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I woke up suddenly. My head hurts so bad and I can feel the pain running through my entire body.

Frowning, I realize that I’m not at my house. The green wallpaper with little daisies wouldn’t ever be my choice. Taking a quick glance, I noticed a picture next to the bed I was lying on. Mary Margareth and David were laughing at whoever took that picture. I don’t remember what happened, I’m not sure how I’m here. But suddenly, I remember that the Storybrooke was under attack. Henry . So I stood up, my head spinning around because of the sudden move. 

“Henry,” I whispered, nearly panicking. “Henry.” I open the door and Mary is sitting in the chair in the kitchen aisle. 

“Oh, Regina!” She looked at me and I frowned. “Gladly you’re ok. Or at least, you look okay.” Grimacing in her own confusion.

“Where’s Henry?” The question leaves my mouth, ignoring what she had said. But before she could say anything, the front door was open and Henry hushed through it.

“Mom!” He ran to me, holding me tight. “Mom.” He whispered, already crying.

“Are you ok? Are you hurt?” I asked, checking him out.

“I thought I was losing you, Mom.” He answered. My heart broke in tiny little pieces when his brown eyes looked at me with so much pain.

“Shh.” I pulled him closer, caressing his hair. “It’s okay, sweetheart, I will never leave you, okay?” I tried to comfort him.

“You promise?” He whispered, and I have never heard his voice so painfully.

“I do.” There’s a line between what we can promise to another person and what we can not, and that promise is that we can not kind of one. I can’t control life, no matter how powerful I might be. If I could, a lot of things would have been different. But how can I deny a promise to Henry?

“Henry, sweetheart,” Mary cleared her throat, trying to catch my son’s attention. “Wouldn’t mind if your Mom and I have a conversation?” He looked at me and sighed, probably already knowing what she wanted to talk to me. “So… Do you remember anything?”

“I-” I tried, but all I could come with was blank spaces. “Nothing.”

“Oh.” She sighed and looked away.

“Mary, please.” I reached out her hand. “Tell me everything.”

“Regina, I’m so sorry, we should have listened to you when you warned us but-” She shook her head. “You were right all the time. Killian was planning to do something terrible with Henry so he could have his revenge on Gold. And luckily you could find them first, but you went there alone.” Mary started pacing. “We didn’t want to believe he was the bad guy, you know? So we left you to do it on your way while we tried to find Henry here. We don’t know what happened, how it happened, but when we found you, you’re unconscious and so hurt.” She looked at me and took a deep breath. “I’m so happy you’re alive. I wouldn’t know how to live with myself if he had killed you.”

I know I was the one who asked her to tell me everything, but it was too much. My mind was spinning around the news and I felt my knees failing. Mary was fast and held me before I reached the ground.

“H-how?” I asked more to myself than to Mary. It fills some blank spaces with fresh memories. I remember the cold stretcher, the ties on my wrists and heels. I remember the sick laughter echoing on the wet walls of the old mine. I remember the fear. And what an unusual feeling. Cora raised me not to fear anything, but to be the one that everyone would fear. But there was me. Having that uncontrollable feeling. Death was so close, but I wasn’t fearing that. I feared for Henry, for my friends and family. For Emma . And when her name crossed my mind, I looked at Mary and by her eyes, I knew she knew what I was about to ask.

“She’s gone, Regina.” She turned away and my hands sweat.

“What do you mean by gone?” A whisper came through my lips.

“We can’t find her anywhere.” Mary sobbed. “She was the one who found you and after bringing you here, she left.”

“She can’t.” I stated. “What about Henry?” What about me? My voice echoed in my mind and I almost laughed at myself. I was so naïve to think I would mean anything to Emma. And I’m the only one to blame.

“We tried everything.” Mary murmured. “We can’t find her or even Killian.”

“Do you think…?” I couldn’t complete that phrase.

“That she made a deal with Killian? You and Henry alive and he could keep her? Yes. That’s the one logical thing about that.”

That’s something Emma would do.

“She couldn’t resist, could she?” I snorted. “Why is she always putting her life in danger? Why is she always saving anyone but her? And why would she do such a thing?” I have a lot of questions and my head is so heavy.

“It’s Emma. She’s the savior.” Mary whispered.

“We’re going to find them.” I took her hand in mine again, trying to comfort her even not knowing how I was going to do that. “I promise.” And another thing I shouldn’t promise, but I did.

