Prompt from CorLeonis92 as the 150th reviewer of A Trail of Destruction: Regina and Emma on the boat - Regina already feels something for Emma, and she's watching her doing something, and thinking about what could happen, what will happen, and Emma just looks back at her, and she sees her looking, and smiles. And maybe without them noticing Snow sees the smile and notes that something's up, but she doesn't say anything.
I hope you all enjoy!
They had been sailing for three days now, but the ship still didn't seem to be leading them any closer to the island that was Neverland. The water was flat, and the horizon was endless: this world didn't seem to possess a breeze that would be able take them there.
Regina had already snapped at Hook for his incompetence as a captain at least half a dozen times. On each and every occasion he'd simply smirked back at her, replying with a smug remark about how he was more than willing to help ease her apparent tension if she'd only ask. It was usually followed by a grotesque wink that simply asked for her to reach out a hand and slap him. She always refrained, but doing so was getting progressively more difficult.
After she had stormed away from the wheel that the lecherous pirate was currently dragging the point of his hook across, Regina found herself up at the very fore end of the ship. She sat down with a sigh, stretching out her legs in front of her. The rest of the ship's mismatched crew remained down on the main deck, seemingly not noticing her presence. She sat above them, several metres away. Alone.
Snow and Charming were leant against the railings, talking in hushed tones with their heads resting close together. On the opposite side of the ship was Mr Gold: oddly, for someone with limited use of one leg and a serious aversion to adventure of any kind, he had taken to life at sea better than the Charmings had. He was stood completely still, his cane resting defiantly between his legs, with his cold eyes fixed firmly on Hook. The captain didn't seem to notice. With his good hand wrapped around the smooth wood of the wheel and his hook looped between two of its spokes, he looked calmer than Regina had ever seen him. His eyes overlooked her, though she sat directly ahead of him, seeking out the horizon and the mysterious island that it would eventually bring.
And then Regina spotted Emma. Crawling up from below deck, she was wrapped in her now familiar black coat and red scarf. She too didn't seem to notice Regina sat by herself at the front of the ship.
The wind was whipping into the mayor's eyes, making them sting, but as she watched the blonde woman treading wearily across the boards she didn't let herself blink. That damn hair was hypnotising her again. Even now, when it was lank from three days on a boat and scraped back from her face in a ragged ponytail, its bright yellow strands tossed about in the wind and watching them made Regina's stomach ache.
She shook her head to herself, snapping her eyes down to her outstretched legs. No, she told herself firmly, biting on her bottom lip. You're not doing this again.
She had to sleep in the bunk beneath Miss Swan, and sometimes those blonde curls would tumble down from her pillow and hang before the queen's eyes. The previous night she had reached out to touch them: they were softer than she'd thought they would be. She had wrapped one around her index finger, letting the fine hairs glide across her skin. And then she had snatched her hand back again, her fingers feeling like they'd been burned. Emma hadn't stirred. Regina had rolled onto her other side, curling herself up into a tight ball and begging herself to fall asleep.
Then the smell had returned – that dirty, metallic smell of sardines that made her stomach heave. The faint tingle of electricity that still made her teeth ache began to bite at her limbs and she had leapt up from her bunk, pulling on her boots and escaping onto the freezing, deserted deck without looking back.
Some enchantment of Mr Gold's concoction was keeping the boat sailing at night, and so Regina could sit herself down on the stairs that led up to where Hook normally stood without being disturbed. The ocean around her was endless, bottomless, and silent. The only sound that the queen could hear was the distant slapping of the sails against the ship's masts. The pale moonlight turned that flat water to the colour of silver, and through it, out of the corner of her eye, Regina would occasionally spy the flash of a mermaid's tail. Her breathing would hitch.
Don't look into the water, she told herself, wrapping her arms more fiercely around her waist. They'll take your sadness and they'll drown you with it.
