Disclaimer: If you recognize it I don't own it. This follows canon up to In the Name of the Brother, after that I'm playing fast and loose with the "facts." P.S. Is it just me or are they outrageously inconsistent with who gets called what on the show? Bear with me, I'll figure it out eventually.
Forget and Forgive
Trees grasped at Snow White, branches and roots sprang to vile purpose, catching at her clothes, at her skin. No sooner had she dodged one limb than another swooped into her path. Just a few more yards and she'd be free of the garden; safe on City Hall's stone courtyard. One more step –something tightened around her ankle and the world turned over. The spindle dropped from her fingers as she instinctively spread her hands to catch her fall.
At the top of the stairs Cora and Regina ceased their spell and turned. Snow, now bound to the ground by the roots of Regina's apple tree, could only move her head and watch as mother and daughter descended the steps and strode toward her. She'd failed.
"Did you really think it would be that easy?" Cora taunted. With a wave of her hand the roots pinning Snow plowed themselves up, hauling their captive to face the two witches. Snow trained a glare at Cora and Regina, hoping she'd hear the spindle land somewhere else. No such luck but she saw Regina's eyes track down, flicker with recognition and then snap up to meet her own.
"And what, I wonder, did you possibly think you were going to do once you got to us? Surely you didn't expect to shoot us?" Cora continued, as the quiver strapped across Snow's chest was ripped off and tossed away with her bow tucked uselessly inside.
Cora took another measured step toward her. The crisp whisper of her slacks echoed loudly in Snow's ears as the witch reached a gloved hand to her heart for the second time. But then she paused.
"Regina darling, perhaps you should do the honors? You've waited a long time for this."
Cora's gaze never Snow's, but the younger woman could see Regina in her peripheral. Could see the deposed Queen bend, then straighten, her face set in a stoic expression.
"You're right Mother, I've waited a very long time," Regina agreed, her attention focused solely on her mother. "Here, take this."
Cora turned toward her daughter with her hand still outstretched and Snow White gasped as Regina handed her mother the spindle; point first. The sharp tip pierced Cora's palm through her leather glove and shock spilled across her face.
"Regi…nahhh." The name slipped from her lips like a dying sigh as Cora collapsed to the grass.
The roots holding Snow aloft released like rubber bands, plunging back into the earth as she landed roughly on her feet.
"Where is Henry?" Regina demanded, chucking the spindle away.
"With Emma," Snow replied, because she was still shocked that Regina had saved her life. Again. "He went with her to New York."
Regina nodded, dropped to her mother's side, and they both disappeared in a cloud of violet smoke.
The two rematerialized in the dark mausoleum Regina had erected for her father. It was appropriate, she supposed as she conjured a second tomb next to the first. Her father had loved her mother desperately once. Desperately enough that he couldn't summon the courage to confront her, even after all the love had been banished from her heart. Now he lay dead at his adored daughter's hands and she'd cursed with her mother with eternal sleep.
Cora could not be killed until Regina found her heart, and she had every intention of doing exactly that. Regina had hoped that somewhere in her heart of hearts, that Cora would seek the same redemption that she herself was. She had hoped Cora loved her as much as she loved Henry. But her time spent with her mother only proved that Cora's only love was power –magical power, social power, and power over her daughter. It was clear to Regina that her mother would stop at nothing to gain all of those powers, including using Henry against Snow and Charming and against Regina herself. As long as Cora was alive Henry would not be safe.
It was also clear that Snow and Charming would underestimate Cora. Though their plan had been far cannier than Regina liked to give them credit for, she knew they would never catch Cora in a moment of weakness. So Regina had bided her time until she could do it herself. There was no doubt in her mind that even the enchanted sleep brought on by the cursed spindle would fail to subdue her mother but it gave her the time she needed to find a more permanent solution.
Regina had no words of apology for the woman this time. Love was weakness, and it was one in her that she would not allow her mother to exploit ever again. She sealed the granite coffin with magic.
It was unlikely that any true love would come along to wake Cora but Regina had learned the hard way that curses were made to be broken. She was going to make it as difficult as possible to do so without wasting the last of her magic reserves. Without her mother's presence, fresh from their land as she was, Regina feared that her grip on power would dwindle again. Without a source to draw from, magic was difficult to harness in this land. And she'd need a new source if she was going to find Cora's heart and crush it.
