Graphic here: tmblr . co/ZVRwvr1TiBKHK
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
A/N: Sorry that it took so long but here you go! :) Let me know what you think!
Regina was alive. She was alive. She had survived that day all those years ago. She is all to familiar with the power of dreams and that was her. That was Regina. Did that mean her parents were alive too? She lets a stray surge of hope flow through her, just the thought of seeing them again bringing her to tears.
"Emma? Are you alright?"
She remembers where she is, still wrapped in his arms. When she turns to look at him, he's looking at her the way he does, all soft things and tenderness. She feels like just his gaze is enough to make her feel like she's bundled in a soft blanket, warm, safe. Her vision blurs further as she leans in to kiss him sweetly, wordlessly attempting to thank him for letting her feel this way. His arm around her shoulder wanders into her hair and his hook begins to stroke her waist.
"M'okay. Go back to sleep."
She kisses him again, both of them falling back into her pillows.
She rises with the sun and tries to spend as long as possible in the hazy in-between before she fully wakes. Her head rests on his chest, his arm around her waist, resting on her hip. She runs her fingers through his hair, feeling the softness of it, scratching his chest gently. She revels in the feeling of being able to let go this way around someone. She hasn't felt this way since-
She hasn't felt this way since before.
She knows it has to end.
She makes herself scarce before he wakes, disappearing into her library. She needs to find Regina. If Rumplestiltskin is holding her captive, finding her is going to be the least of her problems. She looks through her parents' logs on all their dealings with him.
(They'd begun keeping them after a while, in order to warn future generations of rulers about the consequences of dealing with a man like him.)
But, all she manages to find are memories hidden in the pages, in her mother's hurried scrawl, in her father's sweeping letters. She remembers playing on the carpet in this room as a child. She had always loved it, something about all the books and the cozy chairs had made her feel safe. She recalls the sunlight streaming in through the large windows, her father's hand ruffling her hair as he moved to sit in his chair to read. She remembers crawling into his lap and insisting he let her read as well and when she had fallen asleep halfway through a treaty with their neighbouring kingdom, she remembers his voice through a haze of sleep.
She feels the shadow of his kiss on her forehead.
The book in her hand lays neglected as she loses herself in the memory. She doesn't notice him until he is standing right behind her and she feels his breath on her neck. She knows it's him, nobody else would dare. It hits her again, how different he is from anybody she has ever met before. She shuts the book and speaks without turning around.
"Good Morning Captain, I didn't think you'd recover this quickly after last night. Craving more?"
Her voice is clipped, her tone curt. She puts as much disdain as she can manage into it, hoping to drive him away, hoping to avoid facing him.
"In any case, I don't have time for you right now. I suggest you occupy yourself elsewhere."
She moves back towards the shelves as she speaks, replacing the book in her hand with another. She hears him follow, his normally heavy footsteps muffled by the carpeting. His hand is soft as he runs it through the ends of her hair and she knows that if it were any other day she would have him pay for his impudence but today she is soft. Today, she is vulnerable and she lets him.
"Why were you dreaming about the Evil Queen?"
Her eyes fall shut and her grip on the book tightens. She has known him all of two months and he already reads her better than almost anybody she has ever known.
His voice is low and smooth as he continues.
"You screamed her name in your sleep, love and a lesser man would be jealous after the time we'd had."
An involuntary smile breaks across her face.
(She doesn't deserve this.)
(He is nothing.)
She schools her features into something resembling indifference before facing him. He's standing so close-too close- to her. She fights the urge to touch him, to trace the curve of his lips, the bridge of his nose, to feel the way she did that morning.
(Like she was loved.)
"You would do well to mind your own business, Captain. Now, please leave before I'm forced to take more drastic measures."
She loosens her tight hold on her magic a little and allows it to escape from her fingertips, dancing between them in little sparks. She watches his eyes flicker to her hand but he doesn't back down, takes a step closer. His fingers grasp hers gently and he gasps as the magic touches him but his eyes never leave hers. His body stands straight, his gaze holding a challenge.
She jerks her hand out of his and takes a few steps away from him. She sees something like disappointment in his face but barely notices it past the overwhelming heat coursing through her body. She doesn't know if it is anger or shame or some mixture of both but she needs him to leave now. She moves her hand in an arc and he is suspended, pressed against the nearest wall.
"Don't test me, Hook. Just because I haven't disposed of you yet, doesn't mean I won't."
She lets him drop and he falls to the floor in a heap. She sees that he is about to speak but before he can get a word out, she leaves the room, door swinging on its hinges in her wake.
"It's all about-"
"Emotion, I know. Saying it over and over again is not helping, you know."
Regina smiles tightly at her and she reciprocates with an overly sweet one. She's been trying to teach Emma how to use her magic to see things happening far away, scrying she calls it. But all Emma's been able produce for hours has been a fog that sometimes swirls into vague shapes before promptly vanishing all together. Needless to say, they're both quite frustrated.
"Well, princess, it's the the most important lesson and at this moment the only one I can give you. Try to imagine clearly what you're trying to scry. You have to want it."
She tries again. She thinks of honey brown curls and a soft lilting voice. She thinks of a red cloak and a feral smile. She misses them. They're supposed to be her godparents but it's always felt like they were her (much) older siblings. When Regina is telling her yet again how she isn't good enough, she tries to imagine what Red would say.
(She's probably bite her. The thought always makes her smile.)
