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Dark As Knight

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SQ :: SWAN QUEEN :: SQ

SQ :: SWAN QUEEN :: SQ

Regina stormed into the infirmary with Belle right on her heels. There were many wounded soldiers on the beds being tended to by the healers. Belle and Regina spotted Red and Pocahontas and practically ran over to the two women.

"Well?"

"Well, we won the battle but we might be losing the war." Pocahontas said solemnly. Feeling dejected and downcast, she kept her head down, avoiding eye contact as one of the healers gently and carefully applied a concoction of herbs that more closely resembled green goo than an actual remedy, over her open wounds.

Regina noticed her Captain's odd behavior, "Is there something else Captain?"

Red was staring at Pocahontas, but the native couldn't respond. She just shook her head, closed her eyes, and gingerly settled back onto the pillows. The wolf spoke for her, "There were a lot of casualties, more than we had originally anticipated." The only casualties they had predicted for weren't supposed to be their own—it was foolish confidence, and a consequence they had to deal with. Some might try to excuse it as collateral damage, a natural consequence of war… but Pocahontas couldn't seem to shake it off. There should be no excuses for carelessness in her mind, and she was beating herself up in her mind over and over again as the scenes replayed, and she saw exactly where things might have gone differently.

Regina immediately thought the worst—that Emma had been killed in battle, but no—she would've felt that. Regina had never known the native woman to get so...closed off and emotional over casualties. Belle gasped beside her, and Regina's eyes widened in shock and horror when she realized whose name was on the list of causalities. Belle gathered Pocahontas in her arms, and held the warrior close. Normally, Red would've been jealous but she knew better... Pocahontas was hurting. Pocahontas gently, but firmly pushed the brunette away, saying that she was fine, but her eyes said otherwise, yet no one wanted to push her. Regina wasn't sure if she would have such a strong front as Pocahontas if Emma was ever killed in battle—it was stressful enough when the blonde was hurt. It flashed briefly through Regina's mind that maybe Lancelot was not Pocahontas' True Love, but she quickly dispelled that notion and turned her attention back to the injured woman.

"Where is Emma?"

Pocahontas then looked at Regina, something in her eyes...something the Evil Queen was quite acquainted to, trepidation. "Emma is in the library, she's waiting for you."

Regina's eyes slid to Red, but the wall suddenly seemed overly interesting to her, and Belle crossed her arms. The Evil Queen was not a fool, she knew when people were hiding things from her. She was gone within a second.

Emma startled slightly when a very pregnant and annoyed Regina poofed right in front of her. The warm, rising morning sun had been lulling her to sleep, though it was a dreamless nap she was having. Her body still hurt, so she drank some herbal tea and allowed the healers to seal her wounds, but she refused to use magic to heal her body completely—Rulf's words echoing in her mind every time she thought about it. She was in a fresh armor and clean, and if she didn't try to fight anyone, nobody would be the wiser as to how truly exhausted the Dark Queen's Champion really was, though her face gave away the fact she has been fighting hard the night before. Regina's eyes skimmed over Emma's body looking for any other signs of her lover being hurt, and when she found nothing...she relaxed slightly.

"She's awake."

Regina pulled up a chair with her magic, and sat down comfortably—crossing her legs, allowing her skirt to fall to the side, exposing her tanned leg. Emma's eyes dropped and they lingered. Regina cleared her throat, but she was secretly pleased that she was still attractive to Emma. Granted they've been so busy securing the Dark Kingdom's safety, they hardly had time for any sort of physical contact aside from sleeping in the same bed… Literally just that…Sleeping, as scarce as those actual moments seemed these days. Breaking Emma from her reverie, she asked the question she had been dying to have the answer for since they returned. "So…Did you kill her?"

Emma shook her head, "No. We probably wouldn't have been able to anyway." Then the blonde proceeded to tell Regina what happened right after they had left the kingdom up until the moment they were in the barn and Snow White was awakened by that ever-meddling boy, not sparing one minute detail.

"How in the hell did you get out unharmed?" Regina's eyes were back to roaming over Emma's body, taking in the details she missed before. Emma was slouching more than she usually allowed herself, and she was using a small pillow as a thicker cushion between the sofa and her back. One leg was stretched out too casually while the other was tucked under it, resting on the ankle. Emma was far too relaxed for just coming out of battle. "You are hurt aren't you?"

"It's not serious, I'll be fine. I healed the broken bones...but I left everything else alone. I'm just sore and in mild pain." She admitted sheepishly, "Trust me Regina. I've had to soldier through much worse before I discovered how to heal myself with magic. I'm fine."

Regina desperately wanted to press the issue, but another problem decided to make herself known at that very moment. Something much more irritating than Emma's pride. "She's tough Regina, tougher than that stable boy you were so intent on throwing your life away for."

Regina's head snapped to the right so quickly that Emma even winced—she could've sworn she heard something pop, and now she was thinking that maybe this wasn't such a good idea. Regina's face was getting red as she stared at Cora with a mixture of shock, horror, and pure anger. Emma didn't think this sudden war of negative emotions was healthy for her wife or their child. At least when Regina was being mean to everyone else during her nasty mood swings—she was actually happy, as sick as that may seem... This was something completely different.

