Wind whipped around the room, increasing with every second. Henry’s grip on the doorway tightened as the wind escalated, battering him and trying to drive him backwards. Anything lightweight had been picked up and was now swirling around the vortex that held his mothers. He could barely make out the woman at the centre of it, a fiercely blinding white glow emanating from her. It was only the colour of the magic that allowed him to know which parent he could see.
His brunette mother was still hidden from his view, that white glow preventing him from seeing just where she was. He tried to move away from the doorway and further into the room, desperate to see his mom, to see that she was ok. He found himself, once again, restrained by Snow’s hold and she had to lean down, talking into his ear to be heard over the growing howl of the wind, “It’s too dangerous, Sweetie.”
The logical part of him understood what his grandmother was saying but he was only twelve and logic sucked in his opinion. All he wanted to do was make sure his moms were ok and being told that he couldn’t did not sit well with him at all. He turned his head to argue, “But-"
Snow cut him off, not unkindly but with enough deterrence in her voice to let him know she would not be swayed. “No, Henry. It’s far too dangerous for anyone to venture in there. Whatever is going on is only getting stronger and soon it won’t just be paper being blown around.” As if to hammer home her point, the desk started to slowly move away from the source of the vortex, under the force of the wind.
Henry frowned, still wanting to argue. This was his mothers they were talking about so he challenged, “But we can’t just stand here and do nothing.”
As much as it pained Snow White to stand and do exactly that, she had to put Henry’s safety above her own desire to rush into the room, safety be damned, and see for herself that her only daughter was alive and well. Emma had to be alright, Charming had said as much so she had to believe, didn’t she? “It’s all we can do, Sweetie. Emma is with your mom, they’ll be ok.” She hoped she wasn’t setting Henry, or herself, up for heartache though, because she didn’t understand what was happening in that room. Regina had been injured, David had alluded to that much, so just what was going on in there?
She had observed magic for a good part of her life, especially by her ex-step mother’s hand, and the power filling that room now was like nothing she had ever experienced before. Call it a mother’s intuition or not, but some part of her knew the magic was coming from her daughter. She had been aware that Emma possessed magic, had seen the evidence when the trigger had been stopped but she had never suspected this extreme. That frightened her a little because she’d never wanted that burden for her child, never wanted the pressure that can come with having such an innate ability to do magic. Despite that fear, she had to believe Emma knew what she was doing, that she was in control of all that magic because the alternative... The alternative could end in utter disaster.
Snow felt David move up closer behind her, reaching out either side to brace the trio in the doorway, trying to keep them in place but it was getting harder and harder to do. The almost gale force winds that were now coursing throughout the house held small items that were fast becoming missiles wreaking havoc wherever they struck and it was only a matter of time before something hit the small group so David decided they had to retreat to safety.
“Come on, we can’t stay here. It’s getting too dangerous.” He yelled over the noise and before he had even finished he could see Henry glancing up at him, about to argue. “Your moms wouldn’t want you in danger, Henry. We have to move. I don’t want to leave any more than you do but we can’t stay here. What would you moms think if you stayed and were injured? They would blame themselves, especially your mom.” David was aware this was a little bit of emotional blackmail but they didn’t have time to argue. He needed Henry to move without a fight. “As soon as this stops, we can come back in but we have to go now.” He tugged Snow and Henry backwards, the boy giving in without a fight, much to his grandfather’s relief. They ducked and moved away from the swirling vortex towards the front door, debris now flying past them with enormous power and speed.
Once outside, it was almost a relief to be away from the screaming wind which seemed to be strangely confined to the house. Without the noise and battering they became acutely aware of the steady pulse of incredibly strong power that seemed to be vibrating right through them and then spreading out to the town, much like ripples in a pond when a pebble is dropped into it. They remind Snow of a heartbeat, a heartbeat carrying the emotions of the magical source out into the world.
Emma was oblivious to everything outside of the two of them. She had no idea of the chaos she was creating that raged around her, her sole focus on the woman in her arms and the dwindling connection between them.
