When Regina was brought back to the prison cell she was still reeling from the joy of being alive. How could Snow have been so weak as to let her live? That woman's compassion would be her downfall. Sadly, the high of avoiding death soon passed and Regina was reminded of the horror of being locked up without magic and at the mercy of her enemies.
It didn't get any better when she got a visit from Snow.
Regina looked up at the woman in white with a patronising expression.
"Yes? Come to ask me to thank you for my life? That is not going to happen."
"I know. I didn't come for that. I came to make you a deal. I spared your life because I know there is still good in you! The woman who saved me as a child is still inside you somewhere."
Regina scoffed. "I told you, I buried that woman so deep down that she is never coming back up."
"Say what you wish, I believe that you can still change. I want to give you two options. The first option is that you repent, not in front of a crowd of your enemies like today… but to me and perhaps a few witnesses. Then we can let you go and you can start over."
Regina snarled. "That sounds hideous. What is option two?"
"You stay here. Locked up in this cell until the hate fades from your heart and you are ready to change."
Regina quirked an eyebrow. "Life in prison?"
"Yes. Either that or you apologize and mend your ways and can then start over, free and with a chance for happiness."
"Well, it looks like I should be making myself more comfortable in this cell then. As soon as the Blue Fairy's spell wears off I can magic up a nice bed, some quality rugs… oh and a spike over there with your head on it!" At the last words Regina threw herself at the bars, mere inches away from Snow White.
Snow looked into those dark, furious eyes and searched for the woman who had been like an older sister to her once.
"No, Regina. It's true that the Blue Fairy's spell only lasts for a short while… but she has found another spell to make a limited part of the castle freeze in time. She will cast that spell over your cell, making that 'while' in which your magic is removed last for as long as we wish. You will feel like time is passing as you will be aware of it, but your body and its state of non-magic will remain the same."
"You plan to keep me preserved like this until I admit defeat and crawl at your feet?"
Snow gave a sad sigh and there were tears forming in her eyes. "I don't want you to crawl and I don't care if you win or not. I just want to know that you won't hurt anyone anymore. If I can be guaranteed of that, I will let you go in a heartbeat."
Regina gave another snarl. "Hurt anyone? I will hang you upside down and slowly bleed you until your heartsblood decorates the floor."
Snow wiped a tear which had escaped her eye. "Well… I hope that will change one day. I hope one day you will value your freedom and your happiness higher than your need for revenge and bloodshed."
With that said she turned and left and Regina's fate as a prisoner was sealed.
It wasn't that bad at first. After the Blue fairy had frozen physical time in the tiny cell, Regina realised that this meant she would never need to eat, drink, wash, change her clothes or empty her bowels. She wouldn't age either. While Snow White grew old and tired, she would be young and fit. She could sleep if she was bored but she never felt tired. Her body just ticked on happily as if it had only been a second since the spell was cast.
It was when the time-warped days started to grow heavy on her mind that it got difficult. Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months and planning her escape and revenge no longer kept her mind occupied enough. Her father and Snow White would visit and those visits kept her mind agile for a while. But it still wasn't enough. Discussing childhood memories with her father and spewing bile over Snow soon became repetitive and pointless.
It got so bad that Regina even missed the odious company of her old mentor, Rumplestiltskin. She had asked her father about him and Henry informed her that Rumplestiltskin had found a way to travel to another realm where his son was, it had apparently been done with mermaids. He was long gone and not around for Regina to strike a deal with. Somehow this made her feel insanely alone.
Her father was allowed to bring her books and even a set of dice and a Tafl board-game to make sure she had something to do with her hands and mind. For a brilliant strategist like Regina, it wasn't enough though. She had dreamed up several schemes that all included getting her hapless guards to let her out but all of them failed as Snow and Charming had placed the guards far away from her. After all, as her body didn't need anything there was no reason for them to approach her cell.
She was obviously neither dirty nor hungry, but as time passed outside her cell, her mind played tricks on her. She wished she could eat a lavish strawberry tart or change into one of her beautiful dresses. Instead she was left with nothing but stale air in her mouth and her drab, grey prison dress to wear.
What she fantasised most about, after killing Snow White of course, was a long bath. She had always loved hot soaks and she felt that she did her best thinking submerged in water. Now however, she couldn't even splash her face. It was locked in the beauty paint she had applied to it before she was captured and eternal youth. Well, that last thing was more of a perk than an annoyance… but Regina would still have traded it for her freedom in a heartbeat.
Even though her body never changed, she still felt like it was growing weary, muscles underused and limbs lifeless. It was all in her mind of course, but that didn't make it feel less real.
The years slowly passed, like a vine growing up a wall with such slowness that when you one day looked and saw that it had reached your window, it shocked you greatly.
Regina measured the time with help of her visitors and saw the years move in the wrinkles on her father's face and on the changing of Snow White's body. The pregnancy was the biggest change there of course.
