Title: Compassion
Fandom:
Once Upon a Time
Pairings:
Swan Queen
Rating:
T
Spoilers:
No.
Summary:
Emma reeled back with a startled squeak and stared at what was sitting in front of her. The most beautiful black dog she had ever seen with the shiniest, softest looking coat with small floppy ears and a tilt of the head that made Emma smile through her tears. The dog sat still, watching her with the most human eyes.
Author's Note:
I have never hated the ending of a story more than this one. T.T A prompt from Tumblr: After the curse. Regina has disappeared after Emma saves her life from angry citizens. Emma is lonely and missing home. A stray black dog appears and follows Emma everywhere. When an attempt is made on Emma's life, the black dog's true form is revealed.
Disclaimer: I own nothing.

/

It was compassion that Regina saw in the Savior's eyes that night, compassion for her and her personal safety.

"Run! Go, I can't hold them off much longer!"

It was not something that Regina took lightly.

"Regina, trust me! You have to trust me! You need to run."

In her long life, she had come across many things; hatred, fear, and way too many lusty eyes for her to count, but compassion-true compassion-had drawn the short list in her book.

"I'll take care of Henry for you, I promise."

To see it directed at her from someone she had dubbed her enemy right off the bat shook her to the core.

"Please, please, Regina, please, run now!"

She needed to return the debt of a life.

"Where is she? Where is that evil bitch?"

And repay the emotion bestowed upon her.

/

"Snow, I really don't want to meet this guy." Emma told her Mother with a defeated sigh. She was sitting in a wooden chair in her chamber, slumped with her knees spread wide in a relaxed manner and her elbow on the table, a fist holding up her face. "I've talked to people and he sounds like a snob."

Snow placed her hand on her jutted hip, eyebrow raised. "Who did you talk to?"

"It doesn't matter-"

"Emma." It was short and made Emma squirm in her spot.

"…Red, but only because she's the one person who will tell me anything anymore. You've threatened everyone else who talks to me."

With a quick note to kill the werewolf, the dark haired woman sighed and moved to sit in the chair next to her fully grown daughter. "I'm only doing this because I'm worried. I see you alone and it makes me sad-"

"-thanks for the vote of confidence-"

"-and I want you to find your true love."

"What if I never meet my true love? What if I'm suppose to just be the Savior and that's it?" Emma asked her, leaning forward on her forearms with an honest fear about her. Snow took one of her daughter's hands in hers and ran a thumb over the boney knuckles. She didn't need to know that Emma was sure that she had met her true love, but how do you explain to your Mother that you've fallen in love with their step-Mother?

Answer, you don't.

"You'll never know if you don't meet people. Get to know some of the nearby Princes." Snow pulled out a pouty look. "Please, for your Father and me?"

/

"Why did I agree to this?" Emma muttered to herself. Her arms were crossed tightly over her chest as she stalked away from the man she had been forced to dance with. Sneaking out the side door that led to the gardens, Emma let out a breath of relief. Alone at last. She slowed her movements and looked up at the sky.

It was such a foreign concept for her to see so many stars. In Boston, you were lucky to see one star. Even in Storybrooke, the light from the stars were dimmed considerably. Here, it was like someone had cranked the little stars to as high as they would go. With the twinkling lights high above her, Emma felt her stomach turn with a familiar loneliness.

A sharp intake of air was all that covered the blonde's tears.

This wasn't home, it could be, but not yet, not now. She didn't take to it was well as everyone else had. Sure they all came from this land all their lives, but Henry hadn't. The boy acted like a fish thrown back into water when they were spit from the sky and landed on bruising, unforgiving stone.

Emma needed someone who understood what she felt like. She missed their quaint little town in Maine in America. She missed electricity. She missed indoor plumbing. She missed TV and junk food and her stupid yellow bug and even stores with real money. No one around her voiced their feelings about where they were during the curse and Emma couldn't find it in herself to mention the other world to her parents.

Dropping down on a smoothed out rock bench, Emma buried her face in her hands and wept silently. She couldn't believe how alone she felt surrounded by a castle full of people, but here she was, crying for someone to understand that she grew up in that world for twenty eight years and she needed someone to guide her through this world, not expect her to jump right in with all the knowledge on what to do.

Something cold brushed her forearm.

Emma reeled back with a startled squeak and stared at what was sitting in front of her. The most beautiful black dog she had ever seen with the shiniest, softest looking coat with small floppy ears and a tilt of the head that made Emma smile through her tears. The dog sat still, watching her with the most human eyes that reminded the blonde of an Evil Queen that didn't mean to steal her heart.

The thought of Regina brought more tears to her eyes and she heaved a lung full of air to keep the water works at bay. The creature leaned forward before pausing, catching Emma's attention. The blonde furrowed her eyebrows and watched the dog to see what it was doing. After a full minute, Emma reached her hand out, slowly as to not scare the poor animal.

Immediately the dog pressed its head into Emma's hand, allowing her to pet it.

