DISCLAIMER: Once Upon a Time and its characters are the property of ABC. No infringement is intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Written for the Villain Big Bang, which sadly I missed the deadline and word count completely, but I like what I've got and figured I'd post it anyway. I didn't think you would mind regardless. Enjoy.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To Geekgrrl.lurking[at]gmail.com
Not With A Bang
The curse ended not with an Earth shattering bang, as Regina Mills had always expected, but rather it had dissipated with a desperate, breathless whimper.
She should have known really, should have expected it, figured out that this was how she would be brought down. Karma was a bitch after all. Regina sighed and stared out the barred window of her cell and shook her head. The insane thing was that she still wouldn't have done a single thing differently. She would never regret that one single, perfect moment. Ever.
Regina's eyes fluttered shut, blocking out her harsh reality, allowing herself to float, feeling as if she could almost slip back in time. The startling blue depths of Emma Swan's eyes flashed before her once more, and she gently smiled at the remembered warmth of those full soft lips pressed to her own, all but demanding her response. There had been a thrilling jolt of recognition, that something more was there lurking beneath the simple kiss. It truly was magic between them, and Regina finally let herself melt into it, felt it crack her open deep inside.
The roll of energy had been completely unexpected, the heat of it sparking and flowing between them, then moving through and into her, filling her very soul and mending the gaping wound that was her dark heart. Regina had whimpered, mewling and weak like a kitten, as the energy moved onward, twisting and curling along their veins, pulsing through every pore and out into the universe in a wave. In that amazing instant she knew it was the beginning and that it was the end. Of everything.
Her well cast curse had ended with true love's kiss.
Regina didn't really care, she was too busy enjoying her happily-ever-after, as brief as she feared it might be.
"Wow," Emma murmured soft and intimate, nuzzling close, not yet aware of the consequences of the kiss.
"Wow, indeed." Regina's eyes blinked open, the reality of her dark prison walls before her and she was left wishing for the millionth time that she could hold onto that moment forever. She really needed to find a new curse designer, that 'true love's kiss' clause was such a fatal flaw and always ended up ruining her dastardly plans.
But that was then and this was now. And so here they all were, their old lives once again restored, the much reviled Evil Queen tamed and calmly waiting in her cell, bound with enchanted shackles courtesy of Mr. Gold, the two-faced bastard, awaiting the judgement of the War Council. If she was lucky, they would kill her for her crimes, ending her torment. It's what she would have done, if the roles were reversed.
What she had done to the citizens of the fairy tale world was unspeakable. She knew it and there was no excuse, no good reason good enough for the degree of her crime. At the time the pain and betrayal had been simply unbearable and in typical fashion, Regina had stuffed everything deep inside, never to see the light of day. Instead of dealing with the pain, she had focused her blame on Snow White and that had been her undoing. She had ultimately made the wrong choices, went down the wrong path, embraced the darkness and had destroyed so many lives, her own included.
Regina should have listened to her father.
The Evil Queen shook her head, as if doing so would dislodge those memories from her mind, not wanting to think about that crime either. Not wanting to see her father's disappointed and disbelieving eyes in her nightmares anymore. Not wanting to look at how her naked ambition and lust for revenge had left her broken and, she had always assumed, unredeemable.
And there was the rub. That was the one thing that she desperately wanted and now could never possibly hope to have. To simply love someone and to be loved in return. The disturbing thoughts drove her to her feet suddenly, pacing restlessly in the small cell.
To be honest, she knew that the War Council would be doing her a favour by destroying her, putting her out of her misery. Regina bit her nail, chewing at the tender skin next to it, almost relieved at the sharp nip of pain. At least she felt something still. She started to pace the small space, moving around as much as she could in the shackles.
What was taking them so long? Surely no one on the War Council would vote against her death. It was justice plain and simple; even she could understand that, take comfort in that. Besides without Emma or Henry in her life there was no real reason to continue anyway.
Her heart throbbed in agony at the thought, never to see them again, unable to say goodbye. It was for the best really, better for them. Regina turned to stare once again out the barred turret window, high above the castle proper, looking out across the lake that surrounded it and over the mountains to the bright sky above. At least they were free and together; she would take some solace in that. The two people whom she loved the most would get their happily-ever-after, without her there to mess things up.
If you love something, set them free. The thought made her smile briefly. At least she could do that for them. Remove the stigma of her existence from their lives.
