“Excuse me,” Regina drawled with a raised eyebrow. “My eyes are up here.”
The waitress’s head shot up and gave the mayor a wolfish grin. “But my view is so much better!”
“Hush now!” Regina hissed and glanced around the diner discreetly. “Subtlety is not your forte, Miss. Lucas.”
“It’s just after rush hour and the only people here are Granny and Leroy. Leroy’s too drunk to realize what’s going on and Granny knows about us.”
“Still…it is probably best that we do not broadcast our relationship where anyone could hear.”
“You embarrassed to be with me, Madame Mayor?”
“You know I am nothing of the like, dear. Private matters should just remain private.” Regina said with a soft smile. She took a quick look at Leroy, who was passed out in the corner and gave her girlfriend a sweet kiss on the lips. “Now. The mayor of this fine town cannot be seen lollygagging around. I have some papers that need to be reviewed. Will I be seeing you for dinner tonight?”
“Of course! I’ll see you at seven, gorgeous.” Ruby said.
Regina grinned at the younger woman and started towards the door. She gave a slight wave to Granny, who was lingering behind the counter before making her way to her car.
“That was probably the hundredth time you caught me staring. Though it was totally your fault. I know you always left those top few buttons unbuttoned for me.” Red chuckled to herself as she sat on the edge of Regina’s bed. She held Regina’s hand tight in her own and watched the older woman sleep. “We’ll wake you up soon, baby. Rumpelstiltskin and Belle are looking for a cure right as we speak. I know, I know. Trusting Rumpelstiltskin? It’s strange but Belle has been really good for him. I think he’s finally turning over a new leaf. They’ll find something…I know it. I have faith.”
“Hey,” Mary Margaret knocked quietly on the bedroom doorframe. “How are you?”
“She’s still cursed and asleep.”
“Right…but what about you Red? How are you holding up?”
“As good as can be expected, I suppose. I’m just telling her stories, memories…I don’t even know if she can hear me but - ”
“I did the same with Charming when he was in the hospital. I mean I didn’t even know him as Mary Margaret yet and I still read him stories. It makes you feel like you’re comforting her, making her feel safe even in her dream stasis. You’re doing the best you can and I know that means the world to her.
“You may now kiss the bride!”
Cheers rang out through the park as the two brides leaned in for their first kiss as newlyweds.
“I love you so much, Ruby Lucas-Mills.”
“I love you more, Regina Lucas-Mills.”
“To this day, I still can’t believe you married the Evil Queen.”
“Granny,” Red frowned. “If this is your way of comforting me…it’s not working.”
“Hush, child.” Granny muttered. She sat in her rocking chair in the corner of the room with her crossbow sitting securely in her lap. “Let me speak for once without an interruption.”
“As I was saying, I can’t believe you married the evil queen. She was downright malicious and despicable.” Granny held her hand up to stop her granddaughter’s protests. “She did some horrible things back in the old world…but in this one? Regina, the mayor of Storybrooke, is not the evil queen. She didn’t deserve the way you and Henry treated her after the curse broke. Nothing she did in this new world hurt us. Yes, she wanted to take away Snow White’s true love but she gave us decent lives. She doesn’t deserve this fate because she is the woman who made the floozy waitress, Ruby Lucas stop sleeping around by taking her on a date and making her fall in love. She is the woman who did nothing but love and take care of my granddaughter. She is the woman who adopted a sweet little boy and made me a great-grandmother. I can’t believe you married the evil queen but I can believe you married Regina Mills. ”
“Granny - ” Red’s words cut off with a sob.
The older woman’s hardened exterior broke at her kin’s cry. Granny put down her crossbow and moved quickly to her granddaughter’s side on the bed. She pulled the quivering woman into her arms and held her close.
Ruby watched worriedly as her wife paced back and forth in front of their couch. After a few moments, she pulled the distraught woman into her lap and wrapped her arms securely around the trembling form.
“Babe, breathe. It’s going to be okay.”
“Okay? Our son just ran away from home to go find his biological mother. Our sweet little boy stole my credit card to take a bus to Boston…to find this woman that he has never even met. He wants to meet his ‘real’ mother. What are we, if not his ‘real’ mothers? How is any of this okay, Ruby? Tell me!”
“Hey,” Ruby whispered soothingly. She held her wife close and placed a reassuring kiss on the side of her head. “He’s ten years old and just wants to know where he came from. That’s understandable. I mean the kid’s got your brains so he knows we couldn’t have biologically conceived him. It makes sense that he’d want to know. Plus, you know that he didn’t mean that. He loves us, you know he does.”
