Chapter 19: Choosing my confessions, (trying to keep an eye on you) part 2
He walked around as if he was a predator in total dominance over its prey. And Emma guessed, considering her current position, she was the most defenseless one. Despite Regina, that was… She felt the nervous glances of the people around her but only had eyes for the woman who was tied up against the tree. Envy and relieve had fought for a first place in her heart as she’d watched how Tinker Bell attacked the vines. But then Pan had used the vision of Cora and Regina had whimpered and she had just felt everything go blurry. Her Magic, she sensed, was the only thing keeping her upright. It sparked and tingled under her skin, but when her fingertips casted their now familiar blue hue, also enveloping the sextant she was still clinging onto, the earth rumbled again.
‘No, no, no, Emma… Magic is emotion, but you really have to learn to control yours… How about a little incentive?’
With a snap of his fingers, pointy arrows dripping with a black substance she recognized as Dreamshade covered the inside of the cage. Giving her very little room to wiggle, and no place what so ever to hold onto to help her keep her balance, Emma suddenly felt exhaustion wash over her and she swayed, dangerously close to the poisonous arrow-tips.
‘Stop it! Stop!’
Regina’s voice was hoarse and broken, but in a different way than earlier, when Ariel had damaged it. It took Emma a while to figure out it was the tone, panicked and begging, she had never heard from the former Mayor. Not in this intensity.
‘I can’t make it stop, Regina, darling… But you… You and your little wingless friend here can… You see, Emma here was so… Giving when she spoke her secrets she allowed me to bond with her… To connect... She has an amazing amount of Magic, don’t you agree? Well… Of course you would… No surprises there, right? But it’s nice of her to share some, don’t you think?’
As she moved her feet to gain more balance, to get a better position so she could look into dark brown eyes, she almost slipped and the mocking gasp of Pan was accompanied by genuine ones.
‘Ok, Pan… What is it you want?’
Tinker Bell trembled slightly as she walked towards him, but her chin was pulled up, her shoulders drawn backwards and mossy green eyes spat fire. And even though Emma felt the heaviness in her chest she had now identified as jealousy, she also knew she was glad someone this fierce was fighting for Regina… Regina, whose eyes were glassy as they caught hers, as if she was looking at memories before something pulled her back into the here and now…
‘My, my Tink, you’ve always been one for action, haven’t you… I bet there is a lucky someone out there who can appreciate that… Oh, what? I never said your little secret was safe with me, now, did I? I am not Snow White, dear Fairy… I don’t go and pretend I will actually keep your secret before spilling it…’
Regina’s eyes jerked away from hers at those words, the pain so clearly visible, but there was also a hint of the rage, the fight, that had been missing in them, making Emma let out a breathe she hadn’t known she was holding. But, to her surprise, the glare was not directed at Snow, who silently swallowed at hearing Pan’s words, a tear making its way down her cheek, but at Pan, himself.
‘Isn’t it curious, Regina, or ironic if you will, that her darkest secret is that she wants another child… A little boy, I reckon… Maybe she will name it after her fath…’
The word came out with a force Emma didn’t know she had in her anymore, but the tears that were now freely rolling down Regina’s face made her want to lunge forward, poisoned arrows be damned.
‘Oh, look, it speaks…’
‘Let her go, you lunatic!’
‘That’s endearing… Here I have you, all caged up and so close to being killed…’
He slowly approached her then and flicked his wrists, allowing the arrows to nudge nearer to her as a way to emphasize his words.
‘And you worry about the Evil Queen…’
He spoke the words mockingly and with a little pout that made her nauseous. She wanted to scream, to rage, to kick the branches that held her in place. But all would be useless. As useless as she had always been. So instead she just tried to catch Regina’s eyes with her own, hoping that, one way or another, the brunette could feel her support.
‘Tink… A secret… Please…’
Her voice was hoarse, the vine around her throat still constricting and loosening in what seemed to be a random way, but she knew the boy in charge too well to believe that. She caught the eyes of the woman who had once been her friend and pleaded as she saw the poisoned weapons move closer to Emma’s skin.
