DISCLAIMER: Not mine, not even a little bit. Not even the hair on my chinny chin chin owns it... Ahem. If I had hair on my chinny chin chin.
She had so many beautiful things. She picked up a small unicorn statue cast in bronze. Studied the flowing lines, the invisible wind tangling a flying mane. Imagined riding such a beast. Remembered that power was once something she rode, that bore her over hilltops and down valleys and across wild plains. She'd never held an ounce of power for herself, once, and still when she was on her horse she need answer to no one. She'd never conjured a storm or a blizzard or summoned ice and snow and yet she remembers it clearly - that feeling of all the elements answering to her.
Bending to her will.
Mostly, though, she remembered the freedom. How the feeling would linger while Daniel's hands returned her gently to the ground after her riding lesson. How it would disappear the moment she stepped into her mother's chambers.
She set the unicorn back in its place, fighting the urge to throw it against the wall. The urge to mar her pristine office, to tear it apart, often came upon her in moments of high emotion. She supposed the death of her mother and the continued loss of Henry counted.
She'd had a glimpse, one glimpse, of how it could have been, with her mother. And now all she had left was this office, with its empty title to go with it. Her house, with Henry's room vacant. And her heart, such as it was. It still beat. She should know better than anyone a beating heart still had value. Sometimes she wondered how many black parts would have to be cut out, should anyone ever succeed in winning it from her.
She surveyed her surroundings, caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror opposite. Haunted, hunted eyes dressed in immaculate silk. She sneered at the image, holding back a sob.
Her beautiful, ostentatious office, her carefully made-up face, her suits, her shoes, they were weapons. They all showed power, prestige. Control. She made herself a threat by simply walking into a room.
And all her weapons were shields. She'd started dressing the part after "Evil" began to be the first title bestowed upon her, before "Queen." Those who could never hope to understand the depths of her rage and despair could certainly grasp the simple concept of Evil. She had made it easy for them. She had made it easy for herself. It was easier to accept there was no hope for her than to face the fear that whatever little good remained to her might never grow again.
Until Henry. Henry was never afraid of her. He challenged her, made her focus on something more important than herself. He made her sick with fear the first time he caught a cold, made her cry when he took his first steps. The embarrassment she felt the first time he threw a tantrum at the supermarket was nothing compared to how stupid she'd felt when he locked her out of the house the first time. How smug she'd been when he tried it again soon after and she went to grab the second set of keys she'd had made from a plant pot beside the door, only to realise he'd taken that one as well.
Her masks, so carefully in place with everyone else, were trampled with Henry. She went to bed still wearing makeup for six months after he became hers. She balked at the notion of fairy bread, when he came home demanding it one day, only to discover to her relief the recipe did not include fairies. She interrogated him about where he'd picked up the phrase "Open Sesame" before marching to the school to demand the tale be removed from the curriculum. She taught him how to make shadow puppets, and never once thought to tell him she'd once known how to command other creatures that walked in the night. She began to watch him sleep, terrified that someone, somehow would take away this little boy, who had managed to take her heart, black marks and all without knowing a word of magic.
Now, now she must beg permission to see her son from a woman who'd never held him when he had a fever. Had never been gobsmacked when he'd talked matter-of-factly about where babies came from, or that he knew she was the Evil Queen. Had never longed, with a desperation that made her kin to The Hatter, to hear him say "I love you, Mom."
She was an intruder. Emma Swan. Daughter of those rampant do-gooders who consistently plagued her. All she wanted was to be happy, and this blonde champion of all things magical had somehow become the key to her happiness, all because some laughable twist of fate made the woman her son's mother.
Her lip curled and she picked up the unicorn again.
"Don't do it."
She whirled and threw the statue.
Emma Swan deftly caught the unicorn and set it carefully down on her desk, raising a brow at her. "What, did you forget you can incinerate me?"
She snarled. She had forgotten. Having magic again was a drug. When Henry was in her thoughts she found she could resist its pull for a time. But it always found its way under her skin, calling, whispering to her. This is how you get what you want. "I could call down lightening from the skies, should I choose, Miss Swan. Unfortunately that death would be far too quick for my liking."
Emma just rolled her eyes. "We both know you're not going to kill me, slow or otherwise. Henry won't go for it."
Her lip curled in a sneer. "Sooner or later you're all going to have to stop hiding behind 'Henry won't like it.'"
Emma just stared at her. "Isn't that the most important thing? God, Regina, why are we all here if not for Henry?"
Guilt coursed through her, along with anger. Close on the anger's heels came the first tingle of magic. "Get out, Miss Swan. Your mother killed mine. You have my son. The whole town hates me. Leave me alone." Let me figure out who I am, now I've lost myself.
Emma studied her for a moment, then went to sit on her couch. "No."
She stared at her, feeling as off-balance as she sometimes did with Henry. "You can't say no." I'm the Evil Queen, she wanted to add, but refrained at the risk of sounded petulant.
"Because you're the Evil Queen and you say so?" Emma smirked at her, and she felt herself flush.
"No, Miss Swan. Because this is my office and I want to be alone."
"Well, you're going to have to learn that sometimes you don't always get what you want."
She huffed a bitter laugh, feeling old. Brittle. "Miss Swan, if you don't believe I've learned that by now then you are as dense as you appear. But when it comes to the things I- when it comes to what's mine, I've also learned to fight."
"When it comes to the things you love, you fight." Emma ran her gaze around the room, looking for all the world as if she was seeing it for the first time.
She stood stiff and tense, Emma's presence making her a stranger to her office. To herself. Without Henry the office was her. It was her poise and her power and her control of the world. Just like her clothes, it matched the image she wanted to present.
"Miss Swan. It's late. Please, just leave." She hated that it sounded more like a plea than a demand. She hated Emma for the flicker of sympathy that appeared on the blonde woman's face.
"What do you fight with?"
Understanding that Emma's question held a trap, she crossed her arms, realised it was a defensive gesture. Shifted to offense."Of all the absurd questions, Miss Swan." She gave the woman a sultry smile, tinged her voice with honey. "Would you like me to demonstrate my power?"
Emma glared at her. "Enough with the theatrics, Regina. You fight with magic. You really want to win Henry back? Fight for him with truth, with emotion. Be honest. Don't... you hide. You're good at hiding, and I get that, because hiding goes really well with running, and that's my forte."
She stood up, hesitated, then took two long strides to bring her closer. "I'm sorry about your Mom. I didn't have one for 28 years, so..."
"And now you have a charming mother. Get this through your thick skull. We are nothing alike. Not even close-" She broke off, startled, as Emma stepped close. "What-"
"-You think we're so different, Regina?" Emma's gaze raked over her, derisive. "Try dealing with reality, for once. You and I, we both love Henry. That's what we have in common. So maybe instead of hiding behind all those walls you've put up to stop anyone hurting you, you could get it through your thick skull that Henry's the one getting hurt because you refuse to step out from behind them."
Regina watched her as she stepped back, strode to the door. "Henry deals in a different kind of magic. Maybe you wouldn't be so lonely if you accepted that." She left.
She uncurled her fists, automatically went to push down the magic that normally rose during confrontations. Frowned as she realised no power had gathered that she'd have to dispel.
She walked to the desk, picked up the unicorn. Emotion. Ha. She launched the unicorn at the door where Emma had been a moment before, and smiled at the dent the statue made.
A/N: So, this damned show. I've spent the last month or so watching the lot and it got under my skin. Vive la Swan Queen and this was just something I had in my head, having never written Once Upon A Time fic before. Have a great week!