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After a couple of hours she got the final pieces set and heard a thud from upstairs. Alarmed, she made her way from the subterranean cellar and heard Emma screaming her name at the top of the stairs. She answered the blonde as she hastily made her way through the kitchen and heard Emma thump down the stairs crashing into a desperate hug in the foyer. “Regina!” the girl was breathless and tears still evident on her cheeks. “Dear I wouldn’t leave you, and I know that I haven’t always kept that promise, but I am here sweetheart.” Despite reassurances, Emma still clutched her as if her life depended on it and whispered, “I can’t help it. I feel like when I wake up and you aren’t there, it feels like you won’t ever come back. I know I’m not good enough for you to come back to, like all the foster parents who sent me back to the orphanage. I’m troubled Regina and you are going to realize that I’m troubled, and leave, and never come back. I can’t live without you Regina. I can’t. I will die without you!” she openly sobbed as she repeated her refusal to live without the queen. “Emma…” the older woman started, “You remember being in foster care?” a blonde head nodded against her chest. “But you don’t remember David?” she asked carefully and recieved a shake of a blonde head in response. Regina lifted her right hand and stroked Emma's head soothing the girl with whispers and kisses. “What about Henry?” the queen asked curious and the girl's body went rigid in her arms.

“Is that the man who hurt me?” Regina closed her eyes for just a moment as a single tear ran down her cheek. “No sweetheart. That man is gone and can’t hurt you anymore.” The girl pulled away and smiled, still teary eyed. “Because you’ll protect me right Regina?” Regina pulled her back down into an embrace. “Always Emma. Come on then let’s go back upstairs.” Without complaint the younger woman grabbed Regina's hand and marched back up the staircase.

Back in her bedroom she guided Emma to sit down on her side of the bed and handed her the remainder of the sleeping pills. “Just a couple more days of this sweetheart.” A sharp pain crossed her chest as she realized that she really only had a few more days left. She took the water glass from the girl and sat it down. A smiling face looked up at her utter devotion and love in her eyes. Her thin porcelain hands take Regina's own, pulling them to her lips, kissing each knuckle. Regina knelt down before the girl, looking up at her, studying her features as if she won’t ever see them again. As far as she knew, she wouldn't. She smiled back as the girl’s face brightened, dimples deepen into her cheeks. The mayor licked her lips as suddenly her mouth felt dry at the prospect of saying what she was about to say. “Emma?”

Emma's hand reached over to her and caressed her cheek. “You are so beautiful Regina.” The girl’s cool thumb traced Regina's lips. “Thank you dear. What I wanted to tell you is…” she bit her lip anxiously. “I just wanted you to know.. that um…” she lets out an exaggerated breath, ‘That I love you.’ Her heart whispered.

“You are absolutely amazing Emma Swan.” the blonde’s smile widened then she bent down and kissed Regina on the lips. Regina's heart clutched in her chest and tears started to fall once again. She broke the embrace with the younger woman quickly and held her biceps tight, looking her straight in the eyes. “You, are not trouble.” her tone firm in hope the next words she spoke were absorbed into the blonde’s unconscious mind. “You. Are worth it. Try really hard to remember that okay?”

Green eyes started to close more slowly as the pills work their way through the girl's system. “It is time for bed Miss Swan. Let’s go!” she pulled back the covers and the girl crawled across the bed to her side of Regina's large bed. Regina tucked the girl in, fully intending on going back down to her makeshift lab in order to set up the ingredients to expedite the potion creation process for the next day.

“Stay with me R’Gina.” The blonde pleaded and the queen found herself crawling into her own side of the bed and laid down next to the sleepy blonde. Emma curled around the brunette, resting her head in the crook of her shoulder, winding her leg around Regina's thighs. Emma’s hand lightly traced little circles over Regina's tight abdomen causing the woman's body to heat and flush. The circles started to get slower and slower and Emma started to get heavier against Regina's chest. Soon her breathing deepened and the girl was asleep.

Regina on the other hand, was in turmoil, grateful Emma hadn’t tried to initiate sexual contact yet again, but also sad about some of the things she had learned about her former nemesis during this ordeal. She felt responsible for the girl not growing up with her parents, who would have loved her and instilled confidence in her. The memory of the boisterous self-assured blonde that strolled into the mayor's life some time ago had been forever changed.