‘I think we will do it a little differently this time, though… If you all don’t mind, of course… You see, Snow. These kind of things, -your little admission showed me as much-, sometimes just need a little guidance. So how about, Tink, you answer some questions? The rules are very simple. You tell the truth, you get rewarded. You lie, someone get’s punished… Easy, is it not?’
He circled the Fairy now, his new prey, his plaything. She recognized the look in his eye, the anticipation, the cold, cold fire of ruthlessness.
‘Oh, you can refuse to answer, but believe me, Fairy, you will only get so many chances… So, I guess it’s time to show us where your allegiances lay.’
Feeling the pull of Emma’s eyes, Regina could not fight the urge to look up, but as she found the turquoise, the rush of emotion that raged through her was so fierce and raw, it made her gasp. The exhaustion was painted in the blonde’s features, the worry etched into those caring eyes and the brunette felt it merge together, burn in her abdomen as her feelings for the other woman filled her up.
‘So, ready to start?’
Tink caught her eyes and swallowed. The plea in mossy green made the Fairy’s earlier words resound in her head and suddenly Regina felt the pending dread of what was coming rather then the threat of her current situation. Words, admissions and secrets had played such a grand part in her past. Had cut her, made her bleed her so many times. They held a power over her she wasn’t willing to show, but the trembling of her limbs in anticipation of her old friend’s revelation was impossible to hide.
‘Let’s focus on one of our guests of honor, shall we? What was your reason, Tinker Bell, to seek out Regina?’
‘I… I wanted her to bring me with her to Storybrooke. The person who once was my true love made a life there. I guess I just… I wanted to see if there is still a place for me in it.’
He raised his eyebrow, amused and huffed, bringing a chill to Regina’s spine, pushing the confusion the words were causing to the background momentarily. Of course it was logical the Fairy had had an ulterior motive in her approach, considering their history. So she pushed away the empty feeling in her abdomen and focused on the boy, who now smirked.
‘Oh, how romantic… Wanting to reconnect with your true love. But I actually meant, Tink, the first time…’
His smile broadened in a sickening way when he saw the Fairy’s glare and Regina closed her eyes for an instant, trying to ignore the tightness of the vines across her chest and limbs, trying to suppress the memories of hours and hours spent in this position, merely as part of one of her mother’s lessons. It was not so much the physical pain, or even the humiliation, but there was the complete lack of control, the inability to act, to strike back. The helplessness… That threw her back into a time where that was all she had been able to feel. A time where Tink had been a tiny light in a whole lot of darkness.
‘Tick-Tock, Tinker Bell. Why did you find Regina in the first place?’
The branch covering her throat tightened with a snap of his fingers and a gasp escaped her lips causing her to scold her own weakness.
‘I was on a quest for true love!’
The Fairy almost screamed the words, not angrily but desperately, and the constriction loosened slightly, allowing her to inhale. The answer had not come as a surprise, but she had heard the tone in Pan’s voice… What was his plan? Her vision was blurry and she found herself wishing she could see Emma’s eyes, knowing somehow that the turquoise would be so, so soothing…
A glimpse of insight caused Regina’s eyes to shoot open before she narrowed them again. Was the boy trying to get Tinker Bell to tell the story of the Pixie Dust? But then, Emma would… Emma would know… Would figure out… Ice filled her chest and water her eyes as she imagined the blonde’s reaction… How the turquoise would fill itself with shock, with disgust, with loathing.
The vine suffocating her dissolved instantly at Tink’s admission and she felt the cold night air fill her lungs.
Emma swallowed, her eyes narrowing as she watched the scene before her. Her focusing on the twitchy blonde Fairy in a way helped ground her. The dark, angry feeling swirling heavily in her abdomen, now giving up a spark to her chest as she heard Tink’s word.
‘Oh how deliciously selfish! But enlighten me, I’ve always heard Fairies are not supposed to find true love? How did you find yours?’
