Remember those walls I built
Well, baby they're tumbling down
And they didn't even put up a fight
They didn't even make a sound
I found a way to let you in
But I never really had a doubt
Standing in the light of your halo
I got my angel now
It's like I've been awakened
Every rule I had you breakin'
It's the risk that I'm takin'
I ain't never gonna shut you out
Everywhere I'm looking now
I'm surrounded by your embrace
Baby I can see your halo
You know you're my saving grace
"Halo" by Beyonce
Tempest – Chapter 23
The caravan flying down the streets of Storybrooke looked more than a little comical. At the head was Regina's Mercedes, where Ruby sat in the front seat with a definite scowl. Her body leaned against the car door as far away from Regina as humanly possible. The black sedan was followed closely by Mary Margaret's station wagon, where David and Kathryn exchanged nervous glances in the backseat. David kept expecting his wife to explain her friend's crazy behavior, but truth be told the blonde was at a loss. She had no idea what Regina was doing or why. Henry sat in the front and quietly repeated something to himself. Mary Margaret couldn't keep her eyes off of him.
Bringing up the rear was Leroy's pickup being driven by Granny, with Archie in the middle and Leroy half passed out against the passenger side window. The trio of automobiles first traveled to Mary Margaret's apartment, but continued full steam ahead when the small yellow car was not parked anywhere near the building. Regina pushed faster on the only road out of town hoping they would make it in time.
As they sped along the road, Regina reached back to her purse tucked behind Ruby's seat. Her face coming uncomfortably close to Ruby's shoulder. The younger woman futilely tried to lean even further away from the mayor.
"Oh do calm down Miss Lucas. I don't bite." Regina said ironically. Ruby rolled her eyes. She didn't want to have any conversation with this woman. It was bad enough she was in a confined space with her. Regina finally retracted her arm and returned to her previously upright position. The brunette couldn't help but notice the large manila envelope the mayor was now holding.
"I realize Miss Lucas, that your feelings for my . . . for Emma, put us at cross purposes for the moment." Regina began, knowing that Ruby was aware of her involvement with Emma, and would guess that this had something to do with getting her back. Regina continued, "and that you have no desire to help me." Regina softened her tone, starting to feel an unusual sympathy for the girl in her passenger seat. Inexplicably, Regina imagined how she would feel in Ruby's shoes. "I am not trying to be cruel." Regina admitted, she might want to rip Ruby's head off for wanting Emma, but she couldn't blame her for it. Regina's genuine tone caught Ruby by surprise, and the younger woman unconsciously let her guard down slightly. The tension ebbed a bit between the two, and Regina attempted to hand the package she had retrieved to Ruby.
"What is that?" Ruby asked sharply.
"Please, just take it." Regina's words were a genuine request rather than an irritated command.
"I don't know what it is." Ruby said suspiciously. Wondering if perhaps it was some way to poison her. Regina rolled her eyes. The mayor was kicking herself for forgetting to give it to Dr. Hopper or even to Miss Blanchard. She had been thrown off by Emma's absence at the dinner, and now she had no choice but to trust Ruby.
"If something goes wrong, I need you to make sure Emma gets this." Regina said, finally just dropping the thing in Ruby's lap. The mayor felt her pulse starting to race under her skin.
"Goes wrong? What the hell does that mean!" Ruby shouted nervously.
"If something goes wrong you'll know it, just please promise me." Regina turned to look at Ruby for the first time since they had gotten in the car. The younger woman had never seen the mayor like this. She was actually begging. Ruby finally saw the sincerity in her eyes. Finally believed that she might actually care about Emma and wasn't just using her. The brunette said nothing else, but gripped the thick envelope and nodded. Regina felt only slightly relieved, her anxiety starting to pound through her body in earnest.
The pair traveled silently as the convoy raced down the road. There was only about another three miles before the end of town, and Regina's blood was thundering in her ears. I'm not going to make it. She realized. Regina felt her heart drop out of her body. She failed. She was too late. She had been so wrapped up in herself. In her own self-hatred and misery that she had thrown it all away. Thrown away her happy ending. Regina felt faint at the knowledge that this was over. She couldn't stop the tears. Couldn't stop them even though Ruby was looking at her wide-eyed not knowing whether to comfort her, or pretend it wasn't happening. But it was happening. Regina Mills was coming apart at the seams.
Another mile and they would have a definite answer, but the absence of taillights up ahead all but confirmed what Regina already knew in her heart. She had missed her. All Regina could think about was how much time she had wasted. How she had squandered Emma's constant offerings of love. Tears came bursting out of the mayor when they hit the half-mile mark, the "Welcome to Storybrooke" sign clearly visible. There was no evidence of the yellow Volkswagen anywhere. Regina brought the car to a grinding halt at the exact point where Storybrooke ended. Where the curse ended, keeping them trapped like rats in a dead-end maze. Regina wept openly with all the sorrow of a woman grieving the most painful loss. She felt like she had been physically ripped open. She would never get over this. She would never recover. Ruby felt her own tears begin to spill as she watched Mayor Mills crumble. The waitress didn't think before she put her arms around Regina and the grief-stricken woman leaned into her chest, letting what was left of her miserable heart shatter.
Regina's cries were heard in both vehicles that had stopped behind the Mercedes. No one spoke. There was nothing to be said. Each one could feel Regina's sorrow in their bones. It was a soul crushing mourn. Mary Margaret heard Henry begin to sniffle, holding in his tears. She undid his seatbelt, quickly pulling him into her arms. The boy cried into her body without pause. David and Kathryn looked at each other completely devastated, but still in the dark as to what was actually happening. They had their obvious suspicions, but everything was happening so quickly it felt surreal.
Leroy was the first to step out of the car. The alcohol in his system making him angry instead of sad. He cursed and kicked the shit out of his own truck. "Nothing ever goes right." He murmured before landing another blow against the bumper. "Everything is fucking shit." He kicked again, totally unaware of why he felt such an overwhelming surge of rage. Granny and Archie crawled out next. The Nolan's followed giving Henry some privacy. Regina didn't move. Ruby was sobbing too, for herself and for Regina - now truly believing that Regina Mills loved Emma Swan in the deepest way possible. There was no faking this, and Ruby knew that what Emma and the mayor had was true. She didn't want to believe it, but she couldn't help it. The more Regina cried the more Ruby cried. Had the mayor been capable of any coherent thought, she would have marveled at the strange set of circumstances that led her to not only be openly weeping in front of Ruby, but actually finding comfort in her warmth. It was an insane scenario.
