Author's Note: This is it, folks. The Battle Between Good and Evil, and my very long work-in-progress, comes to an end.
Sprawled on the ground with Emma Swan huddled over her, Regina Mills panted trying to both catch her breath and wrap her mind around the entirety of recent events. Miraculously she was alive. She sorted through roiling sense-memories: her suffering within the oubliette; the ever-expanding, overflowing feeling; finally, the sudden expansion until, with her magic, it seemed she had literally blown a hole between dimensions.
No, not her magic, their magic. Emma. She felt the roughness of cloth against her back, then heard, and felt, harsh breathing against the side of her neck and shoulder. Soft fingertips and callused palms moved along her arms. One shifted down her forearm, gently clasping and lifting her wrist. It was then Regina realized she was unclothed. "Hey? Regina?"
"Em...Em-ma?" Regina's voice was filled with question, and relief when Emma turned her over. Meeting those gold-flecked green eyes once again, Regina clung tightly while Emma kissed her deeply.
"I got you," Emma said. "I got you." She guided them both upright. They were in the woods, the Wishing Well nowhere in sight. "You need some clothes."
Regina tried, but her magic was, apparently, once again, depleted, or blocked. She sighed. It had likely been taken when her mother's possession of her body ended. The conclusion that she had only ever been a means for her mother's ends devastated her anew. She examined her fingertips, rubbing them together. Had magic ever naturally been hers, for good or ill?
Emma brushed fingertips on her lips and lifted Regina's gaze. In a quick motion with her other hand, Emma gave Regina new clothes. The blonde's voice was quiet, almost as though Emma was unwilling to interrupt Regina's thoughts. "You okay?"
Regina lifted her head, lips set in a grim line and spoke. "I'm fine. Let's go." Her voice cracked, belying the statement, and Emma wouldn't let it go.
"For Christ's sake, Regina, your mother was inside you!" The blonde snagged her hand through her own long hair, exasperated. "It's okay to admit to feeling out of sorts."
Regina searched her senses. She could feel only a hollow echo where her mother's presence had once dominated, crowding her out. "She...she's gone. I think you pulled her out with your whipped up magic storm."
"Go me," Emma said, going from exasperated to derpy in point-oh-five seconds flat. Regina rolled her eyes, but the blonde's giddiness made the corners of her own lips twitch upward, too. For a moment, they basked in the relieving sights of one another's smile. Go us, Regina thought.
"Blue!?" Snow's voice, close by, ripped them both from their communing reverie. But the recognition gained a chilled edge when they both heard Snow's next shout. "Cora!?"
"Shit." Emma pulled Regina to her feet. "Sounds like the fight's not over yet."
Clearing her throat, Regina agreed. "Let's go."
# # #
Following the shouts of not only Snow, but now also David, and Marco, Emma led Regina through the tangled undergrowth of the woods. They didn't get very far before mingled winds, some carrying a dark smoke, and others, twisted rainbows of colors, swirled around them, pulling at their hair. Emma felt her magic being tugged, drawn like a magnet to join the rest around her, all of which was apparently being siphoned to somewhere. But she closed her fingers more tightly around Regina's hand, and refused the mystical summons.
The clouds of magic parted. The point of convergence across the clearing suddenly became obvious. She and Regina stood about twenty feet away from the Wishing Well. A motley group, with a mixture of hands and weapons raised, stood around it. No one moved. No sounds. No birds. Emma realized only the magic smoke trails were moving, being sucked from every living thing and converging to a point within the trees edging the clearing.
"A moment of your time, dears." A figure moved into view from the shadows. Long fingers were sucking up the magic smoke.
"Cora," Emma growled, moving in between mother and daughter protectively. Regina's hand shifted to Emma's shoulder.
"A touching display, Savior. Had I known of Rumple's failsafe in the Dark Curse, I'd have snuffed out your mother the second time I met her. However, it is always possible to remove a Knight from the board. Especially with a Queen still in play."
Cora lifted a hand; Emma raised hers, though she was completely at a loss what she might do. Cora was far more experienced at magic. Her ease taking over Regina's body and tossing spells during their earlier fight had already exhausted Emma. And apparently she was into taking long hits of magic smoke to increase her power. Just throwing magic at the woman would likely increase her power rather than defeat her.
Emma's gaze darted over the people frozen around them. Also a stray magic blast could harm her parents, their friends.
Regina's hand slipped from Emma's shoulder. The motion startled her, and a burst of magic erupted from Emma's hands. "Regina!" she shouted, reflexively turning.