Mossy green eyes flashed.
‘Just because that is what people say, does not mean Fairies don’t love… I… I stole some Pi… Magic… to lead me to true love and that is how I found...’
Why the quick glance at Regina? What the hell was going on?
Again that jittery movement of the Fairy’s head, as if she wanted to look at Regina, but couldn’t quite make herself to. It kind of reminded her of high school, of stolen glances and… And…
No, it couldn’t be…
Searching for Regina’s eyes, she saw them pensively scanning the Fairy as well and the feeling clawing at her intestines intensified.
‘How you found…?’
The question-mark at the end of the sentence was clear, and suddenly Tink’s half finished sentence started to make sense…
No… No no no…
Her stomach contracted and she almost doubled over at the physical pain the answer, the pronoun, she already knew was coming, gave her.
‘Her… That’s how I found her…’
‘Your true love.’
Now it was Pan’s turn to glance at Regina, and Emma had to clench her fists to try and suppress her Magic… To try and suppress the fierce anger that wanted to rush forward and wipe that smirk of his face, the weakening fear that made her want to shut the Fairy up, the heavy sadness of knowing that, even if she had been free to do so, she had no right to and the overwhelming urge to SAVE the woman trapped in those vines…
But she was not the hero in this scenario…
Tinker Bell was…
‘Tell us about her? How did you get separated in the first place?’
‘I did something to spite her and she sent me away… She stopped… Believing in me. I lost my wings.’
Emma wanted to believe with all her heart that Regina’s gasp had to do with the release of the brunette’s hand, which immediately found a way to the red streaks covering the woman’s throat, but the strange, incredulous look the brown eyes cast in Tink’s direction after the Fairy had choked out the words, told her otherwise. It was like watching a car crash without being able to do anything in order to prevent it. Her chest felt empty, but strangely heavy in its emptiness.
‘Ahhh, poor, poor Tink. So it was all your fault?’
His tone was taunting, mocking and made Emma’s stomach want to drop its contents all over the cages floor. She bit her lip as she looked from Tink to Regina, seeing their eyes lock shortly before the Fairy averted hers.
‘Well… I… She… she did some terrible things, and I was trying to fix it, but I think, in a way, I only made it worse.’
Tink might have as well written Regina’s name in the sand and drawn a freaking heart around it.
Fuck, fuck, fuck!
The heavy emptiness in her chest swirled, extending to her fingertips. The lump in her throat coincided with the single tear that found its way down her cheek, and her heart thumped, defeated, in the rhythm of two words.
Too late… Too late… Too late…
She felt the corner of her lip pull up, smirking at the stupidity of that thought when she saw dark eyes focused on a Fairy…
Because “too late” indicated she would have stood a chance… And whatever made her think, Regina would have wanted her in the first place?
I lost my wings because of you.
The words, spoken to her in spite at her reunion with the Fairy, rang through her memory… This didn’t make sense. What was Tinker Bell getting at? She blushed, her free hand finding its way from her throat to her cheek, trying to hide the redness. A redness only there because she heard what this sounded like, and she knew what Tink’s words were implying. And she came to the same conclusion all over again. It just didn’t make any sense.
Pan merely raised his eyebrow and she felt how the vine started to make his way over the shoulder of her free arm again. The branch only halted at the moment Tink, quickly, obviously aware of the threat, started to speak again.
‘There was a deal… Rumplestiltskin was involved… I… If I could just break it, end it, then I thought everything would turn out alright. My true love would be able to redeem herself. The coldness in her heart would disappear and we could be together… I thought if I could just SAVE Regina from her fate, I could... fix… things… for…’
Hearing that her old friend had known about the deal felt like a bucket of icy water being emptied upon her. She had shivered, when she’d heard her name pass the Fairy’s lips, and the questions, so many of them began to tumble through her mind. All coming back to one.
