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A Life Lost and Found

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Regina slowly stretches and yawns as she wakes up. She’s just rubbing the sleep out of her eyes when she notices a body next to her. A distinctly blonde body.

Emma groans and turns over, blinding groping in the dark until her hands make contact with Regina’s arm. “What are you doing?” she slurs, obviously still mostly asleep. “It’s early.”

“Miss Swan?” Regina hisses incredulously.

Emma chuckles and sits up, green eyes focusing in on Regina. “Been a while since you called me that. You feeling okay?”

“Yes, I-I’m fine. I just need to use the bathroom.” Slowly, Regina gets up and goes into the en-suite bathroom. She splashes cold water on her face and looks at herself in the mirror. That’s when she notices her hair. It’s long. The ends of it fall just below her breasts in soft, loose waves.

A knock comes at the bathroom door. “You sure you’re okay, babe?” Emma calls. Babe. Why would Emma Swan be calling her babe?

Regina twists at the ring on her finger as she always does when she’s nervous before she realizes. There’s two rings on her finger. Slowly, she looks down at her left hand and sure enough, a second ring has joined Daniel’s. It’s simple; a silver band with a single green gemstone embedded in it, but it’s unmistakably a wedding ring.

That’s when all the pieces fall together. Sleeping in the same bed with Emma, Emma calling her “babe”, and now the ring on her finger. Regina’s married to Emma Swan.

Emma knocks again, this time more urgently. “’Gina? What’s going on? You’re acting weird.”

Regina takes a few deep breaths. “I’m fine,” she replies in a hoarse voice. She squares her shoulders and opens the door. She forces a smile when she meets Emma’s eyes. “Good morning, dear.”

Emma grins, obvious relief washing over her face. “Morning, babe.” She leans in for a quick kiss, which Regina tensely accepts. “I was worried about you.”

“Just a bad dream, that’s all.”

Emma opens her mouth, but she’s cut off by the faint sound of wailing from the room across the hall. She rolls her eyes. “I’ll get her. You can handle breakfast, right?”

“I – yes.” It can’t be… it can’t be a baby. Right? Regina slowly goes down the stairs and finds two people in the kitchen. One of them is a boy of probably seventeen or eighteen, the other a girl maybe three years old.

The boy turns to face her. No. This can’t be him. He grins. “Hey, Mom.”

Regina bites her lip. “Good morning, Henry.”

“So, big night tonight, huh?” He raises his eyebrows.

“Hm?”

Henry tilts his head with a frown. “You and Ma’s anniversary dinner.”

“Oh, of course.” Their anniversary.

“Are you okay? You’ve been talking about this for weeks. It’s not like you to forget.”

Regina shakes her head. “I’m fine, sweetheart. Just not quite awake yet.”

Henry smiles and presses a quick kiss to Regina’s cheek. “I’ve gotta get to school. I’ll see you tonight.”

Regina nods absently. It’s strange to see Henry older. The last thing she remembers of Henry is him being ten years old… he can’t have grown up overnight.

Emma comes down the stairs then, balancing a baby on her hip. “Henry leave already?”

“You just missed him.”

“Ma!” the girl at the table cries, scooting out of her chair and toddling over to hug Emma’s legs.

Emma laughs. “Hey, Ellie.”

“Up?”

“I’m holding Tori right now, baby. Maybe Momma can hold you.” Emma turns to Regina, raising her eyebrows in a question.

Ellie grins and runs over to Regina. “Up, Momma?”

In a daze, Regina leans down and hoists Ellie onto her hip. Is this really her daughter? Are both of them hers? Hers and Emma’s?

Emma comes to stand beside Regina. “Hey,” she says with a shy smile.

Even without memory of the things that have clearly developed between her and Emma, Regina can tell when the woman is fishing for something. She pushes aside her disdain for Emma and puts on a smile. “I didn’t forget what day it is,” she tells her… wife. “Happy anniversary, dear.”

“I still can’t believe it’s been five years,” Emma murmurs as she adjusts the baby on her hip. “It feels like it was just last week we were at each other’s throats over Henry.”

Regina lets out a humorless laugh, because for her, it was just last week. “Yes, it does feel like that.”

“So, are you finally gonna tell me what you have planned for tonight?”

It must be a surprise, Regina thinks. “Not a chance.”

