TITLE: A Queen Without Power
CHAPTER 1: A Land With Magic
Slowly the purple cloud came toward them, a veritable tidal-wave of violet smoke.
"What is that?" Emma whispered, rooted to the spot. This whole magic business was still completely foreign to her. Despite the dragon-slaying under her belt, she was not at all prepared for this ominous... thing. Whatever it was. What the hell was it?
"Something bad," Henry answered, in a small voice breaking with trepidation.
Instinctively, she grabbed her son by the wrist. "We gotta go."
Henry didn't fight her grip, though she half-wondered if she was hurting him. "Go where?"
Emma glanced back at him abruptly as they left the hospital. It was a valid question; unfortunately, it was one she hadn't considered. Finally, she huffed. "I don't know."
Upon stepping outside, she wondered if she should have reconsidered the current plan of action. The purple smoke was still rolling steadily toward them, climbing over buildings and houses as it engulfed the small town. "Shit," she muttered under her breath, then gave a second glance toward her son. "Sorry."
Henry just smiled a bit, clearly not fazed with the use of language. "Are we gonna outrun it?"
She shrugged, pulling him toward her yellow Bug. "We sure can try."
Her old car sputtered to life and she threw it in gear, peeling out down the street. "You buckled in?" she hollered to Henry in the backseat, wind whipping loudly around the car.
"Yep!" Henry was still chipper as ever, seated comfortably in the backseat with his hands clasped in his lap, seemingly trusting her to do the right thing.
"Alright, let's do this." She rounded a corner and her eyes widened, hands gripping the steering wheel white-knuckled. They were now practically driving into the cloud.
"Floor it!" Henry goaded, clearly not as terrified and confused as she was, and Emma didn't hesitate to abide by his direction.
The gas pedal touched the floor as they sped straight into the oncoming purple smoke. They both shrieked then, as the cloud surrounded the car, spinning them around and killing the engine mid-air.
"Henry!" she screamed, reaching behind her for his hand. A squeeze of her fingers left her momentarily relieved, and then the car hit the ground again, jarring them both.
She leaned against the steering wheel, attempting to catch her breath, her eyes darting in every direction around them. The violet tidal-wave had passed them. Her eyes flicked to the rear-view mirror as she watched it retreat, further and further into the town. Then she turned the key and, after a few false starts, the engine was running again and they resumed their flight.
"Why are we back here?" Henry asked as she threw the car in park.
Emma looked up at the large estate looming over them, heart thudding in her ears. "I don't know," she murmured.
It was the truth. When she took off from the hospital, she had no idea where they should go or what they could do, if anything, to stay safe. She had to wonder right along with Henry why, out of everywhere they could have gone, she drove them right to Regina's house.
She opened the car door and stepped out, spotting Regina's black Mercedes. Her heart dropped into her feet and bounced up again; she wasn't sure if it was fear or something else entirely.
She glanced over everything that had happened in the last 24 hours - Henry taking a bite of the poisoned tart and collapsing. The fear that had seized her as she drove him to the hospital. The sensation that washed over her when she picked up his book - the flashes of Snow White and Prince Charming with their beautiful baby daughter, Emma - the prince throwing her in the enchanted wardrobe and bidding her to find her way back to them someday.
And then the rage that had bubbled within her when she heard Regina's voice. How the instinct to destroy the woman had been overwhelming as she threw her around in the supply closet, holding her against a row of lockers by the throat. The fear and fire in the woman's eyes as they were practically nose-to-nose, Emma demanding that she fix what she had done.
Then, the devastation in the queen's eyes as Emma revealed that Henry was in danger - the flash of motherly concern as she seemingly surrendered to the idea of the two of them having to work together. And then the strange, unspoken kinship that formed somewhere along the way.
It was difficult to describe, but in a way... she felt connected to Regina now. They had been at each other's throats consistently since her arrival in Storybrooke and yet she felt the most unusual pull to her. Something had shifted when they had to band together. When she took her to see Maleficent and then when Emma emerged from the elevator shaft to find Regina bound and gagged by Rumpelstiltskin.
She remembered touching the woman's arm, gripping it as she untied her and they took off together. It was the same very brief bond that she felt during the fire, when they both had been in danger. When she slung Regina's arm over her shoulders and carried her out.
They were two sides of the same coin in both of those moments, each needing the other for survival, even if it was a begrudging need. And maybe it was because of those moments that they were here now. Maybe the answers to what was happening resided with the other side of the coin.
Emma reacted on pure instinct and made her way toward the front door. Henry seized her hand, "But she'll kill us!" and she squeezed his fingers reassuringly.
"No, she won't."
"How do you know?"
An image of Regina came to her when they had been told Henry was dead. The pure devastation on her face and, most importantly, in her eyes. Regina's love for Henry may have been originally fabricated, but it was real. "Her eyes told me," she replied simply, and then spun around when they were in the foyer.
Crouching down, she gripped her son's shoulders and told him sternly, "I want you to stay right here, okay?"
"Listen to me! You stay right where you are. And no matter what you hear, do inot/i come after me. I'm gonna be fine, I promise." She ran a hand through his hair. "And so are you." She held his eyes, voice shaking with trepidation and repressed adrenaline. "Regina can't hurt you, do you understand me?"
Henry nodded and then, when she stood up, he threw his arms around her waist in a tight hug. "I love you," he murmured.
Emma cupped the back of his head and rubbed his back, closing her eyes. "Love you too, kid." Then she broke away, heading for the stairs and telling him one last time over her shoulder, "Stay here!" before she went in search of Regina.