not even defended her from each spiteful word they uttered that she was still the Evil Queen. She had meant so little, their relationship had been so insufficient, that even the good thief Robin Hood let her fall into despair.
She stares into Robin's eyes, which crinkle at the edges, and promise her happiness but they had promised it to her before and even if he loves her, even if she is his only chance, even if Marian and he are separated, her heart is broken and the knives are still embedded deep and they are an aching final reminder of why she cannot, will not do this.
"Robin," he grins boyishly and happy. "I'm only human. I can't."
And she disappears in a cloud of lilac smoke.