So, I'm going stir crazy over the 'Lacey' promo, I just want to strangle anyone who tries to torture Regina. That woman just can't catch a break.

This story is nearing its close, enjoy this new chapter.

Ch. 13 – Brown Eyed Girl

This morning when she woke up to find Regina in her arms, still sleeping soundlessly it was an image that Emma thought she could definitely get used to. Brushing aside brown locks Emma placed soft kisses on a tanned shoulder while her right hand traced along a smooth hip.

Regina stirred in her sleep, a soft hum escaping her lips. She raised a hand to entwine with the one on her hip, lacing their fingers. Slowly the brunette turned her head and cracked her eyes open to look at the woman pressed against her back, blonde curls glowing gold in the morning light. All she could do was smile.

"Hi," Emma greeted, her eyes never leaving brown.

"Hello," Regina replied, shifting slightly so she could face the blonde a little easier.

Emma raised a hand and traced her thumb along the scar that donned Regina's upper lip.

"I love you," she whispered before leaning down and capturing full lips with her own, right over the scar.

Regina barely had time to take in a breath before Emma was kissing her, gently but with evident lust just beneath the surface. A silent tear trickled from the corner of her eye at the joy she felt in that moment, that moment of knowing she was loved. It had happened so fast, yet she couldn't feel more at ease.

Emma shifted her lips to Regina's cheek to once again catch her tears, "Please don't cry," she soothed, rubbing their noses together before fluttering light kisses all around Regina's lips and jaw.

The brunette smiled and threaded her fingers in blonde locks, "It's because I'm happy."

Emma pulled back to look at her but Regina kept her fingers tangled in soft hair, "After all these years I didn't think it would happen, but I can finally say I've found happiness. You have given that to me Emma."

She held the blonde's gaze for a moment before pulling her back down, putting as much love into the kiss as she could and was elated when Emma responded in kind.

They stayed in bed a while longer, just enjoying being in the others presence before finally rising to prepare for the daunting day ahead.

XxXxX

It was nearing Christmas and if there was one holiday that Emma would pick to celebrate it would be Christmas, especially now that she had people to share it with. She could finally say she had a real family, something she had never expected to have growing up.

Today she was going to break that barrier and get her son back, not even Rumpelstiltskin was going to ruin her chance of having a real Christmas celebration.

The two women stood on the porch, wrapped in their winter attire staring at the light blanket of snow that had fallen overnight.

Emma turned and pulled Regina to her, placing a chaste kiss on her lips in an attempt to calm her nerves.

"You really think I can do this?"

Regina's gaze was unwavering and sharp when she replied, "You're the only one who can."

Emma nodded, great, no pressure. She released the brunette but kept a firm hold on a gloved hand, "Don't let go," she mumbled before they both disappeared in a cloud of gold.

Not moments later did they find themselves standing a few feet before the boundary line, thankfully all in one piece.

"Well, off to a good start at least!" Emma exclaimed on her success of poofing them to the correct spot without any missing body parts.

"Oh Miss Swan, I am impressed, teleporting already?"

Emma inwardly groaned upon seeing Gold himself standing off to the side of the road, wearing his trademark smirk. She could sense her peaceful morning quickly diminishing.

"I do hope this means I won't be disappointed."

"You won't be," Emma ground out, hoping she was right.

Gold stayed where he was leaning lightly on his cane, eyes glued to Emma's form.

The blonde walked towards the spray painted line and looked up to see nothing but the stretch of road and forest in front of her. The barrier had turned invisible once again since their last visit.

Taking a deep breath she raised her palm but before she could make any sort of contact with the barrier she felt Regina's hand on her forearm halting her movements.

She looked over with her eyebrow raised in silent question when Regina shook her head.

"Let me do this part, you need to save your strength."

Emma nodded in agreement wordlessly thankful because in all honestly she really didn't have much of a clue as to what she was doing. It seemed no matter how much she practiced, she would never get used to this magic thing.

Once again Emma watched in rapt attention at how Regina steeled her features into a look of concentration, bringing her hand up to draw the barrier out of hiding.

A low huff escaped the brunette's lips when the barrier didn't immediately become visible.

"What's wrong?" Emma asked.

"I don't know," the brunette responded with honest confusion, "it's like it's learned how to defend itself since the last time we were here, it's fighting my magic."

Regina scrunched her brow and willed more magic to flow through her fingertips.

Emma remembered the words Regina had so often used; magic is about emotion, as she gazed at the woman beside her. Letting the image of the brunette fill her mind, Emma reached down to grasp Regina's hand.