"I lost her." Regina whispered, and Ruby held her tighter. Ruby had no idea how long they had been sitting there when Regina stopped her cries and stepped out of her car. Her muscles ached, and her head was pounding so hard she was sure it would split open at any moment. Regina went to her son, who had also gotten himself under control.
Everyone was out of their cars, which had formed a blockade along the road. Henry wrapped himself around his mother and squeezed. Regina wanted to console him, but she couldn't risk speaking and setting off another wave of tears, so she simply held him.
No one moved a muscle. It was as if they were almost afraid to return to town without Emma. It was a strange sensation that no one verbalized, but they all felt it with ever fiber of their respective beings. And there they stood, swaying in the freezing night air, when two white lights appeared in the distance.
"What's that?" David was the first to notice them.
"Lights. I think. Car lights." Ruby confirmed through tear swollen eyes. Regina's heart quickly became an acrobat and leapt into her throat. It couldn't be, she thought to herself. Regina looked down at Henry who was squinting. His eyes trying to focus on something in the distance, and then she turned to Mary Margaret who was standing beside Henry. Mary Margaret's face was red from the combination of crying and the cold wind that had been mercilessly thrashing around her legendary fair skin. The schoolteacher gathered strength, from where, she had no idea. She swallowed hard and nodded, placing her hand over Regina's, which was on Henry's shoulder. Regina drew her eyebrows together, asking with her eyes whether Mary Margaret knew what she was encouraging her to do. As if the woman could read her mind, Mary Margaret blinked hard for a few beats and then nodded once again. Regina took a deep breath to steady herself.
"It's her!" Ruby yelled, her perfect eyesight confirming what they hoped even in the pitch-black night. Regina felt her legs begin to quiver. This was it.
The yellow car slowed to a halt, and the group watched Emma put down her convenience store coffee and donut before getting out of her car. For a moment Emma thought she was hallucinating. Like this was some kind of mirage. A product of her grief.
"What's going on?" The blonde asked completely shocked by the scene before her. Regina and Henry stood in the middle of the pack, and were flanked by the Nolan's, Mary Margaret, Granny, Archie and Leroy. It was by far the strangest portrait she'd ever seen. Then she noticed all the wet red eyes. "Is someone dead?" She asked nervously when no one spoke. The group looked at Regina and she gave Henry's shoulder a squeeze before stepping forward.
"Emma you can't leave." Regina hadn't realized that she had lost her voice from sobbing. She walked closer to Emma so that the blonde would hear her.
"Oh that's rich! Now you forbid me to leaving town?! Is that what this little barricade is about? What? Did you pass a law that anyone named Emma Swan has to seek a permit before traveling on country road number 87?!" The blonde's voice boomed through the silence before being absorbed by the tress along the side of the road. Regina let Emma finish without stopping her.
"What I meant was you can't leave without hearing me out, please." The softness in Regina's voice was totally disarming. Emma didn't even realize she had stepped closer in order to hear her.
"What the fuck," Emma began through gritted teeth. "Could you possibly have to say now that you couldn't tell me months ago? Or last week? Or this morning?" Emma was tired of the game and she was furious that Regina had now involved their son and her friends.
"I admit that it has taken me far too long to realize what has been right in front of me all along. What I have not let myself see since the day we met." Regina inched forwards again, now only a few feet from Emma. The group behind her also moved, and Emma wondered what Regina had threatened them with to get them here, and more importantly, what the hell were they doing here.
"Yeah and what's that?" Emma said bitterly. The anger Emma felt came from the very core of her broken heart.
"Before I can tell you that, I have to explain. All I ask is that you let me get it out without interruption. I promise that if you still want to ask me questions afterward, or even if you can speak to me afterward, I will explain everything you want to know." The headlights from Emma's car illuminated Regina's face, but even without the advantage of sight, Emma knew that Regina was being completely honest. She had never seen this face before. Never seen Regina so raw with emotion. Her heart won over her screaming brain, and Emma nodded yes and softened her stance. Regina took a deep breath, the cold air stinging her lungs painfully. She pulled her scarf a little tighter and prepared to begin.
"I have done a lot of bad things." Regina began, but abandoned her prepared speech and just let what was left of her crushed heart speak. She took another labored breath. "I loved someone once . . ." Regina trialed off just for a moment. "A very long time ago." The whole group moved forward in large steps. Regina's voice was faint and no one wanted to miss this. The only person who moved hesitantly was Mary Margaret. She didn't need to hear the story – she already knew the ending. "I lost that love in the most tragic of ways. My mother discovered our relationship, and when I refused to abandon him for what she believed to be a more acceptable suitor, she killed him." Regina looked down for a moment before gathering the strength to continue. She hadn't talked about Daniel in so long, and now it felt like it had all happened a lifetime ago.
"She killed him by ripping out his heart in front of my very eyes and turning it to dust." Regina tried to make the ache in her chest dissipate, but it was impossible. "I grieved him every single day. Even as I married the betrothed my mother had chosen for me. Even as he forced me to be his wife in ways that I found degrading, and even as I loved his daughter like a sister." Regina paused to stop the sob she felt coming. "Even as I continued to take air into my lungs, I was dying. The sadness was excruciating, and little by little it consumed me. I didn't notice it at first, as it was a quiet seductive thing. I began to do things that I would have never imagined. Cruel things. I teetered on the brink of insanity and I surely slipped off the edge more than once." Regina took another deep breath. Her hoarse voice was the only sound in the moonless night. "The blackness grew and intertwined with the fibers of my being. My heart was weak from grief and it succumbed to the cold but endless void. One day I came to find myself unrecognizable. A stranger warped and wicked. One day I found myself . . . an evil queen." The voices behind them gasped in unison. Regina finally looked at Emma's face to find her slack-jawed but otherwise expressionless. Regina forced herself to continue despite the utter exhaustion she felt. She didn't want to lose her last chance.
