Title: Transgressions of the Heart
Author: Sapphire Smoke
Fandom: Once Upon A Time
Predecessor: Of Love and Loathing
Summary: Emma had fallen in love with a woman that didn't really exist. Regina, her Regina… she wasn't real. It had all been a lie.
A/N: Fair warning that this fic is far angstier than its predecessor, and that it'll get worse before it gets better. Also, although I was originally intending to follow the same schedule of bi-weekly updates, real life seems to have made that plan a little more difficult. Therefore I'll only be posting once a week until things settle down and I can find more time to dedicate to this fic.
There was an eerie sense of stillness just moments before a storm broke out over the horizon, shrouding the quaint, waterfront town of Storybrooke, Maine in an array of bright colors and blinding emotion. The façade of their given reality cracked and dissipated, leaving behind a chaotic atmosphere born from conflicting bouts of relief, confusion, and fear, as those who were lost found themselves once more in a place as foreign as what lay far in the sky above them.
Two seats to the left in a crowded classroom, a boy smiled.
Most kept themselves still whilst memories rearranged themselves, accommodating two lives into one singular being. Recognition for some came quicker than others, furthering the panic within the ones who remained behind. But for Henry Mills, a mere boy of ten years old who had known nothing else but the reality he was born to, his world stood nearly unfazed by the crippling truth that had seemed to knock the breath from so many around him. After carefully rising from his seat, eyes trained on the teacher at the head of the classroom, the child paused midstride, the mild trepidation caused by one short moment of doubt.
He needed to be sure.
And there, in one brief flicker behind forest green eyes, was the look Henry had been waiting for. It was filled with love, with disbelief, and then acceptance, prompting a wide grin to spread from ear to ear as happiness warmed his heart. "Grandma?" he asked, voice small, as though Henry himself still could not believe that this moment had actually come to pass.
"Henry…" The woman moved towards him, her timid stature becoming replaced by self-assurance and strength as Snow White emerged from the ashes of Mary Margaret Blanchard. Emotion swam in her eyes as the realization of who really stood before her came to light, prompting a singular tear to slide down her pale, angular face. "Henry!"
Henry gripped on tight when she enveloped him in a crushing hug, experiencing for the first time the love of his maternal grandmother. It filled him with a sense of hope, of happiness, and of pride, for he knew how this had happened. His mothers – the Evil Queen from the Enchanted Forest, and the Savior who had been sent from the realm – had suddenly realized that they were each other's fairytale ending. Destined for one another, their love transcended the boundaries between realities, and finally, finally Henry would be allowed to have the family he always wanted, the family he had hoped for.
Love had conquered all, destroying the evil in his mother's heart. Emma had broken the curse and set her free and now, finally, Henry knew without a shadow of a doubt, that everything would be alright.
After all, no storybook that he had ever read ended unhappily.
There was a moment, right after Daniel had died, when Regina was sure she would never be able to breathe again. The weight of her sorrow constricted her throat, her chest, choking the life out of the last shred of hope that had lain deep within the depths of her heart. It destroyed her, utterly and completely, and she had been certain that nothing would ever compare to the pain she felt in that moment, for it had stolen the light from within her.
Oh, how wrong she turned out to be.
Emma Swan had rekindled that fire that used to burn so brightly within her heart, filling Regina with a newfound sense of unwavering hope. The happy ending she had always craved, delivered right to her doorstep by the son they both shared. Endlessly trapped in a world that never changed, Emma had brought light to a place shrouded in the darkest of clouds, turning the clock forward and freeing Regina from the madness of her own creation. The woman had challenged her, fulfilled her, accepted her, loved her. And for one short moment in her many years of existence, Regina Mills had truly felt alive.
Yet now, with the way her insides twisted violently within her, crushing her very soul to dust as the picture of perfection she had been offered shattered before her eyes, Regina was certain that even death itself would be less painful than this.
Emma, whose gaze was filled with so much love mere moments prior, now looked at Regina as though she didn't know who she was anymore. And perhaps it was a fair assessment, for Regina had made the mistake of lying about nearly everything except for the depth of her emotions, but logic was crushed by the weight of her sorrow and so she begged for the forgiveness that somewhere, in the back of her mind, she knew she would never really deserve.
