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The Forest

Chapter Text

As Regina finally joined the conscious world she found herself frightened and disoriented as she opened her eyes and saw the dark branches that let only a small amount of moon light through. She sat up, legs straight out in front of her as she made a mental checklist of any injures that she may have obtained while unconscious. For the most part she was unharmed, a few superficial scratches here and a couple of bruises there, there was one injury though that had her especially worried. There was a rather large gash on her left side, and when she rotated it felt as though a couple of the ribs there were badly bruised if not broken.

Regina knew that if her wound was not treated sooner rather than later that there were a number of nasty infections that she could fall victim to and so with that thought Regina gritted her teeth and stood up brushing the dirt and leaves of her simple black leather riding pants and white blouse.

Being that smart once queen that she was, Regina knew that she must pick a direction to walk and stick with it. By using the moss on the trees to gain her bearings and then in a quick decision set off toward the north, hoping to find the nearest settlement.

She walked for about five minutes before she heard a woman's cry, the sudden sound made her quickly come to a stop. The sound had frightened her, she had been so wrapped up in her own pondering that she had not even realized the forests lack of it's usually cacophony of sound. She stood there amongst the forests dark foliage for a few moments more, in hopes that if she could hear the cry once more she would be able to travel in the general location from whence it originated and hopefully find shelter.

After about two minutes Regina tired of waiting and took off, continuing her previous path towards the North.

As she walked, Regina searched for some sign of a break in the trees but remained disappointed with each sweep of her eyes. All she could see was the same old scene time after time as she swiveled gaze, left to right.

It had been about twenty minutes since the first time the woman's plaintive cry reached her ears, when she once more heard the mournful sound. This time Regina was able to hear the general direction from whence the cry came and so with no hesitation Regina turned around and began to back track frantically listening for another sob.

Regina let out a scream of frustration as the sound of the woman was emitted from somewhere behind her. Regina stopped and waited for the sound adamant that she would not move until she once again heard the cry. She did not have to wait for long for it was not even a minute before the wail once again sounded this time though it was not a single outburst; it was followed by a heavy sobbing.

Regina quickly took off North, in the direction of sobbing. She felt a small ball of hope build within her as the cries grew louder and louder with each graceful stride.

After about two minutes of tracking the sound Regina arrived at the edge of a clearing. She slowed her steps as she entered the clearing. The first thing she noticed was a beautiful woman kneeling at the edge of a calm crystal clear pond. The woman was clad in a white dress that was fluttering around her. The woman's golden blonde locks too, fluttered in the wind.

As Regina approached her, her voice was lost as she tried to announce her presence. Walking up to the ponds edge Regina could almost see the sobbing woman's face. It wasn't until she came to a stop next to the figure was she able to see the woman's reflection clearly. She took a step back once she processed what she had saw, her body filled with terror. She slowly backed away, quietly as to not alert the weeping woman, but her plans of a silent escape flew out the window when her foot landed on a branch. The resulting crack though not loud in ordinary circumstances echoed growing louder and louder. Almost immediately the woman's head snapped up and her eyes locked on to Regina's frozen body. Regina just stood there as the woman slowly rose and strode towards her. Regina's heart drummed a swift beat inside of her heaving chest as the woman closed the distance.

Just as the woman reached her, Regina her raspy voice holding no doubt, breathlessly spoke just a few words, "Nai. I must be."

Chapter Text

The woman's touch was gentle against Regina's heaving bosom. It's that gentle caress that alleviates Regina's fear of the wild woman standing in front of her. Now that the woman was right in front of Regina, Regina realizes that what she at first believed to be blood splattered and smeared across the ivory skin of the mysterious blonde, was in fact only mud which had probably splashed the wild woman's face when she had knelt down in front of the crystal pond.

There was also another reason that Regina's fear melted away as easily as it did and that was because when Regina gazed at the mud covered face, of the woman standing in front of her , their eyes locked leaving neither able to look away even if they had wished too. It was then when Regina realized why she felt an air of familiarity envelope the space surrounding her and the grimy, but yet still more beautiful than any queen could ever wish to be, woman. The figure in front of her was one for whom she had searched what seemed to be a lifetime for. The creäture standing mere inches away was the woman who Regina trusted completely, the woman who Regina from first sight knew would forever be in heart, the woman once promised her eternal love despite her upcoming engagement to the royal asshole and the fact that she was technically her stepmother.

"Emma…" she trailed, a thick emotion blocking her normally strong unwavering voice. Tears cascaded down her face as she quickly enveloped the honeyed blonde in a warm embrace. Emma at first stiffened and then attempted to wiggle from Regina's grasp, no longer used to a warm embrace, but as Regina's arms held steadfast around her she was suddenly aware of a feeling, whose name she was no longer certain, which caused her to mimic the actions of the brunette and bask in the warmth their mutual embrace gave off.

The two maintained their fervent embrace for several minutes before the blonde wrenched herself away from Regina and quickly disappeared through the thick packet of trees. The sudden departure left Regina in state of confusion which took her several second to break free from, but once the fog of confusion dissipated and Regina came to her senses and took off following her once lover.