Ruling out the fairies on principle and Rumplestiltskin because she'd finally, finally, learned that his price was far too high, she was left with only one other possibility. The next order of business would be to find her son and Emma Swan.
The door to the Mills' Mausoleum creaked open and the Blue Fairy flung her arm forward, releasing dust toward Regina head on. The former queen reached up to deflect the magic and was frozen in her defensive stance.
"You used up your second and third chance Regina," James stated as he stepped out from behind the crypt. "Now you'll be brought to justice for the evil you've wrought on everyone in this town."
Frozen as she was Regina could only pour every ounce of her considerable frustration and yes, hatred for them at that moment into a glare. Her only pleasure was Charming's obvious discomfort and Blue's refusal to meet her gaze.
The bar at Granny's was a far cry from their council chambers in the summer palace, but it was the best place for them all to meet since Snow's apartment had been decimated when Cora and Regina tore through the town. James' captains, once headed by Lancelot, were absent. As was Gepetto, who had confessed his betrayal and resigned from their court in shame –though they hadn't asked it of him. Snow, Charming, Grumpy, Archie and the Blue Fairy sat at the bar, while Red and her ever busy Granny washed and dried dishes behind the counter.
"We should have killed her when we had the chance," James said.
"Then I'd say it's about time we corrected that mistake don't you." Grumpy, of course, could be counted upon to push for the most efficient, and preferably most violent, solution. "Three strikes, she's out."
Snow was about to protest but Ruby beat her to it.
"Regina didn't kill any of us when she had the chance. And without her we never would have gotten rid of Cora."
"Without her apple tree Snow might have succeeded on her own. And Regina nearly destroyed half the town!"
"We got lucky," Charming agreed with the ill-tempered dwarf.
"She's worked for months to change for Henry," Archie spoke up. "And given her actions at the end of the battle, I don't believe she wanted her mother to succeed with her coup."
"That doesn't change the destruction she caused. Every bed in the hospital is full," Grumpy said, thinking of Nova who had been inside the convent when Regina had lit it up with a well-placed fireball. "We're lucky more people weren't hurt, or worse!"
"Grumpy's right and it doesn't change the fact that she cursed us all here to begin with so that she could harm us."
"And she saved my life instead," Snow interjected. "If it wasn't for her Cora would have killed me and our plan would have failed entirely."
"That's one good deed after a long list of evil ones," Charming pointed out. Though a part of him, the part that had seen Regina trying so hard to change while Snow and Emma had been in the Enchanted Forest and the part of him that knew rewarding her efforts with a death sentence was wrong the rest of him remembered that she had been shown mercy before, and it had nearly cost him everything he held dear.
"She saved my life; we will not execute her for that," Snow vowed.
"Then take your pick of the crimes we can execute her for."
It was not difficult to see where Emma Swan got her double dose of stubborn from.
"We could always banish her," Granny finally spoke up, just to break the tension between Snow White and her husband.
"No," Charming said. "Regina has magic here. We can't subject the people in this world to that kind of power, especially not if we're going to keep them out of Storybrooke."
"Well, we can't just let her go free because we don't know what to do with her," Grumpy insisted.
"But we can show her the same mercy she showed to us," Ruby spoke up once more. Everyone looked at her expectantly so she continued, "Rather than kill us all she brought us here to new lives for twenty-eight years. They weren't perfect but they weren't awful either. Maybe Regina deserves nothing more or less than a lifetime without her monster."
"How? None of us has the power to curse her into a new existence and who knows when Rumplestiltskin will return and if he'll make a deal for it when he does?"
"There is another way," the Blue Fairy replied though Snow had meant the question to be rhetorical. "We could use a blessing."
"Damnatio Memoriae," The fairy nodded. "Its affects are very similar to those of the curse but on a much smaller scale. It's called a blessing for those who wish to find absolution in forgetting."
"Could we cast this spell on her and banish her?" Granny asked as she worried a glass with a towel.
"I can't strip her of her powers. Even without her memory Regina, and those around her, will be safer in Storybrooke where we can contain them."
"So she won't be able to leave Storybrooke? Can a blessing be broken?"
"All spells can, of course, be broken but given Regina's history it's unlikely that anyone would do the breaking for her."
"So she'd be just like we were? She'd believe she's always been in this land without magic?"
"She'd have memories of growing up in this land yes, as well as a compelling instinct to stay put in Storybrooke. We'd have to be careful not to break that façade."