She could feel herself overflowing with magic, more than she had ever felt before and still the power was continuing to grow within her so why wasn’t it enough? Work, damn it. Fix her! She tried to focus on getting the magic wherever she needed it to go but her inexperience was letting her down. She could feel some of it moving down the tiny connection but lost track of it once it reached the other end, reached Regina. She was trying to hold on to the hope that she was giving enough direction to it but she didn’t think so and her frustration was leeching that hope from her. Sorrow was slowly becoming the dominant emotion in her aching heart, that hope she had been clinging to dwindling as she continued to feel nothing coming back to her from the dying connection.
As the overwhelming sorrow finally eclipsed her hope, Emma felt the hold she had on the strands of their connection slip and fear bloomed bright within her, snapping her out of her slide into melancholy. No! She’s still there. I know it, I feel it. I would know if… She mentally shook herself and refocused, letting the love she had for Regina become her driving emotion. She could do this, while there was still a sliver of their connection left Regina was still here, which meant that Emma would not quit. Never.
Throughout the town, people had stopped whatever they were doing. Everyone could feel the deep beats of magic pulsing through them and it was strong enough that it could not be ignored. It didn’t feel bad or evil, in fact it felt suspiciously like hope which was unexpected. While not exactly afraid yet, they were story book characters from the enchanted forest after all, magic had once been a common enough occurrence, they did wonder where it was coming from and why? Who was responsible for it? What did it mean? Unfortunately, no answers were forthcoming so they were left with their curiosity unanswered.
Cars had stopped in the middle of the street, those walking along the sidewalk had also paused, wondering what was happening. In the diner, people had stopped eating, looking at each other as they felt that faint feeling of hope wash through them time and time again.
Ruby glanced at her grandmother, who shrugged in response. The young wolf pulled her phone out of her pocket with the intention of calling Emma to see if the Sheriff knew anything about the weirdness but that feeling of hope drained away before she could, giving in to a deep seeded sorrow and it was all she could do not to break down at the foreign devastation in her chest.
She frowned, wishing the hope would come back because this sadness really wasn’t fun to experience. Who was feeling like this? What the hell was going on? She glanced around the room, seeing the same frown that marred her features on faces all around the diner, tears in the eyes of some of her patrons. Those close to loved ones sought comfort in hugs, those alone put hands to chest, trying to ease the heartache that had arrived with the magic.
Unfortunately her wish came true, a new beat brought a terrifying new emotion and it had Ruby and the rest of the town afraid of what was to come.
Everything was so cold and dark. Am I dead? Regina’s question went unanswered which irritated her but didn’t exactly surprise the brunette as there was no one else here with her. She wondered whether this was what happened when you died. Did you just exist in this cold and empty vacuum or was this a special hell just for the Evil Queen?
She detested it, the vast nothingness giving far too much freedom for her past to try to come and haunt her. Here in this cold dark hell, her demons were waiting to consume her if she let them. She heard her mother laughing coldly, telling her that love had brought her here, had cost her everything. That she had ignored her lessons, that she been weak and look what it had achieved. She tried to block her mother out, tried to focus on something else, anything else than the bitter and twisted words of a woman who was supposed to love her and instead had almost destroyed her but without Emma’s light, without her support, she wasn’t sure she could quieten that voice.
No! She would not let her mother win any more. If this was to be her future, if this was to be her end then she would fill it with better thoughts, better memories than the ones trying to crowd in. She might not have as many good memories as bad, but she did have them. They were worth everything to her and she would use them to protect herself from the worst aspects of her grim past.
She forced her mind away from the enveloping darkness to think of Henry and the fear she had been feeling shifted into sadness and longing which, while not ideal, was certainly better than the tainted influence of her mother. She felt the good memories of her son whirling around her, begging to be relived but she couldn’t quite hold on to them yet, thoughts of what she would now miss out on much stronger for the moment.
She hated that she wouldn’t get to see him grow up, wouldn’t get to see him go to prom, wouldn’t get to see him graduate. She would miss seeing him fall in love, miss him getting married if he chose to. She would miss seeing him become a father and her heart ached with that bitter disappointment but given the chance, she still wouldn’t change her sacrifice, her decision. So while it hurt so much to know what she would miss, she would still give it all up without question so that Emma would live.
Of course that didn’t mean that Regina was ready to quit fighting just yet. She was stuck in this limbo and it irritated the Queen no end. She desperately wanted to fight for him, she wanted to fight to stay and live and experience everything that the future now held, she wanted to stay for Henry…. For Emma, she just didn’t know how. There was nothing here but thoughts and memories for her to cling to, nothing for her to climb back to the land of the living.
