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A Star That I Can See

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It wasn't supposed to be like this. They'd spent months in Camelot searching for a spell from Merlin that was supposed to fix this, fix Emma and bring her back to her family. It was supposed to make her better.

But it had been weeks since the Dark Curse had been driven out of the blonde woman and she hadn't said a word. They'd moved her to the hospital when it became obvious that she wouldn't eat or drink anything. She barely slept and when she did she'd wake up screaming until the doctors sedated her.

This wasn't what was supposed to happen, Regina thought. Her life had always been about controlling her surroundings, and watching Emma like this and not being able to fix her was slowly driving her mad. She'd expected Emma to be upset about what she'd done, the chaos she'd created and the things she'd said, but she never imagined this. She visited her every day with Henry hoping to see improvement, but after weeks without a change, she began to fear that Emma was never going to come around.

Henry had been hopeful at first.

"She's the Savior Mom, she can get through anything."

But as time went on, even Henry's hope started to fade and Regina could see him fighting back tears during every visit. After too many nights of returning to a house that felt far too empty, Regina and Henry began staying at the Charming's small apartment. Regina never could have imagined seeking out Snow and her prince for comfort but she knew by now that life had a funny way of not being what she expected.

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Rumplestiltskin finally wakes up from his coma and for a brief moment, Regina feels hopeful because if anyone has enough magical knowledge to fix Emma, it's him.

"She's not going to get better" he tells Regina, Henry, Snow, and David who have gathered in Emma's hospital room.

"But you survived the Dark Curse" Snow pleads. "Regina overcame her darkness!"

"I'm sorry" Rumple says, and for once he even looks like he really is. "But people react to the darkness differently. I'm afraid it was just too much for your daughter."

He pulls Regina aside after the Charmings have left.

"It was the spell they used to get rid of her darkness. Most people have a balance of light and dark so if something like the Dark Curse enters a person, there's already a base of potential darkness in there. Emma didn't have that. She had too much light magic to take on the dark curse without side effects. But I imagine her parents already blame themselves for enough of what happened to her. They don't need to know anymore don't you think dearie?"

He leaves, with Regina left staring at what's left of the woman who had so much good in her that it led to her downfall.

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It's pouring rain and Regina finds herself banging on the door of Rumple's house in the middle of the night.

"She did this for me" Regina sobs when he answers the door. "There has to be something we can do. She can't be like this forever, please I'll do anything."

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In the end, there's only one solution. Regina hates it but anything is better than leaving Emma the way she is.

"The presence of magic and her memories of being the Dark One are what is causing Emma's condition" Rumple explains. "If we send her across the town line, there will be no magic but her memories will still exist and she will be in the same state she is now. It will be the same if we erase her memories of her time as the Dark One. Dark magic will still linger in her enough that she won't get better."

"Then we erase her memories and destroy magic in Storybrooke!" Regina protests. "I will not send her out into the world alone not knowing what happened to her!"

"Regina we need magic to defend the town. You know the kind of threats we've faced, we can't give up our best defence to keep Emma here. She wouldn't want that." Snow whispers tearfully.

Regina wonders if this is how Emma felt, constantly choosing what was best for everyone even if it meant making yourself miserable. She hates being a hero sometimes.

"So we erase her memories of her time in Storybrooke and send her over the town line? She'll just wake up missing three years of her life?" Regina asks.

Rumple nods. "The last thing she'll remember is being in her apartment before Henry arrived. She'll be confused of course, having lost so much time but she won't have any of the memories or magical remnants that have left her in her current situation. She'll be able to function normally and hopefully go back to whatever life she had before she came here."

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Regina decides that she has to be the one to cast the spell. Emma sacrificed everything for her, it only feels right that she has to be the one to fix Emma's current state even if it means losing her forever,

She tells Emma what they're going to do, hoping for some reaction but the blonde just stares vacantly ahead. She leaves the room while Emma's parents and son say their goodbyes and then comes back and sits next to the woman who's come to mean so much to her.

"I love you Emma. I think I have for a long time and I'm so sorry I didn't realize it sooner. I'll miss you so much."

Regina lets herself sob for a few minutes before gently kissing Emma's forehead. Then she begins the spell and watches as the memories of the woman she loves slowly fade away.

Emma jumping into a vortex of darkness to save her.

Emma smiling at her as she says "I'm in."

Emma following her around like a lost puppy hoping to make amends for saving a woman's life.

Emma sitting in the Bug with a cup of coffee smiling as she talks about their son.

"You may not be strong enough but maybe we are."

Emma pushing her out of the way as the wraith moves to attack.

A chainsaw and an apple tree.

A red leather jacket, a smile, and "hi."

The spell finishes and Emma lays on a hospital bed unconscious.

"I'll keep those memories safe for you Emma" Regina whispers softly. "I won't let them go."

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Emma stays unconscious long enough to be driven a few hours out of town. Regina leaves her in a place where she'll be easily found, where someone can help her.

She cries the whole way home.

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There's a story on the news the next day about a woman found abandoned and unable to remember the last three years. They give Emma's name and show her picture urging people to come forward with information.

Regina sits in silence with Snow, David, and Henry, with unspoken sadness between them knowing that no one is going to come.

Regina hopes that something in Emma remembers that she was loved.

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They try to rebuild their lives and accept that they now live in a world without Emma in it. Regina knows that Emma did this for her happiness and tries to make the most of it. Some days it's easy. The Charmings have accepted her into their family and she has her son.

But she can't bring herself to drink root beer anymore and one night she thinks about how badly she wanted Emma out of town when she first arrived and destroys half of her house. David finds her sobbing on the floor and carries her back to the too small apartment that she considers home more than her mansion these days. She falls asleep crying in Emma's bed that doesn't smell like her anymore.

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She keeps track of where Emma is, and one day the temptation to see her is too much. She drives to New York, wondering if Emma finds herself wondering why she chose that city to settle in after getting her life back on track. She sits in her car for hours until she sees the familiar flash of blonde hair walk outside, and follows her.

Emma looks just like she did when Regina first met her. She smiles more easily than she did in most of her time in Storybrooke, but there's an underlying sense of loneliness and cautiousness in her eyes. She doesn't look happy but she doesn't look miserable either.

Regina hates knowing that this woman remembers nothing of years of being loved and wanted, but she remembers Emma lying still in the hospital, driven mad by darkness and thinks maybe she did the right thing

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It's Emma's birthday and she remembers a long ago conversation about a wish not to be alone. She thinks about sending Emma a card or calling but decides that someone missing three years of their life might not appreciate anonymous call or letters. So she buys a cupcake and lights a candle.

"You're not alone" she whispers as she blows it out.

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In New York, Emma Swan is trying to figure out why she suddenly can't stop smiling. She shrugs to herself and blows out her birthday candle.