With rage fueling her actions, Regina managed to get a hold of the poisonous apple she had once used to curse Snow White. Like mother like daughter.
She had sacrificed her ring, the ring Daniel had given her, using the last remains of magic to make that damn hat work. It really was delightful to feel the vibrations of magic running across her skin again, reminding her of things long past. But the bitter taste of anger had soon overtaken her emotions again and in no time Regina found herself standing in the kitchen of her house, staring at the steaming apple turnover, fresh out of the oven.
It would banish the Savior from her life. One bite and the only threat to her curse would be gone. Balling her hands into fists she hissed. Without her picking up on it the Savior had wriggled her way into Regina’s life, deceitfully and spitefully. And she had unknowingly let her in, not realizing that she was opening the doors to the enemy. But that would have an end now. It was time to prove that no one could beat her, not in her own game.
And yet there were doubts, somewhere deep inside of her. Emma didn’t know that she was the Savior, or did she?
Was Gold really telling the truth? Did it matter?
Of course he would be so sadistic as to bring her the child of the Savior to raise as her own son, only to have the satisfaction of seeing her losing him and everything else in the end. But it was too great a risk. She needed to make sure that her curse remained, no matter the cost. So what would another destroyed life mean to her? She had taken so many already to ensure that the curse worked.
It would be so easy, just offering the apple turnover to Emma. She would eat it willingly, and with no prince nearby to bestow the kiss of true love upon her, she would sleep for all eternity. Of course Henry would be sad at first, but she could handle that, sadness was something she understood. And after a couple of years he would get over it, forgetting about the woman who had given birth to him.
And although her head was telling her to just get over with it and move on with her life as if nothing had happened, she couldn’t bring herself to move. She stood there, both hands on the kitchen counter, staring down at the apple turnover.
Was this hesitation reason enough to reject the plan?
“So this is what you’ve cooked up with that special apple of yours.”
Regina spun around, glaring at the intruder in her kitchen. “What do you want?!”
Jefferson cocked his head to the side and raised the gun he was holding to his temple. He tapped the head of the barrel against it. “I think you know exactly what I want.”
“I know what you said! And I also know what you didn’t say! You’re never going to make good on your word, you never did.”
He narrowed his eyes and pointed the gun at her. “And now I think it is time for my revenge.”
Regina smirked, putting one hand on her hip. “You’re not going to do it. I think we’ve already established that.”
“Your Majesty, I think you’re underestimating me. You have no idea what all those lonely years have done to me… I am ready to blow!” he suddenly yelled, causing Regina to flinch.
Jefferson smirked at her reaction.
“I think little Henry will be home from school soon, won’t he?”
He looked around and leaned back so that he could glance at the front door. Regina’s eyes widened and she took a small step forward.
“Don’t you dare threaten my son!”
Jefferson lurched forward so that they were staring at each other head on. “In fact I will do much worse than just threaten him! Just imagine him walking in here, seeing someone threatening his mother with a gun… I will just ask him very politely to take a bite to save his mother’s life. That’s not too much to ask, wouldn’t you agree?”
Regina clearly saw the madness shining in those eyes, well knowing that she was the cause of it. Somehow she felt like she should regret what she did to him, but with this fool threatening her son she could only be sorry that she hadn’t killed him when she’d had the chance.
“You leave him alone, or I swear I will…”
“What Regina? What?! You have no magic in this world, no power but a fake title. And now I will free this entire town of you!”
He pointed the gun at her and jerked it toward the apple turnover.
Regina widened her stance defiantly.
“Eat it or Henry will be paying for your sins. I swear to you, if it is the last thing I do.”
Regina realized that this mixture of madness and determination was nothing to be trifled with. He was capable of harming a child, his mind was already too far gone, maybe beyond repair.
“Now!” he yelled, louder this time.
He was getting impatient and his finger around the trigger was starting to squeeze and release the deadly little piece of metal rhythmically.
Regina swallowed and moved over to the counter. She picked up the apple turnover and stared at it.
