Okay, so this is the longest chapter yet, but there was a lot going on! I was considering splitting it up, but you guys can handle this! Thanks again for all of the comments and kudos! Enjoy!
Henry ran through the halls, frantically seeking out his mother. Mary Margaret had received a phone call fifteen minutes prior, saying that the hospital had found Regina in Emma's room, injured and unresponsive. The teacher immediately roused Henry, considering that it was about six-thirty in the morning. Neither of them changed, and both grabbed coats and shoes before speeding off.
She didn't bother trying to slow Henry down, or keep up with him when he pelted from the car the moment she pulled into a parking space. Though he was wide-awake and petrified, Mary Margaret was still trying to shake the sleep from her bones.
Henry skidded down one of the wards, his sneakers squealing and scuffing against the tile. He knew he was in the right place when he heard strained orders being barked over the bedlam of Regina's tortured wailing. He had never heard such sounds coming from his normally composed mother, but the way they smashed through his head made Henry more terrified than he's ever been in his entire life.
He stopped dead outside the only room bustling with activity. His hazel eyes widened in horror. A whole team of nurses, headed by Dr Whale, was surrounding a gurney that Regina was on. She was flailing her limbs, thrashing her body and head around. Her silk pajamas were in an alarming state of disrepair, and the boy got an eye-full of hot, red blood gushing from his mother's bare feet.
"NO! STOP! I DON'T WANT YOU TOUCHING ME LIKE THAT. LET ME GO! PLEASE," the mayor tried to bellow, but her throat was so torn that it came out as nothing more than scratchy shrieks. Her eyes were popping in evident terror, while five nurses were wrestling her violently undulating form to the gurney.
"MOM!" Henry shouted, just as Mary Margaret approached him, placing her hands protectively over his shoulders.
"Henry?" Dr Whale looked confused as to the boy's presence, momentarily forgetting that he had requested Regina's son be notified. "Someone get him out of here. He shouldn't be seeing this. I need a sedative now," he hissed to one of the nurses fumbling to carry out his orders.
"Come on, Henry," his guardian whispered, trying to inject as much warmth and comfort into her voice. Even Mary Margaret couldn't fight the way her words shook upon seeing the other woman having a severe attack of some kind. The visual of Regina's eyes rolling in her head made the teacher's stomach lurch.
Henry pulled himself from her grasp, stepping closer to the threshold of the room. "Mom! Mom, it's me! It's Henry! I'm here," he sort of half-shouted, half-cooed to his compromised mother.
Her terror-stricken gaze locked onto his, and it seemed like she was struggling to see him. To see her son in the here and now, not whatever horror she was jammed into. "I'm so... sorry," she choked out, before losing herself again, her mouth gaping in a silent scream. A needle slid into her pinned arm, injecting something. Several long moments later, Regina's body slumped motionless onto the gurney, unconscious.
"H-Henry?" Mary Margaret's voice pierced through him, but he still couldn't tear his eyes away from all that lay before him. "Come on, Henry. We can't stay here." He stayed silent. "We... We could go to Granny's? I'm sure you're hungry..." But she could tell by his ashy complexion that food was the last thing on the boy's mind.
"I can't leave her," he whispered quietly. "If you're hungry, you can go get something, Ms Blanchard. But I won't leave my mom."
"How about I bring you something from Granny's? Do you want a pastry? Hot chocolate?" She pulled gently at him, getting the boy to walk toward the nearest waiting area.
"I want... A chocolate chip muffin and some hot chocolate. Please." He didn't look at her. Henry just frowned fearfully at the floor, dragging his feet. "I'll... I'm gonna wait in Emma's room. You don't have to walk me."
"Okay. I will be back in a bit." She didn't question him, knowing that he needed time to be alone and process what he had just witnessed. She watched him until he was out of sight before leaving the hospital.
Henry stood outside the little room that Emma was housed in. A nurse was in there. He watched as the man stripped bloodstained sheets from his mother's body. His eyes widened, wondering if something had also managed to injure his birthmother. But something else caught his eye. He looked on the ground, and noticed bloody footprints surrounding the bed and they were coming from the entrance to the room.
He frowned, looking around the tiles of the hallway he was standing in. No bloody footprints were there. Then his gaze fell upon a mop and the ugly, yellow bucket it stood in. The sight of his adoptive mother's feet dribbling blood swam to the head of his mind, and it all clicked.
Regina had been in Emma's room. She was on the bed with her. Doing what, he couldn't say. But she had walked through these halls, barefoot and bleeding all the way here. She was in her pajamas. Was she sleep walking? Henry knew his mother. She wouldn't risk something as foolish as walking around without shoes on injured feet. She was careful and attentive to her health. Something like this, well, it just wasn't Regina.
