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Regina slowly sat up after the blast of the trigger blew her backwards.  Her head was pounding and she felt utterly exhausted.  Between being cut off from her magic by the bracelet, tortured almost to death at the hands of Greg and then funnelling every bit of magic she had recovered into slowing and then destroying the trigger, she had nothing left and all she wanted to do was to sleep for a week.  Her magic was drained and would take at least a few days to recover to a somewhat normal level and all she could think about was checking that Henry was okay, then crawling into her bed and closing her eyes.  She may be the Evil Queen, but even queens had their limits and hers had been sorely tested in the last twenty four hours.  It didn’t help that the knowledge that it was all her fault, yet again, was swirling inside her aching mind.

She glanced over to where the small group of people who had come to save her were climbing to their feet.  Snow White, Charming, Henry and, of course, Emma.  No rescue is complete without the Savior, she thought bitterly.  Henry had called her a hero, and while it warmed her heart to have her son think of her that way, she knew she wasn’t a hero.  She was the villain who had made it all possible once again.  Without her, there would have been no need for a hero to save Storybrooke and its people.

Snow and Charming were hugging, both of them laughing and whispering to each other, relief evident in the sound.  Probably happy they don’t have to ‘find’ each other again.  Regina rolled her eyes and then winced at the pain that had ricocheted through her head.

Regina watched as Emma put her hand out for Henry to grab and pulled him to his feet.  She watched as his arms wrapped around the blondes waist and held her tightly.  She watched as Charming and Snow joined the pair in a family hug.  All of them seemingly oblivious to the lone woman still sat on the ground.  Oblivious to her desire to be a part of it, to belong. To belong to anyone… Someone.  A name whispered at the edge of her mind and she ruthlessly shut it out.  She would deny that desire with her dying breath. 

Her relief at seeing that no one was harmed, especially Henry, was tinged with an emotion she refused to examine.  They were a family and despite their earlier claims, she could never be a part of it.  She would always be on the outside because she was the villain. She had caused this, had almost cost Henry his whole family because of her selfishness.  She didn’t deserve to be a part of that family.  She never would. Like I care.

Slowly she realised that one member of that family was looking at her, had remembered she was there.  Green eyes locked onto brown and Emma smiled slightly at her.  She broke away from the group and walked over to where the queen still sat.  Behind her, Snow was checking Henry over, making sure he wasn’t injured in any way.

Emma stopped in front of her, blocking Henry and Snow from her sight.  She reached out her hand, the same hand that had just helped their son to his feet.  Emma grinned, “Well, that thing certainly packed a punch.”

“Of course, Ms. Swan.  I never do anything in half measures.”  Regina clasped the warm palm and allowed the Savior to pull her to her feet.  She felt dizzy as a static charge shot through her and gasped, pulling her hand free.  Her mind fogged over for a moment and she shook her head to clear it.  She shook off the dizziness, straightening her stance and quickly glanced at Emma to see if she had felt anything but the blonde was still looking at her with an amused expression.

“Never said you did.”  Emma’s brow creased in a frown.  “You don’t have any more of those things, do you?  Because right now I don’t have the energy to swat a fly, let alone stop some other town destroying thing. I could really do with a break.”

Regina raised an eyebrow, “Do you really think I would tell you, of all people, if I did, Savior?”  Her lips twitched in a smile as Emma rolled her eyes.  “But you’re safe for the rest of the day, possibly up to a week because you are not the only one who finds herself needing a break.”

Emma just shook her head, “Come on, your Majesty.  I think we both need a stiff drink and then to crawl into bed.”

Regina raised an eyebrow and smirked at the accidental double meaning behind those words.  Unable to resist the chance to rattle the Sheriff’s cage, even feeling as bad as she did, she leaned forward into Emma’s personal space, “An interesting proposition, Ms. Swan, but I assure you, you aren’t my type.  Though, of course, the alcohol may help there.  None the less, even if you were, I just don’t have the energy for it.”  With that, she started to walk away down the tunnel towards her son and the exit.

Emma frowned in confusion and then what the brunette had said sunk in.  Her face burning, she spluttered, “Wait!  I didn’t mean… Separately!  I meant…”  She heard Regina’s chuckle float back down the tunnel and scowled at the retreating woman.  “Whatever.”  She murmured to herself then moved over to her parents who were looking at her with amused looks on their faces.

“What?”

Mary Margaret just shook her head, “Nothing.”

Emma rolled her eyes, “You know I didn’t mean it how it sounded.  She…  She just twists everything I say.”

“She does know how to get under your skin.” Her father agreed.  “Come on, let’s go home.”  Snow White and Charming headed out of the tunnel, following the mother and son ahead of them.  Emma stood still for a moment replaying what Regina had said.  Not her type.  Like I even want to be her type. Finally shook her head and started to stomp after her family, muttering to herself, “Not that I even care, but I would so be her type.”


3 days later

Regina looked around, what had once been her pristine kitchen, but was now filled with smoke, melted appliances, singed cupboards and a blackened bench. All she had tried to do was make herself a cup of tea, it was about all her stomach could handle these days, and as she had switched on the kettle, it had lit up like a fire ball and exploded.  Luckily the water had still been cold as it had splattered her from head to waist.  Unfortunately whatever had caused it had taken the toaster and microwave with it.

She had grabbed the fire extinguisher and put out the flames before they could get any worse and had then opened the windows to let the smoke out and now she just stood there staring at the mess.

If this had been a lone occurrence she could have easily passed it off as a faulty appliance, dangerous yes, but faulty. Unfortunately it wasn’t.  This was the third time something had gone haywire after she touched it and it was getting worse.

