A/N: In case you missed it... this is the second of a two part update today. Please be sure to read the previous chapter or you will have no idea what is going on.
"I have to, Regina. I have to…"
"You have to what, dear? You have to what?"
Emma's eyes fluttered open and she was peering into worried brown orbs. "Regina?"
"Yes, it's me. You scared me to death. Now when I tell you not to touch… don't touch." Regina smirked at the blonde but her voice was laced with care.
"Don't touch?" Emma finally began to register the room around her. She was lying in a bed in Storybrooke Hospital, machines beeping around her. "What… what happened?"
Regina stood and smoothed her jacket, the same she'd been wearing when she took Emma to her vault to find a book they needed. She tucked a loose lock of black hair behind her ear and sat on the edge of the bed.
"What happened is you touched something after I told you not to and disappeared. I thought you were dead… or gone. And how was I going to explain that to our son? You are lucky I don't kill you myself for being such an idiot." Regina huffed and tried to sound angry but Emma knew she had been worried.
"How long was I gone?"
"Hmmm, not long. I searched the vault and then I used a locator spell on one of your gloves you left lying on the chest where you found whatever it was you touched. You were in the cemetery. I poofed us here immediately because you were not conscious. So… twenty minutes?" Regina shrugged.
"Twenty… only twenty minutes?" Emma's voice squeaked as she spoke. She'd been in the Enchanted Forest for a week at least.
Regina cocked her head and looked at Emma strangely. "Yes, I'd estimate about twenty minutes. Your pirate and the two idiots haven't even arrived yet."
Emma stared at Regina in absolute shock. Twenty minutes. Had it been a dream? Was she like some modern day, magical Dorothy and only dreamed of her days in Oz? Tears began to fill her eyes. No. It couldn't have been a dream. She loved Regina and Regina loved her. It had been meaningful and powerful and… Emma's eyes flew up to Regina's in shock. Their kiss had caused the crystal to work. It had to be real… not a dream.
Regina frowned now and put a hand on Emma's forehead as if feeling for a fever. "Emma? Are you alright? I had better get Dr. Whale." She stood from the bed and hurried toward the door.
"Don't leave me, Sweet Orchid." Emma barely whispered the words as her heart sank in her chest. It hadn't been real. She was still with Hook. Regina didn't love her. It was just a dream.
Regina froze in the doorway, hands balled into fists at her side. "What did you just say?"
She hadn't even turned to look back at Emma as she spoke. Emma shook her head and wiped at her teary eyes. "It was… it was nothing, Regina. Just something I dreamed."
Regina turned slightly so Emma could see her profile. "What did you say, Emma?"
The blonde took a deep breath and dropped her head in embarrassment. "I said…" She cleared her throat. "I said… Regina this is silly. It doesn't matter what I said."
Regina turned more fully now and gritted her teeth. "What did you say?"
Emma looked out the window by her bed, her eyes filling with tears again. "I said, don't leave me, Sweet Orchid."
The silence in the space between them housed only the faint beeping sound of the machines around them for a long moment until Regina's trembling voice sounded, as soft a whisper as Emma's had been.
"I'd sooner forsake the sun and moon, my Honeysuckle Rose."
Emma gasped and her eyes shot to Regina's. The woman was easing slowly toward the bed.
"Emma Swan… how do you know those words? I've never told those words to anyone! How do you know those words?!"
"It was real? It wasn't a dream?" Emma couldn't believe what she was hearing.
Now Regina gasped a ragged breath and held a slim arm protectively across her middle, the other hand covering her mouth. "It was you? But how… how could it be…"
Regina stepped ever closer to the bed, her own chocolate eyes filling with tears.
Before another word could be spoken between them, a cacophony of sound filled the air around them.
"Emma? Emma! You're awake! David, she's awake!" Mary Margaret breezed past the frozen figure of Regina Mills and sat gingerly on the bed by her daughter.
"I can see that, Snow." David smiled as he eased next to his wife and smiled down into his daughter's shocked and tear streaked face.
"Aye… and looking no worse for the wear, Swan. Just as lovely as ever." Hook swaggered around the bed and leaned down to kiss Emma on her forehead.
Emma looked past them all as if they weren't there, still staring at the woman standing perfectly still between the bed and the door. "Regina?"
Henry bounded in the door and dashed past his mother to his other mother's bedside. "Ma! Are you ok? Mom sounded pretty upset when she called."
Emma looked into the sweet face of their son and smiled. "Oh, Henry! I missed you." She pulled him into a bone-crushing hug and looked back toward Regina over his shoulder.
The fading wisps of purple magic were the only thing there. Regina was gone.
~ (SQ) ~
Emma had endured poking and prodding by the nurses and Dr. Whale for several hours. She had allowed her mother to fuss and pet her like a child. She had even endured the waggling eyebrows and inappropriate comments from Hook. But then she reached her limit.