"What the hell are you doing here!?"

"I'm here to start new with you my child." Cora stated as if it were obvious, and Regina wasn't about to blow up.

Regina stared at her mother, seemingly in a state of shock, and Emma reached out and touched her shoulder, but found herself snatching it back when Regina smacked her hand. "Ow!"

"You knew she was here?!"

Emma opened her mouth then closed it, looking a lot like a gaping fish, choosing to just shrug and nodded uncertainly—not sure if she was going to get hit again.

"Regina, my child...if you will calm yourself-"

Regina chortled in disbelief, "Calm myself? Please mother! Being around you makes me anything but calm. You make my skin crawl, why are you here?"

"Regina...Cora saved our lives out there, we can at least listen to what she has to say." Emma cut in gently, no longer rubbing the back of her hand but it still stung.

"Oh she saved your life did she? Let's have a kingdom-wide ball in her name shall we?" Regina mocked with a feigned cheery smile and tone. "May I remind you that she ruined mine? She killed everything and anything that meant something to me. She's the reason I am the way that I am Emma!"

"I wouldn't be who I am today if it weren't for Snow White...ironically." Emma countered easily, "But Cora isn't like her...she's one of us, we-"

Regina turned her glare on her lover full force and leaned forward as far as she could, and Emma shut her mouth. "If Snow White saved your life, even after all she has done to you...would you want to hear what she had to say? Would you?" Regina was practically in hysterics, but refused to lose it right now. She had come too far to let that woman tear her life apart or steal away any more than she already had.

Emma met Regina's glare without hesitation, and Cora simply smirked. She liked the blonde, she wasn't afraid of her daughter like so many others were, as it seemed. "Cora may be a wicked mother, but at least she loved you. Snow didn't love me, she loved the idea of what I could do for her reputation."

Regina opened her mouth to argue but her retort was stopped short—she knew that Emma had a valid point. Even if was being used against her. Regina looked at Cora, who had smartly wiped the smirk off her face, and tried to look innocent.

Cora and innocent didn't mix, causing suspicion in Regina's eyes. Regina felt a sharp kick in her belly and she took a deep breath. Her cramps were getting a bit painful, but she said nothing and just settled back in her chair. Cora took that as a sign to speak, and so she did, she even took liberty of pulling up her own chair. "I understand I have no right to say this, but I missed you. I truly have. When you pushed me through the looking glass...I was extremely angry. I looked for ways to escape just so that I could kill you."

Regina looked at Emma, and the blonde nodded encouragingly. It began to dawn on her that... Cora and Emma had spoken prior to Cora revealing herself to her daughter, and apparently whatever Cora told Emma...it was enough for the blonde to trust the woman to be in the same room as Regina and her child. Regina trusted Emma, but this revelation did little to ease her nerves...she and Cora went way back. If Regina were to really think about it, their history began way before her own birth, back to when Cora failed at becoming the queen she had always wanted to be, so she plotted for her child to become royalty; therefore, making it possible for her to live vicariously through said child. Nothing Regina had done was ever good enough for Cora, and this is what was troubling her. Mother's disdain for love and family… as she engrained into Regina's brain for an entire lifetime…Love is weakness. Now she was on board and wanted to know her family? Regina looked back at her mother, "What changed your mind?"

Cora sucked in a breath, but instead of speaking. She stuck her hand inside of her chest—startling Regina, but Emma was perfectly calm...and curious as she has never seen one take out their own heart and hold it. Cora's black spotted beating red heart pulsed gently in the palm of her hand. "I was content for a while in Wonderland...but as time passed, I began feeling lonely. I found myself unhappy being the Queen of Hearts. I eventually found a spell that would work in that world that would allow me to peek into this one. Imagine my surprise when I saw the White Kingdom's princess looking so savage and at your disposal." Emma blushed and scratched her chin, mumbling something, but both Mills women ignored it. "I watched you for months...and I saw your happiness, your terrorizing reign...and I felt pride. I was proud of you, and I wanted to be in your corner. A few moons past I discovered a light-travel spell."

"What's a light-travel spell?" Emma asked curiously.

Cora finally stuck her heart back in chest, "A spell that allows one to travel at the speed of light, my dear. You travel so fast between two worlds that the barriers cannot stop you...but you spend minutes in another world before you arrive to your destination… though those minutes were hours in the eyes of Father Time."

Regina shook her head, "Why now? Why not when you found this so-called spell?" It was clear in Regina's tone that she was still doubtful of her mother's motives and rightfully so. Her mother was the Queen of deception—and it was not beneath her to go through elaborate loopholes to see them through.

"I...I was uncertain. I did not want to ruin your happiness, but I wanted to be a part of it as well."

"I suppose saving my lot was extremely convenient for you wasn't it?" Regina wanted to laugh, of course it was convenient—everything involving Cora was always convenient for her… and for her only.

Cora looked down as she nodded, "It was an opportunity to at least get you to consider giving me a second chance."

