A/N: I wrote this more for me than anything else, but I hope you like it, because I'm totally caught up in the story now.
Warning: Rape triggers. (Just like in the show, I might add. I also want to say, this story is not about rape. It starts there because I want to give Regina the chance to deal with the pain from her marriage, something which she is not really given a chance to do on the show. But she will move on, too.)
"My Queen. What a pleasure - though you need not have called so loudly. What can I do for you, dearie?"
"He… I…" Regina stumbled over her words, unable to voice what had just happened.
"It is your wedding night, is it not?"
The grin on his face made the dark haired beauty's stomach churn violently. She gathered her emotions and stood a little taller.
"I require a potion. I am certain you can provide me with a quantity of such a thing."
"And, my dear, what is it that you need this potion to do?"
"To… To prevent me from having his child," Regina whispered.
The hideous imp's eyes widened with glee.
"Well, this is an interesting request. However, I am afraid I cannot comply-"
"No! You must, you must help me. I will do anything… I cannot bring such a child into this life."
"I was not finished. I cannot comply, exactly. Certainly, I can make sure there is no baby. But if I do so, it is very unlikely that there will ever be a baby."
"You are lying. You wish to torture me."
"I am not. But even if I were, your predicament would not be changed. The choice is simple, Your Majesty. Accept my help, or risk having your husband's baby. And if I know King Leopold, he will do everything in his power to ensure you have his baby."
A single tear trickled down Regina's cheek. For there was no choice.
"What is your price?" she asked.
Rumplestiltskin grinned. "Consider it your wedding gift."
Regina narrowed her eyes. "No. With you, there is always a price."
"I will accept nothing. I have a feeling you will pay dearly enough."
"Sign something. I do not trust you," Regina demanded. With a flourish, Rumplestiltskin produced a document out of the air. It was written in intricate detail. Regina read it carefully.
"You knew… You knew I would ask this of you."
"I know you better than you think, dearie. Do you wish to sign?"
He handed her a quill. Running her left hand over her stomach, Regina used her right to scribble her name. Rumple tittered at the movement, then signed his own beneath it.
"How long will it take for you to be ready?" Regina asked, wondering how she would keep the king away from her until then.
"I require no preparation. I brought the necessary tool with me."
"Tool? I thought it would be-"
"There is no potion for this, my dear. Not in this world. You will need to lie down. And you may wish to hold this in your mouth."
He handed her a small piece of wood wrapped in leather. To bite on.
"It will hurt," she stated.
"Yes. I will allow you to change your mind…"
There was an impossible trace of kindness in his eyes.
"No," Regina said quickly. She lay on the floor, staying as far from her bed as possible. Rumple knelt at her side. She put the wood in her mouth, gripping it with her teeth. For a moment, she thought Rumple was about to take her hand. His fingers twitched beside hers, but then he reached into his jacket instead, bringing out his dagger and holding it in both hands. Regina stifled a gasp of fear; she was glad her mouth was occupied.
Rumple nodded at her. She nodded back. To her immense relief, he held the dagger flat over her abdomen. For a moment she had thought… that it would be much worse. He began to chant in a language she did not know, and the dagger glowed a dangerous red. Regina felt a jolt inside her, a jolt which suddenly turned to PAIN. Her eyes streamed, her teeth cut into the leather, her fingernails clawed at the wooden floor. She was being torn apart from the inside out, she was being ripped, violated… And yet, she relished it. For this pain was nothing compared with what she had endured earlier. Rumple was secretly surprised at the strength of the young woman - the girl, in front of him. She was eighteen years old. Of course, he had known what she would ask of him, but he had not expected the courage with which she would go through with the operation.
Finally, he finished, dragging the dagger upwards and holding it aloft until it ceased to glow. Regina lay still, her body covered in a sheen of cold sweat. Rumple wished he had not glanced at her. When he saw her like that, so vulnerable, so brave, so hurt, he almost cared about her. Caring was not a feeling he liked to indulge in.
"If that will be all?"
He did not wait for an answer, disappearing in a puff of black smoke. Regina watched him go, then waited until she had recovered enough strength to stand. She rang the bell for her maid.
It was not long before the bumbling, middle aged woman knocked on her door.
"Enter," she called, imitating the tone her mother used with servants.
