A/N: In my world Regina and Emma are in love, and Henry actually has an emotional attachment to his mother. I rewrote the ending of 2x21 in accordance with the fantasy land of OUAT that I pretend exists.
"If you have it – love, you don't need anything else, and if you don't have it, it doesn't much matter what else you have." J. M. Barrie, Peter Pan
Emma watches as her son runs out of Granny's towards her. She braces herself for once again having to tell him a hard truth. "Henry I need to talk to you."
"Did you find my mom?"
"Yeah Henry, but that's not—"
"Is she ok?" he asks with panic in his voice, because he knows his mom well enough to know that she would be right here with Emma if she were ok.
"She got hurt, but she's going to be ok."
"What happened to her?"
Emma decides that Henry doesn't need to know that his mother had been tortured for hours. "She's resting at Mary Margaret's apartment."
Henry raises an eyebrow at that; the idea of his mother and grandmother in the same room makes no sense. "I want to see her."
"Maybe we should wait a little while until your mom is feeling better."
"No," Henry says, and the determined look in his eyes is all Regina. "I want to see my mom."
"Ok," Emma agrees.
"Mom," Henry yells, sprinting towards where Regina is lying on Mary Margaret's bed.
He freezes next to Regina, taking in his mother's appearance. She's still and deathly pale. Burn marks mar her forehead and arms.
Snow sees the tears well in her grandson's eyes. "Henry," she says gently. "Your mom will be ok. The Blue Fairy was just here and healed her."
"Why isn't she waking up?" Henry asks tearfully. Emma watches as her son dissolves into tears, and she is reminded that he is 11 years old. For all his maturity, right now he is a scared child who wants his mom.
Emma walks over to the bed then, and Mary Margaret stands up, offering her seat to Emma so that she can talk to Henry alone.
Mary Margaret presses the damp cloth into Emma's hands and the sheriff wonders what in the world she is supposed to do with it. In what dimension does a cold compress cure the effects of repeated electrocution?
"Henry. Tamara and Greg, they hurt your mom pretty badly. But like Mary Margaret said, Blue told us that Regina is going to be ok. I think she just needs a little time to rest."
Henry's brow furrows as if he's struggling to understand. Emma reaches out and puts a hand on his arm to try to reassure him. She wishes that she had asked Regina how she calms Henry when he's upset, because so far Emma feels like she's seriously failed at that job. "She's going to be ok," Emma promises again.
"Can I touch her?" Henry asks, staring down at Regina. He's only ever known her to be strong and unbreakable. He's never seen his mother look so small.
Emma hadn't prepared herself for this level of upset about Regina. Emma had been ready for Henry to be devastated about his father, but now she can't imagine breaking that news until Henry has been reassured that he isn't going to lose Regina too.
"Sure you can," Emma confirms, releasing Henry's arm from her grasp. The boy climbs onto the bed cautiously and lies down next to Regina. He maintains a space between his body and hers at first, and then Emma watches as Henry inches closer, seeking out warmth and protection from the woman who had cared for him since he was a baby. Henry leans his head on Regina's chest and curls his body against hers.
The scene breaks Emma's heart, and she climbs into bed next to Henry. "It's ok, kid," she tells him, praying that she isn't lying.
"Dinner's ready," David announces just after dark. Henry has only moved from Regina's side once – to use the bathroom quickly before settling himself back against her. He doesn't even acknowledge now that someone has spoken.
Emma gives her father a smile of thanks and turns to Henry. "You should eat something."
"I want to stay here."
"How about I bring dinner to you," Emma offers.
"My mom never lets me eat on the bed." It's a fact that hasn't bothered Henry in the past few weeks that he's been living with Emma. He seemed rather happy to eat ice cream in bed at all hours, but now it's as if doing those things means that Regina is no longer his mom. And that thought isn't something that Henry can bare at the moment.
"I bet she would be willing to make an exception right now," Emma says, though she isn't sure that's entirely true.
"Ok," Henry agrees.
He and Emma sit in bed and eat their dinners together in silence.
When Emma first hears Regina moaning that night, the sheriff's heart leaps with the thought that Regina is waking up.
"Regina," Emma whispers, sitting up and leaning over Henry's sleeping body to shake Regina gently.
The brunette whimpers, and the sound is like a knife in Emma's chest. "Regina, it's ok." Emma smooths sweaty hair back from Regina's forehead. But Regina seems to be lost in another world, oblivious to the comfort that Emma is offering. "Shh," Emma says. "Shh, it's ok." She repeats it over and over and over, and then, miraculously, she feels Regina press her face against Emma's hand. The moaning quiets, and Emma wonders if she really has this power to soothe the other woman.
Emma lets her thumb stroke Regina's forehead, and the feeling of Regina's too warm skin against Emma's hand is comforting. Emma finally feels her eyes close as sleep overtakes her.
Just as Emma begins to drift off she hears the pained moaning begin again. Emma moves her hand against Regina's forehead once more, and the noise subsides. The terrified expression on Regina's face fades, and Emma feels for the first time since she let Neal fall into the portal like she has the power to make things better. "It's ok Regina. I'm right here."
Emma stays awake with Regina the rest of the night.
By the next afternoon Emma is considering throwing Regina into the passenger's seat of the beetle and driving them to a hospital that employs a doctor who isn't Frankenstein. Emma is planning out the getaway while trying to distract Henry with a game of gin rummy when Regina stirs next to them.
"Mom?" Henry says leaning over, resting his hand on Regina's leg and giving her a little shake.
Regina whimpers, and Emma's hand flies to the brunette's forehead, seeking to provide the comfort that she had the night before. Regina begins mumbling. Nothing comprehensible, but she seems closer to consciousness than Emma has seen her since they had unstrapped her from that damn table. "Hey, Regina. It's ok. You're safe now. Henry's here."