Sighing, the Evil Queen sank back down to the stone bench, her shackles clanking down around her. She had actually thought that the curse was unbreakable, that she would finally have her happy ending too. Regina snorted at her own naiveté. She knew that Emma would be trouble the moment she laid eyes on the blonde, she just didn't realize how much until it was too late.
Much too late
It was the damned red leather jacket that had piqued her interest and the sway of Emma's hips in those soft denim jeans, and who could resist the tall lace up boots that all but begged you to touch them. And so it had begun, against her better judgement, their attraction turning into angry words morphing before long into heated touches and then even hotter sex. Quickies in the Mayor's office, Sheriff Swan bent over her desk. Hard, pounding late night trysts, pressed against one another, desperate and insatiable, climbing to new heights, tormenting and laughing with each other. Lazy Sunday afternoons naked tangled together in bed, not sure where one ended and the other began, snoozing and watching the rain trickle down the window panes.
The sex was more than good between them, but that alone had not been enough to end the curse, this Regina knew. It was that next step that had terrified her on so many levels. She never thought Emma would go there. After all, the woman ran from everything, why the hell would this be any different? Regina shook her head; she should have known better, Emma Swan was the saviour after all, the White Knight here to save the day. And who needs saving more that the town's local villain?
Inside she knew it could never happen, and yet a teeny tiny part of her prayed it would be so.
Regina closed her eyes, the memories washing over her again, like the waves on the lake outside her window. She could almost make out the soft scent of her perfume again, the memory of it taking her back, remembering as Emma leaned closer to her, their eyes meeting and holding. Regina could feel the blonde tremor beside her, and she desperately wanted to be closer still. They both did.
"Regina," Emma exhaled her name like it was a prayer, like a promise she was making, swearing on her honour. Regina couldn't help but be entranced by it. She had thought it would never happen to her, not here, not now. It was too late for her, too much time had passed, too many stains upon her soul. She was a broken toy that no one wanted.
Except, Emma didn't seem to care about any of that.
For all their fighting since she had arrived all those months ago in Storybrooke, Emma had always been there doing the right thing, protecting Henry, at her side helping her deal with whatever was going on, whether Regina wanted it or not. Eventually they had forged an alliance, a dysfunctional family of sorts. And then things started to change, feelings started to blur, and damn it, Swan looked so good in those thigh high boots of hers. But Regina realized that if this relationship was going to happen, if she was going to risk her heart, and her son's heart this time as well, then she needed to finally come clean.
"Emma, wait," Regina pulled away slightly, her eyes moving, transfixed on Emma's tender lips, wanting desperately to know what they tasted like once more. "Before we go further, I have to tell you something."
Emma raised an eyebrow and leaned back on the sofa, waiting for her to continue. It was obviously something important for Regina to stop what they both clearly wanted.
"Henry is right," Regina shifted on the couch and looked away, glancing down at their hands, her fingers entwined with the blonde's long ones. Fingers she wanted to feel sliding along her skin, but afraid it would never happen again now. Not once the truth was told.
"What do you mean?" Emma asked softly, a little unsure, a little afraid, her thumb rubbing small comforting circles across the back of Regina's cold hands. "The kid is just going through a phase."
Regina looked up again, meeting concerned blue eyes. Taking a deep breath, she knew it was time. It was the right thing to do.
"No, my dear, it's much more than that, I'm afraid," Regina looked up again, meeting concerned blue eyes. Taking a deep breath, she knew it was time for full disclosure. She couldn't keep it from her any longer and she knew that it was the right thing to do. "What I mean is that Henry is quite right. There is a curse and I am responsible for it. I am the Evil Queen."
Regina lifted her chin and cringed slightly, waiting for the inevitable drama that was sure to follow, the very earth to crack open at her feet, or at the very least, an ominous rumble of thunder at her confession.
Either Emma would run screaming because she was the Evil Queen, or she would run screaming because she thought Regina was crazy and bought into her son's psychosis. Either way, she didn't think it was going to be a happily-ever-after kind of day.
Instead Emma just sat there, blinking back at her, trying to process what Regina had said. They sat like that for a few moments, Regina's hopes and fears bouncing back and forth the more time passed. Then Emma seemed to shake herself, her mind made up as her eyes seemed to turn a deeper blue as she leaned forward again with intent.
"Well, every couple has their issues," Emma gave a lopsided smile before turning serious again. "Regina, I don't care about your past, it's your future that I'm interested in. I have a murky past too, y'know. But we've both changed, and for the better. I want the here and now, not somewhere over the rainbow." Emma leaned closer, their eyes locked, wanting to be perfectly clear. "I love you, and that's not going to change because of some damned curse."