"Mother...I will always love you, but I'm not sure I can ever trust you again."

"Just give me a chance darling, I promise I will be on my best behavior. Perhaps I can even help you both out of this situation."

"I've been the Evil Queen for many years Mother. I do not need your assistance, nor do I want it…" the Dark Queen glanced at her Champion and then rolled her eyes, "…against my better judgement, you may stay...but if you slip, even the slightest slip, just one time Mother, I will not hesitate to throw you out."

"Of course." and Cora smiled bigger than she had since arriving back into the Enchanted Forest, and as far as Regina and Emma could tell—it was genuine, but Regina still didn't trust it...not yet. A rather awkward silence fell over the trio and Emma pushed herself out of her chair without wincing and straightened out her leather vest.

"I'm going to check on my warriors. If you need me Regina..." the blonde trailed off with a small smile, one that was returned. As Emma was moving past Cora's chair, the older woman reached out and grabbed Emma's left hand, stopping the blonde's exit.

Cora examined the black ring sitting on Emma's ring finger, humming with approval. She had noticed the ring on her daughter's finger the moment she had entered the room and was simply curious about Emma's. Both rings were emanating a level of magic that was powered from its wearer, and Cora decided to file that away for another time and ask about them later. She ran her thumb over Emma's bruised knuckles...healing them effortlessly. "It doesn't make you weak darling...it makes you invincible." Cora let go of Emma's hand.

The Dark Knight rubbed her no longer aching hand and looked at her wife briefly—not sure if Cora was talking about their love or using magic to heal; before finally taking her exit.

SQ :: SWAN QUEEN :: SQ

Emma walked into the infirmary just in time to see Pocahontas completely ignoring the healer's protests and scooting off the cushioned table. Emma didn't see anyone else that she normally spoke to, and despite her own aches and pains she went over to help her friend, whether the strong-willed warrior wanted it or not. As soon as Pocahontas was steady on her feet, Emma took them somewhere private, she wasn't sure what sort of mood her friend was in, and she certainly didn't want to risk the healers' lives due to a bad judgement call.

When Emma's magic disappeared, Pocahontas was a little surprised to see them sitting at a bar in an old and apparently abandoned saloon. The air was stale and a bit chilly, but it wasn't uncomfortable. The place could use some dusting, but judging by the hand prints...it was occupied not too long ago.

"Where are we?" Pocahontas watched as her friend conjured up a rather large bottle of rum and two clean goblets and poured a hefty amount into each.

"I call it Home." Emma shrugged at Pocahontas' question, looking around the place she slept in for five years.

"Explains your manners." Pocahontas scoffed, and down half of her goblet in one swig. "This place could surely use a deep cleaning."

"Hmm..." Emma ignored that jab, and studied her friend from the corner of her eye. She waited until Pocahontas refilled her goblet before setting her own down. "Wanna talk about it?"

"Not really."

"He was your husband...it's just us here Warrior, I won't tell if you don't."

"I said I don't want to talk about it Swan." Pocahontas growled, giving Emma a sharp side-eye.

Emma nodded, and let it go...best not to push a warrior who didn't want to grieve over their significant other, who was brutally killed in battle. A battle that grew right under their noses, and never should have happened. Pocahontas took a deep breath, staring down at the dusty counter. "I have to tell our tribes of Lancelot's death."

Emma picked up on Pocahontas' tone, and guessed it wasn't as easy as it sounded. "Sounds reasonable."

"It should be interesting...Remember when I told you that our marriage acted as a treaty between our tribes?" Emma nodded, and then she slowly realized what Pocahontas was implying. The native warrior smiled and nodded solemnly. "I'll most likely be shunned for not protecting him...and they'll want me dead for it."

"Why the hell would they want you dead? It's not your fault!"

Pocahontas rolled her eyes, downing another mouthful of rum before answering. "Even if he had died of heart failure—we still didn't die together. The treaty between our tribes is over."

"That's...stupid?" Emma winced, "Sorry."

"No, I agree. It is. We were too young to think of any consequences that might arise from it...but now?" Pocahontas groaned, "Now I feel as if I have the world on my shoulders."

Emma empathized with the forlorn woman, as she knew that feeling all too well. "Can't you pretend to be dead?"

Pocahontas shook her head, "Too popular and high-ranked here...I wouldn't last five minutes dead. I'd be better off if they were all dead and off my back." Emma and Pocahontas shared a pained chuckle and continued to drink in comfortable silence side-by-side...both of their minds in other places. Suddenly, Emma sat up a little straighter, with a rather mischievous glint in her eyes.

"You said that both tribes would want you dead because Lancelot is dead and you aren't, right?"

Pocahontas wasn't really following Emma, and knew that they weren't drunk enough to be repeating themselves, so she figured the blonde had an idea; probably a stupid one. "Yes."

"I say we go tell them."

"Now?"

"Right now. I think if you got rid of this problem...you'll be able to grieve your husband properly."

"In case you haven't noticed Emma...we aren't exactly up for another fight, but I agree...it would be a great way to get rid of this tension."