"Emma, don't go!" Regina screamed as she attempted to catch up to the wild woman.

Regina's skin ripped and leaked as she forced her way through the forests thick foliage in attempts to catch up to the fleeing princess. Regina's muscles strained from exertion as she ran blindly through the forest unsure of her destination. Despite her uncertainty of the forests floor plan still Regina ran faster and longer than ever before as she headed in the direction that Emma ran.

Emma knew of Regina's pursuit the years of self-reliance in the treacherous forest had heightened her senses. She could hear the brunettes clumsy foot falls, the twigs breaking as she passed by, the frightened sounds of the animals startled out of their homes by her noisy passing. She decided to head to her shelter despite the brunettes following. The grimy woman for a reason she did not know trusted her purser and wished to protect her knowing that if the woman was left out in the middle of the forest alone that she would be dead by sunrise, for even the most hardened of warriors had perished while trekking through the woods. They had all met their end in the jaws of the beast and Emma could not even bear to think of the brunette's death and so she made her way home darting in and out of the trees, stopping every once in a while to make sure that the taller woman was still behind her.

Regina followed the woman so focused on tracking the honeyed blonde that she did not even notice when the blonde came to a standstill, stopping in front of a cave placed, in a large rock formation, several feet above her head. She was knocked to the ground by the sudden impact created by her speeding body crashing into Emma's still one. With all the breath knocked out of Regina's chest from the hard fall, it took her a moment to regroup and realize what it was that she had crashed in to. A hand reached down and clasped Regina's and with a gentle strength pulled the lanky woman, with sun kissed skin, to her feet. All Regina could offer the woman was a dimpled smile, her words all gone.

After the smile Regina slowly spun around taking in her surroundings, Emma had led her to a small clearing with large blankets of flowers carpeting the ground and with walls of trees lining three fourths of the clearings edge and a large wall of rock forming a wall that protected the remaining edge. The rock wall seemed as though it reached the sky, it was a primarily solid piece of nature with only a few cracks, and one large opening which in a few moments Regina would discover that it was going to be her shelter for tonight and many nights after that.

After Regina finished her survey she noticed a tugging at her arm. Regina looked at Emma's face attempting to decipher what the blonde was trying to express to her through her actions. Emma with a soundless huff pulled even harder on Regina's arms while motioning to the opening above their heads. Regina lifted her sight to the cave before questioning the grubby woman, "Emma do you want us to go up there? Is that what you want?" Regina's voice was soft like one that you would use when talking to a frightened child.

Emma cocked her head to the side taking in the long forgotten sounds, trying to interpret their order and what they meant. Regina stood there patiently, something quite out of character for her, waiting for her princess to figure out her words and their meaning. Suddenly recognition filled Emma's beautiful jade eyes and she nodded eagerly as she pointed to the cave. Jane gave out another dimpled smile at the golden blondes antics before nodding and allowing herself to be pulled by the shorter woman. Emma led the once queen northwest towards the trees following a path unknown to Regina.

"Where are you taking me?" Regina asked with a chuckle still unable to believe that her princess, her friend, her confidante, the daughter of her mortal enemy, her lover, her Emma was there pulling her along. Emma remained silent, leading Regina along the path to shelter.

When the two reached the shelter Emma pushed Regina inside following her but only after she pulled a branch over the opening to mask their presence. Once Emma was satisfied that they would not be discovered began to make a fire for if they went without one it was highly likely that the two would freeze to death. After the fire was rubbed and stroked into becoming a roaring inferno she turned to the brunette, who had been watching her every move, and motioned towards the myriad of lacerations tainting the woman's bronzed skin and then towards to a bundle of bandages that she had pulled from deeper with in the cave. Regina almost instantaneously with little thought needed, understood the princess's intentions and nodded her consent allowing the woman to begin the process of wiping away the blood with a damp piece of fabric before determining whether or not they would require further help healing. The cuts that Emma decided to deep to leave open she covered with the swathes of fabric.

The light caresses of Emma's hands as she wrapped some of Regina's larger wounds distracted Regina from any pain or discomforts. They were better then any spells she once could have cast to remove her pain. Those touches relaxed her with remindings of happier times, to the point of slumber which Regina allowed herself to succumb with little resistance. Regina wasn't the only one taking pleasure in the gentle touches, Emma loved the affects her hands seemed to have on the taller woman as they worked to cover her lacerations. It was only when Emma had cleaned and wrapped the last injury did she notice that Regina had fallen asleep. There was something about the woman's sleeping face that caused Emma to be filled with an emotion with which she had been oh so familiar. Perhaps it was the way the sharp features seemed to soften, or maybe it was the way her eyes danced behind closed lids hinting at her dreams, or possibly it was the fact that this strange woman felt so comfortable in her lap that she allowed herself to be in such a vulnerable state, that caused Emma to experience those feelings or perhaps it was a combination of those three, but whatever it was Emma did not mind. In fact she found herself following the brunettes lead and drifting off to the land of dreams.

