XI: It Makes the World Go 'Round'
A/N: I have no words for how long this chapter has taken, save endless amounts of thanks to those of you who still read this story, still favorited it, followed it, and left reviews even though it has taken months for me to update. this is a very hard story to write, and your pushing aided incredibly in my continuing it. Don't worry- I'm not giving up on it.
That said, readers of my other multi-chapter will know that my life has grown increasingly more hectic recently, and updates are going to continue to be sporadic. though not as long as this one took. We're getting close to the climax of this story, and I'm just as eager as you are to get to it. I do hope you enjoy. Drop me a line if you do; I love hearing your comments.
As always, my unending thanks to my patient beta, killer-elephants.
Trigger Warnings: Allusions to Rape and Incestuous Rape. Nothing Graphic this chapter.
Cora was leaning over her daughter's bassinet, the red ribbons from her gown trailing low over the infant's face. Regina was giggling, catching the ribbons in her pudgy fists and taking a firm hold of them. She tugged them lower before raising them, as all infants do, into her mouth and lightly began to chew on them.
Smiling at the antics of her child, Cora drew the ribbons away, caressing her daughter's face with the backs of her fingers and then lightly flicking one over the tip of her nose. "You should be sleeping now, my love," she murmured quietly.
Regina giggled again at the action. Both of her hands now reached up, stretching out. Wanting. She didn't want to be asleep. She wanted her mama. The young mother looked around herself, as if to ensure that she was truly alone, before lifting the baby out of the bassinet and holding her close to her chest. Her heart was pounding steadily within, a gentle rhythm to lull the baby into sleepiness.
But Regina was having none of it, instead gurgling happily and reaching up again to this time wrap her little fingers around a strand of dark, curling hair. Making a soothing sound of contentment, Cora hoisted the child up a little higher, resting Regina's head on her shoulder and rocking her gently.
"In your arms again?" the high, lilting voice emerged suddenly from the corner of the room, shocking Cora so that she whirled suddenly, her grip on the baby only tightening. Rumpelstiltskin cocked his head, peering at the two ladies in white with a gleam in his eyes.
"Must you always do that?" Cora rebuffed lightly, readjusting Regina slightly on her shoulder.
Rumpel didn't answer, merely coming up next to her and moving to take the baby from Cora's arms. "You hold her too much." He kept Regina at arm's length, almost as if he feared some sort of contamination from the infant. Regina must have thought it all some kind of wonderful new dance or game, and laughed at the sensation, waggling her tiny fingers at him and staring with big, dark eyes. A ray of pure warmth seemed to shoot its way through Rumpelstiltskin.
For a moment, he held the child a little more carefully, brought her just the tiniest bit closer. He almost seemed to smile genuinely, warmth coming back into his eyes for a half second. And then it was over and he was thrusting those emotions away along with the child, setting her back into the bassinet with a scowl before turning to the child's mother. "You know you really shouldn't get too attached to her, dearie. Not with a future as dark as hers."
Cora's arms remained in the same position, as if unable to process yet that she was no longer holding her child. She crossed the distance to the bassinet and looked down longingly at the child squirming amidst the blankets, who was beginning to fuss over the lack of warm arms around her. Her fingers outstretched of their own accord before she pulled them back. "...Must it be?" She asked, quietly, staring down at her daughter. She felt her throat closing over, and took a deep breath.
Rumpel's fingers closed tightly around the very shoulder Regina had just been leaning on, digging his nails into her until she gave a cry and turned obligingly to face him. He held her inches away from his face, sneering at her. "The baby is making you soft. Don't tell me you've lost your will for this, dearie."
She said nothing, merely swallowed to clear the blockage in her throat and stared back, trying to find some of her fire to show him. The baby fussed a little louder, and Cora's head automatically turned towards the sound.
His grip tightened, moving instead to her throat. He gave out a gasp of anger and realization. "You have!"
Cora's eyes had closed, unwilling to let him see the more tangible evidence of her failure. For she knew that's what he would see this as. She took as deep a breath as she could. Not far away, the baby was growing more restless, her slight fussing becoming actual cries as the energy in the room so dramatically shifted. Her mother's eyes snapped back open at the cries, her body shifting ever-so-slightly towards her baby. She stared back at Rumpelstiltskin. "...She's done nothing to deserve it."
