REMEMBER; Alignment of the text in center means the story is, in that moment, told from one of other character's POV’s. 3 dots means a change in POV between Emma and Regina.
Chapter 11: T
Right now in Storybrooke, Maine (8.15 P.M.):
Mary Margaret is walking Storybrooke`s main street with Henry when the sudden gust of wind hits her. It makes her stop in her tracks, narrow her eyes, feel down her body. Two sets of memories fight in her brain, and the strangest sensation washes over her when both of them win, and she connects one with the other.
One thought immediately enters her mind, her heart, and she whispers it into the breeze.
‘She found us.’
David had been on his way out of town, when a rush of light makes some birds fly from a tree. He hits the brakes and gasps as two sets of memories fight in his brain, to his astonishment, both winning. Then, making the connection, he turns the wheel.
‘ She found us’
Rumplestiltskin is staring out of the window when he feels the undeniable ripple of magic tickling the hairs on the back of his neck.
He smiles, and shakes his head as he notices the clock tower. Magic always has a way to make the circle round.
Regina and Emma, the hospital.
The rasping breath cuts through Regina`s throat like ice, as she feels the magic palpating around her. It`s familiar, and yet it is not, as if her magic merges with another. She is lightheaded, and a burning but delicious ache of touch caresses the back of her neck. Disoriented, she tries to breathe once more, gulping in air as if she just was saved from drowning.
And then, she realizes…
Emma feels the woman moving in her hands, before the sound of a gasp fills the air. She feels the tug, the jump of her heart, the organ filling itself with the sight of her, and a smile breaks through as she hears her own whisper.
The sound of the voice urges Regina’s eyes to open. They dart, confused, from the slightly parted lips, -close, so close to hers-, to teary, turquoise eyes, when realization starts to dawn.
It’s the way the name is said that does it. The coarseness in it. The emotion in it.
The savior. Happy. Happy that she, the Evil Queen, had woken.
The hope that flashes through her heart is raw and entangles with a far, far purer emotion.
She swallows, her mouth dry, her lips tingling with yearning as she feels Emma`s breath upon them.
She stares at the woman before her, as she lets her fingers find, touch and search, her own chest and finds a warmth she has never sensed before.
She fights the urge to reach out and take the blonde`s face in her hands, her mind only just now catching up with the feeling her heart is spreading through her soul.
There is only one thing that could have woken her from her curse.
True love`s kiss.
It is as if the word, spoken in question, wakes her and Emma, suddenly painfully aware how close she is to the other woman, quickly withdraws, mumbling an apology. She thinks it must not sound very sincere though. Not with the unfading, uncontrollable grin tugging her prickling lips, which she, involuntarily, grazes with the tip of her index-finger. Turning her head away, she can`t help the flutter in her chest, as she hides the facial expression from the brunette who would be mortified if she`d know what had just happened.
It pulsates in her chest, the ache merging with the love she only just admitted to herself, but the joy that Regina is awake is not one she can contain.
Regina blinks, confused, as she catches sight of the smile that brightens up the blonde`s face, and for a moment, a ray of hope that had entered, also brightens up her heart. Her heart, that feels warm and heavy, filled to the rim with something she can not allow herself to say. Not even allow herself to think.
Emma saved her…
Her lips still hunger for the ones they must have just met and Regina glances at them, before the blonde turns away her gaze, stealing her view.
Doubt fills her heart when she notices Emma`s reluctance to look at her and for a moment she feels the organ hesitate before it continues its rapid pace.
She hears the name it screams with every beat, the two syllables she wants to say more than anything.
But she can`t...
And when she speaks, she hears herself, the trembling hoarseness completely diluting the snide, making the words instead come out as a caress, or a token of gratitude or, at best –or worst she isn`t sure-, a polite acknowledgement.
Emma`s heart drops. For a moment, when she had heard the small intake of air when she`d looked away, hope had wormed its way in. But hearing the familiar use of her last name, -although she is quite sure (or just convincing herself) it doesn`t come out half as hateful as it had many times before- constricts her windpipe, making it hard for her to breathe. The pain in her chest is constant. The feelings she let pour out only moments before are clawing at the walls, trying to find their way back in, searching for protection. But they are out there, now . In the real world. Even if that real world contains dragons and poisoned apples and curses. And, deep down, she knows, she doesn’t want to take them back.
She is scared, terrified and almost bites back in saying that she is a `Charming` now. But she doesn’t. And she isn`t. Not yet. She never will be. Because no matter how much she would like to have her parents remember, and no matter how much Regina despises her, she knows she will never be able to drive a dagger through this woman`s heart.
The newly discovered love flows through her, heavies her and lights her at the same time. But her voice sounds toneless and soft, as if all life, -all love?- is drained from her.
‘You woke up… You fought it… You did it!’
If Regina had had hope, hidden in a small corner of her heart, that maybe Emma DID care for her, now it vanished. Even though Emma words show she is pleased she was awake –which alone brings a thrill to Regina- they also sound emotionless, and deny having any participation in breaking the sleeping curse.
Let alone true love`s kiss.
The effects of which Regina could still feel on her lips, on her fingertips, in her heart… Everywhere…
If someone would have told her, a day before, that Emma Swan was her true love, Regina would have laughed. She would have laughed her controlled, royal, mocking laugh. -Probably would have made an insulting remark, if she could have stopped laughing long enough to utter the words.- And that would have been the end of it.
But now. Something is different… Now, everything is different.
Now, she feels as if every kindness the blonde had ever done to her flashes before her eyes once more. But this time. She FEELS them.
She is not frozen anymore.