Regina felt her heart beat again, thundering loud in her ears as Emma closed the scant distance between them, bringing their lips together for the first time, slow and tentative, then more demanding, claiming and being claimed. Loving and being loved.
It was perfection.
For a single moment in time, everything had been perfect and Regina had rejoiced. She had finally found her happily-ever-after. And then Regina had felt a wave wash over her, the distinctive tingle of their combined magic pushing through her, her heart all but exploding in her chest. She didn't want to look, clinging instead to Emma and her words for dear life, as their world changed forever and the curse shattered into a million pieces around them
The door to the cell opened with a metallic clank, as the guards stomped through the door, ripping the Evil Queen from her most cherished memories.
"They have reached a decision. Come with us." The large guard all but growled at her.
Regina squinted and realized the young man had been her valet at the country club she belonged to in Storybrooke. She wondered if he hated her too. Likely. It was probably easier to ask who didn't hate her.
Pulling her roughly from the cell, the troop of guards marched her through the castle to the War Council chambers. Regina had known once the curse had been broken that she would end up here, like this. She only prayed that Emma and Henry could forgive her some day.
Regina didn't even want to think about her son. How she would never see him grow into a man, fall in love, get married. She didn't want to dwell on the shame she had brought to his life, the pity he would have to endure as the son of the Evil Queen. Her heart couldn't take much more, and she just wanted it all to end.
Finally standing before her accusers, Regina lifted her chin and awaited her fate. Death was preferable to the unbearable pain of a life without Emma or Henry in it. Regina shifted her weight to her other foot, taking in the faces of her many enemies. Jiminy Cricket was to her left. Next to him on his right sat Prince Charming, who didn't look at all happy, and beside him was Snow White, staring her down.
Regina straightened her shoulders and stared back at her old enemy. A part of her couldn't help but admire the woman's strength and honour. Regina looked away first, staring dead ahead and ignoring everyone instead. It had all been so much simpler when she didn't give a damn, when she didn't think she had a heart anymore.
Jiminy Cricket hopped to the center of the large oak table and cleared his throat.
"Hear ye, hear ye. The War Council has come to a unanimous decision in the case of The Evil Queen and her crimes against the fairy realm." Jiminy glanced around the room before continuing to read from the official proclamation. "It is the decision of this circle of your peers that you will be stripped of your magic and be banished from this land. You are to be exiled and forced to remain in what is left of your cursed world for the rest of your days."
Regina, blinked, letting out the breath that she had been holding. It was a most cruel judgement. A fate worse than death, trapped in the construct of her own curse, to live in that realm cut off from her home, with the memory of Henry and Emma everywhere and yet physically nowhere to be found. Tears welled at the thought.
Death would be preferable.
"Guards," Snow White's eyes narrowed and she smiled a sad little smile. "Take her away, please."
Regina glared at her old nemesis and knew she had something to do with this, but she didn't have the heart for anything else. No anger, not tirades of revenge, no nothing. There was just a bone weary sadness enveloping her and an acceptance of her fate. Maybe finding her true love had changed Regina. She just wanted to disappear and lick her wounds and try to figure out how she was going to get on with her life. If that was even possible.
The rest was a blur of forest and sky as she was taken back to the only known passage back to the cursed world, to the hidden realm on the other side. The Evil Queen had known that she would be beaten and spat upon by guards and citizens alike as she travelled. She had deserved that, expected that. As the prisoner wagon slowed and she was dragged by her hair from the carriage and thrown to her knees, she most certainly didn't expect Snow White to be standing there, waiting for her.
Was it to gloat at having finally won? Regina wouldn't have blamed her, probably would had done as much or worse not all that long ago herself. She wouldn't let herself hope that the woman would still kill her and put her out of her misery.
"A moment with the prisoner and then she is all yours," Snow White nodded at the armed guards.
The men reluctantly backed off and Regina straightened her shoulders, and looked up into face her enemy.
"She begged me, you know. Begged me! Desperate to make sure you weren't killed." Snow White leaned close, all but hissing in her anger. "I had to fight every single member of that Council to keep you alive, including my husband. And I will hear about it for years, but here you are. Merely banished." Snow all but spat the last word. She paced a little and Regina waited, sure there would be more. "And don't for a moment think it's because I forgive you, because I sure as hell don't. It's because of Emma. And for Henry."
