Disclaimer: I by no means own Once Upon a Time or claim rights to the characters mentioned.
Warning: Character Death
A trembling hand pushed open the familiar wooden door, charred at the edges buzzing with residual magic. She retracted her hand back to cradle the treasure she'd been carrying. Voices from the back room reached her ears, only two, male and female. Hesitation lost to hope as black boots carried her to the source of the voice.
There she was.
Regina could see her mother was in the middle of some important discussion with Rumpelstiltskin but the only sound she could hear was the periodic thump of the pulsating organ in her hands.
Regina whispered, "Mother."
Her head tilted as tears made way down her cheeks, "I can fix this."
Both parties were too involved in the discussion to notice the intruder but Regina remained unfazed by the lack of response, her body running purely on emotions, still whispering to herself, "I can finally fix us."
Regina closed the gap between them, failing to notice her mother's oblivion, or the sudden twinkle in Gold's eye. Regina took one last look at the glowing red heart in her hands and smiled.
Cora staggered at the sudden impact, "What in gods..."
She heard Regina's voice calling her, mother. What a strange sensation. She'd been called mother a thousand times before but this time, this time it was different. A sharp ache originating from her chest spread to her body eliciting a bloodthirsty cry escaping her lips.
'Oh Regina, what did you do?'
She turned and recoiled, not in anger or disgust, but by the sheer vehemence of her emotions, "Regina?"
It was Regina, and Regina was smiling, and she was beautiful, and she was her daughter, and she was crying? Regina?
On seeing Cora, Regina stiffened into an alert position, too scared to move. She had done something wrong hadn't she? 'Oh God.'
Seeing Regina's tears made Cora wonder why it hurt to see tears in Regina's eyes. On instinct, she opened her arms and called out to her, "Oh Regina."
Regina was in her arms before she could finish, hugging her like they were hugging for the first time. Oh but it felt like the first time. Even though Cora was still very confused by what had happened, she relaxed into the embrace, and felt the ache she had experienced slowly turn into warmth. It felt like happiness. It felt like love.
Mother-daughter turned to see Mary Margaret and David rushing in. Mary's eyes widened as she took in Cora, alive? Her eyes searched for someone else, there, behind them.
Snow let out a gasp.
Both the Mills turned in unison to see what Snow and David had their eyes fixed on. On the bed lied Gold, eyes closed, a smile lingering on his lips, a smile that made their blood run cold. Gone. The dark one was no more. Before Regina could process the conflict of emotions she faced on seeing Gold's lifeless body, she heard a shallow whisper.
"This wasn't supposed to happen David."
Regina untangled herself from her mother, who was approaching Gold slowly, and faced Snow. She noticed the candle Snow held in her hands, "What did you do?"
"I-", Snow turned to David but Gold's death had stunned him into silence.
"What did you do?" Regina repeated, her voice a mere whisper.
"That's my candle, isn't it? I think Snow was trying to save dear Gold's life by exchanging it with mine."
Regina's face darkened, anger clouding her senses as she approached the white queen, her hands buzzing with purple energy. Snow remained rooted to her spot, eyes moistened with unshed tears but chin up, quivering. David finally seemed to come out of her stupor and moved to stand between the two women.
Regina waved her hand making David soar towards the left wall. David called out to his wife, "Snow! Snow, I need you to run."
Regina and Snow both remained deaf to the shouts of the shepherd boy, growing more and more desperate with every plea. Regina raised her right hand and Snow's eyes fluttered closed. As she struck her hand forwards, Regina got blinded by a sudden ambush of purple.
Panicking she tried to break free but a firm grasp on her shoulders restrained her. When the cloud dissipated Regina's eyes raked the surroundings, her house? She turned to find Cora taking a step back.
"Mother", Regina cried out exasperatedly, "why?"
Cora pulled the reluctant girl into her arms, "I don't want you to have anything to do with that woman or her family."
"But – but", Regina couldn't hold it together any longer, breaking into sobs, "the heart could have killed you, I could have killed you."
Cora's heart broke, strange feeling, at her little girl crying in her arms. Every fibre screamed at her to do something, anything to comfort the girl but she didn't know how.
"It's all done my girl, my precious girl. I had written off my entire life to blind vengeance the moment I decided to go after Snow's mother. I'm not going to watch you do the same with her daughter anymore. They're not worth our time, oh Regina, I've missed so much. Let me look at you."
Regina pulled back, wiping her tears, suddenly embarrassed at crying so freely. When she tried to fix her hair, Cora lightly held her wrists to make Regina stop.
Regina's mind kept telling her eyes to behave but her mother was looking at her with something that looked like pride, something she'd never seen, something she'd never thought she'd see and it felt like she was the one with a new heart inside her. Regina leaned forward, resting her head on her mother shoulder, revelling in the feeling of her mother running her hands through her hair. Such simple action bringing her such great comfort.
"Now I am serious, I don't want us to have anything to do with Snow White or her family. Neither her shepherd husband nor her saviour daughter."
Regina paused, thinking over what she wanted to say. She slowly turned sideways so she could look up to her mother and decided on one word, "Henry."
Cora's mouth twisted, "That boy is ungrateful, and he doesn't love you."
Regina closed her eyes as she tightened her hold, "But mother..." Regina cringed at how whiny her voice sounded but it was her baby boy they were talking about.
Cora guessed the day had been strenuous enough so she decided not to push. She had her daughter and her heart, and she was eternally grateful to each and every god for blessing her with this moment.
"We can discuss him later, but now your mother is hungry."
Regina laughed as she pulled back, leading her to the kitchen. She wiped her face and with the sudden need to celebrate asked her mother if she would like to try a home-made pie.
Cora smiled brightly, "Oh child I would love to try it."
Regina returned the smile before looking around, "Mother wait here, I'll get fresh apples from back."
Cora sat down as she heard the door close. She sighed, smiling as she reached for the bottle of water on the counter. As she opened the bottle to pour some for herself something dashed into her side, catching her off-guard and making her spill half the contents on the table. She looked to her left and saw Regina, who had her in a half hug with a grin.
Regina kissed her cheek, "I'm so glad you're here."
Before Cora could blink, her daughter was outside again. Cora couldn't help but smile at the closing door, her eyes misting over. Regina wasn't alone now, and she'd be damned if she let the Charmings hurt her daughter any further. Henry was a separate issue, Regina cared a great deal for the boy, and maybe they'd be able to reach some understanding in his matter. But later. Now she would wait for her daughter to come back so they could finally start over.
Next time: Regina has a long overdue confrontation. And it's not with her mother.
This will be based on Regina and the two most important women in her life: Cora & Emma. Does getting a heart back really make that big a difference? After all isn't the heart just a muscle?