Her heart, melted by the tears Emma had shed for her, feels like it will expand. And the places where kindness had once made small cracks appear in the ice surrounding it, burn with an emotion the frozen organ has only reluctantly made her feel for the last 10 years. It feels like it explodes in her chest. Her love.
And even though 24 hours ago she would have laughed at the thought that the other woman was her true love, now Regina knows better.
Emma Swan is her true love.
But she doesn`t want to be.
And, knowing that, glancing at the blonde who could not even meet her eyes, all she wants to do is cry.
Right now in Storybrooke, Maine.
By the time David`s car screeches to a halt at the sight of his Snow, the door opens and the eyes of the 2 separated lovers lock, all inhabitants of Storybrooke have woken up from their 28-year-lasting –very lifelike- dream.
They watch and cheer as true love`s kiss is shared , and when Snow, finally, rests her head against her Charming`s shoulder, she says the words they`ve both been thinking.
‘ We have to find her. ’
Henry beams at the sight of his grandparents. The outbursts of names that had surrounded him the last few moments warming his heart. Family, lovers, friends all finding, -remembering- each other after so many years of not being able to was pretty great. And now? He gets to help, which is even greater.
All eyes are on him when he speaks.
`I know where she is, come on!’
And when they all follow him, Snow and Charming, Granny and Red, Grumpy and Nova and Sneezy and Blue and all the others, he laughs out loud with joy.
He was wrong.
It`s not great, or greater. It`s the greatest!
Currently, in the hospital, Storybrooke, Maine.
‘You woke up… You fought it… You did it!’
‘Well Miss Swan, I believe that was you…’
The women look up at the hearing of his words and he adds the one that is his signature as he moves closer to them, the stick in his hand supporting every step.
Regina feels a coldness wash over her as she sets eyes on the man approaching them. The abbreviation of his name falls out of her mouth as a habit, but doesn’t sound as threatening as it should.
She still feels weak from the effects of the broken sleeping-spell, or maybe it had been the unfreezing of her heart that had done her in, but when she moves to get up, -the one thought on her mind pushing Emma to the side, out of the line of fire- she feels herself fall down again into the pillow.
But then, she senses it. Smells it.
She has been held down, held back by magic in her childhood too many times not to know what it feels like.
And she has felt the Dark One`s magic too much not to recognize his’.
A stagnation spell, she reckons, but it looks like his magic doesn’t work properly, because she can still move, though with immense effort.
She feels it all around her, hears it, crackling in the air. She tries to conjure her own, blast him away, far away from Emma, but the fire flickers feebly in her hand before it extinguishes.
She feels it, wash over her, the lack of control, the fear of, once more, losing a loved one. But when her eyes creep up and meet Emma`s, the unthinkable happens.
Seeing the fear in Regina`s eyes, –Mixed, maybe, with something else, something she doesn`t even dare hope for- is enough for Emma. With one swift motion she breaks through the heavy, thick mist surrounding her and steps in front of the bed. Doing the only thing that matters.
He blinks, confused, and she feels something warm and tingly in her fingertips, in the palms of her hands, like she did when she was almost touching the brunette`s burned wrists. Something she felt charge inside her when her lips had met the brunette`s.
Magic, rudimentary, basic but such pure Magic flows around the blonde. Regina breaths it in, feeling herself released from the Dark One`s spell, holding her down. She cherishes herself in the enchanting sensation, so unfamiliar and yet she recognizes it instantly as Emma`s. The sparks of electricity, warm and soothing, easing like the pain the fire of the red room had caused.
It`s a protection spell, Regina realizes and, well, the blonde had always been good at protecting herself.
There is, -strange enough- nothing odd about the fact Emma has Magic. Neither does the presence of Magic in Storybrooke surprise her.
She might blink in amazement when she sees the Dark One, stumbling back from the bluish white rush that comes from Emma`s fingertips.
But nothing shocks her as much as the eyes of the Savior, as she looks back at her and Regina notices the blonde`s position.
Right between the bed and the Imp.
And it is that and the short glance back that makes her realize.
Emma had not been protecting herself.
She had been protecting her.
‘That is my daughter, you creep!’
In a perfect mix between Snow and Mary Margaret, Henry sees his grandmother pull the Rumplestiltskin away from Emma. He hadn`t even been so close to her. And, if Henry was honest, it didn`t look like Snow had do a lot of effort to get him to back off. He seems pretty drained as he leans against one of the other beds, using the headboard and his walking stick for support.
Regina knows what happened the moment she sees the pixy-haired woman arrive. She doesn’t need to hear the words to see the stance, the pride, the bravery. The way Snow pulls back her shoulders when she speaks and withstands whatever is thrown at her –so similar to the blonde, who always has a retort-, the confidence Mary Margaret never had.
The curse is broken.
Emma wants to slump in relieve when she sees her friend arrive, but then, at the same time, she realizes what the woman said and what it implied.
She was someone`s daughter.
And, there was only one way this woman could know.
Henry worms himself between Mary Margaret and David and beams at her, before he throws his arms around her waist, positively knocking the wind out of her. Confirming, with his words, what her mind already knows.
‘You broke the curse!’
Regina sits up straighter, when she sees the angry mob behind the pixy-haired woman. She is glad she is wearing, at least, decent clothes. She wouldn`t like to be caught death in one of those hospital robes.
And death, she knows, is coming.
She tries to looks into the eyes of all of those she cursed, and finds she can not keep them for long. She wants to say something, apologize, tell them about her frozen heart, that now, in melted state, can not believe the things she has done. But she holds her tongue, for she knows. No-one will believe her.