Emma pushed away her goblet and held up her hands, shadow magic looming around them like fine art. "Someone once told me that magic healing was a weakness, but they were wrong. It makes you invincible."

Pocahontas bit her bottom lip, staring at Emma's hands warily. She trusted her friend with her life, but was she really ready to start a fight with two tribes? Two warriors against two different tribes? Pocahontas shook her head and finished off the rest of her rum. She slid off the bar stool, holding the bar to hold herself steady on her good leg. "Fine. Let's make this interesting then."

Emma raised a brow, setting her hands down. "What did ya have in mind?"

"In honor of Lancelot's betting habits, the one with the most kills gets three pounds of gold."

Emma laughed, "Bullshit. You don't have three pounds of gold...do you?"

Pocahontas held out her hand, looking smug. Emma made a noncommittal sound and placed her hand in Pocahontas, sealing their bet, and healing them both simultaneously.

SQ :: SWAN QUEEN :: SQ

"Emma is good for you darling." Cora commented casually around her teacup as she and Regina sat around her small tea table beneath her apple tree, enjoying the beautiful and warm day despite last night's tragedy. "Better than that stable boy might I add...Again."

"Will you ever let that go?"

"That I was right all along; that you could do better? No. You do seem to have a predilection for blondes, darling...but I highly approve of this one."

Regina rubbed her stomach, smirking with a bit of defiance. "A little late for blessings, Mother Dear."

"Yes, I suppose I am." Cora set her tea down sounding a bit regretful. She studied her daughter with her intense brown eyes. "My dear, how did Snow White's daughter come to the dark side?"

"It's not my place to share... I'm shocked that you two haven't shared magical secrets. You seem to be quite comfortable with each other already."

Cora picked up on her daughters grumbling and found it amusing, "Why my darling Regina, is that jealousy I detect in your tone?"

Regina waved off her mother's comment, almost laughing. "Hardly! I will be forever grateful that you brought Emma home to me. Do not let that get to your head, and make no mistake Mother, that proves nothing to me."

"Yet...here we are having tea. Is it so hard for you admit that you've missed me darling?"

Regina didn't get a chance to respond as one of her knights came running out onto the patio holding a giant porcelain mirror, and out of breath. "Your Majesty." The genie in the mirror greeted gravely.

Regina sneered at the mirror and the knight, and Cora simply poured herself more tea. "I thought I told you never to disturb me out here."

The Genie chuckled, shaking his ghostly head. "Oh I haven't disturbed you yet, Your Highness. You may want to take a look at this."

Cora was curious enough to turn around and see what the Magic Mirror thought was so important, as to break one of the Evil Queen's sacred rules.

SQ :: SWAN QUEEN :: SQ

The Resistance, as they had liked to call themselves, and the remaining Merry Men, including an injured Robin Hood, had relocated further from the Evil Queen's dark lair and into the mountains, where it was easier for them to hide in plain sight. Snow White hugged her son close to her side as she peered down from one of the caves and into the canyon that lead in and out of the mountains. There were dozens and dozens of nearly identical warriors of great strength and speed waiting for their orders and their targets. They wielded swords and axes, and a select few even had spears. Snow knew they could charge the Evil Queen's front gates with these warriors and give her a good fight...but a good fight wasn't what they wanted. They needed a solid plan...and they needed to decimate the Evil Queen for good.

Snow looked at her long time friend Blue. The former Queen smiled sadly and reminisced of old times. Now she was seeing her oldest and dearest friend as tall as she was...such a travesty, as her body no longer was alit with that pretty neon blue glow, nor could she flutter those delicate and airy wings. She was robbed of her wings...robbed of her very purpose of life; being a fairy that helped others. "Mom?"

Snow looked down lovingly at her son with a soft smile while running her fingers through his messy brown hair, "Yes Henry?"

"You won't hurt Emma will you? She can be really nice sometimes! She can be a good big sister! I know she can, you can't kill her! Please?"

Robin scoffed somewhere behind them, but he stopped when Blue turned to glare at him. Snow sighed, "Honey...I know all this is scary and confusing right now, but Emma is not your sister and she most certainly cannot be good. Her soul is dark as night and in order for us all to be safe...she cannot live. None of them can." for a brief moment, Snow thought about her once best friend, Red. She never thought the wolf could fall towards evil—but with her past, Snow wasn't too surprised. It just saddened her.

Henry's big green eyes started to get shiny and although Snow's heart broke at the sight—she knew that Henry was only a child and he didn't understand that not everyone could have a second chance, especially the likes of the Evil Queen and her Dark Knight. "Father would've given Emma a second chance! He loved her, why can't you?"

"Just look where that got him." Robin muttered under his breath as he pushed off the wall, wincing slightly. He walked toward the edge of the cave to look down at their magical army with the others, unaware that Snow and Blue had heard his comment and were glaring holes through his head. He pulled out the carved wooden whistle and twirled it between his fingers, speaking a little louder, "With this army on our side...we can avenge every innocent soul that has fallen at the hands of the Evil Queen and her lackeys."