“I know he does.” the older woman sighed and leaned into her wife’s embrace. “But we could have brought him there or even invited the woman here. If only he told us that he wanted to meet her. What in the world made him go behind our backs like this?”
“Like I said, he’s a ten year old boy and while he may have your brains…he also picked up some of my rebellious traits.” Ruby sniggered.
“So, you agree? This is completely your fault.”
“Sure, baby. This is all my fault.”
“Who does that woman think she is?”
“Baby - ”
“I told her to leave and what does she do?”
“Regina - ”
“She gets herself a room at Granny’s inn!”
“Wait, I thought we supported the idea of Henry getting to know his biological mother. That’s definitely what you said the other night.”
“No, no, no. That woman needs to stay as far as humanly possible!”
“I’m so confused. I thought - ”
“She is - she is a bad influence for our son, Ruby.” Regina stuttered with a glance at her puzzled wife. “She is a ‘bounty hunter’ or whatever she said that she does. Does that sound like a safe and secure job? No. If that is not enough, then did you see that car she was driving our son in? Death trap.”
“Okay…her car could use a little work and yeah, she doesn’t have the best job. But she seems like a genuinely good person who just wants to get to know Henry. That’s all he wants so isn’t that a good thing?”
“No, because she cannot just waltz in here and break my c - ” Regina stopped abruptly and took a deep breath. “Our family. She cannot just waltz in here and claim a spot in our family. We have worked too hard for her to come and break us.”
“Ruby, please!” Regina cried out. She pulled her wife to a stop before the younger woman could leave the house. “Just let me explain!”
“Explain? You don’t need to explain anything, Regina. Or should I say, your Majesty?”
“I made a mistake - ”
“Well that makes it okay, right? You didn’t mean to curse our friends and family, so all is forgiven. It doesn’t work that way Regina.”
“I know, I know! I never planned for all of this to happen. Yes, I planned the curse but I didn’t plan on falling in love with you. I didn’t plan on adopting Henry and growing this family that we have built together. I know the curse was a mistake on my part but it has also brought a lot of good into our lives.”
“You cursed our entire kingdom because you wanted to take away Snow White’s happiness. You ripped us all from our homes to break apart my best friend.”
“I’m sorry. Please, Ruby. Don’t leave me.”
“I can’t be here. I look at you and I just - ”
“Henry hates me. He’s staying with Miss. Swan and he sees me as a monster. Which I know after all this, isn’t far off but…it’s not like I knew that his biological mother was the Savior, so there was no malicious intent behind my actions in this world. I’ve done nothing but try to fill his life with love. You of all people know that.”
“I really don’t know anymore. I want to believe you but…”
“I can’t lose you, Ruby. Not you too.”
“I’m going to stay at Granny’s for a few days.”
“I need some time Regina.”
“I love you.”
“What are you doing here, Emma?” Red murmured. She remained on the bed, tucked into the side of her sleeping wife. A steady hand positioned on the older woman’s stomach, acted as a shield to protect her wife from any harm.
“Look, Ruby.” Emma sighed. “I don’t want to hurt her. I may not like her but she means a lot to everybody, especially Henry. I would never wish something like this on his mother. You know that.”
“I trust you,” Red visibly relaxed. “I’m sorry. I’m just a little on edge.”
“That’s understandable. I, uh, just wanted to see how she was doing.”
“Not awake but still breathing. So that’s good.”
“Awesome, that’s really good to hear.” Emma said hopefully. “Also, I thought you might want an update on Henry. He’s safe and doing all of his homework.”
“That’s great. Regina would be happy.”
“Henry said that too. But, um, he’s starting to realize the severity of the situation. You’ll probably be getting a visit from him soon…and most likely a break down.”
“That sounds like my son.”
“I’ll make sure he stays safe until we find a cure and then he can go back home with you guys.”
“Thanks. That means a lot, Emma.”
“Of course, Ruby.”
“Something’s wrong.” Red whispered to herself as she poured a cup of coffee for Mary Margaret.
“What was that, Red?” Mary Margaret asked carefully. She jumped at the clatter of the coffee pot hitting the countertop and grabbed the shaking waitress by the arm. “Red?”
“I don’t know. I was fine one second and the next, my heart felt like it was on fire.” Red winced at the lingering pain in her chest. “Something’s wrong, I - oh my god. Regina!”