Emma, who is now being held by her parents, her son in the middle of the Charming family reunion, still holds her protective stance. But not for long, Regina is certain. Soon enough the Savior will realize just WHO she had saved, and all would be over.
She sees Henry`s eyes look for hers as he wriggles his head out of the entanglement of hands, bodies and love. An embrace she is trying not to look at. For not only is it the ultimate confrontation that no one has missed her, Regina, these 28 years, it is her fault that they can reunite only now. She has cursed her true love to a life of loneliness and pain. And she can`t find the strength in herself to meet them, those eyes, that were the first to see the Evil in her once again. Those eyes, so much like his birthmother`s, so open and beautiful and caring… Once upon a time. Now they would glitter in satisfaction, in knowing he was right, and it will be her downfall.
She looks down, instead, at her entangled hands and resigns herself to her fate.
Henry feels the anger of the people behind him and instinctively, -probably a genetic thing- knows what to do. Freeing himself from the hug, he runs towards the darkhaired woman in the bed, who is reluctant to look at him. Who doesn’t realize that when he said `You broke the curse`, he had spoken in plural. And, just when the people behind Snow White are starting to scream protests, he jumps on the bed and flies into his mother`s arms.
Holding the mother she never knew she had, hearing her whisper things like `I knew you would find us`, feeling her tears fall in the crook of her neck, feels unreal to Emma. More unreal than any of the rest. –Even the dragon…- It makes her dizzy, and she hangs on to the familiar feeling of Henry`s arms around her waist like they are a life-line, until she feels it slip away.
She follows him, with her eyes, with her heart, as he crawls onto the bed to hug his mother and she feels her heart melt at the sight of Regina`s eyes when Henry wraps his arms around her.
The astonishment, the disbelieve, the `I-don`t-deserve-this-so-it-can`t-be-true’ look in those dark eyes is all too familiar. She hears the mob growl behind Mary Mar… Snow White… and as she feels their approach, she frees herself from the embrace and steps, once again, in front of the bed, in front of the 2 people that mean everything to her.
But, it seems it’s not her action that stops the angry people of Storybrooke from attacking their Mayor, -or, rather, the angry creatures of The Enchanted forest from attaching their Queen-. It are two voices, mixed together, forming the same word.
As Snow White catches the sight of a son embracing his mother, the image hits her with amazing force. An image of herself, hugging the woman who had once saved her life. The woman who once had been, who so long ago disappeared, looks so much like the one now in the bed, that it makes her stumble when her daughter lets go of her.
Yes, she is angry, yes, she is heartbroken, the memories of the live she lived, away from the people that she loved, of the stories, bits and pieces, Emma had told her about her childhood. Her heart aches with want of taking it back, of making it stop, of just going back to the time where she held that baby in her arms. And yes, she blames the woman who had made it all happen, feels an anger towards the Evil Queen she had never, in either of her lives, had allowed herself to feel.
But when she catches the dark brown eyes, locking into hers over the shoulder of a son, over the shoulder of a daughter, she sees something that makes her scream the word to end the anger behind her.
For she sees not The Evil Queen.
She sees Regina.
And, somehow, that changes everything.
Her voice tangles together with that of a young boy as she screams it:
When her eyes catch sight of Snow White`s, Regina sees the images flash again, the young girl she had once saved, the independent woman of the woods, rescuing a woman she did not know. She breaks the contact, almost immediately, not able to look the woman she has treated as her mortal enemy for so long, in the eye. Although she knows she does not deserve it, she allows herself, shortly, to give in to the sensation of her son`s arms, so tightly enveloped around her.
She had spent most of last year missing this. Wishing for times long past… Knowing she would have cherished his affection more had she known it would become so rare and reluctant. And now, she couldn`t do anything else but treasure the moment, her heart swelling with her love for him.
Then, when she hears him scream the order that halts the angry crowd, a single tear -of millions threatening to fall- escapes, but she makes sure it remains hidden. Her pride, something she has held on for so many years now, not something she is willing to let go at this crucial moment.
`What happened?’ ‘ What is SHE doing awake?’ ‘How DID the curse break?’.
The voices of the town`s people are merging together, some in outrage (Leroy, Whale) and some in mere question (Ruby, Archie), but Emma is focused on the one that doesn’t speak. When she heard Mary Margaret scream the command to stop the mob from taking action, for the first time she felt the REAL tug in her heart, the yearning, the acknowledgement that THIS was her mother. She sees the hazel eyes focus on Regina, holding their son, before searching for Emma`s and shoots the woman a small smile when she sees how something else is starting to sink in.
It is Henry, once again, who gets to do it, he smiles broadly as he stands on the bed, half-expecting his mother –Either of them, although Regina more likely than Emma- to talk him off, and his smile grows even wider when they don’t.
`Wait! You don`t get it… That`s because you haven`t heard the story!’
‘The story?’ ‘What story?’ ‘I think I know all the stories!’
The voices overlap once again, everyone eager to be heard, but, to Henry`s surprise, immediately calm the moment he raises his hands.
`You may know a lot of the stories, but you don`t know the ending. Cause… You know… That hadn`t been written yet!’
He gestures around him, indicating this moment and he knows, looking at the people muttering, mumbling at each other, he has their attention, so he better use it.
And he just knew how to start.
‘Once upon a time…’
While Henry tells the story of a boy in search for his biological mother, Regina sees how he enchants the villagers.
`Then, as she takes the key in her hand, the tower clock`s big hand moves. Finally, time is back in Storybrooke, Maine!’
His way of telling is so charming and her heart swells with pride at the sight of him.
