A/N: Hey everyone! I've been working on this for a while, and I have all of it pre-written so should be uploading every few days.
I got the title from a line of a song which I'm using in a few chapters time, and it's also in the play list which I've made to go with this fic with all the songs from each chapter (plus a couple extra) which you can find on 8tracks ( /swarklesinstorybrooke/it-doesn-t-always-have-to-be-beautiful-swan-queen)
Warning: Mentions of depression, an identity crisis and a lot of angst (don't worry, I've thrown in some light hearted moments aswell). Rated M mainly for later chapters.
Disclaimer: I don't own the show, the characters or any songs used. (if only I did!)
You see trouble in her eyes
And you've noticed, but only realised
It's not fading how ever hard you try
Cause it's built in her for her life
'I'm not alone'
You said 'I'm not alone'
-Lucy Rose, Night Bus
She didn't see it coming until it was too late.
The wolf was in front of her, in the blink of an eye. It had been a long time since Regina had seen a wolf in Storybrooke, and at the sight of one padding along the road in front of the car her and Henry were currently travelling in, she'd slammed on the brakes.
Since the death of Graham, and particularly since she'd decided to live up the 'hero' title she'd been coveting for a while, she'd been cautious to stay true to her promises. A long time ago, she'd promised Graham she wouldn't allow wolves to be killed, and if she really, truly, wanted to be good, some desperate sliver of her mind thought that saving this wolf would bring her true heroism.
Of course it didn't; and as she pressed the brakes, the car began to skid on the wet road, and spun out of control. Regina threw herself in front of Henry, who closed his eyes in anticipation of the impact as the car went crashing into a tree, before it all went black.
Emma came bursting through the doors of the hospital, her heartbeat so loud she was sure the whole world could hear it, and her eyes searching frantically for Henry or Regina, or failing that Dr Whale.
"Whale!" she exclaimed desperately, spotting him from the corner of her eye.
"Sheriff Swan." he walked over to her, using what seemed to be an attempt at a comforting tone, "no need to worry, Henry is absolutely fine. It looks like Regina shielded him from the worst of it."
"Can I see him?" Emma begged, wanting to see him for herself before she could relax.
"Of course, right this way." Dr Whale beckoned her to follow him along the ward. Emma found herself subconsciously scanning every bed she went past.
"Where's Regina?" she asked suddenly, realising who it was she had been hoping to spot.
"We've put her in a side room. She was a little… distressed."
Emma's heart sank heavily into her feet. "She's ok though, right?" she asked cautiously, afraid of the answer.
"As I said, she suffered the brunt of the force. She's suffered some pretty severe head injuries, a couple of cracked ribs, and she's very weak, but she shouldn't have any permanent -physical- damage."
Emma noticed the inflection. "Physical?"
"Amnesia is not uncommon with injuries such as these. Memories usually return though, so there's no need to worry." The calm tone of Whale's words evoked a burning anger in Emma's chest.
"How much doesn't she…"
"Everything." Emma had known Whale could be blunt, but he could have least have attempted to soften the blow.
"She has no idea who she is, Sheriff Swan. Mayor or Evil Queen." The pair continued to walk in silence for a moment, the weight of the words hanging in the air, before arriving at a bed occupied by Henry, who was sat cross-legged on top of the covers reading a comic book.
"Hey, Mom." he called out to her, smiling a little as she enveloped him in a tight, warm, thoroughly embarrassing hug. "Calm down, I'm fine. Plus, I got all these comics for free!" Emma couldn't help but smile at her son's silver-lining optimism, even as the tears threatened to spill down her cheeks.
"Sorry, Henry. I was just worried." Emma knew she should be relieved, but she couldn't ignore the niggling feeling still crawling around inside her.
"How's mom?" It was as if Henry had, as he always does, read her mind.
Emma stumbled on her words. "She's… uh… she'll be fine, kid. Try not to worry."
"Dr Whale mentioned amnesia to a nurse earlier.." Henry's brow furrowed and Emma mentally scolded Whale's problems with tact.