"Please," Regina gasped, nearly choking on her own words as her throat constricted painfully. "Please, Emma, listen to me…"
"You… this—this is just some kind of… fucked up joke, right?" Emma stuttered, her mind unable to accept the reality that had been painted very clearly in front of her eyes. "Because you can't expect me to… to actually fucking believe—" Her words were cut off by a bitter, disbelieving laugh and she shook her head as though the motion would somehow have the power to bring sense into the chaos they had created.
Regina reached for her in desperation, fingers barely brushing skin before Emma ripped her arm away as though she had been burned. "Don't fucking touch me right now, Regina," she snapped without thought, backing up a few steps to establish the distance she sorely needed in that moment. Her words cut deep, but the wounded look on Regina's face went either unnoticed or uncared for. "Or…" Emma looked like she was going to be ill as she momentarily allowed the truth to outweigh her fervent denial, "or is that even your name? Fuck. I…" Her face paled, the reality of the situation crushing her sanity as she tried to pull the veil over her eyes once more. "I can't—can't do this. I have to…"
It was as though something snapped in Emma, kicking her into high gear as she made quick work of gathering her jeans off the ground, nearly tripping in her haste to get them on her body. Regina watched her, wishing that she knew the magic words to make her stay. But tears were running down her cheeks, the force of her sobs wracking her entire body. She could barely breathe, let alone speak.
Still, she had to try. "My name," she gasped out after a long moment, trying to make her words at least be distinguishable through her tears, "is Regina. I never—Emma, I… I swear, I never meant—"
"To what?" Emma exclaimed, furiously throwing her t-shirt over her head. "To lie? Fuck you, Regina. If this is…" Her hands flew out haplessly, eyes wild and frightened as reality as she knew it crumbled around her. She couldn't even bring herself to say the words, yet still finished with, "You… you knew exactly what you were doing. So don't you stand there and fucking tell me—"
"I was afraid," Regina tried, desperate for Emma to see her side of things. She knew that if she had ever told her the truth that this, this very situation, would happen. Regina didn't want to lose the best thing she had ever had, but Emma was hearing none of her excuses.
"You were selfish!" Emma shouted at her, looking as though Regina had cut her deeper than anyone ever had in her life. The words stung, but only because the truth in them was unquestionable. "All you do is lie and manipulate so things can go your way! You don't… fuck, you don't think of anyone but yourself, do you?" Emma set her jaw, a hard look in her eyes before crushing her with the final blow. "And the only reason you're sorry right now, Regina, is because you got caught."
The accusation in the words knocked the breath from Regina's lungs. She stared at her, tears running down her cheeks as she tried, desperately, to form a response, a reason. But the truth was, she would have never told Emma, should this not have happened. Regina would have never offered up the truth because it wouldn't benefit her in any sense, and the realization that she truly was this person Emma had every reason to hate crushed her heart into dust. The one thing, the one damn thing Regina knew Emma hated, beyond anything else, was being lied to, and yet she had done it time and time again without a care in the world.
What did that even say about her?
"Emma…" the name sounded broken falling from her lips, a plea that held neither weight nor bearing after the revelation of what really lay beneath the mask of Regina Mills. Emma could barely look at her.
Everything, all of the madness and despair, seemed to hit Emma once more in that long moment of silence. Her hands were shaking, her breathing uneven, and she looked as though she were about to fall apart on the spot. "This is… insane," she breathed, her eyes wild and desperate as her instinctual need to run took over. "Fuck. I can't… I have to—fuck."
And then she was gone, fleeing from the room so quickly that Regina barely had time to process that she had even moved. Once her brain had caught up to the situation however, Regina's body acted on autopilot and she ran after her, desperate for Emma to stay and hear her out before her mother no doubt found her. Snow would fill her head with the insistence that Regina was evil, tell her all of the horrible things she had done, and although Regina knew she had done so much wrong by Emma, she also knew that if nothing else, she had to be the one to tell her the whole truth. All of it. There was no way Emma could ever find it within her heart to forgive her if she did not.
Emma yanked open the front door, but before she could barrel her way through it and out into the unknown, Regina clasped onto her wrist, spinning the distressed woman around to meet her gaze. "Please, just… wait—!"
"Let go of me!" Emma shouted, violently ripping her wrist out of her grasp. "You have no fucking right to touch me, Regina, not anymore!"
