Lily appears on the porch right on time, listens to all of her instructions about feeding little Robyn, then holds her while Zelena checks the maternity spell. It’s easy enough, she has Regina’s blood, after all, and of course they’re related. She has to use Lily’s magic to power it, but it’s easy enough. Would be easier with her own magic, but that’s over for her.
Lily takes it better than she expected. She cuddles Robyn, her cousin, her family, and buries her face in her fluffy curls. "Well, fuck."
Zelena passes her a drink. They finish a few fingers of the bottle of whiskey, share dinner, and then she leaves Lily and the baby in front of the telly.
She has a visit to make. Her sister should know she's a mother, after all, and it seems even Maleficent, the wise and ancient dragon, (just how old is she, really?) had no idea that Regina could spark a child in her. And was willing to let Lily think she couldn't keep track of her lovers. Why is that? Different kinds of dragon morality? Does that mean she'll cheat on Regina? Break her heart again? How did they break up the first time? Who did the leaving?
Parking neatly in Regina's driveway, she notices the Mercedes, but Maleficent, of course, has no car. She still has magic.
She ponders all of that, growing crosser by the moment while she waits for someone, anyone, to answer the door.
"Hey." It's Henry, rucksack and bicycle helmet by his feet. "Sorry, Mom's still really sick and Mal's with her. You want to come in?"
"Heading to Emma's?"
"Yeah, Mom was getting better, but her fever's back and she's worried the antibiotics might not be working. Mal can't get it and I can so I'm--"
"Going to Emma's." He shakes his head and smiles a little. "Banished for my own good."
"Is she up to company, your mother?" She lets herself into the foyer.
"I don't know if she's awake." He tilts his head towards the living room. "She crashed hard after yesterday. Mom's stubborn, but it's hitting her really hard. Mal didn't want her to go."
"Of course not." Seems the dragon has a little sense, and of course Regina doesn't listen.
"But you know how she is."
"I think Mom just really wanted to be better." Henry sets down his bag and walks her towards the living room. "But you can't rush healing, even when you want to."
She nods to him, folding her hands. "No, antibiotics take time, they're not magic."
Henry pauses, looking at her with very gentle concern. His voice softens, quite charming, really. "She's really tired."
"I'll be gentle."
In the living room, she doesn't even notice her sister at first. Maleficent's there, sprawled on the sofa and she could be watching gazelle wander the plains alone, but Regina is there, curled up into her, beneath a blanket.
She's seen her sister get thrown around like a rag doll, crash into rock walls and get back up. Hell, Zelena threw her through the clock tower herself. This is nothing, a little bacterial invasion, but she's down for the count.
The dragon looks up lazily, moving her head as if she's guarding the unconscious form next to her.
"I don't think Regina's up to talking."
"I came to see you."
Maleficent runs her fingers through Regina's hair, dancing through over her scalp. Possessive? Is she demonstrating what is hers? Zelena stiffens, Regina is her sister and this dragon can't just hoard her.
Yet Regina sighs, settles more comfortably into Mal's lap. The touch eases her. It's for her, this meddling with her hair.
"Well then." Maleficent raises an eyebrow. "Would you like to sit? I can offer you some tea. Maybe something stronger."
Where is she meant to sit? On the coffee table? In the chair near Maleficent's arm? The dragon lifts the remote and pauses whatever she's watching. A lion yawns lazily at the camera.
"How is she?"
"Her fever's returned today." The dragon rests her hand on Regina's cheek, and there's a gentleness there Zelena did not expect. "She pushed too hard. Had to be better."
"Sounds like her."
Maleficent continues to stroke her cheek, running talons through Regina's hair. "She cares much for this town."
Regina stirs, and Zelena braces for an argument, instead there's a whimper.
"It's all right," Mal murmurs down, resting her hand on Regina's cheek. "You're safe."
"She's that sick?"
"Magic changes you, makes you burn hotter, heal faster." Mal looks up, soft and curious. "I'm sure you've discovered this. You can take a beating an ordinary person couldn't, but there are some diseases that hit you harder."
Zelena reluctantly sits on the coffee table, trying to get a better look at her sister's face. She looks wretched, too pink, but wan at the same time. "And the antibiotics aren't helping?"
"They did." Maleficent shrugs, her hand still running over Regina's hair. "Then they didn't. She either needs a different kind or simply to rest. Actually rest, not drag herself back to her office."
"Lily said it was bad."
Maleficent tilts her head, smiling a little. It's that soft, indulgent smile that gets to her. She loves that angry young woman in a way that dredges up old jealousy. Lily's mother loves her, her mothers will love her. Does she understand how precious that is? "She brought us lunch. Regina could barely stand up."
