You can pretend all you want, but we know how you are! And who you will always be!
Those words echo like a bad taste in my mouth. No matter how hard I try, she will never see me as anything other than the Evil Queen. No matter how often I save her life, no matter how much humiliation I swallow, none of it matters. She will never trust me. Ever.
Regina Mills stood in the silence of her sons' room, a folded piece of parchment in her hand. Certain the Imp has poisoned Emma against her. Too much has happened. She is never going to let Henry come back. Even if she did, he wouldn't stay. A single tear escaped over her thick black lashes as she bent down and placed the folded note on the blue cotton covered pillow. In a cloud of purple smoke she was gone.
The crisp Maine air stung her skin as she rode. The rumble of the machine between her legs was deafening. It drowned out everything. All thoughts. Only one emotion, exhilaration. This was her freedom. That was something Lu had always wanted, but only ever got on her bike. Her heart skipped as she revs the engine to its limit and the bike lept forward. It was as if she were flying.
From her peripheral vision she saw a flash of red in a sea of green and black. She turned her head but at her speed she missed it. The red was completely out of place and her curiosity got the better of her. She slowed her bike and flipped around in a huge arc in the center of the highway. She made it back to where she thought she saw, what she thought she saw and there it was, red. Bright red, prone, sticking out of the ditch. She stopped her bike on the shoulder and killed the engine. She dropped the kick and pulled her helmet off setting it on the seat. Her riding boots clunked against the damp pavement as she walked over to the mysterious red. Fabric. It is fabric now that she was closer to it. Her heart caught in her chest as she recognized pale limbs poking from beneath the red fabric.
She pulled her phone out and called 911 before getting any closer to what was now revealed as an unconscious woman in a red business suit. She relayed her location to the operator, then, confident that an ambulance was on the way, she clicked closed her phone.
Her mobile was as simple as Lu preferred her life, if she didn't need it for work she wouldn't even have one. She settled down next to the still figure, bending on one leather clad knee, brushing a thick dark chocolate curl from the womans' face. She pressed her warm fingers into the cool flesh of the womans' neck a faint pulse was felt beating beneath her skin. Her skin was marked with dirt, scrapes and bruises, but Lu is immediately taken back by the womans' stunning beauty.
"Hey, hang in there, help is coming." She lifted the womans' pale hand and held it between her own. She heard sirens off in the distance, placing the chilled hand on the womans' own abdomen instead of back in the dirt where she found it, she stood, preparing to wave down the cavalry.
She answered the onslaught of questions the female EMT posed, she was obviously in charge of triage, and Lu answered as quickly as she could. She knew enough about emergency situations that this time was critical for the unknown woman. The lithe body was loaded into the back of the bus and Lu announced she would be traveling with her. She towered over both the EMTs and neither of them argued with the biker.
They headed back in the direction Lu had been riding from, the closest town was Dover. It was small, but obviously had a hospital.
She held the door to the back of the ambulance open for the duo as they rushed the unconscious brunette out and through the automatic doors of the building. A short redhead dressed in brightly colored scrubs, holding a clipboard, came up to her and inundated her with a slew of questions about the victim.
"I literally found her on the side of the road." Lu said.
"So you don't know who she is or anything about her condition?"
The cool blue tone in Lus' eyes answered the womans' idiotic question. "Alright then, Miss-?" The brunette chilled the stare she gave the woman several more degrees. "Lu." The nurse opened her mouth, then shut it once more. Looking up at the rather fearsome 5'9", leather clad, tattoo covered, yet feminine, biker towering over her, she steeled her small town sensibilities and continued. "Alright, Miss Lu, Jane is in safe hands. Thank you for bringing her in." She flicked her fire red mane as she turned on her heel to leave when Lu spoke up. "I'm not leaving her. I want to see the Doctor, I want updates on her condition and I want her put up in the best private room you've got in this… joint." The nurse turned, her bright green eyes squeezed into angry slits but before she could get a word in edgewise, Lu added, "I'll be covering her medical expenses and taking responsibility for her care." The nurse looked up and down at the brunette in shock, opening her mouth to no doubt question the competence of the biker standing before her. "Now." Lu enunciated the word for the girl and the ginger snapped her mouth shut, turned and wordlessly walked away.
Lu walked out the sliding glass doors and took her phone out. She flipped it open and dialed Cyndi.
"Yes Miss Minstros?"
"Cyn, I need a room in Dover, Maine. Could you please-?"
"Right away Ma'am. Email confirmation will be forwarded to you asap."
A half smile graced the womans lips. "Thank you." She clicked closed her phone as the notification of her email rang out.
Dr. Hopper stumbled into the loft of Mary Margaret, David, Emma and Henry. His best friend, Pongo greeted him feverishly at the door. Emma stood in utter shock, eyes bugged out of her head. "We thought you were… dead."
"It was Cora." Was his reply, more came out but Emmas' mind was spinning around the woman she accused of the non-existent crime. "Regina." She whispered.
"I knew it! I knew she was good! Emma! We need to find her! We need to tell her!" she snapped out of her own head and nodded at the kid.