Her mind shifted to Emma. To have only just acknowledged her love for the blonde and to lose her seemed like the cruelest joke fate could play on her. She laughed bitterly to herself, not an ounce of humor in it. Maybe it had been foolish to think that a once Evil Queen would get to enjoy any happiness she found but she had so wanted to believe. At least I am not dying alone and unloved. I was loved, and no one can take that away from me now.
In the vast emptiness she realised she could choose to focus on her sins, on everything she had done wrong or she could focus on the small glimmers of goodness in her life, on the people she loved. She chose love, how could she not? She let that start to fill the void, to surround herself with the love of her son and his mother while she waited for whatever came next.
Don’t die. I need you. I love you. Please. Don’t die. I need you. I love you. Please. Don’t die. I need you. I love you. Please… The words were filling all of her thoughts and had become her mantra, pleading with the woman in her arms to not leave her.
Nothing was changing, nothing seemed to be working. Emma wasn’t exactly losing the battle for her lover but she wasn’t winning either. She was funneling as much magic down the weakened connection into Regina as she could and nothing was changing which meant she had to change what she was doing, had to try something else but what?
She was using the connection and maybe that was the problem. The connection was so deteriorated that maybe it just couldn’t do what she needed it to do. There had to be another way. Almost as soon as she thought it, she pictured herself holding one hand over the other, mending the cut to her palm. Could that work? Gonna find out.
Emma moved the arm that was supporting Regina so that, while it still cradled her, she could place her palm to the brunette’s left temple. The arm that wasn’t supporting Regina moved over the brunette’s heart, her hand settling there. Don’t die. I need you. I love you. Please. Her hands glowed white with power and she watched as that energy, that magic she had summoned sunk into Regina. More and more, she pushed. Everything she had, with everything that she ever hoped to be. Everything for this woman she loved. She could feel a sob desperate to escape and she kept it down, kept it under control, using it to fuel her.
She leaned forward until she was a hairsbreadth away from the Regina, her mantra playing in her head as she whispered the last four words of it. “I love you… Please.” She begged and then closed the gap, her lips meeting the still warm ones of her true love, believing with her whole heart that this would work. This would bring Regina back to her.
Regina was absorbed in the memory of Henry’s first words when she felt something change and it shook her out of the memory, much to her chagrin. At first she wasn’t sure what had distracted her and then she felt it again. She slowly became aware of her physical body as a tiny pulse, that started deep inside, spread throughout her. It was uncomfortable and she tried to distance herself from it, wanting to go back to her memories as she waited to move on.
The pulse got stronger and she felt it start to burn through her body, refusing to be ignored, making her all too aware of her damaged body. It didn’t seem fair, she was dying already so why should she continue to suffer? All of her electrically tortured nerves, once fried beyond help, start to fire again, minimally at first, then more and more, the uncomfortable feeling moving up several notches to outright pain.
She became aware of her heart, its sluggish beat pausing for a second before speeding up under this new onslaught and she could feel the snapping of her neurons as the residual static her body has harboured for days left and it burned, burned so very much. She wanted to scream but while she was aware of her body in an unconscious way, she had no control over it, no ability to express the pain that continued to increase, slipping into outright agony.
She was almost ready to beg to be set free when her tortured mind registered a miniscule white light in her mind’s eye that gradually grew into an infinitely fine white mist. It spreads throughout her aching body, beginning to cool her firing nerves and neurons. She wants to sob in relief as the pain slowly abates and she realises that the healing mist feels familiar.
It feels like goodness and light slightly tinged with darkness…
It feels like belief and trust…
It feels like hope and love…
It feels like home…
It feels like Emma…
Emma! And just like magic, she felt the connection she had feared gone forever grow and expand, filling her completely with the other woman’s presence. She hears words, disjointed at first but clearer and clearer with every second that passes and she grasps at them, holding on. Don’t… You… Love… Need you… Please. Don’t die… I... Love you… Please.
Then she’s there, her body is once again her own and she can feel lips pressed softly against hers, the essence that is purely Emma flooding through her, mind, body and soul. She forces open her eyes and sees a cloud of blonde hair above and around her. Emma. She whispers in her mind causing the blonde’s words to stutter and she feels her lover sob. Regina?
