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Worthy

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They sat with their backs to the harbor, a chill breeze buffeting them. The day was too grey for anyone to stroll by at random. Even though morning rain left puddles on the concrete, the air was still soggy with cold. Maleficent pursed her lips.

"You caged me in dragon form underneath this place, and then you sent the Savior to kill me."

Regina looked down at her gloved hands. "Henry's life hung in the balance." She looked up. "I thought I was saving it."

"I know." Maleficent caught Regina's gaze and held it with her own. "I know what it is to fight for your child, Regina. I know what it is the feel entirely helpless even when brimming with power." She took Regina's chin between her thumb and forefinger to pull her close until their foreheads touched. Even in the cold, Regina's skin was warm. "I don't need to be one of your ghosts, Regina."

"Thank you." Regina's eyes were clouded with the tears she held back. But Maleficent could see the relief, and she knew it. She felt it too deep within her core. Bitterness and anger faded, but they were difficult to let go. Even so, they paled against the love she felt for her daughter. It was easy to push them aside when the eternity she would have to now know Lily opened up before her.

And it was easy to forgive when she knew Regina had only a mortal's life for her happiness. Maleficent had been the object of Regina's love when Regina had needed her the most. Even in her longevity, she would always treasure that. But even then, Regina had locked parts of herself away.

"You can let yourself love her," she said as she tightened her grip on Regina's chin, "without becoming weak."

It was neither permission nor a blessing. Regina did not need that from her. It was merely a fact--one that Regina would come to accept once she forgave herself completely.

Before releasing her, Maleficent kissed Regina softly. The only debt Regina owed was to herself.