Mary Margaret stood in the back of Mr. Golds' pawn shop, phone pressed to her ear listening to her daughter fall to pieces over the woman who has caused so much, pain, in her life. "Emma, we couldn't have known."
"I KNEW! I TRUSTED HER! I BELIEVED SHE HAD CHANGED! I KNEW MARY MARGARET AND I LET YOU AND DAVID PUT DOUBT IN MY HEART!" Emma shouted into her device. The kid cringed next to her in the bucket seat of her bug and she reigned in her anger at herself, at her parents, at the blood feud that caused this, this MESS. "I need to go find her, what if Cora hurt her?"
Her mother stood in silence at the question posed to her, looking down at the dying man lying on the cot in the back of his own shop. "Emma, I'm sorry." Was all she could say.
"Me too, mom." Emma hung up and threw the phone up on the dashboard of her bug, shifted into 4th gear and gunned it towards the mansion.
Mary Margaret caught the sight of the candle that was once given to her by the blue fairy, displayed in a glass covered cabinet. "Where did you—How-?" she shook her head not really wanting to know the answers. Mr. Gold flippantly answered anyway, "I keep that for a rainy day dearie." She stood silent as he explained his vile plan to use the candle to save his own skin once again, dooming Cora to his destined fate. He threw in the part of him being Henry's dear old grand-papa to cinch the deal. Snow grabbed the candle and headed out towards The Mills' Family mausoleum to retrieve Cora's heart.
Emma stood behind her son in the bedroom he grew up in, cool blues awash the furniture and decorations, stating plainly it was a little boys room. Her son sat on his bed holding the white folded paper with Regina's signature elegant writing. Two words.
"We've got to find her, Emma." He reverted to using her name instead of the recently chosen 'Ma' he'd been sporting for the last few weeks. The change bit into her and she flinched. "We will kid. Where would she go if she was upset?" her mind was running a total blank.
"Her vault. She liked to talk to her father when she was sad." He looked down at the note, tears brimming his eyelids. "She was sad a lot."
Emma nodded. "Let's go get your mom kid." He tucked the note into his pocket and they left for the graveyard.
Emma hated being there. It reminded her of Graham. That night she was pushed to her limit by the manipulative brunette and got a bruise across her temple and a dead boss for her trouble. She pushed open the slightly ajar front doors clicking on the flashlight to look around. The concrete slab that normally adorned the center of the small room was pushed to the side revealing a staircase that led to a lower chamber. Emma shuddered, but forced her feet to keep going.
"Regina?!" She called out into the darkness. The place was thick with magic, it clung to the air, it clung to Emma, she hated the sticky feeling of it.
"MOM?" Henry yelled into a side chamber. They walked through the hall that led to the back room, the walls on either side of the all too close corridor was lined with small red beating boxes. Drumming away, their owners long since forgotten or dead. It was seriously creepy and it made Henry cringe. "Grandma? What are you doing here?" Mary Margaret whipped around candle in one hand a glowing red orb in the other.
"MOM! What the actual fuck are you doing?" Emma demanded, obviously unaware of the language she tried to never use in front of her son flew out of her like it was the time of day. Snow White, tears in her eyes, stammered. "I have to stop Cora. She will kill Mr. Gold and become the Dark One. I can't let that happen." Emma still shocked at the discovery gaped open her mouth. "Is that-?"
"Cora's heart." Her mother finished. "What is with the—?" pointing at the candle. Snow explained the plan to save Mr. Gold by killing Cora.
"No." Henry shook his head in disbelief. His entire world was unravelling. "But you are Snow White. You are good." He enunciated the word good as if it would fix this whole messed up situation. "Give me that heart Mary Margaret." Emma demanded. "She killed my mother." Snow whispered.
"Give it to me. NOW!" Emma's voice boomed in the small stone room. Snow flinched and held out the heart to her daughter. Emma took the heart and squeezed it promptly until it was nothing but ash.
"Emma! NO!" both her mother and son screamed in unison.
What's done is done.
She dusted her hand of the ash and filth of that vile woman. "YOU," she pointed at her mother, "are not going to darken your heart over that woman." She turned to her son who was shaking visibly. "And you." Her tone softened. "Need to learn nothing is black, nothing is white. Everything is Gray. And that is ok." She opened her arms to hug him, but he hesitated. "What about Mr. Gold?" he said meekly.
"He-," she started then looked to her mother for support. She didn't want to tell the kid that they were most likely better off if his newly found grandfather were dead.
"We'll find another way." Snow finished brightly. The boy fell into his mothers' abdomen hugging her tightly. Emma looked at her own mother, Snows' eyes did not hold the hope of finding a way to save Henrys' grandfather. They both knew this is how it needed to be.
"So, " Henry said after a few minutes of holding his birth mother tight. "My Mom isn't here. Where is she?" Emma slid her fingers through his hair, "That is a good question kid." Turning to her mother, "Mom—" she started, knowing Snow cherished every time she used that title, "Could you take Henry to get some dinner. I'm going to go through some of this stuff see if I can figure out where Regina would go." The fair brunette smiled brightly, the warmth reached her olive eyes this time, "Sure thing sweetheart. Let's go champ, Granny's?" He reached out and grabbed his grandmothers' hand and they walked out of the vault.