And only then did she hear it, the mumbling and the muttering of the others, reminding her of other times of hearing people whisper behind her back. Something she had become so utterly aware of, after the time she had spent as Wilma in the village and with Snow in the woods. But, at this moment, the only response she cared for was the one of the woman who refused to meet her eyes. Emma looked pained, ashamed and the smirk painting her lips had a hint of disgust in it that made Regina’s heart plummet in her chest, the ache much more acute than the physical one she could so easily suppress and has spent a lifetime getting used to.
‘Didn’t quite work out that way, now, did it?’
He laughed coldly as he turned to her, his fiery eyes making her want to struggle once more. But she decided to save the little strength she had left to try and access her Magic later… Her Magic, the force of it when she had warded off the falling rocks still astonished her. And although she felt annoyed and flashes of anger towards Pan, other emotions, including the one she had charged her earlier enchantments with, seemed to cover the sharpness of her rage. Then, as he halted in front of her, she felt how he slowly freed her other hand, looking deeply into her eyes. The vines around her chest were now the only ones still holding her in place as he, almost gently, took her face in his hand, pulling her forward as if he was about to kiss her.
‘I can almost hear it, my sweet Regina, the question you are dying to ask… I bet they think they can too, but I’m not sure if they are truly listening… So why don’t you do the honors? But be careful… It’s the last question, so… Make it count!’
He pushed her away her with just one fingertip against her cheek, as if just touching her was something utterly revolting, and forced her to look at the expectant, curious and anxious faces of her travel companions. A pair of turquoise eyes still reluctant to meet hers. She swallowed away the disappointment that came with that observation and ignored the sharp pain in her chest as the vine surrounding it tugged her tighter against the tree with every aching heartbeat.
It was Snow’s soft voice that reached her, the small, encouraging, but sad smile visible in hazel eyes that made her find her own.
Allowing her eyes to finally meet the ones of Tinker Bell she felt the final words of the question roll of her tongue, her hands trembling in anticipation of the answer.
‘my Fairy Godmother?’
What the actual fuck?
A quick glance around assured that all of them, much like her, had expected a different question. Everyone, including Tink, but except for Pan who just stood there, his arms crossed, his eyebrow raised, in his signature arrogant stance. The Fairy merely stared at Regina and seemed to fall apart right before their eyes. Obviously there was a lot more to this than any of them thought, the question meaning something they couldn’t fully understand. The sadness that poured from the Fairy however, fell together with a wave, or maybe more of an undercurrent, of Magic she felt radiate from Regina as she finally looked up and allowed herself to take the woman in.
Her arms were now free, but hung, aimless, next to her body their only movement a slight tremble that would go unnoticed by most, as would the glitter of fear in those eyes. What answer was Regina expecting, and why was the question so damn important? Did the former Mayor already know the answer to the other question Pan had so obviously worked up to? Did she already know she was Tinker Bell’s true love?
‘I believe the lady asked a question, Fairy?’
The gasp was sharp and forced attention back to Regina, who was clenching her jaws and shutting her eyes, her hands now hovering over the restraints covering her chest. For a moment, when she saw the glow, Emma thought she was doing Magic, but then Pan’s sickening chuckle and the pained moan that escaped Regina’s lips made her realize what he was doing.
Regina groaned now, her hands in fists as she tried not to touch the scalding vines burning against her chest, and before Emma could call out she (Thank GOD) saw Tink’s eyes flicker and SEE…
The Fairy almost spat out the words and Regina’s eyes showed the shortest glimmer of relieve before she moved her head in such a way, shadows made it impossible for Emma to read her features. The glowing heat the blonde could almost feel across her own chest seemed to have faded, but the vines had not disappeared altogether. A fact, she saw, that was not lost on Tinker Bell either, who closed her eyes in defeat after she had glanced at Peter Pan’s knowing smile.
The words were nothing but a whisper, and maybe, if everyone hadn’t been so tuned in on the scene they would have missed them, as the Fairy added them like an afterthought.
‘My true love…’
As the words seeped in, it was like a ray of sunlight entered the cage, enlightening the darkness she hadn’t realized was suffocating her.