"Maybe this will help."

As their fingers laced the effect was instantaneous.

The brunette gasped as she felt a new surge of power run through her body at their combined magic and she had to close her eyes to control it. Starting where Regina's had hovered in the air, the barrier rippled out in all directions until it could be seen from each edge of the tree line.

They both turned with matching looks of bewilderment on their faces before breaking into knowing smiles.

"Good job dearies, now can we move onto destroying it?"

Emma snapped her gaze to glare at the man, her patience wearing thin at his mere presence.

"We could, if you stopped interrupting," Regina growled.

Gold stayed silent, shifting his weight to the other foot.

Regina took a steadying breath in an attempt to calm her thoughts. She had done everything she could to help Emma harvest her magic in the short time given to her. Gold hadn't made a deadline but she knew he wouldn't have waited much longer for them to practice.

The brunette's magic was strong but from the last attempt she knew it still wasn't enough to break the spell that encompassed the town, keeping the citizens in and everyone else out. It was a risk to remove the one thing that was keeping unwanted visitors from stumbling upon Storybrooke, but she and the blonde had no other choice. Gold had said Henry was in no danger, but to Regina her son wasn't safe until she could hold him in her arms and she knew Emma felt the same.

Regina squeezed the hand in hers, green eyes gazing back at her with trepidation, the blonde was nervous, her turn had come.

"I know you're nervous, but just remember everything I've told you. Visualize what you want to happen, will it and your magic will listen."

Emma nodded with wide eyes as she focused back on the barrier.

"I'm going to try and guide you, but it's your magic that is needed to break it, I can only do so much."

Regina could see that the blonde was questioning her abilities, even after everything she had accomplished in their training.

"You're strong Emma, your magic is pure, have faith in yourself, trust in your ability to bring our son home."

The blonde looked back to her then, eyes alight with a renewed determination at the mention of Henry.

Regina leaned in brushing her cheek against fair skin, "I love you," she whispered, her lips grazing the edge of Emma's own lips when she pulled back.

The brunette lifted her eyes to find green again, lately it seemed like she couldn't go too long without looking at them, but what she found instead made her intake a breath.

No longer were Emma's eyes their usual emerald shade, but a liquid gold had begun to make its way into her irises.

Emma smiled; she could feel her magic begin to flow through her at the brunette's words, desperate to escape, to be free. Giving Regina's hand one more squeeze, she spoke, "I'm ready."

Together both women faced forward and raised their opposite hands. Regina began to mumble words under her breath as Emma put all of her concentration into visualizing the barrier cracking into a thousand pieces.

A purple hue slowly made its way around the brunette while a white gold circled Emma, their joined hands surrounded in a unique combination of the two. The cool air began to buzz with electricity and a sharp crack of static sounded through the air.

Gold watched on in fascination at the display of magic that encompassed the two witches.

Just as before the wind picked up and swirled around the women's feet, causing their coats and hair to flow wildly. By now Regina's eyes were their own new shade of colour, a vibrant violet overtaking chocolate brown.

Gold stepped forward, drawing nearer to the source of power around him, "It's working!" he shouted, "Keep going!"

Much sooner than she anticipated Regina could already feel her strength begin to wane, even with Emma's magic at her disposal. But she had to hold strong, it was far from over.

Another crack of static sounded in the distance, snow and debris had started to float weightlessly in the air. It was quite the sight to behold, a winter wonderland in which time seemed to stand still before a new gust of wind would restart the chaos.

Gold was about to take another step closer when a sudden pulse of light erupted from both hands pressed against the glowing wall. It shoved him back causing him to stumble and grasp his cane for balance. Lifting his gaze again, the shock wave had cleared his power hungry thoughts, almost as if giving him a warning to not come any closer.

The pawn broker watched on in slight unease now, taking in the amount of power that was being displayed in front of him.

Regina was pushed back a step, but held firm when the wave of light erupted. Emma however, hadn't moved an inch.

She tried to catch the blonde's eye but Emma's gaze was unwavering. Her entire body was encompassed by a gold gaze and her eyes were glowing brightly. Regina's eyes fell upon Emma's hand that was pressed against the barrier, or where her hand should have been anyway. It couldn't be seen anymore, blending into the blinding light at the level of magic that the blonde was releasing.

An abrupt rush of fatigue washed over the brunette as she struggled to keep her balance, the pressure being forced against her caused her knees to buckle. Gripping the blonde's hand tighter for support she attempted to steady herself but the effort was fruitless.

