"There are rumours of connections between mages so strong, that they enable either of the partners to tap into the other's magic. In these instances, the metaphysical streams that empower the mages mingle, like two rivers coming together underground. The energy weaves together before pouring forth with more power than the single mage could ever hope to produce on their own, breaking forth from behind the veil to wreak havoc. To my knowledge, these connections are rare; two mages powerful enough to weave together, to share a connection so strong that they pierce the veil like the boats that pass into my beloved Avalon. It happens once in a generation, if that, but when it happens, tremble, for those who are connected to such an extent do not only share magic, they share a mind, and often, a heart."
-- Morgaine le Fay – ‘The Metaphysics of Magic’
"Okay, I get what you're saying, but why do I have to get my magic back? I mean... you can do magic, Blue has fairy magic, Rumple has... whatever he has... We've been dealing just fine without me and my magic—we all survived Elsa, didn't we?" Emma pleaded, resting her head dejectedly on her arms as she draped herself over Regina's desk. She had planted herself on the mayoral chair once Regina had launched into a disposition about magic and restoring Emma's, trying desperately to keep up her interest level but failing once Regina had started talking about old tomes and potion recipes. She'd settled for nodding and humming at set times and hoped Regina would stop talking soon. She regretted picking up her phone when the brunette had called to ask her to come over an hour or so ago, but the older woman had sounded adamant and Emma had been sitting around in her underwear anyway, so she hadn't exactly had a reason not to go.
"We survived the Snow Queen—not this 'Elsa'-character you keep talking about—because she took a liking to Ava and Nicholas, and Ava was smart enough to keep her wits about her and lie through her teeth about wanting to say goodbye to her family before she would leave with her, luring her out in the open. Meanwhile, you and David were doing your best icicle impression and I ended up the magical equivalent of a space heater while your mother distracted the queen and Rumplestiltskin managed to imprison her in her urn again. That situation was a mess, and if you would have had your magic, I wouldn't have had to spend all my time defrosting the two of you before you would have died." Regina bit out at her, and Emma had the decency to winch at her words as her cheeks coloured pink. Regina was right, after all: both her and David had very nearly died, encased in ice by Elsa—the Snow Queen, whatever—after stumbling right into the clearing where she had been waiting with a petrified Nickolas for a defiant Ava. It had not been pretty.
"Well, we didn't, did we? We were just fine, and Mary Margaret is still glowing over saving the day." Emma tried sheepishly, lifting her head to look up at Regina as the older woman paced the width of her office, arms folded across her chest, and staring her down. Emma grinned, hoping to appease her. Really, Emma was fine with not having magic; it was one more weight off of her shoulders. She wouldn't have to decipher the weird scribbles Regina had tried to engage her with, and she wouldn't end up on another rope bridge trying to do her best Aladdin impression to stay alive. It sounded good to her.
"That is entirely beside the point, Miss Swan." Regina tiredly chastised her, and Emma sat up, knowing she wasn't getting out of this one; Regina had her mind set on this happening, and Emma was just going to have to go along for the ride. Regina had decided Emma was getting her magic back, and once Regina made up her mind about something, it was happening. Emma just hoped she wouldn't be bathing in blood or anything; she watched Grimm, after all.
"Okay, fine. What do I have to do?" She groaned in defeat as she tried to be mature about this whole thing. Regina slowed, then turned to her, gathering her thoughts a moment as she looked Emma up and down.
“I'm not entirely sure.” Regina admitted. “Nor I, nor Belle have been able to find any reference to the spell Zelena used to take your magic, and Rumplestiltskin is equally stumped. That makes it very difficult to counteract it. There are two options: either it was a binding spell or a severance, and the ways to counteract them are very different.”
“Okay... so... how do we find out which one it is...?” Emma asked, not understanding half of what Regina was saying, but not really caring either. She just wanted to hear where to go and what to do—the 'how's and 'why's were not really her cup of tea. Regina regarded her intently.