It wasn’t Regina… It wasn’t Regina…
But the tingling feeling, pulling up the corners of her lips, filling her heart with hope, turned quickly to nausea when she caught sight of the pain etched on Regina face.
The tree seemed to push her away, spit her out, unwanted and Regina stumbled to the ground, shortly remaining in a slumped position, her hands trembling against the humid earth.
The Blue Fairy… The Reverend Mother… Reul Ghorm…
She wanted to growl, wanted to be livid, wanted to want to tear something apart. But she could only feel the emptiness inside her, too weak to even pull herself up.
Her first instinct was to shrug the hand off of her shoulder, followed by the desire to give in and accept help, until she caught sight of the person offering.
‘Don’t touch me! Don’t even… Don’t come near me, you filthy little… MOTH!’
She used the words she had used before, and knew, just as she had known then, it would scare the Fairy away. But then she had still been able to put up the pretence that she was hurting Tinker Bell because there was no other way. That maybe, one day, she would be able to explain and make it up to her. She hadn’t known about Rumple’s deal yet, but she had been pulled back into reality by words, whispered in her ear. She had still thought the Fairy actually cared about her. In a way that had made it hurt more, what she’d had to do then, but right now, the disconnected feeling inside of her was more painful than any of the cruelties she could remember having been put through.
And now, now that there was no use pretending anymore, at last she accessed a sliver of the rage she was known for.
‘THAT is why you looked for me? That is why you befriended me? To SAVE HER?’
She felt the tears fill her eyes, but willed them not to fall, forced herself not to show the weakness that was surfacing so quickly. Seeping out of her as water would from cupped hands.
‘Well, I was going to save you in the process…’
The mumbled words, spoken in defense, gave her the strength to get up, and she automatically brushed off her clothes as she tried to find her pose, the regal one, the intimidating one, the one that had become second nature after so many years of practice. Or so she thought, because although she pushed forward, and saw Tinker Bell flinch slightly, her voice sounded hoarse and, despite the volume and power behind it, so incredibly hurt.
‘Oh that just makes it all right, then! And STILL that’s what you want? She is what you want? After knowing what she DID? SHE SOLD ME! She sold my…’
The words got stuck in her throat and formed a lump as she turned, now longer able to watch the Fairy she once had believed in. Air seemed to stifle in the air as her eyes fell on the cage in front of her…
The word echoed through her, as she felt the coldness of her actions, her thoughts. How could she even waste energy on this, while her son was being held, while Emma’s life was threatened? She lunged forward, the ache of missing Henry, of worry, dull but constant in her chest as it had been since the moment they had realized he was gone, flaring up in the process. The trembling of her hands increasing at the sight of the thick black poison so close to the blonde’s skin.
Their eyes met, only ever so shortly, but the shock in the turquoise, (probably due to her outburst to the Fairy who had just freed her from the tree’s imprisonment) hurt so much Regina immediately looked away again.
‘What do you want, Pan?’
‘You forgot for a moment, didn’t you, dear Regina? Always finding new ways to look self-absorbed, it’s a talent… Mommy dearest would have been so proud.’
‘Shut up and leave her alone!’
Emma’s voice pitched as she screamed the words to him, the vulnerability in them making Regina feel even worse about losing sight, even for the shortest moment, of Emma’s predicament while she had dealt with Tinker Bell. Emma, who must feel left and abandoned by everyone after the ordeal in the cave, a feeling that must have been only reinforced by Regina’s actions, and still the blonde was standing up for her.
He only shrugged and put his attention on her, taking slow, but deliberate steps in her direction. She forced herself to stay her ground, but the urge to retreat swirled in her abdomen, betraying her. He knew her so well, had said exactly the right words. And even though she knew he was manipulating her, the feeling inside of her was starting to take root. The knowledge that she had, yet again, taken the easiest road, as she had tried to avoid for so many years before, finally, giving in, and allow herself to become ‘The Evil Queen’.