First it has been the light bulb in the foyer when she had returned home after destroying the trigger.  She’d walked into the house alone, Henry had elected to spend the night with his birth mother, and switched on the light which had hummed and grown brighter and then burst, raining glass down on her and the floor.  She’d put it off as just bad timing, the light bulb was on the old side.  She’d cleaned up the mess and had forgotten about it, her mind filled with other things.

Next had been yesterday, when she had dragged herself into the shower after a second night of disturbed and broken sleep.  After she had washed and then dried herself, she’d switched on the hairdryer to dry her hair.  After a few seconds it had heated up in her hand to the point that it burned and she had dropped it to the floor where it had spit sparks and then died.

And now the damned kettle.  She could no longer delude herself, something wasn’t right.  Something wasn’t right with her.  She was still exhausted and despite her magic returning slowly to her, she felt drained.  Her head constantly ached. Nightmares had plagued her the last three nights, and then today the nightmares had followed her into her waking moments.  Her memories, long suppressed, coming to haunt her in vivid colour.  Sucking her in, forcing her to watch and then spitting her back out with no control over it, no way to stop it from happening.  One moment she was fully conscious, the next, dragged under, fighting not to relive what had once been.  She was losing control.

After the last one she had hoped to soothe her nerves with her favourite tea, and then the kitchen had exploded.  It’s getting worse.  If Henry had been home… And almost as if her thought had summoned him, Regina heard the front door open and then slam close.  “Mom?  Are you ok?  I smell smoke.”  Footsteps were headed towards the kitchen.

Regina moved and headed out the doorway, closing it behind her.  She couldn’t let him see the damage she had wrought.  She knew, she just knew it was her fault, that she had caused it.  Too many things had happened for it not to be her fault.  “Henry.”  She forced a smile to her face, “Good day at school?”

Henry looked up at his mother, soot streaked across her cheeks.  “What happened?  Was there a fire?  Did someone try to hurt you?” 

Regina watched the concern flitter across her son’s face.  She couldn’t let him worry.  She couldn’t let him know that anything was wrong.  “What do you mean?”

Henry rolled his eyes, “You have soot on your cheeks and I can smell smoke and burning plastic.”

Regina self-consciously reached up and tried to wipe away the soot away but only ended up smearing it further.  “Oh, that?  Nothing to worry about, dear.  Just a small fire in the kitchen.  I think the kettle had a loose wire.  I’ve taken care of it, nothing to worry about.”

Henry frowned, his concern growing deeper.  He’d been watching his mom for the last couple of days, ever since he had returned from Emma’s and had noticed she still looked tired despite having spent most of the last few days in bed.  She’d only come downstairs to cook dinner for them and she’d hardly eaten anything on her plate, had just pushed it around.  “Mom…”

Regina made her smile bigger, trying to show that everything was okay even though it was clear that everything was not.  “It’s okay.  Nothing that cannot be replaced but I think it best if you spend a few days with Ms. Swan while I get the kitchen repaired.”

“I thought it was just the kettle.”  As he spoke, he moved around his mother and headed towards the kitchen.

Regina turned to follow him. “Henry!” She snapped, not wanting her son to see the mess she had created.  “I said everything is fine.  I do not want you in there because it could be dangerous.” 

Henry ignored her and started to push the door open and caught a glimpse of the devastation before the door was pulled out of his hands and closed.  “That’s not a little…”

“Enough.”  Regina could feel herself vibrating with fear that she quickly masked as anger.  “You will do as I say and go stay with your other mother for a few days.  Everything will be back to normal by then.”  She fought to keep the fear from her face, using anger as a buffer.  She hoped that everything would settle down by then.  That this was just a byproduct of a horrible twenty four hour period but fear was clawing at her stomach, afraid that it was so much worse than she imagined.  Henry could have been hurt.  That thought kept pinging through her mind so she needed him as far away as possible from the danger, from her, while she figured it out.

Henry glared at her.  “Fine.  Whatever.  Just remember I’m not a little kid anymore.”  He ran out of the room and up the stairs.  She could hear him throwing things into a bag and knew he was angry with her but she couldn’t risk it, couldn’t risk having him hurt or worse, hurting him herself.

She heard him stomp back down the stairs and she moved to meet him, attempting to lessen any damage her fear-driven anger had caused.  “Please.  Just a few days, Henry.”

Henry looked at her, his brow creased in the middle with a frown so like his birth mothers.  “I’m not a little kid.  You don’t have to try and protect me from whatever it is that’s happening.”

“I know that, darling.  I just need you to be safe.  It may not have been the kettle. It could be faulty wiring or…” Regina faltered for a second. “Or something else and I just…  I need you to be safe.  Please try and understand that.”

Henry continued to stare at his mother for a moment, taking in the bruised shadows under her eyes, the pale colour of her face, the eyes dull with fatigue.  He didn’t believe her for a second that she was afraid of bad wiring but she was definitely afraid of something and that’s why he relented.  He knew badgering her wouldn’t get her to tell him what was wrong.  He also didn’t think leaving her alone was a good idea.  What he needed was a new approach.

“Ok, Mom.”  He reached out and wrapped his arms around her, hugging her tightly.  “Love you.”

Regina hugged him back, blinking away the tears his words had caused.  “I love you too, Henry.  Always.”  She leaned down and kissed his forehead.  “I’ll see you in a few days.  Be good for Emma.”

“Catch you later, Mom.”  He opened up the front door and headed outside, closing it after himself.  “Time for a new operation, I think.  Will have to come up with a name and I know just person to help me with it.”  He took off running down the street.

As the door closed, Regina felt herself crumble to the floor.  She leaned against the door, drawing her knees up to her chest and resting her head on them.  She felt the tears flow hotly down her face.  Henry was safe and she…  She was afraid she was losing her mind.