“We’re not giving up until she gets home.” Mary squeezed my hand.

“How many days have passed?” I asked.

“A week.” Well, it will not be easy. “We’re not giving up.” She reassured herself. “And have some rest. I know you’ve been unconscious for a week, but your body hasn’t recovered yet. You need to eat something.” She used her teacher’s tone with me, not expecting me to do anything but obey.

“Yes, Mom.” I teased, rolling my eyes.

“Lucky for you, dinner is already waiting for you.” And for the first time since I opened my eyes, she smiled.

 

***

 

After dinner, I insisted on going back to my house with Henry, but Mary asked me to stay. David was searching for Emma. And she was alone with baby Neal, and besides that, she feared that anything would happen if we didn’t stay together. She has a point. Until we know where Killian is, we’re not safe.

Now that I’m awake, I’m staying in Emma’s bedroom. And it’s uncomfortable being here without her, I feel like I’m invading her privacy. Henry is used to sleeping here, so he was already laying on the bed while I stood at the door, looking at every single piece of that room. Its yellow walls and its furniture… Emma’s present in every detail. I wouldn’t admit that ever, but my heart hurt a little when I remembered she wasn’t here and we didn’t even know if we’re going to find her, if she’s alive.

“You’re thinking of her, aren’t you?” Henry asked me, bringing me back here. “I miss her too .”

“We’re going to find her.” I repeated, and I didn’t know if I was trying to convince him or myself. 

“I know.” He gave me a sad smile, and I reached the bed, laying next to him like we used to do often when he has a nightmare or we just want to sleep with each other. I held him against my chest, caressing his hair. “Mom… can I tell you something?” He whispered, I almost couldn’t hear.

“Sure, sweetheart.”

“I don’t think Ma is with Killian.” He trusts me. “I think she ran away because she’s scared.”

“Why, darling?” I frowned.

“I don’t know, but she was so different when she found us. She took me to the outside of the mine but her eyes…” He sighed and I felt a shiver running through my body. “I’ve never seen her like that.”

“I’m so sorry you went through this, Henry. I should have found you early.” I felt my heart breaking out of my chest.

“It wasn’t your fault, Mom.” He hugged me tightly. “And he didn’t hurt me. Not physically.” His voice was so painful, it was like he was reviving those moments in his head. “He has to pay for what he did to you.”

“Don’t think too much about that, sweetheart.” I said while my mind brought me other flashes of my torture session. “We’re fine now.” Killian will pay for everything he did. But Henry doesn’t need to be even more involved in this.

He fell asleep in my arms and I caressed his hair, but my mind was running at full speed, trying to piece together the missing pieces and the ones that were appearing now. 

I remember when I first met Emma and hated her at first sight. But we’ve bonded together later, especially because of Henry. She used to understand me, although she doesn’t need to. Emma came to my town, to steal my son’s attention and affection, to make me hate her with all my soul, to break my curse, and after that, she should make my life miserable.

Emma grew up alone, believing that her parents didn’t love her and that was my fault. They did their best to protect her — although I can never understand what they did. Henry means the world to me, but I wouldn’t ever let him alone, in a world I cannot protect him. But I know they were thinking of a better chance. They were trying to protect her from me.

Oh, our past. I know I’m in no position to play the victim, but everything I did was trying to heal my own heart. Cora Mills wasn’t a lovely mother, she never wanted to be a mother. Cora Mills wanted to be a queen, a legend. That’s why she sent my sister away, because Zelena wasn’t a king’s daughter, so she couldn’t give Cora what she wanted. My father loved me with all his heart, I’m sure. But he was too scared of Mother to stand up for me when she was abusing me.

Mary never saw things that way — to her, I was only a woman that saved her life and was going to marry her father. She didn’t even notice we were almost the same age back then. Apparently, no one cared about me. What can be wrong with a sixteen-year-old girl marrying a man who could be her father, uh? Mary was only two years younger than me but she swore it was true love.

But I was naïve to think I would live a love in the best way. There was Daniel, my family’s stable boy. And he had the purest heart, the prettiest smile. I fell in love with him so easily… We’re soulmates. Until Cora found out and killed him in front of my own eyes because love hadn’t made for someone like me. I was a queen-to-be, and love is a privilege queens don’t have. 