“Yes, that’s right,” Jefferson encouraged.
“Promise by the life of your daughter that you won’t harm Henry.”
She stared at him and he nodded, lowering the gun. “I promise.”
Of course it was insane to trust the word of a madman, but what choice did she have? She raised the turnover to her lips. And for the very first time in her life the Evil Queen got a taste of her very own poison.
Emma made her way up to the door when it suddenly swung open and a man she had never before seen stormed out. His eyes widened when he spotted her.
“Hey what are you…?” she began, but fell silent when he produced a gun out of nowhere and pointed it at her.
“Out of my way!”
“What the hell were you doing in there?!”
Suddenly the man laughed, and it sounded like he had completely lost his mind.
“The Evil Queen’s reign has finally ended!”
Emma quietly worked her jaw, fighting the worry rising in her throat back down. She needed to arrest this bastard so he couldn’t do any harm, but she neither had her gun nor her cuffs. So when he tried to walk past she blocked his way.
“Put the gun down and I will see what I can do for you.”
“For me? It’s way too late for me.”
He raised his gun, about to strike her with it, when suddenly a black-golden ball of fur jumped from one of the bushes directly into his face. Love hissed and buried his claws in soft flesh. The man screamed and ripped the cat from his face, coming away with five identical red marks on either cheek. Love landed on the ground softly, arching his back, hissing and growling frighteningly.
The man barged past Emma and she couldn’t do a single thing to stop him. She was still unsteady on her leg and there was no way she could chase after him. Instead she turned to the house and its open door, her heart beating frantically in her chest.
“Oh god, please please… oh god…”
She stepped inside and looked around.
“Regina?” she called, but naturally there was no answer.
Emma searched the entrance hall but found absolutely nothing, no blood, no signs of a struggle. But when she rounded the corner to the kitchen, her heart stopped. Like literally ceased pumping blood through her veins and arteries for several seconds. Regina was crumpled on the floor next to her kitchen counter, lifeless and deathly pale.
She rushed over to the unconscious woman and dropped to her knees next to her, not feeling the pain that shot through her entire leg at the contact. She searched the mayor’s body for any injury, but there was absolutely none to be found.
“Regina, wake up! C’mon, we already had this, so I need you to wake up now.”
What had this goddamn bastard done to her? Emma whipped out her cell phone and called for an ambulance, but other than that there was absolutely nothing to be done. Whatever she tried, Regina just wouldn’t wake up. It was a complete déjà vu when she cradled the unconscious mayor against her chest and gently stroked her hair.
“Wake up please, for me, for Henry… please?”
Regina’s forehead was cold when she pressed her lips against it, as if death was already reaching out for her.
Everything after that happened in a blur. The ambulance came but Emma wasn’t allowed to stay with Regina during the ride to the hospital. Instead she had to call Mary-Margaret, who had just dropped her off, to come back and take her. Henry was still in school and her roommate promised to take care of him while Emma waited in the hospital for any kind of news.
No one ever noticed the apple turnover on the mayor’s kitchen floor where it had tumbled out of Regina’s grasp.
Dr. Whale shook his head.
“I’m sorry, but we can’t find anything. No drugs, nothing.”
Emma raked both hands trough her already disheveled hair. “But there has to be something! That bastard did something to her.”
“I really am sorry.”
Dr. Whale patted her shoulder awkwardly.
“You can go in and see her now.”
Emma nodded without looking at him and numbly made her way down the corridor toward where Regina was lying behind the glass doors. A machine was monitoring the steady beating of her heart, and there was seemingly absolutely nothing wrong with her, except for the fact that she just wouldn’t wake up.
“Why does this keep happening to us?” Emma mumbled as she stood beside the bed.
She gently reached out and cupped Regina’s pale cheek with her hand.
“I swear that I will find this bastard, and I will make him tell me what he did to you, whatever the cost.”