"Emma," Regina whimpered, but received no response.

Squeezing her eyes shut, she moved to push herself up again, but when the barrier released another shock wave Regina couldn't keep her footing. Hand ripped from the blonde's, she flew back, slamming onto the asphalt.

Unsteadily, Regina raised herself onto her hands and knees, squinting at the wind and snow blowing in her face. She turned to see Gold had made his way over, reaching out to help her stand.

Gold shouted something but she couldn't hear him over the rush of wind. She looked to Emma who was still standing strong at the barrier, a constant pulse of light now erupting from her hand and spreading throughout the glowing wall.

Regina automatically tried to move back towards the blonde but a pull on her jacket halted her progress. She turned hard eyes on Gold, silently telling the man to release her but he didn't loosen his grip.

Tugging on her arm again, Regina tried to fight his grasp but he wasn't having it.

"She has to be the one," Gold yelled over the wind, "It must be her magic."

"She needs my help!" Regina shouted back, still struggling.

"You can't help her now dearie, no one can."

Regina glared at him before realization began to creep into the front of her mind. Pure unadulterated fear shot through her like a sharp knife.

You can't help her now dearie, no one can.

Eyes that had returned to a deep brown slowly shifted their gaze to land on the woman not 20 feet from them.

Only Emma's magic could break the barrier, but in turn, what would it cost the woman herself?

Regina wheeled around and screamed, "You bastard, it will kill her!"

Panic now taking over, the brunette jerked her body violently; desperate to get to the woman she loved.

"Emma!" she screamed, "Emma, stop!"

It wouldn't have mattered now whether Emma had been an expert with her powers or not, the magic she was releasing would have caused even the most experienced to have lost control.

"There is nothing we can do," Gold shouted to the still fighting woman.

"You knew, you knew the magic needed for this would be too much for her!" Regina managed to hiss out, her strength almost completely gone.

With one last effort to free herself from Gold's grasp, her legs gave out and they both fell to the ground.

Tears were now streaming down Regina's cheeks as she watched on helplessly.

"It will destroy her," she cried.

"Only if she lets it," Gold responded, eyes fixed on Emma.

The brunette's own eyes traveled over Emma's form to rest on her face. She could see a trickle of blood drip from the blonde's nose at the effort she was expelling.

While it looked like she was paralyzed on the outside, inside Emma was having the battle of her life. It felt like her body was at war with the air around her and it was taking every bit of strength to simply stay standing upright, let alone keep focused on her magic.

Emma wasn't afraid to admit she was scared. Regina was no longer guiding her; the blonde was on her own.

Emma could tell the barrier was weakening, she could feel it, but she could also feel her strength fading quickly. She was new at this, she was a beginner and did not fully understand how magic, especially magic this powerful could take such a toll on one's energy. Regina had said it would be difficult and she would be very weak once it was over but the blonde had a sinking feeling the outcome would be much worse.

She felt like her insides were on fire and could feel something hot and sticky run over her lip. With a start, she realized her nose was bleeding.

Emma ground her teeth together, harvesting any last ounce of energy she had left. She had to do this; she wanted it over, for Henry, for Regina, for her family.

Bending her knees slightly for support Emma forced her eyes closed against the blinding light and thought of the two people she loved most in the world, happy smiles on both their faces. They would have a future, Emma would make sure if it, even if that meant she had to give up her own.

Fighting against the unstable energy that was pushing and pulling her all at the same time, Emma craned her neck around, urgently seeking out warm brown eyes. Once gold eyes found their purchase, the blonde simply stared.

Regina was doubled over on the ground with Gold behind her, trying her best to keep steady against the wind.

Emma held her gaze and smiled as her heart beat faster giving her the last bit of added strength to do what needed to be done.

The fire inside her veins calmed to a simmer, the rush of wind slowed, and the floating snow froze in the air.

A sense of unexplainable calm washed over her as she held onto the image of brown eyes, before Emma turned and thrust her hand forward with everything she had. The shockwave was deafening.

Regina watched with wide eyes as Emma turned towards her, a look of finality on her face. In that moment the brunette knew Emma had realized and accepted the fact that this might very well kill her. This kind of power and energy was not meant to be used while first learning to use magic. It was merely too much for the body to handle.

With tears blurring her vision Regina could just make out Emma's lips turning up into a smile as her eyes reverted back to green in that frozen moment.

The strangled cry barely made it past Regina's lips as an explosion of light filled the sky before everything went black.