Her hand stroked Emma’s blonde hair, it soothed her as her mind reeled of past decisions and consequences. The mantra Regina always came back to, ‘But it gave us Henry.’ echoed in her mind. That singular thought always shooed the darkness away when Regina allowed herself to feel remorse for her actions. She also knew the blonde felt exactly the same as she. She soon joined her bed partner and slipped into unconsciousness.

Regina awoke at her normal hour, pleased because she was up before her charge and eager to get a start on her day. She dressed in her yoga pants and one of her work out tank tops, she wanted to be comfortable so she could concentrate on today's tasks. She felt more confident today, she was feeling eager to just get this mess behind her. Emma Swan will no doubt, if she retains her memories, not want to see her after her cure, however Regina had been able to wrestle some of her own demons last night as she tried to fall asleep.

First, she was helping the woman, the bonding was an accident, albeit one of her own doing. ‘She has to understand that much.’ She had reasoned to herself the previous evening. Second, she stayed off every attempt the girl threw at her since that moment. ‘I’ve kept her safe, from herself. I have also kept a reasonable lid on the circumstances. As private as she is, I would imagine she will be grateful.’ Regina had hoped that last part would be true, honestly uncertain of the woman's reaction. Lastly, it was Regina who has had to deal with the mess and the constant barrage of attacks. ‘Knowing how I feel, she has got to give me credit for that. Not to mention she assaulted me in my own kitchen.’ The queen's lips pulled down into a grimace at the memory. ‘Granted my reaction wasn’t entirely of Emma’s own doing.’ She sighed. Still. Hope to retain their peaceful co-parentship was still within grasp. She wouldn’t hope for anything more than that.

She brought up a second mug of coffee with her as she walked up the stairs to her bedroom. It was nearing 7 and although getting things accomplished was much easier while her temporary house mate was unconscious, she wanted to spend as much time with the woman as possible before she lost her. Despite her self reassurances she knew how things went in her life and she was certain the woman would never want to see her again after this.

She put both mugs down on Emma’s side of the bed and sat down next to the sleeping beauty. The morning sun peeking through the balcony doors lit Emma's wild blonde mane like a brilliant gold crown, her peaceful features just enhanced her natural beauty and Regina was awe struck at the sight. She was still breathing deeply, her body still succumbed to the drugs from the night before.

“Emma?” the queen whispered and nudged her gently. “Emma?” her voice soft, but not as quiet. She placed her hand on the sleeping girl's arm. “Em-ma?” this last try stirred the girl. Emma wrinkled her nose and a soft moan escaped from her lips. “Emma honey, it is time to wake up.” She leaned in closer, “Sweetheart, come on.” Emma's eyes blinked open and immediately closed as the rays from the sunrise blinded her sleeping retinas. Regina leaned over Emma's lithe form using her body to block the sun’s offensive assault allowing the girl to open her eyes. Green eyes caught chocolate brown and Emma's face broke into a wide smile. “Regina!” her forest orbs filled with all the love she felt for the woman above her and in that moment Regina's heart panged at the impending loss of the woman. “Hi.” Regina said. “I brought you some coffee dear, we have much to do today, let’s get an early start.” Emma rubbed her eyes clear of sleep and sat up a bit, taking the coffee mug Regina was handing her. “We are staying together today?” the girl asked. The queen smoothly smiled. “Of course dear. I’ll be needing your help.” The dimpled smile was almost heart breaking to the queen. “I’m a good helper.” She said childlike. “Indeed you are Miss Swan.” Regina turned on her phone and texted the girl’s father.

 

Regina: How long will it take you to get the mineral we discussed?

David: I’m at the site now with Henry.

David: We will be back into town within the hour.

Regina: Henry shouldn’t see her this way.

David: I’ve warned him. He can handle it Regina.

Regina: That isn’t the point David. If she does something inappropriate,

She paused before continuing, unsure of how her son could possibly deal with the fact that his beloved White Knight, his birth mother, had no recollection of him whatsoever. She hit send, just unsure of what to say.

David: Talk to her. Tell her not to.

Regina: Really David? If that would work don’t you think I would have done that already?