Rumpel hissed, releasing his hold on her neck and thrusting her away as if physically disgusted. He laughed, shaking his head at her and pointed at the wriggling child in the bassinet "She was born for it!"
Regina's cries grew louder still at the raised voices, and Cora couldn't help but rush to her, turning her back to Rumpelstiltskin and lifting the now wailing child back into her arms, running her hand soothingly over her face. "...I can't. I won't do it. My heart won't let me. She's my daughter. Rumpel, she's our daughter!"
"Then your heart is no longer doing you a service, dearie."
A gasping, sobbing wheeze of pain slipped from Cora's mouth as Rumpel's hand burst through her back, his fingers cupped around a pulsating heart as he drew it out of her chest.
Outright wails were coming from the baby now, her face contorted and red as her mother shook around her. Slowly, Cora turned to face the Dark One, eyes wide and body near frozen.
In his hand, the heart pulsed desperately. Rumpel's face was contorted, nearly unreadable with the level of emotion on his features. He drew in a ragged breath of his own, and pointed at the baby with his free hand. "Put her down, and come here."
Wordlessly, Cora glanced down at her child, her mouth gaping like a fish out of water. Tears dripped onto the baby's screaming head.
And then Regina was back in the bassinet and left alone, screaming and gasping for breath around her own tears.
In front of her, Emma's face furrowed from a look of desire to one of concern. She sat up quickly, running a soothing hand tentatively down Regina's shoulders. "Hey. You okay?"
She'd half-expected a semi-violent reaction to their coupling, once the initial haze of pleasure had worn off enough that forgetting what had been done to Regina would come flying back at her. True, she hadn't quite expected this visceral a reaction, but it was understandable, anyway. "It's okay," she murmured gently. It wasn't, but she pressed her lips to the sweat-slicked shoulder in front of her anyway, letting Regina know that it might not be okay, but at least she wasn't alone.
Flashing bits of memories were wreaking havoc with Regina's mind. Everything was jumbled together, only coming in bits and pieces as she sat, shaking, on the bed. With a laughing huff, Regina shook her head, tears pouring down her face. "It's not," she whispered, a look of abject horror growing over the course of her face. "Oh, gods, it's not."
Brow furrowing in confusion, Emma felt her arms wrapping around the brunette protectively, as if of their own accord "Hey," she whispered, pressing further kisses along a toned and muscular back, because it was all she knew to do. Emma Swan wasn't exactly well-versed in calming people down. "I'm here."
"I know," Regina murmured quietly, small tremors still working their way down her body as she adjusted to memories all trying to force their way into her mind at once. It was too much to deal with. She closed her eyes, trying to squeeze the images out of her mind. It had rather the opposite effect, and she brought her hand to mouth in attempt to muffle herself when she started screaming, tears dripping down her face.
"Hey," Emma said again, putting more pressure on the brunette's arm and trying to turn her to face her. "Regina. Regina, look at me."
Slowly, Regina turned tear-filled eyes on the blonde. Without a word, she pulled Emma closer to her, close enough to wrap her arms around her and bury her face in her hair. "Gods, Emma... He-" her voice broke, and she tried again. "She-" She shook her head, feeling panic building in ever muscle of her body. How the hell could she even try to explain what was happening to her? She looked again into green eyes and tried to sink into them. Her world was literally turning upside down, but those eyes remained steady. She clung to Emma, struggling to breathe yet again. "I feel like I'm going crazy."
Unsure what to do or how to do it, Emma just held the sobbing brunette awkwardly. How exactly do you tell someone that it's going to be okay when they're recovering from systemic rape and abuse? She didn't know. But she knew that at one point of her life, she'd have given anything if someone had been there to hold her. That was probably the only reason she wasn't bolting out of the window right now. Despite all the manipulation, she liked Regina well enough, and the sex had certainly been awesome, but this was getting way too 'feely' for her. For now, she just swallowed back the urge to run and lightly patted Regina's hair, hoping that she could steer events into something more known. She placed another series of kisses along the brunette's hairline, pulling back to kiss cheeks and eyelids stained with tears.