"Look, I'll level with you." Emma perched on the end of Henry's hospital bed, regaining composure with a shaky breath. "He's told me the same. Amnesia can be a short-term thing after accidents like this, though. If you want, I'll see if I can go and check on her for myself." Though Emma was desperate to see the woman, the thought absolutely terrified her. Before Emma could consider this any further, however, she heard the sound of hurried footsteps and panicked shouting before her parents came into full-view, rushing down the hallway towards them.
"Oh, thank god!" Mary Margaret looked ready to collapse as she saw Henry, and immediately began fawning over him.
"Henry's fine." Emma confirmed. After a few more moments spent encased in hugs and sweet exchanges in her still-bizarre family situation, Emma was able to wrangle herself free.
"How's Regina?" David asked, picking up on Emma's fixed worried expression.
"… She has some memory loss. Well, all memories." Emma exasperated herself with her tone. Her parents both gasped with horror, and as David rushed to Dr Whale to check on Regina himself, Emma was once again struck by truly how far Regina's relationship with her parents had truly come.
"Can she… talk and everything?" David was asking cautiously as Emma joined the pair.
"Yes, she can. It looks as if her procedural memory, as in things she's learnt; walking, talking, reading, writing, is all unaffected. Miraculous really, but then with the added magic element it would have been impossible to predict the outcome of a head trauma. Which is why we're reluctant to make assumptions about the future."
"Can I go see her?" Emma interrupted, pacing between the two men agitatedly.
"Sheriff, I really don't think that's a good idea."
"No." Emma retorted, evoking a shocked expression on the doctor's face. "She's my son's mother. I need to know she's ok." After a lot more insistence from Emma, with the occasional pitch-in from her father, reminding Dr Whale who was truly in charge, he relented.
"Please, try not to upset her. It took a lot of sedatives to calm her down."
"And as we agreed, don't mention anything about the Enchanted Forest." David reminded his daughter. "She's the mayor. That's all she needs to know. Gods only know how she'd react if she knew she was an evil queen.
"She's not." Emma winced at the reminder of Regina's former life, and braced herself as if for impact before entering the door to her room.
The sight of the woman lying on the bed sent Emma crumbling into the chair to the side of the door. Never had she seen a person look so fragile and small, surrounded by pale pillows and beeping monitors. Her hair was laid perfectly out on the pillow and with her eyes lightly closed Emma couldn't help but draw a comparison between Regina in front of her and the picture of her mother under the sleeping curse from Henry's book.
Emma spent a minute or two sunk into the chair, watching Regina's chest rise and fall as she took in shallow breaths before deciding to talk to her.
"I.. um… you look good, Regina. I don't know what I was expecting, but you look like you just came from the damn salon, for crying out loud." she closed her own eyes, trying to block out the situation and allow her thoughts to freely flow out into the open. "Thanks, for Henry and everything. Whale said you were trying to save him, and, yeah. Thanks. I know you don't remember me, but I really wish you would right now so I could.." Emma stopped abruptly as Regina's dark eyes fluttered open unsurely, and she seemed to sink further into the bed.
"So you could what?" Regina's voice was hushed and weak, and she looked at Emma questioningly. Emma could sense her trying to gauge the status of relationship between the two of them.
"Never mind. It doesn't matter. I just wanted to check you were ok, and you probably want some time to get your head round all this, so I'll leave you to it." Emma got up too quickly, and almost stumbled over the chair leg.
"Wait," Regina tried to sit up in bed, but found herself too weak and allowed Emma to guide her back down under the covers. While Regina's physical strength was obviously affected by the accident, Emma was struck by how much smaller she seemed, stripped of all her confidence and bravado. "Thank you. For coming to check on me." Regina offered, at a loss to what she actually wanted to say.
"Anytime." Emma smiled down at her. "Get some sleep. It's Emma, by the way." she thought she saw a flicker of recognition flash across the woman's face, but as soon as it appeared, it was gone.
"Goodbye, Emma." Regina sighed, settling back down into bed as Emma watched, before leaving the room and closing the door quietly behind her.
Emma was rattled. Seeing Regina like that, so stripped of everything that made her her was almost like seeing the ghost of her. She felt compelled to protect her; the powerful queen stuck in a hospital bed with no-one to help her, no memories to console her and nobody to keep her company.