Rocks continued to crumble to the floor around her as Emma ran down the mine again, long after the shaking of the town had stopped. Henry clung to Snow's stomach, sobbing heavily into her coat after his birth mother had relayed the goodbye.
Emma didn't stop until she reached where the crystal had been, looking around for any sign of Regina. She finally noticed a limp body under a pile of small rocks, and shook her head desperately. "No. No no no. Please, God, no." She mumbled through tears as she cleared away the stone lumps and revealed Regina.
Lying on her back, cold and lifeless, the woman seemed almost peaceful. As though she had found solace in death.
Emma couldn't bring herself to lift Regina and carry her back to the surface, instead finding herself curled up on the floor and sobbing. Though it wasn't the kind of crying she did just yesterday, when Neal died. This was desperate, heavy cries that wracked her chest and left her breathless.
Her cries echoed through the tunnels and were loud enough to reach her family at the entrance. It was clear to Henry first what had happened, and he tore himself away from Snow to scramble through the debris, despite her desperate attempts to reach for him.
He sunk to his knees next to Emma, staring at the still body of the woman who'd raised him. The woman who'd been the first to touch him skin-to-skin; to give him a home; to hear his first words and see his first steps (trust Henry to talk before he could walk). The woman who had broken school rules and stayed with him all day on his first day, because he wouldn't stop crying if she let go of his hand.
He stared at the woman who's heart she'd broken when he got the book and began to think the worst of her. He looked at the woman who had sacrificed her life for a town full of people she hated... and he realised something.
He never got a chance to tell her how much he loved her.
Emma sat up, her cries coming to a halt as she realised the exact same thing in the exact same moment.
"Mom?" Henry asked quietly, voice shaking. Emma didn't realise he meant her until he nudged her.
She cleared her throat before she responded. "Uh, yeah, kid?"
"What are we gonna do now?" He mumbled, slowly crawling forward to curl up on his mother's still chest, as though he were two again, and there was another 'monster under his bed'.
His fist wrapped around the lapel of her jacket tightly, his thumb stroking the scarf. With his forehead pressed against Regina's chin, he could feel her slowly getting colder and colder. A sudden drop in her temperature made him shiver - not from cold, but from something he couldn't quite explain. Fear? Disgust?
Footsteps echoed down the tunnel and Snow and Charming rounded the corner. Snow - having known Regina when she was so young and carefree, having loved her being her 'mother' - covered her mouth in shock and curled into her husband.
No one noticed him nodding. No one noticed the look on his face that said 'she deserved this'.
Why would they? Everyone was too busy looking at a dead body.
"M-mommy?" Regina asked timidly, her voice echoing throughout the empty white space. Everything was white as far as the eye could see. The only thing of substance was the floor.
"Regina... what are you doing here?" Cora asked quietly, sounding shocked, as she stepped up behind her daughter.
She turned to face her mother, gulping. "I must be dead."
"I sacrificed myself for the town. I figured, if I was going to die at all, it would be as a hero."
Cora quickly wrapped Regina up in a tight and genuinely loving hug, something the younger had never felt from her before.
When they finally broke apart, Regina looked around.
"So this is it, huh? The afterlife?"
She watched as a figure stepped into view, as if leaving the shadows despite there being none. She frowned as the man stepped forwards and then cried when he hugged her tight.
"Daddy, I'm so sorry I had to kill you," She sniffled, clinging to him like a lifeline.
"It's quite alright, my dear child," He smiled. "You were happy there, for a while at least, correct?"
She nodded into his neck.
Her heart swelled at the voice that came next, and she pulled away to look at the man she loved. "Daniel. I'm sorry to you t-"
"Don't be. You had to, or it would have been the other way around." He took her hands in hers wearing a soft smile.
Time seemed to pass quickly in the afterlife, and Regina frowned when the three she had been talking with stood up from their seats on the floor. Daniel held his hand out to her, helping her up.
"Now, it is time to say goodbye," he whispered, kissing her cheek.
Again, she frowned. "Wh-why? Where are you going?"
"Oh, we're not going anywhere, dear," Cora informed her, taking hold of Henry's hand. "You're going home."
What? What could her mother possibly mean by that? Regina shook her head in confusion. "I am home. Home is where you guys are."
"Goodbye, my darling," the Red Queen whispered against her cheek as she kissed it. "One day we will see each other again. Just you wait."