Emma feigns offense. “Why do I even try?” she grumbles. She goes over to the kitchen and grabs an apple, eating it with one hand while balancing the baby in the other arm. “Can you drop off Ellie and Victoria at my mom’s place today? I’ve got the early shift today. Save my free time for tonight.” Her eyes sparkle.

“I… of course.” Why did you say that? Regina mentally reprimands herself. “Have a good day.”

“Mm, you too.” Emma kisses Regina quickly on the cheek before going to the table and strapping Victoria into a high chair. “Be good for Momma,” she says to the baby. Then she turns to Ellie, who’s still in Regina’s arms. “You too, munchkin.” Then she looks up into Regina’s eyes. “I’ll see you tonight,” she murmurs. “Love you.”

Regina can’t bring herself to say it. She just… can’t. So she just smiles and hopes it’s convincing.

Once Emma’s gone, Regina sets Ellie on the ground – the girl protests but Regina ignores her – and kneels down to talk with her at eye level. “Ellie, are you ready to go to your… grandmother’s house?”

Ellie schools her tiny features into a grin. “Grandma Snow’s house!” She claps her hands.

Regina clenches her teeth in a parody of a smile. “Yes, Grandma Snow’s house.” She hoists Victoria out of the highchair and carries her to the driveway, Ellie toddling behind them. Thankfully, her Benz is parked there. At least that hasn’t changed.

Regina manages to load both girls into their carseats thanks to distant memories of when Henry was this small (it’s a slap in the face to think of him so old already). She places her hands on the steering wheel before the realization crashes over her.

The curse is broken.

That’s the only explanation for Emma’s sudden awareness of her family.

“Momma?” Ellie calls from the backseat. “Why aren’t we going?”

“I…” Regina’s voice breaks. “Momma just needs a minute, that’s all.” So Emma did it. She broke the curse Regina had lost everything to cast. And somewhere along the way, Regina married her. What the hell was she thinking?

“Momma?” Ellie sounds worried now, and Victoria’s begun to fuss.

Regina shakes her head. “Right, sorry babies.” She begins backing out to drive them to Snow White’s house.

Even after the curse is broken, in turns out Snow is still living in that tiny apartment with her precious Charming. Regina takes the girls up the stairs, carrying Victoria on her hip and holding tightly to Ellie’s hand, and knocks briskly on the apartment door.

Snow opens the door, frowning in confusion when she sees Regina there. “Come on in,” she says.

Regina follows her inside. “Something wrong?”

Snow shakes her head. “I just thought it was weird you knocked. How come you didn’t just let yourself in?” She takes Victoria from Regina and sets the baby down gently in a playpen in the corner. She then pours two mugs of coffee from the pre-made pot and hands one to Regina as they sit down on the couch. “Did you lose your key?”

Oh god, Regina groans in her head. She and Snow White are at the level where they’re exchanging keys? “I… yes. I lost my key.”

“I’ll have a new one made,” Snow says brightly. “So. What are you and Emma doing tonight?”

“Oh, no. I know better than to trust you with a secret.” The words come out more harshly than Regina had intended, and she winces when Snow recoils. “I’m sorry,” she says before her brain catches up with her mouth. “I’m just a bit on edge today. Nerves, I suppose.”

Snow nods understandingly – god, she’s so annoyingly forgiving. Regina’s always hated that about her.

A young boy pads out of the downstairs bedroom. “Mommy?” he says, rubbing sleep out of his eyes.

Snow smiles and hoists him up onto her lap. “Morning, lovely. Are you ready to play with your cousin Ellie today?” Huh. The idiots spawned another one.

Regina smirks. “Isn’t she technically his niece?”

Snow chuckles and raises her eyebrows. “Yeah, I guess she is. We’ve been calling her his cousin just to make things a little less confusing. God, this family is complicated.”

Regina chuckles half-heartedly as she watches Snow’s son crawl out of his mother’s lap and go to greet Ellie.

“Play nice, Neal,” Snow calls after him. She smiles fondly after the boy. “He thinks now that he’s six he’s a big tough boy.”

Regina stands up. “I’d better get going. Thank you for watching the girls.”

Snow gives her a funny look. “Of course.”

Regina flashes her a forced smile and hurries out of the apartment. She has to figure out what the hell is going on, and there’s really only one person she can trust with this. She drives herself to the right building, knocking briskly on the office door.