Regina's eyelids flutter. "That's it," Emma encourages, "Open your eyes, Regina."
She hears their voices – Henry and Emma – and wonders whether it's a dream, a hallucination. Whether she's dead. Whether she's still strapped down and helpless.
"Mom!" Regina hears her son's voice again, and real or imagined, she will always be powerless when it comes to resisting him. She struggles to open her eyes, the light shining in too bright and painful.
"Hi," Emma greets with a small smile when Regina finally blinks the blurriness from her eyes and looks at the blonde. That smile, the fact that someone – that Emma – is happy that Regina is alive is enough to make the brunette crumble. She had been so strong on that table, so proud of herself for never letting Greg see her cry or hear her beg. She had kept her dignity.
But now, staring at Emma, and knowing that someone cares that she lived, Regina is overcome. A tear falls from her eye and she turns away, ashamed at the vulnerability.
And then she sees Henry, leaning over her uncertainly, looking so scared and needy, like the little boy who had clung to her during thunderstorms and after bad dreams. "Henry," Regina whispers. Her throat burns with the effort to speak, the hours of screaming making themselves known in her aching throat.
Henry throws himself onto Regina's chest, and Emma sees Regina cringe at the pain of the weight hitting her fragile body. Emma almost tells Henry to let up, to remember that his mom is hurt, but then Emma sees a smile of pure joy spread across Regina's face, and she knows that the former queen wants nothing more than to have Henry hugging her.
"Mom," Henry repeats, as he clings to Regina's neck. Emma wonders if Henry knows the power that word has. If he can understand how much his love means to the woman he's holding on to.
Regina lifts her arms - exhausted immediately by the effort and the ache - and wraps them around Henry's body. He's so big. Her mind is fuzzy, and for a moment she expects to be holding the small child she had once known. The little boy who said her name like he is now – like she could make everything better, like she was all he needed in the world.
Regina barely realizes that she's crying until Emma reaches out and wipes a tear from her cheek. Regina looks over at Emma, and the caring in those green eyes is too much to believe. Regina had never imagined that anyone would come for her, that anyone would care if she died.
"It's nice to see you awake," Emma says, and Regina notices the way that the blonde's hand lingers to her cheek. The touch somehow soothing the tingling, prickling pain. "I thought you were going to try to give Aurora a run for her money."
It's the attempt at a joke that lets Regina know that this is real, that Emma and Henry are more than a fantasy of her tortured mind. They're real and they're here and they care. She closes her tired, scratchy eyes and rests.
Regina wakes some hours later, and this time she actually feels rested. The pain is still present of course; she wonders some days what her life would feel like without one form of pain or another.
It's night now, all darkness except for the faint glow coming through the windows from the street lamps outside. And Henry. His body curled against her side, his arms wrapped around her waist; it's a kind of light that warms her more than she would have imagined her broken soul would allow.
"Are you ok?" Emma asks, and Regina realizes that the sheriff is wide-awake, staring down at Regina, keeping vigil. The feeling of being cared for is new and strange, and it surges through Regina making her eyes burn with a rapid flood of hot tears.
Regina nods. "Are you?" Through the haze of sleep and fevered dreams she had heard the whispers about Neal.
Emma shrugs. Regina reaches out a hand. She can only move it inches before it falls to rest on the bed. This weakness, this vulnerability, it hurts more than the torture, more than the pain.
Emma recognizes the gesture of comfort, and she longs to take Regina's hand like she has longed for nothing else. Emma's hand glides forward, apprehension growing within her breast. Their fingers meet beneath the covers and weave together.
Emma squeezes Regina's hand tightly, a shake hello, a silent agreement to begin anew. Maybe together.
Emma wakes up the next morning to find Henry missing from the bed and Regina struggling to sit up. "Hey, be careful," Emma says in a voice still thick from sleep.
"I'm not an invalid," Regina insists, but she's breathing heavily, like the effort to sit has robbed her of every bit of strength that remained.
"Right, but let's just pretend for five minutes that you aren't the world's most stubborn woman."
Regina chuckles. "That sounds like the pot calling the kettle black if you asks me." Even with the stab of pain it causes in her chest, it feels good to laugh.
But the pain is too much - the pain and the way her lungs feel like they're collapsing in on themselves. Regina falls back against the pillows.
"It's ok," Emma soothes. "Just breathe, ok?" Regina tries to take deep breathes, but each one hurts, each one stabs at her. "I know you want to get the hell out of Mary Margaret's bed, and trust me I do too," Emma says, thinking about the occasion on which she had walked in on her parents having sex on this bed. Better not to share that story with Regina. "But I'd prefer if you waited until your legs can hold you."
Regina wants to say something, to deny this weakness, to do anything to push it away. But then Emma's hand comes to rest on Regina's forehead again, and Regina can hardly believe how good it feels to be touched with gentleness in this way. Soft fingers graze the burn on Regina's temple.
Henry climbs on the bed then, his face relaxed and smiling brightly. "I brought you breakfast," he says, holding out a plate with a waffle and blueberries. Regina's stomach turns at the thought of food, but her son is handing it to her like a peace offering after months where she had wondered whether he would ever come back to her.
"Thank you Henry," Regina says, and she hopes he understands how truly grateful she is for him.
"Let me help you sit up," Emma says, wrapping an arm around Regina's back to steady her, to ease her movements.
They stay – Henry and Emma – one on each side of Regina's tired, battered body. They stay and they care. And Regina thinks that if she can somehow hold on to this – to them – that she would need nothing else.