Graham would ask her to be patient, she's got a lot to learn and Regina is her best bet. The Snow Queen is a serious threat and Emma would be an invaluable asset if it ever came down to a war. Regina knows this and it's the only reason she pushed for a treaty to begin with but, gods if she doesn't wish she could turn into a werewolf occasionally when she really begins to grate on her nerves. The woman is nothing if not infuriating but she has her moments of candour that make her believe that they may be more similar than she thinks.
Right now, is not one of them.
She sighs and opens her eyes, expecting to see more fog and the usual amount of nothingness but a gasp leaves her lips as she watches Red walking down a forest path, her hood up and a basket in her hands. The image changes quickly and there's Graham, drinking at a tavern.
"There you go. You're not as incompetent as I feared."
She's not completely convinced that Regina isn't the one responsible for all the dreams she had been having of her past. They had in fact started quite recently, rising in intensity and frequency until her little episode in the forest the other day with Killian.
(Hook. He is Hook.)
(He is nothing.)
Walking about her throne room, she tries to plan her next move. She had always hated this place. Even before, when it had been covered in lush fabrics, full of warm alcoves to sit in. She'd never liked it. This was where her parents changed from being Mama and Papa to Their Royal Highnesses and even though they never expected her to sit with them or take any sort of interest in the matters of the kingdom, she still resented the room for taking her parents away from her, even for a little bit.
After, she had stripped the room of all it's paintings and carpets, leaving the bare minimum. All that remained had been a bare, cold, empty room echoing with screams of despair, with pleas for mercy.
The sound of her heels clacking on the naked floor echoes as she paces.
Regina is clearly under Rumplestiltskin's control and unwillingly so, it seemed. She needed to rescue her but that involved finding a way into Rumplestiltskin's castle. She could always barge in and demand that he release Regina. She had enough confidence in her magic to do so but she's not sure if she wants to confront the Dark One unless absolutely necessary. So, stealth would be the way to go and the only person she could think of who could accomplish that was-
Her mother had told her of her time as a bandit, living on the run from Regina when she was 8 and it had captured her imagination like nothing else. She had dressed herself in whatever approximation of a bandit costume she could manage and insisted on living in the woods. Despite multiple people attempting to convince her to come back and live in the palace, she hadn't agreed until Red had come out and told her that she would be joining Emma and they couldn't see Mama and Papa again because they were the king and queen. Bandits and royals weren't friends. She had run straight into the throne room where her father had been holding court and run into his arms, calming down only when he promised her over and over that he would never leave her.
Red had always known her so well, she had always known what Emma needed. She had been there for her after, soothing her and holding her. She had stayed even after Emma had changed, even after her magic had become her master. But, seeing her everyday had taken a toll on Emma. The redness rimming her eyes, the happiness missing from her voice. Graham hadn't been any better, disappearing for hours into the woods and returning late at night. All it had done was remind her of what she had done.
(Graham had always said that it wasn't her fault, but she had never believed him.)
So she had sent him away. Her sweet, kind huntsman. She had screamed and shouted and commandedhim away from her court, and Red had left as well.
They would know. If there was anyone in the world who would know how to get into Rumplestiltskin's castle, it was her parents' closest friends.
He is waiting for her by the stables, readying a horse for travel. Her heart stutters in her chest. She feels a pang of panic at the thought of him leaving, some vague feeling of loss.
(How could she lose something she's never had?)
(He is nothing.)
"Leaving, Captain? I don't recall giving you permission."
He turns to see her walk up to him. He gives her a small smile and shrugs before he replies.
"I came here of my own will, your majesty. I don't think I require permission to leave, do I?"
She's not sure what to say. He's been with her willingly for so long that it had never occurred to her that he might leave. She could keep him here, it would not take much but she like her toys to be willing to be with her, willing to play with their lives like that. He had always been different. Singular and outrageous. She begins to say something but he interrupts her.
"In any case, I would never leave you quite so abruptly, my queen. I'm simply going to accompany you."
Her mouth opens involuntarily, she shakes her head and gathers herself. He's smirking at her now, his eyebrow high on his forehead.
"How did you-", she cuts herself off, cringing at her stuttering.
"You may not have noticed, but I'm quite perceptive. Now, where are we headed?"
Her anger flares again, her magic itching to be used.
"Don't speak of things you know nothing about, Hook."
She clenches her fists and moves to her own horse. But suddenly, his hook is at her elbow, pulling her back to him. She spins around, ready to teach him a lesson in consequences when he takes her hand. He is soft and gentle as he interlaces their fingers.
"I may not know much but I know this. Rumplestiltskin was here to see you and you haven't been yourself since. Here is what you don't know. I did not come to you to buy myself revenge for my brother. I came to you to get to the Crocodile. You are the only one in the realm that he will speak to with any degree of grudging respect. You are the only one he doesn't treat like his plaything."
His words are spoken softly, sincerely. She knows she should shrug him off, but she finds herself transfixed by his eyes. His eyes that never leave hers.
"I came here to learn what I could about him so I could finally avenge my love."
She'd seen it of course, but she'd never bothered to ask him about it. What they had, what they did, there was no place for tenderness there.
"Aye. Let me come with you. At worst, I will die in whatever quest you have decided to undertake and at best, I will get my revenge and you will have a loyal and able soldier at your command."
She unlaces their fingers with a jerk of her hand and steps back, turning to get on her horse. Her mind reels with the implications of what he'd just revealed and she speaks before she has thought about what she is saying.
"What are you waiting for? We have a long way to go."
She isn't sure if this is the best decision she has ever made but now is not the time to contemplate it.
She needs to find her godmother.