Her head was still hurting, though she hadn't told anyone. Her arms were aching too. She knew that Emma was feeling something similar – the sheriff's movements over the past few days had been stilted in a way that had nothing to do with her poor motor skills on any moving surface, and any time that she had been asked to help tighten one of the sails Regina had caught the pained, grimacing muscles in her jaw. The diamond had taken its toll on the both of them. And yet Emma was asleep, and Regina hadn't slept in days – because every time she tried all she could smell was sardines, all she could feel was white-hot pain slashing against her every nerve, and her eyes snapped open once more.
She looked down at the burns on either of her hands and sighed. They were the reason that she was still wearing gloves during the day: it was oddly nice now to feel the air against them once more.
The voice made her head snap up with the ferocity of a gunshot. Even in the pale, watery moonlight Emma's blonde hair glowed like the north star.
The words had come out more strained than she'd intended. She immediately glanced back down at her lap, curling her burned hands into fists and pressing them between her knees.
Emma gently sat herself down on the step beside her, holding out half of the blanket that she'd brought out with her. Regina frowned at it.
'I'm fine, thank you.'
'It's freezing, Regina,' Emma said, reaching around her so that she could drape the thick, scratchy material across her shoulders. 'Here.'
The queen swallowed, pulling it around her. The other half was looped around Emma's body and Regina flinched as she felt a bare arm pressing against her own.
'Thank you,' she mumbled. Emma shifted slightly closer, their elbows bumping.
After a pause, the blonde woman softly asked, 'Still not sleeping?'
Regina blinked, looking round at her. 'Excuse me?'
'You didn't sleep last night,' Emma said, looking out at the vast, flat water that surrounded them. 'I could hear you moving around. I thought that maybe you must have gotten at least an hour or so at some point… but then I saw your face this morning. And it wasn't sea sickness, before you say anything – there aren't any waves. I'm not that stupid.'
Regina gritted her teeth together, trying to ignore the faint smell of vanilla that was wafting from those tangled curls.
'I…' she tried to reply, faltering. She sighed. 'I suppose I'm just worried about Henry.'
'Uh huh,' Emma replied, reaching out and grabbing Regina's hand before she could stop her. 'And this? Is this because you're worried about Henry as well?'
Regina snatched her hand back, flipping it over so that the singed skin was no longer visible. 'That is none of your business, Miss Swan.'
Emma didn't seem phased. She turned her body slightly so that she was leant against the railing, her arms folded across her chest. Regina's eyes were immediately drawn to the tiny dots of coldness that were starting to prickle across her skin.
'Does it still hurt?' Emma asked, her voice low.
'What they did to you.' She leaned forwards, her normally bright eyes devoid of colour in the darkness. They reflected the surrounding stillness, rippling with the tails of mermaids, and Regina tried desperately not to look too far into them. They'll take your sadness and they'll drown you with it.
'It…' Her voice cracked. Emma's forehead furrowed.
'You don't talk about it, Regina,' she said, sighing. 'You don't talk about anything.'
'That's because I don't have anyone to tell.' The words dropped from the queen's mouth before she could stop them.
The corners of Emma's mouth immediately slipped downwards.
'You have me,' she said quietly. 'You may not like me, Regina, but you can still talk to me. I won't tell anyone. I won't even say anything if you don't want me to. I can just listen.'
The queen's face was flat, expressionless. But her dark eyes swam with something that almost looked like gratitude – gratitude, mingled with suspicion.
'And why would you listen to me?'
'Because I'm worried about you,' she replied, reaching out for the burned hand once more. This time Regina didn't pull away. 'Like it or not, we're in this together now. We saved the town together and we're saving our son together. The time for being enemies has passed, I think. So we may as well try to be friends.'
Regina looked at her sadly. 'You don't want to be friends with me.'
'Says me. No one wants to be friends with me: I'm the Evil Queen, remember? The Evil Queen stands alone and reigns alone and dies alone. There's no reason for that to change now.'