“Dr. Hopper,” she says when he opens the door.

“Regina.” He sounds surprised.

“I know I don’t have an appointment, but it’s… it’s important.”

“By all means, come in.”

Regina smiles gratefully and sits down on the office couch. Archie closes the door and sits across from her.

“What can I help you with?”

“I… I woke up this morning, and…” she bites her lip. “I don’t remember anything.”

Archie raises his eyebrows. “Anything?”

“Anything. None of this… this life. The one that’s happening around me.”

Archie uncaps his pen and taps the butt of it against his teeth. He squints his eyes, studying her. “What’s the last thing you remember?”

Regina bites her lip. “I remember… Henry went down into the mines and you followed him. And Miss Swan saved you both.”

“Regina… that was seven years ago.”

 

Emma walks into the station with half a bear claw in her mouth and a to-go cup of hot cocoa in her hand. “Morning,” she greets David.

David grins. “You’re late.”

“Maybe you’re just early.” Emma sticks out her tongue.

David laughs. “So, what’re you and Regina doing today?”

Emma rolls her eyes. “She won’t tell me anything.”

David’s eyes sparkle. “She’s probably got something nice planned. Five years is a big milestone, you know.”

“Yes, I’m aware of that, thank you.”

“Is someone nervous?”

Emma picks off a piece of her bear claw and tosses at him indignantly, but he just catches it in his mouth and winks at her.

“That’s not an answer,” he says after he swallows the bit of pastry.

“Okay, so I’m a little nervous,” Emma admits begrudgingly. “It’s just a big day, you know? And… she was acting kind of weird this morning.”

“How so?”

“Well… she woke up really early. And she called me ‘Miss Swan’.”

David raises his eyebrows. “Seriously?”

“And when I told her I love her she… she didn’t say it back.” Emma swallows hard. She twists the ring on her finger, a nervous habit she picked up from Regina. Something’s definitely bothering her wife.

“Something must be bothering her,” David says, echoing her thoughts. “I’m sure it’s nothing to do with you.”

“Yeah. I hope so.”

 

“S-seven years?” Regina splutters. “No, it can’t be. It can’t be!”

Archie leans forward with a concerned frown. “You can’t remember anything between then and now?”

Regina shakes her head slowly. “I remember going to bed on that night… and when I woke up Miss Swan was my wife and my hair looked like this.” She flicks one of the ends in disdain. “What’s happening to me?”

Archie chews on the end of his pen. “You were in a car accident about two months ago,” he muses, and Regina’s not sure if he’s talking to her or to himself. “Dr. Whale said there was no brain damage, and you seemed to be fine until now. This might be some sort of… delayed effect of that.”

Regina’s eyes go wide. “My memories will come back eventually, won’t they?”

“I… I honestly don’t know, Regina. If it really is your head injury, it might be too late by now to treat it.”

Regina grabs her purse and stands up. “I need to speak with Whale immediately.”

“Regina,” Archie calls as she moves toward the door. “I think it would be beneficial if you came to see me again. I could try to jog your memory, or at least help you to adjust to your life here.”

Regina hesitates, then nods stiffly. “All right.”

“Are you free tomorrow at 10:00?”

Regina laughs hollowly. “How should I know?” Then she sighs. “I’ll be here.” With that, she leaves Archie’s office and heads down to the hospital to have a talk with Whale.

Regina breezes into the hospital, eyes scanning for any sign of Dr. Whale’s blond head. Finally, she spots him. “Whale,” she calls as she strides over. “We need to talk. Now.”

Whale raises his eyebrows, but says nothing as he hands his clipboard over to one of the nurses and gestures for her to step into his office.

She sits down on of the hard plastic chairs, struggling to get comfortable.

“So, what can I do for you today?”

“I’ve lost my memory. All of it, from the past seven years.”

Whale’s eyebrows shoot up into his hairline. “All of it?”

Regina nods. “The last thing I remember is the day Henry and Dr. Hopper were trapped in those mines. Dr. Hopper said it might be a delayed effect of an accident I was in recently.”

Whale nods. “Yes, I remember.” He reaches over and traces his finger about her hairline. “The scarring seems to have mostly faded. There wasn’t any evident brain damage that I could spot at the time. I have heard of this happening, though, on rare occasions.”

Regina bites her lip. “Is it possible to recover my memories?”