I hated myself every single day for trusting Snow. But she was so innocent, I truly believed that my love story with Daniel would be something to inspire her. And she was so naïve to think Cora loved me and wanted me to be happy and confidently said that I was running away with Daniel. Mother forced me to marry Mary’s father, and those were the most traumatic years of my life. If there was someone to blame, it would be my mother.

I grew up with all that hatred being repressed within me and when I followed the paths my mother had traced for me, when she had spent years teaching me spells and poisons to kill the king I married, I killed Leopold. And there was a point where there would be no turning back. When you see someone’s life leaving their eyes, it definitely changes you. But the hole that consumed my soul was not content with just mine. And Mary and I became deadly enemies. There was nothing we didn’t do to harm each other. Even if it meant that she would have to give up her own daughter when I prepared to cast the dark curse. I remember that look on her face when she saw that Emma disappeared into the wardrobe. “You’ll lose”, she said and that sick smile was proof that she and I weren’t so different.

I wonder how she’s feeling now. How she’s really feeling. Everyone sees Mary as the purest and kindest person in the world, a true symbol of peace. But I know that deep down, it is not like that. I remember my lessons with Rumpelstiltskin, “evil isn’t born, it’s made”, he said to me once. And he wasn’t wrong. I wasn’t born being the Evil Queen, Cora made me that way. Just like I made Mary embrace her dark side while she was trying to survive. So, I know that deep inside her, she’s feeling that hatred again, she’s hating me because once again, I’m the reason her daughter is missing. To be honest, I can’t blame her.

It took me a long time to get to sleep. Only Henry’s snoring filled the silence of the room, the world outside. He slept soundly, and I risked saying that this was the first time in a few days. I wanted to keep all the promises I made to him. I wanted him to have a healthy, safe, and happy life — as every 12-year-old child should have. And even though I’ve been trying my best since he learned the truth, since Emma came into our lives, I feel like it’s still not enough.

In my dreams, I saw that cold stretcher again. Killian was in the corner, looking at my body tied to the stretcher and with his sick laugh.

“You didn’t think you could get rid of me, did you?” His voice echoed through the room. “I’m sure you’re waiting for someone to save you right now. But guess what? She’s not coming.” He smiled, and I tried to pull on my wrists, but I felt nothing, not a measly sign of my magic. “Aye, my majesty, if I were you, I wouldn’t try to do that and save your strength because you will need it.” And as soon as the words left his mouth, I felt the first electric wave running through my body, I felt ready to explode and locked my jaw, preventing the scream from tearing my throat trying to relieve the pain.

I woke up suddenly, my breathing fast, and my heart almost out of my chest. Henry grunted, but just turned to the side and went back to sleep. I leaned back against the bed and as I tried to recover from the dream, feeling all the pain again, I saw a slim figure next to the window. The streetlight alone was not enough to help me identify who it was, but I was not afraid. I could feel the pain through their gaze on my body and I turned to turn on the lamp, but it was too late to see who was there.

 

***

 

“It has to be another way, David! Emma can’t just disappear like that!” Mary screamed when David appeared in the morning, saying that they had checked all the forest around Storybrooke, but there wasn’t a sign of Emma.

“I’m trying my best, Mary Margareth. She’s my daughter too.” He said, pulling her close while she was crying. “We’re going to find her.”

“David, I,” I started but I couldn’t force the words out. “I want to try something. With magic.” They both frowned at me.

“Can you poof you to where Emma is?” Mary asked me and I almost rolled my eyes. I would have done it already if it were that simple. And none of this would have happened because I could have done the same to find Henry.

“Magic doesn’t work that way.” I cleared my throat. “I will need something personal of hers, something from her baby years. I know it’s a little difficult, but it’s the most effective way to keep someone on track.” I shrugged, feeling anxious.

“She still has her baby blanket, the only thing from her past in the Enchanted Forest.” Mary whispered. “I’ll be right back.” And she left, leaving David and I alone. Henry was in the next room with baby Neal. I looked at my hands as if they were more interesting than anything else.

“You don’t have to blame yourself, Regina.” He broke the silence, and I felt his green eyes on me, patient and kind, just like Emma’s. “And you don’t have to lie too. I can see it on your face, you’re blaming yourself and asking why she didn’t leave you to die. But you know the answer, don’t you?” I looked at him, confused.

“I don’t know what you are talking about.” He snorted and gave a tired smile.