It also winches, as if squeezed, when he talks about the multiple clashes between two women, as she realizes this will also be the tale of how much he loves Emma, and how little he loves her.
She swallows, hard, thinking all eyes are on the boy, but when she glances up, answering to a pull she had not been aware of, she finds turquoise eyes on her, evoking a soft tingling feeling.
Her lips part as the sound of her son`s voice seems to fade away, and she can only hear the drumming of her own heart.
She had thought she had known love.
But this isn`t anything like with her moments with Daniel, where it was lightheaded, and sweet, and simple.
With Daniel she had simply known.
Now, looking into the eyes of the savior, it’s heavy and painful and delicious and complicated, and it makes her doubt all the time.
And if feels like she knows nothing.
But Daniel had been an enchantment, a façade. A lie.
And, despite not having Miss Swan`s superpower. She is pretty sure this isn’t.
She lets out a breath she hadn’t been aware to have been holding, when Emma lowers herself on the side of the bed. They don`t touch, but her proximity –and her gaze- give a pleasant warmth that,
-Regina is mortified to admit-, is making her blush. She quickly breaks eye contact, focusing again on her eloquent son.
‘And it was then that the White Knight could be on the road to complete her quest. A quest which, in order to be completely understood, needs another story. The story of a man, in desperate search for his lost son. The story of a Prophecy.
Isn`t that right, Mr. Gold?’
Rumplestiltskin tries to smile, while he attempts to approach the boy who is asking him to tell his tale. A story he is not particularly prone to share, but, when he sees the angry mob turn, their fierceness directed at him, he holds up the hand that is free of his walking stick and stops in his tracks. The mob and the Charmings form an excellent wall between him and the apprentice he would like very much to look in the eye, but it seems his plans have to wait.
His own curiosity about how Regina had been able to live through the breaking of the curse, rises when he locks eyes with the boy he had procured for her almost 11 years ago. His eyes narrow, and his plans form. He will give the boy what he wants… For something in return.
`Well, Dearie, it seems you want my story, and I will give it to you. I will even be so kind as to help you unravel how the curse broke. But… Everything has a price…’
It is Prince Charming, that strutting little goat-shepherd, who speaks up, his voice booming through the ward. It is an odd gathering. The villagers spread through-out the bigger hospital-room while the objects of their worship –the savior, the White Knight- and their hatred –the Evil Queen- are shielded by the son they share and a Royal couple.
‘ What do you want, Rumple?’
He giggles, and is glad to see more than one person in the crowd shivers at the sound.
‘ Immunity… I want to be able to, freely, go and find my son.’
There is a flicker in the boy`s eyes, that makes Emma know what`s coming, but before she has the chance to scream a warning, Henry has said the dreaded word to Gold.
The mob is anxious, uneasy, and she can`t say she herself likes the idea of her son in a deal with Rumplestiltskin, but the boy doesn’t seem to be bothered.
`No! My son is not old enough to…’
Regina`s voice sounds slightly stronger than it had when she just woken from the sleeping curse, which brings a smile to Emma`s lips. She can`t help but gawk at the woman ever so often –ok, honestly, she had had trouble following the whole `figuring-out-what-broke-the-curse’ thing, distracted much?- and her smile widens when the boy whispers something in his mom`s ear, making her stop, and look at him in amazement.
‘Mom! He did not say anything about when he comes back.’
Her son, out-smartening Rumplestiltskin? Now Regina had lived to see it all.
`Fine. Deal. Spill.’
`Regina, I don`t think you have anything to…’
But Charming`s booming voice halts when his wife and daughter both look at him. From her position in the bed, she can`t see their eyes, but it almost seems like they glare at him , judging the way he blinks and shoots her a –can it really be?- apologizing glance, before nodding his agreement to Rumplestiltskin.
“The prophecy about the curse, the only means I had to find my son, came to me from many sources. A Genie, A Seer, and, of course, little old me after I had `freed` her from her powers.”
It is strange to notice that Henry is a better story-teller than Rumplestiltskin, who was, indeed, a fairytale character, but it’s true. The story comes out in bits and pieces, but it seems like the boy knows exactly which questions to ask to keep prompting The Dark One to come up with the required information.
Snow White looks at the boy she has just found out to be her grandson with pride, and in the sweep of her eyes, catches something unexpected. Emma`s hand is –she didn`t have another word for it- hovering. It`s hovering as if in yearning to touch another, playing nervously with the blanket.
Snow remembers that feeling. She had felt it every time she brought flowers to a John Doe. An inexplicable desire to touch. The comparison disturbs her, making her feel like she is missing a connection there, linking the view with the memory.
It nags, and hurts, nipping at her heart, until a sharp pain of near-realization hits her.
But that can`t be…
Conflicting emotions wanting to evoke confliction actions rage through her heart and Snow momentarily closes her eyes. If she could only find a way to listen to her heart, she knew it would tell her what to do. But she can`t seem to focus, so, for the time being, she chooses to be Mary Margaret instead and stays still, her eyes yet again drawn to a hovering hand.
Yes, it disturbs her, but, the scariest thing is… Not as much as it should. She narrows her eyes slightly and then looks away quickly when she sees Emma glance in her direction.
When she looks back, Emma`s hand is pulled back and lays, motionless, on the white cotton.
Then Henry speaks the words that catch her attention.
‘Tell us the prophecy, and don`t leave anything out this time.’