From then on, whenever Emma was upset, the dog was there to comfort her, appearing when Emma's soft cries reached its ears. Emma couldn't figure out where is came from or the name of the beautiful creature. Emma had tried naming it-her-but every time she tried, the dog would yip indignantly and turn up her head.

When she asked Snow and James why they didn't tell her that they had a dog, they frowned, telling her that they didn't. The two royals tried to talk the blonde out of seeing the dog, begging her to consider that it was an evil being that wished her harm, but Emma wouldn't have it. An argument ensued, bringing the mysterious creature from hiding once more.

Henry had met the animal a month after it had been there for his blonde Mother. He followed Emma out to the gardens after witnessing a fight between Emma and a Prince from a distant kingdom. He found the black dog licking the tears off Emma's cheeks causing the blonde woman to laugh and he couldn't stay away.

The black animal showed up a few times in between. She played with Henry and comforted Emma, but never to be seen by anyone, but the two of them.

Until the night of Emma's birthday ball.

/

"Emma." The blonde turned at the sound of her Mother's voice. Snow watched her from the doorway in a large, lavish gown that spoke truly to who she was and where she stood in life. Emma tried to give the woman a smile, but she could tell from the sigh that she didn't do a very good job. Emma closed her eyes thinking about how she was disappointing her Mother more and more with each passing day. "Emma, the party is starting."

"Do I have to go?"

"Yes." Snow laughed and moved into the room. "I won't pretend to understand your aversion to these parties, but you must make an appearance, at least as the birthday Princess."

"The dresses are uncomfortable." The Princess whined, pulling at the material around her waist. Snow swat her hand and smoothed the crinkles that Emma had created. She didn't look at her daughter's face, knowing she would see the lingering sadness that seeped into the woman ever since she had come to this realm.

"It's only for these events. You can change as soon as the party is over." Snow said, now chancing a glance at her daughter's eyes. "But for now, Henry is waiting for you." Emma looked out the window, at the stars above them.

"How is he?" The young boy acted different around Emma. He must have sensed her anguish in this world, Emma guessed. He was more open when he was around others that could deal with his problems and the dog that came to them in times of need.

"He misses her." The Queen with pale skin admitted and paused. "Maybe more then you."

"Maybe." Emma mused, not realizing what she had just admitted to. Snow frowned and repeated to herself what James had told her when she brought up her concerns. I don't like it, but she loves who she loves and we have to accept that, even if it is the Evil Queen.

"Emma-"

"Why hasn't she shown up yet?" She turned her green eyes to her Mother's, the floodgate starting to break. "It's been months. Why hasn't she come for Henry, at least?"

Snow sighed and took her daughter's hands with a half hearted smile. "Regina must have her reasons. We can't think about that right now. Your son is waiting to be your first dance partner." She pulled Emma back to lead them out of Emma's chambers.

"Emma!" Henry was dressed to the nines as any Prince should be and proudly showed off the White Kingdom's emblem on his chest. A little more hidden in the sleeve of his white jacket, was a dark purple handkerchief that Emma knew was Regina's Royal color. Emma was sure she was the only one who noticed the slight droop in his shoulders, something that had been getting worse each day his Mother didn't show up. Her heart cracked further.

"Hey kid. Looking good." His ears turned red, but he grinned and bowed before her.

"You too Emma. May I have this dance?" Henry held out his hand and Emma laughed as she took it. He tugged her forward onto the designated dance floor and the two began to sway with the lull of the music.

"How are you?" She asked her son. His smiling face dropped as his body tensed in her arms.

"I want my Mom." He whispered as if afraid that saying it any louder would shatter their carefully constructed lives, looking off to the side. "But I guess she doesn't want me. Do you think it's because I was mean to her? I didn't mean to be."

Emma frowned at Henry's words and stopped him with a gentle hand on his head. "Why do you think she doesn't want you?" The boy shrugged.

"She would be here if she did, right?"

"Your Mom must have a good reason for not being here, kid." Emma told him, repeating Snow's words to him. Thinking about the mob that nearly killed the fallen Queen, Emma shuddered. There was many reasons Regina wouldn't be here. Every person, but the two of them, being ninety nine of them. She dropped a kiss on the crown of his head for comfort. "I miss her too." Emma confessed for the first time.

"I know. I didn't want to say anything."

"We can talk about her, you know?" Emma told him. "She's not dead."

"I didn't think I'd miss her so much." He frowned, ignoring Emma's last statement. "I remember how I treated her when you first got to Storybrooke. I think…I'd give anything to take that back."

"Henry…" She didn't know what to say. He didn't know that, while she was the Evil Queen, she loved him so much. The pain in her heart and in her past made her hold on too tight and Henry's natural reaction was to try to squirm away. It wasn't his fault. "It's not-"

A growl followed by a bark interrupted Emma mid sentence. Emma and Henry turned in surprise. A familiar dog was racing as fast as it could toward them. People screamed as the dark beast blurred past. She skidded under legs and leapt over bowed people to get to them. When the dog was within touching distance, she jumped, letting her furry body connect with Emma and Henry's, knocking them down.