She sat in silence for several moments, then she returned her attention back to her charge. “Emma. Our… um.. My.. Son will be coming over with David shortly.” She looked into Emma's eyes searching for understanding that just wasn’t there. Emma had her hand rested on the queen’s thigh, slowly stroking the soft cotton fabric against her flesh. Emma licked her lips as she looked into Regina's eyes, not comprehending what the queen was saying in the least. She could only focus on the woman's lips, her soft plump pink lips that just made Emma squirm thinking about kissing them, them kissing her, everywhere. She reached over and put her coffee down and as she leaned over, the queen quickly stood. “Honey, you need to get dressed please, we need to start getting the remedy ready.” Disappointment flushed Emma’s cheeks and she quickly jumped from the bed and grasped out at her desire, taking hold of the brunette’s arm and pulling her into an embrace. She peppered Regina's face with kisses. She held the queen's face between her palms, gently holding her still against her onslaught. “Emma,” the queen got out between pecks. “You need,” her soft kisses were concentrating towards the woman's lips, “To get,” she finally was able to pull herself far enough away from the blonde to finish her sentence “Dressed!” Emma leaned in for one last kiss and covered the woman's mouth, this last kiss was desperate and hard and Regina struggled to pull away from the stronger woman. “Emma!” she finally caught her breath and broke the embrace. “That is enough!” trying to sound the anger within her voice she didn’t quite feel. “Get dressed, we have work to do.” Emma didn’t seem to notice that Regina's voice had anger tinted within it in the slightest. She smiled and pulled their foreheads to touch and whispered, “I love you so much Regina.” The mayor however, couldn’t respond she was chastising herself for allowing the girl to get as far as she did, ‘Just one more instance you gave into her Regina. Love is weakness.’

“Yes dear.” She said quietly. She turned away from the blonde quickly moving as to not get pulled back into another embrace. She dropped some clothes on the bed for Emma and circled widely around the girl. “Get dressed and we will get started.”

 

Regina: Do not let Henry near this house David. I forbid it.

She slipped her phone into her pocket and stepped just outside the door to wait for the blonde to finish up. She left the door ajar so her presence could be seen by the blonde at all times while she changed. She turned and leaned against the door jamb, noticing the reflection of Emma’s naked body in her vanity mirror. The blonde still had bruises all along her jawline, her rib cage had yellowing discoloration and her arms and wrists and now knuckles were torn up and raw. The damage to the savior’s nose from the previous night was an aggravated red but it didn't appear that it would bruise.

The girl hopped a little, pulling up her borrowed yoga pants, they hung off her lithe frame much more prominently than they did the queen. Emma pulled the tee shirt over her head, not bothering with the sports bra she left discarded upon the bed. She was all smiles as she walked towards the door and tried to initiate a hug, Regina immediately turned and started down the stairs.

'Today would be a keep your distance kind of day.' the queen thought to herself. Emma quickly followed her and grabbed ahold of her hand as soon as she caught up.

They entered the kitchen and the mayor poured herself another mug of coffee motioning for Emma to take a seat at the counter. She turned on her phone and dialed Ruby.

“Miss Lucas it is Regina.”

“Yeah, I know, what’s up? Is Emma okay?”

“Yes dear, she is well. We have a cure of sorts, but it will take some time to get the poison out of her system. Remember I asked about Eugena’s tranquilizers? I’m afraid I may need some.”

Silence on the line and Regina thought Ruby would argue the need.

“Miss Lucas?”

“I’m here,” she said quietly. “The cure, it will work, right Gi?”

“I am confident, Ruby.”

The use of Ruby's name, even her cursed name, felt personal to the girl, and although she couldn’t see it, Regina could hear the smile when the girl spoke next.

“You are a good friend Regina, Emma is lucky to have you. I’m on nights tonight, but I can drop off what Granny has later this morning if you like.”

“Thank you Ruby.” She replied to both statements with one sentiment. “We will be here. Beware, she doesn’t seem to remember anyone, but myself.” She looked over at the subject of her discussion, blank eyes staring at her, almost through her. “Just prepare yourself, she isn’t herself.”

“Got it Gi. See you in a few doll! Kiss Kiss!” she made the kissing noise into the phone as well as saying the words. Regina laughed her farewell and closed off the line.

“Ready to get to work Miss Swan?” her voice was much softer than she had intended, but it seemed to have snapped the blonde out of her daze nonetheless. Emma nodded her head and grabbed Regina's hand as she walked past her, following her down to the basement.

Regina measured out bits of ingredients into small glass bowls, handing them to Emma who lined them along the table in order of which they were needed. They made quick work of the preparation and were almost to the bottom of the list when the doorbell rang.

