A/N: Hello there my wonderful readers! I think you will like this chapter, then hate it with all of your heart. I won't spoil you the surprise, but I'm certain you weren't expecting this. ;)
Don't forget to keep asking me questions, you know I live to make you happy! ;)
30. Eighty-third dawn
Elsa awoke some time before dawn. Regina, having dozed off a little past midnight, was not witness to her friend's eyes opening. Jefferson, on the other end, was.
So it was to Jefferson's soft words for the Frozen Queen that Regina awoke quietly, her eyes remaining closed when she realised what she was hearing.
"You scared the hell out of me... Why did you leave so suddenly?"
There was ruffling of sheets, and Regina imagined Elsa trying to sit up, her voice coming out hoarse, as if she had lost the use of it for a while. "I...I needed to think."
"I've let you think before. I thought you were willing to give this a go...and then you left."
"Jefferson, please...please understand... I am immortal. I am going to outlive you. I can't...bear it."
Regina felt her eyes prick under her eyelids and knew tears were coming to her eyes. She had had that conversation with Elsa once before. And she knew how her friend felt about letting her heart love the handsome hatter. She was conflicted between reason and feeling. Just as she was.
She heard Jefferson sigh and could picture him perfectly, his head held down as in resignation. "I am not going to let this be, though, are you aware of this?"
Elsa gave a weak chuckle. "I would not love you if you were not persistent..."
Regina's heart leaped in her chest as the word 'love' was uttered in such a way it meant it had already been said in other circumstances.
She took it as her cue to open her eyes, albeit pretending not to have heard anything.
Elsa had indeed sat up in her bed, her eyes a little red from lack of rest, the dark circles under her icy orbs receding a bit, while her hair remained matted by bad treatment.
Her eyes fell on Regina easily, and a smile formed on her lips. Her fingers loosened around Jefferson's on the cover beside her, and she outstretched the arm as if to call Regina to her.
The queen got up quietly, not too quickly, and went to sit on the other side of the bed, where Elsa brought her into a hug.
"What's that for?"
"You saved me. Both of you..."
Regina smiled and let herself be hugged for a moment before she pulled away. "What has she done to you?"
Elsa's smile faded, and she winced as if in recollection. "I remember a conversation just after she kidnapped me. I was alone in the woods, going back to town after diner at Jefferson's," her cheeks took a pink tint as she blushed faintly, "she wanted me to help her destroy this world to rebuild her own... But I refused. She insulted me, said I was weak, feeble-hearted, and she cast a spell on me. I fainted." She paused, brow furrowed as if she was trying to remember. "When I awakened, the sun was setting already on a new night. And I was powerless. She had taken my powers out of me."
Regina gasped and took Elsa's hand in hers. It was cold, colder than when she had been unconscious. "Has she taken it permanently?"
Elsa shook her head. "No. Like you...it came back after a little while. Then she sucked it out again. And so on. Until sometimes the fourth day, I blacked out from lack of food, water...and sleep. I am immortal, but even I could die from such a treatment."
Regina crossed Jefferson's gaze, who met her worry. She stood from the bed, looking determined. "I will meet the others. We will probably learn more about this Thea there. Jefferson, stay here. Keep Elsa company. I will be back later." She leaned down and kissed her friend's forehead. "Rest. He'll take care of you."
Elsa closed her eyes, already going back to a dreamless sleep. "I know."
Regina was alone when she arrived at the Town Hall. It was still fairly early, so it didn't surprise her much. She made herself a cup of green tea for the nerves, and tidied the office, placing more chairs around the room manually. Sporadically, she'd look down at her hands and try something a little more elaborate than her glamour spell, like poofing new clothes over herself. But if the purple smoke appeared for a second, it faded out of existence soon after.
Her magic was altered. She was no longer able to do slightly more complicated spells. She wondered why that was. But fortunately, the glamour spell was not a hard feat to do. She really needed that small luck.
One time, her hand went to her baby bump and she smiled faintly. "Is it you, princess?"
It was stupid to think her barely there daughter would answer, but she needed that answer. Was her baby messing with her magic?
She remembered being pregnant once before. Back when she had been married to King Leopold, she had fallen pregnant. Only to lose the child three weeks later. It had been barely there, so she didn't really know if it messed with her powers... The sole thing she remembered clearly was the pain, both physical and psychological, that came with its loss.
"Do you need help?"
Regina shook off her thoughts and stood straighter, watching as Robin entered the room and put his bow down against a wall, taking off his jacket. "I was almost done, thank you."
He smiled, a smile she had seen so often back when all was easy. The same smile he sent her way that day at Zelena's farmhouse. The same smile her gave her that day at the diner, offering her a drink she declined.