“I don’t know why both of you keep insisting on making things so hard.” He shrugged. And before I could give him an answer, Mary crossed the living room doors, holding a tiny little white blanket and teary eyes.

“I hope it works.” She said, handing me the blanket.

“I’m not sure how’s my magic, you both need to know that. But I will keep trying until I find her, okay?” I said, and they nodded.

I held the blanket in one hand, placing the other over it and focusing on the name sewn in purple. Emma . I tried forcing my mind to exhaustion. I felt my magic trying to find her, but I just came across nothing.

“Regina, stop!” Mary screamed at me and I looked at her confused. “Your nose is bleeding.” She said.

“Oh.” I put my hand to my nose and looked at my red-tinged fingertips. “I’m fine. I’m going to try it again.” I said.

“No, you are not.” Mary said, firmly taking away the blanket from my hands. “You can try again later.”

“Mary, I want to say something.” I started, knowing that if I didn’t say that already, I would not say at all.

“Go on.” She said. David didn’t leave, and I didn’t want him to.

“I am so sorry for what is happening now. I planned nothing.” I closed my eyes, trying to avoid their faces. But then I felt a warm hand on mine.

“Regina, this is not your fault.” She didn’t sound angry. “We had our bad times in the past, but now everything is different. We are not so young anymore, even though the curse has left us stuck in time and is not so visible, we have grown and changed.”

“I know we weren’t the same, but we never talked about it. We just… moved on.” I shrugged, even though Mary was saying we’re not too young anymore, I felt like a teenager.

“Regina, you did horrible things, but I did too. Part of what happened resulted from my own actions.” She gave a sincere smile. “Amid everything that happened, you became what you were before: my family too. Today I see everything more clearly. I know how badly your marriage to my dad did you, although you never gave me the details. And Regina, that haunts me until today.” I gave a sad smile, squeezing her hand, and trying not to cry. “We moved on, yes. And Emma taught me how to do that because she was the first one to keep going. She knew the truth about her and instead of hating on us, she forgot us. My daughter, who I sent away and allowed her to live a terrible life, was forgiving me and allowing me to love her. How could I not do the same to you if you weren’t the only villain in our story?”

“I don’t know what to say.” The words left my lips sincerely, and this conversation was necessary, I felt like I was lifting a weight that I had to carry for a long time.

“We all made bad choices, but that doesn’t have to define our lives. Our good choices also matter. Don’t be too hard with yourself.” And she hugged me, holding me tightly. We’re used to doing hugs now, but this time was different.

“Emma would die to see you having this conversation.” David giggled, and I had forgotten that he was here.

“David!” Mary repressed him.

“Sorry, babe.” He lifted his hands. “I’m happy that you’re allowing yourselves to feel.” And looked at us, smiling sincerely. “Hope when we find Emma, they allow that too.” He whispered to his wife, and I frowned, feeling my cheeks burning.

 

***

 

A failure. That was what I was feeling.

I used to do that spell a lot, especially because of Henry and my obsession to know he was safe. And I couldn’t find Emma using a spell that was so easy than a breath.

 

Emma was born in the Enchanted Forest, but the curse did not reach her. So she can go to the “real world” whenever she wants to. After breaking my curse, we had the people to decide if they wanted to have full access to the “real world” or if they wanted to be here. I was so surprised when they chose Storybrooke and didn’t even want to go back to Enchanted Forest. So we maintained the barrier around our city, preventing actual people from entering. Emma could come and go whenever she wanted, just as Henry could one day since he was born in the real world.

But even if she was in any other city in the world, I would find her. My spell is not limited and there is no place in the world, in fairy tales or not, that can block it. It was frustrating.

What no one tells you about magic is how exhausting it can be. It’s not just thinking, and it’s done. And since I’m not fully recovered, I just don’t have enough strength to keep trying. My body needs some rest, so does my mind.

Mary is with Henry, they went for a walk with baby Neal and I’m alone in Emma’s room. I don’t know where she is, and God, it makes me feel lost. I need to know if she’s okay, if she’s alive. Emma is more than my son’s other mother, she’s my friend. And after all those years, she had become someone special to me. I see her as a reflection of my first love , Daniel. She is pure; she is good and after all I have done badly, it is unbelievable to have her around me. Emma is stubborn, and she goes to great lengths to save the one she loves - that’s why we’re in this situation now because she loves Henry. And I have no doubt that she would do everything in her power to keep Henry safe, just like I would.