Henry, Snow and David have been clinging to each other as the waves of power and emotion batter them. They’re close to the source and it’s all they can do to remain standing. There is no physical danger now that they’re outside of the house but emotionally, they are struggling.
The sorrow is devastating but it’s the blast of fear that almost brings the small group to its knees. One beat… Two… Three and it is replaced by something else, something so much better, something warm and comforting. Something that dries their tears and allays their fears. It is so powerful that it allows for no doubts, it fills them up and gives them some hope to cling to.
Snow looks at David, love shining in her eyes and her husband smiles back. Maybe everything is going to be ok, maybe whatever Emma is trying to do is working. Maybe… The pulses of emotional magic are still buffeting them, the wind in the house still howling but where before they had nothing to hold on to, now they have hope and new-found knowledge of what their daughter feels for the once Evil Queen.
Henry understands that whatever is happening in that room, it is Emma fighting for his mom as he always knew she would. He’s felt her sorrow and that scared him, he’s felt her fear and that hurt so much more and now he feels… He feels what he feels when he thinks of either of his mothers. He feels love, her love and while it’s a little surprising coming from his blonde mother, it makes him happy all the same because she hasn’t given up, she’ll never give up. “Come on, Emma.” Henry whispers, believing in his blonde mother with everything he has because if anyone can save his mom, it’s her.
They all wait, clinging to each other, barely breathing as seconds pass bringing beats of love with each one.
Suddenly the pulses that have been so regular stop… The howling wind causing all the chaos stops… Everything is deathly quiet for a heartbeat and then two before an explosion of magic crashes through them, leaving them gasping as the emotions peak and then drain away, just their own feelings remaining. Snow and David look at each other in shock, recognizing what had just transpired. Love was one thing, but that?
Henry is the first to recover and breaks away from his grandparents, rushing back into the house. He heads directly to the study, stepping over debris that is strewn about. The house is heavily damaged, furniture has moved and been smashed up against walls, small items are embedded in the walls and as he rushes by he thinks that his moms have a lot of repair work to do later.
He bursts through the study doorway, dodging the repositioned desk, about to call for his mothers when he comes to a sudden halt, a blush spreading up his neck and across his cheeks. “Oh.” It’s one thing to feel the love, it’s a whole other story to see it being played out that way before his eyes. He hears his grandfather behind him echo his shocked word and a gasp from his grandmother.
His two mothers are wrapped in each other, kissing as if it’s the last thing they’ll do. He watches as they break for a moment and look into each other’s eyes, he watches as his mom reaches up to caress Emma’s face not once but twice. He sees smiles and looks exchanged, the two women completely oblivious to the other people now in the room.
If he didn’t know any better, he would swear they were having an entire conversation just with their eyes but that’s not possible, is it? Then they’re kissing again and Henry starts sniggering, embarrassment gone now and happiness blooming in his chest. They’re both ok and that’s all that matters to him.
Snow lets go of a giggle of her own, pleased to see the two women alive and well. She’d had her suspicions about her daughter’s feelings for the older woman, especially since they had been blasted into her time and again with the magical beat of her daughters heart. She also knew that Regina returned those feelings because there was no denying that explosion of magic right at the end that only happened under very special circumstances. She would support her daughter’s choice because how could she not? But if Regina ever hurt her…
David looked from the two woman to his wife and grandson, not quite understanding what was so funny about his daughter kissing the Evil Queen but he’s relieved to see them both apparently healthy, none the less. He drapes an arm around Snow’s shoulder and lets a relieved smile break across his face. He’d worry about it all later if he needed to.
Rumpelstiltskin is in his shop, feeling the waves of powerful magic wash over him. He, alone, is unaffected by the emotions tied up with the magic, simply enjoying the unimaginable strength he can feel behind it. It’s uncontrolled and being wielded poorly but he knows that will change once they finally complete their bond, once Regina is back in full control of herself and the magic.
He estimates it’s still only at half capacity, that one of them is barely involved, Regina he suspects, and that fills him with satisfaction. He was right, they would be incredibly powerful. Almost unbeatable. Almost…
He knows the end result still rests on a knife’s edge and could fall either way so he waits to see if his plan will be able to come to fruition or not, wondering if he should intervene to ensure the outcome he desires. He needs them… Needs their combined power. He must have it!