Snow squeezed her son gently, not wishing to talk about this sort of thing around him—he had been through too much already. "Henry, why don't you go and find Grace so that you might have lunch with the rest of the children."

Henry looked like he wanted to argue, but one look from his mother had him scampering out of the cave and down the path down the mountains. "Now that the boy is gone...I say we go immediately and kill them all, while we still have the element of surprise on our side!"

Blue held up a hand, stopping Snow's response. "We should have this discussion further in the walls... the Evil Queen has her eyes and ears everywhere."

Snow nodded in agreement, eyes darting around. "Right. Regina is notorious for being a CHEATER!" when the sky didn't fall, Snow and the others walked further into the cave to discuss their plans for taking down the Dark Kingdom.

SQ :: SWAN QUEEN :: SQ

"That bitch." Regina snarled as she pushed herself to her feet, startling both her mother and the knight, who almost dropped the mirror, "Magic Mirror, inform my lieges to get to the war room immediately. Oh!" she gasped, and held the side of her stomach with a grimace.

"Your Majesty! Are you alright?" The trapped genie asked worriedly, though there wasn't much else he could do, as he was merely a head behind the glass.

Cora was immediately at her daughter's side, trying to ease her into her seat but Regina waved her away. "I'm fine!" she snapped, and then she looked to the genie. "You have your orders...why are you still here?"

"Right away." the genie drawled and disappeared, the knight also hesitated for just a moment before bowing and making a hasty getaway.

Regina took Cora's arm after a brief moment of doubt and whisked them away into the war room.

SQ :: SWAN QUEEN :: SQ

Emma wiped the sweat from her eyes, catching her breath. "You cheated."

Pocahontas put her bow on her back and laughed, "How? I saw him in the tree and you did not! I won fairly...and I didn't even have magic tricks to assist."

Emma grumbled under her breath, kneeling down to clean her sword on a dead tribe member's skin and fur. "What was that bet? Three gold coins?"

The Captain settled Emma with a playful glare, "I don't think you want to explain to Regina why you came home with a black eye do you?" The warrior stopped chuckling when she noticed that Emma had a peculiar look on her face as she sheathed her sword and stood. Pocahontas was ready on defense eyes looking everywhere for a sign of danger. "What is it?"

Emma shook her head, walking to the Captain. "We should head back to the kingdom, Regina's calling...doesn't sound too good either."

Pocahontas' eyes narrowed, "I won't forget our wager Swan."

"I imagine not." Emma laughed and threw her arm around the native warrior's strong shoulders, taking one last look around the destroyed village with bodies strewn everywhere, before poofing them back the Dark Kingdom to Regina and found themselves in the war room. No one was really startled with their entrance, but their appearance...was a bit disturbing, well Emma's was. She had gutted a rather juicy native, and she wore a white riding shirt beneath her vest. "It's not mine." she assured Regina, walking around the table to hug and kiss her.

"What have you two been doing?" Red asked, still sporting battle wounds, "Last time I checked, you two could barely breathe."

Emma sat down in the chair next to Regina, winking at Red "We decided to go invincible." Cora found herself liking the blonde woman even more, and was further convinced that her daughter had indeed...found her True Love, her Dark True Love. "So is this about Snow White?"

Everyone looked to Regina and she took a deep, shuddering breath, as she eased her way through another cramping bout. Emma easily noticed this because she was sitting so close, but before she could ask Regina if she was alright, the brunette pulled out a vial with a small piece of paper rolled inside of it. She set it on the table in front of her, "Snow White and her followers have somehow found Ares' whistle and they now have his army."

Red leaned forward, "Were they oversized and looked identical?"

"Yes."

"We can't go against them again." Pocahontas stated as a matter of fact and crossed her arms. "They'll destroy half of our army before the battle begins."

"Even with my shadow magic, I struggled getting ahead of the beast. Sometimes I felt as if it were copying me."

"Ares' soldiers are drones. They cannot act of their own volition, and operate on order from the whistle." Belle explained, "I remember reading about them when I was younger. They were once Guardians of the Light Magic Realm, before being turned into mindless war machines to repress the dark magic users when they figured out how to open the portals to escape their prisons created from light magic. Ares' whistle disappeared during the battles and the drones disappeared too...and nobody has seen any sign of them or the whistle for hundreds and hundreds of years...at least, not until now."

Pocahontas shook her head, sighing loudly. "Like I said, we can't go against them again...and even if we do win, there won't be much left of the Dark Kingdom to salvage."

"And our child..." Emma huffed, looking around the room before her green eyes settled on Regina, "I don't want to be on the run, looking over our shoulders as we search for another beginning with our child. I want him...or her to be safe...to feel safe. We won't find that here, especially if we decided to go to battle against those things."

"Are you suggesting we leave, Lady Swan? Run like cowards with our tails tucked between our legs?" the Dark Queen sounded as if she were opposed to that idea, but in her mind she was agreeing with her wife all the way.

"No. That's not what I said."