The nurse opened the door, peering down at the pensive boy. "Can I help you?"
"Huh? Oh, can I go in? I just wanna sit with Emma."
"If you don't mind me cleaning up, but maybe you'd rather wait until I get the blood off of the floor..."
"I'll step around it." Henry entered, hopping over the brownish splotches peppering the tiles. He plopped down into that hard little chair, resting his chin on the edge of Emma's bed. The rumble of the mop bucket being wheeled in did nothing to disturb his position. He quietly let the nurse do his job.
Mary Margaret tentatively entered the freshly-sanitized room about fifteen minutes after the nurse had left. She took more time than necessary to run her errand so as to allow the boy time to be with his mother and thoughts. Two paper cups were in each of her hands, and a little paper bag was tucked underneath her arm.
"Hey," she said softly. "I called the school to let them know you won't be in today. And I also left a message for Dr Whale so he knows where to find you when he's done with Regina."
"Thanks," he mumbled, taking the offered hot chocolate from the woman staring at him across from his mother.
"I can't stay for too long. I do have to be at the school." A weak smile crossed her lips. "If Regina saw that I was just leaving you in-"
"Don't." Henry's voice was a little firmer.
"I- I'm sorry. I didn't mean to..."
"It's fine." He took the muffin she held out. His hot chocolate stayed untouched.
"If you want to be alone-"
"Okay. I'll let you be." She moved around to him, moving to plant a gentle kiss on his head, but he pulled away. She looked down at him sadly. "You know where I keep the spare key to the apartment when you want to go home. He grunted. She decided that saying anything further wouldn't even get that much of a response and she left with one last look at him.
Dr Whale entered Emma Swan's room, and stopped short. He saw Henry curled up next to his birthmother, tucked under her blankets, fast asleep. He was suddenly reminded of just how early Henry Mills' tumultuous morning had been. He must have been exhausted.
He moved quietly to the bed, placing a hand on Henry's small shoulder, giving him a gentle shake. His snores burbled for a moment, his face scrunching trying to deny that he was being woken. Whale gave another shake, this time seeing sleepy eyes open and peer groggily up at him.
"Good morning, Henry." He smiled as warmly as he could.
Henry focused on the man for a moment, and then realizing whom it was, he bolted upright. "Ismymomokay?" he blurted as fast as he could.
"It's hard to say. I've got her sedated and she seems to be stabilized, but I have no explanation for her behavior. Perhaps she was having a reaction to the pain medication. She was feverish when we found her and clearly hallucinating. Perhaps she fell ill."
"And stumbled all the way here?"
"I know...it doesn't make much sense. I am trying to find out what is wrong with her. If you want to, you can go see her. She's not awake, but I'm sure she'd appreciate her son's company all the same." Dr Whale smiled down at Henry.
"Thanks, for helping my mom."
"Of course, Henry. I'll leave you be for now. If you need anything, lunch, if you get hungry, just let someone know. They'll bring you something." Whale was thanked again before he left.
Henry walked to his adoptive mother's room, unaware as to how much he was shaking and how hard his heart was hammering in his throat. The sight that greeted him did little to relieve his apprehension. Regina was unconscious on one of the hospital beds, clad in one of the ugly gowns. She was horribly pale, which only served the throw the unsightly scratches down her face into sharp relief.
An IV was hooked up to her arms, and he could see bruises under her skin from where the nurses had to hold her down. Her feet were wrapped in thick, gauzy bandages, and the sound of Regina's heart beeping on the monitor was not slow and steady like his other mother's. It was irregular, speeding up and slowing down and sort of skipping.
He stumbled in, tripping over his feet a little. He quickly scooped up one of her hands, exhaling a breath, some of the tension leaving his body. Her skin was still warm, though slightly clammy, but nothing like Emma's perpetually frozen body. That warmth was comforting to him.
"Hey. It's me, Henry. I don't know if you can hear me, or whatever, but I'm here. I'm not gonna leave you, Mom. Not for a long while." He reached out a trembling hand, almost placing it on her scabbed cheek, but he withdrew it. He was afraid of touching her wounds.
"I don't know what's happening to you, but I'm gonna fix you." He blew out a sigh. "Where's your Savior to save you when you need her?"
Henry was picking at one of the hospital lunches, leafing through one of the comics that Ms Blanchard had dropped off for him while she was on her own lunch break. He was reading about the Incredible Hulk when the rhythmic tapping of a cane caught his attention.
Mr Gold was standing in the doorway, a small bunch of flowers in his hands. "May I come in, Henry?"
"Sure, Mr Gold. What are you doing here?"
"Oh, I'm just passing on my wishes for a speedy recovery for the mayor here."