In a previous life, the one whose memories were fast driving her towards insanity, Regina would have destroyed something or ripped the heart out of someone in attempt to get rid of these feelings. Now, she stuck with what had worked before in this life, and sunk into Emma's embrace, pulling the blonde even closer and clashing their lips together again. Her hands slid over her shoulders, holding on tightly.
Giving a muffled squeak of surprise, Emma nevertheless returned the kiss eagerly. This is what she'd agreed to do, after all: help Regina forget, at least for a little while. And if Regina needed another round or two... well, she'd just have to oblige.
Kneeling between Regina's spread legs, Emma paused to look up, to double-check with her lover that this was good, that this was needed. She found brown eyes already staring down at her, red lips parted from emitting the small noises of pleasure that had emerged as the blonde had worked her way down. Staring up at her lover, Emma felt her eyes hood as her desire for the brunette returned with a vengeance.
"Emma," Regina whispered, starting to say something- to beg her to continue or ask a question, even she didn't know.
But the next moment had talented lips kissing over her heat with soft, deep warmth, and her words died before having been given life. Emma breathed her in, not licking, just feeling, lips sliding over wetness with the softest of caresses.
Regina gasped and her eyes tried to flutter closed, but Emma's fingers suddenly dug into her firm buttocks, causing her eyes to fly open again with surprise. All the pain she was feeling, all the confusion, hate, and other emotions she had no words to give voice to– blazed from brown eyes into green, dissipating the more she looked into caring green warmth. And Regina knew that she needed to keep that link open lest she be torn apart by her own mind. Emma met her gaze evenly, her lips and tongue beginning to caress again, continuously stroking and nibbling and lightly sucking the outer, then inner, lips of her heat.
Regina's eyes went wide as pleasure overran her senses, drowning out everything else. A strange light was taking hold of her as she stared at the blonde.
The depth of emotion in her eyes was startling to Emma, though there was nothing in them that she felt she could identify. She could only continue with curious, tentative licks, a smooth flick with the flat of her tongue, dragging and wiggling ever so slightly.
Lithe fingers tightened in blonde hair, and the brunette moaned deeply. Loud enough, she hoped, to keep her returning memories at bay just a little longer. "Don't stop," she whispered, keeping her eyes locked on the one thing that was giving her any peace.
Warm lips stroked and tasted, the blonde's tongue slowly, lingeringly beginning to explore over the other woman's folds.
"Emma," Regina breathed.
Finding her own arousal spiking madly at the use of her name, Emma's fingers slipped up higher, resting just over the brunette's hipbones and rubbing in slow, gentle circles. Groaning softly as fingertips began to massage over her, Regina relaxed, sinking into the lull of good sex and her bed, her hands tugging on blonde locks to pull Emma even closer.
Shuddering, Emma slurped a little noisily, keeping her eyes locked on those above and feeling another thrill run down her spine when Regina whimpered out her name again. Every movement brought about another moan, another small gasp. Regina's hips were rocking into Emma's mouth, and so she truly began to devour, unable to get enough. Her tongue flitted over the hard nub of Regina's clit constantly. She moved to straddle a muscled leg, allowing her own wet core to rock against the brunette. She felt as though she could do this forever, and that Regina may well have not minded one bit.
Neither seemed to blink the entire time, Emma's lips and teeth and tongue wreaking havoc over Regina, bringing her to the very edge of release, until Regina simply could not take anymore. Emma felt her own pleasure not far behind, and she rocked more fervently against Regina's thigh, suddenly feeling it imperative that they come together.
"Ah! Emma... Emma!" Regina cried out, long and high. Her head arched back, their locked gaze finally breaking as both of them were swept under. Hips quivered throughout, and Emma was forced to break away and take in a gulping, needy breath, until they both finally relaxed, limp and spent in one another's arms.
The very moment their gaze broke, a flash of memory burst behind dark eyes, brighter than all the others vying for attention, too powerful to ignore. Snow- beautiful, pained, tragic Snow- looked up at her with plaintive eyes as she cradled her dying husband. "Why did you do this?"
She took absolute delight in bending down, the force of her vitriol causing the vein on her head to throb. "Because this is my happy ending." At the door, two of her regrettably necessary guards slowly drew to a halt. She didn't even look up before demanding of them: "The child?"