The dog was jerked to the side, flying off the duo with a yelp of pain. Emma grabbed onto Henry, pulling him back away from the whimpering creature as dark smoke enveloped her. People scattered around, yelling and screaming to get out of the room as the smoke cleared.

Snow and James fought to get to their daughter and grandson through the chaos as a human form replaced the animal's. A figure with a womanly shape curled into herself with her back to Henry and Emma, who still held him back. The boy struggled against his Mother's hold to get to the fallen person and Emma was finding it difficult to keep her grip.

"Emma, let me go! It's Mom!" He shouted. "It's Mom!" His words finally drifted into her ears. Her hand loosened and Henry ripped away and ran to the woman. Her back was heaving as a scarlet liquid pooled under her, staining the floor and the tight corset that hugged the woman's torso. Henry dropped to his knees and rolled the woman onto her back. He fell back a little when a mess of red revealed itself to anyone who looked.

It was clear it was her blood from where her skin was ripped and torn, but where exactly, Henry didn't know. Emma could see Henry pale considerably and the blonde followed suit when she saw the face of her beloved. He reached out to touch the edge of her skin before moving to her face to cradle the woman's dirty face.

"Mom." Regina's hand came up and touched Henry's face. His body trembled and he fell into her. The brunette winced, though she didn't push him away. Emma could faintly make out the boy murmuring sorry repeatedly into his Mother's injured chest. Regina shook her head and pet his hair with a few apologizes of her own.

Snow and James ran up, the King's sword out with the owner watching the nearest windows from where the attack came from. "By the gods." Snow covered her mouth at seeing her former step-Mother bleeding on the floor. She moved over to her daughter and took her hand. Emma was unresponsive and kept her green eyes trained on the fallen woman.

James saw Regina suppress a cough. A thin trail of blood fell out of the corner of her mouth in her efforts. "Someone call Doc." He yelled above the commotion in the ballroom while putting away his weapon. He gently pushed Henry back and detangled Regina's hands from him. "I need to move you. I don't need you bleeding out in front of my family." He quietly told her.

He moved to pick her up, jostling the wounds in her chest. Her soft cried broke the blonde Princess' trance. She let her Mother's hand go, letting the grappling hands take Henry, and stood next to her Father and the bleeding Queen. Emma took equally, yet unnaturally, pale fingers in her own. "I'm here, Regina."

/

Emma nervously paced outside in the hall. Her eyes flickered between the large wooden door and Henry who sat sandwiched between her parents with blood still faintly on his person. James had carried Regina to one of the infirmary rooms where Doc and a few others were waiting. The royal family was shooed from the room, much to Mother and son's dismay.

"They won't be able to work with the two of you hovering." Snow told them. "It'll be better for her if you are out here."

That was two hours ago and the blonde was getting restless. She only just convinced Henry to sit down because having him in her shadow was getting on her nerves and she didn't want to snap at the boy, not now when Regina's life was a mystery to them.

"Can you believe that Mom was really the dog?" Henry asked from his spot after a few minutes of silence.

Emma was pulled from her musing at her son's voice. "Huh?"

"Didn't you see? Mom was the dog that kept us company." He reminded her. Emma thought back and her brows furrowed at the truth behind his words.

Emma opened her mouth to speak, but finally, Doc opened the door and walked out into the hallway. The four people did their best to ignore the perspiration that drenched his forehead and the blood on his shirt. "So?" Emma asked impatiently.

"She's fine for now." He said reassuringly. Henry relaxed and smiled, but Emma was still tense.

"For now?"

"The attack was magical. I have no way of knowing when if it was a direct attack or one that was suppose to make her suffer. For now, she seems completely fine."

"Can we see her?

/

"Why?" Emma asked quietly when Regina's eyelids fluttered. Dark eyes took a moment to take in Emma and her words and the place where she was. "You're in the castle." The blonde answered her unasked question, taking her hand and kissing the back of her hand while keeping eye contact. "Why did you pretend to be a dog? Why didn't you just come to me as you?"

The brunette licked her lips before attempting to talk. "My…" She coughed and tried again. "My debt."

Emma leaned forward to hear the quiet words and frowned when she heard the answer. "What debt?"

"A life…for a life."

Recognition flashed in Emma's eyes. Her Father had told her that had Regina not taken the brunt of the attack, Emma would most likely be dead now. Knowing that Regina did that on purpose, protected her when she had no logical reason too, had Emma's heart pounding in her chest. "You…why?"

"You spared my life."

"Yeah, I get that, but why did you pretend to be a dog? What was the point?"

"You needed…someone." A small grin spread on Regina's face. "And if I had been seen…as me…" Emma nodded not letting her continue. She would have been killed without comforting Emma like she had.

They talked for a few more minutes before Regina was lulled back into sleep by Emma's even voice. The blonde smiled when Henry walked in and she motioned to the other side of his brunette Mother. He scrambled easily next to Regina and snuggled into her side, not questioning when Emma took the same position on the other side, careful of the wounds that Regina had.