"Seriously?" Henry fixed him with a look of deep skepticism. He wasn't under the impression that either adult had any fondness for the other. He was also fairly certain that were their roles reversed, Regina wouldn't bother coming to visit him, let alone bring flowers.
"There's something else, isn't there?"
"What makes you say that?" he responded with cool curiosity.
"You're bringing Regina flowers? C'mon, why are you really here? Do you know what's happening to my mom?"
Gold never faltered at Henry's blatant accusation toward his less-than-friendly relationship with the mayor. "As a matter of fact, Henry, I do know what's wrong." He saw the boys face light up with a swirl of hope, fear and curiosity. "However, I cannot tell you what it is. It's between your mother and myself."
"What? But she's my mom!"
"I understand, but this isn't something for you to hear. Please, trust me on this."
Henry narrowed his eyes at the older man. "You still didn't tell me why you're here."
Gold chuckled at Henry's tenacity. He truly was the son of Regina and Emma. "I came here to ask a favor of you."
"Yes. I know how to fix all that is happening to your mother here, but I need you to do something for me first."
"What is it?"
"I need you to have your mother here moved into Miss Swan's room. I need them to be kept close."
"Why?" Henry's eyes remained narrowed, and he regarded Gold closely. If there was one thing he learned from Regina, it was how to see past masks, considering that she herself had worn many for her son. She had unknowingly taught him to identify when someone was hiding something, but Gold seemed earnest in his intentions.
"You know that Regina is Emma's True Love, yes?"
"Then she should be with her True Love. It will help stabilize her while she's unconscious and ensure that she's lucid when she wakes."
"I am certain of it. The rest I will take care of myself."
"I cannot tell you any more, Henry. I wish I could, but it's not information for you."
"Wait. Why do you think I will be able to get them to move Mom to Emma's room?"
"Because, Henry, you're their son. No one has more say than you do."
"But... I'm just a kid."
Mr Gold smiled down at his confused expression. "Exactly. Children have this curious ability to get what they want. I know you'll be able to do this."
"You're... You're not going to hurt her, are you?" Henry felt suddenly small and vulnerable.
"Emma cannot wake without Regina. I would not dream of hurting her, my boy. I'll be back when she's awake."
"How will you know?"
Gold just smirked knowingly at Henry before limping away. It left him feeling nervous and unsettled. He wanted to trust Mr Gold because he wanted his mother back, but Gold never made himself seem very trustworthy. All the same, he was given a task, and Henry was never one to back down from what needed to be done.
It took a little while to convince Dr Whale that Regina needed to be moved to Emma's room, but a few white lies, some puppy-eyed pleading, and a handful of well-timed tears later, Regina's bed was being wheeled to the ward Emma was housed in.
He flitted nervously around them, telling the nurses moving the brunette to place her bed directly next to the blonde's. He insisted that he needed them together, trembling his lip and making his eyes watery. Gold was right; kids did have a way of getting what they wanted.
Once Regina was settled in beside her sheriff and all of the nurses left, Henry stopped to look at both of them lying together. Something was off, though. He could feel that Regina was in no way more stable where she was than in the other room.
He stared at them, turning over Gold's words in his head, trying to figure out what he needed to do. The pawnshop owner had said that Regina needed to be close to Emma. Well, she's close to her now, so what's missing? He stared at his mothers, wracking his brain.
Something surfaced in his memory. Something from this morning when he first stood outside the room. That nurse was pulling bloody sheets off of his birthmother, implying that his other mother had been lying in bed with her. Emma was cold, Regina was hot. His brain clicked for the second time that day.
He climbed up, sitting on the crease between the two beds. He picked up the sheriff's left hand, set it in the center, then placed the mayor's right hand over it. The change was audible. Emma's heart monitor started beeping faster, while Regina's fell into a more regular pace. He looked at the softly-glowing screens hovering above his adoptive mother. He didn't know what any of it really meant, but he knew that he saw everything settling into a normal range.
He didn't want their hands to separate, so he rummaged through the drawers and cabinets in the room until he found a spool of medical tape. Hopping back up onto the beds, Henry wasted no time in taping the hands of his mothers together. It looked silly, but he knew he was doing the right thing.
"I love you," he murmured.
Regina's mouth felt...dry. She was aware that her eyes were still closed, but she wasn't ready to open them just yet. She took in a deep breath, noticing just how badly everything in her body seemed to be aching. She smacked her lips a few times, trying to return some saliva to her parched mouth.
Regina still didn't open her eyes. She took another painful breath, smelling sweat, flowers and hospital. A curious sound reached her ears. She heard the very distinct tone of a heart monitor, but it had the strangest rhythm. No... It was two monitors she was hearing. One that was following her own. The person the other heart monitor belonged to she didn't know.