Regina didn't know what to do as three of her most loved ones kissed and hugged her 'goodbye'.
"Where am I going?" She pleaded with her father, but he just cupped her cheek.
"Close your eyes, and you'll see."
She felt a hand slip into hers but couldn't see one there and, curiously, closed her eyes.
Emma had come to some kind of acceptance with Regina's death and, as her father scooped her up to carry the limp body from the mines, she reached out and took hold of a cold hand.
Her eyes widened, however, when she felt warmth quite literally flood back into it. "R-Regina?" She asked, forcing her father to stop walking.
Emma's heart filled with hope as she leant over the body, colour slowly returning to her cheeks as brown eyes fluttered open.
"Hey... What the hell? You like totally died on us just now."
Regina moved to sit up, looking around. "I... I'm alive."
"Yeah, you are," Emma grinned, helping David set Regina on shaky feet.
She clung to Emma as soon as Charming let her go.
The only thing on her mind was one word: How. How had she died only to come back? How had she died for the second time in two days - one of the electric shocks killing her and the following zapping her back to life.
How had she gone to the god-damn afterlife and spoken to her parents and then come back?
"I think we might need to look into that crystal a little more," she mumbled, failing to move her legs to take steps.
"Let's not worry about that just now, okay?" Emma tucked a strand of hair behind her ear, scooping her up so she wouldn't have to walk. "Let's just focus on getting you back to the mansion to see Henry."
"How long was I dead for?" Regina asked, keeping her arms wrapped around Emma's neck as the blonde managed to carry her - her coming back to life had given Emma a long-term strength she didn't know she had.
"It felt like nearly a day."
"Did you miss me?" Emma joked, her father too far behind to hear the almost instantaneous reply.
"Of course I did."
Henry was balled up under the covers in Regina's bed, having finally broken down and releasing his sobs and tears into the pillow she slept on.
Snow had fallen asleep on the chaise in the middle of crying.
Emma very quietly crept in, setting Regina gently onto the bed.
"Henry, there's someone here to see you," She said quietly, keeping up a façade of Regina still being dead.
"I don't wanna see anyone! Only mom!" He cried, slightly muffled by the covers.
"Then you might wanna get out here and hug me." Regina smirked, pushing the duvet back.
Henry all but flew at her, wrapping his arms tightly around her shoulders and clinging to her. "But, but you died!"
"I guess I got a second chance, honey. Or third, depending on what you know about yesterday."
Her own tears began to roll too, it hitting her that they were only at the mansion because he'd probably ran there straight away. That he did love her.
"I'm so sorry for being so mean to you! I promise I'll never do it again! I'll never stand you up for lunch or tell you I don't love you or that you're not my mom because I do and you are!"
She managed a small laugh as she rolled onto her side and curled up with him. "It's okay. You're forgiven. Always and completely forgiven."
The next morning, after Emma had stayed over on the chaise just to make sure Regina didn't die again, the three met up in Granny's with Snow and Charming.
Henry didn't let go of Regina's hand until he was perched on her lap at the table, having vowed to show her just how much he loved her by way of affection.
She held him the way she used to when he was much younger - arms around his waist and her chin on his shoulder.
"So uh..." David asked awkwardly, clearing his throat. "How come you came back to life? I mean... you died."
Snow nudged him.
"What?! She did!"
Regina shrugged, watching Henry act like a young child again and making a picture out of his food - a picture of her.
"I think that... Whatever it is that sent me to the afterlife understood that I was willing to die to save everyone I hate - all but two people, anyway. And they saw the potential in me to change. They saw that I was ready to change, not just that I was willing."
"Regardless," Emma added, watching Regina and Henry from their side with a smile. "The Queen is dead." She reached for her hot chocolate and raised it a little in a toast. "Long live Regina Mills. May you never die. May you be the Rory Williams of Storybrooke."
Regina laughed at the gesture while Henry laughed at the reference, bringing a wide smile to Emma's face as David and Snow looked on with raised eyebrows.
~Remy has hit a block and doesn't know where to go now so he's going to end it here I hope you enjoyed please tell me what you thought of it, constructive criticism is highly welcomed. Thank you and goodbye.
A/N: The title and ending are based on a suspected title for 3x01: 'The Queen is Dead' which begs the theory that The Evil Queen dies either literally or metaphorically and from her death comes Regina's redemption.