He passed her, knowingly – too knowingly for her liking – invading her personal space as he grabbed a chair behind her. "Let me finish this for you." He moved around the room and placed several more chairs, casually, as if he owned the place. "How is your friend?"
"Elsa?" She didn't wait for an answer. "She awoke not an hour ago."
"And how is she?"
"As we feared. Tired. But she will be better."
"And the Hatter? Is he not with you?" She heard the slight venom in his voice. Despite the conversation they had had the previous evening, and the story he was told, Robin still despised Jefferson. And again, she understood why.
Even if there was no competition. None. Whatsoever.
"He's remained with her. She needed the company."
Robin nodded thoughtfully, then moved back to her as his task was done. "Do you need anything else, Your Majesty?"
Regina gasped a little at his sudden proximity. He knew what he was doing.
Just as she thought he'd kiss her there, the door opened again, and she jumped away from the archer, as a teenager caught by her parents.
The feeling was not that different when Snow and David entered, little Neal in the prince's arms.
Any guilt Regina felt as they entered disappeared when her eyes fell on her ever-growing godson. He was wide awake, and his blue eyes, upon falling on her, sparked with affection, and soon, his little arms were reaching for her.
David chuckled. "Well, look who's your favourite, eh, little prince?"
Regina smiled genuinely, not missing the lost look Robin sent her way upon seeing her happy with someone else, even if only a babe, and took Neal from his father's arms. "Hello, there, my lovely! How are we today?"
"Very well, I dare say!" Snow snorted softly, a sound Regina was more and more used to hear when concerning her godson. "I didn't think it good to leave him with the dwarves again. He keeps fussing about as if he could sense we'd see you."
Regina chuckled and kissed Neal's palm outstretched her way. "You have a crush on your Auntie Gina?" She started swaying from leg to leg, her world in her arms. If others arrived during the time she cooed at the baby in her arms, she did not notice.
The whole group was soon gathered in the office, minus Hook who had been put on Henry-watch duty as it was a day off school.
Regina still had Neal in her arms when two Atlanteans arrived, in their so strange outfit, looking as if they had always been there, as if they were not new to Storybrooke.
Kida was one of the two, of course, and as she had done the previous day, she ignored the majority of people gathered there and walked straight to Regina.
The Queen watched as the smaller woman approached her with a friendly smile on her lips, one that faded slightly when her crystal-blue eyes fell on the toddler in her arms. A soft gasp escaped her lips, and she whirled around, for the first time assessing the company. "Whose child is this?"
David took a pace forward, obviously not certain how to take that...rather...sharp request. "He is my son. And my wife's, Snow White." Snow took a pace to stand by her husband, her brow furrowed, obviously ready to bolt and protect her son if need be.
Regina, who would protect Neal too, with her life if It was necessary, cleared her throat. "This is my godson, Neal. Is there something wrong with him?"
Kida shook her head. "No, not at all. But we thought," she glanced at her companion for a second, "we thought there was only one child able to help us." She paused, smiling again, her eyes locking onto the Charmings again. "Your son is powerful. Born out of what you call True Love, yes?"
Snow nodded, advancing towards Regina who understood her silent request and gave Neal back to his mother. He protested a bit, but not too much, certainly sensing the tension in the room. "I'm sorry, but...we don't know you. I mean, not all of us do."
Kida nodded, gesturing at herself and the man behind her. "My name is Kida. And this is my brother, Milo."
Snow made a soft surprised noise, and Regina met her eyes knowingly. In the Disney movie, Milo was Kida's lover, not brother. But as he stood there, not really tall but not small either, with silver hair that reached his ears and curling slightly under it, and sky-blue eyes, yes, she saw the resemblance.
David, ignoring the whole commotion, nodded. "I am David. Nolan. This is my wife, Snow, and our son, Neal. Our daughter, Emma, is over there." Kida nodded to each party, although Regina had a feeling she already knew much, if her lack of surprise at Emma's age was any clue. "This is Rumpelstiltskin, and Tinkerbell. You already know Regina, and Robin Hood."
Regina didn't miss Tink's sudden uneasiness as Milo's eyes darted over her form, but she decided not to pay attention to such...trivial things as attraction.
What mattered was Thea, and what she intended to do to the town.
"Yesterday, you said you'd tell us everything you knew about Thea."
Kida's eyes went back to Regina and she nodded. "I did. And I will." She paused, looking at each individuality as if searching for something, then back at the Queen, who apparently, she thought to be the...leader of their group. "Thea is the only daughter of the sea-god Poseidon."
"I thought Greek gods were kind of a myth or something."