It amazed Regina that Snow actually brought her the newborn babe and showed it off to her. The insipid woman seemed to believe that seeing a baby would change Regina's mind and heart and turn her to good. All it did was make Regina pity the baby for growing up with such horrendous parents. If she could have cursed the brat, she probably would.
The day came when her father couldn't make his next visit. With tears flowing down her cheeks, Snow came to break the news of his death. Regina had screamed and screamed and screamed until her voice broke. She cried her eyes dry, but with the lack of change in time…. She soon found her eyes able to cry more and her voice able to scream again. It was maddening in its wrongness and did nothing for what was left of Regina's sanity. She no longer saw reason. Her father was the only one she had and now he was gone. Snow White's prison had taken him from her, just like Snow had taken Daniel from her.
Regina's wish to kill Snow White remained strong and seemed to keep growing. There seemed to be no end to how hard and long her hate could burn. The years kept falling away, like leaves on a tree in autumn, and they left her with only more bitterness and grief.
Snow still visited and the times when she couldn't, out of a bout of illness or royal duties elsewhere, she sent her husband down to check on their prisoner. Regina relished those visits. It was hilarious to see the man squirm as he asked if she was alive and if she had repented and then ran out of things to say. While Snow would always bore Regina with tales of the life outside the prison, news and gossip, and endlessly go on about little Princess Emma… Charming just seemed to be mute.
The fourth time he had to check up on Regina, he had grown tired of the painful silence and the obvious bitterness streaming out of the imprisoned woman and decided to bring a distraction: his little princess. It was clear that he doted on her and felt that if he brought her along, the time down by the cell wouldn't just be wasted.
Regina guessed Emma was about 14 or so at that point. She seemed a good mix of petulance and shyness and mostly just stared at Regina as her father told her about the lesson to be learnt here.
"Unless you learn to admit your mistakes and failures and move on from them, you too could end up in a timeless cell, my angel. Bitter, twisted and lonely… like Regina here."
Regina had scoffed and looked at the blonde wench.
"Take my advice, girl. Live your life the way you want it and then you will find that you can face any consequences. My body might be locked up in here but my heart and my pride are free because I did not allow your parents to stomp them into the ground in return for releasing me. If there is a lesson to be learnt here… look at your father. A man who can't look me in the eye because he knows he has robbed me of my life!"
Emma hadn't cowed away at her anger the way anyone else did. Instead she had just peered at Regina with curious green eyes, as if she was trying to understand a riddle. Her father had pulled her away and never brought her down there again.
It wasn't the last time Regina was to see Princess Emma though. On the girl's 18th birthday she came sneaking into the prison corridor. She had brought a friend and they were shushing each other and giggling in a way which spoke of being immature for their age and hopelessly drunk.
Regina felt her blood stir for the first time in ages. This might be a chance to have some fun with Snow's little changeling.
"Oh hello, dear. What brings your highness down here?"
The wench next to Emma giggled and took a step behind the princess, peering at Regina over her friend's shoulder. Emma ignored this and replied without hesitation.
"Hi! It's my birthday. I'm a woman now, can you tell? Me and Mariella have had some brandywine and she dared me to do something… dangerous," Emma slurred quietly.
Regina resisted lowering her voice to the same conspiratorial whisper as Emma was using. "So you came down to the prison?"
"We came down to see you. My father says you are the most dangerous person in the kingdom and that if you still had your magic, we would all be dead."
Regina felt her chest swell slightly with pride at that. "Oh yes, I'm afraid you would, Princess. Luckily for you I am a beast without its claws, but if you care to come closer I can still throw this candle at you or throttle you with the string in my dress. Dangerous enough for you, Princess?"
Emma's friend stopped giggling and took another step backwards. "Emma, maybe we should go."
Emma stood her ground though and stared at Regina. It wasn't long until Regina noticed that the wine-hazed young eyes were raking her body in a way which seemed quite indecent.
A leer bloomed on Regina's full lips. "Ah. I know what that gaze means, Princess."
Now Emma looked startled. "Pardon? What?"
Regina gave a low, dangerous chuckle. "Send your friend away and I'll tell you what it means."
Emma clenched her jaw and kept her gaze pinned on Regina.
Mariella spoke behind Emma. "Let's leave this place! Peter Midas probably wants to dance with you, he made eyes with you all through the banquet!"
"Yes. We'll go find him. Later. I want to hear what the prisoner has to say. Wait for me in the courtyard."
Mariella whimpered with a fearful look at Regina. "Emma, no!"
Emma turned and looked at her friend. "Mariella, I am a Princess and my word is law. I wish for you to wait for me in the courtyard and I shall join you soon. Is that understood?"
There was a finality in Emma's voice and both Mariella and Regina were surprised by the regal weight it carried.
Mariella gave a quick curtsy and scurried off while frowning.
