Chapter 17: Your presence still lingers here
The smell of him, the heaviness of him on top of her drifts in and out of her reality. Sometimes he simply is another, someone unknown, without a face. Never Daniel, she can’t taint the memory of Daniel with this. Just not him. Sometimes it is she who is another. In her mind always in control. Not this powerless sensation, not this submission she has been forced into. Never again. She dreams away and is pulled back, time and time again. The words whispered in her ears altering from sweet imagined nothings to the real ones that haunt her in her darkest dreams…
A wet cloth was draped around her forehead in a far too familiar way. Regina wanted to swat at it, the touch of the woman she knew to be taking care of her too unbearable, now more than ever. But as she tried to move, she felt the weight of her muscles wearing her down. She heard the moan and pondered it before realizing the sound came from her and it took an amazing effort to open her eyes.
She had to clear her throat and repeat the name for it to come out audible and acknowledge the woman hovering over her. The Princess at least had the sensibility of mind to retract her caring hands, freeing Regina of the torment of touch after her horrifying glimpse of her own past. Nausea clawed at her stomach and she felt the panic raging in her eyes, not able to sum up enough power, Magic or anger to suppress it. It was not until she heard the voice she felt it flicker and diminish, the agonizing feeling of wanting to crawl out of her own skin reduced to the more bearable variant she had learned to live with.
As she began to take in more of her surroundings, however, another sort of panic started to arise. However had they managed to move her this far? The entrance of the cave came into view as she tried to sit up, Emma’s unruly, curly locks surrounding her like a halo as the woman crouched beside her. She wasn’t sure which of the two sights was more responsible for her palpitations.
‘How did I get here?’
Although she had managed to put a small amount of dignity in her voice, it was nowhere near the demand she had meant to utter, trying to erect the walls around her heart that were crumbling so much faster than she could build.
Gods, why couldn’t Henry have been kidnapped to another realm?
Andalusia? Even the Enchanted Forest or Wonderland, now that it was no longer ruled by her mother, would have been preferable over this cursed land, where memories ran as wild as imagination and she was haunted by shadows of her past.
Emma saw the chocolate brown eyes of her son’s other mother slip in and out of focus, the dilating pupils drawing her in as if she would be able to see the woman’s memories if she would just dive in deep enough.
The question was one that threw her off, as it had happened in a haze and she had found herself working together with a woman she still in the strangest way, wanted to strangle.
‘Tink and I kind of… Erm… carried you.’
Charming had offered, as had Hook. Her mother simply had thrown her a knowing look she didn’t understand as she rebuffed all but the Fairy’s help. She wasn’t sure why she had let the firefly anywhere near Regina, but she thought it had something to do with what Snow had muttered. That that was what the former Queen would want. She had even wanted to step back, even though the emptiness in the pit of her stomach had churned at that thought, but when Tinker Bell had contemplated using Magic to bring Regina to their destiny, she had rushed forward and put her foot down.
Not while Regina couldn’t give her consent.
The question, laced with an odd kind of insecurity that came close to panic, made her think Regina followed the path of her own thoughts.
‘We didn’t use Magic… I didn’t want to… erm…’
Making some sort of weird gesture that could have meant anything, for a split second Emma felt foolish, but then she saw the understanding and relieve in those amazing eyes.
‘That was very considerate of your part.’
She almost smiled and shook her head at the clipped, strangled way the words came out, waving away the awkwardly expressed gratitude. No matter how bad the former Queen was at giving a simple ‘Thanks’, it made Emma feel bad about the physical and emotional reactions she had had, feeling the woman so close to her as she had carried her.
‘Thank you… Emma.’
The apology lay in the use of the name as well as the eyes, and if she had felt guilty before, those brown depts, looking up at her, made her cringe in realization of the insulting words she had spoken to the other woman.
Regina saw it in the light eyes, the understanding of the words she couldn’t speak and swallowed away the tears that seemed to build up in the back of her throat when she saw the similar sentiment returned to her.
She held up her hand, not needing to hear the words, and shouldn’t have been as surprised as she was when she felt the soft warmth envelop her forearm. The Magic the gentle touch of Emma trying to help her up evoked, sizzling in the silence. She heard a gasp, and was quite certain it was Snow’s, but couldn’t get herself to care very much as her vision started to blur again. Grasping the blonde’s other forearm, Regina stumbled, cursing her clumsiness and lightheadedness as she felt the savior lounge her body forward and catch her.
‘Woaaa, easy there, tiger.’
‘I don’t roar, dear, I bite.’
Regina blinked and clenched her teeth together in an attempt to remain upright without support, she felt energy fill her and looked up in surprise, her focus refound, to catch the normally turquoise eyes before her lit up in the brightest blue she had ever seen.
It was magnificent.
Realizing she had done Magic without meaning to, the blonde let go of her a little too sudden, allowing her to disgracefully search for her footing once more. But the strength Emma had so selflessly shared with her still rushed through her veins.
‘Your tendency to link those words has gotten us in trouble before, dear.’
The grimace adorning the Saviors face, both shameful and filled with a childlike joy, made sure Emma knew what she had been referring to. Blonde threshes lit up in moonlight and moved slightly in the wind as the woman shook her head and swatted at her hand.
‘Are we going to do this, or what?’
Neal, his hands in his pockets, looked like a petulant child as he suspiciously eyed the entrance of the cave. But, to her surprise, Emma felt the woman beside her cringe and saw Hook look away, a grimace on his face. Tink, who just had entered the clearing and now smiled in Regina’s direction a little less brightly than she had before, was actually trembling.
‘Jezus, are there Magical wild animals in there for us to battle or something? What’s with these caves, anyway?’