"I lost my heart to the abyss, and I wanted everyone to feel my pain. To live with the unjustness of having their happiness torn from them. To live without their hearts as I had been forced to do." Regina spoke through gritted teeth remembering her anger from that time, letting the feeling take her for a moment before she pushed it away. "Then I concocted what I thought would be the ultimate revenge. I enacted a curse to take away everyone's chance at happiness, as I believed I had lost my own. I cursed them all, and myself, and we came to this place." Regina motioned with her arms to the space around them. Green eyes continued to be unresponsive, and Regina wondered for a moment whether the blonde had suffered a stroke, but she continued finding herself unable to stop now. "I thought we would stay here forever, and I felt vindicated watching others suffer - separated from their happiness, which in some cases was right in front of them." Regina released an odd laugh at the irony.
"Mayor, I don't think this weather is doing you well." Archie started toward Regina, but was stopped by Mary Margaret's arm across his chest. She looked at him with tear-filled eyes and implored him to stay put. Regina looked back at the scene, and still couldn't understand why Mary . . . Snow was helping her with this of all things. Regina pushed her thoughts aside in order to get through this. She was surprised the mouthy blonde had stayed quiet this long, and that the crew behind her wasn't trying to light her on fire.
"It was enough. Living in my vengeance. Taking joy in it, but then came Henry." Regina smiled. "And I actually noticed that my heart could feel something. It was a real love. A deep love. Then he brought you." Regina had to stop for another breath. Her scratchy voice was failing her. "From the moment I met you Emma Swan I knew you would be the end of me. I thought at first that you wanted to steal Henry from me. That you wanted to destroy me that way. So I decided to do everything it took to drive you out. I worked for months, but nothing I did turned out right, and then the part of my heart I thought long dead began to move with life. I thought. . . I think," Regina corrected "about you all the time. You have done the impossible. You have made me love you, and I was so afraid of that feeling - of being vulnerable, of losing someone again. . ." Regina took another breath. Her entire body shaking from the force of her confession. "I tried so hard not to love you," she whispered. "I did everything I could to push you away." Regina looked down in shame of her own actions. "And when I realized that you would break the curse. That you would break me, I became terrified." Regina couldn't stop the tears. Emma hadn't moved a muscle in her face or her body. It was really too late. Emma no longer cared. Either way Regina knew that for the first time in a very long time, she had done the right thing, and she didn't deserve Emma Swan. It was too much to ask.
"The last night we spent together," Emma quickly looked passed Regina to Henry, worried what Regina would say about that night. Regina shook her head, signaling that it would be ok. "I saw what I had done to you in all those months. I saw the blackness of my heart invade you and taint your soul. I can never risk that again, and so if I want to even try to be worthy of you, I have to let the curse shatter." Regina took another deep breath and moved close to Emma so that they were only inches apart. She ran her thumb across Emma's cheek as she cupped her face. "I have put down every barrier that I have around my heart. I am giving it to you to do with what you like. I . . . I don't know how to love very well . . ." Regina swallowed hard. "But I love you Emma. I love you so very deeply that I think it will kill me. If you find any love for me in your heart and give it to me willingly, the curse will break." Regina searched shocked green eyes. "If we are, as I believe, each other's True Love, our kiss will put an end to what I created out of hatred." Regina had made her case, and now she waited for the other woman's response. It was eerily silent once Regina had stopped talking. Not even the insects emitted a sound. It was as if everyone and everything around them was waiting to hear Emma's response.
As the motionless seconds passed Regina started to feel her heart thump in her throat. She stepped back to observe Emma's face. Her demeanor. It was . . . unusual. Too still.
"Regina." Emma finally spoke. "I think maybe you should sit in the car for a bit. How long have you been out here, it is pretty cold and that's not a heavy coat?" Emma was speaking much slower than normal.
"What? I'm not cold! Did you hear anything I just said!" Half of Regina's words were unintelligible as her voice struggled to shout, but was stymied by her raw throat.
"Of course, of course, I understand. You used to eat people's hearts. I get it." Emma put her hands around Regina and tried to inch her to her car where the heater was still running.
"What? No! I didn't eat anyone's heart! What is wrong with you? Weren't you listening!" Regina was outraged.
"Yes, right. I know." Emma made a motion to Archie for him to come near them, and the blonde prayed he carried some horse tranquilizer with him. Archie made his move before Mary Margaret could stop him, and he was at her side in a flash.
"Mayor, you have obviously suffered a tremendous trauma, and we can get to the bottom of this, let's just get inside." Regina was now flanked by Emma and Archie and was being shoved toward the small yellow car.
"I'm not crazy, you imbecile!" Regina shrieked at the redhead.
"Right, right, of course not, and I'm Pinocchio so I always tell the truth, right? So I know you're not lying." Archie was unprepared for this and the cold was making it hard to think. He couldn't recall the characters from Henry's book and it had been so long since the boy had even mentioned them. Regina rolled her eyes.
"You're Jiminy Cricket!" Regina and Henry yelled in unison. She looked back at the boy who had come running up to defend her sanity, even though she had made him doubt his own for a long time. The pitiful irony was not lost on Regina, and heart suffered a painful drop.
"It's true Emma! Everything she said! It's true! Use you're lie detector magic!" Henry was red faced and determined. Emma couldn't speak. Her mind was in a fog. Her brain was on overload. It was just too much. Love. . . Death. . . Evil Queens. . . Curses. . . Magic. . . Regina had called her by her first name, she had confessed her love for her, but Emma just couldn't wrap her head around it. It was simply too big.
"Listen Henry, I know you don't want me to go, but this is the real world buddy. There aren't curses or magic. Sometimes there are parts in life that are hard. That doesn't come from evil witches. . . it's just you know part of it." Emma tried to put her free hand around him, but he backed away.
"It's true! Why won't you believe us!" He yelled again and turned to hide his tears. Emma could hardly get herself to breathe, much less react to the boy's words. There was another deafening silence. Regina released herself from Archie and Emma and stood against the car. She looked at the stunned people just next to them. None of them spoke. Kathryn looked like her heart was absolutely breaking for her best friend. Ruby's tears had returned, but her expression was hard to read. The realization dawned on Regina slowly. It was pity. They were all looking at her with pity. Every last one of them except for her son and Mary Margaret. Regina locked eyes with the shorthaired brunette. . . asking her for help. Mary Margaret took a deep breath, both afraid and wholly unsure of what was about to come out of her mouth.