Emma looked around at the Evil Queens' possessions. Her hands ran along the satin and silk of the costumes that hung regally in a trunk. She pushed them aside and found at the back there were drawers. She opened the first drawer and found a black leather bound book with a blue stone set in the center. Her fingers ran over the gem, caressing the leather, she reached under the book and lifted it out of the drawer. She opened the cover and dragged her fingers over the perfect smooth script of one Regina Mills.
'Her diary.' Emma thought to herself. She held her bottom lip between her teeth and looked around the empty crypt guiltily. 'I need to understand this woman if I'm going to find her.' She rationalized to herself. Decision made she flipped to the first page, sinking down to the cold stone of the floor as her eyes raked over the words written with pristine care.
This shall be my freedom. Father procured this beautiful book on his last trip to the Endros Kingdom. He knows me so well. It is a secret, he said. Never tell Mother. I know if she ever found this, she would use it to hurt me. Father knows too. He loves me, but he is powerless to stop her.
Emma flipped through the book, reading in detail Reginas' account of her relationship with her Mother. If you could call it a relationship, Regina was a means to an end. She would be Queen of all the land and Cora reminded the girl daily. Emma read painful entries of abuse, or as Regina had put it, 'Corrections.'
Burns, breaks, whippings.
Isolation, bondage, captivity, food and water deprivation.
Social isolation and mental abuse. She literally broke down the girl and created the Evil Queen from the ashes.
Emma spent hours forcing herself to read through Reginas' pain, she finally settled on a page that has been stained with liquid, Emma surmised the drops were tears of the young girl. The drops have smudged the script and hardened the parchment.
My beautiful Gabby, I just wanted to feel her soft lips on mine. I've wanted them for weeks. I knew she felt the same as I did, but she was afraid of Mother. As she should be. I thought Mother was away for another day! She caught us. She came home early, as it seems negotiations wrapped up quickly. That is her way of glossing over the fact that she ripped the heart out of the negotiator and forced him to agree to her terms. She inflicts so much pain on everyone around her. None so much more than on myself. We were in Gabby's family barn, high up in the loft. Her blonde hair so beautiful, her blue eyes so full and pure. She is innocence defined. Everything that I am not. She is beautiful and graceful and smart. Oh had she been born to another life, she would have been a grand scholar for certain. She can read and has borrowed every book I have in my library. I love her.
I loved… her.
I finally got the courage up to kiss her and she let me. Her lips were soft and sweet and when I touched her, my body was set a flame! I wanted her to touch me terribly, but before we got the chance, my Mother appeared in her usual red cloud and grabbed me with her magic. She threw Gabby across the barn. She could have killed her! She squeezed me too tight, she broke bones in my chest, my arms, my legs! The pain was unbearable and I lost consciousness.
When I woke I was home in my bed. The bones were healed by Mothers magic but the pain always persisted afterwards. Always. I've lost count of how many times she has done this and it would be safe to say she has broken every bone in my body at least once. Of course she always says I make her do it. My insolence forces her to lose control and she has to correct me. As I lay in my bed, in agony, I could hear her ranting at father. His soft words hurt more than her actions. He has never stood up for me. He said I have learned my lesson. I know he means it to placate Mother, but it sounds like he supports her in this decision. Does he agree with her? Am I disgusting for wanting to love my sweet Gabby? How can love, any love, be wrong? I have truly disappointed Mother this time. She kept me in the darkness for I don't know how long. Weeks maybe. Until I agreed with her. I lied. I needed water, she had withheld it longer than she ever has before and I am certain I would have perished had I not given in to her. I agreed to never see Gabby again. But I lied.
As it turns out it didn't matter. When I was trusted once again to roam freely upon our property, I ventured to Gabby's farm. She was beautiful as always. My little blonde sunshine. My Savior. As soon as her blue eyes met mine, the terror filled her features and I knew. I knew she would never be mine again. I didn't even speak with her, I just turned and ran back home. I am such a coward. Mother maybe right, I bring nothing but heartache to everyone around me.
Love is weakness, Mother says.
Emma slammed the book closed, she is weeping openly, her heart breaking for Regina, who never had a chance at life because of that retched psychopath. The woman that gave her life, then spent every breath Regina took taking that life away. She had to get out of this tomb. She jumped up, grasping the book to her chest and ran out of the vault. Ran out into the fresh air, the cool air that didn't have magic weighing it down, or hearts drumming in the background. She ran and ran until her legs betrayed her and she stumbled, falling to the ground. She covered her face as she thought about her own experiences with abuse at the hands of someone who had all the power. As hard as it had been for Emma, Cora… brought control and manipulation and a whole lot of crazy to a new level.
'Every bone in her body… broken…'
Emma heaved as she gasped for air between sobs, burying her face in her arms, laying prone in the middle of the grave yard.
It seemed appropriate. She was mourning. She was mourning Reginas' innocence.