As Hook, started to explain, his natural bravado nowhere to be found, about secrets and their echoes, Emma began to feel how the air deflated from her lungs.
‘You are forgetting something, Killian…’
The unusual sound of Hook’s name made her blink as she saw Tinker Bell tightly smile at the pirate. God, did the Firefly have a history with everyone? Not that it bothered her that she seemed to know Hook. Hell, maybe she could convince the Fairy to turn to him for some Magical Fairylike ‘charging’ affection instead of to Regina.
‘Am I, love?’
‘The caves of course hold their own kind of Magic. Pan’s Magic. He would never allow us all in.’
‘What do you mean?’
Snow’s voice sounded strong, no sound of hesitation in them as if the idea of giving up her darkest secret had no effect on her what so ever.
‘She means, dear, that Pan will have found a way to balance out the amount of magic that can enter the cave.’
Regina sounded steady as well, only the glimpse of fear Emma caught in those dark eyes betraying the brunette, before the emotion was expertly hidden.
‘Non-magical creatures like yourself, no offence, should have no problem entering. But Regina, Emma and me, we might pose a threat to him, especially together. He would only allow one of us in there.’
‘Which should be me!’
Her voice merged together with that of a certain brunette and Regina’s head snapped in her direction.
‘No offense, Madame Mayor…’
Regina pressed out a haughty laugh, which somehow seemed to cost her more trouble than usual.
‘Oh, dear. Are you going to admire my ability to sit in an office chair again? Your physical strength so superior… You Tarzan? Yes?’
Dark eyes flickered with hint of amusement and Emma found herself remembering that day she had rescued Henry from the mines. The intensity in those eyes then, when Regina had stepped closer to her, had made her hands tingle in a strange desire she had not allowed herself to think about. Now, as the brunette mimicked that old movement, Emma felt the same, but in thousand-fold and it didn’t surprise her that she knew, now, exactly what she wanted to do.
Her eyes dropped to the woman’s full lips in front of her and she swallowed, her throat suddenly dry, her hand trembling with suppressed longing to slide in Regina’s neck and pull her closer.
‘Well in this case, Emma, I think Magical maturity might have a slight advantage. You don’t know these caves, dear and you don’t know Pan. I know both. I think, this time, it’s me…’
Tinker Bell’s voice was laced with anger and fear as the Fairy made her way towards her with a sudden determination.
‘You can’t go in there, Regina. Your secrets… They are worth too much to him.’
‘I am not going to le…’
Regina’s head snapped in her old friends direction and she felt her eyes narrow as she took the Fairy in. How could this woman know how much her secret were worth? To anyone? What kind of game was she playing? The former Queen clenched her teeth together, mentally reprimanding herself for once again trusting a Fairy. She should have known better. She did know better, ever since the day Rumple had muttered those damned words in her ear.
Oh dearie, but you HAD a Fairy Godmother… Never wondered why she didn’t rush to your aid? Run to you for help when you asked for it? Never wondered, Dearie, why YOU couldn’t make a wish? So soft… so loving… So talented… Yes, Dearie, it’s too bad I can’t hurt the Fairies, but you are still the best deal I have ever made…
It was as if Tink saw her mind work, because she approached now more cautiously, as one would a wounded predator. Pan’s words, once spoken to her in a soothing way, now resounded in her head, trying to grasp a hold of the slow process her thoughts were making.
Secrets mean everything, Regina. With every one we share, the connection to those we give them to becomes stronger. Connect with me, Regina. You are the key. You will solve everything.
But how did Tinker Bell know of her connection with Pan? She had never told the Fairy anything of the lank, shadowy boy who had betrayed her. Had Pan told her? Were they working together? And most important of all, could it be? Had Tinker Bell once been her Fairy Godmother?
Snow always had had a way of bending her voice into an annoying whine, but this time Regina only felt she wanted to join in, when she felt the rush of Magic wash over the clearing and saw the blonde stand in the entrance of the cave.
Even before Regina had the chance to respond, Tinker Bell lunged forward and tried to brush passed the Savior, trying to pull Emma back over the threshold, only to be flung back violently by the Magical seal that had covered the stone entry.
‘Oh, Emma, you stupid idiot!’
Emma’s voice sounded strange, distorted by the Magic shield that now separated them.
‘Just, let me do this, ok? I’m going to get that thing, I dunno why, but I have the feeling Pan wants it to be me in here. And it’s ok. I’ve got some secrets to spare for our kid.’
The wink was playful if not a little anxious and the urge to reach out and cup the woman’s cheek in a reassuring manner was almost too much. Regina nodded, unable to speak the words lodged in her throat. Not because she was cursed, this time, but because she was too emotional.
She was brushed aside as the Pirate made it passed her, once again able to do what Regina could not and joining the blonde inside the caves. She averted her eyes before she could see his hovering hand meet the blonde’s upper arm and turned away as she heard the swift sounds of more people passing through the Magical Border, cursing, for the first time since she entered Neverland, her Magic.
She almost jumped when the hand covers hers.
‘I’ll get her back safe…’
Hazel emotion-filled eyes, so confusing, found hers and reassuringly squeezed, together with the fingers enveloping hers.
‘She’s going to be ok, Regina. You wouldn’t think I’d let anything happen to my daughter now, would you?’
‘I have no idea what you’re talking about, Snow?’
The woman merely giggled while she let go, her stance and the fierceness in her eyes every bit the woman who had taken over the kingdom.
‘I’m not stupid, Regina. Do you think really think I wouldn’t figure out what Pixie Dust does?’
And with those words and a tight smile that was impossible to read, Snow White made her way into the caves to once again spill a secret. Leaving Regina with a pounding heart and the mere hope that this time, it wouldn’t be hers…