"It is true." Mary Margaret said softly, looking at Regina for a long time. Remembering more bits and pieces. Enough to know that what the woman had confessed was true. She looked at Emma. At her daughter. She wanted to run to her and hold her, but she knew that would be far too much to process right now. Snow couldn't bear to look to her left where David . . . James . . . was standing. Snow felt everyone's head turn and stare at her. She looked only at Emma. This was the priority. Without this, the curse wouldn't be broken.
"Emma." Snow moved gracefully and full of confidence, nothing like her Storybrooke incarnation. The blonde immediately detected the difference in her eyes and wondered if maybe she had fallen asleep at the wheel and was having a very vivid dream. Or maybe she was dead. "I know that you love her. You have loved her since the beginning. You have probably loved her all your life and just didn't know it." Snow put her hand on her daughter's cheek. She thought of her own love for the man standing a few feet behind her. How her love had always been there just waiting for him to unlock it. Emma didn't speak. She was more than a little mortified that her roommate had just made this admission for her in front of everyone, including Ruby.
"If you still feel that. If you can still access that part of your heart, please don't walk away from this. If you kiss her, with your heart open, ready and willing to give it up, the curse will break. If it doesn't you can throw all of us in the loony bin." Emma couldn't believe it. Mary Margaret seemed so sure of this, but this was crazy. Impossible. Madness. "What do you have to lose?" Snow asked, sensing Emma was on the hook and hoped she could seal this.
Everything, Emma thought. She couldn't open her heart again just to have Regina crush it. She just wouldn't survive it. Emma felt the tears sting her eyes. She just couldn't do it. Regina finally moved from her position, and took Emma by the hand. She walked them just a little farther away from the stunned silent crowd.
"Emma," hearing her name on Regina's lips made her heart back flip and dive into her stomach. "I will never hurt you again. I love you. You are everything." Regina's words were simple and as Emma searched her vast brown eyes, she knew the words were true. She had wanted to hear them for so long. She had imagined the moment a hundred times, and yet this was better than any dream. She felt her heart leap and pound willing her to say yes. Emma knew this would be a terrible decision. She would die from this heartbreak, but she couldn't help herself. She loved Regina with all her flaws. She loved her in spite of herself. She loved her despite her better judgment. Her heart already belonged to Regina. She had taken it months ago. If this was some elaborate game, then Regina could win it because Emma had forfeited her turn. The blonde closed her eyes for a moment and then braced herself for the pain to come. Emma leaned forward, her eyes never leaving Regina's. Regina was shaking as she moved forward to meet Emma's lips, her eyes closing instinctively. The moment their lips touched, Regina felt a warmth trickle through her body like melted wax rolling off of a lit candle and then, all of a sudden, she felt a pain shoot from her belly button, into her spine and out the bottom of her feet. The earth shook and then an invisible pulse of energy shot out from where she and Emma stood, knocking everyone else to the ground.
Regina didn't want to open her eyes. Didn't want this to be over. Didn't want to die.
"Holy shit!" Leroy screamed from his place on the floor. He felt like his head had been put in a vice. He looked around touching his body to make sure all his parts were still attached. Then he looked up at Regina who was standing in front of Emma, their lips still joined together. "You fucking bitch!" He yelled again and scrambled to his feet. His aim was to strangle Regina with his bare hands. His words ended the exchange, and Emma drew back. Regina kept her eyes closed a few moments longer.
"Don't you dare." Snow stood in front of him and he obeyed his queen's command.
"Snow!" James yelled and ran to her. They stared at each other without speaking. They didn't need words to understand each other. Red had raced to her grandmother, and they embraced. Henry was wide-eyed. When his mother had told him everything was true, he had almost had a stroke, but now he could hardly believe his own eyes.
"Regina, I . . . I don't understand." Emma was dumbfounded.
"It's broken." She whispered into Emma's lips. The women looked at each other once again. Emma was searching for another answer. This was simply unbelievable.
"I'm going to kill you!" James screamed and stalked toward Regina. "Get away from my daughter!" He yelled.
"Whoa!" Emma stood in front of Regina, reaching one arm behind her back to hold the brunette still and extending the other to stop the charging man. "No one is killing anyone." The rest of the group had circled around James. All except Mary Margaret, Henry and Archie. Kathryn was on the edge. Her face a nonstop flow of conflicting emotions. Regina was too exhausted to speak in her own defense.
"She has to pay for what she did!" Granny yelled, and Emma looked at the white-haired woman with surprise.
"She stole you away from us!" James argued, looking Snow for support.
"She did what I drove her to do when I betrayed her all those years ago." Snow spoke softly and stood directly in front of Regina once Emma felt it safe to move to the side. When the blonde let down her guard to check on Henry, Snow struck Regina across the face with a hard slap. "That is for taking my daughter from me." She said evenly. Emma jumped into action, but Regina extended her arm and stopped Emma from interfering. Regina now understood the pain of losing a true love and a child. Regina made no effort to retaliate. Snow lunged forward, but instead of landing another blow, she threw her arms around Regina. "I'm sorry Regina, I didn't know she would do that. I am so sorry." Snow said softly, she felt the tears leak from her eyes as she remembered the evening Cora had tricked her into spilling Regina's secret. Regina returned the embrace, feeling a tiny wound on her heart heal ever so slightly.
Emma was stunned. Her brain was having trouble catching up to the changing world around her. She held Henry close, and her mouth still hung open in shock as she tried to understand what was happening.
Suddenly, Snow shot up bolt straight. "Regina." she whispered, and the fear was reflected in the other woman's eyes.
"They will be coming," Regina responded, having already realized that an angry mob would be hunting her as they awoke from the curse. Regina had already made the necessary arrangements for when they managed to capture her and kill her. She reached down and hugged her son. Henry threw his arms around his mother, already starting to cry.
"What? What do you mean?" Emma said worry evident on her face.
"Everyone has their memory back. Everyone knows what I have done. They will seek justice." Regina said resolutely. "I love you very much Henry. You be a good-"
"No! No! No!" Emma yelled waiving her hands. "None of this! No goodbye!" The blonde had enough goodbyes for a lifetime. "No one is going to do anything to you. We are not in the world of dungeons and dragons! We have laws! Rules!" Emma felt herself becoming frantic.
