Author's Note: So it's been awhile since I've posted on this site. Once Upon a Time has really inspired me, however. This particular story was written for crackedeggie on LJ, who wanted a piece focused on Regina. I started off less than the world's biggest Regina fan, but I have since grown to love the complexity of her character as the show continues, and writing this really made me appreciate her more. This is my first piece for Once Upon a Time, and my first piece of completed recreational writing since graduating from college. Thank you for reading! Any feedback is most appreciated. :)

Disclaimer: I don't own Once Upon a Time, or any of the characters, names, places, etc. associated with it. This was written for recreational purposes only. I'm not making a profit off of this. The title comes from Laura Marling's "Hope in the Air."


No Hope In The Air

The old wind mill looms large in the moonlight. Even as Regina quickens her pace to pass it by, she can still make out the rotting wood and the gaping holes in the sails out of the corner of her eyes. She tries to focus on the decreasing streetlights on the other side of the road, the artificial brightness and the easy way it yields to the myriad of shadows surrounding it, as lightness must inevitably succumb to darkness.

But the night is cold, and the wind winds its way through her thoughts as the sails begin to turn. Her entire body tenses at the gradual creaking, which sounds so much like an old man's dying breath. Unwelcome thoughts of a young girl in rags and her ambitious father filter in with the cold wind. She grinds her teeth and clenches her hands into fists by her side, not even aware that she had come to a complete stop. She cannot afford her emotions even one inch of leeway; the flood of hurt it'd unleash would never cease.

And Regina would not let pain rule her, not now when her curse finally succeeded. Not while she denied Snow White the happy ending she herself had never obtained. Snow White was miserable and separated from Charming. Regina has Henry. Emma...well. Emma would be dealt with. Eventually. No, the old wind mill cannot affect her now. She is happy, taking her daily midnight stroll without a single soul by her side. She is happy.

"Fancy meeting you here."

His voice blows hard against the barricades of her thoughts, much like that stubborn wolf's attempts to get at the three pigs. But like the last brother, she is made of stronger stuff than straw or wood. Her face hardens itself automatically as she pivots to face the tall man with the long hair and even longer smile that sharpens the amusement in his dark eyes.

"What do you want, Mr. Gold?" She says, her left foot tapping restlessly on the pavement. Her frown increases at the sight of his smirk. She still doesn't know how much he knows, and that fact in and of itself causes her nails to dig in harder into her own skin. The wind seems to pick up behind them.

"Nothing, really." He saunters over to her in his three-piece suit, ever much the dapper gentleman, though they both know better. "Just enjoying the beautiful December air, I suppose."

"Well then. Good night." She rolls her eyes and makes to leave.

"Hmm." He closes his eyes and spreads out his arms as if to embrace the night itself. "You can practically smell the fresh straw from here."

She freezes, and it's all she can do to keep her body from spasming. Images fly in from the breeze like so much debris.

Her father, young and more handsome than any prince could hope to be, leading her in her best dress, the brown one with only three mismatched patches, into the mill as though he were leading her to her own grave.

"Be brave, child." He gripped her hand tightly in his own, tears clinging to the corners of his eyes. "I believe in you. You will bring our family greatness."

And then he left her in a room full of straw she was supposed to turn into gold.

She thought she was doomed; she hated her father in that one moment. His arrogance had brought this upon her. But then she remembered all the times he held her after she scraped a knee, how he fixed every broken toy. He was the one she loved the most.

She kicked at the hay for hours, as if sheer force could magically altar its form. She almost wept from exhaustion, until, glancing up, she found herself caught in the gaze of those damn dark eyes.

Those eyes to which she sold her soul.

She walked with her father once again, only this time her gown was of white lace and infinitely more intricate. Once again, he had tears in his eyes. She had never been more proud of making her father cry.

And then, once again, she was back in that same dark room, on her knees in the straw clutching at her greatest source of happiness as he wailed in her arms. The clock had just struck midnight and outside, the wind howled like a pack of wolves on the hunt.

"We made a deal. You lost. Give me the child!" The man whose name she had uncovered mere moments too late bounced on the heels and cackled, his eyes crinkled with mirth.

"No!" Her eyes stung from her sobbing, her dark hair flying all about her as she clutched the boy closer to her. As if she could enfold him back in her womb if she held onto him tight enough.

"No? Well, hmm." Rumpelstiltskin paused, stroking his chin leisurely. "I suppose I could just take your father instead."

She had never felt so cold as the wind burst open the barn doors. She glanced down at her child as she thought of her father, the man who was responsible for her entire happiness. She leaned in and kissed him on the forehead before rising up off of her knees.

She said nothing as she walked over to the gleeful demon with arms wide open, her heart beating in time with the slow weight of her footsteps. She felt her heart fall through her chest as she handed the baby over to the man with the ugliest name in the world.

"Now, was that so hard?" The creature grinned before vanishing like a long burning candle finally snuffed out.

The sudden clash of metal into pavement revives her.

"Clumsy me, dropping my favorite coin." Mr. Gold bends and scoops up a gold coin before twirling it between his fingers. The shimmer of it bursts into flame beneath the moonlight, the effect heightened by the increasing wind surrounding them.

Regina starts when she recognizes the wetness just below her right eye.

"Out of my way before I write you up for littering, Mr. Gold." Even to her own ears, her voice is not as sharp as it ought to be.

"Of course, Ms. Mayor." He bows to her lets and her pass. She does not look at him as she marches past.

"There's so much history to this town." His voice somehow reaches her above the wind.

"Don't forget about this lovely old place, Ms. Mills. Please."