"I'm sorry, Your Majesty, I just can't seem to-," the maid hesitated and attempted to yank the laces of the bodice closed, but the garment wouldn't give. Regina let out a resigned sigh, and slid the dress off of her body, leaving her in a loose petticoat.

"Fiona, just take it to the tailor with the other two. You're dismissed," she ordered, while studying her reflection in the full- length mirror before her.

"Yes, your Majesty." The small blonde gave a stiff curtsy and lifted the pile, her tiny frame engulfed by yards of silk and velvet.

The woman gave another nod and darted out of the large wooden doors.

Regina turned toward her side, still looking at herself, splaying her palms against the lower portion of her midsection. It was beginning to curve slightly, but this difference was unnoticeable to anyone but the Queen herself. Even so, clothing still refused to fit and Regina nearly always felt as if she had been tied to a spinning water wheel.

She was jolted out of her self-perusal by a proud and all-knowing voice in the mirror she was peering into.

"Your Majesty, your waistline won't be able to conceal your secret much longer. Are you planning to tell him anytime soon," the Genie chided her, his words consuming the room.

"I'm not a fool. This whole issue must be handled gingerly. Now that Leopold is rotting away, and there will be questions…allegations. I'm not risking everything I've built."

The Genie looked Regina in the eyes candidly. "You've got to create some plan to execute; you can't afford to wait." Regina's face turned a shade of sour-apple green, and the Queen flung her body onto the plush purple mountain of her bed to settle down from another wave of dizziness.

"Just leave me to be. And for God's sake, to rest. Go."

A whooshing sound settled throughout the room as The Genie's face faded from the glasses.

Regina grabbed a small black bell from a chain on her bedside table and rang it five times. She stood up (though on wobbling knees), shook the wrinkles from her petticoat, and filled her lungs with cool, awakening air.

"Your Majesty, you sent-,' his hands quickly jolted to his face. "I'm so sorry. I was told that you sent for me. I didn't mean to intrude on you," eyes still covered, he waved his free hand up and down Regina's thin cotton underskirt.

"Oh don't flatter yourself. You've seen me in much more compromising attire. It's your only living purpose, actually." She made his life-or-death imprisonment sound like a simple slap on the wrist, and her wry smirk confirmed the harsh intention of her words. "Sit down, Huntsman."

"Is there someone that needs to be taken care of, Your Majesty?" The Hunter's eyes were glazed over and cold; a far cry from the fear and discomfort killing a man used to give him. But this was just the opposite. This was about making a life, not taking it.

Regina wondered if he would have the same hardened response.

She gnawed her lip in anxiety, turning her head away from the inattentive man. She would never let him see her start to crack. She was smarter than that.

"No, Huntsman. This is something that must be dealt with the utmost care. Your life has never been more fragile, pet." The Hunter's eyes took on that familiar fearful wariness; his questions became pleas.

"Your Majesty, whatever task or target you need me to undertake, I'll gladly do so. You must know this, Your Majesty."

"The deed is already done. Now sit down Huntsman." Regina spat her words out like poison, and the Hunter's knees found the edge of the burgundy chaise lounge and he fell into the plush seat.

"Please, Your Majesty, let me know what I've done. Or at least let me know what I will receive as punishment." He shifted uncomfortably, his long legs twitching and crossing at unnatural angles.

"I seem to be," as she paced in front of him, her eyes scanned the floor looking for the right term, "expecting."

The Huntsman's eyes grew wide and took on a deep, shining blue. "You're," he paused in an attempt to swallow his distress, "pregnant?" Regina stared icily into the ocean of his eyes, gaze unmoving. The Hunter's voice dropped multiple octaves, reverberating with anxiety and remorse. "With all due respect, what do you intend to do? This could sink the entire kingdom against you, Your Majesty."

"Of course it could. This is just a natural consequence of your actions, my pet. We must be discreet. Your life depends on it, and in my condition, I am temperamental; remember, all it takes it just a little pressure." She sat on the lounge beside him and flattened a hand where his heart would have been.

"I'll take it to my grave, Your Majesty."

"Good, because this could mean your grave."