"How may I assist you, Your Majesty?" the maid, Johanna, asked.
"I require a bath."
"At this hour?" Johanna could not help but ask.
Regina did not dignify the question with an answer. Johanna hurried to light a fire in the bathroom, as well as the one under the tub. She left to fetch water. Regina's fingers twitched, and for some reason she had the idea of filling it with magic. Her knowledge was pathetically limited, but she could feel… She could feel power in her emotions. She did not allow herself to experiment, however. She was used to waiting, and Johanna returned soon enough, accompanied by two manservants, who poured enormous jugs of water into the tub, then used tongs to take large, hot stones from the fireplace and put them in the water to heat it. It was a bizarre method, but Regina liked the way that the wet stones, when removed from the water again and placed back in the fire, gave the room a steamy quality. Johanna lit some scented candles of her own volition.
"Thank you," Regina said, surprised.
"I… I'm glad you like them," Johanna said. "I found them yesterday, they are a gift."
The sentence admitted nothing, but it made Regina strongly suspect that Johanna knew what she had been subjected to.
"I do not want your pity," she said sternly, but her gratefulness showed through her harsh words.
"It is not pity," Johanna said. "I never had a daughter, but…" she trailed off, blushing.
"What?" Regina asked.
Johanna gritted her teeth, summoning her courage. "You are very young, my Queen. Indeed, you are not much older than the princess. And while you are a Queen, now… I could not begin to put myself in your shoes. But if there is anything I can do to make your life happier, I will do it."
"You deserve happiness, Your Majesty."
"My life was not meant to be happy," Regina said, her voice devoid of emotion. Johanna wanted to grab her and hold her. She would have, if she had not been certain that it would mean she lost her job.
"Everyone deserves happiness," she said gently.
"Thank you for the candles," Regina said. Johanna knew this was her cue to leave. She placed a fluffy white towel and robe on a rail by the fire so they would be warm when Regina needed them.
"Ring the bell if you need anything," she said.
"I will be quite alright," Regina said, working on her hard tone, trying to sound kinder. "It is late. You should go to bed."
"Thank you, Your Majesty," Johanna said. She left the room, close to tears at the false display of strength. Unlike the imp, she had no shame in caring for the young Queen.
Regina locked the door behind her servant, then pulled off her nightgown. She threw it into a corner, where to her shock, it caught fire, burning to dust in seconds.
"It must have been a spark from the fire," she told herself firmly. She tested the bathwater. It was perfect. It smelled wonderful, too. Another gift from Johanna - she had thrown in handfuls of petals and herbs. Regina climbed into the huge tub, feeling the warm water soak into her skin. She traced her fingers over the nail marks on her hips and legs, her bruised, reddened lips, the marks on her neck and collarbone. She felt a scream bubble at the back of her mouth but swallowed it back down, knowing she could never release it.
She took a rough cloth from the edge of the bath and began to scrub her skin with soap and water. She started with her mouth, swishing water around it, attacking the skin until her lips stung and bled. Her tears flowed freely now there was no one to watch, but she vowed that this would be the last time she cried, even alone. Her mother said crying was weakness of the worst kind. She moved to her jaw, her neck, her shoulders and collarbone… When she reached her most sensitive area, her hands were shaking almost uncontrollably. Forcing them to obey, she continued to scrub her skin until it was burning and red. She washed herself over and over, until every inch of her skin was raw. Some marks still lingered on her body and every one of them told a story that would be forever tattooed on her mind. His hands, his belly, his teeth, his-
She squeezed her eyes tight shut, diverting her thoughts. When she opened them again, she watched the flame of one of Johanna's candles. She liked the way it flickered, upward, swaying… Like it was dancing. Regina couldn't remember the last time she had really danced. Even Daniel, the man she might have loved, had not danced with her. The time they spent together had always been stolen. He could never have taken her to a ball.
She laughed bitterly. She had been excited for the ball on her wedding day. She rolled her eyes. The King had been bored, he had not wished to dance, and he had dragged her upstairs almost before it was appropriate.