‘Our Fairy is all wrung out, I think it’s your turn to spill some secrets… If you want the sextant, that is… The savior, well… I’ll throw her in the deal.’
She wanted to protest that this was not about the sextant, wanted to set him straight and correct the words that she knew would cut through the blonde’s heart, but she knew he would only use her weakness against her. So instead she settled on a glance into Emma’s eyes, hoping that hers could say what her words could not, before she focused on the boy in front of her again.
‘What do you want?’
She repeated, sharper now, her body language changing in the manner she was used to… Never again would she be in a position where she could be controlled, not if she could help it. So with a shift of her body, she was in his face instead of the other way around. He merely smiled unpleasantly, though.
‘How about the lives and loves of one Miss Regina Mills… I want to open up your heart, Regina, and show these people what’s inside. For someone who spent such a large portion of her life being called “Evil” there is an unexpected amount of… I can’t say “people”… Let’s make that “creatures”… in there. Poor Rocinante… Didn’t you kill him? But then again, you always killed for love, did you not? Maybe that’s an impulse you have to start to control, Regina dear…’
She gritted her teeth and merely looked at him, the urge to step forward and rip out his heart only comparable to one event in her life she never cared to relive. The passion and liveliness in her desire to kill scared her and fueled her at the same time.
‘Ohhh, you truly hate me, don’t you? It’s amazing to see the woman that sweet little girl has become. You are a magnificent creature, Your Majesty and you almost scare me. But don’t forget, there is a thin line between love and hate. You once loved me beyond almost anything, and I cherished that love, kept it in a very special place…’
He tapped his chest and winked, moving his eyebrows in a suggestive way that made her want to vomit.
‘There aren’t so many people you allowed yourself to love without hate meddling in somehow. I can only think of one, really. And you even doubt if that love is returned… Isn’t that sad? But then again, who could love such a dark, shriveled heart? Who could possibly care for the person you have allowed yourself to become?’
His taunting got to her in a way she would never have admitted to before. But this island, the way it played on her emotions, the Pixie-Dust’s path that had confirmed the feelings she had been trying to suppress for so long, the sensations rushing through her every time a certain Miss Emma Swan attacked her senses, changed everything. It had weakened the thick layer of varnish she had hidden under all these years and made it crack. She swallowed, unable to speak and help came from the most unexpected of sources.
‘Pan, I swear to the gods, I might be ‘good’, but if you hurt my daughter, if you harm… you will just see how Evil I can become. Get on with this!’
The warmth of Snow White’s presence as the woman stepped up behind her made Regina blink and smile wryly at the irony.
The boy threw up his hands in a mocking defeat and his eerie laugh filled the clearing once more.
‘Fine, fine… Question and answer, Regina, are you ready?’
After her short nod, he continued, and the nervous flutter in her chest started to radiate through her whole body.
‘Let’s start easy, shall we? The one whose love you never earned but desperately craved, even after you knew what they were capable of…’
The answer he was looking for came to her immediately and the rush of grieve, of loss tasted bitter on her tongue.
The slight sound of wood moving against wood made her glance back, and Emma’s slight smile as she saw the arrows pull back, allowing the blonde to breathe a little more freely, was enough of a reward.
‘Very good, Regina! You get the rules of this game… Let’s try another of the opposite side of the spectrum.’
The praising words she had longed to pass her mother’s lips for years now made her stomach wrench as Pan spoke them. But before she could think about the sudden bout of nausea, he already had resumed his speech.
‘The one you secretly hated for their weakness, their love for you never equal to their urge for self-preservation. It was the quest for a happy ending that persuading you to kill…?’
She closed her eyes as the tear made its way down her cheek as it had so many years ago, when she had shared a final embrace with the man Pan was now referring to. Her voice was hoarse as she answered.
The arrows pulled back until just the tips covered the inside of the cave when Regina choked out the 2 words. Emma trembled, the strength to stay in an upright position almost too much for her to handle. She had heard some stories of Regina’s life, of course, and someone, she couldn’t for the likes of her remember who, had once told her the former Queen had killed her father to enact the curse.