Kida looked over at Emma and tilted her head to the side. "You have quite a difficulty believing what is right under your nose, Emma Nolan." Emma's eyes, along with her parents', widened at her firstname being put together with David's last, but they didn't comment on it.
"Poseidon, along with his other...more famous brothers and sisters, are our gods and leaders. In our realm, each god has responsibility over one or several cities that, in return, offer him treats."
"But Atlantis...has claimed its independence, hasn't it?"
Kida met Snow's eyes this time, then nodded. "You are well informed. It was a long time ago. Our god, Poseidon, was neglecting us. However, despite his lack of...interest in us, we developed quite the civilization. To punish us, Poseidon cursed our city to be lost under water."
"I still don't understand what Thea has to do with all this."
"Thea was banished to Atlantis by her father. Her powers too dangerous, her nature too impetuous to become a god in her own right. She was part of our curse. However, as I said before, we had managed to create some kind of magic ourselves, and were mostly able to fight Thea's many attempts to rule our city." Milo shifted on his feet at his sister's words, and Regina's brow furrowed. Was Kida hiding something? "Almost a year ago, we captured her and put her on trial. She was sentenced to exile. Unfortunately, some of our men, working for Thea, sabotaged the device that creates portals, and she was sent here instead of Hades' realm of Hell."
Rumpel cleared his throat. "So your own presence here is what? An act of...solidarity? You wanted to help the poor mortals to vanquish her?"
Kida shook her head. "No. Thea, before she was sent here, unleashed a tidal wave that washed over our city, destroying most of it. She stole the Heart of Atlantis and hid it where we do not know. We are here to save our realm and city. To capture Thea and bring her back with us."
Regina nodded, understanding a little more. "She said something about your weapons being able to wound her."
"She was right. Our weapons, arrow, spears, are made out of Atlantean crystal. It had been granted to us by her father. It is the sole material known to us that can kill demigods."
There was a pause during which everyone in the room assessed Kida's words. All started to make sense: their abduction of Regina, Kida's words to her then, and Thea's wish to kill all life forms to create her own perfect realm.
Except one thing...
"I don't understand what my son has to do with this..."
Kida's eyes met Snow again. "Your son has magic. As does Regina Mills' unborn child."
There was a unique gasp in the room. Regina's face lost all colour as she searched for Robin's gaze across the room. He too was as pale as a ghost, and when his eyes fell to her stomach and saw, she knew it, a flat belly, she knew. He thought it was Jefferson's. Because if it had been his...there'd be a belly. Which he didn't see was there.
Kida caught the tension and met the archer's look. Her brow furrowed and she looked back at Regina. "I am sorry. I thought everyone knew."
Regina shook her head and forced a smile on her lips. "That's alright, Kida. Everyone would have known one day or another anyway." She cleared her throat. "So...how come Neal and my baby have magic?"
"Born out this kind of magic, most children do. You," she looked over at Emma, "could help too, but your magic is less pure, less...young that what might be required."
Snow gritted her teeth, her hand cradling Neal's head as if protecting him. "Someone already tried to use Neal's condition to do magic. She took him from me mere minutes after he was born."
Kida's eyes widened. "I would never take an infant child from his mother. Your son, and your unborn child," she looked back at Regina, "are safe. So long as she does not understand their use for us. Our weapons may be able to wound her, but she knows them and has learnt how to avoid them."
"I still don't understand how you intend children to help you."
Kida smirked mischievously, something so unexpected Regina felt uneasy at once. "Don't worry. I do know what I am doing." She looked over at her brother. "Milo could show you, but it could be dangerous for your child's health."
"Show me?" Regina's brow furrowed again.
"Yes. Milo and I do wield our own kind of magic, thanks to our pendants." She tucked her crystal out from her tunic, and it glowed a surreal shade of blue. "I can heal almost any wound. Milo can communicate with others...in spirit."
"A telepath?" Rumpel seemed a little too enthusiastic at that.
"Somewhat." Kida turned back to Regina. "If you do not have more questions, I suggest we head back to our camp. There is still much to do to trail Thea to her new location."
Regina nodded. "I still have one question though. Do you think she'll go after Elsa again?"
Kida shrugged. "She may. Or may not. I'm afraid her deed has already been done. Your ice-bending friend was not powerful enough to prevent Thea from stealing her abilities. That's what she does. She steals others' powers." She bowed her head, then Milo and her backed away from the room, leaving the gang alone.
Except when Regina's eyes darted to where Robin had been standing, she was met with an empty spot.
He had left.
A/N2: I told you you'd hate the end... ^^ But chill out, people, I swore it'd have a happy ending, and I'm telling you now: it's getting closer! :D
Next chapter: We get into Marian's head for once (and probably for the sole time) as Robin gets home after learning about Regina's pregnancy...