Before he can decide, he feels the power shift and become more, more than he had expected and he feels a grin spread across his face. “Yes, yes… This will do nicely.” He feels the explosion that reverberates through the town and his smile grows impossibly wide knowing that it is done. The Savior and the Evil Queen have unleashed their true magical potential and now all he had to do is harness it, harness them. He rubs his hands together as he starts planning how best to do just that.
The blonde hears the word in her mind and the sob she had been fighting finally breaks free as cautious relief fills her. Regina? She feels the connection roar back to life and then Regina is everywhere, she is all Emma can smell and taste and feel. She feels warm lips move against her own and her heart skips a beat, caution giving way to full blown joy.
She can finally feel her magic coursing through the other woman’s body, can feel it soothing and repairing. She can feel it weaving in and out of the brunettes own magic, singing in its pleasure of once again interacting and intertwining with it. Gone are the statically charged sparks of magic from the brunette, in its place a rush of seamless power that flows in perfect balance with her own and it feels wonderful. The flood from the connection overwhelms her briefly after being without it, her emotions so raw and close to the surface and another sob catches in her throat. I thought I had lost you.
She feels arms slide up around her neck and she sits back, unwilling to break the kiss but wanting to draw Regina closer. She drops the palm that had been at Regina’s temple down to cup the back of her head and slips the hand that had been over her heart around to pull her even closer, deepening the kiss.
After a thorough reacquaintance with each other, the two lovers break apart to look into each other’s eyes, warm brown meeting shining green. Regina smiles softly, I thought you had too. It was a very close thing. I think… It felt like… She shrugs slightly. I don’t know how to explain it. I wasn’t here anymore, I was stuck somewhere else, somewhere cold and empty and all I wanted was to get back to you and Henry but I didn’t know how. Regina’s gaze turned questioning, I don’t understand what happened. How did you bring me back?
It was Emma’s turn to shrug, Magic… I used magic… Somehow… I dunno. I just wanted you to stay with me, I wanted to save you like you had saved me… Which was really, really dumb, Regina. It almost killed you. She scowled at the brunette but it didn’t quite reach her eyes. Don’t do that again… Ever.
Regina returned the scowl, Your plan was rather ridiculous, my love. It almost got you killed and that is more than I could ever bear. I can’t even begin to imagine what you were thinking.
I was thinking that a madman had you and I wasn’t going to let him murder you. She conceded, You’re right though, it wasn’t the best plan I’ve ever had but I had to try something. The scowl fell from the blonde’s face, unable to remain when she was so happy to have Regina back with her. Anyway, dodgy plan aside, I couldn’t lose you so yeah… Glowy white magic happened and here we are.
The brunette took a quick inventory of herself, expecting to feel the pain that had been such a constant during the last week but much to her delight, it was absent. I do feel better… In fact, I feel wonderful, far better than I have in years actually. I can feel my magic and it feels like it did before… Before I was tortured and yet it feels different too. Stronger… Cleaner… And decidedly like you.
Emma couldn’t resist grinning at that, So… Glowy white magic actually did a good job. Who’d have thought? Go me!
Regina rolled her eyes, a slight smile gracing her lips before giving way to a frown, I still don’t understand though. What you did should have been impossible. I know it to be impossible, especially for one as untrained as you… Which we will have to rectify. I can feel the magic in you now and it’s far too much and would be far too dangerous to stay uncontrolled. That aside, I was too gravely injured for magic to save me. I was all but gone. Magic is certainly powerful but it is not a miracle worker.
Emma shrugged, Don’t ask me. All I know is that I was using everything I had to hold onto the connection… To hold on to you and it wasn’t enough, nothing was changing. You were still slipping away from me. Her heart twinged at the memory, All I managed to do was slow the speed that was happening at.
I remember a lot of nothingness to begin with, of it being dark and cold. All I had left were memories. Mother tried to crowd in but I refused to let her. I chose not to let her… Because you made me strong enough to make that choice. Thank you for that, Emma. Regina smiled softly at the blonde.