“Regina? What’s wrong with Regina?” Mary Margaret sputtered out. “Red. Tell me what’s going on!”
“My wolf. It’s calling for Regina, my mate. She’s hurt…Regina’s hurt. I need to go. Now!” Ruby growled deeply. In a split second, the woman transformed and a large wolf raced out of the diner and towards her mate.
Regina sat trembling in her vault with tears in her eyes. She refused to let more fall as she thought about her wife and son. “I’m so sorry, Ruby. I never meant to lie to you. Every moment we shared in this world was genuine. I’d say I wish I never cast this curse…but without it, I wouldn’t have you or Henry. I can’t regret something that gave me the two greatest loves of my life.”
She leaned back against the dresser behind her and closed her eyes. The thoughts in her mind were so loud that she missed the crash of a cage hitting the ground beside her. Before she could spare a second thought, sharp teeth bit into her leg. Looking down at the ground, she spotted the Agrabahn viper that was once caged. Regina let out a pained gasp and threw a fatal fireball at the viper. The room began to blur and Regina felt her hands begin to shake violently. She could feel the venom spreading up her leg and into her chest where her heart started to feel like it was on fire. The last thing she remembered before falling into a dark slumber was a pair of arms catching her as she fell from her chair.
Dr. Whale shook his head as he looked over his patient’s vitals. He conversed softly with Blue before turning to everybody else in the room.
“I’m sorry,” he started regretfully. “There’s nothing I can do for her. The problem is less medical and more magical - ”
“Which is why you called Blue, right? For magical advice on how to cure my wife?”
“Ruby,” Blue cut in gently. “Regina’s lifeline is directly attached to her magic. I’ve done dozens of scans and there’s nothing I can do. The venom has rooted itself into the source of her magic.”
“Whale was still able to check her vitals, so obviously she’s still here with us. If we find a cure soon, we can save her.” Mary Margaret asked hopefully.
“It’s not that easy. We’ll need to do a lot of research and even if we find a cure - ”
“When.” Belle asserted with a look of determination. “You mean, when we find a cure. I’ll start looking through the books at the shop. Then we’ll go from there.”
“Look, I want to save Regina as much as you all do but even if we find a cure…without her, we don’t have the magic to proceed.”
“Oh dearie, we most definitely do.” Rumpelstiltskin chuckled humorlessly. “I think you all may have forgotten that while Regina was the Evil Queen…I was the one who taught her all she knows. We’ll have more than enough magic to proceed. We just need to search for the answer. Let’s go Belle.”
The rest of the group looked on in shock as the Dark One and his love left the room swiftly.
“Belle is a miracle worker, that’s for sure.” David chuckled “Rumpelstiltskin, jumping to help us save the Evil Queen. Never thought I’d see that.”
“Well he seems to simply want to make her happy and she wants to save Regina so…”
“I guess for Regina’s sake, it’s a good thing she gave Belle the library in this curse or Belle wouldn’t be so quick to save her.” Whale smirked.
“I just hope they find something soon.”
“What do you mean, Blue?” Granny asked gruffly.
Blue sighed and looked at the group sadly. “It means that we need to find a cure…and fast. Regina is one of the most powerful people I’ve ever met but her magic is depleting quickly. There’s a lot of it but at the rate that the venom is absorbing her magic, we may have less than two weeks.”
“I’m sorry, Gina. I know I said I wanted space but…that didn’t mean I wanted you gone. That didn’t mean that I don’t love you. Please, just hold on. We’ll find a cure soon.” Red pleaded to the sleeping queen.
“Hey, you,” David said tentatively as he made his way into the room. “I brought you some dinner. Mary Margaret said you haven’t eaten at all today.”
“Hey, David. I haven’t really been hungry…”
“You said that yesterday and the day before that too. You need to eat something. Regina won’t be happy with us if she thinks that we haven’t been taking care of you while she can’t.”
“I don’t know if I can stomach anything right now.”
“You know, when Mary Margaret was under the curse…the only thing that kept me going was the goal of finding a way to wake her up. I know how you feel - ”
“Stop. Please stop.” Red pleaded faintly. “I know you’re trying to make me feel better, David. But it’s not the same. Mary Margaret fell into the curse with the lone outcome of her remaining asleep forever. If we don’t find a solution on time, if we don’t find it before her magic drains entirely… Regina doesn’t have the luxury of sleeping for eternity. She dies if we don’t find a cure in time.”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean…” David started with a grimace. He laid out the dinner he brought onto the side table and began to leave. “Just try to eat some of the sandwich I brought you or at least drink some water. I’ll see you tomorrow. Call me if you need anything, anything at all…alright Red?”