"Didn't want to tell you though, did she?"
"Of course not." Maleficent rolls her eyes, but it's fond. Soft even. How is she this squishy? Where is her bite?
"What did you do? Pick her up and take her home?" That seems like the kind of thing a dragon would do, scoop her sister up, force her home for her own good.
"I helped her see reason. I did not have to kidnap her."
"Well that's good, at least. You didn't manhandle her."
Maleficent studies her, then speaks with caution. "I can assure you, my presence here is something your sister wanted."
Zelena rolls her eyes. "Fine. Regina wants you. Probably just because you're warm and you can't catch tonsillitis like everyone else."
"Oh I'm aware, why do you think the baby stayed home?"
"Is she all right?"
"She's with your daughter, she'd better be."
Maleficent smiles again. Such a pushover for her daughter. Zelena wants to hate that, hate her, but it's nice to see a mother be that involved. She's not jealous, of course. She wouldn't be. "Lily's watching your little one?"
"She's good with the munchkin. My daughter's a very calm creature, and she seems to like yours." Which will be important, since it seems they're family. Zelena glances down at her hands, then across at her sister. Regina's eyes keep moving beneath her eyelids. "She doesn't sleep well."
"She gets delirious. Thinks she's somewhere else, with someone else." Maleficent sits up a little, grabbing her mug of tea. "It was the worst the first night before her fever broke, but it's returned and I--"
"Did you try licorice root? Yarrow? She's taking the antibiotics?"
Maleficent shifts her head towards the tea beside her. "She drank some of this before she fell asleep."
Zelena rocks forward, resting her hands on the sofa. Leaning close, she touches her sister's forehead and pulls back her hand. "She is warm."
"Those with magic burn hot."
Zelena doesn't quite trust Maleficent's interpretation of hot, because she must be biased what with being a dragon. "If my daughter was that hot I'd have her in a hospital."
"Regina's hardly a little girl."
That nearly wakes her sister and she stirs, whimpering again. Her fever dreams must be unpleasant.
Maleficent leans down, whispers close and gentle. "She's not here. Cora has gone away."
Regina's afraid, she tenses just at the mention of their mother's name and it takes a few moments for even Maleficent to calm her.
"She thinks Cora is here?"
"Your mother was often sharp with her when she was ill." Maleficent strokes Regina's hair again, and as much as Zelena wants to bristle at the gesture, Regina likes it. Regina likes this dragon because she settles when she's touched. "If she hears Cora's gone, she settles."
"She's very gone." Zelena watches Maleficent's fingers on Regina's forehead, all gentle. Is her sister aware of this softness? Does she need it? "I suppose reminding her that dear old mum is dead doesn't help?"
"It doesn't get through." Maleficent shrugs. How human of her. Does she shrug in her other form? Raise those shoulders and, what, the wings? That's actually rather intriguing to imagine. "Cora being away she understands, so I say that."
"You just sit here, watching television and telling my sister our mother is away on holiday?"
The dragon tilts her head. "I make tea. Henry's taught me to make jello."
"So a teenager's giving you cooking advice?" Her scorn doesn't land as well as it should. Maleficent's still calm, stroking Regina's head. How smitten is this beast?
"Lily brings us take out when it's too much, otherwise yes, Henry is very competent in the kitchen."
Tentative, Zelena reaches out, following the dragon's fingers down her sister's hair. "And you're happy? Looking after her."
"Why wouldn't I be happy to look after her?"
"I happen to greatly enjoy the offerings of Regina's Netflix."
"Which you could watch at home."
Maleficent shrugs. "Perhaps."
Brushing her hand against Regina's forehead, she startles. Regina's fever is high, her skin dry and scorching. "She's so warm."
"It'll break tonight."
"This is why I stay," she says, her voice firm and steady. "Whatever this is, this infection runs hot and I-"
"Worry about my sister."
"And Henry shouldn't have to deal with this."
"He is wonderful, dear."
"I'm sure he is, he's a great kid, but he shouldn't have to deal with his delirious mother."
Maleficent takes her hand and squeezes it. "Which is also why I stay." She kisses Regina's hot little forehead and that alone is so tender Zelena's heart aches. This is how they made a baby, all of this sappy affection had to go somewhere.
"So our mother bothers her? That's what she dreams about?" She shouldn't be surprised, Regina's always so hard on their mother. At least she knew her.
Regina stirs, whimpering again and the way Mal nuzzles her forehead, calming her, isn't quite human, it's more like a cat, but Regina's stills again, falling back into her fever dreams.
"And she went to the office."