"We should find a safe place Regina, until we can calm them." Snow urged Regina to move, and the woman nodded. She would try to survive this, even if she didn't expect to. "We should go, now." Regina nodded once more in agreement with Snow's words. "Let's go everyone! My apartment, they won't look for her there! If you want to help come along, if not just don't get in the way!" Snow yelled commands like a practiced monarch. Emma couldn't get around this part at all. David Nolan and Mary Margaret Blanchard were here parents . . too fucking weird.
"I'll take your car and hide it somewhere safe." James begrudgingly spoke to Regina and disappeared into the black sedan, where the keys had been left in the ignition. He didn't spare a second glance at Kathryn, who hadn't said a word. Ruby hadn't spoken either, she knew what she would become . . . again, and she couldn't help but wish the curse hadn't been broken.
Regina, Emma and Henry shoved themselves into Emma's car and took the lead in the motorcade back to town. The three of them drove in silence. No one knew where to begin. Emma slipped her cold hand into Regina's and they intertwined their fingers, gripping each other tightly. Both silently praying for more time.
"Well I think he's finally asleep." Emma smiled at the brunette lying in her bed wearing her favorite old sweatshirt. The seam on the neck was frayed and the black had washed out to a muted version of itself. The blue letters that said "Boston" were hardly visible. The shirt had been the first thing to give her a dream. Something to work for. And she had done it. Managed to get herself there. Only to end up here. Emma couldn't help but grin to herself.
"What?" Regina quirked an eyebrow at the smiling blonde. The brunette had nearly collapsed on reaching Mary Margaret's apartment, and agreed to lie down in Emma's room. She knew she and Henry were safe, at least for the night, and she allowed herself the luxury of rest.
"Nothing." Emma smiled. "Just finally got you in my bed." Emma undid her jeans and pulled them off along with her boots. Her sweater was next, and the blonde scurried under the covers in her boy shorts and white t-shirt. "And it only took the end of the world." Emma laughed, needing to find humor in this insane evening.
"Only." Regina smirked, the thought that this could be the end renewed her fear for her son's wellbeing. "Where did Henry end up wanting to sleep?" Regina asked, trying too calm herself. "Well after David . . . James" she corrected, "told another dragon-slaying story, he curled up on the couch. We re-enforced the front door and locked the fire escape. He's safe. You're safe." Emma propped herself up on one elbow facing Regina. She stroked silky brown hair, feeling like she was in bed with a completely different woman. Regina seemed to relax a bit at the news.
"So you are a queen, huh?" Emma gave her a lopsided smile.
"Yes princess, although I no longer have a kingdom." Regina joked.
"So can I call you 'your majesty?'" Emma flirted, and leaned forward to place a kiss on Regina's lips. They were even softer than she remembered them.
"Mmm hmm." Regina muttered, her lips still pressed against Emma's mouth.
"Well your majesty, did you really mean everything you said tonight?" Emma pulled back to look into Regina's eyes. The blonde was still desperately trying to adjust to the dramatically different reality she was now living in.
"I did." She said seriously. "I love you Emma Swan, and I'm so sorry that I was too stupid to see it earlier. I'm sorry for everything." Regina searched green eyes looking for forgiveness. The brunette desperately wished she had done everything differently.
"Well, you'll just have to make it up to me." Emma smirked, and leaned in for a more passionate kiss. Too exhausted for a heavy conversation now. There would be time for that later, she hoped.
"Emma," Regina was never going to grow tired of saying her name. "This is serious. These people will find me. Even your father isn't entirely convinced about me staying alive. They could kill me." Regina had choked up. She thought of Henry and felt fear flood her senses.
"Can't you like zap them or something?" Emma scrunched her eyebrows much like her son. Emma had no desire to talk about the fairytale stuff, much less the prospect of Regina being killed. She couldn't even begin to think about David Nolan as her father. Her brain could only process one major change at a time. And right now all she wanted to think about was how Regina Mills loved her. She wasn't concerned anyone would touch a hair on Regina's perfect head. They'd have to get through Emma first, and that wasn't going to happen.
"There is no magic here." Regina couldn't help but smile at Emma's expression.
"Oh, well, good thing you have the sheriff in your back pocket then." Emma placed a kiss on Regina's cheek.
"I seem to recall that Storybrooke has no sheriff. She quit. I haven't been able to find a suitable replacement." Regina said in a mock mayoral tone. The blonde noticed that even her speech had changed. It wasn't just her voice, which was still raspy, but her actual way of speaking. It was softer. It was missing the edge.
"Well, I don't think I would mind having my job back. . ." Emma said nonchalantly.
"Is it because you like it when I call you Sheriff Swan?" Regina flirted, wrapping her arms around Emma and pulling her closer.
"It's because you like my nightstick so much." Emma whispered running her tongue along Regina's ear.
"You are terrible. This is no way for a princess to behave!" Regina feigned offense.
"Yes, my queen." Emma responded in an entirely too natural tone. Regina swatted at Emma as she pushed her away.
"Your parents are in this house, and our son. Is that how you plan on sleeping?" Regina changed the conversation and pointed to the blonde's lack of clothing. Emma shrugged.
"It gets hot in here." Emma smirked.
"I bet it does." Regina said eyeing the blonde's body. It was Emma's turn to shove Regina playfully.
"Parents. Son." Emma reminded.
"We could be very very quiet." Regina turned to put her thigh in between Emma's unclothed legs.
"I don't know. We have never been able to do that before." Emma joked.
"We have never had this kind of incentive." There was no need for the brunette to explain what that incentive was. Regina let her lips follow Emma's jaw. She needed to do this one more time. This could be her last night alive and she needed to show Emma that she loved her. Not just tell her. The brunette never wanted Emma to doubt her ever again.
Emma felt the change in Regina. She suddenly understood her urgency. Her fear. Emma moved further underneath the brunette, so that Regina was positioned completely on top of her, and Emma wrapped her arms around her neck bringing her down to her lips. Their clothing quickly became cumbersome. Regina made quick work of Emma's T-shirt and bra, not wanting any barrier between them. Emma slipped off her own underwear and tossed it aside. Before Regina could enjoy the view, Emma grabbed the bottom of the hooded sweatshirt and pulled it over Regina's head. Emma gasped when the yellowing marks on Regina's neck came into view. She felt tears of shame and pain burn her eyes.
"God, Regina." Emma whispered, and looked away. Regina had almost forgotten about her neck and she brought her hand up to touch the nearly healed bruise.
