A/N: Dedicated to giftofamber. Title comes from one of my very favorite Tori Amos songs: "Bells For Her" – "Can't stop what's coming; can't stop what is on its way…"
Her hands were shaking; she couldn't believe what had just happened. She'd done it! She was free. She had taken charge of her own destiny, and it felt amazing.
There wasn't time to pack, she fled to the stables. She'd worry about where she was going…what to do…everything else, later. She didn't bother with a saddle; they would be looking for her. The whole of the palace was gathered to witness her union with the king. She mounted Rocinante, finding it cumbersome in her heavy white gown, and took off in a roaring gallop. This time her mother would not pluck her from the horse's back and hold her captive.
"We'll be away from here soon, girl…" she whispered to the horse who breathed heavily through her nostrils in answers and charged on.
The forest passed by in a green blur; Regina sniffled back a cry of happiness, a deep whir of a sound escaped her lips in an excited exhalation. Her heart felt light for the first time since Daniel was killed. Never again…
She felt the air change and a pink snap and suddenly she was galloping back towards the castle walls….
"How?" She puzzled, fear taking hold deep in her belly. Rumplestiltskin materialized in front of her and she pulled the reins to stop short.
"Going somewhere?" Rumple drawled and shook his head, yellow green eyes boring into her.
"My mother is gone, and now I shall go," Regina lifted her chin; she found her head felt heavy from the weight of the crown she still wore.
"A runaway bride, what a story, but not today, dearie," Rumple sat on a log and crossed his leather clad legs undercutting the seriousness of the situation.
"I will not be married. I don't want to be queen; I don't want power," Regina rejected it wholly. That is why she had done what she'd done to her mother, to have her chance to live her own life.
"Ah, but how do you know you don't want power, if you have never had it?" Rumple posed the question as if it were a mysterious riddle.
Regina blinked and leaned forward, her lips curling into a sneer, she snipped, "I want my own life. A life where no one has control of me, surely you don't think I want to be enthroned to the King?"
"You will be married today. It's your destiny I'm afraid, your mother didn't tell you? You never had a choice in it. You probably won't be a very good wife, but you can't challenge destiny," Rumple's voice was snotty and cocky he strode toward Regina using a little flick of magic to fix her hair and mend her dress where she had gotten it dirty on the ride.
"I don't know how to be queen or a wife," Regina pleaded, watching as her jewels shined impossibly bright and touched her head in surprise as the crown straightened upon it.
"I've never been a wife- or a queen, but I the key to marriage is simple..." Rumple teased spreading his arms wide as he spoke, a wry smile upon his lips. "Communication."
"Why should I take marriage advice from you? I didn't agree to this union, it was my mother!" Regina twisted and her shoulders slumped. Where would she go now, anyway? She wouldn't survive two days in the enchanted forest with no survival skills. She hadn't thought things through. She had no choice to go back and go through with the wedding.
"I don't even know what to do…for the king," Regina trailed off, her voice quiet, low and mournful.
"Are you nervous about your wedding night? Is that the source of your stress?" Rumple raised his eyebrows and flicked back his hair.
"I know how sex works," Regina said proudly, but her nerves betrayed her. She had no desire to please the king. She could only think of Daniel in that way; and she'd never had the chance to share her body with him. She had wanted to give herself to him and him alone. Her heart clenched at the mere thought. How would she bear to lay with Leopold when her heart belonged to Daniel?
"I can see you're conflicted, sweet virgin girl. You know, I could give you a spell to ease the strain of it, make it enjoyable for you. An enchantment to turn the king from old and haggard into whomever you fancy in your mind. You could have any fantasy lover of your choice: a young and handsome prince, your befallen stable boy, or even the lovely and soft touch of another woman. Don't pretend you don't desire it, sweetie. You would only feel the touch you wanted and it would all be for your pleasure, not for his."
Regina remained suspicious. The bells chimed from within the palace gates like a warning, "What's the price?"
"No price, on that one my dear, you'll be getting married today no matter if you accept a lifetime of pleasure or a lifetime of misery. I do believe it's the best wedding gift you'll be receiving, hehe!" Rumple conjured a red glowing potion and handed the vial to Regina. She took it and wrinkled her nose in disgust.
"I can hear the wedding bells chiming. You better hurry back, child. They're chiming for you."