Note: Written for the Trope Bingo prompt, "a kiss to save the day."
Regina wandered an endless hall of darkness. A room of mirrors, where everything was a reflection of a reflection.
Nothing real. Nothing warm.
So this is what it's like, she thought. This is what I've done.
This is how it feels, to be under the Sleeping Curse.
How stupid she was, to prick her finger. A broken potion vial, and a shard of glass barely bigger than her thumb had laid her low. She had barely enough time to suck in a last breath and see a bead of red blood well up before she was collapsing, falling, fallen. Down, down into a fog, a deep trench that she would never climb out of.
Because only the power of True Love's Kiss could break the Sleeping Curse. And as surely as she knew that, Regina also knew that no one loved her.
No one had, not since her poor lost love. And how could they? She had done everything in her power to destroy all around her.
She was the architect of her own destruction.
It was a fitting end, she supposed, as she strolled through the endless corridor. Poetic, even. Rumpel was probably laughing.
What would they do with her body? Would she be encased in a coffin of glass, as Snow had been, once upon a time?
No. No one would mourn her. No one would want to see her. If they kept her body alive at all, it would be as proof that she was cursed. Was gone. Could harm no one.
They would lay her out on a slab of stone, so all could come to see the tyrant. The Evil Queen.
The vanquished monster.
Regina turned a corner, only to find herself back at the beginning of the corridor.
She shivered, and began her walk anew.
How long it was she walked the hall of mirrors, she didn't know. She'd never bothered to keep count, for she was sure it wouldn't matter. She would never leave. Never return to the world of the waking. So there was no point in marking the passage of time.
And yet now, she felt warm. It started in her fingers, and trickled up her arms, into her chest. How was it that she was warm?
"She's waking up!" a faraway voice said. Puzzled, Regina blinked. She knew very well she was the only one in the hall of mirrors.
Perhaps she'd been here for years already. Perhaps she was going mad.
Closing her eyes, she took a deep breath, and counted to ten.
When I open my eyes, I will be sane again, she told herself.
It felt like someone was patting her cheek.
Startled, Regina opened her eyes…
And found herself looking up into the face of Emma Swan.
"What?" she croaked, her voice coming out in a dry rasp. Her lips were chapped. They cracked.
The blood tasted like life.
Emma was holding her hands now, and helping her to sit up. A glass of water was pressed to her lips. Gratefully, Regina drank.
"Where am I?" she asked, once she could speak. But even as the question passed over her tongue, she realized. This cheery atmosphere of patchwork quilts and warm wooden furniture, the vase of wildflowers on the table, the smell of cinnamon in the air, the birdsong out the window… This was the place where Snow lived with her Prince Charming. This was the place where Emma lived.
Where Henry lived, now.
Why had they brought her here?
Why was she awake at all?
"Shhh," Emma murmured to her, as if she sensed the thoughts tumbling through Regina's head. Regina stiffened. What did they want from her? Was this just another dream after all? Was she really awake?
"How?" she got out, before Emma's warm hands – the warmth had been Emma! – were back on her cheeks.
"You've been out for a while," Emma told her. "When you were making the Sleeping Potion so that you could contact us in the old land, you cut yourself, and fell under the curse."
"I know," Regina interrupted. "I remember. But what I don't understand is… how am I awake? Why am I awake?" Why not kill me? echoed in the ensuing silence.
"Two questions, same answer." Emma smiled, and Regina's heart stuttered to a stop. There was so much of Henry in that smile. Or, she supposed, there was so much of Emma in Henry.
"And what's that, Miss Swan?" Regina drawled, desperately trying to recapture her usual polished poise.
Regina went very, very still.
The only way to break the Sleeping Curse was with True Love's Kiss.
Time seemed to speed forward from one moment to the next. Regina could barely catch her breath. "Does that mean you…? But after everything I've done…"
Do you love me?
At once, Emma blushed, her expression shuttered. Regina shrunk in on herself, shameful tears blurring the edge of her vision.
"Is she awake yet?" a familiar voice called from the doorway.
Regina wiped her eyes and turned her head to see Henry, her little Henry, the son of her heart, standing in the door.
"He gave you a kiss," Emma explained, sotto voice. "We weren't sure it would work, but he wanted to try."
Henry gave her a kiss?
Now the tears were back, hot streams of salty water rolling down her face.
Henry crossed the room, and scrabbled onto the bed, tucking himself into Regina's side just as he had when he was small. Before he knew. Back in the days when it had all been good, when she was his mother, and bed time stories hadn't existed outside the pages of books.
Regina pulled him into a one armed hug, burying her face against his shoulder. He stroked her hair.
"It's ok, Mom. I love you," he whispered in her ear.
Regina kissed his cheeks and his hair, and blessed this boy, blessed his heart, and thanked all the stars that he was a better person than she was. A bigger person.
"I'll give you two some time alone," Emma was saying, withdrawing from her place on the bed. Belatedly, Regina realized that she was clutching the bottom of Emma's ever present red jacket.
She didn't let go.
"Stay," she said to Emma, a wealth of pleading compressed into that one syllable.
Emma met Regina's eyes.
"Ok," she said.
She sat down again.