She feels cold when she senses his eyes on her, the man who once was her teacher. Regina knows better than to look up, to look into his eyes. She feels… Knows in a way, Emma`s attack has drained him of his Magic, if only temporarily, but one look into her eyes, his apprentice, the one with the same kind of Magic Energy he had, and he would be able to charge from her, withdraw her magic from her. And even though she felt pretty depleted right now, she was not willing to take the risk. Not while THEY were so close, Henry, and Emma, and Sn…
She abruptly and automatically stops that thought from finishing, swallowing as if, that way, she can digest the words and dispose of them.
“ Well the first part is about you, Regina, Dearie…”
She detects his pang of disappointment when she doesn’t look up, and she hates the fact that she will look weak. But feeding his power is something she can not allow herself to do, so, no matter how much it stings her pride, right now, she is going to keep her head down.
Her eye falls on Emma`s hand, laying, casually, on the blanket. It`s not even abnormally close, but she can almost feel the connection with her own hand, as it plays carefully with the covers. It comforts her in the oddest way.
‘”You will not cast the curse; someone else will. Even in this world, it can be hard to find love. And the girl who never will, the firstborn of the heartless woman, is the one, the Queen, you need to take and give the heart, to cast the curse.”
The way he points at Regina makes Emma want to growl, and for a moment`s she finds herself wishing she was a werewolf like Red and just could bite, tear down his throat, making the awful giggling stop. The fact that Regina has not once looked up at the man, just sat there, staring at her hands in her lap, made her heart sink with heaviness. What was going on?
Mumbles had started to arise, talk about Regina`s mother,Cora, who had ripped her own heart out in order to prevent love to cloud her judgments. Whispered words about Regina taking her father`s heart, and giving it up for the curse.
Emma saw the woman in the bed cringe, bite her full lower lip, and she felt her own heart wrench in kind.
She spits out the word with sudden force, looking up at him and, to her surprise, see him stumble backwards slightly when their eyes meet.
‘ Why, it’s quite simple, Dearie… I needed the first-born daughter of a woman without a heart. There are not a lot of those walking around, even in Fairytale land, so it wasn`t particularly hard to find out who I needed. And then I just had to… Ensure… My investment.’
She lunges forward. Not thinking about safety, or the fact that he is the `Dark One`, or about deals.
But a soft hand, gently lain on her forearm, tingling and warm and heavy with sadness, has more effect than the exasperated outcries of the onlookers.
As Rumplestiltskin continues to explain that the heart Regina sacrificed indeed was her father’s and the people in the crowd show their response to such Evilness, Henry contemplates momentarily to press a little further, but a flutter inside his heart is what pulls him back. It`s a flutter he has come to understand in the last year. It is not his place to push this.
But he is so glad when he hears Emma cry out the words that he could just jump into his birthmother`s arms. Not the best idea though, better keep that for later.
`You made her do it!’
‘I might have done some things to… nudge her… in the right direction. But everybody has a choice, Dearie, as you so pointedly demonstrated right there.’
And, with those words, he points at the ruby-hilted dagger, stabbed in the bed`s headboard.
Regina pulls back her hand, which she had instinctively had placed on Emma`s forearm, as if burned, when her mind catches up on what Rumplestiltskin is saying. The absence of the soothing contact immediately sends a shiver through her.
But you did not freeze her heart…
She almost says the words out loud, fairly certain it was the Dark One who had cast the icy spell on her. But then, she not only remembers her aunt`s words, she also realizes, he was right. She had had a choice, no matter how frozen her heart had been.
She had chosen Henry, she had taken back the curse despite the consequences it would have, despite the fact her heart still must have been filled with ice at that moment. Did that mean she had grown, or that she hadn`t loved her father that much?
The memory of the man washed over her with the new pain her melted heart allowed her to feel. Yes, she had loved him, she had loved him dearly. But there had been a part of her that had been so hurt by what he had done to her. By the fact that he kept saying he was looking out for her happiness. He had never really spoken any word against her, right up until that last moment. His weak, serving ways, right up until the moment it was HIS heart on the line. He had never stood up for her, had never fought for her, and then, at that moment, he had faced his cowardice and spoken up.
But only to save his own heart.
She shudders at the comparison with herself, inevitably entering her mind. Because isn`t that what she is doing now? Or at least what it must look like she is doing now? Taking action only when her son had been in danger? Showing remorse for her actions only now, too late and with curse has broken? It feels different. She wants-so desperately wants- it to be different. But it is really?
She remembers. She remembers how much her father`s words had angered her, saddened her. How her chest had gone rigid. How the tears had escaped her eyes as she had let him hold her one last time.
She remembers and now, without ice hardening her heart, she can`t help but silently cry for the path she had chosen.
Emma looked at her arm, the place that burned with Regina`s touch. The touch that had been so effective in holding her back and yet so fleeting. She feels something run through her veins she`s never felt before, something that seems to make her feel everything more intensely. She can smell it, she can taste it, and maybe it is because she has fairytale-genetics or something but she knows, recognizes, what it is.
The moment Regina had touched her, some of the tension she felt towards Rumplestiltskin had eased, but the woman had pulled back immediately when she had sat down again, as if the contact physically hurt her.
But then she sees it. It is almost invisible, the slight rhythmic movement of her slumped shoulders easily passable for breaths. But Regina Mills never slumps, and Emma doesn`t need to see the tear fall on the cotton to know the other woman is crying.
She feels the anger –the Magic?- rage up in her again, but somehow now is able to direct it in a more… constructive… way.
Because if she knows Regina at all, if she knew the Mayor, and she sees the signals, the last thing the brunette would want is show anyone her weakness.
So she does what she does best: She acts on impulse. And reaching behind her, to shortly cover Regina`s hand with hers, she goes for distraction.
‘So, what about me? Am I in this “Prophecy” as well?”