“David,” the exhausted woman called out. “Thank you.”
Ruby cooed at the baby boy in the carrier that sat next to her on the couch. She placed a finger on his tiny cheek and giggled affectionately as he scrunched his face up.
Regina beamed at the sound of her wife’s laughter and wrapped her arm snuggly around the younger woman’s shoulders. They were in an office at the adoption agency and today was the big day.
“Alright!” Dr. Christensen, the couple’s adoption agent, announced with a big smile. “All forms have been filled, submitted, processed and…accepted! I’m so happy to congratulate you guys on officially adding little Henry to your family!”
“Yay!” Ruby exclaimed as she picked Henry up from the carrier. She tenderly waved a little hand up from the bundle in her arms. “Wave to this beautiful woman over here, Henry. That’s your new mommy!”
“Alright, Mama Ruby.” Regina chuckled as she gathered her papers and put on her jacket. “Let’s get Henry in his seat, darling. I think it’s time to bring our son home.”
“Welcome to the family, Henry Lucas-Mills. We’re going to fill your life with so much love.”
“Can I come in?” a timid voice shook Red out of her thoughts.
The tired wolf looked over to the doorway and saw Henry standing nervously. “Of course, kiddo. Come sit on the other side of your mom. Don’t be shy.”
“I, uh, wasn’t sure if you’d want me here.” Henry mumbled as he took a seat on the bed and grabbed his mother’s hand. “I wasn’t sure if she’d want me here.”
“Henry,” Red sighed deeply. “You know she’d want you here. We want you here.”
“But I left her…I called her names…I said that I hated her. I wish I could take it back because I didn’t mean any of it and the last words I said to her were that I hated her! She got cursed thinking that I hate her, Mama.” the ten year old sobbed violently. He leaned his head gently onto his sleeping mother’s shoulder and took in her comforting scent. The distraught boy raised his head long enough to give his mother a kiss on the cheek before resting it back on her still shoulder.
Red breathed out shakily as she watched her son break down. She allowed herself to shed a tear before hastily wiping it away and reaching over to place a hand on Henry’s shuddering back. She soothed him with a kiss to his head before speaking softly.
“The last words I said to her were that I needed time. I hadn’t even had the chance to tell her that I forgive her. It’s been two weeks, five days, and eight hours since I last spoke to my mate. It’s been a week since she fell to this curse. I’ve done a lot of crying and praying but also a lot of thinking, kid. She knows we love her. If she didn’t, she wouldn’t be fighting so hard to stay with us. That snake venom would’ve taken her already and we wouldn’t even have a chance to look for the cure. So yeah…your mom is coming back to us because she is the strongest person I know and she’s fighting.”
“Why are you two speaking so loudly when I am trying to sleep? This is unacceptable.”
Both Red and Henry startled at the soft mutterings coming from the woman lying in between them.
“Regina?!” “Mom?!” They cried out in unison as they looked at Regina, who was slowly waking up.
“Ugh. It feels like a bus ran over me…and drained almost all of my magic. What in the world happened?”
“You got bit by a snake, Mom!” Henry mumbled into his mother’s neck, his arms wrapping securely around her shoulders. “You fell into a sleeping curse and we were so scared that you weren’t going to wake up. I’m so sorry for what I said to you, I don’t hate you. You’re my mom and I love you.”
“Oh sweetheart,” Regina sniffled and rubbed her son’s back lovingly. “I love you too, so much.”
“Regina, are you feeling okay? You’ve been out for so long. How are you even awake? We haven’t found a cure yet. Oh my god…it must’ve been the kiss. Henry forgave you and kissed you on the cheek. The forgiveness and true love must’ve combined enough power to wake you up. Why didn’t I of that before? If only I kissed you before, we wouldn’t have lost so much time. I’m such - ”
“Ruby…I mean Red,” Regina breathed as she remembered the events that had led to this moment. “I’m so sorry…for everything. I - ”
“It’s okay, you’re forgiven. Just, please, don’t leave us again. I don’t think my heart could take it. You’re the mother of our child, my best friend, my love, and my mate. I love you, Regina.”
“I love you too, Red.”