“That must be David.” She turned to make her way upstairs, Emma rushed up behind her and grabbed her hand once more and they made their way upstairs together. Regina opened the door a sliver eying David, standing alone on the porch. She pulled the door open wide and greeted the man holding a blue bucket full of grey shards of rock.

“David.” She said coolly, not entirely over the disagreement over her son earlier that morning. Emma came up behind her, still holding her hand, wrapped her other hand around Regina's waist, kissing the small of her neck. Regina lifted an eyebrow as David's face burned bright red as if to say, “Told you so.” Without saying a word. He cleared his throat, then tentatively asked, “Are you okay?” she pulled her eyebrows tight, more confused at his concern than angry. “Yes David, she will be fine.” He looked down at his daughter's hand wandering over the queen's abdomen. “No, I mean you, Regina. This can’t be easy for you.” She grabbed the blonde's hand before it slipped below her yoga pants in front of her father. “I will live.” She nodded towards the bucket, “Thank you for doing this, she gets irrational when I leave her alone.” David smiled his crooked half smile she’s seen on his daughter's face a hundred times, “Don’t I know it.”

She looked past him, to his truck, her son looking out the passenger window waved at her sadly. She knew he wanted to see his mother's, he missed them as much as Regina missed him, she just couldn’t expose him to his birth mother right now. She knew this would all be over soon, and he would never have the lost look of Emma Swan in his memory as she stared at her son unknowingly. David handed Regina the bucket, she had to remove her hand from Emma's in order to take it, she quickly turned and handed it to Emma, asking her to bring it down stairs for her. A quick nod and the sheriff was off.

She looked past David once more to her son, sitting in the cab of his grandfather's truck. She waved to him over David's shoulder, tears brimming her lashes but not falling. The boy's small hand pressed against the glass. His sad face scrunched into a painful grimace.

David turned looking over at his grandson, “He doesn’t understand.” The queen hugged herself, her eyes windows to her sorrow. “I know. You know this is for the best, David. Just a couple more days.” David turned back to face her, “Days? Really?” she rolled her eyes at him, “Of course, it takes time to leech the toxin from her system David. You can’t possibly be this dense.” He opened his mouth to rebut her accusation but was met with the palm of her hand. “Save it. I’ve got work to do. Take care of my son. Tell him I’ll call him tomorrow.” Before he could respond she turned and closed the door. The ache of missing her son painted across her face.

“What’s wrong baby?” Emma cooed as she walked up to the queen. Regina shook her head, “I miss my son.” She replied honestly. “It’s okay baby, I’m here. We are together and in love. Love heals all Regina.” She smiled wide completely ignoring Regina's loss. “Don’t cry baby.” Emma kissed the brunette on her cheek. Regina pulled back from the girl, before things became too much for her to handle.

Keep her focused Regina.’

The doorbell rang through the foyer startling the mayor. Regina detangled herself further from Emma and answered the door. Ruby’s bright red smile greeted her. “Hi Gi!” she held out a bag of takeout and a hard black case. “Lunch with a side of night night needles.” the younger brunette laughed at her own joke. Regina smiled but looked nervous. It was one thing for David Nolan to witness Emma pawing at her, he understood she was trying to help his daughter, and not that Ruby didn’t, but Regina felt anxious, vulnerable and embarrassed, and none of those feelings were pleasant. She took the bag from Ruby and handed it to the blonde behind her. “Emma,” she turned her head to speak to the girl. “Please take this into the kitchen and set up brunch for us?” Emma took the bag and looked up at Ruby with suspicious eyes as the young brunette smiled wide at her. Emma did as she was asked, looking back at the two women still in the doorway, twice more before she made it into the kitchen.

The smile fell off Ruby's face as the girl glared at her. “She… she… is so….” Regina just hummed, “I know.” Ruby raised her eyebrow, “Does she think… we…?” she flicked her finger between them. Regina just bit her inner cheek and the younger brunette realized, “She has no idea who I am.” It came out as a statement, not a question. Regina nodded, “Nor David.” A look of true concern passed over the young woman’s face. “Oh…” Ruby stepped closer and put her hand on Regina's arm to comfort her. “Jesus Regina! So, you… you are the only one she knows? How? I mean…” the brunette stopped short of finishing her thought.