Emma slowly shook her head and laughed mirthlessly. “God Regina, I can’t believe that I didn’t realize… how much you mean to me. I’m such a fool. I had to find you like this before I understood that I…”
Her throat constricted suddenly around the words that were about to leave her mouth. She couldn’t say them, not now, not like this. Instead Emma leaned down and left a soft kiss on Regina’s forehead, then moved to both her cheeks and finally her lips.
The earthquake took Emma completely by surprise. She threw her upper body across the mayor’s form to protect her from any kind of harm. But when the earth ceased to shake and no other noise but her ragged breathing filled the room Emma straightened herself and looked around.
“What the hell…?”
“Language Sheriff Swan…”
Emma gasped and turned to look at Regina. Brown eyes gazed back at her and there was a tiny weak smile on the mayor’s lips.
The glass door behind them opened and Henry stumbled into the room. He rushed over to them and looked from his mom to Emma.
“You did it!”
The sheriff raised her eyebrows.
“I did what?”
“You broke the curse! Didn’t you feel it? Everyone felt it! It’s True Love’s Kiss!”
Emma chuckled quietly and shook her head.
Meanwhile Regina had pushed herself up into a sitting position. There was an unreadable expression on her face.
“He’s right,” she interrupted, not looking at Emma.
“He is telling the truth Emma.”
There was a hysteric edge to her voice when she laughed again. “Oh come on, don’t be ridiculous. This town is not cursed and there are no fairytale characters here, that would be absolutely…”
In the next moment their eyes met and Emma knew, just knew, that Regina was not trying to play her. It hit her like a ton of bricks. She gasped and took a few hectic steps back.
“Emma, it’s okay,” Henry tried to calm her.
“You broke the curse with True Love’s Kiss because you are the Savior and everyone will get their happy endings back.”
The sheriff’s eyes darted wildly from Henry to Regina and back.
“But that means she is the Evil Queen! And Mary-Margaret she… she is…”
“Your mother,” Regina supplied calmly.
She had folded her hands in her lap, atop the blue hospital blanket. She seemed to accept everything happening around her with a calm detachment while Emma became more nervous by the second.
“I need to go. I have to get out of here.”
“But Emma…!” Henry called, but the sheriff had already turned and hurried through the open glass door, out of sight.
Regina hung her head but smiled when Henry bestowed a hug upon her.
“I’m sorry mom, but I’m sure Emma will come around eventually.”
“I guess it is a lot to take in, especially for someone who thought that magic is nothing more than a fantasy.”
Regina sighed quietly and beckoned Henry to sit beside her on the bed. She wrapped both arms around and him and held him to her for what seemed to be a small eternity.
“Listen Henry, I need you to be strong now, okay?”
He nodded and leaned back to look at his mother. Regina cradled his face in both hands and pressed a loving kiss to his forehead.
“No matter what anyone tells you, I do love you.”
Henry started fidgeting and got up off the bed. His little eyes darted around the room.
“I.. uh better go see about Emma, I think she needs me right now.”
Regina’s face turned into an impassive mask. She nodded numbly.
“Yes, of course. She is probably rather confused right now…”
Henry nodded and turned to walk out of the room, remembering in the last second that he hadn’t told his mom that he also loved her. When he looked back over his shoulder there was only a thin cloud of purple smoke.
That little stunt had pretty much cost her every remaining bit of energy. Regina dropped onto the small bed with wobbly legs, sweat gathering on her forehead. She was completely drained. Transporting herself by means of magic hadn’t been an easy thing even during her best of times, but now it was so exceedingly exhausting that she could do nothing more than stare at the wooden ceiling above her while lying on the bed unmoving.
Only by pulling the last bit of magic still clinging to her from the sleeping curse, she had managed to transport herself to this place. Of course it wasn’t her house, but a little cottage hidden in the woods near the town’s boundary. She had created it in case something like this should happen. It was sparsely furnished but had electricity and a supply of fresh water. Regina knew that, now that the curse was broken, the townspeople would be coming after her with torches and pitchforks to execute their revenge.