Regina could feel her heart shattering at those words, yet did not move to touch her again. She was right; she really didn't deserve that pleasure any longer. Her mistake had cost her everything. "Emma, please, I… I love you. I promise, if you'll only stay, I'll—"
"What, tell me the truth?" Emma spat, looking at Regina as though her very words were born from mockery and cruel intent. She stepped close to her, eyes burning hot like fire as she finished scathingly, "A little late for that, don't you think, Your Majesty?"
Regina noticeably winced at the form of address. "Please don't call me that," she tried, voice small as regret and shame colored her face. She couldn't look Emma in the eye after that, for that title was something she had never wanted, and once she had it, it consumed her and twisted her into the very thing she never wished to become. There was a reason she had stripped herself of it. It was her mother's dream, not hers.
"Why?" Emma challenged, trying to find strength throughout her urge to crumple into a ball just to get away from it all. Her voice cracked, the desperation for denial suddenly fighting against the truth she was trying to voice with hesitant uncertainty. "That's… jesus, that's—it's what you are… right? The Evil fucking Queen…" Emma looked as though even saying the words made her want to vomit on the spot.
Regina's eyes shown with fresh tears at Emma labeling her as such, but she would not let them fall. If she did, she knew trying to find her voice would be far too difficult a task. "Not anymore," she breathed softly, trying to make Emma understand that she had changed, that she had changed because of her. "Evil can't love… remember?" Regina looked up at Emma, hoping the words would make her remember the conversation they once had, a conversation that had given Regina such hope that one day Emma would truly accept all parts of her. She needed her to see all the shades of grey that lay deep within her soul, but perhaps now, in this moment, it really was too much to ask for.
Emma could barely comprehend the reality of the situation, let alone begin to accept it.
"No," she agreed, but it wasn't with the recognition that Regina had prayed for as Emma finished pointedly with, "but liars still can."
Regina felt as though she had been punched in the gut, the look of betrayal on Emma's face at her own words making Regina feel as though she were falling. There was a note of finality with the word 'liar' that was hard to ignore and Regina wished, more than anything else, that she could turn back the clock and do it all over again, for lying to Emma might very well be the worst mistake she had ever made.
Emma tensed her jaw and swallowed hard, desperately trying to keep anger as her dominant emotion. Regina could see the task was a futile one however, and as Emma's eyes began to glisten with fresh tears, the brunette felt as though the image was tearing her heart from her chest. "I trusted you, Regina," Emma whispered, distress painting across her features from being betrayed by the woman that she loved so deeply.
"I'm sorry," Regina choked out, her words muddled by the slew of fresh tears that fell from her eyes. They were just words, words that probably meant nothing in the long run, but Regina still felt as though she needed to say them. "Emma, I'm so—" But her words were cut off, panic overtaking her as something in the distance, beyond Emma and the open door, caught her eye. "Oh god," she breathed, not entirely certain what it was, but knowing it was born from magic; her magic.
Emma sensed the shift in the air around them and immediately turned to see what it was that had spooked Regina. Whatever she was expecting, it certainly wasn't what she was confronted with. In the distance a dark purple cloud was slowly drawing nearer, consuming everything in its wake. The fear it instilled in Emma nearly knocked her backwards and she fell against Regina's chest, who instinctively grasped for her hand, holding onto her tightly. The blonde did not pull away.
"What the hell is that?" Emma breathed, the volume of her words suppressed by her disbelief and fright.
The reality of the situation suddenly kicked Regina into high gear and she told her quickly, "We need to get to Henry." If the curse broke, that cloud could only mean one thing, and if it was going to happen then they needed to be together. Regina tried to get to her car, but Emma seemed frozen to the spot and tugging on her hand bore no result. "Emma, now!" Regina screamed, needing the woman to snap out of her haze.
Emma blinked at the force of Regina's words and as her eyes landed on her, she could very plainly see the panic that had overtaken Regina's expression. It was that alone, it seemed, that allowed Emma to realize the severity of the situation. In the blink of an eye she moved, now being the one to drag Regina to her car.
They each got in quickly, but it seemed to not be quick enough as Emma looked behind them, seeing the cloud get closer. "Go, go!" she shouted at her, slamming her hand on the dashboard to try to get Regina to move faster.