"I'm fine!" Regina shouted back. "Focus!"
Cora's gaze shifted from Emma to Regina. Right hand flipping up at the wrist, magic snaked out from Cora's fingers. "Where do you think you're going, Regina?" The tendrils of dark purple wrapped themselves around Regina's arms, pulling her off the ground toward the tree branches. The smoke dissipated and Regina struggled in the grip of the same type of heavy vines which had ensnared Regina at the mansion.
Emma remembered those vines reacting to her touch, and dove into action, grabbing at the thick cord-like plants. Cora shouted in frustration. The vines squealed and evaporated in puffs of off-white smoke. But Cora was no longer paying attention to them when Emma finished.
Gurgling and popping noises issued from the cracked and crumbled Wishing Well stones as Cora channeled a stream of magic into them. The ground shifted as elemental forces were pitted against one another. Emma and Regina kept each other from falling, trying to move closer to Cora and the stream of magic, hoping to disrupt it. Water seeped from underneath and around the cracked and fallen well stones. At first it was a trickle, then it oozed like oil though it was crystal clear. A few stones were forced aside as the pressure increased.
Emma sensed the impending explosion only a moment before it happened. She pulled Regina down. "Duck!" Covering Regina's head she dropped them both just in time. They were showered with stones and then drenched by a plume of water. The water flooded the clearing and pushed all the figures from their frozen stupors.
Voices erupted and were finishing shouts which had begun before throats were closed.
Water rushed into lungs gasping for air.
Emma looked over to see Regina safely treading water. She surveyed the scene. Cora had once again vanished; her villainy apparently moving on to its next phase. David had quickly recovered his wits and held Snow's head up above water, calmly her and encouraging her. Blue had transformed fully into a tiny fairy and flitted above Marco and Archie who were holding Granny up between them.
"Emma!" David shouted, spotting her. He tread water toward her.
"I'm okay," she assured him. "I have to go after Cora."
"Regina?" he asked, seeing the brunette behind Emma. "We saw you go into the magic at the line."
"She saved me," Emma explained simply.
Regina asked David, "When did you last see Henry?"
"Henry was sure he could find something in the sewers after the flooding."
"We found his backpack," Emma told Regina. "Remember? Just before your mother..."
Regina nodded tightly. "Can you poof us to the mansion?"
"Why can't you?" David asked. "Take all of us out of here."
"Regina's mother took all her magic," Emma said. As she finished speaking, she grasped Regina's hand and lifted their arms. Even as their bodies were sinking in the swirls of water, she felt the magic grab hold of them both, pulling them away from the woods.
She and Regina materialized, soaking wet, on the porch of the mansion.
The mansion was silent. Regina stepped up to the door, pushing it inward slowly. She sensed no one inside, and concluded, "She's not here."
"Where would she go?" Emma asked. "Where else does she have access to your magic?"
"She might try my father's crypt. But there's nothing left there."
"So where else would she go? What about Gold's shop?"
"She's planning to face him last, I think."
"So where else is there magic here?" Emma thought. "What about the fairies?"
"The fairies were out at the Well," Regina pointed out. "They don't have magic of their own anyway. It's all in the Fairy Dust."
"Would they have some of their dust stored at the convent? Would your magic-hungry mother want it all?"
"If she wanted half a chance to defeat the Dark One and all his magic," Regina reasoned. "She'd want everything she could get her hands on."
"I don't know that I'd say her goals were that altruistic," Emma said. "Let's go." She grasped Regina's hand and again, poof, relocated them to the fairies' convent.
It appeared the convent was Ground Zero, however. Emma and Regina were knocked off their feet as soon as they materialized. Magic winds whipped fiercely in every direction. Laying on the ground, Regina cupped her hands around her eyes and tried to discern the combatants.
Finally, she identified her mother, the woman's black clothes an inky blot against the green of some sawgrass. Following Cora's line of sight, Regina gasped, "It's Blue!"
Next to her, Emma rolled onto her stomach and her gaze followed where Regina pointed.
The Blue Fairy, once again full size, held out a large gnarled-looking wand. "You took what did not belong to you, and changed fates you should not," Blue said.
"I only brought the mighty low," Cora said. "They deserved so much more than that."
"You took magic you had not right to," Blue shouted back.