But the worst part of all this was not, how she had expected, that her curse was broken, but the fact that Emma hadn’t been able to even be in the same room with her after she had realized that Regina was indeed the Evil Queen. It hurt a great deal and she felt the small cracks in her heart more acutely than ever before. She should have known that a happy ending was not meant for her.
After she had awoken, in yet another one of the world’s ugliest hospital gowns, and found Emma standing beside her bed, hope had blossomed in her chest. But she should have known better. No one could feel anything but resentment for the Evil Queen, that was just how things were. Regina was glad though, that she hadn’t been able to go through with her plan. It was clear to her now that she would have regretted giving the apple turnover to Emma for the rest of her life.
But the fear to lose, the fear that everything would be taken from her again, had dominated her every thought.
But it didn’t matter anymore, now it was over. Snow and Charming would remember who they used to be and live out their happily ever after. Henry had Emma to rely on, and he would eventually forget. They all would.
Regina sighed and closed her eyes. It was all over now.
She dreamed of Daniel while she slept, and of her mother plunging a hand into his chest shortly before squeezing the only heart that had ever loved her to dust. She dreamed of Henry, how she had held him in her arms for the first time. He had been the most beautiful baby in all the world, and when his tiny hand tightly squeezed her finger she had finally been able to feel love again.
And she dreamed of Emma, who ate the poisoned apple turnover with a smile and dropped to the ground dead. Killed by her very own hand.
Regina woke with a gasp because there was an uncomfortable weight on her chest and for a moment she thought someone was trying to take her heart. But when she opened her eyes and raised her head she was only greeted by the sight of a certain black-golden cat yawning into her face. Love stretched out on top of her chest and rubbed his not so little head on her chin. How did he even get into the cabin?
Releasing the breath she’d been holding, Regina dropped her head back to the bed. She didn’t have the energy to push the cat off of her, let alone to get up, so she simply gazed at the ceiling while listening to Love’s continued purr. There was something peaceful about the monotonous noise and soon her eyes closed again.
Henry was hugging Love to his chest when he made his way over to Emma. The blonde was sitting on the couch in the living room, staring at the small TV screen without actually seeing anything. She had been like that ever since the curse was lifted.
Henry plopped down next to her.
Love meowed loudly and Emma regarded the black-golden cat thoughtfully.
“I thought he ran off.”
“Well he did, or more like he keeps doing it. He only comes back for a couple of days and then disappears again.”
“Is that so…?”
Emma was now looking at the cat with a raised eyebrow. For quite some time now she had refused to think about the situation at hand but the wheels in head started turning again. She had accepted that Mary-Margaret was Snow White and her mother, and they’d talked for hours on end, deciding that their future together was the most important part.
It was easier with James. He was a good man and fun to be around. Yet both of them kept on apologizing for something that was not really their fault, namely that Emma had to live for twenty-eight years without a family – which brought her back to the person responsible for it all.
She had tried not to think about her. But there was just no way she could forget about Regina, not even for a second. She missed the other woman, so much that it was almost a physical ache. The world how she had known it was crumbling around her and there was really no one she could talk to about the weirdness of it all. Snow was constantly overjoyed about having gotten her true love and daughter back.
Henry was happy with the outcome of events, although he missed his mother almost as much as Emma did. But he was just a child, of course he found fairytale characters who came to life in front of his very eyes exciting. Emma however needed time to adjust, sometimes it was too much to take in. She was some sort of Savior, and yet she felt like she hadn’t been able to save the one person who needed her most. All Emma wanted was a moment of quiet to talk to Regina, but the former mayor had simply vanished. They had thoroughly searched the entire town but there was no trace of her to be found.
Worry was not even a word to describe Emma’s emotions. At night she was lying awake in bed, imaging all kinds of horrible scenarios about what might have happened to Regina.
During the day it was easier to tell herself that everything would be alright, but still there was this underlying fear that she would never see Regina again. But now, as she stared at the cat wriggling in Henry’s grasp, an idea was forming in her head.
Maybe Love was the key.
Emma smirked at the double entendre and got up from the couch.
“Alright kid, I think I have a plan.”