Even through the black of his face mask, the guard looked uncomfortable. "...Gone. It was in the wardrobe, and then it was gone. It's nowhere to be found."
Bristling, Regina turned to the girl she detested above all else, her perfect moment of happiness pulled apart."Where is she?"
Snow's relief was practically palpable. "She got away." She caressed the face of her husband, cradling him all the more and repeating, as if just to him. "…Emma. She got away." Her face raised back to Regina. "... You're going to lose. I know that now. Good will always win."
"We'll see about that," Regina snarled, but still grinned. Her plan was working. And she would win, no matter what the simpering girl at her feet said. No matter if this baby- this Emma- had escaped her.
Regina slammed back into her own conscious mind with a shudder, the aftershocks of her orgasm pulsing through her like a tide. "Emma..." The name echoed around the room, repeated over and over in breathless tones- a mantra Regina had offered to whoever would listen.
And then the name she was whispering came back down, barreling through her memories like a freight train, and she realized where she'd heard the name before. She felt her eyes snap wide open, bucking frantically. "Emma!" she shouted again, growing hysterical. "Oh, gods, you're Emma!"
Above her, the blonde let out a gasp of shock as her own post-coital bliss was fractured when Regina suddenly began to frantically kick her away. Blinking at the sudden change, she glanced into dark eyes once again filling with panic. "What?"
Regina's mind had very quickly decided she'd had enough. No longer bits and pieces, now, the rest of her memories pummeled into her with all the grace of a sledgehammer, leaving her reeling and able only to process one thing: Snow White's daughter was in her bed, and she had just fucked her quite contentedly. On some level, she was sure, a not insignificant part of her was incredibly pleased with this development. The rest of her was in a full out panic attack. Sitting up so fast that the blonde practically spilled off of her, she promptly backed up so quickly she fell off the bed, landing flat on her ass, her body still flushed from the throes of their last round.
"Regina! Talk to me! What's wrong?"
"I just... with you!" She was scrambling, now, frantically scooping up bits of clothing as throwing them onto her body as fast as she could.
Emma had had her share of sexual encounters that she'd later regretted, sure, but not generally when she was sober. And not generally four times in a row. But here Regina was acting as if she'd suddenly realized Emma had the plague. She had no real choice but to slip back into her jeans and tank and try to calm the older woman down. "Regina, will you calm the fuck down and talk to me?!"
But she wasn't listening. She managed to draw a full breath, and then looked even more panicked, as if some new horror had just occurred to her. It had. Another burst of memory clamped down hard on her mind, and she realized she had far more to worry about that whatever she'd done with Snow's daughter. Rumpel. Always, ever Rumpel: laughing at her, taunting her, teaching her. Molding her into doing exactly what he wanted of her.
Even here. Even with...
"Henry... where's Henry?!" She rushed to get the rest of her clothes on, darting out of her bedroom door and fumbling in her haste to get to her keys, leaving Emma to scramble after her, still pulling on her pants and trying desperately to figure out what the hell was going on.
"Henry? What about Henry?" Emma had no choice but to follow. In this state, Regina could hurt someone. Or herself. "Where the hell are you going?!""To get my son!" Regina hissed back with a snarl, running out of the door without locking it and racing to her car, starting it and putting it into drive all in a flurry of strength of vitriol in her tone was enough to cause Emma's mouth to gape open. She barreled after her, running up to the backing-up car and screaming at the top of her lungs, "Regina, what the hell is wrong with you?!" But the dark car sped away with a screeching of tires. Swearing, the blonde dug into the pocket of her jacket for her own keys and prayed to god her bug would start on its first try. She needed to follow Regina. Like hell she was going to let the other woman go anywhere alone right now.
Emma would never fully understand how they'd gotten there without Regina wrecking. The woman had driven like she'd been possessed- like she'd somehow forgotten everything she'd ever learned about driving only to remember it a split second later. And soon, faster than any sane person would drive, they'd arrived at Henry's castle, and Regina was out of the car running towards him before even turning off the engine.
Only a moment later, the yellow bug pulled up behind.
Henry bounded down the aged stairs to his mothers with a worried look on his face. Something big must be happening if both of them were here to get him. "Moms?" he asked worriedly, looking from one to the other, taking in their haphazard states of dress and the wild look in Regina's eyes.