But to see the pain tensing up Regina’s features as she admitted to it was something else entirely. It made her inhale shivery and she wondered why she didn’t feel the disgust she saw etched on her father and Neal’s face. Maybe it was because she, in a weird way, related to the words the boy had used.
She knew all about hatred against someone who was self-preserving (Neal, but before him so many of her foster’parents’) and although she hadn’t gone as far as to have killed for it, she isn’t sure what she would have done if someone would have told her, at the high point of her rage, that that was her only chance of happiness.
Also, the tear trickling down the brunette’s cheek told her there was more to the story. She hadn’t lied, and Emma had the confidence she wouldn’t. Not with what was on the line, which was not so much her life but the chance to get their son home safe and sound. But something was left out, the blonde was quite sure of it.
‘The one who you considered leaving everything for, so enamored you wanted to abandon every responsibility, until you were harshly reminded of them. The one who gave you hope you could be worthy of happiness, but more importantly, of their love.’
Regina’s head shot up, her glare fixated on the boy who was goading her so successfully. Emma’s small window of focus shifted to Snow, who softly gasped and mumbled ‘Daniel’ under her breath, water filling hazel, down-casted eyes. The stable boy who had been Regina’s true love. Who she had been willing to give up a royal life for and who had been killed by Cora. And although she knew she would have been rebuffed in Regina’s classical, regal way, Emma found herself regretting she had never even asked to hear the former Mayor’s side of the story. She had just put pieces of the puzzle together, but had never taken the trouble to make sure she had all of them… She wasn’t sure why.
She only knew that Regina drew out emotions in her she had thought she lost the ability to feel long ago. Regina got to her in a way no one else could. She could make her feel angry, shamed, lost, found, protected, bare, empty and filled, sometimes separately and sometimes all at the same time.
Emma saw the trickle of red meandering down the side of Regina’s clenched fist at the same moment the spears start to slowly move in her direction again. It was more the vision of the blood than the arrow’s threat though that made her want to whisper the other woman’s name. But before she could do so she saw the brunette snap out of whatever memory had filled her, her dark eyes still pretty dazed.
‘Let me repeat: The one who you considered leaving everything for, so enamored you wanted to abandon every responsibility, until you were harshly reminded of them. The one who gave you hope you could be worthy of happiness, but more importantly, of their love.’
Regina blinked and swallowed, but it was the quick glance that made Emma aware of the answer before it was spoken, and she wondered how she could have been so blind. How she couldn’t have seen it before. She felt her heart halting in anticipation.
The poisoned arrow-tips disappeared only a split second before her free hand found the inside of the cage, her knees finally bucking, not under the weight of exhaustion, but under that of unrequited love.
Tink’s voice was soft and filled with sympathy as she tried to approach her, but, instinctively, Regina put up her hands. The Magic coursing through her was strong, and before she could even allow herself to think her actions through, the Fairy already was, forcefully, pushed back by the enchantment. Admitting to her crush (or maybe, if she was honest, more than that) on the blonde Fairy who had lightened up her life was even more embarrassing now that she knew the truth about the woman’s motives. It had hurt, immensely, when Tinker Bell had pointed out her ‘true love’ to her, an unknown man with a tattoo she had felt not compelled to meet, and she had found it impossible to empty her heart of the disappointment long enough to seek him out. But she hadn’t felt anything even close to the constant yearning she felt now, when it came to a certain blonde savior, which was damned near impossible to suppress. Not for the tattooed stranger nor for the Fairy who had guided her to him.
Pan laughed, heartily and shook his head at her actions, as if he was forgiving a young child for doing something wrong but oh-so-endearing. He still hiccoughed slightly while Hook helped Tinker Bell stand, Charming brushing the Neverland soil of her clothes. But then, he turned to her again, his eyebrow raised in its usual cocky manner.
‘Yes, there is a thin line between love and hate, but while there is one you only truly loved, there is also one you only truly hated. Your need to kill, laying deep inside you, was so overpowering it pushed every other desire to the background and was the root of a deal you never thought you would make.’