"Emma, please. It wasn't you." Regina hadn't wanted to talk about this now. She didn't want to try and explain how the corrosive blackness of her heart had leaked out and invaded Emma. She would explain later, but not now. Not when there may not be a tomorrow – at least not for her. Emma didn't speak. She felt terrible. She had done that to Regina. It was an unforgivable act of violence.
"My love. . . I promise, it will make more sense when you know more about me. About who I used to be." Regina held Emma's chin and nudged her to look in her eyes. Green eyes locked with brown. It was a pure exchange. Honest. Emma allowed Regina to press her mouth against her lips once again. Slowly parting them with her tongue. Regina gently explored the sweetness of Emma's mouth as if it were their first kiss. Her lips tingled and opened the blonde's mouth wider and pressed her tongue in deeper. Emma moved her tongue against Regina and a soft sigh escaped her throat as she felt Regina's hand softly move up her side and rest on her ribcage. Emma moved her hands to remove Regina's bra and then slid down her back to take hold of the gray pajama pants Regina was wearing and yanked them down, panties included. Regina kicked off the garments, which landed in a heap on the floor.
"You look very sexy in my clothes you know." Emma whispered as she ran her hands along Regina's sides and down to her bare hips.
"Is that so?" Regina quirked her eyebrow and smirked. Her lips already swollen from their kiss.
"Mm hmm. Maybe you should wear them every night." The when we go to sleep together, part stayed in Emma's head. Regina knew exactly what she meant and her heart soared. Regina couldn't actually believe that after everything, Emma was still willing to stay with her. Still wanted her.
"I would like that." Regina said simply, her heart feeling so full she was afraid it might burst. The brunette bent forward again to bring Emma into a passionate kiss. Another sigh escaped the blonde's lips as she felt Regina's naked form flush against her own body. Every part of her was covered by Regina's skin, and she never wanted that feeling to end.
Regina continued to kiss her lips, feeling the desperate pull of teeth and stifled sighs. Regina moved across her neck, gently placing feather light kisses as she went.
"You have to be quiet. Okay?" Regina whispered in her ear. Emma bit down on her own lip and nodded. She would say anything for Regina to continue. Regina tested the blonde by grinding down on Emma's thigh, letting the blonde feel the heat of her center on her skin, while simultaneously letting out a breathy moan right in her ear.
"Fuck!" Emma moaned and gripped Regina's back.
"You're going to have to do better than that dear." Regina was still smoldering in her hear with her insanely sexy voice. Emma moved her thigh against Regina once again and the brunette helplessly moved against it. Her eyes fluttering shut and a loud sigh tumbling off her lips as heat shot through her core.
"So do you. . . dear." Emma smirked and then got lost in the sight of the woman on top of her. Slowly and sensually rolling her hips to create friction against Emma's skin. Seeking the heat of her body. Emma used her hands to guide her movements more forcefully. Emma felt like she was truly in the presence of a queen. Everything about Regina was regal and effortlessly elegant. The blonde bit down on the inside of her cheek to stop the torrent of sound dying to escape from her body, as she watched Regina roll her hips, riding her thigh slowly in an entrancing rhythm.
Regina felt the throbbing wetness of her center increase, and willed herself to stop. It was too easy for her to fall into her old habits. Into the pattern of carnal desire she had developed with the blonde. This wasn't about having an orgasm, although she was sure that would happen later. This was about loving Emma. Making love to her. Regina's eyes opened and met with Emma's darkening green ones.
"You are so beautiful." Regina said softly. Observing the growing blush in Emma's cheeks. Emma didn't speak. She wasn't sure where her voice had run off too. "I love you, Emma." Regina had been so afraid to even think that, and now she didn't want to stop saying it. There was a long pause before Emma could make a sound.
"I love you Regina." Emma's eyes were boring into Regina's soul. "I have always loved you." She said, her heart so full of emotion. Regina kissed her again and for a long time before she repositioned herself so that her hips were between the blonde's thighs. Slowly, the brunette began trailing kisses down the blonde's neck and her chest.
Regina's lips continued the slow descent down soft white skin. She kissed over old scars Regina has never noticed before in their previous encounters. She felt like she was discovering Emma for the first time. Now that she was not lost in her hatred, in her need for power, she could see what had always been in front of her. Regina used her fingertips to trace over three long white scars under her Emma's ribcage.
"Foster mom with a temper." Emma whispered looking down at the darker woman evaluating her body with overwhelming tenderness. Regina's heart broke at how simply she uttered the words. How the violence of it seemed so normal and guilt raced over her body. She was the cause of every bad thing Emma had lived through. Regina pressed her lips lightly against every centimeter of the old wound. Emma closed her eyes and felt the specter of pain leave her. The brunette continued down Emma's abdomen, feeling the goosebumps rising on fare skin as her lips passed. She stopped at a smaller mark. A single thick and short dark pink scar. Regina ran her thumb over it. Feeling its puckered texture. Emma saw dark brown eyebrows stitch together in inquiry.
"I was seventeen. Disagreement with a very nice young lady that felt I was in possession of her car." Emma said with a mischievous smile. Regina cocked her eyebrow and smirked. Making a mental note to ask about this later and continued placing kisses on her skin. Emma closed her fingers around luscious brown hair when she realized what Regina's next discovery would be. Regina sensed the blonde's body shift as she trailed from her hipbone to the space where her pelvis began. Regina found a faint red line etched just above her pelvis. How have I not seen this before? Regina thought as she recalled the countless times she had showered attention on this particular part of the blonde's anatomy, but had somehow never seen this. She had somehow never really looked. Emma brought her other hand up from her side and caressed Regina's face gently.
"Henry." She said simply, with a smile full of love. Regina returned the same smile. The brunette used both hands to hold Emma's hips and nuzzle the place she just kissed. Emma wrapped her arms around Regina's head and let herself remember Henry's birth. Emma will one day tell the other woman of how she came to be pregnant, but not now. There had been enough ugliness to last them a while and right now was about love not pain.
Regina felt herself overcome with emotion. A mixture of joy for the birth of the boy that returned to her the ability to love, and sadness for separation he suffered from Emma. Regina continued the offering of affection all over Emma's body and traveled slowly to the inside of her left thigh.
Emma's warm loving smile was quickly replaced by her biting down on her bottom lip. She could feel Regina's hot breath and soft lips grazing the sensitive skin. The blonde reflexively brought her hands back to her sides grabbing fistfuls of mattress as she anticipated where else Regina Mills mouth would venture.