"We have to be careful anyway," Charming pointed out, "Now that outsiders can come to Storybrooke at any time."
"There is one other caveat: a blessing must be wished for. Regina must choose this fate."
The other council members traded uncertain glances while Snow White and Charming seemed to carry on a silent debate. It was clear that Snow was hesitant to demand even this punishment. But maybe Ruby was right, maybe the mercy in this case was to give her a fresh start.
"We'll give her a choice then," Charming said finally. "The spindle still has enough poison left for another sleeping curse; Regina can pick from her own brands of punishment: eternal cursed sleep with her mother or a new life in this land."
"Why not just execute me and be done with it!" Regina gripped the cell bars as if the power of her rage would free her. "Or can't the two of you muster up enough courage between yourselves to do even that?"
"It seems more than fair given the circumstances-
"Nothing is "fair" David, or haven't you learned that by now?"
"Nevertheless," Snow cut in before Regina could get going, "You saved my life again and now the debt is repaid. Choose the consequences of your actions Regina."
"You're a quick one to judge Snow, considering you never paid yours."
"I paid for mine for twenty-eight years. I lost my father and my daughter for a mistake made by a child. Don't speak to me of consequences," Snow snapped.
Regina's eyes flashed with contempt and fury and something, if one looked close enough, a little bit like fear.
"You can't think that you've defeated my mother. You've only distracted her temporarily."
"We'll make sure there's no one to wake her up," Charming insisted.
Regina scoffed with terrible laughter reminiscent of the Evil Queen she'd been. They weren't prepared at all, they couldn't even imagine what they would face should Cora wake. Charming's arrogance was his folly. The very cell she stood in now was a testament to that. They'd used no small amount of fairy dust on the prison, attempting to make it magic-proof but Regina could feel tendrils of power licking through the gaps in the bars, tempting her to seize them and vanish. That would not help Henry though, she reminded herself.
She weighed her options. Magical escape might buy her time, but if Henry had any shred of trust for her she was certain such an action would destroy what was left of it. With that option discounted, there were no others really. Damnatio Memoriae was drastic, but preferable to any amount of time spent with her mother in a cursed netherworld. Perhaps it would even truly be a blessing. The curse Rumplestiltskin promised would bring her happiness had only nurtured her bitterness. Perhaps her mistake had been not forgetting along with everyone else.
There was still the problem of Cora. When Rumplestiltskin returned he might have the acuity to take care of her for good but would he manage do so before she found a way out of her spell?
Regina was certain his priority upon returning would be restoring Belle's memories. Which, now that she thought of it, might be the very loophole she needed. The fairies' blessing was a delicate thing; rarely bestowed because it was easily compromised.
"Henry's with Emma?" She clarified, knowing the damnable woman was outside of Storybrooke with the imp.
"Yes," Snow supplied for the second time, feeling that if Regina had one redeemable cell in her being, Henry was at the heart of it.
"If I accept this blessing," Regina spat out the word, "I want to remember Henry."
"Very well, you shall remember having a son," the Blue Fairy, who had watched the exchange silently from the doorway, promised.
Regina scoffed again but it was only a token effort. Her eyes had emptied of their rage, her grip on the cell slackened. She'd spent enough time playing word games to recognize when an amateur like the Blue Fairy tried to give a non-answer.
"We could wait until he and Emma return," Snow offered while Charming stiffened in silent disagreement at her side.
"No." Regina had had more than her fill heartfelt goodbyes. She wouldn't remember it and Henry wouldn't care for it. Even if he did…If he did then she still wouldn't subject him to it and perhaps one day what he'd remember was that she had tried to be what he deserved; that she'd surrendered for him when she had never given in before.
"I want the night to think about it."
Snow and Charming looked to the Blue Fairy, who nodded.
"Of course," Snow said. "We'll be back in the morning for your decision."
Regina glowered at them as they left, playing her part. She waited as the sound of David's truck roared to life and then faded away before seizing those tendrils of magic. She had a lot to do.
At eight o'clock precisely Charming, Snow and the Blue Fairy entered the Sheriff's office to find Regina standing in the middle of her cell, head held high looking as haughty and regal as ever. They gathered in front of the bars and waited expectantly for her to announce her decision.
Snow should have known that it would sound like a demand rather than surrender but she flinched when Regina met her gaze with a venomous glare and spoke:
"I wish for Damnatio Memoriae."
And so it was.
Back Home Once Upon a Time Main Page Next