"I had nothing," Cora growled. "A drunken father. A failing business. People laughing at me for every step I tried." She issued a forceful blast of her magic into the maelstrom whipping up even faster now. "Fairies and godmothers. The lot of you. Useless!" She punctuated her disdain with a feinting move; Blue shifted to counter, only to find the magic blasting her now unguarded shoulder. "So I made my own destiny," Cora sneered.
"You lied! You corrupted a young girl! You destroyed your own child! To further yourself!"
"One wish!" Cora lamented with a scream. "I only had one wish."
"Wishing for power was wrong, Cora. A better life, an honest life. Those would have been just wishes."
"I can make my own wishes come true now," Cora shouted. "I don't need you!"
"Blue, left!" Emma shouted, seeing Cora's feinting hand start to move again, and wanting to warn the fairy.
The Blue Fairy grew in size, again, and again. Soon she was a towering, engulfing mass of blue light, engulfing Cora's position. The Queen of Hearts lifted her hands, covered her face, and then was obscured by swirling blue glowing winds.
The blue light pulsed, tendrils of black and purple darted in and out, and around, trying to escape it. The air convulsed on itself, like a humid day seconds before a thunderstorm started.
Emma and Regina's gazes tore from the pulsing, seething magic mass to see Henry running up, hand caught in the scruff of a wolf's neck. A sparkling portal condensed to a point and vanished a few feet behind them. "Henry!" they both shouted; he let go of the wolf's fur and flung himself at both of them. One woman to either side, their arms wrapped around their son.
As they both kissed his hair and cheeks, a rainbow pulse of light erupted from their position, rumbling in all directions. Blue and black swirls were separated and fell as inert bodies on the ground. Scorched trees and earth became lushly green with life once again.
Emma and Regina eased back from Henry to join him in staring. Creeping closer cautiously, they found Regina's mother, and the Blue Fairy had been reduced to piles of wrinkled fabric. Emma toed the black fabric and grimaced. "There's nothing left."
"The Blue Fairy's gone too," Henry said as he crept closer to the other pile. "What happened?"
The trio pondered the question until sounds of shuffling through nearby underbrush drew their attention.
From behind one copse of trees emerged David, followed by Archie, Granny, Marco, and Snow. From a narrow path emerged Belle, leading a hobbling Rumplestiltskin.
"Where's the Blue Fairy?" Belle asked as she looked around at all the faces. "Rumple needs help."
"The Blue Fairy's gone," Emma said.
"What's wrong with him?" Regina asked, studying Rumple suspiciously while she clung to Henry.
"He crossed the line. He now thinks he's Robert Gold," Belle explained. "We were going to find his son."
Snow stepped forward, staring at Emma, eyes filling with tears. "Emma?"
"Hey. Yeah. I...um-" Emma didn't get to say more before her mother had flung herself at her and wrapped her in a hug. She hugged her mother back, looking at Henry hugging Regina a few steps away.
Granny, Archie, and Marco were talking with Rumple, apparently trying to determine if he was faking his amnesia. David stood sternly, but silently, nearby. However, there seemed nothing of the Dark One's spark nor the impish, plotting Rumplestiltskin in Robert Gold's puzzled and imperious responses to their inquiries.
Emma locked eyes with Regina. The woman dipped her head against Henry's, a surprisingly shy smile gracing her lips to acknowledge Emma's attention. Unable and unwilling to resist the draw to be with the woman she loved, Emma lifted her head and guided her mother to her lifelong nemesis.
"You risked your life for my daughter," Snow said. Regina didn't move or speak. Snow hesitated, obviously having expected a snappy retort or at least a caustic word. "Thank you," she finished.
David joined them. "We're going to take Rum-Gold, back to his shop. Belle thinks it might help."
"And then I think we should convene at the diner," Emma said. "Compare notes."
"Both Blue and Cora are gone?" Snow asked.
"Yeah," Emma said. "I don't know that we'll ever know the history between them. Though it seemed from the argument, there was quite a lot."
"Maybe some of the other fairies know the full story," Snow said.
"We'll ask, but, honestly, I'm just glad that it's over," Emma said. Behind Henry's back, she grasped Regina's hand. Pulling her gaze away from warm brown eyes, Emma told her mother, "See you later, at Granny's." She registered Snow's nod just before she made the three of them: herself, Regina and Henry, vanish in a poof of white magic.
# # #
Author's Note: That's the end of "Your Move." I have no idea if there will be an epilogue. At this point, nine months since the previous update, I am glad to have FINALLY completed the main plot arc. Please let me know your thoughts in comments. Thanks. ~LZ