Some people protest, they want to hear about the dagger, the Ruby-hilted Dagger they recognize as the one that never misses it`s goal. But Snow has seen it happen, the interaction, two mere touches that speak so much louder than words. And she calms her people, uses their trust in her to ensure them they will hear the story. The whole story.
Because the alteration in breathing she sees in Regina, is one she recognizes. She knows her Stepmother never knew her silent sobs of grieve and sadness in her years of marriage to the King had been heard by someone. But a small child was easily forgotten when you are so hurt you cry yourself to sleep at night.
When Charming had once asked her if she truly had ruined Regina`s life, the answer hadn`t been that hard.
So now, when she’s seen her daughter reassure the other woman by means of a small touch, and realized what she was up to with her question, Snow was more than willing to pay off this small token of her debt. She had an inkling Regina was even starting to pay off hers…
The way Emma touches Regina`s hand, like in an afterthought, almost like an accident, is nothing less than pure Magic.
It finds her skin out of the tips of the blonde’s fingers and jolts her into a gasp. The sensation foreign and yet again so, so familiar, she can almost taste the other woman on her lips.
She blushes at that thought, but finds herself able to look up without the embarrassment of tears streaming down her face. The sadness is still there. Heavy, pressing on her chest. But it is slightly less urgent, can wait for later when she is safe, safe from prying eyes.
She sees, feels Rumple`s focus change to the woman who has asked him the question.
‘Of course you are, Dearie, it wouldn`t be much of a prophecy if it didn`t have a part about the savior now, would it?’
`So? Tell us!’
Henry`s voice rings through the room and sooths her heart slightly, before Rumplestiltskin uses that eerie tone of oracle again.
‘“ And you will not break the curse; someone else will. True love always will produce the strongest magic of all. Even whipped and scarred by lack of roots, the universal one you seek can bring light in the purest of darkness. The one who knows that black or white swans are still of the same kind, is the one, the Knight, you need, to give and take the heart to break the curse”’
The villagers seem stunned after that, and even Regina, used to the deceptive words used in predictions, finds herself having trouble understanding.
‘It is not so hard, Dearies.’
He spoke the words condescending, as if he, himself, had not spend years –decades- to figure out the meaning of the words.
He points at the White Knight, the savior he has awaited for so long, as he explains.
‘Never looked up the meaning of your name, Dearie? Emma means ‘Universal’.’
He spreads his arms as if introducing her to the world.
‘Meet the product of Twue loww, destined to free us from this wretched curse by the simple means of taking a… heart.’
He makes the gesture of plucking an apple from a tree and giggles at his own resourcefulness.
He looks at her curiously then, this Charming product of love and then glances at Regina. He had been quite certain it would be Regina`s heart she would take, but that part had always been such a blur, such a torment... So how had she done it?
‘You made me think I had to kill her!’
Emma hears the words come out choked and much more like a whisper then the scream she had intended.
‘Yet, Dearie, I was quite sure that would suffice. And yet… You didn`t. And still… Here we are… However did you do it? Tell me? How did you break the curse? Perhaps it`s time, Savior, that we hear your story…’
His words effectively deflate her anger. The question one that has been rising in her mind as well. She catches hazel eyes before her, so much like her own, like Henry`s, that she is surprised that she only now notices the resemblance. It seems like something is starting to dawn in those eyes, Snow`s eyes. Her mother`s eyes. She looks in them for help, for support, and finds only the latter.
Regina feels her son slip from the bed, his absence leaving a coldness she had thought she had gotten used to in the last months. She`d been wrong. She never would… Never could… get used to this. But she understood.
Emma was the good one. The White Knight, The Savior. Who would want the Evil Queen as a mother if you can have that? Who can blame him for choosing the hero over the villain?
When she sees him slip one of his hand into Snow White`s, before placing, gently, a piece of parchment in it, she is reminded of the countless art-projects, the insane number of drawings he had made for her once upon a time. She smiles at the thought of the memorabilia, happy she has saved each and every one and will be able to revisit those happy moments, even if just in her memories.
Henry looks at his mother expectantly, knowing she holds the key to the story he wants to tell. His mom is right behind her and he is glad to see her smile slightly, even if the slight tug of her lips seems bittersweet. He looks up at his grandmother when he hears her gasp, her eyes widening at the sight of the drawing he had handed her.
She whispers when she looks up and her eyes slide from the paper to the two women on the bed and then back to Henry. He smiles at her and then brings his finger to his lips in an universal –even known in the Enchanted Forest, he is sure- gesture of secrecy.
When Emma complies and speaks of battling the dragon, losing the potion and Regina taking back the sleeping curse, it seems like the crowd it starting to put things together. She doesn’t know what it is like to have 2 lives stuck in your head, both of them true, but she can imagine it isn`t easy when they start to merge together. Some of them had seen Regina do it, but not registered what it was at the time. They seem restless, but not like they were before, when Emma had been quite sure they were going to lynch the woman they saw as their Evil Queen.
She talks and talks until her mouth goes dry, about her quest to end the curse, the Ruby-hilted dagger placed in wood instead of flesh, the smokey liquid coming out of Regina`s chest. She feels the attention of the people on her and finds she has some trouble not to stutter.
She has never been a great public speaker, her attempts in it always more carried by bravado than anything else. And only when her gaze wanders to the side and meet chocolate-brown eyes, does she feel the attention as something good. Something to be cherished. Something comforting.
She keeps on telling the story, -her focus now much more on the woman who is so close to her, and so beautiful it makes her heart ache with yearning- until she reaches the point where Whale had told her Regina was going to die.