I focused my eyes on the wall, but then I saw for the first time a portrait.

“Oh.” I stated, feeling my heart missing a beat when I recognized that picture. There are a few of them on the wall, but that one is different. I saw my face smiling widely at her. We’re at a picnic in my garden and she had smeared the tip of my nose with whipped cream. Henry was laughing out loud at both of us, which made my heart beat even faster. Emma took out her phone, “I need to register this,” she said and pointed the camera at me. My eyes sparkled and my smile was so big it hurt my cheeks. It took me by surprise to see that she had framed the photo and hung it on the bedroom wall.

I couldn’t stop the tears from running down my face. My heart hurt so bad. I just needed to find her. I needed to know that she was fine, to bring her home. The thought of losing Emma forever was scary. I couldn’t raise Henry on my own. I needed her. And assuming that was painful because I never enjoyed needing anyone.

“Where are you, Emma?” I whispered through my sobs, lying in her bed and holding her pillow like I needed it to survive. “Come back home. Come back to me. Please.”

 

***

 

My exhaustion and tears made me fall asleep before Henry got home. And only when I woke up again frightened by the dream I had, that I saw that he was already sleeping beside me. My head hurt and even though I did a spell to remove the marks left from the electroshock session, I knew where each one was. And they hurt like the first time.

I stood up, feeling a little dizzy in my head. But I needed water. And as soon as I looked at the window, it was there again, the same silhouette as the other night. The gaze fixed on me while they hid their identity in the shadows.

“Who are you?” I asked, trying to keep my voice low so as not to wake Henry. “What do you want?” I asked when they didn’t answer.

“I just needed to know if you’re fine.” They finally said. And even though that voice was a little different, the shiver that ran through my body was what I needed to recognize it. I would recognize it anywhere.

“Emma?” Her name slipped through my lips. I crossed the room, but she raised her hand to keep me from getting any closer. 

“I can not stay.”  She said, her voice cold.

“Why not? Is Killian with you?” I asked, nervous, and she laughed.

“Are you jealous?” She teased me and I took a few steps back. Even though I knew from her tone that it was a joke, it hit me hard. “Regina, I’m sorry.” She sighed. “I gotta go.”

“Emma, wait!” But it was too late. She disappeared into the darkness. “Damn it.” At least, now I know she’s alive.

I couldn’t sleep again after she left. “ I just need to know if you’re fine .” I sighed a lot, trying to understand what was happening. Emma has hidden in the shadows and I need to know why, I need to bring her back to light. Like she did to me.

Thinking about that, I started my search for Emma before Henry and Mary woke up. I realized I needed to be somewhere else, somewhere that I could explore my limits, if necessary. Somewhere that no one could stop me from continuing until I found her. And I know exactly where this place is. My vault, where no one else can go except for…

“Emma!” I said like it was obvious. “How didn’t I think about it sooner?!” I poof myself to the vault, feeling Emma’s magic around there.

I took her there a few times when I was teaching her how to control her powers and she is the only one besides me that can go inside there. And anyone cannot trace my vault, it’s supposed to be a safe zone. Neither even my own spell can break this protective one.

“I was wondering how much would you take to figure this out.” Her voice echoed in the silence while I walked downstairs. Emma didn’t turn to see me and her posture was rigid. She wore a long white dress, which covered her arms like a white patchwork. I’ve never seen her wearing a dress before.

“Why are you here, after all? What about Killian?” I asked, and she snorted, turning to face me for the first time.

“You remember nothing, do you?” She asked, and her eyes were different, just like Henry had said. Her ever-vibrant eyes were opaque, wrapped in big reddish circles. “Of course you don’t. He almost killed you.” She took a few steps forward. “You should leave, Regina.”

“Excuse me? This is my vault, you can’t send me away from here.” I raised an eyebrow, and she laughed, but that wasn’t her usual laugh. It was cold and made my knees go weak.

“I can do a lot of things I didn’t know I could before.” She whispered, her eyes fixed on me. “But you should hear me at least once. I need to keep Henry safe. I need to keep you safe.”

“Safe from what? Killian?” I tried, and she raised her left hand, causing the books on the shelf beside her to go to the floor. Emma closed her eyes firmly and took a deep breath. 

“Can you just stop saying his name?” She said, grinding, and I never heard her speak like that.