Thoughts of the King led to more scrubbing and more tears. Regina was glad of the pain from Rumple's curse - for it had been a curse, she was sure. She had taken the only option available, she could never torture a child… She wondered what poor Snow's life had been like. The girl seemed spoilt, annoying, obsessed with her dead mother… But perhaps the mother had been kind. Regina could not really fault the girl for loving her mother, or even for the role she had played in bringing Regina into her life. Snow was a child, she did not understand… And Regina cared for her. Snow deserved that, she deserved to be loved. Every child did. Which was why Regina could not risk having one of her own, not with Leopold.
The fires had died down. Regina could see the morning light creeping through the drapes. She got out of the now cool water and wrapped herself in her heated towel, thanking Johanna again in her head. She dried herself slowly. At least she was clean on the outside, now. Then she put on her robe. She stood still, poised to open the bathroom door. She did not want to go back in there, back into the room where…
She pulled open the door. It was only a room, she told herself angrily. Seeing the bed, she realised Johanna had changed the sheets, even replacing the heavy blankets with new ones. Regina touched the soft wool appreciatively. She still had to sleep in this bed, but at least she had blankets of her own. At least it wasn't the same. She climbed in, so tired, resisting sleep, her heart racing uncomfortably as the memories played themselves back to her yet again, but by concentrating on the fresh, fluffy pillows and the new sheets and blankets, she fell into a restless slumber.
She slept for most of the morning, waking only when Johanna gently touched her shoulder. She flinched away from the contact as soon as she awoke.
"I beg your pardon, Your Majesty," Johanna said quickly, "but the King has requested your presence at dinner."
Regina sat up. "I slept…" she marveled.
"The candles will have helped," Johanna admitted. "I have always found them soothing."
"Thank you," Regina said. "I… Thank you."
Johanna patted her shoulder again, and this time Regina did not shy away. "What would you like to wear?" she asked.
"I can dress myself," Regina said, sounding rather childish. Johanna chuckled.
"I know. But I can fetch your dress for you, and if you like, I will fix your hair."
"Is the King not waiting?"
"It will not kill him to wait a little longer."
Regina had to smile. She had a feeling these small rebellions would help to keep her sane.
"What about this one?" Johanna suggested, holding up an elaborate red gown.
Regina grinned. "How did you know?"
The gown was incredibly low cut. For a moment, Regina considered wearing something else, but she decided this was better. She would show him. She would show them all that her body was her own. Johanna helped her with her corset, then once the dress was on, true to her word, spent close to an hour combing and intricately braiding Regina's hair. Regina had never felt so pampered. Of course, she had her hair done by servants almost every day, but never like this. Never so kindly.
She shuddered when it was time for her to go to dinner. Johanna could not go with her.
"Snow will be there," Johanna said. "She is a good girl. She likes you very much."
"I know," Regina replied. "I will be fine."
"I know," Johanna echoed. "I am very proud of you."
Regina blushed, then hurried from the room. Johanna busied herself clearing the vanity table, making the bed, then going to clean the bathroom.
Regina went to her dinner, smiling sweetly at her stepdaughter, even at her husband. She made herself eat. She was no use to anyone if she was starving. She looked at the King several times, wondering if she could will him into choking. She looked at her knife and pictured stabbing it into his oversized gut. The thought made her sick. But not as sick as the memories from last night.
The meal drew to a close. Regina hoped she could go to her chambers. She wanted to see Johanna, the one person in this palace who made her feel something like safety.
Johanna scrubbed at the bathtub, always a perfectionist. She heard someone behind her.
"I am sorry, Your Majesty-"
"Alas, that is not my title."
Johanna turned to see Cora Mills, standing in the doorway with a cruel smile on her face.
"What are you doing with my daughter?" Cora asked.
"What do you mean?" Johanna asked.
"I have my sources. You are being kind to her."
Johanna could not hide her confusion. Was being kind not a good thing?
"She will like you," Cora clarified. "I need her to need me, only."
"I am only trying to make this time easier-"
"And that will not do. You are lucky I do not kill you on the spot. It would not be the first time. But thankfully, the King has decided to take a honeymoon with his new wife. You will not go with them. You will remain here to take care of the young princess, or there will be tragic consequences," Cora ordered. Johanna trembled.
"Why do you want your daughter to suffer?" she could not help but ask.
"Desperation can be powerful," Cora answered. She went to the corner of the room, running her fingers through a small heap of ashes that Johanna had not cleared away yet. Cora smiled. "Very powerful indeed," she mused.