I thought of Henry, of missing out on seeing him grown up. I thought of you and how unfair the fates could be. All I wanted was to come back to you both but I didn’t know how. So I let myself remember happy memories while I waited for the true end but it never came… You didn’t let it come. After that I remember pain, a lot of pain. Regina felt Emma’s upset, heard the thought that she may have caused her pain and she reached up to caress her cheek trying to reassure the blonde, It’s ok. I am ok and that is because of you. I think the pain was the static electricity that had been dwelling in me being purged. That’s why it hurt so much, but it needed to happen and just when I thought I couldn’t take any more, you were there soothing me, bringing me home. You saved me, Emma. The question is how? What changed?
Emma frowned in concentration, I stopped focusing so much on our connection and just focused on you. Oh… And I kissed you. She smiled sheepishly.
You kissed me? Regina felt her chest constrict in shock as the truth of what had happened crashed through her. The Imp had been right after all.
Emma felt the wave of emotion swell in Regina and the feeling surprised her. She had grown accustomed to their ability to be able to talk to each other, but feel each other… Woah, what? What’s causing that?
You felt that?
Regina returned her hand to Emma’s cheek, smiling as the blonde leaned into it. It seems, my love, that our connection is much deeper, much stronger, now that we have shared true love’s kiss.
It was Regina’s turn to feel Emma’s surprise which quickly changed into pure joy. True love, huh?
So it seems. Emma grins and Regina can’t help but smile right back at her and then they’re kissing again, reveling in the pure happiness that is coursing throughout the both of them, further deepening their bond.
They finally become aware that they’re no longer alone when their son’s giggles break through their emotion driven haze. They reluctantly break the kiss, Emma trying to defuse the apprehension that has started to seep through the connection from the brunette. So he’s seen us kissing, guess the cats out of the bag now… He’s laughing, gorgeous… The kid can’t be that scarred… Regina… Emma smirks, I can feel you rolling your eyes at me…
They untangle their limbs and then Emma helps Regina to her feet, the brunette a little unsteady to begin with, her exhaustion evident despite her earlier claim to be feeling good. The blonde watches as her lover schools her features, slipping a mask into place and she really hopes it proves unnecessary.
Finally they turn to look at the small group standing across the room staring at them. There’s a brief moment of awkward silence as the adults in the room try to size up just how each of the others is feeling until Emma breaks that silence, a tentative smile on her lips. “So yeah… Uh… That’s happening.” She’s carefully watching her parent’s faces, and is surprised when her mother smiles back at her. David hides what he’s feeling a little better and Emma knows there will have to be a conversation later but right now, the fact that her parents seem to accept them is enough for her.
She can feel the tension radiating off Regina who couldn’t care less what Snow and David think but is terrified of Henry’s reaction. Her gaze is glued to their son then Henry is chuckling again, a wide knowing grin on his face. “See I told you, Emma. Mom never stays angry with you.”
Emma feels a shot of surprised relief come through their bond as Regina turns to look at her. She shrugs and mutters, “I told you I thought the kid would be alright with us.”
Regina raises an eyebrow, “Indeed you did.” She glances at her son as she slides an arm around the blonde and rests her head on the Emma’s shoulder, giving in just a little to her exhaustion. She’s relieved to see Henry’s smile grow as he moves forward to wrap his arms around both his mothers who pull him close. Emma slips her other arm around the brunette and the circle is complete. Henry looks up at her, “I’m glad Operation Apple Tree was a success. I knew you could do it, Em.”
Regina gives the blonde a dirty look over their son’s head, Operation Apple Tree?
Emma smirks at her in reply, What can I say? The kid likes his operations.
The brunette feels all her apprehension finally slip away as everything settles into place. Physically she feels great, Emma’s magic having healed her completely. Mentally she now knows she can deal with anything her past wants to throw at her so long as she has her son and Emma by her side. Emotionally, she feels… Lucky… So very lucky to have this change at happiness, this chance at true love.
She’s not foolish, she knows it will not be easy, they are two strong willed, stubborn independent women but then anything worth having never is. She knows there will be fights and arguments but there will also be happiness and joy and so much love. Love.
As long as they never forget the love they found in each other and their son, they can conquer anything. Together, they can face anything that life can throw at them.
Regina turns her head slightly so that her lips are next to Emma’s ear and whispers, “I love you, Emma Swan.”
Emma turns her head to look into warm brown eyes she adores, her lips twitch and then break into a cheeky smile. I love you too, sexy legs.
Much to everyone except Emma’s surprise, Regina throws back her head and laughs.