"Henry, be careful!" Emma called. "Something's... wrong?" She broke off in a question, because as soon as Regina laid eyes on the boy she seemed to instantly calm. Her entire energy and body language ...shifted.
Noticing it, too, Henry ran to her in spite of Emma's warning, and Regina swept him up into a hug, clutching him tightly to her as if she was never going to let him go again. "Oh, Henry," she sighed.
Emma came up to them slowly, a question in her eyes and a furrow in her brow. Gingerly, she placed a hand on Regina's shoulder. "...Regina? Are you okay?"
Dark eyes broke away from her son, and she set him back on the ground, kneeling on the grass so as to be able to keep the boy close to her. She looked at Emma-really looked- and took a deep, centering breath. Her memories were finally beginning to settle within her, allowing her brain a respite as long as she held her son. She looked at Emma- at the Savior. Snow's daughter. And she realized that for the first time in all of her collected memories, she no longer cared about Snow. Snow didn't matter, not compared to other, far more important things.
"I'm fine," she sighed, brushing strands of hair from her son's face. "Henry," she murmured, running her fingers down his cheeks. "I love you so, so much." With tears in her eyes, she smiled- a true, bright smile. Her shoulder now boasted both Emma's hand and Henry's head as he leaned into her. Regina felt a wave of pure, unadulterated joy crash through her.
"I love you, too, Mom." He returned the hug with equal abandon, leaning up to press a kiss to his mother's cheek. She beamed all the brighter for it. Even concerned as she still was, Emma smiled, and squeezed Regina's shoulder affectionately. Her other hand ruffled the hair of their son, mussing up the order Regina had just returned to it. The former Evil Queen found that she couldn't care.
In town, the clock gave a chime. And then the very earth beneath their feet began to quiver.
"This is ridiculous!" Maleficent was screaming, hands on her hips as she paced behind the bar. "You don't even know that this is going to work, do you?!"
Closing her eyes and inhaling deeply, Blue threw her head back and drained the drink in front of her, setting the empty glass down with a pointed look. "Can I get another, please?"
Snarling, the blonde took the glass in hand and hurled it against the far wall. It shattered in a spectacular spray of glass, littering the floor of the club.
Blue rolled her eyes. "I'm not going to help you clean that up."
With a snarl loud and angry enough to evoke the other form Maleficent had once been so fond of, she pounced over the bar, landing only inches in front of the former fairy. Her hand whipped out, curling around Blue's throat. For the first time, the fairy betrayed an emotion other than 'know-it-all,' and her eyes went wide, fingers scrambling for the hand around her throat.
"Tell me honestly, fairy," Maleficent spat, clenching her hand a little tighter, just for good measure. "Do you have any idea how we'll even know if this works?"
Blue's face was beginning to turn a slight shade of her name as she struggled for breath. "If the curse breaks-" she gasped.
Mal shook her, releasing her grip only slightly. "What if it doesn't? What if only Regina's memory returns? You know that's a possibility. However good a fuck the savior might be, we both know that it's unlikely they'll have admitted to loving one another yet. And only True, requited Love can break this damn thing, as you've reminded me so damn often!"
The fairy's mouth was flapping open, trying to form words or get oxygen into her lungs, but succeeding at neither. Rolling her eyes, Maleficent released her with a flourish, flinging the blue creature away from her.
"We have to have faith," Blue managed to wheeze, massaging her neck.
"In your precious Savior?" the blonde scoffed.
Blue shook her head. "No. In Regina." She tried very hard not to show her own distaste at the idea. She tossed a guarded look at her companion. "Tell me that you can do that much, at least."
A moment passed before Maleficent slowly nodded, agreeing, for once, with the fairy.
Beneath their feet, the very earth itself seemed to tremble at the idea. "It's beginning!" Blue cried, leaping away from the bar.
"Finally!" Maleficent agreed, and joined her beside the immense marble surface she'd spent so much time behind. "Let's get started."
Together, fairy and witch pressed their hands against the side of bar, and pushed. It resisted for a moment, before slowly, creakily, beginning to give way. The great marble fixture began to slide along runners long out of use, revealing a cobweb-covered stairwell.
Somewhere beyond it, a long-forgotten heart was beating. And glowing.