Dark brown eyes traveled up Emma's body until they locked with green. Regina couldn't stop her lip from curling in a smile as she saw how quickly the blonde reacted to her. While still staring into light eyes, Regina moved to Emma's right thigh, letting her lips lightly pass over Emma's center as she went. The blonde couldn't stop her hips from rushing up to meet Regina's mouth, but the brunette had moved before she could make further contact. Regina couldn't stop the smirk from forming on her lips, and slowly extended her tongue to let the tip just barely touch Emma's rapidly heating skin. Without breaking her gaze, Regina continued to slowly drag her tongue along Emma's inner thigh. The expression on Emma's face was growing considerably darker as she watched Regina inch closer to where she wanted her. As she moved, Regina flattened her tongue, making the blonde feel more of her and she couldn't stop the groan that rumbled in her throat at the blonde's reaction.
Emma closed her eyes, giving in to the rapture. The heat of Regina's mouth near her center, but not quiet there, created a flood of arousal in anticipation. Emma quickly covered her face with a pillow, knowing that she couldn't stay silent much longer. Just as she shoved the pillow in her mouth, she felt Regina take a long swipe along her entire length with the tip of her tongue. The blonde's body convulsed of its own volition. She felt the molten heat of pleasure course through her body. Her hips raising up, begging for more contact. Regina gripped Emma's thighs to keep her still as she licked every inch of the woman before her slowly. Painfully slowly. Regina kissed Emma's core the same way she would kiss her mouth. Her full red lips capturing the soaked flesh, and her tongue exploring the trapped prey. Regina moved at a near glacial pace as she entered the blonde with her tongue gently and then returned to cradle Emma's hard clit between her lips sucking on it with intense pressure and unhurried movements. Regina's hands roamed over the expanse of Emma's abdomen and up to take both of her nipples into her hands, rolling the stiff peaks between her fingers.
Regina heard the stifled noises the blonde was making through the pillow, and she new Emma couldn't last much longer. The brunette couldn't help her self. Couldn't stop using her lips, tongue and teeth in all the ways she had learned drove Emma insane. She continued to bring Emma to the edge and then stopped before the blonde could tumble over. Regina sensed the blonde wouldn't be able to do it again, and she brought herself up from between Emma's sweaty thighs. Regina's back was sore from holding in all her usual moans and sighs. She truly hadn't wanted to disrespect this house, but she couldn't stop herself. The least she could do was spare anyone from hearing them.
Emma almost cried at the loss of Regina from between her legs. Her core pounding and throbbing with desire.
"What's wrong?" Emma whispered. Wondering if perhaps she had been too loud without realizing it. Regina snaked up Emma's body and put her knee on either side of Emma's left thigh once more, but held her body off of the blonde, making no contact with her skin.
"Nothing." Regina said looking into Emma's dark green eyes. Admiring her flushed cheeks and swollen lips. "I want to be able to see you." Regina said softly, and bent down to kiss pink lips. Emma moaned into Regina's mouth as she tasted herself on her tongue. She would never get enough of that. Of the taste of herself on Regina's lips.
Regina brought her hand over Emma's abdomen. Letting her fingertips move slowly up to the blonde's chest and gripping the firm flesh while moving her tongue deeper into Emma's mouth, resulting in a low groan from the blonde. Regina responded in kind and moved her hand more forcefully back down over tense stomach muscles. Regina's elegant fingers found Emma's center and lightly graced the soaked skin made slick with arousal. Emma found it hard to stifle her moans without the pillow. Regina pressed into Emma's mouth harder to capture the sounds before they traveled through the thin walls.
Another groan erupted from Emma's throat as Regina pushed her middle finger deep into the blonde, she was finding it impossible to stay quiet with Regina hitting the perfect spot. Regina's movements remained slow at first, but soon her thrusts turned deeper and faster. Their eyes remained locked on each other as if nothing else existed. Right now there was nothing but irregular breaths and hushed moans.
Quickly Emma was close again. Her body growing rigid with the anticipation of an earth-shattering orgasm. The blonde pulled her arm around Regina's waist and pulled her down so their bodies were flush together. Emma's thigh positioned against Regina's center.
"Emma," Regina gasped when the blonde pressed her thigh further against Regina's hot soaked center.
"I need to feel you." Emma whispered as quietly as she could, but her words were a groan and Regina felt her body ache with desire. Regina let herself begin to rock. Her hips moving in rhythm with the hand still working inside of Emma. She couldn't deny Emma's wish. She would probably never be able to say no to her ever again. Regina pressed her palm against Emma's clit finally blessing it with much needed attention. Emma bit down on her lip as she arched her back, her body growing more tense, feeling like she would explode. Like she would die and go to heaven. Like she was already there. The sensation of Regina's inside of her and the sight of the brunette grinding into her thigh above her, her wet heat a constant reminder of the woman's arousal, was too much. Emma shut her eyes.
"Please," Regina whispered. Her words a soft plea. "Don't leave me." She said, wanting never to lose contact with the shinning green orbs. The bastion of love she had finally acknowledged. Emma smiled, understanding the need to keep this connection. The fear that this was a dream, or that it would end tomorrow, was powerful. Emma willed her eyes to open and remain trained on Regina, on the woman she loved, on the woman that loved her back.
Regina felt her climax build as her swollen clit hit Emma's hot skin at the perfect angle. She stared into Emma's eyes and bit her own lip hard. Trying to convey the message. Emma understood immediately as she felt the moisture on her thigh grow to a definite pool. Emma clenched around Regina's finger and held her fast against her trembling body. They held on tight, like they were afraid to fall off the earth, as wave after wave crashed into them hard. The pleasure felt endless and all the while their gaze never failed. They locked on to one another unwilling to give up. It felt like a century passed as they quivered and thrashed unable to stop.
Finally, when the fatigue was too great, Regina let her body fall and rest on Emma side. Her body no longer on top of Emma. The blonde instinctively turned on her side as well and green and brown gazes locked once again. Arms and legs a tangled mess. Neither woman wanted to separate even an inch - despite the heat their bodies were producing. Emma was right, Regina thought, it does get hot in here.
"I love you." Emma whispered after analyzing every little part of Regina's face. She made a mental note to ask Regina about the scar on her lip. She wanted to know everything about this woman.