Whale hesitates. “You know, in a situation as unusual as this, it’s impossible to say.” He pauses, as though debating whether to continue. “But, it’s not likely. I’m sorry. It’s just been too long to be able to treat it.”

“Right. Well, thank you for your time.” Regina stands up slowly and leaves the hospital on wobbly legs.

The drive home is much too long – has her home moved farther away from the rest of town in the last seven years?

The house is empty when Regina walks in. She runs upstairs to her bathroom and stares at herself in the mirror. “Damn this hair,” she growls out loud, reaching for the scissors. She’s always cut her own hair; she never trusted anyone else with it. It only takes a few minutes for her to snip it down to exactly the way she had it in her memories.

She brushes off the back of her neck, frowning when she feels something there. The skin is raised here, almost like a ridge, and there’s a dull ache where she touches it. A scar? Regina twists and turns until finally she sighs and grabs the hand mirror on the counter, using it to see her reflection in the big mirror. And there it is, a massive, ugly white scar decorating the back of her neck in the shape of an X.

Regina bites her lip. That must be why I grew my hair out. She sighs. What’s done is done. But how the hell did she get that scar, anyhow?

The door opens downstairs. “I’m home,” Emma calls.

Regina tenses. She forgot Emma was coming home early today for their anniversary. A sense of dread settles in the pit of her stomach. I have to tell her.

“Regina?” Emma shouts. “I know you’re home; I saw your car in the driveway.”

Regina sighs. “Just a moment, dear.” She quickly changes into a new outfit that isn’t covered in hair, takes a deep breath, and goes down the stairs.

Emma smiles. “Hey, you.” She moves in to kiss Regina, before stopping with a puzzled grin. “You cut your hair?”

“I was growing sick of having it long.”

“So you’re finally over… this?” Emma slowly reaches around Regina’s shoulders and dances her fingers lightly over the scar on the back of her neck.

Regina tenses beneath Emma’s touch, ignoring the warmth that grows in her stomach. Her body may be accustomed to the blonde’s love, but Regina surely isn’t. “Do you remember how I got that scar?” she asks softly, hoping Emma will tell her.

Emma bites her lip. “Yeah. Look, I keep telling you, battle scars are nothing to be ashamed of. Everyone respects you for going up against Elsa.”

Elsa? Who the hell is Elsa? There’s obviously a lot she doesn’t remember; this Elsa must have been a valiant foe for her to gain the respect of this town. She doesn’t say anything, just slides out of Emma’s embrace and moves to sit on the couch.

“So, are you finally gonna tell me what we have planned for tonight?”

Regina swallows hard. “Actually… we need to talk.”

“About what?”

“I think you should sit down.” Regina gestures to the space next to her on the couch. Once Emma is sitting down, Regina turns her body to face her. “You were right. I was acting strangely this morning.”

Emma tilts her head. “Is something going on at work?”

“No, it’s nothing to do with work. It’s me. I…” Regina breaks off and chews on the inside of her cheek. She lets out a bitter laugh. “They don’t make up clichés for this kind of thing.”

Emma’s brow furrows. “Regina, what’s going on?” She reaches over and takes Regina’s hand between both of hers, squeezing as though Regina will disappear the second she lets go.

Regina looks straight into Emma’s wide, green eyes and feels a stirring in her stomach she should never feel when it comes to Emma Swan. “That accident I was in two months ago. It’s apparently had some… delayed effects. I’ve lost my memory. Of everything. Of this life, of our daughters, of-”

“Of me,” Emma says quietly, cutting her off.

“Not exactly…”

“What do you mean?”

“I… my last memory is from seven years ago. When you first came to Storybrooke.”

Emma nods slowly as the words sink in. “So you remember hating me.” She stands up, running a hand through her hair. Tears shine in her eyes that never spill over, and she’s gnawing on her bottom lip like a beaver on an oak tree. “I need a minute.” She moves to the stairs, undoubtedly to go up to their bedroom.

“Emma,” Regina reflexively calls after her.

Emma stops and turns to face her.

“Just because… just because I don’t remember loving you… it doesn’t mean that I can’t.” Regina’s voice breaks as she continues. “And it doesn’t mean I won’t.”

Emma smiles weakly. “Whether you get your memories back or not, I’m never gonna stop loving you. I hope you know that.”

Regina’s voice is almost inaudible as she smiles and whispers one word.

“Good.”