“A severance spell takes a lot of power, and it's dangerous for the caster; it completely severs the connection between the witch and her power source. Consider it a bridge that collapses, or a tunnel that caves in: the connection simply no longer exists, although it can be rebuilt with great difficulty. With a binding spell the witch is still connected to the source of her power, but the connection is blocked by magic. Consider it a dam in a river or a clogged drainage pipe. We can break a binding by using brute magical force, but if I flood your system with magic and it turns out your connection is severed, all the energy I pump into you has nowhere to go and you could end up burning up from the inside out. I've read eyewitness accounts of that happening and I would rather not risk it.” Regina explained carefully, and Emma nodded, infinitely grateful. Burning up from the inside out sounded like a very crappy way to go, honestly.
“Okay, so that's out... what else?” Emma questioned, and now it was Regina's turn to sigh.
"We need to regard your loss of magic as a severance, and build from there. Hopefully, our efforts to rebuild the bridge—as it were—between you and your magic will eventually enable you to unbind your own magic if it turns out it was a binding after all, and if not, well, we will have to risk 'unblocking' you. After all, if our efforts to rebuild turn out futile, it must be a binding... or you were simply not powerful enough to re-establish the connection. With your source of magic as inborn as True Love's conception, you should have power aplenty to restore the connection." Regina explained patiently, and Emma nodded.
“Okay, great, but what do I do?” She questioned, itching to get this over with. Henry was at school, and this was the first afternoon in weeks where she'd had enough time and privacy to walk around her apartment half naked and watch cartoons. It was a pastime she rarely got to indulge herself in these days and she was hoping she would be able to hurry this along so she could salvage the few hours that remained before Henry got back.
“It's not that easy, Emma. Breaking a severance is a process that can take years. It requires a perfectly clear mind, intense study, and long hours of practice every single day to train the new pathways.” Regina announced the news grimly, but a slow smirk snuck upon her features once she caught sight of the mortification on Emma's face—something that was impossible to hide as Emma thought of the work ahead—for something Emma didn't even want in the first place. “...that is why I have discussed another option with Belle and your mother. Belle came upon an old work by Morgaine le Fay, a brilliant witch whose stories have made it to this realm as well, I believe? She was the half-sister of Arthur Pendragon; King Arthur? In essence, she describes a process where two witches link power, allowing the one to tap into the power source of the other and visa versa. She describes it as a connection that forms over time, but I think we might be able to force the connection along between us, using Morgaine's words as... magical jumper cables, if you will.”
This time Emma decided to suffice with a pointed look to try and coax clear instructions out of the brunette. Regina rolled her eyes at her impatience, and her obvious inability or lack of desire to educate herself.
“Unfortunately, since these connections are rare and have not been studied in clear detail, there isn't a ten-step plan to follow. For now, the best I can do is urge you to pack a bag: you are moving into the mansion while Henry moves out and in with Mary Margaret and David. You and I are going to play house; no distractions, no excuses, until we find a way to connect on a magical level.” Regina deadpanned, and it took Emma a few moments to realize she was actually dead serious. She still had to confirm, though, that Regina actually intended for them to cohabit.
“You’re joking.” She practically pleaded. “For how long?”
“I can hear you are positively thrilled to have to spent time with me. Thank you for that boost to my self-esteem. Regardless, I am not joking; we have all agreed that you moving into the mansion and spending time with me is the simplest—and shortest—way for you to get your magic back. That said, I cannot give you a time frame. Magic is emotion, Emma, and for this to work, we have to connect. I know we can do that on occasion; when we touched, we activate Jefferson’s hat, when we combined our magic, we were powerful enough to deactivate the trigger, and even cause an eclipse. We have the ability to do what Morgaine describes, but we need to get to a place where we can connect like that at will, and even from a distance.” Regina started, and while Emma’s mind tried to catch up on the ramifications of all of this, Regina launched into another explanation that Emma missed at least half of.