“But where is he?” I insisted, and she rolled her eyes.

“Does it matter?” I nodded, and she sighed, shrugging as if it were irrelevant. “Dead.”

“Dead? B-but how?” I was getting more and more confused. I needed to know everything that happened. Emma laughed again and took a few steps until she was behind me.

“Do you want me to explain how someone dies or how I killed him?” She whispered next to my ear, and I shivered. “Regina… You shouldn’t be here. You shouldn’t be asking me things you don’t want to hear.”

“And what do you expect me to do? Go home, keep looking for you, and lying to your parents and Henry that I don’t know where you are? Or better, keep trying to force my own mind to show me what happened because no one else can do that besides you? I’m sorry if I’m asking too much of you, but I deserve to know the truth.” My words left my mouth in a second, Emma stood still behind me and I turned around to look at her. I was furious and Emma knew that, but she didn’t back off.

“What else do you want to know, Regina? Killian wanted his revenge against Gold. He thought it was a good idea to use our son’s heart because he’s the truest believer.” She resumed what I already knew. “You went after that without me, without knowing how much power he was keeping to himself, but you did that alone because my parents told you’re going insane. That Killian wasn’t a villain. You didn’t wait for me. Regina, you knew I was looking for Henry in the forest, you knew that I would never leave you alone but you did it and I’m not blaming you, I would probably do the same thing.” She sighed, looking deep inside my eyes and I could formulate nothing to answer. “When I knew he was already with Gold, I freaked out. He could control Gold. You have any idea what it meant? And you were going to face him alone and vulnerable because he was with Henry…” She took a few steps forward, forcing me to take a few steps back until I felt the wall at my back. “He was with Gold’s dagger and tried to defend himself using the Dark One. I took Henry to my parents and when I saw you… I lost my mind.” Emma closed her eyes. It shocked me, some flashes coming to my mind too fast.

“Emma.” I sighed, my hand going to her face, and she took a deep breath, holding my hand where it was.

“My mother told me why I was designed to be the Savior .” She whispered. “But she also told me what she did when I wasn’t even born. You were in a war with each other and she needed a way to stop you.” She gave a sad smile. “Somehow, she thought it would be fine if she used me as a weapon. And then she stole another unborn baby’s kindness, condemning her unable to see the light in her life, to a dark and sad life.”

“Lilith.” I interrupted her. Shocked with Mary for doing that, Emma nodded.

“But every magic has a price, right? And making Lilith’s life miserable wasn’t enough.” She shrugged. “It designed me to be the Savior because my mother made me good – I shouldn’t have a dark side. Ever. And then, I couldn’t do anything to condemn my soul, or I would be just the opposite.” She opened her eyes and my heart skipped a beat. “You were dying, Regina. I-I had to save you because this is our thing, isn’t it? You’re always saving me.”

“So you’ve crossed a line you shouldn’t because of me.” I conclude, giving a bitter laugh. Cora always said that I would destroy everything that was good. Emma was further proof of that.

“And I would do this a million times again.” Emma was so close. Sometimes we were in situations like this, too close. Any wrong move and we would ruin everything. “Regina…” She whispered my name, and I closed my eyes.

“Emma, don’t.” She laughed at me, making my body shiver again.

“Are you scared?” I shook my head. “Then why don’t you look at me?” I opened my eyes again, focusing on hers. “So much better. I can’t imagine living a life without seeing your eyes.” Emma sighed, sadly.

“Why are you saying that?” I whispered, confused about how we got there.

“You wanted answers, don’t you? I’m giving you that. Furthermore, there’s also this growing hatred inside me and that’s why you need to go away. You and Henry. I don’t know how to control this and I will not put you in danger.” She said and took a few steps back, but I took her arm, not letting her go too far.

“We’re going to figure this out. I promise.” She smiled, and I looked away.

“You shouldn’t be doing promises you can’t keep.” She held my hand in hers.

“Isn’t wrong to have hope.” I shrugged.

“Hope.” She snorted, sadly. “There’s no hope for me, Regina. I knew the risks, and I crossed the line. There’s no coming back now.”

“I was hopeless too. I felt that same anger growing inside of me until I was nothing but a terrible monster. But look at me. Look at us now.” I pointed at us and she raised an eyebrow. “ You taught me to have hope, don’t you dare to say there’s nothing we can do for you now.”