Her voice breaks then, and she hears the voices around her mumble, some in exasperated shock, some in mocking cheer. She hears herself say something about not wanting Henry to lose his mother. And then, when she realized she had almost turned completely, and, in the absence of their son between them, had leaned much, much closer to Regina, she realizes what she can not tell… She quickly pulls back, ripping her eyes away from the warm, enchanting, brown orbs in front of her.
‘So I asked her to fight it. To break it… and well, she woke up and then, obviously, you guys did too.’
Regina swallows when the contact breaks, the steady wave of magic that connected them reduced to a string, pulling her heart. She tries to smile, but finds the muscles of her face have a hard time complying to her will.
Of course the savior could not admit to sharing a kiss with the Evil Queen. Especially not to these people who would know what that implied. Only TRUE LOVE’s kiss was strong enough to fight a spell like that.
They would probably attack their precious White Knight at the mere idea.
No, it was smart what Emma did, making the people believe what they would want to, not airing her dirty laundry in public, so to speak.
It was very royal.
And very heartbreaking.
Still, when Emma`s eyes had found hers, that inexplicable flutter of hope had risen again. The hope that, now, finds its way to the bottom of her heart, -or the pit of her stomach, she isn`t sure- where it lies heavily, clawing at her organs with every breath she takes.
So when Emma breaks the contact, right before she speaks the words that would have her worshippers believe the Evil Queen awoke herself, Regina figures she should be grateful that no-one gets to see the look on her face.
Rumplestiltskin, automatically, takes a step forward when he sees the lie etch on the Savior`s face and narrows his eyes. He sees the look of surprise shared between Snow White and her newly found grandson, and, he is quite certain of it, disappointment on Henry`s face. He is itched that his vision doesn`t allow him to see it. The truth behind the lie. The contents of the parchment. He feels like he is so close to figuring out why he draws a blank, but every time it approaches his consciousness he feels it slip away as water from cupped hands.
The step must come off as a threat because a spark of white magic shatters right before his feet, pushing him back.
He giggles, using his walking stick for support, as he sees the doubting faces of the commoners. He actually enjoys this part. Unraveling the prophecy he had thought to have figured out long ago. Everything finally coming together. He loves and hates the surprises his ability throws at him making his predictions unpredictable at best. He glances again at the Ruby-Hilted Dagger, which had not taken Regina`s heart. And then, a question jumps on him, and he lets it roll of his tongue before it gets a chance to escape his mind.
`Are you sure that is all you said, Dearie, right before you woke her up? Tell us, and listen to your son`s wise wise words, “don`t leave anything out this time”. What did you do, right before the curse was broken?’
Emma gasps, she can’t help but gasp, when she sees the golden glitter in his eyes. It is as if he knows. And when she feels the focus of the crowd again, making her skin prickle, she slowly closes her eyes.
Oh hell… She is going to have to embarrass herself completely.
She shoots -what she hopes is- an apologetic look in Regina`s direction. The ward has gone silent, as if everyone was holding their breath in expectation of her answer.
She contemplates lying, or simply leaving out the shameful details, but then she catches Henry`s eyes, and his trusting smile makes her sigh.
She has no choice, really.
She does it quickly, as if she is pulling of a band-aid, and cringes as soon as the words exit her mouth.
`I might have… Said-I-Loved-her-and-then-kissed-her.’
Regina`s outcry exits her mouth before she can stop it and the slight gesture the blonde makes, lifting her shoulders in some `well,-what-can-I-do’ sort of way infuriates and endears her at the same time. Doesn`t the woman have any idea what she just did?
`Well, Miss Swan, you`ve really done it now.’
She manages to utter the words, hoarsely, trembling.
Right before all Hell breaks loose.
‘What?’ ‘No WAY’ ‘It has to be Magic!’ ‘ Emma!’ ‘Way to go, Swan!’
–the latest one is weird but then again, Red had always been peculiar -
The words tumble out of people’s mouths, fighting to be heard and Snow jumps up, the parchment in her hand burning with the truth. She feels her husband, who has just screamed out their daughters name in disbelieve, stare at her with the same emotion as she climbs the empty bed and ushers for silence.
But her speech is interrupted before its start by heavy footsteps and a voice, crying out.
`I have it Henry! I have it, right here! The typewriter wrote it and I sewed it in its cover while my legs unfroze.’
Maybe it`s his outburst, or the sight of his wooden limbs –something they haven`t laid eyes upon for about 3 decades- that makes people stop and stare, part a path so he can reach the boy. But he doesn`t seem to notice or mind prying eyes. And he beams as he hands Henry a leather-bound book.
‘The tale of how the White Knight broke the curse, by means of true-love’s kiss.’
And as loud as the screams and protests were only moments before, these words evoke only a deafening silence…
Emma couldn`t tear her eyes away from the woman in the bed, who, even in her clear devastation, manages to look regal. She wants to reach out and take away the hands the woman had placed over her eyes, in an exhausted –or maybe exasperated?- but oh, so elegant movement. But she just can`t seem to move, for what seems like the longest moments, and stares. Then she starts to smile, the mental image of what Regina would say if she were to remove the other woman`s hands right now and would kiss her again. The lecture she would receive on public display of affection. Unwanted affection, no less…
Her smile freezes.
True love`s kiss!
They were crazy!
Or were they?
The silence suddenly is thick, unbearable, and she has to break it in order to breath.
`Listen, I know you don`t feel that way, ok, don`t sweat it. It was just… You were dying… And you`re like… Henry`s other mom… And… Oh, what the Hell. So I love you… Big fucking deal.’
Regina`s hand drops, and she tries, tries so hard to stop the words from slipping out, but she can`t.