Snow White circled, glaring at her, weighing, judging and finding her wanting. Their eyes locked a moment longer and then Snow White leaned in close again, yanking Regina's dark hair back hard, a hunting knife suddenly pressed to her throat.
"If you hurt either of them, so help me, I will hunt you down and kill you myself." Snow White growled. Regina swallowed hard, knowing that the woman meant every word. Snow White all but threw Regina to the ground. "Now get the hell out of my sight before I change my mind."
Regina nodded and stumbled towards the doorway to the cursed world. The door opened to a passageway leading to the underground tunnels of the caved in part of Storybrooke. She scrambled through the door and went on to the other side, as the door was slammed shut and locked from the other side, a huge wood bar slamming down to barricade it and the sound of a boulder being rolled in front of it, barring her from attempting to return.
They needn't have worried. Regina would not be returning to her old home anytime soon, if ever. She was as glad to be away from them. She crawled and struggled along the murky depths, making her way along the not very well marked route. She fell several times, wrapping her cape around her to keep warm. Finally there was a light ahead, the entrance to the cave.
Regina scrambled out, crawling through the mouth that had been dug out when the curse had been in effect and they citizens had been trying to find a way back to their old lives, to their home. Regina refused to think about all she had lost. She had lost everything before, by her own doing. She was good at that. She could learn to deal with that, eventually.
Regina covered her eyes a little in the bright sunshine and blinked several times as she looked up to see a figure standing there. Long knee high boots and black denim jeans, a red leather jacket and flowing blonde hair framing a beautiful face that Regina thought she would never see again.
"About damn time, Madam Mayor," Emma smirked and held out her hand to help Regina up out of the debris of the mine caves. Finally standing next to her, Regina simply stared, afraid to hope. She was suddenly pulled into Emma's arms and enveloped in her strong embrace, left to simply try to soak in her new reality.
"I'm so glad you're here," Regina murmured into Emma's soft hair along her temple, breathing her lover's scent in, trying hard not to cry. "God, I love you so much. I-I thought I'd never see you again."
"Sshh, I'm here now," Emma husked, pulling back to smile at Regina. Slowly she began to frown, as she noticed the bruises that seemed to be growing darker by the minute. "Who did this to you?"
"No, it's not important," Regina shook her head. "It's done now and we will think no more about it. I'm just grateful to be alive, and I know I have you to thank for saving my life. Snow White told me " Her voice cracked,
"The War Council was giving citizens the option of which realm they wanted to live in. I just don't fit in there. Really? All those birds and deer following Mary Margaret everywhere, it's kind of creepy. And I swear I was ready to shoot one of those damned chipper dwarves if they kept up with that singing." Emma grumped.
"But your parents, their kingdom. You're giving so much up," Regina wiped away a tear and nuzzled closer. "Are you sure?"
"Hey," Emma cupped her cheeks and smiled, brushing away some random strands of hair from her forehead. "I love you. I choose you, and this world. It's all I know and all I want. You're all I want."
A happy little beep sounded behind them, the car horn from Emma's yellow Beetle. Regina glanced over her shoulder and saw Henry's smiling face as he waved at her.
"Oh, yeah, the kid wanted to stay here with us too." Emma raised an eyebrow and smiled softly "I had to promise we'd check in with Mary Margaret and visit regularly, but I didn't think you would mind."
Regina's tears flowed freely, trickling down her face and healing her as they fell. If this was her punishment, then she was a very grateful woman. She would never take it for granted either.
"Granny and Ruby are here too. That old lady is pretty bad ass with the crossbow. Anyway, some of us are staying in Storybrooke, to guard the passageway between the worlds and just live our lives. Gold is off somewhere looking for his son, I don't trust that bastard for a minute." They slowly made their way to the car, holding hands, fingers entwined. Regina didn't even let that little tidbit worry her. Not now, not when all her dreams were finally coming true.
"Come on, Mom. Emma's gonna take us out to Boston for the weekend to celebrate. I can't wait to check out what all the excitement is about Chucky Cheese "
"And they all lived happily ever after." Emma whispered into Regina's ear, sliding her arm around her shoulders possessively and holding her close as they made their way towards the car. "You know you look amazing in that skin tight leather outfit; do you think you could wear that in the bedroom sometime, maybe a private fashion show?"
"I think that can be arranged, my dear." Regina's laughter bubbled up. She smiled as her heart felt light and free. She had found her way home to her family and all was right in this world. Now it was time to write some new fairy tales around here
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