“…she describes the process as two rivers of magical energy—yours and mine, in this case—coming together. The added momentum of our streams intersecting causes us to become more powerful than we already were, even if we don’t use each other’s ‘water’ directly. That kind of power should be enough to remove any binding, and if you then use my magic to call out to yours, you should be able to undo a severance as well. Most importantly, there would not be a chance of you burning up in the process. Do you understand what I’m trying to teach you, Emma?” Regina prodded, getting closer and catching Emma’s eyes as she had been staring off into space.
“Not really, to be honest. I mean, I get the magical river stuff, and I heard I won’t be burning up, so that is great, but I’m still a little stuck on moving in with you? My parents signed off on this?” Emma questioned, not quite believing this wasn’t some elaborate hoax by Regina, engaged in for some unearthly reason.
“Gladly so,” Regina explained with a slightly teasing smile as she rounded the desk and draped herself against it in one of the expensive dresses the brunette had taken to wearing lately. This one was a dark blue hue and seemed to be poured on, although the fabric as thick and coarse. While Emma’s dress sense had improved some since the latest curse had taken hold, this was a definite grade above her comfort levels and she wondered if it itched. She forced herself to drag her eyes up so she could meet dark brown which, despite Regina’s light tone of voice, reflected a worry that Emma found unsettling.
“…your father nearly died in the last skirmish, and your mother was seconds away from being frozen as well. If that had happened, I would have had to choose: the life of you and your father, or your mother’s. I wouldn’t have been on time to defrost all of you, especially not if the Snow Queen had still been free to hurl blasts of snow and ice at me. I know you do not want your magic back, but it’s your birth right, a promise you were destined to fulfil. You need it, and your parents know that. They also know that you will not commit to intense studies over extended periods of time, and long hours of meditation and physical exercises. In fact, it was your mother who suggested that, instead of simply spending more time together as I proposed, we lock ourselves in until we forge the connection. We agreed that it would be the least painful way for you to go through the process, and the least time-consuming.” Regina explained, and Emma swallowed with difficulty. She was both flattered and a little annoyed that her parents and Regina knew her well enough to know that she wasn’t going to stick with an extended program.
“Thanks, I guess. And, you know, it’s not that I don’t want to spend time with you, it’s just… a little weird, I guess? I mean, what are we going to do together?” Emma questioned, leaning back in Regina’s chair so she could more easily meet the older woman’s eyes.
“Talk, I suppose. Practice, eat three healthy meals a day, and sleep. Listen to the radio. I’ve stocked up on alcohol, just in case.” Regina answered, allowing her full lips to curve into a smirk with the last words, and Emma found herself grinning.
“Smart move. Okay, fine, but before we do this, I’m going to drive by the grocery store for supplies. I can’t live off of rabbit food like you do.” She stated defiantly, and Regina rolled her eyes while holding back a grin.
“Deal, Miss Swan. Purchase your poison and pack your bags, and I’ll wrap things up here. I’ll meet you at your parent’s apartment in a few hours. We’ll say goodbye to Henry and I’ll drive you to your new home-away-from-home.” Regina planned easily, and Emma nodded, pushing up and straightening out her plait skirt in the process.
“See you soon, roomie.” She said by way of goodbye, and Regina grinned openly now, dipping her head a moment before pushing off as well. Emma smirked and nodded, exiting the mayoral office with deliberate steps. She would be lying if she said she didn’t consider going into hiding for a long moment, but as she looked back and found Regina’s seated form tracking her intently, worry plainly on her features, she realized that wasn’t in the cards; Emma may have been suppressing any and all thought of her magic-less state, but the people around her—people who cared—hadn’t, and they were worried. That was enough to go along with them; she knew her parents loved her, and she knew that Regina knew what she was doing. They were doing everything in their power to make this easy on her; the least she could do was show up for the experiment.