"Regina, dear, what is in that vial?" Cora had been curiously eyeing the vial since Regina revealed it and set it on the table. She could feel the darkness radiating from within the tiny bottle and it felt good.

"It's a curse. A very dark curse. One that can grant our happiness once and for all. It will take us to another world...a world without magic—a world where we can finally win."

"Why would we want to go there? We'd be better off staying put here then, would we not? With magic, we'll have a better chance of living."

"You all have trusted me all these years with your lives, haven't you?" everyone agreed without hesitation. "So trust me when I say we will all be better off in this new world. If you do not agree...the door is right over there." She pointed, and when no one left, Regina and Emma were satisfied. "Good. We will talk more tonight over tonight's evening meal; provided that is, if I feel up to it." when in all reality, she was famished, in pain, and just wanted to eat, sleep, and forget the world for a few hours.

"What about Snow White and the drones? Shouldn't we send someone to watch them?"

"That is already taken care of Red. When they move we will know immediately."

The wolf seemed satisfied with that answer, but it still did not ease any of them. They had a lot to lose, and Snow White was threatening to take it away, but for Pocahontas—Snow had taken everything from her, and she wouldn't mind seeing the woman suffer for the rest of her life.

SQ :: SWAN QUEEN :: SQ

Regina and Emma were lounging on their oversized bed, both out of their clothing and wearing something more comfortable—trying to relax and keep their minds from the impending doom that lay in the mountains just east of the Dark Kingdom. Well, at least Emma was trying, Regina was silently struggling to work through the cramps that were coming closer together, they hurt but she knew it was nothing to worry herself or Emma about—she just needed to lie down for a while, and maybe take a nap. Belle could handle the counsel until she felt better, of that, and maybe only that right then…she was sure.

Emma shifted to her side and raised the shirt Regina wore, that was her own, until Regina's swollen stomach was exposed. Emma tenderly cupped the bottom of her bulging belly and kissed the side of it lovingly. "I will never let anything happen to you...either of you."

Regina reached down and ran her hand through blonde curls, smiling softly despite the aching in her lower back and abdomen, though it was starting to fade into a dull ache. "Would you do anything?"

"I would."

"Even give me your heart to start the Dark Curse?"

"Why would you need my heart?"

"If I am to start this curse, I need the heart of one I love the most."

Silence. Emma sighed and pushed herself up on her elbow and looked at her lover without blinking or hesitating in even the slightest bit. "If it meant you two are safe, I would. Do you need me to, My Queen?"

Regina's hand slid from Emma's hair and cupped the younger woman's jaw. "No...I wouldn't be able to live without you."

"You survived before me, you can do it again." Emma turned her head and kissed the bottom of Regina's palm softly.

"Exactly. I was surviving Emma...but now? Now I am living, and it's all because of you."

Emma hummed and lay back down, rubbing the underside of Regina's belly, it was an unconscious habit that she had developed when the two lovers were alone speaking. "How should we go about this curse if we don't have a heart? It's not like we love a lot of people. Perhaps we shouldn't be the ones to start the curse...maybe Pocahontas can be the one to do it, and sacrifice Lancelot's heart...since he has already passed from this world."

"No. It's my curse, and I'll cast it." Regina said firmly, leaving no room for argument, and Emma most certainly wasn't in the mood to start one. The silence between them was comfortable and Emma had soon drifted off to sleep. After what had only felt like minutes, Emma was startled awake when she heard Regina gasp sharply and felt her jerk beneath her hand. Emma quickly sat up eyes darting all over the older woman's body worriedly.

"What? What's wrong?"

"My back, it's just hurting. I had the maidens draw me a bath, go back to sleep dear I'm fine. You need your rest."

Emma shook her head and slid from the bed, taking notice of how late in the day it was. She was more tired than she had realized. The exhausted woman stretched before helping Regina up from the bed carefully. "It's okay, I'm awake now, but are you okay?"

"I'm fine. Stop worrying." Regina winced when she set her feet on the floor and stood upright, her hand instinctively going behind her to support her back. Emma wrapped her arm around Regina and walked her to their shared bath chamber. Normally, the coolness of stone beneath her feet felt nice to Regina, but now it just made her uncomfortable and irritated.

Emma waved away the two maidens, and the young girls scurried out of the room, not wishing to witness the wrath of the pregnant Evil Queen; one even had enough sense to close the door. Using her magic, Regina and Emma were now naked as the day they were born. Emma cautiously eased Regina into their large tub filled with warm, bubbly water, and immediately followed after. She just felt the strong need to be connected to the mother of her child at all times for some reason. Emma was truly learning what being selfless was now that she had her True Love (Dark or not) and a child on the way. Her life was forfeit as she once knew it.

This was good thing however; the giving of her very life and soul was elective… her choice, and not forced upon her by her ex-parents. She shuddered to think of what her life would have become, had she not escaped the clutches of Snow White and Prince "Charming". As tired and as unsure of the future as she was, she truly felt that with Regina by her side, she was invincible. That was a feeling that she needed to hold onto for the next bit of time, and draw on it frequently, if she was going to be strong and hold her family together.