"She wasn't this bad in the morning. Her fever didn't come back until lunch."
"And then it hit her like a house falling from the sky."
Maleficent looks at her blankly. Of course she won't get the reference. She knows less about this world than practically anyone. "If you'd seen a few more movies, that would be really funny."
Her sister's eyes flutter, and she shifts in Maleficent's arms, opening her eyes for a moment. At first she can't focus and Zelena's heart pounds because people died of fevers in the old world, she watched them. "Zelena?"
"You'll get sick." Regina starts to sit up, but it's takes so much effort that Zelena stops her.
"Don't sit up."
Her eyes swim again, losing focus before she really sees her. "You should go."
"Go?" She laughs a little. So protective.
"You'll catch it."
"Shhh..." Zelena sits back, because that seems to be the only way to calm Regina. "I'll go. I just wanted to make sure you were all right."
"Mal's here." The way she says it, all soft and unfocused, like Maleficent is in the other room, tugs at Zelena's heart.
Zelena smirks at the dragon over Regina's head. "She is?"
Maleficent is literally sitting behind her, Regina's head is in her lap, but she seems utterly unaware.
"She's been here the whole time."
"Oh she has?"
Regina's eyes close, and this little period of wakefulness is fading back into delirium. "I think she loves me."
Raising an eyebrow, Zelena looks up, meeting the dragon's eyes. "She does?"
Regina only hums, making a soft sound before she fades again. She's asleep, back down in the blackness.
"She's been very ill today," Maleficent offers, as if trying to soften Regina's confession on her behalf.
"Out of her mind," Zelena adds, eyebrows still high in surprise. "So delirious that she thinks you love her. Funny that it hasn't been said while she's awake."
"How do you know that?"
"I know my sister."
Is she posturing, this dragon? Reminding Zelena that she would claim Regina as her family too? Or is this something softer?
"Declarations of affection are something she wouldn't be able to hide from you?"
Crossing her arms over her chest, Zelena lifts her chin. "She loves with her whole heart."
Maleficent's smile has a reptilian warmth. "And I don't know that?"
"If you do, then you know what it means, how important that is."
"To her." Zelena tilts her head down. "She's lost so much." She made that worse. She hurt Robin, and then there was that whole mess with Hades, and he was gone. Maybe a dragon can live better, she's already come back from the dead, so perhaps this time, they'll do better. Regina can be happy with her little family, son and still unknown daughter.
"She won't lose me."
"You can't promise that."
"She hasn't yet, dear," Maleficent promises that with as much certainty as someone could have in this dangerous little town of fairy tales and curses.
"I suppose that's a start."
"I'd like it to be."
And this fits, this feverish cuddling, this dragon curled around her sister. She's in love. Zelena came to tell them both about Lily, to watch the surprise fly across their faces as they discovered how surprising magic can be, but it's not the time. Not yet. It seems the dragon is going nowhere, so there's plenty of time to spring this on them.
"Then I can trust you to look after her? See her to bed, bring her to the doctor if her fever remains high?"
Maleficent waves her hand gently. "Of course."
"I didn't realize it was this bad."
"Neither did she."
Zelena stands, ready to leave them to their telly and shared body heat. To her surprise, Maleficent stands as well, lifting her sister into her arms, easily, as if she weighs little more than Robin.
"Oh, wouldn't it be easier with magic?"
"Perhaps, but sometimes that reminds her-"
"And that's to be avoided."
"It's an old pain."
"Those sting the most." Is that how they met? Regina running away from their mother? Perhaps she'll find out. It seems the dragon is staying. "Thank you."
"For looking after her?"
Zelena follows, fascinated by the softness of the two of them. "Amongst other things."
Maleficent carries her sister to the stairs, seeing her out, while Regina sleeps in her arms. "Zelena?" She pauses, her feet at the stairs. "I do love her."
"Good." She smiles back at them both and shakes her head. "I think it'll be good fr both of you."
"Dragons are also fiercely protective of their families."
"So you don't blame me, Maleficent?" She rests her hand on the knob and looks back.
"I include you, dear, and call me Mal. Henry does." With that, she heads up the stairs, trusting Zelena to see herself out. "Goodnight."
"Goodnight." She rushes through the door, shutting it behind her and catching her breath. Her sister's in love, the dragon's in love and they have a daughter. Zelena will have to tell them, but later, later when Regina can stand up enough to go weak in the knees. A child should be a happy thing, even if it's many years late and quite unexpected. She wraps her hands together and walks towards the car.
They've waited this long, they can wait a few more days. Regina deserves to learn of her daughter when she's conscious of the fact she has one.