Johanna went down to the scullery and grabbed the girl she was looking for.
"What did I do this time?" Emma yelled.
"Nothing," Johanna told her. "It is something you are going to do."
"More chores? I do EVERYTHING," Emma said grumpily. Johanna smiled.
"I know. You do not know me well, but you are the right age, and you are a good girl."
"So..?" Emma said, her teenage annoyance showing through.
"So, you are going to be a lady's maid."
"Emma, it is a good thing."
"I'd rather scrub furnaces my whole life."
Johanna sighed exasperatedly. "You will get to see the whole kingdom."
"I'm a homebody," Emma muttered, but Johanna could see that her ears pricked up with interest.
"You will have a whole wardrobe of far more comfortable clothes."
"I don't mind these," Emma said unconvincingly.
"You will ride horses."
"I prefer sleeping," Emma said, but it was clear she wanted the job.
"And you will eat the best food-"
"I'm in," Emma announced. Johanna laughed.
"I have not told you what you will do in return yet," Johanna said sternly.
"I thought the job was the return," Emma argued. Johanna raised her eyebrows.
"You will be the Queen's personal maid-"
"Wait, the Queen? You want me to look after the Queen? Why? There must be dozens of other maids who'd do it, and do it much better than I can."
"I cannot trust them."
"Why can you trust me?" the girl asked.
"Because I will skin you alive if you do not do as I say!"
Emma knew that Johanna was perfectly serious. She was more than used to being threatened with violence. Actually, Johanna had never laid a finger on her, but the older woman's eyes showed that whatever she wanted was a big deal.
"So… What do you need to trust me with?" Emma asked, resisting the urge to be sarcastic or silly.
"I should be going with the Queen, but I cannot. I… I do not want to leave her. I need you to be her friend, I need you to be someone she can talk to."
"Why would she ever want to be friends with ME?" Emma asked.
"You are her age, you have a similar spark… I think she will come to like you. And she needs someone. Imagine if you had been forced to marry the king."
Emma made gagging noises.
"So you want me to go be her maid and what? Hand her tissues when she cries?"
"I want you to be someone she can talk to. I want her to have someone she can trust. You must be a vault, Emma. You must not tell a soul about this conversation, especially not the Queen, and you must not repeat a word of anything she tells you. Also…"
"Beware her mother. Outwardly, you must seem as if you are neutral, even negative, about the assignment. This should not be difficult for you, since you seem negative about everything."
Emma rolled her eyes, but she didn't hate the idea as much as she'd expected. She'd get to see the world. It might be kind of fun.
"I don't even know how to do those lacy things," she admitted.
"You mean fasten a corset?"
"Uh, yeah, I guess…"
"You are a smart girl, Emma. You will learn quickly. There is no time to teach you, the honeymoon party will leave early tomorrow morning. And… Give her a chance."
"I thought she WANTED a friend. Why does she need a chance?"
"She will not be expecting you. And she is rather… Shy."
"Shy's okay. It'll be fine," Emma said comfortingly. Johanna seemed very worried, but schooled her features.
"Yes, Emma. It will be fine. Clean yourself up, I will bring your clothes. You will wake the Queen in the morning, I'll tell you when. If she asks, tell her I am otherwise engaged."
"I have already told the King about you. He has agreed; he knows it is you."
"Does he know I'm a scullery maid?" Emma asked incredulously.
"He does not," Johanna said shortly. "And no one ever will. Because you are not a scullery maid. You are a lady's maid."
Emma leaned against the wall, looking down at her calloused hands.
"This will work," Johanna told herself. "Emma?" she said as she left the room.
"Yes?" Emma spat.
"Be good to her." Johanna sounded almost pleading.
"I will," Emma said lightly. Johanna gave her a look. "I will!" she repeated, promising this time.
To Emma's surprise, Johanna came back into the room and gave her a tight hug.
"Thank you," she whispered.
A/N: I know I already have 3 fics on the go, but I had this idea and I couldn't get it out of my head. Emma is just a random orphan, she isn't Snow's kid or anything. I don't really know what's going to happen next, but I always go towards swan Queen, so whatever happens, you can be sure of that. Please tell me what you think!