She tried to lift her hand to rub her eyes and encourage her lids to open up, but something heavy was attached to it. Her fingers seemed stuck together as well. Something luke-warm was under her palm, and she had no idea what it was or why it was there.
The need to know what was stuck to her was powerful enough that she was able to pry her leaden eyelids open. It was fairly dark in the room, telling her that it was night. She lifted her head, turning it to the side to examine her hand. A curious sight greeted her bleary eyes.
It seemed to be bound atop another hand. Her eyes moved slowly up a toned arm, skating over a hospital gown, equally hideous as the one on her own body. Blonde curls, and the blank face that she knew every detail of met Regina's gaze.
Her eyes shot open, trying to sit up, but slammed herself back onto the mattress, pain rippling through her. She grunted loudly, her temper rising. The brunette impatiently, but slowly, shifted herself into a more upright position. She was about to reach over and tear the tape away from her hand, but the pain in her arm stopped her.
She looked down at it, and noticed all of the purple blemishes, some of them clearly hand and finger shaped made her gasp. "What the hell happened to me?" She looked at her other arm and saw similar markings. The mayor shifted her eyes to her feet, which were heavily bandaged. She huffed with frustration.
Gritting her teeth and ignoring the pain - because Regina Mills was stubborn like that - she once again made to remove the tape binding her to the Savior. But when she looked closely, she saw something scribbled on the bands of tape: Don't take it off. Feel better! -Henry
Regina frowned down at the message. Why on earth was she not supposed to unbind her hand? She moved to run her free fingers through her hair, but hissed in pain again. She fumbled around with the hand that was not her dominant one until she found a little button to page a nurse. The mayor needed answers and painkillers.
She had put her head back down onto the pillows and closed her eyes, trying to ignore the heavy throbbing in her head. She heard the door open. "Finally, it took you long enough. I'm in pain. Fix that."
"Do say 'please,' your Majesty."
Regina's head shot up, her eyes widening in shock, but her lip quickly turned upward in a snarl. "What the hell do you think you're doing here, Rumple?"
"I'm here to help you remedy this little debacle you've gotten yourself into."
"Finding yourself in places that you don't remember going to? Well," he sneered, his eyes traveling down her body. "I'd say your feet certainly remember."
"Get to the point, Rumple."
"Manners, Majesty." He was having entirely too much fun toying with the brunette. "Say 'please'... please."
Before Regina could stop herself, she found the word bubbling out of her lips, "Please."
"That's better." He walked over to Regina's bed, that smug smirk never leaving his face. "You, your Majesty, don't seem to know enough about True Love." Regina scoffed at his words. "Tell me, is a person genuinely whole without their True Love?"
Not sure what the imp was getting at, she decided to play along. "Of course not. They need each other to survive. If one of them is-"
"Perhaps put under a Sleeping Curse, the other is severed from them."
"Until the curse is broken. Broken by True Love's Kiss."
"Precisely, but what you don't seem to realize, Regina, is what happens if that curse is not broken. If that severance is never mended."
"I don't understand."
"That's rather obvious. What you don't know is that the longer a person is severed from their True Love, the more unstable they become."
"Yes, and in our land, that happens at an extremely slow rate. It can take decades for that to happen. In addition to that, the stronger the bond, the slower the process. Take Snow White and her dear Prince Charming." Gold did not fail to notice the way Regina's jaw tightened at the mention of the woman she hated so much. "Had her prince not found her, he would find himself losing his mind over a very long period of time.
"It wouldn't show for a quite some time, but the prince would always feel unbalanced. Eventually, he would lose his mind, having lost what completes and grounds him. Although," his brow creased thoughtfully. "Perhaps never for Charming, considering just how much he loves his Snow White.
"Or dear Princess Abigail and her gold knight. Had her fiancé not gotten that water from the lake so jealously guarded by the siren, thirty or so years later, Midas' daughter would cease to be."
"What's your point?" Regina was at the end of her patience, her head was pounding and he was seriously getting on her nerves.
"The point is, Regina, you and I both know that magic is unstable in this world. Things don't work the same way here. Don't tell me there's no magic in this realm. There is but one magic strong enough to permeate all realms in existence, and you know exactly what kind it is. You and I know who your True Love is. And by being in contact with her, she's keeping you grounded...for now. But this isn't our world, and the instability of magic, plus how weak your bond with the sheriff currently is, it would appear that the severance process has been sped up. Drastically."
"So you're saying," Regina started, trying to use a tone that suggested that she didn't believe a word he was saying.
"You, Majesty, have a very limited amount of time. You know what you have to do. I suggest you do it, and quickly."
"Why should I listen to you? What makes me think I will trust a single thing you say?"
Gold laughed softly. "I said nothing about trust, dearie. So let me put it this way, then. Imagine what Henry will do if he loses both of his mothers?"
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