That night Regina dreamed of the last contact before now that she had shared with her dear princess. It had been a note written in fear, anger, and uncertainty. A letter she would always regret. She could still remember each and every letter written.

Emma,

Faith… that is an interesting word. It's not a long word, it only has five letters, but when you combine those five letters in that certain pattern, you produce a word that holds too much power.

Faith it has the power to both heal and to hurt. I thought my faith in you was justified but now I am beginning to believe that my faith may be misplaced. I have given you so much and all that I ask for in return is for you to have faith in me. Why is it that you cannot seem to find even a little bit of trust for me? Do you not have any left? Has this world stolen it all from you? Has the terrors that plague your dreams frightened it away? Is there a way for me to restore your faith? These questions terrorize me; they make it impossible to sleep without the aid of the liquid in this bottle that sits beside me. I want to help. I want to save you. Why won't you let me?

Save… that too is an interesting word. What does it truly mean to save someone? Is it even feasible? My mind screams no, but my heart has a voice that is even louder and that voice begs me to try. With that said, one's heart can only shout for so long until the mind over takes it and my heart is losing its voice. I intend to save you, often fear that I may be too feeble to fend off your aggressors. This fear consumes me. I hope that I can with stand whatever it takes for you to love me.

Hope… another curious word. The definition of hope or what I remember my mother to have said it to be is, believing that it might be true or that it might happen. She always emphasized might. She also liked to tell me that I was utterly incompetent and that no one would ever want me.

I am not sure why I am writing this… I am not sure that you will even take the time to open this letter, let alone read its contents. You will probably just brush it off to the side, once you have read the senders name. Even if you do read this, you will probably use it to humiliate me. To expose me to your parents. Maybe though… you will take the time to read my words and maybe you will realize that you feel this way too.

I hope… there that word is again, that you will read this. That you will understand this, me, what I am trying to convey to you. I would say this to your face, but if I did, I would lose my nerve. I would probably stumble over my words and you would just stand there with that smirk and the mischievous light that dances behind your dark eyes. So yes, professing my affections is probably best done by written word not messy verbal conversation. And even if you feel not as I do, maybe this letter will entertain you. I feel like I am running in circles, my thoughts are so jumbled that I am having a hard time writing them all down, but I will persevere.

I am leaving… I thought you should know. I am going somewhere, not sure exactly where, I am leaving tonight I know that much. The best-case scenario the on that, I can barely even let myself hope for is that you will be there, at the town's edge, waiting… for me, beg me not to go. You'll be there looking like a complete mess, too upset by the thought of me riding away forever to care about your running mascara, your smudged lipstick, or your unkempt hair and your disheveled clothing. I hope that, that is not just wishful thinking.

The more likely scenario is that you will be excited about my departure and that the only grief or aggravation you will feel will be caused by the fact you will be forced to find a new whipping boy and not anger and confusion as to why I left. I am sorry for any inconvenience this will cause you, any added hours at court. I would love to stay, to be here with you even if you hate me, but running is what I am good at, it is all I know. Maybe you will change that… probably you will not.

You have probably stopped reading this by now, if you ever started, but in case you are let me say this once more, I want to help you be who you were meant to be, I want to save you from the darkness you say consumes you, I want to be the only one that you let comfort you in the stormy night, I want to heal you from the pain of your past, I want to protect you from the demons that chase you relentlessly, I want to feel your body's heat against mine as I stave off the nights cold, I want to love you. I just want to love you… let me in… let me in my future queen and I promise you will not regret it. Let me save you as you have saved me.

-RM

Regina dreamt that a tear rolled down her cheek and fell to the parchment with a small splash, before waking up to the new day sun, cheeks wet and hope present.

Regina wasn't the only dreaming of the past that night, for Emma too viewed memories in the glass of slumber. Her dream though more light and playful.

In Emma's dream she was walking through a meadow, not a tree within miles of her as she ran her hands through the golden grains that she passed as she made her way to the center of the field. Upon arriving at her destination she was greeted with the sight of a slender but fit person who she immediately recognized as her lover. She ran to Regina who greeted her with a fierce hug.

"I missed you," Emma said softly, her face buried in Regina's chest, "you were gone for so long, I almost began to lose hope of ever reuniting…" Emma trailed of too overcome with emotion.

Regina just shook her head and whispered in her lover's ear "I will never leave you again. If I am ever forced away, I assure that I will always return to you, I will always find you even if it takes me a million years. I will never give up." Regina vowed her voice wavering with strong emotion.

"But Reg-" Emma said only to be interrupted by Regina

"Emma you're not listening. I will always be there for you. I swear not even god himself could take me away.Let alone this stupid feud with your parents." At these words Emma lifted her head from its position on Regina's firm chest and with no hesitation pressed her lips against Regina's attempting to convey everything with that one kiss. And then Emma whispered seductively in Regina's ear "My queen how about you prove you love to me?" her beautiful face grinning in happiness.

"As you wish milady." Regina replied with a dimpled grin as she laid Emma on the ground and left a trail of kiss down her stomach.