"I love you Emma." Regina replied and stroked Emma's blonde hair with a tenderness Emma had never felt from any other person in her life. The pair just lay there. Staring. Touching. Kissing. Breathing. Until at some point, they drifted off to sleep. Together.
Six Months Later. . .
"Remember James is picking you up from school today." Regina spoke as she ground some coffee beans. The boy was just sitting down to breakfast.
"I know. We are going to the movies!" He said excitedly and dug into his pancakes.
"And don't forget that we have an appointment with Archie tonight." Emma said as she walked into the kitchen, tucking her shirt into her pants and adjusting her police uniform belt.
"How could I forget?" Regina said with a fake smile. They had turned into a regular American family. Therapy twice a week. They had individual sessions, couples sessions and her favorite. . . Sessions with Snow and Charming. Regina would never admit it, but it was helping to resolve old problems and seemed to repair some of the damage she had done to Emma. Henry was the only one given a pass for a clean bill of mental health. Archie was shocked by how easily the boy had adapted to his new family and the unbelievable world around him. It all just made perfect sense to Henry. The only time he had been upset was when Regina had resigned from office to appease the angry mob. Interestingly when Rumpelstiltskin was the only one running for the position, Regina won the race as a write-in candidate by a landslide. The brunette recalled how Rumple had shown up on her doorstep afterwards and asked her to "please" refuse to return as mayor, but the word had no effect. Regina had laughed hysterically in his face and the man had just slinked away powerless as a mouse.
"And don't be late. I'm picking you up right at four." Emma stood behind Regina until she turned and handed the blonde her coffee with a peck on the lips.
"Gross!" Henry made a face at the sight of his moms kissing and grabbed his empty plate from the counter, tossed it in the sink and ran off to get dressed for school.
"That's what I'm going to do to you when you bring over your first girlfriend!" Emma yelled after him while still laughing. Emma leaned over behind Regina, kissing her neck, before walking away to prepare lunch for each of them to take on their respective days.
Regina smiled nervously to herself as she finished fixing her own coffee. She felt the thin gold band in her blazer pocket. The only thing she had left from her father. Regina felt grateful that the curse had brought them to a place where she could do this properly. Just living together wasn't enough. She wanted to show her commitment to Emma Swan. Regina took a deep breath and ran over her plan for that evening in her head once more.
Rumpelstiltskin can only hear the sounds of his own angry footsteps as he nearly trips over a fallen log and then slips in mud landing on one knee. He clutches the glass vile tighter and laughs like a mad man when he spots his target in the clearing.
"Think you're going to get one over on me, do you dearie?!" He speaks to the wind in a high-pitched squeal. He no longer sounds anything like Mr. Gold. His face is contorted and his skin has started to take on an inhuman yellow pallor.
Finally, the twisted little man arrives at the lonely well in the middle of nowhere. He lets out an eerie cackle before licking his chops in anticipation. He carefully removes the cork from the vile and laughs with all the glee in the world. He starts to dance a little jig before he makes himself be serious and focus on the task at hand.
"Without further adieu," he says to no one. "Let's see how you like this!" He drops just a touch of the vile's contents into the well. He feels a slight rumble as the earth seems to stretch awake from a long slumber. "I'm guessing . . . Not very much!" He throws his head back in another howl of laughter before draining the rest of the vile into the well. For a moment nothing happens until a clap of thunder and a wall of billowing purple smoke erupt from the ground and fill the sky with an incredible force. Rumple continues to laugh from his position on the ground where the explosion has sent him flying.
"Henry!" Regina yells throwing her coffee mug in the sink where it shatters in a spectacular fashion.
"Regina, what's wrong?" Emma runs to her side. The brunette's eyes are as wide as saucers and her face has gone pale. The brunette shakes her head and tries to swallow. Her mouth is dry and feels like its full of sand.
"Mom?" Henry asks from the doorway. Regina motions for him to come nearer, and he does.
"Regina. You're scaring me what's going on?" Emma asks, terrified by the expression on Regina's face.
The brunette wants to answer, but she can't. She has too many senses working at once. She feels it nearing and quickly embraces Emma and puts Henry in between them. She has no time to explain. She takes comfort in remembering that if she doesn't survive, Ruby still has her instructions to give her will, including her wish for Emma to have full custody of Henry, in the brown envelope she gave her months earlier. Without warning the billowing purple smoke crashes into them like a derailed train. It travels through Regina's flared nostrils and the darker woman fights the intoxicating effect of the crackling smoke. The trio is engulfed in the sweet smelling cloud, which whips and screams around them, but leaves nothing physically disturbed.
"What the fuck was that!?" Emma finally asks once the noise and haze subside, but doesn't release either Regina or Henry. Emma's voice clears the strange expression off of Regina's face. Regina holds her family tighter. Afraid of what this could mean. This is a game-changer and she knows it.
"Magic . . ." Regina says slowly. Afraid to speak the words into existence. "It's here."
A/N: I have to say this was a bittersweet chapter to write. I have grown sort of attached to these gals!
I truly hope you liked where it ended and that everything came together in the finale. I know that I kept Regina's thoughts and feelings as a question mark for some major parts of the story, and that was intentional. Everything was building for this ending, but I wanted you to feel as surprised as Emma! I hope it worked ;) I know that was a little frustrating at times and made RM seem like a heartless monster more than once, but I think for a person with RM's background love is probably the most difficult thing in the world to give in to, and so I didn't think it could happen until the walls she built around herself were blown sky high. Also I intentionally wrote the last two sections in a different tense. :)
Thank you guys, from the bottom of my heart, for reading. When I first gathered up the nerve to write and post this, I had no idea that anyone would really get into it and the response has been overwhelming. I can't thank you all enough for the encouragement and kind words throughout this process.
Very special thank you to RileyGirl1 who kindly beta-ed this in the last several chapters. Your help was invaluable and your work exceptional! Thank you!
I don't feel very inspired by the current season to say there will be a sequel (unless I write about Regina flattening the town full of ungrateful jerks and hideously unappreciative son!). Although I'm not ruling out a part two or new story, I just don't have one in the works. I think I need a little break from this, as it took a surprising amount of time to write this story. But, I would like to write again, so please feel free to leave suggestions/prompts in a comment! Lol!
This has been a phenomenal experience, and I couldn't have done this without you guys reading!