The diamond pulsated with power, sucking the lifeblood, the magic, out of the town. Regina couldn't restrain the destruction too much longer. Her body throbbed with pain, the force of the gem irritating the burns that hadn't healed from her torture.
The pain was agonizing. She wanted to let go, but she couldn't let go. If she did the town would be destroyed. Her son would be alone. The family—her family, that came back for her...would die. Her son would be alone.
"Mom...Dad?" Emma's voice was filled with fear and choked with tears. She sounded like a little girl-the little girl Snow White and Prince Charming never got to see grow up. Because of her. She moved into her parents arms, Henry sandwiched between them with tears on his chubby cheeks.
The sight of the embrace pained the woman, but it only hastened her determination to stop the trigger. She wanted her son to have more moments with his family. More hugs. She wanted a chance to finally fit in with these people that always saved her, for reasons she wouldn't understand.
The dying force of her magic slammed into the glowing gemstone, and her body shuddered as it prepared to give its last strength. She could feel the energy drain from her, slowing her pulse, and gradually, her heartbeat.
"Regina!" Snow shouted desperately over the roaring sounds of magic and destruction. "Regina, please, stop it!"
"No!" the woman snarled back. Her voice became choked. "I'm not giving up!" She was always determined; once she set her mind on something, she never stopped until it was accomplished. Her lifelong mission to destroy her stepdaughter spoke enough for that.
"Please..." Snow whispered, trying to reach out and grab the woman. "I don't want you to die like this..."
I don't want you to die like this...
The tendrils of pink attacking the diamond dimmed like the dying flame on a candle wick. She slowly stepped back, and watched the diamond as it glowed relentlessly, causing its destruction faster with no one to stop it.
Slowly, the woman turned to the group. The only two people looking at her were Henry and Snow, while Emma and Charming remained clung to each other.
For the very first time in her life, where she was near death, she was given the choice of how she wanted to die: alone, or surrounded by family, and love. It was frightening, as it was beautiful.
Snow watched as she slowly walked over, moving like a zombie. It was agonizing to see the woman that always had such fire and passion, be utterly defeated, and helpless.
Henry tore from the embrace to lunge to his adopted mother, and he wrapped his arms around her. Regina automatically embraced him, but she didn't even appear to be looking at him, even if her eyes were. Slowly, she raised her head to Snow, her expression spaced off in realization.
There were so many meanings to these words—failure to ever be a mother, failure to love, to redeem herself, and a failure to save the ones she cared about. She failed, at everything she wanted in life. It was because of herself she became so dark. It was her own fault she became The Evil Queen...
Snow shook her head, a breaking smile on her face. "You never failed."
Regina took an almost timid step forward with Henry, and Snow's arms instantly wrapped around her stepmother, welcoming her to the embrace. A sound warbled in the ex-queen's throat, and a sob welled up, muffled in Snow's shoulder. One arm left Henry to clutch to the younger woman, who held her closer.
There was a shift in the embrace, and Charming extended his arm wider around his wife so his hand lay over the top of Regina's. Emma was less sentimental to the brunette, but she still placed a hand on her back to acknowledge Regina's place in the family.
There were tears on every face, but Regina and Henry were the only ones that audibly sobbed. Unlike where she was ready to give in to the respite of death on that table merely days ago, she wasn't ready to die now. She couldn't die. She had a son, she had a family she didn't even deserve. And this could not be her only moments with them.
The blinding glow of the diamond was beginning to flicker as it finished its destruction, and the family gripped each other tighter.
She got to say good-bye to her son. In these last moments, she finally had a glimpse of what it was like to have a real family, a real group of people that loved you. And at least in these last moments, there was finally peace.
The family whispered their good-byes and final 'I love you's as the diamond stopped glowing.