“Fair.” She shrugged. “But I’m not sorry for what I did.”

“Fine. Emma, thank you.” I said, feeling my cheeks burning. “For saving me.”

“I would go to hell for you, Regina.” She sighed, pulling her hand on my face.

“I would do the same for you.” She smiled and shook her head. Like I’m missing something. “What were you doing last night?”

“Isn’t it obvious?” She shrugged. “I was taking care of you. You’re having a lot of nightmares and I wanted to know you were safe.”

“H-how do you know that?” My heart was about to jump out of my chest.

“I told you I can do a lot of things now.” She teased, stepping closer, and I held my breath. “I’ve been there every single night, waiting for you to wake up, and until then, I watched you, making sure you’re safe. Only God knows how terrified I was that you might not wake up.”

“Huh, and I thought you’ve left without saying goodbye and that I-” I stopped, feeling my cheeks going red. 

“What? You wouldn’t mean anything to me?” She snorted. “Seriously? Regina, why can’t you just see that? Why can’t you see how much I-” She broke off. I opened my mouth, but the words didn’t come. Emma stepped back. “I think you should go.”

“Wait, why?” My hands were shaking. “I want to help you.”

“You don’t owe me anything, Regina.” She said, harshly. “I don’t want to do anything you can regret later.”

“It should be my choice.” I tried to sound firm, but I was too scared of losing her again.

“Oh, really?” She turned to me, her eyes burning in flames, making me feel weak. “Then tell me, my majesty, what’s your choice?” She stepped closer again, pressing me against the wall without delicacy, and an involuntary groan escaped my lips. “What is your choice, Regina?” She repeated, staring at my lips with hungry eyes. “Tell me. Now.”

If I knew I was about to cross a line? Yes. If I wanted to stop? Never. I reached out to her, pressing my lips against hers and she groaned, kissing me back. Fireworks exploded inside of me. I held her firmly against my body and she pressed her fingers to my waist, making a moan escape between our lips. I had never been kissed like that before; it was savage but so sweet, so pure.

“I choose you, Emma Swan.” I said when we parted lips. “No matter how bad you see yourself, I don’t see you that way.”

“You should.” She whispered.

“I know you’re scared, but stop trying to pull me away. I’m not going anywhere.” She stared at me. “You can use your superpower whenever you want, I am not lying.”

“I know you’re not.” She smiled. “It terrifies me.”

“Come back home? Please.” I asked, and she considered for a while before nodding. “You are not alone, do you hear me? I’m with you.”

“I know.” And there it was for the first time since I found her: her pure smile, nor like the others she gave me today, but the purest.

 

***

 

It’s been a year since what happened with Killian. A year since we stopped pretending we weren’t in love with each other. A year since I’ve been loving Emma Swan in all her shapes.

Loving Emma Swan is easy, even when she isn’t being the best version of herself. But just how she did to me, I’ve done to her. It’s a difficult thing for her, but we get there sometime. Emma could see my good side when no one else did. And she loved my dark side so badly. There was no way on Earth that I wouldn’t fall all over heels for her.

I still have nightmares, and she’s always here, calming me down. And I’m always here when she feels like she’s losing control. This is our thing and no matter how, we’re always saving each other.

No one seemed surprised when we returned together — David was all “I knew it” and Henry… Well, Henry did a victory dance because we’re finally together. And we weren’t even official yet, but they’re just… Them. It’s been good. I never thought I was going to have this – though I have always loved her. Just didn’t seem like a possibility. She was too much for me. But there we are, Emma Swan sleeping next to me after our first anniversary. And I never felt so lucky.

We are always completing each other. We are like yin-yang. Or the Sun and the Moon. She likes to compare us with all the stories about light and dark, completing in something beautiful and pure. And she is definitely right. I think that’s why we’re so good together, because we balance each other in every way possible. And I wouldn’t change a single thing about her.

I still see her eyes consumed by that anger, that hatred, and unfortunately or not, it will always be a part of her. But I am ready to love her whenever that happens. Ready to remind her that no matter how dark the moment is, Emma Swan is made of light. Just as she loves me when I have a relapse, when I feel like I’m getting back to my old ways. Emma Swan is my safe haven, she is my certainty that everything is fine when we are together. She is my light, I am hers. I love her darkness because loving her light was so easy. But loving Emma in all her shapes is inevitable. She loves me completely. And everything is fine.