She sees the blonde cringe and jerk back in response to the reprimanding tone and she immediately regrets it, wants to utter an apology.
But then, the meaning of the words sink in.
The blush and the smile she can not fight, rush up to her face with lightning`s speed. And she feels her tongue stumble over the words she had meant to utter and not can`t remember.
She loves her?
The Savior loves her?
Emma loves her?
She is knocked into realism when the blonde, clearly uncomfortable, makes an effort to stand, to increase the distance between them. And the act is impulsive. And rude. And utterly unmajestic.
And utterly unavoidable.
She grasps Emma`s wrist and pulls her back, her voice hoarse and thick with emotion.
`Wherever do you think you`re going?’
Emma looks down at the hand she feels around her wrist. The hand that should not be there. She should not be there.
It had never been her intention to make a fool out of herself in front of all these people, but life as Emma Swan has made her get very familiar with that feeling. Even less it had been her intention to make a fool out of this woman. The infuriating, proud, gorgeous and hurt woman.
But she feels the pull. On her wrist, in her heart, at her eyes.
She swallows, looking up into brown that holds a twinkle she has never seen before. Except, perhaps, captured in a drawing. It makes her inhale, shivery and the air seems to thicken, get stuck, and she finds herself unable to breathe.
She is not sure if it`s her lightheadedness, or if the silence surrounding them is real. But it is like nobody moves or even breaths when Regina pulls her nearer.
‘I think I have to stop you from uttering there profanities in front of our son.’
She chokes out a sound that, once, in another life, might have been a laugh. But it sounds and feels more like a sob.
She looks down, can`t stand the amusement in those gorgeous eyes, so much warmer than ever before. But a fingertip finds her chin and pulls up her face, before sliding up and allowing a palm to cover her cheek.
‘And I think I know just the way, dear.’
The sensation of the soft skin of Emma`s face against her fingertips, almost makes Regina`s heart burst. It is not just Magic, that flows through her now. She feels it. So clearly. And recognizes it although she has never sensed it this intensely before.
Now she gets why they call it the most powerful Magic of all.
She sees the insecurity in the eyes before her and wishes she had not resorted to the familiarity of her sarcasm. But maybe there are just no words to express what she wants, needs to say.
The turquoise eyes before her dartle, try to escape to look into hers, but then, as she cups the blonde’s cheek in her hand and pulls her closer, their gazes lock.
As in slow motion, Regina pulls the woman closer and whispers the word that has been on her lips since the first time they met. The word her heart screams. The word pulsates through her body. The name, that would, always, mean another 4-letter word to her.
Maybe it is more the hearing of her name than those magnetizing eyes, maybe it`s their combination, but something inside of Emma seems to shift. As if something, inside her, had been in the wrong position, and finally had found its home.
She was pretty sure it was her heart.
She thinks she opens her mouth to say something, but a soft caress of a thumb on her lips stops her from acting. Stops her from thinking.
‘Dear, dear Emma.’
Regina`s voice, so regal before in their reprimand, now sound vulnerable and tender as a tentative touch, and Emma feels its timbre echo through her veins.
Then, she feels the tug, the pull, the answer to the question her heart is screaming.
Regina can almost feel, taste the lips as she hovers before them, only a breath of air separating them from hers.
She feels the fear, the distress of never being good enough, the fear to let go of the walls around her heart. It has always been there and it probably always will.
But it seems…
Soothed somehow, by something similar she has seen in turquoise eyes.
Shared maybe with the anxiety flickering, like a shadow of her own, on the other woman`s face.
Her hand slides to the back of Emma`s neck and finally allowing her heart to overflow, the words drip from her lips, breaking, stumbling in their exit.
‘I love you too.’
Bridging the last sliver of distance between them, Regina presses her lips against Emma’s.
Her True Love.
The hesitance in the blonde’s kiss is short-lived, and when she feels the other woman open her mouth as well as her heart, Regina feels the Magic explode and pulse through them.
She feels the tear slide down her cheek, caught by fingers caressing her face and she smiles into Emma’s lips.
For now, she knows, she has finally found her destiny.
And she is home.
Did you think it was finished?
But there is something unresolved…
Yes, there they are
Storybrooke, hospital, the moment of a true love`s kiss.
Rumplestiltskin merely laughs, his eerie chuckle filling the air before his voice does.
`Well, that`s another way to take a heart, Dearies… You have to admit… Quite a turn of events…’
Snow White ignores him as she holds in her hands the unfolded parchment on which Henry had drawn the True-Love`s kiss that must have awoken the Queen. Her husband, the love of her life, who had even tried to find her while under the influence of a Dark Curse, lets his eyes flicker over it before they are pulled back to the scene before them.
She hands the drawing to Red and sees the crowd calm when the girl shows them the proof that this was meant-to-be. She feels a bittersweet smile creep up to her lips as she watches the two women kiss while Red reads the poem that is written underneath the picture.
The one to break, the one to cast
Will find each other at the last
A son`s trust and a Cupid`s sight
Will bring the Queen her true White Knight
She looks down at Henry, who beams up at her, his happiness melting away the last of her reservations.
She crouches down beside him and he follows her with his eyes, as if he knows the question that it coming.
‘But, how did you know?
She thought she had escaped the attention of the others and is startled slightly when she hears two voices behind her answer.
One is warm and gentle, soothing if you will, and filled with pride. The other high and eerie, and holds a slight edge of contempt as well as respect.
‘ He`s a cupid.’
Looking up at Rumplestiltskin and the Blue Fairy, Henry simply beams before putting his attention back to his moms.
He knew it.
True love would always win.