Emma continued looking at the dark-haired woman. Her gaze was less wine-hazed but her voice still slurred her words, showing how drunk she actually was. "We're alone, sorceress. Tell me what you wished to say."
Regina gave her most seductive smile. "The way you looked at me a moment ago. I have felt looks like that often and I have given them quite often as well."
Emma gritted her teeth and looked suddenly unsure. In a voice, far more quiet and insecure she whispered, "what does it mean?"
Regina walked close to the bars and let her elegant hand grip one of them which was close to Emma's face. "It means that you feel something different than most other girls when you look at women."
It was a stab in the dark. Regina knew very well that the stare Emma gave her could have been young sexual curiosity or the owning gaze of the aristocracy. But when she saw Emma's face fall, she knew she had hit a bullseye. Snow's darling little girl was having impure thoughts about the fairer sex. How delicious!
She continued. "You feel something, don't you? When you look at a woman or a girl who is attractive? Does it tingle? Does it make your heart beat faster?"
"Yes," Emma replied breathlessly as her treacherous gaze moved down to Regina's chest.
"Well now, that is good news indeed."
Emma voice sounded nearly strangled as she replied. "Is it?"
"Oh yes! It means that you will not conform to what is expected of you. It means you will never be boring and play by the rules. It means you will always be… interesting."
"I am royalty. That makes me special enough," Emma said stubbornly.
Regina scoffed. "Royalty is frequent around these parts. Look at me… even I used to be a Queen. But women who love the secret way, the way of avoiding the rough and hairy hands of men to instead enjoy the soft touch of women… Now that is rare. We are very special."
Emma's eyes grew wide. "We?"
"Oh yes, my beautiful. We. One of the reasons your father hates me so is that he always worried that your mother's love for me would land her in my arms."
Regina wasn't sure if that was exactly true, but it was too delicious a story not to tell. Of course, she wouldn't mention that she quite enjoyed the occasional rough, hairy hand of a man and instead just highlight the amount of time she had spent with a woman between her thighs. She knew what this lass needed to hear. The young Princess should be urged to give into her desires and thereby rob Snow White of a son in law and an heir.
Emma looked at Regina's hand that still gripped one of the prison bars. Unknowingly she licked her lips and Regina had to admit to wanting to watch the look on the young woman's face as she claimed her maidenhood. There was something in this blonde, a feisty strength that seemed to be coupled with more intelligence than her bovine parents possessed. It intrigued Regina.
Suddenly Emma moved forward and put her hand through the bars to grip Regina's ample ponytail and tug the woman's face forward towards the bars. Regina was just about to fight the grip when she saw Emma move closer and realised that the girl was either going to kiss her or bite her. Either decision seemed to be a lovely rebellion against the ghastly Charming's and a break from Regina's monotony.
So, she pushed herself as close to the bars as she could and offered the Princess her mouth. The intoxicated teenager claimed it. She kissed the older woman with the sloppy eagerness of someone who has only kissed a handful of times in her life.
Regina urged the kiss on by nipping gently at Emma's pink lips and pushing her tongue into the wine-tasting mouth. When her tongue was in Emma's warm mouth she felt her body get aroused and marvelled at it. This hadn't happened since before she was imprisoned. The stasis her body was in hadn't allowed her to get wet for more than a flash of a second before it reverted back to the way it was when she was locked up. But now, she felt her blood pump down between her legs and her erogenous zones tingle pleasantly.
It took her a second to realise that pushed through the bars as she was, she must be just in the outer edge of the time freeze spell placed on her cell. Her body was torn between the normal space outside the cell, where she would have been sodden with desire for the rebellious young woman, and her cell where her body just remained the same.
She felt the Princess' tongue come out to play with her own in the space their open mouths had created and she heard the young woman groan into the kiss. Regina reached out her hand and pawed at one of Emma's corseted breasts.
That was a step to far. Emma came to her senses. She pulled away and looked at Regina in horror. Regina could almost see how Emma's drunk mind filled her in on how she had just betrayed her parents, endangered herself and engaged in erotic behaviour with another woman.
She was about to try and calm Emma and play down what had just happened. Perhaps if she managed that, she could either get the girl to come down here and let herself be corrupted on a nightly basis or even better… let Regina out.
"What happened here was wrong. This is…. That was… You are…."
Regina calmly quirked an eyebrow and spoke with sarcasm dripping from her tone. "Wrong?"
"You are a monster, just like uncle Grumpy says!"
"Uncle… Grumpy? Are you telling me that Snow sees those short, dumpy menaces as her family now? How revolting!"
"Shut up! He's good and you are evil. You… tempted me. And, and, and… you're confusing me! I'm never coming back down here again!"
Regina bit her tongue and thought of something placating to say but there was no time. Emma had stormed away with angry steps.
It was to be two years until the two women met again.