SQ :: SWAN QUEEN :: SQ

Belle sat in the Evil Queen's largest library, quite literally slaving over every book she could find pertaining to the Dark Curse; while Red tried her best to help, this was truly Belle's strong field. Learning everything there is to possibly know was Belle's favorite hobby, and that was a very, very good thing for all involved in the Dark Kingdom.

Belle wanted to know everything this dark curse was capable of, all of its strengths and weaknesses. Red finally sighed and set her book aside. "Belle, I think I can be of more help if I knew what we were looking for."

Belle momentarily ignored the wolf, finishing the last paragraph before shutting the book and turning around she excitedly exclaimed, "I've found it! There is not one, but two ways to activate the Dark Curse. The hardest and slowest way, begins with the heart of the one you love the most."

"The heart of the one you love the most? Like a sacrifice?"

"Yes!" Belle exclaimed, picking up the book and going to sit next to Red. "In order for the curse to work, the caster must use the heart of the one they love the most."

Red frowned, not liking the sound of that. "Then the curse will never work. Regina won't sacrifice Emma."

"I know."

"So what's the second way to start this curse?"

"Another heart, a heart so rare it is capable of many, many things."

"That sounds impossible to find." Red responded, feeling a bit defeated.

"This is where you need to have faith my sweet Red!" Belle was getting almost excited, "We are extremely lucky that Peter Pan did not get Henry's heart last night. It truly would have been wasted. The heart of the Truest Believer also retains the ability to not only set the curse in motion, it will also cause the magic to move much more rapidly than our Queen had originally anticipated. As we know, time is not a commodity we have a lot of."

Belle allowed Red a few moments to take it all in. finally the wolf's eyes lit up and a wide grin broke free. "Shit. How was Her Majesty unaware of this option?" she obviously wasn't expecting an answer to the latter part of that question, it was more like she was thinking it aloud…

Belle, ever the one to remain on the task at hand, didn't skip a beat as she replied, "Yes, but now that Snow White is awake...getting to that insufferable boy will be more difficult than ever."

"Not necessarily." Belle and Red startled slightly, both turning to find Cora standing there with a smug smile on her face, and looking every bit the older version of the Evil Queen. The resemblance was uncanny. She was wearing a different gown, but her hair was still pinned up regally. "With the correct execution, the little Prince's heart will be ours for the taking."

"You have a plan then?" Red asked Cora warily. While she didn't experience Cora's wrath firsthand, she'd heard of the cruel things the elder Mills had done in the past, and surely wouldn't put it past her to be up to something right now.

Cora's smug smile turned into a devious one, "Indeed I do puppy." Belle looked back at Red, neither of them knowing what to say, but again...what choice did they have, but to trust in Regina's mother? It wasn't like they had any better ideas...or options for that matter.

SQ :: SWAN QUEEN :: SQ

Emma had sunk down low into their luxurious bathtub and was rubbing Regina's left foot soothingly, while the other rested comfortably on her shoulder. It was supposed to be relaxing to Regina, and ease the obvious discomfort she was trying to brush off—not put Emma to sleep. The water was almost too hot, but it felt so relaxing, and the herbs used smelled so nice and made their skin tingle nicely. It was at these moments that Emma was glad that she was not a peasant, and had all of the comforts of the world available to her. Not for a moment she thought would she regret those years that she went without. They allowed her to become who she was.

Regina pulled her legs from Emma's grasp and shifted around until her back was pressed against her knight's front. Emma stifled a yawn, grateful that her tired hands were getting a break and wrapped her arms around her lover. Regina set her hands over Emma's, humming approvingly.

"I would like to marry you officially before we leave this world for another."

"You want to marry me?" Regina knew how deep their love was, she felt it on occasion—she just had to ask anyway, because it was still a dream come true for anyone to love her as much as Emma did, to bear a child with her... Regina knew that dreams (hers in particular) were meant to be shattered.

Emma smiled as she lay her head back on the stone wall "Of course...you're my other half. When I traded my light soul for my dark soul...I was told that I'd never find home, or love. Yet I did find it, in you… and I'd like to hold onto you forever if I can help it."

Regina smiled despite trying to feign indifference, Emma didn't really say anything romantic...but that was what made Regina's heart do a somersault or two. Emma was being honest, she didn't need to try and woo Regina because the Dark Queen had enough of that before the blonde's arrival into her life. Emma was just Emma, and she loved Regina—and Regina loved her back.

"I believe I can arrange something."

"Something small and simple, I don't want the entire kingdom there...I just want it to be us, and our closest friends." Emma hesitated for a moment, "Also, your mother… if you'd allow it."

Regina took a deep breath, and continued in a voice that made Emma positively weak in the knees because it was so devious, "I want to push her through another mirror, but yes...my mother may be invited if you insist. That is under one simple condition, My Darling. I want her out of sight...put her in the back. In the very last row, near a plant." she smirked.

Emma laughed loudly, shaking Regina's body with her laughter. "I love you woman! I'll make sure it is taller than her, and casts a shadow."