"I'm trying!" Regina yelled back, hastily putting the car in reverse and nearly peeling out of the driveway. The tires screeched and when she braked to change gears, the momentum pulled them forward before slamming them back into the seats. Pressing her foot forcefully on the gas pedal, Regina sped down Mifflin street in record time, not looking back for fear she would realize they would never get to the school in time.
"What is it?" Emma exclaimed, unable to tear her eyes away from the looming threat behind them. Emma Swan could confront a lot of things head on, but magic, it seemed, was beyond her comprehension and skill. She couldn't shoot a gun at it after all, and it seemed the idea of being completely defenseless against the unknown frightened her quite terribly. "Regina, what the fuck is it gonna do?!"
"I think it's going to send us back," Regina replied, her breathing erratic as she realized that, once again, everything was going to change. What frightened her more, however, was the idea that they might not all go back together unless they were already with each other. The Enchanted Forest was a dangerous place, and the thought of Henry being left in the middle of nowhere alone and scared was enough to make Regina's insides twist violently. She couldn't let that happen, she couldn't be responsible for something like that.
"Back? Back where?" Emma demanded, but when her eyes caught Regina's, the realization seemed to hit her. "Oh you've got to be kidding me."
"I very much wish that I was," Regina told her, taking a sharp right around the corner so quickly that it nearly made Emma fall against her. The Sherriff immediately held onto the grab handle though, and Regina found herself thankful for the woman's reflexes. If Emma had slammed into her, it probably would have made her veer off the road. After a quick look in the rearview mirror, seeing the cloud grow ever nearer, Regina swallowed hard. She didn't know if they were going to make it in time.
"Can't you stop it?" Emma demanded, waving her hand erratically towards the back of the vehicle. "It's your fucking curse, isn't it? Just… make it go away!"
"Don't you think if I could I would have done so already?!" Regina exclaimed loudly, the stress of the current situation causing her to snap at Emma unwarrantedly. It wasn't as though Emma knew anything about magic, nor about the curse itself, but Regina didn't want to get faulted for something she had no control over at the moment. "I didn't create the curse, I merely enacted it. I don't know what that is, nor how to stop it! And I can't do anything about it because magic doesn't exist here; I'm as helpless as you are!"
"Why the hell would you cast something without knowing all the details? Jesus, Regina! It could be some kind of goddamn failsafe and just end up killing us all!" Emma shouted, the prospect of that scenario scaring her senseless. Despite her anger towards Regina however, her hand was gripping the Mayor's thigh tightly, as though she were the only thing able to ground her throughout this insanity.
Regina wished she could provide her with the sense of comfort she so desperately needed, yet all she could think about was Henry and her own fear about what could happen if that cloud really did send them back. So instead she snapped at Emma, "The curse was never supposed to break, there was never supposed to be any 'Savior', so why on earth would I ever think to be concerned about what would happen afterwards?!"
"So what, you want me to apologize for loving you now?" Emma shouted, apparently drawing the conclusion that Regina blamed her for the curse breaking and the slew of unfortunate events that happened after, just because she was the Savior. "Because if you weren't driving this damn car I swear to god I would punch you in the fucking face for that shit."
"For Christ's sake, Emma, I'm not blaming you!" Regina exclaimed, taking a sharp left around the next corner that caused Emma to slam into the passenger side door. Perhaps they should have worn seatbelts, but it would have wasted precious time. As Emma tried to resituate herself, Regina continued, "If this is anyone's fault, it's mine!"
"Damn right it's your—!" But Emma cut herself off, her face noticeably paling as she looked behind them. The cloud was catching up to them rather quickly and now houses a handful of streets back from them were being enveloped in its wake. "Fuck, drive!" she screamed, causing Regina to press harder on the gas pedal in an instant.
They got to the school within minutes and before Regina slammed on the brakes she instinctively held her hand out in front of Emma, acting as a quasi-seatbelt so that the woman didn't end up slamming into the dashboard. They scrambled out of the car as soon as they were able, but they both knew it was going to be too late. The cloud was descending on them now, just a block away from changing everything, and Regina stood frozen in the middle of the street, unable to do anything else but stare at it as drew nearer.
"Regina!" Emma shrieked, knowing there really was nothing they could do at this point. It would envelop them within moments, and so the blonde seemed to react on instinct, pulling Regina into her arms in a protective gesture.
Suddenly, everything went dark.