“Thank god this didn’t turn out how Hook wanted it to.” Regina said plainly. “This could have been so much worse.” Understanding and genuine care crossed Red’s face, she reached out and hugged Regina. “We are all lucky you found her in time. I knew you would find a way to fix this.” She said with honest reverence. Regina nodded solemnly, breaking their embrace. “I knew where to go to find answers, at very least.” The young woman smiled once more, “Hey, that’s half the battle Gi.”

A sound behind them startled both women, Regina turned around to a flash of blonde leaping towards Ruby, “Get away from her you bitch!” she growled fiercely. Shock, confusion and deep hurt crossed Ruby's face. “Wha--?” was all she got out when Emma's fist found Ruby's jaw. “EMMA SWAN!” Regina yelled. She grabbed a hold of Emma, restraining her from further damage to her friend. Her eyes were wild and dark as she fought against the queen. “Emma! No!” Regina said firmly. Ruby held her jaw and backed away just outside the door jamb, beyond where Emma could reach her, yet Regina held her firm. Regina pushed the blonde back deeper into the house. She skidded in her stockinged feet, but came back towards the door with fierce determination. Regina put her hands up as a warning forcing the blonde to look at her. “Miss Swan! NO!” She repeated firmly.

The rage in Emma's eyes made it clear exactly what she thought was going on between her love and the strange brunette, however she slowed her pace towards the women. She lifted her finger to point it right at Ruby, “If I ever see you near her again you fucking home wrecker, I will destroy you.” She spat at the brunette who stood motionless locked into shock at her friends volatile outburst.

Regina held onto the blonde tightly, with a weary voice she said over her shoulder “I’m sorry Miss Lucas. This will be over soon. Leave the sleepy needles on the porch please.” Regina's drained voice snapped Ruby out of her shock induced trance. “S-s-sure Gina, I’ll have someone deliver dinner around 5.” Regina turned her head and nodded. She heard the young wolf walk down the stone steps of her porch and briskly walk out to the gate. She swallowed loudly and took a deep breath steadying herself to handle the young woman in her arms. “Emma,” she started. “Who the fuck was that Regina??” the girl exploded at her. Emma pulled from her hold and paced up and down the foyer. “Is that who you see when you leave? What the actual fuck?” Regina turned and retrieved the package Ruby left on the porch, returning to the house and closed the door. Emma was still pacing and ranting. Regina thought carefully before she spoke. “Emma,” she started once more, “listen to me carefully. Miss Lucas is OUR friend. I know you don’t remember her, but Ruby loves you Emma.”

Emma’s anger drained from her face and was instantly replaced with a blank lost look. Her eyes were unfocused as she stared through Regina.

After a moment the queen started to worry, “Emma?” she questioned but did not get a reply, the queen stepped forward concern written across her face, she grasped Emma’s upper arms and shook her just a little, pulling herself into the savior’s line of sight. “Emma?! Answer me honey you are scaring me.” Emma nodded slightly, but her blank expression did not fade. Regina enclosed the girl’s thin hand in her own, “Let's go have some brunch baby.” Using the girl's own endearment in hopes to snap the woman out of her daze. The savior nodded blankly once more, but followed Regina who towed her into the kitchen.

The queen led Emma to sit down on one of the stools, rubbing the small of her back as she spoke, “Let’s see what we’ve got, shall we?” She opened the bag pulling out two containers of pancakes, setting one in front of Emma and the other before the empty stool next to Emma. Ruby had packed up plastic forks, little pads of butter and individual packed syrup. Regina put on a wide soothing smile before coaxing the woman to eat up, which she did without hesitation, but also without comment.

Regina raked her fingers into the girl’s blonde locks, pulling her close, kissing the crown of her head as she had done a million times to their son in that very spot. “How is it, baby?” she whispered into the woman’s ear. Emma shoveled the last bite into her mouth and wrapped her arm around Regina's waist pulling herself into the queen's core. “I love you Regina.” Relief filled the queen as it seemed Emma's daze had finally broken, she pet the girl's head as she hung onto her tightly. “I know you do sweetheart.” She replied simply, pleased to have Emma calm and relatively back to normal.

She sat on the stool next to Emma and daintily ate her own brunch, Emma's smiling face completely focused on her the entire meal. Once she was finished she initiated the hand holding Emma was so fond of and led the girl down to the basement to make the potion.