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Smile tho' your heart is aching
Smile even tho' it's breaking
When there are clouds in the sky
You'll get by
If you smile
Thro' your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You'll see the sun come shin-ing thro' for you

At some point most little girls dream of their wedding day. Regina was no exception. As a young girl she dreamed of her wedding day. She thought about her wedding dress, it would be white, made of the finest silk adorned with fine lace details. She wanted to get married at the local church, with wildflowers tumbling from the walls. She knew that it would probably take place in the castle, the vast ballroom, with a chandelier the centrepiece, it was decadent, but still beautiful. It would be a perfect day - her daddy would be a little sad, having to give his daughter away, but happy that she was marrying the other love of her life.

It was then, at 7 years old, raiding her mother's wardrobe, wobbling around on her heels and looking fabulous in bright red lipstick smeared across her face, that she knew those dreams of a big white wedding and a perfect life were meant for someone else, not for her. Her mother discovered her and was in a foul mood. Her mother was always in a foul mood, but this was a particularly bad day, someone had dared to tell her Cora was a charleton (which was of course true), and because it was in the company of others Cora could not employ her usual scare tactics. This was good for whichever nobleman had dared to cross her, it was less good for Regina and her father who would now bear the brunt of her anger.

She’d stormed into the room and seen Regina holding a fake wedding ceremony, between two of her dolls (which Cora also hated) screaming at her to stop being such a spoiled, wasteful brat, and that life wasn’t a fairytale. Love was a weakness, meant for people beneath them, Regina was a future Queen, and she would marry to ensure that. When Regina had dared to say no - her mother had grabbed the two offending dolls and ripped their heads off, before throwing them at Regina. She’d cried, earning her another slap, before she ran to her room, ignoring her mother’s screams. She remained in the corner of the room crouched down and remained there for a few hours until her father came to find her and coax her into getting some food. She wanted to apologise - knew that her father would have got a lot worse, but at the same time as much as she loved her papa she always wondered why they couldn’t just leave and live happily ever after.

“My love, the only thing your mother and I agree on is that life is not a fairytale, I believe life is wonderful, a gift, I believe love is our greatest strength, but life is not a fairytale and we can’t just run away from all our problems and get a happy ending”

She’d nodded but she never fully understood her father’s words or the full extent of her mother's cruelty until she was 18.

She was going to marry Daniel, he made her happy, he loved her, she loved him. Everything was simple, easier, apart from the fact that he was just a stable boy - it didn’t matter though, not to her.

When Snow had seen her, she’d known they were in trouble - she didn’t blame the girl, not fully, she was young and naive, and didn’t know her mother. She knew that the princess thought that she was helping, it didn’t stop Regina being annoyed that the little girl had to stick her nose into everyone else’s business.

She knew mother would disapprove. She never imagined that she would crush his heart right in front of her.

Part of her died that day.

Her mother, ever the heartless bitch, paraded her like she was a prize horse to the King. He’d also lost someone dear to him (of course her mother never said who Regina had lost or quite how recently) and so he would understand and be able to teach her so much. She’d smiled, because she had to, and because it didn’t matter, nothing mattered anymore. Daniel was dead. He wasn’t coming back. He’d died because he loved her, so maybe this was better. Or at the very least easier.

The next day, the date was set, the wedding was to be in 3 months, not giving them much time.

Regina didn’t get much input. That was a lie, she got no input, she didn’t care. She spent the next three months lifeless, wondering if this pain, this constant sadness would ever end.

Her wedding day arrived and she was told to stand on a pedestal as various mades pulled and pushed, frantically sowing the final diamonds onto the enormous billowing gown. She couldn’t breathe, the corset bruised her ribs, but these were the scars she had to bear.

She’d be the Queen, behind a mask, she’d play the part, she’d be a good girl, but she’d never be happy.

Leopold never once commented on the dress. In fact he never said anything to her other than the official vows.

Her life, her story was set.

Snow grew up thinking her life was a fairytale, a dream but to Regina it was a nightmare.

///

The thing about both nightmares and dreams is that eventually you have to wake up and the morning reveals one of two things:

One - the morning light highlights the harsh reality of life, illusions shattered, realising you really don’t know love, or life at all.

The other is that you awake to the sunlight drifting in, the birds sing a beautiful melody, the scent of coffee greets you as you walk down the stairs, the fears that haunted you are still there but you know that it will all be okay.

For too often Regina had experienced the first, convinced herself she did not deserve to be happy, and it was still there, but if her life had taught her anything it’s to love while you can, because it can disappear all too quickly (and yes she was very aware that she was spending too much time with the Charmings)

Today she was going to try on a wedding dress, one she’d actually get to choose, though Snow, Emma and Zelena would be sure to make their feelings known.

It was time to live out her fairytale.

///

She arrived at the wedding dress store, owned by Belle, Robin was right when he’d joked that he’d be the only person that wouldn’t see her wedding dress until the day.

Regina gladly accepted the glass of champagne- she didn’t want to be bloated but she needed something to steady the nerves.

“Why am I nervous, this moment is one I’ve wanted for so long”

“That’s why, you want this so much, the nerves are good - it means you’re excited. Enjoy this” Snow replied - smiling.

Regina hugged her, grateful that they could be friends, after everything they had both been through.

The first dress was a unanimous no - it was beautiful, a white ball gown with crystal detailing but it was too much like the one she had worn all the years ago, and it was too old fashioned.

The second one was better and earned a hell yes sis from Zelena and while Regina loved it - it hugged her figure in all the right places, accentuated her busts, and the slit up the side showed off her legs (which Robin had a slightly unhealthy obsession with) but it was slightly too sexy for a wedding. If she went back and bought it for Robin to rip off later on her wedding night then that was between the two of them.

The third was the one. It had thin beads acting as a strap which draped down an otherwise open back to the small of her back, the dress was made with beautiful silk and topped in a fine lace, a simple pattern of flowers and arrows repeating all the way down and flowing into her a short train. She felt beautiful.

Snow cried as soon as she saw it, “That’s the one”

Emma smirked“Robin isn’t going to be able to get his mouth off the floor, you look gorgeous Regina”

Zelena was speechless, quite a feat, “You look beautiful Sis.”

///

As she walked down the aisle, Henry at her side, Roland was the best man she knew that this would be one of the best days of her life

Emma was right (she’d kill her for making a bet with Will later about Robin’s reaction, at least she won she supposes) and Robin had to take a moment before he could say anything but when he did, he threatened to bring tears to her eyes.

“Stunning in every way”

Life is not a fairytale and there is no such thing as happy endings, Regina of all people knows that. Sometimes,when the stars align, you meet the person with eyes you are supposed to gaze into and you promise them forever.