Regina cracked a smile, trying not to laugh. It was a silly moment—moments they've been missing but feeling Emma moving against her also reminded Regina of what else their relationship had been lacking for the past few nights. Emma, though, somehow knew what was on the brunette's mind.

"We can't."

"Why in the hell not?"

"Because… your gorgeous body is not up for it."

"I think I'm a perfectly capable of making that decision for myself Lady Swan. If I want to have sex with my future Queen, then I damn well will."

Emma smirked, dragging her hands over Regina's smooth skin beneath cooling water and cupped Regina's breasts, running her thumbs over hard peaks. "Well, if you weren't in pain... I'd be all for taking you to bed until the next morning."

Regina shouldn't have been too surprised that Emma knew. "How did you know?"

Emma just shrugged, still gently kneading Regina's breasts. "You've been so busy hiding it from everyone else, you forgot to hide it from me—not that you could even if you tried, My Love. Not that I'd ever want you to."

"Emma I'm fine...I promise."

"I'd still rather wait until you're feeling better, I wouldn't feel right putting you in more pain for something that we have all the time in the world for."

"Fine, alright" Regina grouched. "It's time for dinner anyway, and I'm getting cold."

Emma continued to smile as she got out of the tub first, grabbed a few towels, and then helped Regina navigate her ever expanding body over the edge of the tub. "You know...just because I can't touch you, doesn't mean you can't touch me."

"Two way street, dear." Regina scoffed, exiting their bathroom to go into their shared closet.

Yes, they were in their own little piece of heaven right then…even amidst all the surrounding hell in their lives.

SQ :: SWAN QUEEN :: SQ

Rumpelstiltskin sat alone at the head of his dust-covered dining room table, staring intently into his crystal ball, nearly salivating because he was so near his biggest goal. "Oh my dear Regina. You'll have to use Emma's heart eventually." He was sure of it, a woman like Regina...the woman he trained her to be, would do anything for her own happiness, including killing her Dark True Love. He knew Regina better than she knew herself. The imp giggled like a crazy man, thoroughly pleased with himself.

Waving his hand above the crystal ball he closed that viewpoint, leaned back in his chair with a wide grin, and relaxed while crossing his legs and intertwining his fingers behind his neck with closed eyes. Oh yes, he knew Regina would fall weak to the extraordinary power that the curse wielded and the promises it held, it was just too seductive to pass up. Alas, with every curse and or spell...there was a key, and Snow White's son was the Dark Curse's key when he came of age. Yes, when that time came— Rumpelstiltskin would be reunited with his son.

The Evil Queen's loss would be his gain, and he simply did not care about her losses or her happiness. He cared for no one but himself. Rumpelstiltskin would like to blame it on the darkness lurking inside of him...but he knew such selfish thoughts stemmed from much deeper roots. Rumpelstiltskin was tempted to check back in with the Evil Queen, but the overly-confident and cocky little man believed that since his seed was firmly planted, he needed to tend to much more important things, such as preparing for his new home.

SQ :: SWAN QUEEN :: SQ

Everyone at the dinner table was staring at Belle and Cora with a sense of admiration—and a hint of distrust towards Cora.

Emma cleared her throat, "It's a relief knowing there is an alternate way to start this curse."

"It's not like Regina would've used your heart anyway" Red commented, then glanced at Regina a bit uncertainly. "Right?...Regina, right?...Regina?"

Now everyone turned to the Dark Queen and noticed the look of shock and awe on her face. Regina felt her chair being pulled back and saw Emma's beautiful face filling her vision—she saw everyone's lips moving as they jumped out of their chairs. Red even ran out of the dining hall calling for the doctors, but Regina heard none of it. It was all muffled by some unseen force that seemed to be covering her ears.

She wasn't sure it was happening until it ran down her leg, and pooled on the stone floor around her heels beneath the table...and Emma was kneeling in it, not seeming to give a damn. It was when Regina looked into her lover's eyes and saw panic in those green eyes did she smile and break free of the blissful fog that had trapped her.

"My water broke."

"What? Now!?"

She wanted to be snarky and ask Emma if she had stuttered, maybe smack her, but she was too incredibly happy and excited to do any of those things and simply responded "Yes, dear...now." Regina just laughed, it was finally happening. She felt hands on her shoulders, gently kneading the muscles to keep her calm and away from the panic she felt creeping around the edges of her mind, judging by the sweet and strong smell, it was Cora. Despite not trusting her mother as far as she could throw her—Regina was somewhat happy she could share this moment with the older Mills woman, to show her that she had actually done it...she made her dreams come true. To rub it in.

The doors to the dining hall flew open, yet it wasn't Red with the birthing mothers and doctors like they expected, but it was another knight carrying a mirror. He skidded to a stop in front of them, panting so hard that none of them heard what the genie was saying until Pocahontas snatched the mirror from the overweight knight, and shoved him away roughly; demading the Genie to repeat himself.

When the Genie repeated what he had said, everyone's blood ran cold. "Snow White's army is coming!"

SQ :: SWAN QUEEN :: SQ

SQ :: SWAN QUEEN :: SQ