She checked herself out of the hospital and sent them all home. She was fine. She could drive. It was a magical mishap and she was going home… right after she took Henry home to Mifflin Street.
And talked to his mother.
Henry had texted Regina to tell her he was on his way home. Emma was surprised when, after trying in vain to find an excuse to go inside with her son, Henry had informed her that Regina wanted to talk to her. While Emma hung their coats in the hall closet, Henry dashed into his mother's study and then back out again. He'd gone to tell her goodnight.
"Night, Ma. I'm glad you are ok." He hugged his blonde mother on the landing at the foot of the stairs and bounded up to his room.
Emma watched him go until the bedroom door clicked shut. She swallowed hard and stared at the slightly ajar door to the study. She'd had a glass of cider there with Regina the night they met. How long ago that seemed now.
"Come in, Miss Swan. We need to talk." Regina's disembodied voice floated on the air and set Emma into motion.
Stepping into the room, she saw Regina sitting on the sofa, staring into the fire. A tumbler of cider in her hands. Emma eased the door closed.
"You know, I was devastated when she left. I had never felt anything like I felt about her. And seeing her… you… sucked into that vortex and away from me forever… it made me hate magic even more than I already did." Regina hadn't taken her eyes off the fire as she spoke.
"Regina, I—" Emma tried to interject.
"The irony of it all is that when Daniel arrived, I was so broken and so lonely because you were ripped from my arms that I clung to him and his affection more than I probably would have if you hadn't come." She turned now slightly to look at Emma and patted the spot next to her on the couch. She sat her empty tumbler on the table and sighed as the other woman sat down cautiously. A dark laugh left her red lips and she smiled sadly. "And when your mother told my secret… I was ripe for the picking when Rumple came along. Not one but two people who loved me and wanted to protect me had been taken from me."
"Regina…" Emma started again.
"Don't you see the humor in it, Emma? You were taken from me and that made me rush into Daniel's arms. He was taken from me and that made me so full of rage I was willing to sacrifice everything to punish the ones who wronged me. And then I found the only real happiness I'd ever known in the form of a tiny piece of you back in my arms."
"Henry." Emma said with understanding.
"Yes," Regina said, turning tear filled eyes to the woman beside her. "Henry. Our beautiful son. So I cannot regret anything that happened after I met you. It brought us him. And I've been sitting here thinking about the words you said, how you had to go, how you'd ruined everything when you thought you couldn't return here. You were thinking of Henry, weren't you?"
Emma nodded, her eyes now glistening with tears as well. "Yes, I was. I didn't want you to suffer if I could stop it, but I knew... I knew you had to go through all those things or it could cost us the most important person in both our lives."
Regina smiled a sad little smile. "I'm not angry with you, Emma. You did the right thing. And in the end, I tore you away from the people who loved you most because the people… the person I loved most had been torn away from me."
"Daniel." Emma said with sad finality. Of course it was Daniel who she had always loved, who she would always love.
Regina tilted her head to the side. "No. You. Daniel set the wheels in motion, but it was losing you that started the emptiness in my heart."
They both sat in comfortable silence for several minutes, leaning deep into the cushions on the couch and staring at the dying embers of the fire.
"So… what are we going to do about it now?" Emma said, afraid of what the answer might be but needing to hear it just the same.
"I don't know, Emma. I suppose you will go back to your pirate and I will go back to… being alone. It makes no difference who Emmaline was. It's so long ago now." Regina looked at Emma with pain in her eyes.
"It wasn't so long ago to me. And… I don't want to go back to Hook and the way things were. I…" She hesitated. Was she really about to say this? "I love you, Regina."
"Hmm." Regina grunted. "You love that innocent girl you met crying by a tree. A sweet, innocent flower. You don't love this hateful, thorny rose."
Emma shook her head and reached to touch Regina's face as a tear fell from dark eyes. "But you are so wrong. I do love the innocent girl. But the whole time I was with her, I longed for your fire. I ached for your rough edges. I'd have given my life to hear you call me an idiot or to see your anger when I do something stupid. Yes, I love the Sweet Orchid but more than anything, I love the rose… and all her thorns."
Tears now cascaded from Regina's eyes and Emma's hands held her face so she couldn't look away. "I love you, Regina. Every single part of you."
Summoning every last ounce of courage she possessed, Emma pulled the other woman to her, gently kissing her lips. A strangled sob escaped Regina's lips as she returned the kiss. After a moment, Regina's fingers wove into blonde locks and she deepened the kiss. A world of color exploded in Emma's mind and her heart raced in her chest. Her body filled with light and love and for a moment she was unsure where she ended and Regina began.
Breathless, Regina broke the kiss and rested her forehead against Emma's. Tightening her grip she moved to resume her kiss, but first whispered quietly against Emma's mouth.
"I love you too, my Honeysuckle Rose."