'Stop being such a martyr, Regina,' Emma rolled her eyes, the faintest of smiles on her lips. 'You lack some serious perspective if you really think that that's still who you are. Have you already forgotten what you did for us? For everyone? You think that that doesn't count for anything?'
'It does for me,' Regina mumbled, tugging the blanket more tightly about her shoulders. 'But, given how your parents still haven't said a word to me on this little voyage, I suspect it might not to them.'
'To hell with them,' Emma replied, making Regina blink. 'Seriously, Regina: they're more stubborn than you are. Don't spend your life trying to prove yourself to them – believe me, you'll be waiting a while.'
'Who am I proving myself to, then?' Regina muttered. 'You?'
'You don't need to prove anything to me,' Emma leaned forwards, her voice falling. 'I don't know if you remember, Madame Mayor, but I've believed in you for a while now. I mean, sure, there was that little slip-up regarding Archie where I may have lost it a bit… but regardless. I already know who you are – you don't have anything to prove to me. You've just got to prove it to yourself.'
A tiny breeze slipped between the pair of them, tossing Emma's curls into the air. The smell of vanilla grew stronger and before Regina could think about what she was doing, she squeezed back on her hand. A tiny smile tugged at Emma's lips.
They sat like that for a few moments, not saying a word. And then Emma sighed.
'I should go,' she said, beginning to stand up. She paused, looking out at the sea. And then she slipped the blanket from her shoulders. Regina tried to push it away, but the sheriff was too quick.
'Keep it,' Emma replied, rubbing her bare arms as she moved down the last two stairs. As she reached the deck she turned back to the queen with a small frown.
'I never actually apologised for that.'
Regina blinked. 'For what?'
'The Archie mess.' Emma folded her arms across her chest, suppressing a shiver. 'I… doubted you. I shouldn't have done that, and I'm sorry. And I should have said that before now and I didn't, and I'm sorry for that too.'
Regina could only stare at her, speechless. Eventually she nodded and Emma turned away once more.
Regina had watched her go with a sharp lump rising at the back of her throat, her burned hands trembling. The moment that the mess of blonde curls disappeared below deck once more she pulled the blanket more tightly about her shoulders, breathing in the lingering smell of vanilla until her eyes watered.
Now she watched from her position at the other end of Hook's ship as fierce sunlight streamed down on the rest of the crew, glinting off of those curls as Emma moved across the deck towards her parents. She reached her mother's side, leaning back against the railing with her arms folded across her chest. As Snow held out her hand to squeeze her daughter's shoulder, that was the moment that Emma looked up to see that Regina was watching her.
Even from that distance Regina could see the green of her eyes, narrowing as the conversation from the night before flashed through them. From beside her, Snow saw the frown that began to settle across her daughter's forehead. She looked up and saw Regina for the first time - the queen didn't seem to register her presence, however. Her own eyes were fixed on the blonde woman stood between them, unblinking, waiting for her reaction. Waiting for her to stay where she was, or to run.
And then that tiny smile appeared on Emma's lips. That almost indiscernible smile that made Regina's chest ache because she knew that things were okay. A tinge of pink flushed against the queen's cheeks, and she smiled back. Emma's eyes fell back down to the wooden deck, and Regina's turned back to the endless, motionless sea.
Snow watched the curious expression on her daughter's face, unnoticed. Her hazel eyes flicked back across to where Regina sat alone at the front of the ship, her own lips still curved upwards into a pathetically relieved smile. Neither of the women sensed her watching and neither of the women looked back at one another.
Snow glanced to her left, to where her husband was still gazing over the side of the ship. The water behind him was flat and empty: apparently the mermaids had little sadness to be drawn across the waves to this morning.
She glanced back at her daughter, and she fell cold. That smile was still there.
Thanks for reading! I'll be offering to write fics for every 50th reviewer of A Trail Of Destruction, so feel free to start thinking of prompts for me :)
I'm starsthatburn over on tumblr as well if anyone wants to come and say hi! X