Ice filled her chest, tormenting the scalded skin covering it and she felt her eyes act on their own accord as they found Snow White, whose hand hovered over Emma’s only parted by the branches holding the blonde prisoner.
She saw the pixy-haired woman swallow as their eyes met, and couldn’t help but smirk when she saw the defeat in the hazel, the small smile. Because Snow thought she knew the answer… The woman never learned.
‘Say it Regina… I can handle it.’
She shook her head in disbelieve, hoping the quiver in her voice would go unnoticed.
‘I don’t think you can, dear. But I don’t believe I have much of a choice in the matter’
She turned back to Pan and knowing Snow is expecting to hear her own name, spoke the one that held the truth.
The wood Emma was holding onto shifted with a rushing sound, smelling like his Magic. The branches and vines untangled under her fingertips, causing her to draw back, but even though they created larger openings she knew she wouldn’t be able to wiggle herself, or even just the sextant, through them. Her mother’s hand reached for hers through one of the gaps, and Emma saw hurt flicker shortly on pixie-like features when she hesitated to take it.
She heard the mumbled responses around her, and fought the urge to scream out to them, to show all of them they were supporting the wrong person, as they, tentatively, approached the cage. Almost all the answers Regina had given had been unexpected. The former Mayor was opening up her soul, connecting with the Devil that was Pan, only to save her. And still people gasped, shocked about her revelations, still they saw her, not as Regina, self-sacrificing, caring Regina, but as the Evil Queen. Still they saw her, not as Emma, blundering, simple Emma, but as the savior.
Their visions and versions of black and white, of good and evil would never coexist with her own.
It were the dark brown eyes that pushed her, the pointed look to Snow’s offered hand that made her take it, allowing her mother to cling onto hers. She wasn’t sure if she was getting comfort or giving it, but then as Regina looked away and she found herself staring into Mary Margaret’s eyes, feeling the warmth of their grazing fingers, she thought maybe it was both, or maybe it didn’t even matter…
‘Then, for the final price. Regina… Listen carefully.’
The thrill in his voice was like a cold hand enveloping her heart (a feeling she was not unfamiliar with, thanks to the late Cora Mills) and she found her fingers slipping out of Snow’s just to cling onto the strong branches separating her from the woman who looked like she was about to collapse. The only one, besides Henry, she actually wanted to be a savior for, simply because the woman never asked.
‘The one who wormed their way into your heart instantly, always flaming in the background, always the reason for every decision you’ve taken since then. The one you can’t help but care for, despite the weakness it brings, for their initial, unwavering love was like water for your parched soul.’
Henry… The answer echoed through her and she saw it reflected in Snow’s eyes, lighting up. But Pan would not make the final question so easy, and as she saw the determent glint in her mother’s features, when she saw her turn around, ready to throw, scream the answer in the boy’s face and freeing her daughter, she wanted to grasp her, stop her. But something, someone else already did.
The moment she heard his description she had known, but the answer was caught in her throat, refused to leave her trembling lips. She glanced behind her and the sight made her heart jump up, the pixie haired woman’s intentions much too clear.
She shouted the warning before she could even ponder its consequences. She felt lightheaded, her heart pounding heavier than she had even thought possible.
The woman stopped in her tracks at the reprimand, and Regina realized and resigned in what was happening the moment the name passed her lips. She didn’t need Pan’s slow, mocking clap, indicating she had done well. She didn’t need the gasp of the woman whose name she had just uttered to see it. She didn’t need the wave of Magic, hitting them strongly, (and she is glad she managed, somehow, to remain upright) to lunge forward.
Because she already knew.
She had spoken the truth.
And Emma was free.
And as she caught the blonde in her arms, the savior’s legs finally giving up on her, she also knew that that was all she needed.
She needed Emma to save Henry.
The next thought came unbidden and unexpected, but its truth resonated through her heart as she felt the way the woman fitted in her arms.
She needed Emma.